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Path of Courtship - Tournament of Thorns II

If you choose the path of courtship to secure your claim to the Throne of Aildorich, whosoever you choose as your intended will have the potential to strengthen, or weaken, your claim to the crown. Will you charm your intended directly to convince them of your suit? Will you outwit all the others clamoring for their affection? Or, will you choose the path of an arranged marriage and woo prickly potential parents to your cause?

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


March 20, 2020, 9 p.m.

Hosted By

Monique Sebastian


Merek Esme Ailith Lucrezia Raya Cornelius Dante Ysabel Malesh Juliana Zoey



Arx - Ward of the Compact - Judgment Green

Largesse Level


Comments and Log

Ailith has joined the long bench.

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

Zoey has joined the long bench.

Lucrezia has joined the long bench.

Dante has joined the small circular table.

Ysabel has joined the long bench.

The mood is distinctly festive tonight, the final round of the Tournament of Thorns having started with a significant amount of food and plentiful drinks. Many are here to see the contenders as much to view their social skills as to have an idea who they might choose to place bets on for winning the final games come the morrow. Sebastian, dressed in silks and with a crown on his head, stands on the slightly raised dias in the middle of the Judgement Green, lifting his hands. His voice carries: "Contestants that wish to undertake the Path of Courtship will present themselves here to me, and make ready to undertake the challenge," he calls, nodding towards the bench on the dais.

Raya has joined the Tournament of Thorns - Food and Drink Stands.

Esme has joined the long bench.

Raya has left the Tournament of Thorns - Food and Drink Stands.

Raya has joined the long bench.

Merek makes his way into the place, while he has on his black and white attire, adjusted about him while the front tasset material and beltcape shift along his waist, taking the time to incline to Sebastian while he presents to the man. "I wish to participate!"

Merek has joined the long bench.

Esme comes into the area adjusting her seasilk gown, it looks at if she's actually putting it on as she enters. DON'T JUDGE HER! She's running her fingers through that auburn hair of hers and it magically and mystically just goes properly into place. Nobles suck sometimes. A slight flush on her cheeks as she's just gotten out of a dress and back into one. Which is true. She moves over and flops at a seat. "I hope there is wine. Is there wine?" Her eyes move towards Monique as she wiggles her fingers and then mouths something to her. A very very obvious wink sent to her. Although, she will attempt to find Sebastian to offer him a hug and air kisses before being a good girl and listening.

Bounding ahead, a hop and a faint limp to her step, the silver-shot muzzle of a fennec fox guides the Legate of Concepts through the crowd. Or rather, there's a faint helpless cry from Ailith as she tries to catch up -- people are in the way and the fennec fox slips between feet and legs with ease. "Marra," she squeaks, then politely excuses herself for nudging her way to the forefront, "I need that. Please if you could wait, it's..." Ailith bumps into Sebastian and immediately flushes. "My apologies, Your Highness! My companion seems to gave taken my thorns and," she gulps to glance around. Oh! It's the tourney and there's Dame Marra proudly seated on the long bench with her tail wagging as she releases a thorn from her teeth. Clank goes the faint thorny object and in a flush, Ailith snatches it sway to tuck within the secret panels of her robes. "That is um . . . not a real one. It's for something else. So uh um . . l suppose due to my rude entrance that I should abide by etiquette and enter so the host is not offended?" There's a faint whisper and a held breath as if hoping maybe that's not true, until she spots Monique and knows it is all over. The Legate takes a deep breath and quietly finds a spot to wait her turn and Dame Marra? Well the fennec fox sneaks off for other nocturnal fun.

Only weather and whim could tell why Lucrezia did anything, but they were holding their secrets close today. She steps up to the bench, not dressed in finery today, but her every day Captain coat and attire. Still she grins wide, cruel, and confident that she needs neither long hair nor frills to seduce whoever she may please. To her cousin, Sebastian, she nods that she would participate. "I am in."

Stonewood Clerk, 1 Bisland pride guards arrive, following Malesh.

Stonewood Clerk have been dismissed.

Malesh has joined the long bench.

Slard, a whip-scarred bodyguard arrives, following Cornelius.

Slard, a whip-scarred bodyguard leaves, following Cornelius.

Slard, a whip-scarred bodyguard arrives, following Cornelius.

There's certainly plenty of wine to be had, although for once Sebastian isn't imbibing. He seems to know almost all the contestants, and despite appearances each of them are given individual greetings: Merek receives a nod and a gesture to the bench, Esme's hug is taken with an easy laugh, Ailith regarded in surprise and a quietly amused: "The Legate can speak up after all. I was afraid you'd lost your voice after the auction." He's soon distracted by Lucrezia's approach though, the sight of his cousin earning a low-throated laugh of surprise and delight. "I'm so glad you're here, cousin," he says indicating for her to join the bench with the others.

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

Sister Raya parts her way through the crowd with soft smiles and amiable greetings. Clad in wheat-golden seatouched wool, her hair worn up in neat twists, the Godsworn looks as stylish as ever despite the relative simplcity of her attire. She nods to Sebastian as she dips into a light and graceful curtsy, then announces, "I would like to undertake the challenge." With that said, she finds a place to stand, offering more pleasant smiles to her fellow competitors, with additional curtsies given when required.

Monique is there, standing just behind and to the right of the Pravus Prince, looking as shiny as she always does, wearing a King's ransom in jewels, her fiery hair brushed to a glossy, tumbling sheen. There's the brightest of smiles on her carmine lips as she catches the eye of Esme, winking. "Wine! Perish the thought. I knew I should have forbidden it from this Tournament. Tch, Lady Esme! If you didn't have such excellent taste in jewels, I'd be wroth with you." But Ailith makes for a lovely distraction and Monique turns that way, "Legate Ailith! I was hoping I wouldn't have to come and drag you out! Of course you'll enter!" Because Minxes say so.

