Nov. 11, 2023, 2 p.m.
Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Malespero Tower - Grand Parlor
Comments and Log
Angelo offers a wan smile to Apollo. "The best poetry leaves its mark, either to wound or heal the heart," he offers in return. "Though I'd enjoy meeting the physician who can have as much effect upon the organ as the right word at the right moment." Though his gaze does briefly follow Apollo's and he nods to Medeia in greeting. "Lord Angelo DiFidante. And... you sound very busy." His tone an observation of the thing, though with that touch of a smile anew.
13 House Velenosa Guards, Ibasia, the Velenosa Lady-in-Waiting, Ellani, the palm sized spider arrive, following Jaenelle.
Jan blinks and stares at Angelo, starting to laugh and then coughing as her laughter causes a bit of her snack to tumble down the wrong pipe. She lifts a reassuring hand she's fine and covers her mouth with a sleeve.
Aconite remains nestled by the fire, relishing both her wine and the delicate pastries. Her large, black eyes continue their leisurely survey of the room, a small yet content smile gracing her regal features. In the comforting warmth, the Whisper seems momentarily content, finding pleasure in the simple act of being warm and observing her surroundings.
Apollo looks so sympathetic, in that moment. "I would direct you to my wife," he says, glancing over at Lianne in indication, "both poet and Physician, capable in all such things. But Lady Medeia here is as well. However busy she stays." That last, half directed at Medeia as cheek-kisses are reciprocated in kind. "Your company is a balm," he tells her; then, to Angelo, he offers a bit of a bow. "Duke Apollo Malespero," he says. "Very pleased to meet you, Lord Angelo. I'm very fond of your Marquessa. I hope you'll convey my regards."
As quietly as he disappeared from social life, Duarte just as quietly returns to it. He glides in in understated fashion looking very drab in thick gray wool speckled with snow. Atop his head is a snow drenched voluminous jet black wig with curly tresses that frame his face and cascade down between his shoulder blades. (It really brings out the black of his eyes). His first endeavor is to stand quietly apart, near the entrance, as he peels away that outter layer and drapes it across the waiting arms of Harlen, his younger attendant.
Lianne probably ought not flop down beside Khanne with guests filling the parlor, more arriving still. She has responsibilities as host, does she not? And still, she settles a moment beside the redhead, tips a cheek to her shoulder, that smile so dificult to see from this angle, and murmurs, "I know." She tips a look up at Khanne, a weight of so very many words in that fleetingly pensive expression, but it'll hold. Another smile, and she tells here, "I'm glad you're here, my Dawn."
And, with that, the Duchess is on her feet, a grateful look cast to Apollo, already making friends and mingling. Her smile brightens for Aconite, such delight in the way she greets her as, "Radiant," with a slight dip of her head, pleasure in that change since she was last in the capital. More broadly, then, "Friends, strangers, poets and voyeurs," voice raised to address the gathering crowd. "I'm so glad you all chose to come warm our home today. I hope /some of you/, at least, care to read poems, but I'll fault none of you who choose to keep your stories to yourselves. Take a moment to settle in, to make acquaintances, enjoy a snack. My favorite lemon tree is fruiting quite bountifully this year, and the cook's work with citrus is exceptional. Highly recommend the cookies."
Neviah slinks in, not quite edging the gathering, but far from its heart. She wears nothing worth a second glance unless it were to note its loose-fit, its common fibers. Her dark hair hangs in twirling, careless clumps from beneath a woolen cap. She is probably not a local.
She stoops some as she makes her way in, pausing here and there to speak to the more clearly commoner attendants to the nobility, a sibilance repeated in those pauses that resolves into the word "haze" preceding a question mark for some ears.
Pasquale watches people trickle in from his prime position near the fire as he slowly makes his way through a lemon tart. His eyes attentive.
Angelo turns his head briefly as Apollo directs his gaze, and a smile for Lianne after a moment when attention is called to her, though whatever words that he might have in greeting to her, he holds back while she's making introduction. "Your wife and I are known to each other, my lord, and it is a pleasure to meet you as well. Thank you as well for your hospitality," he offers, quieter, as if loathe to break the spell being cast with the opening address. Jan gets a look - concerned, not annoyed, at the sputtering and the wave-off. And then he makes use of his tea cup again as he peeks around.
Aconite stands, finally free of the importantbusiness of inhaling citrus flavored everything, does stand and give a sweeping bow to the Nobles and a slightly deeper curtsey for Jaenelle. "Duchess, it's lovely to see you." Khanne and Apollo, are also given a quick warm smile. After her greetings the Whisper is flowing back into her poised lean toward the fire.
Aconite stands, finally free of the importantbusiness of inhaling citrus flavored everything, does stand and give a sweeping bow to the Nobles and a slightly deeper curtsey for Jaenelle. Then to Lianne, "Duchess, it's lovely to see you." Khanne and Apollo, are also given a quick warm smile. After her greetings the Whisper is flowing back into her poised lean toward the fire.
Jan remains quiet, settled beside Pasquale and giving him a mildly surprised look at the turnout.
"Busy?" Medeia gives Angelo an amused look. The matter of how occupied she is dropped after a slight shake of her head accompanying a wry smile. "Do let me know if yoy find yourself feeling faint, mm?" There's a wink, maybe, before she flashes a wider smile to Apollo and slips off to mingle more. Duarte earns a murmured "Count, it is good to see you," as she moves past him, dipping her chin respectfully. Her next stop is Lianne, one hand lightly settling on the duchess' upper arm in a silent greeting - she doesn't linger, allowing other guests to say hello. Ultimately, she lands somewhere near Pasquale and Jan, leaning in to say something softly to the Kennex woman.
Duarte cants his head to one side and with the back of his finger tips tosses some length of hair behind his shoulder. A passed off mutter to Harlen before the boy trots off. Medeia is offered slight nod and muted, "and you..." to return her sentiment. Then Duarte drifts farther into the parlor to eventually land in soft silk cushions.
Duarte has joined the a circle of plush silk cushions.
Jaenelle enters the familiar tower, smiling towards both Lianne and Apollo as she does, informing the pair, "I have you both on the list." They know what list! Then a dip of her head is directed towards Aconite in response to the curtsey, her smile as warm as it was for the previous pair, "you are well?" She notes Khanne at the same time as she does Aconite and without asking first she takes the seat beside the woman and leans against her in a silent greeting before she does actually speak, "hello Apricot."
