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A Harlequins' Midnight Picnic: Part 2

Come and join the Harlequins of the Queen of Endings for a late night snack under the moon and the lanterns. We will play the question game! We may try to tell ghost stories! We will definitely have snacks!

Date

Aug. 11, 2019, 2 p.m.

Hosted By

Aureth

Participants

Brigida Estelle Amari Gwenna Skye Evaristo Helena Sanya Volcica Sophie Shard Artur Insaya Tescelina

Organizations

Location

Outside Arx - Eastern Approach - Path Outside the Walls - Memorial Park of Arx

Largesse Level

Grand

Comments and Log

Gwenna

I found myself at no few events for the Festival of Death with great enjoyment, so when a Harlequin's Picnic was announced, how could I not go? The evening seemed to perfectly compliment the event, with clouds dancing about to hide and reveal star and moonlight. The wine and cookies were beyond and I truly must thank Legate Aureth Grayhope for having arranged such an enjoyable affair.

We played a game in which every reply must be done in the form of a question. It was a touch challenging, but quite intriguing! I would not have thought a game could lead to such insightful and poignant inquiries.

The company was extraordinary and I had the great fortune to join family and friends - both old and hopefully new on the latter - for a wonderful evening.


It doesn't take that much setup, to host a picnic: picnic baskets, blankets, bottles of wine. Brightly-colored benches on the soft lawn of the memorial park offer attendees a place to sit that isn't grass, especially since an earlier rain has made the grass damp. It's late at night (ignore @time, sorry), and the cloud-cover obscures a lot of the moon and stars, but for little slivers of light that shimmer and gleam between peeking holes in the ballooning gray shapes.



Aureth is directing his disciples to set bottles of red wine and glasses at each of the picnic baskets, which contain simple foods-- bread, cheese, olives, fruit, cold chicken, and crumbly, delicious butter cookies that are going to get crumbs all over everyone (sorry, not sorry).

Brigida is stood alone, her white robes dirty and disheveled as stands by the fence to Petrichor, head bowed. She has not acknowledged anyone thus far as she is alone with her thoughts.

Estelle steps up quietly on the damp grass and glances around the assorted setup with a somber smile. She moves to sit at one of the blankets and pour a glass of wine with a grateful nod towards the nearest disciple, then looks around to take in the night-time sights.

Amari is wearing a shimmery white gown which is perfect for a midnight picnic because no one is bound to trip over her in the dark. She's brought Artur along, or vice versa, though neither of them look as if they've been dragged against their will. She's at least smiling, even if she looks like she's stayed up long past her usual bed time. The yawns that escape her are frequent, but hidden polite behind her hand. The pair have a few amiable words before the prince is off to find drinks, and she drifts, likely on the hunt for a place to sit that's not cool damp grass.

Gwenna is dressed in the spider-themed outfit she donned for another event dedicated to the Queen of Endings and Beginnings. Like the night, perhaps, she's mostly dark with slivers of shimmery light. It doesn't appear she is bothered by the prospect of wet grass along the edges of her gown or slippers. "Oh, this is just charming beyond words," she murmurs after taking in the scene. "I can hardly wait to see what the baskets hold." That said, she meanders around a little to find the perfect basket and seat.

Skye arrives by herself, escorted by her guards that accompany her. She softly murmurs for the guards to stand outside of the area, feeling confident enough of her surroundings. Then she gives a soft murmur of thanks to the disciple and seeks to find a nice place to sit, glancing about to see who else is there.

Gwenna has joined the a set of blue benches.

Evaristo is here and he's bedecked in what he's labeled his 'Harlequin' outfit, which is quite suitable for this event. He wanders around playing his lute with soft notes, not overwhelming any conversation - more ambience than anything for now, welcoming and smiling and bowing to the guests filtering in.

Also in spidery skirts with spider hairpins in her gold hair, yet another Redrain, Helena, nods to Gwenna. "The only thing that would make it better were if it were a clear night, so we could see more of the stars, but I suppose we can look for the silver linings in those clouds," she says brightly. Her dress seems to be in the same palette as the nature around them, greens and silvers, so perhaps she will be trod upon if she sits on the ground.

"Good evening, or good morning, or good night, or good morrow," is how Aureth begins. A number of lanterns shimmer in the hands of this disciple or that, adding light along the rows here in the memorial park so that people can find their way to the picnic and not trip and break their necks in the dark. "The Harlequins welcome you, and so do I, to share tonight with us. The Queen of Endings is the Mother of Beginnings, for all things end so that they may begin anew. With the end of one day begins a new one, born in the depths of night, dark with mystery and far from dawn and morning."

Gwenna turns at the sound of Helena's voice and a smile immediately tugs up the corners of her mouth. "You look stunning, as always, cousin. A good point, though. And, perhaps, a poignant one; silver linings in the darkness," she says, briefly somber before smiling again. Quiet to listen to Aureth, she sends a wave over to her brother and Lady Amari and then returns her attention to Helena. "I'm so glad you were involved in these events. I have learned quite a bit during the festival in her name."

Also unaccompanied, save for her retainers, Sanya Grimhall offers a warm smile for the legate on her entrance. "Thank you for holding this, Father Aureth." She inclines her head before taking a spot beside Helena. "Your highness." She greets, before settling down to listen to Aureth's words.

