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Old September 23, 2010, 11:43 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Catching up [Aetheria Restaurant] (Private Niven)

TS: 31st of Tempris Era XVII Post Fractum

Dante was wearing his best, which in his mind meant a freshly cleaned and pressed robe of Diana complete with triangle. Of course the dracon was always armed with his daggers and armor underneath said robes. He also had his good luck medallion and arcane ring as well, but he left his crossbows at home. The was supposed to be a special night, well at least a pleasant one.

He had received word from Niven regarding her and Jirael's travels and apparently the boy had impressed someone enough to receive a thanal appointment and mentioned that she was going to be traveling again after she had settled him in. Dante sent word to her that he would be in Diana after the 30th of Tempris and asked if she wouldn't come and pay him a visit. He specifically mentioned having dinner together on the 31st at his restaurant. He wasn't sure if she would show up, but if nothing else his chef was one of the best in the city so at least he would have a great meal.

Arriving early he greeted his restaurant staff, all of them by name, and instructed the hostess that he would need a table for two this evening. This drew some interested looks from the staff in ear shot considering they all knew what had transpired months ago with Hatorania combined with the fact that Dante had shown no romantic interest in anyone since then. It wasn't their place to question so none of them really brought it up, but Dante could tell they were apprehensive about something so stated as if speaking only to the hostess, but loud enough for the staff nearby to overhear, "A good friend of mine is supposed to meet me here. We were going to catch up on old times."

The hostess smiled almost sympathetically, "Of course sir. The best table of course." She laid him to his regular table and brought out some non-alcoholic sparkling fruit juice for him. "Anything to eat while you are waiting?"

Dante shook his head slightly, "No not yet. I'll wait until my friend arrives."
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Old September 25, 2010, 08:34 PM   #2 (permalink)
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oocsee CIR for pic of dress

It had been a busy few months for Niven. First the travels to New Coldmoon with Jirael and then learning the boy was to be Thane of the city! Niven was proud of her young friend and graciously accepted when he'd asked her to stay and assist him a while. But Niven grew restless being in one place for such a long time and was more pleased than she'd admit to receive and invitation back to Diana from Dante. She was sad to leave Jirael, and he to see her go, but it was time.

Taking great care to prepare herself for the evening, as she expected the dress code of Dante's restaurant to be considerably nicer than the common tavern, Niven chose one of her best silk gowns, one she'd picked up recently and one that her friend would not have seen. She was unsure of how he was doing since his thwarted wedding and wanted nothing to remind him of the day, not even the dress she wore. The eggplant colour of this one was very flattering on Niven and she felt quite pretty in it. She took great care to arrange her long sun-kissed blond hair into an elegant up do and the combination of both dress and hair made her look exceptionally handsome. The jewel studded dagger was fashioned to her hip as her bow would be left behind and it was unwise to walk about anywhere completely unarmed. The dagger and sheath were exquisite and therefore would not seem completely out of place on her outfit. She winked at Juno as she draped her cloak over her shoulders and fastened it. "Be good," she told him, and as soon as the door shut behind her, he would jump onto the bed and lay down for a nap.

With great ease Niven navigated the streets of the beautiful city and soon found herself entering the chic restaurant. "Serale," she said to the hostess, giving her a bright smile, "I am supposed to be meeting my friend, Dante Asunder. Can you tell me has he arrived?"
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Old September 26, 2010, 11:09 PM   #3 (permalink)
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The eyes of the hostess nearly popped out of the unfortunate girl's head. Looking Niven up and down, it was obvious from the woman's expression that not only was she impressed, but that something else was running through the girl's mind as well, something difficult to put a finger on. Recovering she curtsied, "Of course my lady. Earl Asunder's table is right this way."

The girl then moved to direct Niven to the table in question. The restaurant was lively as many people had come to eat. Dante's ingenuity at hiring elementalists to keep his catch frozen while making the four brightening up river trip from the sea had enabled the people of the city to finally enjoy some fresh seafood. That was the nice thing about arcane frost, no freezer burn.

Of course Dante wasn't one to discriminate between classes or any other designation for that matter, but because the dracon had hired a master chef, several sous chefs of considerable skill as well, plus entertainment, security, and lavish accommodations; the prices of this restaurant tended to discourage certain economically impaired parties from exploiting it. Of course Dante had a distribution warehouse as well, so those who wished to cook the food themselves would have a cheaper way to access the delicacies of the sea.

