Roleplay - A Masked Ball in Padova

AuthorMessage
Gunner's Mate
Apr 13, 2010
224
Anne Radcliffe on Apr 3, 2014 wrote:
As Isabella returned from her latest dance, an Armada soldier stepped forth from his place at the wall. An instant later, Scarlet's heart rate began to resume its normal pulse as she realized this was one of the fake soldiers, merely a footman -- like Jack had been disguised-- playing the role expected of them.

"I was given this for you, ma dona." The footman proffered a sealed note as he bowed politely.

Scarlet took the note. "Who gave this to you?" she inquired.

"I do not know, ma dona. Another footman gave me this, but I did not recognize his voice, and with the masks we wear tonight I could not identify him." Scarlet thanked him, and he bowed in dismissal, returning to his place.

Scarlet examined the note. It was of high quality paper, but sealed with merely a plain blob of sealing wax. She broke it open and read:

"I must discuss something of Great Importance with you. Meet me in the North Antechamber adjacent to the Ballroom. G."

Scarlet frowned. The antechambers right of the ballroom were not off limits; she would be in no danger of being caught out in wrongdoing just by entering them. But, was this some sort of trap?

And who was this 'G'?
(I'm hoping for once somebody else but me gets in on the Phantom plot.)

"Grace, vhere vare you?" "Oh, poor leetle Grace. I do hope she comez back alright." "Would you like a drink, sir?" "Vater, please."

Commodore
Sep 20, 2009
814
GBalance101 on Apr 4, 2014 wrote:
(I'm hoping for once somebody else but me gets in on the Phantom plot.)

"Grace, vhere vare you?" "Oh, poor leetle Grace. I do hope she comez back alright." "Would you like a drink, sir?" "Vater, please."
sry GBalance, we may not for a while. To be honest, that's not the plot line we are currently following, however perhaps when things get interesting, and our characters no longer need to pretend that they aren't pirates, something will happen.

Commodore
Sep 20, 2009
814
Anne Radcliffe on Apr 3, 2014 wrote:
As Isabella returned from her latest dance, an Armada soldier stepped forth from his place at the wall. An instant later, Scarlet's heart rate began to resume its normal pulse as she realized this was one of the fake soldiers, merely a footman -- like Jack had been disguised-- playing the role expected of them.

"I was given this for you, ma dona." The footman proffered a sealed note as he bowed politely.

Scarlet took the note. "Who gave this to you?" she inquired.

"I do not know, ma dona. Another footman gave me this, but I did not recognize his voice, and with the masks we wear tonight I could not identify him." Scarlet thanked him, and he bowed in dismissal, returning to his place.

Scarlet examined the note. It was of high quality paper, but sealed with merely a plain blob of sealing wax. She broke it open and read:

"I must discuss something of Great Importance with you. Meet me in the North Antechamber adjacent to the Ballroom. G."

Scarlet frowned. The antechambers right of the ballroom were not off limits; she would be in no danger of being caught out in wrongdoing just by entering them. But, was this some sort of trap?

And who was this 'G'?
[OOC: Very well done Anne, I think I know who G is, and I think Scarlet will figure it out as well.]

Scarlet looked at the note in her hand and thought. This could be a trap, a way for the Doge to quietly have the Vinaldi girls disappear one at a time. But she wasn’t sure, the antechamber, while probably being less full than the ballroom, was also more than likely not empty. And the Dog could easily invite the entire Vinaldi family for a private meeting and have them all arrested at once. No, this note came from someone trying to hide his identity, which suggested this could be someone that Isabella knew, or could be expected to know.

G”, Scarlet wracked her brains trying to figure out who she had met who could be identified as “G”. Well, there was the Toymaker of course, but he would never be attending a ball in Valencia. It must be someone Scarlet had met this evening. It wasn’t Orlando; she could see him talking to a couple of humans on the other side of the dance floor.The only way Scarlet could find out who “G” was, was by meeting him. But first, she needed someone to watch her back. Scarlet looked around the expansive room, and saw that Anne, Lizzie, Emma, and Chrissy were still all dancing. Then her eyes found Tazio talking to a young unicorn lady in a very nice dress.

Ah, oui, who better to keep watch zen ma frère. Scarlet decided as she walked over to Tazio.

“Excusez-moi,” Isabella said politely as she put her arm around Antonio’s, “I need to ‘ave a few words wiz my brozzer.”
Isabella calmly steered her brother away from the now slightly miffed looking unicorn and towards the antechamber.

“I ‘ave a meeting wiz someone, I do not zink ‘e is an enemy, but I also do not know if ‘e is a friend.” Isabella quietly told Antonio as they walked together through the crowded ballroom.
“I would appreciate it if you could discreetly keep a weazer eye out for, ma frère”.

As Scarlet left Tazio standing near the entrance to the antechamber, Alcina’s voice came suddenly floating into her mind. “Oh, and there is my dear friend, the Duchessa Chiara Bembo and her husband Giovanni."

Gunner's Mate
Oct 11, 2012
283
OOC: Personally, I'm biding my time until Chrissy's "knowings" or that music book flats back up to the surface again. Besides, Omar's one of the musicians and didn't quite get the chance to confront Sam yet. However, Chrissy might have noticed Lord Fonte and Dona Maria dancing within eyesight; just to keep some extra eyes around.

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
totallyawesomepira... on Mar 28, 2014 wrote:
As Claire watched the unicorn stride across the room, fading into the crowd, she wasn't sure what she thought. She leaned against the wall as the dance music played, traumatized. It had all happened so quickly, but it had felt like forever.

Claire stood, supported by the wall, for what could have been a minute, but was just as likely to be an hour. Soon she noticed Dona Marcia dashing toward her, but it was surreal, as if a dream.

Please be a dream, Claire prayed. Please be a dream where I can wake up and go back to my bedroom and never pay another thought to the awful decision I just made.

But it was not a dream. Her surrealism was broken as Dona Marcia shook Claire's shoulders, her eyes glistening with tears.

"Claire!Claire, mi ragazza, are you alright? What has that man done to you?"

Claire's mind didn't register everything at first, but when it did, every single part of Claire tried to respond. Really, it did. But all that happened was Claire collapsing into the Dona's arms and sobbing. The Dona reacted with the love of a mother, gently rocking and stroking the girl's hair, letting her cry into her shoulder, whispering, "There, there," into her delicate ear.

But inside, there was as much guilt as there was sympathy. How could the Dona have made the foolish mistake to not only allow, but actually encourage bringing the girl here? Claire was 12. 12! A child! She had so much life, so much opportunity! She even had a bit of childhood left. And to crush it all, force her into the dangerous world of war, the Resistance. How could she have done this?

Then the Dona remembered Cassandra.

The sweet girl was the child any parent could hope for. A naturally bubbly personality, a love of learning, and an optimistic smile wherever she went. As their tutor, the Dona couldn't have been prouder. Then, the two girls had accidentally stumbled upon a book in the library that mentioned the Resistance. Their aunt had no choice but to tell the girls about the war, the evil of the Armada, the reason for the Resistance.

