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Grayson Family Dinner - Jul.

The next installment of the Grayson Family Dinner is scheduled for July 15th! Grayson family members are of course welcome, as are any vassals or anyone somehow connected to the family. It's just a way for everyone to all get in the same room and catch each other up on what's going on.

OOC: This is a great way to discuss those up and coming plots you need help with. Grayson has 3 in the works for the Crownlands that, if approved, we'll be more than happy to share the details of ICly.


July 16, 2021, 7:30 p.m.

Hosted By

Lou Aindre Liara


Gloriel Jerrica Malcolm Isabeau Scraps Michael



Arx - Ward of House Grayson - Grayson Mansion - Dining Room

Largesse Level


Comments and Log

6 Grayson House Guards, Gioia, a clever actress from Gemecitta arrive, following Jerrica.

12 Grayson House Guards arrives, following Liara.

Approaching the grand entrance of the Dining Hall, Gloriel pauses nonplussed at the threshold. Her brows knit slightly as she notices a distinct lack of voices echoing into the hall; for a moment she convinces herself that she recorded the time wrong, but the thought barely comes to fruition before she dismisses it as out of character. Clearing her throat and her expression alike, she heads inward.

Dinner at House Grayson is a grand affair. Food from all domains is set out, and there's a drink that represents each house as well. The table is set and servants are setting people down wherever they'd like to settle before getting drinks and a plate of something to eat. Lou is kicked back in a chair at the table, enjoying her favorite whiskey when people start filing in.

A brief commotion is heard from outside the dining room, a slightly harried looking Jerrica appears in the doorway followed by her normal entourage. "Sorry. I am a bit overcommitted today," She says by way of explanation. She wears a pastel tulle dress with matching shoes. Her chestnut waves tumble down her back, unfixed as is her habit, but tonight she wears a stygian headpiece. The woman gets something resembling wine and, scoping out the room, lands on Gloriel. "Hello! I do not think we have yet met!...Princess Jerrica Grayson. Welcome to the Mansion."

Dressed up as fancily as ever, even just for dinner in her own house, Liara shows up to the hall. A quick smile is offered to people about as he moves through, along to take a seat along one of the long sides of the table - by tradition, the head's kept for the monarch, and the other end, well, that's for Niklas' absurd throne that nobody's quite got to moving yet. "This looks splendid," she offers as a sort of general commentary.

Perhaps underdressed in a modest wool gown, Gloriel employs all of her social graces to maintain her demeanor. Turning with Jerrica's attention, she provides a modest bow in response, "Your Highness. I am Gloriel Bisland, the honor is mine." Her voice cracks, having been idle for hours now, but she offers a smile nonetheless. "Thank you for extending the invitation." As she speaks, her gaze dances along the length of the table, noting Lou and Liara each in her periphery.

"It's not as grand as when Sabella arranges things, but I think it turned out passably well," Lou remarks in Liara's direction, giving her a bright grin. She looks over at the new arrivals, both Gloriel and Jerrica getting a bright smile. "Hello! Come in and be seated! I'm Lou." Yeah, that's it. No princess there or anything. Just Lou.

Also, just Lou is dressed in exploration gear. She's probably the most underdressed person there.

"My Lady," Jerrica nods gracefully to Gloriel. "I'm glad to meet you. How are you finding the city?" Then Lou is spotted. "Hello, cousin! How are you?" she bubbles and waves at Liara. "I haven't seen you in a while either!" She is in full gathering mode: drinking and mingling!

As if timed just-so, Gloriel turns to address Lou next, "It is good to meet you, Your Highness." She extends the same courteous bow, including her title as a point of respect. As directed, Gloriel maneuvers around an available chair and prepares to takes her seat, careful however to lend her attention to the small nuances of polite society in the Compact. She waits until after Liara has taken her seat, and then seats herself. She smiles, engaging Jerrica anew, "It has been decent thus; I am glad to finally have cause to be in the company of your family. It has been many years."

"The food still looks excellent and there are people to speak with, so I would say that it has worked out well," Liara opines to Lou, getting herself settled in. Then a small wave is offered to Jerrica. "Rather well. I am keeping busy, and hoping to make the most of this period of peace." She extends a smile to Gloriel. "It is good to see you again, my lady."

