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Mistborn: The Inquisition


The Casuana Ball, Part II: Serenity and Steel


Delissia's Photo Delissia 02 Oct 2010

Delissia smiled broadly when Efram came into view. The man had wasted no time at all. Perhaps she hadn't made a total bungle of things! When he asked her to dance she had to resist the urge to jump eagerly to her feet.

"Of course I shall except your invitation, Lord Efram. And I apologize that my eagerness has delayed our debut on the dance floor for so long." She curtsied with all the grace she could muster, took his hand, and travelled with him onto the dance floor. As they began moving, it became clear that Efram was a very talented dancer. Delissia preened. Being a woman, it was always difficult to dance with a lead who was less skilled than yourself. She wondered, as they moved gracefully from step to step, how good his concentration was.

"I hope you don't mind talking while you dance, Lord Efram, because I always find dancing is an excellent time for conversation," she paused as they broke apart, and then continued when they came back together. "After all, a lady can't be miss out on a chance for socializing, even when she is scheduled to spend most of the night dancing," she paused again for a turn. She held her hand out gracefully, stepped with precision, and soon was facing him again. He really was good! "You are a very good lead, Lord Efram. Tell me, are you naturally this talented, or have you had an instructor?"

Aaron Elariel's Photo Aaron Elariel 02 Oct 2010

Aaron sat stiffly in his chair as Efram left. The two gentlemen had been entertaining, and had graciously ignored Phyra's mood swings and unexpected riotings. He wondered how he had ever not noticed what so so obvious to him now! He hadn't really been able to enjoy the two men's company as he usually did, he had been too embarassed for Phyra. Did the woman feel no shame? Later, when all was said and done, he would have to apologize to Aldwin and Efram.

The dance floor was already filling with couples. Surprisingly, he even spotted one of Daerra's retinue, the Demesne mistborn by her clothing, dancing with who he thought was Marisha's brother. It was interesting, he hadn't thought the strange woman enjoyed dancing. Daerra was firmly ensconced with her ladies, as usual. Aaron sighed at that. His sister, in his opinion, was actually quite a good dancer. It was a pity she didn't do it more often. Some day, he would teach her to have a little fun. Life wasn't all about politics after all. In his opinion, politics was but the smallest part.

Aaron remained sitting, alone with his thoughts, trying to remain calm, and avoid the fact that he was sitting next to Phyra Venture. Lord Ruler, could he handle a dance with the woman? Despite her beauty, the woman now made Aaron's skin crawl. His wavering feelings of curiousity for the woman's secrets vanished. Might as well begin now, I suppose. However, deciding that, and putting Daerra's plan into action were two entirely different things. What in the world could he say? Finally, noticing that the silence between them had already stretched long enough to be awkward, Aaron decided to let it continue. He would let her speak first, and then play off what she said. He did, however, continue to sit rigidly enough to rival Damien Deveaux, crossed his arms over his chest, and waited. He had dealt with her behaviour long enough, let her deal with some of his!

Viridian Demesne's Photo Viridian Demesne 03 Oct 2010

*Bold text used with the permission and dictation by Marisha Nathar

Polka! The Polka! Viridian blinked, had he said his favorite dance was the POLKA! Nerid was the most bizarre creature she had ever met. Her curiosity was now in such a blaze it threatened to consume her, "Th... the Polka?" Viridian glanced down at him, "Is that not... a bit... a bit of a lark of a dance? Not really a thing of elegance? Not a common choice by any regard?"

"Uh..." Nerid began uncertainly. "I guess? I don't know; I always liked it best! I like it because it's fast," he repeated. "And the music is more fun. I guess not a lot of people like it." That was what she meant by saying it wasn't a common choice, right? He wasn't completely sure.
"...but I still do," he said, stubbornly, holding out despite the feeling he was starting to get that she disapproved.

More fun! she thought, frowning. She fell quiet for a moment, merely observing him. His features his movements, his... enthusiasm... and finally, it clicked. He is like a child, she thought to herself, but he wasn't a child at all, he was a man, why was he...

Her eyes went wide and she nearly stumbled, in fact had she not been such an automatic dancer she would have surely stumbled but the simplicity of her form made it easy for her to recover. Physically she had recovered but psychologically she felt a sudden rush of emotion like nothing she could recall feeling before. He's broken! she thought, her lips parting, awed.

Nerid felt Viridian step wrongly, and he caught her arm to try to steady her; she'd already recovered though. He bit his lip, seeing the sudden change in her expression. He was fairly certain it was his fault, somehow, and maybe he'd made her trip, too. Maybe she was completely horrified at what he'd said. "...I'm sorry?" he tried, a little note of unhappiness creeping into his voice. "Are you angry at me?"

What was this? Was it anger? It did not feel like anger, she knew how to create anger, this did not feel like that... it didn't feel like that at all. This was something alien, something else, something she hadn't felt in to long, something she had lost. She couldn't explain it, certainly she could not identify it... but it was beautiful, whatever it was it was very near serene.

All at once she broke into a smile, an honest smile as had ever come, she caught Nerid's attention and she said, "No," shaking her head, she took care to look him right in his broken eyes. Broken like me... well not broken in the way that I am broken, but broken just as I am, "No Nerid I am not angry with you. If there is a Polka, I would... very much like to dance with you."

