Page 595: Kingsgrove Wedding Minstrel Competition
Kingsgrove Wedding Minstrel Competition
Summary: In which all the visiting nobles display rare talents, the Fensters have a Fen-off! Which Arabella wins and someone goes to the stocks.
Date: 10/03/2013
Related Logs: All the other logs related to the wedding.
Aeliana Stafford Nedra Catryn Arabella Alric Erik Aemy Robben Nathaniel Garion Hallianne 
Town Square, Kingsgrove
The heart of the sleepy old town of Kingsgrove is a great big square tiled with ancient and worn flagstones, and surrounded by lines lines of old trees that provide shade for the benches set beneath their rich green crowns. The buildings that face it are mostly two stories tall, with tall vaulted roofs in slate rather than thatch, whitewashed and with visible oaken beams. Local sanitary by-laws keep the alleys from festering, and manure is not allowed to remain in place long, meaning that as far as settlements go its rather easy on the nose.
Sun Mar 10, 290

The quaint and lovely little town square at the heart of Kingsgrove had been turned into a center of entertainment for the day. A wooden stage had been constructed in its center, while some of the benches from the joust the other day had found themselves reused here, creating a front row exclusivly for the nobility, while the commoners just had to crowd around at a bit more appropriate distant. One wouldn't want the fine bred ones who suffer the smell of unwashed bodies, after all. Even if the people of Kingsgrove had done their very best to look clean and fresh, as much as smallfolk ever could.
Outside of the Inn, benches had been set as well, and a constant stream of ale was coming out from that establishment, the innkeeper making the very most of the moment to grease his pockets.
Stafford sat at the very front of the first row, his Lady Wife at his side, and waited for the Master of the Challenge (who was familiar enough a face for all who had been at the joust the day before) to start the event. On the outskirts a whole cluster of nervous would-be-performers were chewing lips and making last moment arrangements.

"It's a lovely turn out," Aeliana murmured, her hand resting on the curve of Stafford's thigh in a smal display of affection; a gold goblet in her hand, gift of Lyanna and at current, full of wine. "Though to be fair, I am surprised and more that your brother isn't here. This seemed as if it would be just his sort of thing. Lots of drinking, colorful…women, all play and absolutely no work."

Lady Hallianne comes in the Town Square with her Septa and guardsman. Wind plays with her tress black hair. She is wearing a full length really tight dark green gown. Tiny golden laces on her gown glint in the sun. Her shoulders is covered with gossamer violet really long cloak, as always. The cloak sweeps all the dusts from the ground, than a breeze tries to pass under it. The Lady looks around. Her eyes is full of shyness. Than she sees her cousin Ser Stafford with his wife sitting on the benche, she slowly comes closer, gives them a smile and respectful curtsy. However, Lady sits beyond him. Her Septa sits next to her. Girl is looking around and hums joyful melody under her nose.

Humming softly to herself, Catryn Taken lingered near the door to the tavern, with a tankard of ale in hand. Mind, it was the second she'd politely helped herself to the moment someone else sat it down, so today she got to drink things of varying quality based on the level of those who were doing the actual paying because /she/ didn't pay more'n a penny, maybe two for hers. That's what happened when you lived on a budget. All but thrumming with enegery, the chit was doing her best not to just stand there and bounce, but was obvious she was operating on too much enegry and…sizing up the Master of the Challenge, with all the grace of a lion eyeing a gazelle before lunch.

Of all those gathered to compete, Lady Nedra is one of those, though not so much competing as for a chance to simply enjoy the challenge. She stands with the others, her maid Shalla standing alongside, the two women carefully safe guarding a cloth draped parcel between the two of them.

Robben is present as well, having gotten himself some wine as he looks around for a few moments, watching the people present. There's a small book in his hand, and he looks to it for a few moments, before he puts it in his pocket again, shaking his head a bit to himself. "No." It's spoken softly, mostly to himself.

Amid the nobility, on the benches, Bella Fenster has her own mug, though the mug does not contain ale, though wine, only slightly watered down. Perhaps a little false courage for her to perform, should she find herself brave enough when the time comes. Nearby her is her always present handmaid Serah and one guard, Talbot. As others begin to gather, she watches people, greeting the Young Lord and Young Lady with a warm smile, though she does not interrupt them. When Lady Nedra and an unfamilair Noblelady join as well, she offers each a nod and, "My lady," in turn.

"M'Looooooooooooooooooooooooords and LADIES! My beautiful mistresses and shiny knights! GENTLEMEN and less gentle men.. And let's not forget all you lovely peasent girls! Yes, you in particular! You know who you are. Thank you for last night, by the way. I'll never forget!" Wink. The Master was alive with a giddy riot of infectious enthusiasm, his voice rolling out in highs and lows as he wrung as much drama out of the moment as he possibly could. "We have here for you some of the FINEST talent of this little arsehole of the riverlands can offer." And leaning forward, gave an almost-whisper of conspiracy, all shifty-eyed. "Psst.. And some of the worst, believe me. I had to listen to their auditions.." He visibly shuddered.
"Today the prize is the official patronage of House Groves to one budding artist! Or, in case one of our noble participants happen to come off with a victory.. GLory! (And the right to pick who you think is the second best choice, and give -them- the patraonage, with appropriate bragging rights in the discovery of said budding grandee of the cultural world!)"

Stepping out of the inn for the festivities, her hand empty of any sort of beverage at all, Aemy Erenford takes a moment to look around. Upon seeing her betrothed, she makes her way to him accompanied by her maid and two guards. Coming up behind him she playfully taps his shoulder, "Yes," she counters in return to his word spoken to himself, offering him a bright smile.

"Oh, oh my, I think Nedra's going to show one of her paintings!" Ae gushed at Stafford's side, before blanching. "I hope it isn't the one of me." She followed it with a sip of wine, before glancing to Hallianne and offering a low dip of her head and a smile. "Will you be competeing today, Lady Arabella?" Aeliana inquired, dark eyes curious and hopeful. "Oh I do so hope that my brother might."

Arriving in time for the performances, the Jast who was felled by Stafford's lance yesterday is walking a little bit stiffly but it appears that there was no permanent damge or wound taken by the young knight. Having gotten the ransoms out of the way earlier in the day, Erik looks towards the bench reserved for nobility and spots a certain Fenster. Seeing the familiar minders that keep watch on Arabella, he offers both a nod before smiling to the young Fenster, "My Lady, would you allow me the honor of sitting at your side?"

"Cousin," Stafford said in Hallianne's direction, dipping his head with politeness towards the girl, before chuckling at Aeliana's words. "I disagree, my Lady. I should very much like to see one of her paintings of you."

"Is it just me," Cat murmured, to no one in particular, "Or has he stepped up his game since yesterday." Either way, her tankard rose in salute while she stood there and judged him, over and over again, because damn it all, she could do it better! /That's/ the sort of job she needed, damnit. That one right there. Oh but there was the Jast knight and with sly smile, Catryn blew a very obvious and saucy kiss in the man's direction.

Pausing for a few moments as the tap to his shoulder, Robben is unable to hold back the wide smile as he sees who it is. "My lady," he greets the Erenford, bowing to her now. "Don't worry about that one word I spoke there," he offers, before he lowers his voice to offer something to her now.

Rising when the Jast nears, Bella dips into a curtsy, though looking up at him with mischief in her eyes, "Indeed, Ser Erik, it would be a pleasure to have your company." Hearing the voice of the Young Lady, the Fenster straightens and offers quietly, "My talents lay in healing, though I should at least participate in something, so perhaps I could play my fiddle, if I can find the courage." Upon seeing the kiss blown to Erik, Bella laughs, looking back to the commoner and winks. Course she does not say anything though.

"The contestants will come out in pairs, perform or show off their talents in competition with each other. A thriller! A DUEL! Watch the faces of the competitors as they must share stage with another, and wither beneath the nerves of having to witness first hand how good the others are!" Called out the Master, all but bouncing on the stage. He might have had a bit of drink since the night before, and was still riding the effects of intoxication. "Soak in the -tension-! Now, if I may have your attentions?! WE BEGIN! For our veeeeeeeeeeeery first contestant.. the beautiful, the glorious, the next Young Lady of Terrick, LADY NEDRA MALLISTER!" Applauding wildly was the Master, trying to get everybody else to join in as well! The peasentry responded, clapping and shouting and stomping of feet. A crashing wave of noise! "And.. Petyr Dullwally… of.. well, Dullwally I expect? Do anyone know where that is?" Shrug. "Well, he's here, and he's competing!"

