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* Plot Information for Dhemlan, Kaeleer

Dhemlan has become a land divided. The corruption that Witch’s Purge wiped out in the rest of the Realms was preserved by the well-meaning sacrifice of the territory’s Ebon Gray Queen. As such, the corruption here has only intensified. The tension between the Landen and the Blood who were meant to care for them is fast reaching a boiling point.
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Author Topic: The Gala of Queens  (Read 374 times)

Description: All Queens and their attendants invited.

Offline Teoda Araneina

  • Character Account
    • te2ss
    • queen
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      Queen of Dhemlan

    • Faction

      Territory Court

    • Territory

      Dhemlan, Kaeleer

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      [Link]

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      phinneas

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      74

    • Destiny's child.

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The Gala of Queens
« on: Feb 10, 18, 04:12:17 PM »

Main Facade
High up on the cliffs overlooking the Sea of Dhemlan, the palatial Territory Keep of Dhemlan sat as it had for millennia: solid, robust, and unflinching. The sprawling estate was more like a villa for its size, an unusual dominance of property ownership in the densely-populated capital of Amdarh. Known for its classically Dhemlanese architecture and an abundance of beautifully-appointed courtyards and gardens, the palace had served as the seat of Dhemlan's power since before the recollection of anyone yet living. One wouldn't know its age by how well it was kept up, however. Especially tonight, it had been cleansed and dressed to perfection in anticipation of a singularly important event: the Gala of Queens.

For well over a month now, Queens and courts across Dhemlan had been preparing themselves to make a showing at the event. The Province seat of La Oratova had been held by a Priestess for more than a year now, while Teoda Araneina considered and rejected each of the Dhemlanese Queens who approached her for the seat. Few dared criticize the process aloud, as Lady Aranaina had the blessing of the Cáthedra Abyssum to leave the La Oratova throne so tended, and speaking against the will of the Cáthedra was speaking against Mother Night herself. Regardless of what heresy the Blood of Dhemlan might whisper behind closed doors, few were willing to be branded a heretic in public.


Sentinels of the Cáthedra Abyssum
Still, it was the Queen of Dhemlan's intention to see that seat filled by a Queen, as Night intended. In an attempt to flush out Queens she might not have had occasion to meet before now, Lady Araneina had commanded that all available Queens - those who ruled courts and those who did not - be invited (and strongly encouraged) to attend a spectacular gala wherein she would see the Queens of her people in action. Security protocol had been sent out in advance to give those Queens with difficult-to-handle males time to prepare and plan. Queens were permitted to bring whatever escorts allowed them to feel the safest, though the only Craft permitted on the grounds during the event was that which the escorts used to shield their Queens from potential harm. To enforce that edict, the Cáthedral's Sentinels were posted generously around the estate, swords near at hand, making use of the same spells and webs that allowed them to monitor the use of Craft in the markets. The Sentinels were skilled and practiced, having served to protect the safety of the Landen vendors in the market ever since the riots wherein they demanded to be allowed to sell their wares there. The webs used were infused with Black Widow Craft, and because the work of those webs were being fueled by a conglomeration of Jewels from all of the linked Sentinels present, even the darkest of Craft was likely to be detected. Any courtier caught calling upon his Craft for any purpose save shielding his Queen would be arrested and tried for treason, as though he'd made an attempt on the life of the Queen of Dhemlan herself.

It was going to be a delicate night, and the Territory Court had no desire to let there be any question about how serious they were about the safety of the event.

The Amdarh Palace had been chosen for the event because of its size. With the numerous gardens, courtyards, and multiple ballrooms, there would be a generous amount of space for the Queens with more prickly courtiers to space themselves out. The Queens were responsible for leashing their males, and any who seemed to be unable or unwilling to keep their people from picking fights would be ejected from the event with prejudice.

