Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Tpartywithzombi
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Tpartywithzombi “Strong women are absolutely unpredictable.”

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Location: Caesonia Castle
Interactions: Ballroom - Balcony



Violet sucked in her breath, forcing her to stand slightly taller as she watched her sister stride off. Violet was very well aware of her jaded ideals of the court and the process of courting. She didn't make it hard for people to see her stance on things, but for some reason, the idea of sharing a dance with Lord Ravenwood actually brought a soft smile to her face. She was excited to get to know her friend more, being able to have a face amongst the crowd that she could enjoy as her sister did with charlotte.

However, Violet's opinion of lord Ravenwood was likely more inappropriate compared to Crystal over charlotte.

She reached into her pocket and grabbed the book she had stashed in her pocket. Pulling out the small novella she flipped through its pages, it was untitled and tattered, something that she had clearly read many times over. The pages of the book almost appeared torn out from the binding of the novella.

Flipping to the page she was on earlier she continued to read her book. The story was an interesting one, especially considering the events of the night. He leaned over his forge, the hot glass heating to its perfect temperature... she closed the book out of frustration and placed it back into her pocket.

Heading back to the table where Callum and her and indulged in wine earlier, she grabbed herself another drink and stood quietly as she watched her sister push her friend towards another group. She smiled lightly shaking her head, she sure was determined.

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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Heartfillia
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Heartfillia

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Violet , Roman & Crystal






Roman bowed to his dance partner slightly and stepped back as everyone seemed to be finishing up as well. “I look forward to seeing you again Shehzadi Mayet, I do hope the two of you enjoy the rest of your night.” He really did think the two of them would make a good fighting pair and possibly grow to be good friends. This year’s dance did seem to be more fun and friendly than the last time he was here. Who knew that so many could change in a few years with so many new faces.

Moving back towards the food table as the two parted ways for now, he found himself stopped by a masked man with a letter. It was an invitation to the after party. Curious, he hadn’t been to one of those in a while and could use a good drink and a chance to be loud and have some fun. Roman could only wonder who set up the party this time and who would be invited. The last time he was invited he got in a fight with some noble party crashers that found out about the party, breaking jaws was never so easy.

Tucking the letter in his interior shirt pocket as not to lose it, the lord continued on his way through the crowd. Passing the food table for a moment as it was crowded and grabbed a couple small pieces of meat and a couple oyster shells. Glancing around for a moment to try and spot Violet from his vantage point was fruitless so he opted to return to the balcony to eat and enjoy the night air away from the sounds and smells of the ball room.

As Crystal gave Charlotte an extra push when they separated she smiled as she watched her walk towards Lord Leo. As much as she wanted to go to meet him she wanted to make sure Violet got her dance with the bear. She turned to walk back to her sister and stopped when she realized she disappeared. She blinked a few times and looked around. She didn’t see her.

She frowned slightly. Did she go hide to read a book? She let out a huff as held her hands in her lap as she got on her toes to gain some sight…to no avail. However, as she looked, she saw Lord Ravenwood standing out on the balcony. She moved her upper body side to side as she stood on her toes to see if he was standing with anyone, but she couldn’t quite see with everyone walking around.

She thought for a moment as she settled back onto her heels and only a second passed before she thought of a brilliant plan. She quickly moved towards Lord Ravenwood, her heels clacking as she did, saying excuse me or pardon me as she squeezed by other nobles or servants. Once she was close enough she stopped, took a moment to breathe. For two reasons, to work up her nerves and get ready for her little ‘act’. Once she was ready, she slowly walked out onto the balcony.

She put one hand to her mouth as she walked up to Lord Ravenwood and looked back to the crowd. Making quite sure she didn’t see her sister so he wouldn’t catch onto her ploy. Looking back she then spoke softly, U-um… E-excuse me… Sir?”l Her hand covering her chin and bottom lip as she looked up to him. When he would look at her she would continue after glancing down at the ground. ”Could you possibly… help me?” She smiled as a little genuine embarrassment could be seen on her face as she looked back at him. She could see why Vi was so attracted to him…at least physically at the moment. A little redness spread across her cheeks. As she met his eyesight.

Dropping her hand to her lap and gripping her other hand with it.”It would seem I am a bit lost, and cannot find my sister. If only I were as tall as you, maybe I could spot her quite easily.” She said with a nervous chuckle.

A breath of fresh air was exactly what the man needed, being used to smokey conditions was one thing but there was some sort of perfume being used out in the ballroom that he did not find pleasant. Gazing up at the stars and then to the courtyard he barely noticed the light footsteps approaching him from behind. A small sound was all he heard behind him but didn't pay any attention to it at first, almost like a mouse in a thunderstorm. It did take a few moments but his mind did eventually catch on that the mouse was saying words.

Turning from the balcony he spotted the small girl that ran off from the dance floor earlier,
“Can I assist you with something?”
his mouth spoke before his mind could catch up to the fact that she did ask him for help. She was smaller than he thought she would be with an almost timid nature about her. He couldn't help but link her similarities with his youngest sister and the baby of the family Sasha. Relaxing his posture and giving her a small smile trying to appear as non threatening as he could.

She blinked. Was he slightly deaf? She thought she spoke up loud enough. She cleared her throat and stood up straighter, as if it would help her speak louder. I’m sorry to bother you... But would it be possible if you can help me find my sister? I-I Simply cannot find her.” She looked at the crowd of people as if to show how hard it would be. Then back to him. I saw you quite easily through the crowd … so i assumed you could easily find her. I could describe her to you.” She said with a bigger hopeful smile.

It seemed she needed help finding someone if her words were true, he didn't blame her as she was quite small, “well then how about introductions first as it is only polite. I am Lord Roman Ravenwood of Emberstone Stronghold. Who might you be? If you don't want to tell me that's fine I will likely just give you a nickname instead.” Roman continued to smile at her and wondered just how she would reply.

shoot! I can't tell him my name.” She thought as she quickly said ”I-I-I’m so sorry! How terribly rude of me, Lord Ravenwood.” She gave him a quick curtsey as she quickly decided on what to do and once she did she hoped he really was slightly deaf. ”As much as I would love a nickname, Lord Ravenwood we only just met.” She said with a giggle. My name is Lady Crystal Hamein. She said, kinda lowering her voice as she said Hamien. So when he realized it was Violet she could fibb saying ‘I did say Damien.’. She gave him a smile as she rose from her curtsey.

The giant of a man calmly stared down at her as she introduced herself to him, he couldn't help but furrow his brow at her for a moment. Not because of the stutter or hesitation but because she seemed to lower her voice at the mention of her surname. He couldn't tell if she was embarrassed by the name or wanted to keep her last name a secret. “Lady Crystal Hamien?” he looked at her incredulously, “you were quiet as you spoke your last name so forgive me if i sound rude, this is not a trick correct? The first time I came to this gathering some of the other boys tricked me into looking for someone named Mike Oxmaul about a new type of forging hammer he created and it took me the better part of an hour asking around the ball before someone had to spell it out for me.” Again his smile returned and brow flattened, “so you are not trying to trick me, yes?” It was embarrassing for him about the incident but it kept his father and uncles laughing for weeks afterwards.

You’re killin me smalls… She thought to herself. She blinked a few times, at the fact he wasn’t letting it go, and the story that came with it. Now she felt almost guilty for her own innocent joke she was attempting to pull on the man. ”L-L-Lord Ravenwood…” She said looking away, blushing as she did feinting processing the information of his lewd joke experience. But it was really for deciding what to do.

”I-I am sorry, you were a victim of a cruel and quite vulgar joke. But that is not my intention. I simply wanted some help.” She looked back to the crowd ”I suppose I was a bit forward in asking…Forgive my intrusion.” She said as she took a step away from.

Roman sighed with a small smile seeing the young lady step back, “My apologies, I tend to have issues with social interactions… What does your sister look like? Height, hair color, and what she is wearing are a good start.” he hoped he didn't leave a bad first impression on this little mouse, if he did he would have to make it up to her somehow.

She looked back to him and seeing him smile she lowered her shoulders just a tad, with a soft smile of her own.”I-it is alright Lord Ravenwood…I a-also not very good with social interactions as well.” She said as she brought her hands up to her chest. Glad her plan was back on track. Well, do believe me when I say this… She said with a grin. She has the black hair that almost looks like the night sky that sometimes even looks slightly blue. I know with me being a blonde… It's true! She has very pale skin, silver eyes and about my height. Maybe a tad shorter. Which she does hate as she is my older sister. She said with a bit of glee. Her frame wiggled ever so slightly side to side as she was proud of herself in gaining that extra inch on her.

”She is wearing a black dress, with a loose shirt and black corset.” She left out the part of the Raven’s embroidered on it, as it would probably not be seen at a distance. While her description was unique, she was sure it would give it away instantly.

The description this Lady crystal was giving sounded very much like Violet but their names are different but very similar. Cousins perhaps or half sisters? Romans thoughts wandered while his gaze returned to the sky, “Silver eyes that hold mysteries beyond comprehension, as if she fell from the silvery stars to grace us with heavenly beauty.” he spoke quietly to himself then returned his gaze to Crystal. “I can only assume there are a few who could match the beautiful young lady you may be speaking of.” eyes lifting off her and scanning around the room only to catch a glimpse of violet near the food table reading a book, “to the food table then for my first guess.” Crystal did tell him she wasn't joking so he didn't think she was trying to trick him as he began walking toward the refreshment table.

Crystal leaned closer as he spoke softly to himself, but she managed to hear what he said. Her eyes grew wide as she blinked a few times. She felt her own heart flutter at the description of her sister.Oh….wow… She thought to herself. Was this man also a wordsmith? Making a mental note to write that down and use it later, she was pulled from her thoughts as he just suddenly walked away.

She was shocked that he just… left her there. ”Why does she always like the awkward ones…” Crystal thought to herself with a giggle as she quickly caught up to him. His long strides were followed with a triple of hers. ”I..um I’m sorry…you sound like you know her?” She said as she tried to keep up. Holding up her dress just slightly not to accidentally step on it with this fast pace.

Slowing his pace slightly, realizing that the other girl had trouble keeping up as he parted the crowd. “Your description reminds me of someone that I talked to earlier in the evening. She has the most beautiful scars. It is a shame she hides them.” he spoke towards her as he continued excusing himself with occasionally bumping into others or walking in between them as they talked. The black dress and dark hair of the one he spotted earlier grew closer with each step until he finally parted the crowd to a small opening between himself and The Lady.

His hesitation only lasted a moment and he hoped the other girl didn't run into him as he stopped nearly dead in his tracks. The fireflies in his stomach returned with each step toward violet, “Lady Violet Damien.” He spoke as he walked up to her, his smile returning to his face, “I have someone here who might have been looking for you.”

Crystal smiled when he mentioned her scars…he did realize saying that confirmed she opened her shirt to him. Please…for the love of God…Do not say that in front of father… She thought to herself. She let out a small oop. When he suddenly stopped, managing not to run into him just in time. She looked up to see him just stare at her for a moment and she felt her heart flip. He spoke up again, walking towards Violet. Crystal walked behind and to the side of Roman, but as Violet would look at her she would her little sister grinning like a little girl. So excited to see them interact. The smile quickly died down to a normal smile as she moved now around Roman and said “Vi VI I was wondering where you went!”

She stopped in between the two and gave Violet a very specific look before giving her a hug. ”I didn’t realize you two already spoke.” She looked towards Roman and with a warm smile said, ” You Sir…are a tease, Making me describe my sister. Despite hearing my last name.” She was so excited she could hardly contain her joy. The man almost ruined her plans… but she won. Oh it felt so much better in real life than in her books.

Violet stood silent, reading her book while devouring one glass of wine after the other. The constant lines about coffee and the large paragraphs focused on the brewing of coffee made violet raise a brow. She started to wonder if her sister was taking up a new hobby as a coffee farmer.

She put the small book into her pocket as she finished off her last glass of wine. Her face was pink , with all the wine taking effect on her small frame. She leaned against the table, using it to slightly hoist herself steady as she spoke to herself “ So that is what that feels like…” she had never been buzzed off her drink before, but it was helping steady her nerves more.

While she steadied herself she heard a deep voice call her name. Her heart fell into the pit of her stomach as she would recognize that voice anywhere. She turned her head to see Roman standing in front of her , greeting her with a smile as just the look on his face sent sparks over her body. Her eyes widened slightly as she stumbled slightly before standing up to curtsy.

”Lord Ravenwood, wha- “ She was interrupted when she heard her sisters gleeful voice peak near her. She stood up , her hand still on the table as she looked over at crystal, her eyes searing into her as she thought “you…didn’t…you little-” She forced a smile on her face to her sister “ Crystal, I thought you had something to do with Charlotte. I am so sorry my Lord I hope she didn’t bother you”

Roman almost laughed at Violet's condition, one he had seen many times, too much wine on an empty stomach. The words from her dear sister did make him stifle that smile and laugh as he soon realized he had been tricked again. His gaze shifting from violet to crystal a flash of fire behind his eyes, “it is quite alright, even though i did ask her not to trick me it seems that she did anyway… that is an action she will regret at some point this summer, i can assure you Lady Crystal Damien that it will not harm you but i can also be a trickster in my own way.” he finished what he had to say with a devilish smile that soon faded to his normal smile refocusing on her sister.

Stepping up to her and carefully grabbing her hand with his and her forearm with his other he helped to steady violet. “I see you got lost in your book and didn't notice how much wine you drank. It's no worry, drink some water and eat some bread.” his smile remained but he would let go if she resisted his strong arms trying to keep her steady while also trying to make it look appropriate. “I would love to carry you through the next dance but I do not believe it would be appropriate. That's if you would do me the honor of having this next dance with you? If not then maybe Crystal would enjoy a dance?” He knew he might be pushing it a little but he did want to dance with Violet.

Crystal could feel her sister's anger with her with her glare. She only returned a smug smile as if to say “Yes I did”. ”I told you Vi, I just had to talk with her for a moment.. When I turned around you were gone.” She gave her a look that clearly said,When I said don’t give up on the bear I DIDN'T MEAN GET DRUNK She started to get nervous and looked hurt when Violet tried to apologize for her. But then Lord Ravenwood simply smiled.

He knew he was tricked again, But she wasn’t going to admit it so quickly. She looked hurt. ”Lord Raven I did not trick you! I told you my name. You were the one who didn’t hear my request in the first place, and I had to repeat myself remember? Perhaps you should have a physician check your hearing?” She let out a huff, ”As much as I would like to enjoy a dance, I am sadly already taken for this one. Violet would love to dance with you I’m sure.”

Violet stood there, her weight shifted onto Romen as she just stared for an awkward amount of time , her silver eyes focused on his. Blinking, she pulled herself together for a moment before looking down at his grip on her. [color=firebrick] “ Thank you, Lord Ravenwood ..I-..” Her grip on his arm tightened as she steadied her legs. [color=firebrick] “ I am okay..really.” she smiled at him. Her pink face reddened as he mentioned carrying her “ I ..wouldn’t be opposed to that…I have never been one to care what others think. Why start now?” she smiled playfully. She continued to ignore her sister as her eyes were locked onto Romans. “ A dance? Yes, I would love a dance, I really enjoy dancing” she lied, but with him she would. She had just left the dance floor after two steps with the prince , but she could simply spend all night dancing with Lord Ravenwood.

Her mind clicked slightly as she looked away from him for a moment, her face brighter red then what it was as she realized all the things she was thinking she just spoke out loud. Straightening herself she smiled nervously “ I'm sorry, I’ve never had so much to drink in my life before. “

Roman couldn't help but glare slightly at Crystal for what she said but chose not to answer and shift his focus to Violet. “Here, eating some of this will help.” reaching over to grab some small pieces of bread and hold it out to her. “My family drinks a lot at celebrations, we don't always have the opportunity and it's always fun with laughter and the odd fight.” this girl was definitely going to be fun if this watered down wine could do this to her.

The giant chuckled for a moment with his smile, “Tell me Violet, what is your family known for? Are you good at shipping, good at being merchants or miners, maybe even farmers?” he hoped she wouldn't be put off by him inquiring about what their family does as he continues to help assist Violet with standing.

Crystal stood there quite shocked when Violet completely ignored her. She never saw her sister act like this… She was focused solely on the man who now held her, Another thing that surprised her was the glare from Lord Ravenwood, and the total dismissal of her as he focused on Violet. The joy that once filled her was now replaced with a sting of hurt. What did she do? She thought she was being playful… Did she just annoy the both of them with her comment?

She stood there awkwardly for a moment slightly confused with the situation. Her stomach rolled with a flurry of confusing emotions. She forced a smile and pointed awkwardly towards nothing to her right and slowly slipped away. Lovely…Perhaps I should just stick to books… She thought to herself as she looked towards the wine. She reached out and played with one of the empty crystal glasses by rolling it on its base a few times. Before stopping and deciding to walk to the edge of the room.
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by 13org
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13org Stay fresh!

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Time: Early Evening
Location: Caesonia Castle Ball Room
Interactions: @Tae Saiya, @Rodiak Nahir, @Potter Layla, @Infinite Cosmos Munir, @ReusableSword Roman
Mentions: Ryn @JJ Doe




"I can say the same, Lord Roman. I hope you will be able to further entertain me then." Mayet said with a brief nod as the dance ended and each one of them went their own way.

As she approached Nala, she couldn't help but to notice the other Alidasht servants with bewildered expressions as they looked to a certain noble. At first, Mayet thought Nala's patience with some of the ignorant nobles who tried to approach her had finally ran out and she mauled someone, but after a single glance, looking at the noble's satisfied and triumphant expression, she knew exactly what had happened.

"Did you make a new friend, Nala? Normally you would just scare any stranger away with a growl... Even if they offered you some food..." Mayet said, teasing Nala as she looked at the empty plate on the noble's hand.

"I wonder what did cause such a change of heart..." Mayet said, laughing as she teased Nala, whom replied with a huff, pushing her away with her head as she stood up and looked at her again.

"I know it's boring but we have just one more dance, okay? Thank you for looking out for me while I was dancing." Mayet said, chuckling as she leaned down and gently pressed her forehead against Nala's.

"Now, we have some time before the other dance. Let's get ourselves something to snack. Besides, I'm pretty sure Munir, Layla, Nahir and Saiya have a lot to talk about after this first dance." She said to Nala as both of them made their way to the dining table, where Mayet could already see her siblings starting to reunite again.




While Mayet had already dined earlier with Wulfric, she still grabbed herself and Nala a steak for them to snack at, albeit smaller than the first one they ate. The moment Munir began talking, Mayet couldn't help but let out a smile. While she was busy with her own dance and with her little meeting with Wulfric, she did take a quick glance at what her siblings were doing.

"I was honestly surprised you didn't eat him alive, Layla! Although he did seem to be an interesting person to talk with." Mayet said, with a smirk, looking at Layla.

"He certainly didn't look like a noble. Was he a scholar of some kind? The mannerisms and introverted behavior surely seemed like one. He has my congratulations if he managed to dance with our dear sister Layla without being completely dominated by her, right Munir?" Mayet said, playfully teasing Layla as she looked at her and Munir with a mischievous smirk.

"Meanwhile, sister Nahir seemed to have already found a kindred spirit among the guests! She did seem to be quite entertained when talking to him." Mayet said, just as Munir mentioned something about a secret party, which definitely made her curious, certainly paying attention to Nahir's reply.

