Dinner at the Deepwoods
Feb. 5, 2018, 8 p.m.
Arx - Ward of House Grayson - Deepwood Manor - Banquet Hall
Comments and Log
The banquet hall is set up for a feast. True to form (not that anyone would know), Grady has just informed the cook that there would be extra people, but of course completely failed to get a head count. Fortunately for Grady, the staff at Deepwood Manor is used to providing a great deal of hospitality when needed, and so the tables that line the banquet hall are laden with plenty of food for dinner for a host of people. And at one end is a bar - barrels of Deepwood Cider from the vineyards are available to all. The large tables are set for guests as well and Grady looks rather pleased at the setup, truth be told. He stands now waiting for guests, most likely breathless with anticipation.
A figure ensconced in a simple dress of blue enters the hall and gives a look around. Hands to her hips, Emily lets out a whistle, her wild black hair restrained into a plaiting down her back as she crosses the distance to stand near Grady and tilts her head. "Well done, brother, well done...drinks are ready too," she hesitates a moment and grins, teeth flashing before she turns and takes a step backwards so she can face him on her path towards the bar. "A drink? Or are you going to wait for the rest?" The Lady however means to take up one for herself before the others arrive, a freckled cheek wrinkling upwards with her lopsided smile.
Esoka comes at precisely the hour the party was to start. Neither early nor late. The Sword of the Twainfort arrives precisely when she means to. She's cleaned herself up for this, dressed in stylish leathers and with a dash of color on her lips and eyes. None of the make-up is at all designed to try to hide the new bruises she's acquired, which include a quite pronounced black eye. If anything, the little touches accentuate her recent battering. A bow, as she enters. A touch stiff, but given with all respect. "Deepwoods. Good eve."
Dressed in fine winter silks, a cloak draped over her shoulders, Princess Avaline Velenosa tilts her head as she regards those assembled. She smiles and gives a pleasant wave. "Where's Luis?" She wonders. "He invited me here," she seems momentarily confused before shrugging a moment. "I hope that I'm not intruding?" Avaline does move gracefully through the room. "Dame Esoka," she smiles. "Good to see you again. I'm afraid the rest of you have me at a disadvantage. Princess Avaline Velenosa," she introduces herself, smiling broadly.
Duarte strides in and upon arrival takes a giant whiff of that sweet smelling food. Glorious food. Observing his surroundings and those present comes next. The sole representative of Setarco quickly realizes this is perhaps a smaller affair than he had expected and the faces are not recognized by him.
Jessa arrives in the dining hall just before the event is to begin, with just enough time to pour herself a drink. She moves to her husband's side, offering Grady a broad smile as she settles in to see who arrives. Esoka -- rapidly becoming a familiar face -- is greeted with a friendly wave of acknowledgment, while the Velenosa princess and others receive a respectful half-bow in greeting.
Grady smiles first at Emily, kissing her cheek in greeting. "You look as lovely as always, Emily. And of course there are drinks already. I'm a diplomat, not an instigator of war. Who hosts a dinner and doesn't provide drinks?" And then there are newcomers striding through the door and Grady is on! "Welcome, welcome! Come in and make yourself at home. Grab a plate, settle down to sit," he says easily. "Dame Esoka, is it? I'm Grady Deepwood - this is my sister-in-law Emily if you didn't know. And of course my heart, Lady Jessa." He beams at his wife as she joins them, sliding his arm around her waist in welcome. "Princess Avaline, welcome as well." And he even smiles as the unknown man walks through and waves him over. "Welcome! Join us, please."
Samantha makes her way into the banquet hall, taking in the sight of so many people filling it. She pauses a moment, her nose scrinching as she fights off getting all sniffly. Taking a deep breath, she moves further in, declaring merrily, "I trust the staff was up to par in producing dinner, cousins?"
Esoka smiles broad - bruised face and all - at the lot of them. "I'm Dame Esoka Greenblood, for those I've not met yet. Sword of the Twainfort, and sworn knight to House Riven. I've met Lady Jessa. We competed together in the Grayson melee a week or so ago. I don't think that one's where I got this." She points proudly to her eye. "This was the Laurent Tournment of Gloria. But! I got many fine bruises from the Grayson competition as well. It was a most productive week." For beatings. Another bow is offered to Samantha. "Marquessa."
Duarte bows with deference to Grady, "My deepest appreciations, my lord, for hosting such an affair and for welcoming me." He smiles once he returns to his full height." As introductions are being thrown around he includes himself, "I am Count Duarte Amadeo of Bravura."
Emily does not hesitate, gathering her own cider as she grins across at Grady and then winks at her sister who joins them. As she is introduced on her walk back to rejoin her nearest kin, she dips her head to Esoka and the Princess. "It is a pleasure, welcome to Deepwood. I suggest the cider," she lifts her own glass in referencea nd notes the somewhat familiar face of Duarte. "Count Duarte is it not?" She asks, lifting her voice to be heard, dipping her head to him. Her eyes however slip over Esoka and she studies the bruises. "You look quite ready for more than a soiree..." she sips at the cider and draws closer to the growing group. only to see Samantha enter, "Dear cousin," she greets.