Estelle listens to Aureth's welcome, sparing Evaristo a smile when he passes by. Her smile brightens a bit at the words she overhears, and nods in thoughtful agreement while murmuring, "Timely."

Gwenna is overheard praising Aureth: A wonderfully put together Harlequin's picnic.

Evaristo stops playing as Aureth speaks up and hovers nearby by leaning against a tree, lazy and relaxed. He knows most of those here and studies them all with that content expression of someone who just loves this whole thing. When Aureth is done, he moves over to join one of the blankets and take part of the festivities - he's not a host this time! "Princess Helena, Princess Gwenna, when you two are around there is always a silver lining," he tells the Redrain princesses with a wink, grinning wide as he sits down on the nearby blanket to them. "I'm hoping for some ghost stories! I should've prepared some of that myself."

Helena tips her head as she listens to Aureth speak, a soft smile for the sentiments shared, and a nod of agreement. To Gwenna she smiles. "This one is all the Harlequins. I only came for edification. And food." She grins. Sanya's arrival earns a smile in her direction. "Lady Sanya. Do you know my cousin and Redrain Voice, Princess Gwenna?" she says. Her turns to smile at Evaristo and moves to the blanket he's chosen, reaching for his hand so she can sit down beside him. "I'm sure you know at least one from your travels, Captain Mockingbird," she says lightly.

Skye sees Lady Sanya joining the Redrain princesses and then starts to make her way over once Aureth is done with his speech. She doesn't quite sit yet, making sure that others have their chance first. She gives a proper greeting to everyone there and then comments, "It's a lovely evening for a picnic."

There's all sorts Amari seems to want to greet, but talking over Aureth would be so terribly impolite that she has to settle for smiles, polite nods or friendly waves, depending on familiarity and differences in rank, of course. She has a glance about to see where Artur has gone to, then slips over to join Gwenna with a dip of her head and a murmured 'Your Highness', there's another for Helena. Evaristo is given a wide smile once she's settled in which remains as she looks to Sanya and Skye. "Agreed."

Aureth smiles, and tilts his head with a slight inclination. "Indeed," he says. "Now, I do know a few ghost stories--" and his chin lifts in Evaristo's direction as he has definitely heard this. "--and I would be curious to hear what others find spooky at a midnight picnic. But let's have a seat, let's have a glass of wine in honor of our new beginnings, and let's find out a few things about each other first, shall we? There's a catch, though." He sits down on one of the benches. "Have a drink, have a bite, and ask a question: but all questions must be answered with other questions. The first person who can't ask a question is out. The last person standing may win a prize. And each time we laugh, Death laughs with us."

From her position over to one side by the fence dedicated to Petrichor, Brigida remains silent, listening perhaps with a bowed head, her demeanour quieter that usual.

Estelle sips from her glass, lips quirking at the explanation by Aureth of the game. "So that's what was meant by such a game..." she says, glancing around at the mostly unfamiliar faces. Recognizing Skye, the Mercy offers her a smile before looking back at the gathering at large so as to see the game unfold first.

Surprise, an incredibly fluffy blue seal point kitten arrives, delivering a message to Brigida before departing.

"Baroness Sky, it's a pleasure." Sanya beams as the Blackshore joins them, shifting to allow the woman space. "I have not. It's lovely to meet you, your highness." She turns to Gwenna with a warm smile.

Skye has joined the a set of blue benches.

Lifting Helena's hand, Evaristo kisses the back of it and makes a bit of a hand-wobble - he might know one or two. But he turns to listen to Aureth and perks up at the game presented, grinning some in excitement. "Sounds fun! I'll probably do really bad, but I'll give it my best shot," he promises.

Aureth is apparently starting the game by asking Evaristo, "Why do you think you'll do bad?"

Gwenna can't help but laugh at Evaristo's remarks and dips her head in greeting to him. "It is lovely to see you again. I do believe I am wearing your work? The prize from the fashion show that is one of my favorite pieces of jewelry. You are well, I hope? I am sorry I missed the spider petting event." She looks again to Helena and another chuckle is soon escaping her lips. "I came for the moonlight and wine," she admits before turning to Grimhall noble. "A pleasure to meet you as well, Lady Sanya." Her smile remains, turned next to Skye and Amari with proper dips of her head in greeting. "You know, it has been an age since I've heard a good ghost story. Probably since Farhaven."

Skye takes her seat since it appears to be fine with others. She listens with anticipation as Aureth explains the game and then admits to the group, "I'm not very stout in my constitution but I shall try my best." She gives a little wave to Estelle as she spies her greeting. Then gets herself a glass of wine.

Disa, the white Bonespire mare, Eira arrive, following Volcica.

Dame Rosario Nevarre of the Oathlands, Anouk Ardennes, Anais Ardennes, Triage, The white dove of Mercy, 3 Valardin Knights, 1 Templar Knight guards arrive, following Sophie.

Lifting a glass of wine to take a sip, Helena comments, "I imagine the more wine we drink, the more difficult that game will become," the Redrain princess says, then chuckles at Aureth's focus on Evaristo. She raises a brow to see how the Mockingbird First Second Harlequin will respond to the challenge.

Volcica arrives into the Park a little late, dark eyes glancing about at the faces-- some familiar and many not. Aureth gets the first nod, followed closely by Gwenna.

