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Fish Tails at Muse of Mourning

Some say there are none like the Mourning Islanders for telling 'Fish Tails' or tall tales about their grand adventures at sea. Some of these are entirely true stories! Others may have /slight/ embellishments here or there, like perhaps the shark wasn't quite that big, or the dangerous storm was more like a drizzle, or the breathtakingly beautiful princess was a fairly pretty third daughter of a Baron. The best storytellers convince us of every word, and House Grimhall hosts this event to find out who tells the grandest tales of adventure in Arvum. The winner will be voted by the crowd, with the prize of having their story immortalized forever on canvas by Karina Seabright, the talented artist who owns the Muse of Mourning.

Date

Sept. 28, 2019, 5:05 p.m.

Hosted By

Karina Vanora

Participants

Bree Artur Mabelle Hickson Sanya Sorrel Amari Jeffeth Ailys Rosalind Sina Valdemar Ras Korka Caspian Willow Iseulet Merek

Organizations

Grimhall

Location

Arx - Ward of the Compact - Muse of Mourning - Shopfront

Largesse Level

Grand

Comments and Log


The room bears an air of invitation, drawing guests to seats in its center. A layer of sheer curtains on the windows faintly filters moonlight without completely obscuring it, and candles are laid out around the room to contribute to the intimate lighting befitting tales of wonder and mystique. A light hangs over the gallery on the far wall, ensuring the works can be enjoyed despite the thematic dimness afflicting the rest of the studio.

"Too slow!" Bree exclaims, having already slipped into the shop for the event and stood there waiting... and waiting for Jeffeth to join. He's a few moments behind her, and she wears a bright grin at her lips as she beams up at him. "I lost you on the road. Took advantage of the crowd," she explains before turning and spotting a lovely couch to call home for the duration. "Come on. I see a good spot!" she wraps long fingers around his bicep (well, not exactly around, considering how big the man is, but that's neither here nor there), and tugs him toward a couch.

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

Already having arrived earlier to watch the final set up, Artur had already claimed a spot on the couch, when his valet arrives with a few bottles of spirits. "You grabbed the duplicates, correct?" There's a nod, and he accepts the bottles, to set them down. "To help with your stories, Mistress." he gives Karina a wink. Not because he's drowning, though! Instead as he settles back, he rises for a moment to greet the two joining him. "Sir Jeffeth, good evening.." there's a glance to Bree. "Have we met yet?"

Mabelle travels into the gallery with limited entourage, carrying a tasty looking warm apple pie, courtsey of Laurent kitchens. She finds a place for it on one of the tables and scans the place, awe struck. She smiles to the host, Karina and greets her, "Good afternoon, such a lovely and inviting place you have here. I am Lady Mabelle Laurent, well met"

Mabelle drops scrumptious red and green apple pie.

Karina positions herself to greet those arriving, near the door but out of their path. "Welcome, welcome, everyone! Come find a seat, make yourselves comfortable!" She points to a stool set up beside the couches. "Anyone with a story to tell is free to step up and dazzle us with the best they've got!" Focusing on Mabelle, and a little on that tasty pie, she grins. "Lady Mabelle, it's a pleasure! I'm Karina Seabright. Thank you-" A glance back at Artur, "Both of you!"

With Jeffeth tugged over, Bree's hand falls away to make a fist and come to her chest in greeting to Artur. "I do not believe so," she smiles brightly at him, her blue eyes sparkling with delight at either the new introduction or the event. "Dame Bree Harthall, Knight of Solace." And then she's slipping by to claim a seat against the cushions, eagerly awaiting story time.

Mabelle has joined the a walnut wooden table stained a red-brown.

Hickson arrives in the Muse of Morning, with dark circles under his eyes. Two equally weary looking guardsmen arrive in his wake. He smiles when he enters the candle lit studio though, and he comes to stand near the western wall, as he watches Karina greet her guests.

"A pleasure, Dame Harthall. I am Prince Artur Redrain. Looking forward to working with the Knights once we have everything set up." the Prince offers with a smile. As he waits for everyone to start with stories, he considers. "Did you have an order set yet, Karina? If not, I could start?" he asks.

Artur has joined the line.

"Oh, Karina." Sanya enters the Muse of Mourning, grinning as she glances around. "This all looks so wonderful." She approaches one of the couches, taking a seat beside Mabelle before murmuring to her.

2 Grayson House Guards, Max, an emperor tamarin, Rosalee, The Champion arrive, following Ailys.

Sorrel drifts in quietly with her usual entourage to have a look around. She seems to be in a fairly good mood, all smiles, though she hangs back a little to see all that is going on.

Mabelle wiggles her fingers afar to Hickson and smiles to Artur, "Cousin! I cannot wait to hear your -fish- tale", she gives him a wink and steals the introduction to Bree, "Well met Dame". Sanya's whisper catches her attention interestedly, "Really?"

Karina claps her hands together. "Ah, not as such, Your Highness. You have the honor of being our first!" Eyeing those gathered in challenge. "And certainly not our only, I trust? When all have shared their stories, we'll cast a vote for whose was liked best. That story will be committed to canvas by myself. And remember! The theme is /tall/ tales." Karina beams at Sanya as she enters, a light touch on her shoulder in warm greeting. "Sanya, welcome! It's so good to see you!"

Amari is actually held up somewhat by her entourage, as arrangements are made outside and an attempt is made to keep her dogs with her Huntsmen. It would have worked fine, but Barf is not having that. He's not going to be pawned off on someone else and miss an event, he's a social creature, maybe. Or it could just be he wants to follow Amari around, so as she enters, he's in shortly after her, a leash trailing on the ground behind him. She gives him a /look/, scoops up the end of the leash and rolls with it. "Fine." She tells him, with a warning tone, then has a look about. "Hello." Is her simple greeting as she hunts for a comfortable place to sit where her giantnormous dog isn't going to be in the way.

"Your highness," Bree offers the title with a dip of her head. At his mention of working together, a brow arches in question - but he's already volunteering to tell a story, and she does not wish to delay him. Instead she turns to smile at Mabelle, waving her hand in hello.

