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Lady Penny Pembrook

[OP - F22] Star-Crossed Gala

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Star-Crossed Gala
To Whom It May Concern,
You are cordially invited to join Lady Penny Pembrook for a magical evening of food, dance, and pleasantries.
Attire is black-tie formal, and guest are encouraged to bring col for a very special auction.
The event shall take place on February 12th, at the base of the Sapphire Falls.
No RSVP necessary - we hope to see you there.

"Ma'am, the guests will be arriving soon. Shall you move to the entrance to greet them?"

Lady Penny Pembrook pursed her painted lips at the crisply dressed maitre d'. "No, Walter, I don't believe I will." She took another sip of her burgundy wine, then glanced at Walter over the glass rim. "Anyone who is anyone will be arriving fashionably late." The elderly NPC lifted a manicured hand to smooth non-existent flyaways. Her long gray hair was arranged in an elaborate bun, revealing a pretty face and deep-set blue eyes. Laughter lines spread from the corners of each, like fragile cracks in fine china. The dress she wore, a shade similar to her favorite wine, was startlingly tight for a woman in her mid-sixties. But Lady Pembrook wore confidence like a second skin, and she simply glowed in the soft light cast by crystal chandeliers.

The tent she had chosen was a study in elegance. A clear top and sides allowed for an interrupted view of the gorgeous surroundings. White tiles in the center of the sprawling space formed a large dance floor, surrounded on all sides by satin-draped round tables. Long tables lined the perimeter, weighed down with platters of food and bowls of punch. One even displayed dueling chocolate fountains, one white, one milk, and an array of snacks for dipping. Those who preferred a bit of seclusion could follow the leisurely trail to the top of Sapphire Falls. The path was bordered by flickering candles, Lady Pembrook's preferred "mood lighting."

Another swig of wine, and the aristocrat moved gracefully to her feet. "Yes, alright," she declared suddenly. "I believe it is time to welcome my guests." She offered a gloved hand to the maitre d', who blinked owlishly - had she not just told him no? She really is as eccentric as they say. Yet Walter nodded, and dutifully offered his arm. Lady Pembrook accepted it, and allowed herself to be led toward the entrance. Perfectly white teeth gleamed as she flashed a winning smile. "Let us spread love to all who are open to it! Tis' the season, you know."

Spoiler

Welcome to the Star-Crossed Gala!

  • This is an OP, so you may come and go as you see fit. There is no established post order, but please do not turn this into your own personal PP.
  • The event takes place outside of a safe zone, so orange players are welcome. However, no monsters will spawn for the duration of the gala.
  • Lady Penny Pembrook will occasionally be used to change the direction of the event, though you are encouraged to incorporate your own drama (just please don't go overboard!).
  • You may tag Lady Penny Pembrook if you would like to interact with her (but we cannot promise she will have the time to speak with you - she's a busy woman)!
  • Standard post rewards will be offered when the thread closes on Sunday, March 8th. If you would like to continue the story past that date, you may do so in a PP.
  • Questions regarding the event should be directed to Lessa or Bahr.

Adventure Auction

  • From now until February 22nd, interested hosts should message Lessa with their adventure ideas. Examples include "stargazing on Floor 2," "a snowball fight on Floor 4," or "a fancy dinner on Floor 11."
  • From February 23rd to 29th, players will bid in an OOC thread using real col for the adventure they are interested in.
  • Bidding will end at some point on the 29th. The time will not be disclosed to discourage sniping.
  • Winners will send half of the col to the adventure host before the the thread begins.
  • The host will create the adventure thread, and lead the winner through it.
  • Once the thread has concluded (at least one page), participants will earn one extra SP. The winner will send the second half of the col.
  • Remember, the adventures do not need to be "dates." They can be a fantastic plot point for creating friendships, or even tension, depending on how you set it up (can you imagine being forced to lead someone you hate through an adventure because they won the bid?).
  • Get creative with your adventure proposals! The more outrageous or interesting, the more money you're likely to make.

 

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The tent was massive, and could easily house at least a hundred guests. Two words came to Mari's mind when she arrived. Excessively Extravagant. The woman wasn't ever really one for such opulence, but hey. To each their own right? Thick plush material hung from the ceiling and draped down the sides of the tent, accented with light lace and chiffon. The area alight with a mixture of fairy lights and grandiose chandeliers. Tables lined with all manner of food lined the tent, and just glancing at them caused a rumble in Mari's stomach - she lightly placed a hand over it as her brows furrowed. Such decadence, it'd almost be painful to enjoy it here and now - only to return to a meager diet of breads, fruits, and nuts. 

Further out, Mari noticed a cande lit trail that lead up and out - to where? She did not know. But it looked...nice. She wasn't sure if she'd go that far, chances are, couples would wander up there and it was bad enough to be here alone. Not that Mari was bitter, she just...felt out of place.

Before stepping into the grand event Mari paused to take note of the two hosts. An old lady who Mari decided was definately a cat lady gave her a warm smile - cheeks flushed red with rouge. This must have been the illustrious Lady Pembroke. Mari gave the woman and her escort a slight bow. 'Sh*t how do people introduce themselves here? Am I meant to introduce myself as Lady Mari? Just Mari?"

Seconds turned to minutes as Mari cleared her throat, righting herself. "M-Mari." She introduced herself. "Just Mari." She added as she hurried past.

