(123-10-12) Prince Jurian Requests the Pleasure
Prince Jurian Requests the Pleasure
Summary: … of your presence at an evening party on his special dragon barge.
Date: 12/10/2016
Related: None

Invitations have gone out, word of mouth has spread, and boats are in the harbor. Not just any boats, but barges, meaning they are long and flat in appearance, with plenty of room aboard for revelers, entertainment, and booze. One of the barges waiting in the harbor is quite distinctive: black with a red deck, a prow shaped like a dragon's head rearing up in front, and a tail to balance it aft. The other craft are much more nondescript, probably rented for the occasion. On all the craft, being that furniture is not practical to boats, but neither is drunkenly standing on a watercraft for the entire party, red and black cushions have been strewn round in what some might consider a Dornish style. The best place, near the prow of the dragon boat, has been liberally cushioned, and Jurian is already seated there next to his sister, Aelia, both looking quite comfortable. Casks of various wines, ciders, and liquors and wooden cups have been arranged down the center of each craft, along with finger foods. Gangplanks make each boat available for boarding now.

Loryn is off at the Whimsy which means his lady wife, Miranda Tyrell, is here to represent the Great House of the Reach. Blush pink and embroidered in roses as befits her married House, her dress is entirely demure and high at the bust. A jeweled holy star accents it. She's helped out of her litter by a guardsman as they stop at the gangplank. Miranda smiles and takes the corner of her gown daintily in hand as she ascends. "Your Graces- such a perfect day for a party! Seven smile on you." Says the girl who would have been a septa if not for the acting impresario. She makes a low and elegant curtsey for the Royals.

Dhraegon is resplendent in a new long-sleeved silk overtunic, a tad too pink to be Targaryen red, to match his Lady Wife. The silk is so light and thin as to be essentially transparent and shot through with gold thread in a delicate, decidedly eastern design. This over a creamy Dornish influenced caftan-like undertunic. He giggles at the greeting and gives Miranda a shy smile, clinging to his wife's side. It's his first public outing in a crowd in months.

The Hightower bride of Dhraegon Targaryen is clad in a slim, free-moving, split-sleeved gown of vivi, glimmering layered silk — matching his — that, indeed, could be dragon-red, at a glance. In truth, it is too soft; too pink, when one looks closely, but it is, perhaps, an homage to her married house that is so prevalent in the dragon barge she and Dhraegon board. The modest front and contrarily sparse shoulders of her gown are speckled with softly squared gems — diamonds, perhaps — and Marsei touches these followed by the design of Dhraegon's overtunic. The whisperings on fashion dwindle as she spots Miranda ahead of them. "Lady Miranda! How lovely to see you," she greets admiringly before turning to greet Jurian and Aelia on their throne of pillows, beaming. "Your graces."

"Miranda Tyrell," Jurian acknowledges. "And it is my Uncle, and the Lady Marsei." He smiles up at them. "Is it not a fine barge they've made me?" he says, spreading out one arm to indicate the dragon-boat. Aelia bounces a little, beaming up at absolutely everyone. She is dressed in one of her blue dresses, trimmed with feathers, which clashes awfully with all the red and black.

Dhraegon gives Aelia a big goofy smile and opens a winglike sleeve for her, "Are you the bluebird of happiness today?" To Jurian he says, "The boat looks wonderful, nephew!"

No one in Oldtown society has glimpsed Princess Vhaerys Targaryen in a like length of time; but, being less a fixture, she has perhaps been less missed.

She is carried to the docks in a gilded, dragon-carved palanquin from which she emerges clad in another of her Valyrian gowns, stitched from the finest and glowingly reddest sandsilk: Targaryen blood red in truth. Accept no imitations. Fastened at each shoulder with a priceless brooch of rubies and black pearls forming the three-headed dragon which is the sigil of her house, the drape of it serves magnificetly to accentuate the length of her tall, slender, one might almost say gaunt body. Delicate chains forged by a master goldsmith fall in three loops over each of her pale, lightly-muscled arms. She wears her hair loose as a hip-length veil of rippling white and gold, and her chin regally high; she stalks onto Prince Jurian's dragon barge as though it were her own, her hem carried in the hands of the young Lady Vysena Velaryon, who looks as though she has been weeping.

