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Bi-Monthly Whisper Ball


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Whisper House announces that it will be hosting a ball for
all the Peerage of the city, regardless of Fealty or House.
Expect a night of the finest refreshments, music, dancing,
and general good spirits as the best performers in the city
work to dazzle you. The Elysian Ballroom, one of the finest
locations in the city, will be the venue used. Be prepared
to be dazzled and amazed. Entry cost is free, though of
course, Whisper House reminds that donations are a wonderful
show of generosity toward the arts and a sign of excellent
taste.
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Date

June 16, 2018, 9 p.m.

Hosted By

Selene Bliss

Participants

Alaric Selene Bliss Monique Sabella Duarte Cedric Ainsley Octavia Niklas Quenia Karadoc Felicia Grazia Mayir Roxana Etienne Gwenna Giulio Sidney Rinel Saoirse Elgana Lumen Lorenzo Jordan Scipio Cullen Elloise Gianna Arcadia Amanda

Location

Arx - Ward of the Crown - Whisper House - Elysian Ballroom

Largesse Level

Grand

Comments and Log


2 Crimson Blades Private arrives, following Gwenna.

Harlen, Rinel arrive, following Duarte.

Selene has joined the Table of honor.

Duarte arrives escorting the decked out and good-smelling Rinel - who is absolutely stunning in every regard. He looks as proud walking in with her as he might were he to walk in with any princess. "...I don't know about Countess-Consort just yet, Mistress Rinel, but I suppose time will tell."

2 Grayson House Guards, Elizabetta, a disapproving lady-in-waiting, Valor, a small brown and white corgi puppy, Lily, an aloof lady-in-waiting, Clark, an exasperated guard arrive, following Sabella.

Sabella arrives, following Niklas.

On being greeted in the Receiving Room of Whisper House, all guests will have found themselves led the short distance into the Elysian Ballroom, a pair of attendants dressed in impeccable suits holding the doors open, with a third announcing the entrance of each guest as they arrive - checking, of course, to make sure that their pronunciation is impeccable. Which it always is. Upon the walls hang the banners of each of the Great Houses of Arvum, colors and sigils bold and strong against the ivory walls of the ballroom, with smaller banners below each showing the vassal lands, from Duchy to Barony, arranged by sworn fealty. One further banner accompanies that of each of the Great Houses - the Spider sigil of the Nox'Alfar Twilight Court. Each of the tables has been carefully covered in a pristine white tablecloth, with a candelabra situated on each in order to provide a soft, glowing light that the pale colors of the room pick up and reflect easily.



At the honor table dominating the back wall of the ballroom, two chairs each have been draped with a cloth the colors of the Great Houses, and one additional with that spider symbol, two banners in the center of the table featuring the crowns of the King and Queen of Arvum, three with the closed smile of Whisper House beside the King and Queen, and one left blank for an unmarked guest.

Ainsley has joined the Semi-circular Bar.

It's the appointed hour and there's Monique, sheathed in aeterna and jewels, her hair pinned up artfully like some fiery goddess come down to earth. The slits in the skirt of the gown expose almost all of her endless toned legs, and those gorgeous legs carry her alongside the Archlector of Gild, one Blessed Etienne, whose dignified arm she arrives upon. It's hard to say who sparkles more tonight, the Minx or her escort. "Look at this, Archlector! My breath is stolen. Can you imagine? We need a ballroom this spectacular at Greenmarch. Shall we find the hosts?"

2 House Velenosa Guards arrives, following Lorenzo.

The ball is for the peerage, and Quenia is a member of such. She stands tall, holds her head high, and makes her way into the ball room. Largely, her expression is unreadable, save for a small amount of uncertainty. But, even then that flits away. But, rather than be her usual social butterfly self, she skulks gracefully to any shadowed corner that she can find, to hide herself away and blend in lest someone catch sight of her.

Duarte arrives escorting the decked out and good-smelling Rinel - who is absolutely stunning in every regard. He looks as proud walking in with her as he might were he to walk in with any princess. And why not? They are mid conversation. "...I don't know about Countess-Consort just yet, Mistress Rinel, but I suppose time will tell."

Ainsley makes his way in, pausing at the door briefly to look over the interior. The prince briefly looks overwhelmed and heads to the semi-circular bar. As if to escape before anyone makes him be social...

Rinel checked wits at difficulty 15, rolling 7 higher.

The host, Bliss Whisper herself, is standing in front of one of those chairs at the table of the honor with the Whisper smile in front of it, talking quietly with Elgana, at the unmarked chair beside her, until she starts hearing the announcements for the other guests come in. She turns her head toward the crowd as they enter, lifting her hand and smiling, before she motions Elgana with her head. "Come," she says more loudly. "Let's spend some time with those who were so enthusiastic to be here on time." There's a grin on her face as she does so, stepping around the table for now and looking for anyone who might catch her eye.

"It is quite spectacular" Etienne comments to Monique, "If every estate were equipped with something like this then they'd just have to make them even grander." he sweeps them around the room, heading towards her indicated destination.

Quenia has joined the Balcony.

Rinel says, "Well, I'd be /more/ than happy to check the laws on consanguinuity, my good Count. A taste in one's great-aunt is certainly /unusual/, but I cannot say for certain that it is /illegal/. Perhaps the Archlector of Lord Limerance might be of service."

Grazia is all in umbra, with glittering red beadwork that gives her dresss almost surprisingly glitterly. She looks very self-possessed, very regal with her perfect posture, spine straight and shoulders back and head held high. She absently brushes her fingers over her swan ring, then drifts in the direction of the bar. "Prince Ainsley, dear brother-in-law," she offers by means of greeting.

Gwenna enters among the small crowd that has gathered for the event, though pauses a few steps after the entrance, stepping to the side in order to ake the whole of the room in. Each exquisite detail seems to be briefly studied, the smile on her face perhaps betraying a touch of wonder as she looks over them. Dressed in a pale hued seasilk gown instead of the leathers typical of House Redrain, she espies her cousin Elgana and offers a cheerful wave in the other princess' direction before glancing around for where to sit. As well, she offers a respectful dip of her head toward Bliss, the charming hostess.

"Are you suggesting the Lady Ennettia is my great aunt?" Duarte asks with a lifted brow, looking aside to his date.

Grazia has joined the Semi-circular Bar.

Mayir Grayhope is -- here! Does Grayhope have a contract? He is certainly not a member of the peerage. But he must have some reason to be here. Or else he wouldn't be here. Right? In any event, he is making his way towards the bar, spying the woman there. "Well," he says, eyeing the umbra. "If it isn't my favorite duchess inquisitor."

Mayir has joined the Semi-circular Bar.

Gwenna has joined the Round guest table draped in lace and silk.

Gianna stands attentively near the entrance, inclining her head to those who make eye contact. The gold-clad Whisper arches an eyebrow as Mayir appears, a quizzical expression flickering briefly over her features.

Stepping out for a moment to take a message, Cullen returns with a vaguely perplexed look, but at least he's not clanking around in armor. Glancing around the room, his coppery brows furrow and while dressed well enough, it's far from umbra and aeterna, but in his usual more pragmatic fashion. Lips pressed together and deciding that the best tactic is to find somewhere to loiter and observe, so he does precisely that.

Cullen has joined the Balcony.

Rinel looks at Duarte with the face of absolute innocence. "We were speaking of the Lady Ennettia? Oh, I must have misheard my lordship."

"I don't think we've been formally introduced," Monique says to Bliss, fetching up before her with Etienne at her side. "But I couldn't possibly mistake you for anyone else but the jewel of the Nox. Prince Tyrval sends his begrudging regards, but also, I think, his deepest respect. This place," she looks around breathlessly, her crimson hair catching in the lights, "is /incredible/! May I present to you my escort, the Archlector of Gild, Blessed Etienne?"

Elgana's dark gaze lifts and casts out then as guests start to gather, her smile bright and brilliant. "Of course," she says to Bliss as she makes to follow after Bliss. That floofy blue gown at least doesn't make it too hard to navigate but it definitely causes people to drift naturally out of her way as she moves in that ball gown trailing at the side of Bliss. When she spies Gwenna she gives a bright smile and finger waggle before her gaze darts off. And then she spies... Mayir and she just chuckles, nose crinkling slightly. Rinel and Duarte also get a little wave but she largely follows Bliss' movements and directions.

Of course the shark in human form that is Grazia would pick out Ainsley from a mile away. Scenting blood in the water. Or a wolf sensing the weakest of the herd. Ainsley lifts his head to smile toward Grazia, saying, "Duchess. Lovely to see you." And then look! There's Mayir to distract her. Surely Ainsley can slide away down the bar while the Grayhope catches her attention.

Coral, a dour formal thrall arrives, following Karadoc.

Coral, a dour formal thrall have been dismissed.

"Quite alright, Loveliest Scholar. I know how distracted you must be given the events of today." Duarte says with all due commisseration to Rinel. He waggles fingers at Elgana in hello. "Would you like something to drink, Rinel? Or a place to sit?"

The balcony. Quenia finds the balcony. That place will do nicely, and so she slips onto it, ducking most of the crowd as she does. She grabs a glass of wine on her way, but looks like she might already be well into her cups from the faint flush on her face.

"Your brother is very dutiful," Grazia informs Ainsley helpfully before glancing curiously to Mayir. "Ah, yes. A Grayhope. Again, my condolences on your family member. Quite the tragedy that. Quite. I believe the remains have been returned to you."

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

Zoraida, a dead-eyed Apprentice Whisper, Alaric arrive, following Lumen.

Also bedecked in umbra, and with the added touch of a theme of peacock feathers - and really, that theme is hitting someone over the head with them, between the skirt and the painting that has been done around her face to accentuate her pewter eyes - Bliss stands comfortably as Monique approaches. She gives a soft laugh at the woman's words, saying, "The Minx of the Marches, yes? Oh, I heard all about you when I was in the Oathlands. I am a bit disappointed the Crown Prince doesn't seem able to make it," she says with some honesty and a light smile, "But I do accept his regards. He is just bitter about my success lately, I think." She is entirely too amused by this whole conversation. "I do love the Whisper Hall and everything about it." Then she turns to Etienne and dips her head in greeting to the man. "Blessed, it is an honor to finally meet you. I've heard much about you. Have the both of you met Princess Elgana Redrain?"

Lorenzo makes his way into the beautifully appointed ballroom, giving warm smiles and cheerful waves to those he recognizes, including Bliss and Elgana. His eyes light up as he spots Gwenna over at a table. "Princess Gwenna," he says, approaching her and kissing her cheek in greeting. "You look amazing, as always. The color of that dress suits you very well."

Lorenzo has joined the Round guest table draped in lace and silk.

Niklas comes sweeping into the room with Princess Sabella on his arm. The two of them are dressed to match, a study in violet, with Niklas wearing a fine suit all in Kennex purples with white aeterna accents, including a full on white aeterna cape. It's pretty disco, guys. Sabella, on the other hand, is stunning in a violet gown with matching slippers. It's styled to bring out her everything. Upon entry Niklas offers Gianna a bow, complete with a flourish of his cape. "Nightingale. Always a delight to see you. Payments should start this week, so do buy yourself something sweet and alcoholic." Then he's moving toward the bar, pausing only to smile first to Monique, "Lady Greenmarch." Oh, how he stresses her house name, as if to prove he knows it! "Champion Bliss Whisper. Good to see you again, triumphant even without a blade at hand." He narrows his eyes at her, then amends, "Well, in hand. I have no idea what might be at hand."

"Oh, I think I will take the cider, my lord," Rinel says to Duarte, still on his arm. She looks around the room, not attempting to disguise her awe. "I have never been to the Whisper House before. I can see its appeal."

"He is." Ainsley agrees to Grazia, stopping while she's looking at him, but the moment she turns to speak with Mayir he begins to creep down toward the other end of the bar. Creep, creep creep

Selene is tucked away somewhere in the back, behind the main tables and the places for the various guests and Whisper hosts. She's actually being a little inconspicuous (as much as her nature allows), as well as pouring over some detail of... well, something yet to come, gently explaining some instruction or another to a junior Whisper apprentice who stands beside a cart with what can presume are refreshments or drinks or something yet to be sent out. Eventually, she sends the poor dear out to do his duty, sending the lad to tour the room and finding the freedom to slip forward and mingle some. "Hello dears, welcome, welcome," she adds, albeit only in an echo of Bliss. Rather, she picks out a key figure or two to greet. She actually picks out Quenia, which means abandonning the head table for a little (no formal sitting yet!) and goes to track down Quenia. "Marquessa, I'm glad to see that you could make it. I hope you can use this evening to put some of your present troubles aside, hmm?"

Elgana pauses when Bliss does, a curious look on her features. "The Minx of the Marches?" she asks and then she blinks. "Oh! I've heard tales," she laughs and dips into a curtsy then to the pair. "It is a pleasure to finally put a face to the title." A bit of motion catches her attention and she smiles brightly as she returns that cheerful wave to Lorenzo before turning back to the pair that she and Bliss are speaking with.

Etienne returns the greeting to Bliss. "The honor is mine. I didn't know my reputation proceeded me, I had little doubt about hers." he says referring to Monique, his smile friendly and wide. "This is truly a sparkling bit of celebration you've got here. I don't believe I've met Princess Elgana, though perhaps, I saw her at a tournament the other day? Was that you?" he asks Elgana.

Gianna's lips curve up into a smile as Niklas addresses her; it doesn't quite reach her eyes, but it's quicker than it usually is. "Thank you, Lord Niklas. Princess Sabella. Good evening to you both. I assure you, I don't drink my profits. I'll buy something pretty instead."

Gwenna seems to nearly light up when she sees Lorenzo approach, his kind words drawing a wide smile. "You look as handsome as always as well," is replied in kind along with a quick dip of her head. Glancing briefly at her dress, there's a faint laugh. "I do favor white and pale green, so I suppose am a bit predictable there. Thank you for the compliment. You'll join me, I hope?" Brows arch with the query before she looks quickly to an empty seat beside her.

Duarte chuckles and pats Rinel's hand. "Neither have I, love. It's quite impressive." He escorts Rinel to the bar and places an order for two ciders. Two non-alcoholic ciders.

Karadoc, entrance quiet - clothes screaming, enters the ballroom on his own. Hands tucked behind his back as he sketches a faint, courtly bow to the room. Soberly, he apporaches a refreshment tables in order to arm himself with a glass of wine. Two, actually. One for each hand. Either for himself - or for the next person that passes. So very prepared. He then retreats towards the balcony.

Rinel has joined the Semi-circular Bar.

Slowing their pace for a proper entrance as they cross the threshold into the Elysian, Alaric and Lumen smile and speak in quiet tones arm-in-arm. Singing Bliss's praises, no doubt! The latter wears a gown of gold and yellow saffron with a mermaid silhouette while the former, in a display of true generosity and grace common to his character, changed at the last minute so they both wouldn't be caught wearing the same thing. What a catastrophe that might have been!

"Mistress Gianna! You are a vision in that dress!" Sabella greets her brightly, keeping a hand on Niklas' arm as she beams at the other woman. "And Lady Monique, I feel like I have only just left your shop, it's good to see you again. Champion Bliss, we always seem to be running into each other at large events, someday we must do so when we can have an actual conversation!"

"He does tend to fall to the petulant when something he doesn't like happens," Monique laughs at Bliss's observation, tilting her copper-bright tiara'd head in complete agreement. She turns to Elgana, sweeping an elegant curtsey, sending the wisps of aeterna to swirl around her legs. "Princess Redrain. All true, I assure you, and then some. A lovely escort for a lovely host. You two will put us all to shame. But we ought not to keep you to ourselves. Ah, Lord Niklas! Princess Sabella! Is this not a triumph? I'm so happy to run into you again so soon."

"I have been to a great many as of late, but I fear it was not me," Elgana replies to Etienne as she drifts somewhat closer to Bliss giving the Whisper a curious look before she adds. "And I fear I missed the last one Bliss was in and of course it had to be the most fantastic and dramatic of fights." That gets a sigh from the Redrain. "I try to make it to every single one of her duels and matches but sometimes duty comes before pleasure." To the pair she offers, "I hope you both have a lovely time at the ball. Bliss has worked so very hard on this labor and I know it should be the talk of the city for many days and nights to come for she never does a single thing at half-measure." Turning back to Bliss she grins and winks.

Quenia is standing on the balcony with Cullen now. She turns her attention to Selene when the Radiant addresses her. She inclines her head respectfully. "Radiant Selene," she greets warmly. "I thought I would come and see how long I last. I'm. . . not in a partying mood really, but I felt I should get out and be seen, at the very least, and not close myself off in my home." She looks down at her glass of wine when she says this, not quite able to meet Selene's gaze.

"Thank you, Princess," Gianna tells Sabella. "You look lovely, too. Your gown is beautiful." She pauses, gaze flicking to the fish. She looks like she might be about to ask a question, but she doesn't. The pair likely has quite a few people to greet.

"Ah, but it is near at hand, Lord Kennex," Bliss says to Niklas, turning her hip a little and showing the rubicund rapier that still hangs there, even now, her right as a Champion. She smiles at the man and gives him a wink, saying, "And always triumphant, even when I lose." She dips her head after toward Lorenzo, and then to Etienne says, "I do not believe she managed to make it to my last duel. I think I know who you are confusing her with, though," she adds with a little laugh. And gives no explanation. She then adds, "Oh, Blessed, we are just starting. The real entertainment hasn't even begun. In fact - where's the food?" she wondes with a turn of her head. Sabella gets a quick grin. "We really should. Let's arrange some time to talk. I've been told by everyone we should be friends." Then back to Monique. "He does. But I still adore the man ever so much. And I think, deep down in his heart, he adores me, too. He just wishes I'd cheated at my Folly. Something about winning it honorably has set him off lately."