Avaline dips her head towards Samantha as she enters. "A pleasure, Marquessa," Avaline offers. "So, what do we have for drinks this evening? Wine or," she glances towards Emily. "Cider? Is that a Deepwood speciality?" Avaline wonders, moving to join the rest of the group, the cloak handed off to a passing servant as she casually looks about, accepting a cup of the cider and sipping quietly.
Grady beams at Duarte, and that smile gets even wider as Samantha joins them. "Welcome indeed, Count Duarte, and Marquessa! I'm glad you could join us this evening. The servants have of course outdone themselves. I am particularly impressed that they managed to do all of this," he says as he waves to the tables laden with food, "on such short notice." His ears tinge just a little. "I'm afraid I didn't provide them much time to prepare, nor much information about who would be here. Just a little family social for whoever felt like dropping by."
"Quite alright, my lord." Duarte pats Grady's shoulder as he completes passing on his way to sit at a table. "These informal sort of affairs are much to my preference. Not quite as stuffy as many of the other gatherings. Besides: the meal smells and looks divine. Happy I did not miss out."
"Count Duarte." Samantha offers greeting, "I've heard of you. Only good things, I promise." There's a chuckle, and if Emily, Grady, and Jessa permit, there's cheek kissing, and a warm smile for Esoka and a curtsy for Avaline. "The kitchen staff does love a challenge."
"Always!" Esoka replies merrily to Emily. She gets herself a mug of cider. "It all looks very nice to me, my lord," she says to Grady. "It's good to have occasion to meet all the Deepwoods who're in the city now. I didn't know there were so many, though it gladdens me to have you lot."
When Echo steps on inside, she pauses by the entryway and casts a quick glance about the room. Her lips curl into a small smile as she spots Avaline, and the Redrain chevalier scoots on over to her side. "Hey Ava." The smile widens as she looks over all the unfamiliar faces, leaning in to stagewhisper, "Where's Luis? Was he not able to make it after all?" Her gaze drifts to the Samantha and she lowers her head in a gentle bow before raising her voice a touch. "Good to see you again, Marquessa. Evening, everyone."
"And I read your book!" Duarte smiles to Samantha, who earns a bow of his head. "Quite insightful. I passed it on to our House's voice for close study."
"That it is, your highness," Emily intones, a warm smile drawing her lips up. The group has formed, more than half with drinks already in hand. "It does look wonderful, worry not. The idea is to bring people together and you have." Emily moves to welcome the cheek kiss from the Marquessa before she glances about. Esoka gets a grin and she adds, "We are glad to be here, very glad," she glances to her family, her grin softening before she moes closer to the Dame, "Would you like to brave the banquet with me. I hold the drinkd and you can gather the food?" Another arrival and she turns her head to get a look, offering a smile.
"Been training a bit more?" Jessa asks Esoka, as she takes in the bruised state. She allows -- and returns -- Samantha's cheek kiss, before turning back to her own mug of cider. She settles in beside her husband to watch as yet more and more people arrive. But mention of a book draws her attention back to Samantha. "A book, cousin?"
Avaline glances up as Echo enters the room, beaming towards her as well. "Echo!" Avaline beams, sipping at her cider and moving to greet her sister, embracing her tight into a hug and kissing each cheek before stepping back. "I'm rather easy to please," Avaline admits to Samantha. "But I'm sure your cooks will impress."
"She wrote a book on diplomacy," Grady informs Jessa proudly. "I haven't gotten my hands on it yet, because I've been busy setting this up," and probably sleeping in, "and haven't been down to the library for any length of time. But the general consensus is that it's excellently written." To Esoka he adds, "There are a lot of us - we're rather a rogue branch... cadet branch I suppose is the more appropriate term. But once you see Jessa and Emily have a mind for trouble together, I'm certain you'll agree with me when I say that 'rogue' is the more accurate one." He winks broadly.
"Most of these are from the Tournament of Gloria the Laurents held," Esoka says to Jessa. "My team was worn down and Princess Marian, Lady Jael, and I got rather battered near the end. We held the field for longer than I think anyone expected, though, and it was a bracing competition. Feels good to fight in fellowship like that on the eve of something more serious." To Emily, she says, "I think I can manage, my lady. I'm rather adept at managing cups. Thank you, though." She /does/ get to filling her plate. She's had a decent sense of balance beaten into her (literally) so she does it without spilling.
Echo is totally peeking over at Esoka, checking out that bruise. Squint. Avaline pulls her out of her thoughts and literally into her arms, and Echo returns the cheek kisses with a wide, dimpled-cheek smile. "Hey you. I don't think I know anyone here except for Marquessa Samantha and Dame Esoka," she whispers. Gazing over at her older sister almost expectantly for a small breath before looking over to the rest.
Samantha looks shyly flattered at Duarte's compliment. "I'm glad you found it helpful. And I hope your Voice does as well." Another curtsy for Echo, and then she's aiming for the cider. She's caught in a sip and grateful that Grady replies in lieu. Swallowing, she adds, "I'll have a copy sent to your suite." for Grady. For Avaline, "We try to put a focus on what comes from the March, naturally. But we're also blessed in that it has a variety of climates. So we may see venison, but also perhaps freshwater fish, or sea clams, or something from our fruit orchards."
