Completed First Annual Solstice Ball [Dreadlords]

Mars Pallatrix

Proctor
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They weren't kidding.

When the Guardsmen had proposed that they throw a formal ball for the Apprentices, Mars had laughed.

It was no joke.

Prior to the ball, seamstresses were brought (blindfolded, of course) onto the castle grounds to size the students for their outfits, then they left. When they returned in the days leading up to the event, they brought several custom-made and tailored dresses for the girls and formal wear for the boys.

The dining hall was cleared and decorated, and as students began to pile into the room, Mars Pallatrix stood dourly against a wall, arms folded, watching as slews of trainees came in. Some looked fearful, others apprehensive, but most of them were downright miserable. Somewhere in the sea of children, Kristen Pirian was probably bubbly with joy.

"COME IN, COME IN!" The Guardsman who aggressively pushed for the ball, Captain Grealish, stood by the hall's entrance beckoning them in. "Enjoy yourselves tonight! Help yourself to food and beverages, and have fun!"
 
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Chasmine

The Odd One
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"Thanks so much for helping me, Mer."

Chasmine had never in her life attempted anything close to wearing makeup or doing her hair in anything other than a simple, messy braid. When faced with the prospect of a dance she'd been mortified with fear of having no idea what to do. Meredith , bless her, had seen her drowning in all the options presented to her by the seamstresses last week and took the initiative to help.

"I've never had makeup on before..." her whistful voice floated gently through the room like a feather as she turned this way and that in front of a mirror, "it's a bit like wearing someone else's face, don't you think?"
 

Kristen Pirian

Pirian's Chosen
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Kristen, at House Pirian's insistent behest, spent a few hours getting ready for the ball. As it usually was for her, and many other noblewomen, when it came to such events. Maybe a bit longer this time, since Pirian servants and garments had to be brought to the Academy and a suitable room to prepare acquired.

But she looked gorgeous! At least, she thought so. Gosh, how long had it been? Oh, well, a year, of course a year, she'd only been in the Academy a year, right, of course, but...ah, it just felt so much longer. How the other initiates could have born such a burden was beyond her. Remarkable, in truth.

A year, but now at last she finally was able to be dressed in comfortable, elegant finery (the rough arming garments, heavy chain and plate, those were a weary bother). Her ball gown bloomed out from her waist like a waterfall of red and white, the colors of House Pirian. Her red silk gloves reached up to her elbows. Her hair was pulled back into a perfectly circular bun, and jeweled earrings (earrings again!) dangled from her ears.

Kristen was one of the first to enter into the dining hall, the smart clacks of her dress shoes announcing her presence if her height did not.

Perhaps those that preceded her or were coming in after her were as Proctor Pallatrix saw: fearful, apprehensive, miserable. But Kristen was none of these. She beamed brightly, her cheeks rosy with delight. She was so incredibly thrilled that the Academy featured dances and balls and galas. Perhaps she ought to ask one of her fellow initiates about last year's ball!

Kristen proceeded to the females' side of the dining hall, there awaiting as the others came in, standing with a regal posture.
 
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Henk hadn't believed when he'd been told. A Ball? In an academy meant for trained killers? Surely it was some kind of a joke, right? He knew that the revolution had brought about many changes, but to think that such a lighthearted and amusing event would be not only permitted, but encouraged... It shocked the slightly older initiate.

At the same time, however, he did understand where it might be coming from. Parties like this would cultivate companionship, and serve to forge bonds. At least, he imagined so. Certainly, Henk had never attended one. He'd had no intention to attend this one either, not until he saw just how many of his peers had decided to give it a shot. It tugged at something within him, that desire to belong with his fellow Initiates. If they could put aside their doubts, then so too could he.

So the quiet, lonely Henk had dressed for the occasion, wearing a black suit over a white button-up, with soft white gloves to cover his hands. His unruly hair was groomed, smoothed against his head. Every speck of dirt and soot scrubbed from his face, and even his piercings had been removed. Of course, nothing could hide the hideous scar on the right side of his face. It would mark him forever.

Henk hated the feel of the shoes he wore; he was so used to boots that his legs felt naked even underneath his trousers when only his feet were protected. Nevertheless, he had made his way into the dining hall with his eyes locked to the ground. He felt ridiculous in this outfit, and the heat that rested in his cheeks was as hot as the sunlight coursing through his veins when he fought.

