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The Lord Ruler's perfect capital city, Luthadel, is doing the impossible: rebelling. Skaa half-breeds are being taught the power of Allomancy, something that the Lord Ruler's obligators said only existed in the nobility. The enslaved skaa, with their murderous benefactor, now fight back against a living god's oppression.

So, the Inquisition was formed. The nobles begin to fear assassination from all sides. The times of nobility Mistborn killing each other are over. The Steel Inquisitors look for aristocrat traitors and insurgent skaa, and the skaa try with all their strength to merely survive. The Lord Ruler's perfect Final Empire is slowly devolving into chaos.

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The Casuana Ball, Part I: Arrival


195 replies to this topic

#101 Daerra Elariel


  • Heir's Sister

357
Looking Good in Red
  • Age23

  • Relationship StatusSingle

  • OriginLuthadel

  • Allomantic StatusHidden

Posted 31 August 2010 - 07:53 PM

Nerid was the House heir? Could it be that his condition was an act? But then why was Marisha trying to cover it up? Perhaps it was all one elaborate ploy to make it seem more real, who wouldn't want to cover things up if the heir had such a defect? More importantly, who would want things to seem that way? There were far easier ways to seem unthreatening. Nerid was a halfwit, and Marisha was merely trying to protect him. Whether or not he really was the heir was irrelevant, at least for now.

Daerra smiled warmly. Marisha remained utterly calm, but rigid. Her whole stance seemed to scream of tension. "It shall be our little secret then," she said with a meaningful look. "I after all, am also a sister looking out for her brother. Aaron cares little for anything of import, and only the most obvious intriuges fail to soar over his head," she frowned, letting her frustration for her brother show. "Sometimes it seems he cares for barely anything at all. Who knows where he'd be without me to protect him. Luthadel can be... dangerous, to those who don't pay attention."

Daerra turned and scanned the crowd for Aaron. She couldn't see him anywhere, nor could she see her parents. "I think I must take leave of you now, Lady Marisha, but I would be glad to continue our conversation of troublesome younger brothers when you join us for dinner." She waited for Marisha to respond, then nodded to each of the members of her now broken circle before leaving. If Aaron really does remember her... she thought suddenly. Could things truly be coming together so cleanly? Marisha fit the bill perfectly, Phyra would be furious. Daerra nearly laughed. Tonight, nothing would stop her. Nothing.



#102 Delissia


  • Imposter

357
Looking Good in Red
  • Age20

  • Relationship StatusIt's Complicated

  • OriginThe Western Dominance

Posted 31 August 2010 - 08:02 PM

Delissia smiled wildly, first at Aldwin's snort, then wider at Efram's response. Both were certainly more than good looking, but she was having increasing difficulty deciding which was mroe handsome. It was obvious they usually did this together, the way they played off eachother was to smooth not to be practiced. Delissia thought she was going to like Luthadel very much. It was just too much fun. Before responding, Delissia offered a silent prayer to the Lord Ruler in gratitude. If either matched their reputation as a dancer, Delissia suspected this would be a night to remember.

"Ah, so you wish to prove yourself, Lord Efram. How very noble of you. I must apologize for my presumption then. I'll tell you what, I shall grant to each a single dance, and whoever out performs the other, shall get a second." She paused and began fanning herself again, this time thoughtfully. "Although, that leaves the matter of a draw." She shook her head before continuing. "No gentlemen, I'm afraid one of you must prevail over the other, or else I shall be stuck dancing with both of you all night!"



#103 Aldwin Tekiel


  • Heir to House Tekiel

562
Atium Chandelier
  • Age20

  • Relationship StatusSingle

  • OriginLuthadel

Posted 31 August 2010 - 11:02 PM

Aldwin opened his mouth to protest - rather dramatically, of course - but when Lady Delissia, in a move so genius Aldwin internally applauded her for it, played off their air of friendly competition and in an instant claimed for herself the continued attentions of the heirs of two Great Houses. The woman deserved a dance or two just for that, in Aldwin's opinion.

"Why, Lord Efram," he said with a sly grin, "I do believe the Lady has issued us a challenge. And when the challenge involves dancing, you know I'm simply can't refuse. How about you, my friend? Are you in?"

Posted Image


#104 Efram Lekal

224
Member of Lucille Deveaux's Book Club

Posted 31 August 2010 - 11:57 PM

"But of course, me dear Lord Aldwin. How could I pass up a challenge that I will most assuredly win?" He grinned back at his friend.

He turned his attention back to Lady Delissia, "If I may be so bold as to make an observation... but you may have just made yourself the target of some extreme jealousy here tonight. Certainly you must have known that two honorable gentlemen, like ourselves, would jump at the chance to please a stunning creature like you to the point of ignoring all else," he paused. Well, perhaps they wouldn't ignore everyone else. But a new play thing like Lady Delissia was hard to pass up. "Know this, however: I will dance as I've never danced before this night to ensure that I am the lucky man receiving that second dance."

 

 


#105 Claudia Elariel


  • Elariel Mistborn

57
Theatre Spectator
  • Age20

  • Relationship StatusSingle

  • OriginLuthadel

  • Allomantic StatusHidden

Posted 01 September 2010 - 03:09 AM

She found Mikhail just as he was stepping away from a conversation with an obligator. She caught his eye and he smiled slightly as he walked over to her. "Claudia," he said. "What is it?"

"I...invited some friends to dine with us," she told him quietly. "Lady Marisha Nathar and her brother, Lord Nerid. I hope you don't mind."

"Nathar," he mused. "I don't recall the house name; have I met them?"

She shook her head. "No. They're not a Luthadel house, but they are nice people."

"Well," he offered her a small smile, which she found encouraging. "I don't mind. It's good to see you socializing, in fact. I noticed you go over to pay your respects to the Deveaux entourage."

She bit her lip. "I suppose...Mostly I went to say hello to Lady Marisha."

