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Keaton Autumn Festival


Autumn colors blaze across the Keaton grounds in sweeps of gold, orange, crimson and brown. The trees are showing off their vibrant hues, while some evergreens retain their verdant shade. The air is crisp, the wind has just a hint of a bite to it, while the sun still shines warmly. The Keaton grounds are a riot of activity, with corrals of ponies, pygmy goats, Swool goats, silkie chickens and puppies, all available for petting. So many, many floppy eared puppies. There are multiple tables offering refreshments, from easily hand-held food like turkey legs, long bone pork chops and sausages, to sweeter options like candies, hand held pies and pastries. Baskets abound for collecting apples from the orchard, a cider press is doing brisk business, with the sweet nectar available fresh as can be. Hearty ales and hard ciders are available for those with the inclination as well.
The centerpiece of the festival is the "Adventure Maize" a massive corn maze filled with all manner of obstacles, tricks, treats, jumps and opportunity to test one's skills. The cost for entry to the maze is collected by a pair of guards to either side of the entrance, while the prizes awarded to the winners of the maze's tests of skill are set on a table for viewing.
At the center of the 'Maize' is a massive wicker effigy of what one might assume is Petrichor that looks like it might be lit ablaze come nightfall.

Date

Sept. 15, 2019, 8 p.m.

Hosted By

Reigna Amari Kael

Participants

Wash Petal Rysen Artur Maru Zara Catalana Esme Cassandra Eshra Mia Thesarin Monique Sebastian Apollo Baelos Shae Kedehern Jan Bhandn Alistair

Organizations

Keaton

Location

Arx - Ward of House Valardin - Keaton Hall - Grounds

Largesse Level

Extravagant

Comments and Log


1 Templar Initiates, 3 Templar Knight guards arrive, following Cassandra.

2 Kennex corsairs, Jane arrive, following Catalana.

Catalana arrives, following Wash.

Deliverance, an albino falcon arrives, delivering a message to Esme before departing.

The grounds of Keaton Hall are bustling with activity, partygoers arriving and mingling outside of the massive corn maze that has been growing over the summer months. The Keatons themselves are standing near the entrance of the maze, and while they, almost uniformly, look tired, there is also quite a lot of excitement brewing as well. Servers carry trays of small bites along with refreshing drinks, both alcoholic and non, offerings for the guests. There are baskets for picking apples from the orchards bordering the corn maze, and a quartet of apple presses working steadily to turn picked apples to cider.



Seeing that a good sized gathering has arrived, Reigna steps forward and uses her Keaton Voice (tm) to speak to the arrived guests. "Welcome to the Keaton Harvest Festival! Please, help yourself to food and drink. Pick some apples, or take a spin on the small dance floor." She gestures towards a patch of teak for just such a thing, set beside some musicians playing jaunty tunes. "In about thirty minutes we are going to open up the Adventure Maize to all who would like to participate! Be prepared for anything, I can promise you it will be very challenging! And, to those you do participate, there is a chance to win some stunning prizes, including a lovely stygian and duskstone ring, one of two, famous Keaaton goats, and a Keaton Bloodhound puppy!" Reigna pauses to grin to those gathered, "And do not worry if you'd rather not put yourself through the rigors of the maze. We have attendants who will guide those who do not want to run, safely to the feast at the center of the maze. Later, we will send our prayers of thanks to Petrichor and Lagoma, by burning the tall wicker idol at the center of the maze! Welcome and please, have fun!"

Wash strolls in with Catalana on his arm. "So last time I went to one of these in the Valardin Ward it was a winter festival, and I hit the king with a snowball. I'm not going to miss another one."

Petal arrives at the festival while adorned in a seatouched wool sunflower outfit. She has a shawl wrapped about her shoulders in the same wool. The girl carries along a large sewing basket and if followed by two hounds, including a Keaton Bloodhound. "Oh, I could do that, the maze adventure. I wonder if would be cheating if I have you both help me?" She says, speaking to the canines in a heavy Northern Shav accent.

Standing near Reigna is Kael, though this is likely no surprise. He is absolutely sporting that Keaton fatigue - perhaps the group as a whole spent a great deal of time orchestrating this event, or perhaps there is more to it. Whatever the case, he rubs at his eyes just once and then there is a squaring of his shoulders, a straightening of his spine, and a focus on his wife as she makes her grand announcement. He's flashing a grin at her, easy as can be. "Well said," he murmurs in the wake of her words. His only addition is his own rather heartfelt, "Welcome to Keaton Hall." That's his greeting to new arrivals, though focus shifts on to the household staff that is in attendance, making certain that they have all that they need. Petal's remark earns her a grin from Kael and a mild tip of his head hello.

Bayberry, an Oakhaven juvenile bloodhound, Steadfast, a dunskin stallion courser leave, following Norwood.

Kit, the grey fox, Primus, First of Monique's Assistants, 1 Greenmarch Guard, Tertius, Third of Monique's Assistants arrive, following Monique.

Oura, a white-tailed eagle, Valor, a juvenile male Oakhaven Bloodhound, 2 Greenwood Tribe Blood Warriors arrive, following Thesarin.

Rysen arrives at the grounds of Keaton Hall with Lygeia beside him. He is dressed in a black wool mantle, overlaid with white fox fur. The Crovane lord smiles to see the massive corn maze, and comes to stand before Reigna and Kael. "Marquis, Marquessa, thank you for hosting us." He bows respectfully and then gratefully accepts a glass of whiskey from Lygeia, raising it in greeting to Wash, Catalana and Petal.

Petal smiles happily over to Rysen. "Hi, Lord Rysen." She says in his direction. She goes to get herself an apple tart an some cider.

A puppy? Oh yes, Artur has been wanting to get a puppy forever. A puppy, a hawk and a horse. That's his current wishist. The hawk is already off the list. As he is getting the ciders, Esme's instructions were clear - she would meet him there. So after getting the cider, he was already in the crowd, mixing and mingling as he gives Rysen a swift smile. "It's good to see you without us having to kill things." he comments playfully, before giving a nod of his head to the Keatons. "Marquis, Marquessa. I look forward to your physician's fair next week and if I can help, let me know!"

Maru arrives, Eshra on his arm. Their bells jingle with each step. They pause to listen to Reigna's announcement and then Maru looks aside toward Eshra, leaning in a little and saying, "So, remind me which part you were looking forward to the most?"

"Lord Rysen! Thank you for joining us! I hope you are ready to experience some joyous Oathlands hospitality?" Reigna slips an arm under Kael's half-cape, to wrap around her husband's waist. These two, are adorable in their matching capes, the pair of Keatons sporting outfits primarily made of the seatouched wool they help to create. Spying Petal, Reigna lifts her free hand and waves, "Mistress Petal! You are looking well! Welcome!"

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

Zara meanders from the direction of the orchards, carrying neither basket or nor apple -- but probably enjoying herself, from the thaw in her reserve to something composed, but not closed off. She lingers as Reigna addresses the gathering, then inclines her head to both Kael and Reigna: "Thank you, both: you're both generous and gracious hosts, Marquis, Marquessa. I pray you receive twice the blessings and bounty you share.

Catalana is walking arm in arm with Wash and laughs at him, "It is lucky he's your cousin and likes your antics. I doubt I could get away with that." She smiles to her hosts and greets Reigna "Marquessa. Thank you for the invitation. We're so excited to be here."

Amari doesn't quite match Kael and Reigna in dress, having opted instead for seatouched wool in black and white with aeterna and umbra accents for the most part, but close enough. With the welcome given, the Voice of Keaton simply adds a bow of her head to the assembling guests and a smile.

Petal smiles happily over to Reigna, waving to her and Briar gives the countess a loud but cheerful sound bark. Petal then goes to find the dogs some treats as well, looking for dried meat without much spices.

"My Lord. Your Highness," greets Kael first to Rysen and thereafter to Artur. There is a dip of his head offered to each and he looks ready to offer forth a few more words until Reigna's arm encircles him. He's laughing then instead, shaking his head, and wrapping his arm around her in turn. Zara's greeting has him disengaging, just long enough to deliver a bow to the Valardin Princess.

Esme arrives with a saunter and sauntering is hard! There is a lot of hip swing but not too much hip swing because then one falls over, but she has to represent for Lycene. Her eyes travel the impressive set up as she keeps a sort of sly smile upon her features. She is born and bred in Tor, but it soon just falls apart. When she sees Artur her smile blooms to her normal one of sheer radiance and she cuts through the crowd to get towards him. While she does not run, she does bump into a server. "OH!" The word rings from her lips as she takes a cider, "Thank you for the refreshment." Her eyes practically plead with the person to pretend it was totally supposed to work out that way. Then she's listening to the Keatons as she gets to Artur's side. The fingers of her left hand reach out to take purchase of his arm as she hears... "Puppy? Artur! We could win a puppy. Win me the puppy?" Those twinkling emerald feline eyes sparkle up with hope, excitement and well more hope. "Please?"

After having personally been away from the city, and now recently returned, the best thing that Cassandra decided to do was to do something that *didn't* revolve around work. Even with that being case doesn't take away from the fact that she still has to look the part of Legate, and since deciding on a mixture of robes and armor. Vambraces and greaves do look good with a robe for one of the military inclined while not being physically taxing. "Marquis. Marquessa. Good afternoon to you both." she greets Kael and Reigna with a pleasant tone after arriving. "A relaxing diversion to come home to, if I might say so. My thanks for hosting."

Eshra is not only holding Maru's arm, she leans slightly against it, her other hand resting on the large swell of her belly and not really paying much attention to those that pass the slower moving couple. Pausing to listen to Reigna, the Lady turns her dark eyes to her husband with a smirk, her warm dark voice laced with amusement. "The part where we are out of the cabin and not having to be watched by everyone as if I am going to pop open at any moment."

Rysen beams at Reigna and Kael and says, "There's no hospitality like that of your hall, My Lady, My Lord." Turning to Petal, he says warmly, "Hello, Minister Petal. Gods and spirits, that is an amazing dress you're wearing. You are a true artist." When he hears Artur's greeting he laughs happily. "Indeed, it's nice to celebrate without getting stabbed or bit for a change, isn't it? It's very good to see you, Your Highness."

"Welcome Prince Artur! We are very glad to have you join us," Reigna beams to the Redrain Prince before waving to Zara and replying, "Thank you for coming, your highness! You do us an honor!" She looks to Catalana and Wash, smiling brightly, "Welcome Lord and Lady Kennex! If you brought your children, we have an area set aside for them to play with puppies and goats..."

When Mia arrives, it's at her usual brisk pace -- one that makes the thick velvet of her long gown flutter over her feet and her attendants sigh with faint exasperation as they attempt to keep up. Perhaps it's her natural gait, that purposeful stride, or perhaps it's a habit she's developed from many years of trying to match her husband's long stride as she must now, one hand tucked neatly into the crook of Thesarin's elbow. "...to sample the cider and see how it compares," she says on her way into the grounds.

Wash leads his wife to the alcohol, encountering Rysen there. "Lord Crovane." Wash says, trading a bottle of vodka for a glass of Oathlands whiskey. "Marquessa." He greets Reigna. "Thank you for hosting this event. We didn't want to impose, so Rayne and Cirella are at home."

There's a glance to Esme, and Artur give a shake of his head at the Disciple, and his words for her are low. Then he's speaking up again to Rysen. "No crows here tonight, thankfully."

Petal smiles over to Rysen. "Thank you. I made it myself out of my most favorite fabric, seatouched wool." She says and then adds to the lord. "I think if I win the puppy, I will her to Cillian and then we would both have bloodhounds." She gives Esma a dimpled smile a well.

