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  #1  
Old Apr 22nd, 2014, 05:22 PM
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A Quiet Gathering

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The instructions were explicit: Transportation by carriage would be arranged for all guests. One mustn't drink and ride, after all. The invitees would arrive at seven in the evening according to the village clock. No sooner. No later. Dinner would be served promptly at seven fifteen after reception and introductions. Guests were regrettably not permitted.

The grand estate of the Family Von Grimmler stood atop a low and lonely hill near the flourishing village of Lenore, named for the first Baron Von Grimmler's beloved daughter. Spired roofing, intricately carved stonework and vaulted ceilings set the aged manse in beautiful but peculiar relief against the picturesque countryside of the Grimmler Barony. For nearly one hundred and twenty years it stood sentinel over the village below and within the last thirty alone became a bastion of innovation such that the one-time peasants' villa of Lenore boomed with new residency as scientists, artists, historians, magi and scholars of every blush hastened to enjoy the creative atmosphere... and, of course, the steady flow of funding... surrounding the newly christened Baron Hanz Von Grimmler. As a result of the Baron's notorious generosity, the village grew and prospered in the shadow of the ancient house.

On that particular night, the rains fell in torrential sheets, beating hard against the sides of the covered carriage and muffling the sounds of the hoofbeats as three brown destriers plodded their way through the muddy streets of Lenore and up the long path to the Grimmler Estate. Each rolled to a stop beneath an intricately carved stonework gazebo where the venerable Collinsworth stood ready to receive each guest individually. "Good evening, Or milady, in the case of Quinn.milord, if you would follow me into the parlour, his Honor and her Ladyship stand ready to receive you." Though the rain drummed heavily all around, the tall and broad-shouldered butler's deep voice carried clearly over it as he stood to attention and made his announcement for each of the three invitees.

Within, the house was warm, well lit and lavishly appointed in a manner of such elegance and artistry that was unknown in all but the palace of the king himself. Marble flooring of a checkered pattern not unlike a chess board was overlaid hither and yon with eye-catching and intricately woven rugs unlike even those the merchants transported from the Spice Islands and carted overland from the Orient. The patterns alone were so delicate and symmetrical as to catch the eye, but dizzying in their complexity, with not only geometric shapes and fractal patterns, but faces and objects hidden therein through the clever use of varying shades of a similar color or different sheen of thread. Simple lanterns lined the walls, affixed to stems with flowering glass enclosures cast in the faintest hues of green and blue and looking engraved almost like stonework rather than blown glass. The effect was such that the harsh yellow flames of the burning oils were reduced to a pale, effervescent glow that calmed as well as illuminated. Either wall was lined with a series of statues, paintings, baubles, books and trinkets. Pastoral scenes were dominant here, as well as a loose angelic theme among the carvings.

"Oh, how delightful!" declared the Baroness cheerily as each guest entered the parlour. "We are so very pleased to welcome you to our home this evening. Please, won't you join us for a pre-dinner cocktail? To clear the palate and loosen the tongue," she added with a wink. The Baron stood beside his wife with a dour expression upon his face and offered nothing more than a nod of acknowledgement and a hand for the shaking.

 

Last edited by moozuba; Apr 23rd, 2014 at 08:01 AM.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2014, 02:12 PM
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Ambrose steps out of his carriage, his 6'1" frame rising up to its full height as he unfolds himself from his conveyance. He stands clad in a silk garment of bright red, the better to enflame the passions of the Lady Von Grimmler. Rounding out the outfit is an ornamental rapier on his belt and a feathered cap that would make a peacock envious.

Sniffing in the derisive manner of a noble, Ambrose gestures for Collinsworth to get on with it and to lead him to his hosts. The disdain of his actions are contrasted starkly with the politeness of his words. "Thank you."

Once inside, Ambrose looks around in wonder. 'I had no idea that Baron Hanz was so affluent! Especially after all the money I had to throw at those useless artists to secure my invitation here! - Ah! There she is!'

Bowing low before the vision of beauty welcoming him to the party, Ambrose begins his work of seduction. "I thank you most heartily for your gracious reception!" 'A wink? Ah! The Lady is more receptive than I first assumed!' "A cocktail strikes me as most agreeable on this dreary night. May the warmth of new friendships grant us all a very enjoyable evening." Ambrose slyly returns Portia's wink once he's certain the Baron is not looking. And then, he immediately seizes the older gentleman's hand, pumping it up and down in his exaggerated style. "My good sir! Thank you again for this opportunity to dine with you and your lovely wife. I daresay that she is the finest looking creature for a thousand miles in any direction. And I do hope we will get a chance to discuss our mutual patronage of the arts."

