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Lara Cavalier

"Where is it written that I can't be the princess and the frog?"

0 · 786 views · located in The Black Keep

a character in “Blackvale”, as played by CabbageAngel

Description

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{{ La Valse d'Amelie ✦✦✦ O Vertigo ✦✦✦ Hold My Heart ✦✦✦ Please Just Stay Dead ✦✦✦ Asleep }}


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❝I have dark secrets to keep, too. Roses make me sneeze. I fear the court will turn on me if they discover I am not fond of them. Nobles love their thorns and roses.❞

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♚FULL NAME♚
Lara Lee Cavalier
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♚NICKNAMES♚
Frog/Froggy
|| Pet Name from Lord James. ||
White Frog of the Marsh
|| Unfortunate title. Also given by Lord James.||
The Swan Princess
|| Another title. Given by Lady Beatrice. ||
Any insult that incorporates "vomit"
|| The incident was quite a popular scandal. ||


♚AGE♚
20
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♚ROLE♚
Eldest daughter of the Cavalier House
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♚ORIENTATION♚
Heterosexual

♚HOUSE SIGIL♚
Swan
|| ❝Beauty in dark places.❞ ||


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♚HEIGHT♚

5'4'' (163 cm)

♚WEIGHT♚
112 lbs

♚HAIR♚
Lara's hair is blonde and wavy, travelling down past her shoulders. It often coils into curls on its own accord, becoming a mess of curls in humid weather. She wears it out unless Lady Beatrice gets to her before she's out the door, letting it fall in front of her eyes like a protective veil.

♚EYES♚
She has large, round hazel eyes, leaning towards brown. Depending on the light, her eyes range from appearing amber to dark brown. They are very expressive and barely anything can be hidden behind them.

♚ODDITIES♚
Lara has a faded beauty spot above her lip on her left side and several moles scattered down her back and other places commonly hidden, not to be noticed by anyone not actively looking. The shadows beneath her eyes fade with sleep but never disappear and during the warmer seasons the skin around her eyes and her nose go red on account of her hay fever. She has a small indent on the left side of her face near her lips, a scar that she's too embarrassed to share how she got.
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♚APPEARANCE♚
Lara is not a goddess nor particularly graceful and often is mistaken for younger. Standing among the other Noblewomen at Blackvale makes her feel like a frog instead of a swan princess, despite having her own quirky beauty. She carries a deceiving air of innocence with her which tricks people into overlooking her more reckless and mischievous personality. If anyone bothers to observe her closely, the shine in her eyes and secretive smile that say "I'm more trouble than you think" are noticed. Her thin frame makes her appear fragile but she's stronger than one would assume, though her pale skin does bruise easily and is often littered with purple marks. She likes to wear boots and simple dresses that let her breathe and run however, Lady Beatrice has taken away the right to dress herself for Blackvale and her wardrobe is filled with elegant, tight and heavy gowns and silken shoes that don't like the mud.



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❝The most terrifying thing I've seen is a swan defending its brood.❞

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♚PERSONALITY♚

Curious |✦| Reckless |✦| Reserved |✦| Mischievous |✦| Devoted












































From a glance, nobody would suspect plain little Lara of being some sort of rogue. She's quiet and well mannered, curtsies and compliments, has nothing to add to a conversation other than a nod or a phrase from a selection of rehearsed dialogue and appears to have no opinions whatsoever. Simply put, she's a bore.

Tucked away from strangers, it's obvious that there is more to her character than what she lets on. She speaks with actions louder than words, passively tolerating someone she doesn't want to speak to and then the moment they are distracted slipping out the window and climbing to another story to escape. With her family, she shows wit and can share her poetry and music, and if anyone has anything to say against her siblings and father her passive nature is immediately shed. With her mother... she's more lenient. She has a mischievous sense of humor and finds it hard to keep a lady-like composure with the likes of the Davernys and other trouble makers running around the Black Keep. At times that her boredom becomes too much for her she sets off to create mischief of her own, though now her only partner in crime is her rabbit. Her curiosity sends her exploring down every path and gathering many useless (and sometimes dangerous) secrets and her interest perks up around people with lives of adventure, something she aches for. This curiosity is innocent, the information gathered merely for self-satisfaction, but it can get her into bigger trouble than she expected. Unfortunately, a roguish son is more accepted than a roguish daughter and she's made to hide anything unseemly, even if those "unseemly" traits are what she feels are the best bits of her. There have been many times where she's struggled to haul her lower half through the window and snatch up a book moments before someone entered her room.

But of course, she'd never truly run away. Her siblings mean too much to her to even consider leaving them behind. She has a strong devotion to them and can become whatever they need her to be in a moment. They are her strength but also her downfall, as they can be used against her. Her sisterly nature extends to all children and she feels an uncomfortable yearning to protect people who have exposed weakness to her, even if she doesn't particularly like them.

Unless it clashes with her morals, Lara will without fail choose the most bizarre or interesting option in any given situation.


♚HABITS♚

Rearranges everything within arms reach while agitated. Sucks on her bottom lip while thinking or absorbed. Takes a little peek through every window and open door she walks by.


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♚STRENGTHS♚

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"Invisibility" ✦ Her slightness and lack of presence sometimes results in people having secret conversations while she's standing stiff in the same room. It happens on the odd occasion and sometimes she wishes that she never heard anything, especially if the information is the kind that people kill to keep secret. When she does want to overhear someone, she can get close without causing alarm and eavesdrop. She's also quite skilled at taking things from a person without them noticing.

Musicality ✦ She plays the harp. Her harp has a stronger and sweeter voice than her own and she refuses to perform to anyone other than the Cavaliers and children. Her parents insist that her ability have the potential to charm others.

Agility ✦ From a childhood of leaping from branch to branch and climbing the tallest trees in the province to perch at their tips, she retains her reflexes and hasn't lost the physical feats she used to perform. If she was ever bored at home, she would open a window and climb outside to the roof - without her mother's knowledge of course.

Pacifying ✦ From breaking apart her siblings, surely, Lara is blessed with the gift of soothing anger and calming or... postponing, at least, a bubbling fight.

Bravery ✦ That leads to selflessness, which is good for the people around her but not so much for her. While not brave in a social sense, it takes guts to look down on the world fifty feet from the ground on a swaying seat. Either that or a complete lack of self preservation. Though her Mother's tight hand has squeezed such stunts out of her, in a fight or flight situation she is quick to recover the strength it took to do them.

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Image ♚LIKES♚

Dreams // Bittersweet endings // The harp // Any activity that covers her in dirt // Flirts // Books // Delilah // Befriending animals // Opening every window // Climbing // Solitude // Spitting cherry pips from high places (and aiming to hit) // Children's games // Lake sounds – insects, frogs, ducks, etc // Storms // Short poems // Warm nights // Dancing with someone familiar // Treasure // Whistling // Bare feet // Unconventional thinking // Her family, but sometimes not her mother // Adventures and adventurers // Food she shouldn't be eating is the best food
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♚WEAKNESSES♚

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Naivety✦ Something about her is fragile and childlike and everyone can see it. This unfortunately attracts people looking for something easy to break. She's also very lenient in what she believes.

Introverted ✦ As a Noble stuck in a situation like Blackvale, the stress of socialisation takes its heavy toll. If you expect witty remarks and seductive banter, feast not your eyes upon her. Many people, especially quick witted nobles trained in the art of speech, consider her lack of social ability dull and find her boring to hold a conversation with. If Lara feels too overwhelmed, she will run away.

Passive ✦ In an argument, it currently only takes only one topic to arc her up. She often allows people to tread on her and her opinions are easily swayed by a convincing perspective.

Limited self-defence training ✦ Sometimes, improvisation isn't enough.

Curiousity ✦ Killed the cat.

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Image♚DISLIKES♚

Hunting // Horses // Distance // Blackvale // “Obviously” evil people // Curses // Holding her tongue // Etiquette // Corsets // Locks // Swamp jokes // Kissing ass // The cold // Being mistaken as younger // Midday // People always, always feeling the need to bring up her dead brother // Mushrooms // Heavy clothes // Slow dances with strangers // Snitches // Unsolved mysteries // Hidden faces // Liars // Roses (mildly allergic) // Being taken advantage of // Nightmares of the past // CUSTARD
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XXXX♚HOPES♚♚FEARS♚ XXXX
Her siblings growing up healthy and living the lives they choose
Her children not inheriting the curse her deceased brother did
Having her true personality accepted by the other nobles and her mother
An adventure to write a book about
A friend to write a song for

Horse Riding
Losing another sibling
Performing for a crowd
Crying in public
Poisoning the king's lineage


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♚HISTORY♚


Lara is the firstborn of Lord James and Lady Beatrice. As much as her parents desired her to behave like a civilised child, the moment she could crawl she could decimate a room. As a toddler, the sounds of Beatrice's screams were commonplace. Lara had a tendency to climb up to the highest most dangerous places when she was alone in a room, almost like she was looking for an escape. James decided to calm his wife's nerves by taking Lara out while he went on trips and let her go exploring in the yard while he kept a watchful eye on her. James gave her the pet name Frog because of the way she jumped from branches without fear and always returned from the garden either wet, dirty or both. Her playmate was a hunting hound, massive in comparison to her size.

When she was two, her first human playmate was born - but she was not allowed to touch him. Her parents treated her little brother Rydar like he was made of glass and Lara was constantly shooed from the baby when she reached out to take his hand. She was told that he was ill and couldn't touch him because of that. Of course that didn't mean the toddler stopped trying. By the time Penelope was born, Rydar was beginning to show interest in joining Lara on her adventures while Beatrice began to grow weary of her daughter's lifestyle and began being stricter with her "lady" lessons. Lara responded to this by being more rebellious, her pranks slowly becoming more malicious. She felt that her parents were being unfair by keeping Rydar locked away so one day she broke him out and lead him by the hand to see her secret hideout. Lady Beatrice's shrieks as she frantically searched for her missing child were the most horror-stricken they had ever been, but they were too far behind Lara and Rydar to be heard by their young ears. Luckily, Rydar returned home with only a scratch - a scratch that sent her mother into a hysterical fit. Lara remembers this as the only time her father ever hit her. She was locked in her room for a week and forbidden from going outside for an entire month.

The day Rydar died is a harrowing memory that she can't erase no matter how many stars she wishes upon. The sudden squeak and thud, the bright sun shining through the window and his body all come to her at once now and again. If she could compare how she felt when she turned around to anything, it would be stumbling across the corpse of one of her father's hunting hounds that had bowed down to age. She remembers how quiet it was, how eerily silent, then hearing Penelope distantly crying from above her and her mother's footsteps as she attended to her. She doesn't quite remember the funeral, but any noble who attended will always remember the young girl who stared at her brother's burning body until there was nothing left of him without shedding one tear, no matter how much her mother and father insisted that she leave. When Lara noticed the bulge of her mother's belly only a month after the funeral, she shrieked at her for replacing Rydar and ran off into the woods to be found wet and shivering by a search party in the boughs of the giant tree she once stole away Rydar to see, clutching the buried "treasure" they had hidden by its roots. When she was returned home, she wasn't scolded for running away for once and instead was greeted by an overjoyed hug and a warm dinner and sent to bed without being asked questions. That night she took her crying sister from her cot and allowed her to sleep in her bed, and thus her role as a protector began.

Rydar's death changed her. She became more willing to be a Lady and took up an instrument at her mother's suggestion. She began to read every book she could get her hands on to be "accomplished". One of those books was her family's history for curiosity's sake, where she learned that the illness of Rydar had been passed down the Cavalier family line which led to her confronting James about their curse. That was the day she learned of the Cavalier's secret, knowledge that she didn't know how to take and therefore didn't respond to. Lara still went on her explorations, if anything those books inspired her more, but she didn't go alone anymore. She had three little siblings to look after and she treasured each of them with all of her heart. Whatever they took interest in, she would immediately entertain them with. Her sisters learned instruments like her and they played together to help practise fly by and she and Xavier played capture the flag in the woods behind the manor. It was a game where nothing was foul play, not even spit or hiding your flag at the bottom of the lake.

By eighteen, she had successfully created a ladylike version of herself with, in her opinion, all the best bits cut out and was ready to be wed. Before meeting with her first suitor she was so determined to not marry that she gorged herself on mountains of custard in the kitchens and wore roses in her hair to give herself a rash on her face. She remembered thinking that the nobleman actually had quite kind eyes before she took aim and threw up yellow gunk all down his dress attire. Lara was sent to her room in shame but she couldn't stop laughing and nearly killed her siblings with the story. Unfortunately... that story did not stay in the Eastmarshes. Her noble suitor turned out to be quite the blabber mouth and spread it to every other lord and lady within the Blackvale. Despite the embarrassment, Lara was pleased with the outcome as James and Beatrice found it impossible to rope another suitor. To this day she pretends that the incident was apart of an elaborate scheme to avoid marriage for good instead of something she just did on a whim.

Now, Lady Beatrice is determined to marry her off to the future king himself and has forced Lara into submission by threatening what she loves the most. With the fate of her sisters weighing down her shoulders, Lara feels that she has no choice but to win him over, but fears what would happen if she did.


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{{ Dollhouse ✦✦✦ Where Is My Mind? }}

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❝Ah, shit.❞


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FC // Mia Wasikowska

Hexcode // #A8C5EA


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So begins...

Lara Cavalier's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sylas Thorne Character Portrait: Aurora Grayson Character Portrait: Rosalyn Grayson Character Portrait: Jonah Allyrion Character Portrait: Clara Allyrion Character Portrait: Vivienne Chaimbers Character Portrait: Seraphina Grayson Character Portrait: Sylva Thorne Character Portrait: Jonathan Chaimbers Character Portrait: Lara Cavalier Character Portrait: Frederick Chaimbers

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LARA CAVALIER
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Eldest Child | The White Frog, Swan Princess
#A8C5EA | Outfit


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The expression is always the hardest part, Lara consoled herself as she unpicked the doll's smile for the third time with raw fingers. The rest of her handiwork was perfect – an ideal girl with golden hair who stood composed in a pretty dress – but when it came to a believable smile Lara's ability always fell short. She was ready to give up. She took no enjoyment in sewing nor in projecting herself onto childish playthings, despite having a knack for both. Now that she'd pulled out of her trance, she ran her tongue over her bottom lip and discovered it to be swollen from being absent-mindedly sucked on while she worked. There was without a doubt lipstick coating her teeth at this point.

The sweltering heat was getting to her, her eyes drooping and head getting heavy with dreams of a cool breeze or spring. She knew that her legs were dripping with sweat beneath her ridiculous skirts. How long had she been in this carriage for? She shut her eyes and rested the back of her head against the seat, almost falling asleep to the lull of the wheels and the fragments of a conversation between her father and the guard being held on horseback outside. She let out a silent sigh and rested the faceless doll on her poofy lap when a sharp ahem caught her attention. She squinted open her eyes to meet the disapproving scowl of her mother, The Beak of the Marsh. Now, Lara was very well aware that 'marsh' was just another fancy name for swamp and she knew that would be no secret to any of the other nobles either. Surely, the Cavaliers of Swampland were going to be brought up and chuckled about at least once in dinner conversation by someone she was obligated to dance with. Actually, if she considered that an embarrassment, perhaps she should have been more worried about the story surrounding her last attempted marriage circling the halls of the Black Keep. Oh, she could already hear the squire announcing their arrival and the whispers of smirking noblemen and women with nothing better to do than sit and preen each other's feathers.


“AHEM.” Lara snapped her attention back to the calculative gaze of her mother. “Sit up straight, you'll flatten your hair.” Lady Beatrice scolded, then narrowed her green eyes and leaned forward to inspect her daughter, “Not that you've done anything to deserve me worrying for it. Here,” her hands attacked her stunning updo and pulled away two golden pins with clusters of creamy white pearls garnishing their tips. Lara watched her hands work as they twisted the platinum curls that framed her face and pinned them back, retrieving new pins from her own hair until Lara's was completely done up and Beatrice's red waves were scraping past her shoulders. Beatrice broke into an earnest smile as she fell back to admire her work, clapping her weathered hands together. No matter how much powder she dusted her skin with, the veins and swollen joints on her fingers denied her ignorance of her age. “There we go. See how much nicer that is? It looks like you put in an effort for them.” Lara touched her hair self-consciously and frowned.

“Smile!” Beatrice demanded jovially and stretched her daughter's powdered cheeks, “You only get an opportunity like this once. All you have to do is dance and laugh and curtsey and you'll blow them all away. Do you understand how lucky you are to meet your to-be husband so long before you are to be wed?”

Lara gave her mother a sympathetic look, knowing that she, like many others, had met her father on the same day as their marriage... for better or for worse. “Mother, are you glad that you married Father?”

“The Gods have my gratitude,” Beatrice half-lied. Even Lara could tell that it was more complicated than that. “Your Father is a good man. With him, I have birthed many beautiful children.” She smiled endearingly at Lara and the young woman smiled back hopefully. “But I will not flatter you for any longer. I know you only mean to distract me.”

“That was not my intention at all!” Lara insisted hurriedly, “I was only wondering whether that nobleman was a good man, like Father is. Perhaps I should apologise in person for what happened. We could visit on our -”

“You're two years too late,” Beatrice warned. “I cannot believe I'm saying this, but your rebellion blossomed into this opportunity and we should all be glad. You will not weasel your way out of this, do you understand me? The only way to avoid this was to marry that man on that day.”

“How was I supposed to know this disaster was going to happen?” Lara grumbled under her breath childishly and leaned back.

“Sit up, think of your hair! This is an opportunity, not a disaster and you should be grateful. Nobody knew, Lara Lee. We all thought you had thrown away your future. It’s a miracle that we even received an invitation. Now, must you argue? Your voice is giving me a headache. Go back to sewing, your doll is missing its smile.” Lara dipped her head down and picked up her needle and thread, not wanting to upset her mother further. Beatrice watched her with pursed lips before deciding to enforce her authority one step more. “You do understand what I am saying, Lara Lee? That to deserve a King -”

“I must act like a Queen, I know.” Lara finished sullenly. Her knees shifted uncomfortably and she tried to find them under her mound of skirts, but all she found was her faceless doll. A satisfied smile crept across Beatrice's face.

“And from what I can see, my little girl isn't holding her head like it balances a crown,” she cooed and tilted her child's chin up. The wavering strength in Lara's brown eyes displeased her and she dug her thumbnail into the skin beneath her swollen lip, “Don't let the crown fall.”

Lara only nodded, her own face betraying her by clearly displaying how terrified she was made by this entire ordeal. The expression, after all, was the hardest part. The conversation continued as Lady Beatrice forced Lara to recite the lines she had to say when meeting with the King and Queen and reminded her of the houses she was allowed to converse with, and the characters that she would be flayed for approaching. When the ride came to an end, the lecturing did not. As Lara hitched up her masses of skirts and stepped out of the carriage she felt that her face was about to melt off from boredom. She slipped before she made it to the ground and was immediately assisted by rough hands.

“Your feet asleep, Frog?” Lara looked up at the serious face of her father. She immediately wrapped him into a hug and hit one foot against the ground in an attempt to wake it.

“I'm afraid I'm not a very good frog today.” There was bitterness in those words and James understood why.