If nothing else, he would be able to claim that he was here. He doubted this would end well though. His attempts to bond with his classmates never did.
 
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This was stupid. This was undoubtedly, unabashedly, and unprecedentedly stupid. A dance, of all things, when they were at the final years of their dreadlord education. When they should, by rights, be out slaughtering fields of enemies for Vel Anir...or whatever Vel Anir had become. Was this what he was fighting for now? It wasn't a king, it wasn't houses, he wasn't even sure if it was the Anirian people anymore.

"Whatever," he'd muttered as he was told to let the strangers dress him. If this was the current hoop he had to jump through so be it. Evangeline had been unconventional in her lessons, maybe this was just another one of her weird tasks for him. Maybe that was why she had been so insistent on his attendance.

He'd permitted the stiff jacket and uncomfortable shirt, but he had absolutely refused to let them fasten anything about his neck and kept the first few buttons open so that he could breath. The pants were light yet somehow still restrictive, and the shoes had so little grip he wondered how anyone could keep from slipping onto their asses at these things.

He walked in, hands in his pockets with his sleeves roughly rolled up. He instinctively couned exits, noted choke spots, and got a rough head count. He was certain that every other initiate had done the same thing, and he wasn't entirely convinced that the academy wasn't going to light the whole place on fire just to see who could get out.

The girls wearing frilly dresses was probably the most amusing thing so far. It was bizarre to say the least, to see them draped in silk and finery. These were his classmates, his competitors, things that could kill with a thought. They were weapons, not women.

Kristen Pirian was hard to miss, and Vance conceded that she fit the part fairly well. Of course, she didn't really count, did she? She hadn't grown up here, she'd come in after the revolution, after a nice soft life in her fancy house, trained with special teachers all on her own. At least... that was what the rumors said. He scoffed. Things were so different, had it only been a year?

He sat rather unrefinedly at one of the low tables on the "boys' side," watching the rest of his costumed sparring partners filter through.
 

Sable Pembroke

The Bulwark
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This was...new. Odd. Uncomfortable. Sable had read about these kind of things in his books, tales of knights and lords and ladies attending formal balls and comingling, but...Dreadlord initiates doing that very thing? It wasn't so much that Sable minded, in fact the initial notion had been kind of exciting. This was something a noble warrior in an old legend might've done, after all. However, as the time for the event had drawn closer, Sable had found himself becoming inexplicably more...nervous.

What didn't help the matter at all was that, in spite of taking his measurements, the seamstresses hadn't made his shirt quite as large as he felt it should've been. The suit was nice; deep black, three piece, cut to form and quite flattering. He wore a dark, blood red tie and matching pocket square, as well as a slick, black belt and dress shoes.

The silver-buttoned vest of his suit, and the bright, white dress shirt beneath the suit's jacket, however, were tight. Uncomfortably so. They fit him, if barely, but gods did it feel like the buttons were all fighting for dear life to hang on. Sable was concerned that if he flexed just a bit they would all fire off like they'd been launched from a trebuchet and threaten to punch holes through whoever happened to get caught in the barrage.

Yet all that wasn't even what had him as nervous as he was. As Sable took his place among the boys on one side of the hall, his eyes fell to the other side. His mouth was dry and his palms were drenched in sweat. If his books were anything to go off of, he knew what was to follow: dancing. With the girls. Like a valiant knight courting a fair maiden. Gods, why did that make him so nervous? These were female students he'd interacted with on a daily basis and yet he was so bloody nervous.
 

Noel

Iron Maiden
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When the seamstresses had come the one assigned to Noel had brought a verdant green dress that she insisted was the garb of the Southern Guard. Then she proceeded to tell her entire life story, about how her whole family served an extra two years after their mandatory service ended, about her son that was entering the guard next year, gushing about how she hoped he'd meet a girl 'as lovely' as Noel. It was torturous but the actual fitting was pleasant enough.

The night of the ball Noel found herself staring at the emerald dress she wore. It fit tightly around her waist and hips, flowing outwards from there just past her knees. With a flick of her wrist she summoned several dozen shards of sparkling platinum and used her magic to affix them throughout the garment. While the gesture caused the outfit to sparkle it also ensured she wouldn't be attending the ball unarmed. You know, just in case.