Evaristo has to laugh as he's been given the start, so to speak - he gives it a moment's thought and then responds quite dead pan. "Have you ever heard me do well with things like these?" is his response, an eyebrow going up and his grin widening as he attempts to contain his laughter.

Volcica has joined the a set of blue benches.

Sophie is late, as usual, for events such as these, due to last minute responsibilities at theHouse of Solace. Her shoulders are slumped slightly but she looks around and when she sees Estelleshe makes her way toward her quickly.

Gwenna gives a cheerful wave toward the Stahlben and waves her over. "Come join us, Lady Volcica! It is so good to see you. I do believe ghost stories will be told soon. Also, the wine is delightful and these cookies? Amazing. I am going to litter the streets with crumbs all the way back to the villa."

"Would you really question my faith in you?" Aureth asks Evaristo, and he winks at him, like a dork, before lifting his glass of wine to wave over a few more people coming. He asks the group at large, "Does anyone else want to play?"

Estelle smiles as she sees Sophie, welcoming her over to the occupied blanket before turning over towards Aureth and Evaristo. She calls over mischeviously, with a glance towards the new arrivals, "What were the rules again?"

"Is any question acceptable?" Skye adds to Estelle's question about rules to both Aureth and Evaristo. She takes a sip of her wine and waits to see who else joins.

Amari sits forward some as the game begins in earnest, tipping her head to watch and listen as the questions are voiced by Aureth and Evaristo. When Gwenna greets a Lady Volcica, her gaze is drawn that way a moment so that she might give the woman a mild once over. She smiles to soften the scrutiny somewhat before her attention is on Aureth. When others call for clarity, she seems curious too, even if she asks for none.

"Weren't you listening?" Helena asks, but her eyes sparkle and her lips curve in a crooked smirk to indicate she's not criticizing, but playing along.

"Of course, Princess." Volcica offers a small smile for the Redrain, joining her at the blue benches. Sophie catches her eye, and a nod is given to the Mother Mercy. "I'm afraid I missed the--" rules. She waits for someone to answer Estelle, rather than continuing.

"Play? Oh! Yes, yes of course!" Sophie says as she sinks into the blanket next to Estelle and murmurs to her, "Play what?"

"Can you keep the questions coming or will you answer without a question and be out?" Aureth asks, quite game and cheerful.

Estelle giggles at Helena's question then turns to inform Sophie with a hug, "Why, what else could it be but the game of questions?" The tall woman gives Aureth an approving nod at the clever response.

Brigida turns from where she has been silent, her face drawn as she approaches the gathered game players. Her eyes flick from person to person as they speak, lingering a while before moving on.

Evaristo can't just respond right away, he wasn't necessarily lying when saying he isn't really good at this - this requires some controlled talking and Evaristo tends to just babble on like everyone wants to hear what he has to say. That, and he's busy with quietly laughing, drawn into the game quite quickly and highly amused. He opens his mouth, closes it again, then does offer a question to the group in general. "Don't most here know I got problems keeping focus and following the rules?" he says jokingly.

"What really qualifies as a question?" Skye stifles a laugh as she asks her question. She takes another sip of her wine.

Gwenna makes an 'oh' sound and seems to finally catch up on the game. Smoothing out her gown where she sits and taking a quick sip of wine, she then appears to join in. "I think I am good at questions, perhaps? Though why does it seem that, more often, I'm always the one being asked them?"

"What if you repeat a question?" Helena calls out to Aureth, taking another sip of wine, but overlaps with Evaristo's louder voice, so tries again. "What are rules if not for breaking?"

"Are any questions worth repeating?" muses Aureth.

Gwenna clucks her tongue and can't help but grin a bit knowingly. "Can anyone guess just how many times one might have to repeat, 'are you sure you want to do that?' to others?"

"Repeating questions, isn't that just nagging?" Evaristo asks, and that surprises himself cause he didn't really mean to make that comment as part of the contest - it just fit. He drinks some wine and leans back, looking faintly smug about it. Only to be the first one out with his next comment; "People tell me that ALL the time, I never understood why they ask that!"

Aureth laughs and claps his hands. "AHA!" He points at Evaristo and says, "Can anyone explain it to him?"

Volcica actually laughs! It's quiet, but a bit of emotion passes over the otherwise cool Stahlben's features: amusement. "Would anyone mind if I join?"

"Would anyone mind if you didn't?" Amari wonders aloud.

Sophie sighs and leans into Estelle as she listens to the questions. She sees Brigida and waves her over, asking a question of her own, "Would you like to join us?"

Estelle giggles at Gwenna and then Evaristo, before taking another sip of wine and pouring a separate glass to offer the Mother Mercy. To Volcica, she then wonders innocently, "What would hold you back from joining in on the fun?"

"Isn't it fine to ask the question again if it wasn't answered the first time?" Skye offers to Evaristo with a sweet smile, and then looks to Volcica, "How would anyway say the wiser?"

"Doesnt repeating the same questions just allow you to think harder about the response you had given?" Sanya asks, taking a sip of wine.

Shard is late, but she skulks in all the same. She picks out a spot without much care and settles onto the ground rather than any benches, cross-legged. Some people may have worn special outfits for this event, but not her; she's dressed as she always is, and nothing about it particularly stands out.