“It's a long journey,” he said apologetically and returned her hug, rocking her like a child. “That's not over yet. You should have come outside to join me for a ride. You would enjoy the landscape."

"Ha! Me, on a ho-" As if on cue, a loud snort interrupted Lara's indignant reply and she yelped and clutched to her father like a lifeline. She felt hot air on the back of her neck and whimpered, scooting around behind him to glare at the creature from a safe distance.

"Your desire for freedom is no rival to your fear," James ridiculed and scratched his stallion behind the ears. Lara glanced up at the horse's soulless, buggy eyes and mimicked it by flaring her nostrils. "It bothers me, how my daring frog can look down at the world from the tallest tree... yet succumb to tears when on top of a horse."

"I am not crying!" she shot, I won't cry, I was a child then! I have the good sense to not get on one, now!" The horse whinnied and Lara almost looked apologetic. "Please just... send it away. Now. Please, before I hurt its feelings further."

"Alright, Froggy." James grunted. "Fiore, there. Tch tch." The horse walked over to the Castillon staff tasked with handling it. James shook his head with a sigh at his daughter's erratic behaviour then whispered, "Chin up. Your Mother's coming."

“No, no.” Beatrice bustled over and pried the father and daughter apart. “Did I hear frog? There will be no frogs here, only swans.”

“Shall I send her back home, then?” James made a gesture telling Lara to slip away and turned to his wife with a frown, “When will you admit that our daughter is a frog?”

Lara stifled laughter and shuffled around the back of the carriage while her parents argued whether she was a frog or a swan. Even a little disagreement like that could be blown out of proportion and she didn't like to stick around when things got heavy. From there she could still hear her parents bickering and cradled her naked arms, sighing. She was already beginning to feel lonely. For someone who appreciated solitude as much as herself, it was odd that the thought of her siblings being so far away from her made her feel stripped and vulnerable.

"Lady Lara," one of the Cavalier guardsmen addressed her and she readjusted her features as quickly as she could - not quick enough, he saw her frown. She turned to him and her eyes immediately lightened with joy at what he held in his hands. A little pink nose squeezed through the bars of a cage, sniffing the air excitedly as it sensed the presence of its mother.

"Delilah!" Lara moved forward in a rush, accidentally treading on her skirt and slipping a little before swooping in and retrieving the fat white rabbit from its prison. She nuzzled her fur without care for the make up stains she was leaving on the creature and scratched behind her long ears, the spell of loneliness and vulnerability inside of her lifted. After calming down from their reunion she peered at the guardsman through one eye and pulled her face away from her rabbit to flash him a huge grin. "Sorry that I asked this of you. Delilah is a Cavalier too, just... not what you expected to be guarding? I hope she wasn't trouble." That was a lie. She was yearning to hear of any sort of mishap.

"There was no trouble, my Lady." The guardsmen said and bowed.

"Are you sure? Not even a fox that gave you the evil eye or a necklace she yanked from a lady's neck?"

"... No, I don't recall anythi -"

"If you say so." Lara twisted on her heels with Delilah cradled in her arms and began to trot back to her parents, ignoring the guard asking to put the rabbit back into the cage. "Don't worry, Lilah. I'm sure he'll notice the hole you chewed through his trousers soon." She reassured the rabbit. When Lara returned she found Lord and Lady Swan to be in the exact same argument she left them in. "Where is it written that I can't be the princess and the frog?" She piped up as she hopped between them. Lady Beatrice groaned and spun away while Lord James scratched Delilah's head and made "chu" noises.

"Lara Lee, please realise that your father is insulting you - are you holding a rabbit?"

"It can't be helped," she claimed, "Magnolia insisted that I take her with me and now, Delilah tires of cages. I won't force her to do anything against her will." Because I'm a good mother. She thought bitterly and watched her mother's lips tighten. James was quick to separate them.