Be that as it may and in spite of the fact that it took only seconds for Niven to reach Dante's table, unless she detoured of course, she turned every man's and most of the women's heads as she made her way across the floor. Dante immediately rose from his chair as any gentleman should when a lady was approaching. The dracon's eyes widened and once again Dante was grateful to Diana for blessing him with opaque black scales. The crimson shade the dracon would have been blushing would have embarrassed him to no end. Although by no measure did the dracon look a scrounge, next to Niven in her elegant gown and a looking a beauty to rival Diana herself, the dracon once again felt like the awkward the street urchin pauper of his youth.

Over the din of the surrounding conversations and the noises from the kitchen that occasionally grew louder as a server walked through the swinging door to deliver someone's meal, Niven heard clear as crystal Dante state, "Niven you look breathtaking."

Realizing she had heard him, it was impossible not to tell that the dracon was suddenly embarrassed. Recovering and trying to act normal Dante immediately moved to help Niven with her seat. In truth had he known she was going to cause a mass epidemic of whiplash he would have suggested meeting her at her hotel. He was surprised she wasn't accosted in the streets, but of course this wasn't Jaedaxia.

Once she was seated Dante again took his and the hostess gave them both a bright contagious smile. In fact Niven would notice that nearly all the staff that was in the dining room at that moment seemed distracted by her present and were all wearing a similar happy grin. The kind you wear when someone you think highly of is happy themselves.

"What to drink mi'lord and lady?" queried the hostess of the pair.

Dante was tempted to order a fine wine, but he didn't want to impair his judgment at all and accidentally do something inappropriate towards his good friends so instead replied, "I would like some of you seasonal juice. It is strawberry is it not?"

The girl looked somewhat surprised, but only said; "Indeed it is. And you my lady?"
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Old September 27, 2010, 10:44 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Not quite sure how to take the hostesses reaction to her, Niven brushed it off. It was clear the girl surprised by her, but Niven wasn't exactly sure why. Perhaps Dante had not informed the hostess that he was meeting her, though it would be out of character. As Niven followed the woman through the restaurant, she was keenly aware that there were many eyes following her. It was a bit unnerving and Niven did her best to keep composure and kept looking a head of herself, her head held high, though not so high as to make someone things she thought herself overly important.

Seeing her friend rise as she came towards him, Niven gave Dante a bright smile. It was very good to see him again and her excitement was evident on her face. He looked well, from first appearances, and that made her happy for him. She was unprepared, though, for his compliment. Maybe perhaps not so much the compliment, but by how it was delivered. A soft pink rose in her cheeks, and Niven lowered her head for moment and when it rose again, she gave Dante a small embarrassed smile. She could tell by the look on his face that he had not meant to speak his thought aloud and to put his mind at ease, she just smiled bigger and allowed him to help her into her seat.

As Dante took his seat, Niven glanced quickly around and found the employee's all looking at her and smiling. This only made Niven feel self conscious. What in the Empire had she done to attract so much attention? She looked at Dante and thought that he was dressed quite finely. She looked at the other people seated in the restaurant and some of them were dressed similarly to herself and others a little less so, so surly she didn't stand out that much!

Smiling warmly at the waitress when she arrived, Niven allowed Dante to speak first. She, too, thought it a bit odd that Dante didn't order any wine, but didn't show it. When the waitress looked at her, Niven nodded in concurrence with Dante's order. "Strawberry juice sounds lovely. I will have some as well, thank you."

As the waitress took her leave to fetch their order, Niven looked down at her hands for a moment, feeling awkward. This was not going how she'd expected. Then she looked sideways at Dante and, gathering a bit of courage, she leaned forward and whispered, "Am I overdressed?" Niven bit her bottom lip as she waited for her friends reply.
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Old September 27, 2010, 01:18 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Dante grinned at her beverage selection. It certainly was good to see her again although he felt a little bad about making her self conscious. He decided to let it go for now though and just try to enjoy the evening and try to help Niven enjoy it as well.

He looked a little surprised by her question, but it was only for a split second; "Hardly. In fact you look wonderful. I'm sorry about the staff. They all have it in their heads that I'm going to wither away and die alone now that..." he didn't speak the words. He thought he was over what had happened, but it was a tough thing to get over. After all he and Hatorania had been together for a few eras even before the debacle wedding.

