07.19.3013: A Veiled Invitation
Summary: Ariana invites Cynan to Nubilus to discuss current events. Though, there is another reason for this invitation.
Date: 19 July 2013
Related: Has to do with A Question of Marriage
Ariana Cynan 

Courtyard Gardens — Summit, Nubilus
The Sky Palace's Courtyard Gardens are a vast, artistic display that circle the entire exterior of the palace. Nearly sixty feet in width, the open-air gardens are lined with a central walkway of polished white marble that leads off into tributaries that bring visitors before the many showcased pieces of art. Making good use of the atmosphere, the gardens are also accented with the soft ringing of wind-chimes and the slow spinning of double-helix wind turbines high above the walkways that provide power and motion to the devices that keep the gardens running. Tall banners depicting the crest of House Larent flap in the sky in streamers of white and blue, each blowing softly in the soft winds of Nubilus. Each section, spaced apart like a grid, is expertly spaced with benches for sitting and railings to keep visitors off of the more sensitive flora and fauna. Lastly, at the Courtyard Garden's northern quarter is a large, grass covered park with a small man-made lake for visitors to enjoy. Some of the flora of the gardens have been artificially crafted — bioluminescent lilies, carnivorous roses, and the like are just some of the chimeric species.

At the major cardinal directions, grand stairways lead up to equally grand doors that lead into the Palace. This only continues to elevate the palace above the rest of Summit, making it the central edifice of the cloud-encompassed city.

19 July 3013

Having sent out word to Lord Cynan Dalton to come and meet with her at her home on Nubilus, the youngest child of the Larent mainline ensures the Lord's safe travel to Sky Palace as a couple of escorts wait for the man at the waygate. Not exactly a formal invite, a banquet table filled with various pastries and fruits and drinks has been set up in the norther quarter of the gardens, just besides the man-made lake. The time is set in the mid-afternoon and the air is quite chilly, which seems normal anywhere within the cloud encompassed moon.
Ariana, herself, is dressed in a white gown with gold trim. The gown is cut in a modest, yet fashionable style and her hair is drawn up into an impeccable glamorous bun. As she waits for her guest, she is speaking on her comm, all the while reading up on some news report that was sent to her on her tablet. Attentively, her ice blue eyes are cast out in the distance as she multitasks, though already a message comes through to her earpiece announcing the Dalton Lord's arrival. So patiently she waits.

It's an informal invitation, granted, but Cynan evidently still takes the visit to Summit at least somewhat seriously. He's dressed for the occasion in a long-sleeved, burgundy doublet, neatly tailored, the sun symbol of House Dalton standing out quite prominently against the background. Apparently his own escort has been left behind on Inculta, as the Knight arrives alone, giving a polite nod to the pair of escorts and tilting his head for them to lead him along.
Minutes later, he arrives at the Sky Palace and spots the youngest Larent almost instantly, acknowledging her first with a short, polite bow. "A very pleasant evening to you, Lady Ariana," he says, soft words carrying through the air. In another moment, he's on one knee in front of her - not terribly difficult, given that they're about the same height - and reaching out to take one of her hands in his. "You have my thanks for extending such a kind invitation."

Ariana is certainly tall for a woman; her willowy physique would detract from how imposing a figure she would cut, however, her somewhat cold countenance merely adds to this. A ghost of a smile forming on her lips when she finally notes Cynan's arrival, she lowers her head humbly to the Lord, just as he kneels before her and takes her hand in his. She does seem pleased by this act of formality, her eyes lighting up as she observes the man's actions. "It is a pleasure to be able to meet with you again, as well, My Lord of Dalton. I'm certain that there is a lot to speak about. I'm almost surprised that you are not in attendance of Lord Sir Nikomachos' bachelor party this evening."

"The pleasure is all mine, milady." Cynan's lips press into the back of Ariana's hand for just a moment, his touch a bit on the cooler side, before he straightens back up. He's not a terribly imposing figure either, really, muscular but not overly so, and there's a bit of… not quite humility, but deference in the way he stands before her. "I respect Lord Sir Nikomachos," he says, "but I cannot say I know him terribly well. Besides, I thought I might choose a somewhat quieter sort of evening." Lips curl upward in a little grin. "Surely there is. To what do I owe the honor of your invitation?"

