Arriving in Immoren - Forgileill
Forgilleil found herself alone. She peered into the darkness through the branches of the wood or forest she was in and noted the position of the stars through the branches of the trees. They were not one’s she recognised. Still a little disorientated from the teleport spiral, she sat down where she was. She waits for it to pass, waits for the others to show up. An hour passes. Nothing happens and nobody comes and so she moves off, pausing to note the changes in position of the stars in relation to the branches when she was stood on the same spot. So, she knew which way the sky revolved, even if she didn’t yet know north from south or morning from evening.
Cautiously Forgilleil moves through the trees like a shadow. She halts, looking out to a road and sees many carriages drawn by fine horses. She has come out very close to a wide gravel drive leading to some kind of small palace or large house. She carefully moves around to the side of house to see people alighting from the coaches to enter the large many windowed building. She even sees an elven noble arrive in tasteful black coach drawn by black horses. She knows the badge of the Carach Angren, who are the only elves on Oerick who would travel so. And their tell tale give away was not on that carriage.
There are lots of humans moving about. Many liveried servants coming and going, some of whom were obviously bought in for this event, as they kept having to ask others for advice and instruction. With more than adequate cover, Forgilleil sneaks close enough to listen (past the guards). To her delight the are actually speaking Cygnaran. So the plan, in part at least, is working so far. She realises that there is a chance that the others have also come out in places where Kelkess Raccoba has visited before. But she cannot afford to spend time considering their fate or fates. She has to watch her own back.
She quickly resolves to gatecrash the noble’s ball. It will be fastest way to get information about where they are and if anybody has seen Raccoba. Strangely, the guests all obscure their faces with masques on sticks or tied lightly about the face. This makes Forgilleil’s task that bit easier, however, she must be aware that there may be magical screening to identify the malignantly motivated or plain uninvited.
Forgilleil spent an hour timing the patrols of the men-at-arms who maintained a steady but unimaginative perimeter about the building. When the time is right, she breaks in through an entrance on the third storey. There are double doors on a balcony, easing the locks open, Forgilliel finds self in bedroom of a ‘princess’. She notes trunks and travelling cases – guests then, rather than a permanent resident. Used to the idea of noblewomen having a choice of gowns laid out for big occasions, she searches for a dressing room. Swiftly she undresses and puts on a lavender ball gown, stashes own kit under a chaise long and dons the exquisite half masque and other accessories that go with the gown.
Cautiously, she goes down to join party, is mistaken for the other girl by serving maid, who curtsies and calls her “Miss Evlin”. Taking courage, Forgilliel makes a suitably subtle entrance to a ball fully underway. Straight away she marks the three sections of the ballroom itself. Her eyes mark the guest’s doors and the concealed but not hidden entrances used by the serving staff. She takes in details – certain liveries and emblems – the type of person wearing those badges, the type of persons here. She thought she could identify arcane spell users, divine spell users and warrior types as well as lechers, bores, merchants, n’erdowells and politicians as well as the usual schemers, dreamers and so on. If Klekess Raccoba was here, it was just a matter of time before she found him.
Aside from the obvious masques, the fashion here was not what she was used to. The ladies wore low cut gowns the emphasised their form. The gentlemen wore tailored coats and (in some cases, remarkably) tight fitting trousers. All were bedecked with jewellery. The place was lamp lit and the halls themselves were generously gilded, with many large mirrors reflecting the light. The whole place glittered and sparkled. And at first glance, so did the people. Smiling occasionally and subtly quartering the assembled masses, she catches the name of host (Duke Kielon Ebonheart IV), location of party (somewhat preposterously “Dragon House” ), nearest city (Corvis) and rank order of some of the guests (all appear to be the host’s vassals or leigemen).
No-one appeared to pay her any unusual attention. She sees many laughing faces under elaborate masques, powdered wigs and so on. All teeming of woodsmoke, sweat and perfume in the ball room, quite strong to Forgilleil’s non-human sense of smell. Masqued lords and ladies dance and mill about. The crowd at the edge of the main floor (scene of the orchestrated dances) is thicker and affords good cover to someone wanted to move about in a more clandestine manner. Seeing a fair amount of what appears to be surreptitious physical contact, she notes reactions, gauging it to be impolite, but quite possibly what a masqued ball is all about. She deftly avoids one grope and breezes on, just catching the amazement of the man who does end up on the receiving end.
A distinguished looking older man, with a sombre air and a great many jewelled medals and chains sees her and the flicker of a smile touches the corner of his mouth. He takes her hands in his “Miss Solor, I’d guess. There is no-one else with your beauty and grace at my ball. But of course, we’re masqued, pray forgive me.”
