(1310-12-21) Elua: Midwinter Ball
Summary: The Midwinter Ball at the Royal Palace in Elua
RL Date: Sat Jan 19, 2019
Related: Longest Night in Elua
ailene armandine augustin charlene cyriel delphine desarae drake farah rajiya thibault 

Features among others NPC Quintien de Morhban

Royal Palace — City of Elua

An evening so highly anticipated can easily fail to meet expectations, and moreover, surpass them. Tonight at the Royal Palace, all efforts have been taken to make this quite the memorable occasion. Chains of silver have been suspended from the ceiling, holding other chains that are sporting numerous thin cones of polished glass in various sizes, creating the impression of icicle garlands bound to catch and reflect the light of candles and oil lamps. Large mirrors in gilded frames at the walls enhance the effect even further, whilst creating the illusion of an endless and ever repetitive space within a gilded realm.

Of course, there are such courtly insignia as the large tapestry with the swan on a field of blue, the coat of arms of House Courcel, governing the wall at the far side of the ballroom in all its majesty; the numerous attendants in Courcel livery standing at the ready to serve joie and other beverages, if requested; the obvious grandeur, of a ballroom that sports exquisite frescoes and paintings at the ceiling, where one can find among others a depiction of the late Queen Ysandre de la Courcel.

A pair of elegantly curved staircases leads up to a gallery, from where a few courtiers can be seen overlooking the spectacle unfolding below, of ladies and lords filtering into the hall, clad in expensive costumes and dresses that are complemented by matching masks of all shapes and kinds.

Finest musicians have been hired to provide music for this occasion, and indeed, these musicians show the perfect shapes and features that suggest some Eglantines may be among them — as if to rival the other grand fête that is happening at the same time on Mont Nuit. But yet, these two festivities could not be more different. Whereas the feast at Cereus House celebrates Naamah and the way of life of Her Servants, the Midwinter Ball is where nobles go to see and be seen, to delve into the magic of political intrigue — and to share the same space with the highest ranking d'Angelines.

The Ducs and Duchesses of all the d'Angeline provinces are in attendance, and maybe they use these moments before the grand entrance of King and Queen for some interactions of their own, when political and even playful exchanges are had with their peers in rank. And so Armandine Mereliot strolls into the ballroom with a confident stride, her chin lifted in that more relaxed sort of pride that behooves the Lady of Marsilikos. Honey blonde hair has been braided in part, to create a natural hairnet with blue glass beads glittering upon her shimmering tresses. Her head piece shows the likeness of a golden fish, and likewise, her dress has been designed to sport a multitude of shimmering scales, the cut of the gown so that it pronounces her slender built and yet feminine shape. Beside her walks Charlène Morhban de Fhirze, resplendent in her courtly gown of coral red. Her features are in part concealed by a matching domino mask, enhanced with ornamental lines of silver to create captivating reflections. Dark is the hair, that falls in long proud waves down her back, the dress cut out far enough at the back to show the beauty of her shoulder blades.

Both ladies are announced accordingly to courtly custom by the herald upon their entrance. "Lady Armandine Mereliot, Duchesse of Eisande. Lady Charlène Morhban de Fhirze, Dowager Marquise de Fhirze." And then after a moment, "Lady Desarae Mereliot, heiress to the Marquisate de Chavaise." As the niece to the duchesse follows in their wake and makes her entrance together with them.

Desarae walks a good few paces behind Armandine and Charlène. Her carriage is proud and upright, and it's a first public glimpse of the young woman that's been closeted so quietly in mourning since the death of her father. She wears a dark purple, full-skirted confection for the ball, the dress a mixture of textures that wears the woman well. Around her throat she wears a three-row choker of luminous, precisely-matched black pearls, fastened with a silver clasp set with two brilliantly glittering fishes. The sigil of House Mereliot, crafted in diamonds. Her hair is swept up into an elegant chignon, and the Chavaise diamond tiara sparkles where nestled into her locks. As is customary, she wears a mask to conceal her features, though her identity would be instantly known as her name is announced. She gives dip of her chin in the Herald's direction, then proceeds to continue on into the ballroom, eyes darting this way and that about the room, looking for faces with which she's familiar.

Delphine is next to arrive, and by Elua, this lady has certainly chosen a costume that will make her stand out. Feathery is the mask that she wears, feathers that have been dyed a fiery orange and yellow. Her dress is of similar color, the bodice bound tightly as to pronounce a slender waist. Long sleeves start slightly below the shoulders, and flare out at the wrists. Long dark curls have been arranged into a masterpiece of a hairdo, piled up and held in place by a number of hair needles. And so, she holds her head high, this woman that is in her late thirties. An adequate pause occurs, as she waits for the herald to announce her, and only when that announcement has been properly made — "Delphine le Blanc de Baphinol. Regent Vicomtesse d'Orange." — the same will enter the fray with a beaming smile and eyes that glitter with a hint of mischief.

Arriving alone this evening, save for a well dressed guard by her side, is a masked young woman with bright red curls piled high atop her head. The mask she wears is made of delicate of silver filigree, that of a rabbit, complete with silver filigree ears, as well. The mask is truly a work of art, even designed to have long, silver eyelashes tipped with sparkly crystal beads above the eye holes. Her dress is a bit racy, pinned up as it is in front to show her thighs, though the pretty silk falls long and full in the back. The red headed rabbit has even donned fur trimmed ankle boots and pinned a furry white cotton tail on her bottom to complete the look. Anyone who knows the Trevalions would no doubt recognize her, however, so unmistakable is that red hair.

Lady Ailene Trevalion." the Herald announces and she smiles and walks forward. She leans close to him and whispers something, before pulling back. "And Sir Cyrille, her guard." She nods and winks at the young man by her, who is unmasked ad looking like he wants the floor to open up and eat him.

Among the early arrivals is a curious pair…. a mighty dragon, seemingly on fire, in flaming silks of orange, red and yellow. The fact that the slinky silks cover lovely curves and end in a swishy skirt are enough to reveal that it's a lady-dragon, even if her face is covered by a dramatic mask with horns. Beside her walks what looks to be a giant bird all in golden, with hints of green and dark-red. His chest is half exposed between a large golden collar and a skirt, revealing this one to be a male of the species, even though his face is covered by a golden mask with a beak. And then their carefully crafted covers are blown when the herald announces: "The Princess Rajiya Jadeja, Ambassador to Bhodistan and Lord Drake Rousse, the Vicomte de Draguignan." What now? Did the herald make a mistake? No, apparently he is entirely seriously about the title.

Red and black, the colors of House Charlot are worn with a certain pride by a man of slightly hawkish features. Nevermind the mask black samite that leaves the lower half of his face visible, and that nose. The minimum effort at a costume, when it is merely a mask in combination with courtly clothes. Brown hair of medium length has been pulled back and tied with a black ribbon, the white of the shirt worn below the doublet of black and red is impeccably clean, shimmering through the slitted sleeves. The Kusheline air about Cyriel is unmistakable, though, a certain subtle menace lingering in his bearing as he enters the ballroom after having been announced as "Cyriel Charlot, Vicomte de Chavagne.", by the herald.

