• Event • Winter Wonderland

A small island with an active volcano, Faldrass is the home to Saoire's school and to the Faldrass Induk.

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Devin
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Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland
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Zi’da 55, Arc 721
The big trial had finally arrived. On the 55th of Zi’da, the first party ever took place at Smooglenuff Manor. Invitations had been sent out a couple of trials earlier – to Saoire, to the leaders of the two settlements on Faldrass, to the Albarech and the Scalvoris Council as well as a number of other people – letters that had been written with golden ink and that were contained in scented envelopes that smelled faintly of cinnamon and vanilla.

There would be dancing and music, and a most extravagant dinner – each dish would have a special effect – but there was also a more serious aspect to the party. Baron Devin who had arranged it wanted to raise awareness for mental health issues and collect donations for the Spirit’s Rest Oasis, a business that was located on Faldrass. Anybody was welcome to attend the party, although the guests were asked to dress in a way that matched the theme, if they were able to.

The theme of the party was “Winter Wonderland”.

It was dusk when the festivities started. The sky was painted in different shades of pink, red and orange as the sun disappeared behind the horizon. Countless lanterns lined the last couple of metres of the two roads that led up to the manor – from Hopetoun to the west and the dock to the south. The house, a large mansion house that was made of grey stone, with a purple roof and several balconies, had been decorated, with fake snow, with crystals and shimmering orbs that were reminiscent of the ornaments that Saoire had worn in her hair once, as had been the wall that surrounded it.

There was a guardhouse next to the gate that every visitor had to pass by. The guards that were dressed in wintery outfits, in gold and white, greeted every visitor politely and informed them that they would not be allowed to take their weapons with them. They would be collected and kept safe them safe until the end of the party. This was going to be a peaceful party, a night that was filled with fun, music and good food.

Violence would not be tolerated.

There was a stable where any mounts that the guests had brought would be able to stay in the meantime. They would be kept warm, and they would be given food and water.

Each guest was greeted by the butler of Smooglenuff Manor, Korim, a young Biqaj, before they proceeded into the entrance hall that had been decorated appropriately for the season, with garlands, ornaments that were shaped like ice crystals and fake snow. The walls as well as the floors had been polished.

The guest rooms had been prepared for those that wanted or needed to stay at the manor overnight and decorated to match the theme. The guests could head there before the party, in order to get changed, freshen up and relax a bit. On the table in each guest room stood a wicker basket that was filled with sweet treats – a gift from Baron Devin.

Each sweet treat had been made with an unusual ingredient.

There were heart-shaped chocolates with fizzy candy that caused a most interesting sensation in one’s mouth. There were macarons with a marbling effect, green and yellow, that had been filled with a delicious ganache, with cucumber juice being the secret ingredient. There were zucchini chocolate muffins, and there were cookies that contained Night Scented Stock rather than vanilla.

Each wicker basket also contained a little personal note that had been written with golden ink and signed by Devin personally: “Thank you for coming to my party. I hope you’ll have a great time!”



Finally, the guests were taken to the ballroom that was incredibly luxurious and that had been decorated in a wintery fashion, with garlands, ornaments and fake snow. It was filled with light and warmth, from the candelabras and the fireplaces, while it was getting darker and darker outside, the moons rose, and numerous stars appeared in the sky.

All of the servants, and all of the helpers, students that had come from Saoire’s School in order to get a bit of real-life experience, wore outfits to match the theme of the party, white and golden, with hair ornaments that looked like ice crystals or snowballs, for example. Tables with beautiful place settings surrounded the dance floor, and there was a small stage where the musicians would play later on. It was still empty for the time being though.

The guests had just enough time to find a seat and peruse the menu if they wanted – there was one in front of each seat, together with a beautiful red and golden napkin and an assortment of spoons, knives and forks – before Korim, the butler that wore a snow-white top hat and a white suit with beautiful golden embroidery walked through the door and announced in a firm and clear tone of voice, “His Grace, Baron Devin von Smooglenuff.”

A moment later, the mortalborn son of Zanik walked through the door and into the ballroom.

He was dressed in a snow-white, extravagantly cut suit that was not made of normal fabric, but a magical Duplicity Suit. It was covered with delicate embroidered stars made of golden and silver thread that shimmered in the light. A luxurious white cape with a fur collar and golden embroidery was draped across his shoulders, a very long cape that looked almost like a train of sorts. It swished in a most interesting manner as he walked.

His feet were encased in white leather boots that were approximately knee-high and had a small heel, and silver ornaments that resembled snow crystals were in his black hair.

“I bid you all welcome!” he greeted the guests with a wide smile on his face because he was just so very happy and excited and let his gaze drift across the ballroom for a few moments. He could see the people from the Spirit’s Rest Oasis, his classmate Magdalene who had helped him with the beer crisis as well as Mrs. Hale from Haven Farm who had provided the goat cheese for the canapes, for example.

“I bid you all welcome to my winter party – that will hopefully only be the first in a long line of parties at Smooglenuff Manor. There will be music and dancing, delicious drinks and good food. I came up with and helped make all of the dishes you can see on the menu”, he pointed out because he couldn’t help but brag a little.

“There is also a more serious aspect to this party though. A little while ago, I was contacted by the Spirit’s Rest Oasis. They wanted to work with the Barony, so I offered to collect donations for them and raise awareness for mental health issues. The collapse of the docks, the eruption of the volcano and the war against Slag’s Deep have shown how important such is. Nobody should be alone and without help after such a tragedy and suffer”, he continued in a more somber tone of voice.

A moment later, he already smiled again though and produced what looked like a small snow globe.

“First of all”, he said, and the smile on his face widened. “I have a surprise for you all though. You’ve probably noticed that it’s not snowing at the moment, and that there is in fact very little snow on the ground – that’s due to the orange sand. A winter party without snow barely deserves to be called such in my opinion though. And thus, I’ll give you a winter wonderland now. Please look through the windows!” he announced, almost brimming with excitement because this was going to be fun.

Having said that, he shattered the snow globe that was really a magic item called Saoire’s Kiss without further ado. A moment later, it suddenly started to snow heavily. Countless snowflakes fell from the sky and covered the previously nearly barren ground, creating an almost magical atmosphere.

Winter had finally arrived on Faldrass for real.


I will post again in approximately two weeks.

OOC Info

  • 1 PC per player.
  • Feel free to assume that you received an invitiation.
  • You may bring familiars, diri or animals.
  • You may each bring one companion.
  • In order to give the thread a bit of structure and try to make sure that it doesn't remain unfinished, there will be rough deadlines and small objectives every round.
  • Devin (Expert Cooking) and the Smooglenuff Manor NPC Ada Adams (Master Cooking) were in charge of the menu.
  • The theme of the party is "Winter Wonderland".
  • Pegasus has offered to review.

