Old August 30, 2010, 04:26 AM   #1 (permalink)
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An Evening Walk (Ragman, private)

The 45th Brightening of Imperos, Summer, Era XVII Post Fractum

In the evening of one of the last brightenings of summer the people of Secyclion were in royal company, without realizing it. Like most of the time when he was away from Demios, the prince’s younger brother had decided to be incognito. He’d never been particularly interested in being followed by half a dozen bodyguards and telling everybody that he met that he was related to the man that ruled them all so that they would bow to him. No, he valued his privacy. He wanted to move about without people constantly questioning why he did the things he did and spying on him so that they could write about it in the Herald later on. He preferred to pretend that he was a simple tourist, a young man of some wealth that had decided to stay on the Red Island for a bit.

The suns had as good as set, but it was still hot, and thus the thane, spider rider and novice adjurator was dressed in clothes of light silk, distinctly mainlandish clothes, but not as stiffling as the things that mainlander tourists usually arrived in and of obvious quality. Having spent most of his life in cold Jaedaxia, his skin was quite pale. With his brilliant green eyes and dark hair he was a rather handsome individual. There was a definite resemblence to the prince, but it was unlikely that anybody would notice, this being Secyclion and not Aelyria Prime where most of the royal family lived. He’d left most of his things at an inn, carrying only a dagger with him, a couple of crowns and a pouch of salt in case he encountered trouble of the dead or undead variety. He was half tempted to see what the Red Island had to offer as far as the supernatural was concerned, but first he would go and see the sights.

Since it was already late, he’d opted to stay away from the Neos Megalis and the pirates for now and take a look at the Arthro Galanos first, the place where he had been told all the rich people lived. He’d stepped onto a ferry about a candlemark ago and now found himself walking along a canal, closer and closer to the center of the district, admiring the buildings around him, a pita bread filled with lamb and some kind of sweet sauce from which he took a bite every now and then in his right hand.
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Old September 2, 2010, 08:11 AM   #2 (permalink)
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The Gondolier was an elder Eunesian who clearly lacked the knowledge as to the type of passenger that he was ferrying at that particular moment.

Otherwise he may not have made several laughing comments about how pale Tristan looked, and how he ought to go out and get a tan, perhaps lay by the famous Nephele Bay in the Brightening. "Not for too long, however, Kyrio, you don't want to look like a cooked lobster." On the Red Isles, it was clear that ideals greatly differ from any other Mainland City that Tristan's travels may have brought him to.

The Darkening's coolness was a welcome respite from the scorching heat that permeated the Brightening. Secyclion it seemed, had been caught in a temporary heat wave and plenty of flesh were abound as many had chosen to shed their livery to bear the heat. The winds, when they swept across Tristan's face, was warm.

As he sailed through the beautiful pools of water that were, strangely, as the Gondolier claimed, safe for drinking even if it was surrounded by the Eunesian Ocean, the majestic buildings of the Arthro Galanos glowed a stalwart white, basked under the whispering moonlight. The City Council had taken pains to further beautify the District even since it sunk into the sea some Seasons ago, and here and there, were still vague signs of construction of barges and marinas nearing completion. Fountains, rock formations and coral reefs could be visibly seen along the canals that had used to be roads before District sunk. Rumors had ran amok for months, speaking of perhaps Markalin himself showing his disgruntle with his people, or perhaps even the prank of a rogue Enchanter who went a little too far.

Still, the Secyclionians, a resilient people, had made the best of the situation, and had opened the unusual water district to the tourists to thrall their senses.

There was a foolish man, presumably inebriated, perched upon a rock reef after having jumped into the water, trying to steal a kiss from the Nereids that were found around the island, bribing them with jewels, properties and crowns while the naked creatures merely laughed and jested, urging him to join them in the water, in which he will likely drown, given his state.

An exquisite gondola sailed past the Archduke then, bearing the most stunning of passenger. Her gondolier was singing in the language of the Eunesian people, and even if Tristan did not understand the meaning of the words, his heartbreaking tone and lament could be felt across the language barrier. The two gondolas passed each other, before the lone female passenger waved towards Tristan, flashing a smile and extending an invitation.

