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Malespero Soiree

Pasquale hosts an evening of fine wine and conversation at the Malespero estate.

Also his birthday.

The Malespero estate is accessed through the Setarco Commons off Reflection Square in the Ward of the Lyceum.


July 18, 2021, 7:30 p.m.

Hosted By



Lianne Volya Aconite Carissa Ember Cesare Medeia Nebulosa Apollo Grazia Piccola



Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Malespero Tower - Grand Parlor

Largesse Level


Comments and Log

Pasquale moves towards the door as the half hour strikes and his last minute party officially begins. "It is good to see you Medeia." he says as he accepts her hug and gives a backpat in return. "Aconite. I'm so glad you could come." he looks curious as he examines the bag she's given him before saying a "Thank you. They look very warm." He goes to set the bag on an otherwise empty table and moves to greet the next person to come. "Do make yourself comfortable."

Lianne descends from the library with Fajra at her side, both of them in red dresses tonight. The marquessa's is long-sleeved and low-cut, a mix of velvet and lace which offers intermittent glimpses of the body below; it frames her necklace of copper and bone. Her assistant wears something shorter, a dress that might qualify as flirty and certainly suggests she's off-duty tonight as she promptly breaks away to go snag a drink and mingle. Lianne, however, lingers by the stairs, a small smile upon her lips, and contentedly watches the crowd.

Given the right circumstances, and Volya really enjoys get together, so there were a couple reasons he wanted. "I just realized I don't know if we were supposed to bring anything or not and I'm going to feel like a real asshole if I don't and, dang." he pats down himself in some kind self-aware attempt to check if perhaps he did bring something and just simply forgot that he was going to initially, as the moment he enters with Nebulosa with him is when he sees Pasquale set something on a table. "No, I don't think this time. But I'm going to have to keep that in mind for next time."

Aconite dips into a effortless curtsy and smiles. "Lady Carissa, a pleasure to meet you as well. You've heard only interesting stories I hope?" Her eyes drift to follow Medeia and the enthusiastic warmth of her greeting. Aconite's teeth flash in a laughing smile. "A bit cool but nothing a few layers can't handle."

After Medeia's greeting Aconite drops into another curtsey to greet Pasquale, "Lord Malespero, a glorous birthday to you. Thank /you/ for hosting." She lets her gloved fingertips just rest on Medeia's upper arm a moment while also inviting Carissa with a smile. "Shall we go find ourselves something to drink?"

Smiling at Aconite, Carissa laughs a bit. "Of course, of course. Interesting and wonderful, naturally." She smiles. "The selection of wines brought up from the cellars is delightful tonight. Pasquale always chooses well." She smiles to the night's host, before gesturing toward the wines set out with clean glasses nearby.

It may have faded from the cultural memory of the peerage somewhat that there is a Princess of Parties among them. The novelty of sending invitations to said Princess has long since faded, and the Princess of Parties herself has seemed to be in no rush to remind the world of her burden. And yet: here she is, Baroness Ember Redreef. In a brass and wine colored gown, Ember enters the party with the same intensity she brings to bear in every situation, looking like she might as well be here to duel someone.

Cesare drifts in from a cool but pleasant evening which suggests winter's bite hasn't quite made its way this far south just yet - and his outfit is more than suggesting it, it's practically shouting it, all ceruleans, ambers, and honey-golds. He bends into a bow to greet Pasquale. "Lord Pasquale. Happy birthday. I was once told that gifts which take up no space are the best gifts, and it's in that spirit that my gift to you is the offer of a song, mood and subject of your choosing, redeemable this evening or on an occasion of your choosing. Many happy tidings to you, and wishes for a prosperous and joyful year."

"Oh, a drink would be wonderful," Medeia says, falling back beside Aconite and giving Pasquale room to host. As she looks around to take note of who else has arrived, a nod is given to Lianne before another bright smile and enthusiastic greeting passes her lips in Volya's direction. "Voly! Good to see you, as well. How strange I have more family in this room than I've had the last month..." Her smile doesn't falter, even if her words suggest a hint of sadness. She glances back at Carissa, agreeing. "Pasquale has excellent taste."

"I expect nothing." Pasquale tells Volya. "Your company is more than enough." he pats Volya on the shoulder. "And you brought Lady Nebulousa with you." He looks to Nebulosa. "A true pleasure to see you again Nebulosa." Having said hello to them both he drifts over towards Ember "You look rather glorious Ember." and from there to Cesare. "That is true Cesare. You are going to sing for us?"

Catching Medeia's sadness, Carissa tilts her head at her cousin, but beyond that doesn't pry. She smiles brightly, though, and smiles to new arrivals, both those she knows and those she doesn't. Lianne gets a nod of respect; everyone else just the smile. She sips from her glass of Pellerossa and watches the room. Apparently, the Scholar is feeling a bit wallflowerish tonight.

Nebulosa arrives on the Malespero lord's arm, at least proverbially speaking. She's not taken the trouble to slip and squeeze and quite possibly stuff herself into one of those notorious Lycene gowns, but she's at least forsaken her Guard's uniform in favor of sleek trousers, a long leather coat in bright Zaffrai blue, and matching boots. Those flamboyant, voluminous sleeves she favors must be tucked somewhere under all that leather. "Lord Malespero. It's excellent to be invited. I don't think I've been to one of Malespero's infamous soirees before now." A grin is offered to Pasquale, bright and easy. For all the times she's been in the tower, it's true that she's never once slipped into one of their social affairs, or even intruded on their dining hall.

Siri, an attentive apprentice, Paris, a charming mercenary arrive, following Apollo.

"Well, that's probably for the best, honestly. Having low expectations of me is something I would highly suggest, right?" Volya gives a wink. "If you set the bar low enough, you're never disappointed, eh?" He glances aside to Nebula. "See, here's the thing. I'm a hot mess. Nebula is the exact opposite of that. So the way I see it? If I'm with her, her presence by default lifts me up to where I'm less of a hot mess. Presentable, even. Besides, the wedding was just announced, so I think it'd be pretty odd if she *wasn't* here, yeah?" A flick of the fingers in a wave is returned to Medeia. "Meddie. Been a minute since I last saw you. And...yeah, good point. Hadn't thought of that. Rebecca isn't here, but I wouldn't say that's a terrible thing or anything." That particular sibling rivalry is far from dead.

Ember doesn't smile at Pasquale's praise. However, she does dip herself into a deep curtsy. "And you look very slightly older, Lord Pasquale," she says, as she rises. "In a dignified and fitting manner, of course." She says it so deadpan that it's pretty much impossible to tell if she's being sarcastic or not. Others around the Bloody Baroness get moments of eye contact, nods, and so on -- she's much more sword-arm than glad-hand.

