Private Tales Behind the Mask

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Val

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Obann - Rellin Estate

"Alright. I'm going to need a bottle of wine and a fine ass to put my-" Val cut himself off as his father stepped in front of him.

The wold man was wearing what appeared to be an owl mask, likely thinking himself terribly clever for having donned the guise of an animal that was supposed to be wise. Then again, Val wore the mask of a Fox, so perhaps he was just as foolish as the old man. He tried not to roll his eyes as his father spoke, though it was truly difficult to do so.

"Do try not to embarrass the family, Valren. You are my sign, and most of Oban is attending his masquerade."

Val grit his teeth for a second, but allowed his lips to part in a wide smile as he took half a bow. The two lads behind him did the same, trying to show deference to the Vizier of Oban. His father was a powerful man, almost as powerful as the King himself, and his 'friends' had always groveled before the patriarch of the Damyr Family. "Of course father. I shall be the very picture of decorum."

For a few seconds the Vizier lingered, staring at his son before shaking his head.

"Just stay away from the Princess."

A smile flashed over Val's face, though it was as false as his father's teeth.

The old man shook his head one last time, and then began to walk away. Almost as soon as his shadow was gone Val straightened himself, glancing back at the boys behind himself. They were good lads, morons, but good enough to hang around with him as cover. Both would undoubtedly drink themselves to near death, and both would then later claim that he'd been with them all night.

Just what he needed.

"Let's go find some tail, lads." Val said with a smirk, rubbing his chin for just a moment as he spotted what appeared to be an Anirian Lady swaying her way across the dance floor.

She seemed a good mark.
 
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Wren Kingsley

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Just have some fun, they said. Why could she never have fun like they could? Wren was always calculating. Always working..always worrying. Her sisters had always been more carefree but they had not had to endure what she had, they'd never been locked up before, and they didn't have their faces plastered all over the city. Festivals and abhorrent soirees like these were the only opportunities the sisters had to truly mingle with the upper class. Their people. And how they sickened her. Of course, there was still an element of risk and Wren seemed to remember that more than her sisters did. Lottie was usually off dancing with the most eligible bachelors of Oban and causing fights amongst them, and Blanche would be draining the place dry of alcohol.

"Yeh look damn pretty miss Wren.." the stout old man in the badger mask whispered by her ear at the top of the steps that cascaded down into the main ballroom.

Wren squeezed at his arm and smiled warmly under her golden lioness mask.. "You look simply beautiful, My Lady Elspeth.." Wren corrected far more politely and dipped her chin with a small curtsy. "And thank you.." she laughed under her breath.. "Fucking heels are killing me.." she muttered and urged him to lead her down the steps..

"Thy shoes do pinch a bit.." the man corrected her with a flare of his hand. Wren laughed.. Perhaps she should have given him a little more credit.

Theon had scrubbed up well. The man born and raised in Oban's slums had managed to pull off the look of a wealthy merchant with thanks to Wren, and she'd convinced him to escort her to the affair posing as her uncle. The guards weren't entirely stupid, nor were the bounty hunters, and attending such events with her sisters would catch the wrong attention. She'd have to watch that limp of hers too. She wasn't sure anyone would think her bold or stupid enough to attend such parties, but the riches to be had was just too difficult to ignore. Each event was purposefully more lavish than the last, not only did these filthy rich snobs have to outdo one another but they had to better their last efforts. Every costume dripped wealth, each noble woman wore her best jewellery, and the room below positively sparkled.

Wren glowered under her mask and gave the man a pat on the arm, she could feel him tense.. "I'm alright, little Lady." he assured her, but if he wasn't just as sickened as she was, or understandably more so, she'd have been astounded.

She felt some eyes on them and Theon laughed as she was the one to tense now, and so he patted her hand as it tightened on his coat. She dropped her gaze to watch her step.. "Avoid the right corner.." she told him, having spied the royal family and her own parents of course trying to suck up to them with gifts and compliments. Theon nodded, and the pair bowed and curtsied at each couple they passed on the way to an empty spot by the dance floor.

