(121-12-11) Lord Ormund's Fete
Lord Ormund's Fete
Summary: Lord Ormund Hightower holds a feast to celebrate the end of the plague and rioting, a troupe of dwarves and a contortionist entertain Lord Ormund's guests, while Lord Ormund's relations, their retainers, and guests including the promising knight Ser Loryn Tyrell and the a royal party including Princess Visenya and Prince Dhraegon discuss the city's future.
Date: Date of play (12/11/2014)
Related: http://gobmush.wikidot.com/log:121-11-02-a-hightower-and-a-hero

Grand Dining Hall - The Hightower Battle Island

It is a summer evening. The weather is cool and overcast.

This enormous dining hall is made to feast hundreds. There are wide double doors in the back which lead to the kitchens and the servants quarters beyond.

The walls here are decorated with huge tapestries depicting the Hightower, the acts of famous members of the Hightower family, the house sigil, famous parts of Oldtown, and the wildlife and flora of The Reach. Large oil lamps light the room, some from wall sconces and others from several massive chandeliers.

There are five long tables, each long enough to serve any ordinary grand feast. Their legs are carved in the shape of the Hightower itself, with the flame at the top leafed in gold. While they are narrow enough to allow people to pass things across them, they are so long that fifty might sit at each side. The great Head Table where the Lord and his family sit near the head is a little wider and a little taller, and is inlaid with blue and white and grey stone along its top. Carved chairs to match surround the tables.

The first thing guests notice when entering the Grand Dining Hall of the Hightower beyond the lavishness of the Hall is a rather majestic stuffed swan with gilded leaves. A delicious scent rises up from the stuffing within. The table is decorated with majestic spun sugar confections in the shapes of various animals. Hightowers made from marzipan and gilded with silver leaf are present at the table.

At the middle of the table Ormund Hightower is seated in the position of host. Next to Ormund is Lynesse Hightower in the position that the lady of the house may occupy, strangely enough. The other Hightowers are spread out amongst their most distinguished guests. The feast is small enough that all of the nobility sits comfortably at the High table tonight.

The first course is served: Olives and dates from Dorne accompany a lovely trout cooked in lemon juice and cream. Chicken roast on a spit with a glaze of blood orange flavored honey. Carrots cooked with cloves. Some sort of green sautéed with mushrooms and slivered almonds. Fine white cheese and white finely milled bread. This is all washed down with a light Arbor Gold that is undeniably a fine vintage.

Each dish is brought to Ormund first to meet his approval before it is served to the guests.

Ormund approves the dishes as they are presented. His young son sits beside him, on the opposite side as Lynesse. He fidgets.

Among the Hightowers seated around the table are Prince Rhaegor and Princess Visenya, the former only recently arrived in Oldtown as part of a royal envoy dispatched by the Crown. He has haunted the Hightower since his arrival, graciously partaking of the family's hospitality while he conducts his business on behalf of the King.

The Targaryens are dressed, in complimentary fashion, in the colors of their house. Rhaegor wears a pleasant, but neutral, expression, only indulging in the Arbor Gold that fills his cup once the Lord of Oldtown has done the same.

At one of the seats at the head table, between Hightowers and Targaryens, is a face that has not been a steady presence in these grand walls for some years. Lady Marsei Hightower sits at her place same way she arrived home barely a night past; quietly, without fuss. She's been as a very gentle ghost politely haunting the Hightower in her own way. Most inhabitants, and some guests, have heard by now of her Fossoway husband's abrupt passing, though she hasn't spoken a word of it from her own mouth. The gown she wears is dark in mourning, but still beautiful — the same could be said of Lady Marsei herself, who is exquisitely put-together in all arenas but pink-rimmed around the eyes and with a slightly faraway look. Perhaps that's why she's so quiet: she wouldn't want to put a damper on the wonderful feast with her mourning and her husband's poor timing. She's been notably politely declining the Arbor wine.

As the dishes are presented, Lynesse watches attentively to be sure they pass his muster, smiling prettily when at last the food might be served to the rest of the table. She seizes the opportunity, before the assemblage all lapses into their own coversations over the meal, to lift her cup and address everyone. "Honored guests. Before we indulge in this bounty, I would like very much to say that it is our pleasure to play host to you all once more. Rather than dwell on what we have lost in recent moons, I hope we might, tonight at least, enjoy each other's company and turn our minds to what is yet to come. To Oldtown, and to its master, who presides over us with the same affection and care and guidance as the Father himself, Lord Ormund." Her toast concluded, she takes a quick sip of the wine, her cheeks flushed for having commanded everyone's attention.

Ormund lifts his glass when Lynesse does, but looks mildly surprised when the toast appears to be to himself. He sets it down. Lionel moves to copy, but Lord Ormund gives him a nudge and the boy toasts with the rest of the party.

