Roleplay - A Masked Ball in Padova

AuthorMessage
Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
Sam Underhill on Jan 20, 2014 wrote:
"HI!! ANNE!!" Sam cheerfully called out across the crowded room. Everyone turned to look at her. She had somehow changed back into her pirate garb and drawn her sword. She backed away from the masses but behind her were two Armada Dragoons. One reached out and pulled the sword forcibly from her hand while the other clasped both hands on her arms, rendering her helpless. The Doge above shook his head sadly as she was force marched out to the waiting execution ground beside the buffet tables in the garden. Her crew, all dressed in black, stood somberly by, heads bowed.

"GUILTY!" cried Deacon. "Guilty," spoke Bishop. "Guilty," said Rooke.

Anne was swiftly tied to a flagpole while six Armada Musketeers paraded in. They stood in formation, then raised their guns as Orlando, the Doge's son, raised his sword. Sam waved a hesitant 'Hi' from the crowd. Kane then stepped forward and called out. "Ready! Aim! FIR..."

The whole thing had taken but a blink of an eye in Anne's imagination. Her mind reeled as she burrowed further against her 'mother."

'Sam, Sam, please don't see me.'
(OOC: haha, Sam. But don't you think those are rather 'gothic' imaginings for my cheerful Anne... oh, wait a minute... the real Ann Radcliffe, 18th C. author and pioneer of the gothic novel... sure, it fits! But as Omar said, back to the story.)

Chrissy followed at what she felt was the appropriate discrete distance to the Vinaldi 'family', keeping her eyes and ears open. Her fingers once again smoothed down her silk gown, a lovely soft deep blue that reminded Chrissy of dusk in Skull Island, the sleeves ending in a cuff of the same fabric adorned with a silver cord in a simple yet pleasing pattern, and the gown open over a carmine-colored petticoat, whose plainness did not disguise that it was deeply dyed with expensive cochineal.

[I just yesterday saw a digital image of this gown, which had been a c. 1775 Wedding gown, in the Met's costume collection, and had to use it! ]

As befitted a lady's maid and chaperone of young girls, Chrissy's honey-colored hair was mostly pinned under a pretty white cap. She too felt relief that the Doge seemed to accept all of them for what they seemed to be. As she glanced over at the Doge, she saw him respectfully greeting an elderly female Unicorn, accompanied by three young women: one a Unicorn, and the other two human. She looked up, admiring the beautiful paintings that splashed with artistic abandon across the high ceiling, when all of a sudden that half-familiar frisson skittered across her mind.

Magic? Chrissy wondered, automatically feeling alarm, even though she had just learned she was something of an heiress in the domain of magic. She quickly scanned the area for Omar, but did not see him. Of course, none of the musicians were visible to her yet. She could be sensing Omar... but, no. She realized she was sensing magic being used. Omar's magic? Something related to the promised entertainment the Doge had spoken proudly of? Or something else? She did not know. Her gift did not know the difference between magic used for good or ill. Chrissy shivered, hoping it was none of the latter.

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
CdeWinter on Jan 19, 2014 wrote:
OOC: I love this post Anne. It seems somepeople already have their doubts about the Vinaldi girls, I'm wondering what will happen when they actually start interacting with the other guests. And lovely little story about Scarlet's mother, I think it would suit her personality quite nicely. (at least the little bit I've thought up)
(OOC: He he, Scarlet -- your logical ideas made some of the plot spin off in a new direction. I like it! I'm hoping you will too... Now, as long as I can keep track of all the threads....)

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
Just Add Bacon on Jan 19, 2014 wrote:
Mariella, upon seeing the lion mask-wearing gentleman waltz over and offer some punch to her eldest sister, grinned from ear to ear. "Have fun, Isabella!" As she currently had her arm linked to her sister, Mariella rested her hand on Isabella's and gave her the biggest smile before turning on her heel and linking arms with her younger sister. "Oh, Violetta! What a wonderful night!" She lowered her voice, smiling with a slightly impish twinkle in her eyes. "It appears Isabella has been noticed by a few gentlemen here. And the gentlemen aren't the only ones -- It seems as if our friends Duchessa Chiara and her husband have noticed all of us as well. The Duchessa seems positively astounded by your beautiful dress, dear sister! Oh, what a fantastic night this has turned out to be, and it's only just started!" Mariella giggled and raised her gaze. The palace looked so wonderful and golden, warm and inviting, so incredibly wonderful. It was absolutely magnificent just to be here, and the pleasure of this was very clearly written on Mariella's face. "Oh, dear Violetta, how amazing it is to be here." She murmured as a couple walked by. "It's amazing how much attention our family has already gotten in this short amount of time, don't you think?" Lizzy gave Anne a pointed nudge that was perfectly disguised as Mariella leaning into her sister while walking. "It's such an honor to be invited to this marvelous place! I can't wait to dance in these fine halls!"

Lizzy's mind was overwhelmed with all sorts of thoughts, the effects made worse by that fact that all around her people were gossiping just as much as she was, if not more, as impossible as it seemed to the swashbuckler. Though she remained completely aware of all of her surroundings and never once did she let her character slip, she allowed herself her own thoughts. Her first private thought, a thought that she had made as Elizabeth and not Mariella, was of what her 'mother' had described of Orlando, the Doge's son. She didn't fancy him, though she admired the fact that he so strongly cared for his education. She probably would have been the same way, if she hadn't been dragged into the mess with the armada... if her parents hadn't died... Lizzy wondered which University she might have been accepted to, if she had taken the educational path that she had wanted to. Definitely a Valencian one, she decided. She gazed to Orlando, which on the outside was Mariella momentarily vexed by the squid mask. Someday, thought the swashbuckler, when this is all over, I'd like to really meet you. No armada, no need for weapons, no pirating, no favors, no war, no disguises. Just who we really are. I'd really like to meet you, to be able to focus on my education like you. Someday.

Mariella evidently concluded that Orlando's squid mask looked just plain funny, and turned to gaze at other guests' masks.
(That was a really lovely sequence, Lizzy, very moving and sweet. Just had to say.)

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
Jack was one step behind Chrissy, prepared to take on his expected role as footman (which, as far as he could tell, was mostly to stand at the sidelines and be ready to serve whenever needed) when he found himself signaled over by the Master of Ceremonies. His pulse rate increased, but he coolly reminded himself to stay in character.

He found himself in a short scrum with several other footmen, mostly human but a couple Mice or Rats in different colored liveries, all being directed by the rather harried-looking Master of Ceremonies, a well-dressed and rather self-important-looking Guinea Pig.

"Ah, another human," he commented, looking at Jack. "Good. We have precious few masks that will fit those long Rat faces." He turned to another Guinea Pig, who was busy taking notes. "If you see any more Rat footmen, just let them go in with their masters. Hopefully we'll have enough as it is to please the Serene Prince." His subordinate made an assenting noise. The Master of Ceremonies muttered 'why can't there be more humans to go around' then cleared his throat and addressed Jack and the other footmen assembled.

