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Path of the Wise Monarch - Tournament of Thorns II

In time, one of you may rise to the lofty position that is ruler of Aildorich, of the many paths that may lead one to this end; the matter of suitability for rule must be evaluated. There are few simple answers to the complex problems of leadership, each choice deprives one of other avenues and to not make a choice the most dangerous of all. Demonstrate your wisdom, your foresight, and even your luck in forging the path forward for your kingdom.

The Path of the Wise Monarch is one of three paths that may be chosen for those competing in this year's Tournament of Thorns. Choose your path wisely.


March 16, 2020, 9 p.m.

Hosted By

Monique Etienne Alarissa


Niklas Reigna Quenia Felicia Tyche Sebastian Appolonia Ras Amari Waldemai



Arx - Ward of the Compact - Judgment Green

Largesse Level


Comments and Log

Niklas has joined the Tournament of Thorns - Mid Bleachers.

Axelle, a personal valet, Bonehilda, the prettiest-colored spider arrive, following Felicia.

People gather and flood the judgement green of Arx, not there to see a Thrax High Lord listen to pleas from his vassals and citizens, but to watch as individuals who have flocked to try their hand at making the finals and for a chance to gain a favor of the Nox'Alfar. Pennants fly, and the noise is significant while people start to work at ushering contestants to the center. The smell of food wafts through and drinks are a plenty with more than few perhaps already deep into their cups. Alarissa mingles with those she knows, kisses pressed to cheek in greeting and a smile on her face. It's promising to be just as crowded as the attempts to gain thorns have been. A touch to her shoulder brings her attention to the center and departing from familair faces, she starts for the dais with the chair set for her to sit upon. "Hear ye! Hear ye! The path of the wise monarch is soon to start! Contestants make your way to the center!" A herald cries out to warn people.

Niklas walks in, his assistant in tow, and climbs about halfway up the bleachers before plopping down. "...had to call my shot. I made a lot of boasts to Cat and Princess Alarissa, after all." When the contestants start toward the center of the green he stands and offers polite applause. To Sam he says, "Which of them do you think I'll have to crush later?"

Chiara, 4 Seraceni pirates arrive, following Appolonia.

Reigna arrives, eyes curious as she looks around. She mingles with Alarissa, though as she moves to the chair and calls for those who are participating to make their way to the center, she pauses, a twitch of her lips as she heads in that direction, looking as if she is heading there on a whim.

Stefano, an inconspicuous Lycene bodyguard, Carmela, a gleaming dusken-feathered crow, Ambra, a plain-faced Lycene scribe arrive, following Mirella.

Quenia gracefully moves into the judgment green, moving to where the others who might be competing are standing. She smiles warmly at Alarissa, and kisses her cheek back as she passes by, and then goes to take her place in the center as requested.

Stefano, an inconspicuous Lycene bodyguard, Carmela, a gleaming dusken-feathered crow, Ambra, a plain-faced Lycene scribe leave, following Mirella.

Felicia is drawn by the sound of the heralds, and can't help but loft a brow as she listens to what's going on. A walnut shell tossed aside casually with a brief flash of an impish grin she elects to head towards the centre purely for her own utterly unprepared entertainment.

Monique is down in the center clearing, her hair brushed to a glowing sheen in the torchlight, her outfit a restricting affair of star iron corsetry and sea silk skirts, gleaming with dawnstones and dragonweep. The Minx holds at the ready a small, ornate chest, and upon a velvet bed inside shining brooches can just barely be seen. Upon her carmine lips, an excited smile as she watches Alarissa call the first Path to order.

"Well I don't know how wise I am," Tyche remarks to Cornelius, the man by her side, as she makes her way to the gathering, "But I suppose I can try." She flashes the man a grin, and then sends him to the sidelines so that she might move forward and take her place among the contestants. She's worn a lovely coat for the occasion, being a woman of the isles and not used to such autumn chill.

Sebastian is not late for once. Or -- depending how you look at it -- very late, considering he's one of the committee members. He glances towards Monique and Alarissa, mouth quirking upwards as if to say /you've got this,/ before he heads for a seat in the front row bleachers. He glances, with interest, towards the contestants, looking for familiar faces.

Sebastian has joined the Tournament of Thorns - Front Row Bleachers.

Appolonia comes forth from the southwest, clad in her finest verdigris seasilk and her new seafoam boots and, in deference to the fact that Arx is not located in the meridians where the weather is nice, an afghan-shoulder wrap with a loose color motif matching that of Seraceni's house banners.

Ras skulks over across the field, both hands pocketed. He doesn't meet anyone's eyes. Maybe he's purposefully trying not to, for some reason - even though he moves towards the center, too.

Amari bring a small parade with her, herself at the front of it, leading a dapple gray horse. She passes the reins to a burly assistant, and the leash. She heads for the center of the green with a hulking bog dog walking to her left, and a cheeky white goat on her right. She speaks to the latter, softly, "It's not the Path of Courtship. I should have known I'd be equally cursed in that realm, even if it was pretend." The goat bleats a little. "I know, Marigold. I know." As she says that, she finds herself falling in beside Felicia of all the luck, and she flashes a smile at the Harrow, "Dame Felicia. Are you competing? This will be the perfect test for you."

Ras has joined the line.

Tyche has joined the line.

Reigna has joined the line.

Quenia has joined the line.

Felicia has joined the line.