Every party has its latecomers. Valora Hightower arrives fashionably late sliding into her seat at the high table just as the first course is served. The younger sister of Ormund and Marsei looks surprisingly elegant having managed to find a gown that is both daring and somewhat appropriate as well. She immediately accepts a glass of the arbor wine taking a long sip of it. She eyes Ormund a moment as if trying to make sure she isn't going to get in trouble for being late. When the toast is given she raises her glass, no one ever accused Valora of not taking every opportunity to drink. She glances down the table idly looking rather bored in truth. Marsei is spotted a few seats down and she gives her big sister a warm smile and lifts her glass in a salute taking another sip and glancing towards the guests with a hint of curiosity.

On the other side of young Lionel is the other Hightower twin. It seems unusual that the twins are apart from one another, but Lynette seems as jovial as ever. She raises her glass in toast to Ormund, and drinks gladly to her cousin.

Ser Edmund Lonmouth sits some distance removed from Lord Ormund and his relations. Despite his recent role during the plague, he is naught but the fourth son of a fourth son. The Knight of Sculls and Kisses eats of every dish, albeit sparingly and drinks heavily. However, Edmund never seems to become drunk. Ned takes his measure of all the guests, particularly those new arrivals, the Lady Marsei, erstwhile Lady of Cider Hall, and the Prince, Rhaegor, a knight of growing renown, by all accounts. On Lady Valora's arrival, Ned Lonmouth stares for a time, then turns to the man at his left, another Lordling's younger son, and smiles at a muttered jest.

Ormund says, gravely, and with enough projection to his voice to reach the end of the great long table, and those beyond it: "Thank you. You honour me. We have struggled, suffered, and ultimately, in our small way, triumphed in these last weeks. It is good to see you all here, and strong. It is equally welcome to find that we can once again celebrate, and welcome the abundance of the countryside into our city. Oldtown will recover, and this we celebrate."

Visenya wraps her delicate, long fingered hands around the stem of her goblet, and raises it in toast to the Lord of Hightower. Well-known in the Reach because she is so loved by smallfolk maidens, the Princess Visenya's presence is obvious without being obtrusive. She waits until Ormund and the other Hightowers begin sampling the dishes before nibbling daintily at an olive. She leans over ever so slightly to murmur into her accompanying Prince's ear.

Beside Lynesse, a slender arm lifts. Marsei raises her cup — it may not be wine, but it is fine for raising. She becomes a bit aglow in light of the speech, and no amount of mourning can dampen her genuine smile for her cousin and the honoured Ormund, in turn. She drinks to that. "I have not yet had time to commend you myself on seeing the city through hard times, good brother," she says, a quieter voice not meant to address everyone in the hall. Always more than airs with Marsei; she means it. As she sets her cup down, she catches sight of Valora and offers a silent greeting back. There's a subtle gratefulness in her nod.

Ormund nods to Marsei, and replies at the same volume, "You do so now. An honour, my sister." The little boy Lionel grins at her.

As Ormund appends her toast with one of his own, Lynesse lifts her cup again, taking another dainty sip of the Arbor Gold at his conclusion. She touches his arm, briefly, in a demonstration of gratitude and solidarity, inspired not only by the poignancy of his words, but also the genuine sentiment expressed thereafter by his sister. To Marsei, she murmurs, "I'm ever so pleased to see you, cousin, even though my heart aches with yours for the circumstances that have brought you back to us."

While the diners consume what is before them a small band of young men carrying flutes, hand harps, and drums step out from a side passage and begin playing in an unobtrusive manner. The singer's voice is sweet and high yet unmistaken masculine. In a way, it matches the wine they sip on.

Ormund settles down, nodding around the high table and to those further back, then begins to eat. Lionel takes his lead, digging in with the eagerness of youth. His father is more restrained, dignified. He pauses to smile at Lynesse.

Rhaegor sponsors the toast with a lift of his cup and a healthy drink of the wine, following suit with his cousin and turning his attention to the fare only once the high table has done the same. The flurry of Valora's late arrival distracts him, momentarily, from the feast, and his pale violet stare tracks her as she breezes by him and into her seat alongside her kin. When her gaze happens to meet his own, he offers her a polite inclination of his head.

