Dinner Distractions

Within seconds, High Guard pour in from the doors about the room with assault rifles at the ready. Eric is quickly surrounded and by towering mountains of flesh and muscle, while Bleys pulls Manley into his arms and stands.

Both Chaosians are unceremoniously shoved under the table by Briar at the first gunshot-like sound, with an accompanying bellow of, "Get DOWN!" Seeing the King effectively surrounded by a wall of guards, Briar then hovers over the Ambassadors until the source of the disturbance comes to light, expressionless and fairly bristling with weapons that had not been apparent on her person earlier.

Kendall crouches under the table, regaining his balance quickly after the rough handling from Briar, keeping near to Brisbane in a defensive pose. Meanwhile, Juliette ducks under the edge of the table, pulling Hannah down with her as Kiara snaps around to find the source of the sound. Hannah screams as she is pulled under the table by her friend, confused and scared. But Julian places his hand on Kiara's, shaking his head. Devlin is on his feet, standing before the children, eyes intense and scanning. He appears unarmed, but this does not prevent him from looking ready for anything. Only his training keeps him from stepping on the girls.

Brin dives out of his chair to check on Random as he yells for Emylynne to get Vialle under cover. Before Emylynee can even move, however, Sir Marc Anacelegost of the Ten Thousands has Lady Vialle behind him. His sword is out and before him, cold eyes sweeping the room to locate the danger. The Lady Vialle of Rebma appears dazed, her silvery green grown now stained with scarlet.

From the floor in his broken chair, Random is laughing though, the kind of laugh one gives when he knows the cards are against him and yet, he still deals them.

Once everyone sees that Random is okay, and it was merely a leg of his chair giving out, Hannah quickly calms down. Bright red in embarrassment at her behavior, she offers her hand to Devlin for help getting out from under the table. But Juliette remains underneath it, now sobbing. Shaking her head side to side, as she mumbles to herself.

Maddy trades glances with Dev, as she slips her knives back into her dress. Lord March pulling out Princess Flora's chair for her, asking for her forgiveness for being so rough. Random is soon standing, holding up the broken chair leg. Chuckling, he says, "Guess it didn't like me either."

Under the table, those closest to Juliette hear her mutter. "No! It was proud to having you seated in it. A proud servant, wounded by betrayal… Confused… and in terrible pain!"

Fiona gives a stern look down the table as she rises, saying in a chilly tone, "Brother, your wife."

At those words, Random finally sees his wife hidden behind Sir Marc. Her gown now soaking wet with wine, the laughter… the playfulness leaving his face and only the concern and love for his wife remaining. Quickly taking her hand, he rushes out of the Dining Room with her in tow, his next words for her ears only, quieting her protests that she is fine.

Eric gives a growl at his brother's manners, ordering the guards to return to their stations. The servants move in to clean up the mess, and remove the broken chair. Juliette tugs at her mother's dress, her eyes red with tears as she pleads for her mother to save it.

Holding up his now refilled goblet, Eric addresses the room. "It seems we had a treasonous piece of furniture. Or maybe my brother just owed it some money from a gambling debt," he adds with a chuckle. "I'm sure they will rejoin us, once Lady Vialle has changed. So let's enjoy ourselves and forget this little accident." At his words, the diners go back to their meals and small talk.

Briar swears quite graphically at this, not bothering to keep her voice down. Turning to perhaps offer a hand up to the Chaosians, she pauses for a moment, staring at Kendall with an expression of surprised speculation as he returns to his place.

Kiara kneels down beside her daughter and wraps an arm around her, holding her comfortingly and talking quietly. Brin helps Emylynne back to her chair before returning to his. She seems to relax after he whispers something to her.

Getting up and brushing himself off, Brisbane thanks Briar for her concern for his and Kendall's well-being. The Chaos Ambassador seems unfazed, having this immovable calm about him as he takes his seat again.

Kendall stands at Eric's words as well, straightening his chair and settling back into it, then takes a few seconds to arrange his clothing, fastidiously making sure all is in order and smoothing his hair. He leans over and murmurs something to Brisbane as he does so, then turns back to his place setting, waiting for those around him to get settled before turning back to his other seat neighbors. His pale eyes rest for a few seconds on Emylynne, gaze chilly, before moving to Brin to finally answer him. "We shall have to meet at some point later to discuss your other questions," he remarks, still polite. "Away from the dinner table and its attendant distractions. Do you have someone who makes such arrangements for you?" he inquires.

