Time: Early Evening Location: Caesonia Castle Ball Room in Sorian
The elegant and lofty ballroom of the Caesonia Kingdom had impressed for centuries and King Edin had no doubt it would not succeed now to delight the eyes of the Alidasht people in the forthcoming arrival. Gilded structures lined the pillars on the wall as well as brilliant lit torches. Blue curtains framed each archway. The magnificently large open floor reflected the figures as they moved about. Upon the balcony, that could be accessed from the grand staircase, were musicians who kept the vast room alive with the sound of a glorious melody.
Lining the sides of the ballroom were long tables covered in a large assortment of delicacies that were sure to entice any attending. A large glistening hog with a juicy apple adorning its mouth served as the centerpiece of one table. Surrounding it were delicious roast vegetables of all varieties hand-picked from the finest farms of Caesonia. Not knowing what these exotic royals preferred, it had been ordered that every type of exquisite food known to his chefs would be made available. Pheasants, beef, and even frog legs were laid out in amazing works of art, clearly done so purely to impress.
King Edin Danrose had held this ball to welcome the royal children of Alidasht, who would be spending the season with them. He was certain to impress. A man of his standards and reputation made sure he never failed to do so. The Varian Kingdom had been invited too as he wanted to make sure his sons had their options open. They had certainly come of age to start browsing for wives, despite his hopes to keep their relations within the Kingdom. He sat on a magnificent throne in the back of the room gazing upon the people as they danced, scanning the room for his anticipated visitors. Queen Alibeth was at his side on a smaller throne as she gripped its intricately-detailed handles, her expression unreadable. The clothes of the couple were, of course, extravagant and over the top. Alibeth was never seen without her decadent earrings and oversized crystal necklaces; Edin never without his humongous, jeweled crown and long red cape. It was expected that their sons Prince Wulfric and Prince Azer would be timely and arrive quite soon.
Count Calbert was observed entering, his pale beautiful wife Liliane on his arm. All eyes were on them as they entered gracefully. Sweet Countess Lily dressed humbly yet still looked angelic as she always did. Count Calbert had the same smirk tugging on his lips as his deep blue eyes hovered the room, taking it in like an alert wolf as he sized up a clearing for prey. Their stunning daughter Lady Violet was sure to follow not far behind. The sight of Count Calbert Damien himself stirred conversation amongst the guests as they speculated whether or not Duke Lorenzo Vikena would make a showing after disappearing for so long. It had not been long ago that Calbert and Lorenzo seemed to always be sighted around each other. Many admired Calbert’s generous heart as he had been there for Lorenzo when no one else wanted to. Various other Caesonia nobles made their way into the room from all over the Kingdom. Once their line had finished, in came the Varian Kingdom nobles.
King Alixandre Camilia arrived next, his hand enclosed with his dazzling wife Queen Rosa Camilia. He greeted those around the entrance with pleasantries and handshakes. The blonde-haired, kind-faced man was never seen without his smile and seemed to treat strangers like dear friends. A hush loomed over the room as Queen Rosa’s youthful ethereal beauty always invoked feelings among all she graced her presence with. She too smiled and greeted all with her husband with poise. Necks were craned as guests looked for the sight of the enchanting Princess Beatrice and Prince Felix of the Varian Kingdom.
Chatter once again commenced as the often gossiped about Duchesses of the Varian Kingdom made their quiet entrance. Despite the rumors that circulated across the room, Duchess Alice Smithwood wore a smile of true happiness as she pulled her darling Valerie into a dance almost immediately upon entry. It was clear when the two were around each other, no one else existed. Curiosity was rampant for how Lord Leo and Lady Thea would look as it had been some time since the two had entered the Caesonia Kingdom.
While all eyes were on the Varian Duchesses, Count Sebastian Blackwood and his niece, Lady Mina Blackwood, slipped into the ballroom on silent feet. Surprisingly, despite reports of the Varian Count being rather sickly, he looked healthy as ever. A pleasant smile lived on his face as he quietly said something to his niece before departing from her to speak with an acquaintance he’d spotted across the room. Lady Mina seemed to watch him briefly, a small bit of concern evident on her face before she moved to retrieve a drink and stand off to the side observing people.
There was a long pause from people entering the ballroom until a servant suddenly entered, looking a little frantic before trying to compose themselves as they swiftly made their way towards King Edin. Eyes fell on the servant, confusion apparent, as they watched the man whisper something to the king. Before he could finish, however, the doors of the ballroom burst open as an extravagant entourage of humans and animals entered the ballroom. First to enter were veiled women with baskets of flower petals, dancing around as they spread the flower petals. Next to enter were armed guards who eyed all in the room, searching for any threat. Finally, carried on a palanquin, entered Sultan Raif Kadir, dressed in exotic purple and gold robes and an adorable monkey on his shoulder he was feeding dates. Beside him entered his Grand Vizier and brother, Hafiz Kadir, dressed in a similar fashion with a smug smirk on his face as he watched the expressions of others. The plethora of children of the sultan was sure to follow, perhaps even with animals of their own.
The Danroses, the guests, and all were in awe and disbelief.
As the first prince of Caesonia, it was only to be expected that Wulfric arrived at the ballroom after his parents, shortly before the early invitees would arrive. His outfit was predominantly white; dress shoes, trousers, shirt, vest, jacket, gloves, cravat, and fur-lined cloak included. There were tasteful embellishments woven into the outfit in golden thread, and the lighting in the room glinted off of attire to a truly magnificent effect. His only accessories were his cufflinks and a thin circlet of interwoven metal, both crafted from gold.
As the guests begun trickling in, he strolled towards them, heeled dress-shoes clicking upon the polished floor, cloak gently swaying behind him. The Damiens were one of the first to make their way in, and thus, the first among those Wulfric exchanged words with. “Count Damien, a pleasure. Your promptness does you credit, as per the usual. Though I doubt you require it, I do wish you all the best in your endeavors with Duke Vikena; with your influence, that man may yet surprise us all.”
Alongside the words was a nod/bow of the prerequisite degree, perhaps a handshake if Calbert seemed inclined to it. His wife would receive an air-kiss upon the back of her hand when she laid it upon his offered palm, as protocol dictated. “Countess Damien, enchanted. I have seen it many times, yet your natural beauty manages to astound each and every time. I am afraid the rest of us can hardly dream to match it, regardless of how much effort we expend,” a small, playful smile graced his lips as honeyed words glided past them.
Soon after, Wolfric’s gaze landed upon Violet Damien, who was attending with her parents. “Ah, and I see your lovely daughter has accompanied you as well. Truly a pleasant surprise,” this was said to the three of them, mostly as a declaration of intent that he would greet her directly as well. Violet then received an air-kiss above her hand just as her mother had, and a tailored compliment as well. “My lady, your presence is quite a rarity at these events, but all the more appreciated for it. I must say, the rumours of your allure are inadequate. Even the sight of a starred sky, no matter how majestic, entirely pales in comparison to you,” he bowed, then politely excused myself. “Alas, I am unable to linger at this moment, but perhaps you shall allow me to make amends after I am done welcoming the rest.”
It had been fortuitous that the Damiens had been so early; the Count was a close ally of King Edin. Adelard took him to be the kind of man who was the most likely to usurp the throne – or play shadow-king, as he may or may not be already doing. As much as he agreed with his father that a marriage within their kingdom was best, and as advantageous as strengthening the alliance with Count Damien might be, marrying his daughter would be akin to wielding a double-edged sword. However, it was not an option to be disregarded out of hand, and one he had to appear he was considering.
Following that short conversation, he proceeded to continue greeting the lords and ladies as they came in order. He exchanged brief pleasantries with those more familiar to him, but ensuring that no one of import would be overlooked. It was not strictly necessary for him to do so, but today was a special occasion. Besides, he preferred making his presence known by mingling rather than standing aside. It made him appear personable, and brought him within hearing range of potentially intriguing tid-bits of information. Not that he expected to unearth any such thing during the initial meet-and-greet, of course.
In the case of the King and Queen of Varian, who were his social superiors, Wulfric couldn’t approach them at his leisure. However, that was not to be said he did not take any initiative; no, quite the opposite. He simply arranged to be in exactly the place at the right time for them to happen upon him. It happened quite naturally, despite an underlying design guiding him, since welcoming the guests brought him to the vicinity of the entrance regardless.
After the entourage from Varian, there was an interlude, during which Adelard had time to approach personal acquaintances for further conversation. He was looking forward to speaking with Lord Leo, with whom he’d gone on a hunt or two together, and who had been unable to visit their Kingdom in some time. If at all possible, however, he would prefer to avoid his sister, so he knew he’d likely have to wait a while for that to happen.
Some time later, the expected guests from Alidasht arrived. Their extravagant entrance caused all kinds of commotion. Wulfric doubted his father appreciated being shown up like that, but he was unlikely to criticize these most esteemed of visitors. This was a monumentous historical occurrence after all, and no one could say that the Alidasht sultan had not ensured to make it a memorable one as well.
The animals are a bit much, though, aren’t they? Despite his silent dubiousness, Allard showed no hint of distaste outwardly. Admittedly, some of the exotic creatures were intriguing, but bringing them into a ballroom was certainly questionable. That, and the majesty of the whole procession itself caught everyone off guard. Wulfric himself had to control his initial surprise. Now, he was somewhat anticipating how things with these foreigners would go.
Currently wearing: Caesonian traditional formal wear
(Minus the gloves and cape)
The carriage carrying the Hugonin party eventually arrived and pulled to a stop before the steps leading up to the open heavyset doors leading into the hall and past that the ballroom. And as the carriage rolled to a stop did it cause the napping Kazumin wake with a small, startled start who then sat up wiping the bit of drool from his lips upon the back of his left hand, the right used to rub the sleep from his eyes. Blinking himself awake and with it, Baron Asteroth's stern face came into view with an eyebrow raised." Hm? Have we arrived then?" He asked sleepily, still in the midst of waking.
Lord Asteroth simply stared at his young ward who had napped the entire trip for a moment before giving a slight shake of the head with a low wry chuckle." Indeed, that we have and a trifle late I might add." The aged gentleman stated with cloying accusation.
Kazu coughed into his fist upon hearing this with the pretense of clearing his throat while looking away." Yes, well...we're here aren't we? Shan't be sitting about casting blame to why we're late, no?" The young blonde, now awake patted at his knees with a wide forced grin trying to show enthusiasm, but his amber brown eyes clearly gave way that he wished to be anywhere but here.
The baron studied his ward a moment longer then let out a wry chuckle." Yes, I suppose you're correct. Let us be off, but I suggest you fix up your hair. I shall head out first and expect you to be following after shortly." He spoke in that gruff coolly tone of his, the warning for him to not go sneaking off evident in his voice that had Kazu let out a weak chuckle in turn.
" Don't worry, I'll be along shortly." Waving his hand while keeping up that forced grin only to let out a weary sigh the moment the older gent stepped out from the carriage." Ugh, I can already tell this is going to be a long and excruciating day." His body slumped back against the cushioned seat as his head rolled back, eyes closed and took a few deep breaths trying to prepare himself. His trepidations were understandable; seeing as this was not only his first ball, but his first outing with nobles' period. How he, a mere peasant farmer managed to find himself to an event no peasant could dare dream to experience and yet somehow here he was about to enter a room filled with all the elites of elites, the royal family included. Yet, unlike any other who would find themselves impossibly excited and nervous, Kazumin was absolutely and positively dreading placing a foot on the steps alone as he found himself picturing his pals back home at the run-down tavern laughing their arses off at him were they to see the ridiculously over the top outfit he currently wore. He leaned forward; face buried in his hands where he let out an almost pained groan sounding like one asking to be killed and spare him such a tortous evening.
