05.24.2013: Escape Into the Gardens
Summary: A trio of young nobles have a chance encounter at the Gardens of Erkwin after the melee tournament.
Date: 24 May 2013
Related: None
Ariana Nitrim Soleil 

Gardens of Erkwin
While the Arborenin may like their greenery wild and lush, the Gardens of Erkwin are carefully and precisely manicured, even if they are no less green for all the attention they have received at the clippers of gardening drones. Broad expanses of grass are trimmed to exactly the same height, grown to exactly the same verdant shade. Hedges are neatly clipped back into exacting shapes. Some form mythical creatures, others living statues of famous historical figures, and one section even rises in geometric patterns to create a hedge maze. Between the hedges and lining paths of crushed gravel are beds full of flowers from all over Imperius — and before that, from all over Old Earth.

As beautiful as the gardens are, however, all of the paths lead through them toward the stadium on the water's edge. A final parade of flags draws the attention of most onlookers up toward the bulbous blue shape of the stadium's half-roof, which is lit from within by the glow of the lights when a tournament is taking place or a soccer game being played.

24 May 3013

After a long day of tournament events and other such festivities, the crowd is only now beginning to wane and disperse, though there are many who still remain to trade tournament stories or simply mingle and drink as they filter out from the tournament grounds. Having finished tending to her sister's injuries, Lady Ariana Larent has finally found her way into the gardens as Veryna finishes off some business or other. Dressed in her House colors, the tall, statuesque young Lady is draped in a flowing gown dyed in a blend of cyan hues. Her long, pale blonde hair is drawn up into a fashionable updo and decorated with bows and ribbons, all in various shades of cyan: The House colors for Larent. Finally, finding some time for herself, she pauses in her steps to admire some of the beautiful flowers found within the garden, enjoying the cool night's air as she does so.

Nitrim Khournas was one of the faces not seen constantly in the stands in support of the tournament. In fact, he's been a hard man to follow throughout the entirety of the tourney, often slipping off to have a drink or disappear for hours at a time. Now that night has fallen, he's chosen the gardens as his shortcut path back to where his family likely is. His manner of movement through the relaxing gardens isn't suspicious, in fact, he's looking down into the data-store screen of a small camera he's brought with him. Quietly tapping through the pictures, he nearly runs into Ariana, but at the last second turns on his heel to glide past her shoulder. "Pardon me, My Lady…" He says to her, his voice a smokey mix of deep tones and one-too-many rolled cigars.

While her attentive eyes may have caught sight of Nitrim as he was making her way into her close vicinity, Ariana allows her gaze to drift, unknowingly to her, that he would alter his steps while preoccupied with his camera that the pair nearly collide into one another. That is, if the young man didn't save them both from such embarrassment at the very last minute. So in her surprise, she quickly turns to regard him with wide ice blue eyes, "My apologies. I should have been paying further attention." Noting the man's attire and perhaps clearly realizing that he is of one of the Paramount Houses, the Larent noblewoman immediately lowers herself into a sweeping curtsey, "Again, please accept my apologies."

Caught in his half-turn, Nitrim slows to drift his green eyes her way. A dimple forms in the corner of his cheek as he greets her with a polite smile and a nod of his head. More embarassed than anything, as it appears that his eyes are slightly glassed from having a few drinks that evening, a breathy chuckle crosses over his lips. "Oh, no, please there's no need. I should have assumed a Lady would be in the gardens and I wasn't watching where I was going. It was my fault." He tries to wrestle the blame from her, patting a hand palm-out into the air, as if to ask her to stop. His lips curl into a weak cringe. "Besides, I would have hated to bowl you over and ruin all of those entrancing decorations." A pause. "With whom do I have the pleasure?"

"Lady Ariana Larent from the moon of Nubilus." The tall, willowy blonde responds to the question, making her introduction. "I was here for the melee tournament earlier to support my Lady Sister who not only participated in the event, but won the entire thing." There are very few Larentian knights, so obviously the members of House Larent are proud of this victory. Still, her words come out in an even, rather matter-of-fact tone. "You are of House Khournas, My Lord? Or so I gathered from your attire."