Jerome, a bodyguard, Morgana, a proper secretary, 2 Valardin Knights, Elaine, an older courtier arrive, following Isabeau.

Isabeau arrives, following Malcolm.

"Busy as ever, Jerrica," Lou calls out to her cousin, lifting a hand in a wave. "I am told that Liara will be joining you on the menagerie excursion," she adds. She looks back to Gloriel, "And Lady Gloriel here and Michael will be helping Malcolm out with the that business on the outskirts of Greypeak!" she exclaims.

"Aye, and Duchess Lisebet and Lady Sunaia --" Malcolm calls out, shamelessly inserting himself into the conversation as he enters, with Duchess Isabeau as escort. Although, it's the Telmar that glitters in silver and gold blush and sparkling diamonds. An utter vision. The Shepherd Duke's got his hair brushed. So, that's something.

Gloriel lifts herself briefly from her chair to bow to Liara - noticeably more effortful than the previous two, "Your Grace." She returns to her seat, neatly tucking herself in once more. Listening back and forth, she makes note of Lou's mention of the 'menagerie excursion'. However her focus is pulled to the subject of Graypeak, surprised by her cousin's name, "Ah, I am glad to hear Michael will be--" She halts her words, shifting now in her seat to cast her eyes on the entryway.

"It does take a bit of time to get situated here. I'm glad you came this evening. Hopefully there will be many people to meet." Jerrica says to Gloriel. "Oh, you're coming?!" She says to Liara. "That is wonderful. I have been meaning to see if the members of the Lodge would like to come, too, but I have not asked yet." She takes a seat at the table then waves at Malcolm. "Lou has been working so hard on all of our adventures. I'm glad people are taking part."

Lou raises both brows at Malcolm when he comes in. "Malcolm!" she exclaims. "Oh. Good. I'm very glad. I'm still looking for a body or two to go explore those ruins, so if you know of anyone wanting to do something, please point them my way. I may point Michael in that direction too. He said just sign me up anywhere." Which is a lot of power for Lou to possess!

"Duke Shepherd - I like what you've done with your hair," Liara offers by way of greeting, and then to Isabeau, "Duchess Telmar - is that honeysilk? Entirely splendid. The shoulder plates are inspired." The greetings offered, and a smile cast to Gloriel, Liara then confirms to Jerrica, "I am coming indeed. And Keely too, I hope. It is a while since I have got out anywhere with her."

Quickly reviewing the newcomers, Gloriel provides a practiced smile for the pair before turning back to the conversation at the table. She simply raises her fingers from her lap, indicating herself to Lou, "You have my hand, should you need it." If she has come to Arx to make a name for herself, than she must take every opportunity and strike while the iron is hot.

Isabeau moves in on her patron's arm, quite a bit shorter than him, but much better polished. She doesn't seem to mind as she looks at him with mild bemusement, a hand raising up, up, and up to flick a fingertip against Malcolm's hat, "We're inside, hat off." She directs a dazzling smile and a curtsey to Liara at the greeting, "Starlight silk looks perfect on you, your Grace. I haven't quite gotten them to finish my gowns in it yet. I'm almost contemplating pairing it with a decorative breastplate."

Lou practically lights up at Gloriel, "Truly? Exploration is like /the best thing/ ever. I'd go myself, but there are some things I'm working on here at home that require my attention. I'll put you on the list of people going then. Could be they might need a sword hand too, but I mean - exploration!" Lou is practically bouncing up and down when Gloriel says she'll go, excited for Gloriel. "Plus not all places are as horrided as the ones that Norman the Explorer found? He really did have the worst of luck in finding places to explore, always finding the worst of the worst that wanted to eat him or his party!"

"Pleasure, and thank you for the hospitality of Grayson. Lou. Your Grace, I did try today. Thank you really for noticing. Nice to meet you, Lady Gloriel and it's nice to see you again Princess Jerrica - and, yeah, I'll explore ruins, Lou, if you need another body to go throwing itself into unknown - potentially fun - situations. We'll the use the word fun for any future decisions that might keep cousin Wyatt from being too worried about me. Care for anything - er - in particular, milady?" He asks Isabeau, and immediately offers a sheepish grin. "Aye. Hat off."