Amari has joined the line.

Ras has joined the line.

Felicia gives a delighted laugh when she see's Amari and offers her a mischevious, if respectful, bow,"I hope my lady will forgive me for competing against her... I've no doubt that you'll handily beat me... but well, why not? As you say... it'll be a fine test." there's a shuffle of the bag in her hand and she extends it Amari's way,"Walnut? I can't promise it will make you any wiser... but they taste nice."

Niklas leans back against the bench behind him and stretches his arms out to either side. To Sam he says, "Go and see if there's a souvenir cup or something." He gestures over to the food and drink stands, then returns his attention to the show.

Appolonia has joined the line.

Alarissa is seated in the center of the main expanse of the Judgement Green where the contestants who want to try the path of the wise potential monarch in their bid for the crown. There's a look to Monique and that chest of thorn brooches, perhaps a wistful look "Lucky ducks who get those." She tells the Greenmarcher. When people have gathered, Alarissa rises on the dais and clears her throat, the full regalia of her position as the wife of the High Lord on her temple, neck and ears. Star iron gleams where it replaces the arm that she lost. "In time one of you may rise to the lofty position that is ruler of Aildorich, of the many paths that may lead one to this end; The matter of suitability for rule must be evaluated." She looks to each contestant, letting her gaze linger for a moment before settling on the next. "There are few simple answers to the complex problems of leadership, each choice deprives one of other avenues and to not make a choice the most dangerous of all. Demonstrate your wisdom-" She lifts her right hand, and the forefinger there. "your foresight-" Another finger. "Even your luck in forging the path forward for your kingdom." And then a third finger. "Choose wisely, for the future and the chance for your right to rule, depends on your success. You have a few moments to prepare."

Somehow the petite Marquessa is the first to the center, and when she looks around at those joining her, there's a fair bit of amusement at her pale features. She makes no move to relinquish her place, turning instead to the Tournament hosts for guidance.

Ras keeps his head down, but something about the surreptitious way he shuffles, half-turns, and tilts his head indicates that he's watching people as well as listening to the rules of the game.

Waldemai has a swig of ale. "This could be a pretty good show." He may be sitting in the cheap seats but his voice carries.

"I don't expect to get far, just further than my last showing since there won't be any princes involved, real or imaginary." Amari replies with a smile and a lift of a brow at Felicia's offer. Walnut? "Thank you." She chimes, plucking it from her hand but if she meant to say more, she doesn't both because she's then eating, and because Alarissa is speaking and the game is apparently on. Not a word is said until they're all given a few moments to prepare, then she's well wishing, and greeting, "Best of luck, Felicia. You as well, Reigna, though I doubt you'll need it. Oh, Marquess Quenia! Good luck." Those she's less familiar with get a more general 'good luck' and smile too, they aren't ignored.

There are several contestants Sebastian recognizes, gaze lingering on them with encouraging smiles. Even Amari -- whom he recognizes from last year's Tournament, receives a supportive nod from the Prince.

Reigna looks to Amari and offers her cousin a smile, "You as well, Amari." She flashes a smile to Queenia and dips her head, "Good luck, Marquessa Quenia! Dame Felicia," There is a nod to the Harrow as well. Reigna looks fairly chipper, neither nervous or anxious, just friendly. She looks back to Amari and asks, "What happened last time?"

Quenia glances over at Amari and wigglers her fingers, offering her a smile. "Lady Amari, Marquessa Reigna," she greets congenially enough. She also nods at the others, whom she doesn't recall having met before. "This should be quite an interesting endeavor. I didn't pay attention to the competition last year," she admits, flushing a bit.

Alarissa watches and when the competitors are ready, Alarissa has a querying look for each contestant, her shoulders squared and chin lifted. "The strength of any foundation comes from the purpose for which it was made." Palm facing up, she lifts her hand to chest height. "Pick the foundation on which all acts to follow must stand. Will you pick Infrastructure which includes the building blocks for a great kingdom, by which the people may be housed, fed, by which they travel and gather." To the left she gestures. "Or perhaps Education, the enrichment of the mind above all else, to fill the spirit with words, with thoughts, the tools to build themselves and each other into greater purpose." In front of her again, still the palm up. "Finally, a Defense to quell all who may wish harm against your people, choose a sturdy shield upon a wide field a poised, stalwart and unrelenting watch ready to face foes." Her palm now shifted toward the left. "What will your choice be?" Manicured brows rise, her head tilting to side faintly as if questioning before she takes a seat again. The hand of the false arm adjusted to lay gently in her lap and when she's done, liftes her voice. "Proceed." And getures to Tyche to step forward. "Marquessa Inverno"

Tyche checked command + diplomacy at difficulty 15, rolling 27 higher.

Although the auburn-haired woman is hardly a physical force to be reckoned with, her time as a leader has taught her that the best offense is a good defense. Or maybe she heard that in some cliched conversation with a military minded individual? Either way, she's quite good at 'faking' her way to the top. And so that is the defense path Tyche chooses. An amazing effect happens when she lifts her chin, her short stature doing little to take away from the command in her voice, or the strength in her shoulders. Her hands spread wide, her smile disarming. "Bolster our numbers, and we bolster our people. Education and infrastructure both deserve our time and attention, but if our borders are vulnerable what we have worked for will be destroyed." And so she steps to the left, choosing her path.

Reigna checked intellect + economics at difficulty 15, rolling 35 higher.