With his request accepted, Erik turns to the nearby Lord and Lady Groves, bowing to them as well, "Good day My Lord, My Lady, the turn out today is quite great for the performances." He then takes a seat next to the Fenster, relaxing his sore and battered body as he looks over towards the line of performers that are waiting. His eyes do catch the small slip of a girl who boldly interrupted the Master of the Challenge with her song for himself and Lord Stafford yesterday, a smirk appearing before giving the common girl a brief nod of acknowledgement. Then his eyes return to the Master who begins the announcements of how the event will take place. When the first contestant is announced, the Jast applauds politely to the Mallister, recalling that wedding bans were announced for her impending marriage with the Terrick heir.

When Robben bows, Aemy curtsies, though after standing again she listens to his softly spoken words and she widens her eyes. "Were you? Oh My Lord Robben, you should have, if you wanted." Speaking quietly with him as well.

"I should like to duel you!" Catryn shouts, as the introductions are made, cheeky grin in place that never fades. Not even when the noblewoman looks in her direction. For a moment too, Cat looks back; those bright eyes trailing the woman from head to toe and lingering for a moment on the bosom in between. A little toast then, the rim of her cup causing her to miss the knight's nod but…her current view /was/ better.

Arriving a bit late to the festivities for the day and having thought of participating is Alric. Though it seems he is looking quite beat for some reason. Tired and dizzy looking. Smiling and nodding to those he passes on his way towards his sister. Watching those about to participate. Missing the eyes of the commoner eyeing his sister. Deciding to just enjoy the day and not participate.

Nedra shares a smile her with maid before they carry the cloth wrapped canvass between them onto the wooden stage and curtsies to the audience at large before speaking, her words carrying clearly across the crowd, sharing a smile - in general - but more for the hosts of this event than anything else. "My Lord and Lady Groves," a small pause, "and everyone else," that smile is turning a touch impish, "I offer a poem and a painting - two gifts in one. Were I to put the poem to song, alas, even the most kind and graceful of you would wish to be elsewhere," self directed mirth at it's best. "Instead, I give the gift of words and a painting to accompany the verse." She tugs the cloth off of the canvass and turns it toward the audience before she recites the poem.
Seasons Change

Tumbling in the Autumn breeze
across the golden field
how bright! how frail
how transient
is the seasons yield.
A breath away a brush of wind
winter sighs at the door.
The night is come
she sleeps serene
seasons turn evermore.

Lettered in graceful calligraphy, this simple verse is traced over a painted landscape that shows the passage of seasons. A gray storm swept sky with clouds drifting across a snowbound landscape that melts, subtle shading of colors, into a spring time field of blossoming life and a warm blue sky. The summer panel, in turn, blazes into summer glory, the field warming to golden wheat beneath the brilliant azure sky before blending into the breath taking russet and gold colors of Autumn, bedecked in all her glory, with harvest fields framed by trees whose leaves are touched with gold.

The canvass measures a modest 4'x3' and is framed in pale oak that is delicately edged with soft impressions of flowers and leaves. In the bottom left corner of the canvass, just above the frame, are the initials N.I.M.

Peter Dullywally looked pale and nervous as he entered the stage a little after Nedra, a short and wispy haired youth in a simple and threadbare tunica. He had no instruments with him, and his hands were wringing themselves constantly infront of him as he looked wide eyed across the assembly of noble and commoners. When Nedra showed off her art, his pallor went from pale to a touch of sickly green. Oh. It was his turn!

"She's so gifted!" Aeliana all but beams, watching Nedra with no small measure of pride in her eyes. "Would but that I even a measure of her skill, alas," a tiny sigh. "Anything that might impress such as that, I could never dream of attaining and look, listen how they sigh! How they admire." And it was true, the crowd had gone quiet to a dull hush had fallen over them. Even through the commoners. Still boisterous, but softer now.
And from somewhere in their depths, a single daisy went flying towards her feet.

Petyr started to sing. He did his very best, for sure, even if he was obviously no professional. Likely the only people he had sung to before had been his parents.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Nedra=Painting Vs Petyr Singing = 2+2
< Nedra: Good Success Petyr Singing : Good Success
< Net Result: Nedra wins - Marginal Victory

"I'll make sure to read some for you, but this is too large a crowd," Robben offers to Aemy, with a bit of a smile. "Wouldn't want our kind hosts being embarrassed by poor poetry, after all," he adds, a bit lightly. Looking over at Nedra as she shows off the song, and the poetry now. "That's quite good," he remarks, applauding now.

"What a marvelous piece of art!" Declared the Master cheerfully. "Let's all applaud Lady Nedra and her beautiful motif and peerless poetic tongue! And how about that? Who'd have thunk that a boy who looked like he was going to faint could have such a sweet voice, too? Applause all around! A hard one this.. but?" He looked towards Lady Aeliana and Lord Stafford for support as he declared: "I think we must all agree, Lady Nedra edged out her competition, and must surely move on!"

Nedra gives a small curtsy to the crowd again, scoops up the daisy that was tossed onto the stage and tucks the flower behind one ear as she and Shalla move to the side, the painting again held carefully between them.

When Erik does have the seat beside her, she places her hand on his arm briefly and offers a quick smile. "How are you feeling?" The words are brief though as the competition and her gaze moves back over the poet who seems to be ogling.. her? Her lips twitch in amusement, sure she had read the look wrong. As Nedra unveils her painting, she gasps at the beauty and she applauds her poem after it is read. Sharing the moment with Erik, she tilts her head back to look at him, "Beautiful.." Her attention is brief though as the competition continues and she hears the song from the next competitor. Of course she does applaud politely once he has finished, his shyness perhaps a little endearing.
When the time comes for another, Bella rises and takes her fiddle in hand, feeling quiet out of her element but determined not to show it. With a deep breath and a confident smile, she walks up and takes her place, offering a curtsy to the Groves couple. "I wish to play a song."

Alric is smiling and looking to the others. Applauding the work of Nedra and the singing of Petyr. Glad that the lady did well in that one. Still looking quite tired and trying to recover before it will be his turn. Seemingly trying to go for trying to recite poetry. Though seemingly without much preparation, just going on the spot. Though of course letting his sister go first. Smiling as she does.

"Then I look forward to it soon, Lord Robben." Aemy offers her betrothed. "I think you give yourself too little credit for what you write, I have in my possession a poem you wrote to me before. I know of your talents."

Glancing to his side at Arabella, Erik flashes her a grin that would show that he is perfectly fine, "I am well, thank you, just the usual soreness that comes with getting hit with a well placed lance." His attention then returns to the performances by both, focused more on the painting when it is revealed. He nods his head slightly at the Fenster's remarks, apparently in full agreement. When the first round of competition is completed, the Jast applauds again, a bit louder now as it sounds like Lady Nedra has edged out her competition though the boy performed pretty well, for a commoner.
When Bella begins to move at his side, Erik sees that she is going to perform as well offers her hand a reassure squeeze before watching her rise to her feet.

"Well done! Well done!" Aeliana cried, though she'd clapped in appreciation for both the lady and the singer who'd challenged; her head dipping down in low agreement with the Master of the Challenge that they should indeed, move on. Though she glanced to Arabella too, when the girl rose and murmured out a very soft, "Good luck!"

"We hear better singing from drunk in the tavern on Fridays!" Cat cried, "Suck it up, tuck it in and pitch that voice to be heard. Fairy knights can do better than that! And dandy lords! Though if we're lucky…," Cat's gaze swept the crowd, searching for one who might just fit that label. "More ale!" Pity, she wasn't properly drunk yet. Just…precisely that mouthy.

"And our next contestant is the lovely Lady Arabella Fenster!" Said the Master when Arabella rose to her feet and declared she would like to participate. Like an absolute gentleman-child the man bounced off the stage and hurried to the steps leading up to the wooden platform, where he dipped a low bow and offered Arabella his hand in assistance to climb them up. "We cannot -wait- to see and hear what you have in store for us, m'Lady! Or What do you all say?" And the crowd applauded!
"She will be facing off against The Swift Cat!"

"I protest!" Cat screamed, "A new title! There can only be one and I am the only minx around."

Erik spends 1 luck points on Boost to Bella's performance with the Fiddle..

