(1311-05-11) Day of Elua: Closing Feast
Summary: The closing feast of the Days of the Companions, held at the Ducal Palace.
RL Date: Sat May 11, 2019
Related: Days of the Companions
antoine armandine boniface cyriel farah garance jaide jehan-pascal marco ortolette symon yves 

Great Hall — Ducal Palace

High and light colored are the walls of the Great Hall, woods of golden tones used in the wainscoting that reaches till mid-level, with elaborate ornaments of fish chasing each other carved into them. A great hearth governs one end of the hall, with a large shield looming above, showing the coat of arms of House Mereliot. With six tall windows on one side framed by long dark blue curtains of heavy brocade, the wall opposite has a line of a couple of shields of Eisandine Houses, placed at regular intervals, and the pair of impressive double doors, through which courtiers usually will enter. The floor is of polished cream colored marble, enhanced with white inlay work depicting the ever repeating pattern of Mereliot fish. Lighting is provided through the lamps at the walls and three large chandeliers suspended from the arched ceiling, polished glass beads glittering where they catch and magnify the light of candles.

The Great Hall has been decorated with all manner of flowers and floral garlands, creating a different feel and atmosphere than that of the usual courtly occasions. There is a lightness in the air, rippling tones of a group of musicians creating music for ambience more than for entertainment. Armandine Mereliot is present of course, and even she looks a bit changed. Gone is the courtly hairdo, as she lets her honey-blonde curls cascade openly down over her shoulders. A pair of braids create the illusion of a second coronet beneath the ducal coronet she is wearing, golden as it is and adorned with blue sapphires. Her dress is more the flowing kind of gown, dark blue silk adorned with floral patterns embroidered onto the fabric. A golden belt wraps about her midst, pronouncing a waist that looks impressive still, considering that Armandine has given birth to a number of children. A number of flowers have been fastened into her hair as well, making it clear that today it will be about celebrating Elua.

Tables have been set up, with the ducal table at the far end overlooking the others from a dais, and nobility seated close to there. Further down, there is seating for the more common folk. After all, commoners did compete in some of the contests, and so a certain number of them has been invited to attend. Servants in Mereliot livery are making their rounds, serving wine and other beverages, while kitchen maids are carrying large jugs of ale to refill mugs at the lower end. The mood is definitely festive, as more and more people are filtering in through the double doors.

Ortolette has been established at table not too far from her mother's seat. Her chair has been left down behind the dais and out of sight, but she has been here since quite early to spare the most of the visitors the sight of her having been lifted into place and settled in. For now she is looking well, with flowers threaded into her roundel braid and a splash of wine flavoring her ice water — with the chair safely out of sight behind, she might seem like any other young lady in the court, looking over the gathering with a cheerful smile.

Cyriel Charlot had been a common sight at some of the events held during the Days of the Companions, and so it makes only sense to see him attend tonight as well. Clad in doublet and breeches of dark blue color, so dark they look almost black, homage is paid to the occasion through ornamental embroideries upon the sleeves, silvery thread forming blooms of flowers on the dark fabric catching the light here and there. His brown hair is pulled back into a ponytail, as usual, drawing attention to his hawkish features. Pale blue eyes glance here and there, taking in who is present, before he snatches a goblet of red wine from a tray and has a first sip.

Symon has come solo, at least for now, but he is wearing his finest clothing and has a fresh flower tucked behind one ear in observance of the day. He is seated a little further down amongst the nobility, and launches cheerfully into chat with his neighbors despite the occasional hitches in his speech that he doesn't seem able to help.

Into the great hall enters Farah Shamabarsin. The Akkadian and soon-to-be Mereliot lady by marriage wears her dark hair done up, and her dress if of d'Angeline courtly fashion. Peach is its color, and it contrasts nicely to the slightly darker tone of her skin. The bodice of the dress pronounces her slender waist, and the wide skirts flare out below. She lets her dark eyes roam the hall, in search of someone of her acquaintance. Her betrothed is nowhere to be seen, for the moment.

Seated ahead of the rush like the lady Ortolette — though somewhat farther down in the hall, where minor Eisandine nobility rubs shoulders with ducal retainers and certain of the cleaner and more respectable townspeople of Marsilikos — is Garance nó Bryony, with yellow and white daisies tucked into her upswept dark blonde hair and her new smoked-glass spectacles concealing her sightless eyes. Her linen dress is the yellow of a daffodil or of creamy fresh butter: high-necked but loose-sleeved, its skirts beautifully pleated. She has no plate in front of her, only a goblet of white wine somewhat watered down. Next to her sits the clerk who has lately come from Elua to assist her: a greying man in his late forties who seems a mournful presence at the feast, no matter how many times Garance's own smile betokens amusement at his constant whispers to her.

Boniface is late- maybe. Or maybe he's not so late. He certainly isn't early. In anycase, the young man arrives- dressed in what is likely his best clothing, considering the situation, and while he wears his normal exuberant smile - there is an underlaying touch of nerves. Why he's nervous is anyones guess.

Jehan-Pascal is dressed after his usual impeccable fashion, in grey suede tails with a white silk lining embroidered with purple flowers of which a glimpse can be spotted only here and there, rendering the detail all that more compelling. A paler shade of grey doublet below and breeches of matching wool are closed in silver, and a long silver chain holds a pendant of amethyst at about the level of his stomach. A crown of woven baby's breath, flowering rosemary and purple sage is girding his close-shorn temples, a fragrance as well as a visual statement. He wears tall black boots with a heel to them, and his whole outfit gives a nod to the bucolic hunter of old, while still and at the same time being entirely unpractical for any such pursuit. Still, whatever of a shepherd-cum-huntsman he is not, he is surely happy to herd along his cousin and newest Vicomte as he goes. "It's all well, Bon," he encourages the fellow with a ready smile.

