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Welcome, Winter!

The snow has started and House Elwood is going to celebrate with a family friendly social event. Hot chocolate bar, a snowball fight (provided the weather cooperates), a bonfire for jumping, and a moment taken to send our prayers and hopes up to the gods. There will be a raffle for a prize (to be determined); entry in said raffle will be purchased by bringing gifts for the Tragedy -- clothes, blankets, toys, and similar goods.

OOC: Donations should be posed only; if you WANT to to represent your gift, you can +donate to the Faith org with the number of resources your gift would be worth. Everyone who poses bringing a gift will receive a single entry into the raffle, regardless of the OOC value of their donation, and no more than one entry will be afforded to any particular individual.

I know this is earlier in the day than things I usually run, so I'm going to keep it going well into the evening (though I will be taking breaks); the raffle drawing will happen roughly at the 2 hour mark.


Dec. 28, 2022, 3 p.m.

Hosted By

Natalia Martino


Raja Savio Martinique Edris Sira Bonnie Alis Kael Caspian Keely Ilira Marena



Arx - Ward of House Valardin - Elwood Estate - Grounds

Largesse Level


Comments and Log

Even the weather is cooperating, in that it's a light and very pretty snow that's falling for the party to welcome said snow. It means that it's not too difficult to keep everybody comfortable even with the party being conducted almost entirely outdoors. There are fires and heaters and alcohol (errrrr, adult hot chocolate additives) and extra scarves and gloves for people (and a warming station in the stable), but it's quite clear this is a party in which one is supposed to embrace the flirt with hypothermia.

Also, there are two giant piles of snow at opposite sides of a big open space in the stable yard. It's reasonably good snowball snow, and the rocks were removed as part of the process of piling said snow. It's nice to have staff.
Natalia's cheeks and nose are already a little red from the cold, but as the appointed hour arrives she is over fussing with the hot chocolate table and getting the winter flowers on it arranged _just right_.


Standing somewhere near-to the entrance to play the role of welcoming co-host, and even co-host is perhaps a stretch, the Duke Martino Malvici is glancing over his shoulder in the direction of Natalia as she is fussing over the hot chocolate once more. A flickering up of his lips, a faint laugh escaping from himself before turning his sharp greens towards the entrance. The polish of his boots extra today, an ethereal seabreeze of a scent escaping out while the militaristic aiguillettes dangle from the double-breasted coat worn.

Winter. It is a dreadful season. Well, to some at least. However, the thought of hot chocolate and general fun at a party has coaxed Raja Culler out of whatever warm hole she was hiding in. She has even dressed up a little! Thick layers of duskweave keep her warm and she huddles in a thick cloak of black fox fur. She arrives with others! It would seem that she is in the middle of a story and she glances between Sira and Martinique, "So, of course I told him that purple is always the correct choice." A grin crosses her features.

Embrace the flirt with hypothermia?! Some of us are delicate Saffron flowers! Or at least Savio is, which is why he is buried in an enormous (some might say, ostentatious) fur coat and shows no signs of departing from its custody. Like a beautiful but stupid moth, he tends to be attracted to the light and heat of fires, and is fluttering from one to the next over the course of his time here. Although at the present time, he seems to have been attracted by an equally appealing proposition: This fantastic hot chocolate set up with the Adult Additives. "Oh thank you, you're beautiful, don't be shy," he's encouraging the staff-person assisting him with said Adult Additives.

So, Martinique allowed herself to be lured to a party. She even dressed up for it. Brought some ladies. It's cold, but she grew up in the Oathlands and haas a good solid cloak so she's not too upset, especially as they get to the party and get to the fire. "I mean, that's most of my armor at the moment. Which has had a lot of wear as this war has worn on." She answers Raja. She makes a gesture of invitation at the drinks table and inclines her head in inquiry at the women as to see if they want something, and then bursts into a smile as she spots Savio.

Dressed up in his polished leathers best, Edris seems to be perfectly at home in the cold, and even more pleased to see the transformation of the estate grounds. He doesn't come from within the manor this time but from the gates outside it, offering an arm in escort to Alis and walking with her Valardin complement. Though he wears the sigil of House Elwood, it might take even those who know him will a few blinks or two to place him, as rather than overwinter with his usually quite luxurious whiskers, he seems to be completely clean shaven. He offers a courtly bow to the near-to-the-entrance Martino, though his gaze is quickly draw to Natalia and he smiles that way, even if she might well be too busy yet to look over.

"It is," Sira agrees with Raja on the color purple being the best choice. She's got one arm looped through Martinique's, her unsmiling face soft and not unfriendly. Her eyes survey the gathering as she follows the other two women.

Bonnie arrives in an unhurried amble without pet or entourage. Hot and appropriately doctored drink is acquired and enjoyed while her dark gaze roams over the gathering guests "This is so many people for a people outside in the dead of winter. I am so very impressed." this intoned to no one in particular.

Rather than staff taking hats and cloaks and gloves and scarves as people arrive, they are being offered. Those that bring gifts to be taken to the orphanage have their name taken down, and the gifts are set on the tables in the stable -- so everybody at the party can see them still, but they aren't in danger of being hurt by the weather. Can't have anything happen to the toys.

There are people. Right. Natalia abandons her last minute fussing to flit to Martino's side, offering greetings as people arrive. And more people arrive. And soon she's pretty much beaming as more people show up. There may be a little bit of relief in her expression. Whew.

Walking arm in arm with Edris, Alis is adept and pretending she is not freezing cold. Having someone who practically radiates heat beside her, and a fur lined cloak that dwarfs her, no doubt helps with this. "Baroness Elwood, Duke Malvici." The polite but genuine greeting is offered warmly to the hosts before her gaze wanders. And... what is this? Hot chocolate station? Obviously, she immediately zeroes in on the opportunity for sugary goodness.

From the direction of Keaton Hall comes a small cluster of individuals of various heights. There are definitely children in the mix, as well as a nursemaid and a governess or two just to assist with the supervision of all parties in concern. Also in attendance is of course Marquis Keaton and on his arm the Princess Keely Grayson. The small unit stops just before entering so that he can survey the young ones and give hushed, last minute instructions. Yes, they can play with Elaine. Yes, they can do snowball fights when appropriate. Yes they must behave and no they may not use some of those adult hot chocolate additives (Aeryn). Still, adjusting the scarf of his youngest daughter, Kael sends them on their way. The group moves forward, offers their greetings to Natalia after zipping by her Duke co-host with only the eldest two making for formal greetings to her before zipping off to go make themselves at home. As to himself, Kael remarks to Keely, "Are you certain that you are warm enough?" in query. He refrains from adjusting her scarf though to offer, "Thank you for the invitation," to both Natalia _and_ Martino. He knows better than his children, you see.

Raja shifts her gaze to the drink table, her grin broadening. "You speak my language." There was no need for further prompting and she makes her way to the refreshment table with Martinique. In fact she too hooks her arm in Martinique's /other/ arm as they make their way towards the table. Chocolate is such a rare treat for the Culler woman! So, of course she takes up a cup with adult additives! Then there are children! Raja's gaze shifts to them and her features soften, actually turning wistful.

Drawing a somewhat easy smile to the guests as they arrive, a faint laugh is escaping out at Savio's voice before turning his gaze to Martinique for a moment. A dip of his torso before a move of his right hand to his chest, "Ah, yes. Militaristic fashion is... truly quite something enjoyable to behold." Exhaling for a moment as his breath shows, the Lycene Duke welcomes Edris with a bow before turning those sharp green eyes of his to Bonnie. "Gloves and layers. I -once- was out in the mud after all hunting for quite some dangers." With Natalia on post beside him, Martino leans for a moment to bump against her shoulder as he greets both Alis and Kael, "Why you are truly both welcome. Please, do come in. Get yourselves something warm." An easy, further, draw up of his lips towards Keely to welcome the Princess Grayson in. "And, fairest Princess Grayson. A delight to see you once more."

Martino's hand, moving down from his chest, noticing something was missing a mere moment to corrected the lines of his coat.

Caspian comes huffing in, a bit late, and red cheeked. He was already covered in snow from something, but seemed bright with energy. He wore his bear skin cloak over his usual armor and apparel, shaking some of the snow off himself. he gave a laugh and wave to the many familiar faces and then a bow to the room. He looked to Bonnie who also had seemingly just arrived. "Bah, the cold is no match for laughter and good company! nothing some furs and warm drink cant fight back!" he looked to Martino and Natalie and bowed, "This was a marvelous idea! thank you for hosting!"

Chocolate is swiftly acquired. With additives. While Martinique knows that Sira is fully capable of getting her own, she still prepares a mug for the other woman and offers it out to her. At that point she remembers her grace enough to bow to Natalia. "My Lady, my thanks for your hospitality." And then to Alis and Edris. "Princess. Your Grace. We meet again." If there is any irony in her smile she keeps it largely from her face. Caspian is met with a bow of respect as well, warrior to warrior.

Bonnie bows to the host and hostess "It takes a rare and singular talent to make the inhospitable hospitable My Lord, My Lady. I am impressed as I am honored to be a guest." She looks down and marvels "This is extraordinary!" her chocolate mustache agrees!

Once arrived, Keely Grayson finds herself on her knees in the snow, speaking softly with the littlest Keatons-- a pair of twins-- and gently adjusting scarves and earmuffs. Yes, the nursemaids can do it, but clearly have not to the young princess' satisfaction and so she takes it upon herself to make the adjustments with her velvet-clad fingertips.

