Light's Crossing

An east-west stone perimeter wall spreads off to the south, bisected near the bluff's end by a cobblestone road that leads down to the shore of the Fastheld River.
The fledgling settlement of Light's Crossing - founded in the year 624 by Orell Mikin - has started growing along the neatly maintained roads, which cut through a grassy sward, relatively flat, with an expanse of short greenish-blue blades broken here and there by the occasional shardwood tree and clumps of green-stalked weeds.
The soil providing sustenance for the grass is rich, dark and loamy. Once in a while, longflank hares and other small wild animals can be seen rustling through the grass.

The beautiful little settlement of Light's Crossing lies on higher ground from the nearby Fastheld River, affording a wonderful view of the surrounding landscape: river and shoreline in the north, forest and fauna in the south.

Currently, the entire crossroad of the settlement is buzzing with activities with a giant pavilion set up with cooking supplies and plenty of seats and a central dance and performing area. Bards and musicians have started a series of songs as the event begins.

The Mikin Ducal guards, with the gleaming silver armor signature of Orell Mikin's personal detachment, are very much in evidence, standing around the pavilion to keep the peace during the event.

Slowly untying the reins of her horse from the back of the carriage, Vora leads her horse towards the stables. A few coins are pressed into the stablehand's palm and the horse is lead into the stable. She claps her hands together to dust them off, and glances around at the ducal guards. The young Zahir then sets off, weaving her way into the crowd.

Jaltham Siltwater comes to the settlement some distance after Vora Zahir, though close enough behind that the dust has only just settled. His chestnut brown shire horse, the lazy creature that it be, wastes no time in coming to a slow trot the moment it is within sight of the settlement and the stables. "You're lucky that I can't pull that wagon myself...," the waterman threatens in a half-teasing voice, as he brings the horse to a halt and dismounts. He leads the horse towards the stables on foot, offering it a dismissive, though friendly pat on the left flank as the stableboy takes him away.

Gersch Wind unties his horse from the carriage he has just arrived in, then nods to the driver as he leaves. He pauses a moment, looking around and gathering his bearings. With a meandering stride he makes his way to what he thinks is the gathering place for the hunt.

Standing under the protection of the pavilion, Laoya remains quiet observing from the hood of her cloak, tilted up against the smell of so many people and animals. Her hand reaches back into the satchel over her shoulder, gracefully plucking a silk object from it's interior and holding it loosely between her fingers. Spotting Vora, she gives a slight wave with her other hand after pulling her gloves off and folding them away.

Intrepid has arrived. Ester rides Intrepid in from Light's Crossing Shore.

Having alighted from her carriage, Wicelilla lifts her gaze to survey her surroundings, and she stops at the all too familiar form of the Duke. She glances down to the bundle in her arms, pulling back the cloth briefly to check whatever is wrapped inside. Satisfied, she approaches slowly with a charmed smile.

Orell Mikin is standing under the pavilion, giving last minute instructions to the bards and musicians. At the sight of Wicelilla, he beams, "Guildmistress, it's a great pleasure to have you here. Did you have any problems finding the place?"

As he makes his way to the pavilion, Gersch stops to talk to a local man. With a lopsided grin, he flicks the edge of his cloak over his shoulder and rests his hand on his belt. "G'day fer a hunt, eh, Donevor?" he drawls. The older man nods and scratches the scruff on his chin. "Aye," he says. "G'd enuff to bring out the nobles." He lifts his chin and chortles. Gersch pats the man's shoulder with a strong palm. "Well, 'n good Light t'ye," he says, then finds a place near enough to hear the proceedings, but also near the edge where he can keep rein on his horse.

From Intrepid's saddle, A cloaked figure rides in from the shorline and draws close to the edge of the pavillion near where the duke is standing. A large obsidian logbow rests across her lap. With little ceremony, a gloved hand pulls the hood back revealing her blond hair that is currently tied tightly back in a twisted braid. Silently she surveys the crowd with an appraising look.

Not too long after Ester rides into the town from the shore, another rider, cloaked in black, arrives via the shore. He doesn't seem in too big a hurry to pull his hood back, however.

Jaltham Siltwater offers the stablehand a slight, appreciative nod, and than shifts his attentions towards the pavillion. With that as a focal point, he allows his gaze to drift back and forth for the moment, taking in the crowd as he stands in place. He than makes a slight nod to himself, unconsciously sending his hands to smooth the exposed edges of his unfirom. He than works the lacings of his leathers, ensuring them to be taught. Last, his hands make an idle feel-check at the hilts of his dagger and knife before starting in the direction of the Duke and his entourage. - While not clad in full silver like the others of Orell's detachment, his gloss-black leathers are well kept, and accented with a set of gleaming silver pauldrons.

Still walking through the crowd, Vora turns around to look towards the Pavilion. Seeing the Duke, she turns around and walks towards the Duke, keeping her eyes upon him as she weaves and dodges around those who are gathered tightly around the square. "Your Grace," comes the greeting towards Orell, and Vora dips into a curtsey.

"Oh no, Your Grace," Lia replies cheerfully, shifting the bundle in her left arm slightly and lifting it. "It was rather quick and even a smooth ride, so we made it in time--I hope?" She glances about at the other arrivals and smiles pleasantly, looking rather pleased with the prospect of serving so many people with her culinary talents. "I do apologize, though," she murmurs, pausing as the Lady greets the Duke. She offers Vora a respectful smile before glancing back to Orell. "I did not feel I could leave him home with no one around. His father is off on a trip at the moment."

Rythiliam quite nearly tumbles out of the carriage he arrives in, face glistening with sweat despite the cold and breath coming in ragged gasps. He lifts a sleeve to wipe off his brow, afterward running his hand through his unkempt hair. For a moment he stands still, hands on his knees to catch his breath. Not long after does he straighten up and stride towards the crowd. Eyeing the people nervously, he stops just barely within hearing range.

Orell Mikin bows his head back to Vora with a smile, "Lady Vora, most glad you can make it. Did you see your cousin about? Lady Naya? " he then replies to Lia, "Oh, it's not a problem, I look forward to tasting your wonderful food again."

Sighing softly to herself, Laoya sinks further back into the pavilion, winding aimlessly around the bards and food tables as she waits to speak with someone. She finally pushes her hood back to reveal her features, a slight wrinkle of her nose the only indication that a smell seems to be bothering her delicate senses. She moves closer to the food to exhange unwanted smells for that of mouth-watering treats.

From Intrepid's saddle, Ester settles back in her saddle and looks up at the roof of the pavillion with look boardering on boredom on her face. She fingers the carvings on the bow on her lap as she waits.

Vhramis has left. Vhramis mounts Allegiant and settles into the saddle.

From Allegiant's saddle, Vhramis remains mounted and seperate as well, riding closer into the town but off to the side, finding a location where he can watch in peace.

The smile is returned to Wicelilla and Vora gives her a curtsey. She straightens up and inclines her head towards Orell. "Ah, Lady Naya. I'm not sure if she will be here. I saw her earlier today, and entertained her at my estate. She seemed quite tired though, perhaps she is still resting there." A quick glance is given about the pavilion and the Zahir smiles. "Things are looking quite well, and under way, your Grace."

Gersch speaks in low tones to a few men nearby, apparently familiar with a few of the citizenry. Green eyes flash with a touch of humor, and he chuckles slightly.

Rayk Nillu steps out his carriage quietly, glancing about the gathered group of people. He quirks a brow, then turns to untie his horse from the carriage. After said carriage leaves, he snags the reins and guides the horse over, looking through the crowd and pavilion alike.

Glancing down at the flutter favor in her grasp, Laoya gives a tiny sigh and tucks it into her corset, content to merely smell the wonderful food that she couldn't dare eat since the tightness of her corset restricts even eating the smallest of morsels. She paces aimlessly, consumed by the urge to hop on her horse and escape.