Esme tips her head to catch Arthur's words to her as she looks at those gathered. Whatever he says causes her eyes to light up in that happy radiance of hers and laugh. When Esme laughs, it's full and without apology. Her voice lowers to him as she looks to those he is speaking with and offers her own introduction, "Lady Esme Fidante, Devotion of Limerance and Knight in the Calvary of Roses." All the things.

"Always a pleasure, My Lord," says Rysen to Wash. He offers a toast to Wash and Catalana, and takes a sip of his whiskey. He grins at Artur and nods. He smiles at Esme and, glancing at her ring, says, "It's a pleasure to meet you, My Lady. My name is Rysen Crovane." The lord chuckles and nods to Petal. "I've heard 'swool,' as Princess Helena calls it, is the prefect blend of warmth, durability and fashion - though I have little doubt its popularity is mostly due to the skill of the tailor who favors it."

Maru's eyebrows arch and he nods. "Right," he says with a chuckle. He glances around at all those gathered, then leads Eshra toward the hosts. "Marquis, Marquessa, thank you for hosting this delightful event," he says with a dip of his head.

Thesarin keeps up with Mia's brisk steps with longer, slower strides, keeping his arm crooked out for her. He has his usual stony facade (festive!), looking over the crowd of worthies appraisingly and nodding toward Mia. "We'll see, I reckon. Might be should put it to a test." He's dressed... up, for the occasion, making a (futile) effort to look less like a tattooed barbarian and more like a proper nobleman. (He's groomed, at least.) Kael and Reigna get a lifed hand in greeting when he spots the hosts among the guests.

"I aplogize, Esme, this is Lord Rysen Crovane, Voice of Crovane, Knight of the Northlands, and a dear friend. Rysen, as she said, this is Lady Esme Fidante." Artur offers in introduction of the woman as he chuckles at something she says, and then smirks. "You already look like you're in full bloom, my lady." he tries in a compliment to her, because.. reasons!

Monique arrives and surely all that black leather and magnificent dark mantle will keep her mostly warm as she joins the Keaton festival this evening. It will certainly help her blend in the with the darkness, and the Minx of the Marches sticks to the shadows for that very reason, scouting out the familiar faces, stalking several of them with a deviant smile, with only the flame-bright sheen of her hair to give her away.

Kael's busy with the meet and greet in general, but when Esme is remarking about her being a Devotion of Limerance or perhaps it is the remark of her being a Knight in the Calvary of Roses, the Marquis' focus is shifting to her. His gaze lingers a moment, evidently filing this or that away. So too does he bow his head in greeting, but it's brief. Ah, but he is distracted by the arrival of the Rivens and the pair there are bowed toward in welcome. You see, a flicker of a smile goes along with the gesture.

Petal peeks around the gathering. "Does anyone to team up with me?" She asks. It might be taking a risk to team up with her though, she doesn't look all that athletic or anything.

"Petal, you can come with Esme and I!" Artur calls out to her with a smile.

Catalana remarks to Wash aside, "Rayne will be furious he missed out on goats." She smiles to Rysen, "Hello Lord Crovane. What a pleasure to see you again." Turning to Wash, she shares with him, "Niklas has been trying to teach the young lord diplomacy."

"Niklas. I guess what they say about artists is true, you have to be really good at something in order to do it really badly." Wash jokes. "Did you go to the turkey shoot Lord Rysen?"

Esme brightens fully at Rysen as if they are the best of friends. "Lord Crovane, it is wonderful to meet you." She takes a sip from her cider. "Any friend of his Highness is... a person I'm sure I'll like." Her eyes fill with a teasing glint at Artur's comment about her dress. Then she nods towards Kael's look. A bright smile for the Man of the hour with his beautiful wife, but she does not pull their attention. There is a night for that. Something Artur says to her causes her to laugh again and drop her voice, an arch of her brow. Her face and eyes tell everything and there is teasing going on for sure.

A pair of guards move to the entrance of the Adventure Maize and one lifts an extremely long looking horn and lets out a low throbbing sound that is half honk and half lowing. Whatever it is, has the majority of hounds in the area sitting and throwing their heads back to answer with howls -- the sound surprisingly loud for the number of visible animals. Perhaps the kennels are close by.



At the signal, Reigna kisses Kael's cheek and uses her Keaton Voice again to call out, "The Adventure Maize is now open! Please form teams of two to five people and gather near the entrance! For those who simply wish to move onto the feast, follow Marie," Reigna points to the lovely Keaton chef who holds a baton with a bright green ribbon, "And she was guide you to the feast! Once you have your teams, you can begin the adventure!" With that, Reigna rushes off, heading into the Maize herself, clearly in an effort to get to the finish line and ensure the party is well under way and ready for guests.

"Lord Maru, Lady Eshra - it is very good to see you as well," says Rysen warmly to the Rivenshari. "Rukhnis and I were just talking about the night of dancing and music you hosted in The Expanse. I wouldn't dare impose by suggesting it was so much fun, that -" Monique appears from the shadows right behind Rysen causing him to flinch and spill his whiskey. "Gods and spirits, Moni - er, Lady Monique." He beams at Monique in spite of being startled. "I can see why you're so very successful at what you do." He winks at her, before shaking his head and smilling at Artur and Esme. "No apologies necessary, Your Highness." He seems to nod in agreement with Artur's words regarding his the Lady of Tor.



Rysen laughs happily when Catalana speaks of Niklas and his teaching diplomacy. He frowns slightly when Wash mentions the turkey hunt. "I missed it unfortunately. Had to travel back south from Stormwall," he says glancing at Monique, but turning back to Wash, Catalana and Artur says, "I hear it went very well, and I'll certainly make the next one."

Nomius, an errant bloodhound, Siri, an attentive apprentice, 1 Novice Keaton Huntsmen, Paris, a charming mercenary arrive, following Apollo.

Julep, the cuddle Hedgehog , 2 Pravosi Honor Guard arrive, following Sebastian.

Artur lifts his brow at Esme's tone and words, and when he speaks, it's in a near deadpan, as he heads towards the maize, with Esme, and he waves to Petal to see if she's coming with them or finding another team.

"Oh, is that Maru. Hello, you." Amari calls over, drifting from her place next to Kael and Reigna. A friendly greeting-warning is offered next, "Rysen! Careful in the maize maze." Another is given Artur, and a polite dip of her head for Esme, "Mind the wheelie horse." Then she's skirting by Petal, and flashes her a bright smile, "That outfit is lovely. Good luck in the maze, I'd partner with you but it would be sort of cheating, wouldn't it? I know what's in there." Monique is spied, just, and waved to, "Hello Lady Greenmarch!" Kennexes are not ignored, not at all. "Lord Wash, Lady Catalana. So nice to see you both." FINALLY, Thesarin and Mia. The latter gets the warmest smile. "Countess!"

"If nothing else, we'll then have further evidence that they do, in fact, actually make liquor in the Oathlands," Mia quips, her words dry but a very, very faint upward curve tugging at one corner of her mouth. "Though I doubt it will do much to convince anyone they drink it." Whatever else she might be inclined to say, the Countness cuts short, dark eyes narrowing slightly first at the blare of the horn, then at the baying of the hounds. It's not a wince at the volume. Really!

Petal starts to Artur and Esme, seemingly all flattered. "I am not sure if we can be a team of three, can we?" She asks, looking over to Reigna.

Cassandra considers the entrance to the maize with a critical eye, then straining her neck slightly, as if being able to see past the top. "I forsee less matter of physicality and more about being lucky enough to make the right guesses in getting through." she observes a moment later, then looking back toward the group at large. She'll need to be on a team as it turns out. "Count and Countess Riven," she starts for Mia and Thesarin. "I don't suppose you're looking for another body to fumble about blindly in a maize by chance."

Nomius, an errant bloodhound, Siri, an attentive apprentice, 1 Novice Keaton Huntsmen, Paris, a charming mercenary leave, following Apollo.

Reigna looks to Petal and nods, "Certainly! Teams of at lest 2 to as many as 5."

"She said between two and five, thre counts!" Artur offers to Petal and gives her a wink. "Come on, let's see if we can get a puppy!"

Siri, an attentive apprentice, 1 Novice Keaton Huntsmen arrive, following Apollo.

Petal ohhs, smile and goes to join Esme and Artur. "Woots, puppy! But a goat sounds great too."

Dressed in silks, of course, despite the cooling autumn weather, Sebastian sweeps in late -- also a think that's wholly in keeping with the Pravus artist's nature. He circles the grounds, looking for a specific person, a brief twitch of lips evidenced as he spots flame-red hair. With a wink to Rysen, he comes up behind Monique. "I heard there was a party happening."

"Or a goat. Yes, a goat. Would it eat the fabrics you don't use?" Artur asks teasingly of the seamstress.

Petal gasps, seeming a bit concerned about that. "You make a point."

Eshra holding onto Maru's arm chuckles softly as one after another guests start to call out to her husband. A glance towards him, her brow arching a little. "I am thinking that I should possibly start paying attention to what you are up to." teases but nods to Rysen. "Good evening, we are glad you enjoyed it. It was indeed a lovely night." pausing as Monique pops up behind him and nods to her as well. "Lady Greenmarch. I hear your brother has returned. I am sure we are all excited."

Away she goes! Kael is letting go of his wife, with no small amount of amusement as she goes rushing off. He mouths a 'have fun' along after her and ventures out a few steps away from the maze's entry point. Still, he's close enough to Amari and shoots his cousin a look with a rueful sort of grin.

Apollo comes walking onto the grounds with his apprentice; apparently as reward for the hard work, he's showing her a nice time at the festival. He's dressed rather nicely, and she's got a faraway look that suggests her mind is on something else entirely. Come on now, Siri, leave work on the workbench. He pauses, catching her arm, to rise onto his toes, looking around for who he knows.

Esme tips her head to hear what Artur is going to deadpan to her and she feigns a pout. It shows to be fake in her happy eyes though. Her smile moves towards Petal. "We will simply be happy to play, yes?" She winks to the girl before moving with Artur.

Monique smiles brightly at poor Lord Rysen, who she has just snuck up behind. It's a smile full of no apology at all. "Greetings, Lord Crovane. Shame about that whisky," she teases happily, waving to Amari. "Lady Keaton! I'm not above cheating." And to Eshra, there's a flame-tressed nod. "He has, and I couldn't be happier. I've stolen his good whisky already." But then there's a Sebastian behind her and the Greenmarch turns emerald eyes to him, lighting up. "'Bastian! You made it. We're a team." She says it authoritatively, threading a hand through his arm even as she reaches out to snare two drinks.

Thesarin gives a nod toward Amari with a nod--looking rather warily at the enterance of the maze. This seems suspiciously like... merriment. Cassandra gets a lift of his chin as the Laurent Legate approaches, and gives a low noise toward the back of his throat. "Fine to have you along, aye. Let's see if we can make a go of it."

Taking a drink of his whiskey, Rysen beams at Amari. "Wish I could take that advice, Amari. Afraid I'll have to leave before the adventure beings - but thank you for all the effort you put into it. It looks like a lot of fun." Noticing Thesarin and Mia, Rysen makes his way to their side. He offers an arm clasp to count in the fashion of warriors, and says, "Good to see you again, My Lord." He bows to Mia. "Countess." He smiles and, catching the eye of Sebastian raises his glass in a toast to the Pravus lord.

Cranes his head around at the sound of Rysen's voice. "Lord Crovane," he says, his voice booming from his chest. "It's good to see you." He glances around, then, as if looking for someone. "Is Mikani well?" There's a glance aside toward Eshra and he puts on a face of surprise and innocence all in one. And then he lifts his hand to wave toward Amari with a smile. Then he glances back toward Eshra and says. "If you want to spend more time in the Archives, be my guest."