The elder princess takes two or three steps toward her host and hostess and then, taking the measure of the group gathered about them, aims instead for the outermost railing, to bestow a disdainful gaze upon the Sound.

Naturally, Marsei compliments the wholly out-of-place feathered blue dress. "How exotic you look this evening, Princess Aelia." Coming from Marsei, it is, of course, absolutely sincere and not the sugared insult it could be from another's lips. She dips her dimpled chin in agreement with Dhraegon to Jurian, then. "Truly, it looks as though it might take flight over the Sound any moment." The flash of red and gold and the air of regality out of the corner of her eye is impossible to miss, and so it is that her eye is drawn from the host to Vhaerys, whom she watches from palanquin to barge with an ever-so-slight stun to her expression.

Miranda makes another curtsey as the princess stalks her way onboard. "Your Grace," she says politely, eyes downcast. She turns to Jurian and Aelia and beams brightly. "It is a glorious barge as well. Thank you for the invitation. I'm sorry Ser Loryn isn't here to join us, rehearsals and all." She turns to the Clown Prince and offers a gentle smile. "Your Grace, did Princess Marsei give you the flower from my wedding? We chose it specifically for you since you couldn't join us. We had a lovely party- child mummer's and music and dance. And Loryn won the joust for me."

Aelia looks quite comfortable nesting, but she cannot resist Dhraegon's open arm. She bounds up, laughing, clasping her arms to Dhraegon's big frame. "Surely you will see that I am a heron, Uncle!" she cries. "I only had my long neck tucked down!" Aelia removes her face from her Uncle's chest to smile at Marsei. "You look like sunset." It's a compliment.

Jurian pipes up, "She wouldn't wear anything else!" A servant wisely bringes him a drink as he nods in response to the compliments he demanded. "It is Ser Loryn's loss," he says quite seriously to Miranda. "But you shall be the party's gain, I hope. Come be seated somewhere, the boat is bound to lurch on its launch."

Meanwhile, partygoers are being hustled aboard other boats so that they might all launch momentarily. Servants are beginning to circulate generally with food and drink, and entertainers with small instruments or balls to juggle for the nobles' delight also appear. Vhaerys will be offered drink at her railing, and cautioned that the boat will soon launch, which may cause momentary unsteadiness.

As the servants and deckhands start to cast off, a young man hurries his way through the crowd. "Shit, shit, shit," he curses, trying to get there before they depart. Loryn waves at Miranda on the deck and tries to straighten out his green and gold silk doublet as he hurries abroad. "Your Graces," he says with a breathless bow. "Sorry bout that, crowded walk from the Whimsy."

Dhraegon nods eagerly at Miranda's question, "It's lovely! We transplanted it right away into the butterfly garden! It was a very thoughtful thing to give! I love flowers! I wish I could have seen the mummers." Dhraegon hugs the princess bride, "You make a wonderful heron and your feathers are fine!" Dhraegon's wide eyes take in his true cousin's arrival in a glance and he bounces over to offer her hugs, "I'm sorry I wasn't well enough for visitors when you came. Can you forgive me? Would you like a drink?" He seems oblivious to any offence given or taken. His gaze takes in the Princess and the air near her with equal weight as if he sees a second figure there.

Marsei trails along after Dhraegon, lacking the bounce in his step on the way to Vhaerys. She smiles brightly at Loryn in passing, slightly quirked with kindly amusement for his rush; the expression is subdued when it turns to Vhaerys, her head moved down into a gentle, polite bow. She loops her arm through Dhraegon's snugly — once it is clear of hugging relatives — as the barge prepares to launch. Hopefully, such crafts are low-key enough not to set off the lady's newly discovered seasickness. To be safe, she forgoes the first round of drinks and food.

Flox hangs back, unobtrusively in case he is needed.

Jurian eyes the Tyrell disturbing things with his hurry and his panting, but decides on a smile. "You are welcome, Ser Loryn," he bids the man, gesturing to the boat with all its food, drink and entertainments. "Please. Make yourself merry."