After that, both girls took a toll, but Cassandra was the most effected. She refused to play the games she had once loved. She spent most of her time reading, and shut almost everyone except Claire out. She looked at the Armada differently, and was more silent, making personal vows to ensure the Resistance prevailed. In one day, she had grown up.

And then came the eve of her 12th birthday.

Everyone was traumatized at that. Claire spent most of the day in her bedroom, sobbing over her sister, who was surely dead. The Dona sighed at the memory. The Armada had most probably killed the girl when they found out of her relationship with the Resistance. It was an awful day indeed.

The Dona wondered why she was thinking this, when she realized Claire was saying something. It was what Benvolio had told her.

The Dona's eyes widened, then she smiled with realization.

"He never said anything about me getting the paper."
Claire smiled and danced, but she could not enjoy herself. She worried about Dona Marcia and what she would do, although so far it did not seem that Marcia had tried anything risky. She worried about what Benvolio Ariosto planned to have her do. She worried that he might decide to betray her instead. And most of all, she worried about the sister she loved and who was somewhere... lost.

But as many a sage could have told her, worrying did not bring her closer to any sort of solution. It just grayed what should have been a glorious party, even if it was a party to which she technically had not been invited.

Benvolio Ariosto appeared by her side. "It is time to fulfill your end of the bargain," he informed her coolly, taking her hand and cupping around a smooth, light object.

Claire blinked. In her hand was a hen's egg, very light, as if it had been blown and the inner contents removed. "What?..."

"That is not important for you to know," Benvolio interrupted her question abruptly. "But as I said, it will harm no one. Indeed, it will provide a pretty entertainment for the guests. Go up to the gallery, stand near the musicians, and hurl the egg to the floor. It is best if it lands on no one, simply because the effect will be better. Also, most ladies and gentlemen would be offended if something landed on them, and I do not want any of my master's guests to be offended. I would be sorry if you had such a poor aim." His voice was light, but Claire imagined something of a threat beneath his offhand words.

"I will wait a handspan of minutes for you to perform your action. If you do not, you will find the Armada at your side. However, once you have done your task, I will keep my word to you. You may enjoy the rest of the Ball at your leisure. I will keep your secrets, whatever those may be ."

Pirate Overlord
Mar 16, 2012
5739
( ooc, eagerly awaiting the next installment! The music, the delicious sweets, the splendid dancing, AND danger surrounding our heroes! All of you are master story tellers!)

Gunner's Mate
Apr 13, 2010
224
A swashbuckler stepped on the dance floor, dancing with seemingly no one. He danced like none other. The way he pivoted his foot, the way he twirled the girls he danced with, it was all too much. Any who looked upon him wanted to dance with him. (Except the guys.) Even with Gladiators Gear on, he jumped up and landed gracefully as a swan. His eyes danced with a twinkle, as if he were daring people to dance. "This ball, it is, how you say, magnificent? My, my. If I had known the supporters of the Arrmada were herre, I would have brought my weapons. I kid. Now, shall we dance?" he said the Chrissy, Anne, and all other girls who dared to not not notice him.

Gunner's Mate
May 28, 2013
284
Sam Underhill on Mar 23, 2014 wrote:
Step left, step right, piva left. This time the shoulders moved as you went forward. Then again starting on the right foot - step right, step left, piva right. Magdelena had called this bit, Sequence ‘A’. He had a brief moment to recover his composure as Magdelena performed the same steps, catching up to him. From the corner of his eye Sam could see she moved far more gracefully than he, and her shoulders moved in a more suggestive manner.

Now it was time for Sequence ‘B’. Again he soloed, Piva left, piva right, piva left, step right, moving away from his partner. Then again, this time starting on the right foot. He breathed a short sigh of relief as he waited for Magdelena to rejoin him. Her movements were seamless, she kept her eyes lowered just so, swaying her hips just a little flirtatiously. But just as she reached him, it was time to move off again.

But from then on it was smooth sailing, the steps returning to Sam’s brain like a well practiced sword combination. He began to lose himself in the remainder of the dance. Sequence ‘A’ again, ending with a half turn to face Magdelena. Then both partners did another Reverenza. He returned to her side with another Sequence ‘B’.

The slightest of nods showed Magdelena’s approval of his dance so far. Halfway done, but in Sam’s mind the hardest part was over. Now it was just a repeat of the entire dance, excepting the Lady performs all the solos first, the Gentlemen playing catch up. At the end of the entire dance, they Riverenza one last time.
Still holding hands, Sam and Magdelena exited the dance floor to scattered applause. Although not perfect, Sam felt at least as if he had not shamed himself, or anyone else. Once they had comfortably reached the sidelines, she gave his hand a squeeze.

Bene, mio amor.’ Sam’s heart went flying.
Sam and Magdelena spent the next dance watching from the side. Having successfully navigated the troubled seas of Terpsichore, he found himself actually wishing he had learned more.

"Pardon, mamselle," a stuffed shirt aristocrat sidled up to Magdelena, "If you are free this next dance, it would be my pleasure." Magdelena looked apologetically at Sam, but there was no polite way for her to refuse. She curtsied and extended her hand to the unwelcome suitor. With a smug look of victory, the cad escorted her onto the floor.

It appeared the dance was to be one of those never ending line of couples dances. Sam decided it would be best to be amused at Magdelena's expense rather than annoyed by the situation. As he was a pretend Marleybonean, Sam was surely a natural target for the Valencians. He cast his glance around the room. The Vinaldi girls were all partnered, there was no sign of the Nightingale. And he still didn't understand what was Chrissy doing here? No sign either of that pesky spy of his. But he did spot a young Unicorn girl standing alone, practically hidden by one of the voluminous curtains hanging along the walls. While trying to be graceful, she had a certain awkwardness characteristic of one who was rapidly growing and not yet used to it. Sam approached her.

"Excuse me, but do you know this dance?" he asked with the requisite bow. The girl started at having been spoken to.

"Yes, it is called 'Row Well Ye Mariners," she answered haltingly.

How apropos, Sam thought. "Do you think you could teach it to me?"

Her eyes came alive with excitement, then went downcast again. "Yes," she shyly admitted.

"I think there is room for one more couple on the end," Sam prompted.

"Oh. You want to dance? With me?" The Unicorn was torn between disbelief that this was a trick, and hopefulness that it was real.

"It would be my greatest pleasure. Sam Throckmorton, at your service." Sam offered his arm.

"Laura Rossi. And yes, please." She gave a small curtsy, took his arm, and together they joined the end of the line.

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
Nicolo Foscari frowned as he listened to the report given him concerning a certain young human male. Dancing to impress was nothing unusual -- this was a ball; everyone danced to impress. But this youth was apparently expressing treasonous sentiments, although he said they were a jest. But in Valencia, speaking of a wish to fight the Armada was rarely seen as a jest.

