Grayson Family Dinner! 2
June 15, 2018, 8 p.m.
Arx - Ward of House Grayson - Grayson Mansion - Dining Room
Comments and Log
3 Iron Guard Trainees, Princess Sally Acorn, an acorn toting red squirrel, Princess Muffin, the fluffiest white puppy arrive, following Kenna.
The table has been set, delicious food spread out everywhere, and Sabella is just sprucing up a couple of flowers in a vase off to the side, "This all looks great, thank you!" she tells the staff, stepping back to take it all in. Oh, yeah, Best setup she ever supervised!
Willen arrives, following Lou.
Lou made it. Yay! Willen follows after her as her plus one. He goes to get some food and finds an unobtrusive place to sit, while Lou takes her time looking around.
Grady ambles in all casual and not-a-Grayson, but he's comfortable and whistling a jaunty tune. That's right. Jaunty. And when he sees Sabella he positively beams. "Princess Sabella! When I heard you were hosting I knew I had to come. You look wonderful this evening. How are you?"
Alejandra, a snowy white hound, 2 Grayson House Guards, Planchet, an unrelenting valet, 2 Iron Guardsmen arrive, following Ainsley.
Alejandra, a snowy white hound, 2 Grayson House Guards, Planchet, an unrelenting valet, 2 Iron Guardsmen leave, following Ainsley.
Alejandra, a snowy white hound, 2 Grayson House Guards, Planchet, an unrelenting valet, 2 Iron Guardsmen arrive, following Ainsley.
A little bit on the late side Ainsley makes his way into the dining room. He's dressed in seasilks, but has his swords with him. Asharion is resting on his hip, and making fussy noises. His wobbly head held up and looking around the room.
Sabella beams at Grady, "I'm doing much better now that my family and friends are here and arriving! How are you doing? I was sad to miss the apple festival, I heard it was fun!"
Harlan comes in not far after Ainsley, wearing ...also seasilks! He's alone though -- no children, no one else. Just him. He does, however, make a face at the baby -- not a mean one, more of a 'make a face at a baby' face.
3 Armed Confessors, Confessor Dunn, 1 Grayson House Guards, Confessor Wick, Confessor John arrive, following Gareth.
Kenna skips in as one of those FAR OFF family people who probably isn't going to stay long. Right to Sabella's side the woman comes and slips an arm into Sabella's. "Princess, it looks AMAZING."
Grady beams at Sabella. "Well it was a grand time, so you missed it and we missed you. I won't pretend it wasn't wonderful fun, but I also won't pretend it wouldn't have been brightened by your presence. You do know how to liven a party." His smile widens further as Kenna joins them. "Lady Kenna well met again! It's good to see you here. Apparently you do know absolutely everyone." He winks.
Lou stands for a few moments more, and then wrinkles her nose. "Are there any comfortable chairs I can get out of at the table," she looks over at Sabella with a half-pleading note to her voice. Lou almost never pleads, but then Lou is almost never the size of a whale either. The last time this happened was three years ago!
"Everyone, please feel free to have a--baby!" Sabella squeals when she sees the plus one that Ainsley has brought, holding her hands out and making grabby motions, "I can take him if you need a break! Kenna, thank you! Duke Harlan, I hope you were able to find the perfume you were looking for! And Lord Grady, I shall make sure to make it next time. Everyone please, have a seat wherever you'd like and feel free to help yourself if you're hungry enough not to wait to be served. And yes!" Sabella says to Lou with a laugh, pointing to a few comfy arm chairs that have been pulled to the ends of the table, "I thought you might need something like that. There's footrests too if you want!"
Gareth checked willpower at difficulty 15, rolling 9 higher.
"I mean, //everyone// is a long way to say it but..." Glancing around, "I've probably been in the same room as most people here?" Kenna grins back at Grady before stepping to look about. Ainsley and the baby get finger-wiggle hellooo because there are people demanding baby time of him.
Clack. Clack. Clack.
The sound that Gareth makes is heard as the longcoated Inquisitor makes his slow miserable way into the dining hall. Just in time to hear Sabella shouting about babies. The Inquisitor stops at Sabella's exclamations, and stands there for a long silent moment. Looking back from whence he came for just a moment as if he might go right back out. But eventually, it seems he decides to brave the dinner and slowly makes his way to the table to find his seat.
Isabelle, who isn't happy to be doing this arrives, following Niklas.
Asharion scrunches up his face and blows raspberries at Harlan. Ainsley gives a small smile, "Duke Ashford." And then there's Sabella squealing in delight, and dutifuly he hands the wobbly headed child off to her. Asharion looks up at her face and babbles just a little bit more. And drools.
Harlan shakes his head towards Sabella and smiles, "No, Princess. I've been unable to find exactly what I'm looking for yet, but I will." He smiles towards Ainsley and nods, "Your Highness." He moves to take a seat.
Lou gives Sabella a completely relieved look and makes her way down the end of the table. As she does, she snags herself a glass of whiskey, and a plate of food, which she balances atop her bulging stomach. "Thank the gods," she tells her sister. "You have no idea, yet, how much you struggle during these final weeks. And how much your ankles swell. Getting up and down in some of the furniture we have is a feat, and more often than not I have to call for help." Something Lou /hates/ to do. ABHORS.
Lou has joined the Dining Table.
Harlan has joined the Dining Table.
Grady has joined the Dining Table.
Sabella expertly balances Asharion on one shoulder, apparently not caring about all the drool that's happening, patting his back soothingly and automatically rocking. She has lots of auntie practice! Then she sees the latest arrival and beams, "Gareth! Please, sit! Help yourself! Or they'll be out to start serving in a moment. So, for those of you who have not been to one of these lately, we will go around asking everyone to say something they have been up to or working on, then that person will name the next person and we will continue while we eat and chat until everyone has gone and we are all caught up on each other's lives!" She laughs at Lou's description of pregnancy. "I may or may not have told Cook to make things that might inspire that little baby to finally join us," she says to her sister with a grin. "And the way you describe it is so lovely I think I shall stop drinking my morning tea immediately!"