Aelia returns to her brother's side and plumps down close to him. She spreads out her arms, overlapping into Jurian's personal space. "Herons spread out their wings when they hunt and it makes a shadow on the water," she tells Jurian, who pushes down on one of her arms to get it out of his face.

Lines are turned loose from the harbor and a couple of sailors on the fore and aft of each boat start to pole the barges out away from the harbor a bit, heading for a spot where the sights (and smells) are finer. There's a bit of a lurch at the start, but there will be little violent movement once the boats find a point to anchor.

Moments before the barge casts off from the quay another pale-haired beauty jumps aboard, breathless, holding up the skirts of a black silk gown almost the same as Lady Vysena's, but adorned with fewer blood-red trimmings. The gradations of rank must always be observed. To Targaryens it's plain at a glance that she's one of Princess Vhaerys's captivating dragonseed handmaidens; and, indeed, she hastens to her mistress's side, curtseying low and holding that perilous position regardless of any swell of the deck beneath her feet, until the princess has taken a moment to cast across Prince Jurian's servitor a vacant glance which suggests he isn't really there, to sip her wine, to contemplate its bouquet, and to notice she's there.

Then the princess puts out her hand, as though to be kissed, and an exchange is affected. One ruby and black pearl ring for another. She was already on her way when she changed her mind again. She lifts her hand, fingers splayed, admires the effect and deems it good, and rests it upon the railing to glitter in the torchlight reflected off the water. Even now she doesn't look particularly pleased. Her Targaryen face might be etched from white stone.

She greets her cousin's approach by lifting her glass in the air before her, as though about to drink from it — this has the effect of warding off hugs, unless he's so bold as to spill wine and crush glass against a woman who is regarding him with an unmistakable tightness about her violet eyes. "Dhraegon," she says coolly. "How unexpected. Of course I'm delighted to see they've let you out again — and with only the one keeper." She inclines her head toward Lady Marsei, giving her a mock smile of pleased surprise and a look which could freeze over the lava flows of the Dragonmont. But then her gaze roves as far as the unobtrusive grey figure of Flox, only to snap back to Prince Dhraegon's face. "Oh," she purrs silkily. "My mistake. Well. Good evening, cousin," and she nods to him, and glides past.

Miranda smiles as Loryn slips his arm around her waist and gives her a showy kiss with a slight dip to it. She ignores the summer sweat of someone who just legged it through half the city. Her nose barely wrinkles. "So glad, Your Grace," she replies to Dhraegon. Marsei is given a bright smile as well and a murmur of appreciation at how lovely she looks. The pair take offered drinks, Loryn enjoying a more robust vintage than his lady. Clearly he's worked up a thirst. The pair lurches as the ship starts away and he steadies her against him, using the moment to give her a squeeze. "Princess Aelia, blue is such a lovely color," Miranda compliments. "One of my favorites too."

Dhraegon seems oblivious of any tension between his wife and his closest blood relative or her coldness towards him. He is all smiles for everyone. He does seem to have the sense not to risk wine spills. He seems confused by her references to a keeper, "I was very ill after the trip to Dorne. It was long and full of people and feasts and things… Are you or your brother angry at me Vhaerys? You didn't come to tea…." Of Aelia he asks, "And what is our Heron hunting?" Instinctively he attempts to steady the Lady Marsei as the boat lurches, giving her a concerned look.

Marsei clings further to Dhraegon's arm and waits with delicate trepidation after the lurch, as if expecting it to get better rather than worse. When it's smooth sailing (or floating) afterward, she seems to relax a little bit. Her aura of warmth is a formidable barrier against the freezing gaze of Vhaerys, but she hardly has the opportunity to use it; she's poised to give the Targaryen a worthy greeting of respect along with her usual unaffected friendliness … but never quite finds the right spot before the statuesque dragon is moving past her. "I do not confess to know her, but…" she asides quietly to only Dhraegon, "Perhaps you should extend your invitation again to her later, and without me."

Aelia looks up at Miranda and smiles. "Yes, it is the best color for herons," she informs the Tyrell. Her wide eyes fall on Dhraegon next. "Herons are carnivores," is her bright, yet potentially disturbing answer.

