Re-Learning the Rules

Etiquette Lessons, what else? - Zvezdana

The capital city of the of Rynmere, here is seated the only King in Idalos.
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Elyna
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As punishments went, it could be worse. Elyna had thought that maybe she was too old for punishment from her parents, but who was she to argue really? No one, that’s what had got her into all of this in the first place. Etiquette training. She’d even managed to stifle the groan though when her father announced it. She was so far deep in trouble, that they wouldn’t have heard the noise anyway. Why dig deeper into a hole? Just accept it. There was no escape.

She had dressed in skirts again and tried not to think about the last time she had worn them. Her scarf remained in place, loose around her neck to hide the bruises of the fight that were a pale yellow and mottled green by this point. The marks on her face had faded too, and with her hair neatly pinned up, she felt that she looked at least half presentable.

Elyna lifted a tentative hand and knocked gently against the door of the Lady within. A Venora, not far off her own age. Elyna tried to remember if she’d ever met the young lady before? Hopefully, seeing her face would remind her if it was the case. But the name wasn’t familiar.

She shifted her feet, restless as she waited. The morning sun was rising through the trees and the winds stirred the fallen petals at her feet. Elyna watched them dancing over the scuffed toes of her boots and suddenly felt very plain. Very out of place. Seven forbid she was ever summoned to court.
word count: 278
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Zvezdana Venora
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Re-Learning the Rules

When the Burhan Baron and Baroness had contacted her, Zvezdana was entirely taken aback. Apparently their youngest daughter, Lady Elyna Burhan, needed a tutor. Since she was of noble birth and living nearby their daughter, she was everything that they needed and more. So, out of duty, respect, and slight need for approval from another family, Zvezdana accepted their request to take Lady Elyna as her pupil. From what the letters had described, the young woman could use some help.

The polite knock at the door to her apartment resounded and Zvezdana picked herself up. She would have liked to entertain the woman at a higher quality place, but her apartments would do. Having picked up from her parents house at Fort Venora so hastily meant she had very little. She opened the door, inviting Lady Elyna in with a sweep of her hand.

Once the young woman entered, Zvezdana would close the door quietly and then sweep around her like a circling predator, inspecting her pupil’s posture, clothes, and general demeanor. She ‘hmmed’ quietly to herself while she circled Elyna, making mental notes of things that could be worked on. Finally, after two or three circlings, she stopped square in front of her, folding her hands neatly behind her dress. Zvezdana had pulled her purple and blue dress out for this meeting, as skirts were significantly more appropriate for teaching a lady how to be a lady. Her hair was pulled back in a partial up-do, but she wore no make-up. Make-up was for grander events.

”My name is Lady Zvezdana Venora, but I am sure you already know that. Your parents wouldn't send you to my home ignorant, or I would hope not. You may refer to me as Lady Venora or Madame, as I will be your teacher.” In any other meeting, Zvezdana would have acknowledged that Elyna was older and thus deserved more respect; however, this situation put her in a position higher than Elyna. She was the teacher, and Elyna, the student. Etiquette required that respect be rotated in this instant.

”I know what your parents want you to get out of this. I was informed in their request letter. The question is, what do you want to get out of it?”
word count: 382
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Elyna
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Elyna stepped inside, raising a self-conscious hand to her forehead she did so. The young woman before her seemed flawless and self-assured. Her initial reaction was to run away, but she hadn’t done that yet and she wouldn’t start now. It was a strange sensation to be inspected so thoroughly. Not unlike having an equipment inspection but a Captain, but more intimate somehow because the equipment being inspected was her. She didn’t like it. Elyna lifted her chin and set her shoulders back, wondering if she was standing too much like a soldier, but who really could tell when she was wearing skirts?
Once Zvez had finished her tour, Elyna relaxed a little and folded her arms over her chest. A defence against what might come, “a pleasure to meet you Lady Zvezdana, I am sure,” she offered a small smile. She wasn’t keen on this idea, but she would give it a genuine try.

What her parents wanted, was for her to remember who she was. A Lady, a possible Baroness or even Duchess in the future. Her Mother made no secret of her plans to marry her to the son of another noble family. It was only a miracle that it hadn’t yet been done. Her parents had respected her desire to be a Skyrider and the time and commitment that required. But with the incident a few weeks ago, and her more turbulent patch a couple of years past, she understood their desire for her to remember she wasn’t someone who should be rolling around in the muck. As it was, if she were ever summoned to court, she would be hopelessly underprepared. All the painstaking hours her Mother had spent, teaching her balance, propriety, posture, grace and elegance – they’d all been replaced by different types of weapon, the best way to clean an arrow wound in a Jacadon.