From Reliable's saddle, The sounds of merriment and feasting reach Rowena's ears on this still night before the sights of individual celebrants can be seen milling about the torches' glows. Halting Reliable a minute's trot from the celebration, Rowena takes a moment to settle her nerves, watching. The maids and a local healer were left to take care of Moira in her absence, given strict orders to send for her immediately if trouble did arise. Yet...the uncertainty of what her actions may bring in consequence holds a heavy weight in her gut.

Sighing, the duchess lowers her head to toy with the belt that fastens her tunic to her waist. A hunting they would go...but she'd not be holding the spear.

Wicelilla Smithy moves out of the way of yet more incoming people, and her gaze drifts out along the edge of the square. She watches the people on horses move carefully about, and gently pats the bundle in her arms as it emits a sleepy whimper and a squirm. "'tis just horses and people, Aorus," she murmurs beneath her breath to the baby, glancing up once more to the gathered people. "Back to sleep with you, we'll be in the kitchens working soon enough."

Rythiliam inhales and exhale slowly, his white breath seeming to catch in his moustache. The man examines all of his equipment with a trained scrutiny, twanging his bowstring and testing the edge of his knife on the corner of his doublet. His arm reaches over behind him, fingers feeling the feathers of his arrows and counting them carefully. Satisfied with this, he gives a slight nod to no one in particular. Ryth takes a generous step away from the crowd, and finding this unsuitable, he takes a second.

Jaltham Siltwater does not make haste in his walk from the stables and towards towards the Pavilion and the Duke, resuming the back and forth shift of his squinting gaze as he observes the crowd. He than comes to a sudden halt, his eyes growing wide in momentary surprise (which equates to a normal gaze) and than narrow to aleer (which equates to seeming to be asleep), before once again widening to their usual squint. He alters his course to head in the direction of Rayk Nillu, good natured expression having hardened into something more less expressive.

From Allegiant's saddle, The jet black shire, Allegiant, paws at the ground with one of it's hooves, snorting out a cloud of misty breath into the cold air. Vhramis remains watching on top, sheltered from the cold and scrutiny by the cloak.

Orell Mikin smiles towards Rowena as he notices her, stepping forward to offer his arm to help her dismount. After he is done, he gestures to the musicians who then play a loud rousing note to bring the attention to the Duke, and Orell Mikin begins to speak.

"Thank you, all of you, who are here to attend the Light's Crossing Hunting Festival. It is a tradition that I hope to start this year in the settlement and I look forward to the hunters of the realm coming to the River District to attend this festival every year! Will all the participants report to Steward Tanns over there?" Orell announces and then points to a gruff-appearing man standing just outside the pavilion, "He'd take your entry! And when it passes midday, we'd start the hunt off!"

Gersch inclines his head to locate the Steward, then hands his horse's reins off to a young stable hand nearby. He saunters to the table, hand resting on his crossbow to keep it from banging against his leg. With a flourish, he gestures to his older hunter friend to take a place in front of him in line. As he waits, he rocks on his heels.

From Allegiant's saddle, And so Vhramis sets his horse off towards Tanns, bringing him along to the line before being forced to dismount. He takes Allegiant by the reins and waits to register.

Rythiliam visibly perks up upon hearing the announcement, and he does one final, hurried look-through of all his equipment. The man's eyes glance up to the sky for a moment, and for a moment those grey orbs become glazed over, his mind apparently lost somewhere else. He shakes it off quickly and strides over to the Steward, a fierceness about his demeanor and a determination in his slight smirk.

From Intrepid's saddle, Ester turns her attention to the steward but makes no move in that direction. She watches the men who begin to line up.

The steward stands there, taking the entries, "The individual participants, please raise up your hand! And indicate your weapon of choice! You would be starting off soon, remember EIGHT hours is your limit and you must bring back each of your hunt before going out for another!"

Gersch turns toward the Duke as he makes his instructions clear, then chuckles to Tanns. "Wind is the name, Gersch Wind," he drawls. "And I be tak'n out a crossbow fer todays hunt. Dunno how long I'll stay. Depends on the huntin' Ah gather." He glances at the others, grinning self-assuredly, then steps aside.

From Intrepid's saddle, Ester finally slides from her saddle and walks over to the stewards table. She clutches the longbow in her hand and bumps it lightly against Vhramis's back. "Hey," she comments and smiles a little.

Rythiliam nods in affirmation to the steward's instructions, though no one is likely to see it. He raises one hand, gripping a sturdy oaken shortbow. The other hand taps on the hilt of his knife impatiently, his expression bordering on agitation. "Rythiliam Zephyr, an' yon shor'bow is mah weapon," he calls out, deep baritone voice accented heavily.

From Allegiant's saddle, Vhramis seems about to speak, before he turns about at the poke to his back, blinking. His surprised look fades to be replaced with a smile. "Hey," he responds. He looks from her to the table again, before shaking his head. "I thought I wanted in on this...but I'm thinking differently now. Good luck to you if you're taking part, Ester." He turns Allegiant about and begins to lead him a bit away from the line.

Slowly sauntering over to Orell's side, Laoya allows her favor to flutter over his shoulder before placing it in his hand, leaning close to his ear to speak in a soft tone, "I don't see anyone that catches my fancy, Your Grace. Perhaps this will bring you luck to your first offical event at your beautiful homestead." She then moves back a few paces after allowing her hand to lightly brush his arm, giving Vora a slow nod of awknowledgement.

Laoya Zahir gives Violet Silk Favor to you.

Orell Mikin widens his eyes at Laoya but he isn't about to offer a discourtesy to a guest so he takes the favor with a bow, "Thank you, m'lady. I hope that I will share a dance with you later."

The steward then peers over to the guildmistress of the hunters guild, recognizing her, "Ahh, Guildmistress Ester, would you be joining us? You can start off the hunt first." as he notes that the details of the various hunters

From Intrepid's saddle, "Aye, I am." Ester replies simply with a bow of her head.

Laoya Zahir arches a brow with a faint smile as she replies to Orell. "I would be honored Your Grace. I do hope it brings you luck, and that are as graceful as you seem. My toes are delicate." Her eyes flash with amusement before flitting over to the contestants, one hand rubbing absently against the pendant that rests upon her throat.

Wicelilla Smithy lingers in the background, shifting her weight from one foot to the other as she watches the hunters prepare in their various ways. People watching is her most favorite pasttime ever, and she is quite content to sway gently and soothe her child as she gazes at the others. An amused smile tugs at the corners of her lips as she stops for a moment to watch the Duke's interactions, and then her attention wanders on.

From Allegiant's saddle, Once at a safe distance away, Vhramis remounts his horse, settling into the saddle, and looking off to the surrounding area with a somewhat distant expression.

At that, it appears to be noon.. And the steward hands a golden horn over to Orell, with the musicians playing a rousing note. The Mikin Duke then stands on the raised dias to offer a blessing, "May the hunters today bring back the best and most prized hunts to our people, may the Light bless them!" and he lifts the magnificant horn to his lips and blows, the rousing blare for the hunters to head off, led by Ester.

From the periphery, Gersch regards Rythiliam a moment, then strides over to the man, hand outstretched. "G'light t'ye, Sirrah," he says. "Hope yer sights are true and sound t'day." His manner seems genuine and open.

Jaltham Siltwater comes to a halt once again, brought to the decision to break from his pursuit of Rayk Nillu at Orell's annoucment. He continues to stare in that direction a moment, allowing himself the luxury of a slow sigh, before turning about. He starts towards the Duke once again, this time pace quickened to that of a double-time trot. - Quiver and baldric rattle from the motion, additions to his equipment specific for the event. He comes to a halt somewhere behind the Duke, that he might blend in with the rest of the entourage, should he not be acknowledged.

Orell Mikin stands on his dias to send the brave hunters off, the young and the experienced mingling to seek their fortunes that day. He smiles towards those around and now starts playing host to them, "I believe Guildmistress Ester will be bringing back a huge bear for us to feast on soon."

The crowd shifts and Gersch's greeting goes unnoticed. With a shrug, he makes his way back to his horse and mounts it with little preamble. With a nod to the other hunters, he canters out of the village to the north. A few yards into the woods, he dismounts again and finding an interesting spoor, heads off in the direction of his prey. He unclips a bolt from his belt and fits it to his crossbow. Silently, he makes his way deeper into the wood.

