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Burn Your Darlings

Abandoning promises of parades, Duchess Lianne Malespero intends to honor Mae Culler instead by burning her art, as she always wanted. Anyone who cares to join is welcome to come celebrate Mae Culler, burn art of their own or just enjoy the warmth of the bonfire. The event is open to all.


Jan. 4, 2024, 8:15 p.m.

Hosted By

Lianne Fortunato


Ferrando Denica Apollo Medeia Samira Stanley Pasquale Theo Duarte



Outside Arx - Eastern Approach - Beaches

Largesse Level


Comments and Log

Already, a fire burns bright on the beach, far enough out that the tide won't catch either it or the cushions and blankets set around it. Probably. No promises. There's plenty of seating that probably won't get soggy and a selection of drinks which are a bit heavier on whiskey than anything else. That may have more to do with the hostess than the subject of tonight's celebration.

A number of paintings are scattered along the beach, far enough from the fire that they aren't likely to catch a spark and go up before their times, works mostly signed by Mae, set out for viewing before they're burned... in her honor? Some bear evidence of old water damage and weathering.

At the moment, the hostess--that'd be Lianne--dressed in simple black and currently barefoot, considers one of the pieces she has possibly never seen before wearing a pensive expression.

Fortunato is standing by his contribution, or, rather, Mae's contribution-through-him. He's studying it one last time. The mess of colors, the hint of a figure. He is dressed in umbra. His usual jewelry is missing. He is humming, completely tunelessly, to himself for a minute before saying, "I do think that a moment of suspended and existential peril is probably the best time to do this."

Ferrando mills around the small gathering on the beach, looking at all the other paintings one by one. He turns to speak to either Octohopper or Fortunato, who end up being both in the same direction if at different ranges. "I've never been the partial subject of an entire actual art gallery before," he notes conversationally before grimacing a little. "I hope it's not very indicative of anything that it's all about to be set on fire soon," he deadpans.

Entering through a gate at some far end of the beach, Denica removes her shoes the moment she hits sand. Carrying them in one hand, a paper wrapped painting in the other. Long black hair is left loose, it catches the wind and here the woman seems at quiet peace. The short princess wears a gown the colour of foam rising from turbulent waves. Wandering along the sandy surface, her feet leave prints in their wake. It's impossible not to pause and look at the sky, eyes appreciate the expanse in all its form. But it's the paintings that slow her journey down, not rushing her arrival, but rather approaching through the experience she gets observing. Familiar voices bring a small smile to her lips as Denica looks over, caught by the images that lay spread across the beach.

Apollo might have come with his wife, but he didn't; he got held up with some business he's apparently just wrapping up as he approaches those on the beach, speaking with his brilliant assistant, Siri, as they move along. It's not that he's a workaholic; it's just a busy time, and seeing that the work gets done so that he can enjoy company and destruction without having to worry about all that nonsense? Just makes sense. A dozen paces from the bonfire, he touches her arm, gives her a smile, wraps up something about _travel preparations_. She heads back up toward the city, making a note in a journal, as he wanders close, hand lifted in greeting. He hasn't quite gotten to pensive. It's a beautiful day.

Medeia's shoes are with her assistant, who is settled just about as far from the water and the fire as she can be. Medeia, however, has stayed near the evening's festivities, not seeming too bothered by the hem of her spidersilk dress dragging in the sand. There's a glass of whiskey-heavy-whatever in hand as finds herself beside Lianne to murmur her greetings and look at the painting the duchess is looking at. "Couldn't have asked for better weather for a bonfire on the beach, mm? A good night to burn things." She gives a nod to emphasize what she's said before sipping from her drink.

"A good time to kick over the spinning top," Lianne agrees with Fortunato, angling a small smile his way. She looks back to the painting, and may be inclined to comment, but Ferrando's nearby remark earns a look, a brighter smile. "Unsettling, mm? A night to say goodbye to things we no longer are or no longer wish to be, perhaps. For me, at least." That easy smile, then, is turned toward others as they arrive. She might look a touch surprised, potentially expecting it could just be her and Fortunato tonight, throwing memories on the fire. "Gorgeous," she agrees with Medeia, something wistful taking her for a moment.

Dressed in simple, practical garb as is her wont, Samira trudges onto the beach to join the gathering. A small painting is tucked under her arm, but this appears to be momentarily forgotten, her attention immediately stolen by the artwork on display. She offers a wave to any familiar faces she might note among the crowd, but of course, the art pulls her in first. "So much talent," she murmurs appreciatively. "Wish I'd met her."

Apollo drops a hand-painted leather wall hanging featuring the Black Hound of the Shadowood.

