Roleplay - A Masked Ball in Padova

AuthorMessage
Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
Sam Underhill on Feb 13, 2014 wrote:
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."
The Cats merely sneered at Magdelena's brave attempt at a bluff. The first Cat opened his mouth to say something, but his words were intercepted by a quick call from one of the other Cats: "Hey, boss! I think I found it!"

Suddenly a faint glitter, like that of fine snow, appeared in the air. Magdelena at once realized something was wrong, and an instant later decided to hold her breath, but it was too late. She slumped, senseless, to the floor, not seeing the Cats did likewise.
*
Magdelena realized that someone was shaking her, and a bitter scent imbued her sensitive nostrils. A blurred realization of where she was and what she had been doing made her instinctively try to fend off whoever had their hands on her, but her hand was caught as she did so.

"Easy, Magdelena. I'm not here to hurt you." She forced her eyes to open, and after blinking several times saw before her a handsome black Unicorn flanked by two armed Guinea Pigs.

Michelangelo. She had mixed feelings about this.

Michelangelo looked concerned and irritated. "Enzio here," he indicated one of the Guinea Pig guards, "caught a glimpse of those Cats sneaking around and came to get me. Thank goodness Enzio and Roberto were the ones on duty, and they who noticed -- anyone else, and you would have ended up in the Doge's dungeons. Not a nice place for a gently bred lady," he added sternly.

"Not a nice place for anyone, I'm sure," Magdelena retorted with spirit.

Michelangelo's lips quirked in a reluctant smile, but swiftly frowned again. "I would love to know how the Cats got past all the guards, not to mention into this room." His frown deepened. "Did you set off the trap, or did they?"

Magdelena cast over in her mind what had happened. The recent past felt strangely blurry. "I... I don't know."

The black Unicorn snorted. "Typical."

Magdelena smarted at this contemptuous dismissal, all the more so because it was -perhaps- a tiny bit justified.

Michelangelo shook his head. "You should not be here, you know. You are indeed a very intelligent -and beautiful- woman, Magdelena, but you do not have a sufficiently suspicious nature." He smiled at her, and as usual she did not know whether to snap at him or smile in return.

"I am good at logic and deduction, however," she told him tartly. "So if you can leave me to my work?"

He nodded. "Yes, we are wasting time. The Cats can be held responsible for setting off the trap, though as soon as it is known they did so, others will come to investigate. We will hold these Cats as long was we can before notifying further authorities. Be quick. Don't take unnecessary risks." He smiled at her, and impulsively kissed her tenderly on the forehead. Then Michelangelo and the other guards began dragging the Cats from the room.

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
Sam Underhill on Feb 20, 2014 wrote:
"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.
Orlando Foscari managed to politely pry himself away from his admirers, wondering -a little sadly- if any of them admired him for any reason other than the wealth of his family and power of his father. He headed over to the Vinaldi girls who already had an admirer. This admirer was the human youth Orlando had met earlier, wearing a rather elegant Lion costume, although not at all biologically correct, Orlando automatically reflected.

Orlando nervously straightened his velvet doublet. It had been so very long since he had seen the whole Vinaldi family, and then he had been bothered by the young Antonio Vinaldi always wanting to follow him about, and the girls' silly giggling. But now the two older girls were practically grown up and they all looked so elegant and refined. He reflexively pulled on his doublet again, his nerves increasing. He hoped that they were past the giggling stage.

The girls' hair, adorned with flowers and little jewels to match their gowns, was particularly lovely, Orlando thought dreamily as he walked towards the little group. Two had golden hair that reflected the candlelight with its own color, and two had red hair that gleamed with a fiery copper glow. Isabella's hair was like sunset on a beautiful summer day, Orlando reflected poetically.

The Vinaldis and the human boy turned towards Orlando as he approached. Orlando bowed with practiced grace.

"Good evening, sir and ladies, I hope you are enjoying this evening. Ladies, the stars will gleam less brightly tonight knowing that your radiance eclipses their own."

Or, at least, that is what he had intended to say. Orlando's admiring eye caught the flash of Isabella's pale skin of her arm beneath the froth of her sleeve ruffles, and inadvertently blurted out:

"I've always wondered how humans kept warm - with so little hair, doesn't the cold bother you?"

Orlando flushed with chagrin. He could just imagine his childhood tutor rapping him across the knuckles for breaking so many social rules all at the same time. He valiantly mentally scrambled to rectify his error, hoping for some piece of polite wisdom to instantly come out of his brain.

"So... what do you think about squid?"

Gunner's Mate
May 28, 2013
284
Anne Radcliffe on Feb 21, 2014 wrote:
The Cats merely sneered at Magdelena's brave attempt at a bluff. The first Cat opened his mouth to say something, but his words were intercepted by a quick call from one of the other Cats: "Hey, boss! I think I found it!"

Suddenly a faint glitter, like that of fine snow, appeared in the air. Magdelena at once realized something was wrong, and an instant later decided to hold her breath, but it was too late. She slumped, senseless, to the floor, not seeing the Cats did likewise.
*
Magdelena realized that someone was shaking her, and a bitter scent imbued her sensitive nostrils. A blurred realization of where she was and what she had been doing made her instinctively try to fend off whoever had their hands on her, but her hand was caught as she did so.

"Easy, Magdelena. I'm not here to hurt you." She forced her eyes to open, and after blinking several times saw before her a handsome black Unicorn flanked by two armed Guinea Pigs.

Michelangelo. She had mixed feelings about this.

Michelangelo looked concerned and irritated. "Enzio here," he indicated one of the Guinea Pig guards, "caught a glimpse of those Cats sneaking around and came to get me. Thank goodness Enzio and Roberto were the ones on duty, and they who noticed -- anyone else, and you would have ended up in the Doge's dungeons. Not a nice place for a gently bred lady," he added sternly.

"Not a nice place for anyone, I'm sure," Magdelena retorted with spirit.

Michelangelo's lips quirked in a reluctant smile, but swiftly frowned again. "I would love to know how the Cats got past all the guards, not to mention into this room." His frown deepened. "Did you set off the trap, or did they?"

Magdelena cast over in her mind what had happened. The recent past felt strangely blurry. "I... I don't know."

The black Unicorn snorted. "Typical."

Magdelena smarted at this contemptuous dismissal, all the more so because it was -perhaps- a tiny bit justified.

Michelangelo shook his head. "You should not be here, you know. You are indeed a very intelligent -and beautiful- woman, Magdelena, but you do not have a sufficiently suspicious nature." He smiled at her, and as usual she did not know whether to snap at him or smile in return.

"I am good at logic and deduction, however," she told him tartly. "So if you can leave me to my work?"

He nodded. "Yes, we are wasting time. The Cats can be held responsible for setting off the trap, though as soon as it is known they did so, others will come to investigate. We will hold these Cats as long was we can before notifying further authorities. Be quick. Don't take unnecessary risks." He smiled at her, and impulsively kissed her tenderly on the forehead. Then Michelangelo and the other guards began dragging the Cats from the room.
By the time the Cats had been hauled away, Magdelena's head cleared sufficiently for coherent thought. Of all the people to 'rescue' her it had to be that overstuffed, know-it-all, overbearing, handsome... hold on, how did that thought get in there? She'd better find that notebook and the sooner the better.