Dragged,pulled, pushed by Bree. Jeffeth is chewing on something. Looking over to Bree over a mouthful of something. "I stopped. There was a guy selling... I don't know what they were. Pork something. But they were delicious." Jeffeth rumbles happily before his eyes turn to Artur, he goes into a deep bow to the man, pressing his fist to his chest. "Your Highness." There's a bright smile over to Karina, a quick wave before he bows as well. And then he's bowing to the entrance of Sorrel. Making his way to the couch, he goes to plop down on it with a contented sigh.

Ailys is late, but not TOO late. The Grayson Princess has heard of a gathering of storytelling, and who doesn't love to listen to some stories? It's bound to be interesting! So Ailys steps in and pauses briefly to look around, considering the current gathering of people. And the art. Art is noted, mental notes inevitably taken.

Anya, the cool as an ice cube Champion apprentice, Renn, the mousy, scholarly brunette arrive, following Caspian.

Karina offers Jeffeth a smile from afar, then makes for Sorrel with a bounce of her brows, gesturing toward the couches with subtlety. She speaks quietly, "Did you wish to join us, Your Highness, or shall I fetch your painting?"

Connal, a Northern Wolfhound arrives, following Rosalind.

From across the room, Hickson bows to Mabelle. Turning to the guardsmen beside him, he says, "Feel free to take a break. We'll resume in a few hours. Meet in front of the Ebb and Flow?"



"Aye, Investigator," comes the reply, and the pair being to argue whose turn it is to buy rum as they make their way out of the shop. Hickson makes over to Karina and says, "Your gallery is amazing." He smiles and finds his way over to a chair by the table not far from Mabelle.

2 Iron Guardsmen have been dismissed.

Hickson has joined the a walnut wooden table stained a red-brown.

"Maybe they haven't had enough to drink yet." Though Artur gives his cousin a wink as he moves to rise to his feet. "My story tonight is of the Bard of Aleshire." he says as he clears his throat, takes a sip of wine and prepares himself.



"Aleshire is a small village near Farhaven. In this village, there was a young man. He was quite the energteic young man, that would while away his days with stories and song. Oh, he loved to sing, and dance and entertain. And many thought that he would go to the Bard's College, and become quite the star - spreading the tales of Redrain far and wide."



"At night, it was assumed that the young man was in the arms with some lovely lady, or plotting the tales of his next story, or writing his next song." he explains. "But Aleshire had a problem. There was a thief in town - that was stealing from the town mayor and the higher ranked officials. Silver, expensive items, all of it was being taken by an unknown person or persons." he takes a pause here for a moment to let everyone catch up on his story, before continuing.

Sebastian, an adorable gray and white tabby, Jacinthe, Arindais, a dour-looking Scholar, 3 Templar Knight guards arrive, following Sina.

Caspian has joined the a walnut wooden table stained a red-brown.

Seryna, a charming Lycene handmaiden, 6 Grimhall House Guards arrive, following Vanora.

Sanya has joined the a walnut wooden table stained a red-brown.

Karina makes a silent note of Hickson's appearance, head tilted and eyes thoughtful. "Thank you, Mr. Gales!" As guests settle in, she turns her attention on the gathering with a satisfied look in her eyes and affords Artur her full attention as his story takes shape.

Returning Mabelle's murmur with one of her own, Sanya then fixes her attention on Artur, keen on hearing the story.

Mabelle perches her chin on her palm, greeting those who entering with silent nods as she focuses on her cousin Artur's tale.

Rosalind slowly lowers the hood of her cloak, the feathers distracting. More so is the red hair underneath it. Her hazel eyes appear curious as steps further in, listening in on what appears to be a story.

Karina quietly greets Rosalind by the door. "Good evening and welcome. Please come in, find a seat. We've just begun!"

Hickson smiles at something Mabelle says and nods to her, offering a wave to Caspian as he sits down. When Artur mentions the thief, Hickson says in a low voice, "Ah, I hope this story should feature a skilled investigator who takes down the thief and helps good Aleshire on his way to stardom."

Sina makes her way to the Muse, draped in a cloak lined with fox fur over her aeterna robes and leathers. The Archscholar is quiet and thoughtful, her Templars staying close as she lingers standing for now. She gives an inclination of the head to Karina as she appears to be the hostess, then turns the focus of her mercurial gaze to Artur, who appears to be about to speak.

That voice. Ailys knows that voice. Artur begins telling his story, and her attention immediately shifts and focuses on him. Her brows rise curiously and her hands loosely clasp in front of her, her gaze focusing on him for the time being.

"And then one night, there was a scream from a merchant's house. The thief had struck again!" Artur's eyes take in the crowd, and as they land of Ailys, he gives the Princess a smile. "They chased the thief through the streets of Aleshire, and when they finally caught up to him - to everyone's surprise, it turned out that their town's hope - the young man with the golden voice, had turned to a life of crime. He was the one that had been breaking into the homes and stealing their silver and valuables."



Taking a sip from his wine, Artur continues. "The next day, the young man was dragged before the court in Aleshire. As he faced the Mayor and the Lady of the land, the charges were read, and the Lady frowned. 'These are serious allegations against you, young man'. she said to the thief. 'But I have been told of your voice and song, and I will give you a chance. Return everything you have stolen, and I will make sure you go to the Bard's College to be trained.' she offered to him, generously so!"



There's a playful gleam that comes to Artur's eyes as he continues, "The Mayor looked at him seriously and said 'Boy, you have a choice. You can be a bard. Or you can be a criminal. Which will it be?'"



"The young man was in fear for a moment, and then after a few moments of thought, straightened up, looked at the Lady and the Mayor and stated..."





"....I need to think on the Prose and Cons of it."



With a flourish and a bow, Artur goes to return to his seat.

5 Grimhall House Guards, Gustav, a gruff Islander advisor arrive, following Valdemar.

The Duchess Vanora has surely been here the entire time, offering quiet support to her new protege while encouraging her to introduce the event and begin the contest on her own. She sits among the couches dressed in aeterna trimmed in fiery silk, a diadem of dragonweep resting atop reddish-gold waves arranged in braids. "Oh, wonderful!" She applauds Artur's story with clear enjoyment.