"I haven't decided if art of me being at a greater risk of ending up part of a large bonfire is concerning or reassuring," Ferrando replies wryly to Lianne. "Though it's a very small sample size, so maybe I shouldn't draw any conclusions either way yet."

"There are worse ways to go than in fire. A grand conflagration. As long as something can grow from the ashes." Fortunato glances again at the mess of colors he's kept for so long. "We can end. Entire cycles can end. As long as it's with the promise of rebirth. A spark. An egg." He glances, now, at Lianne. "But I do think that. Kick over the spinning top and something else will find a way to spin in its stead. Well." He glances over to Ferrando, then. His smile is broad and bright. "The piece I'm contributing is /also/ of me. But hey, I've burnt before."

Ferrando grins at the spider on his shoulder. Draw? Eh? Ehhhhh? Fortunately he doesn't say any of this out loud.

Alberico, the Malespero aide, 1 Malespero Guard, Louis, a Malespero Armsman, Mar, the Magpie arrive, following Pasquale.

Stanly strolls along the beach, an elderly man in simple, dark gray attire, adorned with burnt copper lining on the hood and belt, bears the king's sigil on a polished breastplate beneath his sleeved cloak. He heads toward the fire, acknowledging the artwork destined for burning with a nod. Quietly, he studies the art, offering nods to the Duchess, Duke of Malespero, and Princess Denica in turn.

Medeia gives Lianne a soft smile, making a promise to talk soon, before drifting along the beach to look at other pieces of art and say hello to more people. Ferrando gets a bright smile and lift of her glass. "My dear dance partner, I think you have nothing to worry about, in regard to the art burning. Keep in mind your intent, and the focus of the evening, when it gets added to the pile." That's just a gentle suggestion. Apollo gets a wave and a nod before attention turns to Samira. "Hey, you." More informal, warmer. Her smile holds years of fondness.

Apollo wanders over to the rest of the art, and untucks from under his arm - it was there the whole time, really - a leather tapestry. He unrolls it, lays it out on the sand, taking a nearby rock to settle on a corner. Wouldn't do for it to blow away and not burn, would it? Then he turns, clapping sand off his hands. "Sometimes ends ought to be ends," he says, smiling crookedly at Fortunato. "But not always." There's are nods around - not only to the nobility here, but everyone. He's veering toward the drinks; whiskey would be lovely.

2 Saik Guard, Celina, a dutiful physician's assistant, Giancarlo, a cooper and prize-fighter leave, following Medeia.

3 House Velenosa Guards, Renault, Timothe arrive, following Theo.

2 Saik Guard, Celina, a dutiful physician's assistant, Giancarlo, a cooper and prize-fighter, Theo arrive, following Medeia.

Ferrando does a bit of a double-take from Fortunato to the painting as if that last comment not something he was at all expecting to hear. "Wait, that's you?" he states blankly, a bit wide-eyed before squinting. "That's artistic license and your knees aren't -really- orange, right?" He smiles at Medeia's approach. "Ah, Lady Medeia, hello again," he declares affably. "Well, in all honesty, I'm not -really- sure I should be worried about the departure of a work of art depicting my loss to a bird... duck... person." It's definitely kind of hard to describe the drawing. You had to be there.

Catching a familiar voice, Fortunato's words bring a quiet smile to Denica's lips. Canting her head in his direction she gives the man a fond look, before her attention drifts down to the painting she finds herself in front of. Shattered. Lips press together and she lets it hit her all at once, appreciating that moment. Then she returns Stanley's nod. Catching sight of Samira, she beams a smile in the woman's direction. She nods in agreement with both her points. There's something about well everything that evokes an emotional response from Denica and she feels the moment, goosebumps decorate bare arms.

Pasquale joins the gathering on the beach with a brief smile for Lianne and Apollo. He's dressed in a simple black and green outfit made special more for the quality of the cloth involved than fancy details, with a steelsilk sash about his waist that has been embroidered with a flowering plum tree, a peacetied cutlass at his hip, and a pretty stygian archers ring on his thumb. His eyes go to the artwork for a time before he muses. "One of my favorite pieces. Fitting."

Fortunato looks at Ferrando. He looks down at his knees. He tilts his head, and considers the question way too long. "No, they're not orange," he says. "Total artistic license. But I was feeling pretty stuck when she painted it. Orange feels strangely like a 'stuck' color, a rigid color. To me." He waves down the length of the pieces. "Mae was exceptionally skilled and a lot of these have a deep emotional realism. But I like her early work. Feeling things out." He flashes a quick smile to Denica, a partial wave, then he turns his attention to Apollo. "It is, of course, appropriate for some ends to be ends. But not tonight. Tonight I feel like everything should persist. Tenaciously. Aggravatingly."

