(1312-02-01) Winter Delights Ball
Summary: The court season of the new year is opening at the ducal palace, as the Lady of Marsilikos invites nobility and foreign dignitaries to attend a ball at the great hall of the Dome of the Lady.
RL Date: Sat Feb 01, 2020
Related: None
andrei armandine arterre farah jehan-pascal justine marco zalika 

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 in a manner reflecting the theme of the ball, garlands of white icy flowers hanging above, some of them oil lamps with petals of glass. Walls have been adorned with tapestries depicting landscapes that are covered in snow. Servants are for once clad in liveries of white, with a less colorful representation of the Mereliot crest. Trestle tables have been arranged around a space in the center, deliberately left there for the dancing, with the high table being reserved for members of the ducal family and guests of honor. The first arrivals are already filtering into the hall through the high double doors, most of them honoring the dress code for tonight, fancy gowns, doublets and breeches in white and silver.

Her Grace, Armandine de Mereliot has just arrived with her retinue of ladies-in-waiting. The duchesse of Eisande is clad in a dress of silvery fabric, skirts and bodice showing off ornamental embroidery that incorporates fish. Honey-blonde hair has been arranged into an artful pile, upon which a headpiece of a silvery fish has been fastened. Long slitted outer sleeves have the silver interspersed with white. Approaching the place at the center of the table on the dais at a measured gait, the Lady of Marsilikos meets the glances of those looking her way with a kind smile.

Lady Zalika Trevalion has gone for frosty tones, a gown all in very light blue, embroidered with grey-silver winter flowers, and rather simple silver jewelry. Her other fashion accessoiry for the evening in a dashing mysterious foreigner, picked up in the Gardens some days ago. As they entered the Ducal Palace, she explains some of the rooms, paintings on the walls and other bits to him like a tourist guide until they arrive at the Grand Hall. "Well, this is it, I guess, never been to one of these big deals myself.", she explains quietly.

"Well, that certainly makes two of us, my lady," murmurs the man escorting the dark-skinned beauty. He's a tall, blond fellow, walking with a silver-tipped black walking stick and dressed elegantly — if somewhat conservatively — in shades of sapphire and pale blue; somebody didn't get the white and silver memo, or did not have time to have clothes made for the occasion. If he's a courtesan then surely that, at least, is an embarrassment to his salon. "Allow me to suggest that we just… fall back and watch how things are done, perhaps?"

Entering the hall together with her husband, the Vicomte de Toulon, Farah pauses for a moment to take in the winterly decoration. Her Akkadian heritage shows in the olive tone of her skin, but still, her attire marks her as a d'Angeline lady of station. Her dress is white, with a net of silvery chains worn above it all, glittering with painted mirror glass pieces. She wears no headpiece, but has combs of silver with pearls adding highlights to her dark hair that has been arranged in a courtly fashion.

Marco arrives in good time for once it seems. He moves in beside his wife with a pleasant smile on his face. He tends more towards grays than whites though his shirt is white enough with no small number of glinting glass and blue on his jacket and trousers. His hand stays at the small of his wife's back as he draws her in and he smiles, "Different than some of the last galas we've attended I suppose." He muses to her mildly His eyes surveying the area as he searches around smiling more as he catches sight of the Duchess. He glances to the other arrivals as well and leans in to Farah, "Shall we make the rounds?" He asks.

Being someone very much new to Marsilikos herself, Justine appears quite pleased and intrigued as she looks around. She wears her blonde hair captured in a white hairnet with glimmering white glass pearls catching the light here and there. For tonight's ball, she is clad into a glacial symphony of white lace and fine gauze in pale light blue, with white snowflakes embroidered on the skirts that flare out and give a soft rustle whenever she turns, a bodice pronouncing a slender waist and granting a decent view of a neckline. Shoulders are left bare, as pale blue sleeves embroidered with even more white snowflakes start slightly below, fitting about the arms all the way to the wrists. Glimpsing one familiar face at least in one foreigner, Justine will venture that way to greet Andrei. Or at least follow in his trail, should he seek to evade her.