Surprised by the sudden barrage of energy directed towards her, Gloriel does her best to supply Lou with an equally eager expression of excitement, but falls short with a lackluster albeit toothy smile, "I am glad to be of service. I will be certain to make arrangements for the appropriate gear." She returns Malcolm's greeting as well, "And you good Duke."

6 Grayson House Guards, Gioia, a clever actress from Gemecitta leave, following Jerrica.

"Lady Mabelle had taken it to a particular length, with star iron heels for her shoes, as I recall," Liara remarks to Isabeau. She goes on to reflect, "I dare say a breastplate would tie it all together very well. The fabric certainly struck me as suited to pairing with various cooler, silvery metals, although as with all such views, I am sure that somebody, somewhere, will find the very suggestion egregious."

Though she doesn't pass any comment on the matter, Liara does turn up a smile at Gloriel and Malcolm volunteering, before getting to actually eating something, at least an appetiser: watermelon slices.

The discussion of fashion makes Malcolm's eyes glaze over only slightly, but, he has a drink now. Another glass is passed to Isabeau.

Isabeau moves to settle down in a seat, offering one of her dazzling smiles to Liara in response, her head dipping in a nod, "Blackram will be unveiling some new fall and winter fabrics quite soon, actually. I'm setting up an event of sorts, if we can manage it." she says in her sweet contralto voice. Her blue eyes shift to Gloriel, with that seraphic smile, "Ah, have we me my Lady? I am Duchess Isabeau Telmar, Duke Shepherd's protege," she introduces herself, accepting the drink from Malcolm.

Lou grins brightly when Lou hears Malcolm volunteering. "Splendid! I'm so very glad to hear that because that now means there's a bona fide official exploration team." And this pleases her more than anything in the world, which shouldn't be surprising. "I can't wait to hear about your grand adventures at the next dinner. I'll be sitting on the edge of my seat, envious I didn't get to go." Of that, she's certain.

Perhaps in a moment of self-consciousness, while the other women discuss fashion Gloriel turns her House ring unsubtly with her thumb, perhaps intentionally drawing some eyes towards it. As if to call her out on the silly act, she hears Isabeau's voice just then, "Oh, no.... I do not believe we have. You are well met, good Duchess. I am Gloriel Bisland." Her words are accompanied with the same smile she has practiced for decent company a hundred times over.

"Are they indeed? Is it perhaps from that most peculiar goat with the propensity for falling over?" Liara wonders of Isabeau. Then to Lou, she observes, "Nobody ever wishes people a safe and sensible adventure. Perhaps that rather goes against the spirit of it all."

"Is that so, Lou? Well, with that, guess that I'm dutybound to attend the next dinner at that - in order to retell the tale of the adventuring." Malcolm speaks low, laughs louder, and he brightens - looking happier. "All right." Then, a beat, and he glances over and down - now, drawn toward the movement. "Ah. Bisland's lion. Always thought it a keen sigil for ya'll."

Isabeau dips her chin in a gentle inclination to Liara, "The very same, your Grace. I believe it will be quite nice." She responds to Gloriel next, "A pleasure to met you, my Lady." Her eyes trail to Lou as she admits, "I'm not the best one for adventure, though I have gone on a few of the more... diplomatic sorts of adventures." She smiles aside at Malcolm, "A pity I can't help you with the adventuring," she sighs.

Gloriel could not agree with Malcolm more. Her facade cracks, and she offers a genuine and proud smile for the first time all evening, "Kind words. I tend to agree." Managing her attention as best she can, she shares her focus with the table where she can, careful not to speak out of turn.

Liara offers a quick and evidently somewhat amused smile to Isabeau. "I see. I am glad the creature has found a purpose. The new fabric may well find a space in my winter wardrobe." Then her attention turns over to Malcolm and Gloriel, and she comments, "I am always glad to hear such stories and shall certainly look forward to our next gathering here all the more."