Grady has little to comment on when it comes to pregnancy, as he has no children currently. And so instead he just fills his plate and finds a seat and settles in, introducing himself to those sitting close. "I'm Lord Grady Deepwood," he comments. "And I haven't crashed one of these things but Princess Sabella is an absolute delight so I was pretty sure she wouldn't throw me out."
Kenna drifts towards Ainsley. "Prince Ainsley," there's totally a cheeky tone in her voice. "I have something //very// serious to talk to you about. You know, eventually."
"...don't need any more condolences. Just send back, uh, 'thank you', blah blah, whatever. You can come up with something." A drawn looking Niklas Kennex is escorted into the dining hall, along with his always sour but now exceptionally unhappy looking assistant. "Okay. This is dinner. I won't need you for the rest of the day. Go see some friends. Take tomorrow, too. Please." Niklas continues into the room just in time to hear Sabella's last words and he looks from her to the baby and then turns back to his retreating assistant. "Isabelle, I need you to get me a scrotal hammer."
Ainsley eyes Kenna distrustfully as he takes a seat. "Never trust a Whitehawk when they use that tone." He says plainly, but tilts his head toward her none the eless and says, "I'll available at your convenience." And then he smiles toward Sabella and Asharion. The baby lifts a hand and waves it, hitting the princess in the side of the face.
"Lord Grady Deepwood." Gareth says coldly as he settles down at the table. Sabella is given a long flat look when she describes the schedule of the evening and looks down at the space of the table in front of him. A slow breath is taken. Before looking back up to Grady. "Inquisitor Gareth Grayson." Comes the introduction back to the Deepwood Lord.
The Inquisitor glances as Niklas as he walks into the room. He says nothing but does give Niklas a deep nod. A deep nod. Which is like practically a hug from Gareth. Then he is looking back to the table. "The Deepwoods had a celebration recently." He states rather flatly to Grady. "Were you involved?"
"Your distrust is hurtful." Kenna says with all the sorrow, but can't hold it for long before she grins. "Since I have a mini-Alejandra now, does that mean that I have to train her like Alejandra? I'd have to find someone for that, and right now Princess Muffin just seems //way// to cute."
"It's not so bad in the first months," Lou tells Sabella. She then takes a moment to look around at the others. She offers Niklas a faint smile, nods to Ainsley and gives him a scrutinizing look, and then smiles over at Grady, Gareth, Kenna, and Harlan. "Lou Grayson," she introduces herself to those she doesn't know exceptionally well. "Harlan -- the Society of Explorers wanted to know if we could either purchase the kaleidoscope from you or borrow it to be placed in the museum we will be building in the future."
"Yes." says Ainsley to Kenna with a nod of his head. "You should have her chasing the recruits as soon as she is able. It's good for both the dog and the recruits." She smiles a little bit but catches Lou's scrutinizing look, his eyebrows lifting toward her. "What?" He asks, blinking a little bit. "Did I do something wrong?"
Grady nods at Lou. "A pleasure, Princess Lou. I like my sister-in-law Emily is a member of your Society. She's very excited to be in Arx and expanding her horizons." Then he looks over at Gareth pleasantly enough, that easy smile still on his face. "Inquisitor Gareth, pleased to meet you as well. I was," he confirms. "The Harvest festival. I'm told we host it every year, though this is the first time I've been able to participate. Why? I know I made a tactical error in the apple bobbing contest, but that's hardly a matter for the Inquisition." He appears to be teasing, not at all phased by Gareth's flat expression. Small talk with a grimace is apparently still small talk.
Sabella reaches up to grab a little baby hand and makes a display of dancing around (carefully) with him, "Oh, Asharion, you want to dance? Watch out, Ainsley, he's going to take after his mother!" She laughs and then beams a brilliant smile towards Niklas. Look, Niklas! A baby! She laughs again when she hears what he calls out to Isabelle and makes a face at him, "I was just kidding! We haven't even had the ceremony yet. People would talk! And I think we all know the only talk we want to hear about is how great the Graysons are. So," she turns to the table, "I shall go first. And let us try to keep things to happy moments or things that we are proud of." She may let her gaze linger on Gareth just a little. Be good! "I'll start! I'm not sure if any of you are aware, but Lord Niklas and I are getting married! Yes, yes, I know the Compact will breathe a sigh of relief when I stop talking about it, but I am so excited!" She extends the hand that isn't holding the baby towards Niklas, but then quickly sets it back on the baby's back. Wiggly little baby! "Okay. That was me. Now...Lou! What have you been up to besides growing the next adorable Grayson baby? Tell us, then name the next person to answer!"
Gareth's nod does not go unmissed and for a second Niklas' expression falters, but just a second, then he's all smiles as he continues on into the room. As he requested, Isabelle makes herself scarce and goes off to live the full and rich life she probably has when Niklas isn't looking. When Sabella holds out her hand to him he crosses over to take it, giving the baby in her hand a dubious look. "Hello, little," Niklas squints at Asharion for a second, then says, "prince?" Babies, right? When Sabella calls on Lou he turns to look at the Pathfinder.
"I might have to pick your brain about how to do it. Unless I tie treats to the trainee's legs..." Kenna goes thoughtful as she tosses that idea at Ainsley. Iron Guard trainees would totally love having treats tied to them, right? When Sabella begins speaking and mentions weddings Kenna laughs but abruptly puts a hand over her mouth so that she isn't TOO rude.
"Prince Asharion Grayson." says Ainsley with a small smile. He makes his way over and gently reclaims the infant boy from Sabella, to make his way back to a seat with the littlest Grayson. He bounces the boy slightly and then rests him against his shoulder. He tries not to laugh but fails at Kenna's suggestion, and then gives a small shake of his head.
