Open Chronicles Festival of Lights: Illun Serath

A roleplay open for anyone to join

Syr Cydonia

Dawn Knight
Character Biography
The Festival of Lights
In the city of the moon elves, Illun Serath. The city sits at the source of the Sayve and Bystra rivers, in the foothills of the Spine. The denizens of the city, called moon elves by most, are distant kin to the nocturnal elves of the East, come from the same ancient tribe that once lived beneath the Spine. But while many cerulean elves remained in the underrealm, the moon elves of Illun Serath chose to settle the surface, adopting the rhythms of life of those around them. One such tradition is the Festival of Lights, celebrated throughout the Valen Wilds, even in these far corners.


The air of the winter's night rolls a light mist over the terraced pools the city is built atop. Water spills over the crescent edges, into the river below. Wherever one stands in the city, the sussuruous sound of rushing water can be heard, clean blue against the warm music of laughter and song that occupies streets and halls.

Illun Serath is always awake at night, its nocturnal denizens better accustomed to the gentler glow of the moons. But tonight is especially lively, as all gather to celebrate the Festival of the Lights.

A time to bring the toils of the past year to a close, and to begin writing the next chapter. A time to rekindle old acquaintances, and spark new friendships with strangers. For a few nights a year, the normally strict hierarchies of the city are put aside, and the laws of hospitality come to rule. Traveling kith are welcomed as kin, clan scions walk freely amongst commoners, and the beautiful domed halls of the Inner Branches have their doors held open to all.

Many citizens would stay indoors for a quiet time with their families, but many more still would be drawn to the larger attractions being held in public spaces throughout the city...


The Bazaars
Along the bustling streets of the night markets.

The exchanging of woven bracelets is common tradition for the Festival of Lights. The fabric cords of these bracelets are imbued with a unique empathetic enchantment. Braided in a certain way, the cord will absorb the emotion and the intention of the one who made it. The bracelets glow with the power of the emotion imbued in them, turning color to match. And when tied to a recipient's wrist, they will feel that same emotion wash over them.

Charms can be handmade for someone special in mind, but for those less magically inclined, one only has to walk a few stalls down to find one of Illun Serath's many market-faire enchanters. They will aid in the braiding process, for a small fee.

Be careful to focus one's mind before channeling empathetic magic, however. Any nervousness or distraction might muddy the color of the emotion, and you'll find that moonlight enchanters are not keen on refunds.


The Inner Branches District
At the roots of the great tree Iunae.

The great tree at the heart of the city, called Iunae by the moon elves, drinks deeply from cascading pools around it. The smaller of these pools freeze in the deep winter months, ice thick enough to walk upon. Smoothed over into rinks, ice skating is a popular past time amongst moon elves. While it may be an impossibly graceful sight to those visiting the cold mountain city, there is no magic involved in the sport. Only a good sense of balance and a willingness to strap sharp blades to one's feet is needed.

Those unwilling to brave the ice, will find places to nestle down and watch within the roots of Iunae itself. The great tree has a hollow inner chamber, maintained as both temple and public park. Stone sculptures and fountains are lit by an excess of lights. Though the great tree lacks leaves in the winter months, the sheer number of lanterns and lochlights hung from the tree keeps it from seeming bare - the distant lights creating the illusion of stars caught in Iunae's branches.


The Outer Rim District
At waterfall's edge.

Along the outer limits of the city, in the deeper terraces of the river, youths gather on docks and barges. Their cheerful banter rings out across the water, bold and daring, challenging the new year with zeal.

Wine is shared freely and tests of strength doled out. Cheeky games are played away from elder's judgemental eyes. The most rackish of elves strip down to their smallclothes, and dive fearlessly into the freezing waters for a moonlight swim. An ancient, and stupid, challenge stands for those brave enough: The ones who can swim nearest to the edge of the high falls, and stand tall upon the rocks at its precipice without tumbling over, have a lucky year ahead of them.
The Inner Branches District

Layers. Alex hated layers. Bundled up and constricted. Like being hogtied in wooly snakes. Was half the reason she tended to turn the Tracer west and south this time of year. Wings as gold as hers weren't meant for the cold. Least, that's what she told herself as she sat beside the ice, and watched the festival goers glide across the frozen waters. A little smile crooked her lip when one of them ate frozen shit.

Truth of the matter was, the truth was of little matter. Specially when there was drinks to be had, and merriment to find.

She looked down into her cup, sloshed her drink around. Valen mead was milder than she remembered it. Still, she had to hand it to the moonies, stuff they got was easy to drink. Her eyes went out across the pale blue ice. Saw the one who had fallen being helped up. Her sharp smirk softened some for a moment.