Jan flashes Medeia a grin and then her expression smooths and she leans in to say something casually.
The corner of Pasquale's mouth quirks upwards a touch at Angelo's fine words. His eyes going onto Jan after a few moments to murmur "Lianne's events are legendary." he nods to Medeia. "Medeia."
Jaenelle has joined the a circle of plush silk cushions.
"Excellent," is Apollo's answer to Angelo; what could be lovelier than knowing Lianne, after all? The warmth of his smile suggests that. "Don't miss the cookies, my lord," he says, before giving a slight dip of his head and slipping along to other greetings. Ghosting after Medeia, as it turns out, because he's also greeting the count. "Count Duarte," he says. "It's been too long." And then to Jaenelle, a bow. "Your grace. I am so looking forward to it." And to Aconite: "Radiant Aconite, now, is it?" A bright smile splits his face. "I'm so pleased to hear it."
A sullen Neviah settles for lemon cake and mulled wine and finds an unclaimed cushion to further settle into. Some of the sullen dissipates, accompanied by an appreciative lift of her brows, with that first bite of cake.
Eyes Duarte as he enters, watching him a moment but not drawing attention to him otherwise, as he seems to favor the understated entry at the moment. Soon, she is leaning against Lianne with a smile and reaches for her hand to offer a squeeze. "I am glad I am here as well, and glad YOU are here." She lets the Duchess up then, to play the part of amazing hostess that Lianne is.
This seems like a good time to get some snacks to munch on while listening to poetry. Khanne rises to get a plateful of different lemony treats, taking at least a sampling of most items then fillinf a vessel with whiskey and tea for drinking. After returning to her seat, Jaenelle joins her. The nickname gets a chuckle and a smile. "Hello, my dear Jaenelle.
Angelo does offer a hint more of a smile when Apollo speaks of the cookies. "I shan't," he assures the duke with a lift of his plate to demonstrate that he's already, indeed, availed himself of the buffet of things. Pasquale's look has not been missed, answered with the brief nod of his head. But he does look over the room for some moments, the faint shrink back to the wall, as he looks around. Getting the temperature of the room.
Medeia's response to Jan comes with narrowed eyes and a sharp sound to the inaudible words. She looks up, giving Pasquale a small smile. Then, to Jan, there's a muttered, "Maybe." Oh look! More mingling! The lady moves away to greet Jaenelle and Khanne. "Archduchess, Duchess." Again, no lingering. She keeps moving until there is a quieter spot to be found and settled into it.
Aconite nods in Apollo's direction, "Somehow!" She jokes with a sotto laugh. She moves her glass of wine to rest on her crossed knee. "It's a pleasure to see you both again." Her eyes trail to Medeia curiously before turning to the Duke, "When I learned that the Duchess was hosting an event I was overjoyed. It's been far too long."
"And you," Lianne answers Aconite. "I would love to sit with you, sometime soon." It holds a promise of letters later, of intention tipped toward action. There might be a sly smile turned toward Angelo, a dip of dark lashes which may read flirtatious. Or maybe just knowing. So fleeting, who's to tell. Jaenelle's arrival is met with a bright smile, surprise dancing with delight in her eyes... if only for a moment, a remark by Pasquale pulling her focus. "Let's set that bar lower, mm? My events are /frivolous/ and full of fancy words. Nothing more." And lemon tarts, too, but they don't need second mention. When her attention returns to the Archduchess, her smile's softer, but her words carry as she tells her, "I can't wait." Over, then, her gaze drifts toward Duarte who merits a smaller smile which seems all the deeper for its quietude. Not unlike the grateful look she angles Medeia for her subtle greeting, that note just right.
The duchess takes a breath, a moment to acclimmate to the crowd, to the warmth of the room, full of friends, to let it all settle. Then, she moves nearer the center of the room and asks, "Shall we begin?" She means /we're beginning/. "It's been quite some time since I've been here in the capital. It's so strange returning, seeing both how little and how much has changed, recognizing how much--and how little--/I've/ changed. While I hope we might look at poetry today which speaks to that feeling, seeing both change and sameness, what stays steady as we grow, I'll revel in any and all verse you want to share with us today. So. That said. Who'll go first?"
Mind, she looks perfectly prepared to take up the task, but there is challenge written in her posture, in the way her gaze sweeps the room with expectant mischief. Maybe she'll be surprised.
Jan looks around "I am shocked there are so many poetry lovers." She studies Pasquale "At this rate I might have to adjust my assumption that you're weird."
Caspian slips in quietly, not wishing to disturb those already speaking. he is relieved to find the group only just starting, a smile blossoming on his face as he spies familiar faces. Waves given, the man finds a seat and plops down, shaking himself slightly as the chill ebbed off him.
From his floor-lounging position, Duarte curls his wrist and twirls his arm toward Apollo, bending at the abdomen whilst doing so - a sort of courtly bow with his other hand posted to the ground so as not to topple over. "To rouse me from chambers, I can think of no greater draw than the present gathering, my lord. Thank you and the Duchess for inviting us to your home. And welcome back. I trust the waters were steady." (Speaking of frivolous and fancy words)
He's leaning back now, with both palms posted, attention to Lianne as she speaks. At her prompting for a 'first', he looks around to see who is brave enough to take up the task.
"Lady Medeia," Jaenelle greets the fleeting woman as she does a drive by, the words accompanied with finger wiggles and everything. She turns towards Khanne to ask, "will you be sharing something?" If Jaenelle notes Lianne's surprise look at her appearance she does not comment on it, only offering a softer smile to meet her own as she looks towards her sister in law as she stands before the gathered. She looks then towards Angelo as he moves off to the side, and tsks at his melting into the surroundings while patting one of the available areas closer, "what of you? Do you have anything amazing to share? I was reading in my journals the other day and I found something I had written about souls."
"Perhaps I am biased." Pasquale says in response to Lianne's words. He seems about to leave it there but Jan goes and makes her quip and he responds with a single soft little laugh. "Perhaps it is you that is weird Jan."
Khanne dips her head to Medeia as she and Jaenelle are greeted, offering a smile. "Lady Saik, it is good to see you." Jan's words catch Khanne's ears and she looks that way with a chuckle. "The poetry events within the city have always been well attended. Perhaps you are weird for just discovering this?" She gives the woman a wink, it's meant to be a teasing jest.
Shaking her head, Khanne says to Jaenelle, "not today, I am afraid. I have another matter to attend to in a bit and can't stay long, sadly. You?"
