Isaac only realized his error after she held up her hand to show that she didn't have a ring on her finger and instead of becoming flustered over it, he decided to roll with it.
"Forgive me, Baroness, I meant no disrespect, just that you are lovely and any man would be lucky to have you on his arm." He said, smiling handsomely at her.
He gave Amhranai a nod, a little disappointed that she didn't pick up on the hint, but it didn't bother him. "Yes, I'll lead the way." He told them and patted the guard who had walked with him on the shoulder, letting him know he was able to go back to his duties whilst he took care of the two ladies.
Beyond the wrought-iron gates, a long driveway paved with white stones curved up and around a grove of orange trees. Along the way, ornamental ponds fed by manmade waterfalls teemed with brightly-colored carp, and the dulcet tone of chimes could be heard within the boughs of the tall flowering trees that shaded the pools. At its upper end, the driveway opened onto a broad, roundabout lined with tall, thin poplar trees. It was here that the carriages of Port Eldarion's prominent citizens now circled, each awaiting their turn beneath an ivy-covered trellis that led up to the sprawling Malatestan-style manse beyond.
Ahead of the carriage in which Amhranai and the Baroness now rode, a barrel-chested gentleman with tawny mutton-chops and greying hair had just exited his own burgundy phaeton. There, hands gripping the lapels of his high-collared jacket, the middle-aged man stood talking in boisterous tones with a somewhat younger man who wore a decidedly sour expression on his heavy-set face.
"...and that, my boy, is how I pulled five men out of that heap of burning rubble! Why any other man of my years would– Oh, I say! I do believe that my goodly neighbor has arrived!"
Where the older man had all the bearing of a big-game hunter boasting of his accomplishments, the other seemed as if he'd rather be anywhere else but here. Thick fingers laden with gold rings, a rich blue toga and hat trimmed with gold, and a fussily trimmed beard were insufficient to distract from the fact that he was uncomfortable and irritable in the heat.
"Ah yes, Carlina... Well back to that burning rubble, just remember the Viamaré Concern will be happy to rebuild those docks, and we can certainly help you to procure those new boilers you'll be needing..."
When the sound of the men's overly-loud discourse reached Amhranai and the Carlina, the Baroness glanced out the window and rolled her eyes. "Oh what good fortune... at this rate I imagine the Bonatis are not far behind us."
As the carriage drew to a stop beneath the shade of the trellis, the older man gave a nod of recognition to the approaching Marshal while seemingly ignoring the younger man beside him. Before the valets could even rush to assist, the gentleman waved them off. Beaming a broad smile, he opened the door, kicked out the boarding steps, and extended a broad hand to assist its attractive and eligible passenger disembark.
Suddenly, Amhranai caught a playful look from the noblewoman as she tipped her head to the side, suggesting the elf should go first.
While you have never met either of these two men in person, you are familiar with them by reputation and would know the info associated with each from the wiki. Just check their profiles for the appropriate links.
Fighting to keep the revulsion from her face as well as a sudden urge to leap out of the opposite side of the carriage, Amhranai instead drew up the hood of her cloak and pulled it forward to leave her face in shadows. Ignoring the Baron's hand, the elf bowed her head and exited the carriage, hastily knifing through the gap between the two odious men.
Once past them, Amhranai made her way to the broad stairs leading to the entrance of the impressive building beyond. I can't leave the Baroness-Carlina-to these vultures. A sigh shook her body as she turned about, stopping at the foot of the boarding steps, head still bowed, awaiting the Baroness.
"Oh! Why that about gave me a start there!" With a laugh, the older man clapped a hand on his thigh. "For a moment, Carlina, I thought your servant had gotten the better of you what with making off like that and all."
If the Baroness was embarrassed or offended by anyone, it did not show. Instead with a completely placid expression and a faint smile, she exited the carriage on her own without taking anyone's hand.
"Rinaldo, Lucio," she tipped her head at them in acknowledgement, "this woman is Amhranai and she is no servant of mine. Rather Amhranai is a guest of her Royal Highness, Princess Alissariel. You would do well to treat her with respect, she is one of the heroes who helped save our fair city a few days ago."
C Bluff 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (19) + 11 = 30
Sense Motive Checks: M 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (2) + 12 = 14 I 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (8) + 11 = 19
L 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (6) + 13 = 19 R 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (15) + 2 = 17
"Fair city indeed," the hefty man mumbled as he examined his finger nails. Even a blind deaf man could have picked up on his lack of enthusiasm.