Objectives

  • Describe how you arrived at Smooglenuff Manor.
  • Describe your outfit.
  • Decide if you stay in a guestroom and take the gift basket.
  • Enter the ballroom and (ideally) find a table.

Menu

Appetizers:
Goat cheese wrapped with bacon and with olives on top
Pink bread with a variety of vegetarian spreads

Soups:
Creamy vegetable soup with roux
Basil and tomato consommé with poached shrimp cocktail

Salads:
Mango and Sunburst Fruit salad with a spicy lime vinaigrette
Arugula salad with lemon balsamic dressing
Warm potato salad with Faldrass Potatoes

Main Dishes:
Filet mignon with balsamic strawberries and pink rice
Stir fry with bamboo sprouts, mushrooms and long beans
White fish with Sunburst Fruit
Glowing breaded meat with a side of wild rice

Deserts:
Chocolate balls coated with nuts and edible flowers, with a liquid core
Fresh fruit with rainbow-colored whipped cream
Chocolate cake with pink frosting and sprinkles, filled with candied fruit

Credit

Patterns used:
Winter Wonderland by PaperFlower, available under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.
WINTERS NIGHT KISS.. by Pauline Jones, available under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.
word count: 1647

Appearance

  • Due to an encounter with a magical tree Devin has bright violet eyes.
  • Devin has fancy black claw-like nails. The Grafter Rakvald made them from the spines that grow on the dubaebo's back and attached them to Devin's hands.

Items

Devin owns a Ring of Reversal. He's always wearing it, unless stated otherwise.

Potions

N/A
[/list]

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Woe
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Re: Winter Wonderland




55th Zi'da 721


It was morning when Woe was getting ready for the Winter Party at Smooglenuff Manor. He was just about dressed, wearing a silken, dark sapphire blouse beneath a black tweed doublet, fastened by silver buttons. A red silk cravat around his neck was tucked into the neckline of his vest. Tweed trousers of black color with diamond-quilted stitching. Shoes of black, polished leather. On his hands were wrist-length gloves of black tweed. Last he threw his dark blue cloak of Adunih on his shoulders. And of course there was a last touch that Iago had insisted that Woe wear, something that he claimed he'd bartered for in the market, to give to his father as a gift. It was a length of cloth, red silk, folded into a sash. As Iago helped Woe to wrap the sash around his waist, he could've sworn there was something familiar about the fabric. Yet when he checked, no it seemed an innocuous fold of silken cloth, which fit neatly around his waist.

Once he was done tying it around him, Woe ruffled Iago's hair. The boy ducked out of his orbit, however, smoothing his hair out and grumbling from the disruption. There was a glimmer in the boy's eyes that Woe couldn't quite place. He turned before Iago crossed through the room on his way out, his reflection showing the form of Eve Mordacia in it.

Sage would be watching and tutoring him through the day and afternoon. Woe had seen to it, and she was prepared to deal with the boy's antics, as much as anyone can be, anyway.

Woe left his bedroom, and climbed the stairs down to the lower levels of his house, where the cavern rooms were. There, in the largest of them was housed Soz, his dragonling companion. The creature's dark scales were barely visible in the gloom, but Woe could see her red eyes opening as he entered. Of course, the dragonet would also be accompanying him, perched as it often was on his shoulder. The dragonet Woe had yet to name, never really good at coming up with names himself. Breen would also accompany him on his way.

Soz tolerated this much, and reached her neck and nuzzle out to sniff at Woe, to make sure it was indeed him. Then she began rubbing against his chest. He pet and caressed behind her horns with a somber expression. It'd been a good few tentrials since he'd given her a chance for exercise. This would be a good bonding exercise.

Woe had been getting more used to the idea of flying. The bond he shared with his Dragonling ensured, however, that he was in full control of its flight. This mitigated his motion sickness upon the air.

Finally, he placed his shades on his head, to guard against the glare of the sun as he climbed onto the saddle that Sage had placed upon Soz.

With a simple command in Vahanic, he urged her to fly out of the exit of the cave-room she was housed within. Then they were off.



They arrived at Smooglenuff Manor sometime after, not very long at all. Soz was swift on the wing and could cover an incredible distance within just the space of a quarter of the day.

He landed on the grounds of the Manor, and then allowed that Soz would fly into the air, to stretch her wings for a few bits before returning to her roost in Woe's house in Scalvoristown. Woe had arranged for passage after the fact, but would likely be staying overnight in the Manor. He had other business in the Island that would require a slightly extended stay.

The butler, Korim greeted him at the door and showed him to his guest room. There, once settled in, Woe nodded to him before excusing himself, "Thank you Korim."

This done, he went over toward the vanity and looked over the basket of sweet treats. As he was curiously searching through him, a familiar voice sounded from behind him. "Olá senhor Morandi."

Woe didn't show any signs of shock but merely continued to rifle through the gift basket, taking up one of the pieces of chocolate within it. "Eve." He said simply. Then he remembered the special sash that his son had wrapped around his waist. It dawned on him, this was one of her anchors. He knew he recognized it from somewhere. Now he knew.

He sighed, taking the chocolate and turning around to face her, to see her indistinct figure materializing in the nude on the guest bed. "You know, you could've asked to come? Then you wouldn't have to stay in the guest room, looking like a lost savage with no clothes."

Eve chuckled at that. "Verifique as suas malas, SenhorCheck your bags, Senhor."

Woe stared at her, clenching his jaw. Then he went through his domain bag, pulling a dress and full outfit from it which had apparently been placed recently. She laughed openly at him. "It's not funny. I don't want you corrupting my son with your games."

Eve pouted at that, and shrugged. Then she began to get dressed in the outfit. The whole process was rather simple for a ghost as skilled in materialization as her. She merely needed to slip the garments over her form, using her tendrils and then conveying through them, filling them out as she solidified to roughly a state she'd been in during life. The scar from her death was faded, along with many of the signs of a real person. The little dimples and wrinkles that gave one character. Eve lacked such details to her form.

Still, however, she was ready to accompany him. She approached and took his hand that held the chocolate. Podemos provar? Por favor?"Can we have a taste? Please?"

Woe let her feed him the chocolate. It fizzed and popped in his mouth in a pleasant and unfamiliar way. It was quite a shock, actually, for one who preferred more bland fare. She fed on his emotional reaction to the candy, drinking in his surprise for just a moment. Just as much as he'd allow her to.

She wore a long black gown, slashed with purple details in the skirt and around the corset. Around her shoulders, a mantle of brown mink fur. She clung to the sensation of the fur around her shoulders, and wound her arm in his. "Já estava na hora? Vamos ao Salão de Baile e ver o que podemos ver?""It's about time? Let us go down to the Ballroom and see what we can see?"