Releasing the Baron, Ambrose practically dances to the side to give the other attendees a chance to greet their hosts. But his eyes are never long off the Baroness. 'So sinfully attractive. Far too attractive for a codgy old man like Hanz. I dare say that I'd be doing the lady a favor by giving her some of my "discreet" attentions. The poor girl's married life must be incredibly dull with a husband like him.'
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Old Apr 23rd, 2014, 02:51 PM
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The carriage rattled to a stop and the doorman pulled open the door. After a moment, a red-capped head emerged, looking up and around with bright green eyes over high, sharp cheekbones. The slightly pointed ears of a half-elf were covered by the cap, but there was no mistaking his fey ancestry when he stepped down, seeming to glide down from the carriage.

Below the smooth cheeks and nearly expressionless mouth, a scarlet collar as well as scarlet piping on his traditional priest's robes marked him for what he was. A Brother of the Ordo di Sanguinari, the Truth Hunters. Among their detractors, they were the Heresy Eaters or the Grape Hunters. Either way, the order was known for their penchant of sticking their noses into the dankest, vilest corners of Christendom, obsessed with ferreting out the ancient relics of the Church. Rumors swirled of their secret, but more vital purpose: they were the bird dogs of the Church, sent to root out heresy and expose it to the light, so that the more well-known Orders Militant might stamp it out.

As one would imagine, this life was difficult, and Giovani Hettore Piabo exhibited the too-bright eyes and slightly flushed cheeks of a man who had already met the refreshments. Stepping smoothly despite the mildly glassy expression, he nodded to the chamberlain. "Please, son, bless you and lead on." Following in the man's wake, he made his way into the hall. Gliding along in his black cassock, he seemed serene, but close inspection revealed his eyes tracking the finery, cataloging it and filing it away. A slight pause on the liquor cabinet, then he turned his eyes to his hosts.

"May the Lord hold this house and all within it safe from harm and free of the Betrayer's corruption." He bowed to the Baron, then adroitly kissed the Baroness' hand. "We of the Order are ever joyous to find such a bastion of learning. I do hope that your efforts may allow me to learn more of our Lord's Holy will. It is amazing what can be brought to light by sufficient study." He smiled at the two hosts, a warm, beneficent smile that nearly hid the weighing gaze. "A cocktail would be most refreshing, my Lady. Travel is every wearisome, and I have come far along many dusty roads."

With another bow, he stepped back, taking not of the noble who seemed to have arrived prior to him. "My Lord." With a nod of his head he seemed to withdraw into his robes, leaning slightly on his staff, the cross on its head glinting in accompaniment to the golden cross on the priest's chest.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2014, 05:28 PM
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Doctor Quinn Dobranoc
The surgeon is lost deep in thought as the carriage rattles along to its destination, staring out blankly at the surroundings as they rumble by, the rain mercifully serving to soothe her anxieties. She is chancing much of everything on this gathering, an endeavour to earn her the patronage she needs to make real strides and progress in her work, and if the notably odd Baron von Grimmler is not receptive to her theorems then she fears that few others would be. She's heard so very many rumours of the various outlandish concepts and speculation that the man has thrown his wealth at, almost without rhyme or reason, but her work is far more important than such trivialities.

What she has discovered thusfar is merely the tugging of a veil to reveal the marvellously complex machine that lies beneath, proof that death is merely as reversible a state as sleep or an induced coma, and the key to unlocking the mystery of death and undeath is so tantalisingly close to being within her grasp. Mixed metaphors aside, Quinn is no fool, she just hopes against hope that she can convince the Baron to see the way she does. Her daintily gloved fingers trace over the smoothed wooden handle of her carry case, within which the bulk of her more pertinent research lies, or rather carefully made copies of the papers that lie in a well-hidden safe in the Dobranoc Estate. Her life's work condensed to a space no larger than a breadbox, with the the tools of her trade packed neatly beside, and hidden beneath the false bottom lie the darker utensils that represent her forays into charnel houses and tombs as a mark of how far she has come. Or fallen, in some eyes.

She has given up so much to reach this point, and she will not be deterred by the lack of a material concept as mundane and pointless as currency, or as boring as ethics.