If not for the fact that this was his first time leaving the Hugonin estate since being taken there three months ago or the promised prospect of wondrous food the likes peasant never even knew existed, then he would have chosen to skip the festivities entirely. Having been cooped up for three months doing nothing but sword training with the sword trainer, Ezekial whom preferred to called Zeke and Agatha, his etiquette teacher; Zeke he did not mind too much though tended to get a little too into the sword fighting during training, the bruises adorning his skin a fresh reminder. Miss Agatah, on the other hand was hands down the most horrid person he ever had the delight to meet and the source of the majority of bruises that ached his body and head to this day. The blasted hag never heard the meaning of holding back with that stick of hers; a number of countless times that her mere presence made him nervous and with it screwing up the latest tasks towards becoming a proper gentleman. The Hugonin estate has indeed been a truly hellish stay and were it not for Susan, one of the house's younger maids that he may very well have gone mad from the constant training and teaching with too little breaks that allowed him a proper smoke or drink.
He rubbed at his face with a weary groan and after a few more moments preparing himself, did he sit up where he licked at his fingers, using them to press down his golden blonde gelled hair. The gel kept most of his hair in place leaving him only needing to fix a couple stray tufts until only two, maybe three remained though that curly golden cowlick bouncing at the top of his head stuck out; a tuft that proved impossible to rid as no amount of brushing or hair product proved capable of defeating it. Not that Kazu was bothered by it, not in the slightest and simply gave a shrug of his shoulders." Good enough as ever I guess."
Taking a few more deep breaths and slow exhales before the young blonde finally brought himself to exit the carriage. He stepped down then stopped to take a glance around to see a few other nobles making their way up the steps, each of them moving with a graceful gait and was once more reminded just how much of a fish out of water he was and for the briefest moment thought to simply leave and might have done so had he not spotted Asteroth at the top of the stairs chatting with some unknown noble." Phew...it's just for one evening. You can do this, Kazu.... do it for the food... for the exotic pudding." Muttering this to himself and upon mentioning pudding felt energy well up through his body, invigorating the young blonde. Giving his formal wear shirt a few tugs removing any wrinkles and a shifting tug of the belt then finished with some sharp adjustments of the cuffs and he was ready to venture inside. And considering this damn outfit took him nearly an hour to put on and the likely cause of their lateness, Kazu intended to get his use from the suit. One last slow exhale and he was off; up the stairs his fine booted feet crunched feeling as if he was venturing into a realm wholly new and normally forbidden to one of his ilk. Whether this were to prove a grave mistake or not he had no inkling to know.
Before long he was at the top and found Lord Asteroth waiting for him who regarded him momentarily before stepping close to place a hand upon his shoulder with an assuring squeeze." You will do great, lad. No time better to put your training from lady Agatha to practice. But remember that what awaits you are no plaything scenarios so be respectful and on your best behavior. Do not make me regret my decision and embarrass my house." Each word he spoke were stern and serious, the most serious Kazu had seen him since becoming his ward yet they had a strangely comforting hint to them as the aged knight offered a small smile barely visible through the groomed beard.
" Right... my best behavior. I'll do my best." He returned with a half-hearted salute while blowing a low huff from his nose as he gazed at Asteroth, the older gentleman who was the root cause for his even being here. In fact, he never even wanted nor intended accepting the offer of being his ward, but the countless convincing pleas and talks of such opportunity so rarely given led to him to accept in resignment though his many siblings were very much against it as well. Thinking of them brought a sad smile to his lips; all of this was for their sake. Just five years, five years and he will be back home with his family and all their money troubles no longer a thing.
Steeling himself once more, Kazu nodded back which earned him another comforting squeeze to his shoulder then the two turn and made their way inside.
These past three months have all been done to prepare himself for such an event like this and yet, even with all that had been taught and beaten into his head, none of it could ever accurately prepare one who has never born witness to such a spectacle. As such, the mere moment he placed his first step into the ballroom and he found himself completely overwhelmed, his senses assaulted by a wide assortment of things a farmboy like him has never experienced. All sorts of glittering gowns, jewelry and fancy decor along with various instruments of all sorts he had never laid eyes on before playing elegant music that might have brought him to tears were it not for thick smog of mixing perfumes and sweet scents making his eyes sting. It took all that he had to keep from gagging from the overwhelming nauseating scents though he could not stop the coughs that he thankfully covered up with the back of his right hand. Barely a step inside and already his head swam; a headache beginning to faintly throb in his temples as he tried peering into the room, but his eyes stinging with tears could hardly make out any of the various face and the people dancing only made it all the more difficult to pick out anything.
*Gods! How can these people possibly endure such a heavy smog of scents for even a second? And all those candles...this place is a raging fire waiting to happen.* The overwhelmed blonde thought this to himself. The room certainly was unlike anything he had ever seen before, but it was impossible to admire or enjoy with the vast amount of activity and going-Ons happening.
If one were to honestly ask him what he thought of the place he would say that this was simply overkill, far too much and unnecessary. The amount of money you could get from everything in this room could easily cover ten villages for years and still have some left-over, an unpleasant thought that left Kazu with a bad taste in his mouth.
Then the unexpected pat to his back snapped him away from such negative thoughts as he looked over at Asteroth who gave a nod and smile in turn before heading off to find and mingle with his fellow men. That's right...everyone in here were born of the same cloth, everyone that is save for him. Even with all these people about, Kazu found himself feeling impossibly alone without a familiar friendly face in sight.
Thankfully, the smell of food filled his nostrils no longer burning from the heavy parfumes which helped lessen the swirling dizziness he was reeling from. Not wishing to dwell on such depressing thoughts when a treasure trove of a feast never before seen lie only a short distance away. a myriad of food those like him could spend their entire life saving and still be lucky to afford only a morsel and here there several tables of such along with alcohol to drink. He would find himself disappointed to find that it only consisted of wine...the drink for whelps among booze, but better than nothing.
Without wasting a step, the hungry blonde made straight for the tables until he could hardly notice the perfume or much of anything. Only the food that lie before him lay in his sights and with an anticipated growl from his belly moved in intending to partake of everything in this hall.
Kazumin was so engrossed with the most beautiful and eye fetching spread that he could dare say was unmatched that he hardly paid notice to the huge spectacle of an entrance made by the visiting Alidasht who made it their goal to make the most extravagant entrance imaginable. While everyone else in the hall was in stunned awe and disbelief, Kazu was in disbelief at the gush of heavenly flavors titillating his tongue to the point of nearly bringing him to tears once more, this one of pure happiness.
The sounds of softly played music flooded from behind the grand doors as Violet followed behind her doting parents. They opened to a grand room, that had no expenses spared for their arrival.
Violet gripped onto a small book that she held in her gloved hand. The nerves of the entire evening began to brew in the pit of her belly as they lined for the greeting into the event.
Adjusting her black collar so it was sure to cover much of her scars she adjusted her simple silver neckless. Her top was quite loose fitted around the arms, buckling towards her wrists as the semi-sheer fabric was almost invisible in the right light. Her corset was black aswell, tightly secured with her waist being sucked in by her mothers request. There was detailing of ravens embored on her corset mixed with other fliagreed designs. Her skirt was large and full, one of her best gowns as her mother insisted.
She followed behind, not paying much attention untill she was greeted by a voice.
She offered him a poliet smile and a bashful nod of her head. Wolfric was a handsom man, unsurprsing due to the appears of his parents. However there was a sense of manufactured charm pooling off of him. She had heard so many men claim her beauty and say they enjoy her company but are quick to venture off to the next best thing.
She became jaded over the years, men just not holding the same interest as they once did. Instead she kept hersel company with her books , generally finding the quietest corner of the room to read untill the evening ended.
However, at the request of her mother and father she would oblige and be the doting lady they raised her to be.
"You are too kind Prince Wulfric " she smiled and cursied as he bowed into his leave. Unsurprised as this was how all of the events tended to be she allowed a few moments before she broke away from her parents.
She did a scan of the room, noticing all of the tables full of food and various delicacies from the other lands. The various smells and scents filling her nose, one couldn't help but be distracted by everything avaliable on the table.
Taking her time she scanned the room trying to find the perfect spot to settle down with her book, but her attention was pulled when a large herd of animals broke through the door. Pulling her attention to the large gathering and the grand enterance she smirked softly wondering how her mother would react. She was never one for large gestures.
Taking this as her chance, while most were distracted, she moved behind the food tables and found a small seating area with an ornate bench. Fluffing out her skirt she sat down, cracking open the small book as he submerged herself away from all the noise.
The wailings of a woman pierced the ears of the coachman and footmen, forcing them to tear their gaze away from the beautiful Varian coastal landscape. It was a fine day; the sky was as clear as it could be, and the winds were warm and gentle. The kind of weather that inspired people to go on walks, just to simply enjoy it. The ideal weather for travel.
This juxtaposed the shower of tears that ran down some of the faces gathered around the horse carriage on which the coachman was perched. Even those who did not openly cry wore grim expressions, as morose as a heavy rain cloud. People near the bawling woman did their best to comfort her, but each attempt seemed to only exacerbate or spread the melancholy like a contagious disease.
The coachman didn’t —couldn’t— understand what all the fuss was about. It was just another posh party. Surely it shouldn’t warrant such grief, especially as a noble. He mentally rolled his eyes as he watched the family in front of him finally calm the woman down enough to start exchanging hugs and kisses with the man the woman was weeping for. Count Fritz Hendrix. One of His Majesty’s many esteemed guests for this year’s annual gathering.
The woman, no doubt the Count's mother, was the last to bid farewell. Hands cupped her son’s face, and she scrutinized him as if determined to etch every detail of his face to memory, before reluctantly letting the Count go so that he could board the carriage.
A herd of people followed the carriages out the front gate, waving or shouting out their good luck and take cares at the Count, who in turn waved back and reassured them he would. The coachman half-expected the herd to follow them all the way to Sorian, but the group stopped short at the border of Hendrix’s estate, continuously waving at the Count and his entourage. They stayed glued to that spot even as it became impossible to tell who was in the carriage. They were still there when the carriages turned into nothing but dots on the horizon. And the escorts from Caesonia wondered if they intended to stand there forever. Until the day Count Fritz Hendrix returned into their loving embrace.
The journey to Caesonia Castle was surprisingly agreeable with Count Hendrix. As soon as the Hendrix estate was nowhere in sight, the Count properly introduced himself and his servants to the escorts, and asked for each of their names, horses included. Throughout the trip he engaged in pleasant conversations or good-natured banter with his traveling companions. Whenever they passed something of any significance, anything ranging from a landmark to the goods sold at a store, he acted as a tour guide, entertaining them with relevant information and some less relevant stories about the place or thing. On occasion, he would buy food from vendors and share it with the others, insisting that it would be a terrible waste for the escorts to travel this far and not try out the local cuisine.
Through these interactions, the escorts got the distinct impression that, despite coming from a wealthy family, the Count was perfectly comfortable mingling with the commonfolk, and that the sentiment was mutual. At one point, when the carriage passed through a town near the Hendrix estate, the townspeople who had previously avoided the carriages baring Danrose’s family crest suddenly seemed less threatened by its existence when they recognized who was inside it. Some waved or bowed slightly in greeting. Some became brazen enough to approach and knock on the window when the vehicle had slowed down or stopped for one traffic reason or another. Each time this happened, the Count enthusiastically opened the window to exchange pleasantries with the brave soul. Perhaps it was less about being brave and more about being confident that no harm would come to them. They knew they were safe with the Count. That much was evident from their expressions.
Despite the return to Sorian being infinitely more eventful than their way to the Hendrix estate, time seemed to fly by much faster for the escorts. Regrettably so. They wouldn’t have minded if the trip lasted a little longer, but the last thing they wanted was to be punished for bringing the guest late to the party.