At the Baroness' introduction, he gave the shorter elf an appraising look, fumbling with the pendant on his heavy gold chain as he did so. "A hero? Ahhh, well play your cards right, woman, and you might come out of this with enough coin to get ahead in the world. Of course it's not just wealth but contacts and class that really matter. Still, not everyone can be born with such benefits, but I'm sure Lady Mondracus can give you some pointers. Isn't that right, Rinaldo?"
Sense Motive DC 15 (Amhranai, Isaac, Carlina):
You get the feeling that the head of the Viamaré Concern actually thinks his patronizing advice is a favor to Amhranai.
Sense Motive DC 20 (Isaac, Carlina):
You also realize that it was an intentional dig at the Baroness' lineage.
Sense Motive Checks: M 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (5) + 12 = 17 I 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (20) + 11 = 31
C 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (15) + 11 = 26 R 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (3) + 2 = 5
As the hearty old whaling baron listened, his lower lip jutted out in approval, Lucio's condescending manner completely lost on him. At what he took for a compliment to the lovely Baroness, he nodded enthusiastically, his monocle popping free in the process. "Oh yes indeed! Why Miss Carlina could teach class to a stevedore sure as she can rear an ornery filly up into a fine mare!"
With wink he shook his eye-piece at the cloaked woman and confided in a lower tone, "Oh and don't you worry none about my wharfs getting burned up, ugly things needed a renovation anyhow."
Giving her a good-natured elbow, he stood up to his full height, fists on his hips and said, "Well now, why don't we all head on in and see what the good Governor's got cooking! My dear Carlina, might I have the honor?"
Even though the older gentleman was oblivious to it, there was simply no way the Baroness could have adequately concealed her pained grimace as a smile to anyone else. Yet even as time seemed to slow as the whaling tycoon reached for her hand, the sound of a horse approaching at a brisk trot and the ring of carriage wheels on stone reached the group.
"HYAA!" With a bold yet practiced call, and a crack of the reins, a lightly built phaeton raced up the driveway and into the roundabout, a ruggedly handsome elf with billowing hair the driver.
With stopping distance swiftly running out, a moan of panic escaped Lord Gallo and he tensed up, holding his ring bedecked arms in front of himself as if to ward off a blow. Yet with a firm, "WHOOOA!" and the hiss of a brake being engaged, the single-horse racing buggy drew to a stop a mere three feet from the man.
With a smirk, gave the white steed a pat on the neck and nodded at the nearby Marshal. "You ride?" he asked.
Sense Motive DC 31 (Isaac):
You're not entirely sure that Master Rochmir is talking about your horsemanship.
C Bluff 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (1) + 11 = 12
Sense Motive Checks: I 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (18) + 11 = 29
L 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (10) + 13 = 23 R 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (4) + 2 = 6
A Bluff 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (16) + 15 = 31
Sense Motive Checks: M 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (8) + 12 = 20 I 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (20) + 11 = 31
"HA-HA!" Dagonius gave a loud whoop of approval and clapped Lord Gallo on the back hard enough to make the man nearly jump out of his skin. "Now that right there is a fine display of riding and an impressive bit of craftsmanship! Lucio, you ever ride one of Angrem's phaetons?"
The irritable noble gave him a look like he was mad. "No? Well you should buy one, we can race sometime — tell me all about those boilers if you can keep up."
"Anyhow," he turned towards the now empty carriage, "we were just about to head in so why don't you..."
"Join you?" The elf's smooth voice suddenly came from behind the human and Rinaldo turned with surprise to find the Baroness' hand resting lightly atop the crooked arm of the master cartwright, a look of relief on her face.
Nodding his head in gratitude, a subtle smile on his face, Angrem replied with but a single word, "Gladly."
A sigh escaped from between Rinaldo's teeth as the object of his desire walked off on another man's arm. While he was left rubbing his monocle against the breast pocket of his jacket, Carlina looked over her shoulder at Amhranai and gestured with her head for the priestess to walk with them. Lifting her gaze towards the man beside her she said, "I enjoyed a carriage ride with a remarkable elven heroine on my way here. Her name is Amhranai..."
As the others began to make their way inside, leaving the Marshal of the City Guard to his thoughts, he heard a familiar voice by his side, "They make such a sweet couple don't you think Ize?"
