It was approximately an hour past sunset when Lureene and Sasha sashayed into the atrium of Villa Sempronius. The tall, leggy redhead was wearing a tight, midnight-blue corset with a heart-shaped neckline that frame the pale hills of her inviting cleavage with dark lace. Dangling from the center of the neckline, a loosely tied yet purely decorative bow added movement, and the suggestion that a mere tug might unleash her in a flame of passion.
Covering her well-toned shoulders, and wrapping behind her neck was a short bolero comprised of matching, midnight and black feathers that ruffled at the slightest breeze. Her fiery hair, normally loose and wild, was now swept back and coiffed into an bun just behind her right ear to display her milk-white neck and the delicate floral necklace she now wore, its jade fronds, hovering tastefully, yet suggestively just above her cleavage.
Swaying with the rhythm of her generous hips, her legs were swathed with shifting layers of dark-blue chiffon, it's many pleats and folds issuing from a gather at one hip rewarding any admirers with occasional flashes of her shapely calves.
Yet if Sasha seemed some beautiful nightingale, then Lureene was a vision of golden heaven.
She wore a floor-length dress shaped like a morning glory woven from a fine silver. The whole of it was covered in flecks of gold and electrum patterned after falling leaves with small, clear gems sparkling throughout. Towards its hem the leaves were more sparse and one could just make out shifting layers of fabric that give motion to its train. The number and density of the precious 'leaves' increased the higher one's gaze traveled until the strapless, bare-shouldered affair became a radiant layer of sparkling gold interspersed with diamonds at her glorious bust.
In concert with her blonde tresses, and golden wings, any man able to keep his wits might very well have had need to check his wrist to ensure he yet had a pulse — some reassurance that he had not died and gone to heaven.
While his partners went to ready themselves, Arion first hailed the superior officer of the unit assigned to the Villa, informing the officer of the Princess' directive, the requisition of 4 guards as escort for the evening. Those secured, Arion quickly flipped through his Port Eldarion binder as he strode towards his quarters. Finding the local map he'd been seeking, he hid the satchel while beginning to disrobe.
During his training in Silverwake a variety of guises, accoutrements and ensembles had been readied for his duties in Port Eldarion, adding to his modest collection brought from Ilmarond. Arion did not want to detain the others so he quickly went to his two favourites, attempting to decide between them without delay.
How often have I had the opportunity to wear my favourite? How often in the future? This seems to be the appropriate night. Quickly now.
His favourite Caparison had been tailored to fit him in debonair style for just such occasions. On special looms commissioned by his superiors in Silverwake, the silken material mingled with light and sturdy wools showed its efflorescent embroidery when reflecting pools of light. Overall, the colours ranged from charcoals to medium and lighter silvery-greys, with hints of mettalics.The thought crossed his mind that he should have versions crafted in lighter shades, to better match his lighter complexion, in this land of darker skinned races. Yet, part of the intent of the evening's outing was to stir the pot and present statements such as, 'we are an Elven Kingdom and this is how we enjoy a night on the town.'
After casting the Prestidigitation Spell upon his bare form, to ensure being fully refreshed, clean and orderly, the Transmuter quickly finished dressing. His magical belt he concealed beneath the silvery-grey camicia and secured the camiciola jacket over all. In the light of the magical lanterns outside his windows the sequins and zardosi and beads upon the camiciola glinted in bright mithrils and amethysts. The greatest concentration of Mithril and zardosi flowed along the lapels, cuffs, collars and trim down to the mid-thigh length hem. Over his amulet he folded the silver-grey crevat, securing its centre with a circular, diamond encrusted pin. There was a disguised pocket within the left sleeve of the camiciola, into which he sheathed his Quill. He secured the cuffs of his charcoal coloured silken breeches into his boots and began to move out.
Before rejoining the Ladies, Arion had an afterthought and stood before the full-length mirror of his quarters. He released his hair from its bonds, letting it flow freely about his shoulders and framing his face, concealing his headband all but for its central gem. Arion gathered the map, his magical cloak and the Kirmoon Royal brooch and made his way towards the Atrium to find Sasha and Lureene.