Have I permitted this through laxity of government? the Doge wondered grimly. Have I grown 'soft', become 'lax and careless'? Has my rule allowed rebellion and sedition to spring up unchallenged? No and no. But Count Tori publicly accused him of such, and the Doge knew all eyes were upon him to counter those accusations now.

He had additional pressure from the Armada factor, Caesarus Argentus, who had expressed a dangerous frustration with the due process of Law which Nicolo was reluctant to entirely surrender. But after tonight, there should be no question. The opera, the semi-pantomime play of Armada soldiers/footmen would publicly demonstrate his commitment. And additional matters would ensure that even Tori and the Armada commander would be satisfied, even as Nicolo's own desire for revenge and retribution would be satisfied.

The Doge looked for his secretary, and was irritated he had to send a servant to find him. But quite soon Benvolio arrived. "Find out who that young human is," Nicolo ordered, pointing out the youth in question. "If he is not on the guest list, have him arrested immediately and find out how he got in. Otherwise, inform me who he is. He and his family will learn the importance of discretion." Benvolio bowed in assent, and left on his errand.

No, Cesare Tori would not justly accuse him of 'softness' again. The Doge took a look around the ballroom, selected his target, and began to walk purposefully forward.

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
The Undead Obeah on Apr 5, 2014 wrote:
OOC: Personally, I'm biding my time until Chrissy's "knowings" or that music book flats back up to the surface again. Besides, Omar's one of the musicians and didn't quite get the chance to confront Sam yet. However, Chrissy might have noticed Lord Fonte and Dona Maria dancing within eyesight; just to keep some extra eyes around.
(OOC: thanks for your patience Omar; the music book will feature soon in the sequence of events, as now things are about to happen almost all at the same time. In the meantime, you are the skillful recorder player here... )

A recorder sang out in elaborate variation on the melody line of the dance being played. The sound was so birdlike, so free and bright, that Anne's heart simply soared along, as she stood catching her breath after the last energetic dance. Lizzy stood with her, also taking a break. Anne's ears and heart was joyously full of music, full of the delight of dancing, and (truthfully) far more sugar than was good for her. Absorbed in all of the sensory delights of the ball, Anne failed to maintain a proper watch.

But Lizzy, by nature more cautious than Anne, had not. Seeing the Doge approaching them as they stood at rest, she gently touched Anne's arm in warning. Anne instinctively stiffened, but turned her movements into a graceful curtsey, and gave the Doge a shy, polite smile that masked her surge of alarm.

But the Doge was not fooled. He had seen the look of light spirits and pure happiness disappear from those expressive grey eyes behind the pretty butterfly mask, and the sudden wary expression appear in the wide, lovely blue eyes behind the elegant white wolf mask. Unexpectedly, his conscience smote him. These were innocent children. They should not be pawns in the games of power. For one fevered instant the Doge considered not carrying out his plans after all.

There was too much at stake, and he had come too far to stop now, Nicolo grimly denounced the voice of conscience. But his face showed nothing of his thoughts.

"I trust you young ladies are enjoying the ball?" he asked benignly. He nodded politely at their response, and looked towards the fans the girls carried. "What pretty fans - may I see them?" he asked pleasantly.

Both girls felt a tremor of unease at this simple request, but they could not refuse, in all courtesy.

The Doge examined the fans, making some light, admiring comments. "I understand ladies often signal each other with their fans," he continued, a sudden steel underlying his tone. "So I thought it best to remove that possibility. Do not speak. Do not move." The steel was very much in his voice now, though he still seemed to be gazing at the fans.

Mariella and Violetta stood very still. "Bene," the Doge continued. "Now you may carefully look up and see what you will." The girls did so, and saw the musicians playing in their box. Beyond them, and screened from the musicians by the high sides of their box were Armada soldiers. Some had a weapon pointed at the two girls, others directed their weapons at certain points in the dancing crowd.

"They have orders to shoot you, and your sisters and brother if you do not do exactly as I say. You will do as I tell you, agreed?"

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
CdeWinter on Apr 4, 2014 wrote:
[OOC: Very well done Anne, I think I know who G is, and I think Scarlet will figure it out as well.]

Scarlet looked at the note in her hand and thought. This could be a trap, a way for the Doge to quietly have the Vinaldi girls disappear one at a time. But she wasn’t sure, the antechamber, while probably being less full than the ballroom, was also more than likely not empty. And the Dog could easily invite the entire Vinaldi family for a private meeting and have them all arrested at once. No, this note came from someone trying to hide his identity, which suggested this could be someone that Isabella knew, or could be expected to know.

G”, Scarlet wracked her brains trying to figure out who she had met who could be identified as “G”. Well, there was the Toymaker of course, but he would never be attending a ball in Valencia. It must be someone Scarlet had met this evening. It wasn’t Orlando; she could see him talking to a couple of humans on the other side of the dance floor.The only way Scarlet could find out who “G” was, was by meeting him. But first, she needed someone to watch her back. Scarlet looked around the expansive room, and saw that Anne, Lizzie, Emma, and Chrissy were still all dancing. Then her eyes found Tazio talking to a young unicorn lady in a very nice dress.

Ah, oui, who better to keep watch zen ma frère. Scarlet decided as she walked over to Tazio.

“Excusez-moi,” Isabella said politely as she put her arm around Antonio’s, “I need to ‘ave a few words wiz my brozzer.”
Isabella calmly steered her brother away from the now slightly miffed looking unicorn and towards the antechamber.

“I ‘ave a meeting wiz someone, I do not zink ‘e is an enemy, but I also do not know if ‘e is a friend.” Isabella quietly told Antonio as they walked together through the crowded ballroom.
“I would appreciate it if you could discreetly keep a weazer eye out for, ma frère”.

As Scarlet left Tazio standing near the entrance to the antechamber, Alcina’s voice came suddenly floating into her mind. “Oh, and there is my dear friend, the Duchessa Chiara Bembo and her husband Giovanni."
[OOC: Ah, you are too clever for me, Scarlet . The really funny thing is that he was intended at first to be just a background character, a decent and honorable member of the Council who yet supported the Armada. I found his name while looking for a suitable name for the Doge -- there was a doge of Venice in the 17th C. named Giovanni Bembo, a war hero who had begun his career volunteering for the Venetian navy at the tender age of 12. This laid the foundation for my Bembo's backstory, and then your invention of Scarlet's mom as 'La Peregrine' strengthened and elaborated the backstory, providing a splendid hook for a plot. That his name provided a 'G' was a happy accident which I fell upon with glee!]

*

'Antonio' readily agreed to keep watch for his sister. Satisfied with her preparations, 'Isabella' entered the north antechamber. Scarlet swiftly checked the room as she entered, looking behind the door first.