She saw a red ledger book now lying at the floor. Evidently a Cat had pulled it out of the bookcase and set off the trap. That had been foolish, she reflected. Anyone should realize that with its pristine appearance, this could not be a true ledger. The true ledger would have a foxed cover and signs of heavy wear, proof of routine labor.

She stared at the bookcase. Hundreds of books of all sizes stared back at her - not many with helpful titles printed along the spine. Half heartedly Magdelena took a couple down to glance through. A treatise on how to be a prince and an astronomy primer were her rewards. She didn't have time to search the books. She needed to think.

The memory of her uncle's secretary with it's secret compartments came to mind. She sat behind the Doge's desk. Mindful of traps she tentatively tested the drawers. The central one was unlocked, but held only writing tools and paper. The right hand drawer was locked, but yielded to the gentle ministrations of her lock picking probes. Several ledgers resided therein and with high hopes she quickly looked through them - but none were the one she sought.

Looking for a secret compartment, to her surprise she located a small chamber just like her uncle's desk. Reaching in she pulled forth a small pouch. She sniffed at it, then her eyes widened as she realized the contents. Chocolate! And the Doge on that special diet his dottore placed him on. She replaced the pouch without sampling the contents.

She then turned her attention to the left drawer, which was also locked. This reminded to her to relock the right hand drawer first. Returning to the left side, a sharp sproing made her glad she had moved her fingers as a needle emerged, hoping to poke any uninvited guests. This raised her expectations as she opened it. Again, several volumes were within and she looked through them.

Jackpot! Here it was! The cover was green, but the contents were incriminating, surely more so when she fully decoded the cipher later. Magdelena replaced everything else as best she could and, oh so carefully, relocked the left drawer. She tucked the small volume into the pocket under her petticoats. Time to go. Just as she prepared to open the door and take her leave, it opened on it's own.

"Reggie!" she exclaimed, caught off guard.

"Actually, no." Reggie no longer looked nor sounded like a fool. "I figured if I could fool your boyfriend into thinking I was really a Throckmorton my cover would hold. Did you find it?"

"Find what?" It was the same bluff as with the Cats.

"Come now, dear, where's the music book?" And for all he looked incompetent before, Reggie now loomed dangerously ominous.

Commodore
Sep 20, 2009
814
Anne Radcliffe on Feb 24, 2014 wrote:
Orlando Foscari managed to politely pry himself away from his admirers, wondering -a little sadly- if any of them admired him for any reason other than the wealth of his family and power of his father. He headed over to the Vinaldi girls who already had an admirer. This admirer was the human youth Orlando had met earlier, wearing a rather elegant Lion costume, although not at all biologically correct, Orlando automatically reflected.

Orlando nervously straightened his velvet doublet. It had been so very long since he had seen the whole Vinaldi family, and then he had been bothered by the young Antonio Vinaldi always wanting to follow him about, and the girls' silly giggling. But now the two older girls were practically grown up and they all looked so elegant and refined. He reflexively pulled on his doublet again, his nerves increasing. He hoped that they were past the giggling stage.

The girls' hair, adorned with flowers and little jewels to match their gowns, was particularly lovely, Orlando thought dreamily as he walked towards the little group. Two had golden hair that reflected the candlelight with its own color, and two had red hair that gleamed with a fiery copper glow. Isabella's hair was like sunset on a beautiful summer day, Orlando reflected poetically.

The Vinaldis and the human boy turned towards Orlando as he approached. Orlando bowed with practiced grace.

"Good evening, sir and ladies, I hope you are enjoying this evening. Ladies, the stars will gleam less brightly tonight knowing that your radiance eclipses their own."

Or, at least, that is what he had intended to say. Orlando's admiring eye caught the flash of Isabella's pale skin of her arm beneath the froth of her sleeve ruffles, and inadvertently blurted out:

"I've always wondered how humans kept warm - with so little hair, doesn't the cold bother you?"

Orlando flushed with chagrin. He could just imagine his childhood tutor rapping him across the knuckles for breaking so many social rules all at the same time. He valiantly mentally scrambled to rectify his error, hoping for some piece of polite wisdom to instantly come out of his brain.

"So... what do you think about squid?"
Isabella didn't even get a chance to reply to Orlando's first strange comment, Scarlet heard the word squid and couldn't stop herself.

"I adore squids. I zink my favourite 'as to be ze Spiralis mysterium, which only lives along ze spiral zreads wiz in stormgates. 'Owever, I would love to see a live Giant Sky Squid as well."

Why, of all things did the Doge's son have to ask what the girls thought about squid? there was never any chance Scarlet could answer such a question as Isabella, but she might be able to recover as Isabella.

"I 'ave always found natural 'istory to be very intriguing. My tutor was chosen from Polaris specifically because of zis. Or, per'aps, I know about squid parce que Je suis une pirate [because I am a pirate]." Isabella said with a wide smile and an actual laugh.

As if anybody here could possibly think I'm a real pirate, dressed like this, Scarlet thought.

"I zink I 'ere ze musicians tuning again, I fear we will be expected to begin dancing soon".

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
CdeWinter on Feb 25, 2014 wrote:
Isabella didn't even get a chance to reply to Orlando's first strange comment, Scarlet heard the word squid and couldn't stop herself.

"I adore squids. I zink my favourite 'as to be ze Spiralis mysterium, which only lives along ze spiral zreads wiz in stormgates. 'Owever, I would love to see a live Giant Sky Squid as well."

Why, of all things did the Doge's son have to ask what the girls thought about squid? there was never any chance Scarlet could answer such a question as Isabella, but she might be able to recover as Isabella.

"I 'ave always found natural 'istory to be very intriguing. My tutor was chosen from Polaris specifically because of zis. Or, per'aps, I know about squid parce que Je suis une pirate [because I am a pirate]." Isabella said with a wide smile and an actual laugh.

As if anybody here could possibly think I'm a real pirate, dressed like this, Scarlet thought.

"I zink I 'ere ze musicians tuning again, I fear we will be expected to begin dancing soon".
Orlando smiled happily, his posture relaxed, and the brightness of his eyes and sweetness of his expression now banished the impression of an awkward youth, making him look quite handsome. He had never met a girl outside the University, a girl of Society, who possessed such a lively knowledge and obvious intelligence. And with such a sense of humor, too! Knowing about squid perhaps 'because she was a pirate' (Orlando understood sufficient Polarian to understand her commentary; he too had been educated in part by Polarian tutors).

Here was a good-natured, funny girl with a love of natural history - and she knew about squid! Perhaps they could become good friends. It was a very happy thought. Orlando had missed the vague but widely prevalent hints about the Duca Vinaldi being in deep disgrace, so was blissfully unaware that such a friendship would be likely doomed from the start.