Shaking his head slightly, "They've all been encouraging me to start dating again which I have been of course ignoring. I told them a good friend of mine was coming to dinner which I'm sure they thought was probably Carnasch or something. Your arrival has them believing that you and I are dating I'm sure. I'm sorry if the attention has made you uncomfortable. If you wish we can go somewhere else?"

He really did want he and Niven to have a pleasant evening and it seemed off to a rocky start. Thinking about it, Dante realized that as they were already friends and with what he did know of the woman the dracon knew he would enjoy a more personal relationship with Niven, but it was just idle speculation. After all what would the chances be that two beautiful elves would be interested in an ugly scarred dracon? He was even small for his race. The thing that really threw the priest was that Niven hadn't already needed his help in officiating at her own wedding. A sweet, attractive, brave, intelligent girl like her should have been beating the suitors off with that bow she favored so much.

"As for the other guests all I can do is repeat that you look wonderful and apparently I'm not the only one that noticed. I'm sure the noble's are all wondering which house you are affiliated with while the rest..." he shrugged leaving the rest of that sentence up in the air. No point bringing up the lustful thoughts of mortals. Dante knew full well that Niven had had first hand dealings with that already.

"Thanks for coming all this way to see me. It is nice having a friend around that also isn't an employee. It feels more sincere that way you know?" he gave her a sincere smile. He didn't worry about flashing fangs at Niven. She knew full well that he was harmless, well at least to her. "Was it a difficult trip?"
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Old September 28, 2010, 02:46 PM   #6 (permalink)
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oocOk, you left me so much to respond to, so I'm going to set it up like this, but am going to try not to make it the norm.

Dante's reply allowed Niven to relax. Her shoulders loosened and she sat straighter. She was please to find she hadn't made a large error and that the attention she was receiving wasn't completely her doing.

Quote:
"They've all been encouraging me to start dating again which I have been of course ignoring. I told them a good friend of mine was coming to dinner which I'm sure they thought was probably Carnasch or something. Your arrival has them believing that you and I are dating I'm sure. I'm sorry if the attention has made you uncomfortable. If you wish we can go somewhere else?"
Giving Dante a sympathetic smile, she reached across the table and patted his claw gently. "It's ok, you will date again when you are ready." Giving him a confident smile, she sat back in her chair.

"No, I am fine here, if you are. It was just a little unnerving to have so many people watching and not knowing why." She looked around and still caught a few other diners sneaking glances over that their table. The few she made eye contact with, she gave a bright smile and they quickly looked away. 'Ah, now you see how you have made me feel,' she thought, laughing to herself.

Quote:
"...I'm sure the noble's are all wondering which house you are affiliated with while the rest..."
Niven giggled at the thought that some of the people in the restaurant thought she might be affiliated with a noble house. She! A simple elf-girl of humble birth! Her brow furrowed as her mind drifted back to that night only a few months ago, the same as Dante's mind had. But the look only lasted a moment as she brushed the memory away.

Quote:
"Thanks for coming all this way to see me. It is nice having a friend around that also isn't an employee. It feels more sincere that way you know? ... Was it a difficult trip?"
Smiling back at Dante, matching his sincerity, Niven shrugged. "Well, I am glad to be of such service, my lord," she said, in mock formality with a wink. "Although I do remember you asking if I might wish to be in your employment... Perhaps not in so many words, but I knew what you meant." Her smile brightened even more. "I am more than honored to be considered your friend." The waitress had by now returned with their juice order and she raised her glass. "To the eras of friendship we've already had and to many many more," Niven toasted. She sipped her juice. It had a nice flavor and Niven thoroughly enjoyed it.

"No, the trip back wasn't very difficult. The three of us kept a good pace and didn't run into any trouble," Niven said, referring to her horse, Trigg, and her dog, Juno. "Honestly, I think Trigg was almost happy to be out on the road again. Juno, on the other hand, I think missed the lap of luxury he enjoyed in New Coldmoon." She laughed. What personality her animals seemed to have! "And you? What have you been doing these past few months? I feel as though I haven't seen you in eras! You unfortunately weren't in Diana when Jirael and I were getting ready to leave. I stopped by the warehouse, but they told me you were elsewhere."
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Old September 28, 2010, 09:14 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Dante's eyes met Niven's as she touched his claw. A gentle touch and a kind word from a beautiful woman. He had tried to forget or perhaps had simply had wished to forget how moving such a small act could be. With the tightening in his throat he didn't trust himself to speak so simply bobbed his head in acknowledgment and smiled.