Looking down, Isaac found his sister by his side wearing one of her abbey's formal uniforms — a gi of brocaded white silk trimmed to match the color of her dark green eyes. While the jacket itself was tied at the sides to contour to the young woman's figure, ornate cinches on her arms and knees cause the short sleeves and pant legs to flair like flowers, much like the wrap skirt that billowed about her toned legs.
With a wistful sigh, Lilyana looked up at her big brother, a thoughtful look in her dark green eyes. "You know, we need to find you a nice lady too. Princess Alis seems nice, don't you think?
With a smile, she hefted the package she was carrying. "I brought a vase from home for me to give to give her from you, I hope she likes it..."
It was at that moment that a horrible realization struck the Major — his sister had gotten an idea into her head, and she meant to play match-maker!
Sense Motive Checks: I 1d20 + 11 + 5 ⇒ (4) + 11 + 5 = 20 familiarity
With an awkward smile, Isaac wasn't completely sure how to answer Angrem, it was obvious that no one else picked up on it. So with a shrug of his wide shoulders, he decided he would leave it at that unless prodded for more.
He stood by, watching the nobles talk about things that Isaac didn't really care for. He always wanted adventure, reaching new heights... But he had responsibilities now, and couldn't just wander off into the world like he wanted to. Though a familiar voice brought him out of his day dream of wild places and he glanced down at her.
A golden eyebrow quirked high for him as he watched his sisters face, he knew that look, he knew that look all too well. With a sigh and an arm placed around his sisters shoulder and gave her a wary smile. "Come on, Lily... you know the princess is too good for someone like me. But, a gift for saving our skins is in order." He told her and nodded to the group of nobles and winked at Amhranai as a gesture of good luck.
He decided he'd walk his sister inside, she could have fun sitting around listening to round noble men talk about how much money they had, Isaac was going to enjoy his space outside, which he was finding himself in more need of lately. "Now, I know what your thinking, and I want you to know, that I appreciate you looking out for my love life, but there's a reason why I don't have a lovely lady on my arm and it's because I've been kind of swamped with being the Marshal of the city."
Though Lily knew this excuse well by now, Isaac was distant from people in general since their mother died and buried himself in work to distract himself from it. Lily knew the things Isaac wanted to do, to travel and see more of the world, he was currently stuck at home because he took responsibility like he was the only one doing anything, and without him the world would crash and burn.
Darvesch's face turns red and he chuckles, "You remember that little party you had on the ship? Well, see.. with all the celebration going on, I decided to go up top to get some air. That's when she found me. Apparently, her mom told her to find me.. playing matchmaker, I guess. Greasha is her name, Greasha Torwald. She and her mother were the cooks for that celebration. Damn good food too..." He clears his throat, "We hit it off rather quickly, but then big O and all these formalities happened, I was afraid I'd never see her again. Then there she was." He smiles.
Cursing silently, Amhranai shut out the two human's oily words, well-knowing the hidden barbs that lay beneath their veneer. The fat one is harmless enough; the fatter one looks to be more dangerous, peering out from the Betrayer's shadow and waiting until someone is at their weakest. Mark him well. A flash of light from the baron's direction caught Amhranai's eye. I wonder how loudly this puffed-up human would scream if I were to break the hand holding that monocle. I'm sure he was quite the hunter some years ago, but I wouldn't be surprised if the actual work of the hunt is something he himself hasn't done in some time. A shame neither of these were...indisposed, at the least, these last few days.
The elven woman's eyes narrowed to slits as the baron's elbow collided with her ribs. Murderous thoughts were dashed a moment later as the cacophony of the phaeton resounded in the courtyard. Another one full of himself. Iscandu save me from these fools. Still silent, head still bowed, Amhranai fell into the wake of the baroness and the elven cartwright, cringing at the mention of her name. Carlina is quite the gossip. I should've refused that carriage ride... Watching Isaac walk off with his sister, she was suddenly envious of the marshal.
"Oh Ize..." Lilyana held the gift to herself and gave her big brother a one-armed hug, affectionately bonking her head on his breastplate. "Don't you know, the right lady would buoy you up, not drag you down!"
Smiling up at him, she turned at the sound of another approaching carriage. "Well it looks like the Bonatis are here, I guess I should head inside. Try not to work too hard!"
With that, the young woman stood up on her tippy-toes and gave the Marshal a kiss on the cheek, leisurely following after Rinaldo and Lucio who had begun to head inside.