Now that the hall is finally reasonably filled, the Duchesse of Eisande moves to stand from her seat, in one graceful motion. Her posture and attitude emanates warmth but also confidence and pride. Today's choice of attire and hairdo makes her look somewhat younger — or perhaps it is the flowers in her hair? Her voice meanwhile, does not show any traits of shyness or insecurity, it rings through the hall at a volume and with that certain timbre as befits the Lady of Marsilikos.

"People of Marsilikos, of Eisande, of Terre d'Ange and from elsewhere in the world. Whoever you are that today have found their way here into the great hall and now are my guests, sitting at my tables and eating and drinking of wine, water, ale and food that I provide. Today let us celebrate Elua, in this closing feast of the Days of the Companions. Elua is love. And it is His love that we need to remember now and then. It is His gift to us, a light in the darkness, and see how it amplifies when we gather! Later in the evening, I shall make the announcements of contests that have been had, and their winners. Each contest was dedicated to one of the Companions. Each winner will receive a pendant on a silver chain, with a depiction of the Companion their contest was dedicated to." She smiles. "But for now, I want you all to be merry!"

Antoine has never been one for wearing very elaborate clothing. This means his finer clothing is rather simple, compared to most. He steps into the Hall a bit slowly, as he looks around, moving to find his place. Trying his best to look like he didn't just walk in right this moment.

It seems, Farah's visual quest for familiar faces is not graced with success. And so she ends up asking a servant something, only to be guided over to one of the tables. When the Duchesse addresses the guests, Farah pauses in her approach, lowering her gaze as she listens to the words spoken by Lady Armandine. But then she is already moving again, taking a seat where it had been indicated to her. A glass of white wine is accepted, and Farah takes a good sip, even as she lets her gaze drift once again over the people that have gathered in the hall

The more that people get up and move about and switch seats and steal morsels off one another's plates amidst the air of license natural to the Day of Elua, the busier Garance's clerk is in relating to her their comings and goings and making sense of their noise for her. The first time she suggests to her immediate companions that they might like to play a game of cards to get to know one another better, these palace functionaries who've already worked with her on the duchesse's business, and the local merchants who take their cues, produce a stunning array of excuses — really, Eisandine creativity is a byword for good reason. But frightening some of them into flight has the happy result of leaving a chair or two empty near to her, and so she sets her clerk Ézéchiel to clearing a larger expanse of table in front of her — nudging a dish one way, a candelabra another — wiping up a spill left by somebody who made a particularly early start to the festivities… From a pocket tied beneath her yellow linen dress, Garance produces a handkerchief-wrapped bundle and unties it to reveal a deck of cards. She begins to shuffle them, displaying no more than an ordinary competence.

There is perhaps a table dedicated to those of Kusheline origin. And it would be here that Lord Cyriel is shown. With a slightly bored look to his face, the Vicomte de Chavagne elects to take a seat. He looks around, perhaps searching for some sort of diversion.

Symon lifts his cup with a small "Hurrah" at the pronouncement by the Duchesse that officially opens the feast. He remarks to his neighbor on how the flowers suit the Duchesse before craning his neck to see who of interest is in attendance. He has a swallow of his wine meanwhile. A little wave is offered Ortolette, but he does not necessarily expect a response since practically everyone in the room will know /her/. But looking the other direction, he spots Garance, and /she/ motivates Symon to leave his seat. He approaches a vacated seat nearby. "M…mind if I join the table?" he asks. He has no doubt that he needs not identify himself to Garance, his speech is distinctive enough.

"Huh?" It would seem that Boniface didn't realize his nerves were showing some, and he glances at Jehan-Pascal, "Yeah, of course all is well. This is a party isn't it? Why wouldn't it be well?" He's speaking quickly now, trying to perhaps to bury whatever it is under a flurry of words. He glances around the assemebled hall, perhaps looking for someone or something, perhaps not. But what he finds.. are cards, spying Garance just as she's unwrapping her package. "Excuse me," he tells his cousin, before making his way towards the impromptu card table. "Did someone say cards?"

Armandine seems to notice the commotion further down, preparations to clear a table for the purpose of gambling. All it does is bring a smile to her face. A few words are exchanged with a retainer, she then sends over to speak with Garance.

In fact nobody said cards. Nobody needed to. The flicker of pasteboard rectangles in the hands of a Bryony courtesan just calls out to some people, as if an angel's voice were summoning them through the aether… The clerk hasn't met Symon or heard his voice; seeing him address Garance he begins to launch into a description of the young man, only for Garance to arrest him with a soft laugh and a slight lift of one hand, whilst she retains her deck in the other. "I know him, Ézéchiel, he is Lord Symon de Perigeux. And he is most welcome to sit beside me if he wishes. Tell me, Lord Symon, how is Lord Étienne? Is he quite recovered from his tryst with François?" She gestures the Perigeux heir to the empty place next to her, feeling the success of her gambit already now that she has him for a bulwark on one side and Ézéchiel on the other, and her cards in her hands to give her something to do and someway to beguile: but before he can very well settle down and answer her, another voice interjects and she tilts her head questioningly toward Boniface. "Only a hand or two between friends; but if you would care to join us, my lord, I'm sure we'll be friends soon enough," she pledges to the unknown young lord, in a mellifluous alto voice straight from Mont Nuit.

Ortolette lifts her glass for the duration of mother's prayer and address to the crowd, her witch-hazel eyes lifted and gleaming in hope for even a long moment afer, until her arm wearies and she sets down the wine-touched water once more, giving her shoulder a little more assiduously to the back of the chair and looking sideways across the place, her attention arrested by Symon and his salutation, to which she nods and holds her hand out slightly to one side of the table by way of a greeting. But there are certainly more interesting happenings down away from the ducal table, and Ortolette doesn't begrudge his going along thither, only turning her attention back to her mother with a mote of curiosity.

