(123-02-28) Dolphin Tournament
Dolphin Tournament
Summary: The crowning (as it were) moment of the Dolphin Festival is the tourney in honour of the Mother, in which poor knights need not fear losing their arms, and even the humblest smallfolk may find themselves unexpectedly honoured. Spoiler: Lady Marsei Hightower is crowned Queen of Love and Beauty.
Date: 28/02/2016
Related: None
Players:
Dhraegon..Marsei..Malcolm..Esme..Loryn..Brynden..Melysa..Lillian..Flox..

It is a hung over morning for many festival goers, but the tourney flags are flying and the Bastard of Kellington is in his jousting armour up on his ridiculously fluffy Motley, riding before the Smallfolk stands in search of a woman to choose to ask for a favour for his lance.

Up in the Judges box sit the Elder Tyrell, the Hungover Hightower, and a surprisingly chipper Prince Dhraegon with his fair Lady Wife.

The sun is shining bright again and a little woman dressed in a green and orange striped dress, and a headscarf which being green with tiny yellow polka-dots cannot be said to go with the said dress, has slipped out of the red and yellow grocery shop on Oldtown Square to pass a few hours in watching the jousting — and nibbling all manner of naughty treats sold out of trays and barrows. She has another dolphin bread in one hand as she employs her grandmotherly charms (and her grandmotherly elbows) to promote herself gradually nearer and nearer to the lists, where one of her height has some hope of seeing what's going on. This takes time. She's glad she came early enough, but beginning to wish she'd laid in a second dolphin bread.

Among those competing in the joust is once more Ser Loryn Tyrell, by now a tourney regular, albeit not a very good one. He's on his charger, in fine golden armor with inlaid green flowers, but if he is weearing a lady's favour, it's not on public display.

Unaffected by any festivities of previous nights, as always, the fresh-faced Lady Marsei looks as chipper as her husband. She wears a dress of blue-green, embroidered with silver; Dornish silk, though the gown itself is assuredly the style of the Reach. She has, herself, a piece of traditional dolphin bread in hand as she watches the would-be champions and their horses. Catching sight of Loryn, she aims to get his attention with a cheerful, encouraging wave.

The bright colours of the diminutive shopkeeper catch Ser Malcolm's eye and the woman being of the right ge to be flattered rather than horrified by the attention of the bastard knight, he lowers his lance to her, grinning through his open visor.

Prince Dhraegon has his own piece of dolphin bread to nibble, but slides his other hand where he might thread fingers with the Flower of Old town.

Esme peers at the lance which seems to be coming right at the place she's found for herself pressed up against a wooden railing (which she'll lean on later for support, it's very handy) — and looks up at the man behind it with her mouth still full of the tail of her dolphin bread. Then she looks to her immediate left and her immediate right, just to be… sure. She chews and swallows hastily, favouring him meanwhile with a baffled expression. "Me?" she demands in an incredulous tone, for even knowing his habits—!

Ser Malcolm Storm gives her a stiff aproximation of a bow, the best he can manage while trussed up like a lobster and waggles the lance tip at her, giving her his most charming smile and a wink.

Marsei contentedly squeezes Dhraegon's larger hand once her wave fades. She watches Ser Malcolm's approach of the woman in the crowd and comments aside, thoughtful, "I think it's sweet how he always seems to choose one of the smallfolk."

A few minor knights had already been jousting as some sort of warm up for the audience but now the joust begins in earnest and the first pairings are read out by a herald. Among them, it seems Ser Loryn and Ser Malcolm, facing each other.

Dhraegon nods, "It's good for them to have someone to cheer for."

Well, it seems there's nothing for it. To refuse him would make an even bigger tale of it, and a more uncommon one too. Esme furrows her brows at him and then puts on rather a bashful little smile as she slowly dusts her crumby hands upon her striped skirts and… for lack of a ribbon to offer, or a dainty lace-edged handkerchief, reaches for the knot beneath her chin. It's easily unpicked, and then she shakes open her green headscarf with the tiny yellow dots, a thing of rather fine linen which can be folded easily in other ways. Over and over, say, from one corner to another, to make a long and narrow shape thinner at the ends…? Regarding the tip of the lance with some dubiety she gestures for it to be tilted a wee bit lower, please? After all he's a man on horseback and she's tiny. All around her people are pointing and staring and laughing, at the Bastard of Kellington up to his usual stunts.

Ser Malcolm bows again and lowers the tip further to allow her to tie it on, and then he is off to the lists to tilt with the man he once knighted. Ser Malcolm gives Ser Loryn a smile and a friendly salute with his lance as they line up to tilt, Motley pawing at the ground, impatient for the charge.

It's a closely matched joust between the two knights, with several lances breaking without bringing a clear result. But Loryn, perhaps having partied too much the day before, finally reaches the end of his strength and is felled by Malcom's excellent blows. Off his horse the Tyrell topples, scrambling to his feet again quickly to show that he hasn't been hurt. He holds out a hand for Mal to shake.

No matter how many jousts she watches, Marsei always jumps ever-so-slightly when the lances hit their mark — hardly more than a tensing of her shoulders, really only evident to Dhraegon, in his close proximity. Still, she cheers the sport in the spirit of the event, even though she was rooting for her Tyrell cousin, especially since he doesn't seem hurt.