Cornelius arrives with an amused expression upon his weathered features, a hand tucked into the lapel of his longcoat, and sits in the front bleachers. His looming bodyguard Slard stands nearby.

Sliding in with Andre, the two murmuring between them, Dante smiles warmly at Monique and Ailith before taking a seat at a small table. He spots Esme and grins, "Cousin! I suppose I will have to be cheering you on. Well, you and the Legate." Afterwards, he pulls a bottle of wine from Andre's hand and waves it over at the Knight of Limerance - where the Minx cannot see it, hopefully, and has it secretly sent over with a wink.

Ysabel swiftly rushes through the green, a panicked look on her face and brows drawn down with deep worry. "Have I missed it?!" She calls out.

Esme beams at Monique as she tries to take in what all is going on. There is a decidedly feline manner to her. "You could never be wroth at me, I have splendid taste and frankly..." She bats her lashes at the woman. "I'm adorable." There's a wink before she offers though, "I could drink whiskey if you prefer. I learned how to drink it for a Redrain. Got over the Redrain, kept the whiskey. Fair trade perhaps?" Then she's looking at the others and offers in a sincere manner. "Good luck to all of you. You are all going to do so fabulous." She blows a kiss to Monique and then hears Dante. This causes that wild (yet oddly in place) hair of hers to swing around her shoulders. A full laugh as she gets the bottle from Dante. "You can cheer for me if you want to cheer for last place. I do /horrid/ at these, but they are amazing fun."

Sebastian moves in front of the bench with the challengers, lifting his hands to quiet the talking. "Welcome, Princes and Princesses of the realm," the Pravus Prince announces, with a tip of head to the group gathered before him. He half turns, his voice carrying out to the crowd as well. "And all our wonderful guests."

"Tonight, you have chosen the Path of Courtship in an attempt to prove yourself worthy of your claim to the Throne of Aildorich. Picking a spouse is no easy task: they can both strengthen and weaken your support, depending on who they are, the inherant power they provide, and their own skills. You may choose to charm them to win their hand, to outwit their many and varied suitors, or to petition their parents for their hand and the chance to raise them as your consort. But beware: failure to secure a marriage will see the end of your claim for the Throne. Pick your path wisely, Your Highnesses."

Ailith squeaks softly then shakes her head toward Dante. "My Lord that is awfully kind and upstanding of you. I am afraid my performance at this shall utterly cause laughter." Uncomfortable twitches follow while she studies the written rules in hand and the line to her brow deepens. She leans toward Raya, muttering, "Sister, which route shall you be choosing? I had thought of myself to try at this since I could unfurl an idea off the top of my head based on another couple. Seems it is not as entertaining as the hosts would expect." She chews on her lower lip then remarks brightly, noticing, "The ribbon work on your gown is very lovely. It reminds me of the patterns shone off the wheat at noontime."

Malesh is dressed again in his fancy polished armor, though he is not a warrior, as he attempts to get into the festivities of the less-than-serious tournament. He stands proud as a peacock with his spear used as a long walking stick, though it's clear he has little experience with actual posing, and thus everything he does is a crude aping of the professionals. Hopefull this is for laughs, as it would likely be very embarassing otherwise. Still might be.

Directed toward the other competitors, Ysabel attempts to smooth her hair and look presentable as she glances to the others as if judging her competition.

Juliana sits quietly in the stands watching. Why she is there is anyone's guess but there seems to be something about tonight that has sparked the Igniseri's interest.

Zoey sits on the bench with the other contestants, attentively listening to instructions. She smooths her velvet gown and looks to Sebastian.

"Thank you much, Legate." Raya's head tilt and smile are gracious and warmed by Ailith's compliment. "And of course, you always look splendid." As to the question of the path she might choose, Raya taps one finger against her chin before replying, "I think I might choose to win over the picky parents. That seems like the most peaceable option." Then with an encouraging grin, "I'm sure you'll do very well." Her's is an encouraging, soft tone.

Cornelius lounges back on the bleachers where he sits, and absentmindedly strokes a rod that hangs at his belt. He watches the contestants with a pleasant, interested smile. Ysabel, in particular, receives an extended assessment, and he calls with deep confidence, "Best of luck, Baroness Gilden!" Perhaps he has recognized her family looks.

Sebastian smiles as as he raises his voice. "First, we shall see how far those who have chosen charm will take them." His gaze turns to the competitors. "Do you have what it takes to secure a Royal spouse? A Duke or Duchess? Seducing a Count or Countess may prove an easier challenge, though their suit will not bring you as much power in your own quest. Now, should you dare to choose a commoner? It would be a controversial choice -- but last year's winner was successful with that very gambit, claiming the love of the people of Aildorich as a result."

Sebastian continues, "Consider your options -- look to the crowd for inspiration, tell us about your intended, and then make your pitch to your potential betrothed." He gestures, to invite each of the contestants to speak their pitches one by one. "Beware... those that fail to secure a match will be eliminated from the competition. Sir Merek, if you will."

Ysabel looks to the crown upon hearing her name, unsure of who called out. The Pravus Prince is speaking up though and Ysabel holds her breath, listening.

Zoey has joined the line.

Merek checked charm + performance at difficulty 30, rolling 7 higher.

Merek ahems, while he puts on his best face, then nods a bit to Sebastian. "I shall tell you a bit about my intended, a Countess," he says, then he's motioning to someone in the crowd of people, while he smiles a bit, "She is smart and beautiful, and will lead us all to a greater and worthy future." He speaks about it a bit, then he's back to the line.

Zoey checked charm + diplomacy at difficulty 50, rolling 3 lower.