"It's a shame I wasn't there to see it. You must be rather proud of your lady sister. I saw some of the feeds while I was out. She looked rather powerful out there, didn't she?" Nitrim replies, slipping the camera into the inner pocket of his jacket. As if to indicate that he's comfortable being in the gardens for a while, he slips the earbud from his ear as well, placing it into one of his pockets. When settled, he rested his hands behind his back and nodded softly to her. "Yes…I'm Lord Nitrim Khournas, brother to Michram, who as I understand is participating in the tourney to some degree though…" He trails off and flashes his white teeth to her in a broad, embarassed smile. "…I've been missing much of it. There's just so much to see, yeah?"

"Oh, of course, My Lord." Ariana says with a very light lift of her chin, "Where I come from, many rely far more on science and technology and have turned their backs on the Reversion, but with the blending of House Larent and Cindravale, where my Lady Mother is from, there are some of us who have come to embrace the pageantry of the Reversion. These tournaments especially." Pausing for a brief moment, she intones thoughtfully, "It is a pleasure to meet with you then, Lord Nitram. And yes, Lord Michram participated in the melee today as well. He came up against quite a difficult opponent." Another pause, "You did not watch your Lord Brother compete?" She then looks around the natural beauty of the gardens, her eyes set upon the path leading away from the tourney grounds, "You are right, however. I don't get much time to spend here at Landing, so while I am here, there truly is much to see or do before I return back to Nubilus."

Caught red-handed. Nitrim's lips part to reveal his teeth once again, but this time more so out of knowing full and well her question has placed him into an interesting situation. He /should/ have been there, shouldn't he have? The grimmace on his face fades into a polite smile while he scratches softly behind his ear.

"I believe that there is wisdom in your Lord Mother's vision, and /yes/ I believe these tourneys are important yet…" He motions to her, to the garden, and to the world beyond. "I wished my Lord Brother well this morning, and I will check on him soon. Perhaps you are a better sibling to your Lord Sister than I am to my Lord Brother, tending to her the way that you have /before/ slipping off to the gardens. Please don't think me thoughtless, merely drawn away. This was his day and not mine."

Ariana's steady gaze simply watches Nitrim as he explains his absence from the melee earlier. She doesn't look as if she is truly judging the man and in the end, she offers him a single nod for his reasoning. "I'm certain that your Lord Brother knew that you were there in spirit then. My Lady Mother would never dare allow us to miss such an event. Especially, not with Veryna participating. And to be honest, I am glad that I did not miss her victory today." She then adds in, with a mere hint of laughter in her voice, "I am a trained medic, My Lord. If I cannot care for my siblings in their time of need, then I am a failure to my House. Or so I would see. I did… remind Veryna that she should be glad to have a medically trained professional in the family."

"No doubt I'm sure she remembers." Nitrim eases away from the polite, straight-backed mannerisms of the court into something more relaxed and social. He smiles darkly to her and presses his finger to his temple and then points to her. "Consider this, Lady Ariana, perhaps it's the trust your sister puts in your abilities that gave her the confidence to win above all others today. Perhaps she knew that aside from all the dangers that you'd be there to tend to her and patch her up in time for Sunday's feast." His smile fades and he rocks back on his heels slightly, admiring the sights around them in the moonlit garden for their unchaperoned conversation. His sleepy eyes motion to the flowers. "Do you keep a garden at your home, Lady Ariana?"

Exiting the hedge maze come a trio dressed in a manner that helps to place them in the world— a single woman and two men. The fist man wears fine clothing in the Saveur colors, suggesting him a high ranking servant or courtier of some sort. The second wears a uniform in the same colors, and follows behind the woman. The woman is dressed in unrivaled finery, pearlescent greys and whites, the sweeping silk having the unostentatious distinction of real taste and finery, that needs not the pretense of overwrought embellishment. The whole affair has a sort of faint luminescence, like the moon itself, or like the light of it reflecting off of fog.

"When do you expect to return to him?" the young lady is asking of the courtier as they emerge. "I have something for him which I will not be able to take myself."