Evaristo nearly spits some wine out, caught and losing. "Bugger," he says good-naturedly and leans back on his elbow to listen to everyone else. No longer actively a part of the contest, that doesn't mean he won't interject quippingly when it suits, most likely. "This is going to be a tough one - too many good competitors here," he says and lifts his glass in a toast to everyone.

"Don't you ever wonder if you're interrupting?" Volcica offers back, tilting her head just a little as she inquires.

Having finished escorting or you know, walking with Amari to the event, Artur went to go find refreshments! Having procurred wine for the woman as he moves to join the others. "Wait story games?" One can see the Redrain Pince's eye light up with delight as he moves to join the others, haning Amari a glass as he swigs from his own.

Gwenna taps the side of her nose a couple of times when Sanya speaks. "You would think so, right?" The Redrain then lifts her hands palms-up in an 'if only' sort of motion.

"How could anyone fail to welcome you, here?" Aureth takes another long drink of the red, red wine, which is going to be his downfall, because anyone who has ever drunk with him knows, he's a lightweight. "Are we not all souls from the hands of the Queen?"

"We're all souls of the Queen, but we're all also Adventurers, so what's the greatest adventure of them all?" Artur asks, because he totally doesn't want to be out just because he missed the rules because he had to find the good and harder stuff to drink.

Estelle welcomes Sophie's leaning and looks back towards the others thoughtfully after Aureth's and Artur's questions, "Just how does the Queen keep track of all those souls?"

"Are not some journeys beginning..." Skye motions to Artur with her wine glass, "Just as other journeys are ending?" She motions to Evaristo who just called out of the game, "Isn't that a great representation of what we're all here to do tonight?"

Brigida turns her head to fix Sophie with a look, the venerable Archlector, looking like she has been gardening... and maybe cut herself on a thorn perhaps. That would at least explain the dirt and blood that seems to be staining her white robe... right?



Her eyes narrow and her voice is clipped as she answers. "Fun? Fun? You expect me to join you and play and laugh after what I saw at Highhill? You expect me to get drunk with you and forget that I saw Duke Arn and Prince Caius die before me along with HUNDREDS of men? Are you a fool Sophie to think that?"



She pauses, glaring at everyone... but still managed to be in the game.

Brigida checked command + intimidation at difficulty 15, rolling 27 higher.

Accepting the wine from Artur she makes sure there's room for him between her and the Redrain princesses and smiles at him, pretending to be somewhat and unhelpfully confused by what's transpiring, "Story games, or endless questions?" Maybe she'll just drink. "Shouldn't this all have a beginning and end?" At that point, even if she isn't Sophie, she blanches sympathetically and quiets as Brigida questions her and glares at everyone.

Sophie looks rather somber as she answers Artur's question with one of her own, "That depends, is life the greatest adventure, or is it death? Can we even know until we die ourselves?" Sophie glances up at Brigida and tears come into her eyes as she shakes her head. She rises and quickly departs, crying as she does. She does stop to whisper something to Brigida before she does.

Aureth checked composure + empathy at difficulty 42, rolling 2 higher.

"Their lives were cut short, but isn't there some comfort in them being gathered by the Queen and Mother for some well deserved rest?" Volcica, it seems, is willing to rise to Brigida's challenge. She looks after Sophie as she departs, but stays seated.

Dame Rosario Nevarre of the Oathlands, Anouk Ardennes, Anais Ardennes, Triage, The white dove of Mercy, 3 Valardin Knights, 1 Templar Knight guards leave, following Sophie.

When Brigida speaks up, Artur frowns. Rising for a moment, he considers the elder woman, then starts to speak. "Shouldn't we celebrating Arn, Caius, and the accomplishments of his men at the High Hill? Would Arn mourn for us? Would he not raise his flagon, salute, and take a long drink to our soul and the good death that we had? Is that not the wish of every Telmar? Of every man that is a warrior is to have a good death?"



"It may be a sad thing but does that assume we may never see him again? Please, come join us, just for a spell?" he asks, and then Sophie is fleeing. "Do we want everyone to sit here with tear stained faces and sad hearts? Did they not /win/ the day, in the end? Should they not be /celebrated/?" And with that, he drinks a long toast. "To the fallen! And since there is no question in /that/, I am out."

Artur checked charm + diplomacy at difficulty 15, rolling 14 higher.

Evaristo looks around and is quite baffled by this turn of event. He hasn't heard a thing about it and takes a slow bite off a cookie, looking between Sophie and Brigida with some excitement - least till Sophie gets up and heads off, crying. "Crap," he says, squinting at the departing form of Sophie before he looks at Aureth with a helpless look. THIS is DEFINITELY not his strong suite - at least he knows it and wisely choses to shut up. Instead he fills his wine glass up to the brim and drinks quite heavily.

Helena checked composure + etiquette at difficulty 42, rolling 27 higher.

Aureth sets down his wine-glass, on the bench. Carefully. He scours his hands over his cheeks, which show the flush -- in the soft golden light of the lanterns -- of his growing inebriation. "Do you think we only seek the easy questions, Archlector?" he asks, softly. "But does life stop when men fall in battle? Do you stand here in this memoriam, surrounded by Harlequins and embracers of Death and the Wheel, and think us callous for joy when people are dead? For people die every day, and we honor their memory, but so too do we honor the gift of their lives." He smiles, faintly, and tilts his head to Artur. "Me too, Your Highness."



