(123-02-27) Maidenday Masque
Maidenday Masque
Summary: The masque in the Maidenday Gardens is a great feature of the annual Dolphin Festival. The very spirit of the sea rises for the occasion from the Whispering Sound; owls and peacocks and all manner of birds flock together, whilst harlequins nest in treesl; seahorfes receive dancing lessons; and we all hope very much that that is a gourd.
Date: 27-28/02/2016
Related: None (yet).

For the night-long masque which is so much a part of the tradition of the Dolphin Festival, the Maidenday Gardens have been transformed by coloured glass lanterns and bright silken draperies and the strains of several small musical ensembles nestled unobtrusively in shrubberies far enough apart they need not compete with one another in setting the festivalgoers to swaying. Here and there long tables offer up a dainty yet bountiful repast which will be subtly replenished all through the night's darkest hours by the unobtrusive hands of servants; and several of the gardens' exquisitely carven marble fountains which by day run with pure fresh water are consecrated this evening to wine.

Here and there in various more open areas, musicians play to accomodate dancing, but the whole party is spead out amoung the pathways and music floats about on the fresh evening breezes off the bay.

There's a troupe of old-fashioned mummers in beautiful costumes and masques of another era (think Commedia dell'arte), wandering about to entertain and sometimes spook passersby with little tricks like juggling some colourful balls, walking backwards on their hands, playing a little pipe or breathing fire. The group seems to be having a lot of fun, with the odd group member breaking away now and then to greet friends, flirt odr get some refreshments from the fountains.

Of course the masque has drawn out curious creatures not usually seen in the streets or the gardens of Oldtown — one of them a dainty lady in a dark blue silken gown as subtly shimmering as the stars through a faint film of cloud upon a summer midnight. More covert than many she has covered her full face by means of an oval mask, lacquered and gilded and gleaming, in the expression of a beautiful doll caught perpetually between flirtation and sadness.

She is shadowed by a pair of olive-skinned dark men attired as bravos, tremendously strong and flamboyant in their costumes of many scarves, and their black domino masks — they are local men, hired for the evening — but the lady herself has been drawn already to several of her own countrymen… The lyrical strains of their talk and their laughter in their own tongue fills a pavilion where wine is poured and shared and drunkenly sloshed, and where the latest gossip from over the Narrow Sea, tales of bravos and their duels and celebrated courtesans and their lovers, are being related, debated, discounted, and once in a while proven, via the clever risque conjectures of the dainty blue and silver lady, who seems to know a dashed lot about it. In consequence she is being teased: how can she know so much? If she resides in Braavos, and yet journeys regularly to Oldtown on 'business', how is it that we have never met? Do I speak, my lady, with one retired from that illustrious profession? The lady laughs them all away; and her black-gloved fingers snap open a silvery fan and wield it ruthlessly in fending them away—! Not so far away, however, that one of the Braavosi men doesn't leap up in pursuit when, at length, she retires from the pavilion with the declared intention to see what she can see.

The Eagle owl is in a black overgown with an undergown in shades of gey. All is patterned in black, white, and shades of grey beading to suggest the pattern of the bird's featers. Her black hair is up in a snood with the beaded netting designed to mimic the pattern of the owl's feathers as well. Her huge dark eyes are framed with a stiking white and black feathered mask, with the small yellow beak over her nose. The mini cape on her shoulders hangs down her back in the shape of wings. The widow watches the dancers, one beaded slipper tapping time.

A harlequin in bright motley cuts acrobatic capers around the edges of the crowd, silks of every colour of the rainbow making his stylized rags rich enough for a Lord. His face concealed under a simply pained mask, with dianods around the eyes and a heart shape bow to the lips.

A troupe of jugglers wander down paths to put on small shows here and there.

One of the mummers is clad entirely in gold, which includes an expensive looking wig and facial mask, giving him the appearance of an old-fashioned heroic statue. The goldne appearance turns up in front of the lady in blue, playing a little tune on a simple shepherd's pipe. Like one does.

In the midst of an arch remark to the new acquaintance who seems to have constituted himself her third attendant, the dainty lady in blue is arrested by the golden mummer and his music. In lieu of a true smile which may or may not be present behind her mask she indicates her pleasure by snapping shut her fan and clasping her hands together, inclined sideways with the fan in between; by lifting and tilting her chin and adopting otherwise a position of almost prayerful fascination. At the end of his tune she confesses in a soft, accented drawl, "How very, very pretty, milord mummer! … I hope all our statuary might present themselves so agreeably to eye and to ear, were they to step down from their pedestals and revel amongst the living for a night."

A brawny figure, a simple dolphin mask hiding his features, is amongst the revelers, his clothing simple and unremarkable; a loose-fitting tunic and britches, all at least being in a matched, dolphin-esque grey hue. A goblet is held lazily in one hand, and the man seems to linger near a fountain more often than not as he mingles, catching up with past acquaintances and making new ones.

The Harlequin's tumbles land him close to the lady with the Bravosi accent, landing a final flip there with a fine florish and a bow. There he freezes in a posture of perfect galantry, bowing deeply.

The Owl gazes longingly at the dancers and sighs, before gazing about for someone she migt at least talk to.

The golden statue offers a deep elegant bow to the lady in blue but since statues don't talk, he remains silent. Instead he strikes a new pose, that of classic hero, one arm stretched upwards, chin jutting out and … stands like that for a bit.

The blue Braavosi lady gives a silvery laugh to match her ensemble, tilting her lacquered mask first towards the harlequin bowing so deeply to her, and then towards the golden statue showing off his heroic physique. "So beautiful, these men of Westeros — silent, deferential, frankly attired to show they desire to amuse — how wrong of me to think of them so many years only as boorish and brutish!" she exclaims in the common tongue, heavily accented.

The red and golden Braavosi man at her side, his half-mask chosen not to interfere with the magnificence of his oiled moustaches, his attire suggestive of only the most expensive piracy, laughs with her and teases, in Braavosi, "But what can they offer you, Lady Cosima, of the pleasures of conversation, when one's struck dumb and the other cannot so much as meet your eyes?"

"… Very well, I'll dance with you," sighs the lady, returning to their own language with the air of one granting a great and tedious favour under protest, "but you must tell me what you have promised!" She snaps her fan open again and it flutters before her as delicately as a butterfly whilst, having given the Harlequin no more than a casual glance, she confides in Common again to the golden mummer, "And then shall you play for me again, mmm? Let me have that to look forward to—!" And she permits her countryman to lead her away with a hand at her waist, her omnipresent bodyguards bringing up the rear.

The golden statue doesn't last in his position for very long. Two other mummers of his troupe appear by his side, waving skewers of fried meat. The statue casts one last longing look at the lady in blue, perhaps marking her down for later, then walks off with his friends to enjoy a little meal before going to strike another pose elsewhere.

The Harlequin stands on his hands and does an upside down jig, careful to not impede the passing lady and her bravo.

The less-than-elegant dolphin continues his idle passing through the gardens, giving the performers a look over, eyes behind his mask amused as he travels from fountain to fountain, enjoying a rather relaxing gathering.

The Owl moves with a step in time with the music towards the refreshment table.

The guards attendant upon the Braavosi lady are soon demoted to onlookers, as she and her admirer join with several other couples in tracing the complex figures of one of the more formal and courtly set dances. Places are changed; fingertips are touched; bows exchanged for curtseys; one girl who has a few too many steps in completely the wrong direction and it is all the men can do to re-orient her without spoiling the harmony of the rest. The Braavosi lady executes the steps flawlessly (the silver and glass buckles on her shoes catch the lantern-light whenever her skirts sway far enough, in a sharp neat turn) and never fails to lean her masked face nearer to her own partner's when the pattern of the dance affords them opportunity to exchange a few words. Though, come to think of it… she's whispering with one of the other men, too.

The song ends and the dance with it; the blue Braavosi lady's self-appointed cavalier seems to feel it his duty to escort her winewards, but when his hand reaches again for her waist a closed and very pointed fan is suddenly in his way. Whatever remark she utters to him then in an undertone, her fan against his wrist, he goes and has a drink all right — alone, for hours.

Thus the blue Braavosi lady is quite free to stalk majestically in directions of her own, pursued only by her pair of bravo guards, pausing often for a casual word with acquaintances or strangers who may accost her.

Goblet freshly refilled, the crude dolphin makes its way away from a fountain for a change, mingling with the other revelers and, inadvertently, finding himself before the blue Braavosi lady, to whom he offers a deep nod and a raised goblet in greeting. "Evening, m'lady," he greets, voice gruff behind his mask, clearly lacking any of the refinement of nobility.