Zoey has left the long bench.

Sebastian nods his head towards Merek as the knight returns to the line, then turns his gaze towards Zoey. The Kennex woman stands for a moment, then turns and leaves abruptly. There's a visible little wince from Sebastian -- not so obvious unless one is looking closely -- and he clears his throat. "Well. Next -- the Lady Esme Fidante?" he glances towards her.

Esme checked charm + diplomacy at difficulty 50, rolling 23 lower.

Esme comes to her feet and then considers. She's usually pretty charming but she winks towards Monique and Sebastian. "Let me tell you about my most delicious of suitors." She prowls out a little bit towards the crowd. She's peacocking and that part she probably has done. "I intend to wed Prince Sebast-- I mean.. Stephen. I mean.." She makes a face and then looks at Sebastian and then Monique. "Princess Moniq.. wait, she's not a princess. Uggggh.. all these title changes." Then she snaps her fingers and beams. "I'm going to marry the most beautiful woman in all the realms." She pauses as someone tries to tell her something, "No.. I got it this time. I do." A toss of those red locks. "Her Highness, /Princess/ Lucrezia.." There is a pause as someone whisper about maybe NOT calling the Princess by her title. Esme just waves her hands in the air. "Nevermind, if I'm not marrying the Pravus' present or Monique. I'm out." She takes her bottle of wine and drinks straight from it.

Ailith is overheard praising Esme.

Lucrezia checked charm + seduction at difficulty 50, rolling 48 higher.

"No, Slard," states Cornelius, loud enough to be overheard, with some annoyance. His bodyguard has just bent and whispered something in his ear. "You are excessively ugly and will certainly lose," lectures the Blackshore lord. "Look at what happened to that beautiful young woman. You must know your limitations." Poor Slard straightens, bald head flushed red with shame, and watches Esme's bottle of alcohol wistfully.

Monique's laughter resounds and there's a shake of her flame-bright head, the dancing of her emerald eyes as she holds up her hands. "I'm afraid I make a terrible wife," she asides, to the humor of those who know.

Raya is overheard praising Esme: Spirited and bold oratory!

Ailith cheers a little of encouragement for Esme. "My Lady, your heart was in the right place. That was the sweetest, though we know who holds your heart in the greatest esteem - Limerance, our God of Love. So it wouldn't be right to pick another." She dips her head, bowing respectfully.

Juliana is overheard praising Esme.

Juliana is overheard praising Sebastian.

It's hard to tell whether Sebastian is keeping track of the whiplash that is Esme's many and varied suitors. His mouth parts, and eventually there's just a brief, soft laugh, a bow of his head as if in salute to the Fidante woman.

Dante is overheard praising Esme: My very smooth-tongued cousin!

Raya applauds gently at Esme's attempt, the Sister's eyes glinting and crinkling at the corners as she smiles in benevolent amusement.

Oh, those *Fidante*! Since announcing her intent to join, Lucrezia has been posed at one end of the bench, a booted foot propped on top of it as if on the railing of a ship. Though she has been watching all other competition with intensity, there is not seduction but murder in her gaze as Esme calls her Princess with that emphasis. Not to be rattled, she shoves off the bench with her boot and turns to the crowd, grinning wide and cutting a commanding air in her slender coat. "I have heard there's a Duke Hotness. I want him. So I shall have him. Why?

"Not only is he hot as his name promises, but he is a true hero of the land, just like my father. I do not waste my time with his parents or spearing him with my wit." Her grin becomes almost soft, making the cruel cut of her features shockingly attractive. "I will take him with my charm. As I have *all* my crew. Or he will rue it." Oh that charm cuts.

Sebastian is overheard praising Esme.

Ailith checked charm + diplomacy at difficulty 50, rolling 34 higher.

Esme is overheard praising Merek.

Merek is overheard praising Esme.

Merek is overheard praising Zoey.

Merek is overheard praising Ailith.

Esme is overheard praising Lucrezia: All praise the /Princess/ Lucrezia for her seduction, her crew, her knowledge of knots, her cruel beauty. Did we mention her knowledge of 'knots'?

Raya is overheard praising Merek.

From somewhere there is a long whistle, one of those wolf whistles that are almost catcalls. Okay, it's a catcall. It's a Fidante making a catcall for Lucrezia. "Yeah, Princess. Take no prisoners. You get that man. You get you a Duke." She will move on the couch to flop closer to Sebastian and Monique. "Don't worry, Sebs. I still intend to marry you first. Once I shatter your resolve, your mind and well your basic will to live." She winks and offers the bottle. "Drink?" Then her head tips to look at Monique. "You. Until I'm wed then.. well you know. Limerance and all." She will move for whiskey bottle next. Out of the running, but not out of the commentary. Marek is given a cheer too, mainly becasue she thinks it's the most she's ever heard him talk.

Raya is overheard praising Lucrezia: Now that is how one properly wears a coat.

Merek is overheard praising Lucrezia: My vote is on her, even if I'm competing.

Malesh checked composure + propaganda at difficulty 40, rolling 21 higher.

Between the applause for the Knight of Devotions and a whisper for the Sister of Fashion and Charm, the Legate halfway forgot that there's a tournament requiring her participation -- or rather that it is now her turn. Flummoxed with a stark shine to her blue eyes, the Legate of Concepts absently tucks aside her chestnut locks behind her ear, revealing the tips of those lobes subtly brightened in pink shades.