Lou raises a brow lightly at Isabeau. "Sometimes the diplomatic are /the/ best ones because when you are not a diplomatic person and cannot speak the language, you maybe get kidnapped by Abandoned and have to be rescued, only to have your rescuer kidnapped with you, and then finding out the Abandoned themselves need rescued from a Northern Abyssal tainted abandoned tribe and you become heroes in rescuing them." She says that with WAY too much excitement.

"Someone needs to be the sensible one, milady," Malcolm asides toward Isabeau with a tease, ducks his head with a deeper chuckle, and he offers a warm expression for both her - and then Gloriel. "Oh, aye. Duke Michael was nothin but kindness incarnate when I first had to step into a Duke's shoes -- aaaaand what, Lou --" coffee-dark eyes flick over, his expression grows puppy-dog earnest. "That sounds fun."

Isabeau raises a finger to Lou and demurs, sweetly in her soft way, "Then I will be sure to only go those places where I know the languages." She scrunches her nose at Malcolm in answer to her being sensible, "This is true, one of us should be, so we'll have to trade."

Fading in and out of the conversation between small bites, Gloriel's eyes remain ever-moving as they jump hither and tither around the table, often seeking out the source of a laugh or anecdote. With an attempt at subtlety, she watches the other women in their natural setting; pausing now and then to observe - ignorantly - a flashy article of clothing or piece of jewelry. Without much to offer, Gloriel remains quietly attentive.

Lou settles back in her chair as she looks around the table. "Lady Gloriel, you've just recently returned to the city haven't you? What sorts of things have you been up to since your return?" she asks.

Gloriel tenses her throat, a lacework of violet and olive veins suddenly visible from beneath her golden skin, "Oh, well..," she pauses to hurriedly swallow the remnants of her last bite, "I have taken to familiarizing myself with the city again, mostly. I have spent most of my time at Bisland Manor in truth, overseeing arrangements for rooms and the like." In other words, she has done nothing. Still, she provides a vacant smile.

"I'm sure that will change once you get settled again." Of that Lou is certain. She then looks to Malcolm. "How about you, Duke Shepherd? Anything else new in your corner since Michael's party?"

Following the appetiser up by diving straight into one of the main courses, Liara takes a time to simply eat, some marinated chicken breast and an abundance of mixed vegetables, although she keeps an ear to the conversation as it continues.

Isabeau falls into comfortable silence at this point, turning her own attention to a serving of some main dish or another without complaint. Which gives Malcolm ample opportunity to hold his own conversation.

"Oh, no, that's quite plenty milady Gloriel, as gettin settled in the city takes time. Time before it feels more like home, yeah?" Malcolm's picking at foodstuffs, mostly pieces that are easily eaten without utensils. He chances a sip of his wine, licks his lips clean. "Honestly -- that's all. Been gathering a group to ride out and see about the missing livestock. Involved in one too many projects - with Blackram's goats and Eswynd's wool."

Clearing a smudge of grease from the corner of her mouth, Gloriel lowers her eyes and napkin both to her lap. She contemplates for a moment, and before she has a chance to dissuade herself she announces to the table - particularly to Lou and Liara, "I do have intentions to stay, that I might be named Sword of Pridehall." The words are succinct and clear, spoken with conviction, "A lofty pursuit, perhaps, but when we become comfortable with our lot then we stagnate; this will not be my fate."

Lou gives Malcolm a bemused look. "Aren't you an explorer in your own right?" she wonders. "I seem to recall that was part of your history. Or does Bonnie do most of that these days?" she asks. Speaking about Bonnie causes her to frown a bit. "No one else has attempted to come after her after I helped map out your lands with her, have they?" she remembers that voyage, where they were nearly kidnapped! "It was definitely her they were after at that time."

Mark comes into the Grayson Dining Room looking for all the world like someone who maybe doesn't quite belong here. He's dressed in clothes that have clearly seen some travel, his hair is somewhat disheveled and his beard could use a good trim. His expression is drawn and serious, like a great weight hangs around him. But he slips in with whatever other guests are around, skirting the edges of the main table for the time being. But perhaps he's just a servant of House Grayson that's returning after a long trip away, he certainly seems harmless enough. Just curious. He picks up a glass of the side table and examines it.