Angelo favors Lianne in return with a warmer smile, and the brief dip of his head in return from where he's resting. Though the dart of his gaze to Jaenelle at the sound, the fade of the smile slightly though it never quite disappears. "I would never declare, your grace, any words I have to share as 'amazing'. They are but my words, regardless of their quality, and I leave it to others and history to judge."
Jan just gives Pasquale a broad grin, apparently just fine with being the weird one.
Lianne has joined the line.
"Are they ever?" Apollo wonders of Duarte, bright mischief in his eyes. To Aconite: "It has been," he says, voice laced with warmth and gravity that somehow manages not to descend at all into -regret-; it seems the time in Nilanza, seeing to the affairs of the Duchy, has done him, perhaps them, well. There's a look at Lianne with that expectant challenge; a sort of commiseration and curiosity. Will there be someone to step up before the host? Oh, he has _his_ poetry ready; perhaps he thinks it better that they allow a guest to start. Or her. He could just be deferring to her.
Jaenelle has joined the line.
Apollo has joined the line.
Neviah has joined the line.
Pasquale has joined the line.
Lianne's smile warms as she drinks in interest and intention, knowing she won't be alone in sharing verse today. Still, she's here. She's the host. She'll go first. "I'm not certain this one's done. It feels unpolished, but it says enough." Does it? She seems to waver on that note a moment, like she might have whole volumes left to write on this topic and this is just enough for one day, for now. Without further delay, she draws up, chin lifted, and recites:
"Our city is not empty.
In it grows a garden of ghosts. A dozen
gardens. A hundred! A whole history of
life lived and not entirely left behind.
The whiskey-blossoms burn & bite, briars overgrown, hiding
a warm fire on a cold night, a guiding light, gate labeled
My Rage Does Not Abate.
It could use some pruning.
This one too: bluebells ringing bright notes above
a clatter of scattering pieces, upheaval repeated,
needed, never enough to cut back the wallow-weeds
choking the life from me.
I'm not that corpse anymore.
But there, I see it: the shape of an absence amid
a weeping whisper of violin, among blooms of
blood & bandages, my death born of obsession
and sentiment, that specter a self
I never meant to surrender.
Let's linger instead where the stained glass
hummingbirds flit among flame-flowers, where
the gates are forever thrown open, cathedrals
written & rewritten, metaphors mixed & messy,
hope holding, hard-fought, hard-won--
our countless gardens growing as one."
The duchess flicks a look toward her duke-consort at the end there, but it's brief. Just a glance before she smiles to the room, invites, "Archduchess, would you care to share your piece next?"
Turn in line: Lianne
Turn in line: Jaenelle
"Then clearly both Lianne and I expect love poems sent by messenger after you find a moment's peace from your busy schedule. I am excited," Jaenelle tells Khanne with a grin as if clearly its become a thing and no amount of other things can stop this particular thing from happening ever. There is a bright smile in Angelo's direction afterwards, "I would like to think most words are amazing for the simply ability to share them with others. Now that isnt to say all words should eb shared at every moment, or with everyone, but I do like to hear them." Then it seems as if it is her turn to share her own words, right after Lianne, and she looks towards the Duchess and sighs heavily, "that is cheating and how am I supposed to go after you?" This causes her to look back towards Angelo then, "I see what you mean now. I clearly lack the amazingness," she teases. Still she begins her short verse.
"The dark, the light, the shreds of hope which are ripped apart at the seams.
The desperate way the strands call out, the weaves lost in a dream.
The delicate strands will once more be whole and return upon the wheel.
One by one each gathered close; to mend, repair, and heal.
A silent moment shared in faith; to mourn to cheer, to know.
The humbling knowledge with which neither willingly bestowed.
The tiny ember will turn to spark, that spark will turn to flame,
And slowly in time, that which you lost, will once more be reclaimed."
Jan looks around to see how the others react to the poems, lifting her hands as if to clap and then slowly lowering her hands and leaning over to sneak another tart from the tray.
Aconite leans away from the fire, captivated by Lianne's poem, her usual wide-eyed earnestness shining through. "Evocative," she commends Lianne with a soft clap and a gentle clasp of her gloved hands in her lap. The Whisper's response is sincere, an acknowledgment of the emotive power embedded in the poem presented. Then she turns to Jaenelle giving her lines as much attention as she had Lianne.
Duarte has joined the line.
Turn in line: Apollo
Medeia sips her wine and listens to the first two poems. She's attentive to both Lianne and Jaenelle, her gaze settling on the women as they speak. When the archduchess has finished, the ladybisnledt looking down into her lap, silently contemplative.
Oh, what joy Apollo finds in Lianne's verse; there's more than enough recognition, whether of themes or of specific turns of phrase. But what one person finds in the poetry of another is a private thing, only shared as much as the warmth on his features meets the glance flicked his way. He catches Jan's inclination to clap, the way she stops herself - and then tips his head toward the Radiant in indication, offers a dose of brief applause of his own, as if to say: if you are so moved, it can't be wrong, Radiant knows what she's about.
Then he turns attention to Jaenelle, a brief softness when she disclaims her amazingness. His applause for her is no less, and there's a warmth and sympathy on his features that suggests he might understand something about where her verse came from, too. Maybe that's just his face. "Your grace, you've been keeping a wonderful talent to yourself." His eyes skim the crowd; he gestures when he sees Neviah is ready.
Lianne appreciates how Jaenelle advocates for love poetry later, her delight delayed. Can she hold Khanne to a promise someone else has made on her behalf? She might try. When she invites Jaenelle up so soon after her, she /does/ have the good grace to bow her head apologetically, but it's balanced with impish gratitude glinting in her green eyes, surety that the Archduchess will not disappoint. Slipping off to the side, she snacks a lemon cookie, turns a smile toward Aconite, and falls quiet to listen. Perhaps she ought to applaud? Instead, the second poem shared leaves her thoughtful, mulling on the meaning.
Angelo listens with bated breath to Lianne's verse, lingering to listen, attentive and quiet. When Jaenelle addresses him to speak of words, he does speak up, soft and respectful, "I agree on the matter of the *power* of words, though as you said. It's the art of choosing the right ones, working with them, letting them shape the moment." He lapses into silence, though, to let her give her verse breath, and as if to ensure he speaks up not for the moment, he busies his mouth with his tart.
