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Eidolon Gallery Opening

The Eidolon Gallery is opening its doors to the public with a grand celebration including a raffle, door prizes and two new reserve stock beers from Raconteur Brewing Company made especially for this event and available nowhere else. Raffle tickets will cost 5 economic writs for nobles or 2 economic writs for commoners. Items up for raffle will be announced closer to opening day. All questions should be directed to Marquessa Lianne Malespero.

Date

April 28, 2018, 9 p.m.

Hosted By

Lianne

Participants

Alaric Niccolo Belladonna Talen Sebastian Lianne Sabella Khanne Signe Mae Eleyna Mydas Waldemai Derovai Niklas Sparte Vayne Lethe Mayir Caith Amari Lumen Terese Venturo Jordan Micaela Catriona Pasquale Leonora Lys

Location

Arx - Ward of the Compact - Eidolon Gallery

Largesse Level

Grand

Comments and Log


With the sun already set and nothing but the dim glow of streetlights and moonlight filtering in through the tall windows looking out on the rest of the city, brilliant lamplight fills the gallery space, illuminating the curious works on display this evening. The entirety of the Eidolon Gallery's current collection has been hung in this main room, showcased in pairs, groups or singly, each piece with its own story to tell. Staff dressed entirely in either black or white stand ready to serve the guests, prividing an assortment of beverages--and nothing at all to nibble.



Marquessa Lianne Malespero stands almost directly in the center of the space, stepped slightly to the side to let guests look past to the painting of a 'marquessa' on the far wall behind her. Tonight, she's dressed all in white from shoulder to floor, that stunning matte silk draped so perfectly upon her frame, a stark contrast to her olive skin. She rushes no one, offering only her bright smile and warm words of welcome, encouraging attendees to explore at their own pace.

Wilhelm the Iron Messenger, Gene Erique, Guardsman, Ibbeth arrive, following Sparte.

Waldemai hikes up from his forge, hoping to see some artistic statues. You know. Artistic.

Despite her pallor and slightly sickly demeanor, the smile that Lady Leonora Malespero wears as she enters the gallery is as warm as the sun. Jade-green eyes widen as she finally sees the gallery itself, her attention flitting from painting to painting as though she's trying to take it all in before the worst of the crowds arrive. Not that she has the time to deeply examine any one picture... but still, she tries. And then she makes her way over to Lianne, that smile still oh-so-bright. "Marquessa! This gallery is just /amazing/."

Khanne has joined the gloomier view of the gallery.

Mydas arrives with his entourage of elephants, peacocks, dancing girls with veils, sword-throwing-- Wait, no, just his guards. He is otherwise unaccompanied, and enters the gallery as the event begins. While he gives a smiling nod to Lianne, he does not go to her at once, choosing instead to move to a more well-lit portion of the room to admire the art from, and otherwise remains quietly in his corner.

Lethe looks around eagerly once she arrives to the event. She smiles politely to Lianne and tries to find a good place to view some of the art.

His voice is heard just at the same time as Venturo makes his appearance, "And so that is how, by having saved his daughter from being trampled the week before, I managed to avoid getting tossed in a cell, and instead had a rather nice breakfast with the captain of the guard." The end of the brewer's story is for his companion, the Princess Terese, whose hand is nestled in the crook of elbow on the closest arm. Without missing a beat, the man leads them towards the host, stepping in line to make greetings, "Marquessa Lianne. It looks tantalizing here. Have you had the chance to meet Princess Terese Valardin?"

Mayir is not usually one for art. And today is no different! But at the same time, Mayir knows Lianne well enough, and so he needs to make an appearance to show his support. He makes his way over towards the Marquessa, smiling. "Congratulations! Your dream's come true! This is so fantastic!"

Sybilla, the Lenosian lady's maid, 13 House Velenosa Guards arrive, following Eleyna.

6 House Velenosa Guards, Jiacomo, the Velenosa seneschal, Eleyna arrive, following Talen.

Sparte makes his way into the gallery with his small group of tag alongs behind, all looking around to take in the atmosphere with varying degrees of curiousity. Sparte leads over to the ticket raffle, paying for each of the four to take a ticket before they go off to mingle.

Signe passes through the entrance like all the others to see what the gallery had instore. She makes a short visit to the bar as drinks were so graciously offered then the Nightgold noblewoman takes to exploring the artistic displays.

Zoraida, an Apprentice Whisper arrives, following Lumen.

Zelda, the royal messenger, 13 King's Own Guardsmen, Lumen arrive, following Alaric.

Derovai slips in shortly after the opening, studying the painting of the marquessa for a pensive moment. He says nothing to Lianne, though, eschewing proper greetings to find himself a space at the bar, signaling one of those servers for a drink. For a moment his black-clad twin steps to the side, and then a few moments later, a bottle of Setarco Fire is making its way towards Derovai's space at the bar. "You should tell the marquessa she should have provided food. Drink will make people hungry," he advises the waiter, as he pours his own glass of Fire, offering Signe a nod as she approaches and then moves on.

Derovai has joined the bar by the entrance.

Signe has joined the bar by the entrance.

Talen arrives with Eleyna on his arm, the Consort leading the Archduchess, before he lingers off to the side at the entrance. "Deal?" he asks Eleyna, simply, extending his hand to solidify his agreement, bet, sale, barter or otherwise.

"Lady Leonora!" Lianne readily reflects that bright smile with one of her own, a little relief evident in the way her shoulders sink ever so slightly. "I was informed you'd arrived weeks ago. I'm so sorry it's taken so long for us to catch up." There's a shallow gesture, a wave of her hand to the room around them, explanation for the delay. Softer, she murmurs, "I am rather proud of it." She turns that bright smile to Mydas as he makes his way in, nodding in acknolwedgement, that same delight offered in turn to Waldemai, Lethe, Sparte. Signe gets a slightly longer look before she's distracted. "Mayir," has some warmth to it, a fondness for the sailor--and marketing executive of a particularly profitable business. "Thank you. I'm glad you could come see for yourself." At last, she turns to Venturo and Terese, dark brows arched. "I have not," she answers the former, her gaze settling on the latter. "Though I do believe we may have spied one another at the grove the other night. A pleasure, your highness."

Micaela glides into the gallery, all curiosity and languor. She surveys the room - first the people, then the art - before making her way over to Leonora. "Darling," she says to Leonora, "You look wonderful. I'm glad you made it out." She raises her voice to add to Lianne, "and you always look lovely. This is such an accomplishment! Well done. Absolutely stunning."

Catriona likes art. And she likes mingling, so of course she's here. She keeps a keen eye out, noting the slightly thicker gathering of people around Lianne, and sweeping the gallery for familiar faces. On her way past, she casts Sparte a smile and slows. "It's good to see you again so soon, Master Fatchforth." She smiles at Lianne, but waits to approach until after others have congratulated the apparent host of this event.



Moving gracefully, Terese moves easily at Venturo's side in a soft sweep of almondine silks that nestle over the curves of her form. Her azure gaze is lifted to the man as he speaks and a soft chuckle escapes her lips for the ending to his story. Her gaze turns towards the gallery and those within, setting first on Lianne with a warm smile of greetings. "Marquessa," she dips her head, her dark tresses swept up in a luxurious wealth of curls that are carefully pinned into place and showcase the golden dusk of her flesh above the off the shoulder design of her gown's neckline. "Indeed, a pleasure to be formally acquainted. Master Thayne speaks highly of you."

Eleyna snorts slightly and lifts her brows at Talen. "Really? That's a sucker's bet." Yet, despite that, she places her small, pale hand in his larger, gauntleted one and shakes before she slips her arm in his once more and move inside with the crowd.

Waldemai nods back when he's acknowledged, and goes back to looking at the pretty pictures.

Lethe has joined the well-illuminated perspective.

Vayne pauses just inside the gallery, looking unusually pleased about something, even proud. The Archlector takes the whole place in before another step, and then he begins to meander around the gallery, looking at the different pieces. Those who notice him get a friendly smile cast their way.

Pasquale enters the gallery, taking a long moment to get a sense of the space, and the paintings on the wall, though he doesn't immediately get in deep study of any of them. His first stop is the bar. Eyeing the bottle of Setarco Fire as Derovai's drink finishes pouring. "Is that sort of drink any good, or just senses-dulling?"

Pasquale has joined the bar by the entrance.

Mayir did his bit, having greeted the hostess, but then seems to be considering who to go bother. But then he spies Khanne, his best friend's patron, and so that is as good as any place to go. "Lady Khanne! It's me. Mayir Grayhope. Magpie's best friend."

"Well, that makes you the sucker," Talen says, confident that his armour can protect him from a hit, though his face is remarkably un-helmeted-ed. "Hey, Mydas is over there," he says, using the Archduchess' brothers most well known name, it seems. Public manners.

Mayir has joined the gloomier view of the gallery.

"No, /I/ should apologize that we haven't yet met up, Marquessa," Leonora replies to Lianne. "But although we should speak sometime soon, tonight is about your accomplishment here; there's time enough for other conversations later!" And then Micaela is making her way over, and Leonora turns to watch her cousin's languid approach. "Micaela! Yes, well, I thought I really /must/ try to be here, and I certainly haven't been disappointed so far; the gallery really /does/ look absolutely stunning. And so do a few of the guests, hm?"

Mydas tracks the new arrivals with his gold eyes, nodding to some, notably Signe and Vayne, and then Eleyna and Talen when he notices them, and the latter apparently notices him, too. "Sister, brother-in-law. Just what are you up to /now/?" he asks pleasantly, the hints of a smile curling his lips.

Venturo's mouth quirks upwards at the loft of Lianne's brow, and as Terese offers those words in return, the twist of his lips turns coy indeed. "I'm full of nothing but praise. I have not, however, told the princess the story that these," The brewer's head dips towards the pair of offerings from the Raconteur with the drinks, "that you have here. A situation I'll have to rectify." He allows a few moments more for the pair to speak before he takes a few sweeping steps off towards the gloomier spot in the galley, letting the Marquessa focus on the multitude of other introductions to be made. It's Leonora and Micaela that get a lingering look, with the latter offered a dip of his head in quiet recognition as they continue on.

Derovai lifts his glass towards the crowd for a second, before he passes the bottle of piquant liquor to Pasquale for inspection. "Take a sip and find out," he offers, settling and watching as people file in. "Don't blame me if you hate it. It's called 'Fire' for a reason."

Sparte gives an easy smile to Lianne as he takes his raffle ticket, "Thank you for hosting this, I look forward to experienced it." He moves off, crossing Catriona in the crowd. "Princess, a welcome surprise." Sparte glances over to the hostess a moment then back to Catriona. "I'm not sure what I should expect tonight, but I look forward to finding out."

Cheryl the Assistant Innkeeper, Scourge, a hairless rat-dog arrive, following Mae.

Alaric strolls in accompanying (or 'accompanied by' is possibly the more proper term) Lumen Whisper, pausing by the entrance to take in the gallery before mentioning something to his companion with a quiet remark.

Micaela has joined the well-illuminated perspective.

Signe rose her glass in silent acknowledgement to Devorai at first as she stood before one of the hanging portraits. Studying it's use of colors as an amature critic. She makes a return for the bar as crowds began to fill and swell.

Eleyna tightens her arm around Talen and attempts to guide him toward Lianne... and fails. She gives Mydas a faint smile and says, "Just here admiring the art, making bets, and trying to socialize. What are you up to, brother?"

Khanne walks into the gallery in a dark swirl of silk, glittering like stars in the twilight sky. She spots Lianne, first, gorgeous in white, and approaches her, though waits for an opening so as not to disturb her conversation with Venturo. When she spies a chance, she leans in, giving a small kiss to the woman's cheek, hand touching an arm. Quietly, she murmurs something in her ear before she pulls back with a smile. She turns to Venturo and extends that smile to him. "Master Brewer, a pleasure to see you again." She hears her name then and looks around, spotting Mayir. She smiles and waves to him. "Hello, Magpie's best friend, Mayir."

"Less of the socialising, more of the bets, please," Talen insists to Eleyna, before he tilts his head at Mydas, shrugging almost effortlessly. "Though that's never helped me, clearly I am made to get out of the house despite my wishes, which is honestly a violation of my rights; Husband Rights Act, 997 A.R.. Quote me on that."

Into the gallery wanders a small woman clad in near-black silk. Her hood up, there's only a sliver of a pale fail on display. There's nary a jingle coming from the woman! Once inside, she walks right up to Priorities of a Marquessa, and she stares. The rest of the room might as well not exist.

