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One More Chance

Earth

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a part of One More Chance, by Jane Storm.

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Jane Storm holds sovereignty over Earth, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

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Earth

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Earth is a part of One More Chance.

14 Characters Here

Vasile (Basil) [3] The Divine Messenger
Annabelle Penclave [2] The underdog of pharmaceutical and bio-chemistry.
Julien Augustus [1] Lord of Magnolia Manor
Adelia Chevalier [0] "The flowers have bloomed..."
Helmut Jaegar [0] "Which, if not victory, is yet revenge."
Maximilian Uliara [0] An illusionist looking to enjoy a noble party
Duncan MacCraigh [0] Scotsman. Soldier. Smartass.
Valian De Leon [0] a very odd person with a weird humor
Genevieve Mayfair [0] Lady of Magnolia Manor

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~ Prologue ~

It was the autumn of 1895, a time of golden and amber leaves, of green vineyards and fruitful orchards. The well-tended gardens of Magnolia Manor were peaceful and soothing, filled with African lilies, windflowers in pale and vibrant colors and the exotic waxy looking “painter’s palette”. Just above the scorpion orchid’s upright stems a colibri was fluttering its wings.

A tall red haired woman wearing a pale white dress with plain and tight sleeves was watching the creature’s green plumage.

“What a strange little bird!” she said in a melodious voice, her green eyes widened in awe. And it was strange indeed, for the little bird known as the Green Violetear could only be found in South America, sometimes wandered up north but never as far as to reach British shores.

The woman -Genevieve Mayfair by name, Lady of the Manor by title – was waiting patiently in front of the estate for her personal carriage. The usual coachman, having a bit too much to drink the day before was laid off on the lord’s dispositions and a replacement wasn’t easy to find especially on this day. The Earl of Cranbrook was celebrating his daughter’s marriage with the Marquess of Zetland’s son and anyone worthy of his attention received an invitation.
Because Lord Byron, her husband, had a sudden attack of laziness, none of the Mayfairs would attend to the party that night. Sick of her husband’s inclination for sloth and indifference towards social etiquette, she decided to pay her old friend a visit and have an enjoyable night by herself.

It was late in the afternoon when she arrived on Wisteria Lane and the old house with seven gables came into sight gloomy and mysterious. Emma Chambers, widowed at the age of 29, welcomed her in person not bothering to send any of her servants to receive Genevieve.

“How you are making my heart tremble with excitement!” she said as she embraced her friend kissing both her cheeks and leaving a trail of rosy pink rouge behind.

“It has been long indeed” Genevieve answered brightly and held her friend’s soft hands for a moment.

“Come inside, you mustn’t catch a cold on your visit, we have so little chances of seeing each other after all. How did you manage to get away from the wolf? Won’t he be furious when he finds out about your absence?” Emma straightened the pleats on her dress and lead Genevieve inside holding her by the hand.

“Lord Byron has been so busy lately I’m surprised he even takes time to breath” Genevieve replied ironically and the young women burst into laughter. They both knew exactly how busy the master was since his marriage three years ago. Emma had her doubts about his past as well, but she did not ask anything of the sort. Her friend’s private life and choices weren’t her playground although she knew more about their past lives as a couple than anyone else.

“But it’s alright..” Genevieve continued as they passed the darkened hallway and went upstairs. “I was so sick of staying home that it doesn’t matter how upset he’ll be when I return and I missed you so much that any minute spent here is worth being reprimanded for.”

Emma giggled and showed her inside the Italian –style guest room. It had a colorful wall-to-wall carpet and large windows, the walls being ornamented in deep red and olive green. The light was dim making Genevieve feel at home. Emma invited her on the wide and high backed couch near the fireplace and took herself a chair by the window near the little round table. The moon was shining on her dress making its vibrant colors almost sparkle. She wasn’t called “Madam Fuchsia” for nothing; being a widow she afforded a little eccentricity both in behavior and choice of clothing.

Tea was brought in delicate china cups depicting everyday life events and Genevieve complimented its flavor after taking a sip. Along with the hot drink snacks were also served. In that time there were two kinds of tea services, namely, high tea and low tea. The upper echelons of the British society took Low tea. This meant that the tea was accompanied by small snacks and not proper food. Low tea meant more conversation and less food. In contrast to this, the high tea was partaken by the lower classes of the British society, which was accompanied by a proper lunch.

“My dear Gennie, I hope you remember our last meeting when I explained your strange dream.”

“Remember? How could I forget? Me and Byron slaves in Ancient Egypt! I couldn’t imagine myself being so…unwashed.” , Genevieve replied gleefully.

“Well, it seems there is more than that. Some of your other dreams brought a little more light on your past and that comb of yours was most useful. That night I could only see one façade of your common history but it seems there were others.”

“Other lives? I could have imagined as much…”

“Other people involved.” Emma stood up and went near the fireplace taking a book from the wood shelf on the right. She drew near Genevieve and opened the book in front of her eyes. It was a dark leathered tome with yellow pages that almost crumbled in her fingers.

Arthur’s Penrose Secret History and Love Affairs

The engraving was still intact. The two laughed again as they skimmed through the book filled with the author’s biography, legends gathered from natives on his trips and even indecent pictures from the “Arabian Nights” translation. Emma turned the pages over to the chapter entitled “Folk tales from the desert”.

“Supposedly”, she continued “there was a group of angels called the Grigori that came on Earth and asked the locals’ daughter’s hands in marriage. Then they had children and forgot about their home in Heaven so they were left by God to lead a human life until death.”

“Oh, how romantic” Genevieve whispered, curious to hear the end of the story.

“Yes, but they also forgot their wedding vows and got other wives, sometimes keeping both of them like Muslims do. Apparently they refused monogamy and this made God angry.”

Genevieve started laughing:

“My father would certainly approve and give one of his “that’s why God loves only the Christians” speeches.”

“Listen carefully Genevieve, because this is no laughing matter.” For the first time that night Emma became fervent and serious. “You and your husband were two of those souls destined to stay together until death. It says here that five of the angels were given another chance only because God took mercy on the first wives when he saw their unchanged love. So it came that all of them received a limited number of human lives to repent for their mistakes and gain forgiveness. Some of the angels succeeded in doing so, but their soul mates broke the vows as revenge and so the cycle never ended.”

Genevieve looked at her friend astonished.

“And you want me to believe all of this? Emma, be serious, living in Egypt is one thing and I only played along because I dreamt of the dessert and the pyramids...a vivid and wild dream it’s true, but a dream nonetheless. How can I possibly believe that Byron..my Byron.. was ever an angel?” She let out a giggle “Do you honestly think he has any kind of virtues besides his love for elegance and hygiene?”

“Yes, he does. And he used to have plenty. Gennie, I know how much you love him despite your ironies. And I know how indifferent he’s been to you for some time, you told me yourself. This might be your last chance to keep him faithful. If not for your soul, at least do this for your marriage. I thought deeply on each and every dream you ever related in the past year and everything makes sense. Let’s not also forget the fact that you had most of them while awake. I asked the cards and put the puzzle together. All you have to do is gather the remaining four and their soul mates and... ”

“Emma, this is absurd!” Genevieve stood up taking the pleats of her dress in her hands, ready to leave. “You cannot expect me to gather an array of strangers on the pretense of..on any pretense whatsoever! You have taken this joke a little too far.”

Emma took her hand and looked gravely into her eyes. Her voice was serious, but warm when she spoke.
“Genevieve, you know how deeply I care for you since we were children. You know I never joke on such matters and not when it involves you. I always considered you as my sister and I would never bother you with such things if I wasn’t convinced they were true.”

The red haired women took a deep breath and sat down quietly back on the couch.

“I’m listening..”

Emma smiled.

“It’s not as hard as it sounds. You have to bring the others together as well since it seems you're the only one who remembers and I believe fate brought the two of us to be friends for this purpose as well. ” She opened the lid of a wooden box on the table and took a handful of tiny stone tablets marked with letters, spreading them on the silk cloth.
“Runes!” Genevieve gasped.

“ The Providence smiled upon us, Gennie! All of them are related to your closest friends of the family. Indeed, they could be anyone: cousins, daughters, distant relatives, but we do know that they are unmarried and we know their initials.”

She handed Genevieve a piece of paper.

“H.J.” “C.P.” “J.F.” “D.M.” “A.C.” “A.P.” “A.R.”

She read them out loud.

“Doesn’t ring a bell..none of them!” Genevieve said disappointed.

“Not yet..but I suggest convincing your husband to pull a few strings and find out who they are. Inquire all of your acquaintances on their relatives eligible for marriage and have them together as soon as possible.”

“I’ll try..” she replied still unconvinced of the whole story.
“Until then, let’s enjoy our meeting for it might be the last one for some time.”

Emma smiled and sat down besides her friend.

“I’m sure the wolf won’t forgive you easily for this day.”

The two spent the night catching up on the latest gossip and the old house on Wisteria Lane was full of their childish laughter once again.

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#, as written by lumikb
Adelia was having the dream again, the golden sand and the pyramids once again, she was dancing in front of that man. Like all the other nights even if he was close to her she couldn't make out his face. In a away she had no control on her actions but only witness this images of the past. Her garments were more than revealing, a long silk blue cloth was covering her legs. The room looked like a bedroom, he was laying on the bed that looked odd to Adelia, it had a gold frame and bright drawings on it colored blue. The walls here were covered with drawings also, the floor felt cold under her feet made out of some sort of stone.

He made a sign to her to come closer, she could feel how her heart was beating faster now. She was sitting with him in the bed, someone could be heard from the hall and her lover furiously got up towards the door. He was talking in an unknown tongue, two big black men pushed him back, and fear could be now read in his eyes. She started crying and yelling back at them to let him go, jumping from where she sat and pulling on the men arms to free her man.

"Lady Adelia , wake up!" the maid looked worried , the young mistress was crying in her asleep again."My lady please wake up, you are here at home .Why are you crying?" the old woman touched the girls check gently.
"Is that you Matilda?" she opened her green eyes that now where a little red, the maid looked like a ghost through the white veil covering the bed.
"It's time to get up, the doctor will be here soon. “The woman took the veil out of the way and was now cleaning the girls face with a clean towel."Maybe he will help you have a goodnights sleep, this has been going on for a month." she smiled back at Adelia" All done!"

