A Blooming Good Time (Complete)

[Summersday, 9.35, the Palace - initially with Avos &  , then Leliana]

With all the religious formalities of Summersday completed during daylight hours, the evening and night was given over to celebrations. There was no district in Denerim that did not have a newly married couple to celebrate and toast. Indeed, even the Palace echoed with gaiety and celebration, though not for Queen Anora. Her Majesty remained steadfast in her intention not to remarry, but she understood the importance of recognising the unions made between the noble families in Ferelden. As such, the Summersday ball held in the Royal Palace was the place to be!

Naturally, the Grey Warden liaison to the Queen (albeit unofficially and because no one else thought to do it) had ensured his name was included on the guest list. Yet it was not simply for the good of the Order. What was any royal function without a Tevene? Boring, that was what. In this provincial little country, which he did so adore for its delusions of relevance, there was little which could compare to the decadent drama of the Imperium. Not that Queen Anora's soiree came close, but it was closer than anything else in Ferelden.

Smoothing down his robes, Avos admired the skill of the seamstress. He had made arrangements that his formal Grey Warden robes had been elevated to the style expected from a Tevene. Under his close instruction, the seamstress had edged each flowing seam with silver thread, giving the robes a delightful sparkle without the need to panic these skittish dog lords by using magic. He had also ensured that his staff had been polished ahead of the event: while he would refrain from summoning magic, he had no compunction about bringing the symbol of his craft with him.

Now, he snatched up said staff and exited from his room, turning down the Palace corridor to the adjoining room. He did not normally reside in the Palace but all attendees of the Summersday ball were hosted in the Palace. Avos was not about to refuse that opportunity just to sleep in his usual quarters in the Denerim Warden compound.

He rapped on the door and stepped in, calling out to his fellow Warden. "Lessa, it is time!" He had only meet the other Warden the day before and it had been questionable whether the steamstress could complete the alterations to fit Lessa's measurements. "We must dazzle our good Queen and her guests with our combined beauty."
Well wasn't this all la-di-dah? the last few weeks had been a whirlwind for Lessa in her personal life. She had met a Heroic Templar that turned out to be her father, her mother...best left alone that one, needless to say that did not go as planned and Lessa doubted she would ever have anything to do with the woman again. Then to top it all off she met her grandparents, who turned out to be minor nobles in Gwaren and, for whatever reason they had gifted her this dress. 

Lessa had never worn a dress in her life, well not since she was a little girl and certainly nothing on this grand scale. It was a dark green short sleeved gown that accented her figure perfectly. Looking in the full length mirror Lessa had almost forgotten she had curves. The dresser that was with her smiled at the young woman as Lessa admired the cut more and the fact the neckline plunged a little left no one in any doubt she was a woman. 

"Wow i have a cleavage." She muttered making the lady with her snigger. 

"Just one more thing." The woman fussed and for a few moments prodded and floofed Lessa's hair until it sat loosely around her shoulders framing her face in ways she had never thought about before. For the first time in a long time she actually felt feminine. "There, perfect." 

"Thankyou," Lessa looked at her and picked up her pendant. the lady tsked and taking the pendant put it around the young ladies neck so that it sat in the crevice of her cleavage. 

Glancing down at her shoes, beautiful shoes with tapered toes and slightly higher than she would normally wear although she had taken some practise getting used to them, they were white to keep the fresh summer look of her dress. 


"Lessa, it is time!" She heard Avos at the door "We must dazzle our good Queen and her guests with our combined beauty."

Lessa walked over and opened the door "Will this do? we mustn't outshine the Queen dear Avos, but everyone else i am sure we can make them faint?
To Avos' summons, Lessa appeared in a beautiful green dress which emphasised her curves. "Will this do? we mustn't outshine the Queen dear Avos, but everyone else i am sure we can make them faint?"

"Outshining the Queen is precisely what we must aim to do," Avos corrected the young woman, laughter infusing his voice. "When the people do not vie to best you, you no longer hold their attention. I am certain that Her Majesty would rather be outshone than disregarded."