"So that's why you were in such a hurry to leave the table!" Darvesch's blush brought a heart-felt smile to Alis' pretty face.
Darv's had his hands full canvassing the palace for traps and enchantments with Tiniel, but it's like he's gotten a second wind.
With the Princess' silent 'scribe' and serpentine sage in tow and a host of guards escorting them, Alis and Darvesch made their way down the tall, broad steps leading north from the palace's central dome. In the distance, across the meticulously groomed gardens, an ornate gloriette with tall glass windows and ornate archways overlooked the Daifiri River and the tree-lined shores of Tol Lonnduil beyond. Yet in spite of the shimmer of the midday sun upon river or glass, there was another twinkle the dwarf could make out in his Frænka's eyes — happiness.
"Well this is quite the intriguing development, Sir Hellhammer," she said with a wink. "In fact, this might be the best news I've heard since we docked!"
Smiling, Alis gently gathered the folds of the diaphanous, wine-colored shawl that draped from her bare shoulders, and lifted the hem of her long, red gown as she boarded the mithril-inlaid, darkwood carriage that awaited her. While the young fashionista was not normally given to wearing such a simple dress, she had selected it for this initial meeting with the city's noble peerage due to the fact that it blended elements of both Elven and Patrician couture. At the very least, even accented with gold and trimmed in lace, with bunches of jasper 'grapes' securing her shawl, it was more more practical in the heat than the opulent gowns she had normally preferred back in Silverwake.
As the carriage began to pull away, drawn by four horses and escorted by no fewer than 20 guards, minstrels, and other attendants, she commented, "You know... thanks to that recent growth spurt I'm going to need an entirely new wardrobe. Now that your inspection of the palace is complete, perhaps after lunch you should assess the security at some of the city's finer boutiques. Perhaps Miss Torwald could accompany you..."
It wasn't difficult for Darvesch to catch the smile in his cousin's eyes. Nor was it difficult for her to discern her true meaning — that he should take a break from work this afternoon to pursue Greasha.
It wasn't long before Lady Ourson found the gardens and atriums of Villa Sempronius brimming with men and women garbed in fine dress. With Alis and Darvesch still having yet to arrive, Councilor Eluchíl had kept the young beauty occupied introducing her to guests and dignitaries.
For her friends' parts, Sasha was doing her best to keep quiet and not fidget, but the golden-winged succubus could tell that it was an uphill struggle. Meanwhile, Gelik had been entertaining a beautiful elven noblewoman and her snooty young nephew with tales of your exploits on Reaver's Shiv...
"...and that's when we saw a pillar of lightning, taller than the highest mountain, fork upwards to smite the clouds. Oh the way the sea churned and separated you might have thought some dark apocalypse had befallen the world, and you wouldn't be far off!"
Lureene swims through the sea of introductions as best as she can, uttering the usual platitudes while attempting as best she can to affix the names to the faces. A losing proposition to be sure, but considering the pressure Alis was under, she needed all the help she could get.
As she overhears Gelik mentioning the tales of the Reaver's Shiv, she could not help but roll her eyes. I swear, if he is going to mention that story EVERY time we meet someone new, I will have no choice but to gag him!
Stepping in graciously , she lays a delicate hand on Gelik's shoulder smoothly interrupting him. "I suppose you just HAD to be there, right Master Gelik?" She turns a gaze to the elvish lady and her nephew, studying them both beneath her long eyelashes.
She courtseys in greeting, "I am Lady Ourson, retainer to Princess Alis Kirmoon, and also Master Gelik's good conscience!" There is a glint of good humor in her eyes as she finishes her greeting.
"My goodness, such perils you faced!" The beautiful elven woman's response was so calm and quiet, it took Lureene a moment to realize it was an exclamation. Lifting the hem of her long, sky-blue gown, the black-haired wizardess returned the shorter blonde's curtsy.
"Elendreth. My husband is Glorohir, and this," she gently cleared her throat to get the attention of the orange-eyed young man beside her, "is my young nephew, Poe."
Unable to see past the tall elves before him, Gelik looked up to Sasha who gave a giggle of mirth. Stepping forward, she squeezed Poe's arm and said, "Haha! Pope's pretty funny, Elenbreath! But that's actually Ramronni, she's the one who helped us get into the tower so we could take out that O'beemoejee guy the other day."
