(1312-04-30) Spring Tournament: Closing Feast
Summary: What it says in the title.
RL Date: Thu Apr 30, 2020
Related: Sping Tournament
andre antoine armandine audrialla bastien belmont chimene etienne farah justine philomene yves zephyrine 

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.

Spring has certainly found its way into tonight's decorations of the great hall, be it through flower garlands that adorn the walls, the floral arrangements on the trestle tables to the sides, where various delicacies have been set up for those who wish to partake of them. Small pastries, some sweet and others filled with sheep cheese and spinach and garlic, sit beside slices of melon wrapped in smoked ham, dried plums baked in thin veils of bacon, and fresh bread and more cheese, laid out in a large plate to offer as various kinds as local Eisandine as well as some from the Flatlands. Servants in Mereliot livery make sure to provide any guest with a goblet of wine or similar, as they make their rounds among the guests.

Most in attendance are of noble birth, and they will mingle with ease, whereas there are also some common born guests, mainly those who took part in some of the contests.

At the high table on the dais at the far end of the hall sits the duchesse, Lady Armandine de Mereliot, attired in a fine dress of blue silk embroidered with gold, the theme of dancing fish a subtle reminder of the coat of arms of her House. While the table creates a natural barrier to anyone who will approach, and the dais that certain elevation that will make them raise their gaze to regard her, the Lady of Marsilikos seems to be quite in the mood of greeting visitors. Who knows? Maybe later in the evening, she might go for a stroll to greet people and engage in conversation with them!

The Flatlandish prince has not only contributed some fine cheese and beers to the festivities, but graces the hall with his own presence. He's decked out in finely spun Flatlandish garb of red and gold, the broad lining cleverly stitched with various heraldic signs with his own from Brabant taking pride of place in the middle. He is standing with a group of local nobles, having spend the last days establishing new trade links and looking rather pleased with himself.

Audrialla may have lost the Performance Competition but her delicious cake has garnished attention and, with that, additional customers. In this case, providing the Duchesse's feast with the delicate pastries both sweet and savory. She seems quite pleased as she hovers near the table, intent to replace anything taken away to eat with fresh treats so the table never appears bare. She curtsies often and smiles always. Even she has worn her finest gown in fine green linen embroidered with orange and golden floral scrollwork.

Wearing a stylish doublet with a touch of extra padding, nearing an arming jacket with the layers of linen and wool, Lord Yves Valliers has made his way to the great hall in a timely manner. Showing up for the celebratory feast, he frequently touches the spot where his sword should be, but once food starts being served, he can at least content himself with having a serving knife near at hand. Wandering around, a goblet of wine in hand, he tries to mingle with people, but for the most part just finds himself a spot to stand near to the food. Picking at things.

Philomène has never mingled with ease in her life. Unless one counts the ease with which she accepts the wine, barely having limped in the door before she's locked on to one of the servants bearing refreshments and plucked a goblet from his tray. This important duty out of the way, she makes her way with that distinctive limp-scrape of one foot over to the far side of the room where she can best pass silent judgement on them all. At least we assume it's silent judgement, and the pensive expression on her face is that rather than concern, deep philosophical thought, or a possible surfeit of eels. If we're honest, it's just resting Philo face, but that doesn't stop it being a rather imposing expression.

Andre looks rather alarmed by Philomene's arrival. "Quick, try the cheeses while you can.", he suggests to his companions with a nod towards the food on display. Well, perhaps they should wait until the Duchesse does a speech or something to open the festivity, but the cheese is in mortal danger.

Farah has arrived in the company of her husband a few moments ago. The Vicomtesse de Toulon wears a courtly gown of light blue, with fishes in a darker shade of gold forming a garland across her front. The light color of the dress pronounces her slightly duskier tone of skin, and the high waisted cut of the gown may be due to her special current state. The gown at least is sleeveless, but she is wearing long gloves of the same color. Her dark hair has been done in a fashionable manner, and Farah de Mereliot nods to Marco, as he heads off for a stroll on his own. She for her part has glimpsed the Flatlander prince and seems to be drawn towards him, lured perhaps by blonde hair, a pale complexion and a handsome visage? "Good eve," she greets André, then turns to regard Philomène, before she offers her a curtsey. "My lady.", she greets smoothly.

There is no word nor speech of greeting, at least not at this point, coming from Her Grace, as Armandine de Mereliot seems content to converse with a few of her ladies, for now. The fine foods on the side tables do not need any permission nor introductory words, as some lords and ladies can already be seen partaking of some. As her grey-blue gaze goes a-wandering, the Duchesse de Mereliot will pause here and there, a smile warming her features. "So many have come," she remarks to one of her daughters. "And I believe, there will be more. Everything is prepared?" This last asked of a female attendant at her side. "I think I would like to make my announcements not all at once, but give each at a time."

Philomène briefly catches Audrialla's eye, giving her a polite nod, then sips from her wine as she leans up against the back wall. One booted foot, spurs gleaming in the light, is drawn up behind her a little, an unconscious act to alleviate the weight on her bad leg and to draw less attention to the odd angle it takes, while she idly tucks her thumb into her conspicuously empty sword belt. It's probably all for the best that no weapons are brought in here, given the distinctly distasteful look she casts the way of the Flatlander prince. The other foreigner, albeit technically d'Angeline by marriage at least, is given a short nod at her greeting. "Lady Farah."

Oooh, Andre's secret favourite. He bows deeply to Farah. "Mylady. A pleasure to finally meet you properly. I couldn't help noting your radiant beauty during the contests.", he tells her smoothly, "I hope you enjoyed the festival?" He ignores Philo as such. But he keeps half an eye on the table with the Flatlandish cheese.

Audrialla smiles and bobs her head back at Philomene as she goes around the table. Blocking a certain section of cheeses even as the Prince studiously watches them.

"Lady Philomène," Farah smiles politely, and yet her dark eyes cannot help but study the older lady with a certain awe. "I heard you did wonderfully at the horse race contest." But there is André, and the young lady's expression warms considerably more. "You were there at the archery contest?" A faint blush touches her cheeks. "I must admit, I am yet quite new to the bow, but I had an excellent teacher. What about yourself? Have you competed in any of the contests?"

Antoine makes his way in, stepping a bit to the side at once so he can watch the people present for a little while. He looks a little tired, as if he's had trouble sleeping lately. His gaze moves through the room, as he tries to figure out a bit more what people are present.

"My horse did wonderfully," Philomene corrects, always happy to give up the limelight when it comes to her equine best friend. "I was merely fortunate enough to be allowed to ride her." She drains the rest of her goblet of wine, holding it up just a little to attract the attention of a servant. More wine. Clearly they're going to need to keep one servant dedicated to just the older d'Aiglemort/Chalasse this evening. And she's clearly a combination today. Although she's in her fine cream waistcoat and the deep black frock coat with the displayed eagle embroidered in shiny black thread across the shoulders, she's sporting a prominent bull brooch for her adopted house, red on a green and white field.