Just prior to her departure however she found herself interrupted by Eleanor. She was dressed in her traditional academy fatigues, her hair a mess, and her dress still sitting in the garment bag it had been delivered in. Poor Ella had even tried to convince Noel that it'd be fine if she showed up like that.

"Appearances are vitally important," she informed her, "it's the difference between people thinking of me as a stone-hearted bitch and a beautiful stone-hearted bitch." She helped the red-haired girl adjust her hair, applied a bit of makeup, and got her settled in the dress she was provided despite her complaints about how it fit. When they were finished Ella was truly stunning, to a point where Noel feared she'd gone overboard and made the girl look more appealing than herself.

But, Noel had grown to like Ella more in recent months. A year ago she despised her, blamed her for things that weren't her fault. But Ella had been strong and diligent and focused. All traits that Noel couldn't help but respect her for.

The pair approached the ball and as dismissive as Noel was outwardly to whole affair she couldn't deny the butterflies in her stomach. If she was going to one day become the youngest Archon in Vel Anir's history she'd need to be used to galas and balls and dolling herself up for appearance's sake.
 

Edric

The Warrior
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"Vance." One might have supposed that Edric had somehow managed to break the laws of magic with how quickly and quietly he appeared behind his favorite rival. His hand coming down to clutch at the other Initiates shoulder.

His expression was a blank marble statue, stern and serious as he looked down.

He wore much the same as the others did. A fancy getup that he'd been forced into by the watchful eyes of the people overseeing this ludicrous fiasco. They had threatened him with half a dozen punishments if he did not cooperate, and when he'd said he would simply not attend Proctor Kellmir had told him he would be quickly defenestrated and made to sleep with the pigs.

All his arguing about how there was a better way to spend their time, how he could be training, how he would rather have been sent on a mission was for naught. They had insisted, and ultimately he'd had little choice.

So Edric had dressed himself, threatening the tailor with a heart attack if he tried to get anywhere near him. As a result the young man appeared a tad less put together than most of his peers, though that didn't seem to bother him in the least. "I will do your chores for the rest of the month."

He offered.

"All you have to do is distract the Proctors." Edric pointed to the gaggle of former Dreadlords standing watchfully at one end of the room. "Maybe you could take out the chandelier. Those crystals would probably catch a spark pretty well."

At least enough to draw the eyes for a few seconds. Which was, coincidentally, all Edric needed to get the fuck out of here.
 

Meredith

Touch of the Leech
Member
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Meredith adored Chasmine, their unlikely friendship dear to her. Mer had a little experience with hair and makeup, and was happy to assist her friend in getting ready. She was careful not to touch her with bare skin, to avoid an unwanted disaster.

"Anytime Chas, you know I'm happy to." She laughed softly at Chasmine's wistful remark. "I suppose that's not inaccurate. I've seen makeup hide all kinds of blemishes." Meredith donned her elbow length saying gloves and grabbed Chas's hand. "Let's go see how everyone else looks." She flashed her friend a smile. "Plus I even have a bag of snacks if the food sucks." Chasmine made her feel like a teenager was supposed to, even if she hadn't participated in some of the extracurricular activities Chas did.

Chasmine
 

Chasmine

The Odd One
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Within her tiny clutch Chas had placed several tiny things to take along with her, just in case. The collection included an acorn, a bookmark, several hairpins at Meredith's insistence, a rumpled feather, an old button, a smoothed quartz stone with a hole in it, and several dried mushrooms.

The last of which she plucked one small piece from and popped it into her mouth. If there was one thing Chasmine didn't want for tonight, it was to be beset upon by ghosts in the middle of a dance. Or to ghost through the dance floor amidst a phasing fit.

"Oh-" she blinked and trotted after Meredith as the girl took her hand and lead her from the room, "snacks! You think of everything."

Upon arriving to the ballroom Chasmine walked inside with wide eyes full of glossy wonder. It stood to reason she should have been marveling at how nice her classmates all looked, but she couldn't help to notice...

"Mer," she stopped, head tilted back as she stared up at the ceiling, her gaze drawn by the festive decor, "did you know the ceiling in here is checkered?"

All her years here and she'd never noticed this. And it was undulating. How magical!
 