Mari tugged down on her dress, feeling rather out of place. The event was black-tie formal so she was forced to select an outfit to dress up. She'd much prefer the casual comfort of her t-shirt and shorts. Instead she felt...very exposed. Her freckled legs and shoulders completely bare as she wore a strapless dress. Ruffles accentuated her breasts, which Mari wasn't exactly fond of, she tried pulling the dress up to no avail. The top clung tight to her curves and Mari was scared to walk too briskly in fear of anything ripping.  The bottom of the dress flared out behind her as she slowly walked across the room, gentle waves of orange billowing behind her. She picked the outfit because it reminded her of her familiar, the Koi fish named Kohaku. But now, she wasn't so sure.

"Geez..." Mari mumbled to herself as she started to wander the area. It looked like she was the first one here. As if she didn't feel awkward enough. A nervous hand reached up to fiddle with a crystal earring, the colour of fire.  Should she try messaging someone?

But...the only people she could really message where all men, what was she to do 'Oh hey there's this valentines event - you should come!"  That...could give off the wrong implications. Mari picked up a single strawberry with a sigh before plopping it into her mouth, chewing slowly as her eyes shifted back to the entrance. Still, would it really be so bad to flick some people a message? Instead of inviting them - maybe she should just simply Inquire if they'd be there. 

Cautiously, Mari opened up her HUD:
 

To: (BBC)  @Alkor   @Macradon , @Baldur
Subject: Star Crossed Gala
Body:

There's an event on called the 'Star Crossed Gala' 
There's lots of really nice food here. Are you thinking of going?

-Mari.

 

 

 

 

 

She knew that there was little to no chance Alkor would even attend, but he was her friend - and guilt would eat at her if she didn't invite him. Macradon had helped her quite a lot lately - and she figured, hey. Maybe he'd enjoy the festivities with his fiance. Finally, Baldur whom she had only recently met - but they had a rather meaningful discussion, and he helped her more than he probably knew, so that was her olive branch. After sending off the message Mari felt a tightness in her chest she couldn't explain. Nerves, maybe?

Edited by Mari

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It had been quite some time since Jomei had decided to attend a public event like this. There may have been one over the summer, a small get together held by Kityuisa on the beach. However, if Jomei recalled, he had not spent much time there. Missing a couple of others that were held since then, the last time Jomei remembered getting together with a bunch of other players was the meeting held to plan for the Twenty Fourth Floor's boss raid. Despite winning that fight, Jomei could not help but feel responsible for the lack of preparation the frontliners had for that fight, and the close calls of multiple players almost dying. However, that was what tonight was for - to hopefully get all of that off of his mind. And the last thing Jomei wanted was to become one of those players who only shows their face when an extra sword is needed for a boss fight. Maybe tonight he would be able to meet up with some old friends, make some new ones, and just have a good time overall.

3TkQvUH.pngThe Irishman fixated the last button on his brown, plaid vest and pulled on the back of his green neck tie to tighten it into place. With a huff of air from his lungs, he took one last look at himself in the mirror. Satisfied with his choice of attire for the evening, the man offered his reflection a nod, and then proceeded to leave the comfort of his home. The walk from his Taft home to the town's warp plaza was like second nature to him, having lived on this floor for quite some time. As the ginger walked, he adjusted the buttons on his black shirt that he wore beneath the plaid vest. It was not long before the heels of his brown leather loafers clacked against the stone surface of the stage players used to warp between floors. "Warp, Floor Twenty Two, Coral" Jomei's body was engulfed in a bright white light, transferring his being from one point in Aincrad to another within mere moments. 

Once the lights faded, Jomei found himself in the center of the tiny settlement known as Coral. It proved to be one of the smallest in the game, the outskirts that surrounded the hamlet visible to the naked eye in each direction. The soft rumble of rushing water coming from Sapphire Falls to the east marked the direction Jomei needed to travel in to reach his destination. Shoving his hands into his pockets, Jomei followed the path from Coral to the Falls where his Gala would be taking place. As he walked, Jomei thought about the 'carnival' last Halloween, where he and his teammates were forced to fight for their lives against hordes of zombies and, eventually, a giant pumpkin. If Jomei knew anything, it was that a gathering of players out of the safe zone usually meant there would be some sort of danger. Furrowing his brows, Jomei rose his hand to summon his menus, and made sure to place his rapier in his battle ready inventory. In case all hell broke loose like last time, he wanted to be a bit more prepared. 

The man blinked a bit in surprise when the tent that served as the location for the event came into view. The furnishings looked as though they should be placed within a grand hall, but instead sat under white fabric that draped out in each direction. The interior was dimly lit under the night sky, but enough so players could easily see where they were going and distinguish their friends from each other. As he approached, greeting the older looking NPC at the entrance who seemed to be the host of the party, Jomei noticed that there were not too many players currently present.
"Oh man.." Jomei thought to himself, realizing he was unfashionably early.  Currently, there was only one other player present, a woman who sported an orange crystal over her head that matched the color of her hair and dress. Jomei proceeded slowly, cautiously at first before releasing the breathe he was holding "You told yourself to relax.." As a waited passed by, holding a tray with various glasses ranging from different colors atop it, Jomei smiled to the NPC and gently took one between his fingers. "This will definitely help.." he said to himself as he raised the stemmed glass of a lighter red wine to his lips. 

 

Edited by Jomei

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Put something on, get some nice clothing as you did at the gala back in school. What was this all about Yuuma was never one to push me... wait no he was and still is. He even ordered me to go on a spa day. But this time the request he placed was quite weird. Well getting something like back then got me thinking a bit about what to wear. Getting my stuff ready and making sure I was ready to go I looked into the mirror. Well, it was a bit surprise for sure, as I did not look at the girl I always looked like but as a proper woman. with my hair all braided and hanging over one shoulder I Smiled. Making a turn in the in front of the mirror and making a small bow with the clothing. 

As soon as I left I got a message. 