Noticing his cousin, Artur pauses, and calls out. "Cassandra!" he booms happily. "I'm glad to see you back in the city!" he offers to her. "Though you have missed a lot of interesting advetures, you are more than in time for the latest issue."

While Sebastian collects his drink from the two Monique grabs, he doesn't immediately sip at his. "Are we now?" he says, amusedly, looking not entirely bothered by the authoritarian stance. "My lord," he nods in turn to Rysen, adding: "She's prone to cheating, and I can't promise I'll be able to stop her," he notes.

Wash has pretended the maze competition doesn't exist, distracting his wife with conversation and pleasantries, anything to keep his wife from deciding that they need a puppy for the nursery. "Lady Keaton. I can't recall where we've run into each other before, but I am glad to see you."

Tyce the gruff and disapproving arrives, delivering a message to Sebastian before departing.

Catalana has been chatting and laughing with the other guests. Thankfully for Wash, his plan has worked. She has not noticed the puppy or the maze. Her attention then spun to Artur, "Your highness. A turkey hunt? Is this the mythical beast I read in Lord Elias's journal?"

Rysen laughs at Sebastian's words regarding Monique, and nods to Maru. "She is, My Lord, and sends her warm regards." Lygeia comes to Rysen's side and whispers quietly to him. He nods and quickly makes his way to Reigna, Kael and Amari. "My apologies for leaving so soon, but I have had a wonderful time." He bows, and waves to the good company near the maze, before making his way to the east.

There's a laugh to Catalana. "Ah, I fear that someone may have read your Lord astray, my lady." Artur is totally gonna throw Kaia under the carriage for that one. "But we did have an interesting encounter with a giant boar?"

"He won't be able to stop me," Monique confirms with a brighter-than-bright cheshire smile for Sebastian and Rysen. "But Marquessa Reigna is well aware of my penchant and I have no fear that she will certainly be able to keep me in check with a single glare. She's very intimidating, you know. It's all that beauty, but honed like the sharpest sword!"

Amari's shoulders rise and fall in a brief shrug to Kael, then she's drifting off, hiding a yawn behind her hand as she pretends to be just rearranging her scarf just so. She laughs through the end of it at Monique's comment, and offers, "I can't imagine you'd need to cheat, but if you get stuck..." There's a smile for everyone else that's not forced, despite the tiredness she seems to be struggling under. Wash is considered as if she's trying to place the where in her mind, "Was it a charity ball? Which, I can't remember now. Lodge of Petrichor benefit?" She doesn't think that was it, but she skirts away to apparently oversee some of the cider pressing.

She hadn't noticed Artur, not right away at least, but she does now, Cassandra's expression growing a touch warmer than what it had been a moment. "Artur, I was wondering when I would see you. Good to see you well." She gives a slightly road-weary sigh. "So I've heard. I'd love to say I'm on a break but I suspect it'd be lying." A turn back to Thesarin. "Glad to be aboard, I suspect a great deal of fumbling about in the near future."

Mia dips into a curtsy as Cassandra joins them, one hand spreading the wealth of velvet that makes up her skirts as she does. "Mother Cassandra, it would be an honor and a delight to have you with us." Rising, she then offers her nods of greeting to Amari and Rysen as well, a curling of her long fingers in a welcoming wave to the former.

Amari has joined the among the chickens.

"Drop by the Villa sometime, Mother Cassandra, Gwenna and I will bring you up to speed on the Redrain goings on." Artur offers to the Legate quickly as he gathers his team to prepare to head into the maize with them.

Esme follows the conversations around her with her bright green eyes. She does turn to make sure Petal is with them. "I am so excited to attempt this maize. It will be the talk of the town, yes?" Then she looks back towards Artur and smiles a little bit more than before as she leans into his side a bit.

Eshra snorts. "I watch you read at home enough, I don't need to spend hours outside of it doing the same." her arm tightening around his own, turning her attention towards the maze and the contest that is about to happen. "Should we start finding our way? As I am sure even the slowest will get there before us."

Bob, the chartreuse parakeet arrives, following Baelos.

Apparently someone is very, very spacey right now - so while Apollo is hunting for someone he knows, Siri grabs his arm. "Gods, Apollo, we've forgot to lock up the shop!" she says. A moment of staring later, he eyes her suspiciously. "You really just want to go back and work on your project, don't you." A rueful sigh later, he's watching her go, and then weaving toward Amari with a smile. "Goodness, those boots are awfully fetching," he tells her.

Once it seems that people have split themselves into groups, the guards on either side of the entrance to the Adventure Maize lift their instruments and repeat that low, haunting call. The air seems to shiver at the low toned sound, setting off that howl once more.



The entrance of the Maize is fragrant, the scent of green and cornsilk lending a sweetness to the air. The maize open up onto a corridor, parallel to the outer wall. To the right, a wall of thick spiderwebbing blocks off the remainder of the corridor. While to the left, there is a bend, leading deeper into the maze.

Tyce the gruff and disapproving arrives, delivering a message to Sebastian before departing.

Wash shakes his head. "Lodge of Petrichor? Doesn't sound like me. I get hives just thinking of green stuff. Nature. Don't get any on you. That's my motto. We'll figure it out sooner or later." He listens to the sound of people herding their way through the maze. "There's supposed to be escorts so that we can get straight to food, right?"

Monique checked dexterity + small wpn at difficulty 30, rolling 15 higher.

"Do you really think so?" Amari prompts Apollo, grinning as if there's some sort of inside joke happening between them. She glances after the retreating Siri and lifts her brow, but doesn't comment immediately. Instead she takes some exaggerated steps to show off her shearling boots of super fine Oakhaven leather that a certain excellent artisan obviously made. "They're comfortable. I think I'll wear them until they fall apart at the seams... But, did you just lose your partner for the maze? You told her about the wolves and the nettle patch? Those were supposed to be fun surprises."

Artur checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 30, rolling 65 higher. Artur rolled a critical!

Sebastian makes sure they have sufficient supplies -- aka drinks -- before he murmurs an excuse to those they're standing with and pulls Monique towards the maze. The first choice shouldn't be a choice, really: who would go /towards/ spiderwebs? And yet the Pravus heads that way, humming under his breath. "Either the Keatons don't clean very often or this is an obvious deterrant, so clearly we're going towards the spiders, Mo," he tells his team member with a pleased grin.

Mia checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 15, rolling 15 higher.

Catalana chuckles at Artur "A boar? Well that's never good." She turns to Wash, "Before I forget. I need to talk to Niklas. Cerilla wants a pelican for her birthday and he seems the most likely to sweet talk one into moving into the nursery." Maybe Wash should of encouraged the maze and puppy idea.

Cassandra checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 15, rolling 16 higher.

Maru nods. "Mmhmm, better get started," he agrees and starts to lead Eshra over toward the maze, headed toward wherever folks who aren't competing are gathering to be lead in to the feast. He seems rather content to walk at the rather slow pace she sets. They'll get there when they get there.

Petal is in the maze! When Artur cuts away the spider webs, the girl darts forward.

As Monique gets the early lead, Artur frowns as he breaks out his spear. "..one moment, Petal, Esme." the Prince offers. And then in an impressive display of blade play, Artur rips through the spider-web and gestures. "After you, my lady, Mistress." he offers to the pair, following after them, and hopeully getting ahead of Monique and Sebastian.

Monique stares at Sebastian as though he's lost his mind. "Why would we go /towards/ the spiders," the Minx grumbles with a good natured elbowing to the Velenosa at her side. Out comes a dagger, and where on earth could it have possibly come from, in all that skin-tight black leather? But all of a sudden, it's in her hand and she's slicing through the spiderwebs while taking a long, fortifying pull of whisky. But then there's Artur and he makes the hole that much bigger and she laughs. "Well, don't make it look so easy, hm?"

Apollo doesn't quite dimple at Amari, but he smiles big enough that it's a real and present (pleasant?) danger. Chased by a scowl. "Falling apart at the seams. You'll take better care of them than that. A hint of damage and you bring them 'round." He glances back over his shoulder at... Siri. No, she's long gone. "She's got a project she's working on. Leather cover for a book. I think she nearly fainted when it was commissioned. Eyes got round as saucers. 'Can I, Apollo? Can I please?'" He laughs a moment. "Hazards of employing a scholar."

With the spiderwebs in shreds, the rest of the corridor is revealed -- a long hallway between walls of corn that leads to what appears to be a dead end. Or is it?

Esme watches the people get through the area and pauses just a bit. "Why is there always spiders?" Then she laughs and starts to pull her sword, however, Artur is already 'spear'heading the lead for their team. There is a look of impressed-ness upon her features as she claps. "You did it!" Then she beams that smile at Monique. It's a clear 'yeah I'm with him' smile. "He did make it look so easy, didn't he? Isn't that just great?" She moves with Petal and laughs at the woman's running through.

It seems that Mia is going to have to eat her murmured words about one of them launching her over the wall. As the trio she makes up with Thesarin and Cassandra round the bend, they come face to face with a wall of hay bales. Her dark eyes go up towards the bales, then down to her skirts, and she huffs very softly at what she's surely brought down on herself. One hand then lifts the fabric up towards her knees and, with the other held out for balance, the Countess simply begins climbing *over* the bales in her path.

Alix, a young Oakhaven Shepherd arrives, following Kedehern.

Mal, a devious raccoon, Daegmund, an Oakhaven Shepherd, Kedehern arrive, following Shae.

Thesarin reaches a row of stacked hay bales, blocking the path. He looks toward Mia, and then toward Cassandra. Not a word from the Prodigal Count as he starts making his climb besides his wife, sure and steady. Not a pause when he reaches the top, just back and around unti he's low enough to drop.

Autumn parties with cider and cozy outfits and mazes are not exactly familiar to one who has spent their entire life in Farhaven. The theme there is more hard booze, furs, beards, and fighting. Still! Baelos Redrain will make the best of it, and at a minimum this is an occasion to try a new variety of alcohol! He has a knack for finding trays of alcohol at a party like a hound can catch a scent, and really before he has even said hello to anyone he has a large mug of cider in hand. "Where is everyone?" He wonders, as it seems a large crowd is mid-maze.

No Name the Oakhaven Shepherd arrives, following Flavien.

Eshra walks along with Maru, following their guides. Once or twice pausing, a hand pressed to her lower back as she catches her breath but happy to be out and about in the cooler evening, enjoying the maze that has been grown throughout the year.

Sebastian checked perception + investigation at difficulty 40, rolling 12 higher.

As he follows after Petal and Esme, Artur notices that they're coming up on a dead end. He gives a glance towards Petal, as he starts looking, just in case they need to turn back. He's not discouraged yet. "Petal?" he asks her, "I don't think I can find a corncob to pull and open a secret passage." But something Esme says causes his cheeks to darken, showing off the freckles on his cheeks.

There is a moment where Cassandra is supremely grateful that she didn't wear *all* her armor. At least not the heaviest parts. And while she might've worn robes, she did wear pants under that, so not the same issue that Mia might have to go through. Adjusting Chivarly's Point to hang on her back instead of her hip to keep the sword out of the way, she makes the climb over the bales. Not the most graceful climb ever but she comes down the other side with a thud, dropping down.

Petal checked perception + agriculture at difficulty 40, rolling 14 higher.

"Because, why not," counters Sebastian to Monique, giving a low-throated laugh as she manages to deftly cut through the webs. Artur's moment of gentlemanly gesture, letting the others go ahead of him, is something the Pravus seems keen to take advantage of, striding swiftly along beside Monique. Of course, there's nowhere to go -- it's a dead end. He makes a noise, and then begins casting about to see if there might be another way through the corn.

Petal studies the corn, trying to see if anything seems out of place with the corn. The girl peeks over to Esme and Artur, giving them a nod. "Oh, okay, I will check it out." She says in her heavy accent.