Dismissing the matter of politics momentarily, Avos indicated with a twirl of his finger that Lessa should pirouette, allowing him to admire the beauty of her entire appearance in full. "Perfection," he enthused, delighted with the company of his companion. He had only met her a day or so ago when she had arrived at the Denerim compound, seeking a place to rest and resupply. It had also provided Avos with the opportunity to secure a suitable partner to this Summersday ball; he was rather short of options in the compound, surrounded as he was by unsmiling warriors and gruff rogues. Really, he should petition the Warden-Commander to source more genial Wardens. Ones who appreciated the excitement of attending a party at which it was almost certain they would receive a dagger in the back! What was life for, if not to take such heady risks?

Suitably attired, Avos led the way through the Palace. In the Imperium, there would be countless ceremonies to stand upon, but here in Ferelden, what passed for 'ceremony' was barely worthy of mention. Even Orlais' pretence at ceremony was barely competent. So it was that while they were formally announced into the large hall where Queen Anora gathered her nobles for their delightful little Landmeet gatherings, it was not with any pomp and circumstance to which Avos was accustomed.

Still, he cast a glance towards his companion. "I am to be your guide tonight if you should wish it," he declared, gesturing grandly with his staff. A few people shot him dark looks, as if merely holding a staff would tear the Veil in two. He did so laugh at these delightfully ignorant people. "What questions do you have?"
"Outshining the Queen is precisely what we must aim to do,When the people do not vie to best you, you no longer hold their attention. I am certain that Her Majesty would rather be outshone than disregarded." Avos corrected her with a laugh, and despite it all she found herself chuckling along with him. 

That was certainly true enough Anora really didn't like the idea of being discarded, her moves to secure the throne for herself proved that. Lessa was still new to this and it showed when she walked into the gathering with Avos, her hand lightly on his arm. As they swept through the room she noticed the looks they both got Avos got some dagger looks but she supposed that was more to do with him being from Tevinter more than him being a mage, still it could have been both, what did she know? She was intelligent but she didn't put a lot of stock in what the hierarchy was, it didn't matter to her anymore. 

"Thats the Silvestries granddaughter." One woman whispered as Lessa walked past. 

"Really? i didn't know they had any?" Another replied. 

"I am to be your guide tonight if you should wish it," he declared, gesturing grandly with his staff.  "What questions do you have?"

Lessa was looking over at the two women who had seemed to delight in her bloodline, as far as she was aware her grandparents were nothing big in the noble stakes but they did own a fair swathe of land. Well whatever rocked thier boat she supposed, she gave them a light smile and returned her attention to Avos, and ignored the looks some of the young bucks gave her, or probably to be more precise, looking at her chest more than her face. 

"Are they always so gossipy? I didn't think my grandparents warranted such notice." She asked Avos in a lowered tone "and i don't have to bow or curtsey to the Queen do i? If i do that this dress might rip. or i might poke her eyes out, this dress is...showy

One of the younger men came up and clearing his throat inclined his head and asked Lessa if she would like to take a walk around the room with him. Lessa glanced at Avos and taking the wine glass offered her she followed his gaze and heaved a sigh and with a perfectly timed cutting remark said "Um my face is here, not there, and no thankyou, i am already in good company.

She sipped her wine and looked around the room more, she was going to find somewhere to stand away from this crowd when a figure caught her eye. At first she was not completely sure if she had seen who she thought she had, after all the last time they met, the other woman certainly was not dressed like that. 

"Avos" she whispered "Is...is that Leliana?


Not answering his question immediately, Lessa appeared to be intrigued by some of the other guests, sharing gossip as two thirsty travellers might share a full water skin. Finally, she looked back to him.

"Are they always so gossipy? I didn't think my grandparents warranted such notice."

He shrugged in a grandly careless manner. He had no idea of her lineage and considered it irrelevant given her status as a Grey Warden. "Likely not, but who knows when such a detail might pay off?"

Another thought suddenly struck the young woman. "And i don't have to bow or curtsey to the Queen do i? If i do that this dress might rip. or i might poke her eyes out, this dress is...showy."

An observation borne out by the courageous advance of a young man, enquiring as to whether Lessa would accompany him on a round of the room. Yet with a sidelong glance towards Avos and a lift of a wine glass, Lessa dismissed the poor dolt with a breezy putdown. "Um my face is here, not there, and no thankyou, i am already in good company."