"His Excellency, the Doge, wishes to honor the power and protection of our Armada at the Ball this evening by having as many footmen as possible dress as our Clockwork Heroes and stand in your expected places. Your masters will not require you," he continued, looking at a footman who had begun to protest. "The banquet is of the old fashioned kind, not a dance supper. You will be given appropriate garments, mock wooden guns, and masks. Register your own livery and masks with my people here, and you will collect them after the Ball, before your masters leave. In the meantime, as there is to be an opera, you have no official duties, and so a supper has been provided for you."

A low murmur of approval sounded. Jack understood this was unusual consideration for mere servants. The Guinea Pig looked pleased. "The Doge is a good master," he stated proudly.

Commodore
Sep 20, 2009
814
Sam Underhill on Jan 18, 2014 wrote:
"There we were in Mooshu, surrounded by Ninja Pigs..."
"Did you see what she was wearing..."
"So much pirate activity recently..."
"So he lowered his horn and..."
"With someone half his age..."
"Brought up on charges, if you ask me..."
"Mauve is just not her color..."
"So I said to her, 'Have you ever?", and she said 'No, I haven't'..."
"The boy's a bit of a twit, can you believe he has a Human professor..."
"They aren't even real diamonds anyway..."
"Blasted Marleyboneans broke their half of the treaty first..."
"Doesn't look well at all, I wouldn't be surprised if..."
"I hope the Armada puts things to right soon, we're losing money hand over hoof as it is..."
"Oh look, His Pomposity is coming over to grace us with with presence..."

Sam's ears were assaulted on every side by the constant babble. He took a petit four from the proferred tray and was pleasantly surprised how good it tasted. Perhaps he should give his regards to the pastry chef. The serving girl had moved on and Magdelena was dragging him into another bout of 'polite' conversation.

"So young Throckmorton, enjoying yourself?" His inquisitor was a finely dressed grey Unicorn wearing the badge of office of - Sam quickly searched his memory - Chancellor?

"Indeed yes, Your Grace. I must truly admit to never seeing anything like this before." He debated adding a 'Cor," but wisely decided against it.

"Look, the Vinaldi family has arrived." Most everyone in the hall turned to gather a brief view of the newcomers before resuming their own gossiping. Sam spotted a collection of Unicorns and Humans bowing to the Doge and his son. "No doubt the Duke did not join them." Contempt riddled the Chancellor's tone.

"Your Grace," Magdelena had spotted the situation and came forward quickly to rescue Sam from making any dangerous errors, "Why is it I do not seen your lovely wife this evening? Does that mean you are free to share a dance with me later?" She batted her eyes and delivered a devastating Pout at him. Sam was pleased it had not been turned on him.

"Maestra Vendelino, I do hope the funding for the Library has not suffered under your current... protectors?" The Padovans had a certain knack for turning ordinary sentences into threats.

"I am sure you have the authority to prevent that from happening, Your Grace," Magdelena acknowledged, allowing him the small victory. After the smiling Chancellor had departed, "Incompetent windbag," she muttered, so softly Sam thought he must have imagined it.

Sam took a moment and reassessed the crowd at the hall. It was filling up quite quickly now, and people were beginning to wonder about the forthcoming entertainment. He spotted a young lady... staring at him? It must be the lion costume. Wait a minute, wasn't she one of the Vinaldi children? Magdelena was busy chatting up a pair of Guinea Pigs, so Sam collected two glasses of punch and approached the Vinaldi girl.

"Thirsty?" he wittily opened.
"Thirsty?" The words pulled Scarlet out of her mind, snapping her into the present. She was Isabella Vinaldi, she had to act as if she had at least been to some balls before this one.

Isabella glanced sideways at her little sister Mariella, and giggled conspiratorily, while still mostly looking at the young gentleman. I hope that was a passable giggle, Scarlet thought to herself. Outwardly, Isabella only giggled a bit more as she let go of Mariella and accepted the drink with a small "Merci, Thank you."

Isabella quickly glanced over her shoulder at her sisters, smiled again, and noticed Anne trying very hard to hide herself beside Alcina. She also saw that her attendent Lucia had stopped, and stayed standing nearby. Bien, perhaps Chrissy can get me away from here without being rude, Scarlet thought.

Isabella, however, smiled at the young man, flickered her fan and began a conversation.
"I do not zink we 'ave met monsieur. You sound Marleybonian Oui? Please, you must tell me all about your 'home."
As she spoke, Isabella slowly walked in a circle untill the young gentleman's back was to the retreating figure of Violetta.

Gunner's Mate
May 28, 2013
284
CdeWinter on Jan 21, 2014 wrote:
"Thirsty?" The words pulled Scarlet out of her mind, snapping her into the present. She was Isabella Vinaldi, she had to act as if she had at least been to some balls before this one.

Isabella glanced sideways at her little sister Mariella, and giggled conspiratorily, while still mostly looking at the young gentleman. I hope that was a passable giggle, Scarlet thought to herself. Outwardly, Isabella only giggled a bit more as she let go of Mariella and accepted the drink with a small "Merci, Thank you."

Isabella quickly glanced over her shoulder at her sisters, smiled again, and noticed Anne trying very hard to hide herself beside Alcina. She also saw that her attendent Lucia had stopped, and stayed standing nearby. Bien, perhaps Chrissy can get me away from here without being rude, Scarlet thought.

Isabella, however, smiled at the young man, flickered her fan and began a conversation.
"I do not zink we 'ave met monsieur. You sound Marleybonian Oui? Please, you must tell me all about your 'home."
As she spoke, Isabella slowly walked in a circle untill the young gentleman's back was to the retreating figure of Violetta.
Sam delivered a courtly bow to Isabella, and planted an air kiss on the back of her hand. "My gracious, my intense apologies signorina. I am Sam Throckmorton, indeed of Marleybone. I am here in the company of the delightful Maestra Magdelena Vendelino of the Laurentine Library." He gestured with his glass in over in the Unicorn's direction. "From your accent, am I correct in thinking you are lately from Polaris?"

But before Scarlet could reply, a patchwork pantomime Unicorn broke in on their conversation. "Polaris, wot? I remember when old Great-Uncle Ishmael went there to hunt down the elusive Great White Whale. What was his name again? Rick? I forget. Still has that wooden leg named Bob."

"What's the name of his other leg? Hello again, Reggie." Sam remembered meeting the other 'real' Throckmorton from earlier in the day on the streets. "May I present Signorina Isabella Vinaldi? Miss Vinaldi, Reggie Throckmorton."