After thanking his escorts with words and handsome tips, the Count stood outside the carriage, staring at the marvel that was Caesonia Castle. Sorian’s crown jewel was breathtakingly majestic by every measure; an architectural masterpiece in its own right. There were very few of its kind in the Three Kingdoms, so it was near impossible not to be wonderstruck by the palace's presence.
Yet, that was not what the coachman saw on the Count’s face. Not the same awe he had felt when he first started working at the Castle. No. It was as blank as a new sheet of paper. He saw nothing there, which unsettled him more than it ought to have. Perhaps because it reminded him of soldiers heading into hopeless battle.
That was when it dawned on him that this man was going to die here.
Those mother’s tears were not an overaction to her grown child leaving the house for a fancy party. It was out of despair. Sadness derived from the knowledge that she may not ever see him again. For she had sent her boy off to war.
The coachman froze involuntarily when the Count turned to face him, noticing his intense gaze. Count Hendrix studied the face of the other man briefly before directing an understanding smile at him. "I must thank you once again for the lovely ride, Mr. Brisby." “It was a pleasure, Lord Hendrix,” the coachman bowed his head slightly. “It would honor us to accompany you again for the return trip. Until then, please enjoy your stay. "Why thank you. I most certainly will," he nodded before addressing the other footmen as well. "I hope you all have a wonderful day."
As he drove the carriage away from the front entrance, the coachman could not help but hope that his earlier intuition was wrong; that they would indeed meet the Count again, alive and well. They were going to take him home where his family prayed for his safe return. If he was so inclined, maybe they could take a different route back, enjoy the scenery together, and mayhap try some of the local delicacies along the way.
Time: Early Evening Location: Duke Vikena's Estate Interaction: Charlotte @princess
“No! No! No! Nooo! This simply can't be!” Lorenzo's panicked face was peering down at the invitation for the party that would welcome the Alidasht Kingdom to Caesonia this season. Gripping the paper marked with King Danrose's seal, Lorenzo faced the unfortunate fact that he was unbelievably late. He had been taking his sweet time getting ready and had silently wondered why on earth Charlotte had been locked away in her quarters so early. She was in fact on time! “Nathaniel!” He called knowing his servant was just a call away. “I'm in great need of your assistance.” Lorenzo had never enjoyed using servants for every trivial task, but this was a dire circumstance!
A formal-dressed man old enough to be his father quickly entered the room, immediately recognizing Lorenzo's frantic state as he tried on a jacket and then immediately threw it across the room the moment he felt it didn't match his trousers.
“Duke Vikena. I am here to assist.” The man was nothing but professional as he performed a customary bow. The Duke only glanced at Nathaniel before speaking.
“Inform Lady Vikena that I am running a bit late, please.”
“ I shall do this right away. Anything more?”
“No, please hurry, please… Wait! Wait!” Lorenzo turned his body toward Nathaniel with his arms flared out. “Do you think this is welcoming? I'm trying to go for ‘Warm welcome to Caesonia, foreigners!’ I want to look approachable… even if I don't want to engage in much small talk.” It was something he wouldn't be able to simply avoid. He'd been out of the public eye for so long and his social circle had shrunk down to his precious Charlotte and the parasitic Count Damien. Lorenzo knew the moment he stepped foot in the ballroom, especially late, many eyes would be on him and… Poor Lotty…
“Hm… I believe if you would increase your approachability if you were to swap out your current sash for a black one and then perhaps wear the boots over there.” Nathaniel pointed across the room to a pair of boots that would match perfectly. “And a pair of black gloves for a final touch?” Lorenzo nodded in silent agreement.
“Nathaniel, you're a lifesaver. Thank you, friend.” Lorenzo forced a smile before getting tossing the red sash he was wearing into the pile of failed attempts at piecing together an outfit. “Now, hurry to Charlotte. She must not be kept waiting without explanation.”
With Nathaniel's departure, Lorenzo quickly implemented the servant's suggestions and eyes himself in his dressing mirror. He liked what was put together. He nodded at his reflection as if to assure himself he was ready. He took a single step away from the mirror and stopped mid-stride as he caught sight of his right hand where his wedding band was worn. “Emina… you're forever safe from my embarrassment.” He kissed the band with shut eyes as if it were the woman he once loved. The silence at the moment was fitting for how he felt as he stood in the center of the room.
tick… tock… tick… tock
“AH! I must hurry! Charlotte! Charlotte I am coming! Don't you fret!” Lorenzo ran down the hall of the mansion, passing servants wearing worried expressions as they watched the duke set off to possibly tarnish his reputation yet again.
Amidst the magnificence showcases of the kingdom's national worth, one particular entrance was interesting, to say the least, in that almost none knew who he was. He looked...oddly plain amidst the grandiose that came to define King Edin Danrose's reign. He wore a brown tailcoat over white cravat and shirt, as well as sand-colored trousers and gloves. His manners were nothing less of politeness and respect to the guests of this extravagance, but it felt off. He shook hands but never kissed. He bowed but was not uptight. He greeted the nobles but thanked the servants. He wouldn't have been batted an eye to if not for the fact that he entered right following the Varian monarchs, quite before the nobles showed up. This couldn't have been a servant.
John was quite surprised to be receiving the invitation from queen Camilia herself, so much so that he was willing to postpone his project to be here. He had been going around in the aristocratic circles for a bit since his admittance to the Royal Institute of Science, and frankly, he hadn't been much enthusiastic with most of them. Surely, the pastries are nice, you get to meet more people he could talk to, but it's exhausting and kind of boring after a while. He preferred to be out there in the fields rather with his colleagues. But this invitation was a bit too big to just outright reject. Being a royal physician for the monarchs seemed kinda like a convenient excuse; anybody else could have done that job, and many had already done that job before. So it was probably more than just that. Perhaps this is one exhibit of pride for the kingdom. Not just the endearing kindness of the king, the ethereal beauty of the queen, the stunning enchantment of the prince and princess, but also a country doctor who defied the circumstances to be among these greats. Getting an MD before the age of 24 is no joke. Or it could be to get John to get familiarised with the noble families, so as to help him with his future career prospect. Might as well be both while we're at it.
Nevertheless, John had a strange feeling to be walking around in this polished lavish-clad floor, within the towering walls stood the man who had made the decision to never let John see another light of day in this kingdom again. He's certain King Edin wouldn't be too pleased seeing him again, assuming he still remembered this kid whom he banished years ago. Hopefully not though. Guy probably banish people as a daily chore, so to him, it'd be just a regular Tuesday afternoon. And at the end of the day, it had already been 12 years since. John couldn't get back here nor would he desire to. But he would be curious to see what happened to his family's inn after they had left though.
After his entrance was the Varian nobles. Among them, the duchess that he remembered as Alice, accompanied by her partner, was quite...endearing, as it turned out. He had never met them, only through circulated rumors, but it was good to see them in person being so happy with one another. Quickly, gossips emerged around him followed Alice's entrance about Lord Leo and Lady Thea about their appearance. Oh, they didn't know, right...
As guests began to stop trickling in, like most people, moved to grab himself a snack or two at the back of the room, though not before asking one of the servants for a hand wash. He expected a bowl of water just like in the clinic, what he got was a bowl made of gold with lily scented warm water. Talking about extravagance…but John wouldn’t mind savoring it for a bit. It felt quite good.
Once the doctor was satisfied and the servant thanked, he began digging in. He didn't need much, as it was more for appetizing than the plat du jour, but every bite counted. The trademark Caesonian flavorful culinary, the only thing he missed about the culture, strengthened by some degree of nostalgia and perfect delicate preparation. It left him craving more, but at the same time stopped him from wolfing the pastry down like a wild animal. He wanted to treasure every bite, every wipe of sweet cream, every cherry on top. And from what it seemed, he was not alone in this enjoyment. Another person was also right there, and he was having it more than John did.
"Good stuff eh?" John asked with a casual smile as he slid over to the young man in the dark Caesonian formal wear. Seeing the unusual yet genuine and infectious enthusiasm, the doctor wondered, "Is this your first time around here?"
Time: Early Evening Location: Caesonia Castle Ball Room Interactions: Too many to tag lol
The beginning of the trip to Caesonia for Mayet and the rest of the Alidasht's royals was marked by Nala's annoyed growls, which, unsurprisingly, summed up Mayet's own feelings pretty well as both of them weren't that good with long, boring trips. Especially by ship... As they boarded the ship that would take them to Caesonia, both of them immediately headed towards the room Mayet had demanded especially for herself and Nala, filled with the finest and softest silk pillows in Alidasht and all the comforts she could ask for the trip, including aromatic incenses and even fresh food for her and Nala. Still, despite all that, it didn't change the fact that the trip was still quite a hassle and both of them were already annoyed by it, even though it had barely begun.
"Believe-me Nala, I hate traveling by ship as much as you do..." Mayet said with an annoyed sigh as she laid down on the pillows, shortly followed by Nala, who laid down just besides Mayet, letting out a soft, annoyed growl, much like Mayet's own sigh.
"At least it will be worth it once we arrive. I've been told that one of the biggest reasons for this ball being held is to welcome our arrival in Caesonia and according to the rumors, the Caesonian royals do know how to treat their guests of honor very well." Mayet said with a smile, just as Nala gave a soft growl, letting her head fall on top of Mayet's lap.
"You are so cute when you act spoiled like that! Come here, just lay down and relax so you wont get seasick. If you're feeling fine later, we can go stretch our legs, maybe even visit Layla's room, okay?" Mayet said, hugging Nala for a moment before she began to softly caress Nala's head.
Just like the rumors and the stories she had heard, the Caesonia Castle, more specifically it's ballroom, didn't fail to impress. While the architecture was very different to the preferred style on Alidasht, it was undeniable that it couldn't be called anything other than a masterpiece. Both the architecture of the building itself and how the interior was decorated seemed to be prepared with painstaking effort. Even those who disliked that style of architecture couldn't help but admire it. The interior definitely did not betray the expectations from those who saw it from the outside. From the beautiful, vibrant blue curtains and the gilded structures which decorated each pillar to the musicians playing and even how every single torch seemed to be placed in order to not only make the corridor well lit, but to further highlight the details and beauty of the halls and the ballroom. It almost made the long and boring trip worth it.
"So the rumors weren't just exaggeration after all! The Caesonian Ballroom is surely a marvel to look at." Mayet said to herself as she walked through the halls together with her siblings, following the Sultan and the Grand Vizier, just a few steps behind in a V formation.
"And to think all of this was prepared to welcome our stay on Caesonia..." Mayet said with a satisfied smile.
"Well... It would be rude to disappoint them, wouldn't it? After all, they prepared all this for us. Let them bask in Alidasht's glorious presence!" Mayet said with a confident smile as she looked to Layla, just as the doors to the ballroom opened and their entourage began entering.
"Don't worry Amir, I'll be sure to steal your spotlight!" Mayet said with a mischievous smile, teasing Amir, whom she knew well didn't like being the center of attentions.
"And Munir, Nahir... Please behave yourselves... Especially among other women and men." she said with a teasing grin towards both of them. Both Munir and Nahir by themselves were already too good at partying... When both of them were together... Things tended to quickly get out of hand...
Unlike the Sultan and the Grand Vizier, Mayet didn't chose to be carried on a palanquin. Instead, she chose to walk besides Nala. Those watching could easily imagine Mayet mounting the huge tigress, seeing it's impressive size compared to the rather petite Mayet. The tigress carried herself with pride, never leaving Mayer's side as she looked to the people around them with a fierce expression, a clear warning against those who dared to approach Mayet without her consent.
