Roleplay - A Masked Ball in Padova

AuthorMessage
Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
Anne Radcliffe on Jan 30, 2014 wrote:
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.
Once the stage had creaked into place, the pirates began a lively, comical dance, including some completely improbable ways of swabbing the decks. The comedy turned more serious when the captain arrived with his captive, beginning a bass aria (the captain) and chorus (the crew) celebrating the plunder and destruction they would bring on the hapless Valencians. As for the beautiful and talented Laura, she was to be ransomed at a high price -- and if it was not paid, why then she would be dumped overboard to perish in the depth of the skies.

Laura bore the threats bravely, but when she was left alone she began a mournful aria wishing for her love, hoping to be rescued, yet courageously resigning herself to her fate if the worst came. The singer's lovely, flexible voice was given a most restrained accompaniment -- warm, sorrowful bows of the bass and tenor viola da gambas with the harpsichord's addition gently falling like snowflakes, a tender combination that brought tears to the eyes of many, including Anne.

Despite her absorbtion, however, Anne couldn't help but wish that the heroine would do something more active -- plot to escape or try to take over the ship, for instance. But perhaps Laura knew nothing of ships, Anne considered charitably, which would make most action foolhardy in the extreme (not that the knowledge of being foolhardy had necessarily stopped Anne herself in the past...)

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
Calamity Finch on Jan 28, 2014 wrote:
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.
OOC: I forgot to think before, that perhaps you wanted to pop Danielle into the story, Calamity? Of course you could -- for although Danielle has been sent off 'for her own good' to a country estate, she could certainly wrangle a return, especially as this is her home, after all. None of the servants or guards are going to deny her, after all (though Dad might have a conniption when he finds out...) And I haven't forgotten the pineapples either

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
Alura stood beside her friend Evalina, close as possible to where Katerina and her aged grandmother, the Countess Beatrice Pergolesi sat. The countess seemed to be in excellent spirits and Katerina seemed relaxed and plainly enjoying the performance, for once not showing the worry that dogged her nearly continuously. So far it seemed like people enjoying themselves at a party -- a very elaborate, ridiculously high-class party, perhaps, but Alura didn't feel that the party-goers felt themselves under tense restriction.

Alura herself wasn't so sure. She didn't like the line of 'Armada soldiers' that lined the walls. Oh, she had heard the explanation just like everyone else, but she was quite certain that not all of those fake soldiers were in fact, fakes. She was uneasily certain she wasn't going to like how the plot of the opera was going to develop, either. Yet, those things had surely little to do with her. As far as the safety of the old lady was concerned, she couldn't see any danger to her. In fact, if there were genuine Armada soldiers at the walls they would likely be more protection against a would-be murderer.

Still Alura looked around with periodic sweeps, not forgetting to look upwards as well. The ceiling was a fanciful work of art, with nymphs, Immortals, and flying creatures sporting about in the clouds. But could all that decoration provide easy camouflage for spy holes? Or was she just feeling paranoid?

Gunner's Mate
May 28, 2013
284
"So's boss, whaddya wanna us to do next, eh?" the Cat thug's accent was so thick it could used to patch holes in the roof. Not that there was a roof to patch below ground, for this gang of cronies was ensconced in the dairy room below the kitchens.

"Yeah boss, we'se gettin kinda tired of hiding out downs here. We wants to see some action," a second Cat thug pounded one claw into the other. He couldn't keep still and stopped periodically to scratch at his fleas.

"Patience ragazzo, the game is in motion. Soon it will be time for you to retrieve that for which I am paying you." This voice belonged to a Valencian figure.

"What?" the third Cat queried, a puzzled look on his face.

"He means da artifa... da whosis... da thingymabob," the second declared, victoriously massacring his own language.

"Oh, dat!" a light bulb went off over number three's head. "Yeah, we ken bust some heads, right?"

"Not unless it's necessary," the leader sighed. He had hired these buffoons to take the fall, but was now wondering if he should have gone local. Too late now. "Let's review, shall we?"

"Then we's bust heads."

"No. You go upstairs to the Doge's private library. You find and recover the ledger I spoke of. You return down here and give it to me. You disappear. Can you comprehend all that at once?"

"Then we bust heads!"

"Fine, then you can go and find a fight for yourselves elsewhere. Even amongst yourselves if you prefer."

"Waits just a minit, fancypants," number one announced. "When does we get paid?"

"You'll all get what's coming to you after I get that book. Do you understand?"

"Yeah, yeah. We goes up and finds us your precious book. Seems like an awful lot of trouble fer just a book, don't it?"

"Can you read, my dear fellow?"

"Nah."

"I thought not. Wait a while longer, I must return before I am missed." So saying the Valencian retreated back up the stairs.

"I don't gets it," one Cat spoke up.

"That's cause you ain't got culture."

"Oh yeah."

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
Anne Radcliffe on Feb 1, 2014 wrote:
Once the stage had creaked into place, the pirates began a lively, comical dance, including some completely improbable ways of swabbing the decks. The comedy turned more serious when the captain arrived with his captive, beginning a bass aria (the captain) and chorus (the crew) celebrating the plunder and destruction they would bring on the hapless Valencians. As for the beautiful and talented Laura, she was to be ransomed at a high price -- and if it was not paid, why then she would be dumped overboard to perish in the depth of the skies.

Laura bore the threats bravely, but when she was left alone she began a mournful aria wishing for her love, hoping to be rescued, yet courageously resigning herself to her fate if the worst came. The singer's lovely, flexible voice was given a most restrained accompaniment -- warm, sorrowful bows of the bass and tenor viola da gambas with the harpsichord's addition gently falling like snowflakes, a tender combination that brought tears to the eyes of many, including Anne.

Despite her absorbtion, however, Anne couldn't help but wish that the heroine would do something more active -- plot to escape or try to take over the ship, for instance. But perhaps Laura knew nothing of ships, Anne considered charitably, which would make most action foolhardy in the extreme (not that the knowledge of being foolhardy had necessarily stopped Anne herself in the past...)
The stage rotated again to its first position, where the formerly-happy Valencian peasantry was commiserating with Emilio, the artist-hero, who had every intention of seeking out his love. Duets and trios commented about Emilio's admirable skill with a sword (which he demonstrated dancing with several of the other young men), but the sad truth was that the pirates' overwhelming force would certainly crush him, and in conclusion, a chorus was sung to try to convince the young lover not to go to his death attempting to rescue his love.

Of course, the young lover would have nothing of that!

But just as the assembled peasant folks sadly looked to be losing the talented Emilio too, a graceful fanfare of trumpets introduced a noble character. All did him deference, and explaining his knowledge of the sad situation, the noble sang a rousing aria (with many challenging passagi, all of which the singer managed with grace and skill) announcing that they need not fight alone, that help was at hand -- from a marvelous creation of beauty and power, whose skills at battle would surely crush even the most fierce of pirates. So singing, the noble gracefully ushered in several dancers dressed as -you guessed it- Armada soldiers. The 'Armada' did a military dance mimicking the puppet-like motions of the real article, then went off stage with Emilio and the noble, with the peasants concluding a joyful chorus.

Anne felt disquieted. The music, the dazzling theater, the dancing, all its elegance, color, and grace -- all held her in the grip of enchantment, in its own way as just as powerful as any genuine mojo. With the entrance of the Armada (though it was just a play one), Anne felt as one who sleeps and enjoys a pleasant dream, only to slowly realize that the dream would be turning into a nightmare.

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
Tazio tried to subtly stretch his legs while keeping the appearance of the stiff formality of the young son of a Duke, the Antonio Vinaldi that he was pretending to be. He loved the performance: he had always enjoyed street theater, and this was finer than anything he had ever seen - or heard - before. Part of him just wanted to store up memories to tell his family and friends later. But another part of him was too uneasy to allow himself to really enjoy himself.