A wry smile curls Emily's lips at Esoka's reply, watching the Dame do just as she says. The Deepwood dips her head before she sips at her cider as sisters embrace. The lady trails the edge of her teeth to the inside of her cheek as her weight idly shifts back and forth from foot to foot, fingers tightening on the cider as she takes a side step closer to the food and looks over what has been afforded. She lifts her free hand, it hovers deciding for her before she plucks up a few pieces and tests them with a turn of her head away from the guests before she hmms in approval. A plate is lifted and she sets it in the crook of the elbow of the same hand that holds her cider. She begins to select some food with liberal care, moving on down the array.
Avaline smiles back towards Echo before she dips her head to Samantha. "Well I look forward to seeing what they have in store," Avaline smiles. "I've had brief forays into the north to visit my sisters, but my tastes are decidedly southern, but as they say variety is the spice of life," Avaline lifts her glass.
Grady looks over at Echo curiously. "Princess? Lady?" He offers, "This is Lady Jessa Deepwood, her sister Lady Emily, and I'm her husband Grady. Please be welcome." He's a courteous sort and so he bows to Samantha in gratitude. "And I'll look forward to reading it." Now he gestures at the feast prepared. "Please take whatever you'd like to eat or to drink. I promised dinner and what I hope will be scintillating company, but I promise I will be far more impressed with you than you are with me, since I still have country bumpkin written most clearly on my forehead." He grins now, seeming not to mind that at all. "Eventually I promise it will fade and I will pretend to ennui, but for now let me thank all of you for joining us this evening. I am completely overwhelmed by the reception and thrilled you came to spend the evening in our company. We're all trying to get our bearings here, and I very much appreciate that you're willing to join us. The clams are exquisite," he adds with a gesture to the plate. "Not that I snuck one under the cook's nose before dinner to test it, naturally."
Leana, an Igniseri Guard arrives, following Luis.
Samantha lets out a little laugh, and offers a rueful smile in Grady's direction. Cider now comfortably in hand, she moves to help herself to the buffet and unabashedly piles her plate. Hey, it's a Deepwood party, and she'll pig out if she wants to.
Samantha is overheard praising Grady for: What a marvelous host!
"That /does/ sound like a book right up your alley," Jessa confirms to Grady with a laugh. "I imagine I know what you'll be reading in bed for the next few nights, don't I?" She turns back to Esoka with a smile. "I'm sorry I missed the tournament -- though I fear I would've been outclassed again. I'll have to get very serious about my training in order to stand a chance of placing in these competitions!"
Esoka waves a hand to Jessa. "Some of the best warriors in the land can be found in Arx. Only way to get better is to test yourself against them. Besides, those contests aren't about 'best,' so much as who can hold the field the longest, and have the best luck. Sir Thorley, the Sword of Westrock Reach, won, and he's talked to me many times about how he feels he's just getting back in shape. He's a solid man, so I was happy for him." When her plate is heaping, she finds herself a seat. Flashing a grin at Echo. Her bruises are on full display. If anything, her make-up is done to accentuate them dramatically. "Princess Echo. It is well to see you again."
"There's good things from both places," Echo protests to Avaline, "You just need to explore a little more and you'll find something you enjoy." Her attention drifts to Grady next and she lowers her head in a gentle curtsey, "Princess Echo Redrain. This is Princess Avaline Velenosa, my eldest sister." She cants her head to the woman next to her as she had a lopsided smile for the others. "It's so wonderful to meet all of you."
Luis is announced and slips in a little late, though wearing gold and crimson silks to better represent the sigil of his House. He's added a little bit of oil to his hair, giving his curls a slightly wetted look and artfully arranged so as not to be plastered to his forehead. At his side is the phoenix hilt of the rubicund saber for his position, and he moves with ease as his guardswoman settles where is customary and out of the way. "Good evening, I apologize for my lateness, though I did bring a few extra bottles of wine to hasten your forgiveness," he offers, bringing about a satchel that holds the various bottles, and will offer it to Grady at an opportune time. His gaze sweeps to those whom he knows and he nods to them all, even smiling at Echo and Avaline who have come.
"Clams you say.." Emily drifts closer to the plate that is set up and claims a couple for herself, the self serve banquet being attended to by a few already, balancing plates and drinks. With her own plate thoroughly filled, she moves to find a seat and set her items down to free her hands. She brushes the palms briefly against the hip of her dress. The cider is reached for and she downs another sip, watching the two Princesses and smiling still before yet another arrives. "Lord Igniseri, welcome," she says to Luis, lowering herself to her chair so she can eat alongside the others.
Grady takes the bottles easily and grins at Luis. "Lord Luis Igniseri, friend to Deepwoods. Welcome, and there would be nothing to forgive - but perhaps I'll pretend otherwise for the sake of fine wine. I've heard tales of the excellent wine from the Igniseri vineyards, so I am eager to try it out." He looks around then. "Would anyone else like wine instead of Deepwood Cider? Fear not to turn me down, I am perfectly capable of purloining - excuse me - hoarding - ahem - I mean drinking all this wine by myself too." To Jessa he just shakes his head though at her sally about reading in bed. "I'll need something to read while you compare bruises with the other fights. As you do," he points out good naturedly.