"As do I," Catriona says to Sparte, eyes taking in the paintings she can see from this vantage, notably the painting of the lovely Marquessa looking through her window. She steps forward and inclines her head to Lianne. "This place is lovely, Marquessa," she tells the woman. "And the art, I can already tell is lovely."

On Alaric's arm, Lumen responds in quiet, melodious tones of her own before with a gracious dip of her head and a gesture outward towards the gallery -- she says, "Shall we?"

"Does he now?" Lianne asks Terese, an impish glimmer in her eyes. "I imagine all this high talk involves a poker game and accepting my loss with grace?" Even having lived through it, she's heard the story a time or two. There's a teasing smile for Venturo before she moves on. "It feels rather nice," she admits quietly to Micaela and Leonora of the accomplishment this gallery represents. To her sort-of-sisters, she promises, "We'll all talk very soon," with a bit of gravity to those words. Her head lifts as she catches the arrivals of the Archduchess and Archduke-Cosort, the Archlector of the Thirteenth and the King himself on the arm of so lovely a Whisper, her posture straightening just a smidge in bracing for introductions. Khanne, blessedly, distracts her, brightening her smile again as she tilts in to whisper to the woman before murmuring thanks to Catriona and asking, "You'll have to tell me which of the works you like best by the end of the evening," of the unfamiliar woman, encouraging exploration.

"Admiring art, less so the other two." Mydas answers. "One of my joys, to admire art, to contemplate it, and meditate upon the artist's skills, and what it invokes within myself and others." Mydas has used the plural for joy, a rare thing by itself, but he also shows genuine enthusiasm. Mind, it's muted, as with every emotion where the golden prince is concerned. "A new gallery promises many new such experiences." And he glances at the nearest painting, though he has not forgotten his sibling and her husband, adding. "And what have you bet?"

Sebastian slips in for the opening, a little bit on the late side, but present none the less. He makes his way in along one wall and finds himself a drink to take in hand as he takes in the people who have come moreso than the art itself. The art, he's seen. With glass in hand, he continues a slow circuit of the room, giving a small nod of his head to those he recognizes should they notice him as he notices them.

Marigold, a cheeky pygmy goat, 2 Novice Keaton Huntsmen arrive, following Amari.

After the marquessa stops a server dressed all in black and whispers to the young woman, the server approaches Derovai at the bar and tells him plainly, "The marquessa says that the guests are /meant/ to be hungry."

The Archduchess rolls her eyes and sighs as it very put upon. In a tone of endless patience, she says with a smile, "Stop whining. Admire the art. I'll tell you the terms of the bet if I win, Ettore." For now, her gazes wanders to the paintings, a frown on her lips.

Sparte has joined the well-illuminated perspective.

As the people gather around Lianne, Leonora slips away from the thickest of the crowds to join the well-lit area near where Mydas and Lethe stand. She murmurs something quietly to Micaela as she does so, then resumes speaking in a more measured tone to the others clustered nearby.



Terese arcs a slender brow for the promise of yet another story held within the room. She gives a soft shake of her head towards Venturo as her hand remains curled within the tuck of his elbow as he escorts her to the opening. "Assuming he can give a straight and honest answer," she muses in return to Lianne before being drawn further into the room in a soft swirl of pale silks that glow against her flesh as others greet the hostess. Her azure gaze turn for a moment, half turning towards Eleyna before shifting to Alaric as they enter in turn. A smile slips across her features along with a dip of her head.

With red hair done in a fish-tail plait comes one (1) Lys de Lire. She's dressed in well made but unremarkable silks this evening. Her hands folded behind her back, a slightly brooding look upon her face as she enters and draws first not toward the Marquessa painting, but that of the man embraced by a god.

"I'll tell you them now," Talen counterproposes to Ettore, with no need for any cost, as he says, "We're betting on what exact emotion will be illicited by the arrival of beauty in this room," he says, gesturing to the paintings, and then shrugging. "Bit odd, really, now I think about it."

Khanne nods to Lianne at the returned whisper, smiling brightly with a sparkle in her eye. "That, precisely, my dear friend." She lingers there by Lianne's side for a bit, smiling to others that come to greet the Marquessa. She waves to Mydas when she spots him. Or Ettore. That guy she knows!

Derovai shrugs at something Pasquale says at the bar, offering a grin at his reaction to the drink. He then looks back towards the woman who approaches, remarking quietly to her. And again, the server is sent making her way through the crowd, looking more than little taken aback at having to circumnavigate amidst archduchesses and kings. Meanwhile, Derovai's chatting with Signe and Pasquale.

Waldemai snags a glass of something brown from a passing tray and goes over to look at the set of four.

That guy Khanne knows smiles and inclines his head towards her in greeting! Clearly she was correct in her knowledge of the man.

Mae stares at the Marquessa - the one in the painting - for a long moment, then she finally draws away. She keeps her hood up, and does her best to skirt past any possible attention being paid to her. Eventually she ends up spotting Mayir, and stepping right up next to the man.

Mae has joined the gloomier view of the gallery.

Catriona smiles again at Lianne. "Of course," she murmurs, before slipping off into the crowd. She doesn't immediately stop anywhere, but circles the gallery slowly, pausing before each painting to give it a good long look. As she weaves through the pillars she slows by Lys and the painting she's studying, and nods politely to her.

Belladonna arrives, a little late, but here in support of her cousin and to see the artwork she's chosen for the gallery. Arriving on her own, she moves about the room to pause between the paintings, looking at each one in turn. She finds herself circling around near Mydas, Eleyna, and Talen at one point. Dipping into a curtsey, she murmurs a greeting to the trio, rising up with grace and looking back to the painting. "Perhaps I should have donated some of the excess pieces I have hanging in the study. They certainly would have fit the apparent theme..." The comment comes idly as she continues to look at the painting.

Pasquale attempts the drink known as Setarco Fire. Which apparently earns the name as, it makes him wince after a sip. He keeps the glass, though. He's committed now. Still, it's put a little aside and that one is not worked more on immediately. His eyes follow Lianne in the crowd, and he raises a hand to give her a small wave, but he's occupied mingling with Derovai and Signe.

Vayne pauses his meanderings before the four pieces hung together: betrayal, hunger, stasis, and despair. And here he finds himself rooted, staring openly at the paintings as though no other pieces exist for the moment. When a passing server clears his throat, the Archlector nearly jumps, taking a glass of red wine with a nod of thanks. He takes a sip as whatever reverie he was lost in is broken, and he moves on the next piece.

Lethe speaks to those nearby as she looks at one of the paintings, but she does notice Sebastian as he walks by and she looks to him with a friendly smile.

Sebastian inclines his head to Lethe when she smiles in his direction and drifts close enough to say, "It has been some time. How are you doing this evening?" He lifts his glass in greeting.

"There's certainly enough space for more, with time. Though perhaps Lianne intends to cycle through various themes rather than a fixed one. We'll see, won't we? More space will be made as prizes are awarded, I expect." Mydas remarks to Belladonna's comment, nodding to the Duchess in greeting.

Lys lifts her gaze from the painting when she senses someone within her sphere of influence. Emerald gaze shifts to the princess, and she smiles, "Hello!" It's bright and cheery. Her hand lifts and she wiggles her fingers at Catriona.

Amari slips in on her own, pausing inside and a step out of the way to take in the sights. When a server goes by and offers her a drink, she finds herself with a glass of Thraxian rum. There's a subtle sniff before she tries a sip to determine what it is, and after, she seems satisfied that it's not too lethal. Rum in hand, she ventures bravely forth into the crowd to admire art and hopefully run into someone she knows since she's apparently not brought a gang of Keatons with her.

Lethe continues to smile as she speaks to Sebastian. "It really has been. I'm enjoying the evening. I really like the art I've seen so far. Are you one of the artists?"

Silent nods of acknowledgement are offered to the faces familiar to Signe while at the bar. Mydas, Khanne, Belladona, as figures pass and mingle where she's able to notice their presence if only for brief moments. A glass raises here and there, lips stretched into a naturally warm smile.

From one corner of the room - where the lights are gloomier - Mae's voice rises above what would be appropriate conversational volume for where she's standing. "...easily the second most foul thing in this room..." That as her scowl turns back to the colorful painting of the Marquessa. Whatever else is said, it's said more quietly.

Eleyna pauses in whatever murmured conversation is being exchange between herself, Talen, and Mydas to tip her chin to Belladonna and say with a polite smile, "Duchess Pravus. It's a pleasure to see you. The pieces being shown are... exquisite. That one, especially." Eleyna gestures toward the Priorities of a Marquessa painting.

Talen extends his gauntlet, a polite hello, to Terese as she looks towards them. As her attention moves to the Grayson royalty, his expression is given in full for his brother-in-law, amused, "So, that's the bet, and I will win I think." At the arrival of Belladonna, Talen's dark grey eyes alight upon the Duchess Pravus, his nod given in recognition. "My lady, how do you do. Is not all the art Marquessa Malespero's? I didn't know donating was an option," he expresses, looking closer to a hanging painting, as if to work out the signature on it. When Vayne jumps, the in-built reflexes in the former Sword are triggered, snapping stormy eyes that way. Seeing only the Archlector, he twists a smile, and says, "Do not jump at shadows, Blessed Vayne," he insists, "they only provide good wine. Did you not manage to make it to the Shadow Carnival last night? We would have welcomed you there."

Lys's smile draws one from Cat as well, and the Princess returns her wave. "What do you think of the work?" she asks, eyeing the painting the pair of them are standing before. "I'm afraid I don't we've not met. I am Princess Catriona Thrax. And you?"

Lianne laughs, all right and delighted, at whatever the poor server sent on message relay duty says to her. She sets her gaze on Derovai across the room and, unladylike though it might be, calls a rather cheerful, "Never!" across the room. Spying Pasquale at the bar with Derovai, she offers him a wide smile, her head dipped in acknowledgement of that greeting. In an aside to Khanne, she notes, "Poor thing's come to my gallery and proposed I ought to distinguish between metaphor and reality, as if they don't bleed right into one another." Catching where the Archduchess' attention has landed, she can't help but grin, expression sharpening. With that, she steps forward, moving toward Eleyna, Talen, Ettore and Belladonna, though it is the Archduchess whom she addresses, wondering with keen curiosity, "What is it about that one in particular that you like so well?"

Vayne offers a smile to Talen's gentle chiding, replying, "I wasn't expecting to hear someone so close. I... rather forgot I wasn't alone." He motions to the painting with the glass in his hand, adding, "They're exceptional - they all are - but those ones gave me pause." Talen's questions get a shake of his head and Vayne replies, "Unfortunately, I was otherwise occupied. It's a sort of hazard of the tabard - I don't always get to go to events I should like to go and enjoy. Was it good? I haven't heard any reports of it."

Derovai raises his brows at Lianne's response near the bar, mouthing, 'We'll see' to her. He says nothing further to her, though, nor does that flummoxed server get beckoned over again. At least not yet, anyway.

Derovai gets Reserved Cask of Raconteur's Beautiful Endings from a wooden box with a carving of open eyes.

Derovai gets Reserved Cask of Raconteur's Dreadful Discoveries from a wooden box with a carving of closed eyes.

"Other than the technique, which is exceptionally well-done, it's the expression in her eyes," Eleyna responds to Lianne's question as she gazes at the painting of which she speaks. "Almost as if you can read what she's thinking. If only people on this side of the canvas were so easy to read, hm? That sort of openness is rare, especially in a Lycene beauty. Too often, people will hide ill-intent behind glinting eyes and friendly smiles. Even when it is not in their best interests to do so." She laughs slightly and glances again at Lianne. "Are these pieces for sale?"

"Reports are normally resigned for situations where there's an arrest, or an incident. I quite like to think at the carnival there was enough enjoyment of the evening, and sinning to test one's strength of character, that nothing made it into the books on record. Essentially, no-one got caught for their indulgences," Talen tells Vayne, a crooked half-smile daring to show, before he looks back to the paintings. "That one," he says, pointing at betrayal, "I'd like to buy that one. Maybe give it as a gift to someone. If it's even for sale. Really, it should probably be held on display for longer than we can snap them up, so more can wonder at them." As his wife asks the same question, he nods, resolutely. Thinking alike, it seems.

Sebastian inclines his head to Lethe and nods, "Yes, there's a painting of mine here." He nods in the direction of The Lady and the Spiders, one of the paintings that sits somewhere betweent he more prominently placed groupings. "Have you enjoyed the display so far? It's an impressive collection thus far."