He had jumped at the opportunity to impersonate the young nobleman. He had already been serving the Resistance as a messenger, and welcomed the opportunity to do more. Tazio had intelligence and nerve, both critical for this role. While he was studying the part, it seemed as this day would never come, and he had longed for it.

Now, Tazio wasn't so sure. He wished he had more information, but the information available had been vague and fragmentary. There was a possibility that the interpretation of the fragments was wrong; that the Doge was not planning anything against the Vinaldis. Not that Tazio hoped for that outcome, really, as he was hoping to prove himself and become a real agent of the Resistance. But exactly what (if anything) the Doge was planning, and -especially- when he was planning to do it -- that Tazio would have been relieved to know.

He glanced sideways to automatically check that no one saw his restive movements, and caught the glance of his 'sister' Kara, really Emma, Tazio recalled. Her face under her mask was watchful, but for a moment her eyes twinkled with amusement as she noticed him trying to calm his restless legs. He grinned at her, just a bit apologetically, and shoving a hand into his frockcoat pocket, Tazio found some lemon drops. He popped one into his mouth, and smiling, offered his 'sister' the other. The candies weren't too fuzzy with lint, really...

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Doge's Palace...

"My lord asks if all is in readiness for you to support him this eve." The speaker was a middle-aged Unicorn with a soft voice and shrewd eyes, his sober dress and ink-stained fingers proclaiming his profession as a secretary to a person of wealth and substance.

"My lord asks a lot of me with little up front to offer," the second person in the room retorted ascerbically. She was a Pig, short and plump, dressed in a rose velvet gown of antique style, complemented by a high headdress that flourished a sheer pink silk veil behind.

"My lord wished to be certain you have, ah, skills and not mere credentials. There are others of your Academy in Wisteria who serve lords and ladies here, and despite their undoubted academic achievements, most are merely purveyors of pretty tricks and simple wonders," he explained.

The Pig briefly nodded her head. "But you know I am different," she retorted. And fortunate to have access to a stupendous library which enabled my talents and ambition, she privately reflected.

"My lord did help you find the book," he offered.

She snorted impolitely. "Most clumsily. There was no need to send goons after that apprentice. That sort of thing only drives suspicion. I admit he did help in the end, though I was the one who ultimately took the risk to take it."

"But you have it now."

"I do. But that is not sufficient price for my services."

"No, I thought not. Here is a partial price," answered the secretary, and handed to her a small, velvet-covered box. The Pig opened it. Her eyes brightened greedily as she drew out a pair of gold earrings, set with magnificent emerald drops.

"The matching necklace is yours if your work pleases tonight," he explained.

She smiled, donning the earrings. "I will endeavor to please him."

He left. The Pig opened the music book. Its arcane secrets opened to her skills, and Power shimmered briefly as she hummed a fragment in practice.

Pirate Overlord
Mar 10, 2009
6079
Chrissy stood at the side of the room well within eye contact of her charges should she be needed. She was thoroughly enjoying the performance and had to forcibly pull herself mentally away to 'reach out' and make sure there was no danger. With so many people in one huge place that dabbled a bit in magic it was a bit disconcerting for Chrissy as she sensed the low level magic wafting about. For a land that had outlawed any magic there sure was a lot of low levels. For Chrissy it was a bit like walking through the restaurant section of town and catching the smells of different dishes all at once. It was making her a bit nervous and she was trying to filter it out without leaving herself and her friends vulnerable. She was focused on the delightful performance again and had to use great control to keep her features neutral when the Armada showed up in the plot. She hated clockworks with everything in her and having them ruin the lovely play was like hungering for a delightful meal you have been smelling cook for hours and suddenly you smell it horribly scorched. The fake ones around the room were enough to nauseate her. As she was steeling herself to look properly awed like the other servants she had to grab the plinth of a nearby statue to keep from rocking backwards as the heavy presence of magic swirled around her. She started hearing music and couldn't explain it. Granted, hearing music in the middle of an opera was not unusual but what she was hearing was faint but very ominous. She could not catch anyone's eye and the crowd prevented her from gesturing for attention and the performance level prevented any chance of speaking without drawing attention. She began to cast her most secure shield around the her charges and those close to her heart. She had a quick fear that she might be sensed by the music source but she didn't know enough about how her 'knowing' actually worked and if her gift was unique. All she could do was keep casting and stay vibratingly alert.

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
The sense of intrusive magic that Chrissy had sensed disappeared. Chrissy had no way of knowing if she had repelled it by her own instinctive shields, or it had left on its own, and no knowledge of whether the author of the magic had sensed her or not. Her own emotions were rather like the rolling motions of the plywood wind swells on the stage, which provided the foreground to a dramatic ship battle in shadow play on the back frame. In the foreground, 'floating' among artfully created clouds and swells of wood and sheets of silk manipulated from the stage sides, were nymphs of the air and tritons singing about the battle.

The battle was startlingly impressive, with gunpowder explosions and 'mortar' blasts that scattered multicolor confetti, while the music was so dramatic and stirring as to even catch Sam's interest as he stood in the back and finished up the last of the purloined cheese cubes.

For Anne, as well as certain others in the audience, there was the internal problem of which side to root for. She couldn't root for the Armada ships, even if they did bring the hero Emilio, but she couldn't cheer on the pirates either, for then Laura would perish (and that would be most unsatisfying). So Anne simply set herself to be thrilled by the music, enchanted by song, and thoroughly diverted by the splendid special effects.

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
Anne Radcliffe on Feb 5, 2014 wrote:
The sense of intrusive magic that Chrissy had sensed disappeared. Chrissy had no way of knowing if she had repelled it by her own instinctive shields, or it had left on its own, and no knowledge of whether the author of the magic had sensed her or not. Her own emotions were rather like the rolling motions of the plywood wind swells on the stage, which provided the foreground to a dramatic ship battle in shadow play on the back frame. In the foreground, 'floating' among artfully created clouds and swells of wood and sheets of silk manipulated from the stage sides, were nymphs of the air and tritons singing about the battle.

The battle was startlingly impressive, with gunpowder explosions and 'mortar' blasts that scattered multicolor confetti, while the music was so dramatic and stirring as to even catch Sam's interest as he stood in the back and finished up the last of the purloined cheese cubes.

For Anne, as well as certain others in the audience, there was the internal problem of which side to root for. She couldn't root for the Armada ships, even if they did bring the hero Emilio, but she couldn't cheer on the pirates either, for then Laura would perish (and that would be most unsatisfying). So Anne simply set herself to be thrilled by the music, enchanted by song, and thoroughly diverted by the splendid special effects.
The hard-working stage hands brought back the initial scenery which opened to music of great rejoicing. Laura and Emilio were once again reunited, and sang together a duet of great sweetness with several dances interwoven between the phrases of the song. Anne felt herself slip back into a happy dream, spun along by the magnificence of the music.

Then onto the stage came the Pirate Captain, accompanied by two 'Armada' soldiers. In the short period of time before his entrance, the singer had managed a change of costume and makeup to artfully visualize the aspect of a criminal held without mercy in a harsh prison. His deep resonant voice sang of his remorse and his foolishness in defying Valencian Law, and his submission to the Will of Justice, before he was led off stage again.

Anne sat rigidly still, wide-eyed with shock at this frighteningly played feat of 'Justice' that hit entirely too close to home. The tone of his submission was the worst part. Anne knew full well at it was customary for condemned criminals to make a public confession before they met their end, but the singer made it seem much more than that. She did not understand why she felt that way, and that made her all the more uneasy. And as the happy dancing and singing resumed on stage, a shadow play against the scenery in back made it perfectly clear that the pirate had received the traditional end for his crimes.

The chorus of Immortals came down again on their wires, and the singing and dancing to close the opera was of intoxicating sweetness. Anne forced herself to come out of her shock and respond to the glorious music once more. And, Anne reminded herself, it was only a story.