No one was yet here. Wax tapers in wall sconces had been lit, but no fire had been lit in the fireplace. However, by the light of the candles Scarlet could see the room boasted a fine writing desk, several leather-backed chairs set comfortably around a small fireplace that boasted a beautifully carved mantle, a long table covered by a rumpled dust cloth, and several well-filled bookcases against the far wall. The walls displayed a number of prints featuring various historical and philosophical subjects. All in all, the room presented the appearance of a comfortable, masculine study.

Scarlet automatically wandered to a bookcase. Well-thumbed volumes filled the case, mostly law and history, but a smattering of some other works. With an eye trained for secrets, Scarlet soon discovered a thin volume hidden behind several large tomes. Her lips twitched in amusement and interest as she saw it was a recent monograph on squid. Evidently Orlando enjoyed the use of this study at times.

She became aware of someone entering the room and closing the door behind them. Scarlet turned towards the newcomer. As she had guessed, he was Duca Giovanni Bembo. He bowed with grave courtesy. Scarlet made a polite curtsey in exchange, sliding her hand into her pocket slit to access a weapon of her own if need be, but for the moment opening her eyes wide with concern, creating the image of simply a bewildered young lady.

His stern gaze showed the pretense to be less than effective. "I thank you for heeding my request for a meeting," he opened politely. Walking to the table, with a swift motion he flicked off the dust cover, revealing a set of matched rapiers. "I hope our conversation does not lead to combat. However, I wish to take due precautions. I would not be so dishonorable to take on an unarmed foe - if indeed you are a foe. I am certain you know how to use such a weapon."

"I sincerely do not want it to come to that. But I do insist on knowing one thing. Why is the daughter of La Peregrine masquerading as Isabella Vinaldi?"

Pirate Overlord
Mar 10, 2009
6079
Anne Radcliffe on Apr 7, 2014 wrote:
(OOC: thanks for your patience Omar; the music book will feature soon in the sequence of events, as now things are about to happen almost all at the same time. In the meantime, you are the skillful recorder player here... )

A recorder sang out in elaborate variation on the melody line of the dance being played. The sound was so birdlike, so free and bright, that Anne's heart simply soared along, as she stood catching her breath after the last energetic dance. Lizzy stood with her, also taking a break. Anne's ears and heart was joyously full of music, full of the delight of dancing, and (truthfully) far more sugar than was good for her. Absorbed in all of the sensory delights of the ball, Anne failed to maintain a proper watch.

But Lizzy, by nature more cautious than Anne, had not. Seeing the Doge approaching them as they stood at rest, she gently touched Anne's arm in warning. Anne instinctively stiffened, but turned her movements into a graceful curtsey, and gave the Doge a shy, polite smile that masked her surge of alarm.

But the Doge was not fooled. He had seen the look of light spirits and pure happiness disappear from those expressive grey eyes behind the pretty butterfly mask, and the sudden wary expression appear in the wide, lovely blue eyes behind the elegant white wolf mask. Unexpectedly, his conscience smote him. These were innocent children. They should not be pawns in the games of power. For one fevered instant the Doge considered not carrying out his plans after all.

There was too much at stake, and he had come too far to stop now, Nicolo grimly denounced the voice of conscience. But his face showed nothing of his thoughts.

"I trust you young ladies are enjoying the ball?" he asked benignly. He nodded politely at their response, and looked towards the fans the girls carried. "What pretty fans - may I see them?" he asked pleasantly.

Both girls felt a tremor of unease at this simple request, but they could not refuse, in all courtesy.

The Doge examined the fans, making some light, admiring comments. "I understand ladies often signal each other with their fans," he continued, a sudden steel underlying his tone. "So I thought it best to remove that possibility. Do not speak. Do not move." The steel was very much in his voice now, though he still seemed to be gazing at the fans.

Mariella and Violetta stood very still. "Bene," the Doge continued. "Now you may carefully look up and see what you will." The girls did so, and saw the musicians playing in their box. Beyond them, and screened from the musicians by the high sides of their box were Armada soldiers. Some had a weapon pointed at the two girls, others directed their weapons at certain points in the dancing crowd.

"They have orders to shoot you, and your sisters and brother if you do not do exactly as I say. You will do as I tell you, agreed?"
Chrissy finished her dance and after a graceful curtsey to her partner she turned to see what she was sure was the Doge's back right in front of 'Mariella & Violetta' looking way too still. She caught the direction of Anne's eyes and turned around and to her horror could just see the tip of a sparkshooter peeking out above the musicians. While looking at the musicians she saw Omar doing a masterful job with his recorder and she sent a panicked help plea to him using her newfound powers. She saw him wobble a bit and almost miss a note but she was assured he had received her as she saw his eyes darting rapidly around trying to find her. Her hand reached into her gown and grasped the simple used wand he had given her in the library and stepped into Lizzy & Anne's line of sight and nodded to them to assure them that they were not alone, then melted into the curtains to see what the Doge was going to do.

Commodore
Sep 20, 2009
814
Anne Radcliffe on Apr 7, 2014 wrote:
[OOC: Ah, you are too clever for me, Scarlet . The really funny thing is that he was intended at first to be just a background character, a decent and honorable member of the Council who yet supported the Armada. I found his name while looking for a suitable name for the Doge -- there was a doge of Venice in the 17th C. named Giovanni Bembo, a war hero who had begun his career volunteering for the Venetian navy at the tender age of 12. This laid the foundation for my Bembo's backstory, and then your invention of Scarlet's mom as 'La Peregrine' strengthened and elaborated the backstory, providing a splendid hook for a plot. That his name provided a 'G' was a happy accident which I fell upon with glee!]

*

'Antonio' readily agreed to keep watch for his sister. Satisfied with her preparations, 'Isabella' entered the north antechamber. Scarlet swiftly checked the room as she entered, looking behind the door first.

No one was yet here. Wax tapers in wall sconces had been lit, but no fire had been lit in the fireplace. However, by the light of the candles Scarlet could see the room boasted a fine writing desk, several leather-backed chairs set comfortably around a small fireplace that boasted a beautifully carved mantle, a long table covered by a rumpled dust cloth, and several well-filled bookcases against the far wall. The walls displayed a number of prints featuring various historical and philosophical subjects. All in all, the room presented the appearance of a comfortable, masculine study.

Scarlet automatically wandered to a bookcase. Well-thumbed volumes filled the case, mostly law and history, but a smattering of some other works. With an eye trained for secrets, Scarlet soon discovered a thin volume hidden behind several large tomes. Her lips twitched in amusement and interest as she saw it was a recent monograph on squid. Evidently Orlando enjoyed the use of this study at times.

She became aware of someone entering the room and closing the door behind them. Scarlet turned towards the newcomer. As she had guessed, he was Duca Giovanni Bembo. He bowed with grave courtesy. Scarlet made a polite curtsey in exchange, sliding her hand into her pocket slit to access a weapon of her own if need be, but for the moment opening her eyes wide with concern, creating the image of simply a bewildered young lady.