She steps forward to bow before the assembly. "Even in the spirit of such a game, it would not feel comfortable or right of me to pretend at finding a spouse. Instead, I shall speak well of a Princess, one who loves as fiercely and proudly as the fealties in which she married -- Princess Marion Redrain. By sword and wit, she has found ways to respect both thr Oathlands and Northlands to find their commonalities and differences -- for what is a marriage even between fealties without a spark of changes and challenges? Her honor is without measure and her fist is mightier than most. And if you seek one who would celebrate through the night and passionately awaken you to newfound discoveries and adventures-- she is one to ask. But be wary, it will take more than mere asking. Our fair and strong Princess is no damsel in distress and would need one of equal caliber or equal resolve to be the rock and foundation for her heart. I am thankful to have known her and equally grateful for her aid when the Faith has called."

"Congratulations to those successful at securing a spouse through charm." Sebastian gives a supportive nod of his head to each of them, and a wry one for Esme, though he shakes his head at the offer of drink. What a shocking turn of events! The Pravosi Prince is instead addressing the crowd. "That leaves the most fearsome path of all, the path of the overprotective parent. Do you have the composure necessary to secure a betrothal whilst being stared down by the gimlet eye of Countess Marisca? We shall see."

"Approach the Countess," Sebastian gestures to Lady Monique -- who has has not warned about this -- to indicate that she will play said part, "And make your pitch for the hand of her son or daughter. Marquis Malesh."

Esme is overheard praising Ailith: That's right, you send them to a fierce woman. Prove your Devotions people. Get through the Princess. Get through life.

Raya checked composure + diplomacy at difficulty 40, rolling 0 higher.

Malesh steps forth and speaks with a booming voice that is fitting for his height, though perhaps a bit more than his width has earned him. "Oh wise countess, thank you so much for your time, as a Marquis of a large and wealthy March I know well the struggles of leadership of a house." He closes in, his gregariousness fading as he lays a gauntleted hand on her shoulder, leaning in to speak with her more privately. His gestures are anything but private though, leaning in close and then standing up straight and tall, oh so tall. He sweeps his spear around wildly and must certainly be spinning a wild yarn to her about his viability as a husband.

Cornelius is overheard praising Malesh: The man has an incredible spear.

There's visible approval in the Greenmarch's eyes when Ailith speaks of her sister so warmly, and it's clear that this is certainly one way to the Minx's heart. And possibly to points. But Monique's laughter sparkles in her eyes as Sebastian nominates her to be a parent, likely for the first and only time in her life. She steps forth, looking disapproving and attractive, all at the same time as she faces Malesh. "Hmm." She listens to the story, judging. Then she sweeps his form. "Hmm." She takes in his spear. "Hmmmmm." There's a look to Sebastian, and a final nod. "Acceptable."

Esme is overheard praising Malesh: Good attempt, solid structure. Great height. Small detail -- he's married! Off with his head! Or you know, he could be useful. Fine. Let the sexy beast pass.

Merek is overheard praising Malesh.

Ysabel checked composure + diplomacy at difficulty 40, rolling 16 higher.

Esme tips her head to attempt to listen, but she's probably not getting anything. "He forgot to mention his wife, Marquessa of Fierce delight, but he's a tall drink of water. Spouses can be.." NO. Her eyes show that no. As if her brain is still engaged and stops the rest of the words as she silently and politely claps for him as she offers the rest of the phrase to Monique.

Stepping forward after giving gentle applause to the previous competitors, Raya comes to stand before the Countess and dips into a light, elegant curtsy. When she stands, she folds her hands in front of her body, and quirks up a warm, balmly smile that edges with a touch of sheepish amusement. When she begins, she speaks in a voice both calm and soft, but without much dazzle behind it. "As with Legate Ailith, I could not in good conscience take upon the guise of a prospective suitor." The graceful Sister flashes a grin. "Unlike Legate Ailith, I cannot muster much in the way of eloquence in this moment. I am dazzled." The Godsworn lifts a hand and earnestly notes, "I can only speak on behalf of another in seeking your child's hand in marriage. I would urge you, Countess, to consider the young man or woman whose family is of small means, but of great Faith. The one who might not be blessed with dazzling wit, or with fine pedigree, or with great beauty, but one who will be a devoted and considerate spouse. Beauty fades, money and title can be lost, and we all age in time, but kindness, piety and a good heart are worth more than gold in a world that can at times be unjust and cruel." With one final, earnest smile and a polite curtsy, Raya backs away and returns to the place she stood before.

As each of the contestants comes forth, Sebastian regards them keenly. If he's keeping track of any kind of score, it isn't obvious, though his assistant Briar hovers closely at his elbow all the same. Monique's acceptance of the Marquis earns a smile, and he turns his gaze to Raya.

From his spot at the table, Dante claps for all of the competitors, but Esme gets especially raucous applause as she utterly fails in such a spirited way. "Cousin, remind me to get you more wine for that, it was truly inspired. Well done, I'm proud of you." The beautiful appeals made by Sister Raya and Legate Ailith are downright touching, and he reacts with a stunned expression, perhaps wiping away a slight tear from the feels elicited by the two Godsworn.

It's the single compliment in there that has the 'Countess' nodding Raya through to the next round. Really, the vanity of Monique is legend. "I suppose I shall give to them my youngest son, whose like for wine is telling enough. He can be spared."

Ailith is overheard praising Raya.

Raya is overheard praising Ailith.

Raya is overheard praising Malesh.

She will woo the parents. Oh yes. Ysabel smooths her hair, thumb pressed to her tongue to wet it so she press down an errant cowlick at her temple. There's a deep breath and she steps forward from her spot on the bench. Confidence in her voice, she raises it so it can carry across the green as she approaches Sebastian and Monique.