Felicia is listening, though it might not look obvious from the fact that she's taking a look over the competition with apparent delight,"Ah, I'm doomed. At least half the women here are excellent rulers already... but well. It'll be something at least." she chuckles,"Best of luck to all of you." offered with several dips of her head as she finds a spot she can lean against,"Marquessa Keaton, and Igniseri, and I've seen her before, too." she chins in the direction of Tyche with a wry kind of smile,"I'm so doomed."

"People are at the heart of everything." Reigna says with thought. "In order to succeed all nobles must focus on the land, on the people who work that land. Their successes are what drives forward progress. Without adequate focus on management of the lands, on investing in the people, there is little chance for greater growth."

Monique leans in to whisper something quietly to Felicia, a smile of amusement on her lips as she steps back, listening to Tyche and Reigna make their cases. A thoughtful mien replaces that smile, the Greenmarch cocking her head birdlike, regard lingering on Reigna.

Turn in line: Tyche

Turn in line: Reigna

Turn in line: Quenia

Quenia checked wits + teaching at difficulty 15, rolling 16 higher.

Quenia steps forward a moment when it becomes her turn. "Investing in education is the best thing a Monarch can do, for if their people are skilled, then they can better learn how to care for the kingdom. If they are skilled, they can learn the trades required to handle the infrastructure, and if they are skilled, they can learn the laws needed to be able to aptly just when justice is called for. So, it is my choice, as the potential ruler of Aildorich to invest in those who can teach others to better learn and hone and learn their skills." THat said, she steps back and looks to the next person in line.

Appolonia winks at Sebastian, and tells Ras from behind, after a moment of belated surprise, "I remember you!"

But then she attends to Alarissa's words. Her hands clasp together. Inwardly, she prepares her rhetorical flourishes.

Turn in line: Felicia

Ras hunches his shoulders at Appolonia's comment and glances around at her. He pulls a face where he bounces both eyebrows, but that's it for a greeting. Awkward.

Felicia checked wits + occult at difficulty 15, rolling 55 higher.

"Without knowledge, we are nothing. With it... we can work out how best to prepare our infrastructure, and the best way to array our defenses. The education of the people has to be paramount." Felicia offers as she drops another walnut shell near her feet,"It's the only way we can prepare for the threats that face our current world." is what the Harrow has to say, with a dip of her head in Quenia's direction for likeminded philosophy.

Turn in line: Amari

Amari checked intellect + economics at difficulty 15, rolling 26 higher.

Sebastian's watching each of the contestants with an avid sort of gaze that might well come across as judgement, if it weren't softened by the upturn of his lips as his gaze flickers back and forth across the contestants as they each speak their turn.

2 Armed Confessors, Fion, Ragairseacht, a common nightingale arrive, following Veronica.

"Infrastructure, without a doubt." Amari decides, which probably shouldn't be a huge surprise, coming from a Minister of Finance. "Hunger, shelter and security come before any other concerns. Those who are well fed and confident in the safety of their property and persons make better students and soldiers than those starving and anxious about how they'll meet the essentials of life." She steps that way, before whispering an aside to Reigna, "It was a prince. It's always a prince. Never pin your hopes to one." This seems to be an explanation about the last tournament. Yes, she does then look at Sebastian somewhat pointedly.

Turn in line: Ras

Ras checked wits + linguistics at difficulty 15, rolling 2 lower.

2 Armed Confessors, Fion, Ragairseacht, a common nightingale leave, following Veronica.

Ras clears his throat and lifts his chin as he steps forward over the drying autumn grass, hands still buried in his jacket pockets. "Education," he declares, with a stubborn tinge to his voice. "Everybody's gotta learn another tongue. Not just to speak it. But understand the folk who really do. Know their legends, their dreams. What makes em people too." It's a pretty sappy perspective for a grubby commoner, and he completely fails to explain the why of it, and further delivers a sullen glare around himself for some reason.

Turn in line: Appolonia

Appolonia checked wits + occult at difficulty 15, rolling 56 higher.

Appolonia beams at Ras. It may seem slightly vacant.

Then it's her turn.

"I would second the terms of education," Appolonia says, "because you see - works will decay; roads, ships, bridges, even the stone itself will fall to ruin in the fulness of time. And strength of arms is needful, but strength, too, will fail; metal rust; shields break; spears grow blunt; and bows warp and twist."

Grim. Appolonia continues: "But it is knowing - the thought, the learning that we accumulate, bit by bit - that lives on; like fire passed between candles, though the original candle be long burned out, might live on forever, each of us a spot of light in the darkness. To trade in learning is to be in the only trade with a truly *long term* perspective."

Although Sebastian might not hear the whisper, he certainly notices the pointed look from Amari, returned only by an effortless smile from the Pravus Prince.

With the first round done, Alarissa smiles, dipping her head to Appolonia when the woman makes a stellar defense of her choice. It's ras's that draws forth a wince at his own presentation that has her looking to Monique and conversing quietly and then back to the group. "This round finds the following order. Lady Appolonia, Dame Felicia, Marquessa Quenia, Marqussa Tyche, Lady Amari, Marquessa Reigna and Master Ras" There's a gesture for those watching to clap if they want before lifting her hand for quiet.

"All are valid routes you have chosen and solid defenses for them. Each is unique and necessary. There is no wrong way, nor any right way. Each rule is unique." Alarissa rises ones more, right hand pushing herself up from the sea and lifts her voice further to carry.