As the carriage comes to a stop, Quinn collects herself and shakes the clouds from her mind, allowing Collinsworth to escort her inside. The servant offers to take her carry case, to which she respectfully declines, opting to keep it on her person for the time being. She gives him honest thanks coupled with a smile, and upon being led within, finds herself rather caught up in the spectacle of the manor. Everything she sees is far more lavish and expensive than what she had ever been used to, and given it has been quite some time since she has lain eyes upon the home of someone quite so wealthy, she finds herself a tad overwhelmed - she doesn't even have the sense to feel a twinge of jealousy. The woman becomes dimly aware that the Baroness herself is addressing her, and as her attention snaps to, she is only able to catch the offer of libation.
"Oh, of course, I'd be most thankful!" She sweetly speaks a response with a broad smile, hoping nothing important had been asked of her while she stood in reverie, and then turned her attention fully to greeting the hosts and then her fellow guests.

Quinn herself is a woman of petite proportions, being both slender and rather graceful in her movements, and stands a good deal shorter than than her two fellow attendees - Ambrose in particular. Her dress is finely made of a blue-grey fabric, one that brings out the pale colour of her eyes, a remarkably fashionable affair with a lower cut than the woman has ever worn before revealing her milky white skin. While she still maintains an air of propriety and modesty, it is certainly eye-catching, though perhaps not as much as the baroness herself. Quinn would never admit it openly, but the doctor had spent a good deal of her dwindling coin to acquire the dress, and had made her own 'modifications' for the evening with her own needle and thread. Her long hair, as black as a raven's feathers, has been neatly styled and tied into a bun. She regards everyone above the oval spectacles that rest upon her nose, a genuine smile on her face as she looks them over, her gloved hands folded neatly before her as they lightly hold the handle of her wood-carved carry case. All in all, the widow has managed to strike a fine balance between demure and alluring, and the outcome is likely not unintentional.

"It is so good to finally meet you all, I have been looking forward to this since I first received the invitation!" She chimes earnestly, doing her best to appear as approachable as she can, finding only small difficulties. Returning to social events so suddenly after so long has left the doctor feeling as if she's brushing off cobwebs from part of her mind, and while her discomfort now is only minor, she hopes it doesn't carry through enough for others to notice.
"I look forward to our discussions very much, I'm sure we're all in for a rather entertaining evening." The widow continues, sounding appropriately enthused for the gathering, and trying her best to remain positive in spite of the baron's somewhat sour demeanour.
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Last edited by Darkling; Apr 23rd, 2014 at 05:36 PM.
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Old Apr 24th, 2014, 08:01 AM
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An Introduction to the Non-Player Characters

Replying to each greeting with the same, rumbling "Milord," Collinsworth escorted the guests one-by-one into the parlour and provided each in turn with a pre-mixed cocktail -- a savory mixture of whisky, vermouth and bitters. Though practiced at blending into the lavish backdrop of the handsomely appointed mansion, as a physical specimen Collinsworth stood out far more than most. Broad-chested, deep-voiced, at least as tall as Ambrose, and set with a seemingly permanent frown -- he attended to the Baron's guests with unflinching professionalism and seemed somehow to anticipate their needs before they themselves knew what was needful. The monk's drink was exchanged for a new even as he drained the dregs from the prior. An added splash of vermouth was provided to sweeten the lady's drink after the butler noted the purse of her lips upon tasting. It was Ambrose he watched most closely, however, looming nearby... unmoving and unspeaking, but silently judging the lecherous noble for his overt interest in Lady Portia.

For her part, the Baroness proved herself to be a natural and gracious hostess. The gathering was clearly her idea. She flitted about, beaming with delight and cooing warm words of welcome to all of her guests. Her dazzling smile was even more eye-catching than her figure. Atop a gown of crimson and black, she had squeezed into an hourglass corset that caused her already voluptuous form to blossom outward in a manner most enticing to the likes of Ambrose, with ample cleavage, an unnaturally slender waist and full hips. Her makeup was of the same blacks and crimsons as the gown, providing a stark contrast with her pale skin. Her dark hair was carefully styled and pulled back as was the fashion of the day. "Well met, Lord Ambrose. An enjoyable evening, indeed, sir." She suppressed a giggle when he complimented her to her husband and reached to touch his forearm in a gesture that could easily be taken as flirtatious. "Why, sir, you flatter me. Watch where you put that silvered tongue to use, milord, or my husband may find cause to pluck it out!" She giggled and her dark, smoky eyes met Ambrose's with a look that would quicken the pulse of a Cardinal.

She received the monk warmly, with a kindly smile and gratitude for his attendance, "Thank you, father. It is an honor to welcome you under our roof this evening. We have not often had visits from clergy." Her smile brightened disarmingly and her hand touched his, "My husband is ever so eager to hear your thoughts on some of the rarer volumes in his library, Brother Piabo. I do so hope you will linger after dinner to take a peek?"