The red dragon pauses there as she enters upon the arm of the strange parrot-man. When her name is announce, she is smiling, though it is the addition of the title to her escort that has her turning her head quickly to peer at his no doubt grinning face. Surprise is easily noted in her eyes and the set of her lips before he might guide her forwards to join those already at the ball, leaving her to lean in to whisper something to him.

The bird nods his beak.

Armandine tilts her head a little to address the other slightly younger fish. "Desarae, dear," she murmurs with a smile. "This is your first Midwinter Ball. Make sure to enjoy it." A slight eyeroll, followed by a pointed glance to the left and the right. "Ah… Joie…" A glass she accepts from an attendant and nods in the direction of her niece so that she is offered one as well.

Desarae accepts a glass of joie from the attendant, slim fingers curving about its bowl as she lifts it in a toast. "Joie to you this Longest Night." She takes the merest sip of it however, enough only to wet her lips. "And I will. I promise. I've been looking forward to this for weeks now." Her tiara glitters as her head swivels, still looking for someone that she might know or recognise within the sea of faces. Ailene gets a second look, and then a closer examination. She might have missed her name being announced, but there's no mistaking that hair. She lifts her glass in her cousin's direction, unwilling to call across the divide.

"Vicomte de… Draguignan…?"

Delphine looks up, staring for a few moments incredulously in the parrot's direction. The Golden Phoenix narrows her eyes just so as she strolls closer, unafraid to disturb any interactions going on between the parrot and the dragon. "Lord Drake Rousse? I am enchanted. Delphine le Blanc de Baphinol." She smiles a bright smile. "You haven't held the title for long, hmm? I remember there is… was… that fiery Vicomtesse… a sister of yours?" Trying to get to the bottom of the mystery, perhaps not as subtly as she could. Attention shifts towards the dragon then, "How lovely! Your Highness, I am quite enchanted.", Delphine greets Rajiya.

Ailene giggles at her uncomfortable guard. "Tis the price you pay for escorting me here and keeping me company until Milord Thibault arrives." she tells him, not seeming to feel sorry for his awkwardness in the least. Her attention is momentarily captured by Cyriel's arrival. She grins widely at him and lifts her hand, wiggling her fingers in a greeting, a very, very cheerful greeting, before she sees Deserae lifting her glass of joie to her. She plucks her own glass of the clear beverage from a passing servant's tray and lifts hers in a happy return toast to her cousin, obviously happy to see her once again.

Drake seems a little amused by his companion's reaction to the announcement of the title, but before he can go into a longer explanation, they are both approached by someone. He takes the lady's hand, though he can't exactly bring it up to his lips for a kiss as the beak is getting into the way. "Lady Delphine, a pleasure to meet you.", he says formally, "It is indeed true, the title has only just been passed on to me as my sister is marrying a prince of foreign lands and shall leave Draguignan behind and in my care."

There's quite a smile to show upon the lady dragon's lips then at some reply given to her by the parrotman. Before further conversation can be had, they are approached and Delphine speaks up. "Thank you, Lady Delphine." The husky words come then from Rajiya, the slight accent no doubt speaking up clearly as to who she is, without the announcement of her title at the door. Letting Drake explain the change in status, she is quick to take up glasses of joie for herself and he, passing him one once he is free to take it.

<FS3> Delphine rolls Politics: Good Success. (2 2 4 1 8 8 2 7 5)

"Excuse me Aunt. Lady Charlène…" Desarae takes a step back from her present company, and holding her glass of joie within careful fingers, she heads over to where Ailene is standing. "Ailene…" There's a warmth to her voice, or it might be amusement, her eyes bright as they take in at close quarters the costume that her cousin has chosen to wear. "I love the ears, they work so well. I'm afraid that I didn't have it in me to come fully in costume tonight. Isn't the palace stunning? It's my first year attending. And yours?"

"The pleasure is all mine," Delphine assures with a warm smile. Accepting Drake's explanation does not mean that her curiosity is sated on the matter. "Your sister, Lady Jelene, will be marrying a Prince of foreign lands? How exciting! And how exciting for you, to take up the position." She lifts her glass as if in some kind of toast, and then downs it in one swift swig. "Again, it seems His Majesty enjoys in keeping his court waiting.", is said with a soft sigh. "His fault, if we will all be drunk on joie, in the moment they will finally arrive." Not that she minds it much. The empty glass is refilled, as soon as she holds it out to an attendant.

"Of course." Armandine gives Desarae her leave with a nod of her head, with a slightly amused smile playing with her features. "Youth.", she tells Charlène at her side, "How much easier things were when we were young. At least this is what I think, sometimes." A pointed glance towards her friend, before she lets her gaze sweep over those arriving, noting people of station she may have a word with during the course of the evening.

No joie for Cyriel Charlot tonight. The Kusheline Vicomte prefers to hold a glass of red wine in his hand. Content for now, to be merely observer, he avoids the center of the ballroom, sipping thoughtfully from his glass, lonesome hawk that he is.

"My lords! My ladies! May I have your attention please?"

The voice of the herald is quite capable of filling the ballroom easily with its striking baritone, the announcement following after the end of the herald's staff hitting the marble floor repeatedly. Into the settling silence, he continues,

"The sovereign ruler of Terre d'Ange. His Majesty. King Léopold Tavernier de la Courcel. Her Majesty. Queen Pénélope de la Courcel. Their Royal Highnesses. Prince Cléon. Prince Alexis. Prince Agathon. Princess Crysanthe. And Princess Demetria."

And there they arrive. A small procession of the royal family, led by King Léopold, adorned an a finest garb of yellow and gold, the stand up collar of his doublet shaped in the way of sun beams. He is a man in his early fifties, of that ripe d'Angeline handsomeness despite age and experience. His arm is held by the Queen walking at his side, she clad all in silver and light blue, an elaborate headpiece holding a crescent moon resting atop her dark hair, a woman of beauty, even if of a more earthly and Hellene sort. After them trail the princes and princesses, attired in finest garments of silver and white, glittering, and each of them wearing headpieces or hats or even half masks adorned with silvery stars.

Heading towards the dais at the far end of the ballroom, the royal procession will proceed on the path that is cleared by respectfully retreating courtiers.

Ailene smiles warmly to Desare in return as her cousin approaches. "Joie to you, Desarae!" she greets her, the Trevalion eyes behind her eyes sparkling with excitement. "It is my first year, too!" she exclaims, sipping at her joie before continuing. "My first visit to Elua, too." There is a little giggle before she takes in her cousin's appearance. "Oh, but you look stunning, as always!" she says to her. Then her voice lowers a bit, taking on a more soft and serious tone. "You have not had much cause to celebrate in a while." she laments. "I hope that, even if just for tonight, you may do so and truly feel joy." Once more, she gives her a warm smile. It is then that the Royal family makes their entrance and, stepping closer to Deserae, Ailene watches with wide eyed awe, this being the first time she has ever seen them.