"Whelp," she slapped her hand on her knees and got up. Red in the cheeks and a pleased look on her face. "Best go get myself another,"
The Inner Branches District

Winter time on the mainland was exhilarating! They didn't get weather like this back in the bayou. The novelty of snow and ice and flushed cheeks and foggy breath and cute mittens hanging from strings off people's belts hadn't worn off on Nere yet.

She was having the time of her life as she coasted without a care across the ice rink. She scritch-scratched on her knife-heeled boots not exactly with the same poise that the elves could boast about, but with a warrior's confidence that had her going very sure and fast in one direction.

Not far from her, a little blue bundle of woolen skirts tumbled down. Landed hard right on their face, and slid some from the momentum of the fall. Without a second thought, Nere veered off her original course and slid to a stop next to them.

"Up ya go!" she said to the kid as she bent forward and heaved them to standing. Let the little elven girl cling to her arms as she regained her balance. A dark blue face looked up at Nere. It took her a second to decide if the girl was going to cry or not, the flash of those gleaming red eyes unfamiliar to her.

"It's too scary out here," the girl said with a sniff. Tears it was, then.

"Yeah, people are going really fast!" Nere agreed, nodding emphatically without a hint of ridicule. "C'mon, let's go back to the railing."

Holding hands, they glided - very, very slowly - back to the edge of the rink. Safety in sight, the girl broke loose and tapped forward the last few paces with frantic little steps. She wrapped both her arms around the arched fence that separated the ice rink from the rest of the park, and let her feet drift.

Nere laughed lightly at the sight, and then waved goodbye to the girl. Would have returned to her sport, when a familiar face caught her eye.

"Alex!" She called out, coming closer to her friend. Or... Captain, would that be more appropriate? Nere didn't let the stray thought get her down, willing it away with only the smallest of frowns.

The waist-high fence ran between them as Nere did her best to skate at the same pace as the woman walked. She had to spin and go backwards a couple of times as to not overtake her. "Are you sure you don't want to come out on the ice? The balance isn't so hard to find - easier than walking on an airship, I'd say...."

Alexandra Alcantos
*The Outer Rim District*

It was a bit like home. Only a bit.
Snow and cold was a dressed up novelty. The games and food were a treat but for Arbok, for any Nordenfiir, this was just more like the life she left.
She had a warm drink of spiced chocolate in her hands and supped it. She wasn't sure if any of the others had made it. Perhaps she was the first to arrive.
"Are you in line?"
The strangers voice brought her back from the edge of herself.
"Oh, no I'm eh, I'm waiting on someone. Please, go on ahead."
She hoped that was correct as the almost naked couple walked up to the edge of the icy waterfall and jumped hand in hand into the roaring froth below.
Screams and laughter rose up from below, a splash in the torrent.
Arbok wanted to do the jump. It was something she felt bound to do.
Her recovery was almost complete. Her body healed, her bear all but perfected but she needed something else.
The Nordenfiir often believed a shock to the system could refresh ones soul when it was ailed and her soul felt ailed since the Skirmish.
The dark weaponry, she could still feel it under her skin. Like it was jabbing into her heart, her very soul attacked.
Tonight she had a chance to be rid of it and she was going to take it.
Wistfully she looked down the path leading up to the waterfalls edge and hoped again that she wouldn't be going it alone.
He watched with scrutiny as the young squire fastened the blades to their feet, methodical in their movements like one who’d done it before. Lips pursing, Aarno looked away across the white field.

He’d never skated, nor was he of the mind to start now. A mere glance at the select few stumbling about on the ice, blades or no, was enough to convince him further into his choice the moment they’d arrived. Joona had laughed at him for it, but he’d merely shrugged at the amusement and held his ground. And he would, lest he slip about and compromise whatever joints yet remained relatively unfucked.

His stare snapped back to Joona as they got up, snow crunching underfoot as a couple experimental steps were taken. Like a duck. A self-assuring click of the tongue and a glance about, until their look landed on him. They gestured, brought a hand to their chest from where it bounced down, curled indexes colliding. He hummed and shrugged at it.

“ Your sister? “ He started, watching the affirmative nod. “ I’m willing to bet she went for the waterfall — spoke the whole way here about it, did she not. “

Joona’s head bobbed, some worry in the downcast look as they turned and stepped on the frozen lake.

“ Want me to look for her? “ He asked belatedly, wary. The headshake therein was swift and absolute.