Liara turns a smile towards Gloriel and leaves her food alone for the moment, instead settling back on her chair as she replies. "A fine aspiration, my lady. One hopes that the current peace, or perhaps I should instead say relative peace, shall prevail for a long time yet, although peace is exactly the time to prepare for conflict."

Then she looks over to Lou, somewhat curious. "I cannot help but wonder who 'they' in that instance is." She does not appear to register Mark's presence, attention very much on those about the table for now.

Gloriel inclines her head towards Liara in agreement, "Indeed, Your Grace."

"My bonny Bonnie's off at sea again, sister-dear was here -- an' then -- back out again. Next time, I'm promising her a caravel as a bribe to stay just a little longer than that between stays in the city. Don't blame her none, as the salt's part of her blood." Quietly said, and his expression's fond and just a little wistful. "I recall. Aye, quite a few folk come after her - all depends on her port of call, and whatever trouble she's gotten into." With a huff, "We'll switch back and forth, milady Isabeau, as good peers do." Malcolm pauses, blinks, and looks around - suddenly keen on cake. "When's dessert?"

Malcolm checks perception and empathy at normal. Malcolm marginally fails.

Isabeau checks perception and empathy at normal. Isabeau is successful.

Gloriel checks perception at normal. Gloriel is successful.

Lou is presently embroiled in conversation with Malcolm, having just asked after his sister Bonnie nd an excursion she one went on with her. It is Liara that gets her attention first as she flushes slightly. "The Black Brand pirates. It happened several years ago, really. They were looking to for a map and a member of House Shepherd to get into some vault or something. We also saw cultists of Malardin on the shores, at that same time. They may have been working together then. But then everything with Eurus started up and it all fell to the wayside as we got caught up in that. But with the Traitor out and about, who knows if what happened might become relevant again."

Isabeau's blue eyes raise from her dinner and immediately fix on Mark, her head giving a quizzical cock to one side as she clearly takes a long look at the travel-worn figure, a slow raise touching her brow. She doesn't know Grayson servants, she's also an outsider here, as much as a former Valardin princess can feel outside, but he catches her attention for whatever reason.

Mark continues his inspection of the glassware with relatively little concern about him, he just wants to see if this is real crystal or not. When an actual Grayson servant passes him, they take a moment to consider his somewhat shabby clothing. But then since he doesn't seem to be causing any trouble, they offer him a glass of wine. "Oh, thank you very much. You're kind, stranger," Mark replies in a low volume. Now and again, he looks to the dining room table. On one of those passes, he notices Isabeau noticing him. He raises his glass to her quietly, but without speaking. A silent hello.

Taking note of the latecomer, Gloriel employs whatever discretion she can muster to avoid staring outright. Rather familiar and informal for a servant, particularly in Liara's presence. A healthy blend of curious and appalled, her attention is spared only briefly before it is returned to the dinner guests proper.

"Pirates," says Liara, echoing that first bit of the description of the group. "I remain thankful that that is a word rarely heard lately, unlike certain others mentioned." A remarkably roundabout way, perhaps, of agreeing with Lou's sentiment about all the other things without actually speaking about it. She polishes off the last of her chicken, then casts a smile towards Malcolm. "Whenever you so wish, my lord, although I dare say something will be brought up soon for everyone."

It is not until the newcomer starts talking finally that Lou takes notice. "Good evening!" she calls out to him. "I'm Lou Grayson. Welcome to our dinner. Grab a plate, have some food, and be welcome. We've got the best whiskey around," she says, raising a glass before she takes a sip. "Though there is a price to pay," she says her tone very serious. "That price is a good story about something you've done," she tells him. "Because I'm very certain that people have tired of seeing my clockwork griffon fly around that I picked up the first time I visited Whitepeak," even if Lou herself never tires of seeing her device. She glances to Liara, nodding her head. "I'm very much looking foward to the Queen's story time tomorrow regarding the Metallic Traitor. Everyone who can go should, just so they can be informed about what's coming and how to get involved." This is a thing she heartily encourages. She even looks in Mark's direction to include him in this. "Even you," she notes seriously. To Liara she says, "Mason will be busy with other things, and so I will be bringing him up to speed after attending."