Lys shifts so she's half facing the princess and half facing the painting. "Lys-" she says it 'lies' -"de Lire." A little bow is given, her hands straightening out her silks when she rises. "A pleasure to meet you, your highness. And this painting is quite striking... it makes me a little sad though. Want to see if we can find a happier one?" Her green eyes sparkle with mischief.

Khanne gets Reserved Cask of Raconteur's Beautiful Endings from a wooden box with a carving of open eyes.

Mydas, meanwhile, has been quiet for some time. Still within hearing of conversation, but his focus is certainly upon the paintings.



Even as people continue to filter in, Terese pauses momentarily and lets her gaze slide towards those as introductions are made and quiet words exchanged. She slips from the dark little spot to sweep back out into the room in a sweep of almondine silks, catching Talen's dip of head and returning it was a warm smile. It is towards Elenya, however, that the woman moves and her smile brightens even as the woman speaks with Lianne. Both hands lift to graps the womans if she will as she chimes softly, "Aunt Elenya, it seems to have been forever and a day since I last saw you. Forgive me for not stopping by sooner though I haven't been in the city long in between my travels."

Guiding Alaric along, Lumen tilts her head far to the right to dreamily consider darkly-named set of four. She can be heard murmuring something complimentary about being provocative.

Khanne gets Reserved Cask of Raconteur's Dreadful Discoveries from a wooden box with a carving of closed eyes.

Mayir has left the gloomier view of the gallery.

Vayne returns his gaze to betrayal and nods, quiet as he listens to the rest of what Talen says. "I'm not sure what the plan is," he admits, "but it's easy to imagine a small fortune being paid for the entire collection." Giving the man a glance, he asks, "What about it causes you to wonder?"

Lethe looks toward the painting Sebastian nods to. "Ooh it has spiders, and it's kind of um frightening. I like it. As a Harlequin I've developed a fondness for spiders." She then nods. "I have. Sometimes I come to places like these, and while the art is nice it doesn't make me feel things like some of the art I've seen tonight."

Catriona inclines her head to acknowledge Lys's bow and laughs softly. "It is a little sad. But not completely bleak. "I appreciate that about it. It's a pleasure, Lady Lys, and I'm sure there will be something less sad in this collection." She makes to wander on through the pillars, glancing aside at Lys as she does. "What sort of art strikes your fancy?"

In the gloomier part of the galley, Venturo breaks from the group at the same time Terese moves off, each headed in their own direction. For the brewer, it's to the drinks he goes. He doesn't even need a moment to consider, picking up one each of a mug of Dreadful Discoveries and Beautiful Endings. He sweeps by Talen and Vayne, though he pauses for a few long moments to look at the paintings that they discuss. "It's hunger, for me. That's the display of someone who will not let anything get in the way of what she wishes." A playful wink is cast towards the pair, one of the mugs lifted up in a salute, before he continues on back towards the spot he came from.

"I like how -graphic- it is, you know?" Talen says to Vayne, stepping forward slightly, enough so he's not unlinked from his wife for too long before he steps back. In that period, however, he points at the open belly and ribs of the woman in the vision instilled upon the canvas. "What makes you think it's filled with grain and fruit? Like someone's fed them and given them so much, and then..." he waves his hand, "Oh I don't know, I'm just bullshitting, I don't know anything about art. That's her grace's game. I just punch shit, until it stops breathing."

Rather than leaving herself standing in everyone's path and gawking at the artwork from afar, Amari moves. She gravitates to the bar closeby, where she might plan her route and see if she can't spy anyone she might know. Owners of a few familiar faces are smiled at and their positions surely noted, but she stays put, mostly to regard Derovai curiously and offer a greeting, "Hello."

Lianne's smile warms as she listens to Eleyna's thoughts on the Priorities of a Marquessa, this marquessa in particular--so strikingly similar to the one on the canvas, such vibrant green eyes, dressed all in white silk tonight--rather delighted with that interpretation. Her attention is stolen briefly by Talen's interest in Betrayal, brows arched with amusement as Vayne asks after his wonder. It is the Archduchess she addresses as she explains, "They are not for sale. Not tonight. I might seek sponsors in the future or even urge them into new homes should I need to make room in the future." She nods toward Suffering to Live and notes, "That one, though, is on loan and won't ever be mine to sell."

Elizabetta, a disapproving lady-in-waiting, Valor, a small brown and white corgi puppy, Lily, an aloof lady-in-waiting arrive, following Sabella.

Amari has joined the bar by the entrance.

Alaric's casual contemplation of the paintings evidently leaves him with quite a lot to say quietly to Lumen.

Vayne laughs and says to Talen, "I think the betrayal is this: she's providing him everything at great cost, but instead, he's walked away from her and is reaching for the unreachable. He's betraying her with his greed." Vayne adds, "But that is the wonder of art - it's open to interpretation." Venturo's insights get a nod from the Archlector, and he says, "Reminds me of what I've heard about the would-be pirate king... but I'm not an expert on him."

Lys strides along with Catriona, keeping pace with the princess easily even their comparative heights. The redhead lifts a hand to toy with the ribbon that holds her braid in place. "Mmmn. Any with lots of fighting! Paintings of warriors fighting dragons and demons and the like! Warriors of light triumphing over the darkness." A grin is flashed at Catriona, "What about you, your highness?"

Derovai glances up as Amari says hello, stopping his conversation at the barfor a moment. "Sit. Drink. I won't offer you the Setarco Fire; Lord -- is it Lord? You haven't made it quite clear enough -- Malespero doesn't seem to much like that,anyway. What would you rather?" Surely, she doesn't want the Fire, right? Or so seems to be Derovai's implication.

Signe has left the bar by the entrance.

Atila leaves, following Signe.

"If you need sponsors, please don't hesitate to reach out. I am delighted to support the arts, especially the continuance of such a provocative collection. You have an eye for art that says something," Eleyna nods her approval and opens her mouth to speak again, but then her hands are grasped and she shifts those icy blue eyes to whoever would dare... and sees Terese. The Archduchess' expression warms instantly and she leans in to brush her lips against her niece's cheek in the typical Lycene kiss of affection. "Terese! I didn't know you were in Arx. What a wonderful surprise."

"I do enjoy those," Cat says thoughtfully as she and Lys wander through through the gallery. But she has to think a while before she continues. "Art has to mean stand for something. I see art as best when it memorialises something." She smiles aside at her new companion. "You should see some of the art in the Thrax estate."

"I don't know about pirate-kings," The brewer's quip is offered back to the Arch Lector as he heads towards the gloomier spot, "But it reminds me," Venturo's head tips to look back over his shoulder at Vayne, a smile full of mischief etched upon the corners of his mouth, "of a woman I made quite angry once. A marvelous story." Even as he settles in, his focus sweeps about to continually study the pieces put on display.

"Indeed, interpretation," Talen allows for Vayne, watching as Venturo meanders away again, only after offering his thoughts. "I'm always hungry, and I didn't even think that, but I suppose you could be right," he muses. Then with that, he turns, and he resumes his space alongside the Archduchess. "Blessed Vayne, always interesting," is given in the departure, out of respect. Lianne's claims of a lack of sale only make him look to Eleyna, asking, "Perhaps you can wait for the right day, then." For Terese though, an unfamiliar connection to Eleyna it seems, he considers the woman for a time in silence.

Leonora can't help but overhear Lys' comment about her preferred type of art, and glances over at her own conversational companions with a somewhat bemused look and a soft -- but audible -- noise of skepticism. It seems the Malespero noblewoman does not share the same tastes, for whatever reason.

Sabella comes in on the arm of one Niklas Kennex, saying excitrdly to him, "I'm not sure that it will be here, but if it's anywhere it would be at this gallery! And even if it isn't, we ought to be able to talk to people who might know--" she gives a bright smile to those she knows, particularly at the bar near the entrance, "Master Voss, thank you for leaving Lord Niklas' hands unscathed in his exam! Lord Pasquale, we find ourseves at another bar it seems! Lady Amari, it is good to see you again!" she greets each cheerfully.

Sabella has joined the bar by the entrance.

Niklas has joined the bar by the entrance.

"Should it always have a meaning? Can't a painting be pretty for the sake of pretty?" She wanders with Catriona as they go and nods her head toward the painting titled hunger. "What about that one? What do you think this painting means?" She shivers a little bit, "It gives me the willies." Her eyes do flicker when she hears that sound of skepticism, her copper eyebrows flicking downward and her lips curling up slightly in a challenging smirk. Her emerald gaze seeks out the source of the noise. Hhhmmmm....

Derovai offers a short smile at Sabella's approach. He glances down at Niklas' hands, considering them closely. "I can arrange for a retest," he offers dryly. "I rather thought his combat could use work. What say you, Lord Kennex?" And again, that same black-clad servant is beckoned over, said something to quietly, and sent Lianne's way.

Waldemai has looked over all the pieces. He puts the glass down and slips out quietly.

Vayne inclines his head in response to Talen. "Highness," comes the intoned reply, "I look forward to our next conversation." And then he moves on to another piece, stopping in front of the prioties of a marquessa. This one brings an amused smile to his lips as he contemplates.

Lianne offers a genuine, heartfelt, "Thank you," to Eleyna for her compliment on the collection. Likewise, she might have more to say on the matter as well, but she's not one to stand in the way of such happy reunions. She flashes a smile to Talen, a glint in her eye at his talk of timing, but her attention is momentarily stolen by another server stopping by to relay some quiet message. Which doesn't get much of an obvious response from her. Instead, she's moving toward the Archlector with every intention of falling in beside Vayne. "I'm glad you were able to make it." With a tip of her head toward stasis, she asks, "What are your thoughts on that one?" This seems directed not only toward Vayne, but to Talen as well, and whoever else might be near enough to consider it.

Romina, a silent Mirrorguard agent, 2 House Velenosa Guards arrive, following Niccolo.

"The best art makes you feel something," Sebastian says to Lethe. "There are pieces in this collection that I've found that are particularly poignant." There is a glance somewhat in the direction of the cluster of four, though which painting(s) among them that he seems to be focusing on his hard to tell, before his attention shifts back to Lethe. "It was good to see you," he tells her before slipping away again. "Enjoy the evening."

"I think I've said the only thing I'm capable of saying on art and now I'm out of ammunition," Talen confides to Lianne, "but I'll have a go." He queues up a significant amount of silence before he says, "Cold," and then nods once. Yep, that's his opinion, so very extensive.

Leonora continues to speak quietly in her well-lit corner with Mydas, Lethe, Sparte, and Micaela. But she meets Lys' smirk with raised eyebrows, and a hint of her own smirk in return.

3 Thrax Guards arrives, following Caith.



Only family would dare it seems and Terese's smile blooms upon her features as her fingers close momentarily upon the Archduchess' own as she leans in to brush a kiss against the woman's other cheek. "I only arrived just a couple months past though was swept off to war not long after I arrived before setting out on a journey into the Greenmarch and Rivenshari lands at the bequest of Edain. I thought to approach you at the Lycene open court but felt the honors for the Order of the White Lily were of far more import. It was heartening.. and bittersweet to see." As Talen considers her she draws her hands back and sweeps a soft dip in a rustle of skirts. "Princess Terese Valardin," she inclines to the Arch Duke.

Catriona studies the painting in question with a slow shake of her head. "The food goes ignored while she fights and destroys?" she suggests. "From that angle, at least, rather a peace-loving message. But who knows what was originally meant." She follows Lys's gaze and tilts her head curiously. Perhaps she hasn't heard and before she can say or do anything, her unobtrusive lady assistant weaves through the crowd to whisper in her ear. Cat sighs. "I'm sorry, Lady Lys. It seems I won't be able to stay as long as I thought. But perhaps you will join me for more discussion sometime in the future?"

3 Armed Confessors, Confessor Dunn, 1 Grayson Guardsmen, Confessor Wick, Confessor John arrive, following Gareth.

From the gloomier side, Venturo's head tips to catch sight of Sabella and Niklas, a warm smile flashed to the pair. A hand lifts, fingers giving a small waggle of greeting, before he turns back to the quiet conversation in his part of the gallery.

Lethe nods to Sebastian. "It was good to see you." She smiles and turns her focus back on the conversation nearby.

Lys pouts toward Catriona when she announces she must go and she says, "Of course, after all, you have to invite me for tea so I can see the paintings in the Thrax Estate." She smiles toward the other woman, but ends up making her way through the crowd again.

