|Summary:||A dance in honour of the Maiden, and her Day.|
|Related:||Related Logs (Say None if there aren't any; don't leave blank. You have to use full URLs, like http://gobmush.wikidot.com/logtitle)|
The flowers are in full bloom, lanterns line the paths, though they are not lit yet, the sun still being above the horizen. Jongleurs, acrobats, and jugglers stroll the paths. Here and there tables are laid outwith food and drink. Though the dance is open to all, guards have been placed here and there in case of trouble. The Prince Dhraegon targaryen alights from his cart, a massive creature in silks with long hair up in an elaborate arraingement of braids and pins, offering a huge hand to his lady wife.
Prince Dhraegon's lady wife smiles demurely as she takes the large hand in her dainty one and emerges behind him; an expression directed at those Marsei glimpses upon setting foot outside the garden, not to Dhraegon, who earns a fonder, closer smile. Her red hair falls free in soft waves, save for two braids pinned at either side of her temples. She holds the elegant, freely flowing skirt of her gown as she steps onto the cobblestones. The fine fabric has been dyed in a shade similar to sapphire, if more muted, while the bodice is pristine white and tailored close, the neckline spacious without being immodest. There is room at her slender throat for a rarely worn necklace, a sapphire set in silver so fine and shined that it is nearly transformed into a mirror. "I hope it is a relatively quiet party," she ventures, indeed, quietly.
A white haired man in fine blue gray linen with matching hose and rather a lot of wrinkles takes up a flute of red wine and scans the crowd.
A young woman makes her way into the gardens, separating from her little entourage of maids and guards, she has honey-colored hair done up in pins and combs tooled with little flowers of gold and green and a circlet of tony flowers or ruddy gold with small enameled free leaves, her eyes are a pale amber color. She's come dressed in the colors of the Tyrell house - gold and green.
The customs of such an ancient port city as Oldtown dictate hospitality to foreigners… provided they've coin in their pockets. Thus the Maidenday Dance, in common with all other local festivals of note, is decorated by a smattering of persons in the costumes of their own far-flung native lands, or gowns flaunting the influence of the Free Cities. One such woman, far removed in years from the maidens whose estate is in theory to be celebrated this night, has in a whimsical mood painted her face with the likeness of a butterfly, in shades of blue and orange and silver and black; enchained butterflies twine round arms left otherwise bare by the cut of her blue gown, and these she is showing off with amused tolerance to a pair of, yes, perhaps maidens, who are debating between themselves the possibility of doing something similar for so-and-so's nameday party. All three glance up at the advent of Prince Dhraegon and his lady, perhaps the most noticeable pair in Oldtown — and with such a natural break in the conversation the blue butterfly lady, speaking flawless common in a Tyroshi accent, excuses herself to find wine.
Who should arrive then, attended by her ever-present red-haired maid, but the slight Targaryen princess, Aelia. Soon to be married but yet retaining her maidenly charms, just eighteen, she is perfectly in harmony with the setting and the occasion. Especially since her brother and husband-to-be, Jurian, is yet again absent. But that does not seem to dim the lady's spirits. She wears a gown expertly cut and pieced and sewn in graphic black and white, shining at every seam with beaded embellishment, larger stones spangling the neckline and waistline. Sparkling cut glass and jeweled ornaments wink in her carefully swept-up hair. The amount of flash is almost excessive on her small form, but she seems delighted, often looking down at her own dress and swivelling, turning, or bouncing a little to see the sunlight glint off of the beads and baubles. The servant Mae looks somehow quietly amused.
The elderly Prince gazes upon his young wife as if his wits are quite taken away by her beauty. His own layered silks are a good match for hers in colour. He turns on Aelia and Jurian's aproach and is all big goofy smiles as he opens arms bewinged by silks, "Little Bird!" He comes at them intending to catch the Princess and her unfortuante maid up in an undignified group hug.
Among the arrivals to the garden was a knight and his squire. The colors of the knight where in light gray and orange and they looked like fine clothing for a knight, perhaps even better then most of his status should be wearing. Around the waist was a dark, heavy but plain leather belt with a bronze buckle and to his side was a knightly sword. It was obvious that the man wore the colors of House Marbrand and next to him, following his footsteps was his squire. The young squire had dark, almost wine red clothing with small silver inlays embroidered into the fabrics. The squires clothing seemed to be even more fancy then the knight but the young man wearing them seemed uncomfortable in them, showing bothered expression that dressed his young face. The knight of house Marbrand acted well with his courtesy and took bows to the royalties that was among the first he greeted and the squire bowed as well. But soon the knight would troddle off towards another knight that had arrived as well, speaking to him about politics, war and women as if that was the only thing in the world. His squire stopped at three arm lengths away and turned to watch the arrivals, especially the Royals that had arrived in which he looked upon with great interest, even if a bit shy in his manners of doing so.
The Elderly merchant spots the Butterfly woman and starts wending his way that direction. He looks spy for his age, though he does have a slight stifness about the hips.
Not long behind Marsei and Dhraegon, a small grouping of young women, some considered maidens themselves, known to be the Hightower lady's maids and friends, arrive, each one as pretty as the next. They trail behind at a distance, chatting amongst themselves, a couple of the younger ladies casting looks at the knight and his squire. Marsei's closest handmaiden, Siva, however, is more interested in looking at every bush like it might be a potential threat.
Marsei looks rather wistfully at the unlit lanterns in passing, prompting some thought or another that distracts her, giving the lady a faintly dreamy look as she walks hand-in-hand with Dhraegon. The couple is a becoming more and more common sight in Oldtown, since their wedding, if perhaps just as unusual to outsiders as they were in the beginning. Her attention comes back in one big, sunny rush, turning to smile at the Targaryen princess. "Princess Aelia!" she greets in delight, only just avoiding being swept along into the hug. "How absolutely stunning you look. I've scarcely seen such a shining dress."
Aelia hops right into Dhraegon's arms, squeaking with great pleasure. The maid Mae is a little more uncertain how to navigate the situation given class protocols, so she just stands still and permits what hugging the prince is doling out. Aelia then hops free when Marsei calls her, sharing an open-mouthed smile with the Flower of Oldtown. "Marsei!" she cries. "It is Aelia, a magpie!" She does have a habit of very specifically introducing herself on each occasion. At the reference to her dress, she spins in a little circle. "I love things that shine best!" Because her dress is so suited to the role of magpie, she must either have decided on magpie in advance, or else have hunted out an older dress appropriate to the part. Because this is no gown basted together in a day. Her hair ornaments clack a little with her hops and turns, and Mae looks a little nervous that one might come loose.