Jehan-Pascal, himself, has opted to limit his silvers to the faintest of trims and fastenings. The rest is white on white on pristine white, silk on velveteen and fur about the collar and the tops of his white suede boots. The only gleam of color that might contradict the edict of this evening's wear is the pale amethyst that gleams just above his navel, hanging from its silver chain, and the matching amethyst set in white gold on his pinky finger. His clothes are impeccable as ever, tailored to his willowy form, and the only surprise to accompany his ensemble is his choice of companion— neither his favored courtesan, Marielle, nor the recent mother of his duplex primogeniture, the Lady Emmanuelle Shahrizai, whom he has on infrequent occasion managed to beseech to take Mari's place. In place of either is a relative stranger to Marsilikos, a blonde who approaches her companion in height even despite the heel of his boot, and whose complexion wears well with the whites of her velveteen gown, worn off the shoulder, and white silk choker. They walk together in relative comfort, dawdling in low-toned conversation, and seem on friendly terms, if not overly familiar.

"I suppose it's done as these things are always done.", Zalika replies quietly, "You raid the buffet, get drunk, dance, get drunk some more, dance until you make a spectacle of yourself, flee into the gardens and pass out under a hospitable shrub." She watches other people file in, a few of whom she even recognizes, such as Jehan-Pascal de Baphinol. Should the man look her way, she would offer him a half-hearted smile in recognition. "I suppose we should greet the Duchesse though. Have you been introduced to her already?", she asks quietly while looking around for the woman.

Anghelescu laughs very softly as not to attract attention and murmurs in response, "I think I may pass on the drunkenness and the spectacle, but we can probably get along with hiding in some suitable shrub." Then he looks up as the Lady Justine appears to be heading his way and offers her a polite bow, silver-tipped walking stick in one hand. "Lady Justine, a pleasure."

Neglecting to comment on the part about greeting the duchess may be accidental. Of course it is. I mean, would he ever.

The duchesse has settled herself at the high table, and one of her ladies is providing her with a fine goblet of wine, "Bless you, my dear," Armandine murmurs and lifts the drinking vessel to her lips, content for now to observe the arriving courtiers from afar.

"Different. Truly," Farah elects to agree with her husband. The smile that flashes across her features is genuine though, as she looks towards Marco. His suggestion of making the rounds is met with a nod, that smile shifting a little into a a quality that hints more at dutiful. "Of course, Marco." She lets her dark eyes look around. "It is what people come here for. To mingle, and perhaps to share the latest gossip. And dance."

With his choice of colors making him stand out even more, than a foreigner among d'Angelines already would, Andrei seems an easy target for Justine. Her blue-grey eyes narrow a little with amusement, as she closes in on the pair of Chowatti and dark-skinned lady. "Good eve. Monsieur Andrei? I see you have followed the suggestion of our mutual friend, the Lady Philomène? Where is she?" Justine glances here and there, before her attention comes to settle on Zalika. "My… lady? I could not help but admire your dress."

Marco looks pleased at the genuine smile from his wife. He guides her along and then he smiles, "Dance?" He asks with interest, "I would not mind seeing you dance." He teases softly. And as his eyes wander the area he beams, "Oh!" He all but drags Farah towards JP, "J!" He says brightly calling out to the other man beaming, "You are looking well." He offers warmly, "Farah says she thinks there will be dancing. What do you think?" He asks of the other man eyes twinkling as he nudges Farah encouraging her to greet his friend even as he looks to JP's compatriot, "And who is this delightful friend."

Zalika's eyebrow quirks upward. "My dear Mr Andrei - " Yes, she's given up trying to remember his last name, "I don't think we're quite at a stage yet, where I might consider hiding in suitable shrubs with you." And then the man stops to greet someone else and musters Justine curiously. "Thank you.", she responds simply and her eyes cut to Andrei, clearly expecting him to do the introductions.

"Lady Zalika, have you met Lady Justine?" The tall man in blue looks from the dark lady on his arm to the fair lady who isn't. "I'd imagine that you have — both of you being equestrians. And I, of course, have still to acquire a horse and offer either of you company on those rides, something for which I must make amends." He smiles slightly and adds, "The Lady Philomène is why I am here; I happened to let her intimidate me into attending, and Lady Zalika seems to be quite the skilled enforcer. I feel rather out of place." His blue eyes are glittering with amusement nonetheless, so entirely lost he cannot be.