From: Yuuma
OI! Shion, missy Late going, get your butt over here or I'll make sure you regret it,
Remember our promise the first day we got to this place. Get a move on NOW!

Yeeeez Yuuma. You could ask nicely but okay I'm on my way please just don't yell at me. As I walked down I made my way over to this place he wanted to meet up, and why of all places, in these items of clothing was a wonder to me at best. Once getting to the place Yuuma told me to get to I looked a bit around looking for Yuuma. Then from behind me, two hands held onto my hip and I jumped a bit "Eek!" I turned around and there was the man himself. With his purple long hair, blue eyes, and about at least 6'0" Feet tall. "Why would you scare me like that Yuuma!" I demanded from him. He could not help himself and laugh a bit. "Well hello to you as well Shion, seems you got here faster then I was suspecting," He said with a smile on his face and poked on my head a bit. "So what is your plan and why are you making me wear this," I said making him stop teasing me and I looked at his own clothing. He well let's say was wearing the most modest suit I have seen him wear in forever. Without waiting he grabbed my arm and took me with him "Just wait and see Missy, you will not even understand if I explained it to you," He said smiling as I walked next to him holding on to him.

As soon as I and he walked into the place he told me about he smiled and grinned. "Welcome to Star-Crossed Gala, This Event is set on getting people to interact with one another, And I'm set, on getting you in here to meet people apart from your old school buddy," He said with a grin as we walked in he paused for a second and smiled nudging his elbow into my side, "Maybe you find someone you love as well, it is the season of course," He said in a teasing way. "But what has the season to tell about who I love or not, I really don't understand where you got that weird logic from," I said looking confused up at him. But he ignored me and looked up and smiled looking around for people. "Bingo!" He said before taking me somewhere. As for a moment, he stopped, well stopped in front of someone.

"Hello Mister, I'm Yuuma and this is Shion, it's a pleasure to meet you. I must say you look rather alone at this time, you would not mind if we two joined in a conversation." Yuuma said to the man standing there. I looked up at him and umm Yeah I did look up to him yeeez he is tall. "Hello, Like he annoying friend here said, I'm Shion, Shion Kikenna. A pleasure to meet you...?" I said with a question on mind wanting to know his name. Than Yuuma snapped his finger and smiled the only way I knew he smiled, with plans to tease me. He booped me on the forehead and walked off saying "Getting drink for us you start talking now! RELAX FOR ONCE!" he said with a grin as I tried to grab him to make sure he stayed but failed. I turned back to the man and well smiled a bit, "Sooo... how are you?" I asked just the most basic of things to say.
@Jomei

Spoiler

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Shion's outfit

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Yuuma

 

Edited by Azhoda

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Others began to appear, one by one - and funnily enough they were all sporting the same hue of hair colour. How oddly amusing, ginger hair was meant to be a recessive trait, yet here they all were in the same death game, at the same starry event. The first was wearing a black dress shirt, very crinkled... with a vest and emerald green tie combo. He looked about as nervous as her, muttering under his breath as he picked up a glass of what Mari assumed was red wine. She never really understood the point of drinking alcohol within Aincrad. It wasn't like it had any effect on you. A placebo at best, and at worst - the taste of cheap wine stuck in your mouth for hours. She guessed others liked that sort of taste.

The waiter, a tall and dark man in a pressed suit of black with white tie approached Mari now.  He offered her a slight bow. "Would the madam like to enjoy a glass tonight, courtesy of Miss Pembroke." Mari hesitantly reached out and picked up what she assumed was a Moet, or rose wine of some sort - due to the slightly pink hue. They were ..sweet right?  Crap...Mari wasn't exactly a wine drinker. If she didn't like it she'd just abandon it on a table somewhere. For now it was nice to have something in her hand. "Thanks." The waiter bowed and turned away.

"Well...may as well try to do this social thing." Mari mumbled to herself as she took a step to approach the man, but that's all she took. A single step. He was joined by another two people. Approaching one stranger, Mari could handle. Approaching three? That was a little too awkward for her. It looked like an awkwardly shy and young girl with a taller man who was clearly forcing her out of her comfort zone. If he had tried doing that to Mari she'd have slapped him.

Mari turned away from the group and scooted back over to the table. She'd just hang around here and wait for someone she knew to show up. It'd be nice to see Mac or Baldur come. Something like this, would be too much for Alkor, hell, it was almost too much for her. Mari picked up a single strawberry and placed it into her glass of Moet - then picked up a second and placed it in her mouth.

At least the food was nice.

 

 


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Edited by Mari

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The swirled the glass in his hands as a force of habit and raised the brim to his mouth, allowing a tiny amount of wine to moisten his lips. As the man lowered it, the bridge of his nose crinkled as his brow furrowed. He cleared his throat, "Christ.. that's dry." Jomei heard the voice of a younger man behind him greeting him with a "hello mister.' Did Jomei look that old, or maybe it was just his height? With a look over his shoulder to see if he recognized the player, who turned out to be a pair, he turned to face them, slyly placing the now unwanted wine on the table adjacent to him. "Oh, hello there." the ginger said with a smile, eyes settling on the male player, and then moving to the female player with another smile. "Well, I merely just got here. So I have not had a chance to made my rounds. Though.." he took a quick look around the gala to see that the only ones present were the two of them, the girl who stood alone at the refreshment table, fiending on strawberries, and the Irishman himself, "Its not like I had many people to make my rounds to."  