Grand hallways were opened up to the guests to move through the estate as they pleased (within certain portions of it, at least). Though there was to be no formal dinner served, refreshments were nonetheless available at will within the spacious dining hall which was open to all guests. Guests were free to linger in the parlor or the ballroom, as both rooms were presided over by a small arrangement of string instruments. The former, of course, was arranged with plentiful seating to facilitate casual discussions. The latter was left open those who preferred to dance while socializing. Alternatively, the palace's many gardens were open for use, as were the famous hedge walk and rose walk, both of which provided the illusion of privacy along with their pretty scenery.

The palace's staff was present in full force, and worked diligently to ensure that, despite the large number of guests who were to attend, no one went without a drink in their hand who wanted it. Lady Araneina and her closest courtiers remained in private quarters to begin with, though the grand entrance would undoubtedly occur before long. In the meantime, Dhemlan's Queens and her courtiers were all encouraged to socialize and make merry.

Offline Dahlia Octavian

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    • bo2green
    • bwq
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      Dhemlan, Kaeleer

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      Dash

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Re: The Gala of Queens
« Reply #1 on: Feb 23, 18, 01:26:33 PM »
Subtle, for a BWQ
Dahlia had, indeed, been preparing for this night since she'd first learned of its planning. She'd spun tangled webs and visions of the potential for tonight. She'd taken spools of webbing and worked for weeks on her dress. Though she would call the dress modest, the art she had put into the dress was not. There were spells to burn out any poison that would hit her bloodstream, shields upon her body and her mind, and an emergency beacon to her males. They would be inert throughout her time at the party, but in an emergency Dahlia could activate the webs with an infusion of her Green.

Paranoia was only paranoia when people weren't intent to kill you.

The betrayal of the Coven that had manipulated Dhemlan for decades was still fresh. Dahlia had outed herself as a conspirator and been spared death or the breaking of her Jewels. Some said that it was the influence of the Ebon Gray Warlord Prince who had done it. But Dahlia knew she'd survived by her own merits. Still, she had lost face and while she was in Teoda's Court that provided her income and status she didn't have a seat of her own.

She'd worked diligently with the Inquisition to weed out those who were still profiting from the corruption of Dhemlan. She also happened to be making certain to get her claws into anything that could be valuable to her, even if only in the long term. If she'd saved some targets of the Inquisition and ruined others who were the allies or servants of her rivals, so be it. Dahlia deserved to be a Ruling Queen and she was intent to do whatever she had to in order to get that seat.

She planned to convince Teoda tonight that she was the best candidate for the job.

Martel, her darling Warlord Prince brother, was her escort tonight. He had taken to carrying a traitor's beard tonight as a fashion statement; his opinion of their father having risen quite a bit since his help in the coup of the Coven. She found that ironic, but she kept her opinion to herself and instead just whispered to him that he was very, very handsome. Keeping one arm wrapped around his own, she mingled with those who would not flee her presence in the parlor. Her reputation as an inquisitor had started to sway some public opinion of her, and she made well to play into the role of loyal servant. Teoda wouldn't name someone plotting her downfall, after all.

Not that Dahlia would. She had time. Teoda could have a century or two before she went gunning for the Territory seat.

Offline Mari Calderon

  • Character Account
    • white2rose
    • queen
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      Ruler

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      Pirenza Province

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      Dhemlan, Kaeleer

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      [Link]

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      Gavin

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Re: The Gala of Queens
« Reply #2 on: Mar 01, 18, 06:57:13 PM »
Mari had known this night was coming for months, had prepared for it, and it still surprised her all the same. The Rose of Pirenza had spent the past year organizing the Province Court into an organization that ran like a well-oiled machine, hinged upon her desires. Amore’s poor care for the land and its people infuriated Mari once she saw how deep the corruption went. She’d spent months arranging meetings, meeting with important people in the Province and smoothing ruffled feathers. She’d assured the Headmaster of Salamanca, an old friend of hers, that Pirenza was now in stable and capable hands. She’d done the same with the head of the Naval Academy,  though it had been a challenge to keep her stomach calm with the sea so close.