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Walter Banick

Count of Ostia Anir
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The carriage ride to the Academy was pleasant enough, and it gave Walter plenty of time to think on the situation.

First Annual Solstice Ball.

What an utter farce. Walter's support for the Revolution had been tepid at best, changing only in accordance with who stood the best chance to end the conflict swiftly, yet this made him question even that meager support he had mustered. So his birds had sung songs most accurate, and most disturbing: the Academy had changed, and not for the better. The Guard had changed. This Captain Grealish, had a blow struck him during the fighting of the revolution that relieved him of his manhood? What possible benefit did this man believe he would bestow onto these ill-honed children with this ball? Luxuries of this kind were not even afforded to trainees of the Guard until after they were fully-fledged Guardsmen, nor was this common practice in any other military to speak of, present or historical. Captain Grealish risked removing the blade from the grindstone here. These children were supposed to become warriors, and here this small allowance (and all the others doubtless like it sure to take place in the future), these compounding failures to keep to the grindstone until duly sharpened, might well, in a few years' time, cost one of these initiates their lives. And their lament from the grave will be tragic: "If only my training had prepared me!"

It won't be this class of initiates who suffer this fate, no, probably not. It will be the ones whose enter into an Academy fully corrupted by the soft sensibilities of the Republic.

And Walter was keen on courting what few worthy up and coming Dreadlords of this dying breed there were. Those that showed drive. Those that had potential. Those that understood the weight of their responsibility to Vel Anir and her people. Even with the restrictions imposed by the Republic, he could "make room" on Banick's roster if he deemed it necessary.

Primarily, though, he had come to perhaps open a dialogue with the Proctors. Certainly, certainly, some among their number shared his concerns about the Academy. Fruitful talks beget focused action. And there were options for this precarious situation of the Academy. Always, in any case, there were options.

Well, the Ball at least provided Walter the convenient excuse (and plausible cover) for visiting the Academy and making these talks happen.

Walter entered into the dining hall during a small lull in the procession of dressed up initiates (the absolute sight of it) and spotted swiftly enough the cluster of Proctors against the far wall, most looking much like he had hoped they would look. One of Walter's birds had given him a name and a description to pursue, and such was a good place to start.

Walking around the perimeter of the dining hall, giving the initiates all a wide berth, Walter approached the Proctors.

Approached Mars in particular. He smiled cordially. Extended a hand.

"Proctor Pallatrix. Count Walter Banick. I am delighted to make your acquaintance--your reputation precedes you."

Mars Pallatrix
 

Eleanor

Red Dead Dreadkid
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Eleanor was the farthest thing from girly. She was a killer and a killer did not worry about silly things like hair and makeup. That was why her red hair was always in a low bun and she was in her academy fatigues the majority of the time. Easy. This ball called for something more though. It called for Ella to look like a girl and to wear a dress. Two things that the Dreadlord apprentice had never done or cared to do.

Ella had gone to the one person that she hoped would be able to help her. She looked pathetic holding her garment bag when Noel opened the door. Noel had helped her though. She had done her hair, applied some makeup, and helped get Eleanor into the ridiculous dress that showed off way too much skin. When Ella had looked in the mirror, she gasped at her reflection. The person staring back did not look like the woman who had come here just an hour earlier.

Now the two of them entered the dining hall together. Ella immediately felt self conscious with her cleavage being on full display and the front part of the dress being shorter and showing off her long legs while the back flowed to the ground.

"Noel, what do we even do at this thing?" Her voice was softer than normal as she looked around at all the well dressed apprentices.
 

Kristen Pirian

Pirian's Chosen
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Everyone was looking spectacular! It was as if they had been transformed into the best versions of themselves in a mere matter of hours! Chasmine, Meredith, Ella, even Noel, they all looked simply stunning! Surely they were enjoying themselves, finally having the opportunity to dress up and feel pretty, a reprieve from the mud and grime and sweat and blood and all the other ghastly things they suffered during their training. Henk, Vance, Sable, and Edric--Edric of all people--all looked marvelously handsome in their formal attire, and certainly they too had to enjoy this opportunity to look nice, even if boys perhaps preferred the mud and grime and all of those rough and tumble things.

Soon, the speaker would announce the commencement of the dance, the boys and the girls might be paired off (such was how these dances usually went, in Kristen's experience), and the fun would begin in earnest.