Drake smiles warmly a Delphine at her words. "Yes, it is all rather exciting… and a bit daunting. But the title has enabled me to officially ask for this fair lady's hand." He takes Rajiya's hand, thus making quite another thing semi-official. But before they can say anything else, the herald interrupts them by announcing the royal family. The whole lot of them. Time to take a step back and incline his head formally.

With her hand taken into Drake's and that comment that announces his wishes to those that might be listening, Rajiya smiles in return, her gaze to linger on him for the passage of a few seconds. Surely there's no doubt her answer was yes, though there might be some waiting still to get an official okay. Speaking of official, there comes the royal family announced, and so her attention turns towards the King, Queen, and their family. Stepping back, she lowers herself into a respectful curtsy as the royal family passes by where she stands, her head given a dip in their direction. Yes, the dragon is offering such honor to the Sun, Moon and the Stars.

"Oh. I see." Delphine's hazel eyes brighten as she looks from Drake to Rajiya and back again. "Now this is thrilling news indeed. Exciting prospects." That is as much as she will be able to contribute, especially when their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of the King. Her gaze follows the Royal Family as it progresses through the ballroom. But then, she spots someone, and her lips curl into a faintly mischievous grin.

"The Longest Night ushers the winter out, and I'm hoping that it will also close the chapter of this year," Desarae says to Ailene. "Surely next year can only be an improvement upon this current one." Her voice tails away as the royal party make their entrance; her spine straightening and her chin lifting, as if she herself might be coming under scrutiny rather than the King and Queen themselves. Her curtsey is elegantly deep as they pass, her face lowered and her eyes lidded, though if she dares to peek at them through a veil of darkly shadowed lashes, well who's to know. Once she's risen to the erect, she takes another sip of her joie, a quick smile given her cousin. "Nicolas hates that I decided to come here tonight. I'll have to introduce you to him now that I'm showing myself in public once more. He's my cassiline, and completely wonderful."

Ailene also falls into a respectful curtsy as the King and the Royal family walk past them. Unlike Desarae, however, it is hard to keep her gaze lowered completely. She is not so subtle when she peeks up at the Royal entourage. Once they pass, she rises and turns back to her cousin. "I fully believe that this coming year shall be wonderful!" she chirps, her voice once more excited. "Nicolas?" she then asks, tilting her head in curiosity. "Oh, yes, you must let me meet him!" she says. "I have only ever known one Casseline." she tells her. "Gabriel de Montreve, Lord Mathieu Rocaille's Casseline." she explains. "I have /seen/ others, with those who would visit my father, but I only talked to him." She then raises her chin proudly. "He is the one who taught me how to flirt." she says, sounding extremely proud of that fact. "I need to introduce you to someone, too." she then adds, eyes alighting. "Lord Thibault Charlot." she says. "He has asked for my hand." she then adds, this bit in a whispered tone.

Once the royal family has passed, Drake straightens. Seeing that Delphine has already spotted someone else, he turns his full attention to Rajiya. "Something to drink?", he suggests and picks up two glasses of joie from a floating waiter's tray, one of which he hands to her. "Shall we drink to us then?", he asks softly, his eyes sparkling, "The Vicomte and Vicomtesse de Draguignan?"

"You are to be married?" This is news to Desarae, and probably would be even had she not spent the last few months locked away and unsociable. Green eyes glitter behind her mask, and concern shows briefly in her depths. "Is it someone that you feel you can get along with? Companions bless us, but it's to be preferable if the person we're supposed to bear children for is at least /tolerably/ nice, don't you think?" If there were undercurrents to be picked up, she's missed them entirely.

With Delphine perhaps heading off, Rajiya turns to Drake, accepting the glass of joie from him. The tiny glass filled with clear liquid is certainly given a look, but once he makes the toast, she answers it with a quiet return, "To us." Surely she isn't too forwards in her hopes. Excitement shows as she looks about the growing crowd, and all the amazing costums worn, "I thought my costume was lovely.. and yours.. but.." The palace takes bling to next level!

Ailene can't help but to laugh. "Oh, I tolerate him quite well!" she assures her cousin. "I am very much in love with him, as a matter of fact." Her smile widens and she looks truly and fully happy. "It is a love match, though the politics work very well, too." she explains. "I suppose I am very lucky in that regard." She then stands upon her tiptoes, craning her neck as she glances around. "I do not think he has arrived yet, but he shall be here soon." she tells her. "I am not sure what mask he will wear, for we agreed to surprise each other." She grins. "The marriage has not yet been formally approved of." she then says to her. "We have met with our parents and are awaiting the news, but we expect it should be good, as both sets of parents seemed keen to the notion."

Rajiya will not be the only foreign looking person currently at the palace. On the contrary. Foreign ambassadors are also in attendance, some of them observing the ongoing festivities with faintly bewildered curiosity. Prince Ardashir Shamabarsin has been announced upon his arrival as Akkadian Ambassador and brother to the Khalif of Khebbel-im-Akkad. Now he is lingering not too far from the dais, and it seems the Duchesse Mereliot has sought him out for an exchange of words at the moment.

"Then I wish you much happiness, Ailene," Desarae states, lifting her glass. "Joie to you and your intended. I hope the news that you're anticipating is received sooner rather than later. A summer wedding would be lovely, and so much nicer than a winter one." Another sip is taken of her glass, the feathers of her mask shivering a little with the movement of her head as she catches sight of another familiar face through the crowd and across the room. "And that over there is the Vicomte de Chavagne, if I am not much mistaken. I presented him with a prize at the tournament. He will be kin with you when you wed, I believe?"

The Hawk strolls about the hall, glass of red wine held in a loose but not negligent grasp, pale blue eyes scanning those around him through the slits in his hawk mask. There may be a moment when he pauses, perhaps overhearing some chitchat that drifts towards his ears through the ever playing music and ongoing other conversations. But there. His head he lifts when he hears Desarae referencing him, and Cyriel elects to approach to pair of Mereliot fish and Trevalion redhead rabbit.

Not long after the Royal entourage has been announced and entered, the voice of the herald sounds out once more. "Lord Thibault Mercer Charlot," the booming voice of the Herald announces.

The tall form of the young heir to Chateaugiron enters as his name is called out, clad in an attire of red and gold trimmed with white and blacks. On his face he wears an intricately carved and detailed masque in the likeness of a fox, with ears at attention and an elongated snout, and decorated with a flowing golden pattern. His attire is in the same colors, predominantly red with golden trim and embroideries making him look perhaps more like a creature of myth than one of the regular woodland inhabitants his masque seems to aim to mirror. He steps in with calm, confident steps, seemingly not bothered at all that he has not only missed the arrival of the Royal family, and to add to that, is making his arrival right after they have made theirs. Perhaps he intended for this to be so? Intense amber eyes peers out from behind the fox masque, taking in the scenery and the people already gathered here in small groups, conversing. After a few moments, he steps forward and snatches a glass of Joie from a servants tray, and makes his way towards where a fiery haired rabbit and a young woman wearing a masque in the shape of a fish and clad in Mereliot colors are currently conversing. He approaches calmly, only speaking up when he is a few steps away. "Joie to you on this Longest Night, m'ladies. You both look absolutely astonishing tonight." He says to them both, even offering them a small bow, and a faint smile is on his lips, his eyes shimmering visibly from behind the masque.