"Would you join me on this Darkening's sojourn, Kyrio?" She was a beautiful creature, dark of hair and skin tanned. She wore a white toga that draped around her curvaceous body; yet what captured her aesthetic beauty was her livid eyes that were the color of nutmeg. Her smile sizzled, even in the dry air and filled with womanly grace and beauty as she beckoned towards the pale Lord L'Evienne.
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Old September 4, 2010, 06:05 AM   #3 (permalink)
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As soon as the Eunesian snack was gone, he’d stepped onto a gondola, having grown a little tired of walking. Had he not been on vacation, had the circumstances been a little different, he might have been offended by the gondolier’s comment about his pale skin, but at the moment he didn’t mind and laughed with him. “That is what I’m here for, kyrio. To relax and get a tan. Jaedaxia doesn’t leave you with many opportunities to do the latter. Tomorrow I’ll visit the beach.” That was all he said before he focused his attention on the buildings that could be found besides the canal. He had never seen Arthro Galanos before it had been flooded, but he couldn’t imagine that it had been more beautiful than this here.

If he hadn’t already invested tens of thousands of crowns in Carmelyn, if he hadn’t been thane of Demios and owned several businesses there, he would have moved here right away, bought a villa and never left again. Maybe he’d still do it, a few months or a few eras from now. He couldn’t imagine that the people of Secyclion were ever unhappy when they lived in a place like this. He’d been to Arakmat, had seen Milo’s palace in Aelyria Prime and the estate of the richest people of Jaedaxia, but there was no other place like this one in all of Telath. It was almost magical.

He barely paid attention to the man on the rock and the Nereids for at almost the same time another gondola sailed past his. He couldn’t understand what the gondolier was singing – at this point his knowledge of Eunesian consisted of about a dozen words and phrases – but he put so much emotion into it that it touched something deep inside of him. And then he saw her. She was beautiful, graceful like a goddess of Eunesian mythology. He looked into her eyes, and then he replied, “I would love to, kyria.”
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Old September 8, 2010, 01:43 PM   #4 (permalink)
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The woman's smile blossomed on her cheeks rather like a spring flower as Tristan offered his acquiescence. She lifted her hand towards him, perhaps to serve as an aid for him before her lips opened to offer her generosity... or was it in part selfish that she wished to be closer to his presence and company?

"Join me in my gondola, Kyrio." Her soft voice lulled him to accept as the two gondoliers exchanged knowing glances, the one on the woman's boat stiling the small vessel to allow the young man to cross over if he so wished, and to even use the woman's extended arm as leverage and support.

If Tristan chose to cross over, the gondola he was now on would start sailing away, towards the outer fringes of the district. A soft spray of the sea breeze suddenly swept over, and where it touched, the buildings of the Arthro Galanos suddenly took on a mild blue tone, glowing for a moment, before fading back to its white silvery white color -- such was the strange effect of the minerals used to make the buildings, achieving that faint color when mixed with water or moisture.

"Where are you from Kyrio? And what are you called?" She was bold, this one, and there was something about her that reminded Tristan of a twitchy cat. Still, she was beautiful, and of course there was the outlandish charm not just in her accent, clothes, but her overall appearance as well. She seemed too beautiful to hurt anyone, yet there was the strength in her eyes... matched with the tinge of lust that the comely young man would come to recognize with his brief experiences with other women.

These Eunesians were full of glittering charm, it seems.

"Where to? Kyria Parthas?" The gondolier murmured thoughtfully, obviously trying his best not to interrupt or evasdrop upon the two's conversation and failing miserably -- mainly because he needed a new destination now that he had a new passenger on board.

Tristan L'Evienne would no doubt have heard of the Parthas family from Historia if the name had made a mental connection within his mind -- when it came to Eunesian royalty, the Parthas were pretty much the family. The lineage began long before Keila Parthas, the founder of the House, but truly sized power and prominence when the Parthas Matriarch became the first Supreme Nesocrat of the united Eunesian Federation. The same woman would then go on to become the first Governor of the islandic Province, thrusting her entire House into posterity. There were of course, other mythical rumors that surrounded the House that hailed originally from Olympia, but clearly had connections elsewhere around the rest of the islands but what was apparent was that this woman was likely a prominent figure upon Secyclion herself; and she had graciously invited Tristan upon her gondola without knowing him or what he represented.

"Nephele Bay, Neos Megalis." The famed entertainment district of the Red Island rumored to hold some of the most debauched festivals and revelries within the region.
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Old September 9, 2010, 07:53 AM   #5 (permalink)
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His smile mirrored the woman’s own as he took her arm, to use it for support. Whatever thoughts had occupied the young man’s mind before, all those thoughts about supernatural happenings, and the need to investigate, his skill as an adjurator and the illegal things he had involved himself in, he’d forgotten them the moment he stepped onto her gondola. He held her hand a moment longer than was necessary – but not long enough that it would be inappropriate - and then he took a seat. For a moment his gaze drifted away, towards the house left and right of him. They suddenly seemed pale blue before they turned back to their usual white color. And then he was looking at her again.