A gasp as pained as if he had just been stabbed in the gut escaped Poe, the young man gazing in horror at where Sasha's hand rested on his arm. Voice quailing, he squirmed out of the ranger's grasp to retreat to the far side of his aunt, pale as a ghost, "Auntie!!!"
Biting her lip a bit, Sasha merely whistled quietly and stepped back behind Lureene, giving a slight grimace to Gelik as she did so.
Sense Motive DC 15/20 L 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (11) + 2 = 13 S 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (13) + 2 = 15
Unswayed by either her nephew's skittishness, or the way Sasha mangled her name, Elendreth merely admonished the tall young elf, "Poe, dear, you are ever so shy! It is unbecoming of you. Why what would your mother think?"
With a flick of her wrist, the elven lady conjured a magical fan to help cool the young man that he might regain his composure. Smiling gently, she met Lureene's bright blue eyes with her own, "Lady Ourson, it seems your gnome thinks quite highly of your arcane talents. Tell me, do you favor a particular school, or do you draw upon the power of your planar origins directly?"
Glancing over in the direction where Sasha pointed out Amhranai staying out of the spotlight, Lureene felt a stab of envy. At least she won't be pestered all day long!
As Lady Elendreth addressed her and met her gaze, Lureene immediately recognized a kindred spirit; one who, if not proficient in the arcane arts was at least well versed in such. She nods in reply, resting a hand on Sasha's shoulder in response.
They are certainly made for one another, I think. Sash will have Master Poe eating out of the palm of her hand in no time.
"Lady Elendreth, I do not rely on my heritage directly, instead I prefer to specialize in augmenting my natural charms with various enchantment magicks. While it is a path perhaps more difficult for one such as I, it is a path I must not stray from!"
Lureene's statement about augmenting her 'natural charms' gave the elven wizardess pause, her gaze briefly dropping to the succubus' bustline.
"I see," she murmured quietly.
Giving the shorter blonde a wan smile, Elendreth's hand strayed to her own throat, fingers caressing a mithril and lapis choker, arm held just-so to conceal her own dearth of cleavage.
"For my part, I began the study of abjuration quite some time before I made the acquaintance of my dear Lord, Glorohir. I daresay my own talents have proven quite a boon to my husband's endeavors. Wouldn't you agree, Poe?"
Even as the elegant elven woman looked to her nephew, it was rather obvious even to Lureene that Elendreth had suddenly become more guarded all of a sudden. Was she jealous?
Sense Motive Checks: L 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (17) + 2 = 19 S 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (17) + 2 = 19
"Mmm?" At his aunt's inquiry, Poe gave a slight shiver as if he'd just been awakened from a daydream.
"Why yeees," he answered idly, gaze lingering on the tips of Lureene's golden wings he answered. Although thinking better of it, he amended his statement a moment later adding quietly, "well when Uncle is home at least."
Even as Elendreth's spirit seemed to fall at his remark, the young elf continued, "Auntie, ask the gnome if he would continue with his stooory."
Lureene, caught off guard by the sudden change of mood from Lady Elendreth, tries to come to grips with her fauz-pas. Was it something I said? Is she...jealous of ME? Why would she be jealous? She is a beautiful woman...I...I don't know what to say to her now..
Seeing an uncomfortable silence take hold after Poe's reply, Lureene cleared her throat, "Abjuration you say? I...I believe my father also specialized in the area of abjuration magic. "
While Lureene was once again finding herself in an awkward situation, and Amhranai was doing her best to remain unseen, Isaac found himself welcoming yet another guest.
"Ah, well if it isn't the man of the hour!" A man with a long nose, crooked from having once been broken, staggered slightly as he brushed aside the hand extended to him by one of the valets. The smell of liquor and tobacco was evident even from several feet away, and several tendrils of unkempt reddish-blonde hair had escaped his ponytail. Black eyebrows stood in sharp contrast with a pale, partially sun-burned face, and there were traces of animal hair on the dark fabric of his suit perhaps from horseback riding.
"Oh yes, Mel..." he exclaimed, clapping Isaac on the shoulder, "do be a good man and help my wife down. Wouldn't want her turning an ankle and taking another tumble now would we?"
From inside the carriage, Isaac caught a glimpse of Lady Bonati anxiously checking her makeup in a small mirror. While she wasn't noble-born herself, the tall, dark-haired half-elf was now counted as such by virtue of her marriage two years prior to Lord Bonati. While Melianna was quite lovely in her own right, she seemed sullen and perhaps a bit skittish to the Major, like a deer that feared itself in the hunter's sights.