"Charmed, I'm sure." The pseudo Unicorn no doubt would have slobbered on her hand as he attempted to kiss it, but his mask prevented any actual contact. "Have you told her about the time you, ha, ha, it cracks me up every time I think about it."

"No chance yet Reggie? Cor, it's a cracking good party, wot?" Sam began getting into the Marleybone spirit.

"I, for one, would be delighted to hear a tale about young Throckmorton's no doubt - misspent - youth." Another contender entered the fray, the Chancellor had returned.

"Well, you see, I was quite young at the time..."

"Nine, to be precise," Reggie broke in.

"We were out playing -" Sam prepared himself for inventing a tale about a normal childhood mishap, hoping desperately that Reggie would fill in any gaps.

"Cheeseballs?" a cheerful soprano piped up. As most everyone reached out to take one of the tasty treats from the girl's tray, Sam's eyes widened as the girl gave him a wink. It was that blasted girl who had followed them through the city. What was she doing here, on top of everything else?

"Private party?" Magdelena asked as she moved in on the group. Scarlet glanced over and noticed that Anne had retreated from the scene. Who was this lad who could make the redoubtable Anne hide?

"Chancellor, a word if you please," a portly Guinea Pig approached, leading the tall Unicorn away. Sam breathed a sigh of relief and let Reggie take over the story. By now, several other guests had joined and were chuckling at Sam's borrowed past, so with a small nod to Isabella, he allowed Magdelena lead him away.

"Mio amor, what is wrong?"

"Nothing, I guess I'm just kind of antsy. This isn't my usual class of people to hang with And that girl is back, playing at being a serving wench. The Vinaldi girl was nice, though."

"You'll feel better, mi amico, once you have something to eat. Boys are like that."

"When you're right, my sweet potato pie, you're right. Let's hunt down more snacks before the show begins."

Commodore
Feb 29, 2012
892
OOC: Anne, I'm not sure how to continue with Emma... And would you mind if I brought in another character of mine, since I've noticed other people bringing in second characters as well?

If you say yes, the character I'll bring in is Amber Sakamoto, a war veteran from Subata, notorious for sneaking into parties to investigate on suspicious things.

Ciao!

Commodore
Feb 29, 2012
892
Sam Underhill on Jan 20, 2014 wrote:
"HI!! ANNE!!" Sam cheerfully called out across the crowded room. Everyone turned to look at her. She had somehow changed back into her pirate garb and drawn her sword. She backed away from the masses but behind her were two Armada Dragoons. One reached out and pulled the sword forcibly from her hand while the other clasped both hands on her arms, rendering her helpless. The Doge above shook his head sadly as she was force marched out to the waiting execution ground beside the buffet tables in the garden. Her crew, all dressed in black, stood somberly by, heads bowed.

"GUILTY!" cried Deacon. "Guilty," spoke Bishop. "Guilty," said Rooke.

Anne was swiftly tied to a flagpole while six Armada Musketeers paraded in. They stood in formation, then raised their guns as Orlando, the Doge's son, raised his sword. Sam waved a hesitant 'Hi' from the crowd. Kane then stepped forward and called out. "Ready! Aim! FIR..."

The whole thing had taken but a blink of an eye in Anne's imagination. Her mind reeled as she burrowed further against her 'mother."

'Sam, Sam, please don't see me.'
OOC: -bursts out laughing- Oh my gosh, Sam, I swear I just laughed so hard. I feel a little bad for doing so, but I swear, the casuality of Sam just waving Hi when Anne's about to die.... Curse you Sam! (In a good way) -hands a congratulatory brownie tart-

Ciao!

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
Highlander Fox of ... on Jan 24, 2014 wrote:
OOC: Anne, I'm not sure how to continue with Emma... And would you mind if I brought in another character of mine, since I've noticed other people bringing in second characters as well?

If you say yes, the character I'll bring in is Amber Sakamoto, a war veteran from Subata, notorious for sneaking into parties to investigate on suspicious things.

Ciao!
(Dear Emma -- your Emma is doing just fine. We are just at the point of some exposition in the story, where the characters - particularly the 'Vinaldis' - are really only going to be observing and reacting. More action will come later. Hopefully the exposition bit will be interesting, even so. Only two players have brought in secondary characters, but those secondary characters are really background -- the fiancé of Quentin, and therefore paired with him in any action, and Claire's sister, who is hovering in the background as a potential ally of the antagonists. Sam and Omar have just added other characters for background color. (Sam in particular is just merrily making up background detail for fun until I actually get further in the story!)

It's really not that easy to crash the Doge's party; all the characters who have entered so far have supposedly legitimate invitations and come under the scrutiny of the Doge. So if you want to bring in Amber, that is a consideration. We do have a lot of characters though as it is. It would be Emma who I would focus on in the plot, otherwise it would be just too confusing for me.)

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
totallyawesomepira... on Jan 20, 2014 wrote:
Dona Marcia's ship, The Powerful, hit a dip in the windlane and Claire clutched her stomach, resisting the urge to vomit. 3 things were going on in her mind right now. 1. They were late for the Ball. 2. Claire had learned the hard way that she was vulnerable to seasickness. And 3. This dress was itching.

When the windlane steadied again, Claire sighed and rolled over on her bed. Squeezing her eyes shut, she recalled the past few hours, and everything in them.

"I was reluctant to consider this possibility," Dona Marcia had said to her. "You see, well, I am a member of the Ariosto family-"

Claire quickly caught on. "And so is the Dodge's secretary." She finished for her.

"Exactly. My cousin - the secretary, that is - is very observant, and can spot a lie from Aquila. You must keep your head down in his presence."

"But won't that cause suspicion?"

"No, you are so young, that it is more polite to avert your gaze from authority."

This seemed more of an excuse to Claire than anything else.

Claire had then glanced at the clock on the far side of the Dona's sitting room. The Ball was in 2 hours, and if they left now they'd be 30 minutes late, which might offend the Doge and foil their mission.

The words were on her lips when the Dona continued. "Now, for your dress. I am afraid the smallest one I have is quite too large for your small structure. However, my seamstresses can work wonders with this kind of thing." Dona Marcia smiled and summoned for a band of young maids to enter the room. She told them to fetch the small gown and trim it so Claire could wear it to the Ball.

Claire bit her lip. "What about my mask?"

"That is completely up to you, my dear."

Claire had quickly skimmed through all the animals to her knowledge. She wanted to be something that resembled her, and the first creature that came to mind was an owl. No, she had thought. An owl is a bird of prey, I am not lethal whatsoever.

Claire was still pondering when a single thought came into her mind.

Mother.

Claire took a sharp intake of breath. She had not thought about her Swashbuckler mother for so long! But now everything came back. Her flowing strawberry blonde hair that she had passed on to her twin daughters. Her deadly skills with both cutlass and rapier, that she had only partially passed on. But the memory that was most clear in Claire's mind, was her mother's driving determination to find El Dorado before the Armada did. When her mother died, Claire and Cassandra both vowed to help find the golden city, and avenge their mother.