Ah, humility. Despite Ariana's show of deference in regards to nobility, it is more than clear that she is a woman with a lot of pride and vanity. This can be seen by the way she carries herself about with her head held high with a well-practiced grace. Though not normally one for any sort of physical contact, if she can help it, this formal greeting is one of the few things which she does whole heartedly allow. The smile on her lips tugs a little wider, looking all the more pleasant upon her features. "Do you know, My Lord, that such a greeting almost feels like a forgotten art form." She then gestures for him to follow her towards the banquet table, adding in, "So I am always impressed when I have the pleasure of actually seeing the greeting done in person. I know, it sounds strange, but it's something which I have noted. Please, feel free to partake of our refreshments. There's wine and various blends of tea and juices. As well as light pastries and fruits of all sorts grown here on Nubilus." A nod in agreement is made when she intones, "I felt the same way with Lady Sir Ellinor, really. And that said, how are you finding Summit? I must say that I was quite surprised by how delightful that I've found Inculta myself. I mean, I was a little cautious of the heat, but the beauty of your glistening sands and the skies at night do truly make your moon out to be quite the gem." A pause, "Ah, my invitation. I was merely hoping to touch base with you and to see what work has kept you busy. The last I spoke with you was at that military meeting was that time before the military meeting for the Orelle Vassals. My, what a delight that meeting was." Is that a hint of sarcasm there.

"Suffice to say that I take the art of etiquette quite seriously, Lady Ariana." Cynan hesitates for only a very polite moment, smile growing almost imperceptibly wider, before turning toward the refreshment table and following Ariana over. To begin with, he takes a little pastry and a little bite of same. "Might I add," he says, between bites, "that your hospitality is particularly exquisite. I daresay I should find the opportunity to visit Nubilus more frequently, hmm?" Bite, and it's gone as he turns to face her. "You know, the very name of Detritus is somewhat of a deception - a tongue-in-cheek expression, if you will. It is a particularly beautiful city, set into an equally beautiful landscape. Though I find sunsets among the clouds here to be /almost/ as breathtaking as those over the deserts of Inculta." Even when the conversation moves to a slightly less entertaining topic, his lips stay locked in a polite, fairly genuine smile. "Said meeting was particularly… illuminating, if nothing else." Pause. "Military matters have occupied a great many of my thoughts of late… but it seems that we have a few more days of respite, at least." His eyes leave hers for a moment to drift up to the sky. "They do say that war is ninety-nine percent boredom and one percent pure terror."

Taking up a small handful of grapes herself, Ariana quietly nibbles on the fruit and once she notices that Cynan has his own array of refreshments, she gently leads him closer towards the lake, so that they both can admire its beauty and watch the swans swim by amidst an array of genetically enhanced lilypads so that their flowers glow vibrantly. "I was born to be a good hostess and socialite, My Lord. So I have to ensure that everything is in place and perfect." She then listens with care when the name of the Dalton's Seat is brought up and she does have to speak in agreement, "Ah yes, the Inculta sunset. I must admit that something so simple was one of the greatest highlights of our visit to your moon." She obviously speaks for all of her friends who visited with her too. "Here, on Summit, you wake up to the vision of clouds. It's both serene and heavenly in a way." While Ariana seems like the type who relishes in gossip and frivolous chatter, she seems to take some interest in the more pressing matters such as military movements and the like. "With the recent return of our navy just days ago, I've been kept busy at the medical center on the Ring. It's the most I can do to help with our naval forces… until my Lord Father finally grants me permission to train as a field medic, that is." When she speaks this, there is just a hint of coldness in her tone, but that soon returns to something more friendly after a few passing seconds, "I've been continuing my research on some of the Hostile tech that was brought in, basically the pod in the Arborenin woods. We're piecing things together slowly, but what is found does prove interesting at the very least."

Cynan is more than happy to follow Ariana over to the lake, though it seems he's run out of refreshments by the time they get there. No matter, though, as his pale blue eyes are quite content to drink in the beauty of the waters, the glowing lilipads and the swimming swans. "I am quite impressed with your hosting this evening. As I was, if I may say so, at your handling of the mild… unpleasantness during your previous visit to Detritus." His smile doesn't get any smaller, but his lips press together just a bit and the expression seems to harden slightly. "It seems that you had no trouble making the best of the situation, and that you found yourself actually enjoying the evening. That is the product of wisdom, I think." That smile softens for a moment, but tightens up again in short order. "Likewise, the dedication with which you pursue helping the war effort is quite impressive, Lady Ariana. Though I am certain that your noble father has his reasons to delay your training. Besides, you are moving into a betrothal, are you not? I would be remiss if I did not offer my congratulations on that." Eyes flicker upward for a moment. "And, of course, I have a great deal of interest in whatever you have found regarding the Hostile technology."