Dante noticed Niven's turning the table's upon the other customers and grinned in spite of himself. She was spunky and it was refreshing to the dracon to have her about.

Dante laughed heartily at her recollection, "Yes that is true! I can't help if I know talent when I see it. Besides you were too wise to fall into that trap." He gave her an accompanying wink of amusement. The sad thing was it was true. who knew what would have happened to her if she had worked for him. Many of his employees had been injured... or worse... all in the course of their duty to him. It surprised him that anyone was still willing to work for him at all. Regardless he raised his glass to her toast, taking a sip in time with hers.

Dante laughed at her description of her animal's personal desires. He remembered both creatures of course and was glad that Niven had them so as to not have to travel alone. "Me? I have been trying to keep my mind occupied. I've always had to travel a great deal for work, but as it was summer I made sure my children came with me. I think they enjoy being with me and I know I'm always happier when they're around. I'm loath to think of what would had become of me if they hadn't been here to give me direction and purpose."

He took another drink, suddenly feeling like rum, but didn't give in to the temptation. Instead he apologized, "Sorry. Didn't meant to sound so melancholy." Forcing a smile he shrugged, "The fishing business is doing well. The schools are returning, people are recovering from the economic hardship of the war and the longest winter. All in all it has been an exquisite season."

"So what are your plans for the future? You have a set destination in mind or are you planning to just wander about seeing what their is to see?"

The waitress had returned and waiting for a break in the conversation asked, "Do you know what you want to eat? Or do you need some more time?" Dante hadn't even looked at a menu for he knew the standard almost by heart, but he looked inquisitively at Niven to see what she would request.
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Old October 1, 2010, 10:06 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Sensing the shift in tone, Niven sat straighter in her chair and kept her own tone light to counter Dante's saddening one. "And how are your children? I'm sure they must have enjoyed traveling with you these past months. You must miss them greatly when you are away." Niven took another sip of her juice. "I have heard so much of them that I should like to meet them someday." She smiled brightly, hoping to cheer him a bit. He did apologize, but his forced smile and lighter tone made her worry for him, but she kept those feelings hidden from her face. "It sounds like business is booming again. Life is slowly returning to the Empire," Niven remarked.

Dante then turned the tables on her. "Hmmmm..... I honestly don't know. I have no real long term plans for myself. I'm sure I will make at least another trip to New Coldmoon, to visit, but aside from that, I will, as you say, "just wander about seeing what there is to see"," Niven said, laughing as she quoted her friends words back to him. "I will follow the fates and see where they lead me. I think life is more fun that way. I feel it's important to be open to any path that comes your way. You are never sure of where one might lead you and if you are not open to it, you may miss out on some of the greatest things life has to offer." The elf took another sip of her juice. "Why, are you going to ask me to work for you again?" she teased him.

The waitress arrived then, and Niven realized she hadn't even looked at the menu. She had been too busy chatting and she'd missed talking with Dante. Nothing else had seemed important beyond their conversation. Dante seemed to be looking expectantly at her to answer first, so Niven was honest. "I haven't had a chance to look at the menu, but I'm sure my friend is more than able to recommend something for me," she said, looking at Dante. "After all, this is your restaurant."
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Old October 1, 2010, 03:20 PM   #9 (permalink)
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At the turn of conversation Dante's true smile returned, "Oh they are well! Nikki is becoming really skilled at K'tesh. I swear the girl's going to be besting me pretty soon." Grinning he continued down the line, "Nelly of course has to be the smartest child in Diana. She's already reading well above her level, although I am worried that she might be missing out on some of the socializing skills she needs. She always prefers to just sit in her room reading, although she is usually pleasant when I insist she join us for family outings."

Dante was reluctant to bring up Meeko however. Her situation was unusual and although Dante was sure Niven was familiar with the child's story, well at least most of it he had recently attempted to return her to a human form and the jury was still out on its effectiveness and the girls adaptation to it OOCI have a thread currently going regarding getting the spider girl changed back into a human hence the lack of news.

"I would love to have you meet them. How long are you going to be in Diana for? Perhaps later this cycle if that works for you?" Dante looked into her eyes, searching for sincerity. Many claimed to be interested although not all truly were. Niven of course was Dante's close friend so his search wasn't long.