“They call me Tristan”, he replied softly. She was exotic, different from all the women he had met on the mainland. Even Jasmyn, the Esh’lahier that had been the subject of a brief romance could not compare to her. There was something exotic and alluring about the people of Eunesia, about her, something tempting, irresistible. “I am originally from Jaedaxia. Have you ever been there, kyria?” He purposefully let a hint of a Jaedaxian accent seep into his words, a hint of something foreign. He seemed relaxed, comfortable as he sat there, and yet he was utterly aware of her, of the way she looked at him.

“Parthas?” He arched an eyebrow as he heard the name. The word had been spoken in a casual tone, as if his curiosity was only temporary, as if it didn’t really matter after all. Her name seemed familiar, a name that held some weight in this part of the kingdom, vague rumours that only increased his interest in her. Her name was the last thing he said before he fell silent once more, content to let her take him wherever she wanted.
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Old September 16, 2010, 12:04 PM   #6 (permalink)
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"Tristan. What a lovely name." She remarked with a charming smile, and then placed one hand into the water as the gondola slowly swept through the currents, taking them out of the Arthro Galanos, heading towards Nephele Bay. Here and there were other gondolas that moved alongside theirs, hugging close to the shoreline to prevent themselves from being accidentally collide into by the larger ships.

"I'm afraid I have never ventured out of Eunesia my entire life. I've heard such tales though, of such a diverse climate and culture to Eunesia." The woman murmured with regards to Jaedaxia, which indeed, was vastly different from Eunesia. It was hard to find such a tropical paradise this far North of the realm, known for some of the harshest cold; yet Eunesia had been blessed by being situated within a region where the arcanic winds kept the weather warm and beautiful all Era round, allowing a respite for the residents living this far North to simply get abroad a vessel to sail to these island paradises if they so wished.

"Yes, I am Clara Parthas." There was a slight sigh to her voice as she says this, which was of course strange in itself, though she clearly did not wish to talk about it. Her smile brimmed again as she turns to look at Tristan, overcoming the womanly shyness as she reaches out to gently touch his forearm with her fingers, and then, once garnering his attention, she gestured to the shoreline that was lined with lights, along with hordes of people that were dancing and drinking along the beach.

In a distance, there was a beat of music ringing in the air, sending the merry-makers jumping and dancing and singing along. It was wild, hot and wanton -- just like every traveler from Secyclion had promised. On the lowrise buildings were musicians blaring their music into the Darkening sky, and the string of drinking establishments that lined the shore seemed packed from end to end.

"I hope you dance, Kyrio." The woman whispered almost breathlessly, a look of anticipation and excitement clearly filling her body as she looks at him to try and gauge his reaction to these new sights.

And so it seemed that this enigmatic Lady was taking him to the famed music and entertainment district of Secyclion, one of the finest and most notorious within the region -- the Main of Neos Megalis.
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Old September 27, 2010, 04:52 AM   #7 (permalink)
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„Clara“, he repeated. He made her name sound as if it were something special, an almost magical word. He’d noticed the sigh as she had introduced herself, and for a moment he was almost tempted to ask her about it, to ask her about what made her sad, what troubled her, but at the same time he was quite aware that she likely did not wish to talk about it, and thus he let it be. As she touched his forearm, he touched her with his other hand, placed his hand atop hers for a moment, to feel her, and then he looked towards the beach. “Is this Nephele Bay?” he wondered. He had never been there before.

“I love to dance”, he told her. He’d been a dancer, a musician, an actor – or had at least pretended to be such -- before he’d become a prince and a politician and opted for a slightly more boring (and honorable) way of life. He’d toured all of Arakmat with his troupe and danced a different dance with a different woman every darkening. In many ways his life back then had been perfect – although he had never seen anything like Nephele Bay even then. Whatever forms of entertainment Arakmat or the Rue Felix in Jaedaxia – one of his favourite places on Telath - offered, it was nothing compared to this.