While the dragon and the parrotman might drift off to the side, given to conversation between, eventually the dragon maid will return to the sideboard, to fetch another drink for herself. It would seem she is momentarily without escort, Rajiya having left Drake while he engaged in conversation with one of his buddies. From behind her dragon mask, curiously does she peer about those perhaps recognized, and those she does not, half listening to the conversations that might be picked up on at that time. Surely, she spies the foreigners, so many of them not quite understanding the evening. Close to them she may drift, to offer her own knowledgement in answers they might have.

Ailene grins. "Thank you so much, Des." she replies softly. "I wish you to find happiness in your future, too." she says to her. She lifts her glass of joie again to her. "Joie to you!" she repeats, before downing the glass and then following her cousin's gaze over to Lord Cyriel. She almost snorts with laughter, but thankfully, bites it back at the last moment. Instead, she clears her throat, pretending that she choked a bit as she swallowed her joie. "Uh, yes." she says, trying her best to keep a straight face. "Lord Cyriel shall be my cousin by marriage." Oh look! Speak of the Devil, indeed! The man himself is walking over. Ailene dips into a curtsy for him, biting her lip to keep her mouth from twitching in amusement. "My Lord Cyriel." she greets him, in the most respectful tone she can muster. "Joie to you!" She plucks another glass of the alcohol from a tray and raises it to him. "Have you sampled the cookies here yet?" she asks him, her voice totally innocent. "Oh, wait." She shakes her head. "You do not like sweets, I heard." There is a very quiet squeak then. A swallowed giggle. Lucky for her maybe, Thibault has finally arrived and comes to greet them. "Thibby!" she exclaims, happiness and the heat of the joie making her forget not to call him that in public. "Oh my goodness!" she laughs in delight. "You are a fox!" She then moves closer to him. "Is your fox hunting rabbit?" she teases him with a wink. She then gestures to Desarae. "This is my dear cousin, Lady Desarare Mereliot." she tells him. "She is the Heiress to the Marquisate de Chavaise." she tells him. "Des, this is Lord Thibault Charlot, heir to the Vicomte de Chateaugiron."

"Thibault, what coincidence! Am I to wish you joy already?", Cyriel intones towards his cousin who sort of disrupts his prowl on the two ladies. His hawkish features twist minimally into a faint hint of a grin, but whatever mirth that failed attempt at a smile may try to convey, it fails from the intense look of pale blue eyes that bore right into Thibault's gaze. A nod then, a moment later perhaps than would have been expected, as Cyriel turns his attention towards Ailene. "Lady Ailene. It has been awhile," he greets her with distant courtesy, while he perceives the mirth on her part he apparently has managed to inspire. "Joie…", His gaze drops to the glass of wine in his hand, and he shakes his head. "I prefer Kusheline Red. Always have. In that I may be old-fashioned." There, finally a hint of humor, of the Kusheline kind. "As for what delights I may prefer or not, my lady," and here he lifts his gaze to look towards Ailene, and the hint of a smile fades. "I doubt you know me well enough." Luckily for all of them, there is another present, and to her Cyriel will turn his attention next. "Lady Desarae Mereliot," he greets her with a formal bow. "You remember handing me that prize, and I do remember receiving it. It was a memorable day."

"And joie to you too, Lord Thibault." Desarae's curtsey is respectfully deep to the young Charlot noble. "Congratulations on your choice of costume too. A fox to chase the rabbit." She seems pleased with herself for drawing that connection, though her attention is drawn by the approach of the older and more severe looking of the Charlot noblemen now present. "Vicomte de Chavagne. How lovely to see you again." Another curtsey is given, just as deep and just as respectful, the dark aubergine of her dress appearing almost as black as the pearls she wears about her throat where it falls in its deepest folds. "Joie to you this longest night." Tactfully she chooses to ignore any undercurrents of tension that might exist, a small incline of her head to one side as she merely goes on to say, "I confess, I did have a champion wearing my colours in the contest, but it was not to be. You were a worthy winner, and one whom I was pleased to present the prize to. You reigned supreme on the day."

Again, there is that knock of the herald's staff to the marble floor, when the man clears his throat to announce the next arrivals. "Quintien de Morhban, the Duc of Kusheth, and his wife, the Duchesse Tatienne Maignard de Morhban. Their son, Lord Julius de Morhban."

Enter a group of three, black and purple the dominant colors in proud emphasis of their House. The man leading his wife with her hand resting on his arm is clad almost completely in black, and black is the elaborate half mask that are shaped like a pair of wings, open reference to the crest of Morbhan, the flying raven. The ducal coronet adorned with amethysts and onyxes sits on his head, and a purple sash is wound about his midst, as Quintien de Morhban makes his entrance. His wife wears an elaborate dress of black, her mask covering all of her face, white painted with purple, framed in artificial purple leaves that make her look like a visitor from a fairy world. The young man that follows them cannot be much older than 16, he is dressed in the comparatively simple finery of a young lord, with a purple half-mask being the only unusual accessory.

Rajiya stands near the other foreigners, the Bhodistan dressed in D'Angeline finery and wearing a mask of a red dragon. Such subtle commentary to be taken from her chosen 'theme', especially when one knows she arrived with the newly minted Vicomte de Draguignan. The dragons. She takes the time to explain certain customs to those that might question her, gaze keeping a careful watch of those gathered.

It seems like Thibault wasn't the only Charlot to have picked that particular moment to approach the two young ladies at this particular time, and at the sight of his cousin, his smile curls up one corner of his lips. "Cyriel." he greets his cousin. "What an unexpected surprise. I am glad to see that you hunt for a wife didn't keep you too busy to show this year." he tells him with a hint of mirth in his tone, before he raises his glass unceremoniously towards the older Charlot. "You may." He then adds, to his cousins question. "There is certainly cause for it more than usual on this particular Longest Night." At those words he looks to Ailene. There's a faint clearing of his throat and and a momentary rise in the intensity in his eyes when his wife-to-be calls him by her chosen nickname for him, one that he normally does not appreciate being referred to in public. An inhale and a wry smile sent to her later, he speaks again. "Joie to you, my dear." He tells her, raising his glass again. His smile widens slightly at the comments from the two ladies as to his attire, and what he might be 'hunting' tonight. "Possibly… I guess we'll have to wait and see." He answers them with a faux-mysterious tone laden with a hint of theatrical drama. When Desarae is formally introduced, he turns to her and looks her over for a short moment. "Ah, lady Desarae. It's a pleasure to finally make proper introductions. While I do not wish to cloud this beautiful night with undesirable memories of the past, I would be remiss if I did not offer my condolences for you recent misfortunes. I hope that this new year will bring you mless sadness and more happiness than the one that has passed." He tells her, voice solemn and respectful, and he lowers his chin in a respectful nod that is held for just a moment longer than necessary, perhaps. He then steps over to Ailene, one hand reaching out to grasp and twirl one of the fiery red locks that hangs loose around her mask. "You weren't kidding when you said you had found the perfect costume." He tells her, looking her over even as he speaks the words." Now that he is close enough to actually be considered part of the small ensemble, the others would not be able to not notice the subtle but intense smell of newly treated, raw leather that surrounds him, his scent choice for the evening standing out, perhaps, amongst the more light and aromatic scents chosen by many of the other attendants. When theHerals announces the arrival of Quintien de Morbhan, the Duc of Kusheth, his attention switches to the entrance as he watches the group of three enter, his posture suddenly slightly more at-attention.