“ Good. As I don’t think she likes me very much. “ Despite it being true, he flashed a smirk. Joona blew a raspberry in response, drifting further away in a broadening circle.

“ I’ll walk the grounds a bit, maybe see about a warm drink. “ He announced in impulse, turning on his heel as the squire acknowledged it in the swing of an arm.

“ Have fun. “
It was Hector's first time in Illun Serath. That he was here with Lorinna, arms twined about as their boots crunched soft in the snow, only made it that much better. A warm cup of mulled wine in one hand as the revels around them went on, and the roar of the falls churned in their ears.

"Dawn and Dusk, Palm and Blade," he recited between them with warm grin upon his face. "Always two to face the challenges that lay," Smiled, shameless that he had invoked the oaths to try and persuade her of some foolery.

Another pair of youths raced ahead of them, already stripped down as they hoot and hollared, and Hector's eyes followed the darted figures. Half naked as they were. In his own bundles, still woolen capped, he felt cold. Laughed some at the absurdity of it, and saw Arbok tower ahead of them, lonesome, with a hint of somberness to her frame.

"Going to take the jump, Arbok?!" Hector called out to the towering squire, lifted his chin, excitement full in his chest and flear in his voice.

Lorinna Astarel Arbok
It had been as much as couple of weeks since Nacht had settled in as a full squire, and the Astenvale Monastery still amazed him thanks to its many little secrets and general ancient adventure organization headquarters vibe. Even so, Nacht had to admit that the complex had nothing on Illun Serath, at least for this night. He looked up in wonder and watched the mysterious sparks of blue light from under the giant tree, enjoying the chill of the night as it touched his unguarded hands and face. "Woah. This is!" He'd almost grin, but manage in the end to keep a smidgen of composure.

Strolling around the Festival, he would next near the ice rink and watch as a few other squires struggled to stand on their own two feet. The evident difficulty set him to wondering: Was there perhaps a way you had to stand to balance? Finding his own pair of skates and strapping them on, he'd step on the rink and immediately fall to his knees, narrowly avoiding a bruised behind or accidental stabbing. Shade meowed, a sound that almost felt amused. You try it then, smartass, Nacht would think, looking up at his friend resting on his head. Standing up on legs as shaky as a newborn bird's, he'd slowly spread his stance wider little by little and finally found a point where he no longer shook.

My legs are exactly the same distance apart, so what if all I have to do is... Preparing for the possible fall, he would tense up and slowly bring his legs back together in a fashion as synchronized as possible. When he didn't fall but also wasn't standing in a stance akin to a swordfighter, he grinned and became mildly embarrassed when a fallen squire nearby on the icy rink stared at him in awe. Putting his hands out in a similarly symmetrical fashion, he'd try to push off and actually succeed, managing to wobbily move a few feet. Encouraged by his little win, Nacht began repeating the process until he got to the end of the rink, even managing to chain a few steps together.

Falling to his knees with a victorious breath, he'd begin taking off the "rink boots" and putting back on his own shoes, listening hard for the sounds of the famed Waterfall. As he managed to tug on his shoes, a joyous scream rang out and a splash echoed to his ears. Nacht grinned, pushing himself up and moving away towards the waterfall, following the repeating sound of screams and splashes. Finally, he made his way to the drop and stood at the edge, looking down. It was quite a ways, but the people at the bottom looked to be having fun. "Eh, maybe later. I don't have a change of clothes." He'd say to himself, already shivering as he watched more mostly nude figures rush past him.

He'd retreat a bit, and almost crash into Hector before righting his path. "Gah! Pardon me, sir." He'd say, slipping past the knight and his date. Normally, Nacht would try to talk to one of his betters during a chance encounter, but even he, with no romantic knowledge to speak of, knew Hector's attentions probably laid with the lady connected to him by arm. "Brr.." He'd mutter, now determined to get a good drink and warm his hands by the fire at the main building. Once again passing by the great tree known as "Iunae" and basking in the friendly glow of the lights and lanterns somehow unimpeding of the many stars that shone through the branches, he'd warm up a bit as though he was affected by some sort of magic aid.