"Certainly, if you like," Cesare agrees, with a slip of a smile. "There's an abundance of good taste in the room tonight, so where better, really? It would be my honor and my pleasure." He lifts a hand in greeting to Aconite, to Medeia upon spotting his patron, and then turns a greeting toward Lianne as well where she stands by the stairs. He adds a last aside - "Only say when you'd like me to," to Pasquale, before gliding over to greet Medeia.

Lianne, from her post by the stairs, returns the nods angled her way, each greeting paired with a warm smile. Carissa's might be a bit brighter, a note of delight to see the redhead away from her studies tonight. Her attention lingers a moment on Cesare, brows arching just the barest bit; maybe she, too, is curious as to whether he'll be singing this evening or not. Volya and Nebulosa, too, get a longer consideration; this may be the first time she's seen the newly betrothed couple together.

Gia the peregrine falcon, 3 Rubino and Zaffria guards, 2 Armed Confessors, Rary the Lycene beauty arrive, following Grazia.

Aconite nods to Carissa. "I've no doubt about Lord Malepero's taste. Though as long as there's a nice rice red I rarely complain." The inky-eyed Courtier smiles as she looks around the room. Lifting red-swathed fingers to greet Cesare. Lianne is also given a wide smile and quick curtsy though finding wine appears to be the priority. She asides to Medeia. "You're right. It's compelling, this guest list might top the Embassy's opening. Though only in my estimation."

"Mm," Medeia gives Volya a brief agreement. "Considering the sorts that have recently been trying to kill me?" She leaves that hanging, but it is abundantly clear she's not heartbroken over Rebecca's absence, either. In an attempt to put that behind her, she perks and looks at Nebulosa with curiosity. "Lady Medeia Eswynd, cousin of that one," A tilt of her head to Volya, "And that one," Another tip toward Carissa. "A pleasure to meet you." When she spots Cesare, she lifts a hand to greet and beckon, warmth in her expression. "Dearest Cesare, you brighten every room you enter."

Pasquale gives a low chuckle when Volya calls himself a hot mess and then again at Ember's response. When Cesare speaks he gestures towards a convenient space "Why not find a space and start now Cesare? As for the theme." he contemplates it for a moment. "I am rather fond of tragic melodies but I think that would be rather unsuited to us all tonight. Pick something beautiful?" As for the wine. There is plenty of it, as well as other varieties of drink, around. Lenosian red, Nilanzan red, Granato pink and saikland white.

Apollo, slightly behind this evening, slips down from the library, tucking hands in his pockets as he descends. Lianne, at her post by the stairs, gets the first greeting - a hand on her arm, a close lean, a murmur. He straightens just after, and peers at those assembled, picking out familiar faces. Which is... all, save one. There's one more murmur of query.

Curtseying to Nebulosa, Carissa smiles. "A pleasure to finally meet you." And she smiles wryly to Volya. "Dear soon-to-be unaffliated," she teases him, "I don't know if anyone can make you less messy." A bright smile before Carissa swirls away, dressed in a bright leaf green dress.

Cesare's demurring to Medeia, "Some nights more literally than others," doubtless in reference to his outfit, and bending to offer a polite embrace, when he hears Pasquale's request. "Well. Excuse me for a moment, then, my lady, my gift has been requested." He swings his lute around from where it's strapped to his back, and fiddle with the tuning pegs. "Tragic and beautiful aren't mutually exclusive, you know. I can manage both."

"He's lying," Nebulosa declares, then pauses, looking up at her escort to consider her own declaration. "Or ignorant. I'd say ignorant. The only reason he doesn't suspect me to secretly be a mess is because I've never let him see my suite before my maid's been in to see to it for the day. The place could be covered in mud, papers, and clothes on a daily basis, for all he knows." But all trace of her humor fades at the mention of attacks on Medeia's life. Her face crinkles up with curiosity, a question about to spring from her lips, when she remembers her manners. Introductions to the woman, and to Carissa, before interrogations ought to be the order of the day. "I hadn't realized that Lord Volya had much family outside of Nilanza, my lady. A pleasure to meet you both. Nebulosa Zaffria, utterly unrelated to everyone here. I think."

Curtseying to Nebulosa, Carissa smiles again before what Medeia said filtered through her brain. She turns to look at her cousin, brown eyes wide like dinnerplates. "I... hadn't heard," is all she says to Deia, but it's a shocked tone that she uses for such.

Grazia does not look as if she is altogether the most relaxed at parties. Her posture is rigid, confident and perfect, and her whiskey-hued eyes scan the room for people she knows, far more serious than one should be for a fun gathering. The lack of smile on her lips makes her seem perhaps a bit foreboding, cold and unapproachable.

Aco has found a glass of wine, which she holds delicately while she watches Medeia greet her family members and she dips in a quick genuflection to the nobility. Though a flash of concern and a long look is given to the Lady Eswynd, the velvet-clad Whisper seems happy to listen to the conversation without adding anything to it. Drowning a chuckle at Cesare with a drink of wine. "Me either." She echoes after Carissa.

Lianne's head turns and tilts toward Apollo and his quiet questions, a sidelong look turned his way in silent consideration of his form, his attire. Her verdant attention returns to the crowd, to the musician moving through it to tune his lute, onward to Volya and Nebulosa as she nods, as she provides her low replies, a pleasant smile playing on her lips.

"Isn't danger the spice of life?" Volya pauses for a moment. "Or was that variety? Either way, I'd do what I do and stay alive simply out of spite. So, you're already ahead." He does give a far more dramatic bow to Carissa. "Ah, now there's the welcome I was expecting, I"m going to use that title, I promise. But Nebula is right. She doesn't let me see what her room looks like before it's been cleaned. I have ideas on what it might look like before, but reality never lives up to it. I like to think it's a lot more...colorful." Who is then given a mildly hurt expression. "Oh, no. Don't ask them if we're related, they'll deny it up and down. Except for Medeia. I have no idea why she wants to acknowledge that kind of relation, but she's free to do as she likes."

Pasquale says "The two are much the same." to Cesare. "But I still think that something a little less tragic will better suit the intended mood tonight. I leave the choice to you though." He goes over to greet Grazia then. "Duchess. It is truly wonderful to see you here tonight."

Once a glass of Saikland white (because she has favorites, as a Saik-by-birth) is in hand, Medeia waves the other somewhat dismissively. "Isles traditionalists. They try to kill what scares them, I'll take it as a compliment." She looks between Volya and Nebulosa quickly. "Keep him on his toes, hm?" That to the lady. Of course Cesare was given leave without fuss - she wants to hear his song as much as anyone. Another scan of the room has her giving a wave to Ember and Apollo before murmuring softly to Aconitr about finding a place to settle and moving toward something softly cushioned with back support.

Smiling toward Apollo, Carissa inclines her head to the Marquis of the Tower, before smiling again at Lianne and then moving to stand with Pasquale and Grazia. "Hello," she greets, curtseying. "I'm Lady Carissa Malespero. It's nice to meet you." She has no idea who the Duchess is, but she's happy to make friends! Sipping from her wine, she says to Pasquale, "You have quite the fantastic turnout, Pasquale."