She curtsies, quite deeply as she as seen others in the ball doing, hardly full obedience, she thought, but it’d do. “Your Grace, please call me Evlin.”
Momentarily, she meets the gaze of the elf in black. His sensuous mouth purses as he regards her from behind his black, hawk like masque. His eyes hold hers for one long moment and then, knowing that she was watching his eyes, he casually let his gaze drop down her entire body. Not just flicking a glance, he took his time. She almost felt that he was undressing her. In her minds eye she sees wings folded behind him, her mouth feels dry and she can feel herself blushing. She blinks and he is lost in the crowd once more.
Opportunities to elicit more information are neglected. Raccoba is forgotten as she composes herself and quickly reverts to Gwen. She becomes both bait and trap. She adjusts her mode and manner from clandestine intruder to the subtle but impossible to ignore Gwen. The men at the ball begin to notice her more. Heads turn to follow where ever she passes. She pretends not to notice them as she pretends not to notice the harder, pinch faced looks of those who believe that they are her rivals. The appropriate finger food, eaten in the appropriate manner, transfixes males and gets an angry flutter from certain others. She moves through the ball with carefully planned precision. She was certain now that she had his attention.
She danced with some of the guests, all the time searching over their shoulders for the mysterious elf in black. The sombre genteel, the young officer and the bearded priest. “Morrow bless you, child” . She was just beginning to think that the evening was written off when she felt a reassuring hand on her bare shoulder. He is there, passing a black lacquered pin through her hair “That’ll ward off old sticky-breeches and his useless blessings.” It’s the elven noble, she can tell, even behind his quasi-feral mask. He introduces himself, saying his name is Pelyth of the hallyntyr Rhysslyr and that it’s a long way from Ios.
She reached up to touch the pin through her hair. As she did his hands slipped around her waist and drew her dangerously close. There was a slight tingling, akin to the magic she knew, from the pin. He smiled a dangerous smile at her. She understood then that it was indeed, something that would repel the blessings of that boring old priest.
He takes her in his arms and they glide about the dance floor. He is obviously not fooled by her disguise as Evlin Solor. “I know an elf maiden when I feel one in my arms”. He appears to know that she is a gatecrasher and points out the girl whose dress she is wearing. He assures her the girl’s parents are not likely to recognise the dress. And even if they did, would not say anything for fear that others might then make the assumption that this garment was not tailor made at great expense for their daughter. He says something in a language which she discerns is an elven tongue, his perhaps. She tells him in Gwaithor that she thinks he dangerous and up to no good. He appears not to understand but smiles in shared appreciation.
Throughout their verbal sparring, they are watching each other’s eyes through their masques. Faces poised in ‘just so’ polite expressions, it is in one another’s eyes that they seek a smile or a laugh. It’s much harder when they are masqued. Forgiliell has to concentrate not only on the handsome elf lord who makes her breathing so fast and shallow, but on the unfamiliar steps to the dances and of course, not crashing into anyone else.
They are two elves from different cultures, alone in a sea of teaming humanity. “I know now that you are not Iosian, I have never met one of the Nyss before and aside from your breathtaking beauty, you are a very intriguing young woman.” He leaves her feeling flushed and giddy. She leans against a pillar to steady herself.
Too quickly, he leaves her to dance with another girl - who sees Forgilliel - in her other dress ! Mouth agape, the real Evlin Solor is about to raise a hue and cry when the stranger waves his hand over her face and she forgets the impostor. Her outraged countenance smoothed to calm at the pass of his hand. He winks Forgileill, with a slight curl to his lip that she finds exciting in a physical way. She experienced a shiver, but was unable to tell whether it was fear or excitement. He takes the real Evlin’s hand and leads her out to the dance floor. The mystery man has saved Forgilleil, as she calculates that she’d never have made out of the ballroom in these shoes.
Other ladies begin to move to the ‘withdrawing room’, full of comfortable looking sofas and so on. Forgilleil thinks ‘not for me’ and hits the wine. She goes back into the party, seeing possible antagonism between certain persons who turn out to Corvis city elders . All the while her thoughts go back to Pelyth Rhysslyr.
She dances with Hallern Alkot, a handsome man in the arms trade and some sort of alchemist to boot. He is charming, lithe and very attentive, but not Pelyth of hallyntyr Rhsslyr . Mr Alkot is quite gallant and seemed quite taken with her as she twisted him around her little finger, a smile here, a gentle brushing across his thighs there. He lost himself in her deceptive gaze. “You have stolen my affections Evie, although I feel that I am but a moment’s pleasure for you. Tell me now and I won’t ask again, will you even remember me tomorrow?” But she just smiled at him.
