Inouv 37, 228: Festival of Lights Dancing

Festival of Lights Dancing
Summary: Festival of Lights with the lighting of paper lanterns to set afloat on the sea, as well as dancing and many pastries to be enjoyed by all. Duke Aidan Kincaid arrives from Lakeshire.
OOC Date: 26/12/2013 (OOC)
Related: Other Festival of Lights logs.
Players:
Ronan Roslin Nimue Faerinia Shepard Moira Nima Aidan Victoria Ray Aldren Kierne 
Tournament / Faire Grounds, City of Stormvale
The fairegrounds are big enough to hold a great many people, during festivals. They are really just a huge field, with a platform at the center, which is used for performances and announcements as is required. Grass never really seems to grow though, as the tents, pavillions and feet of each festival stamp it out. And just as it is beginning to regrow, the next festival arrives.

During a festival, the fairegrounds bustle with activity, whichever festival it might be. Many vendors set up tables and booths, selling everything from hotcakes to swords. Bards play music and poets recite their latest poems. Artists of all shapes, sizes and typse can be spied around and about the grounds. The scene is quite festive.

It is a winter day. The weather is cold and overcast. The planet Cri is not visible.

Inouv 37, 228

The Festival of Lights has brought a great many people out into the cold to celebrate. There are lanterns and colored lamps hanging everywhere. Decorations of the Eight and anything which can even remotely be reminiscent of the idea of light are strewn about.

Tantalizing scents from food carts waft through the air: spiced lamb, roast beef dripping with juices, seasoned potatoes and other vegetables that can survive the winter, fried sweet cakes, all hot and being served by smiling vendors.

Fires can be found in strategic locations with benches set around them in concentric circles. When people grow weary or wish to sit and enjoy their delicious fare, they gather in these places and chat.

Of course, the clergy are out in full force, notable by their white cloaks with either golden embroidery or golden fringes. Beneath the hems of the cloaks, their similarly pale robes and boots can be seen. Each priest, priestess, and acolyte (always accompanied by a full-fledged member of the cloth) carries a small lantern containing a single thick white candle to represent the Light.

"Oh Master Baker." Victoria will lament softly, staring at that hand pie in absolute disappointment, "You wound me." A hand presses to her chest, chilled fingers laying in amongst the carved leather just below her collar bone, "Just one?" To Shepard she will murmur, "All choocla is to my tastes, truly, anything sweet seems to beckon me forth, and yet the master baker here will offer me but one pie to satiate my woes." It doesn't stop her from of course digging into her top with a quick snag to grab out her coin purse after a few buttons are undone, and then into her other hand the coins will go, "You know by now, Master Baker, that one will never do." Oh, an almost smile as she sorts, pulling out a patin and holding it out.

Into the fray come nobles from the castle on horseback followed by a carriage for the ladies. Armed guards in House Kilgour and Sutherland's colors, among a few others, provide escort. Once they stop on the tournament grounds, room is made for them by the guards for the nobility to disembark. Like any tournament, for the most part the grounds are given over to the common folk to enjoy but there are stands and a dancing area set aside for the nobility if they wish to remain apart. And for those who wish to mingle, they may do so if they so please.

Into this, the Duke of Sutherland dismounts from his horse and hands the reins of his stallion over to his squire to attend to. Despite it being the Festival of Lights, he is dressed in black for his House is in mourning. Ronan smoothes his doublet and the lay of his cloak before he goes to the carriage to assist the various ladies down as a noble knight ought to do. First out of the carriage is the Princess Roslin, to whom Ronan offers his hand to give her proper escort.

Ray relinquishes the pie, takes the coin and explains, "This is what you eat while you while you make your order, Mistress." He explains, offering the cart stepping to the side, then looking to the carriage and horses. oh my. He starts fussing over his cart and baked goods.

Roslin is dressed warmly. And richly. As royals are want to be. She is adorned in a heavy purple cloak, hemmed in white fur around the sleeves, hem, and along the front where it is knotted shut to hide any glimpse of her true outfit underneath. The cloak has a high, fur neck to keep her warm, but even still she is pale in the cool evening. Upon her crown of red braids, in the place of a normal gold tiarra, is a hat, matching Kilgour purple and brimmed in teh same fir, with a silver tiarra sewn there. Her gloves are white and fine, and she moves with the grace of a woman who has been taught from birth to do so, when so many other children were learning to survive. She smiles, happily as her green eyes cast up to the light, and she leans in to speak with Ronan. As they are apart from the masses, perhaps not every word can be heard.

Victoria will tuck away her coin purse, pinning back those buttons into place before that pie is taken, the woman bringing it up to her lips. And then the bite, and she nearly dies in that one bite. She almost drifts away to go and sit away, but then remembers there are more, more! And then the carts and horses roll in and the woman will make a noie in her throat mid-bite. And then another bite, then another, the woman in much the same poses as Shepard is with his as she waits for her order to be completed.

Shepard finishes polishing off his own pie, and casts a brief look of amusement towards Victoria's obvious gusto. He nods to her once more, "Enjoy the festival, Mistress Skyhawk." And then a nod to Ray, "Master Baker." He has spotted Moira and Aldren now, and starts to head in their direction, before pausing when the mild commotion of the Royal party arriving is made. So he pauses, watching with mild curiosity as Roslin and her entourage disembark.

Laine finishes eating his pastry and sausage roll, resisting the urge to pat his stomach when he is done. He rises back to his feet, looking around again now that he is no longer focused on slaking his hunger. Seeing that there appears to be no trouble, he begins walking again, his steps slow and measured.

And then, coming up on her brother just before he settles back to watch the arrival of the Princess, int he voice of their old Nanny, Elspeth, "Master Sheaprd - you will get markings up on your face should you keep eating the sweets like that." Ah, perhaps saved from retribution as she, and Aldren, both then turn to regard the Royal Entourage. Still and all, now that her face assumes a serious mein and a laughing glance towards Aldren, ther eis a distinct twinkle in her eyes.

While Roslin is dressed regally as befits her station, Ronan is dressed entirely in black, even to the color of the wolf pelts that line his thick cloak. Tonight he looks less the Duke and more the Rioga though he is not wearing armour. He assists Roslin from the carriage and bows to her, saying something low in return. A smile for her and then the Duke of Sutherland escorts Roslin a few steps so that the other noblemen present may assist the Lady Nimue and other ladies down from the castle carriage.

Ronan walks a few steps towards the Festivities, "There is dancing tonight, the lighting of floating lanterns, an array of excellent foods, music, and much merry making. I would be pleased to accompany you in full or in part, whatever your preference in the matter, Your Highness." The Crawford raises his fre hand to cough into his fist, adding something low. Otherwise the Duke awaits the Lady Nimue and turns his head to make certain she is all right … there being crowds and all.

You whisper "I am Rioga, before ever I became Duke, Your Highness. It is my place to serve and protect the Royal Family upon occasion." to Roslin.

You whisper "Otherwise I'm likely to fall in with my fellow knights and drink entirely too much." to Roslin.

Ray sets up a blueberry, and raspberry pie for Victoria to move onto. He's going to do this conveyor belt style, feeding Victoria in waves to see how long she can last. Nodding to Shepard as he goes back into action, fueled on sugar. He looks to the direction of the higher blood, with a commoners fascination for a moment before going back to setting his goods on display.

While not exactly sure why she has agreed to come out it was hammered (gently and proverbially, of course) into her head that getting out of the castle would be a good thing, hence why Lady Nimue is present with those just arrived via carriage. Dressed in a gown her maiden picked for her upon hearing about the impending outing, the noblewoman has dressed slightly out of character for her. The deep brown velvet gown she has donned has a daring neckline and a low back although those details are kept mostly hidden, especially the back thanks to the warmth-providing cloak she wears. Her hair is done up in a fancy crown of braids which are left unadorn by tiara or pearls or anything of the sort.

She is helped out but she stays close to the carriage, not yet ready to face the people just yet. The Duke is given a nod and a quick smile but for now she is quiet.

Faerinia arrives from the Ruxton Street.

Victoria makes another noise in her throat, grabbing up the two pies - she'd go on forever if she could but the place is getting more and more crowded as people brave the cold, "Mmmm - I'll pick up the rest later, Master Baker, always a delight." A quick dip of her head to Shepard, and the Huntress is moving off before she has to do any more bowing to more nobles. All words said around a bite of the blueberry, the black clad woman quickly moving out through the crowd to disappear, likely into a drink tent with her pies.