Samantha, having heaped up her plate, looks to the princesses. "Oh, are you looking for a pasttime, Your Higness?" she asks of Avaline. "If you don't mind my asking, what are your interests? I might be able to point you in a direction, or arrange an introduction. Lord Luca! So good to see you!"
"I've found a few good things I enjoy," Avaline says, smiling towards Echo with a pat at her shoulder. "I just think we've both grown used to our own local cuisines," she explains. She heaps up her own plate alongside the others, looking over the food with interest. Samantha's question gets a tilt of her head and a considering though. "I'm a strategist, primarily," she decides. "I'm a warrior the same as my sister," she gives Echo a warm smile at that. "But I've considered myself better at battle planning and organizing. Leading. When I'm not trying to formulate a battle plan, I enjoy getting in touch with the styles of the season, always want to look my best, after all," she says before taking a small bite of her portions.
"I would love to sample some of your wine," Echo says with a gentle nod to Grady. She gives Avaline a small nudge at Samantha's question, glancing over at her sister for a moment before she loaded up her plate and followed the others to get herself seated. "Ava's being really modest here," Echo says with a little waggle of her eating utensil. "She's pretty good at what she does."
"Hmm between the cider and the wine.." Emily's voice trails off and she gives Grady and Jessa a warm smile. "A book, cousin," she comes round to the earlier topic. "I had no idea. When do you have time?" she wonders openly to the Marquessa. She smiles warmly and reaches for one fo the clams, tilting it back to eat it down as she listens to Avaline and Echo, watching them both with curious interest. More food is partaken of during her observant moments.
Jessa leans over to kiss her husband on the cheek in answer -- Grady's accusation is a fair one, apparently, and she can't deny it, so she just accepts it. Then she turns her attention to Echo and Avaline with a warm smile for the princesses. "More sisters? And widely-traveled warriors both, I take it."
Luis smiles as Emily greets him and he bows to her politely, "Lady Emily, good evening," he comments to her welcome and he moves to find his place at the table, realizing that there are many settings, but one must have his name upon it, at least that appears to be what he is looking for. "And I will sample your cider, it would be remiss of me not to enjoy what you are offering," Luis replies to Grady, bowing his head, "Thank you again, Lord and Lady for the invitation to dine here this evening," As the conversations continue around him, he eventually does find a seat and settles down, casually flipping the back of his silk coat so that he does not sit upon it. "Marquessa, a pleasure, again," he replies to her greeting. "Also, who is comparing bruises? Speaking of which, Lady Emily, did you still wish to learn more of the blade this week?" he asks of her.
Esoka sticks with her cider, sipping it between large bites of food. She eats heartily, though she's had enough table manners drilled into her not to talk with her mouth open or put her elbows by her plate or anything like that. Head tilts to Avaline with interest. "A strategist? That'll be most needed in the days ahead, your highness. You should meet my Count Thesarin. He serves as Riven's War Chief, in addition to being Count-Consort to Countess Mia. I'd count him one of the best commanders in Arvum, though I'm of course biased."
Duarte has been silently enjoying the cross talk, and the food - oh my the glorious food! He gently dabs the side of his mouth before lifting a utensil and lightly tapping the side of his glass - perhaps he would like to make a toast.
"Well no doubt you've been to the training center, then?" Samantha inquires. "Gloria is honored there regularly. But you should speak to Rymarr. The Marquis is very much a military man and he's always glad to for new sparring partners. He's also the House's war leader and comes from an Oathlands House. He'd appreciate your sensibilities." There's a bit of chewing and swallowing before she answers Emily, "Well, it took me almost two years to finish it, so a little bit at a time. I almost decided not to publish, but then thought, why not."
The setting is an open banquet with open seating as people are all beginning to migrate to the food or have some already. Deepwood cider and a gift of wine from Luis are available as varying conversations seem to be mixing here and there. "Why not, exactly," Emily comments back to the Marquessa and she glances aside at Luis for his question, the last of her food still needing to be finished. She does quickly and gives him a nod, lifting her hand to cover her mouth. "Yes, yes very much so," she admits to the Igsineri but quiets soon after, glancing towards Duarte as he taps the side of his glass for attention.
Avaline blushes a touch as Echo gives her praise. "Perhaps I am, but not compared to my sisters. You and Raea are forces to be reckoned with, I'm just good enough to get by, really," she says, sipping the cider she nods towards Esoka. "I've not met them, but perhaps I should endeavor to. Learning the strategies of others only increases the possibilities," she gives a little nod and nods once mroe towards Samantha. "I've been a little," she says. "I'm not the best at sparring, but discussing such with other militarily minded individuals is something that I do enjoy. If you know of any good tailors as well?" she looks around the room, and Luis gets a big smile and w ave.
Grady laughs as Jessa kisses him on the cheek, and then he moves over to fill his own plate. He manages to hand off the bottles of wine to a servant, who opens one and gives it right back, and then he's refilling Echo's glass with a smile and a nod of his head before pouring some in his own glass. "I am accustomed to the life of a diplomat married to a warrior," he comments to Samantha. "It should get old, listening to them compare bruises and enthusiastically discuss their next opportunity to receive more. And yet it doesn't," he adds with a cheerful grin.