"Not so! Hah! For truly beesth there none buth I, who canneth claimeth the title!" Called out a sleek man of thirty or some, dressed in a full purple and black motley. He did a full roundhouse wheel towards the stage, then -jumped- up onto it and bowed to the crowd. A tumbler was he! "The one, only! The fiercest Tomcat hath world ever seen!" He bowed to Arabella. "And it shalth beeth an absoluteth honor to face off against thee, m'Lady!" He sneered a little towards Catryn, obviously unimpressed by her claim of title.

"Someone has watched too many theatre troops play old valyrian tragedies," commented Stafford dryly in his wife's ear, as he heard the way tumbler on stage was attempting to speak with a faux dramatic speech pattern.

Robben smiles as he hears Aemy's words. "Thank you for the kind words, my lady," he offers, before he looks back towards the front again now. "Isn't that Lord Alric's sister?" he offers as he sees Arabella head up there. Raising an eyebrow as he sees the entrance of the newest arrival, shaking his head a little bit.

"Old and nuetered, that's how he moves so well!" Came the protest, while the lanky chit climbed herself up a little higher, to perch and stand tall atop an empty barrel of ale. "Stinking of piss and smelling of ale!"

Nedra aims a smile along with a wave of encouragement to Lady Arabella from where she stands to the side, listening to the other contestants.

"My Lord reminds me of his favored play," Aeliana offered quiet, against Stafford's ear, a knowing smile on her lips, where her hand offered the faintest of squeezes to his thigh. "We should arrange for a troop to come at some point and have a showing."

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Arabella=Presence+fiddle+50 Vs The Swift Cat=2+3
< Arabella: Good Success The Swift Cat: Failure
< Net Result: Arabella wins - Solid Victory

As the competition joins the stage, Bella laughs, enjoying the tumbling introduction. "You as well, Tomcat." Bowing her head politely with a smile of amusement.. up until she picks up her instrument and bow, and tucks it under her chin, eyes seeking Alric now instead of anyone else. Her family is all she had ever played for, so if she concentrated on him it would be easier for her right? Lifting the bow she draws it across the strings in a slow stroke, but then her confidence returns and she shifts her gaze to Erik as she increases the speed, going into a lively tune that would most likely be found in a pub than anything softer and more classical. Closing her eyes a moment, she makes the strings sing as she dances the bow across. Upon concluding the song, she lowers the bow and fiddle as she opens her eyes and a flush stains her cheeks when she sees so many eyes upon her. She rises and offers a curtsy.

"WELL DONE!" Shouted the Master as he applauded Arabella delightedly. "And now let's see what the.." He had started to say something, but the rest of it fell out the window as The Swift Cat started his tumbling.. straight off the stage. Fell fat on his face on the flagstones beneath, and broke a tooth in the process. The whole crowd burst in laughter with him, causing the poor tumbler to slink off as quick as he could with a bright red splash of embarassement on his face. That and blood. "I dare say that was pretty obvious who won. Lady ARabella everybody!"
He also flashed Catryn a wink, and added with a sassy smirk: "Seems you keep your title, little kitten."

When Arabella turns her gaze onto him while she is playing, Erik holds her gaze though a smile appears, as if pleased with what he was hearing so far. A foot begins to move with the beat of the tune she played and when she finishes with a curtsey, the Jast applauds loudly though with all the proper decorum, there is no yelling or whistling. Then when it is the tumbler's turn, Erik looks over and then at the faceplant, he can't help but laugh in amusement at the other man's misfortune, slapping his thigh as well. "Seems like the Old Tomcat has used up too many of its nine lives!"

The young lord Fenster does applaud his sister on her great work and beams proudly. Starting to laugh at the failed cat. Once she is moving off Alric is taking the stage. "Nicely played." He tells Bella with a smile. A brief hug before he fully takes on the stage. Offering a deep bow. "My lords, ladies. Gentlemen and damsels." He offers and stands straight and as confident as usual. "I would wish to offer to recite a poem for you all."

"HAH!" Catryn crowed, stomping instead of clapping, hands busy with drink. "Well done! Lady," and a wolf whistle. "Well done! And I told you!" The minx flashed a wink in the Master of Challenge's direction. "It is -mine-."

"I tumbled better than he just did anyway, and that was last night in bed!" The bragging feline adds, loud enough for all and sundry at least, on the common side, to hear.

Robben is unable to hold back a smile as he listens to Arabella. "Such nice playing," he offers, before he shakes his head as the Cat goes stumbling off. "Now that's making an impression," he remarks, rather lightly at the moment. Pausing a bit as he sees Alric stepping up there now. "Oh dear…" he remarks, his gaze following his old friend for the moment.

"Lord Alric Fenster, our next contestant! Let's hear it for this poet from east of the Green Fork!" Called the Master enthusiastically, laughter still in his voice from the unfortunate accident suffered by the tumbler last come out. "He shall.. face the well known Garion of Fairmarket!" And of course, he motioned for Alric to go first. After all, nobles always had precedent.

An old mare choses to travel in her own rhythm. That's at least a lesson minstrel Garion has learned lately, when his mount decided to chew on the juicy, green grass at the feet of dozens of appletrees on the way to Braeburn house instead of hurrying to the place where many bards are gathered at this day.
Now safely tied to one of them, the horse doesn't seem to spend much attention to the musician rushing yet still strutting towards the other competitioners.
As his own name almost immediatly reaches his ears he quickly adjusts the bold smile on his face, lifts one of his hands up to his well-ungroomed light brown hair and makes sure to wink at the noble ladies before he turns to his opponents. "M'lord, 'tis an honor." he speaks in his honeyed voice "And a pleasure to have such beauties listen to our humble art." he adds with another glimpse at the ladies.

When the Old Tomcat falls off the stage there is a moment of concern, she is a healer after all, but then he gets up and seems to be fine.. mostly, so she moves off, pausing beside her brother. "Thank you, Alric. Good luck out there." Squeezing his hand briefly before moving to retake has seat, offering her thanks for the well wishes to the others she passes. The wolf whistle draws her attention and she laughs, liking the young lady and her exuberance. "Thank you, all." Once she is back at her seat, she offers the instrument back to her maid before retaking her seat beside Erik, giving him a quick grin before the next one starts.

Clearing his throat Alric takes a moment to prepare, taking it to recite it all from his mind. Paying more attention to how he tells it rather than the actual words perhaps. To take use of how he does it rather than what is actually said.
"This one is called: A Wish From a Star."

"The sun setting upon the horizon,
Soon to be gone, to leave us in dark.
Though do not shed a tear for the night,
The stars still shining so bright up there.
As the first one holds the power of much,
As the wishes are thrust upon.
To close ones eyes a wish will be.
The wish of ones wildest dream.
To wish upon this wildest star,
The dream of a pure so true it comes."

After the poem Alric offers another bow and smiles before taking a step back. "Thank you all!"

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Alric=Poetry Vs Garion=Singing
< Alric: Good Success Garion: Success
< Net Result: Alric wins - Solid Victory

Watching as Arabella returns to his side, Erik offers her a proud smile as she takes her a seat, reaching over with a hand to lay it over hers, giving her a gentle squeeze of congratulation. "Well done." Quieter words are added before the Jast turns his attention back to the stage, waiting for the next pair of contestants to begin. It is the elder Fenster, listening to the poem. Having expected a more bold poem, perhaps of a battle or something of the like but when it is something more peaceful and hopeful. Listening quietly, when the Fenster Lord finishes, Erik applauds politely as well.

Stafford's head had turned once, to gaze back into the crowd of peasentry and catch a single look in Catryn's direction. His features were blankly neutral, his eyes were just a touch narrowed for her continud lewd catcalls. Then he made a quiet grunt with aristocratic arrogance and turned his attentions back towards the the show. His fingertips lightly patting the outside of Aeliana's palm. A polite applause for Alric when he was done, then went on to listen to Garion.

"I'd no idea that Lord Alric had such skill," Ae mused, glancing in Stafford's direction. "I have to say, I'm rather surprised. It seems the Fensters are gifted after all." Though if she had noticed any common unbetting the ceremony the straight near rigid way she sat said otherwise. Involved, but politely distant all the same.

Aemy had fallen silent during the competitions, holding the arm of her betrothed, eyes glancing up at him when he speaks. She leans in to whisper something quietly to him, the words accompanied by another smile. "The competition is very good on both sides." Noticing that mostly the commoners seem to be losing to the nobility.

