Riven Fealty Dinner
Jan. 22, 2019, 8:30 p.m.
Arx - Ward of House Grayson - Heron Hall
Comments and Log
2 House Riven Soldiers arrives, following Nigel.
With winter having long passed and spring having passed into those warm, pleasant days just teetering on the verge of summer, now seems a fine time celebrate warmth, and life, and the first of the riverlands' harvest. The hall has been flung open to guests, with windows left wide and the tables -- already set -- strewn with garlands and centerpieces made of fresh flowers from the forest outside the city, rather than the hothouses and gardens within.
The candles are all lit in Heron Hall, with the fist courses all set out for the arriving guest, lit by the shining light of the great heron chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. Perry and Mercer wine in pitchers on the table, surrounded by fish, cheeses, and bread, simple fare arranged by a dedicated kitchen-servant with the boundless enthusiasm she displays when the family is taking guests. The hosts arrive from the hearthward doors arm in arm, with Thesarin taking long strides to keep up with the Countess' purposefully hurried pace. Mia is dressed finely, set to recieve friends, vassals, and honored guests, while Thesarin... has clearly made an effort! Scruff shaved, beard trimmed, long hair held up with a comb. You almost wouldn't know him for a Prodigal aside from literally everything.
Whitehawk is in the house -- that is, Evonleigh and Kenna arrive together, laughing as they are escorted into the hall at some joke or the other just said. The warm and inviting candlelit hall and table full of fare is looked at with appreciation by Evonleigh, before her stormy gray eyes find Mia and Thesarin. She drops a graceful little curtsy, before moving forward to greet them. "Count and Countess Riven, how good of you to have us tonight. I hope you are both well?" the Whitehawk actress says. Tonight she's dressed all in copper, as she has been of late, the color a shade or two warmer and deeper than the gold of her hair.
Spring's fleeting presence and the blazing eye of the sun still remains surprising to the copper-haired girl. She may have a short trip to arrive to Heron Hall, crossing the plaza with the stream of her siblings, but it nonetheless falls on her to make the priceless observation: "When did June get here?" Truth in fact, perhaps. Her hair strung by tiny trilliums and fritillaries waves down her back, loose braids caught together by a hawk clip. Scribble follows after her, and wherever her Confessor usually tends to be is off to the side now, staring at a selection of books that he is forced to overlook. The truest way to anyone's heart is apparently through questionable writing, though the contents won't be known unless checked. A friendly wave from her with the warmth of her mercurial moods reckon to greet Thesarin and Mia, though the shadowy flicker of her sky-bright gaze settles between them easily enough. "Thank you for such an opportunity, too, Count, Countess." She steals a look to the side and nods to the countess. "Things for you later."
Kael Keaton is not arriving alone this evening. Nay, he comes with his wife accompanying him on his arm, which is typical of the pair. While they have a stride that, at this point of time, more or less might be considered as one... it is not so tonight. This is likely due to the fact that Kael is carrying an artfully decorated chocolate raspberry cake that has made it all the way from the Valardin Ward without incident. Reigna, for her part, is carrying basket full of little satchels of fruit tea. The problem? Kael keeps on attempting to snare that basket and carry it all, not that tea is excessive in weight, mind. There is a little bit of teasing regarding that, and likely has been from their place of departure. Thankfully once they are through the threshold there is some staff member to relieve them of their bounty and ensure that the two are acting a little bit older then their ages. "Thank you for having us, Countess and Count Riven," greets Kael once he spies the hosts, bowing low in that humble way that he has. Reigna naturally will be offering her own greetings and gratitude.
And then, there is the pleasantly smiling, studious figure of Lord Nigel Riven. A soft smile toys his lips and he bows his head to those present. "Sister dearest," he says, moving to kiss her on the cheek, ever so politely, with a light hug. Thesarin gets a firm arm clasp, before he moves to take his seat. Evonleigh, Kenna and Delilah all receive warm smiles in return. "Ladies Whitehawk," he offers, his head tilting in each of their directions. His head bows respectfully to the Marquis, before he moves to take a seat.
Kenna has to control her giggles as they approach the count and countess. She manages a pretty bow before popping up again. "Count Thesarian," the excitement in her voice hints that she's been super excited to say this for a bit now. "I went fishing again. Didn't catch anything, but I swear I was thisss," fingers held just apart from one another, "close to getting the bugger.
Thesarin returns Nigel's arm-clasp, perhaps... enthusiastically, too much so, giving the smaller man a big shake as he turns to greet the arriving guests. "Marquis and Marquessa Keaton, our thanks for coming. Always glad." He gives a series of nods to the Whitehawk girls as well, breaking up his usual stoic glower with a hint of a smile. "In fine health, Lady Evonleigh." He glances toward Mia, and the small bulge at her middle, but says nothing but looks back toward Delilah with a grunt. "The months go on and on, pass like water in a brook. Talk of it in twenty winters... and so it happens, Lady Kenna. One day I'll need show you the trick of tickling fish out with your fingers." He gestures toward the tables, and moves with Mia toward the chairs at the head. "Come. Sit. Our home is yours."