A young woman in a daring dress of black silk walks in, short even in her heeled boots, enough of her lower face shows beneath her black mask to show she's very pretty. She moves about with perhaps more hip-swaying than she's entitled to, given her lack of abundance in hips.

The blue lady almost passes the dolphin; but upon being hailed she takes a dainty step back in her silver-buckled boots and draws her fan close against her bosom as she bows her head to him in a very elegant greeting. "My lord dolphin — good evening," she declares, as though she's certain it must be one, as though her word upon the subject were sufficient to ensure it! Her accent is foreign; her Common is superb. "Dolphins swum ashore, statues stepped down from their pedestals — I saw a man dance a jig upon his hands! — a curious and upside-down evening, do you not find it so…?"

The Harlequin swings himself up into a tree, to watch the preceedings for the nonce.

The Owl selects some wine and sips, feet moving under her skirts.

A relatively late arrival to the party, the figure probably best referred to as the Old God makes his entry to a shocked gasp or three. A hairy giant of a man, he has opted to make his costume little more than a strategically placed broad-blade leaf and a mask largely comprised of vines and flora. Hardly the most original, but to his credit at least the leaf keeps his modesty.

"And let's not forget that even Braavosi are turnin' out fer the celebration," the dolphin adds, eyes twinkiling with amusement. "Definitely a night t' remember," he agrees, lifting the mask just enough to drink from his goblet before letting it settle again. His eyes flicker over her shoulder to some of the newer arrivals, visibily biting back a laugh even behind the mask at one of them.

The Owl's eyes widen in surprise at the sight of the Old God. After a moment her laughter peals out like a bell.

Melysa merges in with some dancers seamlessly, her raven-black mask upturned, moving gracefully. She twirls about, long black hair streaming behind her as she makes her way about the gardens, gravitating to the more handsome men she can see, perhaps even catching an eye or two given the occasional flash of pale leg through the slits in her dress.

The Old God, a mass of tattoos and gristle and swaying green, poses with his hands on hips at the laughter, apparently fully in his element. From somewhere he procures a drink and a place to lean, leg cocked, to watch the dancing girl and realise he may have underestimated his choice of plantlife. Oh well.

"But of course my people relish such celebrations," insists the blue Braavosi lady; "we have each year a carnival lasting many days and ending in a great ball at the Sealord's Palace, the raptures of which I must tell you would put your Dolphin Festival into the shade… But on an evening such as this, with the wine flowing so richly and the lights so colourful and the company so various, I might almost fancy that Oldtown has caught up with us…" She glances behind her, following the line of her interlocutor's gaze; "No, no," and she laughs her silvery laugh, "perhaps after all you've exceeded us."

The Owl's lips purse as she gets her handle on her amusement at the pososing Old God and selects a butter tart to nibble. there may be no one to dance with or talk to, but she is making the best of it.

The Harlequin in the tree above the God murmers in a local lordly accent, "I fear I may be as overdressed as you are underdressed." His tone is light and more rueful than mocking.

The dolphin follows the Old God's gaze to the dancing girl, becoming distracted himself for a long moment before turning back to the blue Braavosi lady. "Can' say I ever swam that far north to see Braavos. Someday, maybe."

The black-masked young woman emerges from the dancing crown and pauses, eyes wide even beneath her mask. She looks the God up and down, then gives a shake of her head, moving apart from the dancers. She makes her way over to the acrobats, then standing with her heeled boots on the ground bends over backwards, hands finding the ground behind her and holding that posture, aiming perhaps for a gasp from the crowd.

"Verrry possibly," says the God as he grins up at the Harlequin, "But at least it will be easier to remove when I find a quean willing to worship at my altar." he adds, his accent all burrs and northern snow. Then, though, a pair of giggling girls in animal masks sweep by and the God moves with them, his arms over their shoulders, "Girls, do you have a moment to talk about the Old Ways?" he says, disappearing into the crowds with them.

The Harlequin gives the Old God a bow, "I see you were wise in this. Alas, I am a fool indeed, and unlikely to worship or be worshipped tonight." He gives a little wave to the god's disappearing back.

The Braavosi lady may or may not glance long enough or far enough to see what has caught the dolphin's eye; all such secrets are well-hidden by her mask of indecisive beauty. But perhaps her courteous extraction of herself from his company might be considered taking pity on a young fellow drawn more to the seen than the unseen. "Someday," she echoes; and, "I hope that you shall." A courteous inclination of her head; and she steps away, as though her eye too has been caught, and soon she vanishes from view in other company.

The black-masqued woman frowns a little as the God is led away by a pair of men and advised to find clothes. One foot lifts up, toes pointed skywards, pale leg emerging from that slit in her dress. She holds this posture for some moments, then in a flashing of pale legs and a swirling of black hair and silk she kicks backwards, ending lightly on her feet.

The Harlequin claps along with the rest at the performance, but from the tilt of his mask he's an eye on the disappearing braavosi Lady as well.

The dolphin raises his goblet to the departing blue lady, offering her another polite nod before turning to where his eyes were so clearly drawn, strolling to whatever wine fountain provides the best view. "Couldn' find a mermaid costume you'd be able t' walk in?" he calls to the black-masqued woman, sounding amused.

A rustle of silk and shrubbery suggests some reveler is approaching the Harlequin's tree from a direction not at all obvious. And then the Braavosi lady in the sparkling midnight gown looks up into the branches with the shrewd black gaze of Esme the shopkeeper, the old butcher's widow and the new butcher's mother; and rising to her tip-toes she calls softly to him in Esme's voice. "Now, if you've changed your mind you needn't go so far as to dance with me; but hidin' in a tree to get out of it is just ridiculous, dearie."

The black-masqued woman smiles. "And I did not have two seashells to add to the mermaid costume. They rather insisted on that bit." her Lyseni accent further betrays her to the dolphin, and any others who might know her. "Now then, shall I try for some more daring contortions?"

The Harlequin laughs lightly and jumps down beside her, to bow deeply and kiss her hand. His accent is suddenly Flea Bottom now, deep for a man of his diminutive size, "To be honest, I think I've eyeballed every woman here and still was not convinced any were you. you are truly Mistress of the mask. May I have this dance, Milady?"

The lady's fan is abruptly shut, and held in her left hand rather than her right; just as the Harlequin reaches for it her hand is there, presented with regal condescension lest anyone be looking, work-worn fingers hidden beneath soft black leather and adorned with extravagant glass 'jewels' set in polished silver. "Of course, if you wish it," she murmurs graciously from behind her mask, answering Flea Bottom with the canals of Braavos; "but tell me, how is your Low Valyrian…? Do you mind…? It is a little easier for me to speak it as what it is, than to speak the common tongue with this accent…" One slender, shimmering shoulder shifts in an elegant shrug of concession.

"Think they hires the acrobats for that sorta' thing," the dolphin suggests, grinning behind his mask. "How about y' just relax instead of puttin' on a show for a night," he adds, tone teasing.

The Harlequin segues gracefully from the light kiss of her knuckles, to leading her by the hand towards the figure dance. He switches to Low Valyrian, that sounds in his mouth rather piratical, «I fear my accent is atrocious, and more of the stepstones than your lovely canals.»

"Oh, but putting on the show is the fun part." The black-masqued woman winks, the act somewhat spoiled by the way her masque mostly hides it. "I would not be wearing this dress if I did not want to show off. But do say the word and I'll stop showing off, or another word and I might get more…. daring." She flashes her dimples to the Dolphin.

As the blue Braavosi lady drifts along hand in hand with the Harlequin he's sure to notice that the top of her head is a good four inches higher than it usually is — and that she's wafting about in clouds of sandalwood and musk, rather than her usual scent of plain soap… Or perhaps their first brief meeting sufficed to acquaint him with these baffling facts. «Not atrocious perhaps,» she grants generously, «but intriguing… I imagine you won't care to tell me where and how you learned it, mmm?» Her own Low Valyrian is, plainly and simply, that of a Braavosi native speaker of good birth.

"Fair 'nough," the dolphin concedes, taking a few steps towards the black-masqued Lyseni. "Lovely as this is, I've got some work t' do. Not all us get t' waste the night away," he teases, resting a hand on her shoulder and winking before making his way out of the gardens.

The black-masqued woman frowns a little beneath her mask as the Dolphin-masqued man leaves. she looks about for more interesting people, especially those not yet entangled with company, checking out the many and varied masques on display.