A couple of time Garion's hands clap politely before he himself climbs the stage. Wiping a whiff of invisible dust of his dark blue doublet, the sparks in his eyes look confident enough. With a often practiced movement he plucks the old lute from his back to let it rest with a few airy chords in his strong arms. Then he raises his voice:

A Hunter with his silvory bow,
A bow of mist and moon
, Walks in the woods of mist and snow
To loose his arrows soon.

A slender hare with ebony eyes,
With eyes of blackest night
Hides in the veils of gentle lies
Waits to embrace the flight…

The words, well known in the lands of the Vale aren't very well known in the Riverlands as it seems, for no sign of recognization glows in the faces of the crowd. The little ditty ends with both Hunter and Hare losing themselves in the eyes of the other, for both of them sees the beauty of the moment to come, the arrow's swift journey, the hare's swift run mirrored in the opponents gaze. Both finally turned to stone and could be admired in said woods.
Expectantly Garion turns around but as his voice seems to break at the higher notes his own applause seems to resound not as strongly from the audience. With a bit of a sour expression around the corners of his mouth he offers a silent bow.

"Well done, well done!" Called the Master cheerfully, clapping his hands together before he gave Garion a sympathetic squeeze over the shoulder. "A pity there, my boy, but I think we all agree that today is the day of the Fensters, no? What heart breaking poetry, what yearning those words inspired! Garion was good, but Lord Arlic.. -superb-! "

"Another reason why it was smart of me not too participate," Robben offers with a smile to Aemy, before he lets out some rather loud applause at Alric's work. Applauding the bard as well, as he hears it. "Two good ones," he remarks, before he hears the Master's verdict, applauding again. "Well done!"

Giving Erik a sidelong glance, Bella listens to the quiet words spoken and there is laughter in her eyes in response. "I do look most forward to that, Ser Erik and thank you." Falling silent when her brother reads the poem about wishing on stars. A hand drifts to the pendant around her neck in the shape of a star, tracing the outline briefly before lowering her hand. At the conclusion of the poem, she applauds her brother then listens for the competition, enchanted by the poem and the song.

Alric does applaud the work by Garion as well. Enjoying hiss singing. Offering a genuine smile and bow to the master, "Thank you kindly." He says before he will move to leave the stage for the next contestants. Looking to Robben as well. "Do not think that I did not hear your earlier comment." He tells his friend with a smirk before moving to join his sister for now. Eyes scanning the area and perhaps searching for someone.

When Alric reads, Aemy turns to watch, a smile playing on her lips at the words. When he finishes, she applauds, glancing towards Robben. "I think you are not giving yourself enough praise, because you write very well, my Lord." As Garion, one of her favored performers from meeting him in Highfield, then at the Fenster wedding, she listens then applauds, "Well done!" she calls out to the both of them.

"And the very last for today's first round entrants, I call Cat, -just- Cat, and Shireen of our lovely hometown Kingsgrove!" Called the Master. "Please, let's all show them both a proper drumroll in anticipation. DRUMDRUDRUMDRUM! He leaned backwards a little and rattled his palms against the front of his thighs, and as he did, so did a good number of the smallfolk crowd, too!

"If I may!" The loud voice rang free and clear, as Catryn Taken hopped down from her barrel and wove her way up towards the stage, "A few words, but of terrible import before we perform. Something, that should not be left out. Oh no. Not when love is the token of the hour and how not then, when the very reason we're here is to celebrate a wedding! An applause for our hosts, Ladies and Gentlemen, to have shared the joy of their lives with the likes of such as us! And!" The blond haired chit lifted her tankard high, "This /very/ fine ale. An applause for the Tavernmaster, who's wet the lips and throats of no doubt every man here today! Better him," the tavernmaster she means, but her voice had dropped to a conspiratoral whisper as she leaned low, a faux whisper meant to reach the ears of those even in the back. "Than his lordship, no?" A grin, cheeky as ever and the Cat straightened, offering a low bow to her competition. "In light of all fairness, I bid thee, please…go first."

"Perhaps," Robben answers to Aemy's words, "Maybe I'm just a bit uncomfortable with sharing it in such a public place." Another brief pause, before he adds, "Your own writing is quite good too, I must add." Alric is offered a grin, and a raised eyebrow. "Comment? What comment?" It's spoken quite lightly, though.

Stafford looked up at Catryn as she took center stage, looking very much like the gracious lord, patient and generous towards the antics of even common rats on this day, which was meant to celebrate his wedding and provide the common populance of Kingsgrove with a bit of free entertainment. After all, it wasn't too often they had an excuse to leave their work and their farms and simply enjoy some time of carefree laughter. Something to talk about for the rest of the year full of dreary days. So he nodded his head in amiable if detatched acknowledgement of her cheer.

Shireen of Kingsgrove was a picture of sweet innocence, doe eyed and batting her lashes at anyone who looked at her. Though the occasional sly smile she offered to those eyes that lingered a bit too long, might suggest the girl was less innocent than she appeared. She danced her way up to the stage, smooched the Master with a shy giggle, and then spun around delightfully when Catryn offered her to go first. She cleared her voice, and spun out with a soft voice a song that was performed like a loving romantic ballad, even if it was anything but:

"Whos that knocking at my door?
Whos that knocking at my door?
Whos that knocking at my door?
Cried the fair young maiden

"Its me, my love, its only me," cried Barnacle Bill the sailor
"Its me, my love, its only me, cried Barnacle Bill the sailor
Where were you for seven years?"
"Where were you for seven years?"
"Where were you for seven years?"
Cried the fair young maiden

"Ive been to sea, Ive been to sea," cried Barnacle Bill the sailor
"I knew that you would wait for me,"cried Barnacle Bill the sailor
"I detect the smell of rum"
"I detect the smell of rum"
"I detect the smell of rum"
Cried the fair young maiden

"Ive only had a drink or two," cried Barnacle Bill the sailor
"Im only drunk with love for you," cried Barnacle Bill the sailor
"Come and meet your son of six"
Come and meet your son of six"
Come and meet your son of six"
Cried the fair young maiden

"A sailors pay wont do for three," cried Barnacle Bill the sailor
"Farewell, Im off across the sea!" cried Barnacle Bill the sailor

"Oh come now luv," crowed Catryn, when the little Siren's song spun to an end. "We have great guests, noble guests! With a knowledge and a longing for history and more, more for love. They need something /respectable/, something they can appreciate. Something…that speaks of more than simply the problems of the common man! Something…," and before the applause could so much as die down, Cat had stepped forward again and in /front/, "Something exotic. There's a song in Dorne..," the girl whispered and then, pitched her voice quiet, to sing…a ballad.

"Twas er a love that time did know,
From Dorne, to Essos, the First Men did go.
T'march says they, from day to night;
Cross an Arm not yet broken, these men lookin' for a fight.
An tis here now the story may break,
For men speak as men and corrections women make.
Twas not for pillage to cross the sea,
But for love of a woman, known in minds eye went he.

Her eyes like sapphires, hair spun gold's glow,
Twas the jewel of Lys, that many did know;
And promised to another, her love refused to show.
Yet men think as men, and in violence sought to woo;
So marching, onward marching, their numbers through and through.
To a land full of deserts and seas full of sand,
Crushed magic with numbers and loves cruel demand.

In sadness she spured him, in anger they fought,
And the children of the forest shook their heads for the damage that was wrought.
In conflict and anger, in rage and in tears;
All in the name of fools love, good men died on spears.
Clashing, clashing, till the sands became red sea.
Till one but had the wisdom to stop anger's flee.
To try and close the door, the Arm no longer solid, but broken forever more.

Tis how we got the islands, the Stepstones of the sea,
The once whole road now broken - a path of misery."

Catryn spends 1 luck points on Bonus vs Shireen.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Catryn=singing+50 Vs Shireen=2+2
< Catryn: Great Success Shireen: Failure
< Net Result: Catryn wins - Crushing Victory

"Ah, what a pity. I'm sure you'll do better next time, my dear," said the Master sympathetically as Shireen's little diddy failed to really spark too much reaction from the crowd, except perhaps for the occasional laugh. In comparason it seemed the whole town went quiet for Catryn's beautifully haunting song, so completely different from the bawdry affair most had likely expected considering her behavior so far today.
"The Cat, who sings not like the neighboor's black one we'd all like to strangle, but like an angel! Let's hear it for her! Certainly for the next round!"
"Speaking of next round! After a brief pause to moisten our throats and let these performances sink down, we shall have the Lady Nedra facing up against the Lord Alric, and the Lady Arabella matched to the Cat. Mmore to look forward to! No reason to leave, no reason to snooze, we're not done yet!"