His stern gaze showed the pretense to be less than effective. "I thank you for heeding my request for a meeting," he opened politely. Walking to the table, with a swift motion he flicked off the dust cover, revealing a set of matched rapiers. "I hope our conversation does not lead to combat. However, I wish to take due precautions. I would not be so dishonorable to take on an unarmed foe - if indeed you are a foe. I am certain you know how to use such a weapon."

"I sincerely do not want it to come to that. But I do insist on knowing one thing. Why is the daughter of La Peregrine masquerading as Isabella Vinaldi?"
[OOC: This is not going to be any addition to the story. I just couldn't wait to say, WOW. Really Anne, first thank you for the compliment about being too clever, you don't know how often people have told me that, especially my old high school teachers who could never figure out how I knew what was going on in my classes when instead of paying attention to the lesson, I would stare out the back windows and watch birds.

I really loved this post, it's more than I was expecting and as a result I'm going to need some time to come up with an appropriate response that suits both the story and Scarlet's personality, right now I'm leading towards honesty, but I'm not too sure.]

Petty Officer
May 30, 2013
97
Anne Radcliffe on Apr 5, 2014 wrote:
Claire smiled and danced, but she could not enjoy herself. She worried about Dona Marcia and what she would do, although so far it did not seem that Marcia had tried anything risky. She worried about what Benvolio Ariosto planned to have her do. She worried that he might decide to betray her instead. And most of all, she worried about the sister she loved and who was somewhere... lost.

But as many a sage could have told her, worrying did not bring her closer to any sort of solution. It just grayed what should have been a glorious party, even if it was a party to which she technically had not been invited.

Benvolio Ariosto appeared by her side. "It is time to fulfill your end of the bargain," he informed her coolly, taking her hand and cupping around a smooth, light object.

Claire blinked. In her hand was a hen's egg, very light, as if it had been blown and the inner contents removed. "What?..."

"That is not important for you to know," Benvolio interrupted her question abruptly. "But as I said, it will harm no one. Indeed, it will provide a pretty entertainment for the guests. Go up to the gallery, stand near the musicians, and hurl the egg to the floor. It is best if it lands on no one, simply because the effect will be better. Also, most ladies and gentlemen would be offended if something landed on them, and I do not want any of my master's guests to be offended. I would be sorry if you had such a poor aim." His voice was light, but Claire imagined something of a threat beneath his offhand words.

"I will wait a handspan of minutes for you to perform your action. If you do not, you will find the Armada at your side. However, once you have done your task, I will keep my word to you. You may enjoy the rest of the Ball at your leisure. I will keep your secrets, whatever those may be ."
Well this is certainly... odd. Claire thought as Benvolio strided across the ballroom and faded into the crowd once again. She wasn't expecting this. She wasn't even close to exepecting this!
It can't be too bad, Claire thought. After all, it's just an egg.

Claire looked up. Above the musicians, and next to the boxes, there was a small walkway, dotted with paintings and portraits of all sizes. The gallery.

Now, where would some stairs be? Claire scanned the vast ballroom. Aha! Near the back of the room she saw a doorway leading to a thin set of stairs. She walked over to the doorway and peered in. Yes, the stairs were heading in the right direction, they should lead to the gallery.

Silently, Claire tip toed up the stairs. Why she was being so cautions, she wasn't sure. But it must have been a twist of fate, because the stairs didn't lead to the gallery. They lead to the box.

And inside the box were two Armada soldiers.

Claire's heart froze. She made her breath as inaudible as she could. It took a moment for her to realize that they hadn't heard her, and that they were pointing their guns on some innocent person in the crowd below.

Pointing their guns on some innocent person in the crowd below!

Every inch of Claire screamed to get out of there, yet she couldn't move. This was wrong, this was very, very wrong. There was some sinister plot going on, and Claire couldn't leave it alone. The Armada had taken her sister, for heaven's sake!

No, Claire decided. They weren't going to get away this time. So slowly, Claire removed the small but sharp dagger Dona Marcia had given her as a "just in case," and did the worst decision of her life.

Claire clutched the dagger, took a deep breath, and, pupming with adrenaline, stuck her dagger deep into the clockwork, badly damaging it. The she dropped the egg over the edge of box.

Then she ran.

(OOC: Sorry if this messes with the plot line, and/or the geography of the ballroom. I think I got it mixed up. If this messes with the story line too badly, I can change it if you need me. Please don't eat me!

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
Chrissy Th'Blesser on Apr 7, 2014 wrote:
Chrissy finished her dance and after a graceful curtsey to her partner she turned to see what she was sure was the Doge's back right in front of 'Mariella & Violetta' looking way too still. She caught the direction of Anne's eyes and turned around and to her horror could just see the tip of a sparkshooter peeking out above the musicians. While looking at the musicians she saw Omar doing a masterful job with his recorder and she sent a panicked help plea to him using her newfound powers. She saw him wobble a bit and almost miss a note but she was assured he had received her as she saw his eyes darting rapidly around trying to find her. Her hand reached into her gown and grasped the simple used wand he had given her in the library and stepped into Lizzy & Anne's line of sight and nodded to them to assure them that they were not alone, then melted into the curtains to see what the Doge was going to do.
(OOC: Good Chrissy, I'll use that, but if you don't mind, I think I will omit the part about the wand - I didn't recall it from the sequence between you and Omar in Graziella's library, and I had been writing up your talents as something rather unique. That way, you will need Omar for his skills, and he will definitely need you... well, you'll see what I mean )

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
Anne Radcliffe on Feb 3, 2014 wrote:
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.
The guards made a regular circuit up and down the corridor on an upper floor in the Doge's palace, but the Pig inside one of the rooms paid them no heed. Ondine Semprina -or as she styled herself- Magus Ondine Semprina, had been smuggled into the room much earlier in the day, before all the present security was in place. The bread, cheese, fruits, and sweets that had been provided was now almost gone, as was the sand in the top bulb of an hourglass. Ondine silently read and made notes in a book, occasionally also making notes in a slim notebook as well.

The last sands trickled into the hourglass bottom. The lady Pig observed it and made a mark on a page of her notebook. She took in the number of marks, smiled, and closed the book. Rising to her feet she opened a wooden case bound with sliver, and took from within a plain, but perfectly beautiful ebony flute. From the small stack of books at the desk she selected a slim volume - the music book.

Omar had been quite correct to call the music book 'dangerous'. Most of the spells of the book affected the mind, and were especially pernicious to users of magic or hoodoo, as the spells could absorb the energies of other spell-casters, making attack spells all the more powerful -- and devastating.

This power of the music book was mitigated by the fact that further knowledge was needed to access such power: simply playing the songs would have only a mild effect, unless someone had also studied the accompanying theory book. But Ondine had discovered and stolen the theory book some time ago, and thus was fully capable of unleashing the all of the book's power. Perhaps not yet to its full potential, for she had not possessed the music book for long, but dangerously potent enough. Like many of the spells in the music book, the spell Ondine had chosen was most effective against sensitives - other spell-casters... and music lovers. And while there were few of the former, in Padova there were many of the latter.