Likewise did she receive the good doctor, showing no less charm or warmth toward the sole female attendee than she had the men. "It is so good to see you again, Quinn. We simply must find a moment to catch up properly. It has been too long!" The same pearly smile, the same touch on the hand.

For his part, the Baron appeared an austere but attentive man. Tall (though not as tall as Collinsworth), strong and gaunt, Baron Hanz Von Grimmler had dressed for the evening in a handsome suit of deepest blue with silver accents that matched the silvering of his hair at the temples and a standard white collared shirt with tuxedo tie. He spoke little at first, but his non-verbal cues demonstrated that he was both listening and taking in everything said. Each guest received a short but meaningful response. To Ambrose's commentary on his wife, a wary, "Thank you, sir. I quite agree." To Giovani, "Careful study and the freeing of the mind may accomplish much, indeed." And lastly to Quinn, who alone received a gesture bearing any warmth as he stooped to kiss the back of her hand with dry lips, "An honor, as always, doctor. I trust you are well."

Once everyone had gathered and been introduced, Portia clapped her hands lightly together and chimed, "What do you say we move these festivities into the dining hall? Fowler has prepared a sumptuous meal for us this evening. Please," she urged with a smile and a clear ushering toward the door which led from the parlour into the dining hall. The scents of roast and yeasty bread were already wafting through the room. "We shall continue our conversations over dinner." Her smile was dazzling... distractingly so... and brooked no argument.

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Old Apr 26th, 2014, 01:13 PM
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Doctor Quinn Dobranoc
The doctor is thankful for the drink, and moreso thankful when Collinsworth added the vermouth; too much bitterness reminds her of her medicines and concoctions and would only serve to throw off her focus on the unfolding event. Quinn gives a warm smile to the Baron as he places a kiss on her gloved hand, inclining her head slightly as she gives something of a small curtsey in return, only a slight delay in her response as she searches for the right words with which to continue.
"Quite well, now that I am in good company, it has been some time since I could say that with confidence." Her voice is smooth and even like polished stone, the phrase one of many she had anticipated saying on this night, the doctor doing her best in the prior evenings to refresh her memory and return to a mannerism she once found came so naturally to her. Portia moving things along to the dining hall is welcome, and a sign that the night is at least proceeding with some haste, meaning conversation of import could sooner take place. Quinn is thankful, inwardly, for she's not sure how long she can stomach petty chatter on pointless politics or the introduction of some new tax or tariff.

Then again, Portia is being more than slightly polite, and Quinn feels a part of her put at ease by the Baroness' recognition of her. The fact that it seems the Lady von Grimmler was the one to press for this gathering to happen, much like she had done herself for Thaddeus' sake in the past, also serves to spark a sense of kinship in the widow. Though her memories of the younger noblewoman are fleeting at best, from a time of happiness and joviality that become more difficult to recall with each passing day in the laboratory, Quinn does her best to act as though the two have much in the way of friendship to recover.
"Catching up sounds like a fantastic idea, and I agree, it has been far too long! You can imagine my excitement at receiving an invitation to here, of all places." The woman gives another smile, hoping indeed that Portia continues to be a positive influence on her relations with the Baron himself, sparing a glance to the two gentlemen who are joining them for the evening.
"I hope the both of you had a pleasant travel, weather notwithstanding, though I find the rain helps one think." The noblewoman offers her greeting to the men even as she moves to accompany Portia to the dining hall, eager to get things underway, her fingers tightening somewhat on the handle of her carry case.
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"What'd I learn from my own kind? Spells, swordplay, and a disdain for the law and its keepers. From the humans? Alcoholism, how to pick a lock, and ways to use the common tongue to incite men into leaping upon my blade. It's been an exciting decade for me."
~Morrigan, the Witch of Blades

Last edited by Darkling; Apr 27th, 2014 at 07:30 PM.
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Old Apr 27th, 2014, 08:24 PM
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Ambrose takes note of Collinsworth's observation of him, but pays it little heed. Servants often took note of him, but they were of such low status that it really didn't matter. 'Ah, yes. Another dog looking after his master's things. How positively quaint.'

Ambrose weakly waves away the Baroness at her touch, clearly feigning embarrassment while a mischievous smile touches the corners of his mouth. "T'would be most offensive to have my tongue plucked from my own mouth! But if such is the fate of those who speak true of the sights they behold, I resign myself to it, for I cannot keep such observations long quiet on my lips." 'The Lady is most enticing... If I must spend my whole fortune for merely a chance to lure her into my bed, t'would be a price most worth paying. ... Ah, dear sweet Portia. Would that I could cut through these niceties and come at last to the goal of my pursuit. But alas! Tis not so easily done. Nothing so desirable is ever easily had!'