The beautiful midnight blue dress she wore not only highlighted her body due to the revealing and figure-hugging design, but the darker color also seemed to complement both her skin tone and the multitude of golden jewelry she wore incredibly well. Every step she gave exuded power and confidence. The confidence of a woman who knew who she was, of someone who carried herself with the pride of a royal. Her presence was almost palpable as she walked through the ballroom, despite her size and being one of the youngest children of the Sultan. Her posture, her expression and even her fiery, piercing gaze as she looked around the ballroom, the weight of her stare enough to make most people have the reflex of look away when their eyes met. Those who resisted said reflex and stared back earned a small, discreet, but curious smile from Mayet.
"Nala, let them know... We have arrived." Mayet said giving a glance to Nala, whom immediately gave a few steps forward and roared, loud enough to almost drown the music on the background before she calmly walked back to her position besides Mayet.
Following such entrance, Mayet gave a short, half-bow towards the Caesonia king and queen, just enough to not be considered a disrespect towards the hosts, but a clear indication that she did not see herself as less than anyone on the room. Regardless of their position, age or gender.
Time: Early Evening Location: Duke Vikena's Sorian Estate, Caesonia Kingdom Interaction: Lorenzo@FunnyGuy Attire: Click here
"If only your mother could see the young woman you've become. Absolutely lovely."
The bristles of a brush gently sailed through hair black as ink. The tall maid was repetitive and soothing in her movements. She had shoulder-length blonde hair and the typical attire for her role. Her name was Delilah and she had served Charlotte since she had been a little girl. She was reaching well into her late thirties yet retained a certain youthfulness to her face. She watched the expression of the young woman who sat before her through the mirror of the vanity. When there was no reply, she continued on with her speaking,"She'd be happy you're going. It's been a long time since you've been to a ball, my Lady."
After a sigh, a smirk pulled at the girl's lips as she imitated her mother's tone,"... She'd say, Charlotte, get that wretched thing off you before you end up in a brothel." The long blue dress upon Charlotte was by no means revealing, but the v-neckline was adventurous even for her. Once upon a time, she had worn the same poofy dresses the other girls did with their large bows and tight corsets. She could remember using the skirts as tents as a child they had been so large. But so had been the style of Caesonia: the bigger the better.
The maid paused her work to bend down and move her head around the side of Charlotte where she could catch her gaze, "Come now, Lottie. It's hardly scandalous. Just a little different than the Caesonia tradition." She took her shoulders and gave them a gentle squeeze, "It suits you well, my Lady. You're a little different than the other Caesonian noblewomen-"
"Oh dear,"Charlotte interrupted with a gentle smile, "Such harsh truths simply will not do well for my digestion, Delilah." It felt as if every journey outside the home would always result in constant reminders from all she'd never quite fall in step with those around her. It was the same for her stepfather Lorenzo. Perhaps it had been fate he'd become her stepfather. If only the two of them had just been born elsewhere.
"You know very well what I mean, my lady. Overindulgence was never quite your style. Well, until it came to food that is." Delilah took it upon herself at this point to make busywork of applying blush to her cheeks as they spoke. The last remark managed to get a giggle out of Charlotte. Her light blue eyes met her own in the mirror, a hint of her inner emotions swimming within. Delilah followed her line of sight and said, "Do not fret. I am making quick work of you as the last thing we need is for you two to be late. Again."
After she had concluded, Charlotte rose from her stool and turned to wrap her arms around Delilah in a gentle hug, "Thank you, Delilah...I wish you could accompany me." The maid returned the gesture a tight embrace, "It's time you go back out there, my dear. A whole world is out there for you. Hiding in here forever won't make your problems go away. Be brave and face them." Delilah let go and held shoulders at arm's length, giving her a grin, "And find a darling handsome man for me to look at while you're at it."
Charlotte soon moved into the hall. The ceiling was high and rounded while the long carpet stretched down a never-ending hallway. All was not melancholic as she had been blessed with a beautiful estate. She moved down the corridor with haste as each step echoed, however, the sound of rushing footsteps from behind were louder.
"Lady Charlotte! Lady Charlot-"
She continued her pace, waving off the man's urgent tone, "Yes, Nathaniel. I know, I know. He's late."
"Yes quite so, my lady." Nathaniel was struggling to keep her with her brisk pace. She had always been a quick walker with her long legs.
Charlotte glanced his way finally, "Please tell me he's at least dressed."
Nathaniel nodded fervently, "Yes, yes of course my lady. I will escort you to the carriage where you can await him." He attempted to gain the lead, but he could not sustain it.
"Coming with us to the ball, Nathaniel?"She mused, watching his expression with amusement.
Nathaniel did a double-take, thrown off guard by her question. He had become somewhat used to her strange remarks and the way she'd gently tease him, but she did sometimes still throw him for a loop, "Yes-No! I mean no, Lady Charlotte. It would be improper for me to attend." Charlotte had found amusement in trying to break through his wall of professional etiquette to see what she could find, though she also genuinely saw the servants as their equals. She hoped one day she could truly convince them to come to attend and enjoy the luxuries with them.
"But Nathaniel, don't you want to see all the fine women?" She was now pushing the front door open and holding it for Nathaniel, who was too thrown off again by her question to say more than to curtly thank her. "Certainly, you must long for a companion."
"The fine women?"Nathaniel repeated, pausing on the front porch as she moved along ahead.
Charlotte grinned at him as she made her way over to the carriage, "Yes, plenty of them all waiting for a handsome man like you."
"You are ever so kind, Lady Charlotte, " He finally caught up and held open the carriage door for her this time,"But I cannot attend."He bowed then turned on his heels to take his leave. Charlotte frowned and lingered in her spot.
We're not so different, you and I. Both of us were taught to stay in our place.
At the back of the Alidasht arrival formation was Munir, the youngest, and perhaps most rambunctious, shahzade of the Kingdom. Their ride into Caesonia was long, treacherous, and for the most part boring. Munir was kept on a short-leash by his father and sultan to the Alidasht Kingdom, Sultan Raif Kadir. While his uncle the Grand Vizier Hafiz Kadir was a little easier on him, he made sure Munir never wandered far.
At any market or port along the way, Munir would look for ways to sneak off from the royal convoy to enjoy some 'alone' time. Of course, if one knew anything about Munir, he was more than likely not spending that time alone. Sure, he'd have his bodyguard with him but that is really besides the point. He would be in the market, going from stall to stall, wooing merchant's daughters or their wives, passing by brothels with a small flourish, and being led into the homes of otherwise faithful women. With Munir's penchant for...seeking pleasure, it is a miracle that he has not sired a whole gathering of little bastards.
During the actual traveling part of the trip, Munir insisted on riding his horse, or camel if needed, as much as he could. He hated being stuffed into a carriage and rocked along with some of his siblings. Not that his siblings made for bad company, but there has always been a subtle, but palpable tension between them. The throne of Alidasht is passed onto whoever is most 'capable' and not by age or sex. This created a competitive culture among the siblings. But for Munir, he is happy to travel the world, drinking fine wines, and bedding maidens. That is all he wants. He couldn't care less about who sits on the throne. By birth, he is royalty. As long as he is alive, he will always be royalty.
Occasionally, Munir would actually need to accomplish something during his time in the markets along the way. Since childhood, Munir has been fascinated with scorpions of all shapes and sizes. Currently he has several broods that he keep as his pets. Munir frequents the markets for things that his pets can eat. Given that scorpions are natural predators, Munir needs to give them live bait to hunt and feed on. He scours the markets for small creatures like lizards and spiders and brings them back for his brood. One particular scorpion, the queen of one specific brood, has been with Munir so long that Munir is often seen holding it, and letting it scuttle along his arms. The queen has two golden stripes down its back, not by Munir's doing. That specific specie of scorpion are simply born with a small stripe on its back, but this one had two, and they were golden, and thats why Munir has this special bond with it. Munir cares for his pets to the point where he has taken the shape of scorpions as his personal sigil, often sewn in to his clothing in small details and having jewelry made in their likeness as well.
Upon arrive, Munir changed into some imperial finery, designed to impress these folks that have never met people from Alidasht. "Ugh. Its so...not me. I don't want to wear this. I don't care what these people think. To them, we're probably a bunch of blood-drinking, camel-flesh eating savages anyways..." Munir grumbled as his attendants helped him get dressed. Standing in front a floor length polished bronze, Munir studied himself. The fiery red of the clothing accentuated his skin and the golden jewelry shaped like scorpions added some subtle, but fearsome touches to the otherwise gorgeous young man. Munir sighed, as he ran his hands through his sandy black hair while more attendants combed it and bound some of it together in small strands with golden clasps with yet more scorpions expertly carved into it. Munir let out one more deep breath as he tied a small sachet of incense to his waist and stepped out to join his father, uncle and other siblings. Of course everyone in the party was dressed to the nines. With Munir being the youngest, his position in the in the formation would be at the back, to the right of the Sultan.
"Dear sister, you wound me. You know sister Nahir and I never get into any trouble. Alas, a little fun never hurt anybody..." Munir said as he winked at his sisters. Among all of his siblings, he has always been most fond of his older sister Nahir. They share the same rebellious attitude, and are both free-spirits. "Dear brother Amir, try not to bow too hard to the other royals here. You don't want to bend so low your nose touch the ground. What ever would Father thinks of his eldest son doing that???" Munir teased his uptight older brother. Munir had always planned to only give a half-hearted salute to the rest of the royals present anyways. "And sister Layla...Be..nice, I guess..." Munir chuckled. His oldest sister has always been on the colder side, being the eldest of the Sultan's children. Munir, like his sister Mayet, refused to be carried in. He shrugged and simply said "I'll walk, its fine."
As the group made their entrance, Munir walked lithely but not without power. His head was always held high, but slightly tilted to his right as he glanced at everyone in attendance. Their uncle had given them a crash course about the other kingdoms on their way over so he was taking mental notes of which kingdom brought their maiden princesses with them to this ball. "Sister Nahir, look. Fresh prey..." He said very softly with a mischievous smirk as they continued their walk. When Mayet asked Nala, her tigress, to announce their arrival, Munir chuckled slightly and shook his head softly. "Aw damn, here we go..." He said under his breath. As the tigress stepped forward and let out a mighty roar, Munir naturally stepped up and gave the great cat a few loving strokes right beneath her lower jaw and gave the space on the front of her neck a few reassuring slaps. All while looking directly at a lady of House Blackwood, one with fiery red hair and porcelain skin. In all of his...conquests, he has never seen one as such.
He returned to his position, without breaking eye contact and maintaining the same small, devious, smirk with the lady with the fiery red hair.
Leo’s fingers scratched at the now smooth skin of his freshly shaven face as he studied his reflection in a mirror. The growth from his last adventure was now gone, his thoughts were occupied with wondering if a full shave had been a mistake. He found his face now looked too youthful, boyish even. He tried to picture himself with a grand set of side whiskers or a dignified mustache, wondering what would be most becoming for a future Duke. It was far too late to debut such a look for tonight’s ball, so such thoughts would have to be revisited. He did not want to be late for tonight's occasion.
Returning to court had been something he’d thought over with even more consideration than what sort of facial hair would be most fashionable. Since his father's disappearance, he had spent his time looking for any escape from dwelling on grief. Most recently had scaled a grand mountain in the frozen north, but even when his body reached absolute physical exhaustion his mind stayed consumed by Duke Feralt’s mysterious disappearance. It was upon the snow-drenched peak of the mountain, gazing upon one of the most beautiful sights his eyes had ever beheld, that he realized there was that would distract his mind from this grief.