Leaning heavily on a gnarled birch quarterstaff, a stocky older woman makes her way towards the group behind the hunting party, her movements slow and deliberate. Her face grim, she licks her lips in determination, her face blooming in a damp glow. A hand moves up to bat at a long strand of hair, and after a moment's focus on this task, she begins her journey again, her eyes scanning those visible to her.

Laoya Zahir pales slightly at the thought of eating bear, fanning her flushed cheeks with her hand as she watches Orell with a sort of morbid curiousity. Finally turning her attention elsewhere, a blank look seems to have settled upon her face, a sure sign of boredom.

From Intrepid's saddle, Ester climbs onto the saddle and motions the other hunters to fall in behind her. "Let's ride," she calls out in a clear voice. A snap of the reigns and she a her horse set off at a gallop.

From Allegiant's saddle, Vhramis doesn't choose to leave just yet, instead remaining where he sits on his horse and pulling out a small strip of dry meat to absently chew on.

Taking advantage of the moment, Wicelilla weaves her way nearer to the Duke so as to listen in and see what game might be on the way. At the mention of bear she coos happily and leans close to him, murmuring, "I know a recipe for some delicious potatoes to go with bear.."

Rythiliam slips away as all the bustle of registering and such is over, booted feet guiding him into the forest. He darts away to try and break off from the rest of the hunters, gladly sprinting through. He skids to a stop, detecting something about him. Ryth lowers into a stealthy crouch, sliding an arrow out of his quiver to notch it with nary a noise.

From Reliable's saddle, Watching the hunters ride away from the camp setting, Rowena takes a deep breath and mutters a few words to send herself forwards. Reliable trots evenly over the whispering grasses, his step high and proud. With squared shoulders beneath the heavy layer of her draping cloak, Rowena presents a rather regal image herself. The dark material of her wardrove enhances the dramatic contrast of her dark curls against bleakdreary-paled cheeks. Her silent lips are lain peacefully in a sober line, doting little emotion to her face as she and her mount make a steady approach from the east towards the tents and festivities.

Rayk Nillu continues wandering around the crowd until he spots Vora, weaving his way through people to stand behind her quietly. "Good eve, milady Zahir. May I stand here?" He murmurs quietly, a slight smile creasing his features.

Focused on his prey, Gersch crouches low behind a bush and sights a bushdragon in the distance. From his position, he lets the bolt fly and it pierces the beasts flank. A startled keen can be heard from the beast, then the sound of branches and underbrush crackling beneath paws as the beast flees. Gersch is heard to swear under his breath as he takes off after the bushdragon at full tilt, a practiced hand already fitting another bolt to his crossbow.

Turning away from the action now, Vora gives Rayk a warm smile and shifts, moving herself a little bit closer towards the Nillu. "I would be sorely disappointed if you didn't, Baron," she says, dipping in a light curtsey towards him. "Enjoying yourself, this eve?"

Jaltham Siltwater stands near to Orell, though somewhat behind. He sends one hand over his shoulder to re-adjust the baldric, returning it to a somewhat more natural position for wear. His left hand takes an idle rest against the hilt of his dirk, the right hand allowed to hang loose at his side - no convienient hilt or other object to find rest on.

Orell Mikin smiles to Jaltham, "I'm really looking forward to the evening. Are there any security concerns? You'd lead my security contingency today."

Hearing a gentle rustle above and behind him, Ryth whirls about, firing off an arrow. The dull thunk of the arrowhead hitting wood is what he is rewarded with, and the panicked flutter of a moss jay's wings as it flies away. He mutters under his breath, sighing and notching another arrow. He resumes his stalking, occasionally emitting an odd call or two to attract game.

From Intrepid's saddle, Sometime later Ester gallops back into town and reigns in the shire as they approach the pavillion. Slung across the back of her saddle is the form a rather large reptile like animal. Two quick slashes of knife on hemp rope and the bonds are cut. She flings the carcass down on the ground in front of the table. "Done," she states loudly.

The steward widens his eyes as Ester /already/ brings back such a bushdragon in the first hour, "And Guildmistress Ester gets her first of the day, a beautiful bushdragon!" Duke Mikin announces upon seeing the first

Slinking back into the depths of the tent, Laoya seems ill at ease and restless as she paces silently among the loudly exhuberant guests that mingle near the food. Her hands restlessly smoothe over the fabric of her dress before she finds a fairly comfortable place to sit.

Rayk Nillu positions himself behind Vora, a gentle hand on her shoulder, "Then it would be my pleasure to be here." He smiles, a slight gleam in his eye. Teasingly, he adds "I was looking about the ground until now, having found my own prey for the evening, milady."

From Reliable's saddle, Bounce...bounce...bounce... Glowering at the pair of slippers that thump into her hide as the saddlebag is jostled in the journey, Veda releases a tiny whine of displeasure. The sound is lost to the rider of course, hardly penetrating the leather pouch that the mongoose has been stuffed into. In between close encounters with the slipper, Veda wriggles her lithe figure around to peep her nose through a crack in the bag's flap, catching scents of passing grass and tree.

Either ignorant or simply nonchalant to her pet's curiosity, Rowena doesn't glance to the wiggling that shifts the saddlebag behind her thigh. Instead, her attention is directed ahead to the assembled bodies and musicians. The soft beat of music passes through her ears without much of a strike into her soul. Rather the duchess seeks her brother's form. She continues the vigilant scouring of the crowd while guiding her horse towards the stables, reins held loosely in her palms.

From Allegiant's saddle, Leaning to the side slightly, Vhramis spits out a small bit of something to the ground. Probably some gristle.

Turning briefly as Rayk moves himself behind her, Vora's stance relaxes slightly but she keeps her back straight and held up high. Her gaze returns back to the hunters and a smirk slides over her features. "And who, pray, would be the lucky," and here Vora turns to raise an eyebrow at Rayk, her own voice teasing, "or unlucky young lady?"

Barrelling through the brush at an angle to the bushdragon, Gersch anticipates that the beast will try to find shelter near a stream. He follows a thin trail and waits behind a rock for only a moment, when the bushdragon appears, limping badly, making his way to the water's edge. Gersch sights the beast's head, then looses a bolt straight into its eye. The beast does nothing but freeze in his motion then falls over. Gersch whistles to his horse who comes and stands obediently still while the hunter loads his prey onto his back.

Rythiliam pauses, thinking that on a wild chance he might be able to shoot down that moss jay. He pivots about on his heel, fairly locking on to that small fluttering blur and firing away. He is met with a satisfying squawk of death, and a plopping sound as a corpse hits the ground. Ryth runs over to his dead prey, picking it up by the legs and starting to head back to turn it in.

Orell Mikin stands near the pavilion to wait for the rest of the hunters to bring in more game for the evening.

"I've noticed nothing grave, Your Grace." Jaltham states, his focus on everyone other than Orell at this moment. He than spares time to offer his lord a nod of acknowledgement of his order, keeping his attention there just long enough to show respect without neglecting his duties. He swallows, than returns his gaze to the crowds. "I've asked the tower archers to spare some attention for the road leading to the settlement, given all of the travellers that will be about..." He than grows silent a moment, before suggesting. "In the future, I think we ought spare some men to set lantern posts along the shoreline."

Rayk Nillu hmmms quietly, glancing about the crowd, "She would be most unlucky, having to deal with someone such as myself." He muses playfully, eyes shifting to look at Vora again, "I haven't happened to have ran into too many lovely Zahir noblewomen tonight, so I would suppose the one I do manage to speak to would be the unlucky prey."

Gersch returns with a bushdragon over his saddle. Sliding off his horse, he cuts the beast free, and hauls it to the Steward. "Good eating," he says with a salute. Then he heads off back into the woods.

Wicelilla Smithy passes near Orell and smiles at him, giving a slight curtsey - as much as the akwardness of carrying an infant will allow - and moves up onto the pavilion to prepare for the cooking. She finds a cozy place to rest her child, and first drops down her leather pouch to lay him in. Once establishing his comfort, she keeps her hand on his stomach and glances up toward the returning and disappearing hunters.

