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Stars and High Society: The Perrault Ball

Alistair Casuana's Photo Alistair Casuana 23 Jul 2017


Alistair looked over at Ari, stunned.

There was a hitch in her voice that had drawn his attention at once. He couldn't stop himself from looking at her, and regretted it almost immediately.

She was close, so very close, but it was not just that. Her eyes weren't full of disdain or pity or anything of the like. She simply looked...sad. Guilty, even. He wasn't sure he'd ever seen her look that way before, and it hurt.

Yet, even as he looked at her, his neck prickled with the knowledge that they were not alone. The noise of the ball surrounded them, but it wouldn't hide them.

He swallowed what he might have said, and tried--very gently--to pull them back into motion. Somewhere quieter. They had to go somewhere quieter.

In the meantime, all he could offer was a few gentle words, "Do I need a reason to want you to be happy, my lady?"
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Arisella Blanchart's Photo Arisella Blanchart 24 Jul 2017

Why didn't Alistair understand? Of course he needed a reason, after what she'd done! He was supposed to be angry with her, or even hate her, after what she'd done to him! Why was he being so kind to her? Why, after everything she'd put him through, did he wish for her happiness and make no mention of his own? How had he somehow grown into an even more incredible man than he was before, while she remained selfish and immature? He pulled gently on her arm, and she allowed herself to be led away, into one of the private alcoves to the side of the room. She tried to speak on the way, but every time she tried, nothing came out. So she clung tightly to his arm until they reached their destination.

Where she promptly burst into tears.

"I was horrible to you!" she blurted out. "You were the best thing that ever happened to me and I threw it all away because I was a stupid child and I didn't understand! I don't deserve this kindness and I've been so scared to talk to you even though all I've ever wanted is to see you again and beg for forgiveness because I love you more than anything and--"

Her eyes went wide when she realized what she'd allowed to slip out in that torrent, and she gasped, clapping her hands over her mouth with wide, shocked eyes. Why had she said that? They hadn't even used that word when they were together, and she hurled it at him now of all times? How horrible could she be? How much would it hurt him, hearing that now, no matter how true it was.

She needed to leave. She needed to run, to get out of here, to go home and hide and never appear in society ever again. That was the only way she could stop hurting him. But she was stuck, frozen in place, staring in shock and horror at nothing in particular, waiting helplessly for him to respond.
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Alistair Casuana's Photo Alistair Casuana 24 Jul 2017

Alistair had thought--incorrectly, as it turned out--that Ari had calmed down by the time they found somewhere private to talk. There'd been no more outbursts, no more words at all, in fact. He had thought her surprise had finally left her, and with it--well, he wasn't sure. Alistair had no idea what to expect, but had he tried to, it certainly wouldn't be what actually happened.

Her tears were so shocking that for a moment--just a moment--he didn't really register what she said, but when he did?

"What? I--what?" It wasn't especially eloquent, but it was all he could muster at first as Alistair stared at her. She looked scared. Terrified, even. As if she might bolt away any second.

It was reflex to put his hand on her shoulder, but that brought him closer to her. She looked up at him, tears streaming down her face, and his throat closed.

How many times had he wished to be near her, again? How many times had he hoped to see her, or hear something not unlike what she had just said? Wished, dreamed, hoped, but never really believed, and yet... here it was.

"I... don't understand," he spoke slowly, carefully, trying to keep his voice level and calm, "You were never--horrible? You? Saying no, turning me away, that wasn't horrible, it was heartbreaking. But that doesn't mean I'd--Ari. Ari, I'm right here. You can talk to me now. Please... please explain."
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Arisella Blanchart's Photo Arisella Blanchart 24 Jul 2017

Ari. He called her Ari. Not Arisella, not Lady Arisella or something overly formal like that, but Ari. The name he'd always called her. In a kind voice, not one that was harsh or unkind. She winced slightly when he admitted she'd broken his heart, but... he was asking her to talk to him. He wanted to talk to her.

With another sob, she hurled herself forward, wrapping her arms tightly around him and sobbing into his shoulder. He froze for a moment, as if she'd caught him off guard, but after a moment, in a single gesture that melted all of her terrors away, he caught her up in a gentle hug, and she melted into his arms.