"Considering that you're related?," Nebulosa retorts, a spark lighting her hazel eyes at Medeia's answer. "Spite. I assume she acknowledges it out of spite. Now the important question is 'of whom'? I'll assume that one is also answered with 'Isles traditionalists'." Anything else she might say, though, is interrupted by the arrival of Grazia. The Duchess is offered a bow of greeting, the flourish made slightly less impressive by the lack of 'billow' one can acheive with leather sleeves. Ahh, well.

"Lord Pasquale, a very happy birthday to you," Grazia offers to the man who greets her, then looks to the redhead who's just addressed her, considering Carissa with her head tilted slightly like a bird's for a moment before straightening it once more. "A pleasure to meet you, Lady Carissa. I am Grazia Rubino, Duchess of Gemecitta."

Medeia grins at Nebulosa, then at Volya. "I like her. She's smart." Is that a comment on her cousin? Likely not. "Duchess Grazia... It's been too long. Good to see you." A flicker of something heavy flashes in the lady's eyes, but she doesn't speak on it. Instead offering, "I still need to convince you that Saikland produces wines you like. I haven't forgotten."

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Duchess." Carissa curtseys deeper this time. Then she glances to Volya. "Are you causing trouble again?" She calls to him, eyes bright with delight. Parties are very hit or miss for Carissa, but sometimes she can be convinced that it's fun to be at one!

"Thank you." Pasquale answers Grazia sincerely before offering a smile to Carissa. "I am quite happy." he gestures towards the couches. "Shall we settle down? I do believe Cesare is going to sing something for us." He looks up and offers a smile to Lianne and Apollo.

Apollo gives a nod of acknowledgement to Lianne, eyes turning on her at the end of some murmured remarks. "Shall we find somewhere to sit and listen?" There's an offer of an arm, and he amends: "Perhaps there will be dancing again." He lifts a hand at Medeia and Carissa, offering a smile for them as well. "You and Fajra both of a mind to wear red tonight, mm?" he comments to Lianne, sidelong.

Carissa nods to Pasquale and moves to sit nearby, in a comfortable seat.

Aconite chuckles quietly at Nebulosa's words before Medeia's suggesting they find a place to settle. "Fine idea, Lady Eswynd. I'd love to focus on Cesare's performance." Aconite smiles to the Duchess. "Their liquors are better than their wines." She counters Medeia warmly.

"Oh. She does." Volya says with a small faux sigh to Media, then tilting his head towards Nebula. "Constantly. But if I didn't secretly like that, I wouldn't of signed up for it. Oh and yes, she is much smarter than me." But in a moment lapse of seriousness, he shrugs. "That's usually the case with these kind of things. Little men and their little fears. I can't say that my cousin is neither threatened by nor impressed. So I approve of whatever it is that she might be doing in regards to it. That more honest tune vanishes in regards to Carissa, his lopsided grin returning. "Me? Nah. I don't do those kind of things. Who do you think I am? Thea Wyvernheart? Anything I would do would just be a pale imitation of what she's capable of."

"I suppose I could have a taste of your Saikland wine," Grazia replies to Medeia, fixing her with that penetrating gaze for a moment, and perhaps there's the hint of a resigned sigh at that idea. She moves to follow Pasquale, once she's nodded to Nebulosa to acknowledge her bow.

Lianne regards the arm Apollo offers as if there might yet be some negotiating to do before she accepts, the barest hint of impishness tugging at the corner of her lips. She makes no counter-offer, though, before slipping her hand under and over, settling in close to her marquis in implied agreement with his suggestion. "I believe at least one of us was hoping there'd be dancing tonight." Given how Fajra's searching the crowd, it might be her.

Pasquale steers the Duchess and his 'sister' over towards a cluster of chairs near the fireplace. "There can be dancing if you wish it."

Pasquale has joined the a cozy stone fireplace.

Carissa has joined the a cozy stone fireplace.

At the mention of Thea Wyvernheart, Nebula unexpectedly chokes back a laugh. And inexplicably, too, as it seems she's not especially inclined to comment on what it is that she finds so very funny. "You shouldn't take it personally, Lady Eswynd," she says to Medeia. "I assure you that Duchess Rubino disapproves of almost everything as a matter of general principle. As Lord Volya said, it's much harder to be disappointed when your expectations are low. Very, very low." Is she daring to tease the imposing figure that is Grazia? Quite likely. "The corollary to that is knowing that you can trust anything she *does* approve of, given that her standards are very, very high."

Cesare doesn't make much of a fuss as he finishes tuning his strings. One might get the impression that he doesn't particularly care if he's actually paid attention to or not - or maybe it's more that he knows he'll be paid attention once he starts singing. Either way, the lute itself, once he starts playing, is certainly attention-drawing enough, though it's soft, a miasma of chords that come all on top of each other, like waves crashing on a beach, in a hurry to rush each other to the shore. Not a summer storm, but a gentle autumn evening, perhaps, almost hypnotic. It is always his voice that's the real draw, though. The second he starts singing, it has the ability to penetrate a crowd, rise above the din of a room regardless of how many people speak. The song is probably for a woman's voice, originally, or a counter-tenor, but Cesare's range carries it easily, pure and piercing as a pale gold clover honey.

Deep waters,
Dark skies;
Beneath a waning moon,
The petrel cries.
She saw you leave,
Heard your goodbye;
She knows you'll long be gone.

Seasons pass,
And years go by,
Time spins its tapestry
Between you and I
That shorebird casts
A lonely eye -
She knows I heard her song.

White waters,
Pale skies;
Winter's kiss comes quickly now.
That sea bird sees me
Walk the shore alone;
Alone she knows I'll be;
She knows you'll long be gone.

That last line - drawn out long, almost the (considerable) full length of a breath, the note low and yearning, before Cesare finishes with a flourish and blinks like he's completely forgotten what he was doing.

With that said, Volya looks between Grazia and Nebulosa, a finger flicking between the two them. "So," he starts, his Islander accent lingering as that one-constanant word is drug out. "Why is she letting us get married again? Did you describe some other man and just put my name? Because, I won't be mad if you did. Fact is, I'd say, well played."

Pasquale gets Torean sheepskin riding gloves with a silver button from scribe's leather satchel.

Pasquale gets A little handwritten note on cream card that reads For Lord Pasquale Malespero from scribe's leather satchel.

Pasquale puts A little handwritten note on cream card that reads For Lord Pasquale Malespero in scribe's leather satchel.