Military man, military men. Its always as if it was a call to arms for Michael to swagger into the banquet hall. "I can hear this party clear across the plaza, I'll have you know." Oh, Cider! A glass is lifted from a table and he carries on into the room. Apparently initially speaking to nobody at first. Then his feet carry him towards the conversation centering on Samantha and does a very un-Michael-thing by not intruding.
"I really ought to try sparring with the Marquis sometime," Jessa admits to Samantha, as she moves to put aside her cider for a moment and fill her plate. "I've only really been in the big sparring matches so far, which are very different than one-on-one fights, as Dame Esoka noted." She inclines her head towards Esoka in acknowledgment.
Luis gives nods of greeting to those whom see him and say hello, but it is Duarte's tapping of his glass that keeps the Igniseri Lord from saying anything more, waiting patiently for the man to say what he wishes to say.
"Several." Samantha says happily to Avaline. "I can give you a few names if you like? Aurora Thornburn and Petal Penrose are both extremely talented, off the top of my head. Although, have you ever heard of Myrinda Greyhope? She was the premier clothier of the city before she passed away." There's a pause. "I have an original by her, if it would interest you, I'd be happy to show you some time." And then with a happy cry, "Michael!" She offers the sisters a merry, "One moment please," and goes to hug the Bisland heir. "Everyone, this is my foster brother, Lord Michael Bisland. And these are Emily, Jessa, and Grady Deepwood, they've joined me from a cadet branch isn't that wonderful?" Breathlessly, she continues, "Princesses Avaline and Echo Redrain, Count Duarte Amadeo, Lord Luis Igniseri, and of course, you know Dame Esoka."
Esoka nods firm to Avaline. "I'm sure Count Thesarin and Marquis Rymarr both would be interested to talk with another with experience leading troops. My own is limited to units of household knights, on patrols and such, though I'll be heading the Riven cavalry in the clashes against the Pirate King. Depending on how we're deployed. If we're fighting aboard ship, the utility of horses will be minimal. But I'll find a use for myself somewhere, I'm sure." Her head turns at Michael's entry, and she rises briefly from her meal to bow. "My lord. Good eve upon you."
"I'm not nearly as strong as Raea," Echo says with a little giggle and another nudge to Ava. "But thank you for saying such anyways." She nods at Samantha's suggestions, adding, "I've met Petal and she's so incredibly talented. Every time I swing by that shop I need to be careful not to overspend." Echo grins and dips her head as she's introduced before nodding to Esoka. "That's a good idea, too. I'm less of a commander and more of a soldier. Ava's always been giving me orders since we were young."
Grady raises his hands. "Everyone," he says then into the silence. "It seems Count Duarte would like to speak. If you'd turn your attention to him for a moment please." And then he bows to the Count. "As you please."
"You have a Grayhope original?" Avaline seems stunned. "I would love to see it sometime, of course. I've never thought I would have a chance to see an original by her in person before," Avaline says, before gesturing to her own clothes. "These were mady by mistress Petal and I do have to say, she does fine work," she nods to Esoka. "I only have a handful of battles to speak of, but I would love to meet them sometime," she says, before falling silent for Count Duarte.
"Lord Michael," Jessa offers with a broad, warm smile. "A pleasure to meet someone so important to Marquessa Samantha." Echo's comment about being more a soldier than a leader earns an understanding look, but before Jessa can say anything, Grady speaks up and she falls silent, turning her attention towards Duarte.
Michael nods along to the introductions, "Emily. Jessa. Grady." Fixating names in his memory or something similiar, but he stops to grin towards the short Echo Redrain. "Ah, Princess Echo Redrain. The most fair of the Redrain Princesses. I'd never overlook you. And Princess Avaline." Any further comment is aborted at Grady's announcement, nad he turns to look for Duarte.
Emily gives Michael dip of her head from her seat, remaining in silence as she is introduced for Grady lifts his voice to draw attention to the glass tapping from the Count. She takes hold of her cider, watching the Count from her position at the table. She quickly sneaks another bite from her plate, casting a quick shifting glance as she quietly and slowly eats.
Duarte stands, cupping his glass with both hands. He speaks up loud enough for the room to hear, but the timbre of his voice remains unstrained and as smooth as the silk exported from his native home. "A few words, if you will allow. Thank you." He bows his head to the Marquessa. "It was within our lifetime when stark tragedy befell this house of Deepwood. Perhaps such would have been the end of many a vassal - but under the keen leadership of our most gracious lady Marquessa - her diplomacy and grace - we have seen a great rebuilding of this proud house - a vassal of Bisland, who are in turn esteemed for their unwavering integrity." He smiles and lifts his glass to Grady, "My lord, you are a most generous host and I thank you for tonight's invitation and supper." He cups the glass back in his palms. "Having recently acquired a small land holding on the humble island of Nilanza, I can certainly say managing the affairs are no walk in the park. For House Deepwood to persevere through their great struggle, establish peerage in Arx and rise as a much respected and noted house is no small accomplishment. And to do so with unmatched elegance and kindness is almost unheard of. It is a true honor to share this evening with your fine family, for they truly are..." and he raises his glass here, "...serene as the deepest wood." He ends with a bow of respect to the Marquessa and is the first to drink.