"I... I panicked," she said at last, still talking into his shoulder. "The army changed you. You grew up, incredibly fast, and I was still a fifteen year old child. I felt like you'd left me behind, even though I know now you never did, and never wanted to. But I couldn't understand that back then, and I just..."

She shook her head. "I was holding you back. And then I never heard from you after, so I thought you'd moved on."
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Celia Elariel's Photo Celia Elariel 24 Jul 2017

Celia couldn't help but laugh softly at Lord Kennith's exaggerated eyebrow-waggling. She would have been horrified if such behavior escaped her under normal conditions, but he seemed to be encouraging it. It was honestly a little refreshing; while sterile etiquette was comfortably familiar, she could admit to herself - and only herself, in a very small voice - that it got a little boring every now and then.

"Do all Southern Islanders have such... flair?" she asked as her smile warmed. "The Islands must be a tremendously exciting place."
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Jalen Domaille's Photo Jalen Domaille 24 Jul 2017

"My dear," he said with a wink and a grin, "I am always being judged. It's what I do." He offered his arm, which she took, and away they went. Jalen whisked them quickly through the crowd, hiding them behind a curtain of coats and dresses. He considered dropping the act and seriously asking about her, but in the end, elected to keep it up until she decided to drop it herself. If acting like this was making her happy and helping her get back on her feet, then he'd keep it up, at least until he had stronger evidence that he shouldn't.

A break in the music provided the opening he needed, and as couples shifted on the dance floor, he led them out, pulling Katryn gently into hold. "What are we needing tonight?" he asked. "Feeling adventurous and daring, or finding your footing?"
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Kennith Fathvell's Photo Kennith Fathvell 24 Jul 2017

Kennith grinned, happy that he was getting a positive reaction from Celia. He had been hoping that she wasn't as stiff as some noblewomen could be, and his hunch that she would enjoy a little bit of silliness had turned out alright. That was always a good sign. It was easier to feign silly irresponsibility than it was to feign serious irresponsibility.

"I'll tell you something privately." He said, making sure to pull her to a distance that was proper, but lent the proper amount of secrecy as he led her to the dance floor for the next dance. "We from the Southern Islands love our drama. I mean, can you imagine a non-dramatic person wearing a coat like this?" He made sure to flare his coat dramatically on this as he turned to take her hand for the dance. "However, as romantic and daring as pirates and endless wine-tastings sound, it's not nearly as dramatic there as my cousins are making it look. Perhaps our particular brand of drama has just not been appreciated enough in Luthadel until now."
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Katryn Domaille's Photo Katryn Domaille 24 Jul 2017

Being whisked through the crowd made Katryn feel much younger than she usually did. Being widowed so young had made her feel so much older than she was that it was nice to have a little more of the thrill of young life again. She felt her smile grow a little more genuine than usual, and she felt much more relaxed than she had when she was worrying about people finding out why she had come so far from home. Perhaps it was just because she knew that she didn't have to take any measures to hide it from Jalen as he already knew most everything she was running from.

"What are we needing tonight?" he asked, and Katryn schooled her face a little bit since they were still in public and the last thing she wanted was for other men to get the wrong idea. "Feeling adventurous and daring, or finding your footing?"

"I think I may need at least one good glass of wine before I feel adventurous at all." Katryn replied, shrugging a little bit and smiling to hide the nerves that were bubbling up to the surface at the prospect of dancing in public without much recent practice. "Perhaps I should have practiced my dancing before coming all this way. I am almost afraid that I will have lost all my former grace in my year of hiding."
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Felix Fathvell's Photo Felix Fathvell 25 Jul 2017

Felix and Estelle (Denna) turned about the dance floor, but it was not a spectacle the same way that dancing with Eliza had been. These people in Luthadel hadn't seen the Islands dancing. Felix was great at talking with women. He was great at talking with anyone. He fancied himself quite the outgoing person.

Estelle was easy to talk to. They chatted about the last ball, and how they had both missed out because they were at the Sureau dinner instead. He realized she was there, but they hadn't had a chance to connect on that night. At least they were getting it now. He laughed at her jokes, and he didn't have to explain his jokes to her. She seemed to understand... and really understand, not just feign understanding to increase her chance of another dance.