Creeping through the forest again, though on a different path, he finds himself more at ease than when he is in crowded pavilions. His bow notched and ready, the hunter keeps up and alert. His roving eyes graze over a vaguely camouflaged shape, then return there. He squints at the shape, then appraises it to be an animal of some sort.

Gersch decides to follow some tracks he had seen at the creek where he felled the bushdragon. On instinct he follows them again, keeping to the wooded side of the creek. Eventually he hears the call of rock wolves at a nearby ravine. Dismounting, he stealthily approaches the ravine edge and sets his sights once more.

From Reliable's saddle, "Fatten yourself now.." Rowena mutters to her eager horse as it enthusiastically plods into the stables. Once she can hold the beast still, she slips a trouser-clad leg over the saddle and drops both heels into the straw. A quick peek into the saddlebag and offering of food silences the mongoose's complaints. Handing Reliable to the stablehands at last, Rowena leaves the potent smell of manure behind in favor of the gathering.

A twinging feeling in the back of his neck, a slight itch on his elbow tells him that the game isn't as large as it appears. He aims carefully, making minute adjustments to the stress on the bowstring and the angle of the arrow as he feels the air. His fingers release the weapon into flight, striking a chitter deftly for an easy death. A slight disappointment shows in his eyes as he gathers it up and returns to the pavilion.

The Steward Tanns now shouts out the latest returns, "Wind brings back a bushdragon too, and Rythi a Moss Jay. Little bird the moss jay is, but tender and delicious when cooked!"

The bolt flies from Gersch's crossbow piercing the rock wolf's shoulder. The beast staggers forward, his muzzle burying into the wet earth, before he hauls himself back up and tries to escape the ravine. Gersch runs parallel along the edge and fits another bolt to his crossbow.

"Then I shall take my chances with luck." Vora continues to watch the hunters come and go, dropping the game and heading out once more. Briefly she turns to look towards Rayk once more and finally turns so that she faces him. "Do you come prepared to dance, Baron Nillu?"

Laoya Zahir brings forth a letter from her satchel and reads quietly in the corner, perching a delicate pair of gold-rimmed reading glasses upon her nose. Her eyes flick over to Vora and the man that accompanies her, but since Vora's seen fit to ignore her greetings so far, she doesn't bother to try again.

Orell Mikin steps over to his sister and offers his arm, "This is looking to be wonderful, already so many game for the cooks and butchers to work on. The feast tonight will be sumptious"

Gersch manages to overtake the wolf and sights it once more, letting a bolt fly free. The wolf's gutteral cry fills the ravine as his neck is pierced by another bolt. Gersch waits a moment before he makes his way down to the wolf. Checking to be sure it is dead, the hunter again whistles for his horse, deftly extracts the bolts from the wolf's body, and hauls it up onto his shoulders. An hour later, Gersch is seen arriving into town, dismounting and depositing the wolf at the startled Steward's feet. "One less t'worra about," he comments, before once again heading out into the wood.

Rythiliam frustrated at such small game, he slinks back into the forest with less enthusiasm in his steps. He travels deeper into the wood than before, and stands still in amongst the trees. He strokes the bark of one lightly, almost tenderly. The motion prompts a crackling of twigs just out of his field of vision, and he slowly turns his head to find a deer, posed in fear and staring straight at him.

A small figure attemps to push her way through the throng of people gathered to watch, moving towards the pavilion. She stands on her toes for a second, and the top of her blond head is visible for a moment in the crowd, before it sinks back down, lost once more in the crowd of people.

From Allegiant's saddle, Vhramis finally turns Allegiant about and sets off towards and down the road, moving at an unhurried pace, the man's face distracted and distant.

Perhaps the deer found his eyes daunting, dashing away. Rythiliam is right on the trail, chasing after it with a renewed energy running through his body. Almost recklessly he follows, tripping over tree roots while fumbling to load his bow properly.

As noble and commoner alike thread through the area, Rowena navigates with deliberate step towards the pavillion. When Orell appears from the maze of bodies, a bit of relief seeps into her widened eyes. "I can only imagine. Let us hope there's enough meat fetched for all...without injury." A hint of a smile touches her lips as she curls a hand over the offered arm and uses the other to draw her cloak partially over her front.

Rayk Nillu eyes Vora up and down quietly, "Maybe." He smirks, leaning on his back leg softly, "A dance I still owe, yes? When the music plays, you grab me. I'll do my best to keep up, yes?"

Orell Mikin notices the blond hair of the diminutive figure and heads towards her, drawing Rowena along if she wants to. He smiles to Rowena, "Indeed, that appears to be Viscountess Lillymere. Let's go over. In any case, you're here, sis. I'm sure they won't be smarting when they leave." he grins

"Ethcuse me!" Lillymere says breathily, pushing out from between two people and emerging from the throng, just in front of the pavillion. She tilts her blonde head back to look at the sky for a moment, it is covered with clouds, purply red in the evening sky.

Jaltham Siltwater moves with Orell in the direction of the stable, coming to a stop somewhat behind him and towards one side. When the Duke moves once more, the waterman does not, and instead breaks off towards the Mercantile to conver with one of the guardsmen near there.

"My hands are tired, Orell..." Rowena sighs in response to his grinning remark. "And my thoughts more so. If there be a man here tonight foolish enough to be struck with his own bow, I just may turn a blind eye." She follows him over the pavillion's floor, towards the viscountess, though her gaze drifts elsewhere. Had she seen the flailing fists of an infant?

Gersch decides that the creek is a good hunting ground and after an uneventful hour of searching he finds a group of Anae Stork at the shore. Sighting the grouping, he lets another bolt fly and soon, he returns to the village with a bird in a sling. Handing it down to a harried cook, he tips his hand to her and heads back into the wood.

Orell Mikin nods to Rowena, giving her a brief hug, "I know, these weeks must have been terribly tiring for you. Is the Sister making progress?"

"I'm not sure that's entirely proper, Baron," Vora fights the urge to chuckle and succeeds for the most part, merely smiling broadly at Rayk. "After all, shouldn't you approach me for my hand, and not the other way around?"

Tucking away the letter after folding it carefully and precisely back into its original form, Laoya turns her attention back to the crowd, idly watching people as her attention starts to wilt.

Lillymere steps into the pavillion, looking around at those assembled within

Whizzing through the air willy-nilly, an arrow was sent toward the deer. It went quite astray, to say the least. Rythiliam furrows his brow, now losing sight of his prey. The deer releases a slight gasp as one hoof is caught in a poorly made trap, but it continues to run, regardless.

Once in a while Wicelilla lifts her gaze to wtach the progress of the hunters. In between these glances she bends down over the infant and smiles gently, caressings his bare head and round cheeks. She murmurs incoherent things beneath her breath in a high-pitched coo for her son, and checks all the while to make sure his wrapping is sound and warm.

Muscles and eyes starting to ache, Gersch decides to ride in a new direction, cantering toward a familiar headland where he had seen a group of lowland bison in previous weeks. Entering the clearing he pauses and surveys the stand, looking for the choicest beast among them. Like a vinter purveying a new crop of grapes, Gersch's trained eye focuses on one, and he raises his crossbow once more.

Rayk Nillu returns Vora's grin, offering his hand to her gently, "Then perhaps I should stay at your side for the rest of the evening, so when it is time to dance, I may ask you right away without having to search. Would allow more time, wouldn't you think, my dear?" He winks slightly, the gleam returning to his eyes.

Lillymere reaches up to touch her hair, giving it one final pat to make sure every lock, tress and curl is in its place. She pulls one down so that it frames her face, lying against the side of her cheek. Her green gaze darts around, looking at the faces in the pavillion

In one last desperate attempt, he surges forward, leaping up onto the back of the deer. His knife he draws skillfully, with a practiced hand. In one fluid motion he slashes across the throat of the game, bringing down and him with it. Luckily, he ends up with rattled vision for a moment. As it clears, he realizes the deer is dead. He cleans off his blade on the grass and hefts the carcass up, regretting now the fact that he chose to go so far from town.