But the night of the gala arrived and Mari was determined to put her best foot forward.

She’d asked for Nicanor to join her this evening, trusting in her Master of the Guard to watch her person if he did not enjoy her company. The rift between she and Nicanor had not widened or closed, and they remained on different wavelengths. She could not go back and undo the past and that moment, etched in grief, had done them deep damage. Mari had not found a way to regain his love or desire and worried, privately, that she never would.

Oddly, her relationship with Lorenzo had improved. Oh, she’d been wroth with him when she learned that he’d taken the position at the Territory Court after he’d offered her three-hundred years of service to her the night before and her garden had received some of the most expansive and deepest care she’d could grant to it. Amore had maintained her garden (if one could call it that), but Mari had listened to the land and given it the care and love that it needed. When the Spring finally arrived, the Queen believed that her palace would boast the most beautiful garden in all of Dhemlan, bar none. Better even than what Mitra managed in La Oratova, way back when.

La Oratova, the subject of the night.

Mari knew that she’d never receive the chance to rule La Oratova, not as long as Teoda sat the throne and remained gatekeeper over Mitra’s legacy. Now, though, she no longer needed the seat of Coreserrini Province to show her power. Instead of waiting to be handed what she deserved, Mari had reached out and taken it. That placed her above every other Queen in this building tonight. They were all here, preening and strutting, hoping to be called upon like the student who’d spent all night studying for the exam and now knew all the answers. Mari smiled to herself as she entered the ballroom, her black and gold dress accentuating her curves as she glided toward the dance floor. Xiomara was a visionary, but Mari was constantly impressed by her daughter's ability to have her finger on the cutting edge of Dhemlanese fashion.

She was glad to be out of the rat race for La Oratova, but she was deeply interested in the soul who managed to withstand Teoda’s scrutiny. The winner of that seat would become one of the most powerful women in Dhemlann after tonight and Mari wanted to know who her peer was. She expected that Elena Barbaro would do the same. Mari fully expected her to be here; rumor was that the woman had never met a party she didn’t want to attend.

A few Princes and Lords stopped by to congratulate her on her ascent and Mari accepted their compliments with grace while Nicanor watched the room at her side. She struck up conversation with a few others, using the night as a chance to network and get to know the people she’d be dealing with for the foreseeable future.

Teoda’s rule was barely older than Mari’s at this point, but Mari was patient. Dhemlan needed the best and most pious leader possible; Mari knew she was that leader. It did not matter that they couldn’t see it now. Eventually, they would.

She had all the time in the world to make her case. 

Offline Raziel Cavallero

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      First Escort

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      Dhemlan, Kaeleer

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      Lochlan

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Re: The Gala of Queens
« Reply #3 on: Mar 06, 18, 09:46:54 PM »
While Raz could have spent months preparing for the event like his lady who he arrived on the arm of with he decided to give in a little to the patriotism. He wore his military dress, decorated with the honors of his service and the cordials afforded him by his Captain-At-Sea rank. Not only that, but as much as Raz didn't want Estrellian ruling atop of an ant-hill, let alone a province, he eventually caved to the good idea in his head to show that her Court held people of esteem and reputation and while military dress was always an eye-catcher...having military dress decorated with medals, pins and other bling made it even more so. He would have worn his favorite bowler but it would have clashed with the colors and besides...a bowler on a military uniform? Not even a sombrero would be able to save that faux pas.

Yet he was here with a job to do and while the bones in his body told him to sit back, get a nice glass of bubbly wine and indulge in watching Estrellian get eaten alive by the snakes and spiders that would infest the gala the same feelings made him not do so. People would be clawing, jockeying and making deals all throughout the night. Promises of power and prestige to whomever would support them in getting the seat. It'd be a surprise if even with the Sentinels keeping watch there would at least be three deaths coming out of this gala. A betrayal, or a change of word at the last minute could strike the wrong heart at the wrong time. Boom. The end - and it would turn into a madhouse. He'd have to remain close to Estrellian or at least in arm's reach. He had cabinet'ed his sabres just in case circumstances demanded...more deadly negotiations.