It's almost an odd thing, really, to see quite how different their hostess is in the comfortable and familiar surroundings of her own home. Seeing their doorway jamming with guests, a soft, even serene smile, paints her face as she leans to accept the peck from her brother and the greetings all around. "Both of the Keatons and, what, a quarter of the Whitehawk sisters?," Mia replies to all of the entrances, her voice arcing up into a teasing note on that last bit. "Thank you for joining us tonight. It's always good to have the hall filled and the chairs jammed a bit too tightly together, if you ask me, and I think we could all use a bit of good wine and good cheer." Though her eyes flick to the cake, then to... the confessor, was it, that Delilah was pointing out. "I'd not been more plates for the table!"
"Lord Nigel, so good to see you," Evonleigh says with a flash of a smile for Mia's quiet brother when he appears, and then another curtsy for the Keaton delegation. "Pleased to meet you, Marquis, Marquessa," she says, before looking back to Mia. "All the sisters on one branch, but not all of the Whitehawk ladies, Countess. We are missing some of our cousins, but they send their well wishes and best regards." She moves to take a chair as bidden by their hosts.
"Lord Nigel, an pleasure to cross your path tonight. I trust you are thriving in these interesting times?" Delilah takes on the task of greetings in kind, responding to the multiple application of a single title with a dulcet laugh tempered against some timely joke. "Given how many Ladies Whitehawk might answer to the name, it's nearly as great a risk as Princess Velenosa about here, isn't it?" A timed dip offered in greeting to Kael and Reigna, /and/ their cake if at all revealed in any olfactory trace, garners further welcome as she brightens to no small degree for the additional company. Merriment sends her drifting after Mia, a brilliant smile cascading out of the eclipse of her mood for no apparent reason other than good company. "Your hall is one of the prettiest I have seen, and such company is a good thing. If we make wine or cider in season, you might find half of the occupants never leave." A conspiratorial wink dashes any notions of seriousness that never prevail on her. "Don't worry about Octavian; he considers himself, unfortunately, on duty and irrepressibly bound to wander outside, but I cannot manage a box by myself."
"It makes it easier to not get our name wrong," Kenna says cheerfully in Nigel's direction before she turns to head for her own chair. "I fear I might not be dexterous enough for them to think me anything but a fumble-fingered bookkeepr-turned Guard. At least my hook has something dead and apparently yummy to entice them in." She plops herself down in the table but spares a tiny wave towards the unfamiliar Marquis that others have greeted. And that cake. Don't mind her as she leans forward Juuussstttt a touch to get a sniff. Her mother would swear she wasn't raised in a barn.
Shake, shake, shakity shake. That's Nigel. It's surprising that he doesn't fly into the wall, but, no, he manages to remain standing -- until, well, he is seated. There is a small tilt of his head in everyone's direction and his eyes start to sparkle at the mention of wine. Well, more like there's a small uptick. Then, then it fades. At Evonleigh's greeting, he flashes her a warm smile. "Lady Whitehawk," he says, softly, before glancing to Delilah. "Lady Whitehawk, I am most well," he remarks. He is too polite to offer a pun on the subject, more's the pity, though he does chuckle a little at Kenna's comment.
"Always a pleasure," agrees Kael in turn toward Thesarin, and he might be on the cusp of adding more, but instead he is choosing to turn more quiet and smile instead. Mia is offered a similar smile, friendly as can be, and then Kael ensures that they are not clustering too very much at their hosts. So he moves on, guiding his wife and offering a word or two to her before saying his hellos to the others. "A pleasure to make your acquaintance," he offers forth with that very same smile toward Evonleigh. Except, at this point, Kael himself seems to be aware of just how much smiling and hello's there seem to be. So it morphs slightly, becomes a bit more boyish, a bit more self-aware and amused. It is only a thing that grows as he dips his head low to Delilah thereafter, and another nod of his head toward Kenna, until finally he is turning full circle to Nigel. He simply must, eyes sparkling, pinch his lips at this point from offering a silly little grin (and likely at this point Reigna might be elbowing him), and so he says, "My lord. A pleasure," and bows to him as well before drawing a seat for his wife.