Once the small gaggle of children is off to play, Keely rises back to her feet, brushing some snow from the skirt of her coatdress and taking Kael's arm again so they might approach the hosts. "Baroness Elwood," she greets Natalia with a smile warmed by fondness that reaches the depths of her dark eyes. She regards her cousin for a lingering moment, assessing her well-being, before her focus then drifts to Martino. "And Duke Malvici. You are looking well. How fares your wonderful Duchess? I miss her terribly." Her soft tones are accompanied by a light, foggy mist clouding into the brisk air, and she maintains her hold upon her escort's elbow with both hands as greetings are made.

Bonnie says, "Apparently so! Caspian! It is good to see you! You have to try this chocolate drink!"

Sira accepts the mug offered to her with the smallest of grateful smiles offered in return. "This is quite the party," She says just loud enough to pass as a compliment to the hosts. She gives a polite curtsy before giving Raja and Martinique her attention again, quietly.

"That we do. And not much warmer than the last time, I wager." Alis quips at Martinique, a swift and wry grin added in addition to her greeting. "Caspian, hello." Recognition lights her expression, and then brightens further as the Keaton crew come in with Princess Keely. "Marquis, Your Highness." And to the gaggle of children that accompanied, a gesture is made towards one of the snow piles. "Ellara and Eirlys are that way!" That should keep them all nice and busy.

"Thank you for joining us," Natalia answers Kael with clear pleasure, her attention following the Keaton brood away before she warns Kael, "Elaine's hiding somewhere to get the first hit in." The shoulder bump from Martino has her offering that smile up her way, and then she's answering Caspian, "I'm glad you could come; you are very welcome." She bows her head to Martinique, smiles. "You are welcome; thank you for being here. It's so good to see smiling faces, and I thought we could all use a bit of laughter." She beams over at Bonnie, and that smile remains as she turns to Keely. "I'm glad you could make it." Lots of greetings. Edris's new look gets a bit of a doubletake, but she ultimately grins at him (she approves?) and bows her head respectfully to Alis. "As requested, it is the best chocolate bar Sis was capable of putting together; I believe she may have consulted Marie, as well." Must always credit the Keaton's cook. Sira and those she's with are offered a smile for the curtsey.

"Anything to get us out of our winter furs, pillow fortresses and warmth of the fireplace." Easily drawing a smile to Caspian, the Malvici Duke's chin dips to Caspian before touching his chest once more with his hand. "And, you are quite welcome Lady." Martino's voice drifting to Bonnie before seeing both the small children drifting out from around Keely. "Oh my Duchess is doing ever-so well. Kaia is in Southport, once more. As we are... preparing ourselves to finish that nasty conflict with the Shav'Arvani. A few parts of their holdings remain and, so, once this winter lifts from the Lyceum we will return out there once more." Stepping from the side of the Baroness, time to mingle away with people, Martino first makes for Savio's side. "So, what was this about purple?"

"Champion Caspian, it has been too long," Edris offers to Caspian, a flash of a real smile that lightens his eyes given to him. "Dame Martinque." There's a touch of humor to match the mercenary's own. "It is good to see you as well." When the Keaton crew rolls in, he will offer Kael a cousinly clap on the shoulder, if it is accepted, and then a proper bow for Keely. "Cousin. Your highness," he greets them both warmly. As the various children Keaton, Valardin, or otherwise run off towards the festivities, his gaze following after them for long moments. Doubtless, if he could get away with it, he'd probably be out running amongst them. Though for now he seems serenely settle. "It looks even more lively and lovely than I expected, my lady Baroness," he tells her, quietly, nodding to all the festivities already being enjoyed.

Raja takes her cup tenderly, allowing the warmth of it to defrost her hands before taking a sip from it. When Sira and Martinique whisper to her, she blinks and turns her attention to them, smiling deviously before returning the whisper. Then, she glances to Martino and Natalia, offering her thanks to the hosts of the party. "Thank you both! This is truly lovely!" She may be from the Lowers, but she does know some manners. But then her gaze shifts to Caspian and a smile is flashed in his direction. She leans towards the women again whispering while her gaze focuses on Caspian. Uh oh.

"Hot chocolate bars are the sole reason why early winter is my favorite part of the year. It's /perfect/." Alis assures Natalia, "And I'll be sure to send Sis an appropriate thank you for her diligence." As the promise is made, it's no doubt her own aide that will be left to fulfill it. "You know, you could show them how to make the perfect snowball." she murmurs towards Edris, being the enabler that she is. "Just make sure they aim them at everyone else, yes?"

Kael tips his head to Martino and, with Natalia's remark, he is grimacing somewhat ruefully. "Which means that Aeryn is going to see about getting the last hit in." Ah, and there is Alis. "Your Grace," he greets her with a bow and a swift, "Or Ellara is going to get the last hit in." He rocks back on his heels, peering in the direction of the snow yonder just to make sure that his words were heeded. Edris' clap summons him back and he peers at the man a moment, squinting. "Ah. Cousin," he greets him. "You look well." His voice dips just a little bit as he adds, "You know, I shave clean in the summer and am quite content with my beard in the winter. Is this a northern tradition?" With a glance back to Keely he is asking, "Shall we get hot chocolate? Or?"

Bonnie bows again and supplies "Lady Bonnie Shepherd." She does amble out of the way so the host and hostess may continue to make the rounds. Raja is spied and given a wave in greeting. Bonnie does loiter and make note of people as guests mill and chat while Bonnie continues to grow her hot chocolate mustache.

Savio is now in possession of the most fantastic accessory a person can have: improved cocoa. Martinique, Sira, and Raja have all been spotted and a kiss is blown their way, mwah, and one for Caspian over there too, MWAH, but! He has also spotted his patron over yonder as well, and makes his way (circuitously, as the path is necessitated by travel by the fires) toward Keely. It's a path that takes long enough to allow for her careful, kind adjustment of the childrens' outerwear and the greeting of the hosts, then he beams at her. "Princess Keely! So gorgeous in this velvet and silk and lace, the look is--" a gesture of perfection, "CORRECT. And Marquis Keaton, it has been so much too long. Wonderful to see you both. You should see the things they're doing with cocoa here. Unparalleled."
Then there is a Martino nearby, and Savio hmmms at his question. "I don't know, to be honest, it might be about armor? I've done all mine in not-purple and that seems, at present, really tragic. I should have done it in purple. The only possible thing worse for an enemy to deal with than being beaten by me would be me, in lavender. They would just die rather than live and answer any questions about that."

It should be noted that there are adults that are drifting around following after the children; those who would recognize Sis will see her amongst them. The herd of children has supervision, leaving their attendant adults to enjoy the festivities worry free. Or as worry free as one can be when one's child is a melomaniac intending to take over the world someday. Natalia smiles after Martino, then looks to Edris and beams. "It--is turning out better than I anticipated," she confirms quietly. "People are smiling." Raja's words have her aiming her smile that way. "You're very welcome; thank you for joining us, I am thrilled you could amke it." Alis gets another smile. "I am so glad you made the suggestion. Everyone seems so happy with it." To Kael, "At least they aren't bored?"

Martinique takes a few cautious sips of her chocolate as she gazes fondly at the party. The war has been stressful and it is nice to relax a little. Of course, there is feminine whispering going on and this results in her nodding to Raja as she sets her chocolate down and leans down to form a snowball. "Savio, you are called to battle!" She cries, and then whips the snowball towards him. "I am under orders sir, you must understand!" A second snowball is under construction as she speaks.

Savio's commentary about the only thing better than victory gains Bonnie's attention and a sudden startled laugh "Gods! I had considered what might strike fear into enemies but never how a look might aid in properly humbling them. If you do ever get purple armor I do hope that I get to see it!"

Bonnie says, "I might add you seem to have all the best words for this chocolate perfection. Such a way with words!"

Cheeks flushed with cold and hands in her pockets, Ilira strolls down the path from the main gate and stops on the outskirts of the party. Her gilt-lined eyes flick from face to face like a spark off brush. Catching Savio's eye, then Caspian's, then Keely's, she flashes each a joyous smile and weaves her way like silk through the crowd toward that group. Appearing at her fellow Saffron islander's elbow, she whispers, "I think you're about to be snowballed," and sidesteps out of the way just as it happens.

As compliement come across to greet him from the guests, Martino's torso dips to those thanking with an easy roll of his Lycene tongue, "Oh you are very welcome." With a jovial flicker of his lips after at hearing Bonnie's voice, the Malvici Duke notes across, "Oh if you are impressed with that. Consider when I have wine near-by." A crease of his sharp green eyes, the little wrinkles forming in the corner before bringing that attention upon Savio. "Oh -dear- I found in the late Duchess Calypso's suite a whole host of purple armour. A sort of... off-blue steel it was. Quite something, hawks -everywhere- as you might expect."

As battlelines begin to form near Savio at Martinique's voice, Martino steps somewhat free. New threads, snow is a great risk.

"Mm. Perhaps it would be best to allow imperfect ammunition. Just in case someone finds the parts for the improvised catapult," Edris muses quietly to Alis, though Natalia might well recognize certain parts of the grounds he might be eying, eyes narrowing ever so slightly as he rubs at his chin. His thinking whiskers aren't there anymore though, and so he gives a very brief start of someone who hasn't quite extinquished that behavior just yet. Probably they're not still there. Probably. Kael's question brings out a bit of a boyish smile, and a brightening of his skin that is surely from the cold and no cover. "There are certain advantages," he admits to his cousin. "Worthy of more exploration. Besides, 'tis true, Northerners don't need to wear their chin coverings at all times to ward off the lowlands cold." Natalia's comment has his shoulders squaring and chin lifting. "Of course they are smiling," he says. The attendees had better be smiling! "But I am glad to see you are as well."