They arrived in the ballroom, ready to join the rest of the party that had gathered there. The Baron was as yet conspicuously absent. Woe looked for familiar faces in the crowd. Should he see any, he'd probably gravitate toward them. Once seated, he waited for the menu, and searched through it, looking to see what appealed to him. Eve gazed at him as he perused the menu, and then searched the crowds of people, fascinated at the presence of so many living in one place. It'd be difficult for her to enjoy the company, given that she knew only a little common, but he supposed she'd adapt as well as any ghost could. He decided he would help her if necessary, to communicate.

When the Baron finally made his entrance, Woe looked up and listened politely to his speech. Then, when he smashed the snowglobe on the ground, Eve made delighted noises as snow began to fall outside. The dragonet perched on Woe's shoulder cried out, effusing him with a sense of encouragement. He'd really need it, to endure whatever antics Eve had in store.
Off Topic
"Verifique as suas malas, Senhor" = Check your bags, Senhor.
Podemos provar? Por favor? = "Can we have a taste? Please?"
Já estava na hora? Vamos ao Salão de Baile e ver o que podemos ver? = "It's about time? Let us go down to the Ballroom and see what we can see?"

word count: 1375
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Perdita Westcott
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Re: Winter Wonderland

55/Z/21
W
hat was she doing here? Perdita didn't do crowds or people or crowds of people; she also didn't do well with places she didn't know or people she didn't know. Strange and unusual situations were fine but this was quite outside of her area of expertise. And yet, here she was. Perdita had grown up in a wealthy family but she had never seen a house like Smooglenuff Manor. It was enormous, but to Perdita's mind it was more than that; it was beautiful.

As she passed by the guardhouse, Perdita blushed furiously as the guards spoke to her, but she shook her head. "No weapons," she said quietly. Perdita was wearing a white dress which was covered in a delicate pale pink lace skirt. There were beautiful white flowers with black detail on the top of her dress and trailing down below her waist and lower down one side. She didn't usually wear outfits like this, but it was a party and even more than that, it was a party at a Baron's manor.

When she arrived at the manor, she was greeted by a young biqaj. Perdita handed over her stole and blushed deeply as she smiled and stumbled out a greeting. Why was she here? What was she thinking? She had responded to the invitation that yes, she would very much like to stay here. She made her way to her room, to put her bags away and to freshen up. But Perdita had another reason for doing that, and that one was to be polite. Perdita aimed to always be polite and she knew that such a kind and generous invitation deserved a response.

So, Perdita put her bags down and opened them up. Inside one of her bags was what she needed; parchment and her drawing supplies. She began to sketch a montage of scenes, small details from the event so far. The roof of the manor, the guard in his uniform, examples of the decorations, the basket, the view from the window of her room. They were done in pencil, each item blending into the other by virtue of careful technique ; the middle of the piece of art was a carefully drawn sketch of Smooglenuff Manor and she placed it in to the basket so generously provided by Baron Devin. Having read the note from the Baron, which made her smile, Perdita wrote on the back of her sketch.

"Dear Baron Devin von Smooglenuff, I just wanted to say thank you for the kind invitation. I'm writing this before the party starts, but I want to assure you that I ~ and all your guests ~ will have a wonderful time and want to thank you for your kindness. You have created a wonder. Sincerely, Perdita Westcott"

She adjusted her dress, looked out of the window, wished that Eli was there so there would be someone there who she knew, and then Perdita picked up the basket and she went to the door. When she found a servant, she handed them the basket. "Please, would you give this to Baron Devin?" she asked, handing them the basket. Once that was done, she went back into her room and , when it was time she finally made her way down into the ballroom. It was wonderful, the decorations were amazing and she was thoroughly entranced.

But equally - it was a large room with lots of people, or the potential for lots of people (she was - of course - early) and she was worried about how to manage this. However, just as she turned to look around, she saw Woe sitting at one of the tables and she made her way over. Blushing from the top of her head to the tips of her toes, Perdita got close enough to him to be able to speak and - looking only at him and not anywhere else - she smiled. "Hello," she said softly. "May I join you?" Her cheeks were, of course, flaming but she knew that an arc ago she would not have managed to do this at all, so she chalked it up to growth and cut herself a little slack.

Perdita sat and tried to be invisible, then the Baron came in and she looked at him in a mixture of awe and surprise. He was standing and talking to this group, without blushing. Listening to his words, Perdita nodded her head at his words about mental health. That was important and she was happy to help any way she could. However, that was completely chased from her mind as Baron Devin broke a snowglobe and suddenly, the window which he directed them to look out of showed a scene of snow. "Oh look!" Perdita exclaimed and she turned to Woe with a beaming smile. "It's beautiful!"
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Elisabeth Black
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Re: Winter Wonderland

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Zi’da 55, Arc 721
The invitation had come, and Elisabeth knew she had to attend. A festive party at the manor was something that she couldn't afford to miss, especially from a political standpoint. The young leader of Haven thrived on information, and gatherings such as the one being held were rife with people who had said knowledge and liked to talk.

Equally so, she knew she would likely be attending alone. Balthazar was busy with work, and that tended to take precedence over parties. He knew about the event and hadn't confirmed one way or another, so Elisabeth prepared to attend alone. The guards knew she would be away for a trial or two and knew where she would be. She had considered allowing Storm to accompany her, but she feared the trip too long for him. Balder kindly offered to look after the mischievous feline, and that was that.

Elisabeth passed through the guardhouse, promptly surrendering her sword and moving on to the main manor, smiling at the Biqaj that greeted her at the door. Looking around, the young woman took everything in, noting the elaborate decorations. She wished….well, it didn't really matter what she wished.

Servants showed her to the room that would be hers for the extent of her stay. Lavish and decadent, Elisabeth quickly set down her things and got to work on getting ready for the party, starting with washing the road off.

Ever since the invitation had arrived, she had known what she would wear. The beautifully ornate parchment had asked the guests to wear appropriately themed clothing, and Elisabeth had one dress that would fit that bill.

The Rharne gown, as she called it, meant a great deal to her. Lacking the need for 'things,' Elisabeth had begun to understand that there were a few possessions she treasured above all others. The reasons for each were wide and varied, but a sentimental thought was attached.

The exquisite sapphire and white ball gown, created by Faith Augustin herself, had been worn by Elisabeth to the Mummer's Ball. The event had been a memorable night for many reasons, but what made the gown precious to the young woman was a straightforward thing - She had been wearing it when Balthazar called her beautiful for the first time. In fact, it had been the first time ever she had been called beautiful.

Quickly slipping into the dress, she attended to other matters, such as hair and making sure everything was just so. Then, she noticed the sweets left in the room and the kind note accompanying them. Elisabeth knew Darius and was acquainted with Nir'wei, but she had never had the pleasure of meeting this Devin before.