Overall the dance was... enjoyable. Once the song ended, he walked her back to Lysette, bowed and said his goodbyes. Perhaps he would dance with her again.

He walked away, leaving her with her friends and went off to find another dance.

The problem was that he had already danced with two people. One from his own house, and one from Sureau. He needed to choose someone from the other faction in Luthadel so that it didn't look like he was playing favorites. He didn't need to dance with any of Colette Hasting's friends, or anyone from Sureau again. He could maybe find someone from Elariel... but he didn't see them immediately.

Deveaux would be good. Or a Venture. Then, he saw Lucille Deveaux. She was a perfect choice. New to Luthadel, and she seemed very friendly. She looked like she was having a good time, but she was alone at the moment.

He approached her, since she didn't seem occupied by a date or by a dance already in progress and bowed to her. They hadn't actually been formally introduced as of yet, but he was sure that she knew who he was. Plus they didn't need to be formally introduced just for a dance.

"Would you care to dance?" Felix asked. "I'm Felix, by the way. Fathvell. Sorry. I meant to introduce myself first. Would you like me to start again?"
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Lucille Deveaux's Photo Lucille Deveaux 25 Jul 2017

While Luci was having fun with old friends and new, she still sometimes felt a little overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of a crowded ballroom, and so had quietly excused herself for a moment onto the balcony, where the cool air and swirling mists calmed her down, giving her some space to breathe and soothing her frayed nerves. After a few minutes, she was good as new, and slipped back into the ballroom to rejoin her friends. On her way back to the table, though, an unfamiliar voice caught her attention.

"Would you care to dance? I'm Felix, by the way. Fathvell. Sorry. I meant to introduce myself first. Would you like me to start again?"

Luci couldn't help but smile at the odd introduction and the grinning young man who offered it. Lord Felix Fathvell had a friendly air about him and an honest sort of eagerness to his expression. While she knew next to nothing about him, there was something about him that made her decide that, yes, she would very much like to be his friend.

"It's quite alright, Lord Felix," she said with a friendly grin of her own. "I'm Lucille Deveaux, and I would love to dance with you - as long as you show me a couple of the steps you were using earlier, that is."
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Felix Fathvell's Photo Felix Fathvell 25 Jul 2017

I would love to dance with you - as long as you show me a couple of the steps you were using earlier, that is."

Felix chuckled. "Of course, It would be my pleasure Lady Lucille. I can teach you. I was wondering if anyone would ask me that this evening."

He offered her his right arm and when she accepted, he led her to the dance floor. "You are the first one to come right out and ask it, which is refreshing. The last person I danced with wanted to learn, but wouldn't ask."

He took them to an open part of the dance floor, so they might not get enclosed by so many other couples on the floor. They would need room if they were going to dance Islands style.

"The most important thing for the style is to keep a very stiff and straight posture. I think most Luthadel dances are very sloppy in that regard. Although, come to think of it you're not from Luthadel either... am I right?"
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Lucille Deveaux's Photo Lucille Deveaux 25 Jul 2017

The last person he danced with wanted to learn but wouldn't ask? That didn't make any sense; how would Lord Felix be able to teach her if he didn't know what she wanted? Luthadel people really did make no sense. Also, a stiff and straight posture? Like dueling, maybe? Her dueling posture was relaxed but still very poised; she supposed that would work for a starting point at least. The dance had sort of looked like a duel, after all.

"I'm from Urteau," she said in response to his question, falling naturally into her best dueling stance as he pulled her into hold. It was surprising, actually, just how well such a stance lent itself to dancing; her arms sort of just happened to fall pretty close to where she'd seen his cousin holding hers earlier.

"I just arrived in Luthadel recently, actually; I came with my cousin Damien, who moved here on house business. Am I doing it right?"
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Felix Fathvell's Photo Felix Fathvell 25 Jul 2017

"That is a fine dueling stance," he said. He held her close to him with one of his arms held firmly around her lower back. "Try to draw your shoulders up and together a bit more. Most of the moves are very calculated and precise. I assume because you know dueling stance that you actually duel. Islands dancing is very similar to dueling, I guess if you imagine an elastic string connecting our chests, we always come back to this position."