Boxes, large boxes, and ones not containing tea or cake? One black brow arches curiously at that. About to inquire, but then... oh-ho! So it seems that it's time for introductions all around. "Please do excuse me -- I'd assumed you'd all already met. Marquis and Marquessa Keaton, I've the pleasure of introducing you to the Ladies Whitehawk, or at least a portion of them. Delilah, Evonleigh, and Kenna," Mia continues, indicating each in turn. "All sisters. There are also a Tabitha, a Sapphira, and an Elora, newly married, and each with vibrant and similarly shaded hair, which I've no doubt they used to make more than a bit of mischief for their mothers as children. And of course, Nigel Riven, my brother and a Voice of our House. Ladies, Nigel." An equal gesture towards their Oathlands' guests. "The Marquis Kael Keaton and his lovely wife the Marquessa Reigna, whose name I'm sure you've seen penned on many missive pertaining to the health of the Compact's citizen. He's founded the Academy of War, and she heads the College of Physicians. Between the two of them, they mean to see Arvum quite safe."
"And past glad the lot've you could come." Thesrin gives a nod, and raises his perry toward the room. "Spring makes way for summer, and while we've got it, let's make use of it. Good friends, in fine walls, together under our roof." He gives another one of his nods, and starts in at the fish, having retained enough from Mia and Nigel's lessons to at least swallow before he speaks again. "By the by. Has Lord Jyri come to the Academy of War, as yet?"
"Not properly, though of course I know who they are," says Evonleigh with a smile to each of the Keatons. "I admit, I'm still learning all of the faces and names in Arx, though it's been over a year since I've been here. Can I plead not guilty by reason of being busy with performances and diplomatic endeavors? I've been buried by the Good Duke of late, though luckily that's behind me and I can find some time for other endeavors." She tucks a strand of that Whitehawk (or Mercier, really) golden hair behind her ear. "Speaking of which -- how is your library coming, Countess?" Her eyes turn back to Mia.
The Keatons get another fingle wiggle from Kenna, and that cake gets one final eye.
4 Novice Keaton Huntsmen, Gigi, an apprentice physician's assistant, Marie, chef of Keaton Hall, an ebony black Artshall destrier arrive, following Reigna.
Kael receives a warm smile. "The pleasure is surely mine, Marquis Keaton," Nigel says, voice soft but as warm as his smile. At Mia's introductions, he offers a small tilt of his head in return. "I pray you are all well this eve?" The inquiry is offered with a similar level of politesse. He grins to Thesarin, before letting the flow of conversation glide past him, though Evonleigh's comment regarding diplomacy gets a second look, before he is again politely scanning the room.
When they are introduced in such a way, Kael is clearing his throat and bowing his head in a most solemn manner. "Our host is too kind," he murmurs. "Would not most do all that they can for the betterment of Arvum?" With this query he raises a hand, palm up, before gesturing first toward Mia and thereafter to Thesarin, in clear indication of the Rivens themselves. The commentary comes without any hint of artifice or play, for what it is worth, and with another nod of his head he claims the chair next to his wife. Ah, food. The question has him nodding toward Thesarin, saying, "Yes, I believe I have seen him in the rosters though I have been unable to converse with him in person. Natalia must have handled it. I have been unable to get to the headquarters as much as I would like as of late," he admits, "since these... emissaries have arrived. Reigna and I find ourselves in temporary residence at Valardin Manor and I have been conducting as much as I can of my business there."
Ohh, dear. Someone's gone and asked Mia about books. Or libraries. Or universities. Any of the above, really, which soon brings her to settle in her own seat -- and promptly ignore the plates set out in front of her, spending more time buttering a slice of warm bread with one of the delicae little rosettes Mab shaped it into than actually eating it. "Well," she begins. "The library here at Heron Hall is finally being constructed, and though I expect it won't be finished until halfway through summer, I'm afraid I've gone off and bought one of those massive map tables that were being advertised -- quite possibly the last one the seller had. After seeing the Society's map room, I couldn't resist, and I think it will look splended nestled among the stacks, so long as Master Spencer can keep me from heaping things on top of it. As for the university, Nigel gaped at me like a trout, and told me that my schemes would at the VERY least nearly three million silver; I've gathered together pledges nearing two and a half, already."
1 Inquisition Confessors, Scribble, a Delicate Social Butterfly, 1 Bisland pride guards leave, following Delilah.
Reigna has been somewhat quiet to this point, just enjoying the company and listening, though as Mia explains how close they are to their goal she beams, "Oh, that is fantastic news! Congratulations! That is so very close!" Reigna seems genuinely pleased her smile a radiant thing. She rests a hand on the small swell at her stomach and she says, "If we can help at all, please let us know."
"A beautiful map table is hard to resist, I think, especially with a library to fill. I certainly can't fit one in my bedroom or I'd be tempted myself," says Evonleigh with a grin for Mia's exuberance at the mention of the library. "I will send you a donation when I get back to the Manor -- I cannot make up the other half, of course, but I can make the tiniest of chips in it, perhaps." She glances at Nigel, tipping her head as if she can see a resemblance between him and the trout mentioned. "I think an owl might be more apt -- big eyed yet wise?" she says teasingly.