Perhaps the Doge, however, did not think it was 'only a story'. As the short opera ended to great applause, Nicolo Foscari slid a calculating look to the youngster clapping enthusiastically beside him.

"And so end all traitors to Valencia," he murmured, then fixed his gaze sharply on Anne. "So, Violetta Vinaldi, did you not think that was a fitting end for the pirate villain?"

Anne had not met the gaze of the Doge before, and felt transfixed by the power and intelligence behind it. It would be very difficult to lie to him, she realized. Perhaps impossible. She swiftly cast about in her mind for something harmless to say.

"I preferred the singing and the dancing," she replied with perfect honesty.

Anne did better than she might have suspected -- her answer had the artless simplicity of an innocent child. The Doge's face for a moment held its calculating focus, then softened and warmed. He broke into a smile, and for a moment looked a lot like an older version of his son. "So did I," he admitted confidingly and then looked over to his master of ceremonies. The Doge gave him a small nod of instruction so that once the hubbub had calmed down, his guests could be directed to the banqueting hall.

Captain
Mar 09, 2011
709
Anne Radcliffe on Feb 6, 2014 wrote:
The hard-working stage hands brought back the initial scenery which opened to music of great rejoicing. Laura and Emilio were once again reunited, and sang together a duet of great sweetness with several dances interwoven between the phrases of the song. Anne felt herself slip back into a happy dream, spun along by the magnificence of the music.

Then onto the stage came the Pirate Captain, accompanied by two 'Armada' soldiers. In the short period of time before his entrance, the singer had managed a change of costume and makeup to artfully visualize the aspect of a criminal held without mercy in a harsh prison. His deep resonant voice sang of his remorse and his foolishness in defying Valencian Law, and his submission to the Will of Justice, before he was led off stage again.

Anne sat rigidly still, wide-eyed with shock at this frighteningly played feat of 'Justice' that hit entirely too close to home. The tone of his submission was the worst part. Anne knew full well at it was customary for condemned criminals to make a public confession before they met their end, but the singer made it seem much more than that. She did not understand why she felt that way, and that made her all the more uneasy. And as the happy dancing and singing resumed on stage, a shadow play against the scenery in back made it perfectly clear that the pirate had received the traditional end for his crimes.

The chorus of Immortals came down again on their wires, and the singing and dancing to close the opera was of intoxicating sweetness. Anne forced herself to come out of her shock and respond to the glorious music once more. And, Anne reminded herself, it was only a story.

Perhaps the Doge, however, did not think it was 'only a story'. As the short opera ended to great applause, Nicolo Foscari slid a calculating look to the youngster clapping enthusiastically beside him.

"And so end all traitors to Valencia," he murmured, then fixed his gaze sharply on Anne. "So, Violetta Vinaldi, did you not think that was a fitting end for the pirate villain?"

Anne had not met the gaze of the Doge before, and felt transfixed by the power and intelligence behind it. It would be very difficult to lie to him, she realized. Perhaps impossible. She swiftly cast about in her mind for something harmless to say.

"I preferred the singing and the dancing," she replied with perfect honesty.

Anne did better than she might have suspected -- her answer had the artless simplicity of an innocent child. The Doge's face for a moment held its calculating focus, then softened and warmed. He broke into a smile, and for a moment looked a lot like an older version of his son. "So did I," he admitted confidingly and then looked over to his master of ceremonies. The Doge gave him a small nod of instruction so that once the hubbub had calmed down, his guests could be directed to the banqueting hall.
Throughout the entire play, Mariella found herself having difficulty concentrating on it, and either zoned out by staring blankly at the floor of the stage, or stared at anywhere else in the room, really, anywhere from her feet to the ceiling. She tapped her feet to a rhythm that no one else could hear, twiddling her thumbs in her lap. Mariella was itching to be doing something else -- anything but sitting in this dull chair and watching drama unfold before her, though she passed the time by gazing at nothing and everything simultaneously.

After an eternity the play finally ended, and Mariella shot up, clapping her hands like everyone else and grinning. Grinning because she could finally move. She stretched her arms upward and closed her eyes, then opened them and did a little twirl. My left foot has fallen asleep, She mused. The adolescent shifted her weight to her right foot and tapped her left foot continuously. She did a few more twirls guided by the foot in question, waiting for all of her family to stand up so that they could go to the banqueting hall.

Lizzy, too, was itching to do something more productive. The play was a brilliant idea and was even more brilliantly executed, though the swashbuckler had been getting antsy. True to the character of Mariella, Lizzy as well paid little attention to the play and more attention to pretty much every except the theater. She was grateful for this, though, because this gave her more time and cover to think about whatever she wanted to, everything from her personal life to the mission at hand. She was unnerved by the appearance of the clockworks, though nothing of this showed beside goosebumps on her arms, which was covered by the white sleeves of the dress. All in all, as soon as she could, Mariella/Lizzy couldn't wait to dart away and do something else.

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
totallyawesomepira... on Jan 30, 2014 wrote:
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?
Benvolio Ariosto eyed Claire warily. He could tell she was thinking quickly, and decided to swiftly parry any idea that might come to her. Besides, she could come in useful, perhaps, after all.

"I don't know why you've come here, cousin, but you have chosen a dangerous party to crash. As a family member, I will warn you that only this floor of the palace is allowed. Entrances to more private quarters of the Doge are well guarded and exceptionally hazardous. Do you understand me? If you have come as a thief or spy, I would strongly recommend you reconsider -- if you want to live longer than tonight."

The young Unicorn allowed himself a grim smile at Claire's frightened expression. "I want to know what Cousin Marcia is playing at, bringing you here. I should turn you over to the Doge right now. He would find out the truth swiftly enough. However..." he paused significantly. "However, I could keep your secret -- for a favor. Just a small thing for you to do this evening. Nothing that would harm anyone."

"If I have your word that you will do the very small thing I will ask of you, then I will keep your secret. You may dance and converse, provided you stay within the range of my sight during the Ball. If you go off somewhere on your own, I will have to assume you are not trustworthy and will denounce you to the Doge immediately. And the Armada soldiers under his command will find you, believe me. But if you fulfill your end of the bargain, I will keep mine and say nothing of your imposture."

"So, do we have a deal?"

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
Anne Radcliffe on Feb 6, 2014 wrote:
The hard-working stage hands brought back the initial scenery which opened to music of great rejoicing. Laura and Emilio were once again reunited, and sang together a duet of great sweetness with several dances interwoven between the phrases of the song. Anne felt herself slip back into a happy dream, spun along by the magnificence of the music.

Then onto the stage came the Pirate Captain, accompanied by two 'Armada' soldiers. In the short period of time before his entrance, the singer had managed a change of costume and makeup to artfully visualize the aspect of a criminal held without mercy in a harsh prison. His deep resonant voice sang of his remorse and his foolishness in defying Valencian Law, and his submission to the Will of Justice, before he was led off stage again.

Anne sat rigidly still, wide-eyed with shock at this frighteningly played feat of 'Justice' that hit entirely too close to home. The tone of his submission was the worst part. Anne knew full well at it was customary for condemned criminals to make a public confession before they met their end, but the singer made it seem much more than that. She did not understand why she felt that way, and that made her all the more uneasy. And as the happy dancing and singing resumed on stage, a shadow play against the scenery in back made it perfectly clear that the pirate had received the traditional end for his crimes.

The chorus of Immortals came down again on their wires, and the singing and dancing to close the opera was of intoxicating sweetness. Anne forced herself to come out of her shock and respond to the glorious music once more. And, Anne reminded herself, it was only a story.

Perhaps the Doge, however, did not think it was 'only a story'. As the short opera ended to great applause, Nicolo Foscari slid a calculating look to the youngster clapping enthusiastically beside him.