"Any village, a town, or even a city may sustain itself. May find the fields, rivers, and stock to sustain itself. But merely to survive is not enough, to thrive one must reach out beyond the borders to find more to quench the hunger of a growing population for goods of all kinds. Will you reach out with an open hand in Trade building relationships-" Alarissa's right palm is open. "Or with a closed fist of Conquest to take what is rightfully yours." And in a heartbeat, she closes her fist tight. "Which one are you? A builder or a taker?" Alarissa shifts to sit again and prepare herself. "Marquessa Inverno, proceed once more."

Turn in line: Tyche

Tyche checked charm + diplomacy at difficulty 15, rolling 37 higher.

Monique gives a soft laugh for some reason, and her eyes settle somewhere in the stands and then drift back to the competition, interest capturing her at Appolonia's argument. There might even be an approving nod there.

Felicia slaps her free hand on her leg a few times after Appolonia's speech,"Hear, hear." offered by the redheaded Harrow before carefully cracking another walnut shell so she can fish out the wrinkly brain looking nut inside and munch on it. From the tilt of her head she's giving the question posed for the next round due thought.

As all the contestants make their choices, Tyche listens. Some of them earn her interest - thoughts on education especially, made so interesting by Appolonia's grimness - but she smiles for each. And then the next round is upon them, and she gestures to the first of the choices. "Oh, Trade. Most certainly. With a strong defense, it is time to start reaching out to others and invite them to share with us their wealth, their productivity, and their culture. Trade routes will bring with them an economic boom, which will allow for growth and prosperity." A beat. "I should know, as we have some wonderful trade in Caina," she adds with a grin, and a little plug for her equally little island home. "I've always found the softer hand of offering is received more readily than the fist of conquest."

Turn in line: Reigna

Reigna checked intellect + propaganda at difficulty 15, rolling 91 higher.

It takes a moment for Reigna to find her words, but after that pause, she says, "Trade is good, but showing yourself to be the best choice to ally with is better. Demonstrate what makes your way great and you can sway others to your side in enduring bonds that surpass mere trade contracts and treaties."

Turn in line: Quenia

Quenia checked charm + diplomacy at difficulty 15, rolling 41 higher.

Once more Quenia steps forward, after listening to others speak, and says, "The next best thing a ruler can do is foster trade agreements and boost economic trade. Without silver flowing into your cities, you will be unable to pay your people to do the work that's necessary to keep your city flourishing, so you would speak to other nations and broker what trade agreements you can." She steps out of the way for the next person in line.

Turn in line: Felicia

Felicia checked command + diplomacy at difficulty 15, rolling 11 higher.

In all her blackened steel, conquest might seem like the obvious answer to come from the knight, but when the Harrow's turn rolls around the answer that comes is,"Trade. Conquest comes with the destruction of the very things needed to help prosperity. Not just in terms of resources and time, but in terms of the people themselves. Through trade, both can benefit, and prosper, instead of one receiving marginal gain at the cost of another... besides... all land used to be occupied by someone else, once upon a time. Even now, it is all his Majesty's to decide what to do with... conquest would seem disrespectful of his Majesty's wishes."

Turn in line: Amari

Amari checked charm + diplomacy at difficulty 15, rolling 50 higher.

"Trade builds friendships and wins allies, or at least those who wouldn't dare turn on you for fear of losing out on your Arvum renowned turnips. Wagons of turnips are more persuasive than a knife in the back, generally." Amari decides, opting for trade rather than conquest. "Again, thriving trade helps you maintain your people and your lands, and should disaster strike, a savvy trader will have a surplus that will help see them through. Say, when someone tries to invade and take your turnips. Your soldiers will be well fed, well armed, and well ensconced in sturdy fortresses full of turnips that will see them happily through the siege."

Turn in line: Ras

Ras checked command + intimidation at difficulty 15, rolling 1 lower.

Ras still has his hands stuffed into his jacket, and still wears an unnecessary glower. Despite that, he just looks out of place, and not scary at all. "Reckon we got some enemies," he comments sullenly. "Gotta take those shitheads out, one way or another." One might think he isn't exactly talking about conquest of surrounding lands for the sake of supplies, given that resources and silver are not mentioned at all. Still, he appears stubbornly unwilling to give up. "If someone's got power, they won't give it up by just pretty words."

Alarissa has joined the line.

Turn in line: Appolonia

Appolonia checked intellect + propaganda at difficulty 15, rolling 35 higher.

"It is very true," says Appolonia as her turn steps forwards, "that force is, in its way, essential. Without force, in its measure, the sweetest and wisest words will be disdained. Why is it so? I do not know; it would be easy to speculate, hard to answer. One might write an answer that serves as a mirror to one's soul. But I don't have much of a choice in this matter, do I, given how I was raised," Appolonia concludes with a small smile. "For as we like to say:

"Take everything."

As she loops round she beams at the others. Monique, certainly, but also, for some reason, Ras.

Monique puts her hands together for all the answers, her smile growing wider with each. Until Ras, of course. Is that a slight wince from the Minx? It's a large cheer from the commoners in the bleachers, though.

Some of Ras' aggressive staring falters awkwardly at Appolonia's beam, and when the cheer goes up in the commoners bleachers he ducks his head with something that might almost be a smile. One hand emerges to raise and tug at the feather in his hair, like a sort of loose fidget.