A valuable silver mirror in a carved gilt frame hung on the wall. Ondine took a satisfied look at the tableau: flute, book, and herself. She admired the emerald earrings that dangled so attractively at her ears, and trusted she would soon be the owner of the matching necklace, for surely she would please the one who had hired her.

She gazed at the spell-cased melody line with the smugness of one who knew she could not be thwarted. Ordinary folk and sensitives alike would fall under this spell. The only exception would be that rare talent that lay not in casting spells, but deflecting them; not in displays of power, but protection. But who had that? That talent had most notoriously been the characteristic of a certain family of Hoodoo rulers, now exterminated.

Ondine set in her mind the few the spell was not supposed to affect, and laid them in as 'rests' into the makeup of the music-spell. Then she began to play, the spell laid to affect everyone in the ballroom and in auditory range of it.

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
The Undead Obeah on Apr 5, 2014 wrote:
OOC: Personally, I'm biding my time until Chrissy's "knowings" or that music book flats back up to the surface again. Besides, Omar's one of the musicians and didn't quite get the chance to confront Sam yet. However, Chrissy might have noticed Lord Fonte and Dona Maria dancing within eyesight; just to keep some extra eyes around.
Omar completed the elaborately ornamented run on the recorder he was presently playing to provide descant to the dance tune. Several of the musicians glanced his way with a smile or nod of approval, for Omar's clear notes had sung out like the very birds themselves, trilling, chirping, flying with exuberance and lightness. He played on, preparing for another improvisation on the next repeat of the musical phrase, when another's voice flashed across his mind:

-Omar! Something is going on here.- Maria Laverne's mental voice was sharp with wariness, but did not signify immediate danger. Omar planned to attend to it as soon as the dance tune was complete, and gave up the idea of creating more variations so he could focus on the surroundings of the ballroom.

He caught Chrissy's eye; she evidently had concerns too. At the cadence, Omar decided to bow out of playing for a repeat or two. There were others on the top line, and it was not unusual for musicians to sit out a phrase or a full repeat. He just needed a bit of time to spin a small spell of inquiry.

A flash of light below caught his attention, though he could not see what it was. It did not seem to be anything alarming, based on the murmur of interest rather than alarm that followed. Omar released the little spell. At first he detected merely the swirl of general emotions: excitement, surprise, laughter... then he picked up on something... odd. A thread of music spiraled into his spell, disharmonious to the music playing beside him, but somehow enticing and intriguing.

It took Omar only an instant to realize he was dealing with a hostile spell. He swiftly summoned up hoodoo of his own to counter the spell and divine its origin, but to his alarmed surprise, his magic was absorbed instantly by the other to rebound even more strongly against him. The spell music sang in his mind all the louder. Omar could feel his mind clouding, and fought desperately against the spell, but his struggles only strengthened the musical bonds that sapped his will and withered his thoughts.

This must be something from the Music Book! Omar realized, horrified. Must warn... was Omar's last coherent thought.

Pirate Overlord
Mar 10, 2009
6079
Chrissy hid in the curtains and watched. She suddenly clutched the fabric and nearly swooned as her "Knowings" went nuts. She had no idea what was going on. She frantically looked at the Doge and saw that they were still there, way too still but still there. She looked up at Omar and was hopeful that he would join her since he had caught her eye and she heard him stop his music and expected him to quickly appear to help her out. She heard new music that rose in volume with her "Knowing" and out of pure reflex she covered herself in protection. She looked around the room and realized that everyone was becoming oh so still. She took another panicked look up for Omar but he was still sitting in his chair with a frighteningly dead look in his eyes. Out of pure concern for him her protection flew across the room and surrounded him as he sat among the now quiet orchestra. She saw him slowly blink and look around. She then with a start saw that all her friends were also not moving. She summoned all the will she had and thought of each of them and blasted protection to each one of them. She had never protected so many that were so far apart before and was not sure how good it would be but it had never failed her before. She was so grateful that she was hidden behind the curtain as the effect was quite draining and she clutched the drape to keep herself standing. She could see that her friends that she could see were starting to move again but she then closed her eyes so she could focus on keeping the protection strong.

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
totallyawesomepira... on Apr 7, 2014 wrote:
Well this is certainly... odd. Claire thought as Benvolio strided across the ballroom and faded into the crowd once again. She wasn't expecting this. She wasn't even close to exepecting this!
It can't be too bad, Claire thought. After all, it's just an egg.

Claire looked up. Above the musicians, and next to the boxes, there was a small walkway, dotted with paintings and portraits of all sizes. The gallery.

Now, where would some stairs be? Claire scanned the vast ballroom. Aha! Near the back of the room she saw a doorway leading to a thin set of stairs. She walked over to the doorway and peered in. Yes, the stairs were heading in the right direction, they should lead to the gallery.

Silently, Claire tip toed up the stairs. Why she was being so cautions, she wasn't sure. But it must have been a twist of fate, because the stairs didn't lead to the gallery. They lead to the box.

And inside the box were two Armada soldiers.

Claire's heart froze. She made her breath as inaudible as she could. It took a moment for her to realize that they hadn't heard her, and that they were pointing their guns on some innocent person in the crowd below.

Pointing their guns on some innocent person in the crowd below!

Every inch of Claire screamed to get out of there, yet she couldn't move. This was wrong, this was very, very wrong. There was some sinister plot going on, and Claire couldn't leave it alone. The Armada had taken her sister, for heaven's sake!

No, Claire decided. They weren't going to get away this time. So slowly, Claire removed the small but sharp dagger Dona Marcia had given her as a "just in case," and did the worst decision of her life.

Claire clutched the dagger, took a deep breath, and, pupming with adrenaline, stuck her dagger deep into the clockwork, badly damaging it. The she dropped the egg over the edge of box.

Then she ran.

(OOC: Sorry if this messes with the plot line, and/or the geography of the ballroom. I think I got it mixed up. If this messes with the story line too badly, I can change it if you need me. Please don't eat me!
(OOC: Nope, it's good, Claire! You just got a little ahead of me, as I planned to let Claire know what she was seeing in the gallery - what the musicians up there can't see in the box. But you guessed well enough. I'm glad you dropped the egg though, as I already wrote its effect in Omar's little sequence above )

[note: this happens a few moments before Ondine casts her spell]

Claire lit out of the gallery as if her life depended on it -- which it did. A sparkgun shot hit the wall right by her head as she rapidly turned the corner for the stair, spattering her forehead and hair with plaster. Another shot burnt a hole through the silk of her lovely gown, but Claire did not think of any of that. She just ran. Hurtling down the stairs she heard a cold order for her pursuit, and the unmistakable tread of hurrying metal footsteps.

I guess there were more than two Armada soldiers, Claire thought wildly. She was quite correct; there were considerably more than two, although only two were dispatched to go take her down. But Claire could not spare a thought for how many might be pursuing her, only that she needed to escape.

