Great Hall <Fastheld Keep>
Thick, squared-off stone columns made of one block stacked atop another form a sort of sentry line along this spacious corridor, where newcomers get their first glimpse of the residence of Emperor Talus Kahar and his wife, the Empress Freia Seamel.
Statues of famous nobles of Fastheld have been installed in various alcoves off to the sides of the great hall. The ceiling has been adorned with friezes crafted by the realms finest artisans. The walls boast remarkable paintings and tapestries beyond compare.
In celebration of the Winter Ball, the Great Hall currently features a winter theme to it. Elegant snowflake motifs and flowing tapestries depicting winter landscapes and townships besieged by snowdrifts adorn any available space upon the walls, while hanging weapons and armor have been lightly dusted with flour to grant them a snowy effect befitting of the mood.
One might even notice a central painting of an isolated Ranger clad in Pathfinder Armor tracking Wildlings upon an endless tundra of snow in what appears to be the northern plains of Fastheld taking pride of place above a grand fireplace that serves to heat the entire Hall for the duration of the Ball.
Banners and Flags lavished with the heralds and colours of each Noble House hang proudly from the ceiling above the themed Ball, representing the fact that all Nobles, regardless of past conflicts and alliances, stand here today as equals in celebration of the Winter season. As well as celebrating drink in equal measure, too.
Soldiers of the Imperial Tribune stand watch at the front entrance and at the approach to the staircase, which leads both up and down in the estate. Archways lead to the dining hall and the ballroom.
A brilliant grin crosses Gabriella's features at this. Never suggest trouble to a troublemaker! "I dare you," she whispers, her eyes dancing as she presses just a little closer to the Surrector, although all remains proper and decent. "The Imperial Surrector playing bawdy tavern tunes... I absolutely dare you, Duhnen Seamel!”
Hartnek Lomasa didn't achieve his position just because of a childhood friendship with the Emperor. He also knows a thing or two about tactical advantage. While Sahna scurries off to untangle Dirk from his awkward situation, the Blademaster puts a couple of lamb shanks on a plate, refills his wine goblet, and then starts maneuvering his way through the dancers toward the exit.
"Then I shall take the fish." Rowena answers in turn and leads the girl onward with thoughts of fried baronessfish and honeyed pork roast dancing in her head. In passing, she offers Hartnek a polite nod as he makes his escape. When they do reach the table of plenty, her eyes boggle at the choices and lower lip becomes seized between her teeth in habit.
Tormun Seamel's gaze moves from the Bladesman performing as the evening's bouncer to the departure of the imposing Blademaster. He watches the figure depart before his attention is drawn toward the two females approaching the serving table.
"Good evening, m'ladies," he says to Rowena and Anys with a bow.
"Do you think they'd enjoy the one of the bar maid and the upside down bar stool?" Duhnen asks Gabriella, before laughing brightly. "Light, Gabby. I can't imagine the response."
Dradin opens his mouth to say something, then spots Sahna approaching. "Aw, shades," he mutters.
Anys Lomasa hovers close to Rowena, shy as she is around strangers. "Good evening," she answers Tormun politely, her gaze falling to the floor. "Duhnen Seamel!" Gabriella hisses, trying to hide her laughter at her husband's comment.
"You're a terrible rogue. Anys is present! She'd nearly die of shock...” There's consideration at this comment. "Which is surprising, really, as she's a Lomasa. Speaking of...” Violet eyes wander in that direction. "Have you had enough dancing yet, or will I have to pry your hands from me?"
Guardian Gale. So good to see you." Sahna Nillu declares in a tone a shade below freezing. "I see you've met my guardsman, Dirk Stonechip? It's so important for a lone woman to have an escort, after all, and for some reason none of the noblemen I know have offered. Why, I haven't even been approached for a dance, can you believe that?" It's a pointy query, sharp as her gaze. "I do wonder what a sweet young woman like myself says or does to put them off so, but men.. They're so fickle. Or cowardly. You're male, sort of. Perhaps you have some insight into it?" She reaches out to tidily pluck her fresh goblet from Dirk's hands.
Duhnen, however, seems to be considering something. He stares at his wife, before grinning widely, and stepping back. "Just one moment, love." He glances about to those assembled, before calling out, "A moment of your time, everyone!" With a grand flourish, of one who has apparently entertained audiences before, the Seamel reaches to his pocket and draws out a set of pipes, showing them off, before lifting them to his lips. He plays out a few stream of notes, before lifting his voice.
- "Once there was a Knight who longed to wield,
- A more impressive lance,
- To carry into battle,
- And to aid him in romance."
- He lifts the trill to his lips again and plays some more music.
Dirk opens his mouth to say something relatively cheerful and benign to the little stormcloud that is Sahna, but lets his mouth form a small circle as she starts cracking thunder, releasing the goblet when she has a firm hand on it. Then he decides to safely study the collection of faces elsewhere, silently waiting until a decision is made, pursing his lips again as Duhnen begans to sing. He knows this song from somewhere...
"Oh, Light," Gabriella states in despair, one hand flying towards her corseted stomach, the other flying to her mouth. She stares at her husband with amusement and fear, shaking her head briefly. "Duhnen!" she laughs. "I take back the dare!"
