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Salon Discussion: Traits of Great Leadership

Another discussion at the Empirical for the Salon. This time the focus of the conversation is on leadership and what elements one views as essential for leadership that is considered great. Punch and pie.


May 20, 2019, 9 p.m.

Hosted By



Orrin Vincenzo Irisa Athaur Cambria Peri Azolla(RIP) Delilah Scythia Ouida Opal Rowenova


The Salon


Arx - Ward of the Compact - The Empirical - The Salon

Largesse Level


Comments and Log

1 Nightgold trained guards have been dismissed.

Orrin offers Athaur a smile. "Count Athaur," he says, dipping his head. "Good to see you too - and of course, congratulations." He murmurs something brief to Scythia before things get underway.

Lucky, the fishing cat have been dismissed.

Patock, A clever Youth have been dismissed.

1 Rivenshari Clansman have been dismissed.

Orrin mutters, "Perhaps it will be the wedding that ... ... the lot. Don't they seem to ... ... packs?"

1 Inquisition Confessors, Scribble, a Delicate Social Butterfly, Pearl, a Maelstrom Forest Cat arrive, following Delilah.

Rian, the overworked, lovelorn seamstress, Delilah arrive, following Vincenzo.

As people begin to settle into their places, Hadrian Mazetti makes his way into the Empirical from outside. A stocky man with a shaved head steps in to retrieve the cloak from both Marquis Hadrian Mazetti and offers to do the same for Marquessa Cambria Mazetti. Once he is made ready for a leisurely stroll into the establishment, Hadrian turns aside to face Luigi and offers up an awfully bright smile toward the man, "A glass of wine for the Marquessa and I, please?" The question presented and a bow received, Luigi makes off to retrieve a glass. Only then does Hadrian separate himself from Cambria and he ventures off to take up his seat at one of the awaiting tables.

Hadrian does not sit however. Instead he lifts a cupped hand up to gesture to the Empirical as a whole, "Thank you for coming everyone! It's always so very refreshing seeing so many enthusiastic individuals and their minds pay a visit to the Empirical for a discussion. How is everyone doing this evening!" He offers a charcoal-whitened smile to the gathering, turning his attention this way and that to acknowledge individuals with nods of his head.

Eina, the Pearl's Own, Soot, a frenetic ferret arrive, following Peri.

Delilah has joined the a collection of small tables and chairs gathered together.

Peri has joined the a collection of small tables and chairs gathered together.

Hadrian has joined the a collection of small tables and chairs gathered together.

Vincenzo steps inside, holding the door open for a few who are coming in behind him before he knocks his boots at the doorway and removes his cloak and scarf. Claiming a comfortable chair, he's quite happy to also claim a glass of wine.

From the back, Irisa raises her glass in cheers to the call. She smiles with it, tilting the glass slightly in toast to the topic.

Athaur places an order for a mug of ale, giving a pleased cheer at Hadrian's call. He settles back on his seat, watching the host curiously.

"Cold, I think," Orrin offers with a chuckle. He considers Irisa's lifted glass and appears to estimate the distance and time to liquor, should he want it, then decides the better of it.

Cambria allows the stocky fellow that had retrieved Hadrian's cloak from his shoulders to take her own, and nods when the Marquis makes mention of drinks for them both. Though the two separate, so that Hadrian might address those gathered at the Salon that evening, Cambria does indeed make her way towards the collection of small tables and chairs. She does not sit immediately, instead taking a view of the room's occupants, as though perhaps contemplating making the notion of walking hither and thither to chat with others.

Vincenzo has joined the a collection of small tables and chairs gathered together.

Peri joins the crowd mingling at the Salon. She notices her father and after getting some mulled cider walks over to sit with his group.

"Well enough," Azolla says gently. She is sitting at the couches waiting to see what takes place

Following Vincenzo comes Delilah, quick on his boot heels. Though not so much that she would trip if he came to a direct halt, a blessing as much as these things go during the winter. Never mind the actual guard wrapping an arm around the duchess', drawing her a step back as the transition from ice and snow to solid ground bare of such contrivances passes. The Confessor doesn't even blink, steering her to safety as she negotiates her way into the Salon on a swish of her smart leather coat and dreamy countenance. With the light, delicate movements that arrange her in order, she zeroes in on Vincenzo's direction and, beyond, the familiar faces of Orrin and Scythia. The pair earn a merry wave out of Lilah, fingers crooked to her palm. "Good evening," she offers, and then turns in time to catch Peri gliding by. "Lady Peri, come, sit. Let's see what brilliant ideas spark in that mind of yours." She isn't ignorant either of the host and hostess, inclining her head deeply to Cambria and Hadrian. The pair make an impressive set.

Hadrian has rolled 1 9-sided dice: 6

"Too right," Hadrian answers back at Orrin with an enthusiastic nod, "the snow just won't seem to stop!" He laughs quietly before he settles himself. Each of his hands moves to rest at the small of his back and he rocks back onto his heels, then forward to the flat of his feet again as he continues with the opening of the discussion, "Normally? I just open the floor and it becomes a free-for-all of voices vying to be heard. Today? We're going to do things a little differently. Today? I'm going to pick someone and they may state their point of view. What traits do you personally believe make a great leader? There are so very many options and possibilities! But let us keep to those you deem the most vital to a great leader". Hadrian's hands slips away from his back and his casually begins to twirl his finger about while his arm extends toward the gathering as a whole. As his finger moves across each body, Hadrian's eyes widen a little more each time his finger crosses the presence of another as though he were preparing to call upon them. Only when his finger comes to stop upon Vincenzo does he speak loud and clear with a jubilant smile etched into his sharp features, "You! What makes a great leader? What vital traits in your opinion signify the greatest of leadership?" He glances aside and regards Delilah following his question and offers back a polite bow of his head, but inevitably his focus returns to Vincenzo.

Irisa listens, sipping the punch. When Hadrian makes it clear how this will go, she takes on a low smile. Some people have a hard time hiding the light in their eyes. She looks over towards Vincenzo, quirking a brow.

When the Malzetti pair make their arrival arrival - or more specifically with the Marquis' announcement - Scythia is turning to focus upon the man and tracking him. Though the query is spoken out loud, she answers with but a fleeting sort of smile. She is distracted by the Seliki heir's arrival, her head dipping in a polite fashion. "Lady Seliki, a pleasure to see you," she murmurs, keeping her voice low. Onward then to the newly appointed Shepherd Duchess and she, too, is the recipient of a dip of her head and a smile. She acquires a glass of red wine, undoubtedly some Lycene red, to sip upon carefully as she regards Vincenzo.

2 Harthall house guards, Niall RedTree, adorably awkward squire arrive, following Ouida.

Athaur turns his head curiously towards Vincenzo eager to see what he has to say. The Rivenshari count remains silent, taking a drink from his mug of ale.

Orrin offers Delilah a pleasant smile, and a nod. "Duchess," he says to her in greeting. "Congratulations on your very successful tour." To Peri, an equal smile and a lean, a gesture to a chair open near them; of course she's welcome. He quiets for the discussion, glancing once to Scythia. He might wonder what she'd answer - but he's listening for what Vincenzo says, of course.

Cambria has joined the a collection of small tables and chairs gathered together.

Cambria eventually joins the small collection of tables, since, honestly, it appears the majority of the evening's attendees were there! With a drink in hand, she gives Vincenzo her attention as he prepares his answer. Though she does mutter something aside to Hadrian.

Cambria mutters, "Talk ... putting a man on the ..."

