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Grayson Family Dinner - Aug.

The next installment of the Grayson Family Dinner is scheduled for August 25th! Grayson family members are of course welcome, as are any vassals or anyone somehow connected to the family. It's just a way for everyone to all get in the same room and catch each other up on what's going on.

OOC: This is a great way to discuss those up and coming plots you need help with. Grayson is working on plans for a few additional things, and more may arise from the sacking of Bastion over the next few days. Please stay tuned!

Date

Aug. 25, 2021, 7 p.m.

Hosted By

Lou Aindre

Participants

Aella Noah Zakhar Ryhalt Jaenelle Symonesse Piccola Liara Corban Isabeau Jophiel Lisebet Eirene Mihaly

Organizations

Location

Arx - Ward of House Grayson - Grayson Mansion - Dining Room

Largesse Level

Grand

Comments and Log


(OOC)The scene set/room mood is now set to: The servants are keeping the drinks and food flowing within the room. Wines, liquors, and most importantly, since Lou is running this dinner, whiskey are in great abundance. There's a mix of food; duck, chicken, some sort of seafood from the Seliki region since their waters are warm throughout the winter even if they are so, so very north, and some kind of beef dish. And vegetables. There's certainly vegetables. There's also every kind of dessert in the place that Grayson and its vassals can produce; because dammit, they need /something/ to look forward to with all that crap that's happened over the last week or so.

2 Farshaw trained guards, Suzette - a Westrock Aerie Page arrive, following Ryhalt.

5 King's Own Guardsmen arrives, following Symonesse.

Symonesse arrives, following Aindre.

Lou is settled in the dining room early, having chosen a place at the dinner table. There's a glass of whiskey to the right of her, and sitting on the table, gleaming in whatever light is there, just behind her plate in a place of honor, is a tiny brass griffon, with feathers on its wings of many different colors. It is presently curled up in a pose that looks like it is sleeping. She is sipping at her whiskey, staring contemplatively at the griffon when guests start arriving.

When Aella enters the dining room, her eyes sweep around as if looking for someone specific. She must not see them, because her expression slips into a small frown before settling back into a composed smile. "Pathfinder." The northern redhead bows her head and shoulders in greeting to Lou, her tumble of hair and raven feathers cascading forward. She tilts her head at the small griffon, but she doesn't inquire about it right away. Instead, she sees whiskey is available. Whiskey is gotten and a seat taken.

The winter is a horrid time for those of the South. Luckily for Noah, he's not from there. He strides in as if he owns the place and in this case, he might actually. While the man is pulled up to his full height and regal, there is a slight alter to his person. That alteration? Not a ring. Not a weapon (okay there are new weapons) but the fact he has a small blonde in his arms. "Don't say I don't protect your feet from the snow." His lips curve upwards to this in a full smile. Look at that Charm. That Grace.

He drops her into a chair, as delicately as possible and places his lips to the top of her head. Then he looks around the room. It's almost like he's expecting to see it changed. His eyes slowly meet each when they enter before landing on Lou. "You are good?"

Zakhar checked luck + woodworking at difficulty 19, rolling 35 higher.

Zakhar drops Griffon engraved dining table.

Zakhar wanders into the dining hall with a slow shuffle assisted by a uniquely carved bone cane, wearing a mixture of dark red, purple, gray, and black armor with a hint of silk showing under the armor. A small team of young men and women follow after him as he points to a spot in the dining hall. "There. They can sort it out later." And with that a large dining table is carted in quickly assembled, with the team leaving quietly. Each with a small nod to the old man.

While not a Grayson, Ryhalt arrives with a ready smile for Lou. He looks curiously at the griffon on the table. "Hello."

Lou glances up from the colorful, tiny brass griffon sitting behind her plate when Noah addresses her. She gives him a half-smile. "I'm alive. Better." But good? No, Lou's still not good with everything that's happened, and it clearly shows with how haunted her face still looks in that moment. The griffon has provided a good distraction for her. "I've mostly been keeping to the house," she explains. She glances over at Aella then, "Countess. I'm glad to see you made it home safe," she tells her. Her eyes then fall on the others who've arrived. "Zakhar," she greets, giving him the same half-smile she gave her cousin. "Thank you for the order on short notice," she tells him. She nods to one of the servants and they step forward, handing him a small pouch.

When you have to be everywhere, sometimes it's hard to be on time getting anywhere. That said, Prince Aindre Grayson doesn't arrive all that late to dinner, this including the time spent stomping snow out of his boots and ditching his thick winter's coat with member of the house staff at the door who takes them and finds a safe place for them. By the time he arrives into the dining room with Queen Symonesse on his arm he seems to have shaken the last of the cold off himself and replaced it with the polish of his heritage. He pauses a moment to let his gaze sweep across the people and there's a smile for some and a nod for one but it's the food that seizes his attention as he announces, "This is the perfect reminder that I've forgotten to eat today. Is there a second spread on the way? This one might be doomed if I'm not stopped..". He turns a smile upon Symonesse, leans in to murmur something to her and then proceeds to find a seat for her first before taking one for himself just after.

"You use the word protect as if I am terrfied of the snow and you didn't pick me up and carry me here on your own because you wished to yourself. I dont remember saying 'Oh Noah, there is snow outside and my feet will freeze. Please, will you carry me to dinner?'," Jaenelle says, arms folded before her as she exaggerates her voice to be more high pitched and wilting violety. She doesn't look too upset though, who wouldn't want a handsome man to carry you across the city? As he sets her down, her head dips as if she expects the kiss to the top of her head knowing full well its coming. "Hello Graysons" she greets them all, "I have been waiting for years for an invitation to dinner, I only had to plan to marry one of you to receive it. Im not angry..." she doesnt finish. They know.

"You, as well," Aella says to Lou. "Hope it's alright I'm here?" She looks around again, giving Noah a look of confusion. "Prince, Archduchess," Another bow of her head and shoulders, then yet another as she turns to AIndre and Symonesse. "Your Highness, Your Majesty, I am relieved to see you all in... good health." Those last words falters as Jaenelle says she's not angry, looking over in amusement. Then she's greeting Ryhalt and Zakhar. "Nice table."

Symonesse arrives just a step ahead of Aindre, ushered in out of the cold as if she really is some sort of hothouse flower that is liable to freeze to bits with just the touch of cold air against it. As it is, her normally pristinely pale skin is reddened with the cold and she looks just a touch pathetic as she removes her cloak with reluctance, as if she would rather just remain buried within its fur-lined warmth. Inside the dining room, Symonesse nods a greeting to Lou, her usual radiant smile dimmed a bit in recognition that perhaps cheery spirits are needed here tonight. "This looks wonderful, Lou." The others in attendance get nods in greeting, but she is also glancing over at the food with a touch of longing as she says in distraction, "Oh, there is cake." She settles into the chair and whatever Aindre says makes her smile gently, offer a few murmured words in return and give his arm an affectionate squeeze. Once seated, she says, "At least it is nice and warm here!"

12 Grayson House Guards arrives, following Liara.

Noah reaches out a hand and patpatpats Jaenelle's head. Sure, he's going to pay for that later, but for now? He moves to get her a glass of wine before selecting the seat next to her. His eyes slide over to the Queen and the Prince before he offers. "I didn't carry you over my shoulder this time. I am expecting to be rewarded for my kindness. Do you desire me to stay nice?" He offers to Jaenelle. "Or are you going to pout?" He pouts out his lower lip at her, but his arm is already swinging around the back of her chair. He's exposing his fleshy side to her to stabby stab. He glances then towards Aella. "Yes. Well."


Here comes the General.

Why is she here? Maybe she will be forcibly removed. But as odd as her appearance might be at a Grayson dinner, the Voice of Vipers is, to her credit, only a silent presence. She is sitting on her own in her black leathers and cloak like a human shadow, with a plate of shrimp and prime rib in one hand and a fork in the other. Because that's what the beef dish is, right? Prime rib. Because you can't have shrimps without prime rib.

All of the doctrine and discipline in the world cannot prevent a strong woman from enjoying the blending of surf and turf.



"Duke Ryhalt," Lou's attention falls solidly on the Farshaw duke. "Thank you again for your quick thinking in getting the people moving on the western streets," she tells him. She turns her attention between Noah and Jaenelle, and that half-smile seems to grow for an instance. "I always knew Noah had humanizing moments within him. I'm glad to see he finally found someone to bring them out," this is said to Jaenelle with a bit of a wink in Noah's direction. Truly, seeking the two of them together has allowed her to brace herself enough to look a bit more like herself for dinner. Certainly, there's tiny amused crinkles around her eyes as she jests at the expense of her cousin.

