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The Perpetual Ball

Discussion in 'Machiavel: Ambition' started by Ravana, Jun 25, 2011.

  1. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    I'm rarely the sort to avoid borrowing a good idea when I see one, so I thought I'd take Artless's "introduction" thread, expand upon it (by marrying it to an idea from Steven Brust ;) ), and give it more of an ongoing status. Result? The Perpetual Ball. This will be a never-ending affair that takes place outside of "game time," where you can all interact with one another, as well as various more or less colorful (or savory) characters, regardless of what you're "actually" doing at the moment. Or, if you don't want to be present personally, you can send one of your vassals to collect information, overhear rumors, and oversee your plots for you.

    As long as they can make the invite list, at least. Only persons of quality are admitted to the Ballroom–read: armiger or higher. The attendee can bring a single guest along with them, though unless it's a spouse or child, the guest must meet the same requirement. There will be two other "areas" with their own activities going on, for those of lower status: "Down the Hall," which is where gentlemen, esquires and knights bachelor are relegated to; and "Below the Stairs," which is for non-gentles of any sort. Those of higher rank can always enter an area of lower rank, though this is likely to be noticed and commented on… probably unfavorably. Which is not to say it might not be advantageous from time to time.

    The following NPCs are almost always going to be in attendance; for details on them, see the first installment of the (new) "Dramatis Personae" thread.

    Prince Heveric
    Countess Leina of Fendrichsvegn
    Prince Manchovar
    Princess Serifet
    Marchioness-Dowager Timiseta
    Princess Tulgrid

    Many others will be there as well, of course; they just might not be there constantly; more will be added to the below from time to time. The highest social levels–the dukes and Great Officers–will rarely be there, though you'll always be able to find someone who knows where they can be found; the Emperor will pretty much never be there, though even he takes time off from his busy schedule of attending other entertainments once in a while.

    This thread is not going to be stickied, so you may need to seek it out. I'm hoping there will be enough traffic to keep it near the top, though.

    With that… let the dancing begin!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  2. Artless

    Artless Minstrel

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    As you enter the ball, you see Baron Johan swinging his wife the Lady Elysia through a lively country jig. As the musicians increas the pace of their playing, so too do the two young lovers increase the pace of their dance, to the delight of all who watch.
     
  3. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    Most of the guests, of course, haven't the slightest idea how to perform a country jig, which explains part of their interest. Still, most of them are smiling, and a few are even attempting to mimic the steps–those whose finery permits them to, at least. Prince Manchovar, long past the age of such vigorous exercise, is enthusiastically clapping out the time… the wrong time, but no less enthusiastic for all that; no one seems inclined to try to correct him. The rest seem to have gotten thirsty just from watching, if the increased demand at the wine table is any indication.
     
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  4. Smaug

    Smaug Dreamer

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    A young, dandily-dressed man strides confidently into the room, and introduces himself a Sarlic of Merscinga. He is accompanied by a woman in a rustic yet scandalously low cut dress whom he names Jolanta, sister of the Baron. He asks an attendant if the Lord Admiral, Zerich, will be in attendance. Sarlic states that his Baron's family have served the Nieden-Saxar line for generations, and he would be humbled to make the Admiral's acquaintance.
     
  5. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    The attendant either looks down his nose or her dress: it's hard to tell which. He mutters something which might be "Well, he certainly isn't going to be humbled by making yours," but it's too indistinct to base challenging him to a duel over. Before he can be asked to repeat it, he says in a normal tone: "As a matter of fact, His Serene Lordship is in attendance right now, as the fleet is between expeditions. The tall nobleman over by the window, the one in the blue doublet and with the, ah… 'hairline tending to leeward,' I believe the expression is." He then goes about whatever it is his business is to go about doing.
     
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  6. myrddin173

    myrddin173 Maester

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    The music changes into a stately waltz as Katerina pulls her husband towards the center of the ballroom. While Alec is a talented dancer, he dislikes being in the center of attention, preferring the font of information known as "The Drink Table." He may be new but Alec is amazed how a little alcohol can cause people to inadvertently reveal secrets.
     
  7. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    And there's more than a "little" alcohol flowing. In fact, given the amazing variety of good vintages available, it's a wonder anyone can keep his head.