But he makes no move to pursue the grieving Valardin. He sits quietly, on his bench.

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

Helena's been quiet too, content to put herself out by not trying, and she's murmuring something to Evaristo when Brigida turns to yell at Sophie. She frowns and bites her lower lip, turning to watch Sophie leave. She looks like she might get up to follow. Artur's words earn him a look of gratitude. She still looks like she might speak when Aureth does instead, and she exhales a little shakily, but keeps her silence.

Gwenna glances to Brigida and sobers herself for a couple of minutes. That particular Archlector is pretty intimidating. However, as others continue on with questions, and talk of souls and the Queen continue, she forges on. First, a warm smile and nod to Volcica for the noblewoman's words and then she drinks after Artur's toast. Aureth's words even bring the hints of her smile back to her face. She then wonders, "Perhaps they will be returned before too long from the Wheel? Is is hard to learn who you were before?"

Glancing around at Brigida's words, Sanya lowers her glass, shifting in her seat. Her lips part, though Aureth seems to say the words she was looking to say herself. She turns to Gwenna with a thoughtful look. "Would it be a good idea to learn who we were?"

Estelle checked composure + empathy at difficulty 42, rolling 1 higher.

"Should we celebrate their life or mourn their end?" Skye gives a thoughtful look. She takes a sip, giving a sympathetic look to the Mercy that left the gathering.

Deimos, an enigmatic barn-owl arrives, following Tescelina.

Insaya enters the Memorial Park and offers a polite greeting to all there. "Did I miss the event," she questions, looking as if she lost track of the time

Estelle frowns as Sophie is driven to the sudden departure, attention shifting over towards Brigida and her bloodied appearance. She nods at Artur and Aureth's words before remarking softly and sympathetically to Brigida while losing focus on the game, "I cannot know what all you have been through, but you are not alone with that pain. And those who have been lost are not gone forever, having returned to the very Queen who helped to usher them here with us. Please, come join us and reflect on the better parts in honor of the Queen and those who even now keep her company."

"Only if you don't forget to live now and here and remember you have a future," Evaristo suggests to Skye. "We've been put back on the wheel for a reason - given a new life. Living the new life is probably smarter than reliving the old one," he suggests with a lopsided smile. "Now," he suggests, glancing at everyone and there's a hint of steel in his voice now, though his smile is wide and charming, "how about we get back to enjoying our evening, this event that has been planned for weeks - with fun and games and ghost stories?" He looks at Aureth; "Do we have a winner you think?"

Tescelina's late arrival, if purposeful, provides a most excellent cover for the Wyrmguard Knight to slip in and simply /be/ at the picnic. Oh, me? Here the whole time. She wears dark breeches and riding boots with gloves on her hands and a loose collared jacket. If it were just here, of course, she'd simply be another pretty face among them. But she is accompanied by a rarely eerie looking barn-owl seated on her shoulder. But, mercifully, he doesn't shriek. She drifts closer, to spy upon the evening activities.

Gwenna grins a touch at Insaya when she enters. "Not only have you not missed the event, you're already joined the game perfectly," she remarks, perhaps knowing full well that the greeting puts her out of the game. To Sanya, she bobs her head. "I hope to, one day. It seems important." Skye and Evaristo's words make her briefly thoughtful, to judge by her expression. "I think I would remember to still live here and now," she murmurs and then perks up a bit as ghost stories are again spoken about.

Brigida's face softens somewhat after Sophie's whispered words before it hardens again and her face looks upon the game players with barely suppressed anger. Aureth's words seem to mollify her slightly before Estelle draws her ire, "No. You don't know what I have been through. This was not some ordinary battle where fools toast themselves and their dead comrades in puffed up glory. This was something that was beyond that and I ^failed^ to protect them. ^I^ failed. Stay here and play your games. I will have none of it."

"Perhaps the ghost stories, yes." Artur responds as he takes his seat again between Gwenna and Amari. Then Brigida speaks up again, and the Prince blows out his breath, a frustrated noise, mainly because he has nothing to drink at the moment.

Skye gives a thoughtful nod at Evaristo's words, murmuring her thanks now that the game is done and they're moving to ghost stories. She gives another thoughtful look to Brigida, listens to her words, then looks back at those around her on the picnic. She gives a deep breath and murmurs, "My apologies...I should be heading out." She finishes her drink and starts to gather her things to head out.

Shard eyes Brigida in silence, with a slightly more pronounced frown than her usual. She's not been doing much other than sitting, though she does take a sip or two of the provided wine. They are not enthusiastic sips, unfortunately.

There's a wisp of a smile for Artur's input, but it takes on a more sympathetic character when she looks back to Brigida. She offers no advice to her about how she should feel about any of it or what people ought to do when faced with death and tragedy. Her expression is soft and reassuring, and that's it. When the Archlector speaks again, about failing she pardons herself with a murmur to those she's sitting with on the bench and rises as if she means to see Brigida safely off. "Perhaps with the Queen well attended here, you and I might inquire of Petrichor together, Archlector."

- Amari says.

Skye has left the a set of blue benches.

Brigida's words bring forth a look of concern from Sanya though she knows better than to attempt comfort. "It may be." She says in response to Gwenna, before a faint smile appears on her lips at the notion of telling ghost stories.