Medeia laughs once she's settled. "Oh, no, not here. I couldn't bear the humiliation if she spat it out in disgust in front of everyone." Her eyes sparkle with humor as she glances at Grazia then Nebulosa. "I'll have a few bottles sent along that you can try in peace, Duchess. Dress me down in a letter, if you please." But then she's quieting for Cesare, giving her protege her full attention. It may even seem she's holding her breath as he sings. And though he deserves it, she doesn't offer applause - just a silently communicated appreciation and gratitude between them.

Pasquale has only just settled on the couch and claimed himself a glass of Nilanzan red when Cesare starts to sing. He listens to the entire song and then offers some polite applause. "A lovely choice Cesare. Thank you." He pauses for a moment, says "Excuse me." to those at the fireplace with him and then goes over to ask Cesare a quiet question.

Apollo drifts along to find a seat - just in the nick of time, settling by the fireplace as Cesare starts to sing. Just before the song, he murmurs sidelong to Lianne, "I don't expect Paris will be long, then. And - that's at /least/ two of us." He eyes her red dress a moment, the corner of his mouth curling. "I /hope/ more." But he quiets, and listens to the song, sat there. And when it's done, he sighs; it's a song that might beg a sigh, though he also gives a lift of his chin at the singer, a murmur: "Lovely," and a nod.

"A Rubino plot to finally assure the downfall of their ancient rivals, would be my guess. So really, it would work out for almost everyone if you managed to keep up your streak of being incredibly disappointing," the words are offered in a whisper so as not to interrupt Cesare's lovely song, but enough of a stage whisper to ensure they're perfectly audible to both their recipient and anyone lingering nearby. Gods help the man, Nebula looks awfully, awfully smug as she says that. But she does tuck her hand into the crook of Volya's unoffered arm, so there's fairly good odds her teasing is exactly that - teasing.

For a long moment, Grazia simply stares at Volya. After, of course, seating herself and arranging her gown just so. Even seated, she doesn't relax. "It is to the benefit of Gemecitta to have an alliance with Nilanza," she tells him. "Technically, I only acted as Duchess Dafne's Voice in the matter, as I do not make decisions for House Zaffria ordinarily. As Lady Nebulosa notes: low expectations mean you have much time to exceed them." This gets him just the flicker of a smile.

The Duchess Rubino looks to Medeia, then, and quirks one perfectly manicured brow at her. "I dare you," she says simply.

Carissa smiles as the song ends, and applauds politely after. "That was lovely." But she doesn't speak more, having had to find the will to speak after such beauty graced her ears.

Apollo has joined the a cozy stone fireplace.

Lianne has joined the a cozy stone fireplace.

Aconite has just found a plce to seat herself nearby Lord Medeia when Cesare begins his song. As the Whisper sings Aconite's eyes close for a bit so she can focus herself on that song. St it's end she drains her glass and smiles to Medeia. The Whisper swipes her lipstick stain off the glass and sets it aside as she looks up to the Duchess.

Having returned to the present moment, Cesare sets the lute aside somewhere he probably won't forget it, and offers a wry smile to nobody in particular. "Not /too/ sad, I hope," he murmurs, and slips off to the side, returning to Medeia to continue their conversation.

"It was beautiful Cesare." Pasquale says "Thank you."

"Ooohohoh." Volya chuckles, though it's muted out of respect to Ceasar's song. "Wonderful, another name to long list of men and women I've disappointed, in some fashion or another. But, in regards of everyone involved, I shall endeavor to keep doing what I've been done. To be adequately milquetoast." Whether or not he actually believes all of his jokes, he does still take the hand when she slips it into the crook of his arm, setting one of his atop of it. "You are as always, far too kind, Nebula."

Lianne keeps her hand about Apollo's arm as they settle near the warmth of the hearth. She angles a low-lashed look his way for that spoken hope, chin lifted in playful challenge. "I'm counting at least three," but she leaves it to him to guess at what she knows and what she doesn't. Her smile dims a touch as she listens, not for lack of appreciation, but perhaps to suit the mood, a hint of wistfulness coloring her expression. "Reminds me of the stories I enjoyed as a girl." Her attention lingers on Cesare for a moment, but when he moves, she looks away, toward the fire, lost in thought.

Ember watches Cesare's song from a bit of a distance -- she's only just gotten herself a drink, and so she stands by the supply for the duration of the song. It makes refilling her drink during the song awfully convenient -- the Baroness of Redreef Shores helps herself to more than one full glass of wine during the song's duration. When it ends, she joins in the applause, and then wanders in the general direction of Apollo. "I had the occasion to open the bottle of 'Bloodrage' that you gifted to me, Marquis Apollo," she says. "Both myself and Princess Natasha were quite impressed. Well chosen."

A trio of musicians file in and start setting up in a corner of the room. Shortly after they begin to play tunes that are suitable both for general listening and dancing.

Pasquale asks Ember "Bloodrage? What is that."

"Generosity of spirit is in my nature," Nebula replies, nodding with decisive agreement. The woman is absolutely terrible at keeping a straight face, at least when she thinks she's being witty. "I'm also very clever. And pretty. You should thank the Marquessa. Maybe even Limerance." Poor Volya. But, ahhh, well. She amuses herself, at least, and that's what really counts, isn't it?

There are few things that someone can say to Medeia that make a thrill run through her. 'I dare you,' is practically at the top of the list. Her eyes light up and a slow, feline grin spreads across her face as she looks at Grazia. "Oh, Duchess..." One hand lifts to her chest. "Marquessa Lianne? Do you still have that bottle of Pellerossa I sent you? Or Violamara? I promise to replace it." She glances up at Cesare and says something quietly once he's close.

Apollo, wearing a sort of wistful look that utterly becomes the song just sung, glances aside at Lianne, watches the firelight on her face a moment. "Watching the birds swoop past the cliffs?" he wonders, the smile offered on the heels of that question not erasing the shape already there. He glances up at Ember when she nears, gives a dip of his head. "Baroness Ember. Glad to see you and gladder yet you enjoyed the gift." A curl of the corner of his mouth and a dip of his head, and he adds: "And that you enjoyed with her highness, a particular pleasure. I'm very fond of her." He glances at Pasquale, says, "A whiskey I found. First stumbled on my first few months here in the city, if you can believe." A nod follows. "Happy birthday."

Lianne has left the a cozy stone fireplace.

Fajra leaves, following Lianne.

Fajra arrives, following Lianne.

Lianne has joined the a cozy stone fireplace.

Cesare settles next to Medeia, inclining his head toward her as she speaks, and offering a little smile at what she says. and offers a soft aside in return. "Duchess Grazia, it's lovely to see you," he greets the issuer of wine-related challenges. "I hope the autumn's been treating you well so far. And Aconite, how have you been? Any travels lately?"

"You're a couple of those things, yeah." But Volya doesn't deign to say which two he's referring to. Which is likely intentional. No, completely intentional. "An attempt will be made to try and at least be adequate for the Duchess here. This is all in preparation to before I actually get around to meeting Dafne." There is one particular part that he makes a frustrated sound. "Oh, I'll give Limerance credit on our wedding day. And yes, I'll say something to the Marquessa as well. In time and not here, as I have no desire to talk about actual feelings in public. Who does that."