"Damn...what a night." He'd chuckle, yawning a bit and stretching his hands high above his head.
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Flyn had never seen anything like this place. Illun Serath? Was it? This place was immense! He hadn't seen so many people enthusiastically grouped up for any event. Immediately upon his entrance, he was handed a warm bubbly brew. One of sweet honey and cinnamon masquerading as juice, but he caught a taste of a more potent tenant. Delightful. Overwhelming wonderment and whimsy had washed over him as he scampered off from the group he arrived with. He was drawn towards the skating rink. He nestled into an empty booth and studied the grace and dexterity of the more seasoned skaters and laughed with the less fortunate of them. His eyes couldn't settle. Much to see, much to study. For a moment his worries and pain were frozen in time. I wonder if they have skates my size? He chuckled as an elven child toe jumped in front of him and almost biffed it. He clapped and cheered. Of course they do.
You’re too fat to get on the ice.” Noa told Ne with a saccharine solemness that she seldom had. She even went as far as patting the hulking beast on the end as if it really did break her heart that he couldn’t follow along at her side. “That’s why I told you to go on a diet a couple of months ago, remember?” The tiger meowed, a rare occurrence, the deep voice as high as it could as it begged Noa not to go on the ice alone. Didn’t she realize if it broke, she’d have to swim but she couldn’t swim and there was no way that Ne was about to swim through freezing cold water just to save her. He would, and they both knew he would, but that didn’t mean he wanted it to happen.

Well, next time, maybe don’t go to Cymbeline asking for treats. I know she’s been feeding you.” Ne was quiet, an angry flick of his tail the only indication of his indignation at having been caught. Noa rolled her ankles, lifting both feet up into the air. Despite the frigid chill, she was dressed as she usually was, with maybe another hidden layer or two. Forearms remained bare, the collection of tattoos not matching the festive winter around them. The flowers were too vibrant, the motif of waves too aggressive to be chilled by ice.

Feels secure enough,” Noa said, using Ne’s giant head to help herself up from the bench. She didn’t need time to adjust her balance, as if she had done this many times already. She stabbed one blade underneath her boot into the ground, then another, beginning to march to one of the frozen pools that Ne had said was less crowded. She heard the many different sounds of blades on ice: grinding and sharp, high-pitched and smooth, a mixture of the otherworldly and average expectation.

Ne meowed once again, biting at the sash tied around Noa’s robes, tugging it— and her— back to him.

Hey, stop it. Just because you’re a Negative Ne doesn’t mean I’m gonna be one as well. I didn’t come all the way here to sit and do nothing.” Another stomp forward and the albino tiger let go of Noa. “Finally,” she said, beginning to say something else.

“There you are! I was looking all over for you. I didn’t think you’d be hard to find but Ne blends in better than I thought.” Noa tsked as Cymbeline’s voice grew closer and closer until her giggling was right in front of Noa. She heard a rustle of a parcel being unwrapped. “Here, Ne, I have a treat you might like.”

Ne was just telling me how much he likes the treats you have. Weren’t you, Ne? What was your favorite again? Something with lots and lots of butter?” Before either could answer, Noa made a mad dash to the ice, clumsy and off-kilter despite the balance she had previously showed. She flipped over the fence, caught herself just in time and stood up. One hand remained on the fence and Ne growled as Cymbeline laughed once more. Noa could hear the tiger begin to crunch through something.

“Noa, wait for me.” Cymbeline pleaded, fumbling and dropping things. Ne growled through a mouthful.

No can do, the ice is calling my name. It says, ‘Noa, come skate and show us what you got!” Noa said, grinning like the wildcard she was, deep voice filled with certainty. “And you know I got a lot to show. I got this.” She pushed herself off from the fence. She instantaneously collided into someone, nearly knocking them over. Luckily they had more experience on the ice than she did so they didn’t fall over one another.

Just kidding. But now I do.” Noa mixed a kick and a jump together and began to very slowly glide along the ice. She would have been faster if she crawled but it wasn’t about speed.

“Wait for me!” Cymbeline said again. Or maybe it was about speed. She moved a leg forward, then once again, wobbling too much to the right then left but now she could feel a slight breeze.
Along the Outer Rims.

Over the edge of the falls that the daring leapt from, the waters opened up into another terraced lake. Drifting lazily on the still surface of the water were plenty of barges and boats, islands of respite for the unlucky swimmers that couldn't handle the chill of the waters.

One such barge, lit by lochlight, did not have the same reckless energy as the others. Its occupants were older, more distinguished, and less inclined to strip for clout.

Well, most of them. Guernot, the madman, had already done a couple of laps round the edge of the falls. The swimming bit wasn't mad at all for the kivren, who'd grown up in the frigid Northern waters of the Ra Gnamh. Rather, it was that he kept climbing back into the barge, sopping wet, and splashing freezing water everywhere.