On the first pass, Motley shies at the last minute and Ser Malcolm misses Loryn's sheild entirely, rocking back as the Tyrell scores a solid hit. On the secomd he barely taps the shield. It is much the same for the third pass, except he deflects Ser Loryn's lance. On the forth, he gets a solid hit, breaking his lance. Seeing the result, he raises his visor and salutes his friend with a rueful look.

Two knots as tight as her determined hands could tie them, and two twinges in her shoulder for her trouble — Esme, bare-headed and with the wind stealing at wisps of her grey hair still streaked with brown, watches the succeeding tilt with an unaccustomed anxiety. She's rather fond of that headscarf. When Ser Malcolm breaks his lance she draws in a gasp, worrying more about the cloth than the men, then scolding herself for thinking any such thing.

Loryn walks over to shake Mal's hand, then waves to the stands, an extra-warm smile reserved for his cousin Marsei who cheered him on against all odds. Then he leads his horse off the grounds to sulk somewhere in private.

At this distance from the horses, Dhraegon is fine, but then he often manages to ride in covered carts. He flashes his Lady Wife reasuring smiles now and then and squeezes her hand encouragingly. To be honest, his attention seems more on her than on the sport today, but what can expect from a man so recently wed to a lovely woman nigh half his age?

It seems the squire reties the scarf on each new lance at the hilt, so the precious cloth is not much at risk after the first bout. Ser Malcolm shakes Ser Loryn's hand willingly enough, "Well fought!" It is then the bout between Sre Brynden hightower and Ser Malcolm Storm is announced. The hungover hightower Elder perks up at this. The Elder Tyrell grumbles sourly about how knights these days are not what they once were.

Turning to chat with Dhraegon in the small lull between bouts — "Perhaps we can visit the shrine in the Oldtown Square on our way back," she suggests — Marsei's vague interest in the sport is boosted when another of her cousins is announced to face off against Ser Malcolm."Ser Brynden!" Marsei cheers; she doesn't shout so much as raise her voice slightly, and it carries more for its sweet high tone than its volume.

Prince Dhraegon is not much noted for his attendance at Sept, but he nods agreement. We might light a candle." Her cheer has him turning his head back to watch the Knights square up.

Pausing as he's called forward again, Brynden moves into position, studying his opponent rather carefully for a few brief moments. There's a brief glance to the stands, before he goes through his last rituals of preparation now.

Malcolm gives him a respectful nod and saute with jis lance before closing his visor. Even Motley is lest restive, some of the high spirits ridden out of him.

It's been a long, long time since Brynden has done any jousting, and he is quite rusty. While he may be getting in some hits, he takes quite a few of them as well, but manages to stay in the saddle. For each round this goes on, his movements in the saddle go a bit slower, but he keeps on.

Motley definately seems to have calmed down. Ser Malcolm breaks his lance on the first pass, and the second, the brightly coloured scarf carefully tied at the hilt of each new lance. Alas for Goodwife Esme out in the front of the Smallfolk stands, for the finl pass is so much less impressive. Motley sidesteps at the last minute and his lance goes wild, though he does deflect the lance of the popular hightower jouster.

Glaring daggers at the Grumpy Elder Tyrell, the Hungover Hightower Elder sets about argueing points. The infamous Clown Prince gnaws on his dolphin tail, rather cowed by the vehemance and spit flying between the old rivals at the lists. however, the evidence of the lances is clear, and the two grumpy knights eventually subside into a glaring contest. Which ileaves it to a noticably nervous Dhraegon to to stand up and announce in stilted and quavering tones, "Ser Malcolm Storm wins the Dolphin joust by a single point!"

"Well done," Brynden offers to Malcolm, before he dismounts and moves a bit to the side. Keeping quiet as he looks around, he watches the crowds a bit absently now.

The little smallfolk woman who donated that garish favour to Ser Malcolm Storm maintains her position up against the barrier, far longer than she'd intended to stay — for she feels obliged now. As her headscarf is transferred from lance to lance and she counts, she can't help counting, how many have broken, she thinks, she can't help thinking what she's going to say about this when she's asked. For she'll certainly be asked. And, indeed, she's so busy trying out various phrases in her mind's eye that she almost misses the denouement! … But when cheers arise all about her in the smallfolk stands for that perennial crowd favourite, Ser Malcolm Storm, her gaze tightens upon him and she remembers to call out a delighted: "Oh, well done!" Her words are lost in the noise. At least her lips may be seen to be moving.

Draegon gazes at his Lady Wife rather like a drowning man gazing at the rope cast from a passing ship and sits down quickly and with relief. Two Squires carry out a small chest with the prizes. First Ser Loryn Tyrell is awarded a large Silver and garnet Dolphin pectiral necklace. Next the Herald offers Ser Brynden the second prize, the same design in Gold with small rubies for his Lady Love, and a small purse of coin.

Malcolm quietly congradulates Ser Bryden on his Lance work and waits with some worry for the time he must yet again choose a winner and make some sort of speech.

Taking the offered prize, Brynden smiles momentarily, offering a brief smile of thanks. Looking to his prize, he frowns momentarily, before he turns to watch the events at the front, quietly.