Rinel takes a drink from Duarte with a thankful murmur. "So very many people."

Alaric is on arm candy duty today, not that he seems to mind in the slightest. As is traditional, the King is smiling brightly and positively radiating conviviality upon entry, and being in the Whisper House seems to take it all up a notch. "I have to concede you wear it better than I would," he murmurs to Lumen as they stroll in and his guards fan out to cover the ballroom. "Well, this is quite the delightful event already."

Then Bliss turns her head and winks back at Elgana, smiling as the woman seems to just be chattering about her, and leans her head to murmur something into her ear quietly.

As the room begins to fill in and guests find their seats, a number of Apprentice Whispers, each dressed in a simple but clean servant's uniform, begin to weave their way through the room. On their hands, resting balanced on their fingers, are silver trays covered in hors d'oeuvres, appetizers, and other finger foods from across the realms. If the ones that are more commonly found North seem to center around the Redrain area, or those near Velenosa's banner find they have spicier fare, is anyone really surprised by this? Along with the food, drinks of various natures - wines, beers, whiskeys, vodkas and yes, even juices and milk are also brought around to any who might want them, as the conversations around the tables in the ballroom begin to grow.

Sabella has joined the Semi-circular Bar.

Niklas has joined the Semi-circular Bar.

Through the doors comes the rather elegant - if not modestly understated - figure of Amanda Whisper. The blonde is dressed in a dove gray wool dress, covering her from neck to toe, though leaving her shoulders and arms bare. She holds a polite smile as she takes a moment to take in the crowd.

2 Kennex corsairs arrives, following Octavia.

Karadoc has joined the Semi-circular Bar.

Niklas smiles to Bliss. "Oh, I assumed so. No one who puts on the show you do could ever be anything but." But everyone has people to see and he moves on toward the bar, first holding out a seat for his betrothed, then sliding into his own. He looks down to the others, offering Prince Ainsley a nod, "Good to see you again, your highness," and then Rinel a grin. He pulls an over the top grimace at something she says.

Gianna narrowly avoided being one of those apprentices charged with toting food around. Instead, she circulates amongst the attendees, welcoming various guests. Ever the opportunist, she makes certain she eventually wheels in the direction of Lumen and Alaric. "Your Highness, good evening," she greets the king. "Lumen, thank you so much for that piano you gave the College. There's been nothing but compliments." She pauses, glancing toward Sabella and Niklas. "Well. Almost nothing but compliments."

Ainsley looks toward the entrance just in time to see Lumen and Alaric arrive. He looks about and then starts to try and slowly creep his way out to the balcony, but then he's caught by Niklas. A glance is given between Niklas, the balcony, and his Whisper Cousin. He says, "Oh, Good to see you, Lord Niklas." And then he's starting to creep toward the balcony again.

"Oh, I know how that is," Selene replies, understandingly. "Please, and I do mean this, do not push yourself. We're thrilled to have you here with us, but I hate the idea of a party that feels like an imposition." The words are quite gentle, really. She even reaches out a light hand toward Quenia's own where it rests on that seemingly fascinating wine cup. "Though there is certainly something to that. We can be our own worst enemies in times of hardship. Anyway, I just wanted to say hello, and let you know that we're here for you, hmm? If there's anything you need, don't hestitate, it really is no bother."

Wait, Lumen and Alaric arrived? Bliss turns around, with Elgana on her arm, and lifts her hand in a warm greeting toward them, a smile spreading across her face. Thankfully, there is plenty of seating - even with this many people, there is so much room in the Elysian Ballroom - so the movement of people doesn't seem to be bothering the Whisper. She turns to Elgana and says, "Shall we go give His Majesty our regards?" And then she reaches over as a Whisper walks by, plucking something on a toothpick off of the tray, and takes a bite from it as she begins to walk.

Etienne watches the food emerge and distribute with some element of fascination. Yet remains a capable companion, which in this circumstance is remaining still unless bid and making conversation. "So many faces to keep together, I'm afraid I'm still adjusting to the sheer size of this city."

Quenia glances up at Selene and offers her a faint glimmer of a smile. She nods her head again to the Radiant, saying, "Thank you."

As Monique steps back from the host, her emerald eyes wander the room and land on Quenia. She leans in to murmur something to Etienne quietly, and then starts to pull the handsome blonde away in the direction of the wallflower Igniseri. "Marquessa," her greeting and curtsey is formal but her eyes are anything but, expressive as somber, mournful emeralds. "I won't offer platitudes but I'm here for you." In fact, in the middle of all this, she opens her arms to a woman she has long considered a friend.

"Yes. Well, it was to be anticipated." Duarte replies to Rinel, keeping the second cider for himself. He clinks it to hers. "Perhaps you should go mingle and meet new friends."

Elgana leans in to that whisper from Bliss and then she blinks and laughs at whatever was shared, a small nod given as she says to Bliss, "Quite, but that's alright." As Bliss turns, Elgana does as well, her eyes going a touch wide as her smile grows. "Of course," she says to Bliss. "It would be rude otherwise." She gives a polite murmur and nod to those nearest them as she waits for the Whisper to lead the way. As a server passes she snags a glass of rum and a tiny toothpick'd morsel from another.

"I thought you looked glorious," Lumen crinkles her up her nose sweetly. "Too glorious. It'd be /cruel/ to steal the show." She brings up a hand to pat lightly at Alaric's upper arm before extending in a languid, vague gesture towards Bliss wherever that Champion of Whispers might be. "Shall we pay homage to the grand orchestrator?" She 'asks' with a slow blink of her lashes and a subtle upward tilt of her chin. "Oh, your Majesty. Are you familiar with Mistress Gianna? Her efforts with the new Bard College are almost ally anybody's talking about these days." (Or is she gesturing right at Ainsley? What is she saying? Can anybody read lips? Is she saying something about pinching him?)

Rinel smiles at Duarte and pats his shoulder. "My lord is too kind." She leans in to murmur something.

1 Grayson House Guards, Thalia, a beautiful lady-in-waiting arrive, following Roxana.

Sabella has left the Semi-circular Bar.

Sabella has joined the Semi-circular Bar.

It's not often that one spots the Chief Magistrate at an event like this, given how reserved she can be outside of her official capacities. Her presence is probably the fault of her not-present assistant shoving her out the door and demanding that she stop micromanaging. As soon as she enters the ballroom, Octavia steps to the side of the door and looks around inquisitively, looking for familiar faces and offering nods to each as she finds them, then seeking out alcohol. She's definitely going to need liquid sociality if she's going to spend time here.

Alaric regards Gianna appraisingly upon her approach, smiling regally with a nod at Lumen's remark. "Good evening to you," he replies smoothly to Gianna. "It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Mistress Gianna. Indeed I've heard so much already about your Bard's College project; it sounds like it will be quite the splendid addition to the capital's cultural life. I wish your endeavor the best of success," he declares supportively.

"That it would be," Bliss says to Elgana as she walks with the Princess right toward Alaric and Lumen, giving a nod to a couple of the King's Own that she seems to recognize and may have accidentally almost walked into before. "Oh, darling," she says to Lumen, "I have yet to ever have a show be properly stolen from me. But I thank you for your concern. You have met Princess Elgana, yes?" she asks, introducing the woman that's on her arm warmly. With Gianna being introduced into the conversation as well, she smiles at her and gives her a dip of the head, a studying look in her eyes.

Amanda spots Alaric and Lumen beside her. Her smile goes a few degrees warmer. "Your majesty," she says, with a dip of her head. "Lumen, love," she greets. Then she looks right over to Bliss and Elgana. "Softest. Your highness." She's all polite smiles and titles!

"Thank you, Your Majesty," Gianna tells Alaric, a smile curving her lips. It doesn't quite reach her eyes, but it's pleased. Very, very pleased. She looks to Bliss and inclines her head. "Softest. Everything looks wonderful. And hello again, Princess Elgana. It's good to see you."

Ah, and isn't that convenient. Just as Selene is required to go and return to her rounds, Monique appears, both ensuring that she will not be leaving Quenia alone (not that she leaves quite yet!) and allowing her to make one of her stops without going anywhere! Of course, she steps aside to give them room. "Lady Monique, lovely to see you about as always. Isn't all this quite lovely?" Here, she shifts away from the prior gloomy topic, perhaps for everyone's sake. "You know I'm very glad to see you both here. I know you've both had some curiousity about the House, so I hope the evening should go a long way toward demonstrating our very best. Bliss has really outdone herself, I think."

And then there's yet another person who finds her hideaway perch. Quenia glances over at Monique when she is greeted, and offers her a wan smile. "Lady Monique," she offers just as formally, but takes the other woman's meaning quite well. She steps onto the offered hug and accepts it, squeezing Monique back just a bit. After all, she knew the man too. "Thank you," she says to Monique. "I was just telling Lord Cullen, whom I've only just met, how we were friends." She nods over in Cullen's direction once she steps out of Monique's hugging arms.

"It is always a pleasure to see you Your Majesty," Elgana says to Alaric once she and Bliss reach the king; the Redrain giving a curtsy, rising and giving a warm smile then to Lumen. "And a pleasure to see you as well Whisper Lumen." Attention once more snagged, she offers Amanda that same warm smile and a nod in greeting before she turns to Gianna. "Ah! Gianna, it is so lovely to see you. I haven't seen you since your night at the Spirits - which was so lovely by the way - but it seems you have been quite busy. I should come pay the Bards College a visit, perhaps get a tour and see how I can lend my support to it. I am, if anything, a lover of the arts."

There's a chime that rings in the room, and Bliss turns her head to listen to it, blinking a few times before she clears her throat. "We're going to need to clear the floor here, I think. Normally I would be the one doing this kind of performance, but I've been working with one of our apprentices, who is learning some rather exotic dancing styles that I simply /must/ learn how to do myself to incorporate into my duels. Or my shows. Anything, really, I just like ribbons," she states, firmly, before she motions nearer whatever tables are closest, everyone still up and mingling. And why shouldn't they be? It's a ball, not a banquet! Then she turns her head and smiles at Amanda. "It's good to see you here, as well, Amanda. You've been so active lately and we have so little time to talk, it is one of my largest regrets."

"I'll be returning to the Spirits for another performance soon," Gianna assures Elgana. "Lord Arik commissioned me for two performances, after all. I've got something new for the second one. You should absolutely come to the College for a tour. There's not much there yet, but we're slowly acquiring what we need. Soon, there will be a bit of a tour around the Compact in search of instrument makers." Her gaze flicks to Amanda when the woman nears; she inclines her head to the other Whisper.

Offering no resistance, Etienne is pulled along by Monique. He makes valiant attempts at introducing himself when appropriate, producing genuinely warm greetings and other functions similar to his regular duties of meeting new people in quick succession, with the added advantage of having a guide.

More food of different styles is brought out as the Ballroom begins to fill, and suddenly, the clear note of a flute begins to cut through it, the apprentices that are doing the serving taking this as their cue and beginning to spread away from the center. Soon, there is an empty dance floor in the middle, and on the balcony, a small band begins to play. It is a simple thing - a soft, enticing melody on the flute, as a slow drumbeat begins to come out.



With that music emerges the first performer of the night: A young woman dressed in a colorful outfit of flowing, soft silks, holding a baton with a long ribbon wrapped tightly around the end of it. The ribbon is about a foot wide, made of silk, and extends in a gradient of color from a deep purple near the connection point to a bright green at the end, passing through reds, blues and yellows along the way. She begins to dance slowly to the time of the drumbeat, her torso twisting first, followed by the movements of her legs and heels, each moving in pattern, so that the movements seem to flow from her torso and into the rest of her. The woman expertly keeps her balance through this, and as the music picks up in tempo, starts to make dramatic, swaying motions with the baton, slow arcs around herself as she keeps up the strident pace, changing directions, dipping low, sitting and spinning her legs in front of her to generate momentum to stand again without using her arms.



After about a minute of this, she releases the end of the ribbon, and it unfurls from the baton in a colorful wash of silk. Now each movement is predicted not with her shoulders first, but with small movements of baton that send the silk streaming around her. Never does it touch the floor, instead undulating in the air in front of her, or in arcs around her body, each of these movements deliberate and expert, the ribbon taking on shape and movement each time. Waves, circles, where one color ends another begins. And then when it seems to be coming in danger of repeating, the flute trilling as the woman spins the baton again and again in a slow circle around her body, the performance ends with her wrapping it loosely around herself with a finally spin, never letting it tangle, before she draws it to the side and lets it hit the floor. With a deep bow, she retreats off the floor.

2 House Velenosa Guards, Dreya, an older woman in Velenosan livery arrive, following Saoirse.

Coral, a dour formal thrall have been dismissed.

Monique's hug for Quenia is warm and deep, a true Minx Hug, except she doesn't steal anything when she does it. She murmurs something low to the Marquessa before stepping back, gesturing to Etienne. "Have you met the Archlector of Gild, Marquessa? Blessed Etienne, who has been a deep solace for me. He is wise beyond his very young years." She turns aside to greet Cullen, and there's another hug with /probably/ no stealing. "Cullen. Handsome as always."

Alaric is starting to become inundated with Princesses and Whispers (again) but shows absolutely no signs of protest about being the center of attention. "Softest Bliss, thank you for arranging tonight's affair. And Princess Elgana, how nice to see you again as well." He smiles with a hint of curiosity at Amanda as Zelda leans in to mention something. "And you're Mistress Amanda, it would seem. Lovely to finally make your acquaintance in person beyond the written word." And then there's a big dancing performance and a whole baton thing, and that captures the royal attention for the duration. At its conclusion, he applauds wholeheartedly. "Well, it's -certainly- delightful now," he observes to Lumen.

Ainsley has left the Semi-circular Bar.

Ainsley detours fro mthe balcony and skates around the perimeter of the room, headed for the doors.

Lumen eases off of Alaric's arm to firstly dip in a vertical bow to Elgana as Bliss introduces her and secondly to procure both herself and her royal arm candy beverages. (Oh, is she supposed to be the arm candy? Nah.) "Her highness and I have exchanged notes but little more. It's so nice to see you, too," Lumen gives Elgana closed-mouth smile while Apprentices see to it that Alaric's thirst -- or his taster's, and then his -- is properly quenched. "Amanda, thank you so much for your assistance the other day. I'm afraid I'm not quite satisfied YET, but you were a darling." she says casually, sharing a conspiratorial look with the other whisper before elaborating to those closeby, "I'm to be in Lord Niklas's new play and I've very, very nervous and Amanda here is so sweet."

Quenia glances back to Selene, and takes a moment to look around the room at her words. She nods her head to the Radiant. "I had intended to come back again this evening, since there was nothing that I knew that might interrupt a conversation, but then I heard about the ball and thought it might be better to come and see some of what the House provides. A contract is still very much in consideration, and I do intend to finish that conversation I started last evening." She takes a sip of her wine just then, and it is a measured sip and not the gulp she was considering earlier.

"Oh, Bliss, you flatterer," Amanda says, that polite smile going just a touchy smirky. "I'd say I am not difficult to find, but, then, finding me isn't the issue, is it?" she asks. She turns then to Gianna, and offers a polite nod. "Gianna," she says, simply. Back to Alaric, she gives a brighter smile, and a dip of a head. "I imagine, your highness, you've more trouble putting faces to names than anyone else has with you. Still, it /is/ a pleasure to truly meet you, face to face. I am quite excited to be working for you," she says. Then brows lift. "Oh, what sweet thing have I done?" Amanda asks Lumen. She does quiet, then, to turn and watch the performer.

Saoirse makes no show of being cold when she enters, but she MUST be. The outfit, the Lycene-ness of her person, there's just NO WAY she didn't shiver the whole way over here. She spots the king, gives a quick tilt of her chin -- sup, majesty -- but doesn't make her way over to the crowded area. Instead, the Velenosan princess moves across the room in Duarte's general direction.

And in comes Monique, the Minx of cousin hugging! Cullen makes a soft 'urk' sound and squeezes in return with a laugh. "Hello Monique, you're looking splendid tonight. You do not how to dress to impress, that is quite certain. I hope you're doing well. Ah, and there's the Archlector," he murmurs over her shoulder at Etienne with a wave before stepping out of her embrace. "Sorry, I'm kind of holing up here, there's...an awful lot of people down there. It's fairly intimidating."

Monique turns to Selene, deeply inclining the bright copper fire of her head. "Radiant, this place takes my breath away. I was telling the Archlector that I could only dream of something so spectacular at Greenmarch. In fact, I've been looking for a place to host the Gala I am planning, though it is some time off yet... but," her eyes travel the room, "perhaps we might speak later, privately?"

"I look forward to your second performance," Elgana assures Gianna with a wink. "You perform so well even for the rowdy Northern crowd. I shall send you a missive soon and perhaps we can talk about arranging that tour." When the performance starts Elgana stills and turns her attention to that in quiet appreciation of the skill the performer displays. When it ends she adds her applause in show of appreciation. "That was lovely. I've never seen such a display before." She grins at Bliss, nudging the Whisper gently. "You've truly gone all out tonight!" She lifts her glass of rum to the Whisper before she takes a long sip.