Standing to the side, Ambrose observes as the other guests greet their hosts. 'A man of the cloth? And... what was the name of this one? ... Ah, yes. Dobranoc. I do believe she caught my fancy once. But compared to the ample figure of the Baroness before us, the Lady Quinn pales. ... Still, should my hunt fare poorly this evening, perhaps the Lady will prove easier prey. Though, tis a shame she is now a widow. A dalliance is always better with the sinful spice of infidelity sprinkled along the top. But as the ancient proverb goes, "A beggar cannot be picky".'

Ambrose answers Quinn with a charming smile. "Yes, the rain does tend to lead one towards inner pursuits. Perhaps not always those of the mind, but at least a distinct preference towards such things that may be done indoors. Tell me, do any of you play cards? Tis a delightful diversion when one must forgo the out of doors." Almost as an aside, Ambrose glances discreetly towards the Baroness, hoping to catch her eye. "Though I myself find that the simple company of another is equally diverting." He lets the phrase hang for just a moment before he continues, once again addressing all. "Ah, but first, we enjoy our repast! I do not doubt for a moment that our gracious hosts have anything but the finest meal in store for us! I do believe I catch the scent of it even now."

A sinful idea occurs to Ambrose as he sees Quinn and Portia speaking. 'Wait. Why make Quinn into something so unworthy as the prize for second place? Why not pluck the heartstrings of both these women so that they play against each other? Oh, now how I like this game! I shall do it! I shall pit the women against each other! Beings of the fairer sex are always so wonderfully jealous of the affections of a male. It will be excellent sport to see them spar in the confines of this social arena. I must only be patient and quietly guide them so that my path crosses theirs, then set them upon each other.'

Ambrose takes a long pull at his cocktail. Lowering it once again, he makes his way with the others to the dining hall. He smiles knowingly at Portia as he walks. "I dare say, I can scarcely see how this evening could get any better." 'Ah, but what a lie that is! I can imagine several ways to make this evening much, much more enjoyable!'
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Old Apr 27th, 2014, 10:14 PM
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The half-elf monk accepted the second drink with a small nod for Collinsworth. Travel always seemed to leave him in the company of his 'betters', so he ever appreciated the plight of the servant. A small flush had crept into his cheeks and he calmly observed the byplay. After Quinn finished her introduction, he raised his glass appreciatively, firelight glinting off of a golden signet ring.

"Indeed, I however find the rain often helps me to drink." A small grin for the doctor that actually seemed to touch his eyes for a moment, then he turned to Ambrose.

Ah, a hound on the trail. A quick glance at the Baroness. And the fox seems to be running slowly tonight. A small smile and another sip of the cocktail. The heat of the chase may loosen tongues. Fornication is oft the downfall of the wicked. He rolled the signet ring on his left hand with his thumb, grin deepening slightly. And let there be no mistake, I am surrounded by the wicked.

Leaving the noble to pant after the Baroness, Giovani stepped towards Quinn while keeping a weather eye on the Baron. "My lady, I would carry that for you . . ." When the Doctor nearly snatched the case form his grasp, he merely nodded. "As you wish. Our most vital things must be protected, no?" The mellifluous tones of Giovani's accent conjure images of the sun-drenched shores of the Inner Sea. "Please, after you." Stepping back, he waved the Doctor and the Baroness forward, following behind with a dancing glint in his eye.

Sooooo much wickedness afoot . . .
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Old Apr 29th, 2014, 11:13 AM
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Thunder from a nearby lightning strike rattled the shutters of the parlour and reverberated through the entire house as the five companions made their way into the dining room. An expertly crafted and lavishly engraved cherrywood dining table stood in the center of the room with silver flatware and fine ceramic dishware of such delicate composition that it appeared almost translucent. Overhead hung a small chandelier of fine, teardrop crystals and spun white gold.

Collinsworth stood rigidly beside the door as the guests entered and closed the doors ceremoniously as they took their places at the table. Portia permitted no interruption to her conversation with her dinner guests, smiling and tittering pleasantly. "Say nothing of it, Doctor. It is you who honors us with your presence here this evening. Hanz has been simply pining for an opportunity to learn more of your work!" The Baron inclined his head in Quinn's direction by way of affirmation.

Collinsworth, meanwhile, opened the door leading to the kitchen and the rich scents of roast, wine and baking bread filled the room. "Dinner is served," the butler announced in his deep voice as he pushed the door wide. A woman appeared in the doorway dressed in a pristine chef's smock -- slight of build with her chestnut hair tied back into a tight bun and a thin purse to her lips. She bore a tray holding five steaming bowls. "The first course," Collinsworth recited, "sweet potato soup with leek and ginger." The woman in the blue smock moved around the table with the grace of a ballet dancer, setting a single fragrant bowl in front of each diner. The butler came shortly after, filling each person's wine glass with a specially selected chardonnay.