The transformation was immediate; all in one moment the cloud was wiped away from Nerid's face, and his smile was back in force. Viridian's smile had a synergistic effect. He didn't smile, he grinned, almost conspiratorial. "Good! I'm glad you aren't, and you have to put that on your dance card, that you promised me the polka if there is one!" He was going to remind her about it, too, if she forgot. "You smiled properly!" he pointed out, still grinning. "You didn't earlier, I mean you smiled, but you didn't really smile. So you do like the polka!"

She blanched. Smiled! Vie you stupid thing!. She didn't glance around or make otherwise an obvious movement of revelation, but she feared Nerid might have caught even that subtle change... Marisha had been hiding this. She was hiding Nerid, it was the only logical connection she could make, and here Viridian had brought him into the open, made a spectacle of him. "Not the polka Nerid," she told him as warmly as possible without revealing anything more across her features, in fact she had schooled her expression back to that sheen of ice she was most accustomed to wearing, "I appreciate your company, nothing more." Mercifully the music dyed down signaling the end of this first dance, "and I believe that is the end of our first encounter. May luck bring us a polka. Come," she motioned slightly with her head, your sister will be worrying I think?"

The music was coming to a close, and Nerid bowed neatly, before he gave her his arm and began to lead her from the floor, back to the table. "Thank you, m'Lady!" he said, cheerfully. She liked him, she'd just said so, and she wanted to be his friend - he didn't have very many, since he?
wasn't allowed to go out very often in Luthadel. "I really like you, too," he added, "and I hope we can be friends. And you should smile more!"

Viridian merely nodded. Slipping free of his arm to return to her seat. She glanced across the table as if to watch Nerid as he sat, using the chance to observe Marisha. The woman was sitting straighter, Viridian thought her almost taut. Her features carefully controlled, with perhaps a slight tightening around the eyes. Careful, but was it careful enough? Could Viridian even rightly assume she was really seeing anything at all? Perhaps she was merely being paranoid?

"Your brother is quite the gentlemen," Viridian told her in her usual dead voice, "He ought to take care though, least he draw the eye's of lady Phyra, or perhaps our wayward Inquisitor there." she offered Nerid an almost... teasing smile... almost succeeding, "he seems to have acquired a taste for dangerous women." Her smile toward Marisha was something of a grimace mixed with a sneer... she wanted to appear cold, uncaring, as though merely observing. At the same time she did not want to see Nerid wind up at the wrong table. This was the best she could offer by way of warning without drawing up undue suspicion.

Daerra Elariel's Photo Daerra Elariel 03 Oct 2010

The first dance ended, and Daerra remained at her table. She found it mroe difficult to contain her frustration than ever before when Viridian and Nerid returned to the table. Had she really seen Viridian smile out on the dance floor? She didn't think she'd ever seen the woman genuinely do so before. Normally, she kept that sullen deadpan expresion almost indefinately. When Viridian Demesne did smile, it was with extreme awkwardness. Was the woman amused with Nerid's temperment? Or had Daerra misjudged him? She didn't think so, but could she be sure. As they returned Daerra wondered idly if he would ask her to dance. He might be simple, but was really quite good.

Lady Laura mentioned something about the cut of one of the Lady's gowns, no doubt meant to shame Viridian. Lara agreed with her, and then mentioned Phyra, bloody, Venture again. Be patient. You'll be free of that woman soon enough. Lady Lyra continued to stare dreamily at Mikhail. Did these women see how ridiculous they were? Did they really think the cuts of gowns and latest gossip was important. Daerra found herself fighting to keep her face attentive, something she had never had to do before. Had she drunk too much wine? No, that couldn't be it. She had to keep up appearances though, so she continued her little act, laughing at Lady Laura's off colour jokes like they were the funniest thing in the world, and nodding like a lunatic to everything Lady Lara said. Lord Ruler, what did it take to be asked to dance in the Final Empire?

Inadvertantly, her eyes strayed to where some of the Raisaals were sitting. She didn't know any of them, she had only met a few members of that house, despite an alliance being in the works. Those arrangements were kept secret of course, Elariel coudln't be seen to be anything but neutral in these times, but Daerra had a more personal connection to the Raisaals. Two of them had once saved her life. She hadn't known it at the time, but one of them was the heir. Fool, do you really think he'll come? On their last encounter, which was nearly three years ago, Daerra, thinking him a lesser lord, and granted his request for a dance in return for saving her life. She had thought she was being generous. She hadn't known till a few days later she had been talking down to the heir of House Raisaal. While not important at the time, Raisall had recently risen to the status of a Great House. Why would he want to dance with you anyways, after how you treated him? Daerra began shaking her head, but covered by holding her head for a moment as if it hurt. Her ladies shot her concerned glances, but she waved them aside and bid them to continue their chatter. Daerra merely sighed. It really was going to be a long night.

Daerra nearly jumped out of her seat when Lady Lara placed a hand lightly on her arm. "Lady Daerra," she said softly. "Is that not Lord Caden Hasting approaching the table?" Daerra snuck a quick glance and saw that indeed it was. She nodded to Lady Lara to signify her glance, and then began to studiously ignore the direction Caden was coming at her from. Caden was one of the potential heirs to the Hasting household. He was also one of the most unpleasant escorts Daerra had been set up with. At least, in her point of view. He was also the type of man who took indifference in a lady as a challenge. Normally it drove Daerra mad. Today, it might be just what she needed.