"Allow me, My lady.." Theon spoke a little louder than he had to and Wren flinched as eyes drew toward them.. She cleared her throat and smiled, unclasping her black, embroidered cloak and lowered the hood to allow Theon to lift it from her shoulders. Her hair fell in soft, raven curls, a few scattered locks of it painted in gold and decorated with jewels and chains to match her outfit. Gold pauldrons adorned her shoulders, linked by many more gold chains that draped down her bare back all the way to the dimpled skin at the bottom. The front of her dress was much more simple, black silk, adorned at the bust with gold studs that tapered off around the waist. She both stood out, and blended in. What she wore could feed the entire population of the city's slums for a year. She felt sick.
 
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Val

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Val had made his way through three cups of wine by the time he found himself leaning against one of the marble columns nearby the dance-floor. There was a goblet still in his hand as he watched the people move, his eyes on some of the women with dresses more expensive than three houses in the middle-city.

Lips were turned into a scowl.

"Oh why so sad, handsome?"

A woman's voice dragged his attentions away, her face covered by what appeared to be a Robin Mask. His lips thinned for a brief moment, and then they broke out into a wide smile as he looked the woman up and down. "Just jealous of all the dancing going on."

He mused out loud, putting his cup to his lips and taking a long sip. He pushed himself off the column, and placed the cup into a potted plant besides him.

"Well, I am avail-"

"Sorry." Val said, cutting the woman off. "I prefer something a little more flightless."

Val could see the woman's startled expression through the mask, but he just short her half a smirk and continued outward onto the dancefloor. His steps were quick, practiced, shifting through the people until he reached a much older man dancing with a young lioness. "May I cut in?"

He asked with all the confidence in the world.
 

Wren Kingsley

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Wren didn't enjoy dancing. Another formality that'd been forced upon her growing up a Montcroix, she'd had no choice but to learn, but it always appealed more to Lottie. It was a way for her to move around the room, scanning her surroundings, taking note of who she recognised. Of course, it was more difficult with the guises but some presences were unmistakable. Theon was enjoying himself however, and despite having been afforded only an hour's lesson he took to it gracefully, and Wren smiled up at him with a quiet chuckle to herself.

"Dear uncle, you are like a fish to water.." she smirked, pleased to see that he at least was enjoying himself in the company of the room. Perhaps she'd stay a little longer than she'd planned, for his sake.

The pair stopped dead as the man in the fox mask cut in. Wren blinked at him in surprise, her green eyes fixing on his as she tried to figure out who he was..and if he'd recognise her. She wasn't sure, but what she was sure of was that she wasn't about to dance with him, she wasn't here for her own fun let alone to contribute toward these rich bast--

"Of course you can M'boy!" Theon patted the man on the shoulder and smiled to Wren who was shaking her head at him feverishly. The man winked at her, he too of the mind that she should have some 'fun'..

"Uncle Theon I must protest I.." Wren interjected but was cut off by the older man as he thrust her hand into the stranger's.

"Nonsense!! Handsome fox wishes to dance with my beautiful niece who am I to deprive him of the honour?!.." he asked with emphasis on his last word as his brown eyes narrowed over the man, a not so subtle warning.. "I'll be watching, perhaps I'll find myself a fox of my own." he winked at her and chuckled as he sauntered off..

Wren watched him go with a sigh and turned back to her new dance partner, lips pursed as she considered her options. The thought of kneeing him in the nuts and leaving did cross her mind, but she groaned inwardly and settled her other hand on his shoulder.. Perhaps it'd be worth her while.

"A fox.. Interesting choice." she mused somewhat dryly and cleared her throat as she realised she had a part to play.. Acting was Lottie's thing too. She forced a small smile, her charcoaled eyes studying him for another moment before she returned her attention to the others in the room as they moved..
 
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Val

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Val slid into her with all the smoothness of water, his rather forward touching softly grasping her hip and hand as he pulled her into the dance. "I have a penchant for mischief."

He explained with a smirk.

Val had always enjoyed the story of the Fox and the Sable. It was a tale told in Oban. Two thieving mammals that went about various different dens of larger creatures and stole their food. The two helped one another, acting as partners in crime. It was a silly thing, but the story was one he'd always gravitated to even as a child.