Andre dithers a bit. He could lie. But he knows the old bat is in earshot and wouldn't waste the opportunity to show him up. "I took part in the duel contest.", he admits thusly to Farah and tries his best dimpled smile. "I'm afraid I made a rather poor showing. My father always told me to train harder, but I guess I'm a man of peace, not a man of battle."

Another bull on a field of white and green enters, and never has such a motif looked more alluring than when embroidered on a dress, and in part on the bodice that pronounces a slender waist and a feminine shape. That of Justine Chalasse de la Courcel. The blonde lady sways elegantly through the hall, her smile is beaming and her eyes are glittering as she turns this and that way to greet familiar faces. "And there he is," Justine remarks as she arrives somewhere in Yves' vicinity. "The hero of the hour. I'm not sure I've offered my congratulations yet, my lord. Such youth, such martial prowess. You certainly must be proud of yourself." Says the future Comtesse de Brioude tilting her head as she considers the young Lord of House Valliers.

"Ah… the duels." Farah shakes her head just so, "I missed that particular event. But I hear, it was quite the spectacle. Don't worry, my dear prince. There were Camaelines competing there, and they are a particularly hardy stock. I would say, defeat holds no shame, in that regard, that you dared to brave the challenge." She pauses to request a glass of watered wine from an attendant, then turns her attention back towards André. "I am glad though, whatever bruises you sustained… they must be hidden." To Philomène, Farah adds, "My cousin Mirzeta is a very good rider, and I can't claim to have half as much skill as she. I might have considered riding in the contest… but then my husband and I decided that I should rather try something different."

Currently busy eating, Yves looks over at Justine as she starts speaking to him, and as his brain catches up, he quickly chews down the remainder of whatever he'd been snacking on. "Thank you, I had a good day, anyone could have won," he says, smiling amiably as he brushes his hands off. Wiping at his mouth with the corner of a piece of cloth, he tucks it away again. "I'm afraid you have me at a disadvantage, knowing my name as you do. Might I ask yours?" he asks of Justine.

Audrialla spends her time admiring the swirl of silk and brocades the nobles wear. Sometimes she seems to space out and just admire something in the distance. She continues to monitor the food offerings and makes the occasional suggestions for those uncertain of their desires.

"I believe I rode against her last year," Philomene notes mildly to Farah, choosing not to point out the relative standings of that particular race, too. "Excuse me?" she adds, waiting her turn when Armandine isn't actively in conversation with her ladies to limp in that direction and offer the appropriate polite thanks for hosting her. She might be a grumpy old cow, but she does know the correct form for these things, even if she has deliberately eschewed them on more than one occasion.

"Well, thank you kindly.", Andre smiles at Farah, "I admit that I was rather thrown by some of the different styles that were unlike what I had learned at home. At the same time it was a valuable lesson of course. If there's a war, you cannot rely on your foes to employ a fighting style you are familiar with, right?" The young Prince seems very much relieved when Philo hobbles off and out of his earshot and turns up his smile a little further. "It must be strange for you, so far from home?", he wonders.

"I'm Justine. Justine Chalasse de la Courcel, my lord," the same introduces herself amiably to the young Yves Valliers. "I know your name, as it was impossible to miss at the duel contest. I may have cheered for a different favourite," her eyes look briefly towards the Flatlands prince and his current company. "But… it remains a remarkable feat of yours, to have beaten other lords much older than you." She smiles. "You are very young, but… I suppose, Camael's blood is strong in you?"

Armandine pauses in her conversation, when Philomène approaches her. The duchesse even moves to stand, walks around the high table to descend from the dais to greet the other lady. "My dear Lady Philomène, I am so glad that it was you who won the races," the Armandine de Mereliot confides, in a tone loud enough for anyone to overhear. "I think, sometimes youth is overestimated these days, as often experience and the knowledge of how to handle an animal grows even stronger with our years. Lady Philomène. Might I ask you to step over here towards the window, so that I may present you with your prize?" There is a gentle smile, an encouraging look to where the double doors lead out onto the balustrade of a large balcony overlooking the city below, and the courtyard.

"A pleasure to make your acquaintance," Yves says and follows her gaze, and he simply smiles, though there is some repressed mirth. "I suppose we can't always pick the winning horse, or even the strongest horse, or the fastest horse, sometimes one just goes to the stable and says, 'Give me a horse,' and takes the first one with a good pedigree that can walk in the general direction of our destination," he decides, thinking about it philosophically. The question about his blood earns her a touch of a shrug, "I do not claim Camael's blessing, that is something for priests to decide. I just do my best, and train," he pauses here, for dramatic effect, "A lot. Did you compete in any of the tournaments?" he inquires.

"The duels were so violent," Farah replies to André with a faint shudder rippling through her frame. "Let us thank the Companions and your Gods that we are not at war. No…", she then adds to his question, "I can't say that I miss Khebbel-im-Akkad. Where I grew up I was pretty confined, in every aspect. I am also not that foreign, as my mother at least is of d'Angeline blood, my lord. I've gotten quite accustomed to d'Angeline lifestyle, I fear…" At which she tosses him a wink. "I wouldn't leave Eisande for anything in the world."

Antoine makes his way further into the room, nodding to the people he sees on the way. He shakes his head to himself, muttering something under his breath.

"Ah, well, I have been reliably informed that I could not take you home to the Flatlands with me anyway.", Andre tells Farah rather deadpan, but accompanied by a smile. "Should you have some lovely cousin of high birth or something though…" He'll leave it at that. Shopping for a wife like that is embarrassing enough.

"My Hirondelle won the races, although Lady Oriane did those of us of an older generation proud, too, Your Grace," Philomene points out with a small smile. "Mind, she's almost sixteen now herself," presumably the horse, not the Toluard, "so she's an old lady too." She purses her lips for a moment, then lifts her magnificent jaw, folds both hands behind her back and limps in the direction indicated. Presumably to cheering, or potentially the throwing of rotten fruit and deadly weapons. "I hope you at least made a few ducats with the bookmakers on my Hirondelle. She's never let me down yet."

"Hmmm, horses," Justine muses with a lopsided grin, pulling her attention off André to focus once again on Yves at her side. "I did compete in the race. The track was quite the challenge, but I made it. Not quite winning, but… I didn't… well. I did arrive at the finishing line last. My Snowflake had one of her vain moments, you know, and this slowed us considerably. Not that it wasn't worth the cheer, or… simply assuming they cheered all for us."