"I am sure our beloved sister Nahir wouldn't hide such an interesting event from us, right, Munir? Besides... You know well it's impossible to hide such things from him, sister Nahir. If there is one thing our brother Munir is expert at is getting himself in trouble and on parties." Mayet said, laughing as she looked to Munir and Nahir.,

"Oh, but I believe you should know well about Lord Roman Ravenwood, right, my dear brother Munir? I've heard from him that a certain someone from Alidasht hired him as a blacksmith to make a very... interesting piece of jewelry... A gold, jewel encrusted bracelet in the form of a scorpion with an mechanism on it's tail hiding a needle on the very tip of it's stinger and a compartment for certain... 'fluids' inside... Whoever it was that ordered such bracelet had quite an... unique taste..." Mayet said, looking to Munir with a smug smirk of someone who had just discovered a secret.

"And what do you mean by trouble? I haven't done anything... yet... Besides, you know well I would never let anyone tame me. Whoever has the privilege of one day being chosen by me and becoming my partner should know that one must treat a lioness very carefully." Mayet said to Munir with a smirk.

While Mayet did hear Munir's comment about Saiya dancing with Amir and that being the best chance she had of being the Sultana, Mayet simply stayed quiet about it. While Amir was her brother, she and him were never too close and their opinions greatly diverged on a myriad of matters. The thought of having him as a Sultan or even considering what he was capable of doing to attain the seat of Sultan wasn't something Mayet was particularly fine with, nor the thought of seeing her dear siblings fighting against each other and dragging down the mighty kingdom of Alidasht down with their petty squabbles.

Her brother Munir's flirtatious comment to sister Saiya soon took her mind off such dark thoughts, making her chuckle as she leaned closer to Saiya.

"Sister Saiya, you shouldn't feel bad about rejecting brother Munir. I am sure he can take it." she said with a mischievous smile to Saiya, teasing Munir as she said so.
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Potter
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Potter

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Hafiz & Layla

Interaction @13org Mayet @Rodiak Nahir




The music had ended for the icebreaker dance and Hafiz stood lurking off the side of the ballroom like a snake waiting for its prey. He eyed Layla with intensity as he slowly started stalking towards her. On silent feet, he slid up next to her and linked his arm with hers. ”Hello niece. I think it’s time… we talked.” He told her smoothly, leading her off the dance floor and to the sideline.

After finishing the ridiculous dance, Layla had gone over to grab food. She knew Zilal was in good hands, but still wanted to check on him. Munir’s voice interrupted her reverie and she looked over at him. "Sister Layla, it looked like you got paired with a rather stuffy dance partner... He wasn't wearing something that really screamed 'I'm a noble, look at me and my finest plumage~'. I'd bet that you had tons of fun there..." He said, giving her a quick, brotherly peck on the cheek before sauntering over to the next sister.

She grinned at him and nodded. ”You bet I did.” She replied and smiled softly at the quick gesture. As soon as she found the food she liked, an arm linked with her’s, followed by that voice. Layla froze for a moment, then remained impassive as she was forced to follow him. Every muscle was taut and she felt her heartbeat quicken. What did he want? Her expression remained unreadable, and she kept her back to the others so they couldn’t see her reactions. Without looking at him or speaking, she raised her eyebrows questioningly.

Hafiz remained silent for the time he led her away from the crowds of people, smiling at some who greeted them, before pulling Layla out into an empty hallway. ”You’ve been quite the failure this afternoon, Layla.” He began, now giving her a disapproving look and clicked his tongue. ”How could you allow your younger siblings to outshine you like that? Then you went on to do something to have your father scold you, how utterly shameful.” He shook his head as his grip on her arm grew tighter. ”I thought we agreed that you weren’t going to be this pathetic, weak girl anymore.”

Layla remained silent too while he led her out. Dread rose inside of her and she clenched her teeth. What did he want? She could have growled, but she knew better than to show displeasure around him. When they finally stopped, she didn’t meet his gaze. Layla felt a knife pierce her in the heart while he spoke. His grip on her arm tightened and she bit her lip and averted her gaze. There was a pause as she mustered the courage to reply.

”Please let go of my arm.” She requested finally, still refusing to meet his gaze. ”I’m not pathetic or weak anymore. It… It was an accident… It won’t… It won’t happen again.” The ringing in her ears grew louder and she wanted to cover her ears but couldn’t with his grip on her arm. Sweat started forming on her forehead.

Hafiz grimaced as he took the sight in before him, his grip on her arm tightening,“You’re not pathetic?” He repeated venomously and low. “Let me point out the sweat droplets falling down your face… Are you a coward, girl?” He was practically sneering at his niece. She knew her role very well. Though it had gotten off to a decent start as Layla had shown that Vikena girl the wrath of the Alidasht, things had progressed as the others had grown soft. Layla had done nothing to stop it all. Had his brother had no shame for what they had become? He was sure the Caesonia Kingdom would never respect them now. If only…

Layla continued to avert her gaze. Her breath hitched as he tightened his grip on her arm. What did she say? Her heart rate elevated and she felt the room beginning to spin. She bit her lip and shook her head. ”N-no.” Her voice shook for a moment while she collected herself and took several deep breaths. ”I’m not a coward and it won’t happen again. I promise.” She paused for thought and added, ”There might be another dance so I c- will do better.”

“N-n-n-n-no.” Hafiz mimicked her stammering but there was no humor in his tone. ”Layla. Do not stutter. Speak with firm assurance. Get yourself together and show me how serious you are. You are not a child.” He angrily freed her arm, but glared her down. He was thoughtful for a moment before he grinned deviously, his anger remaining but moving to a different target, ”Dance with that Lorenzo and instill fear into him. Show him that he won’t be getting away so easily…”

Layla’s cheeks reddened with anger and humiliation. She glared at him as a small fire formed in her eyes. She sighed with relief when he released her arm and then pulled them behind her back. His anger made her shrink back into the wall and continue to avert her gaze. His proposition made her clench her fists. ”Why would I want to dance with that vermin?” Layla wrinkled her nose and shook her head. ”I’m sure dinner with us will be enough.” She glanced back towards the ballroom and sighed. ”I want to leave.” Her voice shook, but held firm as she finally decided to meet his gaze now, however uncomfortable it made her feel.

Hafiz knocked on her head as if it were a door, “Hello? Anyone in there?” He scoffed in annoyance, rolling his eyes as he withdrew his hand. ”Have you ever heard of keeping your enemies closer than your friends…? I want you to intimidate him. Punish him. How do you expect to be the Sultana if you are so soft.” He spat the last word as if it were poison in his mouth. Though he cared for his niece, he knew she would never be able to fill in the shoes of her father unless she was to toughen up. After all these years, she still showed weakness and it frustrated him to the point of pulling hair out. If this was all for nothing, he was sure he could not die in peace.

Layla flinched when he knocked on her head. Each motion felt more intense than the last and as if her head might split open. Her stomach clenched and felt bile rise in her throat. She pushed back any emotion she felt. Any emotion she felt would be ignored. Layla scowled at him and folded her arms. Though her mind raced, she showed none of it outwardly. ”Fine.” She replied coldly, ”I’ll dance with that disgusting vermin. And at dinner I’ll make sure to terrorize the girl. Happy?” Her voice became dry at the end as she averted her gaze and focused on the ugly wallpaper beside her. Why did everyone in this country have such awful taste?

”Ecstatic.” Hafiz sighed in relief upon hearing Layla’s voice grow cold. He still felt angry but there was hope. There’s my girl. As venomous as the snake she holds… He put a hand on her shoulder gently now. ”Layla. You’ll thank me one day. …You know that right? This is for the good of the Alidasht Kingdom. Remember that.”

”Oh of course.” Layla replied dryly, not allowing herself to roll her eyes. She thought they might burn from the effort of not doing so. She glanced at his hand and put her’s over it comfortingly in return. ”Alidasht is the most important thing to me. You know that too.” She glanced over at the ballroom and bit her lip. ”Can I go feed Zilal? He had a long journey.”

”...We’ve worked so hard.” Hafiz expressed, genuinely venting. ”I know I am harsh with you, but we have a dream to fulfill, Layla.” Inner rage swam in his eyes and he clenched his fists. Alidasht was doomed if they continued under such soft leadership. Certainly another country would overtake it any time soon. Maybe even the one they stood in would take a bite now knowing how they caved so easily. He grimaced at the thought. ”You may. Just remember your destiny, Layla…”

Layla nodded and waited for him to remove his hand first. Once he had, she turned on her heels and went back into the ballroom. On her way there a maid bumped into her; the same from earlier. Layla gave her the deepest, most scathing look and whispered to her, ”Touch me again and your loved ones will be my snake’s appetizers.” The woman’s eyes widened and she scurried off like the rat she’d feed to Zilal. Smirking, she entered the ballroom and saw her siblings gathered together.

Tossing her hair over her head again and smacking another person in the face, she sauntered over to her sisters. She glanced over at Ali and her guards and whistled. Zilal slid off the table and over to her, scaring the hell out of anyone in his way. Laughing, She picked up Zilal and wrapped him around her shoulders while taking a tray of food from a maid and offering it to her siblings. The woman stared with indignation, but under Layla’s cold glare, relented, and then ran off. Snickering, she began eating the food and offered it to her siblings.

Mayet had spoken to her. She gave her full attention while offering some of the chicken to Zilal. “He was a doctor. Only thing he’s worth for though,” She snickered as she continued to eat and sat down. ”Sister Nahir and Mayet, come join me.”
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Terrance420
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Terrance420

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Sir Alden Drake Plannington


Time:Evening
Location:Caesonia Ballroom
Interaction: @FunnyGuy Lorenzo



Alden observed the mess that Lorenzo had made. Glass covered the immediate area as the servant scurried to clean up the debris of the wine glass. However, Alden had noticed the glass might not had been completely emptied, as he noticed a drop of wine had spilt on his brand-new suede shoes that he had obtained overseas. The color of the wine could easily reflect the emotions Alden was currently feeling, Dark red. It would, however, be rude to start an uproar now, especially since his presence at the gathering was still relatively unknown. Plus, Alden felt as if he could gather some valuable information out of Lorenzo as well. With a twitch in his eye, he gave Loranzo a warm friendly smile, keeping his composure calm and well-mannered as he proceeded to shake the Duke's hand.

"It is my absolute pleasure to meet you, Duke Lorenzo. I was unaware that breaking glass was a new Alidasht tradition. Though, I am certainly sure that we should refrain from breaking any more on this wonderous night!" Alden said, giving a light-hearted laugh at the end. Alden then looked at the servant who was cleaning up the floor. "I very much appreciate your efforts in cleaning up the mess. I vow it shouldn't happen again from us. Though, if you find the time, may you bring us two more glasses of wine? It would be much obliged, sir."

For a brief moment, Alden considered whether or not it would be a wise decision to provide Lorenzo with another drink. Considering the current situation that just occurred, he probably was already drunk in some way. That being said, it is a well-known statement that a drunk never lies. In fact, considering the Duke's sporadic behavior, it might just be beneficial to keep Lorenzo in this state, even just for a little while longer. Plus, it would be entertaining to see the events that could unfold.

"If you don't mind, may I ask what is troubling you tonight? Something seems to be on your mind." Alden said in concerning voice. Before anything could of been said, the servant came back with the requested glasses of wine rather quickly. "Ah, perfect! Here, I believe both of these are yours!"
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by FunnyGuy
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FunnyGuy

Member Seen 16 hrs ago


Time: Evening
Location: Caesonia Kingdom Ballroom
Interaction: Alden @Terrance420
Mention: King Danrose and Count Damien

Despite keeping up a smile, Lorenzo had the sinking feeling he had screwed up his first impression since he had not received the hand from Sir Plannington. He slowly dropped his outreached hand toward his side before pretending to brush something off of his jacket to play things off. He still seems friendly. Perhaps I still have a chance to make a friend!

Hope. What should have been a source of positivity was nothing but a curse for Lorenzo. It was the last thing the man needed. It made him complacent and easily manipulated by others. The toppling of the Alidasht royalty was a prime example of what happened when the man possessed that which motivated those in need of faith. He was at his worse when he felt his best. A sad pitiful existence, but it was his to own. His curse.

“Agreed! There should be no more broken glasses. A bit of an experiment on my part, and as we can see, it…” He winced down at the servant who had still been cleaning at the time. “... it did not go very well.” He gave an uncomfortable chuckle as the servant left their company to grab two glasses Lorenzo assumed he and the royal advisor would share. Splendid! having a glass with company meant Sir Plannington had yet to count him out of his good graces. Lorenzo still had a chance! As a plus, more wine would loosen him up as he was still trying to shake off Calbert’s intimidating presence. How did one’s presence linger?

“If you don't mind, may I ask what is troubling you tonight? Something seems to be on your mind.”

Lorenzo unintentionally gulped at the mention of his troubles. He had many, and that was just for tonight. Where would he even begin? Would share his concern for Kier being home alone for the first time in many months? Or perhaps while on that matter, he would share his envy of the Alidasht being permitted to bring their animal companions into the ballroom without a complaint… from anyone it seemed! Okay, he’d keep that to himself. As he pondered on the appropriate answer, the servant returned with the glasses of wine.

"Ah, perfect! Here, I believe both of these are yours!"

“Mine? He blinked at both glasses in bewilderment. Mine?! Lorenzo almost reached for them but stopped himself. The words of Count Fritz tugged at him. Pleaded to him. Begged him. Screamed!

“Yes ladies! Come spend some quality time with your King! Haha!”

Lorenzo looked over his shoulder at King Danrose relishing in the presence of women in seductive gowns rubbing him as he chuckled with pleasure and pride. Lorenzo could not conjure up a scowl as powerful as Count Calbert Damien but scowl he did.

Count Damien was an evil man indeed, but he only thrived due to the political environment King Danrose cultivated. Lorenzo had always bottled up his displeasure for Caesonia’s ruler. There were times when he partially blamed the king for his wife’s death. However, those times were always fleeting, because he knew better than anyone, it was his worthlessness that led to her passing. It was a thought that always kept him from deeply hating the king.

Unfortunately, that thought did not reach him fast enough. Lorenzo needed an escape from this pit of vipers and the second dance had not even started yet.

Lorenzo faced the glasses again and grabbed both with a nod and a smile.

“Thank you.” He warmly addressed the servant and then looked at Sir Plannington. “And thank you as well. When preparing for trouble, it’s always good to make it double.” He played on the advisor’s inquiry about his troubles while clinking both glasses together. He took a long sip of wine from the glass in his right hand and put on a more serious look.

“Thank you for your concern. There is a lot on my mind tonight. For starters, I arrived late. Then I mistook our most honored guests, the Alidasht Royalty, for lowly animal tamers and performers. Then I knocked some… Well, I didn’t knock them over... but my presence probably did not help the situation. I embarrassed Charlotte… my daughter.” He took a few gulps from the wine glass in his right hand and then proceeded. “I was yelled at. My daughter offered herself up to our royal guests to save me. I was yelled at again, but then… I cried in front of everyone.” He took some more gulps from the glass. “Afterwards, I made two acquaintances that I can assume are not very proud of me at the moment. Then I believe I may have made a deal with the devil over on that balcony over yonder.” He got ready to sip again but stopped as he appeared to realize something. “Oh and I lied about the glass as well as the whole thing about the new Alidasht tradition. Please, please, do not do that, ever. I just was startled and tried to save face. Anyway, thinking of all these misgivings Sir Plannington, is exactly what is troubling me tonight.” Lorenzo clinked the glasses together again, before gulping down the rest of the first glass, discarding his modesty completely.

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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by ReusableSword
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ReusableSword The Mighty.

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Violet & Roman






Violet hadn’t even noticed that her sister had left. She accepted the bread but didn't seem interested in it, she just continued to lean against Roman, raising a brow at his question. “ My family?” she had to think for a moment , and without any filtering she cocked her head to the side ” Secrets?” she shrugged ” My Father is a collector of them, I suppose he’s made a career out of that. My mother, well, she …I don't really know what she does in truth. My sister gets kept locked in a room most of the time, and I am just secluded in my own chambers. We also don't really host many parties unless Father deems them worthy of his time. “ she took in a deep breath “ I am just a Lady.” she said simply. Violet was never given much besides classes on how to be the proper lady for her husband, etiquette schools and fashion lessons. She was being groomed to become a Lady that she continued to fight against those standards placed on her.

She reached for the glass of wine near her, and finished off her glass before setting it back down. “ Don't tell anyone though, it is a secret.” she stated. She then began to eat on some of the bread slowly , looking back up at him she admired his face for a moment. Her thoughts continuing to just seep out “ You are a very handsome man Lord Ravenwood.” she smiled at him “ Your eyes jump out like a diamond amongst rocks, just can’t help but look at them.” She looked away taking another bite of the bread before finishing it off.

She really was a lightweight, were the first thoughts to come to mind followed by a few thoughts about poor communication within their household. “Thank you for your compliment, you look quite stunning yourself. Silver eyes that shine like starlight, that is a rare trait to have.” he gave her another smile, continuing to be a pillar for her to remain standing. “Thank you for telling me Lady Violet, I will keep it a secret and do as you asked.” pausing for a moment, Roman thought about if he should ask her now or later. Ultimately he decided to wait on his proposition to her until after the next dance and maybe she would have a clearer mind. With what she said about her father and her sister, Roman could only guess as to the protective nature of her father and hoped he wouldn't be too difficult.

The large man noticed that king Danrose seemed to have called forth his concubines to the dismay of the queen. He felt sorry for her, that she had to deal with that. Shaking his head slightly in disapproval and rolling his eyes he returned them to the gorgeous young woman that was still holding on to him as she ate. Her presence alone was starting to make him relax and the firefly’s from earlier had subsided. “Tell me, if you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?” He knew he wasn't great at conversations so he figured he would at least try.

Violet continued eating her bread, she offered him a smile at his compliment as the butterflies in the pit of her stomach moved around wildly. She started to feel a bit better, at least the spinning of the room had slowed to a slight wave. She thought for a moment trying to peace her mind together. She shrugged “ I honestly do not know..the thought never crossed my mind as it was never a possibility for me to leave.” she paused ”but..if it's not too forward to say..the place you described…where you're from..really does sound like a sight I would love to see. The idea of a town built into a mountain surrounded by snow and crisp fresh air sounds like a dream. “ She started to lean less and less on him, though her hand still lingered on his arm. “What are your dreams Lord Ravenwood? A place you could see, a moment in your life or perhaps an object you wish to obtain“

It would seem that Violet wasn't as far gone as he thought and seemed to be recovering rather quickly now that she was eating something and didn't seem to hold on to him as tight but didn't seem to want to pull her hand away just yet. “Hmm my dreams?” Roman had to think about it for a moment and kind of look off into the crowd while he gathered his thoughts. It wasn't a tough question but he was thinking about how much he should say. The last thing he wanted to do was scare her off but he didnt think that would be an issue here with her. “I am a man of simple things, I don't care to grow my position in the nobility. All I want to do is work… but what do I need? What are my dreams?” again he paused but kept his eyes on her, softly staring into her silver orbs.