That is, to avenge their late mother.

Claire thought of the Swashbuckler's unofficial mascot and declared, "Dona, I would like to be a racoon."

The Dona was only slightly taken aback at this, yet she agreed it would look great on her and nodded to the maids to get started.

The ship dipped again and brought Claire back to reality. She looked out the window and found Padova, where fate was a roller coaster.
Dona Marcia and her 'niece' were indeed late to the Ball, but as a long line of people were still waiting to be received by the Doge before entering the festivities, they found themselves still comfortably within the time set. Indeed, several people entered after them, but before too long, a fanciful but elegant gilt clock in the reception hall chimed the following hour, and footmen moved to pull the great doors shut. It was to be a private party, after all.

Finally it was their turn to pay their addresses to the Doge. Claire kept her eyes modestly lowered as she dropped a curtsey, trying to look inconsequential. The Doge greeted her with formal politeness, but through the veil of her eyelashes Claire saw the Doge's secretary stiffen as Marcia introduced her. The younger Unicorn shot her a brief penetrating, calculating look, but his expression swiftly cleared into his previous one of indifference. He wrote their names in the guest book like all the others, and they moved on.

Still, Claire felt unsettled. Benvolio Ariosto had clearly suspected something was wrong, but he had made no move to question, and let them go on. Was that because of respect for Dona Marcia? Or did he casually assume that she had a human niece he knew nothing of? Or did he choose not to reveal them to the Doge for some other reason known only to himself?

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
A temporary stage had been set up at the end of the grand ballroom, but like many things Valencian, though it was temporary, it had not been executed by halves. Gilded, painted decorations adorned the wood frames. A painted backdrop brought to life the glories of the Valencian countryside. Below the stage framework, stage hands waited in cramped quarters to operate the gears underneath, while others waited at the side to control the ropes and pulleys that stretched above. In front sat musicians tuning their instruments and fingering some complex musical sequences to warm up.

Benvolio Ariosto had finally escorted the Vinaldi family to the front seats. There were few seats; only the most titled and honored guests were to have chairs to sit in. The rest of the crowd was expected to stand and watch the entertainment, but since this was expected, no one minded. Indeed, the hall was soon full of people, happy and excited, jostling for position in which to better watch the opera.

But that was not all the hall was full of, Anne noted with alarm even while she smiled prettily at the Doge's secretary and took her seat as directed by the side of a grandly carved chair. All around the walls of the hall the semblance of Armada soldiers stood at attention. She had heard the general rumor, of the Doge wishing to honor Valencia's protectors by a pantomime show of footmen, but it seemed all too easy for real Armada soldiers to be among the play ones. She took off her butterfly mask and laid it, for the moment, in her lap. The mask interfered with her peripheral vision, and she wanted to be watchful.

The Master of Ceremonies announced the arrival of the Doge and his son. The musicians struck up a stately air. Everyone rose and made courtesy to the Doge who strode, smiling, towards his seat -- the great carved one, as it happened. He gave a nod, and the composer, standing at the harpsichord, bowed, then sat. The composer gave his nod to the musicians, and the opera began.

First Mate
Oct 27, 2009
459
As music played, Anne noticed many of the guests seemed to be paying more attention to each other, the Doge, his family and cronies, and gossiping about people's clothes and scandalous details of their lives. She heard 3 different versions about one of the doge's younger heirs, a plump unicorn princess. One rumor was that she was secretly betrothed to a Monquistan, a second that she was in love with a noble under a curse or dark shadow, and finally that her father was trying to arrange a political alliance for her, but that she truly loved a pirate. She seemed a friendly , modest and sweet young woman to be the focus of rumors. Anne kept her eyes and ears attentive to the crowd and the pantomime Armada soldiers.

Petty Officer
May 30, 2013
97
Anne Radcliffe on Jan 25, 2014 wrote:
Dona Marcia and her 'niece' were indeed late to the Ball, but as a long line of people were still waiting to be received by the Doge before entering the festivities, they found themselves still comfortably within the time set. Indeed, several people entered after them, but before too long, a fanciful but elegant gilt clock in the reception hall chimed the following hour, and footmen moved to pull the great doors shut. It was to be a private party, after all.

Finally it was their turn to pay their addresses to the Doge. Claire kept her eyes modestly lowered as she dropped a curtsey, trying to look inconsequential. The Doge greeted her with formal politeness, but through the veil of her eyelashes Claire saw the Doge's secretary stiffen as Marcia introduced her. The younger Unicorn shot her a brief penetrating, calculating look, but his expression swiftly cleared into his previous one of indifference. He wrote their names in the guest book like all the others, and they moved on.

Still, Claire felt unsettled. Benvolio Ariosto had clearly suspected something was wrong, but he had made no move to question, and let them go on. Was that because of respect for Dona Marcia? Or did he casually assume that she had a human niece he knew nothing of? Or did he choose not to reveal them to the Doge for some other reason known only to himself?
Cassandra fingered the trim of her gown as the clockwork ship she was on docked at Padova. Her brow furrowed as she tried to envision what her costume looked like. She had only gotten a second to glance at it in the mirror before those wretched wind up toys strapped the mask on.

No, not 'wretched wind up toys,' Cassandra corrected herself. The glorious Armada, glorious Armada.

The words rang in her head without stop, and she hated it.

Sighing, Cassandra closed her eyes, the long weeks of being molded into a 'proper lady' had exhausted her, and she was bone tired. And besides, there was no point in keeping them open anyway.

The mask had no eye holes.

Well, it did, but the overgrown ticking cl- glorious Armada - would only cut them out once they got to the Palace. But to ensure that this human could not escape until then, they made sure she was about as good as blind. It is nearly impossible to plan an escape route if you do not know where you are.

And Cassandra did not know where she was. She knew she was on an idioti- glorious Armada ship, and she was in a locked room below deck, but she didn't know how large the room was, if there was anyone else in there with her, if there were any objects in the way, or really anything else for that matter.

The ship suddenly stopped and Cassandra lurched forward in her seat. She soon heard the unmistakable marching of an arrogant- glorious Armada - troop and a 'click' that signified the door being unlocked.

"Stand," A cold voice commanded Cassandra. She did. There was a strange noise, almost like sawing wood. A few moments later, Cassandra could see out of her left eye again. Then sight was then regained in her right, and Cassandra could fully see out of both eyes. Of course, she didn't have much time to take in her surroundings, as the distasteful- GLORIOUS ARMADA- marched her out of her room, off the ship, and onto the Padova dock. If Cassandra squinted, she could make out the room of target in the Doge's Palace. Three stories high, and two rooms to the right.