The contingent of Rousses presently in residence in Marsilikos — some as a fixed habit, some just on shore for the tournament — arrives fashionably late to the feast, quite literally, their setting out to the palace delayed by the sartorial exigencies of the ladies Chimène and Zéphyrine. The former's plain but gorgeously cut silk gown in Courcel blue was chosen well in advance, though not her jewels; the latter, however, is kept sitting in her petticoats till after their alleged hour of departure, whilst Chimène's sewing-women (under her personal supervision, the lucky creatures) embroider a few last silvery sea breezes upon the new baronne's lately-inherited, hardly-worn gown of Rousse green and blue.

"… Shall we get it over with," the future duchesse de Roussillion murmurs to Zéphyrine, sweetly sidelong, as together they cross the threshold of the Great Hall. She leads the baronne without haste but equally without hesitation toward their hostess, to whom she offers the curtsey of a great dancer transmuted into a great lady: exquisitely executed, but a degree shallower than most would give the Lady of Marsilikos. (Well, any lower and it would seem sarcastic, wouldn't it.) "Your Grace," she says pleasantly upon rising, "your hospitality remains the delight of Eisande, and today it affords me what I must confess is a particular pleasure— may I present," and she unfurls a long pale arm to indicate the younger woman half a step behind her, "Lady Zéphyrine Rousse, our new baronne de Filitosa. We so regret her father's illness removing him from a title he held with honour for many years," and as she speaks Chimène's social mask softens into a gentle and becoming solemnity, "but as the seasons must change, a new flower is blooming upon Corsica. We expect great things from Lady Zephyrine in her turn."

And when she's received congratulations on her recent natality and thanked Armandine for her kindness Chimène turns aside to exchange courtesies with the lady Eloise, heiress to Eisande, and the other Mereliot ladies in attendance upon the head of their house— allowing Zéphyrine her moment with the duchesse, yes, but keeping her ears open to the nature of their talk. She's alert as well to any signals Armandine might send — signals that Zéphyrine, in her youth and inexperience, might misinterpret or miss — that the said moment has come to its proper end. Should she decide her intervention is needed it will be timely, and graceful — and inarguable.

"Oh, yes, of course, I remember seeing you now, I was mostly watching the winner there," Yves mentions and gestures vaguely with his head in the direction of Philomene. "She was the only one I've ever personally raced against, and I knew she'd put up a good showing, so I made a few bets on her," he explains to Justine, and seeing as they are fully engaged in conversation now, and snacking is once again something he can do comfortably, he picks up some small finger foods and eats at them between bouts of conversation. "Did you make it to any of the other events? The melee? The performances?" he asks.

Armandine de Mereliot takes upon herself the trouble — or the pleasure — of daring a few strides beside Philomène, perhaps to be at her side in the moment, they arrive at the balustrade of the balcony. What Philomène does see, should she follow along out into the mild spring night, will be a horse down there in the courtyard, with a stablehand holding its reins. It is a proud animal, its fur is black, and it lifts its head to release an inquiring whinny. "It is a steed of Black Frisian breed, my lady," Armandine explains towards Philomène. "A rare breed to be encountered in these parts. It was brought here all the way from the Flatlands, some months ago, and I assure you, our Flatlandian guest had nothing to do with it." The latter part she adds with a faint smirk, when her courtiers alert her to the arrival of the Rousse contingent, and Armandine is forced to return inside.

"My dear Lady Chimene," the duchesse greets the future Duchesse de Roussillion, then turns her attention towards the young Rousse baronne. "Lady Zéphyrine. I am pleased to make your acquaintance. You must have recently arrived in Marsilikos? I hope you are enjoying yourself in this wonderful city?"

"I am a wed woman," Farah spells out the harsh truth to the charming Flatlander. "But I do have cousins and half-siblings who may be eligible." She chuckles and lets her gaze drift, as there are more people arriving.

"Well, I would not mind an introduction if they're only half as ravishing as you are, Mylady.", Andre tells Farah with a warm smile. He, too, gets distracted by the arrival of the Rousses and his attention is on the younger one. "I arranged a trade deal with the Lady Zephyrine.", he tells Farah quietly, "I believe it is polite to greet her, so if you'd excuse me…" He bows deeply to the lady and wanders off.

Audrialla is quick to replace whatever Yves snacks upon with another equally delicious treat. She seems to be absorbing the atmosphere of her betters with a polite and proper silence; good commoners are seen and not heard, and sometimes not even seen.

"I only managed to attend the duels and I rode at the races," Justine confesses to Yves with a soft sigh. "I found that to be quite enough, to be honest. I couldn't bring myself to watch more violence… You see, I am of much… gentler disposition and cannot claim to hail from Camlach's impressive scenery, nor have I been exposed to so much… unrest as you have at your borders. I prefer social occasions such as this one, and I would have loved to attend the performance contest but… I fear, I got a little distracted."

Zéphyrine smiles brightly at Armandine and curtsies rather lower than Chimene. Once she rises again, she explains, "I'd intended to arrive before the tournament, but, sadly, circumstances delayed me, so I have only been here for a few days. What I have seen of your city, thus far, has delighted me. It's been too long since I've been able to spend any real time here." There's a slight pause and then she asks, "Was that a Frisian we saw outside? I haven't seen one before in person, but I've heard that they're excellent horses."

Philomène does not immediately return to the throng of People. Why would she return to People when instead she can prop herself up on the balcony and admire the fine black horse in the courtyard below. It's almost too much to hope that this might be the prize. Foreign as the horse may be, Philomene knows a good cavalry horse when she sees one, and the look on her face is not, for once, a scowl or a glower, but the look of sheer joy, of love at first sight. She's even smiling.

"Khebbel-im-Akkad is far," Farah tells André, "too far for me to have a cousin fetched for you while you are still here in Marsilikos. Two half-siblings of mine were wed off in other d'Angeline matches. But if you like… I could try to write to my uncle, the khalif." She remains at André's side as he moves to greet the young Rousse lady. "Trade deals? Hasn't she just arrived?"

"I'll be here for quite some time", Andre assures Farah, though he isn't sure how long it takes to ship a pretty cousin from Khebbel-im-Akkad. "Do write to your uncle." They come to a halt, waiting for the Rousses or at least Zephyrine to take leave from the Duchesse. "Yes, she is eager for trade, too. The famous Rousse wines of course, some olive oil and … well, she served me a rather pungent cheese."

"Corsica is far," Armandine observes, "and I have observed that some of the nobility there often enjoys the island too much as to come here often." A faint jab at the other ducal House? If so, it is performed subtly, and with a smile. "I am pleased though. And I insist that you come and visit me often at the palace." As Philomène returns after a long moment, the duchesse addresses her, "Yes. That is your prize you may keep and take home with you. The horse has already a box at the stables. And I should be delighted to hear the name you will give him."