"Thank you, Fowler." The Baron's words were short but sincere. No sooner had the chef disappeared back into the kitchen than the host raised his spoon and gave the cue for the meal to commence.

The Baroness took a delicate sip and smiled coyly, "The woman has the disposition of a wet alleycat, but by the heavens, can she cook." She reached for her wineglass and pulled her hand back suddenly as if burned.

"Oaaaaahhhhhhgggggrrrrrraaaaaaooooh..." the violent but muffled moan, like the cry of a muzzled dog, echoed from somewhere within the house, tapering off to silence. The Baroness sat unmoving in her seat, back ramrod straight, her expression frozen in place for the space of one heartbeat. A Sense Motive DC 18 to note the subtle difference between her usual smile, which touches the corners of her eyes, and this one which does not.dazzling smile broke the momentary paralysis. "Dear me," she said, dabbing at the corners of her lips with her napkin, "it sounds as though one of the hounds has managed to escape its kennel."
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Old Apr 30th, 2014, 04:33 AM
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Doctor Quinn Dobranoc
Quinn makes sure to maintain eye contact with each of the gentlemen as they respond to her small talk, her smile thin yet warm, her attention grabbed by Ambrose's mention of a game to play.
"Cards? I've played a few games, once upon a time, I'd wager I'm rather rusty by this stage." The widow admits, again hearkening back to warmer times when she'd share in such frivolities with her close family, now a distant memory. It couldn't hurt to engage in something for fun, however, and Quinn does her best to remain receptive to the idea. As Giovani mentions the rain helping him drink, she glances to him, a laugh escaping her as she tries to make a jest.

"I do hope you come up for air, then, from time to time. The rain falls so frequently sometimes, I'd be worried you'd drown in liqour." And there's the smile again, though as the half-elf reaches for her carry case to assist her, she does indeed shrink away from his contact as she practically snatches the item back like some precious relic under threat of theft.
"No!" She cries sharply, her composure momentarily forgotten, the woman stammering as she tries to return to a semblance of normalcy. "I m-mean, n-no thank you, I...I'd rather have it at my side. It is very dear to me." The doctor does her best to explain, the warmth and life having drained from her words, as if the monk's actions had broken who she was for a fleeting moment. A flush of red comes to her cheeks in the aftermath of the minor altercation, and Quinn does her best to move past it, slowly resuming her more amiable countenance of before.

Portia's warm praise is enough to set her at ease once again, especially when coupled with the nod of approval from the Baron himself, leading to her returning the gesture with a broad smile of her own.
"...I am very glad to hear that! There's much to discuss, and it is always preferable to present it to those...receptive to more revolutionary ideas. Men and women of vision are truly difficult to come by, I'm afraid, and I'm glad I find myself in the company of such innovators tonight." The doctor is quick to return the compliments with some of her own, taking a seat at the dinner table when indicated to do so, looking suitably famished and happy to see the meal.

She nods in appreciative agreement to the Baroness' assessment of Beatrix, enjoying the flavour of both the dish and the wine, though any expressions of mirth or contentment quickly bleed away at the sound of the accursed howl. Quinn
Dice Sense Motive:
d20+1sh18 (13)+1 Total = 14
looks with concern to the Baroness, the closest thing she has to an ally in the estate, both unnerved and agitated by the noise. And yet, Portia is quick to assuage any doubts or concerns, and the doctor matches her response with a look of relief.
"Oh, is that the noise? I was worried something dreadful had happened!" The widow remarks brightly, still a tad shaken, but doing her best not to let it seep further into her words. "But by the sounds of it, is the poor thing ill or injured? I've less experience with creatures than I do with humankind and their neighbours, but I would certainly wish to help if you have use for me, Portia." The doctor articulates her concern and a wish to help, both to further ingratiate herself towards her hosts, and in a true desire to kindle a more lasting friendship with the Baroness. It's been a long time since she's had a true friend, hasn't it? The idea is appealing all of a sudden...
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~Morrigan, the Witch of Blades

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Old May 1st, 2014, 10:28 AM
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Ambrose makes his way into the dining room with the others, taking his seat without incident. "Ah! A tantalizing aroma if ever there was one!" Ambrose gently sniffs the dish placed in front of him, paying no mind to Fowler. Clearly a servant and therefore beneath him. So instead of complimenting the woman responsible for their meal, Ambrose chooses instead to compliment his hosts. Raising his glass, subtly more towards Portia than her husband, the nobleman praises the meal. "My compliments to you both. I expected nothing less than the best, and it appears I was not wrong to do so!" He takes a sip of wine.