Sorrel cannot help but roll her eyes at the pun, though she's grinning good-naturedly about it. She shakes her head slightly, perhaps considering whether she should tell a story herself or not.

Rosalind looks around for somewhere to sit and spots some couches. That looks hood enough as she heads over in that direction,"Thank you!,"she pleasantly says to Karina.

Karina listens along, leaning against a beam with arms folded and eyes fixated with imaginative light. She cracks a broad smile at the bard's retort, shaking her head.

Vanora has joined the Ivory rose embroidered couches.

Rosalind has joined the Ivory rose embroidered couches.

Sorrel has joined the line.

The Prose and... Ailys lifts one hand to rub at her forehead, squeezing her eyes shut as she looks almost pained. That was terrible. She chuckles quietly and shakes her head, dropping her hand back to her side and grinning at him.

Mabelle blinks entertainedly at Artur, and then she laughs, "Well that is a very interesting way to finish a story, cousin!". Her eyes settle on Vanora and Valdemar as they enter, "Duchess Grimhall, Duke Grimhall, it is a boon to see you this afternoon", she smiles to them and offers smiles to those who enter she doesnt recognize.

Sina lifts her hand, and gives a little chuckle behind it as she hears the end of Artur's tale. She dips her head to Rosalind in passing, and gives a smile toward Sorrel as well as Vanora. Then she finally moves to find a seat as well, settling in to listen to what other stories may be told. She chooses the table where some familiar faces are found, and sits, Templars at her back to observe the room, and the doorway.

Sina has joined the a walnut wooden table stained a red-brown.

Caspian has joined the line.

Turn in line: Artur

Turn in line: Sorrel

Ailys has joined the Ivory rose embroidered couches.

Amari stares at Artur. Barf also stares at Artur. Both look somehow troubled. She eventually gives a soft round of applause. "Maybe he was eaten by a fish afterwards." She murmurs to her dog.

Karina claps as she makes her way from the door. "Thank you, Your Highness! I should like to know how far he was able to stretch his prose to get out of that situation some day." Eyeing Sorrel with a friendly smile. "Princess Sorrel, you're up! Dazzle us!"

Karina has joined the Ivory rose embroidered couches.

Karina finally plops herself down on the couch beside Vanora, giving her a light nudge and perking her brows with a quick look over the gathering.

Valdemar, dressed mostly in shades of blue, is just arriving, apparently having at least missed the Redrain Prince's tale. Making his way over to Vanora, he smiles slightly before asking in a low voice, "How is it going so far, love?" He then turns to Mabelle and inclines his head. "Lady Laurent, a pleasure to see you here. Thank you for coming," he adds before taking a seat himself.

Valdemar has joined the Ivory rose embroidered couches.

Vanora has been murmuring back and forth quietly with others among the ivory silk couches, but when Karina arrives looks up at her and beams brightly, reaching to give her lady-in-waiting and protege's hand a squeeze.

Ras slips in through the door, late, lurking quietly sideways near the street-facing windows as he scopes out the ongoings.

Hickson has joined the line.

"Oh, cousin." Sanya says quietly, turning to Valdemar. "I didn't know you'd be coming." She says with a smile before turning to Sina, greeting her with a nod.

"Yes, I was able to get away from the longhouse earlier than expected, and decided to come and see how things were going. They got quite a turnout, it seems," Valdemar responds to Sanya as he settls, keeping his voice low so as not to interrupt anyone preparing to tell a story.

Karina spots Ras by the door and waves him in from her comfortable perch on the couch. "Hey there, Ras! Welcome, relax, lend your ears to Princess Sorrel's enchanting tale." As Valdemar settles in on the couch, she reaches an arm around Vanora fondly, and gives her cousin's shoulder a squeeze. "Hey, you. I'm glad you came! And I am, Lady Vanora. Though I welcome all eyes on my work, this is quite the turnout."

Stepping up a bit, Sorrel begins to spin a tale:



"Once upon a time, many years ago, so long ago that people don't rightly remember all the characters in play, a small village came upon hard times, as small villages often do. They found themselves beset upon by the twin demons of starvation and need. They cried out to the gods, but the gods seemed deaf to their pleas. They wept in their misery, feeling abandoned, and they sought out succor elsewhere.



"Good fortune came to them for once, and they had a day of bounty. They were so delighted by this turn of events that they made a pact with the Lady of Still Moments to live endlessly in this moment, to relive this bountiful beautiful day for all days. But such pacts do not come without cost, as they were warned by the lady's dark champion, and the agreement said that they must surrender every thirteenth child born to them to her.



"For many years did they live in peace and prosperity, enjoying the good fortune their pact had brought. Until one day, the pact was broken. A young couple had a child who was the thirteenth, and thus was destined to be carried away by demons to the Lady of Still Waters. Heartbroken, her parents hid her away, setting her in a basket upon the river so that she might not be taken.



The pale and terrible Champion of the Lady of Still Waters came to the village in vengeance and declared that they should suffer for all time. Every sunset, every evening, the river would overflow its bounds, flooding the village and dragging all of the villagers to their graves. Yet they would be denied the peace of Death, for they were locked into reliving the same day, over and over again."

Is Ras being followed? Certainly not. Korka just happens to be the next person to enter, casting her emerald gaze around the room. As someone is speaking, she merely quirks her lips a touch and moves to find herself a seat.

Ras folds his arms, standing alone in front of one of the windows to attentively study Sorrel.

Vanora listens to Sorrel's story with great interest, sliding over to make room for Valdemar to sit next to her. "The competition is stiff."

Sorrel continues her tale after a moment:



"For many days and many nights, this continued, and their wailing warned all travelers to stay away lest they join the ranks of the Everdying. Until one day, they were visited by a great Hero, one of Lagoma's own, whose glory and power none could match. He had heard of their plight and vowed to save them. He went to the village, yet all of his powers came to naught, and not even the blessing of Lagoma could save them. Still, he prayed to Lagoma, and she bid him seek the Queen of Endings to strike a bargain.