Cassandra's heart quickened. Anything could happen there, anything at all.

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
Calamity Finch on Jan 27, 2014 wrote:
As music played, Anne noticed many of the guests seemed to be paying more attention to each other, the Doge, his family and cronies, and gossiping about people's clothes and scandalous details of their lives. She heard 3 different versions about one of the doge's younger heirs, a plump unicorn princess. One rumor was that she was secretly betrothed to a Monquistan, a second that she was in love with a noble under a curse or dark shadow, and finally that her father was trying to arrange a political alliance for her, but that she truly loved a pirate. She seemed a friendly , modest and sweet young woman to be the focus of rumors. Anne kept her eyes and ears attentive to the crowd and the pantomime Armada soldiers.
OOC: The Doge has a teenaged daughter? He does now! Let's see, why isn't she at the Ball?... she could be away at school, perhaps visiting the family of her betrothed (if she is betrothed), or... hmm. I love a couple of the 'rumors' here, and not sure which one to play with. I like the curse one, and the arranged marriage vs. her love for someone unsuitable, though perhaps not a pirate (though that is classic) - perhaps someone she saw frequently because of his duties, someone whom her father, once he found out, wanted to discourage. His secretary, Benvolio Ariosto, might be a good candidate. And she isn't at the Ball because dad sent her away for awhile to be away from temptation. Possible. Of course, they all could be just rumors!

So she's a friendly, modest, and sweet girl, eh? Doesn't take after dear old dad, then. On the other hand, neither does his son, Orlando, if truth meets appearances (in his case, it does. I like squid boy just the way he is) Let's give her a name, even though she's not here - how about Nicoletta? But the Doge probably doesn't worry too much about his children being not politically astute - his is not a hereditary office. If he dies, his children do not step up and become Doge. Does this have a bearing on the story? Maybe...

I would venture to say, however, that Anne (and probably everyone else) heard of these rumors before the opera started. Anne has her flaws, and while her intentions to keep watch during the opera are sensible, in reality... Well, you'll see...

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
Anne Radcliffe on Jan 26, 2014 wrote:
A temporary stage had been set up at the end of the grand ballroom, but like many things Valencian, though it was temporary, it had not been executed by halves. Gilded, painted decorations adorned the wood frames. A painted backdrop brought to life the glories of the Valencian countryside. Below the stage framework, stage hands waited in cramped quarters to operate the gears underneath, while others waited at the side to control the ropes and pulleys that stretched above. In front sat musicians tuning their instruments and fingering some complex musical sequences to warm up.

Benvolio Ariosto had finally escorted the Vinaldi family to the front seats. There were few seats; only the most titled and honored guests were to have chairs to sit in. The rest of the crowd was expected to stand and watch the entertainment, but since this was expected, no one minded. Indeed, the hall was soon full of people, happy and excited, jostling for position in which to better watch the opera.

But that was not all the hall was full of, Anne noted with alarm even while she smiled prettily at the Doge's secretary and took her seat as directed by the side of a grandly carved chair. All around the walls of the hall the semblance of Armada soldiers stood at attention. She had heard the general rumor, of the Doge wishing to honor Valencia's protectors by a pantomime show of footmen, but it seemed all too easy for real Armada soldiers to be among the play ones. She took off her butterfly mask and laid it, for the moment, in her lap. The mask interfered with her peripheral vision, and she wanted to be watchful.

The Master of Ceremonies announced the arrival of the Doge and his son. The musicians struck up a stately air. Everyone rose and made courtesy to the Doge who strode, smiling, towards his seat -- the great carved one, as it happened. He gave a nod, and the composer, standing at the harpsichord, bowed, then sat. The composer gave his nod to the musicians, and the opera began.
Anne was in love.

The refined, exquisite harmonies employed by Valencian composers were in the expert hand of the composer and his orchestra. The deep, resonant tones of the bass viola da gamba, bassoon, and theorbo was balanced by the middle, melting tones of the tenor viola da gamba, lute, and cornetto, while the violins played with a sweetness balanced by a reedy edge, and oboe and recorder soared above. The texture of the music was rich yet transparent, like light shining through colored glass. Anne's spirit rose on the swell of the music, diving into warm depths and rising into flooding, brilliant ethereal skies. When the music sighed, her own sorrows and griefs swelled to match, bringing tears to her eyes. When the music was joyful, her spirit responded with such a dancing gladness that could hardly be contained in her own body.

By the time the overture was finished, and the opera began with Valencian peasants dancing happily while others sang of the joys of peace and safety, and the Immortals of Aquila came down, suspended from wires, to sing their approval of the wise and good government of Valencia, Anne had completely forgotten about her intention to keep watch. She forgot about her mission, and it's very real -if vague- danger. She was completely caught up in the glorious music, the singing, the dancing. Kane's Elites could have marched up right behind her and she wouldn't have known -- until it was too late.

Yet though it was undoubtedly foolishness, there was something good to come from it. Anne's look of rapt attention, her eyes bright as stars, her cheeks flushed with pleasure did not go unnoticed as the Doge narrowly kept watch and flicked his eyes from one of his guests to another. He looked at the girl and saw the innocent joy of a child, a child who was loving the moment with every fiber of her spirit. Nicolo Foscari watched her for a long moment -- Anne all unaware-- and his visage softened. He turned his gaze from her towards the stage, and for a long moment, Nicolo Foscari did nothing but watch the opera, himself absorbing the beauty, grace, and harmony of the performance.

First Mate
Oct 27, 2009
459
Anne Radcliffe on Jan 28, 2014 wrote:
OOC: The Doge has a teenaged daughter? He does now! Let's see, why isn't she at the Ball?... she could be away at school, perhaps visiting the family of her betrothed (if she is betrothed), or... hmm. I love a couple of the 'rumors' here, and not sure which one to play with. I like the curse one, and the arranged marriage vs. her love for someone unsuitable, though perhaps not a pirate (though that is classic) - perhaps someone she saw frequently because of his duties, someone whom her father, once he found out, wanted to discourage. His secretary, Benvolio Ariosto, might be a good candidate. And she isn't at the Ball because dad sent her away for awhile to be away from temptation. Possible. Of course, they all could be just rumors!

So she's a friendly, modest, and sweet girl, eh? Doesn't take after dear old dad, then. On the other hand, neither does his son, Orlando, if truth meets appearances (in his case, it does. I like squid boy just the way he is) Let's give her a name, even though she's not here - how about Nicoletta? But the Doge probably doesn't worry too much about his children being not politically astute - his is not a hereditary office. If he dies, his children do not step up and become Doge. Does this have a bearing on the story? Maybe...