"And so end all traitors to Valencia," he murmured, then fixed his gaze sharply on Anne. "So, Violetta Vinaldi, did you not think that was a fitting end for the pirate villain?"

Anne had not met the gaze of the Doge before, and felt transfixed by the power and intelligence behind it. It would be very difficult to lie to him, she realized. Perhaps impossible. She swiftly cast about in her mind for something harmless to say.

"I preferred the singing and the dancing," she replied with perfect honesty.

Anne did better than she might have suspected -- her answer had the artless simplicity of an innocent child. The Doge's face for a moment held its calculating focus, then softened and warmed. He broke into a smile, and for a moment looked a lot like an older version of his son. "So did I," he admitted confidingly and then looked over to his master of ceremonies. The Doge gave him a small nod of instruction so that once the hubbub had calmed down, his guests could be directed to the banqueting hall.
(OOC: If we were in a real Renaissance adventure, there would be a dinner or supper in addition to a banquet, as a banquet was someplace you withdrew towards to get a fabulous sampling of sweets. Just to give you an idea, I recently read of a feast and following banquet given for England's Henry VII & Elizabeth of York where they enjoyed a "rich banquet of strawberries, cream, spice cakes, and cherries" before they commenced to dance. But I'm sure that would be far too simple for the Valencians!)

*

The Master of Ceremonies directed the guests to the adjoining room, which modeled on the ancient Aquilan style, featured an atrium area that held a central square pool to collect rainwater, which also displayed a lovely fountain of frolicking nymphs in the best classical style. Looking up, the guests could see a interior balcony walkways for the two upper floors, and a panel that could close the top of the atrium if needed. But tonight it was open to the starry skies, which in beauty competed with a constellation of golden stars painted on the dark blue of the ceiling. The painted stars had been dusted with some alchemical powder which allowed them to absorb the light of the day and emit their own light for some hours later, so marvelously the painted stars glowed with their own light.

But the delicacies laid out upon tables draped artfully with flowers and greenery and lit by beeswax candles in silver candelabras soon drew all the attention. Most prominent were the subtleties, amazing constructions of sugar that could not help but bring the greatest admiration. On one table stood colorful statues, representing characters in great works of Valencian literature, as 'Violetta', her 'sisters', and their lady's maid 'Lucia' soon learned from Alcina Vinaldi. The figures, which stood as high as a largish doll, were molded entirely of sugar, and artfully painted with vegetable dyes so as to remain completely edible. On another table, similar figures of the Doge, his wife (sadly, deceased), and his two children were made in a similar style, the lace of the collars of the ladies artfully rendered in spun sugar.

The central table held a torrone -- a large cake made with egg whites, honey, almonds, and candied fruit artfully sculpted into a replica of the central bell tower in Padova, complete with gilded decorations. Below the tower little sugar people and their sugar domestic animals gamboled on marchpane streets. All admired these wonderful creations, with the happy knowledge that after all had opportunity to see the subtleties, they would be broken up and eaten by the lucky guests.

In the meantime, there were plenty of sweets ready for devouring. Fruits - apricots, peaches, plums, grapes, strawberries, pineapples - both in their natural state and sugared as well. There were also peaches stuffed with almond macaroons, little custard tarts dotted with berries... (and yes, there's more)...

Gunner's Mate
May 28, 2013
284
Anne Radcliffe on Feb 6, 2014 wrote:
The hard-working stage hands brought back the initial scenery which opened to music of great rejoicing. Laura and Emilio were once again reunited, and sang together a duet of great sweetness with several dances interwoven between the phrases of the song. Anne felt herself slip back into a happy dream, spun along by the magnificence of the music.

Then onto the stage came the Pirate Captain, accompanied by two 'Armada' soldiers. In the short period of time before his entrance, the singer had managed a change of costume and makeup to artfully visualize the aspect of a criminal held without mercy in a harsh prison. His deep resonant voice sang of his remorse and his foolishness in defying Valencian Law, and his submission to the Will of Justice, before he was led off stage again.

Anne sat rigidly still, wide-eyed with shock at this frighteningly played feat of 'Justice' that hit entirely too close to home. The tone of his submission was the worst part. Anne knew full well at it was customary for condemned criminals to make a public confession before they met their end, but the singer made it seem much more than that. She did not understand why she felt that way, and that made her all the more uneasy. And as the happy dancing and singing resumed on stage, a shadow play against the scenery in back made it perfectly clear that the pirate had received the traditional end for his crimes.

The chorus of Immortals came down again on their wires, and the singing and dancing to close the opera was of intoxicating sweetness. Anne forced herself to come out of her shock and respond to the glorious music once more. And, Anne reminded herself, it was only a story.

Perhaps the Doge, however, did not think it was 'only a story'. As the short opera ended to great applause, Nicolo Foscari slid a calculating look to the youngster clapping enthusiastically beside him.

"And so end all traitors to Valencia," he murmured, then fixed his gaze sharply on Anne. "So, Violetta Vinaldi, did you not think that was a fitting end for the pirate villain?"

Anne had not met the gaze of the Doge before, and felt transfixed by the power and intelligence behind it. It would be very difficult to lie to him, she realized. Perhaps impossible. She swiftly cast about in her mind for something harmless to say.

"I preferred the singing and the dancing," she replied with perfect honesty.

Anne did better than she might have suspected -- her answer had the artless simplicity of an innocent child. The Doge's face for a moment held its calculating focus, then softened and warmed. He broke into a smile, and for a moment looked a lot like an older version of his son. "So did I," he admitted confidingly and then looked over to his master of ceremonies. The Doge gave him a small nod of instruction so that once the hubbub had calmed down, his guests could be directed to the banqueting hall.
Sam did not enjoy the last bit of the 'entertainment' at all -- surrounded by pretend Armada troops, watching the stage pirate captain meet his 'just reward'. The music, singing, dancing, all that disappeared and the reality of the situation hit Sam in the heart. 'The Armada has to go,' he thought to himself. All these idiots thinking only of themselves and their pockets, they couldn't see what sort of viper they were letting into their lives.

"It's over, mi amor," Magdelena startled Sam out of his reverie. "Now we can get that empty stomach of yours something not at all good for it." Without a backward glance at the stage, they joined the throng moving into the Atrium hall where the feast had been deployed. It mostly consisted of finger food - rather an astonishing selection of sweets actually. Sam managed to fill his plate to overflowing, while Magdelena only took a flavored ice.

A few minutes of socially correct mingling followed, so Sam kept his mouth full and simply nodded occasionally. He never found out that afterwards he was thought to be incredibly considerate and courteous. "Mi scusi, I find myself needing to pardon myself for a moment." Magdelena gave a small curtsy and headed off. Sam took the occasion to restock his comestible collection.

It was less than a minute later as Sam was choosing between a seed cake, or custard tart, or a piece of marzipan shaped like a rose, that a voice broke in on concentration. "Did you know your girlfriend headed up the stairs?" Sam turned his head and saw that pesky interloper of a spy was back, still playing serving girl, although she was offering him a glass of punch. Sam double checked his pouch to be certain she hadn't robbed him. "I wonder why she went that way?" Her head tilted to the side theatrically.

The light bulb over Sam's head was practically visible. The Resistance. Magdelena had come here to find something or another and this was her big chance to search for it and not be missed. "No doubt she knows this place better than you or I," he replied noncommitally.

"Still no sign of Professor Deluca," she commented mysteriously and meandered off again, distributing her potable wares. Sam spent the next few minutes examining the crowd. The Doge's son Orlando was surrounded by what mostly appeared to be eligible young ladies. Sam had not forgotten Orlando wished to speak to him later on. There was no sign of the Chancellor; thankfully no sign of Reggie either.