Finally, a rather alarmed and now helmetless Ser Malcolm steps forward to recieve his prizes, a large purse, a Dolphin tiara, and the right to name this year's Queen of love and Beauty. At least this time nhe isn't seriously concussed and weak from blood loss. He keeps glancing towards the tents as the purse is handed to him first. At the last minute, Blanchet, former Kellington servant and now popular food cart vendor in old town square rushes out and hands the Bastard of Kellington a velvet pouch with something heavy in it, which the knight swiftly exchanges for the purse he was just handed. Still looking rather wild eyed, he strides towards the Smsallfolk stands to kneel before the diminutive vision in bright mismatched colours. His distinctive stormcoast lilt is pitched to carry, "For the kind loan of your favour…." Which he offers back, recognizing a favorite accessory when he sees one, "I give you this token of esteem." From the pouch he lifts the Dolphin necklace he won in last year's joust and handed to a different elderly townswoman. Best not to ask why and how it returned to him. He offers it head bowed and with a florish.

"I wonder who will be named the Queen of Love and Beauty this year," Marsei wonders aloud while watching Malcolm, idle (although more interested in this than the joust itself), laying a hand firmly atop Dhraegon's now that he's sitting down again and out of that brief spot of attention. "Visenya made such a lovely one— oh!" She cranes her head to try to get a glimpse of the gift the winner gives to the woman in the stands, something of a pensive smile on her face.

Seeing the fellow approach Esme unknots her hands and smooths her skirts needlessly, and the other smallfolk crowded round her step back variously to give her room and/or to get a better look for themselves. "Thank you kindly, Ser Malcolm," she says, ducking her head but not quite blushing. "I must say I never thought to— but you're very kind, and I'm right glad you won and you weren't wounded. I prayed you'd not be, with my scarf, and I suppose the gods were listening, eh?" She accepts first the headscarf, thoughtfully folded by a squire's hands with the grubbiest bits (courtesy of its falls into the dirt) inside; and then with it clutched in her left hand reaches only tentatively for the necklace with her right. Then she draws her hand away. Then it edges forward again. The poor old dear, hardly daring to meet his eyes out here in front of so many joking observers, doesn't quite seem to have grasped this part of the tradition. She peers down at him with an uncertain expression. "Only if you're sure, dearie," she insists.

Ser Malcolm says gravely, "It is with your favour I won. The necklace is yours to do with as you will, Goodwife. Just remember me fondly in your prayers." The Twilight Storm places the glittering necklace of silvery dolphins and pale blue gems, with a tiny orange-red firegem in its center in her hands, rises, bows to the Townswoman and the crowd in various stands, then returns to take the Tiara in hands, a breif look of desperation crossing his face before he reasserts his best crowd pleasing roguish smile. After a momment of hesitation he strides to the judges stand and kneels before… Marsei Hightower? "Who better to be named Queen of Love and Beauty in the Name of the Mother than a new bride, the Flower of Oldtown, a woman of matchless Beauty and famous for her kindess and virtue?" Head lowered and arms raised with the tiara on it's cushion he waits to see just how badly he messed this one up in his despiration.

Esme's fingers close about the rather pretty necklace and she clutches it as though it might be likely to run away again if she doesn't keep a good grip. "I shall, Ser Malcolm, of course I shall. Thank you kindly." And as he bows to her she hastily effects a bob of a curtsey, silver dolphins trailing from her hand.

Brynden watches in quiet ashe listens to what's being said now, unable to hold back a half-grin as he watches.

After having so recently expressed interest in who would be named the next Queen of Love and Beauty, Marsei is rather invested in staring into the crowd now, smiling from her distance at the old woman with the somewhat familiar dolphin gift; so much that the approach of Ser Malcolm gives her something of a startle, more even than the clangs of the lances earlier. She looks from the knight to the judges in the fleeting moment before he speaks — perhaps he's here to consult with them, surely! — but there can be no denying it when she finds herself faced with his lowered head and the glimmering tiara.

The Flower of Oldtown is awash in a pretty yet painfully sincere blush, summoned by not only the title of Queen of Love and Beauty but the knowledge that so many eyes in the stands are on her all of a sudden. She gives a wide-eyed, somewhat questioning look to Dhraegon before rising from her seat to properly greet the knight. "Ser Malcolm." Her startled look turns sunny and as kind as she was deemed to be - if still overwhelmed. "You honour me too much," she says, "Thank you. It is an honour, too, to meet you at last, after hearing your good name so often and seeing you best so many of my cousins." This, with a good-natured laugh that causes a number of the crowd to laugh along even though most of them can't hear a word she's saying. "I take it as a fine gift from you and the Mother." She bows her red head to Malcolm.

Prince Dhraegon, being Prince Dhraegon, gives one og his unhinged sounding giggles, the rising pitched cackle sounding loud in the momentarily stunned silence.

Ser Malcolm rises, "I was honored to be beaten by your brother in a joust once. Now I am honored to meet you." His own voice is pitched to carry again, lest anyone imagine some impure motive. he rises and places it on her head, careful not to muss her hair, "I crown you Queen of love and Beauty. May your Beauty and Virtue be a model to all!" Then he steps away, bows to the Lady and the judges and retreats hastily to his tent before anything else alarming can occur.

Crowned, Marsei gives the knight a formal curtsey, for show and honour both. "The noble Ser Malcolm!" she says with voice raised as he hurries to depart, clapping her hands to inspire the same among the crowds in hopes of cheering the (bastard) knight in her virtuous footsteps. When she's confident enough that it's succeeded, she collapses, albeit elegantly, back into her seat, giving her prince husband a wide, happy but stunned smile. "Oh goodness," is all the new Queen of Love and Beauty says under her breath.