Dante listened to her plans for the future. In a way he felt quite jealous. He had gone and found responsibilities. Responsibilities that now kept him tied down to locations and people. Of course he loved his children and didn't regret having them, but beyond just his immediate family there were fishermen, workers, sailors, lots of people that depended on him for employment, succor, aide and just being there to solve a problem when everyone else turned a blind eye. With a sincere smile, glad that his friend was happy, he replied; "And tie you down? I don't think so. Not that I couldn't use your talents, but limit your freedom to travel? Not on your life."

Dante grinned at her. Something about her just naturally made him feel better. He was so captivated that it took him half a second longer to answer than the waitress expected, "I think our guest here would love the chef's special and the same for myself."

Smiling with a nod, "Of course sir." The waitress turned on her heal and headed for the kitchen.
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Old October 2, 2010, 10:01 AM   #10 (permalink)
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At Dante's offer, Niven almost clapped her hands in excitement. "Oh I would love that! I have no immediate plans to leave the city any time soon." Niven couldn't stop smiling. She had quite a soft spot in her heart for children, that being clearly shown in her treatment and actions towards Jirael. But even he was becoming less and less a child and more and more a young man. Niven may not have even realized it herself, but she was already missing the boy even though she was proud of who he had become.

Smiling at Dante's comment about tying her down, Niven wondered if Dante ever missed just being himself and having the whole world at his pleasure or if being a father and a businessman was much much more rewarding than she realized and if she might be missing out on something by not settling down. Granted, Dante may not be the best example for that at this moment, her poor friend having just been left at the alter and the reasons behind that, but Niven saw that even he, once he'd healed, was open to another relationship and possibly making that commitment again to someone else. She also knew from her own family life growing up the comforts and peace that having someone to share life experiences, good and bad, with brings. Perhaps Niven would have to be more open to that path in her life. If she really thought about it, she would find that she would, indeed, like to have a family herself someday.

Allowing Dante to order for her, Niven sat back in her chair and waited for his exchange with the waitress to finish. Once she had departed, Niven gave Dante an amused smile. "Did you get an invitation from Mixie to her birthbrightening party?" If Dante had, he would understand the reasoning behind her smile. "I had no idea she was the thane of Abestat. She has climbed high dispite her... odd tenancies. I thought I might attend. A masquerade sounds like it would be fun."
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Old October 2, 2010, 10:15 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Dante smiled, "Excellent!" Scratching his chin he tilted his head to the side, "You know if your interested we have extra room at my home. That way you don't have to pay for a hotel. Of course if you are worried about propriety I'd understand."

Dante hadn't realized how down he had felt until Niven had shown up and started cheering him up. She seemed quite good at it and for the first time since the wedding he felt actually happy. He smiled sincerely to the waitress as she headed to the kitchen with their order. Dante knew that the chef was indeed one of the best in the city and it would be a meal to remember. He gave Niven a smile as well, "Your in for a treat. He is quite good."

The change of subject interested Dante. He had indeed received an invitation, but alas would be unable to attend. "I have received an invitation. Unfortunately I have pressing business elsewhere during the event. I was planning on sending her a present, but don't think I'll be able to attend."

Dante's own experience with Mixie hadn't revealed any strange tendencies, at least none he identified. Of course he was quite unfamiliar with nobility so perhaps what he passed off as eccentricities were actually strange behaviors on her part. "I've only known her since she was thane. It does sound like fun though. I'm glad you're going. Everybody should have a good friend like you with them on their birthbrightening. Have you thought of what you're costume is going to be?"
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Old October 6, 2010, 11:57 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Brightening immediately at the invitation, but quickly regaining her composure, Niven shook her head. " Oh, I couldn't possibly impose on your and your family," she said. She smiled warmly. It was very kind of him to offer, and Niven would very much have liked to stay with her friend, but she honestly didn't want to barge in on his private life.

Dante's pride in his chef made Niven giggle. "Yes, I'm sure he is. I doubt that your establishment would be so busy if he was not. I shall sit and await my meal with eager taste buds," she teased him. Niven really enjoyed how relaxed she could be around Dante. She worked very hard to try to be herself in all situations, but it was so easy to be exactly who she was with Dante. Perhaps it had a lot to do with the fact that Dante had seen her at her worst and still not judged her, making her feel safe and secure emotionally around him. That she was physically safe around him, went without saying. He'd proven that more than a time or two.