Since Avos made a point not to meddle in the decisions of his acquaintances, he merely tipped his wine glass to the young man in recognition of his courage as well as commiseration at his defeat. At least the young man took the rejection gamely, giving a little bow before disappearing into the crowd.

Yet before Avos could comment to Lessa, something else caught her eye. "Avos," her voice had dropped to an awed hush. "Is...is that Leliana?"

With a casual glance, Avos followed the line of her gaze, noting the beauty of the famed Sister Nightingale. He admired the woman greatly: there was a calculating cunning within her which was almost Tevene. Alas, she had committed herself to the Orlesian Chantry, but that was but a trifling detail. Fervour, like the once Golden City, could always be tarnished.

"It is," he confirmed, his voice reflecting his high regard for the woman. "I imagine the Grand Cleric is quite vexed to have her presence overshadowed by the Left Hand of the Divine herself."

His words almost acted as a summons, though Avos held no talent for that kind of magic. He also doubted that the likes of Leliana was not somehow protected against such villainy as malicious casting. 

Within mere moments however, Leliana stepped from the crowds, as radiant and warm as the symbolic sunburst which decorated the throne of her Divine. Somehow, she had succeeded in turning what Avos often regarded as dowdy Fereldan attire into something verging on stylish, accented here and there with an artfully placed ribbon, and accompanied with a pair of simply breath-taking shoes. 

"What a darling couple you make!" she greeted them, clasping her hands together in open delight. While her manner was effusive and natural, Avos recognised - and appreciated - the ways in which Leliana was controlling her immediate environment, choosing what to draw attention and what to obscure. The real skill was that Avos had no idea of the details beyond an awareness that it was happening, and even that was only due to his experience of the Imperium. Truly, she was a marvel.

Turning to Lessa, she leaned forward to brush a delicate kiss on each side of the young woman's cheeks. "A pleasure to see you once more," she remarked. "I was pleased to hear that you had found the answers you sought." To what that referred, Avos did not know but that was likely deliberate.

"And you, Warden Avos," she turned, eyes sparkling. "Her Majesty speaks often of your counsel."

"A counsel rarely sought but freely given," Avos declared breezily. Anora did her best to dismiss the relevance of the Grey Wardens within Ferelden; Avos did his best to emphasise their relevance. It was an on-going tussle.


Leliana's code: 48c2f1
"It is," he confirmed, his voice reflecting his high regard for the woman. "I imagine the Grand Cleric is quite vexed to have her presence overshadowed by the Left Hand of the Divine herself."


Lessa covered the snigger with another sip of wine. She wasn't use to such grandeous occassions as this, but she was certain that Avos was correct. No Grand Cleric ever liked to be overshadowed, they always seemed to like to exude thier authority with thier own charisma or lack of it, either way they seemed to revel in thier position as being the only ones who could send someones soul to the Maker. To have someone like the Left Hand here would indeed the vex the woman. 

"Imagine what it would be for her if the Right Hand was here too." Lessa swallowed the choking laughter that threatened to erupt from her throat. Almost as if by magic the Left Hand made her way towards them, did that woman have bat hearing or something? 

"What a darling couple you make!" Leliana greeted them, clasping her hands together in open delight. 

Although the greeting was genuine enough  Lessa, whilst not versed in Orleasian Politics or anything was pretty sure that the woman before her had more tricks up her sleeve then the Court Jester. The young Warden saw the withering looks the Grand Cleric threw in thier direction. Could it be that she was jealous that the Left Hand was mingling with the Wardens and not with her? Lessa didn't know Leliana well, aside from one meeting in the dead of night outside Dragon peaks, but she was trying to work out of this was deliberate or just that Leliana didn't play those types of games? Then she thought if she thought about it more it might split her head open.


Turning to Lessa, she leaned forward to brush a delicate kiss on each side of the young woman's cheeks. Lessa's eyes widened a moment then she did the same, ok this was...unexpected.  "A pleasure to see you once more," she remarked. "I was pleased to hear that you had found the answers you sought." 

How in the name of the Maker did she know? "Likewise Leliana." She replied. 

"And you, Warden Avos," she turned, addressing Avos as if she was no more than talking in a summer salon. "Her Majesty speaks often of your counsel."