"Lady Daerra," he said when he was close enough. He held up a hand to forstall any objections. "I know I offended you, and I apologize, as I have dozens of times." He had apologized once, and barely. He hadn't even known what for. "I cannot live with myself until I have earned your forgiveness, and redeemed myself in your eyes." More likely his latest attempt at garnering favour with the other Great Houses had flopped. The competition between him and his cousin Colette for the house title was supposed to be fierce, and Caden was known for taking any edge he could get. In a way, Daerra almost hoped he reached his goal. She didn't think she could bare it if another woman came to power before she did.

Lord Caden was still speaking though, and Daerra realized she had been nodding absently. She didn't stop. If she was going to dance with the fellow, she would have to be believable. Her glass was still half full and so she took another sip as she listened. "And so, I humbly submit myself for rejection, knowing that my heart is in your beautiful hands, in the hopes that you will honour me with a dance this evening."

Daerra stared at him without saying anything. The table around her seemed to have grown silent. Ladies Bellamont, Champney, and Pomeroy had their full attention on her, mouths ready to deride Caden when she chose to reject him. Daerra always tried to be courteous, but when it came to certain men, her rejections had become one of her ladies' greatest forms of entertainment.

Daerra continued her stare, looking straight into his eyes. There was confidence there, certainly, an Daerra itched to take him down a peg, or perhaps three. She detested men like Caden, who thought that their inborn charisma and high birth granted them unfailing luck with women. He wasn't even legitimate, if rumour was to be believed! But if she knew if she rejected him, other men would take the hint, and she would lose her chance to hit the dance floor. She looked at her wine glass, as if considering. She knew what she had to do.

"You have persuaded me, Lord Caden. I hope my generosity is not misplaced." As she finished speaking she drained her wine glass. Her head spun slightly as she set it down, but it cleared quickly. The watered wine was working well. She smiled at the looks on her ladies' faces. Whether for her acceptance of Lord Caden's invitation, or for her draining of the glass, she was uncertain, but each bore expressions of shock so comical, Daerra giggled as she stood. She nearly frowned at that. Daerra Elariel never giggled.

As she stood, perhaps a tad too quickly, her head spun slightly. How much had she drank? The dizziness certainly helped with her act, but Daerra was worried. Could she keep a clear enough head to do what she had to? After a few moments, and a slight stumble, the dizziness cleared however, and Daerra felt fine again. It was probably just drinking that last bit so quickly. I'm fine. "Shall we dance, Lord Caden, or are you going to stare all day?" she extended her hand for him to take. Maybe tonight wouldn't be dull after all.

Claudia Elariel's Photo Claudia Elariel 04 Oct 2010

Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. The dancers so far had been the picture of grace in motion. Even Lady Viridian seemed to have enjoyed her turn on the floor with Lord Nerid. Unless Claudia had been mistaken she thought she had even seen the woman smile. Mikhail had been watching, bemused. She knew that his offer to Viridian had been no more than courtesy - it was well known that she never danced. His eyes had shown his shocked when she accepted Nerid?s offer. ?Well, ladies,? Mikhail finally said, ?I think it is time I enjoyed a dance or two. If you wold excuse me, I think I spied Lady Collette some time ago. Perhaps she would grace me.?

He slid his chair back and executed a polite bow. His eyes found hers and she could see the stern warning in them. He wanted her out there, dancing, and learning what she could - but how was she to accomplish this when she was also well known to keep to herself? Asking someone would be the height of impropriety and yet it was her only choice. As he walked away in search of a partner, lady Collette or someone else, Claudia scanned the room. Her eyes settled on Damien Deveaux. She did not know him well but he was unaccompanied this night. If she went and spoke to him, perhaps to welcome him back to Lutahdel, no one could take that as anything but good manners. In fact she might be able to arrange for him to ask her to dance, if she played her cards right. If not speaking to him was certainly going to be preferable to sitting here stewing in her own problems.Then again, the Deveauxs had always itinerated her. They were so confidant, so certain of their place.

As she considered this Lord Caden Hastings approached and invited Daerra to dance. She was somewhat amused as her cousin accepted his offer and finished yet another glass of wine. Was the woman determined to get unreservedly drunk this evenig? At this rate she?d be carrying her cousin inside when they returned to Keep Elariel.

She forced that kind of thinking aside. She was Lady Claudia Elariel, scion of one of the most powerful houses in the Final Empire and Mistborn to boot. She had nothing to fear from the Deveauxs. ?I think I shall excuse myself as well,? she remarked to. ?There are a number of people here I should at least say my hellos to.? She offered a smile to her cousin?s coterie of friends, to Marisha and her brother, and finally even to Viridian.

Claudia rose slowly and smoothed her skirts. She fixed a soft smile on her face and glided across the room keeping well clear of the dance floor. She made her way to where Damien Deveaux was seated. She paused a respectful distance away. ?Lord Damien,? she said softly. It occured to her that this was the first time she had gone out of her way to speak to someone who could be considered her equal at a ball in years. ?I...I wanted to have the opportunity to welcome you back to Luthadel. I know we have never been well acquainted but I wanted to extend the welcome of my family. Have you found the city comfortable since your return??