Vayne nods with a smile to Lianne, saying, "I had no intention of missing an event like this, Marquessa. And you've done a masterful job at curating this collection, and deserve a great deal of credit." Her question about stasis, and Talen's reply, get a thoughtful nod from Vayne as he regards the painting again. "She could use an eternal fire," he adds to Talen's comment. "It's an interesting piece. I think it does an excellent job of describing the unknowable effects of nothing ever changing, while also highlighting the appeal of it - nothing wearing out, beauty never fading. A complicated piece."

Eleyna steps back and nods to Talen, "My niece. Through the Rubinos. Her father was Lodovico's brother. Terese, this is Talen." Introductions done, she launches into another train of conversation, "Glad to see you were one of the ones that made it back from the war. I heard the the losses in Stormwall were devastating." There is a certain strain to the Archduchess' voice, but she presses on, attempting to swallow back her own grief and enjoy the evening. "How do you like the paintings? Marquessa Lianna curated the collection herself, I believe."

Better later than never -- Caith is making a habit of being fashionably late for events. Slipping in, she smooooothly angles her way over toward wherever the wine is at. It's like there is a link between her and booze, an invisible connection that pulls her to it. Soon, there is a glass of wine in her hand and after a couple of sips? She is ready to float through the crowd and says her hellos and how-do-you-dos.

Niklas looks around at the various paintings, giving what he can see from the bar a cursory glance, then shakes his head. "I don't see it. Which makes sense, if the archscholar saw it earlier." He looks back to Derovai and gives the man a lazy smile. "If you would like to have another go, Master Voss, I can entertain you, but I get to choose the venue and the weapons. So find me when you have a horse, a set of armor and a lance."

Lianne's laughter for Talen's entirely concises summation of stasis is easy, airy. She nods her acceptance of that assessment. Her brows arch with amusement at Vayne's reference to the eternal flame. The deeper description earns the archlector a thoughtful look, a curious cant of her head. "Have you ever been caught like that, caught in a prolonged moment, stuck, moving neither forward nor back?" Curious as she is to hear his answer, she turns a lookc back toward Eleyna and Terese to confirm of her curation, "I have. Accidentally, at first, my tower filled with works the rest of Arx really needed to see. And so the dream began. And so the work began."

Niccolo Velenosa makes his way into the gallery, pausing for a moment near the entrance - one can respect any establishment that includes a bar right by the door. Never one to pass up a fine Northern whiskey, he procures a glass before beginning a slow lap around the main space, pausing first near the painting of the familiar Lycene Marquessa and offering a polite nod here and there to any familiar faces.

"Well met," Talen extends to Terese. "My wife's family seems to extend across the Compact. We've not met, I'm sure, but now we have. You will have to come to the next open dinner for House Velenosa, I am sure you can do much catching up with your aunt." Catching some of Lianne's words, he then points to a few of the more grisly paintings, and adds succintly, "And the Nightmare." It isn't until he sees Niccolo enter that he raises a hand to his father, giving him a small nod. "Come to browse like the rest of us, have you?"

Sparte perks up, glancing across at the mention of a horse. He zeros in on Niklas and Derovai, cupping one hand to lightly call over towards them. "Or hire a champion." Sparte gives a brief grin before returning to his focus on the conversation with Leonora, Micaela, Lethe, and Mydas.

3 Armed Confessors, Confessor Dunn, 1 Grayson Guardsmen, Confessor Wick, Confessor John leave, following Gareth.

Lianne dips her head low in concession to Talen's addendum, her smile all soft and pleased again.

Derovai laughs at something said at the bar, before responding audibly to Niklas, "You're on." He raises his glass as he says that, as if saluting something, and then looks over towards Sparte, pulling a face at the younger man. "Not my style. But he can, if he wants." And then he says something more quietly to the bar, looking sidelong towards Amari.

Lys rotates through the paintings slowly, before making her way to the door.

Sebastian gets Reserved Cask of Raconteur's Dreadful Discoveries from a wooden box with a carving of closed eyes.

Mae has left the gloomier view of the gallery.

Sabella offers a wave to Venturo, then points at Niccolo and says, "Ah, there is the master of the mirror maze now, to whom I truly owe my life! Or at least, most of last night's evening. Good evening, Prince Niccolo!"

Mae pulls away from the corner of the gallery she was at and moves into the light, seemingly fixing to mingle...

Mae has joined the well-illuminated perspective.

Vayne waits until Lianne's attention is back on him before replying, "I can recall a few sermons I heard when I was a boy that made it appear I was stuck in the middle of a frozen moment," chuckling warmly, "but other than that, I would say my life has mostly been movement and change. Great or small, enjoyable or not." Taking a sip of his wine, he says, "Do you keep the artists' identity confidential, Marquessa?"

Niccolo continues his slow, museum-quality meander around the room, stopping nearby the magister. He frowns a bit thoughtfully at that one, but then is stirred from his thoughts by the sound of a familiar voice. Turning in the direction of Talen, he first raises a hand in greeting, and then strides across the space toward him. "I wouldn't miss it." A smile is given to Lianne to emphasize that point, before he quirks a brow at Talen: "Are you an art collector now?"

And to Sabella, another wave in greeting. "Good evening, Princess." Niccolo's smile is polite before he turns back to Talen.

Pasquale has left the bar by the entrance.

Finding a momentary lull in the conversation filling the gallery, Lianne lifts her voice to address the crowd. "A few reminders. While none of the pieces on display tonight are for sale, the artists are raffling off commissions. They are all remarkably talented and deserve our patronage. Guests are welcome to take home Master Venturo Thayne's ales crafted specifically for tonight's event, and I do encourage you to ask for the story behind those brews. There is seldom art without story, after all. Lastly, this is the /opening/ of the gallery, which means the doors will remain open from tonight forward. You and all the rest of Arvum are welcome to return and enjoy the collections--which I do mean to grow--any time you'd like. Thank you all so much for coming." She pauses a beat and notes, "We'll draw the raffle winners soon. Please purchase tickets now if you've interest. You can't get works from these artists at these prices."

"Duchess Belladonna Pravus, there seems to be an issue at your household." Mydas remarks, looking upon a piece of paper his assistant just handed him. "Something about... Your son's favourite toy being missing?" Clearly Mydas seems rather put off by the message received. "Please kindly tell your husband that I will not be availible to help him search for it before you come back, and wish you luck in dealing with the apparently cataclysmic situation that awaits you home." he says dryly.



"A pleasure and apologies for intruding upon your conversations," Terese offers to Talen with a dip of her head that sets her upswept dark hair quivering. The mention of Stormwall directly brings a quiet tension into Terese's form along with the strain of Eleyna's voice. "One of so very little," she murmurs softly, "I am not sure if it is a boon or a curse but thank you for your words." She inhales slowly and presses her hands to the front boned lining of her gown as her gaze shifts towards Talen, "That I shall, I appreciate the invitation and will be sure to attend though I do not mean to keep either of you." Her attention slips towards Lianne as the woman's voice lifts.

"Pfft. A champion would do a good job of it." Niklas waves a hand dismissively and looks back at Derovai. "You'll need to get a horse for me as well. And the rest of the stuff. Bring some lunch, as well. Wrangling two horses will probably be exhausting work." Niklas waves down a bartender and orders himself a glass of brandy and a glass of whatever Derovai is drinking for the other man.

Pasquale excuses himself from the bar, taking his glass with him. A small dip of his chin, to Amari. "If you like, my lady. I'm not a particularly good guide to art, though. I tend to think more in what /is/, than in metaphor and imagery. Still, many of these are striking." He mixes with the crowd, then, making a stab at proper mingling. "Are you taking part in the raffle, Lady Amari? I'll buy at least a ticket, I think."

Belladonna arches a brow at Mydas and chuckles softly, "You must be mistaken. My son is long since in bed, Your Highness."

Terese gets Reserved Cask of Raconteur's Beautiful Endings from a wooden box with a carving of open eyes.

"Collectively, yes, we collect," Talen says with a turn of phrase and a gesture of the hand, to Eleyna and himself, before he admits, "but honestly I think this depth of thought is beyond me. I just like looking at pretty colours, normally," he embellishes. "Not for sale, unfortunately. Though we will be participating in the raffle, of course. Far too flamboyantly, probably."

Derovai continues talking at the bar, saying nothing about the joust Niklas appears to be arranging. As Lianne speaks, though, he quites, andthen looks towards the raffle accoutrements, as if considerin. He doesn't move to donate anything, though, staying right where he is for the moment.

With a lift of his drink to Khanne, Venturo slips away from the gloomier side. His pace is slow and lazy, taking him over towards the bar. Now and then? It is a momentary pause as a painting catches his attention, and once more it is the one of hunger that keeps his focus for seconds longer before he continues on.

Venturo has left the gloomier view of the gallery.

Venturo has joined the bar by the entrance.

Terese has left the gloomier view of the gallery.

Talen gets Reserved Cask of Raconteur's Dreadful Discoveries from a wooden box with a carving of closed eyes.

Niccolo gets Reserved Cask of Raconteur's Dreadful Discoveries from a wooden box with a carving of closed eyes.

Sebastian makes his way slowly around the room, and stops by Lianne for just a moment to lightly touch her elbow and congratulate her on the opening, before he slips away again so as not to interrupt her conversations.

Talen does have an attendant go and fetch one of the casks, arranging for it to be sent home, and to acquire a taste of it if it's on offer at the opening. Thirsty work, this standing around.

Taking a tour about the room, Caith eventually stops before the paintings of betrayal, despair, hunger and stasis. She considers the four pieces with a faintly furrowed brow, with pursed lips. Letting her head tip slightly to one side, her gaze takes in each work of art for a stretch of time before moving on to the next. Sips of wine are taken -- she's wrapped one of her arms around her middle and props her other against it, her glass never too far from her lips.



Sip. Ponder. Sip. Ponder. Siiiiip. Pooooonder.

Terese has joined the bar by the entrance.

It's on his way that Venturo sweeps by Terese, a gentle prod out of his arm offered to catch her hand. In his head dips, a few whispered words as they both approach the bar.

"As you say, Duchess. Your familial affairs are none of my concern." Mydas shrugs, with rather obvious disinterest as he returns his attention to the art.

"Collective collecting seems effective. So long as the taste is governed by your wife. But that reminds me to purchase some more tickets courtesy of the Velenosa family." Niccolo grins lightly toward Eleyna. His gaze shifts to Terese, who appears to be standing nearby, "I do not believe we have met. Niccolo Velenosa."

Lianne offers a bright smile to Niccolo in the wake of all that talking, but then, just a heartbeat thereafter, her attention is returned in full--or as full as she can manage while playing hostess--to the patient archlector of whom she'd asked a question. There might be a touch of apology in her smile. His talk of sermons which make time stand still earns a brief laugh, though the rest has her tilting in a little closer to Vayne to murmur something softly. When she straightens, she tells him, "These four are my Fortunato Grayhope. A collection of eleven eventually. A collaboration. A conversation of sorts. Only that one--" She nods toward betrayal got my direct feedback during the process, though."

"You're probably right, but I'll choose to be offended anyway," Talen tells Niccolo, lifting his chin, turning aside just enough for mild dramatics. "I got one of those casks, but there's another kind. We could always open one up at home sometime, and compare notes on the taste. Or get wildly drunk and just pass out talking gibberish."

Amari dips her head to those remaining at the bar, and falls in alongside Pasquale to see the artworks. She brings her glass too, carefully keeping it close so that it won't be bumped or should it be, she'll safely spill it on herself. Much less embarrassing that way. "Oh, I may." She answers, and there's a smile for Pasquale, "They are striking. It makes me wish I'd studied art. I might have some amazing insights for you, other than, the colors are very nice and the painting well painted."

Amari has left the bar by the entrance.

Talen hears Amari and corrects, "The colours are very -colourful- and the painting very well painted. You could've had more points for that." The Archduke Consort is eavesdropping, yes.

Pasquale hands off a payment to some convenient attendant. "I'm still amassing my fortune," said very wry to Amari. "...so I'll not put in much tonight, but I'd rather like a chance at a Fortunato Grayhope painting. The man's quite a talent. And a fine one to talk with on matters of change of reassembly. I had the honor of meeting him, if briefly, when I was last at the Shrine of Lagoma." He turns, near 'The moment before,' to better examine the painting. The images, of the fallen knight and pyres and all of it, makes his expression somber. But it holds his attention a long moment. "I attempted to study painting when I was a boy, but had no talent for it. It takes a certain reach of imagination to create things like this, I think."