Mikhail frowned, a hint of sternness crossing his features. "I hope you were at least courteous?"

She shrugged, brushing absently at her skirts. "I suppose. The Deveauxs are an outgoing lot, Mikhail. They hardly notice what I do or fail to do. In any case, Daerra is charming enough for both of us."

He sighed heavily. "Claudia you have it in you to be just as charming as Camille Deveaux if you only tried....but no matter. We will discuss this later. Perhaps, though, you might consider joining the dancers tonight? With this Lord Nerid and some others, perchance?"

A hint of color touched her cheeks. "It's not like that," she murmured. "Lord Nerid is...nice, Mikhail, but not....I mean to say...I did promise him a dance, but he's..."

He touched her shoulder. "Easy, little sister. I only meant that I'm hoping to see you participate rather than drift the edges. Perhaps if you dance tonight, you'll come to the next ball with an escort. That would please our father greatly, you know."

"I don't care!" Her eyes flashed, and she spoke in a harsh whisper. "Mikhail, I don't want..."

He raised a finger, cutting her off. "Enough. We aren't going to discuss this here, Claudia."

 

Characters: Claudia Elariel, Jessica Marsdale, Kayla, Adalae Lekal


#106 Delissia


  • Imposter

357
Looking Good in Red
  • Age20

  • Relationship StatusIt's Complicated

  • OriginThe Western Dominance

Posted 01 September 2010 - 03:21 AM

Delissia nodded thoughtfully. "Your observation is quite correct, Lord Efram. It would be selfish of me to take up so much time of both of you, that the other women are neglected. And we've already established my heart is a charitable one. I hope to be done with this business as quickly as possible, but if you prove too evenly matched, there are others we must think of." She eyed each gentleman in turn, and smiled her brightest. "Luckily, only one of you shall be able to demonstrate his talents at a time, the other should always be free. If you are unable to find partners for yourselves, I suppose I shall have find them for you. You wouldn't want me to be the target of jealousy after all, would you?"



#107 Marisha Nathar


  • Nathar heir's sister

256
Nessa's Baywrap
  • Age19

  • Relationship StatusSingle

  • OriginFarmost Dominance

  • Allomantic StatusHidden

Posted 01 September 2010 - 04:39 AM

Her shot appeared to have gone wide; Daerra was only given a very brief pause. Marisha's level of loathing for her went up sharply at the pleasant smile and the little honey-laced comment the noblewoman gave her. She swallowed it with a perfectly pleasant smile in both expression and eyes, however, and the slightest tilt of her head as she regarded Daerra. How could she possibly be Aaron's sister? She had some similarity of feature, but the resemblance ended there. Daerra set her teeth on edge.

She did not miss the veiled almost-threat in Daerra's final words, either. Who knows where he'd be without me to protect him. Luthadel can be...dangerous, to those who don't pay attention. It was meant to worry Marisha, meant to make her wonder whether Elariel 'protection' was the best option - and combined with her first comment suggested what she thought she could use as leverage. Marisha kept on smiling gently, and dropped into a deferential curtsey as Daerra took her leave. "I shall be glad to, my Lady," she answered.

As Daerra turned away and left, the customary dreamy, passive look in Marisha's eyes became almost fierce for a moment. She doubted Daerra really cared about Aaron in the slightest; she doubted someone like her even knew what it was like to care about a brother. Insulting Nerid and even hinting at a threat to him brought out a fresh determination in Marisha that outweighed her uncertainty and discomfort in this unfamiliar setting. She would keep her brother safe from anyone and anything that posed any threat or obstacle to him. Somehow.

She retreated slightly from the rest of them, drawing Nerid with her, glad of the moment of respite to think. All she had were words, right now; at least she had given Daerra pause for thought earlier. If she could perhaps find some way to build the impression that Nerid was more than he seemed, that seemed like her best possibility. If she could instill some doubt in Daerra - and in anyone else listening - it would weaken her perceived leverage. Later on, she could find a way to mention her other elder brother. It could be inserted casually into the dinner conversation if the opportunity came up. That might be one way to stir up question for the woman again.


#108 Damien Deveaux

562
Atium Chandelier
  • Age22

  • Relationship StatusSingle

  • OriginUrteau

  • Allomantic StatusHidden

Posted 01 September 2010 - 07:36 AM

Damien did not want to be here.

But here he was, so he tried to put the best face on it that he possibly could. Their little group had split up into fragments, leaving him to himself for the time being. That gave him plenty of time to simply watch the exchanges going on around him, and he picked up on a few interesting tidbits he would have to share with Camille later. It was rude to eavesdrop, but as a Mistborn, anything he managed to overhear had the potential to help - or hurt - his House, and to a Deveaux Allomancer, it always came back to duty. In this case, it was a duty he could perform while still at least acting properly. Even if it was just on the surface.

But then he noticed Lady Nathar, and how troubled she looked after her conversation with Daerra Elariel. There was something unsettling about that woman; her actions in and of themselves seemed to be those of a typical noblewoman, but his instincts told him to be on alert around her. Well, his instincts and Camille's warnings.

Either way, Marisha Nathar was quite obviously distressed. And if Damien was going to be standing around, he should probably at least talk to somebody, lest he isolate himself entirely. And comforting someone in need was one situation in which he didn't mind stepping outside of his station. After all, what gentleman wouldn't assist a lady if he thought she needed it?

And so he approached her, coming to rest in his usual straight-backed pose with both hands resting on top of his cane.

"Excuse me, my Lady," he began in the polite, gentle tones appropriate for someone concerned for an acquaintance, "Forgive my assumption, but I couldn't help but notice that you appeared somewhat distressed just now. Are you all right?"