Something that the Duke of Sutherland says causes the Princess to giggle. She keeps her arms slipped in with his, as is appropriate for a woman when she is being escorted by a man - at least, among nobles. Who is to say how commoners escort each other. And, in case there was any concern, two Kilgour maids stand back out of the way, bundled up and watching. Roslin turns to face the man at her side for a moment, speaking softly for him, before looking back over her shoulder. "Lady Nimue," she calls softly. "Please, come and join us. The Duke and I were just discussing what is the most beautiful part of the evening. I have said the smell - I simply adore the smell of spices in the air. Her smile, for the Lady, is gentle and reassuring.

Roslin whispers "And we are always grateful for your service, Sir. I cannot think of anyone else's who I appreciate more. But I also cannot imagine you in any state but that of level-headedness. Still, I would not keep you from all the gaity of the evening. Please do not let me hinder you in any way from enjoyment."

Shepard turns and glances to Moira with a bemused smile, leaning over to give her a brief peck on the cheek, and actually murmuring a soft question to her, having assessed the royal party and making a guess as to their identities. Hoping his sister can confirm so that he doesn't embarrass himself by not recognizing important people he hasn't met yet.

Shepard mutters to Moira, "That would… the… her….the… Sutherland?… it?"

Moira nods towards Shepard, taking a moment to pat his arm when he gives her a peckon the cheek. Eyes going in the driection again of the entourage with a smile at the sight of the Princess coming to enjoy herself at the Festival a smile graces her lips. Then, she leans and murmurs something to him in return. From the direction of the castle, a man in Haravean livery arrives, searching and scanning the crowd for a figure and, when spying Aldren, begins to make his way in that direction.

Nimue steps forward but does go out of her way to keep herself from being too out in the open; while having done better about being less skittish while within the castle walls she finds that courage faltering and she stands a bit closer to Ronan than what might be proper. "Thank you, Princess. I don't know what I enjoy the most, myself." Surely the festival here is not unlike those they might hold back where she calls home but this somehow feels different.

Looking over and up at Duke Ronan, now, she watches him curiously before daring to speak to him. "Thank to you and the Princess for letting me come out with you. I do hope I will not dampen the festive mood for you both."

Moira mutters to Shepard, "Yes,… She… charming… lady,… thik…. the other… Sutherland - quite the noble gentleman."

Something the Princess says to him makes the Duke smile a little, even if he is too oft a dour and serious man. Roslin is so tiny and so young on his arm as he makes some low reply. Ronan then looks to the Lady Nimue as she joins them, "I will look out for both your interests tonight, lady Forrester. Be at your ease. There is much here to enjoy this eve and plenty among us to provide amble escort." Since you know, she's liable to be uneasy with abductions and the like.

The Duke looks stern for a breath, "Nonsense, Lady Nimue. You are no damper to the Festivities. I shall myself dance with you, if you'll have my company. But first, I will escort you both to where the lanterns are being lit. I'm told there are two kinds… those that are being released upon the water to float away with prayers to the Gods for the coming year, and those that are being burned as offerings, decorated however you please."

A pause ere Ronan continues, "Or would you rather have refreshments first and make introductions?" The Rioga looks to see what the women prefer, he playing the part of escort.

You whisper "You hinder me not. I enjoy your company a great deal." to Roslin.

Out on business, the young healer and one incredibly anxious boy apprentice depart the tent pegged out for those overindulgent and taxing their bellies to the limit, amongst other organs. Clad in charcoal, Faerinia is hardly dressed for the day with her robes of creased black when she approaches the swarming crowds with the youth not far behind, his arms overflowing with medical supplies for the day.

Roslin tosses a smile the Duke's way, before resuming her place in the conversation. "I have every intention of lighting a latern to the water, myself," Roslin says contently. I find them ever so beautiful, and would like very much to have my hand to one of those. If you think it is safe enough for us to go that way, Your Grace, we shall move. Unless the Lady Nimue prefers a drink, or a dance first." Once more, Royal eyes move to the noble Forrester beside her. Her voice drops for the woman, and Ronan, being the closest, is likely the only to overhear what is spoken clearly.

Roslin mutters to Nimue, " As I have said on another occasion, My Lady. I do enjoy very much having a friendly face nearby. Otherwise I find I am often lost in a sea of aquaitences, each begging my pardon or complimenting me for something or other. Your presence shall give me strength tonight."

Shepard nods to Moira, then looks up and follows her eyes to the Haravean man headed their way (well, Aldren's way, really). A curious expression flits across his face, and he flicks a glance to Aldren, but remains silent for the time being. Hopefully it's not bad news.

"Perhaps we should ask for whatever blessings might be given to us upon the approaching new year first before any celebration is to be had. That way we can start on the correct footing. And, like the Princess, I too would like to send a lantern afloat." The way Nimue speaks is almost timid but there are moments when she finds a reserve of strength that comes to her voice. Must surprise her when it does as she goes wide-eyed when she hears that. Turning slightly, she smiles to Roslin and leans in closer to the Princess, using Ronan's nearest arm as support when she does.

While she shares a whispered reply she looks around, finally becoming at ease thanks to Roslin being so sweet and Ronan's vow to keep them both safe.

With a quick voice and soft one, the liveried man whispers something to Aldren, who gets a broad smile up on his face at the words. Moira looks to him, raising an eyebrow. When no word is forthecomign forom Aldren, her gaze still curious, she looks to her brother, taking Shepard's arm for a moment. "And, are you anjoying yourself, brother? You should go make your introductions, Shepard. T he Princess and I have met sometime ago, and will be working on a project after the Long Nights. That is, unless she has changed her mind. If you like, I can go with you, and my lord as well?" giving Aldren a quick look again.

Faerinia wends through the group, until the cluster of nobles catches her attention, drawn by the sight of faces she recognises. Off they troop, the pale lady and her struggling servant of the day, his own cheeks reddening at the illustrious company on show. From her belt she detaches a small, tightly strung pouch to grant the boy with a few whispered words. "I will attend to the duties outside, go and purchase yourself…a pie? Personally sample the reason for our presence, from overindulgence." Supplies exchanged, the boy is convinced to set off, tuneless whistle on his lips.

Shepard nods to Moira once more, and seeing Aldren momentarily engaged with the messenger, he tilts his head in the direction of the Royal party, "By all means, dear sister, I would be honored if you would make my introduction." He looks briefly to Aldren, who waves them off, still speaking quietly to the messenger. Shepard chuckles a bit, then tilts his head to Moira, "Shall we then?"

Ray looks around at the other vendors, restocking while everyones attention is on the more refined blood. He sets his wares up for selling. A boy comes up and buys a pie filled with a light lemon custard, and sends him off to feed, and continues setting up his goods.

Moira nods, dipping to Aldren before taking Shepard's arm. As they make their way towards the Entourage, she murmurs "I see you still ahve not lost your sweet tooth either. he would do well in Ashenfeel with his pastries although I do miss our old cook's apple pies." She then flows along on Shepard's arm, while Aldren, that smile still on his face speaks to the liveried man, glancing towards the castle.

"Very well then, let us make our way in this direction." Ronan leads the way for both the ladies, Princess Roslin on one side and Lady Nimue on the other. Not far there is a booth that is very popular, especially with women and children. Children all over the place, happy, smiling, eating Ray's delicious pastries, running around darting around the adults to laugh and play. Likely enough a little sticky hand is bound to get sweets smeared on fine dresses but likely enough the nobility won't notice too much and their hand maidens can tsk, tsk over it in the morning. Meanwhile a few guards do their best to clear a way for the noble party.

Shepard and Moira will catch up with them there as Ronan stops to allow Nimue and Roslin access to the tables. The members of the Textiles Guild are delighted at the arrival and two of their women begin to give the nobles their due attention while the others continue assisting the children and commoners. "We have made many thin papers and panels of thinnest silks to use. Fine wooden frames to enwrap, or if you prefer, we also have already made lanterns you may paint and piece with small candles to lay within them." The women goes on to lay out the materials and show the options available and many finished samples are on display to be lit and released from the water below the castle. A well lit path leads off, lined with guards to keep a sharp eye that everyone remains safe coming and going from the festival to the water and back again.