Ariana cannot help but gently arch a brow at some of which the young man says. His words even bring more than a mere hint of a smile to her lips, her words coming out in clear amusement, "I don't know about that part, but perhaps, you are right. I shall make certain to inquire with Veryna of this. Then again, she would never admit to such a thing, nor should she have to. Her victory today is most certainly due to her natural prowess and training. Why, the combatant whom she ended up fighting at the very end of the melee, was a man who she had told me, just earlier, that she did not feel comfortable about competing against. Sir Thallo." There is only a minor pause now, once her gaze flickers over and rests at the light Sauveur entourage who have now shown up to the gardens, though when she next speaks, her words are once more addressed to the Khouras nobleman, "Summit has quite a few many gardens. In fact, Nubilus, as a whole, is blessed with such natural beauty… have you been there before, My Lord?" Even as she speaks, she cannot help but peer over at the finely dressed young woman in the Sauveur's party. There was something oddly familiar about that one.

"No, no I haven't. Where I come from we don't have many such things. It's why I take pictures of them while I have the chance away." Nitrim replies with Ariana with a smirk, patting the breast of his coat over where he's stowed his camera. All the while he speaks, his eyes are casting a sidelong glance to Soleil and her entourage. He tries to place her, but in the dark it's rather hard to do. Out of practiced etiquette, just in case, he straightens his back and lowers his voice until Soleil is within earshot. "It…would appear I am not the only one using the gardens as a detour, would it?" He says quietly to Ariana and turns to face Soleil, accepting her as she approaches.

An expert lip reader might be amused at Soleil's shapely lips and what muttered word they form when her gaze sweeps over toward the others present, and land on Ariana. It's not really a word lovely ladies in extravagant evening gowns are supposed to utter in moonlit gardens.

Instead of greeting Ariana, whom she may know it seems, and her companion, the young lady turns fully to the courtier, who is looking at her oddly. maybe he heard the muttered word. "Come to my apartments at 7 am before you leave, I'll have someone meet you there with father's gift. And mind you be careful with it, I was going to use the money for a Summer house on Nubilus." It's a delicate way of hinting that the 'gift', whatever it is, is worth more than a poor courtier's life. It's also her way of dismissing him.

She waits until he is gone, and then slowly turns back to face Ariana. No, one can't just glide by and pretend not to have seen the couple.

Unblinkingly, Ariana sets her gaze fully upon Soleil now, meeting the woman's gaze when the other looks her way. She wears just a ghost of a smile on her lips the entire time as she considers certain things in silence. "Your words ring true, My Lord." She says, half-turning to the man now, allowing him her full attention for the brief moment. "Then again, who doesn't love a well-maintened garden. Though, it is unfortunate that your own home lacks such natural beauty. There must be something that makes up for a lack of greenery there?" Even as she says this, she takes a single step forward following Nitrim's lead, she extends some friendly words in the direction of the mysterious Sauveur, "It is a lovely night isn't it, My Lady?"

"It has its features but none yet that have given me reason to give up travel. There's little mystery in home." Nitrim says in response to Ariana, his lidded eyes laughing just a little at the mischief behind his words. Yet still, away from all of the glamour and need-to-be-seen of the tourney, he finds himself at a disadvantage and approaches Soleil with an interesting tactic. He doesn't address her as if she's known to him, which she isn't. He doesn't suggest through his mannerisms that he's not addressing her either. Instead, since Ariana's already addressed her, he steps alongside his conversation partner and smiles to Soleil with bright teeth gleaming over his goatee. "Yes, is it? It would appear we've all converged here haven't we?"

"Hmm. What a happy accident," the newcomer says with a peculiar trace of irony as she looks at Ariana. It's not maliciousness that seems to taint the smile on her lips. If she weren't so obviously well-bred and possibly high born, one might almost think it's…trepidation. She watches Ariana far more closely than Nitrim, barely giving the other youth more than a glance until a new tactic suddenly dawns on her, and suddenly Nitrim is receiving /all/ her attention. It's as if it cuts the awkwardness. "I prefer gardens at midnight. One can see the bioluminescenses, and the sun shows every flaw."

Even as they both approach the newcomer now, Ariana regards Nitrim with a side-glance when she makes a response to one of his statements, "I wish I had the time to travel, myself, but I spend most of my time at the science Academy and my work in the science labs on the Ring. There's always so much to do, so much to take in. Especially, with the arrival of the recovered Hostile pod that was sent to the Ring." Perhaps it is the other woman's odd smile that finally gets her to remembering someone she had known in her past. Still, her soft features remain mostly neutral, even that quiet smile on her own lips. "I do recall another young Lady who had spoken those exact same words before…"

"Perchance to accidentally come upon /this/ garden at midnight no less, the bioluminescence of the flowers is rather…shall we say…overt this evening." Nitrim replies formally, a wily look to his eyes and at the corner of his mouth. He knows the colors, but would do well to not point out any missteps in deceit before he knows for sure.