It is then that Aindre captures her attention, and her blue gray eyes go from her other cousin and Symonesse in quiet study before she answers his question. "The cooks were told to expect a larger than normal crowd. I opened the dinner to more than just vassals, in case there were those that wanted to attend and maybe talk about everything and extend a hand in help. As you know, we've had an outpouring of concern and those who've expressed they wish to give aid." This, in turn, answers Aella's question in a round about way, hopefully assuring her that she's fine to attend. She dips her head toward the Queen. "Thank you," she speaks of the compliment. "I made sure they doubled down on dessert," she informs everyone, her tone a touch wise. "I figured we'd need some sugar happiness."

Reedy, a King's Own aide arrives, following Corban.

Jerome, a bodyguard, Elaine, an older courtier, Morgana, a proper secretary, 2 Valardin Knights arrive, following Isabeau.

Zakhar has joined the Griffon engraved dining table.

A touch on the late side, Liara shows up to the dining hall. Her left arm's drawn up into a sling still, and she moves with some care as she comes around to take a seat for herself. Smiles are offered by way of greeting to various people about, though her first intention appears to be to procure some food for herself.

Liara does happen to wonder, evidently curious, "Did we have a new table brought in?"

Lou glances up to Liara. "Guilty. Zakhar was able to get something done quickly. I was pretty certain we might have a crowd tonight," she explains to Liara. She doesn't look guilty at all though. She gives Piccola a nod, recognizing the viper general.

Zakhar nods to Lou, then to Liara as Lou explains the table while he wanders further into the room

Jaenelle stands when Symonesse enters, offering the woman a curtsey. "Your Highess," is said to the Queen before she settles again, tucking herself into that fleshy bit of Noah's once more without stabbing it. Or perhaps she did stab it and the blade was so dangerously thin all she did was punture his heart and its going to take a while before the heart in question notices and he dies somewhere far away from here. "Countess, it is lovely to see you again," she then greets Aella with a smile and polite dip of her head before turning towards Lou with a grin, "I think we balance one another out, truthfully. I keep him calm while he frustrated the shit out of me." Ah marriage. Upon Piccola's entrance that grin widens, "ah General. I have been thinking about you. Would you like to go on vacation with me?"

At the Queen's left side, just a step behind, is the First Captain of the King's Own, Sir Corban Telmar. When she removes her cloak, he takes it and passes it off to a liveried Grayson servant for safekeeping. Corban sees that Symonesse's chair is pushed in just so and then resumes his watchful place by her side. He has not eaten beforehand, so that any combination the Queen proposes might sound appetitizing.

Prince Aindre does pause for a heartbeat to shed his swordbelt with the blade sheathed away and hang it on the back of his chair before he finally slides into the seat next to the one he offered to Symonesse. Whatever she murmurs to him in response draws from off his full lips another smile if a quiet sort of one and he says, "I'm just glad someone thinks so.", before finding a plate for himself. His gaze drifts toward Lou as he finds healthy portions of chicken and beef both, plus steamed vegetables and dark gravy to ladle across it and some bread even too. "It's a fine idea to open it up to everyone who wants to attend. There's a lot to talk about as of late..", he mentions, the last part of it darkening his expression just a touch, "..Plus, who doesn't love a good meal on a cold winter's night?". All that said, he turns his attention to the side to the Queen once more and suggests, "I know you prefer wine to most anything, but with the weather as it is, perhaps whiskey. It warms the belly well.".


The Cobra Commander -- err, Viper General -- rises to incline her head respectfully to Jaenelle's question.

"Wherever you command, I go." There is a ring of certainty to her voice. "I may be poor company." Says the woman who addresses her liege whilst continuing to feed herself a steady stream of shrimp. And prime rib. "I have been accused of taking my duties too seriously," she adds after a moment, as if that weren't frustratingly clear from the way she stands and talks. "But I am honored that you have been thinking of me, my liege."

She then adds: "Especially in the wake of your nuptials."



Reedy, a King's Own aide have been dismissed.

Ryhalt inclines his head to Lou. "You're most welcome. I only regret that we couldn't save more. The true thanks needs to go to whoever built the city with all those escape tunnels. Had those not existed..." He grimaces, shaking his head. "I am curious if there will be an organized effort to coordinate aid. I would like to give towards rebuilding efforts." As Liara arrives he smiles to her. He takes a seat, but doesn't try the food, though he does have some of the whiskey. "My main question is...why Bastion? Do we know?"

Noah lifts a lone brow over his left eye as he looks at Jaenelle. "You wound me. I would never annoy the shit out of you. That would be most unbecoming of an Archduchess." He looks towards the others with nods. Then towards Lou with a thoughtful expression. "There is already a betting pool on my untimely demise." Ryhalt gets a smile as well for the Duke. Look at Noah. He's making words instead of 'hmm' and smiling once or twice.

Orvis arrives, following Jophiel.

Isabeau arrives a bit late as well, having elected to wear black Cloudspine velvet and pearls that makes the dark gold of her curls seem all the brighter. Lambent blue eyes flick around, settling on Symonesse to whom she lowers in a smooth, practiced curtsey. She extends that same courtesy to Jaenelle and Liara before continuing deeper within to find a seat, seeming to chose her place carefully to find the place with the greatest access to sweets and the least to meats. Her features are set in her usual angelic smile as she settles down. As she does, her hand raises to wiggle fingers at Corban, smile directed at him for a moment before her attention turns to the dinner, "Ah, this looks lovely." she remarks.

Ah. Vacation. Lou gives Jaenelle an envious look. And then she remembers. "Lord Mirk is whisking me away on vacation in several weeks. To Foraiso. I'll get to see one of the places the dwarves built. It's a shame the ones I helped save with another team were stuck in a cold, cold cavern for so many centuries. They didn't even get a chance to make it homey before trapped in stillness." Lou notices Zakhar lingering and waves him in. "Do please come in and get settled, have some food Zakhar. You've done Grayson more than one service by helping out with a few projects. You are welcome here," she assures him. She nods to Corban when she sees and recognizes the King's Own has slipped in for dinner as well.

Aindre draws her attention again and she seems to sober a bit, nodding in a solemn manner. "Indeed, there is. I plan on organizing a few groups to go through the rubble the first chance we can get, and see if we can't find any survivors that might have been trapped. It's much like we did with Stormwall when it was destroyed in the fire. Only, this time e're looking for people and not relics." She looks to Symonesse and adds. "And I plan on following up on that lead you gave us about the treasury, looking into what was taken from the crypts. Raven Ulbran has volunteered to go with me. I figure I might take a couple of other people too." She nods her head to Ryhalt. "There will be organized something," if Lou has anything to say about it, though she glances to Liara a moment before adding. "We're waiting for other reports to come in before sending people back there though."

Aella stifles her laughter at the exchange between Jaenelle and Noah buy lifting her whiskey to her lips and taking a long drink. On the matter of sweets, she seems satisfied to find whichever dessert has the most apples involved and settling a hearty portion to her plate. Dinner indeed. Liara's arrival draws her eye before she can eat, greeting the high lady with a smile and bow. Back to Lou, she gives a nod. "Ravenseye will do anything we can." She leaves that simple, giving herself a chance to take a bit of the food.

"I do like the engraving," Liara remarks to Lou, and then, attention turning to Zakhar, she offers a mild "Thank you." She settles back on her chair, waiting as some food is brought out for her - considering that her left arm's up in a sling, someone in the kitchen has gone to the trouble of pre-slicing everything.

She makes a point of mentioning to Corban, quite earnestly, "Sir Corban, I did not have the opportunity before to properly commend you on your actions at Grayhold, so I do so now. Thank you."

Then she turns to greet Ryhalt. "Duke Farshaw, how do you do? It was all, it would seem, for purposes of a burglarly." A flutter of a wave is offered to Aella.

The Queen gived Aindre a look and says in a low voice, "I think I am far from the only to think so, my dear." Then, Symonesse gives Corban a smile before she turns her attention to looking over the spread, lips pursed as she really, really considers the meat and vegetables for a moment. But, you only live once, right? Or, in Symonesse's case, ones for thousands of years, but who is counting? So, she politely asks a servant to get her a slice of cake, some fruit, and a whole bunch of some sort of fluffy pudding on a plate. She puts one carrot next to it for appearance's sake. She looks up when Lou addresses her and nods solemnly, "I would volunteer to go with you as well, but I am afraid that I am not so useful in those circumstances and I would only get in the way. I have been perusing some of my old diaries from when Caithness... from that time, to see if I could remember anything from then that might be useful." Symonesse gives Aindre another look as she says with a smile, "I cannot handle whiskey as well as you lot can. Besides, wine pairs better with cake."

