Lureene was no great student of reading people or picking up on their subtle body clues which seemed to come naturally to Alis. Still, what she DID infer left her heart troubled.
He has control over her...much as a demoness holds sway over one of their thralls. I suspect this one rather enjoys the power he wields over his wife... Remembering what she was told of him, she also thinks I still must be cautious with this one...he can cause no end of trouble.
She calls out to Elendreth and Poe, "It was a pleasure to meet you!" as they move out of sight. Maintaining her outward smile, while hiding her feelings of revulsion and disgust at the way he treated his wife, she turns to the Baron and allows him to take her hand briefly, no more for a few seconds but withdraws her hand before he can plant a kiss on her wrist.
Her voice is polite and yet tinged with a bare hint of coolness. "Baron Bonati, I believe I was speaking figuratively. No need to infer anything deeper into that."
"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?"
A warm smile brightened Alis face as she contemplated what to suggest to her Frændi.
I imagine a great many people wish that these were the extent of their own troubles...
"Well, you do have a vast new city at your disposal — one where the mere mention of your office and the part you played in saving the city should grant you instant acclaim..." Alis folded an arm across her midsection, resting her opposite elbow atop it as she tapped a finger on her ruby lips. "Well... if Greasha is always having to cook and care for others, maybe she would enjoy the chance to be pampered for once. I hear The Dryad Rose is exclusive, although Gods Save the Keg might be a bit more lively..."
D 1d20 + 20 + 5 ⇒ (12) + 20 + 5 = 37
"If the latter is as spirited as its name would suggest," the creamy-skinned professor commented as the procession exited the palace's northern gatehouse, "then that could make for an enjoyable outing. Isn't it just south of the palace grounds?" A pity we do not have a local riding with us presently."
Not lifting his gaze from the journal in which he was apparently taking notes, the royal agent who had taken on the guise of the court scribe lifted a finger and awaited Alis' permission to speak. He was clad in an elegant yet stately black suit that was tapered at the waist and featured cuffs that were folded to the outside and secured by studs bearing Alis' seal. With his hair slicked back and a tall collar girding his throat, he looked far less threatening than the trained killer he was. Yet Darvesch's trained eyes could still make out the presence of concealed wrist sheathes beneath his jacket.
Upon receiving a nod of acknowledgement from Alis, agent Hithraen responded evenly, "My sources inform me that Gods Save the Keg is favored by Port Eldarion's upcoming elite. The proprietor is one Sareth Antirel, a failed priest of Miralnas who seeks to win entry to the aristocracy by way of gaining favor in socio-political circles. You would almost certainly be well-received, although the privacy of you and your lady acquaintance might... suffer."
"Hmm..." Alis frowned and shook her head, "No I don't suppose you would enjoy the reek of sycophants, would you?"
Thinking for a moment, the Princess slipped a small book from a compartment beside her and began to leaf thru it.
Her eyes were certainly full of stars when she looked at him, why it reminded me of how I used to look at Laith–
She gave a snap of her fingers and clapped the book shut.
"What would a hero do for fun? A dwarven hero?"
"Another possibility would be to build a monument while bards recite the ancestral lays of their clan. The issue with such traditions, however, is that Sir Hellhammer and Ms. Torwald are several thousand leagues from any locales with a suitable concentration of their people for such a celebrations to have the proper cultural significance."
Alis rolled her eyes. "You're over-thinking it. What would a hero who still had his work cut out for him, but had plenty of coin do during a brief respite?"
She gave Darvesch a knowing look and winked at him, "You know, when she could be sleeping or relaxing instead?"
A 1d20 + 25 ⇒ (4) + 25 = 29
Arion 1d20 ⇒ 4
Ieana 1d20 ⇒ 17
At the mention of Alis' retainer, Amhranai's eyes traversed the room to where she remembered seeing Lureene earlier. Once she found the succubus, the short elf groaned noisily. Betrayer's ashes. Of course he would be here. I think I'd rather stay here. Heaving a sigh, Amhranai pushed herself from the wall, drawing up the hood of her cloak once more. Of a mind to dispose of the baron swiftly, the elf set out with purposeful strides, quickly leaving Sindariel in her wake.