"There he learned from the mighty Queen that the Champion of the Lady of Still Moments had paid a tribute to her to keep his victims from the Wheel, and so must the Hero do the same. He set out on a perilous quest to earn the Queen's favor, and after many trials, he persevered and the doomed village was released from their torment.



"Though our Hero was weakened by his journeys and bloody from his struggles, he nonetheless managed to rush to the village in time to raise a giant levee to protect its people from the floodwaters, and so they survived their ordeal. They renamed the place after him, so grateful were they to the Hero.



"And the Hero's name was Goldpyre."

Lady Teonia Redreef have been dismissed.

Aryka Wyrmfang have been dismissed.

3 Thrax Guards have been dismissed.

Marquessa Pudding, a doughy dog have been dismissed.

2 Thrax Elite Guards have been dismissed.

Noticing Vanora and Valdemar, Hickson bows his head respectfully from his seat, before turning back to hear the rest of Sorrel's story.

A crow lands on the window sill, looking in on the small crowd gathered.

Ras has his back mostly turned to the wall of windows, listening intently to the end of Sorrel's story. But he catches movement out of the corner of one eye, and glances aside towards the crow, then at Jeffeth.

Karina had been instantly seized by Sorrel's tale. In she leans, drawn further into its depths, her heels digging against the base of the couch and arms folded across her knees. When it's over, Karina straightens back out in an instant, her applause heavy with approval. "That was a good one! Thank you, Princess Sorrel!" In quiet aside to Valdemar, she speaks, "I have something for you. Well, not yet. But it's coming. Expect it." A little flash of mischief in her eyes that childhood had perhaps taught Valdemar to expect... or dread. Then, she raises her voice. "Next up is Caspian! Think you can top that?!"

The Duchess Grimhall stands briefly after applauding Sorrel's story with enthusiasm. "If I could have everyone's attention before our next fish tale begins...as you know this is the grand opening of Mistress Seabright's Muse of Mourning Gallery as well as a storytelling party. Some of her work you can see displayed here and you are encouraged to browse between our fish tales. Should anyone have interest in purchasing one of the pieces, they may come and say so to me, and I'll handle the discussion on Karina's behalf, so that she can concentrate on hospitality."

"Well Sorrel's story is a tough one to follow. So my story is one I've told before, but it's a good one and I think most people here haven't heard it," begins Caspian with a grin. "A Kennex Captain is out pirate hunting when his ship comes across a single pirate ship. He calls out, 'Cabin boy, bring me my red coat!' A fierce battle ensues and after the fight the cabin boy asks, 'Why did you ask for your red coat?' To which the captain replies, 'So my men do not see me bleed.' Later that week they encounter two pirate ships, and again the captain calls to the cabin boy, 'Cabin boy, bring me my red coat!'"



"But then the next week of their voyage the Kennex ship comes across not two, not three, but seven pirate ships out at sea. The captain calls to the cabin boy, 'Cabin boy, bring me my brown pants!'"

Turn in line: Caspian

Artur applauds Sorrel's story, and as she moves to settle, and then calls out. "Ringer! She's a ringer, what with her singing and all!" he's clearly teasing Sorrel as he gives her a wink. "It is a wonderful story." he admits, as he moves to settle down again when Caspian begins his tale.

Sina remains seated at the table, murmuring quiet pleasantries with those seated there, until Sorrel begins her tale. She listens with fascination through the entire thing, though she has a slightly pensive look on her features as she hears it too. Eventually she offers up applause though for the well-told tale. She notices Ras near the windows, but her only reaction to his presence is a slight tightening of her eyes. The crow causes her to lift an eyebrow at it, and then she returns her focus to those at the table where she's seated. Then Caspian is up, telling his tale as well, and her attention turns to him.

Korka listens to the tales, eyes glimmering but expression otherwise impassive, "Smart man," she murmurs of Caspain's tale to the person next to her, "It's always a shame to have a good pair of pants ruined by a soup spill."

Hickson laughs at the conclusion of Caspian's tale, and nods in agreement with Korka. "Aye, an obvious soup spill's never a good thing."

Mabelle rises from her seat a moment after scanning the gallery, stepping quietly to Vanora and murmurs to her

Rosalind is showing quite the interest in the stories, hazel eyes large. "I'm so glad I decided to step out today."

Sina gives a soft laugh at the end of Caspian's tale, one hand lifting to her lips.

Valdemar smiles slightly at Hickson's silent greeting, before applauding Sorrel's tale. Then, for a short time, the crow catches his attention, his brow furrowing until Karina tells him that she has something for him. Raising a brow at her, he goes on to ask her in a dry tone, "Should I have my guards ready too, Cousin?" Amusement flashes in his eyes as he speaks, though.

Caspian sits back down at the punchline of his story, grinning from ear to ear. "Thanks for listening everyone. They were all good stories!"

a massive cat with long black fur, Intrigue, a sleek, diminutive raven with blue-black plumage arrive, following Willow.

Karina chuckles at Caspian's tale. "Short and... sweet isn't the right word. But certainly memorable! Thanks, Caspian!" As Vanora had interjected, she looks up at the duchess and affords her a gracious smile and a nod. "Only if you want them on their knees," she then adds, just as dryly, to Valdemar, with only a slight amused twitch in her lips to give anything away.

Turn in line: Hickson

Jeffeth has joined the line.

Ras smirks at Caspian's story, but then he remembers the crow at the window, and he's seen the subtle shift in Sina's expression too. He lifts his head and sets his jaw, remaining in place.

Hickson wields Story, an oathlands steel longblade.

Hickson takes a deep breath, and comes to stand before those assembled. "One day we received a call in the Lowers regarding a noise complaint. I was sent with Sir Merek Black to investigate. As I arrived at the home of the woman who made the complaint, I overheard a loud argument, and rushed to calm those invovled before things got out of hand."