"Whatever it was," says Corban at the question of just what item was taken from the Grayson crypts. "It was quite powerful. Or at least quite important to the Dream. To look at it was like too stare directly into the Sun. Incredibly painful and impossible to do for more than a few seconds."

At the acknowledgment from Liara, Corban bows his head. "I only wish I could have done more, Your Grace."

Jophiel enters the dining room. He nods in greeting to the various nobles present in the room, before heading to Symonesse. Giving a deep bow, he greets "Good evening Your Majesty." Turning slightly, he continues, "Princess Lou and Princess Liara, I do hope I am not late for the meal?"

Zakhar nods to Lou, then slips his head wrap down to around his neck in a multiple wrapping decoration upon his shoulders. "Thank you Princess Lou," Another nod to Symonesse, "Your highness." And a quirk of a smile to Liara, "The Griffon engraving was to be used in part of a gift from House Seliki, it seemed only fitting to have it added to the legs and beams to make the last minute request." He slips into a seat at the large table, as his bone cane is folded in half and slipped to a scabbard looking ring holder on his belt

Speaking of Halfshavs, "I had the chance to meet Lord Mirk for the first time in the midst of the destruction at Bastion. It was not an auspicious place for a first meeting, but the man handled himself very well in all the chaos. I was very impressed with him.", Prince Aindre remarks in Lou's direction, and then he reminds her, "When you're off to search out and take inventory of what was removed, do call on me. I believe my particular set of skills could prove useful there." While they're all on the topic of the horror of Bastion's sacking, he imparts for the sake of Liara and Lou both, "I have little doubt in my mind that with the survivors evacuated, elements of both the wild and our lingering enemies will remain in our home until they're forced out. We are all still recovering, and we need reconnaisance up there, but I have designs to see them driven off so we can begin rebuilding in earnest when the time comes. Several people have sent me letters asking to help in that regard, though even a few of them are still licking their wounds." He pauses to tuck into his food a little more and to listen and when he's done chewing he turns to Symonesse at his side and mentions, "Your 'usefulness', that is the boon of having you around and in aiding us as you have, is without dispute. I see no reason to have you wandering such dangerous streets anyway. I think we all understand you're at your most helpful here in Arx, font of wisdom and knowledge that you are."

If it's good enough for the queen, then who would Isabeau be to not follow suit. She selects up something sweet as well. Anything with chocolate, and then makes a soft request of a passing servant, "Is there milk? Or tea will do..." she says in her warm, contralto voice, and another of those soft, sweet smiles to whomever fulfills her request. Her blue eyes flit amongst the others speaking otherwise, as she begins cutting into her dessert.

"As I dare say we all do, and so shall aspire to be able to do more in future," Liara offers in serious reply to Corban. Then she turns a faint smile Isabeau's way. "Duchess Telmar, I trust the day finds you well."

There's another greeting, and Liara looks up to reply to Jophiel, "Not at all, my lord. More can be brought out on request if you feel something in particular may be missing." Attention flitting onwards yet again, she says to Zakhar, "It works very well."

Lougrimaces a touch at Corban's last words. "I think we all wish that, Corban," she says in gentle tones, her expression becoming shaded a bit. She hasn't really talked much about what she witnessed in the streets, though she does glance to Ryhalt a moment as she remembers parts of it; the sort of look that suggests they might have shared those horrors together, nodding absently to Liara's response to him. Jophiel gains her attention then and she nods a greeting to the Bisland lorda nd waves him over. "Late is relative, Jophiel. Come in, have some food. Ask questions about the latest tragedy if you have any," she tells him. "I could not help but notice so many speaking openly about their experiences there." It's a observation only, with no real question or other purpose behind it. She glances again to Symonesse, giving her a small smile. "That you want to go is enough," she tells her. "That you're searching your diaries is even more than expected, and we're grateful for your willingness to do so." She dares not intrude on whatever moments the Queen might have had with Caitness from that time. She looks back to Aindre and nods. "Mirk has show himself capable a number of times. I'm glad to hear he was an asset to you. He's helping me learn the language of the Uanna, but he's also a capable shaman. An excellent explorer." She nod more gravely to him then. "I'll be sure to remember," on the matter of the treasury.

12 Grayson House Guards have been dismissed.


Meanwhile, the General disengages to roam to where the food is located.

There, she calmly begins to load up on two things: (1) the seafood; and (2) the beef. Gods only know why. As she does so -- she is silent all the while -- she takes the time to eavesdrop and observe. Something -- or someone -- catches her eye, and she pauses briefly before resuming the construction of a mountain of meat to consume.

Must take a lot of food to keep a wee lass like her going.



"Running on coffee, as always." Ryhalt says to Liara with a wry smile, though it's certain he isn't the only one with troubled sleep after being in Bastion that night. "I hope that your arm heals swiftly. Burglary..." He is silent a thoughtful moment. "And a psychological blow to happen on a day of celebration for our Faith... They could have spent far less if they'd snuck in." He listens with a frown to Symonesse's search for what may have been stolen.

"I find you delightful, and that is all that matters. Plus, we are staying in the Grayson ward," Jaenelle tells Piccola. "Every year I have a week vacation somewhere in the city. Valardin and Redrain, and this year is Grayson," she explains. She does not involve herself in the discussion of Bastion or the plans the family has to see it scouted, explored, and cleaned. It is not her business, though just being here shows that she takes her alliance with the Great House quite serious and she offers a soft smile towards Liara in greeting. "Corban" She greets the man with a bright smile. "If I knew I would see you here I would have asked you to bring me a pastry," she gives him a serious nod of her head. Apparently these pastries are something important. She reaches for a shrimp from her plate, taking a bite before reaching over to Noah, "taste this. It is so good. I need the recipe." Yes, she expects him to eat her half finished piece of food.


"Then I shall be there, my liege."

Piccola even //sounds// distracted. There's an absent note in her tone. A shrimp rolls off her plate, and she nearly dumps the remainder onto the table in front of her trying to put it back. Almost. After a moment of fumbling, the General recovers and takes her place near Jaenelle, where she belongs.

And re-armed with a fork, she returns to her grazing on the food of love.



"I can move it somewhat again. It is the least of my worries; time alone will fix it," Liara assures Ryhalt then, then passes a brief, thoughtful comment on the other matter too, "A tremendous blow, but we must not let it stop us from moving forward." She then makes a lighthearted query of Jaenelle, "Were you perhaps missing the swing, your grace?"

Isabeau offers Liara a gentle dip of her head as she's addressed, "Thank you, Your Grace. I am as well as can be expected," she says sweetly, as she begins to dig into whatever chocolatey delight she's managed to find in small, graceful bites. She flicks her gaze around as her brow knits, "Now... that's odd, really. That something so powerful and important isn't immediately recognized and missed. That makes one wonder what else could be found that no one knows about." Isabeau muses. She gives a soft sigh, then shakes her head, "A thing to consider." Another bite of the dessert, followed by a sip of milk.

Symonesse nods in approval for Isabeau's choice in cuisine and even lifts her fork in solidarity because cake and chocolate are pretty much the best dinner. Those that curtsy are given bright smiles and she waves them in to find some food and indulge in wine and conversation, such as she is. She glances to Lou and sets her fork down as she says softly, "I will do whatever I can to help the Compact. If that means supplying information, I am happy to do so. I just wish I could do more."

Noah is listening as those around him talk about such things. "You are spending the week in Grayson?" You, everyone note that. He said you. There is a twinkle to his blue eyes as he offers a low comment to Jaenelle. Then he watches Piccola's plate issues. "Careful with your dishes, one might think you are out of sink with them." He then dutifully opens his mouth to take what Jae offers. This is going to be how he dies, people. THIS.

It's hard to miss a woman crafting a mountain of meat, even a quiet one, so in the midst of the conversation that's happening Prince Aindre's stormfront eyes wander over to Piccola and he calls over to her, "Lady Tessere, I must say I find your entries into Vellichor's archives to be good reading. The first time one was pointed out to me I had the rest delivered and sometimes when another is released I'll find it on my desk and consider it with coffee or a meal if I'm alone. It is hard-won wisdom, I can tell." He offers to here a smile, sincere but with a hint of apology should he have drawn undue attention to her meatcrafting before he takes a moment to help himself to more of the simmered beef and steamed vegetables on his own plate, eating thoughtfully for several moments. After, he delivers to the table as a whole, "While we don't know what was taken, I can say this much. Whatever he took, it belongs to him now. I've spent a good amount of time making a near-career over the last year in absconding with things he might want before he can get his hands on them just for this reason, it's hard to think the Compact can bring to bear against him the power it would require to take something back from his clutches. At least for now. I think it would behoove us to know what he took, but I think in the grand scheme our designs should lean toward finding a way to take other advantages away from him. In the end, that may be all it comes down to, who has won the race to steal adavantages away from the other." In the wake of that, the Grayson prince finds a glass of whiskey to indulge in, if just lightly.