Eonn is no maiden, but the garden's not closed to others yet. He's armed and in his shabby black armour, but looks peacable enough as he looks about at the flowers. That orange tomcat that often follows him is at his heels.
Dhraegon squeals delightedly, "I shine! I have dragons and flowers all in thread of silver!" His voice might be a natural base, but his delivery is rather like that of a very exciteable child. "Where is you swann? I've not seen him in months! Has he flown North?" And then he's spotting another familiar face. "Eonn of the Rills!" Off he bounds to hug the red head, armour or no, "how does your knight?" He blinks those eyes so pale as to be coulourless and waving at the Squire, who's knight he aparently missed, "Who is your friend?"
Marsei gives a pleased little laugh as Aelia — a magpie — spins. She briefly lays a hand to the princess's arm in greeting — less than a hug, but with a similarly friendly intent — and also gently touches a hair bauble, steadying it in place. Taking the odd introduction in stride, she answers naturally as can be, "Things that shine are the best, aren't they?" She shines today as well, although not as extravagantly as Aelia, for certain. She looks curiously upon Aelia, but it is Dhraegon who asks the questions. "Oh!" she exclaims softly, turning to follow her husband's line of sight as far as Eonn. Her eye is drawn to the cat before she spots the man himself. She's poised to take a step, or call out, but pauses and asks Aelia rather thoughtfully, "How do you feel about cats…?"
Aelia giggles on being asked where Jurian is. "My swan is detained," she answers. Mae looks the other way. Clearly she knows nothing of this! Aelia's eyes follow up when Marsei touches her hair pin, but she doesn't seem offended. "You are beautiful," she says with satisfaction, as Marsei really /should/ be beautiful for things to be Right. She pauses to think about how she feels about cat. "I have only seen them from a way off. In some stories, they are very mean," she says, lower lip protruding a bit, though she adds, "But in some stories they are clever."
Eonn gets hugged, and grins. "Hello, my prince," he says. "Ser Daevon? He's well. Not here. Perhaps he'll come along later. You're having fun." The last is not a question. Orange cat looks at Marsei with knowing yellow eyes. It's not a cute cat, as cats go, being ragged-eared and scarred and fierce.
Thomas reached for a cup at one of the tables and began pouring his knight a cup of wine and soon approached Ser Marbrand to give it over. As Marbrand relieved Thomas from the cup the young squire walked back to pour himself a glass, it was diluted however since it was his job to take care of his lord knight, should Ser Alaric Marbrand become to rowdy during the dance. Thomas looked at his Ser with some concern, afraid of something but he quickly forgot it as he heard chatter and giggles from some of the ladies that seemed to be looking at him. He almost froze dead in motion and turned around, clearly not overly fond from the attention as his face turned red. Thomas began placing some of the plates into order as he tried to handle his great nervosity. The cup in hand was emptied by the young squire and he followed up by pouring himself a new cup with diluted wine. The view in front of him soon spun round as his small frame began distributing the alcohol into his bloodstream.
After a gracious but humble smile toward Aelia, Marsei nods her head toward Eonn. "That is Eonn of the Rills," she informs the princess in a polite half-whisper out of earshot of said man, if not his cat - who she finds herself making eye contact with. "He has a whole boat of cats." Either an odd turn of phrase, or she's being literal. "Orange Cat looks meaner than he is, I suspect. I do not know how he feels about magpies," she admits to the bird-minded Targaryen with a gentle, optimistic smile, in no way patronizing "but I'm sure it will be fine." She approaches Eonn as well, beaming; she passes the group of her ladies, who move to linger near the drinks table amused at the squire's red face (with the exception of Siva, again). "Eonn!" Marsei says. "I was hoping I would see you soon."
Dhraegon sighs happily, "My Crocus is the loveliest in Oldtown and they might make saffron from her hair…." His brow wrinkles in thought, but then his expression clears, "I think you are a brave and clever magpie and unlikely to be troubled by ordinary cats. Eonn, is your cat of the tricksy kind?" Dhraegon smells of lavander snd vanilla rather than drink, so there is a good chance he is sober. He waves a hand at the lad by the refreshment table, "I meant the lad and not the cat. I KNOW about cats." Then he is staring wide eyed at the Butterfly Lady, "Oh, Little magpie! Look! Butterflies!"
Aelia turns to peer at this Eonn of the Rills and his cats. "I do not want to meet a boat of cats," Aelia is certain about at least, eyeing the orange one. "But possibly one," she allows with the encouragement of Dhraegon and Marsei both. She approaches a step or two nearer. But her attention is caught as fast as Dhraegon's by the beautiful Butterfly Lady. "Oh!"
The butterfly woman moves with a sure tread along a pale stone path leading away from her previous companions and toward a suitable, which is to say anonymous and communal, source of wine. The fine silver and steel chains about her arms and her throat chime softly against one another as she reaches out to choose a goblet apparently at random, and then to pour wine for herself; she appears to have no thought but for refreshing herself, but then when the elderly merchant in blue-grey has come almost within arm's reach of her she turns, suddenly, as thought she's caught a breath of something upon the breeze; looks him up and down as if in exasperation; and declares in that Tyroshi accent of hers, "I might have known you'd find me even here." She lifts her goblet in an ironic salute to his perspicacity, and sips; her gaze lingers upon him another considering moment before feinting casually, unconcernedly, toward the raised voices, in noble Westerosi accents, not at all far away.
Eonn smiles at Dhraegon. "That cat is probably tricksy," he says. "But I don't think he'll hurt anybody." He bows to Marsei and Aelia.
The Merchant's accent is local, "Well, you were not exactly hiding…" He sips his own wine and sips, "You are more lovely than the butterflies you wear and your stores of clothe are nearly as alurring as your person."
Marsei is also distracted by Dhraegon's exclamation of butterflies, but does not prove to be as easily distractible as the little magpie of a princess, catching an intriguing glimpse of the butterfly woman but focusing on Eonn with purpose. "I found a cat in the Square and I've taken the little thing in, and— well, you seem to have such a way with them," she smiles hopefully amid an admiring look down on the scarred tomcat, "What I was rather hoping is that you would take a look at it and see whether or not it's all right. If you wouldn't mind."