"It seems so far away when you first start saving and seeking investors, doesn't it?" Kenna perks up at the mention of the library's funding slowly coming through. "I almost felt like we would //never// get there when saving up to help Duke-consort Aiden with building the Starfall Mews."
Kaldur ducks into the hall, murmuring thanks to a servant showing him in and straightens to survey the environs. It's the look of a man who has been here before, but his posture suggests it's not a common occurence or he's possessed of an abundant sense of propriety at this moment. He pauses to hand helm and gauntlets to his page, young Jairo having undergone a growth spurt since the days of Randall, Blessed Stick Bug of the Thirteen. He is gangly now, the page, but more dutiful perhaps, disappearing to where the other functionaries gather. "Ah," he offers, copping to the discussion topic, "Perhaps that was my trouble, I didn't have a specific target in mind raising funds for the Great Road." A beat, "Lesson learned. Good evening, all." Kaldur bows, making courtesies to Hosts and Hostesses. Countess and Count. Honored guests.
"Well said," Nigel says, nodding to Kael, before he looks to Mia. He snickers slightly, one shoulder rising in a faint shrug. "I know, I was... perhaps a bit concerned about feasibility as it lay with our existing projects." He spreads his hands. "I was honestly quite shocked at the sheer outpouring of support, though, I suppose I should not have been." Reigna receives a smile as well, his head tilting her way before he looks to Evonleigh. "You are far too kind, Lady Whitehawk," he says, warmly. "But, I thank you for your thoughts." Kaldur's words receive a sympathetic smile.
Then, he is looking about the room. "Oh, I do have a small announcement to make. Princess-Consort Donella Redrain has offered to take me as her protege. I have accepted."
"Aught to help the Countess' work is taken well," Thesarin says in his low rubmle. "We make our way forward, step by step. Lord Kaldur," he says with a lift of his cup of perry, "been a time. Come. Sit." Servants start to file out of the kitchen, bearing the main course--game hen from the grey Forrest, dutifully carved and distributed to the guests. The Prodigal Count looks toward Nigel with his eyebrows raised, and gives a solid nod. "Fine news, Nigel. Reckon you'll do her proud."
There is a sidelong look over toward Mia when she indicates that she is near to her goal, Kael's head tilting a bit to the side. Eventually his gaze drifts over toward Reigna when she is offering forth Keaton aid on the matter. The Marquis follows in the wake of it, nodding his head in reply before reaching forth for a glass of water. Ah, refreshment. He sees quite content with that, Oathlander that he might be. With the arrival of Kaldur, Kael's focusing in on the man and offering forth a nod by way of greeting. "Good evening," he offers forth in an easy enough manner. The announcement from Nigel is enough to summon forth his attention and appraisal of the young man. "Congratulations," he offers forth, lifting his glass of water by way of a toast. "May fine things come of the match."
Princess Sally Acorn, an acorn toting red squirrel have been dismissed.
There's a quiet pause among a few of the servants at Kaldur's arrival, one or two looking to their lord and lady for a moment, before Mia offers the man a hint of a smile. A rare thing, that, but, well. Her own home, surrounded by friends, is a very different place than under the scrutiny of society, isn't it? "Lord Seliki. I was sitting at a table with your father not a week past. You've met the ladies Whitehawk, I'm sure, and remember my brother from our last visit to Pearlspire.... if you've not yet met the Marquis and Marquessa Keaton, I do very much recommend them." A beat, and an impertinent little tic appears at the corner of her mouth. "Though you may have presumed as much, having invited them." A few more pleasantries might have been added, or replies given, but Nigel's news has taken hold. She can't help but crane her neck to look around someone's shoulders over to her brother and really, the sharp nod of approval she gives him may mean more than a grin ever would.
"Congratulations. Redrains make good patrons. Prince Lorenzo is mine, and I couldn't ask for better," Evonleigh tells Nigel. "By marriage if not by birth," she adds, since neither Donella nor Lorenzo started out as Redrains. Kaldur's arrival earns him a dip of her head for the Seliki lord, though she doesn't remark on the road or on fundraising efforts, neither of which are her wheelhouse. "Not so directly, no," says Evonleigh, before making a quick introduction of herself, Deliilah and Kenna, if Kaldur hadn't met her sisters. "A pleasure." She grins at Mia's little joke.
Reigna inclines her head to Kaldur and offers the man a smile, "Greetings lord Kaldur. A pleasure to meet you." She offers him an encouraging sort of look and then looks to Nigel, "Oh, congratulations! That is quite the catch. I find myself still looking for a relationship of that type, myself."