And Briar, abruptly snapping out of whatever reverie had kept her standing there unmoving for several ticks of the clock, smiles slightly. She picks up her overturned chair - making a show of checking the legs carefully for soundness - and seats herself, keeping out of the conversation for the moment.

Emylynne slips her arm into Brin’s as she feels Kendall's gaze fall onto her. Her eyes go dark as she meets his eyes before taking a drink of her wine.

Brin shakes his head. “I have no one that does those things. My schedule has a way of changing without notice. But if we set a time I will be there.” He thinks for a moment. “At this time I believe most of my evening is open.”

Kendall considers this for a moment, sipping his wine again and setting down his glass. He nods to Briar as she settles back into her chair, then turns back to Brin. "I am not fully aware of all that is planned for the Ambassador after dinner. However, I would be pleased to arrange for a discussion tonight if my time is available. How long does 'evening' last here?" he inquires.

"Some time before the clock strikes 11 tonight should be fine," Brin says.

Emylynne utters a surprised "@#^&$#" as she notices finally that she too has some wine on her dress. Taking a napkin, she tries to blot it up. It is not too bad, and Emylynne soon has matters under control. Looking at her date, she takes care of some spots on his suit coat.

And with that the Queen walks in, childless. As she walks in, most about the room feel a chill. The huge chandeliers overhead rock menacingly on their chains, and here and there candles sputter and go out. A Knight whispers in her ear and she nods, looking at the disruption for a moment before taking her seat beside her King, touching his hand and giving him a reassuring smile. As the Queen sits again, the chandeliers stop their rocking and the candles that went out just moments ago flare back to life.

Kiara now talks to Julian in hushed tones, as their daughter laughs with her friend. Devlin returns to his chair again, as his date lays her head on his shoulder in reassurance. Fiona just stares at Morgana, her face unreadable. Bleys returns to his stories, but Manley only has eyes for his adopted mother and his unasked question to where his sister is. Flora giggles, while Lord March tries to hush her. Bleys’ date gives him a hard look, bending his ear to move over and let the boy sit between them.

The Queen returns her aunt's look, measure for measure, not breaking it until she notices Manley. "Barabel is fine love. She just didn't feel like staying for dinner." She kisses his forehead and ruffles his hair. "Now, everything your grandfather says… virtually everything, you do the opposite of." She smiles at her father.

"Corwin is here," Morgana says to her husband then, before taking a drink of her wine. Her statement hadn't meant to be heard by all but there was a pause in other conversions as she said it, and so it was that all heard it. A smile tugs at Gana's lips as she looks at her husband, already knowing his reaction. "Have I mentioned how wonderful you look tonight?" she says, hoping to ease his mood.

Brin’s head snaps up at the mention of Corwin's name, his eyes go hard for a moment before going back to his conversation. Eric’s frown only lasts for a single heartbeat, as he responds to Gana's compliment. "I am a simple moth, to your flame."

"We burn together my love," she says before giving him a kiss. "My lord Ambassador, I hope you will join us for our fireworks tonight," she adds. "I am feeling… festive."

Briar rolls her eyes and then hides them behind her hand for a moment, muttering something in an obscure language that, by her expression, probably translates roughly as, "Go find a bloody room."

"It would be a honor, Queen Morgana." Ambassador Brisbane replies.

Kendall leans closer to Briar, saying quietly, "In Chanicut, such conversations as the Queen and King just shared are usually kept private. However, I am getting mixed signals here. Your reaction indicates their conversation should be private, but no one else is reacting adversely."

Briar chuckles and responds, also very quietly, "It should be private. Everyone else no doubt considers it in poor taste to react to their monarchs’ tasteless behavior. Or possibly they find it endearing. I, on the other hand," she grins, "have no qualms about gagging as the spirit moves me, as I couldn't care less what they think of my behavior."

Suddenly the room is alarmed by a shriek, as one of the more pretty servant girls jumps high into the air as if grabbed by something behind. Everyone turns, seeing Corwin dressed in his colors with Grayswandir at his side. He grins once he has everyone's attention. Flipping the half empty whiskey bottle back in his right hand, he says, "You got to love those Farbo sisters." The pretty blond servant who gave the shriek turns red in embarrassment as she rubs where the Prince pinched her.

Briar turns abruptly at the shriek, takes in the scene, and, noting the presence of the Pattern Blade, remains poised on the edge of her seat, alternately tracking Morgana and eyeing the late-arriving Prince apprehensively. Devlin also keeps a wary eye on Corwin, though he continues his tale with undiminished enthusiasm. He has neither smile nor words for his uncle, but he is alert.