The Harlequin is wearing some sort of citrus musk, raher than his usual clean sscent. he is not that much taller than the lady he escorts. Though the mask shows only his eyes, from his tone he likely is grinning as he answers in Low valyrian, «I fear that would be telling…. Still I am rather rusty and my Valyrian is nothing compared to your Westerosi.» He swings her gracefully up into the air and down again, joining the galliard jut starting. For all his modest height, he is strong and his posture correct as a Lord's.

There is also a tree about, twigs attached to the head of what must be a female, judging from the brownish dress she wears, and the definitely female shape wrapped within. A blue half-mask conceals the upper part of her face, with eye slits that reveal eyes of a similar blue color. The tree is currently strolling about on her own, lifting her gaze when she hears words uttered in a language unknown to her, long dark brown tresses cfalling openly about her shoulders.

Guided into the dance by a Harlequin whose hand at her waist encounters serious steel corsetry beneath her silks, the blue Braavosi lady moves with dignified ease, her feet quick and dainty and their silver buckles flashing in the light, never faltering nor missing a step; and she laughs at the assumption in her partner's words. «Now, if I were to quack, would you suppose I were by birth a duck?» she chides him gently, making little of her linguistic gifts. «And if you're going to keep on never telling anything, we had better hope this is a short dance — we'd have no hope of getting through a longer one…»

There is always a flow to an event like this, and sometimes it even has a bit of a tide as much of the first group of revelers drifts out, exhausted or seeking more private spaces, and those who have not yet indulged arrive as reinforcements. Part of the second wave appears to be dressed as a seahorse, a dragon-like mask covering his entire face and a curled tail strapped on at the waist to hang down at the back, and a chest piece that looks almost like armor on the front. The pieces, made variously of leather, cloth, and wire, are painted in shades of blue, green, purple and gold over black male clothing. The seahorse arrives alone, and seeks drink first.

Another masque'd party-goer appears not far behind the seahorse, or perhaps has been there, drifting quietly, for some time. While her attire is elaborate, the guest herself is a quiet presence, thus far coming into contact with no one and lingering instead near a statue of the Maiden. Veils of alternating white and the palest blue drape down, ethereal, from a delicate crown that looks like coral and iridescent spiral seashells, over her face in so many layers it seems almost unlikely that she can see through them, though the faintest impression of a face exists behind the misty gauze. The veils part to allow for a flow of hair, or the illusion of it: perhaps a fine yarn, dyed a soft violet and brushed and brushed until it resembles tresses, falling in a long, thick braid over the front of her shoulder, twined with a green vine and a string of pearls and embedded with silver-and-jet likenesses of barnacles made dainty. The theme continues down a seashell and pearl encrusted bodice that eventually gives 'way to white skirts mottled with watercolour blue and hemmed with ruffles to mimic waves and seafoam. Her arms are bare but for bits of jewelry, slender and pale, only awash in soft freckles under the closest scrutiny.

The Eagle Owl starts to drift towards the tree, but her steps freeze as she stares at the rather impressive seahorse. To the tree she says, my, isn't that lovely?"

The Harlequin spins and leaps. «Shall I tell you how lovely you are tonight and how clevely concealled? Shall I tell you how I admire your wit and your lightness of foot? Shall I tell you how I scoured the park for you and that it was well worth the wait just to have this one dance?»

The tree has found herself a drink as well, a mug of ale held in her right hand, as blue eyes drift over the many colorful and imaginative costumes. The seahorse catches her attention briefly, when the tree continues to continue on her casual stroll.

The Harlequin spins and leaps. «Shall I tell you how lovely you are tonight and how clevely concealled? Shall I tell you how I admire your wit and your lightness of foot? Shall I tell you how I scoured the park for you and that it was well worth the wait just to have this one dance?»

Seahorse is served and finds, when he looks up, a couple of masks pointed in his direction. He nods once to Tree and once to Owl to acknowledge their attention, and drifts in the direction of them both, since owl and tree had already been getting closer together.

The Braavosi lady in her shimmering silks carries out her part of the galliard with great aplomb and the occasional timely flourish of the fan held still in her left hand. She hasn't time at once to answer the Harlequin's theoretical compliments to her; but the next time the dance brings them together she drawls, «A respectable shopkeeper transformed into a foreign hussy — I thought it would be obvious, to a clever man dressed as a fool…»

The veiled woman, with waves at her feet, might be watching the pretty costumes and fanciful creatures; certainly, her violet head turns here and there as people pass by, dancing, talking, but it's nigh impossible to tell for certain behind those layers. She drifts slowly from her spot by the statue, but seems directionless, looking like something of a sea-ghost as a result.

Seahorse's attention is noted, and Tree's head shifts, meeting Owl's gaze as she relaizes the nod was meant for them both. "Good eve, Owl," she giggles, in a voice that sounds melodious, while her arms spread, mug of ale still in hand, and Tree begins spinning moderately to the music provided by the musicians..

The Harlequin laughs, his low Valeryan rather piratical, «Ah, but I am rendered a fool by your attractions! What man of sense would not be?»

Dressed in an embroided purple tight fitting crimson and white dress with splendid decolletage a voluptuous fox masked woman enters the masque. Her clothing whilst not of the same quality as royalty might easily mark her as nobility such is its quality. She seems to glide across the event - drawing the attention of random males and females alike. There is something strange about her that keeps any prospective suitors at bay.

Deirdre catches sight of the respledant lady with the purple hair. "Oh!" Here accent is well bred Stormlander. "Look at her!" Emboldened by her mask she asks the seahorse, "Are you escorting her?" She points her beak at the sea goddess. "I think she is quite the loveliest here!" She smiles friendly enough at the spinning tree.

The seahorse looks to Deirdre the owl and then looks back over his shoulder at the beautiful sea spirit with the purple hair. "I escort no one," he replies, in the speech patterns of a noble Reachman. "But indeed, she is a beautiful sight. Perhaps she is the soul of the sea."

Silvery laughter emanates from the Braavosi lady's mask of artificial lacquered composure. «Am I more thoroughly disguised even than I supposed? … One of these days you must certainly tell me what it is you intend by all this flowery talk, my lord,» she adds mildly; «until then it's fortunate for us both I have my feet on the ground.» At present a figure of speech and no more, for the feet in question hardly touch the wooden floor laid over the grass before leaving it again in the galliard's swift and sprightly cadences.

Since there's no sense of facial expressions through her veils, the purple-haired sea spirit bows her head toward the owl — after spinning in place ever-so-slightly, only just overhearing — in acknowledgment or gratitude. She is drawn closer by the compliment, though she stands at a distance as though hesitant. Her attention is, in turn, pulled to the seahorse — it's unclear, unlikely, whether she heard him, however, only tilting her crowned head.

"A seahorse should be drawn to the soul of the sea, I suppose," says the Tree, canting her head just som that her dark brown tresses can rearrange about her shoulders. Her accent… nondescript and oddly so. The commoner accent absent, but devoid of the haughty tinge of the tone nobles usually display. "But to imagine a seahorse could lose its way and land on a tree… highly improbable." The Tree chuckles, spinning further as she dances to the merry melodies played by the musicians, glances given to the Owl, the Seahorse, and the purple haired creature, as the Tree vanishes after a moment in the crowd of other masqued and merry people.

The fox masked vixen pours herself a goblet of mulled wine and merely watches the proceedings. Judging by the quality of costumes despite the professional nature of her own she feels a little underdressed relative to the inspired nature of the other costumes. She shakes her tail and moves to chat with others. "My you are all resplendent in your costumes," she remarks - her accent tinged with a hint of Essos mixed with Westerosi. "I should hardly dare to choose a favorite from amongst you."

Camillo does not dance, but he inclines his head to the Tree. His expression is rather hard to see behind his mask, but perhaps it is a smile. "Then," he says, "The Seahorse would be on land, but yet very much at sea." He opens an arm in a broad gesture when Fox speaks. "Oldtown is devoted to her masques."

The Harlequin jiggles his bells then works a bow into his steps, «Why leave to court you. Why else would a man ask a woman to a ball and speak flowery words to her?» his tone is galant, rather than mocking. He might actually mean it! «Your pie gave much pleasure, might I say. You were good with him.»

The Owl grins, and tells the seahorse "Perhaps…." and the tree, "Indeed." Then she gives a curtsey to the Heart of the Sea, "I fear the rest of us are all pale shadows to you…." Her dark eyes seek out a hint of feature, but are thwarted by the silks.