So her reply when it came, was measured, “I have difficulty holding conversation with our peers…and frankly I dread any interactions that are not entirely necessary…I hope to feel easier in company,” she wanted to know the rules. The rules everyone else seemed to know.
word count: 376
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Zvezdana Venora
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Zvezdana raised a brow at Elyna’s presentation. If she had a fan, like her former tutor had, she would have lashed out by smacking the girl’s upper arms. Folding her arms in such a fashion was not only a shy, closed motion, but it was also said that the person was comfortable with their surroundings. She made no motion to correct it as of yet, allowing Elyna to finish. Her response made sense just by that sentence alone. Based on the brief interaction Zvezdana had already had with Elyna, she saw potential but also saw an unconfident, shy, uneducated woman. It would need a lot of work, but it was doable. She could sense it. Besides, no task was too difficult for Zvezdana. It would just take and technique.


”That is a reasonable goal to get out of these lessons. I hope you know there will be many, as it does seem like you need it. All of your requirements will come in time. There is a foundation we must build first.” Zvezdana moved at that point, the heels of her shoes clicking on the wood floor of her apartment as she moved closer to her Elyna.

”When you fold your arms like you are, you are actually drawing into yourself. Your shoulders fold forward,” Zvezdana chided, reaching forward to push against Elyna’s shoulder. ”…and it pulls your chest down. Roll your shoulders back and fold your arms behind your back. You can twist your hands out of nervousness all you like behind your back without someone knowing. It will also draw your chest up and out, exuding confidence. Like so.”

Zvezdana rolled her shoulder back, her shoulder blades pulling towards her spine. With it, the flat portion of her chest lifted, pulling her breasts up and elongating her neck. She folded her hands into one another at the small of her back, of which her fingers could do as they liked without Elyna knowing exactly what they were doing. ”See? If you have a basic foundation in etiquette, the rest will come. That is what we will work on first, if you are to work towards becoming a true lady.”

Without waiting for a response, Zvezdana swept away towards the chairs at the table. She pulled them away from the table one by one into the center of the living space. They faced each other, where she could watch and correct her pupil. Patting the back of the empty chair in front of her, she stepped away from it. ”Come sit. We can discuss the plan.”
word count: 430
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Elyna
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Elyna took the woman’s point and straightened as she knew she should. Setting her shoulders back and linking her fingers behind her back. She didn’t know if she should be insulted by what Zvezdana said, it was said nicely enough but the gist of the message was that she was a poor cut of noble woman. It wasn’t anything that she didn’t know, but it stung to hear. She concentrated on keeping her expression clear of any scowl though. This was still very early stages. She nodded at all the right moments as she listened to the woman’s explanation of her terrible posture, “thank you,” she managed graciously, and without even grinding her teeth.

A true lady…her fingers twitched and she held them tightly behind her back. She was either standing ‘at ease,’ or pretending to be a little girl on a farmstead with ribbons in her hair. It was a strange way to stand and she had to resist going onto her toes. Relief was clear as the Lady swept away in a flurry of skirts and perfect coifed hair. She moved around the chair and sat, taking a moment to fan out her own skirt before she did so, she remember that much at least. And she didn’t want to trip when she stood up again.

“Thank you,” she said once more as she took her seat. Her gaze moved over the rooms not dissimilar to her own, “a plan?” she asked. It sounded like a battle plan, a war plan. A plan against everything the Skyriders had been instilling over the last decade.

“This sounds dangerous,” she admitted.
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Zvezdana Venora
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Zvezdana placed a practice smile on her face as Elyna came and sat. The teacher appreciated the practice of fanning out her skirts. This showed that she had been taught some things, which would make building a foundation significantly easier. Especially if all they had to do was dust off some of the memories and put them into practice. Zvezdana sat across from her, doing the same things that Elyna had just done with a few alterations. She did not sit completely in the seat. Zvezdana kept the back of her butt a solid inch or two away from the point where the seat back met the seat. She then rolled her shoulders back, set her hands lightly in her lap, and crossed her feet at the ankles. If there was one trick she learned from her tutor, it was crossing her ankles. When Zvezdana got anxious, she tapped her foot obsessively. This kept her from having that bad habit.

”Yes, a plan. Although I do not know what you do for a living, I expect that is associated with something that harbors unladylike behavior. If you were in a job that allowed you to be a true lady, I doubt your parents would have asked for my help.” She expected that Elyna did something like roll in the dirt or play with the pigs, which seemed to be common in many of her pupils from noble houses of late. Vivian was a soldier, Lazuli was a farmer with her sister – surely Elyna did not have a position much better.

”Your description is quite right. This is dangerous,” Zvezdana elongated the world dangerous, savoring its feel on her tongue. ”I like to think that the ballroom for a lady is the equivalent of a warzone for a soldier. You have to know who are your allies and who are your enemies. Your words, like weapons, must be chosen carefully. Your outfit, like armor, is to be carefully planned and decorated to best another. Dangerous is a great term for the endeavor you are about to embark on. Becoming a true lady will not be easy.”

Zvezdana loved the picture she painted. She personally imagined a ballroom of black and white, littered with men and woman streaming red silk before her like a sea of blood. Sheep to the slaughter, all stepping stones to her ultimate goal of true power. To get there, she needed allies, those that would follow her into this battlefield with loyalty in their hearts. It was exactly like a soldier’s battlefield, except less gory.