Morgana's gaze rests on Corwin and she lays a hand on Eric's arm. She rises, giving Corwin a smile. "You are late, my prince. But we saved you a place,” she says in a sweet tone, walking towards him.

Corwin waves Morgana to sit back down. "No need to get up, My Queen. I can find my own seat,” he says with a charming smile back. At this, Briar relaxes slightly, but does not take her eyes from Corwin.

A smile tugs on the Queen's lips, "Be careful, apparently we have sprites that feel the need to pinch people," she says said, clearly teasing. She sits back down, a hand on Eric's thigh.

For her part, Kiara ignores Corwin, being in conversation with Julian when he comes in. Brin turns back to the table after seeing who had arrived. He takes a long drink of his wine before returning to his dinner.

Kendall says something quietly to Brisbane, keeping his eyes on Corwin and the rest of those present. Brisbane responds just as quietly, watching this new Amber prince closely.

Corwin stops at the end of the guest tables, surveying the royal table. "Hm. Three seats open. Decisions, decisions."

At that point, Florimel stands. Turning to Eric, she addresses him. "I think it would be a good time for me to retire. I promised Erin I would play with her before bedtime."

Gana nods. "Beware, she has a liking for long hair."

Lord March stands-up beside the princess, bowing his head. "Your Majesty."

King Eric just waves a hand, dismissing both, his eyes only on his brother. Florimel gives a respectful quick curtsy, leaving the room with Lord March escorting her. The room remains quiet, as all watch what will come next with Corwin and Eric.

Morgana gestures to the open chair nearest her, and not near someone about to punch Corwin, "I hope you will stay long enough to enjoy some skylights, milord. Methinks some amazement is in order, to honor all our guests."

"Fireworks? Hmm…" Corwin says with a playful grin. "Sounds like fun."

Brin seems to be keeping an eye on Corwin as he has a quiet conversation with his date.

Kiara looks over and smiles at Corwin with a perfectly sweet smile before turning back to Julian, laying a hand on his thigh as she flirts outrageously with her husband. Corwin winks back as he walks to the table.

"Hi, Fi…" Corwin says, as he walks in front of her. He gives Sir Marc a respectful nod in greeting. The Knight responds with, "Good Evening, my Prince."

Corwin stops before Emylynne and Brin. "Hello Brin… and hello charming lady. I hope you two the best of luck." Emylynne shrinks back in her chair as Corwin addresses her. Corwin raises his half empty bottle as if in a toast. "You lost her, Brin," he says with a chuckle before moving on.

"Looking the every bit of a lady as I knew you would, Briar." Corwin says to the Captain with some affection, as he stops in front of her chair. "Nice to have you back home."

"Who, me? Lady? You must be thinking of a different Briar," says the current representative of that name wryly. "No, don't stop on my account, Uncle…you're doing fabulously." She waves him on to proceed with his monologue… shaking her head a couple of times as he proceeds to "compliment" the Chaosians, alarm the Queen, and generally make a spectacle of himself. Though once or twice there's a slight twitch at the corner of her mouth that betrays a smile held in check, it doesn't seem to be reflected in her eyes.

Taking a quick step, Corwin is before tonight's guests. "Hmmm, House Chanicut… I think I remember your guys." He smiles. "Or at least, your backsides in Thelbane." Chuckling, he adds. "You guys can run fast, that's for sure."

"CORWIN!" Eric bellows, standing now. "I will not have my guests insulted!"

Corwin gives this look like 'who me?' "I mean no insult… I actually think the ability to run away is a admirable talent." He smiles, turning to look at Brin. "We should all recognize when we're outclassed." Turning back, Corwin gives a apologetic bow. "Excuse me, Sirs. I meant no disrespect."

"None taken, Prince Corwin," Brisbane answers, his voice calm and cool. "In many ways, I agree with you. One should know when they are outclassed…" And he adds after a pause, "And when they're not."

Kendall remains quiet, allowing Brisbane to respond, only nodding to Corwin's apology, such as it was. He gives the Prince a small salute with his glass before taking another sip of his wine, gripping the glass quite tightly, but otherwise remaining outwardly calm. Eric takes his seat again, growling in displeasure at his brother's actions but remaining silent for now.