Their dance takes them near the mysterious elf in black. Knowing that he was studying her even if he was pretending to pay attention to someone else, she allowed Hallern to press himself to her, crushing her bosom against his chest. Meeting Pelyth’s gaze through her masque, she kisses Hallern Alkot. Thrilling in triumph as she sees Pelyth react, she allows herself to enjoy the press of Mr Alkot’s mouth on hers, giving him just the right amount of herself to keep him completely focussed on her, but still under her control. Subtly then, she had to disengage from her now aroused plaything.
She makes her excuses and turns round into the very person with whom she had been fixated all night, with a wordless smile he takes out on to the dance floor again. His hands hold her close and she can feel his soft breath, cool on her neck. The look in his eyes tells her that he well knows what kind of game she is playing. She smiled inwardly to herself. All of those years training as Gwen were not for nothing. Only from rising above expectations and testing one’s limits, can real growth be obtained. Well, this was testing her limits. She was in disguise, with no back up and no real escape plan, playing with fire. She was really enjoying herself.
She feels weak in his arms they dance with passion and she can soon feel his excitement. For Forgileill, desire had now overtaken all semblance of caution. She brushes herself against him as they dance at every opportunity. She thrills as his hands explore. “Tonight you’re mine, completely.” He tells her. She feels her mouth dry and her heart hammer in her chest. She offers her mouth to him, seeking the passionate kiss but he hesitates and draws back, chuckling, leaving her wanting.
He makes his excuses before his feelings for her become too obvious. He has to leave her for other girl again. “Before the enchantment laid upon her begins to wear off.” Forgileill is slightly peeved to loose him to the real Evlin again but also a little relived that he is taking care of her potential problem – let him dance with her. Forgileill is the elf maiden, she saw the look in his eyes through the masque. Evlin Solor is now, she is sure, just an inconvenience. She wonders who the Nyss are, as the real Evlin gazes up at Pelyth with complete adoration.
She looses sight of them in the dancing crowds, shrugging off more offers to dance and avoiding poor Mr Alkot. Presently the party begins to wind up. Some sort of official tune is played and all stand to attention and sing a stirring patriotic song. And then, often with the assistance of the servants, guests depart to their rooms.
Forgileill discretely follows the crowd and slips into the family’s wing of the house and checks that Evlin has returned to her boudoir. Which she has. There is also someone else moving in there – doubtless a maidservant putting away the dress and laying out what will be needed for the morning.
Seeing how the household appears to work, Forgilleil has no doubts that she will be able to sneak in there tomorrow and retrieve her possessions. She begins to consider dumping the dress she is wearing and becoming a maid now, whilst all is at sixes and sevens, rather than wait until the morning.
She goes back down to the ballroom, to wait out a few hours before making a move. She thought about the evening’s events. Mutual sexual arousal, not something she was used to, clouded her thoughts. She tried to put it from her mind, but when she did, her only logical reaction was fear. Gwen lessons came back to her, Forgileill recognised her own immaturity. Hours spent discussing flirtation, dissembling behaviours and discrete ways to enjoy oneself without being caught. It had all seemed so easy as a child, so intriguing as an adolescent, not at all as important as now so obviously was.
Pelyth the elven noble comes back down to the empty ballroom and finds Forgileill. I was looking for you; he says and removes his mask. His unmasking revealed well-chiselled features, regal rather than beautiful. She makes no move as he takes off her mask and he smiles, telling her that she is beautiful. She knows that as Gwen, she should be able to take compliments for what they are but already he’s making her feel giddy and weak.
More childhood lessons run through her mind. The greatest responsibility one has is to one’s self. Kcasamenzay’s favourite. Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice. Did she make good choices ? Most of the time, yes. Nothing in life is to be feared, only understood. She was trying to understand and the more she tasted, the more she wanted. Those who risk the most, reap the sweetest rewards. And she was becoming quite used to risking all. These were the lessons she embraced at that moment, ignoring the ones dealing with prudence, temperance and abstinence.
Standing behind her, she can feel his body against hers and his breath on her neck. He tells her of Nyssothyl, the Ithyl in which his estates are, of the mountains and the misty forests. Of the clear streams and deer hunts through the trees. Her heart now thumping as she looks into his eyes, she imagines herself with him in those places. Walking in the rain through the forests, enjoying lamp lit exploration of the city of Darseal.