The congratulatory remarks surrounding Esme in the fenced-off part of the tourney grounds reserved for smallfolk, begin to turn teasing — but to her good fortune the crowd behind soon thins enough that she can begin to make her way out. Bobbing her head and chuckling and saying a word or two about 'luck' and 'the gods' and 'such a nice young man' to anyone who stops her to remark upon her good fortune. Holding the necklace at first hidden beneath the green and yellow square of her headscarf, then bundling it up inside and tucking it all deep down into a pocket, which she then fills with her hand. There. Let's see anyone pick that, when her own hand's got in there first…

Prince Dhraegon, claps along when he sees her doing it, and puts a large, floopy sleeved arm around her shoulder like a cloak when he sits again. He gives his wife a deeply sympathetic look in response to all the attention. Possibly to distract her he says, possibly a little too loudly, "I think the dolphin lady might be the rhubarb pie lady!" Whether it can be heard over the cheering and tossing of flowers towards the judges stand, is hard to tell.

"Oh! I should congratulate her," Marsei exclaims softly, distracted out of her own modesty to peer after Esme, although the woman is long gone from her sight through the crowd.

Dhraegon peers about for the brightly dressed Pie Lady, but she has escaped. He drops his voice, "I bet Flox will know where to find her. He's very clever." And then the Flower Weaving Contest is announced, and Dhraegon gives his Lady Wife the hopeful puppy eyes.

Of course the tourney grounds cover a wide swathe of the countryside beyond Oldtown's walls; and of course with all the grievous bodily harm over (flower-weaving, what'n hell's that?) everyone and his girl is wandering now back in the direction of those walls. Esme's retreat is further hindered by the fact that today, tragically, she's not just another bland and forgettable face in the crowd… Someone who knew where she began and theorised where she was going and plotted an intercept course, could very well follow the progress of her green and orange stripes through the crowd. Thus it is that, still clutching the scarf-wrapped necklace in the depths of her pocket, a small and drab figure of a man catches her eye as he wouldn't anyone else's, and she purses her lips and grants: "Oh. It's you."

Just outside the arena, a small, rather nondescript middle aged man catches up with a diminutive townswoman and murmurs a few words to her.

The diminutive townswoman gives the nondescript fellow a dubious look and, hand in pocket, glancing about at the stream of the poor and the barely-middle class obliged to divert around where they've stopped still together to block the flow, leans in to him to whisper her thoughts upon this.

The greying figure looks amused as their whispered conference continues.

The garishly striped old woman gives the drab middle-aged man a crooked little smile and brings her hand out of her pocket with the scarf-bundle clutched in it. Her left hand takes charge of it and is detailed to keep it safe in her left pocket now, whilst she rests her right hand in the crook of her companion's left arm. Nothing to see here. No reluctance, and no movements more tentative than usual. Just gentlemanly courtesy offered and accepted.

The drab middle aged man in grey looks pleased as he leads her to the arranging table, coincidentally that at which the Childlike Prince and rthe Flower of Oldtown are to be seated, along with a random sampling of children. and assortment of flowers of various weavable types are laid out in easy reach.

Children and unmarried maidens mostly gather for the flower weaving. After all, free flower crowns and it is known everyone who participates gets a dolphin bread. They have special categories for the younger children. It a free family fun sort of thing and there is a tradition that the maidens might crown their beaus. Here and there are older women fond of flowers and even the occational man, though most share a thing or two with Dhraegon as it were.

The little smallfolk woman being escorted into such very mixed company looks once or twice at her undistinguished escort, as though to make certain he thinks it's all right for her to be seated so close to a Targaryen prince and the Flower of Oldtown. She murmurs something to him, and then leans nearer, smiling, to add another remark, before sitting down where she's put.

Dhraegon was very focused on the flowers setout for the crown making, wriggling in his seat with an excitement similar to that of the smallest children at the table. he does keep casting happy glances at his becrowned wife. Then he notices the tiny, colourfully dressed townswoman across from him, "Oh! It's the Pie Lady! My Crocus, Look!"

Lady Marsei gathers some flowers at her setting, but does not sit next to her flower-loving husband just yet. She goes around the table saying hello to the children and maidens, as well as the small smattering of others, lending them kind words and little encouragements and shying with ladylike grace and modesty away from congratulations here and there over being named this year's Queen of Love and Beauty. She seems to have another motive as well, however, looking curiously at everyone she passes as if trying to find or choose someone in particular among them; distracted, when Dhraegon calls out and she notices the "pie lady". "Oh, hello! How lovely. I'm told you were responsible for that rhubarb pie," she says pleasantly, beaming.

A young woman with black hair, a shimmering black dress, and pale skin makes her way through the flower weaving. She's wearing a black masque. Luckily there's a lot of children about, so she's not the shortest person here. She meanders her way toward the tower laden with flowers. She stops there, taking a few flowers and ineptly trying her hand at weaving, it would seem she's less practiced than most of the children here, as her flowers fall apart allmost immediately.

Esme at last retrieves her paw from her pocket (trusting to the company she's in, and her own alert nature, to keep her treasure safe) and clasps both hands low before her as she surveys the flowers laid out so bountifully along the table. "Oh, aren't these pretty…" she sighs. The fellow who escorted her to the table is still hovering over her, murmuring something; she turns her head slightly to deliver an equally covert and nonchalant answer.