"Carnivors, eh? Maybe you can catch us fish for supper," Loryn jokes to Aelia. Miranda nudges him gently at that. "I'm sure Prince Jurian has a lovely table already set to nibble on. Why don't we go look," the lady says diplomatically, steering him away to the refreshments. She flashes a look over her shoulder at Marsei. Husbands - go figure.

Dhraegon does not seem disturbed by Aelia's pronouncement. "That makes sense." To Loryn and Miranda he says, "I have had great fun with the puppet theater and the new garden is coming well." He murmurs something soft to his wife, then catches a passing glass and offers it to her.

Marsei catches Miranda's eye and smiles; the knowing — again, amused — kindness in it could easily be commiseration, although it would be difficult to compare Loryn and Dhraegon. She nods her head after a whisper from the latter, and whatever was spoken prompts her to look thoughtfully toward Jurian and — the apparently carnivorous — Aelia. She sips the drink given to her, now that it nor her stomach sways too much. "I find it a treat to see a heron," she tells Aelia after a moment. "They are so elegant to look upon."

"Yes," Aelia agrees with Marsei about how elegant she is. "And we are called blue, but come in several colors and also we mate for life." She smiles at Jurian.

"Come, we should all settle in," he says, largely ignoring his sister. "Shall we have a game of dice, or summon one of the minstrels to play for us?" On the various boats, servants also begin circulating strips of parchment with pen and ink for poetry submissions.

Nothing Prince Dhraegon says to Princess Vhaerys suffices to retain her in Hightower company; she gives him a deliberate, shining, rather brittle smile and passes on along the boat, toward the prow where her host reclines in state with his, er, heron by his side… Those red and black cushions look inviting.

"Dear Jurian," she drawls in belated greeting, "and Aelia, what a striking gown." It strikes, in fact, at the heart of all she holds dear; but let us not digress. "It's so good of you both," and without need of invitation she kneels down gracefully among the cushions at Prince Jurian's other side, "to offer an evening's pleasure to all your acquaintance in Oldtown," her smile gives him to understand that she, for once, comprehends the extent of his condescension, "at a time when you would be justified in thinking only of one another…" And she converts that posture into another more recumbent. Four feminine hands arrange cushions for her support and folds of glowing red silk for her modesty; she pays no heed to them, casually unconscious of the attendants who smooth over every little discomfort in her life.

There is a solicitous sort of protectiveness in Dhraegon's posture towards his wife regardless of the disapproval some might have for him grafting instead of marrying to sister or cousin like sensible folk. "What would you like best, My Sanguinaria?" his tone is gentle and fond as he addresses the newlyweds, "I hope you are both as happily wed as we." He casts a glance in his true cousin's direction and lifts his chin a little, a hint of dragonish backbone in him after all. "Vhaerys, I think that your petals are stunning today."

"Ah," says Jurian to Vhaerys as she comes to recline beside him, "You join us. I thought we must share our love with all the quality of Oldtown before we marry, as we may be all the more taken up with one another once we are wed," he explains. "You are so good to join us. Which do you like the best: music, games, or poetry?" He seems to have at least started out with his best behavior, today. Maybe the steady drinking helps. Or the fact that his sister's hands aren't in his face for a moment.

"As to entertainment?" Marsei asks Dhraegon and turns her benevolent smile upon him and beyond to the the assortment of perfectly pillowed Targaryens. "I am partial to any. Whichever is best to your liking," she defers. She knows her present company.

The lady-in-waiting arranges with tender hands Princess Vhaerys's mane of pale hair; the handmaiden positions herself to block, with her own slender and shapely young body, the breeze which might presume to ruffle it. Both girls keep their heads suitably bowed. They are not truly a part of the Targaryen tableau, but in their radiant submissive blondeness they surely enhance it.

"And so was it good of you to invite me," answers the elder princess to the young prince, on her own best behaviour in the company of relations of whom she can approve. She drapes one arm over the curve of her hip, holding her glass idle in it, and inclines her head toward him. "I think I should say… music," she decides, "for it precludes no other pleasures, but on the contrary often complements them." But then she hears her name spoken in unusually determined tones, and her gaze lifts and flies straight as an arrow to Prince Dhraegon. "Yours also," she fires back, chilly and sweet as her white wine, voice raised just enough to be certain everyone will hear. "What would you call that colour, cousin? That pink which isn't quite a true red?"