Octavia scoops up a drink as she heads around the edge of the room, tipping back half of it before turning to watch the performance curiously. Her expression doesn't move except as necessary to finish that drink and replace it from a passing tray, but she does applaud lightly once it's complete, and then continue on her way towards her target. Niklas must hear some sort of music of doom in his ears as the big sister shark approaches.

"Thank you, your Majesty. I believe events such as this are absolutely needed, a place where all Houses can come together and truly enjoy the company of one another." There's a slight ripple of murmur among some of the guests, but the Whisper doesn't seem to pay it any mind as it comes, instead focusing her attention on Amanda with a laugh. "Oh, no, darling, no flattery at all. I recognize those who put in the work - and you are a great asset." She laughs and then adds, "And yes, I suppose getting me out is the big thing." She turns her head, nudging back to Elgana, a glass of wine having found its way into her hand as she takes a drink slowly, turning her head to look out at the performance. "Alright," she says. "I think it's going to be time to get the dancing going soon."

Ainsley slips out, escaping before anyone can stop him.

Planchet, an unrelenting valet leaves, following Ainsley.

Etienne nods and returns the wave during Cullen's cousin greeting, hearing his comment he agrees. "Yes, many, many people." doing his best to navigate the growing population of people.

Gianna inclines her head to Elgana in agreement, though when the dancer appears, she pauses to watch the performance. And when it finishes, she applauds along with the rest. Spying Saiorse's arrival, she inclines her head to the woman before moving off to secure a flute of wine for herself.

Selene glances from Monique toward some of those she introduces - familiar and otherwise. "Ah Lord Cullen. My fellow up-and-comer, good to see you again," she greets him first, if not seemingly in any structured order. "Archlector Etienne, I don't think we've had the pleasure. You know, I was having a conversation with Legate Orazio a week or two back and we'd both discussed the idea of the House doing a bit more for the Faith - being that you are our largest patrons outside the Crown itself. You knew that of course, but one thing I had suggested to him was focusing a little on those elements of the faith that mesh with our House's own virtues, and Gild certainly came up." Maybe behind Jayus. But she won't tell him that! "That said, I'm as far from a priest or theologian as they make people, so I could benefit from some advisement in the matter." Then looking back between Monique and Quenia, she nods. "I am sure we can all handle the business-business later, in private, yes. For now just enjoy yourselves. But details aside, I'm sure, Lady Monique, that we could arrange something like this for you."

Quenia glances over at Etienne when Monique introduces him. She shakes her head, saying softly. "We have not met, no. It is a pleasure to meet you, Archlector. I am Marquessa Quenia Igniseri." She nods respectfully in Etienne's direction.

Lumen ooh's and ahh's appropriately, clapping lightly into the heel of her hand so as not to disturb her newly acquired glass of wine. The applause is as much, it seems, for Bliss as it is for the performer.

Niklas glances up. Something is... terribly wrong. Hairs on the back of his neck are standing up. Ancient prey instincts are kicking in. He can almost feel the approach of a great white shark. He turns and smiles to his sister. "Octavia! I thought I heard your sweet voice. So good to see you! And so soon after the last time I saw you!"

With that performance done, it is Bliss who turns to her partner as the band on the balcony begins to tune their instruments, the strings starting to hum along with each other. She turns to Elgana, holding her hand out for the woman to take and saying something that is inaudible over the din of the music. When this is accepted, she takes the Princess' hand, and wanders out to the open floor in the center. And with that, she turns her body to Elgana, one hand out to the side, the other to the woman's waist, the two ready to be the first ones to dance. Her gown of dark umbra and peacock feathers stands out dramatically from the ivory and gold of the floor, as does Elgana's layered dress of blue silks. As the tuning stops, she whispers something to the woman, before beginning to waltz.



As she does, some of the other Whispers in the room stand as well - many offering hands to unattended nobility - and the dancing for the night has begun.

"A pleasure to meet you as well Marquessa" Etienne returns in greeting. "May Gild guide your journey" he offers, with an accompanying smile.

Harlen have been dismissed.

"Dancing," Amanda echoes, her smile going back to polite. There's a stray glance, to Lumen. "Any chance you know anyone as abysmal at dancing as I am?" she asks, quietly.

Alaric accepts his drink with genuine enthusiasm and with an appreciative nod to Lumen commences the unhurried process of making it disappear. "The crown and the contingent of King's Own tend to have a very identifying effect, you could say," he replies wryly to Amanda. He regards his glass of vodka, lifting it lightly before turning to Lumen. "I'll need to have three more of these before I believe you being very, very nervous about anything," he deadpans. Saoirse manages to make a brief bit of eye contact and receives a little wiggle of said vodka back. Sup, orgstancer-in-chief. "Well, I will do my part by enjoying all the company I can," he quips back to Bliss before she's off to dance.

"Ah, Whisper Selene! Greetings. I feel quite remiss as I have been intending to come to the Whisper house to have discussions with you and some of the other Whispers so as to be less...socially awkward?" Cullen admits from his spot on the balcony, dipping his head in at Selene with a smile.

There are habits that are hard to break, like screwing with your little brothers. Octavia is unfazed when Niklas turns around, though she seems a little annoyed. A move to flick his earlobe just has to redirect slightly, and she chastises, "I haven't said anything yet. Hello, little brother. I see you're the life of the party as usual." Flick. She then turns her attention to his betrothed and offers, "Princess Sabella, it's good to see you well once more."

With no hesitation at all, Elgana takes that offered hand from Bliss and ventures forth to the dance floor, the blue of her skirts swishing gently as the Redrain moves. She leans in to listen to the whisper from the Whisper and gives a nod, her smile growing a touch as she turns to face Bliss in a whirl of those skirts, the glittering stones catching the light. A curtsy is given to her partner before the dance starts, those dark eyes locked upon Bliss' and then the waltz begins.

Duarte has joined the Round guest table draped in lace and silk.

Duarte has left the Round guest table draped in lace and silk.

Duarte is lingering near the bar with R...oh...by himself! But he does spot Saoirse heading right for him!

"Wonderful," Monique's smile for Selene's words is practically beatific. "You've made my evening, though I'll say it was already made by the performances and the exceptional company."

"Of course, Radiant," Quenia tells Selene, offering the best smile she can manage at the moment - which isn't entirely the best she can do, but it's something at least! She turns away from Selene and Monique for the moment to privately address Cullen on the balcony.

Niklas shifts in his seat to look down toward the others at the bar. "Captain Grayhope, Duchess, Lord Karadoc, may I introduce my eldest sister, who is currently flicking my ear repeatedly, Lady Octavia Kennex. As you might guess from her mature bearing and professional conduct, she is the Chief Magistrate of the Crown court and as such- okay, stop it! I can't even feel it anymore." Nik wards off more flicks and rubs at his ear. "Now it's going to swell up and I'm going to look all weird for my wedding."

Bliss checked charm + performance at difficulty 15, rolling 47 higher.

"That is most definitely something we can help with!" Selene informs Cullen, with a bit more of a grin than a smile. "Tonight might be a rather good place to start. After all, you have the place packed with both a who's-who of the peerage and, I would say, a positively top-notch lineup of Whisper talent, all of whom will very happily let you practice conversation in their general directions; or perhaps even share a dance." Having encouraged him some, she dips her head toward the pair of Monique and Quenia. "Well, I'll leave you two to it. Enjoy yourselves, dears!"

Etienne takes a hint from the collection of new activity in the room, and a variety of clues, and steps to face Monique, "Lady Monique, would you care to join the dance?" he stands ready to begin, already scouting a path on to the floor.

With a tilt of her head, Lumen gives Amanda a look of gentle faux-reproach. It soon extends to Alaric. "I'm SURE his Majesty is no more accusing me of false modesty than I would you, Amanda." Her own beverage disappears at a much more leisurely speed, perhaps destined never to be as dancing commences and she sets it aside on a passing tray. Now free, her hand extends to Alaric. "Well, we've got to show her how it's done," she indicates Amanda and the dance floor respectively with a flutter of her eyelashes, "For educational purposes."

In a flurry of rose and pink and hints of gold, the tanned and sultry Princess Roxana Grayson arrives, slightly late but only just. Her golden-green eyes scan the room, first for a source of drink and then for familiar faces. The first is found easily, a glass of wine passed around on a tray or somesuch, and then she notices Sabella. Graceful steps bring her over and she beams at the other woman. "Hello lovely. You look absolutely stunning, and must be so excited."

Elgana checked charm + performance at difficulty 15, rolling 24 higher.

Amanda just gives a soft laugh at Lumen's words. "Do, please, love. Show me how one dances with the king," she says, as if Alaric isn't right there. Then a warm smile is sent to the monarch. "Enjoy your dance, your majesty."

"Anyone that can annoy you with a single well-placed flick to the back of the ear is someone that deserves a drink on me. Fortunately, all the drinks are. Benefit of a celebration like this." Languid sip from his left-hand glass, "Lord Karadoc. Voice to House Saik. Minister of Money-making. It was your cousin's foolhardy nature that killed our Baron, I think. Something about -- wait, let me remember -- not heeding a warning." With a smile, he shrugs. "Well met, Lady Kennex."

Out in the open floor now, Bliss has locked her own eyes with Elgana's, another quiet whisper shared between the two before they start to move. Even without others immediately joining them, the Whisper's movements aren't changed at all, full of grace, fluid and smooth as she guides Elgana along, apparently taking the lead with the Princess. That umbra she wears seems to just absorb any light that shines on her. Her movements are slow, careful, precise, in time with the music as she lifts her hand at points, both herself and Elgana moving into spins that send the fabrics of their gowns floating around them.

"Chief Magistrate," Sabella greets Octavia with a warm smile, "It is always a pleasure!" She laughs at Niklas' defense of the ear flicks, "I used to do that to Prince Gareth until he threatened my dolls.So, as of last week I try not to do it." She beams when Roxana steps over, "Roxana! I am extremely excited! To see you and also about the wedding! It seems to have taken forever to set a date, but now we have and the King has been so kind as to agree to let us use the palace! It's like a dream! The groom too," she adds quickly, "But the palace!"

"Ah yes. I am familiar with your sister," Grazia informs Niklas with a small smile. "She is chief magistrate, but I am a lawyer, and I enjoy my work with the law with Lady Octavia," she notes smoothly, though as usual, she is icy and standoffish, even with an arm around Whatshisname Grayhope next to her. She lifts a glass of wine in good cheer. To Octavia, she says, "Your brother is very boring, unfortunately."

Gianna has a drink in her hand and a generally aloof bearing that seems to be saving her from being approached, despite her being a Whisper. She sips her drink and watches, taking in all the finery and glittering jewellery.

"There is nothing in this world that would please me more," Monique replies to Etienne with the ghost of amusement on her lips, already reaching out to give him her hand in escort. She looks between Cullen and Quenia, dipping her flame-bright head to them. "I leave you both in capable hands," she teases, turning to be escorted to the dance floor by the Archlector, leaning in to murmur something private to the man that summons a warm look to her emerald eyes.

"Well, I -am- becoming a part-time diplomacy instructor at the Academy of War," Alaric observes broadly. "Now is as good a time as any to sharpen my educational purposing." With one last drink before he sets down his glass, he gallantly takes Lumen's hand and leads her out onto the floor.

Scipio settles down at a table near the back of the room, casting a wary glance about as he leans back in his chair.

Dipping his head in gratitude to Selene, "Thank you, Radiant. I shall most certainly take advantage of it, although it may be a bit overwhelming tonight, but I shall certainly pay a visit, to be sure."

The Redrain seems content to follow the lead of the Whisper, her movements fluid and elegant. Whatever whispers are shared just makes the princess laugh a touch and blush. Her own control is neat, but it is clear the Whisper seems somewhat surer in her steps, not that Elgana stumbles at all in the dance. The whirl of their gowns is near hypnotic, the sparkle of Elgana's against the swallowing darkness of Bliss'. As they make those revolutions on the floor, Elgana leans to whisper this time to her partner.

Mayir turns his head to Octavia from where he is seated with Grazia, companionably drinking his fancy Whisper whiskey with the duchess's arm about him. Still not quite clear why he is here. He tugs on the brim of his hat, welcoming her. "I leave the law to my cousin, Tynan Grayhope. One of the best lawyers in Arx. Grayhope only has the best." All of that is untrue, likely. Except the first sentence.

Quenia checked composure at difficulty 15, rolling 3 higher.

Lumen checked charm + performance at difficulty 15, rolling 55 higher.

"Don't be a baby, I flicked it twice," Octavia chastises before turning to the others. "Thankfully, I'm not wearing my chains of office and get to be Lady Kennex for now. Duchess, you'll find that my brother is not at all entertaining, but that's mostly because he's one of the two middle children and nobody cares. Especially since the other middle child is the Marquis." There's a smirk, before she turns to Karadoc and notes, "The admiral is a Cousin-in-/Law/. I refuse to own him when he's causing trouble, his wife can deal with that nonsense." To Mayir, she nods and replies, "Tynan certainly has a way with the law, though he hasn't graced my courtroom in some time. I hope he's still well."

Etienne guides Monique out on to the floor, he smooths the long lines of his coat with a free hand. A comment from her brings a small smile to his sun-weathered face the two keeping pace and time, as the music plays. The Archlector's dancing fairly suitable for a man of the faith. They speak quietly as they twirl.

Apparently residing at the location of an event is no impediment to Sidney showing up to it, as always, on the very edge of fashionably late. He saunters in from the receiving hall, his bright blue eyes already crinkling a little at the corners in expected pleasure as he turns to see the dancers. His gaze lands at least briefly on each of the guests and fellow Whispers, and he dips into a graceful half-bow to the nobility before wiggling his fingers in irreverent wave to Bliss and her dance partner.

"Oh, I like your attitude, Lady Kennex. In fact, it's deserving of..." Karadoc even sets aside (gasp!) one of his wine-glasses in order to clap that hand against his leg. Slow applause for Octavia.

Bliss releases Elgana for a moment, grinning at her as she hears the whispered words and whispering something back, even as she moves to intertwine elbows with the woman and take a few steps in a slow circle. Seeing Sidney enter as she does so? Causes a bright smile to explode across her face, and her hand lifts in a finger-wiggling wave to him before she twists in spot. It's really more of a slow, courtly sort of dance that she's putting on, one which is easily imitated by those watching, but she and Elgana are making it look effortless.

Merril, a scholarly aide arrives, following Felicia.

"Is that so? /War/ is in the title. Forgive me if 'Diplomacy' isn't the first word that leaps to mind," Lumen says cheekily, her voice fading into content silence. She does not lead and yet, appears in every other capacity to do just that. Her dark eyes press into happy crescent moons as her hands find their places - one on his shoulder and one on his upper arm. The movement restriction imposed by her gown create some interesting obstacles for the couple, but what is lacking in flair is certainly made up for in sparkle.

Duarte has joined the Semi-circular Bar.

Sabella grins at Grazia, "If you think Lord Niklas is boring then I fear you haven't spent enoug time with him. His wit makes Master Bastien nervous, as does his talent for writing. He is singlehandedly the funniest person I have ever met, kind and smart and caring. He is going to make a wonderful Prince! And he already makes quite an outstanding Kennex."

Niklas sniffs at Octavia. "Claudia and Denholm Kennex had one kid and looked at her and said 'oof, we can do better', then they had Renny and they said 'okay, this one is so good we might as well do that again', but then they had Ford." Niklas shakes his head and turns in his seat to order a cup of coffee. "Refusing to give up, they then had me and realized they were done because, obviously, best possible result. But while they were celebrating having created perfection they got careless and, oh well, Cecilia. Who is perfectly nice, to be true, but still one too many at this point." He snaps up a shrimp from a passing waiter and pops it in his mouth. After swallowing he says, "I'm not sure where Connie came from. One day he just sort of appeared. Renny said lily pad, Ceci said cabbage patch. I donno. Both seem like sound theories."

Selene makes a sashaying way back down from the balconies and her prior conversational partners to the main floor and around to the tables. That being said, she seems to come upon things mid-dance, and so she takes the opportunity of people being out of the way to refresh her drink, standing with her back to the central table, rather than all the way around behind it.

Alaric is content to let Lumen do all the flashy dancing, letting her whirl out and reeling her back every now and then, concentrating on keeping time. He can't get too wild anyway, the crown would fall off. "A negotiated settlement can be just as valuable a weapon as any. And if you think about it from a certain perspective, the Academy's goal is ultimately to teach their students how to get as few of their soldiers killed as possible," he notes serenely as they glide around the floor.

Gianna is approached by another Whisper, an older woman in a green dress. The other woman takes Gianna by the elbow, has her set her glass side, and steers her onto the dance floor. The woman is actually one of the Whispers specializing in dance instruction, and she is making Gianna practice.

Felicia's beyond fashionably late. The redheaded knight divested of her cloak by Merril as she makes her way into the Whisper House proper. Though most times, she's a creature of habit, content in her armor, tonight she's clad in a silvery gown likely recognizable to at least one princess in the room, her wealth of coppery hair loosely piled up and pinned in place. Any ladylike effect, however, no doubt ruined by the martial way she walks.

Soon enough, the notes of the first song die out, and there is a short pause as Bliss parts from the dance floor to stand in front of the table of honor, turning to speak to the crowd gathered. "Nobles gathered here today," the Whisper speaks, finally clearly enough to be heard by everyone - the singing Champion certainly knowing how to project her voice.