"I like her silver!" Aelia cries. now back to Eonn. She smiles. "I am a magpie, my name is Aelia," she informs him immediately. And then to Marsei: "Do cats not steal away your breath in the night?" It's a serious question.
As the sun begins to kiss the horizen, young girls in white dresses come to light the lanterns.
Eonn smiles at Marsei, kindly. "Of course, m'lady," he says, "If you like. I don't know if I can tell you anything. It's cats that like me. Does it not seem all right?" To Aelia he says, "You are a magpie indeed."
Dhraegon giggles, "Kittens go to all the best parties these days." He opens his eyes wide, "What would they do with breath if they stole it? I think they are more interested in fish to eat and dangly strings."
If the butterfly woman's present garb can be considered a sample — that fine, clear shade of blue, the delicate weave of the linen, and of course the ease with which it seems to have taken paint! — it's no wonder a well-set-up Oldtown merchant with his head on his shoulders is in such eager pursuit of… her wares. "Really," she says dryly, nodding in passing to whichever of that august coterie happens to catch her eye (Princess Aelia, a magpie). "I've learned another of your local sayings since last we spoke. 'Pull the other one,'" she repeats carefully, "'because it has bells.' Isn't that right?" she demands of him, raising an eyebrow already arched, which forms part of the curve of a wing. "… Don't they look charming," she adds in a softer tone, as her attention strays from him again to the first of those straight-backed, white-gowned young girls, bearing fire through the lowering darkness.
Marsei beams once again at Eonn, grateful, saying only, "A bit unsteady, is all," before blinking at Aelia. "I-I hope not," she replies in instinctive alarm at the notion; quelled when she shakes her head, turning a reassuring smile on her. "It is only something told to children to frighten them, although I can't imagine why," she says. "I had an old septa when I was a young girl who told me cats would deliver me nightmares, and I cried for a fortnight because my cat couldn't sleep in my room with me. She only told me the story because I hadn't done my lessons." She notices the lantern-lighting and quiets to respectfully watch the maidens and all they represent, a hint of the wistfulness returning to her gaze.
"Yes," Aelia agrees with Eonn, on the statement that she is a magpie. She is! Then she looks at Dhraegon. "I had a nurse who told me that a cat should never be near a baby because it can steal the baby's breath and take it away…" She tilts her head. "I don't remember the rest. To some place where they trade in those things. I don't think birds go there." She looks to Marsei. "Does that mean it isn't true? Did you learn more lessons, then?" She points at the girls in white. "What are they doing? What will happen next?" And she smiles brilliantly at the butterfly who notices her.
The Merchant leans in, rudely close to her, but not quite close enough to justify a twapping with a fan, "Ah, but I do mean it. The vibrancy of your dyes will never be eclipsed by the vibrancy of your personality." His eyes are only for her, for all he says, "There is nothing like a dance by lantern light…. They did do a nice job getting the gowns to match."
Dhraegon contemplates the tale of cats and babies at some length. Slowly he muses, "People sometimes say things that aren't true about things they don't understand. Maybe the thing about cats is like how they say some of us are mad, when clearly we aren't." Then he is turning to the Tyrell maiden, "What sort of flower are you? Or are you a butterfly or bird in disguise." So wide eyed and ernest is the clown Prince.
"I don't think that's true," says Eonn, "About cats." Orange cat walks over toward Aelia.
Marsei shakes her head but, as the mysterious cat story is dissuaded by others — Dhraegon's particular explanation prompting a small fond smile — she watches the maidens in silence a moment longer before answering the innocent barrage of questions from Aelia. There's a reverence to her voice, a testament to piety. "They are maidens. On Maiden's Day, they represent the Maiden and Her purity. They are lighting the lanterns here, as maidens from various houses will go to light candles for the Maiden inside the sept."
Amaei offers the prince a curtsey as he speaks to her. "I am a rose of Highgarden, Your Grace." she says with a smile. "Neither a bird nor a butterfly." She considers a moment. "Cats are all mad, if Your Grace does not mind me suggesting so. Dragons are only eccentric, sometimes."
Thomas heard the ladies come near and he feared even looking at them, he was about to take a sip from his own cup yet again as the gloved hand of Ser Alaric put a stop to it by laying the hand over the cup and pressing it down and away from Thomas lips. He walked up closer and looked at the squire with some concern and furrowed brows, his neatly trimmed beard was white and his face was weathered, making his apparent age much older then his actual one. "Ah don't understand' wa yhe never can act properly aroond the ladies. If yhe ar' gonnae be the lord of Castamere yhe better learn huw to do it, ur yhe will ha'e a rugh time keepin' th' coort in order. Now go an' try spick wi' them an' ask them fo a dance, that's an order." Ser Marbrand spoke, his tone was sharp as he walked back to speak with his knightly friend and Thomas glanced at the girls with renewed courage. It was clear that Thomas was still mustering some of it, but it was also clear that he did not want to as he looked somewhat uncomfortable because of it. Ser Alaric gave his squire a peer as he still listened to the conversation that he partook in, inclining with a sharp nod to Thomas that he would need to go and talk with the ladies. His walk was indecisive the first few steps but soon he aimed his walk for one girl in particular not giving much thought into it, giving her a courteous bow as he reached her and spoke in a plummy voice. "Would the lady like to have a dance?" he looked up at her and held his arm out, it seemed like most of his fears had been dropped by now and even most of his manner of being insecure, almost as if he was a completely different person all of the sudden.
The orange cat rubs itself against Aelia's ankles.
Dhraegon catches his wife's smile and smiles back, all innocent delight, reaching for her hand to hold as they watch the lighting. Amaei response earns a delighted giggle, "You understand everything!" Though he has no Flox to prompt him today he resights his formal greeting on his own, "I am Prince Dhraegon Targaryen. It is a pleasure to meet you." He adds with a shy smile, "This is my wife, the Flower of Oldtown, the Lady Marsei." He glances at his wife to see if he's doing it right. He must have heard the mention of Castamere as he turns to peer at the squire, "I wonder if he likes boats?"
"Oh," Aelia says, nodding at Marsei. She starts when something bumps up against her ankles and skips back a step or two, staring down at the orange cat. "It's trying to push me!" she says, looking at the others to determine whether this is cause for alarm. The maid Mae puts a hand on her arm.