Don't mind the prince over here. Theo lingers in the shadows to watch and hear what is going on. Anyone who noticed his approach gets a nod as a greeting even if does not speak. Content to let the conversation around him go about.

A bit late, one of Medeia's personal guards comes down the path bearing two paintings - they needed to be dug out of storage. The lady gestures for them to go somewhere for people to see. "I had a few - not Mae's - that I wanted to contribute," she notes to Lianne. Then she gives a wave to Denica and another to Theo. To the latter, she makes an attempt to lure the man from the shadows. "Theo, stop skulking." Very polite. She does grin at him, though!

Medeia drops Lady of the Flame - Arcelia Saik.

Medeia drops An Abstract Painting of a Tree on an Icy Beach - Lady Arcelia Saik.

Stanley fixates on Sentimental, immersed in its details, oblivious to the surrounding chatter. In a gravelly voice with a Crownslands accent, he remarks, "Mesmerizing. The captured essence of a lover, studied and displayed with such tenderness." The knight briefly breaks from the painting, glancing at the exchange between Fortunato and Ferrando. "Which one represents you?"

"Hey, you," comes Samira's echoing answer to Medeia, a flash of warm fondness carried in the smile that blossoms upon her features. "Glad to see you. Always." She leans in, delivering a gentle nudge of her shoulder to the other woman - their kind of greeting, perhaps. A hand lifts, fingers waggling a wave of greeting to Denica once she has spotted the other artist among the gathering. Curiousity brings a question called toward her: "Have you brought something to burn as well?" As other contributions are added, the Culler remembers the painting tucked under her arm and quietly finds a place to add hers.

Samira drops Duplicity, a painting.

Lianne angles a thoughtful look toward Fortunato, one which suggests a thought being pinned. She might circle back to the notion of a spinning top later, but for now? People are gathering, and even informal as this is, she does mean to play hostess and give this gathering some bit of purpose and direction.

Turning to face those gathered as best she can, a step this way or that to help position herself where she can see most everyone, Lianne speaks up. "Thank you all for coming. It's certainly a better turn out than I'd expected, long as Mae's been gone from the city and odd as this celebration may be. I don't know how many of you knew her. She was sweet and sharp and clever and fickle. A brilliant artist and a very fine friend. She knew when life needed disruption and had no problem making a mess to make a point." Somewhere along the way, her smile has dimmed without wholly disappearing. "She saw me better than most ever have or will. She saw me at my worst, my most stuck. She was a mirror I wasn't ready for." With a flutter of her hand and a deep breath, she hurries along. "All that said, this is for her, but not just for her. We're here and she's not. This is for /us/ as well. A celebration of change, of letting go. If you've any art, whether it was made by Mae or not, you're welcome to throw it on the flames. If you'd like, please say something of the piece as you do." Another vague gesture of her hand seems... encouraging. She's done giving that introduction speech.

Ferrando grunts a sort of reassured asset at Fortunato. "Orange knees don't sound like very healthy ones, anyway," he declares before giving some of the other paintings a critical second look. Are these all people he knows but didn't notice? His art appreciation/interpretation skills probably haven't got any better in the last ten minutes, though, so it's probably all for the best when Stanley asks him a question. Talking with strangers! This is genuinely one of Ferrando's favorite pasttimes. "Ah, hello! Ferrando Artiglio, Liberator of Skald, at your service." Oh yeah, the question. "It's that one," he says, indicating 'Rando Loses A Flex Off'. He awaits the inevitable request for clarification.

"Hear, hear!" Duarte says with a raise of his whiskey flask. It's at the tale end of the word /fickle/, but it likely was directed toward the whole sentiment, right? He's been here. Looking. Perusing. All that sort of jazz. The breeze is nice and welcome so his shirt is only buttoned to the navel.

As Medeia calls him out Theo is heard laughing as he finishes his approach and closer to where she may be. He tries to look and see what it is that Medeia is contributing to as he focuses on key speakers.

Pasquale drops Deeplight eyes, a carved blackwood magpie cane.

"Knight-Lieutenant Stanley Cooper," the elderly knight responds to Ferrando, nodding towards the painting in question. "I'd hate to be the target for that pigeon's business," he adds with a wry smile.

Lianne may have caught Stanley's commentary about that one particular painting, the man studied in silence for a moment. Her attention follows to Ferrando, then to the drawing of a... bird with arms? She huffs a quiet breath and looks to the selection she's brought to burn. It's... a lot. She might want to prioritize. Yeah, alright. Let's got with /that one/ first. She moves toward Sentimental and picks it up, toting it toward the fire. She'll probably say something. Just... not quite yet.