"The city is rather full of distractions, and there is no shame in missing one event," Yves confirms and turning as Audrialla replaces some of the cakes he'd been eating at, he realizes that she is there. He nods to the baker in greeting. That makes him realize something, however, "But this is Madame Malet. She performed by baking an enormous cake, and I must tell you, it was the best cake I've ever had," he pauses, "Or seen. She did things with uh, the stuff you put on cakes, the fluffy sugar? I didn't know someone could make them look so artistic," he makes the introduction to Audrialla.

"I shall write to him then," Farah promises to André. Nodding to what he has to say about Zephyrine, she hands off her emptied glass to a servant.

Zéphyrine laughs a little and smiles with a twinkle in her eye. "It is a journey, yes. Perhaps you could come visit sometime and we could show you why we love our island home, so. I shall, of course, come visit so often as you enjoy my company. But for now, I'll leave you to your other guests. It wouldn't do to monopolize your time now, when we could chat on another visit without so many distractions." There's a glance towards the balcony and a whistful. "He is a very lovely horse. I don't doubt I would have lost to Lady Philomene, even if I had been here, but it would have been nice to have had at least the hope of a chance at him." There's also a little smile as she spots Andre.

"Ah… that delightful cake I already heard rumors about?", Justine replies to Yves, extending her attention then towards the baker. "Mademoiselle Malet. I am so sorry I missed out on that particular treat. But perhaps… perhaps I can try to commission a cake for a feast of my own? The exact time will yet have to be determined though."

Philomène doesn't hesitate for an instant when she's asked to name the horse. She's been eyeing him up for some minutes and one can only assume the horse has intimated to her his name, using some sort of secret horse language that only she understands. "Hercule," she insists. "His name is Hercule. A strong and healthy young chap fit for a dozen labours."

Andre looks half amused, half worried at the fact that the poor Flatlandish horse will be living with Philomene. But when he overhears her giving him a decent name, his worry fades. He starts making a beeline for Zephyrine, but then he's waylaid by some elderly dame from Siovale who wants a word with the 'charming young foreigner' and he's pulled away for a longer conversation.

"A fine choice," Armandine agrees with a soft smile. "And I wouldn't have expected any less of you, in regards to finding a fitting name for him. Hercule it is. And I believe, we shall see you with him often in the countryside. "Corsica is a fine island," she tells Zephyrine then. "Now… Go mingle. Make acquaintances. And enjoy yourself."

Audrialla curtsies for Yves and Justine even as she starts to piece together a dessert plate of petit fours for them. Bits of cake, a tiny eclairs, a profiterole. "Whipped frosting, with blown sugar spires, and the dome was made out of chocolate with golden foil," she says for Justine's benefit. "My masterpiece, though it pales in comparison to the beauty of the winner's song. I would be honored to discuss a commission sometime soon, my lady." To Yves she says, "And a fine victory to you, my lord. So I heard. Sadly I had my duties to attend to."

Zéphyrine curtsies again to Armandine and slips off into the crowd with a smile, heading in the direction of one of the food tables, as she looks around at all the other guests.

Antoine has made his way further into the crowd, looking around at the various people. But still keeping quiet, he moves for the food tables, steps slow.

Farah too slips away, as she has glimpsed Marco in the crowd somewhere, glancing in her direction. There is music, and there is food and wine. And perhaps, the promise of a dance lingering in the air.

And then there is mingling. Awful, horrible mingling. People talking and smiling and occasionally touching their human parts to each other. Philomene claims another goblet of wine and returns her attention to the balcony. Or more specifically, the horse somewhere below. She's in her own little happy world now. It's a good thing she's got the limp or with a smile that wide nobody would recognise her.

As the two discuss cakes, Yves smiles and stands out of the way with his personally served plate. Drawing to the side, he eats and stares down at his shoes in thought. "Mm, yes, the duels, I understand, it was a good match," he replies.

<FS3> Belmont rolls Reaction+Reaction: Good Success. (6 4 7 7 2 4 5 4)

Speaking of duels. Belmont d'Eresse may be late to the feast, but he arrives, clad in doublet and breeches of dark green samite, sleeves slitted at the elbows to reveal a glimpse of an empeccably white shirt. The baron of Beaucare strolls closer to where the food is. However long it has taken him to prepare for attending this event, he must be starving as the look in his grey-blue eyes betrays. In his pursuit of food, he almost nudges against Zéphyrine, by accident. But it must be the blessing of the often trained reflexes of a swordsman that makes him evade her by a few inches at the last moment. "Ah, excuse me, my lady," the lord mumbles apologetically.

Justine accepts the delicious treats offered to them by Audrialla with a delighted chuckle. "Mademoiselle… you know I can't decline accepting these… Ooh. Companions. So delicious." She too falls silent, now focusing her attention on Lucullan delights.

Zéphyrine blinks at Belmont as she catches the movement out of the corner of her eye and then smiles sunnily at him. "Absolutely. The food is rather distracting, isn't it? I don't believe we've met, yet." For tonight she's in a gown in quite nearly the latest fashion from Elua in the Rousse colors of blue and green with silver embroidery reminiscent of the curls of a light breeze.

<FS3> Audrialla rolls Baking: Good Success. (3 3 4 6 4 5 2 8 6 7 4)

Audrialla blushes a little at the praise she receives for her cooking and baking skills. The food is good quality, salty or sweet or full of savory flavor as they are called for. She sees the crowds forming and making their way over to the table and backs away to give them plenty of space, making another curtsy for the nobles.

Belmont pauses when he catches that sunny smile. "I don't believe we have," he replies, and in offering a hint of a bow in her direction, he introduces himself, "Belmont d'Eresse, my lady, at your service. You… look like you're a Rousse, are you not?" Clearly, the colors are known and their implications are clear. "I can't say I've seen you before? Again… I must ask you to forgive me for almost bumping into you, my lady."

Armandine de Mereliot meanwhile, is making her rounds now between the guests, with an unobtrusive throng of courtiers following in her wake. "Lord Yves Valliers," Armandine intones, spotting the young Camaeline lord. "Would you do me the pleasure to join me for a moment? I watched you at the duels, and I have to say I was very impressed with your prowess and tenacity."

Turning his head from his plate, Yves is once again caught mid-snack, but he isn't about to delay. He quickly nods his head as he swallows, bows politely, and hands off the plate to a passing servant. Moving to follow the Duchesse, he says, "Thank you, your grace. There were many excellent performances, and I enjoyed the competition." Following in her wake, he folds his hands behind his back.

Antoine has found himself some food, and now turns to watch the room again, smiling as he does so.

Audrialla smiles at Antoine as he helps himself to the buffet. She bobs her head in greeting.

Justine raises her gaze and looks towards Yves as he is called forth to speak with the duchesse. A fine smile touches her features, and her brows lift as she watches the courtiers of the duchesse follow after them.