"I think it's time we go in," he said briskly, "Lara, please put the rabbit away. We don't want to make any unsavoury first impressions." Lara nodded and went to find the cage, which she discovered not with the guard but with a servant of the Black Keep. She asked him to take her to her room for the time being and feed her before coming back to her parents while attempting to rub off the dirty rabbit paw print on her bust. She forced a smile and a nod and her parents reached out to put a hand on each of her shoulders before they began to ascend the stairs to the castle.

~~~

Upon taking one step inside Lara was assaulted by what she felt to be a million reflections of herself, all on shiny metallic surfaces. This was the grandest grand foyer she had ever seen, large and filled to the brim with expense over expense. A part of her was impressed and wanted to run around touching everything, but a bigger part was regretful the children weren't there to see the castle. They would have loved it. A servant came to speak to them and Lara's eyes continued to scan everything in sight during his small rehearsed greeting.

She raised her brow as she passed a particularly polished display she could see herself clearly reflected on in full. At least, the creature that followed her movements - instead of a frog an unfamiliar "Princess" blinked right back at her. The illusion was broken when she grinned and she rubbed furiously at the pink wax speckling her teeth. She dismissed her reflection with a wave like it would go away then smiled at the thought of something humorous. Delilah was going to dig into this goldmine like a drunkard diving into a sea of whiskey. Beatrice shushed her quiet giggle, glancing in her direction. Her eyes widened in alarm when she noticed the faded dirt on Lara's chest. Lara ducked her head down in guilt then distracted herself with the magnificent ballroom. She couldn't help but feel just a little bit excited as she looked around at who else had arrived. The Allyrions had just been introduced before them, their son looking just like the wolf he was spoken to be and their young daughter - just older than Penelope - looking more like a big-eyed doe than a fierce predator. Lara looked to the others, not allowing herself to give the males thought and instead fixating herself on the ladies of the court. Her face paled as she stared at the back of the bewitching woman in the midnight gown, sunk when she spotted the blonde beauty in pale blue then turned grey as she zoned in on the three fair blonde sisters. Each Noblewoman held their own unique and intriguing air, one of them - the woman in the pink dress - seeming to have something particularly dangerous lingering in her smile. Dangerous meaning tempting. Was it an unspoken rule that all nobility must be gorgeous? With which of her lacking charms was she supposed to compete against these women with? Now she was getting annoyed with herself. She didn't need beauty or any pretty, witty, fluttery words! If she could tackle two fighting hounds, why not a romantic rival? No, not romantic. Political opponent. Not even that. Prince bandit. That sounded better. If only to make her day a little brighter, it was all she could ask - all she could pray - that that nobleman had already married and sunk to the bottom of the ocean on his honeymoon voyage. Perhaps she was being too morbid in her wishes.


"I present the noble house of Cavalier. Lord James and Lady Beatrice, escorting their eldest daughter, Lady Lara Lee."

Lara glanced up from her daydreams with a snap. She gave her parents a signal for help with her eyes that was returned by an urging look. She held her breath and made sure to not let the crown fall as she stepped forth to sink into a very low, respectful curtsey. She was not excited to meet the King, she was not excited to meet the King, no, she was not excited... She didn't dare look up at the two intimidating and (secretly) awe-inspiring figures before her.

"Your Majesties," she said softly, but not quietly. "The Gods have my gratitude." Such a simple set of words that took forever to come out right in practise. In truth her mother had planned a page long monologue about how brave the King was and how beautiful the Queen was but while standing in front of everyone like this... she couldn't. She couldn't find it within herself to spill out such pretentious jargon with everyone watching, it felt too much like a performance. She stood out of her curtsey and moved back to her parents who gave her small nods of approval then walked with her to edge of the room to await the next attendants. Lara had a violent vision of the chandelier above her falling down and crushing her head right then and there and spent a moment debating whether it was a nightmare or fantasy. As unusual as it was for her... she was in a bloody bad mood, and as per usual... she was terrible at hiding it.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Gwendolynn Castillon Character Portrait: Rhaegar Castillon Character Portrait: Brom Castillon Character Portrait: Sylas Thorne Character Portrait: Aurora Grayson Character Portrait: Avery Thatcher Character Portrait: Rosalyn Grayson Character Portrait: Ilene Thatcher Character Portrait: Jonah Allyrion Character Portrait: Clara Allyrion Character Portrait: Vivienne Chaimbers Character Portrait: Seraphina Grayson Character Portrait: Sylva Thorne Character Portrait: Jonathan Chaimbers Character Portrait: Lara Cavalier Character Portrait: Marynn Daverny Character Portrait: Howell Daverny Character Portrait: Elliot Thatcher Character Portrait: Benjy Daverny Character Portrait: Frederick Chaimbers

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AVERY THATCHER
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Eldest Son | The Armadillo
#FF4500 | Outfit
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ELLIOT THATCHER
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Youngest Son | The Casanova
#551A8B | Outfit
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ILENE THATCHER
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Only Daughter | The Thorny Rose
#CD1076 | Outfit

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"Oh come on, you can do better than that," Avery grinned at his younger brother, lowering the large shield with the family armadillo crest adorning the front. "Where was the soul in that swing? The fight?"

"Oh shut up or it'll be your soul floating about," Elliot grumbled as he recovered from the bounce his swing had produced when it collided with Avery's shield. Elliot rolled his shoulders and twirled his swords in his hands as he got back into a crouching position as he and Avery circled each other.

"You'll have to practice more for that feat. At this rate you wouldn't be able to slaughter a slug," Avery taunted, his blue eyes alight with a teasing glint. Elliot gave a war cry as he rushed forward, right sword swinging, forcing Avery to bring his shield up and step back as Elliot twirled with the force to bring his left sword down at Avery's shoulder which Avery parried only to get a kick. Avery stumbled back from the kick and barely brought his shield up to block the two sword coming down from above. Avery flicked his own sword out to swat Elliot's ankles with the flat of his blade. "Better! But I still got you. In a real fight I would have slashed your ankles and you would be downed."

"If you didn't have that shield to hide behind I would have gotten you," Elliot growled as he pulled back to get some distance.

"Most will fight with shields. You need to find a way to get beneath them or you'll never win."

"Oh honestly, don't you two ever get bored of playing with your swords?" Ilene grumbled from where she sat beneath a shaded tree. Ilene pulled at one of her threads in her needle work as she fixed one of Avery's shirts. Her blond hair was down today, cascading down around her face and shoulders as she worked.

Elliot couldn't help the grin playing on his lips. "No, it is actually quite fun to play with my sword. Better yet with another slowly rolling over it."

Ilene looked up at her younger sibling aghast. "Elliot! Must you always interject with such lewd imagery?

"You started it," Elliot laughed.

Avery rolled his eyes at his siblings. Realizing he'd lost Elliots attention and would no doubt not get any real sword training from the man, he put his sword away and hoisted the shield on his back. Avery ran a hand through his own blond locks with a sigh. "I guess we are done for the day. I am going to go into the field. Farmer Padrick asked for some assistance in the cornfield. Tell mother and father please."

"I am not your page. You can tell them yourself. I am going out now that we are done here," Elliot answered and put away his own swords.

"Damn it Elliot, I know very well where you are going. You are going to give Mam a heart attack at this rate. Leave that poor boy alone. He's the best stable hand we've got and you'll scare him off."

Elliot gave his brother a mock look of horror and pressed his hands against his chest as if he had been struck. "Brother! You make me out to be a monster! I am wounded! I merely offer him my affections!"

Ilene and Avery both gave each other a look before leveling their gazes at Elliot un-phased by the youngest's theatrics. Elliot gave a pout before he gave up the charade. He rested his hands on his hip. "Approval or not, I am going," Elliot announced as he turned away. Before either brother could leave, however, their mother's voice rang out over the garden, calling all three of them. The three siblings glanced at each other in a bit of worry and confusion. It wasn't often their mother called for all three of them at once. The immediate thought was that something grave had occurred. Elliot and Avery both helped their sister gather her sewing before the three of them hurried back to the manor where their mother was calling for them.

Lady Ophelia was yet beautiful in her old age, a testament to the beauty she had been. She had aged gracefully, the wrinkles barely tugging at her eyes and lips. Her skin was still fair like her daughter's though slightly roughened by her hard work. Her pale golden hair was beginning to grow in silvery and gave her an air of sophistication. Even her movements were yet graceful and enchanting. Ilene truly hoped that she too aged as well as her mother. It was easy to see where the Thatcher children had gotten their charm and beauty from. Ophelia held her head high and proud as she rested her warm eyes on each of her children.

"Oh, Avery, Elliot, you both are covered in dirt again. And look at the holes in your clothing! You make me and Ilene work just to mend your clothing," she chided lovingly. "Your sister is already mending clothes," she mused as she looked at what Ilene was holding.

"Sorry, Mam. We were training in the yard. Has somewhat happened? Is everything all right?" Avery asked her, concern playing on his handsome features.

"It is not trouble so don't worry yourself over it but we received a letter from our liege of the Black Keep your father and I would like to discuss with you."

"The Black Keep?"

It wasn't often their parents brought them into counsel after a letter. What was all of this about? Three three siblings glanced between each other before they followed their mother into the counsel room where their father was waiting for them. Just as their mother, Lord William was a handsome man in his aging. Though far more weather and stress worn, the lines of his face gave him a sort of stoic recognition. His good nature was easily seen in his deep blue eyes, shinning through the gruffness of his love of simplicity. Unlike most lords, he was happy with the simple pleasures, never over adorning his home with trinkets. Even the clothing he preferred was tailored to be far less rich and elaborate for his station. It was easy to see Avery took after that predilection. Lord William smiled as his wife took her place at his right hand and he looked over his children as he sat forward.

"As I am sure your mother has already explained, we just received a message from his Majesty and her Highness. They have invited us to stay for the summer in the Black Keep."

"Stay for the summer the Black Keep?" Ilene repeated in surprise. That was quite the honor but there had to be more to it then that. The king and queen would have no use for all of them to take up residence there for an entire summer.

"Is that wise? Who would watch over our lands? The people?" Avery interjected. "I could stay home and watch over everything. You both know I do not have the desire to play in court intrigue. There are far more important things to worry about here." Ah, the ever practical Avery. If he could, he'd avoid these political games as much as possible.

"We will have the men here protecting the residence. You don't need to worry about that, Son. Unfortunately, the three of you must attend," Lord William explained.

"You see, they are holding a ball and we are not the only nobility that will be attending. All of the families have been called upon," Lady Ophelia finished. The lord and lady let that settle on their children for a moment. Realization of what the ball really meant was quick to sour everyone's mood.

"So it is a marriage convention, with each of us a prize for the royalty?" Elliot mused sourly.

"You mean me and Avery," Ilene remarked to Elliot. "We are eldest and neither of us have married yet. The time is ticking," she finished dryly.

"All of us. They just said all of us. I am not exempt," Elliot sighed and crossed his arms.

"Regardless," Avery said with a wave to quite them both before they began to bicker, "We have to go. Do we have a choice in any of this?" Avery asked his parents. He personally had no desire to marry, princess or nobility, that would be nothing but a pretty face. He had other concerns.

"You do have a choice in a selection of a marriage partner. You and your brother mostly. Should the princes take an interest and pursue Ilene, we will attempt to pursue the arrangement." William answered sadly. "I am sorry my Starlit. I know your feelings about a proper husband but as a queen, you could do much. Other than that, you to will have a choice of your marriage though we do implore you to find someone to settle with. You are right in thinking that time is beginning to run thin. You've forced many suitors away." He hated to speak this way, especially to his daughter, but soon, no nobleman would ask for her hand, beautiful or not. Lord William then looked at Avery pointedly. Avery would know why. He had yet to produce an heir and considering Elliot's odd... fancy, he did not expect to see one from him any time soon.

"I know father. I am sorry for making your life so much harder. I will keep your words and duty in mind, but I will not change myself either; not for any man, may it even be the king himself," she answered. The suitors would have to accept her as she was, not a pretty picture of what they expected.

"Of course my dear. I would not ask for you to change yourself. I want you to be happy to," her father said.

"When will be leaving?" Avery asked sullenly.

"Tomorrow," Ophelia answered. "Finish the tasks you have for the day and prepare to ride."
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Finally, they were nearing the castle. Avery could see it rising up like the looming bars of a cage. He wished this summer was already over and that they were riding on their way home, not towards this dreaded place. The castle itself looked mesmerizing but the entire trip was colored by the fact that he would more than likely have to come out of this with a marriage proposal. He had had no intention of ever being married but he knew that would break his parents hearts. He needed an heir though he did not want to go through with this in the least bit. Avery pulled the rein's of his grey stallion to get it to stop and stood up in the saddle measuring the time. They would be at the gates in about half an hour. He heard a horse neighing behind him and turned to see his brother riding up beside him. Elliot at least was enjoying the horse ride. He kept straying off from the main road to explore at a safe distance.

Elliot looked like quite the lord with his rich clothing fashioned in the green and rusty red of their house. The Blazon stood out on his chest like a beacon. Avery himself had been forced into a fashionable attire least he be confused with a peasant though they were highly uncomfortable clothing. He felt like a peacock to be gawked at, what with the hot layers covering his skin. He even had a cape draped over his shoulders in the rich green his sister had crafted. It was connected to his attire with the golden clasp of the armadillo holding the evergreen leaves. Avery thought he looked absolutely ridiculous.

"Don't look so sour, Avery. You'r face will freeze that way. There isn't much going for you but your face, so don't screw it up," Elliot teased.

"Ease for you to say. I don't want to be here."

"Avery, I know you are looking at this through the duty lens but there is more to it then that. Look at it this way. Sure we are being paraded around like show ponies, but look where we are. We are at the Black Keep. We don't often come here or leave our territory. Don't let one part of it sour the rest of your mood. Take the time to enjoy yourself a little bit. You'll be better off."

Avery looked over at Elliot with an arched brow as he studied his brother. Elliot arched his own brow then. "What? Why are you staring at me?"

"Nothing. Just surprised you can say something intelligent and supporting."

Elliot scoffed and punched him in the arm. "I might as well not say anything at all if my words are so squandered," Elliot said with a proud toss of his head.

"You really are such a drama queen" Avery chuckled.

"Drama king. But look, I've made you laugh," Elliot answered with a mischievous grin. "My work here is done. You scowling and groaning... it doesn't suit you so put a smile on your face. Come on."

Avery was smiling as he shook his head and followed his brother back to the carriage. The two of them lined up with it and Avery knocked on the wall to draw someone's attention from inside. Ilene parted the curtains to look out at her brothers. "We'll be there shortly. he announced.

"All right. Thank you," she answered.

Within moment, their carriage arrived and both boys dismounted and handed their horses off to the stable hand. Elliot came around to the carriage door and stood aside as his father stepped down with a thank you who in turn helped his mother down. Elliot moved forward to offer his arm to Ilene then. Ilene carefully stepped out so she wouldn't trip on her dress. It was the same lush green as Avery's cloak with delicate silver and red laces and designs down the front and upon the little jacket she sported to cover her back. Her golden hair was done up extravagantly with little pink blossoms woven throughout. From it, some of her hair cascaded down her shoulder in rivulets to frame her face. An emerald necklace hugged her throat and she fussed with it to make sure it sat straight.

"You look beautiful, Ilene."

"Thank you, Avery. You should wear clothing like this more often. It suits you. And you to, Elliot."

Avery shook his head amused but Elliot preened like a bird and adjusted his shirt. Then it was time to head inside. Lord William escorted Ophelia first before Avery led Ilene with Elliot at the rear.

"Introducing Lord and Lady of the South, William and Ophelia Thatcher with their children Avery, Ilene, and Elliot Thatcher."

The family gave their bows and sweet words then before moving to stand farther away and waited.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Gwendolynn Castillon Character Portrait: Rhaegar Castillon Character Portrait: Brom Castillon Character Portrait: Sylas Thorne Character Portrait: Aurora Grayson Character Portrait: Avery Thatcher Character Portrait: Rosalyn Grayson Character Portrait: Ilene Thatcher Character Portrait: Jonah Allyrion Character Portrait: Clara Allyrion Character Portrait: Vivienne Chaimbers Character Portrait: Seraphina Grayson Character Portrait: Sylva Thorne Character Portrait: Jonathan Chaimbers Character Portrait: Lara Cavalier Character Portrait: Marynn Daverny Character Portrait: Howell Daverny Character Portrait: Elliot Thatcher Character Portrait: Benjy Daverny Character Portrait: Frederick Chaimbers

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#, as written by mjolnir
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RHAEGAR CASTILLON
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Heir to Blackvale | The Falcon
#B70909 | Outfit
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BROM CASTILLON
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Prince | The Peacock
#061B62 | Outfit
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SYLAS THORNE
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Heir to Dark Wood | The Viper
#999999 | Outfit
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GWENDOLYNN CASTILLON
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Princess | The Little Dove
#F56E6F | Outfit


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Sylas bowed beside his sister while she curtsied towards the King and Queen. As he did, his gaze never left the Queen Guinevere who seemed to be intently watching him with an animalistic hunger. He quirked a brow as a stood upright, adjusting his attire as he glanced away. Although the gaze was direct and a bit unnerving, he held his composure and if anything stood tall and strong.

After the King and Queen moved on to greet the next family, Sylas stood elegant and tall as his mother held his arm. His gaze was drown towards his sister when he heard her voice, “Excuse me mother, for I must steal by brother. I feel that having some alcohol in my system may make the socializing a tad less painful.”

He smiled towards his mother as she adjusted part of his suit and then a bit of Sylva’s hair. “I would say behave, but where is the fun in that.” She then gave him a more serious look which garnered his full attention. “Make sure she doesn't get too drunk. Remember what happened that one New Years eve?”

Sylas looked between his mother and Sylva, a slight smirk tugging at the corner of his mouth. “Yes, of course mother.”

“Yes yes, I accidentally burnt down half the stables. Don’t worry mother. He will take care of me, he always does.”

Sylva slid her arm through his and began to guide him away. He glanced back over his shoulder towards his mother before they were too far away, “It’s my turn to get drunk anyways.” He winked towards Desdemona who chuckled at him before waving them off.

When they reached the table that was worked by a young servant girl, Sylas smiled towards the girl while giving a sly wink. He grabbed himself and his sister a glass of champagne before leading her over towards the large windows that lead out to the gardens. He watched the King and Queen greet each family as he sipped his champagne. When he noticed the mannerisms in the King shift at the presence of the Graysons, he quirked a brow, leaning in towards his sister slightly. “Now what could have the mighty Magnus so tense, I wonder?”

As more families filed into the ballroom Sylas felt like the viper in the brush patiently watching as all the field mice scurry around him. He was ready to pounce. Every move, every suggestive glance and translative body gesture had him eager to attack. But all the exterior showed was a calm, cool and collected young man. Refined, and elegant, everything a young lord should be and everything young women swooned over. He was going to give the Prince’s a run for their money. Seduce and destroy every woman just to watch the Blackvale crumble.

His train of thought was disrupted when Maxwell moved before him, bowing in greeting. “My Lord.”

“Ah. Maxwell. This is my lovely sister Sylva.” Sylas motioned to his sister.

“A pleasure my Lady.” Maxwell bowed in her direction. Sylas then motioned for the young man to come closure and keep to hushed tones. “I have taken care of your rooms, my Lord. The adjacent chambers have a shared door so that you make travel between the two without notice.”

Sylas reached into his pocket pulling out a couple more gold coins, slipping them into Maxwell’s pocket. “That’s a good man. Now…” He took a step closer to the servant, leaning in to whisper in his ear. “Who is your allegiance to?”

“You my Lord.”

“Good man. I’d like you to keep your ears open. Anything and everything you hear you report to me… The more useful, the more gold for you. As long as you’re loyal to me, you’ll never want for anything ever again in your life.” Sylas’ grasp on Maxwell’s shoulder tightened, not enough to cause pain but enough to send a message. “If you betray me, the King will wake up to your head on his breakfast tray.”

***

Gwendolynn sat at a window seat in the study, resting her chin upon her arms on the windowsill as she watched the families arrive. “The Davernys… That’s all seven.”

Rhaegar stood behind her with his right arm raised, resting against the wall as he too watched the arrivals. “Do you think it was intentional for it to be exactly ten ladies and ten gentleman?” More of a rhetorical question that literal. Of course, it was intentional. Most likely every Lord and Lady was hoping for their child to make a smart match during their stay here. And a majority of them would be pushing their children at them… Him.

Gwen slowly reached behind her to grab Rhaegar’s hand in hers while she looked over her shoulder towards Brom. “This… is our last summer together.”

The comment caused Brom to stop his mindless scanning of the numerous books in the room to look towards his sister. He wouldn’t admit it out loud but a lump formed in his throat. The thought hadn’t crossed his mind. Him and his siblings haven’t been apart for more than a month but now… This summer was going to take at least Gwen to the opposite side of the nation.

Rhaegar gently squeezed Gwen’s hand while Brom walked over to her, and place a kiss on her forehead. He remained silent as he wrapped his arm around her shoulders and she wrested her head against his side.

They remained silent. They hoped maybe if they never let go then no one could tear them apart. A trio forced to separate because of ridiculous societal norms and laws. It took everything they had not to cry or run away. It was their duty… A horrible responsibility.

The knock on the door hit them all like a dagger in the back. Their grips on each other tightened, but they did not move. After a moment without an answer, the servant slowly opened the door. “Your Graces… Your mother has asked me to fetch you.”

Gwen took a deep breath before she finally moved to her feet, exchanging a look between her older brothers. They all we scared and they knew it. They didn’t have to say anything to know. The one thing they knew best was each other.

“Come here,” Brom whispered before pulling them in an embrace. He patted his brother’s back while pressing his forehead against Rhaegar’s. His other arm held Gwen close, her forehead resting against the twins’ jaws.

“I’m sorry…” The servant spoke up again. “But your mother implores. If you do not come, I’ll be the one to pay.”

Rhaegar pulled his siblings in tighter for one last embrace before whispering to them, “No matter what, we have each other. Do not settle for anyone short of amazing… If we have to run away and live as paupers to be happy, then so be it.” He leaned in pressing his lips to Gwen’s forehead while using his hand to rustle Brom’s hair. He then nodded his head towards the servant, “Apologies. I do not want you to suffer on our account.”