Raja glances to Martinique as suddenly she has a snowball in hand! "Oh! The chocolate! Watch the chocolate!" She laughs, shielding her mug from any accidental mess. She begins sipping at it greedily lest it be wasted. Once the drink has been dispatched, she joins in with the fun! Bending down, she gets a good proper snowball, hefts it up, steps up next to Martinique and also chucks it at Savio!

"That is so wonderful to hear, Duke Malvici," Keely replies to Martino on the topic of Kaia, though she certainly sobers at the mention of Southport's newest war. "I wish you a swift and neat conclusion to those troubles, and a safe return to Arx for your lovely wife." Her smile returns, and next her attention is bouncing to Edris, who receives a gentle dip of her chin and a soft, "Lord Elwood, how wonderful to see you," but what is really happening is she is peering around to find Alis, knowing the Highlord must be nearby. Her face lights up, and she gives Kael's elbow an affectionate squeeze before slipping forth and offering a chilly peck to her Patron's cheek. She is then quick to return to the Marquis' side, keeping close there just in time to hear the beard remark.

"You -what-?" It is a soft, mildly horrified inquiry for Kael, one which is swiftly distracted by Savio! "Oh, it is the wonderful Lord Savio!" she enthuses quietly, disengaging from her escort briefly again to peck each of her protege's cheeks gently before returning. "This is high praise coming from one of the most fashionable people in Arvum." There is a furtive glance back toward Martino as she says this, something regretful in the look, and then she is back to Kael. So much going on! "Oh, hot chocolate sounds lovely," she nods, ready to fetch a warming beverage with her date. "Is that Miss Starling? Hello, Miss Starling!"

Sira notes the greeting from Savio and gives the lord a bow of her head. She can be heard saying to Martinique and Raja, "...make someone..." - the rest is lost in the din of the party.

Savio kisses each of Keely's cheeks back. Mwah mwah! "I have missed you. Entirely my fault, but we are overdue for a quiet chat," he insists. And might have gone on, but... LURED. TRAPPED. PELTED WITH SNOW. Listen, Savio was being very civilized over here, and he is dressed Nicely and mostly staying warm, everything was totally going well in the little world of Savio until Martinique takes his little world and SHAKES ALL THE SNOW AROUND IN ITS LITTLE GLOBE. He was just in the process of saying to Bonnie, "I hope you do. I don't believe we've met--" when woe and tragedy and disaster strike because there's Dame Disaster over there declaring war. "No, wait, what, CONSIDER DIPLOMACY," he insists, before

p l o p

A snowball hits his coat. Generalized flailing has sent his cocoa into the snow but at least it did not splash anyone. "What even are your terms?!" He eyes Sira and Raja. "I'm not above taking hostages!"

As the flow of arrivals seems to be slowing, Natalia abandons her post to head over towards the big bonfire. Her voice is lifted, pitched to carry above lower conversations and capture attention. "Thank you everyone, for being here. We have two activities today that need just a bit of explanation; this bonfire here is for jumping. A successful jump over the flames will afford some small measure of luck and protection in the coming year." She gestures then to a pile of writing supplies. "There, you will write down your hopes and dreams for the coming year, and you will then cast it into the fire. The parchment will burn, and the smoke will carry your words up to the gods." Edris's words have her smiling even more his way. "I am," she confirms. "It's--oh, they're hitting each other with snowballs already." It's not quite a squeal, but it's reminiscent of a squeal.

Alis ducks her head to partially hide her amusement at that continued startlement that Edris displays, and of course laughs outright about the notion of an improvised catapult. She can't think of /anyone/ who would do something like /that/. "I promised him a nice warm scarf, and I really ought to deliver soon on that promise." she asides towards Kael, after mentions the close shave. "If we find both Aeryn and Ellara covered in snow, we'll know they tried to tussle for ownership of the last snowball." But she can wait no longer for her favorite drink. "I'll bring one back for you!" is promised to the Elwood Knight when she goes to busy herself doctoring cups of hot cocoa for each of them. Gods only know what kind of concoction she's going to wind up with. Can't head to the big bonfire without the drinks.

"Fair that," answers Kael to Natalia with a slight smile. Yes, he catches sight of Sis yonder and does indeed ease. Savio's greeting has the Keaton bowing his head to him and remarking, "Lord Amadeo, it has indeed been a length of time. I hope that you and yours have been well. Please do give my regards to your husband, yes?" The imparted wisdom from Edris has Kael incline his head to the other man, and a chuckle to Alis, "Likely so." Keely's inquiry has him offering a few shorter, quieter words to her once she's returned to his side. Given the fact that snowballs have started to fly, he neatly sidesteps with the princess, attempting to shield her with his body as they make their way over to the hot chocolate bar. He does pause when Keely makes with the hellos to Ilira, however.

"You know you can't take me!" Martinique roars back at Savio as another snowball flies. She will, in the midst of this, manage to get another sip or two of chocolate in; this is the mark of an experienced soldier who knows how to drink and/or sleep between sieges. "I did mean to talk to you about that dagger though," she asides to Raja. "I have the alaricite, it's just been busy with, you know, the war." She will also move herself to shield Sira should any assaults come her way.

Bonnie's dark eyebrows inch up a bit "Oh? Well. Someday I hope to see just that my lord." With Raja's cried warning of watch the chocolate and snoballs flying she too turns and perhaps unwisely pours the contents of her mug down her gullet and in then exhales a thick plume of steam. Towards Savio, "Bonnie Shepherd and I do not TAKE PRISONERS!" She cries playfully making certain to betray zeal and not menace.

BETRAYAL! Raja gets a devious look on her features. Her next snowball is scooped up and she steps slightly behind Martinique. She looks left. She looks right. She shoves the snowball down her back! "I look forward to making the dagger!" She says with a broad grin at Martinique. A single slap on her back to squish the snowball in a bit better.

"Why certainly, Lady Shepard." Martino's chin dips to Bonnie as he is making his way back to make for some safe range away from the snowballs near-to the Princess Keely once more. "I shall let Kaia know, I'm sure she would love a letter from you as well. Let's her know the long trips from the city means she still has someone here to call upon as a friend for teas." As he is pausing there beside Keely and Kael, Martino's torso is dipping to Ilira in greeting, "Messere Starling, good to see you once more." A server making themselves known on Martino's side, bringing forth one of the hot chocolates for his gloved right hand. "And Marquis Kael, it is good to see you. My, that is -quite- the longcoat. Where did you get that made?"

"AGH," Savio gets pelted again, "Stop throwing hideous sky-freeze at me you misbegotten catastrophe!" He's flaily scampering in an effort to avoid the next snowball, but does address Bonnie here. "Lovely to meet you. I am Savio, one of the Lords Amadeo. Help me against these villains." Because like, he does not want to touch the snow and hasn't been induced to form his own snow projectiles yet. "That's Dame Dangerface," pointing at Martinique, "Scourge of the land and sea or at least scourge of like, ten feet of intertidal zone. That's Stablia Stabberson, of the Arx Stabbersons." pointing to Raja. Then last he points to Sira. "And that's Doomneedle. No one knows where she came from. Someone unwrapped a bolt of night-black velvet once and she was just in there and she popped out saying I WANT THIS HEM SO STRAIGHT I CAN CUT YOU WITH IT and we all just rolled with that."

Ilira gracefully slips off to secure herself a mug of hot chocolate, brushing past the hosts on her way. "Baroness, Lord," she bows her head to Natalia and Martino, blue eyes twinkling with warmth. Traceable by her great big fluffy cashmere sweater, she goes up to the bar, and just as she plucks up a cup of coco, there is a Kael and a Keely! "Yes it is," she answers the princess, turning around with a huge grin on her face. Expertly balancing her beverage in her left hand, she coils her right arm around Keely's shoulders and squishes the younger woman in a tight if mercifully brief hug. "And Marquis Keaton, always a pleasure," she dips her chin respectfully. Eyes drifting back to the others as she takes a tentative sip of her chocolate, she eyes Rajas maneuver and flashes her a thumbs-up from afar. Then her attention settles on Natalia, at whom her eyebrows loft. "That's....dangerous," she says, somewhat protesting but mostly laughing.

"But imagine how much fun it will be to watch," Natalia tells Ilira with a grin, on her way over to finally collect her own hot chocolate. From there, she watches the trading of the snowballs, the people talking, taking a moment for observation and looking pleased with herself. So, so pleased with herself. That smile is perhaps maybe a liiiiittle smug.

In fairness, Sira has not been paying much attention asode from ensuring she is behind Martinique and still far enough away to avoid snow assaults. Also, sipping from her mug of hot chocolate. When suddenly she hears herself referred to as 'Doomneedle,' her eyes flick to Savio with a purely amused look. "My lord, you leave out the best part of my mysterious origin: I make coin appear at my whim."