Then she's addressed by a great mountain of pie-fancying prince; and she has just time to give him a polite nod and then a small friendly wave, before the newly-crowned Queen of Love and Beauty is upon her. She stands immediately, the better to bob a curtsey. "How d'ye do, my lady," she murmurs, in tones respectful verging upon reverent, her eyes upon Lady Marsei's hem. "His Grace did say he'd like to have one of my pies, and I hope you both liked it."

Dhraegon explained, "I shared it! I like sharing things with my hyacinthe!" The massive Prince is too excited about the event to assault people with hugs, so that is good. "It was the best pie ever!" He smiles goofily at the assembled people, including the new comer in the mask. "I like flowers! And pie!"

Flox steps back and quietly goes to stand behind the Prince in case he gets over excited.

"It was wonderful, truly," Marsei tells the pie-maker with aplomb. "And congratulations on your prize today, mistress. Ser Malcolm is quite generous." From another mouth it might sound patronizing - how generous for the knight, bastard though he may be, to grace a poor smallfolk woman with a gift — but from Marsei's, so sincere and paired with a modest glance down under the honour of the tiara on her head, it's anything but.

A hint of black catches Marsei's attention out of the corner of her eye just then and she spots the woman with the black hair — and her struggle with the flowers. She hesitates for a moment — assessing the woman's attire, perhaps, or wondering if there's a reason she still wears a mask — but she winds up smiling sunnily and circling around the table to greet the stranger. "Hello! My name is Lady Marsei," she says with a sort of innocence as if this is somehow news to anyone, "Would you be so kind as to do me the honour of using your hair in my flower-weaving? I thought I would try something different, you see, and you have such beautiful black hair. I wouldn't prevent you from participating yourself, of course— "

The black-masqued woman drops her flowers and dips an immediate curtsey. "I am sure you will not prevent me from participating my lady, my own fingers are already doing that." She has the accents of Lys in her voice. She straightens from her curtsey and smiles, flashing her dimples to Marsei. I would be honored if you thought me a good canvas on which to practice your art. Should I just stand here, or perhaps sit at a stool?"

Of course Esme takes it as it's meant: they were both offered unexpected honours today from the hand of the Bastard of Kellington, the smallfolk shopkeeper and the great lady alike, and she meets Lady Marsei's eyes then and gives her a shy nod. "Aye, he is that, milady. And rightly so, I think, for I've heard naught but the very best of you. It's an honour to make your acquaintance, milady." She bows her head again, and then when Lady Marsei's attention shifts to the girl in the black dress (who, by now, Esme can recognise at a glance, mask or no mask) she… diplomatically sits down again, and affects to concentrate on her flowers. Not her business, see?

Dhraegon is now busy picking out blue and white flowers he thinks might go well with his wife's lovely dress, face screwed up in concentration, big soft sausage fingerssetting them out in his intended design in advance lest he get confused half way.

"Wonderful!" Marsei, delighted, all but beams at the woman in the mask. Perhaps it's the anonymity of that very mask (and having not a clue who's behind it), the spirit of the event that has smallfolk so near nobility, or the simply the lady's sheer friendliness that inspires her to take the black-haired woman's arm like they're old friends and almost skips her way around the table. "You will come sit in my chair!" Next to Prince Dhraegon, in other words. "I've the flowers all prepared."

Esme's hands gather the brightest blooms within her easy reach, whatever they happen to be. A cluster of red and yellow zinnias further along the table do however catch her eye, being almost exactly the colours of her shop; and after a quick look about to see whether anyone else is interested in them (the answer is 'no') she half-rises from her chair to reach out for them with her left hand. Her gaze rises also, drifting over to the drab fellow standing behind the prince, and then to the black-clad girl whose hair is of such interest to Lady Marsei. The fact that her head gives a little shake as she sits down again with her flowers obviously has nothing to do with anything.

The black-masqued young woman scurries to keep up with her enthusiastic hostess, getting quickly into the chair, staring at Prince Dhraegon, then biting her lip and turning back to face forward once she realises what she's doing. "Do you want me to pass you flowers Lady Marsei, or just sit still and not disturb your work?" She does her best not to look too nervous suddenly in the seat of Lady Marsei. Melysa at least can't botch any more attempts at flower-weaving now she's a canvas, not an artist.

Dhraegon remembers his manners enough to look up from his arranging at the masked woman. He has a deep voice, but his greeting is in the stilted rhythym of a small child repeating a memorized speech. "I am Prince Dhraegon Targaryen. It is nice to meet you." He pronounces his name in the old Valayrian style with the clotted consonents in the beginning. His eyes are such as a pale lavander as to be nearly colourlesss, and as empty of thought as the botton eyes on a doll. He gives her a big friendly smile, the turns back to his flowers. Toungue sticking out a little from the obvious mental effort he attempts to weave the flowers, with about as much sucess as a toddler might have.

Flox gives an amused, "What can you do?" shrug. After all, he's been known to frequent a certain business.

"Oh, would you pass me them? You're too sweet, you couldn't disturb me at all. What's your name?" Marsei replies as she stands behind Melysa, reaching between her and Dhraegon to gather a bundle of flowers, artful little twigs and particularly pretty leaves closer to her canvas. The petals vary from the palest shades to pure white. "Do you mind terribly if I unwind your hair?" She's already running her hands through the dark locks with the familiarity of a lady who has undoubtedly spent countless hours combing and braiding hair.

"I'm Melysa, and please, feel free to rearrange it. I'm sure you'll do a far better job than I." The black-masqued Melysa seems a little tense in the presence of both Lady Marsei and Prince Dhraegon. She reaches forward and picks up some more white flowers, matching the colors that Marsei was choosing - or doing her best to do so. Her head turns just a little and her own purple eyes watch the man at his work.