He started taking her slowly through some basic moves of the dance. While he showed her the simple moves, he struck up another conversation.

"I have heard that you and your cousin came to Luthadel, but I hadn't had a chance to introduce myself to either of you. I have been quite occupied with my own cousin's arrival, I'm afraid. Would you mind introducing me to Lord Damien at some point this evening?" He said. It was forward of him, but he had started off being direct, so why change now?
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Lucille Deveaux's Photo Lucille Deveaux 31 Jul 2017

Luci adjusted her posture as Lord Felix indicated, surprised at how natural such a comparatively stiff, poised hold felt to her. Like he'd mentioned, it probably was because of her training in the art of dueling: she was able to remain properly poised but keep her muscles relaxed and ready to respond, rather than tensing up and letting her elbows rise up to the level of her ears or forcing Lord Felix to shove her around in order to get her to respond.

And then he asked about Damien.

She couldn't help but sigh at that. Lord Felix wasn't one of those businessmen who only befriended her for a shot at getting connected with Damien, was he? She certainly hoped not; her impression of him and the way he'd addressed her so far was that he was more interested in making friends than anything else someone might have approached her for. And so, for the sake of a potential friendship, she decided to give Lord Felix a chance to explain.

She made sure to keep her expression and voice friendly, but she couldn't quite help but give him just a bit of a raised eyebrow. The sort that let him know she was paying very close attention to what he would say next.

"I suppose that depends," she said, "on why you asked me to dance."
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Felix Fathvell's Photo Felix Fathvell 31 Jul 2017

Felix slowly led her through some of the basic steps. He went through the first steps he learned. He led her through the steps making sure to keep his posture and watch her posture at the same time.

When he brought up Damien, Lucille sighed. Felix looked confused for a moment before shaking his head.

"Oh, I didn't ask you to dance so you would introduce me to Damien. I asked you to dance because you were alone and I wanted to dance. It's also a good excuse to talk to you, so I can invite you to an event I'm organizing," He paused, grinning widely.

"I guess you must get introduce me to your cousin often. I didn't even think of that, I'm sorry. I wanted to invite both of you to a wine tasting to give a few people an exclusive look at the Fathvell tasting room in our keep before our ball next week, and since I have never talked to Damien, it would be rather odd of me to just walk up and invite him..."

He chuckled. "Again, I'm sorry if I made you think that I didn't actually want to dance with you. Sometimes, I can be a bit of a bafoon. I guess I should have led with the invitation, and then asked you to introduce me to Damien."
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Ulrich Venture's Photo Ulrich Venture 09 Aug 2017

Ulrich looked at Broderick, giving a dramatic gasp when he said he didn't know Isabelle. His head jerked to the group Broderick was with, grinning widely as he gave an abrupt, "Hope you're having a time or something!" before immediately turning back to Broderick and trotting away with him.

Broderick was one of the Fun Cousins, but he seemed even more fun now, what with the being grateful and everything. Ulrich wasn't entirely sure why his cousin wanted to be saved by pretty girls of all things, but his warning painted a bit of the picture.

"Well I could see that!" He said, waggling his eyebrows, "But you make that sound like a bad thing. Were you being bullied cousin?"

He said it like a joke, but there was a thread of worry in it, even so. Aveline Sureau, Daerra Elariel. He only knew the names, not the people behind them. Rising stars of the generation he'd just missed being in, it was a bit scary to be warned away from them. What if one tried to talk to him? Was he supposed to run away?

His thoughts continued their spinning, random and nonsensical, even as he hurried on, "Isabelle will be with Aunt Gisela, though! Please... tell me you know who Aunt Gisela is. Other wise I think we're at a brick wall here. Unless she's with Father but--" he threw a quick, tin-enhanced glance, "She isn't so..."

The tin was still burning in his stomach--hidden by copper of course!--and it had this wonderful habit of making even the barest look crystal clear. The kind of thing you tended to get when whirling wildly like he was. Making it very easy to pick a face from the crowd.