"I am just the Queen's accessory this evening, Your Grace," says Sir Corban to Jaenelle, his eyes sparkling slightly behind his barbute when she addresses him regarding the matter of the pastries. "And, as a result, I go where she does. I could not know I would be here tonight." You never know where the elves might get to. "But I will have Reedy bring a basket of Mistress Clare's pastries to the Estate at my earliest possibility."


"One is never too old to be a scullion, m'lord," says the General side-long to Noah.

She disengages so that she may curtsy to Prince Aindre. "Forgive my lack of grace." Which is false; she curtsies quite well without using her hands. "And thank you for your kind words, even if mine can be rude and brutish." For her keen delivery, though, her words are just a little garbled. Probably from the amount of food she seems to be eating as a form of competition. Or penance.

Or torture.



Liara does gradually make her way through some food, mostly vegetables and small slices of chicken. She gives a small duck of her chin in response to Isabeau, and by all appearances mulling that over briefly, she then remarks, "A point well made, Duchess. Would that we knew of all such things, such that we might at least keep them out of our foe's hands."

As others are talking, Aella is quietly eating her dessert first with intermittent sips of whiskey. Her attention moves around the dining room, stopping briefly with Isabeau to give the duchess a smile in greeting and another for PIccola, and then continuing on until her gaze settles back on Liara. She's thoughtful for a moment, then wonders, "Is it possible he got nothing?"

Zakhar appears to very happy with a plate covered in nothing but meat, there's a piece of cabbage on the side. Though even that is being treated as a piece of garnish

"This is why you are my favorite Corban I have ever met," Jaenelle assures the man at his offer to have the food brought to her. "And you are the best accessory ever." There is a sign as her blue eyes turn towards Liara, "my swing has a terrible view. Nothing can compare to the gray tower, and swinging so close to the edge of the tower to see the city from such a height. And I never fell off, which still amazes me. But for now, the swing sits in my bedroom, staring at a wall, waiting for my new maze to open so I can swing over that and throw things at the people who travel through it." Goals. She holds out her hand to Noah afterwards, "ill need a key to your room here so I can move in." His whispered words cause her brows to rise before she replies in softer tones.

Jophiel enjoys a spread of various dishes, all in small amounts. Every so often, he takes sip from his drink.

Lou takes a sip of her whiskey and then sets the drink aside. She settles her gaze on Symonesse. "Don't underestimate the ability of the people to see their leaders and how much good that does. In the end, the people will be looking to you and Alaric, as much as they will any of us, and seeing that you are safe, and in Arx, will help bolster them." Or, so Lou thinks. She looks to Aindre, considering him a moment. "I was recently re-reading the histories on the War of Stolen Names, to see what it took for Alarice to win it. She made a lot of alliances, and had people to call on, who in turn helped winnow down his forces little by little. Since he syphoned the remaining magic that was within Whitepeak, and upon seeing the horrors at his command. . . " Lou grimaces. "We're not going to be able to do this alone." There's a pause before she adds, "Not when their horrors can simply kill a person with a single touch." And there it is again, that haunted look that was there when people first arrived.

Ramona - A Guard in Ashford House Colours, Bigsby - A Thoughtful Looking Young Man in Nondescript Clothing, 2 Ashford Archer, 1 Ashford Scout arrive, following Lisebet.

"You think I'm going to give you a key on a silver platter?" Noah offers. "As it stands, I just have one of the guest rooms. I never thought to make one my own. Probably a good thing. You can stay in the nursery though."

"I don't suppose anyone has any experience with bloodwood." Isabeau muses in thought, as she works through a few more bites of dessert, paying homage to its excellence with a moment of closed eye enjoyment before they are open again and attentive on the different speakers. "We haven't found the right place to start with the sword yet."

Leila, the sullen Suspire arrives, delivering a message to Aella before departing.


Piccola only enjoys two dishes, apparently, and does so in a glutton's amounts.

Her cowled head tilts acknowledgingly after catching Aella's look. But something said near to her causes her to stiffen. Two shrimps are packed into the Littlest Snake's mouth, then chewed, and then swallowed, before she turns to look at Jaenelle and Noah. "Pardon, my liege, but about what you said before about vacationing in this ward -- " She looks between the Archduchess and her Archduke-Consort.

" -- I am not expected to //stay// with the two of you, am I?"



Symonesse looks at Aindre and then Lou as she says softly, "I don't think you can get it back, but I think knowing what it is could be important. There are a lot of competing priorities right now and I am not in the position to see what House Grayson is capable of and where its power is most needed right now, but if he went to this much effort to take that object, then it means -something-." She picks at the cake and sweets on her plate and empties that wine glass a little quicker than usual, even going so far as to ask for a refill well before she has finished even half of the food on her plate.

Lisebet is fashionably late. Or maybe a bit later, but the petite Ashford duchess arrives in time for dessert! That's perfectly on time in some books. She slips in quietly, finds a piece of ginger cake, a drink, and a spot to settle, just like she's been there all along. Well, and now she can listen and see what is being discussed.

The plate of meat is gone, a trait of many years of service, or hazard depending upon who looks at it. Zakhar brushes at the side of his mouth with a quick pinch from a cupped hand and stands up unfolding the cane. "Princess Lou. Thank you for the meal. Enjoy the table." Then he shuffles out slowly as the cane continues to make its chilling click-clack-thud noise as he exits the dinner.

Lou perks up at whatever Piccola asks, "You could stay in the library of course. I could have one of the servants put a cot in there." Because she saw how Piccola can disappear in a place like that. She glances to Zakhar, nodding her head in his direction. "Thank you for bringing the table, and I hope you enjoyed the meal!"

Attention turning over that way, Liara gives a small shake of her head in response to Aella. "I very much doubt it. All the evidence points to something of significance."

A low laugh follows Jaenelle's reply. "That is a very particular hope for a swing." She flits a look between her and Noah, then Piccola, and evidently deems it best to say nothing at all, instead just getting back to her food.

Zakhar has left the Griffon engraved dining table.

Clowder of the Nine, they have been fed don't let them trick you, Shekies, A black and white marbled cat with yellow eyes, Capt'n Waddles the small cock with a bell leave, following Zakhar.

To Aindre's wisdom, Ryhalt nods in agreement. "It is too early for us to think in the terms of taking back. Learning what it was and the pattern to what is sought is most important." He also nods to Lou's points of needing allies. "Yes, the importance of what High Princess Liara said can't be enforced enough... we can't give up hope. If we give into despair it'll empower them." He nods in grim agreement with Symonesse's assessment that the cost of the attack for their allies spoke of the importance of what was taken.

Carissa, a Southport bodyguard, Planchet the Lycene maggiordome arrive, following Eirene.

Once Zakhar is seen to in whatever he needs before he departs, Lou glances back to Symonesse. "I'm not crazy enough to try and follow him to get it back," she assures the Queen. "But I have excellent skills at researching and tracking things down. So, I'll definitely be working on tracking down the crypt list and checking things out. Perhaps there's other stuff down there that might help as well, things overlooked and left undisturbed. But that, yes. If it wasn't significant in and of itself, it would be for the amount of primum Corban said it contained, at the very least."

Leila, the sullen Suspire arrives, delivering a message to Aella before departing.

Leila, the sullen Suspire arrives, delivering a message to Aella before departing.

Caine Arnasis, a foul-mouthed assistant arrives, following Mihaly.

Prince Aindre assures Piccola, "Some certain things require a brute." and leaves it at that, turning his gaze upon Lou down the table a ways, "Queen Alarice had no few allies, it's true. The people of that age also were talented in mysteries we're still unraveling once more for ourselves. We too have our allies, though more we will undoubtedly need. Our advantage there is that our enemies are the enemies of all of Arvum and we stand as the defender of this realm and the people in it. We have a common ground with our potential allies..". A quiet moment later, he adds, "But as we saw at Bastion, he understands this advantage and has been dipping into it as well, recruiting - if it can be /called/ recruiting. We'll need to start moving on that front sooner rather than later, though a monumental task it is." The Grayson prince indulges in his dinner a little longer, cleaning another part of his plate and listening to responses and somewhere in the wake of that he turns to Queen Symonesse, "It undoubtedly means something and despite the ease with which it seems he took it, he also risked much to do so. I believe it was important, especially by all accounts of how brightly it shone. We have more information now than we did before, this he left us with. Information on how he's operating, on some of the weapons he can bring to bear against us. He took from us, but he did better able us to prepare for when next we encounter him." Afterward he proffers a smile for Symonesse, and leans in to murmur something once more with an expression as if he's considering something.