Grady raises his glass to Duarte in honor, and then to Samantha in turn. "You do us great honor with your kind words," he says to Duarte. "I do hope all here present thrive - and I am honored you chose to share the evening with us." He looks at Michael then. "Lord Michael, brother to our newly met and already dear Marquessa, welcome and thank you particularly for joining us as well. Drink up and eat up, and be merry, all!" Then as conversation gradually resumes, he makes his way over to Duarte. "Nilanza, you say?"
"My Lord Count, you are incredibly kind...and I wish you all the best fortune with your new holdings. Although," she looks toward Grady gratefully, "All the credit is due to Lord Grady for tonight's dinner. And hopefully it is the start of a lovely family tradition."
Emily's gaze drifts to Samantha from Duarte and the smile that slowly spreads softens and reaches her eyes. Her gaze drops and stares into the Deepwood Cider in her glass, brows furrowing at some internal thought before her attention lifts upwards again to regard the Count. Once he drinks, she lifts her glass high before bringing it to her lips, tilting her head back to down a good pull of the cider. She lowers the glass back to the table, glancing up at Michael whom she finally fully greets, "Welcome Lord Michael, our table is yours..." she motions for him to join.
There's a straightening of Esoka's posture at the word 'Nilanza.' She grunts soft, listening to Duarte's words respectfully, and raising her glass at the end of them. "Serene as the deepest wood," she murmurs in a toast, before drinking. A long drink.
Echo's chin lifts and she looks about ready to protest Michael's words as she glanced over to Avaline, but she fell silent and her attention drifted to Duarte when the Count began speaking. After which, she lifted her glass in cheer and held it up high. There was a smile playing on her lips as she glanced between Grady and Samantha, before which she imbibed in her wine. "Serene as the deepest wood!"
Luis sips from his glass after the toast, raising it both before and after and replies with a sound of approval. He settles back into his chair and watches as the conversations resume, however his eyes linger a while longer upon Duarte, watching the man and studying him. It is only for a polite moment, before he shifts his attention back to Emily, "Yes, I would not mind continuing your lessons, as you will," finally replying to her comment from earlier. To Echo and Avaline, he adds, "Cousins, so happy am I to see that you were able to attend, did I miss anything important?" he asks of them, a hint of mischeif in his eye. The table is filling rapidly and Luis all of a sudden seems more relaxed as he is not the last to arrive. He'll find food upon his plate and set to between small conversations, nodding to those who require it, and sharing a few words here and there.
Duarte nods to Grady, "Indeed, my lord. Bravura - to be exact. A former vassal of what was once Argento, now Pravus."
Grady considers that carefully. "In the Lyceum then, a separate offshoot of Pravus, in vassalage to them? You are much threatened by the current state in Southport, and the bearing down of the fleet upon Setarco and the Lyceum, yes?" He gives Jessa and Samantha a rueful glance - apparently diplomacy shop-talk happens as often as combat shop-talk.
"We are oft much threatened, just seldom by foreign navies." Duarte smiles in an unconcered manner. "The bannercall has been heard and I have no doubts as to the state of readiness with Duchess Calypso leading the efforts."
Luis nods his head to Grady and Duarte, his eyes lighting with a fire, "Indeed, I was recently travelling through our own lands to rally our vassals and add others to the folds. It is that time where all things seem to be going for the better, as it were. Though history has made each new eager face that I see join our armies ranks, one that will most likely haunt me in nightmares after all is said and done." He gives an apologetic nod, not having wished to spoil the mood.
"You sure did." Echo directs to Luis with a slight hint of tease in her voice. "All the important stuff, actually." The Redrain chevalier's eyes narrow and she waggles a finger at Luis. "All of it." Then there's the talk of Southport which has her sinking in her chair and sipping at her drink in quiet.
"Tell me about the lands of Nilanza, my lord," Esoka says to Duarte. "It's a name I've heard before, in passing, but I know little of the place." More cider is sipped on. She's drained her cup by now, and she reaches for a pitcher to refill it.
Jessa listens to the talk of the upcoming conflict with interest -- and obvious concern as well -- while she actually picks at her plate. She hasn't been privy to many strategy meetings, and so she's only had hearsay and rumor to go on thus far. The more she hears, the more troubled the Deepwood woman appears to be.
Emily has gone into plate maintenance mode, given to letting her attention quickly assess each conversation and the participants, bites taken between sips of cider until her head dips and she listens to something that is said. Her eyes dart to the side and she smiles at Luis and says something aside to him. But she glances across to see Jessa and she frowns a bit, tilting her head and smiling, attempting to draw her sister's attention.
"Such is my life. Always late to the party, and early to the guardsmen's arms. My luck is poor," Luis admits with a woeful little shake of his head, mocking of course. "However, I am sure that there are still many interesting things to be discussed, or shared. I am in a room full of the most interesting of people, it is only natural that even simple pleasantries will be of the utmost remark." He nods with Esoka's question to Duarte, "Indeed, Nilanza I have only read about, I have yet to travel there properly. What is it like?" As he notes the look upon Jessa's face, Luis turns to her, "Ah, Lady Jessa, we shall win this war, do not worry about that, we should have you spar some more to realize how well trained the houses of Arx truly are this time around."
