(122-02-26) Ladies Dolphin Party
Ladies Dolphin Party
Summary: A Dolphin Festival gathering specifically for ladies, in honour of the Mother, is held amidst the beautiful gardens and pavilions on Battle Island beneath the Hightower, hosted by Lady Marsei Hightower. Ladies and girls brought their talents to a light-hearted contest, judged by Lady Marsei and Princess Visenya Targaryen, this year's Queen of Love and Beauty. The entertainment surprises.
Date: 26/02/2015
Related: http://gobmush.wikidot.com/log:122-01-04-the-dolphin-tournament

On the contrarily named Battle Island, one section the grounds have been transformed into a beautiful refuge, watched over by the mighty Hightower. The already lovely gardens, not a single weak petal or bruised fruit in sight, are lined with posts that string colourful ribbons along the cobblestone paths. The posts themselves wound with white and blue flowers and vivid, nearly turquoise leaves. The pavilions are all open and airy and full of as much light, seating, and life as possible. Noblewomen and maidens in their finery mingle and laugh and walk the cobblestones; the youngest of them occasionally break free and play. The air is filled with the sounds of feminine voices, laughter, and sweet, cheerful harp song. The flaxen-haired harp player is one of the few male faces; Hightower men stand guard, too far off to eavesdrop, their backs turned. For such an event, among mostly nobles, the atmosphere is gentle and laidback.

Great sheets, some emblazoned with the Hightower sigil, some with floral designs, dolphins, or depictions of the Mother, are festooned all along one side of the path leading to the Hightower, giving the ladies' event its unique privacy. At the entrance, a neatly dressed servant politely greets and announces each guest, then offers them a flower with a string to tie on their wrist, dress, or in their hair.

In the middle of the area, surrounded by gardens, a small raised platform has been installed. It's no taller than one stair step, only slightly separating it from the rest of the gathering. Upon it are two chairs borrowed from indoors, side by side, behind which two tall bushes, with the help of winding vines, have been styled to resemble two dolphins leaping toward each other. The end result is throne-like, in its way. Upon this small dais sits Lady Marsei and Princess Visenya, looking like a pair of queens. The redheaded lady's gown is a burst of emerald and softer blue and pale green embellishments, free-flowing and pretty, absent sleeves but otherwise modest. Her hair is vivid, left to fall in waves except for a delicate braids at her temples pulled back like a crown.

Norah is moving slowly and gracefully. Her guard is kind enough to carry a rather large cloth roll for her. She is announced as Lady Norah of house Plumm blah blah. She takes the flower with a curtsy, tucking it in her hair with the rest of her floral accessories. She's lively, her under gown swishing as she looks around as if it is the first time she has been to the battle island and able to properly see it.

The Princess has eschewed the harsh black and red of her House, and instead wears a airy confection of sunflower silk. Her long silvery blonde hair has been curled and piled on top of her head. It is decorated with coral roses and canary yellow diamond pieces. She sits in her chair with a glass of half-filled Arbor Gold balanced languidly on her knee.

She smiles cheerfully, and hands off her glass to a servant to clap for the Lady presenting currently. "That was lovely. Thank you."

Marsei is sure to greet every new face, even if it's from afar. Her enthusiastic smile beams far and wide. She aims it at Norah, as well as the lady who enters afterward with her slew of daughters and handmaids, some of whom are carrying various items as well. The presenting of talents is a more casual affair than most strict contests of skill: a lady simply approaches the dais whenever she desires, as long as Marsei and Visenya have thanked and dismissed the previous show. A couple of early previous contenders have their pieces laid out on a table, in the case of arts like embroidery. It is, in fact, mostly embroidery.

Marsei leans slightly over the arm of her chair to whisper cheerfully to Visenya about the last contestant, along with, "Shall we send for sweets?"

Trays of the Arbor Gold the princess is favouring are being brought around. Now, food is travelled out of the Hightower and laid out upon a table set out for that purpose. It's no lavish banquet; it's all sweets, in modest amounts, good for eating neatly with one's fingers. Miniature spiced cakes, lemoncakes and strawberry tarts, and of course marzipan dolphins.