Aaron Elariel's Photo Aaron Elariel 07 Oct 2010

The silence stretched on, growing more awkward every minute. Aaron mercilessly stomped down the urge to make some joke to ease the strain time and time again. This was serious, after all. Somehow, he had to provoke Phyra Venture, and then spurn her. But how was he to do that? Especially when she seemed content, or at least resigned, to sitting in silence? He supposed he could just go dance with Marisha now. That, however, would likely end with Phyra trying to get him back, and would perhaps spawn some sort of competition between the two women. No, he had to make sure Phyra wanted nothing to do with him when he asked Marisha to dance. That was Daerra's plan, and he was determined to stick to it.

I may have to wait to dance with Marisha... but dancing with someone else would certainly up the tension. He thought it might even spark the kind of fight Daerra was hoping for. And hadn't he also promised Lady Lucille a dance? Aaron couldn't help but smiling. The Deveaux was pretty, and didn't seem as stand-offish as her cousins. He was willing to bet, however, that her fun attitude did not exclude her from the Deveaux talent for dance. Aaron himself had always preferred duelling to dancing, and flying through the mists to both, but he was coordinated and the steps had been drilled into his head enough times that he was more than competent.

"Lady Phyra, I'll have to beg your forgiveness. I wasn't thinking for a moment, earlier this week, and asked Lady Lucille Deveaux to save a dance for me tonight. I've only just remembered asking her, and I know I am your escort, but it would be awful of me to cancel on the poor girl. It is her first ball in Luthadel, after all. I hope you'll excuse me." Aaron didn't wait for a response. He just turned and left. He'd let her stew for a while. He was willing to bet that once his dance with Lady Lucille was done, Phyra would be more than ready lash out at him. And when she did he would be ready.

He spotted Lucille across the dance floor, mingling. Keeping her within his sights, he set a purposeful stride towards her. He was almost there when Caden Hasting danced in front him with his newest attempt at gaining power on his arm. On the whole, Aaron didn't mind the fellow, however he stayed away from him because Daerra absolutely detested... Daerra? Aaron could hardly believe his eyes. Daerra Elariel, his sister, was dancing with Caden Hasting, the man she had moaned about for days after being set up with him a few balls ago. Not only that but she was... amazing! Usually, Daerra took too dancing as if it were a battle. Her steps were precise and her movements graceful, but there was usually very little joy or flair in them. Tonight, however, her movements were magic, with enough flair to rival any of the couples on the floor. Upon closer inspection, Aaron realized she was even smiling. Beaming, actually. His sister was having fun, dancing with Caden Hasting of all people.

Seeing them dance opened Aaron eyes to the other partnerships on the floor. Camille and Nevan seemed to glide across the dance floor, and every turn sent Camille's magnificent gown fluttering. Just as magnificent were Mia Casuana and Aldwin Tekiel, as they completed one complex maneuver after another. Efram also seemed to be having a good time, dancing with that red-haired minor noblewoman from before. Aaron felt suddenly self-concious. What would he look like dancing among these graceful pairs? Could he match up?

Aaron shook the doubts away. He was on a mission. If her expression could be trusted, something Aaron was never sure of, Daerra was actually having fun for once. Even if she wasn't, she was certainly enjoying herself more than she would be ensconced at her table. Perhaps she was finally realizing there was more to life than politics and scheming. If that was the case, Aaron wasn't going to distract her from her discovery by bungling her carefully thought out plan. I've had enough nights of fun, sister. Tonight it's your turn.

He crossed the remaining distance to where Lucille was standing without incident, and bowed when he reached her. "Pardon me, Lady Lucille, but I believe I promised you a dance this evening. Will you join me on the floor?"

Damien Deveaux's Photo Damien Deveaux 08 Oct 2010

Damien suppressed a sigh; apparently the Inquisitor - who was apparently a Casuana, come to find out - had taken it upon herself to torment him whenever possible. Where most people took his distant mannerisms at events like these as a sign that he didn't want to socialize, his new "friend" seemed to operate under the assumption that he had painted a target on his chest.

Or perhaps his hair, come to think of it.

Either way, she left soon after, leaving Damien in relative peace. He cracked a faint smile watching Mia dance with Aldwin; it seemed Mia really had picked an ideal dance partner. Meanwhile, Camille and the Venture boy...

.... Well. He had never seen Camille looking like that. While her dancing was beautiful, he had seen her movements while she burned pewter, so the grace and fluidity of her movements seemed almost ordinary to him. Her face, however, was a different story. Either Camille was a better actress than he thought, or she had a genuine connection with young Lord Venture. Or was forming one, at least. And if that was the case, he wished her the best with it. She would put her House first, just like he did, but if it were possible for her to find some measure of happiness while doing so, he certainly hoped she would. Lord Ruler only knew the woman deserved it.

He was only vaguely aware of time passing as he remained in his seat, watching the couples dance. It wasn't until he caught movement out of the corner of his eye that he realized someone was approaching. She had the look of an Elariel, but he couldn't place her given name at the moment. Still, she was addressing him, so he did what any gentleman would do and left his seat to join her.