As Lianne finished, Fortunato picks up his contributed painting, Breaking the Cycle, and he steps up. "Let me -- well, let me talk a bit about Mae and this piece. I have often been at war with myself, terrified of action, stunned into immobility by too much possibility. I was already skilled at the paintbrush when I came to know Mae, and I watched her work evolve -- rapidly. In many directions. This." He holds up the piece, a wash of colors that lends itself to the chaotic, but suggests a figure, "was something she painted for me to help me -- move. To help me see myself fixed and solid and definite." He pauses. He holds the piece above the bonfire. "I am not fixed, solid, definite, in the end, but I needed a point to see clearly from. And Mae was always perceptive, fierce, recklessly honest. We weren't always easy friends. We were difficult and different in ways that led to friction." He laughs. "She was /also/ recklessly impious, at /all/ times. And I miss her. I miss her angles. May she continue to excel at art in every way." He glances at Lianne, at the work in her hands. He smiles. And he lets Breaking the Cycle go.

"If the pigeon was as drunk as the rest of us in the Murder were that night, I don't think anybody would have been in -that- much danger," Ferrando quips back in reply. "Pleased to make your acquaintance." He glances towards the bonfire. "Begging your pardon, but I suppose I need to get in line soon."

Medeia returns the arm-bump to Samira before she glances across to Duarte, subtle shifting movements at her brows and the corners of her lips suggesting amusement. She lifts her glass to him before turning her attention to Theo. She explains the pair of paintings in a soft voice. "These were done by my sister, former-marquessa of House Navegant, Arcelia Navegant nee Saik." The formality of the artist's identity carries a cold bitterness. "Done while she was still a Saik, before - I like to think - she was a complete stranger to me. These pieces remind me of the girl she was, the dreams she had. And also of the shattering heartbreak I felt when I learned of her role against the Compact in the Isles most recent war." The lady clears her throat, clearly wishing to be rid of such reminders.

Duarte listens to Fortunato thoughtfully. He smiles a bit of a mischievious agreement at mentions of friction and impiousness, and angles! At the finish of the little speech, Duarte tips his flask to the speaker, Fortunato, and drinks.

He puts that little container away. "Just a quick thing we'd like to dispose of..." he mentions to Lianne - in no way meant to be a public announcement and it doesn't carry very far. Duarte waves over Harlen, who comes carrying a large white canvas with black paint drawings on them of a mad circle in a box, then an evil happy circle next to the box with an arrow showing movement out of the box, followed by a razor-toothed pac-man eating stick figure sad people and then a very large evil looking circle. He hands it over to Duarte who chucks it on the fire and brushes off his hands.

Don't mind Apollo. He's just going to be a moment pouring for himself. He turns back halfway through Fortunato's words, eyes slipping from man to art, and then on to Lianne, toting her piece; then, to Medeia. His mouth tugs downward at the description; perhaps he knows the gravity of finding someone known that sort of stranger. He moves toward the fire with his drink, tasting it - but no, getting too close, it proves simply more warmth than he wants right now, and he steps back.

Theo did not bring anything to get rid of. He came here for support and to see what is going on. He goes quiet when Medeia explains who the paintings are from. A hand to her upper arm as he quietly tells her, "I am sorry about all of that but maybe this will bring relief and closure for you."

Between the art and the fire, Denica is mesmerized by everything. Caught up in the details, alit with it. Medeia's wave is met with a warm one of her own and Samira's question makes her realize she's actually holding a painting. There's a quick and quiet nod. "I have," she says watching as the other woman takes our her own. Denica listens to everyone, quiet and thoughtful, until its her turn.

Paint-stained fingers begin to unwrap her painting. It's older, the kind of piece and artist has grown from but still resonates with them. "I painted this the last time I returned to Arx. I was opening a gallery and I was so excited I showed a friend. But, my art triggered their worst memory and it hurt them," Denica presses her lips still feeling the empathetic sting of that moment. "I stood there and in every painting, I saw the thing I feared the most. So, I committed the rest of my life, to facing those fears. To fight anything that resembled ...them. And on that journey I learnt who I was...," The woman tenses then like she feels a sudden chill. "Now I come full circle, I must face the fears I saw that night." Denica takes the painting and looks at the flame. "Sometimes it's not enough to just be the spark in the dark, you need to set the whole room on fire." Denica tosses in her paint.


After Lianne has made her announcement, Pasquale moves over to the fire and takes out a beautiful magpie carved cane. "It might not quite count as art." he says "But this cane, carved by Zakhar after I injured my leg, represents a lot of things that I probably need to let go." He reluctantly offers the cane to the fire. "But burning something so practical and beautiful is really hard."

Denica drops a painting titled 'A Family Dinner'.