Stafford's lips curled with a small surprised smile as he listened to Catryn sing, some of his earlier disapproval for her lewd behavior lost temporarily in appreciation. He even applauded, a polite little clap before he leaned in against his wife and murmurd a few words.

A little grumble accompanies the last look Garion throws at Lord Alric, the smile with which it is delivered may be a bit too sweet to be honest. "Ah, those nobles. Never sung for bread. If I were able to sit in front of a warm fire all day and had nothing to do but practicing…" he mutters to a clever merchant, who busily sells only slightly watered wine. With his wineskin refilled his mood soon brightens up, especially as he listens to the melodies performed by the fair young ladies at the stage. A hearty laughter comments the first ditty, an approving nod the other. A little smirk conquers the bard's mien as he decides to walk a few paces closer towards the stage while clapping. To have a closer look at the female competitioners. And another sip of wine.

Nedra casts a glance out over the crowd then tilts her head to speak in a low tone to Shalla, suggesting and discarding ideas almost as swiftly as she can put voice to them. A second piece, or - the seven help - a third for a sudden death round? Time to start cobbling together ideas!

Hearing who he will face it seems that Alric's brows raises though a wicked grin soon follows. Completely missing Garion's words it seems. Moving to head for the stage. "I will let the lady start, of course." He offers and takes a step back as he bows. Letting Nedra go on ahead, if she is ready that is.

The Master got himself a tankard of ale that he quickly and hastily chugged down, making good of his self made break in the entertainment. Doing like him were quite a few others, and at one point the tavernkeeper could be heard to curse about having too few barrels and too many mouths to fill!

Cat knew it was her awesome advertising that had helped the tavernkeep turn out more tankards and made no qualms about collecting one from a passing soul for herself. He shouldn't have left it sitting down! Before she peered up towards Garion and offered a cheeky little grin in his direction. "I've to say, I enjoyed your performance, Master. S'a pity we'll no be crossin' words."

Robben gets hold of something more to drink now, some wine. Looking at Aemy, he offers her a smile. "Some wine, my lady?" he asks, ready to get hold of some more for her.

Nedra inclines her head in a nod at Lord Alric as she steps out onto the stage once more. "Forgive me, my lords and ladies, for not having prepared something lighter as a second pass. This is a trifle more… dramatic," she admits with a 'forgive me' sort of shrug and clears her throat to recite:
"Because of what I am,
I must be
But because of who I am
and what I choose,
I must also be me.

Because of what I have done,
I must pay the price.
But because of what I stand for,
and what I believe,
I must also stand up and be counted.

Because I have stood in darkness,
I must forever seek the light.
But because I have known
the face of unending love
I must also love my own darkness and light.

Because of what I am
I must be
But because of what I have done,
and what I will do
I must also learn to love and accept me.

When the next rounds are introduced, Bella looks between her brother and Nedra, this one would be a good competition for sure. With Nedra being a good friend and Alric being her brother, it was a difficult choice to make, so she decided to make neither and cheer them both on.

"That…," Aeliana whispered, hardly a thread of sound to her voice at all as she listened to Nedra, "Has to be the most profound thing I've heard all day." And then she stood, rising up to clap and offering all due compliment.

Stafford smoothly rose to his feet at the end of Nedra's recital, a courtly bow shed from his elegant frame in gratitude to the Lady for offering the hosts such a beautiful turn of verse. His smile was a genuine thing of pleasure, white teeth showing, even if his applause remained the same detatched and regal sort that he had offered the whole day. Let peasents stomp their feet like chattle.

Smiling and applauding that beautfil poem, by Nedra, it seems that Alric will step up next to Nedra when she finishes. Offering a nod to her. "Beautiful." He tells her and if not as bright a smile it is still a warm smile. "It will be a tough act to follow, but I will try." He offers before clearing his throat again.

"During a time of wonder, as pain out of grief.
A man who's love was pure, it was thus turned sour.
For it caused a hole in the man,
as he discarded women like pieces of ham on a silver plate.
Continuing such he still got married, though perhaps worrying one day for that dagger in his back.
Thus is the lonely man's journey, and such it will not be more than hell's tourney."

Finishing Alric takes a deep breath and bows deeply before he will step off as well to see who was deemed the winner.

A bit of flattering and a fair face always are the best company Garion could wish for. "Thank you, pretty nightingale. I must admit, your southern ditty was pleasant enough as well. But if you wish, I'm sure we'll find an occasion to cross words an other time. Maybe with a more appreciating audience.", he answers with his wineskin raised and a wink answering the mischievous face of the girl. Again a little snort comments a glimpse at the noble stands. "Where did you learn to sing, little bird? Especially tunes like this!", he asks with honest interest.

Aemy watches as Robben gets wine and offers her some, she inclines her head, "Yes, please, that would be lovely." Hopefully watered down. As Nedra begins reciting, her attention goes back to the Mallister, then afterwards she bows her head slightly, the words beautifully versed. As a lover of poetry, she appreciates the poem very much, applauding softly. As Alric begins his, again her attention is on him as he recites his own poem. When it ends, she applauds his also, offering a bright smile to both of the participants.

Robben smiles, as he gets Aemy the wine, offering her a smile. "Here you go," he offers, before he looks up at Nedra's recivtal, applauding carefully. "Now that's an interesting poem," he offers, before hearing Alric's. Taking a sip of his wine after listening, he's unable to hold back a loud comment. "Speaking from experience there?" he asks, a bit lightly.

"I should like that, good Master," Cat cajoiled with winning smile, stepping closer to the minstrel so that she could rest near his side and avoid the jostling of the crowd when they rose up to clap for the Lord and Lady. "Though, to answer you, I grew up on other shores beyond these, they were common place enough there."

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Nedra=singing Vs Alric=poetry
< Nedra: Good Success Alric: Great Success
< Net Result: Alric wins - Solid Victory

As usual, the commoners occupy the 'cheap seats' but are not so far away that they could complain justifiably of mistreatment. Among them is a young man in muted colors but topped with vivid red hair. Along with most in the peanut gallery, Nathaniel applauds energetically at the performances.

The Master wiped a bit of moisture from the corner of his eye, as he declared in a shaky voice: "And while it's a cruelty beyond endurance to have to decide between this priceless vistage of the divine, and this wordsmith of otherworldly qualities, such is our lot. I will bear the suffering knowing that they've both touch me forever more, here, in my soul!" And he clutched his heart as he said it. "To judge then.. what I heard, and what I see of you good folk's reactions, Lord Alric must move on. But never think we should forget you, m'Lady Nedra. Truly! Applaud them both!"

Nedra gives a bit of a smile, a fine thread of embarrassment at having delivered that poem of all poems but bows to the audience, "Thank you," is said quietly as she offers her hand to Alric, as fair contestants must in a game of sudden death public opinion. "Well said, my lord," is offered before she moves to the side again, standing alongside Shalla as they carry the painting back to sit again.

Aeliana waits to hug Nedra just as soon as she sits, a sisterly kiss and a few quiet words offered against her ear, before she settles back anew, waiting properly for the rest of the competition.

"Next we shall have the Lady Arabella, and the Cat!" Declared the Master, once he had gotten over his teary eyed state, and let the crowd settle in a bit after the last performance.

Alric chuckles at Robben's words, "Hey now, I know where you passed out at Broadmoor." He tells his friend with a wink. Then turning to hear the master's judgement. Bowing deeply in appreciation before turning towards Nedra. Taking her hand. "It was a beautiful poem by you as well. I am quite surprised even." He admits. A bright smile being given to her before he moves off. "Good luck, dear sister." He offers brightly.

When it is her turn again, Bella is a little more comfortable than the previous time and as she rises, she collects her fiddle from her maid and walks back up and offers Cat a gracious smile, "Good luck, Cat, I have to say your songs yesterday and today were both entertaining. Thank you for sharing them. Would you prefer to go first or second?" Offering her the choice, should she wish it.

"As before," says Catryn, easing herself away from conversation with Garion, to leap back up onto the stage, ale sloshing from her tankard as she goes, "I am inclined to bow the floor to the Lady first," it's finished, flashing a smile in Arabella's direction. "I would never dream to go before you."