Risking a smile with lips pressed tight, she avoided making eye contact with the handsome soldier and instead waved off his hand.
"I can manage, thank you," she said quietly. As Melianna hurried out of the carriage and past the Isaac to clasp her husband's hand, fumbling with a lace fan that she managed to open only after passing him by. Yet the Marshal was keen-eyed if nothing else, and her anxiety was as clear to him as the excess of powder she had applied in an attempt to conceal the puffiness of a bruise on her left cheek.
Oh no.. Time off? I can't remember the last time I had that.. What am I supposed to do?
"I understand what you're saying." He chuckles, "However, I honestly don't remember the last time I've had personal time off. I don't know what I'd do with myself. Where do I go? What do I do?" Darvesch worries, and anxiety about showing Greasha a good time starts to surface.
Isaac watched as the next carriage came up. He walked forward, trying to keep the friendly smile on his face but was finding himself growing tired of greeting all of Alis' guests considering most of them were full of themselves. Isaac grinned when he was called the man of the hour and dismissed it. "No, no, I'm just here welcoming guests. Not terribly important tonight."
Turning his attention towards the carriage, he walked over to help his wife down, and before she even came to the door he got a weird feeling about the way worded that. His help was dismissed and the dark haired half-elven woman quickly tried to hide her face from him.
He was honestly speechless, he didn't once believe for a second that she fell down at any time, and the man who was with her was hitting her. He wanted to stop her, tell her that he'd help, but she was quick to run to her husband. well son of a... what the hell do I do?
"As you wish ma'am..."He said letting her slid past him.
Giving the man a small frown, he nodded to the both of them, obviously very strained to say this, "Have a good time..." He said watching them walk away.
askjdhfkjahsked Ahhhhh why elf!! meh, Isaac wants to knock this guys teeth out, but that'd be in bad taste >__>
Amhranai had found what she thought to be an unobtrusive location from which she might observe the goings on unseen. Lord and Lady Bonati, who owned and employed most of the inhabitants of The Flats, had just arrived. Already the brash human noble had spotted Lady Ourson and was enroute to introduce himself, his half-elven wife following dutifully behind him like some lost puppy.
It was only at the very last second then that the watchful elf heard the faintest sound of a grain of sand scratching the floor beneath a soft-soled slipper. Half-startled, she looked to the side to find an tall, lithe elven woman with straight, red hair regarding her, her lips spread into a bemused smile.
"My, why you are observant, well done!"
The woman's garb was fashionable albeit impractical without the aid of magic. She wore a long, flairing coat made from a patchwork of expensive fuchsia brocades and was trimmed in gold with a tall collar and broad lapels. A silk sash of purple shot with burgundy drew it tight about her narrow waist revealing the more form-fitting olive-colored garb she wore beneath to show off her gold jewelry.
Yet in spite of her flamboyant attire, the shorter elf could note an agility uncommon even for another elf about the woman. The folds of her garb could have potentially concealed numerous pockets without added bulk, and the sueded texture of her boots muffled all but the most deliberate movements. Had she purposefully scraped her foot? It was only then that it dawned on Amhranai that this red-haired elf had not entered the estate via the same entrance everyone else had used.
With a sly smile, the woman leaned against the wall a few feet from Amhranai and looked out towards the growing crowd in the distant courtyard. "You should be out there, shaking up the status quo. After all, it's not every day a humanitarian who moonlights as a revolutionary receives a free pass to address such an audience. Or do you think you will be able to slip back into the illusion of quiet anonymity you thought you enjoyed before your heroics... former Petty Officer Amhranai?"
With a wink, the unreadable fashionista nodded towards the scene before them. "So tell me, what do you perceive when you regard them, or me for that matter? Oh yes, and you can call me Sindariel or simply 'Sin' if you prefer."
Upon hearing the name, the reclusive priestess recalled that an elven noblewoman by the name Sindariel Lammontari owned an estate in Tol Lonnduil. The woman was something of a textiles baron and was known for hosting lavish parties for Dafar's elite when she wasn't traveling to and from other cities. Other than being wealthy and well-connected, however, she knew nothing of the woman's goals — something that was curious in its own right.