"It's well to find friends from all corners. Days to come, might be we'll be glad of an ally at a place far from our home..." Thesarin gives another slow nod, and another one of his low rumbling grunts at the back of his throat. "...the Countess been making some talks toward Redrain also. Reckons 'em less like to be... put off... than some of the other Houses."
Kaldur tucks his chin, a nod for greetings passed and eschews a seat when bidden by Count Thesarin. "It has been a time, aye." The words are leavened with rue, not simply acknowledging the amount of time that has passed, but the character of it. He stills for a solid second at Mia's smile, glancing behind him, rather sure it's meant for someone else. He ducks his head at Mia's jest, dimples telling in the press of lips - not quite a smile. "I know the Marquis from the Academy of War. It is good to see you both."
Kaldur waves off the offer of a beverage, servant peeling away to continue to others, seated. "Oh, well done, Lord Nigel." He nods, a rapid bobbing to signal acknowledgement. A deep breath drawn, "I'm afraid I'm only here to offer my cousin House and her vassals," a nod to the esteemed Ladies Whitehawk, "Seliki's support and regard." It's a military courtesy he offers now, fist to chest, stiffer bow. "And," he looks longing at the spread, "Having done so, I'll be away." A tray wheels by with those game hens and he watches with hungry eyes. Throat cleared, he snatches his gaze away and smiles again, to hosts, hostesses, liege lady and lord, honored guests, and with a bow, departs, trailed by gangly page.
2 House Riven Soldiers have been dismissed.
Kael's on the cusp of assuring Mia that he knows Kaldur when the young man is speaking up and there comes forth a little chin-up offered in turn toward him along with a smile. "Yes," he answers. "I still remember when you were broaching the topic of infrastructure and remembering your Seliki engineers." There is a nod toward the man, another, and there is no hint of negative connotation there regarding the matter. That being said, he offers no further attempt at chatter toward the man, instead focusing in on the game hen before him. After all, for Kael? There is no finer food. There is however, after a moment or two, a look toward Count and Countess. "How does The Twainfort fare currently? Said infrastructure did make, ah, an impact in many places." His voice softens, confiding his own answer to the very question asked: "Hundreds of hundreds of Abandoned have come to bend the knee at Oakhaven. We are working, quick as we can, to ensure the safety of all involved."
Kaldur's bow is accepted with a deep inclination of her head and a few formal words, before Mia's eyes trail after him as he departs. Her brow furrows just slightly, a hint of concern, before she turns back towards her other guests. "I'm still in pursuit of a patron myself, Marquessa, and had thought it might be wise -- given the fractures appearing in the Compact -- to make more formal ties of friendship to Houses in the North and to the west, myself. If you've any of the Valardins in mind, I would appreciate you take on who might be a fair match, and not quite so young I'd start thinking they might prefer to talk to my daughter than to me.....," she trails off, exhaling once at Kael's question. Well, tha explained something, at least. "Much the same as you, it sounds. Those tribes that have rejected diplomacy in the past, and been strong enough to withstand the rising threats in the Gray Forest, have now come banging down our gates. And not to make war, but to make oaths. I'd say I'm quite pleased, and I am, but a promise made in fear is not the same as one won by respect and love, is it?"
Evonleigh is quieter now that talk turns to graver things, though she's very eloquent in her silence in her way, expressive eyes turning to each speaker in kind as they discuss the serious matters affecting their houses and lands.
"It'll serve," Thesarin says toward Mia with a slow shrug. "For the now. Can build more a time, but that they reckon themselves best to stand beside us, that's a fine thing." Thesarin takes a sip as the deserts are brought out--berries, apples sliced into a sort of flower and sweetened, and the Keatons' cake begins to be carved up and passed around the table. "Then there's the business with Greyreeve. A sister-County to Riven in open rebellion... that's a thing'll need minding." He looks over toward Evonleigh, giving the Whitehawk girl a low nod. "And how does Hawkhold fare? Aught aid Riven can offer?"
Reigna nods in the wake of Kael and Mia's words, "That does sound like Riven has benefited, as Keaton has." She accepts a piece of the cake and a lot of the other treats as she listens her expression growing grave at the mention of Greyreeve. There is a slow nod and her lips purse a bit and she asks, "May I ask the table if anyone has heard rumblings of leanings towards any of the emmissaries?" She looks from face to face, clearly curious, but tinged with a hint of worry as well.
"It is a thing that pleases on one hand, that we are trusted enough -- and I believe a good ninety percent are spoken in earnest. Likely far more than that. But." It is here that Kael is bowing his head, a concession made toward Mia and her very statement regarding those oaths. "Difficult too with with those that they fled from." Kael's eyes move toward Thesarin and he nods to the man, his expression griming further in a most thoughtful manner, but as of late that comes far more naturally than the smile he wears. The question that is posed to Evonleigh has Kael's eyes moving there, his head tilting to the side further, curiously. Ah, and with Reigna's additional query? All the more serious his expression grows.