Esme moves into the area, but her perception lasts only as good as trying to see if the other team has found anything. She curls up to Artur's side to offer a comment and then offers. "I know that you have this Mistress Petal. I have complete faith in you."

Monique's brows pinch when they come to a seeming dead end. "Oh, of course you would lead us this way," she mutters to Sebastian, peering between the rows, trying in vain to find an opening to lead them deeper in the maze. "Do you suppose we'll have to turn around and go the other way, 'Bastian?"

"I... got the time wrong, it seems... oops." Perhaps a bit late to the party, but they made it! Shae and Kedehern make their way into the Keaton Grounds. "Do you want to do the maize, or should we ask to be escorted to the center?" Shae asks as she turns her Amber eyes to Kedehern, looking up at the tall Laurent.

Petal studies the corn very carefully and intently. She finds a secret passage at the same time as Sebastian. "Ohhh..." She says, adding. "Look.." She stands back, letting either Esme or Artur go into the tunnel first.

"I shall." Amari promises, before Wash's comment has her laugh softly, "Now I recall. You were discussing how so many nobles had entourages of small animals and how you didn't much care for them. I'm certain that was you. No wonder I had the Lodge of Petrichor in my head." His wondering about the drinks has her look about, to see who isn't daring the maze, and she calls to them, "If anyone would like to get straight to the apple cider at the end, I can bring you through the maze directly. There's a secret route."

Kedehern looks down to his fiance, and gives her an easy smile. "We're just fashionably late, clearly. Cristoph assures me it's a thing," he nods. "Let's go ahead and try the maze, why don't we? I think you mentioned that you went to a thing with the Greenmarchers that was similar?"

Maru follows along with Eshra, pausing when she needs to pause, supporting her as they move along. Once they're through to some seating, he leads her toward a table. "It really is nice to get out," he says to her, just loud enough to be overheard. Glancing aside to her as he sits down next to her, he smiels. "I'm looking forward to the trip up north."

Apollo, turning when Amari does, offers a bow. "Lord Wash," he greets, happily, apparently already familiar with him. A glance at Amari, then a smile. "You'll want to take her up on that," he says. "Marie makes the -best- cider."

Catalana gives Wash some forewarning, "Jan is on her way."

Jan is here.

"Lovely. She missed running the maze though. I expect she would have liked that." Wash comments, his back to the entrance, so he doesn't notice Jan's arrival.

"You have too little faith in me, Mo," Sebastian replies adroitly, despite the fact he hasn't found the exit... yet. It's another moment before he finds it just as Petal does. He makes a brief sound, a quiet laugh and a mute hat-tip to Petal, though unlike her, he doesn't wait: just plows through, trusting Monique will follow him out the other side. "Well, that worked out well. Your turn to decide, Minx," he declares.

"Oh, there's Amari," Shae replies brightly, or well as brightly as her every present exhaustion allows these days. And Apollo is there too. "Amari, Apollo!" She calls out, waving to them both. Shae's head turning some as she nods to Kedehern, looking back up at him again. "Yes, it was very lovely." There is a bittersweet smile there for a moment and then she is tugging Kedehern along with her, heading toward Amari, Apollo, and friends!

Catalana hears Wash, her tone is one of disappointment, "Wait. There was a maze? Why didn't you say?"

Wash blinks. "It's over there. I just thought you weren't interested. We can go wander through if you like."

As Teams 1 and 2 head forward, they are soon enough forced to turn left and the corridor widens considerably, allowing for three people to walk comfortably shoulder to shoulder. There are bushes in the corners. Likely they didn't want to uproot them for the maze, as the hedges are tall and well maintained. There is some giggling heard from in front of you all. And as they pass those hedges, pages pop out, armed with bows and arrows! The arrows are capped with chalk pouches, well padded, but likely to leave particles of colored dust on those they hit!

And with that, Kedehern finds himself tugged along, giving a wave to Amari, and then a nod to the man he assumes is Apollo, at least. "Evening, Lady Amari, Master Apollo. I trust you're well?"

Monique checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 25, rolling 17 higher.

Sebastian checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 25, rolling 29 higher.

Artur checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 25, rolling 24 higher.

Esme checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 25, rolling 20 higher.

Petal checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 25, rolling 4 lower.

Catalana shakes her head at Wash and gathers another drink, "Lets wait for Jan and then the two of you can get into some sort of mischief. I think she may be up to trouble. I was Kitty cat again in that letter."

Wash is jumpy like a cat, when Jan sneaks up on him, he bounces forward with both feet, lifting his drink to save it from spilling. He clutches it to his chest. "Jan! That was nearly the end of my whiskey!"

Apollo turns at the call, smiling at Shae when she approaches. "Lady Shae," he greets. "And Lord Kedehern. Nice to see you both. I'm thinking of sneaking into the hall and getting some of Marie's cider ahead of the rush." He lifts his head a moment, a scrap of giggling caught from the maze, and grins broadly. He might recognize that sound.

"Shae!" Amari hears her cousin and turns on her with a bright smile, "Lord Kedehern. Nice to see you. Look at my boots." Odd request, but she helps by balancing on one foot and lifting the other so the Laurent can have a look, and Shae too. Whispering, even though Apollo is literally right next to her, "Apollo made them and has made the terrible mistake of promising to keep them in good shape." After that she catches sight of a Redrain lurking and tilts her head to regard him a moment before greeting, "Prince Baelos, hello to you as well!"

Jan grins. "Can't have that now, can we?"

Monique does follow Sebastian, slipping through the opening and charging ahead, only to be met with giggles and pages with colored chalk. Monique's eyes squint. "Oh, no. I don't /think/ so. This is /black/ leather. BLACK." And she swerves and jumps and dodges with a certain alarm in her green eyes.

Cassandra checked perception + investigation at difficulty 30, rolling 8 higher.

Catalana rounds and laughs at Jan before throwing her arms around her sister "Oh Good! You're here!"

When the pages show up with chalk, Artur looks like he can charge through easily. But instead, in perhaps a move that would make an Oathlander proud, the Prince moves to shield Petal from the attacks. "Go!" he calls out to the two women, waiting for them to go through as he takes the hit, glancing at the pink on his silk robe and sighs. "Gwenna is so gonna get on my case."

Petal is saved from the pink shot by Artur. The girl looks back to him. "Thank you Prince Artur!" She calls out and then tries to dart ahead while keeping close to Esme.

"Oh! You should, it is delicious! I had an amazing time helping her with making it all." Smiling brightly to Apollo. "Don't tell anyone but I may or may not have snuck off with some." A little sly wink as she laughs at touch. And the Shae's eyes pop as Amari shows off her new boots. "Oooooooo, those are gorgeous!" And then she turns her smile onto the others there, "Good evening! I'm Lady Shae Keaton and this is Lord Kedehern Laurent," she offers with a warm friendly voice and smile to Wash, Catalan, Jan, and Baelos.

Sebastian doesn't seem all that keen to be hit with chalk either: not with his brilliant silks at stake. He follows in Monique's wake, darting and turning, successful in avoiding being hit, but at a cost. Most of the liquid has splashed out of his glass, and he glances at it with a grimace.

Esme considers this for a moment as she walks with her team. She is not even a little sorrowful if they fall behind or anything, she might be missing that competitive spirit. "The trio of three, because why would there be four, crashed through the spiderweb and found a hidden door." She's sing-songing their adventures now. "When they heard the giggles in greens, they were shot at by pages unseen." Oh no face. "The brave Prince Artur saved the Mistress Petal that day, his silk giving into pink decay. The lady that made the trio, ended up getting hit all times of.. zero." She taps against Petal with a smile and then winks at Artur, dropping her sing-song verse. "It will wash and now you got to save the damsel."

"This may of been the wrong choice." Cassandra says seeing what appears to be a dead end? Or at least a way that might take them further away. The Legate goes silent a moment and she's about to shrug and turn around when in the process of starting that turn, she stops. "Wait. There's another path here. To the right." A glance back at the other two. "I suppose this way better than any other, yes?"

Apollo checked charm + performance at difficulty 15, rolling 32 higher.

Artur checked charm + animal ken at difficulty 25, rolling 11 higher.

Catalana then beams at Shae and Kedehern, "Oh a pleasure. I'm Lady Catalana Kennex, and this is my husband Lord Wash and sister General Jan Kennex." She shares with Shae, "This festival is amazing. I'm so glad to be here."

Esme checked charm + animal ken at difficulty 25, rolling 7 lower.

Sebastian checked charm + animal ken at difficulty 25, rolling 1 higher.

Monique checked charm + animal ken at difficulty 25, rolling 25 higher.

Wash greets Shae. "Another Keaton! I thought I knew them all." He says with a grin. "Lord Laurent, I was drinking with a Laurent last night... Jan? Who was at the Black Fox with us last night?" He is content standing around with a drink, as long as his glass doesn't get too empty.

Alix, a young Oakhaven Shepherd have been dismissed.

Thesarin checked charm + animal ken at difficulty 25, rolling 11 lower.

"Careful, Esme, they'll eat the clothes right off of you!" Artur teases as he starts to mauveur through the crowd of goats, reaching to take Esme's hand to help her. "Take Petal's hand, and follow me." he offers to her quietly, the trio to start to work through the herd.

Settled with Maru, reveling in the crisp autumn air, Eshra pulls her shawl tighter around her shoulders as she watches the party goers and leans in to nudge her husband's shoulder. "You know, you do not have to sit here, if you would care to mingle, I don't mind."

Cassandra checked charm + animal ken at difficulty 25, rolling 18 lower.

Jan thinks a moment. "I remember your cousin, and a Malvici..." She trails off, struggling to recall more names.

One mug down, Baelos looks thoughtful as he considers the hard cider. Better have another. He secures one, just as Amari happens upon him. "An, Lady Amari.." He greets her with a light grin, "I had meant to find you later once the war paint came out.."

Catalana glances between Wash and Jan. "How late did you two stay out?"

How /dare/ she. Apollo's jaw drops at Amari's stage whisper. "Lady Amari Keaton," he says, speaking the words like she's a child in a great deal of trouble. "As if I don't take the utmost care of /all/ my clients. Why, I may have to demand a duel for my honor on this very spot." He looks dead serious. ...for a fleeting moment. At which point, the corner of his mouth quirks up. Serious becomes merely convincing. He steps back so that he's not in the way of the conversation, offering a bow and a smile to Catalana, Jan, and Baelos, previously missed.

Mia checked charm + animal ken at difficulty 25, rolling 6 higher.

Whatever perfume Monique is wearing? The goats /hate/ it. And they just clear a path for the Minx of the Marches who glares at them as she passes by. "Oh, don't think I don't know you want to nibble at my mantle," the Greenmarch mutters under her breath, careful to keep Sebastian as a barrier between her and them, just in case.

At Amari's unique request, Kedehern takes a glance to the woman's footwear, and "Oh, I love the buttons!" he remarks. A bit of a bow then to the gaggle of Kennex who are introduced, and "Ah, yes... I believe I met Lord Wash before actually, at an incident with the Agriculture School," he says, nodding in thought. "A pleasure to meet you all, of course."

Yet another threat to his clothing: Sebastian makes a faint sound of dismay, careful to tuck in stray bits of silk to prevent gaining the interest of any goats, slipping carefully through the pack. He gives Monique a wry look as he realizes she's using him as a human shield from said goats, but it seems to work for them, anyway.

GOATS! There are so many goats. Esme knows she was told to follow, but did you see the baby pigmy goat? Did anyone see that widdle face and it's widdle maaaaa? Oh look at it. Just look at it. The lady Esme is looking at that cute little goat and she's dropping to her knees. "Artur..." It's that same noise and tone a woman uses when she has baby fever and holds one. "Look at it's face..." Of course, while she's loving that little goat. It becomes two goats.. then three goats.... then four goats. This is becoming a bad kid's story book. Also, Esme may now not be able to get up. It's possible to be overloved, even if there is a Devotion.