Ailene turns to Cyriel with a sincere smile now. "My Lord." she says to him. "I know you and I are as different as night and day, and that our personalities clash." she says to him. "We are most likely to be family soon, though, so I hope for us to be able to find a common ground and learn to tolerate each other's quirks, if only for that reason." Her voice is soft yet very polite and respectful. "I do have a tendency to play jokes and to laugh too much and you seem to me as someone who is very stern and upright." At this, she dips her head to him. "It is in my nature to tease those of your temperament and for doing that and causing offense to you at all, I do very much beg your pardon." She lowers her lashes, affecting a look of regret. She then clears her throat and lifts her face once more, giving Cyriel a smile that shows that she means what she has said. She then looks to Desarae. "I had been cheering for Auggie, of course, that day." she tells her. "He being my brother and all." Her smile turns into a grin. "Lord Cyriel beat him fair and square, though." she agrees. Her nose then twitches. Her eyes darken. As Thibault moves closer to her, she instinctively moves her body closer to his, as well. Until she may actually lay her cheek against his shoulder. A soft, little pleased smile graces her lips and she twines her arm through his, nearly glued to him now. "I knew it'd suit you." she murmurs, playfully running a fingertip up his arm, then around his neck and up behind his ear lobe.

The Midwinter Masque has the advantage of granting masks, and Farah could not have been more grateful, on this awkward day that now ends in a festive occasion that not what she knows from her home country. Standing there with two other peers in age, a half-sister and a cousin, she glances now and then over to where the Akkadian Ambassador is speaking with the Duchesse of Eisande. The lovely Akkadian trio is of slightly dusky skin, and they are clad in courtly dresses of d'Angeline style, which makes the young woman feel even more foreign and less at ease. Peach is the color of her dress, and it has the usual bodice and long trumpet sleeves. A few embroideries have been added, red ornaments snaking along the skirts and the lower parts of sleeves. A matching domino mask with glittering stones keeps the upper part of her face concealed, dark eyes peeking through slits. Her gaze has wandered, but now and then it has come to settle on Rajiya who has had the patience to speak with her and her kin.

"Fine then." Cyriel's lips twitch into a mirthless smile, as he glares at Thibault. "It is good to see how well my advice has been taken." Despite the words, his tone is quiet and calm. His back upright, hands clasped at the small of his back, the glass of red wine held safely between attentive fingers so that it won't spill. He is addressed by Ailene, and so the Vicomte de Chavagne regards her. Considering her words for a moment, and weighing his own response before he gives it, in that same noncommittal courtesy he had offered Thibault. "Then, my lady," he tells her in quiet firmness, "let me advise you to reign in your nature, as it behooves a future Vicomtesse well to consider words and actions before committing them. In the brief exchange of words we have had at this ball, you have already managed a minor insult — for which you are now apologizing." He inclines his head, in thoughts. Tilting it then, in that instinctive hawk-like motion to observe the interaction between Thibault and Ailene. Pale blue eyes brighten even more, and nostrils flare. Before Cyriel executes a bow towards the three of them, including Desarae, and murmurs, "Forgive me, but I am sought for elsewhere." A glance towards the Duc of Kusheth, and Cyriel straightens, and then he leaves Desarae, Thibault and Ailene to their conversation.

Rajiya will smile to Farah and the others, "Your dress is quite lovely." Picking up on the nervousness, she is quite welcoming, even if Terre d'Ange is not her homeland, it may well soon be. The scent of apples may be picked up from about her, mingled with a hint of foreign spices. Without hesitation, she might switch her chosen language to something that might make it easier to talk to Farah, if such is taken note of.

Desarae curtsies as Quintien and his family move past. "My cousin," she mumbles in an aside to Ailene, and perhaps to any of the others that are currently within earshot. "My father was his uncle." Was, since now he's no more. She places her half-drunk glass of joie upon the tray of a passing server, and claims a fresh one in its place, for what reason is something known only to herself. "I have to say," she adds once the Kusheline duc has passed, "that I never imagined my lady cousin being given to a Kusheline match." A smile tip-tilts the corners of her mouth, though it falters at the display of affection between the pair. She watches them briefly before looking away, her focus falling immediately upon Cyriel as he excuses himself from their company. "Of course, my lord." Her smile beneath her mask is genuine, and the hand not occupied by her glass, gets wound about her waist, slender and delicate against the deep purple of her gown.

Most certainly Rajiya's efforts will be taken note of! Farah lights up, when Rajiya addresses her in Akkadian. How reassuring using one's own language can become when so far from home. «I am Farah, your highness,», the young princess addresses the other. «Niece to the Khalif of Khebbel-im-Akkad.» Her tone, less haughty but more… relieved to find others in similar position where she least expected it.

Rajiya smiles further, speaking with Farah for a moment in Akkadian, «It's a pleaure to meet you, Farah. Are you enjoying the ball thus far?» She eventually makes the switch back, ahing softly as she draws her attention to the prince and where his party was last seen talking with the Lady of Marsilikos, perhaps. "Have you had a glass of joie yet?" She wonders as a servant passes by with a tray of the small glasses. She reaches for two, offering one to Farah, "It is very delicious, though strong. I understand it's made from a rare flower that grows high in the mountains.."

"Your advice was considered and found wanting. Don't be a sourpuss because it didn't sway my mind from it's intended course." Thibault remarks to his cousin in a casual, perhaps even slightly tired tone, before the exchange between Ailene and Cyriel makes a subtle smile appear on his lips again. "At least the family gatherings will be more entertaining from now on…" He muses to himself in a low murmur. He wraps an arm around Ailene as she steps closer and leans against him and runs up her finger so playfully towards his neck and ear??. "You know me too well already…" He tells her with a wry smile, his eyes?? moving from holding her gaze to sweep over her petite, costumed form again, the small cotton tail holding his eyes?? for a bit longer than any of the other details of the Trevalions chosen costume for tonight. He looks shortly to Desarae. "Given? More like taken…." He offers to her comment with a friendly smirk. But then the Duc of Kusheth enters, and his posture changes. He links his arm with hers and even gives her a small nudge on one elbow, clearing his throat subtly, bowing to his Duc and Duchesse as they pass them by. "Of course, cousin, he offers Cyriel when the man speaks to them and takes his leave of the small group." His eyes stay on him for a bit, perhaps curious as to whom the Vicomte might be thinking of approaching for words next.

A quick shake of the head is given by Farah, causing a soft jingle in the earrings she is wearing, silver triangles with a line of red gemstones. "I have had no joie yet.", she admits in heavily accented d'Angeline. "I was afraid it would go to the head." Her features, despite that obvious foreign touch, look beautiful, even for the high standards of d'Angelines. Accepting the glass from Rajiya, she wonders, "Are you here as well to be married off? Or… why are you here in Elua?" As if matches were the only reason imaginable to be in the Capital of Terre d'Ange?