In fact the butterfly woman has not brought a fan with her this evening, and to judge by her slight craning away from the merchant, the angle of her shoulder as she eyes him, she might be regretting the omission. She brings up her goblet almost as a shield between them, and as she affects to sip from it she turns more fully to regard the procession of maidens, the chatting nobles, the gardens transformed into a more intimate and magical kingdom by the change of light. She seems to be squinting at the magpie dress which caught her eye moments ago. "And some don't go with anything," she adds in philosophical vein, "but are all the more striking for it… I wish I'd come sooner," she admits, "to have a better look at all these ladies of Oldtown. Lantern light may be flattering but it does not give a true idea of colour…" She meets his rather adhesive gaze and shrugs. "You know I am a curious person." The double meaning may or may not be intended. Who knows with these educated non-native speakers.
The cat attempts a rusty purr and tries to rub up on Aelia again. Eonn does nothing about this, just watches, quietly.
The over attentive merchant takes a half step back, on seeing his attentions are not welcomed, "Striking is so much more eye catching than the merely pretty…. You speak of curiosity at a party attended by at least one cat…"
"Lady Amaei, hello," Marsei, having begun to pay attention to her husband's conversation with the Tyrell, turns her friendly countenance on the young woman, her smile warm and sincere. She studies Amaei closely, as though trying to determine if they have met — not an unusual thing, given the Hightowers' close relationship with the Tyrells — but her gaze is far from an overbearing one. "Are you in town for Maiden's Day, or to see my cousin, Ser Loryn, and his new betrothed?"
The lady who is approached by Thomas — young and flaxen-haired — blushes prettily on cue, perhaps slightly over-eager to accept his offer. She holds out her fair hand knuckles first. The older, darker-haired and complected of the women in the group, meanwhile, seems to be watching the merchant and the butterfly lady with some interest.
Marsei glances their way and remarks quietly to — presumably — Aelia, "There are some who take Maiden's Day more seriously than others." Her voice is nothing but kind even then, spoken as a fact rather than criticism of her handmaid. Knowing the pious Hightower's adherence to the Faith, however, she's like to convince them all be in white and saying prayers by the end of the night. "Perhaps he likes you," she notes of the orange cat.
Another little curtsey, that for Marsei. "My brothers and sisters have come to see Oldtown - the jewel of the Reach - and so I thought I should as well. My younger sister lives here as well, so I thought I would come help her look after her affairs." A look back to the Prince. "Forgive me, I am Amaei Tyrell. Your Grace likely remembers that my father is Lord Tyrell."
Aelia lifts her eyebrows at Marsei. "Should maidens be serious?" she asks rather doubtfully. Then she looks at the orange cat who either likes her or is trying to murder her. Then up to Dhraegon. "Uncle, can we play a magpie game?" she asks. "It is a girls' game, isn't that right for a Maiden Dance?" She overlooks the fact that dancing is perhaps the focus of a Maiden Dance. Though perhaps the game can be danced.
Eonn takes a polite half step backward. The orange cat, however, continues its attempt to claim Aelia as its own, rubbing its head against her calf.
Dhraegon contemplates the cat, "I suspect it wants a rubbing about the ears, Little Magpie." He thinks that through a bit, I have seen Ser Laurent and Ser Loryn joust." Very ernestly, "They are very brave to be so close to ravenous beasts like that." He drops his voice, "Everyone says they eat grass, but we know better don't we. That's just what the horses want us to think." To Aelia he opines, "Maidens should be how they wish I think." Then he is bouncing excitedly, "Oh I like games, but hide and seek will distress the guards. have you another in mind?"
The young squire gently hooked his arm under the maiden's hand, escorting her towards the center of the dancing area where it was a bit more crowded. He could feel the approval of Ser Alaric that had taken note of the squires success and began refilling a new cup by his own accord, smiling warmly at the younglings as he did so. Once Thomas reached the center he smiled at the maid and brought her hand up together with his, clasping his fingers tightly as the palms touched and they began dancing in circles round and round. Thomas felt his heart beating fast and it was obvious that he was under some sort of trance, enchanted almost.
Alerted by the magpie's glittering visible somewhere out of the corner of her eye, the butterfly woman's gaze has already found the source of the minor commotion: that orange cat, hidden from her previously by the ladies' skirts and Prince Dhraegon's robes, making friends whether people like it or not. "… Yes," she murmurs, her attention wandering slowly, smoothly over those gathered nearby as she turns back to the merchant. Another sip and she puts down her goblet. The orangey-red paint upon her lips appears untouched by wine. "And I have seen so many striking gowns this evening," she insists, "even in poor light, that I don't consider Oldtown is so greatly in need as you say of what I have to offer… I may go on to Sunspear," and she quirks a corner of her mouth at him; "the Dornish court will surely offer me more favourable terms."
The Merchant studies the Butterfly Lady's face, "I consider what you have to offer of higher quality and anything else on offer in Oldtown. Indead, I would travel far to find a weave as complex as yours. would you at least consider my offer over a dance?"
Marsei only smiles reassuringly at Aelia; the magpie's change of subject and Dhraegon's response spares her from explaining what maidens should or shouldn't be for the time being. She holds her hands lightly together in front of her against the blue-green of her gown. "It is lovely to see roses like yourself in Oldtown," she tells Amaei kindly, Dhraegon's implication that horses are more than they seem apparently passing by without a thought meanwhile, "And to see Garden Isle full of life. As any garden should be."
Amid the dance with Thomas, the flaxen-haired maiden introduces herself as Lady Clare, and has every polite and, indeed, enchanting mannerism well-trained and practiced, although her enthusiasm seems earnest and her blush true. From afar — not so far — Lady Marsei lends them a smile, as well as a curious look to Siva, who's separated from the herd closer to the merchant and butterfly woman.
Aelia looks down at this cat creature that keeps trying to tip her over despite its tiny size. She bends down and experimentally tries to put a finger on the cat's head, though she looks ready to snatch her hand back at the least sign of snapping or sorcery. She spares a glance for Dhraegon. "Yes," she says firmly. "There is a game you can play with the Magpie Rhyme," she says, though that rhyme may not be known to all. "We make a circle. And we need at least seven magpies. And one other. Who I suppose could be a magpie. Or not. But is blindfolded. Or turned the other way. And the sevenor morecan go into the circle one at a time to join the dance, or they can leave the circle whenever they wish. And the number remaining in the circle when the blind one cries halt will be a guess of the blind one's future. According to the Magpie Rhyme." The directions seem quite clear to her, at least.