So back to court in Caesonia, it was. A place filled with secrets ready to be uncovered. If there were answers to be gleaned this would be the place for it. Then word had reached his ears that for the very first time Alidasht would be in attendance, and so his fate was sealed. Leo would simply never miss his chance to be among the first to greet those from such a mysterious and exotic land. His thoughts were all finely focused on making the best possible impression; a good scrubbing to remove months of time in the wilderness, a trip to the barber, and a fine new suit for the occasion. He wore a dark shirt, dark gray trousers, new shoes, a red and gold embroidered vest, and a dark velvet coat with shiny gold buttons and embellishments on the sleeves that echoed his vest. He tipped his matching top hat at his reflection before heading off to the palace. Being late, after all, was far from the impression he wanted to make.
He entered shortly after his mother, Dutchess Alice, and her, well whatever his mother’s mistress was these days, but Leo would be damned before he ever referred Valerie as a Dutchess. The pure joy that rolled off the pair as they danced was nauseating. Not because his mother had chosen a lesser as a companion, not even because his mother had chosen another woman, but the fact that she had chosen anyone at all and flaunted it in front of the entire court made him sick. His father had barely been gone a year, there were no assurances he was even dead, and it made such a display a slap in the face. Leo still grieved his father. Thea, no matter the brave face she wore or the lengths she went to in order to hide it, grieved too. All while his own mother couldn’t even be bothered to fake an ounce of grief for her own husband.
Thankfully before the anger and disgust could reach his face, the grand spectacle that was the entrance of the Alidasti began. A breathtaking procession of exotic flowers and animals proceeded the Sultan and his family as they made their way into the ballroom. Everything about them enthralled and enchanted, the show of wealth and power, the seemingly effortless confidence, and, of course, the beauty of these strangers. Then there was the most magnificent creature he’d ever seen, a massive dark and sleek cat who let out a roar that shook him to the core. Hope ol’ Lorenzo has not brought the ferret tonight. He thought because what now stood in the royal ballroom was clearly a beast who had perfected the art of the hunt.
Despite the burning curiosity, now was not the time to approach the foreign royals. Even as the son of a duke they outranked him by miles and Leo would show them no signs of disrespect. So he made his rounds around the room, bowing to those he ought to and exchanging pleasantries. For Leo servants were basically invisible until he wanted something and eventually he sent one to bring him a glass of wine. The feasting tables were currently far too crowded with lesser nobles, including a fellow who appeared to have put no effort into taming a horrendous cowlick atop his golden hair. He had no intention of being seen around that bunch and, glass in hand, he set off to find someone interesting to talk or dance with.
Roman sighed with the warm city air that flowed through the carriage. This city and this part of the kingdom was warmer than he expected but still not as warm as the deserts of Alidasht. His mind drifted to the memories of that strange kingdom. It was only a few years ago that his father sent him there to hand deliver a piece of jewelry some one there had commissioned his father to make, they were fond of the desert insects. Roman never met who it was that it was for he handed it off to some advisor of some sort. The rest of that trip was interesting, he spent quite a while at the local forges and bought many pieces of armor and weapons to try. The smiths of the southern kingdom had some very interesting items and drinks.
A bump in the road jostled the man back to reality as the metal around his fingertips clinked together. For the evening he chose traditional formal clothes from his home just without a few of the extra layers. A Royal blue tunic with a longer black kilt falling from the waist and nearly touching the floor, accented by a black half cape flowing down the back of his left shoulder and a few pieces of armor around the shoulders, chest, forearms, and hands. The armor was something both his mother and father made for him as a gift, intricate silver inlays and carved metal and leather work. It was clear that a great amount of care was put into this and was tailor made for a man of his stature. Finishing off the look with tight black pants and polished black leather boots.
The entire ordeal was not exactly what Roman wanted but he knew this was important for his family and maybe he would find someone that could help him grow that family here. All he could hope for was that he didn’t start a war, even if it would be good for business, it’s not what anyone wanted right now. Rubbing the crystal pendant around his neck it was a nervous tick of his, anxiety wasn’t always an issue, but these kinds of gatherings tended to get under his skin a bit. “You look fabulous for a half giant.” The all to familiar voice of his old friend filled his ears. “Not now Salem, you be quiet tonight.” A subtle laugh was all he heard as the presence faded. He could see the castle now; it was hard to miss Afterall he just hoped that he wasn’t going to be too late.
Stepping out of the carriage he was met with the tail end of the Alidasht procession as it moved towards the ball room. So, he was a little late, but it wasn’t something he couldn’t work around. What he couldn’t work around was what was Infront of him, a parade of animals, flower petals, and many of the sultans’ children and family it seemed. Seeing nobles and royals be carried wasn’t new to him but he didn’t really approve of it either, one should be proud that they can walk on their own two feet rather than be carried by their subjects. This however wasn’t his place to say anything he simply waited and watched taking in all the details of the foreign strangers.
After a few more minutes it seemed they made their way far enough out that he could wave a thank you to his carriage driver and begin the slow walk towards the ball room as not to be confused, if one could be confused, with the beautiful southern peoples. At least they were drawing all the attention away from him, for that they had his thanks. Normally being his size and wearing armor of some type as was customary with the nobles from his home, Roman tended to draw more attention at other gatherings. At least the smell of the flower petal he picked up was a very nice, sweet smell from the jungles. There weren’t many other places in their home that he knew of that had plants like that.
After giving some time for the parade Infront of him to move into the ball room Roman began to walk through the doors just as a mighty roar came from what looked to be a rather well-mannered tiger. He did have to stare at it for a moment, as he had only seen them in the books at the library. Moving his gaze amongst the people from left to right so he could pick up more detail, other than of course the kings and queens that he gave a polite bow to there was not many here he recognized.
With the attention mostly still on the newcomers he slipped into the crowd of people on the edges and walked to where the food was. Most people moved out of his way likely because of his intimidating size he figured. They had more than a few delicacies and rare treats at the table, he found a few fancy meats and cheese before looking around once more. It didn’t take him long to eat the meager portions he had picked up with a cup of wine to help wash it down.
Through his observations a image caught his attention and he had to do a double take. Seeing ravens among the nobility was rare as most saw them as bad omens or just birds. However, Roman could always pick up on the image of the bird as he was basically surrounded by it being from the Ravenwood family. The raven was part of someone’s clothes, this one seemed to be tucked away almost out of sight, but he couldn’t quite tell what they were doing from his angle. Slowly he moved to get a better look at the person then he saw the book and could tell that she was indeed reading and not just listening to everyone around her.
Roman turned and looked back out among the crowds. He could see the kings and queens, the sultan and his advisor, the prince who he met earlier this year, a few other nobles from his kingdom and neighboring cities, even possibly the doctor. Maybe he only met the man once after all when delivering aid to the neighboring city of kolonivka during one of their emergency’s. He was even able to see a rather spry looking count blackwood, it was good to see the duke out and about and that means that Mia should obviously be around somewhere. He would have to try and meet up with his old friend at some point during this party.
Working up his courage but still feeling awkward, Roman walked past the tables of food to where the raven girl had hidden herself away near the back of the room. Slowly he moved into the opposite side of the nook as the lady before him and smiled, “umm excuse me miss, I have a quick question for you if you don’t mind. The raven on your dress, is it for fashion where you’re from or a personal choice?” he found his eyes wandering her form while he spoke to her picking up many details including some interesting scarring that he caught himself staring at for a little longer than he thought might be appropriate and quickly switched his gaze back to her face and if she was looking at him into her eyes. all while holding the glass of wine he has barely drank out of in his hand.
The sea crossing was treacherous. But that was to be expected. The sea was a mercurial creature. A ship could have 100 uneventful crossings and then suddenly sink will all hands on board. Sacrifices had gone up to prevent such an outcome. The blood of goats and bulls had paid for the safety of the Kadir family. Despite rough waters, the gods must have accepted the gifts as not one life was lost. Being cooped up in ship with his siblings had taxed Amir. There were only so many spaces one could seek solace. Especially as laden as the ships had been. Not only with gifts but also with necessary provisions the royals would need during their stay at court. Everything from clothing to cooking ingredients to books and even pet food.
When they had finally moored, the first sight of the port city had been a mixture of awe and confusion. This Northerner city was much different than Genasea. Definitely not to Amir’s liking. Closer to the piers, the houses were little more than shanties. Not surprising, the poor were as present as the wind or the sun. The richer part of the city however were lavish. The houses sporting gates to keep the rabble out and fancy trimmings. Some even had guards at their gates.
The Sultan’ second child assumed that the castle would be just as lavish. He was no disappointed. The Northern powers had invited them to court. Why this was, he could only guess. Perhaps it was because they wanted to begin a sort of relationship with Alidasht. Usually, these sort of relations was not out of the solidarity. No doubt there was a hidden meaning. For now, Amir would play the part of guest. Step through the double doors and the game would begin. The doors opened.
The Alidasht contingent's entrance was lavish. Each phase of the entrance planned out and with a purpose. The dancing ladies with the petals were a symbol of peace. Laying down petals allowed the Sultan's feet to touch purified soil and visual representation that where the Sultan went so did his land. As intimidating as the armed guards that followed might be, it was actually a sign of respect towards the hosts. This meant that the Alidashti considered them strong and worthy of being considered a threat. It would have been quite disrespectful, at least to a native of Alidasht, if a noble arrived unarmed and unguarded. It meant that the host was considered weak and thus posed no danger. The number of guards was also symbolic. The more of them there were the greater the respect but it also was to be a hint as to the power that was being commanded. Two score armed warriors, hooded turbans with silvery chain mail, and scimitars on their hips, red tipped spears and golden shields strapped to their backs with silken pants the same color as the turbans lined either side of the dancing floor making a safe corridor for the Kadir family to enter.
What an entrance it was. The planaquin of the Sultan was the tip of the arrow like formation. His brother the Vizer followed a step behind on Raif Kadir’s right with the Lady Mayat and Young Munir on his own right. Layla was on the Sultan’s left, a place of honor reserved for the eldest child. Amir himself was left of her and finally Nahir completed the procession. At its tail came servants with lavish gifts to be presented to the hosts as was the custom in Alishdat. Furs, oils, perfume, spices, and more ported in great cedar boxes awaited the Sultan’s pleasure.
In comparison to the bright colors of dancers, soldiers, and some of his siblings, Amir sported a black thick woolen bisht embroidered with gold. Beneath that he sported an ebony high colared Dashiki with golden accents and same colored linen pants. His riding boots, with pointed silver spurs which jingled as he walked, completed his outfit. For accessories he had his two Kopesh and daggers which peeked every now and then from his Bisht with every step like shy, deadly children. His hair was pulled back into a half pony tail that fell to past his shoulders. His raven black hair shiny and well conditioned. A few golden hair clasps would adorn his head to keep any stray hair from falling into his face.
In comparison to his siblings, Mayat for once who was drawing attentions and gasps from men and women alike thanks to her revealing garb, Amir’s own was subdued. Despite his younger sisters jape that she was going to take the burden of being the center of attention, it was actually because of his simplistic garb that he perhaps stood out more. A dark shadow amidst the sea of color and exotic airs given out by the whole procession. Only a fool or blind person would not find Mayat and the others alluring. Especially with some of them sporting their “pets”.
Amir's steps were measured, firm and sure. He moved effortlessly, each step propelling him along. Impassive, inevitable as certain as death that comes to all mortals. His back was straight, long hours in the saddle making him retain his riding posture even when not astride a horse. With each step, his raven ringlet locks bounced ever so slightly. The golden accents on it catching the lighting the hall and reflecting it with a glint. This same glint was seen in his honey colored eyes speckled with gold. These same eyes scanned the room without turning his head. There was no animosity in the stare but it was not an amicable one either. It was merely taking in information of his surroundings. It was as if he was scanning the terrain while riding, how he had looked out on the waves on the voyage north, or looking at goats grazing.