"Heard about that, but, like -- that's ALL I heard about that," Malcolm admits to Lou, straightfoward, and just a little befuddled at the lack of sweets on his dinner plate. A passing moment of self-directed introspection, perhaps. He eats one last piece of roasted carrot - as that's a bridge between sweet and savory - then, yes, he wipes his hand clean on the edge of his shirt hem. "Pirates, pfft." Then, with a smile, toward Liara: "Privateers." With a vague lean to the side, Malcolm asks Isabeau: "You all right?"

Liara gives a small duck of her chin in understanding to Lou, a quick smile cast towards Mark with the greetings directed his way, then she answers Malcolm, "Do you know, I am not sure that such individuals have been engaged in the Crownlands in my lifetime. I would certainly be interested to hear otherwise."

Not much might have snapped Isabeau out of whatever thought she found herself stuck in, but Malcolm wiping his hand on his shirt? That's one of the things that seems most effective. She breaks the quizzical look at Mark to give her patron something of an exasperated look and collects up a napkin from the table to drape over his arm. Her smile, even through that glance has not faltered or dimmed, warm and sweet entirely, "I'm fine, my Lord." she reassures Malcolm after registering his question.

Mark is generally unconcerned with anyone that might be looking at him, but he will wave his wine glass 'hello' as he did with Isabeau. He's not shy about his attendance. He simply drifts around the room, examining things. This only lasts for so long, as Lou is drawing attention to him. His eyebrows shoot up and he gestures toward himself, "Who? Me?" as if he's rather surprised that he'd be invited to sit among such illustrious nobility. The mention of Whitepeak prompts a grimace to flood Mark's features, his mouth tightening into a line of mild consternation. But he works to erase it, easing his face into something that resembles neutrality. He doesn't move to join the table just yet, perhaps he doesn't have any good stories. Instead, the travelworn stranger drinks the glass of wine offered to him earlier from one of the servants.

"That's real good, milady Isabeau," Malcolm mutters, blinking for a moment as he grows even more confused, pausing to accept the napkin from Isabeau. As Lou has pointed Mark out, that's finally when Malcolm appears to notice. Or - almost. Mark's as everyone as everyone can get -- but he'll greet him with a broad smile, toasting his glass toward him. "Hello, friend! Malcolm Shepherd. Pleasure to meet you. Come and take a seat with us. Don't know much about much, but, I do like drinking with new and familiar faces."

Gloriel simply masticates her dessert, uncertain of what it is, but enjoying it nonetheless. Her attention is once more split between the table and the brazen stranger; she has now abandoned any attempts at discretion, and begins to openly track him with her gaze. While it may be in Lou's nature to open her home to all, Gloriel is less trusting than many. More suspicious than most. Breaking engagement briefly, she spears the last morsels on her plate and then polishes off her fork, finally reclining in her chair.

Presumably existing in a state of sort of blithe confidence that the House's servants will vet anyone coming in, Liara doesn't seem at all bothered by any guests, however unusual. Even Michael. Her meal done, she reaches to collect a pot of tea to pour herself a cup and settles back, nursing it in her hands.

Michael Bisland is late. Which certainly happens and he didn't at all time his arrival to coincide with the arrival of dessert. That would be a foolish bet even if he did veer immediately to snag a plate of something delicious and sweet. He'll slow though as the imperceptive Michael picks up....something afoot. High Lady Liara gets a smile though as he spears the end of a bit of cake and lifts it into his mouth. "Pardon." He'll murmur aside before moving to join Gloriel, his sturdy cousin.

Maintaining her hallow, practiced smile, she greets her cousin with familiar ease, "Cousin, glad you could make it." As he sits, she leans her weight to the side and lowers her voice for him alone, "You could not make it before the servants began to snuff the candles?" The smile remains for any onlookers, even as her tone becomes barbed with her hushed words.