As they walked down the hall towards the ballroom they recited the names of the different Lords and Ladies that will be present. Their mother made sure they knew who was who. Royalty should know their people. Of course Rhaegar and Gwendolynn had the names straight weeks ago while Brom was lucky if he could guess how many children each family had.

They neared the large doors at the top of the grand staircase and while Rhaegar and Brom continued forward, Gwen froze in her tracks. It wasn’t until the servant had his hands on the door that the twins turned around looking for her. “…I can’t do this.”

The brothers both held out their arms to her while Rhaegar nods his head towards the door, “We’re right here with you.”

“Yeah and if you fall we’ll be the first to laugh.” Rhaegar smacked Brom in the chest, “Ow.”

Just as Brom went to smack the crown right off of Rhaegar’s head, Gwen quickly ran up between the two and took their arms. “How about you both stop fighting and escort me so I don’t fall in these ridiculous shoes.”

”Your Grace, the Queen wanted me to announce you one at a time and—”

“It’s all of us or none of us.”

Brom rose his brows towards Rhaegar as they both chuckled at the ferocity in Gwen’s voice obvious from her nerves. “Remind me not to piss her off,” he whispered towards his brother as the servant pushed open the large doors.

Their escort stepped out of the shadows where two other men waited. With a motion of his hand the two men raised horns to their lips and blew a tune in sync to gain the company’s attention.

“Seriously? A horn?”

Rhaegar brought snorted back a laugh as he raised his hand to cover his mouth.

”My Lords. My Ladies.” As she the servant started, Gwen’s grasp on her brother’s arms tightened. ”It is my honor to present to you the royal children of the family Castillon.” He motioned towards them and with a deep breath they stepped forward. Gwen could have sworn she saw stem flood out of her mother’s ears at the sight of them entering together, arm in arm. ”Eldest son to the King and Queen, heir to the Blackvale Rhaegar, his twin brother, Prince and King’s Guard Brom and their sister Gwendolynn.”

The siblings walked down the stairs elegantly, arm in arm. Gwen tried to best not to trip but even when she thought she was losing her balance her brothers just held her steady. When they reached the ballroom floor Rhaegar and Brom bowed while Gwen curtsied. They walked through the crowd of people towards their parents. Gwen tried not to look at her feet as she walked, her nerves growing with each pair of eyes she saw fixed on her.

When they reached the King and Queen, Magnus stepped forward raising his hand in a way to ask the crowd to grow silent. “I would like to thank you all for making the long journey to the Black Keep. We are pleased to accept you all into our home for the summer. Although our time together is to hopefully make new alliances and marriages between our children it is also a chance for us all to get a chance to know each other and create new friendships where we previously wouldn’t have the opportunity. So I’d like you all to make yourselves at home and please do enjoy yourselves.”

King Magnus bows towards the crowd before motioning towards his wife. Queen Guinevere tried to seem as genuine as possible when addressing the crowd. “In celebration of the beginning to this great summer and new friends, we invite all of our children in the dance of the Blackvale.” The Queen motioned towards the Castillon children beckoning them to take their place in the center of the dance floor. “The dance is simple,” she holds out her hand towards her kids who lined up where Brom and Rhaegar were in one line and Gwen was on the other side. “Our strapping young men will line up across from the beautiful young ladies. They share a dance with the woman across from them and when the song changes you switch partners. The dance is over when you’ve danced with every young man or woman.”

Sylas’ attention shifted towards the main staircase when he heard the horns. He didn’t know if he was disappointed or what about the royal children looking fairly attractive and nice. Of course, nice means nothing, especially when Thornes are around.

Although he never of thought of anyone other than his sister in a none loathing matter, he was surprised at how agreeable the Castillon daughter was. He had heard rumors about her but words failed to compare. He wondered how many of the men in the room were going to fight at the chance for a chance at her hand. Her beauty no doubt would only make her more desirable partnered with her status as the Princess of the Blackvale. It only made the wheels in his head turn as he contemplated the demise he could cause.

He sighed when he heard the Queen’s announcement about some sort of Blackvale dance. Sylas held out his hand for his sister and guided her towards the forming lines of the young men and women around their age. Trying not to be blatantly obvious he made sure that after he helped his sister to her place that he did not stand across from her. Instead he moved into an empty place in the line that was across from the Daverny girl.

Underneath all of what she wore he imagined a beautiful woman was there. Sylas could respect that she wanted to be her own person and not conform to societal norms. But either way he would like nothing more than this dance to be over with.

Sylas bowed towards the woman before offering her his right hand while his left hand was behind his back, “Ms. Daverny.”

Rhaegar made his place to the line while his hands nimbly worked on his cloak. He removed the cloak before handing it the closest servant. “Thank you William.” He patted the lad’s shoulder before he resumed his place, adjusting his sleeves so he’d be more than capable of dancing.

He waited patiently, cupping his hands together before him as he watched the others line up. Before some of the more eager girls shuffled their way before him, he reached out his hand to grab Clara’s and guided her across from him. “Apologizes, but I think I could handle this evening better having the first dance with a familiar face.”

Rhaegar knew Clara may not have remembered him because it’s been numerous years since they had seen each other. But he hoped she wouldn’t hate him for wanting to dance with the one person he knew.

Still being the gentleman he is, he bowed before her as the dance entails then offered her his hand. “Of course, you can always dance with someone else,” he said in a hushed tone. “Being paraded around always makes me a little nervous.” He smiled towards Clara with his hand still held out palm up towards her for if she decided to accept the dance.

Brom was more hesitant to make his way to his spot in the line, moving to stand beside the dark and sinister looking Thorne son. He thought about talking to the guy maybe even talking about all the attractive women at the ball but the guy looked like he had a royal stick up his uptight ass.

Instead he waited until an intriguing young blonde beauty came to stand before him. Brom began to smirk as he glanced her over. Maybe this wouldn’t be all bad if he got the opportunity to meet numerous beautiful young women just waiting for a dashing young man like himself to sweep them off their feet.

“Lady Vivienne… Right?” He held out his hand towards her as he bowed, but his gaze never left hers. His smirk only seeming to grow as he took in more and more of her beauty.

Gwen moved along with her brothers before she could even take a step she felt her mother’s hand on her shoulder. The Queen stepped up to whisper in her daughter’s ear, “Don’t you dare ask someone to dance.” Gwen looked out of the corner of her eye towards her mother. “You are a lady,” the Queen grasped her shoulders tight, “ladies do not do the asking. The gentlemen ask you to dance.”

After her mother let her go, Gwen slowly took her place in the line between two blonde girls. She gave them both her best attempt at a friendly smile as she waited. Her fingers toyed at the lace embroidery on her sleeves when a young blonde stepped in the line opposite her.

Feeling her mother’s gaze on the back of her head, Gwen took the skirt of her dress in her hands as she curtsied towards him.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Gwendolynn Castillon Character Portrait: Rhaegar Castillon Character Portrait: Brom Castillon Character Portrait: Sylas Thorne Character Portrait: Aurora Grayson Character Portrait: Avery Thatcher Character Portrait: Rosalyn Grayson Character Portrait: Ilene Thatcher Character Portrait: Jonah Allyrion Character Portrait: Clara Allyrion Character Portrait: Vivienne Chaimbers Character Portrait: Seraphina Grayson Character Portrait: Sylva Thorne Character Portrait: Jonathan Chaimbers Character Portrait: Lara Cavalier Character Portrait: Marynn Daverny Character Portrait: Elliot Thatcher Character Portrait: Benjy Daverny Character Portrait: Frederick Chaimbers

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JONATHAN CHAIMBERS
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Eldest Son | The Pawn
#9BC4E2 | Outfit
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FREDERICK CHAIMBERS
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Youngest Son | The Trickster
#96CDCD | Outfit
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VIVIENNE CHAIMBERS
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Only Daughter | The Weaver
#92CCA6 | Outfit


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Frederick made for the far wall, his intentions to grab as many flutes filled with champagne as he could and drink as much as he could. He could hear the capricious falsities, Lords and Ladies all huffing and puffing about themselves and their pretend interest in the others, the rumours he could hear circling were enough to make his head spin and not in the fun way alcohol did. The back table was his safe haven, away from the hushed whispers and polite lies, he grabbed his first glass of champagne and downed it without a seconds hesitation, flashing a smile at the serving girl as he handed her the flute back. "You've been here all of one minute." The familiar voice tutted as he spun to meet her gaze, loose strands of brunette shook with her head as she did so.
"Catalina? How did you get in here?" Frederick then grinned and put his hands on his hips. "This is a private party, am I rubbing off on you?"
"Don't be ridiculous, your mother got me in, apparently she thinks I was hired to your court to babysit you." Catalina's tone was far from kind and closer to mocking.
"Isn't it?" Frederick asked as he reached for his second glass.
"No, I am your court advisor. I advise you on important matters, by the gods, why do you think I am always telling you who is who and what to do in the court?" Catalina threw her hands up in exasperation, nearly knocking the champagne from his hand. "Your father hired me to make sure you didn't mess up the Southern Shores and to maintain our political friendships." Catalina then stormed off into the crowd as Frederick shrugged before downing the second glass, just as his brother finally caught up to him.

"Did you get lost in the crowd?" Frederick clapped his hand onto his brother's upper arm. "Here, have a drink." Frederick grabbed one of the flutes and handed it to him, but was politely declined. "Okay, more for me then, brother." He then lifted another and proceeded to knock it back, Jonathan gave him a less than impressed looked.
"Gods, how desperate are you for a drink." Frederick smirked before grabbing another and did the same simply to spite his brother. Jonathan merely rolled his eyes at how petty his brother was being. "Can you be normal for just one night? For Viv's sake?"
"Sure, no doubt she'll ruin it for herself, talk about one of her bizarre nightmares and then we'll all be sent home, no big deal." Jonathan looked as if he'd taken a hit from Frederick's words, but he simply grabbed another flute and went to drink it, not even showing any remorse for his words.

Jonathan snatched the five champagne glass from Frederick's hand, "She's our sister, how dare you?" Jonathan scolded the youngest, taking a sip from the champagne to show him how it was done. "Keep yourself out of trouble and do not come near me or Vivienne tonight." Frederick merely rolled his eyes as he pinched a grape from one of the platters.
"Oh dear Father's pet, you are a good guard dog." Frederick clapped his hand against his brother's back three times with a large grin on his face, the intended joke being far more offensive than he clearly meant it.
"How you're mother's favourite still astounds me to this day." Jonathan set the crystal flute back on the table and was swallowed back up by the crowd, leaving Frederick to his champagne.

Finally being left alone to the table, Frederick turned to have another but then the royal children were announced and he was forced away from the very table he intended to spend most of his night. He leaned up against a pillar, his expression and composure revealing his lack of interest in the well rehearsed speech. The announcement of the speech even garnering an eye roll as he pushed off from the pillar and made for the floor. He positioned himself next to Jonah, the Northern Lord, dark of hair and only slightly lighter of skin tone, he gave him a polite wave, he had no doubt Jonah and Jonathan had dealt with each other at least once but Frederick had never had to pleasure. He looked across and spotted a woman the complete opposite in description, her hair was like spun silver and her skin just as fair, her eyes weren't a dull brown but instead an enticing blend of blue and gold. Her features were so delicate and innocent, Frederick almost felt bad that her first dance would be with him. "Lady Aurora, may I have this dance?" He bowed and stretched his hand out towards her as he did so.

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Whilst navigating the crowd, Jonathan occasionally paused as each of the families were announced and greeted, watching them and making a note of the faces as the names were called. He eventually caught sight of Vivienne as he navigated through the crowd, she was stood with some courtiers, playing her little game, no doubt. As he made for her, there was a loud horn announcing the presentation of the royal children. He found himself bowing with the rest of the ballroom, whilst watching the children descend the steps. Before he could continue towards his sister, the King and Queen took to the floor to announce a dance, before inviting all the intended to step forth and form a line, when Jonathan looked back to find his sister she had already made for the floor. So he opted for simply falling in line with the other young lords.

Jonathan took his position in between Howell and Benjy, both the Daverny sons, the presence of the two making him uncomfortable, as if he were about to be jumped and mugged. He didn't usually harbour such stereotypical feelings, he spent a lot of time in the Southern Shores, he was used to their presence. He then watched as the woman lined up before them, his mind clicked then, he wasn't wary of the Davernys, he was simply nervous about the dance and was projecting it onto whatever presence was most familiar, he would have chuckled to himself if he wasn't surrounded by such watchful eyes so simply smiled at the lady before him.

Her blonde hair held up by golden pins adorned with pearls and her dress matched their colours, a lovely golden trim with a pearl fabric being the most present. He observed her features, his inner artist taking in the subtle details. Her beauty was subtle, the pallor of her skin, which revealed why they called her the Swan Princess, simply accentuating the shadows around her eyes and the beauty mark just slightly above her lip, and the indent to the left of her lip, noticeable only by the faint shadow.

He smiled at her before bowing, "Lady Cavalier, may I have this dance?" As he bowed, he stretched out his hand for her to take, waiting patiently with a smile on his face. "Although, please do not vomit on me." His jest was meant to tease and not offend, indicated simply by his playful smile and soft tone.

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Vivienne blended in with a group of courtiers, they were at the court often enough to get enough information about the other families, they mainly gossiped about the families, including the Chaimbers, making Vivienne chuckle at their ignorance and herself for believing they would be of any use to her. She remained with them, however, saving herself from being a social pariah and being seen at the ball sitting looking out the window at the garden. As luck would have it, she wouldn't be with them for very long as the royal children finally presented themselves. Vivienne curtsied as they descended the stairs, she listened with a smile on her face at the announcement of a dance, before the Queen had even finished she made her way to the floor, paying little attention to where she stood.

Vivienne smoothed out her dress as she awaited her partner to appear, if it was her first time playing the game that is court intrigue she would have fiddled with her hair and even ensured the placement of her jewellery was just right, but then she would have revealed herself from behind her mask. As she ran her hands down the fabric one last time, she heard a strong, somewhat charming voice address her. “Lady Vivienne… Right?” She looked up from her dress to see him, his golden mane cushioning a silver crown, whilst simultaneously curtaining his strong jaw and proud cheekbones. His hazel eyes nestled in the sockets above taking on a more cobalt blue colour, the same eyes that locked with her deep blue ones as he bowed, she took his hand and curtsied, low enough to be at the same level. "Prince Castillon." She smiled at his smirk, his eyes never breaking from hers except to blink. "One might be considered about that grin, particularly if one is to believe the rumours around these very halls." The tone of her voice soft and sweet, with no intended malice, and her smile the same.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Gwendolynn Castillon Character Portrait: Rhaegar Castillon Character Portrait: Brom Castillon Character Portrait: Sylas Thorne Character Portrait: Aurora Grayson Character Portrait: Avery Thatcher Character Portrait: Rosalyn Grayson Character Portrait: Ilene Thatcher Character Portrait: Jonah Allyrion Character Portrait: Clara Allyrion Character Portrait: Vivienne Chaimbers Character Portrait: Seraphina Grayson Character Portrait: Sylva Thorne Character Portrait: Jonathan Chaimbers Character Portrait: Lara Cavalier Character Portrait: Marynn Daverny Character Portrait: Elliot Thatcher Character Portrait: Benjy Daverny Character Portrait: Frederick Chaimbers

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JONAH ALLYRION
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Eldest Child | The Winter's Wolf
#E80000 | Outfit
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CLARA ALLYRION
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Only Daughter | The Winter's Child
#388E8E | Outfit


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Clara rang the fabric of her dress as they waited for the Princes, and the Princess to arrive. She looked around the room and saw that not just a few families were here but ALL of the families were her. Everyone in the Cradle was present, even the Davernys to whom Jonah always called pirates, even if they technically weren't since The King hadn't issued a mandate saying that what they did was illegal. Of course, she couldn't tell Jonah that because he'd still call them pirates. They were privateers if anything. She took a breath, looked at all of the beautiful girls, most of them with brilliant yellow hair, and while hers was a deep midnight black, she seemed to be the only one. She looked around again, besides the Throne daughter....Sylva? If Clara remembered correctly. While, no one had her dark curls, golden amber eyes, and warm skin, she still felt unimpressive and to make matters worse, she wasn't healthy either. "Now, Songbird, try to relax." Jonah said, obviously noting her nervous habit. She dropped the bit of fabric and closed her hands. "What if I cough?" She muttered to him, trying not to move her lips much. On the ride, Mother told her to try to at least appear healthy, she didn't want any of the other girls to know how ill she was, or the Prince for that matter. Though Clara knew she wouldn't make a good wife because of her illness, Mother didn't want anyone to know that. "You only do that in the cold and it's summer here," Jonah said in the same hushed tone. "Besides, Their winters are our summers, you'll be fine."
He assured her just before the herald blew his horn.
”My Lords, My Ladies, It is my honor to present to you the royal children of the family Castillon.”
Just then, arms locked the Princes and the Princess walked out. Clara swallowed, feeling small and out of place, while Jonah gaped like a fool at the Princess. Clara was about to elbow him but she stopped as they were introduced.
”Eldest son to the King and Queen, heir to the Blackvale Rhaegar, his twin brother, Prince and King’s Guard Brom and their sister Gwendolynn.”

Clara's eyes went to the focus of this party, Prince Rhaegar. He was handsome, looked strong and he had a kindness in his eyes. She felt a little at ease for a moment and then thought. Right now, she looked like the picture of health, something she was very not, she knew all too well, looks could be deceiving.

Cursing her pragmatism, she took a breath, she could feel the rawness of an incoming cough in the back of her throat. If she could get some water, or perhaps fresh air...or better yet, out of this freezing corset, she'd felt better.

It was then that that King Magnus stood, and a hush fell over the crowd.
“I would like to thank you all for making the long journey to the Black Keep. We are pleased to accept you all into our home for the summer. Although our time together is to hopefully make new alliances and marriages between our children it is also a chance for us all to get a chance to know each other and create new friendships where we previously wouldn’t have the opportunity. So I’d like you all to make yourselves at home and please do enjoy yourselves.”
He said and Jonah twitched beside her. He turned to their mother, who Clara forgot was behind them this entire time, only to get swatting and shushed. Jonah turned back as the Queen stood. "I suppose I'm not the only one to be wedded this season, Am I, Brother?"
"Don't you start..."Jonah replied only from them both to receive sharp shushes from their mother. Clara merely smiled but it faded when the Queen began to speak.


“In celebration of the beginning of this great summer and new friends, we invite all of our children in the dance of the Blackvale.” 
Clara's eyes went wide as the Castillion children were gestured to the middle of the ballroom floor. She looked at her brother, who was the one smiling now. He had the princess in his sights, and probably was looking forward to dancing with all of the women. Clara did not want to dance with anyone.

"Clara...You'll be fine, you've done this dance a million times." Jonah told her, casting a glance at Mother but since he was consoling her, Mother said nothing. Father was as stoic and watching as always.

Clara merely nodded. She had done this dance, but it had only been with Jonah and the first few times, she'd broken into a horrible coughing fit. It was the middle of winter though so if Jonah was right, that shouldn't be a problem.

Clara merely sighed as the Queen continued.
“The dance is simple. Our strapping young men will line up across from the beautiful young ladies. They share a dance with the woman across from them and when the song changes you switch partners. The dance is over when you’ve danced with every young man or woman.” She instructed and Clara looked around. Every young man? Would she have to truly dance with every man here? Clara felt herself beginning to panic. She took a few deep breaths, and a cough tried to surface but she held it back as best she could. Jonah gave her an appraising look and she nodded. One of their many wordless conversations that usually only happened whenever he was worried about her but didn't want to worry Mother.

"Go on." Their mother told them as the others began to line up, and Jonah gave Clara a smile, and a nod before separating from her and moving to the opposite line.
She moved to the line and didn't make any move to assert herself. She was never a sociable person, quite the opposite so she hung back, hoping to be passed up.

Instead, the Prince, the heir no less, came forward, his eyes on her, and her olive cheeks flushed red. She looked around her and behind because surely he wasn't after tiny little Clara but no, he reached out for her, taking her hand and guiding her in front of him. Her eyes were wide. She knew it, she felt it them staring wild at him.

“Apologizes, but I think I could handle this evening better having the first dance with a familiar face.” He said and she blinked, her face no longer frozen like a deer. "Familiar?" She muttered but he didn't hear her, not over the music and her voice was always soft, raising it would cause her to cough and no one needed that. He bowed to her and she fumbled a curtsy that she knew her mother would keel over and die if she saw. Clara glanced and either her mother didn't see it, or she was holding her reaction until later.

“Of course, you can always dance with someone else,” He told her and she smiled, albeit a bit awkwardly and shook her head, missing that he had offered his hand and since he was not Jonah, he wouldn't know that she merely meant that was fine and not that she was declining the offer.
 “Being paraded around always makes me a little nervous.”
He said and offered a smile that eased her tension. She laughed before placing her hand in his. "It's alright, Your Grace, I understand better than you think." she said and chuckled. "I must admit, I must have been very small, the last we met, I fear I don't remember you, I know of you, but no memories of my own, I'm afraid." She said, knowing that she probably shouldn't be that honest but being bedridden for so many years, cut off from people, she didn't have many of the social graces most people developed, she spoke her mind far too much most of the time.
"When last were you in the North?" She asked, as the music picked up, and she allowed him to lead her as Jonah would have.
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Jonah having left Clara on the other side of the line, watched as the men chose their partners. To his surprise, Rhaegar went straight for Clara, and soon enough she was smiling. That was a good sign...he hoped. Clara could be rather despondent so for someone other than him to get her to smile was something he was glad for. Turning his attention from his little sister, he eyed the women. They were all so lovely but who to choose? His first thought was for the Princess but he didn't want to be so forward, she was the Princess, after all, surely she would not be dancing alone and besides, he would have wanted to make a good impression and he noticed that eagerness was not exactly charming in the eyes of women, at least not in the women he came across.