"A counsel rarely sought but freely given,

Lessa had worked out that in the years following the Blight, and with the disappearance of the Hero, the Queen had, conveniently forgotten that she only kept her throne because of the Wardens. If you listened to the gossips in the keep that is. Fortunately the gossips, were right so she gave Avos an amused smirk, the Queen would not sought his counsel but Lessa was sure the Tevene would give it, wether she wanted it or not. 

"So, what brings the fabled Leliana to the Royal Court?" Lessa asked hoping to the Maker she didn't look too out of place here. "Nice Shoes.



After the obligatory greetings, Alessandra offered something which was very rare: a direct question. "So, what brings the fabled Leliana to the Royal Court?" Leliana simply smiled, allowing the young woman's imagination to provide the answers. It was much more fun, no? Evidently Alessandra realised the futility of her question because she then remarked, "Nice shoes."

A musical laugh spilled from Leliana, eyes shining. Never requiring much excuse to discuss shoes, she lifted her skirts just enough so that she could show-off her most recent prize, moving her ankle side-to-side to emphasise the exquisite decoration across the leather. "I could not resist," she confided to the pair, leaning forward as though imparting the greatest of secrets. "It is Summerday. Joy can be found through many different means, no?"

"Certainly!" Avos approved, even as his gaze raked over the crowds nearby. Over the shoulder of the Left Hand, he caught sight of a nobleman with whom he had been petitioning with regards trade agreements for the Grey Wardens, red-cheeked with drink and openly gawping at the high company in which Avos had unexpectedly found himself. Sensing an opportunity, Avos bowed to the two women, making his excuses for the moment.

"It is to be just us then," Leliana threaded her arm lightly through that of Alessandra. "Shall we walk?" She led the other woman through the throngs of people, out into the grounds of the Palace. The air was balmy with the warmth of summer but even here the celebrations continued. Musicians, entertainers and guests mingled together, creating a pleasurable ambiance.

"I recall my first time attending so formal a function." She glanced towards her young companion, sudden mischief sparkling in her eyes. "I do believe I stole a letter from the hosts. It contained quite the scandal."

A musical laugh spilled from Leliana, eyes shining  she lifted her skirts just enough so that she could show-off her most recent prize, moving her ankle side-to-side to emphasise the exquisite decoration across the leather. "I could not resist," Leaning towards them as if it was the biggest secret in the world to share "It is Summerday. Joy can be found through many different means, no?"

Well that was true enough, and mirroring the woman before her Lessa showed off her own shoes, which compared to Leliana's seemed plain now, and Lessa was not used to such fancy footwear, so when they had arrived that morning for her all boxed with her dress and a card attached from her grandparents she had spent hours learning to walk in them. 

"Indeed." was all Lessa could think of saying. 

Avos excused himself and Lessa found herself steered gently away from the main throng. Good thing too all those glares from the Grand Cleric was starting to make her twitch and think that she might need to go confess something of value to the woman. 

"It is to be just us then," Lessa felt Leliana's hand thread through hers "Shall we walk?

Now being out here she could appreciate, the music, the dancing although to be honest she preferred the celebrations in the Market District more than the Royal gala. Lessa closed her eyes for a moment and allowed the smells to wash over her and if she turned her head in a certain direction she was certain she could smell the succulent aroma of roast pig coming from the market district. It was one of the only times the Revered Mother ever let them stay up late and have a chaotic few hours and the memory, old as it was made a light smile come to her lips. 


"I recall my first time attending so formal a function I do believe I stole a letter from the hosts. It contained quite the scandal."


Lessa choked on the wine she had just about swallowed and coughed a little bit she set her glass down and picked up a napkin wiping the spilled droplets from her chest and saw the mischievous glint in Leliana's eyes. She chuckled a little and nodded "I can believe it Mistress." Lessa replied respectfully "I don't know why but i can.

Alessandra picked her wine up again and finished it before setting it on a passing waiters tray and taking two, handing one to Leliana and setting her second on a table by the side of her. 

"I er, i am glad you are here. I wanted to thankyou and i am not sure how to reach you, I could have asked Alistair i suppose but well it didn't seem right." Lessa glanced down at her pendant "I met my father and i will be seeing him in a few weeks here in Denerim so we can, bond i suppose the word is. My mother well it wasn't quite how you painted it but i got my answers. Thankyou." 