Vayne ahs at the explanation, saying, "I thought I saw his hand in them, but I'm still too much a novice to appreciate the difference in brushstrokes between artists." Looking to the four painting, Vayne adds, "They are striking, and I can see the conversation that's being had. At least, I know the one that plays in my head. If there's an opportunity to join yours, I would welcome it." He glances around and then adds, "But I would not want to monopolise you, Marquessa. Another time?"

It takes a moment in the midst of it all for Terese to catch Elenya's question before Venturo draws along her side towards the bar. "It is quite a breath taking collection, unsettling as some of the art is." Her attention turns as introductions are made all around. One from Niccolo, "We have not, Terese Valardin," she offers to him even as she side steps towards the bar at the front where others are gathered for drinks and conversation. "Going to stop for a drink briefly before perusing the rest of the pieces on display."

Khanne is overheard praising Mae for: She is a very talented artist.

Khanne is overheard praising Lianne for: For making a dream come into fruition.

Jordan slips in quietly into the gallery, watching the artwork with a bit of a frown. Maybe he's not sure what to think about it, but he doesn't say anything, just looks. Watches. Studies each piece.

"I think I'd rather enjoy spending an afternoon with the both of you," Lianne says to Vayne of Fortunato. When he looks around, so does she, turning once more to face the crowd in full and consider everyone, all the conversations in play. Her verdant curiosity alights on the King and the Whisper, a little nod and a quiet, "Mm," of conversation offered to the Archlector as she considers Alaric and Lumen. "I wonder if I might be able to coax his majesty into contributing." With that, she starts in their direction.

Strangely enough, Alaric is already on the way to step up with Lumen to greet Lianne now that she seems much less swarmed than the in the beginning in the wake of her latest hostessy announcement. "Marquessa Lianne, congratulations on the successful opening of this gallery. Might I say it's an eclectic and thought-provoking collection you've assembled here tonight," he declares regally before presenting Lumen with a smile. "Might I introduce Mistress Lumen of the Whisper House? Lumen, Marquessa Lianne of House Malespero."

Vayne moves along, himself, stopping before Magister of the Mirror. No surprise, the Archlector of Tehom is super keen on looking at this one. And look he does. Vayne finishes his wine while staring at it, frowning occasionally in contemplation.

Niccolo reaches across to pat Talen on the shoulder. "What have I told you about being so sensitive." Lowering his hand to follow Talen's gaze toward the casks, he nods once. "I like to think I have the palate for it, but my assumption would be the gibberish." He takes a drink from the whiskey he has in hand, as though to prove a point, pursing his lips. "Notes of caramel." He offers Terese a brief smile as she wanders off. Beside Talen, his focus moves back to the room, and some of the paintings. He points his glass toward the Lady and the Spiders. "Not sure about that one."

Lumen offers Lianne a little vertical dip of respect. "I've heard many good things," she offers to the Marquessa in a cool, melodious tone of voice. Nose crinkling up cutely with a smile that touches her eyes but not so much her mouth, Lumen offers, "A little disturbing, but in an entirely fun way. What is art if not to make us feel."

Amari turns towards the voice making a correction, and rather than look cross she just smiles and bows her head a moment as she recognizes Talen, "Yes, your Grace. Very colorful and very well painted, both. Have you made a study of art?" Pasquale isn't judged for not having yet massed a fortune to throw around, she merely nods and listens to him talk, joining him in a long look at 'The moment before'. "It does take that, once the techniques are mastered. I've been trying to learn, but I don't seem to be a natural at it in the least. Is this by Fortunato? It's very solemn."

"Don't think about it," Talen says to Niccolo as he spies the Spiders painting, lips in a line, before he looks towards the face of his father. "This is the wrong venue to propose buying and burning art, isn't it? I was going to sugges that first, to appease you. I think Holy Jayus himself would smite you upon the spot, so just-- yeah, maybe no fire." Talen then turns his eyes toward Amari and lies, completely in contrast to what he said earlier, "I'm an expert, in fact," before he even summons an breath to exhaust out of his nose, amusement clear.

Sabella has left the bar by the entrance.

Lianne's smile for Alaric and Lumen is nothing shy of radiant. She bows her head low as she stills before them. "Thank you. I am entirely delighted that you've enjoyed it, your majesty." Green-eyed attention turning to Lumen, she says, "And I've heard many good things about you as well, Mistress Lumen. It is a genuine pleasure to finally make your acquaintance." Her smile brightens as 'disturbing' is turned toward the collection. "Precisely. It's meant to provoke, to evoke emotion and inspire conversation." Looking between them both with dark brows arched high, she wonders, "Might I ask which piece moved you most?"



One of the staff, this one in all white, upon catching Armari's question, tells him that, "Yes, this piece is a Fortunato Grayhope," of despair, the moment before.

Having been involved in conversation with her maid, Sybilla, to arrange the purchase of raffle tickets, Eleyna inattentiveness comes to an end as she finally dismisses the woman to attend to her tasks so that the Archduchess can rejoin the conversation. She catches only the tail end of whatever Talen, Amari, and Niccolo are discussing, keeping quiet for the moment as she simply listens to the buzz of conversation and observes the art.

"I can, and I am." Niccolo points out to Talen, apparently about something they were discussing quietly. Their more audible conversation, however, causes him only to grin: "No fire." He seems to be taking it lightly, although if anyone watches him closely, he isn't looking toward said painting. To Amari, he agrees: "A devoted apprentice of the finest artists in the Compact."

"I'm afraid I couldn't say until I've made my way all around the gallery," Alaric admits. "Ever since I've taken up painting it's been hard to take in the art without getting lost in the analysis of how I think the artist did it; brush strokes and techniques, color mixings. It's made me a dreadfully slow peruser of galleries, I have to confess." 10/10 politician answering without an answer right there.

Fajra, if she's lurking anywhere near Talen and Niccolo, might note dryly, "Mae talks about burning her art all the time," as if this is as good a venue as any for discussing such things.

Pasquale turns to Talen, when Amari speaks to him. A small bow is offered to the man. "Your Grace. Do you have a particular favorite among the paintings? I've only made a proper study of a few of them so far." His eyes are drawn to 'Despair,' when the artist of that one is named. To Amari, "Technique was never my problem. Making the lines and perspective correct was just a matter of geometry. I lacked the ability to put what was interesting in my mind to paper or canvas, though. In a way that was interesting,at least. Now these, I feel there are any number of stories they're trying to tell you."

Sabella stands up from the bar and starts wandering around looking at the paintings, hands clasped behind her back as she considers them.

Having moved on to consider other pieces of art, Caith finds herself in front of the Lady and the Spiders. She just kind of .. stares at it for a spell. Eventually, though, the blonde backs away from it. Backs away and throws back a healthy gulp of wine. A quick shudder is betrayed by her shoulders -- they lift up in a pinched shrug as she turns away from the painting.



Finishing her drink, she hands off her empty glass and goes searching for a refreshing. Passing close to where Niccolo, Talen, Amari and others are gathered, she reaches out to lightly touch the former archduke's elbow. "It's nice to see you, your highness," she says with a smile. "We don't have rooms to explore this time but the scenery rates just as intriguing."

Stepping away from the bar, Venturo guides Terese over towards the collection of art, this time pausing to look at the transition pieces between them all. Soft conversation is made as he looks over magister, serpents, spiders and unfortunate, each one getting studied in time.

Terese has left the bar by the entrance.

Venturo has left the bar by the entrance.

Amari is not fooled, a brow is arched faintly as if she suspects Talen is full of lies and deceit, and more lies. Niccolo doesn't quite convince her otherwise, but it's not as if she isn't amused. She just does what she can to hide a smile behind her glass while pretending to desperately need a drink just then. She doesn't ignore Pasquale though, "There's a certain beauty in that sort of mathematical precision, I think."

Sparte has left the well-illuminated perspective.

"As I said earlier, that one, though I'll let you ruminate on what and why," Talen says, pointing to 'betrayal' at Pasquale's comment by Amari, before he shrugs at Niccolo as he hears Fajra, "Well, see, maybe fire is-- okay, no? No fire, alright," he accepts from the elder statesman. Then, looking aside, he reaches for Eleyna's arm and introduces her, himself and Niccolo to Pasquale and Amari better. "My lord, my lady, I needn't I'm sure but will introduce her grace, Archduchess Eleyna Velenosa, and my father, Archduke Dowager Niccolo Velenosa."

Sparte wanders away from the group he was standing with, going to find another angle from which to appreciate - or at least consider - the works of art in the room.

Sparte has joined the gloomier view of the gallery.

Derovai hasn't left the bar in all this while. As the others leave, he's content to stay there, chatting with Niklas. Not a movement towards that raffle, either.

"That's the cause of every fall from grace in history," Jordan muses when he looks up at the painting entitled 'despair'. It's mostly to himself than anyone else. "Or at least that's what every single thing I've been told and reading about indicates."



Terese lifts a hand towards those at the bar as Venturo steers her back into the room towards the works on display. A moment finally taken to let her gaze slide over each one in turn as they pass. The soft pale silks of her gown rustle lightly against the floor and brush against the man's calves as she moves in tandem with his slow stride. Her hand remains tucked into the corner of his arm as he speaks quietly. Her head half tilts and her lips move in profile.

"Betrayal," Lumen answers Lianne readily, head dipping playfully to the side to glimpse as she chuckles breathily at Alaric's evasive maneuvering. Her lips crack into a toothy smile, now. Maybe Lianne's is infectious! "Though, when considering buying tickets... I *did* have to ask myself whether or not it's the type of thing I'd like to invite into Whisper House."

Eleyna is just about to pull away and take in the paintings in on her own, but Talen's gauntlet-covered hand reaches for her arm and pulls her back in. The Archduchess fixes her mouth into a smile as she tips her chin to those introduced.

Something that Derovai says elicits a gasp of shock and an expression of alarm from Niklas.

Lianne doesn't seem troubled in the least by Alaric's admitted indecision. In fact, her eyes brighten at his words, and she explains, "There's another piece in my private collection which I've been considering adding to the gallery's collection, should the artist agree to letting it be seen, dissected, considered by all and sundry. It's all about the technique, the color, the emotion which went into it. Quite different from the rest of the evening's pieces." With a curious cant of her head, she wonders, "Are all your pieces portraiture?" Something said nearby, Jordan's words on despair, pulls her attention away for a second, but her attention is quickly back on Lumen. "I'm rather fond of that one as well, much as it stings to look at it. Not all of Master Grayhope's work is grim, though it does, in my experience, cut through all the gloss, showing a deeper truth."

"Do you?" Pasquale brightens with enthusiasm to Amari. About math. "As do I, come to it. It has a great deal of importance in tactical planning." He's about to go on. But stops himself. Replying to Talen helps with that. Another bow is offered, to Eleyna this time. "Your Grace. And Archduke Niccolo. An honor. I'm Lord Pasquale Malespero. I hope you're enjoying the showing. I've found it quite striking so far."

Niccolo smirks for the briefest moment at the introduction by Talen, but then his smile and nod are polite enough to Amari and Pasquale. When Caith arrives, the smile broadens somewhat. "Evening, Caith. Indeed, less to explore, but quite interesting." He arches a brow. "Have you met the Archduchess and Archduke?" Introductions all around he glances to those in the group. "Princess Caith Thrax."

Amari would seemingly go crazy about geometry and maths in general too, since she does nod with an enthusiasm that matches Pasquale's, almost. She doesn't go right into it though, not with formal introductions taking place. She curtseys to the distinguished trio, and the Thrax Princess as well. "Your Grace, a pleasure to see you again." Amari smiles after a respectful bow of her head to the other woman. There's a matching one for Niccolo, "Very nice to meet you as well, Your Grace. Your Highness. I'm Lady Amari Keaton." Which does sound far less impressive than arch or Princess anything, but that's all she has and she says it as smartly as possible.

Sabella stops in front of Stasis and stares at it for a long time, tilting her head a bit as if trying to figure something out.

"So many people," Talen says, as a third is introduced, though he doesn't seem particularly overwhelmed by it. "Princess Caith Thrax, how do you do." With a clawed gauntlet gently raking along Eleyna's back, careful not to tear the umbra, he murmurs to her quietly.