"I have," he replied politely, giving the woman - Claire? No, that wasn't it - his usual reserved smile, the one Lucille called his 'gentleman's smile.' "It's quite different from Urteau, but I must admit I find the change of environment refreshing. And I must thank you for your warm welcome. It was very kind of you to offer it personally."

Colette Hasting's Photo Colette Hasting 08 Oct 2010

Colette's group continued to natter on after dinner had been served, the various tidbits of gossip flowing more freely than the wine ever could. Colette, of course, played her part, but as usual she remained a little aloof from the rest of the group. No matter what the court saw, these women were her tools, not her friends. She needed to use them, and so she did. If they were lucky, perhaps they could ride her influence to better stations. If they were lucky, and if they made themselves useful.

She was, however, growing a little weary; she hadn't identified her next targets yet, so tonight was dreadfully boring. She glanced at Eliza Fathvell and suppressed a sigh. All dressed up and nothing to do. What a waste of a good plaything.

.... Oho, now here we go...

From the corner of her eye, Colette had spied Mikhail Elariel out of the corner of her eye, and he seemed to be heading in her direction. She gave him a small grin and turned back to her group; it wouldn't do to ignore them until he actually approached her, after all. With any luck, he had noticed the gesture, and would ask her to dance. Colette was itching to get out onto the floor.

Lucille Deveaux's Photo Lucille Deveaux 08 Oct 2010

Lucille, intrepidly optimistic as ever, continued on her quest for something fun to do. She had exchanged polite greetings from some of the other young socialites who, seeing an unfamiliar face, had taken it upon themselves to make introductions. Several of them remarked on her resemblance to Camille, which made Lucille wonder which of the cousins these women were really more interested in. Lucille really had no desire to associate with people who only wanted to use her, so with a few enthusiastic words about Euclid or Jameson or any of her other favorite writers, she banished the giggling magpies back to their uninteresting lives of empty gossip and intellectual oblivion, relishing in their dumbfounded looks before excusing herself and moving on to other prospects.

It was after yet another of these confrontations that the ebb and flow of the crowd revealed a familiar figure approaching her: Aaron Elariel, whom she had met just the day before in Ahlstrom Square. She smiled as he came closer, and offered a slight curtsy. Though they were both members of Great Houses, Camille had told her that he was second in line to inherit the Elariel title, whereas Lucille was from a more distant Deveaux branch. Best to err on the side of etiquette in times like these.

Her concerns proved unfounded, however, for as it turned out, Lord Elariel had come to invite her to dance. "I would be thrilled to, Lord Aaron," she told him with an excited grin, extending her hand. "I'm delighted that you remembered our promise."

Aaron Elariel's Photo Aaron Elariel 09 Oct 2010

Lucille gave Aaron a bright smile, and Aaron couldn't help but return it. He'd nearly forgotten what is was like to be genuinely smiled at by a woman. He'd only spent the evening with Phyra, and already it seemed like she had been leering at him for months. Aaron wished the heads of the Great Houses would pull their fingers out of the love lives of their children. Could they not see what predicaments they created?

"Why," he said, with his customary wink. He'd had to throw one in, or he might get rusty. "Did you doubt me Lady Lucille? Am I so unsavory a character?" As Aaron led her on to the dance floor he studied her briefly. She was certainly younger than he, and her enthusiasm made her seem a tad naive. Luthadel would see to that soon enough. Naivety had no place in the heart of the final empire. Be careful, he reminded himself, This girl is smart enough to talk circles around you. Remember that. Naive or not, Aaron hoped Lucille would keep her energy. Genuine optimism was rare enough as it was in Luthadel, and Aaron was already finding that many of his peers were growing as serious and boring as their parents.

She was dressed in a white gown embroidered with thread of gold. And her hair was styled in curls. Aaron wasn't sure if he would call her beautiful, but she was definitely very pretty. Perhaps, if he didn't disgrace himself completely, he would ask her for a second dance once his business with Phyra was complete.

He found a clear spot on the floor, took Lucille's hand, and assumed dance frame. As soon as he ensured that he was on time, he stopped thinking about the steps, and let them flow naturally, letting his natural coordination take over. Once he was confident he would not stumble, he decided it was safe for him to make conversation.

"So, Lady Lucille, how have you enjoyed the ball so far? I noticed you were dining at the high table. Tell me, did that Inquisitor really order waffles?"

Lucille Deveaux's Photo Lucille Deveaux 09 Oct 2010

Lucille was quick to insist that no, she had most certainly not doubted Aaron's character; however, if was entirely possible for a busy Luthadel nobleman to innocently forget an agreement he had made with someone so new to town she barely knew her way around.

Eventually they made it to the dance floor, and Lucille eagerly flowed into the steps that Aaron led. Lucille loved a lot of things about balls, but dancing was most certainly her favorite. And like any Deveaux woman worth her salt, she had learned quite well.

And then he asked about the waffles.

"Those waffles are going to follow me for the rest of my life," she said with a wry grin. "She did order waffles, and then she and Riordan Casuana spent well over half the meal talking about them. Apparently the Lord Ruler likes them as well, though I doubt I'll ever get the chance to offer him any. I think it was the most surreal conversation I've had in my entire life. Are all Luthadel balls this... unique?"