Farah looks up, just in time to catch that inquiring gaze from daughter to mother. She hasn't really gotten the chance to get acquainted with Ortolette yet, and so this Akkadian half-blood sticks to observing rather than asking questions that might appear inappropriate.

Symon blinks a bit owlishly at this clerk who starts describing him, but then he smiles. "From his — Oh," Symon says, sounding somehow relieved in that one syllable as he puts together what Garance says, slipping in to sit beside her. "He w…was rather injured. Not sure if he can m…manage to come down today b-but he insisted I go ahead of him. B-but he makes every indication of healing, happily. Such dangerous games, duelling…" He glances over to Boniface and bobs his head in greeting.

As people starts moving about, Antoine remains seated for a little while longer. Turning to observe the people present for the moment, he sips some wine as he does. Those he knows a bit better than the others gets polite nods in greeting.

Did someone mention duels? Cyriel looks up, and considers Symon sharply. Not that he does recall seeing him at the duel contests of the Day of Camael. Yves though he remembers. Should the young Valliers lord look his way, Cyriel will offer him a nod of greeting, with an expression that is devoid of any warmth.

"There's nothing quite like a card game for making new friends.. or new enemies," Boniface says in half agreement as he takes a seat at the table, across from the other pair. Whatever nerves he bore earlier are now buried under the chance to play cards, "But since friendly is the only way I know how to play 'em, I'm sure it'll be friends." And then, because he realizes he doesnt know anyone- an introduction, "I'm Boniface Baphinol."

As Bon makes both a verbal and locomotive break for it, as it were, Jehan-Pascal smiles and hangs back a short while, before he, too, drifts in that direction, tucking both hands at the small of his back and just casting a shy glance over the proceedings from behind his cousin, not quite daring to join in, but at least keeping an eye on him and on things in general. On down the way a bit, in one of his quick surveys of the place, he spots Farah — he thinks it's Farah, never having met her exactly but having had her pointed out to him before. At this distance, he might be wrong, his eyesight being what it is, but he runs a quick hunt for anything about the place that might be shaped like a Marco, while standing at hand by Bonbon's back. Who is then offering introductions and reminding JP that possibly he should have done that ahead of him. "Ah — yes, my cousin, Boniface, this is Symon, of Perigeux. Symon, my cousin Boniface, our new Vicomte of Orange," he offers up with a warm smile.

Sitting with some others from the Camlach Houses, Yves notices the nod from Cyriel and returns it with his usual good nature. The young Valliers is wearing red and white wool, as is his usual garment, with adequate style and of adequate cut that nobody should think he doesn't belong, but at the same time, he is unlikely to remembered as one of the better dressed lords. He'd listened to the words for the day of Elua and had paid adequate due to the day before looking around at those gathered, wondering if he knows anyone besides those he'd previously dueled with — finding no-one he recognizes aside from them he begins to drift.

Farah is not the only guest of foreign origin currently residing in Marsilikos. But yes, perhaps her placement at the Mereliot table rather than the Rousse table might help Jehan-Pascal with drawing his conclusions. For now, the Akkadian lady of connections — a niece to the khalif of Khebbel-im-Akkad — seems to be the paragon of a shy observer. No Marco or someone remotely shaped as he is to be seen. But perhaps he is late, maybe he will join them later. This does not dim his betrothed's disposition. She enjoys her drink, obviously, and soon holds the glass out for a refill.

The duchesse's messenger sent down from on high takes a few moments to weave his way through the tables and the celebrating crowds, to Garance's side: he bends to whisper to her and she, smiling sunnily, confides her soft answer. Then, resuming her deliberately unspectacular shuffling, she redirects her smile across the table toward Boniface's voice and his cousin's which sounds an echo. "Oh — congratulations, my lord vicomte, upon attaining your majority… And — your cousin?" she inquires, regarding the two Baphinols — so to speak — from behind perfectly opaque black glass lenses of ingenious Siovalese make. "How do you do? I'm Garance Lesage," and cautiously she extends her hand, not quite halfway to Boniface, and not for a shake or a kiss but to offer him her deck. The cards are thicker than usual, the backs of them coloured a rich and regal blue, edged with a narrow border of gold and scattered (all of them of course identically) with golden stars besides. "Perhaps Lord Boniface would care to cut the deck for us? Whilst Lord Symon tells us the rest of the story of his friend's duel with a frog? You will find the cards are marked, after a fashion, my lords," she confesses, "only at the front, so that I might tell one from another by touch. It was Lord Symon's friend who had the idea to make such cards, when I lost my sight."

"P-pleasure," Symon says warmly to Boniface at Jehan-Pascal's thoughtful introduction. That latter Baphinol is also graced with a sunny smile before Symon is back to Garance. "Oh, heavens," he says. "I'm running things together again. They used to scold m…me for that." Whoever he means by 'they.' "Francois — I keep meaning to come and see you and thank you, b-but things keep happening — W…we're indebted. W-what w…was in your b-book was true and it kept us b-both from going m…mad, p-probably. I w…wanted to m-make you a p-present b-but I couldn't think w…what. He healed from that only then he w…went in the duel competition and got hurt again there and that w…was almost as upsetting as the frog, really. He came home in somebody else's carriage and —" He realizes he's been rather going on, so he smiles and waves a hand. "Anyway. Yes. He is all right. And w…we're grateful." All that said, he remembers this story is not only for Garance, so he looks toward the company. "Oh, ah…Francois is a foreign frog that I ended up in the p…possession of, and it turned out to be p-poison, and Etienne touched it b-but Garance had only just that day shown me in a b…book that it w-was only a temporary p-poison and not lethal so… So that w…was all right. Although. Etienne thinks w…we should find someone more knowledgable to take the frog." That he relates with some regret.