Glancing first to Anys' timid response, Rowena rests a hand lightly on her arm. She returns Tormun's greeting with a graceful dip of her chin, curls bouncing amiably whilst the waterstone winks against the Shard to produce a brief flash of light from her breast. "And to you as well, m'lord. Have you advi..." Her tongue falls numb as Duhnen begins to sing and her ears begin to truly piece the lyric's meaning together. "Oh dear." Instinctively, she clamps her hands against Anys' ears.
Having secured one front, one can only be delighted when a second front opens itself up for battle. In this case, the art of sociopolitical intrigue is replaced by the bawdy melody of the Surrector and his instrument waging conflict upon the hearing of anyone who would care to listen... and this is a challenge that Soravyn Zahir, Captain of the Tribunal Garrison, cannot resist!
And so Duhnen's lifting voice is challenged by a commanding tone of a seasoned General; yet the authority of that tone is replaced by good natured baritone as the gravel of the Wolf's bark is elevated into something quite musical.
- "Oh, a Dark Mage overheard the Knight,
- And granted his request.
- The Knight at first was overjoyed,
- To see how he was blessed!"
His volume matching Duhnen's own, a contrasting duet is soon formed as the Zahir Wolf prowls closer to his competitor. Dirk has reconnected. Dirk has partially disconnected.
"Er, yeah," Dradin mumbles toward Sahna as he looks around helplessly for the Justicar. "Well, um... Oh, look, a song." Dradin points Duhnen-ward and attempts to make an escape.
Tormun Seamel blinks as Rowena's greeting is interrupted by a decidedly bawdy song. His grin widens as he watches Rowena attempt to shield Anys's ears from the tune. His gaze moves to the singer, the grin becoming rueful as he recognizes the impromptu performer. He winks at the two ladies, but remains quiet as the song continues.
Duhnen glances over in a bit of surprise as another takes up the song, having saved him the effort of having to sing the second verse. The Surrector's face splits into a wide grin, and he begins moving towards Soravyn at the same pace of which he approaches. Some more notes are played from the trill, before it's lowered, and the third verse arises.
- "The Knight went to a party,
- With his weapon thus enhanced.
- His lance made dining difficult,
- And tripped him when he danced!"
Sahna turns incredulously to the sound of the bawdy lyrics, from first one, then the second big honcho. "You've got to be kidding me." She growls, and then turns to Dradin, delivering the ultimatium. "Make yourself scarce, Gale. I'm officially not pleased with the male gender at the moment and I don't think you want to be in arm's reach." She lifts the goblet for a healthy swig of the wine, rolling her eyes. "Light."
Another groan escapes Gabriella's lips as she stands abandoned on the dance floor, her cheeks as red as her dress. "/That/ song, Duhnen? You had to choose /that/ song?" she accuses, rolling her eyes. "You are sleeping in the nursery," she calls out loud, rising on her tiptoes so the threat might carry that much further.
Anys Lomasa squirms indignantly in Rowena's grip. How embarrassing to be treated like a child so.
If the Surrector and the Justiciar singing together in an unconventional, contrasting, yet oddly musical rendition of a popular Blade's drinking song, wasn't bad enough, the sight of two commanding Officers only serves to strike a chord with all the other Blades currently assigned to protect the Nobles. And so... one after one... those Bladesmen - who, in their own right, would appear to be decent singers as a whole - begin to take up the lyrical mantle and add their own voices to the spontaneous event:
- "The next day at the tournament,
- He won the jousting meets,
- For all who faced his fearsome 'lance'
- Fell laughing from their seats!"
And in an almost rousing and inspirational crescendo of voices, all singing together in harmony, the assembled Blades (perhaps even Hartnek included, although he'd never admit it!) launch into the final verse. If this was a war, the enemy would surely be afraid of these madmen. However, this is a Grand Ball. That's even better!
- "Hey there! Ho there!
- A lesson here for you:
- Be careful what you ask for,
- For the Shadow might take you!"
"You're like half my weight at the most, and you still send people running off more then I do in heavy armor. It's not fair." Dirk states, cheerful and with a hint of amusement as Dradin makes for his escape, the Duchess' ultimatum hot on his heels. Then he looks over the assorted Bladesmen, beaming, clasping hands behind his back. His goblet has been set aside in the meantime, of course. "It's kinda catchy, ya know?"
- ~But as into battle the pleased knight sighed
- He was so soon to find
- That with his blessed lance thus made
- Too heavy was he to ride...~
At least that's the few lines she remembered from the unfortunate voices of East Bluff's guard. Releasing Anys as she struggles, Rowena shakes her head with a mock grimace to appease the surrounding womenfolk. Beneath that mask of propriety, however, she longs to laugh outright. Watching the pair closely to anticipate a second round, she reaches for a pinch of the fried fish.
Somewhere, in the wake of the stunned silence that befalls the general populace as the Blades finish their rendition, a Lady faints.
Flatly, Sahna comments aloud into the silence, "A five for presentation.. Zero for content."
Tormun Seamel raises his goblet into the air. "To the Surrector and the Blades," he toasts loudly before taking a long drink. Finished, he turns a grin to Rowena and Anys. "Hope you two ladies aren't too terribly scandalized," he apologizes, though his grin belies any real regret for the bawdy performance.
"Only one fatality." The Justiciar mirthfully asides to Duhnen as the resounding thud echoes through the Great Hall. "Slow night."