Dhraegon wrinkles his brow a little, "What sort of poetry? A recital of Valyrian love poems, maybe?" He looks down at himself, contemplating, "Frangipani, maybe? Or Crimson Phlox? No, that's too red." Suddenly decisive, "I think our petals are frangipani today."

Jurian makes a gesture to summon a musician with a small harp and a clear, yet gentle voice. The girl comes nearer, though not too near, to provide the party with a little background music to smooth some of the rough edges of their interactions. "Now," he says, "We can each have a roll of dice to see who may join us in judging the poetry contest." He lifts his chin a bit, regarding Dhraegon. "If you know any love poetry, you must recite it for us, uncle!" He may be teasing. "But I had announced a competition in comic verse. I thought it would be /fun/." He watches people over the rim of his cup while a servant goes to get dice.

Knowing that Dhraegon will name their matching colour some manner of splendid flower, she looks up at him with adoring expectance before he's answered Vhaerys. When he does, however, she smiles to the princess — subdued, compared to her normal beaming, as though not to offend the eyes of a person not adjusted to the bright sun. "But no colour is as commanding as yours, your grace," she tells Vhaerys, and like her compliment toward Aelia's blue feather gown, there are no jagged edges to her voice, even though her joy is less. "We have many shades of red in our gardens." She turns to watch the minstrel play.

The girl minstrel receives a tolerant little smile from Princess Vhaerys, who has been known to notice entertainers, albeit generally to have them dismissed for hurting her ears: the smile fades as she looks away, down into the glass she's raising once more to her wide, reddened mouth. She doesn't seem to have paid much attention to Prince Dhraegon's justification of his watered-down house colours. She looks up again as Lady Marsei speaks. "I have always found that red suits me," she agrees, without danger of false modesty; "though one would hardly expect to see anything of the like upon a Hightower's back." She lifts her eyebrows. "Altogether I think I must commend you for your brave choice this evening — one cannot doubt your devotion to your husband."

Dhraegon sits down, catching a goblet for himself to sip and offering his wife a spot by his side. Dhraegon shakes his head, giggling, "I mostly know nursery songs and I've not drunk enough for those…." He looks at Vhaerys with some confusion, too much having gone over his head, perhaps.

A cup with three bone dice inside is brought to Jurian, who takes it from the servant without thanks. He watches the exchange between Vhaerys, Dhraegon, and Marsei with interest, and possibly amusement. Aelia looks happy, but seems to have no sense of what is going on. Jurian passes her his cup, which still has some wine in it that she dips her head to drink. "Now," says Jurian, "We'll all roll, and whoever beats my roll may have a vote on the winning poetry selection," he announces to their little family group. That said, he shakes the cup (padded with felt on the inside so as not to rattle jarringly) and tips out the three carved dice. "Twelve," he reads. He scoops the dice back in and offers the cup to Vhaerys.

Marsei only smiles agreeingly to Vhaerys, tucking a strand of her hair — soft and light in contrast to the reddish hue of her gown — behind an ear. She's notably hesitant to sit down, although it could have as much to do with the notion of pillows (they're not in Dorne anymore) as much as her marked position as an outsider among the Targaryens. She hands Dhraegon her cup so she may sit down neatly beside him, tucking her knees to one side toward him and arranging her skirt before retrieving her drink.

Princess Vhaerys's attention lingers upon Lady Marsei rather than letting well enough alone. The largest of her ruby rings glows with torchlight held and reflected, bright against her Targaryen pallor, as she accepts the cup from Prince Jurian and gives it the casual rattle of one who is not all invested in these childish games. "The red, it comes from the Tully side of your family, does it not?" she inquires lightly, spilling the dice across the rug in front of her. It's possible this is the longest conversation she has ever had with her cousin's bride. She breaks it off, however, and looks down. "Twelve," she pronounces. To her host she remarks with another brittle smile, "We are alike, no?"