Ronan keeps an eye out all the same, taking his escort duties seriously. "Ah, Lady Moira Kerrigan, the betrothed of Count Aldren Haravean, yes?" She the Duke knows, though not the man with her.

Ray has been fretting over his wares, so by this time, fresh meat pies, with savory gravy, fruit tartlettes, and full hand pies with various fruit, creme, chocota. All the colors and smells of decadence are represented by Rays wares.

The Princess Roslin moves to the stand with her head high and her hands clasped lightly before her. She bows her head a little to the women who are assisting them, smiling graciously to them both. "I must confess, Madame, I have little talent for the assembly or decoration of such delicate things," the Princess admits, once the women are finished speaking. "I should be very happy to select one of those prepared to set into the waters. Perhaps one that the children have finished, if they may be so kind as to bestow one upon me?" The Princess turns to the children gathered, bending down at little to address them. "Might someone have a lantern that I may light upon the waves?" Naturally, in addition to Ronan, there are several Kilgour guards around, making sure that no one but children, Nobles, and the two ladies can get close enough to thrust a dagger. Roslin glances back at Nimue to see how the woman is faring herself.

Dipping in an elegant curtsey, Moira speaks in her smooth voice, "Duke Sutherland, a pleasure to see you once again. May I present to you my brother, Lord Shepard Kerrigan, who has replaced my brother Drogan's presence at court until Father arrives. he would be most delighted, whens he is not occupied, with making his presence known to Her Highness as he's not and the privelege earlier." She galnces over momentarily towards teh lantern making area, "And as well, we would like to make our own lantern"

Aldren is still speaking with the livereied man, and they seem at the same time, to be making their way /away/ from the festival. But this can be hard to say as the areai is crowded and thronging with merrymakers.

Nimue is slightly shakey but doesn't allow herself to be thrown too much off kilter, for now. But that discomfort does spur her decision when it comes to finding a lantern, the noblewoman picking one already made instead of taking the time to making one of her own design.

Roslin's look is caught and she gives the Princess a smile as she shows the one she will be purchasing. It's fairly plain, perhaps made for a commoner in mind as it couldn't possibly be more than a few small coins in price, and is very plain. "I like this one, don't you Princess? Duke?"

Moira is given a polite nod of greeting but she is now quiet again, her gaze lowering as she listens now.

Faerinia trails behind the noble party, relatively independent of any handmaiden to frown at the multitude of children that in their delight are insistent and more than slightly lemon sticky fingers to smear her dark robe. Hampered, the Kincaid would frown except the whooping noises of children affects her enough to manage a strained smile for their play. A single girl stands out, for the bony limbed whippet seems to be struggling valiantly to keep up with the stronger, ruddy faced bunch. The sight gives the young woman pause and walking over to where she is a little distance from the retinue, stooping to exchange words. "Do you like chocota?"

Shepard reaches to place a hand to his chest, lowering his eyes briefly as he is introduced to Ronan, "Your Grace, a pleasure and an honor to make your acquaintance." When his eyes lift again, a pleasant and polite smile lies upon his features. "You squired for Lord Connelly did you not? I saw him in the tilt at a tournament when I was a boy. It was quite a peformance. I would dare say that he played his own part in inspiring me towards the path of knighthood." He looks to Moira and nods, "Indeed we do. We have many blessings to hope for in the coming year."

"Yes my lady." The little girl baulks from the pale woman, with her smoke coloured spectacles and soft intonation that denotes her position. Locating her courage to speak, out comes the quiet observation. "Are you ill? Mother says pale people are and you're the palest I've seen."

"Oh me!" or "Pick mine!" and "Take mine!" Several of the children get very excited at Princess Roslin's request, parents and children alike trying to give their lanterns to any of the nobles who will accept the pretty gifts, ready to light. After all, they'd have boasting rights and then can make another! They aren't free but they are far from costly and in any event, Ronan reaches for his coin purse and fingers out several silver to lean in and place on the table, plenty enough to buy many lanterns. "Any the Princess or Ladies wish, and use the rest for children who can not pay." It's an uncommon gesture on the stern Duke's behalf but it is Festival.

Ronan turns his attention back to the new arrivals as he secures his purse, "Ah, the pleasure is mine, Lord Kerrigan. It is Duke Crawford however. Sutherland is my Dutchy, not my surname, my lady." A small detail but important detail. Ronan lifts a brow, "Did you now? Lord Sir Connelly was decidedly a man to watch, Gods rest his soul. I learned a great deal from him, though I must confess I never took much to tournaments myself. I'm too much a soldier for such pageantry."

Roslin turns to smile once more to Nimue. "It is perfect, My Lady. Just the thing to carry your prayers." But there are screaming children to be seen to! And while the Duke's little payment is not seen by the Princess' eyes, she does take pleasure in the excitement of the children pushing their lanturns at her. She finally motions forward, and a small boy, maybe six from the back, comes up with his own lanturn, decorated with brushes of blue and gold. "What is your name?" The Princess asks. The boy answers shyly: "Kier." Roslin seems to like him all the more. She does well enough with the boy - she is no Princess of the Mob, as her sister was once known. But she seems to put the boy at ease a little by offering her hand. "Kier, shall we walk down to the water to offer our prayers to the Gods for the year?" The boy looks back to his mother, a chubby woman who almost squeals as she urges her boy along. The child takes the Princess' hand and starts to move with her down to the water, Kilgour guards all around. "Are you ready, Lady Nimue? We may all walk down together."

It seems like the party is moving on and Nimue's more than happy to move with them, allowing for Ronan to come with them or stay behind to visit as he wishes. Stepping up to the side of the Princess opposite of that which the child walks on, she holds her lantern in both hands, delicately as if it were made of the most fragile materials known to man. "Do you know what you'll be praying for, Princess," she asks, mindful not to talk over any attempts at conversation the boy might be trying to make with.

"I had my phase where tournaments were concerned." Shepard replies to Ronan, a bit of wistful amusement crossing his face, "I did not fare too poorly at it but once I saw real combat the pageantry lost much of its' luster. Valuable, perhaps, as a means of building spirit and morale, and keeping skills sharp in more peaceful times, but…" Shepard shrugs a shoulder, his expression somber, not finishing the thought…not overly feeling like he -has- to. Duke Ronan is a fighting man. He no doubt understands. He pats Moira's hand on his arm, casting a glance to all the lanterns being peddled.

A child offers Moira a painted paper lattern as well, though the noble ladies could have opte for silk ones to paint for themselves, if they prefer. The little girl beams, "Please .. my mama, she's from Greenshire 'n she says you a Greenshire Lady! I painted my lantern greens 'n yellow, see?!" It's a blotchy but pretty lantern the child offers up.

Ronan indeed will accompany Princess Roslin and Lady Nimue. He smiles, watching Roslin lead the little boy by the hand down the path. The Rioga looks back to Shepard and nods, "Aye, understandable. We do what we must to stay fit so no shame in it, Lord Kerrigan. I could stand to be better with a lance myself, though I am good upon a horse. I prefer a blade in my hand once the initial charge is past." He has fallen back a few steps, the ladies in the lead. Ah, and now they come to the water at last, lanterns hung on poles to make all well lit. Many lanterns are floating out to sea and children are playing on the pebbly beach, casting those the waves bring up back out into the cold water with long, thin poles.

"I do not know," Roslin answers honestly to Nimue. "I suppose that depends on Kier." As they reach the water, the Princess stops and crouches down again, being careful not to get her cloak's white fur in the mud. At least, as much as that can be helped. "What would you like to pray for, Kier?" Roslin asks the boy, meeting his eyes. Or trying to - the shy little master keeps glancing away. After some heming and hawing, the boy finally admits. "Chocola. Every day." Roslin smiles and nods. "And I shall pray for the safety of our men who will take the field in the coming year to defend their King and Country. So let us see our prayer off safely." The woman and the child bend, with some coaxing, to push the boat off into the water after an assistant has lit the candle. "For chocola every day, and the safety of our soldiers." She pats the boys hand, and turns to Nimue. "And you, Lady Nimue? what shall be your prayer, this year?"