"A fellow might think he's died and gone to Heaven to be surrounded by such beauty!" A gravely voice interrupted Gelik's storytelling, and Lureene, Sasha, Elendreth, and Poe turned to see a human gentleman with a reddish-blonde ponytail bowing to greet the ladies. "The name is Bonati, Iole Bonati, and the pleasure is mine."
While his suit was of fine make, the odor of liquor and tobacco was strong on his breath. Even Lureene noted the lint or animal dander that clung to the fabric.
Following quietly a few feet behind him was a pretty young half-elven woman with long, dark brown hair. She wore a long, flowing green dress that was clasped at one shoulder by a large brooch as was often typical of Malatestan style. Compared to most of the women Lureene had seen in attendance, she was not quite as poised and her green eyes darted about nervously avoiding eye-contact. Yet what struck the succubus most was that in spite of her perfect complexion, she seemed to be wearing an over-abundance of foundation and tried to keep her left cheek concealed by the fan she carried.
As the nobleman recovered from his bow, he sniffed as if suddenly remembering something and turned suddenly to the woman following him. "How rude of me, milady angel, this is my lovely wife, Melianna."
Lureene is not quite sure what to make of this couple. Oh the smells themselves did not bother her in the slightest (it reminded her of the days when she was a dancing girl back in the city of Khaledrun) but still she knew his mannerisms were disrespectful of Princess Alis. Still, considering her own recent faux-pas, she did not want to challenge the nobleman on that point...yet.
"Please, Melianna, call me Lureene! No need to be so formal with me!" She replied in a bright tone trying to put the other lady at ease, as she curstied back to the pretty lady."I am doing fine, Melianna, although to be honest, I feel like everyone wants to put me under a magnifying glass, if you know what I mean..."
Amhranai regarded the red-haired elf coolly, quietly considering her response. She did not trust the seeming impracticality of the woman's coat, nor her arrival, despite her professional appreciation of the skill displayed. Reaching backwards with one hand, the priestess assured herself of the presence of the wall not far behind her and tried to present as small a profile as possible to the other woman. Like a viper in the grass, this one. Tread lightly. After a moment, Amhranai's lips quirked upwards in a smile as she said, "After going through the trouble of digging up all that useless information about me, shouldn't I be asking you what images flash before my eyes in this gathering of Daedelhach's finest?" Lips parted as the smile broadened in a shallow attempt at taking some of the sting from her words.
"Why should I, at this time, in this place, make a target of myself? I would be dismissed as a rabble-rousing elf that needs to go back to her forest or dragged through the mud til I'm as dark as the Dafiri, if I'm not just killed outright. As we've all just seen, the truth will out itself, regardless of whether or not it fits another's truth. It's up to each person to be willing to accept it and the ensuing consequences." Amhranai frowned as she looked Sindariel up and down again. Thank Iscandu for old habits not dying easily."Tell me, information broker, why would I not be able to assume my former invisibility? You seem to do well enough yourself. Oh, I'm sure you plant suggestions very well with whatever knowledge you've gained but by the time the recipient acts on that suggestion, they've convinced themselves it was their idea all along. No, I feel I will be able to do just as well speaking with the right people. But how will I know the difference?" Amhranai smiled once again, hand settling on the hilt of her kukri. "Truth will out itself in time. And we will be waiting."
"After going through the trouble of digging up all that useless information about me, shouldn't I be asking you what images flash before my eyes in this gathering of Daedelhach's finest?"
"My, my," Sindariel said with a smirk, "redirection in the guise of flattery with a touch of scathing wit. Maybe you do belong here."
"Why should I, at this time, in this place, make a target of myself? ..."
Whether the woman failed to notice the priestess palming the hilt of her blade or simply didn't care, Amhranai couldn't tell. Sindariel merely shifted her gaze toward the party as the black-haired elf spoke and listened.
"My good woman, we are all targets of someone. Assuming you find yourself attending our benefactor's next event, you might do well to remember that half the purpose of these soirees is to ferret out who those someones are."
"After all, you don't think you were invited just for your sparkling personality and a fashion sense that would make Iole Bonati blush, do you?" She winked. "No... I rather imagine you were invited specifically so that a certain someone could see how others react to what a rabble-rousing elf who dresses like she belongs back in her forest has to say for her chosen cause. Of course, gratitude for aid already rendered does make a plausible alibi I suppose..."