<FS3> Cyriel rolls Perception: Good Success. (7 5 1 7 7 4 6)

The Kusheline vicomte cannot help but overhear. He also manages to put two and two together, recalling someone called Etienne d'Arguil he beat in the second round at the duels. This, oddly enough, adds a certain lightness to his demeanor and bearing.

It.. does not clear things up for Boniface- not at all, and he stares at Symon for a long moment, before offering him a smile. "Uh.. quite. Still, nice to meet you," he says, before glancing back at his cousin- a wide-eyed look that plainly asks 'craaaazy?' before his attention turns toward the Garance and her offered deck of cards, carefully taking them in hand. "A pleasure," he responds to her greeting, before he cuts a third of the deck of the top setting it down on the table, followed by the next third before dropping the remainder on top of all three. It would seem, this is not quite his first time handling cards, and he doesn't try to hide any competence he might have before scooping the deck back up and carefully placing it Garance's hand. "These are quite nice."

The story makes sense at least to Garance, who played a part of her own in the intermediate episodes— she listens with a hand resting lightly upon Symon's arm and her ear angled toward him, nodding or making sympathetic faces as his narrative twists, turns, doubles back, and does somersaults. "Oh, but Lord Étienne already called upon me with lovely cheese," she points out; "I was so reassured to meet him for myself and to be certain that he really was all right. Healed enough, it would seem, to pay honour to Camael! He strikes me as a brave young man, as well as kindhearted and wise. You're fortunate in his friendship, my lord, even if he does give you cause to worry sometimes through your own care for him…" A murmur from Ézéchiel at her other side suggests to her then that Boniface is angling to return the shuffled cards: she extends her open hand, so much more a gesture of trust than it used to be, and with a, "Thank you, my lord," for Boniface offers them to Symon instead. "Will you deal a card to each of us, Lord Symon? The one who receives the lowest, will act as dealer for the first hand…" She names a simple game familiar to them all, played by children as often as by courtiers. "As it's the Day of Elua, I think it would be impious in us to wager coin, my lords. Why don't we play for kisses instead?" she suggests to the gentlemen assembled about her, in a demure voice belied by the lift of one corner of her rosebud mouth.

Marco ducks his way in a little late. One can only imagine or perhaps one might want to avoid thinking about what sorts of things might have kept Marco tied up. Still the Vicomte lets his eyes flick familiarly around the crowd. He smiles at a few and makes his way towards Farah, "My Lady, I hope I didn't keep you waiting too long." He says moving up near her from behind. His head tilts and a flicked hand raising in greetings to JP and Ortolette in particular as he considers the festive set up with amusement.

Jehan-Pascal has, for his part, heard enough of the frog story already that once he pieces together that the frog has been given a name, he is not at all put out or bewildered by the content of the narrative, and the baffled look from Bon only garners a brisk question-mark glimpse from his cousin, as though to wonder what the matter might be. "Have you asked after whether they might be of any interest to the Balmesque of Coquelicot?" he pipes up gingerly, a reminder, both, of a suggestion he thought most suitable, and also a bit of curiosity about whether it got them anywhere. Oh, hey, there's Marco, and Jehan-Pascal issues him a cheerful wave before he fully takes in Garance's reminder to name himself. "Jehan-Pascal," he does so, for her benefit, at least. Then, "Playing for kisses is the most egalitarian sort of wager. It renders the same prize to both winner and loser, doesn't it?"

"Lord Marco." Formal greeting for the betrothed seems adequate for Farah, at least at the moment. She cranes her neck a little and lifts her dark-eyed gaze to regard him as he appears behind her. She remains seated though. That look she gives him may appear a bit ominous. "You are here, my lord," she states after a moment of considering. "It is what counts. I think?" Sitting there with her back upright, a bit of tension can be inferred. But her smile seems to suggest otherwise.

"Oh, good," Symon says to Garance, missing Boniface's look in the meantime. He sounds relieved that cheese was duly delivered. "He rode in the horse races, too," he says. "I gave him a garland." Symon takes the cards so that he can deal a card to each as instructed. "Oh yes," he agrees to Garance's suggestion of a wager. "I think that is a fine idea." He looks to Jehan-Pascal. "W…we /had/ been thinking on those lines, only things have b-been so b…busy I haven't yet found the right p-person. Have you one to suggest? I'd b…be delighted if you have." He drinks from his cup that he brought along with him.

If the smile that creeps across Boniface's is any indication, wagered kisses are alright by him, however, in consideration of Garance, he still voices it outloud. "Kisses are a fine wager, as I suppose this isn't -really- the best place to be wagering clothing."

Marco smiles as he eases into a seat beside Farah. He leans in to murmur something to Farah quietly as his eyes wander the room. His seat scooted in towards Farah as he continues to watch the activities particularly the game that seems to be starting.

Farah listens to what Marco has to say to her. After a moment she nods with a smile. "There is a game of cards going on over there," she explains.

It would seem that Antoine has finished his wine. This he realizes as he tries taking another sip from it. Pausing, he gets to his feet, looking around at the various people present. Gaze going to the card game, but he doesn't move that way for now.