Then his eye caught sight of the eldest Greyson. She looked formidable. She would be a challenge. He could see it in her eyes. Sweet words would not do for a woman like her, she had a light in her eyes that was all too familiar but whose they belonged to, he did not know. She was tall, carried herself like a fighter, being one himself, he knew it when he saw it. Jonah smirked. He made his choice.

He sauntered up to her. "My Lady Rosalyn."He said, hoping to the Gods that he did not confuse her for one of her sisters. Mother made he and Clara memorize the names of the children from the families, and while he'd heard them being introduced, he wasn't entirely confident in his memory of them to be sure. All of them were blonde, but this one was tall, unlike her sisters. When she didn't correct him on her name, he assumed he guessed right. He gave her his wolfish grin and bowed gracefully. "Magnus Allyrion, but please do call me, Jonah, might I have the honor of your first dance" He asked, using his charm in his expression as oppose to his words as he offered her his hand.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Gwendolynn Castillon Character Portrait: Rhaegar Castillon Character Portrait: Brom Castillon Character Portrait: Sylas Thorne Character Portrait: Aurora Grayson Character Portrait: Avery Thatcher Character Portrait: Rosalyn Grayson Character Portrait: Ilene Thatcher Character Portrait: Jonah Allyrion Character Portrait: Clara Allyrion Character Portrait: Vivienne Chaimbers Character Portrait: Seraphina Grayson Character Portrait: Sylva Thorne Character Portrait: Jonathan Chaimbers Character Portrait: Lara Cavalier Character Portrait: Marynn Daverny Character Portrait: Howell Daverny Character Portrait: Elliot Thatcher Character Portrait: Benjy Daverny Character Portrait: Frederick Chaimbers

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LARA CAVALIER
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Eldest Child | The White Frog, Swan Princess
#A8C5EA | Outfit


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Lara eventually and painfully her attention away from the Davernys who had just entered the ballroom to watch the Castillon siblings be flaunted to their company. Her gaze fixated on the to-be king in silent resignation, as she saw no reason to shy away from observing the Blackvale's most wanted bachelor. He knew they wanted him and was probably ignoring the stares, including her own. Ah, no, there could be no staring. Only coy glances. Despite this Lara stared still before raising one eyebrow and busying herself by looking inconspicuously around the ballroom, whistling inside of her head. At least he seems easy to fall in love with, she reassured herself despite being a little disappointed at the lack of "love at first sight". Sure, such a thing was unrealistic, but was she forbidden from dreaming? At the same time, she was relieved to not have been poisoned with mushy love-sickness despite how it would've made things easier. Feeling ill, she distracted herself by looking up at the ceiling and entertaining a small, unusual thought.

"What is running through your mind..." James whispered to her as the Queen called for a dance, "... Frog?"

Lara didn't want to divulge that the only thing "running" through her mind since arriving had been her tiny subconscious screaming "I'm doooooooooooomed", and she especially didn't want to explain that she had just been speculating what it meant to relate oneself to a wall, a floor or a ceiling so instead, she lied.

"I'm going to have to fight them," she said suddenly, like the epiphany had just hit her. "I see no other way to win. I must tie soap to the Prince's shoes so when they chase, they fall and break their necks." She swiped up a goblet of red wine from a passing platter and held it up high in a toast. "Here's to the Prince going down with them so they can call this entire mistake off." She shielded her face from the crowds as she chugged the entire thing down, her father watching on disapprovingly.

"Not so loud. Such loose talk can be interpreted as treason," he shushed then frowned when she didn't repent immediately and instead muttered something about the wine being strong stuff. "You cannot be se-"

Lara shot him a dark sideways look. "I'm deadly serious," she uttered. Barely a moment passed before her hardened features relaxed into a little amused smile. "Of course not, anyone could have heard me. I'll have to think of something else now." Her eyes trailed up to the magnificent chandeliers adorning the ceiling, mischief in her eyes as she remembered her daydream from earlier. She gestured up at them suggestively with a nod as she swapped out her empty cup for a full one.

"Battle plans for a ball are thoroughly unnecessary."

"This is a battlefield. All the women secretly try to knock competition off the dance floor. That, is why they make our skirts so ridiculous." She swooshed her excessive skirts around her to prove a point then hurriedly sipped at her wine when it threatened to leap from the cup. James watched her gravely and she walked back to him sheepishly. "I only make jests, Father. I'm going to be fine. My skirt could shroud a bear, I can't possibly lose."

"There's no shame in retreating to the gardens once you've had enough, but you will go no further." Lara smiled gratefully, despite knowing he was basically telling her not to run away. "Be careful."

She curtsied. "I just won't say anything." Interesting.

With that she bustled over to one of the final places in the line. Despite all her attempts at humour, her mood hadn't improved and unease settled like dust on her tongue. It was then that she realised she had claimed her place between two Davernys, the sons of the house she had been watching with as much excitement as a boy seeing his first jousting match. Her eyes darted between the two almost half expecting them to pull out cutlasses and take the entire castle hostage... and the King to reveal that they were all kidnapped and had to take part in some blood sport for his children's favour in which her soap trick proved victorious but alas, such fantasies existed only in her head. The daydreaming young woman almost forgot that she had a dance partner of her own in front of her before he spoke.

"Lady Cavalier, may I have this dance?" Her attention was stolen by the dark-haired man bowing before her. She tilted her head only slightly as she peered at him, her face crinkling with curiosity at who the man could be. She concluded that he had a handsome face - was there anyone in the court who didn't - that while plain in comparison to some of the nobleman, was littered with enough tiny imperfections to be interesting to her, such as the small brown dot beneath his right eye. She felt that if she were to look away for a moment then return her gaze to him, she would discover some new crease or shadow to color him with. If he were a treasure chest, she thought unabashedly, he would be made of pine and leather, and hold old papers inside. Probably of something boring, like a merchant's accounts.

"Although, please do not vomit on me."

What a gentleman. Lara shut the metaphorical chest in front with a snap. Of course, she already knew this was going to happen. A look at the man's face told her this was a lighthearted jest that under usual circumstances Lara would laugh at however this time it felt as though her heart had been shot, merely because she had failed in enacting her plan of being openly self-deprecating before anybody could tease her. Being the only noblewoman present to have been sick on the groom on her wedding day certainly took her down from a six to a two in terms of desirability. Her eyes trailed down guiltily to the goblet she had forgotten was still in her hand. A servant was already hurrying over to assist her and she quickly took a final drink before solemnly passing it over. She looked down at her partner and placed her slim yet surprisingly calloused hand in his.

"It would be my honor," she said with a polite smile, "Lord Chaimbers." She ticked over what she just said and quickly added on, "To dance with you. And to not vomit on you, I suppose. I'm sorry my reputation has you concerned." After all, if the story had made it to as far as the West, it had to pass through, somehow... that blob of land being the Vale, home of the Castillons themselves. After that stumble she stopped talking and let him lead her into the opening bars of the music. After watching the other dancers begin to talk she looked up at the man - who was either Jonathan or Frederick, she could not recall which of these names belonged to the eldest Chaimbers son - and her eyes narrowed, the way they always did when she was about to ask a question. "Forgive me for asking, my Lord, but from whom did you hear of that story?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Gwendolynn Castillon Character Portrait: Rhaegar Castillon Character Portrait: Brom Castillon Character Portrait: Sylas Thorne Character Portrait: Aurora Grayson Character Portrait: Avery Thatcher Character Portrait: Rosalyn Grayson Character Portrait: Ilene Thatcher Character Portrait: Jonah Allyrion Character Portrait: Clara Allyrion Character Portrait: Vivienne Chambers Character Portrait: Seraphina Grayson Character Portrait: Sylva Thorne Character Portrait: Jonathan Chaimbers Character Portrait: Lara Cavalier Character Portrait: Marynn Daverny Character Portrait: Howell Daverny Character Portrait: Elliot Thatcher Character Portrait: Benjy Daverny Character Portrait: Frederick Chaimbers

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AVERY THATCHER
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Eldest Son | The Armadillo
#FF4500 | Outfit
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ELLIOT THATCHER
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Youngest Son | The Casanova
#551A8B | Outfit
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ILENE THATCHER
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Only Daughter | The Thorny Rose
#CD1076 | Outfit

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Avery glanced around at the families gathered after their introduction and realized that almost all of the families had arrived. There were the Thornes, Graysons, Allyrions, Chambers, and the Cavaliers. Had his own family been the last to arrive? How long had the other families been waiting? He thought they had made relatively good time. And then he heard the door as another family was announced. Ah, the Daverny. How could he forget the strange and yet intriguing Daverny? He didn't often hear their name or hear about them really. He supposed it was nice that at least he could finally put more faces to the names rolling around in his head. The Davernys' dress was intriguing to say the least. He wondered what they had seen of the world. By far he was sure they were the most world savvy. He was itching to ask them about the different places they must have visited. What were the Misty Isles like anyway?

"Do you see anyone you fancy, brother?" Elliot asked as he too scanned the room for someone of interest, breaking Avery's wanderlust pondering.

"Not really. I mean I would like to speak to Clara of the Allyrion family. I haven't heard much about her. It would be fun to talk to Marriane of the Daverny. I am sure she would offer by far the most intriguing conversations. She doesn't look like so many of the other women, concerned with dress and primping."

"You do realize I am standing right beside you," Ilene asked with an eyebrow raised. "I am a lady, concerned with dress and pimping."

"You don't count,"

"You don't count,"[/color Avery and Elliot answered her in unison. Avery gave her a smile then. [color=#FF4500]"You are our sister and I know you have more on your mind that snatching a prince," he answered. "I doubt most of them want to even associate with us since we don't wear crowns. How about the two of you, any fancy?"

Ilene shrugged idly. "Not sure yet. They are all fetching," she answered but like her brother, she was far more interested in their personality, rather than appearance.

"You two are a bore," Elliot answered. "I would personally love a tumble with Howell or Jonah. And Johnathan is a cutie. There is a subtle look I like about him."

"Please behave yourself," Ilene implored. "If you do anything here, it will go beyond reprimand by our parents hand. I'd rather have you sullen and sulky then beheaded for a misunderstanding," she warned.

"Relax! I am not going to be stupid," he reassured. He'd watch, test the waters. He liked his head where it was to.

The three siblings were brought out of their revere when the royal family finally introduced their children. The family, like all the others, bowed and curtsied as was proper. Avery was about to pull his gaze away when he caught sight of the princess. He couldn't help but give a double take. He had never seen a beauty like hers. He had no love of the power mongering and originally, had no interest in her but to see her in the flesh... she was truly the most beautiful person in the room. Then again, it was just her physical appearance. What was behind those polished jewels and political smile? He didn't want another girl in his life that only cared about events such as these and looking 'pretty'. He was far more interested in learning more about her on a personal level, gauge who she was as a person. He shook his head to himself. This was all politics. She wouldn't tell the truth. Then again... he would try and find a way to ask her for a dance before the night was out. Or maybe... maybe not. He wanted to distance himself from the fight that would no doubt ensue. Maybe he'd find a way to talk to her another way. He didn't want her to think he was like everyone else, even if he did decide to pursue her in any manner.

"You are oogling," Ilene tsked though she was trying not to smirk. She was honestly surprised how instantly taken her older brother was with the princess.

Avery flushed and brought his gaze down. He was already figure out how he wanted to talk to Gwen when the queen announced the dancing. They had to dance with every lord and lady, respectively? That was good and bad, he supposed. He didn't really want to dance with everyone but it would hopefully make the evening go by faster. People were already lining up.

"Careful to keep your gaze on the woman you are dancing with," Ilene teased Avery with a subtle bump on his hip.

"I know, I know," Avery answered. "Let's go get in line."

Elliot led the way to the line with Ilene close behind. While Avery moved down the line, Ilene ended up standing beside the princess and offered her a smile when the princess looked her way. "Hello, your highness," she greeted politely. She looked forward, assuming that Elliot was going to try and dance with her first so he could gossip about the lords he wished he was dancing with. When Elliot instead stood in front of Gwen, her eyebrows reached for her hairline. What was her silly little brother up to?

Elliot himself was indeed up to something. He may not be looking for a love relationship this summer, but having friends in other families was always a bonus. You never knew what could happen in the future. He had looked over the ladies available and quickly took up his place in front of none other than the princess. He figured she would appreciate her first dance being with someone who wasn't after her hand in marriage. And considering the whispering he heard between Ilene and Avery, he'd realize that Avery was smitten with her. Maybe he could see if her personality would match up with his brother. All teasing aside, he loved his siblings dearly and he wanted for them the happiness they deserved. He had far more freedom than they did. And he was blessed with being able to take risks without too much consequence or fear. Well, time to put his neck out there. This could end badly but you didn't get anywhere without risk.

He gave Gwen a flourishing bow as she curtsied for him and took her hand to kiss her knuckles in the most charming way he could and gave her a smile. "Good eve, my princess. I was hoping you'd do me the honor of being your first partner in the long series of dances we are about to undertake," he said. He stepped just a little closer to bring his voice down as he added, "I am not after your hand, or your honor, do not fret about that. Just a friend to dance with," He offered her a smile and a playful wink. "If men were compasses pointing north, my compass lies south, if you take my meaning."


Avery was a bit surprised that his brother had gone to ask the princess for a dance. What was he playing at? He didn't have long to dwell on that however. He turned his attention to the available ladies and his eyes settled on one of the Grayson daughters. He took a moment running through the names before he figured out who she was. The second eldest if he wasn't mistaken.

He moved to stand opposite her and gave her a pleasant bow and kissed her knuckles just as his brother did to Gwen. "Lady Seraphina, would you mind terribly honoring me with your first dance?" he asked and offered her his hand, head still slightly bowed to show his consideration to her choice.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Gwendolynn Castillon Character Portrait: Brom Castillon Character Portrait: Sylas Thorne Character Portrait: Aurora Grayson Character Portrait: Avery Thatcher Character Portrait: Rosalyn Grayson Character Portrait: Ilene Thatcher Character Portrait: Jonah Allyrion Character Portrait: Clara Allyrion Character Portrait: Vivienne Chaimbers Character Portrait: Seraphina Grayson Character Portrait: Sylva Thorne Character Portrait: Jonathan Chaimbers Character Portrait: Lara Cavalier Character Portrait: Marynn Daverny Character Portrait: Howell Daverny Character Portrait: Elliot Thatcher Character Portrait: Benjy Daverny Character Portrait: Frederick Chaimbers

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MARYNN DAVERNY
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Only Daughter | The Quarter Master
#567580 | Outfit
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BENJY DAVERNY
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Youngest Child | The First Mate
#5BA664 | Outfit
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HOWELL DAVERNY
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Eldest Son | The Swordsman
#DEAD83 | Outfit


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”It is my honor to present to you the royal children of the family Castillon.” All the attention in the room seemed to shift to the Castillons in an instant. And for that, the Daverny children were most grateful. Following the steps that were taken by the rest of the families, the three of them turned their attentions to the princes and princess. They looked as noble as their titles proclaimed to be, but if one were to look hard enough they would see the difference. Varying degree's of reluctance, but also, a great amount of strength within each of them. Marynn did not linger her gaze on any one of them, instead, taking in the room as a whole.

Her brothers - well, they were much more interested. Howell never wavered his gaze from the Princess, seemingly contemplative. Of course, Benjy's stare was more lustful than appreciative. He didn't often go for powerful women, they were much harder to bed let alone engage in conversation. But he thought he could make an exception for a princess.

As soon as that spectacle was over the Queen began to speak, drawing Marynns attention back. Howell already listening with rapt attention, but losing Benjy in the process. He instead began to survey, just as Marynn had done earlier but his focus landed mostly on the women of the room, Trying to get a lay of the land before he attempted to speak with any of them. These weren't the ditzy women that walked the shanties, no, these women were sophisticated. More's the pity - he'll have to work for his dues here.

“In celebration of the beginning of this great summer and new friends, we invite all of our children in the dance of the Blackvale.” As the Queen motioned to her children, Marynn realizes that she had been holding her breath. “The dance is simple,” she launches into an explanation, even though the two eldest Davernys think it's probably simple enough to figure out for themselves. Dances aren't usually that intricate. “Our strapping young men will line up across from the beautiful young ladies. They share a dance with the woman across from them and when the song changes you switch partners. The dance is over when you’ve danced with every young man or woman.”

They had known this was coming, but so soon after introductions? Marynn glanced between her brothers with mild desperation. At least at some point, she'll be able to take a rest by dancing with them. That at least should cut out a bit of the anxiety crawling up her gut. But before she could even manage to voice her issues their mother appeared by their side. While she spoke to the boys, her eyes lingered on Marynn with the usual amount of malice.

"None of you will cause a scene, understand?" They did, more so than Lady Elena could ever believe them. Benjy, the most likely to do something wrong nodded despite his devious grin. "Of course mother," He answered, too polite to be anything but deception. Howell scowls and Marynn tries not to let her nervousness show in her small chuckle.

"Good, we want to make a good impression here," Elena took a moment to look at the already forming dance partners. "Now hurry along." Fully dismissed, the boys went along their merry way. But Marynn was stopped momentarily as Hector appeared, a drink in hand - why did he get to drown his suffering in alcohol while she had to be completely sober.

"Marynn dear, do try not to castrate any of them." Hector spoke between a laugh and a wink, "If any of them have anything to Castrate that is." While Elena was not amused, she said nothing as Marynn shared the laugh. "I'll try not to." She's grateful for his attempt to make light of the situation. A bit of the nervousness ebbing away as she regains her strength of mind. She would not let something so small as a dance bring out any weakness in her. She is a Daverny, and Davernys are as strong as they come.

Deciding that she'd best line up now before she is left behind - as much as she would like that - she steps in, just barely straightening herself out before one of the Thornes is stepping in front of her. Sylas, she thinks is his name, only memorable because of who the Thorne's are. She can't exactly deny how handsome he is, but that doesn't mean she is exactly grateful to be dancing with him - in fact, she'd much rather not dance at all. He'd soon find out just how big of a mistake choosing her as his first dance partner would be.

He bows and offers his right hand. "Ms. Daverny," He says, and she tries not to balk. Her dress nearly trips her up as she curtsies once more, glad that she has yet to fall flat on her face. The damned sleeves get in the way as she offers her hand, hoping that her light hold doesn't show too much of her reluctance.

"Lord Thorne," She nods, tone light but not without its usual edge of misguided sourness. "Calling me Marynn is alright, or Mary if you prefer informalities." She tries her best to muster a smile that her mother would be proud of (ugh) without it seeming too fake, "I should warn that I am not very good at dancing."

~*~

Benjy had hoped to swoop in and steal a dance with the Princess, but it looked like someone had already beat him there. However, he was unconcerned with his bad luck and chose instead to just line up nearby his sister. Soon joined by an intense brunette who didn't exactly seem thrilled. Benjy doesn't fancy himself women like her, she reminds him too much of his own mother with the intensity of her gaze and the strength nod doubt hiding behind her formal attire. But, non-the-less she is beautiful and he would be a fool not to want to dance with her.

“Lord Daverny.” Even her tone of voice is strong. He grins, bowing as he is supposed to and takes her hand kindly. "Lady Thorne, I must say that you are very beautiful." Somehow, he knows that his usual lines won't work on a lady such as herself. But, he didn't feel like working for it either. They would dance, and perhaps converse a bit, and then he would be off to the next. Hopefully, causing as much grief as possible in the short time they are given to dance. His mother would not be thrilled to know of his plans - but he didn't care for her thoughts either.

Had she wanted him to behave she would have left him at home. He did not pretend to be the same as Howell, the prim and proper son of the family. Benjy prescribed to a much grimier side of things.


~*~

Howell was fully in his element here, the formality of the event something he enjoys immensely. As well as, he isn't the worst of dance partners out there. He worries only for a moment about his siblings. Benjy's lack of grace and Marynns hopelessness when it comes to anything like this. But, they are not his concern at the moment. He watches as the dancers are quickly lining up, and finally eyes a pretty blonde without a partner, one of the Thatchers - Ilene, he remembers her name at last. His knowledge of the other families surpassing most of his family. They were unconcerned with anyone outside of the Vale and the Misty Isles, but Howell took far more interest in the way that the other families worked.

He moves in across from her, giving her a kind smile. He doesn't want to put off any sort of thuggish air - he isn't like his brother - nor does he wish to be as stand-offish as his sister. Howell put himself far above the standards they set. Bowing, and offering a hand to her.

"Lady Thatcher, would you be so kind as to give me your first dance?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Gwendolynn Castillon Character Portrait: Brom Castillon Character Portrait: Sylas Thorne Character Portrait: Aurora Grayson Character Portrait: Avery Thatcher Character Portrait: Rosalyn Grayson Character Portrait: Ilene Thatcher Character Portrait: Jonah Allyrion Character Portrait: Clara Allyrion Character Portrait: Vivienne Chaimbers Character Portrait: Seraphina Grayson Character Portrait: Sylva Thorne Character Portrait: Jonathan Chaimbers Character Portrait: Lara Cavalier Character Portrait: Marynn Daverny Character Portrait: Howell Daverny Character Portrait: Elliot Thatcher Character Portrait: Benjy Daverny Character Portrait: Frederick Chaimbers

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RHAEGAR CASTILLON
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Heir to Blackvale | The Falcon
#B70909 | Outfit
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BROM CASTILLON
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Prince | The Peacock
#061B62 | Outfit
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SYLAS THORNE
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Heir to Dark Wood | The Viper
#999999 | Outfit
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GWENDOLYNN CASTILLON
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Princess | The Little Dove
#F56E6F | Outfit


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Brom made no attempt to divert his gaze from the beautiful blonde before him. He found it surprising for the Black Keep to be an overwhelming sea of blonde. It seemed the golden hair blended from one head to the next aside from the pirates, the Thornes and his very fiery sister. Even himself and his brother part of that overwhelming pool. But he never worried for a second that he'd be lost in the crowd. Even if he wasn't wearing his crown, him and his brother seemed to tower over a majority of the guests.