The second son's face was neutral, reveling nothing of this inner thoughts as he surveyed all before him. To any onlooker, it seemed like his face was carved out of the sandstone of Alidasht. Stones have no enmity towards people. They can be the strong walls that protect castles and homes. They could also be huge siege stones that fall from the sky to crush these same walls or people within them whiter they be man woman or child. His cinnamon skin pleasant to look at and looked warm even if his eyes were as devoid of warm as the Northern winters. His eyes fell momentarily on the faces of those gathered, committing the features to memory.
Amongst those gathered, he took note of lords and ladies. It was easy to see those who practiced the art of war, the bodies of the men well muscled. The ladies were a literal representation of the damsels written of in romance stories Kahrem had read and relayed to the family. The Royals of either country were evident to spot. Not only because of their place of honor but there was something in their eyes that echoed the same look his father and the Vizier had.
The second son's face was neutral, reveling nothing of this inner thoughts as he surveyed all before him. to any onlooker, it seemed like his face was carved out of the sandstone of Alidasht. Stones have no enmity towards people. They can be the strong walls that protect castles and homes. They could also be huge siege stones that fall from the sky to crush these same walls or people within them whether they be man woman or child. His cinnamon skin pleasant to look at and looked warm even if his eyes were as devoid of warm as the Northern winters. HIs eyes fell momentarily on the faces of those gathered, committing the features to memory.
He would dance the political dance if he must. Those gathered here could become allies. A smile could be as effective as a dagger to the throat. The old Amir would flash his smile openly and wide. Though just as a man with a brandished dagger, such actions cause mistrust. There was also a saying in Alidasht, “Never draw a dagger unless you mean to draw blood”.
As the Kadir family neared the throne, they palanquin stopped a reasonable distance for the other royals. That reasonable distance being a few steps to put them within weapon’s length. The second son rolled his eyes as Mayet had her tiger roar. Quite unnecessary in his eyes but he would not reprimand his younger sister as of yet. After all, keeping these Northerners guessing and awed by their mystery was necessary. Even the second born wanted to get this court necessities over before his other siblings did or said something untoward.
Amir followed his father’s example and showed respect to the Kings and Queens of Caesonia and Vanir by crossing his hands in front of him at eye level with wrists on top of each other and balled fists with thumbs towards the floor. He would finish the motion by placing his own forehead to his wrists though is eyes never closed or lost sight of those before him. Munir had tried to provoke him about showing respect. The youngest Kadir had received nothing more than a cold stare, a tight jaw and a raised eyebrow. Almost as if Amir had been looking at fecal matter left by his horse. The old Amir would have slapped the boy. The new Amir often regarded his siblings with a mixture of mistrust and sadness.
His promiscuous little brother would never understand that some time a little respect was necessary. Smiles led to smiles, which led to agreements. These led to alliances led to military strength. Military strength meant power. Power was absolute. Survivors often have the last laugh.
As he finished his bow, Amir could see from his peripheral vision that his younger siblings had once again made game of the proceedings. Munir and Mayet had barely even showed any decorum. No matter, their youth and frolic would one day end. Kahrem would have been sad at his prospect. The twin had been a bit more considerate of his younger siblings. Of all his family in fact. All Amir showed as a flash of emotion in his eyes before it was swallowed up into his stony face. No doubt there would be introductions that would be needed to be made. So he stood by waiting his turn.
Currently wearing: Caesonian traditional formal wear
(Minus the gloves and cape)
Location- Ballroom Dining Tables Interactions- Dr. John Harling Williamson @Conscripts
The young blonde was in heaven. Each bite of such wondrous delicacy offering him a wholly new world of flavors he never knew existed and every dish he partook of seemed to wash away all the pain and suffering he endured these past three hellish months. This astonishing feast alone more than made up for it. He had already eaten a fair number of dishes and yet still he made little headway into staggering mountain of food, and this was merely the appetizer and main dishes when there were the desserts and pastries to enjoy though he would save those for last.
Kazumin was more than content to spend most if not the entirety of his time simply enjoying this amazing feast, intending to savor every last bite. At least someone needed to show their appreciation to those hardworking chefs that likely spent hours if not days preparing everything only for half, possibly more of it to very likely end up in the garbage, the thought of so much being wasted gave him determination to eat enough to rival ten people. Oh, how he wished he could take this back home to let his family join in and enjoy such delicacies with him; in fact, there was more than plenty to feed everyone at the village, the farm animals included in entirety or just about.
He might very well have spent the entire evening drifting off in heavenly bliss of flavor; so lost in admiring the meals that he failed to notice someone pulling over at first. Not until the man spoke did he finally break free of the enchanted spell he unknowingly found himself under and in the next moment found himself blinking uncertainly towards the man that had spoken to him with an expression like that of a person who had no idea where they were. It took him a few moments longer to gather himself enough to remember that he was at the royal ballroom and was idly chewing on a frog's leg with the tip of its foot sticking out from between his lips.
Now that he had awaken from his food spell, the man's words were able to register in his mind which made him raise a brow curiously as he gulped down what was in his mouth then gave a cough against his gloveless fist." First time?" He asked while blinking, thinking of how to answer this." I guess you could say that, yes." He replied while using the back of his hand to wipe the bit of grease and whatever crumbs stuck to his lips and cheek." Sorry if It looked as if I was ignoring you as you caught me in the middle of...admiring the chef's handiwork." Motioning with his head towards the moutainous spread before them then cleared his throat once more; no longer distracted by the food's lull that he could get a good look at the man who looked to be relatively clean shaven and not much older than he though certainly more well groomed for certain. Surprisingly, unlike nearly everyone else this person was dressed in a relatively simple outfit; one that he wished that he wished had been among the options to wear, maybe then it would not have taken nearly an hour simply to get dressed though with a tad too many buttons still for his taste.
By a glance, this man seemed less uptight and stuffy on the ways of nobles and found himself not tensing up like he typically does around Asteroth or the guests visiting the estate. And seeing how the stranger was enjoying the food helped putting him a bit more at ease.
Yet, even with such plain formal wear, still looked a better state than he as his outfit looked somewhat disheveled and hastily put on in a manner of someone who got frustrated and fumbled with all these unnecessary buttons and such and just forced things into place. What other options offered to him would very well have taken him all day.
Having studied the stranger enough, he felt comfortable enough to continue speaking, but just as he opened his mouth to speak did a loud deafening roar crack through the entire hall. A loud, stifling sound that drowned out all sound; one made to gain everyone's attention likely to leave most in shocked fright or stunned awe. Kazumin, however, found himself annoyed and rubbing his pinkie in his ear." Bloody hell! Was that necessary? The whole damn town probably heard that. " He muttered under his breath with an agitated grumble, waiting for the ringing in his ears to stop before turning his attention towards the source of that ear shattering howl. His eyes went wide in awe, eyes almost glittering as he laid eyes on such a breathtaking creature." Christ...is that a tiger?" He asked incredulously seemingly to the stranger besides him, but more precisely to no one in particular. Once again, Kazu found himself admiring something; this time an animal he had only seen illustrations and pictures of from books though what was most eye fetching was the fact its fur was black as the night. Its every movement left the great beast looking akin to a shadow and could easily be mistaken as such if not for those sharp glowing eyes that glittered a warning to all to be wary to approach for any that dared.
*How peculiar, weren't tigers orange?* He asked himself then remembered that he was speaking with someone and turned his attention back to the stranger as another thought came to mind, this one he voiced." That's a tiger, yeah? You think if I ask its owner nicely that they will let me pet it?" Briefly glancing back over at the tiger which had padded its way back over to a gorgeously darkly tanned woman donned in a dark blue dress seeming to only enhance the starkness of her skin adding to the allure of her beauty. Course, just about everyone in this hall was either a blinding beauty or astonishingly handsome; not that he really paid any mind to such as he never cared much about one's appearance and hard to care when nearly everyone in here were all competing for attention and being the best. Now animals like that tiger were different. Animals fascinated him and a black furred tiger; how could he not help but want to feel the creature's hide which looked to be entirely built of powerfully wicked muscles with great big paws that could kill a grown man with a single swipe were they so unlucky to find themselves at its mercy?
This time, he was able to catch himself before losing himself in his gushing and turned his gaze back to John then cleared his throat once more." Hm, oh yes! It slipped the mind. the name's Kazumin..Kazumin Nagasa." Finally getting around to offering his name as he extended his left hand to shake if John chose to accept.
The trip from Kolonivka to Sorian was always a long one and Mina was never entirely fond of it, but this time she had something to look forward to. The fact that the Alidasht kingdom had been invited to join the season this year was something she was quite excited about. Through her studies and love of books she’d always found the exotic continent of Alidasht quite interesting. The difference in their culture and customs was quite interesting and now she was to interact with them firsthand.
They were only an hour or so from the castle now and Mina had closed her book she’d been reading to stare out the window of the carriage. The difference in scenery from Kolonivka to Sorian was always something that she found interesting. There were no snow capped mountains, it was full of sunshine and green, and it was much warmer as well. The heat wouldn’t be so terrible if it weren’t for the humid climate that came with it. Thankfully they would still have a couple weeks before it got too unbearable for her. At that point she would be longing for the mountains and the cool air.
”Mina, darling, that sun is becoming quite unbearable for me. Would it be okay if we closed the curtains?” The voice of Count Sebastian Blackwood, Mina’s beloved uncle, hit her ears and she found herself glancing sideways at her uncle. He had his eyes closed and was rubbing at his temples as if he were trying to ward off a headache. She took one more glance outside before closing the curtain, causing the inside of the carriage to become quite dark minus the candles they had burning to provide some light. He’s looking so pale, I wonder… Mina thought to herself as she looked her uncle over.
”Did you take it this morning?” She asked him and he quickly began waving her off. ”You fret too much over me Mina. I’m fine, I just didn’t sleep well last night.” Her eyes narrowed at him and her jaw clenched slightly. He always wished for her to not fret over him, but he failed to realize that he was all she had left in this world and his health was important to her. If he wasn’t taking what he needed to keep up his strength and stay healthy then she would make him.
She quickly snatched up the satchel that was beside him which he in turn quickly tried to snatch back, but she smacked his hand away. She dug through the satchel until she found several vials and began counting them. A flash of irritation crossed her features as she quickly looked up at the man in front of her who was now trying to avoid eye contact. ”For God’s sake, Uncle, you know tonight is important and you need to be well for it. I know you hate it, but this is what life is right now until we can solve this. So you will take these right now with no complaints and then you will take a second dose before we head down to the ball tonight, do you understand?” One may be appalled at the commanding tone she used when speaking to her elder, but many didn’t realize that Sebastian viewed his adopted daughter as an equal to him and he’d raised her to be strong and commanding. Truly he was proud of the woman she’d become.
She’d thrust her hand out towards him with two vials and he sheepishly took them from her. He stared at the liquid for a long moment before speaking once more. ”It’s getting worse, Mina.” The red haired woman’s face softened and a small moment of sadness appeared in her eyes as she closed them and fought back tears. When she opened them again she reached forward and gently took his empty hand. ”I know. We’ll figure this out soon, I promise.” It took everything in her to keep her voice from breaking. Finally the Count let go of Mina’s hand, uncorked the viles, and downed the contents.
They’d arrived the the Caesonian castle without anymore issue and were led to the suites they were always given to stay in. Mina was thankful for the consistency as the familiarity of the rooms helped her feel a bit more at home. They had some time to settle in before they were to get ready for the ball. Mina had chosen a black chiffon dress that had an open back and intricate lace sleeves that were sheer and fitted. Down the center of the front was the same sheer lace that left one wondering if there was a piece of cloth that matched her skin tone perfectly or if it was a bit more risque. Her hair was pulled back into a loose messy braid that was pulled over her right shoulder. Adorning her neck was a black choker necklace that had a white, oval gem in the center surrounded by two crescent moons. If one were to look closer at that gem they would notice a pretty little spider encased within it.