Gareth looks over to his cousin, bowing his head ever so lightly. "Princess." There's a pause. "Lou." Only slightly overpronounced. At Grady's talk of the contest and the apple bobbing contest, Gareth just watches him, quietly. But finally, "Why don't you leave what is a matter for the Inquisition to the Inquisition." Gareth suggests, voice quiet but with steel in it. "Apple bobbing contests are first on the path to darkness." A long look at Grady before he looks straight once more. A joke! ...Right? It's hard to tell. When Sabella looks at him, a stare is returned to her.
Jordan arrives late to the dinner and... claims a seat at the tail of the table. He bows his head to the assembled royalty and nobility but otherwise keeps himself silent as others speak, picking at his food slowly.
Lou chuckles softly in Ainsley's direction. "No. I'm just seeing how you are holding up caring for so many children at once. Mason told me that he talked to you about taking on one or two as wards. Somewhere around Safiyyah's age?" she asks. And, she might say more, but then Grady says the dreaded title. She looks over at him, doing her best to keep a pained expression from her face. "Please, just call me Lou. It's just easier, for everyone, I assure you," she says with a smile. She looks back over at Sabella and says, "The Explorers finally finished searching through the rubble at Stormwall and they found a shady dealer profiteering on the tragedy of Stormwall. I've also been working on a project for the King." She looks around, "I nominate Jordan to go next."
"Sir Ober!" Sabella says brightly, "We're asking people to share a happy recent memory or event or accomplishment! Once you share, you pick the next person to go." She relinquishes the baby to his father if only because it allows her to wrap her arms around Nik so she can give him a quick hug, "Have a seat and eat! There's just so much food!" She turns her attention to Lou as her answer, "They're finally finished? That's a great accomplishment! I'm sure the Crovanes are so grateful to you for organizing it, Lou. And everyone near there must be relieved that you took care of that profiteer." She shakes her head like, some people! And then she stares at Gareth for a second, leaning over to say to Niklas in a stage whisper, "Did Gareth just make a joke?"
Niklas returns Sabella's hug, then makes his way over to the table, where he pulls out a seat into which he collapses bonelessly. Gareth's comment gets a snort, but not a full on laugh, hedging his bets just in case the inquisitor is being serious. Deciding that it's a waste to let good food go uneaten, Niklas leans forward and prepares a plate full of what the hell ever for Sabella, roast beef and chicken and onions and turnips and parsnips and brussels sprouts and more. In the end he looks at the loaded plate and then sets it down in front of himself and leans in to make another one for Sabella, this time going a little lighter on everything. In response to Sabella's whisper he gives her a smile. "We can only hope. Or else apple bobbing is eve worse than I thought."
Jordan looks around as if he's unsure he was just called up, but he clears his throat while he musters the courage to go and announce achievements, "I helped House Grayson with the clearing and assessing of a then-defunct mine called Dusklight Collier, have improved the storage conditions and the fortifications of the settlement that is now known as Oak's Rest and I've helped House Halfshav with some Shav diplomacy up North. Let's see..." He pauses, "Well, I've also been working on improving certain personal things and I was recently promoted to General and Minister of War of House Ashford by His Lordship," he nods to Harlan. "Thank you, my Lord. I am deeply appreciative of the honors you've bestowed upon me with them."
Jordan considers those at the table. Looks like he'll need a moment to decide who he's calling up! "Who went already?"
"Just Lou and I! You were the third person to go," Sabella tells Jordan with a smile, taking a seat beside Niklas to dig into some food.
When Jordan mentions the new mine Kenna claps very very loudly. Because that's what people do for accomplishments.
Harlan merely smiles and nods towards Jordan, "You've earned it, Sir Jordan."
Lou gets stared at when she makes that request. Gareth watching her for a long moment before his attention is stolen by Sabella calling out Jordan's arrival. Gareth glances that way and gives a nigh imperceptible nod. At Sabella's stage whisper the Inquisitor gives a sharp gaze down towards her and Niklas. As Jordan speaks, the Inquisitor slowly looks down over to him and arches a brow. His gaze hardens, brows narrowing ever so slightly before the Inquisitor looks back to his plate, and ever so slowly goes to pick up his fork.
Grady looks with interest at Jordan as he speaks, but he murmurs to Lou, "Sorry about that. I tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to titles. Just Lou then. It's good to meet you in person, I've heard a few good rumors about you so it's a pleasure to see rumor come to life." And Gareth? Gareth just gets an irrepressible grin in response to what Grady is apparently sure was a joke.
"Oh, I had heard of that appointment and should have congratulated you earlier! Your career is certainly one worth watching, Sir Ober," Sabella gives the knight a nod and a smile. "And the mine was definitely a great accomplishment! It was so wonderful to see everyone coming together to make that a reality! And of course, we are all thankful that Prince Ainsley was so keen to find it in the first place."
Jordan nods back to Gareth, considering the man's expression, and what was not said. Nodding back to the Inquisitor, then, he looks over to the Kennex playwright, "Lord Niklas, if you haven't gone yet."
2 Ashford House Guard arrives, following Olivia.
Niklas offers Jordan brief applause. "Well done, Sir Ober." He mashes a turnip into his plate and scoops some butter onto it. When Gareth turns his glare their way, Niklas looks back to Gareth with a wan smile. And then, because nothing cheers like bothering Gareth, Niklas throws up a hand and gives Gareth a wave. "Hi Prince Gareth! It's me, Niklas! Kennex! I'm marrying your cousin! Sabella! Grayson!" Just in case he was confused. And then when Jordan calls on him he pales somewhat. "Ah. Happy... memories. Right. Um. My wedding was announced, though I think Sabella got that. My play is finally in the final stages of preparation, so we should see a debut date announced here soon. Uh." He glances helplessly at Sabella, then says, "I... got to go back to Stormward..." He falters, takes a breath, and says, "Princess Sally Acorn, what have you been up to? Lady Kenna, I would ask that you translate."