Aaron Elariel's Photo Aaron Elariel 09 Oct 2010

Lucille, Aaron was happy to note, was really a talented dancer. She responded to his leads without hesitation, and never tried to lead like some women did. As he spun her around Aaron hoped she wasn't bored with him. "I shall take note of that my Lady, and resolve never to speak of those troublesome bread products for the remainder of our conversation." Aaron pause briefly as they broke apart and used the moment to check on Daerra. She was still smiling, thankfully, but Aaron thought her steps seemed a tad more unsteady than before. She still moved gracefully, and with that vigor she had never shown before, but the steps seemed less precise than they had. From his brief glane it almost looked like she'd had a few too many glasses of wine. Aaron nearly snorted at that. Daerra never got drunk.

"As for Luthadel balls being... unusual, as you put it, this one is certainly out of the ordinary. I don't think I've ever been to a ball with an inquisitor before, and this one seems to be stranger than most. Your cousin's idea for a dueling tournament sounds like fun, but is also unorthodox. It's not uncommon for a host to throw something new into the mix to impress their guest and throw them off balance, but never so many things at once. My sister tells me, however, that we are entering some very interesting times politically, so perhaps these unusual antics will become the norm." Aaron smiled again before continuing. He didn't see the harm in having a little fun before he dealt with Phyra. And dancing with Lucille was certainly fun. "You may have chosen just the right time to come to Luthadel, Lady Lucille. These parties can get boring after a while, but I think the next few will be quite exciting."

Lucille Deveaux's Photo Lucille Deveaux 09 Oct 2010

Lucille laughed at Aaron's vow to not speak of waffles anymore, then listened intently as he explained the nature of balls in Luthadel. As with any repeated activity, the dance steps had become almost second-nature to her, which left her mind free to contemplate what he was telling her.

"I don't know if I can take much more excitement at one ball," Lucile laughed. "Inquisitors in ballgowns, strangely persistent breakfast dishes, and atium chandeliers? It's all so much to take in, and frankly, I'm not sure how anyone will be able to top something like this.

"Unless," she amended with an excited gleam in her eye, "the Elariels are planning something even more spectacular? Camille tells me your House is next in the rotation. Care to share any exciting hints?"

Aaron Elariel's Photo Aaron Elariel 09 Oct 2010

"Next in the rotation? You don't say. I'll have to ask my sister about that. I'm rather out of the loop, you see. I must say, you seem to be adjusting to Luthadel rather well. Knowing about my own ball before I did, very impressive. I think I shall have to look out for you in the future." Aaron took note of how casually Lucille referred to the atium chandelier. Either she was supporting her cousin by bringing it up, or she was just as shocked as he had been. Aaron startled himself. Was he beginning to think like Daerra? Well one of us has to, I suppose. Daerra was laughing loudly at something Caden had said. What is going on with her tonight? Aaron resolved to speak with her later. Something was going on and he intended to find out.

"I could tell you about our ballroom. I've seen it enough times. Or perhaps you've heard of it all ready, being as informed as you are?" Aaron gave Lucille another wink, and made sure to keep himself turned away from Phyra. He wanted her to think he'd forgotten about her completely.

Lucille Deveaux's Photo Lucille Deveaux 09 Oct 2010

Lucille laughed again. She seemed to be doing that a lot lately, which was fine by her. She had been afraid that she wouldn't have any fun at all in Luthadel, but so far, that didn't seem to be the case.

"All I know is that your ball is coming next," she insisted. "How could you not even know when your own ball is?" She sounded fairly amused at the thought. "So tell me, then, Lord Elariel. What does your ballroom look like?"

Davinna Casuana's Photo Davinna Casuana 09 Oct 2010

Davinna smiled as Janus turned to face her, giving him a small wave as soon as he'd taken her in. He remained silent for several moments, and Davinna got a sneaking suspicion he was staring at her breasts. Her smile dropped and she grit her teeth.

"Janus... my eyes are up here." She paused, tapping an eyespike with one finger. "Wait..."

His eyes jerked upwards, and Davinna wished she could see the sour expression on his face. Janus had always seemed to be sucking on a lemon, in her opinion. Either that, or he was puckering up to kiss her. And while Davinna was flattered, Janus Tekiel was so not cute. Really, she was beginning to suspect he'd only reported her to the Ministry because she wouldn't go out with him.

As Janus sputtered and stared, Davinna found herself thinking about waffles again. She had wished she requested skaa blood in the syrup. Skaa blood, while filthy, was purified by the addition of syrup, and thus made delicious. It was a fascinating chemical process that the Inquisitor, in her vast knowledge and remarkable brainpower was only beginning to understand. Once she had the facts completely figured out, she planned to publish a paper, certain that scholars and nobles across The Final Empire would marvel at her findings. Davinna had discovered this through rigorous and extensive research, taking careful notes and double-checking every experiment. Dozens upon dozens of skaa had died for her waffles, and she would cherish their memory. The waffles, that is. She missed them.

Davinna blinked, bringing herself back the present. Apparently, Janus had started talking again. Davinna pretended to have been listening the whole time.

"Your department has been less productive since you left, Davinna, so yes, I suppose I have missed your productivity."

Davinna grinned, baring her teeth. Was he flirting with her?