There were two of the Vinaldi girls, helping themselves to some sweets at a nearby sideboard. Suddenly Sam felt like every bit of an awkward sixteen year old boy, complete with nervous butterflies flittering throughout his frame. He'd found himself wishing he was facing down a horde of Drowned Zombies, rather than going up and talking to a girl. He swallowed hard and straightened his costume as best he could. He wasn't sure which Vinaldi was which, so he offered the traditional boy-inspired opening.

"Hi."

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
Fabulous subtleties, perfect fruits, and tiny tarts studded with gem-like fruits were not the only delicacies to adorn the tables around the room. Cakes of various sorts - gingerbread (some colored and even gilded), sugar plate diamonds adorned with sweet violets or tiny pansies, spiced panforte with its warming kick of black pepper, cream-filled cannolis, the splendid zuppa del duca, an elaborate and rich layered trifle, and many other lesser cakes, but still of the finest quality.

And then there were the ices and the crème de glace, the ice creams! These were laid out in little dishes designed to be held to the mouth and eaten without a spoon. The surface of these tables were very cold - indeed frost adorned the fine linen of the tablecoverings- as from beneath the tables clever piping systems carved deeply all the way through the island of Padova directed the icy air from the upper atmosphere to metal tanks that kept the ices very cold indeed.

Beverages - lemonade, coffee, hot chocolate, and tea, were also served in pretty little porcelain cups by servants in the livery of the Doge. No Yum was in evidence -- but since it was illegal to trade Yum in Mooshu and Padova could hardly be trading (openly) with Skull Island, perhaps that was not surprising.

All in all, there was more sugar and more sweets than Anne had ever seen in her life! None of the Armada -even pretend ones- were present in this room. Even the guards on duty in the gallery balconies above were of the sturdy Guinea Pig variety, not Armada soldiers. Anne began to relax and enjoy the wonder and sumptuous delight of it all.

Pirate Overlord
Mar 10, 2009
6079
Anne Radcliffe on Feb 10, 2014 wrote:
Fabulous subtleties, perfect fruits, and tiny tarts studded with gem-like fruits were not the only delicacies to adorn the tables around the room. Cakes of various sorts - gingerbread (some colored and even gilded), sugar plate diamonds adorned with sweet violets or tiny pansies, spiced panforte with its warming kick of black pepper, cream-filled cannolis, the splendid zuppa del duca, an elaborate and rich layered trifle, and many other lesser cakes, but still of the finest quality.

And then there were the ices and the crème de glace, the ice creams! These were laid out in little dishes designed to be held to the mouth and eaten without a spoon. The surface of these tables were very cold - indeed frost adorned the fine linen of the tablecoverings- as from beneath the tables clever piping systems carved deeply all the way through the island of Padova directed the icy air from the upper atmosphere to metal tanks that kept the ices very cold indeed.

Beverages - lemonade, coffee, hot chocolate, and tea, were also served in pretty little porcelain cups by servants in the livery of the Doge. No Yum was in evidence -- but since it was illegal to trade Yum in Mooshu and Padova could hardly be trading (openly) with Skull Island, perhaps that was not surprising.

All in all, there was more sugar and more sweets than Anne had ever seen in her life! None of the Armada -even pretend ones- were present in this room. Even the guards on duty in the gallery balconies above were of the sturdy Guinea Pig variety, not Armada soldiers. Anne began to relax and enjoy the wonder and sumptuous delight of it all.
OOC
Oh my goodness Anne, I am positively drooling. I swear I am gonna have to deal with a sugar high from sheer screen osmosis. Your writing talents are simply stunning. From every delicacy you have woven in here, from feasts for the eyes, music that stirs my soul and now foods that make me feel I have actually dined with royalty. Please, NEVER stop writing.

Commodore
Sep 20, 2009
814
Anne Radcliffe on Feb 10, 2014 wrote:
Fabulous subtleties, perfect fruits, and tiny tarts studded with gem-like fruits were not the only delicacies to adorn the tables around the room. Cakes of various sorts - gingerbread (some colored and even gilded), sugar plate diamonds adorned with sweet violets or tiny pansies, spiced panforte with its warming kick of black pepper, cream-filled cannolis, the splendid zuppa del duca, an elaborate and rich layered trifle, and many other lesser cakes, but still of the finest quality.

And then there were the ices and the crème de glace, the ice creams! These were laid out in little dishes designed to be held to the mouth and eaten without a spoon. The surface of these tables were very cold - indeed frost adorned the fine linen of the tablecoverings- as from beneath the tables clever piping systems carved deeply all the way through the island of Padova directed the icy air from the upper atmosphere to metal tanks that kept the ices very cold indeed.

Beverages - lemonade, coffee, hot chocolate, and tea, were also served in pretty little porcelain cups by servants in the livery of the Doge. No Yum was in evidence -- but since it was illegal to trade Yum in Mooshu and Padova could hardly be trading (openly) with Skull Island, perhaps that was not surprising.

All in all, there was more sugar and more sweets than Anne had ever seen in her life! None of the Armada -even pretend ones- were present in this room. Even the guards on duty in the gallery balconies above were of the sturdy Guinea Pig variety, not Armada soldiers. Anne began to relax and enjoy the wonder and sumptuous delight of it all.
[OOC: Lovely writing both Anne and Sam. I hope you don't mind if I change Sam's just a little bit, I think it would be more awkward for him if he walked up to all of the Vinaldi girls instead of just two of them.]

When Scarlet found the frosted table covered in the various ice creams she was actually estatic. As dignified as possible, she rapidly found her supposed sisters and dragged them over to the table, babbling merrily the entire way.

"Creme de glace mes soeurs. Zey 'ave so many types of ice creme 'ere. Some I 'ave not tasted for so long. Zey 'ave mint et chocolate, and all ze fruite flavoured variety as well."

Isabella was just handing a small bowl of orange flavoured ice cream to Mariella when she heard a familiar voice sounding behind her, turning around she saw it was the same lion masked boy she had met before. Calmly stepping up beside Violetta, Isabella greeted the boy again.

"Bon soir, uh, Monsieur Zrockmorton. It is a pleasure to meet you again."

Captain
Mar 09, 2011
709
CdeWinter on Feb 11, 2014 wrote:
[OOC: Lovely writing both Anne and Sam. I hope you don't mind if I change Sam's just a little bit, I think it would be more awkward for him if he walked up to all of the Vinaldi girls instead of just two of them.]

When Scarlet found the frosted table covered in the various ice creams she was actually estatic. As dignified as possible, she rapidly found her supposed sisters and dragged them over to the table, babbling merrily the entire way.

"Creme de glace mes soeurs. Zey 'ave so many types of ice creme 'ere. Some I 'ave not tasted for so long. Zey 'ave mint et chocolate, and all ze fruite flavoured variety as well."

Isabella was just handing a small bowl of orange flavoured ice cream to Mariella when she heard a familiar voice sounding behind her, turning around she saw it was the same lion masked boy she had met before. Calmly stepping up beside Violetta, Isabella greeted the boy again.

"Bon soir, uh, Monsieur Zrockmorton. It is a pleasure to meet you again."
OOC: How perfectly ironic that orange is one of my least favorite flavors and as often as possible I try to avoid it. Though, Lizzy and Mariella are their own people and thus as far as I know of fully appreciate oranges. *Still grinning* Someday when we meet at a pirate101 convention, I will give you orange ice cream and return the flavor... I mean favor. Until then, I shall enjoy the virtual sweet and the comicality behind it.
~
Mariella gazed to the ice cream in wonderment, though Lizzy was only calculating. She never had sugar rushes, only sugar crashes. If she ate too much sugar, than she would be just about as useful as a passed out sailor with an empty bottle of yum in its hand.

I hope this doesn't have very much sugar, she thought, then took a daring bite. Lizzy was completely surprised to find herself salivate as she swallowed the chilly ice cream, her taste buds exploding with flavor and wanting more. Mariella put another bite into her mouth, and pressed her tongue against the roof of her mouth with the ice cream in between so as to spare her teeth from getting cold. It was absolutely amazing. Lizzy would really have to watch herself around these sweets.