Bartholomew arrives, following Cedric.
Lou smiles brightly at Grady. "I understand, and there's no need to apologize. You wouldn't have known if I didn't tell you." She raises a brow at him, "What sort of rumors have you heard? I can assure you most of them are made up!" At least, if he's been listening to bards! She squints over in Niklas and Sabella's direction almost accusingly. And then Jodran is speaking and she smiles even more brightly than before. "Sir Jordan is my protege, and I'm quite happy to hear all about his accomplishments." There's a look of pride on her face.
Cedric checked dexterity + stealth at difficulty 15, rolling 27 higher.
Olivia shows up a little late, and likely murmurs apologies to whoever accosts her first. Then she promptly, as is her habbit, goes to find Harlan, finding a seat near her brother. "Sorry, sorry. I was held up in the grips of my green friends!" She probably doesn't mean literally. Probably.
"Gin, my lord?" Cedric asks gently behind Harlan's shoulder. Whoa! Where did he even come from?
Harlan nods towards JOrdan at something and says, "Write it up and let me know." He smiles warmly towards Olivia and then continues that smile as he accepts a glass of gin from Cedric, his attention more on everyone else.
Cedric bows his head to Harlan and looks then attentively to Olivia, the same question he asked the duke lingers in his eyes, except for her.
Grady waves his hand at Lou's sally, but he's smiling, even as he listens to others talk about what they're doing. In between he comments, "Oh, the usual - an excellent mind and adventurous spirit, hard worker. Puts heart and soul into running the Explorers' Guild well."
Princesses should have some HEIGHT to them? Right? Right. So Kenna pops out of her seat when Niklas calls out her name. There's a bit of coaxing to get Princess Sally Acorn to actually show her face though. "Sorry Lord Niklas, she's been shy ever, well, for a bit." Finally the little red squirrel is settled on Kenna's shoulder rather than perched under Kenna's hair. There. "She has a new absolute best friend, Princess Muffin, of the //utmost// esteemed line of Prince Ainsley Grayson via the most beautiful Alejandra. It's just too bad that Princess Muffin couldn't make it tonight, she was tuckered out after our patrol earlier. With that....
Gareth checked composure at difficulty 15, rolling 4 lower.
Kenna's eyes roam about and settle on Gareth with a clap of her hands. "Prince Gareth! You look like you have ALL of the happy events to share." Totally straight face for that.
Sabella reaches out to take one of Niklas' hands and gives it a squeeze, "The play is going to be amazing. Everyone here is going to go see it, right?" She looks around the table, still smiling, but now that smile comes at a cost. And that cost is the price of a ticket to Niklas' play! She laughs when Kenna finally gets Sally to come out. "Congratulations on the new arrival to the family, Princess Muffin!" She raises her glass of water to toast the happy occasion, then looks to Gareth curiously.
"Lady Olivia," Jordan greets with a smile to the Voice of Ashford, nodding again to Harlan. "Expect a messenger forthwith, then." With a grin to Lou's words, there's a bow of his head towards her. "It is my honor to be your protege, Lou. And worry not, I'll still go on adventures when you call on me to do so," he winks to the Princess with an easy-going smile. "It's been a busy couple of months and it'll only get busier in the future, but I expect I'll be able to get things done in a timely fashion." Leaning in, he asks of Olivia, "How's the orange tree? You know, the one with the forked branches."
Niklas gets a long blank stare at his greeting. But as Niklas is smiling at him and waving with his stupid hand and cheerfully waving all those teeth. Gareth sits there, unwavering. Until Jordan calls on Niklas. And something incredible happens. The scarred inquisitor lifts one hand and gives a wave mirroring Niklas' dumb wave right back to him. The floppy fingers sort of wave. He doesn't smile, and he doesn't call out. And he might be chomping down on his tongue so hard he might start bleeding, but the gesture was made. Gareth then looks to Kenna expectantly.
Ainsley some how finds his way back to Lou after dealing with a series of questions from house servants. He settles Asharion against his shoulder once more and says to Lou, "As to the question of Wards.. There aren't too many that are around Safiyyah's age. But any young enough, yes. There's none older than ten, but they range from toddler to ten." There's a brief sorrow in his gaze and he touches the back of his son's head, his gaze shifting to the ceiling and then back to the people at hand.
Stage whisper from Kenna, "Prince Gareth, you're suppose to say something awesome that's happened." Paraphrased directions before Sally decides that she has had WAY TOO MUCH in the way of people and is going to make her escape. Right out that door, "oops! Sabella it was lovely!" And Kenna's just going to race after her squirrel before she gets lost in the Grayson Place. (It's big, okay?)
Gareth's lips thin. "I'm getting married." He says dryly, before going to take another bite of meat. Apparently, he's done. He flicks his eyes around the table. "Prince Ainsley. You're next."
Olivia smiles back at Jordan as she settles. "Sir Jordan, it's always nice to see you." Although if there's some secret code regarding the trees... she seems oblivious to it. "Erm, which? Almost all of them have forked branches. But they're doing well in general, all the new plants are. This season is the first test, really, how well they'll survive the colder seasons in the indoor warmth."
3 Iron Guard Trainees, Princess Sally Acorn, an acorn toting red squirrel, Princess Muffin, the fluffiest white puppy leave, following Kenna.