It is strange to think of prayers of peace when a conversation about perferred weapons and such is happening behind them, a weird contrast Nimue can't help but to pick up on. "I just pray that we all will find a way to be… friends," she murmurs, that sounding so lame, so child like for how simply stated her own wishes wind up being. Her lantern is set out in the water and she watches it being cast off, her eyes filling with tears. "Now to hope that the Eight will grant us what it is our hearts desire." Even chocola every day.

With a glad heart and a happy smile, Moira lifts her arm from Shepard's, going to the child's level to properly admire it. "Oh, this is quite lovely, young one. it remeinds me of the ones my brothers and I," regarding Shepard for a moment, "..used to make when we were perhaps, a bit smaller than you. "This is so lovelry, iam sure the God's will hear belssings quite cleaerly at the sight of such a lovely creation." She touches the child's cheek a moment, "You are quite lvoely as well, my dear."

Faerinia tries to smile, the penetrating glance of a child able to unhinge her composure in a trice. Joined, the two head towards where the lanterns are presented to the Kilgour princess. No painted lights for the Kincaid this year, though a few enterprising youths have blotted the dark colours of the House in an attempt to create a different look. One of them has created a dappled fingermark of grey, black and silver and with a quiet sentence has the healer barging in without anything more than barest decorum on the pathway, girl in tow. Turning to her charge, the lantern switches hands, surprise on the careworn face evident. "You…pray for me." A demand turned into a question, gaze intent upon the upturned face that echoes her own.

"Indeed. We should not forget to pray every day, not just today." Roslin leads the child back up to the group, allowing him to run off to his mother. "I try to, as much as I am able. But pleasing the gods is a constant struggle," Roslin admits gently to the Lady Nimue. She turns then to the Rioga escorting them, smiling to him upon their return. Some soft words are said to a maid nearby, and then, at last, the Duke of Sutherland is addressed. "As I recall, there was some mention of dancing, Your Grace. Did I hear wrong?"

Shepard glances over and smiles to the little girl, nodding briefly to Ronan and crouching down to be closer to eye level with the little girl. He withdraws a generous coin and presses it into the little girl's hand. "Tell your mother that we pray for her health and good fortune in the coming year, along with that of all the folk of the Green." He winks and ruffles the girls hair just a bit, rising to his feet just in time to watch Faerinia's arrival. He tilts his head curiously, a glimmer of a smile flitting on his face, "Lady Faerinia. All is well, I hope?"

Nimue looks down as her lantern is borne away by a current, her hands clasped before her, her left still wrapped in a concealing swaddling, silken cloth now instead of the bandages she used to wear, her right covered in a fur-cuffed glove of kid leather. Her mouth moves silently while she prays, her expression mostly blank save for a faint misting over of her eyes. Thankfully they never fall and she's able to keep herself presentable. "I think I could use a dance," she comments, sniffling. Could be the chill, could be the way she almost cried.

Ronan stands attentively, his gaze going to Faerinia as she comes down the path right behind them, "Good evening, Lady Kincaid. Good to see you enjoying the Festival of Lights." The Duke stands with his hands hooked loosely in his arming belt as the women folk set their lanterns afloat onto the cold water in the darkness. Children run around laughing despite the cold, warming it with their enjoyment of the evening and all it has to offer.

The Duke's attention slips back to them as Roslin turns to himself. Ronan smiles, "Indeed there is dancing. It would please me a great deal if you each would allow me the pleasure of a dance." If they are finished, he would begin to escort them back up to return to the tournament fields where the Festival is in full swing. Even down here by the water they can hear the music and festivities, the smell of baking and laughter. It's hard to believe it is yet Inouv's month with such celebration to see it go.

Roslin moves with the Duke and the Lady Nimue to where the dancing is, but of course the guards keep anyone from getting too close. If there are those with assasination or foul deeds in their hearts, they will have a tough time seeing such ideas through tonight. "I wonder, is it a part of the Rioga's regimine to learn how to dance? Or is that a skill that you aquired on your own, your grace?" The servant, by now, has slipped away to make some manner of arrangements as were whispered by the Princess. But the other maid still hovers nearby, attentively. As they pass, Roslin glances to Moira and gives the woman a smile and a nod of respect. The Kincaid woman gets one too, although it is a bit colder. Strange, perhaps.

"Our tent is full of revelry, my lord." Faerinia matches his smile, watching the little girl do her upmost to scurry towards the water, thin legs pumping and skirt whipping in the wind. The Duke is next, concealed eyes turned on him. "Your grace, it was a spur of the moment. Spending the eve inside seemed to be a waste of the oncoming night." The girl stands at her full height, allowing the dark shade of weariness to not cloud and bend her this night, hair blown and face made pink by the fitful breeze. For Roslin she grants bare courtesy, possibly disencouraged by the cool reception into a mere slither of a smile.

Roslin gains a faint smile from Ronan, "It is the task of every squire to learn to dance, if his knight sees to his more courtly duties as we are supposed to do. I teach Keirne to dance and see that he practices with young ladies suitable to his station, precisely as Lord Sir Connelly did with me when I was a lad." The Duke brings the noble women up to the dancing area. Ronan's ear and gaze catches the coolness of interchange between the Princess and the Kincaid, a slight lift of dark brow. Rather than commenting upon it, he looks to each of those whom he escorts.

"Which of you would care to dance first? Princess Roslin, or you, Lady Nimue?" Roslin of course gets first choice as due her rank, but she might wish to observe or she might prefer to dance with someone else other than himself! The Duke awaits their pleasure.

"Now I suppose it is a matter of which of us the gracious Duke will dance with us first," quips Nimue lightly. "Perhaps he'll pit the two of us against each other in some kind of physical match. Sparring… mayhaps wrestling. Winner gets to dance firs…." Ronan causes her to shut her mouth quickly and she looks at Roslin, deferring to the Princess.

Shepard bows at the waist as Roslin passes, greeting her with a simple "Your Highness." But he makes no effort to interrupt her progress towards the dance, waiting until she and her party have passed before looking back to Faerinia, "If you speak of the healer's tent, I believe it may be filled with a bit -too- much revelry. Unless I mistake the purpose of it being here." He watches as the little girl accompanies Moira to set the lantern to the water, a fond smile playing across his face before he looks back to Faerinia. "Do you dance, milady?"

"If the Lady Nimue would not mind, I could benefit from the warmth of movement. And, of course, if His Grace does not mind." She smirks a bit at the man, stepping over to him and offering her hand if he will take it. "I daresay it shall be a short dance, for I can little feel my feet and if I try to be at all adventerous I will make quite a fool of myself. But a little, just to warm me up." She looks up at the Duke, now awaiting his response.

Having been there a short while already, Nima and her entourage had kept away from the main thoroughfare, preferring to explore the less busy parts of the faire grounds. Only now, once it seems the events are tapering down for the moment, do they make their way among the others, Syri, Nima's maid and lady in waiting, carrying a few packages of purchases made throughout the day.

"I cannot dance, in dereliction of my noble service to entertainment." Faerinia turns a shade darker at her admission, tone dry. Her expression softens perceptibly at observing the little girl and her feeble exertions, youth blighted early by the hinderance of ill health. "It keeps the spirits of those less able to participate up." Spoken more to herself than him, volume low.

<FS3> Ronan rolls Dancing: Good Success.
<FS3> Roslin rolls Dancing: Good Success.

Ronan removes his heavy black cloak and lo and behold, there is Kierne showing up just in time to step up as if on cue to take it for his lord. Yep, doesn't take long to see to the horses but it did take him a bit longer to wander around the Festival grounds and actually find people he was looking for. The Duke of Sutherland bows low to the Princess and offers Roslin his hand indeed, "It would be my pleasure, your Highness." Get him now before Ronan gets into his cups with Aldren somewhere.

Kierne makes a motion to the musicians to you know, get them to STOP THAT and play something suitable for NOBLES to dance to! Yes, that's much better. Good squire! And so, Ronan faces Roslin and after giving a formal bow, he begins to lead her through the estampie, other couples also taking to the floor. While the pair dance together, they also form a ring that interweaves with the other pairs to return to the circle again.

As the music plays, Ronan's attention is now upon Roslin and her swirling skirts, and how she moves. His gaze may catch hers at parts as their hands touch and part again, turning away and coming back with the music. Too bad the Duke is dressed in entirely too sombre black.