Posted Image


#109 Aldwin Tekiel


  • Heir to House Tekiel

562
Atium Chandelier
  • Age20

  • Relationship StatusSingle

  • OriginLuthadel

Posted 01 September 2010 - 07:00 PM

"Oh, far from it!" Aldwin insisted, looking as though he were horrified by the very idea. "Be at ease, my Lady. For even though I know not how I'll manage to look fondly on any other woman with your radiant visage in my mind, I'll just have to endeavor to overcome the frailties of my heart and ensure that others have their turn as well.

"I'll let you in on a little secret, though," he told her conspiratorially, lowering his voice and offering her a mischievous wink. "You'll still be my favorite."

Posted Image


#110 Phyra Venture


  • Rogue Venture Mistborn

-25
MiBoam Obligara the Inquisikandra

Posted 01 September 2010 - 08:07 PM

The doors were still shut. Phyra didn't like shut doors. They were limiting. Like rules or expectations. Like familial obligations. Annoying, pressuring, nagging, taunting, mocking, hateful rules. Trying to keep her in a box, in a dress...

She found herself ignoring conversation as she stared at the gates with formless loathing.

Phyra ceased tapping her foot when Aaron turned to her with a question.
"Phyra, have I ever told you about my theory on the mathematics of the final empire?"

Umm, Droll much? "No, I do not believe you have, Lord Elariel, but it appears we have time to discuss it. Please elaborate."

Ugh. hopefully the gates would open soon.

Other Characters: Brand,Valkyn Venture, Fenna, Lian Vaunter


#111 Marisha Nathar


  • Nathar heir's sister

256
Nessa's Baywrap
  • Age19

  • Relationship StatusSingle

  • OriginFarmost Dominance

  • Allomantic StatusHidden

Posted 02 September 2010 - 02:51 AM

Turning the question over in her mind, Marisha chose not to immediately try to mingle again. She knew that they could not spend too much time off on their own without the appearance of being poorly mannered, but she wanted just a moment to regroup, and to collect her thoughts into something more resembling a plan. A little breathing space. The strange thing was that, although she did not yet have a decisive idea of what she was going to do, she was no longer feeling the same uncertainty she had been struggling with before.

From her peripheral vision, she saw the Deveaux nobleman - Lord Damien was his name - moving towards her. He intended to talk to her, that was certain, and so she turned towards him as he approached, with polite acknowledgement of his presence. Perhaps she should not be surprised at this anymore. It would be no wonder if half the nobles at the ball wondered just what was going on with the Nathars. And she was simply going to have to handle it.

He seemed all made of rigid angles, each movement controlled and surgically precise. He did not waste a single motion. His hair was somehow kept perfectly in place, his suit without a wrinkle, and when he finally halted in front of her with both hands on his cane, Marisha thought she had never seen anyone so exact about everything in her entire life. His features were striking, but much more so was his demeanor. When he spoke to address her, his voice matched the rest of him, each syllable enunciated so accurately that she could imagine it written rather than spoken, in a sharp, fine-drawn hand.

Marisha was disquieted at what he had to say. Had her reaction to Daerra been evident? She had thought she kept it well concealed, but - no; she was certain she had not given any overt signs. He was simply extremely perceptive, and she supposed now he expected to have the advantage because of it. For her part, she could read very little from him, although there was a note of what almost seemed genuine concern in his voice. For that reason, though she did not trust it to be real (she suspected that with the control he had over everything else, he could show whatever he chose to), she chose to speak part of the truth, instead of inventing something out of whole cloth, or claiming she had not been distressed at all. She was not about to tell him that Daerra Elariel was attempting to dig out secrets she wanted to remain buried, and making veiled threats against her brother.

But the part of her that was simply a young woman attending her first ball was something that did not necessarily have to be disguised. It was not entirely contemptible, and if it did cause him to think less of her, it was always good to be underestimated. She lowered her eyes. "I apologise, my Lord. I have never been to such an event as this before, nor found myself among such a company. I find myself a little overwhelmed."


#112 Damien Deveaux

562
Atium Chandelier
  • Age22

  • Relationship StatusSingle

  • OriginUrteau

  • Allomantic StatusHidden

Posted 02 September 2010 - 03:07 AM

"I see," Damien mused with an understanding nod. His voice remained controlled and precise, but his words took on an underlying tone of compassion, as though he had or was experiencing something similar.

"I understand your situation quite well, Lady Nathar," he continued. "I myself have been away from Luthadel for years, and this is my first ball in quite some time. Of course, one's first ball in this city is always a bit overwhelming. I remember my own quite vividly.

"Be at ease," he told her reassuringly. "Everyone here was once experiencing this for the first time, so if you need to politely excuse yourself for a time, no one will think ill of you."

Posted Image


#113 Marisha Nathar


  • Nathar heir's sister

256
Nessa's Baywrap
  • Age19

  • Relationship StatusSingle

  • OriginFarmost Dominance

  • Allomantic StatusHidden

Posted 02 September 2010 - 03:56 AM

She wondered, as she said it, something she had not supposed before; would he think that she was actually pitiable? It was wise to be quiet, muted, something to be dismissed, but she had no wish to be seen as pathetic. Marisha wanted at least some kind of respect; to be despised or laughed at was a thought she recoiled from. What she had said seemed, in comparison to Damien's flawless composure, to present an image she did not like at all. She had tried to appear as refined and cultured as possible up until now, attempting to temper her best approximation of Luthadel manners with deference. Now she regretted having given the answer she did.

His response surprised her again, however. She had expected to hear something along the lines of Camille's tone, disinterested superiority. Instead, the note in his response deepened to something more approaching sympathy than the slight concern from before, and he offered understanding, even creating the suggestion of a comparison between them (a comparison which she could not have imagined existing between a man like Damien and herself). Marisha did not know what to make of the apparent kindness, no more than she had known how to interpret Claudia's gesture earlier. She rejected the idea that it could be sincere; she was certain that something else lay behind it - the motive to gain her trust, perhaps.

"Thank you, my Lord. I believe I only needed a moment to marshal my thoughts," she said quietly, "I don't wish to run away from anything." She wished she had the ability to turn a phrase with more elegance.