Ouida slips in a little late, quietly making her way towards the glossy walnut bar, and smiling gratefully as a glass of whiskey is poured for her. For now, she settles in and listens, though as her eyes meet people she's familiar with, there's a quick and genuinely warm smile of greeting for each one.

Azolla is still listening intently to the conversation happening

Vincenzo is just about to have a drink of that lovely wine when he's called on by Hadrian. The wine is set aside with a sigh, and he stands up, giving a small bow of his head to the peers here and others of the gathering. "What makes a great leader? Passion, decisiveness, clarity and being able to delegate and empower." he begins to share.

"Passion, or being able to care deeply about what you do and what others do and having that infectious energy that can be felt in the hearts of those nearby."

"Decisiveness, or being able to make your mind up after consultation and seeking knowledge beyond your own and not hesitate to commit to it and show consistency with their decisions by not backing out or changing their mind."

"Clarity, in communication and thought so that people can follow your guidance. Those who can minimize a complex issue into a simple plan with the ability to share it in a way that others can easily grasp parts of it have a leg up on the competition."

"Delegate and empower, or understanding that a leader can't and shouldn't do everything themselves. Those who do everything themselves find out that they're their worst enemy in the long run. By delegating to proper subordinates and letting them have opportunities to grow, to fail and learn will increase your organization's capabilities and treat subordinates as capable leaders of the future."

Ouida has joined the a glossy walnut bar.

Irisa has joined the a glossy walnut bar.

Irisa looks over to Ouida as she joins the bar, sharing a whisper. She then looks back and sips the drink, listening. There's a low nod to the end, seeming to understand that well enough. But she does not voice anything.

Hadrian has rolled 1 8-sided dice: 2

Orrin listens along, and of course nods here and there through what Vincenzo says; the most reserved he gets is a sort of listening cant of his head. The point about decisiveness seems to draw particular approval.

Hadrian's hands move to fold together before himself while he listens to Vincenzo. His brow becomes lined with a look of consideration as he nods along with the points made. A smile plays across his features by the time that Vincenzo reaches the trait of decisiveness and another nod follows the explanation. "Very good points, all of them". Hadrian's attention then drifts around the crowd before his focus settles onto Peri. As his attention settles onto her, his smile only seems to grow wider as though he had just found his next speaker. He nods toward Peri and lifts a hand to gesture toward her, "Lady Peri! A frequent and welcome face at the Empirical, I'm eager to hear what you believe are traits of the greatest of leaders. However! Can you name some that were not offered forth by our most recent speaker?" He tilts his head as his harlequin eyes watch Peri intently, a smile ever-adorning his features while he waits to hear her own view.

Vincenzo tilts his head in thanks to the host and reclaims his seat, and more importantly, glass of neglected wine.

Delilah crosses her legs, listening thoughtfully to Vincenzo. Her fingertip taps once against the glass to produce a muted melody, a lonely note elegant in its exclamation point after the man finishes speaking. Approval crosses her features, star-stricken eyes wide with interest as the conversation swirls backwards in the direction of Peri. She offers an encouraging smile, just short of a grin.

Very naturally, Orrin's attention drifts to his daughter as she's called to speak; he sits back, arms folding, and waits to hear what she has to say - no doubt /quite/ interested to estimate the distance from apple to tree and all.

Hadrian has rolled 1 7-sided dice: 2

Azolla is silently but intently listening and observing. She does not wish to interrupt the conversation so she just focuses on what is being said

"And Duchess Delilah?" Hadrian's focus shifts away from Peri to regard the mentioned Duchess-Consort of House Shepherd. He offers a polite dip of his chin toward her before he presents her with a question and judging by that question he's changing up the line of questioning a little, perhaps to keep the speakers on their toes, "What of ruthlessness? It surely has a place among the traits of great leadership, doesn't it?"

The question of ruthlessness has Irisa quirk a brow, looking over towards Delilah. She doesn't comment, obviously, but does seem curious to the answer given.

Hadrian has rolled 1 6-sided dice: 6

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

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

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

Peri sets her drink down and stands up to speak to the room. "You have started us off well, Master Vincenzo. You spoke on some of the qualities I would have chosen," She smiles wrly at Hadrian, "and now I am faced with a greater challenge."

Peri's brow wrinkles and she half frowns as she thinks on the matter. "In addition to the Master's qualities I add that a leader must have a measured capacity for maintaining a focused situational awareness of whatever it is they lead, be it a demesne or a lecture hall. They must have /exact/ and appropriate focus. We can discuss dangers of too little or too much another time, but I wish to move on to the other qualities I'd look for in a leader."

Peri continues, "Part of deligation is in finding the best task for the delagatee. To do that one must have insight into people. A project will fail if someone has the wrong work given to them."

"Finally," Peri concludes, "A great leader will have a capacity to adapt to changing circumstances. 'No plan survives contact with... circumstance'." Peri changes the quate at the last minute. "Without being able to adapt to change a leader will continue as planned no matter that they'd wreck a ship."

Peri sits back down with relief and grabs her drink.

Vincenzo raises his glass to Peri as she gives great attributes. "Use the right tool for the right job; not everything is a nail to hammer. Well said, lady Peri."

Peri's answer to the question seems to draw an easy sort of amusement from Orrin at the start, but it shifts rather sharply into plain approval, and when she's finished he just nods, once, sharply - and certainly proud. A distracted moment later, he's glancing toward Scythia, a little tip of his head suggesting a question before he leans toward her.

Irisa takes her messenger and whispers something over to Ouida. Both members of a particular group, they probably got the same message. A small, shared conversation before she looks back. Listening to PEri, there is a half nod.

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

Delilah doesn't flinch at the question, though she holds a few moments in mercurial thought. She looks to Hadrian with one of those sunny smiles gone into a sliver of eclipse, fractured by the pointed question. "Ruthlessness is a double-edged sword, a caution to be considered by any leader," she begins with a measured tone containing her usually ebullient soprano, the font of quicksilver curbed to a degree. "It may provide short-term gains for your own advantage, but forsakes a suite of essential talents required for successful long-term leadership for *fear* is the basis of ruthlessness. Fear is the worst foundation to led by, for the motivation is closer to self-preservation and survival than inspiration. It cannot be sustained without immense cost -- personal, foremost, but in the calculated lack of empathy and accessibility. Those who fear you will only be checked so long as they have reason, and the ante must be raised to maintain that firm stygian grip upon those beneath you." Her words slip free in an andante beat, advancing implacably to a certain end.

She inclines her head, wine in hand, a ruby jewel. "See the person of Abbas Thrax for an example. Exemplary in his ruthlessness, monstrous by social description. What acts must be performed to maintain that aura of power? It hollows out a person, a corrosive presence and a poison that may never heal. Eventually someone will revolt, and if they do not provide a challenge, another will follow until people abandon the leader or overthrow them. Ruthlessness is not analytical consideration or decisive action, and there lies the quantifiable difference. Decisiveness is accountable, certain, and adaptable. It isn't ownership of a matter. A ruthless temperament becomes vindictive; call it by another name, vengeance. Callousness. Merciless, brutality. Are these qualities we admire as a society? No. The seeds sown by those acts can bear poisoned fruit long after the labour is done. How many of the Abandoned tribes resent us for deeds done generations ago? How much bad blood lies between the cities, houses, and families in the Compact because of an advantage pressed by a leader? Our history speaks volumes why it is not an ideal. History in general does: the ruthlessness that brought down Caer'alfar, a lost city called Pyre now, originates out of the ruthlessness of its monarchs, and they burned for it. There are parallel paths more virtuous and successful in the end. A leader must look to the immediate impact and the long-term results of their actions, and the ends cannot justify the costs implicit to such a ruinous course."