As they slowly swept Into the Dance Val did not pay attention to the others around him. Instead he watched the woman he was with. He did not recognize her, though that wasn't too surprising with the mask. Yet her eyes moved and darted about, clearly scanning the room.

"My my am I really so bad to look at?" He let out a 'tsk'. "The boys have always said so but It must be true."

He shook his head as they moved across the dancefloor. "You're looking at everyone but me."
 
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Wren Kingsley

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She glanced down at the hand on her hip and her jaw clenched.. "Hm.." her brow arched at his answer, and she moved with all the grace and elegance that a noble woman should move with.

Wren didn't have the time nor patience to entertain the egotistical braggarts and peacocks of Oban, and so she couldn't help but roll her green eyes at his dented pride over her not looking at him enough. The women of Oban had their place, it was to be seen and not heard, to support the men, make them look good, stroke their ego and do what they were told. It wasn't Wren, it never would be.. She muttered under her breath something about remembering her manners. She was not Wren, she was Lady Elspeth of Alliria.

"Forgive me, My Lord..." the word practically dripped from her tongue like venom but she smiled and let her eyes linger on his before wandering over his frame, his hair, anything that might give inkling as to who he was exactly. He did seem pleasing to the eye, the voice was pleasant too, and Wren huffed quietly at herself and tried to ease and forget her task for at least one dance..

"You have my attention.." she looked up at him, her lips curling slightly at the corner.
 

Val

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"Do I?" Val mused out loud, watching as her eyes folded over him in an attempted seearch.

These masks did not really help with concealing your identity from someone who already knew your, but they did wonders if someone didn't already know your face well enough. He had no idea who she was, but it was clear from her expressions that at least part of her didn't want to be.

It was a feeling he well understood. There was always too much of something. Too much gossip, too much attention, too mu-oh wait no. The nobles were supposed to love that sort of thing.

Maybe he wasn't exactly the right kind of noble though.

"The I must be something after all." The tempo of the dance picked up, and Val began to lead her in a quick pace across the face floor, fingers grasping and pulling her along In a wildly flirtatious tango. "To catch your eye for more than a second."

The words were a whisper as he gently dipped her down in his arms, quickly pulling her back up a second later and continuing the Flow of their dance.
 
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Wren Kingsley

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Oh gods.. Flirting. Wren clenched her teeth together and grimaced at him.. "Oh dear.. a charmer. I'm allergic to those.." she responded almost playfully as he dipped her, her toe pointing and arm falling by her side, reciting her lessons. She hoped her sisters weren't watching her right now, she could only imagine the grins they'd be wearing.

As he pulled her back up, her attention remained on him, her feet never missing a step. It was a sensual dance, and most couples had left the dance floor as the tempo changed, such a dance required energy and some level of audacity and confidence. There were too many eyes on them and it made her tense slightly, her eyes locked on his as they continued their dance though she caught more than a few disapproving looks and smirked as she spun to press her back against him, her hand reaching to the back of his neck as the other brought his hand to her hip as it swayed.

"You move well though..." she observed with a small smile. Was she...enjoying this?
 

Val

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His fingers slowly danced over her in an salacious touch, dragging in place.

Amusement carried over his lips as she pressed herself against him. He wondered what his father was thinking, if he was watching this. Val had a reputation as a bit of a play-boy, though that was mostly due to a few rumors the boys had spread about him a while back.

"Oh I know." He said as she would suddenly feel him step back and then twirl her in his grasp to the tempo of the music.

Val spun her, and then suddenly pulled her back into his embrace, both of his hands dragged slowly over her belly, his lips dangerously close to her neck. "You should see how I move elsewhere."

A breath floated over her skin, and then the dance continued as the band began to play specifically for them. Val and Wren being the only two left on the dancefloor.
 