"I've heard at least one lord make mention of how Cardia would provide the most economic prosperity," Mia answers, her words deliberate, slow. "And not from a lord of House Thrax." The statement itself is simple enough, but given the particular pinch that comes to her lips just then, the tone of her words.... well.... she's not said very much, but it's likely clear that's because she doesn't think very much of such a low opinion. "My own thoughts have been made known to our liege, and to her's." Finally, a small sip of something from one of the cups, and she looks to Evonleigh for her thoughts on the matter.
The mention of Grayreeve has Evonleigh glancing down, though Thesarin's query draws her eyes back up and she smiles, a little wryly. "Well, there's that. I suppose all we can ask of Riven is your support of course," she says quietly. "All I can say on that matter is that Lord Jyri is one of the *most* noble men I know, whether he was born to a title or not, but given I wasn't born with a title myself, my thoughts on the matter mean little to Grayreeve. Other than that -- as ever, we are working on building Whitehawk up and on diplomatic endeavors as well as our conservancy efforts." Her smile returns, only to falter again at the mention of the emissaries from the foreign lands. "I cannot say I like quite what either offers, other than protection. The costs both ask for may be too great to bear, though standing alone may be too hard as well. I would prefer we try to remain true to ourselves rather than dependent on others whose ways are not our own, but I am not the king for good reason, I think."
"Ain't heard much support from other than Ashe." Thesarin gives another slow shrug, and another low noise toward the back of his throat. "Which might be that folk ain't care to voice support for the rest. Or that folk ain't come to me for thoughts on such matters. Ain't can say." He pauses again, taking a bite of the cake the Keatons had brought over, thinking a moment and giving a hint of a smile. "...have a wonder on what was meant calling Shard o' the Few 'Majesty,' also."
That particularly grim expression from Kael is matched well then when Mia is sharing that particular tidbit of information. He tries to wear a noble mask, neutral and fair, but it is to no avail. Instead he vocalizes a low, throaty sort of sound that exists somewhere between growl and grumble. It manifests from deep within his chest, this complaint, and he silences it with a grand drink of his water to polish it off. Also? He is reaching over to slide a hand over Reigna's. No commentary from him, but.
Reigna's expression is dim at the mention of support for Cardia and she shakes her head, though she holds her tongue. She squeezes Kael's hand in her own, offering him a grateful smile. "Apparently she is the last of a noble line from a far away place. Proof that it is always wise to be kind to all, for you never can be sure of their truth." She seems to relax a little hearing Thesarin's words, pursing her lips. "Cardians spin pretty words, but they are not to be trusted."
"Their Praetor set foot on our soil, and within moments, addressed our 'village' and insulted our King. This tells me quite enough about how we should all expect to be treated under their rule, wheter born with a crown or with a single copper to our names, and I'll never counsel the Bislands to accept them. And if I am not mistaken about the Undying Empire's ruler, well." A sniff. "I suspect madness is something of a family trait," Mia mutters.
"I imagine there are some tempted by the promise of magic and wealth," Evonleigh says with a nod to Thesarin about not voicing support, "but I think they know to say so aloud would make them quite suspect should we end up on the wrong side of a war with them. She takes a sip of wine. "I feel rather like a child having to choose between warring parents, and perhaps the parents have not realized the child has grown up and is capable of taking care of itself," she muses.
"I can't reckon the King nor the High Lords would reckon to unmake the Peerage," Thesarin says with a slow shrug of his shoulders. "Too many proud lines who'd sooner take up arms than cast aside proud names to have a foreign master. Were it to be either, I'd guess the Empire." He's quiet again, and gives another low rumble. "But how I say, the King ain't asked for my council."
There is a mutter from Kael, one singular mutter of, "This is going to be a different type of war." There's nothing at all happy in his expression and he eyes his glass somewhat heavily, as though wishing that there was something a great deal more potent then water within. He casts a little bit of a sideye toward Evonleigh with her commentary regarding the parents, but then it's back to the water. Eventually he huffs, takes up a fork and skewers Reigna's cake in a deadly strike. He partitions off a suitable chunk for himself.