"Oh, that's such a shame!" Niven said to Dante's inability to attend Mixie's party, looking quite disappointed. She had hoped that she might know at least one other person going and perhaps go with them. Niven rarely had a problem making friends, however it was always nice to have someone to default to if the company was being less than charitable. Blushing a bit at Dante's compliment, Niven gracefully moved past it and answered his question. "I'm not sure yet. I am having a bit of trouble coming up with idea's. Do you have any suggestions?"
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Old October 6, 2010, 04:03 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Dante laughed heartily, "Impose?! My dear we have six bedrooms and only use four of them. I would be insulted if you turned down my offer." His look softened to almost a worried expression, "Please come. This is the best I've felt in a long time. I don't want that to go away." His was a sincere expression, no malice, no ulterior motive, just simple desire to spend more time with a close friend.

He laughed at her quip, "Well your taste buds won't be disappointed." He took another satisfying drink of his juice. Dante had never really thought about it too much, but yes his locale seemed to be consistently packed to capacity. It wasn't a huge place, but it had good atmosphere, great food, and a certain sense of prestige.

"The drawbacks of being a business man I'm afraid." It was rough situation. I considered the Thane of Abestat a friend, but some responsibilities came before friends... it was a painful choice to make. "I can't leave Jaedaxia unattended for long. There is an organization called the 'thorns' that require me to take active steps in protecting my investment. They've already resorted to extortion and kidnapping. I can't just leave my employees and their livelihoods to the mercies of such a group."

Dante tilted his head to the side regarding her for a moment, "Suggestions? I've seen you dressed as an adventurer and as a lovely lady suitable for the royal court..." he blushed slightly as he said this, fortunately black scales didn't turn red "...all I can say is that it is an opportunity to dress how you wish. Is there any secret fantasy you've dreamed of fulfilling? Being a knight for example or trying your hand at something darker? I was a katta pirate for carnival in Jaedaxia once. It was pretty fun." He wasn't sure if that would help the young lady make up her mind, but he hoped so. For some reason helping Niven always gave him a sense of joy.
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Old October 7, 2010, 10:39 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Smiling brightly, Niven replied, "Then I suppose I have no choice! We will join you and your family at your home just as soon as you like. I don't require much, so please don't go to too much trouble for me." Inside, Niven was tickled pink to learn that she was raising Dante's spirits. It was always welcome news to know that you made someone feel the same way you felt for them.

Nodding at Dante's assessment, Niven understood that as much as he might wish to attend, he had other obligations that needed attending to. "I remember you telling me about the 'Thorns'. I take it the situation has not improved over time as I had hoped." Again, the memories of the night she and Jirael were attacked by Dracon-haters flooded Niven's mind, but she quickly pushed them away. She was sorry for her friend that he was being so persecuted for nothing more than his race, something that couldn't possibly be helped. "I'm sure your loyal employee's are comforted and grateful for your concern for their well being and safety from these terrorists. You are a good boss and a wonderful person," Niven said, sincerely.

Thinking for a moment, Niven cocked her head. "I can't think of any secret fantasy. To be honest, I do pretty much what I like." Niven laughed outright at the mental picture of Dante as a Katta pirate. "Did you assume a different seeming, or did you go as you are?" she asked him, her curiosity peaked. "Though, a pirate doesn't sound like such a bad idea!" Niven said, after thinking about it for a moment. The costume was already forming in her mind's eye. "Thanks!" she said brightly.
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Old October 7, 2010, 08:42 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Dante grinned, "Wonderful! I shall arrange to have your things moved this darkening if you wish. As for the rest, well you'll be one of the family. Beyond that I can't promise any special treatment or the lack there of." For some people just being included in a family was special treatment enough.

"No the Thorns are still... well thorns in my side. Appropriate name for them ironically." Dante took another sip of his beverage as Niven continued to speak and nearly choked at her compliment. "[cough]... I think you give me too much credit, but thank you."

Dante grinned at her. That was one of the wonderful things about Niven. She did indeed do what she wished and it always seemed to be the right thing. She was truly an inspiring individual to the dracon. "Like I said, I was a katta. A pantera in point of fact. I still have the costume in my home in Jaedaxia." Chuckling at the idea of the 'lady' in front of him dressing as a pirate, Dante could only grin, "I'm glad I could help."

About that time the waitress returned to two steaming platters. They had a fine steak cut piece of meat, probably fish although to taste it one couldn't tell. It had a succulent taste with a hint of garlic and lime. There was a side of asparagus with a sweet cream sauce. There was also a side of potatoes au'gratin that seemed to round out the meal quite nicely. Both glasses were refilled with juice by the waitress who stated, "Please let me know if you need anything else."

"Thank you," replied Dante.
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