His thoughts were brought back to the present circumstances when the enchanting woman before him took placed her own satin palmed hand in his, curtsying so that she could meet his bow. "Prince Castillon."

"Oh my dear, you may call me Brom... Or call upon me tonight, I wouldn't mind." Brom quirked his left brow as his pressed his lips upon the top of her hand as he stood back upright, taking a step towards her.

"One might be considered about that grin, particularly if one is to believe the rumours around these very halls."

Brom cocked his head as he turned to stand to the left of Vivienne, holding her left hand in his right. He waited for the music to begin and moved instep with the dance along the promenade part of the dance. The young woman looked naive and younger than what her age probably was. Her features were soft and curved. But even behind the sweet innocence she portrayed he felt there was something a bit more devious behind those golden locks.

When the dance called for them to face one another again, he placed his free hand on her waist. Brom then began to twirl her around, finally deciding to reply to her previous comment, "Rumors?" He played innocent even though his smirk was deceiving his tone. "Do enlighten me because I fear I do not know what you speak of." He released her waist to twirl her beneath his palm. He then pulled Vivienne in closer so that they were chest to chest and whispered, "I'm an angel."

***

It was obvious to Rhaegar that Clara took note of all the eyes that were upon them. After all he was the heir so no matter what he did, the entire party was going to be focused on him and all of his decisions. "Familiar?" she asked in response to his comment but she said it so softly he didn't catch it.

When she went to curtsey but fumbled, Rhaegar was quick to step towards her, gently taking hold of her shoulders to keep her from falling. "Are you alright my lady?"

Clara seemed to smile and chuckle at his honesty about not enjoying the pomp and circumstance behind this arrangement and placed her hand in his. "It's alright, Your Grace, I understand better than you think." Rhaegar smiled glad that someone understood how odd this whole situation felt. Generation after generation parents were doing this to their children, probably hating it as much as they did... but then they went on to doing it to their kids. He made a mental note that when he had kids of his own, they could marry whom they wanted.

"I must admit, I must have been very small, the last we met, I fear I don't remember you, I know of you, but no memories of my own, I'm afraid. When last were you in the North?"

Rhaegar turned with the line of other young Lords and Ladies, walking the intro of the dance as he held Clara's hand. Out of sync with the dance he playfully twirled her before bringing her in towards him, and placing his hand on her waist. "I do believe it's been the better part of a decade. My brother," he started as he moved with elegance as he guided her around the ballroom in accordance with the dance his mother drilled into his head. "It must have been when he decided to become King's guard. I believe we took him to the North to train under your father. Understandable that I would remember you and not vice versa. I was 17 or 18 which would have made you... 8, I believe?"

He released Clara's waist and gently guided her through a twirl, before bringing her close yet again. Rhaegar smiled towards his siblings when he caught their gaze before looking back towards his partner. "So are you hoping to find love this summer? Or did you come because your parents wanted you to?"

***

Gwen raised a brow at the very extravagant bow her dancing partner made towards her. He then took her hand and place a tender kiss upon her knuckles. "Good eve, my princess. I was hoping you'd do me the honor of being your first partner in the long series of dances we are about to undertake," Elliot said. When the young blonde smiled towards her, Gwen returned it with her own smile. She hoped she looked sincere even though deep down she wanted nothing more than to run out into the gardens and disappear up in a tree. He took a step closer to her with took her by surprise but she didn't pull away. "I am not after your hand, or your honor, do not fret about that. Just a friend to dance with," he winked towards her.

Gwendolynn inhaled sharply as she turned to stand beside him, walking to the beat of the music. She didn't quite believe his words because what better way to get close to a princess other than claiming not to want anything to do with her. His next words though caught her off guard, "If men were compasses pointing north, my compass lies south, if you take my meaning."

She turned to face Elliot, freezing in place until a couple behind them cleared their throats loudly in an attempt to get them to move. Gwen quickly picked up her pace, turning to face him scooping up the train of her dress in her free hand. It was a few moments into the dance before she finally connected the dots. "Oooohhh..." She laughs at how stupid she felt when she connected the dots. "I'm afraid my lord, that there may not be much in that realm here at the Black Keep. I don't know if there will be anyone to satiate that appetite."

Gwendolynn was able to finally exhale a deep breath almost worried she might pop her corset. But it was nice knowing she didn't have to put on airs for the first dance of the night. She was nervous enough as it is, having to dance with someone who would try to seduce their way into her bed or status wasn't something she wanted to deal with just yet.

***

Sylas tried not to scoff or simply walk away when the Daverny woman seemed to be having more trouble with her dress that it was worth. None of the other women seemed to have issues but then again it looked like this one wasn't used to walking on land for more than a moment or two, or in anything that wasn't trousers. He grasp on his hand was light, no doubt she was looking forward to this dance about as much as he was.

"Lord Thorne," she started. At least she knew who he was, that's a start. "Calling me Marynn is alright, or Mary if you prefer informalities." She smiled towards him as he began to lead her side by side following the line of partners.

"Ah well, my Lady Mayrnn, you may call me Sylas." He gently turned her, placing his other hand on the back side of her ribcage.

"I should warn that I am not very good at dancing."

Sylas could see right past the fake smile. She seemed as uncomfortable with dancing as she was in that dress but no matter he wasn't going to let on. It was too soon to show his true colors so he simply smiled his charming effortless smile that made his eyes seem to sparkle even if they masked his true disgust with this whole evening. "You are in lucky my lady, for I've been told I'm an excellent dancer." With a soft press on her back he guided her into a twirl. "But it is fortunate that this dance is simple. A bow and a curtsey, promenade, break off into pairs, a few twirls... And then switch." When he said switch, he spun her again. "The most difficult part is pretending like we actually enjoy this boring dance."

Sylas gave a slight chuckle. The Dance of Blackvale was horrid and boring. Nothing short of doing the same exact same thing over and over again. Simple enough for this dull crowd.

***

The King watched as the younger generation moved together to begin dancing. He could see their hesitance and disdain as plain as day on their face. He couldn't help but feel a sinking sensation in his gut. He wished it was easy enough to allow them to marry whom they wanted when they wanted. This was there glimmer of a chance but their pool of options was small. Arranged marriages never turned out remotely as well as they should.

His gaze drifted towards his wife with the thought. Magnus leaned towards her, pressing his lips against her cheek in a loveless kiss. "I am going to converse with our guests my love." With that he stepped down form the royal podium and worked his way through the crowd. When he caught only a momentary glimpse of his daughters gaze he gave her a smile and a playful wink.

Magnus wasn't sure where he was going, his feet carried him and before he knew it, he found himself before her. She hadn't aged a day, looking radiant as ever. She didn't try to look younger or hide her age like the Queen did. Her age was shown like a badge of honor to show her accomplishments and she wore it well. He couldn't help but smile as he bowed before her, taking her hand in his and placing a long lingering kiss upon it. "Elizabeth, lovely as ever."

He then looked towards Robert, smiling in greeting and shaking his hand. "You take very good care of all your girls. They've grown up to be such beauties, you must be proud." His gaze drifted to Elizabeth for a moment before back towards her husband, "Might I have your permission to walk about the room with your wife?" He asked Robert out of kindness as he held out an offered arm towards Elizabeth. If her husband denied him the offer, Magnus would find another way to get an audience with her, after all he was the king. But he was never one to cause futile disputes in the middle of a celebration.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Gwendolynn Castillon Character Portrait: Rhaegar Castillon Character Portrait: Brom Castillon Character Portrait: Vivienne Chaimbers Character Portrait: Jonathan Chaimbers Character Portrait: Lara Cavalier Character Portrait: Elliot Thatcher Character Portrait: Frederick Chaimbers

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JONATHAN CHAIMBERS
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Eldest Son | The Pawn
#9BC4E2 | Outfit
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FREDERICK CHAIMBERS
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Youngest Son | The Trickster
#96CDCD | Outfit
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VIVIENNE CHAIMBERS
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Only Daughter | The Weaver
#92CCA6 | Outfit


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Vivienne took in more of the youngest prince's features, the twin princes were identical it was true but Brom held a more rugged beauty to himself, his features were strong and bold, just as he was rumoured to be. If Vivenne were to see him in furs and leathers, she could quite easily confuse him for one of the Clansmen her brother was so fond of, but he wasn't. He was a Royal and it showed in his movements, graceful yet not flamboyant, cocky but at least it was consistent, unlike the polarity of a Clansman. His hands were unusually soft for someone so rugged, he was Captain of the Guard yet his hands felt smooth, instead of calloused like she had expected them to be. "Oh my dear, you may call me Brom... Or call upon me tonight, I wouldn't mind." She smiled as he kissed her hand, like most gentleman, a charmer.
"A Marquise calling upon a Prince, oh how scandalous. Here I thought the Royals gave the orders." She teased him, a certain playfulness in her eye. Usually at these kind of events, the Game was tedious and upsetting, hiding her true self never made her comfortable but, for once, she was enjoying it. "Prince Castillon." The prince took a step closer to her, now she was closer to him she could spot a faint scar on his face, it would seem there was more detail to the prince than she thought.

Brom took his position to her left, the promenande was the best part of the dance to collect her bearings before they continued, she could understand why women so easily fell at his feet, if the rumours were to be believed, he was a handsome man and had all the makings of a fine gentleman, regardless of his agenda. As they silently engaged in the promenande, Vivienne could feel him studying her, but it didn't make her uncomfortable, she certainly didn't feel as if she was in any danger not immediately anyway. The prince then placed his hand on his waist, Vivienne lost in her own thoughts she missed the cue for them to face each other, luckily for her, her body reacted to the music and not her wandering thoughts, she placed her hand on his shoulder, well as close to his shoulder as she could reach. Then started the true dance, the pair twirled and Brom lead with as much grace as she was now expecting from him, she was definitely no long in the Western Bluffs. As they twirled with the crowd, a smirk spread across his face.
"Rumors?" His grin revealing the lie of that was his tone. "Do enlighten me because I fear I do not know what you speak of." Vivenne felt the pressure lifted from her waist, before she was spun under his hand. If she hadn't of made his eyes her focus, she may have been a bit disoriented but luckily they stood out quite proudly. "I'm an angel."

"Come now, Prince Castillon," His previous comment encouraging her to continue to call him Prince rather than Brom. "I am not a lady so easily fooled." She purred as she placed her hand on his shoulder once again. "However, I shall indulge you." She decided to keep the game going, perhaps a cryptic warning for the Prince would do the trick, she was deep into the Game now, talking in certainties was dangerous. "The woman of the Vale have very loose lips, and the men are all to eager to hear." Now it was her turn to play tease him. "Although, I have it on good authority that the Western woman know how to hold their tongue." She may have been teasing him and Vivienne had little intention of a simple romp under a satin blanket, but her words were honest, she at least knew how to keep a secret.

As Vivienne and Brom did one more twirl, she spotted the red hair of the Princess, who was dancing with one of the Thatcher children. As much as she willed it not to, it brought her back to the real world, and sadly she was going to bring Brom down with her. "The Princess, she's very beautiful tonight. One could see why she wouldn't be short of suitors..." For all she played the Game, she couldn't hide when she was sincere. "Does that worry you?" Her eyes met with his once more, no doubt it was a sensitive subject but she hoped the Prince was capable of a conversation of more substance. When she thought on it, she realised the insensitivity of the question and took a deep breath. "I don't mean to offend or upset you, it's just we understand what it's like to be seperated."

***

Jonathan noticed her lack of laughter at his comment, his cheeks going slightly red as he realised he may have embarrassed her. As his brain raced to make an apology, she placed her hand in hers. He looked up and smiled warily at her, the hands were calloused like an artists hands, it was comforting to know not everyone in the ballroom lacked talent in that area, but then again he only knew for certain his brother and sister were not artistically talented. "It would be my honor, Lord Chaimbers..." He heard as he raised from the bow, to meet her eyes which had widened before she quickly added. ""To dance with you. And to not vomit on you, I suppose. I'm sorry my reputation has you concerned." Jonathan lightly chuckled at her somewhat flustered response, before giving her a smile.
"Please, Lady Cavalier, call me Jonathan. I'm not the most formal of my family." He took his place by her left side, his hand still holding hers as they started the promenande, a modest dance move that could seem clumsy if out of step with the partner or music. "It does not concern me, I did not wish to offend you, merely make the air seem more lighthearted, instead I made it more uncomfortable for you."

As the music changed it's pace, Jonathan glided in front of her, lightly placing his hand on her waist, ensuring it was neither so low it was inappropriate and so high it looked awkward. He noted her eyes narrowing, as if she was a predator focusing in on its prey. "Forgive me for asking, my Lord, but from whom did you hear of that story?" He once again gave her a sincere smile.
"There is no need to be forgiven, I would be worried if you weren't concerned." He tried to reassure her. "In all honesty, it was from the lord himself. He was visiting my father for some reason and told me of how I should avoid you. In all honesty, I thought he was lying, and warned him that Westerners don't appreciate gossip, particularly of families we consider friends. I can assure you, the news only reached the Gadleigh Keep, and if it did reach the Nightwell Hold, I can imagine my father gave him quite the hard time for it." He then looked up to the ceiling and then back down at her with a smile. "You were asking to wonder if it had spread like a plague?" He then shook his him with a somewhat defeated looking smile. "I am afraid I cannot say, I only ever heard it from him and many lords and ladies travel through the Keep, but most have become accustomed to our ways, so I cannot be certain."

***
"Of course you may Lord Frederick James Chaimbers." Frederick smiled at her grin, unsure of whether or not she was teasing him. He contemplated retorting, correcting her for calling him lord instead of Marquess but no doubt that would come off as snobby. "There is no need to bow though my Lord, I am not that special.” Her comment brought his attention back to her, as he rose wondering how long he was bent over as he pondered how his reply to her using his full name.
"Oh, dear Lady Aurora, how wrong you are." He twirled some loose strands of her hair. "Have you ever been to the Western Bluffs?" He asked her, more or less rhetorically, he knew she probably hadn't. "Because we have a legend about woman with your hair. We call them the Fae, they once inhabited the land now known as the Green Valley, which is why it is the most fertile land in all of the Bluffs. The women were said to have silver hair and such delicate features, much like yours, and whilst we have no evidence of them ever existing, if you ever visited you would be referred as a goddess." Whilst it wasn't completely true, it wasn't a lie either. Her hair and delicate beauty was how he imagined the Fae in the stories he was read as a child.

Before he could say anymore, the young lady was laughing. “You smell of alcohol.” The pair took their position beside each other, stepping in tow with the music as the promenade began. “I have never drank before. Is it fun?” Jonathan's eyebrow raised as he turned to face her to begin the proper dance, his hand resting on her waist, just at the bottom of the bodice of the dress. He spun her once or twice, before waltzing with her.
"It's fun to forget certain things and let your inhibitions run loose for a night, so yes. It can be quite 'fun', I suppose." He then looked up to the ceiling in thought before tilting his head from left to right. "But then again, sometimes the morning afterwards is like that spin, only for an hour after waking and then all that fun didn't seem worth it because you can't quite recall everything that occurred that night."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jonathan Chaimbers Character Portrait: Lara Cavalier

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LARA CAVALIER
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Eldest Child | The White Frog, Swan Princess
#A8C5EA | Outfit


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Nobles were always so proud of their social awareness and skill in “the Game” that it made Lara secretly pleased to see a misread occur. At the same time her clumsy grip on the court forced her to have empathy for any caught in an embarrassing social blunder and now she just felt bad, for both her and Jonathan. At least things were moving away from their clunky start. She congratulated herself for thinking of the question that took them out of the realm of uncomfortable and listened to the lord's story intently.

“There is no need to be forgiven, I would be worried if you weren't concerned.” Perhaps he should be worried, then. I wasn't concerned until quite recently. “In all honesty, it was from the lord himself.” Oh, that swaggering, cotton-spun, mother-bedding bastard. “He was visiting my father for some reason and told of my of how I should avoid you.” Don't arrange a marriage with me. “In all honesty, I thought he was lying, and warned him that Westerners don't appreciate gossip, particularly of families we consider friends.” Friends? “I can assure you, the news only reached the Gadleigh Keep, and if it did reach the Nightwell Hold, I can imagine my father gave him quite the hard time for it.” I really hope he did.

Lara's expressions changed ever-so-subtly as he gave his answer, all the while being absorbed by his words. If she could give herself any kudos for a social skill it would be for listening. Listening, not hearing, was the key to snatching up the gold that sometimes fell from a person's moving lips.

“You were asking to wonder if it had spread like the plague?”

“That is what I was curious to hear, my Lord.” Lara affirmed with an excited nod. He read her well, however she took that lightly. She knew she was an easy read. She caught herself leaning forward in eagerness and pulled back, into the twirl the dance demanded. Her skirts spread out in a bloom of shimmering pearl and gold. Her mother had sought to enhance her beauty with the gown however instead Lara simply drowned in it. Compared to the gown she was unremarkable, and Lara knew that she would merely be remembered tomorrow as “the girl in the big dress”. She returned from her twirl to Jonathan and was confused to see him looking tired as he neared the end of his reply.

“I am afraid I cannot say, I only ever heard it from him and many lords and ladies travel through the Keep, but most have become accustomed to our ways, so I cannot be certain.”

“You are disheartened, my Lord?” Lara wondered, sounding vaguely concerned. “That you have no answer or on my behalf?” It was obvious that the latter was not what was running through his mind, to Lara at least. She recovered by bowing her head with a small grateful smile. “No matter your concerns, I am both happy that my plague may have spread, and that you did not partake in its spreading.”

She felt that such an odd thing said would need explaining, but before she did such she needed to establish something.

“Jonathan,” she started hesitantly, unsure of calling the man she still considered a stranger by something so familiar – at least, while so many nobles surrounded her. “I'm afraid my House is strict with formalities, however, as you said – your house considers mine a friend, therefore you may call me Lara. Lady Lara.” She looked into his eyes meaningfully, trying to get the message across that she did not care for such titles either and would prefer simply Lara but if her parents (especially her mother) caught a man (especially not a prince) referring to her so informally they were going to lock her away or maybe worse maybe her mother was going to bring back the dreaded spoon – such a long message was impossible to portray without uttering a word, but Lara's eyes were incredibly expressive. She hoped he at least caught onto half of it.

“The topic of my attempted marriage does not concern me when discussed with those who will take it with laugh, rather than those who... sheath it.” To be wielded later. She granted him a small gesture with her head, wordlessly saying that he was one she wouldn't mind carrying the conversation with. She gave a little sigh and a shrug that was barely missed and glanced at the older, more traditional nobles of the ballroom. “The story may condemn me in some eyes, but a blackened name brings certain freedoms. I am in truth in gratitude to my gossiping groom.” She turned her head back to Jonathan with a suppressed grin and a light in her eyes, her inner demon shining through the facade of a proper lady. It was only for a moment, the light faded by the time she finished saying, “No noble in their right minds would sacrifice a son to an arranged marriage with the frog of the marsh.” If her mother could hear the conversation Lara was having, she would scold her for being "improper" - but proper was boring, and the man had been "improper" first, so she was taking the opportunity to relax for at least a minute. She offered a smile to reassure him she was not at all disheartened by her lack of suitors. In truth, she had always been reassured by it. It was only now that it poised a problem, a problem she quickly shoved aside by asking Jonathan another question she was curious about, concerning almost all of the nobles spending the Summer at Black Keep – that, in hindsight, may have been tactless, considering he had just told her that Westerners were not fond of gossip. Her curiosity tended to override such things like social etiquette.

“And you, Jonathan, you are of age and have been for some time. How is that you are here and not married? Have the Westerners kept your scandal?”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Brom Castillon Character Portrait: Sylas Thorne Character Portrait: Aurora Grayson Character Portrait: Ilene Thatcher Character Portrait: Clara Allyrion Character Portrait: Vivienne Chaimbers Character Portrait: Jonathan Chaimbers Character Portrait: Lara Cavalier Character Portrait: Frederick Chaimbers

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JONATHAN CHAIMBERS
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Eldest Son | The Pawn
#9BC4E2 | Outfit
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FREDERICK CHAIMBERS
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Youngest Son | The Trickster
#96CDCD | Outfit
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VIVIENNE CHAIMBERS
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Only Daughter | The Weaver
#92CCA6 | Outfit


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Jonathan observed Lara as she listened to his attempts to reassure her, if he was at the court he would think it as merely polite, but in the Court, it was a large influence on how well you succeeded in the Game. If one didn't listen in the Court, they would miss the one link in the very chain that connected everything. Whilst she was no doubt playing the Game and merely using such information for her own uses, he felt somewhat at ease with her, neither of them seemed to fit in completely and he was glad of that.

He watched as she twirled, the dress swallowing her up as the skirts spun with her, for eye catching features it was a shame, her beauty was in the details and not in large statements, plain but not without intriguing detail. He was pulled back from his artistic view of her when she pointed out his defeated look.
“You are disheartened, my Lord? That you have no answer or on my behalf?” Her tone was genuine and he gave her a halfhearted smile.
"Am I so easily read?" He chuckled before bowing his head in agreement. "I'm just sorry that I can't offer more to put your mind at ease, when it's my fault it has concerned you."
“No matter your concerns, I am both happy that my plague may have spread, and that you did not partake in its spreading.” Lara's smile reassured him, he was glad to hear such words.

“Jonathan,” When he heard her utter his name, he smiled, glad for someone to treat him like a person and not a title for once. “I'm afraid my House is strict with formalities, however, as you said – your house considers mine a friend, therefore you may call me Lara. Lady Lara.” He returned a smile, but looking into her eyes he could see something, something with meaning but whether it was fear or sadness he couldn't quite tell, if he was to paint her, it would be the eyes that ruined it for him, painting such emotion into the eyes was always where he went wrong.