"As far as hiding goes though? Well, after what happened at Arrowhead, let's just say that if you're able to remain incognito now then I'll start sending rookies to you for lessons in subterfuge."
A Sleight of Hand 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (16) + 8 = 24 S Perception 1d20 + 22 ⇒ (10) + 22 = 32
Amhranai smirked at the other elf, allowing most of Sindariel's retorts to roll past her and instead focused on the last thing the woman had said. "I'll send you my terms for teaching as soon as this is over."
Lest Sindariel get the wrong impression, the priestess removed her hand from the hilt of her weapon and pushed back a few strands of errant hair from her face. "You are right that useful information can be derived from these gatherings, but I do not feel the need to make a spectacle of myself. Doesn't mean I have to like it either." She frowned her distaste before continuing, "I do believe, however, it would be a safe bet to say that most here will not take too kindly to my message. Some might already feel as I do and others could possibly be swayed, but most will probably feel threatened by what I propose. And while we are all targets at one time or another, what better opportunity for those that vehemently disagree with me than here, surrounded by so many like-minded people? I would not feel comfortable so exposed, so trusting of other's sense of decorum, even with Iscandu as my ally. It's not everyday people like those here are told they're wrong or that the large majority of their workers are ill-gotten or even no."
Amhranai glanced down at her attire and once again at Sindariel's. "My apparel is just as functional as yours, just more outwardly so. At times, that can be the difference between life and death."
"I'll send you my terms for teaching as soon as this is over."
Sindariel grinned at Amhranai's reply. "Why I'd be in your debt!"
"It's not everyday people like those here are told they're wrong or that the large majority of their workers are ill-gotten or even 'no'."
"Humans do tend to show a remarkable aversion to criticism, it's true. Not that we elves can't be set in their ways, mind you, but I would like to think that taking the 'long view' helps to temper such egotism. Well, until we get blind-sided by changes we are too slow to meet anyway."
"If nothing else," the look on her face seemed contemplative rather than judgmental, "living and working in the varied culture we have here, such as it is, certainly has brought the contrasting graces and failings of elves and men into sharper focus. I wonder sometimes if those born of unions between elves and men inherit more the best attributes of both or the worst. Perhaps our young Princess will be able to furnish us with an answer..."
"At any rate, yes," she gestured towards the attendees in the adjoining garden, "many of these individuals are used to getting their way. Well, getting their way where those beneath their station are concerned anyway. Yet that is also a prime reason why there is conflict between them when they come into contact. In many ways, this is a zero-sum game they play. Jungles, plains, mines, and the people who work them... Dafar no more has limitless resources than anywhere else. What one faction would win for itself, they would deny to another."
"Heh," she shook her head and smiled at the priestess, "but enough of such whimsy."
"My apparel is just as functional as yours, just more outwardly so. At times, that can be the difference between life and death."
"Perhaps it is best that you came dressed as you were. Contrary to what you might believe it does make a spectacle of you, at least here anyway. Yet also informs others in no uncertain terms that you are not playing the same game to which they are accustomed. That coupled with the fact that they will suspect you to already have the ear of the very same Princess they hope to influence are factors in your favor. The intimation that there may be untold numbers who share your view is another. Just be careful not to overplay your hand. There can be a fine line between being seen as a messenger versus being seen as an enemy."
"As far as outward visibility though," she gave the shorter woman a sly grin, "I always prefer the look of surprise from someone who realizes their target is more well-defended than they had imagined. An enemy can't prepare for what they don't know is there. Call it hiding in plain sight, if you will. Misinformation can be just as valuable as no information — sometimes moreso."
"Now then," she pushed off the wall, "I imagine that our Princess should be running just on time to be fashionably late. In the meanwhile I suspect her so-called retainer is in sore need of a reprieve. Care to join me, Amhranai?"
Lureene's words gave the pretty young half-elf pause and it seemed to the succubus as if Melianna had rightfully expected to be rebuked and was instead surprised by her kindness. The slender woman's green eyes seemed to light up as she answered quietly, "Oh thank you! Yes I know exactly what you mean, Lureene."
Lord Bonati did his best to put on a charming smirk and bowed to Lureene seemingly ignoring Lady Elendreth. He extended one hand to her as if to invite her to dance. "Now then, you were saying something about being examined with a magnifying glass?"
Sense Motive Checks: L 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (8) + 2 = 10 S 1d20 + 2 + 2 ⇒ (10) + 2 + 2 = 14 human