"That is what they want us to feel like," Reigna says to Evonleigh. "At least that is my impression. They seek to make us feel like children who need them. They seek to steal our sense of self. If they really thought we were vulnerable, why would they ask us to choose? Would they not simply make moves?" Reigna lifts a shoulder and shakes her head, "The Undying Empire is ruled by Platinum of the Metallic Order. As far as I am aware, he is a rex'alfar and has always fought the Abyss. He has, however, fallen back to old, racial habits. He rules peacefully, however, that peace if paid for in writs that enslaves any who show potential to shape the Dream. These writs are in place so that none may defy him, work against his purpose. His safety is purchased at the expense of free will. We are the Children of Skald. We should not willingly embrace shackles." Reigna stabs at her cake with a fork. "Cardia offers magic and wealth. Certainly. But that wealth is built on the sweat of slaves. And if you were at the Assembly you heard the sheer number of tomes they have to describe their laws. Can you even conceive of how intricate and labyrinthian those laws must be? And the punishment for breaking them? My guess is that is a pair of shackles." Her head shakes and she says, "And then there are all the Abandoned and Shavs. I cannot help but imagine that they and their lives, their freedom will be forfit should either empire declare guardianship over us."
"Of course, even if we were to reject their offers -- both of their offers, and as Lady Whitehawk has said, deal with our own lands as we see fit, as is each lord's sovereign right -- then I fear that we may well become little more than a battleground for them, anyway. The war between the Empire and the Cardians is old, older than even Arvum, and I can't help but suspect that either would make of us a staging ground for attacking the other and drawing us into their struggles or worse, believes there to be someone here that will finally make them victor over all." Mia's lips twist into a dark frown. Her hands fall to her lap, where her fingers twist together into knots tight enough to turn her knuckles white. But then she exhales a hard sigh, an agitated thing. "I'd sooner cut down half my forests to build them ships and them right off to where they came from, and have to look at nothing but their back-ends until I'm sure they've disappeared over the horizon."
"Oh, no doubt," agrees Evonleigh with Reigna. "We are clearly worth more than that, or we wouldn't be worth fighting over at all. And yes -- and I'm sure there are punishment worse than shackles as well, too dark to even think of." She shivers a little, and then nods to Mia, a very small, very wry smile at the mention of building them ships just to send them all away. "Hear, hear," she says, lifting her glass in a little toast.
"...the Abandoned, always, have their lives and freedom forefit past what they can take themselves. That ain't like to change, however the Compact's ruled." Thesarin gives another slow shrug of his shoulders, and another low noise at his throat. Quiet another moment before he adds, "...killed a Cardian, once. Or one Prince Laric reckoned Cardian. The Lady Delilah were there for it." He gives another slow shake of his head. "...ain't doubt they'll look to meddle. But both lands are far, far away. Can't reckon it wise for 'em to ship their armies halfway 'cross the world if they've got such troubles at home, not less there's no other choice they could make."
Kael is known for lapsing to silence from time to time, so it should be no surprise that he lapses into silence now. The young man is quiet, listening to the words of his wife as he chews thoughtfully on the cake, taking no pleasure from the fine desert. Onward his focus swings on to Mia and there, at the end, he snorts softly. He waggles his fork before remarking, "And there is no certainty that, should the King choose the Undying Emperor, that the Cardians will not move to take the Abandoned as forces in that very war." His brow arches in a most pointed manner there before asking the pair of Rivens, "Have you noted any peculiar behavior amongst those within your lands or near that chose *not* to bend the knee?"
"I think there could be a *better* way." Reigna murmurs, looking around the table. "Think about the strength we could call our own if we could rebuild Arvum as it used to be? Before there were abandoned. When we were all Arvani." There is a shake of her head, "I think it is a dream, yes. But I think right now we need dreams. And we need to work towards making those dreams real if we do not want to find ourselves as a pawn of another power."
At Kael's question, she pauses, leaning back in her seat. Though dark eyes focus on the Marquis, she seems to be looking beyond, almost as though she could see the treelines way off in the distance, past the city walls. Not at him. "Not particularly, no. Or rather, not in any way we wouldn't expect, given the influence that the Horned Traitor has over so many, and seeks to spread over more still. We encountered a whole village given over to him in the fall, spreading their taint through the woodlands. We tracked their hunters back to their village, and when I was sure of what they all were, stayed to see it burned. Their priest had turned them to worshipping him, and Petrichor's Reflection." There's a flicker of darkness across her face, then, as she says that. "I believe in your dream, Marquessa. I always have, and will sooner extend almost every man a velvet glove than an iron fist. But not all. No, not all."
Evonleigh nods in agreement with Reigna, taking another sip of wine to wash down the cake daintily eaten between conversation snippets. She listens to Mia's account of the villagers and shivers. "I think perhaps with Brass and Ashe to help us, we can work toward that dream. I know that road too has its own troubles, but the rewards seem greater -- or at least more noble and less material," she says softly.
Thesarin nods toward Mia's comments on the village, though for the details he keeps mostly silent, having some more of the deserts. He looks at the Countess in silence as she talks about the dream, and then gives another low grunt before turning back toward his plate. "How the Countess says. The problem with making a force of the Abandoned is that there's so many peoples, most with ages of bad blood 'tween 'em. The powers rising have 'em less able to keep themselves, so more 'n more fall to one power or another."