A beat. "So no, not really."

Irisa shares a few more words with Ouida and then focuses on Delilah. She stands a little off her lean from the bar and raises her glass. "Here, here!" she calls in cheers to that.

Azolla listens to Delilah speaking with a look of concentration as if she if focusing on what she is saying intently

Athaur nods his head slightly along with Peri as she speaks. He then turns to Delilah. He tilts his head to one side as he considers her words before taking a drink from his ale.

Ouida smiles at Irisa's cheer, lifting her whiskey glass and salute as well. Though the two knights occasionally quietly confer, she too seems to be following the greater conversation closely.

Orrin leans away from Scythia, apparently satisfied, and turns to hear what Delilah has to say with a careful ear. A considering bow of his head follows midway through her words, and there's eventually a sort of equivocal nod before he offers her a smile, a better one.

Vincenzo claps politely for Delilah's point regarding ruthlessness, nodding here and there with agreement.

With that tip of his head toward her, Scythia is flashing a vague smile back toward Orrin and taking another sip of her wine. Before the glass turns cruelly empty however, she is moving to set it down upon the table and focusing in full to those that speak. Peri, first of all - and make no mistake, she is the recipient of a more bold smile. Thereafter her focus shifts toward Delilah and her words are considered at length. Long enough for her to acquire her glass and drain the remnants even.

"Very valid points, Lady Peri," Hadrian offers back with a firm nod of his head and a smile to accompany it, "you clearly put a great deal of thought into this prior to your arrival. Thank you, as always, for your contribution". Then Hadrian's attention shifts away and toward Delilah. As his harlequin eyes settle squarely upon the Duchess-Consort, his smile twitches with renewed life at the far reaches of his mouth. While she speaks, Hadrian listens and seems to invest himself into hearing out her words. Luigi appears with a glass of wine which is passed into the Marquis-Consort's hand, then Luigi moves on to deliver a glass before Cambria. Still Hadrian does not shift from his position. Only after Delilah concludes her answer does Hadrian offer a shallow nod of his head in acknowledgment of her answer. That same answer is one that he replies to without turning his attention from Delilah, "I agree. In part. I believe you think that it is not a trait of great leadership," he seems to place emphasis on the use of 'great', "but it is a trait of leadership. It is the ugly side of leadership that rarely gets written about in grandiose texts and lauded as a positive trait. Yet it is a trait that every leader must be able to make use of when called upon".

Hadrian's attention then turns back to the gathering as a whole and his gloved hand rises up to press a palm to his chest. A smile easily slides across his features and he begins to speak again, this time to the entirety of the gathered speakers, "I tried something new this evening, but I feel that it has had an effect on the overall dynamic of these discussions. So now? Whomever has a point they wish to make on the topic? Make it! The floor is open and yours to command!" And with that declaration, Hadrian finally moves to settle himself into a seat. He practically pools into his seat as one leg slips over the other at the ankle and he lifts his glass of wine to the Empirical-at-large, "Remember! Attack the idea, not the speaker. Every voice has value at the Empirical, no matter how crazy or off-the-wall. The point is to be challenge our minds, so make it so!"

Irisa listens to something Ouida says and there is a moment of serious consideration before she stands off the bar and lowers her glass. "I have something to offer," she says, lifting her voice. The commoner Knight to a County.

"I think, perhaps that I disagree in part," Athaur speaks up, taking another drink from his ale. "A certain level of ruthlessness is required for every leader. There are times when your position requires you to make difficult choices. To do things you might not otherwise. But you must make them."

Delilah is the talkative historian when prodded. She can be a very quiet drinker of wine, otherwise. Her taste for that red must be restrained, though. No downing the wine as much as she wants to, and she sips smartly at it instead. Those harlequin eyes of Hadrian's are met with the starry summer-sky hue of her own, her smile hidden behind the rim of the glass until she lifts it up in a bit of a toast in general.

Vincenzo agrees to Athaur, "Some might call her ruthless when she cleaved the head of the elven king with a stroke of her sword but Queen Alarice brought also the fractured Compact together and united the five as one through shrewd diplomacy and laying down the law to remind of promises forgotten. Ruthless to mete out justice without hesitation once judgment was given, and steadfast so that the common can follow the laws without thinking they'll change on whim tomorrow."

"Aye, steadfastness," Orrin says, leaning to point at Vincenzo, there. "I think that speaks to something. There might be a call for ruthlessness in a particular moment, but I don't think it /defines/ leadership so much as happens to be called for now and again. Instead, I think, leadership requires the flexibility and -" he nods toward Peri, "yes, the insight, to know when to be ruthless, and when to be forgiving. It's a form of humility, I think."

Peri speaks up, "I wish to hear Dame Irisa's thoughts. Please, speak freely."

Irisa turns and places her glass back on the bar before she says more. "We speak to ideals here. I laud that." She takes a breath, realizing people are looking at her. "A few things. First? I would say that particularly in our current crises most of us are being affected by? I would say that there is a particular set of traits - flexibility and forgiveness." She clears her throat. "We face threats from within. Our houses are battling each other based on roads themselves. I would say that a good leader would step back and have the flexibility to look at the larger picture. To ask themselves if they are being manipulated. And if they are, how far they can go for forgiveness." Irisa lowers her voice as she continues. "I stood on the wall during the Silent War. I've seen people lost. We all have. Some of our best have fallen and barely anyone in this room can count themselves immune to this loss. I put forward the idea that a good leader needs to consider the larger picture." She looks around and then to Hadrian as the host. "For every person our leaders send us against, this is one person that cannot fight against the Abyssals. Our wars are not over against them. But how much can we sustain this fight internally before we wonder about the future. I would identify a leader as someone who not only considers the threats against their home, but the larger Compact. The flexibility to see the threats on all levels and the ability to forgive to make us stronger." ..And it seems like she might say more, but she stops, then turning back to the bar, bowing her head.

Azolla is still silently observing not having anything to add yet

Since her glass is thus empty, clearly Scythia requires an additional glass of wine. She acquires one in no short time, nodding her gratitude to attendant before focusing in on the speakers of this particular debate. She's pleasantly neutral, for the most part, just politely observing this or that speaker. Certainly some of those that speak hold more of her focus than others, but that is to be expected. Now, when Irisa is speaking, that is where Scythia's attention goes. Her brows come together and she, at this point, is studying the woman with no small amount of interest. In the end? Or at least that pause? She silently lifts her glass toward the knight by way of a toast.

Ouida's attention remains on Irisa as she speaks, smiling encouragement, though growing solemn as she considers the knight's words, and nods in agreement with them. "My thoughts go to elements not yet discussed, but that I would argue are essential for one to be considered a Great Leader. The most important one I would argue is a sympathetic historian and audience for the tales of the deeds done. In truth, those we consider great heroes and also many lauded as great leaders have done things that we might find extremely vile if our enemies had done them. All too often, leaders are called upon to make terrible choices that cause great suffering. Whether that is great leadership or not probably depends very much upon the victor and who is writing the analysis. We have lost much of our history, and it is only returning to us in bits and pieces. We will need to keep our eyes open to that, and whether or not perhaps new perspectives will change or enhance what we have believed of those who came before us--and what we may expect in the future." She looks down at her glass for a moment, smiling briefly. "To be considered a great leader amongst those you serve, I would argue humility is a key factor. One can be a genius tactitian, able to think quickly and well, and if one grows too complacent in one's own ability, or incapable of taking counsel, or arrogant to the point of alienating allies or those that you are leading, then one might as well be an ineffective fool."