Lou might have left Mark be after chattering at him a moment, but it's the grimace when she mentions Whitepeak that has her sitting up and taking bigger notice of him now. Not that there is much for her to see really, just Whitepeak has all sorts of things happening with it right now. "Speaking of Whitepeak... some members of the Bards College recently received a vision that included Lorwroth Kinsbane's destruction of the city," she remarks conversationally about the table. "They'd invited me to a meeting to discuss it with them, considering the extensive research I did there. We're still deciphering the meaning of it, but it may apply to the things going on at the moment. It included several other features, all involving crowns of sorts. I had intended to do further research into our... not so grand ancestor and his actins, but it seems the library is fresh out of any other information about him," which seems to frustrate her. "I informed them that the Metallic Traitor is eating the city of Whitepeak to steal away what primum he can in order to do whatever it is he intends to do in the coming months," this is definitely a cause for a grimace.

Isabeau's blue eyes flick to Lou now, and she bites down on her lower lip. Her gaze lowers to her plate which she seems to have lost her appetite for. She blinks a few times as she looks at the plate.

"Duke Bisland, welcome," Liara greets Michael, though the general formality is rather offset by a warm smile. And then, although she's quiet enough that she's presumably listening to Lou, she does at first purse her lips subtly, before distracting herself with a bowl of trifle that's brought along for her. Still quiet, though.

Mark doesn't react further to mention of Whitepeak, whatever caused him to grimace is neatly and cleanly locked away for the time being. Instead, he allows himself to be distracted by Malcolm speaking to him. His eyebrows arch high again and he once more looks surprised. "The Malcolm Shepherd? The Duke?" he asks, keenly eyeing the man.

"Uh-huh." Malcolm stops, mouth full, cheek stuffed. His overly expressive eyebrows lift, draw down, then lift again. Grinning wide. "Drink?" Asking the obvious question, although there's a note of uncertainty - no, that's worry in his tone of voice: "You need help with anythin? Why does the Whitepeak place make ya'll frown?" Casual like, as this is a normal set of circumstances to have this conversation by. "Don't know much about this Whitepeak place beyond some old stories Delilah told me."

Perhaps a few years ago, Michael might be a man to get miffed when some neo-noble Duke gets recognized before him. Today, he just smiles as he sits down beside Gloriel. He'll lean sideways into her and whisper a bit. WHISPER WHISPER WHISPER.

Malcolm notices Michael and waves at him. WAVE, WAVE.

Gloriel straightens from Michael now, shrugging her response.

Isabeau folds her hands neatly in her pink-clad lap, having fallen into silence and remaining there as her plate is cleared away. She dips her head in a polite nod to Michael as he joins, "Duke Bisland, lovely to see you again," she rouses her warm voice to speak, addressing him with a mild, sweet smile that hasn't faded through her silence.

Lou finishes up her own meal and dessert. "Speaking of Mason.. " she was just a few moments ago. "It's time I go and check on he and the kids. Everyone do have a good night," she tells them.

Leaving her dessert half-eaten for now, Liara opts to put some more words to use again, namely to Michael, "We really ought to catch up properly soon. There is much to go over, some of which you might even be glad to hear, unlike when people usually say that sort of thing." She casts Lou a quick smile. "Thank you for organising dinner."

Mark makes a 'huh' sound. He straightens up, even more than he was already standing straight up. The glass of wine is knocked back in one fell swoop and then he puts it on the table next to Malcolm. "Whitepeak? Never heard of it." He smiles, something sad in the very corners of it. "I'm just surprised by how casual so many of the nobility are in the Compact. Very strange to me. Well, good night, Malcolm Shepherd." As quietly as he arrived, he departs.

Gloriel bids Lou, "Good night, and thank you again for your hospitality." The words are punctuated with an inclination of her chin and a polite smile. It is not a moment after than her attention is torn from the woman, and drawn back to the gentlemen's discussion. Her eyes remain locked on the man as he lingers nearer to her, and then still as he begins to fade into the background. Suspect.

"Weren't always a noble, friend." Malcolm shrugs his shoulders at Mark, laughing, although it's done with a degree of self-awareness that makes his tanned cheeks turn ruddy. He takes a moment to settle, finishing off what's on his plate. "Weren't always. An' what -- how's a title gonna change me now when the years and experience didn't."

Lou rises from her seat and nods to Gloriel on her way out. "You have a good evening as well," she bids the other woman, and then departs from the room with a light wave.

Willen leaves, following Lou.