The orange cat does not snap, but it does do that cat thing, trying to rub its jaws on the offered finger. Eonn himself seems to have slipped away.
The butterfly woman shakes her head at her fellow mercantile adventurer, looking quietly amused — inasmuch as one can tell beneath all that paint. "I have been giving your offer due consideration, I assure you," she promises him, with another lift of a wing. "… But, as it happens," and she lets out a soft sigh and leans a couple of inches nearer to confide, "I am fond of dancing." She straightens; and in that moment catches sight of Siva. She lets her gaze linger upon the young handmaiden, both wings lifted in friendly, open question.
Dhraegon listens to the rules with mouth slightly open and a worried look on his face. After some thought he asks, "Might I be blindfolded?" This is clearly the simplest part of the game after all.
Orange cat purrs, and rubs on the magpie girl.
The elderly merchant in blue grey linen leans to breath something soft in the Butterfly Woman's ear, before offering his arm to lead her into the figure.
As the dance swayed back and forth the two younger dancers flowed with the tide, adapt at not bumping into the other participants. As the flaxen girl gave Thomas her name it seemed like most of his nervosity he tried his best to hold hidden slowly disappeared on him. Even to the point where he introduced himself. "I am Thomas Reyne, a squire to Ser Alaric. Do you serve the royal family?" Thomas glanced at Marsei and Dhraegon conversating not so far away. It was a mix of both respect and admiration he held in his eyes like most boys his age had when looking upon those even slightly older then them. Thomas kept most of his concentration on the dance, not wishing to embarrass the girl to whom he owed this dance, he seemed determined to make it a good one, as if it was his duty. But it was obvious that Thomas began to enjoy the dance more and more.
Ser Alaric Marbrand took another sip as he watched over the crowed. He scanned them all and seemed to focus his eyes on those that he could see being obvious knights, anyone that he could see as a potential threat towards his chances of winning the tournament on the morrow. He reached back for a pitcher of wine but a young page walked up and filled it for Ser Alaric who thanked the boy and hurried him along by placing his hand on the shoulder and moved him along.
"I have never played the Magpie Game," Marsei says, her soft voice buoyant- the lady is a good sport, open to trying, her head tipping encouragingly toward Aelia.
Lady Clare's following look to Marsei and Dhraegon is more admiring - mostly to the former rather than the latter. "Yes," she answers - not without a hint of pride - before clarifying, "I serve as handmaid to Lady Marsei, at the Hightower. I suppose that makes her royal now since she married his grace…" She seems uncertain and trails off, suggesting instead, hoping to impress, "Should you like to meet them?"
Siva's dark-eyed gaze upon the butterfly woman is subtly curious, no more than a passing wonder about her appearance; her eyes lower when met in a manner more common to servants than handmaidens who come from noble houses. She passes along the length of the wine table, busying herself with fetching a goblet but looking up to track the merchant man, instead.
Aelia, the slight Targaryen princess, looks back down to see that the orange cat is rubbing its face on her finger, very near its teeth. Her eyes get round. "What is it doing…?" she asks, keeping still. Cautiously, she glances back up. "Yes! You should be blindfolded first. And I will be the first in the circle and everyone else can follow in their turn!" Then she remembers a cat might be about to eat her finger. She looks at it, narrowing her eyes suspiciously.
Purrrr, goes the orange cat. It rub on Aelia's hand, slobbering a little.
Dhraegon says quite seriously, "I think the cat may have decided it own you. There is nothing to be done."
"Now, now," chides the butterfly woman in a low but tolerant tone which implies the merchant, given an inch, has helped himself to another quarter-mile; but when Siva has turned away, leaving the question unanswered, she slips her hand into the offered curve of his arm and consents to be escorted to join the other dancers nearby. She's quick-footed in her silver-laced blue leather boots, lithe in her finely-dyed blue gown, with its skirts swirling out round her; her years must almost equal his, but she wears them lightly enough.
A grey-hooded man adorned with a spear and armor arrived at the gardens accompanying a shorter, portly gentlemen who was dressed in compratively more elegant clothing. Once again, Ampere was attending a public recreational event for the sake of coin and really not much else. The man at his side was the merchant who hired him, and gave the sellspear a quick nudge to his side as he spoke to him in a hushed voice.
"Make sure you stay vigilant, boy. This is a great opprotunity for me to make new connections and expand my business, but who knows the amount of competitors who are plotting to end my life at this very moment!" #rAmpere glanced around at the various jovial party-goers before staring back at the merchant and raising an eyebrow.
"…At a dance?" He asked incredulously. The shorter man sighed and shook his head, before pointing towards his eyes vigorously to emphasize his previous point, then quickly walked off to mingle with potential investors.
The sellspear shrugged, checked one more time to see if his mask was tied securely across the bottom-half of his face, then stood by a seemingly uncrowded spot in order to begin his look-out.
Aelia pulls her hand back when the beast starts slavering, sticking it out so that Mae can instantly come forward with a handkerchief. Aelia looks at Dhraegon, perhaps taken in by his seriousness. "Can he do that?!"
The young squire seemed to ponder on her final words of him meeting them whilst dancing. "Surely they have much better things to do then bothering themselves with a unknown squire." Thomas seemed to be making excuses where his modest part of his personality shun through. "What family are you from, if I may ask? I only know you by your first and not your maiden name." The dance seemed to change pace and a more lighter dance began. Thomas smoothly twirled around and looked to the right where he was throwing his right arm to the right before placing it on his hip and then looking left where he threw his left arm outwards in a similar manner.
Orange cat, undeterred, returns his attention to rubbing and smearing his face against Aelia's lower legs.
Dhraegon nods, deadly serious, "Oh yes! Have you not heard that a cat might look at a Queen? well many of them own Princes and Princesses. My Crocus knows all about cats and can likely give you better advise than I though." Then he is pleading with his wife, "Will you blind fold me?" His tone is perhaps a touch too eager.
"I would not say I— " Marsei's cautious disagreement on being an expert on cats is put to an end when she opens her mouth soundlessly to Dhraegon's eager query. A soft "umm" emerges after a pause. "With what?"