Adelia looked around her bedroom to make sure she was really back in the Chevalier Mansion ( picture of her bedroom--> http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2003/211 ... d24ab1.jpg ) , Matilda let the light from the windows to invade the room and started moving around arranging her dress for today. She slowly got out of bed, her body felt tense hurting all over, and she was exhausted as if she hadn't slept all night.
"Come here now, we must hurry." The old lady grabbed her hand and hurried her on a small chair that was in front of a mirror and table.

She started combing her, then dressing her up and arranging a small bow on the hair. The dress (http://themetrunks.com/miniatures/image ... -Dress.jpg) was white as milk, with small intricate designs made out of lace and pearls. The material was very comfortable and soft; it helped Adelia relax a little while Matilda was now buttoning up in the back.
"There you go, you look like an angel." the maid was now doing the bed, Adelia giggled at the thought that she never saw the old woman sitting still ever."You should go downstairs soon; Lord Gaillard will be in the study together with the doctor."

Adelia nodded back to Matilda , this old woman was like a mother to her she always takes so much care of her. She ran after her and gave her a big hug while laughing and then ran out down the stairs, she could hear the conversation between her father and that man. They were talking about her condition and how that could have any effect on finding her a husband since it wasn't lady like to eavesdrop she slowly walked forward and knocked on the oak door.
"Excuse me, Papa. “She greeted the Lord Gaillard that was sitting behind his large desk and then the doctor.

He looked like a nice person, similar to a loving grandfather than a physician; all dressed up in a black suit with a top hat, on his lap sit his leather bag. She sat on the armchair next to him, keeping silent not to break in upon the discussion.
"My dear Adelia," her father looked at her “both me and the doctor believe that you need some time away from home since I do not agree on you taking any other kind of treatment for something as trivial as nightmares." he was smoking now , the doctor smiled and coughed.
"Yes, I believe that maybe this dreams have been caused by the news your father gave you , as I have understood that soon you will be meeting your future husband." he covered his mouth with his hand as to get away from the smoke.

The two men kept explaining this issue to her but Adelia knew deep inside it had nothing to do with anxiety of any kind. She didn't care much of her fiancée or her fathers business; it didn't matter since she was a woman from the Chevalier family so all she could do was follow the rules. In which case, why fight a war that can't be won? Like many others she would get into an arranged marriage, if she was lucky the man that will have her would be a kind person, that was all that mattered for Adelia .

Her father’s voice brought her back to reality:
"And so, I have taken the decision to send you away from here for a time. Namely , you will be spending a couple of days in the Magnolia Mansion from where you have gotten an invitation for the Summer Solstice celebration, to be truthful at first i didn't even want to tell you about it but the doctor here believes it will be good for your health. “He smiled at his daughter and turned his back at them looking out at the garden."You will be accompanied by your maid and after your return, my dear child, you will be meeting your future husband and we will be making the whole thing public."

Adelia felt a rush of energy taking over her body that was wonderful news; it would be the first time she would be away from home. Her cheeks were rose red from the emotions, a big smile on her face. She went over and hugged her father thanking him for letting her go there. Yet there was one thing that Adelia didn't really like, the marriage would happen sooner than she had thought. She wanted to find the man from those Arabian nights before meeting her fiancée, this could be her chance. Maybe fate itself has brought this invitation!

.....................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Helmut Jaegar has just bought the mansion from the man who had doomed his family in the past, he got what he deserved. It was incredible how some people let themselves get fooled so easily, he was still shocked he managed to pull the whole affair off and the fact he wasn't sitting in prison now but in a large expensive house. The days spent in France has helped him start a small business that now allowed him to take care of himself not needing his older brother Ralf help.

He felt more than happy, powerful and evil to the core, he had the smile of a mad man at looked older than his age. He was alone in the place for now; he had to soon get some servants, maids, butlers everything he needed to run a household. The next step would be to find a good catch, a rich widow maybe with a title of noble that would make his way to the top easier. Helmut was dancing the hall as if he had a lady in his arms, laughing and singing one of the songs often played in the French brothels.

Going up the stairs, he found the bedroom were his lover the widow of this home had killed herself. Helmut knew from the start how weak this woman was, a perfect victim and tool for his crime, she would have never had the guts to tell on what really happen. Her death made his life so much easier, his hand were touching the wall from where she had hanged herself. In a away he felt sorry for all that happened but it wasn't his fault, they only paid for their sins.

A voice could be heard back downstairs, it was Ralf, his brother. He showed up in the bedroom where Helmut sat:
"Well good day, dear brother." he greeted him, looking down on Helmut who didn't even get up "I came by to bring you this." he took out a letter and threw it on the bed.
"I didn't open it since it's addressed to you" he turned around to walk away “I can't stay any longer, you know I am a busy man."

Helmut didn't say a word; normally Ralf would just ignore him after all that has happened. He didn't tell his brother of his plan and what he did, but in some way he already knew. As a result Helmut stopped seeing his family as often, one of the reason why he bought this place. He reached over the piece of paper, taking out his dagger that he always had at hand.
"Hmmm...An invitation to a high society event well isn't that something." he started laughing, in less than a second he wrote a reply that he would be attending.

This would be his entry in high society, a chance to get his hands on real power.

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The golden sun peeked its way through the thick red drapes, illuminating the room with a pale iridescent glow. Every part of Clarice’s life was stunning since the ever so “tragic” death of her handsomely rich husband, known to the public as the Duke, but to Clarice as Irvine. The home bought with the money from selling his grand estate was ravishing, completely decorated with all the royal colors it was much more of a step up from a social class for her, it was a leap. The house sat on the East side of town, a wrought iron gate enclosed the beautiful wisteria, hydrangeas, and other various flowers that grew around the soft dirt, and the chocolate colored turrets on the roof soared high into the sky.

There were enough rooms for at least six people, but only Clarice lived there, though she had many guests frequently, and at least one of her rooms was always occupied. In fact, just the other day the (married) the Duke Morrison roomed there, but not on business, but for other, unmentionable, reasons. He had not been the first married man to accompany her in the large home, and certainly not the last.

Clarice rolled out of the bed. The pale wine colored silk night gown tickled her tanned ankles. With a few steps she was facing the floor length mirror; its golden surface was engraved with birds and olive branches, though Clarice was not much for religion she enjoyed the symbolism, knowing she would be one of the first to go had God ever decided another flood was needed. No one had spent the night for the past week, so she took her time examining her reflection. A black ribbon tied her blond hair into a tight French braid, but small curls were escaping all over. Her stunning powder blue eyes were icy but familiar and against her softly browned skin provided a nice contrast. The slenderness of her body was accentuated with her small waist and perfect hips that led to her silky mile long legs. Every part of her was irresistible, and she knew it.

The knocking on the door was loud enough for her to hear it upstairs in the master suite and she quickly pulled on a black silk robe, tying a flawless bow in the piece around her waist. She padded down the spiraling staircase and opened the door just before the person on the other side knocked a second time.
The brass knob was cool on her warm fingers as she unlocked the door and slid it open. Cool morning air breezed happily into her house and in front of her stood a medium sized man in a forest green overcoat and matching trousers with a creamy white collared shirt. She could tell he worked for someone of money by the solid gold buttons down his shirt and the spectacular embellishments that resided on its hem.

“Good morning, how can I be of assistance?” She did not mean this in any sort of inappropriate way, but in a friendly cordial manner, he was not her type. The man extended a letter enclosed in a manila envelope in his left hand.

“Yes, I am Jared Forehand, from Magnolia Manor. If you could read the letter and provide me with a response it would be greatly appreciated.” His tone was cordial, but formal. In compliance she slipped her red nail under its seal and pulled out the letter. The smell of sweet honey suckle and musk wafted from the paper providing an enticing desire to press the golden scented ink to her nose, but the refrained and read the letter. It only took her a moment, she recognized the names, friends of the family… well her mother’s side of the family, and since her mother had died, there really was no reason to keep in contact. Not to mention the fact that she wasn’t the same little girl people knew when she was alive.

A mental war raged in her head as her eyes scanned the man standing before her. What did she have to lose? Though the thought of accompanying a party of people she did not know, or who knew her as an innocent child was not amusing.

“Well Jared, I accept with pleasure.” She took a quill off the table by the door and wrote that she accepted in the back, her curly script looked professional on the paper. “Here.” She handed the letter back to him, “is that all?” She questioned while wrapping her hands around her stomach.

“Yes Madam. We shall see you in the future.” He nodded and exited her property, the wrought iron gate swinging on its hinges as it shut. Clarice closed the door taking a moment to breath. Then going upstairs to begin packing her bags.

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A glorious and bright sun shone down upon the stone paved walkway leading to a massive building. Lining it's edges were warriors resplendent in polished bronze armor and red cloaks that ran to slightly above their ankles. Spears were held in their hands while bronze swords hung sheathed at their waists. And in the space between these proud soldiers walked a lithe youth clothed in little more then a loincloth, his sun kissed skin marred by the claws of some beast. From these gruesome wound blood oozed slowly, the scarlet liquid a shade similar to the red cloaks of the soldiers he walked amongst. But from his proud and upright stance it seemed the wounds bothered him not. Each step measured and firm the youth strode onwards while the soldiers watched in utter silence.

As he steps carried him to the threshold of the building the soldiers formed ranks behind him. Upon the threshold stood a group of old men who nonetheless held themselves with the carriage of a warrior. But amongst them standing taller and prouder then any was a red cloaked soldier holding a red cloak cut obviously to fit either a small man or a young one. The youth steps halted as he faced this soldier while behind him the soldiers knelled, laying spear and shield upon the ground.

" Today my son has become a man. Through hardship,sweat,toil,and suffering he is now no longer a child. Let it be known through all of our world the Walls have gained another stone. Let even the Gods themselves hear of my son and our Patron know other has been found worthy."

The proud soldier shouted as the red cloaked honor guard of the youth arose and banged spear against shield. Suiting actions to words the proud soldier wrapped the red cloak he held around the youth's lithe frame. Standing aside he let the youth claim his spot. Turning to face the red cloaked warriors a battle cry ripped from the youth's throat.



The crowing of the rooster rang loudly throughout the still morning air as the sun rose to bath it's gentle golden radiance upon the dawning of another day. For John Arbuthnot Fisher asleep upon his bed it was the interruption of his rather disturbing dream, the latest in a series of worrying nocturne adventures.

Another one, am I truly losing it? He mused as he stared up at the plain white ceiling of his bedroom. Drawing in a deep breath he swung his legs off the narrow bed he slept on. The early dawn sunlight bathed in through the wide windows of the bedroom highlighting the spartan nature of the decor. Other then a narrow bed set against a far wall the only other furnishings the room bore were a oak wardrobe and a wash basin set upon a pine table. Bare white walls and ceiling were centered by a stone floor.