Making a mental note to introduce herself, Elisabeth grabbed a few items that she had brought along with her and left the room to join the party.



Entering the ballroom was like stepping into a beautiful winter fantasyland. The young settlement leader wasn't quite sure what to do with herself as she gazed around, but there was one thing Elisabeth did need to do.

Tracking down one of the white and gold-clad servants wasn't tricky, and as she handed the young man the bundle in her arms, she explained quickly what she wished.

"If you could please deliver these to Baron Devin, please." The exquisite flowers, wrapped up in parchment, had large, pristine white blooms that faintly glowed in the low light of the room. "If you could tell him that they are from Elisabeth Angelus of Haven, I would greatly appreciate it." Tempest Lilies were her favorite flower, and she had thought to bring some to the host of the party, hoping he would enjoy the uniqueness of them as well.

Additionally, she had another gift but wished to deliver that one personally should she get the chance to introduce herself. One never knew at parties.

Mission accomplished, the young woman moved to the edge of the room, looking around at everyone. Oddly enough, she didn't feel like she usually would. Large groups of people didn't bother her, and she knew how to socialize. She was rather good at it, as others would attest, but right then, she felt the unmistakable urge, an old tug from seemingly a lifetime ago, to be a wallflower.

It seemed as though people were finding seats, so she found the nearest empty table and slid into a chair, waiting to see how the evening would begin.

The Baron hosting the party was announced, and Elisabeth arched an eyebrow gently at his extravagant outfit yet couldn't resist a smile. It was quite the outfit.

She listened as he greeted them and spoke of his wish to collect donations for the Spirit Rest Oasis, something Elisabeth agreed with wholeheartedly.

Then something truly magical happened. Drawing everyone's attention to the widows, he shattered a snow globe, and it began snowing outside. Thick, heavy snow, and she couldn't help but be mesmerized by the beauty of it. She was a true daughter of Viden, and Devin had given them all a gift. A gift she appreciated more than she would be able to express.


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Oram Mednix
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Re: Winter Wonderland

55 Zi'da or Fight! Or something

Oram halted his mount -on this occasion, the stone horse Rocky- about ten paces shy of the guard station outside the gate, and gave himself a few trills to admire the new Smooglenuff Manor. The last time he had visited here, it had been a smoking pile of rubble, largely buried under a rockslide. In very little time, just over two arcs, the manor had been rebuilt, and now stood as splendid as before, if not more so. Probably Devin Thorn’s doing, the Chief Ranger guessed, as his eyes traced the shimmering purple shingles. Darius was handy with building and woodwork, but likely too busy with governing Hopetoun to bother with such things. Alyssia was young and, to Oram’s knowledge, inexperienced in designing or building things. And neither had the sort of flair for…well, flair that their third co-Baron did.

Realizing that the guards at the gatehouse were watching him, Oram turned his attention back to the ground and closed distance before announcing: “Good trial, I’m Oram Mednix, Chief Ranger. Baron Devin Thorn invited me here.” He dismounted and, at the guards’ instructions, handed over such weapons as he had born on the ride here from the Ranger outpost near Hopetoun. He also led his horse towards the stables, amusing himself for a moment with the ostler’s surprise when he had Rocky revert to statue form, explaining that the stone horse would do just fine under a table or in a convenient corner, without need for hay or water or other care.

Upon leaving the stables, the Chief Ranger was greeted by a butler, who took him through a snowflake- and icicle-festooned hall and up to a similarly festooned guest room. There, Oram put on his duplicity suit and had it turn into a white outfit with gold buttons, the same color scheme he had seen on the guards outside. It was a useful item; it made worrying about having appropriate attire for all the fussy functions he would now be expected to attend as Chief Ranger a thing of the past.

Or so he had thought. Osric had tutted at his younger brother’s plan to just alter the suit to fit in, pointing out that he needed suitable shoes for the party. Signy had insisted on some sort of “accessory” to wear with the suit. Oram, they reminded him, now had the money to buy such clothes, the occasions on which to wear them, and plenty of places to keep them. Grudgingly, he had gotten a pair of embroidered black leather turnshoes and a grey scarf with a brass buckle -the hunter hadn’t even realized that scarves ever had buckles before. Muttering as he got dressed in his guestroom, Oram took a few tries before he figured out how the scarf was to be worn, presumably with the buckle showing, right? Why else make the buckle nice and shiny?

Oram fussed with and adjusted the strange clothes until he ran out of interest and patience with the whole thing and decided he looked good enough. Then he took a few trills to examine the wicker basket left in his room. He didn’t even know what half of the treats were in it, and didn’t touch them for now. He looked briefly at the handwritten note and smile in spite of himself. It was a nice thought, and it showed that at least Devin was putting himself to at least as much trouble as he was his guests.

At last, Oram headed downstairs, where people bustled about, hopefully too preoccupied with how they themselves looked to worry about how he looked. His eyes picked out some people in the crowd he knew: Elisabeth Angelus, Woe Morandi, Perdita Westcott. Perdita? That was not a person he had expected to find here. He would not, however, have much time to talk to nor indeed even greet any of these people, as there seemed to be a general hustle to find places at table.

To his dismay, Oram found himself confronted with a menu, and with the realization that he had left his reading glasses upstairs. He had endeavored in the previous seasons to practice at least learning to read simple signs and notices, but doing so was still laborious for him and required concentration. It didn’t help that many of the words on the menu were strange. Apparently one of the items involved vegetable soup with rocks. He hoped he was just reading that wrong.

He didn’t have long to puzzle over the prospect of stony soup before a stentorian voice proclaimed the arrival of their host. Devin greeted them all. He was wearing a white suit, as well, but it was much fussier in its cut and design than Oram’s, and the Baron was wearing all sorts of accessories with it; Signy would have approved. Devin gave a brief speech in which he mentioned something about collecting donations for the Spirit’s Rest Oasis. Oram looked up and sighed. Over the table hovered Amoach, red eyes looking expectantly at him. The diri, ever the nag and scold, would probably just hover there giving him that look until he made some sort of donation himself. He supposed that was a price he needed to pay for the privilege of being able to throw fireballs into Audrae’s face.

Devin’s speech didn’t dwell on such matters, fortunately, and instead moved on to some sort of dramatic flourish he’d been setting up for this moment. Their host smashed a glass globe, whereupon, it began to snow outside. It was a dramatic effect, and people gasped. Someone, it might have been Perdita, exclaimed aloud that it was beautiful, and Oram couldn’t disagree. The hunter was glad, however, that he had taken his host up on his offer for overnight accomodation. He didn’t want to have to ride back towards the Ranger outpost in that snow.
Last edited by Oram Mednix on Wed Dec 29, 2021 2:47 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 1006
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Alyssia
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Re: Winter Wonderland

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Alyssia brushed out her hair while humming. Much had gone on since the global happenings that brought the dragons out of hiding. She stopped and looked over smiling gently seeing Xidat curled up against Novus, while Amme was curled up on Fowler’s back while they both slept. It was still some time before the party began that evening, but the girl could just sit around and do nothing. There was much to do, another set of hands could never hurt anything. Yes, most of the staff were doing the decorating. So that task was filled but there was no telling if Devin had anything else that he needed help with.