"One of the women was accusing the other of having summoned a monster with magic to eat her cat. The other woman was saying how she only /wished/ she knew a spell to get rid of the other woman's mangy cat - and her owner too. As I stepped in between just before the argument became a brawl, one of the women threw her bucket of fish entrails at the other, and I found myself covered in a foul slime instead. If you've never smelled fish entrails," says Hickson, "let me assure you it is the most foul smell you might ever encounter. But then we heard it!" Hickson's eyes open wide, and he paces around the room, pausing for effect. "A hideous yowl like you've never heard in your life. Sir Merek, being the wiser of us, though the one most suited to any dangerous situation gave me the opportunity to prove my mettle by investigating the situation more closely."



Hickson voice deepens, and he continues, "I walked down the allyway, and the horrid sound intensified, and a scratch, scratching sound filled the air! It seemed to be coming from behind a large broken crate, covered by an old worn out sail. Fearing the creature might have been feeding on some poor animal or person, I boldly lifted the sail with my sword," Hickson draws his longblade from his belt and pantomimes the careful action, "and the most huge, ferocious, mangy haired cat lept in my face and proceeded to claw me with all the fury of an enraged dust junkie!" Hickson grins then, and says, "The fish juice took longer to recover from than the scratch marks, but the cat really was huge, and it had just given birth to a litter of kittens, which accounted for all the noise. One runs into a lot of fish stories in the Iron Guard, and sometimes fish parts as well."

Apparently just as a story ends, Willow comes in, late, clad in some elaborate Whisper designed gown reminiscent of the forest and matching the green vinework metal resting atop dark curls. She looks around a long moment before heading off toward someplace unobtrusive to sit.

Sina nods to Hickson after something he says, then smiles and settles back in her seat as he is up. She partakes of pie and drink, whatever is available. She listens with interest to Hickson's tale, while her Templars remain close behind her. She gives a little chuckle as she hears the end of the story. She seems to be thoroughly enjoying herself.

Willow has joined the Ivory rose embroidered couches.

Ras watches Hickson with interest, brow knitting, then grins despite himself and headshakes and gives a quiet half-scoff, half-laugh. It's probably hard for anyone to hear that from where he stands, though.

Wasn't Artur here a moment ago? Duchess Vanora glances around but can't seem to find him again. Her shoulder lifts in an idle shrug.

Caspian claps for Hickson, laughing a little bit, grinning. "Good story!" He calls out to the man.

Karina sits up straight, an enthusiastic bounce that seems inevitable on the naturally plush couch cushions. "Bravo, Mr. Gales! The only thing more dangerous than standing between a cat and her babies is standing between her and fishguts. We're all lucky you survived the ordeal to recant it here today." She chuckles, and nods to Jeffeth next. "Sir Bayweather! Are you ready to amaze and enrapture?"

Turn in line: Jeffeth

Korka has joined the a walnut wooden table stained a red-brown.

"Very evocative." Amari compliments.

Hickson smiles at Karina and offers a bow to those in attendance before resuming his seat at the wooden table, looking toward Jeffeth as he's called up to tell a tale.

Clearing his throat, the big man makes his way to the front. Rolling his massive shoulders. "Alright. Well. This story is kind of in the past and kind of.. More recent."



"There once was a Rex'alfar knight. For those of you don't know Rex'alfar are a type of elf. They're uh...They're generally not so nice, of an elf." Jeffeth explains with his hands splayed out.



"Anyway, there was a Rex'alfar Knight. She served the Gods. Which didn't happen often. Rex'alfar weren't doing that, that much. Sandrine found herself at an abbey and an orphanage. And she served well. Until the Reckoning came..."

Korka's gaze moves from Jeffeth to Ras then back again.

Ras develops a serious look, watching Jeffeth for a minute, and then slits a faint glower at Korka for some reason. He shifts from that place by the windows to walk on near-soundless footsteps near the couch, where there's an attempt made to achieve meaningful eye contact with Karina.

Ras has joined the line.

Jeffeth checked composure at difficulty 10, rolling 42 higher. Jeffeth rolled a critical!

Karina crosses one leg over the other, sinking back into her seat, eyes trained upon the large storyteller. Maybe it's some strange innate instinct, then, that pries her attention briefly from Jeffeth and allows her to spot Ras. She smiles his way and nods with encouragement.

When Jeffeth steps up to tell the story, Bree wriggles to the edge of the couch, leaning forward to hear every word.

Sanya straightens in her seat on spotting Ras, naturally a little surprised to see him there, though she doesn't comment, merely turning her gaze to Karina.

"Sandrine fought day and night. She defended the children. She fought every day and every night, giving her life to protect those children. And as she fought, she prayed." Jeffeth murmurs softly. "Her story is beautiful. And you should all hear it in full. It starts that Sandrine has a tale..."



He does not cry during the story, his voice does not even warble. He tells it solidly from beginning to end. Smiling softly once he finishes the story.



"When I heard this story I thought it was the most beautiful story I've ever heard. So I wanted to do something about it. I worked to find out where Morning Mist Hill is. We found it and we went there." One hand motions over to Korka. "Korka was there. And if it weren't for her, we wouldn't have seen the Nox'alfar spying on us. It was difficult, there were Abandoned protected by the Nox. We had to get a treaty signed by each High Lord to agree not to go onto the Gray Reavers lands. It took a long time."



"But as of today, where Sandrine once fought and fell. The abbey and orphanage of Morning Mist Hill stands once more. And if you're ever out that way, you should stop in. There's a memorial to both Sandrine and a very good man, Brother Martin." He lowers his head.



"Thank you for listening to the story of Sandrine."

Mabelle smiles quietly to Vanora after hogging her for a while, she steps to the table anew to listen to the tales and engage in conversation

Arms folded from where she leans against the wall, Korka gives Jeffeth and the room a nod and little wave of her fingers when she's mentioned, "That's right, I'm the reason Sir Jeffeth is able to be here to tell this story, so should he win I believe that entitles me to a say in the painting, right?" she winks at the big knight.