Visenya snags her glass back from the servant, and has a bit more than a sip before she lofts her silvery brow. Her response to Marsei's question is, "Why ask when you know I'll just say yes?" She then lets out a content little sigh, and leans back in her chair ever so slightly. "I think I like being Queen of Love and Beauty. We'll take turns every year. Next year you be it, and I'll feast you and entertain you."

Norah takes her piece now, setting her piece on the table. It is a backed embroidery and applique piece of beautiful women in beautiful dresses from the various kingdoms of westeros. the colors are vibrant and flowers popular in each area of the seven kingdoms are embroidered. for the crownlands there is a dragon curled in a bundle of roses overwatching the ladies. In the north the ladies are putting roses on a large wolf. The vale has birds, pretty little birds. The reach has women holding Wine. The westerlands have ladies with baskets of fruit. The iron islands are depicted with a pissed woman holding wet roses. The stormlands are hale, the Dornish are .. wearing less than the others but sensibly dressed and playing with desert roses. She put a lot of effort and thought into it.

Marsei's smile evolves easily into a merry laugh. "I can't choose it. The Queen of Love and Beauty has to be named. Will you win the tournament for me?" she jests good-naturedly with the current Queen of Love and Beauty. As she notices the piece being laid out, she's drawn to rise from her seat to take a closer look. "Lady Norah, of House Plumm?" she asks as if to make sure, but it's rather clear by the sweet Hightower's smile that she remembers the announcement. When she truly gets a look at the piece of embroidery, her face lights up and remains bright, as it takes her some time to absorb each aspect. She touches some of the designs, judging — or in awe. She's a less than stoic judge, enthusiastic about everything. "This is a piece of art!" she compliments in all sincerity. "All the Seven Kingdoms?" She smiles more softly when her trailing finger reaches the Reach and its lady holding wine.

It is Visenya's turn to laugh, and she does so heartily. Then she says aside to Marsei before the other woman goes to look at the tapestry, "No, but if we choose the right man he will. What are men good for if they aren't doing something useful for us?" She finishes off her glass of Arbor Gold, and casually sets it on the servant's tray before rising to follow Marsei. "Oh!" She says when she sees the tapestry, but the smile on her face indicates she is more delighted than her words actually express. "Isn't that charming?"

Norah smiles a bit "Yes, I'm Norah, its lovely to meet you Lady Marsei." she offers. She smiles a bit "I started it months ago." she offers cheerfully to Marsei, taking a glass of wine when a server gets close, and some variety of rose jam tart. She takes a small bite of the tart before a sip of the wine. She seems to fidget a little bit. "I think I did quite well on it." Her expression is confused at Visenya's words, trying to figure out if she's being taunted "Thank you, my princess." she offers politely, taking another small sip of wine.

"It certainly shows! I think it would take me an hour to truly take in every detail," Marsei replies, short of gushing. She keeps her position as a judge in mind at the last moment and smiles graciously. "Thank you, Lady Norah. Leave it here, until the contest's end. I promise it will be safe!" She nods her red head to the noble seamstress. She pauses over the servant's tray of sweets, but decides instead to stroll across the way to the table where they're all laid out, instead. Cheerfully abandoning her post seems more proper at an event such as this one. She jovially greets and kisses the cheeks of several vaguely familiar faces along the way.

Another lady is announced, possibly that is lost in the general amusement, but the lean form of Daena Yronwood strides in after her name is given by the servant. She accepts the offered flower and tucks it into her hair, which has been done in elaborate braids and ribbons. The Dornishwoman is much more colorful than usual, her usual black and sand colors traded for sandsilk robes of red, and orange and gold. A statement of some sort? She has brought along a pair of wooden boxes, inlaid with the Sun and Spear of the Martels and enameled in their colors. Spying the dias, Daena moves in that direction.

"My ladies." Daena says by way of greeting when there seems a lull in their examining of crafts, she inclines her head a moment. "I have a small gift for the hostess and the Queen of Love and Beauty."

Norah looks intrigued, cheeks pink as she watches Visenya and Marsei before her eyes drift to Daena. She moves to the sweets display, using it to cover up her nervousness in the situation. The bitesize tarts are snacked on absently, than most unmarried women would really. Her gown swishing as she looks at the harp as if considering singing for the group.

Visenya smiles in a vague manner while Marsei speaks to Norah. When Daena is announced she eyes the Dornishwoman up and down a moment before her pretty face relaxes. She snags two fresh glasses of Arbor Gold from a passing servant, and holds one out for Daena to take. "A gift? I adore gifts. You've already disarmed me, Lady Daena." That said she takes more than a ladylike sip from her glass.