“I have sailed the sea’s with our merchant ships. I've seen the lush jungles and dry sea’s of sand of the Alidasht kingdom. I have walked through the plains and swam through lakes and rivers in this kingdom and Varian. Climbed mountains, braved storms, traveled through the endless night of winter in the far north. From ancient caves to beautiful forests and vast cities there is no place like home.” He paused for a moment to judge her reaction and continued, “my dream is to find my home. Sure I'm from Emberstone Stronghold but I'm afraid I won't find my home until I find the one that is meant for me and I for them. Someone who doesnt mind having a big family with many children, that supports me in what I do and that I can support them in what they do.”

Another slight pause and a sigh before finishing what he had to say, “I have a house, I have a big family, my dream is to find and make my home.” Now all he had to do was wait and see if he came off a little too heavy handed or not being fully aware that he does that sometimes. ”I think you would like it up there in Emberstone as long as you bring some warm clothes.”

Violet looked at him, unwilling to break eye contact. She couldn’t help but feel his restraint , possibly holding back out of fear .. he too wore a mask of his own, but she could sense his was less nefarious than others. “ I am used to wearing many layers Lord Ravenwood.” she paused for a moment, the small amount of alcohol in her system edging her onwards. “ But from what i’ve been told, the best way to keep warm is skin to skin contact.” she offered him a devilish smile before switching the conversation back.

” That sounds like a wonderful dream to have…To see so much of the world and what it has to offer to only bring you back to the idea of home being the most blissful is very poetic.” She figured she had lingered enough, her hands offered a slight squeeze before removing them from his arms. “ Thank you for helping me, I am feeling slightly better. I had not realized all that I had drank, I had seen you and Ma-” she stopped herself, her face brightened slightly as her rosy cheeks reddened. “ You seemed to have enjoyed your last dance, mine was…uneventful. Another Prince being pawned off to me in attempts to make some perfect match that I care nothing about. “ she looked back at him with her silver eyes “ at least my next will be with a friend.” she smiled brightly at him, the first time this evening that she actually felt excited for something.

“Skin to skin contact does help to stave off death from the cold and keep one another warm, but so does moving always moving. Good stamina and strength are good things as well for keeping warm.” Roman did not think that they were talking about the same thing but gave it his best regardless. “I'm the oldest of my many siblings at 30 but the last to find someone to call my own. Thank you. I know a little about poetry, occasionally someone will want an inscription of poetry for a loved one engraved on their piece.” This night was turning out to be quite enjoyable as the time rolled on and Roman was going to enjoy the time he had.

“I will never say no to a good time unless it goes against my loyalty to my family or my lover, which currently I do not have one.” again he wasn't sure why he was being so frank with her but he liked it, only time would tell if he would regret this later. “The Alidasht royalty will always be fun to play with but I don't think they would want courtship with me as I'm not very high on the noble ladder but I can see them trying to be my friend or at least friendly to gain favor with my family. Not only having our services but possibly being able to deny others our services could be a good tool to have if you needed it.”

Smiling still he felt her let his arm go. Although he was relieved she was feeling better, something about her hands holding on to him felt good to have that contact. “Yes, I do believe we will have a fabulous dance. I'm glad I found such a gorgeous dancing partner. Everything has beauty but not everyone sees it.” he did not break his gaze on her for a moment, “I can truthfully tell you that i see it.”

Violet stared at him a bit speechless for a moment. She hadn’t even noticed the fact that her collar had slid down past her comfort zone. It took her a moment to realize before she reached for it and with a moment of hesitation she stopped. Her fingers slowly closed as she dropped her hand down.

” You don't have a woman?”she took a pause looking confused ”I am surprised, you seem like someone who wouldn’t stay on a market for long..I mean..you're handsome, creative and family driven. she eyed his physic “ amongst other things…” she reached for a glass of water off the table, setting her small plate of bread down. ” I am certain you have suitors lined up out the door for you waiting for you to court them, so how come you haven’t found one of your liking yet? Violet was always very forward, she figured seeing as how the man had yet to piece together the small bread crumbs she had left him she figured it wouldn’t hurt.

Roman was curious as to why she was surprised that he had not found someone yet, sure he was a little above average for height where he is from but he didnt think of himself any more then slightly above average. Maybe these southern girls just don't have the options available to them like the women back home. “Well for the past 6 or 7 years I have been focused on my work and training. Some of my last clients requested weapons I was not familiar with so I had to train with them before I could build them. It has been some time since i was able to get out other than make deliveries.” he watched her eyes dance across him but couldn't figure out what detail she was picking up on, “amongst what other things?” he gave her a puzzled look, obviously his mind was not in the proper place for this conversation as it was too busy thinking about her instead.

“I'm not sure what you mean. I should tell you I'm not the best at…. Sarcasm? Or uhh figures of speech when I'm flustered.” he was being honest as he spoke and the facial expressions he was making as he tried to figure out this verbal puzzle he found himself in was a clear indicator of this. “I've never seen a line by my door or anything, I'm not sure why they would wait there in the first place. I guess when it comes down to it I just never felt a connection.'' He had to pause to get himself back in control and not look like a blubbering idiot for once and actually breathe. “I apologize, I tend to throw out information when I'm nervous…” his hand reached up to scratch his head for a moment as he gave her a sheepish smile.

Violet blinked twice, this man clearly had never had a woman flirt with him before but if he had she wouldn’t be surprised if he never realized it. “ um-” she looked at him slightly speechless. ” I fluster you?” she asked with a smile. ”I can assure you, I am not being sarcastic, I am very much confused how you are not taken. However, after this conversation I am slowly seeing why.” she let out a slight laugh ” when a woman flirts it appears to go right over your rather tall head.” she smiled ” I find it charming though.”

“Yes you fluster me, you make me want to be myself but I can't be myself in places like this. I'm too loud.” he said, keeping his sheepish smile for a moment longer before furrowing his brow in thought. “Oh you're flirting with me? It's a cultural thing, my people are rather direct and to the point life is short in the north… well it used to be.” his mind moved back to what he was thinking earlier and he decided to move his plans up a little, “Lady Violet Damien, i might be rushing things with this but over this next summer… would you allow me to court you?” his confidence returned to him as he held out his hand politely towards her knowing the next step is to talk to her father.

Violet stood slightly dumbfounded. She certainly wasn’t expecting that. ” Well, as you feel you cannot be yourself, I feel similarly. It would have been made much clearer if we weren't in a room surrounded by people. “ she smiled, knowing he likely wouldn’t even realize to what extent she would have made it clear. Her mind drifted to the time they shared on the balcony. It was when he asked to court her that she felt her knees buckle slightly as she reached behind her to steady herself again but this time against the table. Her face held a brighter red than it had all evening as she had to pull a small fan out from the pocket of her dress to fan herself. “ I am sorry m’lord it seems that wine has done a number on me…Did I just hear correctly? You..Lord Ravenwood want to court me?” she looked at him perplexed.

Violet's reaction caught him off guard for a moment, he wasn't sure if there was something wrong or not when she quickly held onto the table and looked as if she were to faint. “Are you ok?” his voice was worried for a moment but he composed himself when he saw her balance herself on the table. “Yes I lord Raven Romanwood… err.” his face felt like he was looking at the heart of a forge at how hot it was getting. “I… Lord Roman Ravenwood asks for you, Lady Violet Damien, to allow this humble soul the Honor of Courting you over the summer while we are staying here.” He wasn't quite sure if he was moving too fast but sometimes when you know you know.

Violet covered the smile on her face when he messed up with own name, biting back a laugh as she didn’t want him to think she was mocking him. Removing the face from her face, she smiled brightly and nodded softly. “ I - … Yes..Yes. “ she struggled to find the right words. She cursed in her mind at how this man had that power over her, she always had something to say. “ I would be honored. “ she smiled at him. “ It’s quite warm in here..I might take a moment to step outside, you’re welcome to accompany me if you wish.

“I-i think that is a good idea.' ' He looked around for a moment and decided to lead the way to a balcony nearby. “I truly hope you don't mind me being blunt, I just don't know how to go about these things very well.” Roman made sure to walk slowly and keep her near his side so she could still hear him as they got closer to the balcony. He could already feel the temperature drop a little but his face still felt hot. “I'm not sure how this will work with that arranged marriage you were talking about earlier. I suppose I could duel the guy or scare him.” by the sound of his voice he was considering this as they made it to the balcony.

Violet followed beside him, her hand picking up the folds of her dress as she walked towards the balcony. “ Lord Ravenwood, I would much rather you be blunt and honest than beat around a bush. My life has been surrounded by secrets, it's refreshing.” She took a deep breath as the air hit them. It felt as if it was the first breath she had taken during that whole conversation. ” I think you mistook what I was explaining, I am not promised to anyone, I wouldn't allow him to do so. Much to their frustrations, and their attempts at tossing Princes at me, I simply wasn’t interested.” she paused ”I never thought I would marry, court or even simply entertain the idea. I was happy keeping to myself, reading my books in the corner of the room alone.” Leaning on the edge of the balcony ”until you..” she looked up at him, the moonlight reflecting off her dark hair.

“I'm glad you would rather me be blunt, you will get along well with my family.” his big smile grew smaller as she spoke. Gently taking one of her hands in his admiration at how small it looked before clasping it with his other hand he stepped up close to her staring into her silver eyes in the light of the moon. “Anyone can prefer solitude but none can endure it, that existence sounds lonely… heart breaking really. Yet it reminds me of myself getting fixated on commissions and spending likely unhealthy amounts of time at the forge and away from my family.” His voice was quiet and soft, “your eyes are a portal to another place filled with magic and mystery, I could get lost in your gaze for the rest of the night. They hold happiness and sadness in tandem almost as if I can see your very soul.” his vocabulary wasn't always limited when it came to being able to admire beauty when he saw it and this… this girl was definitely beautiful.
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by SilverPaw
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SilverPaw

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Wulfric, Leo & Charlotte


Mentions: Crystal @Heartfillia Kazumin @samreaper Mayet @13org Nahir @Rodiak



Wulfric was at a less crowded part of the catering tables, enjoying a glass of lemonade. He’d had it ordered freshly made, so the cubes of ice inside were not yet melted, and he was able to enjoy its pleasant coolness. Some mint leaves had been added as well, which made for a truly refreshing beverage. His gaze swept across the ballroom, taking in the guests. He noted who was conversing with whom, and where. One of the people he’d been meaning to talk, Leo Smithwood, seemed free enough. His sister was enjoying the evening elsewhere, and his dance partner had departed as well. Finishing his drink, Wulfric strode towards the man he considered a good acquaintance, perhaps even a friend.

Sure steps carried him close, and Wulfric arrived in such a way that Leo was unlikely to miss him. “Lord Smithwood, good evening. It has been too long,” his tone was polite, but there was also a hint of warmth in his greeting. There were not many people he sought out primarily for their company, rather than another reason, but the Varian noble was counted among those few.

Leo, lost in his own thoughts, focused on noting who had danced with who, and who was now conversing with who, soon found his attention caught by Wulfric. The prince carried himself with more than enough presence that it was hard not to notice him. While Leo was on friendlier terms with this royal, he bowed just as respectfully as he would any other, but with Wulfric such signs of respect had been earned rather than simply obligatory. As he raised his head back up he wore a bright smile. There was something to be said about remaining on good terms with a future king, but more than just the addition to his social circle, Wulfric was one of the few nobles who really understood what it was to live. He’d seen the prince hunt, seen him fight, and Leo saw a man who knew what it was to be in tune with both nature, and one’s own nature.

“Your highness, too long indeed. Today must be my lucky day, to hold company with so many fine royals in the span of mere minutes. The Danrose house certainly means it when they offer us the event of the season, another exceptional ball.” Leo offered up the expected titles of respect and compliments, but his euphuism was genuine. “And a tiger roaming the ballroom, that is a sight I never expected to see. Truly, I am in awe tonight, and how has tonight treated you?” He asked, and used the brief pause to scan the faces of the ballroom, searching for Thea, hoping she was having an equally grand night.

Wulfric inclined his head, accepting the acknowledgment of an event well done. He’d had a hand in part of the organization himself, after all, even if not to the extent his mother had, for example. He’d assisted in the budgeting and other administrative tasks, such as signing off on the invitations after his parents had done so. “Our long expected Alidasht guests have certainly enhanced these proceedings. I must admit, I was initially skeptical of so many animals indoors. However, they are overall well behaved. As well, I have since learned that the Alidasht value their companions in a manner different than we do,” the prince was diplomatic enough to make allowances for behaviors he considered unusual, if nothing else. When Leo looked away, and was thus not paying attention, Wulfric assessed the man’s body. He was at least as fit, if not more so, than the last time they’d seen each other, so he must have continued pursuing his active hobbies despite - or maybe because of - his personal loss.

Before the direction of his stare could be noticed, Wulfric redirected his gaze to the ballroom proper, and continued the conversation. “Besides,” here, his voice took on a very dry tone, “There are some people here who are much more obtrusive than any of the animals could be.” He exhaled sharply through his nose in a light scoff. Wulfric’s gaze was inevitably drawn towards Kazumin, who had just knocked into another person and was now juggling grapes for some inexplicable reason. Tempted to sigh, he instead rubbed his temples and looked away before a stress headache could befall him.

“Other than the interference from their ilk, my evening has been enjoyable, thank you.” As his attention turned towards pleasanter topics, his expression smoothed out, the previous brief bout of tension lessened. “The highlight of which has been speaking to Shehzadi Mayet, most certainly. I am truly looking forward to the promised dance with her,” he smiled, and his lids lowered in pleasure as he sought out her presence among the attendees. She was otherwise occupied, but whoever held her attention - including Lord Ravenwood, who’d led her for the waltz - did not unduly worry Wulfric.

“Speaking of, you were indeed fortunate in today’s luck of the draw, were you not?” this referred to the fact that Leo had been paired with Shehzadi Nahir Ibn Raif Kadir. “How was it?” the prince raised a brow inquiringly, curious if the man had made good progress in getting acquainted with a foreign royal - and what level of interest existed between the two.

Leo followed Wulfric’s gaze to Kazumin, the man with the cowlick he’d seen talking to Thea at the start of the ball. It was clear the prince didn’t like the man, and there Kazu was playing with grapes and making more of a disruption than the several wild animals in attendance. “Ah, yes that one, do you know him? I was starting to assume someone had brought their jester with them tonight. I saw him speaking with Thea earlier, should I be concerned?” Leo asked, his features tightening. The last thing his family needed was a destructive force, like some jester dressed as a nobleman, drawing his sister into further turmoil.

“I do not know his name, but you might recall he claimed to be a storyteller during that whole drama with Duke Vikena. Even then, he interrupted when it was not his place to do so, but the Sultan was intrigued,” he briefly summarized for Leo who’d either forgotten or had not noticed the man’s presence at the time in the first place. “As for being concerned…whoever he was paired with for the first dance ran away from him for some reason while crying. However, it seems Anastasia voluntarily approached him and was thoroughly entertained by him. My conclusion would be that though any harm he causes may be unwitting, there is a surely a risk involved in having someone so foolish and careless around.” Wulfric was inclined to be frank on this matter; more eyes on a potential nuisance could only be helpful.

Leo nodded, paying careful attention to what Wulfric said and thinking about the deeper meaning behind his words. The majority of cowlick lad’s antics were basic buffoonery, the sort of pest that would likely be resolved without intervention, but hearing that he’d made a lady of the court flee his presence in tears was an entirely different concern. Leo nodded again, this time slower, to show he understood, he too would be keeping an eye on the blonde stranger, and Leo would certainly be keeping him far from Thea. “I see,” Leo added but said nothing further on the matter. It was also clear that Wulfric didn’t want to waste too much time discussing the foolish lad and neither did Leo. He returned the discussion to more pleasant matters.

“And I have been fortunate indeed, to have danced with Shehzadi Nahir. An illuminating experience; from kingdoms so vastly different and all I found was common ground. Well, common ground and golden eyes I found myself lost in. The entire building could’ve fallen down and I doubt I would’ve noticed.” Leo relaxed as the subject was changed, grinning as he thought of his dance with Nahir. Wulfric noted the man’s wide smile, and thought he was rather dashing when he was so expressive. His eyes were especially intriguing, not only due to the lighting enhancing their sparkle, but also the joy reflected in them. Of course, neither Leo’s reaction nor his interest was intended for him, so Wulfric suppressed these stray thoughts.

“Now, Shehzadi Mayet, she must be the spitfire with the tiger? I wish you the best of luck, though I hardly think Caesonia’s favorite prince would need it. How did you fare in the dance lottery?” He asked, knowing full well that King Edin always handpicked the dances for his sons, and simply wondering who the monarch was hoping to add to his family.

“Yes, she is, and her companion is in fact a tigress,” Wulfric replied, smirking. He did not believe he needed luck with her either, but he’d take the well-wish regardless. He could certainly use the luck for dealing with his father in regards to the day’s events, when he’d unavoidably have to speak with (or be reprimanded by) him. At the following question, he shook his head. “Curiously enough, there’s been an interference today,” he said, voice automatically lowering as he imparted this. “While there has never been a true luck of the draw for me before this very day…Let us say the usual servants must have been waylaid,” the hint of viciousness on his emphasis made it clear he believed that someone was behind this. He intended to find who - he had a good guess anyhow - but more importantly, the various whys of the situation.

“Waylaid? A strange plot, through interference in such a minor matter only means they’ve tipped their hand too soon. No doubt you’ll get to the bottom of this in no time, but if you need a hand, mine are always free.” Leo offered, pressing no further for details into the prince’s dance, as always, Wulfric shared what he wanted to. The idea of a conspiracy at play was not a surprise, but to go about it by attempting to embarrass a prince with a mismatched dance didn’t exactly give the impression that a mastermind was at work. “Have to wonder, what exactly their endgame could be, those responsible would have to be fairly confident in their ability to remain hidden to waste the first move like that. You think you’re dealing with foolishness or hubris?” He added, thinking out loud.

“Yes, an odd maneuver, to be sure,” Wulfric agreed. If his guess as to who was correct, the person could afford to make it, but the reason as to why this particular action at this particular time was beyond his understanding at the moment. This was partly why he didn’t intend to implicate whom he thought might have done it; it was so strange of an action, his suspicions may very well be incorrect. Before enacting a counter-move - and revealing inconclusive evidence or all his unformed thoughts to Leo might count as one - he needed a firmer grasp of the plot. “Thank you for the offer. If I find myself in need of assistance, I shall take you up on it,” he was genuinely grateful, and did intend to accept if he believed it sensible to do so.

Wulfric didn’t think that this open interference was a first move at all, but didn’t say so. To the posed question, he answered, “The latter.” Then, he offered some of his perspective on the matter, though not the reasoning behind it. “It seems to me that it is either someone who doesn’t care if they show their hand or someone who intends to taunt me by doing so.” Perhaps Leo would guess that in his mind, the culprit in this instance didn’t necessarily need to remain hidden, and why the prince supposed that might be the case.

“Well, sounds as if the hunt is on, I’m sure you’ll have your quarry in no time. I’ll be sure to keep my eyes and ear open, for any signs of treachery.” Leo said, although he had already planned on keeping alert for an entirely other conspiracy, the troubling mystery of what had happened to his father. He doubted the two matters were related, and one did not just ask a prince for a favor with nothing to offer in return. It was troubling, however, to hear that someone had made any attempt to undermine a Caesonian prince. It seemed as if the fabric of order that held both Varian and Caesonia together was beginning to unravel, a most disturbing trend.