"But, you have recieved a higher calling, to serve our Lord in a different way. I trust you are taking to your duties at the Canton of Inquisition with just as much... dedication, as you showed at the Canton of Doctrine."

Davinna bowed her head slightly in acknowledgment, her smile becoming serene as she thought of her Lord. "My life is the Inquisition, High Prelan," she murmured, her tone soft yet serious. "I serve the Lord Ruler with more dedication than I had ever given to Doctrine. He gave me this life, this higher purpose to fulfill, and it is his to do with as he wishes." She lifted her head again, her wide, cheerful grin returning to her face. "And now I have spikes, too. Did you see them? I polish them daily." her face lit up. "Oh! Look what I can do now!" She grabbed a pair of spoons from the table and began tapping them against the spikes, beating an upbeat melody against the metal.

She set the spoons down and grinned at him, certain he'd be impressed. Aerouna certainly had been; the other Angels often asked her for impromptu concerts in the lounge. Gethen even made requests, although Davinna had to admit she'd never heard the song 'Lord Ruler, Get Me Away From These Madwomen'. It must be something he heard during his year in Farmost.

"Were your ministry robes at the wash today Davinna?"

"In fact, they were," Davinna replied, frowning slightly. So Janus was stalking her - how else would he know she had sent her robes to be washed today? She made a mental note to check if anything was missing. She wouldn't put it past the pervert to sneak in and steal some of her underclothes. She'd have to keep a closer eye on the man, as well as all of Doctrine - who knew how many minds Janus Tekiel was corrupting with his hedonistic ways.

"It seems a shame that the nobles here will not see you in your full glory as an Inquisitor tonight. I'm sure the sight is terrifying."

Davinna giggled, leaning back - an action that deliberately pushed her chest outward and formed her dress against her body, accentuating her curves. "Dear Janus, I think the nobility here tonight are seeing me in my full glory, and I doubt they find the sight terrifying."

She leaned forward suddenly, her face directly in Janus'. "I know what you are doing, Tekiel," she whispered, "The words you are not saying, the movements you are not making. You forget, High Prelan, that I notice everything and forget nothing. My mind works faster than yours can even contemplate, and I have analyzed your every word before they finish spilling from your self-righteous lips. You want to indicate that I am a disgrace to the Lord Ruler? Then say so, but then ask yourself this question - if I was a disgrace to the Final Empire, why would I be here? Why would I continue to live, if I had disgraced the Ministry in any way?

"The Lord Ruler approves of me, Janus Tekiel," she paused, pulling herself up to her full five feet and four inches of hight, crossing her arms across her chest. "You may not be aware, but His Divine Grace choose his Inquisitors personally. You may have submitted my file the Inquisition, but Lord Shokhan and the Lord Ruler Himself felt differently than you did. They saw what I could be, and made me into what I am. I am favoured by your God, Janus Tekiel," she grit her teeth, her eyespike reflecting the light of the chandelier so brightly they appeared as solid discs of light. "And you will treat me with respect."

Her serious expression dropped suddenly, and a wide grin split across her face. "Janus, you're boring and I feel like dancing." She gave him a wave as she spun on her heels, searching through the room for someone to dance with. "Enjoy spending the ball with that charming personality of yours."

Without another thought for the man, Davinna bounced over to a lone noble, selected at random, and extended her hand. "Lady Mraziel, you look so lonely, like the last bite of a waffle, or a poisoned mouse looking for a place to die." she greeted the woman, not waiting for her to respond before pulling her roughly to her feet. Davinna's bared her teeth in a grin, leaning in eagerly. "Would you like to dance? I promise not to behead anyone this time."

Tia Mraziel's Photo Tia Mraziel 09 Oct 2010

Tia sat and watched the first dance, sipping at her drink lightly. Her eyes focused on the dance floor. She was looking for prospective Noble's to approach for contracts. There was prelan here, and that would make it all the easier to gain some contracts and contacts for House Mraziel. Unfortunately - that also meant she was the oddball out at the ball. The red-headed woman was used to that honestly.

Unfortunately that also meant she was the only single woman in the room - currently speaking. She was the only single woman in the room that had no prospective Husbands. Something her parents had been trying to fix for years. But constant trips to the country for various herbs - and a bit of a shy spout during balls, only seemed to further her from the aspect that her parents were trying to achieve.

She watched the first dance end - and tried so hard to make her parents happy. But she was so busy lately with her job. She was doing her best to advance herself in medicine. A heavy thought seemed to hang in the air - a sort of tension that she was unsure of how it was created. She knew that something was going to happen, some small part of her was screaming to run. Some small part of her was telling her that something bad was going to happen.

But she had no idea what that could be. Her eyes darted up as the Inquisitor approached her table. Her back straightened as she stared at the other female. "You-You know my name?!" She whispered in an awed tone, a blush spreading across her features for a moment. She cleared her throat though and regained her manners as she was yanked up to her feet and against the other woman.

"I'd be honored mam..." She said as she felt that small energy burst through her. She was on edge - and she wasn't sure if this was why. She was worried possibly that she had done something as a Tin-eyes - to draw the attention of the ministry. But if that were the case - wouldn't they have approached her long ago? She had been practicing her skill at a constant pace for such a long time.

She nodded and looked around the room. She was wondering exactly how this would go - she had never danced with another woman. "This is a new experience for me. Lady Inquisitor. May I inquire on something? What would you prefer I call you?"