There's a shriek as Martinique finds a snowball down her shirt. Well behind her cloak as well. She stiffens to a full posture of attention as a shiver runs down her spine. The gaze she turns back on Raja is murderous but...only playfully so, as it was just a snowball and there's another game to play. "Sorry Lady Hostess, we were a moment distracted, you said we're to jump the fire then?" That's to Natalia while she's still dripping the water of the snowball off her back; perhaps the warmth would be welcome.

Bonnie sets her mug aside and stoops to scoop up snow and hastily pack it into a ball. She throws the first one with a laugh "Oh! I am also a Lady who loves her practically sized weaponry! Always pleased to meet kindred spirits!" Another laugh at the peculiar but delightful Lord Savio "I wish I could have you make all the introductions! You are fantastic!" She has abandoned throwing more for the moment. She is a snowball making machine even if the laughter and the flying snow make it hard to focus on arming her amazing allies.

"As the mood strikes you," Natalia confirms for Martinique. "There is no particular order to anything; I am thoroughly enjoying watching the snowball fighting," which at least some of the children have also started, off in the distance, "So please don't feel like you must light yourself on fire until you're ready."

"Thank you," Kael says automatically to the Duke Malvici, though the question regarding where he got it made has him pause distinctly. "I am not quite certain," he admits, glancing yonder in the direction of where Sis is ensuring that the children are well behaved. "Sis assisted in the matter." Does he glance to Natalia in brief afterward? Of course. His brows are furrowed as well, but his expression smooths and he offers a smile to Ilira when he is thusly greeted. "A pleasure," he agrees, as simple as that. He is also quite content to have Keely tucked back in his arm, so that the pair can continue on toward the refreshment table. It's LIKELY outside of snowball firing range, see.

"You're alright, Stablia, you're alright," Savio praises Raja's betrayal, mollified, though he also won't do anything to stop Bonnie throwing snow if she's on-task. He does side eye Martinique, however. "Fire jumping," what could go wrong, "Whomever fails first at it owes the other one a favor. Yes?"

"Hmm, fair." Martinique answers while launching another snowball.

Keely looks mildly horrified as she hears something, turning her gaze away from a soft conversation with Kael to look over the festivities. "Did someone say they are jumping into the fire?" she asks in a faint voice, looking back up to her escort like perhaps he should Do Something because honestly it is not -that- cold and it seems a little dramatic, which is unseemly. And then comes Martino over beside them, which summons a smile back to her young face. "Oh, I shall," she promises softly, offering an eager nod on the topic of writing to Kaia. And then she smiles aside to Kael when he receives that compliment, nodding her agreement with it. "Does it not look simply dashing upon him?" she asks, her tones no less enthusiastic for their softness. "It fits him perfectly and the coloring is exceptional." Says the young princess who matches him. "Do you add anything to your hot cocoa, Duke Malvici, or do you simply enjoy it as is?" Walking and talking! It is time to take this section of the party all the way to hot chocolate town. Cocoaville. Cacaoland.

Raja laughs an uproar of a laugh when Martinique's shriek spills from her. "Always watch your back." She winks at the woman, stepping up next to her. Just as she steps next to MArtinique, Bonnie's snowball beams her right on the side of her head! Snow sprays out and around her, leaving the Culler woman reeling. Karma.

There is, for a brief moment, a pause from Martino as Kael says sis. His eyes angling in the same direction before realising it was the Baroness Natalia, a realising widen of his eyes for the barest of seconds before dipping his head low. "Ah, yes. Very fortunte there to have quite the fashionable sister who would keep her eye out for such." Leaning a moment forward, Martino's voice is a hush tone, "See, my own just brings back trophies almost like a cat. Just the trophies are usually large and pranks." Lifting the mug of hot chocolate as well as the gloved right hand to Keely, Martino is wryly curling his lips for a moment, "Oh just naked hot chocolate, as it is made and to be enjoyed." Drawing a mouthful back for a moment before nodding in agreement, "And it does Keely. Done well to match the coat with that. Very Crownlander the look."

Savio makes a dignified noise best described as Wailing and is, at long last is induced, by the failure of diplomacy and increasing escalations of hostility from Martiniquesville, to form a snowball and THROW IT BACK.

He has overheard Keely, however, and brightly assures her, "It is very safe! Just a little hop over a little fire for good luck. Nothing bad will happen." This is probably true for most people. moooost people.

"But...but what if someone's hair gets on fire?" Ilira clutches a handful of her voluptuous tresses protectively in her right hand while warming her left around her mug. "I will do it once," she decides. Her gaze drifts back over to the snowball melee aways ahead and then up the length of a particularly broad, tall tree which overlooks the scene. Some insidious contemplation begins to take shape behind her eyes, and she smiles.

Alis eventually wanders back to the crowd, and Edris will suddenly find himself with a pint sized princess at his side, handing him a mug of hot cocoa, with adult additive in it. Just that. Not a lot of other frills. Her cup on the other hand, looks like the entire table was hit by a hurricane that landed in her cup. How is there any room for chocolate in it? But trust her, there is. "Jumping the fire. That sounds intriguing. I might stick with writing and putting the paper to flame though, to spare anyone from having the pinch the bridge of their nose in dismay."

Bonnie stops making more ammo and dusts her hands off "Safe for people. Less safe for absolutely sublime fur coats." As soon as she has straitened and stepped away from her pile of snowballs "Are we fighting or are we jumping, Lord Stupendous?" giving Savio the same treatment he'd given during earlier introductions.

"Sis is quite the creator of miracles," Natalia confirms for Martino. "Fortunate does not _begin_ to describe it. I would not be where I am now without her help." Absolute certainty in her tone for that. The smile she sends towards Kael is all innocence. She sips her chocolate, then leans over to say _quietly_ to Alis, "We could build a smaller fire for your shorter legs."

Not especially interested in - or skilled at - jumping fires, Sira begins to circulate the party by slipping away from Martinique's proximity. She is, rather obviously, eyeing all of the attire chosen by the various guests. Stopping near Alis, She murmurs a soft

"At least there was no promise of roast beast," Edris observes, quietly. Though he smiles and moves unhurriedly towards the hot chocolate bar while also politely not looking too hard at how Alis is doctoring things. No spoilers! As safety concerns are raised, he looks thoughtful. "I would be happy to yield my hood to borrow for anyone worried about a potential mishap. It will not prevent damage if one /stays/ in the fire, but better leather to be singed and buffed out than to have someone need a wig later." Is his joking? With his straight faced delivery it is hard to tell. He accepts the offered mug with a bow and a quiet "Thank you, Your Grace," a lingering smile strengthening as he notes his favored more plain and hers with All The Things. "I suppose pitching or a hand up and over does not count as jumping," he tells her, sorrofully.

Savio admits to Bonnie, "Probably both, which puts me firmly under the title of Lord Stupidness instead."

Not especially interested in - or skilled at - jumping fires, Sira begins to circulate the party by slipping away from Martinique's proximity. She is, rather obviously, eyeing all of the attire chosen by the various guests. Stopping near Alis, she murmurs a soft, "High Lady, the colors of your outfit suit you."

Martinique checks dexterity and athletics at normal. Martinique is successful.

Raja wipes the snow off the side of her face. Oh look! They are down a Sira. She glances to Martinique. "So, should we show people how to jump this fire?" She says with great amusement in her voice.

Savio checks dexterity and athletics at normal. Savio is successful.

There is a slight reluctance in Martinique at losing Sira's closeness even as she has perpetuated a snowball war in the vicinity of a civillian. "Alright. The fire it is then." She'll meet Savio's eyes and mutter something, perhaps inaudible, and scribble on a piece of paper a bit before casting it into the flames. And then she'll back up, and run, and leap, managing to clear the fire without damaging too much of her clothing--which is good because it was quite expensive.

"Did they?" asks Kael to Keely with a little lift of his brows. "Are you certain they are not jumping _over_ the fire? It is actually quite--" And Kael? Kael pauses there a moment to clear his throat. "Perhaps it is not the best to attempt such things for you in this attire." Is Kael blaming the attire? Absolutely. "Or if you wish to leap, I might assist." As to the matter of his attire, he takes a slow and deep breath, his posture indicating that he might just be ready to correct or offer an over-explanation. Natalia's speaking though and so his focus moves to her and after a brief assessment he informs the Malvici, "I am exceptionally fortunate, yes. Even if certain sisters are inclined to pranks as well." Does Kael's tone hint at something fond? Of course. His gaze shifts back to Keely though, given that her own attire - Crownlander styling and all - is complimented.

Raja checks dexterity and athletics at normal. Raja marginally fails.

Bonnie checks dexterity and athletics at normal. Bonnie fails.

Ilira nods fervently at Edris. "You are a proper hero. Good hair is to be protected at /all costs/!" She gives Alis an intent look at that, but places her mug down on the counter beside her. "But if you'll excuse me." With way too much confidence, the dark-haired little wildling approaches the bonfire after the others.

Alis holds up her cup for inspection. "I mean, you can try it if you want." There's something impish about her smile that suggests Edris might regret it if he does. Or at least, his tastebuds might. "Ooooooh..." And, her expression falls. "You're right, it probably wouldn't count." she agrees, with perhaps a mournful sigh. And, then a nod at Ilira."I believe I've just been tasked with protecting your hair."