Marsei's fond smile moves right from Ormund to little Lionel, and she leans a polite distance over the table as if to tell the boy a secret, but only gives him a vivid expression of delight and maneuvers a spun sugar horse closer to him. Her expression melts gently, not unlike liquid sugar, as Lynesse speaks to her, but her smile remains. It's only subdued by memory. The memory is never far off even without the reminder. She lays a hand on her cousin's forearm. "A sentiment I share. It's a joy to see you, and you," and therefore also Lynette, "look lovely. What luck that you've chosen a seat so close." There's nothing pointed about the way Marsei looks at Lynesse, and yet…

The dishes from the first course are cleared, and the second course is served. Meat pies of various flavors accompanied by mashed buttered neeps. Buttered pease. Onions roasted in beef juices until they are caramelized. Gravy made from the beef juices the onions roasted in. A fine salad of beets, green beans, and onions dressed with olive oil from Dorne and red wine vinegar from the Arbor. Bread rolls in elaborate knots with a crisp glossy exterior and an eggy moist texture on the inside.

Valora notes the Lonmouth staring at her and then going to whisper to the man next to him. She gives them both a rather dazzling smile clearly unbothered by the attention. In fact she seems to revel in it. She looks away her gaze meeting that of Rhaegor briefly as he too looks her way. She dips her head in a polite fashion that is marred only by the playful smile on her lips as she lifts her glass once more. There is only a little bit of food on her plate and she eats sparingly seeming to prefer the wine to actual food.

A more substantial red wine is served with this course to accompany the heavy flavors of meat within the pies. It has an earthiness to it that suggests it is a river wine from the Riverlands.

Lynesse flushes, her freckled cheeks briefly matching the red of her hair. Her long locks have been wound prettily into a braid and woven through with ribbons to match her samite gown. But it's not the remark on her attire that inspires her blush, and the twin lapses into silence as the first course is refreshed with the second, setting immediately to picking over the contents of her plate.

Ormund eats rather carefully, taking small amounts of each thing. Enough to show he likes it, not enough to prevent him wanting the next course. It wouldn't do for him to stop eating before everyone's had their fill and is properly drunk. He says, "My prince!" probably to Rhaegor. "How is the city treating you?"

As the first course is cleared, Ned Lonmouth calls for more wine. He drains one goblet and fills his cup, again, then rises, walking to down the length of the table, nimble as as a tumbler. Ned looks to Lynesse, then to her sister, Lynette, or perchance to Lynesse and thence to Lynette, a slight nod to each of the Hightowers twins, then he halts within earshot of Lord Ormund, but does not speak. Rather, he waits, listening to Lord Ormund and Prince Rhaegor converse.

Marsei does so love food and extravagant feasts, and sets forth to trying everything from the second course. Even the act of eating is an ever elegant affair in the way the lady holds herself and every utensil, yet, somehow, she manages to steal away quite a bit of food — in fact, she does so with a rather singular dedication. Mourning has not upset her appetite; rather the opposite. "Lynette," she extends to the other twin; it's so very odd, not seeing double every time she looks in one of their directions. "Tell me, how do you fare?" She's momentarily distracted by Edmund, simply noticing his proximity to Ormund, and offers him one of her kind smiles.

The small band of entertainers slink away as unobtrusively as they arrived. That is, until the last one blows his horn in a rather official manner. The great doors to the hall are thrown open, and two dwarves in armor on dogs in the armament of war horses ride in side-by-side. They carry miniature versions of the tourney lance. The two dwarf-knights, one dressed in white and the other black (a likely attempt to avoid insulting any guests present) salute Ormund at the head of the table.

Lynette is quiet tonight. She often seems a quiet girl. Or perhaps that is Lynesse? Still, she bows her head to Edmund as he passes, paying the man as much attention as he is due, before she turns her attention to Lady Marsei. "I am well, thank you for asking." She gives her cousin a sympathetic half-smile, "I'm so very sorry I…" The doors booming open distract her. She blinks. "Are those….dwarves on dogs?"

A pleased little laugh rings out from the Targaryen section, accompanied by a clapping of the hands. Princess Visenya is totally into dwarves jousting on dogs.

Ormund lifts his eyebrows, and raises his glass to the dwarves. He doesn't seem into it, though, and turns his attention to Lonmouth.

Rhaegor is a practiced veteran when it comes to feasts, for one does not survive the court at King's Landing without learning how to survive them. When Ormund addresses him, he sets down his cup of wine and turns his attention to the high table. "She has been very kind to me, my lord," Rhaegor assures Ormund. "I shall enjoy making her acquaintance." He speaks of Oldtown like it were a living, breathing thing.

Valora is eating slowly and drinking heavily. Her eyes sweep the table a brow raising as the Lonmouth approaches her brother. She watches him go with a curious and slightly appraising gaze and then she looks to the doors a delighted grin spreading across her lips at the sight of the armored dwarves and their armored dogs. She takes another long sip of her wine continuing to watch.