Jordan offers a bow of his head towards Lianne, respectfully, when her attention drifts his way. He moves on to the next piece, though: betrayal. "This one I can't really pin down. What part of mythology, or, really, history, does this represent?"

Alaric nods attentively to Lianne's explanation. "It must be a very good piece if you're unwilling to risk the artist refusing to make you any more by ignoring their edicts not to display them. Whenever I give away my works, I'm always cognizant of the fact that they are well and truly out of my hands to be displayed anywhere from hung up right above a bar to thrown in a closet never to be seen again," he observes. "I am, at least, fairly confident that by giving away all my works to a wide variety of people I can make it very difficult if not impossible for them to be recollected in order to become a gallery of their own, though. So in a way, sometimes the creator's will can't be thwarted anyway," he concludes a trace impishly. "I have heard quite a lot about Master Fortunato, though. You can't paint in this city without hearing of him, I'm sure. He is the standard to which we all are measured in one way or the other. I heard his exhibition for the Liberators of Skald was no less evocative."

Vayne receives a messenger and Vayne just frowns a little at what he hears. Moving toward Lianne, he speaks quietly to the women and then makes his exit. Not running. Not lollygagging, either.

Micaela has left the well-illuminated perspective.

Mae has left the well-illuminated perspective.

Pasquale grins slight at Talen's 'So many people.' Indeed. "Princess," he says to Caith politely, in the vicinity as she is. His head turns, spotting Vayne just in time for the man to make his non-lollygagging way off. "Maybe too many. I'd meant to say hello to the Archlector, at least, though I suppose I can catch him in the shrine again another time. Curious what he'd make of some of these. What art reflects about ourselves, and so on."

Eleyna tilts her face up to Talen's to hear whatever he's rumbling in her ear before she whispers a few words in return and then offers those introduced a dazzling smile as she says, "A pleasure to meet you. And Lady Amari, good to see you again. I received you invitation earlier today, but haven't found a moment to respond properly between meetings."

Oh look! A passing tray of wine! Caith snags one and then lifts it in a silent toast to the people she is currently meeting. When Niccolo introduces the Archduchess and Archduke, she's all radiant smiles and twinkling eyes. "I believe we've been at a few of the same events but I have never had the honor of an introduction. It is a pleasure," she says to Eleyna and Talen, inclining her fair head. "How are you enjoying yourself, Lord Pasquale? What do you think of the art?" When she hears Amari's surname, her expression lights up. "Oh, you must be related then to Lady Margerie? She is wonderful. We are getting together soon, she and I." After taking a sip of wine, she delicately links arms with Niccolo and rests her hand lightly upon his forearm. He was, after all, her embassy exploration buddy; maybe he's her painting pal, too?

"I fear I'm not so familiar with Master Fortunato's art," Lumen glances back over her shoulder to those pieces readily on display, "I can only attest to his conversation skills." Turning back, the whisper's eyebrows prick up, "Which aren't lacking." She eyes Alaric some, "Are you trying to give people ideas? Because that's what it seems like you're doing."

5 Pravus Honor Guard, Aida leave, following Belladonna.

Mae departs her small gathering over there, and starts over toward Lianne. And Alaric, and Lumen. And are Eleyna and Talen still there? A bit of overt dread seems to play across her features as she approaches.

"It is a party after all, Talen." Niccolo remarks, as to the number of people. He excuses himself long enough from the immediate circle to snag one of the attendants and murmurs to them: "Tell me, who did that one?" He gestures toward the Lady and the Spiders painting again, a faint smile. "Sebastian Pravus." is the reply, and the Velenosa nods once, stepping back into the circle just as Caith takes his arm. Apparently he was curious. To Amari and Pasquale, he picks up his sarcasm directed at Talen and plays it straight: "And a lovely party at that. The Marquessa has outdone herself."

"I think it's more like reverse-jinxing," Alaric assures Lumen. "Besides, several people have already expressed the idea to me anyway. If anything, the more people that want to try it the more likely it is they'll interfere with each other."

Lianne answers honestly of that painting she's hesitated to show, "It was made at my request, an urging to try something at which he did not readily excel." She laughs, breathy and brief, at the defensive tactic Alaric has taken against finding all of his works collected. She nods toward the magister of the mirror at the talk of Fortunato and the pieces he provided to the Liberators. "One of the first in my collection, purchased from that auction. The Master of Questions kept outbidding me. It was no easy task to take it home." All of which is said with good humor, no hard feelings for Laric making her work for what she wanted. She nods, bright-eyed, to Lumen's appreciation for the artist's conversational skills. "My conversations with Master Grayhope are never dull. I always come away changed in some small way."



Though there's a flicker of attention from Lianne to Jordan and the piece he's considering, she doesn't have a moment to answer, the Archlector upon her too soon to murmur his goodbyes. She offers him a warm smile, a nod, and watches him go. And watches Mae approach, a delighted smile for the Harlequin. "My Huntress." But there is another who wants her attention, Fajra drawing close to tell her that the tickets have all been tallied and it's time to do the drawing. It'll only take a moment, but she begs a quiet exit to tend to that one little bit of formality left for the evening.

Lethe has left the well-illuminated perspective.

"It is, I'll agree to that," Talen says to Niccolo with a nod, inviting him off to the floor, to find and speak with those others around. As he spies Mae looking troubled not far from them, there's a tilt of his head, then he calls over, "Evening, Mae. Apologies for my hasty departure this morning, that meeting had to be attended," he says. "I assume your work is within the room, and if so, you have outdone yourself. Prominence here is testament to your abilities."

"Very tricksy, your Majesty," Lumen presses her mouth into a smirk, tapping her nose thrice in conspiratorial understanding. At Mae's migration towards them, the whisper extends her hand that woman's way affectionately. "Well, well, well."

"Oh, reply at your leisure of course, it wasn't an urgent thing. Keaton Hall may not be anywhere as grand as your estate, but you're surely welcome. The invitation is open, Your Grace." Amari says with a genuine little smile before Caith requires her attention. Just the mention of Margerie makes her light up, happily, "Yes! She's my cousin, but I often call her aunt Margerie. I love her to bits. She's been trying to teach me social graces..." But she sounds as if she's not sure if they're taking. Niccolo is regarded carefully and agreed with, at least with a nod before she looks to the paintings he's gestured at. Spiders. She stares at that one.

Derovai leans in, asking Niklas something, even as his gaze flicks towards the room as the raffle gets underway.

Mae eyes Lianne, obviously uncertain, and perhaps in a bad mood. "My Marquessa," she says, after a bit of hesitation. Then she looks over to Talen. She makes a face at him. "There is so much wrong with what you just said, your grace," she tells the man. "But I guess you were trying to be nice, so, thanks," she mutters. Finally, back to Lumen. Mae just... sighs. And smiles, faintly. She can't scowl at Lumen!

"Did he? Laric's rather spartan in his way. He must have genuinely wanted the painting; you must have paid a fine price to deny him," Alaric notes to Lianna after regarding the painting, smiling and gesturing her to take her leave to do the raffle thing. "Harlequin Mae, hello," he says sociably at Mae's approach. "Enjoying yourself tonight?" He squints a little at Lumen. "I'm not 'tricksy'! I'm... another word that isn't 'tricksy'." There have been better defenses against allegations of being tricksy. Perhaps his heart wasn't really into it.

Jordan glances over at the piece dubbed 'magister of the mirror', but this one has him silent. His eyebrows are lifted, though, as if considering a certain angle. He moves on from that painting quickly enough to walk up to Lumen, inclining his head to her, and bowing to the King. "Your Majesty, Softest Lumen. Pleasure to see you both." With a pause, he addresses the Whisper, "Thank you, by the way. I'm not sure if I conveyed that well enough in writing, but I am thankful for the assistance in the matter." Which matter, he doesn't elaborate. Instead, there is another bow, and he drifts towards the next piece.

Sabella had been starting to approach Lianne, but then she's starting the raffle so she stops. Just in front of the spiders picture. She slowly looks over and then slowly starts stepping away, eyes wide.

Talen throws up his hands as if he's suddenly just lost a game of cards and can't deal with it without reacting. "This is what happens when I am polite, Eleyna," he tells his wife. "It's just -wrong-," he says, twisting Mae's words, for his own amsuement.

Slowly Terese and Venturo work their way around the room in their talking and looking of the paintings, soft words bandied back and fourth as they discuss. Now and then, one or the other glances around, listening as the raffle results are being tallied up.

Eleyna's blond head turns in Mae's direction when Talen greets her. She offers the Harlequin a grin that falters when she notices her expression. She lifts her brows and then adds more quietly, "Priorities of a Marquessa is my favorite of them all, as I was just telling this Marquessa." The Archduchess nods to Lianne and then stares at Talen, "There, there. You can try again to use your big boy manners another time, I suppose."

"A pleasure to have met you, Lady Leonora." Mydas says, inclining his head politely before doing the same to Talen, Eleyna, and finally Lianne, offering his farewells before heading off.

Five baskets with tickets are brought to the center of the gallery on a little tray, and Lianne stills behind it. "I thank you all for your kind contributions to this project, for your aid in supporting these artists. The winner of a commission from Fortunato Grayhope is--" She draws. "--Blessed Vayne, Archlector of Tehom!" Who's left, but the delight at that pairing is still there. "The winner of a comission from Mae Grayhope nee Culler is--" Pluck! "--Mistress Lumen Whisper!" She casts a smile toward the lovely woman who's been coincidentally joined by the artist herself. "The winner of a commission from Sebastian Pravus is--" Plink! "Archduchess Eleyna Velenosa!" Who also gets a delighted smile. "I look forward to seeing what might come of that collaboration." But there are two more. "The winner who will get to name one of Master Venturo's brews--and who will owe him a story--is--" Pull! "--my magnificent uncle, the Dowager Archduke Niccolo Velenosa. And last but far from least, the winner of the commission from Juliana Pravus is--" One last one! "--Lady Lethe Tyde! Congratulations and, again, thank you. Please, visit often. Keep talking about all this wonderful weirdness." With that, she bows her head, looks around and catches her breath.

"And you as well, Prince Mydas." Leonora, too, seems to be preparing to make her departure, though she offers a smile towards Lianne as she does so. But then she slips out of the gallery, and off towards home.

"I'm enjoying it very much," Pasquale replies to Caith, his attention going from her to the paintings that surround them. "Marquessa Lianne has a unique eye, and I'll not easily forget any of the pieces on display tonight. Curious to see what dreams some of these give me, come to it. And yourself, your highness? How does the art strike you?" A nod in agreement to Niccolo. "It does seem to have been a fine success. The first of many such evenings." And then the raffle is underway. He listens, only looking a little disappointed when his own name isn't called, and applauding lightly for the winners.

Mydas has left the well-illuminated perspective.

"Nope," Lumen's eyes budge with /aggressive innocence/ at Alaric, glancing one way and then the other as if to look out for the King's Own come to take her away, "Fairly certain that's your defining attribute, now."



"You're such a talent," Lumen conveys softly to Mae ...but not so softly that all those in attendance aren't meant to hear. "And there's no need to thank me, Sir Jordan. I'm very happy to be of use where the right cause is concerned." -- Oh! Was that? Was that her name? -- Lumen hops just the once, giving a little clap and throwing Mae a smile absolute delight.

"Congratulations, Lumen!" Sabella calls out with a brilliant smile the Whisper's way, applauding for the rest as well.

Leonora has left the well-illuminated perspective.

"Oh, she's ever so good, isn't she?" Caith replies to Amari, wrinkles her nose up with delight. "She is going to help me with diplomacy and the ability to manipulate people into giving me what I want once I can beg a bit of her time." She lifts her wine glass toward her lips but it's only to lift up one of her fingers and press it against her lips. "Shh, but don't worry. I only plan to use the latter power for /good/." She gives the Keaton lady a wink before looking at Niccolo, lightly squeezing his arm. "Have you entered the raffle? What sort of art would you commission if you won?" But then her question is answered -- partly -- when the winners are announced. No painting for Niccolo but her expression is still colored curious as to the latter half of her inquiries. Before he can answer, though, Pasquale is drawing her attention and she tips her head to the side thoughtfully. "The pieces are thought-provoking which is the goal, I think. If art is comfortable, it doesn't challenge you or make you think. And if you don't do that, then what is the point?"