Right then, they were safe from the hapless knight, who'd disappeared under the water whole minutes ago. Only a pleasant camaraderie washed over the occupants of the boat. On a chair lounged Syr Edelbert, glass of wine in one hand, and a written missive from the field held aloft in the other. Working still, even on holiday. Beside him was an old friend, a moon elf with long, white beard and amber eyes.

They were strategically placed on the terrace lake. When the intrepid squires inevitably failed their leap of faith, Guernot would be there to fish them out, and Edelbert would have blankets and warm drink waiting for them on the barge.

The elder elf, whose name was Paeris, seemed bemused by the whole setup. "Doesn't it take some of the spontaneity out of it, if you're there to catch them when they fall?" he asked.

Edelbert flicked the paper in his hand, letting the warped sound it made serve as his tisk of disapproval. "I take it you're the sort who thinks stuff like this builds character. Well, here's a counter argument: dead kids don't learn lessons."

"Bah," the elf scoffed. "There's nothing deadly in these waters, less you're a plum-faced fool."
The night market was doing a roaring trade. Standing at the bizarre bazaars epicentre like a statue-made-flesh, Syr Faramund regarded the world around him with some confusion. 'I've witnessed battles that have made more sense,' he told the knight stood beside him. 'How anyone can conduct business in the middle of all... this, is well and truly beyond me.'

Indeed, there were plenty of things "beyond him", things like crochet and water polo. Not that either of those concerned him right now, if ever.

No, Faramund's mind was elsewhere, on more important matters.

Upon reaching Illun Serath, the first thing he had done was familiarise himself with the city's wild and whacky layout. A guide had told him of local customs. Traditions that stretched way, way back, almost to the dawn of time. The ice-skating, while fun-sounding, hadn't caught his attention nearly as much as the bazaar had. As for the cliff jumping, well...

He was a fool-ass, but only a real fool-ass would throw themselves into freezing cold waters on a dare.

Besides, he had gifts to buy, and where better to buy them than in a night market. 'Pies! Get yer mince pies here!' A mobile bakery trundled down the street towards him, its freshly-baked adornments wobbling alarming as it bounced across the cobbles, breaking necks and enticing noses in equal measure. 'You there, big guy!' The cart stopped. 'Fancy a pie? I promise, they don't get much fresher than this!'

Humming, his brain practically screaming at him to resist the temptations laid before him, Faramund turned to his companion.

'I know I shouldn't, but...'
It was Hector, Hector and... Lorinna.
Arbok waved sheepishly at them both.
"Hi, eh... Well..."
Her head turned to the rush of water over the edge.
"I mean, yes. I'm eh... Well I haven't finished my drink yet."
She took a hot gulp and felt it spread through her torso.
A choco-stache was left on her upper lip. Heedless of it she continued.
"What about you two. Taking the plunge?"
Company should have helped her feel better but she didn't. Her eyes kept darting to the edge of her vision hoping to catch a vision of someone else.


Lorinna actually turned and walked in a small, nervous circle.

I can do this, I can do this.

I can't do this.

"He's being an ass and making me do it!" she lied.

Arbok was larger and stronger than Lori. A fact she did not like. Right now none of that mattered.

"Look, I'll go in the icy water, that looks fun!" Lorinna said, trying to back down.
An impishness came over Hector, and he set his drink down, began to peel away the layers of his clothes. "Come on, Syr Astarel, you've braved worse," he tossed his sweater aside, eyes looked back up to Arbok gave a nod.

"That's the plan!" he said, cheerful as he slipped his shirt off over his head. His dark skin turned to gooseflesh quick, and he gave a yelp, laughed some himself as he tossed the shirt aside, breath swirling about his lips as he was already taking off his boots.

He could use a bit of his fire to keep warm but, that felt like cheating.

"Colds," he said through grit teeth, "bracing," he pulled a boot off. Then worked on the second. He looked to Lori. "Last one in-" thought better of the ante. "Buys dinner!" he yanked off the second boot, and felt his teeth start to clatter.

Arbok Lorinna Astarel
'I know I shouldn't, but...'

Petra answered Faramund's smile by placing a handful of coins into the vendor's outstretched palm, graciously accepting the hot minced pies wrapped in thin waxy paper in return. Chuckling at her friend's expression she passed him his share as the baker trundled away with his confectionary menagerie, his bright tenor cutting through the crowds and calling more to his cart.

"But oh, I think you shall." She playfully smacked his stomach with the back of her now free hand. "Besides you look positively famished." Inspecting her new treat, she squinted at Faramund. "I have to admit, I've never actually tried one of these before. If it's terrible, you owe me a new treat."