Dhraegon obediently holds her drink, gazing adoringly at her, and relinquishes it the moment she wants it again. His oblivious smile suggests that he is happy the women are chatting so nicely and that he is missing the subtext entirely. When it is his turn, he rolls twelve as well, giggling. "We are all the same!"

Jurian flashes a smile at Vhaerys. "Indeed, in many ways," he agrees, and looks on with interest as Dhraegon rolls the same number, too. "It must be something in the blood," he says. "I wonder what the number twelve means."

Marsei's gaze was drifting between the inside of her cup of wine and the roll of the bone dice; given the clipped length of their previous conversations before now, she wasn't expecting the continued line of question from Vhaerys. "Yes," she replies cheerily enough. "Only my brothers and I inherited the red." As Dhraegon's dice roll to a stand-still, she, too, is still. Logically, she'd be next. "Oh, don't know if I…" she starts softly but, feeling watched - whether she is or not - she reaches a delicate hand forward and rolls.


Eleanor has been lingering on the edges of this gathering all evening, saying little but listening to whatever catches her interest. She has dressed as a proper lady ought, in layers upon layers of diaphanous sapphire blue material, with bodice and hair decked out in glitter and feathers to catch the eye. She drinks, however, like a proper lady oughtn't, and it is already showing in a certain droop of her eyelids and bemused expression. When the third number 12 is rolled, she bursts into a rather unladylike fit of giggles, though she at least attempts to cover her mouth with the back of one hand.

"You, I've seen you before," Jurian says, indicating Eleanor with his chin. "You'll roll as well, if you have good taste. But if you don't, don't." There's that Jurian charm.

Aelia enters the conversation to mention, "Herons have powder down."

The cup turns up in Eleanor's hand, and she blinks at it, suddenly serious as she realizes something is expected of her. She concentrates for a long moment, and then her brows go up. "Oh!" She shakes the cup and rolls the dice, which comes up as a 6. She looks up, blinking slowly, then smiles at Jurian. "Oh, I /have/ good taste," she announces, passing the cup to whoever is nearest, whether it's the correct person or not. "The best." Then, completely oblivious to having lost the roll, her attention returns to her drink. Or at least, the empty cup that once was a drink.

The Clown Prince attests that the three of them are the same: Princess Vhaerys affects mild surprise, as though the thought had not occurred to her. "Are we?" she inquires dryly of him and Prince Jurian both. Whilst Lady Marsei takes her turn with the dice her white-golden head turns at the end of her long, elegant neck, and she murmurs something over her shoulder to the Velaryon girl kneeling in attendance close behind. She looks back into the little circle of Targaryens and Reachladies, eyes narrowed as she takes in everyone's faces: "What is it?" she asks. "What did she roll?" For she isn't near enough to have counted fourteen pips, and Lady Marsei didn't speak aloud.

Dhraegon looks intrigued, "What's powder down?" He nods very seriously to Vhaerys, "Our parents were not grafted." He counts slowly, lips moving, "Fourteen!" Dhraegon beams up at Eleanor, "Come sit with us! I'm Dhraegon, but you can call me Uncle! Do you like cakes?"

Marsei beckons Eleanor with a warm and, quite frankly, hopeful smile (regardless of the Florent lady's reputation). She tips her chin up, trying — half-successfully — to see the marks on each die cast by the other Reachlady and tries not to look too disappointed when it doesn't seem to add up to a particularly high number. She glances aside at her husband's more overt welcome, but goes easily along. "Lady Eleanor, is that right?" There's scarcely a Reachlady she hasn't kept track of in some manner. Whatever her misgivings about the prospect of judging a poetry contest with Prince Jurian, she smiles optimistically. "I wonder who has entered poems?"

Jurian claps his hands together. "Then it's decided. Lady Marsei and I alone shall judge the competition." Apparently Aelia doesn't get to. A servant goes off to work on collecting the last of the entries. "The servants are tasked with bringing us just a few of the best, anonymous" he says directly to Marsei. "I'll have them read aloud and then the two of us will pick the winner or winners."

Dhraegon stares off into space vacantly, mouth open and drooling slightly. Then he giggles and beams at them. "I know one! Can I put one in too?" He hastens to write out a poem and hand it in.