But in the moments prior, Kristen had the opportunity to speak with Ella. What better occasion than now, when everyone's spirits were high!

She and Noel had entered together. The dress Ella wore was a touch...immodest, but maybe that was Noel's influence? Regardless, Kristen waited until they joined the girls' side, and then she primly made her way over to them.

Smiling brilliantly, she said, "Ella! You look absolutely radiant! Oh, I can only imagine how delightful last year's ball must have been. If you've time, you'll have to tell me of it."

Kristen, focused on Ella, had not noticed Walter Banick enter the dining room.

Eleanor Noel
 
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Henk's eyes remained mostly on his own feet. At first it had been out of shyness, but remaining still had allowed him to fall into a peaceful state of relaxation, to be lost in his own thoughts for a moment. Henk was happy in his own head; he could live out the fantasies that he knew would never come, not when his destiny had already been set.

The sounds of other voices were increasing now, though. Henk raised his head once more, the soft blush on his pallor cheeks gone. Many of his peers had arrived while he'd focused; Sable looked just as uncomfortable as Henk. Vance appeared more unamused than anything else, but Edric was... Well, outwardly he looked stoic, unemotional. Henk had a feeling that he was filled with misery in a place like this, however. Among all of the initiates, Edric embodied the old way more than any other. That he was here was striking in itself though., though.

So, he wasn't alone in his discomfort. That made him feel a bit less nervous about looking over to the women. As Henk had suspected, they were all divine in their appearance. Meredith and Chasmine wore smiles even brighter than the extravagant clothing they wore on their faces, and it rubbed off on Henk, bringing the scarred corner of his mouth curling up a bit. They were happy. That was wonderful.

The sparkling platinum and emerald ensemble that Noel wore befitted her, Henk thought. Like her outfit, she was beautiful and exemplary, always one to stand out in a crowd. Those sharp sparkling shards matched the danger that always followed her, however. She was never caught off guard, never one to go without a bloody fight. The ebony-haired woman looked perfect.

Kristen wore a beautiful gown of pearl and scarlet, jewels sparkling on her as she wandered about as well. Those colors reminded him quite a bit of her usual attire. How interesting that those faithful colors never escaped her? Then there was Eleanor. After one look... well, Henk let out a surprised cough and averted his eyes. She didn't leave much to his imagination, not that he'd made a habit out of imagining any of his contemporaries in any particular state of undress. Still, he felt the color rising to his face again as he slid his gloved hands into his pockets, trying to hide the glow they threatened to emit from the brief burst of excitement that had assaulted him.

This wasn't going to be easy, was it?
 
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Edric's hand was like a heavy vice on Vance's shoulder, but the red-haired apprentice did not stir beyond lifting his head a few inches with a trademarked smirk. He had felt the telltale draining aura preceding the approach, and he immediately steadied against it. "Edric," he returned the greeting. He hadn't looked, but he could only imagine what the boy must look like in his fancy clothes. Surely he would have put up more of a fight than anyone.

"Are you trying to get me detention again?" he asked, propping an elbow up on the finely draped table and looking at the chandeliers Edric had mentioned. He was right, they would light up most spectacularly. He pretended to clean a bit of dust off his fingers, as was his custom when trying to be as insufferable as possible. "I'm afraid if I'm stuck here then so are you. Of course if you want to make a break for it I'll be sure to vouch for you during the disciplinary hearing."

He did turn, now, to see the scowl that surely would tower down at him. The young men were of comparable height but Edric was just... big. What he saw, instead, was a bull dressed very similarly to himself. "And look at you! Why ever should you want to leave?" It was a bit ridiculous, but not as ridiculous as Sable being stuffed into the dress shirt. Whatever that boy ate seemed to go directly to his... everything.

He cast his gaze back over the girls. It was hard not to, what with all the shiny baubles they had hooked to them. He could barely recognize most of them. Noel's telltale platinum caught his eye with a grimace. It would be difficult to look past that and see how marvelous she appeared. At least he didn't have a piece of the stuff strapped to his ribs in here, but he made a point to avoid her gaze all the same.

Meredith he knew, the white-haired girl she was with he did not. Quite floaty, that one, looking at... what, the ceiling?