The Villa's Atrium was furnished and decorated beautifully, yet, far and beyond all, the first perceptions of Sasha and Lureene almost took Arion's breath away. He caught glimpses of Sasha's legs amidst her skirts and suddenly wondered if he would be able to control himself during their outing. He realised in all years past he had never the opportunity of the company of someone so athletic and attractive in the same person. Then he became aware of the bare shoulders of Lureene before she turned to greet him. Time seemed to move slowly as he gathered in all the delicious sensations of her every movement as she turned to face him.
Arion approached the two, his cloak over one arm and deeply inhaled the priceless moment. His senses were alive. Surely his expression was akin to someone used to elaborate fare, having been deprived of such for many years, suddenly presented with an infinitely perfect buffet including delicacies galore.
He finally managed to exhale, "Ladies! Who in their right mind would not be overjoyed that they are so privilaged to have You two Paramour-Luminaries arm in arm for an evening?!?"
Still feasting on the sensory repast, he added, "Here is a map for our evening's course. Would You Ladies care to set out?"
Sasha's painted lips curled into a smile and she hooked her arm thru Lureene's, batting eye-lashes made all the more enticing by mascara, her eyelids flashing with a faintly iridescent eye-shadow, "Well we're ready to go if his Maaajesty is."
From whence Sasha gestured, approached a tiny figure dressed in a dapper purple corduroy tunic trimmed and belted with gold. Encircling the gold tuft of fur atop King Tut's head was a matching wreath of gold laurel leaves, and he carried a gold-topped swagger-stick in one hand, beaming a toothy smile as he imitated the same royal wave Poe had given earlier.
Her interplay with 'his Maaajesty' enticed a laugh from Arion.
Really? AND a golden laurel wreath? HA!
With, now, almost 7 decades past since Arion had decided upon the path of Law, the true chaotic nature of his childhood longed to frolic with the humours of the effervescent Sasha Nevah.
At least, for one evening, the capricious Fey within me shall live vicariously through her fanciful flirtations. But remember the part - that allowing Your nature as a child to run freely - played in Your banishment.
Yet, Oh! how he needed such a sporting fete!
Ah, optimistically, now begins the ideal apéritif for the main course to complete this already splendid day. Benevolent Beauty commanded You to show them an enjoyable time, and to enjoy this, Yourself...while You remain vigilant. Let Your training emerge, covertly.
Graceously Arion spoke to the squad leader, "If You will lead the way at a pace pleasing to our Ladies..."
The squad leader nodded in solemn readiness and Arion smiled upon the party, saying,"Now then, our formation; You two honourable men in the Vanguard, You two honourable men in the Reserves, flanking; If I may have the honour of Lady Ourson's free arm, may Ms. Nevah and I escort the king and his entourage to more tales of adventure."
Seeing the plan was pleasing to them, with raised voice he playfully proclaimed,
Lureene turns a smoky gaze upon Sasha, her own lashes darkened to a charcoal hue and her lids shaded a delightful shade of rosy pink. She licked her lips in anticipation, the shimmery pink lipstick glistening in the evening lights. "Careful Sash. We mustn't upset him as we would not want to find ourselves covered in monkey hair!"
As the beautiful huntress turned her predatory gaze on their escort for the evening exchanging flirtatious looks Lureene is instead silent, completely transfixed by his entrance. By all the Gods in the Heavens, he is GEORGEOUS! As he approaches them, she reflects briefly on the last time she had been on an actual DATE, the gentleman and former bodyguard was...less than pleased with the event.
Mal, I wonder how you are faring on the Shiv...I kind of miss you.
Turning her attention to the present, Lureene turns to feast upon his own presence even as she glides next to him, the clicking of her high heels on the marble flooring muffled by her train. She holds out her arm for him to take, allowing him to enjoy the shimmering of the fabric of her dress and how it showed of her creamy shoulders and arms, not to mention her bust.
I know Alis looked beautiful when she wore this before back at The Black Boar...was it in Caen Carriac?..., I can only hope to equal her timeless beauty here.
"Master Arion, it would be my pleasure to have you escort me this fine evening..." On an impulse she leans forward to speak softly into the handsome elf's ear stifling a giggle, yet pitched loud enough for Sasha to overhear. "...but I suspect Sasha will try to steal you away from me!"
During their exit of the Atrium Arion smiled at Lureene and said, "By the wishes of our Princess and by my own desires, let Ms. Nevah and myself remain as closely by Your side, throughout this lovely evening, as we're enjoying now."