Niklas returns Sabella's hand squeeze, giving her a faint smile. Though Gareth's very bad wave gets an even bigger smile from him. A glass is lifted toward Princess Sally Acorn and he calls out, "To new friendships!" But then Lady Kenna is running off and Niklas looks to Sabella. "She's Iron Guard. I mean, she's lovely, but... does the squirrel help keep order? I j-" At Gareth's announcement Nik jumps to his feet and starts clapping loud and hard enough that his hands are probably going to go numb. "I AM SO HAPPY FOR YOU, GARETH! Can I hug you? Please? Pleeeeaaaase?!"
Ainsley glances between Niklas and Gareth and says, mildly, "It'll have to wait until the revelry for your announcement is done." He bounces the infant a moment, giving Gareth a smarmy smile. "Congratulations by the way. I mean I already knew, but congratulations nonetheless."
Grady turns a bright look to Gareth. "Congratulations, man! Marriage is the absolute best." He is sure and certain and almost probably sincere. "I wish you as much happiness as I've found with my Jessa, which is the best I can hope for you." He lifts his glass to toast Gareth and then takes a drink.
"I'm sure you have the capability to drown him out." Gareth delivers flatly to Ainsley. "I'm sure my betrothed would thank you all for your warm wishes." Is said in a voice that couldn't be colder. "As do I." To Niklas' eager request, the Inquisitor looks up with thin lips. "I'm afraid my injuries have been acting up the last few days. A hug would be unbearably painful." Whether he means physically or mentally is not clear. "Unfortunately." He adds in, the man's in mourning after all.
"Sir Ober? Gin?" Cedric asks with a slow lift to his eyebrows.
Lou glances curiously over at Cedric as he comes in, and inclines her head. "Lou Grayson. I don't think I've seen you before," she tells him. She gives Ainsley a considering look and nods. "We'd be looking at the toddlers, if you do not already have homes for one or two of them. Kids who can keep Safi distracted a bit with the new baby arriving. We'd, of course, make sure they all get enough attention, but having a friend never hurts -- I think -- when something new comes into your life." She smiles and wiggles fingers over at Olivia when people point out she's there! She turns and grins at Gareth. "Marriage isn't so bad. Mason and I do well." Of course, they were a luv match!
"...goodnight Lady Kenna!" Sabella calls out as Sally and her companion go running out the door. She has a sip of water and gives Gareth a bright smile, "I could not be happier, Prince Gareth, that you and Princess Cassima have found each other...'s trade deals acceptable." When Grady lifts his glass she does so as well, flashing the Deepwood Lord a grin though she is then distracted by Lou, "Wait, did our parents get you a companion when I was born? Is that where that dog came from?"
"You know, Prince Gareth, I am related to Princess Cassima." This is almost certainly not true. Niklas gestures between the Prince and his own betrothed. "And you are Sabella's cousin. So when the marriage goes through that basically means the two of us will be brothers." Niklas counts off something on his fingers as if working out the math on this, then nods, satisfied that his conclusion is one hundred percent accurate and legal. "I'll have to tell Bastien that he's been replaced as my best pal."
"I don't think..." Ainsley starts and then stops, looking briefly pained at Lou. "You have to understand..." He stops again and shakes his head, saying, "We can talk about it more later." Then he lifts his gaze to the people gathered in general and clears his throat, "Well... I've recently been helping look in on the history of House Grayson, and have learned about a man named Alaricus, the Gray Son. Who we believe to be the founder of Grayson now. Who built Bastion."
Olivia waves back at Lou in a similar fashion, all wiggling fingers, and smiles happily. Though, beyond that, she does still seem less exuberant than the general company, remaining close to her family and their immediate retainers. She does offer a sort of generalized, "Congratulations," with all that is being announced, even if she's not well-acquainted with most of the parties. Though, she does help with Cedric as Lou seems curious: "This is Cedric! Who is, as usual, so busy waiting on us it looks like he's not enjoying himself, which seems a shame."
"Cedric Primm, your highness." says the Ashford butler to Lou as he finishes pouring gin for Jordan. "I am a fixture at the Ashford House, which may account for it." He stares at the setup for a moment and then reaches forward to adjust the silverware before Jordan and murmurs, "This one is for salad."
Ainsley adds, "And, uh, if Olivia hasn't gone. Lady Olivia, you're next."
"I helped with that too!" Sabella says excitedly to Ainsley, putting her (correct) fork down to continue, "It really is all fascinating! I mean I didn't understand half of what was found out and there's now a number of other thingsI would like to look up for clarification, but it's amazing what is bundled into all of the house histories! And ours is the best, of course." She pauses to take a drink of water and looks over to Cedric with a warm smile, "Ah, the legendary Master Primm? I am honored to finally meet you, I have heard stories about how amazing you are."
"Nothing is final, Lord Niklas." Gareth states firmly, "Except for--" There is a pause and Gareth's lips thin. "The greatness of House Grayson. None Greater, and welcome to the family, Niklas." Gareth is then looking over to Ainsley, in between him and Lou. "I too am curious, Prince Ainsley if you plan to raise forty children here in the manor all on your own. It must take a significant amount of time." At Ainsley's revelation however, Gareth arches one brow. "Interesting, if you have any documentation on the man I would be much obliged if you passed it forward to me."
Lou inclines her head to Ainsley, deferring to tabling the comment on the matter of the children. She inclines her head to Cedric, offering a warm smile. "A pleasure to meet you," the explorer says to the Ashford butler. Likely, she's trampled QUITE a bit of dirt through that house, following Aislin around. Large clumps of it, really. She looks back to Ainsley then. "I heard something of Alaricus, but not much more than basic details. If you need help into the research, I can spare Willen or someone else for it. I believe this week my glyph research for the Explorers is finishing. And, I still have two other assistants who are free, even if it does finish."
"Yes, well, that's why," Jordan winks at Olivia. "Can't have favorites among orange trees, I don't think. Glad to hear they're doing alright." There was no code, apparently! "I suppose the first season does determine whether the plants are suitable or not for their new homes." He does look at Ainsley with interest at what he says.