The happy thoughts flashed swiftly through his brain as he eagerly responded to Isabella's words. "The Spiralis mysterium! Yes, I have read of its shining luminescence, glowing cobalt in the dark skies between worlds, a truly amazing creature! Sadly, I have never seen one myself -- travel beyond Valencia is strongly discouraged these days, you know," he added regretfully. "My favorite squid is a tiny one, Watasenia scintillans, another squid which makes its own light. It is very much smaller than Spiralis mysterium, being only half the size of your lovely hand. I have only seen this little charmer briefly in captivity. I understand it is a native of the distant realm of Skull Island. I wish I could go there some day and see these little fireflies of the deep skies, sparkling like stars beneath ones feet," Orlando added with a wistful air.

"But as it happens, much of the body of Giant Sky Squid was found on a Valencian beach about a year past, and was acquired for the University's Museo and Cabinet of Wonders. It has been preserved and we have learned a lot about this rare squid from it. If you like, I could take you to see it," Orlando looked shyly, hopefully at Isabella, forgetting in his enthusiasm that the University was presently closed. Remembering his manners, he bowed politely to the other girls. "And you all would be invited, of course, if you wished to come."

Orlando felt most encouraged; their expressions were interested rather than bored or dismayed. He would have loved to continue the discussion further, but Isabella's last words reminded him why he had approached the girls in the first place. "But, er, yes, the dancing. I was hoping you might favor me with a dance, Dona Isabella? Might you allow me to lead you out for one of the formal dances that open the ball, and perhaps, if you were willing, pencil me in your dance card for one of the country dances later?"

In truth, the girls had not yet been solicited for dances. But now that the Doge's son was seen with them, the Doge's disfavor was less certain, and other gentlemen were coming their way...

Gunner's Mate
May 28, 2013
284
Anne Radcliffe on Feb 27, 2014 wrote:
Orlando smiled happily, his posture relaxed, and the brightness of his eyes and sweetness of his expression now banished the impression of an awkward youth, making him look quite handsome. He had never met a girl outside the University, a girl of Society, who possessed such a lively knowledge and obvious intelligence. And with such a sense of humor, too! Knowing about squid perhaps 'because she was a pirate' (Orlando understood sufficient Polarian to understand her commentary; he too had been educated in part by Polarian tutors).

Here was a good-natured, funny girl with a love of natural history - and she knew about squid! Perhaps they could become good friends. It was a very happy thought. Orlando had missed the vague but widely prevalent hints about the Duca Vinaldi being in deep disgrace, so was blissfully unaware that such a friendship would be likely doomed from the start.

The happy thoughts flashed swiftly through his brain as he eagerly responded to Isabella's words. "The Spiralis mysterium! Yes, I have read of its shining luminescence, glowing cobalt in the dark skies between worlds, a truly amazing creature! Sadly, I have never seen one myself -- travel beyond Valencia is strongly discouraged these days, you know," he added regretfully. "My favorite squid is a tiny one, Watasenia scintillans, another squid which makes its own light. It is very much smaller than Spiralis mysterium, being only half the size of your lovely hand. I have only seen this little charmer briefly in captivity. I understand it is a native of the distant realm of Skull Island. I wish I could go there some day and see these little fireflies of the deep skies, sparkling like stars beneath ones feet," Orlando added with a wistful air.

"But as it happens, much of the body of Giant Sky Squid was found on a Valencian beach about a year past, and was acquired for the University's Museo and Cabinet of Wonders. It has been preserved and we have learned a lot about this rare squid from it. If you like, I could take you to see it," Orlando looked shyly, hopefully at Isabella, forgetting in his enthusiasm that the University was presently closed. Remembering his manners, he bowed politely to the other girls. "And you all would be invited, of course, if you wished to come."

Orlando felt most encouraged; their expressions were interested rather than bored or dismayed. He would have loved to continue the discussion further, but Isabella's last words reminded him why he had approached the girls in the first place. "But, er, yes, the dancing. I was hoping you might favor me with a dance, Dona Isabella? Might you allow me to lead you out for one of the formal dances that open the ball, and perhaps, if you were willing, pencil me in your dance card for one of the country dances later?"

In truth, the girls had not yet been solicited for dances. But now that the Doge's son was seen with them, the Doge's disfavor was less certain, and other gentlemen were coming their way...
Sam, for once, was caught completely speechless. Squid? Where in the spiral had the Doge's son learned his etiquette? Obviously not at the hands of a Resistance sympathizing Unicorn librarian/translator wanting a ride to the Ball. Suddenly along comes Orlando and everyone starts spouting off about squid of all things. And they did it intelligently! Perhaps it was true, he had to admit, that he himself had not talked of anything in which the brain actually needed to be engaged. So while he had considered the girls to be totally vapid, it was quite likely they thought of him as not terribly bright either. Now it seemed that brains could be lurking within these girls. Still, however accidentally achieved, being thought of as a ditz could possibly work out to Sam's advantage in the long run.

The master of ceremonies was returning to the banquet hall, and the social elite seemed to be selecting partners for the next installment of the program. A casual glance around revealed Magdelena had yet to return from wherever she had gotten off to. If she was absent much longer it would definitely be noticed by someone who kept track of those things. Speaking of which - he couldn't spot his personal spy either. Wonderful - was that a good thing or a bad thing? All this thinking was making poor Sam's head hurt.

Sam stepped back and bowed as Orlando took Isabella's arm to lead her back to the main ballroom. He returned his attentions to the remaining Vinaldi girls, what were their names again? Oh yes, Kara, Mariella, and Violetta. Overactingly chivalrous, Sam offered his arm, "May I have the pleasure?"

Captain
Mar 09, 2011
709
Sam Underhill on Feb 28, 2014 wrote:
Sam, for once, was caught completely speechless. Squid? Where in the spiral had the Doge's son learned his etiquette? Obviously not at the hands of a Resistance sympathizing Unicorn librarian/translator wanting a ride to the Ball. Suddenly along comes Orlando and everyone starts spouting off about squid of all things. And they did it intelligently! Perhaps it was true, he had to admit, that he himself had not talked of anything in which the brain actually needed to be engaged. So while he had considered the girls to be totally vapid, it was quite likely they thought of him as not terribly bright either. Now it seemed that brains could be lurking within these girls. Still, however accidentally achieved, being thought of as a ditz could possibly work out to Sam's advantage in the long run.

The master of ceremonies was returning to the banquet hall, and the social elite seemed to be selecting partners for the next installment of the program. A casual glance around revealed Magdelena had yet to return from wherever she had gotten off to. If she was absent much longer it would definitely be noticed by someone who kept track of those things. Speaking of which - he couldn't spot his personal spy either. Wonderful - was that a good thing or a bad thing? All this thinking was making poor Sam's head hurt.

Sam stepped back and bowed as Orlando took Isabella's arm to lead her back to the main ballroom. He returned his attentions to the remaining Vinaldi girls, what were their names again? Oh yes, Kara, Mariella, and Violetta. Overactingly chivalrous, Sam offered his arm, "May I have the pleasure?"
OOC: Sorry I haven't replied in a little bit... I'm thinking Mariella is going to be the one who ends up accepting Sam's offer, as Violetta seems to be a little shy around him, though I just want to make sure before I write. Is this the case, or will it be Kara with Mr. Throckmorton?