I'll be keeping an eye on you, Sindariel. I have a feeling you'll play the middle as long as you can and only declare for one side or the other when victory seems assured, all the while secretly giving the appearance of service to the 'losers'. I hope to find out differently. She doubted that would be the case, but who knew? Maybe Sindariel was bored of life in Eldarion to this point and wouldn't mind some upheaval.
As she made her way through the press of bodies, the thought of upheaval stuck in the elf's head, slowly chipping away at her previous plan of action. By the time she had arrived in their company, Amhranai's hood was down once more, and her hair was swept back from her face. The medallion of Iscandu, which had been beneath her shirt before, was now atop her clothes, prominently on display. One hand on her weapon, she reached upwards with the other.
Before the baron could respond to Lureene, a firm hand grasped his shoulder as a flat voice spoke: "Evicted anyone lately? Or have you graduated to just killing them instead?"
Lord Bonati smirked as Lady Ourson withdrew her hand, remarking in a gravely voice, "Well, a man can dream, can't– Huuh?"
The man nearly stumbled as he was spun about by the irate woman behind him, nearby a hush fell throughout the garden at the sudden gesture. With a look of annoyance on his face, he brushed Amhranai's hand aside, lifting his hat to smooth his hair out of his face before reseating it.
Taking stock of the woman before him, he raised a dark eyebrow and said, "You have the better of me, I don't believe I've ever met such an unattractive woman before. Should I know you?"
Sense Motive Checks:
M 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (19) + 12 = 31
L 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (8) + 2 = 10
S 1d20 + 2 + 2 ⇒ (6) + 2 + 2 = 10 human
Lureene mentally sighs in relief, though she is careful to keep the look of relief off of her face as Amhranai came to her rescue. She had known the other elf only a short time and knew she was a private (and to be honest, quite standoffish) person. Still, Lureene found her respect for the woman growing.
If being unattractive means I don't have to ever put up with the likes of you Baron Iole...I would consider that a blessing, not a curse.
She debates whether to say anything in response to the obvious insult but decided to hold her tongue for now, not wishing to disrespect Amhranai further.
Amhranai's lips curled up in a decidedly deadly smile. "I could be the ugliest woman alive and still be far prettier than you." A short barking laugh erupted from the woman. "I could be the Betrayer's pockmarked backside and still be far prettier than you! My name is unimportant, just know that your misdeeds do not go unnoticed. We've been watching. What happens next is largely up to you. Either start paying your employees fair wages or stop evicting them when they can't pay rent."
Her expression softened as she looked to Lureene. "Nice to see you again. I hope this disgusting excuse for life didn't bother you too much. Will Alis be arriving soon?"
There was a raucous outburst of laughter, deep from the belly, and a meaty hand clapped Iole on the shoulder just where Amhranai's nails had dug in mere moments before. "Now, now, my boy, looks like we both need to get out more. Allow me the honor of introducing you to the fiery and tenacious Miss Amhranai. Why she's a guest of the Princess herself what with helping to save the city and all!"
"Now then, how's that pretty young wife of yours? Should we be expecting any young Bonati's," he winked and nudged the younger man in the ribs, oblivious to the withering look Iole gave him as he lowered his voice, "or are you two still just practicing?"
Lureene places a hand on Gelik's shoulder to put him at ease, "It's OK, Master Gelik. I am not worried in the slightest."
She turns to face Amhranai and gives the elf a smile. "It is good to see you again, Amhranai. I believe Princess Alis will be here shortly." She nods to the portly newcomer in greeting, then allows a small smile to show on her lips as she addresses the Baron. "Although attractiveness is an important quality, I also believe friendliness is ALSO important. Wouldn't you agree, Baron?"
Like a cat that knew it was bested for the moment, Iole licked his teeth, lip curling as he attempted a smile, "Yes, I suppose friendliness does have its place. Lady Ourson, Rinaldo..."
With a nod of his head and a murderous glare at Amhranai, the arrogant young baron stormed off, knocking several glasses of wine from a servant's tray as he snatched up a glass for himself, only to drain it in a single gulp and hurl it into the gardens.
From behind, Amhranai heard a faint "Heh!" as Sindariel walked by her.