Peri is overheard praising Irisa.

Peri is overheard praising Ouida.

Peri is overheard praising Delilah.

Peri is overheard praising Hadrian.

Delilah utters a brilliant laugh at Ouida's comments. "Ah! History is very often the story seen through a particular facet or lens, that of the writer, the teller, the observer. A celebrated action that I see may be held in dim regard by Count Orrin here, or barely a footnote at all to Marquessa Cambria. We have evidence enough of that. Look at the decisions made during some of the campaigns with mixed reactions and their treatment is very much the byproduct of who held the pen, whose tale went down. Even those matters will be twisted thusly by time, by successive generations. Those at a long remove have their own biases not present in the society at the time, nor the ability to fully know the whole situation. They did not live in the conflagration that swept through their lives. Lady Ouida establishes herself well on this." Her smile is given elevation, graceful enough. "I contend reflection is a necessity of exemplary leadership. A leader who cannot own up to their mistakes cannot learn from them. Understanding what transpired demands a degree of awareness to be able to repeat the successes or avoid the failures. These insights spur growth, and provide purpose, a wellspring of patience. Reflection bolsters reserves to call upon in challenging times. Who here has not faced setbacks and needed courage and confidence? With faith in herself, a leader can develop -- and develop others, which is nearly as essential. We are only as strong as those around us. An inability to perceive failures or take heed from lessons learned is a critical flaw."

"To be ruthless, one must always be prepared to call Champions if a nine year old decides to step to you," Hadrian intones solemnly. Has that happened before? He clears his throat and then takes on a sip of wine to ensure that his thirst is properly quenched before he continues with a nod of his head first toward Irisa, "A very valid point indeed and it further reinforces a point made by Master Vincenzo, I think. Even if in a more abstract and meandering path. Delegation," Hadrian states with another nod cast toward Irisa, "using your example of offenses given and forgiveness. One needn't simply forgive and go on about their life. Sometimes affronts are too great to simply turn from them. That is when an adequate leader must turn to their Sword, a Champion, or whatever else. To delegate the matter of their honor to capable hands for speedy resolution". Then Hadrian's harlequin eyes drift away and toward Ouida. He favors her with a bright smile and his chin inclines toward her, "And as always your contribution to the Empirical presents something to provoke thought. Thank you. That is a perfectly valid point. What we often deem reprehensible? The victor's historians will often paint in a far more favorable color."

Athaur takes a drink from his mug of ale and sets it down. "I think the most important quality of a leader, is that they must be willing to serve." He looks around for a moment before continuing. "For a Leader is a servent. They must view their position as one that serves the people they lead. They must do what is best for them above all things. A leader must put the needs of their people before themselves in everything that they do. It must always be remembered that though you are positioned above them, it is because you are pulling them along with you. The lead man on the Oars must work harder to break the water for the rest."

A rather elegant woman dressed in Lycene garb makes her way into the Salon, casually dislodging someone else from a seat with a particularly good view. Despite the subtle weight of /presence/ that surrounds her, there's something about the woman's features that seems to slip away from memory the moment one glances away from her. The woman folds her hands in her lap, leaning forward just a bit as she listens to the discussion. The comment about a leader being 'willing to serve', however, immediately draws a strangled noise from her that suggests the woman has just tried to swallow a laugh.

"Yet not all is a matter of perspective," Orrin says, nodding toward Delilah mildly. "We live in a world of grandeur and terrors. And that is if I speak only of men, only of what common know. There are things done by 'great' and celebrated leaders that I know in my bones to be only a darkness and a scourge. But." He smiles a moment. "The celebrations continue." He reaches up to rub at his beard a moment, then gestures. "I think the question weighing on my mind about leadership is - how it can persist, how a leader can persevere, when the very earth under him changes? We are all governed by a set of assumptions and understandings. How do we carry the new into our hearts, that we might lead with its knowledge?"

"I think a leader needs to be clever," Azolla says gently, speaking up for the first time since the event started.

Irisa listens, slowly taking up her drink and looking back to the group at large. Even with the comments from Hadrian, she sips from her glass and looks on. A new arrival is noted.

Sir Floppington, the soulful hound arrives, following Rowenova.

Cambria accepts the wine from Luigi, listening to those as they offer their opinions on the evening's topic. Here and there she nods, but does not interrupt the flow of ideas for a long while, until finally she stands. In one hand, she holds her wine, while the other lifts as she says, "I have five traits I would like to deliver to the forum for the deliberation of you all." She notes the newcomer, but subsequently forgets all about her once she takes a seat.

"First: A leader must possess quiet resolution. Second: A leader must possess the hardihood to take risks. Third: A leader must be ready to share in rewards with their subordinates. Fourth: A leader must have an equal readiness to take the blame when things go wrong. And five: A leader must have the nerve to survive the storm, and disappointment, and face each day with the proverbial score sheet wiped clean, neither dwelling on ones successes, nor accepting discouragement from ones failures." Cambria pauses, long enough to draw in a proper breath and then conclude, "To spare everyone time, I chose not to go into detailed thoughts on each of those traits." She frowns thoughtfully. "Perhaps I will write a journal...Anyway, I leave them for you to discuss at your leisure, to add in tonight's conversation."

"Might we chalk it up somewhat to accessibility as the world changes? A remote figure who has little to do with others, removed through screens of guards or advisors, does not promote creativity, communication or passion. He or she is not always aware of all the changes taking place beyond a finite sphere of influence, sa it were." Lilah's words are given in response to Orrin, but maintain an essential ease to them, cracked open to permit some kind of fair assessment tinged by curiosity and shifting thoughts. "Being at such a remove is a kind of gatekeeping, and the experience of that leader is going to be determined by how far at arm's reach the world is held. Disadvantages for adaptability and flexibility, qualities we already brought up earlier with far better grace than I possess. But an inaccessible figure? They are seen to have no stake in the cares of others, which may not work to their advantage. Building relationships is essential for success, as seen so often in Arvum. Those relationships forge new perspectives and expand knowledge, which in turn makes for a more gifted leader. No matter how superlative someone is in a suite of fields, they cannot keep abreast of every development. Good connections count there. The fate of a project often relies upon the personal networks of its sponsors. When a war-stricken lord or lady cries for help, who will come faster -- allies or strangers? A wise leader is one who cultivates connections for the sake of those relationships, not give and take, and does so with their people and those around them. With accessibility comes information, loyalty, a profusion of influence, an influx of greater awareness. Seems strategically sound from my perch over here. But I could very well be wrong."

Scythia's still shifting her focus from one person to the next as they speak, and once her silent toast to the knight is done she has the grand ability to enjoy her wine once more. That second glass undoubtedly is better than the first. There should be little surprise that when Orrin speaks up her focus is moving on to him, single brow moving aloft when he remarks about darkness and scourge. "With empathy, my lord," is her brief answer once he makes that query, her words delivered with a slip of a vague smile.

"And where does that loyalty stop with a wise leader? Does it end with other Houses that a leader has old grudges against? Or should they be preserved for the betterment of the House?" Irisa offers.