"Do you want your son to be King? Because of all those here, there is no doubt that I will make such a thing happen." Up she lifts her chin, attempting to look so serious for a moment but it's clear to see that such a thing is perhaps just outside of her wheelhouse and she falls back to how she can best wield her diplomatic skills. "The other woo, they can't remember who it is of your children or even you that you want to marry. They talk privately and quietly, hiding away what they would do. Is that appropriate? Why the subterfuge? Devotion is fine, but devotion will not bring prosperity and feed the people of yours and my eventual lands. I will speak plainly then. I come with land, and will gain more land. I come with the skills to bring further prosperity to your house and my eventual house. A drive and dedication that will enable treaties to be formed with other countries and peoples that will benefit us first and foremost. Trade that will allow you to adorn yourself in beautiful things." Ysabel starts to pace, hands rising and falling with her words, forefinger punching the air. "Children will come that can be raised to provide further connection with other stronger houses as well!" Ysabel comes to a stop once more and stands up straight. "Let me wed your son. Let me build us a dynasty!" Then she stands there, licking her lips and glancing between the two.

1 Farshaw novice guards arrives, following Ciaran.

Merek has joined the line.

Lucrezia has joined the line.

Esme looks at her wine bottle. Then she looks at Monique. Then she looks at her wine bottle. Then back to Monique. "You better be glad you are hot." She's not all compliments Esme. She's full in feline mode. "Because wine shots are just wro-- actually.." She considers the bottle. "They might be a good idea." There may be some whispers to the "Countess' as people enter and attempt it.

Ysabel has joined the line.

There's a decided gleam in Monique's greedy eyes. It's /very/ clear that Ysabel has just spoken directly to her heart, and there's not even a heartbeat's pause before the 'Countess' nods. "My eldest son, you shall have, my dear, and pray you make good on your words, for I like them /very/ much."

Raya is overheard praising Ysabel.

Ailith has joined the line.

Esme is overheard praising Raya: Yay faith. It's the cornerstone of the oath of marriage. You build that fondation. You get that house.

Esme is overheard praising Ysabel: Oooh, Dynasty. That's right. Build it girl. Why stop at a family when you can lead generations? This girl is thinking long game. We love the long game.

Cornelius is overheard praising Ysabel: Acute.

Malesh has joined the line.

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

Slard, a whip-scarred bodyguard have been dismissed.

Raya has joined the line.

Sebastian's definitely enjoying himself, watching Monique play the Countess. He looks somewhat approving of Ysabel's ambition, smiling brightly when the 'Countess' indicates her acceptance. He pauses to accept a note from Briar, smiling. "We have Princess Lucrezia in the lead, closely followed by Legate Ailith, Marquis Malesh, Baroness Ysabel, Sister Raya and Sir Merek. Congratulations to all for securing your spouses."

"You have made it to the next round, and to help secure your throne... you must marry your intended. That too, is a decision that must be weighed carefully." The Prince's lips curve, as if he finds it amusing, his gaze shifting back towards the contestants. "Do you choose to spend lavishly, holding the greatest wedding the people of Aildorich have seen -- an event that will be talked about for decades -- one which might impact your treasury, but will indicate a wealth that you will foster amongst the people? Or do you intend something more intimate and exclusive -- preferring to spend the funds on your future Kingdom and the people themselves?

"It is time to decide how you and your spouse will be presented to the world now that you are united," Sebastian says. "Step forth, Your Highnesses, and describe the details of your wedding to all."

Turn in line: Merek

Merek checked intellect + haggling at difficulty 30, rolling 4 lower.

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.

Merek lifts up both hands, then nods a bit, "We need to save money, and have a small wedding. The smallest wedding, in fact, I have decided upon no rings, instead our marriage will be determined by these cheap brooches I bought."

Malesh checked intellect + economics at difficulty 40, rolling 17 higher.

Turn in line: Lucrezia

Lucrezia checked perception + haggling at difficulty 30, rolling 20 lower.

Raya checked intellect + economics at difficulty 30, rolling 9 lower.

Ysabel checked intellect + economics at difficulty 40, rolling 26 higher.

"Why isn't there a neither option? There ought to be! All the money goes to-- No?" Lucrezia asks the question sharply as if her intended spouse and her are talking out arrangements. "You want me to be put on display for the people." Ut oh, this wasn't going to go well! Up comes that chin and the piratess' terrible temper. "Small or I refuse!" Turns out she should have just allowed herself to get stuffed in a dress... Alas, missed opportunities.

Turn in line: Ysabel

Esme listens to Merek and presses her lips together. There is a soft clap. She's not in the running, but she's running commentary. In fact, one might notice she's giving a comment to Monique after everyone speaks. "Cheap. That gets you chicks. Get it.. cheep? Like the sound of..." She just sighs. Then there is Lucrezia. "/Your Highness/..." Yeah, that's still happening. There are witnesses. Murders happen in the dark. "You should have it grand. Wear something pink and frilly. With lots of lacy and puff. Like a ballgown. It would make you look like a cloud. A fierce, princess cloud."

As Sebastian watches each of the contestants step forward and state their plans for their weddings, there's a myriad of expressions on the Pravus artist's face. Merek's elicits a half-wince, that he covers up with a lift of his hand as if covering a soundless cough. Lucrezia's is met with a wide-eyed regard, as if this might be some image of the at-some-point-in-the-future he may witness for real, clearing his throat afterwards.

Oh! It's her turn again! ysabel's bounding forward till she comes to rest on her heels. She faintly rocks side to side that you don't know if she really is or not. "Small weddings are for people who do not want to promot prosperity! You have to spend money to make money and to gain the confidence of your people! If you have a small wedding, what does that say about you! Very little." She taps the side of her nose with a smile. "But a big wedding. It screams money, prosperity, wealth and success! So there will be a large wedding, the largest seen. The finest foods laid out for the guests to enjoy and all may know the largess that my knowledge and personal success will bring. The prosperity that awaits them should I be made the Queen. Wrong." Ysabel straightens. "When I am MADE the queen."