As she was merely skirting the incident on Inculta when she brought up the sunset, Ariana offers Cynan an almost apologetic smile when the issue in full comes into play, "My apologies for the misunderstanding that occurred there. Some of my peers did not go into that visit as a formal one and, I suppose, one can say that they were alarmed at being made to stay. But, in the end, I think we all had a lovely evening, nevertheless. No matter your tastes, even some of my… restless of peers found something of interest." Reliving the situation at Inculta does little to agitate and her features remain all the more pleasant when she speaks of it. To what more Cynan says, Ariana notes, "I sometimes find myself reminding my fellow noble peers that we need to grow up and grow up quickly, especially in the wake of the Hostile invasions. I believe that some of them haven taken my words to heart." This is quite the fib, but she speaks of it as convincingly as she can. However, when her own betrothal is brought up, much of that pleasantness is frozen on her features like a mask and she blinks quickly. "My does word travel fast… But yes, a contract is being finalized as we speak, more than likely. What of yourself, My Lord. Has any young Lady caught your eyes?… Or the eyes of your family?" No longer off her guard, she allows herself to smile towards the man, but when talks of the Hostile technology is touched upon, she is more than happy to share her findings. "Our findings it not about the tech, itself, but there was some sort of biological goo that was plastered all over the interior of the Arborenin pod. That gel-like substance is actually a synthetically generated nutrient gel filled with proteins, carbohydrates and fats. It's believed that the Hostiles hibernate while surrounded by this substance, allowing them to survive a long period of stasis."

"Like sand blowing across the desert is the mere memory of that evening by now, Lady Ariana. As I said, I am merely pleased that it was resolved and that you and your friends were able to enjoy the evening accordingly." As the tale continues, he even lets out a little, low chuckle and dips his head in a little nods. "You have a fair degree of wisdom for one so young, if I may say so. Light willing, some of it will rub off on your companions, hmm?" He's still chuckling, but it grows softer and softer when the conversation meanders into the topic of betrothals. "Word always travels quickly, does it not? Exceptionally so, in some cases." It's almost a relief to talk about the matter of the Hostiles, bizarre though that may seem, and he listens intently, leaning a little closer as the young Larent speaks. "Mmmm. A sort of ration for them, then? A source of sustenance while they remain dormant? Interesting." There's a long pause, and finally he's willing to answer the question directly. "Knowing the Lady Dalton," he begins, "I am certain that her eyes are always open." He half-turns to one side to let his gaze meet Ariana's directly. "But I would not say I am particularly moving in that direction at present. My work keeps me very occupied."

Oh, Ariana does look a tiny bit skeptical at the very idea that her own maturity and drive will rub off on her peers, but she does muse, "For the sake of our generation, I truly hope that your words hold truth. I mean, Lady Soleil's own betrothal was announced most recently. That certainly was a pleasant surprise. Perhaps she is growing into her own now." Though even she knows that the true story is far different from that ideal. Her eyes watch the Dalton Lord with her full attention as this topic on betrothals continue and even moreso when the subject changes to the Hostile findings once again. "That is correct. While, at first, the idea of such being hibernating sounded a little disturbing as if they were some insect like creature bursting out of an egg or pouch… then I do recall that this is exactly how each of us are brought into the world as well. Still, it makes them seem all the more alien." Perhaps as an afterthought, she returns to look upon her guest just as she suggests, "How goes your training, My Lord? With my Lady Sister and Lord Brother needing to continue to hone their skills for war, perhaps we can see about working together on this. That is, if you can even find the time for a bit of a sparring match or even discussions on strategies against our foe. You have met with my noble siblings, have you not?"