After making the greeting for her, the third ginger in their presence finally spoke up with a more formal introduction of herself, and left her sentence hanging as to allow Jomei to fill in the blank with his own name. Reaching a hand out, he held it at a slight angle towards her, "Jomei. It nice to meet you both." Only moments after, Yuuma excused himself to fetch himself and Shion a beverage, the latter seeming a bit hesitant to be left alone with a stranger whom she only just learned the name of. Jomei raised a visible brow and watched the man walk off for a moment before returning his attention to Shion. He smiled politely at the simple question, usually a go to when one is trying to make small talk. "I am doing fine, happy to have gotten out of the house for once" he chuckled, "And how about you?"

@Azhoda

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Finding himself warped into Floor 22 through some warp gate, Shinji arrives at the base of the Sapphire Falls and the tent of the gala. From what he heard, Floor 22 is sparsely populated by NPCs and players, and probably one of the most peaceful floors in Aincrad. Ironically, despite belonging among the intermediate tier of floors, it is the easiest as most mobs are nothing but animals and don't even attack players unless provoked. Even the settlements are small enough to be considered villages or hamlets. Overall, a nice place for peaceful players to live in....assuming they can afford a house here.

Shinji looks at his own suit and brushes it with his finger before looking ahead while letting out a sigh. He had to find a tailor shop in the Starting City and after some time of walking, managed to find one. For some reason, the NPC tailor inside suddenly talked to him when he brings up an invitation window he just received an hour or two prior. The invitation invites him into this gala, and mentioned that attires for males must be formal, with suits, ties and stuff like that.

Shinji listened to the NPC who talked a bit about the gala before handing him a suit. For free! Well, it is one suit and without a tie...but still, it's still better than having no suit at all. The only condition the NPC gave him was that the suit must be returned to her in its pristine condition. Shinji accepted the offer without questions and thanked the NPC with a smile, then he headed back into a room he rented in a tavern to dress in it.

The suit he now wears consist of a white dress shirt, white dress pants and black dress shoes, all which he had worn first. A black jacket was worn over his body, covering his entire torso except for the front, though it can be buttoned up to cover the midriff region. A black bowtie sits just below the white shirt's collar around Shinji's neck. Some sort of white napkin was folded and neatly placed into the jacket's breast pocket.

Back to the gala, Shinji is greeted by an elderly NPC that appears as a woman in her 60s, dressed in purple like a noble. Beside her is a butler of sorts wearing formal wear, black and white. After bowing to them respectfully and giving his name, he was told to step in and enjoy the gala as he pleases. Shinji nods at them with a "Thank you" and steps into the tent.

This tent has its transparent sides withdrawn, leaving only the roof intact, which is also made of the same see-through silk. There is food and drink served on some tables, and seats and tables for people to sit at. Candelabras hang under the tents roof, and more candles serve as the gala's source of light for some reason. At least those candelabras are as bright as electric ones...or are they electric too?

Shinji also notices some players that already arrive earlier than him, all dressed formally like they are going to prom or something. He is alarmed as he notices a female player with an orange diamond. A player killer. Why she is here is a mystery to him, but since he now develops nervousness towards that girl, he decides to keep his distance from her. He moves away from everyone, not making eye contact or say hello as he stares at the food and drinks.

Spoiler

Shinji's Suit

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Stats

Level: 5 -- HP 100/100 -- Energy 10/10 -- DMG: 5 -- MIT: 17 -- ACC: 1

Skills

Sword Art: Two Handed Straight Sword (Rank 1)

Two Handed Weapons (Rank 1) (+3 DMG)

Heavy Armor (Rank 1) (+8 MIT)

 

Edited by Shinji

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"It's always the same! Let's have a little downtime and spice up our lives!" Yinangi would say to Dazia...again. "No." Dazia would reply...again.

"We can't keep doing it like this, you have to get out of this state you've thrown yourself into for, oh I don't know, at least ten times already?" Yinangi asked. "You know what, you're right...we can't keep doing it like this. it's always the same. You ask me, I deny, a challenge of rock paper scissors ensues and you somehow beat me, proceeding to drag me over to where it is I don't want to go. Let's not repeat history this time." Dazia decided. "Alright then...you pick what we have to do to decide whether or not we go."

Someway, somehow, Dazia found herself defeated by Yinangi once again, even though it was a strategic game called Chess that decided it. "Checkmate." Yinangi declared. Dazia's face planted itself onto the table which the chess set was on. "I honestly don't know how the hell you managed to do this... You just won against me...in chess. This isn't possible." She muttered. Yinangi got up from the chair. "So now we're going! First step, Dress Shopping!!!" She exclaimed. "Whyyyy......?" Dazia groaned as Yinangi started dragging her.

 

Dazia herself was neutral on the shopping experience, she just didn't like how much the cost was. "I could have gotten some potions with that col..." She thought. Yinangi, of course, really liked the experience. Dazia hoped she wouldn't catch too many eyes, for she wasn't exactly one for social events...but maybe she would be willing to speak with a player or two. "You're not going to regret this one, Dazia! Who knows, someone you know might be here...like maybe Benjamin!" Yinangi assured her. "Well, here goes nothing..." Dazia thought as she walked onto the party grounds.

 

Appearances:

Spoiler

Dazia's Appearance:

Spoiler

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Please know that there is a blue sash around the dress.

 

 

Yinangi's Appearance:

Spoiler

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Please know that the sash on this dress is actually black.

 

 

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Minako approached the tent starstruck, the lights gleaming in her eyes as she excitedly took in the surroundings. She figured this to be a second valentines day event, and thus a second chance to snag the perfect man. She checked her inventory and saw that her chocolates were there. She let out a confident sigh of relief as she hiked up her dress and moved onto the main area.