"A servant?" Hadrian's chin inclines for a moment and then his head tilts aside, "I can see the point you make and I understand it, but," he pauses for a beat before he continues with his harlequin eyes still fixed upon. Hadrian goes silent though, all in the interest of hearing out Cambria's out point of view without interruption. "Hardihood," he snorts audibly, then promptly clears his throat and settles in to continue listening. As Cambria's answer goes on though, his harlequin eyes turn sidelong to regard her with an ever growing smile. Until she concludes and then he turns his focus back around to regard the gathering as a whole, though the intensity of his smile never seems to diminish. Then he picks up precisely where he'd left off in his response to Athaur, "A servant? I liken it more to a parent. Our people are our responsibility, just as a child is the responsibility of their parent. Even a bastard child is expected to be cared for by their foolish and irresponsible parents."

The woman whose features are oddly hard to keep fixed in mind finally raises her own voice. "Oh, /darlings/, it's just adorable. A leader should /serve/." Her smile is amused as she straightens in her seat, but it shades rather colder as she continues. "And when your enemy slips in among those people, paying them off or, oh, perhaps forcing them to betray you, how well does that 'service' serve you in the end?" Her laughter is clear and almost musical. "And to take the blame, and look weak? No, /no/, my dears. Goodness, no. A leader should /never/ look weak in front of their people. What a leader truly needs is /obedience/. To know that those you rule, those you command, will /obey/ when it is necessary, without questioning your every choice. Without letting themselves believe that they know better."

"I do not believe that we can lead with what we belive to be glimpses of the future, my lord," Ouida answers Orrin gently. "It is tempting sometimes--perhaps too much. When one's field of possibilities or knowledge is expanded it is...something very alluring. The difficulty, in my mind, is in the incorporation, 'tis true. But it is something that any leader that survives at any time has done. Perhaps not in so grand of ways. And sometimes to great folly. Mistakes will be made, and new blinders will be put on in our eagerness as well I am sure. We must pray that we do not misstep so far as to become irredeemable. And that too is a quality I think many do not often appreciate. The ability to see the paths laid out. To make the choice with counsel. And then being willing to be responsible for that choice, regardless of one's best intentions." Her voice holds a mote of sadness, but it's quickly brushed away. She nods to Irisa's words. "I am hoping that when the time comes, even Great Grudges will be able to be set aside, and allies who have become enemies might well become allies again, for a time. But that asks much of us, I fear, and I think it will take something truly terrible to make it so."

There is a short study Orrin gives Scythia, and something brief that seems to be shaped like gratitude, even if he says nothing to -her-. "I didn't think we were exclusively discussing that sort of leader," he comments, sort of sidelong, to Irisa - it's not particularly a correction, as that's an openly admiring sort of air he has aimed her way. His eyes turn, then, to the new arrival. "That's called tyrrany, you know," he says, absently.

When Hadrian mentions a servant, well, one shows up with a soulful hound following along beside her. Scout Rowenova walks in with her wolf pelt down over her facial features and a gaudy belt about her slender midsection, too.

Vincenzo ponders a bit with his glass of wine that he's draining down, looking for maybe an answer there but distraction comes with the umbra-clad newcomer as he listens to her speak. There's a smile, and he glances to see what others will reply with.

Athaur shakes his head slightly towards Hadrian's question. "To be a Parent is to serve. The idea that service is somehow less then is a mistake in my opinion. One should not lead over what is good for themself, so much as what is good for the people they lead." He signals for a refill on his ale as he looks towards the woman whose features are hard to recall. "Oh? Do you think that serving ones people is a weakness?"

Irisa nods to Orrin in a sign of respect. There are apprently limits to what she was intending. And when the new arrival speaks up, she narrows her eyes. "Blind obedience has done the Compact so -well-," she drops flatly in sarcasm. Ahem, she clears her throat. "I can't abide that. I'm not a Peer, but I cannot believe a Peer should simply do as they say because they are told."

Irisa nods to Orrin in a sign of respect. There are apprently limits to what she was intending. And when the new arrival speaks up, she narrows her eyes. "Blind obedience has done the Compact so -well-," she drops flatly in sarcasm. Ahem, she clears her throat. "I can't abide that. I'm not a Peer, but I cannot believe a Peer should simply do as they will because they are told."

As the challenging voice of the newcomer presents itself and all eyes seem to turn toward them, Hadrian simply smiles a little before he leans back and into his seat. One leg lifts to drape over the other at the knee and he offers the unfamiliar a simple nod of his head. "Now it's about to get lively with a dissenting voice present," Hadrian chuckles quietly before he leans aside to murmur something at Cambria. It is a brief something, no doubt. He promptly corrects his posture and returns to observing the conversation as it unfolds. He, for the time being, maintains his status as a Moderator and simply observes the unfolding discussion.

Azolla is back to quietly listening an observing the event an conversation

Rowenova has joined the a collection of small tables and chairs gathered together.

Hadrian is overheard praising Athaur.

Hadrian is overheard praising Peri.

Hadrian is overheard praising Delilah.

Hadrian is overheard praising Irisa.

Hadrian is overheard praising Vincenzo.

Hadrian is overheard praising Scythia.

Hadrian is overheard praising Orrin.

Hadrian is overheard praising Azolla.

Hadrian is overheard praising Ouida.

Athaur is overheard praising Hadrian.

Athaur is overheard praising Peri.

Athaur is overheard praising Delilah.

Athaur is overheard praising Irisa.

After choosing a chair, Nova settles down in it and welcomes Flop to chin her upon her leather-skirted lap. He does so, and she fondly flops his ears here and then there whilst listening to the ongoing talk all around them here.

Athaur is overheard praising Orrin.

"And you say that as though it were a /bad/ thing," the nameless woman observes, with another laugh. "'Tyranny'. That's merely a term thrown about by those who would rather be /liked/ than /obeyed/, you know. No, /no/, my darlings. You can do what's best for your people, of course -- it's so /tedious/ to find new ones once they're perfectly trained, after all. But letting them tell you what that is? Gracious. If you do /that/, soon they'll think /they/ are in charge." Glancing over at Irisa -- what color /are/ this woman's eyes, anyway? -- she adds, "Ah, but which is worse, my dear? Blind obedience to a leader who sees the full picture, who knows where all the pieces are on the board and can see where they need to move? Or the soldier who thinks /they/ know better, that they need not follow orders in the field? The one who chooses to act on their own, to do what they believe is 'right', and in so doing risks the lives of those they claim to call their comrades? Who ruins the plan and costs the day? Is that /truly/ what you prefer? That following an order is, dare I say it, /optional/?"

"It all depends on ones point of view," Cambria counters, not just Opal, but the group at large. "Do you believe the ends justify the means? Do you believe that any cost can be paid, in order to overcome your enemies? Again, we circle back to ruthlessness." She leans in to Hadrian as well when he speaks lowly to her, then straightens, and finishes her thought. "Is the sacrifice of a village worth it if it stops an enemy from advancing deeper into your land? Even if those people do not know the truth of their deaths? We start to creep into the notion of 'greater good'." At Opal's last comment, about orders being optional, Cambria simply laughs, highly amused.

Peri answers the nameless woman, "I would choose to have a soldier in the field who can employ their good judgement rather than follow some orders I've given that are out of date by the time they are faced with some new circumstance in the field of battle."

When that newcomer speaks, Scythia is finally turning that way. Her brows gather together in a pointed sort of way, though it is mercifully brief and she regains that pleasant neutral soon enough. Now, that counter point from Opal, that has her glancing back toward Orrin. It is lazy, the way that Scythia places her hand there upon his forearm. The free one, mind, she is not actually going to relinquish that glass of wine she has.