My my, what delectable predators we have here tonight... Raziel smiled to himself at the sight walking in after being announced with his Queen. The Sentinels nearest him shifted their stance a bit in Raz's vicinity and his eyes slowly drifted to them; golden orbs shimmering with a dark yet rational humor. Focus, Raziel. He spoke to himself. Don't let yourself get carried away. He had only realized just then that what he saw, this whole room, was a dark splatter of ink on the beautiful canvas that was his homeland. The posh delights, the scenic draperies, halls and accents. The flowing gowns that costed a village and then some. Proof. PROOF! Right here in this room and Raziel could kill them all and be just fine with life. Yet his words echoed in his mind and truth won the day, that the violence would serve no one. They would be replaced with others who would do just as they did. More posh parties, more lucrative accents, even more stupidly overpriced dresses. There were no victors here. Just predators vulturing the corpse of a province seat.

They just did it more gracefully than others might.

La Orotova would be the talk of the night but Raz suspected there would be more happening at this gala than simply a Provincial Seat transfer. No one told him it was but it was a gut feeling, a sense in the air. Centuries of experience of gut instincts made him reserved but observant rather than turning into a party-horse. Besides, his amor needed a proper escort and he wouldn't dare seek to make her look a fool.





Offline Carmen Villendra

  • Character Account
    • ss2opal
    • priestess
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      High Priestess

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      Cáthedra Abyssum

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      Dhemlan, Kaeleer

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      phinneas

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    • Embrace eternity.

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Re: The Gala of Queens
« Reply #4 on: Mar 28, 18, 11:00:24 AM »
Carmen did not wander the party like so many of the guests did. No, she had already commandeered a corner of the dining hall, and sat ensconced by her dearest associates. She had chosen a particular red dress for the occasion, one laden with shimmering accents, a deeply-cut front and a seductively open back. After all, tonight was for being seen, and despite the fact that Carmen was not vying for any of the open thrones in Dhemlan, she had no intention of fading to the background while every Queen in Dhemlan pranced about on display.

She was pleased to find that the dress hadn't been entirely necessary. The good people of Dhemlan still made it a point to seek her out and greet her where she sat, paying respects to the Most Holy while she sampled the court's wine and observed the goings-on. Her smile did not leave her ruby-painted lips, not when she was wishing well to the faithful who stopped to see her, nor when she had a moment of peace in between conversations to lean over and whisper something to one of the men who escorted her that would make said man don a smile or a smirk.

"Reál, I wish to dance," she announced after a time, and she lifted her hand towards her most trusted escort. The Warlord Prince had been with her for years, through thick and thin, and had committed his life to ensuring her safety. There was genuine affection in the way he bowed and smiled while taking her hand, and he happily led her towards the ballroom where dancing was already underway. The string ensemble that played at one end of the room had the dancers sweeping about gracefully in a lively waltz, and Carmen and her escort slipped seamlessly into the flow of the dancers. She didn't bother looking for Jessenia; the witch had business to see to, just now.

Offline Agustin Reyes

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    • rose2bo
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      Master of the Guard

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      Pirenzia Province

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      Dhemlan, Kaeleer

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      Dash

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      13

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Re: The Gala of Queens
« Reply #5 on: Mar 29, 18, 03:43:56 PM »
Nicanor loved these sort of events. What else would a peacock of a Warlord Prince, dressed in fine silk, consider to be the apex of events for one such as he?

Mari was beautiful tonight. Even with all the chill between them that had fermented for years, he was still hers and he recognized his Lady was a wonderful Queen held back only by herself. One that he would happily kill or give his life for if it were ever called for it.

Becoming her friend again, well.. that was a harder sell.