Alarissa regards each as they step forward from their places once again and states their path. When all are done, each having been given a critical eye, Alarissa tilts her head. "The open palm of friendship and trade wins out, over the closed fist of authority and conquest. Interesting isn't it Lady Greenmarch?" Looking to the Oathlander noble who bears the brooches. "Trade was and is the mostly preferred route." The red lacquered nails on her right hand are tapped against the arm of the chair she's sitting in. "But did it work?" She queries with one brow raised and shifts to converse with Monique then straightens. "From lead to last they go. Marquessa Reigna, Lady Appolonia, Lady Amari, Dame Felicia, Marquessa Tyche, Marquessa Quenia and Master Ras." Her right hand gestures to the group as a whole while people clap before she turns her palm foward for silence.

But then it's time for the last round. "Some leaders cannot see any future beyond the next feast day" Shoulders lift. "Perhaps that leads to happier rulers, but it does little for those they rule does it not? Ambition, measured or maniacal, writes the final pages of a legacy, your legacy." Alarissa points to each person as she goes. "Based on your successes and failures throughout your reign you'll have different options available to you. For those whose rule met with skepticism and troubles you may yet find success in Forging a Powerful Alliance making a stronger whole." Her hand settles on the arm of the chair. "For those with equal measure of wins and losses, bringing together those who opposed you and those who supported you could secure your place in history. Finally, for those whose reign was marked with victory at all turns, the greatest weight lies ahead, put in place the pieces that will keep your kingdom strong long after your bones have turned to dust." She smiles serenly. "Make your last case, your last choice."

Tyche checked charm + performance at difficulty 15, rolling 36 higher.

Turn in line: Tyche

Something Alarissa says sparks interest in Prince Niklas Grayson, who sits up and looks to his assistant, "When /is/ the next feast day?"

Reigna checked charm + empathy at difficulty 65, rolling 4 lower.

When Tyche makes her final choice it is for unity, and her hands spread wide to start, "With the strength already blossoming, the economy booming, the next step is to bring all in the Kingdom under one goal, one banner. In uniting, we present a stronger front." Her hands slowly draw together in front of her, clasped. "Those who were with me through my choices, and those who grumbled, together can make us thrive." And that done, Tyche's chances of influence the game out of the way, she steps to the side to let the others take their chances.

Turn in line: Reigna

Reigna bites her lower lip and finally seems to get a bit nervous. Her cheeks fill with color and she says, "An enduring peace for a thousand years... the only way to do that is to, er... well. You have to try to find the heart of the others, and, uh, well you know... give them what they need?" Choke!

Turn in line: Quenia

Quenia checked charm + propaganda at difficulty 15, rolling 44 higher.

Quenia carefully considers the option before her, then nods a bit. "I work to unite the people behind my rule, ensuring that there is stability among the masses for as along as I manage. Where I can, I make it seem as if this is largely their idea." That said, she looks to see how the others handle things.

Turn in line: Felicia

Felicia checked command + theology at difficulty 15, rolling 13 higher.

Felicia can't help the small snort she gives, at what, she doesn't seem inclined to specify,"Uniting kingdoms is how the Compact first came to be. Through many different kingdoms working together against a common enemy, and for a common good." there might just be a shoot of her eyes in Ras' direction at that one,"Our history shows how easy it is to forget those who had a hand in its making, but through alliances to one another there is always the opportunity to thrive in time." she offers, punctuating it with a crack of the walnut she drops her eyes to in her hand.

Turn in line: Amari

Amari checked charm + propaganda at difficulty 15, rolling 135 higher. Amari rolled a critical!

"I would say, even with one's best efforts in building up the infrastructure, your people and trade, there will always be calamities to survive, hardships to endure and mistakes made. Such is life from high to low, start to finish." Amari begins thoughtfully, it's as though she's going to stop there, but she continues after a breath, "The one thing that sustains us more than anything else, is not turnips, despite what I said before, nor the flow of silver. It's the stories we weave together, of a people shining in the night, living and dying with honor, and fortitude. Those tales we tell each other are what endures and what are remembered down through the generations. Most will gladly and willingly join in the writing of that story, if you think to ask them."

Turn in line: Ras

Ras checked willpower + streetwise at difficulty 65, rolling 14 lower.

It's true: Sebastian's surprised face does involve a lifting of brows and parting of his mouth. He's not the only one for whom Amari's speech seems to stir something, because there's a ripple of approving noise throughout the crowd and some clapping here and there.

Ras knits his brow, and continues fidgeting with the feather. "Once everything's fair and everybody's free," he says, willfully. "Allies'll be on every street, in every kingdom." Spoken in the rough tones of the Lower Boroughs, it's not a decision that comes with a great deal of poise, or any reasonable explanation - even if dark eyes burn with conviction.

Turn in line: Appolonia

Appolonia checked charm + propaganda at difficulty 15, rolling 26 higher.

Felicia actually has to put down the walnuts. Or, rather, shove them in her cincture. There's a few moments pause in the wake of Amari's speech to do just that so she has both hands free to applaud and offer a sharp whistle of agreement. It might seem like she's missed Ras' speech entirely in her celebration of Amari's, but her eyes flick over him with a loft of her brow, perhaps in thoughtful reconsideration.