First, Mae eyes Alaric. "I am not enjoying myself," she says. A pause, then she adds, for Lumen's sake, "Your brattiness." Her gaze shifts again. "You should stop trying to be polite," Mae advises Talen. Then, to Eleyna, she scrunches her nose. "Well," she says. "I'll trust you of all people understand the piece," she says. Then she falls quiet, as winners are chosen. She hears the name - the one one who won /her/ work - and she can't help the dopey look that crosses her features. SHe turns from Lianne, to Lumen, and she laughs. "Oh, my... well..." and that seems to be all Mae has to say.

"'Defining attribute'," Alaric repeats scoffingly. "I'm not Lycene, so I obviously can't be properly 'tricksy' anyway," he proclaims knowledgably before politely applauding for all the winners. Even Lumen. "Well, what about -now-?" he deadpans to Mae after seeing her dopey look.

"Congratulations, Elly. To you as well, father," Talen says informally to the both of them, as he makes no attempt to clap, but dinks some of his armour. Clank, clank, clank. It's the high hat to your low beat drum. At Mae's words, he shrugs once, as if in agreement, "I think you might be right. Though the Pantheon forbid I act out in front of his majesty, he might get the wrong idea about me." As if he hasn't already.

Venturo's head lifts up, his attention scanning the crowd when the announcements come until his gaze finally lands upon Niccolo. A warm smile splits the brewer's features, his free hand lifting to give the fellow a wave, "I look forward to your story, Dowager Archduke. Just send word my way and we can arrange matters at your convienence."

Talen looks almost proud as everyone tacks on the 'dowager' thing.

"I believe I have been dismissed." Niccolo observes of Talen's comment in the general direction of the balance of their small group. Before he moves away to do any mingling, Lianne announces the raffle winners. "Ah, ha, it seems like we will be doing some sampling, after all." He remarks to Talen and Eleyna. To the latter, he adds: "And perhaps you and I can talk about that commission. Congratulations. Sounds very interesting." Focusing back on Caith, he looks thoughtful: "I will admit I am partial to landscapes, but those seem to be a bit out of vogue." He gestures around the room, by way of example. The gesture appears to give him an idea: "I think I may take in some of the other paintings, and my drink is low. Care to join me?"

"What, without Victus around for you both to egg each other on I should think you're practically on your best behaviour," Alaric casually quips to Talen.

Niccolo studiously avoids all mention of the word dowager.

"My terrible streak of bad luck continues." Amari says once all the winners have been drawn, though she does applaud. To the people nearest she adds, with some worry, "I should take a step back so you all won't also be struck by the bolt of lightning with my name on it." There's a glance up at the ceiling, but nothing happens. Yet. She still steps back, just incase her luck is that bad. Caith is nodded happily enough to when she's standing more clear of her, "She's very good. If she used her powers for evil, the realm would be seriously imperiled. I hope you'll be responsible, Princess Caith."

Niccolo does, however, offer Venturo a nod. "I am looking forward to it. I have plenty of stories."

"Victus is the bad egg, I'm just the one corrupted, your majesty. I'm actually a very well behaved common boy who lost his place and is just looking to my betters," he embellishes in lies and faux innocence. It isn't working for the dark prince, however.

Lianne calls over a, "Precisely," on the wake of Caith's words, a bright smile turned that direction. It is, however, toward the Harlequin that she moves, rejoining the conversation over thattaway. Her fingers briefly brush over Mae's shoulder before withdrawing back to herself, settling in a loose hold of her other hand at the small of her back. For the moment, she settles in to listening, to watching. Content. Proud.

As the winners of the raffle are called out, Terese turns from one of the paintings though her expression is hard to read beyond a coil of tension in her svelte form. Her fingertips twitch for a moment though it slowly melds away the hand tucked into Venturo's elbow slides upwards to give a soft applause to those that have had their names drawn. Her own gaze follows the man at her side towards Niccolo and a smile tugs at her lips as she relaxes. "I'm curious as to what story shall be spun as well," she muses.

"I can't decide what the /wrong idea/ about Talen Velenosa looks like," Mae says, aloud, as she glances away from Lumen over to the Archduke, then over to Alaric. She just rolls her eyes. She might have more bad mood to spread about, but then Lianne is touching her. The look that crosses her features is decidedly /conflicted/. In response, Mae just abruptly turns toward the exit, and starts that way. Sorry, Lumen!

Pasquale tips his chin down in a small nod of agreement with Caith. "There's beauty in the struggle of a last breath, or in surviving calamity and destruction around you, even if it isn't a pretty or easy sort. I'd rather be challenged than stare at flowers for hours on end." He turns to Lianne, then, raising his glass (which is still mostly full) toward her. "This was a most striking evening, Lianne. You should be very proud of the reception."

Lumen gives a feminine gasp, looking out over the gallery to spot Sabella -- giving her a whimsical little finger-wave before her attention is drawn back to those closer by. "Oh, I already know exactly where it's going to go once it's done being on display," she tells Mae and Alaric, evidently content to leave talking about the King's many adjectives in the past, "The Topaz Ro-" Oopsie-daisy, Mae is gone. "/The Topaz Room/," she tells Alaric. There.

The Archduchess looks like she is wilting a bit just like her blooming namesake. She seems delighted to have won but, after a few last words exchanged, appears to be slipping away with Talen in tow.

Cheryl the Assistant Innkeeper, Scourge, a hairless rat-dog leave, following Mae.

Talen snags a glass of champagne or something on the way out and necks it! Classy.

"You think that's beauty? I could tell you, from about two first-hand perspectives, there's nothing pretty about being the sole survivor of something terrible, my Lord. Well, sole, or one of two." Jordan intones to Pasquale after overhearing his words, half-turning to his man. "You wonder why you got lucky and others didn't. And then you wonder if it's something you /did/ that spared you and not everyone else. You feel guilt despite having no reason to do so. It's not really beautiful, calamity, or solitary survival. It's... pyrrhic."

Sybilla, the Lenosian lady's maid, 13 House Velenosa Guards leave, following Eleyna.

6 House Velenosa Guards, Jiacomo, the Velenosa seneschal, Eleyna leave, following Talen.

Alaric has unquestionably become very informed about the Topaz Room. "Do you know, I don't think I've been to see the new room yet? I've been so busy with the Embassy opening I haven't had any room in mind for other new areas to visit," he observes musingly in response to Lumen.

"Perhaps he'll let you sit in on the story," Comes Venturo's quip towards Terese at her curiosity, a glance cast towards Niccolo. With a breath pushed out, the man seems to take a heartbeat to refocus, his own energy ebbing. With a silent dip of his head towards Lianne, he takes himself and Terese out of the gallery with a slow, lazy stroll and out into the summer night.

"I always /try/ to be responsible," Caith tells Amari with a laugh that crinkles the corners of her eyes. "Whether or not I am always successful is another story. The pull to impish is hard to resist sometimes." Drawn back to her conversation with Pasquale, she shakes her head! "But there is beauty in flowers beyond the surface level; it all depends on how you look at it. Light and shadow, the negative space. The implicate of what is taking place just out of view. Or even the memory of what those flowers invoke. One just has to allow themselves to consider things beyond first impressions."



But then Niccolo is inviting her to join him to look at the other paintings and partake in one of her most favored activities: more drinking. Quickly, she finishes off her second glass of wine and gives the stately man a nudge with her side as she squeezes his arm again. "Lead the way, your highness!"

Should Lianne be bothered by the evident effect her touch has upon Mae? Possibly. Is she? No, not in the least. Her brows arch curiously, to be sure, but it's a distant sort of interest as she watches the harlequin head toward the door. Pasquale's words draw more emotion from her, those turned toward Caith even more so than those offered to her directly, though it is probably the latter to which she says, "Thank you. I'm glad to have you here. And I'm rather intrigued by your views on beauty." She listens curiously to Jordan's thoughts. Her lips press pensively, a question tucked behind them. But there's a gesture her way, and the smile returns, offered to Venturo and Terese. Drawing closer to the conversation between Pasquale and Jordan, she asks of the latter, "Is there nothing redeeming in that survival?"

Sabella finally stops looking at all the amazing paintings and wanders over to the group around Lianne, "Marquessa, this gallery is absolutely amazing and I shall be thinking about these paintings for the next few days. Probably at least one will keep me from sleeping." damn spiders. She gives a brilliant smile to Alaric and Lumen, "Your Majesty, the embassy opening was equally as inspiring in the same kind of ways. It was worth it to see Prince Tyrval. I would not have remembered to send him a gift for gift day without that party." And clearly that was the most important thing! "And Lumen, do I have you to thank for my amazingly good news this afternoon?"

Sparte glances over to Lumen, tilting his head and considering her thoughtfully for a moment before shaking some notion from his head and returning to considering the art.

Amari follows Pasquale's gesture and also raises her glass to Lianne. There's no attempt to jump into the discussion, but there's an amused grin and polite nod to Caith, "It was nice to meet you!" She calls after the Thrax princess before she can drag Niccolo too far away. After that, she looks to some of the paintings, Spiders again, actually. She doesn't seem entirely decided about that one.

"That's a good question, my Lady. You count your blessings and try to do right by your outcomes, if you wish to honor it. Or you might get into your head you skimmed through not because you lucked out, but because you have higher purpose. And that, I think, is an even more dangerous way of thinking than guilt. Guilt at least brings you back to the tragic event. Pride you survived that kind of thing makes you forget what made it happen in the first place; it's like shifting the focus of a latern from the room to just yourself, in the middle of the night. You're not really making your way any clearer. I do like that one, though," Jordan points to the woman with the cobwebs in her eyes. "It terrifies because it's simple."

Pasquale chuckles low to Caith. "You make me wish to reconsider the paintings of vases full of roses my mother was so fond of, your highness. I was never able to get much out of them but, as I might've said before, I lack the eye for metaphor much of the time." He's about to reply to Lianne, when Jordan's words catch his attention. He turns, holding the man's eyes for a moment, and then offering him a respectful dip of his chin. "I find beauty in survival and the possibility it holds. But we must carry such things in the ways we can manage. What do you make of the works on display tonight, with your eye?"

Lumen arches her eyebrow, head swiveling on her neck suggestively. "It's where we do our... bookkeeping." This is a trap, Alaric. It's *actually* where they do their bookkeeping. Run! She winks. Because again, this is a trap. "Good news?" Lumen laughs breathily to Sabella, "I'll always take the blame for that, but I'm sure I have no idea what you mean. You-Know-Who and I can never seem to synchronize our schedules lately and I think I may be at risk for coming off as importunate. Which I hate." There's an expectant pause. Because, well. Share... the good.. uh, news?



For a moment there is mirth in Terese's gaze for the quip. "Perhaps as I haven't been the most exceptional of company this evening. It's been a very long day." One hand lifts as he begins to move, a soft rake of mere fingertips against the stray dark curls that have escaped from the sweep of her curled mane. She catches Lianne's smile and returns it with one of her own before it sweeps to the little collection of gatherings as she glances over her shoulder. "I shall hope to catch up properly when things have settled and my mind can keep its train of thought." Her words are soft and as much for him as some others within the gallery. "Until then a bit of rest is welcomed," she offers to Venturo as she slips off with him into the night.

Zane, a tall and silent servant, Terese leave, following Venturo.

Alaric smiles affably. "Sabella, lovely to see you as always. I have to give Princess Jaenelle the majority of the credit where the opening's inspirational qualities are concerned, of course. I mostly just showed up to do a little hosting and have the Minister of Coin pay the bills, really." He regards Lumen's suggestive swivel with a lightly amused expression. "What, you don't do the bookkeping in the Azure Room anymore?" he asks innocently.

"The one they title despair is a cautionary tale. What happens when you are not at the bottom of the pit, but you think you're there. You're not looking up, or forward, so you decide to jump all the way down. Stasis seems tranquil, but that might be a terrifying prospect. Everything remaining the same. That said, if things always change, there is no change. It's not always all or nothing, at least for that concept. Lagoma forgive me if I am wrong, but I am a mere peasant, and my betters may correct me for it." Jordan straightens as he addresses Pasquale, inclining his head in deference for that, and in return for the respectful nod. "The only beauty in survival is in the struggle, my Lord. But that would be the same as a famous playwright's saying that beauty is best expressed in our darkest times."

Niccolo first, as promised, makes his way towards the small bar. As they pass by Alaric and Lumen he offers a polite greeting to both: "Your Majesty. Mistress Lumen." An elbow is on the bar a few moments later, and a glass of wine procured for Caith, and a whiskey for him. "Have you taken in all of the paintings yet? I am afraid I was quickly snagged by Talen."