Rosalind frowns a little at Jeffeth's story,"That was such a sad and wonderful story.. "

The large man looks over to the crow in the window, then to Ras, then heads back to the couch. Jeffeth gives a little smile to Rosalind, bowing his head.

Sina smiles, clapping in appreciation for Jeffeth's tale. "That is a fine tale," she murmurs. She gives the big Knight a brief nod of her head, then a glance to Ras for some reason. Then she awaits the next storyteller.

The Duchess Grimhall reminds the crowd between stories. "So far we have two paintings already sold, but several left, all of very impressive quality. We do encourage you to support the arts, and Karina's venturing into the world of the professional artist with this opening today. If you have interest in any of the pieces, please let me know."

Karina bears the look of one easily swept up in imaginative tales, or merely tales that /stirred/ imagination. As Jeffeth continues on, it's as though everything is given shape in her mind, stirring her. Once finished, Karina applauds the knight heartily. "Thank you, Sir Bayweather. That was a true contender, and well told!" She quickly faces Vanora with arches brows, holding up two fingers quizzically.

Intrigue, a sleek, diminutive raven with blue-black plumage arrives, delivering a message to Ras before departing.

Turn in line: Ras

Beelzebubbles, the feline overlord you've been waiting for arrives, delivering a message to Vanora before departing.

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

Ras glances at Willow, then puts a note from her raven in his pocket, and walks over to the shop's center. He doesn't look at anybody specific, and appears somewhat tense, but launches immediately into a story that can't possibly be true - judging by its very first sentence. "Once there was a girl whose skull was on fire. She'd walk around town, as if nothing was wrong, but her head was burning. People would say she was crazy for not putting that fire out, and that she was dangerous to herself and everyone else. She was gonna burn down the whole damn town around their heads."



"So that's why all the Lowers folk came to me, because I'm a great hero." Squaring his shoulders, he gazes vaguely and heroically into the group. It's a little absurd. "They said, 'Oh Ras, we know that you have amazing powers. You can shoot a stream of daggers from your eyes, fart a wind so strong that it can knock down the roughest gangster, and your muscles are like iron that even the Iron Guard can't melt.'"



Dramatically serious, he nods. "I nodded to them, very tough and upright, cuz of course all this was true." He holds up one finger to emphasize the next line of his story.



"'And most of all,' begged the Lowers folk, 'We know you can breathe like an icy snowstorm. We need your help to take care of this fire lady once and for all.'"

Ras adopts a deeper and gruffer tone to mime his own self. "'How much you gonna pay me?' I asked the Lowers folk. 'You know I don't work for free. Every other hour I donate a million silver to the Commons Clinic, and Ah gotta pay mah rey-ent.'" The last part he speaks in an exaggerated drawl.



"'Oh, we don't got no coins, Ras,' bawled the people. 'Please, we need your help! Ya got the most generous heart on this side of the Gray River!'"



Spreading both hands in the helpless shrug of a martyr, he pulls a smile and shakes his head. "And I agreed to give them aid, cuz of course that was true too..."

Courvoisier, a fluffy golden cat with a flat face, Beelzebubbles, the feline overlord you've been waiting for arrive, following Iseulet.

The rapidity with which Ras launches into 'a girl whose skull was on fire' catches Karina entirely off guard, and immediately, rather grimly perhaps, sets a grin upon her countenance, already favoring the tale. Every unfolding event thereafter only fills her with further amusement and makes the expression grow. "How did Ras the Great and Powerful answer the call?" She pipes up from the couch.

The big man smiles softly over to Ras. Jeffeth grins a bit broader the more his story goes on before letting out a quiet laugh.

A brandishing of one arm into the distance, as some kind of theatrical response to Karina. "Off I went, of course, looking for the girl whose skull was on fire. I searched all night, and searched all day." Ras ejects a breath, narrowing one eye while continuing the story...



"I found clues in alleys, burnt patches on stacks of crates. The girl must have passed by here, I thought bravely to myself. I found places in the park after it rained, where dry dirt was surrounded by mud. The girl must have slept here, I thought kindly to myself. I found burnt lengths of clothesline between buildings, where the colors of fabric flutter in the wind. The girl must have dressed herself here, I thought wisely to myself." This Ras the Great and Powerful guy is unimaginably cooler than the actual Ras.

Sagely, Ras states, "In the end, I found her, because I'm the greatest detective in all of Arvum." A cocky grin that looks a bit forced. Okay, very forced, and he still won't make actual eye contact with anybody except the crow on the windowsill. "It was a black and rainy night. The torches lit in the park grounds were fizzlin out, spittin and smokin in the wet dark. Not a lot of sparklegas in the Lowers, y'know. And the girl whose skull burned - she was shinin like a signal fire between the dripping trees...



And when I tell you that the poet who wrote 'Remembrance sweeps the trees like sheets of Elysian rain' coulda been talkin about her, I ain't makin it up.



The whole world glowed around her, with a rhythm like the beat of her heart. And while I watched, my heartbeat moved into that same rhythm. I had all the amazing powers, shooting streams of daggers, farting strong winds, iron muscles, snow breath -- but in that moment, that night, I couldn't even take one single step, or turn my eyes off that girl for one single inch."

Rosalind listens to Ras and eyes him a bit. The story is interesting but hmmmm...

Iseulet arrives fashionably late, sliding in quietly to avoid too much notice and smiles warmly at Valdemar and Vanora, wiggling her fingertips in their direction. Then to Sanya, Hickson and Caspian and Mabelle - all faces she knows while those she does not get little nods. Now to find a good spot to sit and spectate! She makes herself at home, picking up a flute of something to drink and a nibble of food.

Vanora is overheard praising Karina: A talented artist whose gallery opening event was thoroughly enjoyable, she is a protege to be proud of.

Valdemar is overheard praising Karina.

Valdemar is overheard praising Vanora.

Willow is overheard praising Karina.

Mabelle is overheard praising Karina: Lovely event and beautiful paintings, the Laurent gallery is instantly enriched!

Willow is overheard praising Ras: I love this story.