Nimue steps to the side after bowing her head to the others, making sure enough room is given to Princess and Duke as well as the others who desire to dance. She draws her arms inside her cloak while she happily observes, not yet noticing anyone who comes into the area for now.

Moira returns from putting the lantern afloat, Kayla and Harlik following behind. She pauses a moment to touch the small girl's cheek, before her eyes look for her brohter. Thus, she makes her way to Shepard, pausing as Faerinia speaks to him. WHen there is a moment, she offers her greets to the pale woman. "Lady Faerinia, a pleaseure to see you again. Do you enjoy the festival so far?, reaching to take Sehpard's arm.

The removal of Roslin's own cloak and hat reveals that the woman is dressed in heavy red brocade, trimmed in fine gold thread and pressed with patterns of roses. She leaves her white gloves on, but otherwise is dressed quite warmly - warm enough that as they all begin to dance, she will be well. A usual gold eight-pointed star hangs around her throat. She moves with the grace and poised of one well practiced in the dance, smiling a bit more as the steps go on - smiling to her partner. At last, as they begin to cross paths, neer touching but for the hands, a few words pass between them, and indeed, the Royal looks quite gay in the moment. But then, who does not love dancing? No doubt even the common folk do, and are lined up to see the fancy garb and steps of their betters.

Roslin whispers "You really must dance more often, Your Grace. You cut such a handsome figure in motion."

Shepard does indeed offer his arm to Moira when she approaches, smiling fondly to his sister and then looking to Faerinia, "Ah, I see. There is no shame in it, Milady. We cannot be talented in all things, no matter how diligently we might try." His smile towards the pale-haired girl is reserved but warm, and the tone makes it sound more teasing of himself than of Faerinia. For a moment, his attention turns to the crowd, and he tilts his head curiously when he spots Nima and her own entourage, glancing to Moira with a questioning expression.

Faerinia warms a little on his show of self abasement lightly and deftly performed, granting the lady sister on his arm a bend of the waist. "Yes, my lady. Perhaps you are to dance in my stead? You make a worthy dancer. I have not the finery for it." Plainly furnished robes do not make a colourful display, referred to with a wry twist of the mouth. Nima and her entourage she glimpses, reserving any remark for the present.

Everything most proper is being observed and as Ronan will dance with several of the ladies tonight, no reason for anyone to think anything of his having the first dance with the Princess Roslin. She gets his attention when they pass with whatever she said low to him, his gaze for a moment tracking her before he moves on and briefly does a turn with another man's woman as the dance pattern shifts, the others following suit. They interweave and come around again, the dance coming to an end after a time with the Duke regaining his position across from the Kilgour Princess.

Another formal bow and a faint smile, "You flatter me, Your Highness. It is not something I oft have occasion to practice, dancing. The Gods willing, I won't embarrass myself too badly this eve."

If she will allow him, Ronan will escort Roslin back off of the floor to where the Lady Nimue awaits her turn, next. "Thank you for allowing me."

Moira murmurs something to Shepard, then to regard Faerinia, a gentle smile on her lips. "I would be honored but I think you should have that honor. And, in regards to finery for dancing, it needs no special attire at such as this. meaning the Festival. "Music and dance, at least to me, need only to be enjoyed. Shepard is quite the dancer and I am sure you would have a most wonderful time should you agree to join him."

Roslin lowers herself into a curtsy as the short dance comes to a fast conclusion. Her maid hurries up with her hat and her cloak, and she wraps herself up in them. "You are too kind, Your Grace. Do enjoy your evening, if we do not speak again." She nods once more and moves off the dance floor, returning to her ladies and her fleet of guards. Tyrel would not have it in any way less.

When Duke and Princess return Nimue smiles and bows her head. "Very lovely. I hope I can dance as well as Her Highness did so I will not make a fool out of anyone." Especially Ronan who'd surely bear the brunt of the shame if she is to somehow make an ass out of herself on the dance floor. She waits for Ronan to take her hand before daring to move onto the area set aside for those brave enough to try their luck, her face now bright red.

Pressed and acknowledging the forces that seem to be collaborating against her reserve about any kind of dance, Faerinia gives herself up to the hour, unresisting as she is led out to be guided stumbing at first on the basic steps. Growing more fluent in the edges of the finer, more vivid dancers to weave and twirl round them, hands to clasp and unclasp at the intervals. Leaning in when they meet to fix her eyes, over the circular frame of her spectacles. The colour all the brighter for the dark cloth she wears.

"I don't know about a lack of finery, milady. I think the contrast of light and dark can be quite striking." Shepard replies to Faerinia with a smile and notes, "The invitation stands, milady, and trust me when I say my dear sister does have a way of convincing people that her suggestions are indeed the proper course." He does reply quietly to Moira's murmur, smiling to her once more and patting her arm, then disengaging himself and offering a hand towards Faerinia, "Shall we?"

Shepard mutters to Moira, "… you…"

<FS3> Shepard rolls Dancing: Failure.

None of the Kundari are dancing at the moment, though they seem to be watching those that are. Nima is wearing the vivid colors of her House, the turquoise and gold saree. Syri is dressed in the same style, though hers is pale red and silver. After watching several turns on the dance floor by many different people, she collects her cloak from one in her entourage, and decides to depart the faire grounds.

<FS3> Nimue rolls Dancing: Good Success.

If Faerinia was worried, she shouldn't have been…at least not for herself. Perhaps it's been too long since he had the opportunity and he's out of practice, or perhaps he's more nervous than he seems, or….for whatever reason, Shepard just seems a bit out-of-step this evening. He manages not to step on Faerinia's feet, but only just, and perhaps not surprisingly, brings the dance to an end at the earliest opportunity that remains within the bounds of politeness, actually seeming a bit troubled, "My humble apologies to you, Milady. It seems I've lost a step or three somewhere along the way. Or perhaps had a second left foot added when I wasn't paying attention." He smiles, "You however, were most certainly overly humble regarding your own talents." He bows slightly at the waist, an apologetic smile on his face, "I hope next time you might find a partner worthy of them." At least he takes his uncharacteristic bout of slight clumsiness in stride, it seems.

"My lord, we all stumble at times." Faerinia gives no further platitudes, the robe clad healer stepping close, elbows and footwork to part a path through the amassed bodies busy in their own worlds. Once face to chest with him, the glasses are taken off to give him an uplifted gaze, fingers trembling. Just a compassionate look, no more than a fleeting brush on his arm with her still unsteady hand before time and place reasserts itself to lend decorum and distance again. "Might you desire a little refreshment to steady the third foot into compliance?"

<FS3> Ronan rolls Dancing: Success.

"And you, yours, Your Highness." Ronan smiles a little to Roslin, his gaze following her briefly before he turns to bow to Nimue, "Lady Forrester, may I have the pleasure?" He does take her hand if she will allow him to, and the Duke also notes her very red face, "Are you all right, my lady? You need not be embarrassed. It is only a dance at Festival. No one will pay us any mind." Other partners are taking to the floor or already there as the next set winds down. The Crawford waits until the music begins anew and then he lifts Nimue's fingers in his own larger hand, "Shall we?"

He formally bows to her as his role in the dance requires, then once she has curtsied, Ronan will begin to walk around her and put his arm up over her crown of braids for Nimue to pass under and around himself, then let her hand go to walk around to the next partner with whom he'll briefly dance, turning to come back around to Nimue and touch hands briefly as the music plays. He watches her, not familiar with this lady but pleased to draw her out to share the dance. "See? You are doing fine."

Little cause to dance has presented itself, lately and Nimue finds herself fearful that she'll have forgotten how to do so. Thank the Eight for a partner who is very good and a song that's prerhaps just a little slower than normal festival music which allows for them both to take steady, measured steps.

Guided well, Nimue flows into the turn with Ronan and other partners alike, each gentleman gaining a respectful bob of her head before she's once more in place with the partner she began with. "Thank you for such kind words, Duke Ronan." She somehow manages not to giggle but the urge, curbed as it is, remains, leaving her to feel giddy and even happy.