Not much of a bedroom for a Captain of Her Majesty's Royal Navy now is it. He thought ruefully as he took in the rather poor image the room presented. Truth be told he always found the place somewhat bare, his cabin aboard the HMS Warrior was finer then this by a good degree. But as the saying goes beggars can't be choosers and despite a lifetime of service to the Crown he was not exactly dizzyingly rich. But fingering the wool blanket that warmed him as he slept he still wished for more. The coarse material wasn't exactly silk sheets and servants waiting hand and foot on him.

"Alright enough daydreaming Captain Fisher you got a job to do." He muttered to himself as he got up and out of bed. Stretching his lithe frame luxuriously the blond British naval captain made his bed up with both precision and efficiency. This was aided by the fact he had much practice at this rather mundane task. Growing up poor endowed one with mastery of nearly every domestic skill if they cared for such things as appearances. That being done he went to wash basin, discarding his sleeping clothes as he did. Splashing cold water onto his body he scrubbed vigorously with a piece of soap that lay upon the table. When he was done he stared his reflection in the water's surface, the planes of his face was smooth cheeked hiding his 43 years from most observers. But his eyes while holding a vitally all their own held a tired look.

He had through sheer skill clawed his way up the ranks of a system prejudiced against those not part of the club. And John with his history was not a member of the club. With neither family or wealth to smooth his way the would be officer had to work 100 times harder then any other cadet. He mastered every thing thrown his way, earned his stripes by long watches, by battles against pirate and privateer alike. And here he was 43 Captain of the finest ship in the fleet while his fellow cadets either were Admirals or living the life of ease after inheriting their parent's wealth. And John Arbuthnot Fisher son of a whore was a poor officer who dreaded the pauper's doom. Death would be more acceptable to his pride John vowed to himself. At least in death he might have a shot at his unknown Father.

Shaking such thoughts from his mind he dropped into the aloof mask he wore so well that his adoptive parents had commented on it before their death. His adoptive Father in particular had thought the navy had destroyed his caring and happy ward. That more then anything affected him and lead him to questioning of what his dream was costing him.

But once the anchor was weighed and the mainsail was set there was no turning back from the course that was laid an old naval saying went. And his course was plotted long since.

Although it seems my course runs before the gale, a tempest that is driving me to the coast. He thought with a certain fatalism as he dressed quickly in the tweeds that were considered at best working man's clothes. The sight of his uniform in it's place of pride in the wardrobe seemed only to fuel his fatalism. Current fashion dictated a officer's uniform be on par with civilian fashion. However he didn't need his fellow officers disdain to know his uniform was anything but on par with civilian fashion. One event in particular brought that to the forefront. During the last review of the fleet his ship's first officer lent him his spare uniform so as to pass muster with the Admirals and more important the Queen herself.

A knock at the front door disturbed his thoughts and so perforce the Captain abandoned them as he strode out through his bedroom and out through the if possible more spartan main room which served the triple function as living room,dining room,and kitchen. A wood stove with a cast iron fry pan and a small pine table seemed the only furnishings in this room. Otherwise the same white walls and stone floor made it seem twin to the bedroom.

Opening the imposing oak front door John was confronted by a man clothed fashionably in a green waistcoat,white shirt,and green coat. Obviously a servant by his bearing the man nonetheless looked far wealthier then the Captain whose morning musings he had disturbed.

" I apologize I must have the wrong address. I am looking for Captain John Fisher of Her Majesty's Royal Navy." The man spoke up as soon as the door was wide open.

"Speaking, how may I help you?" John asked with only a slight twitch of his cheek. It was an honest enough mistake, the Captain wasn't exactly dressed like the majority of naval captains. And while the land around his small house was pretty enough it wasn't exactly the stomping grounds of the nobility that made up the command of the navy.

" I am Jared Forehand styled butler of Magnolia Manor and I have come to deliver a letter. Her Ladyship would appreciate a swift response." The now revealed Jared answered without missing a beat.And as he spoke the butler handed him a sealed envelope whose red wax seal was marked with what was no doubt the crest of the noble family that owned Magnolia Manor.

" And exactly why would her Ladyship care to have a swift response from me regarding any matter?" John asked more to kill time as he studied the envelope then genuine curiosity although there was enough of that in all fairness.

" I am not privy to that information sir. If you wish to know may I suggest opening the letter Captain." Jared replied in what seemed a rather prepared answer. Almost as if he knew it would be asked as soon as he saw John.

"Fair enough." John answered suiting actions to words as he walked to his kitchen area to fetch a knife with which to break the seal with. That being accomplished quickly he scanned the letter itself. Written in gold scented ink it showed the obvious wealth of it's writer, it's flowing curves and slant indicative of a feminine hand.

" Let me get this straight Lady and Lord Mayfair wish me to attend their Summer Solstice celebration." He spoke aloud as he finished his reading of the letter.

" Apparently they do Captain." Was all Jared would reply.

A suspicious frame of mind began to cloud his thoughts. John after all was no favorite of the nobles, having been promoted over many of their sons. And his lower class social standing did not endear him to them either, it was strictly an old boy's network with them and he was no old boy. And while he did indeed have the odd noble as a friend, especially among his ship's officers the name Mayfair was not among them. Then again his adoptive parents did speak of noble help when they were attempting to secure a place for him at the Royal Naval Academy. While this did nothing to ease his suspicions he saw no harm in accepting. After all a noble would hardly bother inviting him to their house for the sole purpose of mocking and the old vendetta thing had died out long ago.

" You can send Lord and Lady Mayfair my regards and my acceptance of they kind and generous offer. I shall be there with all due haste."

" Most excellent Sir, I shall pass your regards and acceptance onwards."

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In the early morning hours, a woman was riding her favorite horse, a gray Arabian mare. Lady Alayna Renoldi normally was not up this early, but circumstances had her yearning for some air. Last night she had another one of her ‘dreams’ again. Normally she did not dream. At first she just shrugged off the dreams as something normal, but now she was having them every night now for the past two weeks and they were starting to affect her, including her sleeping patterns. Even now Alayna could remember vividly last night’s dream.

She had just finished sowing something out of silk that felt smooth and cool in between her fingers. There was a lot of pride in creating such beauty. The silk to she made would eventually be used for garments that only nobility and royalty could wear. Alas, she wore simpler garments. She rolled up the silk and placed it with the other silken rolls. She went outside to where her father was.

“My father I have finished the silk cloth and am going to wash up before diner.” She replied, speaking in a foreign tongue but completely understanding it.
“Very well my daughter. You have done well.” The elderly man replied.

She went down to the nearby stream and splashed some water onto her face. When she was finished, she looked at her reflection. She had the palest skin with hair as black as night and her eyes were the color of amber. She came from a family of silk weavers and hoped that all that she did was appreciated. Suddenly, the young maiden heard a horse snorting and looked up to see a magnificent stallion and as her eyes travel upward, she saw the person sitting on the beautiful creature. Her eyes were wide open as she gazed right into his eyes. The person sitting on the horse was a warrior, and a handsome one at that. And for a moment, time stood still as the dream faded away.


Alayna was brought back to the present as her horse, Beatrice, tossed her head. Normally Alayna did not show any emotions, but she always showed warmth and kindness to her horses.
“Are you ready to go back girl? Let’s go than.” Her ladyship said as she turned around and head back to her estate.
The estate was big and grand. It looked like the kind of place fairy tales lived in, but the appearance was a façade, and a sad one at that for Alayna’s life was no fairy tale, and if anything it quite the opposite. For now though she would not focus on what had been. Entering the house, Alayna was about to head upstairs when her butler came forward.

“My lady, a messenger has arrived with a letter for you. I have placed him in the library.” The servant said.
“Thank you Gerald.” Alayna replied, a bit irritated by the unexpected call.
She went into the library and saw a man waiting new the entrance. She noticed that while his clothing was finely made, he was no nobile because of how he appeared.

“Good morning sir. What can I do for you this morning?” she asked.
The man bowed and replied, “Good Morning, my lady. I am Jared Forehand styled butler of Magnolia Manor. I have been instructed to give you this letter. After you read it, can you please give me an immediate response?”

Alayna took the letter and opened it. It sounded interesting but she had never been to an event like this before. She did wonder what kind of people would be there and how long it would last. Still, she needed a distraction right now and could probably do that for her. She looked at the names of the people who sent the letter to her. Being nobility herself, she knew about the Mayfairs. She hadn’t been away from home much now since her husband’s death because she now took care of his duties. It was tiring work. So after a few minutes of thinking Alayna gave Jared her answer.
“Yes, I shall accept the invitation. Thank you.” She replied.
The butler bowed and left. Alayna went to her chambers to get ready to leave.

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On the day of the celebration Lord Byron was up in one of the bedrooms designated for the upcoming male guests. He sat on the silk cover of the bed holding his forehead in his broad palms. He was tired and annoyed; the whole manor was full of activity, the maids were bustling over every little detail, the cook forgot to make his favorite meat pie that morning and the servants were no longer only at his disposal. After taking his anger out on the scullery maid when the poor, unfortunate soul crossed his path, Byron Mayfair entered the room on the second floor in search for some peace and quiet.

His wife has been pestering him about his friends, relatives and associates since that day in September when she missed a whole night from home to visit a friend. He had no friends, as for his relatives, well, they could all rot in Hell as far as he was concerned, but Genevieve knew how to be convincing. Images of her beautiful body by the candlelight filled his mind and Byron grinned at the thought. He stood up and went on the hallway fast paced.

“Jared!” He called the young butler as he rushed down the stairs and his booming voice echoed throughout the manor.

“Send carriages to each of our guests who are less favored by fortune!” He was now eager to have them over as soon as possible, especially the feminine part. Because his wife never hired anyone younger than the forty to fifty year old maids she had since a child, Lord Byron had to seek company outside of his home and that was quite bothersome. He agreed to have the unknown guests over for a couple of weeks only when Genevieve told him they were all unmarried. This made him ponder on her motivations for a while as the number of males was equivalent to the girls’, but he wasn’t one to refuse such an entertainment. He loved that part of his wife: that she was fond of games and parties and he loved her vivid imagination although he never took her ramblings about past lives and soul mates seriously.