It appears goat is not on the menu tonight, as a massive herd of the rascals are currently causing a blockade on those traversing the maze! There is a goatpocalpyse going on and there is much bleating and hopping, and even some fainting. Monique's perfume, however, is earning her some goaty stink-eye and she slides on through unmolested.

Catalana tilts her head at Jan's murmur and immediately looks for the most northern man she can. Spotting Baelos, she asks Jan "That one?" So much for subtly.

As Esme is lost to the goats, Artur consinders - and there goes Petal as well. The Prince knows that he's probably lost at this point and sighs. He really wanted that puppy. But he tries to continue on, but without a team, does it count?

Petal is wearing all this pretty seatouched wool and the goats seem to love it as well. One tugs at her shaw and get its off. The girl goes after her shawl and then she is swarmed goats! She ends up very distracted, talking to the goats, being nudged by them, trying to her shaw her back. She doesn't make it out of the goat area for quite a while. One even take off her ball of yarn, grabbing it from her basket and there is yarn everywhere.

Goats? Dear gods above and below, how did Mia end up stuck in amongst a small herd of goats? Both of the woman's black brows arch sharply upwards as they turn the bend and are faced with a number of them, to which she murmurs to her companions, "....I've heard the Duke of Artshall named one of his 'Painbow', and with good reason." Fortunately -- or at least now she's regarding it fortunately -- that green velvet had a good deal of hay cling to the material, which the Countess is now plucking off her dress carefully and distracting the animals with. How very tasty! Provided she can keep them from biting at her actual gown.

"We are very happy that you all could come to the festival, are you thinking of trying the maize?" She asks the group of Kennex and Baleos. "Oh that was Lord Ian that was at the attack of the Agriculture College," Shae replies to Kedehern, a little smile to him. And then she leans toward Amari a touch, pointing at her boots some more.

Jan claps her hand over her eyes.

Soot, a gray foxhound puppy have been dismissed.

Violet, a shopkeeper have been dismissed.

1 Crimson Blades Lieutenant have been dismissed.

3 Iron Guardsmen have been dismissed.

Briar, a young Oakhaven black and tan bloodhound have been dismissed.

Cassandra can order Templars around no problem. She can give prayers and rites with the best of them. Animal handling however, was not her strong suit. And while others may have other varying levels of success or otherwise, one particular goat seems to be taken particular umbrage at her, not allowing her to pass, headbutting into one of her greaves. Neither is hurt, resulting in the goat looking annoyed and the Legate perplexed. "Uh, you may be better off going on ahead."

Wash looks at Kederhern. "I don't think that's right. I think you might be confusing me with Ian. I don't think I even know where the Agriculture school is. Ian on the other hand... organized it's defense once. My understanding is that the defenses included bedpans and bees."

Thesarin does his best to... wade through the herd of goats. It does not go well. He tries to shove through with his knees, but there is more goat. He gives a short glare toward Monique as she drifts throuugh, pushing back at one of the larger beasts trying to have a bite off his trousers. He puskes at it, and it shoves back with an affronted bleat. "Shove off, y' uncooked slab of mutton..."

Maru glances down at Eshra's nudge and then back up to her, he chuckles and then looks out toward everybody gathered. "Don't have to, but I want to," he says, glancing back toward her with a grin. He takes a deep breath and lets it out. "The privilege of being old," he says with a bounce of his eyebrows, then he turns back out to watch the others.

Baelos looks away from Amari for a moment and then toward Shae, "What are the maze rules?" He asks curiously. "I suppose violence is discouraged?"

Esme makes grabby hands as the wranglers take the cute little baby goats away from her, but then she moves to catchup with Artur. "Did you see them? Did you?"

Monique snickers as she passes by poor Thesarin. "I'll send you some of my perfume later, Count Riven!" she trills back to him, through the goats and onwards. She leans in to murmur something to Sebastian as she does, a low, throaty laugh shading her whisper.

Once the goats have been chased back, there are a host of directions available to the teams. There is a right turn that leads down a wide path, and an equally wide path forward, that seems to have a fork in it that continues ahead or leads to the left.

Eshra is overheard praising Reigna: awesome

"Yes. But our goal is ahead.. and Petal just ran off." Artur says with a quiet frown, but he turns to the path, looking around. And then to Esme. "..which way?" he asks her, unsure of himself at this point as he dusts at the chalk on his shirt.

Jan leaves Wash to his conversation to join Baelos in hearing the maze rules.

Amari plants both of her feet and give Apollo a SERIOUS look, as if she's going to demand he name his terms, but when his act breaks so does hers. "I would never imply such a thing, ever." So she balls her hand into a light fist and slow punch-pushes his shoulder with it. A murmur from Shae has her instantly delighted though, "I can't wait! I have a stack of notes for you as well." Then, warpaint. The comment draws her attention to Baelos again and she is all disappointment, "It's not out already, I see. For shame, Your Highness." Rather than be rude at that point, she introduces him around to her family and friends, "Prince Baelos Redrain, meet Lady Shae Keaton, my cousin, Lord Kedehern Laurent, and Apollo, maker of my boots." And probably other things besides, but she's going to be like that just to bother him.

Actually, directly ahead there appears to be something along the ground. It is hard to make out, as it is a distance away, but there's something muddy colored up ahead.

Eshra chuckles, catching her breath softly with a hand to her belly, her chin resting on Maru's shoulder as they watch those around them. It's a nice quiet kind peacefulness that settles around them in the chaos of other's having a good time.

"I'll need to consider the use of goats as distractions for possible military applications." Cassandra muses, using a knee to shove past the persnickety goat that had been hampering her. "Count Riven, require assistance?"

"I really can't tell if that was /anti-goat/ or not," Sebastian tells Monique, laughingly, as they emerge out the other side of the herd. Almost immediately, he gives his partner a wry smile, hurrying down the right hand path to try and get some distance from themselves and the other teams. "I hope you know I've sacrificed my entire glass of wine to this endeavor. If this keeps up I might be forced to drink your whiskey." The horror!

Monique checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 15, rolling 22 higher.

Esme gives a shrug of her shoulders and a large smile. "I do believe that I am hopelessly... lost." She winks towards Artur. "I figure that to the right maybe?"

At the Baelos' question Shae glances to Amari there, as she had arrived late to the party! And then introductions are being made. And Shae makes a little curtsy in greeting to the Redrain Prince. "Oh, it is an honor to meet you, your highness. And no, there is no actual violence allowed. It is just a bit of fun, to be silly and have a good time." Shae explains with a sunny smile that makes the dark circles under her eyes fade some. Amari's murmured words back to Shae have her eyes widening with excitement. "Oh! We will have to get together then, soon." She declares.

Esme checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 15, rolling 14 higher.

Artur checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 15, rolling 17 higher.

Catalana briefly leans into Wash before directing his attention towards Jan and Baelos.

"Setting a batch o' provision at your enemies would be a new choice, 's sure." Thesarin pushes past the last of the belligerant goats with a grumble. He might not have his wife's touch with animals, but if a problem can be brute forced, he can likely manage it eventually.

Sebastian checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 15, rolling 12 higher.

As Thesarin, Mia and Cassandra move forward and then take the left hand fork, they wind their way through a twisty series of blind turns until they reach a tall gate. To the side of the gate is, inexplicably, a small table filled with ears of corn, and a guard. "Welcome! Ahem. To pass this challenge, you must answer my riddle! First, you throw away my outside and cook the inside, then you eat the outside and through away the inside. What am I?"

"Ah, yes, Ian... My apologies, Lord Wash," Kedehern replies with a small smile. "It must've been the family resemblance," with a nod. The Laurent looks over to Shae and Amari then, raising one of his brows, but he doesn't comment just yet.

"Well, it's a good thing you have," Monique informs Sebastian with a radiant smile as they come upon the hay bales. "Because if you hadn't, you'd most certainly be losing it now. Up and over, my dear friend?" the Minx suggests, and with a bit of a running start, vaults herself over the wall of hay bales, all feline grace and tight leather making for a stunning sight.

"I knew it would be a disappointment." Baelos mock-grimaces, at Amari. "But I already did the war paint look one night. I try to mix things up, you understand. Tonight .. to be determined. More cider first." Back to Shae, he arches a brow: "A non-deadly maze without violence? Truly a Southern party."

There's a soft chuckle from Mia at the guard's question. Her eyes turn towards their surroundings, then back to her companions, and finally, return to the guard. "Corn, good sir. You're corn - or at least your answer is."

Jan comes to stand beside Baelos, but addresses Shae. "I would like to give the maze a try, as well.:

With the pair of them headig to the haybales, Artur pauses as he starts his way up, waiting for her, before the pair of climbing and then making their way over to prepare to head on.

Another smile, a dip of his head toward Baelos, and Apollo is amending: "Your highness." But then he's eyeing Amari sidelong. "I'm going to have to go get one of the Marquessa's bruise balms now," he says. He half covers his mouth, mouths the word 'cider', waggles his brows. Then he dips his head again to the group at large, and slips back, off to find Marie and bother her for some of the best cider ever.

|The other two teams both choose the right hand path, the corridor wide, with several empty turns and walls that section off empty areas. Then they reach a massive wall of hay bales. All of them are easily able to make the climb, only to see a veritible pond of mud below. Thankfully there is a rope secured to a tall pole run through the hay and attached to a low tree branch below. And there are hooks. Zip line!

"I'm adopted." Wash deadpans to Kederhern. But then he offers him his hand and breaking into a broad smile. "I'd actually love to hear your perspective on that siege. Ian always downplays everything and makes me drag out every detail. I love a good siege."

Esme checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 20, rolling 10 lower.

Artur checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 20, rolling 109 higher. Artur rolled a critical!

While Sebastian doesn't have quite the grace and effortlessness Monique does, he still does a good show of jumping over the bales with a dexterity probably not otherwise obvious in the artist's demeanor. He's probably half-distracted watching the Minx ahead of him, if his low-throated chuckle is anything to judge by. Spotting Artur and Esme close by, he calls: "Lost a team member?" with a smile.

Sebastian checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 20, rolling 2 higher.

Thesarin just comes to stand behind Mia. He lets her speak. He just sort of... glowers at the guard, in silence. The man isn't a great goat-walker, but he's something of a champion glowerer, and he isn't simply making merriment.The Prodigal Count of Riven is being subjected to... whimsey.

A few blinks pass between between the guard, the corn, and the pair of Rivens. Eventually, Cassandra nods with Mia. "An ear of corn? You toss the outer layers, eat the corn, and then toss the cob?" A shrug follows. "That...would be my guess anyways."

Catalana grins to Kederhern, "Lord Wash is my husband. He was silly enough to marry into the Kennexes. I'm Lady Catalana. Pleasure to meet you."

Monique checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 20, rolling 38 higher.

The guard gives Cassandra a deep bow and glows, "Archlector Cassandra! It is such an honor, I am... I mean, you are a legend, I just uh. Yes! An ear of corn. Wow. I didn't know you were going to be here, uhm. Wow. Take the corn! You gotta take the corn. Trust me. You don't wanna go past that animal without it. Not in here." She thrusts an ear of corn at Cassandra and her teammates.

"Of course! We were thinking of giving the Maize a try as well, perhaps Amari, might know the rules for it." A glance her cousin's way, as Shae responds back to Jan. And the Shae's eyes light up some and Wash's question of the siege. "Lord Kedehern lead the attack on the battering ram the the Abandon where using to try and break one of the gates down with." A beam of pride there.