I would venture to say, however, that Anne (and probably everyone else) heard of these rumors before the opera started. Anne has her flaws, and while her intentions to keep watch during the opera are sensible, in reality... Well, you'll see...
OOC: Yes, he does have a daughter. She even has a name. It is a long name, but for here the Dona, Danielle is probably sufficient. She is a comic character towards the latter part of the Night in Prison Roleplay. That roleplay has also found it's way to Padova. If yours is the main drama, that one is doing a "Meanwhile, elsewhere in Padova" comic take on other events at the same time and place. Some of those characters have done brief walk through parts in this one. Remember someone smuggling a box of "pineapple" bombs into the pantry of the Doge's palace? That was them.
As far as the rumors about Dona Danielle, they are ALL true! She is a modest girl who has fallen in love at first sight. No one would ever believe who she's in love with, but the rumors all apply to the same being. She was at the ball briefly, but told people she was indisposed, and left very quietly. Hmm, she might be up to something, but that would be telling.
For anyone who knows the play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, where confused minor charactors from Hamlet wander around between scenes of Hamlet, I'm doing something like that.

First Mate
Oct 27, 2009
459
OOC: I imagine the Doge has a good size family and though his children might not inherit his office, it is possible one might. There is always the money they are in line for, with enough for wealthy estates for all of them. And the saying goes "Money equals power". Also, "Who do you know?" Marriages into the family of a ruling Doge would not be without political pull and could be used to cement alliances with other powers or guarantee the ear of a powerful figure, and for minor officials make their fortune. The Doge sounds likely to be the sort who would use his family to advance his goals in marriage alliances, while keeping his children otherwise sheltered. It seems likely that Danielle might have a slightly older sister, Nicoletta, who is more noticed in Padovan society. Danielle is still a bit young and only just beginning to register on the Doge's political radar. Also, who can say what rumors apply to which sister?

Pirate Overlord
Mar 10, 2009
6079
Anne Radcliffe on Jan 28, 2014 wrote:
Anne was in love.

The refined, exquisite harmonies employed by Valencian composers were in the expert hand of the composer and his orchestra. The deep, resonant tones of the bass viola da gamba, bassoon, and theorbo was balanced by the middle, melting tones of the tenor viola da gamba, lute, and cornetto, while the violins played with a sweetness balanced by a reedy edge, and oboe and recorder soared above. The texture of the music was rich yet transparent, like light shining through colored glass. Anne's spirit rose on the swell of the music, diving into warm depths and rising into flooding, brilliant ethereal skies. When the music sighed, her own sorrows and griefs swelled to match, bringing tears to her eyes. When the music was joyful, her spirit responded with such a dancing gladness that could hardly be contained in her own body.

By the time the overture was finished, and the opera began with Valencian peasants dancing happily while others sang of the joys of peace and safety, and the Immortals of Aquila came down, suspended from wires, to sing their approval of the wise and good government of Valencia, Anne had completely forgotten about her intention to keep watch. She forgot about her mission, and it's very real -if vague- danger. She was completely caught up in the glorious music, the singing, the dancing. Kane's Elites could have marched up right behind her and she wouldn't have known -- until it was too late.

Yet though it was undoubtedly foolishness, there was something good to come from it. Anne's look of rapt attention, her eyes bright as stars, her cheeks flushed with pleasure did not go unnoticed as the Doge narrowly kept watch and flicked his eyes from one of his guests to another. He looked at the girl and saw the innocent joy of a child, a child who was loving the moment with every fiber of her spirit. Nicolo Foscari watched her for a long moment -- Anne all unaware-- and his visage softened. He turned his gaze from her towards the stage, and for a long moment, Nicolo Foscari did nothing but watch the opera, himself absorbing the beauty, grace, and harmony of the performance.
OOC Oh Anne that was truly masterful. I could not only hear the music but almost feel it too. You have quite a gift there and I am thoroughly enjoying every word you are creating.

Also, Totally Awesome Pirate, I am really enjoying your stuff too. This just keeps getting better and better.

And then there is Sam, Well what can I say? Of course I am beyond delighted and intrigued and thrilled. Just the usual brilliance from our Sam.

All of you contributors, This would be just too long if I listed all of you, I realized that as I started typing that if I included all who delighted me I would run out text room fast. From Scarlet to Highlander Fox to, just all of you are making my first foray into role plays into a fantastic experience. I tip my keyboard to all of you masters of this fascinating forum style, you are impressing me beyond measure and you keep the bar so delightfully high that I am loving just trying to keep up with you. As Spock would say. *Right eyebrow goes up* "Fascinating"

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
totallyawesomepira... on Jan 27, 2014 wrote:
Cassandra fingered the trim of her gown as the clockwork ship she was on docked at Padova. Her brow furrowed as she tried to envision what her costume looked like. She had only gotten a second to glance at it in the mirror before those wretched wind up toys strapped the mask on.

No, not 'wretched wind up toys,' Cassandra corrected herself. The glorious Armada, glorious Armada.

The words rang in her head without stop, and she hated it.

Sighing, Cassandra closed her eyes, the long weeks of being molded into a 'proper lady' had exhausted her, and she was bone tired. And besides, there was no point in keeping them open anyway.

The mask had no eye holes.

Well, it did, but the overgrown ticking cl- glorious Armada - would only cut them out once they got to the Palace. But to ensure that this human could not escape until then, they made sure she was about as good as blind. It is nearly impossible to plan an escape route if you do not know where you are.

And Cassandra did not know where she was. She knew she was on an idioti- glorious Armada ship, and she was in a locked room below deck, but she didn't know how large the room was, if there was anyone else in there with her, if there were any objects in the way, or really anything else for that matter.

The ship suddenly stopped and Cassandra lurched forward in her seat. She soon heard the unmistakable marching of an arrogant- glorious Armada - troop and a 'click' that signified the door being unlocked.

"Stand," A cold voice commanded Cassandra. She did. There was a strange noise, almost like sawing wood. A few moments later, Cassandra could see out of her left eye again. Then sight was then regained in her right, and Cassandra could fully see out of both eyes. Of course, she didn't have much time to take in her surroundings, as the distasteful- GLORIOUS ARMADA- marched her out of her room, off the ship, and onto the Padova dock. If Cassandra squinted, she could make out the room of target in the Doge's Palace. Three stories high, and two rooms to the right.

Cassandra's heart quickened. Anything could happen there, anything at all.
(Nicely done -- I adored those interjections of the 'glorious Armada' And what sort of guards or traps does the Doge place around his personal library? Hmmmm...)

Gunner's Mate
May 28, 2013
284
Anne Radcliffe on Jan 28, 2014 wrote:
Anne was in love.