Breaking away from the inquisitive look — if it can be called such, so hidden — toward the seahorse, the sea spirit inclines her head toward the fox, as one would in the prelude to a curtsey; a gracious move, yet even without expression seems to compliment the other costumed woman, too. Her silence marks the purple-haired lady as either mute or as hesitant to reveal a telltale voice as she is her face, but the owl's words draw forth a touched, "Oh," and adamant shake of her head.

There's a pause before the Braavosi lady answers her partner: «… Why indeed,» she offers in a perfectly neutral tone, just as the figures of the dance separate them again. The lacquered mask, the foreign tongue, her bold and courtly manners of the evening, all contrive to conceal her true sentiments from he who has such a self-confessed interest in them. And even the next time they're brought within speaking distance, as the dance ends, she is silent — she only sinks into the curtsey proper to the moment, her posture steady and her back ramrod straight, her fan held closed in her left hand.

The Fox woman curtseys to the group politely. "Yes the masque - a unique opportunity for everyone to be strangers. But I have always thought it also an opportunity for people to be themselves. Masks being less occluding than the ones we wear across our bare faces." Canting her head, "But such semantics are boring. Does anyone care to dance?" the vixen asks.

The Harlequin bows deeply. «Would you care for refreshment, My Lady?»

Esme's clever black eyes regard him through those tiny holes in the Braavosi lady's impassive mask. «… I think, after that, I might like to sit down,» she concedes smoothly, though she may be referring to the vigorous exercise of that rather extended galliard, and not to any personal astonishment.

The surprised 'Oh' earnes a wide and dazzling smile from the Owl, "It is so hard to make friends here and it is nice to have someone to talk to when one isn't dancing." her teeth are large, but healthy. She smells of violets. He nods politely to the vixen, "I would, but there seems to be a shortage of partners…." She gazes at the Seahorse rather pointedly.

Seahorse spreads his hands and shakes his dragon-head. "How can one choose between promising partners without doing offense?" he asks. "Besides, I think any partner would be disappointed in my skill."

Multiple sets of eyes go to the seahorse, even those that can't be glimpsed behind veils, as he seems the only obvious answer to the vixen's question in their present circle despite his words. The silent spirit of the sea only nods her head again to the owl as if to agree, stepping alongside her in some manner of friendly accord between (apparent) strangers.

The Harlequin bows deeply to the Braavosi Lady and offers her his arm, perfectly correct. «As you wish. I… want to make clear my interest is personal and not… otherwise.»

The Braavosi lady's right hand anchors itself cautiously in the crook of the Harlequin's arm; her fan flutters in her left, keeping up a frantic but steady little breeze as they drift along one of the garden paths in search of an unoccupied bench. «… I do think I believe you,» she admits, after a pause. She bows to an acquaintance in passing in a grand manner at odds with her subdued and thoughtful tone when answering her escort. «But you must know it has been rather a while, since I had occasion to consider such matters.»

The Owl cocks her head and studies the now disappointing seahorse. She turns to the Heart of the Sea, "Perhaps you and I might show him how it is done?"

Everyone is fixing the Seahorse with expectant or disappointed looks. He inclines his head with respector likely apologyand takes a step or two back from the group.

The veiled woman pauses as though frozen for an instant before giving a soft laugh — sincere surprise and amusement rather than borne of any chastisement toward the seahorse who doesn't dance. She brings her hand up to her covered face as if to halt the laughter before it becomes too much. "Ah— " she ventures as if to speak after all, but decides against it; still, that mere syllable is agreeable enough when she holds out a hand to the owl whilst her head is turned toward the seahorse.

The Owl eyes the Seahorse as well, even as she takes the other woman's gloved hand in hers, "I'll do the man's part. You'll want to try copying me…. Bother. This would be so much better with a forth person, as it would give you a better idea how it works and we could do the partner changes properly. Then she fixes her large, friendly eyes on the veiled woman's face. Puts her free arm behind her back and bows in imitation of a gentleman, as best she can in her corset, lifting the other woman's hand to give a theatrical kiss to the knuckle. Dropping her voice in imitation of a man's, "May i have this dance, Milady?"

Trust the Dornish to take off more than they put on, when arraying themselves in costume. A lady showing long, smooth, muscular, caramel-coloured arms and even a portion of her firm abdomen, between baggy trousers of peacock blue silk gathered at her ankles and a rather minimal 'blouse' of the same cloth elaborately embroidered with tiny glass beads — far from her first youth and yet with good reason to be comfortable as she is! — soon approaches the would-be dancers and their reluctant partner. Her half-mask of the same bedizened blue silk is edged with blue and green and golden feathers, sweeping boldly away to tangle in her masses of silvering black curls, already escaping from the low tail they were pulled into. Dozens of fine golden bangles chime about each of her wrists; and in each hand she holds a cup of wine.

Her passive expression becomes a smile as she espies the Owl, who has just risen from her bow; and it is to that lady she offers her superfluous cup. "I thought by now you might be thirsty," is her greeting. "And that coming so late I might need to purchase forgiveness! … But don't let me interrupt."

Camillo only realizes now that the women are set on giving him a lesson. He doesn't seem much to want it, but hesitates to be so rude as to walk away. He just stands there for the moment, no aping of movements whatsoever.

A giggle contained into a muffled noise emerges from the veils as the other lady affects a deeper voice, and the quiet sea spirit looks back and forth, with gentle turns of her head, between the owl and the seahorse, uncertain — but whether the reticent seahorse is truly a part of the scheme or not, she's a good sport, gripping the owl's hand lightly and with a half-curtsey, from which she rises as well just as the feathered woman approaches.

Deirdre's smile and tone are one of real delight, "Ynys! Your timing is brilliant! we need a forth to make up the figure. Do convince our fine seahorse here that he ought to join the dance!" She turns a similar smile on the veiled Lady, "I am Deirdre Trant, by the way. I suppose we haven't been introduced."

Lady Ynys — (for the lady displaying a generous percentage of her midriff, though at least no cleavage, thank the Seven) is she — looks from the ladies to the seahorfe, her eyebrows lifting beneath her mask and her lips curving further below it. "I'd like nothing more than to dance," she declares, drinking again thirstily from the cup of wine notably the less full of the two; and immediately she looks about for somewhere to put them down out of the way of anyone's feet. "Only tell me who my partner is to be, Dare — I'm certain you must have arranged it all already," she teases. The cups disposed of (well, if they're not still there later, someone else's need must have been greater than her own!) she offers a like greeting to the veiled lady: "Ynys Trant," she explains briefly, a novel combination of a Dornish name and a Stormlands one.

Camillo now has no good way of escaping, but he stands by mute even so. When it comes to the dance, she may end up suspecting that her friends have set her up with a joke partner. He finishes his drink and reluctantly surrenders the cup.

The sea spirit shakes her head, but this time does dare to use her words, politeness getting the better of her over remaining so silent. "I suppose we have not," she says, light and airy; her politeness does not extend into introducing herself in turn, however. "But it is lovely to meet you," she tells both women. Her voice is without any particular accent except that of the well-spoken Reach nobility, its distinctively sincere character unfamiliar to the Trants— but perhaps not to everyone.

Deirdre answers Ynys, while gazing at the veiled Sea Godess, "This Fine Lady has agreed to be my partner, and I'd hate to disappoint her." Her tone is jolly and a touch mischievous. "Perhaps lord seahorse here would dance with you when he would not with us?" She herself is newly arrived here and has never been out of the stormlands before so hasn't a chance of guessing. She nods acquiecence at her dance partner not identifying herself, and does not press. There are a million reasons one might want to hide under a veil and gibve no name, after all.

The seahorse makes a bow in the direction of Ynys Trant as the Owl demonstrated earlier, but that is already the extent of what he has learned. Despite the affectation of an upper-class accent, his total lack of dancing knowledge shortly to be revealed will surely shatter the illusion that he is anything but smallfolk.

For Lady Ynys the dolphin festival has been a time of saying 'yes' rather than 'no', of taking full advantage of her widowhood to do all those things that would not have been strictly proper within the set of compromises long ago agreed upon between the late Lord of Gallowsgrey and his bold Dornish lady. "All right!" she decides, offering her hands to the seahorfe. "If you don't object to my goodsister deciding your fate as she does mine…?" She doesn't seek to disturb the secrecy of the sea spirit's veils with anything but a friendly smile and an inclination of her head. The lady must have her reasons.