Eleanor's attention is drawn to the pair, and she hesitates a moment. She glances down at her cup, which happens to be empty, and apparently that decides her. With great care and a bit of wobbling, she draws herself up from her pile of cushions, and totters her way over to Marsei and Dhraegon, then settles onto whatever pillow might be available. "Lady Eleanor is correct," she answers, with a glance between the two. "I do not believe you are my uncle, sir, but I will call you that if you like. And of course I like cake. Everyone likes cake."

Fourteen? Perhaps it's fortunate that at that moment a fresh and full glass of wine is offered to Princess Vhaerys, from a servant but via her lady-in-waiting. It deflects somewhat her initial impulse. Her violet eyes only narrow as she sips from it, and sips again. "But of course," she drawls, sharing a smile with Prince Jurian at her side. "One ever expects to find a Hightower rising above all others."

Dhraegon waves someone over to pour the Florent more wine and top off his own goblet and that of his Lady Wife. He peers at her, "Did we share sugar plums at the big argument in from of the dragon Manse between young Daevon, Ser Quillian and the very rude Dornishman? Or was that someone else? I like cake too. What is your favorite kind?" He asks this last question as if it is a matter of grave importance.

"Lady Marsei," the redhead introduces to Eleanor through the very important cake inquiry, which she seems to take to be perfectly reasonable. She's been taking a page from Dhraegon and Aelia's book and seeming as though she cannot hear the underlying meanings in Vhaerys's words to her. She has poetry to hear. "How fun!" After all, this isn't too different from other competitions she's judged, is it? She's played host to them before: art and embroidery, song and dance.

A little time must pass in drinking and appreciating the talents of the harpist, who is joined by another singer with a tambourine for a duet, while some servant somewhere does the hard work of narrowing down the selections. Finally, one emerges with a handful of papers, and proceeds to read (so that no noble need be made to feel silly by performing comic verse. There are four poems under consideration:

"There once was a lady from Oldtown,
Set to harvest the men of the whole town.
And oh she did laugh,
Sorting wheat from the chaff,
In the end, every stalk had been mown down."

"There once was a Lord of House Reed,
Who ate a whole bushel of seed.
In less than an hour,
his nose was a flower,
and his head was a garden of weeds!"

"There once was a blind lad from Crownlands
Learned the shape of the world with his own hands
Stopped the practice one day
When his hand went astray
And discovered new parts of his old man's!"

"An elderly man from Longtable
Has a love with thick tresses of sable.
They haven't yet wed,
And she's not seen his bed,
But she has the best stall in the stable!"

Eleanor blinks at the question, then leans toward Draegon to somberly answer, "The sweet kind." She seems to find this answer perfectly reasonable. Or at least, she now has a drink in her hand, and so is distracted by the need to give it a sip. Then there are poems being read and she glances in that direction to give the proper laughs at the proper times. Maybe a few improper ones, as well.

Dhraegon nods slowly and solemnly at the Lady Eleanor's answer, "Very wise." He honestly is trying to go slowly with his wine and not outpace his wife. However, apparently he DOES grasp the import of the first verse and empties his goblet at one go, holding it out for more and hiding his red face in his wife's hair. his face stays firmly hidden for the rest. He moans weakly, "Brandy. I think I need brandy…."

Miranda has stopped Loyrn from entering a verse; its probably for the best. She doesn't quiet seem to get the more ribald joke) but she settles with his help on a nearby pillow. The Tyrell lord just sniggers and promises to tell her later.

Even the third glass of wine in Princess Vhaerys's grasp fails to inspire her with more than an icy tolerance of the recital of such limericks, though it seems to have put an end to the sniping for the time being.

Loryn looks rather put out. He had a good one by the pout on his face.

Miranda relents when he gives her those big puppy eyes. He grabs a scroll and contributes gleefully.

There's just one more verse to try Vhaerys's patience, after the servant pauses for air. Or shame. And is handed a last parchment.

"There once was a maid of the Reach,
Who had certain skills she could teach.
She could sing any note
with a flute down her throat
So the sailors her skills would beseech."

And that concludes the readings. Jurian chuckles and claps his hands. "Well, what a selection!" he says, then looks straight at Marsei. "What do you say, Lady Marsei?"