    Prince Heverik is holding forth on the virtues of the latest shipment of cloth from the southern land of Baresh… to the apparent discomfiture of several other young men lingering nearby, all of whom are dressed in a fashion remarkably similar to his, even if in most cases their colors don't clash as badly as his do. You gather that the new outfits he is even now having assembled will take his wardrobe in a previously unexplored direction–which will put them in the position of playing catch-up. Again.

    Two men slightly older than Alec are engaged in a low-voiced but animated discussion: the volume picks up enough that the words "…care what her rank is, she's a complete–"; unfortunately, the speaker abruptly cuts off at a gesture from the other, glances around nervously, and takes a long drink from his glass. The conversation resumes at its previous volume.

    Actually, it's beginning to seem as though everybody else knows that rule about the drinks table, too… or else they haven't had enough yet. All's not lost, though: back on the dance floor, a lady of some high degree or other is saying to her partner, not at all quietly: "Yes, Muretsu. That lad with the lovely hair and atrocious accent," the response to which, from a middle-aged gentleman apparently unaccustomed to finery, is "The fool. Of course the troops aren't going to follow him anywhere. Can't even understand what he's saying. It might have been all well and good for her as long as she lived there, but he's useless as teats on a bull here–your pardon, my dear. At least her mother had the sense to teach her to speak correctly, never mind she was never expected to.…" Then the flow of the dance moves them out of earshot. They do, however, receive a significant glance from another noble as the two couples pass one another, then as the second couple draws nearer, the man shakes his head and says to his partner, "No, Mazosyr's the one to watch." Whatever follows is too low to catch.
     
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  8. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    "Great Goddess, what is he wearing now?"

    "Ah… that would be the result of his new notion to move his ruffles down to his ankles, I believe–think they're inside the cuffs, which explains why they spread out so. Calls them 'tocsin-bottoms,' or some such nonsense. How he can walk without tripping over himself is beyond me."

    "No, not those–although I certainly agree with you. I was referring to that other… uhm.…"

    "Oh, the ostrich plume? You must have been absent when he debuted that–it isn't new. Believe me, my dear, you don't want to know."
     
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  9. Eliazar

    Eliazar Scribe

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    Much to his discomfort, the people he passes start nudging each other and whispering as Lord Balder von Hohenfels, Baron of Negelovach enters the ballroom. But what did he expect? His beautiful barony was not even known to all nobles during the last Court of Kereszney, as they apparently deemed the province too backwards to matter.

    And then, of course, was there the thing with the girls. Not only did his spouse appear to be slightly drunk, he also had to inconspiciously maneuvre his twin sisters towards a more quiet place. What was he thinking in allowing the girls to accompany him to the ball? Ah well, at least they could get to know some other nobles (they were rather rare back home) and get accustomed to the world in which they would most likely marry in a few years time.

    "Let's dance!" His spouse was pulling his arm. Great, though Balder. Even more attention. At least some other couple was dancing, too.

    "You remember what I told you - two glasses of wine for each of you, and no more." He said to his sisters as Amalia was dragging him onto the dancefloor. They were nodding, but could not hide the giggle behind their friendly smiles.

    This is going to be a wonderful evening, he thought.
     
  10. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    Overheard during an even-more-than-usually-unguarded moment from Prince Manchovar: "'Mysterious circumstances?' There's nothing mysterious about dying of a knife in the back. I've known a great many people to die so… one might almost say it's the custom to die in such circumstances. Had he lived, one might have been able to call that 'mysterious'.…" The Prince and his conversation amble on before you can catch anything more.

    Meanwhile, over at the wine table, the Hohenfels twins were coyly trying to convince the steward that wine glasses where they came from were much larger that what was there before them, and couldn't he please check with the kitchen to see if there was something closer to what they were used to, they'd be ever so grateful.… However, the steward was apparently well familiar with both foreign drinking practices and the gratitude of nobles, and merely smiled and shook his head.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  11. myrddin173

    myrddin173 Maester

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    Alecsander and Katerina danced until he finally convinced her to let him take a break. At the drink table he notices two girls trying to deceive an Imperial steward who likely knows far more than they think, Alec makes a mental note to return and discover what the steward will find out from the girls. Taking his drink in hand, Alec begins to mingle to mingle with the other nobles, keeping an ear open for new intelligence.
     
  12. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    "Did he really tell him to 'Go around'?"

    "Oh, yes. Quite a surprise–that one's not generally noted for his nerve. And to a prince royal, no less."

    "Not to his face, I suppose?"