Still, Lorenzo's return had improved his mood dramatically and having the younger Calderon man about the estate had greatly helped Nicanor's faith in his Queen. So he hovered near Mari, her hand both prisoner and guarded subject in his arm and he looked upon the seeking Queens and their attending males with a smirk of arrogant amusement. He spotted the High Priestess, Lady Villendra, and he wondered if Marisol would be here tonight.

The other half of his affectionate heart.

"Lady." The low rumble of Nicanor's voice was audible as he shifted his eyes over to her, that smirk shifting to something broader. "Will you dance with me?" He began to lead her toward the ballroom, seeking to give an outlet to the sudden energy that was burning within him. And if he was using it as a chance to show himself off, well, that'd serve his Queen just as much as it would himself.

Offline Marisol Calderon

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    • opal2red
    • priestess
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      Nuncio Delegation

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      Dhemlan, Kaeleer

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      phinneas

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Re: The Gala of Queens
« Reply #6 on: Mar 30, 18, 06:01:24 PM »
Marisol was indeed present. Technically claiming attachment to the High Priestess' retinue rather than the court of her mother (it was work, she would assure her mother, if pressed), Marisol was nonetheless on the other side of the room from Carmen. Marisol had the misfortune of choosing a red dress just as the Most Holy had. Because the High Priestess could do no wrong, if Marisol lingered near Carmen and challenged her for the most eye-catching gown, it would be seen as her faux paus, and not Lady Villendra's. Marisol didn't mind. It was a convenient excuse to distance herself from those with whom she normally would've socialized. Meeting new people meant making new contacts, and it was rarely a bad thing to establish new relations while dressed to the nines.

For the moment, Marisol strolled unhurriedly around the edge of the dance floor, nursing a glass of white wine and pausing now and then to greet the occasional acquaintance or friend. She noticed when Carmen took to the floor, and shortly after noticed when Nicanor led Mari to do the same. Even Marisol, who still had little use for the woman who'd recently taken the Pirenza throne, had to admit that Mari looked stunning tonight. She looked every bit the Queen, regal and confident and grateful.

Wouldn't get too comfortable quite yet, she thought to herself, while watching Mari and Nicanor dance. Of course, then it occurred to her to wonder if her beast of a brother was present, and she skimmed the faces around the room quickly, checking for his.


Offline Mari Calderon

  • Character Account
    • white2rose
    • queen
    • Role

      Ruler

    • Faction

      Pirenza Province

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      Dhemlan, Kaeleer

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      [Link]

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      Gavin

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    • Crown on my head, world on my shoulders.

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Re: The Gala of Queens
« Reply #7 on: Apr 20, 18, 11:55:39 PM »
Always, my Prince.” Mari said, when Nicanor asked her to dance. Mari loved galas like this, especially where ballroom dancing was involved. She’d spared no expense to make sure her children knew how to acquit themselves properly on any dance floor in either Realm. No matter their personal faults or foibles, Mari Calderon would never have it said that her children could not dance to any music set before them. Some people called it foolish or petty. Others believed her vain.

Mari did not worry about the opinions of uncultured swine.

She allowed her Touch to flow into Nicanor, taking this moment to focus upon his needs. She tended her males well, but there was something to be said for personal moments with each of them. Nicanor was a steady, cold presence in her mind, the one that     made her think through her moves before she made them. Acting in anger and haste was, unfortunately, an issue for Mari at times. Had she brought anyone else to this event tonight, she knew that she would have let Teoda get under her skin. But Nicanor was fury clothed in silk and his cool and steely demeanor was a bucket of ice water on her hot temper and anger.

Mari caught sight of Marisol. She needed to speak to her about the letter she’d sent to the High Priestess. She expected that Marisol would learn of it soon enough, but Mari wanted to speak to her directly and gauge her feelings on the idea. Something in Mari’s peripheral caught he attention and she adjusted her gaze to see Lorenzo making a bee-line toward his sister.