"Isabelle!" He called, waving wildly, "Over here!"
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Celia Elariel's Photo Celia Elariel 14 Aug 2017

"I'll tell you something privately." He said, making sure to pull her to a distance that was proper, but lent the proper amount of secrecy as he led her to the dance floor for the next dance. "We from the Southern Islands love our drama. I mean, can you imagine a non-dramatic person wearing a coat like this?" He made sure to flare his coat dramatically on this as he turned to take her hand for the dance. "However, as romantic and daring as pirates and endless wine-tastings sound, it's not nearly as dramatic there as my cousins are making it look. Perhaps our particular brand of drama has just not been appreciated enough in Luthadel until now."

"I daresay it hasn't," Celia said with a smile, admiring how his unusual coat flared when he spun. She maintained her Elariel poise and calm, of course, but she did allow genuine warmth to shine through. She was coming to quite enjoy Lord Kennith's company, after all, and didn't want to frighten him away with a frigid, imperious air.

"Luthadel society quite favors the status quo, after all," she continued as she took his hand, "and while order and tradition are important, I imagine even the staunchest of traditionalists might find it stifling after a while. Who knows? Perhaps Fathvell's long coats and dramatic dances and endless wine-tastings will breathe a breath of fresh air into society here."
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Isabelle Sureau's Photo Isabelle Sureau 02 Sep 2017

Isabelle had just been deposited back at the table she was sharing with her mother by her last dance partner. He had been semi-interesting, but she had already accepted a few dances more than she had wanted to, and she mostly just wanted to find someone whose company she enjoyed at this point. She knew she should talk to her socially acceptable relatives, but she was saved by the sight of her Venture cousin waving and calling out to her. She partially wished he'd make it less obvious that they were on good terms, but that wish subsided when she saw who he was with.

Now, she did try to not get too giddy over talented duelists who she was definitely not supposed to be rooting for, but Broderick Venture had for a long time been on her list of favorite duelists and she had always been frustrated that she would not get to express her admiration for his dueling technique due to the tensions between their families. She had often thought that perhaps she could contrive to get Ulrich to introduce her, but had never gotten up the courage to defy her father that much, and she was definitely excited that she would not have to now. If her father asked, she could just say it was happenstance, and definitely not something she had wanted to happen.

In despite of her excitement, Isabelle managed to wave back more discreetly than Ulrich. "I'll be right back, mama." She said, leaning towards her mother who had also recently come back to the table, although for different reasons. "I have a duelist to go meet. Also, would it not be rude to ignore my dear cousin when he is so excited to see me?"

Gisella responded with a laugh, one that sounded rather satisfied that Isabelle had forged such a bond with her cousin, and she waved Isabelle off with a shake of her head. "Just make sure you do not spend so much time with your cousin that it warrants a lecture when we get home, and do not forget that I do still have to say hello to my brother briefly and I would rather we do not both consort with Ventures at the same time."

Isabelle nodded quickly and moved through the crowd towards Ulrich. "Cousin," She said with a smile and a nod towards him when she made it close enough. "One of these days your excitement will get me in trouble." She teased, letting her usual poise drop for a moment so that he didn't feel too bad about being so obvious in his excitement.

Finally, Isabelle turned to Broderick Venture, having decided that she didn't want to wait for Ulrich to remember to do proper introductions in his excitement. Usually she didn't care, but it was only a matter of time before she had spent too long talking to Ventures and would have to go talk to someone more appropriate for her station, if only to appease her father. "I hope you do not mind if I do my own introductions, my lord. My name is Isabelle Sureau." She said, stretching out her hand to him. "Ulrich's father is my uncle."
Edited by MozytheHealer, 02 September 2017 - 04:26 AM.
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Lucille Deveaux's Photo Lucille Deveaux 23 Sep 2017

Realization dawned on Felix's face, and Luci found herself feeling quite relieved. His explanation, which could have easily seemed false or at the very least somewhat suspect, seemed entirely genuine, and her cool expression thawed, yielding with her great relief to her usual warm self.

"In that case," she said with a smile, "it would be my pleasure. I can't speak for him regarding his attendance, of course, but I'm sure he'll appreciate the invitation either way." That misunderstanding neatly settled, and Luci herself now wondering what such an event would be like, she returned her attention to the matter at hand; the dance would be starting soon!

"Am I positioned correctly?" she asked, obviously excited even through a bit of apprehension at doing something so adventurous in front of everyone. "Is there anything else I should be mindful of?"
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