Several words came to Minako's mind as she entered the actual tent, most of which she wasn't allowed to say on stream.  But beautiful was one, extravagant, was another, and magnificent was a better one. The lace that decorated the tables, the candles that pathed the ground, the lighting bugs dancing around the dimly lit sky. It was almost like a wedding of sorts. To which Minako got even more excited, there was nothing more romantic than a wedding. Today was her shot, her chance. She was going to make her mark, and leave with a man latched onto her arm. She stopped as she approached an elderly man and woman, casually seated near the entrance. Minako bowed to the pair and introduced herself. "Minako." She blurted out in full confidence. She rose from her formal bow and moved into the main area once more, eyeing the potential prizes, and threats.

First she spotted Jomei, he was off the list as his fiance would kill her the moment she tried to move in on him. Plus Jomei was just too nice of a guy. He would never think about leaving his would be bride. That and he was surrounded by people both men and women. And as another group of women waltzed in Minako's heart sank a bit. The men crowding Jomei were okay, just not what she wanted in her ideal partner. And there were only women at this event, or taken men. Was she cursed? Was this to be her fate? A never ending cycle of hopeless events and fruitless dates until she was in her mid forties and forced to settle with some other guy that dyes his hair to keep it normal.

No. It wouldn't be. She was early, well as early as she could be for late. She would bide her time, many single men will arrive. Maybe even that really cute guy from the halloween event would show up. Her cheeks flustered slightly as she went to pick a seat but something, well someone else caught her eye. She had watched a woman get up from her table, take a step towards the crowd and then sit back down. She looked, not sad but something else. Melancholy, perhaps. That was fine with Minako. One sad girl meant one less woman out there trying to steal all the good men, but she remembered herself a bit. She thought of Jevi and how she helped Minako sort through her problems. Maybe...

Minako stepped over to the table with the lone woman. Hopefully, the woman wouldn't recognize her from her streaming career, let alone buy the game because she told her too. She let out a quick sigh before speaking up. "Is this seat taken? You look awfully alone." Minako said, touching the seat across from the woman.

@Mari

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dressshit.jpg

Cordelia rubbed her elbows nervously as she looked at the luxurious tent.

It's been years since she's dressed in anything like this. The girl looked down at her velvet dress and visibly cringed. Perhaps this was a bad idea. . . 

"Gah," she muttered, followed up with a frown as she placed her hands on the side of her head. Formal. . . parties were never the type of thing she liked. . . but maybe this would be different. There was no Mother or Father this time, just. . . good pals.

Her hand reached up to rub her neck. She hadn't worn such revealing clothes like this. . . since forever! God, she couldn't even remember the last time she even wore a damn dress! 

Well.

It was too late to go back now, especially when @Oscar was here with her. She glanced at the blonde from the corner of her eye before smiling softly to herself. At least he made it somewhat bearable. 

"Alright, why don't we head. . . in," Cordelia said before she trailed off. In? Out? Would it classified as going in if the tent was open? 

Her hand coiled around his, squeezing softly before she led him in the tent.  "Well, at least there's free food," Cordelia mumbled under her breath as her eyes locked on numerous trays and plates of food on a table.

Her gray eyes looked up at the increasing number of people coming in. She knew most of them, at least. That would save some awkward conversations.

At least, she hoped so.

 

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dress.png?width=206&height=468The tent was already alive with sound and color when Lessa slipped inside. A band tuned their instruments on a sturdy stage, the random plinks of strings and hoot of horns a delightful cacophony. The gentle pinks, whites, and golds of the decor were softened still by crystal chandeliers. When night fell, as it soon would, their light would be invaluable. But as the sun still rode the cloudless sky, they simply contributed to a pleasant ambiance. At least, Lessa found it pleasant. 

It had been an incredibly long time since she had attended an event like this. Socials appeared around Aincrad constantly, but Lessa had never felt to actually make an appearance. Even the beach party the past summer had been a bust, when she had arrived, talked to one person, then left.

Speak of the devil, there was Jomei. Lessa appreciated his choice of attire, the plaid vest a fun change from the standard black suit. As always, there was something boyishly charming about him. She made a mental note to say hello later, as he was already engaged in conversation with other guests.

So what was Lessa to do, alone at such a grand party? Food, obviously. As gracefully as possible, the blonde beelined for the dessert table. Was it really appropriate to sample before dinner? Hardly, as in, it ‘hardly mattered to Lessa.’ She delicately plucked a graham cracker from the platter, and inserted it under the wonderful waves of milk chocolate. She could practically feel herself salivating.

Here’s to hoping I don’t totally wreck my dress, Lessa thought, cupping her hand under the chocolate covered cracker as she brought it to her lips. Chewing, she glanced around the bustling scene; some faces she knew, but most she didn’t. She really should get out more. Surprisingly, the thought of it didn’t completely disgust her. The extrovert-turned-introvert-turned-complete-hermit was beginning to emerge from her shell once more. I wonder why, she thought, but she didn’t really wonder at all. She knew. With a small, secret smile, Lessa grabbed for a strawberry.

 

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Screw it, let's just eat and be on my own way, Shinji thinks to himself as he adds lamb and sweet potato wedges into his own plate, then retreats to a table near the edge of the tent. Sitting down with his back facing the event, he eats quietly while admiring the stars at the sky. If only Aincrad has visible constellations that he could see, maybe even the ones that existed in the real world like Orion or the Southern Pole.

At the same time while he eats, he still feels slightly nervous around the increasing number of players here, and hopes that should he ever get pulled into a conversation, he could either wedge himself out of there or at the very least make himself sound decent and not too awkward. His neutral expression remains on his face as he ponders the reason he comes here.

I...it's not like I come here to mingle around, it's impossible, Shinji thinks to himself. Yeah, surely it must be for the food and the Sapphire Falls right? He could go up to its summit and just sit there alone, and enjoy the view while getting lost into his own dreamscapes. He will need that fresh air. 