Fortunato speaks quiet toward Pasquale. "It's not required to burn. This is a way of remembrance, hm? Remembering by letting go. But it's not a ritual. It's not a sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice. It's only if it helps." He looks toward Denica. "If it celebrates. If it serves as a statement of purpose, of facing, of sparks." He looks at Medeia. "Of -- bringing out the best of what we hold inside of us."

Fortunato adds, wryer, "Well, the act of burning means a /lot/ of different things. Something cathartic about fire. Don't I know it."

Medeia allows herself to listen to the others, giving Denica particular attention. There's a nod, a knowing, thstbcones from the idea of facing one's fears. She glances down at Theo's hand on her arm before giving him a grateful smile. But it's Fortunato who catches her attention. She looks at the Whisper and tilts her head slightly. "I was thinking on the very nature of fire earlier today, during a visit to Lagoma's shrine, in fact. I thought a lot about the ways fire can cleanse. Purify. Fire can be so much more than destruction if its power is harnessed with care."

Ferrando takes up the Rando sketch and for all of the many years that he's been convinced he's be deliriously happy to finally get rid of the odious notion that he can't flex better than a pigeon-man (man-pigeon?) sort of... thing, now that it's time to go, his smirk is a bit sad. "This radically inventive work of art was conceived and created in about twenty-eight seconds by the inimitable Mae Culler, on a night when she was either the most or least sober person in the Murder of Crows, which isn't saying much, because we were all pretty far gone," he proclaims. "Each one of its minimal amount of details are completely wrong in every sort of way imaginable, and I have really no reason to have ever kept this thing for this long, except for that Mae Culler is the most fun person I have ever played Lowers rooftop tag with, and she convinced Torian to let me visit the Culler Den which I always really appreciated. You got anything?" he asks the spider on his shoulder, who doesn't so much as flinch in response. "-And- a good co-worker," he declares despite the spider flat-out ignoring him. "Out of fondness for my friend Mae Culler, I am giving this piece of art the one review it really, truly deserved." And then he tosses it into the fire.

When Lianne addresses the gathering, Samira devotes full attention the duchess, listening attentively to the remembrances she offers of her friend. When others begin to share, she looks to each piece of artwork in turn. Fortunato's description of Mae renders her pensive, although her lips tug into a frown for the heartbreak Medeia shares. She offers a silent nod of encouragement to Denica as the other artist speaks, solemn in the face of what she shares. When there's a lull, she takes a breath and gestures to her own painting, Duplicity. "I painted this in a time of confusion and frustration. A reminder that people are complex and not always easily knowable to us, especially when we factor in secrets and motivations and unspoken beliefs. At the time, I was struggling quite a bit with the unknown. But I'm glad to let go of that struggle."

There's a small smile as Theo steps back again and puts hands behind his back as he walks about the circle that people have made with the burning of things. It is an interesting idea to him and he pauses in his stepping when Ferrando puts his artwork to the fire. A nod to Samira to indicate he's heard her to.

Lianne's attention falls in full on Fortunato as he speaks of Mae, of that particular piece. Her smile's such a soft thing, looking like it could very well sink toward a more melancholy mood quite quickly, but it doesn't, not even as she nods to echo those latter sentiments, how she misses her too, all her perspective and pointiness. Sympathy colors her features as she listens to Medeia's story, knowing well enough about sister difficulties, even if hers have taken a turn for the better. She sets the painting she holds down, a hand set upon its frame, and watches the others, each of them, learning of friends and strangers alike. But yes, Fortunato has the right of it, a nod turned his way before she addresses the group again.

"I'm burning these because I'm ready to be rid of them, and Mae always said that I should. Once she handed it over, once it was seen by the person who needed to see it, she was done with it, purpose served." Tapping the frame of the painting she holds, she says, "This one--" The figure looks *so much* like her, the eyes uncanny. "I taught her how to conduct an autopsy just so she could get the insides right. I didn't know her intention at the time. Not quite. I hadn't expected such an incisive portrait of myself." She hesitates a moment, gaze dipping. "It hung in my room for years. I never wanted others to see it for how true it felt for so long." And, with that, story feeling unresolved, she lofts it and tosses it to the flames, letting that depiction of her corpse pop and sizzle and burn.

Pasquale listens to Fortunato's words and slowly nods. "If it was easy then it wouldn't be meaningful. Thank you though. Nothing else could represent those days." his eyes go back to the paintings and then over to Lianne and then back to the paintings again. Suffering to live specifically.