Time for worry later. Lizzy barely had enough time to think this before she set down the already finished bowl of ice cream and hurried over to a table with sweetened strawberries with as much dignity as she could possibly muster... which wasn't much, as she practically tripped over her own feet in her rush.

Lizzy forcibly calmed herself as Mariella ate the strawberries in question. As she ate (slowly, mind you), Lizzy analyzed the situation. No armada soldiers in here. This was dangerous... any stray undercover pirate hoping to foil anyone's plans might be lulled into a false sense of security without the enemy here. Mariella finished off her final strawberry and walked back over to her parent, linking arms with her.

"How has your evening been so far, Mama?" Mariella asked with true interest, handing her mother a strawberry that she had saved. Lizzy eyed the strawberry somewhat greedily, but re-directed her attention back to her 'Mama'.

Gunner's Mate
May 28, 2013
284
Sam Underhill on Feb 9, 2014 wrote:
Sam did not enjoy the last bit of the 'entertainment' at all -- surrounded by pretend Armada troops, watching the stage pirate captain meet his 'just reward'. The music, singing, dancing, all that disappeared and the reality of the situation hit Sam in the heart. 'The Armada has to go,' he thought to himself. All these idiots thinking only of themselves and their pockets, they couldn't see what sort of viper they were letting into their lives.

"It's over, mi amor," Magdelena startled Sam out of his reverie. "Now we can get that empty stomach of yours something not at all good for it." Without a backward glance at the stage, they joined the throng moving into the Atrium hall where the feast had been deployed. It mostly consisted of finger food - rather an astonishing selection of sweets actually. Sam managed to fill his plate to overflowing, while Magdelena only took a flavored ice.

A few minutes of socially correct mingling followed, so Sam kept his mouth full and simply nodded occasionally. He never found out that afterwards he was thought to be incredibly considerate and courteous. "Mi scusi, I find myself needing to pardon myself for a moment." Magdelena gave a small curtsy and headed off. Sam took the occasion to restock his comestible collection.

It was less than a minute later as Sam was choosing between a seed cake, or custard tart, or a piece of marzipan shaped like a rose, that a voice broke in on concentration. "Did you know your girlfriend headed up the stairs?" Sam turned his head and saw that pesky interloper of a spy was back, still playing serving girl, although she was offering him a glass of punch. Sam double checked his pouch to be certain she hadn't robbed him. "I wonder why she went that way?" Her head tilted to the side theatrically.

The light bulb over Sam's head was practically visible. The Resistance. Magdelena had come here to find something or another and this was her big chance to search for it and not be missed. "No doubt she knows this place better than you or I," he replied noncommitally.

"Still no sign of Professor Deluca," she commented mysteriously and meandered off again, distributing her potable wares. Sam spent the next few minutes examining the crowd. The Doge's son Orlando was surrounded by what mostly appeared to be eligible young ladies. Sam had not forgotten Orlando wished to speak to him later on. There was no sign of the Chancellor; thankfully no sign of Reggie either.

There were two of the Vinaldi girls, helping themselves to some sweets at a nearby sideboard. Suddenly Sam felt like every bit of an awkward sixteen year old boy, complete with nervous butterflies flittering throughout his frame. He'd found himself wishing he was facing down a horde of Drowned Zombies, rather than going up and talking to a girl. He swallowed hard and straightened his costume as best he could. He wasn't sure which Vinaldi was which, so he offered the traditional boy-inspired opening.

"Hi."
Magdelena climbed the stairs hesitantly, then gave herself a mental shake and put on an air of confidence. Two burly Guinea Pigs stood attentively at the top of the stairs. They moved to intercept her, but she lifted her hand to show a piece of paper on which was drawn an arrow, a symbol of the Resistance. They glanced at each other, then stepped aside to let her pass. The Plan was working, the Resistance had managed to substitute sympathizers at key points. Holding her fan up to cover her nervousness, she climbed another set of stairs.

She had never been to the Doge's private library, but in theory she knew where it lay. At the next landing stood her next obstacle, a Unicorn in the Doge's livery. He looked lethally dangerous, not only from the ceremonial but functional glaive he held in one hand.

"Mi scusi, che non si puo passare." (Excuse me, you cannot pass)

"Sto cercando il Professor Deluca." (I am looking for...)

At this the guard smiled and stepped to one side. With a sigh of relief she curtsied, then proceeded down the hallway. She counted the rooms on her left. One, two, three, and four. This should be it.

She knew that the Doge had a special key for this door, so she carefully examined the locking mechanism. Smiling to herself she took out the lock pick she had been practicing with on poor Sam's sea chest. She teased and tickled the lock until she heard a satisfying click. Private library indeed, you'd think the Doge would at least try to keep people out.

Magdelena quickly slipped inside, then found and lit a candle. She set herself to looking hurriedly, yet systematically, for a red leather covered ledger. The hope was it contained a hidden set of names and transactions that could prove the Doge was engaged in illegal acts outside his authority.

Suddenly the door opened, but the light from the hallway was blocked by the appearance of three large Cats. "Well, well, well, what has we 'ere?" the first one asked the other two.

Magdelena decided to try and bluff it out. "This is a private room. Please leave before the Doge arrives."

"Not without whats we cames for," the second declared. "If'n youse already gots it, hands it over nice and easy."

"Otherwise we gets to bust heads, right?" the third hoped.

"No, no, no," the first falsely sounded reasonable, "let's see if the lady wants to behave 'erself."

Magdelena realized her bluff wasn't going to work. "What is it you... gentlemen are looking for?"

"Now then, that ain't beings nice, is it now?" the second broke in. He had been circling around the room and Magdelena discovered she was surrounded.

"Screaming ain't gonna 'elp ya," the first continued, "why doesn't ya just sit down and stay quiet, then maybes ya won't gets 'urt."

Magdelena realized she couldn't escape the room while the third Cat stood resolutely by the door. She would just have to bide her time, so she tried to bluff again. "You know there isn't much time before you'll be discovered in here."

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
Sam Underhill on Feb 9, 2014 wrote:
Sam did not enjoy the last bit of the 'entertainment' at all -- surrounded by pretend Armada troops, watching the stage pirate captain meet his 'just reward'. The music, singing, dancing, all that disappeared and the reality of the situation hit Sam in the heart. 'The Armada has to go,' he thought to himself. All these idiots thinking only of themselves and their pockets, they couldn't see what sort of viper they were letting into their lives.

"It's over, mi amor," Magdelena startled Sam out of his reverie. "Now we can get that empty stomach of yours something not at all good for it." Without a backward glance at the stage, they joined the throng moving into the Atrium hall where the feast had been deployed. It mostly consisted of finger food - rather an astonishing selection of sweets actually. Sam managed to fill his plate to overflowing, while Magdelena only took a flavored ice.

A few minutes of socially correct mingling followed, so Sam kept his mouth full and simply nodded occasionally. He never found out that afterwards he was thought to be incredibly considerate and courteous. "Mi scusi, I find myself needing to pardon myself for a moment." Magdelena gave a small curtsy and headed off. Sam took the occasion to restock his comestible collection.

It was less than a minute later as Sam was choosing between a seed cake, or custard tart, or a piece of marzipan shaped like a rose, that a voice broke in on concentration. "Did you know your girlfriend headed up the stairs?" Sam turned his head and saw that pesky interloper of a spy was back, still playing serving girl, although she was offering him a glass of punch. Sam double checked his pouch to be certain she hadn't robbed him. "I wonder why she went that way?" Her head tilted to the side theatrically.

The light bulb over Sam's head was practically visible. The Resistance. Magdelena had come here to find something or another and this was her big chance to search for it and not be missed. "No doubt she knows this place better than you or I," he replied noncommitally.