#114 Delissia


  • Imposter

357
Looking Good in Red
  • Age20

  • Relationship StatusIt's Complicated

  • OriginThe Western Dominance

Posted 02 September 2010 - 08:14 PM

"With women, Lord Aldwin," Delissia chided gently, "One should never pick favorites, except when courting." She raised an eyebrow at him expectantly. Some women didn't know how to raise a single eyebrow. Delissia did though. The others didn't know what a tool they were missing! "I would assume the a nobleman such as you would know that a proper young lady like myself could never accept an offer of courtship from a man niether she, nor her father knows. Especially when said man is competing in a contest in which the young Lady is the judge. His motives could be suspect after all," she sighed and smiled again, showing her dimples. "But surely I misread you Lord Aldwin. Tender hearted as you are, you only meant to spare my feelings, correct?"



#115 Mia Casuana


  • Lady of House Casuana

102
High House Noble
  • Age27

  • Relationship StatusMarried to Julian Casuana

  • OriginLuthadel

Posted 05 September 2010 - 06:33 AM

It was fortunate that her dress from Lan's tailor shop did not constrict her breathing like most dresses; she needed to breathe so she could stop worrying. All she had to do was breathe, let her planning take over, and everything would be fine. Right? She sighed. She intended to address the nobles directly, and she didn't exactly know what to say, despite her planning. Delzen had suggested she speak less, and that was probably wise, considering how much her mouth got her in trouble.

She glanced down at her dress, to ensure everything was straight so she didn't look ridiculous to the nobility. Its fiery red satin was comfortable, but the dress flowed out a bit more than she was used to. She typically preferred dresses which hugged her tighter. Now that she wore this, however, it did seem to take attention off of her height, which pleased her. Plus, during spins dancing, it would look striking, and Lord Ruler, Mia would need to dance to relieve her stress. White crystals were sewn into the bodice, coming into a point at her waist, and those too looked striking.

The dress was strapless, and her hair was in a more conservative, yet stylish updo. Which was fantastic, except her shoulders felt uncomfortably naked. She was just too tall, and naked shoulders felt strange. So, she two silver bracelets on each of her lower arms to feel less bare. Then, she had decided to wear a silver tiara, with one of the same white crystals from her dress on it, to make the ensemble fit. Normal Luthadel nobles did not wear tiaras, but the nobility could jump into the mists if they didn't like it. People should look at her face and see power, not at her chest.

More vitally, Mia needed confidence. So, a tiara.

Mia strode to the atrium. Her chambers were on the second floor of the Keep, so as she walked, she spotted the chandelier in all its glory. Its lustrious gold shine was the least impressive thing about it. It was perfect.

She peered over the railing, nodding to one of Cyrille's archers standing there, to stare at the chandelier in greater detail, with the lower fountain's waters rising up to almost meet the bottom point of the chandelier. But, she saw Delzen and Everett next to the fountain--and next to the impervious ring of hazekiller guards there. Everett sounded displeased, but when did he ever sound pleased? Mia whirled about, hiding behind a column next to the stairwell.

"This is by far the most stupid thing she has ever done," Everett snarled. "How dare you let Mia go through with this and ruin my House?"

"My apologies, Lord Casuana," Delzen said with a slight bow. "She made up her mind long ago, when she received the Ministry contract. And respectfully, my lord, this is not 'your' House, I fear."

Mia grinned. Oh Delzen, I don't deserve your unwavering loyalty. This plan, to burn into the nobility's memory of Casuana's strength, was not without flaws. If a Mistborn were to attack the chandelier, well... If Everett and Camille hated Mia now, Mia may as well kill herself if that happened. Ideally, everything else she had planned, along with Julian's "attack" and the Inquisitor, would the distract the nobility long enough. It would work.

"Are... are you mocking me?" Everett said, shocked.

"Merely represented my lady's wishes, as we all should tonight, yes?"

Mia heard footsteps. Not from the many skaa servants from below, but the sound of high heels.

"I think it looks quite nice," Corin Casuana said. Corin was Julian's mother, and therefore Everett's sister-in-law. "The mirrors are a particularly resplendent touch."

Everett grumbled. "Come now, Corin. Don't go using adjectives so exaggerately." Everett's words were harsh, but Corin's presence seemed to lighten his tone. Mia often thought Everett had feelings for her. In the year since Lucius Casuana's death, Everett made no affront to Corin, so perhaps Mia was mistaken, like usual.

"Nice pun, Uncle." Riordan Casuana's voice. Corin's nephew, and Leonard's son. "Or maybe that was unintentional. Probably was. In that case, nevermind."

"That... that was not a pun," Alistair said. Another one of Julian's cousins, though as he was Everett's son, he was far stiffer than Julian or Riordan had ever been. "Go have some drinks before you ruin the evening."

"Maybe later!" Riordan said cheerfully. "There's going to be dueling tonight, Alistair! Doesn't that get your blood going? I've been practicing, you know. We could finally resolve this issue that's been plaguing us."

"It would not be proper at a night where we need to be unified," Alistair responded.

"We will be unified, my man! In fact, we'll all be unified. All of Luthadel will be unified with drinking!"

Mia cringed. It was like Julian's wit was in an arena with Julian's business side.

"I assume you like this abominable chandelier, too?" Alistair asked. Lord Ruler, Mia thought, does this boy ever disagree with his father?

"It's neat. Bold. Doesn't surprise me one bit that Mia would do something of that sort."

"You... expected this!" Everett said, temper rising.

"Well, no, of course not," Riordan said. "I can't twirl around fast enough during dancing to see the future. But you have to admit, I'm not surpised Mia would like it."

"All of the Terrisman are mad here," Everett growled. "Riordan, your servant Kavesh couldn't have knocked some sense into you by now? And Delzen. I seriously question your judgment to allow Mia to go through with this chandelier 'replacement'."