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Wren Kingsley

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This wasn't Wren..This was Lady Elspeth, and Lady Elspeth's breath caught in her throat at the foreign sensation of hot breath on her neck, and it was Lady Elspeth who laughed at the audacity of the man clearly suggesting that she test out his bedroom techniques.. "Are you new to nobility, Lord Fox?.." she asked as she spun to face him and pushed him back a few paces with the music and dragged her toe around in a circle to curl her foot around his calf and slide it up, leaning her body against him and allowing her lips to get as dangerously close to his as he'd been to her neck a moment ago. "Or do you think me some sort of harlot that accepts that sort of behaviour?.." she asked as she peered up at him, uncurling her foot and stepping it in between his with a not so careful brush at his thigh..

A grin formed on Lady Elspeth's lips as her hand slid down the stranger's chest, but she glanced past him and realised they were the only two left, and that they'd gathered a bit of a crowd. Her parents, the Royals, all of them, watching her.. She faltered with a sudden "Fuck.." under her breath and turned quickly to leave..
 
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Val

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"I think myself a man who can get away with it." Val said with a confident Smirk as she wrapped herself around him like a cloak.

There was a fire to her touch, a ignition that rolled through him like an arc of lightning striking a dried forest. Fingers tightened on her for just a brief second, and then she suddenly faltered and let out a curse as she turned away on her heel.

Val was left there standing dumbfounded.

His head swiveled for a moment, noticing for the first time that he was the only once left on the dancefloor. He caught his fathers eye for a second, noticing the old man standing just a few feet away behind a bit of the crowd.

"Thank you, Ladies and Gentlemen." He took a short bow in each direction. "I'll be here all week."

Then he darted off after the girl.
 
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Wren Kingsley

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Wren shouldered and shuffled her way through the thick gathering of onlookers with flustered apologies, her light fingers working deftly at jewels, brooches and trinkets that she slipped into a band around her thigh as she reached to lift her dress a few inches over her ankles, giving the impression that she was trying to avoid a clumsy fall. She spotted Theon by a fountain sampling the wine and she gripped at his free wrist and pulled him along with her in her stride.. "Time to go, Uncle.."

The man followed under the marble arches and into the hallway overlooking the courtyard, though he pulled back at her as she seemed intent on leaving so soon.. "Slow down slow down. I'm an old man!" he protested and reached to grip her upper arms, a gentle touch despite the roughness of his hands. "Are you alright? What's happened?.."

Panic had got the better of her and her heart thudded against her chest. This was what happened when her sisters insisted that she have fun.. "It's just too risky, I shouldn't have come.." she told him quietly and shook her head. Being here was one thing, but the least she could have done was lay low and try not to have the entire room stare at her. Some of these people wanted her dead. Others would gladly receive the significant amount of gold on offer for handing her over, and it only took one to recognise her.

"Calm down.. I wouldn' let anythin' happen to you little bird." he rumbled quietly at her.. Wren smiled and sighed deeply, and though she knew fine well the man could do nothing about it if she were caught, the sentiment was there.
 
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Val

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Val made his way through the crowd with the same efficiency that Wren had, though he didn't steal every little thing that wasn't nailed to a person.

His game was better than that.

Some people followed him with their eyes as they moved, others even reached out to touch him. A few times he heard one lady or another mention the Handsome Fox and twirling around in the sheets like he did on the dance floor.

Nobles, at least at parties where their faces could not be seen, were depressingly capricious. At least Val never pretended to be anything but flirtatious, even when he didn't wear a mask. What was the fun in anonymity when it came to that sort of thing? "Hypocrits."

Val muttered to himself as he slipped out of the crowd and into the hallway the Lady had stepped into.

In truth he wasn't entirely sure why he was following her, but it was an odd compulsion that had set over him. He couldn't quite help it as he slipped through the archway and beyond. He heard whispered voices, quick bandying of words before he stopped at the top of the steps.

Down below he could see her, arguing with the man who she'd been dancing with.

His eyebrows raised, and for a second Val hesitated.
 
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Wren Kingsley

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Wren stopped talking as she heard the footsteps following behind and followed Theon’s gaze to where the man in the fox mask stood. She huffed and folded her arms petulantly “You’re following me now? Did I not look at you for long enough Lord Fox?..” she asked with a roll of her emerald eyes.