"Still no sign of Professor Deluca," she commented mysteriously and meandered off again, distributing her potable wares. Sam spent the next few minutes examining the crowd. The Doge's son Orlando was surrounded by what mostly appeared to be eligible young ladies. Sam had not forgotten Orlando wished to speak to him later on. There was no sign of the Chancellor; thankfully no sign of Reggie either.

There were two of the Vinaldi girls, helping themselves to some sweets at a nearby sideboard. Suddenly Sam felt like every bit of an awkward sixteen year old boy, complete with nervous butterflies flittering throughout his frame. He'd found himself wishing he was facing down a horde of Drowned Zombies, rather than going up and talking to a girl. He swallowed hard and straightened his costume as best he could. He wasn't sure which Vinaldi was which, so he offered the traditional boy-inspired opening.

"Hi."
Anne was in a spun sugar paradise born of the beautiful music and theater that swirled around still in her mind, and the vision - and eating!- of the most astounding sweets. She had now consumed more sugar than she had eaten all year, and was inclined to be giggly and rather hyperactive.

Sam's address suddenly brought her down to earth. She swallowed the ice cream she had been slowly savoring quite abruptly. He was bowing to them all; she reflexively curtseyed. Anne held her breath as he smiled politely at her and 'Mariella', and then set his attention (a bit nervously) on 'Kara' and 'Isabella'.

Anne let out her breath again. A surge of euphoria struck her and she bit down the giggle that came to her lips. Sam did not recognize her! Maestra Lia and the others had been absolutely correct: people saw what they expected to see. Dressed in an older child's gown and wearing a mask, to the sight of others Anne Radcliffe -the swashbuckler, the pirate- had become Violetta, the well-behaved youngest child of a duke and duchess; a young girl, a threat to no one at all. This was going to work. No one was going to discover who they really were.

Flushed with her triumphant realization, Anne yet had the sense to keep her wits about her. Sam might recognize her voice, so she needed to keep silent (not an easy thing for Anne). Smiling and nodding as the conversations fluttered around her, and taking another happy bite of ice cream, she looked around the room and saw an elegant Unicorn, clearly expecting a baby, looking at her. She gave the Unicorn woman an instinctive, tentative smile, and received a pleasant smile in return, and then their gazes separated.

Chiara's look became more reflective as the girl, the supposed Violetta, looked away. What was going on? Ah, now, the one who was surely supposed to be Mariella was giving a strawberry to Alcina, and Alcina was responding to the girl with genuine warmth and affection. Was this a plot of Alcina's then? Chiara looked narrowly at her old friend. Alcina looked anxious and drawn beneath her smile. Chiara, however, did not detect any suppressed excitement or energy that surely could be discerned by someone who knew her well.

Chiara sighed, almost inaudibly. She wished she could ask Alcina to take her into her confidence, but did not dare, not here. While Chiara and her husband were on excellent terms with the Doge and his family, it did not blind her to the fact that Nicolo Foscari was a schemer. While Chiara did not know exactly what had happened with Tomasso Vinaldi, she suspected Nicolo harboring simmering resentment at the very least. Of course Tomasso and Nicolo had never seen eye to eye anyway. But why have impersonators for the Vinaldi children?

It was a puzzle. But Chiara decided she would not burden her husband with it, not noticing that he also eyed the Vinaldis reflectively, particularly the tall, red-haired Isabella.

Gunner's Mate
May 28, 2013
284
CdeWinter on Feb 11, 2014 wrote:
[OOC: Lovely writing both Anne and Sam. I hope you don't mind if I change Sam's just a little bit, I think it would be more awkward for him if he walked up to all of the Vinaldi girls instead of just two of them.]

When Scarlet found the frosted table covered in the various ice creams she was actually estatic. As dignified as possible, she rapidly found her supposed sisters and dragged them over to the table, babbling merrily the entire way.

"Creme de glace mes soeurs. Zey 'ave so many types of ice creme 'ere. Some I 'ave not tasted for so long. Zey 'ave mint et chocolate, and all ze fruite flavoured variety as well."

Isabella was just handing a small bowl of orange flavoured ice cream to Mariella when she heard a familiar voice sounding behind her, turning around she saw it was the same lion masked boy she had met before. Calmly stepping up beside Violetta, Isabella greeted the boy again.

"Bon soir, uh, Monsieur Zrockmorton. It is a pleasure to meet you again."
Sam found pleasant conversation with girls was hard work. He smiled, tried to listen, talked a bit about himself (well as a Throckmorton anyway), and ate more sugary confections. In the end he decided that he'd rather be talking to his pirate-y friends - like Anne Radcliffe. They could talk about anything from ships, battles, plans, food, complain about their crew members, absolutely anything.

"I like your costume," he managed to splurt out during a lull in the action. Another winning observation was "Hey, how about this ice cream, delicious or what?" Why, oh why was talking to girls so doggone difficult?

Bonnie Anne, Sarah Steele, Gracie Conrad - talking to them was easy, it wasn't like they were actual girls. Just then he realized everyone was looking at him. Waiting for him to respond perhaps...

"Yes," he hazarded. The girls all giggled and fluttered themselves with their fans. "No?" he guessed again. More giggles.

"I zwas askeeng about your Lion costume," Isabella took pity.

"Oh!" Sam had the decency to blush. "I'm sorry, I was just a little distracted... by how pretty you look."

"Zank you."

Why, oh why was talking to girls so doggone difficult?

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
Just Add Bacon on Feb 12, 2014 wrote:
OOC: How perfectly ironic that orange is one of my least favorite flavors and as often as possible I try to avoid it. Though, Lizzy and Mariella are their own people and thus as far as I know of fully appreciate oranges. *Still grinning* Someday when we meet at a pirate101 convention, I will give you orange ice cream and return the flavor... I mean favor. Until then, I shall enjoy the virtual sweet and the comicality behind it.
~
Mariella gazed to the ice cream in wonderment, though Lizzy was only calculating. She never had sugar rushes, only sugar crashes. If she ate too much sugar, than she would be just about as useful as a passed out sailor with an empty bottle of yum in its hand.

I hope this doesn't have very much sugar, she thought, then took a daring bite. Lizzy was completely surprised to find herself salivate as she swallowed the chilly ice cream, her taste buds exploding with flavor and wanting more. Mariella put another bite into her mouth, and pressed her tongue against the roof of her mouth with the ice cream in between so as to spare her teeth from getting cold. It was absolutely amazing. Lizzy would really have to watch herself around these sweets.

Time for worry later. Lizzy barely had enough time to think this before she set down the already finished bowl of ice cream and hurried over to a table with sweetened strawberries with as much dignity as she could possibly muster... which wasn't much, as she practically tripped over her own feet in her rush.

Lizzy forcibly calmed herself as Mariella ate the strawberries in question. As she ate (slowly, mind you), Lizzy analyzed the situation. No armada soldiers in here. This was dangerous... any stray undercover pirate hoping to foil anyone's plans might be lulled into a false sense of security without the enemy here. Mariella finished off her final strawberry and walked back over to her parent, linking arms with her.

"How has your evening been so far, Mama?" Mariella asked with true interest, handing her mother a strawberry that she had saved. Lizzy eyed the strawberry somewhat greedily, but re-directed her attention back to her 'Mama'.
The formal smile that had been fixed on Alcina Vinaldi's face softened into a more genuine one as she looked at her 'Mariella'. "Ah, Mariella, you are always so considerate of your mother," she remarked tenderly, taking the strawberry from the girl's fingers. "But I have plenty, and I know how much you love strawberries," she added, smilingly popping the fruit into Lizzie's mouth.