Insaya glances over at Brigida then the group, blinking a little. "I am Insaya Bergere, if I am not mistaken this event is in honor of the Queen of Endings," she says. "What game am I now a part of exactly," she says

Estelle grimaces at the rebuttal but nods at Brigida, her voice still quiet. "As you wish, but the offer to talk should you decide to remains. My apologies for intruding upon your grief."

"Very well, then," Aureth says, with the lift of his eyebrows at Brigida. His hands fold in a loose clasp over the spider's silk he wears. His aspect is, temporarily, very grave, in this graveyard. "I myself often personally fail to protect hundreds of men from gruesome death," he says, almost completely neutral. He asks Evaristo, "Sorry, do you have the prize to award?"

A messenger comes for Helena, passed to one of her guards who brings it to her. She unfolds it, nods, and looks around at those she sits near, one hand squeezing Evaristo's shoulder as she uses it as leverage to help herself up. "I hate to leave just when the stories are starting," she says with a sigh, "but I have some business to attend to. Legate, lovely event as always. I do appreciate all you do," she says with a smile for Aureth. She waves as she makes her way out, fingers lightly lifting the skirt so the hems don't get too damp from damp grass on her way out.

Skye murmuring a soft thank you to one of the disciples before leaving the picnic. The young baroness looks thoughtful as she makes her way out.

Volcica just watches Brigida now, keeping her thoughts to herself. She lifts a hand to Helena and Skye as the women make to depart, and them towards Evaristo. "Oh, is there a prize?"

Dahlia, a confident red and white corgi puppy, Winter, a juvenile Oakhaven bloodhound, 2 watchful Blackshore guards leave, following Skye.

"I do not doubt you live a full life, your highness - and we're all brightened by your presence," Evaristo tells Gwenna and he sounds quite sincere. He gives Helena a smile and a quiet farewell and walks over to give Aureth the prize he digs out from his satchel, contained in a lovely little pouch with skulls on.

Gwenna gives a wave to both Helena and Skye as they depart, and then offers Artur a glass of wine. "This will help," she notes quietly. A few nods of her head are then offered to Sanya. "That is my worry, I think. That is may be important and I am like a child in a dark room trying to find my way about." A sigh and sip of her wine follow and it appears Evaristo's words brighten her spirit a bit. "You are charming beyond word and much too kind. The same, I believe, can be said of yourself."

Deimos, an enigmatic barn-owl leaves, following Tescelina.

"If it's of any comfort, I think the vast majority haven't got a clue either. Many don't even know about the concept of past lives." Sanya suggests to Gwenna with a thoughtful look. "He is, isn't he?" She smiles fondly to Evaristo as he offers Gwenna his kind words.

"Well, since I seemed to mix up my times I hope you all enjoy the rest if the afternoon," Insaya says and leaves as well

Brigida looks at Amari intently as she speaks to her, before she waves the other woman off angrily. "No. I shall be by myself with Petrichor. I... I need to get answers that you cannot help with so leave me be. Excuse me while I go and wash the blood of Arn and Caius out of my robes." With that the dishevelled Archlector turns and begins stomping off, her staff waving dangerously at any crossing her path.

"Oh. I didn't realize there would be a prize," Gwenna says with a glance to Volcica. "I would have tried a bit harder, I think." She then bobs her head a few times to Sanya again. "Truthfully, I was rather unaware myself for a long time, but have friends who have sought out such and told me about it. Some research I did, too, has made me curious, though I've been dreadful about pursuing it further."

Accepting the wine, Artur considers. And then he takes a drink from his wine. Then he asks, "You know, I have a serious question." he offers with a smile. "How come we're never the opposite sex in a past life? I mean, what if Gwenna was seven and a half foot tall warlord with hairy armpits and a balding issue?" Is he teasing his sister? Totally.

"We are, sometimes," Aureth says easily. He, like is player, is here to ruin all jokes. "Souls are not really gendered. You just don't really remember all your past lives, because you're human."

"Maybe we just don't hear of those. Not everyone knows who they were, and spme have probably had many lives and only know of one." Volcica lools to Artur with a hint of a smile. "Maybe some day, I'll try to find one of mine. There's so much else to do, though."

Amari bows her head respectfully to Brigida even though she's been angrily waved off, and doesn't insist. She waits until the older woman is stomping off, menacing all and sundry with her staff before sitting back down and apparently realizing she's completely lost the plot. "Are we not ever?" The opposite sex in a past life question, that's the one she gloms onto with her gaze sweeping to Aureth when he clarifies for Artur. "Interesting. So, you may have had bows in your hair once and you just don't recall, Artur."

Estelle takes a few breaths to steady herself and take a sip after surviving the brush with Brigida's attention. Fortunately the current discussion soon elicits a quiet chuckle as she watches the teasing abound.

Keski, a nervous disciple of Petrichor, Aletta, an even more nervous disciple of Petrichor, 1 Templar Knight guards, Oswald, the war pig, a lively Ostrian gelding leave, following Brigida.

Gwenna sticks her tongue out at Artur. "If I had been, then I surely would have kicked your ass quite properly back then," she teases back and then nods to Aureth a few times. "It just seems like it might matter, as of late. I am not well-versed in it all, though." A grin is then given to Volcica, the Redrain giving a roll of her eyes. "Right? So much else to do, it feels like. Just when you think you've solved on crisis or puzzle, another pops up, hmm?"