The teen smiled and walked out to her closet and looked through it. The most she had was the masterwork outfit from the event Saoire had invited her to. The teen was still very much embarrassed by having to leave the event early. Taking a deep breath, she pushed the thought out of her mind, there was too much to do to dwell in the past. Alyssia had been working on the weird screaming she did when seeing a person alone or even someone saying something when she was barely paying attention. It was unnecessary, and hard to remember exactly when it happened. Though the girl was fairly certain that it had been a result of her and Darius’ encounter with Keanu. It made the girl want to fight against them even more, perhaps she could speak to Alberach Kura in order to see if something could be done.

Though Yaralon was some distance from Scalvoris, so perhaps there was nothing the woman would or could do against them. Her hand slowly slide gown the fabric of the dress till soon it was just hanging at her side. Taking a deep breath, she felt tears begin to fall down her cheeks. From the time she was young, Alyssia would not allow anyone else to see her in a weakened state. But it was becoming tiresome to be strong all the time. Fowler woke up and hurried to get her coin that the dragon had given her just in case there was anything it could do to help. Sniffing, Alyssia looked down and smiled taking the stone while wiping her face. There was only so much that she could handle, but it seemed for the moment at least that everything would be okay.

Taking a deep breath, the girl wiped her face and held the stone against her skin while closing her eyes. It had become the main way to help the teen calm her emotions while controlling the fire within her. Alyssia looked over and smiled kneeling down rubbing on Fowler’s feathers gently. The teen had begun to wonder how she had survived for so long without the goose. He had taken up watching over her very well, though she was not sure that was the reason he was with her. Standing back up tall, Alyssia pulled down the black and red dress and went to put it on while looking through the limited jewelry she had. Most of the time, the teen kept the coin on a necklace hidden under her clothes so that she would never be without it while out doing things.

She hurried off and got changed quickly while pulling her hair back out of her face while putting it up. It was nothing near as extravagant as when Devin had done her hair, but she was happy with it. Alyssia was trying to learn so that she could not have to bother Devin as much. Shortly, the teen was walking out her room with determination. Alyssia spent most of the day helping Devin in any way that he needed before retiring to her room before the event started. She made sure that her hair was still styled and ready as she waited. Shortly the teen was up and headed downstairs making sure to slip in the room before Devin made it down. Amme, Xidat, and Novus had decided to join her; the teen looked around surprised to see at least one other person with dragons. It was none other than Woe! Oram was also there with Elizabeth not far!

Alyssia was so excited to see them all, she quickly took her seat while looking around, there was only one person she did not recognize. The person looked like another young girl, but the teen knew better than to assume someone’s age based on appearances. She would have to make a note to slip over and introduce herself and welcome her to the island. Alyssia turned and looked when Devin was announced, she smiled brightly so happy to see him as Novus growled making sure that Xidat did not take off towards the man. They were in a public event and the dragonling need to learn when this are acceptable.

She listened closely as Devin began to explain the run down of the events with a smile. She knew how excited he was, there was no way the party could end badly. He had worked so hard on it. The teen could not stop herself when the giggle left her lips as he broke the globe and snow began to fall outside. The other girl’s reaction made her warm-up on the inside. She was slowly becoming used to Devin’s antics, but to see an outsider be so excited made her very happy.











word count: 912
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Darius Baer Bottom
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Re: Winter Wonderland

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Arc 721, 55th of Zi'da
When Darius had been a young lad, he had looked forward to the season of Zi'da with unbridled excitement. At the first hint of snow, he would stay awake, well past his bedtime, excitedly peeking out his window for the small white flakes. Come sunrise, there would be a running race in the Baer household. Darius would squeal with delight and attempted to rush outside, while his long-suffering mother, Jean, would try to intercept him with boots and a jacket so that he wouldn't freeze himself to death.

Once outside, the squeals would continue as the young blond boy made snow dragons and threw small handfuls of cold, white powder at other children in the street.

As he grew older, he became less fond of the cold. Witnessing a sailor fall overboard near Viden and crack his skull on the frozen surface of Synnefa Bay could have that sort of an impact on someone.



Image

But, since becoming FireForged, and not feeling the impact of the cold - with one notable exception - he had resolved to rediscover his former fondness for snow.

And it was with that mindset that he had chosen to greet the colder weather with some of the joy that he had felt as a child. As a tribute to his late mother, he wore a thick coat, lined with fur, and stepped out into the monochromatic weather that had greeted Hopetoun that fateful trial. It had snowed in the settlement overnight, as it had done the previous three trials, and though it didn't often last long, due to the island's ceaseless warmth, it still brought a mixture of joy and additional work to the residents. Darius also knew that the roads risked becoming muddy if he left late enough in the morning for the suns to melt the powder into slush.

As such, he arrived at Smooglenuff Manor several breaks before the other guests were due to arrive. He acknowledged the guards as he passed, but, as a baron himself, he did not surrender his weapon as he passed through.

Once there, he had been happy to help with the preparations, but he was also mindful of the fact that the event was very much the brainchild of his fellow baron Devin, and he was cautious not to step on the man's toes. So he spent the most of his time in his own quarters - taking up a guest room would have been cheeky, and a transparent attempt to eat some of Devin's sweet treats!

That meant that by the time he entered the ballroom itself, he had seen little of the decorations, and none of the menu.

He was no longer wearing his thick coat, having replaced that for the duplicity suit that Saoire had gifted him. His pants and jacket were striped by a tartan of no less than seven coloursImage. A light blue formed the base, with vertical and horizontal interruptions of red, black, yellow, white, green, and navy.

Those who knew Darius well would have rarely seen him dressed in such finery. He much preferred clothing for its practicality than its appearance: his fur-lined coat for travel; a gambeson for protection; hardy leather boots to put up with his restlessness.

Likewise, his beard, which he usually allowed to grow as it pleased, had been carefully trimmed in the breaks he'd had between arriving at the manor and entering the ballroom.

He also carried with him another of Saoire's gifts, in the form of a scrying snow globe. It granted him a view of Hopetoun, ensuring that he could see some of what was happening in the settlement, even while he was far away.

Darius was quick to offer warm, friendly smiles to those he knew, and polite nods to those he didn't. While Smooglenuff Manor would likely never truly feel like home - it was far too ostentatious for the Scalvorian - having friends in the room certainly made him feel more comfortable.