Then he noticed Charlotte being pushed towards them by a lady he did not recognize. Leo immediately packed away such thoughts, and offered a welcoming smile to one of his oldest friends. “Lady Charlotte, a delight as always, please join us.” He moved his hand to beckon her towards them, hoping that the animosity between the heads of the two Caesonian houses did not extend to their heirs.

Charlotte had stumbled as she had been pushed forward into the crowd. As she caught her footing on the other side of it, she was greeted to the sight of Lord Leo Smithwood, unsurprisingly as that had been the target destination, and surprisingly Prince Wulfric.Oh no. Prince Wulfric is surely going to hate me after all that. This can’t be good. Charlotte pulled together a smile and made her way over to stand before them. ”Hello gentlemen! Uhm-Your Highness.”She hastily bowed to the prince politely, hesitant to make eye contact. ”Hope I am not interrupting anything.”

As their talk of the mysterious plot concluded, they both caught sight of Charlotte approaching. Or rather, someone had urged her in their direction. Wulfric stared at the young woman who’d done so in contemplation. Though he’d only seen her from the back as she fled the dance floor, her dress and blonde hair were distinctive. Though he’d not met her, there was something about her that wouldn’t quite give his mind a rest. This was why he disregarded Charlotte’s strange awkwardness - she was likely still uncomfortable due to the incident her father had caused - and decided to ask her about her acquaintance.

“Lady Vikena,” he greeted her neutrally, and gave a quick but courteous bow. “You did not interrupt,” his assurance was curt, however; he was eager to make his query before the opportunity escaped him. “If I may, who was the young lady by your side a moment ago? I feel as if I should recognize her, and yet…” Wulfric trailed off, frowning off into the distance, trying to find Crystal’s silhouette once again. However, the woman had already disappeared, blending in with the rest of the gathered. Thus, he returned to calmly observing Charlotte. He rarely had occasion to speak with her, and did not mind the idea that he might get to know her better.

Leo only nodded in agreement with Wulfric, momentarily distracted by trying to catch a glimpse of the woman who had pushed Charlotte forward. He hadn’t recognized her either, and while there were several faces here he didn’t know, he simply assumed if he didn’t know who someone was by now, they weren’t worth knowing. The exception, of course, being those from Alidasht as they were all new to him, but he’d been mingling with the nobility of Varian and Caesonia for many years. Still, if Wulfric was taking an interest there had to be a reason, and he waited for Charlotte’s response.

Charlotte followed their gaze for a moment. Her brow slightly raised with intrigue. She wondered if Wulfric was interested in Crystal. She was glad her friend was gaining attention; Crystal was a sweet girl who deserved the attention of suitors. ”That’s Lady Crystal Damien. “ The last name was informative enough to not require any further explanation. ”It has been some time since she graced the public eye, but she has ever the lovely personality.” Her gaze moved to Leo and she smiled at him, ”We’ve been friends since young just as Lord Leo and I have. Small circle this all tends to be.”

“Ah, of course,” there was an appreciative realization in Wulfric’s voice. He did enjoy putting a name to a face. Though both had been known to him years ago, he’d thought Crystal might not ever make another appearance at court, and what little impression she’d made on him had faded during that time. Though it was wrong of him to have forgotten, he’d avoided revealing that embarrassing detail to Count Damien, if nothing else. “That it is,” he replied, in agreement that due to their relatively few numbers, the nobility did tend to form close ties - or bitter enmities.

Neither was true for him or Charlotte, however. And while her courageous self-sacrifice to the Alidasht had been impressive (and frustrating), it had already tarnished her reputation, and might do so even more severely, depending on the kind of rumours that would form. Her repute was not beyond repair, but would he be willing to aid in its recovery, however minorly, merely to sate his curiosity? There was the potential of alliance between them, but that was an unlikely goal of questionable worth. Still…he had had that faint idea that making her Dutchess sooner rather than later might resolve the Lorenzo issue neatly. If her father was relieved of the duty of making public appearances, or at the very least of the burden of serving as Lord of his House which he was clearly unsuited for, wouldn’t everyone fare better for it? It would be one of his speculative gambles, but he felt in the mood for it.

“Since the two of us are barely acquaintances, though - and when you aren’t otherwise…occupied,” this referring mainly to the compulsory dinners with the Alidasht, and whatever else they might decide to have her do in the privacy of their rooms, “Perhaps you could join me for tea sometime,” he said offhandedly. His casual invitation was certainly in contrast to the amount of thought he’d put behind it, but thankfully the contents of his mind were not so easily discernible.

Charlotte had been perplexed by his initial statement, murmuring under her breath as she tasted the words, ”Otherwise… occupied…” It was only magnified when he then invited her to tea. She paused. I guess he doesn’t hate me. Well that’s good. The more she thought about it, the more she realized that Wulfric and his siblings did not receive the same opportunities as the rest of them had as children to build close bonds with the other nobles. King Edin had certainly kept them busy. Perhaps her mentioning such with Leo and Crystal had caused Wulfric to long for friends too. She had never realized how melancholic such a notion was. ”O-Okay. That would be nice… Let’s have tea sometime then.” After another thoughtful hesitation, she added, “I know perhaps we haven’t all had the chance to be friends in the past but now is as good a time as any. I think with everyone here for the season, we should all become friends.” She gave Wulfric a warm smile. The prince was surprised by this addition, but nodded gracefully in acceptance.

“By the by, speaking of friendship, did Lady Damien inform you what that infernal man who’d been paired with her did that caused her such distress?” Wulfric naturally assumed that Charlotte would know what he was referring to, given the claimed bond between the two women.

”Oh my. Infernal?”Charlotte looked over her shoulder toward her friend with worry, ”She did not mention anything to me about it … I hope she is alright.” It wasn’t hard to spot Count Damien in the corner of the room nearby with a furious countenance. His wife seemed to be speaking to him lowly. She found herself for a moment feeling more sympathetic for whoever had upset Crystal than the girl herself.

At the revelation that Charlotte did not, in fact, know what it was that had happened, he hummed thoughtfully. He followed her gaze towards the Count, who was visibly enraged. “I suppose she has confided the matter to her family, then,” he concluded. “But just in case he ever thinks to bother her again, let me point him out to you.” He subtly inclined his chin in Kazumin’s direction. “See, that one with the cowlick over there?” Just then, the man in question was crawling on the floor. Had he managed to offend someone to the point of having to beg for forgiveness, now? Wulfric shook his head in disbelief.

Leo watched the interaction between the two for a moment, relieved to see it turn out to be an amicable one. Prince Wulfric’s offer of tea was a kind one, but it also did not escape his notice that this was the second time Wulfric had asked for information on Kazumin. Leo wondered if Kazumin knew exactly how many potential enemies he’d likely made for himself in the span of one night? At best if the man continued to make a scandal of himself it would at least split some of the heat away from the Vikena house.

“Infernal.” Leo repeated the word to show he agreed and glanced at the blonde man crawling about on the floor. “How else could you describe someone who goes about causing trouble for the more, sensitive, ladies of the court?” He added with a shake of his head. If he remembered rumors correctly, and he usually did, Count Damien’s mysterious younger daughter was said to have inherited her mother’s fragile constitution. “Though if your friend has already informed her parents of the situation I have no doubt adapt hands are already on the matter.” Leo continued, and one rumor he had little doubt in, was that the silver-tongued schemer, Count Damien, was a dangerous man to cross.

Charlotte had gazed in the direction of the fellow on the ground, nearly raising a brow. He was infernal? He certainly did not look so. ”Oh he’s something straight out of the depths of hell.” Charlotte couldn’t help but reply with a little sarcasm. The mysterious blonde with the unkept hair collecting grapes on the floor was the last person she expected to be pointed out.

Still, if he had truly hurt Crystal, she’d would be cross with him. Her own voice echoed in her head as she had promised her friend that she’d have her back. ”I-I will confront him before the ball ends and find out what happened.”She finally told the two of them. Charlotte was a little afraid to do so as she had not been in any sort of confrontation since grade school. However she wanted to be a good friend to Crystal and if she had confronted the Sultan himself, then this would be a walk in the park.

Wulfric didn’t think Charlotte confronting that buffoon was necessary at this point, nor did she seem particularly invested in doing so. However, all he said was, “If you like.”

She clasped her own hands together and nervously tried to change the topic, ”Anyway, Lord Leo. How have you and your sister been fairing? I-..” This subject was potentially worse. Tears were threatening to form but she very stubbornly did not let them as she lowered her head to blink them away.

She sighed as she finally said, ”I’m sorry.” Charlotte was apologetic for not writing often enough, for not taking a carriage to their kingdom to be there for them, and for everything they had to go through. Yet it was hard to find the words past the apology itself. She could only hope as she raised her gaze to look at him that he would still understand her enough to know how much that simple phrase had carried.

The prince tilted his head to the side curiously, watching as Charlotte came dangerously close to crying. Was she so deeply affected by the disappearance of a friend’s father? It had been quite some time for her to still be saddened. Nonetheless, this was evidently a topic she needed to discuss with Leo - perhaps in private. However, Wulfric did want to hear the answer to Charlotte’s question, because although he might not be as emotional about the topic, he did care enough about Leo to discover how he was.

“Thea and I, have both found our own ways of coping with his disappearance but closure will only come with answers. Your condolences are appreciated.” Leo’s reply was rehearsed and controlled, said with a forced smile. He had known the topic was bound to come up multiple times this summer and family matters were best kept private, or at the very least not spoken too freely in such a public venue. His coping mechanism was feeling alive by searching out danger, Thea’s it seemed, was numbing everything away, both destructive in their own ways and hardly made for light conversation.

At first, Leo assumed Charlotte’s sudden emotional display came from her own similar loss. But, her eyes seemed to hold more than just grief, perhaps a similar sense of guilt at having not reached out more. “And I apologize for becoming so withdrawn, but I find solitude to be easier in trying times. I’m sure you understand, I know things have been difficult for you as well. The presence of Dutchess Vikena is greatly missed.” He added words that came out shaky and unrehearsed, but carefully chosen to show he understood. “But, we are all here now, I’m willing to make up for lost time, and I’m sure Thea could use a good friend.” He added, and guessed Charlotte would be able to infer that his concern for Thea outweighed his concern for his own well-being.

Unsurprisingly, Leo did not reveal much. He’d been just as reticent in the few letters they exchanged, but Wulfric understood the desire to not reveal your own pain to another. It was unwise to expose your own weaknesses, and awkward besides. “I am glad you are well enough to have made it tonight,” Wulfric said, expression sincere as he caught Leo’s gaze. He was possibly overstating it by saying Leo was well, but it was likely better than to say he was now ready to be in public. Though the man had admitted as much himself, it could have unintentionally come across as a dig by implying he’d been previously incapable. It was one thing to say something of oneself than it was to have it be said of you, after all.

Though it had been some time since she had seen Leo, Charlotte had known him long enough to remember his real smile. She couldn’t help but think Leo seemed quite different from the last time they spoke. Perhaps it was due to Wulfric’s presence or just the nature of the sensitive topic, but he seemed guarded. He was right about one thing though, at least they were all here now. Thea and Leo would be present for the summer and she could make up for the lost time. ”Thank you. No need to apologize. I do hope I can be a good friend to you as well, Lord Leo.“

Her expression softened as she recalled a memory and she said, ”Things have changed so much…Sometimes I wish we could go back to being kids sliding on our socks down the floor of the hallways. Though you’d always knock into somebody. ” Charlotte managed a giggle.

“I’m glad I made it here too, clearly it would’ve been a tragic mistake to have missed all this.” Leo returned to a more genuine smile, taking a moment to breath in just how breathtaking the royal ballroom of Caesonia was, to see all the exotic animals that walked its marble floors, and so many familiar faces that he hadn’t realized until now that he’d missed.

Wulfric, as always, remained a bit hard for Leo to read, he hoped he hadn’t inadvertently insulted him by implying not attending had been a serious thought, or if he simply understood the need to ensure one was composed before stepping back into the public image. But it was that same enigmatic quality that made the eldest prince so intriguing. He grinned wider as Charlotte recounted an old memory, “Now who says we won’t be sliding down the hallways in socks?” He countered, though he understood the sentiment behind her words. Some things had to change, there was no avoiding that, but it didn’t have to change all at once, and it didn’t mean everything had to change.

The musical cue for the next round of dances began to start up, this round, however, was simply by choice. So Leo bowed to Wulfric, “A pleasure as always, your highness, enjoy your dance.” He said before turning to Charlotte and offering his hand. “Would you like to dance with me?” He asked.

Charlotte laughed, ”Oh goodness. I’d still do it!” Sliding down the a slippery floor in socks was always a fun time, no matter the age. She still secretly did it in her own home. As the music started up again, she also bowed to Wulfric. ”See you sometime for tea, friend.”

“You two enjoy yourselves as well. I shall be seeing you both during your stay here, I’m sure.” Wulfric nodded to his conversation partners, then left quickly. He’d spent more time catching up than intended, and he needed to ensure he’d meet with Shehzadi Mayet on time. Thankfully, he knew where to find her, and people were generally inclined to get out of his way when it was clear he had somewhere to be.

Charlotte looked in Leo’s direction. With a smile, she took his hand, ”Of course.”
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Infinite Cosmos XIV

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Munir was briefly distracted by King Edin. What a pompous fool. He gathered his courtesans to come and shower him with affection. The young Shahzade sighed. The way he reveled in this foolery, this facade of wealth. Munir wanted nothing but to leave the ball and go back to his tent, or Alidasht for that matter.

Stepping away from his sisters slightly, he turned his attention to the girl in blue in front of him. She was stuffing herself to the brim with whatever food she can get her hands on. To the point where her nose started to bleed. Sure, he was a bit taken aback when this happened and the girl grabbed some random cloth to dab her nose with. Munir reached towards his waistband and took out a fine silken cloth and offered it to the girl. "Here, you must be more gentle towards an injury such as this. This... rough linen simply would not do..." He snapped his fingers and flagged down a passing servant. "Bring me more silk napkins, please." The servant bowed and hurried off. "What is your name?" Munir casually asked as he reached for a glass of wine from the table and offered it to the girl.

She probably needs with, with how much she was eating...
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Crystal & Callum





Crystal looked back towards Violet and Lord Ravenwood as she walked away, stopping for a moment, turning around and taking a few steps back to them, wanting to go back and try to fix things but she convinced herself it would only make things worse in the end. She stopped again, her hands wringing each other so tightly even through her silk gloves she could feel her wrists warming up from the friction. She groaned to herself as she again started the debate in her head if she should go back. When she finally chose not to again. She turned around not realizing who was around her and suddenly bumped into another person.

She stumbled and fell into this said person, grabbing onto his arm and shoulder so shoulder out of reflex. ”I’m so sorry…” She immediately said without even looking up at the tall man. She quickly found her own feet again and took a few steps back looking at the floor. Her face was bright red again. ”I am so clum-” She cut herself off when she looked up and saw it was Prince Callum. The one whom Violet dan-well drank with during the first dance. “I am sooo sorry your highness.. Please forgive me. I-I-I didnt mean to walk into you.”She said growing even more nervous. She hadn’t really heard much of Prince Callum, so she didn’t know how he would react.

Callum, lost in thought, wondering just how long this ball would go on for and watching with mild interest those around him, was entirely caught off guard by the sudden collision. He nearly dropped his wine glass, felt a sudden tugging on his free arm, and rather ungracefully, tried to help keep the stumbling woman upright. But, at least he managed not to spill a drop of wine. Once the culprit had regained her footing he noticed the same woman who had run into Wulfric during the dance, the rarely seen younger Lady Damien. And it seemed she looked somewhat mortified by the whole ordeal.

“It would seem you make a habit of stumbling into princes, Lady Crystal Damien,” Cal paused, offering up half of a smile, before shrugging mainly with his hands, “but I also make a habit of being in the way, so no need to apologize. It would seem you’ve had quite the eventful night already.” Cal continued, giving the expected polite bow. He held up the wine glass and grinned, “Not a drop spilled, no harm done.” He said before finishing the glass and setting it on a nearby table. “I hope your night is getting better.” He added with a bit more sincerity.

Crystal blinked when the prince knew her by name taken off guard clearly. She tried to smile back but it only came up as a half nervous one. But she was grateful when he was generous enough to let it go. Her nervousness rose more when she gave a curtsy back to him when he gave a bow. Apparently he had seen her previous blunder. “Y-y-You’re too kind your highness…” She said softly, Her eyes flicking to him and down to the floor. “It would seem not…I-i-i keep making a fool of my…self.” She answered as she waved her hand to indicate what just happened. Not even mentioning what happened between her sister and Lord Ravenwood. But suddenly it clicked what he said before. ‘Princes.’

She looked up at him, slightly mortified to ask but she did. “Y-you said…Princes before?” Her nervousness peaked as she covered her face. “U-m…who…did I run into?” She asked looking in between her fingers at him.

“My brother, Wulfric,” He answered pausing as he searched through the crowd before pointing him out. “He was dancing with Wystan, the watchdog of my other brother, earlier.” He added in case she had forgotten. “And said other brother, Auguste, is right over there in case you’re looking to accost all three of us.” He offered with a smile, his tone light, and teasing, but after taking a bit more notice of Crystal's anxious disposition he wondered if that had been the wrong thing to say.

“I don’t think you need to worry, people are already talking all about Duke Vikena’s run-in with our guest from Alidasht, so as long as you steer clear of the sultan someone’s already made themselves the bigger fool. Either way, my opinion is not to take these things too seriously, I’m sure your life has already been laid out for you by your father just as mine has been laid out for me. Nothing we do here matters much in the end.” Callum offered up his defeatist outlook, not because it was comforting, but for him, it usually soften the blows of disappointment.

Crystal eyes widened with horror. Not Prince Wulfric. She looked over as he pointed to his other brother Auguste who was speaking with one of the women from Alidasht. She also saw Wulfic speaking with Lord Leo and Charlotte. She just wanted to run back to her room in her tower and lock the door and never come back out again while in the fetal position under her covers.

However, Prince Callum brought up the fact that Duke Vikena already made the biggest commotion of the night. She only nodded to him saying to steer clear from the sultan. Knowing her luck she would probably push him out a window by accident at this rate.

She was pulled from her thoughts as he mentioned not to take things too seriously. That their lives have been laid out for them and what they do doesn't matter. She allowed her hands to come down from her face and into her lap as she looked at him. Thinking about what he said, she felt an instant connection to the youngest prince. Both were trapped in their worlds…for different reasons. But the way he looked at it was so sad.

”Of course it matters…” She said softly. ”For such a long time my father simply wouldn’t allow me to do anything so I could just stay healthy enough to live. If he had his way I am sure I wouldn’t leave my bed at all. But I kept on pressing and wanting to do more. He finally let me learn to do all different kinds of things within the home. So much now I help run the estate now…and now here I am. I’m sure I am going to get in trouble for coming by myself…despite making a fool of myself, I-I am still happy I can at least experience it.”

”What I mean is, I changed what my father had envisioned for me. I am sure you can as well.” She reddened as she looked up at him with that last sentence. Looking away. ”I mean… I don’t know what it’s like for you, but if you can be ok with ‘nothing really matters’ you are clearly strong enough to accept the disappointment. You are certainly strong enough to change what you want out of life.” She said with a small reassuring smile while making eye contact with him. ”At least that is what I see in your eyes.