Turn in line: Ailith

Ailith checked intellect + economics at difficulty 40, rolling 36 lower.

The two godsworn sit closest to another and the Legate keenly observes how the participants fare. The corners of her lips twitch as she chuckles, delighting in the shared amusements, and oh-OH silently when economic points are profoundly made clear -- new lessons learned. Ailith rises to stand before the gathering and smiles sheepishly. "My apologies must be put forth for I rely greatly upon the wisdom of my brethren. They say in leadership one should trust in each other for it takes more than one to grow and nurture a community. The wisdom I share is by my knowledge of Princess Marion and what I've gleamed over the years from Blessed Etienne and my protege, Blessed Astrid." Her fingers lace together, held softly at her waist. "If we speak of a wedding in these current times, then Princess Marion would ask for an economically reasonable one but also one suitable to raise morale. Her heart is for her people about to engage in battles and as a General, she knows the worth of every soldier. She would prefer silver be spent to better equip them so those soldiers can return home and know no the pain of heartbreak and trauma from the death of a spouse. Her family would see for their dear Princess if her heart was won once more, for after two marriages who'd ever force the expectations of noble unions and would permit the choice of love, they'd wish for her heart to be reborn and embrace in the joy of celebration. And so, I must say it would be lavish in that the wedding will have whiskey and merriments but the large scale of silver is donated toward charity, her people and their militaries."

Turn in line: Malesh

Esme is watching this and studies Ysabel. "You have such great ideas!" The comment is sincere but so is the other one given to Monique. She finds the bottle of wine is empty and indicates to Dante that she needs another one. Then shows the wine bottle to Monique. "Since I'm not even worthy of the youngest child in this game. You leave my wine alone." Then there is the comment about Marian. It doesn't seem to be swaying, but Esme doesn't have commentary. So maybe that's a good thing. "Maybe I should swing by the shrine." And feel bad for her loss.

Malesh nods a few times as he steps forward, standing there just a breath in his best impression of a jaunty pose. "To be frugal is a virtue, but weddings are not just for the families of the nobels so betrothed. No. They created a bond between two houses and it's important for the vassals and the people to see that the union is strong. That can be shown with a large event, food and drink and dance for all the people, a guest list which names those dis-invited rather than those invited as to produce a shorter list. The largest of halls of course, with a grand stair and a grander hall so the groom doesn't have to duck through the doorway... and a ring, yes a ring so expensive as to assure the people that even in the harshest of times, their economic succes shall percivere..." A clever way to suggest you can always pawn an expensive ring to feed some people.

Turn in line: Raya

Esme writes something on a piece of paper, shows Monique, and sends off her bird.

Stepping forward again, Raya flashes a very wholesome smile as she clasps her hands over her heart. "You know, you can make some pretty party decorations out of satin ribbons and a variety of commonly found household objects. And what about a second-hand wedding dress? And if you decide to trim back your feast a few courses, you could save a bit of coin. What better way to honour the wedding of your child than giving this coin to the people, in helping those less fortunate?" The tone of the suggestions are earnest, but she doesn't beleabour the point before taking ehr place again.

Happiness, a bluebird arrives, delivering a message to Malesh before departing.

Sebastian is handed another note by Briar, and he doesn't bother to hide his surprise at what he sees. "And things have changed significantly after that round. It seems the judges have favored some of your pitches for weddings more so than others. We have Baroness Ysabel now leading, with Marquis Malesh close behind, Princess Lucrezia, Legate Ailith, Sister Raya and Sir Merek."

"Well, Your Highnesses -- you've wed, some in better circumstances than others. Now, though is the time to find out whether your choices have paid off in support of your claim. Are the courtiers, the Queen, and the people pleased? Who do they feel is the best candidate to put forth for the Throne of Aildorich?" Making a grand gesture to the crowd, the Pravus Prince states, "It is time for you to speak to the people and seek their responses, Your Highnesses. Address the crowd, seek their approval and praise, and you may just secure yourself an opportunity at the Crown."

Turn in line: Merek

Raya checked charm + propaganda at difficulty 30, rolling 49 higher.

Malesh checked charm + propaganda at difficulty 30, rolling 27 higher.

Ailith checked command + propaganda at difficulty 30, rolling 29 higher.

Merek checked charm + propaganda at difficulty 30, rolling 3 lower.

Lucrezia checked charm + propaganda at difficulty 30, rolling 86 higher. Lucrezia rolled a critical!

Ysabel checked command + propaganda at difficulty 30, rolling 27 lower.

1 Farshaw novice guards have been dismissed.

Merek looks between the people, and nods a bit, "We want to get your approval, even though I spent all of the funds on building a nice statue of two men running from mice," he says. That's his pitch.

Turn in line: Lucrezia

Sebastian squints a little at Merek, as if to say, /that's all/? When he doesn't continue, the Prince exhales a little noise, and glances sidelong at Esme. She still has that wine, right? He's going to steal her glass, if so.

Lucrezia stands still a moment, flat out staring at Merek. Maybe she's unexpectedly sold on that statue. "Are they naked?" She would ask that, out loud. AHEM

Realizing that it's her turn, she looks upon the crowd once more. "I may not be pretty as you like, I may not like dresses, actually I loathe them, but everything I aim to do, I will do." With a smile like a cat that has already eaten the mouse and isn't going to tell, she says, "You may not even like *how* I get it done, but you will never be able to argue that it didn't work."

Turn in line: Ysabel

Ailith is overheard praising Lucrezia.

She's leading. Ysabel leaps up from the benches, full of even more excitement. She bounds forward with a dip to Lucrezia as she goes. Pride just oozes from her. But that which comes up, must come down and as Ysabel opens her mouth to speak, a hand goes to her stomach and her face drops. Oh it drops. All that excitement converts to so much horror as hands clap over her mouth with a small sob and she looks for a place of privacy. A small tent set up for any number of needs is spotted and the Baroness runs as fast as her feet can carry her with tears in her eyes. There will be no speaking for her. She's losing whatever she ate before coming here.