The shot is clean through the bison's eye and it falls heavily to the ground. Gersch fits the crossbow to his belt once more and clucks his tongue to urge Birch toward the dead beast. With little preamble, Gersch sets to the grisly work of field butchering the beast, wrapping muscle and sinew into packets with strips of cloth. Two hours later, he returns, armor quite bloody, and saddlebags full of meat. "Steaks! Roasts!" he calls in a growled voice. Kitchen hands come near and he dismounts, handing them armfuls of bison. He stables his horse and goes into the tavern to wash. "Bloody work, bison is," he comments once he is clean. He grabs a bit of food, then seeing that his horse had been watered and fed, he leads Birch back into the wood once more.

Grunting, Brunhilde makes her way to the base of the dais, chuckling lightly. "Plenty of meat.", she says lightly, shaking her head. "Where are the carrot hunters?", she asks to the air. After a moment of looking around, she begins waddling away from the crowd and towards the east.

Vora glances at the proffered hand and trails her gaze up Rayk's arm to his face. She smirks and dips her chin, placing her hand within his. "A sound choice, Baron. Very clever," the smirk returns and she glances away from him to watch as yet a few more hunters come and drop off their game. She looks over the gold chain that hangs around his neck, following it even as the end of the chain disappears beneath the leather. "You do not hunt, Baron?"

Orell Mikin heads over to Lillymere now, and beams to her, "I didn't see you earlier, dear. Where were you? The hunters are underway and lots of game have been brought in!"

Lillymere says with a smile, "Oh! My auntie ithn't feeling well, so I was staying with her. She is asleep now, though, so I thought I would sneak out and say hello!"

Jaltham Siltwater he spends some moments there, speaking in first inquisitive tones and than some that have the vague hint of disappointment. He than nods once, before continuing into the Mercantile itself. He spends some moments inside, before exiting. It takes a him a moment for his gaze to aquire sight of the Duke once more, or rather, the dent in the crowds that his entourage tends to make. His pace is once again brought to a double-time trot.

Full of a new vigor, Rythiliam sets off into the forest. He notes to himself that traveling deeper may not mean bigger game. As he strides about, he catches the tracks of a reptilian creature, fresh. He follows the trail, eyes focused on that and that alone.

Jerked back into the present by Orell's grip about her shoulder and a sudden burst of laughter from a chattering group nearby, Rowena blinks and looks to her brother with a half hearted shrug. "Her health returns. Perhaps more slowly than she wishes..." A very belated reply, as the viscountess had already landed in her brother's attentions. Very well. Easing away with a sideway step, Rowena permits her previous distraction to overrule her manners.

The intrigue shines through her eyes as she wanders nearer to the coddling Wicelilla. The sight of mother and such a tiny child brings a flush of warmth to her features and more genuine smile to her lips. Even in this time of destruction did life continue. In the slanting light and with a sore back and shoulders, Gersh decides to do some birding along the shoreline once more, setting his sights on a group of squawkers. He shakes his head to himself. "It comes to this, eh?" he says to no one in particular. "Well, they're a nuisance anyway." He lifts his cross bow again and lets another bolt fly.

Rythiliam finally is within sight of the game, a fine-looking bushdragon. He cups a hand over his mouth, calling out to it in fearsome predator cries. It looks up in alarm, scurrying away... into a trap. A smug smirk bends the corners of his lips as he hears the snapping jaw of a metal trap snatching away its life. He fetches the body and returns to town, setting it down carefully. He eyes the sky, mind calculating the time and estimating just enough for one more hunt.

Brunhilde walks away toward the East. Brunhilde has left.

Rayk Nillu lifts Vora's hand up gently, brushing her knuckles with his lips briefly, "I did not become a Baron without a hint of cunning in my blood." He smiles faintly, watching her gaze fall upon her pedant, which he wears under his jerkin. Pulling the chained Zahir ornament out with one hand, the other closes about her smaller hand gently, "I still wear it." He intones quietly, then answering her question, "I do not, was not one of the activities I really enjoyed while growing up. You enjoy the sport, perhaps?"

Gersch grimaces as the shot goes wide and he looks around to see if there are any witnesses. "Dratted things can't keep still," he murmurs, hopping off the saddle. The birds scatter as he retrieves his bolt, fitting it once more and aiming this time toward the sky.

Laoya Zahir starts to doze off in her chair, blinking her bleary eyes back into focus as she jerks upright with a soft sigh, smoothing out the invisble wrinkles in her silk dress. "Well.. almost time to force a bit of food into this corset I suppose." she mutters softly to herself, gazing quietly around the pavilion.

It is full nightfall by the time Gersch returns, a mangled squawker dangling from his saddle. He dismounts finally, and taking the bird, he lifts it up as if it were a prized trophy. "There, that's it," he declares. "A day's hunting done." He hands the bird over to the Steward's aid and goes to brush down his horse. He moves stiffly and slowly as if tired to the bone, which he is.

"Just a hint in your blood?" Vora smiles up warmly at Rayk and makes no move to move her hand away from his. She glances at the pendant and the smile softens while she offers him a nod. "I enjoy the sport, yes. Watching it. A corset makes it quite difficult to participate," she remarks wryly.

Surprised, Rythiliam pauses, almost in disbelief as a deer wanders about in confusion on the border of the forest. He quickly draws his bow, the blood coating his fingers lending a bit of difficulty in the notching. A slicing of the air is heard, and it falls quietly. He, weary and not wishing to heft the body, drags it over to the pavilion to be presented. As he turns away, the clacking of still-moving hooves is heard. Drawing his knife, he whirls about and stabs the deer in the neck. It shudders once before death takes it. A pool of blood gathers about the body, and he walks away with sanguine footprints.

The Steward begins counting and classifying the game that the hunters brought back and looks amazed at the pile of good meat that will be available for the feast later! He shouts out, "Wind, Gersch Wind brought back a Bushdragon, a Rock wolf, a Anae Stork, a Lowland Bison and a Gray Squawker! Rythiliam hunted down a moss jay, a chitter, 2 kahar red deers and a bushdragon!"

With that, Orell Mikin brings his sister alongside him back up onto the Dias, while the musicians blare the note of attention again, "And now, the Feast shall begin with dancing and songs while our butchers and cook work!" he laughs and points towards Wicelilia, "We mustn't forget our dear Guildmistress Wicelilia Smithy who is leading the cooks in this massive endearvor! Thank you, Guildmistress!"

Laoya Zahir joins politely with the boisterous applause, shifting her weight slightly on the chair before sinking back down once again, determined not to appear as alone as she is.

Rayk Nillu chuckles gently, giving her hand a gentle squeeze, "I could see how that may hinder you. Perhaps being without one would improve your chances in the hunt, yes?" He teases playfully, shrugging, "But it is good to have spectators at any event, allows for so many social opportunities, don't you think?"

Wicelilla Smithy blushes at the attention and waves a little wave from her place on the pavillion. Still one hand rests gently near her child as her attention is divided between it and the scurrying workers. Orders are issued in a timely manner and, thankfully, are answered with as much efficiency as possible. Even more fortunate is the fact that none of them have managed to cut themselves yet or scald themselves with boiling liquids. Lia watches carefully from her standpoint, scanning again and again to see if any accidents have occurred yet.

The Duke Mikin laughs and nods to his Steward who brings out two well-made purses, "Well, and of course for the wonderful hunters who joined us tonight!" he waves them both forward, "The winner, my steward informs me, is Gersch Wind! And the runner up, Rythiliam. It was a close thing, the weight of the game was so close they had to bring in more intricate machines. Gersch Wind wins 10000 imperials and Rythiliam 8000! Thank you for your participation!"

The squeeze is returned to Rayk's hand and Vora starts to move away, following the shift of the crowd as the announcements are made. "Come, Baron. I am inclined to search for my cousins, even given the crowd today. There are introductions to be made." She glances back at him and smiles, slipping into the crowd.