Aconite's brows llift with amusement at Medeia accepting the challenge before she murmurs to Medeia and stands. "Just fine, Cesare. Busy, busy as usual I'm afraid. I'm always overjoyed to witness one of your performances. Thank you." With another smile and quick curtsey to Pasquale the Whisper's on her way out, Alejandro only a step behind.

Briar, the fleet and agile shrike, Alejandro, a gravely sober middle-aged Torean leave, following Aconite.

Leaving it to Medeia to figure out the wine situation, Grazia turns her attention to Cesare. "And you, Whisper," she says to him with a small nod. "I have sent some wine along to Whisper House recently. I shall have to find out at some point how it was received. Autumn is pleasant, but sometimes the nights are quite cold."

"And all the forlorn lovers looking out over the sea, waiting for a return that may never come," Lianne answers Apollo with a warm smile, appreciative of his understanding. It looks, for a moment, as if she might add something more, but Medeia addresses her directly, tugging her attention that way. "Oh, of course, Lady Medeia. If there's not a bottle already out, I'll have someone bring one up." Her smile flares bright, a proper pairing for the curiosity in her eyes. That open attention turns, then, to Ember as she approaches, toward Pasquale who gers a warm smile before her focus settles nowhere in particular that she might simply listen.

One of the staff, attentive and efficient as they are, appears by Medeia with a bottle of Pellerossa. "Yes, perfect, a glass for the duchess, please." She bids farewell to Aconite and then turns to not-too-nervously watch Grazia's reception of the wine.

Pasquale casts a brief smile over at both Apollo and Lianne, perhaps because of the happy birthday, perhaps because Lianne smiled at him first. He moves over to place a kiss on Lianne's cheek and tells them both "I appreciate you both being here." before moving back towards the wine table for a refill. "I thought you all wanted to dance."

"Poets. And bards. And the lovesick," she advises him, inclining her head towards Cesare in reference to that lovely song of his. "But all talk of inconveniences like emotion aside....," Nebula's words trail off. Whatever else it is she's said is spoken in a whisper. Banter, it seems, can be shared with an audience. Any serious subject she might have to discuss is meant only for Volya to hear.

Ember nods toward Pasquale to confirm Apollo's explanation of Bloodrage -- the perfect whiskey for a Bloody Baroness. "I will keep secret from Her Highness your praise, Marquis Apollo. We both know how prone she is toward emotional displays over such matters." Ember is almost certainly joking. And yet, she offers no wink to confirm it, not even a bounce of her eyebrows.

Carissa finishes her glass of wine, smiles, and stands. "Happy birthday, dear Pasquale." She pats his arm instead of a hug, and moves to hand her glass to an idle servant. "Thank you for the party, impromptu or not." She smiles around, specifically at Lianne, Medeia, and Apollo, before curtseying deeply. "A pleasure meeting new to me faces. Please take care." And the redhead leaves the party, looking vaguely exhauseted.

Carissa has left the a cozy stone fireplace.

Stefano, a studious man, 1 Malespero Guard leave, following Carissa.

Of course, the event is well-underway by the time General Piccola finds her way to it.

And, as is her way, she tries to enter as inconspicuously as possible. Instead of her usual 'i am goth' black attire, she has managed to add to it a lively, reptilian-green jerkin, which seems to suit her just fine. She's more dressed for a military operation than a festive event, but no one's perfect. Besides, she'd probably look very ridiculous in some fetching, skin-tight dress, while still wielding a full arsenal of destruction about her belt.

She makes her way quietly towards where Pasquale is, perhaps to deliver a gift.

Pasquale hands Piccola a glass of Nilanzan red when she approaches him. "I hope you are thirsty Piccola."

"Oh?" Cesare asks of Grazia, eyebrows raised in obvious interest. "I'll have to see about those. I'm always looking for more additions to my growing collection, and you have excellent taste." He smiles across the fireplace at Lianne and Apollo. "I quite enjoy the Saik reds, myself. But I'm sure I don't have nearly such an equisitely tuned palette." He offers to Medeia, "I've been decorating my suite. You'll see me about the sanctuary quite a bit, whenever you're there, these next few weeks."

Piccola's eyebrows rise for a moment.

She then sighs. "I am not drinking at this time, but I am thirsty." For a moment, she looks mournful. Has someone //made// her not drink alcohol? "But, I came to bring a gift to you." And, so, she hands over what looks to be a flask of something with a crest on it. "Something simple, but I liked the look of it. It would be of little use to me now." Shrug. "So, I thought you could use it, my friend."

"I searched the city for a proper riding bow, but found none."

Lianne answers that affection from Pasquale with a touch of her hand to his arm, a mark of gratitude. Ember's observation about Natasha earns a quiet huff of laughter that seems only to resummon her wistfulness. It leaves a hint of ache in her smile when she catches the look from Cesare, muted curiosity in her regard. She isn't keeping a good bead on conversation this evening. Neither does she linger for explanation, instead turning an arched brow toward Apollo at Pasquale's insistence on dancing.

After a short round of quiet conversation with Nebulosa, Volya guides the both of them over towards Lianne. "Evening Lianne, got held up for a bit, but just wanted to say hello, how you doing, all those other things we say at family gatherings." A grin is offered, while then gesturing to Nebula. "But I did want to introduce you to my fiance and likely the only person in this city is willing to put up with me for the rest of her days, never mind the next ten minutes, Lady Nebulosa Zaffria." A looks to his to-be wife. "Nebula, this is the woman that took pity on me for some reason a few years ago when she found me cutting down hay in a field and decided to drag me back to Nilanza, Marquessa Lianne Malespero. I've been wanting the two of you to meet for some time, but seems like time hasn't been the best in regards to meetings."

When Piccola arrives, Ember seems to stiffen up a bit. Apollo is spared more of her alleged wit -- the Baroness finishes off her glass of wine seemingly just so she can say: "Excuse me, Marquis, my glass seems to be empty."

"Whyever would I want to prevent a show of emotion?" Apollo wonders at Ember, offering a smile that suggests he really couldn't fathom such a thing. There's a glance at Nebulosa, like he heard her call them an ~inconvenience~, and perhaps the comment were partially for her as well. He turns to look at Lianne, thoughtful. "I don't think I ever heard a song quite like that growing up," he says. "Come to the city, more of the tragic tales and songs. Most of the ones back home were foreboding bits about the woods." He gives Cesare an equal smile from where he sits - and then returns attention; there is suddenly dancing, potentially, a refill, wanted, an introduction in his orbit. Well, in opposite order, then. "Lady Nebulosa," he says, with a dip of his head. "Very nice to meet you, and congratulations on your betrothal." A smile, for Volya, and he adds: "That goes for you as well." He lays a hand on Lianne's arm, leans in. "Let me select something suited to the Baroness' tastes, and I'd love to dance with you, my darling." And he slips up, takes Ember's glass, so he can do the first half of that plan, dancing soon to follow.