Also, Sam, wonderfully written. I had to suppress a snort of laughter when I read "Now it seemed that brains could be lurking within these girls." (Just to let you know, making me laugh at that time was comically dangerous, as I had been taking a sip of milk, and I'm not very fond of drink coming out of my nose)

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
Sam Underhill on Feb 28, 2014 wrote:
Sam, for once, was caught completely speechless. Squid? Where in the spiral had the Doge's son learned his etiquette? Obviously not at the hands of a Resistance sympathizing Unicorn librarian/translator wanting a ride to the Ball. Suddenly along comes Orlando and everyone starts spouting off about squid of all things. And they did it intelligently! Perhaps it was true, he had to admit, that he himself had not talked of anything in which the brain actually needed to be engaged. So while he had considered the girls to be totally vapid, it was quite likely they thought of him as not terribly bright either. Now it seemed that brains could be lurking within these girls. Still, however accidentally achieved, being thought of as a ditz could possibly work out to Sam's advantage in the long run.

The master of ceremonies was returning to the banquet hall, and the social elite seemed to be selecting partners for the next installment of the program. A casual glance around revealed Magdelena had yet to return from wherever she had gotten off to. If she was absent much longer it would definitely be noticed by someone who kept track of those things. Speaking of which - he couldn't spot his personal spy either. Wonderful - was that a good thing or a bad thing? All this thinking was making poor Sam's head hurt.

Sam stepped back and bowed as Orlando took Isabella's arm to lead her back to the main ballroom. He returned his attentions to the remaining Vinaldi girls, what were their names again? Oh yes, Kara, Mariella, and Violetta. Overactingly chivalrous, Sam offered his arm, "May I have the pleasure?"
'Violetta' hung back, seemingly shy. Anne's eyes darted to those of Elizabeth and Emma, quietly imploring one of them to take his arm. If they danced together, Sam would be sure to catch on and recognize her.

And what was Sam doing here, anyway? As far as she knew, he wasn't in on the Vinaldi plot. Why was he here, in dangerous Valencia of all places? Should she warn him something was up and demand to know what plots he was involved in?

As Anne pondered, her opportunity for questioning became temporarily lost. Sam did not yet realize, though the Vinaldi girls did, having been briefed on the Ball etiquette, that while he could request dances on their dance card for later, the first formal dances were for the aristocracy or highly renowned guests only. These dances were the most beautiful, elegant, and complex dances, and were essentially duets (or occasionally requiring several other partner teams) where the expected high level of education of the upper class of society was on view to all others. These dances were essentially tests of savoir faire and good breeding, and while the dancers were expected to enjoy themselves (or at least look like they were), even the youngest dancers were measured with a stern eye. The ladies had an advantage, however, that as they had to wait to be asked to dance, they could choose the dance they themselves knew the best.

Luckily, as a mere guest of not terribly significant parentage, Sam would be a spectator only for this portion of the program, and found himself politely shifted aside by gentlemen coming to ask the girls to dance in the formal portion of the Ball. Sam wondered where Magdelena was; if she was supposed to be dancing for show, would she be missed? He wished she would hurry up.

Chrissy also knew that she would not be dancing in this first segment of the Ball, which suited her just fine. She wanted to stay on watch. However, several gentlemen had come her way to request the favor of a dance later. Though she felt the need to keep wary and watchful, still was pleased to know that she would be dancing too. The excitement of the Ball was unmistakable and infectious. And she would be dancing with one gentlemen she had already met: the kindly Crab she had met on her first day in Padova, Signore Giuseppe Zipoli, member of the ruling Council of this island.

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
The Master of Ceremonies had come to shepherd them back to the Ballroom, now ready for the dancing to begin, though he assured them the banquet hall would remain open to refresh the dancers whenever they desired. As Chrissy looked again to her charges, her attention was suddenly arrested by the movement of the Lion-masked human youth with the girls. She frowned in concentration. Surely she knew that boy... who was it? She cast her mind over her large circle of friends, trying to think. One of her pirate friends, certainly... hmm, if only she could see him without the mask. Or perhaps just talking to him would trigger the memory of his voice. Chrissy had a good memory for such things...

Pirate Overlord
Mar 10, 2009
6079
Anne Radcliffe on Mar 3, 2014 wrote:
The Master of Ceremonies had come to shepherd them back to the Ballroom, now ready for the dancing to begin, though he assured them the banquet hall would remain open to refresh the dancers whenever they desired. As Chrissy looked again to her charges, her attention was suddenly arrested by the movement of the Lion-masked human youth with the girls. She frowned in concentration. Surely she knew that boy... who was it? She cast her mind over her large circle of friends, trying to think. One of her pirate friends, certainly... hmm, if only she could see him without the mask. Or perhaps just talking to him would trigger the memory of his voice. Chrissy had a good memory for such things...
Chrissy watched with a pang of sympathy as she saw the lion faced boy shunted aside by the aristocracy for the first dances were a privilege he did not have. She watched his behavior and was impressed how he hid what must be a humiliating moment.
She cast a quick query spell over him and no alarms were triggered so she decided to see who this was that was showing interest in her charges.
Having a bit of a flair for the dramatic she waited behind a curtain until he was looking the other way and quietly stepped beside and waited for him to glance back. Her quietness was rewarded with a VERY noticeable startle when he casually glanced back her way. He recovered quickly though and gave her an appraising gaze which didn't help much as she had her golden nightingale mask firmly in place.
"Well hello there" he said with a graceful and gentlemanly bow. "I must comment that your wings fly you as silent as an owl." Chrissy appreciated the subtle complement and replied " That is so kind of the King of Beasts to notice the traits of a mere songbird." She saw him studying her intently and she was returning the scrutiny in like fashion. She definitely knew that voice but amidst all the party noise and the filtering aspects of his mask she could not quite place it. She glanced up and saw that the girls were heading into the ballroom and she as much as she wanted to solve this mystery she had to push it aside and return to her charges. "If you would be so kind as to forgive my abrupt departure, I have duties to attend to. She gave a proper curtsy and before he could reply and delay her she slipped away and into the upper balcony of the ballroom where she could watch over her girls without being seen. She edged herself through the crowd of servants to a spot slightly behind a curtain, near the beautifully carved railing and quietly cast out her net of protection and sent queries out looking for any malevolent powers that might be floating about.

Gunner's Mate
May 28, 2013
284
Sam Underhill on Feb 25, 2014 wrote:
By the time the Cats had been hauled away, Magdelena's head cleared sufficiently for coherent thought. Of all the people to 'rescue' her it had to be that overstuffed, know-it-all, overbearing, handsome... hold on, how did that thought get in there? She'd better find that notebook and the sooner the better.

She saw a red ledger book now lying at the floor. Evidently a Cat had pulled it out of the bookcase and set off the trap. That had been foolish, she reflected. Anyone should realize that with its pristine appearance, this could not be a true ledger. The true ledger would have a foxed cover and signs of heavy wear, proof of routine labor.