Now that was said Alessandra turned her attention to the matter at hand. the party. There were so many people here, some she recognised from her days as a guard, some she had even met when their younger offspring had done required service before jumping onto whatever mater and pater had planned for them. She still had no clue as to why Avos insisted she come along, still Lessa was glad he did. 

"Want to play a game?" She suddenly asked and explained the rules. They would pick a person any person and come up with some outlandish reason why they were here. It didnt have to be true but it sure as heck beat all the upturned noses and haughty voices. Some woman caught Lessa's eye and she watched her for a moment then started "That lady there?  She secretly has a dungeon full of things that brings her lovers great joy, she might look like a lady of high standing but come the night when all is still, she takes her lover, be they male, female, human, elf, noble or lowborn and introduces them to her garden of pleasure and pain. By day she is a respected member of the Landsmeet, but by night she becomes something else and shes hunting.

In reality she was probably just low ranked noble but sometimes the imagination could run riot and fun could be had from it. Lessa lifted a shoulder in a shrug it certainly made her night pass by. 




Her revelation provoked quite the response from her companion. Spluttering on her mouthful of wine, Alessandra set down the glass and had to pick up a nearby cloth napkin, dabbing away any evidence of her shock from the fabric of her dress.

Only when she caught Leliana's eye did she let loose a soft chuckle. "I can believe it Mistress." With a gentle shake of her head, Leliana waved away any need for titles, content that they use their first names with one another. "I don't know why but i can."

Leliana arched a brow. "You have not heard that I was once a Bard?" Rumours ran rife throughout Thedas. That it was the truth, Leliana neither confirmed or denied, but she knew the detail was widely spoken and repeated.

Perhaps offering an answer in her silence, Alessandra took up her glass again and finished the contents. When a server passed by, she replaced the one glass with two, offering Leliana the second. 

"I er, i am glad you are here. I wanted to thankyou and i am not sure how to reach you, I could have asked Alistair i suppose but well it didn't seem right." No, it would not have been right, but Leliana welcomed the acknowledgement that Alessandra had sensed as much. She offered a warm smile to encourage the woman who spared a glance for her striking pendant. "I met my father and i will be seeing him in a few weeks here in Denerim so we can, bond i suppose the word is. My mother well it wasn't quite how you painted it but i got my answers. Thankyou."

That Leliana had 'painted' anything was entirely down to individual interpretation. Yet she did not argue the point and only nodded, accepting the gratitude of the young woman. "You are welcome."

Her eye drawn to the variety of guests in attendance, Alessandra changed topic. "Want to play a game?" The rules were straight-forward and Leliana laughed in delight, nodding in easy agreement.

Alessandra went first. "That lady there? She secretly has a dungeon full of things that brings her lovers great joy, she might look like a lady of high standing but come the night when all is still, she takes her lover, be they male, female, human, elf, noble or lowborn and introduces them to her garden of pleasure and pain. By day she is a respected member of the Landsmeet, but by night she becomes something else and shes hunting." She lifted her shoulder in a carefree shrug.

"If you are to play this game, Alessandra, you must do so with the eye of a Bard," Leliana tutted, drawing closer so that they both examine the woman from the same angle. "A dungeon would require a significant estate, usually that of an Arlessa at least. We know that she does not hold that title. So, if what you say is true, how might she have access to a secluded place like a dungeon?" If the young woman was as astute as Leliana believed her to be, she would look closer and notice that the woman wore boots, high-quality but practical. Her 'dungeon' did not lie in her own estate, but elsewhere. Somewhere that required she walked. Perhaps she was not alone in her hunt...
Lesa nodded at Leliana's words. The boots were indeed high born, more than any commoner could afford and yet there was a practicality to them. Enough to signify her wealth but also comfortable for her to walk a distance from wherever this imaginary dungeon would be, and lets face it, in Denerim that could be anywhere who knew what the nobles got upto when thier doors were shut, but before she could answer her attention was drawn to the same woman, but this time also the man that came up to her. 

He was nothing much to look at, smartly dressed, pencil thin brown moustache on his top lip. Honestly if men were going to grow moustaches. at least have one like Stroud, now that man could be called King of Moustache growers. He was dressed like a Valet, and she might not have paid it much more attention, except he passed this woman something. What she couldn't tell but she was passed something. 