Marsei hurries into place with a plate of sweets just in time, sitting back down eagerly to receive Daena. The Hightower lady appears quite frankly thrilled, her features so easy to brighten at the boxes. "I've always thought the Martell sun was so bright and beautiful," she says, looking to Visenya as if to confirm. "Oh! Lady Daena," she realizes with some surprise, seawater eyes returning quickly to the Dornishwoman, "You look a good deal different outside the tourney grounds." She appears full of anticipation, far closer to an innocent girl waiting to receive a gift than any sort of impatient authority.

"Disarming a dragon? Truly the Mother has intervened in my favor." Daena says, laughing gently.. "It is but a trifle, truly." She hands over a box to the Targaryen princess, the fragrance of pepper and cloves are clear even with the box closed." One for Marsei as well. "My mother is the sister of our Princess." she offers, perhaps as explanation for her change in colors. "You are too kind, lady. I thought I should seem less gentled than whenriding and shooting on a duty field. This reminds me, someday I would like to see what sorts of studs you Hightowers have." Inside each box will be revealed as indeed two bags of spices, not an inexpensive thing.

Visenya opens the box to peer into the box. Her nostrils flare slightly at the pungent smell of the rare spices. "What a thoughtful gift, Lady Daena." She lifts the box to her nose to sniff delicately one last time before closing it up and handing it off to one of her handmaids. "You are Princess Mariya and Prince Alaryn's cousin." She smiles a little more genuinely at this than her smile was before, "I look forward to having the Princess as my good-sister. I think the only woman who matches her in good-naturedness is Lady Marsei."

There are very few masculine figures to be seen, so Kygoxi rather stands out even more than usual. Yet, somehow with his exotic robes and turban, he's exotic enough to almost seem neither masculine nor feminine, but something entirely Other. In deference to the occasion, his turban is festooned with an array of flowers, and a necklace of woven flowers drapes around his neck. Just at the moment, he is making the rounds at the party, smiling in a friendly way at the ladies, and occasionally producing flowers or trinkets apparently from thin air, which are then gifted to a passing lady.

Norah is quiet, spotting Kygoxi. She cheers, a bit noisily, causing a few other westerland women to end up around Kygoxi "You did come! You do such wonderous things. Those are our hostesses, Lady Marsei of house Hightower and Princess Visenya of house Targaryen. You should for certain do some tricks for them." she offers, chipperly, clapping politely for Kygoxi.

Marsei gives the plate of sweets to a servant to hold and takes the box in hand, gently opening it. Given the scent, it's no surprise when the contents are revealed, but all the same, she lightly presses her left hand to her clavicle in a gesture of surprise and gratitude, of which she seems easily overwhelmed — even by spices. "This indeed a lovely gift, Lady Daena," she agrees with Visenya, "So fragrant and pure. You are too kind," she's all smiles, though she looks down modestly when the princess mentions her good nature. "I imagine it would be no trouble to arrange a tour of our stables," she adds. She catches sight of the man out of the corner of her eye and can't help but look more closely. "Look," she cheerfully encourages the princess and Dornish lady, laughing with delight. "He—" there's some question there; she tilts her head, trying to see, "must be here to entertain us!"

"Just so, princess. They are my cousins and dear to me, especially Alaryn. He taught me many things when I was a child." Daena says. She nods at the comment about Mariya. "She is a precious gift to your house, I will miss her when she is so far away. I hope it shall bring King's Landing and Sunspear closer together." There, she's even trying to be diplomatic. She turns her head to speak to Marsei again but then there's mention of entertainment and she looks. "Hmm. Not horseflesh, but he might make a stud for someone." she suggests, lowering her voice so it doesn't carry far from the dais and the ladies there.