When Marco drags her along to where Jehan-Pascal and his charming company are, Farah does not object. "Lord Jehan-Pascal," she greets, offering a hint of a graceful curtsey. "It has been awhile. How is your family? I hope everyone is well?" The question could be posed in all innocence and obliviousness. At least nothing in Farah's expression would suggest otherwise.

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

"Lady Zalika." Justine manages to pronounce the name without stumbling over the foreign sound of it. "Forgive me, but I am a stranger here, having arrived but a few weeks ago. You must be a guest of Her Grace, from abroad?", she infers with a friendly smile, before she looks towards Andrei, clearly amused at his counter. "Ah… so you are here because Lady Philomène did… what? Intimidate you to do it? This must be some sort of jest. And you certainly don't look like you are in need of a saviour."

Jehan-Pascal can't miss the Lady Zalika, and the smile he returns for hers is rather sunny in nature, accompanied, in turn, by a wave from his left, a litle waggle of fingers, which draws the dark-eyed attention of the woman to his right, who looks to Zalika in turn and then to Jehan-Pascal, who takes a moment, presumably, in introduction, albeit at a distance. They might well proceed in that direction but for the arrival of Marco and his Lady wife. "Marco! Hi," he grins lopsidedly at his friend. "Thanks— so do you— and yourself, Lady Farah, how well you look," he gives her a slight bow, less familiar with her than with her husband, but still warm in tone and expression. "I— I don't see why there would be no dancing?" he dances, verbally, as it were, around the question, as if half expecting it to be a trap of some sort from Lord Marco. "Marco, this is the Lady Favourite Tremaine no Heliotrope. She's kindly visiting from the capital, we're— getting to know one another," he settles on, popping his brows up toward his companion as if in silent conference over the euphemism, who mirrors the expression and then turns a bright, slighly cheeky smile upon Marco. "You must be the Lord Marco Mereliot, Vicomte of Toulon," she surmises, from the name and the familiarity. "I've heard a lot about you." Which, in turn, prompts Jehan-Pascal to speak up, "And his wife, the Lady Vicomtesse Farah," he completes the round of introductions, as it were.

The foreigner mentally resigns himself to the fact that no one in this town is going to bother learning to remember nor pronounce his actual name — it just doesn't roll off d'Angeline tongues as easily as the simpler 'Andrei', so maybe that is in fact a good thing. Philomène has succeeded once or twice, though he suspects that that was largely accidental. "Anghelescu," he murmurs all the same.

"Lady Philomène implied that she would be present tonight," the foreigner replies to Lady Justine's question. "In fact, she rather dared me to introduce myself by half a dozen made-up Chowatti titles and make a scandal out of myself, but I think I might refrain from that bit. I do wonder where she is hiding, and how hard she is laughing." From the amusement in his eyes, though, the Carpathian admires the older lady's deviousness as his gaze wanders from one courtier to another, taking in the beautiful dresses, the elegant men, and indeed, the grandour of the occasion. He stands out quite a bit himself simply by virtue of the darker shades of his attire, but there is no faux pas so severe one cannot simply ignore it out of existence if one tries hard enough. "I think I shall rather survive the ordeal, or at least escape mostly unharmed when somebody decides to toss me out," he promises with obvious amusement.

"I am Lady Zalika Trevalion, my father is the Vicomte de Beauvais.", Zalika introduces herself properly to indicate that she isn't quite as foreign as she might appear. "I don't think the Lady Philomene is keen on this kind of thing, but I don't know her very well. She strikes me as more of an outdoorsy type."

"You don't look to me like someone who would get tossed out of the ducal palace," Justine declares with a smile. "In fact, you are quite the eye-catcher, Monsieur Anghelescu." There, she says his name. "Especially, as everyone else seems to be covered in ice and snow." As Zalika offers a full introduction, it is on the blonde lady to look just a tad mortified. "Forgive me, I assumed… That doesn't mean that I'm not pleased to make your acquaintance, Lady Zalika Trevalion. I am Justine Chalasse de la Courcel, born in Namarre, but now of l'Agnace, as that is the home province of my husband." The explanation may be given for Andrei's benefit, who as a foreigner might not get all subtleties of inter-d'Angeline diversity.