”You have a foundation, being from a noble family. I can tell by how you fanned your skirts that you know something. Now, why don’t you tell me a little about your family and what you do? Try and hold a proper conversation with me so I can assess where you stand with your ability.”
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Elyna
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Elyna didn’t need any help to sit up straight, her spine stiffened as the younger woman spoke. Now she just knew she’d been insulted. It was very difficult not to respond with some kind of aggressive retort and instead she folded her hands in her lap, gripping the fingers tight enough to turn them white. Her Mother would be so proud, here she was, learning already. Control, she had to keep control of her emotions and her temper. She put the slight against her work to one side, reminding herself that the tutor knew no better.

The view of socialising as a battlefield fit with Elyna’s own experience; and she never liked to be unprepared for a battle. Another reason she had agreed so easily to Caelan’s demand. Recognition that perhaps there was a need for her to develop her social skills. It did seem spiteful though, trying to dress to outshine others. The Gala was due to be held in a few days, and Ely knew that all she had to offer was a battered and slightly bloody blue dress. She supposed she would be able to seek out something more appropriate from her Mother’s more extensive wardrobes. It would mean returning to their house in the city though.

“My mother, Baroness Caelan, I’m sure you have met?” Elyna focused on the task at hand, raising her fingers to touch against her hair. It was hard not to fidget. It was something else she remember, and something else she’d found near impossible to control.

“I am a Skyrider of Xiur,” Elyna then explained careful, a slight warning to her tone, that she couldn’t hold back. If the Lady Zvezdana chose to insult her profession more exactly then Elyna was not sure how much longer she could remain calm, “I was blessed to make a bond with a Jacadon called Dyaus although I spend much of my time riding upon Volaran’s, here above the city. Looking down at the lights and all the folk at night,” the edge faded from her voice as she pictured the scene. She truly loved her work and the opportunity to help others.
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Zvezdana Venora
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Zvezdana listened carefully, taking note of her honorable position as a skyrider. She was still a soldier, which explained a lot. Elyna was quite happy getting into tussles and riding on the backs of animals. Zvezdana did not particularly find the appeal, but several noble woman had entered into the fields of war and manual labor. Her favorite baroness, Lazuli, farmed. The other Warrick woman was an airwoman as well. She preferred the battlefield of the ballroom. There were more rules and definitely more colors to consider.

”Very good. I liked how you turned the question about your mother on me. Yes, I have been privileged to meet your mother once or twice. That is an excellent tactic when talking with someone you don't know. Spin the conversation around on them. Get a sense for if they are fishing for information or having a pleasant conversation.” Zvezdana practically purred. This was a great way to get information if used correctly, and if Elyna was subconsciously dabbling in the art of speaking, her work may not be super difficult. This woman had a significant foundation as it was. It helped.

"A word of caution, Lady Elyna," Zvezdana said as she lifted herself up on strong legs. Her arms never touched the seat. If this were to be a lesson, Zvezdana hoped Elyna would note the process of lifting out of the chair and not pushing herself out of the chair. "Although I have no intention of using information we speak of here against you, curb your willingness to share information about yourself. I applaud your ability to bond with a Jacadon, but anyone else can assume that is a strength and/or a weakness. It could make your Jacadon - Dyaus was it? - a target as a weak spot against you. It could certainly make you a target in other aspects. A skyrider noble is certainly a marriageable candidate. One with access to a Jacadon would come at a even higher price."

Zvezdana beckoned Elyna to follow her with her fingers, moving around the chair towards the door. They had been going at this for a bit now, and Zvezdana did not want to overwhelm her new pupil. "Don't get my wrong, Lady Elyna. Speak your mind. Just be careful what you share with whom. Information in and of itself is a very dangerous weapon."
word count: 395
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Vluharqih
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Re-Learning the Rules

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Elyna

Skills
Etiquette +4
Disguise +1
Rhetoric +2
Basic Knowledge
Ballroom is a Battlefield
Setting Realistic Etiquette Goals
Dress to Impress (And Make Others Look Bad)
Don't be So Open to Strangers
Specific Knowledge
Zvezdana: Self-confident and Knowledgeable
Etiquette: Correct Standing Posture
Etiquette: Fan the Skirts
Rewards/Injuries
None



Zvezdana Venora

Skills
Teaching +4
Detection +1
Rhetoric +1
Etiquette +1
Basic Knowledge
Buried Memories aren't Lost
Noblewomen Seem to like Dirty Jobs
Specific Knowledge
Elyna: Skyrider with Jacadon
Elyna: Good Basics, but Unpolished
Teaching: Clear Explanation Gets Results
Rewards/Injuries
None



Remarks
:
Interesting thread to read. First time reading one of your threads, Zvezdana, but I like how you taught her. It was a good mix of slightly snarky and caring. I look forward to reading more threads from both of you!
word count: 143
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