The beach seemed to be filled with a million bright lights, and he could hear the music even from far away. His heart began to beat a little bit faster as he thought of the darkening ahead of them, and he could almost feel the music in his blood, and as he turned to face the Lady Parthas once more, he smiled at her. She would find him visibly excited, filled with the same kind of anticipation as she was. “I would love to dance with you, Lady Parthas, to dance all darkening, until the suns rise again and then some more.”
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Old October 9, 2010, 03:32 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Her smile widened as he beheld her name in a manner as if it was a secret word, denied from him until that very moment, and then, if possible became absolute ecstatic at his avowal that he loved to dance. Her dark, shimmering eyes took on an even bolder color -- almost like orbs catching fire, and then was twisting, burning like embers glowing in the hearth.

"Yes the famed Nephele Bay. Notice how the volcanic fumes seem to settle idly over the cliff-tops, almost as if suspended in air, Nephele, as you would say... Clouds. That is how the name came from. The Bay of Clouds." And she was right, after a fashion -- in the shimmering play of light shows from the Main, or more specifically, the Mouse and Masque; the pale, grayish and off-white fumes lingered magically over the revelers, almost as if their dancing and celebrating of merriment brought Aetheria so much closer to them.

"Delightful, you are almost, in a way, a Eunesian, from what you have just said. Delightful." She was clearly pleased with him, and the words that flowed from his tongue.

As the gondola neared the Bay and beached easily upon the famed sands of the shoreline, the man stuck his oar into the shifting sands melting in the water to steady the boat while allowing his passengers to alight. Beached along the same shores were other gondolas, these versatile light water bourne crafts seeming perfect for maneuvering in these sheltered waters, for even in open seas, the ancient caldera provided natural wave barriers in almost every direction that stilled the infamous open Eunesian waters to a safer degree to utilize these seemingly fragile transport.

The Lady Parthas took Tristan by the hand and led him straight into the crowd, not caring if the hem of her dress was now slightly soaked from the sea water. People turned to stare at the couple, Islanders and Mainlanders alike. It seemed initially that they were looking at him, because he was with the Lady Parthas, who was quite obviously a well-known figure upon the Red Isle if Tristan could remember vividly just where he had heard of the House of Parthas before -- these were people, like Tristan, if he were to be in Prime amongst the company of Milo, that cannot be not recognized everywhere they go.

Their reaction changed very quickly, however, and soon were throwing smiles at Tristan in a manner that appreciated him as a creature by his own right, rather than by his association. The beat of the music throbbed and flowed through the air like an invisible force, urging his limbs to move out to touch it.
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Old November 9, 2010, 07:49 AM   #9 (permalink)
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„The Bay of Clouds …“ He turned away from the Lady Parthas for just a moment to take a look at the cliffs in front of them. It looked as if the clouds had descended from the sky, as if Aetheria was only a few metres away rather than impossible to reach. „The name is fitting. It looks almost magical“, he remarked. How was it possible that he hadn’t found out about this little piece of heaven until now? How could he possibly have missed Secyclion and everything it had to offer during all his travels?

As Clara called him ‚almost Eunesian‘ he arched an eyebrow for a moment, and then he inclined his head smiled. He decided that there was no need for words right now, that he there was no need to comment on everything she said. Instead he simply sat there, looking at her as the gondola finally approached the shore.

As the gondola stopped, he immediately rose and accepted her hand, and together they joined the people that were already there, on the beach. The archduke was well aware of the looks they gave him, but he did not mind them. On the contrary, he enjoyed them, he enjoyed all those questions as to who he was and what he had done to catch the Lady Parthas‘ attention. He smiled at them, although his gaze never left Clara entirely.

„Shall we?“ The Lord L’Evienne who still hadn’t revealed his entire name stood in front of her now and extended his hand in an invitation to dance, to become one, one with the music and dance like she had never danced before.
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Old December 8, 2010, 04:03 AM   #10 (permalink)
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"I'm pleased you approve, Kyrio." It seemed from Clara's demeanor that she was a pleaser, and that Tristan's pleasure this Darkening was of paramount concern to her. Wine was served, followed by a round of Ouzo that was so potent that it stung Tristan's throat temporarily, before more water wine was toasted once more.

The first dance was a Secyclionian classic, an upbeat song that fortunately, was easily mastered once one could get into the rhythm that slowly increased its tempo to become a feisty and merry-filled routine that sent natives and foreigners alike jumping about in a drunken haze of ecstasy.