Reigna puts her hands together and gives a patented Keaton whistle in the wake of Amari's reply. She gets over her own embarrassment, cheering happily for her cousin.

Alarissa rises, arms left to fall to either side of her. "You have pleaded your case, made your choices. I will confer." And moves off the dias to speak quietly with Monique.

When Appolonia steps forwards, she says: "I would bring my future heirs and inheritors to consider the strength of a bundle of sticks."

"Now, a large collection of coppiced wood will be of use, but it will not be particularly strong," the lady of Seraceni says. "You could crush it in detail simply by stepping upon it a number of times. But if you should sort that wood - to place like with like, to place sticks together in accordance with their curves - then each would be all the harder to break. ANd if you were to then lash them together, why, you would have an invincible thing indeed."

Monique steps over to Alarissa, bending her crimson head to the very earnest discussion at hand. After some length, she hands the velvet-lined chest to Alarissa containing the three brooches, nodding her agreement. Then the Minx steps back, all smiles.

Monique gets Tournament of Thorns Crown Finalist Brooch from Tournament of Thorns Supplies.

Monique gets Tournament of Thorns Crown Finalist Brooch from Tournament of Thorns Supplies.

Monique gets Tournament of Thorns Crown Finalist Brooch from Tournament of Thorns Supplies.

The chest is taken and Alarissa moves to place it on the seat, everything done with her right as she takes up the first. "The following move further down the paths, and to get their chance at grasping the crown. All others, though well done or tried, do not have what was necessary, needful and desired." The first is lifted. "Lady Appolonia." It is passed over when the woman comes forward. "Maquessa Quenia." The same for the second. " And the one who rose to the occasion with quite a zealousness. Lady Amari." Each is offered thier pin. "And a hearty congratulations for all others and their attempts. Some day, perhaps, you will try the paths again and find yourself succeeding. For now though, lets us congratulation our finalists and take the time to mingle and celebrate."

Waldemai cheers for all the competitors, and especially for the champeens. The volume of his cheering is perhaps related to the emptiness of his bucket formerly full of ale.

Monique puts her hands together emphatically for both the winners, and the contestants, cheering them on with a pure delight. "Thank you, one and all," the Greenmarch echoes Alarissa. "Your efforts this evening, win or lose, were exceptional and appreciated. And thank you, of course, to our hostess, Princess Alarissa!"

When the winners are announced, Tyche brings her hands together to clap for each (even if she isn't one of them). "Well done," she commends them each, "And thank you for your efforts in putting together this tournament for us." The last is said to Monique and Alarissa, although she does sweep to include Sebastian in the mix, too! After all, he's the one who inspired her to try. That said and done, the Marquessa turns to make her way back to somewhere warm - which is not here!

Monique is overheard praising Alarissa.

Monique is overheard praising Tyche.

Monique is overheard praising Quenia.

Monique is overheard praising Amari.

Alarissa is overheard praising Tyche.

Monique is overheard praising Reigna.

Alarissa is overheard praising Reigna.

Alarissa is overheard praising Amari.

Monique is overheard praising Felicia.

Alarissa is overheard praising Ras.

Tyche is overheard praising Alarissa.

Alarissa is overheard praising Felicia.

Tyche is overheard praising Monique.

Felicia whistles and applauds for the three winners with a broad grin, not at all concerned that she failed to make the proverbial grade,"Nicely done, all. Certainly fodder to think about." she offers with a small salute offered,"And definitely an interesting game to play."

Monique is overheard praising Appolonia.

Alarissa is overheard praising Appolonia.

Alarissa is overheard praising Quenia.

Monique is overheard praising Ras.

Reigna moves over to Amari and claps her on the shoulder, "Congratulations, Amari. You have done Keaton so very proud." Reigna is beaming at her cousin, clearly feeling proud.

Felicia is overheard praising Amari.

Felicia is overheard praising Alarissa.

Felicia is overheard praising Monique.

Felicia is overheard praising Appolonia.

Felicia is overheard praising Quenia.

Ras scuffs back a step, dropping his feather-fiddling hand down in to hunch with the other in his jacket. He studies the finalists with a nod, and though his mouth presses in disappointment at his own positioning, there isn't a lot of surprise in his eyes. For a moment, his gaze lingers on Appolonia, and then he turns to walk over to the food stands and snoop regarding whatever might be available.

Alarissa is overheard praising Monique.

Ras is overheard praising Josephine(rip).

Reigna is overheard praising Monique.

Appolonia accepts her pin in silence and then dips into a deep swishing swirl of a curtsey. "Many thanks, my dear lady!" she says, before putting the pin in her decolletage - no, not literally, she put it on the outside for the moment. Otherwise it would be pokey.

Reigna is overheard praising Alarissa.

Reigna is overheard praising Amari.

Appolonia is overheard praising Ras: Remember, my dear fellow: Take everything!

Appolonia is overheard praising Alarissa: For an estimable rhetorical exercise. And it helps that I won! Though it helps me alone; the event is independent of me, at least for now.

Niklas stands and applauds for the winners. "I look forward to seeing you all in the finals," he calls out, giving a smile with the same curve and edge of an axe.

Amari bows her head humbly and respectfully to Alarissa when she accepts her pin, but the solemnity in her expression fades when she lifts her eyes again. "Thank you, Your Highness." There's a dip of her head and smile of gratitude for Monique and Sebastian as well, before Reigna's clapping her on the shoulder. She pulls her into a quick hug, "Thank you. You did so well, and Felicia-" She turns to find the Harrow and grin at her. "Well done, Dame Harrow."