Neviah licks crumbs from her fingertips and sets down her goblet before rising to her feet. She is still wearing the cap. "Retrospective." The word is announced, full voice, with the remainder dispensed a touch quieter. "My Ouma dead." Pause. "Our forest dead." Pause. "Our home lost, loosed me to become lost, too." Pause. "And in the bag I carry?" She asks, and pauses. "Ouma and the woods." Pause. "Home." Pause. "Me." Pause. "Neviah." Pause. "Whole in the bag." Pause. "Here." Pause. "Here." Whined into the pause. "Changed by loss." Pause. "Lost in change." She touches the edge of her hat, the flat of her palm resting on her cheek, sliding down to her jaw before falling to dangle.
At that jolt of retracted descent, Neviah turns to leave the nexus of focus. She snags another cake and another goblet of wine before returning to her cushion.
Khanne smiles at Jaenelle and dips her head. "I promise," she assures her of the expected love poems. She then listens intently to Lianne as she begins to recite her poem. When a garden of ghosts is mentioned, she arches her brows and nods slowly. "That is certainly the case," she speaks softly. She falls silent after, being further drawn into Lianne's words. "Oooh..." she murmurs as Lianne finishes. "Your words never fail to move me, Dusk."
Jaenelle's reading is next, and Khanne gives jsut as much attention to her words as well. The ending of this one draws lips into a grin. When Jaenelle returns to her seat, she leans in and murmurs, "like husbands returned from the dead. It was beautiful, Jae."
Caspian listened to the words, his mind roaming with each given phrase. a smile tugged at his lips as the poems did more than simply sound good. They drew for contemplation.. and that was the real reason people came to these right?
Turn in line: Neviah
Jan eyes PAsquale "You waited until NOW to make that suggestion?!" Her eyebrows lift and she stares at Pasquale.
Apollo rises with the end of Neviah's poem, offering applause and - if she allows - a brief hand on her shoulder once she's settled. A tear, it seems, wants for acknowledgement, even in (or perhaps preferably in) silence. He opens his journal, and says, "This seems terribly indulgent, now, but - this comes in parts. I hope you'll bear with me.
He clears his throat, and reads:
Below the scorching sun she bursts out the door
like she's being chased, or chasing.
Laughter paints the sky all the colors of delight.
She calls to me to follow.
Under the moon his dreams turn dark.
His footfalls on the stair, quiet as cats, restlessness to share.
The first I know of it is his hand at my shoulder,
his urgent whisper, laced with apology.
I am become joy and remedy;
their summons, my favorite name.
What faith it takes to leap.
Not from any cliff, no water far below;
I find it in the name we share.
This name is _brethren_;
a craving scarcely understood 'til tasted.
A place at a table; soles on a ship.
The water rises, and I with it.
To become is to grieve an unbecoming.
Kind then, a room to pour that mourning;
a name to quiet my bloodied heart.
Five.What's fallen and cracked might not need mending
but somewhere to sprout.
Don't call me by your name:
there's one to teach me how to be alive.
Low: a name for a place, not a child.
Low: a name for a mourning sound.
_Below:_ I was.
We were ever at the crossroads;
I find myself there yet, again and again.
A name rarely spoken, but never entirely shed.
Perhaps a name I knew before;
this mouth has never spoken.
Carved away, letter by letter;
like flesh, a face, like forever."
Strange thing, with that somewhat macabre and unsatisfied end, that Apollo seems so _satisfied. He gives a dip of his head, then gestures to Pasquale.
After giving a slight shrug to Jan, Pasquale turns towards the group. "There is an ancient poem." Pasquale he starts to explain "That has been mostly forgotten." He inclines his head towards Jaenelle. "A poem first told to me by the ever benevolent Jaenelle. I thought that it might suit today. Although it lacks something when compared to the other offerings." He clears his throat.
"A place of sorrow, a place to mourn,
a place to bid farewell,
But in that place hope was born,
to fight the legions of hell.
A place to keep the dead at rest,
was where we fled the strife,
For the Reckoning was our greatest test,
And we'd guard not the dead but life.
For Silver knew no folly nor game,
Nor jest that could compare,
To saving life in the Queen's name,
Of the masses in her care.
And so she fought and so she stood,
Fighting through the night,
For saving others was a simple good,
Even if it meant dying in the light.
With silver knights and silver coin,
we honor that gallant fight,
It s her home she had us join,
This place was hers by right.
And so in Arx we build and make,
a haven now made a home,
And we honor those who will not wake,
In prayer, in coin, in tome.
Thank you for the Silver Gift,
As Arx was long ago called,
You worked to mend the growing rift,
Between Elves and the children of Skald."
Jan glowers at Pasquale until he shares his poem and then her head tilts and she listens curiously, brow furrowing a bit.
Aconite is entranced by Jaenelle's post and every subsequent offering, the interested look on her face on the cusp of banality. However, The Radiant demonstrates a genuine interest in each poem, her focus unwavering on the speaker throughout, only diverting her gaze momentarily to indulge in a sip of her wine. In the subtle cadence of her attention, it becomes evident that she finds genuine appreciation in the poetic expressions shared around the gathering.
Turn in line: Pasquale
Angelo but exists where he's listening to each poem as it's offered, retreated to the quieter corner for the moment near the refreshments, with keen attention to the words. But so motionless one might well think him a statue, save for how those keen eyes turn to watch each speaker on their approach and repeat in turn.
Very quietly, Medeia stands and deposits her glass, slips around the edges of the gathering toward the library, and retreats within to collect her things from where she had left them earlier. She does her best not to disturb anyone on her way out.
2 Saik Guard, Celina, a dutiful physician's assistant, Giancarlo, a cooper and prize-fighter leave, following Medeia.
Turn in line: Duarte
Jaenelle laughs and shakes her head towards Apollo, "I am not poet, though in the quiet moments I do enjoy writing from time to time. It is a guilty pleasure to take trips to Lenosia and get list in my library for days. I suppose the secret is out now so if you cant get in touch with me, that is where you'll most likely find my body in the end." She listens to those who come after, her attention focused much like a child being read a story. That attention shifts when Pasquale speaks, and her features soften and a hand touches her heart as if the poem itself means the world to her. "I have not seen her in some time, but I know she is watching us." Because of course Silver is.
Duarte gives light claps from softly gloved hands for each brave presenter. Starting with Lianne, whose outline seemed to hook him from the first line. The mention of things like rage, corpse and blood acting like discordant hooks - upper extensions on chords - to keep his attention invested.