She almost asked Nicanor to stop so that she could intercept him. The night was young and a public spat between her (now) two eldest children would bring negative attention to the Calderon family. Mari resisted that urge, though. Lorenzo was a member of the Territory Court. Marisol was a Priestess of the Cathedra Abyssum, in good standing. One child held the Gray, the other wore the Red. They knew the rules of this night as well as anyone.

The Queen of Pirenza decided to let her children work out their issues for themselves.

Offline Lorenzo Calderon

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    • sapphire2gray
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      Second Circle

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      Territory Court

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      Dhemlan, Kaeleer

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      Gavin

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    • My hunger runs deep...

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Re: The Gala of Queens
« Reply #8 on: Apr 21, 18, 12:23:32 AM »
When Lorenzo received word that he was assigned to attend the gala, the second thing he did was ask Xiomara for a good suit.

The first thing he did was make love to her for over an hour before he asked.

For the first time in ages, he knew that his mother would be at a public even and he didn’t dread going. After all, Nicanor would be there and he’d be able to check his mother’s unkind impulses. She’d been sore about his assignment to the Second Circle of the Territory Cout. You deserve a high position. If Teoda doesn’t see that by the end of your contract, then that will be her loss. She also pointed out that serving a Queen that wasn’t Corazon was likely to be a deep insult that he would have to work hard to balm.

In the end, my son, I disagree with this choice. I do not like it. In fact, I hate it.” Mari had said.

But it is your choice, Lorenzo. In the end, only you can say whether or not it was worth it.

Stunned by his mother’s grudging acceptance, Lorenzo found himself visiting the Court more in order to keep the lines of communication open. He was further shocked when word reached him that Mari had seized the throne of Pirenza Province without bloodshed. He’d thought Mari was good friends with Amore de Medina and that she was content with Sitges District and her home in Vigo. The home where he was born and where he’d grown up. Well, mostly grown up.

Seeing the place now felt like his past not longer existed.

Lorenzo contemplated that as he watched his mother and Nicanor glide across the dance floor like two halves of the same whole. Mari was beautiful and Nicanor was a dashing man. Not for the first time, Lorenzo wondered if there was any possible way that Nicanor was his father. But if he was, why would Mari deny him paternity? Why would she keep it from him for all these years?

Why wouldn’t she just tell him about his father?

Lorenzo realized that his attention had wandered and found himself looking at Clarissa.

Wait, no. Not Clarissa.

He was headed in Marisol’s direction before he’d registered that she was the destination. By the time her gaze found him, he was a few feet away. He paused, adjusting the lapels of his dark suit and watching her. Their last meeting had nearly come to...what, exactly? They’d been at the Cathedra, politely discussing a luncheon that was never going to happen, so long as they didn’t trust each other. Clarissa had offered him her faith, but he felt constantly at odds with Marisol.

Perhaps it was time to make an effort. For Clarissa’s sake.

Good evening, sister mine. May I have this dance? I’d like to call a truce this evening, if possible.






Offline Marisol Calderon

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      phinneas

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Re: The Gala of Queens
« Reply #9 on: Apr 24, 18, 03:54:44 PM »
Marisol's attention was pointed elsewhere while Lorenzo was making up his mind to approach her. She was sipping her wine and taking count of which courtiers had arrived with which courts, and placing bets in her own mind about who might make it through the evening without causing a scene and who would undoubtedly be escorted out by the dark-clad Sentinels which seemed stationed at every wall and corner.

But she felt him coming, though she'd be unable to say whether some unconscious part of her mind had noticed him in the edge of her peripheral vision, or if some measure of his formidable power had resonated with her own, or if it was just some merciful facet of the Darkness warning her that danger drew near. Whatever the reason, Marisol turned her head and looked directly at Lorenzo when he was mere feet away from her. Even from a distance, he'd surely discern the way her bearing subtly stiffened from head to toe, as though being filled internally with stone at his approach. The faint pretense of warmth she'd donned for the sake of the public event bled away, and she held him with a perfectly neutral expression on her face until he spoke.

