Dec 09, 2018 6:56 PM
Libby as Cinderella, with Revan as Prince Charming
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Riseth casually assesses the ballroom. It's a lot of the usual suspects, but many have taken the opportunity to formally present themselves (and their various agendas) at court. The theme of this Winter's Ball seems to be, "The prince is still single; entice him with many pretty girls." As such, there are many pretty girls, all in suitably expensive pretty dresses. All trying to flirt with him. It helps keep the night interesting, at least. By this point, he's almost a little bit bored of figuring everyone out. Lord Ozire has a doomed business venture that he's trying to convince other people to help fund, which is going about as well as can be expected. He's pretty sure Lady Tasne is not actually attracted to men, but the poor girl's brother keeps trying to help, so someone should go distract him to get her some space. This other lovely young woman wants to marry the prince, but she'd be better off with this lord over here. Riseth can't directly introduce her because she'll get the wrong idea about his intentions, so he needs to quietly ask someone else to suggest it for him—

On and on it goes. It's a busy night. Parties like these are usually busy nights, spent cheerfully bouncing around the ballroom like some kind of incredibly friendly hyperactive squirrel that keeps popping up to solve problems and make pleasant small talk. He does not precisely want to be king, but no one will let him pass the crown to his sister and go tromp through the wilderness, so. He's going to do the best he can. If he plays his cards right, he won't even be a bad one. Clearly he's good at some king related things. Not all of them, granted. He needs to make sure that being pinned to his crown and country like a butterfly to a board won't kill him or drive him mad, which is probably not the sort of problem he'd have if he were ideal king material.

Oh well. He'd work with what resources were available, and play to his strengths as much as possible. He's good at that. Maybe, if he's very lucky, he'll be able to find a partner that can keep him from snapping and running into the wilderness to live like a wild man before the age of thirty.

For right now, though, he'd just like to make sure he's met everyone he doesn't know at this ball. Is there anyone he's missed?

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It doesn't look like it—

 

But there's a sudden stir over by the north balcony, and a girl steps into the room between billowing curtains.

Long dark skirts swirl about her feet, sewn with a scattering of tiny diamonds that gleam like stars. On the interstellar silk, a subtle iridescence draws the eye to chase shifting colours across that dark expanse - is it blue, black, green, red, purple? In the time it takes to identify one colour, another takes its place. Then, above the stars, her shining white bodice is decorated with irregularly shaped black pearls in a pattern that mirrors the starry skirt, dense at the waist and sparse along the shoulders. More pearls glimmer from her hair, dark against the dark strands.

That balcony overlooks thirty feet of sheer cliff. She can't have come in that way, unless it was by magic. But here she is nonetheless, and it's clear that no one else has seen her before either. Someone steps up to ask her name, but she offers only an enigmatic smile.

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...

Okay, he's intrigued.

He could go immediately attempt to talk to her, but he suspects that making a beeline for the pretty girl that just showed up would insult some of the other pretty girls present. Instead, he pretends not to have noticed her entrance. He'll figure out a way to learn what her deal is organically, without anyone freaking out and going, 'Oh no the prince is being seduced by a stranger, everybody panic!' Until then, he can just subtly keep an eye on her and see what she does.

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She dances. With remarkable elegance and grace. And never says a word to anyone, but somehow manages to charm them anyway.

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That's interesting.

Is she just being casually charming at everyone, or is she aiming her silent charm at specific individuals, with some kind of strategy?

(Like what he's doing.)

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Kind of hard to tell. There's no immediately obvious pattern, and since she never talks she has fewer opportunities to engage in the kind of social maneuvering he's been up to. Maybe she's just getting to know people. Or figuring out who she wants to dance with.

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Hmm.

He is willing to be patient to see if he can see a non-obvious pattern. Clearly something weird is going on here. She's probably figured out that he's the prince, and if she hasn't she probably will soon enough, is she not going to attempt to fling herself at him? Not even a little?

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There is absolutely no flinging going on here! She is having one-sided conversations in which she listens charmingly to people, dancing with most of the men who ask her, and...

...she just glanced over, met his eyes, and raised her eyebrows slightly. So maybe noticing him watching her is also a thing she's been doing.

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He resists the urge to snort with laughter. Oh, damn, maybe the prince is about to be seduced by the silent stranger. He already likes her.

Smiling slightly, he tilts his head slightly forward. Well, you're the one who showed up at the party without an invitation, you think I wouldn't notice?

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She gives him an acknowledging sort of smirk, and then someone else comes up to ask her to dance and she turns her attention to them.

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Well, clearly now he has to go talk to her. He drifts towards a set of terribly curious people that are bound to ask him to go investigate the ball's most mysterious guest. Predictably, they prompt him to go investigate. That combined with his own patience gives him all of the cover that he thinks he'll need to prevent any kind of social drama. ... Well. Any kind of accidental social drama. He may or may not cause some on purpose, at some point.

"May I have this dance?"

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She smiles and nods.

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He leads her gently by the hand to the dance floor.

"So," he says, casually, "did you happen to recently meet a mysterious old woman?"

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She declines to answer. Unless you count that smile.

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He absolutely counts that smile.

"And I suppose offering to get you paper and a pen wouldn't be following the spirit of the whole affair."

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"Can't blame a man for trying. So you can't speak at the ball, at least. Are there other tasks you need to complete?"

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This time the smile says 'don't worry about it, I have everything under control'.

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Damn that's an attractive smile.

"Yes ma'am," he agrees, smiling back.

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She grins the grin of someone who very much approves of that reaction.

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He's totally getting seduced by the mysterious stranger. Or, well. He likes the mysterious stranger immediately and intensely and not in an entirely platonic fashion.

"Well then," he says, "is there anything I can help you with?"

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Smirk; eyebrow-raise.

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And now it's his turn for a smirk.

"Happy to be of service."

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She laughs.

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"So once this ball is over, are you planning to disappear?"

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She manages a slight, wry shrug between steps.

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