Shepard tilts his head as Faerinia meets his gaze. There is a flicker of surprise there at the full revelation of her unusual eyes, but it's laced more with curiosity than shock or revulsion. "You are too kind, Lady Faerinia, and while under most circumstances I might think that refreshment would be inclined to make the matter worse rather than better…I think I might make an exception and see if we can indeed put that third foot to rest." He offers his arm to Faerinia, still smiling, and while there's a slight tinge of embarrassment on his cheeks, he certainly doesn't seem to think it worth fretting -too- much over.

Moira goes to take a seat on one of the benches, not noting therefor any discomfort on the part of Shepard and his dance partner. She does, however, take note of the others dancing before her wandering gaze touches back on the duo. She /slmost/ breaks into a chuckle at Shepard, but quickly turns it into a slight cough.

Ronan is trying not to be glum of spirits. It is a Festival after all and with a great many difficult things upon his mind, there are sometimes pleasant moments or hopes. His mind had drifted but returns to the dancing and the lady with whom he's partnered as they do another turn, "You are welcome, Lady Nimue." The Duke eyes her briefly at the giggle and then they turn and part again to circle and come back around again. Ronan takes up both of her hands for the walk one quarter of the way in the circle with the other dancers before they counter circle one last time. Their hands part and meet again and then the dance winds down.

"Nothing to fear tonight. Thank you for sharing a dance with me. Would you care for a glass of wine? There is much yet to sample here at the Festival." The Rioga looks to see where Roslin has slipped off to but Ronan no longer sees her. He watches the others around them briefly and offers Nimue his arm if she wants to find a vendor.

Faerinia puts on her spectacles once more, to wedge her arm in the crook of her dance partners. More poised and collected than the muscular knight at her beck and call for tonight, sparse with her speech. Nor does his relative loquacity seem to loosen a tongue willing to stay quiet and instead be the listener tonight for the most part. "The mulled wines are reputable enough, by the drunken songs in the tent, it was mostly the stronger fare, sent them reeling." She does not appear to catch the cough of the amused Moira, presumably distracted by the novel sight of one more off balance than she.

Did the giggle get away from her? It could very easily have done so, not that Nimue would have noticed thanks to how her heart was racing and thudding in her ears. When the dance reaches its inevitable conclusion she curtseys, her head and eyes lowering when she does. "It was wonderful. Now to hope there will be more chances to dance." Perhaps at another festival or maybe even a ball, somewhere dancing is not only the norm but is to be expected.

The Duke's arm is taken and she too looks for the Princess but she feels confident enough in her men to be of an assumption that they have gone with her to wherever it is Roslin wanted to go. "Wine sounds wonderful, Your Grace. I do think we should allow ourselves a glass and perhaps talk a bit to get to know each other better." If the latter is forward she'll offer a heart-felt 'I'm sorry' but only if someone points it out to her since in her mind there is nothing wrong for a Lady to wish to get to know another nobleperson better.

Ronan watches the other dancers briefly and nods his head to Moira in passing. "I'm certain there will be. Spring will come and Festivals, tournaments, and marriages will be celebrated." You know, until most of the men are drawn away to war. "Certainly. I think I saw a wine stall over this way." The Duke leads the way off of the dance floor and begins to meander through the Festival. Kierne re-appears and gives Ronan back his cloak, who pauses a moment to put it back on over his wide shoulders. "You are warm enough, Lady Forrester? I expect three is warmed mulled wine to be found." After his cloak is settled and his squire coming up behind, Ronan finds the stall. There are many choices, some of them hot.

Shepard seems to catch that little cough from Moira, turning an amused smile her way, and offering a free hand towards Moira, the smile turning warm, "Join us, Moira. We could all do with a bit of refreshment, I think." And surely it's purely a coincidence that he just happens to be inviting a related female family member and by implication her maid along with the pale-haired noblewoman whose maid seems to be nowhere in sight.

Harlik goes to get a warming drink of mulled cider for Moira and Kayla, whilst the two women sit and watch those who are dancing, the children still playing and the general merriment. She spies the small girl from earlier (who gave her the lantern) and beckons her closer, lenaing to whisper into her ear. A side glance goes towards Shepard, then back to the small girl and the two share a joint laugh. Murmuring also to Harlik, he then escorts the charming little girl back to the mother, handing her a coin, saying a few words to her - at which the mother looks over and smiles widely.

Nimue takes pause to figure out if she truly is alright before answering Ronan. "I am more than fine, thank you, Your Grace." It helps that her cloak is lined with more fur than what is common, more akin to the kind an outdoorsman or ranger might wear, plus her face is still a bit pink with blush which helps to lend its own bit of warmth to her. Now having assured him of her current state of well-being, the conversation can return to things that are not temperature-related. "I might have to ask my brother, the Count, if we can host a ball. Might be a pleasant way for me to find happiness again."

Ronan's own cloak is very thick, double layered wool and then lined with black wolf pelts - it makes him almost look like a bear instea of only a man. But it keeps him warm, used to riding off across the country for days or weeks at a time for knightly duties or travel as required as Duke. He purchases a cup of dark red wine himself and also pays for whichever Nimue desires to drink.

"A ball would be nice, something anywhere in the south would be warmer than this, Lady Forrester." Ronan half turns to look back towards the dancing, "Either way, I should return soon to Sutherland myself. There is much yet to be done ere spring is upon us."

The Lady is not one to often drink, that being a 'hobby' she leaves for her brothers to enjoy, but the mulled wine does smell good and Nimue asks for a cup of the same. "Thank you, Duke Ronan." Her eyes sweep as much of the festival grounds as can be seen from their shared vantage point before she says anything futher, herself.

"If you'd like, perhaps we could pool our resources and hold a ball jointly, Your Grace." She pauses and can not herself and takes to frowning deeply. "Ah. What a shame. But I suppose that is true for just about everyone. I am sure Harmon is in the same position. When do you think you will be returning home?"

No poison taster to check his wine. Ronan is about to take a drink of it when Kierne steps up and plucks the cup out of his hand. What?! The Duke looks at his squire and then oh, yeah. He frowns though, not caring for Kierne to put himself at risk for his Duke so but well, the young man is almost as stubborn as Ronan himself. The cup is handed back after a long moment, reminded that that his kin were murdered.

"I will be hosting no balls, lest it be a marriage banquet, Lady Forrester. I have a burned keep to rebuild and no where to easily host such event. Nor much time, for my efforts need to be focused primarily on the war. I have lost knights and need to raise up squires, and train horses, and find shipwrights, secure ships to protect Sutherland trade, and…" well, the list goes on and on, gold mines to inspect and protect, murders of his brother and family to hunt down, a wife to secure and an heir to beget.

Shepard escorts Faerinia over to the wine vendor a short distance away, and orders and pays for two cups of mulled and spiced red wine, offering the first to Faerinia, then claiming one for himself before moving them back over to where Moira sits, smiling to his sister and gesturing for Faerinia to take a seat close by if she's so inclined.

The whicker of a Belysberry Warmblood has some at the border of the festival grounds anxiously backing away from the heavy muscled wide chested animal, snorting deep breaths of white warm plumes into the night air. Upon its back is a man that sits rigid, followed by a small group of riders, a bannerman that's actually still bearing who it is. The grey warmblood paws in the snow and muck as the flurry of snow only seems to aggitate the animal further. Only a stiff movement from the rider sets the animal off at a slow sedate walk, moving in further to the festival grounds, a banner of silver and black flapping aimlessly behind them as the bannerman moves to follow. The party is much smaller than the one that initally approached the Castle earlier that evening, but it would seem, that a woman is with them - meek and frightened. Poor Faerinia, she'll recognize who it is rather quickly as the imposing figure of the Duke of Lakeshire rides purposefully to find his wayward kin.
As the crowds begin to prevent the horses further movement, Aidan dismounts with the rest of the party, one of the men running up to take the reins of his warmblooded horse and find a proper place for them to be tied. Words are grumbled and the timid woman comes along with him, almost unwillingly, as if she would rather curl up somewhere and hide. As for a guard or two, it would seem that the sword at Aidan's hip is all he needs to dissuade the passionate. A heavy cloak billows slightly with his steps, noting the vendors idly, yet, it would seem each step has more of a purpose behind them than to pay homage to the merchants.