Zéphyrine gives the tiniest of curtsies to Belmont. "Zephyrine Rousse. I'm the new Baronne de Filitosa. A pleasure to not quite run ito you." She gives a mischievous little smile. "I only arrived in town a few days ago, so unless you made a habit of visiting Corsica, you were unlikely to have met me. But please, don't let me keep you from collecting a plate." And she steps aside to grab her own plate and add some morsels to it.

"The new baronne de Filitosa." Belmont inclines his head. "I myself just came to inherit a title I had thought I would never hold. Two older brothers. The oldest… he perished, and my other brother… he left us for Menekhet. I'm the baron of Beaucare." Well, at least he too has a title, so there it is. He seems relieved, when Zephyrine steps aside so that he can help himself to some fine treats for his grumbling stomach. From the corner of the eye he notes how Yves is beckoned to join the duchesse. "All hail the victor," he murmurs, almost to himself.

"You were excellent competition to those that competed against you," Armandine replies to Yves, pausing to face him. "You won the duels, my lord. And for this, you deserve a prize." She gestures for a servant to step forth. The young lad is carrying something in his head, something long and thin that has been wrapped into a scarf of blue silk. "Let me present you with this prize here for winning the duels. It is a fine blade, forged from Aragonian steel, and the hilt is the work of a gifted Eisandine artisan." As the sword in its sheath is unwrapped, there is an instant red sparkle, where rubies are catching the light of oil lamps and candles, a glitter of gold that has been used on the gilded handle, and the dark red dye of the leather strap that has been wrapped about it to provide a safe grip. "It shall remind you of your glorious victory, young lord Yves, and us of the excellent performance of yours that you earned it by."

Antoine smiles, offering Audrialla a polite nod. "It all looks so great," he offers, with a bit of a smile. Glancing around at the various people, very briefly.

Audrialla steals a peek at the sword as it's unwrapped. Her green eyes widen a little and she goes oooh. The pastissiere stands even on tip toe to see it better. She then recalls herself and stands back down. Belmont is greeted with a smile and another curtsy or welcome as he reviews the food offerings on display. And to Antoine she offers a smile back. "Thank you kindly. I am honored to provide the food for such fine company today ."

Bowing his head at the compliment, Yves bows his head with a touch of humility but smiles pleasantly all the same. As the blade is presented, he steps forth to examine it, and lifts it from the servant's hands by the silk. Holding the whole bundle for a moment as he gives it a keen appraising examination. "It is a most excellent gift, your grace, I am unworthy of such finery. I feel duller standing in its presence," he says and hands it back to the servant for them to give to him when he exits the Ducal palace. "I can think of few prizes greater, and I don't think I've ever heard of marriages arranged on tournament standings," he says, trying to be witty. He grimaces at his own words, just a touch, bowing to hide his face.
GAME: Save complete.

Zéphyrine flashes Audrialla a bright smile while collecting a plate of food for herself. She drifts over towards Antoine to offer him a small nod and a murmured. "Lovely to see you again." Then she finds a convenient sit and nibbles at her food while watching the gathering for a bit.

Yves' reaction earns him a curious glance from the duchesse. "Are you meaning to tell me that you would consider marriage, at your age, my lord?", she inquires. "And that you are aiming to woo one of my daughters?" Bold as the young lord may be, Armandine de Mereliot does not shy away from addressing the subject he may have meant to hint at so subtly — or maybe it is all just some sort of misunderstanding?

"I was told by a few experienced ladies of the court that I should start paying more attention to it, so on the first count, I am trying to be more attentive to the idea," Yves answers honestly with a high blush on his cheeks, realizing his not-so-subtle complimentary joke has been read a bit too much as a statement of intention. After a brief swallow, he raises a hand to sweep at his hair and says, "As to the second question, I am not trying to woo, I'm afraid that wooing is not something I was taught, I am simply, poorly, trying to compliment your grace's daughters indirectly."

Antoine smiles, nodding at Audrialla. "It feels like it's a win both for the hosts and for you," he offer. And then as he hears Zephyrine's words, he offers her a smile. "You too, my lady. I hope you have settled in well in this fine city so far."

Armandine de Mereliot hears Yves out with a vague smile. The way she regards the young man is not unfriendly at all. Can it be that she is just slightly amused? "Then I shall consider these compliments, indirectly," she counters. "Thank you, my lord. It behooves a lord of your station well to give some thought about his future. For now, rest assured that I want you to keep the prize you claimed. Time will tell, whether there will be others." Leaving it at that, she continues on her stroll, and there is some subdued chatter between the courtiers that follow her.

"Thank you again, your grace," Yves says softly as he bows and stays bowed until Armandine is out of sight. Taking a deep breath, he uses his cuff to mop at his brow a little and goes to find something heavy to drink. Finding a cup of something not too long after, he throws it back and then departs from the event, gathering his new sword, and old one, on the way out. He straps them both to his waist, two swords, like some sort of idiot. And away he goes.

"And now… for the other martial contest, the great melee, I want to reward Lord Aidan Delaunay with this particular prize," Armandine announces, waving for an attendant to hand her the next acknowledgement of one of the tourney winners. "A fine blade, a twin almost to the other one that Lord Yves Valliers received. But this here has emeralds instead of rubies. A green fire that may light your way and boost your courage, Lord Aidan." The blade is unwrapped from the cloth of green silk and presented to the Delaunay lord, along with a nod of Armandine's head. "The melee was a dangerous spectacle, and I am glad that once again one of our own was able to win the day."

Étienne is in his best tunic of black with forest green embroidery, wearing his best boots, dyed green to match. He is being careful with his wine tonight, and trying to follow the advice to talk less, smile more as he mingles. It is a beautiful smile, with good teeth and weaponized dimples.

Belmont's eyes follow Yves on his way out with their gaze. The Eisandine baron has managed to at least eat a bit in the meantime, and also in a manner not striving too far from the ideal of the perfectly bred noble — reigning himself in. Whether he caught anything of the exchange between Yves and the duchesse remains to be seen. For now, his attention returns to Zephyrine, the new acquaintance, as he studies her from afar for a moment.

The young Mereliot baron to be, Bastien makes a fashionably late arrival. He is wearing a dark blue doublet with a gold undershirt, poking through at the shoulders, elbows, and cuffs. He wishes he could say that it was something more than just banal and mundane responsibilities that kept him away. He quickly grabs a glass of wine and acts as if he has been there all the while, casually walking around.

Zéphyrine is all sunny delight watching the other nobles. She looks a little sideways at Belmont and gives him a smile. "I'm still very new to the city. And any moment Lady Chimene is likely to appear at my side and take me off to meet someone. So… do you have any advice on who to meet or who to avoid? Or any places I simply must see while I'm here?"