Marco smiles warmly as he looks between JP and Farah seeming pleased as they caht. He beams always it seems happy to be around friends particularly at such slow events. He does look between JP and Zalika and looks curiously but his attention is back to JP's friend, "Favourite, Tremaine no Heliotrope. Quite the name. It is a delight." He blinks at that and chuckles, "Oh ahve you heard so much about me? Anything particular?" He asks brightly and he smiles, "Well welcome I'm glad you could join us for the event it's always a delight to meet JP's friends. I hope you will enjoy our hospitality for quite a time."

"The Dowager Vicomtesse does admittedly not give one the impression that she would strive to be at the very centre of the court's attentions," Anghelescu concurs. "Unless, of course, she acquired that attention by delivering a candid tongue lashing to some presumptious nobleman having just stepped on her skirts."

He returns Justine's smile with a hint of regret and nods. "Unfortunately it did not occur to me to bring a wardrobe in white. Believe me or not, I am trying to not draw everyone's eye, my lady." He's wise enough to not even hint at the realisation that one lady just mistook the other for a courtesan. Call it survival instinct. Probably the same survival instinct that causes him to quietly attempt to position himself not in the direct line of sight of the important-looking people closer to the dais.

Farah dips her dark eyes for a moment, but the smile that shows on her face gives away she is pleased with Jehan-Pascal's compliment. "Thank you. We were away from Marsilikos, on travels that took us all the way to Pointe d'Oeste. I have never visited Kusheth before. The voyage has been… very insightful." When the courtesan is introduced, Farah regards her with kind curiosity. "Mademoiselle Favourite, one hears marvelous things about your House." Which, in all its ambiguity must be a great statement to keep the conversation going. There is only the faintest of eyerolls at Favourite's remark, and Marco's reaction to it. After all, her husband has quite the reputation.

"A pleasure to meet you, Lady Justine.", Zalika replies, glossing over the mortification with a slight smile, "Have YOU met the Duchesse yet? We were just on our way" Hinting that she'd still like to go and meet the top dog in town.

<FS3> Justine rolls Composure: Success. (6 1 3 5 3 8 6 4)

"I have not yet, officially," Justine admits to Zalika, looking in the general direction of the dais. "You see… my husband, the heir to Brioude will arrive in a couple of weeks. I am not sure he would like me to be overly familiar with Her Grace, but then again…" Oddly enough, her natural charm seems to dim a little for a moment, as she lets her gaze drift. "I probably should pay my respects." As an afterthought, she adds, "I assumed, you were an ambassador, but I am pleased to learn that you are a lady of our beloved Terre d'Ange." There, clarified.

There is clearly no way around it unless he wishes to actively disappoint the lady whose escort he supposedly is. "Far from me to wish to keep you from introductions at court, Lady Zalika," he murmurs. "I will let you do the honours, perhaps? I rather imagine that as far as most people here are concerned, you are the person of quality and interest, not I. My familiarity with the customs and conventions of the ducal court of Marsilikos is limited to, well, now."

The moment of cheek passes from Favourite's smile, and her eyes clear of any salacious shimmer into a deep and earnest gaze of appreciation as she answers. "Chiefly what a bosom friend you've been to Lord Jehan-Pascal in his time in Marsilikos, and how deeply he appreciates your friendship and comraderie." Which answer, despite having no such designs, calls up a blush from Jehan-Pascal just as if she'd related something much less appropriate, but a smile, as well, and a hapless draw of his left hand to the back of his short, dark hair. "Well… it's very true," he coughs, mutedly, drawing back to form, and engaging the Vicomtesse with an arch of both brows. "Oh, gosh. That's quite the journey. I hope the travel was smooth and the locals hospitable."

Arterre isn't exactly a fixture at court—the young lord tends to keep more to his holdings and less to the capital. But nonetheless, here he is, a faint frown upon his face like the whole thing is modestly troublesome. He sort of perambulates the edges of the party at first, taking stock of who's here, who's talking to who…and perhaps most importantly, whether there's anything to eat. He spares his most thoughtful glance for Armandine. One wouldn't want to attend a ball like this without offering introductions to its hostess and most powerful attendee, after all.

"Please, you are making your existance known to the Duchesse, you are not getting into her bed.", Zalika chuckles at Justine when she speaks abut being overly familiar. "Come -" She isn't exactly a person of quality either, her skin tone marking her as at least one-part foreigner and thus blemished, but even so Zalika likes to grab the bull by the horns and get uncomfortable things over with. It helps having two people in tow, who are even more uncomfortable.