"That is a shame to hear it, Duke Ronan. But I do hope that you'll at least have the time to attend if I am able to throw such an affair." The meekness shown earlier has left, Nimue emboldened by the company she's in. Ronan's bravery seems to have rubbed off on her and she's not quite as afraid to speak openly like she had been on their way to the faire grounds. "I will be sure to send you ample notice so you'll have time to make the appropriate arrangements."

The horses are noticed and she turns slightly, her body suddenly pressing against Ronan's. It isn't that she is trying to be rude or impose upon his personal space but the group of horses and the men riding them trigger a rather instinctive reaction and she all but cringes and almost cowers where she stands.

Taking a seat and left entirely unaware of the presence to encroach the festivities with the chastised Venya in tow, Faerinia allows herself to partake of the richly spiced and warmed wine. Cloying to her senses in light of her sour, heavy tea brew and invited, in the warm company of the moment. Her back turned most coincidentally away from the event unfolding not metres away, that she is a central player.

<FS3> Aidan rolls Perception: Good Success.

Moira nods towards Harlik a moment, sending him towards Shepard while she and Kayla rise. TWhile Harlik speaks to Shepard, Moria and Kayla rises and when Harlik reurns, they depart followed by some of Aldren's guards.

<FS3> Faerinia rolls Stealth: Good Success.

Duke Crawford lifts a brow at the Lady Nimue's insistence that yes he'll come if she hosts a ball. And while he likes a woman with spunk, before he might give her reply she is then pressing herself right up against him?! The Rioga is rather surprised, so Ronan looks to see what has suddenly made the Forrester noblewoman almost cower. Well? Looking, see another nobleman arrived, his guards in attendance.. Ronan lifts up his baritone as well as a hand, "Uncle!" Yes, a bellow far better suited to a military field than a polite inside voice.

The Crawford looks to Nimue and pats her arm, "Come! Do not be fearful, wo- lady Nimue. That is the good Duke Aidan Kincaid, and my kinsman. I will make introductions." If you know, Nimue will let Ronan drag her forward on his arm rather than try to hold him back. On Ronan's heels, young Kierne Kincaid also comes, eager to see his uncle as well.

Shepard sips from his own cup of wine, nodding to Harlik when he moves over to inform him of his sister's retirement for the evening, and nodding to the man before he departs. He looks to Faerinia a moment, then back towards the healer's tent. Then Ronan bellows, and it's loud enough to attract Lord Kerrigan's attention, though he merely turns to cast a curious gaze in that direction, which at this point may or may not bring him face-to-face with the Cousin of Duke Crawford in question.

A gloved hand lifts up to stall whoever means to interject on Aidan's space, be it merchant, commoner, or noble. An albino after all, wasn't -that- hard to spot in the crowd. And it would seem just as someone was walking up toward him with an intent to say something, his eyes spotted her - thus the abrupt gesture to quit any voices that would be sent his way. Or put them on hold. He's like a blood hound and right now he's certainly on the trail. He instead looks back to Venya and when the woman doesn't move fast enough he's pulling her by the hook of her elbow. She winces not because of being harmed but because of the terse words spoken to her that keeps her a couple steps behind when the Lakeshire Duke moves forward again.
Aidan's gaze at first lands on Shepard as he approaches Faerinia from behind, as her back is turned. The look that he assesses Shepard at isn't necessarily a friendly one off the bat, more of a suspicious father wondering what matter of relationship has formed when he wasn't looking. Face to face indeed. "Forgetting something, niece?" Aidan says with an easy effort that while it threatens does much to welcome, a contradictory pitch which she would know means she's going to suffer some sort of consequence from this. Venya steps forward hesitantly and curtseys, sheepishly sending Faerinia an apologetic look.

Well, at least Nimue can relax when it is made obvious that Ronan knows the man who had her scared. It does take a moment for her to recover her wits and join Ronan when he insists she meets Duke Aidan, making him have to drag her by the arm, linked as hers is through his. Clearing her throat, Nimue curtseys politely. "Your gace…" But then Aidan's attending to something else and she's left in mid-dip. This… is awkward.

Aidan has likely spent the last two or three weeks, at least, in the saddle getting to Darfield from Lakeshire. It wasn't the best season to ride after all and deep snow made the trip in spots trecherous. Thus, imagine his irritation when he found a maid in work of his niece without his niece. Unsavoury things that needed to be dealt with. Yet, the maid is delivered and his point has come across. So now he's left to deal with the awkwardness of having cut off familiar greetings with others for this. "Forgive me nephew-" he says this while he turns back to Ronan and Nimue, "-I have ridden long and was very eager to see my niece." For reasons that may become clear from the situation unfolding.

The dissonance in his pitched introduction has Faerinia twist round abruptly, puppet whose strings have been unceremoniously sliced by the chill knife edge. Venya she cannot look at, eyes unwaveringly on her uncle and leige, world contracting until for her there is only him and her with his stare boring past the flimsy metal and quartz glasses, straight into the eyes widened by terror. "Uncle…" Spared for a breath with the raised shout by Duke Ronan, the poise peeled away from the girl entirely.

Well, it will take them a few minutes to get through the crowd and even up to where they might bespeak the newly arrived Duke. Ronan doesn't mind to take his time if his kinsman has something he needs to deal with first. The Rioga nobleman stops and glances in Faerinia's direction, then back to Aiden, "No problem! Deal with what you must. I nonetheless offer you welcome!" Well, this is intersting. Look at Faerinia so stiff and turned around so sharply. Ronan is in no hurry. He tastes his wine and finds something suitable by one of the many bonfires to offer Nimue a seat, "Warm yourself, Lady Forrester."

Turning then to Kierne, Ronan's baritone rumbles, "Go and get our horses. It is about time for us to head back to the castle." The young Kincaid nods to his knight and turns to go and do as he has been bid.

Shepard returns Aidan's gaze unflinching, carrying an expression and poise that is neither disingenuously innocent nor furtive with guilt, but simply natural. He rapidly does the mental arithmetic to deduce the man's identity, and lifts a hand to his chest, casting his eyes downward a moment and speaking clearly though not unduly loudly: "Your Grace." And then….he falls silent for the time being. He will address the man further if and when he is spoken to.

The offered seat is taken and Nimue takes the time to do as Ronan suggests. Soon she is warm - too warm, just about - and she finds herself slouching just a hair as she relaxes. This was too much excitement for her, the festival as a whole was, and the yelling from the Duke of Sutherland to his kin as well as the shock to her system Aidan's arrival caused leaves her feeling suddenly weary. "Returning… I should do that myself, soon." Of course that'll mean having to hunt down Roslin and her group to do so, unless she can manage another way back.

"It has been some time since I've been in Stormvale," Aidan replies insouciantly toward his cousin Ronan again, offering a polite smile and a gentle bob of his head, not quite the blood hound now that he's delivered the message, "I appreciate the welcome." His eyes turn back to Faerinia as she barely breaths out a word to him, "It pleases me to find you. I take it word of my arrival did not find you?" Clearly. His head turns back around though as he hears the mention of a Lady Forrester, family bloodlines are as they are, his mother a Forrester. "Lady Forrester?" he reiterates in a cordial tone, "Forgive my oversight, Lady Forrester. I did not mean to interrupt your evening." The movement from Kierne has him catching the sight of his nephew, nodding once at seeing the boy going as asked, without complaint.

Faerinia springs into life at the reprieve, coaxing her vocals into speech. "It did not, your grace." Full title in place, she spares Lady Forrester and Shepard a compassionate glance, her excitement faint on spotting Kierne, the nephew and by virtue of his training entirely divided from the mainline Kincaid. Mostly she remains put, the frantic pulse barely perceptible against the fine skin at her neck. The enthusiasm he exhibits forces out a light exhalation and dark look when she is certain the Duke Aidan has his back turned away, her courage faltering at any verbal rebellion.

Nimue nods her understanding of the arrangement made for transport back. "Then I shall retire for the evening, with permission to do so." While not wed to any of the men presently here she defers to those of the stronger, less-fair gender although she will stay if so much as one of them bids her to stay instead of retire for the night. "It was a pleasure meeting you," she offers to everyone, including Shepard whom she just now notices.

It isn't long ere Kierne is returning with two horses, his own bay gelding and the Duke's fine dappled grey Sutherland stallion. Ronan takes a seat next to Nimue on the bench long enough to draw off one of his riding boots and shake out a small stone he must have picked up on the trail down to the beach earlier for the floating of the Festival lanterns. He wipes mud off of his golden spur and then tugs it back on. A sip of his cooling wine and then he finishes it off, standing once more.