"Actually, I didn't say it as if it were anything at all," Orrin says, brows lifting. "It's a sort of leadership. In contrast to quite a few others under discussion. If you truly want to debate about the relative benefits of tyranny versus just about any other sort of leadership, I'd suggest you meditate upon the word /spite/, for men under tyrannical leaders are often motivated to act against them for no other purpose."

Irisa stands of the bar, being addressed as she is. Even if obliquely. "What is worse is what is wasted. To try to argue with someone who makes accusations and suppositions without call to evidence." She calmly sips her drink and twists her arm to but it on the bar behind her. "You mark the choices as if there are none other. I challenge the idea that there are other options."

Athaur considers Opal for a moment. "I am sorry, my lady. I did not catch your name."

Vincenzo says after finding his glass refilled to the umbra-clad woman "I think at one point, a leader was chosen from among the people. The people allowed the leader to lead and give and invest their power that the people had to that sole person; in exchange for that power, the leader provides steadfastness. Be it security of borders, gainful trade and economy, justice and laws enforced. People desire that they can count on promises made will be delivered. A leader can only offer that with steadfast loyalty from their subordinates. Either group not fulfilling their promises creates opportunities for chaos. I agree that the ruler and the ruled should show their steadfastness to promises given. Break your promise and you'll find yourself replaced." He retreats back to his wine.

"Indeed, Marquessa." Delilah's expression has reverted to that of a more contemplative scholar as she keeps up with the academic parry and thrust, her gaze moving between all who speak. The shimmering laugh from the stranger brings a curious look from her, and she leans in lightly to Rowenova as the scout joins them, friendly as she bumps Nova's arm and puts a hand on it out of apology. "We come right back around to what we even define ruthlessness as. By the same token, to what degree is obedience or independence essential for the welfare of the group? A thought of too many cooks and pies comes to mind, though now I fear I'm somewhat hungry." Her glass lifted, she muses a few moments in splendid silence.

"One must also remember," Cambria says. "The notion of oaths, vows, and promises. I know it is not tonight's topic, but nothing exists in a vacuum. For a soldier to disobey orders, they must be willing to accept the repercussions of that action. A leader must be willing to mete out punishment, even when it is hard, or, dare we say, unpopular. The aforementioned soldier in this scenario may have saved many, but in doing so, they still disobeyed their liege. It is then on the leader to determine the appropriate corrective action. Because, indeed, to appear weak is to be seen as ineffectual. Never forget that /perception/ carries a great deal of weight." She seems to have no qualms with debating Opal, even if half the time she almost appears to forget just /where/ Opal took a seat.

Orrin tips his head aside at Cambria's contribution. "Not all that lead or follow are bound by oaths," he points out. Perhaps he's forgotten Opal is there, too.

Another smile. It's strangely hard to fix the woman's features in one's mind, but that smile is somehow quite clear. "Call me Lady Girasol, my dear," the woman remarks. "I believe that will do quite well as a name." Then she turns back to Orrin once more, and there's something new in her tone. It's still tinged with the edge of laughter... but there's a deliberateness to it as well now, as though each word is a single ripple in a placid pond. And that placid surface is almost ominously still. "And tell me, darling... what do you /truly/ know of Tyranny, hm? Have you ever /truly/ seen this tyranny you speak so ill of? Or are you merely speaking from your /ideals/, I wonder." The smile grows. "Look at this 'Great Road'. Under a so-called 'tyranny', such a choice would have been up to the leaders. Should this risk be taken, to carve a pathway through the territory of others and trust they wouldn't take offense? This, my dears... /this/ is what your precious freedom buys you."

"This discussion wouldn't be had in a world where shackles are free to be clamped tight. It would have never occurred to one who can not question, to discuss the traits of great leadership. As a result one could never truly be given the distinction of being a great leader, if no one is free to question their methods or their orders," Hadrian speaks up after a period of silence. He lifts his glass of wine up and casually swirls it about for a moment prior to his adding, "There is Skald, whom we must give thanks, for giving us the ability to choose what and whom we question". Again the Marquis-Consort goes quiet as he turns at least a fraction of his attention to the glass of wine that he holds.

'Girasol' does not look terribly well-pleased at mention of the First Choice, but there's an almost disdainful edge to that unhappiness.

Orrin checked composure + diplomacy at difficulty 15, rolling 29 higher.

Azolla has left the a cluster of couches around a low table.

Athaur frowns slightly, turning his gaze towards Girasol. "I can say for certain that I have experienced true Tyranny. Over half of my people were killed at a tyrants orders and our strength was broken. We have been rebuilding ourselves ever since. We barely survived and much of what we were was lost to it." He lifts his glass to take a drink. "A Tyrant nearly obliterated my people from the face of the world. So no, I must respectfully disagree with your assesment, My Lady."

Irisa holds her place off the bar. She just stands there, looking down towards the seat of the woman she can't identify.

"Actually, I think the Great Road was left up to leaders, for the better part," Orrin says, lifting his chin. "I don't think very many of those who made decisions went about have surveys done ahead about what please this master or mistress. And we have suffered for it. The perspectives that were missed were... missed quite sorely." He lifts his chin. "No person here, I would venture to guess, has not been touched by the fact of tyrrany. Whether in their own person, or in the history writ on their bodies through their ancestors."

"Lady Garisol," Irisa calls casually, "I would like to ask if you are forwarding a, ah 'advocate' side to your opinions? Of if they are truly ones you hold?"

Delilah traces her wine with her fingertips, examining its current state. She then hands off the glass to Scribble for him to do away with its loveliness, a thankful curve of a smile still hovering upon her lips. She eases herself out of the languid position upon the couches. "Thirteenth advocate, I believe I have heard it called?" she gently supplies behind Irisa's statement, sweeping her hands down her legs and smoothing out her coat. A quick check confirms the buttons are quite done up in a precise fashion. "Very true, there are shades of the past affecting the present at every turn."

Amidst the discussion underway, Hadrian's head lulls to one side in order to cast his harlequin eyes toward Vincenzo. Hadrian favors him with a cheerfully bright smile that reaches up to set his brilliant green eyes ablaze with humor, "Sooooo," he begins with a smile that only seems to grow all the more mischevious, "you think a great leader is one who delegates, right?" There's a brief pause, but barely enough of one to permit a genuine answer to be given - shy of a simple 'yes' - before Hadrian continues, "I'd like you to host the next discussion at the Empirical. On the subject of tyranny and the many benefits or shortcomings of it. Do you accept? Your choice," he offers with a playful wink.

"Oh, my darling..." And here 'Girasol' shakes her head at Athaur. "You say that was 'tyranny', but was it? It seems to me that what you faced was /slavery/. So many conflate the two; it's really /quite/ unfortunate. I do wish people could understand the differences." She exhales, the long-suffering sigh of someone who has seen this misconception across a very long time indeed. "Under a tyrant, you have plenty of choices. A strong leader -- a 'tyrant', as you would try to simplify it -- will never dictate every detail of someone's life. Gracious! That would be exhausting, and /quite/ the waste of time, I should think! It's merely that when you /are/ given an order, your leader -- your 'tyrant' -- should never need to /justify/ it to you. To bend themselves to /explain/ their decisions when they're given, and try to win you over with pleading words and placating gestures. You just... obey." Her occasional laughter turns to an almost pitying chuckle. "No, no, my dears. It's /slavery/ where your choices are entirely stripped away. And that is quite the different thing."