And so she walks on to the dais, waiting until the Duchesse Armandine may turn to look their way, then sweeps into a well-practised deep curtsey. "Your Grace, I haven'T yet had an opportunity to thank you for your warm welcome to the city of Marsilikos. I'm Lady Zalika Trevalion, my father Fabrice is the Vicomte the Beauvais in Azzalle." Just so she knows. "This gentleman is a visitor from the Chowat, Monsieur Andrei and this is the Lady Justine." It'll have to do, she has forgotten the rest.

Marco ahs at Favourite's response and he smiles warmly, "Oh? Well he makes friends like fishes swim so it's not so much but he is very dear." He says though Marco certainly looks pleased apparently easy to pamper. His features don't react if he notes his wife's eyeroll though his hand shift on her backside playfully, "Well you should come visit and stay I'm sure Farah can share more appropriate complaints of our shenanigans." He offers warmly, "People were in general quite hospitable I felt." He glances, "Though some have more commentary on my wife than others." He says but he leans over and kisses Farah's cheek whether she seems to require it or not though he looks to see her answer to the question.

The foreigner in blue who apparently is not even possessed of a last name offers a polite bow to the Duchess as he is introduced but otherwise remains silent; he is obviously just a walking fashion accessory, quietly hoping to remain unnoticed and quickly forgotten by a court that surely has far more interesting gossip to focus on.

Armandine is warned in time by one of her ladies and made aware of the group approaching her. The Lady of Marsilikos straightens a little in her seat, looking quite comfortable in her shimmering silvery attire. "My lady Zalika Trevalion, I heard you were staying here in our city. Please be so kind as to pass on my regards to Lord Fabrice. We are delighted to have you here." Her smile is genuine and warm, and the duchesse looks then towards the foreigner. "Monsieur Andrei." Her eyes show a bit of curiosity. "Of Chowat. We haven't had many Chowatti visiting, in the history of Marsilikos, but be nonetheless welcome. I hope you are enjoying the festivities." After which she falls quiet, looking towards Justine.

<FS3> Andrei rolls Stealth: Great Success. (7 4 7 4 8 8 8 3)
<FS3> Arterre rolls Perception: Success. (5 5 6 5 8 2 3)

"Justine Chalasse de la Courcel," the same introduces herself, as she lowers herself into a graceful curtsey. "My husband is the heir to the Comte de Brioude. Both father and son send their regards, and my husband especially hopes for the honor of an audience with you, as soon as he will join me here, in a few weeks from now, Your Grace."

<FS3> Justine rolls Perception: Good Success. (7 7 3 5 3 8 5)

Thank you, Your Grace." Zalika returns the warm smile and courtesy having been honoured, takes a step back to let her companions enjoy the spotlight. In fact she is now starting to look around to find where the drinks are stashed.

Anghelescu in turn studies the Duchesse on the sly; this is the woman who rules Marsilikos, then — the lady whom the otherwise so acerbic and devil-may-care Philomène declared herself willing to take a sword to the chest for, should the need arise. She must possess qualities worthy of inspiring such loyalty in one who is otherwise so utterly irreverent to the ways of the gentry. He commits her appearance to memory, observing and filing away the information for future use.

Arterre decides that if it's still time for introductions, he might as well make his own. The duchess surely knows who he is, but certain niceties must be observed. He approaches her seat not long after the small group lead by Zalika, waiting for an appropriate moment to speak, himself. He nods in amiable recognition towards Zalika before his gaze slides back to Armandine. "Your Grace," he says, simple and straightforward. "Thank you for the invitation. It is as ever my pleasure to attend." Which seems slightly dubious, given how rarely he's puttering around the palace.

"I believe, I didn't comport myself in such a way as to inspire any complaints?", Farah counters Marco's remark, her cheek twisting in a smile even as he graces it with a kiss. "They were very hospitable, yes, Lord Jehan-Pascal," she finally replies to his statement. "I have family in Kusheth, a few half-siblings and a mother, whom we visited."

"Lord Arterre," Armandine de Mereliot greets the young nobleman with a smile. One says that the blood of the angels flows in the noble Houses of Terre D'Ange, and in the case of the Duchesse d'Eisande it must be true. There is a certain air about her, a depth in her interactions and and attentiveness in her glances. "How delightful that you could make it tonight. My ladies, Monsieur, may I introduce to you Lord Arterre de Valais, Vicomte de Barrême." Her gaze sweeps back to Arterre and she holds eye contact for another ominous moment.