Belmont smiles. "You are asking me for advice?" This seems to amuse him and he lets his gaze sweep over the hall, before his attention returns to Zephyrine. "The opera is a place worth seeking out. Also… the wine cellar and the Golden Harbor in the noble district. Marsilikos has its own Night Court as well. You will find the local salons not far from the Place des Mains d'Eisheth. Then… there are the temples of course, close to the Jardins of Eisheth that overlook part of the harbor. Are you the religious type?", he wonders lightly.

One of the ladies-in-waiting of the duchesse spots Étienne and leans in to murmur something to Armandine, subtly directing her gaze in his direction.

Étienne, drifting near the conversation between the Mereliot Heir and the Baronne, he overhears the name Chimene, and ples rather, despite the early spring tan. His attempt to duck away only serves to make the Azzalese youth more conspicuous. He is a pretty thing and quite graceful, but has the extreme social handicap of having a face anyone can read. Is that fear?

Zéphyrine's smile kicks up another tiny notch and her eyes twinkle. "To be fair, I've been asking almost everyone. I like seeing what people say, which parts of the city they wish to emphasize. The gardens are lovely. The Wine Cellar was delightful. I am not overly religious, but I do my duty at the temples. You're the third person to mention the opera, but I simply haven't had the opportunity to go, yet." Her gaze tracks to Etienne as he pales and she cocks her head to one side, smile fading as she studies him with concern. "Are you feeling alright, sir?"

In the hall of the Lady of Marsilikos she herself is always and ever the point about which all motion revolves. A lesser centre of the gravity is the future duchesse de Roussillion, who, despite the time she spends in the duchy and her long and lavish visits to Elua, manages to keep on terms with the more relevant nobles of Eisande— whilst they in turn cultivate the good opinion of the lady whose absent lord will one day be master of the Rousse trade fleet. It's just good sense. After two circuits of the hall, devoted chiefly to introducing the new baronne de Filitosa to her peers, and administering ice-cold cuts to those less in her favour this month, Chimène has established herself off to one side in apparent modesty but actually considerable comfort. And there, she is never alone. Young men bring her things on plates. She sets them aside. (The plates, too.) Older people bring her suggestions, and some of those are more to her taste. Servants bring her wine. That, she never declines; she avails herself too of the opportunity which sipping provides, to cast a meditative hazel glance over the hall and pick out the house colours of a friend here, a bore there, or the glittering gusts of Zéphyrine's bright gown.

Philomène looks as though, horror of horrors, she's actually enjoying the evening. Either she's drunk (certainly possible, and if she's not yet then she's prodigiously doing her part to put a dent in the Mereliot cellar and making considerable effort towards that end), or she's been replaced by a pod person. Or, and let's go out on a limb here, she's just been blindsided with the presentation of a beautiful gelding and informed that he is all hers. The smile on her face is genuine, and she's even got herself a plate of something to nibble. Yes, occasionally she does glance towards the door, trying to gauge just how soon is too soon to ditch all these people and go and see the Flatlandish ambassador she's keen to get to know, but some sort of politeness is holding her back. For now. Like I said, pod person.

Bastien takes a sweet off of one of the serving trays as it passes by. Those that he recognizes earns a wide smile from the lithe young nobleman. Those that he doesn't recognize garners smiles if eye contact is made. He nibbles upon the pastry with the delight that is almost like a child enjoying a stolen pastry. In many ways, he has a childlike idealism. Occasionally, he pauses as one of the servants walks past offering whatever it is that they are carrying. It is not that he is restraining from eating or drinking, it is that he is restraining from taking the platter and slinking around and offering it himself. He recognizes Philomene and smiles. He walks to her side, "Good evening, my Lady. How fare you this day?"

Armandine murmurs something back to her lady, and that same lady nods and slips away, or rather gets on her way to fetch the Azzallese lord with that fetching noble pallor. "Her Grace wishes to speak with you," the young lady-in-waiting murmurs towards Etienne, taking his hand gently, should he allow, to lead him to Armandine and her throng of courtiers.

Étienne is caught. He is so very caught. He blushes to his ears and ducks his head, giving Zéphyrine a smile so sheepish collies are likely now converging on the spot to herd him away. He glances around, looking for rescue or at least a safe port, but finds only Philomene. Even he has more sense than to consider her a safe harbor in which to shelter, having met her before. He looks tempted though. Bastien looks familiar. He opens his mouth, then closes it again. Talk less, smile more. Right. He attempts to give the baronne his most charming smile. His accent is a not particularly elevated Azzallese gentry one, about as north as it gets in Terre d'Ange. "I'm fine. Um… pleasure to meet you?" He ducks his head. "Perhaps later?" He casts an alarmed look in the direction of the Chimene, but submits himself to Armandine.

Philomène eyes Bastien for a moment or two to try to place him, but her mind is rather more occupied with equine than human bloodlines at the moment and the name isn't coming. She plasters on a smile, dips her head, and decides on, "Good evening, my lord. How marvellous to see you again. You're well?" There. She probably got away with that. "Did you compete in the tournament, my lord?" she hazards, hoping against hope that he at least wasn't in the horse race, and that aside this might give her a bit of a clue. "And that one?" she adds, nodding towards Etienne. "He won… something? The performance, perhaps? I sadly," so sad, uh huh, "wasn't available to enjoy that."

"Have I been the first to mention the Night Court?", Belmont wonders lightly towards Zephyrine and not without a bit of mischief glinting in his eyes. But he too has noticed Étienne's state, and how could he not — with a face as telling as that of the Azzallese. "Lord Étienne," he offers as Étienne is led away,

"My Lord Étienne d'Arguil," Armandine de Mereliot addresses the Azzallese lord as he arrives before her so that she can direct her gentle gaze towards him. "You have competed in so many of the contests. And now I am glad to present you with a prize for the one contest you won, the archery…" There is a low murmur from those standing around them, as the duchesse gestures for an attendant to step forth and hand an item over to Étienne, something long and thin and wrapped into a cloth of red silk. That is, one part is, as it is actually two items which becomes clear once they are revealed. A fine longbow of Alban making, with ornaments on the leather that is wrapped about its handle. It comes with an ornate quiver of leather, filled with a dozen feathered arrows of excellent quality. "May it help you to keep your excellent aim, Lord Étienne," the duchesse tells him, with a gentle smile and a momentary look of warm appreciation.

Bastien chuckles. "You have no clue who I am. That's alright… I really am no one of significance. We met the other evening at the opera." There is no ire in his eyes. "Lord Bastien Aubrey de Mereliot." He cants his head, "But it was a good guess that I competed. I won the performance contest." The youth looks to the dowager, "Do you wish anything? Wine? Sweets? Just about anything but an easy out from all of this fanfare… I am stuck here for some time yet."