Walking up to Lureene, the tall and graceful elvish woman with straight red hair and a mirthful blue eyes gave the length of her flamboyant jacket a whirl and placed a hand to her chest as she curtsied. "Lady Ourson I presume? Please allow me to introduce myself, I am Lady Lammontari, Sindariel Lammontari, although you may call me 'Sin' if it pleases you. Tell me, were my seamstresses of any aid to you and your staff, or would you prefer my personal touch?"
Even as a sigh of relief escaped Gelik, he ducked out from Lureene's side and nodded to the brash elven woman that had driven off Lord Bonati. "Ah so you are the Amhranai we've heard so much about! Why do I have the feeling that we shall all be hearing a great deal more?"
Waving a finger to hail another server, the gnome retrieved two glasses and offered one to the tattooed woman. With a wink he introduced himself, "Gelik Aberwhinge. Doff your cloak and stay awhile, I have it on good authority that you just made a new friend here..."
Lureene watches the Baron walk away and notes his outburst calmly. I seem to have made an enemy today...well he will need to stand in line I am afraid. My enemies are much more otherworldly than just a pompous nobleman; although he is the kind of person Mother would enjoy being with...
She returns the courtsey from the lady, along with a smile. She seems a friendly sort...of course so did the Baron, so I should be on my guard here.
"It is a pleasure to meet you, Sin.". She twirls sround in her dress showing off the way the fabrics highlighted her golden wings (not to mention the curves of her body). "Yes, your seamstresses did a wonderful job!"
She idly glances in the direction where the servants are hastily cleaning up the shards of broken glass. "It seems to me the good Baron has a...temper issue."
A tall, ruggedly handsome elf with a veritable mane of long, white hair gave a slight nod to those present. By his side, a shorter noblewoman with dark, wavy hair and a light olive complexion remarked, "But they are made for one another. One is the setting, and the other is the jewel."
Smiling demurely as the older gentleman grew flushed as a schoolboy with a crush, the attractive woman glanced after Baron Bonati and said, "That was quite the commendable performance you and Amhranai put on, your Ladyship, although I certainly wouldn't want to be a member of his household after this gathering has concluded. Temper doesn't begin to describe it."
Waving her hand as if to dismiss a foul odor, she continued, "But enough of such unpleasantness, if I might introduce all these new faces..."
Motioning to the middle-aged human gentleman, she said, "Lord Dagonius is Port Eldarion's chief whaling baron..."
She nodded to the taller redhead beside her, "Lady Lammontari a baroness of our profitable textile industry and a fashion designer of no small skill..."
"Master Rochmir," she patted the arm of the white-haired elf beside her, "designs and builds only the most exquisite carriages you shall ever ride and he also heads the Porters and Cartwright's Guild..."
"Hrmm..." the barrel-chested man mumbled to himself, still looking at his own palm as he tried to work out how the suave elf had managed that trick. "Yes, yes indeed. Mighty fine horses too if I do say so. Oh and I do believe you already met our good land baron, young Bonati. Why his father and I used to be great hunting partners, gods rest his soul, not had the chance yet with Iole, but I reckon he stays busy what with overseeing the plantation and all..."
"Ahem?" From behind the whaling baron, a heavy-set man wearing an excessive amount of gold jewelry and a blue toga cleared his throat, doing his best not to be left outside the growing circle of important personages.
As the man shouldered his way between the two taller men before him, he stopped to give Lady Ourson an appraising look, one pudgy hand stroking his well-groomed beard. He murmured, "Ah, very nice, very nice," perhaps unaware that he was thinking aloud.
With a toothy, leering smile, he gave a slight bow and whisked off his ornate hat to reveal a receding hairline. "Ah, so this is the great beauty I have heard stories about! I can only imagine what our wealthy Princess must look like with such resplendent aides. Even your bodyguard is not bad in spite of her obvious lack of good breeding, though obviously not everyone can be as fortunate to be born with both great wealth and good looks, eh?"
The veritable wall of arrogant blather from the man very nearly stunned Lureene before, the feeling of a sweaty hand grasping hers registered, a pair of wet blubbery lips quickly approaching the back of her hand.