Callum grinned as Crystal began to open up more, finding it refreshing that someone outside of his own family was willing to challenge him. For someone who seemed so plagued by anxiety, she certainly lit up a lot more when speaking about something she believed in. He held her sapphire gaze with interest for a moment before speaking, “you know what I see in your eyes? That you’re not as fragile as people think, not in the ways that count.” He said before breaking eye contact and looking over at where Edin sat. He gave an annoyed sigh as he watched concubines massaging the king all in full view of his mother.

Crystal had waited a few moments wondering what he was thinking as they held each other's gazes. He did have a grin on his face so she wasn't as worried, but she still did a little. He then complemented her. Her whole face somehow got a brighter shade of red. As she looked down away from his smile.

“But you leave out one important detail, my father is King Edin, and his mind, well his mind is probably a terrifying place to imagine, but little in there changes. This is his world and we are all his chess pieces. Some more than others.” Cal said, a small smile at the knowledge that while he couldn’t win at Edin’s games, he was already learning the rules of another game, one of forbidden knowledge and magic.

She looked up as he mentioned his father, glancing at the king, and seeing such an awful display with his concubines. Even though she had heard all the rumors about him it still shocked her that he would do such a thing…especially in front of his wife… Crystal was happy that Callum was nothing like him so far. He seemed sweet, a little sad and beaten down…but still managed to have a good heart.

“As for what I want out of life, well, you know I was often ill as a child. Not up for the training my brothers went through, useless with any sort of blade, and it disappointed my father greatly. Being a disappointment is easy, I would choose that over complacent any day, but a lack of control over my life is far more frustrating. So what I am content with right now, is to be the thorn in my father’s side any way that I can.” He admitted with a shrug.

She looked back to him and perked up when he mentioned he was often ill as well. Honestly she had forgotten about that, that made two things they had in common. Was…was that why he knew her name? She knocked the silly idea out of her head.
“But, your points are valid, and I prefer those who speak freely. Sounds like even if you’ve made a bit of a fool of yourself, you’re still happy you came, right? Remember that, as you walk through this nest of vipers, you can hold your own.” Callum added.

She then looked to him when he asked her a question, she simply nodded. But hesitated when he mentioned walking through a nest of vipers. She certainly didn’t hope it really wasn’t like that. She heard stories from her father, or her father telling violet something similar.

”Well I hope I don’t have to walk through it long. I do detest snakes…” She said with a small smile. ”Thank you for your compliments Prince Callum.. You don't realize how much that means to me.”

”While being a thorn in your fathers side is all well and good for a short time goal….” She said hesitantly, saying something like that would be quite dangerous. ”Your father won't be king forever…after Wulfric takes the throne, what do you want to do with your life? Hypothetically?”

Callum thought about her question, it wasn’t something he gave much thought to because Edin’s rule seemed like it would go on forever. He couldn’t imagine his father stepping down willingly, and despite how often Cal had wished it, somehow his father seemed to easily avoid being struck down by consumption or syphilis despite his lifestyle. Somehow King Edin remained immunue to any sort of karmic backlash for anything he did.

“Hypothetically, I would leave all of this far behind.” Cal gestured towards the entirety of the ballroom. “No palaces, no titles, no more horrid suits. Find somewhere secluded and quiet, focus on scholarly pursuits, spend my time in rooms that have more books than people.” Cal answered, mostly honestly, leaving out that if he could, he’d spend all his time focused on studying magic, try and bring some of those old ways back to a world that seemed in despite need of it. “But I imagine it will be a very long time before Caesonia sees a new king, my father loves his crown more than anything.” Cal added, stopping himself from thinking about improbable dreams for too long. “What is it you would do, with full freedom?” He asked.

Crystal blinked when he mentioned he would leave it all behind, she was surprised that he would rather have a secluded place far from people. She was interested that he enjoyed books, a third thing in common. For a prince, he certainly wanted a fairly simple life. Before she could ask him what did he enjoy reading, he flipped the question on her.”Me? I would travel the world, take in everything I can see.” She said, smiling a little at the thought.

”I want to see and sail on the Ocean, walk through the sea of sands surrounding Genasea in Alidasht. Explore the ruins in Montouppe woods. Climb the snowy peaks of Kolonvika, or or even… The Hidden Lover’s Waterfalls of Breoven forest. She said excitedly, if Callum could look closely enough he probably could see the very scenery in her eyes as she said each place. Her excitement grew with each one, even to the point where she unconsciously stood up on her toes, holding her hands to her chest. . She grew red at realizing what she was doing and lowered herself. ”I also want to collect and read as many books as I can. I-I absolutely adore them… She also wanted to continue writing… using her experiences to help her. She looked up at Prince Callum. ”Then… perhaps, possibly…start a family.”

Cal’s head tilted to the side as Crystal listed off a variety of places she dreamed of visiting, all of which sounded breathtaking. His own dream seemed much smaller by comparison, but Cal had never been one for lofty goals or to allow himself to wander freely into the realms of dreams and whimsy. It was hard enough to slip out of the palace, he knew the leash he was kept on would never extend past Caesonia. Books and paintings would be the closest he ever got to seeing the world as long his father was king and Cal had simply accepted that long ago.

“And how do you let yourself drift so high into dreams when there is so much here to weigh us back down?” Cal asked, not as a critique of her dreams but out of curiosity. From what he knew and from what she had said, it seemed they both had a number of limitations on their freedoms.

“If you’re planning on being around for the season, the library here is expertly stocked, I saw to it myself. You’re welcome there anytime.” Cal offered a rare invite to another into his sanctuary, not that he really had control over who came and went where in the palace, but it was one place in his home that really felt like his and he had his mother to thank for that allowance. In recent years he had overfilled it with books, picked out most of the furniture, sought out art for the walls, and kept careful watch over it ensuring it was organized and tidy.

Crystal placed her hands behind her and gripped her left wrist at his question. ”Dreams can go as high as you want. It’s only weight down by putting limitations on yourself. If you really want to, you will always find a way to make them become a reality. No matter what real world thing weighs us down.” She said without hesitation. As she smiled sweetly. She had spent years ‘locked’ in her tower, with no hope in sight of ever leaving. There were many dark days for her in the past.”Would you believe me this was one of my first mountain of a goal? I’ve always wanted to dance in a beautiful dress at a ball. It took me nearly twenty years, but I am here.”

Her eyes grew wide as Callum offered her access to the palace library. I-I-I dont know what to say!” She stammered, her joy welling up again inside her. ”I-I’ve always wanted to see it, I’ve heard it's quite impressive! The very thought of visiting the library was another one of her goals. She couldn’t contain her excitement as she covered her face for a moment. Before taking his hand and saying. ”Oh Thank you! Thank you!” She giggled and stood up on her toes and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek.

This time it was Callum’s turn to blush, redness spreading across his face from the unexpected peck placed on his cheek. He blinked a couple times as he tried to remove the look of surprise from his face. Her entire response to his question had already thrown him for a loop, unused to this amount of enthusiasm or sincerity. Not among Caesonian nobles; they were all a mix of jaded, or power hungry, or cruel, or vain, or selfish, but Crystal, somehow, remained overwhelmingly positive and from what he could tell, genuinely kind, despite the difficulties in her life.

“What? Um, no it’s really not that big a deal. I mean it is a good library, and congratulations, on your goal, and if you have any others that I can help with, let me know.” Cal said, stuttering out a jumbled mix of words, finding himself confused by his offer. Had he meant to say that? He didn’t usually offer to help like that, and he didn’t normally stumble around over words either. Something about being around someone so good-natured drew him in. And just like the saying about moths and flames, such a draw could only be dangerous.

“You’re very much not like most people here. I hope your next dance fairs better.” He added with a smile as he regained his composure.

Crystal also blushed as she realized what she did. Looking down and letting go of his hand she gripped her hands behind her back, She cleared her throat and her eyes flicked from him to the ground multiple times as he stuttered his words. She smiled and looked down. ”You already did.” She looked up to him. ”My second was to visit the palace library someday.” She really wanted to make it up.

She blushed even more when he mentioned she wasn’t like anyone else here. She raised a hand to her face, running a finger along her skin to pull back some hair and tucked it over her ear. ”T-Thank you…I hope you can enjoy at least one dance tonight as well!” She curtseyed politely to Prince Callum and turned to walk away to find Sir Mathias… However she stopped, hesitated for a moment before looking back to Prince Callum.

”You helped me with one of mine. Now… I owe you… Please…let me help you with one of your life goals…when ever you think of one.`` She said softly with a warm smile before turning back and walking away from the young prince.
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Terrance420
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Sir Alden Drake Plannington


Time:Evening
Location:Caesonia Ballroom
Interaction: @FunnyGuy Lorenzo



“Yes ladies! Come spend some quality time with your King! Haha!”

Alden heard the voice of the king when he was handing Lorenzo the glasses of wine. He looked up and saw the kind being indulged in sin, simply humiliating himself with no honor at all. Alden couldn't help but to think what a loathsome man he was, and simply wishes to see him suffer. Soon... Alden thought to himself. Off the corner of eye, he saw the facial expression of Lorenzo. He was scowling, observing the king's crude behavior as if he was a hound ready to attack their prey. Alden couldn't help but smile at this revelation, realizing he may have some sort of an ally on his side, even if he was a complete clutz...

Lorenzo turned to see Alden and the servant once more, returning with a more civil smile.“Thank you. And thank you as well. When preparing for trouble, it’s always good to make it double.” Lorenzo then clinked both glasses together, making a simple gesture. Alden wondered for a second if he was cheering for both of them, or only for himself. More importantly, Alden pondered what that statement and gesture really meant.

Oh oh... he may have had too much already. Alden was going to interject with a statement, but Lorenzo quickly cut him off...

“Thank you for your concern. There is a lot on my mind tonight..."

I may have messed up...

"For starters, I arrived late. Then I mistook our most honored guests, the Alidasht Royalty, for lowly animal tamers and performers...

Oh Dear, someone actually made that mista...

"Then I knocked some… Well, I didn’t knock them over... but my presence probably did not help the situation..."

Th... That wasn't even a complete thought! I can't even complete mi...

"I embarrassed Charlotte… my daughter.”

Lorenzo proceeded to take several gulps of the wine in his right hand. Alden thoughts centered around that statement for a moment. As much of a buffoon Lorenzo may come off as, he sincerely does care. Alden began to recall a tragic incident that had occurred years ago regarding Lady Emina Vikena. A situation he still pondered himself, and suspected foul play among it all. Perhaps Lorenzo knows more about the situation. It will certainly help with my investigations and plan to foul the king... Alden then looked at Lorenzo as he thought, first in interest, then in bewilderment.

Did.... Did he finish that glass already?!

Lorenzo then continued. “I was yelled at. My daughter offered herself up to our royal guests to save me. I was yelled at again, but then… I cried in front of everyone.”

Alden was officially lost for words, giving just a blank stare at that statement

“Afterwards, I made two acquaintances that I can assume are not very proud of me at the moment. Then I believe I may have made a deal with the devil over on that balcony over yonder.”

Alden was still in shock. He had no thoughts to give. The only word he was able to pick up was ...balcony...

“Oh and I lied about the glass as well as the whole thing about the new Alidasht tradition. Please, please, do not do that, ever. I just was startled and tried to save face...

I figured...

"Anyway, thinking of all these misgivings Sir Plannington, is exactly what is troubling me tonight.”

Alden was taken back with all the information he had gathered. He was still in shock at the conversation that was had. Or rather, the monologue of the events that had unfolded tonight. Alden thought of grabbing a drink himself as he might just need one to stay sane. He then remembered about the balcony that was mentioned. He turned his head and saw none other than Count Calbert. That clever bastard. He may still have a hold on things here. Alden quickly gathered his composure and returned to his already established demeanor.

“Worry not, mistakes tend to happen. The important issue is whether or not we choose to enjoy the night, or allow it to be our detriment.”

He proceeded to give Lorenzo a warm smile, ensuring that the worst had passed. At least, to give him some sort of security. Despite not tolerating Lorenzo that well from this brief encounter, he did at least pity him to some sort of degree.

“If it makes you feel better, you are not the only one tonight who has arrived late. I just came into town myself. That being said, there are many other patrons I need to be reacquainted with. May our paths cross again.” Alden then turned on his heels.

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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by princess
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Time: Early Evening
Location: Caesonia Castle Ball Room in Sorian





A hush goes over the crowd as a man loudly clears his throat and the music stops, who had all previously been glancing over and whispering at the sight of the beautiful Lady Crystal planting a kiss on Prince Callum's cheek. A well-dressed attendant on the balcony of the ballroom leans over and calls out, "Find a partner of your choice as the second dance shall now begin!" People begin to scramble to quickly collect a partner and things were chaotic for a moment, but slowly and surely do all the guests start dancing once again to a slow and romantic waltz.
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Aerandir
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Aerandir The old guy

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Beatrice and Verrick
Thea


Mention: Thea, Prince Felix
Interact: Thea





Beatrice resisted the urge to yawn. All the people she wanted to strike a conversation with had left her, either to go enjoy the finest wine of Camillia or to talk with the other nobles within the party. She stood by herself while smiling idly, wondering if she should do either of the two. To other people, she would appear as if she was admiring the event and its attendees and she would always smile kindly at them which helped retain the idea that the Varian princess was as kind and courteous as she was confident and regal.

In truth, Beatrice was bored out of her mind. Aside from the fiasco that happened earlier, nothing noteworthy of excitement had happened. It was all the same old exchange of bows and perfect white smiles as the air was rich with the sounds of idle small talk and fake laughter. She honestly preferred to be in the company of children, hanging around in the Varian orphanage, teaching them life lessons, and singing songs of joy with them rather than feel her face getting tired from putting up a smile all night long.

She glanced over at her parents and no matter how much she was poised and elegant, her mom could always see right through her. Queen Rosa and Beatrice exchanged knowing looks and the queen nodded solemnly at her daughter, letting her know that she can relate on what she was going through but as women of and in power, they must continue through the end. King Alixandre saw the look on both their faces and looked at Beatrice worryingly, with the princess giving her father a reassuring smile to let him know everything’s okay.

As such, she continued to do her duties as a princess and mingled with the crowd until the announcement of the dances was made. All the men should draw lots and approach the women whose names appeared on their pieces of paper. Luckily and perhaps very strangely, no one drew Beatrice’s name. It was quite confusing to the other nobles that of all the men who picked a paper, none of them picked out the Varian princess. She also made sure to be the last to pick from the bowl so when it was her turn, there were no papers left to pick out. She acted disappointed but on the inside, she was very relieved.

Beatrice was content with just watching her peers dance with their partners while sitting beside her parents and taking a sip of her glass here and there. Her eyes were mainly on her brother and Verrick’s dances, particularly on the latter when she found out his partner was Thea. Beatrice knew of her and her family. So far, she knew they were one of the most respected families in Varian. She and Thea exchanged a few conversations here and there. Thea was a bit of a wildcard in Beatrice’s eyes but even she could tell Thea was sincere and kind in thought and in action, albeit she did have some tendencies that would make Beatrice raise her brow at once in a while.
.
For instance, Beatrice watched as Thea gave Verrick a kiss on the cheek. Thea seemed to be laughing while telling him something and her bodyguard acted flustered. Verrick, a man who always voiced his displeasure to the nobles even when he thought his princess could not hear him, was flustered because of a noble? Beatrice took a long sip of her drink, wondering what they were talking about.

As Verrick was half dragged towards the Princess, He noticed she was sitting with her parents while taking a drink. Having just ended their dance, it was clear that the princess didn’t actually dance at all. Was it a plot to embarrass her? A mistake? Did her partner…or she… refuse? He cursed himself for not paying more attention during his dance Yet at the same time, he felt slightly relieved.

The confidence Thea had shoved into him quickly left as they made their way closer. It didn’t help that she had to be next to her parents. Thea could probably feel him trying to slow down her pace even just a little bit. But before they knew it, they were there standing in front of his Queen, King and Princess. Arms linked with Lady Thea, he did not attempt to pull away from her as he stood there. He bowed slightly to the King and Queen. He then asked quite bluntly “Did they not offer her royal highness a paper for the dance?”

Thea looked over at Verrick and blinked, having expected him to ask something else entirely. She wanted to flick him, but she refrained and turned back to look at her King, Queen, and Princess. “Perhaps her Highness wasn’t fond of who she was to dance with or maybe she knew they were a bad dancer? If that’s the case, I think you deserve a dance with someone quite skilled. I know I got lucky with my dance as Verrick is a fabulous dance partner.” She glanced up at Verrick with a grin, but her eyes held a look that said ‘ask her or I will’.

Verrick glanced at Thea as she offered up other theories then around them continued as he normally did. However he for some reason didn’t listen to Lady Thea, for a moment. Not realizing she would literally jump right into it. He stood there for a moment in silence when he realized no one was talking. Looking back to the King, Queen and Beatrice, then quickly to Thea who was looking at him with a ‘look’. He pulled his head back and gave her a look as well ‘What NOW?’ as his brain finally gained some traction on what she was attempting. Looking to the princess, then to Thea, then to the Princess. He cleared his throat and tried to regain some composure.

” I agree, you do deserve a dance with a skilled partner… I would hardly say I am that skilled partner…” he paused again while he looked at Princess Beatrice… finding the words stuck in his throat he looked down and closed his eyes. Which turned into a very formal bow. “Would you honor me with a dance, your Highness?”

”At the very least I won't step on your toes…I think…”

My work here is done. Thea thought to herself happily and then curtsied to the group. ”And on that note I do believe I need to go find Prince Felix. Have a lovely evening.” She turned and left their company, feeling quite pleased with herself.

Beatrice smiled and nodded at them in greeting. ”Lady Thea. Verrick. You both were wonderful dancers.” She praised, then paused for a bit before replying to Thea’s question. ”I am afraid they ran out of papers from the bowl when it was my turn to pick but, no worries. It is much more fun to watch and enjoy the spectacle so I am not complaining.” She said.

She and her parents then listened to Thea and Verrick’s awkward way of explaining something. It was like Thea was trying to nudge Verrick to speak up but he looked too shy to even look at Beatrice. The two of them reminded her of the kids at the orphanage that were too shy to ask for something from her, and the thought alone made her resist laughing.

When Verrick did finally find his voice and asked Beatrice if he could dance with her, she was taken aback. King Alixandre awkwardly looked around and suddenly gained an interest on the ceiling while still listening in on the conversation, whereas Queen Rosa raised her eyebrow and smirked at the two of them. As Thea left with a confident spring in her step, Beatrice kept looking at Verrick the whole time. He had been a part of most of her life. No matter how nagging he might be sometimes, she knew there was never a bad bone in his body. She also knew he would never lie about the important things and with the way he was looking at her now, Beatrice could tell this was the most genuine and sincere she had seen Verrick yet.

It took her a good while to do something but eventually, Beatrice cleared her throat. ”Y-Ye… Yes. Yes, you may.” She stammered, reaching her hand out for him to take and guide her to the dance floor. ”I shall try not to step on your toes either.” Beatrice joked, chuckling and smirking at Verrick.

Verrick sighed inwardly as Thea abruptly left. She made it painfully clear she was here to make sure he actually asked Beatrice for the dance he almost felt like a child again.. Much like when mother dragged him by ear to apologize to Mrs Carrigan for breaking both of her boy’s noses due to them purposefully knocking his desert to the ground.