Étienne ducks his head to the Baronne and Lord Belmont again. He bows low to the Lady of Marsilikos, as graceful and efficient as a bird's wing. Then his cornflower eyes are going wide with delight, "Oh! It's Alban!" He handles the bow with a gentleness and reverence that is perhaps a hair too sensual. "Oh that you! It's wonderful, Your Grace! Thank you!" When he smiles like that, one can see the inheritance in his blood.

Zéphyrine laughs a little, though she's still watching Etienne be led off to the Duchess a little speculatively. "Well, I did meet a Courtesan from Gentian now serving at House Coquelicot, and I suppose technically she did invite me to visit sometime. I may go once I am more settled in." She gives Philomene a little wave when she spots her, her bright, cheerful smile returning. Then she looks to Belmont again. "I'm afraid I haven't met Lord Etienne, yet. Should I?"

"Of course," Philomene insists, looking almost hurt that Bastien might think he'd forgotten his name. "You were kind enough to offer us excellent seats to enjoy watching the dancers. I had no idea, though, that you'd won the performance contest. Congratulations to you, Lord Bastien." Yes, repeat the name, wait and hope it sinks in. Well, all these teenage boys are alike, really. She drains another goblet of wine, offering the empty vessel to Bastien with a gracious smile, then turning to offer light applause for this latest winner. "Aha! Lord Etienne shot things. I'm thinking later in the year we ought to run a mounted skill at arms contest. Target shooting from horseback, hoops, tent pegging, the whole lot. A good way to show off the heavier horses built for work not racing."

The circle about Armandine is of course as interesting to Chimène as her own little clutch of satellites; when it is augmented by the boy from Berck, making more of those funny faces of his, she glances away to see if she can spot Symon… He's not in evidence. Odd, that, given the way the two of them skip through life hand in paw. In answer to a question from her left she murmurs something about customary fishing rights; toward a question from her right, she holds out her goblet to receive more of that Mereliot red, fragrant and fruity and sweet. When Étienne has backed and bowed himself away from the duchesse, when he turns to retreat with his prize, he'll find fixed upon himself from a slight distance the hazel gaze of a not-quite-duchesse: regal and cool, unreadable.

"I have no reason to advise you against it," Belmont replies to Zephyrine. "I have seen Lord Étienne compete at the duels. And while I did not face off against him, He braved the first two rounds, until the final contest, where we had a lot of Camaeline competition." The baronne's reply he accepts with a smile. "It may not be Mont Nuit, but I have found the salons to be quite entertaining."

Bastien figured that he is just simply that forgettable. It is a fault in all performers, either you are in the spotlight or you are in the shadows. As he no longer feels that he is meant for the spotlight, that leaves him to the shadows. The younger man nods, "That would indeed be splendid. I always loved watching the warhorses trotting along in military fashion - magnificent beasts."

The Lady of Marsilikos looks very pleased with the reaction her gift to Étienne has provoked, and perhaps to have such an open disposition as he may add to the charm of his obvious glee at the prize. "You earned this," she insists gently. "So please accept once again my congratulations

In Bastien's defence, it's not that he's particularly forgettable, it's just that he's not seventeen hands of magnificent horseflesh and is thus immediately relegated to second place in Philomene's current frame of mind. She glances to the door again. Too soon to run off with her new boyfriend? "It's a fairer exhibition of skill than merely seeing who can hang on best while their horse tears up the field," she insists with a half smile. "And the risk of missing your mark entirely and being dragged off your horse with a live blade in hand gives the whole thing a little bite. It's always entertaining to see pretty young nobles dragged through the mud, isn't it?"

Étienne bows deeply again, "Thank you." He beams at her, all sunshine and blue skies." The he's backing away bowing. It is a this point, he catches sight of the swan's unreadable hazel gaze fixed on him and he winces, and nearly trips over his feet, but his dancer's grace saves him.

One young lady leaves the circle of the duchesse, glancing around as if she were in search for someone. "Ah, there you are," she smiles, "Lord Bastien." An apologetic look is given Philomène, "Would you mind if I abduct this young gentleman for a moment? Her Grace asked me to look for him."

Zéphyrine grins. "Well, really, who can stand against the Camaelines in that sort of contest?" She considers the glittering throng again and notes. "It may make me seem terribly provincial, but I haven't been to the Mont Nuit, either. I have been to several cities in Caedicca Unitas and several others in Aragonia, but…" She shrugs. "The last time I was in the City of Elua I was much too young." She winces a little at Etienne's near trip.

Bastien smirks slightly, silently answering her question. "I would rather see success in hitting their mark and displaying their prowess." Yet, that smirk all but says that he would indeed love seeing some of the nobles dragged through the mud. As the young lady interrupts their chat, Bastien places his hand over his heart. "Alas, Her Grace calls me aside. I hope that you have a good evening, my Lady." He turns his grey eyes to the young woman, "Of course, I am at Her Grace's pleasure."

Philomène inclines her head as the buzzing teenager is called away from her, then she aims squarely for another servant with more wine and limps in that direction to snaffle her prize. Zephyrine gets a slight inclination of her head in passing, and Chimene a rather longer, appraising look. Chimene has unmarried female relations. Philomene has daughters. This makes her direct competition for some of the choicest male catches in town, and it's good to know one's enemy.

It's as if she's waiting to witness it. That recognition, that wince, that stumble. And then Chimène's prophecy is realised and her gaze flicks away from Étienne's reversion to type (well, she thinks it is), to someone more amusing.

She sees him as he comes over and for a moment it seems as if she were intending to have a few words between aunt and distant nephew… until she changes her mind. "And now, I wish to call forth my dear relative, the future Baron d'Auzonnet, Bastien de Mereliot," Armandine announces to the hall, straightening proudly, as she gestures for one of her attendants, another lady this time, to step forward and arrive by her side. "You have delighted not only me but all of the audience at the opera with your fine performance. The cheer of the crowd and the jury have decided that this wonderful aria you did for us has earned you the win of the performance contest. Now. What could I possibly offer as an adequate prize to you, when you need nothing to aid you with your particular gift?", the duchesse continues. "Accept this therefore as a token of appreciation. A fine cloak in the ultramarine hue of House Mereliot, with golden fish ornaments at the hem. It has a golden clasp in the shape of a lyre, as to point to your affinity to the arts." Armandine gestures for her lady to hand the cloak to her, and the duchesse herself drapes it around Bastien's shoulders, and fastens the clasp. "Congratulations again for bringing honor to House Mereliot and our patron Angel. I am proud of you."

Étienne retreats in the direction of the others, taking refuge behind the bibulous Chalasse. "That was truly excellent riding My Lady. It was a pleasure to lose to one so skilled."