Ras appears to be relating a very longwinded tale. He widens his eyes, intent, holding his breath. "When she looked at me, her eyes were like green stars that cut me into uncountable pieces. Cut me because they were sad, not sharp."



Putting on a higher voice that immediately ruins the gravity of the moment, he goes on. "'Ya ain't gotta breathe your icy breath on me, Ras,' said the girl, the flames on her skull dancing towards the black clouds above. 'I've decided to put out my own fire. Ain't nobody ever listen when I tell em they gotta be braver and kinder and wiser. They're afraid I'll burn down the town around their heads, but they're the ones doin it, slow by slow. So if I want em to listen, I gotta be like em, and become their leader."



Sighing melodramatically, he abandons the squeaky voice. "Then I could move, and I went towards her the way a dead leaf floats from a branch to the ground." He spaces out the next word in chunks, slicing his palm through the air for each syllable - "In-ev-it-ably."

When Iseulet arrives Vanora beckons her towards the ivory silk couches, murmuring something when her friend is close enough to speak to quietly. Whatever Iseulet whispers back in response brings a look of delight to the Duchess' face, and she states back to Iseulet, "Wonderful."

Valdemar smiles back at Iseulet as she enters the room and then makes her way over to whisper with his wife. His attention then shifts back to the story being told, listening closely.

Mabelle still listens to the stories shares at the gallery. A warm smile is sent to Iseulet as she enters while she keeps on conversing with her table mates.

Hickson bows his head in greeting when Iseulet enters, though something Korka says at his table has his skin a deep shade of red.

Sina remains seated t the table, listening to Ras as he continues to tell his tale, her expression interested, but also amused at certain points. She seems so distracted by Ras and his storytelling abilities, that she's forgotten to converse with the people at her table. She rests her elbow on the table, chin in hand, silvery eyes focused on him curiously.

Karina sinks an elbow into her leg and leans forward until her hand can support her head, fully invested in the conclusion to this riveting tale. Once more, that light in her eyes that said Ras's imagery was coming to life within her own mind with each word.

There's the deep hero-Ras voice again then. "'Is it better,' I asked. 'For a heart to break like a bottle slammed against the bar, sudden and sharp and ready to hit? Or like dead dry dirt, long after the last rain, breaking over days, and crumblin into deep lightless cracks?'



'I dunno,' said the girl. The rain was running down her face, and the fire above her forehead was fizzlin out, spittin and smokin in the dark wet. That glow around us was dyin. 'I dunno anythin bout hearts.'"



Now his voice turns grave and sad again. "And I saw her dyin too. The stars of her eyes were going out. They were turnin to star iron, her hair turnin to silk, the sunburnt flush of her cheeks fading into perfect pure -dead- white marble." Very sad. Genuine sadness, not feigned.

Sanya is overheard praising Karina.

Sanya is overheard praising Vanora.

Ras affects a gentle tone, but it's silly, because hero-Ras's fake bass is back. "'I know bout hearts," I said, and I did. One of my amazing powers was that I knew everything about hearts, and I knew that the fire in her skull had lit the fire in -my- heart. Got my shiv in one hand, and I cut the most generous heart on this side of the Gray River straight outta my ribs and gave it to her."



He pretends to take something invisible and place it reverently on top of his head. "She put it on her head. And just like that, her skull was on fire and the night was glowing again. And she went through the town, and told everyone to be braver and kinder and wiser."

Mabelle is overheard praising Vanora.

Mabelle has left the a walnut wooden table stained a red-brown.

Willow is overheard praising Ras.

Cupcake, a cookie girl arrives, following Mabelle.

Mabelle has joined the a walnut wooden table stained a red-brown.

With the speed of a runaway wagon, ready to wreck, Ras goes on. "'Ohshit,' everybody said to each other. 'Lookit the blood runnin down her face like rain. She took Ras's heart and she's wearin it as if it were a hat. We best damn listen.' And so they did."



He still looks uncomfortable, but stubbornly lifts his chin to declare, "And that's the story of how the most beautiful and amazing girl in the world fell in love with me, the greatest detective in all of Arx with the most amazing powers. One of my powers, of course, is that I don't need my heart to keep living. She can have it and wear it like a hat forever as long as the fire on her skull keeps burning."

Iseulet grins at Vanora and begins to listen in earnest to Ras' story, obviously having tuned in at a strange point and may be a little lost still, she sips her drink.

Vanora is overheard praising Iseulet: Her patronage of the arts is so deeply appreciated, she's helped another new artist begin to be recognized throughout Arx for her talents by buying pieces for the Empyrean's Gallery.

Ras turns and starts to go back by the window - but stops, and tacks on, "If this story wins, the girl with her skull on fire could get an actually good picture of herself, not one I drew on ripped paper in a cell." Then he hunches his shoulders and jams both hands in pockets, skulking back to his old place.

Sina is overheard praising Ras: He is a surprisingly riveting storyteller.

Karina is overheard praising Grimhall.

Sina is overheard praising Karina: For throwing a successful and fun grand opening event! I look forward to seeing more of her art.

Willow blinks at the last supposition and claps furiously at Ras' departure to his previous spot.

Karina is overheard praising Vanora: My patron, whose generosity and support has been strongly appreciated!

Karina is overheard praising Ras: Deceptive like sinking sand, his story is deeper than the surface glance.

Unable to keep her attention off Ras as his tale proceeds, Sanya seems completely engrossed till the end.

Willow is overheard praising Grimhall: A beautiful celebration of art and culture.

Sina actually has a hint of tears in her eyes as she hears the conclusion of Ras's story, and she joins in the applause, looking genuinely moved by it. She gives a little nod of her head.

Amari seems as if she's been nodding off. With a nudge from her dog, she blinks herself alert and offers a small round of applause to add to the rest. With a murmur of apology afterwards, she slips out.

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

Korka is overheard praising Ras: For giving us a tale full of all sorts of details he probably didn't mean to include but shared anyway.

murmurs at Amari's departure, "Shame she missed that one."

Karina lifts her chin from her hand as the story concludes, praising the tale with fervent applause. "Thank you so much for sharing that with us, Ras! It was unexpected in so many ways. I loved it." She turns her eye on the crowd, then, head canted.