Kygoxi does indeed have his attention captured by Norah's noisy cheer, and he gives a gracious smile and a graceful bow. "Good evening, ladies," he greets, in his usual exotic accent. "It is to be my pleasure." With an eye-confusing twist of his fingers, a single long-stemmed white flower appears in his hand, which he passes to Norah with a little smile, then turns his attention to the hostesses with a lower bow. "Lady Marsei… Princess Visenya. It is an honor"

Visenya's cheeks flush slightly pink at the mention of Prince Alaryn, but she says nothing regarding him, and seems eager when the conversation is stirred back to Mariya, "It is my hope as well. King Viserys is eager for peace." A stark contrast to the Kings before him who wished to add Dorne to his domain. At Daena's crack regarding Kygoxi and horseflesh her head turns ever so slightly before she calls out, "Ladies! There is an intruder in our midst! He must entertain us or face our wrath!" She smirks at Kygoxi as he bows, "You are not here for pleasantries. You are here to be entertaining." She than begins clapping her hands together and chanting, "Entertain! Entertain!"

A few of the surrounding ladies begin clapping and chanting as well, and soon many others are.

Marsei is on the verge of commenting on one thing or another when she hears Daena's sly remark and her smile freezes upon her face. She touches her lips with her fingertips as if to conceal the amused but faintly scandalized giggle that comes next. She meets Kygoxi with this rather animated countenance and her giggle lends well to the surprised laugh she gives to Visenya and her demands, as does her hand upon her mouth. For a moment, Marsei looks as though she may fall sideways in her chair. "You may offer us your name first, of course!"

Daena takes a step back as the ladies call to be entertained by the newcomer, she turns and has a coughing fit which thankfully only lasts a few moments. There is wine near enough at hand and she moves to collect a cup to drink from. Wine seems to help.

Norah smiles at Kygoxi, gesturing him forward "From far away Essos, this is an aquaintance, an entertainer named Kygoxi, Princess, my lady." she offers, smoothly, taking her flower from Kygoxi to tuck into her hair with a bright smile. A friend seems to come up and hands her a plate of treats and a fresh glass of wine. "Oh! Thank you!"

Kygoxi gives a broader smile as he looks up at Visenya, amusement causing his eyes to twinkle. He glances at Norah when she introduces him, and corrects her with a single raised finger. "The Great Kygoxi of Essosi," he announces, "And not merely an entertainer. I am a wizard. I will show you…" He pats his robes for a moment, as though searching through his pockets, then smiles a little broader and glances around. "May I borrow a lady's trinket? Something…ah… How do you say? Something unique. A handkerchief, perhaps?"

Visenya takes one of her canary yellow diamond tipped pins from her hair, and holds it out for Kygoxi to take. "If you're a wizard you can use this, right?" There's a bit of a challenge in the Princesses' voice, but it all seems to be in good fun. "Shouldn't he, my ladies?"

Marsei retrieves the plate of sweets that was being so dutifully held by a servant and holds it between her and Visenya's chairs, plucking a strawberry tart from the assembled treats, settling in to watch this entertainment. "A wizard?" she repeats as if she can barely believe — but with no actual skepticism, it should be noted. "We shall certainly see!" she encourages.

Norah watches curiously, smiling at Kygoxi, her fingers smoothing her dress gently as she stares curiously. Her hands fidget a bit as she gets a little wide eyed.

Kygoxi raises an eyebrow slightly as Visenya offers the clip, but he doesn't hesitate. He takes it from her hand, and holds it up, turning this way and that to be sure that the other ladies get a chance to see exactly what it looks like. "Ahhh, now, this is perfect. Beautiful, no? And there is none other like it." He glances toward Marsei with a little grin. "Now, we all know that fire is powerful, yes? Powerful magic." With the pin still clearly held in one hand, he snaps the fingers of the other hand and a small flicker of blue flame appears. "It is beautiful, too, yes?"

Visenya claps her hands together eagerly. She doesn't seem the least bit bothered that she may have just lost a diamond.

"Ah!" Marsei exclaims, bobbing once in her seat. Transfixed, her eyes shining, she seems equal parts delighted and wary of the flame. Strawberry tart gone, her hands come together as if to clap but simply clutch one another tight. "It is beautiful!"
Eonn comes across the arching white stone bridge from Oldtown, passing the knights that guard the way.

As the wizard does his magic, Daena drains another cup and then slips out while the others are busy being entertained.

Norah is wide eyed and enjoying the show, she absently pops another tart in her mouth, this one is a strawberry one. Her expression changes as she looks to her plate, blinking a bit before looking back at the magic show.