Of course Martino used the word 'naked' in perfectly innocent reference to his hot cocoa, and yet Keely's cheeks are suddenly ablaze with crimson flush and her eyes, doubled in size, avert from the Duke just as the color floods out into her ears. "I-I quite like it with a dash of rum and some sweetned cream," she is replying in a slight mumble, hiding her face a little against Kael's arm while she tries to recover from such scandalous Lycene talk and-- even worse-- compliments. Ah, fortunately there is Savio to save the day in more ways than one, and she flashes a half-relieved, half-concerned smile his way, because he -did- just finish wailing after all? "I am glad it is just -over-, I suppose, though it seems Very Dangerous still. I think I will just w..." She stops herself before she can say she will watch, because let's be honest, that is too stressful an undertaking. So instead she pivots to, "Just wwwait here with you and Duke Malvici. And drink hot chocolates. Do you do a whiskey in yours? I imagine that might cut the sweetness for you a bit."

Ilira checks dexterity and athletics at normal. Ilira marginally fails.

"Oh -wait-" Realising in Natalia's voice that 'sis' is something else, Martino's turning his chin to Kael to check. "Who is 'Sis' after all?" Brow furrowing a moment as the Malvici Duke sips deeper upon the hot chocolate, allowing it to warm up his core. Hearing Keely's voice, he mulls over for just a mere moment, "Mm yes, I am not sure a few drops, or a healthy amount, of Lycene Port would help. Although there has yet been a whiskey I would enjoy, and I am almost all out of all the rum in the suite." Exhaling for a moment, a laughed tone escaping in the breath of air, "Clearly someone has been snatching it from under my nose."

Bonnie dusts herself and her gloves off once more and moves towards the file "Nonsense. You are amazing and I won't hear differently." She scribbles something on piece of paper with whatever writing implement is on hand for the task.

"Oh, you can too! But I thought Lord Edris offered," Ilira calls back to Alis with a breezy laugh. "I more meant he should protect both our hair!" She turns once more to the line ahead of her to see a couple people botch the jump and covers her mouth with a gloved hand, eyes growing saucer-sized. "Oh my gods... Are you okay?" she questions from behind her palm. Gathering herself, though, she twists her long, luxuriant black hair into a loose knot at the nape of her neck and tugs her hood further down to keep it in place.

When his turn comes to hop over the fire, Savio pauses a moment to write on a paper as instructed. It must be a fond wish because he folds the paper and kisses it, before he commits it to the flames for the smoke to carry the message to the gods! When the fire hopping time comes, he does so with insouciant ease, and it wouldn't be complete without a teasing in song form toward Martinique.

"You think you're so clever
With your snowballs and your sass
Pride comes before a roasting
And you'll set fire to your --"

Oh there appears there's been some close calls, maybe. "...Everybody good?" He promises Keely even still, "This is totally safe! It's a very reasonably sized fire!" Then he rubs his hands together and invites Martinique, with amusement, "A little more difficult now, a little more flair?"

"Sis," Natalia supplies helpfully for Martino, spending a moment looking for the herd of children and the redheaded Sis trailing after them. She gestures, with her cup. "That's what she goes by. My handler." She's watching people and the fire now, only a little bit of concern in her expression. What could possibly go wrong, here? "She--we met while I was serving the Compact as a Whisper; her sister decided against staying at Whisper, went home, and instead of going after her she stayed with me."

Raja looks to the flames dubiously, then the paper. She frowns and decides to not write anything on the paper. However, after Martinique goes to jump, Raja moves to as well! However, these boots are not boots she is used to. Her footing slips just slightly and she jumps a smidge too low. The long skirt of her dress brushes into the fire, a tiny flicker of a flame igniting on the edge. "Oh by the.." Raja spins around and bats the tiny flame out. Eyeshift. Nobody saw that.. right?

Alis looks up, and bats her eyelashes dramatically (and comically) at Edris. "Will you protect our hair, Lord Edris?" She cant' help herself, it seems. She does, however, wince as several people don't quite make the jump.

Fear not Raja! Bonnie or perhaps Fortune herself has you! Bonnie follows the others but perhaps she was not taught how to jump a

"Baroness' Elwood's assistant," answers Kael to Martino, "is called Sis. She has from time to time assisted me with making choices - though I suspect that Baroness Elwood has at least signed off on some of the designs." The Keaton's attention swings back to the named Baroness in brief, once more, but eventually it is her Grayson cousin that summons his attention again. He studies Keely for a stretch in quiet, his head tilting to the side. "When I drink it," he answers her, as a simple aside. Speaking of which, he is indeed moving the several paces necessary so that he can fill one cup with hot chocolate for Keely to doctor up as she likes and takes another cup for simple adult additive alone for himself.

Fear not Raja! Bonnie or perhaps Fortune herself has you! Bonnie follows the others but perhaps she was not taught how to jump or some old war wound has clipped her wings! All that is known for certain is that Bonnie takes a running start...and slides directly into the fire! There's a sharp yelp and a scramble that kicks up embers before a still smoking Bonnie shoots out of the flames! "I'm fine! It's fine!"

A messenger comes wandering through to Sira and hands her a note, which she reads with a flat expression. Then, she quietly setting down her mug and heading out, not saying a word to anyone.

Ximon, a Cainite agent arrives, following Marena.

4 Silvershields, Elexa the reliable apprentice dressmaker, Buxby the mediocre apprentice dressmaker leave, following Sira.

You can take the knight out of the woods, but apparently it's hard for Edris to not Always Be Prepared. And so from its spot tucked into his belt, Edris does indeed have a leather hood to offer. It's cut closer to the head than most cloak hoods. "Mind your eyebrows," he says to both Ilira and Alis. "But certainly, perhaps it will help!" He will even ensure that whomever borrows it will be tied in nice and snug. No promises that hairdos will survive hood-head smushing and frizzing afterwards though. As he too watches the leapers, he mmms softly. "Perhaps I shall wait while you go, on the other side," he offers. "Just in case there's an assist needed to toss into a snowbank." He looks at Alis with a crooked smile. Clearly he would only do such a thing if it was strictly required. For safety.

Marena has only just arrived at the grounds and is sweeping her attention around to find her bearings when she sees Bonnie slide directly into a fire. "Oh," she mutters in subdued surprise at the sight. She exchanges a look with the narrow-faced attendant that follows in her wake, who shrugs as if to wordlessly communicate that he has no explanation for it.

Martinique smiles to Raja. "Ain't no thing." She raises a brief hand of objection as Sira leaves and then just bows her head a bit. Then she extends a hand towards Savio. "Let's go over it again." I mean, it's just jumping over a blazing fire, what could possibly go wrong. She'll smile at her hosts once again, because she's having a good time; she'll even smile again at Raja, the Betrayer, and at Alis and Edris whom she knows under circumstances she won't explain even under duress.

Savio checks dexterity and athletics at hard. Savio fails.

Martinique checks dexterity and athletics at hard. Martinique is successful.

There's a sharp inhale when Bonnie slides into the fire, and Natalia gathers herself up like she's going to move, but before she actually does, Bonnie is FINE and so she settles again. Whew. The laugh that escapes is a little nervous, and she looks towards Alis with a 'who knew?' sort of playful look. Because adult additives and jumping over bonfires are a great, great idea. The best of ideas.

"Oh yes!" Realising his tardiness in such, Martino's glancing away for a moment sheepish as Kael reminds him on just who Sis is with Natalia's reminder meeting him as well. "Oh, come now Baroness. You need not a handler, surely things are not -that- truly wild. It is not like I am here -that- often now. Mm?" Flickering the corners of his lips up, his position near-to the door as host draws his eyes towards Marena as the Lady Inverno is entering in. Dipping his torso to the new arrival, his Lycene tones are rolling forth to welcome her, "Good to see you Lady Marena, glad you could make it. Come, get some hot chocolate. Have you met the Marquis Kael and Princess Keely here?"

Bonnie pats herself down and examines herself to make sure nothing is still smoldering though her cheeks a bright with flush of embarrassment. She grins at Natalia and reassures "I'm just too sober. Nothing limbers one up like libation, my lady."

Raja checked dexterity + smithing at difficulty -11, rolling 75 higher.

Alis slides a sidelong glance at the Elwood Knight, impressed that he has a protective hair hood on hand just like that. "I think for once I will remain safely not jumping over the fire." she decides, conceding the wearing of the hood to Ilira should she wish to borrow it. "It might be a good idea to be ready to toss people in the snowbank based on the attempts so far." is added, as a bubble of laughter escapes with Natalia's look over at them.

While Raja and Bonnie recover, Ilira slinks up to the fire, her step as light and graceful as a cat's upon the snow. With a deep breath, she counts down just under her breath. "Three, two, one..." She jumps, clearing the fire and landing cleanly on the other side! Except, the bell-bottom hem of her left pant leg takes some of the flame with it. "Aaaaaa fuck, sh--" Her curses devolve into a string of Lycene shav after that as she stamps out the flame and scrunches a handful of snow to sprinkle over the smoldering velvet. Breathless, she rushes back to the Highlady and Lord Edris, hands a little shaky from the stress. "I jumped too soon!" she laughs, "But that's a gorgeous hood!"

Natalia has rolled 1 13-sided dice: 13

Natalia has rolled 1 12-sided dice: 1

After sparing Bonnie a lingering look to make sure nothing on her person is gouting flames, Marena turns towards Martino and gives him a decorous smile and a gracious curtsey. "Lord," she greets. "So pleased to be your guest." She flickers her iceglass blue eyes over towards Kael and Keely. "I've had the good fortune of crossing paths with them a couple of times, but regrettably not for any prolonged duration, though it was the Marquis who originally invited me to teach at the Academy, a decision I hope I haven't given him cause to regret yet," she chimes, voice like a low bell, dipped in the hues and contours of an unmistakable and unapologetic Setaran accent. "Immaculately dressed as always," she supplies to the Duke.