...and the food's damn tasty. Shinji acknowledges this by thinking that he should get some more of his own portions.

Edited by Shinji

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More people began to arrive at the event, and Mari shoved more strawberries into her mouth. They were plump and sweet. Mari wasn't normally one to steer toward sweet things, but fruits? She liked them. Always had, it was easy to please the woman. Her tastes weren't refined and she didn't need anything opulent or fancy. Perhaps that's why she adapted to living outside the safe zones so well. Course now, in part with thanks to Baldur - she had a home she could hide away in. Another few rocked up. More kids.

Mari sighed softly as she rose the glass of Moet to her lips. It was... a little sad to see just how many kids were in this game. Highschoolers were one thing, but primary, even preschoolers? How cruel and unfair this life was. Rosey liquid flowed past her lightly glossed lips. It was bittersweet- but not enough for her to abandon the glass somewhere on the table.

Mari noticed a kid glance at her, tense up then shift away. He was no doubt wondering why someone like her was here. She couldn't blame him. She wasn't sure why she was here herself. It's not like she had many friends or companions

"Is this seat taken, you look awfully alone."

Mari blinked. Turning to glance over at the owner of the voice. She was very....pink obtrusively so. Mari wouldn't. Nor couldn't comment on it, she used to dress up in much the same shade of attire, mostly because everyone wore deep red or black. "I'm not using it, and unless there's an invisible person there. I doubt anyone else is either." Mari said dismissively.

The woman had no idea why this other person had come up to her; was she trying to be nice? Did she want something from her? Mari closed her eyes and took another sip of the lighty bubbling pink drink. She shifted her weight to one side. It'd be....rude to just ignore her. Wouldn't it.

"I'm waiting for someone." Mari said. "Rather, waiting to see if they'll come."  Mari was earnestly hoping she'd bump into Macradon or Baldur here; even if it was just briefly. It'd set her at ease. Normally she'd leave it at that. But Curiosity got the better of her. Mari readjusted her dress and smoothed down the shimmering tulle at her hips. She really wasn't used to wearing dresses.

"Why did you approach me?" She asked. "It's not unwelcomed, but unexpected." She gestured towards Shinji, who had acted skittish upon seeing her marker. "Most shy away."

Mari opened her mouth to say more but blue eyes flicked to a figure behind the pink stranger. Ahh . It was Lessa.  Mari wasn't sure what Lessa thought of her, the blonde probably hated her, and could Mari blame her. Over the last few months, Mari managed to piece together things; she had to assume that Alkor had at one point ignored her, and instead attempted to focus attention on Mari.  To see that? Hell, Mari would dislike someone for that too - hurt, jealousy. Frustration.  Course...Mari wasn't entirely sure of the whole story. But with how he was, she could have a wild guess.

It was...nice to see Lessa again. She seemed to be doing well. Mari had spotted the blonde at the New Years Life festival too. But didn't have the gall to approach her and say anything. The woman was someone Mari had always admired, but their relationship was terse at best. She hoped that Alkor, in all his bullheadedness had at least made amends with her.

"Oh. Sorry."

Mari shook her head and turned her attention back to the other person who was in front of her. "What did you say your name was? My names Mari. Just Mari."

Introductions to new people...Mari hated them, she hate the noteriety her name bought; the symbolism behind it; the crazy rumours and stories that stemmed from it, she hated it all. But she could never blame anyone for them.

@Minako

 


Dress

 


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Edited by Mari

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bahrinasuit3.pngEver since his first event, Bahr had become a tad squeamish when he heard the words "star-crossed" uttered. Images of the sea monster's grotesque progeny bearing down on the nearly helpless Tier Oners would start flooding in, along with hints of the overpowering stench that had followed them from the depths of the lake to the shore above. The ravenous cretins had gone to war with the players, their numbers seemingly insurmountable, and only stopped once their king was dead. Bahr was sure that there were still droves of them residing within the lake, but he hadn't the slightest interest in going there to find out for sure. Diving wasn't really his thing.

But this was a little different. Assuming Cardinal wasn't yet again playing the collective player base like an unrosinated bow against the already strained strings of a pulverized fiddle, this was nothing more than a get together to commemorate the success of that very event. If Bahr was being honest with himself, he'd never actually seen how that all played out. Had the Lovers managed to convene at the end, no longer held apart by the oppressive force of the monster dividing them? Or had things remained unresolved?

Judging by the venue and the reason for it, Bahr assumed the former. But you could never be too sure.

Contrary to his usual goofy garb, Bahr had opted for something a tad more sumptuous for the gala. A simple white button up shirt that matched the ivory sheen of his mop of hair, top buttons undone in lieu of a suffocating tie, covered over by a well-fitting black blazer that he left open. Pinned to the left lapel would be a simple enamel trinket depicting a neutron star, which would blend into the obsidian coloration in much the same way the real deal would stand out against the void of the open cosmos. No frills or eye-catching crimson here, which might catch the people who knew Bahr best a little off guard. He'd always gone with a little red because it was his favorite color, and helped him stick out in a crowd. Here, he had no reason to draw peoples' attention. There was only one person he wanted to notice him.

Hands shoved into his pockets, he stood off in a corner of a tent and let his eyes wander in search of it. That telling combination of violet and gold. He couldn't be too sure about what she was wearing, but he had a pretty good idea. It would ride a hue that shared the scent that wafted from her, complimenting her features without giving too much away. There would probably be a gold accent in there somewhere. Small, just enough to play off of her blonde locks, which would surely be pinned up one way or another. She would stand out in her own way. And despite knowing what he was looking for, it was still difficult to locate over the myriad of familiar and unfamiliar faces. 