"Oh, forgive my manners," the maiden Clare answers the squire with a duck of her head; or perhaps she only wanted him to ask. "House Chester of Greenshield." She follows each movement of the dance with an ease borne of much practice. A twirl brings them nearer to the cluster of loftier nobles, and she overhears just enough to exclaim more youthfully, "A game!" And tugs the young man's arm to see if they can join. She's met with a warm, welcoming smile from her red-haired lady — who is still in search of a makeshift blindfold.
Aelia frowns a little at this presumptuous cat, but then claps her hands together. She smiles at Marsei. "If you have no sash to lend, he can just turn his back and close his eyes," she says helpfully. She sends her maid Mae running to get some musicians to start a new, festive tune for the game, and to make a clear announcement about what's going on. Once a ring of space has been vacated and the tune begins, Aelia says, "Turn round, Uncle!" And then she goes dashing into the circle, spinning herself in a little circle, dress embellishments flashing as she twirls and hops, perfectly happy to dance by herself. There is now one person in the circle.
Ampere continued to monitor his merchant employer as the man grinned and chortled with various people. It seemed that despite all his previous wild paranoia, the man had begun relaxing and enjoying himself, until he was handed a glass of wine by a passing caterer. His eyes immediately went wide with alarm, and he proceeded to made quick (though somewhat waddley) steps back to the grey-hooded sellspear.
"Here. Taste this." The merchant demanded quickly. Ampere stared at the glass and again, raised his eyebrow.
"What." He responded flatly, but noted the sense of urgency in the shorter man's stare. He also thought about all the coin that jingled in the man's purse that he'd likely be deprived of if he refused. Sighing, he dipped a finger into the wine before bringing it underneath his mask and supping on it. "Yes. It is fine. I am not currently dying."
The merchant nodded, seemingly satisfied, before racing back to rejoin the party. The sellspear in turn shook his head, before extracting a small wooden figure from his satchel. Its shape vaguely resembled that of a dragon, something that Ampere intended to make more definite as he began carving at it with a small knife. It wasn't as if there was anything better to do, aside from entertaining a worrying merchant's crazed delusions.
The cat maows up at Aelia.
Dhraegon giggles and blushes a little. "A blindfold is safer. I might cheat!" He does turn around obiediently so as not to spoil the surprise though.
The Blue Grey Merchant smiles his most charming smile at the Butterfly woman, "I am your servant in all things." He raises his eyebrows in invitation and looks to the circle.
The figure of the other dance has broken up; the two merchants who have been casually bartering and bickering whenever the steps brought them near one another are among those intrigued by the goings-on amongst their social superiors. The butterfly woman is thus within earshot as well as sight of the thwarted search amongst Lady Marsei's ladies for a suitable blindfold. She takes two or three steps toward the redhead with something held within her glittering, steel-meshed hand which — an instant after she calls out in a low voice — is unfurled into a length of brilliantly flame-red silk. "My lady, would this suffice you…?" The lantern light flickers over her painted face, casting curious shadows; her smile however is warm and helpful.
The squire felt Clare's hand take a hold of his wine red sleeves and her tugging at him. Thomas did not do much to hinder her from dragging him off from the dancing area, but he was not at all prepared for it and suddenly he stood there with the roaylties. He looked at them all before he made his move to bow courtuesly to them all once as he spoke with a clear voice. "Your Highnesses." After that he stood up, looking at them and wondered how he had ended up in such a mess. From afar Sir Alaric was pericing his gaze, quite amused into Thomas and shook his head as he finished yet another cup of wine. It was not overly clear by looking it Ser Alaric that he was drunk but anyone who would have kept and eye on him would know that the man could not be overly sober. Meanwhile Thomas stood fully awake, ready for anything.
"Oh, thank you! How perfectly timely!" Marsei accepts the fabric, admiring it but not as long as she'd like, with the music playing and the game starting. It is only as she looks up that her gaze lingers on the woman's face … but perhaps she has no time to admire the butterfly, either, for she hurries on, "Would you like to join us? The game is beginning! You must! Come, come!" She whirls about, moving to Dhraegon. "No cheating, my prince! But it might be hard to keep your eyes closed in all of the excitement," Marsei says with good-natured humour. "Duck down, quick now— " She stands on the very tips of her toes — her gown nevertheless so long that not a hint of said toes can be glimpsed — to tie the blindfold for Dhraegon with the blaze of red before taking her place in the dance game. There are now two people in the circle.
Clare rather presents Thomas like a prize into the circle, cozing — albeit modestly, quite proper — next to the squire. There are now four people in the circle.
The cat, evidently abandoned by Eonn, maows again, loudly. Dancing, when you could be petting?
The grey-hooded sellspear continued to stand and carve his figurine as he stared at the merchant in silent vigil, who was currently having a blindfold thrust upon him by a noblewoman as she laughed and pointed enthusiastically towards the circle that was forming. The rotund man was, unsurprisingly, paling in abject horror at the idea of having his vision stolen away from him in a den of would-be assassins.
"Oh, I couldn't possibly! Too much movement is bad for my heart, but, oh! My associate here will represent me!" The merchant said in a nervously high-pitched tone as he ran towards Ampere, grabbed his arm, and began tugging him over.
"What." The armored man repeated once again, not at all amused by where this was going. He momentarily debated whether the payment he'd be recieving was worth all this, before finally grimacing underneath his mask as he surrendered to defeat. Allowing the blindfold to be placed into his hands in case he ever got a turn, he was then promptly shoved into an appropriate spot in the growing circle.
Dhraegon crouches low, eager for the game and smiling his delight at his Lady Wife. "Thank you, Butterfly Lady!" when he straightens he is sporting his biggest, goofiest smile and clapping happily along to the music.
Aelia reaches out to take Marsei's hand and dance with her, ducking under the other's arm for a little turn, her hair ornaments clacking. There are still four in the circle.
Thomas stood inside the circle and gave Clare a brief smile as he felt a bit less nervous in her presence. The young Reyne heir looked at the other participants to see if he knew someone but he did not. Instead he bid his time until the game actually started as he turned to Clare. "How fares the Shield Islands? I have never been there myself but I bet it is beautiful from what I have to guess from with my knowledge of the islands."
The orange cat objects again, then darts out of the way of all this dancing, and into a hydrangea bush.