Blades upon the ice piqued the robed one's interest, the elegant gentle carving from well balanced foot did please this person so, hands upon rail, eyes ablaze with animated white light. Such travel had never born his witness. Oh how they graced the ice. Spirals upon spirals, friction born movement with such cleverness.

Sam Fairbridge looked to their boots that seem to have two left feet about them in this moment. While fine for trudging slow and certain, Sam felt that they were lacking in the precise balance to propel oneself so required to drift across the ice so.

But for while physical finesse was not their forte, finding arcane solutions from observations was.

Sam peered on, their hand reaching for crystal in gloved hand. Pulsing twice under new found direction, the small crystal of white and blue hue did vibrate and hum with the initial thoughts of the Art made manifest.

Noting speeds and movements, describing the essence of the matter into webbed arcane lattice within the crystal, Sam set about their patient work of the attempt to make the ice suit their passage, without such daunting things as blades.

Studiously, making intricate balance, Sam crafted on as the people did skate upon the ice, their eyes pulsing as the Art revealed itself, robes a shimmer as they did their duty to their curiosity.
Arbok smiled a lie at them both. She hoped she presented herself as encouraging but she was never good at deception.
Watching them both disrobe to their under things brought to mind her own body's ugly scars.
Some scars were charming or even downright attractive but the three left by the shadow spears were webbed patches of tangled flesh knitted together. Tough circles of skin that blotched her body at the back and side. Not to mention the scars her forced transformation had left her with.
She sipped her hot chocolate again and tried not to stare at exposed skin.
"I'll, I'll watch your things."
She said unsure of whether she should bring them down after the pair had jumped or wait for them to come back.

Hector Lorinna Astarel
A smirk as sharp as a hooked dagger crooked the corner of Alex's lip. "Might be," she said with a nod to the sailor who had taken so well to the ice, "You're just part penguin, Miss Ashorn," she stared at the woman, side long, as she worked those strong legs of hers, easy as breathing despite the whole being backwards bit. Alex's smile bloomed into a grin.

"You check between your toes lately?" her stare popped back up to her eyes. "Find them a little more webbed than the average lot?" She looked ahead. Nod her nose forward. "Watch out for the blind woman there," she warned.

Nere Ashorn Noa
Faramund laughed for what felt like the first time in months. 'You know, you remind me of someone,' he told Petra, accepting the mince pie with all the decorum of a starving man. 'Blonde, grey eyes, about ye high,' he continued, taking a bite of winter's favoured pastry, savouring the taste. 'You'd like her.'

I know I do.

'Come on.' Pressing through the throng of heavily-dressed marketgoers, Faramund began weaving his way between the stalls. Wreaths and colourful banners decorated windowsills and lampposts, catching the dancing moon- and firelight, reflecting it back onto the faces of passers-by. Moon elves, humans, dwarves, orcs. Even a few more... exotic races. Illun Serath welcomed all.

Tonight, at least.

'Y'know, I was thinking,' Faramund spoke between mouthfuls, 'and, I realise that's a dangerous prospect, but hear me out!' Seeing off the last morsels of food, the dawnling clapped his gloved hands together, turned to Petra. 'I never did give you a present at last year's festival. An oversight, on my part.' Glancing around, he stepped closer to Petra to allow a family room to pass.

One of the younglings waved a candy cane at him. Faramund waved back.

'I was wondering,' he stopped, started again. 'I thought maybe you'd like to exchange bracelets? The, uh, enchanted ones.' He shrugged, shuffled some. 'For starters, I mean.'

Petra Darthinian
Upper Branches District, earlier in the night...

Somewhere in the Upper Branches district, an entourage of finely dressed elves filed neatly out of one of the high-domed buildings. Grey moon faces, with hair rolled into silky buns and necks arched proudly, looked down upon the festivities with an air of importance that could not be touched by the holiday cheer.

A couple of golden heads stood out from the noble crowd.

"Lights above, that was boring!" Cyd exclaimed. She threw her hands behind her head, causing the many folds of her robes to crinkle up in an awkward way. "You'd think that shirking my sun maiden duties for seventy years would be enough to exempt me from these sorts of ceremonies."

"The blink of an eye, merely," her father, a man named Cerrik, responded evenly from beside her. "Don't forget, it was the empaths of Iunae who helped you learn control over your power. We owe them this much."

A grumbling gurgle came from the center of Cyd's gut. She doubled over dramatically, a queasy frown upon her face. "Well, I can't handle giving much more until I have something to eat,"

"Alright, go on then," her father said, with mild expression. "But don't stray too far, the next ritual is--!"