Lady Marsei is unbothered by the distraction that's taken Lynette; she lets her attention drift to the spectacle on the pretend warhorses. It's an unusual sight, but not so much that she's surprised. After all, she's survived King's Landing feasts as well. The expression on her soft features settles into hesitant amusement. "Y… es?" she wagers delicately. She's not certain how long she'll be able to bare this joust once it begins, but for now it serves.

At her twin's question, or maybe it's the sound of the horn, Lynesse looks toward the end of the hall at the motley pair who make their mounted entrance. She eyes little Lionel, who enjoys the spectacle with childlike wonder, and asks him, "Who shall we cheer for? Black or white?"

"Black!" the little boy declares, eagerly. Ormund glances at him fondly, and chuckles.

Ned nods to Marsei, then turns as a servant walks past and refills his goblet. When Ormund turns to him, he looks to the Lord of Oldtown. "My Lord of Hightower, I wonder if perhaps I might speak with you on the morrow? It is a matter of some import. Though…" Here, Ned looks down the length of the table. "I suppose all of the maids and matrons of Hightower are made of stern stuff. Bones, my Lord. When we last spoke I instructed my men and officers to burn the ded, but the pits overflowing with bones. You see it is rather difficult to heat a pyre sufficiently hot to burn away human bones. We could fill in the pits, but I suspect the High Septon will be incensed."

Lynesse smiles, both at the boy and at his father, and then praises, "Excellent choice. Black it shall be." She samples the freshly poured red wine, and a little of the contents of her plate, halting when Lonmouth broaches the particular subject matter he does. Perhaps she's lost her appetite.

"Ah," says Ormund. "I suspect that we will have to fill it in, regardless of his feelings. After all, we cannot properly separate which bones belong to whom." He shakes his head, "Yes, we will speak of it on the morrow. For now, put such grim thoughts aside and enjoy yourself."

The dwarf Knights salute the table again with their miniature tourney lances. Then they ride off in opposite directions to perform their joust.

"For Honor!" The White Knight declares.

"For Victory!" Responds the Black Knight.

A rather triumphant noise is played on a kazoo. The two Knights salute, and spur their faithful mounts forward.

Little Lionel cheers for the black knight, his voice high and happy.

Those grim thoughts have caused a ripple of tension in Lady Marsei, interrupting her attention on the jousting performers' rambunctious start. It's a subtle thing; the scant stiffening of her shoulders, the gooseflesh on her bare arms, distance in her eyes. She plucks her cup from the table, only to remember she declined to fill it. Only Lionel's joy pulls her back to the present.

Both knights aim their lances with a seriousness and intent that rivals that of full-sized knights. The Black Knight gains a strike on the White Knight, but his lance does not break.

Both Knights drop their lances, and turn for a second run. This time the White Knight has the edge on the Black Knight. He rather unchivalrously aims his lance at his foe's head. The tip of the lance catches a groove in the helmet, and luckily for the Black Knight, sends his helmet flying.

The two Knights take up new lances again. The White Knight throws his helmet off with a snarl, revealing the black skin of a Summer Islander. Lances in place the two foes rush forward to meet for a final time.

The very young Lord Hightower laughs and laughs.

CRACK. The Black Knight's lance explodes on the breastplate of the White Knight! The White Knight is thrown from the saddle of his faithful doggy, and does a rather dramatic tumble.

The dramatics of the "knights" catch Marsei again, just when it seems like she's given up on them. She actually seems fascinated by the way they move, the way the White Knight tumbles. Is it all choreographed, she wonders, it must be; the wonder only gleams faintly in her eyes, going unasked. She wouldn't want to spoil it for little Lionel!

Lynesse joins Lionel in clapping when the black knight unhorses the white. His enthusiasm seems to have proven infectious; she smiles delightedly, sharing in his enjoyment of it all.

Ormund doesn't seem so amused by the 'knights,' but he does take obvious pleasure in his son's amusement.

"My Lord." Ned dips his head to Ormund "On the morrow, then." Ned turns to his chair somewhat removed from the Hightowers. He watches as the Dwarves meet and collide, but remains very nearly impassive as the farce plays out. On occasion, he chuckles or regards one rider, or another, with a sardonic smile. When, at least, the Black Knight unhorses the white, Ned tosses a Gold Dragon to the Champion and a Silver Moon to the Vanquished Dwarf.

Valora watches the mock joust with interest and claps eagerly for the winner. Her gaze goes back down the table as she takes another drink of wine. She is starting to get drunk her cheeks flushed lightly now. Those eyes come to rest on the Targaryen's specifically Rhaegor who she studies with interest a small and some would say impish smile upon her lips.

The dwarf Knights salute the table, this time dismounted from their dogs, and set about quickly gathering up their lances before leading the doggies outside.

Ormund nods to Edmund, "Ser," he says. He's still smiling, from Lionel's infectious laughter.