Corwin grins, chuckling. "So true… It was nice to meet you." He adds before stepping in front of Gana. Bowing, he addresses the royal couple. "Nice to see you, brother. Quite a shindig you're having here," he says looking about the room. "And I see you again brought the rarest of gems in Amber with you." He winks at Morgana. "You can judge a man by the woman he has at his side." Bowing again, he moves on.

"Bahiya, nice to see you again," Corwin says to Bleys’ date. The woman turns a bright shade of red, as Bleys’ eyes get wide. Corwin reaches over to pat Manley on the shoulder. "Welcome to the family, lad." The young boy is barely able to mumble a 'thank you.' Corwin just winks at his brother Bleys, amused at the stares that the red-haired prince is giving his date.

A few quick steps and Corwin stops in front of Julian and company. "Hello Julian… Kiara, nice to see you again." His gaze moves to the girls. "So this is Juliette… I've heard much about her." He grins. "I can see she will be a heartbreaker like her mother." Juliette turns a bright red that matches Lady Bahiya's. "I'm sure you will be beating the boys away with a stick soon with both of these girls,” Corwin adds with a laugh. "Just like when you where her age, Kiara."

"Feh," she chuckles. "Like Dad let them get within stick reach." She looks at her daughter and Hannah and then winks at Corwin. "Have to ask him how he did that. I hate bruising the lads."

"I don't think that was ever a worry of your father's." Corwin responds. "Something about pounding sense in the lads, I think." Corwin starts to take a step, but stops, turning to address Julian. "Julian, tell Her thanks… if you see Her again." Then he moves on, to say 'hi' to Devlin and Madeleine.

Gana's face paled just a bit at Corwin's words to Julian. She looked briefly at her husband, almost…the Queen almost looked panicked. Quickly the look was gone and she took a sip of her wine, her eyes on Corwin. But then she turns her attention to her son. "Your uncle Corwin likes to make a memorable entrance," she says in a kind motherly tone. "Remember what I said about our grandfather… that applies again."

“Why is it, that I always see you in the arms of a pretty girl, Dev?” Corwin continues his progress down the table. He chuckles as though not expecting a answer. "Hi, Maddy."

Devlin shrugs, "Good genes?" He offers, smiling but with little mirth in his eyes.

"Hello Prince Corwin." Maddy answers, her tone having neither disrespect nor affection. Corwin just chuckles in response, but more to what was unsaid, rather than said. As soon as Corwin has worked his way past Dev, Kiara leans over and speaks quietly again to Julian rather urgently.

"Corwin, sit down please," the Queen finally says. "As much as we adore the look of you, I would appreciate if I didn't have to crane my neck to see you." Another smile tugs at her lips.

Corwin steps up and around the table, chuckling at those seated who watch him warily as he walks by them. He waits a moment, as the servants clean Barabal's plates away and replace them with clean ones. “Is that the Promised Blade?” Manley asks, looking at Grayswandir.

"Some call her that," Corwin answers, stepping back to lean on the boy's chair. He winks at Bleys. "But she likes the name Grayswandir better." Manley nods in understanding, mouthing the word 'Grayswandir' silently.

Once the tableware is taking care of, Corwin takes the seat next to the Queen. But the prince gives a 'ouch' as he sits, standing back up to find Barabal's doll in the chair. Holding up Primula, he gives the porcelain doll a hard look, before handing it to the queen. "Looks like you daughter left something behind,” he says with a laugh, sitting back down. "Not the first girl that wanted to stick me in the ass with something sharp."

Gana accepts the doll, then hands it to a servant with instructions to return it to her daughter. "You have that effect on females. Some call it a gift,” she says with a smile. "You're going to fill my son's head with lots of nonsense tonight aren't you?" the Queen notes with a rueful look.

"Me? Nonsense? Never! Just a few gems of wisdom that I have mined in my long years." Corwin answers with a laugh. "I will leave the poker advice to Random."

Brin and Emylynne go back to their dinner as they talk with each other, seeming to ignore Corwin.

Kendall finishes up the wine in his glass, staying quiet for a time while the people around them bristle at each other, keeping an active eye on everyone's actions and reactions. Then he turns back to Briar. "Might I inquire how long you have been Captain?" he asks of her.

"Not so long…just since I returned from Shadow, a few months ago."

Just about then, the main doors open to reveal two women standing there. The Herald cautiously holds a letter in his hand, as if it is a poisonous snake. Clearing his voice, he announces, "May I present, Lady Esther and Lady Moon." The Queen looks at her husband, curious as to the new comers.