The breezes from the River, funneled towards the group, felt cool and sweet to Arion as his party began their outing. His eyes adjusted quickly and his ears picked up, among the sounds of the early evening, occasional and light traffic, merriment in the distance.
Even well travelled as he was, Arion was again highly impressed with the civil engineering of this considerably sized Port City.
As they travelled along, between his other considerations, Arion spoke with Lureene and Sasha. The comfortably pleasant stroll prompted him to offer, "For my part, I intend to enjoy tonight. However, there might be personalities at this establishment who resemble those at the festivities earlier today. Should we encounter any whose attentions or conversations You wish to avoid, please allow me to intercept unwelcomed advances. Simply indicate them to me in some way."
The smile on Lureene's face, already radiant grew even brighter at Arion's desire to enjoy both of the ladies' companies. She feels a blush forming on her cheeks as she replies, "Arion, nothing would make me happier to have the both of you," she gives Sasha a gentle touch with her golden wing, "by my side."
Arion's offer to act as a de-facto chaperone for her and Sasha reminded her of the actions of two of the party's attendees. "Master Arion, I will certainly make my wishes known and you have my leave to act as you see fit. However, should either the Baron Bonati or that so-called 'Lord' Lucius Gallo approach me, I would be most pleased if they were...escorted out of the place!" There is a note of vehemence as she thought about the actions of the pair of so-called gentlemen.
Walking alongside the long central green, their way was illuminated as much by the arcane lanterns lining 7th Street as by the red and the celestial bodies overhead. The guards' footfalls upon the oddly-shaped, yet closely-fitted paving stones, each one large as a wagon wheel, echoed from the stately edifices lining the broad plaza. Further within the central gardens, couples walked amidst the fountains and the sound music could be heard from the plaza surrounding Atella Sempronius' magnificent marble tomb.
As they drew closer to the massive palace that would soon be their permanent residence, the group passed on their left a large monument, the Cornerstone of Integrity. Here great statues of soldiers, judges, and other heroes stood in solemn vigil. So detailed were the gigantic sculptures that one might have wondered if they should come to life to protect the Patrician way of life should decadence, corruption, or barbarism threaten it.
Rounding the monument, the group passed south past the tall, white-stone walls of the palace and the well-appointed estate of Isaac and Lilyana's father, General Aurvandur Hlokenar. Although the Marshal and his itinerant sister still lived there, their father was as yet still away, keeping the peace in Batasuno far upriver to the east in The Veldt.
Passing towards the West, taking a diagonal towards 7th Avenue and New Viamaré, one might have admired the designs of the gigantic walls ahead of them. Yet even as tall as the great city wall and its gatehouse were, the walls girding the palace rose higher still — tall enough that a giant standing upon his brethren's shoulders would be hard-pressed to gain purchase. Indeed, the palace itself seemed not so much to hide behind this wall as to rise above it upon some great plinth. Oddly enough, in spite of the wide encircling moats, the nearby river, and the many lanterns, the insects to which Lureene had become accustomed on Reaver's Shiv were pleasantly absent, the result of faint abjurations pervading the city's more affluent regions.
Dressed as they were, with member of her Highness' Royal Guard in escort, those soldiers manning the gatehouse snapped to attention, the men trying desperately to fix their gazes straight-ahead rather than on the beauties accompanying the debonair elf. Indeed, as they entered the broad, monumental plaza that separated the Governor's Arms Hotel from Gods Save the Keg, the sound of merry-making fell to a respectful silence. Only a lone young woman with dark hair who had been selling flowers from a basket she balanced atop her head seemed unaware of their approach until at the last moment, she turned and stepped aside, sweeping the basket from her head as she curtsied.
"My Lord and Ladies," she said softly, hazel eyes lowered in respect.
Visions of his past came to the fore. Arion remembered his first year on the hard streets, after being ostracised from nobility and home. A lone young woman who had wandered those dark, dirty streets, desperate for enough to stay alive one more day...yet one day arose when she was no more. Arion was drawn more closely towards the basket of flowers nearby.
It would be right to share somewhat of the joys and prosperity with which I've been blessed in this new home...sharing also some emblems of gratitude to these stunning Muses who have induced such pleasures for me already
The guards commissioned for service to Princess Kirmoon were well fitting it seemed, as they quickly perceived the unspoken intentions of Arion and began to alter their course with his.