There is no small amount of interest there from Kael, regarding Mia and her tale at length before nodding his head slowly. "There are whispers," he says, his hand moving to wiggle a little, back and forth, "rumors, that there are those in the Shadowood that worship other... things." There is a spike of his brow, a tilt of his head to the side before he is clearing his throat and asking to the group as a whole, "Have you met my little cousin, Lady Amari Keaton?" His eyes flick toward Evonleigh when she indicates the road and he nods to her. The wisdom of the Count is also acknowledged with a humble nod of his head.
Reigna nods to Thesarin and says, "More reason to see if we can persuade them to come home. There are those that are lost to the dark," She nods to Mia at her tale, "But there are many, many more than can be brought into the fold." Reigna shakes her head, "I know there are those that will argue that they will cause problems and wars -- to them I say, look at the result of the road. Our nobles are at war with one another already. I think there is a strength that can be found in bringing our lost houses home." Reigna takes a bite of her cake and after a moment says, "I do not trust Cardia. And I am sad to see what has become of a man who once fought for the Light. But in my heart I feel that Ashe's way... it is our way. And I hope that Thrax -- that we all, might be able to endure the costs of ending the evil that is slavery."
"You need not convince me of it, my lady. I would sooner see us in the hand's of Copper's heir than in shackles of iron or magic. And while I may take umbrage at Count Grayreeve's conclusions about my House and our honor," she murmurs, looking between Evonleigh and Thesarin, before she reaches for the latter's elbow, pinching a bit of fabric between two of her fingers when she does. "He is not wrong in his assessment of our politics. Your Lady Elora is not the only one to have married an Abandoned who walked into her home from the woods, even if my reasons for it were very different." A shake of her head, a swaying of that long braid, and Mia says, "What is it Lady Amari's heard? I've met her, and that dog of hers. The one that smells. He's a fine new collar, courtesy of one of hunters who brought a fine hide I sent her for him."
"I agree. The longterm plan may just have to happen earlier than Thrax would like, and hopefully we can, as a united whole, help them through it," says Evonleigh with a smile to Reigna. Kael's mentions of worship gets a small shiver from the Whitehawk, but Mia's words and her reaching for Thesarin draw a fond smile and a grateful nod to the Countess. "I would rather a kingdom full of the like of the count and our lord Jyri than one of either Cardia's or Platinum's making, to be sure," she says softly.
"Might be some of us should bend the ears of the High Lords, then. Or his Majesty." Thesarin finishes a long pull of his perry, setting down his empty cup with a grunt. "Ain't see if we can find if we've an accord." He's quiet a moment, working at his jaw, and then giving another low noise at his throat. "...Marquessa. Ain't should have brought my points to the Whites, a time back. Ought've spoke in person. But... times what's said public needs be answered public. Might've been faster at it than I ought."
Kael's quiet once more, just listening, though there is a lengthy sort of study made of Reigna. In the end, he finishes off the last bit of cake on his side of the plate and nods his head toward Mia with her answer. "That is right, the dog show. Of course," and he smiles there, with that. "I really do recommend that you sit for tea sometimes with her; she is delightful and you might enjoy conversation with her. Peculiar, in her own way, but aren't we all?" Another pause before he adds, "She heard such rumors first hand." With this recommendation made, he shifts to something far lighter, remarking, "The food was excellent. Marie, our cook," and he adds this for Evonleigh, "undoubtedly shall be jealous. Thank you so much for hosting this, this eve, Countess and Count Riven. Fine food and fine company. Little more can be asked for." As to the issue of the Whites? Marquis Keaton is staying far, far away there.
Reigna looks to Thesarin and she nods, "I have no regrets, Count Thesarin. You are absolutely correct. What is said in public needs to be countered in public. Also, it really forced me to study myself, my personal biases, my deeply held beliefs. I appreciate that. And I always believe that all beliefs should be challenged. And I was glad that you did. So thank you."
Vern, 2 Novice Keaton Huntsmen leave, following Kael.
4 Novice Keaton Huntsmen, Gigi, an apprentice physician's assistant, Marie, chef of Keaton Hall, an ebony black Artshall destrier leave, following Reigna.
One black brow rises sharply at Thesarin's offer of apology, or as near as he's like to come to one by her thinking. "The Marquessa was with me a Stormwall, in the tents." The words are a low murmur. "An unpleasant memory, and one I dare say it's worth replacing with better ones, for your children's sake. I'm quite glad to see us doing so tonight." A beat, and then she rises. "Thank you. Thank you all for joining us, for filling our hall, and please, Lady Evonleigh -- carry warm words back to yours and your family."
2 Whitehawk Guards leaves, following Evonleigh.
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