Ailene watches Cyriel depart and sighs, shrugging as she smiles helplessly, as if to say, 'I tried'. She sighs again and shakes her head, a look of mingled confusion and slight amusement showing in her eyes. "What did I do this time?" she wonders aloud. "I don't think I insulted him…?" She looks between Thibault and Desarae in question before laughing again. "I don't think that man will ever like me!" she tells him and gives another shrug. "Ah well." One last sigh before she is distracted by the passing of the Duc of Kusheth and the de Morbhan family. She curtsies respectfully, then rises once more as they pass, and turns her attention back to Desarae, giving her cousin a grin. "I wouldn't have thought it, either!" she agrees, laughing once more. "I certainly wasn't looking for a husband, least of all a Kusheline one!" she says. "In fact, that was why Ari and I went to Marsilikos, to /avoid/ any matchmaking the family might have tried to do." She then turns a besotted looking expression up to Thibault. "Then this one came strutting up under the tree I was under, eating an apple and looking extremely handsome and /very/ arrogant!" She laughs again. "I didn't stand a chance!" She gives Thibault's arm a squeeze. "Whom took whom home first, hmm?" she teases him quietly, batting her lashes before winking saucily at him while shaking that tail just ever so slightly. She then looks back to Desarae, craning her neck to get a better look at the Duc of Kusheth and his family. "You have the look of them, that's for sure." she says to her, then lowers her voice. "Though much prettier!" She winks. "Now that you are back in society, and with a title soon, you will no doubt have many families seeking to marry their sons to you." However, her eyes soften. "I hope that when that time comes for you, you will also have the blessing of love." she tells her. "Is there anyone trying to court you yet?" she asks, once more in a lowered voice.

"Then have one." Rajiya says as she passes the small glass to Farah, "Merely do not drink too much of it, for it is strong, from what I have been told." Let the ladies of the foreign lands not end up drunk from the joie! When the questions come, she chuckles, her gaze behind her dragon mask to skim over the crowd, to briefly land upon the odd male dressed up as some combination of parrot and man, "I am, yes." That said, her attention returns to the Akkadian beauty, "But I am also serving as Ambassador between the royals and nobles here, and my family back home." A wry smile touches her painted lip, "It is an honor that took me much convincing of both my father, and my uncle." But she managed it, likely with the help of her D'Angeline mother.

Thibault's words aimed at Cyriel only hit air, in a space vacated already by his cousin. The Charlot of hawkish features has elected to go for a circling course, observing the now arrived Duc of Kusheth, Quintien de Morhban and his entourage. The glass of red wine is no longer hidden but now wielded in the open, as Cyriel takes thoughtfully a good sip. Considering. Watching. And making his own conclusions.

Armandine looks up as well, half-turning to see Quintien de Morhban arrive. A glance she shoots towards Charlène, and it is this Dowager Marquise that rather pointedly stares at the Kusheline Duc, her back straightening

It'd be difficult to interpret Desarae's reaction to the question Ailene aks of her, for there's little emotion to betray her thoughts on the matter; not only because of the mask that she wears, but also because the set of her jaw and the line of her mouth, give so very little away. "/Everyone/ I have loved, has been taken from me. Why should I wish to love again?" She looks at the joie in her hand, eyes blinking fiercely before she lifts it to her lips and swallows it down. A deep breath taken. "I'm very happy for you that you've found love in your matrimonial bed, and I wish you much happiness. Sincerely. My own marriage will be one of politics and convenience. Nothing more, and nothing less. " She holds her glass out, expecting one of the servers to rescue her from it, even as her eyes follow Cyriel and the de Morhban contingency.

Farah takes a careful sip from the glass of joie, and her lips curve immediately upwards. "This tastes so delicious.", she smiles. "So you are already engaged to marry?" She lifts her glass. "I wish you joy. I would never have been considered to become an Ambassador, nor any of my cousins and sisters." She bites her lip. "Now we are to become matches, to aid my uncle." She takes another sip, watching the nobles in elaborate costumes mingle and chatter amongst themselves.

"There is one to whom negotiations are being discussed." Rajiya admits, though there is a brief moment in which some other thought might cross her mind, leaving her lips pressed together in some sad emotion. It doesn't last long, and she is soon smiling again, "I thank you." For the words of joy. As for the last, she reaches out, and if allowed, lays her fingertips on Farah's arm as she speaks quietly, "Remember one thing here. The D'Angelines will gladly work towards a political match, but neither would they wish to force anyone into a match that is not wished. Elua precept is honored here. Your marriage to one of them, will bring you more happiness, I believe, then one might back home." At least that is her opinion to some degree.

<FS3> Ailene rolls Perception: Good Success. (5 7 2 8 1 6 7)

"You aren't Kusheline and you have a sense of humor." Thibault answers Ailene with a small shrug, his tone calm but his eyes twinkling with subtle mirth. His head tilts to one side as he watches Ailene tell her cousin about how she certainly wasn't looking to be paired off, especially to a Kusheline. His smile widens a little as she mentions how they met. "Arrogant? Me? Hmmm." He considers in a subtly playful voice, returning the squeeze to her arm with a wink from behind the guise of the fox mask. "But who took who first?" He counters to her teasing with a sly smile and another squeeze of her arm. He then looks back to where his cousin has made his way, his eyes then shifting to first Duc Quintien and his wife, and then to the form of Charlene, shifting between them a number of times. It's obvious that his attention has been divided by the entrance of the Morbhans. He empties his glass, putting it down and picking up another from the tray of a passing servant, before looking to Desarae. "I hope that love will one day find its way back to your life, my lady, even if you can not imagine it doing so at the current time. And if it should not, I hope that you will find happiness and joy nonetheless." He says to her. He gives Ailene a short look and his the hold of his arm on hers tighten slightly, before his gaze is once again drawn to the Morbhan entourage, as if waiting for something to potential happen any time, perhaps?

It takes a moment for Ailene to realize that she must have said the exact wrong thing to her cousin, but when she does realize it, she is quick to try make amends. "My apologies, cousin, for saying something so tactless." she murmurs. "I only meant that I sincerely wish you joy and happiness in your life from now on." she tells her. She then lifts her chin a bit. "You are not alone, though." she tells her. "You still have family who care for you." she tells her. "I hope you always remember that." She says nothing more about marriage, love or family, however. Instead, she looks back over to de Morbhans, and then over to the Duchess and Charlene, noticing the way the other woman straightens her back and stares at the Duc. "Is it me, or does it seem there is some tension all of a sudden?" She headtilts, but hasn't a clue to what the tension could be, and is starting to get distracted again by Thibault's leather scent. She cuddles closer to him and subtly sniffs his arm. She would have been happy to remain obliviously ignorant of anything brewing around them, but Thibault's hold on her tightens. "What is it?" she asks him, following her gaze back to the Duc and then over to Charlene again. "Is there really something going on, there?" she asks him, all sorts of curious all the sudden.