"We'll get some tea brought up then." Pasquale takes a few moments to admire the flask before offering a small smile. "Thank you. This was terribly thoughtful and perhaps more useful than that bow. I'm starting to think that horsemanship is a little over ambitious anyway." He looks to where Volya is and chuckles a little. "Nonsense Volya. She's the lucky one."

When the servant arrives with the wine, to present it to the duchess, to open it and to pour it, to sample it in the proper Lycene way, Grazia considers it all very analytically, and while she doesn't smile, she doesn't frown, either. She is the picture of neutral judgment. She breathes in the bouquet of the wine, and her mouth twitches slightly, and then she finally takes a sip in a careful sort of way, letting the liquid sit in her mouth for a moment. She touches her tongue to her lips for a moment, then considers Medeia quite sternly. "It does not seem to know what it wishes to be. Should it be sweet? Should it be dry? Should it be fruity? Should it be smoky?" she decides thoughtfully. "Yet it is fine. The color is good, but being pretty and having substance are two very different things. With a bit of refinement and tuning, I believe it may have the potential to be excellent. I will expect a bottle in a decade, Lady Medeia, and I will expect an incredible wine at that time.

Medeia doesn't seem conscious of the fact that her hand has reached out and grasped Cesare's forearm as she awaits Grazia's verdict. She doesn't even notice Piccola arrive, or Klavdiya approaching with a message for her. At least the Prodigal woman has the sense to not interrupt whatever it is that she's just walked in on. The lady releases her protege's arm, deflating slightly but maintaining a smile. "The vintners might stage an uprising if I change that particular heirloom recipe, Duchess, but there is liable to be another that would be more pleasing." She looks up at Klavdiya, takes the note, skims it, and sighs. "And with that? I must return to Eswyndol." She gives Cesare a kiss on the cheek before saying more general good byes and slipping away.

2 Eswynd shieldbearers, Loryk, a cocky but amiable reaver, Klavdiya, who is definitely a handmaiden and not a reaver leave, following Medeia.

"Marquessa," Nebulosa offers, again with that same - or nearly the same - flamboyant bow that she had offered the Duchess of her own Gemecitta. And again, there's no billowing, much to her chagrin. No, no, the leather of her coat isn't quite thin enough to allow that. Pity. "Marquis. A pleasure that's been too long denied. I wanted to thank you for your generosity with Zaffria, and with my future. I may be sworn to Gemecitta, but if there's ever a service I might render Nilanza, please let me know. Lord Malespero's quite right." There's a split second just there where she nods to Pasquale. "Lord Pasquale, that is. I am fortunate."

"What can we be other than ambitious in times of peace, my friend?"

If the General's noticed anyone's mood changing about her, she doesn't let on. But the Smallest of Snakes' attention does wander to Ember, to whom she gives a slow, graceful nod and a serpentine stare. "And I thank you for the tea. I'm always in the mood for a surprise." Piccola draws in a breath, and then looks around the room once before returning to gaze at Ember.

Just gaze, for now.

Cesare lets out a soft chuckle despite himself at Grazia's assessment. "We all only strive to be both pretty and substantial, my lady," he offers. "You should host a wine tasting sometime. A palate so fine deserves to be celebrated. Maybe we can even tempt you out to Lady Medeia's next tasting? I think it's a digestif they've distilled. Do you dance? Could I tempt you to anything so frivolous? Would you like to?"

Lianne rises as Apollo does, standing at her husband's side long enough to note to Nebulosa, "My marquis," with a hint of humor before he dashes off for pre-dancing drinks. Her smile is warm and wide for the couple, even as her dark brows loft high in challenge to Volya's words. "He mistakes my appreciation for potential as pity. I'm glad to know someone else sees it, and I am genuinely delighted to make your acquaintance, Lady Nebulosa. We might have cause for your services, if the offer is sincere." A question, but only barely. A conversation for later, certainly. "Know that you'll be welcome here as family and there will always be a room for both of you back in Nilanza, whenever you'd care to visit." Turning that smile to Volya, she answers, "Hello, I'm fine, and I'm finding the fall weather not nearly so bitter as I once did," with an impish glint in her eyes. "I do like seeing you in high spirits."

Ember returns Piccola's gaze. The tense mask of the Baroness's features gives away nothing about her inner state, but she's so distracted by making eye contact with the Tessere woman that she's barely taken a half-step toward the wine selection when Apollo stands and takes her glass right out of her hand. For a moment, Ember is left visibly surprised by the former Whisper's unfailing etiquette and charm. "Wh--" She regains her composure quickly, but the damage is done, and she looks back over at Piccola, like she's not sure whether to follow Apollo or remain in place and continue staring.

Pasquale casually steps inbetween the glare-rays being shared between Ember and Piccola, breaking their line of sight. Amazingly he doesn't combust. "A dance perhaps?" he suggests to Piccola.

Apollo's song and dance with the wines was certainly no quest for /the best/. No, he's after what /suits/, see, and it's a speedy survey he does, plucking a bottle he's confident in, pouring, and drifting back to press it into her hand, whether that's all the way back to where he was, or if she's followed him some part of the ways. A brief murmur, warmth in his eyes, is suggestive of warm wishes, a hope she'll enjoy it, a touch to the arm as it's passed off, of familiarity. And then he steps on, hands slipping into pockets until he nears his wife. "My love," he says, offering a hand. "Would you dance with me?"

Volya's grin is warm, nodding. "Thank you, Apollo, I appreciate it." He does step aside slight, allowing Nebula and Lianne to converse. "I make a lot of mistakes, but I will say that Nebula is one of the few that isn't one." And that's probably going to be the most honest thing he's said all night. "Thank you for the invitation. I'm sure when I get tired of this city, and there are days where I am, that I'll have a desire for the ocean again. So long as my sister doesn't know I'm there."

It's not like Piccola is giving Ember a DBZ-type stare.

But it's hard not to notice the stare. For a few moments, the General looks right through Pasquale. "I'm afraid, my Lord, that I am neither skilled nor inclined to dance with you." Her eyes 'revert' back to something cool, but relaxed. "And forgive my momentary forgetting of myself and where I am; I am sometimes mesmerized to a fugue when certain memories come to me." She side-steps from the Malespero Lord. "Would you excuse me for a moment?" Her lips press into a thin, wide smile.

"There's someone I haven't seen in a long time."