I’ll let her have her little fun while I’ll be having mine. He thought that nothing could go wrong and that maybe for the first time in the past month he wouldn’t be so bored anymore. He looked at the clock on the wall which was made in green veined marble, with metal mounts, surmounted by a tall winged angel carrying a sword. The dial was ornamented with a circlet of roses and had Arabic numerals. It was 3 o’clock.
He expected everyone to arrive at least an hour after the appointed time if they were fashionably late, but he knew that some of the guests were from the lower class. The Lord expected them to arrive on time or even earlier.

God, I hope they won’t spill on my dress coat!

He went into his own room and called on his personal servant to help him get dressed. This time around he would be prepared for anything and anyone.

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Magnolia Manor was a day’s ride from Alayna’s estate, Ashby Hall. She intended be there on time for Alayna never allowed herself to be late, even fashionably late. She also demanded punctuality of her own house staff. They did not complain because it was one of the few demands she asked of them for she was actually well loved by the staff, especially the children. This situation was ironic considering how London society viewed her. She was known to have a stoic demeanor and earned the nickname, Lady Ice because she often gave people the cold shoulder. Alayna really didn’t care about society’s opinion of her. One of the reasons she was like that in public was because she felt her heart was so broken up inside that she had to freeze it in order to keep it safe. The only people she was nice to was the ones she felt were genuine, which included her staff. When her husband died, she had fired the staff members she knew to be cads and liars and hired those who deserved it more. And all the people she did hire had families they had to support. She made sure all of her staff had adequate places to live and were well paid for their services. This year Alayna had planned on opening her own orphanage thanks to the sells she made when she sold several of her late husband’s houses that he reserved for his ‘affairs’.

Thinking about him now as Alayna could feel her blood boil, but quickly chilled it. Alayna was like many other noblewomen who were forced into an arrange marriage. Lord Edgar Renoldi had been a colleague of her eldest brother, Henry. The only good thing about the man she married was he was a good-looking man and that was it. He was known to be a vicious businessman as well as a philanderer. Unfortunately for Alayna, this had proven to be true because she already heard the rumors before she married him and hoped and prayed they were merely rumors. From the time Henry told her she was going to marry Edgar to the wedding itself, she tried to persuade her brother to not go through with it, even after the announcement was made. She had to go through with it in the end. It was either marriage or becoming a nun. Becoming a nun was out of the question for Alayna. Those two years of marriage were the hardest years of her life. She suffered too much. At least now that time was over.

It was fifteen minutes ‘til 8 pm when Alayna’s carriage arrived at Magnolia Manor. As a groomsman helped her out of the carriage, Alayna looked over the manor’s exterior and surroundings. She never been here before and was impressed. It was a very lovely house and appeared welcoming, but Alayna knew better than anyone that looks could be deceiving. After taking her fill, she approached the entrance where another servant held the door open for her. The interior was just as nice. Alayna removed her gray-blue hat and gloves when someone offered to take them.
“Thank you.” She replied politely.

Soon, Jared the butler appeared and greeted her.
“Good even madam, Lord and Lady Mayfair have been expecting you. This way please.” He said before he led her to a room.
When they got to the door, Jared went and formally introduced her.
“My lord, my lady, Lady Alayna Renoldi is here.” He announced to them.

When Alayna was allowed entrance, she went in and curtseyed.
“Good evening Lord and Lady Mayfair. I hope I am not too early.” She replied with the upmost civility.

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"So, how does it feel to be back home after all these years, Master Duncan?"

"It's na home, mate, it's jes' England... an' dinnae I tell ye ta stop callin' me that?"

The driver cast the soldier seated next to him a raised brow and a quick glance at this remark, noting again the dark green of the jacket he wore, as opposed to the standard army scarlet. The 'Green Jackets', as Riflemen were colloquially known, were about as famed for their eccentricity as they were for their fearsome battle prowess; which would go some way to explain why the scarred Scotsman had seated himself beside him on the carriage's front instead of riding inside like a proper gentleman.

Not that he was complaining, mind you, it was actually quite nice to have a conversation on the road for once.

"Well how does it feel to be back in Europe then, Sir?" he rephrased

"Kinda nice, actually." Duncan replied, absently watching the countryside roll past "It's refreshing to be in a land where the probability of being murdered on the duffie nears zero."

The driver felt his professional composure shatter into a fit of laughter. When he'd first seen the man's hard eyes and scarred face, he immediately assumed him to be a cold-blooded, humourless brute; The kind of man he could see Lord Byron associating with. So to listen to the Scotsman's low-brow humour spoken as casually (and perhaps a little honestly) as though he were discussing the weather was more than a welcome surprise, even if the subject matter was... somewhat improper for use around High Society.

...On the other hand he'd yet to meet a Scotsman in High Society, and perhaps there was a reason why.

-----------

"Well, bugger me..." Was all Duncan could offer as he approached the manor on foot, his single bag slung over the shoulder opposite his medals.

Jack, the Canadian carriage driver who had collected him from Portsmouth, had rode off to the stables, leaving the Green Jacket by the front gate as he requested; realizing that he was early and deciding to take the time he had to spare to have a look around- And though Magnolia Manor might not have been as massive or as luxurious as the lands of other nobles, to a man who'd spent the entirity of his life in some of the filthiest places on three seperate continents, it may as well've been bloody Buckingham Palace.

Finally arriving at the front door, the Rifleman paused for a moment to give the tip of his thumb a lick before running it along the lips of his boots, removing the dust that had clung to the otherwise immaculate shine before giving himself a quick once-over in his reflection in a nearby window, making sure his uniform and medals were in proper order and adjusting the ornate kukri that hung on his belt in place of an officers sword with his free hand. Taking one final breath of the outside air, Duncan entered.

“My lord, my lady, Lady Alayna Renoldi is here.”

Came a voice from further inside, followed soon after by another-

“Good evening Lord and Lady Mayfair. I hope I am not too early.”

As he neared the source of the voices, he saw the man he assumed to be one of the speakers turn to briefly stare at him in mild surprise, before noticing the green coat and colonial tan and catching himself.

"...And it would appear that Captain MacCraigh of the King's Royal Rifle Corps. has arrived safely from Africa."

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It was raining outside, and valian sat cross legged in his little shack. His head was turned to the only window in his home. He stared as the rain feel from the sky and gave nature its due drink of life. He had a letter come to him, but it sat on the table unopened for the time being. His only thoughts where of what to do, but alas he had nothing. No whimsica idea floated to his brain, this was a rare occasion, as he always had some devious plan of action for fun. Valian moved his gaze towards the table and stared at the envelope that was addressed to him he found it bemusing that some one had located him. He had made it nearly impossible for any one to find his wear abouts as he had many enemies these days.

He slowly got up and walked to the table, but he stopped at the edge and stared down at the envelope. He was curious about who sent it, and how they got in his home with out him knowing. Grabbing the letter he opened it and read it quickly. He didn't know the person and had two ideas of what it meant. The first one was a potential job, and the second was a assassination of his life. He thought about it along time before making up his mind. Tossing the letter in to the fire he began grabbing items for a journey. He had what he desired, he walked to the front door and slipped on his sandals and walked outside and began his journey to this manor.

Few days passed as he trekked along the road side with a backpack and his two weapons. One could never be to careful whenever walking the road side alone. He slowly came up to the residents place where the letter was addressed. He made it to the front door and knocked loudly so some one would hear that there was a visitor. Yelling loudly" Valian and I was aged to come here"? He didn't hear anybody replay so he let him self in and looked around and waited.

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" My choices in formal wear seem rather limited. T'would not do to appear in my normal clothes. Such things are fit only for daily wear. And I would look foolish for appearing worse dressed then Lord Mayfair's servants...I suppose my dress uniform is the only real choice I have."

This John muttered to himself as the appointed day and hour drew near. He strode in front of his wardrobe eying the various articles of clothing it held. While most would pass muster on a daily basis, albeit with some scorn from the highborn, they were not at all fit for the formal parties of nobility. So this process of elimination the naval captain was left with what was the only real choice. Taking it out of the wardrobe he laid each piece of it carefully upon his bed, taking great care not to scuff the epaulets as their gold bullion design made them rather prone to such things

And there it lay in all it's glory, from cocked hat to shined foot wear it shouted out it's wearer's rank with gold epaulets. All that was needed to finish it was his dress sword. Where most officers had one custom made to fit their uniform John had one given to him long ago. Upon graduating top of his class the low born cadet now midshipman was presented with a ceremonial cutlass. It was a fine blade crafted of tempered steel that no doubt would serve as a fine battle blade. But with a gilded ivory hilt and tooled leather wrapped handle it had spent it's days as a dress sword. For the cash strapped young man that was John back in those days lacked the funds to purchase another dress sword. And so he went to sea with a less elegant although no less deadly blade.

Pulling out the gold and blue case it rested in from under his bed he laid the blade aside his uniform. And the outfit was complete as it were. Shining with it's gold epaulets,medals,and blue French serge it's out of date cut revealed it's owner's somewhat lacking funds. While expertly made it was not the ultra fashionable cut worn by high born officers.

Taking a deep breath he stepped out of the tweed clothes he wore and into his uniform. Once the mundane aspect of changing clothes were down he belted on his Academy cutlass it's gilded ivory hilt blending in well with the overall style of his dress uniform.

Making sure his uniform,medals,and dress sword were in prefect order the blond naval captain stepped out of his humble house to await the carriage he had been told to expect. Looking back on his home John took it all in. Like his uniform it's style was out of date. Although well built it's plain and unassuming design was apparent in every way. The walls and roof were built to last, not to look pretty. The small garden housed not exotic plants but food stuff. Only the small woods that came with the place made it deserving of the title of manor.

A manor without a name, granted to me by the Admiralty board so that I might have a house for my services rendered to Crown and Country. The Captain thought with a slight frown that was half smile. Then the aloof mask came down, that stiff upper lip that render one unreadable. A trait he picked up during his Academy days.

The carriage arrived exactly one hour after he had dressed himself in his uniform. Greeting the driver with a brief salutation he climbed into the coach. Sitting in an upright manner the Captain allowed his thoughts to wander once more as the driver snapped the reins.

Such thoughts centered mostly around the Mayfairs and why he found himself invited to this little party of theirs. He was no friend of theirs nor did he know any of the children of the Mayfairs. It simply didn't add up in John's mind at all. And that more then anything bothered him. In the navy there were two dangers to be aware of, one being loose cannons, the other not having the whole picture. And somehow his gut told him both dangers were associated with this invitation. Although he could not come up with a logical explanation to rationalize his gut feeling he still trusted it. After all sometimes instincts were better then logic.