Due reverence is paid the Archduchess when she speaks, as well. His to-now more or less inscrutable mien softened by the close of a promise to reclaim what's been lost - in time - no matter how slow.
Neviahs has him smirk at the metre, less so the content, eliciting his first comment - simple word, "Brave."
Apollo's offering is met with a wide grin for the man and his words. Duarte seems to enjoy the simply counting motif, and claps the loudest for this.
Pasquale's poem bring Duarte back to sobriety as he listens to suss meaning from it, but recognition crosses his features when the close comes. "Loved that one, my lord," he praises when Pasquale wraps up.
"It seemed to fit." Pasquale replies when Duarte praises the choice. A small smile is given to Jaenelle. "Perhaps we can trade poetry tomes and help save you the trip."
Jan follows Duarte's example and offers a polite golf-clap, her gaze focused though at points it's clear she may not always understand the true meaning of all the poems but she is attentive!
Tilting her head, Khanne listens to Neviah next with a thoughtful expression. Her lips pucker in a bit of a frown of compassion, nodding and snapping her fingers in appreciation for the poem before Apollo steps up next. He gets a very intrigued look as she takes in the poem. Pasqualle is given her attention next. His get a small smile and her hands come together, clasping before her with a nod.
Lianne turns a fond smile Khanne's way, a nod dipped in her direction in silent acceptance of the compliment. The mention of dead husbands catches her interest, confirms something she thought she saw at the Assembly of Peers, lengthens the list of things to discuss when away from crowds. Neviah's performance--as that's more than mere recitation--catches her curiosity, verdant attention tracking the unfamiliar face after; another mental note made, surely. But her husband's up next, indulgent as ever, and her expression grows warm again. It's by part three that her mood has deepened, that she's found the thread, eyes growing glassy, chin lifted in defiance of that feeling. By the time, then, that his is finished and the next, she's found a perch on the outskirts where she needn't play hostess, taken up a glass of whiskey, and settled into contented wallflowering. Tsk.
Duarte uses his arms to extend himself upwards and back to a standby, wobbly at first, but he eventually makes it. He takes a moment to brush away delicate errant strands of wig hair from his face.
"One might think in my recent years of reclusion, I would perhaps give time to even a modicum of exercise of creative endeavors." he shrugs to offer an excuse, "Well it hasn't been the case." he clears his throat in a manner to suggest his discomfort of eyes on him and his manner is somewhat quivery. "In either case, lords and ladies, I have been somewhat fascinated by the use of song to impart tradition and histories completely aside from purely artistic expression. So perhaps I'll try my hand in that vein - as the artful and expressive hasn't befallen me in an age."
Beneath the veil where secrets smirk,
A spectre plays at hide and work.
From a rascal imp to grandeur's light,
In shadows prancing, thinks he's quite a sight.
A Master of memory's jest,
In his realm, a bumbling quest.
Gobbling up tales with his name,
Twisting pasts, a child's game.
More than just a shadow's grin,
An idea dressed in tinsel - thin.
In the vaults where whispers snore,
He dreams to rule, but what a bore!
Yet in this comedy of fears,
A glaring joke shines crystal clear.
Thirsty for a clapping tent,
Might just be his own descent.
In the masquerade of dark and light,
He'll stumble upon his own fanciful plight
A paradox, an amusing snore,
In tales once told, now nevermore.
Aconite remains enrapt by the readings, to such a point that it leaves her in a thoughtful fugue for a short while as she digests the various poems. Duarte's makes her smile grow a bit and by the end of it she's sipped her wineglass dry. She blinks out of it after a few long breaths. "Thank you.." She looks at thos who've recited for the gathering.
Caspian claps his hands together with a smile. "Well done! excellent work!" he cheers merrily, always thrilled to hear the works of others as he fishes out a flask and takes a small drink.
Angelo sets down his emptied tea cup and plate, which frees his hands that he might applaud those who've had the courage to offer up their verse.
Jan leans over and wonders towards Pasquale "Did everyone write their own for this?"
At the mention of dead husbands, Jaenelle asks, "whos?" There are so many and in her case she has a few of her own. She was not at the assembly to note Khanne's, and there might be a little worry that it could be one of her's which isnt that odd considering the Lyceum and Jaenelle's connection to the Deathspeakers.
Apollo has a bit more applause for Duarte, and a tipped grin that seems to say: of course his verse would feel as if it came with a wink. "Very nice, Count Duarte," he says. Is he drifting wife-ward? Well... maybe. "Have we got anyone else who'd like to share a bit of verse?"
"I didn't." Pasquale tells Jan. "But I believe everyone else did."
Angelo blinks and looks slightly to Jaenelle at her response to Khanne's mention of dead husbands... and then settles. But he turns his attention to Apollo, at the asking if others have verse to share, then looks about the chamber.
"Artful and expressive is most of what I've known you to be," Lianne counters warmly to Duarte on the wake of his contribution. She leaves room for other things unmentioned. With a lift of her whiskey, she toasts to, "Nevermore," with a hint of steel in her voice, suspecting she's caught the substance of that poem. And, with that, she draws from the wall and looks about those gathered. "You are all remarkable, exceptional both in your creativity and kindness, and I've learned a little more about all our poets and performers today. The floor remains open, as it were, should anyone else wish to share." She nods toward Apollo, having echoed his invitation, but she also offers an out. "Elsewise, you're all welcome to stay a while and talk. Gods know I've got plenty of catching up to do with several of you."
Just... give her a moment. She needs to have a quiet exchange with Fajra, a curious look cast toward an unfamiliar guest. A brief exchange, and then she's off to mingle.
At the last word of 'nevermore', there's the sound of a crow topped cane rap rap rapping on the floor to the grand parlour as a crowned figure says in a low voice, "Oh, but I have one." to answer if anyone else have a poem.
Khanne watches Duarte with piqued interest. Seeming impressed, she nods as he speaks. "Many of these poems will linger in my mind... there's a lot to think about within them. A lot of hope seen amidst darkness. A lot of strength and determination... all have been so beautiful." She then grins at Jaenelle. "Mine. Well, we thought he was dead anyway."
Jan looks up at the man in the mask with a small frown. She pushes to her feet somewhat warily and her slate gaze sweeps the room to Lianne then Pasquale to see how they receive this latest visitor.