"As was I. But my apprehension was always more due to the fear of finding out what I didn't want to." Sanya pauses. "But we needn't be defined by who we were in the past, so my fears are baseless. I'd like to know, in the event it can be of help during future trials."

There's some murmuring between the Legate and the Second First Harlequin, no doubt about who is winning - some pouches are given to Aureth in subtle gestures from Evaristo.

Aureth briefly confers with Evaristo, determining the victor of the question game, and then says, "All right! I believe we are satisfied that Volcica is our victor, with Lady Sanya as a close runner up, and so the Second First Harlequin and I have agreed to share prizes with each."

Estelle sits up in her seat straighter to grin and clap earnestly for the proclaimed victors. "Well done you two! That was a fun game, I will have to remember it for the future."

"When you find out who you are though, what do you do with the information?" Artur asks. "I mean, if you were a lowly scully maid who died when a rat bit your hand and you got sick, there's not much to do with that. But when you know what and who you were, should you not see it through to the end?" he asks curiously as he folds his hands in front of him. "I have often adventured and found pieces of the past - my own and others. I have spent most of the last few years exploring who I was since I had the oddest feeling when arriving here. I have answers now. But I wonder what to do now that I am near done with the research. I have plans. But when those are done.. do you look further back? How far back in the past do you go before you find yourself lost in the past and no longer care for the present or future?" he asks, though he pauses when the prizes are announced and he grins brightly for the two winners. "Well done!"

"I actually learned that game from a four-year-old child," Aureth says with great gravity, reaching for his glass again. He doesn't immediately start answering Artur's past lives question but it's possible this is just for comedy timing reasons.

"Congratulations," Evaristo says and beams at the group in general, but lets Aureth present the prizes. He picks up his lute again and sits down on a bench, starting to play some soft background music to lighten the mood further - still keeping it low enough to allow comfortable conversation. "Wouldn't recommend digging that far back myself, because as you say," he nods at Artur, "you'd likely just go mad. MOST people never got any idea who they used to be and live life quite happily anyway." He sort of just skips the fact that some people don't actually live happy lives at all, or just doesn't think about it.

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

Gwenna makes another 'oh!' sound and then claps her hands together for the announced pair. "Congratulations Lady Volcica, Lady Sanya! Well deserved, I do think." A few bobs of her head follow Estelle's remarks. "It's a fun game, isn't it? It definitely sounds like one to be remembered for parties." She's quiet a couple of minutes after Artur speaks, but then the Archlector does as well. Her head tilts as she glances back to Aureth, the Redrain maybe weighing the remark a moment before grinning wide.

"Thank you, Father. Harlequin." Sanya beams gratefully at the two men. "Congratulations, my lady." She offers Volcica. She turns to Gwenna. "I thank you for the topics you brought forth, the concept has been pushed to the back of my brain for far too long." Her smile is sincere. She listens intently to Artur's question.

Estelle nods back towards Gwenna and giggles at Aureth's declaration. "Such a wise source you have listened to! It does you credit." To Artur, the Mercy muses, "I suppose what you do with it depends on who you are and what you learn. It gives you more to reflect upon, but you are the one now who gets to choose how you use that knowledge, if at all."

"The gift of being human is the gift to not remember," Aureth says, gently, "for memory binds. Death gives you each life anew, to shape as you will. The obligations of your old life are beyond you; you died. The promise of your new life is before you; you were born."

"Kids say the most amazing things," Evaristo says and for a moment he looks a little wistful and reminiscent, before he focuses on the group once more, smile widening - and a quick nod and glance given to Aureth. "I did hear a rumor that more and more people are starting to remember their past lives though. Do you think there's some merit to this? Is something going on, or did something happen?"

Volcica looks surprised! "Oh, thank you!" She accepts the pouch, admiring the object before spilling a pair of sleeping bat earrings into her hand. "Ohh, these are beautiful!" She pauses, looking to Aureth. "The greatest gift we can give is to serve the gods anew, of our own volition. Choices in this life, not the last one."

Volcica takes a pair of silver dangling sleeping bat earrings from a small black pouch embroidered with lavender bats.

Nodding to the answers, Artur considers. "That is a good way to look at it." he finally decides, as he considers Aureth. "But sometimes it's best to have a view of the past to help us look to the future. And to learn from our past mistakes."

Gwenna's warm smile goes to Sanya and then Estelle before she returns her gaze to Aureth, who clearly causes the Redrain to become thoughtful all over again. "I feel fully prepared for children someday, after that contest," she notes to Evaristo with a faint smirk, and then her expression becomes curious again, both at his remarks as well as those from Volcica and Artur. "For one or two people who have shared their experiences with me, it seems quite important who they had been, if it is only a thread from that life to this one. Do you think never knowing could have consequences in this current turn for us? Or are we sent to truly be new?"

"Thank you." Sanya beams, taking the pouch, admiring the skulls decorating it. "If you find the child again, hopefully he'll have more ideas for games we can leech off of him." She chuckles.

Aureth tips his hand this way and then that way. He says, "I don't know. I think that now people remember Death, and _know_ that they may have a glimpse of something to remember, they are far more likely to seek it. What might have been dismissed as a fragment of dream or a strange aberration when we could not remember the Mother of Beginnings-- well, now we know there's a Wheel. For centuries our theology didn't ask these questions about reincarnation that now we preach as part of our canon." Clearing his throat, he adds, "I think if you _want_ to know, you can seek to find out, but always ensure that you do not let the past consume your future."