Karina says, "Is there anyone else that wants to tell a story, or is it time to vote?!"

Karina is overheard praising Jeffeth.

Karina is overheard praising Artur.

Karina is overheard praising Sorrel.

Karina is overheard praising Hickson.

Karina is overheard praising Caspian.

Ras keeps both hands pocketed, staying near the window. The hint of a smile tugs at one corner of his mouth at the applause, but there's a crease of uncertainty that remains in his forehead. He jerks a nod of unverbalized gratitude towards Karina, scuffing a boot at the floor in a vaguely unsettled manner.

Karina gives those gathered a moment to think it over, then stands. "Alright! Well, I'll start us off. I vote for Ras's story. I enjoyed every story told here tonight, but that one in particular spoke to me." Lips worked like she had more to say on it, but not wanting to influence others, she stays her tongue. "That's one for Ras. Cast your votes!"

"So what, we just speak aloud who we're voting for?" Caspian asks Karina with a tilt of his head towards her.

Nodding agreement with Karina, Willow says, "I know I only caught like three of the stories, but of them, Ras has my vote as well." She looks at Ras then, and says, "And if the girl with her head on fire would like a portrait done, I would gladly do so."

Artur glances up when Ailys rises. "Yes, of course." the Redrain Prince offers. He casts his vote first, but then joins Ailys, letting the Grayson woman tuck her hand against his arm before giving her the leisure to lead the pair of them out of the studio and out to the street beyond.

"I admit that I also favored that same story." Duchess Vanora states to Karina. "It was creative, clearly in the spirit of the Fish Tale tradition...I liked many of the stories, but I liked that one best."

Korka raises her hand and wiggles her fingers to get some attention, "I vote for Master Gales' fishentales."

Karina has a thought and hurries off for just a few moments. She returns from the studio in the back with torn paper and charcoal pencil, setting it out for everyone. "If you'd rather not make any enemies with your choice, the anonymous approach works, too." ((Just PM me))

Artur adds. "My vote is for Princess Sorrel."

Sina stands up, and writes down her vote with the charcoal, and hands it to Karina with a smile. Then she resumes her seat.

"I vote for Grandmaster Jeffeth's," Bree calls out from her place at the couch.

"I vote for Sorrel's story, I liked it out of all the stories," says Caspian aloud to the group. "Well, obvious I liked mines the most, but it wouldn't be fair to vote for my own."

Keeping her own vote anonymous, Sanya rises and writes down her vote on a piece of parchment, handing it to Karina.

Valdemar rubs at his bearded chin a moment as he considers who to vote for. "Yes, Master Ras' tale did see more in line with the spirit of the contest. The other stories told were interesting, to be sure, but his was the tallest tale, I think," the Duke chimes in.

Ailys has left the Ivory rose embroidered couches.

Artur has left the Ivory rose embroidered couches.

2 Redrain Guards leaves, following Artur.

2 Grayson House Guards, Max, an emperor tamarin, Rosalee, The Champion, Artur leave, following Ailys.

Karina counts the votes written on paper and nods to each one voiced aloud. "Well there you have it. Ras, it appears you've won!"

Ras glances at Caspian, and nods to himself. "Yeah, I'll vo--" he starts to say, then hesitates and asks Karina, "But what if I vote for Jeffy's?"

The big man smiles softly, folding his massive arms over his chest. "My vote is for Ras." Jeffeth calls out.

Mabelle mimics Sanya's demeanour and votes privately.

Karina tilts her head at Vanora's suggestion, considering. "In that case, Princess Sorrel has come in second, and Sir Bayweather in third!"

Rosalind hurries and scribbles on a piece of paper.

After the winners are declared, Willow applauds again, this time for all three.

Karina eyes Jeffeth with an amused quirk of her lips. "That's a funny turn of events, all things considred. Wouldn't you say, Sir?"

Sina joins in the applause for the winners, and then she rises from her seat. She dips her head in farewell to those she was sitting with, and then she begins to make her way toward the door, Templars following in her wake. Soon, she's out to the streets, heading back home.

Sina has left the a walnut wooden table stained a red-brown.

Sebastian, an adorable gray and white tabby, Jacinthe, Arindais, a dour-looking Scholar, 3 Templar Knight guards leave, following Sina.

Courvoisier, a fluffy golden cat with a flat face, Beelzebubbles, the feline overlord you've been waiting for leave, following Iseulet.

Grinning abruptly at Jeffeth and taking his hands out of his pockets, Ras hisses, "Yesss!" with a double fistbump. Despite that vote, he clearly wanted to win.

Vanora rises to her feet from the couches and waits until she holds the attention of most. "Thank you so much for coming to share your stories and see that a young Isles artist has her career launched under the best possible conditions. As we've heard, Master Ras, Princess Sorrel, and Sir Bayweather will be winning paintings by Karina herself, commemorating and illustrating the story they shared tonight. I'm also pleased to announce that every painting in Karina's gallery has sold."

Karina checked composure at difficulty 20, rolling 9 lower.

Vanora gets Summer Dream from An elegant art gallery.

Vanora gets Promising Eternity from An elegant art gallery.

Korka applauds for the winners, the same light clap as before, but with a bit of power behind it so that it carries, "Well done," she calls out, then says to those at her table, "Are we retiring to a tavern after this for celebratory drinks?"

Merek makes a way in to check the place.

Smiling warmly the behemoth looks to Ras, letting out a laugh before looking back to Karina. He nods a little absent-mindedly. "It was a wonderful event, Miss Seabright." He arches his brows, gaze flicking to Vanora then back to Karina. Jeffeth scrubs at the stubble at his jaw.

Valdemar applaused the winnners when announced, and again when his wife announces that all of the paintings in Karina's gallery have sold. "Congratulations, Cousin," he tells the shop's owner, a grin on his face for a moment.

Courvoisier, a fluffy golden cat with a flat face, Beelzebubbles, the feline overlord you've been waiting for arrive, following Iseulet.



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