She stared at the bookcase. Hundreds of books of all sizes stared back at her - not many with helpful titles printed along the spine. Half heartedly Magdelena took a couple down to glance through. A treatise on how to be a prince and an astronomy primer were her rewards. She didn't have time to search the books. She needed to think.

The memory of her uncle's secretary with it's secret compartments came to mind. She sat behind the Doge's desk. Mindful of traps she tentatively tested the drawers. The central one was unlocked, but held only writing tools and paper. The right hand drawer was locked, but yielded to the gentle ministrations of her lock picking probes. Several ledgers resided therein and with high hopes she quickly looked through them - but none were the one she sought.

Looking for a secret compartment, to her surprise she located a small chamber just like her uncle's desk. Reaching in she pulled forth a small pouch. She sniffed at it, then her eyes widened as she realized the contents. Chocolate! And the Doge on that special diet his dottore placed him on. She replaced the pouch without sampling the contents.

She then turned her attention to the left drawer, which was also locked. This reminded to her to relock the right hand drawer first. Returning to the left side, a sharp sproing made her glad she had moved her fingers as a needle emerged, hoping to poke any uninvited guests. This raised her expectations as she opened it. Again, several volumes were within and she looked through them.

Jackpot! Here it was! The cover was green, but the contents were incriminating, surely more so when she fully decoded the cipher later. Magdelena replaced everything else as best she could and, oh so carefully, relocked the left drawer. She tucked the small volume into the pocket under her petticoats. Time to go. Just as she prepared to open the door and take her leave, it opened on it's own.

"Reggie!" she exclaimed, caught off guard.

"Actually, no." Reggie no longer looked nor sounded like a fool. "I figured if I could fool your boyfriend into thinking I was really a Throckmorton my cover would hold. Did you find it?"

"Find what?" It was the same bluff as with the Cats.

"Come now, dear, where's the music book?" And for all he looked incompetent before, Reggie now loomed dangerously ominous.
Magdelena involuntarily stepped back in surprise. "Music book?"

Reggie smiled. Unless the Unicorn was a far better actress than he would be willing to give her credit for, she had no concept of what he was asking after. Should he question her as to her reasons for being in here? No, the Doge had too many secrets to spend that kind of time. Let her get away with whatever her plans were. "It seems we are at cross purposes, my dear lady. Pray forgi..." THWONK! The shabbily costumed faux-Throckmorton's eyes rolled up in his head. Then he dropped to his knees, and finally pitched forward onto the floor. Magdelena's eyes followed his progression, then looked up to see a slight Human blonde girl holding a serving tray as if brandishing a weapon. A large dent now occupied the center spot.

"Excuse me, was this man bothering you?" she asked sweetly.

"Why yes, yes he was," Magedelena answered. "Perhaps I should call the authorities to detain him."

"An excellent idea. By the by, the dancing is about to begin. Your boyfriend's probably looking for you. If not, he's probably looking for me. If not that either, then he's probably stuffing his face with more sweets."

"You know Sam?"

"We've met."

"Who are you?"

"Ah, that's a longish story for another time. I do hope we meet under more pleasant circumstances later."

"At least let me say, thank you."

The young girl's broad smile was unfeigned. She curtsied and responded, "You're welcome. But you have to go - and so do I." With that she stepped back out in the hallway and disappeared.

Magdelena took a deep breath. She had to get out of the Doge's library before someone else unexpectedly appeared to startle her. She gave the notebook hidden beneath her skirts a reassuring pat, the exited the library. In her excitement she hadn't noticed which way the girl had gone. She left the door open behind her and went down the hallway to discover Michelangelo standing nonchalantly at the landing. He was studying a landscape on the wall, giving her opportunity to pass by without being 'seen'. So he was taken completely by surprise when he felt a soft voice whisper in his ear. "I think you should take another look in the Doge's library."

Leaving it at that, Magdelena then proceeded down the staircase, breezing past the pair of Guinea Pigs who had returned to their posts, and continued on back to the main floor. As she had been warned to expect the dancing was almost ready to begin as the Aristocracy took their places for the formal introductions. The Master of Ceremonies was clamoring for attention. Magdelena looked about and spotted Sam still in the Atrium. Was he still eating? No, he was speaking to yet another Human girl... wait a minute... wasn't that the chaperone for the Vinaldi girls?

Despite hurrying over, Magdelena was too late to overhear anything before the Human left. But she did feel her heart give a glad leap as Sam gave her a dazzling smile as he saw her approach.

Petty Officer
Oct 29, 2012
56
Anne Radcliffe on Feb 1, 2014 wrote:
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?
OOC: I'm sorry for the late post everyone! I hope this doesn't interfere with the storyline in anyway. Also, my last post in role-play costume party might have come across a little bit too harshly and I apologize for this, Anne. I hope there are no hard feelings.

Alura glanced uneasily around the room, making sure she always had those Armada soldiers in view. Being around them made her skin crawl; it was so weird! How could Evalina, Katerina, and Beatrice seem so comfortable around the hollow men? Although she knew that the Armada soldiers would help her protect Beatrice; she felt uneasy. '' Focus on the task at hand; don't let them bother you...'' she said silently to herself.'' You must make sure the grandmother is safe at all costs! '' Alura surveyed the room once more; scanning for anything unusual or someone watching them. Nothing was too troubling... for now.

Gunner's Mate
May 28, 2013
284
Chrissy Th'Blesser on Mar 4, 2014 wrote:
Chrissy watched with a pang of sympathy as she saw the lion faced boy shunted aside by the aristocracy for the first dances were a privilege he did not have. She watched his behavior and was impressed how he hid what must be a humiliating moment.
She cast a quick query spell over him and no alarms were triggered so she decided to see who this was that was showing interest in her charges.
Having a bit of a flair for the dramatic she waited behind a curtain until he was looking the other way and quietly stepped beside and waited for him to glance back. Her quietness was rewarded with a VERY noticeable startle when he casually glanced back her way. He recovered quickly though and gave her an appraising gaze which didn't help much as she had her golden nightingale mask firmly in place.
"Well hello there" he said with a graceful and gentlemanly bow. "I must comment that your wings fly you as silent as an owl." Chrissy appreciated the subtle complement and replied " That is so kind of the King of Beasts to notice the traits of a mere songbird." She saw him studying her intently and she was returning the scrutiny in like fashion. She definitely knew that voice but amidst all the party noise and the filtering aspects of his mask she could not quite place it. She glanced up and saw that the girls were heading into the ballroom and she as much as she wanted to solve this mystery she had to push it aside and return to her charges. "If you would be so kind as to forgive my abrupt departure, I have duties to attend to. She gave a proper curtsy and before he could reply and delay her she slipped away and into the upper balcony of the ballroom where she could watch over her girls without being seen. She edged herself through the crowd of servants to a spot slightly behind a curtain, near the beautifully carved railing and quietly cast out her net of protection and sent queries out looking for any malevolent powers that might be floating about.
Sam's eyes followed the Nightingale as she followed her charges. Something about her was familiar. That, or this place was giving him the willies. Ever since he and Magdelena had entered the palace he had felt as if someone was always watching - which more than likely was true. Who knew how many observers - paid and unpaid - were watching, well, everyone. Nonetheless a healthy dose of paranoia never hurt anyone. More or less.