Theon chewed nervously on his lip underneath his badger mask and grumbled quietly as he rested his hands atop her shoulders and gave her a gentle nudge. “I’m sure the young Lord is merely ensuring your wellbeing.. Isn’t that so, lad?..”

Wren could have throttled the man where he stood and she looked up to shoot him a glare, to which he returned a smile with a mischievous glint in his dark eyes.

“I am perfectly fine..” she answered and turned her attention back to the nobleman. “If that is what you were enquiring then thank you for your concern but there’s no need, we were just on our way—“

“Oh a waltz!” Theon interrupted her excitedly, craning his chubby neck to peer back into the ballroom. “I do love a waltz!..And look! A lone squirrel that might make an old badger’s night and give him a dance..” he clapped his hands and shot the Fox a grin as he shuffled back into the ballroom to leave the pair alone.

Wren’s furious glower burned into his back as she watched him leave..
 
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Val

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"Doesn't seem like hes ready to leave." Val commented as he watched the man walk by him, lips thinning for a brief moment until he turned back to the lioness and offered her a wide grin.

There weren't many people who ran out of these sort of parties, less so after they were the center of attention. Most noblewomen preferred to be looked at, particular in the type of dresses that she was wearing. His eyes folded over her, an obvious oogling that she would have needed to be blind to miss.

Like prey approaching what might have been a predator Val slowly stepped towards her.

"What's the matter?" He asked her. "Dance a bit too much for you?"

A smirk touched his lips. "Or was it my ungentlemanly suggestion?"

He sounded almost innocent. Almost.
 
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Wren Kingsley

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Wren's head tilted at that grin and her lips pressed into a thin line as she watched his eyes wandering over her and her gaze narrowed as he moved closer.. "Are you always this shamelessly forward?.." she asked with an irate huff with a hand on her hip and she turned to search through the archway for Theon who was already making his way onto the dance floor.

"Never did enjoy being the centre of attention, unlike some.." she finally answered his question and shot him a glance.. "I'm sure there are plenty other ladies who'd be happy to lap up your attention.."
 

Val

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"Yes but unfortunately they're all vapid little idiots." He rolled his eyes as if in thought of someone in particular.

Once he stood opposite her Val didn't move any closer. She seemed like a fire-bug ready to explode and light the whole room on fire. There was a tension to her body, as if she was ready to jump on him any second...though for just what reason wasn't quite clear to him yet.

"Besides." Val shrugged. "The real fun is always in the dark, not the spotlight."

Why yes.

He really was always this forward.
 
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Wren Kingsley

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"Oh for fuck sake he's relentless..." Wren muttered entirely audibly to herself under her breath.

"Yes that's true, they are insufferable.." And she was back in the room. She turned back to him, her tired expression still visible despite the majority of her face being covered. "Look, I'm flattered that I seem to have captured your attention, but I'm really not interested in your advances, your cheap quips and roguish grins aren't getting you anywhere. The vapid idiots will soak that up and get you what you're after, you don't have to talk to them." she winked at him..

"Now I think my uncle has had enough fun for one night.." she growled quietly to herself again and stepped up to the marble column to try and catch the man's eye.
 
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Val

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Val glanced back. "Uncle, Huh?"

He mused quietly for a few moments, drawing his eyes back to her. She was clearly wanting to leave, though just why he still hadn't actually figured out. There were few reasons to go, and even if she wanted a bit of peace and quiet this Palace had half a dozen places she could have stepped to.

"Where did you say you were from again?" She hadn't said at all of course, but there was something wrong here.

She was jumpy, and he was entirely sure it wasn't because of him.

If there's one thing he knew for a fact it was that she had enjoyed their little dance. Probably a little too much. Plus she didn't really seem the sort to be running from any man, especially given how forward she placed her needs. Not common in Oban, though it should have been
 

Wren Kingsley

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"By the gods he doesn't take hints -or- blunt rejection.." she muttered again and looked back at him.

"I didn't.. Not here anyway, you people just.." she looked him up and down.. What she wanted to say was 'make my skin crawl' but she was Elspeth... Elspeth Elspeth Elspeth.. "Have me a little out of my comfort zone." she continued finally.