Bhandn is, at best, fashionably late. Whether he's in fashion or not is another matter, but he /did/ dress up. His attire has usually been plain, heavily in favor of woolens, but not tonight! Tonight it's aeterna on the inside with a seatouched wool coat on the outside. He's also hesitant to really join the festivities, arriving and hovering at the edge of the general crowd, directing his grey eyes for where the Marquis and Marquessa might be hosting.

Bob, the chartreuse parakeet have been dismissed.

Mia's dark brows lift as the guard offers Cassandra an ear of corn. A moment later, she murmurs to the Legate, "....Why do I suspect that there's going to be a **very large** goat behind that gate?"

As Esme starts to go first, Artur glances over at Sebastian. "I think the drawback to swool is that the goats like it a litle too much." Those few seconds give Esme a chance to get started first as she heads down the line - and then she starts to lose her grip. "Crap." Artur manages, and acts on pure instinct. Leaping onto the line as he sweeps down, as Esme starts to fall, she will find herself suddenly arrested.



Prince Artur's arm goes around Esme's waist, catching the Fidante woman and pulling her close as the other arm holds his grip tightly. "Got ya!" he calls out to her as the pair of them swoop over the mudpit and then land on the other side, Artur setting Esme on the ground. "Are you alright?" he asks her quietly, before nudging. "Come on, we're still in this."

Over the hay bale, Monique does pause to make sure Sebastian has made it as well. But then it's eyes on the prize and she takes up a hook, sliding down and over the mud pit with a shout of glee. "After we finish, I'm doing this again!"

Maru leans in slightly, seeming similarly content to just sit and watch. Get out to just relax somewhere _else_ for a change. Several minutes pass and then he looks to Eshra, and says, "I'm going to go see about getting some cider, I'll get you something too." A moment later, he's rising to his feet.

Adopted? Wait, what? Kedehern's face goes blank there, and then after a moment, he gives a light chuckle as he realizes it's a joke. Hopes it's a joke? "Ah, the seige? Anytime, Lord Wash," he says gladly. "As Lady Shae said, I came up with the reinforcements that helped break the Abandoned beseigers, while Lord Ian rallied the defence from inside." A pause then, and "Bedpans... Well, I suppose any port in a storm," with a bit of a grin there.

Mud?! "Whoever set this up clearly doesn't want us getting out with an unscathed outfit," Sebastian remarks in a vaguely disgruntled undertone to Monique. He picks up one of the hooks, settling it over the rope, clinging tightly as he flies over the mud. His grip slips near the end, and it's a close call, but he manages to land on his feet just shy of the mud-patch by reaching out for Monique's arm to steady himself. "After we do this, I'm drinking," Bas counters to her statement.

Sebastian checked perception + investigation at difficulty 40, rolling 1 lower.

It isn't a joke, but Wash does play it for laughs. "Lady Shae was there as well? Which side were you on my lady? The defense or the reinforcements?" Wash inquires.

Esme checked perception + investigation at difficulty 40, rolling 33 lower.

Monique checked perception + investigation at difficulty 40, rolling 0 higher.

Artur checked perception + investigation at difficulty 40, rolling 9 lower.

Eshra nods, sitting back to allow Maru to rise to his feet. "It wouldn't hurt if there was rum in whatever you plan to get me." she points out with a grin, watching him move off for a bit before glancing again to those around. At one point nodding something of a hello to Wash but not getting up from her seat to interupt his conversations.

Thesarin takes one of the ears of corn with another one of those slow nods of his, and moves with Mia and Cassandra past the gate. He looks toward his wife, and gives another slow shake of his head. "Might be. Something to take its attentions?"

Not expecting such a response from the guard, Cassandra smiles warmly at the guard. "The honor is mine, good sir. I didn't know I'd be here either, but a moment respite for simple fun has been a blessing I needed." She takes the offered corn. "Thank you, sounds like we'll need it." Passing the guard and moving forward, he looks to Mia. "Just...how big of a goat are talking about? Maybe a horse? Or a cow? Something I suspect large enough to block the passage. Though a horse sized goat would be...intimidating."

"I was there too. It was a good siege," Amari confirms as talk of that swirls by her between Kedehern and Wash, "I nearly lost my arm, but Kedehern broke through their ranks to stop the battering ram. Shae helped me off the field after to have my limb reattached." Which probably meant she required a lot of healing balm, and could maybe use some now. She makes a menacing fist of menace at Apollo, but is smiling so it's hardly intimidating. She also doesn't look like anyone that ought to be in the middle of sieges on purpose. "You have cider, don't you?" She asks Baelos, willing to let the lack of warpaint slide, for now.

The gate is opened and the guests are ushered through. Though a shorter section of twists and turns, Team 3 comes face to face with the most terrifying of beasts: A fell pony. It stands about 12 hands high and is a gorgeous specimen of ponyhood. It immediately heads their way, wickering for that corn. There is a sense, that if they had arrived empty handed, things would not be so nice. They can see the wicker idol just over the wall to their right. Now, it's just down to finding the way in.

Thesarin checked perception + investigation at difficulty 15, rolling 10 lower.

Mia checked perception + investigation at difficulty 40, rolling 2 higher.

Cassandra checked perception + investigation at difficulty 40, rolling 9 lower.

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

There was going to be mud, but Esme was saved. Artur really swooped in (literally) and valiantly saved her from ruining her dress. It was so romantic of a gesture and the poor Devotion has lost herself completely in it. His previously soft spoken words and now this? What thing to find? Esme attempts to toss her arms around Artur's neck and if he doesn't evade her (which he easily can) she will kiss him soundly on the lips. Heroes reward right there.

"I hope you got the right limb. I know the Mercies can work miracles, but it only takes one absent-minded servant to end up with two left arms." Wash jokes with Amari. He tosses back the rest of his whiskey at the mention of cider and looks inquisitively around for a second drink. He spies Eshra and looks confused for a moment, as if he doesn't recognize her.

It comes right down to the wire. All three teams are closing in, just hunting for the passage into the center of the maize. The party is audible, the scents of the feast and the clink of glasses is RIGHT THERE. Monique and Mia approach the entrance from opposite directions and Mia just barely gets there first, the door swinging open... into the final barrier.

"I was in a third group, that was stopping the second group of Abandon, it was a large force hiding in the woods that I spotted. They had siege towers and were waiting for us all to attack the main force of them. And use that as distraction to attack the side gate of the College. We took the battle to them in the forest." She shares with a smile to Wash, a glance then to Amari, reaching over to have her hand a squeeze. "Amari did an amazing job out on the field."

Just as Artur was starting to search for his way through, Esme takes him and he finds himself in a liplock with the Devotion. They were supposed to find something. His arms wrap up Esme as he kisses her back soundly for several moments, and then breaks the kiss, his cheeks red enough to highlight his freckles. "..we should finish this." but he really has no thoughts on finishing it.

Catalana listens to them talk about the seige, "It sounds much more complicated than Ian ever let on."

Esme kicks her foot up at that kiss. It's the foot pop! Then she chuckles at something low said to her before she shakes her head and indicates Monique. "She found it, let's go see what's on the other side of it. Her cheeks flush a bit. She lost herself for a moment there.

"Oh!," comes Mia's startled reply as the pony comes right at the three of them. Well, she wasn't quite wrong, was she? But she wasn't quite right, either. "I...," she begins, then takes a step back. A pony trying to push her over to get fed, particularly one as tall as that, is not quite the same as a number of pygmy goats slamming into people's knees. She passes off the corn cob to poor Thesarin to deal with, turning instead to the maze. Hands grazing across the leaves of the corn, she murmurs to Cassandra, "I think we can make it through just here."

The party is in full swing, people mingling, musicians playing and the only thing between all three teams and the party? Bales of hay, a gate, and four Keaton children. All four of the Keaton youngsters are dressed up as scarecrows and each is holding a tiny wooden pitchfork. "AVAST!" This from Aeryn Squall, the tallest of the quartet, brandishing his pitchfork. Kata, the eldest leans over and says, "Pirates say avast, not... whatever we are." Talis, the younger boy peers at the assembled and asks, "Did you see Pickle?" And Brianne, the youngest, hops up and down on her bale of hay and waves her pitchfork violently, "DOOOOOM!"

"Undoubtedly the right choice." Wash agrees. "Siege towers are largely immobile, so sallying was clearly the right choice. Of course, there are risks, even if you make the right choices. I'm glad you have two arms still Lady Amari." He adds to Catalana. "See what I mean about Ian's storytelling? He only ever volunteers information if it will embarass one of his brothers or me."

"You're always drinking," Monique points out to Sebastian with a laugh as she races down the passage. "I can hear it from there! I can hear--" she spies Mia just ahead of her and makes a break for it but it's too late. Mia gets in before Monique and the Minx scowls in between her laughter, "Damn! Well, I suppose that bodes well for our other venture, hm, Countess Riven?" She turns to see if Sebastian managed to follow that mad dash, eyes bright with laughter. But then there's /children/ and Monique dances back towards Sebastian, true terror in her eyes. Body shield.

Seeing the pony, Cassandra nods again in agreement to Mia. "You're the more slighter between the two of us, Countess, you go first. I'll assist your husband with distraction our large friend here." The Legate advises, then doing her best to draw the pony's attention to get it to shift its weight in such a way to allow Mia to squeeze through. "You're a handsome one, aren't you? Well, we can't eat all this corn ourselves."

There are guards back there yonder near the Keaton children, cutting a discreet image. Not only guards however, Kael himself watches the little grouping to ensure that all are well.

"I imagine in the heat of battle, at the center of the seige, it's hard to really get much detail," Kedehern remarks on Ian's behalf, perhaps. Then, more dryly, "I think the biggest risk was Lord Gawain trying to charge the tower and knock it over with his horse." A beat, and "He didn't, of course. But he did find himself riding up the staircase inside of it."

Amari lifts her hands to make sure her thumbs are all the right way after Wash's comment and nods to confirm they're o-kay. It if was someone else's arm, it's a close enough match to pass. "I think I may have clonked someone over the head, at least." She happily downplays her role, "We had a lot of adventures trying to see that college built."

Following after Monique and Sebastian, Artur laughs as they come across the children. "Goodness, aren't you all a threatening lot!" he says with a bright smile as he approaches them. "And what is your challenge to be able to pass?" he asks the children as he gives them a slight bow. "My lords and ladies."

Thesarin hands off the corn to the big beast, giving it another one of his nods and a low rumble as the pony chews down. "Ey there, beastie..." He lets it at the ear, and when Mia's found their way through, he moves to follow, just reaching one hand out to give its shoulder a brush. He steps through the maze, and the sight of the guardians gets a raise of his eyebrows. "Well, now. Seems the way's guarded. What's it to be--we wailaid or robbed?"

Sebastian follows in Monique's wake as she finds and leads the way through. "Well, there's something to be said for--" but he never finishes, because he enters behind the others and spots the final challenge. The most frightening obstacle of them all: children! "YARRR!" he retorts, pulling out an 'imaginary' sword, stepping in front of Monique with the intention of challenging the pitchfork-wielding Aeryn Squall.

Maru makes his way across the floor to wherever they're pouring cider. He gets himself a mug, and a mug of hot cider, with rum. He then turns and finds his way slowly back toward their table, only pausing a few times to listen to conversations. Finally, he sets both drinks down on the table before retaking his seat. "Just like you asked," he says to Eshra. "Something with rum in it."

Esme gasps in /mock/ horror with those flashing green eyes of hers. She happens to love children. "Oh! Not Doom!" She flutters her lashes at the children. "What must we do to get across? I mean.. I'm sure if we said please because that's full of honor and respect, you would let us pass?" Kid negotiation. Probably won't work.