But his musings were interrupted by the driver announcing they had reached the seat of the Mayfairs, Magnolia Manor. Stepping out of the coach he made his way to the front door, then stopped to smell the roses so to speak. He took in the manor itself. While not the Royal Palace it held a grandeur that spoke of the highborn family that owned it. A garden with exotic plants and birds, typical over done grandeur balanced out by the buildings size and shape, and a sense of something not quite right but not quite wrong either.

His smelling of the roses over the naval captain made his way to the front door and into the entrance foyer were the style of over done grandeur continued. This time balanced out by mere size. Scanning the interior the blond naval officer attempted to find either a servant to announce his arrival or a clue to as what he should be doing.

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#, as written by lumikb
He had taken the decision to let her attend to the celebration on her own in the end, which was unnatural for a man like him and the way he would usually think situations like this. The lord Gaillard made sure that his daughter had everything she needed with her and handed her a small bottle before leaving towards the carriage.
"My lovely Adelia, remember all that you have been taught ..." he kissed her on the forehead "Take this with you , it's medicine made out of plants , the doctor said it will stop the dreams. “He smiled and escorted her outside.

She nodded to her father, hugging him; she placed the medicine in one of the bags. It didn't really feel like she was going in a visit but like she was moving out of home, the whole experience for Adelia was somehow terrifying since she would be alone with all those strangers. Yet this would be her first time out in society, she was looking forward to it , all her life she knew nothing more than this house. She turned around and took a good look at what has been her prison; maybe this would be the last time that she would see this place.

The carriage was all made out fine scented wood; drapes were hanging from the windows. The inside felt intimate , with leather made seats that were comfortable and soft, she pulled the drapes so she could see outside and wave to her father. Apart from her carriage there four more man on horses that was supposed to guard her way there. That was a little embarrassing for her, they were all pretty old for guarding anything but her father had a rule. He never took any young male servants, even if they were needed. Especially, after what happened to one of his friends, whose daughter ran away with the stable boy. She giggled when she remembered his father face while listening to the man’s story, it was hilarious.

She calmed down, trying to look more of a lady than a little girl. The dress Matilda picked out for her made her feel like some princess, it was all white with pink roses placed tastefully on her shoulders, and she even had one in her hair. Soon she would get there, she felt her eyes closing slowly and felt relaxed like there was no care in the world but she abruptly got back to her senses and grabbed the medicine. Taking a sip of the strange tasting liquid she hoped that her ride there will be without the usual dreams. It would be very awkward to cry in front of everyone.

After several hours, it was already 8: 35 they entered the gates of the Magnolia Mansion, it very much reminded her of her father such a big imposing mansion. A man was standing in front of the door, he was dressed nicely, probably someone who worked here. He presented himself as Jared Forehand, her cheeks went all red and she froze, she greeted him back without making a noise and followed him into the large mansion. Inside stood another man, dressed in a military costume she presumed, who seemed to be a little lost. Jared Forehand went ahead and took care of him two; Adelia greeted the blond man admiring his uniform. Her cheeks were by now so red that you would say she had too much wine on the way. The man was pretty handsome , he wasn't very young of course but had a nice build and a young spirit.

........................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Helmut had bought from France before his return a grand carriage that looked made for royalty. It had golden colors made out of the best wood, it was big, the inside being made out of velvet and leather. He was also dressed in a velvet costume, with purple shirt underneath, a top hat and a cape made out of pure silk. He took enough changes with him to last for month or more, he loved being fashionable no matter what.

It was still pretty early for him, 8:00 so he stayed outside in the garden to enjoy some scented tea and admire his new home. He wanted to get late there , that’s how high society people do it and that's what he wanted.

Soon enough he was now on his way towards the Magnolia Mansion, the road was pretty boring so he fell asleep. He was riding a fierce black stallion in a forest; though those weren't trees around him they just didn't look right. He was being followed by someone, looking down in his arms stood a beautiful woman, her black hair was covering his arms, she had her eyes closed and she looked hurt maybe. He felt angry for some reason, speeding up, and tried waking her up with one hand. She wasn't responding at all, he tried shouting at her and was amazed by the fact that he was using a language that he couldn't understand.

An arrow hit from behind, pain took over his body making him fall from his horse, now on the ground the girl was still on the horses back hanging. He yelled something in that weird tongue, the horse kept running ahead. He could feel someone’s foot on his head; blood had invaded his mouth, as that man kept pushing on his skull he woke up screaming of pain.

"Sir Helmut...Sir Helmut!" The young man that had driven the carriage stopped, he was now sitting beside Helmut."Sir are you feeling alright, you have blood..."
His hand touched his lips; he recognized the taste of blood, what kind of dream was this.

Annoyed he scolded the young man for stopping in the middle of way, sending him back to his work. What had happened? He took out a piece of cloth and cleaned his face.
"Maybe the curse of dead has fallen upon me...” he laughed, sitting back on the leather and touching the velvet walls looking outside.

He wouldn't be there before 10 o'clock.

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John despite his etiquette training at the naval academy was not in the practice of visiting nobles at their estates. This arising from the fact his low birth didn't endear him to the nobility and so he never had the chance to refine his skill at social matters as it were. Being Captain of the HMS Warrior wasn't much for refinement either as fleet reviews were more a test of his capabilities as a commanding officer and tactical skill then ability to bow and act in a socially acceptably manner. As long as the deck wasn't on fire or acrew member wasn't staggering around drunk Captain John Arbuthnot Fisher was golden.

This of course left him at something of a loss as he stood in the foyer of Magnolia Manor in his dress uniform. The servants rushed by him on no doubt important tasks. After a formal occasion such as this didn't prepare itself and the blond naval captain was willing to overlook their rush. Still it was something of an inconvenience for him.

But as even his aloof manner was being sorely tested by the lack of experience in this matter the butler whom had delivered his invitation chose that moment to make his entrance. A more welcome sight there was not for this low born officer. In tow with the well dressed servant was a woman while no doubt young was dressed in a manner befitting her apparent status. Her choice in facial makeup at first puzzled the Captain till he realized that the female noble was in deep blush. A reaction he hadn't seen in a woman in quite some time, while he had been considered handsome in his youth the years of service and salt breeze conspired to weather his features.

Then again she could be blushing for any number of reasons. John mused to himself as he returned her demure greeting with doff of his hat and a deep bow before returning the cocked hat to his head.

"Greetings your Ladyship" He intoned with his aloof and cool manner but with a slight touch of amusement."It is a true pleasure to make your acquittance."

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That afternoon Genevieve Mayfair was arranging a bouquet by one of the large windows on the ground floor. She was practicing the art of ikebana which she learned from her eccentric friend not so long ago, already missing the young widow. Genevieve sent her an invitation as well and hoped that she would join them that night. Of course she had to send out invitations to all of her acquaintances from nobility; there were already ill mannered rumours about the manor and the Mayfair couple as it was and she didn’t need any prejudice on the account of not inviting members of the high class. For her and her master there was no such thing as a “private party”, but she made sure all the other guests except the special ones for which she organized this celebration would leave by morning.

The Lady of the Manor was wearing a turquoise evening dress; its skirt was closely fitted over the hip and flared just above the knees. She preferred the high neck and puffed sleeves for that night because she wanted to give off an air of maturity. Genevieve didn’t know what to expect from her special guests and she secretly hoped that none of them would share Byron’s “unique” traits or his lack of gentleness. The dress was chosen as to make her intimidating if the events demanded such action.

Jared opened the door and let a young blonde girl enter the house. Genevieve caught a glimpse of her pale complexion and silvery blue eyes before the butler introduced their first guest.

“Good evening Lord and Lady Mayfair. I hope I am not too early.”

The woman approached her and took her hands holding them against her chest. She kissed the girl on both cheeks.

"...And, it would appear that Captain MacCraigh of the Rifles has arrived safely from Africa." Jared announced another guest who just entered the manor.

Genevieve looked at the man standing in front of them and held her breath for a moment, not wanting to let her state of surprise show on her face. The hardness of his visage and the wild look in his grey eyes startled her from the beginning and the marks around his left eye told more than anything else about his usual conduct. Yet she felt him as one of her own, for what reason she couldn’t tell. It might have been the aura of heroism around him or the stern look he gave when entering the place instead of being taken aback by its glamour like everyone else.

“Welcome to Magnolia Manor!” she said warmly and invited both of them inside.

“It is my pleasure to meet you, Ms. Renoldi and Captain MacCraigh. Both of you have arrived just in time!”
She looked at the man again and adressed him in an amused tone:
"My, Africa! The strange continent!”

Lord Byron was standing just behind her greeting them with a gesture of the hand. He lead the way towards the next room where they would have time to make proper introductions and even small talk before the celebration started.

On the other side of the manor servants were making final preparations in the ballroom as sounds of shattered plates and creaks were heard coming from the kitchen.


Tea and ginger cakes were served and Lord Byron was cheerful enough to tell a few amusing anecdotes. It wasn’t long enough until other guests arrived and they went in the ballroom where the tables were set and the maids were waiting with their heads bowed.

Usually, the refreshment room was necessary and would have consisted in a table full of tea and coffee, biscuits, cracker-bonbons and sandwiches, but Lady Mayfair decided to host a feast and skip the etiquette which demanded that supper was served in another room. Therefore, the ballroom had long tables laid near the walls and on top of them all kinds of dishes were served: roast mutton, boiled beef and stewed rabbits. In large silver plates there was plum pudding and mince pies and near the crystal glasses filled with champagne you could find baked oysters and savory vegetables.

“I leave you to enjoy yourselves until the celebration’s main event starts. We shall meet again later and everything will be explained to you in detail when everyone will be here.”
By “everyone” she meant the other special guests who had yet to arrive, but she didn’t say anything more. Everything was settled for them to be gathered in another room later that night.
The room was wide and there was enough space for dancing; some couples were already engaged in conversation, other small groups where gathered near the marble columns.


By that time Valian made its way in the manor yelling loudly. A teenage girl rushed over to greet him and almost stumbled in her uniform, a little too long for her size. She had mid length golden locks which were tucked behind the ears, revealing her childish face and bright amber eyes.
“Sir, welcome to Magnolia Manor. Please follow me.” She said after a short bow while holding her cotton dress and showed him the way to the ballroom.

Genevieve brought her one morning from the countryside. She chose to spend time riding to the nearby village instead of sleeping until late afternoon as her husband usually did and found the girl near the road, playing in the mud. Because she liked her innocent look, Genevieve asked where she lived and after a short talk with her parents which involved nothing more than a question and two gold coins, the Lady of Magnolia Manor got herself a new maid.