"I know one of the young adepts of Coquelicot fairly well, in fact," Jehan-Pascal offers, "But her canon is that of the Gentian flowers. Still, I can go and visit with her— and ask after a home for… what was it, Francois?" he tips a quiet smile that slants his words toward merriment at the notion. "I'm going to go and say hello to Marco. Don't lose too many kisses, Bon. Or win too many," Jehan-Pascal laughs at this little piece of paradox thus created in the gambling ledgers. And, breaking away from the impromptu gaming table, he begins his way over to where Marco and Farah are seated. "Marco! Hi!" he greets, casually garlanded in flowers and arms flung wide to invite the fellow up and into an embrace.

Jaide enters a bit late, the Ferraut lady looking quite different than she did on the day of Camael. Rather than armor she wears a dress of minty spring green silk. The neckline of the dress is rather modest while the the dress itself is form fitting. The wide sleeves of the gown are embroidered lightly with white and yellow blossoms. Blonde hair has been pulled into an elaborate braid with white flowers scattered throughout the style. The braid reaches down her back stopping at her waist. Stepping into the room she looks around for a familar face, looking a bit lost in the large crowd.

Garance's card just touches her fingertips where the rest upon the table; she turns it over and caresses the upper right corner of it with a curious fingertip, feeling the suit and the number embossed there for her convenience. "Two of spades," she pronounces, to encourage the others to say theirs aloud: "Am I the lowest? I am, aren't I? Then if we're all agreed… the winner of each hand, perhaps, gains the right to choose a kiss from one of the losers—?" she suggests, reclaiming her blue and golden deck from Symon and crisply and confidently dealing out four fan-shaped piles of five cards each, for herself and Symon and Boniface and someone else at the table who steps in agreeably when Jehan-Pascal absents himself to greet old friends. There's no Bryony but is a superb croupier. "Or if the loser so chosen should demur, in Her Grace's presence — for on Elua's day we must be wholly consenting, must't we," she teases, "they might offer the rest of us a little piece of gossip instead. That might be rather piquant, too," she laughs, placing the remainder of the deck where she imagines it will be within everyone's reach and sweeping up her own five cards with a graceful gesture.

<FS3> Symon rolls Gambling: Good Success. (6 4 7 5 5 7 7)
<FS3> Boniface rolls Card Games: Success. (1 6 6 3 5 8 4 1)
<FS3> Garance rolls Gambling+4: Great Success. (2 8 3 2 3 5 5 5 8 5 2 6 2 2 7 8 4 6 6 5)

Marco smiles at Farah, "Would you like to go and watch?" He offers to his betrothed quietly smiling as he squeezes her hand lightly reassuringly and surveys the group. He then smiles at the approaching Jehan-Pascal, "Hello Jehan-Pascal. Not joining the games? I see you didn't pick your outfit today." He asks teasing playfully as he studies the other man, "Farah you know Lord Baphinol yes?" He asks warmly.

"I shall be happy to stay right here for now.", Farah replies to Marco. Her tone is gentle. Dark eyes come to focus on Jehan-Pascal. "I haven't had the pleasure so far," she admits then. "Lord Baphinol, I am pleased to make your acquaintance. I am Farah Shamabarsin. Betrothed to Lord Marco here."

"The card game? Oh, I don't know," Jehan-Pascal waves it off with a boyish little grin, one that fades with Marco's comment about his outfit. "What? Yes, I did. What's the matter with it, don't you like it?" he glances down over himself to make sure his raiment is in proper order, and even pivots on a tall boot-heel to set is silk-lined tails swishing away from the backs of his thighs demonstratively. "Oh, yes," he brightens up to greet Marco's fiancee. "The Princess Farah, how nice to finally meet you in person. Our dear Marco's a lucky fellow," he flatters her genially. "May I borrow him for an moment, however?"

The game into which Garance has lured these young lords is a simple one of matching cards, in which one challenges the other players to give up such cards from their hands as one might desire for one's own: soon, after a few minutes' laughter and horsetrading and mildly, deniably flirtatious remarks from their sightless but insightful croupier, they all have at least a couple of matching quartets laid face-up next to their cups of wine. Still, it's the Bryony's collection of matched cards that grows the most swiftly to outmatch her opponents — quelle surprise — when they've run through her star-spangled deck, her last request of the new vicomte d'Orange is not a card, for he has none left to give her, but a kiss. "Lord Boniface, it's a little late for your birthday," she confides, smiling with rueful sweetness not directly toward him but near enough — it's a good try, "but still, I am minded to claim a forfeit from so fortunate a young man."

"Why. Yes. Of course. You may.", Farah replies to Jehan-Pascal when he asks for permission to borrow her intended for moment. She watches the two for a moment and then holds her glass out to a servant, for a refill.

Marco smiles as the two are introduced. He blinks at JP, "Oh? What's this…" He says as he considers Farah for a moment and rises but he kisses her cheek, "I am indeed lucky in very many ways." He says brightly and looks to JP, "What's this mischief?" He asks mildly in amusement after another look to Farah.

In his wandering around, Yves comes upon the gambling lords and their hands of cards and loiters with a drink in hand. He scarcely seems to be touching the drink, his eyes moving from player to player as he tries to get a feeling for how the game works. Nothing seems to be clicking however, so he mostly just watches people and their reactions.

There is luck and there is skill- and some card games require both. So far, luck is not with the young vicomte l'orange. Or so it would seem at first, though he takes his foul turn of cards with good spirits and great joy. It's quite clear Boniface enjoys not only the game, but the mechanics of it- the feel of cards in ones hands, the banter between players. And his smile widens when Garance claims the forfiet from him. "If I -must-," he says, with comepltly false and feigned indigation- a tone he can only hold for so long before bursting into a bout of musical laughter, "It would be my pleasure, mlle." And since he hasn't drunken enough to climb atop the table to offer Garance her prize, he rises, moving around to where she's seated, close enough that she sense his presence. Hopefully.