"They do ask a lot of questions," Evaristo agrees with Gwenna with a quiet laugh, eyes crinkling. "At the spider petting zoo, I was asked everything form 'Does Death like cookies?' to 'If Death is the Queen of Endings and Beginnings, who is the Queen of the Middle?'"

Shard squints at Evaristo. "Everyone else?"

Finding herself chuckling at Shard's response, placing her newly received hairpins in her coiffure, Sanya turns to Evaristo. "That's a good guess. I hope it's what you said."

Sanya gets bright yellow fire opal skulls pair of hairpins with bone accents from a red pouch embroidered with smiling white skulls.

Sanya puts entwined burnished gold hairpin with sapphire embellishments in a red pouch embroidered with smiling white skulls.

Evaristo laughs at Shard's quick response. "I told her it was her mom," Evaristo replies with a wink. "And, I guess that makes sense," he muses at Aureth finally. "A few years ago, if someone had a strange dream of being someone else, they'd chalk it up to... a strange dream. Now? They might look further. That's like a BORING explanation though, I much preferred my theory of something EPIC having happened and now people are starting to REMEMBER," he complains goodnaturedly.

"I personally think remembering Death and bringing her back to the Pantheon was pretty epic," Aureth says with a complacent smile.

There is an immediate laugh from Gwenna as Evaristo details the questions he got at the spider petting event. "Oh, I can only imagine! His Grace's children, as well as Marian's, ask soooo many. I swear half of what I've learned in diplomacy is by answering their inquiries," is said with a chuckle. "But who doesn't like cookies?" There's another chuckle at Shard's reply, the princes offering the other woman a dip of her head. "Well, I worry less about epicness and more about being...useful, I guess? Knowing what I might need to know. I suppose I'm still trying to figure it all out," she says and a roll of her eyes and grin. "This, truly, has been a rather amazing event. I did not expect it to be quite like this. Thank you sincerely, Legate, for arranging it and fielding so many questions. I'm loathe to return to the villa, but duty calls."

Receiving a messenger, handed to her by her retainer, Sanya rises, excusing herself. "Thank you for arranging all of this and for the discussions I won't soon forget." She offers Aureth and Evaristo, her gaze turning to the others. "I must be heading off. Farewell."

"I did intend to get us to ghost stories, but honestly, advice and counsel from your friendly neighborhood Harlequins is far more productive, and I have found that after midnight, many questions grow easier to ask, and strangeness closer than furhter away." Aureth drains off the last of his wine and leans back against the bench.

2 Grimhall House Guards, Ivan leave, following Sanya.

Gwenna has left the a set of blue benches.

Khaavren, a dutiful assistant, 2 Redrain Guards leave, following Gwenna.

Evaristo looks a bit long-faced there as Aureth calls him out on a bit of a faux-pas. "Well... yes. It was," he says and gives his friend and 'boss' a lopsided smile. He leans back to play some music, happy with how things are, and more thoughtful than most nights - even if his eyes do glitter with mischief, almost constantly.

Amari is quiet again, for quite some time. The depths of her glass of wine is peered into, but by her occasional glances up at the various speakers, she's clearly paying attention. Not much in the way of contributing, is all, until she's finished her drink and yawns. "This is fascinating. I wish I could stay awake for the rest, but I haven't been sleeping well. If you'll all excuse me. Thank you for the picnic and game, Legate - and your good work with House Beaucage." The last to Aureth, given with a dip of her head. There's a smile for the Redrain siblings once she's up and a quick curtsey to the pair before she's on her way with no further fuss to interupt.

Estelle finishes her glass as well, offering everyone a warm smile as the gathering starts to scatter. She echoes the aforementioned sentiments, "This certainly has been a pleasant way to pass the late evening! Thank you Legate and the Harlequins for putting this together."

Alena Sparks, unamused first mate, Silk, the Seafaring Spider leave, following Evaristo.

Swiftwing, a sharp eyed, red-tailed hawk, Daan, the Fanboy Valet, 2 Redrain Guards leave, following Artur.

2 Novice Keaton Huntsmen, River, a juvenile Oakhaven bloodhound, Barf, the Bog Dog, Artur leave, following Amari.

"I'm glad I made it out to this." Volcica pauses, glancing to Aureth and then out at the park. "Legate, I need to speak with you, when you have a spare moment." Her tone suggests that maybe privacy is best, and that she doesn't expect a meeting right this second.

Volcica is overheard praising Evaristo: A great midnight picnic!

Volcica is overheard praising Aureth: A wonderful picnic for our Queen and Mother.

"Well," Aureth says, scratching lightly at his beard, "I have a few minutes, if you care to talk now, but if it is something that would call for more time and dignity, perhaps tomorrow?"

Estelle rises to her feet, head dipping respectfully towards Aureth with her voice warm. "Thank you again!" She nods as well towards Volcica and Shard before walking back towards the lights of the city.

Lance the white dove leaves, following Estelle.

"It's nothing pressing. I'll send a missive in the morning, and we can get together soon. I should probably get going,as well." Volcica finally starts to rise.



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