Meanwhile, the egg sailed over the balcony and smashed on the smooth waxed wood floor below. It exploded with a flash of light, arresting the attention of everyone in the ballroom. The dancers cried out in shock and alarm, which swiftly turned to smiles and laughter as they saw the explosion released a shower of confetti and the thinnest of streamers, hardly thicker than threads, all gold, silver, and every color of the rainbow.

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
Chrissy Th'Blesser on Apr 8, 2014 wrote:
Chrissy hid in the curtains and watched. She suddenly clutched the fabric and nearly swooned as her "Knowings" went nuts. She had no idea what was going on. She frantically looked at the Doge and saw that they were still there, way too still but still there. She looked up at Omar and was hopeful that he would join her since he had caught her eye and she heard him stop his music and expected him to quickly appear to help her out. She heard new music that rose in volume with her "Knowing" and out of pure reflex she covered herself in protection. She looked around the room and realized that everyone was becoming oh so still. She took another panicked look up for Omar but he was still sitting in his chair with a frighteningly dead look in his eyes. Out of pure concern for him her protection flew across the room and surrounded him as he sat among the now quiet orchestra. She saw him slowly blink and look around. She then with a start saw that all her friends were also not moving. She summoned all the will she had and thought of each of them and blasted protection to each one of them. She had never protected so many that were so far apart before and was not sure how good it would be but it had never failed her before. She was so grateful that she was hidden behind the curtain as the effect was quite draining and she clutched the drape to keep herself standing. She could see that her friends that she could see were starting to move again but she then closed her eyes so she could focus on keeping the protection strong.
OOC: Yep, your 'knowings' are going off like firecrackers, Chrissy. But there are a lot of things happening at once -- you'll get to react after my next post. A couple things happen just before Ondine casts her spell and immediately after, and you'll see what is going on where you are presently keeping watch.

By the way, I guess I didn't make this clear: the ones most affected by the spell are spell-casters (witchdoctors and the like) and music-lovers. The greater love for music, the more likely the character is under the spell (so judging by Sam's reaction to the opera, he is probably safe ). The more powerful the witchdoctor, the much greater the effect of the spell (sorry about that Omar, but you are the one who came up with the idea of the music book. I then had to think about what it did! ) So Omar (and Maria & Fonte) are completely transfixed by the spell, the musicians and the like will be deeply confused, but others will experience more moderate degrees of mental fuzziness and mild confusion. Scarlet is not affected because Bembo shut the door; they aren't in auditory range. Claire racing for her life hasn't experienced the effect of the spell -yet- and it depends on where she flees to. And of course, the Armada soldiers are not affected by this spell at all, as you might guess.

But bear in mind this all hasn't happened entirely quite yet...

Pirate Overlord
Mar 10, 2009
6079
OOC Gotcha Anne. I had just assumed that the dancers were enjoying the music and thus were affected. Chrissy out of reflex is trying to protect all, even the ones she can't see and I was hoping that protection could have some fun side effects if things go to battle in the side room or in tripping up the pursuing Armada.

Gunner's Mate
Oct 11, 2012
283
Anne Radcliffe on Apr 8, 2014 wrote:
OOC: Yep, your 'knowings' are going off like firecrackers, Chrissy. But there are a lot of things happening at once -- you'll get to react after my next post. A couple things happen just before Ondine casts her spell and immediately after, and you'll see what is going on where you are presently keeping watch.

By the way, I guess I didn't make this clear: the ones most affected by the spell are spell-casters (witchdoctors and the like) and music-lovers. The greater love for music, the more likely the character is under the spell (so judging by Sam's reaction to the opera, he is probably safe ). The more powerful the witchdoctor, the much greater the effect of the spell (sorry about that Omar, but you are the one who came up with the idea of the music book. I then had to think about what it did! ) So Omar (and Maria & Fonte) are completely transfixed by the spell, the musicians and the like will be deeply confused, but others will experience more moderate degrees of mental fuzziness and mild confusion. Scarlet is not affected because Bembo shut the door; they aren't in auditory range. Claire racing for her life hasn't experienced the effect of the spell -yet- and it depends on where she flees to. And of course, the Armada soldiers are not affected by this spell at all, as you might guess.

But bear in mind this all hasn't happened entirely quite yet...
OOC: Trust me, I LOVE where this is going. You've taken the music book I wouldn't have begun to comprehend. I have to tell you though (and the fault is mine for not explaining this earlier), That Alexander (Fonte) Hobbes is not able to cast magical spells. He was born into a family with next to no magical prowess (unless Hobbes is insisting he was magically given good looks) and extremely low resistance to magic. However, the tradeoff is a unique trait that may come in handy in this scenario.

Don't worry, you'll see it in action soon enough.

As for the plot, let's continue. I have a new set of tricks from Mooshu that I've been dying to try out.

Gunner's Mate
Apr 13, 2010
224
Anne Radcliffe on Apr 8, 2014 wrote:
OOC: Yep, your 'knowings' are going off like firecrackers, Chrissy. But there are a lot of things happening at once -- you'll get to react after my next post. A couple things happen just before Ondine casts her spell and immediately after, and you'll see what is going on where you are presently keeping watch.

By the way, I guess I didn't make this clear: the ones most affected by the spell are spell-casters (witchdoctors and the like) and music-lovers. The greater love for music, the more likely the character is under the spell (so judging by Sam's reaction to the opera, he is probably safe ). The more powerful the witchdoctor, the much greater the effect of the spell (sorry about that Omar, but you are the one who came up with the idea of the music book. I then had to think about what it did! ) So Omar (and Maria & Fonte) are completely transfixed by the spell, the musicians and the like will be deeply confused, but others will experience more moderate degrees of mental fuzziness and mild confusion. Scarlet is not affected because Bembo shut the door; they aren't in auditory range. Claire racing for her life hasn't experienced the effect of the spell -yet- and it depends on where she flees to. And of course, the Armada soldiers are not affected by this spell at all, as you might guess.

But bear in mind this all hasn't happened entirely quite yet...
And exactly where am I in this? I knew this would happen. But for the sake of the plot, let's say a music loving witchdoctor was in complete earshot. And he's completely frozen in time. Am I right? By the way, the witch doctors name is Fearless George Xiriga, but people call him Fearless. Just an FYI.

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
Anne Radcliffe on Apr 7, 2014 wrote:
(OOC: thanks for your patience Omar; the music book will feature soon in the sequence of events, as now things are about to happen almost all at the same time. In the meantime, you are the skillful recorder player here... )

A recorder sang out in elaborate variation on the melody line of the dance being played. The sound was so birdlike, so free and bright, that Anne's heart simply soared along, as she stood catching her breath after the last energetic dance. Lizzy stood with her, also taking a break. Anne's ears and heart was joyously full of music, full of the delight of dancing, and (truthfully) far more sugar than was good for her. Absorbed in all of the sensory delights of the ball, Anne failed to maintain a proper watch.