Arion bowed before the florist-maiden while reaching within his camiciola, into one of the many well hidden pockets. He withdrew a small pouch of coins and asked her,
"Would such an ambrosial floret as Yourself assist a newly arrived immigrant in selecting one stemmed example each of Your most lovely native species? They are to be emblems of gratitude for this pair of Muses among us."
Lureene waits patiently as Arion moves towards the young woman. She idly turns her gaze on the young woman, her smile meant to reassure the other girl. Still considering the fact Alis had many enemies, one could not be TOO careful.
As she waits for the maiden to handle Arion's request, she looks over the young woman trying to determine if she was disguised in some way, or whether she was familiar in some way. She allows a vacant look to appear on her face, one of her well-practiced deceptions.
"Muses indeed, my Lord," the young woman agreed with a warm smile, blushing at the compliment the handsome elf paid her. "Well I have many lovely blooms that may be of interest if you have just arrived with our Princess from Ilmarond."
The young woman was a little taller than Lureene, dressed simply yet colorfully in greens and pinks. She seemed somewhat on the thin side as if she ate conservatively, though she seems healthy and energetic enough. Tanned though she was from her days in the sun, you could make out a smattering of freckles on her nose and cheeks. Although Lureene doted on her appearance, she did not seem familiar in any way, she seemed to just what she appeared to be, a pretty young Patrician girl trying to make a living selling flowers in the square.
Suddenly recognition dawned on the flower-girl's face and she gasped, covering her mouth with her hand before waving it excitedly at the winged-woman. "Wait, I remember you! You were one of those angels that fought off the demon atop Arrowhead the other day, aren't you? Did you come here to protect us from the pirates and the Zucks, my Lady?"
Lureene is momentarily nonplussed by her reaction to her presence. Does this mean I am now...FAMOUS? Well, I believe I have a chance to do some good here for the spirits of our citizens.
She walks over to the trembling flower girl and gives her a reassuring smile. "That is right, I was there to defend this wonderful city and its citizens from its enemies, and I will continue to protect you, as long as I continue to draw breath!"
Arion slid coins into a small pile, onto his open palm before the florist-maiden while saying to her, "These four flowers for us and the fee figured by You."
With his other hand the restored-courtier gently lifted his selections. While he awaited the young vendor's acquisition, Arion began to distribute the exotic party favours:
To Lureene, one lengthy ginger wand tipped with its rising clusters of white petals. He also selected for her the Orchid of the brightest white, flecked with veins and speckles of pinks, lavenders and golds, smiling while he said, "For our concentre, Your angelic wand, and Your intrumental-Star, perhaps near to one ear?"
For Sasha, one scepter of tall stalk of red ginger blossoms. At last, he committed to her hand the lone Passion Flower, saying, "Our Forest-Fairy Friend should carry her Scepter Frond for the festivities. For her Badge of Office a Passion Flower befits."
This reminds me of more than a few Badges of Knightly Orders from my travels. What sort of Ranger Order might this fiery virago establish of her own? Thoughts that entertained some of his deepest fantasies.
"Merely tokens from my heart...gratitude for the lovely company You afford me. Thank You."
Lureene graciously accepts the proffered tokens of favor. Turning a dazzling smile on him, her smoky eyes smoldering with barely concealed desire, she resists the urge to throw decorum to the wind and instead she leans forward to breathe in his ear. "Your thoughtfulness and generosity are boundless! I am most appreciative of your wonderful gesture, Arion! Remind me to...thank you later."
She pulls away to allow him to affix Sasha with her favors, and decides to slide the ginger wand in one of her bracelets for now. Her Orchid would look stunning pinned up in her hair...but as she reaches to pin it up she realizes she has no pin for her hair, having decided to wear it down this evening.
She slides next to Arion after he finishes helping Sasha pin her flowers on and asks coyly, "Do you perchance have a pin for this Orchid?"
Forest Fairy Friend... whoa that's kind of like a rhyme, but it's on the opposite end!
She smiled, lost in thought as she gazed the the two flowers she had been given.
I bet this is how Lissi feels with all her fancy things.