Eirene's late. She knows this. She doesn't seem -too- much to care. There's a dusting of snow on her longcoat as she is escorted into the hall. She only looks apologetic when she bows her head to the Grayson nobility. "Sorry, been working double shifts at the hospital," as her husband well knows. She got back from Bastion and practically moved in there to deal with refugees and the wounded that were brought back. She goes for wine and jam tarts because dessert should never be skipped and she quite frankly needs it.

Lisebet only just arrived herself but she's quiet, though once the first bite of cake is eaten and the first sip of wine, she takes a breath and moves forward to wherever Ryhalt is, electing to pick on her brother first.

And ever since his wife's return from Bastion, Mihaly has kept a very quiet on Eirene, as if letting her out of his sight could be considered a dereliction of duty, given her penchant of wading into a fight. Between that and the recent injuries he might've gained some new grey hairs in his beard recently. The old Riven Sword follows along, appearing as his usual reserved self. "I had to pretty much drag her away when I reminded her that she was going to show up." he adds, not quite moving to eat himself, starting to stuff his old curved wooden pipe of the herbal snuff he burns in it.

Jaenelle's brows furrow as she looks between Piccola and Noah, "you heard him. He isnt invited. He can stay in the Velenosa estate and you and I can have a lovely week here." She motions towards Liaraa then with her wine glass, "says a woman who has never been on a swing in a tower or on a balcony. We must change that. I feel if you dont experience such a thing at least once, you'll regret it." Big words! She reaches for Noah's hand, squeezing it slightly before she lifts it to her mouth and bites the meaty part of his palm.

Aella gives a slow shrug, saying quietly. "It's odd to me you all can't remember what this item might be, but it was significant. I do know I'd probably pretend I found something if I found nothing after that great of an effort to save face and leave my enemy guessing." She gives a rueful smile. "But that sort of speculation isn't helpful, is it?" The countess goes back to silently eating her apple dessert, finishes it and her whiskey, and then politely excuses herself. "I apologize, I should get back to Ravnsholm to deal with some business. Thank you for the hospitality."

"I rather think that I am your only Corban, but I am touched by your regard, Your Grace," says Sir Corban, kindly, to Jaenelle, listening to the conversation swirl around him. There is a slight nod at the mention of finding out what was taken and the primum that thing likely contains.

Ryhalt rises to give Lisebet a hug as she comes over. "I'm glad to see you, Lis. I hope you are well?" He lifts his eyebrows at Aella's words, but just shakes his head at the idea of forgetting things being odd.


"As you wish, my liege."

Piccola must wear cowls and hoods so that her smile can be hidden. Especially when it's probably a smug smile. Her attention returns to the events at the fore, and she says to Lou, who graciously offers a space in the library, "I appreciate the offer, your Highness, but I am sure the Archduchess Regent will have a busy schedule. Perhaps after her vacation is over, I can take up a temporary camp in your library to complete my investigations." She nods her head curtly in acknowledgment. "If I am so permitted."

She resumes pushing seafood and steak into her face.



Symonesse glances to Aella, "Have you ever been to the Grayson vault or the crypts? Generations of people and things and relics that were once very important to someone but are now no longer rememebered all live there. It is not so odd for a very old House to contain a lot of secrets. Clearly, the Traitor remembered one that was meant to be forgotten." Whatever Aindre murmurs leaves the Queen smiling and some of the weariness lifts from her golden gaze like sunlight burning away fog. As Eirene and Mihaly arrive, she smiles brilliantly at them and lifts one hand to wave them closer.

Havard, a battle-scarred gentle giant, Runa the clever, seafaring raven, Bryndis, another redheaded northern Prodigal leave, following Aella.

"NO! Bad, no bitey." Noah offers towards Jaenelle as she goes to bite into his hand. "We don't eat lovers. We eat meat." Wait for it. He /attempts/ to take Piccola's meat mountain to press towards Jaenelle. "If he's-- recruiting. Then you need to cut off the supply line where you can. Those who are going to become part of many." He looks around to see if that's the one that they are talking about. "Are going to prey on the people that feel like they don't belong. Those that have been thrust out. Those who have been felt they are outsiders." He shrugs his shoulders a bit to that. "Manipulative tactics. Although, I'm not sure how well that works with what you are working with." He lifts up his wine to take a drink in his not being chewed on hand.

"I think it depends. Some join him because it seems the better alternative to oppose him. Others are simply whisked away in the middle of the night, with no sign of it happening, and of no violation of their rown." Lou replies in response to Aindre, of this she is certain. "I did a survey for Alaric right before the Lodge of Petrichor crisis. I'm fairly certain he's using the same tactics now, particularly when you fought a gargantaun. And my group? The amalgamation there? It was made of rats, and bone. I think it kept absorbing and growing from the bones of our recently dead, and was shaped like trees, and had vines coming out if it." Whatever it was Lou saw, it had a LOT going for it. "Those vines killed instantly when it touched someone. I'm not even /sure/ what to call that thing, and it certainly wasn't the bitevines from Norman the Explorer's horrific zoo he visited near Gilden lands."

Lisebet returns Ryhalt's hug and then stands back. "I am well, thank you. I was not in as much danger as many I might name." That seems fairly obvious to her, since she wasn't at Bastion. "And you, how are you doing?" She listens to some of the rest of the conversation now that she's given herself that small bit of energy. "Is there anything I might help out with?"

Liara offers simply a quick smile and a "Perhaps," in response to Jaenelle, then, having polished off her food, she makes to stand. "A delight to see you all," she says, offered to the room in general, and then she's away towards the door.

After a time, Isabeau falls silent, just selecting up another dessert of the fruity pie variety as she nibbles on her sweets and drinks her milk. She seems to listen quietly to all that passes.

Noah is overheard praising Lou: For attempting to avengers assemble

Eirene makes a face at Lou's description and shakes her head, "Never heard of one of those. Maybe it's new? Something that they didn't throw at Alarice." She gives the table a friendly salute with her wine and wolfs down the tart before she approaches Symonesse, wiping her hand on her coat. A glance is shot at her husband with a degree of curiosity. "Your majesty," she says with a warm grin. "Always a pleasure," she adds. Aindre is given a polite nod of the head in greeting as she joins them.

"I don't have a name for it either," Ryhalt concurs with Lou on the monstrosity they had witnessed. "At first I thought it was like what struck at the Whisper House, but I've heard no tale that there were rats involved there or that it suck the life out of people. I have to wonder if it is related to the mage or mages that create it... that accompanied it." Back to Lisebet, he nods in relief that she hadn't been in danger. "Have you found help for..." He glances down towards Lisebet's legs, speaking of Whisper House. "Having difficulty sleeping since Bastion, but I wasn't hurt." He nods in farewell to Liara as she excuses herself.

"As for the matter of bloodwood," Lou looks over to Isabeau. "Did Lord Oberion ever answer your message?" she wonders. She glances over as Eirene arrives with her husband, offering them each a warmish smile that doesn't look like Lou's usual smile. It's less bright. She looks to Ryhalt, "It was a mage that struck at Whisper House. And Su'tavi. But mostly the mage."


Piccola launches a half-hearted assault on Noah's hand with a fork if it approaches her hoard of food.

"If I may, Pathfinder?" The General tries to address Lou from where she stands, calling out with a raised voice, but takes a couple of steps closer to facilitate more discussion. "Lady Braelynn of House Deepwood and I once ventured deep into the woods outside of the City Walls. There, we encountered sapient tree beings who warned of the Metallic Traitor and what he intended to do." Beat. "This monster you describe may have been some sort of -- " Shrug. " -- abomination -- a creature wrought from such beings, perhaps." Beat. "But perhaps a foray into that same copse may allow us to find some answers?"

She awaits a response while resuming her destruction of Grayson's stores of shrimps and prime rib.



Prince Aindre's brows lift just a touch as Prince Noah begins offering up helpful advice. It's not an expression that's judgemental, just.. surprised. "You aren't wrong, cousin. We do need to cut him off. It is easier said than done, though. The Compact and the Abandoned have a.. tense history, as you know. It isn't impossible. It is daunting, however..". A moment after that and as he's pushing his plate away, he adds, "Then again, daunting is what House Grayson does best." He looks over to Lou, trying to hide the uncertainty on his face when she's describing the sort of nightmare she was forced to deal with in Bastion and he tells her, "I've never heard of such a thing and I wouldn't know what to call it, but it sounds like an awful kind of abomination. We were able to bring down our Gargantuan with ballistae, do you feel the same technique could be applied to the monstrosity that you encountered? It doesn't sound as if it's the sort of creature one would wish to engage with up close, by any means. The application of fire could be pertinent, considering the bone and the vine." Those gears are already turning in the prince's mind, writ across his face as they do so. What finally does distract him from them is his chance to wave to Eirene and Mihaly both and proffer a smile just for the two of them that's a little bigger than his usual. "I'm glad the pair of you could make it.", he says with no small amount of sincerity. "Dinner wouldn't be the same without you."