Janus Tekiel's Photo Janus Tekiel 09 Oct 2010

"Enjoy spending the ball with that charming personality of yours." the horrid woman said. Then she zoomed off across the room to talk to a young noblewoman. Seeing red hair, Janus felt a flash of fear for the young lady he had met before. Could she have had dealings with the inquisitors? But this young woman was wearing a different gown, and with his tin, he could clearly see a much different face than the one he had seen before. He was relieved. You foolish old man. What are you thinking?

Thoughts of the young noblewoman pushed aside, Janus turned again to ponder what Davinna had said. The woman had been rude, improper, and definitely insane. Had she really tapped spoons on her spikes? But Janus also knew, deranged as she was, she was correct. The Lord Ruler did not make mistakes. Davinna was an Inquisitor for a reason, and she did deserve his respect. The way she had flaunted her curves, and insinuated he was attracted to her made his cheeks flush, but the fact remained, she was one of the Lord Ruler's chosen now. How much have I fallen? To be derided by Davinna Casuana? What have I done. Janus knew, if the inquisitors had wanted her, they would have taken her eventually no matter what he did, but he still felt shame. He had been involved, and so he had an obligation to the ministry to make sure Davinna didn't ruin everything they worked for.

But why, Lord? Why would you choose her? Why would you let her continue on in such a way? Janus shook his head. The Lord Ruler did not make mistakes. He had disrespected an Inquisitor, and doubted a decision made by his god. He would seek penance tomorrow. It was only right.

Janus looked around again. Flaring bronze, he sensed several allomancers, but they were to far away to pick out who exactly they were. His steel and iron didn't reveal much either, and no matter what he filtered out, his Tin enhanced ears continued to be filled with useless chatter. What good was he to the Lord Ruler? A Mistborn who could barely defend himself, who struggled to find out the nobleman's secrets at balls. An obligator who was distracted from his sacred duties by a pretty face and honest eyes...

Janus sighed tiredly. What was he thinking? Why couldn't he vanish the image of that young woman boldly asserting herself before him? He would have noticed if she had been influencing his emotions even if he hadn't been burning bronze, all obligators were trained to do so. Why then could he not banish her from his mind? Why did his eyes keep straying to the dance floor, hoping to find her? I should leave. Immediately. This ball is a waste of time. Despite this thought, Janus did not move. He decided he had to speak to the girl again. To apologize perhaps, or give or the name of an obligator who could continue to guide her in her faith to the Lord Ruler. Such a thing was rare among the sacrilage of the nobility, and must not be lost. Besides, the Lord Ruler would be disappointed in him if he left so soon.

Janus began to push through the crowd, doing his best to seem more graceful and serene than he really was. He was, of course, not the only obligator from the Canton of Doctrine there. The ministry had their spies everywhere, and they watched the nobility as much as the skaa. While he waited for the young noblewoman, (Why hadn't he asked her name?) he would check in with some of his brothers, and see what they had found.

Aaron Elariel's Photo Aaron Elariel 09 Oct 2010

Lord Ruler, Lucille had a pretty laugh. And a pretty smile. Aaron couldn't help but smile along with her. Her happiness was infectious. Perhaps he would ask her to a ball in the future. His father could hardly object, she was of House Deveaux after all, and it would be refreshing to take someone he actually enjoyed spending time with. He resolved to speak with Daerra about it later, just to make sure he wasn't getting in the way of any of her political maneuvers. He had done so before, and his sister had not been pleased.

"You mean you have not heard of it Lady Lucille? I'm afraid I can't say another word about it then, and I strongly discourage you from asking anyone about it. The atmosphere is different than most ball rooms, and seeing it for the first time without preconceived notions will be worth suppressing your curiosity." Aaron had always love his house's ball room. Not only was the private atmosphere created by the stained glass skylights and muted candle light unique to his house's ball room, it was also excellent for picking the pockets of other noblemen. Not his friends of course, just the lesser ones who seemed to need to be taken down a peg. Everyone blamed thievery on the skaa anyways, so as long as he restrained himself to one or two, the risk of raising suspicion was incredibly low. And the rush was to die for! While Lucille was turning, Aaron spared the atium chandelier another quick and subtle glance, his mind working on the angles and picking out possible sources of metal he could make use of. The shining silvery metal seemed to call his name, begging him to burn iron and grab a piece.

"Let me just say this, Keep Elariel was built in the same era of architecture as Keep Deveaux, and our houses share certain preferences for stained glass windows."

Lucille Deveaux's Photo Lucille Deveaux 09 Oct 2010

Lucille grinned broadly. "Is that so?" she asked. "Well, I'm certain your Keep must be beautiful if our Houses agree on the placement of stained glass windows." One of the first things she had done upon arriving in Luthadel was gawk at the Deveaux ballroom; Damien had told her all about it, and what she saw was even more than she had anticipated. Even though it obviously wasn't lit up when there wasn't a ball being held, it had taken her breath away.

"I must admit," she continued thoughtfully, "I always found it strange that so few Houses ever bothered trying to do something a little more creative with their stained glass. Though, to be fair, I guess there aren't very many places to put it. Like the floor. I don't think that would work very well, do you?"