"Well I'm going to carry my flower wand," Sasha teased, playfully bopping Lureene on the shoulder with it. Biting her lip a bit as she looked at the delicate blue and purple passion flower, she looked to Arion and asked, "I don't know, should I wear it on my bun, or behind my left ear?"
"Oh," she leaned in closer and whispered, "and what's a corsage, anyway? Is that like a corset for a flower?"
Lureene smiles gratefully at the young flower maiden. "Your kindness does me much honor. I would be delighted to have this worn as a corsage!" Once the young girl has finished trimming the stem of the ginger, she starts to give the young woman a gentle kiss on her forehead but seeing she had put her basket on her head, decided her hand was safer.
"Please accept this blessing from your angel. Your skills at bringing joy and pleasure to my life shall never be forgotten!"
She then takes the ribbon and ties it to her left wrist. Turning to Sasha and waving her ginger as a sword much like Sasha did earlier, a wicked gleam in her eyes, "Be careful Sash, else I shall have our good escort here...disarm you!" Laughing, she reattaches the ginger to her bracelet
In truth, we could place these flowers anywhere and they would only lightly augment their enticing voluptuousness and sensuality. What a unique mixture, the heart of a huntress within this frame fashioned in more formal fare.
Arion held the Passion Flower near Sasha's face, exulting,
"Our frivoloties tonight giving us a rare exhibit, Your alternate hairstyle, I think we should ornament this lovely coif near Your ear!"
He admired the portrait-of-a-Lady before him, even with the puerile simian on her shoulders. He offered a few more coins to the young vendor, saying, "Fortuitous. Your pins shall help adorn our Star and Fairy-Queen."
Arion easily affixed the flower upon the decorative bun of hair near Sasha's ear and brushed her cheek with a flourish, fancying, "Yes! Most becoming!"
Sasha gave a contented sigh, eyes closed as she enjoyed the brush of Arion's hand against her cheek. A moment later, her eyes lit up with laughter as King Tut switched shoulders to give her new hair accessory a sniff, an awed "Oooh!" noting his approval.
Smiling, she reached out and squeezed Arion's hand before looking to the flower girl, still stunned to silence by a noblewoman kissing her hand. "Thanks for the pretty posies, flower-girl, I really like my badge and scepter!"
Blushing in surprise at the unexpected attention from Lady Ourson, it took all the young woman's wits to recover, the winged-woman's very nature nearly intoxicating to those around her. Sasha's cheerful tone helped to snap her out of it and recovering she curtsied low, holding the hand Lureene had kissed to her bosom as if clutching something precious.
"Thank you my Ladies, and you also my Lord. I wish more people would take time to stop and smell the roses, as they say. Enjoy your stroll!"
With that, the young woman respectfully backed away, stars in her eyes. As you finally moved on, you couldn't help but notice that many others had been watching with interest around the courtyard, and swiftly flocked to the young woman, eager to imitate the fashions of those they saw as wealthy and influential.
"Aww, well that was really sweet," Sasha mused as you approached New Viamaré's most upscale pub. The music coming from the entryway and the steady stream of well-dressed patrons entering and leaving left no doubt as to the place's function. Even so, its architecture seemed more officious in design, not unlike a governmental agency. Its tall fluted columns with intricate floral capitals would have fit seamlessly with those buildings lining Monument Green. The architrave they supported seemed to bear bas relief carvings of great ships plying the seas, and of deities of civilization and commerce empowering men to spread wealth and prosperity across the wide world.
Unconcerned with such details, Sasha spun around in front of Lureene, walking backwards even as swung her friend's hand back and forth. "Hey, if that girl's around later, we should get some flowers for Lissi on our way back, don't you think?"
Lureene glances back to the courtyard, still amazed at the effect her gesture had on the young lady...and those who witnessed it.
I don't think I realized just how much effect I can have on those around me....that one small gesture made a world of difference on that girl. I just need to keep such adoration from going to my head...Father needs me to stay focused.
She replies thoughtfully, "Ohh Sash, I think I won't have ANY trouble finding her later, she will always remember me...I never did learn her name..." She then links her arm with Arion's and allows him to escort her and Sasha inside the building.