Delzen bowed. "My lord--"

"Delzen!" Mia shouted, descending the stairs. The Casuanas silenced themselves. "Everything looks fantastic, Delzen. Thank you." Delzen bowed in acknowledgment.

Mia made it to the landing, closed her eyes, and spun.

"That... um," Riordan muttered, "the tiara is quite choice."

"Agreed," Alistair said, stunned.

Mia opened her eyes and smiled. Perhaps she could actually succeed in looking good for once.

"Mia, darling," Corin said, hugging her, "you look gorgeous."

"Thank you, madam," Mia said.

Everett stepped forward. "Mia, do you have any idea what you've done."

"Yes," Mia snarled. "Precisely, intimately, exactly, and whichever other words you wish to use, I know what I'm doing. We have the Deveaux Mistborn. Two of them here, actually. The chandelier is secure. Do not press me again on the matter." Everett looked too shocked at the outburst to respond. Serves him right. "Now, Delzen, how is the meal coming along?"

"The spices and sauces on the poultry are more subdued than in actual Southern Dominance fares, but flavorful. It should be a hit, I think."

"Good. I'm not a huge fan on the extreme hot sauces, anyways. Is everything in place? Regardless of your personal distaste, Everett."

Delzen, Corin, Riordan nodded, then Alistair, and reluctantly, Everett nodded.

"Superb. We're already late. I'm going to open the atrium." She turned towards the Gallery, but Leonard, the leader of Casuana's Allomancers, entered, shuffling quickly. Simultaneously, Riordan's Terrisman, Kavesh, also entered. Men didn't have to have Terrismen to the same cultural need as women, but many liked the attention. Riordan was one such man.

Kavesh almost ran, he looked so disturbed. Mia shook her head, and glanced at Leonard.

"Apologies, my lady," Leonard said cheerfully. "Had to give some last bit of orders to my squad."

"No apology necessary." Mia glanced around. All the guards were in place. All the tables looked stunning. Skaa were prepared to pamper every noble who entered here. Things seemed ready. "Everyone, when the doors open... look sharp, all right?" Then she paced to the Gallery.

"I don't like this," Kavesh whispered to his master.

"Bah," Riordan said. "This is going to be fun. You don't have to be so reserved, man."

"Something bad is going to happen tonight, I should think. I feel it."

"Well, I feel like having a party. Trust me, Kavesh, the only bad thing will be if anyone goes after the atium and gets shot at by all the archers. Actually, let me correct my statement: it may be bad if I have too much to drink. But come now! Everything's so tense. I have to do something to get the edge off. Lord Ruler, I promise you I won't be the only one."

As Mia walked by Kavesh, something in the Terrisman's face made Mia's stomach churn. Fear. Mia did not need fear tonight. She needed strength.

"You're not listening to me, my lord," Kavesh said.

Mia closed her eyes, pretending to not hear the words as she walked away. The Terrisman's voice faded, and Mia worked her way into the Grand Gallery. The main doors to the Gallery towered almost three-fourths the way to the second floor, easily double Mia's unwomanly height. She didn't want to go through that door, for she wanted to make a speech before the participants got their view of the ballroom. Instead, she took a small door to the right of the main door. It was one of the hidden entrances to the tight hallway that spanned the entire circumference of the Ballroom. Its short dark corridor led just around a quick corner into the Grand Gallery.

She opened the door and peered out, where she saw practically the whole of the Gallery filled to the brim with nobility. Was I hiding behind the column so long? From this small side entrance, the nobles stretched to the right of her vision, all gossiping, the sound concatenating into a near-roar. Mia took a deep breath, trying to stand as straight as an arrow, and strode into the Gallery. She halted when she stood directly in front of the massive doors, adjacent to four guards.

"Greetings, lords and ladies," Mia said. Their voices silenced. She could see the various emotions on their faces. Some were eager. Some were annoyed at the wait. Some were annoyed that their conversations were interrupted. But Mia avoided Camille Deveaux's gaze, and surpressed a tinge of rage at seeing Nevan.

Mia clasped her hands together. This was her first Ball, and she needed to make an impression. Everything had to go flawlessly, she needed to appear strong. And most of all, she probably needed to not say anything stupid--though that would be impossible at this point. How often did the House Lord personally address the crowd? Not overly often, and certainly not at the beginning of the Ball.

Something did feel off, now that she scanned the corridor. The nobility seemed a bit too happy. Lord Ruler, she thought in horror, there's no Inquisitor here! Damn the Inquisition! Of course they wouldn't listen to Mia's request. That Ministry carriage was probably just there bringing some minor obligator, or maybe solely to spite Mia.

That made Mia's task quite a bit harder, for now the nobles felt very little intimidation. At least without an Inquisitor, Julian's fake attack would go without a hitch.

Mia, Julian's voice seemed to echo in her mind, and she remembered his touch that she felt yesterday. You can do this.

Mia grinned. Yes, she could.

"Tonight, my friends, you will get a night to remember. I am certain you've had fine Southern Dominance cuisine at Keep Lekal and Keep Hasting's Balls, but tonight, I offer you much more than excellent music and spicy Southern foods. I have two friendly competitions that any may enter. Both will have a prize for the winner. The first, for those so inclined to test Casuana's might, we have a dueling competition. I do hope the young men here have practiced with their dueling canes. More on this after the dinner. The second, which should be open to a much wider audience, will be a ballroom dancing competition. Both of these should be fun endeavors.

"You will see tonight that House Casuana is stronger than ever, and a force to be reckoned with in Luthadel. We will not lose." She grinned, nodding to her guards. Their armor was exquisite, and mirrored the best Casuana has to offer.

"With that, I think we should open the atrium, wouldn't you agree?"

Mia nodded to the two guards, who pulled open the massive doors. Each half of the doorway made a deep thud as they hit the sides of the Grand Gallery. Music floated out from the far side of the fountain, where the orchestra pit lay, and filled the Grand Gallery with its comforting tones. Mia turned to view upon the ballroom.