The 14 year old girl smiled to Valian and let him enjoy the ball than she went by the servants’ side waiting patiently for new dispositions.

“I don’t think we’ve been introduced” Genevieve told him and offered her hand. She was truly amazed by his unique oriental attire and her curiosity made her forget about stern manners for a moment.
“Where exactly do you come from?” she asked sounding almost impolite, but she knew this was something she could afford. He was not part of nobility; that she was certain of.
What she couldn’t understand was why his clothes war full of dirt and why he carried two weapons with him. They were rather strange as well.

I must teach that girl not to let any more weaponry in the ballroom, she thought amused. As it seemed, the new maid wasn’t yet ready to be of service.

As she was waiting for his reply, Jared opened the door and introduced
“Adelia Chevalier, daughter of Lord Gaillard!” and “Captain Arbuthnot Fisher, of Her Majesty's Royal Navy.”

Now this was a name she recognized. She smiled to the young girl and waited for her to approach, as she couldn’t leave Valian without ending the conversation first.

She also bowed her head with grace towards the man that entered with her. She looked at him interested, refraining herself from gazing at his uniform. She had many friends and attended many parties, but this was the first time she had seen an officer of the navy. John Fisher was mannered and looked like a man of honour and Genevieve couldn’t help but compare the two captains: a fierce looking Scotsman and a presentable gentleman had many things in contrast.

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Clarice hated long rides, especially boring ones. There was nothing to entertain her, but the second she looked out the window her eyes became preoccupied with viewing Magnolia Manor which stretched out before her eyes.

It was gorgeous. Flowers of every color blossomed in the meadows beside it and the house was, well, indescribable. Clarice had though her home was nice, but this was the epitome of immaculate. Vibrant green grass extended the length of the lawn and the columns around the house were illuminated by the setting sun.

I'm late, oh goodness. If there was one thing Clarice hated it was people who never showed up on time, and right about now she wasn't being very cordial and time smart. For the trip she had boughten a whole new wardrobe, full of purples and dark blues and each dress very different from the next. She ran her hands down the forest green corset in an attempt to flatten the invisible wrinkles that were so prevalent to her. The black lace lining her somewhat risqué dress framed her bust perfectly, while her silky hair cascaded down her back in spiraling curls.

The carriage stopped and one of the men dressed in a fancy black suit opened the door, offering his hand to her. She ignored it and stepped down the stairs with ease. In the sun her dress changed hues slightly. The dark green silk had a metallic color to it and clung to her every flawless curve and trumpeted out at her mid hip. Her lightly tanned skin on her bare shoulders (gasp) against the dark fabric allowed for a pleasant contrast that the men in the house would probably be the first to notice. Clarice smirked at the thought.

With each step her hips swung teasingly back and forth, once to the door she raised her soft hand and knocked twice, the door swinging open widely, as Jared, the man who had delivered her letter, stood in the entrance way a pleasant smile gracing his features.

"I do hope I am not late for the party." Clarice smiled sweetly to the man, he really nice defiantly a brotherly type.

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HHe watched as some girl came running to him. He started laughing as she almost laughed, and he spoke gently" a dress that was a little shorter would fit you nicely". He followed her to where very one else was and smiled as a moment greeted him" ah well I roam around, currently I reside in china. It is beautiful and majestic". He searched the room with his blue eyes and had to adjust the silver hair from covering his sight of line. He was not used to glamor and just felt out of place here. " well im the odd one out hers, every one seems fancy and im a lonely travelling man". He crossed his arms and eyes the food, deciding it was best to congregate near more fruitful area he made his way to the banquet.


He was juggling four apples, he smiles as he did this because so far all he heated was others bragging about materlistic items. He didn't know how to act in social gathering as he never attended parties ever. He must look like a entertainment for all the rich people here. What a sad existence being rich, able to do what ever you want with little effort. He valued working hard for what he wanted.

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Alayna’s first impression of Lady Genevieve Mayfair was a good one. The woman appeared to be gentile and nice. She looked briefly at the lord of the manor and her gut instinct told her he was a rogue or at least appeared to be. Alayna never fully judged someone when she first met them. She turned when a military man came through the door. The man had the appearance of a warrior. Alayna never found scars to be unsightly on anyone. One of her few siblings that she did get along with were her second eldest brother Martin. He joined the British navy when he was old enough to and unlike most noblemen; he did his best to work his way up through the ranks through hard work and not by his family name. Recently though his ship was attacked by pirates in the Caribbean and he was injured. The other day Alayna received word he was safe at home with his loving with who was now tending his injuries. Now there was a solid marriage, Alayna thought. Martin had been scarred because of a blast on his ship yet his wife still loved him.

Not long after that they went into the ballroom where more people showed up. Alayna had seen bigger ballrooms, but this one was very lovely and elegant. As the dancing started, Alayna was in no hurry to get involve with such entertainment. Oh, Alayna could dance all right, it’s just that if any man had the nerve to come up to her, usually she’d give them that icy look that got gave her the reputation that she had. Still a part of her wished she wasn’t this way in public. Alayna could remember a time when she would sneak downstairs at one of her father’s parties and take a peak, even when she wasn’t supposed to. Even after her father died she still was youthful and naïve enough to enjoy small parties she was allowed to go to. Alayna was standing near the entrance to the ball room when two more people were announced. One of whom Alayna recognized the last name, that of Chevalier. However, she’d never seen this girl before, but she definitely had Chevalier physical features. And the man who came in, Alayna knew she was looking at an officer of high ranking.


As Alayna watched people dance, she turned and saw something she never seen before. A man dressed in strange clothes was through balls in the air in a circle. Who was this man? Was he a servant? He was certainly amusing. Alayna grinned a bit at the sight before deciding to get something to drink.

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Byron Mayfair spent the whole morning cooped up in his bedroom because he couldn’t decide what to wear. It was the first time in the past months when he was excited about a ball – their ball – and he wanted to look at his best when the guests arrived just because he played his card on the first impressions.

One of the servants, an old man with a weary smile on his face, was helping him get dressed. For an unknown reason every maid and servant looked to him as if they lost their vigor or cheerfulness and he often pondered if they were fed enough. As far as he knew, his wife paid them more than enough and still they weren’t pleased. Of course it never occurred to him that this was their natural behavior only in his presence.

Lord Byron decided upon a blackish blue suit for the party. The trousers fit his athletic legs perfectly and the color of the silk shirt matched his eyes and his pale complexion. The garters on his sleeves allowed him to adjust the length of the sleeve so the cuff showed correctly at the wrist of his jacket. He couldn’t settle for wool stockings and chose silk ones instead.

Byron also had two walking sticks with an ornate head. They were both hollowed out, one to hide a blade, the other to hide a vial of perfume. He chose the latter for tonight and a blue ribbon for his long black hair.
In his pocket he carried a deck of playing cards and an engraved token entitling him to a night in a popular brothel. Pleased with his looks, he gave the old servant a vigorous pat on the back and stepped out of the room in order to seek his wife.

The first to arrive were Alayna and Captain MacCraigh. After offering the man a cigar, he invited them in the tea room and got to know them a little better. The girl looked rather young for her age and Byron couldn’t have known she was married before and that she was now a widow. His wife held all the information on their guests and he preferred it that way.

“I see you’re still holding onto that tan” he said ironically when he heard that Duncan arrived from Africa.
“May I inquire who was your superior and where were you appointed? I’ve been to Cape Colony and I must say those were some nasty looking natives. Thank Providence I had to deal more with the boers than with the savages, at least the Dutch were civilized enough to handle a rifle.”
He would have shown him his scars made by zulu spears if the setting was appropriate, but they were in the ladies’ presence. Byron liked the Scotsman’s strong build and rugged face and after recognizing the Victoria Cross on his shoulder he even thought about keeping him around for the evening.

The time of the celebration was upon them and they went into the ballroom. He carefully looked over to the table were the drinks were to see if anything was missing. Wine, Madeira and sherry to the left and lemonade and root beer to the right. It was exactly as he wanted, the Swedish buffet being still a rarity in Great Britain even amongst the aristocracy.
The musicians started to play and by the time his wife welcomed the other guests, he had the chance to examine everyone from afar. He was by then certain that it was almost impossible for him to know boredom from that night on at least for a couple of days.

Jared introduced the last lady from the special guests before going back to take everyone’s luggage and set it in their designated rooms. The Lord of the Manor saw the look on his butler’s face when he looked at Genevieve before leaving the room and a grimace crossed his face.
He caught the name “Phaedra” before he turned around to see a voluptuous young lady dressed in a corset dress which revealed her ripened bust. It was scandalous how she chose to attend his party and her indecency shocked even him - one who was accustomed to all kinds of women and had seen many less clothed.
He smirked and went over to her not bothering to look at the young boy wearing an exotic outfit and showing circus tricks by the table.

If he had a beaver top hat he would’ve taken it off his head in front of her, but since he liked to boast with his long hair, he wore none.

"Will you honor me with your hand for a quadrille?" he asked Clarice and took her hand kissing the air above it as etiquette demanded. He walked beside her and took the other hand in his as to lead the way to the dance floor. Without any warning, he smoothly brushed his hand across her waist and down on her back touching briefly where no gentleman would ever dare to.
Usually he wouldn’t show such coarse manner, but there was something about her that made him act so fervently.

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Clarice allowed to be taken to the dance floor by a man she assumed to be Lord Mayfair, his hand stroked her quite indecently. The music in the hall was pleasant, its cheery tunes danced through the light air and bounced off the high ceilings for a nice acoustic affect. The man held both of her hands waiting for her to dance.

"Will you honor me with your hand for a quadrille?" he asked Clarice and took her hand kissing the air above it as etiquette demanded. He walked beside her and took the other hand in his as to lead the way to the dance floor.

"Well, it seems as if you have left me no choice." Her voice purred coaxingly; Clarice had never thought it would be this easy to snag a man, in fact she was fairly sure he was the kind that was eager as she was. Though, to entertain her she would not give in right away, instead she would fiddle with him, play him like a stringed instrument. Her icy eyes flickered over Lady Mayfair, noting to herself that she was quite an elegant woman, then back to Lord Bryon, taking in his somewhat gruff appearance.

"I certainly do not want to upset the ever so handsome Lord who invited me to this ravishing party." The words fell off of her lips like cold cream on a hot summers day. "Though, I could see the Lady becoming quite insulted with you dancing beside the likes of me."