Kygoxi gets a slightly mischievous look, "Now, be watching carefully ladies," he advises, and brings the two hands together. Although the pin probably oughtn't to easily burn (certainly not without destroying Kygoxi's hands in the process), it goes up in flames and then disappears into a puff of smoke with a snap of his fingers. "The fire is being very powerful, you see. But a clever wizard bends the fire to do his wishes, and thus… Poof." He seems to get distracted for a moment, glancing a Marsei, or more specifically at her hair. Politely, he makes a bit of a gesture toward her, "Lady Marsei, I am sorry but I think you have something in your hair." She does. It's Visenya's hair pin.

Eonn stands not far from Visenya, watching her. A shabby example of a guard, with his piecemeal armour and shaggy red hair. But he does look fierce. He watches Kygoxi curiously.

The wizard has drawn quite a crowd, ladies of all ages turning their attention on the magical entertainment until there's a circle around the dais. The harpist carries on, lending a whimsical tune to the show. Lady Marsei's eyes aspire to be as bright as the earlier flame, they're so aglow with fascination. Utterly drawn into the trick, her mouth is open to protest the pin's disappearance — it was Visenya's, and so lovely! — but is thrown into surprise by Kygoxi. "I couldn't!" She brushes along her hair, finding nothing— only to find it on the other side. She pulls out the yellow, diamond-tipped hairpin and holds it up. "I— I don't know what to say!" She holds it higher still, so all may see, before handing it to Visenya. "You're a true wizard!"

Norah 's hands go to her face to clap before she's tapped on the shoulder and whispered to by her guard "Father sent me correspondence?" she pauses "Wait wait. WHICH one?" she asks in a hushed whisper, brows almost high enough to leap off her face. Her expression is pure shock. She pauses, taking a silk plum blossom from her hair, and a two silver stags at his feet - likely to encourage other ladies to be generous. She seems to be in her own world tough as she backs up, downing her wine to set the mug down.

Visenya's lips curve up into a satisfied smile as she claps rather enthusiastically. Once her clapping is done she leans back in her chair on the dais contemplatively, and twirls the returned pin between her fingertips before extending to to Kygoxi. "Keep it." She says as she gives away the expensive bauble in a manner that suggests such little tokens are meaningless to her. "And partake in our bounty!"

Kygoxi gives a low bow first to Marsei, then to Visenya, and then sweeps a hand to include the other ladies, smiling broadly. "Thank you muchly. And to Princess Visenya for her patience." The sudden generosity from the princess clearly takes Kygoxi aback slightly, but after a moment of surprise, he gives a bit of a laugh, but accepts the pin, which he clips to his turban with a flourish. "Many gratitudes, ladies. It looks well, no? Am I not lovely?" he jokes, brightly.

"It matches, I think," Marsei declares, beaming. "Thank you, Kygoxi," she says, a wealth of sincerity, "And Lady Norah as well, for bringing you and your wonderful magic to our little gathering."

Norah claps for Kygoxi, giving him a smile before zipping away, expression fully concerned and devoted. She waits a moment, giving a curtsy "Excuse me my lady I have urgent business to attend to." she pauses "If it pleases, Please keep the embroidery I made Princess Visenya. In honor of being the Queen of Love and Beauty." she claps her hands and giggles "I realize giving it to you disqualifies me due to being unfair but you seemed to like it!"

Eonn raises his eyebrows, and is silent. A little smile touches his lips, though.

A flute joins the harp entertaining the ladies, matching its pleasant tune, but adding a hint of liveliness. It's a woman playing, though her playing is not an entry; it's a dark-curled woman in a fine but plain shift dress, in fact the main handmaid of Lady Marsei, Siva. The hostess turns her head over her shoulder to look, smiling fondly before her attention's drawn ahead. The circle around the small dais becomes looser as women drift here and there, to friends, wine, sweets and music; still, some linger, as a pair of very young girls, barely beyond knee-height, approach Marsei and Visenya, stumbling out their best manners before performing a clumsy but heartfelt dance for the contest, throughout which Marsei can barely contain herself.

Although there's an intricate web of gossip and upholding of certain images amidst the varied collection of women all around the party, there's nevertheless a freer feel; all these ladies without lords about. There is moer freedom to laugh and speak. After the little dancers depart, Marsei smiles out on the temporary little world she's created for the sake of the Dolphin Festival and leans to Visenya, "Do you think it would be untoward if I held this every month?"

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