Isabeau's brow gives a touch of a knit as she looks at Lou, "Mmm, I believe Lady Ivy just mentioned reaching out to him. I'm not certain he would respond to a Telmar after my late father in law... you know..." she gives a little grimace at that as her eyes drift away, "I'm rather interested in the blade after learning more about Dame Fayche."

"Isn't everything new these days." Mihaly says, stuffing the pipe, but refraining from lighting it just yet. His attention becomes a bit more abrupt and more polite once he realizes that Symoneese is here. "Your Majesty." he greets, dipping in a bow a bit more respectfully than he usually does. "It is good to see you again." Aindre is given his own nod back in recognition. "I don't quite believe you, Your Highness, but I will believe that's reserved more for Eirene." The mention of a the Metallic Traitor does get the old knight to tense up slightly, but at least his attention has been caught.

Did Piccola just say sapient trees?!? Lou's head shoots toward the general when she overhears those words. "Sapient trees?" Trees that talk?!? "I've never heard of such creatures before!" Though, admittedly, she's visited a rock spirit before. Long, long, long, long ago. "I suppose it is possible, but why rats?" she wonders. She tilts her head back to Isabeau. "Uh." It's a blank look. Lou might be long storied in the history of the Sylv'alfar War, bu there are still vast gaps it seems. "I actually don't know." She finds herself nodding her head in agreement with Aindre. "I'm sure if they did come to the aid of the Compact, others would just as much try to cut them down," she speaks of the abandoned. "But, I don't expect tribes like the Wolfhearts to still be practicing druidisim or be heirophants, as Ylaria was. Though they were incredibly helpful in passing along the information on how to protect names and how to call down the kindly voices. I just don't know they realize that those things did such things, considering they thought them child's games and nursery rhymes."

"No change so far as I can tell," Lisebet replies to Ryhalt. "So it seems to not be getting worse. I am not sure how I would be able to tell, other than perhap feeling worse." She nods her head to the information about folks not sleeping, Ryhalt in particular. "I imagine it must be difficult," she says simply. Her gaze goes to Eirene and Mihaly, with a smile. Then her gaze goes to Lou, listening quietly for the moment.

"The woman outside the Cathedral attempted to make those of the Faith destroy the very things they held sacared, to desecrate holy objects and renounce their beliefs for Mercy that surely would never have come," Jaenelle says, her hold on Noah's hand softer, less playful. "And they almost did. They were frightened and confused and just wanted peace, even at the payment of their souls and convictions. These people were outsiders, but upstanding members of the Faith and society. It took so much to keep them from breaking things, to give into temptations and to urge them to safety."


"And they walked," confirms the General between mouthfuls.

"The one that spoke to us that night provided a seed. I never got around to planting it." Shrug. "Just a thought, Pathfinder. We could use allies. And they may have insight we do not." Because, of course, trees probably perceive events differently than humans. "As for the Abandoned, I recall Grandmaster Bayweather of the Knights of Solace mentioning that they had some treaties with them." Piccola looks to Aindre, and turns herself slightly to face him. "So perhaps he and Dame Harthall may help improve those relations, if only to deprive our enemies of more allies."

Back to the food: omnomnom.



Symonesse grins a little as Mihaly and Eirene come closer, saying quietly to them so she doesn't interrupt the much more serious conversation that is occurring, "The fluffy stuff is pretty wonderful. It tastes like a sugar cloud." The Queen lapses into thoughtful quietly, though something said seems to have her eyes briefly closing and a soft sigh escaping her lips before she composes herself to listen once more, toying with her wine glass as if she might just be tempted into daring a third before the dinner is over.

Eirene offers thoughtully to Lou, "You know, there's a weed-killing poison we used at Granato to help with the crap the Thornweavers were throwing around. It's -expensive- to put together, and we need a sample of the vines sap as a base, but if we can get something from what you fought at Bastion, maybe we can... come up with a way to better fight those things?" She nods at Noah and Jaenelle, smirking a little. "You can bite your lover, depends on how hard, where, and how close you are," says the Lycene knowingly. But she loses a little of the grin as Jaenelle describes what happened at the Cathedral. "I'll have to try it," she replies to the queen with a bit more sincere of a smile.

Lou raises both brows at Piccola, "Treaties with Abandoned?" This does draw her interest. "Isn't that illegal, presently?" Though maybe it's different for the Knights. Lou's looking to the higher up legal types to confirm. She seems sure it is. Such intense scrutiny from the legendary explorer. She's momentarily distracted by Eirene, "I'm not sure any amount of poison can kill something that stood almost as tall as our walls were. But, I suppose if you could make enough of it and somehow find a way to spray it at them from long distance? It might weaken them at least." At least, that's a thought. "OR, maybe use them like the Arvani fire? Things you can toss at them to splatter? OR, throw at them with a war machine?" Like a trebuchet. Do they have those even?

"That is a relief," Ryhalt says to Lisebet. "Though, I still hope a cure can be found speedily." As Piccola mentions talking trees he listens with the same interest as Lou, though he frowns to the back and forth between her and Lou.

Noah looks over at Jaenelle as there is a soft conversation. For a moment, he just looks at the Archduchess. Then he reaches out to move the plates from in front of her. He clears the spot and then arches both brows.


"'Treaties' may have been an incorrect term."

Piccola corrects herself. "But, certainly, an understanding with some of them." Beat. "As for Arvani fire, I was working with Lady Leena of House Igniseri in adapting a ballista to hurl urns of the chemical at the end of a bolt." Shrug. "That project did not come to fruition. But -- " Another shrug. " -- finding skilled engineers in the City has proved a difficult endeavor. If you know of any that would dedicate time and effort into war machines -- "

She leaves the topic there, that she may finish off the food on her plate and leave others to wonder when she shall explode.



"I always feel so out of sorts with these kind of meetings." Mihaly says between Eirene and Symonesse as the others converse about large and important things. "Much like talking to the both of you, always feeling like I'm out of my depth. Or I'm too old to get it." he says, stopping to glance at the Queen. "Well. There are times where I'm corrected on just young I might be." A glance at the 'fluffy stuff'. "You know, I've never been a huge fan of sweets, but I'll give it a try before I leave." And then sputters a little at Eirene's biting commentary, though pointedly saying nothing.

The talk of trees and communicating with them does seem to catch Prince Aindre's attention and he listens at length, interjecting toward the end, "The jungles in Pieros were alive with thought as well. Twice they attacked, I thought it malicious but I came to realize in the midst of the battle they were scared. I believe they were more afraid of the darkness carried by the Eurusi and their mages than by us. Pieros is far from here, but I mention it in response because of the current conversation. I wouldn't know where to begin, but nature as our allies would be formidable.." He wraps that thought up with a suggestion for Piccola, "Perhaps you should plant that seed?" That said, he reassures the Lady of Tessere, "I'll have to make a point of getting in touch with one of them or the other to learn more about these.. treaties." He seems to leave the talk of the legalities of that to Lou, but some of his interest does seem to reside there nonetheless as he finishes off the glass of whiskey he's been nursing and moves to pour another for himself. Eventually he circles back around to Arvani fire, this again for Piccola, "I worked with House Seliki on plans to create a small fleet from which to fling the Fire. Those never came to fruition either, the battle came too soon, but the plans are likely still there, half-finished, adaptable." It's a seed of another sort entirely to plant, and one he leaves with her as he leans into Symonesse a touch and asks, "You aren't finished with the sweets so soon, are you? You've hardly touched your usual entire cake and the sweetened rose-leaf raspberries aren't missing." Is he teasing? He might be.

"House Seliki," Lou suggests to Piccola. "They have many engineers within their abode. They are who we use to do things. There's also Elloise Leary. I hear she may be back in town, as well. She was once my protege." A pause, then she circles back. "And I think another excursion to talk to the trees might prove useful if you think there is new information we could get from them?" Lou gives Mihaly a consoling look. "I did forewarn we might be talking about Bastion things. It's probably for the best the crowd is smaller. Gives Aindre sufficient time to finish off whatever food we do not eat." She winks in Aindre's direction and grows quiet to listen to whatever he has to say.

Jaenelle extends her hand towards Eirene as if she understand before looking back towards Noah. "See." She says then as if the hand waving wasnt good enough to make him understand biting is allowed. Though her voice drops to speak more quietly with her person.