Darvesch contemplates Alis' words.
"I like your thinking. I did mention to a little fox that I wanted to further enchant Grimnon's axe."
Darvesch laughs before continuing.
"Perhaps I could take her shopping with me, for the reagents? And while we're out, we can get food.. then she can help with my.. er, Grimnon's axe?"
Darvesch sounds nervous, anxious, and unsure of himself. "I never thought I'd have this much difficulty conquering this subject. Fiends, giants, and undead are one thing.. but romance?"
Lureene's face gets a faint pink glow as she blushes from all the compliments she is getting. "Baroness Mondracus...errr Carlina, you are too kind." As the odious man moves to bestow his 'blessing' on her creamy skin, she grits her teeth in a smile as she is reminded of a corpulent demonic bodyguard which was 'assigned' to her by her Mother many years ago. She represses a flinch but allows him to complete the kiss.
This one is better than Baron Iole...but it is a close call. Still he did not openly insult my friends...
"Oh, I've heard stories alright..."
When Lureene looked at her friend, she found Sasha playfully tugging at her bottom lip with her teeth, but she also caught the gleam of a shewolf who smelled blood in her eyes. Evidently this was one name Sasha wasn't mistaken about.
S 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (7) + 10 = 17
Sense Motive Checks:
L 1d20 + 2 + 5 ⇒ (10) + 2 + 5 = 17 familiarity
Uh-oh...I don't like the look in Sash's eyes...what does she know about this Lord Gallo? I need to check with her later...
"Please forgive my bodyguard's outburst." Lureene responds smoothly, "I do encourage Ms. Nevah to speak her mind freely...when appropriate." She lays a hand on Sasha's arm, squeezing it gently. "I am sure we can get into those stories later, but I suspect Princess Alis is just waiting for the right moment to interrupt our little gathering here..."
At Lureene's request, Sasha's eye darted between the now somewhat troubled visage of Lord Gallo and that of her best friend. With a coy look on her face, she said, "Oh ok, I'll just save my stories from little old Colottina for later then."
When Sasha mentioned her home, the succubus couldn't help but notice as Lord Gallo suddenly began choking as though he'd swallowed wine down the wrong pipe. As he hurriedly excused himself, the mischievous redhead simply whistled quietly to herself and took a long step backwards, looking quite pleased with herself.
L 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (14) + 2 = 16
Meanwhile, back outside...
Isaac was still outside, magic the only thing keeping his armor from baking him alive in the midday sun, when one status update in particular caused him to breathe a sigh of relief:
"Sir, the last guests have passed the gate, and Princess Kirmoon's procession has just passed the The Cornerstone of Industry."
Amhranai tracked the baron's petulant departure, an almost rueful shadow passing over her features before, with a sigh, she returned her attention to Lureene, hand dropping from her weapon. Should've figured titles are supposed to be used here. Ah well. And of course Alis is running late-just another ploy in these stupid games. She inclined her head slightly towards Sasha, but did not wish to engage with the woman's off the wall observations and instead regarded the richly-dressed gnome. Before she could respond to him, the sounds of her native tongue sang in her ears, but she chose to ignore them for the moment, moving to the side and out of Sindariel's way.
"I like my cloak right where it is, thank you." She relieved Gelik of the offered glass and took a small swallow. "Without it, I might melt in this heat. And I hope you don't hear a great deal more about me; that would mean I'm not doing my other job well enough. You probably know all that might be important anyways, nothing more to see now." She flashed what she hoped was a disarming smile at the gnome.
As the nobles gathered and introduced themselves to Lureene, she prayed for the woman's sanity and was reminded again of why she usually avoided these circles. Her gaze drifted about the garden, flitting from face to face to doorway and the building surrounding it. She felt too exposed here, but not overtly threatened. 'The victory for this first round goes to you. I wonder how the next round will take shape.' We'll see about that, won't we, Sin? Some things may need to happen sooner than expected now. I'm not sure I've won anything at all...yet.
"No!" Isaac could hear the agitated voice of an approaching man before he could actually see him. "I am not advocating any course of action that gives Gaeros and his lackeys the means to strong-arm the rest of the city like that. They've already shown they can't handle it, and what if a better-armed force was to have taken the island instead of a lone madman? What then?"