"As a member of the Guard, the Champions, or simply a vaguely competent swordswoman, Marquessa, my offer of services to Nilanza are quite sincere," Nebulosa replies. For a moment, her words thicken, but the change is subtle enough that it wouldn't be noticeable at all, if not for the accompanying furrow of her brows. Whatever else she may have said she pauses, keeping it back as Apollo returns to claim his wife for the requested dance. "But please," she says to Lianne, "don't let me keep you from your own nuptial bliss. It would likely be the very worst first impression a would-be bride could possibly make."

Leila, the sullen Suspire arrives, delivering a message to Piccola before departing.

Pasquale gives Piccola a nod after a moment and then returns to the seats by the fireplace. "I have no doubt we will find things for you to do Nebulosa." he looks to Volya as well. "Both of you."

Lianne assures Volya, "I'll find something to keep her busy, mm?" of his sister, should he care to visit the march while she's there, her smile slyly cospiratorial. Her expression slips toward more comfortable warmth as Apollo approaches again, but she addresses the couple first, a bow of her head to both Volya and Nebulosa, the latter addressed as she murmurs, "We'll find time for a proper meeting, I'm sure." But, for now, she turns to her husband, draws up a little straighter, chin lifting as she sets her hand in his, and answers, "Until the last song is sung and the Dream falls quiet."

Ember exchanges some murmured words with Apollo before he moves to go dance -- well, more like Apollo murmurs some words, and Ember murmurs back, like, maybe /a/ word and possibly a grunt or something. Either way, the Setarco Serpentine Red now in her hand is immediately brought to her lips afterward, and the Islander noblewoman drinks quite refined wine in a rather unrefined way. She doesn't chug it, at least. But there's not much more dignity in taking, say, 'a belt of wine.'

Volya whistles, perhaps in surprise at Pasquale and maybe even wincing a little. "Daaaaaaaamn." Or as one might say 'big oof'. "Don't worry, man. I've been shot down just as hard too in the past. You honestly get used to it after awhile."

Pasquale lifts his wine again before casting an almost amused glance to Volya "And here I thought everyone was just going to politely pretend it never happened. You do know that you are going to have to tell me the story now?"

At least Piccola's polite about refusals.

Still, she is a woman of her word. Undeterred, she starts to walk towards Ember, to stop before her and to give her an elegant bow. "My lady." The pinching about the General's eyes matches the mischievous gleam in them. "It is good to see you. I have heard of your exploits and successes. Congratulations to you and your House." Beat. "And for surviving." Beat. "I seem to recall, however, that we had made a promise to one another about that."

"Do you recall, my lady?" asks the Littlest Snake, with just a little sweetness.

Both of Nebulosa's brows arch at Pasquale's question. Hazel eyes flit between him and Volya, unsure of what it is, exactly, that's being left unspoken. "Would now be the time to suddenly and subtly rescue you from this conversation with an introduction to Duchess Rubino?," she offers, oh-so-helpfully and without about as much subtlety as, well, announcing her scheme outloud in front of the target. "Or have the two of you already met?," she presses Volya.

"Of course," Apollo tells Volya. And to Nebulosa, he offers a head-canted smile. "Come dance, too, the pair of you - no time like the present to practice for your own wedding. And he turns back to Lianne, her hand slipping into his. And perhaps he's is in a particularly sentimental mood, even if the party is pleasant (save for the part where a couple of people might want to murder each other, but it's... a Lycene party so...), but the answer brings a sheen to his eyes. And he leads to the open area for dancing, where he pulls Lianne close, a hand set to the small of her back. Not a sad tune, but not something fast or relentless; it's got a deep rise and fall in it, suggesting certain steps that aren't showy, but perfect for dancing together.

"You may leave me to go dance like proper revelers," Grazia suggests to Nebulosa and Volya very mildly, still holding her glass of wine. She has not thrown it or poured it out; she is drinking it, albeit not quickly.

"Who, me? Polite?" Volya scoffs lazily towards Pasquale. "Have you even met me? Nah nah nah," he waves his hand, starting on over towards Pasquale. "So, how it happened was actually pretty funny. A few years ago, while I was in Nilanza, I had spent the day really tying one on. Like you wouldn't believe. And when I came up to the person in question I opened with-" He stops, as Nebulosa draws his attention. "Oh. Right. Yeah, should probably do that." he glance at Pasquale. "Hold that story, I'll get back to it." But then they're told to dance. "Ooooor, I guess we can do that since we got shut down by said Duchess?"

"I look forward to it." Pasquale says to Volya before settling back to half-watch the unfolding meeting between Piccola and Ember.

Cesare rises, moving to retrieve his lute from where he'd set it aside. Something crosses his face briefly, like a cloud, but it passes just as quickly as it'd come. His gaze skips around the room, and he starts to edge toward the door with small steps that don't draw attention to themselves.

"General," Ember replies, half-finished glass of red wine in hand, clutched at the ready like it might need some kind of strategic deployment at any moment. The question that Piccola asks makes Ember pause for a second. She breathes out, a long and steady exhale from her nostrils, like steam being carefully vented. At last, she speaks: "How could I forget?" Where Piccola has a mischievous sparkle in her eyes, Ember retains her usual severity. The longer she's observed, the more it might become clear to the observer that this never really switches off.

Once Apollo draws her close, Lianne has no eyes for the rest of the party. Not her own, at least; there are still guards and staff and, of course, a very distracted Fajra currently flirting with Paris with a mind toward dancing once she's done her drink. The marquessa's own verdant attention settles wholly upon Apollo as he leads her through the first few steps, before she draws in near enough that her cheek might set to his, that she might murmurs soft words to him that don't carry to the rest of the room.

"And there you have your proof of his honesty. A fine example of his overtures being rejected by a woman," Nebulosa once again 'whispers', albeit this time to Pasquale. Even though the overtures were actually hers. Grazia's assertion that they ought to dance instead was too well-timed for her to resist. Still, with all of her teasing, her grip tightens on the black fabric of long overcoat that Volya so often favors. Her lips purse. She looks to the floor. "A tempting invitation. Yes, let's."

"Because I am easily forgotten," says the General to the Bloody Baroness.

There is a pause after. "Despite my past profession, I am not so mercenary in collection. I have learned a lot from observing my House's familiars." Beat. "I leave to you how our promise will conclude." She takes one more step closer, and then seemingly-unconsciously reaches to the side as one of the Malespero attendants finally brings her tea cup. A few moments are stolen to lift, sip, and sigh contentedly.

"I knew I would never be able to catch up with you," she admits.

"I don't care for lies," Ember says, to Piccola's comment about being easily forgotten.

The Bloody Baroness watches Piccola drink her tea for a moment. Ember's face is as stony as ever in its expression. Whatever she's considering, she doesn't let on. This is to her credit and to her detriment, as usual. She might be planning to punch Piccola in the nose, or she might be planning to pick her up in such a hug. Who can tell? It seems like this thought process goes on for longer than it should. "Set your tea aside for a moment," Ember finally commands, and she does the same with her glass of wine. She waits for Piccola to do so, so that she can step forward, grab hold of the shorter woman, and then dip her into the kind of kiss usually only seen in paintings considered too, quote, 'randy' for public display.