Apollo, once he's finished with his pour, which in fairness might only have been a half pour over half a dozen pieces of art, burning, moves to take his tapestry - the one featuring a Black Hound. "I haven't much to say about this," he says, "save for that I have grown in my scholarship, and should like to write better histories." Perhaps he's quick to throw it on the fire lest it give people nightmares; it's evocative. His eyes watch Lianne's face, familiar and unfamiliar, shrivel next to it in the fire, and his shoulders roll. He'll take the real deal, there, alive and unburnt; he moves her direction.

It's unfortunate how much leather smells when it burns. It's fortunate this is outdoors.

Ferrando returns to chat a little with Stanley since with it currently burning the chance of pigeon-man topics went way down and he's the other apparently big fighty type person on the scene besides. "Well, there was some weirdly mixed feelings there at the end, but I feel pretty good about it," he concludes. "So, a Silver Sword with an interest in art! Or are you just here to make certain we don't burn down the King's beach?" he inquires.

Ferrando takes Rando Loses A Flex Off.

Ferrando checked dexterity + legerdemain at difficulty 15, rolling 42 higher.

Apollo takes a hand-painted leather wall hanging featuring the Black Hound of the Shadowood.

Apollo checked dexterity + legerdemain at difficulty 15, rolling 34 higher.

Lianne gets Sentimental.

Lianne checked dexterity + legerdemain at difficulty 15, rolling 2 lower.

Pasquale gets Deeplight eyes, a carved blackwood magpie cane.

Pasquale checked dexterity + legerdemain at difficulty 15, rolling 1 lower.

Samira takes Duplicity, a painting.

Samira checked dexterity + legerdemain at difficulty 15, rolling 24 higher.

Denica gets a painting titled 'A Family Dinner'.

Fortunato claps at Ferrando's words. He even whistles. It's vaguely inappropriate. Certainly a bit incongruous with his manner of, like, five minutes ago. "Was there ever a truer scion of the Lowers than Mae Culler?" He asks. Then to Medeia, still a bit spritely, "It can be -- interesting to see who we are. Whittled down. Revealed. Scorched to the center." To Samira, as if in addition, "And letting go of /struggles/, confusions. A sacrifice in itself." He watches Pasquale's cane go up with a touch of regret, regret that extends to Apollo's scorched scholarship. And then Lianne. He bows slightly. "She was always completely pitiless. But she cared a lot about you."

Denica checked dexterity + legerdemain at difficulty 15, rolling 23 higher.

Fortunato takes Breaking The Cycle.

Fortunato checked dexterity + legerdemain at difficulty 15, rolling 7 lower.

A small smile at Fortunato there's a sense of celebration in Denica as she watches her painting burn. Like the flames are therapuetic, "it's like letting go of something in order to embrace something else. Neither parting or coming together, but somewhere in-between. A dance with the flame. That is the fire burning or at least how it feels to me." Then she looks over at Samira, listening to the woman's words quietly, giving her a kindred smile. Then Denica lets out a breath, more of a sigh, it gives her a burst of energy. A smile warms her face, though her eyes still remain stormy. It's a good time for a drink.

Medeia takes An Abstract Painting of a Tree on an Icy Beach - Lady Arcelia Saik.

Medeia checked dexterity + legerdemain at difficulty 15, rolling 13 higher.

Medeia takes Lady of the Flame - Arcelia Saik.

Medeia checked dexterity + legerdemain at difficulty 15, rolling 18 higher.

Lianne's eyes probably shouldn't be watering to see that pigeon-man burn. It's probably more for Ferrando's words, for what he says of Mae, to judge by the smile she wears with those glassy eyes. "Perfect," she murmurs, followed by, "Thank you." She watches the others with a warm sort of awe, distracted only by a comment she catches nearby. To Pasquale and Fortunato, she notes, "I can name a great many meaningful things which are entirely easy." Possibly just to be contrary. Fortunato's words see her smile tilting somber again. "I wish--" Her lips press thin, thought cut off, dismissed with a shake of her head. Maybe she'll find those words later.

When the time comes for Medeia to loft Arcelia's paintings into the fire, she stacks one atop the other and stands close. The heat doesn't seem to bother her all, shimmering off the bonfire around her. When she releases the paintings, it seems as if she had held them a little too close for a little too long, the edges already burning. She steps back after saying nothing and moves off to get a new drink and settle onto a cushion out of the way.

Pasquale looks to Lianne and asks "I can think of a lot as well but not when it comes to giving something up. Perhaps I should have brought some of my bird paintings and thrown them on the fire instead." he lets himself consider the fire for a moment before turning his eyes back to Lianne. "Can I take the painting of the farmer? I've always enjoyed it."

Stanley gruffly chuckles, nodding towards the fire in conversation with Ferrando. "A bit of both, you could say. There's a fascination in the pain an artist can convey without ever meeting them," he remarks, gesturing towards the painting as it joins the flames, each piece adding to the fiery display.