Symon is delighted to play at cards, and also delighted to not have the worst performance in the bunch. He laughs when it is all done and Boniface pretends to be put out. Symon drinks wine and then claps his hands together quietly. "W…we only ought to have p-played for kisses the first time we m…matched at cards," he says brightly to Garance.

"No, no mischief, I only wanted to make certain that you had time this week to come out on the waters with me. I wanted to celebrate your engagement before I left for Tiberium, and, heavens, that last week before I go is going to be… well, you know the sorts of preparations that will need to have gone on," Jehan-Pascal draws Marco into a quiet stroll, talking low and aside to him in the most familiar manner. "I'll be back before the wedding day, I'm almost certain, but I thought— a moment to celebrate your last month in the ranks of we bachelors, you know? Invite whomever you'd like, we'll make an evening of it, won't we?"

The feigned reluctance in Boniface's tone raises Garance's eyebrows, for she can hardly see his smile— but then he lets her hear it, and the corner of her own mouth lifts in reply, lending her despite her dark spectacles and her somewhat more numerous years an air of girlish mischief. "… Why, Lord Symon," she teases then, turning to him as Boniface comes round the table to her; "since you and I played just between ourselves, there wouldn't have been much suspense in that, would there—? But tonight is young, still, if you'd care for another hand," and then her clerk Ézéchiel, who has sat silent beside her all this while, waiting to offer such aid as she might require, leans closer and murmurs a word to the wise. Straight away Garance sits straighter and turns a little in her seat and tilts her face upward in question. "My lord?" she wonders aloud, extending her hand.

Marco considers JP and smiles, "Of course… have to get that in before Tiberium." He admits and nods, "You best be or I will be QUITE disappointed." HE says and blinks at that, "I'll.. send a list I can think of a few off-hand that seem likely but… you know I'm not so picky about celebrations except in so far it should be a party of renown extremes." He assures JP brightly.

Boniface looks just a little confused- and it echos in his voice. "Oh, did you want to wait till after more rounds were played to claim your prize, Mlle. Garance?" the young man asks, glancing toward Symon before looking back toward her and tentatively taking her offered hand.

"That is true," Symon says. "Although… I p-put it to you that for you there may not have b-been m…much suspense in the first place!" He looks to Boniface and waves a hand. "Oh, you ought not to p-put it off," he encourages. "I really think w…we should p-pay as we go."

"… There you are," Garance murmurs, sounding pleased: and were he anywhere else her soft words might have been lost amongst the great hall's joyous hubbub. But he's nearer and she's drawing him nearer still with an inviting, encouraging pressure of her fingertips into the palm of his hand, just between the two of them, for he seems all of a sudden to have a young boy's unsurety after all. "I think we must never postpone pleasure, my lord," is her opinion, delivered as she smiles up at him; "how can we be certain that it will come to us again, just so?"

"Well, I— will do my best to render the festivities thoroughly debauched, but, then, I am but one man," Jehan-Pascal laughs as he strolls along with Marco, "And may yet strive to live up to your standard. But we'll have a nice time, won't we?" he offers his hand for Marco to hold, and also a gentle and supportive squeeze. "Should we see how my cousin is getting on at cards, hm?" he wonders, nodding ahead at the table as their orbit happens to take them within range.

Perfect timing, really- Jehan-Pascal and Marco arrive at the card time just to in time to catch Boniface's forfeit. "You aren't wrong," the young man admits, confidence restored by Garance's touch, his smile present in his voice as she pulls him in, "Take your pleasure and naps when you can." And with that, he inclines his head, leaning slowly to touch his lips to hers- a gentle kiss, perhaps to start, but he doesn't pull back at once or anything, perhaps letting the hand's winner decide how much she wants to take.

Marco smirks at Jehan, "I'm sure you will." He offers warmly, "But it is a high standard." He assures and nods, "Let's see how it goes. " He glances to the card players and smiles, "Oh I see someone is getting victory though which one of them is the victor?" He asks playfully watching the kiss deepen.

"It really is hard to tell, isn't it? But that's Elua's blessing, today, I suppose," Jehan-Pascal narrates behind the kiss, leaning slightly against Marco, shoulder to shoulder, "Even the losers among us are winners. I have a guess as to which way this has gone, but I won't say out loud for fear of causing insult one way or the other," he recuses himself, happy enough to slide his arm through Marco's and stand there with him with a little tip of a smile at one corner of his mouth.

But it is not so deep a kiss — able courtesan that she is Garance lets her gallant loser suppose himself luckier than he may at first have expected, and then withdraws as soon as she tastes in him a growing commitment to their kiss. This, at least, is as natural in darkness as in the light. She gives her lower lip a little nibble as she leans away and then, smiling, confides: "You may play at my table whenever it pleases you, my lord. Shall we have another hand? Who would like to play?" she inquires of the lords gathered about her, giving Boniface's own hand another gentle squeeze before she lets go of it to turn back to the card-strewn table. "Ézéchiel, the cards—" And her clerk begins to gather them.

"I'll p-play one more hand if you like," Symon offers. "Though I suppose now you'll have several v…v…volunteers to lose to you now." Symon's tone is cheerful, bolstered by the wine that someone keeps refilling for him.

Oh yeah, Boniface is into it, and having gotten a little more than he expected, the young man steps back happy, returning Garance's squeeze before he finds his seat at the table again. "Thank you, Mlle. I will definitely stand another hand!"

When a spot is cleared, Yves looks to see if anyone is going to sit and takes a seat. If only so that he can learn the card game out of curiosity. "Lords, ladies, mlle.," he greets everyone as he takes a seat, and manages to come across only feeling slightly awkward. Not too much of a blush at the attention this gathers him for a few heartbeats.