The bearded blond did not take a seat right away. Instead, he opted to mingle with the guests, prioritising those he hadn't met before. It was important, he felt, to represent the barony well and build relationships with those who were impacted by it in any way. He was sure he would have plenty of opportunities during the evening to spend time with those he felt closest to.

When Devin entered, Darius nodded with a polite grin to his peer, before finding a a place to sit. He was quite content to let his fellow baron to run the evening, and he would simply enjoy good company and fine food.

And when Devin announced his surprise, Darius looked out the windows from his seat, and marvelled at the sight of snowfall on Faldrass so late in the trial. As he watched the white flakes making their way down past the manor's windows, he caught a glimpse of another movement. His gaze dropped to the snow globe on the table, and a lopsided grin formed at his mouth as he watched Hopetoun receive its own share of the cold weather. As the roofs of buildings began to become decorated in the soft powder, he could see settlers moving about and leaving footprints that were quickly filled in by more snow. He leaned closer, studying the settlement, and watched as a little boy, barely half a score of eras in age and in an oversized coat, rushed out of one of the homes. Darius' grin grew, and he offered a silent prayer of thanks to his mother as he watched the young lad lie down and begin to make snow dragons.
Objectives
  • Described arrival.
  • Described outfit.
  • Did not stay in a guest room.
  • Entered the ballroom and found a table.
Last edited by Darius Baer Bottom on Wed Mar 30, 2022 11:39 pm, edited 2 times in total. word count: 974
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Devin
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Re: Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland
Before the Snow


There were some guests that definitely attracted more attention than others. When Woe arrived on his dragonling, the guards stared for a moment, and Korim, the butler, who stood at the front door, silently wondered where he was supposed to put that creature that reminded him of the one that Lady Alyssia had acquired and if it would get along with the many horses in the stable or end up trying to take a bite out of them. He was too well-mannered and polite to mention anything about that though; and fortunately, the creature that was rather magnificent to look at took flight before long anyway.

Chief Ranger Mednix’ arrival was met with the respect that a man in his position should be treated with, although the stableboy that was responsible for taking care of the guests’ mounts looked rather confused when Oram’s horse just turned into a … statue. The young man, human and in his twenties, blinked and briefly wondered if someone had secretly slipped something into his food that made him hallucinate. When Oram explained things, he nodded, still looking a little out of it, and assured him that he would find a nice corner for his horse, idly wondering if it could still think or feel in its current state.

That thought made him quite uncomfortable though, so he decided to focus on his job again.

Each guest was treated well, and their needs were taken care of from the moment that they arrived. One of the white and gold-clad servants, a young squirrel cadouri man, stopped when Elisabeth addressed him, took the bundle and bowed before he remarked, “I will take these flowers to His Grace right away, Miss Angelus.” Having said that, he departed and headed up the stairs to Devin’s private quarters where the young man was just putting the finishing touches on his outfit. When the servant explained that one of the guests had brought a gift, he smiled all over his face, took the flowers and smelled them.

They smelled very nice!

“Tell Miss Angelus that I’m grateful”, he began before he shook his head. “No, I’ll thank her personally when I have the opportunity to talk to her”, he decided because letting an employee thank someone for you when you were the one who had received the gift seemed kind of weird to him, even though lots of rich and famous people did it from what he knew. “Could you find a vase for them though, please?” he asked because he wanted his gift to last. Once the servant had answered in the affirmative and left his room to do just that, he continued to work on his outfit, resisting the urge to sing because he was just so very, very excited. His party was going to be great!

It was just as Devin was putting on his cloak, trying not to accidentally step on the train, which was even more challenging than it looked, that another servant showed up with another gift. “This is from Miss Perdita Westcott”, the servant explained and handed him the basket that looked suspiciously like one of Devin’s gift baskets. For a moment, the young man wondered why Perdita was returning it – had she not liked his sweet treats? – and then he took a closer look. His violet eyes were a little wide as he looked at the drawings. He would, he decided, put the one of Smooglenuff Manor above his desk so that he could always look at it. Receiving gifts, he decided, was absolutely awesome.

He would thank Perdita, too!

And Alyssia and Darius because they were helping with the preparations which was quite appreciated because there was a lot of work to be done. He was glad that they were here!



After the Snow


When Devin noticed how happy and excited people were when the snow began to fall, he smiled, a wide smile that seemed to make his face radiate from within. He was quite enthralled by the sight outside the windows as well. He had known what the snow globe could do, of course, but he hadn’t seen it in action before – because it was a single-use item!

Even the servants stopped for a few moments in order to take a look and oohed and aahed before the quickly went about their work again because dinner would be served soon!

Once everybody had calmed down again, Devin raised his voice once more, “The servants will come to your tables and take your orders soon. There are vegetarian options for every course as the owner of the Spirit’s Rest Oasis that we will be supporting to-trial does not condone killing animals for sustenance. If you want to skip a certain course or have two desserts instead of one, let the servants know. We made more than enough food!” he announced with a brilliant smile.

He’d always disliked that fancy dinners were governed by such strict rules. If his guests wanted chocolate cake and fruit with rainbow-colored whipped cream – or more sauce, or no salad – they would get it.

He wanted people to have fun and enjoy the meal, and he didn’t want them to worry so much about making a breach of etiquette that they were completely exhausted by the end of the night.

“If you brought pets, let the servants know what they usually eat, and they will bring it, if possible. My guests with four or more legs shouldn’t be hungry either!” he continued just as the musicians finally arrived, arranged their instruments on the stage and began to play, a beautiful melody that was reminiscent of the snow falling outside and that would not get in the way of whatever conversations were taking place.

“I’ll make another announcement soon, but for now, please enjoy yourselves!” he proclaimed, bowed deeply like an actor after a great show and finally left his place in the spotlight, with some reluctance, slowly, so as to not accidentally step on his magnificent train.

Since the first part of his “performance” was over now, Devin made his way through the ballroom. As he did so, he said a word or two to everybody that he passed by because he wanted people to be aware of the fact that he was happy to have them at his party.

Having guests was great!

“Your drawings were wonderful, Miss Westcott”, he told Perdita when he stopped at Woe’s and her table (one of the servants had told him which of the guests Perdita Westcott was. “They’ll decorate the walls in my personal quarters from now on. If you have time, I would love for you to make another drawing for me, but we can talk about that in more detail after dinner”, he told her because he had just had a great idea.

“Thank you for your gift”, he said to Elisabeth before he abruptly stuck his hand out. “I’m glad to finally make the acquaintance of Haven’s leader. How did you know I like flowers?” he asked and grinned before he nodded at the Chief Ranger and Darius and finally plopped down on a chair at Alyssia’s table. “I hope you don’t mind if I join you”, he remarked and bent down for a moment in order to scratch Novus behind the ears.