Once she was ready, she took one last look at herself in the mirror. Alright Mina, no worries tonight. Focus on having some fun for once, you deserve it. She thought to herself with a sigh before emerging from her room to find her uncle waiting on her. ”Mina, you look absolutely lovely.” He said to her as he held out her arm. She gave him a thankful smile, but was actually assessing the state of him. He looked much better than he did earlier, not near as pale, and it brought her some relief as she linked her arm in his. It seemed he actually took the dose like she told him to and that fact alone lifted some worries off her shoulders.
They entered the ballroom shortly after the two duchesses of Varian and their family, utilizing the distraction to go fairly unnoticed by most. Neither of them liked being in the spotlight too often, but they would accept it if it happened. Once inside, the Count leaned over to his niece to whisper in her ear. ”I’m going to go speak with friends I haven’t seen in a long time. You should go have some fun and don’t worry about me as I’m feeling just fine.” With that he left his niece to stare after him, worry still crossing her face even though he told her not to. She couldn’t help it, she had a feeling she would always worry about her uncle.
After a moment longer of watching him, Mina decided to find herself a drink and stand to the side to people watch as she often liked to do. She gave a friendly smile and a greeting to a few people that approached her, but they never stuck around for long as they were social creatures and Mina currently didn’t have to be. She did keep her eyes open for a few specific people, however, like her dear friend Dr. John Williamson. She spotted him and considered briefly going to say hello, but it seemed he’d found someone to interact with so she held off. There would be plenty of time to find him later.
She also noted Lord Roman, another friend of hers, had also joined this time, which surprised Mina a little. He hadn’t seemed like one to ever wish to come to this big court gathering, yet here he was. She made another mental note to visit with him as well.
She then found her eyes scanning for another she hadn’t seen in a very long time, Lady Charlotte Vikena. When they were younger, the two would exchange book recommendations and discuss the different books they’d read. Mina had truly enjoyed the girl's company, but she’d been so guarded at the time she didn’t allow herself to grow too close to the girl. So, unfortunately, their communication was limited to the times they would see each other at court. Mina had heard, however, that the girl had lost her mother over the last year and it had caused Mina to worry how she was doing. She knew that her stepfather loved her dearly, but the poor man had a rough time at court. She remembered the ferret incident and many weren’t fond of the creature. Mina had found it rather cute, but unfortunately her word mattered little at the time. She only hoped they were doing well.
As she was scanning the room for Charlotte, the highly anticipated guest seemed to arrive. The theatrics of the Alidasht party were surprising, yet Mina found it quite delightful, especially since she knew King Danrose would not be thrilled about being shown up on theatrics. In fact, she briefly glanced at the King just to see his reaction. She had to give him props for keeping a fairly pleasant face, but it was evident to her by a tiny twitch of his eye that he was secretly fuming. She wanted to praise the Alidasht even more after that.
Her eyes fell back on the party as she took in each person she figured to be the royals.The first one she saw was a woman directly to the side of the Sultan was absolutely stunning with light green eyes that contrasted with her beautiful tan skin. Next to her was an equally handsome man, however he looked so stern and cold. She knew his appearance would intimidate many in the room. Then there was another woman with almost golden colored eyes and beautiful hair. Just like her other two siblings, she was absolutely stunning.
On the other side of the Sultan her eyes fell on a smaller woman dressed in a beautiful outfit that just enhanced her own beauty. Then she saw a dark tiger and Mina only had a moment to marvel at the creature when she felt eyes upon her. Her eyes met those of the man, noting his expression, and she found a smirk of her own spreading across her lips. The tiger roared, but Mina didn’t even flinch as she continued the silent, seductive staring competition, even going as far as to obviously look him over. The rim of her wine glass met her smirking lips as she took a sip. She maintained eye contact for a moment more before looking away, feigning boredom, yet the smirk was still there. Perhaps this would be a fun night after all.
For the last 24 hours, young Thea hadn’t been allowed to leave her mother’s sight as Duchess Alice Smithwood was determined to have her daughter sober for tonight’s ball. She was even under guard all night long, something that had Thea absolutely furious. At about the 12 hour mark, the headaches began and she started shaking mildly. She’d also started feeling rather nauseous. All of the symptoms she was having only made her more irritable and she was snapping at absolutely everyone over the smallest things.
Alice and Thea had begun arguing over whether or not Thea would enter the ball with her fiance. Thea absolutely didn’t want to, she was still incredibly upset with her mother for arranging the marriage without consulting her first. Alice was insistent that she did it as it was only proper. The two ended up screaming at one another and poor Valerie tried to calm them down which only resulted in Thea almost biting her head off. In the end, Alice gave in and had to inform the Varian royal family that her daughter wished to spend some time with her elder brother who’d just returned from a trip.
After that Alice attempted to tell Thea how to dress, but that conversation went about just as well as the previous one and, after some coaxing from Valerie, Alice backed off leaving Thea to choose what she wanted. Out of pure defiance she chose a pink and gold dress that was rather short for for Varian standards and slightly more revealing. She thinks she can control my life? Well she’s got another thing coming. I refuse to be controlled by anyone or anything anymore. She thought to herself, not realizing that the habits she picked up over the last year were actually controlling her life.
Eventually the broken family were heading to the Caesonian ballroom, Alice now ignoring her daughter as her antics were only upsetting her and she was determined to have a nice night. Before entering, Alice did turn to Thea to request her daughter avoid drinking tonight and try to be pleasant to others. Before the girl could reply, however, they were entering and Alice swept Valerie into a dance immediately. Thea stood next to Leo, watching the spectacle and rolling her eyes. ”How ridiculous is she?” She said in a disgusted tone to her brother. She watched for a moment longer before glancing over to the food and drinks. ”Well I’m going to go defy Mother Dearest once more and get myself a damned drink.” She sighed as she began to walk, but then paused. ”Oh! And if you see my fiance at all, would you tell him I died or something? Thank you Leo, love you!” She stood on her tiptoes, kissed him on the cheek, before quickly disappearing into the crowd before he could respond.
She weaved her way over to where two men stood talking, one she knew quite well as he’d helped her multiple times when she’d drink far too much. On her way there she spotted hidden under a table the bottles of wine the servants had brought up for ease of access to open and refill glasses. ”Why hello there my lovelies. Looks like you could use some company.” She said to the bottles as she grabbed one and pulled the cork out. She took a swig of the alcohol and sighed in mild disappointment as it was some mediocre red wine. She longed for the harder alcohols the taverns often had. This would have to do for now, however, and she grabbed a second bottle for later. ”Finders keepers.” She giggled as she finished making her way over to John and Kazu.
”John, darling, it’s lovely to see you! I hope I’m not interrupting anything important?” She said with a happy smile to the two men. ”Would either of you care for a drink?” She held out the opened wine bottle, willing to share and make friends if possible. ”Also if either of you see a tall, blonde haired, green eyed pompous prince of Varian coming this way would you be a doll and give me a heads up so I can quickly duck under this table?” It sounded somewhat like a joke, but in all actuality she was being very serious.
Prince Felix Camilia wasn’t a bad person, Thea had to admit that. In fact, he truly would be a good match and would bring their family a fabulous reputation, but Thea couldn’t help but be filled with fear at the prospect. She truly had nothing against the Prince, but she feared becoming stuck in a marriage like her mother had been. So, in her mind, if she could frustrate the Prince enough he might break off the engagement. She wasn’t sure if he truly wished to marry her, especially with the love letters he sent her, but she didn’t wish for him to be stuck in a marriage he didn’t want either.
Before she could say much more, the Alidashi party had arrived and she watched the procession with awe. Every person was absolutely gorgeous and she had a hard time looking away. She also found herself falling in love with the women’s outfits. Oh I must befriend one of them and exchange dresses with them! She thought excitedly. She then noted the large cat and almost instinctively her eyes went to her brother who she knew would be in love with the majestic creature. Said tiger let out a roar that made Thea jump and almost drop the bottle, but she recovered quickly. Immediately after, Thea quickly put down the bottles and began clapping enthusiastically, but slowed as she soon realized she was one of the only ones doing so.
Riona surprised herself every year by forgetting how much she detested these annual gatherings. The preparations began months before the event, but as the special day drew nearer, the servants became busier. In addition to their regular responsibilities, the party's preparations had to be flawless. No, better than flawless. Anything less would be seen as an affront to the royal family. Even if the lack of perfection was due to last-minute alterations ordered by the King himself, his servants were still to blame for failing him. So, they all did what they could. Every demand was met, no matter how ridiculous, dangerous, or unreasonable it was. They did what they could. Even if someone was seriously injured or fell ill because of lack of sleep or overworking. They did what they could because the King didn’t make it a habit to keep useless tools.
As much as months of preparation chipped away at their wellbeing, what Riona hated the most was having to look after the guests. Fortunately for her, she was usually assigned to clean up after guests rather than directly serve them. And my, what a mess they can make. Nobles have complained about commoners being no better than animals, but even Riona has seen pigs that made less of a mess than some of these lot, especially when alcohol and drugs got involved. Riona had a sneaking suspicion that the nobles genuinely believed that they were incapable of making messes. Why would they? As far as they could tell, as soon as they made a mess, it’s magically disappeared within seconds! The servants were invisible in that way. Never noticed until they get in the way of someone.
There were more servants in the ballroom than gusts, but many of them were hidden in the shadows of the pillars or tucked away in the quiet nooks of the vast space. Alert and ready.
Well, Riona thought she was until the guests from Alidasht arrived.
She couldn't stop gawking at the grand parade that was taking place indoors. She would have thought the King had ordered a circus as entertainment if she didn't know better. Someone even clapped at the spectacle. As the parade moved along, the flower petals fluttered to the ground. Feet and paws trampled them, smushing them into the polished floor.
Riona grimaced before turning to another servant who was also on cleaning duty. They made eye contact. Without making any other gestures, Riona directed her college's sight to the flower petals on the floor and then to the animals by looking at them herself. When she looked back at the other servant, she saw the moue on their face. Cleaning smashed flowers from the floor was one thing, potential animal excreta was a whole other matter entirely. Riona prayed that the animals were housebroken, but she couldn't take any chances.
Her colleague turned to face her, and once their eyes were locked again, they shook their head, then pointed their chin at her and then the animals in quick succession. Riona glared in response before mimicking the gesture back. This silent exchange lasted until her colleague mouthed the words “please,” followed by what Riona assumed was an attempt at puppy dog eyes. She huffed. YOU, she pointed at them. OWE. The finger changed directions to point at herself, ME. The other servant gave an earnest nod.
As they slinked off to fetch extra cleaning supplies in case the animals couldn’t resist the call of nature, Riona walked over to the petals on the floor, broom and dustpan in hand. She swept up the petals as fast and quietly as she could, being careful to not bump into anyone or look them in the eyes. The last thing she needed was for one of the guests to think she was challenging their authority by daring to stare directly at them.
She was cautious, but she was only human after all. Mistakes happened. Her focused cleaning and deft dodging skills lead her to back up towards the ballroom entrance. It wasn’t that she was blind to its existence; rather, she assumed that everyone important enough to go through those specific doors was already enjoying the party. When the ballroom was in use, Servants had to use the "hidden" doors that were made to look like they were part of the walls. No one wanted to see servants hauling out the trash so blatantly when everything around them was so pretty.
She heard nothing. Well, no, technically she heard a lot of noises coming from all directions. What she didn’t hear was the doors opening. She startled herself when the heel of her foot landed on something far too soft to be part of the door. She froze in place when she felt the thing move away from her weight. Sh*t. Riona spun around and even before she saw who she stepped on, her head was bowed low as she could go, "I am terribly sorry. Have I hurt you?" She saw the expensive-looking dress shoes and the end of equally expensive-looking pants. She could feel the temperature drop. F**k. Sh*t. F**k F**k. "... Sire."