Sam smiled as he saw his Unicorn friend approach, although he hid his sigh of relief. At least she hadn't been captured or suffered any unforeseen consequences. Maybe now they could get out of here under some pretext or another. Maybe food poisoning? No, that might lead to other unwanted inquiries. He'd just have to tough it out.

"I saved you a sweet, my sweet," he wittily pronounced as he proferred a sculpted marzipan rose to her. Magdelena curtisied and accepted the morsel, signalling with her fan, Careful, we are being watched.

"I see you have found another admirer, mio amor. The lovely songbird seemed quite taken with you. I do hope you made a date with her for a dance later. It must be a blessing to..."

Sam didn't hear anything further of Magdelena's commentary. CHRISSY! The voice, the mannerism, what in the Spiral was Chrissy of all people doing here? And as the chaperone for a gaggle of silly Human girls? Squid! Not silly girls after all. Maybe they were... someone else - just like he was! Pieces of an unseen puzzle began forming in Sam's mind. Had she recognized him? Was she giving him some kind of warning? Suddenly things were taking an even more sinister aura. He began to sense he was being used - not by Magdelena, surely she was a pawn as well - but someone was running a deep game all around him. He turned to look again at the nightingale, but she had already passed beyond view.

"... and after all that we will be dancing the one we practiced, remember? I do hope you haven't forgotten... Sam? Sam?"

"It's alright," Sam reassured her, coming back to his senses. "Too much sugar, I guess. I take it you found the gingerbread?" This was the code word they had developed for Magdelena's quest.

"Yes, it was delicious." Her look told him all was well. It would better he not find out about other things until afterwards, boys could be so overprotective. She took his arm and led him to the main room to watch the initial bouts of dancing.

"I think we should keep our eyes open," Sam cautioned, "something tells me this evening has only just begun."

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
Ruthless Alura Bri... on Mar 4, 2014 wrote:
OOC: I'm sorry for the late post everyone! I hope this doesn't interfere with the storyline in anyway. Also, my last post in role-play costume party might have come across a little bit too harshly and I apologize for this, Anne. I hope there are no hard feelings.

Alura glanced uneasily around the room, making sure she always had those Armada soldiers in view. Being around them made her skin crawl; it was so weird! How could Evalina, Katerina, and Beatrice seem so comfortable around the hollow men? Although she knew that the Armada soldiers would help her protect Beatrice; she felt uneasy. '' Focus on the task at hand; don't let them bother you...'' she said silently to herself.'' You must make sure the grandmother is safe at all costs! '' Alura surveyed the room once more; scanning for anything unusual or someone watching them. Nothing was too troubling... for now.
OOC: You're perfectly all right, Alura - there's been a lot of exposition about the Ball but little action, so you haven't missed anything. You are all good. A bit more exposition coming, then the action should happen (other than the nice action already of watching an opera, eating sweets, and dancing)

And 'Claire', what have you decided to do? Are you going to take up Benvolio Ariosto's offer or refuse it? Very important for what is going to happen in a bit...

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
Anne Radcliffe on Mar 3, 2014 wrote:
The Master of Ceremonies had come to shepherd them back to the Ballroom, now ready for the dancing to begin, though he assured them the banquet hall would remain open to refresh the dancers whenever they desired. As Chrissy looked again to her charges, her attention was suddenly arrested by the movement of the Lion-masked human youth with the girls. She frowned in concentration. Surely she knew that boy... who was it? She cast her mind over her large circle of friends, trying to think. One of her pirate friends, certainly... hmm, if only she could see him without the mask. Or perhaps just talking to him would trigger the memory of his voice. Chrissy had a good memory for such things...
For once, Duchessa Chiara Bembo felt out of charity with her beloved husband. Frankly, she was envious that he could dance, but she was too heavy with child to do so herself. She looked wistfully at him as he finished up a graceful basse danse with another lady, but as he straightened from his bow to his partner, he looked at her and gave a sweet smile. Chiara felt much better, and watched the other dancers with more equanimity.

The young imposters for the Vinaldi children were dancing well, she observed. The boy, Antonio supposedly, had some less-than-graceful movements, but the lady he danced with was considerably older and taller, and such awkwardness could be put down to nerves. The girls were doing remarkably well, dancing as if they had been taught the court dances as toddlers. Chiara's lips curved in an amused smile. That little one, supposedly Violetta, had chosen a minuet, and danced the complex patterns and graceful arm movements as if born to dance it. The girl's smile had something of cheekiness to it; Chiara suspected she was showing off. Rather risky, perhaps. But surely they were all risking much playing the roles of imposters. Chiara wanted to know why. But it was unlikely she would find out -- tonight, anyway. She planned to demand answers of Alcina as soon as reasonably possible.

Chiara sensed someone approaching and saw the slim, elegant form of Dona Elena Cornaro. The other Unicorn nodded with her customary cool politeness.

"The dancing is lovely tonight, don't you think?" Naturally, Chiara agreed, and the two women watched several other dancers, making some light commentary on their skill.

Then Dona Elena frowned as 'Kara' danced with a handsome young Unicorn. "Strange. That seems to be Kara Vinaldi, but it doesn't really look like her." Elena scanned the crowd. "And her sister, Isabella... they both have attended lectures at the University, but they don't look as I remember them."

"They do look different," Chiara agreed calmly. "With their hair put up and dyed for the occasion, and their fine clothes, they look so much like young ladies."

"Instead of like students," Elena added with dry humor.

Any further reflection was interrupted by Giovanni Bembo arriving with a goblet of cobalt-colored Valencian glass in hand. "I thought you might want some lemonade, my love," he said to his wife.

Chiara smiled at him, now fully in charity with her husband once again.

Commodore
Sep 20, 2009
814
OOC: I thought I should say something before Sam is revealed to the pirate girls. In my mind, tracking the chronology of these roleplays, I don't think Sam and Scarlet have actually met yet. This would be the first time in the roleplays that they meet. Therefore, right now, Scarlet does not have any reason to think that Sam is anybody other than who he says he is. Which is why she's suspicious of a marleybonian in valencia during the war. However, once she learns that Anne and the others know him and trust him, she will also trust him.

Gunner's Mate
May 28, 2013
284
OOC: Anne is experiencing technical difficulties; should be back in a few days or so. In the meantime, enjoy music and dancing without any evil plots that might be lurking about...

And very good points, Scarlet... Anne would 'Yar' your post if she could, but she will have to wait until she comes back...

First Mate
Oct 27, 2009
459
A tall and elegantly dressed unicorn officer stationed near the door received a message from a courier. He read it casually, concealing any hint at the contents of the message, then walked hastily across the room towards the Doge. Duchessa Chiara Bembo observed his actions and was close enough to overhear him tell the Doge something about an explosion at the fortress and a disruption in the Bakery District. "Not now. Not here. Let the general handle it. He knows what to do about these things. Have him report to me later." The Doge waved him away. The officer found General Leonarde, a handsome black unicorn if ever there was one, and the two of them left the room.