Our influence upon the citizens of this city...among my duties on this outing, I begin to realise I....we...might have causes worthy of our efforts...causes beyond ourselves
As Arion watched the people nearby and Lureene's reflections, he spoke his thoughts out loud, in an almost fraternal way, "So shines a good deed in a tangled, uneasy world. Heroes may be found in such unlikely places...and soon, among the entertainment of the would-be elite."
He then redirected his senses back towards the main entrance to Gods Save The Keg, gathering details of the doorway scene with diligence, beneath the camoflage of an air of sophistication, elegance and a very real relish for the entire regalia.
The doors of the pub were tall, at least 15-feet tall, studded and reinforced with hammered bronze, their surface carved with scenes of sirens and sea dragons, galleons and giants. Outside them stood a pair of huge, black-skinned warrior, gold bands straining against their powerful biceps, and ivory-hilted tulwars on their hips.
Even at the approach of the royal guard, they remained unmoved and unflinching, dark eyes surveying those who approached, arms folded across their broad chests. From seemingly out of thin air, a slight elven woman who was their perfect contrast appeared. Pale of skin and dark of hair, she sauntered forward in gold-trimmed silken garb befitting a Xarakai princess, her many bangles on her wrists and coins on her belt and ankles chiming with her movements.
Ignoring the line of people waiting to enter, she curtsied low before the newly arrived VIPs, arms spread low and wide. From behind a gauzy veil, her voice was soft and sultry, mimicking the accent of the desert folk, "With open arms, my Master Antirel welcomes the honor of a visitation from royal envoys. Please, allow me to guide you to him, my Lord and Ladies."
Ruby lips and emerald eyes afire, she turned, a shake of her hips resounding like a hundred tiny bells as she entered ahead of you, a single finger crooked, beckoning you to follow.
Lureene feels a sense of self-consciousness, almost like stage fright on being greeted by the strikingly attired elf.
Is this how it will be for me from now on...to be addresed and fawned over incessantly? I know 'Lis is used to this...I just need to be STRONG like her.
"Of course! You do me great honor, Ms. Nevah!" With a sense of resignation buried deep in her soul, she smiles back at Sasha and strides forward with Arion's arm locked in hers into the pub, showing everyone eyeing her a swagger she did not truly feel.
Ah, at last! The fox enters the coop where pidgeons play peacocks. We shall see whether lupines or vipers masquerade in feathered disguises.
With his free hand Arion gave military hand signals to the lead guard indicating the maneuver of patrolling one circle around the location, joining the guards at the nearest tower for one hour, returning to the location to resume patrol and so on.
As they paraded behind the hostess and their titillating companion, Arion leaned towards Lureene, lips brushing her ear and whispered with clarity over the hum of the crowds, "Whatever within seems entertaining to You, feel free to explore Your whims."
"I have noted with pleasure that Your everyday, natural gestures and poise are already that of a mythic deity. I'm sure that these people have never experienced someone like You. Also, remember: There is nothing noble in pretended superiority over Your fellow people. True nobility lies in being superior to Your former self."
As the handsome elf's breath caresses her ear, Lureene feels a shiver of pleasure run all the way down her body and over her wings, traveling down to her toes. She holds his head close and whispers back. "Yes, my Lord! I shall take your words under good counsel, as they have the ring of wisdom and truth beneath them!" As she breaths in his body scent, her own bodily odors grow more intense, the cinnamon spices which linger over her mixed with a more musky, sensuous, and flavorful undertone.
She presses closer in his body brushing a kiss on his cheek, leaving an imprint of her lips on his cheek. The pink hued mark sparkling in the lights. She then whispers in reply, "You are indeed a learned man, full of wise counsel. I am most blessed to partake of your company!" Smiling sensuously at him, she releases his body before glancing over to Sasha. The look as she meets the redhead's jade eyes conveys an unspoken message: YOUR TURN!
Sasha winked in unspoken reply to her friend, yet a moment later and her attention was 1000s of miles away.
Incense and jasmine hung heavy in the air. All about, girls of varied ethnicities flitted about, clad like belly-dancers, hips moving in time to the beat of a distant drum, sitars and otherworldly vocals filling in the sound.
The inside of the place was a vast, two-story affair with numerous alcoves both open and private opening onto a large central area. Further back, nearly lost in the haze and dimness, the fires of great ovens and grills could be seen. There, extravagant chefs made a performance of flipping knives and utensils thru the air, dicing food seemingly by sleight of hand to the entertainment of guest.