Two times Garion's hands hit to appreciate the winner of the competition with applause - a movement barely to be called clapping, rather chasing away of the moment like one would brush off a persistant fly. A heartbeat later his cerulean blue eyes rest on the girl again. "A far travelled nightingale - I'm curious!" he says before the girl is called again. As he catches the sight of Lady Arabella the bold smile sneaks upon his mien again. Stretching his shoulders he tries to find a place where he has the perfect view upon them. Again his well ungroomed hair is brushed by one of his hands.

With the go ahead, Bella inclines her head with a grin, "Then I shall," lifting the fiddle to her chin once again and raising the bow, "Perhaps those in the mood to dance would like to do so." With flourish, she draws the bow across the strings, the sound it makes pitch perfect as she plays a foot stomping, girl twirling, ale drinking, knee slapping rendition of another pub song. A lively number filled with ups and downs and as she draws the bow faster back and forth in rapid succession ending with a sudden halt of the bow to abrupt silence only to begin again and twirl and dance onstage herself as she plays a few more minutes before she ends in a curtsy, cheeks flushed, eyes bright. "Thank you." Rising, she moves back to her seat to allow the Cat her turn.

Stafford's eyes widened a touch at the choice of music from the young Fenster noble, but after a bit of initial reserve, allowed himself to tap his foot along with the music she spun around the town square. His hand snaked itself up against his wife's slender neck, brushing into her hair, before falling back away again. He wasn't the only one who gave in; though in the case of the peasentry then they really didn't need to be persuaded. Dancing broke off all around, singing as well, hollaring, a full on revelry sparked by the girl on the stage.

"That's only because you passed out there yourself, I heard," Robben comments back to Alric, before he takes another sip of his wine, listening to the next Fenster providing the entertainment now. Taping his foot along with the music as well, he smiles a bit.

Stafford is not the only one surprised at the choice of music, Erik's eyes widening slightly as it was a tune more heard in the taverns. However, a small smile appears as he follows the beat, foot tapping along, watching other people enjoying the song as well, especially the peasants. When the number if done though, the Jast applauds just as loudly as the others who may be whistling and cheering.

Alric chuckles to Robben before moving along. Blinking a bit at his sister's choice he soon raises a brow. Glancing over towards Erik as well, though following the beat with a tapping foot of his own as he looks back to his sister as she plays. Applauding loudly as well.

Nedra taps her toes along with the lively tune that Bella plays, sharing a smile aimed at Aeliana and Stafford until the end. With the last note she rises to her feet, applauding and giving out a wolf whistle - very unladylike.

"Is she not amazing!" Cat crowed, having stomped her way in a twirling circle about the noble as she played. It might have been more effect where she in a dress, but alas, such is not the case. Regardless, the blond haired chit looked pleased and offered a low courtly bow to Arabella, one arm flourishing out to the side while the other tucked in against her waist. "That was lovely! And to think," Cat straightened, turning back to face the crowd. "To think that oftimes we assume those above us can not enjoy our pleasures! Our music! Our…taste in with that, I beg you remember yesterday and a test of lances..or perhaps, of Staff's!"
"To the very edge of the stage Cat went, hip cocked in a pirateers pose, tankard held high as she began:

"To the Lord of the Hour;
Who's Staff he's proven, has staying power.
To the Lady, now his wife;
The one to whom his Staff pays tithe.
Tell us Mistress, if you please;
Does it hang down to his knees?
Is he really as a horse?
With a staff that lasts the rutting course?

Tell us MiLord, do they speak true?
Have you really tamed the shrew?
Lips like poison, heart like ice;
Thighs that squeeze you like a vice.
They say passion makes you break a sweat;
but does she not look frigid yet?
Yet for all I have nothing, I offer your due:
May your marriage breed fruitful, young heirs, like you!"

Catryn spends 1 luck points on To success and avoiding the stocks!.
Erik spends 1 luck points on For Arabella to win with her fiddling!.

Like most in the commoners' corner, Nathaniel stamps his feet and claps along with the music until enthusiasm overtakes him. He turns to a young retainer form the Groves, dressed in her house's colors, and invites her to dance. They duck beneath the rope, and soon others are following to bob and twirl to the lively jig. When the song finally ends, he cheers, "Hear hear!" Then he looks around and adds, "There's irony! I fine noble lady doing justice to a song like that! Well played! Well played!"

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Catryn=singing + 50 Vs Arabella=Fiddle + 50
< Catryn: Good Success Arabella: Great Success
< Net Result: Arabella wins - Solid Victory

Laughter filled the crowed at Catryn's song, cheers and hollars and whistles. Though the Master's smile was a bit thinner for the topic of her song, and looks flew in the direction of the lord and lady hosts of the evening, to gauge their reactions. Finally he declared: "Well.. that was.. lively! Very lively! But I think we're all in agreement that Lady Fenster edged out the.. foul mouthed little wench, however. Applause!"
"And then.. the final! The Lady Arabella against her very own brother, Lord Alric!"

As Catryn places a few whispered words at him before she departs again, a light chuckle emerges Garion's throat. Lady Arabella's choice of music seems to be pleasant enough for his ears for the applaud appreciating it is driven by honest enthusiasm. It only takes the first two verses of Catryn's song to make him laugh out again and throw an expectant look at Lord Stafford himself to check whether the nobleman is well-humoured enough.
As the victory is decided he raises his skin again proclaiming a "Well done, m'lady, well done!"

Stafford's mouth thinned at Catryn's bawdy song, his eyes taking on a hard edge. Yet he wasn't oblivious of the mood of the crowd, and so he slid on a milder mask to cover up those earlier flickers of emotion. There was no applause this time around, though. Just a slight inclination of his head in the Master's direction, to say that he had made the right choice.
When the Master brought attentions to the final, Stafford's eyes briefly flickered in the direction of one of the men-at-arms who were providing security. A silent message delivered.

"Grace!" Catryn beamed, graciously bowing the floor, "As well as poise, may my Lady take the day!" Bid with genuine good hearted nature in Arabella's direction, a wink offered before the minx lept free of the stage and without err made her way through the common throng, towards the absolute very edge of it and atop a crate, that she could still see. But the stage wasn't the only thing she watched now, she also watched the Lord and his hands and any shifting bodies of guardsmen.

Alric just blinks and shakes his head at the song of Catryn. Offering a pleasant chuckle though and clapping a bit. As for the final he finally does move to join next to his sister. Bowing and gesturing for her to start, "You go first, dear sister." He offers. Perhaps spotting the moving guards as well but for now paying little attention to them. Just smiling and waiting his turn. "Good luck." Is given to Bella.

Rising once more, Bella looks at Erik briefly, "You are my good luck.." gives him a quick wink before she walks back out with her fiddle in hand. "I think Cat is a challenging opponent indeed, thank you." A smile lifting her lips before she seeks out her brother. "Lord Alric, I believe I will go first this time. I wish you luck, dear brother." A Fenster, Fenster finale. Who would have guessed? This time though she stands at the edge and lifts the fiddle to her chin, the song she plays this time as she draws the bow is much softer, quieter, more proper, if someone would know the words it is another about wishing on stars, perhaps the first she ever learned so she is skilled at it. Of course the softer number is not catering to the party atmosphere they had all created with the livelier music so at the very end, she puts her own twist on it and saws the bow on the strings building to a high sound before slowing it back down until with a final stroke, she pulls it across the strings to hold it at her side, ending the song then looks at her brother in challenge only stepping aside this time, not completely leaving.

Robben is unable to hold back a chuckle as he listens to Catryn, hiding most of it behind a cough of course. "You know, that's a scary verse," he remarks to Aemy, before he looksto the front at the Fenster against Fenster final, smiling a bit now. "This will be good."

Aemy accepts the wine, "Thank you, my lord." Listening to Catryn, her eyes widen and she ducks her head slightly hiding the flush on her cheeks at the suggestive words unlike any she had heard before.. save for one time Daryl had used something similar in the Sept Garden in Terricks Roost. Having led a very proper and protected life thus far, the bawdry atmosphere not something she is not usually exposed to. Attempting to conceal her embarrassment, she lifts her drink to her lips, sipping lightly. Her eyes meet those of Robben, briefly though she says nothing more.

Alric smiles brightly as he listens to his sister's playing. Enjoying it quite a bit it seems. Letting his eyes go out over the crowd as well. As soon as her song comes to an end he will prepare to step up. Giving his sister a bright smile in passing. As usual clearing his throat.