Though Visenya seems delighted by the dwarves, Rhaegor does not particularly participate in the spectatorship of the sport, beyond the occasional polite glance in the riders' direction. He seems instead to favor conversation, be it with his cousin or the guest seated at his other side.

The third course is of stuffed things. There is a goose stuffed with chestnuts. A long pike stuffed with crab meat. Mushrooms stuffed with sausage. A side of beef rather expertly rolled around a mixture of pine nuts and cheese. Crabs stuffed with oysters and other lower form sea life. Another light wine, this one from Lys in exotic Essos, is served with the course of stuffed things.

Perhaps as a homage to this course the next entertainer is a contortionist. She walks backwards and bends herself into unbelievable poses before contorting herself so she may fit into a very small crate.

"My Prince?" Visenya asks in a soft, concerned voice. While she was enthusiastic about the dwarf knights her fellow Targaryen's dour mood has dampened her own. She flinches slightly as a rather rotund Hightower retainer coughs into his hands, and her nose wrinkles delicately before she looks back to Rhaegor. A hand is lightly placed on his wrist, and she says in a soft voice so as not to be overheard, "You do not seem yourself."

So transfixed is Marsei on the contortionist that the widow pauses her feasting to stare in wonder. It's nearly a childlike wonder that gleams in the lady's light eyes, paired with an intellect that's forever trying to figure out just how the flexible woman is managing to angle herself into the crate in such a manner.

Rhaegor looks to the hand laid on his wrist, and then to the expression of concern on his cousin's face. "On the contrary. Our gracious hosts have treated us to fine wine, delicious fare and congenial conversation. What more might one want for than that?" Though he is sparing with his smiles, he treats Visenya to one now, if only to reassure her, before his eye is caught (how not?) by the contortionist.

Ormund watches the contortionst for a moment, and then looks at Lynesse.

The fourth course is the majestic swan decorating the table itself. It is disassembled with pomp and ceremony. The stuffing is served on the side, and is dressed with a gravy flavored with rosemary and other herbs. Lightly dressed salads of herbs are served after the swan; a sign that the feast is switching from the sweet to the savory. Guests may nibble at sweets and cheeses as they please, drink various fine wines, and mingle.

Lynesse samples the wine between glances at the contortionist, the pretty flush she seems to so often wear returning to her cheeks as she meets Ormund's eye. She leans toward him, briefly, to make some quiet comment.

Ormund replies to Lynesse with a smile.

Lynette stands from the table to take up another goblet of wine when they are dismissed from the formal dinner, and approaches the sweets table to sample the various bite-sized marzipan fruits.

Ormund breaks into amused laughter at something Lynesse says to him.

Lynesse smiles, demurely, at her cousin, though her gaze sparkles with untold merriment as she sips at her wine.

Loryn Tyrell has been sitting with a couple of people through the main dinner, chatting mostly about the tournament, knighthood and the upcoming play at the Whimsy. But he's totally been present.

Marsei sips modestly from her cup; this time, it is wine, a flavour so distanced from that which her husband was drinking before his recent death that her palate accepts it as reasonable. The mind works in mysterious ways, doesn't it? Still casting mesmerized looks wherever the contortionist squeezed off to, she stands and walks amongst those who coalesce beside various delicacies. It is an automatic response — greet guests of the Hightower, exchange pleasantries, and, here and there, the less familiar pause to accept condolences … in all, the sweet Hightower is nothing but kind. She ends up winding back to the sweets table, beside Lynette. As she selects a choice treat from the array, she guides a pleasantly questioning gaze from one twin to the other, at her brother's side.

Rhaegor Targaryen seizes an opportunity to address the Tyrell knight, when Loryn's conversation stalls and there is a chance for him to broach dialogue with the young man. "Ser Loryn. I am told that you have recently been conferred the honor of knighthood. I regret that I missed your tournament."

Ormund transfers a choice bit of pike and crab to Lynesse's plate. Lionel doesn't notice, he's still staring, eyes wide, at the entertainment.

"Lord Loryn." Visenya greets the young Tyrell knight with a light but pleasant smile just as her cousin's attention turns to him. She swirls the golden wine in her glass as her smile turns wry, "I hear you are to duel my brother."

Loryn smiles at the Targaryen and nods. "Thank you, Ser. Yes… I'm sorry you missed it… but welcome to Oldtown…" Before he can say more, another Targ is upon him and his smiles warms a little. "Ah, Lady Visenya! Yes, indeed… your brother was most vexed about the rumours that he dodged the tournament on purpose, so we shall meet in a special contest soon. How is your dragon?", he asks curiously. Hopefully she is without egg at the moment.

Ormund smiles to Lynesse and replies, "Very suitable to the occasion, my lady. Well done."