Olivia suddenly whirls on Ainsley, looking a little more frightened than is normal for a dinner party. "I'm next? Next for what?!" She did come in late! She glances back at Jordan. "What are they going to make me do?"
Jordan adds, to Cedric, "No, thank you. I'll take mead, though."
"We're going around saying some happy things or accomplishments that have happened to us recently," Sabella tells Olivia. "Then you call upon the next person. I think...Duke Harlan has yet to go and Lord Deepwood."
"Of course, Sir Ober." Cedric directs another of the staff to fetch the mead - which apparently isn't good enough for Cedric to carry. No. He only holds bottles of Ashford's finest. Though he doesn't allow -that- servant to serve the knight until he's made sure that servant's collar was properly smoothed down. He backs away from the table a touch and gives a stiff, forward lean with a dip of his head to Sabella. "You are too kind, your highness."
"Oh." Well that's not as terrifying as it could be. Olivia probably worried they were going to make her sing or dance on the table or something. "Well, that's not terribly difficult. We've just been talking about the orangery, which Harlan had built for me, for Princess Tikva's gifting day... and I've been working on growing a variety of things." That her accomplishments would be plant-related should shock no one that knows her! "I'd say recently, I'm most pleased with getting a certain strain of dahlias growing successfully, as they are not native to this climate."
Ainsley says to Gareth, "I'll have the paperwork sent over and as for the raising of them." He shrugs a little bit and says, "The first thing that we must do is determine what kind of homes they will need, what sort of environment that must be provided for them they're..." He waves a hand a moment, "Badly scarred-- on the inside."
Ainsley says to Sabella, as an aside, "Do you want to help me keep looking into it, Sabella? If you have time this week?"
Niklas tucks into his food, raising his eyebrows at Gareth at the protestations but not otherwise pushing his luck. He swallows and looks over to Olivia and whispers, "Lord Deepwood is the last who hasn't gone, I believe!" Then he shoves a lump of ham into his mouth that should probably choke him. Once it's down he whispers to Sabella, "We should be in the Great Murder Hall, Sabella. I want to play that stupid piano thing."
Sabella smiles at Olivia, "How lovely! That was a very thoughtful gift, Duke Harlan! It's a good thing he knows you so well. What sorts of things are you growing?" She asks, before turning to Ainsley, "I'm afraid I haven't got the time to take on any more this week. It's been...it's been a week. I think next week should you still need my help I can find the time! I do find it ever so interesting, there's this whole mythology I never knew about!" She makes a show of grimacing at Niklas' words, "Great Gay Hall! Gay! More happy celebrations have happened there than murders! I mean, I haven't counted, but that is probably the case!"
Sabella adds, "Duke Harlan has also not gone yet, I think those are our last two!" Poor Cedric.
Grady chuckles, leaning back comfortably. "Inspired by yon Sir Ober's example, and Master Venturo's work, I'm setting up a trade delegation to Stormwall to help spur economic growth for Crovane and for us. If you've proteges in need of new markets, do send them my way. And by happy circumstance I'll be able to meet Sir Ober tonight, who I'd intended to look for soon anyway. So things are looking up all around, yes?" He waves around the table. "To new friends, and to passing the turn to Duke Harlan."
Olivia blinks once or twice, reminded she's forgotten the last stop, but it seems like others are on it! So she turns back to Sabella. "Well, most notably a few fruit trees and that sort of thing, that cannot grow in the normal gardens due to the cold. There are a number of other things though, various flowers and bushes, largely ones that are useful as well as pretty." She also looks over at Lou. "If you end up with spare hands, I am doing some research for the Legate... somewhat relating to the flowers I just mentioned. You see, they are not suitable to this climate because they originally grew in the wastes. I'm trying to research other plants that might have as well, in the hopes of one day re-planting the area."
Gareth watches Ainsley for a long moment with an arched brow. "Have you started efforts on that? Surely we are only prolonging the beginnings of their healing by keeping them here." Gareth states, lips thinning. "If you need assistance with it please let me know. Surely our staff, yourself, and our coffers are taxed by forty children, and I am sure we cannot give them all they need of a loving home here. Do contact me." Then the Inquisitor is glancing down at Sabella, then over to Olivia.
"I can spare some hands next week," Lou says to Olivia, offering her something of a smile. "If you'll all pardon me, I think I'm growing tired. I should get some rest where I can. There will be none when the babe is born," she grins a bit.
Ainsley checked composure at difficulty 15, rolling 7 lower.
Cedric checked perception + stewardship at difficulty 15, rolling 37 higher.
"The Wastes?" Sabella sounds surprised when Olivia says that, "I thought no one could really go there because there aren't many places to land a ship safely? It would be a great thing if someone figured out how to do so and even greater if you could get things from there to grow in Arx! What a glorious project!" And then she is smiling brightly at Grady, raising her glass, "I wish you nothing but good news on your ventures and if I can help at all please let me know! Although I don't really know a lot about trading, I am very good at talking."
Cedric slides beside Ainsley and offers a basket before the prince boils over. "Bread, your highness?"
Jordan nods to Grady, lifting his mug of mead, but overall quiet as he listens to the chatter at the table. He'll start eating less carefully now, flashing all a smile and then mentioning to Olivia, "You hadn't told me the Dahlias were starting to grow. That's great news."
Ainsley fixes Gareth with a thunderous look. He draws himself upward and says, "I am Voice of this House, Prince Gareth. What *I* decide to do with our resources is as if Alaric decided it himself. If his majesty has an issue with how I use those resources he will certainly let me know." His lips twist into a grimace, "I knew you were cold, but I didn't think you were-" Then there's Cedric next to him offering him bread, and so Ainsley sits back down and stuffs a piece of bread into his mouth. It is chewed and swallowed and then he says, plainly, "Efforts have been started on evaluating the children. I'll be sure to let you know, since you're so concerned for their wellbeing, what we find."