"Thank you for coming out tonight and supporting Whisper House and our work with your presence. Each and every person in the room is doing us an honor by being here, and know that your presence is not overlooked, your grace and beauty admired, your patronage acknowledged. We have lived in trying times, these last few years, and there are certain to be new challenges every step of the way. Now, more than ever, it is important to remember that we must come together and resolve our differences as we can. Whisper House stands ready to assist the Peers of the realm with the monumental tasks in front of them - the rebuilding efforts, the plans to grow your lands, to reach out, to learn, to discover. We are here when that burden is too much for you to bear alone. Events such as this are critical for the health of the Compact - a place where we can come together, and meet, and enjoy ourselves. Find someone you have never met. Speak with them. Dance with them. Learn who they are, and why the things which are important to them are. We have far more in common than we have differences, and it is so easy to forget that and fall to ire and rancor. I have been speaking a while - I will stop here now. Thank you all, again, so much, and most importantly - let's dance like tomorrow will never arrive!"



While most of the speech had sounded rehearsed, that last bit is clearly off-script, as the woman lifts her fist into the air and gives out a very un-Whisperly whoop of joy, then motions to the band and quickly encourages them to play, a grin on her face as she returns to the dance floor once more, the music picking up as she does so.

Mayir dips his head to Octavia when she speaks of Tynan. "It's because he is such a good lawyer that he keeps his cases out of court!" Mayir likely does not know if that is true. But it could be! "He is well, though. I will know you told him hello." He then turns back to Grazia, keeping himself inside of her arm.

Monique dances as if her body was born to move in there more intimates ways, smiling in earnest up at Etienne. "You know, for an Archlector, you're a remarkably good dancer," she teases the handsome blond mercilessly, waving to Alaric as they sweep past. "Your Majesty! Looking beautifully decorated tonight! Tyrval sends his grumpiest regards! But the treehouse still stands." There's a bright-eyed wink that follows that and then the Minx of the Marches is cheering Bliss's speech.

Mayir is overheard praising Bliss: A finer Whisper ball hostess you cannot find!

"My dear Sabella, I have spent enough time with your beloved to know that only a dimwit will ever find him clever or fashionable. It is a bit of a travesty that the Grayson family must take him in on your account. You do more damage to your own family's reputation by marrying him and defending him than if you'd simply wandered barefoot and pregnant into the Kennex march," Grazia replies to Sabella dryly, shaking her head slightly. "I married a Grayson. They are a Great House. You tarnish their reputation with these shenanigans. None Greater? Hah! Your lover makes that a lie."

Amanda, staying off to the side and doing not but sipping at wine, is quick to set her glass aside so she can applaud after the speech ends.

Amanda is overheard praising Bliss: A true blessing to the Compact.

Felicia is overheard praising Bliss.

Sidney had just begun to pick out faces of particular interest when Bliss breaks off from the dance floor -- offering Niklas a nod of friendly familiarity before flashing a smile and an arched brow at Karadoc -- and he slips gracefully aside to join the bar when Bliss raises her voice to speak, pouring himself a glass of deep red wine and then lifting it in toast to her conclusion. "Hear, hear!"

Sidney has joined the Semi-circular Bar.

"Charmed as always, Lady Monique," Alaric replies sociably as he sweeps by the other way. "All the credit must go to Mistress Lumen here, of course. And I appreciate both Prince Tyrval's regards and his restraint."

Monique is overheard praising Bliss: But, oh! The dancing! What a spectacular night!

Once the dance has died down, Elgana glides back toward the table at Bliss' side. Her cheeks are rosy and those dark eyes bright as she listens to the Champion Whisper's speech and adds a little cry of her own before falling to some laughter. A fresh glass of rum gets plucked up and sipped as well as another little tidbit from a passing tray. "This has been such a lovely evening," she says brightly as she casts her gaze out and finally nudges Bliss as she leans to murmur something to the Whisper once more before she heads off toward Mayir and those he is with.

Felicia pauses to give Bliss applause for her speech before making her way further in. A brief smile in the direction of Lorenzo, and a respectful, deep inclination of her head for Alaric as she makes her way towards the largest gathering at the semi-circular bar.

Felicia has joined the Semi-circular Bar.

"You're correct, your highness," Octavia notes dryly, reaching out to pluck the glass from his hand and set it aside. "Sometimes my brother is hilarious. However, when he gets too into the sauce he starts to hallucinate and say ridiculous things." Her brother gets a patronizing pat on the shoulder and a knowing smirk, then she notes, "I should probably make the rounds. His Majesty will be so very wounded if the head of his court doesn't say hello during an event like this." She turns to leave, then pauses, not missing the duchess's comment.



"Let me explain something to you, Duchess Grazia," the magistrate replies coldly as she turns back around. "I needle Niklas because he's my brother. We grew up together, and it's allowed. However, what you just said wasn't simply an attack on my brother, but an attack on Kennex. I expect an apology... or do you plan to back your words with steel?"

"There is a point, Duchess, where my patience for the farts that come out of the asshole you regard as a mouth begins to wane and I must consider whether my honor is enough at stake to challenge you. But, no." Niklas finishes off his coffee and pauses to send a wave Sidney's way. "Sidney Whisper! It has been too long!" Then back to his friendly conversation with Grazia. "You may call me whatever you will. I will never, no matter how hard you try, be offended by any of the shit you squeeze out of the grotesquery that resides in your skull, but I will not stand you speaking that way to my bride to be. So apologize. Or there will be a challenge issued."

Nursing her wineglass Roxana agrees with Sabella wholeheartedly. "I remember mine, so beautiful. I love any excuse for a new dress, which is why these days I contentedly attend weddings that are not my own." She smiles to the Princess and the Prince-to-be. "He's a fine groom I'm sure. Perhaps love will inspire him to write some beautiful romances for the stage." She glances around again and notices the King, walking over gracefully to dip him an impressive curtsy.

Lumen is satisfied enough with Alaric's response not to lead on with a counter, instead saying something along the lines of... becoming better acquainted with the Academy's goals before testing it any further. She extends a smile to Monique and her dance partner as they orbit one another, murmuring a quietly, "Oh dear," in Alaric's ear as she catches wind of some particularly inflammatory comments being made elsewhere in the party, "Where ARE peacekeeping efforts when you need them?"

Quenia settles down her glass of wine somewhere along the balcony railing, and then finds herself hand in hand with Cullen as he leads her down to the dance floor. Once at the bottom of the stairs, he aids her in executing a pretty decent twirl before the two of them get into the floor. She quirks a brow at him lightly. "We'll see," she tells Cullen, clearly not convinced he won't feel her dancing on his feet instead of the floor.

Etienne adds his sentiment of encouragement to the conclusion of the speech, resuming his completely adequate dancing around the room. He laughs at the results of a quiet exchange and not wanting to appear weary of the practiced ritual of dance asks Monique. "Would you like something to drink?"

Gianna is released from the dance floor; she begins to circulate the room again, pausing by Gwenna and Lorenzo's table. "I hope everything is to your liking," she tells them.

Sabella keeps smiling because she is very good at it, "Duchess Grazia, I am sure that you and I have our differences in ways of regarding the world, but surely you are not questioning the wisdom of Grayson's Voices or that of the King or that of House Kennex, are you?"

Having heard a speech, watched a few dances, and made a proper appearance, Amanda drifts out the doors and back into Whisper House proper.

Duarte has left the Semi-circular Bar.

Karadoc's sleepy blue eyes widen a fraction, suddenly very interested in the social drama that is unfolding at the bar between ranked nobles. He continues to sip at his glass of ruby-red wine, stained lips curling into a smile -- so terribly entertained.

Bliss checked charm + etiquette at difficulty 15, rolling 16 higher.

Mayir rises to his feet when Elgana begins to come over to them, beaming brightly, his cheeks a bit red from the fancy Whisper whiskey he has been imbibing. Then there are sounds of a duel coming from next to him, with Grazia and Octavia and Sabella. He seems a mix between wary and excited. Cat fight!

Lorenzo spots Felicia as she enters and catches her smile. He gives a warm smile and wave back to her, from the table where he is engaged in conversation with Princess Gwenna. When Gianna stops by, he gives her a smile and nod of greeting. "Yes, we are having a very nice time. The dancing has been quite impressive."

"Alright," Bliss says to Elgana as she reaches for the Princess' shoulder, giving her a squeeze and saying, "But I'm not going to forget your promise. I'll be seeing you again shortly, I'm sure." She is just about to head and walk over to Amanda, it seems, and then Lumen's words have her attention turning toward the bar and just what is going on there. Perhaps time to be the hostess? She walks over, trying to catch Selene's eye and motion her head in the same direction. "Good evening, everyone, thank you for coming," she says with a smile. "Is there anything I can get anyone? Anything to drink?" She doesn't seem to actually be trying to /stop/ the potential challenge - she's still a Champion! - but she is, perhaps, trying to temporarily distract.

Gwenna is speaking back and forth quietly at the table she shares with Lorenzo, from the looks. Gianna's query draws the Redrain's attention and the princess smiles warmly at the Whisper, nodding to Lorenzo's remarks before offering her own. "Everything is stunning. Beyond so, really. I had to pause when I first entered to take in all the exceptional details. The wine and food as well? Wonderful. We were even just talking about the dancing, actually."

Alaric clearly was too busy not colliding with Monique and Eitenne to hear everything said in the room because upon glancing back to Lumen at her remark it's evident he has no idea at all what she's talking about. "Peacekeeping efforts? Is there a specific peace that needs to be kept?" he asks curiously before he's distracted again by noticing Felicia's incline with a reply grin and Roxana's big ol' curtsy. "Ah, Roxana, delightful to see you here tonight," he calls to her as he and Lumen dance by.

Grazia looks, in fact, immensely pleased that someone has asked her to back up her insults with steel. "It's really just your dumbass brother and his dimwitted bride that I mean to insult, Lady Octavia," she says smoothly, arching one perfectly manicured brow at this. "However, for that, I will certainly be delighted to back up my words with steel. Nothing against House Kennex, I repeat, and if I painted with too broad strokes, I do apologize. But Niklas Kennex is not funny and Sabella Grayson is too stupid to realize this. And if that requires a Champion, I shall gladly hire one."

Cullen ignores the drama breaking out and leads Quenia to the dance floor, his steps light and hand holding the Marquessa's firmly. Taking her other hand in his then, the knight shows some of his natural agility, although any formal training in dancing is clearly lacking. A tilt of his head with an amused smile and he comments wryly, "Ah, but Marquessa, we're presuming I won't accidentally trod upon yours. Thankfully, I had the foresight to not come in armor, or that would be been quite the terror, I assure you."

"I'm glad," Gianna tells Lorenzo and Gwenna. Her attention flicks to the choker at Gwenna's throat, and she murmurs, "That's a lovely piece, by the way. Will you two be joining the dancing?"

As Elgana approaches Mayir she catches some of the exchanged words and her eyes get slightly larger as she glances between those exchanging the heated words. Clearing her throat, she side-steps toward Mayir, gown swishing as she moves. Once she reaches the Grayhope she leans in to give him a hug as she murmurs to him, "I didn't expect to see /you/ here, but I am delighted to see you." Her gaze shifts back to the others, especially as the talk of hiring Champions continues. "This almost reminds me of a joke I heard about a bear, a fox, and a seal. I wish I could remember how it went," she says mostly to Mayir but it is loud enough to be heard by those around her.

Calling "And you" back to the King would be lacking in social graces so Roxana does not. Besides, there is drama breaking out, and unlike some who try to ignore it, she does the opposite, making sure her eavesdropping position is prime without actually entering the conversation. That is not the fun part.

Quenia checked perception at difficulty 15, rolling 7 lower.

"...well then," Sidney murmurs, his idle interest in the conversation at the bar sharpening to a wary kind of amusement at Niklas and Grazia's exchanged barbs. He takes Bliss's cue and retrieves an empty glass or two, lifting the red wine he'd just poured himself in wordless offer to those nearest -- particularly the soon-to-be-in-laws. More-in-laws? Noble family trees are complicated. "While negotiations begin for dueling terms, would anyone like to try the new batch of Nilanzan red we've just had delivered?"

Felicia collects herself a drink, her attention going to those on the dance floor, for all that she elects to settle at one of the open chairs at the bar, a disinterested eye trailing briefly over Grazia, Sabella and Niklas.

Monique leans in to murmur something quietly to Etienne, seeming to ignore entirely the verbal brawling going on at the bar. "I think we'd better wait for drinks," she offers aloud after, in a swirl of aeterna, sparkling jewels and fiery hair.

Selene was, at this point, just happily watching and drinking on the sidelines - though, as with some of the others, a particularly choice word or two from across the way do cross her ears. And it doesn't seem like she's entirely thrilled by the process, her nose crinkling up just so. She does abandon her silent post to slide quietly toward all the fuss herself. She arrives a little after Bliss does, in the vicinity of Grazia and Niklas because... well, yes, there does seem to be a fuss. And if anyone makes a fuss in the House, well, it's usually her being grandiose! "I hope everything is alright over here?" she adds as something of an echo to Bliss, although there is perhaps an edge to it not there with the other Whisper. Bliss is hosting, but this is her House and... well, there are rules.

"Oh yes me please!" Roxana answers Sidney, having somehow already finished her first glass of wine. Another will go well with the dancing and other entertainments. A lovely smile is flashed at Sidney, bright and engaging.

It seems that Marquessa Quenia is quite blissfully unaware of what's unfolding within the ballroom itself. Instead, she's getting a moment of respite from all the bad things that have been happening of late in the form of the dance with Cullen at this moment. And so, she lifts a single brow in amusement at him. "Do you usually attend dances in armor?" she asks. "Expect to do battle during them?" she muses. She has her own natural agility that simply hasn't been trained, and she matches him pace for pace as far as the dance goes.

Raising a hand to touch her choker briefly, Gwenna offers Gianna a bright smile. "You are too kind, thank you. It was a gift from my mother, actually, before I departed Farhaven for Arx. There was a matching ring, but I offered it to the flames of Lagoma some time ago." She gives Lorenzo a glance and bit of a smirk. "We were just discussing whether we wished to step all over each others toes publicly or not," is noted with a small laugh. "I think we might have a glass or two more of wine to get up the possible courage. At the very least, it may have inspired us both to seek out lessons from Whisper House."

Mayir wraps his arms around Elgana when she comes close, giving her a big hug and having to step away from Grazia for a moment. He murmurs something into her ear, but then kisses her cheek and steps back. "You know we Grayhopes. We are resourceful and ambitious." He winks and then releases her, tilting his head. "Oh. Uh. Something about getting onto the rock, but not wanting to know how it did it? No. Hm."

Octavia does not seem at all satisfied by Grazia's not-apology. "I find honor duels to be uncivilized and beneath my office, but if you insist on continuing to run your mouth and insult my house, then I'm forced to answer. Fourty-eight hours. Select your champion, then meet me on the green." With that, she snaps up a drink from a tray, offers Bliss a "Lovely party, Softest," as she turns, and then heads in Alaric's direction. Better at least let the King know she was here before she leaves.

Bliss checked composure + etiquette at difficulty 15, rolling 10 higher.

Lumen checked charm + manipulation at difficulty 15, rolling 32 higher.

"I'm sure somebody else is seeing to it," Lumen makes efforts to abate Alaric with a smile and dismissive, almost bored roll of her eyes. "Honestly, I'd be disappointed if some silly drama DIDN'T break out. So long as some grand proclamation isn't carted out to overshadow it, the party might end up the talk of Arx for weeks." She gives a mischievous little twitch of her nose, bringing up her finger to boop Alaric's.

"An excellent suggestion messere Sidney Whisper. Although, I believe that I shall take my glass to-go, as my attentions are required elsewhere. Now that this little comedy of manners has ended in a challenge." Karadoc shifts out of his seat, lazily, and saunters for a refill from an apprentice Whisper. He toasts the room, sips, and slinks toward the exit.

"No thank you, Softest Bliss. Sadly I have given up drinking while studying under Master Fortunato. Well, for the most part." Niklas turns his regard back to Grazia and he smiles. A genuine, heartfelt smile. "I honestly thought that after seeing one of the two most important people in my life crushed by a statue of my house founder I wouldn't find anything funny ever again, but here we are, days later, and Grazia Rubino is calling someone /else/ stupid. An insufferably boorish dullard such as you? You should be ashamed to impugn the intelligence of a fence post, much less another actual human being. So, no, I think we've reached an impasse." Niklas slides to his feet and says, "I challenge you, oh Duchess of Gemecitta. I think you will find that being an oafish dimwit has earned me a surprising number of friends."

Lorenzo gives Gianna a wry smile. "Ineed, we were just discussing the dancing, in that neither of us have any particular skill in it." He nods to Gwenna's explanation, though he lifts his brows at her other remark. "You think one or two more glasses of wine would do it?" he asks. "I'm afraid that anything that would give me enough courage to attempt it would also rob me of any coordination, ensuring that I'd fail at my attempt. But yes, lessons at Whisper House would no doubt be a requirement if we continue to attend these functions."

Oh, look, Selene came over! And Grazia is still arguing, and Sidney is offering drinks, and Octavia is walking off. The Champion's brow furrows at the statement about honor duels, but for once, for once, she actually holds her tongue, just watching her walk off before she sighs, smiling at the others. "If there is need of Champions, do let me know, I can put you in touch with the right people. Better to have it done with, yes?" And then off she goes over to Elgana and Mayir, saying to the latter, with utter humor in her voice, "Messere Grayhope, you're not supposed to be here," she says. With no actual attempt to shoo him away.

Gianna's lips curve up in a slight smile, though it doesn't quite reach her eyes. "I think both those ideas are quite good," she tells Gwenna and Lorenzo. "The wine, and the lessons. I can attest to the skill of the Whisper House's dance instructors. Alas, I am not one of them." She tilts her head toward the growing nexus of conflict at the semi-circular bar, arching an eyebrow. "Hmmn."