He sighed, realizing his words would go unheeded. Cyd was already gone, hopping cheerfully down the street towards the markets.

The Bazaars, just now...

Cyd looked just like one of those colorful banners hanging from the lampposts. Her robes, formal and complicated, were blue, orange, white in bold patterns. Two circles of gold were painted on the apples of her cheeks, obscuring the usual blush that lay there.

Though the crowd was chaotic, Cyd found she recognized quite a few faces. Including two knights, stepped off to the side a bit to enjoy a steaming pie. She arrived just in time to hear the last bit of their conversation.

Cyd appeared before the pair without introduction, giving herself the floor to interject with one hand on her hip, and a short wave of her other.

"Did you know that the Iunaeszi word for empathy means 'in suffering'?" She nodded sagely, as if this was profound knowledge.

"Moon elves are so stuffy every other time of year," Cyd explained her wisdom. "It gives 'em a headache just thinking about the right thing to feel." Turning her head to Petra and covering her mouth with a cupped hand, she stage-whispered: "Reminds me of someone else we know..."

Petra Darthinian Faramund
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It took plenty meandering to find one’s way, but suppose he hadn’t even really been trying. His stare had been generally trained on the great tree or the middle distance, wherein so much yet remained to be seen. Lights constantly swayed in the periphery and suddenly someone would run, catching an attention that had trouble settling down. The worst were the screams, elated or startled by children and adults both, so crisp even from afar in the cold air.

These were all granted for a festival, but he’d somehow forgotten. Or just thought it’d all be fine, by now. Chewing the inside of his lip, he drew a deep breath and glanced at the ground in turn, like it might answer some wish and swallow a man to a silent embrace. It didn’t, merely giving a sound underfoot, riddled with overlapping soleprints.

The next thing he heard was someone talking in a bright tone, right next to him. He had to but glance at the direction to recognize the lad, unmistakable as he was with his companion.

What a night. He could only agree, but even then the remark was awfully funny, prying a scoff out of him.

“ Already, hmh? “ He hummed, some humour in his tone and look that measured to squire up and down. “ Granted, though, taking you appear a touch ill-prepared for the weather. " Marking, he jerked his chin at the squire's hands. No gloves — always a bad choice.

" You heading in? " He continued in question, turning on his heel towards a broad nearby doorway. " I was about to, but—"

A shake of the head cut the rest off. Something caught me out here.

Nacht continued walking towards the main building, only pausing when he managed to pick up the sound of footsteps behind him out of the rest of the ambient noise. Luckily, the person lagging behind saved him the trouble of deciding how to acknowledge their presence when they greeted him first. Unfortunately, the scoff that sounded out from the back gave him little to no indication who exactly he was walking in front of. Shortly after, a more helpful sound found it's way out: Speech.

"Already, hmh?" At the sound of that voice, Nacht turned, now well aware of the one following him. The comment seemed to be made with a humorous tone, mostly lighthearted with that tiny touch of derision Aarno's verbiage was so famous for among the squires. Nacht, as naive and joyful as ever, bit back a cheery retort: Methinks you're having trouble with the cold yourself! A bit hard to see, but it wasn't very cold thanks to his aura, which he put up to block out the chill.

Honestly, things had been going perfectly fine until he imagined jumping into cold water with almost nothing on. Sadly, that mental image's more sensory characteristics were able to avoid his so intricately crafted ward. Nacht focused for a second, making the aura a bit darker. "I don't usually wear heavy clothes. I've had enough of them for a moon elf's lifetime. Plus, I find this little spell covers well enough." He'd quip, making the aura once again weaker and less opaque. Luckily, he had found, the requirements to keep out cold were far lighter than his normal sun-blocking shield.

When Aarno gestured to his hands as if to prove his previous point, Nacht shrugged and made a mental note to actually get some gloves. After all, gloves were the smallest part of his prior wardrobe, one he never wanted to pull from again. Perhaps hands could be covered without bringing back the bad memories. Ears perking up as Aarno continued speaking, he would reach up to pet his cat before responding. "I just wanted to-" He'd manage to quickly eke out, pausing as his newfound companion continued.

Then, the knight shook his head. The words ended abruptly and Nacht listened to the sounds trail off, tensing up. " everything alright?" He'd whisper sharply, not wanting to talk too loudly in case there really was a problem and not a false alarm. Shade's tail brushed his neck, and the boy felt his pet's raised furs and smiled a bit inwardly. Even you have trouble with the cold, huh, Shady? Yes, this was undoubtedly the time to respectfully wait for an answer, but cute animals had always been one of the teen's utmost pleasures. Indeed, it was quite challenging to resist giving his cat a "scritchy-scratch".