"From dungeons deep a beast that roars,
Though one asks a beast of it's past for a beast can be gentle, as a man that once was pure.

A beast of many faces coming from the deeps of the dark while a man of purity and innocence.
The shapes be they plenty, ranging from fierce animals with fangs to demons of old.
Let thy memory still be kept to be their shapes of past,
The light still residing within.

For they are, but simply, the grace of life."

Offering another bow Alric will step to his sister and offer her a hug before turning towards the master. "Good luck." He offers as they wait for judgement.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Alric=poetry Vs Arabella=fiddle
< Alric: Success Arabella: Good Success
< Net Result: Arabella wins - Marginal Victory

"They're both so very skilled," Aeliana mused, apparently all too happy for something Stafford's offered quietly in her ear. There's a dark vitality to her now and it lends animation to her eyes and the sharp edge of her smile. "I'd forgotten that Alric could do that, but she…," her eyes turned anew to Arabella, "Would you mind, my Lord, if I extended to her an invitation to stay beyond the festivities of the wedding. I should very much like to get to know her," softly inquired, before she offered up a lively clap for both participants.

"Hah! Toldjuns!" Catryn bellowed from there in the back, "Better t'lose to her than that god awful tumbler. Well done!" The minx continued, both feet stomping loudly atop her crate, while the ale had been finished off and tankard discarded. Though she'd as much attention on the show as she did now, on the guards. His lordship hadn't looked all that happy, had he?

"What a finale! Wonderful, wonderful!" Called out the Master of the Challenge as he stepped forward to the center stage, lifting up his hands. "But in all things, there must be a victor. This day, a tricky one to decide.. but I think.. I think it must be the Lady Arabella. If the Lord and Lady agrees?" Asked in direction of the patrons of this competition of the arts. "Let's give her a good cheer, and then hear whom she choses to bestow the patronage of House Groves on!"

"They are," replied Stafford to his wife's comment, having enjoyed the showing of both the Fensters, including a proper applaud when they were done rather than the aristocratic and lackluster pat-pat-pat that he normally offered. "And a fitting winner, wouldn't you think?" Asked of his wife.
"Of course, if you'd like to have her guest, I'd not deny you, my Lady."

Seeing Aemy's reaction, Robben reaches out to pat her shoulder gently, as he whispers something to her. Glancing to the front again as he listens to the final performances, with a bit of a smile. Applauding as the winner is chosen now.

"I agree," Aeliana's head bowed gracious, eyes still aglow, her expression more than pleased. "And I have…" the Lady gestured a servant forward, who slipped up quietly to the stage a pillow cradled on the palm of his hands. Black velvet, over which a square of silk lay, hiding the contents beneath. To the Master of Challenge then, that treasure was offered, a quit word against his ear, before the servant stepped away.

As Alric recites his poem, Bella smiles from the side, there is a look of melancholy on her face for a moment at the words, though it does not last. As his words taper off, she applauds, returning the hug he gives her. "Well done, Alric." As the Master arrives center stage, she hears Cat and the others cheer for them. Addressing the Master in a voice loud enough to carry, she grins as she replies. "If bestow I must, then I shall say, the most entertaining to me on this day, has been seen and heard the weekend through, Cat, the patronage belongs to you."

Alric smiles brightly as he hears the winner. "Congratulations, Bella." He offers and stays next to her. Listening to her mostly, for now. Not fully paying attention to the words of the crowd. Raising a brow at her decision though perhaps not fully disagreeing with her as he smiles and applauds.

Up near the front, Aeliana's face had go tight, that smile frozen to beautifully yet chilling display and then, as a gracious hostess should, her head bowed and a small clap was offered in response for the decision, though the Lady did not rise to her feet.

Nedra claps with delight at the witty bit of prose that Bella recites, laughing as she applauds the clever prose. "Well done, Lady Bella, well done," she calls, still laughing.

Stafford did lift to his feet, calmly rising as Arabella declared Catryn to be the victor of the official patronage. He wore a mild smile of lordly benevolence, pausing only long enough to brush a kiss of benediction against Aeliana's forhead and cool counterance, before he strode with easy steps towards the stage. The Master blinked in surprise, stepping back and then offering the Young Lord the little package that Aeliana had sent over earlier.
With a flourish he bowed to Arabella, then inclined his head first to Alric, then the Master, then finally set his eyes on Catryn herself. A small gesture of his palm summoning her up to the stage to share it with himself and Arabella.

Catryn, meanwhile, was in the midst of preparing for a swift and abrupt departure and had been looking the distance, to where the pavilions were and those horses whom, did not fit into Braeburn's stables proper when she heard her name called. A woman's voice, not a guard's no less! That stopped her, and with a turn on the ball of her foot the minx turned to face the stage and offered a beaming smile. "Well if," she pitched her voice to carry and called in sing-song, "My Lady deems it just, then I suppose…I must!" But perhaps she'd see how the Lord looked about it first. No guards were running. Hrm. Well, with this many witnesses, it had to be safe. Right?

Robben smiles as he listens for now, keeping silent as he hears the words, before he looks over at Aeliana and Stafford, watching how the two of them react to who the Fenster Lady decided to award the patronage to. Taking another sip of his wine as he watches the ceremonies now.

Bella smiles back to Alric first, "Thank you." Her voice is quiet, but watches Lady Aeliana and almost winces at the coolness of her features, only just managing not to. Nedra distracts her and she smiles brightly to the Mallister, "Thank you, my lady." As Stafford arrives, she curtsies to him at the bow, she lowers her head demurely only rising again when he straightens from his bow. "Thank you, Young Lord Groves, it has been a most enjoyable weekend."

From within the dark package Stafford produced a delicate laurel of beaten copper, stained to hues of gold and orange and greens. First he lifted it high up to catch the fall of summer's light, brilliant for a moment as if burished fire there in his hands, before he turned once more to Arabella and lightly settled it on the young girl's brow. His warm touch light in her hair and her temple as he arranged the piece properly, before withdrawing. "You are the victor of the contest, my Lady. Accept my humble thanks for the beauty of your music, bestowed here upon our fair Kingsgrove and honored guests."
Then he turned to Catryn. "To you I say, young Mistress, that what is earned must be bestowed. Lady Arabella has chosen you to be given House Groves' Patronage, as promised, and so it shall be. You'll have the protection of our name, and coin to live by and learn greater skills in your arts, in return for spreading music and song, and always good word of our family and House." The peasents cheered! But Stafford was not done. "But -also-, you shall spend one night in the Stockades, and one in the Dungeons, for inappropriate turns of phrase in reference to my Lady Wife. Your song was amusing, and had it been merely about me, I could have laughed it off." A shrug to say, but it -hadnt- been just about him. "So, you shall have both prize and punishment, for anything else would have been unfair, unjust, and sent the wrong message."

Nathaniel returned to he commoners' corner long ago, and now stand with the others, craning his neck in hopes of seeing who wins the patronage.

Well. Fuck. The glow on Catryn's face faded properly, as she looked down the barrel of her future and then, squared her shoulders and lifted her chin. From his Lordship to the audience and back again, after a moment's appreciation for just how lovely Arabella looked beneath that gilded laurel. "If…my lord would permit me then to make amends, with a song?" Hopefully and humbly bid of the Young Lord.

"You may sing," said Stafford thoughfully, then looked towards Aeliana and added: "But whether your song will serve as amends I'll leave completely in the hands of the wounded party. Personally I would think it should not. Done is done, and regret does not wipe away your actions, young Mistress." With that he stepped back down off the stage, to rejoin his wife.

At the return rhyme from Cat, she cannot help but smile in return. As Stafford addresses them, her attention returns to him and when the laurel is placed upon her head, Bella reaches a hand up and gingerly trace a finger over it with a delighted smile. "Thank you, my lord, I am honored," curtsying once more before stepping back and with her fiddle in hand retakes her seat beside Erik.

Alric smiles and follows suit with his sister. Looking around a bit before focusing on Catryn. Though before doing so he does lift his hands to his face to rub a bit. Not really saying much for a moment, other than looking proud of his sister. He did say that house Fenster had a lot to offer when it came to the minstrel part after all, and he did keep that word.

Robben nods a little as he listens again now, draining the rest of his wine. Looking towards Stafford, he offers the man a nod at how he solved this.