Sebastian is overheard praising Amari.

Sebastian is overheard praising Appolonia.

Sebastian is overheard praising Quenia.

Sebastian makes to stand as the winners are announced, each of them receiving a thunderous round of applause from the Pravosi Prince, his gaze touching all of them with approving nods.

Quenia seemed, for a moment, like she was certain she didn't pass this final round, until Alarissa is handing her the brooch. "Oh! Oh! I made it!" She exclaims, genuinely happy. She takes the pin from Alarissa like it is the tiny prize that it is, and carefully clutches it, with a slight hint of relief on her brow.

Felicia chuckles,"Well done yourself, my lady. I can think of worse people to lose to." the knight offers with a cheeky smile,"I think you all gave me a few things to think about when it comes to being a wise ruler... and that? Is always valuable... even if it shows my own shortcomings right now." she clears her throat,"Congratulations. I'll be cheering for you in the finals, Lady Keaton."

Ras might not have won a brooch, but as he moves to skulk away off the field, he's snagged himself two pastries from the food stand and had a chat (with the commoner manning the stand) about a certain late jeweler honored by this year's games.

"You've chosen your patron well." Amari intones a bit too solemnly to be taken entirely seriously as she waves after the departing Reigna and turns again to Felicia. A smile soon follows, and an invitation is given, "Let's meet for tea soon, shall we? Marie makes an exceptional walnut cake you might like."

Monique catches sight of Niklas in the crowd and picks her way over, stopping to murmur something quietly to the Grayson Prince

Niklas starts for the exit, but slows when Monique speaks to him. For a moment his eyes flick to her necklace, with its thirteen blood red tourmalines, and his face pales. Though he shakes his head after a moment and replies to her.

"Can't say my taste for cake is of any great measure, admittedly, but I'll give it a try." Felicia chuckles,"And that last speech will probably haunt me long after I've returned to the Wheel, my lady... very well done." she stretches absently,"I suppose I might have done less awfully if I had actually put an effort into learning some more of the particulars that the rest of you spoke about. I admittedly usually leave the diplomacy to my brother, however." she grimaces briefly.

Sebastian strides over towards where the contestants are gathered. "Well done, to all of you, and especially you, Lady Amari, Lady Appolonia," he nods approvingly to each. "I have to be off, but I just wanted to wish you all well." He pauses, briefly, bending to murmur something to Amari. His expression is amused, smiling easily before nods his head to the rest and slips off into the crowd.

Appolonia dips a curtsey to Sebastian, and she says to him, as she touches her collarbone once more, "Oh, of course. I look forward to it. Thank you so terribly much for your kind words." After this she pivots round and maneuevers somewhat nearer to Felicia: "Pardon me but I could not help but hear: something about cake?"

Sebastian has left the Tournament of Thorns - Front Row Bleachers.

Briar, a quiet young woman, 2 Pravus Honor Guard, Intruder, a juvenile Oakhaven bloodhound leave, following Sebastian.

Felicia laughs and nods her chin Amari's way,"Lady... Seraceni, I believe? Lady Keaton was speaking of walnut cake. I have raw walnuts with me, if you like them...?" she digs out the bag from her cincture and offers it over,"I am no baker, however... and maintain that any cake I'd create likely should be registered as a poison."

"Well, if you'd ever like to practice." Amari offers before pausing to tilt her hear up to Sebastian's murmur. She arches an eyebrow at him lightly, as if more amused than suspicious and is returning her attention to Felicia, just as the question of cake is posed. Appolonia is smiled brightly at, "Well, it's more the walnuts are sprinkled on top? The rest is sort of a honey cake. You'd have to try it really, I feel I'm doing a poor job of selling it." She takes a breath, exhales softly and begins anew with a nod to Appolonia, "Well done, by the way. Congratulations."

"I will have both the nuts and the cake, and then the two in combination, quite joyously," Appolonia says. ANd then she beams at Amari: "Oh thank you! I did my best, and I thought you were taking a very clear and direct line of argument at the end there. You embellished, but not without value."

"Admittedly, I can't think of myself trying to practice without feeling like I am making a fool of myself." Felicia admits with a wry smile,"And okay, honey cakes are generally good. I'd try it either way... it's just not something I got a particular taste for." she gives a rustle of the bag and offers it up in Appolonia's direction,"But of course I will try so as to not make an embarressment of myself down the track." she grins brightly at Amari.

Waldemai finishes his ale and slips off into the distance.

Waldemai has left the Tournament of Thorns - Nosebleed Bleachers.

Monique's conversation with Niklas is still held in low tones, the Minx looking unwontedly sober for such a festive occasion.

Niklas looks briefly alarmed by something Monique tells him.

"Just cake then, and I won't ambush you with questions on proper governance while you're trying to eat it, Dame Felicia." Amari replies lightly, and amiably. The Seraceni lady is also given an invitation, "We did take different tacts. I'm not against education, for the record. I have a feeling we'd have quite a lot to discuss, if I can lure you over on the promise of that cake. You're more than welcome to visit."

"Don't think of yourself so poorly," Appolonia says, reaching into the bag. "I can tell you that any errors you make are part of a purification process. Have you ever looked at how they refine metal from ore? So it is with mastery and mistakes. Get the mistakes out, and mastery is what is left!"