Apollo turns at the tap-tapping of the cane, and gestures broadly in invitation. "Please, do share," he says. "Verse, company, refreshments." As if it isn't at all unusual to have a masked person enter their home. Sheesh.
Aconite stretches as if to shake away the stillness of being enrapt. She looks to speak towards Caspian but the figure in the mask make the Whisper's brow raise. "Is there a title?"
"I thought I saw him at the Assembly," Lianne notes to Khanne with some concern. "Make no mistake, I'm glad for it..." But, let's be honest, it's perplexing. But someone else has offered to share. She turns a look to the stranger with the cane, tips her glass their way and gladly invites, "Please." Troubling topics can hold a moment.
Neviah has been far too into the refreshments to clap, but each performance was given the whole of her attention. In time, she's simply no longer amongst the crowd.
Angelo turns his head to regard the newcomer at word of the offering up of another poem. A dip of his head and a rise as he takes in the attire, his expression saying it all - he appreciates the effort for setting a tone.
Jaenelle gives the person in the mask a look that can only be explained as 'behave' when they speak up to state they wish to share. She has perfected this look. She reaches over to squeeze Khanne's hand, as there are a mixture of emotions from that information. Its complicated! "I hope you get the answers you seek and you find the happiness that is deserved."
Pasquale catches Jan's hand before she can make it to her feet and draws her back down into her seat. "Please, do share." he says in a repeat of Apollo's words.
Caspian turns to look at the figure who spoke up, the request to share a poem seemingly innocuous until he spied the figure. his brow arched and he glanced to Aconite as she queried for the title before looking back to the figure and cocked his head, waiting for an answer.
Jan relaxes a touch when Lianne extends the invitation and gives a soft grunt as she's pulled down giving Pasquale a puzzled look.
The line has been dismissed by Apollo.
Khanne nods to Lianne, taking a deep breath and nodding. They can talk about it another time. Jaenelle too gets a half-smile and a reassured, "thank you," as she leans in a bit.
Duarte does bow and eventually reclaims his cushion on the ground. He looks to the masked arrival and...well, the cane mostly. "What a lovely ornamentation. Where might I acquire such a thing? My knees - you know?"
Khanne looks to the masked individual as well, curiousity at peak levels now.
As the shadowy elven figure is given leave to share, it bows to all gathered. "My thanks. You asked for a reflection on what has changed and what remains. On the stillness of the past, the chaos of the present, the unknown horizon of a future which might be. Life. Here is my answer to your call."
There is silence, and then it speaks. As it does, it walks among those gathered, some might even get something whispered to them. But the words said have a mixture of doom and hope, if such a mix can happen as the crow's eyes sparkle in hunger and greed with each rap of the cane.
"In twilight's gentle grasp, we stand, betwixt the night
And dawning day, where dreams and waking life unite.
The past, a shadowed trail, behind us softly lies,
While future's bright horizon beckons to our eyes."
"In dreams, we dance with stars, in realms where ideals soar,
Yet wake to find the dawn, where reality's roar
Reminds us of the world, in stark and truthful light,
Where dreams must take the form of deeds to earn their right."
"For life's a dual path, where end and start entwine,
In every breath, a close, a birth in every sign.
We tread on dreams and dirt, in balance must we tread,
Lest dreams stay dreams, and life slips by, unlived, unread."
"The eventide's embrace, a lullaby of peace,
Whispers of what could be, of beauties never cease.
Yet, dawn's unyielding hand, in starkness, does reveal
The work that turns our hopes into the life we feel."
"So let us live in both, the dream and daylight's call,
Embracing night's soft whisper and the sun's bright thrall.
In this dance of light and dark, of real and ideal,
We find our truth, our path, in life's eternal wheel."
While Apollo's guard, Paris, might be holding up a wall somewhere near the fireplace looking exceptionally bored, Apollo himself seems entirely interested. Not in the cane, no, nor mask nor skin nor crown, but in the words. The words, yes, and perhaps the movement. His hands fall on the back of one of the couches, posture loose, head canted just so, like he might be listening for some melody that might fit underneath those words - but no. It's just a thoughtful pose, a frame that lets him digest the words in time with their speaking. And when the figure is finished speaking, he gives a dip of his head. "How perfectly suited our ask," he says. "Did you pen that yourself?"
As the substance of the shadowy figure's poem becomes quickly clear, a delighted smile plays upon Lianne's lips, an amused look cast toward Khanne as she edges that direction. At its end, she tips toward her friend and murmurs, "I don't know if I can bear to be the hopeful one between us, my Dawn, but I'll dare." She lifts her glass toward the figure, a silent toasst, and sips as she listens to hear if Apollo's inquiry might earn answer.
Aconite is a seasoned observer of people, and her gaze only briefly flits to the masked man's cane, lingering instead on the enigmatic mask. Her eyes narrow subtly, as if she could peer through the mysterious barrier it presents. As the masked figure passes by, Aco straightens, her neck held high and chin firm, yet she nods in agreement with Duke Apollo's inquiry.
Pasquale gives the person in the elven visage a thoughtful look as they continue in their walk. His gaze only growing more intense as they pass by his place by the fire. He watches them for a few moments more before letting Jan's whispered question drag his attention aside, somewhat. His eyes stay on the masked figure.
Jan listens and then leans over to whisper to Pasquale though that wary slate gaze never leaves the suspiciously masked figure.
Jan eyerolls. Hard.
Khanne watches the figure wearing a shadowy elven visage as they move through those gathered, weaving their words of duality and balance. Balance, the very thing she speaks about so often. At some point, her lips part, her mouth a bit agape in astonishment. And then her eyes go wide for a moment before they begin to blink blink blink away at some moisture that has invaded them, all while still watching the individual closely.
Angelo listens. The draw of a hand up through his hair while he's listening to the masked figures words, the tip of his head while he's considering the verses (and not just the rhyme). "It does make one wonder in which direction the proverbial wheel turns now - from darkness to light, or light to darkness."
Caspian breaks into a smile, his head nodding along with the strangers words. "Gods.. well said. well said indeed." he straightens some, the words reverberating with the man it seems as he continues to nod. "The real, and the ideal.. and to always striving to make the two one and the same."
Pasquale takes a moment to cough softly during his quiet conversation with Jan. He says a few more words and then lifts his head. "It was a fine piece with lots of meaning."
Jan says, "Eloquently spoken."
The shadowy elven figure bows as the poem is offered to the audience's willing ears or hearts. The fingers holding the cane slowly open and close, almost as if it's a heartbeat felt as the face looks to Apollo and studies. Finally, it speaks.