Natalia has rolled 1 11-sided dice: 6

Natalia has rolled 1 10-sided dice: 3

Raffle Prize Display is now unlocked.

Natalia gets A chandelier made of various antlers, A cheap rucksack containing - Sellsword's Kit, well balanced steel sword, a gold mask dangling berry purple glass and gold beads and Placards from Raffle Prize Display.

Bonnie flashes Marena a wry grin "You JUST missed me eating Embers, Lady Marena!" She eyes the gathering and wonders "Shall I try it again to redeem myself? Or give Lady Marena a sight she deserves to see?"

Savio keeps pace with Martinique and l e a p s! Is it the best leap in the world? NO. Is it an adequate leap? NO. Does it honestly kind of suck which is what he gets for making sassy little rhymes at her? YES. This is not exactly a huge dangerous fire, he's just took off a little too soon and landed a little too early, managing to set the hem of his coat aflame. He fell in to a good luck winter fire, he went down down down, and the flames went higher. "Oh, shit," Savio whispers, because it burns, burns, burns, the good luck winter fire.

What follows is the swift action of a man who has definitely set himself on fire before in the past. Coat, OFF. Into the snow. Stamp stamp. Fire situation, resolved. Smell of singed fur, ignored. Coat retrieved, picked back up, put on. He delicately dusts snow off himself and pretends everything is normal. Lacking a better explanation for what just befell him, both hands lift and he announces it cheerfully as, "Theatre!" All part of the plan, yeah.

Straightening, Kael turns to face Marena and incline his head deeply in response. "I hope that you have been well, Lady Inverno," he answers her with a flicker of a smile. "And no, no regrets. While I have stepped back from the forefront, I stand firm in my belief that sharing knowledge and tactics about the Compact is beneficial for us all. Now more than ever, but..." Here, he trails off, clearing his throat. "But," he pivots, "I shall not delve into matters of business at social events. I have _finally_ learned my lesson with that." His lips twitch. "Mostly."

Raja drops Lord Frostbutt the Frozen.

Raja is overheard praising Bonnie: Ember Eater!

Edris does indeed take up a post near the bonfire, after a quiet ask of Alis to hold his bee--hot chocolate for him. Does he look a little too pleased? He does. Who knew that he'd ever get to possibly help hurt people by /throwing/ them. Truly it's what a brawny knight dreams of. But as Ilira makes it over just fine, without anything that requires a toss. At least he has the grace to not look disappointed! But as Ilira is unharmed and while she is putting out her hem, he strolls to rejoin and reclaim his warm mug and comfortable looming spot. He bends his head to listen to Alis' quietly spoken words, just as he takes a sip of his enhanced beverage and almost immediately coughs as he swallows still very hot chocolate perhaps a little more quickly than intended.

Quietly, Natalia sets about fussing with prizes and pulling little bits out of a hat. The festivities are not interrupted; instead, prizes are offered to the staff of the attendants, or given to Elwood staff at the entrance to offer to people as they leave. Keely receives the antler decoration, the mask went to Savio, the sword was sent off with a messenger for Sira, and the bag was given to Martinique. There are a few pauses on Natalia's part as more people set themselves on fire, but no healers are needed yet so all is well.

Natalia puts Placards in Raffle Prize Display.

Bonnie is overheard praising Natalia: Fanastic hostess!

Bonnie is overheard praising Martino: Fanastic Host!

Kael is overheard praising Natalia.

Kael is overheard praising Martino.

Savio is overheard praising Natalia: As warm a hostess as the weather is cold.

Bonnie is overheard praising Savio: He has the best words and makes the best introductions!

Savio is overheard praising Martino: Care and attention to everyone, a wonderful host.

"Mm, let me see about getting you one of these hot chocolates." Martino's left hand is gesturing up to a party attendant to draw and gesture them across to Marena for a warming drink. "Oh yes, we are -quite- the lucky group here to have a few of us from the Academy." Creasing the corners of his eyes, "Perhaps I the newer member, the Baroness was convinced enough to let me join after I became Duke so I wouldn't look -too- bored listening at the war table."

"Just wait until the battle tosses happen!" Alis calls out towards Edris when he takes up snow-toss position near the bonfire. And she, with both of their hot chocolates, stand over by Natalia to continue to watch. Until he comes over to reclaim, of course. She does try not to look too smug when he coughs on his drink, even. That's difficult. "Well played, Lord Savio." she calls out, for his post-fire performance.

Marena looks in the direction of her name being called and arches one of her dark and meticulously manicured eyebrows at Bonnie. "My Lady, please don't jeopardize yourself further on my account," she entreats, doubtful it will be heeded, and no sooner has she made that request than she sees Savio leaping over the flames... sort of. Her eyes go wide when his coat catches fire but much to his credit, he's mitigated the damage (though perhaps not entirely to his coat) before she can start to react, and she exhales a soft sigh of relief to see Savio unharmed, laughing a little nervously when he cheerily trumpets the thespian display. "Quite a party," she says in an aside to Martino.

She chuckles at Kael and flickers a wink at him. "And that's a lesson I'm sure we could all stand to be reminded of, certainly including myself. I won't put you up to any more of it," she assures, taking the hot chocolate into her hands when Martino summons one of the attendants to do so.

Natalia is overheard praising Martino: Fantastic co-host; his support was invaluable.

Marena is overheard praising Martino.

Martino is overheard praising Natalia: Really was the main host. Did like all the work.

Marena is overheard praising Natalia.

Martinique straightens and leaps with Savio--it's not the first time they've done acrobatic nonsense for entirely questionable reasons, just this time Marti misses the fire Savio somewhat doesn't, and Martinique turns and helps to beat the fire out in perhaps an inappropriate way but at the same time those are good clothes that shouldn't just be burned.

"SAVIO!" Ilira squeals, but erupts into a fit of hysterical laughter at his inadvertent slapstick. Her eyes skim her friend once, thoroughly, to ensure his well-being, but she is grinning from ear to ear and still tittering. After a moment to relax and observe the festivities around her, she glides back to the hot chocolate bar and reclaims her cup, near enough to Martino's group to insinuate herself at a whim.

Alis is overheard praising Natalia.

Natalia outright rolls her eyes at Martino's words, though she smiles over his way. "I am quite certain you made me bully you into joining," she says, wrinkling her nose at him. Her tone is playful, though. She goes back to watching people light themselves on fire. "We're doing another bonfire for the first day of spring, too," she declares to those nearby. "This is...quite good fun."

Alis is overheard praising Martino.

Natalia is overheard praising Martinique.

Natalia is overheard praising Edris.

Natalia is overheard praising Alis.

Natalia is overheard praising Savio.

Natalia is overheard praising Kael.

Natalia is overheard praising Keely.

Natalia is overheard praising Bonnie.

Natalia is overheard praising Raja.

Natalia is overheard praising Ilira.

Natalia is overheard praising Marena.

Ilira is overheard praising Natalia.

Ilira is overheard praising Martino.

Natalia is overheard praising Sira.

Natalia is overheard praising Caspian.

Raja is overheard praising Natalia.

Ilira is overheard praising Savio.

Raja is overheard praising Martino.

Natalia is overheard praising Martino.

Marena is overheard praising Savio.

Savio performs a theatrical bow toward Alis, the big sweeping sort of bow, full of dramatic coat action like he didn't just try to burn it. Catching a maybe worried look to Marena, a wink follows toward her. "You should see the Saffron parties." All is well! Assuring Ilira, he adds, "I' am fine!" Although... "I need to learn to listen to Princess Keely, though."

Attention shifts toward Martinique, brows lifted, with amusement and perhaps appreciation for her assistance in her helping save him from being the wrong kind of smoke show. "You win, fair and square. It appears I owe you a favor. Anything you like. Well, there are some things I won't do and a few that I can't... but other than that, definitely a favor."

Savio is overheard praising Keely: One of the only people here with sense.

Dipping his torso to Marena in parting as she goes towards those around the flame, Martino draws his attention to Ilira as she is coming back across to him and the group around. "Ah good to see you, once more, Messere Starling. Feel like you got that energy out of you then?" Tilting his head a moment as those sharp green eyes of his angle down to her face, a low laugh soon escaping to Natalia as he is shrugging for a moment, "Could you, truly, bully me Baroness?"

Bonnie has found her way to another mug of hot chocolatey goodness. Actually she has managed to acquire four which she carries VERY carefully. One goes to Raja. One is offered to Savio and another to Martinique. Softly towards those around her "I don't know either of the hosts very well but is he asking for trouble or am I imagining it?"

"Ah, welcome then, Duke Malvici," remarks Kael with a nod of his head and a gesture over toward the Valardin Highlord. "Her Grace is also amongst us and a brilliant tactician." This is of course just offered as an aside to the host. As to Marena's commentary, Kael inclines his head to her, though he's sporting a rueful grin to go along with it. Kael's content to quiet then, sipping at his whiskey.

Alright, so lesson learned. Fire is not her friend. Raja frowns sadly at the hem of her dress that is now scorched. "That's what I get." She chuckles. Then she moves to the side while people continue to celebrate. The Culler woman begins to busy herself with.. snow! A ball is rolled up, then a second and then it is decorated to become a new winter decoration for the estate! Feeling mighty proud of herself, she puts a purple hat on the snowman and grins. "Yus.. purple is always best." Then she turns to make her way back to the party! "Oh! Thank you!" She says to Bonnie and grins, taking the warm cup. Her fingers are reddened from the cold of the snow, so the warm cup is a definite blessing.