First Mate
Oct 27, 2009
459
OOC: I'd posted about the disturbance in the bakery district before Sam's post about Anne's tech problems was up. It was not meant to be a major evil plot though, so it's all good. Stuff is always coming up and news is often being brought to the Doge. He's a smart political figure who likes to know what is going on in his city, but also expects his underlings to properly handle stuff that comes up when he is busy with a major political event. A pie fight in Padova ought not call for his instant attention. Not even a large one, with the Resistance possibly involved. Not yet anyway.

Gunner's Mate
Apr 13, 2010
224
"Keep your voices down!" The musicians start playing. Suddenly, the chandelier shakes. They play the 'Phantom of the Opera' song. (In case you don't know it's a play, originally a book called 'Fantom of the Opera' as the author was French. The high school near me just played it.) A boy in a half-mask suddenly appears and, with a motion of his hand, caused the chandelier to fall. The boy disappears, and seemingly teleports to the ceiling. (The 'Phantom' was on some kind of rafters.) "I leave your with this prophecy: Acht days I leave you. Nicht zu Hause we are. Find the sechs jewels, and return them here. Fail, and Guten Abend. Bring the jewels, and I will tell more."

(OOC: Who is this Phantom?! Here's a hint. The foreign words are German.)

Gunner's Mate
Oct 11, 2012
283
(My most sincere apologies for such a late post, but I need to catch up my characters)

Omar had the first few dances off since the Nobility Dances were played by the particularly talented musicians. As he wandered with Aloetti after the play, he saw no sign of his comrades. then again, he was also savoring the sweets and (then again, who in their right mind would turn down a Laduree macaron?). He did spot the Vinaldi girls talking with the Doge's son and another fellow he hadn't seen. When the party moved back to the ballroom, he heard an echo in the back of his mind.
"CHRISSY!"
The Spirit-Caller nearly stopped dead in his tracks. Another pirate?! Good grief, Shakespearean Comedies were simpler than this masquerade. And were only in the first few acts! He was going to confront the youth, but he heard two very familiar voices in the shadows of an alcove.
"Personally I enjoy opera, but this production was terrible!"
"Agreed.I've been in a little propaganda, but that thing was almost as bad as a dues ex machina."
"What do you mean?" added in Omar "The settings were well made, the actors are very good, the costumes are just beautiful, and then the Music! Or are you talking about a certain twist that soured the finale to no small extent? Maria. Hobbes."
"Shh!" hissed Maria, her dress now a deep violet "You know better than I do about the delicacy of our disguise!"
"Sorry Imps." reassured Fonte "Maria has been gossiping with some of the other young ladies."
"Ah Seems you finally got fed up with hearing the latest rumors." snickered Omar as Maria scowled Alexander silent.
"It's not that," she replied "it's keeping up the character of a gossiping young Lady. It's fun for the first hour or so, but since we started helping Avery, it has lost some of its luster. Plus you have to hear a ship full of useless things to get any good information. By the way, why is there so many pirates here?"
"Don't know" Omar said before going off to confront Sam "Well, talk soon."

Commodore
Sep 20, 2009
814
Following the formal opening dances, Scarlet managed to take a step back and catch her breath. The dancing had been fun and she felt that she hadn't made any mis-steps. Although her swashbuckling skills had helped a lot in learning the various dances. But she couldn't really watch for danger properly while dancing. Sure, she could just wait for something to happen and then react, but Scarlet really preferred to always know, or at least have a pretty good idea of what was happening before hand.

For instance, the surrounding Armada troopers. Most were clearly just footmen, the unicorn footmen were the easyiest to spot behind their modified masks. But even the humans were easy to tell from the real clockworks. They simply moved too much, even the better ones shifted their weight from foot to the other occasionally. Scarlet was sure she had even seen one clockwork sneeze. But, then near the exits and in a few other places were the perfect statues of real Armada clockworks, the ones that never fidgited, sneezed or even breathed. At least there weren't that many of those ones.

And then there was that Throckmorton. Why was a Marleybonian waltzing around Valencia practically screaming "Pip pip, time for tea with the Queen eh."? Valencia and Marleybone are at war. Throckmorton had to be a Valencian sympathizer at the very least. In Scarlet's mind that made Throckmorton a traitor. She had to do something about that.

Glancing up at the still firmly attached and very lovely chandelier, Scarlet quickly found Chrissy standing at the side of the room with a few other servants.

Isabella quietly took Lucia by the arm and began walking back towards the spot where her mother and sisters were standing.

"Lucia, I 'ope some of these gentlemen 'ave asked you to dance. You do dance so well. In fact, I zought I saw zat Monsieur Zrockmorton asking you."

OOC: Scarlet is asking Chrissy to watch Sam for her, but I'm running out of room to write

Pirate Overlord
Mar 10, 2009
6079
CdeWinter on Mar 22, 2014 wrote:
Following the formal opening dances, Scarlet managed to take a step back and catch her breath. The dancing had been fun and she felt that she hadn't made any mis-steps. Although her swashbuckling skills had helped a lot in learning the various dances. But she couldn't really watch for danger properly while dancing. Sure, she could just wait for something to happen and then react, but Scarlet really preferred to always know, or at least have a pretty good idea of what was happening before hand.

For instance, the surrounding Armada troopers. Most were clearly just footmen, the unicorn footmen were the easyiest to spot behind their modified masks. But even the humans were easy to tell from the real clockworks. They simply moved too much, even the better ones shifted their weight from foot to the other occasionally. Scarlet was sure she had even seen one clockwork sneeze. But, then near the exits and in a few other places were the perfect statues of real Armada clockworks, the ones that never fidgited, sneezed or even breathed. At least there weren't that many of those ones.

And then there was that Throckmorton. Why was a Marleybonian waltzing around Valencia practically screaming "Pip pip, time for tea with the Queen eh."? Valencia and Marleybone are at war. Throckmorton had to be a Valencian sympathizer at the very least. In Scarlet's mind that made Throckmorton a traitor. She had to do something about that.

Glancing up at the still firmly attached and very lovely chandelier, Scarlet quickly found Chrissy standing at the side of the room with a few other servants.

Isabella quietly took Lucia by the arm and began walking back towards the spot where her mother and sisters were standing.

"Lucia, I 'ope some of these gentlemen 'ave asked you to dance. You do dance so well. In fact, I zought I saw zat Monsieur Zrockmorton asking you."