“The topic of my attempted marriage does not concern me when discussed with those who will take it with laugh, rather than those who... sheath it.” Jonathan nodded at her final words, she was right, there were people in the court who would use such a scandal against her.
"Such is the way of the Game." He found himself admitting out loud, his tone sombre and soft. He noticed her sigh as she looked over to where the parents stood, watching their children dance.
“The story may condemn me in some eyes, but a blackened name brings certain freedoms. I am in truth in gratitude to my gossiping groom. No noble in their right minds would sacrifice a son to an arranged marriage with the frog of the marsh.” There was a glint in her eye as she spoke, the very glint that sparked a wicked grin across his face, there were layers to the lady before him and it made her more human than most of the other ladies at court.
"Well, aren't you lucky? Some of us have boring duties to attend to and lack such freedoms." He teased her, his tone light and charming, his smile cheerful and soft.

Her next question surprisingly didn't catch him off guard, he was going to have to get used to that question over the summer. He was the eldest son of the Duke and held his own lands and responsibilities, yet was still to be betrothed.
“And you, Jonathan, you are of age and have been for some time. How is that you are here and not married? Have the Westerners kept your scandal?” He shook his head with an amused breath escaping his lips.
"And what scandal would that be, Lara? Has my misdeeds spread far and wide?" His words once again teasing her lightly. "The Westerns have never really married because we came of age and it was a duty, that's a recent thing to the West. The tribes were already family, marriage was sacred and the truest form of love... It's more customary in the West to marry for love, not for duty. I don't quite have the time to find such a bride." His explanation was probably more long winded than Lara had hoped for and as he went to engage her further, the signal for swapping partners hit his ears. He looked at Lara, and his smile faded, she was an interesting lady but their time at the dance had come to a stop.

He released her hand and waist, before bowing to her, with the music in a quiet lull he returned to the proper manner to address her. "It has been a pleasure, Lady Cavalier, I hope to see more of you during our time in the Summer." His words were sincere and wished it didn't seem so rude, but there were rules to this dance much to his chagrin. The pair then retook their places in line and Jonathan moved to his next partner, Lady Ilene Thatcher. Bowing before her, he took her hand and placed a kiss on her delicate hand. "You are a sight fit for the Gods, Lady Ilene." He greeted her, playing to her vanity, the corniness of the line reminding him of why he would roll his eyes when he heard his brother interact with women.


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The Prince was so full of confidence, it was slightly intimidating. Vivienne had known how to feign confidence for so long that she could see it in others, but with Brom it was rather real. For her, confidence was tiring, but to him it was just nature, who he was at his very core. "You’d find… That I am very good at following orders." Brom's words were like silk, trying to wrap Vivienne up, but she was no fool to the ways of men who played several Games.
"A captain of the guard who's only good at following orders, what a pity for the nation." She teased him, the hand that rested on his shoulder now tracing a symbol on his chest, but no doubt to him it would seem like she was simply teasing him but it was more a gesture of mockery only a westerner would understand.

Vivienne followed in Brom's steps as he lead the pair in their dance, he was surprisingly graceful and delicate in his steps, they seemed to dance in perfect unison, there was no keeping up with him or slowing for him, their movements flowing together without issue. Vivienne would have been more surprised but he was a soldier, a soldier needs to know his enemies moves in order to defend himself, combat itself was a dance.

The pair continued their dance and harmless teasing, until Brom's outburst of laughter, whilst embarrassed at first, she recognised where she'd gone wrong and started to chuckle too, although in a much more reserved manner.
"Well, I have never had the pleasure of holding the tongue of a Western woman. But it is a delicacy I’d greatly enjoy experiencing." Vivienne blushed slightly at his cheeks, but the corner of her lips pulled up into a smirk as she held back another giggle.
"I guess, I could have worded that better."

Vivienne knew she would come to regret her question regarding the siblings separation, she had ruined the mood of the dance with just a few sort sentences and she could feel it when Brom's whole body stiffened, even though he tried to smile it off, she could see through it.
"I love my sister very much. She has grown to be quite beautiful… She deserves all the happiness in the world. It’d be a lie to say that it doesn't hurt to know that this summer could be the last time my siblings and I are together. But," Vivienne was surprised by the spin, and rather ungracefully missed a step, but she managed to recover it before she embarrassed herself or her family further. "If someone were to hinder Rhaegar’s or Gwendolynn’s chance at happiness they would have to deal with me. I would rather them happy and separated then heartbroken and all of us together." Vivienne couldn't help but feel threatened at his words, her intentions were to help the royal siblings with something her mother mentioned in the carriage. The idea of his misinterpretation even upset her, he merely thought of her as a prying courtier.

Before Vivienne could clear up the situation, Brom bowed low and kissed her hand, "Enjoy the evening my lady for it is the first night of an amazing summer." With an almost defeated look she curtsied him before returning to the line, when she turned around, her fake smile for the Court had returned. When she looked back up, before her stood one of the Thorne's, a tingle sent shivers from her spine out across her body, that sense of dread she felt every time something bad happened was slowly creeping over her. He bowed and took her hand in his, before placing a soft kiss on the back of her hand.
"You are looking lovely this evening Lady Chaimbers." Vivienne offered him a smile and a slow blink, she was a good actress, she told herself to simply get through this one dance.
"Lord Thorne," She managed to say his name clearly and without a quiver. "The same could much be said of you." She took her position with him for the beginning of the dance, she looked at how well he had presented himself and she smirked, looking at the people surrounding them, she realised she was in no immediate danger. "Sometimes the most venomous snakes, have the most beautiful scales." She quoted her teacher outloud to Sylas. "The Snake House, that's what your family is known as?" She didn't know where she was going with this, but maybe if she could make him aware of her knowledge that the family was dangerous, he'd see her as a threat and not a victim, in her head she hoped to intimidate him, but she would no doubt put herself in more danger by acting in such a way.


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Frederick smiled as Aurora laughed at his story, just by looking at her he could tell there was little in her that made her malicious, she was a young and kind soul, the kind that would give you fuzzy, warm hugs. Her seemingly delicate nature inspired a bit of guilt in himself, but he shook it off being the arrogant Westerner he was, he couldn't second judge himself.
“I have never been outside of the Riverlands. Being the youngest does not get you far from home… But I love adventure, and I have read books on the Western Bluffs, none of the Fae though. They sound marvellous. The only other person with this white hair is my mother and she isn’t a goddess as much as she may seem like it at times.” He chuckled at the comments on her mother as they twirled under the parents watchful gazes. “I would love to travel there one day. I would love to see everything.”
"I have suspicions that she would not be too happy to hear you say that." He teased, before twirling her in a swift motion, luckily he'd done it enough times with more alcohol in his system and his partners so even if she stumbled, he'd be able to catch her without an issue. "And if you ever wish to see more of the world, the Southern Shores would very much welcome you." The invitation was very much so real, but his tone implied he was merely teasing her. He spinned her once again, softer this time so as not to disorientate her and let her drop into his arm, her entire body relying on him for her not to meet the marbled dancefloor. He leaned in closer and whispered in her ear "I also have a feeling you'd get on well with my sister, mayhaps she could even show you some of the lands believed to of housed the Fae maidens."

Frederick returned her to a standing position and they resumed the dance, the theatrics earning him an approving glance from his mother, but an eye roll from his father, not that he noticed, his full attention on Aurora as she discussed alcohol with him.
“From what I have seen though… alcohol can be quite beautiful too.” Frederick's head cocked to one side and he noiceably pouted as he pondered, the only beautiful images he had faded when he sobered up, as in from a 10 to a 2, and vomit was never pretty. “From what I have seen, a mans true heart comes out when he is drunk. In that sense, alcohol is like the key that unlocks the window of a persons true inhibitions.” Then it clicked in his head, he then chuckled at his previous imaginings and he smiled at her.
"Beautiful for you maybe, humourous to I imagine." He looked into her soft eyes, the soft colour and the innocence behind her words, made her all the more delicate than he first anticipated.

“I suppose it has its good and its bad. Is that an odd way to think of it?” Frederick chuckled, unsure of the intent for asking, but he offered her a smile.
"Not at all, in a sense it is true." His own honesty seemingly taking him by surprise. "I suppose it depends on the person, and why they're drinking."

As he trailed off, so to did the music, indicating they were to switch partners. "It would appear our time has come to an end," He glanced at the other dancers before returning his sights to Aurora. "'tis a shame, I was rather enjoying the discussion." He smiled at her, before letting her go and bowing to her. "It was a pleasure to have danced with you, lady Aurora, hopefully we shall see more of each other over the Summer."

Frederick fell back in line after saying his goodbyes to Aurora, he fell back in line and across from him now stood Clara Allyrion, the miracle child of the North, he didn't really know what that meant just that he'd heard Jonathan and their father discuss the family before. He stepped closer to her, a smile on his face, making his eyes softer and accenting his cheekbones. When she finally noticed him approaching, her reaction made him chuckle.
"Oh, I didn't see you there, My lord, You gave me a fright!"
"I guess, I'm just so unremarkable." He teased. "Especially if such a beauty doesn't notice me... Perhaps I should become a thief." His final comment more of a teasing ponder than an official disregarding of his life of luxury. He then bowed down to his her hand, her hands were soft and delicate, but there was a bump on one of her fingers, she had the hands of a writer. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Lady Clara." Frederick wasn't one for the proper way of address, if he is to marry one of these women, he should address them by their name, not the name simply inherited from their father.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jonathan Chaimbers Character Portrait: Lara Cavalier Character Portrait: Benjy Daverny

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LARA CAVALIER
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Eldest Child | The White Frog, Swan Princess
#A8C5EA | Outfit


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Lara took secret enjoyment in the way Jonathan teased her, though she wouldn't return fire so easily. She felt jealous of the way people could jest like so with ease, with people they barely knew. The only humor she could manage in a courtly conversation was self-deprecating because the only one she was targeting was herself and there was no risk involved there. Teasing others was something she did in her own mind, sometimes cruelly. Jonathan however had enough formality to be charming and lacked enough to be interesting, and performed this balancing act effortlessly. Nearly everything Lara said was welcomed with a smile, almost like every successfully formed sentence had a reward at its end. It felt like there was no wrong turn to take other than not laughing at a joke, which was good, because she didn't have to force it.

“And what scandal would that be, Lara? Have my misdeeds spread far and wide?” The man teased her again and she responded by dipping her head and watching their feet, hiding the relieved grin she was sporting. She was glad she hadn't crossed the line of uncomfortable that she often danced on. On top of that, it was nice to hear herself be called Lara without any negative connotation. It reminded her of home.

“Don't be coy,” she managed through a nervous laugh and looked back up, her eyes crinkling with amusement and curiosity as she awaited a proper answer.

“Westerns have never really married because we came of age and it was a duty, that's a recent thing to the West. The tribes were already family, marriage was sacred and the truest form of love...” Lara's lips parted slightly as she listened, the thought of looking into the history of the bluffs blossoming in the back of her mind. It had just occurred to her that perhaps a few of her more treasured authors may have been from the providence. “It's more customary in the West to marry for love, not for duty. I don't have quite the time to find such a bride.”

“You sound like you belong in a book,” Lara replied slowly, referring to the Western opinion on marriage rather than Jonathan's busy bride-free schedule. Her eyes trailed over to the smiling blonde dancing with the younger Prince and she watched for a short moment before wondering aloud with a tinge of skepticism, “Is it the same, for your sister?” Before he could reply she quickly shook her head and bit her lip, not wanting their pleasant conversation to take a turn for the depressing. She looked back up at Jonathan with an embarrassed smile. “Of course, it must be. I'm sorry, I - I think, that to think and to follow that ideal is beautiful. This Summer must feel like a holiday to you.”

She watched the lord go to speak when the signal to change partners sounded and her smile dropped along with her shoulders. She felt that her sense of comfort was being leached from her as his hands drew away and her own hands fell and gripped her skirts, tightly. She felt unsatisfied by the disruption. She still had questions she wanted to ask, particularly the question of what the “boring duties” as the Marquess of the Eastern Spines entailed, but that would have to wait for another time if she could bring herself to willingly approach him. It wasn't that he was unapproachable, more that forced social situations like these seemed to be the only way to get her to socialize.

“It has been a pleasure, Lady Cavalier, I hope to see more of you during our time in the Summer.” The sudden formality took her off guard, but she complied and curved into a small curtsy.

“As do I, Lord Chaimbers.” And just like that, they were back to being a lord and a lady. She had been pleasantly surprised by him, she reflected – his treasure chest was full of papers, but whatever was on them was certainly not boring, she just didn't know what was there yet. She moved into position and gave Jonathan a sideways glance as he kissed the hand of another lady and almost had to refrain from saying “ew”. She shuddered at the thought of how many times foreign lips were going to be pressed against her hands that night then curtsied to her new partner. Her fingers were fidgeting with the fabric of her skirt in excitement. She already knew – or just idealized – what this man's treasure chest contained, that being gold, alcohol, lock picks, a married woman's handkerchief, daggers and the smell of the sea and another lady's perfume. While Jonathan was off being a lord, she didn't have to go back to being a lady just yet... she thought as she looked up at the man across from her, the youngest Daverny.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Gwendolynn Castillon Character Portrait: Rhaegar Castillon Character Portrait: Sylas Thorne Character Portrait: Ilene Thatcher Character Portrait: Sylva Thorne Character Portrait: Lara Cavalier Character Portrait: Marynn Daverny Character Portrait: Howell Daverny Character Portrait: Benjy Daverny

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MARYNN DAVERNY
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Only Daughter | The Quarter Master
#567580 | Outfit
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BENJY DAVERNY
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Youngest Child | The First Mate
#5BA664 | Outfit
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HOWELL DAVERNY
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Eldest Son | The Swordsman
#DEAD83 | Outfit


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“Then we have much to learn from each other, Lord Howell. I’ll teach you about the South and you can teach me about the Misty Isles. But really, my life isn’t all that exciting. Farming is our staple and that is what we mostly deal with. We do a lot of trades and such so it is interesting to see the strangers that come by. The most exciting thing about the South is the forest if you want to explore it. The South is quiet and peaceful. Elliot often refers to it as ‘boring’,” Exciting or not, Howell listened with his whole attention focused on her. The dance something done in the background, dips, and twirls automatically. He isn’t so easily battered as the rest of his family when it comes to being on land. He finds the contrast between their homes fascinating. Farming, for all its import, may be ‘boring’ but it seems like honest work. Something that many of the people in the Isle’s can’t boast about. Trade and thievery the main source of their income. He could find plenty of room for an alliance between them, no doubt, and it helps that Ilene is so openly willing to speak to him. Maybe he could show her a thing or two about what it's like to be a pirate. Even if he is more of the proper sort.

The end of the dance comes far too fast for Howell’s taste, but alas, there are many people here tonight. And no reason to deny further interesting conversation. Especially since it seems his next partner is one of three reasons that the nobles have come to gather here. “I look forward to the chance to learn more about you and your Misty Isles,” Howell returns her smile, glad that his first dancing partner of the night was someone who did not harbor ill will or misinformed rumors “As do I.” Before turning to his next partner for the night.

Gwendolynn is truly a sight to behold, and yet, beyond the obvious beauty is a spark of rebellion hiding in the shine of her eyes. Like recognizes like, despite Howell’s penchant for pretending at being truly proper. Or perhaps Howell is superimposing his own views of the situation. Were he to be under such strict supervision, he’d have certainly gone mad. Lady Elena is bad enough, he can’t imagine how much worse she’d be if she were a queen. He could tell that she, most of all, would most likely have plenty of interesting things to say. That, he has no doubts of. “Lord Daverny.” She curtsies, and he bows back before he takes her hand lightly. Leading them into the dance with a newly practiced ease. Glad to have gotten the steps down between the first iteration and now.

“Lady Castillon,” He smiles, channeling the easy charm that makes him who he is. “Just Howell is fine, we are here to get to know one another after all.” A true enough statement, though truthfully, Howell is already suffocating under how proper and put together this event is, the formality on top of that just makes it so much worse. “I hope you’ve been enjoying yourself, so to speak” Howell comments, “I know these events probably aren’t all that fun. Though I find it rather interesting that all of us have managed to be this mannered for so long – especially with so many clashing personalities in one space.” He wouldn’t mind something interesting happening, so long as it didn’t come from his family. They had enough issues here without demonizing themselves in front of the other nobles. As if their reputation weren’t already bad enough. It amuses him in a way, how easy it is to speak his mind when unencumbered with his siblings. They are too often the stifling force behind his own ability to relax.

~*~



The charming smile was not completely lost on her, and Marynn, for her worth did not pretend that he was not indeed charming. Though she still had to force her expressions, no amount of charm would change that. And she had no inclinations to pretend otherwise. Compliment or not. ”Well… whoever told me that all Daverny’s lost their intelligence from drinking that salt water was wrong.” He bowed and parted with a kiss on the hand, Marynn bid him farewell as per required, wondering if that had been a true compliment or more of a backhanded one. Whatever the case, she did not let her mask fall too far. "Let’s hope more rumors are disproved this night… What fun would a summer in the Keep be if we all already knew everything about each other.” Her lips quirked into a small smirk after that, “Indeed.” She spoke, though more aloud to herself than to him. It would simply be no fun if things turned out at clear cut as she had formerly assumed it would be. Nothing like a few surprises here and there to keep the waters from going stagnant. "Have a pleasant evening my lady.”

“And you, my lord.” She nodded, satisfied that she had in the least held her ground in words. Her skills at dancing may be wrought with fault, but she still had her tongue and the spark behind it. She took a few moments to breathe, relaxation far from mind. She could not drop the rigidity of her spine or the way her cheeks seemed to burn from the force of keeping up such a peasant expression. She is tired already, wanting to find somewhere to exercise her skills of hiding away for a while. But this event had only just begun, there was more to contend with in the coming few dances. Almost hilariously, she found that she was soon faced by the prince. Looking down the line, to where her brothers were, she could see that Howell too had been paired with one of the royal children. Something about that amused her, internally. Externally she curtsied, feeling a little out of her depth here.

He was grinning, and she could not tell if it was meant to mock or encourage. Either way, she steeled her resolve. ”A pleasure my lady Daverny.” He caught her almost off guard, there was no hint of a lie in his tone, so far as she could tell. And that gave her some pause, as he kissed her knuckles and offered his arm. ”How are your land legs faring you? I can imagine it’s quite different being in the Vale.”

“This dance is tiring,” She spoke in truth, eyebrow raised as if to dare him to make a joke out of it. She had not yet sussed him out yet. Nothing separating the idea of who he is supposed to be from whom he really is. Marynn knows she shouldn’t judge so early on, but the urge is still there to bite. “Otherwise, I do quite fine on land. Would be better if I were not forced into wearing such dreadfully unwieldy clothing.” Her complaints were no doubt unoriginal, she couldn’t possibly be the only one uncomfortable with dressing out of their own style. Marynn at least, reinforced hers as best she could with the customizations she had made. Unwilling to play a role that she does not belong to, no matter who it was for. Something that her kin never seemed to understand. Still, she would have liked to have had some form of pants instead of this dreadfully long dress. Too damned easy to trip over.

“And you?” She doesn’t mean to sound harsh, though her words naturally fall from her lips in varying rough tones. Her smile, small and careless, hopefully, contradicts that. “How are you faring, knowing that the ladies here are the only choices you have?” Marynn doesn’t realize how rude that sounds before its already out. There is no room for regret, however, not in her world. Perhaps he won’t take it as badly as she meant it.

~*~




“I would hold your tongue, pirate, else wise you may wake up one morning to find that it has gone missing.” Benjy raised both eyebrows in mock surprise, he had imagined a vicious response but truly, this was amusing. No doubt he’d have to be weary of the Thorne’s. Perhaps he should inform Marynn that he’s made enemies already – how delightful. She would at least get a kick out of it. Threats were her game usually, but he quite liked the feeling it gave him. The rush of excitement, and perhaps a tinge of fear.

Alas, his enjoyment of the situation only seemed to grow as the dance came to a close, and the partner change was upon them. “I’m quaking in my boots.” He muttered beneath his breath, long after Sylva had gone. He pitied whoever stepped into that one's war path and hoped that he would not have to be formally within her presence again. Next found himself standing in front of the Cavalier girl. He instantly found himself intrigued, if not only because she seemed much easier to get along with than Sylva. She was different in posture, the air of her seemed to reek of originality. Not to mention, she had practically come alone – parents notwithstanding – each of the other guests here have siblings of a similar age to contend with. “Greetings my lady,” He bows, turning up the dial on his charms as much as he can. Smile bright and careful. There was something like excitement in the way she fidgeted, he found it endearing and a good sign that he was not facing another rude dancing partner.

At least this girl has a more easy style, pretty, without being utterly terrifying in the process. Definitely of the kind he would usually pursue. As shallow as that may be.

“Is there anything you wish to speak of my lady?” He did not wish to dominate the conversation, less she feels put out by his boisterous nature.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lara Cavalier Character Portrait: Benjy Daverny

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LARA CAVALIER
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Eldest Child | The White Frog, Swan Princess
#A8C5EA | Outfit