Nitrim steps aside and motions to the flowers where Ariana was just browsing. "May I introduce you to fascinating Lady Ariana Larent from the moon of Nubilus. She, too, has come to the gardens for the view." The room between him and Ariana is enough for Soleil to pass through. "And I am Lord Nitrim Khournas. With whom do we have the pleasure?"

"Yeah? No, doubt it," The refined young lady says to Ariana, in a not very refined manner. "I used to think flaws were great. Went to pains to shine a light on E-V-E-R-Y one of them." The young lady seems to come to grips with the fact that there's not much she can do when, having run across an old acquaintance, the time comes to be remembered. So she brings it all back for Ariana, with an old tone of voice, an old, casual disregard for form and manner. "Especially yours."

She moves between the two, making her bodyguard uneasy. Her manner becomes formal, elegant again. "Soleil Saveur. Prince Rennic is my father." Making the king her uncle.

Just watching the young woman's very mannerism has already stirred several memories within Ariana's mind, so before Soleil even comes to heads with this introduction, the Larent noble already has a clear picture of where she had known this other before. In fact, the smile upon her lips brightens somewhat when Soleil makes mention of her name, "It has been a long while, My Lady, since you were whisked away from Nubilus shortly after Lord Keanen's glider accident. I must say, that this is definitely quite the flattering change for you." Turning to Nitrim now, she explains, "Lady Soleil spent time on Nubilus in our youth, but this change in rather amazing, I think."

Nitrim delivers to Soleil a rather styled bow of his head in honor of her name and family, on she's sure to receive rather often in social circles. Never mind the slight glassing of his eyes, likely due to the few drinks he's had before crossing through the garden and running into Ariana, it hasn't diminished his ability to know his place in the social hierachy. Instead, he takes a different approach.

He gives Soleil a sidelong, quiet look and scratches his jaw. Accidental run in? Suitor? Bioluminescence? He has the look about him of one who's often slipped away from propriety. They can /all/ smell their own. "Well met, My Lady. I don't believe I saw you walk into the garden with an escort, and so as I take my leave in a moment I will offer my services to ensure you return safely. The dark is known to expose far more than flaws."

He turns to Ariana and tries to bull-rush over his statement that Soleil wasn't escorted to change the subject as slyly as he can, motioning for her to walk with them towards the exit. "So please, tell me Lady Ariana. If you were my Lord Brother and I missed your performance in the melee. Would you surely believe I was there in spirit, or should I perhaps return with a gift?"

"It's all just so much facade," Soleil says, a little needled. Evidently she does not like to be the victim of comparisons between former and present selves. "My cousin was gracious enough to bring me back into the fold of family affection, and so now I serve her as her lady in waiting. One can't represent Princess Janelle wearing artfully rent dresses and too much mascara." Regal of bearing, dressed like the princess's own outfitted her— and yet the attitude is still there, an edge as razor sharp as the cruelest blade.

Soleil inclines her head to Nitrim. "Yes, I am expected back at my apartments so I suppose…" She glances at her bodyguard, who falls behind to give way to more fitting escort.

Ariana cannot help but watch this change that seems to have overcome the old Soleil whom she had known. Even if it were not her particular doing, the Larent does take some pride in the fact that Soleil looks to be a changed woman, even if her personality doesn't seem to be completely altered. "Princess Janelle is such a wise woman." She compliments in that level manner of hers, "But I do digress, you look wonderful." Ice blue eyes simply watch as Soleil retreats back into the darkness where she had crawled out from, so now the young Larent returns her full attention to the Khournas Lord, offering him a polite smile, her posture straight, chin lifted lightly when she makes her response, "I would say… go with the gift, My Lord." Her own entourage waits near the archway back towards the tournament grounds where the remainder of her House now waits. "It has been a lovely evening, Lord Nitrim of House Khournas." She even lowers herself into a sweeping curtsey once more, "Perhaps, we shall meet again and you can tell me all about these beautiful pictures which you take. I do have a soft spot for objects of beauty." And with that, she gracefully pivots on her heels, making her own departure into the night.

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