The veiled sea spirit stands with Deidre, poised to dance, but lets the owl lead the way into the music first, as deigned. "I hope we do not overwhelm our fine sea creature," she confesses, even quieter still, sincere in that too, but delight nevertheless present in her voice. She squares delicate shoulders. "Or me," she adds, "Are there any different steps, in the Stormlands?"

Deirdre takes up the Sea Goddess' hands and steps leads her into place, orienting by the position of her Goodsister and the beknighted seahorfe. She flashes a delighted grin at all three of them, "It's been nigh a year since last I danced!" He looks as sheepinsh as an owl in a half mask can, "I don't know. I've never been out of the Stromlands before…." The couples start face to face on this one, but at soon switching back and forth in between raised hands circles as iff the four hands are touching a pole. It is a traditionsal dance and variations are nearly everywhere in westeros. The Owl opts to go at half speed so they might better coach the beginner.

Camillo takes the lady's hands cautiously in his own. "I don't dance," he feels obliged to confess before they get started. It's hard to tell if he is overwhelmed or not. He doesn't answer that concern. He just obediently plays his role. Even at half speed, figuring out where he's supposed to be going and what direction he's supposed to be facing and what foot he's supposed to be standing on is an obvious struggle. There's nothing of a nobleman's grace, confidence, or learning here.

It is fortunate for the seahorfe that Lady Ynys taught all four of her children to dance, the boys as well as Lady Alysia. They begin together and she rapidly realises he's going to be worse than Gideon, a boy too-amply provided with left feet; and after they separate her eyes follow him wherever he is, putting in such helpful instructions as, "Left, then right — now change places with the Owl — go round her the other way — other hand…"

The veiled lady is light on her feet, even keeping to the slow pace of the dance, an innate airy playfulness to her steps in-between the well-learned art. Every so often the wave-like ruffles of her skirt rise and twirl, revealing her to be wearing sandals - but she aims to be constantly aware of the others' feet, particularly the seahorse's, as the four dance, although there must be a haze in front of her eyes given her many veils. Closer, her features are vaguely defined behind them: a rosy haze of lips, a small defined face, eyes not quite dark enough to pierce the layers. "You've been a teacher before," she compliments Ynys and, when she nears the seahorse on the next turn, imparts softly in sudden familiarity and humour: "I'm so very torn over which is more splendid; this, or the rooster."

Deirdre's tone is teasing, but in a kindly way, "We will be gentle, this being your first time." And she does give him helpful advise in a kindly tone and do her good natured best to make it fun for everyone. The rest of her attention is on the sea goddess, as she knows how well her good sister dances. There is curiousity in her expression, but she is too polite to pry.

"Oh…" the Seahorse says when Marsei makes reference to his previous costume and confirms her own identity for him. But he's a little distracted trying to count and put his feet down in the proper order at the proper time. "I…am not being very splendid…" His shoulders hike a little at another correction. The previous attempt at noble bearing is now wavering quite a bit.

The Dornishwoman's loose silk trousers lend an unusual quality to her curtseys, and certain of the other steps the dance demands; however she moves in them lithely, confidently, sure-footed in her own thin leather sandals and with an occasional instinctive sway of her hips in answer to the music's suggestions. "I have children, my lady," she explains to the veiled sea spirit. Altogether she seems amused by her partner's inadequacies, yet generously so; she gives his hand an encouraging squeeze the next time, at her direction, he takes it. Rooster…? These two, she concludes, must know one another. A lady and her guard, incognito in order all the more subtly to protect her—?

"I had instructors … and sisters, for such lessons," the sea spirit says in reply to the Dornishwoman — pointing out, still with a tone of compliment, that being a mother isn't always a synonym for dancing teacher."You are too hard on yourself," she declares, then, to the dancing newcomer among them as they all swirl about to the tune (mostly). "Seahorses are known to be excellent dancers once they catch the right wave!" She pauses in her words to innocently consider that she doesn't, in fact, know a great deal about seahorses. "I think."

Deirdre says firmly, "Oh, but your costume is splendid and once you get the rhythym of it, I'm sure you will dance beautifully, as the Sea Goddess says!" Her eyes do flicker in a way that she might also have her guesses, but her manner stays as it was. To her own partner she adds, "I've children too. This is my first time away from them but… I couldn't stay there. Not after everything, and I did always want to travel. It is so beautiful here."

The Seahorse is a bit skinny for the average guard, though he could perhaps be one of those swordsmen with deadly blades. He doesn't do a lot of swirling for his own part, but gets closer to walking in the right direction at the right time. Still rather far from enjoying a dance with abandon. /Rather/ far. Despite the women's patience, he seems tense. He nods vaguely at Deirdre's encouragement.

"But I like to dance," argues Lady Ynys, as justification for her personal attention to her children's lessons, "and don't we always learn best from those we most wish to please?" Leaving the others to infer the happiness of her family life she turns again to the Seahorfe, who seems to be counting well enough now at least to get one and one to add up to two. "That's much better already," she points out to him, giving a solid estimation of his progress to date in lieu of bubbling optimism for his future; "you're improving much faster than my third son… Keep concentrating as you are, and your feet will come to know the right rhythm, I think."

"Oh— I am sorry for what brought you here," the sea goddess imparts to her owl partner without prying to what, exactly, it was, "but I am glad you like it. I do so love all of the Reach, and Oldtown most of all," she says with a sincere home-grown pride. She takes her attention off the seahorse for the time being as the dance goes through its steps; he already has enough on him, given the lesson.

Deirdre studies the cipher of the veiled face dancing opposite her, "It is kind of you…. I really did need a change badly after everything and I did not fancy moving back home under my father's eye. i'd been gone to long for that, thought it is always good to visit. I… wanted a bit of adventure I supose. And distraction…. Did you see the sea races? All those boats!" The measure winds towards it's close.

The seahorse bobs his dragon head again, but too much concentration is yet required for conversation. Or else he just doesn't want to draw further attention to himself. He does his best to ride out the song until it's over.

Lady Ynys has one ear on the conversation between the other ladies, and an occasional secretive smile when Lady Deirdre speaks; but she still speaks chiefly to the poor Seahorfe, suggestions and corrections and reserved compliments offered in the spirit of a) generosity and b) knowing it's almost over. The dance ends with the two of them hand in hand again, another bow, another sinuous silk-trousered curtsey; and she steps nearer, marvelously fragrant of some honeyed, spicy scent worn by no other woman, to clasp his forearm instead and whisper sincerely, "You did bloody well for being caught out."

"I love the Dolphin Festival, but the water contests make me a bit nervous," the woman literally dressed as a depiction of said water confesses. "But what luck you've come in time for the festivities!" she reverts to a rejoicing tone. The song ends and she curtseys to her owl-faced partner and frees her hands to hold them out as if in triumph, a well done to them all, even the searhorse.

Deirdre bows to her partner, kissing her gloved hand lightly once more, releasing it without trouble when the Goddess pulls away. The Eagle Owl then turns a kindly eye on the much abused Seahorfe, "I am sorry to have imposed so strongly on you. I just… was excited to be out in the world again. I certainly owe all three of you drinks, I think, by way of apology. You danced valiently Lord Seahorfe!"

The Seahorse doesn't quite known how to respond to that whisper. His gesture is some illegible combination of a nod and a shake of the head. "Sorry for the, uh…" he murmurs, but then takes a step back from the kind noblewoman and her exposed skin and honeyed scent. His eyes move uncertainly amongst the ladies and his body language suggests he /may/ be preparing to bolt. But then Deirdre has him. "No, I… It is only unfortunate that you could not find a better partner," he says, trying to settle back into his previous way of talking even though there's really no fooling anyone who saw him dance that he is a nobleman.

It is with the intention of reassuring the Seahorfe that Lady Ynys points out to him in a friendly purr, "I'll find plenty of partners before the night's over, don't worry — I'm glad if I could be of help to you meanwhile." One of the large liquid dark brown eyes set in her beaded and feathered blue satin mask winks at him; she steps back, not coincidentally ending up close beside Lady Deirdre. "Thank you for saving some of your excitement till I arrived," she teases; "I was a little afraid you'd have seen it all and done it all and conquered it all, and you'd have no use for me anymore."

The sea spirit was warm throughout the whole dance, but now that it has ended and she steps back, there is the slight return of shyness and hesitancy slipping back into her demeanor; perhaps the seahorse's urge to bolt is contagious. Instead, she steps in beside him and takes his arm, as a lady might a lord; he may be no nobleman, but she deems it not to matter, in this instance. "You do deserve a drink, and to escape us all," she says buoyantly, seeking to lead him in the direction of the drinks being served nearby— or where she imagines it is, sharing (without actual complaint), "Looking through this is … what I imagine trying to see through a snow storm is like."