Gersch seems genuinely surprised as he steps up to the podium to receive his reward. He is all smiles however as he bows to the Duke and his steward. "M'thanks, yer Graciousness," he says. "Fine day fer huntin' and Light was wid us." He steps aside to allow Rythilian room to gain his prize. "Good work, sirrah," he says to him as he passes.

Orell Mikin nods to Gersch, "A terrific day indeed. We have never seen such a legendary haul in a day that you achieved. This day will be remembered in the history of the settlement."

Rowena refrains from objecting as she's lead to the dais, head held high in recovered grace. Rather than joining her brother in announcements, however, the royal healer is kept busy by flickering a visual examination of the hunters as they return, searching for any noticeable limps or missing limbs. As Gersch and Rythiliam mount the dais, she offers a smile and bow of her head. "Congratulations to you both. I am eager to taste what you've delivered to those who will prepare it."

Rythiliam looks quite baffled that he won runner-up, simply standing there, dumbfounded. He offers to Gersch a nod as passes as well. Blood still on his hands, he wipes it off on the sleeves of his doublet. "Thenk ye," he states simply, his nerves returning as he is up at the podium.

Orell Mikin smiles towards Rythiliam, but seeing the blood on his doublet and his hand, simply smiles and motions the steward forth to place the purse in his hand. He then congratulates the man, "I'm sure we'd enjoy this feast tonight. Thanks to you and the fellow hunters."

Rayk Nillu nods, continuing to hold onto her hand as she wanders the crowd, Rayk close in tow. He nods his greetings to the few people he recognizes as they pass.

Her movements so unobtrusive, Gersch nearly overlooks the Duchess as she stands nearby. Perhaps it is her intense scrutiny that gives him pause or her grace, but nonetheless he pauses and bows stiffly. "Light keep yer Grace," he says. There is a sadness in his eyes, and a kind of tenderness for the woman who stands in such high esteem among her people, many now memory after the destruction Light's Reach. He seems about to say something to her, but thinking the better of it, turns to leave the dais.

Nursing a goblet of wine with a brooding gaze around the pavilion, Laoya's feet move restlessly under her chair, almost as if she was getting up the nerve to leave the celebration. The smell of cooking meat is enough to roll her stomach, yet she manages to plaster a small smile to her face.

Still weaving her way through the crowd with her hand firmly pressed within Rayk's, Vora's strides bring her progressively closer and closer towards the smell of the food. "Perhaps they're over here," she murmurs, stopping suddenly to stand on her tiptoes to scan the crowd. She glances back at Rayk with a wry smile. "I don't suppose you see a young woman with wearing a gray dress, and a black cloak? She's got sable hair and it's braided about her face. I don't think you could miss her, Baron."

Rayk Nillu hmmms, following Vora about, on the look-out for the person she describes. "Is that her over there, sitting on a chair, dear?" He points over towards the food table, hoping to catch her attention.

Following Rayk's arm, Vora looks over to where the Nillu points at, and a smile spreads over her face. "I do believe it is," she says towards him, and turns back to around to walk into the crowd and towards the Zahir sitting on the chair, nursing the goblet. "Lady Laoya!"

Glancing around at the sound of her name, Laoya brushes a stray lock of hair from her eyes with her free hand, taking a deep gulp of her wine with the other. Spotting Vora and her escort, she gives a tiny wave in response, she must be the only lady without an date to this shindig.

And the Duke Mikin is apparently not done! He waves to the guests, "Shall we move the party and celebrations over to Riverview Keep, the seat of this settlement? There'd be wine and food prepared!" The silver-armored guards salutes their duke and prepares to guide the guests inwards to the Keep

Riverview Keep Ballroom

A cavernous white marble chamber with several floor-to-ceiling windows,

banners of yellow trimmed in black and silver hung between them, and cascading silver chandeliers that hang like elegant and expensive stalactites from the ceiling. The ceiling is adorned with colorful frescoes of vistas from prominent sites along the Fastheld River, from Night's Bane to the wharfs at Hawk's Aerie to the wildcat statues of Aegisport.

The white marble floor is kept polished and gleaming by the servants of

Riverview. A raised marble dais in the center of the ballroom provides a performance space for musicians while guests swirl about them in time to the music.

Glass-paned doors open onto the garden, while a pair of biinwood doors

lead to the salon just outside the ballroom.

The cooks of Riverview has already set up a spread of foodstuff and all hot and steaming as they lay on the banquet table. The musicians have moved in and started up the songs and dances.

Laoya Zahir flutters aimlessly around the room glancing at this at that, her cloak and gloves discarded haphazardly and picked up with efficency by a house servant and spirited away for when it is time to leave. Her third, or is it fifth.. wineglass dangles from her fingertips and her eyes are slightly unfocused.

Rayk Nillu follows Laoya Zahir into the ballroom, escorting Vora along quietly, still grasping her hand. Seeing food and drink set out, he murmurs to Vora quietly, "Would you like something to drink? I'm simply parched, if you don't mind dear."

Rythiliam steps inside the ballroom somewhat meekly, uncomfortable at the fact that he's indoors. The soles of his boots, thankfully, are cleaned from walking and his hands have lost their morbid red paint, except for underneath the fingernails. The stink of blood on his doublet doesn't seem to bother him one bit, though. His eyes roam about till they land on the banquet, the main reason he came.

"A glass of wine, if you will, Baron?" Vora smiles at Rayk and slowly slips her hand out of his grasp so that he can move to get a drink, and she can move towards her cousin. "Cousin Laoya?" She walks over towards the other Zahir, watching Laoya's movements carefully. "Are you alright, cousin?"

Orell Mikin follows with the group of serving maid who places the food onto the trays by the banquet table. He notices Rayk and approaches with a warm smile, "Baron Nillu. Most pleased to meet with you."

"Jusss finne!" Laoya exclaims cheerfully, sloshing wine over the brim of her wineglass. Not her fault there was no one to keep her company during the hunt, and the wine was just there. Really. "Isn't thish fun?" she asks, blinking her eyes rapidly as Vora seems to have acquired a twin.

Rayk Nillu releases his grip on Vora's hand, moving to retrieve some wine. Upon being addressed by Orell, he turns his head and smiles faintly, nodding his head to the Duke, "Your Grace, how are you this eve?"

A slightly forced smile comes to Vora's lips and she extends an arm out for her cousin to take, watching the wine slosh out of the glass. "Careful of your dress, cousin. You don't want to get something so nice soiled so quickly now." She glances back towards the hunter Rythiliam, Rayk and Orell, smiling faintly. "Do you feel up for some mingling, cousin?"

Orell Mikin laughs slightly at Rayk, "It has been a most interesting day, and the evening promises to be interesting." he lowers his voice to him, "Would you happen to be courting the Lady Zahir?" he hasn't been /entirely/ overwhelmed by the massive crowd that day!

Entering the Ballroom via the Salon is the Duke Mikin's assistant and jeweler. Mistress Moonstone remains near the entrance with an apprehensive look on her features, the woman rather intimidated by the many noble faces milling about.

Eyeing Laoya warily, he walks towards the banquet table, making a rather unnecessary wide circle to avoid her. He looks upon the food hungrily, immediately setting upon the finely made roast boar. The man seems concerned very little with manners, or of the taste of the dish.

Rythiliam picks up Roast Boar

Laoya Zahir gives a tiny sigh and reliquinishes her goblet to a passing servant before carefully taking Vora's arm and allowing her to lead her about to make introductions. "Yesh.. that is good. Too much wine isn't good for you. I forgot to eat.. this corset you know." Rayk Nillu glances at Orell sidelong, picking up two glasses of wine, one for himself and the other for Vora, "Would I be?" He replies, equally quiet, "That would certainly be rumor worthy, would it not?" He sighs, gazing at Vora for a few moments but smiles, "We shall see, my dear Duke, we shall see."

Nodding sympathetically, Vora gives Laoya's hand a gentle pat. "We'll take a turn about the room, cousin, and I'm sure the air will do you some good. You must eat a little though, I am sure you can?" Spotting the hunter she saw on the podium, Vora calls over to him, "Congratulations," with a polite nod. She glances towards the door as Roxelanna enters, and a warm smile drifts over her face towards the Duke's assistant. A light curtsey is given towards Roxelanna, and Vora slowly moves with Laoya towards the Duke and Baron.