Honestly, Clarice could care less about what Lady Mayfair thought, in fact, she did not care at all what she assumed. Though, out of common courtesy she would not do anything to upset her highness, at least not tonight. Unless of course Lord Bryon took advantage of her, but that would be terrible, or not. Clarice smirked slightly her perfect white teeth showed briefly.

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#, as written by lumikb
“Adelia Chevalier, daughter of Lord Gaillard!” and “Captain Arbuthnot Fisher, of Her Majesty's Royal Navy.” greeted the elegant lady upfront.
Adelia replied through a curtsey as etiquette asked of her and smiled towards the astonishing lady. She looked mature, fresh and wild in some sort of way that made the young girl smile; she had never seen someone with such red hair so it was hard for her not to stare at it. Then again she had been born in a noble family so she straighten her back making sure she had the right pose a young lady should and curtsey for the Captain as well realizing her mistake. Her first ball and she has already did two big mistakes , her father would have certainly been upset with her if he knew, a lady should never show her emotions like that and second not greeting a person properly.


She then greeted the other man standing beside the Lady Mayfair, he was really odd dressed yet he looked friendly except for those two big weapons. He was probably lower class; the way he was acting gave him away. Why would a family of nobles invite at a ball such variety of people? She wondered if her father had any idea about all this but then she guessed he didn't know if he had allowed her to participate. Delia didn't care much about class; people were people no matter how much money they had. It seemed being here with the Lady Mayfair had given her more self control, the presence of the strangers surrounding her didn't make her feel so uneasy.

She took the time to look around the ballroom , that wasn't really ladylike of her but everybody else was talking now so she wasn't acting rude. A woman with silver hair caught her interest, she looked like a Fay with those blue eyes yet she seemed so cold and reserved. It seemed she was also looking towards them, in a more polite way than Adelia since she was still young and very clumsy concerning social rules. Realizing this, she immediately looked the other way where she caught a glimpse of a couple dancing. The man had long black hair, looking good enough to be Lord Mayfair but if that was the case what was he doing on the dance floor with that other lady. The woman, had an evil smile on her face or so it seemed to Adelia , and was intently starring to Lady Mayfair yet you couldn't compare the two as the differences where clear to see.

Lady Mayfair had the look and act of a noble while the blond haired harpy had just broken four rules of royal etiquette. Adelia noticed the gestures between the two and once again she blushed, her face red. Now that was something she never had the chance to see before, she thought that was what Matilda was talking about at home, and she called it “improper”. She just smiled at the thought, keeping her pose and listening to the discussion.

She didn't have a chaperone; Lady Mayfair could be, so as a young unmarried woman she couldn't start a conversation with a man. So she chose to wait until being addressed, that medicine she took earlier made her feel a little dizzy. After this event, she will have to marry to whomever her father thinks to have the bigger inheritage and she could say goodbye to whatever had been left of her freedom. Adelia looked at floor , she felt sad at the thought that she won’t have time to find that man. Any of the gentlemen here could be him , after all she didn't know his face not even how his voice sounded like.
"Just a dream.." she slowly whispered , thinking out loud.
......................................................................................................................................................................................................................
Soon Helmut would join the others at the mansion; he was going to make a grand entrance.

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Alayna's eyes shot at the blonde who came through the door. Her dress was revealing, but not so much at it was inappropriate. Still, Alayna could tell this woman loved getting attention? And almost every male was looking her way, wether they were unattached or not. Well, Alayna decided to ignore her but when Lord Mayfair started dancing with the woman, she couldn’t look away. All this time she didn’t show any outward reaction, except her eyes appeared to be the color of a stormy sky now. Alayna could not say she was surprised by Lord Byron’s actions though. That woman could tempt a saint and Alayna already sensed that Lord Byron was a rogue. It reminded her of her late husband’s infidelity. When Alayna found out about Edgar’s affairs she was very distraught and angry. When that happened, her shattered heart became frozen. She remembered being so angry that she broke an antique vase and shut herself in her own private quarters, crying all day. The humiliation and the pain that she felt caused her a very deep ache in her stomach and she had this feeling of déjà vu. That night she had her worse dream yet.

“Welcome home, my lady. You’re home early.” Said a man dressed in a simple white toga.
“Yes I know, but my visit to my sister was worth it. She had a son. They’re naming him Dareious.” The lady said who was wearing a lovely female toga that was the color of deep rose.
She had another reason for coming home early too and couldn’t wait to tell her husband. She headed inside her home, eager to see her husband. She made sure her golden blonde hair was in place, but it wasn’t perfect because a few strands of her hair had escaped. The lady nearly raced up to her and her husband’s chambers.

“Darling, I am home. I have some wonderful-“ the lady said as she opened door and stopped in midsentence.
There in her bed was her husband and another woman. The husband looked just as shocked.
“Penelope . . .” her husband said.
Penelope rushed out the room as her husband got out of the bed to put something on. She couldn’t believe it. Her husband was sleeping with another woman and in their bed! She was so shocked and hurt that in her rush she tripped down the stairs and fell forward. She screamed as she fell and hit her neck on something in her flight. Something snapped and she felt herself fading. The last thing she knew before dying was seeing her husband’s face, crying. After that, her world went black.


Alayna was jarred out of her reverie when she looked to see the young lady named Adelia Cavalier, who was looking at Lord Byron and the blonde. Alayna was close enough to see Ms. Cavalier blush. The poor girl was obviously an innocent, almost the total opposite what Alayna was. She observed the young debutante for awhile and could tell by her mannerisms that she hadn’t got out much. She noticed how many of the young bucks at the party were watching her too. The girl needed a keeper. Not wanting her to fall prey to the wolves of this party, Alayna approached her.

“Good evening, how are you fairing this night?” she asked the young lady.

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John, naval captain that he was could tell the instant the rather under dressed young lady entered that she was not a subscriber to any sort of moral code. He had seen her sort through out his life time, usually courting his fellow high born officers. They were all greed and desire for power, usually beautiful but secretly cold, even downright heartless at times. And while her mere presence offended his code of ethics nothing showed upon his aloof face.

But such matters were best left alone. For as the old saying goes while speaking was a gift sometimes silence was the best course. After all she was a guest, lacking in morals or not. Instead the Captain waited patiently as Lady Mayfair spoke polite greetings and small talk to Lady Chevalier as befitted both their high born status. As their conversation finished Lady Mayfair greeted him by way of introducing him to the Chevalier female. John for his part went into a slight bow.

As she went on to explain their lack of relationship between his adoptive parents whom name he bore and themselves he could only think why then did he find himself here. But she brushed aside the question in his face saying all would be explained in due time.

After being greeted by Lady Mayfair and returning her toast with one of his own before she left them, he decided to partake of the Mayfair's generosity as invited.

Were etiquette demand he not stare at a married woman, a noble no less the blond captain did endeavor to study her casually. As if do nothing more then passing his eyes over the striking lady in the course of studying the ballroom and the tables laden with the evening's repast. Taking up the proffered glass of champagne he slowly sipped it more out of a sense of propriety then anything else as he did not care for the sparkling white wine favored by the nobility. A life time at sea saw him favor the honest rum beloved of the Jack Tars.

Lady Mayfair in her turquoise evening dress radiated an aura of maturity and control. And it along with her mannerisms spoke of a careful due given to the rigors of etiquette. The same, sad to say, could not be said of her husband Lord Mayfair. His obviously wandering eye settled on the harlot that found herself amongst her moral betters. And without so much as a by your leave openly flirted with her, a gesture which was returned in kind by the trumped up alley cat.

I suppose a noble birth does not always make a man noble it seems. John thought to himself champagne glass in hand. Looking nothing more then a Naval Captain enjoying the party he found himself part of. His uniform while attracting the gazes of the curious with it's medals only seemed to add to his mental discomfort.

He was the oldest here by what was most likely a good margin. And that point was hammered home by the fresh faced young woman who had been announced before him, Lady Chevalier, whom now found herself being greeted by a woman who gave off a cold aura. But he while not the youngest or even the richest John was a Naval Captain, a post many aspired to but few ever truly reached. And he didn't have family or wealth to pave the way.

With that mental ego boost the Captain drank the last sip of his champagne and put the empty glass in it's proper place. And tilting his head slightly to both Lady Chevalier and the woman who was no doubt another noble he went back to his scanning of the ballroom and it's guests.

A man whom it seemed had not heard of the miracles of soap or a sense of propriety was juggling what appeared to be four apples. Dressed in travel stained clothes that would have perhaps pass muster in a tavern in the Orient and armed with two outlandish weapons he appeared more the evening's entertainment then a guest. But even the gypsies that made their living traveling in sideshows at the very least kept their clothes and bodies clean. Shaking his head clear of such thoughts John chided himself mentally for who was he to comment on such things. He after all was the son of a whore.

The other guest to catch his eye was like him a servant of Her Majesty Queen Victoria. A Scotsman, his green jacketed uniform marked him as a Rifleman. Perhaps with the colonial forces, but that was sheer guess work on the Captain's part. Although the deep tan uncommon to those that lived in the northern latitudes of Europe such as Scotland suggested at least some time spent under a harsh sun in a foreign land. And the kukri hung in place of a dress sword, a dagger favored in India, also suggested it.

A rather odd set of guests for a high society ball. He thought to himself with only a touch of amusement breaking through the cool facade of his face.

Etiquette suggested to John that he mingle and make small talk with the other guests. But as most were in conversation with others he decided to wait patiently. After all one did not simply barge in the middle of a conversation between other people.

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“Ms. Chevalier, it is my honor and my utmost pleasure to welcome you into my home.” Genevieve addressed Adelia with warmth. “Your father, Lord Gaillard has been a loyal and kind friend to my family since I was about your age. Did you know that he has done many humanitarian acts along with my late father?” She laughed softly and her eyes filled with light when she remembered her parents. When she looked again in Adelia’s eyes there was kindness on her face.

“I am sorry your father couldn’t attend tonight, but I am also grateful for letting you stay at Magnolia. I know how caring and attentive he is to you, I almost had to beg to have you here.” She laughed again and looked at the blonde Captain who waited patiently for her to finish speaking.

“Adelia, let me introduce you to our proud Captain of the Royal Navy, Sir John Fisher. He has our sincerest gratitude for accepting our invitation. I know that I and Lord Mayfair have little connection with the Fisher family and I incline to believe that this is the first time you heard our names.” John’s questioning expression was more than an agreement that things were as told.
“Don not burden yourself with worry, everything shall be explained in due time. By then it is my utmost desire that you enjoy our humble celebration with joy. After all, the Solstice, when the Sun reaches its highest position in the sky, it’s a celebration of fertility and rebirth.”