If he was speaking the language of love, then it was working. Kelkess Raccoba was not even a distant memory. She gives a slight involuntary gasp as his fingers gently trace from her cheek bones down her neck and across her shoulders. Her breathing is shallow now as those hands leave her skin for the silk of the ball gown and trace the outline of her physique through her bodice. She ached for him then, as drained as she felt.
He takes her by the hand into the (with) drawing room. Where it is a little darker. Casually, he pushes the door and it swings back, blocking out much of the rude light from the bright ballroom.
Forgileill stands with head turned away, cheeks flushed, her heart beating rapidly, and her senses fuzzy. Pelyth draws her close, and she licks her lips in anticipation. Her eyes close as their lips lock. Then nothing. None of the promised fire and all consuming passion. Not even a spark. Confused, she opens her eyes, and before her is a well known face, but it's not Pelyth. Startled, she draws back. But it's the elf lord stood clasping her close. She shakes her head in confusion, as he strokes her hair and draws her near again. Her heart flutters, but again, as soon as their lips touch, Forgileill feels nothing. She opens her eyes, and again Pelyth isn't the one in front of her.
Perturbed, she draws away, and steps out of his embrace. The fog of confusion clears as Forgileill realises why she's so attracted to the elf lord. Pelyth, sensing her change of heart, embraces her again and makes promises of good things to come, nights of passion, a steady accumulation of power and wealth, safety from the many ills of the world. With a sad smile, Forgileill pushes him away. "I'm sorry. I can't. There’s… there's someone else."
Pride hurt, he pins her arms together, his fingers digging hard into her biceps. "And what man can promise you all that I can?"
"That's just it. I don't want a man.” Her voice dropped, “I only desire Katamaya. An Aerdy girl.” Her last words were barely a whisper. He shook her roughly, jarring her. It felt as if he shook her for hours, she was unable to think straight and more than a little disorientated when he finished. Immediately, his eyes bored into hers, she could feel his stare work its way into her mind. It was utter terrifying, all she wanted to do was to scream, to run away. To flee as far as she could from Pelyth Rhysslyr.
He held her. Her feet hardly touched the floor and she could barely feel her fingers for the crushing grip he had on her arms. But more than that he held her mind in his grasp. He found her memories of her night with Katamaya. As he brushed through those memories she relived every sensation. She gasped, blushing. He slowly went through the two nights that she had taken on Katamaya’s shape and gone out as a tavern dancer in the waterfront dives of Kamveluna. He lingered on her teasing the sailors, her teasing Thranduil. He went through her spell casting and combat experiences, she set fire to the undead and shocked the Kenku; She tripped orges and backstabbed hurgilin. As Grey-elven ilin she knew the value of mercy and proportionate force. He ignored this. Her Clan had secretly taught her to assassinate without remorse, this he lingered over for a long time. He forced her to slowly relive her life ebbing away in her two near death experiences, ignoring the healing.
He threw her onto a chaise longs. “So, you’re not as innocent as you appear, little girl.” He grabbed her chin and brought her face up to his. “You’re no stranger to sorcery or murder, are you ?” Again he thrust her back onto the chaise longs. “Even now I see desire in your heart. You want to know how to penetrate the mind of another.” His intrusion into her conscious and subconscious had left her feeling weaker still. Unable even to raise herself off of the furniture, she could only blink and give a slight nod. To penetrate another’s mind as he had hers would be a feat well worth performing. The ease with which he distracted Evlin Solor was truly breath taking.
“I can give you what you want, but you must give me what I desire.” He looked down at her and she stared up at him, handsome and a little bit scary in the darkness. “And I can unlock the secrets of your passion as well.” Forgileill licked her lips. He picked her up by the back of her neck, kissing her again. This time, whether through his tampering with her mind or not, she wanted him. Gasping for air, she nodded.
He laughed. “You’re what I wanted all along, you’re everything I’ve ever needed. Don’t let me down and I’ll give you everything you’ll ever want.”
He takes her into his embrace. Again her strength falters, she returns his kiss and can feel the passion growing between them. ‘Tonight, you’ll get what you want.’ she thought to herself as his tongue explored hers. She made offered no resistance as he slipped the knots that secured her bodice. ‘But what of tomorrow ? I’m going to make damned sure that I take everything you have to offer.’ She thought as he urgently begins to undress her…
“Bring her.” They moved into the withdrawing room. “She is one of you now. She may be plain to view, but she has such talents.” He cracked his knuckles and went to collect Evlin Solor from where he’d left her. He’d had such a good time at Duke Ebonheart’s ball, he simply had to leave something to be remembered by.
 She later finds that it stands between the Dragonstongue River and Dragonspine Mountains.