Roxelanna Moonstone picks up Roast Boar

Orell Mikin smiles to Rayk, "We shall, in any case. I wish you the Light's Blessing." he then walks towards the lady who's offered him her favor, and smiles to her, "Lady, would I have the pleasure of a dance with you?"

The Mistress Roxelanna sees Vora and smiles softly, dipping swiftly into a curtsey to return the courtesy. The young woman procedes to enter the Ballroom, deciding milling about is better than standing about.

Blinking her clearing eyes rapidly as Orell appraoches, Laoya gives a small smile to Vora and pats her arm. "Yes.. the air is much better, and I'll have a tart or two to soak up that wonderful wine." Turning to give a steadier curtsey to Orell, she rises gracefully and places a hand lightly on his arm. "Your Grace, I would be most honored to dance, although I must beg of you to not spin me around too much."

Rythiliam , ever the alert one, catches the congratulations. He offers a brief wave of the hand in reply, not even bothering to look over at who called out. He, instead, focuses his attention on the roast pheasant, finding the boar not to his liking. Ryth's hand reaches for a glass of wine, but recalling Laoya, he thinks better of it.

Orell Mikin brings his hand to hers on his arm and pats it lightly, "I will certainly try, milady, if I did not mis-remember, you were more worried that I do not tread on your toes." he laughs then

A light curtsey is given to Orell as he approaches and Vora gently lowers her arm as Laoya removes her hand from it. She moves off to the side as the Duke moves away with her cousin to the dance floor, and strides over towards Rayk with a faint smile on her face.

Rayk Nillu moves to hand Vora her glass of wine, smilin slightly, "A little tipsy, she is?" He notes, sipping from his glass. Upon hearing the music, he smiles, setting the glass aside, "A dance, my dear?"

Laoya Zahir laughs softly and trails her fingertips up Orell's arm to rest lightly on his shoulder as her other grasps his free hand. "Well.. there would be two rules it seems, for this dance to be enjoyable for both parties, Your Grace."

Placing a hand on Rayk's arm and taking a sip out of her glass of wine, Vora sets it down at a side table. She gives a gentle tug on the Baron's arm towards the dance floor and smiles at him. "Shall I lead again, Baron?" She murmurs, a playful sparkle in her eyes.

Finding herself magickaly at the food table, Roxelanna allows her eyes to wander the varied selection. The jeweler takes a small place and begins to choose a few finger foods.

The strong muscles of the young duke lies below Laoya's hand and he nods, "I will certainly try, though I must admit I'm a little tired. Not too tired to dance with a lady who has bestowed her favor upon me." he smiles as he starts dancing, the tiredness showing in his movements as he starts a stately dance, slowly turning in rhythm to the musicians, "I'm afraid we have not been introduced yet, are you perhaps a relation of Lady Vora?"

So there's Doreen Lomasa, showing up a little more than fashionably late, as has been her wont lately. She strolls into the ballroom on her own, and while she does not immediately seek conversation, she passes slowly by those engaged in conversation.

Those muscles are squeezed quite innocently by Laoya's fingers, not her fault she's a bit tipsy and the majority of her dancing at this point in life was lessons from servants and an old doddering aunt. Her eyes blink in suprise as she gives a gusty sigh, "Oh dear, was I really so rude that I did not introduce myself before? The crowd was a bit much for me, so you must accept my apology, Your Grace. I am Lady Laoya Zahir, half-sister of Naya Zahir." she explains contritely, easily making up for Orell's tiredness with the energy of her own steps. "You must ride horses often, Your Grace, or perhaps wield a heavy sword? Such marvelous muscle tone.."

Rythiliam gives a sidelong glance to the occupants of the room, detecting that he doesn't quite fit in with such a class. However, he stays with his unclean clothes and unruly hair, to continue dining upon the food the Duke most generously provided. He keeps to himself, a bit of nervousness showing in the slump of his shoulders.

Rayk Nillu smiles gently, sliding his hand along the length of her arm teasingly until it reaches her hand. "If you want, milady. I would rather not step on your toes with my two left feet if it could be helped at all." He jokes playfully back, following her out to the dance floor.

The Mistress Roxy enjoys a few snacks as she watches the festivities continue along. She catches sight of her duke dancing and grins a bit at the sight.

"At some point, Baron, you will be taught the art of dancing," Vora says with a faint smile as she walks out to the dance floor with Rayk in tow. Her fingers flex and knead against the air for a moment before she finds Rayk's hand, and the other rests on his shoulder gently. She looks over towards Laoya and Orell briefly and turns back to Rayk with a faint smile on his face. "Will I have the pleasure of entertaining you at my estate soon, Baron?"

Rythiliam picks up Blueberry Tart Orell Mikin laughs as he continues moving with Laoya across the dance floor, "You dance fabulously, m'lady Zahir. I do hope the flaws in my own steps will not shadow your dancing." he smiles slightly, "I do try to stray from stepping on your shoes though." he nods, "I train with the longsword and sometimes greatsword. I swim as well. What about you, Lady Laoya?"

Stepping gracefully and deftly avoiding any missteps Orell may make from exhaustion, Laoya offers a dazzling smile before responding, "Not to worry, Your Grace. I think the entire keep is astounded that you are still on your feet at all, after all the wonderful work you have done here and with the event." Her fingertips smooth the fabric over his shoulder as she gives a tiny blush, "I don't do much of anything, Your Grace, except for horseback riding. I'm afraid I am useless with a weapon, however I do hope to learn at least the use of a dagger, as it's almost imperitive that a lady know how to defend herself."

Rayk Nillu attempts to lead the young Vora in a dance around the floor, yet failing that, attempts to keep from trampling his partner or tripping. "It is safe to say that a visit or two could be arranged, especially with such a delightful host as yourself."

Slight pressure is given to Rayk's shoulder as Vora tries to lead him now. Concentration to keep from having her toes crushed means that she's not entirely paying attention to the conversation going on between Laoya and Orell. Perhaps that's for the best. She smiles up at Rayk and nods. "You speak too soon, Baron. You know not if I am a delightful host. Perhaps you place too much pressure on me now." An eyebrow arches upward questioningly and the smile lingers on her lips.

Orell Mikin smiles back to Laoya, "That might not be entirely necessary, having the services of a loyal guardsman will be usually more than enough." he dances with her across the floor as the music gradually winds down, "I'm just glad everyone enjoyed it." He bows towards her with the ending of the music and smiles, "Another one?"

Laoya Zahir tilts her head in agreement with Orell as her skirts swirl about her calves, deftly removing her foot from under his boot just in time to keep her toes from being crushed. "You are right of course, Your Grace. But a guardsmen cannot always be there, and if ever one would be injured.. well, I would rather have a way to defend myself." she replies in a soft tone, coming to a halt as the music fades. "I would enjoy another, but only if you are up to it, Your Grace."

With the aid of a sleeve, Rythiliam removes the last traces of food from the grasping hairs of his moustache. He glances over the remaining dishes on the banquet table, selecting a fairly small pheasant to tuck away in his doublet. Attempting to look completely inconspicuous, he sort of meanders over to the exit, eyes glued to the floor. With nary a goodbye, he departs from the ballroom.

Roxelanna Moonstone puts the small plate down and clasps her gloved handsbehind her back as she moves along the edge of the crowd, trying to avoud interrupting anyone in the middle of a dance.

Rythiliam picks up Roast Pheasant

Rayk Nillu thankfully gives up the leading duties, content to follow Vora now, "Well, to relieve the stress off you..." He smiles faintly, watching her eyes, "I shall bring the wine and see how it goes from there. Yet I am sure you will do just fine."

Rythiliam heads into Riverview Keep Garden. Rythiliam has left.

Orell Mikin nods to Laoya, "That is true as well." as he starts another dance, this time more steady on his foot, "I think your dance is so good it's begun to inspire me." he teases as he begins to lead her into another dance, this one faster.