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  • Popcorn
Reactions: Hector and Faramund
Petra smiled coyly to herself at Faramund's words.

Oh, if only he knew how well acquainted she had become with Syr Cydonia on the second night of the Elder's Fire. She still recalled how the music had taken her and made her into a carnal thing, a true conduit of such a primal festival. Petra imagined her friend would kick himself in the ass with both boots if he knew the spectacle he had missed.

But Petra was a woman of mercy. And instead of ruining his naivete, she happily followed Faramund through the rolling masses, his broad back easily parting the crowd in her wake while she munched away at the last of her pie.

And as she walked in his step, confident in wherever he would lead them, the songweaver found her eyes drinking in the moon-bathed sights. There was something about being warm and fed and surrounded by the bubbling joy of celebration from people who came from all walks of life, that bloomed a heavy and poignant emotion in her chest.

It felt like peace, felt like reverence.

When finally Faramund spun to face her, she cleared her throat abruptly of her unbidden emotions. Self-consciously wiping her now empty hands down the front of her white layered tunic to smooth it of imaginary wrinkles. She had worn it after deciding on attending the annual Illun Serath Festival. The cloth was of high quality and the intricately sewn golden thread embellished the edges and tapered in her waist; but she felt it was especially beautiful where it adorned the sharp edges of her high collar. The gold matching her jewelry and metal ornaments in her hair. And even her burnished dragon eyes that she was still blinking hot emotions from.

'I was wondering,' he stopped, started again. 'I thought maybe you'd like to exchange bracelets? The, uh, enchanted ones.' He shrugged, shuffled some. 'For starters, I mean.'

Brows high. She stared at him a moment, then two. Uncharacteristically at a loss for words. Her expression inscrutable as her heart worked at trying to restart itself at a normal pace, thinking that maybe she had heard him wrong.


A flush began to creep over the edge of her collar. Tentatively, she reached out, needing to but only touch his hand to anchor herself back to the earth.

"I would be—" She started, but a familiar sight of ethereally blonde hair suddenly filled Petra's immediate vision. Her ears distracted with yet another endearing fact from the devil herself.

"Cydonia?!" Petra smiled with a surprised exhale. Semi grateful for the sudden opportunity to escape from a moment where she probably would have embarrassed herself.

"Reminds me of someone else we know..."
The elf snorted good naturedly as she looked warmly at Faramund. Yes someone indeed.

Changing the subject, Petra took a theatric step back, her hands gesturing grandly to the woman in question, her garb in need of proper credit. "Okay, but Cydonia? By the gods, you look absolutely beautiful! What is all this for? Did I miss a memo or something?" She asked with a self-deprecating chuckle. "And please tell me you still have my sash?" The last said with a conspiratorial wink.

Faramund Syr Cydonia
Faramund had been on the receiving end of a fair few ambushes in his time. How he was still kicking was anybody's guess. Probably cause my comrades are responsible for at least half of them, he shrugged, turning as a familiar voice educated him on the meaning of words. One word, to be exact.

Grinning, Faramund made some room as Cydonia joined them beneath the lamplight.

Dressed to the nines, the she-elf looked like a ray of sunshine personified. Golden, almost blinding in her radiance, it took a moment to fully appreciate the effort she had put in to her choice of garb. In that regard, Faramund was glad Petra was the first to speak. It took a lot of willpower to keep his jaw from dropping, all jests aside.

Listening along in silence, Faramund let the "girl-talk" pass him by. It gave him time to compose himself. Frankly, he needed it.

'I'm sensing a story there,' he said, noting the mischievous twinkle in Petra's eyes. Glancing at Cydonia, the dawnling shrugged. Again. 'Don't mind me,' he continued, waving her on. 'I've got some purchases to make. Unimportant stuff, really. No snacks involved.'

Syr Cydonia Petra Darthinian
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Last one in-" thought better of the ante. "Buys dinner!"

They were now having a very public race to undress the fastest. Her mother would have been mortified.

Lorinna might have despised heights and she was no fan of the chill, but she couldn't leave the challenge unanswered.

"Better keep moving then!" she hissed as she kicked off her boots, skipping her laces.

"Dangit," she swore under her breath. She had skipped some laces on her tunic to get it over her breath and ended up stuck.

She heard the splash of Hector hitting the water.

Lorinna pointed the dark tunnel that her tunic hard formed over her head at Arbok and looked at her.

"Not a word!" she said, as she wriggled free before taking a running jump into the water.