As he looked on, the Marshal could see two men, both human, heading up the driveway on foot. The first appeared to be perhaps 30 at most. While his clothes were of fine quality, and his hair slicked back for today's occasion, the lines and tan on his stern face and muscular arms attested to a man who was unafraid of hard work — Jaro Corvinus, the youngest Harbormaster in the city's history.
"There are always trade-offs," said the other man, in a sonorous voice. He looked to be at least twice the age of the younger man, and was dressed in the gold-trimmed robes and miter of a master architect. Although he carried a perfectly cylindrical walking stick, he did not lean upon it for support, and his shoulders were still wide and his back straight. Unlike the closely-cropped beard of the Harbormaster, the older man's long beard was slate-grey with a lighter streak running down the center. It was trimmed with such precision that from a distance, one might have thought it chiseled from granite.
With eyes veiled behind a pair of black spectacles, the master of the Fraternal Association of Builders seemed calm and cool in spite of what seemed to be a heated debate — at least on the part of the younger man.
"What you see as the strong-arm of a distant king, the corsairs to our north see as a pillar of flame barring their path. Given a choice between the certainty of a Freebooter's sword or the potential for friendly fire, what do you think most business men would choose?"
"I think they'd choose to dock their ships in a harbor where there's no risk of them getting sent to the bottom while still moored. If we are going to fight then we shouldn't wait until they are on our doorstep!"
A sigh of frustration escaped thru clenched teeth even as a finger tugged at the silk scarf the man had knotted about his neck for the Princess' summons. With a sour look on his face, he lifted his chin towards the tall Marshall and called out, "I'd ask if it's hot enough for you, but then you can't actually feel this can you, Hlokenar?"
It didn't take a mind-reader to see that the man didn't think too highly of those who relied upon creature comforts just to go about their daily lives. When one of the valets rushed forward to offer him a drink of water and a cool cloth for his face, he nodded in gratitude and refreshed himself before tipping the man against custom.
"I noticed our new Governor isn't as punctual as the last," he said plainly, as if challenging Isaac or anyone else to dispute it. The fact that he and the Master Builder were the last to arrive either unknown to him or irrelevant.
I 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (11) + 11 = 22
"Royal prerogative, no doubt, but just as well," the older man commented as he sprinkled some herbs into the water he was offered. "Matching my pace, you and I might well have arrived after her Highness otherwise."
Looking towards the hale, young soldier before him, Master Petronius put a hand to his breast and bowed his head in respect, "My young Lord Isaac, you and your family have my sympathies. Your mother, Lady Isabel, was a beautiful soul. Our city is a darker place without her loving grace."
Recovering, his gaze unreadable behind his dark glasses, he asked, "Tell me, how fares Lilyana after your recent ordeal with the Freebooters? Has word arrived yet from your father in Batasuno?"
Hearing the loud voice of Jaro Corvinus, he turned his attention to the conversation in case he had to add his two cents. Though as they came up to him Jaro pulled him in to the conversation with the passive aggressive jab at him not feeling how hot it was.
Isaac quirked an eyebrow at him, and shrugged, "Oh, I feel it Corvinus, its just a nice day out." He said smirking a bit. He felt like it was a game to be passive aggressive with him, but today wasn't a day to really throw witty comments back at Jaro.
"Eh, you know how nobles are, fashionably late and all that. She's also pretty young, seems the government needs some fresh blood around here." He said keeping his cool. Not many people could get under his skin, and Jaro wasn't one of them.
He gave Luca a slight nod to welcome him, and a smile. "Thank you, she is dearly missed by all three of us... Lilyana is.." He thought back to his sister trying to set him up with the princess and shook his head "She's a tough cookie, she's just fine." He added, a nervous chuckle in his voice as he wondered what she was up too at the moment.
"I haven't heard word of my father yet, but what's going on with Gaeros? Something I should know about?"
"Oh, I feel it Corvinus, its just a nice day out."
"Right," he said, looking at the sweat beaded on the faces of the valets in their formal uniforms, "obviously a common sentiment today."