The Owl kisses her Good Sister fondly on the cheek, "It is not really a dance without you to make it jolly." And Deirdre being Deirdre continues to pretend that Camillo is successfully carrying it all off. She scoops up her drink and offers it too him, eyes down and all demure, much like the deer she physically resembles when not dressed as a bird of prey. "It really was kind of you to let us impose on you." She gazes at the Sea Goddess, "I _did_ enjoy dancing with you very much…"

The Seahorse is a little overwhelmed. He has just danced his first dance since a peasant round at the age of fourteen, a noblewoman is winking at him, and then another noblewoman has him by the arm. Of course, it is in one sense more comforting that he knows the latter, but in another sense very strange to now be arm-in-arm with her. But he's happy to head toward drinks. And Dierdre is handing him one before he can even go about it himself. He takes it and dips his head gratefully. "Thank you," he says. Probably to all of them, for their various kindnesses.

When the Lady Owl kisses the also-feathered Dornishwoman the latter's hand slips round her waist for a moment, in an encouraging sideways hug. Then she bends lithely to rescue her own cup of wine and reduce its contents by a couple of quick gulps, and hands what's left to her goodsister in case her charity has left her with too urgent a thirst. "I'm very glad I came," she admits. "To Oldtown," she clarifies for the benefit of the others, "for the first time in many years… I make my home once again in Dorne."

The sea spirit whirls about, rerouted — delicate in movement, not knocking the seahorse about in the process, slipping arm from arm. "You danced wonderfully, Lady Deirdre," she says, at once perfectly cordial and earnest both. "I should not … stay long," she says, dipping her disguised head not unlike her sea creature counterpart before addressing them all, "Thank you for the company."

Deirdre curls her own arm around her Goodsister's waist as she takes the cup and drinks a share, a twinkle in her eyes. "Think nothing of it, Ser Seahorse. You have been very kind." She flashes the Dornishwoman, "It wouldn't have been a proper celebration without you here, and I did so want to show you my little house…. They tell me the woman who had it before us left to marry a Lannister, can you imagine?" Then she is smiling warmly at the Spirit of the Sea, "It was truly a pleasure meeting you. Thank you for dancing with me."

Camillo takes the opportunity of conversationand the loss of the sea spirit from his armto drink deeply from his cup. He only has to adjust his mask slightly to manage it.

With the owl's wing curled about her, talons resting just over the embroidered waistband of her trousers, Lady Ynys gives her another wry, fond smile and then looks up to the sea spirit in imminent danger of evaporating. "It was a pleasure to meet you, my lady. I hope you'll be bold enough to greet us if we meet again when you're out of your veils… Good evening to you." Then, when the lady has left them, she succumbs to her goodsister's obvious wish to take advantage of their proximity and whisper to her. She listens, gives a very small and lazy smirk, and returns without hesitation a confidence of her own.
You whisper, "Isn't it funny even we can't resist the feminine mystique?" to Deirdre.

Deirdre gives a warm, full throated laugh at her Good Sister's confidence and nods a yes. To Camillo she gives another inviting smile to show it is not him she is laughing at, but herself, "So dancing is not your pleasure, and your Sprite seems to be escaping. what shall you do now?"

"Find spirit in drink," Camillo returns, lowering his head a litle. "And try again to be other than I am." But the words are not delivered too darkly. Perhaps there is a tone of sheepishness, but the Seahorse also sounds good-natured in return for the lady's kindness.

"Be only what pleases you," suggests his erstwhile dance partner, holding companionably to her feathered friend, turning her catlike smirk from Owl to Seahorfe; "whatever that may be… it isn't a night for anything else."

Deirdre's look is kind, "I think you were very gentlemanly tonight, whatever else you might be, and you've done nothing to be ashamed of, and all of this is revelry intended to please the Mother, to celebrate her."

Camillo bobs his head. "May I and the city receive her blessing," he says of the Mother. And he drinks again. "And…have the two of you further plans? More dancing?"

The Dornishwoman in the disquietingly brief… blouse? Bodice? Garment, lets out a low laugh. "Oh, I hope so… but I wouldn't call it a plan. My goodsister and I," she nods to the Owl, "are taking pleasure at present in being open to whatever our lives bring us, and whatever the gods send us."

The Owl listens to her friend talk with rather a twinkle about her dark eyes, "Tonight we dance, drink, and make merry and what happens, happen!"

Camillo drinks once more to empty his cup. "I hope only good things will happen," he bids them genuninely, then retreats toward some other sector of the party. A little farther, this time, from large groups of dancers.

It's Lady Ynys's wish now to create a smaller group of dancers. Two seems about the right size. And, her empty cup abandoned, she takes her goodsister's hand and leads her into rather a swifter dance, in which they're evenly matched and without seahorfes to consider. The evening's amusements begin in earnest.

Long skirts tucked up enough to free her a bit, the Eagle Owl's feet move quickly as she follows the other woman's lead. Aqparently she has not taken much drink as her steps are crisp.

The spiced wine on Lady Ynys's breath (a charming amendment to the spiced honey of her skin) suggests she has been partaking of all the masque has to offer; but she remains sure and strong and swift, a born dancer as well as a born swimmer, fighter, horsewoman… "Isn't it lovely," she murmurs to her goodsister beneath the music, "to be so often stretching our legs, now?"

The party has been going on for some time now, and those just arriving for the first time are probably fewer now than those sneaking off. But there is a new arrival of note: a petite and pale woman outfitted elaborately as a peacock, with lots of geninue feathers both on her headpiece, her gown, and the fan she carries. Just behind her is a red-haired woman in a less splendid but fine-enough costume of a female cardinal, with brown and red feathers on her mask, though not on her dress.

Deirdre smiling, whispers something to the Dornishwoman, then throws herself further into the dance, cheeks flushed with the excertion and smiling delight on the level that that of a run away ex-Septa on a spree. In the end the eagle owl, is breathless, clinging to her blue gowned friend's arm as she tries to catch her breath. she spots the othe birds and waves her wing cape on a companionable whim.

Of course it's then Lady Ynys's obligation to meet and match her goodsister's energy and her joy; she answers that whisper only with a wide smile and an insistence upon twirling the smaller woman, more than once, and before the song is done and they are a fine film of perspiration glows upon her the caramel-hued skin of her throat and decolletage. She laughs and gives Lady Deirdre another casual hug in their pause for breath, her eyes searching for the nearest source of wine and falling instead upon another pair of bird ladies. She too is sufficiently intrigued to offer a wave.

Aelia hops. Peacocks may not hop quite so much, but Aelia does hop. A bird is waing to her! She throws up both her arms, to quite dramatic effect with the feathered capelet around her shoulders. She moves immediately in that direction, mouth smiling broadly beneath her half-mask. The cardinal follows.

Deirdre gives the approaching birds a bright smile, "Lovely evening isn't it? we were just going to look for some wine. Would you care to join us?" Birds of a feather ought to stick together after all and the safety of a mask encourages boldness.

"Yes!" Aelia agrees immediately, about the loveliness of the evening and the prospect of joining two feathery ladies. "I usually do not go from the house at night! But this is the most music there has ever been! You are wonderful birds!"

The peacock is in colours which might have been chosen to compliment Lady Ynys's vivid garments and the blue and green and gold of her own feathered mask. ""But the most wonderful bird has only just alighted," she insists, an amused and crooked smile tugging at her lips; "my lady, I do admire your fine feathers." And with a hand at Lady Deirdre's back, and the other open in a gesture, she endeavours to herd the flock towards the trickling sound of the nearest fountain, which she seems to recall is wine tonight and not water!

Deirdre nods and scoops them some all some white wine to sip. When all are handed out amoungst the feathered ladies, "You do have loovely feathers indeed! I think you are by far the fanciest bird I've seen tonight!

Aelia takes in Ynys's similar color scheme with great attention. "You are very beautiful, too! We could be in the same flock!" She follows easily where she is led and takes a cup, smiling at Deirdre. "I am a peacock," she explains.

"A peacock… of course. I am… whatever kind of bird flew in at the last moment," explains Lady Ynys gravely, but with a twinkle in her eyes, "and could only find one mask she liked that matched garments she already owned." She murmurs her thanks to her goodsister for the wine, and drinks deeply. It's thirsty work, giving dancing lessons — thirstier still, keeping up with Dare!