"She might be high born. she might not." Lessa spoke "but one does not accept notes from a Valet that are handed with fingers touching." 

She supposed it might be a love note but then that might be too obvious and something just crowed at her brain and it wasn't the faint song that was a constant in her brain. She arched an eyebrow as the woman read the slip of paper and she almost snorted as the woman stuck it down her top, oh how Orleasian. 

"I would like to carry on this little game." Lessa sighed "but, seeing with the eyes of a bard through which i have no idea, but my dog lord curiosity tells me that something bizarre is going on there." She motioned her head "i have no doubt that if a high born fancies the look of one of the servants they do something, but not in public." That would just not do, and her years as a guard had made sure she kept more than a few secrets, Maker if Lessa let loose some of the secrets she kept in her head, that could cause untold problems here and there. "and i don't think he is a valet," lessa watched him for a bit "He looks out of place, awkward, almost as if he does not want to be here." She arched an eyebrow "Or am i completely off kilter here?

Into their game entered another player: a smartly-dressed valet, who sought to distract from his relative youth by attempting to grow a moustache. With a discreet slip of his wrist, he passed the woman a folded note. 

"She might be high born. she might not," Lessa observed, "but one does not accept notes from a Valet that are handed with fingers touching."

Leliana hummed lightly beneath her breath. She did wholly agree, particularly given the conventions within Ferelden, but neither did she think that Lessa was entirely wrong in her evaluation. That the woman had accepted a note in so clandestine a manner was definitely strange. What was more so was how the woman hid the letter. There was no guile whatsoever to pushing it beneath the tight neckline of her dress.

"I would like to carry on this little game," Lessa offered with a sigh, "but, seeing with the eyes of a bard through which i have no idea, but my dog lord curiosity tells me that something bizarre is going on there." She gave a slight nod of her head. "I have no doubt that if a high born fancies the look of one of the servants they do something, but not in public."

"So what do you deduce about his identity?" Leliana gently guided the woman through her deductions.

"And i don't think he is a valet." She watched the pair for a few moments more. "He looks out of place, awkward, almost as if he does not want to be here." Lifting a brow, she glanced towards Leliana. "Or am i completely off kilter here?"

A dazzling smile decorated Leliana's face and her eyes sparkled. "He is not a valet," she confirmed. "Though neither is he a lover." She took a sip of the wine from her glass. "It is her nephew." Perhaps it was unfair for Leliana to reveal that she had already known the identity of the woman, but she would have still been able to work out certain connections. "Look at how they interact. He defers to her but as as someone who outranks him. He is too comfortable with her even as he is uncomfortable with the situation.

Her smile softened, deliberately turning away so that their interest in the pair was not caught by any onlooker. "His grandfather wrote out his mother from his inheritance. Her sister - the woman we see - has kept in touch throughout the years. Since the grandfather has never met the nephew, it is straightforward to use him as an intermediary, but, as you have observed, this," she gestured with her half-empty glass to the grandeur of the Palace, "is not what the son of a farmhand is accustomed." Lifting one shoulder in a elegant shrug, she added, "he is a delightful young man, though. His grandfather does not realise the loss he suffers for not knowing him."

"What visions of beauty I see before me!" Avos' voice drew their combined attention as he glided through the crowd. He bowed towards them as if he had not only parted from their company a short while ago. "What have I missed?"
Lessa saw the big beaming smile and the eye sparkle before Leliana spoke. "He is not a valet,"

aha knew it 

"Though neither is he a lover.

how the hell did she know that? 

"It is her nephew." Lessa blinked a couple of times stunned as Leliana just dropped it into the conversastion behind a sip of wine, all casual like.  "Look at how they interact. He defers to her but as as someone who outranks him. He is too comfortable with her even as he is uncomfortable with the situation." she turned away less thier conversastion garner more attention and continued her explanation. "His grandfather wrote out his mother from his inheritance. Her sister - the woman we see - has kept in touch throughout the years. Since the grandfather has never met the nephew, it is straightforward to use him as an intermediary, but, as you have observed, this," a gesture around thier surroundings to emphasis her point. "is not what the son of a farmhand is accustomed." shrugging slightly she added "he is a delightful young man, though. His grandfather does not realise the loss he suffers for not knowing him."