Farah lowers her gaze and exhales. That touch to her arm is appreciated, as much as the words Rajiya has for her. "One can hope," Farah murmurs, a bit of nervousness there in the slight twitch of her lips. "Thank you." The Akkadian woman lifts her gaze again to look towards the Bhodistani Ambassador. "You are living here, in Elua?", she asks then, curiously.

Desarae gives the smallest shake of her head, the magnificent black feathers of her mask rippling as she leans in close and plants an impulsive kiss to Ailene's cheek. "I do. I'm just trying to be realistic. You're probably more right than you know, and even now there are those that are eyeing my title and thinking how well it would sit upon their son's shoulders." An uplift of her own. "Perhaps I /will/ find love again. Who's to say. I very much doubt that I'll be as fortunate as you, however." She noogies her chin to her cousins shoulder, a delicate smile finding its way to her lips as her attention's drawn back to her /other/ cousin. The Duc. "There's /always/ something going on between Kusheline's, Ailene." Her eyes cut to Thibault. "Isn't that right, my lord?"

Apparently, Quintien de Morhban catches that stare as well. There is a pause in his steps, as he meets the gaze of the Dowager Marquise de Fhirze. And a faint smile begins to tug at the corners of his mouth. "Charlène." Informal greeting for a relative. And he inclines his head to her in a nod of greeting, with the smile not reaching to his eyes at all.

"Then I will certainly keep you and your future in my prayers, Lady Farah." Rajiya answers the Akkadian girl before shaking her head, "No, I traveled here with a group to meet with the royals and attend the celebrations. I have been in Marsilikos, and likely will return there." With that said, she likely picks up on the tension, her gaze to slide towards the group of Kushelines, a tilt of her head to show a certain curiosity.

"Your Grace."

The way Charlène Morhban de Fhirze says those words, they could almost sound accusatory. Were it not from the downward flick of her gaze, and the curtsey she then offers, a bit hesitantly perhaps.

Thibault's attention is still currently focused on the Morbhans, switching between the Duc's entourage and Charlene, but he looks back to Ailene and Desarae when the Trevalion offers her cousin apologies. His eyes linger on Desarae for a moment, though the mask he wears hides any hint of what he might be thinking of the young Mereliot's words and response. Then his attention is back upon the Morbhans and their interactions. "Nothing you need concern yourself with, darling." He answers Ailene in a somewhat distracted, and perhaps not the most reassuring, voice, eyes still on the Duc and Charlene. Surely they wouldn't bring that tension more to light than what is already apparent, here at the Royal Palace with the King and Queen present? "I hope.." is added shortly after, almost inaudibly spoken under his breath. Despite his words, his hold on her tightens slightly more. His eyes do flicker to Desarae when the young Mereliot makes reference to the nature of Kusheline politics, however. "Kusheth is never a boring place, despite what some people might think.." He offers her in response with a mirthless smile, before his attention is back upon the Morbhan exchange.

Pushing the line on what might be considered 'fashionably' late, Augustin de Trevalion finally enters the Midwinter ball. He is dressed in white and gold, winter with the hint of the sun and warmer times ahead. It also goes with the white cloak that he wears, embroidered with a swan over the heart that he removes and hands to a servant. His first move is to offer a deep bow to the King and Queen from the entryway — regardless of if they see him or not, he still makes the proper move.

Any late arrival would draw attention, and so Augustin's entrance does as well. From the dais, King Léopold inclines his head to the Trevalion, and then Queen Pénélope does as well, after a slight nudge from her husband. The Royal family seems to be in good spirits. At least the princes and princesses are already deep into the gamblings of coquetry and promises of dances that will be had soon.

Quintien de Morhban, Duc of Kusheth, acknowledges Charlène's curtsey with a lift of his brows. But, as courtly customs and courtesy is seen to, there is nothing else he can do but to pull his attention away from the daughter of his predecessor. To turn it towards the sovereign rulers of his country instead.

Ailene seems surprised when Desarae kisses her cheek. She smiles, though, happy that her cousin doesn't seem to take offense to her or anything she said, after all. "I trust you to make the best decision for yourself." she says to her. "Plus, you have Her Grace to advise and help you deal with all that, when that time comes." She leans over to give her a small, affectionate hug. "If you do find it, though,then that would be wonderful." she says to her. She pulls back and offers her a warm, encouraging smile, before turning back to Thibault and letting him hold her close again. "What in the world…?" she mutters to him, squirming a bit from the tighter grasp and looking back to the scene playing out between the Duc of Kusheth and Lady Charlene. "Why are you acting all protective male alpha all of the sudden?" she asks him, scowling slightly. She then sees her brother enter and her face lights up. "It's Auggie!" she exclaims, momentarily forgetting about what else is going on. "I wonder if he has heard anything from mama and papa?" She giggles.

Desarae pulls away as Ailene snugs back into Thibault. "Excuse me please. My aunt has instructed me that I must see and be seen tonight. Also, that I should enjoy myself." Her chin lifts, and she displays a certain set to her chin that would please not only her mother, but her father as well. She turns then, melting with ease into the upper echelons of d'Angeline society.

Augustin receives the inclination of the head with a little salute, and then grins. He apparently has no desire to interrupt their evening, or anyone else's—but then he spots his sister and hears her words. He chuckles. "If I had heard from Father it would only have been how I need to take this time to find a politically advantageous wife. I don't even need to speak to him directly to get the lectures."

Thibault's attention switches back to Ailene and his hold on her relaxes somewhat, still holding her close. A small sigh, then. He seems almost annoyed at first, but that quickly dissipates and he gives her a soft, but perhaps slightly forced, smile. "It's…nothing." He tells her, before his eyes flicker up to the ongoing scene between Charlene and Quintin for a short moment. It's very obviously not 'nothing', despite how well he tries to hide the fact. The young heir might not be 100% certain on the details, but he knows something to be acting this way, that much is certain. His lips move as if to speak more, but then Ailene's cousin Augustin makes his entrance, stealing the attention of his partner, saving him having to explain any further. For the moment, at least. He turns and looks to the man, offering him a courteous nod. "Ahh, Lord Augustin. Joie to you." He greets him, lifting his glass of Joie to him and the ongoing scene between the Morbhans seemingly forgotten, or simply ignored, for now. Augustins words brings a more genuine smile to his lips again. "You certainly look dazzling tonight." He then offers in response to the shiny outfit the Trevalion lord has opted for, rivaling his own in extravaganza. "I hope all went well with the recent matters you had to attend to?"

Rajiya makes her excuses of Farah after spying the parrot man looking for her. Leaving the Akkadian, she slips through the crowd, gaze sometimes turned towards the Kushelines before arriving at her escort's side. Slipping her arm through Drake's, the two might disappear to partake of more joie, and finger foods found elsewhere.

Ailene lifts her chin very proudly to her brother. "I doubt you would have gotten that this time." she coos to him. "Because your wonderful, intelligent, beautiful sister has done her duty, unlike /some/ people, and is getting married." She proclaims this as only a scion of Azza could and would. With immense pride in herself and her accomplishment. "Well, actually…" She shrugs. "It's not official yet, but we have met with both parents." she tells him. "Mama was extremely pleased, I'll have you know!" she boasts. "She says I am much more ladylike with Thibby looking after me." Her smile is very smug as she looks at Augustin. Smug, but happy. Very, very happy. She has forgotten all about The Duc and Lady Charlene for the moment. "Lord Thibault will be your brother in law!" she says happily.