Miranda reluctantly follows in to the still ongoing party behind a heavyset man in green velvets wearing a leafy mask. She sports a golden domino mask with grapes and cherries which goes well with her blue and gold silk gown adorned with various harvest fruits. The Merryweather's crest is clear, which may tip some to Miranda's identity - but it's unlikely any would recognize the young septa in training outside her robes and with her hair exposed (if demurely pinned.)

Its a remarkably odd woman that half-staggers and half-saunters into the party. For one, she is late, for two, she is burly and wearing the swordbelt of a knight, for three, she has a bears head and, finally, for four, her bottle green dress is shabby and does not go particularly well with the voluminous braids of her beard.

An odd girl that does not seem to be getting asked to dance at any point,though she seems to be doing well on the drinking front, a goblet going in each hand as the Lady Bear sweeps by an unattended table.

Though she has been at the masque for quite some time the red haired fox masqued woman with the impressive decolletage and the alabaster skin breezes through the crowd mulled wine in hand. She passes by the table of the Lady Bear - who is tipsy apparently. "I hope it isn't rude to ask if you are a Mormont?" she asks. Her accent is exotic tinged with both facets of westerosi and Essoss.

"Perhaps you are a honeycreeper," Aelia proposes to Ynys. "I have never seen one. They live somewhere far away. But they are blue or green and sparkling and lovely. They say 'see' or 'pit pit pit' and sometimes they have red feet. But maybe also you are a peacock like me!"

Miranda sighs heavily as she looks to her guardian. "My head is aching and I feel so weary. May we go?" She has barely set foot in the gardens, following the older gentleman as he wanders to get the feel of the remainder.
"You promised me you would attend," he says to the young lady with a frown. "Walking in and waking out is -not- attending. If you had not stalled so long, Mira, perhaps people you know would still be here."

Deirdre's cheeks are shill flushed from their wild dance. She has a well bred stormlander accent. "I've never seen a Peacok before. I'm an Eagle Owl." She smiles at Lady Ynys, "I thought you were the blue bird of happiness…. I don't think I know honeycreepers, though it's a fascinating name." She starts, large brown eyes rather doelike despite the Owl mask, "Is that… the Bear and the maiden fair?"

It is true that Lady Ynys's skin has a rather honeyed fragrance; perhaps that's why she appears distinctly amused round the edges of her feathered half-mask, as she looks away from the Peacock to exchange a glance with the Owl. "Perhaps I am," she agrees, "a… honeycreeper? I haven't the red feet," she concedes, glancing down: the same deep caramel as the rest of her, in dark blue leather sandals, "but perhaps there's a Dornish variety with dark feet like mine…"

The Lady Bear, perhaps the offspring of the maiden in the song, or, more likely a burly man in his cousins oldest and most worn out dress, smiles around the bottom of the bear-snout at the fox, his/her beard shaking as s/he chuckles, "I thought this masque lark meant we didnt ask that kind of question?" in a baritone voice thats not quite as far north as the wall, but its a close thing., "But, aye, I am a Mormont, hence the choice o' masking."

Yes, its pretty obviously a burly fellow in drag. Though at least he doesn't stare at the pale skin on display, though less kind observers may put that down to difficult interaction between snout and goblet as he tries to get deeper into his cups.

"Sometimes I am the bluebird of happiness," Aelia assures Deirdre. Then she smiles at Ynys. "They only sometimes have red feet," she agrees, nodding sagely. Is this a character someone is putting on for the masque? Or is she genuine?

The vixen without asking props herself on a seat adjacent the 'Lady bear'. "Hmm - a bold self depricating disguise. Perhaps it merits a confession - have you heard of Gwarm the widowmaker? He is a famous wildling who used to raid amongst other places Bear Island." The small exquisitely curved masked woman continues to sip her mulled wine.

The Owl simple smiles at the Dornishwoman, "Perhaps your sandles are a disguise for the masque. Perhaps you are really a honeykreeper pretending to be a peacock? Oh there's that vixen who missed dancing with the seahorse and thus handing you the pleasure." She smiles brightly enough at the Peacock and her cardinal, "Shall we toast to fine nests and the freedom of the skies?"

"There is a man in a dress. That's absurd." The harvest girl in blue and gold frowns sharply as she runs a hand over her coiled braids. "Or a woman with her hair flopped round into her face so it's a beard." She frowns at her greenman and finds a seat- near the dance floor to watch but not near enough to be drawn in. She looks petulant. He sighs and grabs a goblet from a tray and thrusts it at her. She takes it reluctantly and drinks with a world weary sigh. Someone does -not- want to be here.

Even drunk, the Lady Bear seems to recognise the name, leaning on the table to peer at the vixen through the eyes of his mask for a moment or three, "Is not self depri..Its not that thing its clever, its from a song," stresses the bear, accidentally showing off his own, considerably hairier neckline, "Fucker carried off one of my tenants so we sailed out and burned out one of his rat nest villages." adds the Lady, his tone icy and flat. "Fuckin' wildlings." he concludes, somewhat impolitic, before snatching up one of the circulating wine bottles.

Lady Ynys is willing enough to let the Peacock's eccentricities pass as a determined attempt to get into the spirit of the evening; she glances at the Vixen, drawls a low and cheerfully unresentful, "That woman owes me a drink," and then lifts the cup already in her grasp: "To blue skies and freedom! Even if it be only," she inclines her head to the Peacock, whose tale she as a mother of grown children recognises as 'sneaking out', "for the night."

"Burned out one of his villages?" the woman says canting her head behind the mask. "Well I hope it doesn't put too much of a dampener on things to mention that I am in fact his daughter." She quaffs the rest of her mulled wine. The woman might bear a passing resemblance to the man with her fire kissed mane. But she has a physique that is more that of an expensive coutesan than a wildling. And her accent doesn't sound like one.

"Yes," Aelia agrees, lifting her cup. She smiles broadly. It is difficult to tell with the mask, but perhaps she is in her teen years. She drinks, too, and looks generally delighted.

"Are you two or twenty and two? Stop sulking," the greenman says to the girl- old enough to be her father and likely that based on his tone. "Drink. Relax. I am sure some part of you remembers how to enjoy yourself."

The young woman just frowns at him and takes another drink. She glances at the toasting bird-ladies for a moment before watching the musicians.

After a long evening, the golden statue is no longer very golden and looks like the statue of a communist hero after the revolution. He strolls along, possibly on the way home, and yet looking out to see who else is still at the masque.

The Lady Bear's head cants too, though this is largely to facilitate the pouring of the bottle down his throat. Several moments pass as the contents pour freely,before the bear swallows, looks the vixen over and says, with no great malice, "Your da's a cunt. You seem friendly enough though, we should get along fine. Can't judge everyone by their faithers," though, it should be noted his grip doesn't leave the bottle's neck, as if half-expecting a bar fight to break out.

"A friendlier response than I would have hoped," says the redhead. "I almost agree with you. Though there are worse wildlings than he… was. He is dead now - and has been for many years. Ironically on my account I fear. A punishment for my own offenses." She offers no clarification on this point. "But yes indeed we should get along."

Deirdre plays along gamely enough, not seeming to worry either way. Here she is on a festival night in the big city, after all. There has been wine and dancing and lovely costumes. Who is to say what is odd?" She catches Ynys' eye nd looks amused at the 'only for the night.' Her own are younger, but she is no stranger to the ways of youth. She touches her cup to that of the other revelers and drinks deep, eyelids lowering to enjoy it. When she opens them again properly she eyes the golden man, "I think he was trying to impress a Braavosi Lady earlier…. Oh, Ynys, you missed some hairy northerner in nothing but a strategic patch of greenery earlier!"

The petulant girl frowns in dismay. "The candles on that shrine went out. I should go relight them." Her green guardian lets loose the heavy sigh this time as she hands her mostly full goblet back over. Luckily her green man is not the same one as before - he wears rich velvets and is heavy set as opposed to hairy. "Then I will sit and try to relax, all right," she bargains.

The bear tilts his head again, "My condolen…" he says, before shaking his head, "Sounds like you're best off wi'out him, then. Some folk deserve the dirt." he adds, tongue running away from him. "You a fox?" he asks, guilelessly, "Its a fine outfit an'your dress even fits."

As if on cue, said hairy Northman runs through the party and out into the night, pursued by a pair of older ladies who really should know better. At some point in the festivities, the greenery appears to have been replaced by a gourd.

Miranda claps her hands over her eyes. The man with her just laughs in amusement.

"Well I am a witch in reality - dressed as a fox," the well formed redhead admits. At the appearance of the northman. "Are all parties this wild on Bear Island? Does that make them better at Winterfell?"