He almost choked over his own tongue seeing Eleanor, and a small blue spark fizzled at his eyeline while he tried to suppress the blood rushing to his face. He... hadn't spoken to her in some time.

"I suppose they'll be pairing us up next," he said in a rather forced tone, trying to distract himself. "At least Mer's got her gloves on."
 

Meredith

Touch of the Leech
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Meredith pulled Chas along and into the ballroom. She was so glad she had opened herself up to friendship for the first time to Chas. She found herself smiling more and more each day. Chas just had a way with people, a charm that opened others up.

She didn't comment on the mushroom that her wispy friend had popped into her mouth. She knew now why it was necessary. Chas stopped dead in her tracks, eyes glued to the ceiling before they could even study their peers. She laughed softly at her friend's exclamation. Of course she knew, but she gave Chas her moment. "Hey, look at that. I had no idea!" She grinned and gently pulled Chas along.

She looked around, everyone looked so different. She didn't know what version she preferred. Her gaze skittered past Ella's, her dress was in Mer's eyes, a hazard. Noel was scarily beautiful, especially with her chosen attire. Kristen was quick to approach the other girls, and the gaggle left Meredith too mollified to approach.

The boys were slowly clumping together, and she only cast a quick awkward glance at them. When it came to the boys, she didn't even know how to talk to them most of the time. Henk seemed happy to just be here, he was always sweet. She never knew what to think of Vance, he always seemed to think of himself as above the others. Sable and Edric were both hulking figures that her eyes inevitably wandered to. Sable looked, well different. It was a good look for him.

"What do you want to do first Chas? I'm sure we'll be made to dance at some point."
 

Mars Pallatrix

Proctor
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Mars chose to fix his gaze on the far wall. Were he to occupy his thoughts on the current proceedings, his brain might melt out of his ears. The former First found the whole ordeal to be a waste of time, but he tried to be open-minded. Evangeline D'Amour had pleaded for him to do that much.

"Count," he quickly turned his attention on the nobleman and offered a rough hand with a firm grip to Walter. "I cannot say the same. Nonetheless, welcome."

The Proctor unenthusiastically opened his arms to the dining hall and trainees that mingled about it.

"Vel Anir's greatest."
 
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Dorian

Spirit Hoarder
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Of all the Apprentices, Dorian's dress was the simplest, though not lacking the least bit in luxury. The seamstresses had marveled over the boy's slender, athletic frame, fluffy white hair, and otherworldly blue eyes.

When Dorian entered the dining hall, he was in all black, and his normally messy hair was neatly styled into a 7:3 part using mousse to hold it. He stood out from the rest as he wore his outfit naturally.

"Hey, Henk," Dorian wearily mustered and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the larger boy, his hands stuffed in his pockets. "Ain't this something. Say, seen Chasmine around?"
 

Chasmine

The Odd One
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Staring wonderingly as the ceiling continued to gently writhe above, Chas let her gaze drift slowly about to follow the rainbow of pearlescent colors presently exploding across the checkered backdrop. It was like a fantastical midnight sky had opened up inside the hall and the aurora lights had filtered in. What magic was this?

She hadn't time to ponder it as Mer gently pulled her away, the lengths of her simple but elegant black dress traipsing about her heels as she went. When she looked back to her friend it was as if her dress were blooming in brilliant fluorescent hues.

"Gosh Mer, you're like a butterflower. Fly. Flowerfly," Chas smiled dreamily at her friend and watched as her dress began to flutter before her eyes, "do you think there's juice? I'm suddenly really thirsty and I just don't think I can dance if I'm thirsty."
 

Sable Pembroke

The Bulwark
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Calm down, calm down, calm down, caaaaalm doooown.

Sable rubbed a hand over his face and breathed deeply. This was nothing to stress about! He was a Dreadlord initiate, a valiant and honorable warrior who had already faced unimaginable horrors and insurmountable challenges. What was a little dance in comparison with that? Nothing! Ha! Perish this foolishness. Perhaps he'd just do a bit of mingling with his fellow male students before Proctor Pallatrix called for--oh, gods, a pair off was coming, wasn't it?