Her eyes focused on the fountain, of course. Casuana prided it as spraying taller than any other indoor fountain in Luthadel. Today, surrounding the fountains were a ring of hazekillers, with hardly inches of space in between them. Around the fountain was the large, wooden dance floor. Both the fountain and the dance area appeared to be sunken into the ground from Mia's view, but this was simply an effect that, because the atrium's entrance from the Gallery had six stairs leading up to it, Mia was now elevated from ground level. All the dining tables sat on this elevated space around the dance floor. Despite the amount of tables, there would be plenty of mingling room, too.

On both the far left and far right of the rise, there were large, spiral staircases leading to the second level. Directly ahead of Mia, beyond the fountain, was the large Casuana table, where she would sit with Leonard, Everett, and all the other Casuanas, as well as the Deveauxs. That was the longest table in the atrium. But no one sat there now; Leonard, Everett, Corin, Riordan and Alistair, and Delzen stood next to the entrance in two lines, as to greet the attendees.

Mia walked a few paces forward. The dining area had a shorter ceiling, which blocked her view of the chandelier. Now, she could see it as everyone else would as they entered.

"Ah, I think I recognize that metal," Mia said. Everett glared at her harshly, but today, Mia didn't care. This chandelier would show all the nobility that Casuana was strong and unafraid.

Atium. Casuana's atium was on the chandelier.

Mia had gotten the entire sum of the Steel Ministry contract--the very contract which caused her to break contract with Venture and Sureau--in atium, and at a discounted price at that. It was a colossal benefit for Casuana's smiths, and a huge blow to their Hasting rivals. The Ball was to show Casuana's strength, and showing off Casuana's wealth works well for that endeavor. This wasn't so different than showing off weaponry. Except that this was the most valuable thing in the whole Final Empire. Certainly, no one had been so bold to do such a thing with atium.

Or so stupid, she reminded herself. By placing most of her wealth in one spot, things could go badly in a matter of moments. That was why she ordered Camille and Damien to stay in the atrium, so that if any enemy Mistborn tried to Pull on it, there would be Allomancers protecting it. If an Allomancer Pushed up to grab it, Cyrille's archers would rain a shower of obsidian-tipped arrows regardless of the external situation. The atium would be protected.

The chandelier, if Mia glazed her eyes, was like a gigantic cone, the point directly at the apex of the fountain below. There was a central rod which span its height, with concentric rings built out of it. The largest ring was at the top, and then a foot down, the next ring was slightly thinner, and so on, until the bottom. From each of the rings hung glass--both translucent and stained--and for tonight, Mia added double sided silver mirrors. The chandelier itself did not emit light, but it came reflecting down from the limelights above. The different colored glass along with the mirrors produced a striking effect on the worst of days.

Today was the best of days. This was actually a separate chandelier entirely, a duplicate. The glass had been moved from the real one. This chandelier needed to be a duplicate, for the beads of atium had been forge-welded right onto the metal. So, on the top of each ring of the chandelier (with exception of the top one), Mia could see little beads of atium through the myriad of glass and mirrors. The mirrors and glass, as well as the silver coated metal superstructure of the chandelier, were all designed to distract a Mistborn's ironlines away from the atium itself. And, the atium could not simply be torn off in an instant, as the welds were quite strong. A few beads were closer together at the bottom of the chandelier, so all who looked at it could realize this was atium. At the very bottom hung three beads in a glass ball. That was the only vulnerable part to the atium chandelier. The effect was striking, so Mia kept it. Besides, if a Mistborn made a run for it--a Venture Mistborn, perhaps--their identity would be immediately revealed.

In all respects, there wasn't that much atium on the chandelier, or at least localized in one specific area. Atium cost so much! And of course, some of the atium had been given to Cami and Damien, but it awed Mia seeing it in all of its glory. There was enough atium that anyone who knew what the metal looked like would be in awe, too.

Mia turned to face the nobles behind her. "Welcome," she bellowed with verve that shocked her, "to the Casuana Ball."

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#116 Davinna Casuana


  • The Prettiest Little Inquisitor

26
Chunky the Mistwraith
  • Allomantic StatusSo incredibly open.

Posted 05 September 2010 - 09:14 AM

Davinna knew the entire layout of Keep Casuana. She had lived here for a number of years before her advancement into the ranks of the Inquisitors, and she knew every hidden passageway, every secret alcove, every stone to be found within. She could not forget them if she wanted to, her near-prefect memory recalling the details as she sped silently through the hidden corridors that led into the Casuana Atrium. She moved more by instinct and memory than by actual sight - such as it was when one viewed the world the way that she now did.

Davinna giggled; the pretty blue lines looked friendly this evening. She'd play with them later.

In her mind, she saw herself, sans Hemalurgic spikes, walking these halls. Licking her lips, she flared her gold, and the image became clearer. She looked so beautiful...

Her father had sent her here, an entire lifetime ago, to learn. To learn the ways of Luthadel, the inner aspects of House Casuana and it's holdings, and how to live among the powerful and delve deep into the games the nobility played amongst themselves.

That's what he had said, of course, as he'd set her off on the voyage that had brought her here from the Southern Dominance. She knew the truth, though, even back then. The entire purpose was the balls. Introduce her to the nobles, flaunt her charms before rivals and allies alike, and find a match that would grant Casuana greater rewards. As a noble-born woman without the gift of Allomancy, there was little else she was good for.

There had been lessons, of course; she had not been taught much in her father's house. And she had learned the lessons, as uninteresting as they had been. More time had been spent with her books, and after the Revelation, Davinna had removed herself from the tedious - if admittedly luxurious - life of nobility for a higher calling.

She reached the end of the corridor and slipped through the hidden entryway, onto the second level of the atrium. The room was deserted, as she had anticipated - Mia had yet to allows the guests inside.