Lessa opened her mouth then shut it and with a rueful shake of her head she uttered a soft laugh "You are too good at this Sister." She clinked her glass against Leliana's "Way too good. Poor sod i know how he feels somewhat.

She turned as Avos's voice singed into her attention and laughed a little at the way he seemingly floated into their company.  "What visions of beauty I see before me!"

"The keeps resident charmer is back" She smirked good naturedly. When Lessa did smile it lit up her whole face, she hadn't felt like smiling lately but tonight she just couldn't help it.

"What have I missed?" Avos asked as smooth as you like. 

"Oh Leliana here was teaching me the finer points of seeing the reality behind the mask." She inclined her head a little "Why what you been upto smooth talker?

Lessa looked up at the crowd and caught the eye of the young man who was now staring at her. She cleared her throat and shifted a little uncomfortably herself that was it, she must have had a sign on her forehead that said I am tainty come say hello, she brushed the pendant with her fingers as she was want to do when she was nervous or uncomfortable and inclined her head a little in polite greeting. Cause thats what they did at these things right? draining her glass she looked around. 

"Wheres the food?" Yup the one great thing about being a Grey Warden, you could stuff your face silly with all the fat inducing food and not even put an ounce on. Marvelous really.

Lessa didn't miss the looks from a couple of the other nobles and she frowned a little, the two men were of lesser rank, probably lord or baron maybe she could never tell, but they were not Bann's most of the Ferelden Banns were here and most people knew what they looked like. It wasn't so much the looks they gave her, she was used to it it was more how they shifted and kept glancing at the water clock as if, well as if waiting for something or someone. 

Now with thier furtive behaviour the former guard she had been kicked in and they had her full attention now. Her brain racking up all the faces she had seen over the years and her brow furrowed more. "Looks like they got let out of Draken early." She muttered to her companions "Paol Deneris and Viktor Belmarsh, two sycophants of the former Arl of Denerim. The Queen had them arrested for the unrest they caused in the Alienage and thier fathers couldn't get them out of that trouble. They also sided with Arl Howe during the civil war so Teryn Cousland made it plain what he wanted done with them." The truth was it was probably the Teryns words that got them thrown in Drakons rather than what pain they had inflicted on the Alienage Elves "They are up to something.
"Oh Leliana here was teaching me the finer points of seeing the reality behind the mask," Less explained with a reverential tilt of her head to the other woman. She looked back to Avos. "Why what you been upto smooth talker?"

"Only what a Grey Warden liaison must!" Avos replied airly. In fact, he had succeeded in turning the amazement of the nobleman over his esteemed company to the Order's advantage, securing an initial trade agreement which promised dividends once a reciprocal trust had been established. 

But Lessa seemed to be distracted, her attention caught by something to the left of Avos. She offered whoever it was a slight nod, her fingers playing once more with the pendant she wore. 

"Wheres the food?" she blurted out. Both of her companions chuckled, familiar through different means with the ever-present gnawing hunger of the Grey Wardens.

Yet before either of them could reply, it seemed that Lessa's attention was ensnared once more. A flicker of a frown crinkled her brow. "Looks like they got let out of Draken early," she muttered at last, drawing Avos and Leliana into her confidence. "Paol Deneris and Viktor Belmarsh, two sycophants of the former Arl of Denerim. The Queen," how delightful that Lessa spoke of Anora as a personal acquaintance! Avos would never tire of the idiosyncrasies of this little backwater country, "had them arrested for the unrest they caused in the Alienage and thier fathers couldn't get them out of that trouble. They also sided with Arl Howe during the civil war so Teryn Cousland," and again! Just marvellous. "Made it plain what he wanted done with them. They are up to something."

With a small smile, Leliana softly bid her goodbyes, slipping away from the pair of Grey Wardens. It made sense: the Left Hand of the Divine could not be seen to interfere in matters that were not under the purview of the Divine. However, it was impossible to think that Leliana would not, in some way, monitor their actions and the subsequent outcome. If there was to be an outcome at all.

"Undoubtedly," Avos agreed at once. He had yet to turn and study the two in question, but he did not wish to draw attention given how hard Lessa was already staring at them. He did, however, trust to her instincts. "Yet the question we must ask ourselves, my darling Lessa: to what extent is it our concern?"