Raja shrugs at Bonnie. "Not sure.. I wasn't paying attention.."

Savio accepts the hot cocoa from Bonnie and assures, "Duke Malvici never courts disaster, he just charms it a little."

As she is a commoner, she must choose her words, but Martinique's response is something like 'his yearning for it is far more clear than that

Meanwhile, she accepts the cocoa from Bonnie. "My Lady, Martinique Barlinnie." She will offer in return for the chocolate. Burned hems and scorched britches seem a small price to pay for a good party--and yes, purple is always best.

"Oh yes," Natalia answers Martino, her tone one of reassurance, like he might be WORRIED she couldn't bully him. "The more I like a person, the easier of a time I have with it. I don't get any satisfaction from bothering people I don't like any more; that's just mean." The smile she follows the words with is angelic, a flutter of her lashes given before she turns to go refill her mug of adult additives with a splash of hot chocolate on top. There's a brief pause when she sees the snowman Raja has created, and she beams all over again. Her face might be breaking here soon, people -- it's way, way more smiling than the Elwood Baroness is used to.

Distance granting him the chance to not hear the voice across the party from Bonnie, nor Savio or Martinique, they are all quite safe from the Duke Martino as he is sipping once more upon his drink. His sharp green eyes, though, drift across to watch someone move across the party with a swing of their hips before drawn back to the conversation. "Mm? Oh yes, and your fellow Lord Keaton as well. I owe him some time." Dipping his head to Kael as he is brought back from his gaze, laughing a little to Natalia. "Well, fairest Baroness, I should see about being bullied by you again soon." His free left hand rolling out to his co-host, fingertips on show to her as if to take her hand, "Before this winter lifts."

"/Never/." Ilira smiles and cocks her head at Martino, the Lycene glimmer in her eye somewhat undercut by the chocolate mustache on her upper lip. Her gaze drifts to the fire, settling on Savio with a subtle upnod as if to say, indeed! Mouth quirked in a lopsided smile, she turns back to the Malvici. "I'm doing good, though, Duke Malvici. It's been way too long since I've been out like this!" A delicate flush tinges her cheeks as she glances after Natalia with a kind of fond appreciation.

Bonnie huffs a soft laugh that is revealed more by tufts of steam that leave her than sound "How did you get so skilled at balancing words Lord Savio?" at Martinique's introduction Bonnie bows her head politely "Pleasure to meet you properly Mistress Martinique. Lady Bonnie Shepherd. You all are kind to allow me to shadow you a bit. These social affairs are daunting when you're a stranger in this city still."

"I am quite certain that could be arranged," Natalia agrees, slipping back over to place her free hand lightly into the one offered. "I've a great deal of stored up mischief that needs to be pointed somewhere, and I think everyone here would prefer it if I had a constructive outlet." That's punctuated by a grin towards Alis, Kael, and Edris in particular. When she spots Ilira there and speaking to the Duke, she smiles that way, too. "Hello. I'm glad you could make it out to join us, then," she says. "I'm planning on--well, more things like this soon. We need to keep our spirits up this winter."

Kael takes another drink from his beverage, his brows lifting slightly as he focuses in on the Baroness host. He eyes her from over his glass and, with his smile growing a bit, he draws a little bit closer with his Grayson escort. "So," he says quite innocently, "It is when you get _quiet_ that I should worry." Kael? Absolutely speaking as if this was news to him, just ignore the sparkle in his gaze. Her commentary regarding having a constructive outlet? That just has him snorting softly, though his grin persists.

"I would appreciate it," Ilira tells Natalia, turning into a languid recline against the bar with her mug in hand. "An event which involves dancing, perhaps?" she suggests with an almost childlike hope in her eyes.

"The trick is having so much disaster in your life that you come out funny," Savio reveals the secrets to Bonnie. "And also knowing when to," he moves his index and middle fingers in a gesture like a running little person, "Scurry away before people ask concerned questions or realize something is actually wrong with you. And on a completely unrelated note, I should be getting home. Lovely to meet you. And Martinique, good game, good game, I will get you next time." He won't. "I was too sober, this was the problem."

With that, Savio makes a departure, though several other friends and familiar faces are sent air kisses, mwah, on his way out! The smell of burned fur follows gently in his wake.

"Oh it truly -has- been too long Messere Ilira." Crinkling the corners of his eyes to the shorter Ilira beside him, Martino's angling his eyes down to her face for a moment. "Oh an event with dancing sounds excellent. I have had a little competitive streak in my recently and could do with another... outlet for such." Flickering those lips into an agreeable smile to Natalia at the suggestion to be the one pointed at, Martino's free hand is resting over his chest as the glove spreads over the worn aiguillette, "Oh I will come utterly unprepared for your worst."

Bonnie laughs and waves "It was a pleasure to meet you Lord Savio! Good luck on finding ther perfect purple protection!" She hoists her mug before taking a deep drink "This is truly divine!"

Ilira turns a moment, brings both hands to her lips, kisses her fingertips, and fans them toward Savio with an exaggerated "Mwah, mwah!" Then she twirls back to Martino and co. "Oh, really??" she beams, flashing all her rosy dimples and pearly teeth. "Someone absolutely has to facilitate this. Preferably before I leave the city again."

Martinique resumed drinking her own chocolate after she was done jumping over the fire, but leaned over to speak quietly to Bonnie a minute as she waved a fond goodbye to Savio.

"I'll see you again soon," Marena tells Savio on his way out as she steps over towards the 'adult additives' to spike her own hot chocolate. Finding herself next to Natalia. "I don't think I've had the pleasure yet, my Lady, but I'm Lady Marena Inverno and it's a remarkable event you've put together with the Duke, and for a touching cause. My compliments on it. Although an event with dancing would be welcome, too, indeed," she adds, winking at Ilira in echo.

"Dancing, and more hot chocolate, and I think we'll do it at night with candles in the snow," Natalia agrees, spending a long moment looking around the grounds before swinging her attention back. "We'll do it in the gardens though; I think that will be better for that sort of party. There's just not enough room back there for a jumping fire." She just laughs for the Duke being unprepared for her worst, offering him that angelic smile of hers that is well practiced perfect innocence. REALLY. Marena gets that smile pointed her way, too. "Oh! You convinced Lord Malespero to return to us at the Academy as a teacher; _thank you_ for that. It's wonderful to meet you, my lady. I'm glad you could make it. I've several friends who grew up in the Tragedy, so I like to do what I can."

Bonnie murmurs briefly to Martinique as well then flashes a broad grin "How do you know our colorful friend?"

Ilira all but bounces on her toes. "Ooh, ooh, we have interest!" She positively beams at Marena, though adds, "Ughh, if I had ever finished the ballroom at Fairytale Hollow, I could just host it myself. That's what I renamed Ivy Hollow, by the way, Baroness," she notes to Natalia with a smile.

"Oh write to me later, Ilira, so I don't forget. You know what happens if I have too many hot chocolate and end up distracted on the way home." Laughing a little to Ilira, Martino's lips are easily drifting up on his features before handing the mug of hot chocolate, now empty, to the serving staff. "But do excuse me." With that, Martino is dipping his torso to her before making a passing murmur to Natalia about checking up on stocks and other party-arrangements. All on route to taking his leave somewhere to hostily host.

Keely is overheard praising Natalia.

Keely is overheard praising Martino.

Marena cants her head to the side at Natalia's response, a smile forming on her lips. "Did he? I admit I'm quite surprised, it was a passing conversation and the Lord Malespero is fairly hard to read. An incredible mind. I'm so pleased to hear he'll be teaching at the Academy and I'm tempted myself to slip into one of his symposiums. Well, it was certainly my pleasure," she dips her chin in a gracious nod.

"Will do. Have a good night, my Lord," Ilira blows Martino a kiss before raising her hot chocolate to her lips and quoffing half of it with her head back. "Say more about this dance competition," she invites her remaining companions.

Alis stands up on the tip of her toes to murmur something towards Edris, waiting for his reply before turning towards Natalia. "I think it is time to warm up, without setting my arse on fire. This was so well done, though. Thank you for hosting." The words are offered with warmth and sincerity before she and her taller Elwood escort make their way out from the crowd.

Sir Rhys, a Valardin Knight, Laurene, a military adjutant, 10 Valardin Knights, Edris leave, following Alis.

It's been a party! And still is a party, though it's winding on towards later and the children have disappeared inside for quieter activities. Braziers have been brought and placed strategically around the seating areas to keep people warmer, and at some point there was food -- snack finger foods, but at least it's something solid. Natalia is snuggled into her coat and sipping hot chocolate still, surveying those few guests that have not yet abandoned her. And again, she really does look pleased. "You said earlier, you renamed Ivy Hollow to Fairytale Hollow? I'm very glad to hear you made it your own. It has been a good home?" Hopeful, that.

The children are gone! The children and Keely evidently, because she's off to warm up or the like. For himself, Kael has maneuvered to the refreshment table once more, acquired himself some more fixings - aka liquor - and is sipping on it as he travels to Natalia's side. As soon as she is mentioning Ivy Hollow there is a shift of his focus appropriately to whom Natalia is speaking to with a keen interest for whatever reason.