One of the women smiles as she takes in the scene, a warm expression. Her blond hair is put up in a bun, small sticks of jade keeping it pinned up. A simple moonstone necklace adorns her neck on a silver chain. Jade green and silver earrings hang from her ears, the each has three stones, the first green, second red and the third lavender. Her dress neckline is square cut, lying low on the front and back. The overcoat is long-sleeved, a dark green brocade, highlighting a full, light silk under dress with simple silver and green embroidery at the neck and wrists. Her green eyes are lit up as she surveys the room. A swirled tattoo of some sort peeks out of the corner of the back of her dress.

The other woman stands about 5'5". Her hair is dark brown, nearly black, and her skin is tanned and somewhat weathered in appearance. She does not seem entirely comfortable in her current clothing, although it fits her perfectly. She wears deep red over a white under dress that shows through as she walks. The bodice is trimmed in silver, and her shoes match. She wears black lace in her hair, which is pinned up, giving the illusion that she has more hair than she actually does. Hairpins of ivory hold the lace in place. Her jewelry consists of a very fine silver chain holding a sculpted mother of pearl pendant that seems to pick up red highlights from her dress, a moderately wide bracelet on her right wrist, silver with etched designs studded with amethyst, and a silver ring on her right hand.

A child, a girl with blond hair, peers around the shorter woman's skirt for a moment before stepping forward and executing a perfect curtsey. She looks both excited and apprehensive. Her hair is braided and pinned around her head. She's dressed in white with gold trim, and the bottom of her dress is embroidered with flowers interlaced with ivy. She's wearing gold earrings shaped like little books.

Brin and Emylynne turn to look at the newcomers with curiosity. Emylynne whispers something to Brin, he shrugs a little in response to her. Kiara's curiosity is directed more at the Herald's reaction before she sizes up the newcomers and looks back at Julian with a questioning lift of her eyebrow.

The Queen rises, placing a hand on Corwin's shoulder, and gives a look to her husband that said she would handle this. "Ladies, I am Morgana, wife of King Eric and Queen of Amber. Welcome to our Court,” she says in a sweet voice. "How may we help you?"

The blonde woman turns to the other lady and speaks to her in English, and translates what the Queen has just said.

The brown-haired woman begins to speak in Thari after the first woman translates Queen Morgana's words. "My name is Esther," she says. Her words are carefully formed and carry a strong accent. She looks around at those assembled. "I have come to petition the Throne in order to claim my birthright." She produces a cream colored envelope and extends it in front of herself. A few people can see that it is sealed with yellow wax. "Those who sent me gave me this as introduction." It's quite clear by now that she's memorized this speech; the cadence and inflections are just enough off to show that she's not completely comfortable with the words.

When she speaks again, it's in a dialect of English. The blonde repeats in perfect Thari. "A thank you to your Majesty for your welcome. I will wait to introduce myself till you are done reading. The young woman with Lady Esther is Lady Charity of House Fardriel, Esther's interpreter."

Morgana smiles at the girl. All at court know her weakness for children. A Knight steps forward, takes the paper and hands it to the Queen. She opens the envelope and read it silently.

Briar just sighs quietly at the latest arrivals…her thoughts could scarcely be more plain on her face if she were to pull out an actual list and add a couple of items to it: More Stuff to Look Into At Earliest Possible Opportunity. Morgana folds the paper, "What birthright do you seek, lady?" She asks, her tone gentle.

Esther responds through Charity. "I have been told that I am a daughter of the Royal House of Amber. The man who told me so caused clean water to flow where no water had been previously. He said that I had been lost, that the Unicorn had sent him to find me so that I might claim my birthright. He was not more specific."

Kiara looks over at Gana and smiles. "Well, your parties have never been dull." She leans over and whispers to her dark-haired daughter and the blonde girl beside her that are staring at the newcomers. Both girls look a little embarrassed, but at the same time excited at whatever Kiara said, as they go back to eating their dinners.

Moon looks about the room at the various dinner guests. For one brief moment she looks quite lost, and then the smile is back on her face as she watches the Queen and King.

"And the little girl?" The Queen asks, "Whose is she?"

Charity curtseys again. "I'm a daughter of House Fardriel of Amber, your Majesty. Our House was hired to teach Lady Esther Thari and to teach her the ways of Amber. Since my—" She pauses here, her voice and her poise both breaking and an almost overwhelming grief shows through. Esther puts a comforting arm around Charity's shoulder, and she continues. "Since my aunt's death the night before last, I'm the only member of House Fardriel fluent in Lady Esther's tongue." Charity looks up at Esther and begins a rapid translation of both the Queen's questions and her own response.