Marco grins at JP and smiles, "That seems the case." He chuckles softly, "Well I'm glad they are enjoying themselves that's the important part. But I should go check to Farah I will leave you for a bit." He says warmly as he goes to slip back smiling in amusement.

When the card-party has reconstituted itself in a slightly different and even more illustrious shape Garance swiftly shuffles the deck as she introduces herself to the newcomer seated across from her, beside the un/fortunate Boniface. "I'm Garance Lesage — how do you do? We haven't met before, have we? I don't think I know your voice… The gentleman at my left is Lord Symon de Perigeux, and the gentleman next to you is Lord Boniface de Baphinol, the new vicomte d'Orange. Would you like to cut the cards for us?" she suggests easily, offering her star-spangled deck across the table in the direction whence came Yves's voice. "And then if you deal a card to each of us, we'll see who holds the lowest and shall deal in earnest for this hand. You'll find my cards are marked," she repeats for his benefit, not knowing whether he overheard her the last time, "but only at the front, so that I might tell them apart by touch alone… For the honesty of the deck," she smiles at him and admits frankly, "I'm afraid you must simply trust me."

"Really she doesn't need to cheat," Symon says cheerfully as he takes up the cards. "And I am rather sure she doesn't." He doesn't suggest any actual evidence for this, but only kisses are being wagered, anyway. He seems quite cheerful.

<FS3> Symon rolls Gambling: Failure. (6 2 1 6 6 1 2)
<FS3> Garance rolls Gambling+4: Amazing Success. (1 7 5 8 4 3 1 8 3 2 1 5 7 4 2 3 5 7 8 4)
<FS3> Boniface rolls Card Games: Great Success. (7 3 8 8 7 8 4 5)
<FS3> Yves rolls Mind: Success. (7 1)

"I'm Yves Valliers, son of Duc Valliers," Yves introduces himself and reaches over for the deck of cards when they are passed his direction. He follows her instructions then and settles back into his seat. "A pleasure to make your acquaintance, and yes, I know the Vicomte, I saw him duel in the celebration of Camael," he mentions, and nods towards Boniface. They hadn't met, but he'd watched the other young man's sword play. "What am I looking for in my hand?" he inquires, not having caught onto the rules as he spares a glance for his cards.

Yves finding the lowest ranking card in his own keeping rather extends the scope of his duties; Garance encourages him through them with good grace and a knack for anticipating a learner's questions, that too learnt in the salons of Bryony House, and soon the matched cards are flowing to and fro across the table as freely as House Mereliot's excellent wine flows into the players' goblets, conducing greatly to the merriment of their pursuit. Perhaps Yves has beginners' luck — perhaps Boniface is emboldened in his strategy by that kiss, or the hope of another — perhaps Symon has simply been drinking longer and more deeply than his companions, for he makes such a poor showing by comparison that Garance, victorious again, doesn't hesitate. "Lord Symon, will you oblige me?" she teases, resting her hand lightly upon his arm. "You did say you owed me a present."

"Delighted," Symon replies, laughing in the face of his absolutely abysmal performance on the second hand. He has rather been drinking. He puts one hand on her shoulder - lightly - and leans in slowly for a kiss that is not beyond the bounds of propriety for an event such as this. Then he breaks the kiss, standing up with a grin. "I think you could w…win the whole city of M-Marsilikos with your cards one day," he says, and having paid his 'penalty' moves off to mingle elsewhere, including an overdue visit with Ortolette.

Boniface doesn't seem all that disappinted that he didn't get another kiss- after all, he played much better this round, and that in itself, is its own prize.

The fact that he manages to come up with a better hand than anyone else gives Yves a bit of hope, and he doesn't seem to mind the fact that he isn't at the bottom of the barrel. He just enjoys learning the card game. "So, I should have .." he asks some question of the card game in the hopes of winning to play the game even better. When Symon gets up to kiss the woman, he watches for a split second and rolls his neck a little.

It's Symon's good humour in losing that earns him Garance's favour for those few instants when their lips meet to silence their mutual laughter; she squeezes his arm and then, feeling him begin to rise, lets go. "Lord Symon, a pleasure always," she laughs. "But must you go so soon—? Well, if you must, you must," she agrees, for beneath her own more calculated veneer of cheer she regrets the loss of a presence at least marginally familiar to serve as opposite bracket to Ézéchiel. Anybody might sit down there now; she is hardly in a position to ward them off with cold glances, or move away herself, as once she might have done. One possibility suggests itself, as she's reshuffling the deck and answering Yves's question with a diplomatic piece of advice on the wisest tactics for securing victory on this particular field. "… Shall we have someone else for our game now?" she wonders next. "Have you friends you might like to join us, my lords?"

Yves listens to Garance's advice with patience and nods his head, though she can't see it. His hands settling onto the edge of the table as he mulls over how best to make use of this information. Undoubtedly, he will fail to really capitalize on anything, but at least he's learning and the lovely instructor isn't as distracting as she could be for some reason. Probably because he's so focused on trying to learn. "I'm afraid I don't know anyone here, mlle.," he answers her. Turning his attention to Boniface, he inquires, "M'lord, how did you do in the tournament? I remember your face, but I don't remember who you were matched against."

Boniface offers Yves a grin, shrugging his shoulders, "Well.. if the object was to lose as quickly as possible and not so much as score a single strike against your opponent.. I did very, very well. So well, in fact, that I was senseless for most of the tournemant."

But before a fourth player can be found and a third hand dealt the strike of a silver hammer upon a silver gong summons the revelers' attention to the high table upon the flower-bedecked dais, where Armandine Mereliot is rising once again to her feet in company with the High Priest of Elua who has on this festal day been sitting at her right hand. Acolytes robed in the colours of five of Elua's Companions line up together meanwhile, at the back of the dais, each bearing upon a velvet cushion the pendant to be awarded in their angel's name.