Anyone watching would assume the drab man was shrugging at thin air, and that the little shopkeeper was peering along the table to watch how other people are going about the business of weaving flowers, and that these two facts had nothing at all to do with one another. It's a quiet pleasure, isn't it, to be in a private understanding and share private communication beneath so many noses… Esme makes a tentative attempt to weave a few stems together, her slow and careful fingers in association with her watchful eyes soon getting the hang of the first principles, though somehow nothing much comes of her efforts.

Dhraegon repeats 'Melysa' to himself very quietly five or six times. The big Prince seems far more worried about his failure to get the flower stems to twine together to notice any tension on the part of his neighbor. He looks over at esme with a hopeful expression, but realises that no help would be coming from that grown up and continues mangling the poor flowers with clumsy fingers. He eventually sighs and gives up, asking esme, "Do you think your son can come out to play soon? Daevon gave us kites as wedding gifts. Mine was a Dragon!"

"Were you at the masque last night? I didn't see you." It seems to be a question with a rather obvious answer, given Melysa's attire, but it's Marsei's way of curiously inquiring about why she still wears the feathered face-covering. She loosens the braids at the woman's crown, looping the ribbon over her own wrist for now, only to start the braids back up again quite similarly; only this time, she reaches in front of her model, murmuring to her to pass this and that; the white petals, delicate pale pink and purple blooms and a flowering vine with little star-shaped white flowers, all to be wound up and embedded artfully in the braid. The result is, gradually, a very literal flower crown that's part of Melysa's hair.

Addressed again by the Clown Prince, Esme looks up from her vague fooling about with zinnias and petunias (colourful and common, much like herself) and nods over the table to him. "That all depends— Dhrae," she says softly, for though it's a little bit public here, people are so busy chattering amongst themselves, aren't they; "you'll have to ask Master Flox about that." A respectful and innocent and gentle passing of the buck, oh yes. "I'm sure it's a very fine kite," she adds, for favourite toys deserve all honour.

"Ooh yes, I arrived late, but could not stay for long. After that it seemed like a shame not to wear the masque that I'd paid so much for, and the matching dress." Melysa passes the flowers as instructed, not always recognizing the flower names, but making her best guess. She can't see what's happening with the flowers, but she can certainly feel herself being rebraided with somewhat more elegance than she achieved herself. "If you were there yourself Lady Marsei I am indeed sorry not to have met you then."

Dhraegon brightens imediately at esme calling him the RIGHT thing. He beams at her, "My Honeysuckle got a butterfly! Isn't that wonderful? Daevon is so nice!" Flox knows better than to interfere with an important tourney competition my helping, but he does select red and white roses, deftly dethorns them and starts braiding them into thin plaits on either side of his Maester's face, the Prince being in white with black and red trim today. Flox does this with a deftness suggesting habitual practice with the dressing of long hair. Dhraegon gives up on his mangles posies and leans back closing his eyes, obviously enjoying having his hair played with. His expression is much like that of a cat getting scritched about the ruff. Flox mentions, "I'm not competing. his eyes beg understanding for distracting the Prince from his frustrating attempt.

"Oh, I— I was not there long either. Your mask is so lovely, I would have remembered," Marsei assures, perhaps pointedly complimenting the mask alone and not the pretty but perhaps daring dress. She secures the braids — here are more, now, than when she started out — with Melysa's ribbon, and adds a few twigs and bigger flowers for height and dramatic effect, and only then pays any attention to Dhraegon's efforts, to which she smiles with knowing amusement upon seeing Flox working on the prince's hair instead.

Esme changes her mind about what goes with what, and picks apart the beginnings of her alleged flower crown, not for the first time, her gaze resting admiringly upon Lady Marsei's work in progress… or perhaps Flox's? It's difficult to say. "That looks right lovely," she claims, nodding to Lady Marsei, but not appending a 'milady'. Then she ducks her head and sees about setting out her chosen flowers in a different configuration.

Melysa doesn't move yet, she's not been told if the work is finished. "I am most grateful Lady Marsei, I can't make three flowers stay together in a chain, or work them into my hair, let along the amount you have braided into my hair. I had intended a cascade of flowers hiding a smaller braid down my back, but my skill with flowers is not even close to good enough. Perhaps next year I might practice and provide some competition." She frowns a little as a thought strikes her. "If I dance, or twirl about I will be leaving a trail of scattered flowers behind me, won't I?"

Flox gives Esme a wink and a rather cheeky smile, "Soon I hope. I've a lovely picnic in the planning." Dhraegon sighs happily and explains to the table at large, "She says he's almost as big as me so we can play tag and things! I hope he's nice!" the Prince's hair has all gone white with age and there are fine wrinkles, softened by fat around his mouth and eyes. Then his eyes open and his expression all transparent concern for Melysa. He pats her hand very gently with a big baby soft paw, 'It's okay, Melya. I'm not very good at it either but it's really fun and the flowers are pretty!"

"Oh— bless you," Marsei says for Esme's praise, but not appending a 'Pie Lady'. "And what cheerful colours you've chosen!" To Melysa, she gives a soft little laugh under her breath. "I'm not certain," she admits. "I suppose that would be the more true test of my flower-weaving skill, would it not? Dancing. Perhaps let's not suggest that to the judges," she falls into a half-whisper as if in conspiracy, all in good humour. She pauses several times in her efforts, deciding she's done and immediately deciding to adjust, remove or add things, but finally holds her palms up. "I think it's done as it will ever be!"