Elgana smiles as she leans into that hug from Mayir, offering her cheek for that kiss and murmur before he steps back. There is a slightly brighter color of pink on her cheeks after the whisper, a sly wink given to the Grayhope before she focuses back upon the verbal spar that is taking place. "Mm. Something like that," she finally comments to Mayir. "I'll have to ask Agatha as I am certain she knows the joke." And then there is Bliss chiding Mayir in the most gentle of manners. "Oops?"

Karadoc has left the Semi-circular Bar.

A coppery brow arches up at Quenia with a very serious expression, "Oh yes. In fact, I try to attend all dances in full plate, as I find the clanking and rattling a most charming accompaniment to the music. Plus, if I do trample someone's foot, well. Ouch," Cullen murmurs with a corner of his mouth quirking upwards, giving the Marquessa a well-timed twirl and a wink, continuing to not pay the least attention to any unpleasantness. Life has enough of it.

Turning away from the waltzes, the music begins to shift into a more daring Lycene-style tango, the strings of the instrumentalists calling out into the air of the Ballroom, each note beginning to encourage passion and ardor in those who are dancing - fire and life and energy seeming to trickle along every note.

Sidney returns Roxana's smile with an equally brilliant one, pleased to be taken up on the offer of both wine and social distraction. "Of course, your highness." Ah, now he's in his element: sharing alcohol with attractive nobility while ignoring the boring practicalities of arranging exciting future duels. "And my Lord," he adds, pouring a generous glass for Roxana before topping up Karadoc's before the man disappears off on business.

"I am also not a fan of duels, but," Sabella holds up a hand like what can you do? "You did not address the insults you have levied on the heads of House Grayson, who negotiated the marriage contract and clearly believe Lord Niklas will be a fine addition to our family as he is brilliant in so many ways. So, unless an apology is forthcoming for that, I fear you shall have to find yet another Champion, Duchess Grazia."

Gwenna lifts one shoulder in a faint shrug. "Well, that is quite a good point, Prince Lorenzo. I suspect there is a fine line between courage and decent coordination. One, I imagine, that few manage to find just right," she admits with another faint laugh. "Indeed, though, seeing such talent tonight at least has us thinking of lessons. Perhaps at the next event, we might manage to join without worry of harming each other." As Gianna's attention seems to shift, the princess can't help but cast a glance toward the raised words even though the music and other distractions seem to near drown it out.

"Oafish dimwits often have friends," Grazia replies smoothly, and without seeming at all ruffled. "Honor duels are a delight. People should challenge me more often. I shall look into a champion immediately and we shall settle this the interesting way." She gives a charming smile to Bliss. "Of course. Any champion you can recommend I will consider."

Mayir doffs his hat to Bliss when she draws near, acknowledging the hostess. "A wonderful party, Softest Whisper! You and Princess Elgana were absolutely -- well, dare I say it, radiant out there!" He beams. On that unpleasant matter, he deflects. "Of course I should be here. If I wasn't supposed to be here, I wouldn't be here, would i?"

"Well, now you're practically guaranteeing one will, so that one's on you," Alaric quips to Lumen, laughing lightly as he's booped. "Thank you for the exhilarating dance," he declares as he leads them off the floor. "Where did I put that vodka again...?" he trails off thoughtfully. Before he can reorient himself, there's a Chief Magistrate inbound. "Ah, Lady Octavia, pleasure to see you tonight," he tells her with a smile. That said, he clearly picks up on her pique. "I fear you don't seem quite as festive as you might," he observes before glancing back to Lumen with a this-is-related-to-your-oh-dear-isn't-it look.

1 Grayson House Guards have been dismissed.

Thalia, a beautiful lady-in-waiting have been dismissed.

"I'm entirely sure I used that line before," Bliss says to Mayir without any judgment in her voice, extending her arm out in a quiet offer as the music gets more lively. "Princess," she says. "I believe I told you about this kind of dance, didn't I? Promised to show it to you one day?" Of course, who knows, someone else might take her arm. "Oops," she offers back to Elgana.

"Why is it," Sidney wonders aloud, relaxed and conversational and still pouring wine for anyone with the good or bad luck of being close enough to receive a glass, "that simply deciding to sponsor a duel has become a contentious act? They're an excellent alternative to all other options for settling debates, including --" He stands straight and shivers with a performance of mock-horror, "-- stuffy, formal debates. I may not be able to follow all the swordplay, but at least it's exciting. And a good opportunity for wine and merriment."

When the beat of the music changes, Monique fits herself more closely to the Archlector whose arms she is in, bodies molding together. "Just... try not to get too close to the necklace, hm?" she warns him with a warm, low laugh. "It's /very/ sharp. Prince Tyrval doesn't give safe gifts, I've noticed."

Arcadia arrives, following Elloise.

"Ouch," Quenia agrees with Cullen. And then the music changes. Her desire for dancing has come to an end and she gives Cullen an apologetic look. "Perhaps we should retreat to the balcony?" she suggests. For the Lycene music makes the dancing much too close for comfort for Quenia.

Bliss then turns to Grazia and says to her, "Send me a missive with what you'd like your Champion to do - a show, banter, so on - and I should be able to tell you who might best fit your needs. It helps if you don't care about winning!"

Notably, Selene doesn't seem too bothered by the idea of there being a challenge, and in fact relieved that the conversation turns that way. "Well, it sounds as if you have it handled!" She claps her hands together. "But please, do observe your surroundings and be courteous with your language, going forward. Polite insults are, in my estimation, the most cutting sort. And I imagine, just for reference in your future dealings, you could easily find a Whisper in attendance who might pen a satirical song or write a scathing sonnet to castigate a hated foe." She smirks. "As for settling things in interesting ways, I'm *sure* we could come up with something, but failing that, Bliss can certainly speak on behalf of the Champion's Guild. She's versatile like that."

"You are too kind Mayir." Another wink given to Mayir she turns to take Bliss' arm once more. "Ooh yes, this is the style of dance you did with the Crown Prince isn't it? Or was that another? You've told of me so many different sorts!" The talk of duels and Champions gets left behind as she follows Bliss' lead anew, content to return to the dance floor away from it all.

Lorenzo finally takes note of the conflict that is happening not far from them, and frowns. "Oh dear. If there's a need to call for champions, they should just do it." He is no fan at all of tossing insults back and forth. Perhaps the exact words aren't audible from where they sit, but the tone is clear enough. Gwenna's words bring a smile back to his face, though, and he looks back at her. "Perhaps if we both had enough skill to keep from mashing each other's toes and falling in the punch bowl, that would be enough, you think?"

"You are quite perceptive, Your Majesty. I fear that the combination of losing a family member in a tragic accident and a ruling peer who lacks simple courtesies such as tact has soured my mood as of late," Octavia quips. There's a deep breath held for a moment, then an exhale as the magistrate works on regaining her composure. "I should so love to stay, but I'd rather not drag the party down. Perhaps we'll have to catch up another time, over a game of stones."

"Then I learn from the best," says Mayir, to Bliss, unabashed, bowing his head as she and Elgana take to the dance floor once more. It then gives him a chance to turn back to Grazia and those challenging her, taking in the back-and-forth.

"It seems you may need to get a trio, Duchess. Perhaps Champion Bliss could talk Grandmaster Caspian into extending some kind of discount for a bulk purchase." Niklas offers Bliss a nod. "Ah, Sir Bayweather owes me a favor or two. The last time he hugged me I thought my head was going to burst. I'm still seeing stars." He sniffs and looks back to Grazia. "Go ahead and have Master Bastien write your apology for you now, Duchess. That way there will be fewer spelling mistakes and it will be less likely to be written in crayon."

Lumen clucks her tongue at Alaric, glancing towards the ceiling as he insists - albeit intuitively - on getting involved. "Well now I'll definitely need another drink," she murmurs with a goodnatured pout, glancing around this way and that over either shoulder for the attention of a Whisper attendant. "Lady Octavia," Lumen's smile is demure, "I've often heard my uncle, Lord Samael, sing your praises. I'm so sorry that we seem to have caught you too late to help remedy your evening."

Etienne begins to improvise as the tempo changes, a sport he clearly does not excel at. What was passable is now bordering on incoherent. He heeds Monique's warning, thankfully he is using all his concentration trying not to stare at his feet and misses the conflict entirely.

Have you heard this one? It's great. Two Learies walk into a party at the Whisper House. Both are the walking personifications of hummingbirds. The older (shorter) one pulls on the slightly (taller) younger one's hand as they enter the extremely grand ballroom. Elloise is speaking in a terrible stage-whisper, in an aside to Arcadia, "It' quite impressive, no?"

The more lively and intimate Lycene music is something Cullen isn't familiar with, and Quenia's suggestion to head back to the balcony is met with a swift nod, the Greenmarch knight steps with agility back to the stairs and to a safer spot, giving a thankful smile to the Marquessa.

Arcadia flits in beside her sister, Elloise, the younger-yet-taller Leary girl looking woefully underdressed in compared to her sibling -- and probably everyone else, too. She gives something halfway between a bow and a curtsy, pinching the hems of her cloak as she shows respect to any that may look her way upon her arrival. She sticks close to Elly's side, eyes darting about with a manic energy fueled by the chaos of the crowded party. "What kind of food do you think there is?" is her only response.

"It is precisely the kind of dance I did with him," Bliss says to Elgana as she takes the woman's arm, her eyes moving to Monique for a while before she shakes her head and shrugs her shoulders, telling Elgana after, "So, the point of this dance-" and then she turns her head over her shoulder, clearing her throat and saying, "Champions have been called, be done with it!" in a chiding way, "-...the point of this dance is to never, ever take your eyes off of your dancing partner. Everything else is about expressing passion. So." With a flourish as she stands on the floor, she pulls the woman close to her, hips pressing against hips as she lifts her head and locks eyes. "Are you prepared?"

"Grandmaster Caspian has already agreed to be my Champion," Grazia replies to Niklas, apparently quite good at sending and receiving messengers. She laughs softly. "No, my insult is to you and your dull bride, not your houses. It is your actions which diminish your houses, and if you would like to challenge me separately, by the gods, do so. I am enjoying this."

Gianna inclines her head to Gwenna and Lorenzo, murmuring, "I hope you both visit the Whisper House soon, then. Please excuse me." A slight bow forward at the waist, and the Whisper slips off for a few moments.

"Entirely understandable," Alaric replies sympathetically to Octavia. "And I'm terribly sorry to hear about Lady Elara. House Kennex has my condolences." He smiles gently. "A game of stones would be quite enjoyable to have sometime soon, I should think. I might have to sneak in a session with some of my general acquaintances to brush up on my rock tactics so I don't get cleaned out first, however."

Quenia definitely moves toward the balcony to again escape the crowds and the more intimate setting the dance floor has become, blissfully unaware anything has been happening on around her.

"She was a beautiful singer, and will be sorely missed by this heart surely," Lumen adds, of Elara.

Felicia's, so far at least, content to remain in her seat and observe, watching the dancefloor as the tempo changes and people begin to drift and depart. A small smile curves her lips briefly as her attention shifts back towards the bar, scanning the others gathered there with a distant curiousity.

"The kind you eat, Cady," Elloise informs Arcadia oh-so-helpfully as she pats her on the hand and leads her, firmly, in the direction of one of the refreshment tables. She hasn't looked around yet. She hasn't realized the staggering amount of people present to overwhelm her. No, she is on a mission. There are drinks that are procured and passed over. Next, a plate of food. "I forgot my notebook. Bother."

Gwenna offers a few nods along with Lorenzo's words. "Indeed, I quite agree," she murmurs after a few moments and then lifts her wine glass to sip from it. When the prince smile, it is hard for the Redrain not to as well. "Perhaps we could take a lesson or two together? So at the next event, we'd have no worries about toes or punch bowls, as you said," she replies and manages a small laugh. A dip of her head is then offered as Gianna moves to depart. "Of course," she replies and then returns to quieter conversation once again with the Velenosa.

Octavia turns to Lumen and offers, "Ah, Lumen Whisper. Yes, your uncle is one of my finest magistrates, and it's my honor to have him working for the court. Lady Elara was beloved by many, and you are both invited to her wake, of course." Alaric's acceptance of her offer to play stones seems to cheer the magistrate up some, and she claps her hands together. "Most wonderful. I'm looking forward to it. Your majesty, Whisper, good evening to you both."

Jordan slips in, notably unfashionably late! But at least it looks like he bathed for the occasion. With a bow to the assorted nobility and royalty, he heads over to the refreshments table and grabs himself a wineglass, studying the crowd in relative silence.

Selene stands there a moment or two longer, hands on her hips and watching the pair as if not quite certain what they'll do. Yet for the moment, things seem to fall consistently into the pattern of insults to intelligence - which she will apparently allow, at least in preference to the scatalogical variety. Breathing out a huff, she turns and looks around, wandering over toward the apparent pair of Alaric and the possibly departing Octavia. "Let me extend my apologies for any disturbance, and Your Majesty, for not catching up with you sooner. Although it does seem as if Lumen has you quite well in hand."

"Oh splendid!" Elgana exclaims, the pleasure clear in those dark eyes as she makes to align herself with Bliss on the dance floor. She listens and nods to what the woman is saying, grinning all the way up until the Whisper calls for the verbal spar happening at the bar to come to an end. She chuckles and clears her throat. "As you were saying? Never take my eyes off you, that's easy." She winks, sly and quick as she makes to hold Bliss' gaze with her own as they join, hip to hip, and the dance starts. "I can already tell this is almost like..." she trails off for a moment before she laughs again. "Me? Always. Never. Perhaps. Let's dance, beautiful lady. Just promise you'll forgive me if I step all over your beautiful slippers." And she once more allows for Bliss to lead.

"No... no..." Monique laughs helplessly up at the taller Telmar. "Your hips go /here/," she says, shifting hers suggestively. "And eyes on me!" She almost conks her forehead into Etienne's trying to draw him down so their eyes lock and hold.

"Very good," Arcadia chirps up at Elloise's explanation, nimble feet carrying her safely through the wake of her sister's jittery warpath. Plate of food balanced one hand, drink in the other, Arcadia performs something of a balancing act as she taste tests a little bit of everything. "You take after father, you've the memory of an elephant." She pauses. "That's a good thing, I think. You're like your own walking notebook, you'll be alright." She sniffs at something meaty and saucey, crinkling her nose in disgust before trying it anyway. "With the amount of security-less parties in Arx, you could eat for free every day, I think," she says through a mouthful of chewed food.

Bliss checked dexterity + performance at difficulty 15, rolling 47 higher.

"Like this?" Etienne offers, mirroring Monique's motions, attempting to keep his eyes where they apparently belong. Etienne can't help but laugh, clearly enjoying himself.

Elgana checked dexterity + performance at difficulty 15, rolling 18 higher.

Sabella shakes her head and picks up her glass, "If you think insults are going to get us into bed, Duchess, I'm afraid you have more of a misread on the two of us than you so obviously already do." She looks to Niklas with a smile, "If you don't mind standing the challenge, I don't want to upset Aiden." she reaches out to put her hand on one of his. "At least it's a nice distraction from...it's something else to think about."

Spotting the Learys, Cullen chuckles in amusement and waves at them both. "Ladies Cady and Elly. Glad to see you both out and enjoying yourself, and Arcadia's rather observant truth she has hit upon, there."

Lorenzo has left the Round guest table draped in lace and silk.

2 House Velenosa Guards leaves, following Lorenzo.

"Sure could, Cady. That could be its own standalone essay, possibly. Maybe. I'll need to think about it. Title it, mm, Yum: Eating Free in the Capital of the Compact." Elloise picks at a piece of fresh fruit with her fingers, popping it whole into her mouth. She shuts her eyes for that moment. "That's delicious."

"Good evening to you as well, Chief Magistrate," Alaric declares regally in parting. He turns to regard Selene's approach with a smile. "Ah, Radiant, charmed as always. It's been such an overall delightful event tonight, you must be very proud. And I daresay I've been handled quite well," he replies sociably before grinning a bit impishly at Lumen briefly. "In a manner of speaking." He turns back to Selene. "I trust you've been enjoying yourself tonight?" he asks.

This dance seems to be /quite/ different in Bliss's eyes as that look, those words, bring the same kind of smile to her face that a challenge or a duel might - cocky and bordering on impudent. "Oh, darling," she says with a laugh. "You have no idea how tricky this is going to get, do you?" And with that, her first move is to shift one of her legs, hooking the ankle around Elgana's calf and placing her hand on the taller woman's upper arm, using the other's body as a pivot to twirl before her other foot catches, her head staying steadily focused on Elgana's eyes. She leads the Princess in a few steps backwards, legs crossing over her legs, before with a roll and an extension of her arm, she sends the woman in a twirl out until both their arms are fully extended - then tugs her back in.

Quenia exchanges a few words with Cullen, and then a sadness seems to overtake her. She politely excuses herself, and starts once more for the stairs, looking as though she is preparing to leave.

"Excellent. It is done, then, and now I have the good fortune to have no more need to speak to you until the matter is resolved." Niklas smiles and lifts his drink toward the Duchess. "It's a surprise people don't challenge you constantly if just for the quiet." A nod is sent Sabella's way. "Of course, my dear. I'm not a Grayson yet." Since he's already on his feet he looks to the dance floor and says, "Shall we?"