“Can you tell me what dragons eat, please?” he asked a moment later, lowering his voice and leaning closer as he did so because he didn’t want anybody to know that he was not omniscient. “I want to make sure that everybody is well-fed this evening, but I have no idea whether such beings can even tolerate normal food”, he admitted.



When Woe and Perdita sat down, they saw that they were sitting at the same table as an ancient biqaj with papery skin and white hair that was pulled back in a bun. He was wearing a green and golden robe that was appropriate for the occasion, and he smiled a gentle smile when he saw them.

“Mister Morandi, I’m pleased to make your acquaintance. I’m Nyji Toraj, the owner of the Spirit’s Rest Oasis”, he said to the son of Sintra and inclined his head respectfully before he turned to Perdita and asked her in a calm tone of voice that was meant to put her at ease, “And who might you be, Miss?” He didn’t simply ask her who she was because it was the polite thing to do, but because he was genuinely interested in her.

“And I’m Lissa, one of the therapists at the Oasis”, Nyji’s companion, a human woman of approximately thirty arcs of age with startling white hair and a ghastly scar that ran across the entire right side of her face and that had apparently left her blind in her right eye said. She was wearing an understated, but fine dress of black velvet with silver highlights, and she appeared to be quite calm despite the overwhelmingly luxurious surroundings.

Elisabeth on the other hand was sharing a table with a Sev’ryn woman that was in her early thirties with dark hair that came down to her shoulders. She was wearing a white dress and a medium blue shrug with little tassels, and she had a friendly and easygoing smile. Next to her sat a man that was maybe a hint older than she was and of mixed blood. He was wearing a plain dark grey suit, and he appeared to be a bit out of his element.

“I’m Raihi Hale, and this grump here is my husband, Terrence”, the Sev’ryn woman introduced herself and extended her hand for Elisabeth to shake. “We manage Hope Farm in Beacon. We supplied the goat cheese for the canapes”, she said with a hint of pride in her voice.

“You are the leader of Haven, aren’t you?” she asked in a friendly tone of voice.

Oram turned out to be sharing a table with a human man that was in his mid-twenties that had dark hair and dark eyes and a friendly smile. He wore a dark blue suit with patches at the elbows – patches made of white leather that had some sparkly silver stuff on them. Next to the dark-haired man, on the floor, sat a little black and white goat with an impressive beard. There was a pretty light blue bow with a silver snowflake pattern on her head, and the leash that was attached to her collar was silver as well.

“I’m Aidan”, the man introduced himself. “I used to be Baron Devin’s roommate back in Scalvoris Town, and I work as a veterinarian nowadays. This is His Grace’s favourite pet, Heidi. He insisted that she attend his party as well – and that I wear this strange suit”, he added, frowning. Aidan wasn’t sure what he was supposed to think of the glittering elbow patches.

“I feel quite ridiculous”, he muttered.

Darius found himself sharing a table with a human woman in her mid-twenties that had curly, bright red hair and wore a floor-length dress in red, green and gold. She looked a little intimidated upon realizing that she shared the table with one of the three Barons, but regained her composure before long and introduced herself, “I’m Magdalene, and I’m currently doing a Licentiate in Medicine at the university here. This is my friend and classmate Laura”, she continued and gestured at the girl next to her that had had light blonde hair and big grey eyes and was wearing a grey dress with delicate silver embroidery.

“I’m honored to make your acquaintance, Your Grace”, Laura mumbled and proceeded to blush all over her face. She looked as if she wanted to do nothing more than to disappear under the table. Sitting next to one of the barons was quite overwhelming!

Alyssia who had already been joined by Devin found that they had acquired another tablemate. A small brown mouse cadouri man that wore a brown suit and a very frilly shirt had joined them. She would recognize him as Marvin, the engineer that was in charge of the various building projects around the manor. He appeared to be absolutely elated to be there!

“I can’t wait to try the food. I love food!” he told her and grinned before he asked her, “Have you already decided what you will eat, Lady Alyssia? I think I’ll go for the panda special, even though I’m not a panda”, he said. The panda special was the stir-fry with bamboo, of course. Devin had added it to the menu in order to honor Bao.



The guests had a few bits to get acquainted with the people they were sitting with and enjoy the luxurious atmosphere, the snow outside and the music before a servant in white and gold approached each table. “What would you like to eat and drink?” the servant asked and proceeded to note down what they had requested before they handed each guest a piece of off-white paper that smelled faintly of cinnamon and vanilla.

“There will be music and dancing later on, and you are welcome to request a song. If you do so, please write down which song you want here. We will collect your papers once we serve the meal”, the servant told them politely and bowed deeply.

The guests did not have to wait too long for the food and the drinks to arrive. Before long, the servants brought them their order (provided that they had ordered something) and collected their papers in case they had requested a song. As the food and the drinks were being served, the music temporarily changed and became faster, almost like a march of sorts.

At Alyssia’s table, Devin stood up from his chair and raised his glass of fine red wine in a toast. As he did so, the music momentarily stopped so that everybody would be able to hear him.

“To a wonderful evening!” he exclaimed before he drank, an absolutely radiant smile on his face.



I will post again in approximately two weeks.

OOC Info

  • 1 PC per player.
  • If you want to join after the first round, send me a PM, please.
  • Feel free to assume that you received an invitiation.
  • You may bring familiars, diri or animals.
  • You may each bring one companion.
  • In order to give the thread a bit of structure and try to make sure that it doesn't remain unfinished, there will be rough deadlines and small objectives every round.
  • Devin (Expert Cooking) and the Smooglenuff Manor NPC Ada Adams (Master Cooking) were in charge of the menu.
  • The theme of the party is "Winter Wonderland".
  • Pegasus has offered to review.

Objectives

  • Interact with your tablemates
  • Order your food and your drinks
  • State if you request a song (If you request a song, please write down which one on the piece of paper and hand it to the servant who serves your meal. You can just make the name of the song up!)
  • State if you join the toast
  • Enjoy the food (or not!)

Menu

Appetizers:
Goat cheese wrapped with bacon and with olives on top
Pink bread with a variety of vegetarian spreads

Soups:
Creamy vegetable soup with roux
Basil and tomato consommé with poached shrimp cocktail

Salads:
Mango and Sunburst Fruit salad with a spicy lime vinaigrette
Arugula salad with lemon balsamic dressing
Warm potato salad with Faldrass Potatoes

Main Dishes:
Filet mignon with balsamic strawberries and pink rice
Stir fry with bamboo sprouts, mushrooms and long beans
White fish with Sunburst Fruit
Glowing breaded meat with a side of wild rice

Deserts:
Chocolate balls coated with nuts and edible flowers, with a liquid core
Fresh fruit with rainbow-colored whipped cream
Chocolate cake with pink frosting and sprinkles, filled with candied fruit

Credit

Patterns used:
Winter Wonderland by PaperFlower, available under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.
WINTERS NIGHT KISS.. by Pauline Jones, available under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.
word count: 2711

Appearance

  • Due to an encounter with a magical tree Devin has bright violet eyes.
  • Devin has fancy black claw-like nails. The Grafter Rakvald made them from the spines that grow on the dubaebo's back and attached them to Devin's hands.