Lisebet nods to Ryhalt, as she feels the same way. "We are working on sharing notes and trying to research and figure out a plan of action," she tells her brother. "Hopefully we will figure out something." She half shrugs delicately, her gaze going to the conversation about Abandoned thoughtfully. "I wonder if we might also need to reach out to those among us who are so conservative, and find out if their conservative trends are being - nudged further that way perhaps?"

Eirene grabs a seat and has the fluffy stuff (Try the grey stuff, it's delicious) set before her. She offers a sympathetic smile to her husband and shrugs. "Sorry. I figured it would be good to get everyone's version of what happened. So you can hear more than my 'Ian got his ass stepped on' story." A smirk catches on her lips in a gentle sort of tease for the man who isn't here to defend himself or his actions. "And it was a nice stroll through the snow," she concludes to Mihaly.


"I shall entreat Countess Kalani immediately."

The General sets her plate down on the nearest table. Apparently, she meant //now//. A curt, military bow is given to Lou, and another to Aindre after. "My liege." She turns to the Archduchess. "I shall return to find you to vacation here once I have sent out messages." Piccola raises a fist to her mouth and pauses for a moment. And then -- *urp* -- just a light, polite, lady-like eructation. "Excuse me. I shall return to find you to vacation."

Clearly, she is non-stop.



Noah takes handsome oathlands style dagger etched with icy green feathers from long black leather belt with golden details.

Noah takes regal diamondplate dagger with a griffin themed handle from long black leather belt with golden details.

Noah takes Light's Embrace, a diamondplate stiletto dagger from long black leather belt with golden details.

Noah takes dragon rising from flames of rose and ash oathlands style cupridium dagger from long black leather belt with golden details.

Noah takes handsome cupridium dagger with a seraphinite dragon set in the crossguard from long black leather belt with golden details.

Noah takes stylish cupridium dagger featuring blue topaz dragon flames across the guard from long black leather belt with golden details.

Noah takes oathlands style cupridium dagger adorned with hessonite garnet dragon pommel from long black leather belt with golden details.

Noah takes handsome diamondplate dagger of alliance from long black leather belt with golden details.

Noah takes Intricately forged ancient steel stiletto from long black leather belt with golden details.

Noah eyes Jaenelle for a moment and then starts pulling out daggers to offer to Jaenelle. Two actually come out of his vambrances. He starts to lay some of them on the table before her. Then he leans back to take a drink of his wine and goes back to silence.

Jaenelle checks dexterity and small wpn at normal. Botch! Jaenelle fails completely.

Symonesse offers up her dazzling grin to Mihaly and says softly, "You will catch on quickly. I know it. You are at least willing to -try- to understand the world around you and that says quite a bit about you. You are also willing to try sweets just because I ask which already makes you one of my favorite people." Of course, it could be said that everyone is Symonesse's 'favorite people'. She still skims the surface of the conversation, listening with something like a nostalgic expression on her face, a little private smile as she remembers other tables full of Grayson and other conversations on the cusp of war. The past repeats itself perhaps. Aindre's comment breaks through her memories and she says with a little laugh, "And YOU haven't had a bite of cake yet. Here." Carefully, she cuts a large bite of chocolate cake with her fork, it only trembles a little bit as she tries to balance the size of the bite on the delicate silver, and holds it out to the Grayson prince, brows lifted as if daring him to refuse a direct order from the Queen to eat cake.

Corban makes a sound something like, or could be confused with, "Oh, sure, Prince Aindre gets //cake//," but as a consummate professional, Corban of course would not, could not say such things, or even mutter them under his breath. But when there is a little tremble in the Queen's hand, his food-related griping pauses and his expression takes on a look of some concern.

In the meantime the small blonde Oathlander is working her steady way through a third and fourth dessert selection and her second glass of milk. Isabeau is busy nibbling, listening and watching everything that goes on around her while steadfastly making the most gallant attempt at sampling everything. At least with desserts.

Jaenelle watches Noah begin to pull out the daggers, all seem to come from no where and everywhere all at once. "I'm sure this won't hurt. I know what im doing. Just sit there calmly while I stab you." Apparently this is a spill over from the quieter conversation they were having. "Though you could have just given me a single dagger and not dagger vomitted over the table." She selects one of them, very specifically the alliance dagger since that is the newest of the pile. Then she smashes the side of the blade against the edge of the table, doing her very best to damage and destroy the weapon.

Eirene mutters, "... I thought -I- wore a ... ... ..."

Ryhalt nods to Lisebet. "Wish I could help with comparing notes, but I really haven't looked into anything related. If it comes to needing silver for it, you know I'll help." Whatever Noah and Jaenelle are doing catches his eye and he watches thoughtfully.

Noah checks composure and etiquette at hard. Noah is successful.

Prince Aindre glances between the watchful eyes of the Queen and the bite of chocolate cake she's offering to him and for a moment he shoots his gaze across the table toward Jaenelle and asks of her, "What are the chances this is a trick?", because of course the Archduchess of all people here would know when chocolate is a trap. Still, he's just teasing in the way it's asked and he looks back to Symonesse and mentions to her, "Is this why you're not eating the whole thing? You're trying to sweeten me up. I'll have you know my Grayson heart is bitter and heavy with the weight of my burdens and the expectation placed upon my shoulders." He doesn't refuse the order from the Nox'alfar though, leaning in to carefully nick the cake from off the fork and make a show of chewing it for her, surely he's getting sweeter by the second!

"Trying is about all I can do, my Queen." Mihaly replies, allowing himself a small shade of a smile at the gesture. "I suppose when I have people like you and my wife here to hold my hand, sometimes kicking and screaming, I'm sure I'll do alright. But yes, being willing to try is usually the first step. I think it's just hard to learn to do something completely new when you're so set in your ways. Accustomed, as it were." There's some words spared between him and Symonesse, with the old Riven looking pensive, but perhaps. "...thank you, my Queen. I will say something to her tonight." he leans back up, only to turn and give Eirene a kiss on the cheek. "I think I need to talk to my niece, Pol. I will see you at home." Another nod at Symonesse. "Thank you again. I know it would mean a lot to her." Another light bow and he'll move to head out.

HIS BABIES! HIS SWEET SWEET BABIES! Noah's face looks a moment of horror when she starts whacking the table. Then he calmly clears his throat and reaches out to attempt to take the dagger out of her hand. There might be a little bit of force applied to the wrist and thumb to make her release it. "Let's not ruin the new table, Dearest." His other hand collects and tucks back in the daggers on his person "Why don't you eat cake like Aindre over there?" He just pulls the daggers away. One might note he's looking them over for damage. PRECIOUSES.

Caine Arnasis, a foul-mouthed assistant leaves, following Mihaly.

Noah puts handsome oathlands style dagger etched with icy green feathers in long black leather belt with golden details.

Noah puts regal diamondplate dagger with a griffin themed handle in long black leather belt with golden details.

Noah puts Light's Embrace, a diamondplate stiletto dagger in long black leather belt with golden details.

Noah puts dragon rising from flames of rose and ash oathlands style cupridium dagger in long black leather belt with golden details.

Noah puts handsome cupridium dagger with a seraphinite dragon set in the crossguard in long black leather belt with golden details.

Noah puts stylish cupridium dagger featuring blue topaz dragon flames across the guard in long black leather belt with golden details.

Noah puts oathlands style cupridium dagger adorned with hessonite garnet dragon pommel in long black leather belt with golden details.

Noah puts handsome diamondplate dagger of alliance in long black leather belt with golden details.

Noah puts Intricately forged ancient steel stiletto in long black leather belt with golden details.

Eirene gives Mihaly's hand a squeeze as he draws away. She eyes Jaenelle with a look of incredulity and horror. Those poor, poor, beautiful knives. But then she returns to her task of eating dessert because it's fluffy and one can use a fluffy delight after a long long day.

Isabeau finishes, looking still comfortable as she eyes another type of treacle thing nearby, but doesn't reach for it. She looks around and smiles at everyone sweetly, "Oh, right. I brought some presents!" she says as she begins to smooth her hands down the black velvet of her gown, looking over to visually bring over one of her usual retinues who is, indeed, possessed of a couple boxes.

The daggers on the table can't be missed, so that also catches Lisebet's attention. She blinks a bit, but then simply watches quietly. She has noticed that there's a Queen present. And also fluffy dessert. Hey, this fluffy dessert is really good.