As befits a smallfolk mother when her son's future social engagements with royalty become public knowledge, Esme ducks her head again and gives a shy smile into her flowers before looking up again to Prince Dhraegon. "If Master Flox is sure it's all right," she insists, in case anyone's listening. "I'm sure my son would very much like to play tag with you, aye, and sail boats, and if you'd like another of my pies I'm sure I'd be very glad to make it for you." She is oblivious to the cheery wink. (And has a bridge she'd like to sell you.)

Melysa rises from her set - or more accurately from Lady Marsei's seat and then dips a deep curtsey, first to Marsei, then another to Prince Dhraegon. "Thank you. Perhaps next year the masque party will happen after the flower arranging and be a flower party instead." She glances about, not seeing a shower of petals about her. "Do not worry, I will wait until the judges have judged me before turning cartwheels or backflips. Uh, do I wait about here, or should I present myself to the judges as your work before I go and ruin it all?"

Flox ties off the second braid with a bit of red ribbon produced from his sleeve pocket, and gives his Prince an encouraged squeeze of the shoulder. Dhraegon thinks a bit and adds, "I don't think people mind a trail of flower petals. It is festive!" Master Flox says, "I am sure it is all right. Dhraegon is very careful with the little ones, but it would be good for him to make a friend who won't outgrow him." Dhraegon claps his hands excitedly, "Boats and pie and tag and kites!" And then Dhraegon is up and… Seven help us all, trying to hug his new Flower bedecked friend who's name he remembered and everything!

Though her flower-weaving efforts seem crowned (as it were) with failure, Esme turns a very kindly and not at all troubled smile upon the excited prince; and as he leaps up to find somebody to hug she possesses herself of a few smaller white flowers, and begins to fuss about with those and the blue petunias and a trio of three blue-green zinnias she nudged over to her place earlier on.

"You just stay here-the judges will come around," Marsei tells Melysa, smiling wide. She reaches out once to adjust the flower crown from the front, fussing with it, only to draw her hands back close to her and watch with some caution as her prince goes in for a hug. "How festive of you to say, Flox! Perhaps I'll tie flowers on you next," she says then in a rare bit of joking with the man (though given her and Dhraegon's enthusiastic penchant for flowers, it might not be an entirely empty threat).

The white, blue, and blue-green flowers have come together in a small and pretty enough posy, made with genuine care if not illustrious skill; and with nothing to offer the judges but something indeed for the lady who seems to her the likely winner, Esme quietly pushes back her chair and rises and rounds the nearer end of the table to find the Flower of Oldtown. She awaits notice rather than claiming it, of course, but when that fair creature seems aware of her presence she holds out the posy to her, admitting: "I can't get the hang of the crowns, milady, but you've been both so kind to me…" A sidelong glance to the lady's husband; then she looks back and nods respectfully.

Melysa smiles. "Certainly Lady Marsei, I'd be more than happy to wait for the judges." She stands, not taking Lady Marsei's seat, trying to keep her posture alert and to show off those flowers to best effect. "I do not imagine there is a mirror present, I've no idea what the flowers look like after all." She again takes some flowers from the table and begins to try to weave them into a wreathe of her own, then she's enfolded by Dhraegon. "Prince Dhraegon, not that I would dare object to your hug, but if you dislodge the flowers I'm sure Lady Marsei will use you as her model next." She licks her lips. "Perhaps your skills might be better suited to bedecking a toy ship or kite with flowers and setting it sailing, or strewing the flowers from a kite."

Flox bows politely to the Princess, "I think Goodwife Esme here would be a better adornment for your skillful work. I fear nothing much can be done to spruce me up." Dhraegon, oblivious to subtext and completely trusting of his Lady Wife's fine judgement leaves such decitions to her. His face falls at his rebuff however.

The Septas called in to judge are rather used to this sort of thing during flower weaving contests and are patient about it. Eventually they organize the entrants into categories by age, and fick winners. Marsei's entry wins the adult category by aclamation. The prizes are handed out: dolphin cloak pins for the winners, and dolphin bread for all the runners up. Which turns out to be everyone. Dhraegon squeals happily on discovering that he too has won a piece and goes around hugging other "Second place Winners" at random in his innocent exuberance.

Marsei gives Melysa a rather grateful smile when she so politely attempts to avoid Dhraegon's hug, though it's followed by a fond smile for the enthusiastic hugger not a moment later. "If only it was the day for the artist's contest, I'd ask one to draw your likeness," she tells the woman, slipping in beside her to gesture at the loose flowers and try to show her another way of weaving them together. Lighting her sights on Esme just then, she exclaims, "Oh, you're so kind!" She looks upon the smallfolk woman and her creation as if it's the most beautiful bundle of flowers here, her delight at the gesture is so pure. "And look, it matches my dress," she says, accepting the posy to tuck behind her tiara. "Which was made with fabrics given to me by the last Queen of Love and Beauty!" As if this is somehow fate, and all the more delightful.

She accepts her prize modestly from the septa, glowingly pleased for her dolphin pin prize — for she hands it to Melysa. "For being a good sport, and so patient, please take it," Marsei insists, once again beaming. "And have all the dolphin bread you'd like! All I did was eat dolphin bread while the jousts were on."