For her part, the Parthas was an excellent dancer who always had her eyes watching Tristan even if they were not dancing together. The Secyclionians danced in a manner where partners were routinely changed during a song, and before long, Tristan had already danced with a dozen women who were both delightful and delectable.

This was truly a hedonist's paradise.

It was perhaps a candlemark later when Clara murmured her desire for more beverages and murmured for Tristan to stay where he was, a golden adonis suddenly appeared before the Archduke. He had been casting looks at Tristan since his rather attention-seeking entrance upon the Bay. He was tall and broad-shouldered and in every lineament like the way the Mainland myths spoke of virile Eunesian men. Dark of hair with green eyes, he was confident, and his looks alone could command attention and presence.

"Chairete, pale stranger, would you care for a dance?" One hand had reached out with male liberty to grab at the back of Tristan's neck as he pulled him closer to lean in against his ear as he whispered against the roar of the deafening music. His breath was slightly sour from the wine, but hot against the inner shells of Tristan's ears.

The other free hand touched Tristan on his hip as he pulled him closer, his look intent even if it was clear that the man had perhaps drank a little too much, given the slight glaze in his eyes that did little to mar his extremely good looks.
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Old December 13, 2010, 02:07 PM   #11 (permalink)
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The Ouzo was strong, strong enough that even the archduke who regularly enjoyed a glass of alcohol had to pause for a moment. It stung in his throat, but that unpleasant sensation was over soon enough, and he reached for another glass before he joined the Lady Parthas for a dance. Despite the fact that the dance was foreign to him, he mastered it quite easily, and after a while he completely lost himself in the rhythm, in the music. Even as they exchanged partners, he watched Clara, watched what she was doing. This was Aetheria on Telath, a true paradise, a dream come true! A sigh escaped his lips as Clara left for a moment, but then he turned around to look for another one of those beautiful Eunesian woman, not in the mood to feel something like regret or sadness.

As the handsome, golden skinned man suddenly appeared in front of him, he arched an eyebrow. Surprise and confusion were quite visible on his face. Of course he had understood the question. He was slightly drunk – all the alcohol had clouded his mind a little and filled him with an unusual warmth, and it took him longer to realize what people were saying to him, but he was not completely gone yet. The man wanted to dance wit him? Why did he want to dance with him? It didn’t really make any sense to him. It likely wouldn’t have made much sense if he had been completely sober. He could only stare at him blankly.

And then the man had already pulled him close, so close that he could feel his breath against his skin. His touch was not entirely welcome, but the archduke was still too confused to resist much and only looked at the man, a look that could have a couple of different meanings in surroundings like that, where alcohl flowed nearly freely and the music was so loud that it was nearly impossible to hear your own words over it.
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Old January 14, 2011, 02:38 AM   #12 (permalink)
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His pale green eyes seemed even brighter against his olive colored skin as he guided Tristan away, using the momentarily confusion to hale his physical body into the crowd and away from his original position, clearly already spying upon the Archduke and his female companion from before, and then using the moment when the Marquessa has stepped away to stake his claim.

The music was slowing down as the musicians transited into another song, and even though the chatter of human whispers and words still washed over like a resonating sound along the beach, at least those words were now audible without the loud boom of the music.

"You're beautiful, pale, hard, like the marble statues we carve upon Olympia." He traced two fingers along Tristan's jawline, flicking the loose strands of hair behind his ears, leaning over slightly as he did so, and his lips dangerously close to Tristan's; for a moment even sharing the smallest of brush against one another before he pulled away.

The Eunesians were a strange bunch of course, so virile, yet so intense at the same time, almost possessingly so. His fingers were strong against Tristan's hips as he swayed to the music, never for a moment peeling his gaze off the L'Evienne.

"A drink, pale stranger?" The man asked with that husky Eunesian accent of his while he continued to keep one hand wrapped around Tristan's waist.
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Old February 2, 2011, 08:33 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Tristan didn’t resist particularly as the Eunesian guided him away. One some level he knew that he probably should, but he just didn’t feel like it, and thus he decided to let it be. It was all a little strange, but there was something about the music that had just slowed down a little bit - or maybe it was that Ouzo, that unfamiliar drink that he had drunk before – that made him refrain from insulting the Eunesian.

Rather than laughing at him and proclaiming that he would never dance with a man, the Archduke smiled as the stranger called him beautiful and allowed him to touch his face, maybe because he shouldn’t, because it would cause a scandal if they found out that he was a member of the royal family, dancing with somebody of the same gender – or maybe because of something else. As the man’s lips brushed against his, Tristan leaned just a little closer as if to show him that he didn’t mind at all, that he very much enjoyed his presence and wanted more.