"I did not mean to take the conversation down a somber path," Grady admits. "So tell us of Nilanza as a whole," he seconds Esoka's request. "There's little more interesting than the love of a man for his homeland." And he turns his attention to Michael then. "And come join us. The Marquessa speaks of you quite fondly and so I imagine you will be much like another brother to us as well." He grins. "More family is always well met."
"Serene as the deepest wood." Michael smiles and lifts his glass of cider towards Duarte as well. It was a very nice toast. He waits until its over before settling in at the table with the Deepwoods. He didn't grab food, and glances towards the table a moment before deciding to stay put. "Ah yes. Samantha and I go a great ways back. I keep a wary watch upon her. I don't think shes forgiven me for stuffing hay down her dress yet."
Leana, an Igniseri Guard have been dismissed.
Avaline laughs for a moment towards Echo, tilting her head. "Well I was just talking about my interest in strategy and clothing," Avaline smiles. "Nothing too deep really, though i have some names I should seek out, certainly. Marquis Rymarr, Count Thesarin, did you think I should speak with Countess Mia as well?" Avaline wonders with a tilt of her head towards Esoka.
Jessa glances over at her sister, eyebrows arched. After a moment, she puts the plate aside and and moves to Emily's side to see what it is that her sister wants to share with her.
"Strategy and clothing?! Those are two wonderful topics that go hand in hand. I too fancy clothing and strategy. And sometimes one leads to the other... It's like a motto, wear the right clothing and you can get rid of strategy... have a good strategy and you can get rid of..." he pauses to sip his wine, then never does finish that sentence. "And that is a list of powerful people, all with much knowledge to be shared I assure you as I have been told." There's a pause and he turns to Michael, "See, the Lord knows strategy as well. Hay is an excellent means by which... though not often leaves them with an endearing perception of oneself however."
So says Luis.
When Jessa moves over, Emily reaches for her hand and draws her close, speaking with her. "I have a gift for you," she says softly. "If you want I can go get it now, I feel you need a distraction," the younger of the two says, blue eyes sparkling with mirth and a bit of concern. "You may come with me or stay here, either way I am going to get it," she says and draws Jessa down to the chair, hoping that Luis may keep her distracted as she shoots him a look when he says something to her.
"Most certainly," Esoka replies to Avaline, as to Mia. "They are a pair that balanced each other, Thesarin and my Countess." She eats much and well, however somber the conversation gets, her attention still sharp to Duarte. Curious about this Nilanza.
Grady laughs. "Oh dear. I'm not going to get involved in the negotiation of settlements after she gets what my sisters always told me was the appropriate retribution," he says to Michael. Then he looks over to Avaline. "Count Thesarin was quite helpful when I needed a quick primer on everything going on in the city. He says his wife and mine would get along - I see no reason to doubt him." He grins. "But he's quite personable, even with a lamentable tendency to weave fairy tales into the here and now."
"Well," Samantha interjects - she's been attending her plate - "Fashion can also be war, of a kind." Her attention turns to Jessa and Emily, with interest. "Mia and Thesarin's courtship, such as it was, is a story frequently enjoyed by many as a well told tale."
"A gift?" Jessa regards Emily with a mixture of pleasure and curiosity. "Of course I'll wait here, Ems. But I'm afraid I haven't gotten you anything yet; I've been planning to find you a good bow as a gift to celebrate reaching Arx, but I don't have the funds yet for a nice rubicund one."
"Speaking of war and fashion, there is a twin to this tunic that I wear, except done as a Lady's dress. It was meant as a gift for someone, but the knave, or rogue was able to sweet talk the seamstress into parting with it before it could be delivered to my domus. Were any of you to know, or see someone wearing it, please do inform me, it is quite a lively game at this point," Luis adds to the conversation. Luis leans over to whisper something to Jessa when Emily finally does make herself away.
"Yes and its something simple..do not worry about anything in return," she says and Emily stands and releases Jessa's hand before she excuses herself from the guests to leave the banquet hall. The blue hem of her dress whispers across the threshold before she disappears - once out of sight hurrying a little faster so as not to leave their guests too long.
Avaline laughs and nods to Samantha with a little smile. "It's certainly a war when a good tailor puts out new stock," Avaline says. "The most demure lady turns into a fierce combatant to get a desired dress," she'll point out, smirking a moment before sitting back in her seat and sipping the cider. "I'll have to speak with him," she says, giving a nod to Grady and Esoka both.
"A well told tale? I do like a well told tale," Grady comments to Samantha. "Will you regale us? Or should that wait for a quieter night?" He seems quite pleased as he looks around at the comfortable party. "We have a surprising number of people here tonight. I admit I am gratified."
Luis stares at Avaline at her comment, "Was it you?! Did you seduce that little seamstress into selling you my dress?!" he asks a little louder than he should, though it's clearly good naturedly as he waits for Duarte to tell them all about the lands that he is from. He nods to Grady at the man's hope for tales, "Indeed, perhaps we should hear a few tales this evening."
"The thing is. Either the interminable wait of 10 years to get me back is punishment enough. Or she'll see me matchmade young and settled. Her vengeance is deep and wounding." He flashs a wink across the table towards Samantha. "See, I've bought one tunic weeks ago. And every fancy thing I go to, I wear it. I've worn it thrice now." Michael turns to watch Emily retreat with a furrowed brow, "I was unaware we were giving gifts."