Niklas looks up with surprise when Prince Ainsley makes his rancor known. He looks from the Prince toward, well, the other Prince, waiting to see how cold Gareth replies.
Lou starts to rise from her, having a small bit of difficulty - but none so much were the seat one of those big plushy chairs. Once she raises, she pauses a moment to see what's going on between Ainsley and Gareth. "Countess Reigna is aiding in the evaluation," she offers. "She's the head of the Physician's Guild and quite capable." It seems Lou might be in the know! But, she leaves it at that. She inclines her head in a show of support for Ainsley. "On that note, I'm headed to bed." She looks over at Sabella. "It was a good dinner. I still dont't have a suitable dress, so it might be murder, death, kittens for your wedding." She grins widely, then takes off! Or, waddles off!
Cedric bows to Prince Ainsley and moves off with the basket. In passing he leans in and whispers something beside Gareth, hopefully breaking the flow of acrimonious chatter just enough to cool it down.
"Good evening, my patron," Jordan says, to Lou, with a bright grin. "Meet me sometime, I'd like to tell you about a proposed expedition you could organize soon. I think you'll like the prospect of adventure it offers."
Lou has left the Dining Table.
Willen leaves, following Lou.
"Good night, Lou!" Sabella calls out cheerfully. Too cheerfully, turning a smile back to the table. Specifically to Ainsley and Gareth, "If there's anything I can do to help, Ainsley, definitely let me know. I'm very good with children. But, Duke Harlan, I think we have not yet heard from you! What happy things have you been up to?" Stress on happy. HAPPY! EVERYONE SMILE!
Grady looks over at Ainsley consideringly. "If you need someone else good at evaluating, I'm somewhat good at determining the general mood and making people comfortable, drawing them out. And I like children." He takes a sip of his cider and then sets the mug down, finishing off the last of his dinner as he talks very seriously. "I know you don't know me well and I certainly wouldn't want to force myself where I'm not wanted, but the offer is there if you need another hand. If those are the children I've heard of, I'd hate to startle them or upset them further but if I can help I will."
Ainsley is fixed with a flat look. Watching the Prince throughout his words, Gareth's features are unwavering. Eyes flat, that wasteland of scars hard void of emotion as usual. The Inquisitor is wordless until Ainsley finishes and then he is looking over to Lou. "A very capable woman." Gareth states softly, when Cedric slides over to him, Gareth neither looks nor moves towards the man though he does respond quietly to Cedric. He watches Ainsley for another long moment. "More to add Prince Ainsley?" There's a light dip of his head over to Grady at his offer, then his eyes are back on Ainsley.
Harlan receives a messenger and says, having been quiet a bit, as someone approaches him, "Excuse me. I'll be right back, and then I'll answer your question, Princess Sabella." He grins, and heads out the door briefly.
Harlan has left the Dining Table.
"The faith sent their ship there, or so I understand?" Olivia answers Sabella. "I don't really know the details, I only saw the announcement and then contacted the Legate about it. But the dahlias grew here, just... by something of an anomaly?" She doesn't seem to have any better explanation for it than that. "So I am trying to preserve and cultivate them in larger numbers. If I was able to put together a larger diversity of formerly native plants, perhaps they could help in restoring the area. Again, it's really only a research project at this point." She, too, ignores anything that isn't happy like it wasn't happening. Lalala.
Helena arrives, following Harlan.
After sharing the murmurred words, Cedric ends by placing a napkin closer Gareth's hand and slips away from the man. He moves to where Harlan was seated and pulls a seat out in anticipation of Helena.
Gareth checked intellect at difficulty 15, rolling 1 lower.
Gareth shoots a flick of a gaze over to Cedric before picking up the napkin to briefly dab at his chin. Then place it back down.
Ainsley checked composure + diplomacy at difficulty 15, rolling 0 higher.
Harlan comes back in a few moments later, with Helena in tow. He heads back towards his seat after helping Helena find one and says, "Before I answer the question, I want to introduce Princess Helena Redrain to everyone. Lena, this is the Graysons and other associated.." He motions to each person in turn as he gives their names, "Lord Grady Deepwood, Prince Gareth Grayson, Prince Ainsley Grayson, Lord Niklas Kennix, who is soon to marry Princess Sabella Grayson, and my sister, Lady Olivia Ashford." He pauses then smiles, "You already know Sir Jordan Ober and Master Cedric Primm, an Ashford trasure." THen he moves to sit down, preparing to answer SAbella's question.
Helena dips her head to the various nobles as they are introduced and she takes a seat, smoothing out her skirts. "Good evening everyone, it's nice to meet those of you who I haven't had the pleasure to meet." She waves at Cedric and Jordan, grinning before she glances around at the others present.
Harlan looks towards Sabella and says, "As Sir Jordan has said, we've been improving Ashford in a number of ways, including the naming of Oak's Rest, and creating a trading hub there. I'm also in negotations in what will apparently be a Compact-wide trading route, and trying to steer that through Arx to Oak's Rest, since we're already working on a road to the city and it is being patrolled. Beyond that, I'm investigating a few things related to the House and family and ... other than that, duty as always" He smiles, "And introduction you all to Princess Helena -- I told her she would likely get on well with both Princess Sabella and Livvie."
Olivia watches her brother vanish and reappear with some curiousity, and perhaps a bit of a wide-eyed grin as he comes back in /with a lady/. "It's lovely to meet you, Princess!" she chimes in from her place, all bright and sunny smiles.
Jordan bows his head towards Helena. "Glad to see you again, Your Highness." With a grin back to the Princess, he mentions, to Olivia, "She likes botany, too. And was rather happy to learn you happen to have an Orangerie."