When the hall is sufficiently quiet the High Priest speaks a prayer more formal than the duchesse's own, though with a brevity which shows the same compassion and loving kindness for his listeners. And then the Lady of Marsilikos speaks again, her voice sonorous and clear and easily heard in every corner of the hall (over those last few tipsy whispers!) as she praises the fearless horsmanship of Isabeau Cherevin, vicomtesse de Chailland; the well-reasoned arguments of Hélène Verreuil, baronesse de Poumarous; the true marksmanship of Timothée Somerville, heir to that house; the impassioned poetry of Jehan-Pascal de Baphinol, heir to his own; the indefatigable martial valour of young Yves Valliers; and the joy all the contestants surely gave to their tutelary angels, and to the spectators in attendance, by so offering their gifts and so testing their mettle.

The valiant winners are then called forward, one by one, to receive the praise of the duchesse d'Eisande, the enthusiastic cheers and applause of all those assembled who have been enjoying her hospitality for a merry hour at least, and the congratulations of Marsilikos's most distinguished cleric besides. Naturally as she drapes each pendant over each bowed head Armandine speaks a few private words to its recipient, revealing beneath the roar of the crowd just what close attention she was paying to their offerings and their victories. Jehan-Pascal is the fourth to be called up to her, and as the local boy being honoured amongst so many visitors to Eisande, perhaps the cheers are just a little louder for him, and perhaps the duchesse's smile just a little deeper.

A pause, and then Yves sort of realizes he shouldn't have asked. But in an attempt to salvage the conversation, he says, "Well, I think in honor of the angels, it's more about competition than winning. I think." This is also accompanied with a bit of a shrug, it's an easy thing to claim that its more about participation from the place of someone who'd won. As the Duchesse rises he turns his attention to the high table and listens, waiting for his turn to be called up, all the while he applauds for those who are called forth, for their various achievements.

Garance didn't see the contests and is in her heart of hearts a trifle vexed by the unceremonious ceremonial ending of her own, and the certainty that she's about to lose at least one of her players — just when he was getting the hang of it, too. But she places her shuffled cards in a neat stack in front of her and lifts her hands in applause that has every appearance of pleasure and warmth.

Boniface gives another little shrug of his shoulders. "I didn't expect to do very good. I'm not much of a fighter.. but it was fun," he says, "I just would have liked to have done a -little- bit better."

Jehan-Pascal wasn't in particular intending to join in the game of kisses, and is spared having to mke an excuse for himself by the ringing of the gong which, once he distinguishes its function, summons him away with a smile for those gathered at table and a brief pat to his cousin's shoulder on the way past. Head bowed for prayer, then lifted for remarks from the Duchesse, his hands clasped before him and his heels at shoulder width in a posture that would read as militaristic if he weren't such a bunny rabbit. After watching the proceedings on stage with the first three, he thinks to doff his flower crown and set it on a nearby table so as not to let it impede the pendant's chain, and he also thinks to worry copiously about what Armandine will say to him about the verses he presented so passionately to her box. Especially the lattermost set. Well, pale-faced, dumb-footed, he will step to the dais and find the heck out, won't he? Whatever was said, it doesn't make him grow any more pale, at least, and he rises once more, turning and offering a quiet incline of his shoulders and back to those who are appreciating his win with a sort of national pride— it makes his cheeks gain a soft pink tint once more and he dips his head and ducks away for Yves to pass up, next, lifting a hand to feel the pendant, where it hangs somewhat higher than his low-dangling amethyst.

"… But perhaps next time you will, my lord," suggests Garance to Boniface, leaning her forearm upon the table and inclining her head toward him. "The greater part of any skill comes from practice — just such practice as you had the other day. I'm sure you learned more from it than you know, yet."

The dueling contest being by far the most popular of the festival — some of the best fighters from around Terre d'Ange pitted against one another in Camael's name, providing entertainment a cut above Tiberian poetry — the acclaim which greets Yves as he makes his own way up onto the dais is likewise thunderous, and there's a table of young men his own age far gone enough in drink by now that they stamp their feet and chant his name as the duchesse bestows upon him his pendant and his well-earned praise.

Yves nods at Boniface's words and mentions, "I learned fastest at first, I think most people do, the more you learn, the harder it is to find a new lesson you haven't heard already, a technique that isn't already deeply ingrained," and shrugs a little, not sure he has made it any easier for Boniface to tolerate his lack of success, but he knows that sort of lesson always steels him against losses. Even here at cards- he has learned more, quickly, than he expects Mlle. Garance has learned in weeks.

Stepping up when called forth, Yves accepts the pendant of Camael as it is draped around his neck, and he turns to those gathered. His hands hanging at his sides, he blushes a touch at all of the eyes on him, then steadies himself and speaks directly, "All who compete do honor to the companions, I salute my fellow competitors, and those who have supported us," and with that he salutes both the crowd and the Duchesse with hand on heart, bows, and departs to return to his seat.

Boniface, of course, provides his cousin some applause when he's called up- but he's mostly distracted by the conversation at hand. To Garance, he laughs softly. "Indeed! I learned I don't really want to fight in any more tournemants! My talents lay.. elsewhere," he says, beforfe Yves is called up and he applauds the younger man.

The last prize awarded, the duchesse d'Eisande encourages her guests once more to make merry in the name of Elua and his angelic Companions — which suggestion is greeted with another burst of voluble enthusiasm as all through her hall people set about it: nobles and commoners, native Eisandines and visitors, old friends and new lovers, sharing the joys of plentiful food and wine and beauty.

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