Instead, he saw others. An Irishman whose name escaped him, but he'd surely seen in the reports coming down the pipe from the Frontlines after boss raids. Cordelia, who'd chosen to adorn herself in the very same red he'd avoided. Mari, the criminal he'd allowed to slip through his fingers, cavorting with some noob he swore he recognized from a much less hospitable tent the October before. There were others, too, but none that particularly caught his eye. What did, instead, was the food.

And wouldn't you know it? There she was. In the back of his head, he'd known he would find her there. Almost exactly how he'd pictured she would look, though it didn't stop her from stunning him. Even though they'd made their feelings toward one another clear, he always felt an almost childish nervousness creep into him when he saw her like this. He'd never be able to get over how naturally beautiful she was. And was that the ribbon he'd crafted for her, tying all of that hair together? He hadn't even thought of it being used at an event like this. It was nice, a bit flattering, and seeping in romantic nostalgia.

No need to be a dick about it.

He was a lucky man.

"Getting after the food already, huh? Guess I can't blame you. It's not like you can have things like this in Manderly. Not without burning down the kitchen, anyways," he gibed playfully as he approached from behind, slowly wrapping his arms around her waist and pulling her slim frame into his. "Better save some for me, though. I came with an appetite." 

Public displays of affection like this weren't usually something that Bahr was tuned into. He hadn't even stopped to consider whether Lessa would be comfortable with it. All he knew was that she looked gorgeous, and it didn't feel like he'd be able to keep his hands off of her. "You look beautiful," he remarked as he gently pressed his nose into her golden strands, feeling the familiar hints of lavender crawling their way into his nostrils. As much as he'd loved to have stayed like that, they were in public, and he couldn't allow himself to linger until things got awkward. So, reluctantly, his hands slipped away. "Did you submit anything to the 'Adventure Auction?' I'd hate for someone else to get a date with you. I'll bid as high as I've gotta."

@Lessa

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Minako thought for a second before catching the joke and chuckling. She didn't want to intrude, but at the same time she wanted to talk to the woman. Not to console her to anything like that, but just to keep her company. Perhaps it was selfish of her, wanting to absolve this feeling that she had by exploiting this stranger. To be honest, Minako really enjoyed the strangers dress. The vibrant orange almost matched her hair and brought out the color of her eyes fairly well. To say the woman wasn't a looker would be a lie. Which also meant that she was competition in the end. But Minako thought a bit more. She was waiting for someone, perhaps her boyfriend. But then she noticed the orange crystal dancing slightly above her head. She was a criminal in some regard, be it murder or just petty theft. She didn't seem to be carrying weapons on her person, least nothing Minako could make out immediately. And with Jomei nearby she really doubted that she'd be in any real danger.

"I didn't, sorry." Minako said, responding to the woman's name. "Minako." She said, fighting the urge to say the rest of her streamer ensemble. This was a formal event and she'd be damned if she made a fool of herself in front of these people. She scooted the chair out and sat down across from @Mari. Minako scooted back into the table, and politely waved the waiter away. "I don't really know. You were just alone, and so was I. So I figured I'd make the first move and say hi." Minako said, answering. Her tongue filled her cheek as she tried to figure out what to say next. What was it that people said in small talk? She was used to speaking to an audience, but not just a single person. Which probably would explain why she was currently single. "So, are you waiting on your boyfriend, or just another one of the girls?" Minako asked, trying her best to be less awkward than what she already was being.

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 Mari's eyes kept on shifting to the door. She wasn't sure what she was expecting or why she continually found her gaze lingering there. If anything she shouldn't be looking. Her eyes briefly caught Bahrs and Mari tensed. The last encounter she had with him had been...less than ideal. In all honesty she would have been okay with being his prisoner - she had accepted that. But all she did was quite possibly ruin his relationship with Macradon. Her doe-eyed gaze lowered to the floor, staring at the black polished shoes she wore. 'Why am I even here?'

Her eyes shot back up to the golden eyed woman as she sat in a chair opposite where Mari stood. "Minako." Mari repeated in an attempt to commit the name to memory. Mari set the champagne glass down on the table and idly ran her finger along the glass rim. "I see." Mari said at Minako's admission. It was...so simple. No devious lies, no malicious intent or ulterior motives. It was just a simple answer. Mari had to remind herself that's usually how the world was. "I appreciate the sentiment. Really." Mari's voice was soft, quiet, almost aloof. She wasn't good in situations like this. Things that just involved small talk. 

Mari picked up the glass and bought it to her lips.

"So, are you waiting on your boyfriend, or just another one of the girls?"

Mari immediately dribbled whatever liquid she tried to drink back into the glass with a cough. One would think she was a high schooler not a middle aged woman. But Mari was always terrible with her emotions. "Is the youth of today always so bold?" Mari muttered as she wiped the back of her hand over her mouth. "I'm....waiting on a few friends. But I'm not sure if they'll come."  Mari paused. They, where her friends. Right? She thought first of Macradon, always laughing and making jokes, putting on a brave face. Then of Baldur, strong and stalwart with amazing eyes that shifted like the ocean. Mari cleared her throat as her cheeks reddened.

"I don't have a boyfriend." She gave Minako a small smile. "But I didn't come here tonight looking for boyfriends or girlfriends. I just came for the food and to try and socialize at some level."

"Tell me, what would honor the lives lost, and the lives yet to be lost more. To seclude yourself, and avoid contact with the world, or push onwards, do better, and fight to save more lives?"

Mari's smile held a little more warmth as she turned her gaze back to Minako. "I wanna push onwards and do better, is all."