The lofty lad puffed his cheeks with air and exhaled deeply as he let his hand slide off his face. Right. The boys. He'd picked up earlier on Dorian's apparent fondness for Chasmine, maybe he'd discuss a good strategy for aiding him in that endeavor. He looked left and--nope, his snowy haired friend was already pestering Henk. Unfortunate. Well, there was always Edric, he supposed; abrasive, that one, but perhaps they could discuss sparring. After all, Edric seemed the type to totally hate this type of--gods be damned, he and Vance were discussing something already.

There were still plenty of others around he could have distracted himself with, but he didn't really know any of them and he doubted the idle chitchat they might offer would serve any valuable level of diversion. Lords and ladies, this was a conundrum. Alright, fine. Sable decided that he'd just try to pick out any familiar faces from the other side of the room. That way he could at least adjust himself to the situation a little better. Plus, the proctors had been kind enough to put out some refreshments. A bit of whatever liquid was occupying the bowls on a nearby table would at least serve to wet his otherwise parched palate.

A cup was fetched and filled, and now Sable had something to occupy himself with. He peered across the room once more. Noel was easy to pick out; scintillating platinum was probably something he should've expected to adorn her. Even when she was dressed up, perfection was clearly her goal. He hadn't expected green to really be her color, but it worked well.

Kristen was similarly easy to pick out, but more because she positively towered over the other girls. As expected of a proper noble, she was the picture of peerless grace. It looked like she was attempting conversation with...ah, Eleanor. He almost choked on his drink at the realization of what she was wearing. Wow. That was...bold. Best not linger on that too long.

Finally, Sable's wandering gaze found Chasmine among the crowd. The black dress was a good choice to go with her nearly white hair. Truthfully, she looked quite pretty, and he silently rooted for his good friend Dorian's success. She was, however, very obviously tripping balls. That was a thousand yard stare the likes of which Sable hadn't seen since getting to talk to a few veteran Dreadlords who'd participated in the campaign on Vel Istra a couple of years back. Thankfully she seemed to be being looked after by...by...

Sable's heart suddenly leapt into his throat, and his eyes went wide. An incredibly elegant, tasteful, blood red dress; stylish and refined gloves that climbed her arms and complimented the look; and striking, red hair that bounced in loose curls past her shoulders. Was that...Meredith??

Sable hadn't interacted much with Meredith over the years. She was fairly reserved, and numerous rumors surrounding her magic had put many off to the girl. He was now regretting that fact. She looked stunning, and Sable was now more anxious than ever...so much so that he didn't realize he was quite unsubtly staring over the top of his cup.
 

Edric

The Warrior
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Edric scowled. "I have a better chance at sleeping with the Dynast of Dornoch than making it past Proctor Pellatrix."

He let out a sigh. The old man always seemed to be one step ahead somehow. It reminded him of Fermin in a way, just...better. A fact which drove Edric absolutely insane. At least with someone like Vance he could create a counter strategy, but how did you fight something you didn't understand? Perhaps there was an answer in the Archives.

He generally didn't tend to venture there, leaving it to Meredith and the other bookworms. But maybe if he asked Lector Wynn she would be able to find him an answer, or at least get him close to one. It was worth a shot, especially if he could get one over on Fermin.

The young man stood, scowling and lost in thought as Vance complemented his suit.

His attention was only brought back when Vance mentioned being 'paired up'. A frown touched his lips, and for the first time he looked up at the other side of the hall.

He looked to Meredith first. A chill running down his spine as he remembered what her touch did. His eyes flickered, glancing at the silken gloves which were half wrapped around the arms of that wispy white haired girl. Chess? Edric was pretty sure that was her name. Dorian and Sable fawned over her, he knew that much. Though he had absolutely no idea why. The girl was about as large a threat as a hamster with only three feet.

Next his gaze swept to Eleanor, his eyes dancing low for just one brief moment. Eyebrows raising as he took in her...considerable assets. The two of them had just recently returned from a mission in the north, during which his appreciation for her had notably grown.

Besides her was that Pirian girl, who was about as threatening as a hamster with one leg that happened to be broken. Then came Noel.

Edric only frowned as he looked at her. "Well."

He said, looking down at Vance and pulling his attention away from the gaggle of girls.

"With your coordination, you best hope they give you someone who can lead." He patted Vance on the shoulder. "Otherwise I'm sure I could find that nice new Proctor to teach you another lesson."
 