The Chowatti gentleman offers the short bow required by etiquette to the esteemed Vicomte de Barrême as he is introduced by the Duchesse herself. "The honour is surely mine," he murmurs, speaking with an obvious accent.

Zalika offers Arterre a warm smile when the man is introduced, then drops into another polite curtsey for Armandine, murmuring her excuses, before floating away. Clearly she's found another more exciting place to be, perhaps involving another acquaintance. Or drink. Or even both.

Arterre is either greatly composed or totally without guile, because the pointed stare from Armandine only earns a radiant, dimpled smile in response, as if he's only too happy to withstand her withering scrutiny. "It is my pleasure," he assures her earnestly, before looking over to the others nearby. "Always good to meet new faces. And it seems there's quite a few here tonight. At least as far as I'm concerned." One of them, though, rapidly retreats in the form of Zalika. Andrei he barely notices. After all, Andrei is trying so very hard not to be noticed.

But there is a blonde lady, young and of similar origin. Justine beams as she regards the young man. "Pleased to make your acquaintance, my lord Arterre." There is an obvious Namarrese accent to her speech. "I'm Lady Justine."

Anghelescu finds that the lady whose arm he is supposed to be decorating is even better at making a quick disappearance than he is; admiring her skill, he takes up a position near the Lady Justine who is also unescorted, a blue fish out of water amidst all the silver and white.

"I can't imagine that you ever have, Lady Vicomtesse," Jehan-Pascal will take to Farah's counter as a second. "And a family reunion. That must have been very pleasant. Did I meet them at the wedding? I fear it's all a bit hazy, I was just off of the boat from Tiberium and everything was still moving up and down." In fact, he was quite ill at the time, and barely saw the wedding day at all, but that, too, is quite lost in the blur. "But, yes, we should plan a visit. Or just have a night out, maybe. It's been too long since we've haunted the Wine Cellar together, fellow. I'll put a quiet booth on reserve," he offers.

Marco grins at his Wife's careful words and agrees with JP, "No. I could countenance no complaints of your behavior." He says beaming at his wife and he nods at that, "It was pleasant to see them. Yes her mother at the least was there at the wedding ceremonies." He offers and then shrugs and then he claps his hands, "Yes. An evening down at the wine cellar. I don't go reading there often enough anymore."

"My mother and her mentor, the Baron de Bardenac were both at our wedding reception. You certainly must remember Fleur nó Morhban, my lord." Farah looks from Jehan-Pascal to Marco and smiles, when both gentlemen come to an agreement. "The wine cellar… I don't think I am familiar with the place. I have heard of it, and only the best." After all, it is located in the noble district of town, so it can't be that bad.

Arterre beams at Justine in turn, possessing no shortage of enthusiasm, it would seem. "Welcome, Lady Justine, welcome," he tells her earnestly. "Are you visiting for the occasion, for the season, or are you to become a fixture around these parts for the forseeable future?" A question born, no doubt, of her accent.

Justine seems to accept Anghelescu taking up the role of escort to her. At least she does not edge away but holds her ground. A sideways glance is given to the Chowatti gentleman, reassuring and kind, before Arterre's pleasant conversational remarks and questions deserve a reply. "For reasons of health," she answers, in all simplicity. Looking all healthy and young. "I shall extend my stay, however, as I find Marsilikos to be very pleasant indeed."

Anghelescu manages to lift a glass of something off the tray of a livery-clad servant. He sips it, watching with quiet intent, filing away names and titles for future reference. He seems quite content to be, at least in appearances, a fashion accessory to a young lady of quality.

"Oh, yes, I must!" Jehan-Pascal commands himself rather ineffectively. Being on your side most of the day with your head over a bin for the vom is not much conducive to letting memories set, and he's still having trouble. But as to the Wine Cellar— "Yes, the place is sterling, Lady Vicomtesse," Jehan-Pascal assures Farah of the its reputation. "Then that's where we'll meet next. I'll consult my diary and you consult yours; we'll pick a date tomorrow," he goes on to arrange things with Marco, slipping apologetically from his role as escort to wrap him up in a big warm hug. "So good to see you, fellow. We had better go make the line for the head table," his apologetic aim shifts from Favourite to Marco et ux., and he steps back to offer an arm to the former once more.