"A trick or a test, both have merit when presented before someone you do not wish to be disappointed from. Everyone knew you'd not deny Her Highness the opportunity to share something she enjoys with you, such as the cake. I believe the real test isnt in whether you eat the cake, but how you eat the cake that matters," Jaenelle answers even as the dagger is removed from her hand and carefully slipped away by Noah. She smiles over towards Aindre, "did you eat it quickly and dismiss the playfulness of the offer? Did you show appreciation for the gesture without boarding into ridicule? Did you offer something in return to Her Highness for the thing she gave you? It is the response that is the trick, the cake is just a cake."

Lou has stopped talking about dark things and stuff along those lines since Noah brought out the dagger collection, not quite sure she has any words for that occasion, or anything else, as she watches him with bemusement which fades to contemplation. She glances aside to Symonesse quizzically after a few moments, then seemingly dares to quietly ask a question of her.

Symonesse had been engaging in a few quiet words with Mihaly, but Jaenelle slamming the dagger against the side of the table makes the Queen jump in her chair and nearly smear cake all over his chin instead of into his mouth. Mihaly manages to slip away in the commotion and the Queen's eyes follow him, her expression pensive, tired, and strangely sad. She manages to recover something of her grin as Aindre obliges in taking a bite of cake from her and she says with a glances between Jaenelle and Aindre, offering playfully to the Archduchess as she sets the cake fork aside, "Sometimes, cake is just cake, Jaenelle. You have been hanging out with Lycenes too long."

Eirene keens her head at Isabeau, giving a little grin. "Anything I can take home to my kids? 'Did you bring us presents' is usually the first thing they ask when I get back from going anywhere." She toasts Lisabet with her fork as she too enjoys the dessert. A flicker of concern flashes over her face, much like Corbin's from before, as she watches the Queen and Mihaly converse and the Queen's gentle expression changes. But she hides it as she looks back down to her plate. "I may have to go give them some of this, else they'll never forgive me."

Isabeau seems to settle on Jaenelle and Symonesse as her two 'victims' of gift giving after a moment. Asking them both, "Your Majesty, your Grace, might you accept a small gift from myself and Lady Ivy Blackram?" she queries after counting the boxes, "I shall have to send Princess Liara hers later." Isabeau gives a soft tut at Eirene's words, "I don't know that they'd appreciate it yet." she concedes, "It's a boring adult sort of present."

"They'd probably have more fun with the box," Eirene concedes to Isabeau.

To his credit, Prince Aindre does seem to enjoy the cake even as he's been ordered to partake in it. He takes his time in savoring the sweetness of it and when he's swallowed it he imparts to Jaenelle, "That was more theories on cake than I ever could have expected when I made that jest..", with a way that's so sincere as to be a compliment touched with a little surprise. "Some people here.." - he isn't saying who - "..know I don't often partake in the sweet. I do have my vices, but they often come hand-in-hand with a practice sword and a hard sweat." Training must be a vice these days. The griffin-blooded prince returns his attention to Symonesse, "Speaking of cake, I'm reminded now that we're here again in the manor together that I still need to show you that weird, old book I had questions about in the study. Unless the evening's been taxing enough? We could escape dinner for the sake of a story. I'm sure a glass of wine could follow us if we're careful not to spill it..". The offer made, he leans back in his chair to better let Isabeau make good on her gift giving.

Lisebet takes a moment to grin at Eirene, all things considered. "I might have to take this home to my family if only a small bit. I'm not sure who would kill me first, Harlan or the children." That's definitely a tease, even though her duke of a husband is not present. She nods to Symonesse, with a polite grace acknowledging the Queen, when there's a moment.

"Sometimes, a cake is just a cake. Though I admit, the Lycene thing is probably correct," Jaenelle agrees with a soft laugh as she looks towards Symonesse. Her attention shifts towards Isabeau, brows lifting as a gift is mentioned. "I dont believe I have had the pleasure of meeting Lady Ivy. Thank you, and she, for the thought and I am sure I am adilt enough for sich an adult present." Something Noah says causes Jaenelle to wiggle her fingers in his direction. A grin is flashed in Aindre's direction, "It often causes people to pause for a moment before they ask a question to figure out if they actually want an answer. My children stopped asking why so many years ago."

Noah offers a comment to Jaenelle and then looks towards the door. There is a clear let's go.

Symonesse's golden eyes widen in surprise when Isabeau offers a gift and says with a smile, "Of course, Duchess. I would be delighted, but also feel a little guilty that I don't have anything to give in return." She gives Jaenelle a grin as she says with a familiar sort of affection, "Not that being Lycene is a -bad- thing. Some of my best friends are Lycenes." She gives Aindre a look and says with a little laugh, "If you say a whole bottle can follow us as we look at this book and you ask me a million questions about if I remember who wrote it, then I will agree."

Eirene accepts a small to-go bundle from a servant who was kind enough to wrap it up for her. The box is handed oer with the fabric and she oohs at the soft bundle. "I could make a new scarf outta this," she says with a grin at Isabeau. "This stuff's nice and warm, and Gods know I don't do winter well." She's out on that, with a grateful bow of her head.

Carissa, a Southport bodyguard, Planchet the Lycene maggiordome leave, following Eirene.

Lou's quiet conversation with Symonesse is waylaid by Isabeau handing out gifts. She smiles a bit at the Oathlander woman, nodding her head appreciatively.

Jaenelle runs her hand against the material that is offered with a warm smile in return. "This is beautiful, and so very soft. I am impressed with the level of quality." She extends it to Noah for him to touch as well, because sharing is caring! "Do you mind if we come with?" she asks Aindre and Symonesse in turn. "Not because of the book, or the wine, or the questions, but because I've moved in this week and want to see more of my new house."

Lou smiles a bit as Isabeau offer presses a package to her hands. "Thank you," she looks down to see she's holding some cloudspine velvet. Her expression is a bit puzzled, like the armor toting, never fancy dress wearing Grayson has no idea what to do with the velvet. "I'm sure we'll find a use for this."

Lisebet reaches to pat Ryhalt on the shoulder. "I should get back home." She turns to Lou briefly, adding, "Lou, I'll drop by later to chat," she tells her friend. "If you want to stop by Ashford House before I get over there, do feel free." She's on purpose not disturbing the ongoing conversations.

With the gift of the cloth, Symonesse smiles brightly, then rises from her seat and goes over to give Isabeau a hug in return, because this is what Symonesses do. She gives the Duchess a squeeze, not caring if it is awkward or maybe she hugs her for a moment too long, and says softly, "Thank you, Duchess. You and your family are in my prayers." She stands straight, gives Lisebet a squeeze on the shoulder in passing as she says softly, "I haven't forgotten about you, I promise." Then, as she starts to make her way out of the dining room, she passes Corban, pats his arm and says quietly, "Take the night off and get some cake and wine. I am safe here, I promise." Then, she beckons to Jaenelle, Aindre, and Noah. "Come. Let's go look at this 'old' book. I swear, it's going to be like two centuries old at MOST."

Ryhalt nods in agreement with Lisebet. "Yes, I ought to be heading back, also. Thank you once more for the invitation and am looking forward to opportunities to help efforts to rebuild as they get organized." He smiles to Lou and rises to depart the hall.

Reedy, a King's Own aide leaves, following Corban.

"I say a whole bottle can follow us, and I almost certainly have as many questions as you can answer plus one more..", Prince Aindre mentions for the sake of Queen Symonesse, pushing his plate away and rising from his seat at the table. He looks over to Lou, "I think this dinner went great. I needed a good meal after what's happened and the conversation was fun and productive both in places. Thank you for calling all of us together, cousin. I'll see you again soon? Our work is going to be endless." All the while he's talking he's finding his swordbelt and tightening it back on and in one hand he searches out a bottle of wine that hasn't even been opened yet. His other hand is offered to the Queen only to find she's already up and moving and dismissing her guard and beckoning and he's far behind the action! "It's more than two centuries old! It's older than dirt, I promise! We can't even breathe on it!", and at that he's moving off to defend his notions of age and literature.

As Jophiel finishes his drink, he smiles at Lou. "Lovely dinner and company. There has been much said tonight. It is getting rather late, so I will be taking my leave here." Bowing slightly, he stands and leaves.

Orvis leaves, following Jophiel.

Isabeau gives Lou an amused smile before raising her hands, clad in black gloves before suggesting, "Warm gloves? The softest house slippers ever?" She gives a sweet smile, "I couldn't not give you something too, your Highness." She looks over at Jaenelle, "I cannot take credit for anything but the boring bureaucracy and creativity in presentation. Lady Medeia marveled over how it is like wearing a warm hu-"

Isabeau cuts off as she receives the hug, and is not loathe to return it, warmly - possibly using her usual sweet nature to keep it from appearing too awkward. "I know Lady Ivy wanted to see if you might come to the release, but you are so busy your Majesty. I hope you enjoy the labor of her love and care and my dedication to paper shuffling." She smiles a little.



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