Noel

Iron Maiden
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203
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"Ella," Noel began to speak to the fiery-haired girl with a pep in her voice, "we're going to stand here and let our male classmates admire us." She considered warning the poor girl about the dancing and the awkward moments she'd read about in novels. But, truthfully, Noel didn't know much about what would happen next either.

She did, however, notice the looks the pair of them were receiving. Perhaps it was vanity but the stolen glances managed to make her smirk and feel a strange sense of pride.

And then, as if on cue to ruin the flirtatious looks and good feelings, Kristen Pirian felt the need to come over.

These noble girls were un-fucking-believable. So-called, 'commoners,' couldn't wear fanciful garb for even a few seconds before some member of the nobility flocked to them to remind them of their place. Even if the freakishly tall Pirian woman held good intentions there wasn't any doubt in Noel's mind that she came to gloat. Cemented by her inquiry about, 'last year's ball,' as if this was some normality for the students of the Dreadlord Academy.

"Kristen," she said with a flat voice while allowing Ella to answer.
 
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Henk's admiration of his peers was interrupted by a voice approaching beside him, and he would turn his head to see Dorian looking... well, a good deal more natural than any of the others. This was the kind of thing he could pull off much more easily than he. Henk almost envied him.

"Hello Dorian. Good to see you made it." The pale, white-haired boy was crass, rude, and oftentimes cowardly, but Henk had always admired his analytical mind and talent for rational thought even in the midst of immense stress. With a black attire that contrasted nicely with his skin and hair, Henk had no doubt he would turn some heads, perhaps even the head that he intended to turn.

Nodding in the direction of the women on the other side of the hall, he pointed a gloved finger at where Chasmine and Meredith eagerly chatted away. "She's over there with Meredith. They both look quite stunning, don't you think?"

Unprompted, and knowing it may earn him a bruise, Henk raises a hand and pats Dorian's shoulder softly. "I'm sure she'll be excited to see you, Dorian. You're important to her."

Dorian
 

Eleanor

Red Dead Dreadkid
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277
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Eleanor felt so uncomfortable in this dress. It was not that she was modest, because she wasn’t. The majority of the people in this room had seen her naked and vice versa. They were soldiers and they did not worry about things like the body. This dress was different though. It hugged the curves that she had never paid attention to and was so low cut that she felt like she was about to fall out of it.

“Admire us,” she said softly, but she did kind of love the looks as their male counterparts saw them then tried to cover their shock. “It’s not that bad, I suppose. Thank you again, Noel.”

She barely had the words out before Kristen Pirian made her way over to them. She sighed and glanced at Noel before sneering at Kristen as she greeted the two ladies. Her whole demeanor had changed in just a minute. “Last years ball? You are kidding me, right? This,” she gestured around the room, “is not a normal occurrence. This is born of the same bullshit that brought you to the Academy.”

The same bullshit that was making her life miserable. She was so stifled and held back now. She just wanted things to go back to how they had always been.
 

Walter Banick

Count of Ostia Anir
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41
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A firm, confident handshake. Walter didn't expect anything less from a Dreadlord of the First Level. And here was a man that, according to the brief history Walter had been apprised of, had given up all that he had accrued over a decorated service period of roughly twenty years to become a Proctor. To forge for Vel Anir the warriors of the next generation. Look now at what the revolution has done to this man's selfless act. Everything this man Mars has done for home and country, and the republic all but shackles him for it, neutering his ability to prepare these children for the same rigors he himself had to face. A disgrace, through and through. The republic's great victory over the old oligarchy was at the same time its greatest defeat, one set to play out over the coming years if nothing was done about it.

"Vel...Anir's...greatest," Walter echoed, enunciating each word slowly and with a sagging weight of disappointment.

He crossed his arms, looking over the initiates. The boys on one side, girls on the other. Weapons--supposedly. It still remained to be seen. Depending, of course, on what constituted for "graduation" at the Academy now.

"Mayhap the last class who might be worthy of such a laudable title."

Walter glanced back to Mars. Said in a lower, more confidential voice, his tone frank and plain, "Tell me, Proctor Pallatrix, among those gathered here, is there any in whom you would entrust your life on the battlefield?" Walter chuckled lightly, then added, "Though I acknowledge that may be difficult given the present circumstances."

Weapons. Even if they did not look the part here and now.

Mars Pallatrix