The refined, exquisite harmonies employed by Valencian composers were in the expert hand of the composer and his orchestra. The deep, resonant tones of the bass viola da gamba, bassoon, and theorbo was balanced by the middle, melting tones of the tenor viola da gamba, lute, and cornetto, while the violins played with a sweetness balanced by a reedy edge, and oboe and recorder soared above. The texture of the music was rich yet transparent, like light shining through colored glass. Anne's spirit rose on the swell of the music, diving into warm depths and rising into flooding, brilliant ethereal skies. When the music sighed, her own sorrows and griefs swelled to match, bringing tears to her eyes. When the music was joyful, her spirit responded with such a dancing gladness that could hardly be contained in her own body.

By the time the overture was finished, and the opera began with Valencian peasants dancing happily while others sang of the joys of peace and safety, and the Immortals of Aquila came down, suspended from wires, to sing their approval of the wise and good government of Valencia, Anne had completely forgotten about her intention to keep watch. She forgot about her mission, and it's very real -if vague- danger. She was completely caught up in the glorious music, the singing, the dancing. Kane's Elites could have marched up right behind her and she wouldn't have known -- until it was too late.

Yet though it was undoubtedly foolishness, there was something good to come from it. Anne's look of rapt attention, her eyes bright as stars, her cheeks flushed with pleasure did not go unnoticed as the Doge narrowly kept watch and flicked his eyes from one of his guests to another. He looked at the girl and saw the innocent joy of a child, a child who was loving the moment with every fiber of her spirit. Nicolo Foscari watched her for a long moment -- Anne all unaware-- and his visage softened. He turned his gaze from her towards the stage, and for a long moment, Nicolo Foscari did nothing but watch the opera, himself absorbing the beauty, grace, and harmony of the performance.
Sam managed to rescue a tray of cheese snacks from one of the servers and dumped the contents in his pouch before he and Magdelena jostled for a place to watch the entertainment. The orchestra finished tuning and began the overture. Sam turned his attention to his food. Magdelena declined his offer of sharing and turned her attentions to the opera. The music was too elegant for Sam's tastes, so his eyes wandered freely about the hall, studying the crowd. The Doge and his son were up front nestled upon fancy chairs. Seated nearby to him were some of his current favorites, which included the Vinaldi family. Peering closely he recognized Isabella, but not anyone else. To one side of the hall stood Reggie, next to the Chancellor of all people. They seemed to be exchanging comments from time to time, but whether it was about the show, Sam's fictional past, or something else entirely was impossible to tell.

The music flared - actors and singers mobbed the stage and the show began in earnest. But that didn't stop Sam's short attention span from quickly kicking in. His questions of "What's going on now?" and "Who are they?" and "Is it over yet?" were met with less and less enthusiasm as Magdelena tried vainly to enjoy the performance. Or at least that's how Sam interpreted it. Hold on a sec... Magdelena was a translator, maybe she could... but one searing side glance from her sidetracked that theory. Maybe he'd just ask her after the show what it had all been about.

Sam looked about the room some more. Hold on, there was that annoying pesky girl again. Goodness! Did she just pick that guy's pocket? It had happened so fast that had Sam blinked he would have missed it. Unconsciously feeling for his own belongings he watched her closely as she glided away. Their eyes met momentarily as she briefly glanced his way, and she threw him a flash of a smile. Oh yes, she was keeping an eye on them. What in the Spiral was so important about them that they merited their very own personal surveillance? Probably just business as usual in Padova.

Then Sam started as he finally noticed the Armada lined along the walls. Or was it the Armada? The movements weren't jerky enough, it was as if a pretend Armada stood on guard. If it was meant to be a political statement, it worked magnificently well.

An elbow in his ribs caused Sam to notice that the audience had commenced clapping enthusiastically. So he joined in.

"Wasn't that delightful?" Magdelena beamed. Her eyes told him he'd better think so too - or else.

"Yes, very good, wot? So now can we eat?" Sam asked hopefully.

"Of course not, mio amor, this is just the first piece."

"First!!??"

Commodore
Sep 20, 2009
814
Isabella had just rejoined her family as they were taking their seats in front of the opera stage. She took her place between her sister Kara and her brother and tried patiently to wait for the start of the performance. But, she soon leaned in towards Kara and began to whisper just loud enough for Kara to hear.

"Did you see zat young gentleman who stopped to talk to me earlier? Quite dashing I zought." Isabella opened.
but it was definitely Scarlet who continued,
"'E seemed to make our little Violetta quite shy, I even zink I saw 'er blush. I zink 'is name was Zrockmorton, 'e 'as a cousin 'ere, but ze two of zem are disimilar, it's as if zy can't be related. Could you please 'elp keep an eye out for 'im? I zink you would like to meet 'im as well."

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
Calamity Finch on Jan 28, 2014 wrote:
OOC: I imagine the Doge has a good size family and though his children might not inherit his office, it is possible one might. There is always the money they are in line for, with enough for wealthy estates for all of them. And the saying goes "Money equals power". Also, "Who do you know?" Marriages into the family of a ruling Doge would not be without political pull and could be used to cement alliances with other powers or guarantee the ear of a powerful figure, and for minor officials make their fortune. The Doge sounds likely to be the sort who would use his family to advance his goals in marriage alliances, while keeping his children otherwise sheltered. It seems likely that Danielle might have a slightly older sister, Nicoletta, who is more noticed in Padovan society. Danielle is still a bit young and only just beginning to register on the Doge's political radar. Also, who can say what rumors apply to which sister?
OOC: Ah, that's what I get for not having the opportunity to read all posts. Sure, sounds good! Danielle (not Nicoletta) it is (with an awful lot of 'pasta' names after ) However, she's not at the Ball, as otherwise she would be with her father and Orlando. There's truth to the rumor that her father has sent her away for a little while to discourage an unwanted suitor (though if he knew she fancied herself in love with a Monquistan Monkey he might decide differently!)

And yes, good point, the Doge is very, very wealthy and influential, and certainly wants his children to marry well and provide all sorts of business and political alliances. even should he lose his position or his children become orphans, they still would be very,very rich and at the top of Padovan society.

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
Anne Radcliffe on Jan 28, 2014 wrote:
Anne was in love.

The refined, exquisite harmonies employed by Valencian composers were in the expert hand of the composer and his orchestra. The deep, resonant tones of the bass viola da gamba, bassoon, and theorbo was balanced by the middle, melting tones of the tenor viola da gamba, lute, and cornetto, while the violins played with a sweetness balanced by a reedy edge, and oboe and recorder soared above. The texture of the music was rich yet transparent, like light shining through colored glass. Anne's spirit rose on the swell of the music, diving into warm depths and rising into flooding, brilliant ethereal skies. When the music sighed, her own sorrows and griefs swelled to match, bringing tears to her eyes. When the music was joyful, her spirit responded with such a dancing gladness that could hardly be contained in her own body.