Turn in line: Ailith

As the potential candidates are slowly whittled down, Dante gives his cousin a furtive wink as a bottle of wine is snuck over via Andre. Merek's statement just gets a vaguely confused expression and a shake of the head, while Lucrezia's forceful statement strikes the Marquis with awe, quickly sitting up straight. "Now there's a contender," he murmurs to Monique, but then waits enthusiastically for Ailith's appeal after Ysabel goes to lose her lunch in a hurry.

Sebastian's coughing, not laughing, at Lucrezia's question. Really. He doesn't even seem to notice that the Baroness Ysabel has has run off.

Esme still has wine and a bottle. She hands it up to Sebastian. Then she just stares at Malesh for a moment. Then her bird. Then the man. A soft hurmph and she offers another comment to Monique. She claps for the people's attempts though.

Ailith waits for her turn and neatly folds her hands. "The simplest of reasons that any couple should need is the approval by the Faith. A contract well favored wins the hearts and assurances by the peerage and people. For without the sacred oaths said before the gods and held in respect of fidelity to Limerance, how valid is your word without Faith? Princess Marion is unquestionably a woman of honor and oaths. And if there are any devotions in the crowd, you may have heard the courtly love songs during her marriages. Another would be as robust and lively, likely to spill a tear or two -- or cause joyous laughter during celebratory games and bawdy toasts in the couple's name. It would be a time for memories, ever lasting and ever hopeful to fondly know what love and fidelity is. So toss a coin to your courtiers and bards, the devotions of Limerance, for it is they who shall pen and praise our spirited Princess of Redrain." And with a distracted and concerned glance to the tent, she quietly veers over to the tent to look in on Ysabel and whispers as she offers to tend to any needs.

Turn in line: Malesh

Turn in line: Raya

Merek nods a bit to Lucrezia, "They can be, with classic style," to the question of naked statues!

Esme hops up in the next minute. "Speaking of naked, I should take off this dress and show you the Talia one! Ugh, why did I not think of that?" She's off the couch. Okay, she's really rolled over the back of it and there may be some naked time back there as she's trying to get a different dress on. There is a toss of autumn dyed seasilk over Sebastian's lap before she presents. "Ta-da" This is more to Monique as she realizes she should show this off. Then she pushes some grass and such from her hair.

Sebastian gratefully takes Esme's offered glass, drinking deeply now as he watches closely each contender as their put forth their pitch for the approval of the audience -- with some eliciting more cheering than others. The sudden throw of Esme's dress over him is taken in stride enough to suggest it's not the first ever time it's happened to him, carefully giving the dress into Briar's care.

Lucrezia smiles widely at Merek's answer. "I approve, sounds as if there's an amusing story behind the statue."

Juliana has taken a few messages, written a few others as she watches the contest. Seldom does it look like she is paying close attention, that is unless one is aware of the habits of the Lady Igniseri.

Lifting her hands to gently applaud at the splendid efforts made by her competitors, Raya takes her place center-stage again, turning gracefully to address the crowd. She's biting her lower lip as if in amusement, however, and it takes her a while for the tell-tale rise and fall of her shoulders to abate before she calms herself enough to lift her head. She wasn't laughing, honest! (She was). Whatever the case, she looks over to Lucrezia and Merek with a wry lift of her brows. "I'm sad to think that you might mean the men are naked, because there's nothing more adorable to imagine than mice wearing little capes." With that, she turns to the audience and shrugs. "Sadly, the one for whom I speak can't offer anything so grand as mice statues, but I would argue that a marriage wherein both partners can work together in unison to achieve their goals for the betterment of their family. With kindness comes respect for others, and with respect comes strong bonds that will endure."

Monique's eyes are for the contenders, until Esme distracts her with that stunning gown. "A true beauty, my lady, like its wearer. But perhaps not the time to be stripping down while others are competing for something that might be quite important to them?" she suggests, grinning, turning back to listen to Raya's persuasive argument. There's a nod there, of approval.

Merek looks between all the curiosities of the tournament path, then nods a bit in thought while he looks to Esme, then to Lucrezia, with a smile. The quiet kind of smile, he's often quiet, while he adjusts his white-black attire and takes a sip from a flask.

The Pravosi Prince's gaze is one of scrutiny, as if Sebastian is judging the outcome on these words alone. Finally, when they finish, he steps to the front, addressing the audience. "You have heard their pitches. Now, allow me a moment to confer, and we shall announce the final three contestants for the Tournament of Thorns." He steps towards his assistant, Briar, and Monique, to confer. The wait isn't all that long. It's probably even longer than it needs to be. Briar hands the Pravosi Prince something, and Sebastian smiles as he raises his voice.

"It's been an exciting competition, with the leaders changing place in every round. But there can only be three going forward into the final. In third place... we have Baroness Ysabel. Second place has been taken by Marquis Malesh! And coming in first place is Princess Lucrezia! Congratulations to all three of you: you will be competing for the Crown of Aildorich tomorrow." To each, Sebastian offers a Finalist Brooch, with a flourish. Except when he goes to pin it onto the Baroness he casts about for a moment, before he glances towards the tent. That's the second time that's happened tonight, and the Pravosi Prince looks mystified, glancing towards Monique as if she might have some explanation for all of this running-away. He clears his throat. "Right. Well. Due to a last minue... departure... our third place winner is now... Sister Raya!"

Sebastian is overheard praising Lucrezia.

Sebastian is overheard praising Malesh.

Sebastian is overheard praising Raya.