Her gold continued to burn slowly, and in her mind she saw herself entering the atrium, smiling in anticipation at the events that were to come. This was her ball, it seemed, if she had made the choices that had led to taking over House Casuana. Devoting herself to the life of the nobility. How utterly boring. She liked the dress she wore however, a deep red slashed with gold, backless and flowing down her slender form. And her hair!

Such lovely red curls...

Davinna snorted, her lips pulling back into a wide, toothy grin. Yet again proof that she'd made the right choices. The gold continued to burn, however, and her mind recorded what it showed even as her attention returned to the present.

Perching upon the railing that cordoned the edge of the second level, Davinna scanned the room, her attention drifting to the chandelier that hung above. Her face took on a quizzical expression, and she cocked her head to the side. She had never seen that before; it seemed to redecorating had been done in her absence. Fascinating and frustrating, it's very construction diverting and distracting her blue line friends, causing them to dance in a way most erratic. Bothersome.

One line remained steady, however, and at it's end was something quite interesting. Atium? In the chandelier? She filed the information away.

'I wonder what Aerouna's doing right now?' She thought to herself, giggling again as she imagined the other Inquisito sitting around, bored to tears without her bestest friend Davinna around. More likely she was off killing someone; Aerouna always got the best assignments. At least she got to wear a pretty dress tonight, one hand idly running over the smooth black silk, the feel of it exquisite against her skin. It was solid black, save for a few threads of silver running downward, catching the light when she moved in just the right way.

It was a slender cut, hugging her curves tightly yet hiding the bulges of her spikes, with a small diamond-cut window in the chest, revealing a glimpse of the curves the rest of the dress only teased at. She wore no jewelry save for six small rings running along the shell of her left ear - six small zincminds, filled with additional mental speed she doubted she would need to tap tonight. She could think faster than most of these people during the days she filled her zincminds, but it was best to be prepared.

The seventeen allomantic vials hidden about her person were additional insurance. She giggled to herself, letting her mind briefly wander into a delightful fantasy. In her minds eye she could almost see the blood as it splattered against the floor...

A faint sound brought her immediately back to reality. Burning tin, Davinna focused, listening from her perch. She could ear voices on the other side of the door, mutterings and conversations that bore her no interest. They were suddenly cut off, however, by a voice the Inquisitor hadn't heard in years. "Mia.." she whispered to herself, licking her lips. Her mind began racing, sorting through all the details she had taken in, listening as the woman on the other side of the door spoke. The festivities would begin soon.

She bared her teeth and, burning iron, found an anchor away from the chandelier and Pulled herself upwards. A moment later the doors swung open, and Mia stepped inside.

"Welcome," she heard Mia say, her voice reverberating through the empty atrium, "to the Casuana Ball."

Taking this as her cue, Davinna extinguished her iron and let herself fall from the ceiling. Her dress fluttered in the air slightly, exposing her legs as she twisted herself upright; at the last moment, she grasped an anchor and Pulled lightly, reducing her velocity to keep from damaging the floor - she was a guest, after all. She landed in a low crouch, her feet hitting the floor in a resounding crash less than a pace in front of Mia. She kept her tin burning, relishing the screams of surprise and terror from the assembled nobles.

Rising slowly, she grinned, teeth bared and dimples prominent. She heard several gasps as she lifted her head, polished eyespikes gleaming under the light of the chandelier. Davinna held back a giggle, the taste of their fear sweet and tangy against her tongue. In the Could-Have-Been, unspiked Davinna was greeting her guests with grace and aplomb as she led them into the atrium.

"Yes..." Davinna said, speaking in time with her alternate self, greeted the guests. "Welcome... to what I can promise will be a truly... unforgettable night."

While the words spoken were identical to those of her gold-induced double, the reactions to them were anything but.

#117 Daerra Elariel


  • Heir's Sister

357
Looking Good in Red
  • Age23

  • Relationship StatusSingle

  • OriginLuthadel

  • Allomantic StatusHidden

Posted 05 September 2010 - 02:57 PM

Daerra's mind worked furiously, trying to find ways that the spectacle in front of her could endanger her plans. She didn't see any of note, and those she saw weren't all that likely. As for the Atium chandelier, and what else could it be, with Mia clumsily drawing attention to it herself, and a ring of hazekillers in the room, Daerra was suddenly very glad she chose the earrings she did, and that she and Aaron had abandoned their plan to go for the Casuana cache. Guarded as it was, in plain sight, it would be nearly impossible. Idly, she wondered at what she and Mia might have inadvertantly done. This could spur the other nobility to display their atium more openly, in attempts to outdo one another. After seeing this chandelier, Daerra wouldn't be surprised if by the next ball wearing atium had become the newest trend. Yes, she was glad of her earrings, it always paid to be ahead of fashion.

Then there was an inquisitor. The creature made her want to shudder with it's maniacal grin. What was Mia thinking? With this 'show of strength' she could easily end up alienating herself from the other houses. Or was it all part of the inquisition?

Daerra put her concerns about the inquisitor and her evening aside and strode forward. She had been weaving along the edge of the crowd towards Aaron and Phyra, and although she hadn't reached them yet, she was one of the closest to the door. Definitely the closest to get over the shock of seeing both the treasure trove of atium on the chandalier and an inquisitor.

"Lady Mia," she said as she approached, curtsying gracefully to both Mia and the inquisitor, "And your grace, of course. Your ballroom looks splendid. I can tell this really will be a night to remember." Daerra checked her hair with a hand, not that it needed it (the style was perfect, not a single stray). The action was to draw attention to the earrings, of course. I see your wealth, her casual actions said, But I've brought a mere piece of my own, and I probably thought up showing it off first. "My that chandelier looks marvelous!"



#118 Camille Deveaux


  • Daughter of Lord Deveaux

562
Atium Chandelier
  • Age18

  • Relationship StatusSingle

  • OriginLuthadel

  • Allomantic StatusHidden

Posted 05 September 2010 - 03:07 PM

Atium.