It felt like it was an eternity after he asked for a dance, so much he started to worry that he was right all along. He noticed out of the corner of his eye the King finding nothing on the ceiling fascinating while the Queen simply had a smirk. It only made the wait all the more awkward and brutal.

The princess cleared her throat and said yes. He felt a sudden wave of relief rush through him. He reached up and took her hand gently into his hesitating for a moment
, with a small hint of a smile when she used his same joke on him. ”I appreciate the thought, your highness... But my feet are already numb from the innumerable amount of times you’ve stomped on them when I was out of line.” He said with a warm tone.He looked to the King and Queen and gave a bow of his head once again before starting to lead the princess towards the dancefloor.

He felt another wave of nervousness come over him, but he pushed it to the side he turned again and placed his hand on the small of her back. He then looked into her eyes…as he has done many times before, but not this close. As they waited for the music to start he was at a loss for words. But he cleared his throat once more, looking around them and asking quite softly and Seriously in his gruff voice. ”This is…supposed to be a Jig right?”

As she was being guided to the dance floor, Beatrice could see eyes on her and Verrick. Most were probably surprised and confused as to what was happening. Out of all the plethora of rich and regal princes and nobles out there, why did the princess of Varian choose her bodyguard as her dance partner? Beatrice was also aware of her somewhat breaking tradition by not dancing with a prince which she knew she was supposed to do as a soon to be queen of her kingdom. However, she knew that her mother knew being a rebel sometimes did not hurt no one.

She felt Verrick's big, warm hand on her back and in turn she put one of her hands on his shoulder. They have never been this physically close together before and Beatrice was now only aware of that fact. She pushed down the nervousness and self-awkwardness she was feeling. As her mother would say, leave all that to the man.

"Jigs are for late-night parties at taverns. I am sure you know that." Beatrice teased and chuckled at him. She grabbed his other hand with her free one and put hers atop of his. Verrick's hand surrounded Beatrice's but there was nothing constricting about it. Rather, it made the princess feel safe and sound in his presence. His palm was rough from his experiences in life yet he was still very gentle with her. She looked up to him and smiled. "Deep breaths and remember to relax." Beatrice said just as the music was about to start.

Verrick nodded, feinting understanding. ”Of course…. You are right again.” He knew of course, he just used the line to throw her off a bit more for what he had prepared. When she looked up at him and smiled he felt more relaxed before she even said to relax. He simply smiled and took a breath like she said and when the slower waltz music started, he began as well.

Taking a large step forward, remembering to sweep his foot below her dress so as to not step on it, he guided her backwards a step and then a step to her left. Using his hands to gently indicate where he was going. Pausing for a moment before guiding her to her right and pivoting clockwise while taking another step to her left, before repeating the steps again. Each step was smooth and natural, as if he had been dancing for years. While he looked to his left mostly to make sure they didn’t run into anyone else, he carefully watched the princess' reaction.

Beatrice was trained in almost every type of dancing that was suitable for classy events like these; it was part of her training to be a prim and proper princess after all. She was familiar with the type of waltz that Verrick decided to do with their very first dance, and her being in awe at her loyal bodyguard would have been evident on her face.

"My, my. I did not know there is this side to you, Sir O'Hare." She said, smirking and sounding very impressed by her dance partner. "Come on then. Let us show these peasants what true dancing looks like." With that said, Beatrice flawlessly followed Verrick and the pair danced like they have been doing so for years. Despite their constant teasings from earlier, none of them stepped on each other's toes. They swayed to the soothing beat of the orchestra's music, dancing gracefully as if they were floating and gliding along the floor. During their dance, Beatrice would glance at Verrick with awe and confidence in her eyes as she was proud of him.

Verrick smiled more genuine than he normally had, after eight years. He could still surprise her. He was surprised at her reaction, she did not normally enjoy balls such as these, preferring to simply watch like she said earlier. But it made him feel more relaxed that she was so ready to show up the rest of the nobles with their dance. “As you wish…” he said with a slight bow of his head. Before beginning to spread out their steps more, as they started to cover more ground, passing other partnerships, he began to spin with her more. The motion caused her dress to billow out and shimmer more in the candlelight. The jewels on her dress sparkled as they caught each flicker of light and what showed more brightly was her violet eyes and smile.

Despite him keeping an eye out of where he was looking, if you were to ask him who else was dancing on the floor, he honestly would think there was no one else. Despite passing Thea and Felix multiple times. His eyes were on her. After the brief speed up of their dance he slowed down once again. He was at a loss for words, He wished to say something but he couldn’t. He was content with just seeing her smile

The pair continued to dance, their movements perfectly in sync with each other. Beatrice felt so at ease with Verrick, she could close her eyes in the middle of the dance and not have any fear about stepping on each other's foot. That was how in tune they were together, and it showed the unshakable trust the princess had with her bodyguard. She loved the feeling of the wind brushing past them as they moved along, the feeling of the music that seemed to soothe her to her core, and the feeling of Verrick's comforting, assuring presence with her.

King Alixandre watched the pair with his jaw dropped, completely in awe at their beautiful dancing. would often be his daughter's partner during her dancing lessons when she was younger, and he would not deny she was the better dancer of the two of them, and he would often watch Beatrice dance elegantly with her partner all the time. However, this was truly the first time he saw her being sincerely at ease, happy even. Queen Rosa, on the other hand, was still watching the pair in approval and amazement, but there was something else in her eyes as well. One could not simply tell what the queen was thinking, although from another's perspective, it might seem like she actually looked concerned.

Verrick soon realized the dance was coming to an end. As much as he didn’t want it to. He raised his leading hand up and guided her into a double spin, before guiding her same hand around his neck. In the same motion he wrapped his left arm behind her back, his hand just between her shoulder plates as they stood against each other and leaned her back into a low dip. While his right hand gripped her waist for added support. Their noses almost touched as he lowered her, and he held her there for three long seconds.

Those three seconds felt like an eternity for him as he looked into her eyes, before slowly bringing her up and to the final resting position. Clearing his throat ”Thank you for the ”Jigg”your highness.” he said with a smirk. He then took her hand and bowed, giving it a gentle kiss. “It shall be a memory I cherish for the rest of my life.”

Beatrice did not realize she was panting until the music has finished and their dancing was done. Everything about their dance felt electric, like it was something she could feel that she could do for hours on end and she would not regret a single moment of it. She enjoyed it just as much as playing with the children of her kingdom, but perhaps it was much more. She had never felt anything like this before with other men and she was confused as she did not know what exactly what this feeling was.

She smirked when Verrick thanked her for the ‘jigg’. While he bowed down to kiss the back of her hand, she picked up the skirt of her dress with her other free hand and bowed before him as well. A princess bowing before her bodyguard would be such a shocker to the other stuck-up nobles, it was something that they would not think an heir to the throne would not do. Beatrice paid them no such mind as her focus was only on the man before her. ”Well, at least you did not step on my toes after all. Good job.” She said, chuckling.
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Wystan & Anastasia





“Hello again! Fancy meeting you here, good sir. ”

”It’s been a while, Your Royal Highness. Though, I must say… I never imagined I’d meet you laying on the floor.” At her greeting, the corners of Wystan’s lips threatened to upturn as he began to lead the princess to their section of the dance floor. Despite his words having been said in all seriousness, his expression had long since eased up ever since bidding ‘Kazoo’ farewell. ”I do hope he was truthful in his explanation, and ending up like that was all of your own volition?”

Anastasia emitted a giggle before she replied. ”Yes and I shall honestly report to you the situation.”She saluted him with her free hand, pushing her tone into a serious one, ”I had been subjugated to an exciting revolution. The gentleman Kazumin requested the favor be returned. I, of course, knowing my manners, returned the favor…”She couldn’t hold the straight face too long, a smile tugging at her lips, ”Oh but then the plot thickened, my Wystan… For I.. I wanted to twirl again. We soon found efficiency in just spinning together. But then I became weak. Incapacitated. “

Anastasia took a moment to lay the back of her free hand across her forehead as if she were a damsel in distress. ”I could not go on any longer. The world spun and I saw the stars across the ceiling of the ballroom…”She leaned her head on his arm to further paint her next point, “Then I collapsed.”

”And then you collapsed.” Wystan echoed, shooting her an incredulous look as he allowed the hints of a smile to slip through. The placement of her head was a comforting one, providing him with a familiar warmth even though the gesture was hardly serious. He took a moment to be still, perhaps to savor it. A frown creased his brow before steadily exhaling.”Very well, then. Perhaps I have misjudged the man. I will give him my apologies come to the end of the ball.

”For now, however…” The guard turned to face her, gently unlinking their arms to give the princess a bow, and then offered her an inviting hand.

”Yes I believe you may have.”Anastasia told him with a smirk, giving him a curtsy. She glanced down at his hand and placed hers into his palm, moving her other hand to his shoulder. Her arm would rest over his once he too got into position. Though she was used to Wystan’s presence, being this close to him was a new experience.

After a brief pause, she then decided to give him more information in case he had any more questions over the ordeal. After a sigh, she admitted, ”I saw him looking so sad after Lady Crystal ran away from him.” Anastasia glanced up at him. ”He had this expression that said: I screwed up, just like I always do… I wanted to cheer him up somehow.”

"..." These were sympathies the watchdog could not easily afford to share with those outside of the Danrose household. However, he could hardly deny that the princess’ understanding of others had an important role to play on its own.

"I am wholly confident you have done that and more," Now compelled to give in to the unfortunate circumstances of it all, Wystan made amends with his conscience and took note to meet the man. In accordance, he spoke his next words in earnest. "--knowing you, I'm sure you must have made his evening."

"If Your Royal Highness would allow, I would like to attempt the same for you..." His main goal was to adjust his disposition to match the princess'. Yet these couple of sentences aroused an unexpected feeling in him instead. Even with eyes as hard as tempered iron, and colder than the rime along the battlements– whatever that sensation was still managed to prick and warm his cheeks.

Anastasia smiled, though her gaze averted from his. ”No need to attempt.” The music this time was slower; It was easy to drift in focus. Her grip on his hand ever so slightly tightened. She exhaled before she spoke once more, her eyes gradually meeting his again. She knew then and there that was her mistake. ”Consider that objective already achieved.”

”...” Wystan's face remained stoic, in spite of his almost being caught off guard by the princess' sincerity. He issued a polite nod in his gratitude, the warmth in his cheeks never having gone away. "Very well, Your Highness. For that, I am glad."

The lights dimmed ever so slowly as the song fell into a soft tempo, officially cueing the beginning of the second dance. With their eyes now on each other, Wystan began to lead her steps into his. Much like reviewing footwork after a spar, he retraced Prince Wulfric's movements and appropriately slowed them down to match the rhythm of the music. Though he had always been a fast learner, it was the princess' natural receptivity that allowed him to feel much more at ease in his lead as he guided her around the dancefloor.

"I noticed you've gotten better at ballet." Wystan teased her with a smile. "Did you enjoy your solo performance after I had left?"

Wystan’s stoic expression was a reminder that allowed her brain gears to start turning. She blinked as if waking up from a reverie but then smiled nonetheless up at him. Dancing was luckily on her list of activities she could fall into muscle memory with as she drifted in her thoughts a moment until he spoke up again. The question made her expression light up. ”Oh! My cello and I adore that song!”She told him with excitement, “ I used to play the very tune, which would of course get looped in my head and I would have to then dance to it. Anastasia told him softly, ”You should try it sometime. It felt as if I were flying as I glid across the ballroom.” Her tone was light and playful as she had mused to him.

”My apologies. I’m afraid my body isn’t conditioned to be as graceful as you in that regard.” Wystan’s smile grew, seemingly pleased with her enthusiasm. A second passed before he carefully pulled the princess closer by the small of her back. With a smooth transition, their rhythm was maintained as he slowly guided them away from other couples who gathered too close. Meanwhile, their own close proximity gave him a chance to pass an earnest suggestion. ”Perhaps Your Royal Highness would be interested in gracing me with lessons. Diverse footwork training is essential in combat, after all.”

Anastasia’s eyelashes fluttered when he pulled her closer. Another giggle escaped her lips and there was a hint of nervousness underlying this one.

His smile made her feel as if she might melt into a puddle.

”Oh I think your body’s perfect…”She drew off, her eyes widening as she quickly added on, ”For dancing, I mean that is. I am sure you will be as adept a dancer as you are in combat in no time. I’d love to help.” She smiled up at him, her eyes shut. Yikes.

"I'm truly honored to hear that you have this much faith in me. Such is true. With your skills, I believe I can succeed in no time." Wystan let out a small laugh as she shut her eyes, regrettably missing the underlying message and mistaking it for eagerness. In order to support her, the watchdog leaned her closer to him once more, guiding their steps in smooth tandem with the music to make for easier conversation.

”Combat could be considered… dangerous dancing, wouldn’t you say? Perhaps while I teach you, you can teach me your ways in return. I think Auguste would have some relief knowing I could kick some butt if need be.”

"Yes, perhaps we could arrange this. Dancing and combat are two entirely different forms of art, but both forms of art nonetheless." The battlemaster wryly raised his eyebrows as he spoke. Upon hearing about self-defense and Prince Auguste, his eyes lit up in agreement. "If it's for your protection, I would not mind extending combat sparring lessons to you as well. Prince Auguste would surely be pleased."

"...I do have to warn you in advance-- I tend not to go easy on my sparring partners. Would you still be up for the challenge?"

Now he was speaking her language; competition always excited her. Anastasia pulled him in closer to look him in the eyes with a devious grin. ”Nor I on my dancing partners.”She smoothly retorted, ”Of course I am up for it.” She returned his space as she had made her point.

"Very well. Let us mark each other’s words.” A grin as they parted. Their brief lack of proximity inwardly surprised the watchdog. Being pulled would have granted anyone other than the Danroses a dislocated wrist or two… but because it was the princess, he opted for something else instead.

"So let us consider this evening the beginning of our dance training.” The next sequence was used to gather himself before Wystan raised his arm high above her head to allow her momentum for a couple of spins.I've never tried this before, but perhaps she would like it.

”It’s a promise!”Anastasia agreed cheerfully. As Wystan raised her hand up, she did not hesitate using her momentum to twirl under his grip. She had decided to show off, spinning one foot on its tippy toes whilst her other foot raised to touch the ankle of the supporting leg. The pink fabric of her dress raised with the motion and spun around her. As she finished her spin, she jutted her raised leg out in the direction away from Wystan. Anastasia smiled up at him as if she had just won a game. She returned her feet to their starting position and placed her free hand delicately on his shoulder once again.

"Beau–” Wystan caught his trance-like state in time to correct himself. "...Bravo, princess. Your skills are unmatched. I'd be truly honored to have you as my teacher.” He remarked, making sure he held her properly as he rotated his steps to twirl them both into a series of light spins. Anastasia’s brows raised briefly, then she beamed at his words.

Though the watchdog quietly enjoyed seeing her smile, he sensed his walls begin to crumble ever so slightly. Such a feeling was risky for someone in his post and those around him– which ultimately raised concern for a hunch he'd kept since earlier.

”...Your Highness, I would like to ask you something.” Wystan's voice was low as dipped his head low to speak.

Anastasia did not seem to suspect any change in tone as she immediately craned her neck to whisper in his ear back. Her voice was hushed and certainly not serious, ”Ask away, my Wyst. I will try my best to understand the jist.”

”...” Wystan blinked back a smile before his eyes lowered, seemingly apologetic. ”...During my dance with your brother, I saw a masked man hand you a letter.” The bodyguard frowned as he spoke, his mind having recalled that it was more of a rough shove than a simple hand-off.

She bit her lip as she gazed up over his shoulder. He had caught her off guard and she ever so slightly stiffened.

If she was going to get to that party, she was going to have to lie. Somehow doing so felt wrong. It was something she had done numerous times before but now...
Anastasia considered, for a brief moment, not going to the party at all.

I already told Kazumin I’d go with him. Not to mention Callum is definitely getting invited and I promised myself I’d always be there for him. Her thoughts raced in the brief pause of conversation. Then my Thea girl is going to be there. I have missed her so… I have to make sure Wystan doesn’t sniff this out.

”It was a love letter. “Anastasia blurted out. She knew that wasn’t good enough so she mentally scrambled together words as fast as she could.

”It was Lady Thea’s handwriting. She further explained. Thea had been last to cross her thoughts and she had jumped on the first idea in her head. Hesitating much longer would only arouse further suspicion. ” I think she was pranking me by pretending to be a secret admirer.” Anastasia met his eyes and smiled. ”It was very funny actually.”

”...I see.” Wystan slightly narrowed his eyes, whether out of suspicion, concern, both, or something else. In the end, he begrudgingly opted to give the princess the benefit of the doubt for once, as at least two things were obvious. Firstly, no harm did come of the letter. Secondly, he would be following her after the ball either way. Feeling somewhat at ease, he slowly exhaled as he held eye contact with Anastasia. ”I understand. Though, I will not hesitate to reprimand the man involved in the delivery of that letter should I run into him. To shove Your Royal Highness’ torso is no way to send a message– let alone pass on a love letter.”

He bought it. I’m slick like butter! Anastasia grinned to herself for a moment before returning her attention. ”Oh yeaaaah.”She had forgotten about that. It had struck her as bizarre only for a brief second. ”It’s alright! Stuff like that happens all the time. ”She shrugged her shoulders. The company she usually found herself with usually were of the most affectionate sort: the inebriated. She then reminded him gently and squeezed the hand she held, ”Tonight’s your break remember? Try not to stress.”

”As you wish, Princess.” The calmness of his voice would not betray the heightened caution in his mind upon hearing that these events happen all the time. This cannot be the case– not under his watch. A brief scan around the ballroom made sure to confirm that all the Danrose siblings were safe and within sight, before obediently resigning himself to a single minute’s worth of pause. Such precious time would be used to service the princess for another couple of spins in an effort to ease the current tension.

Anastasia was pleased to be taken for a few more graceful twirls. However, these did not go as well as the prior revolutions. The fabric of her long dress caught under her heel. The floor seemed to disappear beneath her feet as she suddenly fell forward into Wystan with a gasp, her hand gripping his tighter.

What may have looked like a pink blur to onlookers moved as if in slow-motion for the watchdog. Half a second and a soft grunt was all it took. Constant vigilance being his second nature did well in its part to catch the princess in a swift embrace, encapsulating her in the safety of the guard’s arms. All at once, the strange flush returned to his cheeks, which he forcefully bit back as he held her.

”Your Highness, are you alright? … Did you hurt your ankle?” The guard inadvertently held onto her with a little bit of his strength, slightly lifting her so that no pressure would land on her feet.

Anastasia giggled as her hands fell on his chest, ”Ahh sorry… Weak ankles…. I cannot believe I actually tripped.” The split second of adrenaline from free-falling had come with a dose of serotonin. Her blonde hair draped around her head as she hung it a moment. She finally glanced up at him as she became more self-aware of their positioning. ”I’m okay…” She breathed.

”Perhaps we should take a seat, then.” Wystan was just about ready to hoist her up to be carried.

She shook her head, insisting, ”I’m okay, really.”

”Alright.” He looked down at her to make sure of this before giving a small nod– and if one was careful, they’d be able to notice that this was one of rare hesitation. His arms lingered around her for just a moment longer before finally letting go, the warmth of having her there still ever-present in his chest. In protest, a careful hand made its way up to tuck the princess’ hair behind her ear before withdrawing.