Eshra smiles a little at Wash's confused look but doesn't get up to come over and explain. Which is probably good because as pregnant as the woman is, it would have probably taken all evening for her to find her feet. Instead her gaze slides back to the party, eyes searching out where Maru might have gotten off to before she winces again, this time a little sharper, taking a few moments before her breath is released again and she shifts to find a comfortable postion to sit as Maru returns and hands her the drink. "Thank you love.

Apollo, pausing on his way to the hall, catches sight of Bhandn; a smile creeps over his face, full of mischief, and he approaches. "Sir Bhandn," he says. "I was just going for some cider. If you'd like, I can spill it on you and have that out of the way." He's grinning, of course.

There's a sudden, unexpected laugh that comes from Mia at the sigh of the Keaton children -- or rather, at Monique ducking behind Sebastian at the sight of them. "If you'd like to play pirates, Lord Aeryn, we'll have to fetch Rohan from back at Heron Hall. If it's just robbery you mean to do, well. You'll quite likely find some candies hidden in the Count's coinpurse." Did she... did she just shamelessly throw her husband into the clutches of a pack of children with a mind towards violent games? It seems so. Vicious creature, the Riven woman.

Apollo's comment to the Knight of Solace has Sir Bhandn giving him a /look/. Not an angry or threatening one, exactly, but it is definitely in 'you better not' territory. "You do, and we'll find out how well you can wash laundry," he says to the tanner with a direct stare, but there's a small uptilt of his lips at the edges that doesn't really dispel the level tone he gives.

There is touch of a chuckle from Shae, "Lord Gwain did ride up those stairs, it was pretty amazing and hilarious, and thankful neither he nor his horse where injured in doing so." Shae reports happily. A glance to Amari, "That we have. Though I think the last little adventure there was perhaps the funniest one we have had yet." She comments to Amari. "Though I think Kedehern is glad to not ever have to deal with that again." A long pause there and the wind looks like it has been suddenly knocked out of her, leaning into Kedehern some. Looking utterly exhausted.

Jan has joined the a wooden 'Kissing Arch' at the start of the garden path.

Aeryn Squall looks among those present, seeming to assess them all in the enigmatic way only four year old's can. He points his pitchfork at each in turn, pausing as he gets to Thesarin, his eyes widen. "You have markings! I saw someone like that once!" He realizes he's broken character. Kata giggles and blushes, and Talis is like, "Who saw Pickle? If you saw Pickle, then you win!" Aeryn looks to his little brother and is about to argue and then he sighs. "Alright. If you saw Pickle and can describe Pickle, then you can get something out of the chest. BUT! Only one thing! And for the rest of you... Whoever can... bounce on one foot the longest -- Nawwww, umm...." He closes his eyes and starts to spin in a circle, counting...

Wash looks around for his wife and Jan, but assessing that neither is in need of attention he remains where he is and drinks cider with the Keatons and their guests.

Artur checked luck at difficulty 15, rolling 10 higher.

Sebastian checked luck at difficulty 15, rolling 12 higher.

Thesarin checked luck at difficulty 15, rolling 1 lower.

Monique checked luck at difficulty 15, rolling 1 higher.

Cassandra checked luck at difficulty 15, rolling 0 higher.

Mia checked luck at difficulty 15, rolling 6 lower.

Esme checked luck at difficulty 15, rolling 8 lower.

Apollo laughs amiably, clapping the knight on the shoulder. "It washes easy," he says, and pulls at the top under his fancy brocade coat. "I put my clothes through their paces, believe me. And the aeterna doesn't stain. You can live your life." A stage whisper follows, behind a cupped hand: "Even the /peerage/ spill wine sometimes." Gasp. Faint. How dare he.

At the mention of 'the last little adventure', Kedehern can't help but give a semi-exasperated sigh. "I can't believe we were called down there on account of a bloody cow," he mutters under his breath, shaking his head at the memory. A more light hearted sigh then to follow, and "I suppose in hindsight it -is- rather amusing... I tell you, the boy was the smartest of the lot of them." As Shae leans into him, he lets an arm wrap gently around her. "Mmmm... The illness catching up to you, dear?" he asks, sympathetically.

Mal, a devious raccoon have been dismissed.

Daegmund, an Oakhaven Shepherd have been dismissed.

Sebastian looks /genuinely disappointed/ his piratey challenge isn't taken up. He 'sheathes' his imaginary sword, and glances over his shoulder where Monique is hiding. "Pickle?" he echoes, with a shrug of shoulders.

The little Keaton heir comes to a stop and his pitchfork is pointing to Sebastian, "You annnnnd," Brianne rolls off her haybale and charges forward, her pitchfork tapping Esme on the knee. "YOU!" Talis looks around, "Who can tell me about PICKLE!?"

"Pickle the big pony we came across at the maze?" Thesarin raises his eyebrows slightly at the child's challenge. "The one likes corn?"

"Pickle.. isn't that Lady Amari's pony?" Artur asks, remembering his previous encounter with her.

Catalana comes over and admits to Wash, "I'm going to head home for a rest." She gives his cheek a brief peck and then makes her apologies to the hosts before moving away.

Esme looks at Brianne and gasps wrapping her hand about her knee, but she's not really hurt. "Me what? Am I to walk a plank? Be pitchforked? What is to happen to me?" She looks fearful but her eyes are glittering with happiness and warmth. "I.. Pickle?" She looks over at Artur for a moment as he seems to know what they are talking about. "Pickle, the pony?" Oh that's adorable and her face reads that.

"You saw Pickle!" Talis cheers, and grins, "He saw Pickle, Aeryn!" Aeryn nods, "He picks first, then mine, then Bri's pick." Aeryn looks back to Sebastian and says, "I like you. You like to play. Plus, Pokey picked you, so."

Wash gives her a nod. "Take the barouche." He encourages. "I'll make my own way home."

"I'm not worried about the /aeterna/," the deep-voiced knight replies to Apollo, "but you get this coat dirty I'm going to find a way to have you scrubbing pans for the Mercies." There's still a little smile playing about Bhandn's mouth, but those grey eyes maintain that stare.

A nod to Kedehern, sighing tiredly, "Yes, I'm afraid so." A touch of a frown there.

Maru glances aside toward Eshra, a brief moment of concern on his face, and then he grabs his mug of cider and brings it up for a swig. "Mm," he says with an appreciative nod. "I do love apple season," he says with a chuckle and a smirk. "There's such joy in cider." Then he leans in a little closer to murmur something quietly to his wife.

Brianne squints up at Esme and tilts her head to the side. She then raspberries up at Esme and turns, "MOMMA?! WHERE?!" And she's off, hunting for Reigna. The guards bring in the Harvest Prize Chest, guesturing for Thesarin to pick first, then Sebastian, then Esme. The gate is opened and the maize is complete! Party on!

Catalana nods at Wash and casts him a smile. "Have fun. Make good choices." There's a heavy doubt in her voice at the last statement, but she's gone before Wash can reply.

2 Kennex corsairs, Jane leave, following Catalana.

Jan has left the a wooden 'Kissing Arch' at the start of the garden path.

Monique is still behind Sebastian, but she's casting about for alcohol too, as she watches the proceedings and carefully keeps an eye on the Keaton children underfoot. She leans in to give the Pravus a tight squeeze from behind, murmuring something as she does.

"Oh, Sheila! She's a fine cow. Very handsome." Amari nods, but her laughter is soft and brief as she notes Shae's flagging. "Let's all find somewhere to sit, or sneak through to the end? They must be through the maze by now." Not that she can tell, even pausing a moment to listen for cries of victory from within.

Sebastian seems a little more uncertain as he's 'pointed out', as if not sure if that's a good thing or not. "Sure... uh, Pokey," he says, like he's playing along, even though he's clear he has no idea who or what that is. Monique's murmur earns a glance over his shoulder, wry: "Definitely," he agrees wholeheartedly.

Up go substantial brows, and Apollo laughs. "The coat belong to the Mercies?" he asks. He glances back over his shoulder, then gives a chin. "Well, if you want to keep it clean, best not go in the maze. Just - a hunch. And I really /am/ going to go get some cider. Fair warning." Mischief! MISCHIEF. He starts to turn to head inside.

Wash says, "So what is the history of the wicker burning man?" Wash asks. "And how do you keep it from getting out of control?""

Reigna takes stygian ring with diamond studded band and dawnstone from Harvest Festival Prize Chest.

Kedehern gives Shae a nod, and turns to Amari and the others. "The offer is much appreciated, but I think for now it might be best if we take our leave. Today's been a more trying one than usual," the Laurent explains, knowing Amari would understand what with the... Recent affliction.

"Pickle is the pony's name? Oh, I would've never guessed." Cassanda says with a light chuckle. Upon the realization that they've won, the Legate looks a bit surprised. She gives a little clap for Thesarin. "Congratulations, Count Riven." she says, watching on.

Thesarin is overheard praising Keaton.

Thesarin is overheard praising Reigna.

Mal, a devious raccoon have been dismissed.

Daegmund, an Oakhaven Shepherd have been dismissed.

Reigna takes your pick of the Keaton Bloodhound litter from Harvest Festival Prize Chest.

Thesarin is overheard praising Amari.

Esme is overheard praising Reigna.

Thesarin is overheard praising Kael.

Thesarin is overheard praising Cassandra.

Esme is overheard praising Kael.

Reigna takes a Keaton goat of your very own from Harvest Festival Prize Chest.

Zara is overheard praising Kael.

Zara is overheard praising Reigna.

Esme is overheard praising Artur: He was a complete hero!

Zara is overheard praising Keaton.

Reigna takes a Keaton goat of your very own from Harvest Festival Prize Chest.

"I'm already late as it is, I doubt I'd make it through the maze unscathed if everyone is occupied. Are the Marquis and his wife in there?" Still Bhandn talking with Apollo, finally taking his eyes away to regard the Maize. "Today was busy," he adds dryly.

Cassandra is overheard praising Reigna: For hosting a surprisingly fun autumn party. I haven't enjoyed myself like this in some time. My thanks.

It is Kata that moves over to Artur and gives him a curtsy, "Uhm... I didn't give my prize away, but um... I think you should have it." And with that, she runs away.

Esme looks at Sebastien when he picks the dog. She points to her eyes and then his eyes. She tries to look fierce. She fails. Then she spins around to look at Artur. "Look! I got a goat!" She brightens to that and everything about her is radiant. "I have a kid." Then she laughs a bit more and wraps an arm through his good naturedly. She looks at Kata and her eyes soften.

Mia shakes her head slowly, a hint of amusement toying at her expression, as she says to her husband, "Kelleth will never forgive you if he finds out he could've had yet another dog traipsing around the hall, my lord. Though with any more of them about, I suspect that coming downstairs in the morning for your breakfast would be a sharp reminder of what it was like for you to try and navigate all of those goats."

Smiling at Kata, Artur starts to shake his head, but when she presents him with the goat, the Prince softens and kneels down. "Thank you, my little lady. I'll take good care of it." he promises, giving her a bow of his head as he rises, and turns to Esme. "We both have goats, it seems." he tells her with a laugh. "Congratulations, we have kids?" he asks her teasingly.

"I think so," Apollo says, uncertain. "I heard the Marquessa's voice, I think." He gives him a wave and a chin over that way, then slinks off inside.

Siri, an attentive apprentice, 1 Novice Keaton Huntsmen leave, following Apollo.

Having already fetched a glass of whisky and a glass of wine, Monique takes a sip of both before presenting Sebastian with the glass of wine. "You'll need it. Do I get to name your puppy?" the Minx asks him with a devious smile.

Sebastian reaches in and selects a paper, tucking it away. He's aware of Esme's not-really-threat, and gives her a wry smile: "Oh, the goat will keep you on your toes, I'm sure, my lady." He might've peeked at the other notes while he was making his own selection. Monique is giving a brilliant smile. "Oh, yes, you should definitely name it. I needed a new dog: I sent Argent over to stay with Jules."