Seeming her element now that she's leading the dance, Vora glides across the dance floor, a pleased smile on her face. "I shall hold you to your word, Baron," she remarks with mock gravity, and brings them to the halt slowly as the dance comes to an end. She turns to glance towards Roxelanna and then looks at Rayk, staring at a point on his chest. Her lips tug upwards and she shifts away from him a bit. "If you'll excuse me, Baron. I believe I have some business to take care of," she remarks cryptically, moving away from him now towards Roxelanna. He's free to follow if he likes, of course. "Miss Moonstone!"

Laoya Zahir throws back her head with a boisterous laugh, moving a bit more fluidly in the constriction of her corset as it loosens somewhat from the movements of dancing. "I think you were just holding out on me, Your Grace, and allowing me to look good before you dazzled me with your footwork." she teases back.

Roxelanna Moonstone shifts her eyes away from the dancers towards the Lady Zahir. She curtseys politely, "My Lady, light bless you. I do hope you are enjoying your time here? The Duke worked very hard." she smiles warmly at the noblewoman.

Orell Mikin shakes his head, "Let's refrain from complimenting each other overly and just focus on the dance." he beams back at her, "Lady Vora is currently helping me with the Crafts School in the market district and so is Lady Naya. You must consider too, we host numerous events a year and any assistance will be welcomed."

"Light bless you as well, Miss Moonstone," Vora's greeting is warm and as she approaches Roxelanna she drops in a curtsey towards the jeweler as well. "I am enjoying my time, very much so. I hope the same would go for yourself?" She glances towards the Duke again for just a moment. "Surely you had part in the planning of this, did you not?" Another quick look is cast around the ballroom and then the Zahir leans closer towards the young woman. "I've been meaning to pay you a visit and inquire about your talents, actually."

Laoya Zahir tilts her head curiously as she regards Orell through veiled lashes. "Oh? Well I can hardly let my cousins have all the glory, so I do suppose that I must outshine them. What would you have me do, Your Grace?" she asks politely, her eyes sparkling with mischief as he leads her around the room.

Roxelanna Moonstone shrugs softly, "I do what I can for my duke. He hardly needs me really." she smiles and cants her head, "Oh really? Would you like something special made, my lady?" she inquires.

Orell Mikin nods to Laoya, "Besides your wonderful dancing, since your cousin, I assume, Lady Naya has already taken the position of Lady Mistress of Dances, what are your interests?" he asks as he dances, leading Laoya across the dancefloor

A hand reaches out idly for a glass of wine off the tray from a passing server and Vora swirls the goblet gently as she takes a thoughtful expression upon her face. Her lips purse together briefly and then she smiles. "Indeed." Her gaze focuses back on Roxelanna. "I was hoping to have a pendant made for someone who I hold dear," her tones are hushed as she speaks, loud enough for Roxelanna to hear, but likely no one else will be able to.

Laoya Zahir clicks her tongue thoughtfully against the roof of her mouth as she moves effortlessly in Orell's arms, running the tips of her fingers absently over the muscles of his shoulder, "Well.. there's always etiquette, horseback riding, reading, writing.. I'm also rather good at taming, if you needed a teacher for that." she explains in a somewhat distracted manner, finding a lone muscle of great interest in his upper arm and staring at for a moment before shaking her head back into focus.

Roxelanna Moonstone smiles and nods in full understanding. "I get many such requests, my lady. A fine sentiment to want to give back to someone special. And I am honored that you thought of me." she bows her head, "Have you any ideas? Stone and metal-wise?"

Orell Mikin nods to Laoya, "Ahh.. Etiquette. That'd be an interesting field. Teaching the nobles and commoners about proper etiquette and noble bearing and dressing." he looks contemplative, "Would you be able to help me with that?"

A hand idly rises to brush a strand of hair away from her face and Vora presses her lips into a line, gaze clouding once more. Her brow furrows briefly and as she blinks, she clears her expression. "Likely gold, and the gem?" She smiles. "Amethyst." A faint uplifting of her shoulders signals a shrug and the Zahir drinks from her glass once more. "How does that sound, Miss Moonstone?"

Really.. too much can make a lady rather bold. Laoya clears her throat and forces her mind back on the conversation at hand. "Etiquette would be no problem at all, I'm sure I have books back at father's that I could donate for use as well. I do enjoy teaching." she offers with a shy smile.

Roxelanna Moonstone smiles widely at the noblewoman, "I think your dear friend shall find it most lovely, my lady. I shall work tirelessly until it is perfection. Shall you want it engraved?"

There comes a nod from Vora as she takes another drink of wine. She lowers the goblet and smiles. "Aye, yes indeed. I shall get back to you on the contents of the engraving, but yes, I do believe that I shall want it engraved." Her brow furrows again and she lowers her voice once more. "I am very much indebted to you for this, Miss Moonstone."

Roxelanna Moonstone raises a palm and waves the notion off, "My lady, please. It is my job afterall." she smiles glancing at her duke, "It is what I do, and enjoy."

Orell Mikin nods as he peers over to Laoya, "Very well, that would be your job and you can work with the rest of the noble aides to see what you can organise." he raises his brows, "But I do expect you as an administrative of his Majesty, to plan events to further the understanding of the citizens and nobles of etiquette. Alright?" his voice turns serious at the end as work tends to make him.

Straightening up now, Vora gives Roxelanna faint smile, and a nod of her head. She glances back towards the dance floor to watch the Duke and the other Zahir dance for a moment. Her gaze then turns away towards the exit and after a short pause of deliberation, the goblet of wine is set down, only half-full. "I believe I've had my fill of entertainment for the day," her farewell is perhaps a bit stiff, and she dips in a curtsey towards Roxelanna. "Light keep you, Miss Moonstone. I shall be in touch." Not wanting to bother the host, who is currently dancing, she merely makes her exit quietly.

Vora Zahir heads into Riverview Keep Salon. Vora Zahir has left.

Roxelanna Moonstone curtseys to the lady Zahir and watches her make her way out. She moves on towards a seat to enjoy the sounds and sights of the dance.

Laoya Zahir straightens her shoulders and gives a tiny nod in response to Orell's serious tone, her eyes showing intelligence and drive, "Of course, Your Grace. I would expect no less, I am not a lazy person, nor would I accept a position that would make me appear so."

Orell Mikin smiles and nods towards her as he accepts her pledge and finally the dance ends and he offers his arm to her and walks towards the food, only then noticing Roxy, he steps towards her and introduces her to Laoya, "Lady Laoya Zahir, this is my personal aide, Roxelanna Moonstone, very capable young woman who helps me around the School and Trademaster Office. You'd be working closely with her. Roxy, the Lady would be helping us as Lady Mistress of Etiquette."

Roxelanna Moonstone moves immediately to her feet and she dips into a curtsey. "Light Bless, my lady. I am most honored to make your acquantance. And welcome then to the service of the School." she says with a warm tone and expression.

Laoya Zahir follows Orell in sync with his steps, one hand resting lightly on his arm as she gazes down at Roxelanna, "Ah.. a pleasure to meet you, then, Roxelanna." She offers a cordial dip of her head to the woman, but does not bend a knee as her cousin Vora is won't to do. "I do hope that we will enjoy working together, but if His Grace finds you irreplaceable, I am sure you are talented indeed."

Orell Mikin laughs at Laoya's words, "Irreplaceable indeed. I am leading Light's Crossing as well, and she basically keeps me informed about what happens in the Office. Very conscientious, meticulous and prompt."

Roxelanna Moonstone smiles widely, blushing lightly at the cheeks, "My Duke exagerates his need for me. He is too kind. While I am a skilled craftswoman, as an assistant I am very easily replaced."

Laoya Zahir offers a thankful smile to Orell before kissing the air near his cheek, "You are very hospitable, Your Grace. Thank you for the courtsey." she says softly, brushing a few errant strands of hair from her eyes.

Orell Mikin nods to Roxy, "Please do, Roxy." he smiles back to Laoya, "It's only right." he confirms as he walks her towards the entrance of the ballroom and then turns back to entertain the other guests.

Return to Season 3 (2005)

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