"My uncle is a wine merchant in Alliria, he wanted to bring me along for the trip. I'm not used to such grand affairs as these." she explained and tried to calm her nerves. "Regardless, you really are wasting your time with me, sadly.." she turned and flattened her back against the pillar to fold her arms, her masked face tilting ominously as she stared at him through charcoaled eyes.

It hadn't been her intention to win favour, it'd been why she'd brought Theon along, she didn't want attention and he was supposed to make sure she stayed clear of it. Unfortunately, Theon was a hopeless romantic who apparently believed that Wren could do with getting laid. How romantic that would be when she opted to keep the mask on..
 
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Val

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Hm. Alliria. His father did business there, or rather, he practically owned half a dozen merchants who did. His father was Vizier, and thus generally kept his hands out of business itself. He just made sure that the money came back to him in some sort of way.

"Alliria?" He sounded excited, though it was of course an act. "I love Alliria!"

Val had actually taken frequent trips to the city of Merchants. On a fast ship it was only about three days journey, and it made for a fun week of vacation to traipse around the middle city. He knew the city well enough for some things, though if she really was from Alliria she'd know it better of course.

He smiled, still not taking the hint, or rather outright ignoring it. "You must know about Vrilla' Vices yes? The famous tavern."

It was a trick question, there was no Vrilla's Vices, but if she said yes then he would know.
 

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Wren's jaw clenched at his incessant need to engage her in conversation when she clearly did not want to be spoken to. She forced a fake smile and nodded.. "Of course you do.." she groaned and let her head fall back to rest against the marble, lifting her masked face toward the heavens as though asking the gods why they insisted on tormenting her with this idiot. In fact, she outright asked "Why do you insist on tormenting me with this idiot?.." under her breath. She found it difficult to keep her inner monologue...inner.

"Great! Yes! Love that place... Great buzz." she answered with clearly feigned enthusiasm though hadn't really been paying attention to what he was saying in the first place.

"If I must stay then I'm going to need a drink." she murmured to herself and pushed herself from the column and spun on her heels with the intention of wandering off, hoping she'd lose him in the crowd.
 
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Val

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There was a wide grin on his face as she muttered under her breath. Ordinarily he might have rebuked her right then and there, but he decided to let her carry on. He took half a step back as she swept away from the column and began to work her way back towards the crowd.

For a brief few seconds he had the temptation to let it go, to just let her walk away. There was clearly something going on there, clearly something that she wanted to hide. It would likely have caused some sort of trouble for his father and that in it of itself might have been worth it.

Curiosity got the better of himself though. "It's probably because this idiot knows you're not from Alliria."

He called out after her.

"Wonder if the guards would care about that." Val trailed off as he looked like he was about to turn and walk towards the nearest guardpost.
 
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Wren's eyes rolled as he continued to speak, but she halted in her tracks and turned back toward him as she took in what he'd said, her frown evident despite her mask and her full lips parting incredulously. She stormed back to him and gripped hold of his shirt to press him back against the pillar of the marble archway, onlookers be damned. He was a shameless flirt and there was no doubt in her mind that he'd overstepped his mark with more than a few ladies.

"Look. I don't understand what business it is of yours where I am from, who I'm here with or anything else about me. I accompanied my uncle here because he doesn't get out too often, please don't spoil his night by having me arrested for beating the ever loving shit out of you." she warned, torchlight reflectively flickering in her eyes as she glared at him. "I don't respond well to threats.."
 
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As soon as her face got within a breath of him something snapped into place. He hadn't seen it, not with the mask, but with her eyes this close he couldn't help but recognize her.

It had been...years, but the posters stuck up all around the city certainly helped. If he'd just seen those it wouldn't have been enough, but he remembered being forced to attend her wedding. There had been quite a bit of drink that night, but the memory was still firmly in place. She looked better in her current dress.

"Oh I know." His lips turned to a smirk.

Val felt an overwhelming sense if smugness bloom in his chest. It was like he had figured out some grand mystery no one else had.

She was practically suicidal showing up in a place like this. There was something to be admired about that, though most people he knew would have called her a fool. "Wren."
 
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