"The painting of Aleksei?" Lianne wonders curiously of Pasquale's request. She looks to Suffering to Live, aiming to confirm that's the one he's asking after. Distracted by the nearby conversation, she notes to Stanley and Ferrando, "I might recommend a visit to Eidolon Gallery, if you've an interest. I've kept at least one of Mae Culler's pieces within our permanent collection, as well some belonging to other artists present tonight." Look, this wasn't /meant/ to be promotion for her gallery, but if the opportunity arises...

Fortunato glances over at the BLEEDING farmer, and does a slight startle of surprise. "Oh right! That /is/ Aleksei. I don't remember what he thought about that one." A brief pause. He glances over Denica. "I -- hm, sometimes think of us all in collaboration. But I don't know to what end. Flame at least lets me pretend at clarity. I'm barely /pretending/ at clarity right now." Three beats. "Anyway, the Eidolon is great. I even have some pieces in there."

Samira dips her head in a nod to Fortunato. "Letting go of struggles, or perhaps even embracing them. But no longer letting them overpower." She appears satisfied with this sentiment, firelight reflected in her dark eyes as she stares into the flames and watches the pile burn. Lianne's remarks reach her ears and she turns, a grin flickering into place. "The Eidolon Gallery is a must-see if you appreciate art. And, frankly, even if you don't."

"Fair, fair. If there's a need for a bucket brigade, I can stay afterwards to help you out," Ferrando quips before he leans slightly towards Stanley. "Don't forget to ask about the Crown Ward employees' reduced admissions rate," he stage-whispers. Hopefully this little trick from the Seven Great Tips The Official Arx Visitor's Guide Doesn't Tell You! broadsheet won't damage the gallery's fiscal solvency all that much.

"Including," says Apollo, "one of my favorite pieces of poetry." That's to Fortunato; he got distracted, there, for a minute, by the spectre - ghost? - presence of his assistant up at the top of the hill. Like she's coming back down for something. Maybe? No? He squints back up that way. She's gone.

This revelation makes Pasquale look thoughtful "I had no idea it was Aleksei. I think.. I am going to withdraw the request."

Theo finally finds a seat and it is beside Medeia and he's looking up at the stars and how the smoke from the fire trails upwards a half smile seen as he places his hands behind him. He still remains quiet as he smiles in the lady's direction.

"He gave it to me rather than keep it," Lianne quips of that portrait of Aleksei. With a nod toward Embraced By A God, she reminds, "And that one's Dominus Aureth. While he was still Archlector of Death." When Pasquale retracts his request, she moves to collect both of those paintings. "We'll let them both burn, mm? A reminder of her /impiety/, as you said." She tilts a grin toward Fortunato. Of course, when it comes time to throw them on the fire, she hesitates. They might merit preservation, particularly the one of Aureth, but no. She means to make good on... some... loose interpretation of her promise, so. In the go! More fuel for the fire.

"I am reminded, and reminded," Fortunato says, at least partly toward Apollo, "that I need to walk through Eidolon Gallery one more time, before we all become entirely too -- busy." He looks, then, to the picture of Aureth. He affects a sigh. "She was /so/ impious. Both these pictures make me feel so awkward. My brother and my housemate! They are fine pieces, though." Again, he looks at Lianne, and the pyre, with some regret.

Medeia's gaze leaves the bonfire to settle on Theo, and she engages in a quieter conversation with the prince. One ear kept on the gathering, and her gaze shifting from time to time. The mention of Aleksei pulls her attention to Lianne and Pasquale for a moment, but it doesn't linger.

The old knight squints at Ferrando's suggestion of a discount for swearing duty to the Crown. "If there's already a discount for my service, so be it. I won't press for one. We've cleared young knights for not taking their vows seriously." Stanley turns to Lianne, nodding. The faded copper lining of his hood catches the flickering flames, casting a burnt hue against his graying blonde hair. "I'll keep it in mind for my rounds."

Lianne gets Suffering to Live.

Lianne gets Embraced By A God.

Lianne checked dexterity + legerdemain at difficulty 15, rolling 3 higher.

Lianne checked dexterity + legerdemain at difficulty 15, rolling 11 higher.

Enjoying a drink and the sight of the flames, Denica takes in the sight and goes quiet, watching how the fire dances. Her attention drifts to the bits of conversation, there's something comforting about the whole thing.

"Hey, I'm a Crown Ward employee too," Ferrando points out. "I just thought it would be kind of overbearing to introduce myself as head of security of the Whisper House too is all. We're almost lierally neighbors, you know!"