He asked for a dance. For a truce, for the evening. Behind her tightly masked face, behind the shields obscuring her psychic scent and temper, a mighty storm thrashed in response. Outwardly, she did nothing aside from turn her head and look away from him.

"A truce would require us to be at war. I assure you, if we were, you would not doubt it," she said, her tone clipped and cool. "Civility has been forced by the nature of this event, however, so if you would like to interpret that as a 'truce', then be my guest." She fixed a small smile back onto her lips, always cognizant of the potential for eyes to be on her and unwilling to seem too blatantly bothered by her brother's presence. It was a difficult sell, considering how cold her blood wanted to run simply because of his proximity. He was an untamed bull, a wrecking ball given human shape and released to run about amongst civilized people as though he belonged. The fact that he'd chosen here and now to approach was just proof to Marisol of how dangerous Lorenzo was. Tonight every slight flinch, every faint brush of aggression would be weighed and scrutinized, yet he'd thought it wise to approach the one woman who could be counted on for undiluted hostility every time he entered the room she was in. Had he misinterpreted her restraint at the temple in Alava? Had he mistaken her lack of bile there for some kind of forgiveness or acceptance? He was daft if so, she thought. It was simply a matter of practicality. She hadn't wanted to draw attention among the other Priestesses, especially not before she knew what reason was behind Lorenzo's visit with the High Priestess.

...a mystery she still had not solved, much to her vexation.

"I am certain I would regret taking any of your time away from one of your many paramours. Please, give my dance to them."

She took a sip of her wine, and let her eyes flick over the faces around them, quickly. She silently prayed that she'd see someone, anyone that she could claim a need to speak with as an excuse to pardon herself from Lorenzo's side.



Offline Klarika Campos

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    • white2te
    • queen
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      Ruling Queen

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      Cantabria District

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      Dhemlan, Kaeleer

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      Selene

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Re: The Gala of Queens
« Reply #10 on: May 18, 18, 12:00:50 PM »

Klarika wouldn’t even have missed the Gala if she had lost her other leg. Nothing would have prevented the Queen from receiving her just deserts. There were no better candidates than she, as she had been assured numerous times by members of her Court. Only a few had spoken against her odds. Yet, it was the dissenting voices that nagged at her as she exited the carriage. The thoughts their opinions had conjured in her mind were ones she would have prefered to ignore. Though once the ideas had been expressed aloud, the Queen couldn’t help but unravel the threads of her own self-assurance.

The Tiger Eye Queen gripped the arm of her Master of The Guard as they traveled up the walkway. Her face remained ever pleasant despite the roiling of her inner thoughts. Max looked down at her, but she stoutly avoided his gaze. She needed to be strong for everyone in her retinue. Now was not the time to show hesitation or weakness in front of the assembled Queens and their Courts.

Golden waves of fabric undulated in the soft breeze around the Queen. The dress complemented both her jewels and complexion. It certainly would be an addition to her permanent wardrobe, especially if events went well this evening. Klarika had a matching suit made for her brother. His protests had fallen on deaf ears. Prince Moreno was welcome to dress however he wished. Her Consort was straggling behind once again, she paused on the steps for him to hasten and take her arm. Dante gave a sharp sidelong glance to his Queen as he gripped her arm a touch too tightly. Kalrika felt a rebuke rise to her tongue, but chose instead to bite it back. The Province Throne needed to be the focus.

The Cantabria group entered the Gala to a dazzling display of colors and familiar faces. Bright smiles reflected everywhere the Queen turned, though many lacked authentic mirth. Some she suspected would have liked to see her carriage upside down in a ditch, with her crushed beneath it. The Queen gave smiles and appropriate greetings in return. As she moved through the crowd, she began to mentally list the members of other Courts she wished to speak with at some point in the evening. There were alliances to be made for her Court.