Esther smiles at her in response and begins to speak. She looks directly at the Queen for a moment, and then addresses herself to the girl.

Charity first looks a little stunned then seems to become hopeful. She translates Esther's words carefully, "That is my second petition for the crown, your majesty. With Baroness Mima's death, Lady Charity is left without a guardian. I know that normally such things would be left up to the head of House Fardriel, but… Baroness Mima was kind to me, and Charity has helped me find my way here in Amber. I would like to be her guardian."

Esther's attitude seems to be a cross between an attempt at quiet dignity and a barely suppressed urge to grab the child and run for it. Charity, probably without even realizing it, has taken hold of part of Esther's dress, crushing the fabric in a small fist.

Morgana listens, her face caught between sadness and amusement, "Lady, I will not steal your Charity," she says. "If it is the girl's wish, then let it be," she commands with a wave of her hand. "I would see that no one is an orphan in our kingdom. And you, Charity, have our sympathies for the loss of your aunt. I am sorry for her passing.” Charity ducks her head a little at the condolence, and then remembers where she is and curtseys yet again. Tears trickle down her cheeks, but she still manages to translate for Esther.

"As for your first petition,” the Queen continues, “my husband and I shall speak to you in private regarding it. The dinner hall is not the best place for such things."

Esther nods at the Queen, and then goes down on one knee next to Charity. She uses a bit of her dress to wipe away Charity's tears, then puts her arms around the girl and whispers something. The tone of her voice sounds encouraging. Esther stands up and steps back.

Charity looks at the Queen and says, "Please, your majesty, I told Lady Esther last night that I wanted to stay with her. With my aunt gone… Nobody wants me." She moves over to stand by Esther and takes hold of her dress again.

The Queen looks at the letter in her hand and gives a long sigh. "No Charity, Lady Esther wants you. And she shall raise you as you wish."

Esther speaks again, and Charity translates. "That was the more important matter anyway. The other can wait as long as it takes. I apologize for interrupting your meal." They both fall silent, and Esther looks at the other woman with her.

"Do you wish to retire? Rooms will be made for you shortly," the Queen says, and a wave of her hand sends a servant out of the room.

Corwin, watching what is going on, smiles. Standing, he hops over the table to join Morgana. With a dashing flare, he bows to the two newcomers. "If the ladies wish, I could escort them up to their rooms."

Bleys also rises from his chair, only to get pulled back down by his date. She shakes her head as she waves a finger in front of his face. He grins, shrugging his shoulder in defeat and lays a hand on her knee. Bleys gives the exotic woman a quick kiss on the lips, begging her forgiveness.

"We would appreciate that very much," the Queen says with a nod. "I put them in your care, Prince Corwin."

The blond woman who has quietly stood watching this whole exchange, says, "While I am a friend of Esther's, I come here as my own person too. I am Moon, sent here on pilgrimage of sorts."

"And what do you desire of us?" The Queen asks.

"To have permission to stay here in Amber, and learn what this place is like. I don't have any other place to go. I've somewhat of an orphan myself, having lost my own mother.” She chuckles. "I arrived here in a similar manner to the way that Esther got here. I have skills, I am an artist," she adds and then falls quiet.

Morgana smiles. "Moon, you are welcome to stay, in the morning you and I will have tea and speak of these things."

"Fanatastic," Moon replies enthusiastically.

"Now, if any of you are hungry, you are welcome to join us or I shall have dinner sent to your rooms," the Queen offers, returning to the table that had some spaces.

"I would love to stay if you don't mind…. and if you don't mind," Moon says as she looks at Esther.

Morgana chuckles, "Tis why I offered. Come and join us." She gestures to an empty spot and rejoins her husband.

Moon walks forward in a swish of green silk and takes a seat at the table. She looks round at the people surrounding her, waiting to see if anyone will introduce themselves.

After sitting down, servants step in to place a table setting before Moon. A wine steward fills her glass, as another servant inquires to what Moon wishes. He informs her that the stuffed quail is just fresh off the grill, served with an almond sauce. The red-haired woman to the left of Moon just watches, enjoying her dessert as her green eyes travel up and down Moon, but not in the way one looks at another person… more like one who is examining a thing or puzzle.