With a graceful gesture of the hand Genevieve summoned one of the servants who rushed over and offered each a glass of champagne.
“I take it that this is your first drink, young Adelia.” The Lady of the Manor spoke encouraging and raised her glass for toasting.
“To our Summer Solstice and to love!” she declared.

The moment the golden liquid passed through her moist lips and reached her core, Genevieve’s eyes closed rapidly. She saw her husband’s lips kissing passionately a delicate white shoulder and his long hair flowing beside him, brushing softly against the woman’s neck. It wasn’t her neck, nor her shoulder and Genevieve trembled at the thought.
A hoarse voice from behind made her open her eyes and Genevieve saw a man and a woman, raising their glass.

“To love, Lady Mayfair! We are also honored to take part in your celebration.” The piercing voice belonged to a middle-aged woman dressed in a black velvet dress.

“Might I add that Lord Byron certainly knows how to animate a party!” She said and looked towards the dance floor. Genevieve saw her husband dancing all fired up with a wasp-waisted woman. She drew a lot of a attention not only by what she was wearing, but also through the way she was dancing, like there was no one else in the room except for herself and her partner. The other guests had their eyes on the dancing couple; some where whispering with ill intent, others – mostly gentlemen- were smiling in encouragement as Lord Byron had taken over the marble dance floor.
As Genevieve had time to find out in the last three years, Byron was a marvelous dancer, but his slothful nature got the most of him. Seeing him dance – and a lively quadrille for that matter! – was a rare occasion. She looked intrigued at the woman he was with and an ironic smile showed on her visage.

“Yes, my husband is quite the charmer!” Genevieve replied amused.

In truth, seeing Byron holding another woman was like a burning needle in her chest and her dignity took a deep blow as well. There were times when he had been unfaithful to her and although he never did much to hide it, at least he was courteous enough to not let it show in society. Behaving this way at her own event in front of all her friends was painful and demeaning mostly for her. Genevieve would not forget this easily. She was even gladder that the strange guests accepted her invitation, at least now there was something she could do for their love instead of just behaving like everything was alright.

As if the Heavens smiled upon her, Jared entered the room dressed in formal black attire, his hair brushed perfectly on the back of his head showing more of his handsome face than before. Behind him was Emma Chambers dressed in one of her most eccentric outfits, a pink dress with blue roses on the shoulders and chest that had the image of a phoenix painted on the skirt.
Genevieve felt happiness flowing in her body and went towards them excusing herself in front of the group just before Alayna greeted the young Adelia.

(This takes place before Zodia's and Derek's post, if it's too confusing tell me and I'll edit :P)

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"I certainly do not want to upset the ever so handsome Lord who invited me to this ravishing party. Though, I could see the Lady becoming quite insulted with you dancing beside the likes of me."

He chose not to answer with words, but with a grin which meant to say “Lady Mayfair can take more than that before feeling insulted” and lead her to the dance floor. Byron was moving smoothly; advanced four steps, retired the same, repeated the movement. He was always on Clarice’s right side and after they swapped partners, returning one in front of each other, they joined hands. This time he smiled widely at her and winked with confidence. That was the only time they actually touched one another, yet everyone was whispering on their account. Byron thought that controversy suited him and even liked the little scandal he started. After all, how often does one get the chance to have a little fun at these formal parties? As far as he was concerned, a good tavern would have been better. The dance was soon over and by the time everyone returned to their boring, petty conversations, the Lord offered his blonde guest a drink.

“I think it takes a great amount of confidence to attend my party in such a unique dress, Ms. Phaedra. Were you not so young, it would have been a terrible mistake from your part, but I believe it suits you well.”

Byron was a straightforward man and some even dared to judge him as ill-mannered because of his brutal honesty. Nonetheless, this was exactly the kind of attitude which made almost any kind of lady fall for him. The noble wives were so sick and tired of their husband’s unnatural conduct and almost feminine gestures, that they became grateful for every little thing that was remotely different. A brief touch on their arm at the right moment and they threw themselves at his feet as soon as they had the chance. And Lord Byron made sure he offered that chance as often as possible.

It took him a lot of time and effort to learn that most of the women from high society had a twisted inclination towards vulgarity. They did not behave as such of course, but they were more than willingly to accept it from others; With one hand he shyly showed them Jupiter on the night sky while with the other he caressed their neckline and they always felt grateful for that instead of slapping him in the face. If he told any kind of naughty anecdotes in the presence of his friends, they were always eager to hear it from afar. It was that kind of subtle gestures that made him believe all women had the same desires as men did, just that they didn’t want to admit it. In most cases they weren’t allowed to. He was one of the few who would break that barrier and on this he prided himself greatly.

The only thing that kept Lord Byron from making an even greater spectacle out of him was the fact that Genevieve had been waiting for this celebration for a long time and he did not want it to end fast. A real scandal would have forced everyone to leave and not attend to any of their parties or invited them to one for at least a year. That lack of social activity wasn’t something he would enjoy and so he excused himself in front of Clarice and left towards the other end of the room with the strong confidence that they would meet again later.
While searching for his wife Byron came across Captain Fisher and he was surprised to see the man merely standing somewhere near the entrance examining the other guests. His analytical gaze intrigued him so he decided to greet him.
“Enjoying our party, Sir Fisher, or is there too much dancing and too little action?” he asked amused.
“I suppose you had enough of the President’s pirates by now” he continued referring to the French corsairs.

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The naval captain stood near the entrance of the ballroom his studying of the room and it's guests absorbing most of his thoughts. This after all was more of a young man's party then was accustomed to the 43 year old captain. And the obvious tensions between Lady and Lord Mayfair were making John somewhat uneasy. It was one thing for such matters to happen behind closed doors. But Lord Mayfair's antics with the somewhat under dressed blonde woman were distasteful,happening as they did openly amongst his gathered guests. The man obviously had no sense of decency, flaunting his desire so openly. And his disregard for his marriage vows simply chafed his sense of honor. If dueling were not out of official favor the captain would have most likely challenged this Lord so unworthy of his noble title. But as with some many distasteful things John hid it underneath his aloof and cool facade. After all he was a guest, and furthermore no actual insult had been thrown his way. A chafed sense of honor was a poor excuse to resort to such means. There was also social standing to consider, even in the days of dueling one did not duel their social inferiors. And John was miles below Lord Mayfair's apparent social status.

The matter was brought to head however as Lord Mayfair came over to greet him. His words were nothing more the cool greetings of a Lord to a guest. But it felt like a slap in the face to this honor bound naval captain. However his aloof manner was nothing more then a return of that coolly given greeting.

" The party is rather lively even given the Dance your Lordship. I simply offer my apologies for not partaking of the dancing. I merely claim age and the wounds of service.." John said in his calm and collected way. But his lithe and slender frame spoke of great agility and endurance while his upright stance made a mockery of the claiming of cripplingly wounds. It was a bold face lie indeed but John didn't think speaking the real reason for his distaste of the dancing would not be in good taste, given his status as a guest. " As for the French and their trumped up pirates I have indeed had enough. But her Majesty is our rightful ruler and to surrender to such things is unthinkable. We are after all British, and Britannia calls out in her hour of need. I for one shall answer her." A somewhat tongue in cheek challenge of the Lord it felt to John a refreshing change of pace from the cool and polite manner he usually adopted around the nobility.

" But the French aside I must compliment your decor. It is quite the striking balance of grandeur and old world simplicity." John added, always a good idea to finish off with a compliment he thought to himself. After all he was a guest.

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Duncan, for his part, managed to keep his mouth firmly closed as Lady Mayfair led the way to the ballroom, a servant relieving him of his bag along the way. He had of course noticed how she'd initially stiffened at the sight of him, having been conditioned to notice small details, but took no offense to it; he'd recieved similar reactions from many women before, and he'd recieve it from many more still before he met his end. He'd been expecting to be welcomed by some fat old Englishwoman with an ungodly amount of money and some funny ideas about the army, so when he was greeted by the young, extremely very very not ugly Genevieve, who spoke to him in a happy, almost amused voice, the Captain was caught a bit off-guard.

...Nevermind the great deal of effort it took not to let his jaw strike the floor at the after looking at her.

As she left the guests to their own devices, Duncan found himself making small-talk with Lord Mayfair for a few moments before the man went to greet a noble woman as she entered, he himself quietly heading over to the drink table. As he reached for a glass, a few hushed murmers and whispers from the other guests caught his attention and his eyes flicked upwards again, curious as to the commotion.

Now, Duncan was hardly a gentleman. In fact, on some days, he felt that the only thing seperating him from the savages he fought was that he had a uniform, but he was fairly certain that whereever Lord Byron's hand just went, it was not in the adhereance to any code of gentlemanly conduct. His eyes flicked back to Lady Mayfair as she called a toast to, of all things, Love. Seemingly undisturbed as she watched her husband dancing with another woman.

But Duncan, as previously mentioned, was conditioned to notice small details.

Like how Genevieve had slammed her eyes shut during the toast, how she shivered slightly when she thought no one was looking and how her smile didn't fully reach the edges of her mouth. He shook his head sadly, realizing she was putting on a brave face to keep up appearances around her guests and he ruefully mused that had the hostess been anything like his mother, she'd have knocked her husband's pretty white teeth out by now with her bare hands. As he plucked up a glass of champagne and made his way through the party to find somewhere quiet he could stand unassumingly and not make an arse of himself, a small chuckle escaped his lips, remembering the fiery redhead that had raised him.

He'd honestly considered giving the entire party a miss. To go back to Glasgow instead to look for his family; but honestly what would happen if he found them? He'd left without a word thirteen years ago, they probably, and quite reasonably, assumed he was dead, it didn't seem right to just stroll into their lives again after all these years- and he didn't dare bring that pain upon them.

It was one of those times that the Scotsman truly understood the hilarity of his existence.

That the only thing he had left was the Army, and that in time, he would lose that too.

Pushing that dark thought to the back of his mind, Duncan found a suitable position where he would not be accosted by many highborn party-goers or make a fool of himself and his hosts with his inexperience in dealing with said party-goers. Stopping and leaning against the wall comfortably, he raised the glass of champagne to his lips.

"Aye, Miss Mayfair, tae love." The Captain mused to himself, raising his glass slightly and unenthusiastically before emptying the entirity of it's contents down his throat "...And may God save us all from the lunacy of it."