"In words, not the speaker, truth's essence is found,
A message of hope or doom, in poems profound."
"Though the messenger's guise may capture the eye,
It's the substance that sings, 'neath the rhetoric's sky."
"For in words, like in music, the melody's key,
Lies not in the player, but in harmony's plea."
"Farewell I bid, my message now bestowed,
Your choice shall shape its path, in life's unending road."
"Yet, bear in mind, as wheels of time unceasingly fly,
In every breath, a birth, in every whisper, a goodbye."
Saskia, a fine aplomado falcon have been dismissed.
Jason, a valet have been dismissed.
Starkland have been dismissed.
Duarte applauds with his golf-clap pattering of gloves. He looks over to Apollo's comment and shrugs, "It just turns...." Then he looks back to the mask as a new poetic fortune is being recited. Then back to Apollo with a bob of his head, "Yes - that."
Apollo takes that answer-in-verse with a pause and a simple dip of his head, a gesture laced with gratitude for the indulgence. And he offers to Lianne: "Perhaps we ought to hold our next poetry reading at twilight. That bridge between day and night does seem to hold potent poetic potential." The hint of a smile, there, to the figure, suggests: _as has just been demonstrated._ He doesn't even apologize for the alliteration.
The newcomer doesn?t make a sound as she enters the room. Watching the masked poet with rapt attention, she gives a gentle clap at the end of the poem, signifying her approval. It looks like Duchess Helianthus but she looks a little different. Paler and with darkened hair, as if colour has been leeched from her.
Jan politely golfclaps for the closing of the masked man's poem, not yet noticing the pale duchess.
Lianne watches Khanne more than the stranger, her soft smile steady, but her attention does return to their unfamiliar guest as they speak their parting words. "Thank you for sharing, and for sharing something so fitting, so moving at that." With a nod to Apollo, she agrees, "Outdoors, perhaps, once the world warms, where we can watch the sun descend, the sky darken toward dreaming?" Not now, not while the weather's still biting. Another's arrival, just as the poetry's ending, draws her attention, earns a bright smile. "Duchess Evelynn. Welcome, my friend. Might you have a piece to share?" Invitation more than insistence. The room's fallen a touch quiet in the wake of mysterious strangers delivering enchanting verse.
Angelo doesn't clap as Jan is, if only because the quiet DiFidante seems lost a hint more in his thoughts, considering the new addition.
Duarte takes a look back at the greeting from Lianne to spy yet another stranger's arrival. But the Duchess' familiarity with the new arrival has him wondering something spoken about his cushion-mates. The 'in the dark' expression on his face gives hint to what it might be - a simple query.
Pasquale looks over to Evelynn when Lianne speaks welcome and smiles a touch. "It is good to see you here today, Duchess."
"It has been a while, hasn't it?" Evelynn responds to Lianne with a faint smile, walking closer to the woman while casting a gaze around the room, studying the attendees. Up this close, even her lips seem far paler than usual, even with the dash of makeup that has clearly been applied. The air around her feels cold, dead to any who happen to walk by. "Your invitation is kind, my friend. I am glad to see that I am here in time to share my thoughts." Pasquale is given a familiar nod before she makes her way to the front (or center).
Someone wearing a shadowy elven visage bows its head as Duchess Evelynn appears to take center stage. It seems for the moment, the figure is staying although it is more like a shadow to blend in the background. The crow watches on, glistening in eyes.
Khanne finally looks away from the figure in the elven mask to look at the Duchess Evelynn... then Lianne... then Pasquale. She is silent, but her expression is /filled/ with questions. Though her attention is now divided, it still often returns to the masked person now off to the side.
Apollo turns to spot Evelynn, and gives a dip of his head in greeting rather than a verbal welcome, Lianne having covered that. It does, indeed, seem like a welcome - though there's a moment of distraction, eyes noting that their other guest appeared to be leaving, but hasn't. Back to Evelynn, though: "We'd be delighted to hear what you have to say," he affirms.
Aco rises gracefully to secure herself another glass of wine. Her fluid movements are accompanied by the soft clink of glass against her rings. However, as Evelynn makes her entrance, the Radiant Whisper momentarily halts the pour, redirecting her attention to the unfolding recital. In this brief pause, Aco's focus visibly shifts, her posture poised and attentive, ready to absorb the forthcoming poetic offerings.
Jaenelle checks composure and etiquette at hard. Jaenelle is successful.
Maybe Pasquale had a point earlier. It's not particularly Lianne's personal doing, but even she has to admit that this humble little poetry reading has taken a couple of interesting turns. How quiet the room has grown now, how strange and lovely. All potential, anticipation. And a little colder than it had been before Duchess Helianthus arrived. Might be why she stalks closer to Apollo, slips her empty hand behind his back as she tips her head toward his shoulder, whispers something that doesn't carry even in this quiet. Her gaze, though, is not on Evelynn, but on the elven figure. At least for that brief moment.
Beauty, even when delivered in the package of a cold death aura, is something Duarte is not quite capable of being openly enamored by. Thus, his attention is more or less riveted to the promise of Evelynn's prose and not the gleaming-eyed crow companion of the masked one.
Apollo checks perception at hard. Apollo is successful.
Jaenelle lifts her attention towards Evelynn when another new voice is heard, amd her smile is polite with a dip of her head in greeting for the woman but the glance in her direction shifts almost as soon as it finds her. The Archduchess takes a breath and closes her eyes, it is a brief thing, before reaching for her wine and giving those near her her attention once more.
Apollo would very much like to give Evelynn and her eventual recitation full focus, but his eyes drift toward crow and shadow, and then back to the crowd. It's very much as if there's a puzzle to be puzzled; the tracery of his eyes, the quiet whispers when Lianne approaches, they suggest gentle conclusions, pieces slotting into place. After an exchange of whispers, his eyes turn on his wife, full of query.
"A woman lives day by day, seeking love where she may.
Acceptance too, no doubt,
Though sometimes she goes without."
Evelynn says as her eyes drift over to Jaenelle. She notices something that causes her expression to cool.
"For there is little comfort to be had,
In this Dream that was begat.
Where foes are held up high,
And great men and women are cast aside.
The righteous will see their aspirations whither, I'll see to that, I'll deliver." The rooms cools even more. This does not seem to be her original plan. She stares at Jaenelle for a moment longer and then picks up a glass swiftly. Chuckling, as if it was all a joke.