It is very interesting to Theo to listen to the group as a whole when he's not in his own quiet conversation. Taking note of the different tones of voices being used and seeing who is all here. Some familiar and some not. A little amused at something either with the group in general or something Medeia has said to him. He seems to be content to just be here in the moment.

Lianne notes quietly to Fortunato, "One of yours is the onely piece in the showcase gallery at the moment," an almost rueful note to it. Or, perhaps, nervous? Uncertain? The whole front of the gallery now showcasing a single painting. It's an interesting choice. Though she has two pieces left to potentially burn, she leaves them be for now, instead approaching Apollo, first, to give his arm a squeeze, to offer silent acknowledgement of what he let go, then to approach Denica. "I understand that piece may no longer be representative of your work," she begins, no greeting, right in toward substance, "but I'd be interested in seeing more. You said you own a gallery as well?"

Fortunato blinks at Lianne, briefly over-bright-eyed. Then, "Ah. That one, is it?" It is a question, but barely. "I'll visit." He glances between his co-host, then, and Lianne. "The Princess Denica has quite the facility for color. /And/ a wonderful boat."

The gentle look given Lianne at that squeeze isn't quite a smile, but it doesn't need to be. With notions of a returning assistant fading, Apollo is heading for Samira. "So much art gone up in flames," he tells her. "Are you satisfied?"

A messenger arrives, delivering a message to Duarte before departing.

Swirling the liquor around in her glass, Denica takes a sip and then looks up at Lianne as she approaches. A smile forms, "I sent much of it away to people and places, that inspire it. Though, I have kept a few things, my gallery is over yonder." The princess points at a Lighthouse in the distance, or at least down the beach. It's easy to miss, but hard to not see when its pointed out. "I've decided to unlock some of the more interesting bits," she adds then. Fortunato's mention of her boat makes her smile, "my studio is on a barge, the Art Barge," she explains of that. Then she adds, "this was great, really impactful and a wonderful way to remember an artist," she says of the event to Lianne then.

Duarte crumbles that missive up and tosses that in the flames as well. He's lingering on the edge of conversations, half-listening and half enjoying just being in the beach, in the spring, next to a fire. Gods know when he did that last.

Samira's approving look suggests her agreement with Fortunato's words. "The Art Barge is well worth a visit." Her gaze slides toward Apollo, watching his approach with a welcoming regard. "I am. It's cathartic. And pretty to watch too, huh?" She juts her chin toward the crackling flames, momentarily mesmerized.

Once Lianne's spotted the lighthouse that Denica points out, she angles a look toward Apollo, brows arched high. Surely, /he/ knows what she means without any need to say anything, but for others' sake, she suggests, "We'll have to visit," with a very nearly hopeful tone. Her expression warms for the appreciation for the event, and she murmurs a quiet, "Thank you. I hadn't expected such interest. Mae would've loved this. Other artists--" She sneaks a look toward Samira, too, with a smile. "--burning their own work. It's been lovely. Something I've needed for a long time, I think." Fortunato, then, gets her attention, offered a grateful smile for his encouragement and help.

Stanley nods at Ferrando, "A man of many talents. We'll likely cross paths on our rounds." He turns his gaze back to the flames and then to the approaching squire, sharing a quiet word. "Duty calls. It was good to meet you, Ferrando." With a nod to the hosts, he takes one last gaze into the fire before departing.

"Likewise, Sir Stanley. May you walk your chosen path," Ferrando declare affably before regarding the now more artistic bonfire. It still kinda looks like a regular bonfire. A little belatedly, he turns to other parts of the crowd. "There's an art barge?" he repeats curiously.

Apollo glances past Samira at Lianne, brows lofting as he gives a little turn of his head, smiling. The air is very 'isn't it lovely when date night arranges itself?' He makes note of Denica - the first he's connected all those dots. But he turns his eyes back on Samira, then on the fire. "I like them better when it's cold, but there will always be something about a fire, mm?"

A smile is given to Lianne at the mention of a visit, "always a delight to have people come and experience what they'd like to." Then she sips her drink. Ferrando's question is met with an enthusiastic nod, "yes. At the docks, in the Lowers. You really can't miss it. It's a huge barge, painted with every possible colour I could create." That is probably enough directions one would need.

Pasquale finds himself a spot from which he can enjoy the fire and the sea.

"It's been a good night," Fortunato accedes in an undertone.

"Sure will. There's something poignant about how it eases the cold and the darkness." A pause follows, Samira's nose crinkling as she considers but comes up short. "There's probably something more to be made of that, but you're the one with poetic abilities. Not me," she notes to Apollo, lips twitching into the beginnings of a grin.

Conversations continue as the night draws on. Lianne saves a couple of pieces for when the fire starts to die, feeding it the last two without commentary to keep the blaze alive. It's a good night.

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