    "No, of course not: they'd be looking for a new duke if that had happened. But it gets even better–the Prince of Namsturming told him the same thing, once he got there. Think he would have attacked, then, if it weren't that there was no way he was going to be able to find the boats necessary for the river crossing. Fellow had to backtrack twenty leagues… I imagine he's just now reaching the mountain passes, and now there's no way he can reach the east before Ashteptu. Stars alone know how he's going to react if Graudiger gives him a hard time, too.…"
     
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  13. Eliazar

    Eliazar Scribe

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    After several rounds of dancing, Amalia was finally satisfied, so Balder had a chance to leave the dancefloor. The other pair was already gone and the odd curious stare from the surrounding nobles was much to his discomfort.

    "I am sure you would like some more to drink?" he asked his wife, who simply smiled at him, "and I need to check on my sisters and see what plans they made up now." Even from the dancing floor he could see they were trying to talk the steward into something.

    On his way to the wine table, he overhead shreds of several conversations, but as he was not too familiar with the politics in the Empire [what did "outsiders" call it again? I forgot and can't seem to find it anymore], so he didn't bother too much.

    At the wine table, he gave a short nod to the steward for warding off his sisters' assault and ordered some more wine. "How are you, dear sisters? Are you enjoying yourselves?" He took the giggle for a yes.

    Shaking his head and smiling, he engages in a small talk conversation with his family, keeping eyes and ears open for someone interesting to drop by the wine table.
     
  14. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    As it turns out, a great many interesting persons drop by the wine table–though Amalia's nearby presence, and the need to set a good example for the girls (or at least prevent them from becoming bad ones), tends to put a damper on the extent to which you are able to demonstrate that interest. At least until you happen to catch a middle-aged lady wearing the emblem of a marchioness speaking in an accent you find both familiar and out of place: out of place, because you thought you already knew the only four people in the room who spoke with it; familiar, because you've heard it nearly every day of your life.

    And while her conversation is addressed elsewhere, the course of her eyes–skipping from yourself, to your wife, to the twins–makes it plain that she's noticed the similarity as well.
     
  15. myrddin173

    myrddin173 Maester

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    As Alec wanders the ballroom he notices that there are a number of nobles not in attendance. He gives this some thought as he once again gets pulled into a dance by his beloved.
     
  16. Dark Guardian

    Dark Guardian Scribe

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    This was the first time Lothar had come to court without his father. Which was fine with him. Now maybe he could have some fun. And his wife was back home with the kids: what more could he ask for?

    A drink, for starters. Picking up a little gossip. Becoming some if he got lucky. Time to make the rounds.
     
  17. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    Becoming gossip around here is easy. Fortunately for you, the highborn ladies of the empire are past masters at preventing unwanted pregnancies–and no one in this room is likely to be looking to "trap" a baron: it's more likely to go the opposite direction.

    As for what people are saying: pretty much all of it revolves around who's going to be the next Emperor, who has the pull to make someone the next Emperor, and how many people are going to turn up dead between now and then. (The first and last of these are the subject of heavy betting, if you're inclined to attempt to make a little cash on the side.) Plus endless speculation on how the previous one really died, and who if anyone was responsible. You pretty much stop listening to that part after you notice you're hearing the same names for the third or fourth time.
     
  18. myrddin173

    myrddin173 Maester

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    It's a bit quieter than it usually is, Alec remarks to himself. Likely those in attendance would say that it was out of respect to the deceased Emperor. Right, more like they are to busy scheming to perform to their usual standards. Alec smirks, Then again isn't that what I'm doing? Now I wonder where the Archduke is...
     
  19. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    "What I want to know is, who's going to cast their vote? Countess Corinda said she's going to make an issue of it, and I'm sure others will, too."

    "Goddess, that could really put a pebble in the wheel, couldn't it? Could throw the whole election over.…"

    "Exactly. So the question is: how do we get them to choose a prince who will vote–"

    The music swells; the conversation moves away; the rest is lost.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  20. myrddin173

    myrddin173 Maester

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    Kat enters the ballroom quietly, not out of any need for secrecy for no one would expect her of anything, but rather that she is not an overly flamboyant, unlike a certain Prince. I wonder if the Council meeting is going well for Alec. I do hope his plan with her works out.

    She makes her way to the drink table where she finds the servant she is looking for. "Please tell Your Mistress that the Baroness Katerina has arrived."
     

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