Anastasia’s hands subconsciously drifted down his arms briefly as they let go of her. She was at a loss for words for once as the gold-eyed watchdog brushed her hair back, his fingertips briefly brushing against her skin.

”Let us continue our training session until the end, then.” A low bow made her way again, before resuming their dance. Beneath all his layers of cloth and armor, the watchdog’s heart proceeded to race ever so quietly.

With a curtsy in return, she took her position again, her movements more delicate than before. She took the time to correct his steps and show him how to dance in tune to the slower music. However, though she was speaking softly to him, it would be abundantly clear she was more present in her head and her tone was less energetic. Still, her gaze did not often leave his. Finally, she asked as the song was coming to its conclusion. ”...Do you like cake?”

”I do.” An out-of-the-blue question, but one that he answered readily. Though, there were things he naturally preferred more— one of them to which he directed the question back. ”Why do you ask? Are you perhaps hungry, Your Highness?”

Anastasia smiled up at him as she answered cheerfully, ”Yes!”

Daring to look down at the princess right then felt like a dangerous move, but there was also a certain resilience that came with living one’s life solely to fight. For a moment he’d thought it enough to pad his confidence in this endeavor, fully relying on the strength of his immovable walls to take the blow for him. The red in his cheeks, the unease in his chest. All such feelings he’d never learned to experience well. However, all forms of preparation he could muster at the last minute were proven useless when he dropped his steely gaze to settle on Anastasia’s smile. Just like that, the rime in his eyes melted and the corners of his lips moved upwards on their own. The purity in her expression and the loneliness stowed away behind the curve of her eyes returned the feelings he tried desperately to fight back, reducing his great walls to rubble in an instant. The guard was now defenseless. A dangerous move, indeed, and for the first time in his life, it had nothing to do with fighting. A stray thought entered his mind then.

She's beautiful.

And so he dared to keep his gaze on her even as the song slowed to its final stop, willfully accepting that her presence brought with it his own vulnerability. If it meant that he could savor this unfamiliar warmth a second longer, perhaps, and maybe just perhaps… he could wait to rebuild his walls another moment.

”...Then, shall we go find you some cake?”

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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Mole
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L A D Y T H E A & P R I N C E F E L I X


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
M E N T I O N S : @Aerandir , @baraquiel





Unlike the music, their names did not even sound decent together. In fact, Prince Felix thought they did not even look halfway decent together. First, her attire was an entire scandal by itself. Second, her footing was not precise enough for his own step. He had more reasons, but he paused (momentarily) at two. There were better, more dutiful things to transcribe in his thoughts.

“It is always refreshing to dance with you,” he said in a low voice. His hand was at her side, ready to command her body whichever way around the dance floor.

In truth, Thea was only half heartedly in this dance. She was dancing with him out of obligation, not out of desire. So there she was, allowing for lazy steps as opposed to her more precise steps when she danced with Verrick. I swear to God, if he tries to move me like I'm a doll again I might break his nose. She thought bitterly to herself as she was hyper aware of his hand at her side. She knew he needed to lead the dance, but she was still frustrated from earlier. She was positive he hadn't let loose and had true fun since he was a child.

Refreshing? My word, there's no passion in this engagement whatsoever. It's like he rehearses his lines before seeing me. She thought to herself, but instead offered up a smile to him. "Oh yes, quite refreshing indeed. Everything your Highness does is so perfectly practiced." She said sweetly to him, though secretly being a bit passive aggressive.

Felix smiled down at her, enjoying her words, at least for the moment. He appreciated that she was playing nice. It was refreshing. Although, he still pictured her in something more classical, like his sister Beatrice dawned. His mind wandered over his sister’s presence and how she was fairing during her dance (with Verrick). The prince had been able to watch her during the first dance, but he had kept his attention on Lady Thea and Verrick more so.

There was a hinge of jealousy that tightened his grip on the Lady. Verrick and Lady Thea had danced eloquently together. There was a rhythm that he was having a hard time attuning and replicating with his partner. Of course, he preferred a different tune, a better tune.

“I’m going to spin you,” he warned her almost brutly, green eyes dazzling at her. He had not the patience for her to miss his step.

Well at least he warned her what he was gonna go was all the positive Thea could think of for the moment. He'd tightened his grip, however, and she wasn't quite sure what that was about. "I thank you for the warning, I'll try not to disappoint." Her words were still sweet sounding, but this time there was just a hint of a bite at the end of the sentence. There was a small part of her that did wish to disappoint him, but she ignored it. She could be absolutely awful to him constantly, but then she'd have to hear about it from her mother. No, she needed to keep a balance and play this as if it were a game of chess.

She didn't miss a beat as he spun her, steps actually surprisingly graceful, at least until the very end. A dancing couple who clearly weren't skilled nor aware of their surroundings, stepped back right into Thea's space. Her foot caught the man's foot and she gasped as she stumbled right towards Felix, her body now pressed up against his.

When her body pressed into his, Felix took a step backward as his eyes darted towards the clumsy couple. He made no comment against them, but instead, pursued a smile of some sort of endearment towards Thea. Her dress exposed her, and he badly wished to frown at her. He could not imagine Beatrice in such a position…

“Is your footing better?” He held her tightly, as before, but this time, it was out of genuine concern, rather than a deliberate need to control her. He tried to concentrate on her eyes, as odd as they were. She was an attractive woman, but he had his reserves. Even now, he felt the moment could have been intimate.

Thea had found herself glancing up at Felix, face flushing as she realized how close they were. Normally she would have said some sort of flirtatious comment to a man if she found herself in a situation like this, but to Felix? She wasn’t even sure how he’d respond to such a thing. She did, however, strangely find some small comfort as he held her tightly.

”I…um…y-yes.” She stuttered out and then managed a small smile at him. ”I apologize for that. They moved towards me so quickly I had little time to react.” She apologized, some of the old Thea shining through as she tried to take the blame from the couple.

Her attention was briefly caught by Verrick and Beatrice as they beautifully waltz past them. She stared at them longingly, a small smile on her face as she felt happy for Verrick. She was completely oblivious to the fact that it likely looked like she was interested in Verrick. After a moment she finally looked back at Felix. “So how has the night been treating you so far?” She asked, trying to make some small talk.

Felix’s cool demeanor braced him as he quickly ciphered through which response he wished to give her. There were several that stood out more than others, and the one, which he wished was far less prevalent than it was, involved mentioning something about Verrick. However, the man guarded his sister with his life, and the Prince knew much better.

“There is no need to apologize. It was not your fault.” His hands grasped Thea’s more gently, now, setting a less guarded tone, “This evening has been honorary. I have made my acquaintance with many people, I have not spoken to for a while,” his eyes darted towards Beatrice and Verrick, and flickered back to Thea. He wished to compliment her attire, but he could not bring himself to do such a thing.

The way the dress glittered under the ballroom lights and dazzled around her milky skin. It made him feel a nervousness for more than one reason. One of the reasons was that she looked delightful in the dress, and he wished to have known such delight only in private. Another reason was that other men, such as Verrick, could see the delights of her, he wished to keep for himself.

“How has the evening been for you, my lady?” There was a concealed hesitation when the prince asked, even with it being an automatic response to her seeming sincerity. He found himself more entertained by the prospects of her answer than he preferred himself to be.

Stressful…irritating…nerve wracking… These were all words that ran through her head as Thea pondered how she should respond to Felix. Surely he wouldn’t appreciate any of those answers as they were all negative. She needed to think of something positive to say. ”It’s been pleasant. I’ve been enjoying the dancing and the food has been delightful. There are also so many new faces here this year, it’s been nice to speak to some of them.” She finally said as she smiled up at him, finding that it didn’t feel as forced this time.

”Oh I also have plans with Princess Anastasia after the ball. We haven’t seen each other in a while so her and I were going to spend some time catching up and playing cards in my room afterwards.” She explained happily, though that wasn’t entirely the truth. They were going to spend time in her room catching up, but they’d also sneak out later to attend a secret party. She had a masked figure provide her with an invitation before she found Felix for their dance and she had quickly tucked it away. She didn’t wish for Felix to know that part, however, so she decided to tell him they’d be playing cards. Then a thought crossed her mind.

”U-unless you would like to spend time together after the ball? I could come join you in your rooms…we could spend time getting to know each other better.” The words left her mouth before she could really think about how they might sound. She truly meant it innocently, as they really hadn’t spent much time alone together just talking, but after she said it she realized it may come across that she meant it another way. Her cheeks heated a bit again, but she didn’t dare say anymore in case she made it worse. Instead, she just waited to see how he’d reply.

Prince Felix studied Lady Thea. Her odd eyes were looking at him, and her cheeks were tinted. The rhythm of their conversation was flowing much differently than their written correspondence, and mixed with her initial response of negativity, a small, dark stint beat through him. The darkness contained a whole void of thoughts. They circled around together, going down one rabbit hole to the next as he danced with the Lady.

Finally, the thoughts came to a halt. They stopped at the exposure of her dress and the way Verrick had had his way with her during the evening. And, promptly, as they danced, he tilted her backwards, and while he leaned over her, he finally spoke, “Princess Anastasia and my beautiful lady have already made some friendly arrangements. There is no need to resign the schedule to satisfy me,” he kept himself focused on her eyes. Although, he wished to continue a descent of his gaze.

As he lifted her, he continued his part of the conversation. She smelled lovely as he guided her around the dance floor, and he thought of Verrick having had the same experience. He found jealousy to be an unattractive trait and refused to be contemptuous, especially for someone like Verrick. “You should enjoy spending time with a dear friend, especially one you have not seen for a while. You and I already have a lot of time to get to know each other.”

He wished to tell her that she had shown enough of herself to him already and that he preferred his woman to be more conscientious when attiring herself. Instead, he merely pulled her close to him, and looked down at her lips, studying the color. They corresponded with her revealing dress and played pleasantly with the paleness of her skin. Quickly, with the same momentum, his eyes met hers, again, “I would not want a good friend of yours to think I am controlling,” he loosened each other’s positions, parting their bodies as they took careful steps through the dancing crowd, “Will you accept my deepest apology from earlier, my lady? I never wish to anger you.” He kept his sternness, still trying to understand and trust her.

”Oh…” There was a slight hint of disappointment in her voice and it even caught Thea off guard. Why did she feel disappointed? Had she actually been hoping he’d agree to her proposal? Her goal in asking that was to eliminate any suspicion and allow for her to escape easier, wasn’t it? She stared up into his green eyes and then studied his face for a moment. He was exactly what a storybook prince charming would look like. She could even argue that he acted like a fairytale prince. He was exactly what she would have wished for in a person before everything happened in her life. Now, though? No…she didn’t deserve him. He deserved someone better than her. It was this thought that banished that disappointment and allowed her to regain her composure. ”I suppose you are right. Perhaps we can plan for another night then.” She smiled sweetly up at him as he pulled her in close again.

Her heart skipped a beat as she realized his gaze moved to her lips and for a brief second she wondered if he was about to kiss her. A strange mixture of panic and excitement ran through her, but it was quickly dashed as their bodies parted once more. His next words hit her like a knife to the gut as she realized her feelings from earlier hadn’t been lost on him. In her mind she had thought him to be controlling and he recognized this. She felt a pang of guilt run through her as he apologized and she had to avert her gaze for a moment. ”I…” She started, trying to find the right words for the situation. ”Of course I forgive you, my prince. I admit that I may have overreacted a bit. I was overwhelmed and I snapped at you, for that I apologize.” She said softly to him, for once being completely genuine.

“Another night sounds more than abundant,” he said smoothly and lowly, as if to conserve some energy for something else, “You’re much more genuine and enjoyable in person,” he smiled at her, studying her uniqueness. She had been suffering, and upon his agreement to undertake Lady Thea as his fiancé, he would help carry her burden. The commitment had caught him off-guard (which he was unwilling to find himself to be, again) and made his mind contemplate through many difficult scenarios he had not quite imagined previous to the arrangement. There was a deep fear, he could not quite name or begin to conquer that caused an unpleasant feeling to well up inside of him.

This feeling caused an unwanted ambivalence towards the engagement, and with the flights of Lady Thea’s unpredictable behaviors, persuaded him to keep a tight leash on her, if not for his own visage but for hers, as well. For these reasons, Prince Felix found himself more up-tight and pensive. Nonetheless, after her brash reaction, speaking with Lord Leo, and holding her in such a dear manner, Felix thought, perhaps, the ambivalence could enjoy itself for the time being. He knew it was reckless to think this way, but under the ballroom lights, as the Lady sparkled and radiated, she seemed to be delighting the party (despite her previous drunken display) and finding some relaxation amongst the guests and merriment.

Thea’s brows furrowed in slight confusion at his words, desperately trying to discern what he meant by them. In person? Haven’t we always spoken in person? I know it hasn’t been often, but what does he mean? She thought to herself, desperately trying to remember all the times they’d interacted. Had she sent a letter to him at some point while she was drunk and simply didn’t remember it? If so, what in the world had she even said to him? So many questions plagued her, but thankfully her questions were soon to be answered.

“That’s not to say I do not enjoy your writing,” and again, he was speaking with his rehearsed precision, “I merely prefer,” he paused, studying her with glass eyes. He wanted his words to have more meaning than they did, but unintentionally, he found himself looking not at her but through her, as if she were a crystal lace for admiring. He felt the deep fear as his eyes traced the delicate features of her face. “the closeness of our conversations when we are together, in person.” His hand released hers and slowly brought itself to her cheek, “It’s much more intimate.”

Mother! Anger filled Thea briefly as she came to realize what must have been happening. Her mother must have been meddling, trying to ensure that this engagement went according to plan. Had she been reading Felix letters to her and determined that her daughter would not respond? So she took it upon herself to respond behind Thea’s back? How dare she! She wanted to scream at her mother. She wanted to tell Felix he’d been deceived by the treacherous witch. She felt herself about to break, but was quickly grounded as she felt Felix hand caress her cheek. She came back to the present and found herself staring at the prince, emotions running through her that confused and frightened her. Her heart pounded in her chest and she hated that she felt a growing desire for him. Was he merely acting out of duty or did he truly care for her? Would he be the one that could heal her, piece back together the broken parts of her? Could he love her?

Lady Thea’s skin was soft. He thought of rose petals as his hand gently cupped her face. He touched her as if she would fall apart any second. She was much more fragile than she allowed herself to appear, and he lacked the desire to hurt her. He leaned into her small frame, carefully pulling her forward and to kiss her gently on the lips. The gesture filled him with a strong sense of void, like a place with no furnishings, no decorations, no windows. It was a dark mystery, he had no desire to explore “I would ask to kiss my love, but she may have been enjoying the wine a little too much.”

The prince was solemn sounding, and as he pulled away, he wished he had kissed her as some vain attempt to prove she was his. To prove no matter where she went, she would be marked by his presence. He did not appreciate the idea of anyone taking his duty away from him.

However, it was probably for the better. There was no use in nursing jealousy. He had already concluded this. Now, he drew his hand back down from her cheek, admiring her soft arms and continuing the dance. Alas, he concluded it would be a waste of time to spend time with her after the banquet. At least, she would gather something adequate with Princess Anastasia.

Everything came crashing down around her as his words felt like a punch to the gut. She felt a pain in her chest as she realized he was merely performing his duty and she cursed herself for allowing even the smallest bit of hope to enter her. She wanted to hate him, but she found she couldn’t because truly he’d done nothing wrong. He had been doing exactly as he should. Thea, on the other hand, was the problem and she could only blame herself. She fought back so many emotions as she longed for the dance to end now.

The music slowed and she found herself taking a step back from him before it came to a complete stop. She quickly dipped into a curtsy, ignoring the urge to run and disappear from all this. ”Thank you for the wonderful dance, Your Grace. I enjoyed myself and I do hope you did as well. Now if you’ll please excuse me.” She forced the words out, trying to keep an even tone, but she couldn’t meet his gaze. She needed to leave, to calm herself, and so she waited a moment longer before departing. She walked swiftly, but resisted the urge to run as she headed for one of the balconies.

As her hand slipped from his and the shadows of her lashes would not open to look at him, Prince Felix felt as a child having a broken doll taken from him. He made a bow to her and gave her his regards, still studying her as she pulled away. He watched as she fluttered towards the balcony, golden threads waving behind her, the only thing about them that seemed to match.

Slowly, the prince eased his mind from her. She was a mystery to him, and he did not have the time to solve her at this moment. He had the rest of his life for such a challenge. He considered her drunken regards not worth noting. He took from her and continued with his actions mingling with the rest of the guests. He was not finished making his appearance.

The balcony Lady Thea chose was thankfully empty, and as soon as she closed the door behind her collapsed, tears finally bursting forth as she couldn’t contain her emotions any longer. I am a fool. A complete and utter fool who is damaged beyond repair and I have no one to blame but myself. Why would he love me when I’ve done nothing to deserve it? No, I do not deserve love and he deserves so much better than me. She thought to herself as she pulled her knees to her chest and sobbed.

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The Sultan had gone around, introducing himself to many of the other nobles within the room. There were some that he had met before when they traveled to Alidasht and he welcomed them to his land. Others he’d obviously never met before and felt it was proper to become well acquainted. So far what he’d determined about this land was, despite its soft appearance, it seemed to really be a den of vipers. There were so many snakes amongst this group, all vying for power in one way or another. While he could appreciate this, there was something about some of them that he truly disliked. Nevertheless, he wished to give them all a chance.

He’d spotted his daughter, Mayet, dancing with one of the Caesonian princes and he was curious as to how that had gone. He wasn’t sure about those princes or this royal family, but he had a means of finding out. He flagged down one of his servants and they rushed over to him, bowing deeply. ”Fetch Saiya for me, will you? I have something to discuss with her.” He said and the servant nodded before scurrying off. Before long, Saiya was standing before him.

”How may I serve you, my Sultan?” She asked as she dipped down low to him, keeping her gaze on the floor.

”Come now child, you are practically family. Pull yourself off the floor and look at me so I may speak to you properly.” He said and she obeyed as she always did. He had to admire her show of respect towards him despite what had happened to her family. She was incredibly loyal and his late wife had quite a soft spot for the girl. It was this that caused Raif to have some adoration for her as well and made him willing to view her as family. ”I saw Mayet with Prince Wulfric and it got me thinking, I do not know much about these princes. If any of my children are showing interest in them I wish to learn more about them. I know what you do for my brother, might I ask you to do so for me as well? Will you gather information on these men?” He asked her and was pleased when she smiled softly and nodded.

”Thank you, my girl, now go. Mingle and see what you can learn. I long to hear what you find out and learn what your impressions are of them.” There was a smile of his own on his face as he watched the girl leave. He was sure he’d know more before the end of the night. Hopefully these men would be strong enough to be good matches for his children.
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Auguste & Saiya





After her dance with Amir, Saiya had grabbed herself a glass of wine as she tried to calm her racing heart. Fate had other plans for her, however, as an Alidashtan servant had approached her and informed her the Sultan wished to speak with her. It wasn’t like it was uncommon for her to speak with the Sultan, but to suddenly be summoned made her nerves spike. Thankfully it hadn’t been anything negative. No, instead it seemed like everyone wished to utilize her skills tonight. The Sultan wished for her to introduce herself to the Caesonian princes, have conversations with them, and help determine if any of them would be fit for any of his daughters. She supposed she could do that.