The.. and this would normally be a stretch, more conservatively dressed northman, the one in the tight green gown and bear mask, just stares, ".. I do..that was not a gourd," he says,

The blue feathered mask obscures another quirking of Lady Ynys's eyebrows. "Now, one of our beautiful Dornish men in a strategic grape leaf, I'd have regretted missing—" But her gaze lifts to that figure in rapid motion a matter of yards away and she can't avoid a generous eyeful. She shakes her head. "And think of the disapproving looks I've had for wearing this," she remarks to everyone and no one, gesturing with a casual hand toward her cropped bodice.

Aelia does not appear to absorb much talk about Dornishmen and grape leaves. But she stillllll looks like she's having a good time. She looks to Ynys. "Do people not like your feathers?"

The Eagle Owl's eyes go wide and she lets out a laugh as free and clear as a bell at the streaking Northerner, nudging Ynys, "There he goes!" Her tone is fond as she tells her Goodsister, "Let them look. It is a night for impropriety I think." Too Aelia she says, "Her feathers are more daring than mine."

The.. and this would normally be a stretch, more conservatively dressed northman, the one in the tight green gown and bear mask, just stares, ".. I do..that was not a gourd," he says, before turning his attention back to the redhead and smiles again, "I'm sure you're not that bad, lass." He shrugs his shoulders, takes another swig from the bottle and shakes his head, "Last party I was at on Bear Island was a marriage…The folk have money here and can afford to be sillier with it."

The golden statue's eyes widen at the sight of the streaking Northman, but perhaps more to take in the physique than anything else. Trying to distract himself, he looks at other people nearby and catches sight of the lady with the buns and the domino mask. There is something familiar about her, but he can't quite place it. So he stares at her like a yokel.

Miranda kneels at one of the Maiden shrines and carefully lights the candles again. "Dearest Maid, I am sorry we both had to see that," she prays. "I was told it's not that kind of party…"

Her escort sighs and starts to finish off her abandoned drink.

"Not a Gourd?" asks the redhead rhetorically. "Actually I am a sweetheart…" she says smiling at the northman. "Not a conveniant thing for witch haters." Her bright emerald eyes narrow on the Mormont giant, "Are you that bad? I wonder…"

Seeing the lady kneel at the Maiden shrine is the last hint the golden statue needs and he heads over. "Miss Miranda! Mylady!", he greets cheerfully and, since he is not exactly sober, can't resist adding: "Seems your prayer to the Maid has been rewarded and she's sent you a dashing knight in shining armour." He bows to her.

"Not everyone in Westeros," suggests Lady Ynys to the Peacock, "admires Dornish birds, or finds their habits convenient…" But the censure of these theoretical Westerosi seems to amuse rather than offend her: she has had a long while after all to become used to receiving such looks, and the Owl at her side knows well enough that to be amused is often how she manages.

"Aye, I think that man had his cock out," says the bear, before bursting into laughter, "Don't think I could ever hate someone shaped like you, lass. Though I'm sure many shaped like you hate me." he adds after a moments consideration. Then,with a somewhat puzzled expression, he stands up, "If'n you'll excuse me, witchvixen, I must go water some plants." and staggers out to somewhere more private.

Miranda hazards a guess and smiles weakly. "Ser Loryn?" She rises carefully as if unused to the perfectly normal dress she wears. "You look very… golden? Has the party been entertaining?" Outside naked Northerners she means. The greenman pauses mid drink seeing her actually talking to someone. Pleasantly surprised, he takes her abandoned seat by the musicians.

"It just got a whole lot better.", Loryn replies with a warm smile, looking her over, "You look wonderful. Care to dance with me?", he asks, extending a hand with a graceful flourish to her.

"Oh," Aelia says to Ynys, her mask feathers swaying as she nods. "I do not know very much about Dornish birds, but I have seen picture books. You are pretty like the birds in the books." She smiles. "I would like to see more Dornish birds."

"I, ah… Said I would, didn't it," Miranda replies hesitantly. Her currently only link to her usual wardrobe is her ornate jeweled star. Otherwise she looks more a proper noblewoman than a septa, a harvest princess for the festivities instead. "I haven't danced in a long time," she warns the golden statue as she reluctantly places her hand in his.

Deirdre chokes on her wine. When she can speak again she tries to turn the subject, "Are there many Dornish visitors to your lovely city? I've only just…migrated."

"Indeed, you did, and I'm glad I finally found you.", Loryn admits, taking her hand. He pulls her into the dancing area, lit by lanterns, near the musicians and smiles. "Just trust me… I'm not too bad a dancer." Understatement of the day. He doesn't get much right, but dancing he can actually do, so he can steer her through the steps and waltz her around elegantly.

Miranda's guarding father just drinks the leftover wine and motions for more. He actually looks pleased for the first time in the evening.

For her part, Miranda looks terrified- blue eyes wide in her domino mask and a tremor to her movements. Very rusty In her steps but the very graceful partner ensures she actually recalls how it all goes after a few passes. "I almost didn't go," she admits. "But I promised my father. And you. I just didn't realize it was so risque!" Birds with slinky feathers. Men with gourds or lack thereof.

Risque…? Loryn looks set to say something potentially daft but manages to stop himself. "Ah, come on, you know the ways of the Reach.", he finally just smiles good-naturedly, "Warm summer nights and lots of wine make for a heady brew… and many alight on the wings of love." He looks into her eyes a tad bit too long, then steers her into a rather dramatic curve and swing to distract from it.

Lady Ynys turns upon the Owl warmly amused eyes which shade soon into concern; she pats her back gently as she recovers herself, with a hand which then slips further around her into a casual and friendly embrace. "I've met more Dornish here than I expected… Remind me to take you to the Acacia and Leopard Hall one evening soon," she remarks to her goodsister. "It's a true piece of Dorne in Oldtown — I think you might enjoy it," she teases.

Aelia finds that her cup is empty and puts it aside. Her red-haired servant picks the cup up and goes to return it to a more proper place. Aelia loks from Ynys to Deirdre. "Leopards sound very dangerous," she warns.

Miranda starts to retort, "I think love has little-," but cuts off in a startled little yelp as Loryn swings her about. She holds on to him more tightly to not lose her balance-perhaps the desired effect.

Definitely not an unwelcome effect and Loryn's arm tightens around her waist - just to help her keep her balance of course. He doesn't say anything else, though the daft little smile on his face and shiny eyes speak their own tale. On they dance and from time to time he swings her around again, making sure to keep her steady and safe in his arm.

The more modestly dress Owl leans into her Goodsister a little, "Oh! I should very much like to try the food!" She has made a decition about the little peacock, "I will be very careful, but I think it is just a name." She drains her cup and sets it down so she might offer the younger woman her other hand, opening her wing cape as she does so, "My name is Deidre, but they call me Dare." Which is how it's pronounced in her accent whatever the spelling might indicate. "This is my Goodsister Ynys."

Dancing is one of those things that just come back to you after a while. Although unused to her embroidered skirts and boots, Miranda soon starts to let go of her nervous tension and smiles back faintly at the Tyrell as her steps become more graceful.

"Oh, good," Aelia tells Deirdre. "My name is Aelia." She bobs a nod at Ynys, too, but then cranes her neck as her attention is drawn farther off by yet more bird costumes. She starts to get up.

Loryn senses the change in her and it makes him smile. Suddenly another couple - probably not very sober at this stage - threatens to crash into them and he deftly steers Miranda to the side, which unfortunately means, he'll have to press her a bit closer against him to avoid others.

"I think there might be one or two leopards," concedes Lady Ynys with a puckish smile, "as we, tonight, are birds…" And, sensing the Peacock's attention wandering on toward the next delight, she inclines her head and insists, "It was a pleasure to meet you, my lady Aelia. I hope you'll enjoy the rest of your evening of free flight, and be safe in your nest again come morning." An unwittingly fortunate remark, addressed to the young lady in question!

Deirdre looks concerned, "It's liable to get rather rowdier here soon. Are you sure you might not want us to walk you home?"

Aelia is rather distracted. "No, there are other birds," she answers, and is already walking off, rudely neglecting to return pleasantries from Lady Ynys. But her servant comes by to dip her head respectfully to the noblewomen and tend to her charge's safety.

The birds she has already studied with her expert eye return to their joyous flutterings on the wooden dance-floor, Lady Ynys reminding her kind-hearted goodsister that two girls together can come to much less trouble than one alone; and so the masque whirls and staggers onward past dawn…

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