OOC: Scarlet is asking Chrissy to watch Sam for her, but I'm running out of room to write
Just when Chrissy/Lucia got settled into her chosen vantage point she felt more that heard in her head "CHRISSY" in the lion masked boy's voice and visibly jumped. She turned around and was stunned to see him still talking to other guests. She shook her head wondering what on earth had just happened and replayed the call in her memory and realized that the timber was off in her recollection so she realized that this must be an internal witchdoctory hearing that she hadn't been aware she even had. Now that Omar had released her inborn gifts she was discovering, on the fly, that she had abilities that were running on instinct. She focused her thoughts on that one word and suddenly she got a mental picture of Sam of all people. "Sam?" she thought. "What on earth does he have to do with this." She turned back to the lion masked boy and defocused her eyes and just looked at his body shape and mannerisms and then something clicked. She was startled that she actually recognized him as Sam. "Why didn't I see that before?" she thought. The more she looked at him as he walked with his group to the dance area the more her heart told her "Yup it's Sam" She started pondering why he would even be here. She hadn't seen him since that great fleet rescue of him months ago and she tried to imagine what could have happened to him that landed him here, on this night, escorting the gentry of Valencia at a masked ball. As she mulled this over in her mind her trusted friend Scarlet slipped in beside her and while chatting gaily about dancing and prompting her to dance she firmly guided her away from her vantage point and brought her right into the thick of the dancers. Chrissy watched Scarlet's face intently as she rambled on about dancing and with a flip of her wrist Scarlet's fan pointed directly at Sam and when Scarlet said "Monsieur Zrockmorton" her fan very plainly said "Possible danger, stay alert" Thinking quickly she assured her that yes he had signed her card and a dance was reserved for him. Chrissy then tried to guess what possible thing Scarlet could be worried about from Good Ol' Sam. She thought back to the big rescue and realized that it was possible that Scarlet and Sam had not had a chance to meet. Sam had been whisked off to be nursed back to health before Scarlet's crew had finished leaving the nasty surprises for the offending Armada ship. When Scarlet boarded Chrissy's ship Sam had long gone. She wanted to query her and explain about how well she knew him but before she could catch her eye the 'Knowings' alarm started going off in her head. The trouble was it was so foreign and faint this time that even with her new powers she was not even close to be proficient in them and had no idea how to find tune her reception. She only knew that it was not friendly. She sighed in frustration and thought "Like I need witchdoctoring to realize that evil is afoot in here. This was obvious to all but the tittering gentry, and then even a good deal of those knew.

Petty Officer
May 30, 2013
97
Anne Radcliffe on Mar 8, 2014 wrote:
OOC: You're perfectly all right, Alura - there's been a lot of exposition about the Ball but little action, so you haven't missed anything. You are all good. A bit more exposition coming, then the action should happen (other than the nice action already of watching an opera, eating sweets, and dancing)

And 'Claire', what have you decided to do? Are you going to take up Benvolio Ariosto's offer or refuse it? Very important for what is going to happen in a bit...
OOC: Ack! I'm SOOOOO sorry! I took up this dare that required me to write, like, 1000 words a day, for a month. So, when I finally finish the word goal for the day, the last thing I want to do is write a roleplay! PLEASE forgive this ignorant pirate! I'll write it now...

Claire set her jaw and looked straight ahead, weighing her options. Mainly she saw it as, Do Benvolio's Offer and Live to See Tomorrow, or Die. Pretty straightforeword. Claire cuncluded, But there must be a catch.

But try as she might, Claire couldn't see it. A sharp yank from Benvolio brought her to reality.

"Well?" Benvolio hissed. "Have you decided?"

Claire looked him in his black, beady eye, and said seven simple words.

"I have decided, and I choose yes."

Gunner's Mate
May 28, 2013
284
Sam Underhill on Mar 8, 2014 wrote:
Sam's eyes followed the Nightingale as she followed her charges. Something about her was familiar. That, or this place was giving him the willies. Ever since he and Magdelena had entered the palace he had felt as if someone was always watching - which more than likely was true. Who knew how many observers - paid and unpaid - were watching, well, everyone. Nonetheless a healthy dose of paranoia never hurt anyone. More or less.

Sam smiled as he saw his Unicorn friend approach, although he hid his sigh of relief. At least she hadn't been captured or suffered any unforeseen consequences. Maybe now they could get out of here under some pretext or another. Maybe food poisoning? No, that might lead to other unwanted inquiries. He'd just have to tough it out.

"I saved you a sweet, my sweet," he wittily pronounced as he proferred a sculpted marzipan rose to her. Magdelena curtisied and accepted the morsel, signalling with her fan, Careful, we are being watched.

"I see you have found another admirer, mio amor. The lovely songbird seemed quite taken with you. I do hope you made a date with her for a dance later. It must be a blessing to..."

Sam didn't hear anything further of Magdelena's commentary. CHRISSY! The voice, the mannerism, what in the Spiral was Chrissy of all people doing here? And as the chaperone for a gaggle of silly Human girls? Squid! Not silly girls after all. Maybe they were... someone else - just like he was! Pieces of an unseen puzzle began forming in Sam's mind. Had she recognized him? Was she giving him some kind of warning? Suddenly things were taking an even more sinister aura. He began to sense he was being used - not by Magdelena, surely she was a pawn as well - but someone was running a deep game all around him. He turned to look again at the nightingale, but she had already passed beyond view.

"... and after all that we will be dancing the one we practiced, remember? I do hope you haven't forgotten... Sam? Sam?"

"It's alright," Sam reassured her, coming back to his senses. "Too much sugar, I guess. I take it you found the gingerbread?" This was the code word they had developed for Magdelena's quest.

"Yes, it was delicious." Her look told him all was well. It would better he not find out about other things until afterwards, boys could be so overprotective. She took his arm and led him to the main room to watch the initial bouts of dancing.

"I think we should keep our eyes open," Sam cautioned, "something tells me this evening has only just begun."
Sam was already regretting not filling his pockets again. It had been quite a while now since solid food had registered in his stomach. Sweets were just straw food, tasty but not substantial. The mingling, the opera, more mingling, and now dance watching were taking a sorry toll on his need to feed.

Wallowing in self pity Sam scarce noticed his hand being taken to lead him out for the mandatory dance. Magdelena smiled at him, which reminded him he should smile back. Walking gracefully from the sidelines they took up positions in the center of the floor, side by side. Several other couples were scattered about the open room. Sam’s right hand, holding her left, began to grow sweaty. The opening chord struck by the small orchestra in the balcony, while meant to inform the dancers to prepare themselves, sounded to Sam like a fanfare of doom. It was time for Amoroso.
Manfully, Sam swallowed his fear and undertook the courtly bow he had practiced unceasingly aboard the Black Star. It was called a Reverenza. Keeping his back straight the entire time, Sam moved his left foot back slightly and knelt (not even half way) on his left knee, then rose back to his original position.. Dropping as far as the floor would have been a serious faux pas. All this took just four beats of music. By his side, Magdelena matched his actions. So far, so good, but the true dance had not even begun.

Traveling about the hall, hand in hand, together they danced twelve pive, small skipping steps - left, right, left, then right, left, right. Fortunately Sam had no problem counting to twelve. But next was the part that worried Sam the most, for he had to solo. 'The music will tell you what to do,' Magdelena had reassured him time after time, but the makeshift music they had practiced with on the ship was nothing like the real thing here and now. Add to that the criticizing eyes watching the whole time, judging. Being able to dance well was equally important as statecraft in many cultures. Sam was determined not to let anyone down. He had heard rumors that the Queen of Marleybone once appointed a Cabinet Minister post based on how well he had danced ‘La Volta’ with her, rather than any sparkling brilliance on his part as a politician.

(Continued...)