It wasn't difficult for the major to detect the sarcastic irony in Jaro's word choice. Certainly no commoner (at least not one with work to do) would have agreed with the Major.
"Eh, you know how nobles are, fashionably late and all that. She's also pretty young, seems the government needs some fresh blood around here."
"New blood. Tch– Nice way of saying 'inexperienced'." Although he grumbled it under his breath, Isaac's elvish ears could pick up Jaro's disdain.
I 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (19) + 11 = 30
I 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (20) + 13 = 33
"Thank you, she is dearly missed by all three of us... Lilyana is... she's a tough cookie, she's just fine."
Whether the older man was ignoring the perturbed Harbormaster or simply didn't hear him, Master Petronius paid Jaro no mind. "That is good to hear, she certainly is a brave girl. Although I suppose now she is growing up into a brave young woman... Time moves more quickly the older you get, Isaac, never forget that."
"I haven't heard word of my father yet, but what's going on with Gaeros? Something I should know about?"
After stroking his beard for a moment, he continued, "Preventing a civil war is no small task, but it is one that is best fought in the hearts and minds of its potential combatants. Your father takes the long view of things as elves are wont to. If he had need of more men, then I am sure you would be the first to know. As for Commodore Gaeros... young Jaro is not the only man in Port Eldarion who is critical over the calamity you and our Princess helped bring to an end."
"Damn straight I'm critical," Jaro growled. "Just like Governor Taurion, it's another case of an elven noble being so slow to react that it's too late by the time they do. Thank the gods our high and mighty King had a no doubt bastard half-breed he didn't want around to look after us. Maybe she'll have a bit more sense at least..."
Isaac nodded to Luca, a smile on his face, "Brave and head strong, not sure who she's related too anymore." he said, obviously joking around, "Don't worry, I won't...."
"That's what I believe, no news is good news for now." He said, though once it got too that 'couple month' mark, he'd start to panic if he didn't hear word from his father. He straightened his shoulders, obviously losing the relaxed demeanor he had on previously as Jaro jumped in with his rude, disrespectful and racist remark that not only offended his princess (who he thought as a friend, but wasn't sure if the feeling was mutual quiet yet), but himself. Jaro had managed to cross the line.
"Corvinus, I'm disappointed with you, I never thought you to be a racist... Maybe you should just go home and cool off since you're having such a bad time here already." He said, quirking an eyebrow at him, wondering if Jaro was going to challenge him right then and there and probably get made to look more like a bigot than he was already being.
Jaro Corvinus grimaced a bit at Isaac's rebuke, and his tone grew more apologetic, "I meant no slight against you or your kin, Hlokenar, just venting frustration. With the state of affairs here, you'd think the King would have sent someone more experienced."
He ran a hand over his hair and shook his head.
"Truth is, I'd rather go home, but it's part of my job to be here — even if there is a ton of work back at the office." He gave the taller man a knowing grin, "Guess we're in the same boat there though, aren't we?"
Master Petronius' lower lip had jutted severely at Jaro's condemnation of a woman they had yet to meet, but his expression softened somewhat as the fiery young man recanted somewhat. "Before you judge our new ruler too harshly, remember how others gainsaid a certain young man's young age not two years ago when he was elected Harbormaster. Sound judgment is not strictly the purview of old men any more than courage is exclusive to the largest warrior in a battle. None of us rejoice in the massacre from this past Alsday, but it might not have ended had not King Aramandil's half-elven daughter conducted the counter-assault that ended it."
The aging architect looked to Isaac and commented, "Among us, only Isaac was there to witness more than just her singing. I for one choose to reserve judgment until one's actions have spoken for them..."
"That includes," his head turned ever so slightly towards Isaac, "having faith in the testimony of those who have already proven their character."
"Now then," he pounded the tip of his walking stick on the ground, "this old man is heading inside before we get up the hopes of the buzzards."
For a moment, Isaac wondered if Luca was implying they'd stayed out in the sun so long as to draw vultures, or if he was implying that the power players who had already arrived might prefer your trio's absence. The longer he thought on it though, the more he was certain the old man's ambiguity was not only intentional but as much a jibe at Jaro's temperament as it was a self-deprecation.
I 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (11) + 11 = 22