"Always nice to hear, I am so fond of him," Lumen offers a few soft, successive nods as Olivia speaks and makes to take her leave. Her expression eases into one of sincere empathy for the woman and her kin, "I wouldn't miss it. -And you, my Lady. Gods keep." Selene's observation receives a faint smile before Lumen occupies herself with sipping from her drink.

Monique laughs hard at whatever Etienne murmurs to her, and ducks her crimson head to catch her breath, breaking the eye contact inadvertantly. When she looks back up, her eyes are bright gemstones, filled with enjoyment. "Now I /know/ why you're the Archlector of Gild, as opposed to any other God. Maybe we'll get that drink now? Before we break something."

Octavia does nod to Selene as she passes, offering a brief, "Good to see you, Radiant. It's a wonderful party, some guests not withstanding." With that, she departs to go cool down in the winter air.

"Oh, why must you ruin everything by turning it into an essay?" Arcadia lets loose a long-suffering sigh at her sister, a splotch of sauce below and to the side of her lower lip, not going anywhere anytime soon. She perks up at Cullen, giving a big, wide wave of her hand at the Greenmarch from the buffet. "Knight Greenmarch," she greets in kind. "Are you a.... Whisperer?" Her face scrunches up, unsure of the wording. She glances to Elloise for help. She's new in town.

"I suppose--" Elgana had started to say but then Bliss had her in motion, laughter filling in the space where her words had died. She shifts and moves not as easily as Bliss does, but the Redrain seems to be trying at least! Her motions are somewhat clumsy in places but as she starts to figure out the rhythm it becomes slightly less awkward but not by much. By the time she thinks she has a move down, it changes and shifts, more laughter ringing out until finally she is whirling away from Bliss, skirts flaring around her like a sparkling blue halo before she snaps back in, the swishy material whispering in a rush as she bumps into Bliss, panting softly, her cheeks rosy and those dark eyes aglow. "Why didn't we try this sooner?" she asks near breathlessly.

2 Kennex corsairs leaves, following Octavia.

A moment of relief is obvious on the golden haired man's face as Etienne gives up his efforts and gratefully escorts Monique off the dance floor and towards the bar, he spends a small amount of time fixing his clothing, having twisted them somewhat in the efforts.

Gwenna has left the Round guest table draped in lace and silk.

2 Crimson Blades Private leaves, following Gwenna.

"Proud of our newest Softest Whisper, certainly," Selene agrees with Alaric's assessment. In saying that, she looks around to catch up with what Bliss is up to, and spots her out on the dancefloor. However, the manner of their dance actually causes her to tilt her head slightly as if trying to get a better viewing angle! "Proud and perhaps slightly jealous of her dance partner, at the moment. Then again I don't know that I could keep up. All that dueling footwork keeps her in rather impressive shape." Turning back from the spectacle, she continues, "Well, I am pacing my enjoyment, but yes. I've been very happy to catch up with a few of our guests."

Sidney has arranged himself in a languid lean against the bar counter, dark wine in hand and a few curls starting to slip out of place as he watches the dancers, conversationalists, and free food opportunists with equal approval. Etienne gets a sympathetic wink as he tries to straighten himself out, and Sidney tilts his head to beckon one of the Whispers on serving duty over to refresh Etienne and Monique's drinks.

Harlen arrives, following Duarte.

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

Duarte returns from the little Count's room, or whatever. This place is huge and finding the facilities took some time.

"Whisper. No, he's not, Arcadia. Least not as far as I know. Whispers are --" she lifts her chin up, pointing with her nose in Bliss' direction. Next, toward Lumen. "Whispers. Courtiers of renown. It serves as a title and a surname, from what I have learned." Elloise smiles a little, unfazed by her sister's critique. "It's useful to have reference material."

Felicia drains her glass and sets it aside, seemingly deciding that it's time to depart from the way she rises from her seat again.

Rinel receives a messenger. "Oh. I--of course. Yes, tell the Blessed that I will be there immediately." She moves to Duarte, who has conveniently just shown up. "Thank you for the invitation, Count Amadeo. I'm afraid I'm being summoned by my superior." She bows. "It really was a lovely experience," the woman says, smiling softly.

"Darling," Bliss murmurs to Elgana with a fire in her eyes as torso presses against torso, taking steps to the beat now, back and forth, letting Elgana gain her rhythm as she flutters her eyelashes. "That's not the first time you're going to be saying that soon, at all. I hope you realize that." She then extends back a step, arm lifting up and pulling Elgana's with it, holding the other woman's hand briefly like her rapier. She holds that for a long moment as the music begins to trill, and then when the song continues with a lively energy, down she ducks under Elgana's arm, up the other side, placing her back to the woman and her head tilting back to try to keep that gaze, her footwork careful, precise, keeping her on balance even as she does so. When she turns back next, she takes both Elgana's arms, moves in close, puts her leg behind Elgana's knees to steady her, and tips the woman backward, one arm going behind her as the other gazes deep in her eyes as she holds her leaning back.

"Allow me to do the favor of walking you out, at least. It is only proper." Duarte offers his arm to Rinel.

Rinel smiles. "Of course." She takes the man's arm with stately dignity.

Midway to the bar, Monique gets a messenger that causes the Minx of the Marches to snort inelegantly in laughter. She tugs Etienne's sleeve to show him the message, before smiling and sending the messenger on its way. Her eyes drift then over to Sidney with curiosity and gratitude. There's a hand lifted in greeting. "My thanks, m'lord...?" she searches for a name.

Gianna inclines her head to Felicia as the woman starts to leave; she finds herself another glass of wine in the meantime.

While Radiant and King exchange pleasantries, Lumen surveys the rest of the party from over the rip of her glass. Catching sight of Cullen, she makes motions towards her eyes in playful warning. If he can make it here for a party, he can make it here for etiquette lessons. She's watching him!

Rinel has left the Semi-circular Bar.

Harlen, Rinel leave, following Duarte.

Felicia has left the Semi-circular Bar.

Kit, the grey fox, a tiny man with a BIG unpronounceable name, 1 Greenmarch Guard, Q, a very tall man with a very short name leave, following Monique.

Kit, the grey fox, a tiny man with a BIG unpronounceable name, 1 Greenmarch Guard, Q, a very tall man with a very short name arrive, following Monique.

"It's wonderful to see her taking on a bigger role in the House these days," Alaric declares agreeably to Selene. "I must admit, I've not made the rounds as much as I would hosting my own event, and it's been delightful I'd have to say. Certainly it's nice to just be a guest every now and again, and to mingle a little aimlessly instead of having to check all the boxes." He grins at Lumen. "My dear protege here has been quite adroit and keeping me moving, else I become penned in by the crowds I draw, I think."

"I didn't think it would be. Not with you dearest," Elgana comments as she holds that pewter gaze with her own, eyes narrowing playfully just a touch as she continues to follow the lead that Bliss lays out. She's still not quite as smooth or fast as Bliss is, but what she lacks in artful skill she makes up for just by going with the flow. That laughter seems unending as she ducks, or Bliss ducks, arching and stretching as appropriate. That rosy glow in her cheeks never abates and once she is seemingly tripped backward she lets out a high-pitched peel of laughter, sure she is going to hit the ground but instead she finds herself reclined back toward the dance floor but supported, her gaze locking with Bliss' once more. "You are truly the most dangerous thing in this room I think," she murmurs, the humor ringing off each word as she simply hangs in balance there. "At least on the dance floor. I was certain I was going to make a spectacle of myself just now."

Felicia offers Lumen, Cullen and Gianna a smile, but slips away, Merril following in her wake.

Merril, a scholarly aide leaves, following Felicia.

Etienne peeks at the message Monique shows him, his gray eyes scanning it perform next what can be described as a significant eye-roll. Etienne likewise searches for a thanks for the attentive filling of his drink. "Yes, thank you." he adds.

"I hear tis a good place to get information; secrets," Arcadia hums out in thought, head canting ever-so-slightly towards Elloise. Done with her still full plate of foods, she sets it aside and quickly finishes off her drink, freeing her hands so they can fidget and fiddle all they like. "I wonder if this party will be like in the stories. Those murder mysteries? The torches flicker out, and once they're re-lit someone's dead." She smiles at the idea, and then clears her throat, composing her facial expression and looking innocent again. "Wouldn't that be interesting?"

Quenia pauses in her leave-taking to speak a bit further to Cullen. She clasps his hand, squeezes it, lets go, and then makes a hasty departure down the stairs, looking as if she's quite overwhelmed and there's a dam that might burst at any moment. And out the door she goes.

Sidney breaks into a bright, playful grin at Monique's careful honorific and shakes his head. "Sidney," he corrects her warmly, his blue eyes crinkling as he meets her gaze and then inclines his head to Etinene in shared greeting. "Sidney Whisper, Lady... Greenmarch, if I'm not mistaken?" He pushes his curls back with a glance down to Monique's ring in explanation, and then reaches for his own drink again. "A pleasure to meet you, my lady." Thankfully, he misses Arcadia's wistful hope for a dead body to appear.

Quenia has left the Balcony.

"Highly unlikely, Arcadia," Elloise answers in an ebullient tone of voice, the suggestion of laughter just bubbling at the surface. "I could, if you like, discuss the statistics involved -- and the potential circumstances that would need to occur -- but you'd hate me forever. However, it might be true about the information. Maybe. Possibly. Or they're just rumors." Elloise toys with her glass, constantly, as her gaze flicks around the room.

One moment, Mayir is there, drinking the fancy booze, flirting with the pretty women. Trying to see how far Grazia's dress goes. The next -- he's not there. Where did he go? Hard to say.

Mayir has left the Semi-circular Bar.

"I try to build that reputation," Bliss says, her voice husky before she grins and pulls Elgana up as the song ends - this actually causing her to wince a little as she hisses in through her teeth. "At least my shoulder didn't /quite/ give out there," she says with an awkward cough. "It's been a long time since I've been able to properly dance like that without screaming." Then she turns herself, bumping a hip into Elgana as the next song begins. "I wouldn't have let you make a spectacle of yourself. A good dancer can cover for her partner, if she needs to. But you kept up." She turns her head briefly to Alaric and Selene. Are people talking about her? But she doesn't focus on it too much, just has a bit of a dopey smile on her face as she says, "Next up is probably something you'll enjoy."

With the next song, it becomes clear that a musical trip around the compact is in the works. Energetic still, but with less smoothness than the Lycene song. This is the kind of beat that is intended to get your blood flowing, with familiar spots for call-outs of 'Hey!' or war cries, the viols beginning to screech at points for discordant and dramatic effect.

Spying Elloise, Gianna heads her way. "...You're treating your umbra gowns a bit more carefully now, I hope?" she ventures. She inclines her head to Arcadia as well.

Grazia may have lost her date, but she hadn't bothered to learn his name anyway, so she hardly looks crushed as she drinks her wine at the bar and looks fairly smug about life in general.

Giving Arcadia and Elloise a sheepish grin and a shake of his head, "No, definitely not a Whisper...that requires being far better at dressing, dancing, speaking well without offending people, and generally far better of a people person than I am. But thank you. How are you two doing, Ladies Leary? Are you enjoying the food and drink and the music? It's all quite lovely."

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

Sabella smiles and takes Nik's hand, putting her glass down, "I would love to dance, thank you. And I hope we haven't made the Whisper's entertainment seem dull now!" she says to the people remaining at the bar as she stands, heading off to the dance floor with Niklas.

"Hello, Lumen," Jordan greets the former Softest with a nod and a smile, sipping from his wine as he approaches. "Did you receive my earlier message? I scrawled it on the go, so it probably wasn't the most legible."

"If I said no, mistress, hopefully you wouldn't judge me too harshly. So -- no. But umbra wears very, very well." Elloise leans in to add, "And pockets."

"Oh, I agree the freedom is enjoyable. I'm somewhat in the same position, as other than making sure those two didn't start stabbing each other on the dancefloor, I've allowed myself mostly just to enjoy the evening." And indeed, absent bloodshed, Selene seems rather relaxed! "Of course, I would be rather remiss not to point out that both your lofty title and our ongoing service to the Crown rather entitles you to a fair degree of help with any sort of Palace functions you might envision. We can probably even manage some degree of guest-wrangling." Glancing again to Lumen, she observes, "Though no doubt she reminds you of that frequently as well." And since Bliss peers over, she gets one of Selene's usual finger-wiggle waves back.

Monique joins Sidney at the bar, still on the arm of the Archlector of Gold, but now with a full drink in her hand. "Sidney Whisper. You're not mistaken at all, and the pleasure is mine. You've got a keen eye. I appreciate that. Have you met Blessed Etienne, the Archlector of Gild?" She puts Etienne into the limelight to sip her whiskey with relish.

Monique has joined the Semi-circular Bar.

Etienne has joined the Semi-circular Bar.

"I would think the more people there are in one room, the higher chance of murder there is," Arcadia relates to Elloise, squinting a bit and not looking like she wants to hear any kind of statistics at all, no. She shudders at the idea. Then, distracted, she peeks up at Gianna. She smiles at her, not interrupting her greeting to her sister in any vocal way. Instead, she looks to Cullen. "I'm well, thank you. I heard a bit of interesting history between the Greenmarches and the Learies the other day, from Cousin Fairen." She has a curious look on her face, but it soon turns jealous as she glances towards Elloise. "I want an umbra garment..." she complains.

"You live up to your reputation," Elgana retorts as she slowly rises from that dip, not wincing quite like Bliss does but it is clear she is happy to be upright once more. As that song ends she leans in to press a peck to Bliss' cheek right in time for the next rousing bit of music to start. "Are you certain you don't wish to mingle with your guests?" she asks as she looks out from the dance floor. "I feel like I am being terrible by keeping you out here to myself. You should play hostess." She nudges Bliss though half-heartedly.

Gianna winces faintly. "Well, pockets are... quite useful." To Arcadia, she asides, "I would also like a gown of umbra." She nods to Cullen in greeting. "Lord Cullen, good evening."

"No doubt," Lumen echoes mildly, turning to acknowledge Jordan with a dip of her head on her neck and a subdued smile. "Sir Jordan, I did. I apologize for not yet having had a moment to respond. Do expect one soon. Oh, and congratulations on your recent appointment." She tilts her head inward for Selene and Alaric's benefit, "Sir Jordan was very recently given a Minister position for House Ashford. Well earned, in my opinion."

"Mm, perhaps in a room elsewhere. Here -- doubtful. Not with his Majesty in attendence. The only thing that would most likely be killed is my dignity, if I were to attempt to dance to the music of the Mourning Isles. It might cause an imbalance of the humors." Elloise counters, offering a sunny smile. "Very," she chirps back at Gianna, completely oblivious to her social awkwardness. Instead, oh! Look! Wine.

Receiving the peck to the cheek, Bliss grins, and she is about to say something to Elgana when she catches something about the look in the Princess's eyes. Understanding dawns on her face, and she leans her head in and whispers something to the woman, squeezing her forearm and nodding before she turns back to look at the others around, deciding to head toward the bar with the others there.

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

"In all honesty I've been somewhat remiss in envisioning any Palace functions at all lately," Alaric admits. "In my defense, there was a rather furious war monopolizing the majority of my attention until recently, but even so that is merely an exuse. I do hope Mistress Amanda will rectify that in her new position." He turns to nod at Jordan. "Ah, good to see you again, Sir Jordan. And congratulations on the appointment. I'm sure you will serve House Ashford with distinction."

Elgana gives a squeeze to Bliss' hand before the woman can wander off, a look of apologetic appreciation in that gaze as she watches the woman head off toward the others at the bar. Those nearest her and those she passes on her way out get polite smiles and nods, the exhaustion clear on the Redrain's features though before she slips out.

Elgana has left the Table of honor.

Sabella has left the Semi-circular Bar.

Niklas has left the Semi-circular Bar.

Bliss has left the Table of honor.

Bliss has joined the Semi-circular Bar.

Grinning at Lumen from the balcony, "I see that look. And yes, I know, I will do it. It is quite pleasant here, after all. I suppose I just needed to drag myself here to become introduced to it." Leaning forward upon the railing, his brow raises at Arcadia. "Oh? What did you hear, Lady Cady? I think it is something I do not know, perhaps?" His eyes turn to Elloise in a questioning look as well.

"I regret to say that I have not," Sidney murmurs, following Monique's cue to take a proper look at the Archlector now that Etienne has tugged his clothing back into order and Sidney has the excuse of an introduction. "A pleasure to meet you as well, Archlector. I do hope that you're enjoying yourself?" Sidney lifts his glass of wine in something ike a toast and then takes a sip, eyebrows raised with expectant interest.

"Fabrics can be so expensive. Fairen should find me a Prince to wed me and shower me in expensive gifts," Arcadia supposes, watching Elloise go for that wine through the corner of her eye. She plucks herself out a glass as well, sniffing it before giving a shrug and sipping some down. "Ah -- Twas about a marriage soured between cousin Tomwell and some Greenmarch woman, I think. It all sounded rather dramatic," she calls up to Cullen, giving a cheers of her wine glass, pinched by the stem.

Bartholomew arrives, following Cedric.

"Thank you, Lumen. It wouldn't have been made possible without yours and Whisper House's many talents." Jordan inclines his head to the Whisper, flashing her a bright smile. With a bow to the King, the knight replies, "Likewise, Your Majesty. And thank you, I will do my best to honor the prestige and the authority that comes with it." His lips curve in a quick smile to the King. "My latest enterprise has drawn some interest from other Houses seeking to make similar initiatives, as well. I expect in the coming years you'll see quite the uptick in the Crown's tax income."