Once the servants leave, the older man to the right of the redhead rises from his seat, addressing Moon. "My Lady, welcome to the table. I am Sir Marc Anacelegost of the Ten Thousands, Lord of the Black Watch. The charming and beautiful lady to your left is Princess Fiona." Fiona tips her head in greeting, her green eyes sparking in the candlelight. Sir Marc continues, "While your clothing looks fresh, my Lady. Your eyes tell me that its been a weary distances for you to our table. So as a gentleman and Knight, I can only ask if there is anything I can do to ease your worries?"

"Hello," Moon greets them both. "I have a ton of worries, but I do not wish to bore you with them. Tell me, I do not wish to be rude, but I'm not from around here, what is the Black Watch?" she asks.

Before Sir Marc can answer, Princess Fiona speaks up. Her voice as cool and unemotional as the wine glass she holds in her hand. "Worries? As young as you are… I doubt it." Setting down her glass, she returns to her dessert.

"The Black Watch is those Knights pledged to protect the royal children, even at the cost of their own lives," Sir Marc takes his seat as he speaks.

Esther and Charity confer quietly for a moment then look for space at the table. Charity seems to be keeping up a quiet commentary to Esther. Esther for her part looks with interest from face to face.

Corwin escorts the Queen back to her seat before returning to make sure Esther and Charity are settled in their chairs. Waving the servants away, Corwin personally sees that their plates are full, selecting their dishes for them as he engages in small talk.

"House Fardriel, hm?" Corwin says, filling her glass with Children's Wine. "Been a long time since I visited your House, perused your libraries. I'm sure that I have some books in my room I can donate to your house,” he adds with a smile.

"Thank you, Prince Corwin,” the young girl answers after taking a drink. "I have always enjoyed your music." Giving a 'thank you' as Corwin lifts her up, to allow a servant to slip a cushion underneath her. While still a little scared, the child falls back on her training. "And House Fardriel thanks you."

Esther adds through Charity, "Prince Corwin, I'm pleased to meet you. Lillian, House Fardriel's Librarian, informed me that the maps they have from my home, Yerith, were donated by you, so I was curious."

As that is going on, the blond bosomy woman to Esther's right reaches out with a hand. "Hello. I'm Madeleine but my friends call me Maddy." She turns in her chair to let Esther see past her. "That handsome devil to my right is Prince Devlin." She adds with a warning tone, "He's mine."

Devlin looks up from entertaining the children and punctuates Maddy's statement with a kiss on her cheek. To Esther he smiles, "Hi there. Sorry, I was in the midst of a tale…and I hate leaving such things unfinished. Welcome to Amber!"

Esther smiles at both Madeleine and Devlin even before Charity translates. Her response makes it clear that she understands at least a little bit of what's just been said. "Forgive," Esther says in awkward Thari. "Two days only Thari I have." She gives Prince Devlin an appraising look, then grins and adds through Charity, "Definitely handsome, my lady. On the devil portion of the comment, I'll have to defer to your expertise."

Devlin chuckles, "Oh, ask around…" he laughs some more.

"I will. Eventually." Esther smiles at Devlin then lets her eyes dart to Charity, implying that there are questions she won't ask while she has to use a child as an interpreter. "I'm sure you can find plenty of… mischief."

For some reason, that makes Devlin laugh more, "To say the least, fair lady, to say the least!"

The huge gold chandeliers throw their light on the four tables sitting before the royal table, some one hundred medieval Lords and Ladies seated at them, dressed in their finest. Many eyes watch the new quests, as they whisper amongst themselves.

Kendall nods politely at the newcomers, waiting for things to settle back down before turning to Briar again. "And what did you do before you came to Amber?" he inquires, carrying on the conversation from before.

"I did a lot of things. Most recently I was working as a military advisor and sword-for-hire, helping a rather forgettable monarch observe an ancient tradition of war against his ancestral enemies." She makes a noise that might indicate amusement or disgust, or both. "Rather a sad state of affairs, really. It had been going on so long that neither side could remember what they were at war about anymore. They had to keep inventing new reasons to fight."

"Tradition can be a very difficult force against which to fight," Kendall observes gravely. "Traditions are often the very ideas and rituals that define who one is. In this way, they are necessary. Do you not have traditions here in Amber that assist in affirming a person's identity in the House or in the Kingdom?" he inquires.

"You could say that," says Briar dryly. "Some traditions make a bit more sense than others, though, don't you think? If you forget the reasons for doing something year after year, it eventually becomes no more than a habit."

Kendall considers her answer for a long moment before asking, "Which solution do you consider most effective: creating new traditions, or creating new meaning for the traditions one has?"

"Either. Both, maybe. Or searching until you find the old meaning again…or doing without them entirely. Anything's better than just going through the motions for the sake of going through the motions."