Propriety is an altogether more concerning matter for Marsei, who doesn't share in the laughter, and whose expression has become stuck in one of worry and consideration, in contrast with her turn to optimism moments ago. If there is one thing she has in common with Vhaerys, it is the dislike of such limericks, although her way of showing it is altogether different: the corners of her rosy lips deepen, fending off a blush in her own cheeks. Dhraegon's red face is a closer match to her gown than the ginger of her hair. She lays a reassuring hand on his. And then there's another one. "I-I don't know about… // these// sorts of poems," she says quietly, looking between her prince husband and prince host. "Is there… a prize…?" Will she helping someone win something?

Miranda furrows her brow in confusion. She glances at her wine as if that's the cause of the awkward redness. Loryn is entirely pleased by the entries and grins at Jurian. Miranda doesn't seem to understand why the reactions are quite so uncomfortable. He promises, again, to fill her in later, a soft kiss on her rosy cheeks.

Jurian grins at Marsei. "Technically, the poems are anonymous," he says. "Of course, if someone wants congratulations and cares to step forward…" He smiles and rolls a shoulder. "Which sounds the best to you?" he asks. "Let's see, we have one about agriculture, one about horticulture, one about overcoming a handicap, one about a keen equestrian, and one about musical instruction. I thought the equestrian one was particularly clever." He looks to Aelia, who smiles but seems to have no opinion as none of the poems mentioned birds.

At first, Eleanor attempts to maintain a polite expression of confusion, but after a couple of poems, her lips crack into a smile, which she hides behind her wine glass. Then she almost snorts wine, and it's all over. By the end of it all, she's giggling behind her hand, all too oblivious to Marcie and Drae's embarrassment.

Whilst Prince Jurian and his lady guests deliberate upon the party's poetical offerings Princess Vhaerys turns the other way upon her cushions and gives her glass into her handmaiden's keeping. For her lady-in-waiting she has the higher-status task of lending a hand to get her to her feet upon the barge's slightly-swaying deck. Red silk pools about her feet and trails over the carpets as she moves, again toward a railing some slight distance away. Her hair flows pristinely down her back, a pale river in the moonlight.

Eleanor's nearby amusement is only serving to further test Marsei's ability to seriously consider the poetry. She doesn't look in the other lady's direction, not even out of the corner of her eye. "W-well," she responds, determined. She can't simply shirk her newfound judging duty, not when Jurian is expectant. "I thought the one with the flowers sounded the most whimsical."

Miranda nods with Eleanor. "It was precious." She takes a small sip of her drink. "What a unique grouping of poems. I'm more used to writing hymns," she confesses with a tiny smile.

Eleanor gives a snort of laughter that she hides behind her hand, as Marcie announces the winner, then quickly attempts to hide it by taking another drink. Which might be counter-productive, but that's drunk logic for you.

Jurian shakes his head. "Whimsical," he repeats. "I think you've taken on Uncle's taste for flowers, have you not?" He clicks his tongue and gestures for a fresh glass of wine. "But fair is fair. If we do not agree, we must announce the two as winners." He lifts a glass and makes a gesture for quiet. "My friends, my sister and I thank you for your presence with us tonight, your inventive verses, and your good wishes for the future. The Lady Marsei and I, meanwhile, have selected two winning poems, which shall be announced presently. The authors may unmask, or remain anonymous, at their own preference. But I shall remember the good spirit of the gathering most of all, on this night when my sister and I look forward to having you all with us again, in body or in spirit, when we soon celebrate our wedding! A toast to creation, of verse and of new bonds!" Glasses are generally refreshed.

The Tyrell raises his glass (his third or fourth) and toasts, "May the Seven bless you with as much joy as Mi and myself." He grins at his lady wife, knowing the mention of the Gods will win points with her. Her smile as she echoes the toast says it worked.

Dhraegon gratefully helps himself to his new goblet of brandy, still red to the ears, "There are maidens present." Though nearly everyone here is married. He holds the goblet out for refreshing before lifting it in toast. So much for his attempt to stay sober on the boat. "May your flowers ever bloom and your melons be abundant and sturdy of rind!"

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