Gianna's lips curve up in a faint smile that doesn't quite reach her eyes. "I suppose there's no need to be wed to receive such gifts," she tells Arcadia. "I hope you're having a good time. Please excuse me."

As far as anyone is concerned, Cedric must've walked in with Jordan. He must have. He is right there, after all, suddenly. And it's really not like he'd sneak in just to take a peek around and lavish spaces, decorations and dress - no way. He's too professional for all that......

"It's very pleasant evening. I'll admit I've not had occasion to visit here before, but i've only been in the city a short time." Etienne says, returning the toast gesture. "Do you find your work enjoyable, Sidney?" he takes a quick drink.

Speaking of expensive fabrics, the umbra-clad Bliss is now at the bar, and smiles as she settles down onto one of the stools, idly resting her elbow on the bar and placing her cheek in the palm of her hand. She might look a little winded, but that dancing is still nothing compared to a duel, and she is all smiles. "Finding a Prince to wed seems to be one of the hardest things to do, from what I am hearing and noticing." She turns her head toward Grazia. "You were quite lucky in that regard, Duchess."

Lumen checked composure + etiquette at difficulty 15, rolling 22 higher.

"Ianna Greenmarch, I believe," Elloise echoes into her wine-glass, peering upward and over toward Arcadia as she sips and sips and sips. "Could be wrong." She sniffs, shakes her head, and sets the half-empty wineglass right back down, rubbing her fingers together. "That's the /second/ time you've mentioned a Prince, Cady. Oh --" she watches as Gianna excuses herself and swirls off. "We should advertise for one. Do you think?"

At Alaric's side, Lumen nearly jumps out of her skin upon spotting Cedric so nearby. Of course, she's such a pro you'd never notice. She just places a hand to her heart and sips her wine to steady herself.

Ravana the tawny eagle arrives, delivering a message to Bliss before departing.

Where'd he even come from?!

Jordan pauses suddenly, half-turning when he notices Cedric... just kind of by his side. He'll have to get used to that. "Ah," the knight clears his throat, and then starts the round of introductions, "Mistress Lumen Whisper, Your Majesty," he pauses, "This is Master Cedric Primm, majordomo of the Ashford House."

"Good gods," Arcadia murmurs to herself as that eagle flies through the room in a burst of letter-delivering speed.

Cedric checked composure + etiquette at difficulty 15, rolling 32 higher.

"I got the best one," Grazia replies nonchalantly to Bliss, nodding once and lifting her glass in approval. "My Duke-Consort embodies all that is best about House Grayson; he's charming, noble, and honorable. It is a pleasure having him for a husband." She takes a sip of her wine and smiles a small smile. "Lovely party tonight. I'm having a fabulous time. I put down a retainer on a Champion, even."

Cedric gives a forward leaning motion with a bow of his head - very formal, par for the course with these butler types. "Charmed, your Majesty...Mistress Lumen."

"I can't imagine a better job," Monique chimes in emphatically. "If I weren't a Greenmarch, and I thought they would have me, I'd join Whisper House. Imagine, such decadence and beauty on a daily basis." She waves a hand, but glances aside at Etienne as she does. "Though I know you do have to get back to your duties and I promised you I would walk you to the Shrine. Are you nearing that time?"

"More income, eh? I suspect I'll manage to deal with such an eventuality, somehow," Alaric quips dryly to Jordan. "I'm pleased to hear your endavours look to create such productive results. I hope they match your projections." He smiles regally to Cedric. "Ah, pleasure to make your acquaintance, Master Cedric," he declares sociably. He seems impressed by his essential butlerness.

Selene turns over as Lumen illuminates Jordan's accomplishment, and offers a bright: "Oh! Congratulations! I do think I saw the announcement but sadly I had no opportunity to put a face to the name, or now, vice-versa." Then glancing back toward Alaric, she observes, rather happily: "I imagine so long as the Palace is full of Whispers up to various things, you shall not find yourself lacking aid in various important matters. And yes, once the wars are at least a little on hold, there is far more space for extravagant partying and other perhaps somewhat sedate functions. If one really must."

"Ianna, yes that was it," Arcadia snaps her fingers, smiling sunnily at Elloise. "Heartbreaking story. And -- An ad for a Prince? One Prince Wanted?" She scrunches her nose, not so certain. "It isn't very romantic, is it?"

Gianna gets a friendly wave, "Nightingale, a pleasure to see you. I hope all is going well with you," Cullen calls down from his perch before glancing curiously at Cedric, who he could swear he didn't see before, but in this crowd...who knows? Picking up his wineglass and taking a sip before rolling the stem between fingers, he nods at Elloise then. "Ah, before I arrived in Arx from Greenhaven." A slight wave of a hand towards Arcadia, she gets a bright grin. "Cady, have you been on any new and exciting adventure? And advertising for a Prince sounds like a novel way of going about it."

Selene also catches a bit, and calls over toward Monique: "I don't know. We took Bliss!" It is, perhaps, an intended reference to their shared 'infamy' in earlier lives, and clearly said affectionately.

Cedric gazes, then to Jordan and says, "Would you like some Ashford's finest gin." It's stated somewhere between an 'ask' and a 'you better have gin' - but oh how appropriate either way.

"Well -- you can have it practical or romantic, Arcadia. Pick one." Elloise exhales, almost exasperated and huffy, but she's still grinning.

Hearing the squawk of the eagle coming in. Inside. Whisper House. Bliss just holds her hand out to the side, waiting for it to drop the letter in her hand without even turning to look at it, and then looking down and reading it briefly. "I forgot Jared wasn't down here to intercept those," she mumbles, even as a touch of color begins to spread across her cheeks, the woman coughing softly before she rolls that parchment up and passes it to one of the apprentices milling about. "Put that in my room." Then to Grazia, she gives a nod. "There are very few men who are able to hold my interest for long, I am - let's say incredibly, incredibly picky about them. Less politely, I just get bored." She shrugs her shoulders, but then grins. "A retainer on a Champion means that the party is going well. I certainly have to encourage it. If I wasn't hosting, I -" And then Selene is yelling about her. And her head turns slowly, and she just laughs. "Lady Minx, remind me to tell you about /my/ time in the Oathlands if you don't think you would fit in here. She's right!"

"Romantic," Arcadia chooses, voice breezy and coming seamlessly upon the ends of Elloise's words. "Nothing I can share in public, I'm afraid!" A smile sparkles its way up to where Cullen is perched on the balcony.

"We shall see by harvest time next year, Your Majesty," Jordan grins at Alaric. "But I expect they will. Master Primm will now take care of the management aspect to ensure the ship is steered in the right direction. He is quite talented at such things." That grin of his brightens at Selene's congratulations. "Thank you, Radiant. We've met once, but just in passing. Glad to see you again." Cedric's so-very-polite almost-order has the general of the Ashford military nod affirmatively. "Of course, Master Primm. I do so love gin."

"I find most things enjoyable." Sidney winks at Etienne, and it's both a practiced and completely natural gesture; he's either an excellent performer, or he's honest in a particularly self-aware way. It's very Whispery. "And I won't delay you, if you have business, but I do hope to see you -- both -- again soon," he tells Etienne, looking to Monique with a warm smile to include her in the sentiment.

Cedric glances to the Kind and Lumen and shamelessly plugs, "Only the finest, Sir Ober. Ashford Gin." Such a dry delivery. He disappears into the crowd, toward the bar no doubt.

Cedric has joined the Semi-circular Bar.

"Is it just men that you bore of so quickly, or is it women, too?" Grazia wonders of Bliss, arching one perfectly manicured brow at the Whisper with interest, her whiskey-hued gaze running up and down the relatively tall woman's body. "There's no fidelity clause in my marriage contract for good reason. I expect him to have his lovers and I expect to have mine."

Sidney can't help a curious glance up toward the eagle as it passes.

"I find it does make for a more robust social schedule with fewer Abyssals marauding about setting things on fire, strangely enough," Alaric observes wryly to Selene. "I do appreciate the Palace being fuller of Whispers recently. Saedrus has been making more appearances at court lately as well, in fact. He's a top lad. And so -calming-. I worry it's too easy to underappreciate him sometimes." He nods agreeably to Jordan before regarding Lumen. "Well, I suppose that's our next drink picked out for us, then," he deadpans.

"I spend most my days in a room with golden walls, though I can't say the refreshments are as nearly as nice, nor the seating as comfortable, or finally the majority of company so nice." Etienne says with a smile, "I fear you are correct Lady Monique, I seem to have lost track of time on that dance floor, embarrassment makes the minutes past swiftly." he nods in Sidney's direction. "If you'll excuse me"

Marius arrives, following Giulio.

"Most women, too. There have been a few exceptions on both sides," Bliss admits to Grazia, "But they have to have depth and depth and depth. Otherwise..." she waves her hand. "I've simply turned off and walked away from so many people. Marriage is a difficult thing for me to grasp, even as a Devotion. Love isn't, marriage is." Then her eyes actually turn to Grazia, and the interest in her eyes, and her own perk up as a bright smile flashes across her teeth. "How about you, Duchess Grazia? How fickle are your tastes?"

Monique's laughter reaches to Selene and Bliss, and she calls back, "I'll look forward to it, Softest Whisper! And I'll take that as good as a standing offer, Radiant!" She dips her crimson head to them both and turns back to Sidney. "I would like to speak with you again, Sidney Whisper, very dearly. Good evening to you." And she gives Etienne her hand, ready to depart.

Cedric has left the Semi-circular Bar.

"Fine. Romantic. Wanted: one romantic Prince needed to court my younger sister. Must have good manners, a respectable stipend, and strong ties to his House in order to justify an alliance." Elloise nods, seemingly pleased with her impromtu ad-writing, and she smiles. Just a little too smug. Just a little too sneaky. She's up to mischef, Arcadia. "I think I'm going to head home --" she lies, badly. "Yawn. So very weary of this party."

SO butlery. "Master Cedric," Lumen dips her head on her neck in a swiveled nod, "Any friend of Jordan's." She leaves the phrase unfinished, hiding away in another sip the remainder of her drink lest she counter the compliments that reach her ears being paid to her cousin Aiden. She does like to tease! "Ehem," she clears her throat in a very ladylike fashion, "I've a missive out with Saedrus currently on the matter of welcoming in your new /Orangery/. He really is a favorite of almost everybody and his involvement would be an almost guaranteed success -- gin, is it?" She waggles her eyebrows to Alaric mischievously.

Cullen blinks at Arcadia as if the solution to this problem is clear. "Well, come up here and tell me then! I'm kind of in the ideal spot for such a thing, you know." Shifting his feet and resting weight on the opposite leg,

As the music transitions to the Oathlands, the next song becomes much more formally stylized. Rhythm, harmony, and order are the message of the day here, more closely in line with the music that had been playing before the thematic shifts. The tones and rhythms are complex things, elegantly entwined into the melody rather than letting any one part rise over any other, structure the key element that brings out the beauty of the song.

Cedric wonders back to Jordan and company with a glass...no...three glasses of Ashford gin. He distributes them to the King, Whisper and Knight in that exact order with no anticipation of thoight that either one might not take it.

Cedric wonders back to Jordan and company with a glass...no...three glasses of Ashford gin. He distributes them to the King, Whisper and Knight in that exact order with no anticipation or thought that either one might not take it.

"Marriage is a duty I must face in order to produce legitimate heirs to my holdings," Grazia replies simply to Bliss. "But really, my tastes aren't fickle at all. If I could keep the same lover forever, I would have. It's hard to find a man who really knows how to slaughter a demon and keep his sanity properly. Beyond that, my other lovers tend to be delightful and while I do tend to prefer men slightly, I enjoy women just as much."

Like a shadow, Marius glides behind Giulio Mazetti as he enters the Elysian. Those dark orbs track about the room, a sort of cool consideration offered those present. A faint smile toys his lips as he looks about. Grazia receives a dip of his head and a smile. Jordan and Arcadia the same. Bliss? A dry half-smile and a wink. He looks from person to person, almost consideringly, his head tilting in a nod. He ponders the array of drink, his lips quirking, before he nods to Marius.



While his manservant seeks out a glass of brandy for the Mazetti lord, his eyes move from person to person. A bow is offered the King, a low thing, but, he does not move in that direction. Instead, he meanders towards the Rubino duchess. Casually, he inquires of the woman, "Do you think it would be overmuch a slight to offer some of my vintage for the festivities?" One brow lofts in consideration.

Sidney lowers his head in a friendy quarter-bow to Monique and Etienne as they begin to make their departure, and then cards his fingers back through his curls in a gesture which does very little to neaten them. His fingertips are still at the nape of his neck when Marius and Giulio enter, and he looks over them both with welcoming interest.

Etienne has left the Semi-circular Bar.

Monique has left the Semi-circular Bar.

Kit, the grey fox, a tiny man with a BIG unpronounceable name, 1 Greenmarch Guard, Q, a very tall man with a very short name leave, following Monique.

Dandy, the red fox, Monique leave, following Etienne.

"It probably is one! We'd be a far less interesting lot if our backgrounds were as uniform as the astonishing elegance of their outcome," is Selene's final observation on that half-shouted back and forth. Evidently shouting across the ballroom is tolerable etiquette when you're the Radiant. In any case, she does return to her normal-volume conversation after that, though she sighs at something Alaric says. "The two of us operate on different schedules so I do not see him as much as I used to, but he's absolutely a rock. Of that I couldn't agree more." With that, she dips her head. "If you'll excuse me."

Alaric checked intellect + agriculture at difficulty 15, rolling 1 higher.

"It is," Alaric replies immediately to Lumen and lo and behold, he has a gin now. He sips it and hmms approvingly. Something about Lumen's last statement earns her a curious not-quite-a-squint. "I'm sorry, did you say orangery? As in orange trees? In Arx?" He pauses a moment. "Isn't it almost literally too cold outside right now for those to survive? I thought they only grew down in the south coast, and in the Saffrons and such," he observes before seeing Selene off with a bright smile. "Of course, it was lovely to speak with you again, Radiant. Enjoy your evening."

"Oh, well, I don't care about manners, much," Arcadia says, chin rubbed under a duo of fingertips as she considers Elloise's proposal. She pauses then, blinking, "I'm not going to just stand here all alone, I'll head back with you. You're making me look fancy, my leathers will stand out once you're gone." Her lips flicker towards a frown.

"Ah, yes, the noblewoman's duty," Bliss says with some slight sympathy in her voice to Grazia. "I have certainly reviewed enough of the contracts that that has been a common theme. I will continue to drink my tea. That is not a duty I would ever look forward to," she admits with a soft chuckle. "But I think most know that by now." She holds her gaze with Grazia for a while, her smirk coming back to her lips before she reaches forward, placing her fingertips against the back of the woman's hand. "Dear Duchess. Did you ever consider that maybe if that was an issue, your standards are just too high?" Clearly jesting, by the lilt in her voice.

Cedric checked intellect + agriculture at difficulty 15, rolling 7 higher.

As the music changes Niklas takes Sabella's hand and takes her out to the dance floor, leading her in a stiff Oathlander box step. "I'm glad we waited for the change. That Thrax music was, well, not enough banjo." As they sweep around the dance floor, he says, "Lady Monique says she just saw you. I appreciate that none have offered me their condolences. I assume I can thank you for that."

Selene is overheard praising Bliss: Marvellous, dear.

"... Also, I'm joking, if you actually put up an ad like that I'll smash all the vials in your room, and probably burn a hole down into the salon in the process," Arcadia murmurs to Elloise with a suspicious squint.

Alaric is overheard praising Bliss: An oustanding ball!

Selene has left the Table of honor.

Renault, a floofy persian cat leaves, following Selene.

"Well, we'll just have to find someone willing to make you a gown too. With pockets. Because pockets, dear Arcadia, are very useful. We can advertise for a tailor AND a prince --" she stops. Dead in her tracks and midway through her sentence. "You. Wouldn't. Dare." Once that's been said, Elloise flicks her younger sister in the shoulder and starts for the exit.

"Is there much I wouldn't dare do?" Arcadia queries right back, needling her sister in the eye with her gaze.

"Ah, yes. You should visit sometime, Lumen, and bring Saedrus. I think the place itself is conducive to a great many ideas for festivities," Jordan smiles brightly to the King's protege, lifting his glass in an unspoken toast and drinking a sip. With a nod to Giulio, the knight considers the King for a moment. "Well, they made a greenhouse, so it's really indoors weather."

Arcadia leaves, following Elloise.

"You fall in love with one demon slaughtering man, the rest of the gender has a higher standard to aspire to," Grazia informs Bliss casually, smiling genially, apparently in a rather good mood. "Ah, Lord Giulio. I have the hostess right here. I'm sure she'd be delighted by a gift of your vintage."

Arcadia arrives, following Elloise.

Sabella gives Niklas an adoring smile and a bit of a nod, "I see your face every time they're offered. I know you hate it and it's just a reminder. So, I've tried to stay ahead of it." As they move around the dance floor she takes the time to smile and nod to the people she hasn't been able to greet yet, like Jordan and Cedric and Gianna again since it's been awhile! "And yes, I went to the Gilded Page, but Lady Monique said you'd already beat me there!"

Arcadia leaves, following Elloise.

"Are you /intrigued/, your Majesty?" Lumen asks breathily, her eyes going wide with playful wonder as she exchanges her own glass for one of those offered by Cedric. "Seems you'll have to attend the grand opening and find out. I'm sure are all sorts of explanations await us there." She offers a noiseless laugh before turning and giving Cedric just the slightest nods of thanks for having served them.