As he puts down the glass, an unearthly moan can be heard which their hostess passes off as an escaped dog from the kennel. "Heavens! Such a noise from a hound." Ambrose turns a
Dice Sense Motive DC18:
1d20+4sh18 (19)+4 Total = 23
concerned look to Portia, noting that her smile no longer touches her eyes. "Will the beast be alright?"

'The Baroness is truly concerned for this animal... Feigning a cheerful smile, but with no warmth. Putting on airs to convince her guests tis nothing. Why, it must be a beloved pet of hers! And I notice the Baron shows no sign of care for this beast. ... So, tis hers alone and he cares not. ... Ah, lovely Portia. Would that I could comfort your heavy heart by giving you the carnal affections you so desperately need!'

Ambrose slips his hand under the table to gently brush the Baroness's knee. Nothing too overt or sexual just yet. Just enough of a touch to bait her into glancing his way where he waits with ready snare: a look of utmost concern fixed directly upon her. Once she falls for his gentle touch and meets his gaze, Ambrose springs his trap of honeyed words, "... Should you wish to attend to the animal- I am sure all present understand your need to leave our company. Go to your pet should he need you."

Another touch on her leg, this time quite a bit higher than her knee, still managing to remain far enough down to be confused for concern by the unwary. '... The Baroness is vulnerable. With my cunning verbal strike, I have slipped into her mind the idea that I bring comfort. And with the touch upon her leg I associate my touch to this comfort. ... Poor Portia. I have played this game and hunted these fields for many a year. As prey, you can only run, not hide. I will have you.' Ambrose smiles sweetly.
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Old May 2nd, 2014, 10:59 PM
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Giovani merely raised an eyebrow at the thunder, then sat comfortably at the table. Despite, or possibly because of, the rich menu, he merely nibbled at most of dinner, but the paired wines were gladly accepted, and he spent much of the time peering at the others over the edge of his wine glass. Whenever the cook came to serve, he would eye her intently, but the gaze had little heat. It was the expression of a man expecting to find something wrong. After some time, he raised the same eyebrow once again at the strange howl.

"Your hounds . . . they must be quite the beasts, no? To sound like that, they must require a hefty muzzle." Eyes sweeping over the Baronness' strange expression, he surveyed the Baron as well. "I would dearly love to see your hounds before I leave. They seem fascinating."

The Baroness and Quinn seemed to be getting along swimmingly, so he turned his attention back to Ambrose. "My lord, I'm sorry, but where did you say your estates are? I have traveled much of this land, I wonder if I may have seen them at some point."

 
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Old May 5th, 2014, 09:54 AM
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Portia maintained her frozen smile and tittered softly. "No, no. Not at all. I am certain they are well enough. Merely frightened by the thunder, I suspect. Fowler will attend to the poor dear as soon as dinner has concluded."

The Baron raised one heavy brow at his wife's reassurance. Though he spoke quietly, his tone was weighty and carrying, "They are hunting dogs. Bloodhounds. Fine creatures, but underutilized. I have not attended a hunt in some years." The common knowledge of the Baron's decade-long seclusion certainly supported the claim. "Fowler has a natural touch with the hounds. Collinsworth, bring the main course and instruct Fowler to check on the dogs."

"As you say, milord," rumbled the butler before disappearing into the kitchens where a hushed but heated discussion could be faintly discerned.

Portia hastened to fill the silence, "Ah, well, then." She reached to touch her husband's forearm, but her eyes settled upon Ambrose, whose teasing caress had not failed to draw her attention... or interest. "That matter is settled. Please, the weather is dreary. Let us speak of happier subjects. Good doctor, perhaps you would regale us with some of your 'revolutionary ideas?'"

Hanz interjected, "Indeed. I am eager to hear of your discoveries. Likewise to learn of your travels and investigations, Brother Piabo. It is rumored that the sanguinari see much and hear more."

Before either could meaningfully respond, Collinsworth appeared again with a dour look on his face and announced, "The second course -- a sumptuous beef bourguignon with locally grown root vegetables and amontillado wine." The savory scent of tender beef, rich wine and stewed onions washed over the room as the half-elven maid once again appeared and set out a large bowl for each of the guests.