"You must try these orange scented almond biscuits." Lynette says without sparing a glance at first at Marsei. She picks up a sweet between two fingers and nibbles on it before her gaze goes to the high table where Lynesse and Ormund remain, and back to Marsei, "I suppose," She says, quietly and with a bit of sadness to her voice, "I have lost my shadow."

Rising from his place Ned approaches steps, once more, to the table where Ormund, Lynesse, and Lynette sit with Marsei. He inclines his head toward Lynette and blinks. "Wherever has your sister gotten off too?" Then, when Visenya speaks to Loryn, Ned turns and regards both the Princess and the Young Rose with a veiled expression. "I had heard as much. It seems the blood of knights runs hot in Oldtown. A Trial of Seven and two duels within this past year. Between duels and plagues the widows will soon outnumber the matrons."

"To Ormund?" Marsei queries — both curious and casual — while seeking out an orange-scented almond biscuit right away. It's tested and soon vanishes from sight. "These are lovely, aren't they!" She turns a smile on Lynette that's meant to be reassuring, but can't quite fill the whole sentiment. "I don't think a shadow so easily lost." Her gaze turns questioning on the way to Lynesse.

Dhraegon arrives very late in a fashionable outfit with slashed sleeves and all the colours of flame. Flox, a small nondescript middle aged man is at his elbow, steering him along with a very firm and unamused expression. The Prince is looking sheepish and possibly tipsy, but is at least not carrying his new doll.

"To life." Lynette says, her voice cracking slightly. When Ned asks where her sister is she lets out a little whimper, and shoves more of those very excellent orange scented biscuits in her mouth. Soon, they will be distinguishable by the extra junk in Lynette's trunk. She chews, swallows, and washes it all done with a copious amount of wine. "We knew this would eventually come, I suppose."

Even in the midst of her tete-a-tete with Lord Ormund, Lynesse senses the gaze of her twin, and turns to meet it with a smile. She lays a hand on Ormund's forearm as she resumes her lean in his direction, taking a sip of the cup of wine in her other hand.

"There is a distinct lack of young men to entertain oneself with." Visenya says to Edmund with a pretty little smile. She looks back to Loryn, and her face reads relief, "Ah, so it is to be a friendly contest, then? I was afraid you and he had come to bad terms."

Ormund smiles, has a bite of one of the new dishes that's been presented, and murmurs to Lynesse.

"No, no, my lady… it is friendly rivalry.", Loryn assures Visenya. At least he HOPES it is. "A way for young knights to show their many prodigious skills to the entertainment of all.", he adds.

A subtly pained look crosses Lady Marsei's fair face, separate from those that have come and gone since the beginning of the feast; it's not sadness for herself she feels, but for her cousin, in empathy. "I'm sure she loves you as ever," she tells Lynette with a brief touch to her arm in kindness, hoping she does not sound too placating. A change in the crowd alerts her to the arrival of another Targaryen and she looks quickly to Dhraegon, but her black-gowned back is soon to him. Her usually undying energy for meeting and greeting is fleeting this eve.

Ormund laughs, continuing his quiet conversation.

Dhraegon looks about with wide alarmed eyes as Flox gently urges him forwards to greet his hosts. In his bass voice he exclaims, "What a lot of people!" Flox nudges him hard in the ribs; the Prince chants his memorized greeting as a child might, "Thank you for invioting me Lord Ormund and Lady…" Flox whispers, "Lynette." "Lynette. It was most kind." In a more normal tone while peering aprehensively about, "Is… is Lady Adalais here?"

Lynesse smiles serenely when Ormund laughs, tilting her head to tell him something more, and then returning to her cup of wine.

Ormund chuckles to Lynesse and says, "There's no rule that says you cannot help." Then he looks to Dhraegon, nods, and says, "Ahh, Prince Dhraegon. Do join us. Eat, drink, celebrate."

Ned turns to Lynette, no, Lynesse, perhaps, and stares for a time as she exchanges words with Lord Ormund. Since Millicent's death, one or another of the girls has had the Lord's ear. He watches until he is addressed by Princess Visenya. "Princess, yes, quite." Ned's eyes run down the length of the table. There are a great many widows and maids with broken betrothal contracts. Then, a youth in a purple cloak approaches and whispers something to Ned. The Knight of Skulls and Kisses regards the boy with a dour look then turns to Visenya. "Forgive me Princess, but there is a matter I must attend to. We've defeated the contagion and yet we still find bodies across the city." Turning to the door, Ned swiftly departs.

"That is reassuring to hear." Visenya says to Loryn with a thin little smile. She places a hand on her chest, and lets out the subtlest of sighs before leaning over to say softly to Rhaegor, "I think I have need of some air." She fans herself lightly, as if to illustrate how stuffy she finds it in the Hall.