Ainsley's eyes briefly close and he says to Gareth, "I appreciate your concern for the staff and the coffers of the house, but I assure that our coffers can handle the children, and it is only the calmest, quietest of our staff who are helping with the children, Gareth." His eyes shift over the other man's face, unwavering on the scars. "And they are here, and specifically under _my sole_ authority because they were given up by adults in their lives for demonic sacrifice. No one else may have authority over them until we determine what kind of homes they will need, and until we can determine who is safe and who is not, because I won't risk them being given back to the demon that was _eating them_." It's all said very calmly! So calm! He turns then to look toward Sabella and Grady both, smiling toward them. "I will need all the help I can get in the future, yes. Right now only a small group-- mercies and physicians, lead by Countess Keaton and Mercy Cybele --is evaluating them. But I will need help finding homes, and to make certain those homes are safe."
Sabella gives Harlan a bit of a puzzled look when he steps out, but when he comes back with someone in tow she claps her hands together and does her best not to outright squeal, beaming a brilliant smile at them both, "I am so glad Duke Harlan thought to invite you! Welcome! Oh, do eat and let us know what you're drinking! We have already met but it is lovely to see you again!" She tells Helena. "I think you shall be the last person to contribute to our game--we have gone around saying a happy thing that has happened to us or some recent accomplishment. How fortunate we have you, a new friend, here to end the evening on!" Anything else she says is paused because of Ainsley bringing up demonic child sacrifice at the dinner table. After finding no way to spin that happily, she just nods and smiles, "Of course. Whatever I can do."
Cedric wonders back over to the table with an extra napkin and places it near Helena. "The Northern tradition of a second napkin, your highness. Enjoy your meal." There probably isn't such a tradition, but the words are delivered with such dry pedantry. Probably best not to challenge the old butler. He's not there any more anyway, he's briskly walked to the other end of the room.
Helena gives Cedric a wry grin and she nods, shaking out the napkin that she is given. "A recent happy thing? I found the menagerie and discovered a room full of butterflies. That made me exceptionally happy. It's a nice new quiet place to read." She aims a slightly shy, but happy, smile at Sabella. She leans toward Olivia and quietly murmurs. "I look forward to talking to you, I've heard about some of the work that you'll be doing and I am quite interested."
Grady smiles over at Helena. "Welcome and well met, Your Highness. A pleasure to meet you." And then he's looking back at Ainsley and nods once, though it's clear that despite his easy demeanor he understands exactly what Ainsley is trying to avoid. "Perhaps we can talk later. I have some ideas for a few of them in any case that might help. The benefit of growing up in a large family." He concludes with a smile and then he stands. "Princess Sabella, my most wondrous hostess, and all of you assembled, I bid you good night. This has been an exceptional evening, as I expected it would be. Thank you very much for your gracious hospitality and your company."
Grady is overheard praising Sabella: What a fine hostess!
Grady is overheard praising Ainsley: He looks after the children who have been through so much. What a good egg.
Grady has left the Dining Table.
2 House Deepwood Guards leaves, following Grady.
Gareth continues to watch Ainsley. There is still no emotion crossing the man's features. "Well done, Prince Ainsley." For what exactly is not clear, though the Prince does dip his head to the other Prince across the table. Looking up at Helena, the Inquisitor tips his head to her as well. "A pleasure, Princess Helena Redrain. Inquisitor Gareth Grayson."
Niklas is overheard praising Sabella.
Ainsley checked composure at difficulty 15, rolling 0 higher.
Ainsley looks briefly confused at Gareth and then tilts his head to the side, squinting at the other man for a long moment. A hand lifts and rubs over his face slowly. Something is muttered under his breath and he turns away from the crispy Grayson to Helena, standing to say, "Forgive me for being terrible rude, princess, and not greeting you. Prince Ainsley Grayson, Voice of Bastion." A bow is given and then he retakes his seat, "Welcome to our home. Sabella plans the best dinners."
"I love the butterfly room!" Sabella gushes and probably doesn't surprise anyone with that admission. She gives Cedric a smile for his constant attentions of the guests, then says, "Well, I think we should all be very proud of everyone here! We all have had such great accomplishments since the last time we met and are working still towards others. It is my dearest hope that dinners like these allow us all to grow closer and offer each other support we might need but otherwise never ask for. Thank you all for attending. And please, eat and drink until you're full and then we have rooms to spare if you can't roll yourselves home!"
"I just plan them," Sabella says to Ainsley with a laugh, "It's the company that makes them the best!"
Between what Jordan tells her and Helena's own introduction, Olivia brightens all the more (if it's possible!) "Oh truly?" she first wonders, looking between the Knight and her brother, before fixing on the Redrain Princess in turn, beaming as she speaks of her blissful butterfly reverie. "Oh yes, it is lovely, isn't it? And you must, MUST come see our gardens, the normal ones and the new greenhouse both. I'd be so very happy to have someone to show around who was more than just casually itnerested!" When plants are your friends, its... maybe hard to find REAL friends?
"It's a pleasure to be here, and you are forgiven." Helena makes a face, grinning towards Ainsley. "There was a fight at our last family gathering. I believe Khanne beat the snot out of her brother." She lifts a shoulder in a shrug and gestures to the table. "This is sedate in comparison." She nods towards Olivia and claps. "I'd like that, quite a bit."
"Hence the two napkins." Cedric inserts mildly as he passes the table on his way to the other side of the room.
"I think they were play fighting as an excuse to conspire with each other," Jordan opines to Helena, tapping his nose. "There would be some 'ows' and 'whoas' if there had been actual beating the snot out of someone. I think your older sister would /definitely/ literally beat someone up! I mean, if there was a case of fisticuffs," he grins at Helena, then chuckles at Cedric's mild comment, shaking his head briefly. "As I told you, Your Highness, I foresee you and Lady Olivia getting along wonderfully."
Gareth is overheard praising Sabella: What an adequate dinner.
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