"The opera was a splendid production, was it not? The chief composer, Marenzio of the Green Mountain, never fails to please. His music is always exquisite. And I thought several of the voices were particularly fine, with a very well-blended chorus and most beautiful scenery and effects." Alcina's genuine, warm words cooled to far more measured tones with her next comments. "And of course, it is always well to be reminded of the importance of the Law and Authority in Valencia."

Alcina hesitated. So far the evening was going well. The Doge had been cool but polite as always. He didn't seem to be marking them too strongly; indeed, she noticed he had asked Comtessa Beatrice Pergolesi to do the honors of breaking the subtlety. Alcina assumed he was doing so out of genuine respect for her years and station, since he surely could not imagine that he would gain any votes from that most opinionated old lady. He'd be more likely to get votes from Tomasso observing him do such an act.

Not that Tomasso was here. That was the point. Her husband had broken his cover in a desperate attempt to save lives, and Nicolo Foscari now knew him to be an active member of the Resistance. Oh, their estate and all their holdings had been well searched. The Doge had searched diligently for the smallest reason to arrest Tomasso's wife too, but there had been absolutely no evidence. And rightly too! Alcina had suspected much, but had not known. Tomasso's decision to keep such a secret from her had hurt, but she also knew that Tomasso had only wanted to protect her and the children. She could not fault him; she secretly sympathized with the Resistance also. But she had her works and charities; she had not planned on becoming involved.

Yet, now she was -- because of fragment of a message. "Vinaldis... price... trea..." The plural of that family name had caused such unease, along with the insistence that even the younger children should attend the Ball this evening. But it could be nothing. Why, that mysterious 'trea...' could be 'trees' or 'tea', though the thought that the Doge was contemplating discussions of gardens or tea prices was perhaps too absurd.

Alcina felt she had hesitated too long, and smiled again. "Such serious things to think of tonight! Soon the dancing will begin. Tou will love it, ma bella, even though this is your first grand affaire. You have had good dancing teachers, and your skills will bring honor to the House of Vinaldi."

Of course which skills those would be, would entirely depend on the Doge's actions...

Commodore
Sep 20, 2009
814
Sam Underhill on Feb 14, 2014 wrote:
Sam found pleasant conversation with girls was hard work. He smiled, tried to listen, talked a bit about himself (well as a Throckmorton anyway), and ate more sugary confections. In the end he decided that he'd rather be talking to his pirate-y friends - like Anne Radcliffe. They could talk about anything from ships, battles, plans, food, complain about their crew members, absolutely anything.

"I like your costume," he managed to splurt out during a lull in the action. Another winning observation was "Hey, how about this ice cream, delicious or what?" Why, oh why was talking to girls so doggone difficult?

Bonnie Anne, Sarah Steele, Gracie Conrad - talking to them was easy, it wasn't like they were actual girls. Just then he realized everyone was looking at him. Waiting for him to respond perhaps...

"Yes," he hazarded. The girls all giggled and fluttered themselves with their fans. "No?" he guessed again. More giggles.

"I zwas askeeng about your Lion costume," Isabella took pity.

"Oh!" Sam had the decency to blush. "I'm sorry, I was just a little distracted... by how pretty you look."

"Zank you."

Why, oh why was talking to girls so doggone difficult?
"Distracted by how pretty you look..."

Isabella spread her fan in front of her face as if hiding a blush, and smiled sideways to Violetta and giggled again.

I have never giggled so much before in my life, Scarlet thought, It's getting tiring, but how else do I respond, change the subject?

Isabella laughed lighltly behind her fan again, but then snapped it shut.
"Merci, Monsieur. I've 'eard zat zere are many pirates in Marleybone, 'ave you ever met one? I zink it would be absolutely 'orrible to meet a real pirate." Isabella replied.

I hope that will hold his attention for a bit, Scarlet thought while inwardly laughing at the irony of her question, But it is strange that a Marleybonean would be in Valencia during the ongoing war. Whatever he's here for, I doubt it's very honest.

Scarlet also knew that she could run out of conversation topics quickly, or at least topics that would be familiar to a wealthy Valencian girl. Certainly strategy, sword smithing, or an in depth knowledge of the flora and fauna of various spiral worlds would not be among those topics. She could also tell that Anne would not be much help as she seemed to playing Violetta as being very shy around this Throckmorton character. So, Scarlet caught Emma and Lizzie's eyes and quickly signaled to them with her fan.

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
Lorenzo Pulci, the Doge's master of ceremonies, was busy in the grand ball room, as he directed the taking down of the stage décor and apparatus, removal of the musicians to the gallery, the replacing of chairs to the sidelines, the lighting of beeswax candles in candelabras at side tables (for their fragrance as well as their light), and the chemical lighting of the candelabra above (a useful innovation by the Valencians, so now dancers did not have to have the bother of candlewax falling upon their coiffured heads or upon their elegant garments). He directed all the work with the efficiency of long practice, having people he trusted to do specific works, and the footmen who had been standing at attention during the opera to fetch and carry as needed.

Though it was strange, and somewhat unnerving, Lorenzo thought to himself, to see what looked like Armada soldiers stooping to do such humble tasks. Of course, the real Armada soldiers in the room remained where they were, on watch. Their obvious presence in these inner rooms was unusual. Did the Doge expect an attack? Was his master planning an attack, instead? Both possibilities made him profoundly uneasy, even though he trusted his master would do whatever was right. Also, violence would be a terrible end to all their hard work, and would ruin the reputation of the Ball and Lorenzo too. But surely it was all show, he consoled himself.

Still, he let his mind rest very briefly on the affaire all being over, and he taking a well earned rest with tea and cakes along with the housekeeper, the butler, and the head cook after the guests had gone home. It was a pleasant thought. But would only be pleasant in reality if all went well the rest of the evening

Gunner's Mate
May 28, 2013
284
CdeWinter on Feb 17, 2014 wrote:
"Distracted by how pretty you look..."

Isabella spread her fan in front of her face as if hiding a blush, and smiled sideways to Violetta and giggled again.

I have never giggled so much before in my life, Scarlet thought, It's getting tiring, but how else do I respond, change the subject?

Isabella laughed lighltly behind her fan again, but then snapped it shut.
"Merci, Monsieur. I've 'eard zat zere are many pirates in Marleybone, 'ave you ever met one? I zink it would be absolutely 'orrible to meet a real pirate." Isabella replied.

I hope that will hold his attention for a bit, Scarlet thought while inwardly laughing at the irony of her question, But it is strange that a Marleybonean would be in Valencia during the ongoing war. Whatever he's here for, I doubt it's very honest.

Scarlet also knew that she could run out of conversation topics quickly, or at least topics that would be familiar to a wealthy Valencian girl. Certainly strategy, sword smithing, or an in depth knowledge of the flora and fauna of various spiral worlds would not be among those topics. She could also tell that Anne would not be much help as she seemed to playing Violetta as being very shy around this Throckmorton character. So, Scarlet caught Emma and Lizzie's eyes and quickly signaled to them with her fan.
"Pirate? Ha, ha, I hope not. That would be dreadful, wouldn't it?"

Pirates indeed. Why had Isabella asked about pirates? Did he forget to not dress like a pirate? It was probably just some fanciful romantic notion that silly girls got from time to time. Like Mabel, the Governor of Port Regal's daughter. Or had she recognized him from somewhere? Was she planning on exposing him to the authorities? Sam quickly reviewed his escape options from the Palace, and they were none too promising. While Magdelena would be inconvenienced, the Unicorn could left behind and claim she had been used by that dread pirate to gain entry to the party. All this thought took less than a second.

"Don't be frightened, I'm sure no pirate would dare enter the Doge's Palace. Not on a night like this! Why look around you, you're surrounded by armed guards everywhere," here Sam gestured about the Atrium, "plus we have the security of knowing the Armada is close at hand. No pirates here, I assure you. This is most likely the safest place to be in all of Valencia this evening."

Little did Sam realize his words were having a less than cheering effect on the Vinaldi girls.