Marena grimaces when she realizes that she might have underestimated how stiff those pours of 'adult additives' were, but she commits to finishing her drink anyway, taking a half-step closer to the nearest brazier. Those Summer Sea sensibilities don't seem to mesh with the winter.

Ilira has perched atop the drinks counter between the pot of hot chocolate and a stack of mugs, her little red boots dangling a foot or two off the ground. Lightly swinging her legs, her own mug in hand, she says, "You gave me one of the most precious gifts I've ever received in that house," her blue eyes sparkling at Natalia. "It's become something of a phenomenon! I'm surprised our dear princess hasn't taken you to visit it, Marquis," she glances at Kael, and then toward Marena at the fire. "Lady Marena! You doing all right over there?"

"Whoever built it built warmth and welcome into the stones, I think," Natalia opines, her affection for the place clear in her tone. She tilts her head to briefly rest her temple against Kael's shoulder, then straightens and looks over in Marena's direction when Ilira speaks to her, smiles warmly. "I understand that you have also joined us as a teacher at the Academy as well," she says. "I apologize that this was our first in person meeting; I spent most of the last few seasons in Arden working on our new capital. "I am lucky my brother looks after things so well." That's directed to Kael with a bit of a tease for the "brother" in question.

Marena looks over in the direction of Ilira and flickers a wink at her. "You're very kind," she calls back. "There's nothing for my intolerance of the winter weather but to muddle through it and acclimate, I'm afraid," she acknowledges, sliding her iceglass-blue attention over to Natalia, dipping her chin in another decorous nod, ever living on the edge between Lycene salaciousness and a very high order of polite manners. "No apologies needed, my Lady. I spent some time teaching at the School of Silk and Steel, the War College in Setarco, so I'm looking forward to extending my experience there."

"I concur, though I have rather transformed it from what it once was," Ilira smiles at the Baroness, a mischievous glint in her eye. "You should come see it, sometime!" She glides her attention back to Marena, one foot jiggling unconsciously. "Oh! I could lend you my coat," she offers, gesturing at her floofy ivory sweater.

"I might not have known it as Fairytale Hollow, but I am well acquainted with it when it was known as Ivy Hollow," murmurs the Keaton, his head inclining to Ilira and there is no doubting the fondness in his tone. "It is --" and he nods to Natalia, swiftly, in agreement. "As she says, it is as if the warmth is in the stones of the home. I am glad that it has not been abandoned and is cherished so." He lifts his glass toward Ilira, as if to toast her, before glancing sidelong to Natalia. Please note that the momentary press of her temple against his shoulder is responded to with a little playful nudge, though the Keaton's expression remains as neutral as ever. Her commentary about looking after things? That has him snort softly, the tone infused with amusement. To Marena's remark regarding the Setarcan war college, she gains a curious look, followed by a dip of his head.

An odd, feline look of delight steals over Ilira's features off Natalia and Kael's words. "Very cherished," she agrees and sips her hot chocolate, which notably lacks any alcoholic embellishment.

"You're very kind," Marena reiterates to Ilira, shaking her head to demur the offer politely, and Kael's curious look doesn't slip by her. "Did I say something strange, Lord?" she asks, equal parts polite and direct.

"It -- pleases me a great deal to have the vassals of Pravus participating," Natalia tells Marena. "The challenges Setarco and her vassals have faced are in many cases dramatically different than those than the other fealties, so adding your perspective to those we have is good for everyone. We don't do as much in the naval arena as we could, but we do have some arrangements made with the Grimhall naval academy for sharing students and staff. If you'd be willing to work for exchange on occasion it could be very good for the Compact." At least she made it a few hours without talking business. There's a smile for Ilira before she tells Kael, "I was very lucky in who I found to look after the place for me, don't you think? She appreciates it as much as I did."

"No, not strange at all," murmurs Kael in response to Marena, with a shake of his head following. "It was simply that I was unaware that you are so experienced. How fortunate that you have returned to Arx and might speak to the Academy then." He tips his head toward Natalia to indicate that he wholeheartedly agrees, though her words are more finely offered than his own. As to the commentary regarding Fairytale Hollow, he nods. "Indeed," he says. "Less guilt now on my part for pulling you from it?" Look at that, Natalia earns another nudge of his shoulder before he asks Ilira, "Do you still utilize the shop portion?"

Ilira flushes a few shades deeper than usual and beams. "I do!" she replies aloud to Kael with her focus on them both, "I turned it into the Whim, but I haven't stocked those shelves in a minute," she admits with a little laugh. "Oh, but Ailys Grayheart was looking for a place to run her own shop, so I let her construct hers next to mine! She seems to have departed the city for a time, though." After another few sips of her hot chocolate, and a minute more of conversation, she sets her cup down and slides off the counter, heading over to join Marena by the fire by now burned low. "Hi," she greets as she flops down beside her.

"Ah," Marena inclines her head. "It was my mother, the Princess Adela Pravus, who encouraged me to teach in Setarco. I hadn't really thought that I might miss it until Marquis Kael was good enough to extend the invitation to do similar here in Arx. It's true that we do things a little differently in the Chain," she allows with a faint smile. "But I'm sure that's true of every region. I'd be very interested to learn more about the exchange. I've recently become acquainted with the Duke Valdemar. He's a good man, very noble." She looks sideways at Ilira who flops down beside her. "Cheers," she reflects, raising what's left of her very, very spiked hot chocolate.

Mention of the second shop has Natalia looking thrilled all over again. "Oh," she says. "If you ever need assistance in supporting that sort of materials or the like...please let me know. That's--thank you." Hearing that the gift is being paid forward clearly has the once Whisper a little overwhelmed for a moment, though she recovers swiftly. Especially given the work talk. The work talk helps. "Agreed," she tells Marena. "We'll get together sometime soon and talk about it, perhaps we can have lunch with the Duke to get it all arranged at once." Her mug is lifted for the toast before she tells Kael, "You should have no guilt at all. I am content."

Kael's grin is growing slightly as Ilira speaks. "It is funny, for as large as Arx is, it can be quite small and entwined as well. I heard word of Ailys' seeing a place for wares and," here he cuts a sidelong look to Natalia, stepping pointedly away from her just one step, as if anticipating retribution. Yes, this is the Marquis playful, "I wrote to her suggesting that she speak with Baroness Elwood. And look here, how it worked out." He punctuates this particular point to Ilira with a smile. Marena's mention of his part has him incline his head to her, though the Baroness is responded to with a, "Good." Though this is a single word answer, there is a great deal of heart behind it.

Ilira gives Marena a slow, sage nod and lowers her hood. Her thick, dark curls tumble down around her face and shoulders into a voluminous cascade over her form, pooling luxuriously upon the snow like waves of inky velvet. By firelight, her curls gleam as bright and black as a raven's wing. She grins past her hair at Natalia, a kind, lazy curve of her lips. "Thank you very much, Baroness. I'll let you know." She leans back on her gloved palms and observes the other three in conversation, flames flickering off the drops of honey diamond at her ears. At Kael's words, she lets out a short, sweet laugh and flashes him a joyous smile. "Great minds, or something!"

"That's very agreeable," Marena tells Natalia before the narrow-faced man in Inverno colors glides to her side and murmurs something into her ear. She looks up at him, and she doesn't speak, but she lifts her eyebrows and the expression on her face is universally recognizable as 'Really?' He nods solemnly.

"Well then," she supposes, rising from where she's sat next to Ilira. "Lord, Lady, Messere, your company has been a privilege and a pleasure. Thank you again," she tells the trio, curtseying to them. "I must take my leave, but I look forward to the next time our paths will cross."

Ilira flutters a velvet-clad hand after Marena. "Bye-bye, Lady," she lilts brightly, her rich, sunny soprano infused by a Saffron trill.

"It has been a pleasure; I will reach out soon, and we will get together. Thank you for coming," Natalia tells Marena first, bowing her head respectfully to go with her words. She lazily swings her mug after Kael like to smack him with it, though she doesn't quite connect. "The day you stop sending me work, I will worry," she tells him. "Good," she says for Ilira. "I'm so glad you made it here, and we finally got to spend a bit of time."

"So it seems," says Kael in response to Ilira, smiling to the woman once more. When the man in Inverno colors comes forth, Kael takes a half step back to allow the exchange to proceed without him lingering near. However, when the lady makes with her goodbyes, he bows his head deeply in a polite motion. "It was a pleasure seeing you once more," he murmurs. Evidently, even with his head bowed, he has a keen enough perception. For you see, Natalia makes as if to smack him, and of course she does not make contact, but he teeter-totters off to the side as if she might have struck him with some grand force. It is a brief thing, mind you, and he comes up with a straight stand thereafter as if nothing at all happened.

Marena givess the remaining assembled another collective dip of her head. "Cheers, friends," she imparts with finality, and then she begins to leave in the company of the narrow-faced attendant.

Ilira's mirth lingers, in her eyes and on her lips, a smile never truly fading from her face. She inhales a breath of the smoke and snow and says, "So, you two want to come by sometime soon? I could...possibly host a thing, before the city falls into another lull." Contemplation flickers over her flame-kissed features.

Lifting her nose, Natalia gives a melodramatic snotty sniff when Kael nearly falls. Serves him right, hrmph. She laughs after though, nods agreeably to Ilira. "I would love to see what you have done with the place, yes. And I would very much enjoy attending a party there, if you would like to host one. It would be very good for me, I think."

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