Having placed her sample of red silk (it really is an extraordinary red, a red which could come only from Tyrosh) in the hands of a prince's wife, the butterfly woman nods her acquiescence and follows. "You are too kind, my lady; I'm sure my friend and I…?" But the rest of her quiet words are lost in the music, and the chatter, and the blindfolding of the prince; besides, she's turning away as though to look for the other merchant. As though she didn't know he was right behind her. There are five people in the circle. Any second now there'll be six. Unless someone didn't say how many, in which case I'm lost.
The elderly merchant with the excellent blue grey hose twirls the Butterfly woman into the circle. Despite the slight drag of his stiff leg, he is a rather spry old codger. His eyes are fixed on the Tyroshi woman's face as they become the fifth and sixth in the circle.
Lady Marsei's dance is not as free as Aelia's, but she twirls with her joyfully, if more subdued; she twirls herself out of the circle but back in a moment later on the Targaryen's arm. Looking around the circle as she dances, she smiles brightly at Ampere, stranger that he is, and likewise at Thomas and the elderly merchant, upon whom her gaze narrows. There are still six in the circle.
"Misty and dreary, my lord," Clare replies, and after a little spell of dancing with the squire, she gives him a giggle and steps playfully outside the circle. There are now five in the circle.
Ampere looked at the circle of dancers as the laughter and music combined to create a cacophony of sound in his ears. He was utterly out of his element. He turned to glance behind him, where the merchant was urgently making pointing motions with his hands. Sighing, the grey-hooded sellspear took another moment to make sure his mask was tied securely, before stepping in the circle. Now there were seven. OR SIX I DON'T KNOW.
Loryn Tyrell had spent most of the time with his fiancee, the young couple being stopped every few paces by people congratulating them on the good news and mostly wanting to find out who the lucky girl is. A few are stunned as they remember the septa-to-be whom they haven't recognized. As Miranda has drifted off towards her orphans, Loryn is drawn towards the dancing circle. It's rather amusing, especially when you're slightly tipsy, so he stands and watches.
In this rather less formal dance the dainty little butterfly woman seems always to be looking away past her partner's shoulder, her eyelids glimmering silver in the low lantern-light whenever she happens to blink. Whatever she sees seems to amuse her; she confides something in a whisper. Still six in the circle.
Aelia seems very joyful in the dance with Lady Marsei, others swirling back and forth. She sees Clare flit away from her partner and laughs. "This is the spirit of the magpies!" she cries approvingly. And then calls, "Don't forget to say 'Halt' when you will, Uncle! Magpies will play all day!" She looks to Marsei. "See the butterfly shimmer?" she asks more quietly. "Is she real?"
The merchant must be rather forward, taking what opportunities he can to circle the butterfly woman's waist and murmur flirtatiously in her ear. There is life in the old dog yet.
Thomas smiled coyly as Clare stepped out of the circle. He looked at Aelia with a slight smile who commented on Clare leaving the ring and he chuckled for himself as he tilted his head, taking a step out of the circle to continue the conversation the best he could with Clare. "Please, call me Thomas or squire. I'm no knight nor lord." He wished to correct her but he did so in a low tone, not very audible at all unless you had focused on the words and what Thomas was saying, or if you where really good at hearing there was chance to overhear it as well. The young squire squinted his eyes into Clare. "How far have you traveled? Ever been to Kings Landing?"
For a wonder the merchant doesn't get smacked for it — perhaps his sales pitch has improved over the course of the evening…? Or perhaps not, because after their steps have taken them round and round again, the Butterfly Woman releases his hand and twirls free of his opportunistic grasp, leaving him in the circle whilst she steps very definitely out. There are five left in the circle.
"Yes— " Marsei looks to the butterfly woman as if to make sure, "but she does look rather like magic, doesn't she?" She lifts her hand to spin Aelia beneath — wary of her hair baubles. She finds herself looking over her shoulder every time she's facing away from the butterfly lady and her companion, but their flirtatiousness prompts her to stop her curious investigation until they part.
"But you are a Reyne," the young woman points out to the squire, but it is more a compliment to his house than a disagreement. She stands beside him watching the dancers. "I have not left the Reach," she says a bit forlorn, "perhaps if Lady Marsei were to visit King's Landing"She tips forward on her toes like she might rejoin the circle, but lingers back; there are still four in the circle.
The merchant simply bows deeply to the butterfly woman then turns to rather cheekily circle the highborn women like a bee circling flowers. It sould be a magpie simile of some sort, but loose feathers circling a magpie sounds wrong….
It is at this point the Clown Prince shouts, "Stop Magpies, stop!" and whirls around all blue silk and rich red trailing blindfold.
Thomas looked as if flattery washed right of him, as if being proud was far from whom he was. Ser Alaric clapped on his cup in rythmn with the music that played, he kept his eye on Thomas from afar but had found himself a good pole to lean against as the extra support needed for him to not show how unsteady he was. Meanwhile Thomas answered the girl, his smile faded slightly. "Yes, I am.. but I am not the first born son of Robb Reyne. I think-…" Thomas stopped himself as he was about to enter the circle, but alas Thomas was on the outside. He looked at the others then at Clare and smiled as he shruged lightly. "And so it ends."
The grey-hooded man stepped lightly as he wove in and out amongst the other passing magpies, though for him it was less of a dance and more of a practice of the evasionary maneuvers he was used to performing in a fight. He supposed it looked enough like dancing movements, if you chose not to squint.
Having caught sight of some of the other dancers leaving the circle, Ampere decided that now was an appropriate time to leave as well. He had played his part, but he had no intention of being entwined in the predictions of someone else's future. Besides, any event that involved both smallfolk and royalty rarely ended up going well for the smallfolk.
But then the blindfolded prince yelled halt, causing the sellspear to breathe a small sigh as he froze in his tracks. Damn it all.
Even Loryn starts a bit at the sudden shout and frowns in confusion. "I thought this was going on until just one couple was left standing.", he murmurs to the person next to him, a middle-aged man who is happy to chat and thus dodge the risk that his wife drags him off dancing. "That's a Reyne there.", he points out Thomas like some particular interesting painting at a gallery.
Aelia freezes for a moment before she remembers that that isn't actually the rule. She claps her hands now that the number has been called, and turns around to count. There are four. "One, two, three, four." She turns around again, eyes wide. "Uncle!" she cries. "At a Maiden Dance?" As if Dhraegon picked deliberately. "The magpies! One is for sorrow, two is for mirth. Three for a funeral, four for a birth!" She laughs, seeming to take it as a good omen for her own part, if a bit inappropriate to the occasion.