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“Greetings my lady,” the swashbuckler said with a bow and warming smile, to which Lara returned with a shy dip of her head, a curtsy and a mumbled, "My lord." If he was being careful she would never have noticed, she was too painfully aware of how she was looking at him that she was trying to make a point of not looking. But it couldn't be helped, there were certain things about the man in front of her that her eyes kept flitting back to. He was blessed with a face and charm that made her flustered, or maybe the beat of her heart was simply a reflection of how excited she was to dance with someone whose life was so bizarrely different to hers. Either way, if anyone were to ask her to describe the youngest Daverny the day after, the reply would be "He had brown hair and a hat." An odd response, considering how her curious mind usually documented paragraphs of information on the appearance and demeanor of everyone she noted as important. The meaning behind it? Well, maybe the details past "handsome" and "pirate" were not so important to her at the time, but that's all that can be said on that for now. “Is there anything you wish to speak of my lady?”

Lara's eyes immediately flicked up from his boots to meet his, already nearly bursting with questions. She let a short, nervous laugh out from under her breath as she placed her embarrassingly rough hand on his to begin the promenade.

“Well,” she began and coughed lightly into the shoulder facing away from him, “Well, there's only one interesting thing to speak of. How are you?” She quipped as they came out of the promenade and faced each other, tilting her head up to look at him. No sooner as the words left her mouth she visibly cringed, but the smile did not leave her. In fact, her cheeks were feeling noticeably warmer. Perhaps... she really shouldn't have downed that red wine so quickly beforehand.

“In truth, my parents have instructed me to be cold towards you,” she continued, hurriedly giving a lame excuse for how improperly she was behaving, though she didn't suppose he really cared for what was “proper” like most courtly folk. At that thought she tossed her head to search for her mother, and upon seeing her tight lips and popping eyes, gestured with her head for her dance partner to take a look. She was a little scared of the way Lady Beatrice was looking at her, and perhaps it showed, just a little bit. “This may be the only time I speak to you. Fortunately the Queen demands that tonight we dance, so, I want to use this wisely. This may be something quite dull for you, and something that many, many others will ask you but -” Lara's nervous ramblings came to a sudden halt as she paused then looked away from her mother's piercing gaze to him, her eyes narrowing. “Can you tell me a story?”

“A pirate one, specifically!” She blurted a bit too loudly, trying to redeem herself after sounding so pathetically childish, then she took up her ramblings once more, “A true story, ideally, but I don't mind if you stretch it. Something with storms, gold, women, celebration, blood – I want to hear all of it. Do you... have anything like that?” She asked, with the complete assumption that he did. Lara took the chance to breath as she twirled then gave him a cheeky, lopsided grin. “If nothing comes to mind, make it up.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Gwendolynn Castillon Character Portrait: Rhaegar Castillon Character Portrait: Lara Cavalier Character Portrait: Marynn Daverny Character Portrait: Howell Daverny Character Portrait: Benjy Daverny

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MARYNN DAVERNY
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Only Daughter | The Quarter Master
#567580 | Outfit
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BENJY DAVERNY
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Youngest Child | The First Mate
#5BA664 | Outfit
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HOWELL DAVERNY
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Eldest Son | The Swordsman
#DEAD83 | Outfit


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"Well, just Howell," He broke into a grin, glad that she did not take unkindly to his informality. It may have not been the proper way of introduction after all but it was the one that spoke the truest. ""You may call me Gwendolynn if you'd like, or Gwen... As long as my mother isn't around to scold me for being so informal." Howell simply couldn’t help from laughing, imaging his own sister and mother, the parallels were striking.

“Gwen it is then.” He could admit that, he was not finding this situation unfavorable in any way.Princess or not, Gwen had an air about her that spoke to Howell. A beauty, but also a note of rebellion that he could hear in her words and in the way her eyes shone. She is, for all the constant and angry rants from his parents about the royal family, nothing like what he imagined. A refreshing relief, when he had grown up with the notion that they were horrid people.

""I suppose I'm enjoying it as much as I can when I'm being forced to choose my future husband from a pool of pre-chosen suitors." That was fair, Howell had no such desires to be forced into something that did not come from his own heart, his inclinations to form bonds alone had been enough to keep him from falling into the same pit of annoyance that his siblings had. And, while he’s here, if there is something of true love – as impossibly naïve as that sounds, he wouldn’t entirely mind it. ""No offense... It's not personal. I just don't do well with the idea of arranged marriages, or rules... or really anything related to being a Princess."

“No offense taken, it does seem rather awful – well, in some ways of course. I can’t be a pirate and pretend I don’t envy the crown.” It was in their blood after all, “But the rules that come along with it, the formalities, the grand gestures.” Things like this ball, and the fact that the royal children were to be married off without much of a say, “Just…awful.” He repeated, hoping he didn’t come off as rude. He rather liked this easy conversation and wished for it to not turn sour by the slip of his tongue.

Howell continued on the lead the dance, a bit worried for her short silence but soon enough their easy speak continued on. ""That is a surprise. I wouldn't mind something exciting happening... Anything that gets me out of this corset sooner," Howell wouldn’t have minded either, though it would be a shame to interrupt a conversation that is going so well. ""But, how are you enjoying the Vale? I'm sure it's quite different compared to what you're used to on the water. I've never been on a ship or seen the ocean... The closest I've been is when my brothers and I would sneak out of the Keep at night to play in the fountains in the garden."

“The Vale is grand,” Howell let his smile slip into something akin rueful, “It’s certainly different from what I’ve become accustomed to. Life on the Ocean is rough, and here it seems the most I’ve had to deal with so far is the scornful stares of those around us – “ He couldn’t pretend that he had not seen some of the more nervous or angered glances thrown towards him and his family. Though, they had been here for quite some time yet and still nothing out of the sorts had become of the ballroom. No stolen or broken goods, no random fights breaking out in the middle of the floor. Things that people often came to expect from a pirate – what honestly, Howell had almost expected at least from Benjy. Though his siblings were doing remarkably well not to create a hassle.





Marynn could see why people were drawn to the Prince in the same way that she could see why people were drawn to just about anyone with a sense of kindness. She was glad, in the least that he helped her to keep up with the dance, her legs already burnt out from the repetitive steps – this dance would last forever, it felt like. She would only be grateful for the amenities provided when a bed came within her sight. She sighed and listened without her usual scorn.

" "My mother made Brom, Gwen and I practice this dance before every meal since winter. 'You must be perfect' she'd tell us." To Marynn it sounds like hell, but honestly, her own mother wasn’t far off from expecting perfection from her children – and upon not being given it she would stomp and rage all the while Marynn grew more resentful. A vicious cycle. One that she is glad is shared by more than just herself. "I've done it so much that I could do it with my eyes closed. I was tired of it before the music started." She had to laugh at that, the feeling mutual despite never having dealt with this dance before. The music was nothing like the loud tone-deaf singing one would hear from the crew or in the shanties where women would dance in a circle while cheaply made instruments created upbeat sounds to accompany them.

"You remind me of my sister. I do believe you both would get along quite well. She tried to convince me to wear the corset and dress on multiple occasions." Marynn could almost imagine how amusing that would be. But furthermore, she couldn’t help her mild surprise from showing. One eyebrow quirked as she thought about it – someone like her getting along with the Princess of the Vale. Perhaps. But there were enough differences between them to make her doubt.

“I’d love to see that,” Marynn chose to mumble instead, honestly teasing though she couldn’t be sure if she had spoken loud enough to be heard.

“At least you still are you, even if you have to wear a ridiculous dress." At least someone could see the reasoning behind her adornments. Preferring to keep true to herself, instead of following the stuffy rules placed together by this event and by her mother’s constant sharp words.


A moment after her final words she almost felt bad for saying anything at all, wondering if she had crossed the line – but it quickly dissipated as she returned to her default expression. Guarded and unsure. "I'd be lying if I said I enjoy it." The gravity of the room seemed to drag both of them down as he continued on, Marynn listened, silent and attentive though somewhat drifting. “I do feel bad though. It is my fault... I kept disappearing whenever my parents tried to marry me off. I just wished they would have kept Brom and Gwen out of this. They deserve happiness, not to be forced to choose from a pool of suitors." She nodded, pursed her lips. She isn’t so sure his own guilt is worthy of being the foundation of this event, her observance of the situation leaning towards the idea that whether he had dodged suitors or not the Royal children were going to eventually wind up married off.

He gave a halfhearted chuckle with a slight smile and Marynn knew at last that she had not offended him greatly by her blunt words. "But not everyone here seems bloodthirsty for my hand. I much like your bluntness and honesty. It's hard to find authentic people in court."

She laughed again, turning her gaze to the rest of the room. “That’s odd,” She didn’t often have people saying they liked her for the way she spoke without care. Rudeness was something she came by naturally, and the snappish way she sometimes acted went hand in hand. Even her own family often found her more tolerable when she kept quiet. Though, that usually resulted in her anger flaring twice as bright.

“Finding authentic people anywhere these days is near impossible,” She sighed, turned back towards him as the dance continued. Focusing less on the faces around her and rather on the one in front of her. “But,” She paused, considering. “I’m happy to be one of them, I’d hate to act the way some of the ladies here do – that just simply isn’t who I aim to be.” Formal attire, dances, things like this were as far from the reality she grew up in as possible. Etiquette may have been taught to her in a roundabout rough manner, but she had no will to become as stuffy as some of the nobles here, especially the ones who sought the crown as if they would die were they to not attain it. That, to her, seemed to be one of the more pathetic facets of this soiree.

“It must be dreadful,” She spoke, “I don’t pity the women who think having the crown is all they need in their life. You seem like a good man, genuine. You shouldn’t have to deal with snakes. But, it is the unfortunate truth that everyone here must face. None of us are going to leave here at the end of it unscathed.”

“And that’s a horribly sad – “ annoying, angering, devastating ”Fact.”
She realized that she was complaining, perhaps a bit too much. Felt no need to further drag the mood of the dance down. Placed her best smile, more genuine than not with her feelings on the matter out in the open.

“I fear we’ve gotten onto quite a heavy topic.” Typical of her, something she would need to work on if she wanted to get out of this season with her head still intact. She shouldn’t wallow, not even when she has to be resigned to the event. Things weren’t as bad as they could be, and thus far things had not gone awry in the way she imagined. She should be happy for that instead of angry still about being here.




Things had already begun far better than they had with the wicked Lady Thorne. Benjy found Lara cute, in a sort of meek way. Not as stiff as most people here, and certainly far more open to talking to him than he expected. “Well, there's only one interesting thing to speak of. How are you?” He hadn’t expected her clear interest, but it was nice all the same. He smirked, felt more confident that he could make nice with this young lady.

“I am well,” He spoke before she continued on. The dance went far smoother with her, less of a duel between two unwilling partners like before, and far more of an easy sway and dip that many of the others here were experiencing. The curiosity in her gaze did not leave him, and he could tell that look anywhere.


“In truth, my parents have instructed me to be cold towards you,” Unsurprising to say the least, there would be few here who cared to see their child speaking with one of the more notorious of the pirate siblings. Benjy alone had his reputation as a drunkard and womanizer within his own home and perhaps even here in a way, and maybe that gossip hadn’t reached every ear in the kingdom but his family and their own dastardly reputation is enough to keep most people from looking at him with the same interest that Lara shows. He can’t help but soften his smile, understanding in his eyes.

“Ah, yes, well that may be the case for many others here. I do not blame you for the fact.”

“This may be the only time I speak to you. Fortunately, the Queen demands that tonight we dance, so, I want to use this wisely. This may be something quite dull for you, and something that many, many others will ask you but -” He could almost tell where this was going, something that he would no doubt deal with multiple times, but, for the moment she was the first. Her rambling endearing in a way, sweeter than what he’s used to. Benjy almost feels bad for sweeping his gaze over her appreciatively, but, he wouldn’t be himself if he hadn’t done so at least once or twice over the course of the dance.

“Can you tell me a story?” There. The thing that he had been waiting for. He wouldn’t deny her, but before he could open his mouth she spoke on.


“A pirate one, specifically! A true story, ideally, but I don't mind if you stretch it. Something with storms, gold, women, celebration, blood – I want to hear all of it. Do you... have anything like that?” She had hit all the normal caveats, the things that were present in his life constantly though perhaps not all at the same time. He smiled and nodded. “I think I have a few tales for you, M’lady.” Embellishments would, of course, have to be made, but, that’s what she was asking for anyhow. He prided himself on being a particularly good yarn weaver. And there weren’t many stories he could tell that were bland, to begin with. Life as a pirate could be summed up in a single word; adventure.

But in the sacrifices, it took for his parents to keep their noble status (and not be incriminated for refusal) things had slowed down considerably. Most of their adventures were devoid of treasure hunts and stealing from merchant ships. They controlled most of those now, for the Vale. Which meant they had a higher amount of off-limit ships to contend with. The few they were “allowed” (A word his father curled his lip at when his mother would speak of their duties) to topple were usually small with crews of inexperienced men and women who were more than likely seeking to escape their old lives. Criminals, in some cases who had nothing but the clothes on their back. They were, however, the ones that fought the hardest and shed the most blood.

No, the action generally happened in the Misty Isles these days. With thieves and killers alike stalking the shanties. There was, however, one, a distant memory of his induction into the crew. A man at last, and training under his sister's harsh regiment alongside other new crew members. They were given reign of a secondary ship for some time as their father and mother went on leave for some reason or another – and that, well, that was where he would begin.

“My siblings and I have had to live under the rules of the Crown for far longer than my parents, they truly were allowed to see the glory days of pirating – “ He smiled softly, “These days, so long as we don’t bother the Vale we’ve got free run.” A half-truth, but still not quite a lie. Their mother was half the issue when it came to their old lives. Something had happened to the fearless pirate Elena had once been. A pity.

“Once, when I was a young lad, my sister and myself were placed upon another ship – just for a short time while Mother and Father were dealing with the more Noble side of things, likely at the Vales ports.” He had never cared to ask. Curled his lip at the very thought of it at all. “We were meant to be surveying the ocean, ensuring no trespassers came near –“ And that nobody left either, though he didn’t say that aloud. Not many people knew how far under the Daverny’s thumb the people of the Misty Isles were. “It was routine, so boring that we could do it in our sleep. But it didn’t stay that way for long, of course, dusk had begun to fall when one of the Riggers called down from the spars, he had spotted a distant ship on the horizon. A Brigantine, slightly larger than the Sloop we were on. They’re generally more fit as merchant ships.

There’s a sort of…code of honor out on the Ocean, but when young pirates are involved it usually gets swept under the rug. Whether the Brigantine was Vale or not we were more than ready to chuck the rules in order to have a little fun – and, it would certainly be an impressive tale to tell, a little Sloop manned by a crew as young as ours taking down a Merchant ship.”
He chuckled, the memories flooding back. Their crew had certainly been far more capable than what he painted them as, but where would the fun be if he had told her how very easy it would be to take down another ship, even with their smaller crew.

“Sloops are fast ships, capable of turning on a word. The crew had been reluctant, knowing the trouble we’d have if the ship were from the Vale but neither I nor Marynn cared. The rush of it kept us going. She commanded our Shiphands to get us as close to the broadside of the vessel as possible, if they didn’t stand down for a docking we’d fight our way on – and oh, fight we did.” The battle had been rough, the crew of the other ship outnumbered them. But where they had numbers, the Davernys had power. Besides, Merchants often backed down once a few of them were skewered. He related this to Lara, every gory detail slipping from his tongue as they danced.

“We had the crew cowering before us soon enough, their captain at our mercy, half of their fighters fighting the blood loss and the other half already gone to the gods above. The ship as it turned out was an independent, looking to trade with the Isles, they seemed to be unaware that we were more likely to simply take their cargo altogether.” He couldn’t even begin to wonder what they were thinking, coming into pirate-infested waters with the intent to trade – honestly, it was a foolish choice on their part.

“We took our pick of the able bodied crew for servitude and stranded the rest along one of the smaller islands out on the ocean. It's unlikely they survived, lest they were crafty enough. We took their goods, gold and all, and later on after returning to the isles threw a grand party in celebration of what we had done with the very gold we had taken from them.” He explained to her the way they would all gather together round fires, while women danced and people sang merrily, Rum passed around and around till even the hardiest of them became too weary to continue on.

Benjy himself never seemed to tire during such festivities, took his time wooing the women and would always eventually wake up back at the ship, with a lovely lady or two on his arms while either a sibling or a parent towered over, looking down at him in amusement or anger. On that following day, it had been the latter.

Lady Elena had caught wind of their transgression first. “Mother ranted for days, asking us what we’d have done if we had begun a war with the Vale. I didn’t much care, not when the buzz of the fight still rung in my ears. Our father had been proud though.” Benjy sighs, “that had been enough. Well. And hearing the story of it passing from ear to ear. Each iteration more grand than the other.”

The story had come to pass, but he had much more to tell. He didn’t want to deprive her of the only chance she would get to ask, or hear of them. So he continued, each getting more and more elaborate. Though they had such a limited time he tried to keep the stories short, though he refused to skimp on the violence and glory of them.

He hoped that she was enjoying herself, for what little time they had to speak.

“I know that you’ve been told to do otherwise,” Benjy began, in the lull of silence that accompanied his final words. “But I do hope we get to speak some more some time.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lara Cavalier Character Portrait: Benjy Daverny

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LARA CAVALIER
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Eldest Child | The White Frog, Swan Princess
#A8C5EA | Outfit


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The pirate's pleasant willingness to comply with Lara's scrambled request made her feel like her heart had swollen two sizes and was about to blow - in a nice way. As they danced she almost forgot she was dancing and missed a few steps without realizing, too wrapped up in his words to remember which foot went forward. She didn't seem too apologetic about messing up either, just dismissing the fumbles with a smile and a shrug. The dance wasn't nearly as deserving of her attention than the story.

She listened to it intently and with these wide, eager eyes that peered up with anticipation for every sentence that followed from the last. Though she was looking at him, she wasn't seeing him. She saw the action folding out in front of her, much like how an imagination draws up an image from the words in the pages of a book. While he so generously relayed the gory details of the fight, her nose scrunched up and she found her belief fluttering – there was no way a dagger had scraped against his face to only shave his mustache – well, she supposed it was possible – sure, it happened. Why not? She tried her best to keep a straight face (after all, it was unladylike to show interest in violence), but she did let the accidental reaction slip, as well as one skeptical, “Really...?”

“The ship as it turned out was an independent, looking to trade with the Isles, they seemed to be unaware that we were more likely to simply take their cargo altogether.” They moved on from the bloodbath to the more depressing aftermath, at least it felt that way to Lara. Her sympathies were quickly washed out by the tales of celebration and she found herself grinning through it.

“Mother ranted for days, asking us what we’d have done if we had begun a war with the Vale. I didn’t much care, not when the buzz of the fight still rung in my ears. Our father had been proud though.” There was a subtle change in the way the Daverny held himself as he let out a sigh. “That had been enough. Well. And hearing the story of it passing from ear to ear. Each iteration more grand than the other.”

Lara let out a low whistle the second he stopped for breath. “The greatest feat I've ever done for my father's approval was simply coming here,” she murmured, but that wasn't exactly true. When she was young, while she had been wrapped up in her mother's 'lady' studies, her connection with her father began to fade. Their lives simply had less to do with one another's. Her brilliant idea to rekindle their connection was to impress her father by conquering her fear of horses. Trying to tame and ride a moody stallion she was deathly afraid of unsurprisingly did not end well and the experience only contributed to her uneasiness. In fact, it was no wonder that she did not consider this a feat. Climbing a tree with a dislocated shoulder could be, she supposed, but the fact that she climbed it to hide from a horse was another matter.

She went back to listening to his stories, finding them more detailed (and unyielding with violence) as they went on. She didn't say much if not anything at all, but she didn't mind. What from her life that was so boring in comparison could she speak about to him? As another story drew to a close, Lara hung on to the silence, waiting for him to break it with another tale. He broke it, but the time for stories had seemed to pass. Lara guiltily thought she had made his throat sore.

“I know that you've been told to do otherwise,” he said, “But I do hope we get to speak some more some time.”

Whether he was genuine or not, eh, it was hard to tell with a pirate. Lara just gave a wonky smile that said 'oh well'. It could be another adventure, trying to sneak to him right under her mother's beak. Her adventures held no grain to his, if the worth of adventures were counted in glory and gold.

“Thanks,” she replied meekly before clearing her throat and trying again, “I don't know your -” A sudden wind chilled her and took the light out of the room with it. “... Huh.”

The initial outrage of the nobles quietened down in a moment and the place became all too quiet. Moonlight dappled the audience, only letting Lara see shifting shapes and no faces. Something felt wrong. She fell still as did what she did best – listened. It was so faint, even her ears could barely pick up the sound of steel and the gasp of pain, then through all the panic, the hushed but authoritative voice that followed. But they did. What those words said, she could not tell. She opened her mouth to alert someone when there was a horrified scream from behind her and she knew that there was no doubt the Keep was under attack. What followed was hell.

Hell was confused footsteps, the slashing of throats and the cries of victims and witnesses. Lara was frozen with no clue of what to do. The sounds of fighting seemed to come from all around her, closing her in. Out of the corner of her eye she saw a glint in the moonlight and darted towards it, snatching the large circular tray of drinks from a serving boy. The goblets spilled at the severity of this action and she felt dark liquid flood over her chest and sink into her skirts. She came back to her dance partners side, holding the tray up like a shield. She looked ridiculous. It was a good thing it was dark. She budged over close enough to him that her elbow brushed against his arm. It was odd to say, but it was safer to be next to the pirate in this situation.

“Here's your chance to prove you can do half the things you just claimed you could,” she said loud enough to be heard over all the yelling, “I really hope you weren't completely lying.”