The question from Irisa earns a brighter laugh from Girasol, however; that worrying undercurrent gone, her tone light once more. "Oh, darling. Let's say that's the case, yes? After all, it would make /so/ much more sense, wouldn't it?"

Athaur lifts a brow slightly. "Perhaps so. But what happens if the choices you so conveniently have while serving a tyrant leads you to disobey?"

"See, you've managed to expose a feature of proper leadership that we hadn't got round to, my lady," Orrin says, affect somewhat softened but chin still lifted. "Trust. With neither tyranny nor slavery, a proper leader demonstrates their worth and commitment through deed; the questions that tyranny abhors disappear, not for affection but for trust."

Vincenzo was enjoying his wine and listening to lady Garisol's points being made, and as the smile of Hadrian is levied towards him, he offers a smiled parry. "I accept the duty of host for a future session at the Empirical regarding the subject of Tyranny, a review on the benefits and shortcomings." He raises his glass in toast.

Irisa hears the reply, and the others as well to their points. But she keeps her focus on the Lady Girasol. The drink long forgotten, she holds her place at the bar and listens, even as Hadrian calls it to a close.

Ouida looks thoughtful, as Opal and the others speak. Or maybe that's just the amount of time it takes for the knight's brain cells to rub together enough to make a spark. "Sometimes there is very little distinction between a great leader and a tyrant. And there are many times even on smaller fields where one must take on that role. I for example, would /not/ wish every rank and file soldier to have it in her head that the decision on whether to execute an order rested at all times with her. There are many things that eyes on the ground directly facing something do /not/ see clearly. And is that not the test of leadership, truly, if your women and men will follow you against your own instincts, and that you know that indeed many will sacrifice their lives to meet that objective that they may not even know, and will never appreciate in the grave, and yet they rise to do it despite their fear and what they see before them. It is the greatest pride and the greatest heartache of a leader."

"Then, my dear," 'Girasol' replies to Athaur, "you have also made the choice to accept the consequences of that disobedience. And isn't that so very like this Compact, if you scratch a little beneath the surface? Or do you let your vassals rebel against their liege without consequence? Do you allow soldiers to ignore orders without being disciplined? No, darlings... the difference is that you /pretend/ that you have the freedom to choose such things. You let yourselves believe in a pretty lie, wrapping yourselves up in it like a warm blanket for comfort. While in what you would call a 'tyranny', there are no illusions that such disobedience will draw consequences. It's rather refreshingly truthful, don't you think?"

Hadrian favors Vincenzo with a deep dip of his chin before he lifts his glass of wine in salute, "May your patience be unending, your charm exemplary, and your mind expanded then. When you've a mind to host your discussion, please let me know and I'll assist with the arrangements". Then Hadrian's glass travels to his mouth, he sips, and his focus returns to the discussion underway. 'Girasol' versus basically everyone. All the while a delighted smile seems to etched itself into his sharp features.

Athaur shakes his head slightly. "Oh, there would be reactions for someone disobeying my orders. Naturally. But it seems in a Tyranny that the punishments usually out run the severity of the crime. If your life is forfeit if you don't obey, it is not so different from slavery."

Orrin's brows lift, but his attention is drawn from the conversation to someone at the tables near him briefly, and then to another.

"And I call back to my original argument," Irisa speaks up. "Do we wish to fight each other more than we wish to remain whole?" She looks across everyone, standing closer to the forum. "Do we believe that tyrrany provides us better protection than the freedom of the Compact? Arguments would lead us to the idea that this is an illusion. I challenge that idea. We are free to wage war against our lower and upper houses as we see fit." Spoken like a House Leader. From a commoner. "But at the end of the day, no matter how much we fight and distrct ourselves with this, we are still losing good people. Every. Fucking. Day. People that we need. So if we posture and demand obedience, then who are we? We are weaker. All of us."

"Ah," Girasol replies with a nod. "So, every disciplinary choice -- every exercise of justice -- in the Compact is so measured, then? Never 'outrunning the severity of the crime', as you put it?" The smile returns. "It's so easy to be righteous, isn't it? So /comforting/ to know that you're the ones in the right. The ones with the moral high ground. But I wonder, darlings, if we were to put the question to your neighbors -- the peoples of Arvum who have not bent the knee, your Abandoned -- what would /they/ say? Would they say the Compact's justice is always balanced with the crime, that you're a people of justice? Or, my dears..." And now the smile sharpens, turning cold. " you think they might say /you/ are a tyranny, from their point of view?"

Delilah has left the a collection of small tables and chairs gathered together.

1 Inquisition Confessors, Scribble, a Delicate Social Butterfly, Pearl, a Maelstrom Forest Cat leave, following Delilah.

Sir Floppington does not seem to like the nebulous person in the room here and actually growls. Nova quickly hugs him, quickly turning in her chosen chair to make sure she has him shielded well. "It is ok, Boy. We can go." Indeed, the soulful hound cannot be happier about having heard that word 'go' and then his human charge stands up. She quickly bows to the Compact nobles nearest her before moving along with Sir Flop nose nudging her the whole way, as if he could possibly move her along any faster. She at least speeds up for his sake.

Rowenova has left the a collection of small tables and chairs gathered together.

Sir Floppington, the soulful hound leaves, following Rowenova.

"My Lady..." Athaur laughs softly. "You need not tell me of the Compacts tendency towards Tyranny. It is something that I am well aware of. Seeing as how I have, at one time or another fought and raided the Compact at times in my youth. That does not make it right. We can strive to be better then we have been. Then we are."

Hadrian is overheard praising Athaur: Damn straight.

Vincenzo lifts a brow a moment while discussion is happening around. "Hopefully the subject won't be all talked about before the upcoming week." to Hadrian. To Althaur he glances, and says "Is it mercy to demand a bent knee to a free people you conquered by force or put them to the sword? Or is it tyrannical to force a free people that don't accept or realize they're conquered to depart from their previous lives and now join the Compact or die." He takes a long drink. "Would the Compact accept being conquered? Would you? Would I? I can see why the Abandoned fight and raid."

"They would say that, my lady." Ouida says without hesitation to Girasol. "And they would not be wrong, from their perspective. Were I to fall in the the hands of some of the Abandoned people even within my holding, I would expect no quarter, because I have slain many of them, and would do so again were the circumstances the same. My family has taken others to hostage. We can play dress up and pretty words, but I know what I am. As do they. There is nothing noble about it, just reality. It does not mean that we cannot strive to do better, to be better, to have loftier ideals. But many times those are achieved in blood and suffering, and it is easy to forget that."

Orrin, after a thoughtful pause, breaks his study of Scythia there, then considers not Lady Girasol, but Ouida. "It does us well to consider our legacy," he says, as if that is somehow agreement with her. "But not to obsession. Better is the way. But only better and better by turns; perfection is the purview of the Gods."

Cambria reclines within her seat, her wine being sipped from rather liberally. She has little to say for the moment.

"If it is? Then we'll come up with another subject. I've got a few in mind. Have you ever wondered at the many merits of being medically trained by an Abandoned medicine man, then using that tutelage to deliver your wife's first child? Truly thought-provoking stuff. Or, you know, whether duels actually resolve serious issues or not. Whatever," Hadrian answers back at Vincenzo without tearing his attention away from those discussing the topic in question at present. He continues to watch, but briefly glances away when he takes on another sip from his glass of wine.