"The history of burning the wicker man is shrouded in secrecy, or maybe lost in time... or Reigna thought it would be fun." Amari replies in a suitably mysterious tone to Wash, as Shae and Kedehern make their way out. She waves after them, then turns to the remaining Kennex.

"Lovely." Thesarin rumbles out with a nod, looking at the ring in his hand. And he gives a sharp nod toward Talin. "My thanks, to you and to Keaton,." He looks toward Cassandra, then, with... is that a smile? No, obviously nod. That'd be ridiculous. "...with respect, Legate, ain't many who ain't had children would. I've had enough to know that's just the sort o' name they'd give a beast like that." He gives another one of those shakes of his head and looks toward Mia with a nod. "Two's enough, how I reckon it. Any more they'll start taking the run of the place."

Eshra sips her drink, clapping for those that win, a hand settled onto Maru's arm with a small nod to his whispered question.. that ends with a small gasp, as her eyes widened and she looks down at her belly. "I think we may need to leave, Maru."

Esme smiles as her arm is tucked in poor Artur's. She looks about ready to stick her tongue out at Sebastian but laughs instead. "I only ask that you invite me to dinner so that I might visit with what I may have had.." She sighs dramatically, but is already smiling. ".. that was ripped away and my heart with it." She pauses. "I mean the dog." Then she nods to Artur a bit. "If duty calls, I can leave with you, first we should say good-bye to the hosts."

Amari is overheard praising Reigna.

Monique is lost in thought and sipping her whisky contemplatively for several long moments as she thinks of names for Sebastian's new puppy. "I think I need to get drunk first," she informs the Pravus with a laugh. "Or I might end up calling it 'Unfinished'." She lifts her glass to his in salute. "Thank you for being the best partner, yet again."

There's a nod of agreement for the Count. Two dogs and four children is indeed a large enough pack to having roaming their halls. "Should you like to join us for the food and the fire as well, Mother Cassandra?," she asks, even as she slips her hand back into the crook of Thesarin's elbow. "We should quite enjoy the company, but would not want to monopolize your time this evening and keep you from the other guests."

Reigna is overheard praising Artur: Such an aMAIZing save!

Mia is overheard praising Amari.

Reigna is overheard praising Amari.

Mia is overheard praising Kael.

Mia is overheard praising Reigna.

Reigna is overheard praising Kael.

Mia is overheard praising Cassandra.

Nodding to Esme, Artur leads her over to where Reigna and Kael are. "Your children are wonderful, my lord and lady." he offers to the pair with a smile. "Thank you for the wonderful evening and event, but we are going to retire for the evening."

Amari is overheard praising Norwood.

Amari is overheard praising Kael.

Maru also sips at his drink an applauds the competitors as they arrive to the party. But when Eshra suggests they may need to leave, he glances aside, arches his eyebrows, and then nods. He gulps down the rest of his cider and then rises from the table, offering his hand out to Eshra. "I'll send Timbo ahead to get a carriage. There's no way you're walking all the way to the harbor," he says.

"As you wish, my lady." Sebastian gives a half-bow to Esme. "Come and find me at the Pravus Manor. Lord Sebastian," he tells her, with a wry smile. "It might even have a name by then," he adds, with a rueful look to Monique. "Because drunken naming always works well... the things you pull me into, Minx," he half-chastizes her, not in any way seriously.

Mia is overheard praising Michael.

And speaking of the wicker man... Reigna moves over to the base of the twenty foot tall sculpture, which it should be noted, is at the center of this large space and well away from any flammable things, and she takes up a torch, reaching for Kael's hand with her other and leads in a song of prayer. The prayer gives thanks for the bounty of the lands, the food they have, the supplies they are able to harvest. The animals that provide meat and leather, bone and more. It goes on to sing thanks to Lagmoa, for the changing of the seasons, the pulse of the world around them all. Once the prayer is done, the torch is set to the wicker and the bonfire is lit, just as twilight begins in earnest.

Reigna is overheard praising Juniper.

"I suspect those people, including yourself, are richer for it, Count." Cassandra replies to Thearin, returning the nod. "Though now it makes me consider the name I gave my own pony when I was that age. Sandy, I think. Because she was..." she smiles a little. "Sand colored. Creative, that." That expression slides to Mia, inclining her head. "Thank you, I think I might. And there's no monopoly on my time. To be truthful, I have not had a day off in far too longer. Longer than I care to admit to."

3 Armed Confessors, 2 House Velenosa Guards, Thomas the Faithful, the Silver Honey Badger, Keaton's Faithful Stalker, an adult bloodhound arrive, following Alistair.

When Artur approaches them and offers forth that compliment concerning the children, Kael absolutely swells. Broad shouldered, chest inflation, and a proud father grin to go along with it. "Thank you," he says, "they rather exceptional." The normally humble Marquis, well, he is not going to be humble for that one particular point: his children. Still, he bows, and he offers forth thereafter, "Thank you for joining us."

As the wicker man goes up, Wash forges through the maze to get a closer look at it, maybe warm his fingers a bit.

"I could name it Gisel," Monique says to Sebastian with a dark smile. "And what was the other one's name? Some sort of mash up?" But she falls silent of names and jests when the wicker man goes up in flames, the dancing fire reflected brightly upon her crimson hair and bright green eyes.

Esme smiles towards Kael and Reigna. "Delightful, everything about it." She looks like she might hug them, but stops herself at the last minute. It could be because she has an arm on Artur's. "Thank you. I do hope that we have time to meet again. It's all.. delightful." It's her word of the day right now. Delightful.

Cassandra is overheard praising Mia: The team that works together, wins together. Even if it's against pygmy goats.

"With the Compact having been at war so many times, so very often, these last few years? I can hardly consider that a surprise," Mia murmurs, a note of lament in her voice. But then her lips press into a thin line for a moment, and a moment more, before she adds her voice to the Keaton's song. She sings softly, and rarely, but with a surprisingly clear voice -- one better suited to gentle songs than most might suspect.

The Inquisition arrives, though thankfully not to drag anyone off, or to ask uncomfortable and probing questions. The High Inquisitor appears on the Keaton grounds with one who might be familiar to these lands. The now grown bloodhound follows at his master's wake, sniffing at the familiar air of where he was raised and trainer, ears perking up in slight recognition.

Eshra nods, not finishing her drink, isnrtead hands it to Maru before she tries to get to her feet as the wicker man blazes to life and her eyes lift, pausing a moment. "We should say our good byes to Kae.." then again she winces catching her breath and shakes her head to the sound of ringing bells. "Or maybe not.. I am sure they will understand."

Cassandra is overheard praising Thesarin: I highly recommend pairing with the Rivens if you want to win out in corn maze competitions.

After they make their farewells, Artur turns to lead Esme away from the party, the two of them a pair of flames that have escaped from the wicker man to find their way intio the darkness and burn out together.

There's a definite, sharp look from Sebastian at Monique's comment, turned moments later into an effortless smile. He must know better than to buck against the idea, because he, too, turns to admire the fire as it goes up. After a moment, he murmurs something to Monique.

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

Happiness, a bluebird, Artur leave, following Esme.

Bhandn, too, goes with the wicker man's ignition as a guide, but in truth he needs help from the Keaton's servers. He missed the festivities after all, but despite that he isn't sulking /too/ much. Disappointed, really, but he'll still be seeking out the hosts to offer courtesies.

Maru lifts the drink to his lips for a sip, and then a gulp. It's cooled off enough, he finishes it before setting it down. Glancing over toward the hosts and then back to Eshra. "Yes, I'm sure they will," he agrees, then starts to lead her back out of the maze, something much easier to do now that the competition is over.

Amari finds a cup of cider is pulled towards the maze when she spies the first flickerings of the wicker man being lit. Never one to miss a good fire, she heads over to watch, having lost most of her companions somewhere along the way. At least she still has Barf. He plunks down next to her and she absently plays with his closest ear and scritches. There is a head count taken, as if she was concerned that not everyone that went in, made their way to the end of the maze, but she seems satisfied that nobody has been left in the spiderwebs or at the mercy of pygmy goats.

2 Rivenshari Clansman, Timbo, agile and cheeky rivenshari youth, Apria, Starling of the jeweled wings leave, following Eshra.

Surprise, an incredibly fluffy blue seal point kitten, 1 Rivenshari Clansman, Eshra leave, following Maru.

Thesarin doesn't subject the partygoers to his singing voice, even in a song of prayer. He stands with his wife, in silence, and waits for the song to finish and the music to reach its end. He does say to Cassandra, in a low voice, "...best thing I've done in my time." Once the song is over and the wicker is aflame, he seeks out the attentions of the Keaton child who'd commented on his tattoos. "So, child. Where'd you see someone with Marks like mine?"

With a last grin to Monique, Sebastian slips away in the crowd.

Julep, the cuddle Hedgehog , 2 Pravosi Honor Guard leave, following Sebastian.

It is Aeryn, who is spinning his pitchfork idly, that looks up when he is questioned by Thesarin. He straightens his shoulders, his little seatouched wool tunic looking smart and he offers the man an only slightly clumsy bow. "My lord, hi!" He pauses, much like his mother before she speaks, though he is the spitting image of Kael and then he says, "It was a long time ago. She lived here for a while. She had a shaved head with marks on her skin. Not 'xactly like yours, but."

As Sebastian slips away to refill drinks, Monique remains by the fire, mesmerized with the massive shooting up of the flames.

Reigna is hanging on Kael's side, a satisfied look on her face as she surveys the party. "I think people had fun. Amari... this was SUCH a good idea."

Wash is overheard praising Amari: A creative hostess and genial to match.

"Ahhhh," Mia says, nodding solemnly in reply to the little Lord Aeryn's description. "I believe you knew her as Goodwoman Paige, before she became Countess Stahlben." The late Countess Stahlben, actually, which a look from the very corners of her eyes might convey to her husband, but hopefully not to the Keaton boy. "I knew her, too, years ago. Your mother introduced us once."

Wash gives a final smile to Amari. "Thank you for making us feel so welcome Lady Keaton. I've enjoyed the alcohol too."

Kael's arm slides around his wife's middle, a bow of his head to press a kiss to her temple in an easy sort of way. "They did," he murmurs, his voice pitched low and meant only to convey assurance to her. Now, that being said, he whispers a little something in her ear a moment later before sending another glance toward the children. Big event, lots of folks in attendance, of course the children need an eye kept on them.

"Yeah! Paige." Aeryn nods, and looks up at Mia with a smile. "Hi my lady. Can you tell Rohan I said hi? He is fun. I like him." Mia gets a nod of approval from the little Keaton heir, clearly of approval.

"I'm happy you were able to attend, Lord Wash. Give my best to the Marquessa," Amari lifts her cup to Wash and smiles, "Take some cider with you, if you haven't already a bottle tucked away."

"You -have- met me." Wash says brightly. "Can I take a second?"

Wash gets fresh pressed soft cider from cooled cider chest - take one.

Alistair keeps his distance, catching the tail end of the festivities as the fire consumers the wickerman. By now he has given permission to the Keaton bloodhound at his side to go about running with wild abandon about the Keaton grounds as the dog relives old memories and glories.

Jan gets fresh pressed soft cider from cooled cider chest - take one.

"Naturally. One bottle alone won't be sufficient." Amari encourages with a grin.

"I think I need one for the road too." Jan grabs a bottle from the chest. "Great event."

The music, food and drinks last well into the night. The wicker idol continues to burn, plenty of guards on hard to ensure it does not get out of control. The night air grows chilly, but the bonfire helps keep that at bay as the Keaton hospitality seems to have no end in sight.



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