Lianne has left the a cozy stone fireplace.

Fajra leaves, following Lianne.

Fajra arrives, following Lianne.

Pasquale is overheard praising Lianne.

"And to the absolute shock of literally no one." Volya gestures in a blase manner to the pair of women currently embracing, clearly humored by something in the back and forth that he had been witnessing. But he's being drug on over to dance. "Just so you know, I'm going to grouse and brood about dancing, but if I didn't, then I wouldn't really be me, would I."

Apollo steps into that closer hold, the dance steps the sort that yes, accommodate such things. They step and turn, together, he and Lianne, cheek set to cheek. His attention does lift, turn about the room, perhaps with some murmur from her. The move about, his step just skipping halfway through a turn when his eyes light on Ember and Piccola. He... probably thought they were going to murder each other. But hey: it's a Lycene party. That also works.

Piccola does as she's told.

This //is// a Lycene party. What would it be without at least one display of unnecessarily-sexual activity? Mind, in fairness, given the reputation of the two this is probably at least a smidge less expected than an outright brawl. For her part, the Voice of the Vipers finds parts of the Bloody Baroness' outfit to hold onto with her leather-gloved hands, and leans into the moment in a non-performative sort of way.

And it pretty much lasts as long as the more dominant of the two women want it to.

Ember has a good sense of timing. It lasts as long as it needs to, and not long enough to overstay its welcome, with either the Littlest Snake or with the hostage audience. When it ends, Ember breathes out through her nose again, this time closer to a huff, after she straightens Piccola back into an upright position. Ember remains leaned in, though, to murmur something.

Nebulosa's eyes trail over to the kissing couple at the Islander's words. Apparently, she hadn't been paying them much mind until now. The Lycene ward isn't within her jurisidiction; murders in the street are the Velenosan guards' problem. "Ohhh, I realize you're nowhere near drunk enough to actually enjoy dancing and wouldn't have even braved it if it weren't for the pressure on all sides," she says on all sides. "But you'll find that one of the benefits of being a Zaffria is the abundance of Igniseri wine that we keep in our cellars. Enough that one day, you might even forget yourself and sway your hips a little."

Ember mutters, "A ... is ... kept. I ... to ... married, ... once ... ... Baron-consort's family works ... ... internal ... I ... that, ... It will likely be our last."

Lianne catches that impressive dip-and-kiss on the turn, she and Apollo not able to observe it at the same time as they keep so close. Still, it inspires a bright laugh, brief but genuine, and maybe a slightly tighter hold on her dance partner as she murmurs something more in return. More intimate, too, it would seem as her eyes drift low, as her nose tucks in beneath his ear, her whispered words falling against his neck.

Apollo parts from Lianne a moment, but it's just to lead through a turn at a dramatic swell in the music, to draw swiftly close, a collision of bodies admittedly not so dramatic as that kiss, and yet. It's a moment of quicker steps, turns having more than subtler motion, in a song that hasn't picked up save for the crescendo. There's one more mumrur, as they move, after, brief.

"How *dare* you imply that I would have a good time. That is slandering my terrible name, you take that back this instant." Volya remarks. "Look. Look. I haven't had a chance to tie one on and then say things that I'll regret that I said publicly that I would normally say in private. But if you're going to lure me into an early death of alcoholism, then...well. I did always say I was here for a good time, not a long time." A hand gestures at the area that's been set aside for dancing. "Just so you know, I'm only dancing because it's with you. So. Y'know. There's that."

Since there is not going to be any sort of fighting Pasquale finishes off whats left of his wine, sets the glass aside, and allows his eyes sink closed.

Once she is strained out, Piccola adjusts the armor that has been shifted ever so.

Whatever Ember tells her is responded to with a quiet set of murmurs. After that, the General gives the Baroness another bow, and departs from her company without another word. "It was a pleasure, if a brief one, my Lord," she calls out in Pasquale's direction. "Orders, my friend: but a moment's peace must be taken, even if it lasts briefly."

She then takes her leave.

Ember checks composure at hard. Botch! Ember fails completely.

Another spill of laughter, quieter, escapes Lianne as Apollo guides her through that movement, ache and adoration in her expression as he draws her so swiftly close again. She hasn't his grace, but she knows well enough how to follow, how to keep her own steps simple to let his lead shine. Brows arched, she issues a single word in answer to his. A helpless smile punctuates that thought, lead-in to yet more whispering.

"Careful now, Volya. Someone might mistake that comment for affection instead of realizing that I stipulated 'a mandatory minimum of one dance per public ball' in the contract." There's a smirk. Ohhh, how Nebulosa smirks, looking entirely too satisfied with herself. Somewhere in the Tower, or at least in Arx, there is a cat that enveies the smugness of that expression. It should be reserved for felines, not people. The heels of her boots click softly as she moves to the dance floor at the sweep of his hand.

Scoundrel might be off in a corner studying Nebulosa's expression. More likely, the black-and-white kitten is busy stealing some treats from the table while no one is watching.

After more murmurs between Ember and Piccola, Ember retrieves her wine, and stands there, as still as a statue, while Piccola exits. Her eyes shut, and her frown deepens. She at least has the courtesy to wait until Piccola has actually /left/ to lose her cool -- but even then, it's not an outward tantrum so much as a star collapsing in on itself. Ember's brow furrows and her frown goes from 'intense' to 'ugly', and then with a sudden but not especially loud crash... well, the glass that was in Ember's hand is now /in/ Ember's hand. She neglected to take the wine glass out of her hand before instinctively making a white-knuckled fist with such strength that the glass shatters and leaves her with a wounded palm and wine on the ground next to her feet. At least it wakes her up: "Hhhhh," she breathes, before looking down at her hand. She looks to a servant who's already on the move to clean things up: "Please give my apologies to the Marquessa and Marquis, as well as to Lord Pasquale," before holding her wounded hand toward her own stomach and stalking toward the exit herself.

Pasquale opens his eyes again when Piccola calls out to him, lets them close again, and then opens them to study Ember's retreating form. He frowns for a moment, contemplative, and then gets up. "I am going to retire. Please enjoy the rest of the wine and music."

Apollo takes a deep breath, and if he leans a little into that dancing, oh well. There's a length of murmuring, affectionate but emphatic, before he leans to kiss Lianne's cheek - just as he hears that crack of glass. He stands sharply up from that kiss at that, looking for the culprit; he doesn't sort out what happened until he spots the bloody trail behind Ember. He blinks after her, looks around like to see if anyone -else- knows what the hell happened.

Well, Volya *was* going to dance. And then someone just goes ahead and crushes a glass in their hand. So he just stops. Watches for a moment, brow raises. "So, if I'm ever that dramatic in public, Nebula. Please slap me across the face."

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