Dhraegon pulls his blindfold away and peers at Aelia with shock. Then his eyes roll up in his head and he collapses like a marionette with cut strings.
Ampere stands awkwardly within the circle as the announcement is cheerfully made. His eyebrow arches upwards as he stares down at the prince who had literally fallen onto his knees in apparent shock. Or despair. Or something. "Um. Congratulations." The sellspear says softly.
The Merchant freezes in alarm, unsure if he should stay where he is or go to the Prince. The two Hightower guards that came with the Prince and the Lady Marsei start forward. The Prince lies in an undignified heap of silks.
The butterfly woman is somehow just behind her erstwhile dance partner, on the edge of the circle, when the mountainous Clown Prince topples: her hand closes upon his arm and she steps nearer, half behind him, looking past him with her painted features a mask of curiosity and impersonal concern.
Thomas looked at Dhraegon as he collapsed, unsure what to do when the prince fell just next to him. Sir Alaric notices the commotion and begins to make his way forward to the small crowed but his steps are uneven and somewhere along the way he gets caught up when he collides with a group of people that also watches the prince falling prone on the ground. The young squire however seems to be even more alarmed as the guards close in as well, quite unsure what is going on at this point and does not near himself the prince as he would have wanted to do. He instead looked to Clare to try and read her reaction to what was happening.
Loryn gasps a little but he doesn't move as there are plenty others taking charge already and it's better to not crowd the poor prince. His eyes drift towards Marsei though, resting on her instead.
It is a natural reaction that when birth is the foretold event for the person in the middle that the crowd would turn to look expectantly at the wife. In this case, she comes in second, Dhraegon drops to the ground so fast. Marsei is left standing agape, able to voice nothing but a tiny creak of a sound between shock and alarm. When her legs seem to gain sense again, she rushes to Dhraegon — with a doe-eyed incredulous look to Ampere on the way, for his remark - and crouches in a cascade of her long gown and laying a hand to his poor, empty face. "He— he simply needs to rest. His grace needs help to to get to the cart," she says up to the Hightower guards, too quiet to be a command despite the intent in her voice.
Next to Thomas, Marsei's blonde handmaid is in a frozen state of cringing. Siva has wound her way through the crowd to hover near Marsei in case she needs aid.
Aelia just blinks at the heap of uncle she has wrought. Mae hurries to the prince's side, though there is probably little she can do. And it is at this point that Jurian appears, looking a little less neat and tidy than usual. He looks like he started dressing impeccably for the dance, but then got interrupted at some point and never quite put everything in order: his sleeves are pushed up and his collar quiet open. "Aelia!" he shouts from the other side of the circle. He sounds…angry. And he isn't even concealing his limp as much as usual. Aelia darts behind Marsei, keeping close behind her even as she moves.
The mood of the dance had changed somewhat with the sudden collapse of the prince. Thomas moved in slightly behind Clare and placed his hands on hers, showing her with the best of his ability that she was safe. Thomas was however without words to describe what he saw in front of him.
His Grace gives a none too delicate snort and starts snoring. Loudly, in the hush caused by the jongleurs ceasing to play.
The grey-hooded sellspear winces a bit at the look he recieves from the woman as she hurries to her prince's aid. This was why he rarely chose to open his mouth. Taking a few steps forward, the masked man decided that as awkward as the situation was, he had to at least make himself available to the assistance of royalty rather than simply scampering off. It was then that rather audible snoring is heard, and the sellspear allows his shoulders to relax somewhat. He wonders offhandedly if nacrolepsy is common among the highborn.
Somewhere further in the guardens a very slurred voice can be heard bellowing some song in Low Valyrian, what tune can be discerned sounds suspiciously like "The Curious Mermaid."
The white haired merchant tenses up, then relaxes under the butterfly woman's touch.
Jurian shoves his way through the crowd not at all politely and grabs hold of Aelia's wrist. "You think that was funny?" he demands. But surely he can't be talking about the game, as he just arrived.
Aelia peeps in distress. "Magpies are clever tricksters!" she protests.
"We're going home this instant," Jurian snaps. "And don't think I'll forget quickly." He shows absolutely no interest in his uncle's condition, though Aelia looks back over her shoulder as she's dragged away through the crowd that parts for the peevish prince.
Loryn sees that the situation is in hand and drifts away towards the sound of the Curious Mermaid.
Eonn appears again, from somewhere near that hydrangea that swallowed the cat. He steps towards Jurian and Aelia.
The worried expression awash across Marsei's delicate features escalates, tinged with an unease either related to Dhraegon's obvious state of unconsciousness or all the eyes — and ears — on the both of them. The Hightower guards heft the dead-weight of the Clown Prince, shirking the assistance of others to keep his grace safe; Marsei, however, as she slowly rises, hands upon her knees, murmurs a polite if distant thank-you to Ampere despite his earlier comment. She trails quickly after Dhraegon, a new worry forming as she watches Aelia's forced removal as well. She tears her eyes away and, as she leaves the garden, the lady's head is tipped down as if in prayer.
Eonn follows the prince and princess away, silent on his soft soled boots and gaining on them for a bit before he slows to match them, about six yards behind.
The situation is in hand — and so is the slumbering prince, being manhandled tenderly away to his cart and his bed at the head of a procession of elegant ladies — and the butterfly woman's gaze flickers for a short distance after the Hightower party and then darts this way and that, following certain fragments of the crowd as it begins to disperse, all joviality somehow lost. Her hand curves in around the elderly merchant's arm in a familiar way. She remarks, "I don't know your Westerosi games, but surely that is not how it was meant to be played…?" And then, rising on tip toe towards his ear and leaning in against his back, she adds a more private remark.
The merchant starts a little, "I think not." He twists and bends a bit to make her whispering easier. He gives her a wicked, wicked smile, and with a bow, attempts to lead her deeper into the gardens.
The butterfly woman lets go of his arm to tuck her other hand through it; "I suppose another dance would not hurt, would it?" she allows, giving him a crooked smile which turns her expression almost familiar despite the paint. And nobody who's had an eye on them this evening can be in the least surprised if they become so absorbed in trade negotiations they're not seen again.
Once the guards have carried away the Clown Prince, a rather slender, frail looking Dornish troubadeur in a brilliant caftan of many colours takes up his snake and begins to blow something cheerful in the hopes the dancing will start again and the mood lighten.