She spotted Prince Auguste leaving Charlotte and decided perhaps now was a good time to approach him. She’d keep it simple and let it evolve from there. On silent feet, Saiya approached the prince and dipped into a curtsy. ”Your Highness, pardon my sudden intrusion, but I wished to introduce myself. My name is Saiya Ansari, I’m here with the Aladasht entourage and the adopted daughter of Grand Vizier Hafiz. I wanted to thank you and your family for opening your home to us.” Her voice was very soft-spoken and pleasant sounding as she continued. ”I’d also like to apologize for my father’s outburst earlier. Sometimes he can have quite the temper.” She was fully aware that Auguste hadn’t been present for that outburst, but she had little doubt he had heard about it.

Saiya Ansari, one of the names that came up in the briefing. Auguste was well aware of her but paused his greetings uncharacteristically. He blanked on how to refer to her, seeing as she’s a daughter of the Grand Vizier. ”Of course,” He finally spoke up, returning her curtsy with a bow of his own, ”Shehzadi Ansari…?”

”Oh no, the apologies are not necessary,” Auguste replied, a smile turned on his face, ”I should be the one to apologize for the unfortunate events that took place. I am grateful that the Sultan has granted his magnanimity.”

”I hope Caesonian entertainment is to your liking.” His eyes swept through the ballroom, ”We can only hope to match the allure and vistas of Alidasht, after all.” He genuinely complimented. Alidasht was a kingdom unlike Caesonia and even Varian. It was his hope that all three sides would be able to exert positive influence on each other and exchange cultural ties.

”You flatter me with that title, Your Grace, but unfortunately I do not have the beauty, charm, or power to hold such a title. I am simply Saiya, or if you wish to use a title I think Lady Saiya may be the proper one you would use here in Caesonia.” She said with a small giggle, though she meant it in the most humble of ways. ”There is also no need for you to apologize either. Nothing was meant maliciously and I believe accidents should be forgiven. The Sultan also understands the importance of it as well and I’m just thankful things ended peacefully.” Truly Saiya was thankful to the late Sultana for helping soften Raif's heart. While there were still times that the Sultan chose not to be merciful, usually there was reason behind why he wasn’t.

The conversation moved on to Caesonian entertainment and compliments to Alidasht which had Saiya nodding, a smile still upon her face. ”I have truly enjoyed Caesonia so far. Your culture is quite different from Alidasht and I find it rather refreshing. You have a beauty of your own here and I think it holds an allure of its own that can match Alidasht.” She was being completely honest with her compliment of the kingdom, though she did find some unfavorable things about the kingdom, or rather people of the kingdom. King Edin was someone she’d seen and immediately got a bad feeling from. He was arrogant, but there was something else about him that Saiya couldn’t quite figure out that she didn’t like. She wasn’t about to admit this to his son, however, so she kept her thoughts to herself. ”I do wish to see more of your beautiful kingdom while I’m here as the sights are quite different from Genasea. It almost reminds me of my home in Kisoma, though not near as warm.”

Auguste flashed a look of confusion for a moment after Saiya mentioned beauty. While he had not yet conversed with the other Alidashtian nobility, she did not seem to pale in comparison with them in beauty. Perhaps it was a cultural difference… perhaps the situation was more complicated than he had initially thought. It wasn’t his place to question and probe how their royalty is structured, so he chose to stay quiet.

He nodded, ”Well then, I hope our lands live up to your expectations, Lady Saiya.”

The Prince looked to his King Edin who was now surrounded by women who began caressing his form. Queen Alibeth’s face was buried in her hands, as per usual. Auguste exhaled softly as he immediately guessed his father’s thought process. His father’s intentions were as clear as daylight. He foolishly hoped that it would only be him that could discern it. He pried his eyes away from his father and back to Saiya, trying to steer her eyes and mind away from his father.

”Will you tell me about Alidasht? Most of my knowledge of your lands came from books and hearsay. It would be a pleasure to hear more about it from an actual inhabitant.” Auguste smiled at his next few words, ”... I have heard tales of Alidasht dancing being unrivaled.”

Saiya had caught Auguste’s glance towards his father and, while the sight of Edin surrounded by concubines wasn’t unfamiliar to her as Hafiz was often surrounded by women of his own, she did take note of the Queen. It seemed she wasn’t entirely approving of her husband’s behavior and it caused her to wonder if Auguste also disapproved. She could understand the disapproval as it was something she wasn’t fond of either, despite it being commonplace in Alidasht. She decided to make no comment on it, however, feeling like he’d rather her pretend not to notice his father above anything else.

”While I often try to be a humble woman, I do take pride in our dances as it is one of my specialties. They are quite different from your waltz and your foxtrots, though I do find those dances beautiful in their own rights.” Dancing was definitely a subject she was well versed in and she absolutely loved it. It brought Saiya quite a bit of joy and she loved when people showed appreciation for dance. ”I hope I am not too forward in offering this, but I’d be happy to give a demonstration of our dances at some point during this season. Of, if Your Grace wished, I could even give some lessons?”

”I would be honoured, Lady Saiya.” Auguste smiled. It was known that the Alidasht had an intense love for the art of dancing. It was said to be an honour to be able to observe their dancing, especially those of royalty. Perhaps it was due to the similarities to fighting that he had a liking towards dances, specifically, styles of dances he had not previously seen or known.

”Perhaps you will be prove to me Alidast’s superiority in dancing through the second dance.” Auguste said. Princess Beatrice danced with her guard, so he’d be unable to ask for her hand in the second dance. It was likely that he would get an earful from Edin anyway for failing to at least dance with Princess Beatrice.

”Is that a challenge, Prince Auguste?” Saiya asked as a smirk spread across her face. Was she about to dance with two princes in one night? ”If so then I would be honored to prove it to you. Besides, I’m curious to see if you can keep up with me.” She replied as she let some of that Alidasht spice shine through. She hadn’t intended to win a dance with him, but she wasn’t about to complain either.
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Potter
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Potter

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Time: Early Evening
Location: Caesonia Kingdom Ball
Interaction: @Infinite Cosmos Munir

Attire: Here
Hair: Here


The Shehzadi was offering her a napkin? What was going on? Shocked, she stood there momentarily; then took the napkin from him. She began dabbing at her nose and found it helped more. When he asked a servant to grab more, she bit her lip. Another noble was being nice? Persephone struggled then smiled sweetly. ”Thank you. I’m Persephone.” Her voice was normal now as she began wiping away the blood. Her gaze flickered over to King Edin and she rolled her eyes and gagged.

”And yours, Prince?” She accepted the wine and took a few sips. She glanced at the dancefloor to see people beginning to meet up with others. She sighed and shook her head. ”Wouldn’t be a ball without these stupid dances.” She sighed and gave him a quick curtsy though she didn’t lean over too much so she didn’t interrupt her blood flow. ”Hope we can chat more as the week goes on, Prince.” Persephone winked at him and moved off to find Kazumin.

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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by JJ Doe
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&
Ríoghnach "Riona"

Interaction(s): Callum @Helo

A sharp clap and the sound of glass breaking turned the heads of people who were ignorant of its source. It even turned Riona’s head, though not for the same reason as the bystanders. Unlike them, it was the force of the noble’s hand that pushed her face away from the original direction she was facing mere seconds ago. Her cheek stung belatedly, but it didn’t especially hurt. Not that a noblewoman with string beans for arms was capable of inflicting any significant damage on her. Slowly, and as calmly as she could, Riona faced the perpetrator that slapped her and bowed deeply, as was expected of her.

After the dance with the shahzade, Riona returned straight to her duties. Nothing out of the ordinary happened for awhile. Whenever a mess was made for one reason or another, she and her colleagues swooped in to clean it. Rinse and repeat. It was simple, mindless work. On occasion, she was asked to do things outside of her assigned work because the guests had no way of telling which staff was responsible for what, but they had been manageable.

Trouble came knocking when Riona heard a woman shriek. A brief sound of distress, nothing serious based on how the other guests more or less ignored it and no guards rushed in to defuse the situation. There was a group of nobles surrounding a crying woman with an empty wine glass in one hand, a shoe in another, and a large purplish-red stain on her dress. The first casualty of the night and a trend that past experience taught Riona would continue as long as alcohol flowed.

Riona approached the woman to offer her assistance when she saw the woeful expression transform into rage as soon as the noblewoman caught sight of the maid. “You!” She hissed, “This is all your fault!”

Excuse me? How is what my fault?

As if she had read Riona’s mind the noblewoman stomped her way to the maid with an unstable footing, shoving the shoe she was holding into Riona’s face. At the bottom of it was a mess that Riona initially thought was a smashed-up insect. After a closer inspection, she realized it was the remnant of a grape. “Don’t you dare play dumb! Your incompetence ruined my dress!” Riona could smell the alcohol in the other woman’s breath as she continued to yell at her. “This is why you should never hire commoners! No work ethics! Inherently lazy! You do the bare minimum work and expect to get paid handsomely for it! Even though you can’t even do the simplest task!”

Riona stared blankly at the noble. From what she could piece together from the ramblings of the intoxicated woman and the evidence she provided, Riona guessed that someone had dropped a grape and the drunk noblewoman lost her already deteriorating balance when she stepped on the fruit, which resulted in her spilling her drink over herself. All this, was apparently the servant’s fault because no one picked up the grape before she stepped on it. Riona was being scolded purely as a representative of the servants.

The maid bowed her head, “Many apologizes my Lady—...”

“I don’t want your hollow apologies! You ruined a dress that is worth more than your life and you think an apology is enough to absolve you? Shameless wretch, take responsibility for once in your life. I expected better from the Danroses. They are too lenient on your kind.”

Too… lenient?

A spark flickered and died in the darkness.

Too lenient? Is that what they call it? Where the f**k were you when Leo Over-Polished-My-A** blamed us? What about our reaction gave you the f**king impression that they are too lenient on us? A question Riona already knew the answer to. Even if the noblewoman was standing next to the servant whose knees buckled, she would’ve said the same thing. Because she saw nothing. They all saw nothing. Not the servants’ dread, despair, or fury. They were invisible and what was invisible was nonexistent. Their anguish didn’t exist.

“I know that words don’t work with your kind. You just never seem to understand. Reasoning is simply not your forte.” The noblewoman began to sway back and forth. Her foot jetted out to the side when she leaned too far in one direction in order to maintain her balance. “You are… Like, like, a…”

One of the nobles who had been watching the spectacle with amusement suggested, “Human-shaped animals?” The others chimed in with similar terms.

Another spark, brighter than before, failed to ignite once again.

“Beasts in human skin! Like any wild animal, you only understand strength. As such, you can only learn by receiving a good thrashing.”

What? You think our uniforms cover us from head to toe for modesty's sake? With a masher like Edin?! HA! We have more in common with slaves than with any of you arrogant, spoiled pieces of...!

The spark this time produced a small glow. A tiny, insignificant fire. Unworthy to kindle the embers. Quickly blown out with a single rational thought. Riona dug her nails into her arm, gloves preventing her from breaking skin. She’s drunk Ríoghnach. They’re drunk. She just happens to be drunk and upset. Just have her get her servants and they’ll know how to deal with her.

The maid took in a deep breath through her nose to calm herself, “I am sorry that you feel our services are inadequate, my lady. We will endeavor to do better. In the meantime, would you like me to call—...” The woman in front of her suddenly stumbled forward. Riona’s hands shot out to stabilize her when the woman jerked away from her touch, dropping both the glass and the shoe from her hands so that she could slap the maid across the face.

“How dare you!” The noble screamed, “How dare you touch me without my permission! Who do you think you are!? Know your place!” If her previous crying and rambling hadn’t attracted that much attention before, it had done so now. Even with her head bowed low, Riona could see from her peripheral vision a little crowd forming. Amongst them, she saw her colleagues.

They stood there with worried looks, but as soon as they made an attempt to step forward Riona raised her hand slightly, stopping them in their tracks. The situation, though not as nearly spectacular as Duke Vikena’s entrance, garnered enough attention that it was impossible the head housekeeper wouldn’t be made aware of the situation. If she was, that meant the noblewoman would eventually get what she believed the Danrose servants needed. It was bad enough that they were going to have to be punished to some degree because of Lord Smithwood’s complaint, the other servants didn’t need to deal with more of this nonsense. Not if it could be avoided.

The noblewoman turned to the other nobles around her, “You saw that, yes? She touched me!” The others nodded in agreement. “What if I contract something? I heard that they are carriers of diseases! Didn’t they spread that plague in Kolonivka a while back?” Riona didn’t appreciate being equated to fleas on a rat, but more than that, she wondered how the woman contracted anything when both she and Riona were wearing gloves.

“Don’t fret,” a nobleman hiccuped, “I have it on good authority that alcohol can eradicate the cause of any illness.”

Another scowled at the inebriated man, “And where, pray tell, have you learned that from?”

“Some, publication from … the, the,” he poked his head with his fingers to get the next words out, “Varian Royal Institute of Science. Something about… creatures so small…we can’t see them, but they can make us sick. Heat and alcohol can kill them.”

“Hogwash.”

“I agree, but if it’s the kind of hogwash that allows me to have more alcohol, I have no complaints.” The nobleman grabbed a bottle from the table and uncorked it. He tilted the bottle in the noblewoman’s direction. She took a few steps away from him, shielding herself as she demanded him to stop and that she already decided to burn her clothes. Cleaning it was apparently no longer an option. The dress had been irreversibly ruined by the wine and the stupid maid. No longer could she wear this ensemble without remembering the humiliation.

“You’re no fun at all.” The nobleman faced Riona. A snide grin formed on his lips, “Then again, how can we trust what the Varians say? I think we would be doing a service to them by testing this theory of theirs.” He flipped the bottle upside down over Riona’s head, dumping rather than pouring the wine onto her.

By this point, everything the nobles did was steel striking flint near tinder. Every word spoken, every action they did or did not take grated on Riona. It didn’t take long for the fire to flare up. Her nails dug harder into her skin as she clenched her teeth. The maid was only able to avoid contorting her face into an ugly glower by breathing slowly through her flaring nostrils. She tried to remember the meditation techniques Wystan suggested so that she wouldn't completely lose it, to focus on anything except what was happening at that moment, but her mind kept wandering back. How the woman thought it was a logical conclusion to burn clothes that were worth more than a single life because of a wine stain that could be washed out and a maid who “violated” her. How dumping perfectly good vintage wine was the pinnacle of hilarity for these people. How the wine pooling on the floor looked redder than it was supposed to be.

Why did she even bother?

A soft glow emanated from the embers.

Once the last drop of wine escaped its glass prison the nobleman peeked inside, “Huh, that’s the last of that … and she’s still alive. I suppose the Varian Royal Institute of Science aren’t as credible as they claim to be.”

The flames from the kindling burned with stronger ferocity and as it does, the ember’s light glowed brighter, full of anticipation. Unabashedly hungry for the flames. It yearned to consume it all.

“Mayhap another one will do the trick?” The group snickered.

Fueled by the fire, it would burn brighter than any star. Set Sorian ablaze, for all to witness. They… he would burn in the all-engulfing flames. And it would be glorious. All the girl had to do was just let the embers touch the fire.

“You may be right,” the nobleman uncorked another bottle.

Firewood crackled and popped.

The wine bottle rose up.

The ball of fire flew its way to the embers… and was immediately caught mid-air, extinguished with one swift motion by a hand paler than Ríoghnach’s.

Riona snapped back to reality and turned her head to see Callum standing there.

“Bold of you to insult the king by wasting his favorite wine, a vintage carefully chosen to honor our guests from Alidasht.” Callum snatched the wine bottle from the lesser noble’s hand. With ease, he found himself mimicking a look of absolute disdain, one normally found on his father’s face with Cal often on the receiving end.

The commotion had quickly escalated into something impossible to miss; most of the time these things sorted themselves out, or more accurately the staff sorted them out in ways normally undetected by most. The shrill-voiced noblewoman was easily ignored as someone who couldn’t hold her drink, bemoaning her own mistake, but the slap had echoed through the room. It drew his attention and seeing that it was a wine-drenched Riona on the receiving end of the slap, one of his home’s own staff being assaulted, rather than a scuffle between two equally insufferable nobles, had made all apathy towards the commotion vanish.

“Then again, boldness without cause is base stupidity. You are on thin ice, you will leave my presence, and will be thankful I do not bring this insult to our king’s attention. Should I have the misfortune of seeing any of you again, you will be conducting yourselves in a way that does not embarrass Caesonia.” Cal asked, making an effort to look at each of them the very same way his father would look at Kier the ferret. He then spoke his last sentence slowly, the way one does when speaking with a young child, “Do we understand?” Callum did not wait for a response, instead, he waved them away with his free hand while looking at the wine bottle as if it were a precious thing and shaking his head.

It was a sad truth that to chastise them for the waste of wine, over the mistreatment of a person, would be more easily understood, but it was the truth of the world they all lived in. Assaulting a servant would be seen as nothing, but an action that could be seen as an insult to the king, to embarrass the king and country in front of another nation, bordered on treasonous. It was a simple enough spin on the situation, but one he hoped wouldn’t add any further insult to Riona.

Many of the nobles, including some of his family, laid claim to a favored servant, one they treated better than the rest, occasionally even calling it friendship. These nobles treated others as a pet, all so that they could feel better about themselves, and brag about their generosity and kindness. So, although Cal liked Riona better than he did most people, he knew better than to entertain such notions and knew better than insult someone by claiming them as a favored servant. Not a favored servant, nor even really a friend, because to call someone a friend in a way that meant something required a more even distribution of power. What existed was a strange relationship that had begun with a failed assassination attempt against him and continued fueled by the mutual hatred of one man who sat upon a throne.

There were debts owed to Riona for so many things that he could neither repay nor even give voice to; days when just knowing he wasn’t alone in his hate made life bearable when consuming darkness had been fended off by simply being understood by another. Just as Riona understood him, he understood that she held a dangerous temper that simmered beneath a composed surface.

“I think I could use some fresh air, would you like to join me?” Cal quickly dropped the stern-prince voice, ensuring his words did not sound like a command, offering it as a true choice. His face, however, did not change, he maintained the look of anger and annoyance as he spoke knowing full well it would not due to look soft on the servants in front of those who still watched. It was better for them both if it appeared like he was berating an out-of-line servant. “I’ve got a bottle of wine, there’s an empty balcony over there, and you could probably use a break.” He added gesturing with the bottle.

Riona watched silently as she witnessed firsthand what power words held when spoken by a person of higher status. The pack of hyenas who were cackling at her now exposed their bellies in submission. A pitiful sight to behold. One that threatened to bring a smile to her face and served as a painful reminder of how weak she really was here.

She faced her rescuer and curtsied in greeting, “It would be my greatest pleasure to accompany you, my prince.” She signed her colleagues to come out of hiding, “Can you clean this up for me?” After they nodded, she added, voice louder so that anyone who continued to stick around could hear, “Also, could you find our… fine guest’s servant? There was an unfortunate accident and she is very distressed. She may need to change clothes, but I believe she would feel more comfortable with familiar faces assisting her.” She didn’t give a damn about any of the nobles’ mental state, quite frankly, but she kept appearances up —for Callum’s sake, if not for hers— as she bowed to the general direction of the crowd, “My deepest apologies for the commotion. Everything is now under control, please continue to enjoy the party.” Finally she turned to Callum. “After you, Prince Callum.”
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