Halfway through the service, as she was poised elegantly over the Baroness with a bowl in one hand and the tray balanced upon the other, the sound came again -- the same yet different, more of a groan than a howl -- followed shortly thereafter by the faint but distinct sound of a door closing. Startled, the bowl perched over the baroness' lap tipped and a dollop of the rich burgundy-colored gravy sloshed out onto the skirts of Portia's gown, narrowly missing the bare flesh of her corseted bodice.

The words of the Baron and his wife overlapped. "You clumsy oaf!" she shrieked. "Fowler," the Baron said with calm deliberation, "leave Portia and attend to the hounds at once." He set the woman with a hard gaze, his words like ice, "Their agitation is upsetting our guests. Thank you."

 

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Old May 9th, 2014, 10:35 PM
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Doctor Quinn Dobranoc
Quinn relaxes somewhat as Portia assuages her concerns for the lady's animals, her posture turning a tad less rigid, resuming to enjoy the food that the Baron's servants had so splendidly prepared. She nods politely as Hanz speaks on about the hunting dogs, for she has no knowledge of the beasts herself, seemingly rapt with anything the couple have to say. It'd almost border on the sycophantic at times, but the widow takes great efforts not to appear too interested, and manages to toe the line as finely as any aristocrat could. Out of practice, maybe, but definitely possessing a talent in the arts of sociality. Then the Baron asks his question of her, and the doctor lights up, though does pause to cast a perhaps overly cautious glance across Ambrose and Piabo. It is only a moment's hesitation before she launches into what seems like the best summary she can provide, even as Collinsworth and Fowler began serving the next dish.

"Well, my research is...complicated, to say the least, and even apt listeners such as yourselves might grow a little weary of the gritty details without ample time to learn the subject material involved." The woman speaks gracefully, trying her best not to insinuate a lack of intelligence in any who listen, rather trying to communicate that the subject matter is not a simple topic for discussion over dinner. Still, the widow does her best as she presses on, her enthusiasm refusing to be dampened.

"But in essence, I am studying, well - death." She pauses with a small smile, letting the implication sink in to those attending, continuing on after a few moments. "I have good reason to believe, with much theoretical delving and a few graciously provided research subjects, that death is as reversible a condition as any illness or malady. I have come to think of it as...a particularly persistent coma. While the specifics on restoring a mind are not something I've been able to replicate, stimulating a cadaver to movement and action is trivial, a body is still very much the same vessel it was when its occupant was present; it is merely a carriage without a horse nor driver. It stands to reason-" Quinn finds herself abruptly cut off by the howling and the baroness' shrieking, and the rather curt dismissal of Fowler, her own eyes wide as the scene unfurls.

She sinks into her chair a little, caught off-guard by Portia's sudden venom, taking a moment to adjust her spectacles as she wonders what it is she could do.
"Portia, are you alright...?" The doctor eventually asks, showing genuine concern on her face, though mildly perturbed herself - she doesn't much appreciate when nobles shout at their servants. All the same, Quinn would never say such a thing in the company of those she will come to rely on, and instead chooses to side with the baroness if only in unspoken terms.
"I'm...I'm sure the dress will be fine." The widow stumbles slightly on her own words, unsure exactly how to placate the baroness, yet her face still bears a mask of worry for her friend.
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"What'd I learn from my own kind? Spells, swordplay, and a disdain for the law and its keepers. From the humans? Alcoholism, how to pick a lock, and ways to use the common tongue to incite men into leaping upon my blade. It's been an exciting decade for me."
~Morrigan, the Witch of Blades

Last edited by Darkling; May 9th, 2014 at 10:37 PM.
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Old May 13th, 2014, 12:26 AM
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As Quinn continues, Giovani's pretense of the drunken oaf begins to fade. The somewhat slack expression tightens, and a certain gleam returns to his eye. At a number of times throughout her explanation, a strategic "Hmmm, yes" or "Oh, absolutely" slips smoothly into the turgid waters of the conversation, verbal crocodiles showing only their sentence fragments above the waters. He leans forward softly as she mentions animating the corpses. About to say something, his head snaps around at the second noise and accompanying chaos. The affable clergyman returns, but only after a moment of bared-steel catalog.

"Oh my, that poor creature. Are you well, my dear Baroness?" After only the most cursory of pauses to allow a response, he pushes back his chair slightly, making to rise. "I should accompany dear Fowler, as you surely know, the brothers of my order have some skill with the ailments of the flesh." A slight nod to Quinn. "Although nowhere near the exhaustive studies of my Lady, our knowledge is a bit more . . . practical." Eyes flashing in an otherwise placid face, he peers at the others at the table as he makes to stand, searching for any telltale reactions as his mind tries to place the strange noises of the "dogs."

 
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