Jan's eyebrows liiiiiiiift and her gaze yet again sweeps across the room.
Jaenelle checks composure at hard. Jaenelle is successful.
Khanne listens to her companions at the cushions, then turns her eyes to Evelynn as she begins to speak. For a moment, the masked person and the crow are spared her stare. Soon though, she is looking at Jaenelle with an even -more- curious gaze.
Lianne turns a warm, wide smile toward Apollo, but whatever it is her husband asks, she doesn't answer, not right away. Duchess Evelyn commands the floor, and her focus follows, mischief yet dancing in her vibrant eyes as her attention turns to the recitation. Until the tone shifts that subtle bit. Brows loft in warning, in anticipation, like maybe she might need to interject, remark upon civility. But maybe not. "A grim reflection on hope," sounds like praise, like apprecation, and why wouldn't it be. "Now, I /do/ believe that's the last of us, mm? Please, enjoy yourselves, friends. We needn't keep so quiet, mm?"
Angelo is not given, clearly, to significant displays of... well, about anything. But it is not hard tosee why some concern finds him in this very odd moment as he watches and listens.
Duarte's typical golf-clap is a bit of an ovation instead for Evelynn's delivery. "How dissentient! Bravo. I am always content to be regaled by how swiftly a mood might change."
Caspian is silent a moment, listening to evelyn's poem even as his eyes narrow slightly. Duarte's comment makes him break into a smirk, and his own head shakes slowly, hand moving to rub his temple.
Sensing a chill in the room, Aconite gracefully maneuvers closer to the fire after completing her pour. Her black gaze momentarily shifts towards the Archduchess before returning to Evelynn, and with a thoughtful murmur mostly to herself, she comments, "How vivid." Aco steps back towards the hearth, positioning herself nearest to its warmth, a deliberate choice in the ongoing dance with the flickering flames.
Evelynn's poem is heard and the shadowy elven figure taps the cane, the crow rap rap raps on the floor in a pleased beat of praise. However, as the crow is praising, the crowned figure looks at someone in this room and the voice speaks across the coldness to them although for all to hear.
"Though past has cast its shadow, future's page lies bare,
Unwritten, veiled in mist, its tales for us to dare."
"In present's trial, we find, a call to join as one,
For greater woes demand a unity begun."
"Though foes may stand in light, and heroes in the shade,
Together, disparate souls, a stronger front is made."
"For in the unscripted morrow, hope's seed may yet thrive,
In duality's embrace, our aspirations survive."
At some point in Evelynn's poem Jaenelle looks back towards the woman to listen to the words. There is effort here, in the simple act of giving someone the attention she had given everyone else. Her smile is not as warm, lips a little thinner than the average smile offers. Her eyes slightly narrowed, though more out of discomfort than the narrowing of annoyance or disdain. She keeps the contact despite herself, and once the poem is finished, there is a clap for the woman regardless of everything else, "we can only hope that when one dream whithers, there are others to continue forward."
Someone wearing a shadowy elven visage bows its head to the hosts and bows moreso to the duchess. The cane taps at a steady clockwork beat keeping time, as the shadowy figure moves to the cold outside.
Apollo's eyes lid at that lack of answer; it doesn't seem to vex him, a pleasure in anticipation. His eyes turn to Evelynn; he might have only caught the tail end of her words, the moment _after_ the tonal shift, and so there's a little turn of his head, acknowledgement. "Thank you, Duchess Evelynn," he says, offering a smile. Eyes turn on shade and crow; it seems like there's an impulse, there, to follow as they leave. With a glance toward Lianne, he slips aside, heading for the door. Likely just to offer a word or to get a breath of _even colder_ air, but who knows?
"Oh, it's a duel!" Duarte is rightly amused and sitting erect, attention rapt. He clasps his hands together and grins over at Caspian - who knows a thing or two about duels - and then looks back to Evelynn in the hopes of a searing retort.
Nomius, a deeply skeptical bloodhound, Siri, an attentive apprentice, Paris, a charming mercenary, Tagalong leave, following Apollo.
Pasquale tilts his head just a touch as Evelynn recites her poem. Curiosity and interest written in his eyes. The new poem from the masked figure pulls his gaze away towards the masked figure again. A little belatedly perhaps given that the figure seems about to leave. "Have we met before?"
Watching the masked figure when he responds with s, Evelynn simply drinks from her cup after raising it towards him. "I win." Is what she says to Duarte.
Someone wearing a shadowy elven visage bows its head to Evelynn, signifying that it accepts her as the victor and it even offers her the crown it wears should she so desire to claim. All is fair in honourable war, even rap battles.
Jan ahhhs and offers politely "Duchess Evelynn Helianthus, may I introduce Lord Pasquale Malespero?" Somewhat awkwardly making introductions.
The masked person once again has Khanne's eyes on them, eyes full of wonder. She is not unlike a deer caught in the forest by surprise in the moment, the way she is practically reduced to staring from one person to another. Here, all she says is, "hope" and places a hand to her heart with a breath.
Caspian gives a small chuckle as the pair seem to bandy their poems back and forth, and nods his head in agreement with Duarte. "it is indeed.. though one seems to have simply declared themselves the victor. I need to try that next duel.. see if it works." Khanne's single word echoes in the room and nods his head, agreeing that he liked the masked strangers poems a good bit more.
Duarte manages to hide his dispiritedness that a victory is claimed without a true mic-drop moment, and he applauds just the same had one come to being. "Of course you do, Duchess! Bravo again."
The Count twists and looks back to Lianne with a wide smile beneath his mustache, "You planned this? What a true delight."
"There are always others," Lianne agrees with Jaenelle, more gravity in those words than she'd meant to let show. More, yes, /hope/. Such a terrible thing, and yet she has it in abundance these days. With the victor of the brief verbal battle declared and accepted, no adjudication needed, well, first she laughs for Caspian's suggestion, the idea that real duels might be settled so succinctly. Then, to Duarte, her smile warm, she lies, "Of course. Entirely. Word for word." Not a lick of it believable. "All for your enjoyment, darling. We should plan the next together, mm?"
Saskia, a fine aplomado falcon, Jason, a valet, Starkland leave, following Angelo.
Pasquale gives Jan a surprised look when Jan goes and introduces him before telling her "We've been introduced." He seems to contemplate for a moment before politely asking "Are you doing well Duchess?"
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