There was Atium. All. Over. The. Chandelier.

"Camille?" came Nevan's concerned voice. Softly, so no one else would hear. "Are you all right? You're. Um. Holding on to my arm quite tightly."

Camille mumbled a distracted apology, but her entire effort was focused on keeping her face calm. Calm. Not livid, but poised and in control. What she wouldn't have given for Damien's Soothing right now! Was Mia out of her bloody mind? This was the reason she and Damien were to be confined to the Atrium instead of doing anything more useful in the attack? So they could announce their Mistborn status to the world if some Lurcher so much as Pulled on a Deepness-cursed chandelier! And for a House that wasn't even their own, no less!

Camille loved her cousin dearly, but the woman had gone too far this time.

Camille was so lost in thought - and in trying to keep herself together - that she didn't notice anything else had happened until she felt Nevan's grip on her tightening in an almost protective manner.

"Lord Ruler," he breathed, still maintaining his soft tone from earlier. "Why is one of those here?"

Ah yes, the Inquisitor. It was a woman, surprisingly, and different from the one Camille knew. But.... why was an Inquisitor wearing a ball gown? What in the Lord Ruler's name was going on in this Keep? Had the entire House gone mad?

"The rebellion is growing bolder," Camille whispered back, giving Nevan's arm a reassuring squeeze. "Perhaps the Ministry fears an attack."

"The rebellion? Attack a ball? Camille, that's ridiculous."

Not as ridiculous as you think.

"I hope you're right," she said instead, giving him what she hoped was a reassuring smile. "Come on. Let's go greet my cousin, shall we?"

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#119 Aaron Elariel


  • Elariel Heir

357
Looking Good in Red
  • Age23

  • Relationship StatusSingle

  • OriginLuthadel

  • Allomantic StatusHidden

Posted 05 September 2010 - 07:03 PM

She actually wants to hear my theory? Aaron was surprised. He'd expected Phyra to laugh and brush him off. What do I say now? He knew better than anyone how ridiculous his theory was, and somehow he didn't feel as comfortable spouting nonsense here as he had with Marisha and Lucille. I really hope Phyra won't mind me stealing dances with them.

Luckily, he was saved by Mia Casuana's timely entrance, and the opening of the great doors from the gallery into the atrium. He looked up when she drew attention to her chandelier and saw... atium? She had atium on her chandelier? He thought it improbable, but he recognized the metal as the same as what he had stolen from the geologist's safe. Aaron resisted the urge to burn iron to see if the beads were real. He had no smoker, and there were a lot of hazekillers in the room. He couldn't risk it, not yet at least. Perhaps he could ask Claudia later.

Then the inquisitor showed up. Aaron was almost too overwhelmed to be shocked a second time. First atium, and now this? He doubted a stranger inquisitor could be found anywhere. First of all, it was a woman, wearing a ball gown no less. And by the grin plastered on her face she could pass for a fourteen year old girl at her first ball. If you left out the bald head and eye spikes of course.

Seeing Daerra greet Lady Casuana and enter (and she would be first in, wouldn't she?), Aaron remembered himself. How long had he been sitting out here waiting? Now he found himself hesitant to enter. The was an inquisitor over there, for the Lord Ruler's sake. In a ball gown!

"Well Lady Phyra," he said in a voice far steadier than he felt, "It seems the revelation of my mathematic genius shall have to wait. Shall we enter?"



#120 Mia Casuana


  • Lady of House Casuana

102
High House Noble
  • Age27

  • Relationship StatusMarried to Julian Casuana

  • OriginLuthadel

Posted 05 September 2010 - 07:24 PM

Mia's eyes widened as the Inquisitor fell to the ground. At first, it pleased her, as that meant the Inquisition actually listened to her petition. But, why... why was it wearing a dress?

"Yes..." the Inquisitor said. "Welcome... to what I can promise will be a truly... unforgettable night."

An Inquisitor in a dress. Another female Inquisitor--this one was not Aerouna. The thought that not even girls were safe from that transformation disturbed Mia. She seemed to recognize that peculiar voice. Then it hit her: this was Davinna.

Lord Ruler, Mia thought. She'd known Davinna was in the Ministry, but an Inquisitor? Mia shuddered.

"Y-your grace," Mia managed. "I am pleased you could be here."

Fortunately, before Davinna could respond, Daerra Elariel curtsied to Mia. Daerra casually checked her hair to reveal her atium earrings. It didn't perturb Mia tonight. She doubted anyone could top that chandelier--at least, not at this Ball.

"I'm quite fond of it," Mia said when Daerra commented on the chandelier. "Your earrings look lovely as well, Lady Elariel."

Mia remembered what Julian had said of Daerra. He had never liked her; something dark and unpleasant lay beneath her beauty. Julian warned Mia to avoid the Elariel.

But Mia could not afford this tonight. The Elariels were the only people who could truly stand up to the Ventures. Mia did not for one second believe a Venture-Deveaux alliance would happen. There was too much deep seated anger between the two Houses. And Cami and Nevan better not get together anyways!

The Elariels needed to be shown that Casuana could hold its own. Perhaps lull them into an alliance. This entire show of power could alienate virtually all of the noble houses in the Central Dominance. Mia had already done that by breaking contract with Venture and Sureau anyways. She needed allies for the coming conflict, which meant that she could not afford to avoid the Elariels. Her conversation with Claudia was so kind. It gave Mia a glimmer of hope.

She just had to not screw it up.

Mia looked over her shoulder and saw Cami coming toward her. Mia paled. At least it motivated her to keep talking with Daerra.

"Your Elariel dresses always astound me," Mia said, suppressing her fear of Cami. "The entire ensemble is perfection."

Come on, Cami, don't bother me now. Actually, don't bother me tonight at all. Mia tensed. Camille, not confronting Mia? That would be as likely as the Lord Ruler dying of old age.

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