"Hm. True. I suppose at that point, I'd want a demon slaughtering man who can sing," Bliss says to Grazia, leaving her fingers against the back of the woman's hand for a moment even as her attention is diverted to Giulio. "Ah, Lord Mazetti, it has been too long! What a pleasure to see you here. Feel free, please, share your drink - the people who remain, I think, deserve a real party."

Cedric discards whatever glasses were collected in the exchanging on the tray of a passing server. He removes his handkerchief and wipes his fingers, then tucks it back into immaculate position. "Something about the brightness of the sun, and the tint of the glass, your Majesty." comes the agricultural lesson in fine pedantry.

Tapping a message he received earlier, Cullen gives a wave absently from the balcony. "Thank you very much for the party, Whisper Bliss. Do take care."

"Oh, one of those humid glass buildings, yes?" Alaric muses in recognition. "I see, I see. How extravagant! I have to confess, I'm somewhat keen to attend this grand opening now." He turns the vaguest of pouts at Lumen. "Why yes I -am- intrigued, and all the playful eye widening you can do won't dissaude me from it," he sniffs regally before having some more of his gin.

Cullen has left the Balcony.

"Champion, I trust you are well?" One brow lofts as Giulio considers Bliss. "I've some Southern Thunder I brought to offer as a host gift," the man says.. At Grazia's statement, Giulio laughs the smallest bit. "Mmm, the most delightful of things? Those of proven valor and talent, no?" He flits his hand hands openly. "I suppose that is why I always envied my brother. But, some of us, I suppose have to be the rear echelon fuckers that provide the information to the bright and shining, no?"



For a few moments, at his lord's gesture, Marius settles a few bottles of Southern Thunder at the table, offering a bow towards Cedric in the process. Then, he returns with a glass of brandy for Giulio -- who claims it with his thanks. Looking to Bliss, he bows his head in a nod. "Would you care for a glass? In time, I hope to have Heart's Caress on the market."

"Aha, I did indeed. Lady Monique was actually the first person I thought of, considering her area of expertise." Niklas offers nods in passing to Jordan and Giulio. No more to Gianna, though! She's not the sort of expect a seoond hello. Step step sway, step step sway. Stiff back, stay to the left. A proper waltz, just like they do it back in Sanctum. "I hope to have something worthwhile by the end of the week, then we can move on to other things. We shall see, I suppose."

A major key fanfare introduces the next song, giving those present a moment to get into position to move to it: and the proud music heard so commonly in the courts of Bastion makes its way here, into Whisper Hall. Flourishes are common in both the music and the dancing, and there even seems to be a level of improvisation involved, parts in the song where the musicians - and the dancers responding to them - can show off their individual skill.

"If you insist," Lumen waggles her head like she's just caved to some great big imposition, tossing a smirk the Ashfords' way. She swirls her drink, holding it up to frame her mouth for a time before only very eventually sampling it. "We do have a few exotics in our walled garden here, but they've been moved into the Solarium or the Aviary this time of year. I can't say that we've any /orange trees/."

"Trust me, my dear. The demon-slaughtering men make beautiful music before the gods when they make love to you," Grazia informs Bliss in a smooth sort of way. She takes a sip of her wine and looks to Giulio thoughtfully. "Mmmm, the things your brother did to me would make me swear fidelity, if that were an option. Instead, we are apart and I am married to a prince of Grayson. Such is politics."

"Oh, I am more than well," Bliss says to Giulio with a smile, motioning around herself to the room. "I felt entirely unprepared for tonight, and yet, people still seemed to enjoy themselves. I am going to count it as a blessing from Jayus, I think, for this beautiful room." She motions behind the bar, saying, "A glass, for Lord Mazetti's drink?" And then it is placed before her, and she is turning and holding it out for the man. "When have I ever turned down an excellent beverage?" she asks playfully. She looks between Grazia and Giulio, then, and that impish smirk keeps growing on her face. "And is it demon-slaying women, or something else, that helps make your most beautiful music?"

Sidney pauses with his wine glass at his lips, attention caught by Giulio's phrasing. He arches a brow and then deftly finishes off the last of his wine, leaving his fingertips on the stem lest Cedric buttle the empty glass away. "Providing information and alcohol seems a noble and valiant cause to *me*," he offers, keeping himself safely out of the murkier waters of that conversation.

When the music changes, Sabella's face lights up, "I love this song!" she says with genuine delight, "They used to play it all the time in Bastion!" and suddenly she's the one pulling Niklas through a few steps, "You can make it up a bit, just make sure you back step on the three," she tells him with a laugh, "You'll catch on, you're very good!"

"I don't know. I've never met a woman who moved me in the way my demon-slaying lover moved me," Grazia replies with a flutter of dark lashes to Bliss. "But you're welcome to try, by all means."

Jordan just grins in response to that smirk Lumen tosses his and Cedric's way, drinking another sip, making good pace with it. "Trust me, Your Majesty, Lady Olivia has the greenest thumb of anyone in the city, or maybe even in the Compact as a whole. In fact, she is right now growing a strain of dahlias that were only known to have thrived back when the Wastes were instead called Suthyrn Plains," he mentions, with a bright smile as he nods to both Sabella and Niklas.

"I've no doubt of that," Giulio offers, his head bowing in Grazia's direction. "Perhaps one day I shall be half the man he was, but for now, well, one does os one can." A half-smile toys his lips, as he takes another swallow of his drink. At Sidney's comment, the man bows his head. "I am most pleased that you think so." He ponders the brandy he holds, his gaze lingering a moment. At Jordan's statement, however, Giulio glances in the man's direction.



A sip is taken, and then he is looking from Grazia to Bliss. "I fear I'm hardly talented in such things. I've only known one since I've arrived in the city. I suppose the ashen-hearted perspective is no longer needed, but, it seems ill-attained to seek out such things of the hour. Politically unwise, at least."

But Cedric only butlers for Ashford, and Sidney's glass is safe. "I would be happy to receive you at a time before the grand opening, should you wish, your Majesty. The king after all should be afforded the opportunity to enjoy the space on his own, perhaps without the distraction of attention to be had at a ribbon-cutting." Cedric offers gentlt enough as something merely to be considered and not decided upon.

"I do insist. I -insistently- insist. In fact I am the very model of regal insistence," Alaric declares as he tips back the gin and finishes it off. "And then some." He smiles appreciatively at Cedric. "Well, that's quite a kind offer, Master Cedric, thank you kindly." He glances curiously at Jordan, nodding with a thoughtful hum. "Is that so? Well, I have heard she's rather brilliant with flowers and herbs. I suppose a tree shouldn't be beyond her expertise at all." He exhales, setting the empty glass on a passing tray. "But at the risk of ruining my sociable impression, I do need to attend to one last meeting tonight before I retire for the evening. It's been a wonderful time here tonight speaking with you all, and I've enjoyed myself immensely tonight. I do hope I was an acceptable escort tonight, Mistress Lumen," he concludes with a cheerful smirk.

Bliss continues to hold her glass out for some of that drink from Giulio, but she doesn't really seem able to comment on the man in question between him and Grazia, so she doesn't try. Instead she is considering Grazia for a while, and finally says to her, "Let's dance, Duchess Rubino," as her fingers relax and curl around the woman's hand in a soft hold, still easy to escape from if need be.

"I don't really dance, but for you, I will dance," Grazia decides, leaving her wine glass empty at the bar and allowing Bliss to lead her to the dancefloor. Her skirts are certainly stylish enough for dancing, and she bows her head to Giulio as she passes him.

"Mm," offers Niklas with a non-committal grunt. "You forget Marquis Hadrian's party where the two of us danced the wood off the floor." After only a few cycles of the step pattern, Niklas falls into the rhythm with Sabella, feet keeping pace even as his mind drifts elsewhere. "So, do I have Princess Tikva's falcon screeching its way through Kennex Kay to look forward to? If so, I should probably warn some people."

"Excellent," Bliss says to Grazia without hesitation as she stands along with the woman, setting her glass on the bar and telling Giulio, "You will have to get me my drink at another time. I nominate Sidney Whisper to try it instead," she says, tilting her chin at Sidney to introduce him to the man. "I do have to warn you, Duchess, I believe that the music is about to shift to something very ... northern. If I remember my order of songs correctly. But you do not seem afraid of a little boldness."

Sidney tilts his empty wine glass subtly toward Giulio's bottle, more than willing to accept the host(ess) gift on behalf of the busier and higher-ranked female Whispers. What a gracious helper -- even before Bliss formally approves of the idea.

"-Acceptably- acceptable," Lumen laughs to Alaric, "You may have even earned yourself a repeat performance if you're lucky." Her eyebrows lift and fall mildly, "I'll walk you out." The whisper gives a nod to those closeby, taking one last sip of her drink before setting it aside on a passing tray.

"Marius, do remind me to see that she receives both a jug of the Southern Thunder -- and a bottle of the Heart's Caress." There's a flash of a smile for Bliss, before he looks towards Grazia. As she moves towards the floor, he considers the room. A bow of his head is offered towards the king, a smile to Sabella and Niklas, before he leans back, simply enjoying the atmosphere. His gaze flits over Grazia and Bliss as they dance -- but, it is an assessing thing. One corner of his mouth stretches in amusement.



Looking towards Sidney then, he says, "Good master Whisper, please, let me see that you are well equipped." A nod is offered towards Marius, who moves to pour for Sidney.

"A good evening, your Majesty, and Whisper Lumen." Cedric says with his butler lean-bow. He then looks to Jordan and simply nods, then he leaves.

"Oh, knowing Tikva, probably, Maybe you'd best just stay at the Mansion so she can find us both at the same time. Do you know no one seems to have noticed the trophy cabinet yet? You'd think people would notice not tripping all over those Grayson trophies in the great hall." she shrugs and completes a perfect little twirl.

The primal beats of the newest members of the Compact, House Redrain, finishes off the musical tour of the Compact. The drums begin to take over, heavy bass thumping that seems to seep into the very soul of any dancer, reminiscent of a heartbeat. Horns sound calls for battle, and with every few seconds, a change in the drums picks up. The other instruments are not forgotten, they are just back-up to this music that encourages wilder dancing than is often seen at an event full of nobles - at least, farther south than Farhaven.

"Why, thank you," Sidney tells Marius, offering the velvet-wrapped servant a wink in gratitude before turning his attention back to Giulio. He makes a show of swirling the brandy a bit in his glass and inhaling the aroma, and it all might be more convincingly refined if he hadn't just put brandy into a glass still holding the residue of dark red wine. The finer notes are probably lost on him, but when he finally takes a sip he does so with obvious, genuine pleasure. "Oh," he murmurs to Giulio, "that's lovely. Which was the name of this one?"

Alaric checked charm + etiquette at difficulty 15, rolling 25 higher.

Grazia is not really much of a dancer, so she'll follow Bliss's lead, however the music goes. She doesn't recognize it, what with being quite Southern and the music being quite not, but she's game to give it a go.

Cedric checked dexterity + stewardship at difficulty 15, rolling 22 higher.

"Not everyone can be as perceptive as Elara," drawls Niklas, pausing for a moment so his head can catch up to what his feet are up to. "When I left the trophy case in her room it only took a day for her to ask why I'd left a bunch of trophies in front of her closet. Hm. I should ask Ford if I can have her dance trophy." Niklas makes an expression of overtly faux outrage. "She cheated to win it anyway." When the music changes to crazy heathen stuff he slows to a stop and shakes his head. "Welp, they lost me. If I shake my head to this I'm apt to rattle something loose. Let's go get some alcohol and more of those shrimp."

Alaric offers an arm to Lumen to make a super suave exit, offering a few regal waves on the way out with courtly precision while the King's Own start to reassemble back into travelling formation.

"Your Majesty, Lumen," Jordan bows his head towards both, flashing them a bright smile before looking to Cedric. "So, there are a few things I must keep you appraised about, if you'd like to chat about them by the bar?" He inquires of the butler.

Bliss takes a moment to dip her head as she realizes Alaric is leaving, and calls out to him, "Until next time, your Majesty! It was lovely having you here, too, Lumen!"

Lumen accepts Alaric's arm and blowing Bliss a little kiss through the air, takes her leave.

Giulio checked composure at difficulty 15, rolling 7 higher.

Bliss checked charm + performance at difficulty 15, rolling 29 higher.

Cedric's last act before departing is appearing out of nowhere and exchanging Sidney's wrong glass for a proper glass, and pouring his drink into the correct one. It's done wordlessly, so smooth, So exact and with such finesse. It would take a definite show of will to protest the proper glass exchange! Then he is walking away and disappears into the crowd.

Zoraida, a dead-eyed Apprentice Whisper leaves, following Lumen.

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

Coral, a dour formal thrall leaves, following Karadoc.

Sabella laughs, swaying her hips a moment to then bump against Niklas' side. "All right, but coffee and tea instead of alcohol. Master Itzal taught me how to dance, so since he was playing that contest I feel like I had an infair advantage." she takes Nik's arm and heads to the bar.

"Southern Thunder," Giulio offers towards Sidney, his head tilting in a nod to the man, a faint smile toying his lips. "It's a pleasant thing, all in all," he remarks, after a moment. "My brewmaster was excellent in adapting my suggestions appropriately." He bows towards the departing king, before his gaze flits towards Niklas. There's the slightest narrowing of his gaze at the comment regarding Elara, but only a faint one, before he looks back to Sidney. "I don't believe I've your name, good master Whisper. I am Lord Giulio Mazetti," he says, smiling faintly.

Bliss - well, everything about her really does scream Southerner, from her heavily accented voice, her audacious style of dress, and on and on. This isn't the most familiar of music to her either, but it's very atypical of most balls as it is. She holds Grazia's eyes, smiling at her, then lifts the woman's hand suddenly along with the tempo, her hips starting to gyrate slowly in rhythm with the beat. She takes a step to the left, lifting her hand and suddenly turning the Duchess to face away from her, before pulling her back in so that it's back-to-chest. She tilts her head in to whisper something to the woman, before stepping back and beginning to undulate her whole body more to the pulsing rhythm.

Frankly, Sidney looks delighted to have his drink manhandled in a random act of butlering -- he promptly releases the wine glass, watching avidly as the contents are transferred to a new and unsullied tumbler, and then watches Cedric go with open admiration. He manages a half-bow to the departing king and entourage and then takes a moment to reorient back onto Giulio. "Sidney," he introduces himself, returning Giulio's smile with a warm flash of a grin. "Sidney Whisper. A pleasure to meet you, Lord Mazetti -- and my compliments to your brewmaster."

Scipio has been here the whole time. No, really, he has! He's been schmoozing and drinking, ever the gracious host, seeing to the guests' every need. But as the guests begin to file out, and the room grows emptier, he approaches the remaining gathering of people. A smile on his lips, he watches as Bliss' dance unfolds, tugging out a nearby seat at the bar and easing down into it.

Scipio has joined the Semi-circular Bar.

Grazia wouldn't be dancing at all if it weren't for Bliss; she's just not very musically inclined. She does try to keep up gamely, nonetheless, though there's something a bit stiff about her that makes her come off as slightly awkward when dancing. Nonetheless, she manages, murmuring quietly to her dance partner as they trip the light fantastic.

"Indeed, a pleasure as well," Giulio offers, a faint smile toying his lips as he regards Sidney, his head tilting towards the man. "I hope affairs of late have treated you well?" One corner of his mouth twists up in a smile. The glass is cradled in his right hand, stem between middle and index finger. At Cedric's correction, his fingers twist, faintly amused, before he looks back towards Sidney. "The party has gone well?" he asks, after a long moment.

As they move back toward the bar Niklas grouses, "You people spent my first two weeks back shoving alcohol into my face from every direction and now that I want a drink you tell me I can't." Leaning against the bar Niklas narrows his eyes at the selection of boozes and booze-adjescent products. "Ugh. Uh. Can I please have a, gods, an apple cider? No, wait. Lemonade. I'll take a lemonade with a sprig of thyme, lightly muddled. And a thimble of that pomegranate concentrate, if you please."

Even with Grazia's stiffness, Bliss seems to be having fun, though that might be entirely from the quiet conversation the two are sharing, the Whisper with a bright grin on her face as she does so. She takes mercy on the woman as the music dies down, holding out her hand to take Grazia's after and simply standing there on the dance floor as the others twirl around them, continuing to talk quietly for a moment.

"Lord Giulio, Master Whisper..." Sabella pauses when she sees Scipio. "Princess Sabella Grayson," she introduces herself unprompted, "I don't think we have met before! And you've done so well without I think this would not be the time to start back up again," she says to Niklas, ordering herself a tea, "So, don't tempt him with your amazing wares, Lord Giulio!"

Lifting his glass of pear liquor (surely delicious, legally-produced booze shouldn't be sullied with the name of moonshine), Sidney gives Scipio a toast that's half welcome and half warm sympathy for his fellow Whisper's exhaustion. "I am grateful to say I've been entirely untouched by affairs of late," he answers Giulio cheerily, "and so I've been very well, my Lord, thank you. The party has gone excellently, and I believe we're to have a duel out of it, which is always good -- and keeps our Softest occupied," he adds, in a loudish stage whisper which Bliss would certainly be able to hear if she weren't dancing.

"And yourself -- selves?" Sidney tacks on politely, looking from Giulio to Scipio and back.

The music in Whisper Hall seems to finally be dying down, though conversation continues among many small clusters of attendees at the ball. There is no rush to empty the room, but it seems that the time for dancing has officially passed, the part of this that is the ball proper drawing to a close.



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