"Pleasant indeed. I cannot say I know Lady Soleil terribly well, but I have come to know Lord Nitrim somewhat in these past several weeks. I wish him… them both… the very best, of course." Cynan's smile grows just a little bit wider, though it's a slightly forced one, the brief furrowing of his brow betraying just a hint of skepticism under the veneer of approval. It's gone in a few moments, though, replaced by his typically cool expression as the conversation returns to the matter of the war. "That is an intriguing way to look at it, Lady Ariana. It speaks into some of the questions we have pondered over the centuries, regarding the origin of the Hostiles themselves. Let us not forget that there were humans on the Fifth World prior to the first System War." Now, that's an unsettling thought, one that the Knight banishes presently by shaking his head. "As busy as ever, of course. Now that I have seen the Hostiles firsthand, I am all the more motivated to perfect my swordsmanship. The next time I face one on the battlefield, I will be all the more ready." An eyebrow quirks upward. "I have met your siblings at some point, of course, but the only one I believe I have seen recently is Young Lady Veryna. I trust she is well?" Pause. "I would welcome the opportunity to spar with a Knight of her caliber."

Ariana is a little surprised by Cynan's revelation that he knows Nitrim, "Oh? I mean, the tabloids aside, I'm a little surprised that you would know him all that well. Then again, Lord Nitrim gets around." The corner of her lips tugs into a very faint smirk at her little joke, "He has many a contact practically everywhere. However, he has taken steps on bettering himself by squiring to the Grantham, so hopefully, this is yet another step in the right direction for him." What could go wrong! Her head nods quickly now as she takes in this conversation on the Hostile, "One of my cousins is doing some research on a cryptic code that was found on the database, I believe, of one of their ships. I'm afraid, I'm not too knowledgeable regarding this, but would you by chance know anything about ancient languages? Or maybe you would know someone who would. At this point, I believe with all of the electronical expertise, Lord Densoric is stuck until he can locate someone who may be able to decipher this alien transmission, which he said, all he knows about is that it's an ancient language of our own people." On the topic of Veryna, however, Ariana offers a brilliant smile, "Wonderful, My Lord. It's always a good idea to keep our knights and soldiers on their toes. And yes, My Lady Sister is doing well enough and despite the ongoing Hostile threat, she seems to be in high enough spirits, though she knows the gravity of all of our situations."

"He certainly does," Cynan replies, without so much as a hint of laughter at the unsaid implications of such a statement. "He visited Detritus not so long ago, and we encountered one another on the Ring on multiple occasions. And perhaps most significantly, he was at my side when we fought at Niveus." A little nod at that. "Sir Flint is a good Knight, and a good man at that. I can think of few better to take on a squire such as Lord Nitrim, and I believe he has some degree of talent. The adversary that fell at his feet would very likely agree." /That/ brings just a hint of a smirk to Cynan's lips. "Ancient languages," he replies, with a little nod. "It is possible that someone among the Servants of Light has studied them in detail - history is among the disciplines that is valued on Inculta - but I do not know of anyone in particular. My apologies, but I will be sure to keep an eye and an ear open for a suitable expert." The Knight returns Ariana's smile at the mention of sparring. "That it is. That Young Lady Veryna remains in such high spirits is a testament to her strength of character." Left unsaid is the question of whether she's yet seen the Hostiles firsthand.

Again, Ariana looks just a tiny bit surprised upon hearing this tale of Nitrim on Inculta but she seems to be soaking up all of this information like a sponge. "Lord Nitrim seems to have many sides. Many faces. One day, you think you know him, the next… well, he's such a chameleon. I don't know what will come of his squiring if he is to live with the Sauveur rather than the Grantham. In fact, I may inquire on that with him the next we meet." Dusting her hands off daintily after the last of her grapes is eaten, the young woman looks somewhat hopeful at the Dalton's words, "I will greatly appreciate if you would be able to assist in this matter, My Lord. If you do find someone so knowledgeable, do let me know. My Lord Cousin and I are uncertain as to what will be found in this coded message, but if there's even a slim chance that it would be helpful to us, we will need to do all we can to solve this riddle before us." Though they just had a light meal, Ariana does announce, "While you are here, My Lord… I would be honored if you would care to stay over for dinner? We can speak more on this matter of sparring and perhaps, just maybe, my Lady Sister will make an appearance… if she can find the time to even eat." Not expecting her guest to refuse such a gracious offer, she continues her discussion with the young Lord as she leads the way into the Sky Palace.

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