"The carriage can ferry you back, Lady Forrester. It will come and go all evening for the noble ladies to and from the castle. I would offer you Kierne's gelding but he has naught side saddle and you would have to sit astride." Very inappropriate for a lady! Ah, and there is Aiden returning his attention. Ronan takes the opportunity.

"Yes, this is the Lady Nimue Forrester, sister to Count Harmon Forrester. And this is Duke Aiden Kincaid, my Uncle through marriage to my late aunt." Proper introductions are important things! Kierne stops and offers the reins of Ronan's stallion to the Rioga, then bows with a big smile plastered to his face, "Uncle. So pleased to see you!"

Aidan is giving his attention now more squarely to the Lady Forrester and his cousin Ronan, due to the fact that it appears by all evidence showing now, that they are about to leave for the evening. Only a matter of time before he can properly see to family affairs. Until then, he continues with the proper respect due and granted in order of importance. "Of course," Aidan replies as if was slow to recall who she was, a proper way to address a lady he has not personally met though should have at some point by now, "How good to meet you, my Lady." The mention of his lady wife has a resolute nod showing through, "The Crawfords are my kin." At least, more surely, his children's kin. As for Nimue's state of mind, he does not pursue any further conversation, save for, "Have a splendid evening then." To his nephew, "It is good to see you doing well by his Grace Ronan. We should get the opportunity to speak soon, I'm sure. Good evening to you all."
Aidan, once assured that Ronan, Nimue, and Kierne are leaving, pivots back around toward Faerinia and her mysterious escort. "You are?" rather abruptly, direct to Shepard.

"Lord Shepard Kerrigan, Your Grace. Heir to Ashenfell Manor and Knight of Greenshire, at your service." Shepard answers, lowering his head briefly to Aidan once more at the introduction. He does briefly turn his gaze towards Faerinia, then back to Aidan and decides he'll get the obvious, unspoken question out of the way, "Your niece was kind enough to favor me with a dance, though we are but newly acquainted as of two days ago."

Ronan checks the cinch on his saddle but turns when Aiden speaks to him, giving the other Duke his full attention. His mouth thins somewhat, "Alas, I may be the last Crawford you will meet, Your Grace, unless some of my cousins should show themselves. Surely you have heard my brother and his wife are dead four months back, but now also my sister, Caitlyn, passed away these past weeks in childbirth, taking the babe with her." Hense why Ronan wears black, the last of a once proud House, in mourning.

Once he has satisefied himself that Alanza's tack is all in order and to his liking, Ronan looks to Nimue, "I should bid you a good evening, Lady Forrester, and my thanks for the dance. I think you are in good company here, though if you are also departing, the carriage is right over there." Yes, within sight and waiting for those who need transport back to the castle.

A moment later, Ronan steps up into the saddle and checks Alanza's movement to keep the young stallion still until such time as the Duke is ready to depart. The fine Sutherland horse tosses his head and paws the frozen ground, eager to be away.

<FS3> Aidan rolls History & Law: Success.

Nima had left and taken a lovely walk through the public gardens, the lighting from the faire grounds enough to cast the garden with fewer shadows. Her arrival is met with the timely departure of the Duke and as she watches him mount his horse, she is captured once again as the man and beast unite. Impossible light blue eyes rest on the Rioga and she dips her head if he happens to notice her, her maid beside her dipping into a curtsy. She does not interrupt his farewell to the Forrester noblewoman.

To Ronan, "My condolences Ronan. The year has been hard on many, to which is one of the reasons I have come to Darfield." All in a matter of due course, Aidan's agenda will eventually reveal itself. As for Ronan being the last, he shakes his head, "My own children have the Crawford line in them. They are not completely undone as you so believe. The Kincaids and Crawfords together are strong enough to rebuild where they can." Strong words at least. Though the Kincaids are known to breed like rodents if allowed. "Perhaps we shall speak on that more, when you have sufficent time, Your Grace." Proper respect given, as he bobs his head.
"The Ashenfell Manor," Aidan runs that over his tongue as if trying to place which Manor that would be in Greenshire, such places flourish and wither so easily after all, even in his own Duchy. "Kerrigan is a name I am familiar with, you are Rinder's heir then." Not a question, but a statement of fact. When Shepard continues to speak as if asked a further question, Aidan looks on passively, eventually with a dry response: "Interesting." A head tilt, brows twitch just enough, "Please excuse us Sir Kerrigan." His eyes moving to include Faerinia in that, meaning her fun for tonight is over.

"Of course, Your Grace." Shepard laughs ever-so-slightly spite of himself, and adds, "Welcome to Darfield." Yes, even in the face of the formidable Duke Aidan Kincaid, he retains his humor. Having been summarily dismissed, he also inclines his head towards Faerinia, offering the simple farewell of "Milady" along with a polite smile and a nod of his head, and then he's off, most likely headed back towards the castle himself.

Now seated atop his horse, Ronan tries to smile if thinly to Aidan, "Aye, but my kinsmen among the Kincaids do not bear the Crawford name, Your Grace. I am nonetheless pleased to see you and look forward to sharing such words." Due courtesy returned in kind between the two men. Ronan of course being respectful of his proven elder in a brother House. The Rioga turns his stallion and is about to depart when his bold eye catches sight of a pale pair of eyes watching himself in a remarkable and unmistakable dusky face. He stops his horse at once when he sees Nima.

Ronan bows his bared head to her, "Your Highness, good evening and welcome to the Festival of Lights." A pause, Kierne pulling up behind him to wait. "I am sorry you did not attend earlier. I would have been pleased to dance with you. Mayhap you will allow me a future dance?"

For sake of modesty, Nima does not mention having been here earlier and noticing his different dances with the different princesses and ladies. Instead, she simply inclines her head and offers a polite smile. "It sounds as if a lovely time was had by all. I bid you goodnight, Your Grace, and hope you had an evening to remember." Straightening, the Kundari Princess does not hinder his departure, stepping aside with her entourage as her handmaid moves up beside her. As it seems the others are also departing for now, she moves along to take one more tour around the grounds before departing back towards the castle proper.

Ronan watches Nima from his mounted seat and keeps Alanza checked to stand still. His reply to her is pitched low, voice softer, "I have. It has been … a rare good evening, thank you. Nonetheless, it could have been better if you had been here, Your Highness." He inclines his head politely to her once more and having nothing else to say for the moment, the Crawford urges his horse onward. Alanza is quite happy to do so, picking up his legs and wanting to run. Ronan leans slightly back in his seat to let the grey pick up a canter but intending to collect him and show up some horsemanship on his departure…
The stallion gets the bit in his teeth and fights the Crawford, shooting off like a bolt! Bad Alanza! Ronan has his hands full to let the horse run, not daring to break his mouth with the severe bit. Ah well, let him have a little distance, then the Rioga can curb him and make the horse circle to break his speed. Still, so much for a grand departure!

Faerinia stands stiff and unyielding, for one glorious moment defiance reigns and then her shoulders hitch, in a defensive action. Venya shadows her mistress with far more humble a look, brought low by no more than a terse stare. In fact the breeze seems ready to blow her over backwards. Not helped by the runaround given by Alanza, two women flinching in unison, with Faerinia running towards before she recollects her Uncle proud, above her oath to heal.

Aidan catches the last of the grand departure from Ronan, though he comments on it not. Instead, with Shepard clearly out of the way and the handmaiden returned to her proper place, the Head of Household Kincaid regards Faerinia sternly. His elbow is extended to her, any defiance met with that Kincaid brooding look, "Come niece." And that is all. It would seem he is not going to risk saying more than he has about his problematic niece any further in front of a crowd. Her maid has already been shamed.

Nima watches as Alanza takes charge, one-upping his owner. Amused after she sees that Ronan is not hurt or on danger of being so, she looks to Syri, casting her a knowing glance, a smile tugging at her lips. "Accompany me to the castle, and tomorrow, perhaps we could find little Elly and spend the day with her." Seeing the others departing, the Kundari also depart, Princess, Handmaid, guards and advisors. Quite a colorful and eclectic group.

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