Reflecting Lady Marsei's pleasure with a broader smile of her own, Esme bobs another casual curtsey to her — nothing over the top, not for the flower-weaving, which from its very institution has lowered social barriers — and backs away from the lady and her prince. Straight into someone else. "Oh!" she gasps, eyes wide and expression horrified, staggering slightly as she steps away again and turns, all apologies for the drab little hairdresser known as Flox. "Oh, goodman, I'm so sorry! I didn't see you there," she insists, and pats his arm with her left hand and gives a nervous chuckle. "Oh, I am sorry." And she leans in, amused but still fretful, to murmur something to him. Another apology, if the look on her face is anything to go by.

Lillian smiles as she looks about her eyes on the decorations. She seems for a moment lost in her own world as she slowly meanders .. though the bread catches her attention and she grins slightly "ahh bread." she says softly before she looks to Marsei and she tilts her head at he woman "good to see you again."

Melysa takes the pin gratefully. "Thank you Lady Marsei, I'm honored to accept it, when all I did was sit there. Perhaps I could lead the children in decorting toy boats or kites in flowers. Perhaps there might be a special prize for whoever can fly a flowered kite the highest, although perhaps that only next year."

Flox catches the stumbling widow and steadies her, careful where his hands go, very repectful. "It is no trouble." He murmurs something back, expression blandly polite.

The big Prince is smiling vacantly. he has at some point edged close to his wife. On seeing the newcomer, his forehead wrinkles with thought as he tries to work out who she is. She _looks_ familiar after all. he looks to his Lady wife for guidance.

Perhaps that's a whispered reassurance the poor old thing is receiving from the prince's quiet grey minder, that she hasn't made too big a fool of herself after all. Esme draws back and looks into his eyes for a moment and gives a cautious nod, agreeing with or at least accepting what he's said… Then she turns to the prince himself, interrupting his lucubrations with a sincere compliment, delivered close to. "Your hair looks very lovely too, Dhrae," she insists, "done like that with the flowers. I'd best be going now, but it was nice to see you again, and I'm very glad you liked my pie."

Marsei gives Lillian a cheerful wave. "Hello, cousin! Are you enjoying the festival?" To which she herself has been a slightly less forefront figure than previously up until today, in the thick of it. "What perfect ideas," she tells the masked woman, eyes alight; she turns to see if she can capture Dhraegon's attention while he's engaged in his hugging celebrations and finds him close-by. "Did you hear? Melysa suggested decorating kites and toy boats, and a kite-flying contest for next year." She leans in toward him to helpfully inform him of Lillian's identity in a whisper.

Melysa smiles, purple eyes now twinkling under her Masque. "Shall I twirl about now and see how many flowers are still attached when I am done?" she doesn't wait for an answer, spinning about, dress flaring out a little and a few flowers being shed.

Dhraegon responds to the compliment with his biggest warmest smile, "I love flowers and it is nice to look pretty! I like how colourful your petals alwats are." He swoops in to lift her into a hug, though he is above average gentle, what with her size and age. Given the relative sizes, it's rather like a planet hugging a moon. "It is the Best Pie!" He lets the unfortunate victim down and turns excitedly to Marsei, "Flower passagers!" Then he turns back to Lillian, suddenly shy, "Hello Lillian. It is nice to meet you again. "

Lillian smiles to the prince and she tilts her head to him, it had been a while since she last saw the man. Her attention moves back to her cousin, and she gives her a little hug, "I am, though I can not stay long, I have a shipment of cloth I need to examine coming in and you know how I love to be the first to open them." she smiles "I like the idea of kites next year indeed.

Esme fully expects to be swooped up into another of those very wide and generous princely embraces. She submits to it with good grace, her right arm caught in between them but her left managing to slip around his bulk and hang on for the duration. Not that it's long before she's on her feet again, letting out a breathless little sound, chuckling again and patting his arm as he moves along to the next greetings and the next hugs. She casts a glance at his minder, and gives him a cautious nod, perhaps in thanks for having insisted she come along and meet Lady Marsei after all; and then with her hands clasped before her and one last glance over the flowers… she fades away. As much as any woman can in lurid green and burnt orange stripes.

Flox gives Esme the barest hint of a nod back, and the tiniest ghost of a smile touches his lips as he watches her walk away.

Melysa ends her twirling, then once more returns to Lady Marsei. "Lady Marsei, I thank you for your amazing work. Next year I shall certainly try to compete. Perhaps even in flying kites." She dips a deep curtsey. "For now I should leave, with your permission milady, Prince Dhraegon."

Marsei claps her hands together to the tune of a small laugh as Melysa twirls; she's still smiling when she returns her cousin's little hug. "Of course! I admire how busy you keep yourself." She catches a glimpse of disappearing stripes and looks from the retreating Esme to Dhraegon, settling in at his arm now that some of the festivities are calmed down and people of all sorts simply mill about. "I shall look forward to it," she replies to Melysa, nodding her head. "Thank you again!"

Meanwhile Dhraegon has apparently remembered he _does_ know Lillian after all and when the cousins are done hugging, attempts a hug of his own. After all hugs! Then he has his Lady wife on his arm and gazing at her lovingly, "Shall we go home for cakes?"

"The shrine and then the cakes," Marsei reminds. "Or cakes and then the shrine," she amends on second thought.

Dhraegon nods, obedient. "I forgot the shrine. Sorry, My Tulip. Shall we go now?"

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