Brin smiles as he introduces himself and his date to Moon. "Welcome to Amber. I am Prince Brin of Arden and son of Prince Julian. This is Lady Emylynne of Arden." He motions to the young blond woman seating at his side, and she nods and smiles in response.

"Hello," Moon says to both. "What is Arden like?" she asks, looking at both of them.

"Arden is a place of great beauty and mystery. It was a wonderful place to grow up in," Brin says with a smile.

"Do you live there now?" Moon asks.

Brin nods. "Yes I do, I'm in charge of security along the King’s Highway that runs through Arden. If I may ask, where do you hail from?"

"I have lived most of my life in a shadow city called San Francisco, a pretty fun city to be in. I only arrived in this world a few days ago," she says.

"San Francisco," Brin muses as if he is trying to remember a familiar name. "Ah yes, now I remember shadow Earth," he says with a smile. "I haven't had a chance to visit, but my Aunt Florimel had plenty of tales about shadow Earth when I was a child."

Moon takes a long sip of her wine. "It is certainly different. No magic. They have electricity, and the whole city is full of hills, always something going on, and something to do."

"I will have to visit your home city at some time in the future." Brin says with a nod. "A lot goes on with Amber city, but that would be Devlin’s specialty.”

"What goes on in Arden?" she asks.

Devlin hears his name and grins. "Arden? Tree-hugging, doggie-love, and horse-play…" He hefts a glass at Brin. "I'll let him give you the straight answer though."

Brin returns the gesture to Devlin before returning to Moon. "Well Arden’s culture is much different then that of Amber, the people of Arden are much more in touch with the forest then those that don't live there." Brin smiles. "If you don't mind the rustic life, hunting, fishing and such, or the scenic beauty of a grand forest. It's a great place to live or visit."

"There used to be some great parks near where I grew up. My mother used to take me there when I was little," she grins devilishly. "However, I'm more of a city girl now. Give me the nightlife and a little excitement, and I'm there."

Brin grins. "I'm sure you will find that the city of Amber has a very interesting nightlife."

Eric gives his wife a kiss on the cheek, impatient to end the dinner but allowing their new guests a chance to eat. He looks up as Juliette approaches, a servant in tow. Curtsying, she addresses the royal couple. "Queen Morgana, may I have a moment of your time?"

Morgana rises. "Of course Juliette," she says, placing a hand on the girl’s shoulder and maneuvering them away so they can speak more privately. "What is it?" everyone can hear her say.

"So Kendall, how do you find Amber?" The King asks, while Brisbane is busy with his dessert. "I'm sure that my daughter could give you a tour later, if you wish."

"It is difficult to say exactly, your majesty," Kendall answers after a moment's thought, rather surprised to be addressed by the King. "I have been here only briefly, traveling through the countryside so quickly, and so much seems so different at first glance. A tour would be most welcome; but-" he glances briefly at Briar, "only if the Captain wishes."

"The Captain is agreeable," says Briar. "Though I'm afraid it will have to be a fairly brief tour. I've got a lot of kettles on the stove at the moment."

Kendall's expression turns almost comical as he tries to reconcile what Briar just said with the context of the conversation. "I take that to mean you are very busy at the moment. That is a very colorful statement. I shall have to remember it for later," he replies seriously. "But you are too kind. Perhaps the tour might be divided into parts. You may begin with the stables tonight." He smiles again, eyes warming.

Briar makes a gesture of gracious assent. "As you like. I've always wanted to take a stroll in the hay with an exotic foreign gentleman." Her smile is innocence itself.

Either Briar's innocent smile is something of a giveaway, or Kendall's learning to assume more to what she says. His faintly puzzled and thoughtful expression gives away some sort of question on his mind, but he doesn't respond right away to whatever that might be. Instead he nods, still very formally. "You do me great honor," he answers.

Kendall turns back to Eric. "It would appear all that is settled," he adds. "Thank you, your Majesty. I should be very interested in seeing much more of Amber." He then turns his attention back for a time to whatever sticky-sweet dessert had been put in front of him.

Briar also turns to her own dessert, with a slight smirk that quickly turns to a look of anticipated sugar-shock. "Ye gods. Diabetes a la mode, with whipped cream even. What'll they think of next?"

Eric simply nods in responds, letting Kendall enjoy his dessert in peace as the King returns to his talks with Brisbane.

Back to list of Kendall's game threads
In Amber: Segue to a Soiree

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