That may or may not make sense.

"Mmmm, you do tempt me," Appolonia says as she bites into a nut.

"Oh now then, but learning how to deal with a good ambush is part of these things... isn't it?" Felicia enquires with a grin, her eyes flitting briefly in the direction of Monique and Niklas. Appolonia's words distract her attention back with a laugh, however, and a wag of the finger not holding the bag is offered her way,"I've already heard your sweet words... you certainly know how to appeal to a knight my lady. The two of you together may well give me nightmares unto my dying breath."

"I'll be waiting to jump out of the bushes and challenge you over taxation rates then." Amari promises before having a look about, and noticing the thinning crowd and that though Barf is still next to her, Marigold has since wandered off. Her eyes widen a moment and a look of apology follows for both the women, "I suppose I should get my dogs home, and my goat is... somewhere. Apologies. It was lovely to see you both."

Monique murmurs something to Niklas, and there's a chuckle that follows on its heels, and then the Minx steps back, dipping him a low curtsey. "I wish you luck on your Path," she offers, more audibly.

"Ah, but you must ride a steed at your rank in life," Appolonia tells Felicia, "and a knight's mare is as good as a gelding, isn't it?"

She bites into the nut, perhaps awaiting the imminent storm of disfavor and ill repute.

Niklas offers Monique a brief bow, which is more than he gives most people being the snippy artist he is, and says, "And I on yours, Monique." He gives her a chagrined smile, then starts for the exit, offering a wave to Appolonia and Felicia on his way toward the road.

Niklas has left the Tournament of Thorns - Mid Bleachers.

Sam, who is a boy and definitely not a princess in disguise leaves, following Niklas.

Felicia rises to her feet to offer Amari a respectful bow,"My lady... I will come and see you soon." she asserts, then with a pause asks,"Unless you needed escort home now?" with a loft of her brow. Her attention flits over Monique on her way to Appolonia with a cheshire smile,"Actually, I prefer a stallion. Heightened aggression over mare's or geldings... at least in the case of Wrecking Ball, but a little worse behaved for it. Rulership, from what I've seen, is less forgiving of mistakes than tempering or riding, however. So hopefully I can get the worst of them out of the way when there's only my household I am responsible for."

Monique watches Niklas depart and then turns back to the gathering, summoning the good cheer that departed her momentarily as she slips up next to the champions who remain. "Ladies, might I offer my congratulations a final time? It was masterfully done. And Dame Felicia, a radiant beauty, as always. I still dream of our kiss, you know."

"Only if you're leaving now yourself, otherwise, I'll see you soon." Amari replies and she seems about set to go when Monique approaches with her congratulations and mention of a kiss she still dreams about. Her head slowly swivels back around so she can fix a stare on Felicia that last a few moments before she just nods a little, as if she can totally see the the potential there after all. She still can't help but laugh softly all the same. "As always." She agrees, before nodding to the Minx, "Thank you, Lady Monique. It seems this was the path for me, not Courtship. I haven't your seductive allure. Maybe one day, if I practice." She lifts a hand to wave to the trio then starts off.

"I will accept it, and give you, with it, my gratitude," Appolonia says to Monique.

And to Felicia, she says, "That's an estimable name for a horse. I hope he doesn't wreck too many of them. And it's true - the ship of state is a complex beast, and that means it is hard to be sure which way to steer it..."

2 Keaton Huntsmen, Marigold, a cheeky pygmy goat, River, a happy Oakhaven bloodhound, Barf, the Bog Dog, Bandit, a dapple gray Duskshire feral, Clerk Kant, a mild-mannered assistant leave, following Amari.

Felicia turns at least three shades of crimson and clears her throat,"I... uh... yes, Lady Greenmarch, hello... and you are still a wicked Minx, I see." the wry smile isn't likely to make her color any less obvious for all the attempts to pretend its not present,"Eclipsed as I am by the three of you." and not bothered by that in the slightest. Scanning the grounds for potential missing goats is totally just... coincidentally giving her an excuse to look anywhere but at any of them,"He's getting on a bit... Wrecking Ball, that is, but can still hold his own on the field. I'll be sad when it's time to retire him, as my funds certainly can't match the kings coffers to find a replacement."

"You'll just have to orchestrate treason and take over then," Monique teases Felicia with a very wicked smile, waving to Amari as she departs, and ducking her bright head to Appolonia. "I absolutely accept your gratitude, though really, it's the Committee doing most of the heavy lifting, I promise. I just flit around and wear shiny jewels," she grins, waving a hand.

"Someone has to do it," Appolonia says, reaching up to lightly jingle her earrings on the right side. "It might as well be you, don't you think?"

Back to Felicia, she scoffs lightly. Then she says, "Couldn't you have him, what's the word, do the... I don't want to say it, but you'll get a foal out of it, given time and good horse health."

"Were I to live to be a thousand... I should like to think I would not repeat past mistakes." Felicia grunts,"I am still his majesty's loyal subject." it does serve to bring the Harrow's attention back to the pair, to fire a firm look at Monique particularly before she nods for Appolonia's suggestion,"A fair point, that."

Monique tips her head in accession to both women, her smile entirely unrepentant. "I'd better see to the setting up of the next Path game, if you ladies will excuse me. Have a wonderful evening!" And off she goes, slipping back into the crowd.

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