Lianne's smile widens considerably at Sabella's approach, head dipping in gracious acceptance of the praise. She breathes a laugh at the indication that some of the art might induce insomnia and assures, "That was not the intention. I am rather glad you made it, though. Thank you." Her attention returns to Jordan then, taking in that full answer with interest. She follows his attention toward the painting of the cobwebbed woman, a little, "Mm," issued in agreement. "It's an interesting idea you present, the merit of guilt, how it keeps you anchored in the truth, so long as you don't surrender to it so completely that you lose yourself. The lantern neither too near nor too far." She settles in for more listening and finally, finally claims a bit of drink for her own, one of the darker brews made special for the evening.

Derovai laughs outright at something Niklas says, their quiet conversation continuing. It's a direct laugh, but it's pitched not to interrupt or draw attention.

"That same playwright also said that the simpler entertainments in the theater are drudgery and those that write such plays appeal to the lower common element." Jordan goes on to add, thoughtfully. "I wouldn't agree with that sentiment, since it's so pessimistic - that good things aren't beautiful because they're good, so we must suffer and toil and struggle to present beauty to others. Typical of someone who has enjoyed the relative benefits of a cosmopolitan life in the capital, though." There's a grin to Lianne, however. "Exactly that. We may be at odds with the feeling, but being at odds with it means that though you might feel the guilt, you choose to push it away so you can do what the moment demands you to. Living in the past is the same as that painting," he upnods to stasis, once again.

"Marquis Kennex said he received a large bit of paperwork this morning and wanted to clarify a few points," Sabella replies to Lumen, beaming a bit and bouncing on her slippered toes. "It was the first I'd heard, so I am very excited!" to Lianne she grins, "I wouldn't have missed it! I was rather hoping that a certain green painting I'd been looking for would be here, but alas, my search continues." Finally, Alaric gets a nod, "I should send Princess Jaenelle a thank you for all the work she put in. It truly was an epic event."

Sparte has left the gloomier view of the gallery.

Sparte begins gathering up the small group he came to the gallery with, preparing to head back out and off to other business.

Niklas laughs at Derovai's response and glances over toward Jordan and Lianne before he looks to his barmate and finishes his drink.

Pasquale offers a shrug to Jordan. "I think what we see in pieces like this reflecs something of ourselves, so I wouldn't say there's a right or a wrong to it. If we're challenged in some way, we've gotten something out of it. How are you called? I'm Lord Pasquale Malespero, for my part." His eyes track Amari again, and follow her gaze to the spider. "Were you at the Shadow Carnival, my lady?" he asks the Keaton woman. "A woman came masked and costumed as a spider. I wonder what she'd have made of this. The effect of it on her wasn't nearly so macabre."

"I look better in topaz," Lumen remarks to Alaric with dark amusement before Sabella's implication causes a sincere toothy smile to crack over her lips. A shock of white against her complexion. "We'll call this your victory, your Highness. All yours." Stepping back, she dips her chin to acknowledge the princess's superiority.

On their way to the bar, Caith lifts her hand in a wiggly-finger wave to Alaric and Lumen. Is it okay to wave to a king? Well, whether or not it is, she just did. No taking it back. "I took in most of them," she tells Niccolo, smiling brightly as wine ends up in her possession. Once her companion has his whiskey, she clinks her glass against his. "But then," -- she was unnerved by the lady and the spiders piece? well, yeah, but... -- "..I saw you and I wanted to say hello before I missed my chance." She glances over at the artwork and then her attention drifts back to the former archduke. "How about you? Have you taken it all in?"

"Sounds like Master Bastien," Lianne notes of that playwright that Jordan's referencing, a good-humored grin on her lips. As he speaks again of guilt, of finding that way balance it, she says, "I wonder if you've spent time in the Shrine of the Thirteenth or spoken with Archlector Vayne. I believe he might appreciate your understanding of that balance." There seems more to that thought, but she keeps it to herself. She smiles for Pasquale's words, but doesn't interject. That same lovely expression is turned toward Niklas at his laugh, at that look her way. She nods a wordless greeting, slowly working on her own drink.

"Prince Niccolo, Princess Caith," Alaric replies sociably as they pass before nodding to Sabella. "You should, I think she'd very much appreciate the thought," he says encouragingly before smirking lightly at Lumen.

Wilhelm the Iron Messenger, Gene Erique, Guardsman, Ibbeth leave, following Sparte.

Niccolo gets Reserved Cask of Raconteur's Beautiful Endings from a wooden box with a carving of open eyes.

Niccolo gets Reserved Cask of Raconteur's Beautiful Endings from a wooden box with a carving of open eyes.

A messenger arrives, delivering a message to Caith before departing.

A messenger arrives, delivering a message to Caith before departing.

"I'm sure someone must have put in a good word, but I am utterly grateful for the outcome. Or the start of it," Sabella amends to Lumen, still smiling brightly. When she hears the laughter back at the bar she says, "I'd better get back there before they take that comedy routine on the road and ruin things. Enjoy the rest of your evening!" and with a little curtsy for Alaric she's just about skipping back towards where Niklas and Derovai are.

Amari looks away from the paintings when she's spoken to again and settles a gaze on Pasquale. It takes her a moment to tune back in, but when she does, she's got a warm smile for him. "I was, actually. Baroness Enyo took me through the maze and I stuck my hand in the pool. I caught a crab, or it caught me, rather." Which in part explains her mentioning a bad luck streak. "I have to admit with some embarrassment, that I think I'd much prefer a painting of something pleasant, like flowers. These are very dark." She looks apologetic for it, but she has simple tastes, apparently. "Oh, and hello Sir Jordan. Nice to see you."

"Some of it." Niccolo responds, somewhat unhelpfully. He seems a little preoccupied, looking down into his glass and appearing distant - not unusual, by a long shot, but perhaps not the best for a conversation. After a few moments of this, he promptly knocks back his drink, with a sturdy "thunk" as he puts the glass down on the bar. He quirks a brow at Caith: "I have an idea. Care to come along?" Meanwhile, Romina is directing some Velenosa guards to procure some of special edition brews.

Sabella has joined the bar by the entrance.

"I think the meanings aren't really our own, but those that the artist shows to us, as seen from our perspectives. We're all a gathering of stories put together, for our lives. My story, the story that's interesting to tell again and again, started with death and fire of almost all that I had known. Others by finding their one true passion, and some others start the day that they're born. I'm waxing poetic, though. I'm a simple man. I have simple needs, simple goals in life, and I feel determined to pursue them." Jordan shrugs to Pasquale, in turn, though he bows in deference to the lord. "Sir Jordan Ober, Knight of Ashford. And, uh, some people have given me a byname. I'll try to deserve it more consistently before I announce it to the four winds." He smiles at that. "I dare not say names," he states to Lianne with a smile, neither confirming nor denying the name spoken. "It was, all told, a valid perspective, if... as said, one finds life to be a division between levels of abundance as you see in cities. Our conversation, this playwright's and mine, was about what makes monsters. He thought us, as in people, create the monsters. I posited that monsters create themselves. It's all down to a choice, in the end." With a bow toward Amari, the knight smiles brightly. "Likewise, my Lady."

Lumen nods respectfully to Niccolo and Caith. To the latter, after a moment of hesitation during which the whisper's resolve falters, she offers a little finger-wiggle wave back. "Well, I'm overcome with joy. For the progress," she tells Sabella before turning to say something quietly to Alaric.

Derovai widens his eyes at Niklas as the other fellow says something, before he rises from the bar, with a brief greeting and leavetaking for Sabella. He draws relatively close to the patrons around Lianne. "A splendid coup. Forgive me for not lingering amidst the paintings, Marquessa. I'm afraid the hour closes in on me -- or maybe it's the Setarco Fire."

Khanne has left the gloomier view of the gallery.

Drysi, a young shaman apprentice, GusGus, the fluffy Whitehold Mountain puppy leave, following Khanne.

Pasquale catches a look from Derovai, his brows arching at the man. In a prompting, 'Yes?' sort of way. He doesn't look too long before his eyes go back to Amari, though. "I heard much speculation there were daggers and sharks in that fountain. I should be grateful I escaped without having my fingers eaten. I managed to get my hand out of it without angering any crabs." A shake of his head, at her near-apology. "As Princess Caith put it well, it depends on the flower, and how it's invoked. I don't know that I'd want to surround myself with works like these all the time. I shouldn't stay much longer tonight, come to it, but I thank you for your company tonight, my lady. It was a pleasure talking to you, even if I'm a poor guide to artwork." An inclination of his head to Jordan. "Well-met, then, Sir Jordan."

As Niccolo grows thoughtful, Caith's smile drifts into a contemplative expression of her own. She considers the man beside her with a curious tilt to her head -- what's going through that mind of his right now? When he knocks back his drink and offers her a somewhat mysterious proposal, she does not hesitate.



"I think you know me well enough by now that you needn't ask," she answers with a grin, the promise of laughter threaded in amongst her words. "My best adventures of late have been by your side." Swallowing the rest of her wine in three large glug-glug-gluuuugs, she sets her empty glass aside. "Let's go, Nicky." Nicky? Did she just call the former archduke /Nicky/. Yup, she did and gives him a wink as well.

Jordan glances over to Derovai. "Hello, Master Voss." He stares at the man for a longer moment. The joke almost makes him crack a smile.

Jordan is behaving tonight, though, so.

"I believe it's a bit of both, Sir Jordan," Lianne answers on the topic of monsters. "I've seen enough to are not of our own design to share your perspective... and known enough who are very human to share the playwright's. The world is seldom so simple as to let one or the other ever be answer enough." With Derovai drawing closer, she turns a warm smile toward the man. "You were a delightful presence, even in your distance, Master Voss. I do hope you enjoyed yourself as much as I enjoyed your contributions."

Niklas offers a wave to Derovai as the man goes, then looks to Sabella with a smile as she returns to the bar. "Did you enjoy taking in the paintings? I rather liked the dour, gloomy one, but I'm not entirely sold on the gloomy, dour one."

Derovai has left the bar by the entrance.

Derovai nods at Jordan, but he smiles back at Lianne. "Per my contribution, as you put it: as I mentioned last time too, you should have food next time. Who knows how many guests left early because of hunger? They might have died of it -- and then they'd be ready for another demonstration of yours from a month or two ago." And then his grin broadens -- just for a tick -- before it disappears. "Excuse me, though." And he's making his way towards the exit.

"Let's." Niccolo agrees, rapping his knuckles once on the bar in unison with a final nod. He seems to look around the room for just a moment, but then whatever he searches for is found (or not found), and he smiles to Caith and opens the door. Nicky - like Dowager - is carefully ignored!

Sabella laughs and grins at Niklas as she replies, "I quite enjoyed myself and liked the one thay defied explanation the best." she finally takes a drink from the glass in her hand, "No green ones, though."

3 Thrax Guards leaves, following Caith.

Romina, a silent Mirrorguard agent, 2 House Velenosa Guards, Caith leave, following Niccolo.

"I was just happy that I hadn't grabbed an eel instead. I'm sure I saw Count Duarte do so and it did not look enjoyable at all for him." Amari laughs softly, because on her scale of bad things to grab from a mystery pool of black water, eels must be right up there. Higher than daggers and sharks by far. "That's kind of you to say, Lord Pasquale. Thank you for letting me tag along, even if I had very little commentary to add. Would you care to see me out? I should probably be going, myself." Preparing to leave, she smiles and waves to those she's talked to through the evening, and flashes a brighter smile of gratitude to Lianne.

Amari gets Reserved Cask of Raconteur's Beautiful Endings from a wooden box with a carving of open eyes.

Amari gets Reserved Cask of Raconteur's Dreadful Discoveries from a wooden box with a carving of closed eyes.

Sabella gets Reserved Cask of Raconteur's Beautiful Endings from a wooden box with a carving of open eyes.

Sabella gets Reserved Cask of Raconteur's Dreadful Discoveries from a wooden box with a carving of closed eyes.

Niklas gets Reserved Cask of Raconteur's Dreadful Discoveries from a wooden box with a carving of closed eyes.

Niklas gets Reserved Cask of Raconteur's Beautiful Endings from a wooden box with a carving of open eyes.

"Such a steady complaint, so steadfastly ignored," Lianne croons to Derovai. But the he's steaping aside, and she's dipping her head, attention returned to those who linger. With the crowd dwindling further still, she seems to relax more and more, deeply satisfied with how the evening's gone. She returns Amari's smile readily, dips her head to those preparing to go and, for the moment, just enjoys her beer.



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