@Minako

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Minako held back a snicker as Mari coughed up whatever drink she had back into its glass. Minako nodded to Mari. "Yeah I think so. At least, I am. Well, getting better at it anyway. It beats being cooped up inside a room all day." Minako said, her head turning to watch the entrance alongside Mari. Minako spoke again. "I really have like, one friend. And I don't think she'll show up. She's much to gruff for all this fancy stuff. Frankly, I don't even know why I'm even here." Minako admitted, turning her attention to the laced tablecloth in front of her. "I mean, I came here with the hopes that some handsome suitor will sweep me off my feet and get me away from this world. Help me forget about all my problems. You know?" She said, before catching herself blushing as she admitted to what most likely sounded like a child's problem.

As Mari admitted that she wasn't looking for love, that somewhat raised Minako's spirits. Just maybe she still had her chance at love after all. But as Mari looked at her and shared what seemed like a warm smile, she felt something twinge inside her. Her words echoed in her mind.

"I wanna push onwards and do better, is all."

Hadn't Jevi told her the same thing once? Something like that at least. She couldn't remember the exact words, but she did know that a handful of expletives were used. Minako was an influencer, damn near a public figure and she had told so, so many people to buy this game. And how many were stuck in this game now, how many had died. All of them were her fault. If she hadn't advertised the game, then all those people wouldn't be dying here. She shook her head clear of those thoughts as she played with a strand of hair that danced on the side of her face.

Minako smiled back at Mari. "I want to do that too." Minako let the words hang in the air for a few moments before speaking again. "So, what have you been up to?" Minako asked. "Any cool adventures or stories or something of the like?" She asked, just wanting to exchange the, what she thought was pleasant, conversation.

@Mari

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There was only a half-hearted reason she'd attended. Well, maybe two. If it was enough for her to form a whole reason, perhaps it'd be enough for her conscience to allow her to stay. NIGHT hadn't exactly seen any of her friends around recently, but an event like this? It may catch their attention, and she wouldn't have to go around shooting messages to people. She'd already known how any events out of those would go, if her roping her info broker to a barbecue once was any indicator of her luck.

The event called for formal dress. Too bad she didn't have anything else on hand, so the suit she'd prepared for the wedding the other time would have to do. It wouldn't matter, though, for the most part. If her instincts were right, scouting from a distance wouldn't draw her much attention, but the outfit would help her blend in if she ever got caught. But still, there was something rather odd about being fully formal while posted to the middle of some shrubbery. It just didn't feel right. What she would give to don her adventuring gear instead.

Well, she reasoned for a moment with herself, at least if I were stuck in the bushes, I wouldn't be brushing shoulders with strangers and making a fool of myself.

Warily, she eyed the insides of the tent from a few metres away, finding herself looking in from the garden, behind a palm tree. Her back resting against its surface as she leaned against it, trying not to be seen. The warrior (well, now spy) was at least grateful for the transparency of the dining hall, allowing her to spot both attendees entering and leaving, and spectate the events within the event space. Maybe Bistro would get a kick out of doing this, she thought, pausing for a moment and wondering if she should drag her friend along again. But she figured otherwise, unable to imagine the player in question in anything but casual wear, holding back a snicker as she watched the newer entrees shuffle inwards. Well, I'm sure she'll appreciate the attempt anyways.

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After getting more portions and a punch to go along with his meal, Shinji sits back at his table and continues to munch away while enjoying the view outside, the breeze blowing through his hair like a fan throughout the meal.

Being mindful of other players though, he doesn't take more as soon as he finishes his meal and lets the waiter take his plate. With the punch in hand, Shinji stands up and stares ahead while drinking it to his fill. He keeps pondering his reason for being here. There is no one to meet or talk to, and the only things about the gala that piqued his interest are the food and the Sapphire Falls. It is a place where he thought he could sit down under the skies, enjoy the falls and just get lost in his own peaceful thoughts. But for some reason, instead of at least cheering him up a little, it makes him depressed.

Looking at the now empty glass, he goes to the punch bowl and refills his glass. While taking a sip he looks around him and notices that more people are coming in now. It won't be long before this place is getting packed, and he more or less know that he should probably get out and head to the fall's summit through the path adorned with pretty flowers. It is the only obvious path available as of now. Here's hoping that no one else is already at the summit...yet.

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Uugh I hate him for doing this, but a promise is a promise, I'll shell and try to enjoy myself. But it seems the man was alright he seems to be right about the same age and quite polite as well. He seemed interesting enough to talk to for sure so at one side I'm Happy that Yuuma left me alone now, However, I WILL get back at him for leaving me alone like this! So yeah small talk. It seems my question from my small panic got out and seemed to relax a bit. So it seems I was not alone with getting out of the house or at least out of my normal routine, but I was dragged and ordered by a stupid promise. "Well I'm okay, apart from that I wanted to level up and get stronger so I can go back to the real world faster but it seems like my friend got other plans for me so he got me here. Guess I did walk right into it myself, even got dressed for this without knowing what was going to happen." Saying this I looked at my own clothing a bit and tugged at the collar. Yep... Let's just say I got tricked, Guess that is one of my flaws is a bit oblivious to everything. "But Jomei, what has brought you to this event, To be honest. Well, I don't know what I'm doing here, I'm at complete lost what this event is about." I say honestly with a smile.

It was a bit weird, I never been to an event like this and was never meant to come here in the first place. "To think I got tricked by my friend to be here, I'll get back at him one day, but maybe I need to set up some rules for him about our promise," I said low to myself for a bit before turning back to Jomei. "So Jomei, You seemed like an interesting person, you also seem like you have some good experience for this game so far. If it is not out of the blue, May I ask what your level it?" I said a bit curious.

@Jomei

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