In for a copper, in for a stag. If she was going to take a punishment that severe, then…damn them all, she was going to earn it. Thus, did Cat pitch her voice once more to carry. "Very well then. The Defination of a Lady…for a Lady." And Catryn began to sing:

"Prim and prude, not trained to be rude,
Such is the life of a Laaaaady.
Liars behind lace,
Broodmares with grace,
Such is the life of a Laaaaady.
A fair defined creature,
With a septa for a teacher,
/This/ is the life of a Lady.
With manners and poise,
They don't make much noise.
/That's/ what defines a lady.
To bleed when there's need for a nobleman's greed,
…with a potion to hide the young bastard's seed.
Decite is discrete on any backstreet!
/That's/ common knowledge for a LAAAADY!!"

Stunned but admiring silence from the smallfolk. But this time nobody dared to clap or applaud, whiel the Master looked on with an expression of horrified shock and.. yes, admiration even there.

Catryn crowed, "To the dungeon!"

Stafford's expression turned regretful as he listened to the mocking song of the young girl whose career had seemed moments ago to be so very bright! "Take her away," he commanded in a firm and disapproving voice, snapping a brisk gesture towards the armed retainres of House Groves to remove the sassy minx from his presence. Not quite the ending of the festivities that he had hoped for, perhaps, but there was nothing to do for that right now. There could be but one response.

Nathaniel continues to strain to hear the verdict. When it comes, he covers his mouth and coughs. Then he inclines his head to the retainer who joined him earlier in dancing to the lively tune. "I thank you, mistress, for the dance." He bows to her. Then, she Catryn delivers her rebuttal Nathaniel again covers his mouth and steps back, behind a rotund peasant woman. After a long moment, he emerges, struggling to banish the last traces of a grin from his face before anyone can see it.

The Jast was eager to hear the apologetic song that was sure to come from the bold common girl, but when the song begins, he looks a bit puzzled, not exactly what he was expecting. When the song ends, Erik is stunned yet again, as Catryn being purposefully bold has him narrowing his eyes slightly. He does remain silent though, looking towards Stafford who orders her away. Leaning in, he whispers some quiet worsd for Arabella, before his eyes lifts to hers, a serious look there.

Bella bows her head, disappointed. Not a better life then for the commoner, but a shame on the Fenster, for it was she and she alone who had chosen badly. With a flash of determination in her gaze she rises from her seat without bothering to excuse herself from the whispering Erik, without even fully hearing his words, and she approaches Lady Aeliana. "I admit my mistakes when I make them and I am ashamed to say I falsely saw promise in that commoner. I can only beg your forgiveness. I chose wrong."

Catryn made absolutely no fight this time, none at all. Head high, spine straight, with no small measure of pride. She let them lead her off as if she'd some courtly escort to see the king, rather than the dank dungeons of Braeburn house.

Nedra is silent as she glances from Aeliana and Stafford to Catryn and then back again, sort of like watching a cart rolling down hill - sans driver. "Oh.. my," she murmurs.

Alric sighs at the common girl and rolls his eyes a bit. Watching as his sister moves over to Aeliana. Hands falling from his face. Giving Erik a pat before moving to follow his sister.

Robben pauses for a few moments as he hears what's being sung now, his hand never leaving his betrothed's shoulder, since he know how she reacted when hearing that other song. He shakes his head a bit as he listens to the people around now. "Some people never learn…" he remarks, with a bit of a sigh.

With a white knuckled grip on the goblet, Aeliana's head lifted with Arabella's approach and glancing but once towards her husband, the lady's attention settled on the Fenster. "It's a bit like betting on horses, I think. They can't always win. Though, if the Lady is so inclined, perhaps you might care to stay on after the festivites are concluded? I meant it when I said I would like to better get to know you. This…," an errant dismissal towards the display, "Changes nothing." As if it'd never happened at all. Though…," in an effort and with a preference to see the festivities end on a light note, Aeliana rose and it was the ladies that her attention landed on.
"Speaking of horse racing, what would you say to us having the men race for our enjoyment?"

"Master, if you please. An open stage for anyone who wishes to contribute to our good town's entertainment, and free drinks for those who do, the rest of the night," said Stafford loudly, to put a pin in the tension that had grown around the square after Catryn was hauled away. He was still wearing the stern and steel clad facade of a lord in judgement, though. It took Aeliana's little suggestion to put a small smile on his lips, brows arched. He chuckled. "You would race us, my Lady?" He asked, brow arched.

Stunned, that is mostly what you could call the expression on the face of the Erenford. The festivities come crashing to a solid end and Aemy rises, "It has been an… interesting weekend." Her impressions of a bride fleeing the feast and an insolent commoner throwing waste in the faces of the proper ladies present were certainly memorable occasions. "If my lord would excuse me, I should go to the inn and pen a few.. letters to my family before our departure."

When Arabella rises to speak with Aeliana, Erik nods his head slightly after hearing her words, seeing that even before his quiet words were whispered to the Fenster she was already on her feet. When it appears that no slight was done and a new activity presented to end the festivities on a good note, the Jast rises to his feet, apparently eager to compete again despite being a little sore. "A race of the horses? Competition… would certainly get the blood pumpin again." Plus there would be riding without being encumbered by armor, a much preferred option right now.

"Well now," Nedra wonders as she rises from her seat and wonders this question at Stafford and Aeliana, "a race - between the good men or a race that pits the men against the ladies?" she wonders.

Robben rises at the same time as Aemy, nodding a little to her words. "Of course, my lady," he offers, before he lowers his voice again to say something, studying her for a few moments now.

"On foot, I think. I would race them as horses, that we might wager upon the outcome. What say you, my Love," Ae looked towards Stafford, "Would you race? Would all of you men?"

Alric follows his sister for now and stands next to the ladies with a raised brow. "Horse racing you say?" Grinning a bit at that. Though then he does bow. "I must say that it has been quite some time and apologies that I have not had too much time to actually speak to you. Congratulations and it has been a wonderful weekend." He suggests before moving back a bit, still looking amused.Letting his sister speak to her.

With Stafford's announcement, Shireen with the drinking song from earlier, was back up on the stage to grab a chance to earn free drinks for the rest of the night. With her come a fiddler who'd not had the courage to actually perform infront of the gathered nobility and half the town, and together they burst into a loud and cheerful song under the Master's encouragement.

"As a horse?" Asked Stafford with a shake of his head and a quiet chuckle, his eyes sparkling with amusement. "Come now, would you reduce us to foot games? Well, if you would, then you could not properly race us without riders on our backs to direct our courses. Regardless, my Lords and Ladies, I propose we withdraw from the town and back to Braeburn House. I've had enough of the smallfolk crowding for one day, I think."

The white knuckled grip on the gifted goblet lets Arabella know how upset the new Groves was. Feeling contrite with the choice she had made, she prepares for an anger that does not come. "Thank you for your forgiveness, my lady." That said, she does quirk her lips in a lopsided smile at the mention of horse racing. "It sounds like an interesting event." For a moment there is a considering look on her face and she inclines her head, "If you would have me, it would be my honor to remain an extra day or two. I must admit that I am to report to a lady in Highfield as lady in waiting in a few days time."

Nathaniel watches while the guards lead Catryn away from the pavilion. Then he shakes his head slowly. He slips quietly away from the still boisterous crowd.

On second thought.. if the smallfolk are not invited to the rest of the festivities.. well the uncouth ones such as the one who was led to the dungeon, then Aemy had no issue with remaining. The nobility were lovely company. With a bright smile, she nods to Robben, what he had said quietly to her, "Or I think you could join the races if you wish. I will cheer you on, my lord."

"You'd have us ride?" Aeliana laughed with Stafford's jest and then turned the same kindly smile in Arabella's direction. "Oh posh, why should you hurry off to be lady in waiting, when you're a lady in your own right? Or tell me instead to whom I must write to beg leave for your absence. There are no lady's left in Highfield, lest it be the Frey."

Nedra gives a sudden, if startled, laugh at Aeliana's words and attempts to look contrite after doing so but doesn't quite manage it. "Ae," she says, another breath of laughter.

Ride? Bella gives a sly look to Erik, that same lopsided grin on her face. "Why, my lady, my lord, what a lovely idea." Joining in the jest, not particularly expecting it to really happen. But it was fun teasing about it! At the question from Aeliana, her smile widens. "Lady Tiaryn. I had thought to earn my keep instead of sleeping in the inn there. It would make things much simpler on my family."