Items

Devin owns a Ring of Reversal. He's always wearing it, unless stated otherwise.

Potions

N/A
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Woe
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Re: Winter Wonderland






When people began filing into the ballroom, Woe turned to Perdita, and nodded with a smile to indicate that she was welcome at his table. The dragonet perched on his shoulder gazed at the woman kindly, and then promptly sneezed its breath toward her, effusing a sense of encouragement and assurance to Perdita.

"It's good to see you Perdita." When the snows came, Woe was mostly silent and sullenly so, tempted to shrug at Perdita when she said it was beautiful. Woe had a different opinion on the snows, but supposed from a safe distance, in a place that was normally warm, falling snow outside a shelter could be quite a comfort.

"It's impressive, I wonder what contraption he used to accomplish that?"

Soon enough, the Baron himself approached Woe, and engaged with him and Perdita in conversation. Woe noted that Elisabeth Angelus was also present at the party, and nodded silently in her direction if he managed to catch her eye.

Woe wasn't quite sure what the dragonet ate, and Breen himself only feasted upon sadness, which was hopefully going to be in short supply tonight, so he would most likely fade into the Beneath until such a time as he sensed it.

When the Baron made the rounds toward his table, he greeted and thanked Perdita for her artwork. "She's very talented. You ought to commission a portrait or two from her. She did a portrait of my dog."

Eve was becoming visibly bored with every moment that passed without someone attending to her. Woe noted her gradual change in attitude over the next few moments, from the time Perdita joined them, to the gathering of the rest of the guests into the Ballroom. The last straw was when Devin failed to acknowledge her presence. Woe could almost imagine her frustration boiling over at having been ignored by most everyone. But for now, he tried to put her mood out of his mind.

Finally, at the last moment when most of the guests had already filed in and taken their seats, she lightly slammed her palms down upon the table's surface. It shook lightly, and she announced to Woe in Vahanic, "I'm going to find someone interesting to sit with. Thank you for inviting me, Woe." So saying, she slipped by him, unfurling the red cloth from his neck and then wrapping it around her own.

She made her way toward the table that Darius was sat at with the students from the University. Just as she'd instructed Iago, a set of cards in the pockets of the dress that she'd worn to the ballroom. These she easily slipped out of her dress, and placed down upon the table. She smiled at Darius, "Can sit here?" She asked in broken common, with a heavy Vahanic accent. "Do play?" She asked, as she took the cards out of their box.



Woe was left to settle down the guests that were left in Eve's wake, and tried to be conciliatory, "Apologies, she's had a hard time the past few days..." Woe swept the table with his eyes, from Perdita to the people who were with the Spirit's Rest Oasis. "Hello, Mister Toraj. This is Perdita Westcott, one of the more impressive artists to come out of the Scalvoris University lately. Hello Miss Lissa." Woe nodded to her kindly.

Woe was glad to have been informed of his table-mates' aversion to meat. That made his choices all the more easy, as he had no wish to offend his fellow guests. He ordered along those lines, opting for the more subdued and simple dishes that were described on the menu. He didn't have a preference for a song, or any kind of music.

And while Woe had an interest in supporting the Spirit's Rest, but he wanted to hold off until the evening settled down a bit. For now, they'd only just been introduced to each other, there would be opportunity to make a pledge to their business and organization.

He simply raised his glass, silently joining the Baron's toast.
Menu Choices
Appetizers:
Pink bread with a variety of vegetarian spreads

Soup:
Creamy vegetable soup with roux

Salad:
Warm potato salad with Faldrass Potatoes

Main Course:
Stir fry with bamboo sprouts, mushrooms and long beans

Desert:
Fresh fruit with rainbow-colored whipped cream

word count: 737
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Oram Mednix
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Re: Winter Wonderland

Don’t be silly, Aidan. There’s no such thing as ridiculous holiday outfits!

Oram frowned as Devin made his first announcement -which wasn’t easy, as the man was just so damned personable; the owner of the Spirit’s Rest Oasis apparently didn’t approve of eating meat, though he apparently had no objection to putting rocks in other peoples’ soup. On the other hand, the hunter’s expression softened somewhat when their host declared that any animals they had brought were welcome and would be well-fed. Had Osric been there, he would probably have muttered something about Oram’s attitudes being “paradoxical” or something. Actually, if Os had been there, he would more likely have made fun of the buckle on Oram’s scarf, the one *his* wife had helped him pick out! This was one occasion where Oram felt glad not to have his brother around.

There was a young man at the Chief Ranger’s table who introduced himself as “Aidan”. His clothes looked fussy, and he looked uncomfortable in them. When Aidan confessed to Oram that Devin had insisted he wear his current outfit, and that he felt ridiculous, Oram thought he’d found a kindred spirit. He gave Aidan a commiserating smile. ”It’s a season where people give each other gifts and unwanted fashion advice, I guess,” the traveler observed. He then pointed to his scarf. ”Did you know that some scarves have buckles? Buckles!” He jabbed an indignant thumb at the offending bit of brass. ”…And did you also know that at least some people think those look good? Yeah, me, neither. Yet here I am, wearing my sister-in-law’s idea of dashing. I was just going to wear a white suit to the party. That’s formal and wintery, right?” He shook his head bitterly. ”Wouldn’t do at all, apparently. Gotta have a scarf with a buckle on it or it’s no good.”

Oram paused and looked appraisingly at Aidan. ”If it’s any comfort, I don’t think you look ridiculous. A bit fussy, maybe, but no more so than plenty of other people here.” As he move his head to indicate the others in the room, his scarf buckle jingled as if in agreement. ”You’re fine.”

He turned his attention to Aidan’s companion, and his mood brightened a bit. ”A goat? Heidi? So a doe, then?” He looked at Heidi and allowed himself a grin. ”I’ve got two wethers. They’re pack animals rather than pets, but I still wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to them.”

Eventually the wait-staff came around to ask for their food orders. Oram, remembering the opaque menu with rock vegetable soup, sighed before saying: ”Chef’s Choice. I prefer meat, though.” Let the vegetarians eat the rock soup.

The hunter disliked toasts, but not enough to offend his host or fellow guests by not joining in. He rose, raised his glass, and mumbled the best imitation he could manage of whatever it was everybody else was saying.

A bit later, the food arrived, and Oram sat down and poked at it with a fork to see if there were any rocks in it.
word count: 540
Villains are powerless against story beats.
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