Loryn smiles and offers a bow to Visenya, a nod to Rhaegor, then drifts away again to stuff himself with sweets and talk to someone else.

Rhaegor proves an obliging escort, indulging his cousin's soft and subtle hint. He politely excuses himself to their companions in conversation, and then rises to chaperone Princess Visenya's foray from the hall.

"Oh, lady Marsei." Lynette frets. She lays a light hand on her cousin's forearm. "How selfish of me. I ought not be so morose when…" She doesn't finish that grim thought. Instead, she picks up a pitcher of wine, and refills Marsei's glass. "I'm sure you're right."

Dhraegon's eyes discover the array of things to drink and things that are sweet and he finds his enthusiasm again. Flox whispers to Lord Ormund, but not so quietly a keen ear might not catch it. "Our apologies, My Lord. It took to guards to drag him from under his bed. Dhraegon snakes out a greedy hand for a goblet. he does remember his manners to inquire about Marsei, "Is this one of your kinswomen? The others I remember from the Lighting Ceremony."

Lynette goes out into the receiving hall.

Loryn goes out into the receiving hall.

Lynette enters from the receiving hall.

Visenya goes out into the receiving hall.

Ormund nods to Flox. He looks at Dhraegon thoughtfully.

"We all have our own afflictions," Marsei replies with a thin, sad, yet somehow still reassuring smile. She squeezes Lynette's arm reaffirmingly and drinks gladly of the wine as a thank-you. "The thorn in one person's side cuts no deeper than that in the other." Emotional philosophy over, she replenishes her sweets to match her drink. An indulgence for each hand. "Do you think," she changes the subject — clear by the more upbeat tone; it's cheerful, particularly in contrast to her mournful attire. "anyone would notice if we snuck off with the lot of these biscuits?"

Ormund gives his young son a nudge with his elbow, and whispers to him, then looks around for the boy's septa.

Lynesse collects a plate of sweet things from the various trays and displays, laying it down on the table between herself and Ormund, that they might both indulge. The first thing she reaches for? Why, the exact sort of cookie Lynette had earlier recommended to Marsei.

Lynette's expression brightens slightly. "All of them? That's silly. We'll get fat, and the only men who want fat wives are the ones who get a dowry with their weight in silver." She lets out a little giggle at what she considers a witty thing, and nibbles on another cookie.

Dhraegon tries one of the cookies, "That is odd. Do not gowns come in different shapes? I have seen ones with the stiff things about the middle." As if this connects oin some way to talk of the desirability of fat wives.

Lionel Hightower grabs a handful of the cookies before trotting off with his Septa. Bedtime. Or at least, time to escape the presence of increasingly drunken adults? For his part, Ormund only smiles. No cookies for him. He's been careful, to have a few bites of everything. And that is more than enough to fill him.

Lynesse offers the boychild a wave as he leaves in the care of his septa. And then something the father whispers at her ear sets her to blushing once more. She busies herself with demolishing (daintily, of course) what's left of her cookie.

Ormund settles back in his chair and looks at the group nearest him, seeming satisfied somehow. "Ah. My sister, did you say you wanted to steal all the sweets?"

Marsei's lips thin, and it may be difficult to ascertain whether she's trying to suppress a smile or a frown or preventing one from turning into the other after Lynette's witty comments. Perhaps it's too soon for her to joke about marriage — but then she manages a smile. It wavers when she's ever-so-slightly startled by Dhraegon, but then extends merrily to him as well, warm as can be, though she doesn't recognize the man. She narrows her eyes upon the desserts. She waves a hand about the grand hall. "Can we not afford our weight in silver?" Whether or not that is reasonable, it's an excuse to take another biscuit, and spoken just before she notices Ormund is paying attention. " — you've caught me in the act, dear brother!"

Dhraegon snatches two more to shove in his mouth least the Ladies snatch them all away, washing them down with plenty of wine. He sees Marsei's smile and gives her a big goofy smile in return. "I'm Prince Dhraegon Targaryen. You may call me Uncle! I like cakes, but biscuits are nice too."

Ormund laughs. "Ah," he says. "But who would stop you, in our own home." He nots when Dhraegon speaks. "Indeed. Prince Dhraegon, my sister, the Lady Marsei."

"U— umm," Marsei fumbles for only a moment when she's caught off-guard by Dhraegon's moniker of choice — and Dhraegon in general, truth be told — but even that is as well-mannered as a fumble can be, soft-spoken and followed by an apologetic nod and another of those kind smiles. She curtseys to the best of a lady's abilities with her hands full. "It's lovely to meet you, Prince Dhraegon. I shall call you prince — unless you insist." She neatly bites the biscuit she has in hand, and quickly swallows before pointing around the dessert at Ormund. " IfI eat it all, there would be none left for the likes of princes, and then what manner of host am I?" she asks in jest.