Marco smiles at Farah, "We haven't gone? Then that is the thing we shall do. It will be a delightful evening full of good company and delightful wines." He says perking up brightly, "And we can even go dancing after if you wish." He smiles and leans in to kiss Farah's ear, "Shall we dance now?" He suggests and glances to the group and smiles warmly at JP, "Until then." He offers warmly to him and then to Favourite as he then moves to guide Farah around as well.

The young Vicomtesse de Toulon nods, returning Marco's smile brightly. "We should," she agrees, glancing over towards the high table. Offering Jehan-Pascal a smile then, she adds, "We shall be delighted." To the announcement of arranging a meeting at the wine cellar. "Mademoiselle." She nods her head respectfully to Favourite, but the way her gaze follows the Lord and the courtesan could easily be mistaken for a stare.

"I did not realise that we both face challenges of health," Anghelescu murmurs to the blonde lady whom he currently orbits. He keeps his voice low — not in the fashion of a man who wishes to convey a secret, but one who is quite aware that according to the rules of etiquette he should be keeping quiet and pretty; proper silence must be too much of a challenge for him after all, even at the risk of accidentally interrupting a lord. "My genuine sympathies."

Arterre blinks a few times towards Justine, not quite understanding the subtleties of her answer, but not keen to dig past them, either. Or at least, not at a first meeting, in the presence of so many people. "The climate is quite salutary, I find," he tells her diplomatically, rubbing at the back of his neck with one hand. "I'm glad you like it here. I find the countryside especially pleasant, myself. I've never really been much of a city sort."

"Some challenges of health can have their benefits," Justine remarks cryptically towards Andrei Anghelescu beside her in a conspiratorial murmur. "But I thank you for your concern." For Arterre she has an amiable smile. "Yes, indeed. I have heard much about the countryside, and I am curious to see it." That smile deepens, for reasons that become apparent when she continues, "My husband has been so kind as to have my horse sent here, so I am eager to ride out soon, to explore the more immediate surroundings of the city. I hear there is a waterfall, and a forest nearby? That sounds delightful. Are there any locations you can recommend, I should seek out in particular?"

Arterre is mildly notorious in certain circles as an enthusiastic but not very good horseman. There have been some perilous spills and at least one broken arm. So his next suggestion is mildly risky. "I could show you myself, if your husband wouldn't mind especially," he offers to Justine. "I only rarely have a suitable excuse to get out on horseback myself. There are some old ruins, less than a day from the city that I find diverting."

Not at all oblivious to the efforts of the young lord Valais to impress the Lady Justine, Anghelescu decides to drift off before somebody decides to accuse him of being a third wheel. He wanders, glass in hand, to stand near the dais, simply watching and learning names.

"Ruins? I would be delighted to see them, my lord. If you would be so kind as to take me along on an excursion, should the weather allow it?" Justine considers Arterre's suggestion. "Less than a day, hmmm. Do you know if there is an inn nearby at the road?" Her smile dims a little, but manages to intensify at the same time in the look of her eyes. "My husband would mind if I had to spend the night in the wilderness, exposed to manifold dangers."

Arterre offers a somewhat deadpan reply. "I would hear no end of complaint from my family, and my steward for that matter, if I conspired to spend the night in the middle of nowhere without a whole hunting party following after me." More measured, he adds: "I imagine it would be possible to make it there and to the nearest village with plenty of time. You might even manage to make it to the city, if you didn't spend too long out there."

"So would I come along with an appropriate number of Chalasse guards trailing along," Justine replies with a wry grin. "I have heard though, that nature around the city has quite the soothing effect on one's health. And I also suspect that it will be diverting to explore remnants of glorious eras of the past." It seems, the lady is up for a bit of adventure, even if most probably caused by a general interest in d'Angeline history.

Arterre bobs his head toward Justine. "I'll look forward to receiving a letter or something from you as regards your availability," he tells the woman. "But in the meantime, I should mingle and meet with a few other people before the ball draws down. A pleasure to make your acquaintance, mmn?" He smiles—before slipping off to go and circulate elsewhere in the gathering.

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