Monique presses her hands together for the final three finalists of the Tournament of Thorns, the Minx of the Marches looking truly delighted for the winners as they receive their official brooches. "Wonderful! And well done to /all/ the contestants! Your skill is the reason why Arvum stands as strong as it does, and we are grateful for it!" To the stands, who applaud uproariously for the finalists, the Greenmarch dips her crimson head in deep acknowledgement.

Raya's applauding for everyone else quite happily when the announcement hits her ears. She turns to Ailith and looks a little confused. "Oh, did I come third? Well, I wasn't expecting that." Perking up even further, she says "You spoke very well, you know, but I would expect nothing less. It's what you do, after all."

Ailith squeezes the hand of one Sister Raya and cheerfully whispers her praise. "How exciting," she remarks and steps aside in order for the young woman to receive congratulations from the others. And she claps and claps until she spots Marra in the distance. "There you are, my friend!" And off goes the Legate, quick walking in an eastward direction after a fennec fox.

Raya is overheard praising Sebastian.

Raya is overheard praising Monique.

Clapping enthusiastically for the three finalists, Dante gives them a bow. "Quite the show you all put on. I cannot wait to see how this turns out. Sister Raya, I haven't ever met you before but I am glad this gave me a chance to see your skills at oratory. Truly, well done. Samce for you Lord Malesh and Princess Lucrezia." He smiles at Monique and sighs, "I wish I hadn't of missed the previous one."

Ailith has left the long bench.

Dame Marra, a limping fennec fox, Disciple Ismay, 3 Templar Knight guards leave, following Ailith.

Jules comes to her feet, climbing down to cross towards Sebastian for just a moment, a dark brow arching as like blue eyes meet and she leans in to press a kiss to his cheek. Then with a wink towards Monique, the Pravus' twin heads towards the gates. "Breakfast tomorrow Bas.. I will let Tia know you are coming." offered back over her shoulder.

2 Whitehawk Guards, Cabbit, a nub-tailed tabby cat arrive, following Bedivere.

2 Whitehawk Guards, Cabbit, a nub-tailed tabby cat leave, following Bedivere.

Lucrezia listens to Sebestian as the winners are announced, clapping with some confusion as Ysabel is replaced by Raya. Just more clapping! Happily for her cousin, she doesn't mind the brooch, evening admiring it a bit. Likes shiny things. It's a professional habit! "Thank you. Many of the words said today were truly inspiring and I look foward to seeing who wins the Crown." If she were a kinder, gentler person she might say more, but instead she says, "Is it time to drink now? We should all drink!" Is so trying to get the competition dead drunk! Hearing Dante, she inclines her head to him to acknowledge his words(is trying on the Princess think, ICK!), but there is only frost in her smile. "Thank you."

"See you at the finals, Lady Juliana," Monique echoes to Juliana with a wicked grin. "Now you've seem some of your competition, I hope you're prepared!" There's a consolatory smile for Dante. "There's still the Banquet, and it's going to be spectacular."

Ysabel has left the long bench.

Merek applauds all the winners, then nods while he looks to the evening weather, and offers a wave to people.

Sebastian lifts his glass in toast, and drains the rest of it, just as Juliana approaches. He gives her a wry smile, a lack of protest his seeming agreement, gaze following his twin for a moment. Setting down his glass, he moves towards Lucrezia. "Well, cousin," he murmurs, "You are full of surprises. And wholly correct -- it is time to drink," he agrees, half-eyeing Monique. "Though not Setarco Fire. That would be tempting the already thin regard we've managed to regain from the Iron Guard, I suspect."

Esme claps for everyone and then gets her other dress back from Briar. She bounces a bit as she offers a warm smile towards Dante. "I'm sure that you will get to see everything else. This is going to be legendary. I am just horrid at this. This is why I'm going to be single /forever/." She doesn't seem put out by that. "Why not drink Setarco Fire?"

"Thank you so much," Raya replies to Dante, a curtsy given. "Though I do hope she's alright...." Looking over to where Ysabel went, the Godsworn bites her lower lip as if in deep thought.

Oh! Passing Dante on the way out, Jules drops a kiss to the Marquis cheek as well.. because she can. Only lifting a hand in a acknowlegdging wave towards Monique's call now behind her.

"I think it makes Prince Sebastian... itchy," Monique answers Esme with an entirely innocent expression, as she signals two attendants to check in on Ysabel. "I'm sure she'll be just fine, and it speaks to your good nature to care for her, after her release from the competition has gained you the place. Congratulations, by the way," the Greenmarch says warmly, to Raya.

Merek looks then to Lucrezia, "It was nice to meet you!" Then he smiles, "You all be well," for everyone, then he's waving.

Before she departs, as she must, Raya smiles warmly at Monique and dips into a graceful curtsy. "Thank you so much. This was very fun."

Sebastian coughs.

Tossing her head back, Lucrezia laughs wildly at Sebastian's words as if her surprising people was new and even more at his current predicament. "We'll do rum, then!" As if she would willingly drink anything else. "I'll get you out of trouble." Sure, like that is what she did. She returns Merek's wave. "Good to meet you, too. I'll remember that statue."

Raya has left the long bench.

Dante accepts the kiss on the cheek from Juliana with a smile, "I will talk to you again soon, Lady Juliana. I hope all is well." Looking rather tired, he takes a drink of Saiklands red and waves Esme over to take part if she'd like, the bottle waved about.

"Setarco Fire leads to bad decisions," Sebastian finally makes to say, after he finishes that timely cough. It's probably the Thraxian in him that makes him look pleased at Lucrezia's suggestion. "Rum it is," he concedes readily enough, even if he looks dubious about his cousin keeping him out of trouble.

Juliana has left the Tournament of Thorns - Mid Bleachers.

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