Much nearer, outlined against those flames, dancers swayed and moved, silks and sashes shimmering, lithe forms inviting appreciation.
"Well damn," Sasha said with some surprise, "I figured this place would be all stuffy. Did we just step into a Xarakai harem or something?!"
The black-haired elf smiled, bowing her head at the compliment and she motioned for all of you to follow her up a broad flight of stairs that curved around to the mezzanine. "Sareth would be overjoyed to hear you say so, my Lady. Xerech is indeed this evening's theme."
As you proceeded higher, height affording an enviable view of the dancers, she asked, "Have you ever visited?"
Light laughter escaped the timeless beauty as she extended a slender arm, pale skin decorated with henna spirals, towards a long, private table overlooking the scene below. "I shall see to it myself," she said, her gaze practically caressing the redhead's neck and shoulders as she swept past, silks brushing up against her.
As she moved past you, she pulled out three heavily carved chairs with thick, velvet upholstery before twirling to a stop beside a tall wing chair that had been turned away from you. In a breathy whisper, she spoke a few words in melodious elvish, her kohl-lined gaze lingering upon you as she leaned on the chair back with one arm, the other twisting sensuously in time to the music.
Although it escaped the notice of Lureene and Sasha merely gave the hostess a friendly smile, Arion could tell that the woman was casting a spell to detect their thoughts. Yet whether it was something in the air, or some subconscious desire to give the appearance of openness, he knew without out a doubt that it was only his ring that had girded his thoughts against the unexpected surveillance.
The elven woman merely smirked at the blonde gentleman, gaze lowered in an acknowledgement of defeat. "My Lord Sareth, allow me to introduce you to our Princess' lady-in-waiting, the Lady Ourson, and her exquisite compatriots. Lady Ourson, this is Sareth Antirel, master of this establishment."
"Sweet Sareth, you have noble callers this evening. A elvish Lord and two lovely Ladies. They arrived in the escort of our new Princess' honor guard no less!"
Dance 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (6) + 12 = 18 (spellsong)
Perception DC 18 R 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (3) + 15 = 18 L 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (3) + 9 = 12
Spellcraft DC 17 R 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (15) + 12 = 27
Will DC 16 R 1d20 + 10 + 2 ⇒ (4) + 10 + 2 = 16 resistance L 1d20 + 8 + 1 ⇒ (2) + 8 + 1 = 11 mind-affect S 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (2) + 1 = 3
From the high-backed chair rose a man, dressed in blue and magenta robes fit for a sultan. He wore his light brown hair shoulder-length, bangs neatly styled to frame his not unpleasant countenance and pointed ears. He greeted the three with a bow, arm raised indicating they should be seated.
"Truly the keg is favored by Heaven herself to be graced by the presence of an angel on golden wings. Welcome Lady Ourson, and please, call me Sareth, I insist! Might I have the names of your esteemed companions?"
At the man's greeting, a few others seated further down rose to their feet out of respect.
The man seated closest was of about Arion's height, an elf with long wavy brown hair parted neatly in the center. Although he smiled, bowing his head in respect, his eyes seemed perpetually squinted as if against a bright light. It was not merely for the way in which he cleared his throat that you gathered he was not nearly as enthusiastic as the more flamboyantly-dressed Sareth.
Sense Motive DC 15: R 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (3) + 14 = 17 L 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (14) + 2 = 16 S 1d20 + 2 + 2 ⇒ (11) + 2 + 2 = 15 human
"Oh dear, forgive me, Lord Minister!" Sareth said as he pushed his chair back to afford his new guests a better view of those already seated with him. In an apologetic tone, he explained, " I forget our Highness and company are newly arrived. My friends, this is Lord Hior Celadrendir, our state's treasurer and a fellow connoisseur of fine culture!"
Further down the table, the two figures there needed no introduction, for although when you had first encountered them she was clad in armor, and he had his throat ripped out, there was no mistaking the blonde half-elf in her blue evening gown for Arrowhead's Master Chief, and the officious-looking older elf by her side as Commodore Gaeros.
Gaze intense, the tall, athletic blonde nodded respectfully and interceded before Sareth could speak. "We've met, actually, even if it was under the banner of war. Arrowhead owes you its thanks, Lady Ourson, Ms. Nevah."