He indicated not only the rows of Queen's Guard but also Denerim City Guard throughout the space. "Whatever you were once, you are no longer. It is your duty to report such suspicions, not act upon them." Anticipating a flash of temper, Avos lifted his hand to quell it, or at least stem it. "You may tell me of your loyalty to your country or to the greater good or whatever you may wish. Alas, it will not validate your actions and you will suffer whatever punishment is deemed suitable for your interference."

Nevertheless, his eyes sparked with excitement. What a jape this all was! "However, if you can suggest a course of action whereby we... what is the expression? Give them enough rope to hang themselves, is that the one?... then perhaps there is something we can do which pacifies your sense of duty and my necessary neutrality."
Lessa tilted her head in a goodbye to Leliana and turned to face Avos, who at first seemed to come down on her observation. 

"Undoubtedly," Avos agreed and added. "Yet the question we must ask ourselves, my darling Lessa: to what extent is it our concern?"



She saw him motion to the rows of Royal Guard and, some of the city guard She heaved a heavy sigh as he somewhat stated the obvious. "Whatever you were once, you are no longer. It is your duty to report such suspicions, not act upon them." Lessa didn't even have time to respond because he cut her off before she could even voice an objection, "You may tell me of your loyalty to your country or to the greater good or whatever you may wish. Alas, it will not validate your actions and you will suffer whatever punishment is deemed suitable for your interference."


She muttered something truly unladylike under her breath and massaged the bridge of her nose with her thumb and forefingers. However it seemed that Avos did have enough of mischief in him that he was prepared to see this through.   "However, if you can suggest a course of action whereby we... what is the expression? Give them enough rope to hang themselves, is that the one?... then perhaps there is something we can do which pacifies your sense of duty and my necessary neutrality."

"More like both our neutrality" She muttered "but i see your point." 

Avos wasn't wrong. he needed to be neutral for, well the most obvious of reason. court advisor and all that, and they were both Grey Wardens, so the puzzle was, how to act without being seen to act. Lessa looked around frowned deeply until after a moment her eyes lit up "Avos shall we dance?" She indicated the dance floor which happened to be where the two lords were standing "I mean, i just have to dance here and we may just make them act to, as you say, give them enough room to hang themselves." She gave him a half smile "worst case they reveal themselves, less worst case, they decide its a bad idea and walk away? So shall we Ser Mage?
"More like both our neutrality," Lessa acknowledged under duress, "but i see your point."

Excellent! Avos did not wish to quarrel with his newest companion over so trifling a detail.

Heeding his words, Lessa glanced around, her brow furrowing to such an extent that Avos worried for her good looks. What a travesty to ruin such a lovely canvas with deep gouges! Yet he need not have concerned himself. Within another moment, her eyes glinted with possibility, easing the lines across her forehead.

"Avos shall we dance?" With an elegant wave of her hand, she motioned towards the open space within the centre of the large room. It was also where, quite coincidentally, the men she had identified now stood. "I mean, i just have to dance here and we may just make them act to, as you say, give them enough room to hang themselves." A half smile graced her lips. "worst case they reveal themselves, less worst case, they decide its a bad idea and walk away? So shall we Ser Mage?"

"But of course!" Sweeping into a low bow, Avos asked for Lessa's hand, leading them onto the floor. Then, with a little wiggle of his fingers, he gilded the edges of his robes and Lessa's dress with flickering flame. As they spun around the floor, they left a harmless burning trail through the air, though it drew audible gasps from the crowd. No doubt a messenger had been ordered straight with the greatest of urgency to the Chantry to summon an entire regiment of Templars. What a lark!

It also served to distract the attention of the two men whom Lessa had identified. They gawked in disbelief at so blatant a display of magic (as if it was even any effort!). So much so, that they did not notice the elf who slipped in from a side entrance, presumably a servant's door. They were dressed as a servant but their demeanour did not match their disguise.

"My dear Lessa," Avos remarked, obligingly twirling her so that she might glimpse what he had seen, "I suspect that those two men may be about to face consequences of their actions." After all, if they had caused unrest within the Alienage, it was unlikely that any of the Alienage elves would agree to assist them. So unless this elf cared nothing of their own kind - unusual, but not uncommon - it was more likely that the men were about to be the victims of a backfired plan.