"Oh?" Augustin asks dryly. "Is Arianne getting married?" He asks, with a tone of faux-curiosity in his voice. But he dispells it with a wave of his hand. "I am very happy for you, and congratulations to the both of you. But you underestimate our father's disappointment in my life choices, and his ability to bring them up at a moment's notice." He glances down at his clothing for a moment, and grins. "I figured I would make an entrance." But he cannot fail to notice the looks that Thibault was giving Charlene and Quintin. "Did I miss something before I arrived?"

Quintien de Morhban was actually about to approach the King and Queen. But then something happens. Something unexpected.


Only mere inches away from his foot something hits the marble floor and explodes into a multitude of splinters. The commotion that ensues is not to be avoided. But neither his wife nor his son nor Quintien de Morhban is harmed. Apart from… a red line left by a shard that must have cut skin open along the back of his hand.


Perhaps one of those icicles from the decoration slipped?

The commotion is silenced before it really can become one. And Quintien excuses himself from the festivities.

Thibault stifles a laugh at Augustin's response to Ailene. "We'll make a proper lady of her yet." He says to Augustin. "Although not too proper, I assure you." He adds shortly after with a humored smile, looking to Ailene briefly, his arm placed around her caressing her own arm and giving her a small affectionate squeeze. "Thank you." He then responds to the mans well wishes. "I hope it can calm the need four parents to see you or any of Ailene's other siblings being wed, although it hardly sounds like it. Either way, that is hardly any of my business." He then says with a small shrug. "Your mother did seem quite pleased, though, that is certainly true. I think she even winked at me…" He then adds, eyes alight with mirth and his tone one of slightly sarcastic humor. When Augustin asks about potentially missing anything, clearly referring to the scene that was unfolding, he merely holds up a hand and shakes his head lightly a few times. "Nothing that needs to take any of our attentions on this night." A beat. "Politics.." He adds a moment later, his voice almost disapproving in it's tone as he speaks that last word.

Ailene sticks out her tongue at Augustin, showing that, clearly, she still has a ways ago before she could ever be considered rightfully proper. "Meanie." she says and pouts playfully. She quickly grins, though, and giggles. "Thank you, Auggie!" she says to him and unpastes herself from Thibault's side just long enough to give her big brother a big, warm hug. "Just you wait." she teases him. "I'll find you a perfect wife yet!" She giggles again and pulls back, winks and then returns to Thibault's side. "Don't fret too much about Papa's opinion of you." she says, waving a hand in dismissal. "/I/ am certainly prod of you!" she tells him. "As is everyone else in our family, I assure you." She then turns to Thibault and also fixes him with a questioning stare. "I was just asking him the same." she murmurs. "Something is going down, no doubt, but I have no idea what." She looks again over at the Duc and Lady Charlene, just in time to see the very odd occurrence that happens to the Duc. "What…?" Her eyes look up and then back down. "Did something fall on him?" She looks utterly confused, and then even more confused, as he suddenly departs the festivities. "Well, that is highly suspicious behavior." she muses. "Though why it should be suspicious is what boggles me."

Augustin snorts. "Our father's disapproval of me has been the defining feature of our relationship for my entire life. I daresay we'd both be lost without it to anchor the two of us." He looks over to Thibault and looks like he is going to say something when the CRACK of shattering something causes him to step toward the Crown, eyes darting until he can identify the source—as possibly a fallen decoration. He blinks a little bit, but it doesn't seem like an attack so he steps back. "I am glad you're proud of me,, Ailene. And I am proud of you, and wish you both Joie," he tells them, as he reaches to snag a glass of it from a passing servant who is looking toward the disappearing Duc.

Thibault doesn't reply to the comment Ailene makes about what could be going on. Only a low, growling sound emanates from behind the mask. The Chateaugiron heir nods to the words of Augustin. There's a smile on his lips but the look in his eyes peering out from behind the mask has a flicker of sympathy in their depths, as if he only knows all too well the feeling and relationship to a parent that the older man expresses. Then the sound of shattering glass steals his attention and his posture visibly tenses for a moment, his hold on Ailene tightening almost instinctively again and his focus now on the point where the sound came from. The Duc and his entourage. Where Augustin moves to potential protect the crown, Thibault only seems interested in protecting the young redhead at his side, should the need arise. He relaxes again when nothing more seems to happen. Perhaps just a simple accident? Nevertheless, his eyes stay on Quintien de Morbhan and his following for a long moment as they move to exit the festivities, before he turns back to the two Trevalions. "Thank you, my lord." He replies in a somewhat distracted tone before his eyes again finds the Duc of Kusheth as he vacates the premises with his wife, still holding Ailene close to him.

"It's isn't as though I am Papa's pride and joy, either." Ailene replies to Augustin, giving her older brother a smirk. "It was always a relief, though, that he was always focusing all his planning and bitterness in your direction rather than mine." She chuckles and then beams at his words. "You have no idea how much your words mean to me, Auggie." she tells him. "I finally did something to make you proud!" She takes great pride in /that/. She might have said more, but the tension in Thibault is clear, especially when he is again going into protective mode with her. She fixes him with a long, meaningful stare. "I think we should retire to our rooms, /dear/." she says ever so sweetly with a sweet but dangerous smile. In fact, what makes it dangerous is that it so sweet.. "We seem to have much to talk about, hmm?" More batting of her lashes before she looks to her brother. "I shall see you again soon, Auggie!" she says to him, her smile not holding that dangerous glint that it just showed to Thibault. "Joie to you, big brother!"

Augustin shakes his head a little bit as he settles back down, and chuckles at Ailene's words. He gives Thibault a little bit of a nod in recognition that the man was stepping to defend Ailene. He grins a bit at the recommendation that they retire, shaking his head slightly…and is about to say something else when the Crown is announced as going through. He steps back and offers a deep bow in their passage.

Thibault still seems distracted by whatever it was that happened, but when Ailene addresses him and proposes that they retire for the evening, he seems to snap out of it and returns his attention to his lover and her brother. His eyes fix on her with an intense look for a moment before he replies. "Careful now…." He says slowly, almost threatening, his eyes meeting hers with an intense stare and his own tone less sweet and far more dangerous. There is no hint of a smile to be found on his lips, reminding her that there is a line, and she is either close to crossing it, or perhaps she already has. A short inhale and a half-amused, half-annoyed snort has him relax again. "But yes, I think you're right, we should retire. We indeed have much to talk about…" He then says, a wry smirk now pulling one corner of his lip upwards, and the natural intensity held in his eyes growing as he regards her. There probably won't be much talking involved, per se. Then he turns to Augustin again. "It was a pleasure to meet you again, my lord. I hope you enjoy the rest of your evening." He tells the man with a nod, before turning to lead Ailene towards the exit at a calm pace.

Joie to you, on this Longest Night.

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