The Arguil heir is blushing again at the mention of Mont Nuit in Elua, "We were… invited to the Longest Night celebration there." His enthusiasm for this next is quite real, "You should have seen the costumes! There is nothing quite so lovely and there was dancing!" He blinks long black lashes at Zephrine from behind Philomene. He is a bit shorter than his living shield. "Aria? I thought he was the poet. I mean the other poet. Not my cousin. Oh! that is a lovely cloak!"

Bastien bows deeply, letting the cloak flow about him. "That you, Your Grace. I am delighted that I was given the opportunity to perform for you and those present and more the honored that it pleased you. I am your songbird, should you ever find the day dull." He reaches up, subconsciously and fingers the broach. He backs away a few feet, bows yet again, then turns sharply to make the fabric twirl about him. He smiles, "It is a fine cloak, Your Grace." There is no doubt that he is delighted with it.

Philomène glances back over her shoulder as she becomes the barrier between Etienne and anyone else, immediately drawing herself to her full height as though defence of this border is just as important as that of Camlach. How to rouse a d'Aiglemort 101. Give her something to fight for. "Again," she notes in a low drawl, lifting her goblet of wine briefly, "it's down to the horses more than the riders. My Hirondelle is as swift as her namesake." There. In case Hirondelle thought, from her stable, that Philo had forgotten her in her excitement over Hercule.

Belmont applauds for Bastien, clearly feeling the words the Duchesse has addressed to her relative. "We are after all Eisandine," he remarks towards Zéphyrine, with a smile. "I've been abroad too, but only for some travels to Caerdicca Unitas and Aragonia, by ship. Nothing of longer duration that would have kept me from…" He leaves the sentence unfinished, lowering his gaze with a smile. This may be Eisande, but even a d'Angeline can be subtle at times.

It fits you well," Armandine de Mereliot decides, regarding Bastien in his cloak with pride. "And I daresay, I shall take you up on your offer, on a dull rainy morning."

Bastien stands up proudly. He gives a sharp nod of his head. "Call and I shall answer." He chews lightly on his lower lip. "Thank you again, Your Grace. I will not take up more of your time. I understand that you are ever busy. Heavy is the crown after all." The youth is quite happy to go show off his new pretty. He cannot wait to take it to the night court and show it off to his friends there.

Zéphyrine gives Etienne one of her sunniest smiles, at least the bit she can see. "It sounds quite lovely. Perhaps I'll be able to go next year." And then to Philomene, once she blocks the view of the younger lord. "I really am sad that I did not arrive in time for the race, or… any of the competitions, really." Then she laughs happily at Belmont's comment. "Oh, well. I'm sure I shall visit eventually. But my lands are on Corsica, so I've mostly lived on the island." And she is really quite young for a Baronne. Her smiles fades a little. "My older brother died, so… I'm afraid we worried about more about fitting me for my title. There should be plenty of time for assignations and love, in general, yet."

Étienne nods, "Symon and I have to borrow them when we want to ride, so it's a bit hit and miss. Your horse was truly magnificent. I keep wishing out Agnes could have seen you ride her." He peeks out enough from behind her head to study Belmont, "I've seen you fight, I think." The bit about Corsica is so interesting to Etienne he half emerges from behind the formidable lady, "Corsica? Oh! Is it as lovely as they say? I do love sail-" He wilts rather at the news about her title and half hides again.

Philomène allows her charge to poke his head out, glancing aside and raising a brow. "Well, you don't look old enough to have seen any fighting," she notes in surprise, then shakes her head and considers the door again. "Will you excuse me, please?" she adds in the general direction of the room, beginning to sidle-limp her way towards the exit and her waiting horse.

"I can understand that very well," Belmont assures Zephyrine. "As for missing competitions… The race track at the hippodrome can be used throughout the year, I think. Perhaps… if you like, there'd be the possibility of having a private race, not one that will have many spectators. So, while that wouldn't prove an opportunity for earning fame, it could still be worthwhile." To Étienne, he nods. "I was at the duels, my lord. It must have been there you've seen me."

Zéphyrine gives a cheery wave to Philomene as she leaves and then nods excitedly to Etienne. "Corsica is stunning, though… I suppose I have to say that. But I really do wish I could show more people how beautiful it is. And, of course, I'm a Rousse… we might as well be born sailing." She grins at Belmont. "Oh, that's a lovely idea. I did bring my own horse from home, though I'd like to give her a little more time to settle after her sea voyage before I test her."

Étienne says, "Oh! We fight off border raids…" He looks like a deer about to bolt as his accidental protector starts to limp off. It's a close thing. He glances in the direction of the Swan, but seeing no likelihood of her swooping towards them stands his ground. "It must have been there, yes. I get knocked on my head a lot." A self deprecating smile. Zéphyrine's wave reminds him of his manners and he bows to the departing Philomene. He gives Zéphyrine a quick, genuine smile,"I'd like to hear more about it, but… a glance at that other second swirl of activity around chimene, "How close, um, are you to the Lady you mentioned earlier?"

"Just let me know, when your horse is settled and ready for a ride," Belmont suggests to Zéphyrine, "I have lodgings at the Eresse residence here in the city. Also, the countryside around here is quite remarkable. There is a forest not too far, and also a waterfall."

Zéphyrine beams at Belmont. "I absolutely will. I'm staying at the Rousse residence, of course, but for the moment my horse is in the public stables. Eventually, we'll move her to the private ones, but with everyone in town for the tournament, all our stalls were full." She considers Etienne, but where Chimene is all icy chill, Zephyrine takes after her namesake, much warmer and more playful. "Well, she is the effective head of the House in the city. As such, she has somewhat taken me under her wing, so to speak. But I suppose it depends on what you mean by close." She smiles just a little mischievously. "I am certainly allowed to make friends and acquaintances where I will. And… I'm a Rousse, talking of ships and islands is never out of place."

Étienne shudders at the mention of the swan's wing. He considers, "I'm not…" He tries again, "I'm heir, but to the cadet branch. We're not what we were…. Have you met Symon? De Perigeux, I mean?" Because apparently this babbling makes sense to him. He blinks those large lapis eyes at them.

Belmont nods and smiles, "I shall await your message then, but for now, I must beg you to excuse me…" His grey-blue eyes may have glimpsed someone in the crowd he has to have a few words with. "Until then, enjoy yourself." A bow is offered to both of them, before the Eresse lord leaves them to their conversation.

Zéphyrine nods a bit encouragingly to Etienne. "I was just made Baronne a few months ago - my father is still living, but needed to abdicate for health reasons." And then she blinks and laughs. "I did, actually, meet him the other day. And the place which serve Kahve. He seemed very nice, if a little nervous." Then she gives Belmont another sunny smile. "I shall send one soon, have a pleasant evening."

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