Hands extended towards the Eunesian as he danced to the music. His eyes were half closed, and he completely forgot everything around him for a moment, even Clara who had left him a while ago to dance with somebody else. Not a single word left the archduke’s lips. There were only the music, a kind of music that he had never heard on the mainland and that strangely intense Eunesian that was so very close to him.

„I’d love to“, he replied as the Eunesian asked him whether he wanted a drink. He too didn’t let go of the Eunesian completely, as if he had suddenly decided to submit to the Eunesian way of life, despite the initial confusion and the blank stare that he had given the other man.
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Old March 17, 2011, 06:44 AM   #14 (permalink)
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"Wait here beautiful pale one," the devilishly handsome man murmured into Tristan's ear, slowly pulling away from him although his hands seemed almost reluctant to release the archduke's hips. Eventually he did, but not without first giving an almost teasing squeeze and a soft pat to Tristan's left cheek, and not the one on the face either.

He left, but not without going completely out of sight, heading towards the nearest drink counter, an open bar with palm leaves for roofing, coconut trunks for pillars, lighted up by candles sheltered within punctured coconut shells. From the perches they were hung from, where they spin and spun with the breeze, bathing this particular corner of the Nephele Bay in an exotic, almost erotic ambience with their flickering lights dancing madly together in rhythm to fast-paced beats of wild Eunesian drumming, while the drunken satyrs continued their frenzied jubilation....

Actually come to think of it where did the Marquessa Parthas went to again? Wasn't she supposed to be off to get some more drinks too? What was taking her so long? And most importantly, did Tristan even cared to remember her anymore? Or was he too swept away by the music, the alcohol and this tall, dark and handsome mysterious stranger, to bother with such trivials as women.

"Here," came that husky voice again, as Tristan's current male companion reappeared with a large goblet filled with what looked like harmless clear liquid, but had the kind of aroma that warned that this drink was stronger then any previous he had been drinking.

"Marikaima..." he answered, revealing the identity of the drink without even needing to be asked. "Strongest drink in all Eunesia and even Mainland!" he boasted confidently. "We call this also the drink of warriors, and it is believed that only real men can handle such liquid!" he gave a playful wink at Tristan as he took a small sip and released a satisfied sigh, before thrusting the goblet into the archduke's hands, and motioned for him to take a few sips.

If Tristan were to follow suit, he would find the drink's strength indeed to be a few levels higher beyond the average, almost akin to drinking real dwarven spirits distilled from the depths of Dargis itself. It stung the taste buds and brought tears to the eyes, leaving behind a lingering fiery aftertaste that was strangely invigorating and satisfying (at least if not to the tongue then to the ego). And unless Tristan was the type to have an alcohol tolerance of a giant or dwarf, or a severe alcoholic who can't even stand the taste of water or anything other than alcohol anymore, he would find his tipsy level dipping even lower.

If he wasn't drunk previously, he now was. If he was drunk, he was now sore drunk, and if was sore drunk, he would now be dead drunk!
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Old April 4, 2011, 05:07 AM   #15 (permalink)
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„Of course“, Tristan replied as the Eunesian asked him to wait for him. He was utterly aware of how the man’s hands lingered for a bit, as if he were reluctant to let go. He wasn’t entirely sure what he was supposed to think of that. Despite the fact that he often pretended to be quite open minded in that regard, he had never been that close to another man nor had he had any interest in it. For a moment he wondered whether he should take the chance and go looking for Clara now that the stranger had temporarily left him, but then he decided not to. If Clara wanted to come back, she would.

„Thank you.“ The stranger had returned before he’d realized it. He accepted the goblet. Whatever the drink was, it smelled as if it was quite strong, but that was exactly the kind of drink he enjoyed. It was the perfect drink for this darkening. „I’m confident that I can handle it! I may not be a warrior, but I’m very much a real man!“ He laughed, toasted to the man – the gesture was a bit exaggerated – and then he drank.

It was a bit stronger than he had been prepared for. He’d always thought that he had a pretty high tolerance for alcohol – the highest you could get without being a severe alcoholic – but this here brought tears to his eyes. He coughed a bit, but then he took another sip and then another one, as if he felt the need to prove something. And before too long the handsome Eunesian stranger was faced with an archduke who, while not dead drunk, was definitely very drunk!
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