By the time the overture was finished, and the opera began with Valencian peasants dancing happily while others sang of the joys of peace and safety, and the Immortals of Aquila came down, suspended from wires, to sing their approval of the wise and good government of Valencia, Anne had completely forgotten about her intention to keep watch. She forgot about her mission, and it's very real -if vague- danger. She was completely caught up in the glorious music, the singing, the dancing. Kane's Elites could have marched up right behind her and she wouldn't have known -- until it was too late.

Yet though it was undoubtedly foolishness, there was something good to come from it. Anne's look of rapt attention, her eyes bright as stars, her cheeks flushed with pleasure did not go unnoticed as the Doge narrowly kept watch and flicked his eyes from one of his guests to another. He looked at the girl and saw the innocent joy of a child, a child who was loving the moment with every fiber of her spirit. Nicolo Foscari watched her for a long moment -- Anne all unaware-- and his visage softened. He turned his gaze from her towards the stage, and for a long moment, Nicolo Foscari did nothing but watch the opera, himself absorbing the beauty, grace, and harmony of the performance.
After the chorus of happy peasants and ethereal Immortals, the 'Immortals' were lifted up and away on their wires. An elaborately dressed 'peasant' came forth and began to sing in a spare, declaiming style the action of the piece. Today, he sang, they gathered to celebrate the marriage between the "two most fair blossoms" of their town - Emilio, artist of renown, and Laura, insightful natural philosopher. The company of peasants broke into a pretty chorus reflecting on the blessings of the union of wisdom and art. Then the two lovers came on and sang a spritely duet, his a warm, bright tenor voice and hers a clear, pure soprano that merged together in sweet, melting harmonies.

After a ceremonial wedding processional dance, two small silk tents dropped down conveniently for the lovers to don their wedding accoutrements. More singing explained the importance of these blessed youths in the community and the love all bore them. Then the tents were lifted up and away to reveal a slight costume change to reveal the lovers in their wedding splendor. Happy and blushing they and the rest of the company retreated near the pastoral backdrop, and set themselves up in a pose of relaxed elegance.

Now the music changed dramatically, shifting into a minor key and bursting with dark energy. On to the stage strode an intense figure dressed mostly in black, with red accents, surely the garb of a pirate! The pirate -for so he was- sang an aria in a deep basso-profundo that gave Anne delighted shivers (enhanced by the spiraling chromatic musical descent played by a violin duet). He sang of his loathing for peace, his desire to steal the happy Valencians' prosperity and destroy what he could not take. He called for members of his crew - who came out and joined him in a chorus relishing violence and destruction. After this, they mobbed the back of the stage, sending the honest peasants into terrified confusion (verbalized in song, of course), and ending with the pirate Captain carrying off the beautiful Laura. The act ended with Emilio vowing to rescue his bride!

As the audience clapped, the heavy gears below were manned to rotate the next backdrop with stage into place, and the audience saw that here now was a ship in the background, riding behind artfully moving painted wooden swells of wind, and pirates waiting their captain upon the stage.

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
Anne Radcliffe on Jan 25, 2014 wrote:
Dona Marcia and her 'niece' were indeed late to the Ball, but as a long line of people were still waiting to be received by the Doge before entering the festivities, they found themselves still comfortably within the time set. Indeed, several people entered after them, but before too long, a fanciful but elegant gilt clock in the reception hall chimed the following hour, and footmen moved to pull the great doors shut. It was to be a private party, after all.

Finally it was their turn to pay their addresses to the Doge. Claire kept her eyes modestly lowered as she dropped a curtsey, trying to look inconsequential. The Doge greeted her with formal politeness, but through the veil of her eyelashes Claire saw the Doge's secretary stiffen as Marcia introduced her. The younger Unicorn shot her a brief penetrating, calculating look, but his expression swiftly cleared into his previous one of indifference. He wrote their names in the guest book like all the others, and they moved on.

Still, Claire felt unsettled. Benvolio Ariosto had clearly suspected something was wrong, but he had made no move to question, and let them go on. Was that because of respect for Dona Marcia? Or did he casually assume that she had a human niece he knew nothing of? Or did he choose not to reveal them to the Doge for some other reason known only to himself?
Claire was glad the performers were raised up on a stage, or else, standing as she was in the back and considerably shorter the Unicorn members of the crowd, she would not have been able to see anything. She was beginning to enjoy this novel experience, when she felt a firm hand on her arm, and looked sharply to see who had done so. Her heart sank in dismay as she recognized Benvolio Ariosto, the Doge's sec"retary.

"A word with you, cousin," he murmured pointedly, and steered her forcibly towards an unoccupied corner. He gave Claire a penetrating, quite triumphant look. "So Cousin Marcia has suddenly acquired a niece, has she? And don't try to dissemble -- I know my family tree quite well, and know for certain that Marcia has no nieces, particularly any human ones."

"So what are you doing here? And more importantly, what is it worth to you for me not to reveal you to the Doge, right now?"

Petty Officer
May 30, 2013
97
Anne Radcliffe on Jan 30, 2014 wrote:
Claire was glad the performers were raised up on a stage, or else, standing as she was in the back and considerably shorter the Unicorn members of the crowd, she would not have been able to see anything. She was beginning to enjoy this novel experience, when she felt a firm hand on her arm, and looked sharply to see who had done so. Her heart sank in dismay as she recognized Benvolio Ariosto, the Doge's sec"retary.

"A word with you, cousin," he murmured pointedly, and steered her forcibly towards an unoccupied corner. He gave Claire a penetrating, quite triumphant look. "So Cousin Marcia has suddenly acquired a niece, has she? And don't try to dissemble -- I know my family tree quite well, and know for certain that Marcia has no nieces, particularly any human ones."

"So what are you doing here? And more importantly, what is it worth to you for me not to reveal you to the Doge, right now?"
The minute Claire felt that, surprisingly cold hand on her wrist, all the color drained from her face, and her perfectly human heart rapidly began racing in her ears. Her breathing came out quickly and inaudibly, and Claire almost fainted from suffocation. It took her a moment to realize that she'd best answer if she wanted to see tomorrow.

"I... I..." Of course, when an almost complete stranger has your life in his hands, answering didn't exactly come naturally. Especially when you know you can't lie because the person threatening you can spot a fib from Polaris.

Benvolio smiled. "Ahh... you have to think about your answer, then. I see. Do you know what that means?" He didn't wait for an answer, and Claire wasn't if she was capable of speaking whatsoever. "Stalling a response means you are plotting a lie, and," He leaned in close to whisper in Claire's ear. "you know how I am with lies."

When the secretary moved closer, Claire managed a glimpse behind him. She gasped. The Armada! But wait, no, that was impossible.Claire closed her eyes and pictured every detail about an average Armada Musketeer. Ah, ha! Her eyes snapped open, the "Armada soldier's" muskets they were holding were smaller! No, these "musketeers" were most likely footmen or kitchen staff. Suddenly the gears in Claire's mind began turning, How can I use this to my advantage?