Lynesse watches the exchange from Ormund's side, and she quips back at Marsei, "Why, the sort who promotes her own hospitality by partaking of it herself." Her wine cup seems to have run empty, but when a servant offers to see it refilled, she lifts a polite hand and demurs.

Ormund laughs. "You both have excellent points," he says.

Dhraegon gives Lady Marsei another friendly, childlike smile, quietly repeating her name four or five times. He says like a child parroting a memorized phrase, "It is nice to meet you Lady Marsei." He looks a bit sad at her rejecting the uncle, but there is wine and Flox is not stopping him drinking it and there are biscuits, so soon he his happy enough again, chattering at his new aquaintence as if she were an old friend, "They wouldn't let me wear my costume like last time. I was a big Cock for Festival." He crows loudly in illustration. "You should have seen the lighting. Keli and her young friend Bryn were Queen and King and Ormund here was wonderful and the fire was very pretty. There were jiggle bells and everything!" He giggles happily, then lowers his voice, "You could divide them up so we can have shares. The desserts, I mean. That way you won't have to worry."

"If I am so hospitable," and she is, honestly, "I should have instructed the kitchen to hand out cider in the biggest mugs we have. I've enough barrels to quench an army's thirst, sent from the Fossoways." Marsei seems to rethink that after she's spoken, and suddenly seems a bit out of sorts, uncomfortable in her own shoes, and is all in all rather glad for Dhraegon in that moment. She stares at him — in some surprise at his nature (and his big Cock, so to speak), but she does not gape rudely. Rather, she tries to pay close attention to every single thing he's saying and make sense of it. "I was sorry to miss the festival. I'm sure it was a wonder! I would not mind sharing, I suppose," she allows, "since we do have so very much."

Ormund turns to whisper to Lynesse, "A wise idea."

Lynesse rises from her seat, smoothing out her skirts, and announces to the rest of their kin what she has just, no doubt, announced to Ormund himself. "I shall retire, with spirits high from such a pleasant evening spent in good company." She murmurs something to the Lord of Oldtown before parting from his side to offer her direct farewells to her twin and to Marsei.

Ormund looks after Lynesse and nods. "Good night, My Lady cousin." He too, starts to rise.

Dhraegon reaches a large hand across to gently pat Marsei's smaller one gently. His own palm is like a toddler's, so absolutely free of callous or scar. Wide pale lavender eyes peer at her, though it is unclear if he understands what clouded her sky when she spoke of cider. He withdraw's the hand and looks about, "Perhaps some jam cakes would cheer you up? They always do me. They remind me of tea with the old King in the garden." His own sky metaphorically clouds, "I still miss him. He was very nice and didn't yell and understood the importance of a really good jam." He takes a drink, banishing the thought, "what food makes you feel safe as a pillow fort? Sharing is good, especially with sweet things. Have you any dolls? I never had one before. Isn't that strange? They have lots of them for sale and some look like Princesses." He blinks in surprise at the escaping twin. He remembers his manners. "It is nice to have seen you again."

"I am afraid I must take my leave," says Ormund, "But I am sure neither kitchen nor cellars are empty. Do enjoy yourselves. For me, an early morrow."

Marsei bids goodnight to Lynesse with a murmured promise to speak again soon. The touch from Dhraegon is not unexpected — she's quite alert when she's paying attention — but it startles her ever-so-slightly all the same. Still, no will will lingers from the well-meant gesture. "Not since I was a child," she answers on the matter of dolls. "And I … haven't considered, until now, what food makes me feel safe as a pillowfort. I'm not certain I know the feeling."

She bids goodnight to the Lord of Hightower with a "Rest well, my lord brother."

She dips her red-haired head to Dhraegon. "I think I shall take some cake and take my leave as well, if you'll excuse me, Prince Dhraegon. I'll leave you half," she assures.

Dhraegon looks seriously distressed at Marsei's lack of pillowfort safe food, "Would you like a hug instead? Hugs are like pillowforts and gardens and jam cakes, only with fewer slugs." He stands when Marsei does and lowers his voice, "Try the cookies in a pillowfort and see if it helps."

Ormund nods, solemn, and heads out of the dining hall and up the stairs.

"I will try the cookies and the pillows. It all sounds very cozy, thank you," she admits, quite genuinely. In other words, however, it also means no to the hugs. She curtseys farewell to the uncommon prince and takes her leave, and after saying goodnight to other nearby relatives and guests on her way, the kind widow Lady Marsei soon vanishes.

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