"Oh! No, no! The fault is entirely mine. I apologize, I should have been looking where I was going." The voice above her sounded chipper, with no hint of anger. "I was distracted by this castle’s beauty. It has so much history… and is in such pristine shape! I suspect I have you and the other staff to thank?"
Riona dared not look up, but the muscles in her body relaxed. "You honor us with your kind words." Keeping her head bowed, she glided to the side. "Please, enjoy everything Caesonia has to offer."
The man thanked her, but lingered a little longer than Riona had anticipated. She took a chance to move her gaze upward. Two others in respectable, but plainer attire, stood behind the man. Most likely his servants. They appeared to be equally unfazed by the accident as their master was. Which was probably the only reason why a maid stepping on a nobleman’s foot wasn’t garnering more attention. The three exchanged hushed words, before the servants left as silently as they came in.
Riona quickly collected the remaining petals around the entrance after she watched the man walk straight towards the throne where King Edin and Queen Alibeth sat. She couldn't afford to have another incident like that happening tonight.
The heavy crown, simple by Alidasht's standards, once belonged to her mother. Decorated with intricate designs of the many flowers from their kingdom and one single ruby gifted to mother by her father. It was a piece that Nahri treasured dearly and one that she was rarely seen without. It had been a gift for her tenth birthday. Nahir had been complaining that if Layla had a crown, so should she. Such a bratty request. Nahir still wondered how her mother and father put up with months of complaints until her mother finally gifted her one.
Things were so much more simple then, they were all young and had nothing to worry about. No schemes, no spying, so false smiles, and half-truths. No lies. Kahrem was still with them, their mother too. Nahir often wondered what their mother would think of them if she were alive. What would she think of Munir's free spirit, or of Layla's distance and even more of Mayet's fiery ways? Of Amir? What would she think of him? Who would Kahrem be?
What would she think of Nahir? Would her mother be proud that she became a diplomat for their kingdom? Would she try to stop Nahir from sneaking off with some of the other nobles in their court or from slipping away from the Royal Palace late at night?
"And Munir, Nahir... Please behave yourselves... Especially among other women and men."
Nahir hadn't realized that their entrance had started already.
She shot a smile at her sister, perfectly lined lips with red curled at the ends just the slightest. Her piercing golden eyes, surrounded by golden freckles like the night sky looked at Mayet as if she was asking the impossible to them. And she was. How could she, their sister, not realize that it was in their nature to seek and reap what was rightfully theirs?
"You ask too much of us, my dear sister." Nahir looked away from Mayet to examine the ballroom. She had been here before, on her tour of the palace the first time she visited Sorian as a diplomat. It had been empty then, and even then the architecture and beauty of it had taken her breath away. Now- full of people, decorations, and food- it was something out of their fairytales. While it did not compare to the grand ballrooms and halls of Alidasht, it was beautiful nonetheless.
Their entrance, while a bit more tamed, was grand. Nahir had suggested keeping the elephants back home. She knew how the King of Caesonia would react to such as extravagant entrance for their first arrival at their host's kingdom. So when Nala announced their entrance. Nahir could see that King Danrose was not at the slightest happy to see the veiled women dancing or the guards- and definitely not the tiger.
Nahir loved it.
"Sister Nahir, look. Fresh prey..."
"My dearest brother Munir, we shouldn't scare them away too soon." Nahir spotted a man with dark curly hair that reminded her of a lion's mane. Despite the clean-shaven face, his expression when Nala roared was nothing but wild. It excited her.
Nahir, like the rest of her siblings, showed her respect to the Crown of Caesonia her gold-painted arms crossed over her chest, making the ornate golden necklace chime quietly as she followed her father's example. Some of her golden beaded curls fell over her shoulder and obscured her vision from her siblings, but Nahir did not have to see to know who had made a mockery of their bow. She had to hide the small amused smile as she straightened back up.
When the formal entrance was over, Nahir stood by her siblings awaiting their introductions. Although, Nahir couldn't help herself from smiling when she heard the applause from one lady a few ways away from them. Nahir wondered if she was drunk, or just lost in the excitement she hadn't realized she'd be the only one clapping. Either way, it raised her curiosity.
The grand hall of the Caseonia kingdom would be considered beautiful, yet Layla had seen grander architecture at her castle. She sighed as she nodded approval. She held her head up high without glancing at anyone. These royals were not impressive. The servant beside her was Ali and one of her closest confidants. She glanced sideways to see him rolling his eyes and snickered. He caught her eye and winked and the two of them looked away from each other. She petted the head of her king cobra’s head, named Zilal. He was wrapped around her waist and shoulders with his head resting on it. She had given him a little suit she’d ordered one of her servants to create and he wore it proudly. She flicked his tongue a few times and she stroked her head absentmindedly to calm her.
She didn’t let her gaze stray as she turned to her Mayet speaking to Nala. ”It would be rude indeed, but it’ll be even ruder if they don’t all take a moment to bask in our beauty. I doubt any of them have ever seen gorgeous people before.” While they entered the hall, Layla withheld a sigh and gazed around with pleasure: all eyes were on them which is how she liked it.
As expected, the Caesonian people were rather sickly in appearance and seemed to cover up so much skin. She wondered if they were sweating under those huge puffy skirts and grimaced, shuddering in disgust. Even the men were covered in so much fabric. Layla hoped they did not expect her to actually touch them. Compared to these roaches, she was dressed much more exposed. Her outfit was airy and she didn’t feel the least bit hot. Her hair was wrapped in an elegant bun with a few stray pieces framing her face. She had added a gold piece to her hair, ears. She wrinkled her nose and then returned to a more pleasant expression as if all her dreams had come true right before her eyes. Then a tragic thought hit her: what if their wine was disgusting too? How tortuous.
As if Munir had been reading her thoughts, he chuckled and told her that she should be nice. She rolled her eyes and scoffed at him. ”Munir, next you’re going to be asking to sprout wings and fly. No one is entitled to me being nice to them.” As the second tallest, she towered over the siblings and was more noticeable than the rest. Still, it wasn’t enough; she wanted all these roaches to see her. Before she could make her move, Mayet ordered Nala to announce their arrival and chuckled. The roar was impressive, and she looked over to nod in approval to Mayet and Nala. ”Nicely done, you two.” Abrupt noise started her. She swiveled around to find a bubblehead blonde applauding them and stifled laughter. Was this girl serious? Had she never seen a tiger? Poor thing.
Layla smirked as she watched her brother Munir settle for walking and gave him a wink as she moved ahead from her spot to the left of the sultan to tap the shoulder of two guards consecutively, ”Lift me up on each of your shoulders. And don’t you dare drop me.” She commanded them. Hastily, not wanting to upset Layla as that often resulted in utter disaster, the two guards aided in picking her up, holding each of her legs as she sat both on one’s left shoulder and the other’s right shoulder. Layla held her head up high, not waving, and simply allowing all to bask in her glory. Instead, she gave them a smile that she had practiced. She knew it was the winning smile that would make their hearts flutter since it often made her appear sweet and warmer than the sun’s rays. Zilal flicked his tongue in pleasure from his head’s place on her shoulder.
Layla grinned at the king and queen of Caseonia, allowing a wink and sweet smile to cover her face as she made eye contact. The king looked dismayed which made her grin inside. Once eye contact had been achieved, she dipped her head in an honorable bow but didn’t let it drop too far. After all, these people were below her family and herself, so why lower herself to their standards? Her mother never would have done so.
L O C A T I O N : C A E S O N I A C A S T L E B A L L R O O M I N S O R I A N I N T E R A C T I O N S : T H E B A L L R O O M , L A D Y T H E A S M I T H W O O D M E N T I O N S : @Tae
Closing his pocket watch, Prince Felix quickly slipped the trinket into the waist coat pocket of his outfit. It was still early evening as the newly dressed night began to add a little more life and color to the arrangements. His gloved hand removed his fingers from any trace of having guided themselves to his pocket. It was not so much the time he had been after, but the shine of himself in the gold of the casing. His eyes had caught themselves quickly, steadying his own gaze and promptly, the time before sealing the device. He had much to do in such a small amount of time.
There was no wasting time at one of these events, as even the finest details have been planned out, months in advance. Therefore, he found no use in making such an event be counted among anything less than important. However, he did not take the banquet so strikingly interesting that he came off with a broken stiffness. The educated man had his own endeavors that sprawled across many areas of interest and not just this one in particular. It just so happened that this grandiose event fell under such jurisdictions to continue his thoughtful attitude.
Among those things that pertained to his responsibilities was determining who desired the most respect at any given moment and noting such personalities with diligence. A competitive spirit had been sharpening its sword long before since the invitations had been sent off, and the theatrical play of festivities had only heightened the competition. Pride was over-flowing with an unwillingness to lose the show under any conditions. Why, he had his own camaraderie to continue.
However, having already made his introductions to all persons necessary, the prince made sure they were brief and timely. He noted himself as patient in his manners. Of course, now having known the allotted time it took him to properly align himself with the respective individuals (spare a few due to others making introductions or being sparse in the moment), he continued his responsibilities: romancing his fiancé. For months now, he had been writing to her weekly. Every Thursday evening, he would conscribe his letter, and every Friday morning the letter was mailed to her at once. By Saturday morning, the letter was delivered promptly to awaken her weekend. He meant none of what he wrote, but with all things considered, it was the thought that counted. He held seriously about the engagement and preferred to keep his letters crossed and dotted.
She wrote back in a language that seemed to hint such interest as his own writing proposed. Although, her in-person manners were less than adamant to what she wrote. For this reason alone, he had found himself glancing his appearance in his pocket watch before making his way under her graces. A bafflement kept him bewildered by her, and he presumed she may have trouble with the arrangements as well. She was not a dutiful woman, and he had been drafted to take her hand under such circumstances. Under negotiations, he agreed to take the coquette for marriage. Thus, for his family's honor, he was to prepare her to be his respectable bride.
From across the room, the young lady wore a pink and gold dress. Her bodice was glimmering under the lights. He would have preferred her to be in something more modest, but standing at rest next to her brother, she looked more protected. She stood upon the tips of her toes, right at the moment and garnished him with a polite kiss before making her way to the alcohol. His eyes quickly left her, glancing to another guest, interrupted in his well-meaning intentions and found himself making quaint with someone less than important than himself. Of course, he let the person have as much respect as the next. After making acquaintances, using his born-into princely charm, there was an interruption -- the Alidashi party.
There was something off-putting about their display. There was something gaudy about their display. And of course, there was something demanding of respect about their display. However, he could not help but think that during their entire spectacle, not anything about the particular opening was as much of a gem than his dear sister and hopefully, his future wife...
... who was clapping. The silence from the dark feline's roar had erupted a silence, but still a clap remained. Quickly, the prince began clapping, as well to accompany her, first out of embarrassment for her outburst and then out of necessity. Is this not what they wanted, a display of such emotion? He could slant this for his family. The Varian Kingdom would not be shaken by the bold introductory, and thus, the guest he had just became acquainted found himself clapping, as well, under the charm of the prince. If no one else joined, it was all well. The idea was genius in its own right. The Varian Kingdom would not be fearful of the Alidasht Kingdom.
Prince Felix began walking over towards Lady Thea. His strides were vigorous, concealing any animosity he was feeling. He knew attention had been driven away from the opening momentarily, and if anything, it was now that he and his fiancé made their introduction to the sultan and his entourage. But first, to test her volatility. With that, it was merely entering the measure of her presence that would tell him her guard.