"And I wonder," Girasol muses. "How many of you who speak of 'doing better' here, in this room, would make that same choice in the field? If you had been at war with your Abandoned neighbors for a generation, if they had killed beloved members of your family -- and you theirs, let us remember! -- and you had the chance to end it, would you? If you had your sword at their neck, my darlings, would you truly hold your blade? Would you let them walk away unharmed, I wonder, and let the fight continue?" She shakes her head, her amusement almost palpable. "When you give them the 'choice' to bend the knee or die, my dears, is that truly a choice at all? Because when disobedience means death... well, it seems to me that from what you have said tonight, that /is/ tyranny, yes? Or is this tyranny of yours justified, in your minds, when it's built atop /vengeance/?"

Athaur lifts his brows curiously as Vincenzo adresses him. He takes a moment to take a sip from his ale. "My Lord, I need not consider such. Three years ago I found myself in just such a position to join the compact or allow my people to die out." He turns his gaze back towards Girasol, his jaw tightening. "So yes, I had the choice to make. To continue to wage war against those who sought to subjigate my people. I chose peace. It is something that is possible."

Vincenzo offers to Hadrian, "Is wine better shared or kept to yourself? The Lycene might say that depends probably where you're at and who is host or guest." as he drinks his own. "I'll do the Tyranny one."

Orrin's eyes turn to Athaur, and then he smiles, head ducking. A moment later, he glances at Scythia, and puts his hand over hers there on his arm, and then gives a nod to Peri. Then he's rising. Probably taking Scythia with him, and her wine too, if necessary. To Hadrian, he offers a brief bow. "Thank you for hosting, my lord," he says. "Most educational." And then he's collecting his cloak to put on.

"Wine is always better shared. Because the moment a bottle of wine opens, the likelihood of pants stuff increases dramatically," Hadrian answers airily with a casual wave of his hand. The points made by 'Girasol' on the matter of releasing a defeated opponent to continue the fight though? That earns Hadrian's attention. He turns his focus back to the conversation before he offers back an answer on the question of releasing said opponent to continue the fight another day, "Of course not". Then he goes quiet again. He lifts his glass of wine to regard Orrin in silent salute, accompanied by a respectful dip of his head.

Irisa shakes her head and reaches for her cloak. "As a knight and diplomat that's spent time to save lives, I'm not listening to this. Good eve." She pulls over teh cloak and moves for the door.

Peri stands up to depart with her father. She gives all a respectful nod and bows to the host, "Thank you for an interesting discussion, as always."

No. No wine going along with Lady Redreef. Scythia actually makes swift work of it, downing the remainder of it before setting the glass there on the table and rising a half step after Orrin. She, quiet as she has been, remains so. You see, she dips down to a curtsy toward the hosts and with that she makes headway to her cloak. One must protect themselves from that frightful chill, after all.

On the way out, Orrin walks by Athaur and gives him a solid squeeze on the shoulder - just a parting greeting, not a bid for attention. Then he leaves, Scythia on his arm and Peri alongside.

"I can speak to that, my lady, having been called to that precipice more than a few times. There have been times when I have been able to give that chance, yes. And many times it does not come upon the battlefield, but under a parley flag. There are others where I have put all who rose up to the sword. It is something that I will live with until the end of my days, and perhaps beyond. As well as live with knowing that sometimes a different choice, one for peace, was made despite the deaths of many who would have preferred something different, like revenge. But I have put bandits who were not Abandoned to the sword as well, after they slaughtered my cousin's family. Hunted them down, every one. Perhaps that was the wrong choice. Perhaps had it been a different group I would have chosen differently." Ouida shrugs. "We all have our scars and blood to bear until we meet our end ourselves. Including those who never bear a blade but direct them. I try to never act in vengeance, but I have failed. And it is likely that at some point, if I am so fortunate as to see a great many years, that I will again. I will answer for my mistakes."

Orrin has left the a collection of small tables and chairs gathered together.

Scythia has left the a collection of small tables and chairs gathered together.

Scythia leaves, following Orrin.

Peri has left the a collection of small tables and chairs gathered together.

Eina, the Pearl's Own, Soot, a frenetic ferret leave, following Peri.

"The truths the mirror reveals are often the hardest ones to face, my dears." 'Girasol' glances over to watch Irisa depart, and for a moment there's perhaps something almost approaching sympathy in her tone. But as Orrin thanks Hadrian for hosting and more and more people gather their things to leave, she turns back curiously to the remaining crowd. "Are we done, then? Our little debate concluded? Dear me. And I was /just/ starting to feel so invigorated by it, too. Ah, but all things must come to an end, hadn't they? Or perhaps that's merely /most/ things." The woman rises from her seat as well. "Either way, I /do/ hope this little chat will leave us all with a few things to think about, hm? /Do/ have a good evening, darlings."

"Oh, sweetheart," Hadrian mews back at 'Girasol' with a bright smile. He then drains the last of his wine and calls out, "Luigi!" Then the glass is lobbed through the air toward the stocky man with the shaved head and grandiose moustache. Hadrian promptly springs up to his feet again before he continues, answering Opal's words, "My darling lady," he says with a flutter of his eyelashes, "we most assuredly enjoyed your enthusiastic and well-considered point of view, because it truly brought a dynamic to the discussion that few are ever so bold to take. You have my sincere appreciation for your willingness to join us". Finally Hadrian lifts a hand to lightly pat a palm over his heart before he tilts his head aside and answers, "Thank you, darling". A playful wink is given and then Hadrian's hand extends aside to offer at Cambria, likely on account of the discussion dwindling to a close.

Ouida rises with many others it would seem, gathering her cloak as well. "As always, a spectacular evening, Marquis Hadrian, I always leave with even more things to think about. And a pleasure to see you again, Maqruessa. And thank you all for a discussion I do believe I might be thinking about until the dawn."

Hadrian chirps back at Ouida with a suddenly bright grin, "Send our greetings to Andreas, please? It was wonderful to see you again, Lady Ouida, as it always is".

Irisa has left the a glossy walnut bar.

Vincenzo says goodbye to lady Girasol. "Next time you're looking for something more striking than shadowy umbra, do let me know, lady Girasol. Vincenzo Villente would be happy to see you in an outfit that brings out those pale green eyes of yours and such long frame. It's a shame to see beauty hidden away."

Athaur rises to his feet, taking a long drink from his mug. "Well this was certainly..." The Rivenshari count considers for a long moment. "A discussion. I hope that everyone has a good evening."

"I shall, my lord," Ouida promises Hadrian, her warm smile in return reaching her eyes. "We'd like to see you over for dinner soon, when we can arrange it!" But then she is lifting a hand in warm salute, and marching off to meet the wintry weather outside.

"Don't forget the meat pies," Cambria calls after Ouida.

Ouida laughs, not being able to resist turning around, to curtsy deeply to Cambria. "As my lady desires!" she calls back, giving the Marquessa a wink before heading out into the night.

Cambria then leans aside to Hadrian that she might say, "I will tyrannize the Abyss out of a venison meat pie." She then clears her throat, stands, smooths the front of her skirts and bids farewell to all those now departing.

Ouida has left the a glossy walnut bar.

2 Harthall house guards, Niall RedTree, adorably awkward squire leave, following Ouida.

The 'Lady Girasol', too, makes her way to the doors to take her leave. Though oddly, despite the southern-style garb she wears, the woman doesn't seem to have a cloak to wear against the cold. Yet she steps out into the snow without a care in the world, and vanishes -- seemingly quite literally, should anyone try to follow her -- into the departing crowds.

"No, no, it was venison meat cake, daaarrllling," Hadrian comments back at Cambria.

"Which is exactly why I said meat pie," Cambria notes.

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