Michael's fork stops midway to his mouth as perhaps the oddity of the situation begins to land upon him. The fork lowers with cake still upon it before he'll turn to track down Malcolm and his seat. "So. Duke Shepherd. Who was your admirer?" The fork indicating the passage of Mark and his departure.

"An acquaintance of yours, Duke Shepherd?" Liara inquires of Malcolm, about the departing Mark. Then a subtle crinkle of her nose and an addendum. "The title changes a very great deal."

Malcolm tings his fingers against the emptied glass that's left by Mark, shrugging, "Naw. But -- yeah, he seemed to know me where I didn't know him. Maybe the eyes. But, you know, no one ever says - see that fellow's eyes - reminds me of a dog that I saw once. No one says that 'cause it sounds weird." The Shepherd sits back into his seat, shrugging.

Isabeau tips her chin aside and raises an eyebrow at Malcolm, fingers curling around her own drink as she raises it to her lips, "Did it? That's not such an odd thing, to compare eyes to a dog's. Possibly, my Lord." She, too, puts some emphasis on the honorific, in this situation.

Gloriel tilts her head, the nonplussed look she was sporting earlier returning for a second appearance this evening. She listens to Malcolm speak, and then dedicates a few moments to sort through his words in her head after the fact. Still nothing. However, mindful of present company, she maintains a hallow smile... betrayed by her dull gaze.

Liara polishes off the last of her trifle and then retrieves her tea once more, although as she's sometimes given to at any sort of function, rather than her usual chat, she seems amply content simply to settle in silence and listen to those around, gaze flitting from person to person.

Malcolm turns even more ruddy-cheeked, his mouth pulls into a neutral line, and he inclines his head in a bow. "Milady." With a little extra of that farmer-solider sounding Crownlander drawl that's emphasized from wine-drinking. He sets that glass aside, Pauses, then turns to look at Mark's empty wine glass again. "He did though. Or, he only reminded me of that dog -- the eyes. On that, it's been a REAL PLEASANT evening, all. Your Grace. Duke Bisland. Lady Bisland. Duchess Isabeau, would you like to remain? Going to call it an excellent meal while the going's still good."

Isabeau turns her gaze to Malcolm and wonders, with a sweet smile, "Well, if you're offering to walk me back to the Tower, I'd appreciate that." she answers, with a gracious dip of her head.

"Well, Duke Shepherd. You live an interesting life." Michael's plate of cake and his fork return from where they settled upon the table so he can eat into it. "Good evening, Malcolm. Duchess."

Gloriel inclines her head, offering a courteous nod to both the Duke and Duchess alike, "It has been a pleasure." Exhaling now, Gloriel rests her elbow on the armrest of her chair and leans her weight anew, revoking her voice from the room and murmuring to Michael, "Should we be on our way as well?"

Stirring herself as people appear to be largely on the way out, Liara says, "Thank you all very much for coming. I look forward to seeing you at the next dinner, and indeed hearing some tales. Have a marvellous evening."

"I think we should..." Michael sighs almost wistfully before beginning to speed his way through that cake even as he stands up to begin the proper leaving with Gloriel, the cousin. "Did I miss any important discussion?"

"Not really though. Squire Lump though, he's working on embodying all the virtues of a knight, and - and -- an escort back to the Tower? Oh, aye, milady Isabeau." Malcolm's attention shifts, rising from his seat in order to offer his arm to Isabeau.

Gloriel stands with her childlike cousin, resisting the urge to roll her eyes as a smudge of cake lingers on his chin, "There was a call for assistance regarding exploring some newly discovered ruins." The information provided is, clearly, biased to her own interests.

Isabeau smiles to Liara in answer, dipping her head, "Thank you for being so welcoming, your Grace. I hope you might accept an invitation to the Tower for tea sometime so I can return the hospitality." She begins to raise to her feet, her arm lacing with Malcolm's as she inclines her head in parting to Michael and Gloriel.

Bows to Liara, deepening the gesture to indicate respect, "Thank you for having us, Your Grace. It has been an honor."

Jerome, a bodyguard, Morgana, a proper secretary, 2 Valardin Knights, Elaine, an older courtier leave, following Isabeau.

Isabeau leaves, following Malcolm.

Michael leaves, following Gloriel.

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