But Lizzy, by nature more cautious than Anne, had not. Seeing the Doge approaching them as they stood at rest, she gently touched Anne's arm in warning. Anne instinctively stiffened, but turned her movements into a graceful curtsey, and gave the Doge a shy, polite smile that masked her surge of alarm.

But the Doge was not fooled. He had seen the look of light spirits and pure happiness disappear from those expressive grey eyes behind the pretty butterfly mask, and the sudden wary expression appear in the wide, lovely blue eyes behind the elegant white wolf mask. Unexpectedly, his conscience smote him. These were innocent children. They should not be pawns in the games of power. For one fevered instant the Doge considered not carrying out his plans after all.

There was too much at stake, and he had come too far to stop now, Nicolo grimly denounced the voice of conscience. But his face showed nothing of his thoughts.

"I trust you young ladies are enjoying the ball?" he asked benignly. He nodded politely at their response, and looked towards the fans the girls carried. "What pretty fans - may I see them?" he asked pleasantly.

Both girls felt a tremor of unease at this simple request, but they could not refuse, in all courtesy.

The Doge examined the fans, making some light, admiring comments. "I understand ladies often signal each other with their fans," he continued, a sudden steel underlying his tone. "So I thought it best to remove that possibility. Do not speak. Do not move." The steel was very much in his voice now, though he still seemed to be gazing at the fans.

Mariella and Violetta stood very still. "Bene," the Doge continued. "Now you may carefully look up and see what you will." The girls did so, and saw the musicians playing in their box. Beyond them, and screened from the musicians by the high sides of their box were Armada soldiers. Some had a weapon pointed at the two girls, others directed their weapons at certain points in the dancing crowd.

"They have orders to shoot you, and your sisters and brother if you do not do exactly as I say. You will do as I tell you, agreed?"
[this sequence begins slightly before Claire tosses the egg...]

The Doge's threat was most potent; the girls nodded assent as they knew they were expected to. Anne caught Chrissy's eye, but could not convey any message, not under the scrutiny she and Lizzy experienced now. The Doge nodded to a line of footmen, and four genuine Armada soldiers came forward. "These soldiers will escort you below. Do not cry. Do not make a fuss." Then his harsh commanding tone softened a trifle. "Do as you are bid, and you will not be harmed. But consider yourselves under arrest."

Anne managed to find her voice. "Why?" she asked softly.

"Your father is a traitor," the Doge stated grimly. "Since he evades justice by hiding, I intend to bring him out. You had better hope he loves you enough to do so. I could arrest you openly," he lied smoothly, "but I have no wish to distress my guests. Obey me, and you will be decently treated. Simply walk out of the ballroom through that door," he indicated it with a nod, "and your escort will take you on farther. After the ball I will check on you to ensure you are not uncomfortable in your prison cells."

In the ballroom, a muted Poomph! and a burst of light and color behind the girls caught the Doge's attention. Squeaks of shock turned into a hum of excited conversation, laughter, and some scattered applause. Nicolo frowned. This seemed to have been some sort of entertainment that had not been cleared with him first. Well, he would have words with his Master of Ceremonies directly once he had dealt with these, the traitor's children.

Briefly unobserved, Anne and Lizzy exchanged a glance. It would not be wise to do anything here, not with trigger-happy Armada soldiers aiming at their friends. Best to be obedient and make a bid for freedom away from the ballroom. As the Doge returned his gaze to them, the girls meekly lowered their heads, and taking hands, walked towards their intended captivity.

Nicolo Foscari ruthlessly suppressed the pang in his own heart, remembering Violetta's rapt face at the opera and Mariella's glowing joy dancing the Volta and seeing now their subdued, cowed spirits. It is for the good of Padova, he told himself once again.

Under the subdued exterior, both girls were thinking quickly. Anne began to lay out plans based on their briefing of what was known about the catacombs and dungeons under the Doge's palace. Yet as she began assessing their situation more fully, a strange dissonance among the musicians suddenly caught her ear, a flute playing a counter melody out of tune. After a moment, however, she realized that the melody was not out of tune. Not at all. The melody filled her mind, sending her thoughts flying. Holding Lizzy's hand, Anne walked on, but not really remembering why she was doing so.

Admiral
Jul 27, 2012
1190
Anne Radcliffe on Apr 8, 2014 wrote:
(OOC: Nope, it's good, Claire! You just got a little ahead of me, as I planned to let Claire know what she was seeing in the gallery - what the musicians up there can't see in the box. But you guessed well enough. I'm glad you dropped the egg though, as I already wrote its effect in Omar's little sequence above )

[note: this happens a few moments before Ondine casts her spell]

Claire lit out of the gallery as if her life depended on it -- which it did. A sparkgun shot hit the wall right by her head as she rapidly turned the corner for the stair, spattering her forehead and hair with plaster. Another shot burnt a hole through the silk of her lovely gown, but Claire did not think of any of that. She just ran. Hurtling down the stairs she heard a cold order for her pursuit, and the unmistakable tread of hurrying metal footsteps.

I guess there were more than two Armada soldiers, Claire thought wildly. She was quite correct; there were considerably more than two, although only two were dispatched to go take her down. But Claire could not spare a thought for how many might be pursuing her, only that she needed to escape.

Meanwhile, the egg sailed over the balcony and smashed on the smooth waxed wood floor below. It exploded with a flash of light, arresting the attention of everyone in the ballroom. The dancers cried out in shock and alarm, which swiftly turned to smiles and laughter as they saw the explosion released a shower of confetti and the thinnest of streamers, hardly thicker than threads, all gold, silver, and every color of the rainbow.
Sam, having finished the dance with Laura Rossi, found himself invited to meet a few of her friends. He bowed with his best courtly behavior towards a young, elegant Unicorn by the name of Katerina Pergolesi and her human friends, Alura and Evalina. The crowd swirled around them, people coming and going. Sam, who had begun to feel sophisticated and confident in the company of one girl, now found himself feeling peculiar and awkward in the company of several girls. It didn't help that the conversation turned to matters of fashion, something Sam knew nothing about, even when he wasn't dealing with Valencian culture in particular. Nor did it help feeling he was under scrutiny by the elderly grandmother of Katerina, the Contessa Beatrice, who despite her gracious manners still made him feel like he was an errant schoolboy about to be discovered of wrongdoing.

The bright, playful explosion of the egg proved to be a welcome distraction. At the first instant, Sam felt a surge of alarm which swiftly melted into relief. This was just another entertainment for the ball. Very pretty; much better than the opera, Sam privately thought. He turned to make a light comment to Laura, glad to have a topic of conversation other than fashion.

The words he was going to speak died on his lips. The elderly Unicorn suddenly looked ashen, her eyes closed, and swaying dangerously. Beatrice put a hand to her chest and collapsed just as Sam reached her. Everything else was forgotten as he cushioned her fall. What had happened? Had she had some sort of stroke or heart attack? And curiously, there was a tiny wound just above where her half-gloves ended on her arm. It looked far from dangerous, but still brand new. How had she come by that injury just now?