Avaline eyes Luis with an amused smirk over her cider. "Don't underestimate me," Avaline chuckles, a little lift of her eyebrows as she quiets to listen to the rest of the conversation.
Samantha grins at Avaline. "Or simply to be the one with the nicest, most unique, or whathaveyou piece from a well regarded designer. Oh! I was going to say, before Count Duarte almost made me cry," A mock glare in his direction. "Petal made my wedding gown. I think you and I will have to have a wardrobe party sometime." She snorts belatedly. "I was...four, I think? When I came into the Bisland household. Michael wasn't expecting his papa to come home with a surprise foster sister, but fortunately he doesn't seem to regret it." She mms to Grady. "Esoka would tell it better, but the long and short of it is, during the Tyde Rebellion, with most of her family gone, Mia Riven got on a horse, rode like the wind until she found the most powerful of the Abandoned clans of the area, and convinced their best to marry her and most to bend the knee, rallied, and saved the day. I'm fairly certain that Thesarin admired her sheer audacity."
Esoka dips her chin to Samantha. "I think you tell it just fine, Marquessa. But, aye, that's the tale of it, in short. Thesarin had led a band of us away from the main of the Greenwood tribe. Unworthy men had taken leadership and were wasting our lives in petty and inglorious battles. Countess Mia made him an offer of alliance, to save both Riven and us Greenwoods who followed him. And so, Riven is both halves of this, to this day."
"Not to worry Lord Michael, I believe that they are sisters, siblings do often give gifts to each other. Common practice, I believe." There's a pause as Luis notes that some folks have to leave, but he doesn't let that slow him down, "Well then, looks like we need other tales instead!"
The youngest Deepwood has likley hurried for she comes back all too soon and slows just as she hits the entrance, a small box in her hand as she grasps at the front of her blue dress to fluff and reposition it from getting tangled in her legs. Thank goodness for the braid of her hair or she'd come back looking like a wild thing. She closes the distance and lowers to sit back down next to Jessa with a push to the chair outward. She settles herself down to the edge of it and turning to quitely offer it to her just between them.
"My wardrobe since I arrived isn't quite up to the local standards," Avaline admits. "But I would love to see what you have someday. I'm sure I'll acquire quite the collection in time," she beams towards Samantha.
Grady raises a glass at Samantha's story. "That's quite the tale indeed," he says to Samantha. "Goodness. Bold and audacious - and successful, which of course we admire most, for if she weren't successful we wouldn't be telling her story. But how charming indeed." He smiles at Samantha, looking between the siblings with twinkling eyes for the byplay between them - he apparently knows well the teasing of a sister. Or two. His eyes flicker toward Jessa and Emily. Totally coincidentally, of course.
Luis bows his head at the finish of Samantha's telling, "Some just have the ability to command garner what they set their minds to. Quite a tale, indeed. Though it does seem to add another dimension to the man she married, does it not?" he asks of those still gathered around the table. He sips more of the cider, seeming to enjoy it from the smile that settles upon his lips after each sip. As the younger Deepwood sister returns and makes a show of presenting her sister with a small box, Luis gives a curious eye, but waits patiently should anything be revealed.
Jessa can't help but raise a glass to the story as well. "That sort of audacity is all too rare," she notes, with a laugh. But then Emily approaches with a small box, and Jessa turns her attention to whatever lies inside. "It's /gorgeous/, Em. Thank you!" Within the box, for those standing close enough to see, is a small bracelet with a medallion of polished oak wood on a bronze chain, a peridot set in the center of the innermost ring.
Emily smiles, watching Jessa as she had missed any of the story while gone. "Brought a little bit of home with us, I have one too..but without the stone," she says and then extends her hands, palms up to take the box from her if she wishes to remove the bracelet. "I am glad you like it, really," for there is a measure of relief that crosses the younger's face, trying to keep her voice low so she doesn't interrupt the conversation.
"Nilanza? It is an island off the coast of Caith, north of the Saffron Chain." Duarte smiles. "The people there were traditionally pirates - since socialized, of course - though they now charge lawful tolls to merchants for safe passage through the straight." He takes a small breath. "Bavura is my city, but not at all a city of old pirates. It's largely immigrants and had a bit of an aesthetic tradition. Much of the artwork and sculptings - songs and novels - originate from, or are influenced by, the Bavurian style."
Grady smiles fondly as Emily and Jessa look over the gift. "That's beautiful Emily. And will suit her perfectly." He then turns his attention to Duarte. "Oh, a city of culture and art? Fascinating! I would like to talk to you further another time perhaps, of trade and what you do with your island - and what you intend for it, since you said you were establishing it. But for now, I think I will call this an excellent dinner. Though of course you are all welcome to stay - and eat and drink - long into the evening." He smiles broadly.
Esoka makes a low "Mmmm" sound as Duarte speaks of Nilanza. "Very interesting. I've seen few places in the Islands like that. Most of my life has been spent in the Crownlands, which just a few missions up North. And to Southport, recently, though that was mainly a morale outing with the Templars." She sips more on her cider. Nursing the drink. Gaze shifts to Jessa and Emily, as gifts are presented, and she grins broad. "How lovely and most thoughtful."
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