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Dresses, Dances and Debauchery - Part 1
In which much skin is shown, new relationships emerge and a good time is had by all...
The 1st Day of Descending Wood, Realm Year 763
It is the evening of the party, a relatively small event as Lady Cynis Asura's events go, but there is nevertheless a buzz in the upper social circles, following a rumour of a new arrival on the Tideholme social scene making his (or her) debut. The exact identity of this person, the rumours do not say.
The Iceflower Palace is set up for receiving guests, with the servants in full livery, and formal language is used to confirm the identities of those invited to attend. Perhaps surprisingly to the both of them, the only two guests at this evening appear to be Sian Nerivus and Cynis Venia, and they meet each other in the vestibule, outside the chamber that has been set aside for the evening's event.
Sian is rather plainly dressed for such an event; long black pants, black shoes, and an open white shirt.
Venia looks him over seriously. "Shouldn't you be wearing either a little more or a lot less?"
"If Asura throws me out for dressing incorrectly, then I can just get some more sleep, can't I?" He brushes his hair back with a hand.
"One of Asura's parties and you're worried about sleep? Stunning."
Sian shrugs. "Whoever this new arrival is, I doubt they'll interest me much. So I might as well just have some dinner and go to bed, instead of getting tired of a million and one exotic snacks that I can't identify."
Venia looks around. "Somehow, I don't think you can commit a fashion sin egregious enough to get thrown out. This seems a private affair."
"Sadly." He looks her over for a moment, but Venia's coat reveals very little, which is the plan.
Sian gives up trying after his inspection proves fruitless.
One of the Palace's many functionaries appears from a door and bows deeply, "If my Lord and Lady would follow me into the main chamber, the Lady Asura is ready to greet you now."
Venia shrugs, and takes Sian's arm before he notices. "Of course."
Sian makes no comment, following after the servant as requested.
The main chamber of the Iceflower Palace has been fully decked out for a party. A small orchestra plays in one corner, filling the air with light music, while a large table filled with more food than three (or four, if you believe the rumours) Dragon-blooded could ever hope to eat. And standing, at the centre of it all, is Asura, looking radiantly beautiful in a large cape that covers almost all of her body.
"I greet you both on behalf of the Realm, welcome to Tideholme and the Iceflower Palace."
Venia performs the necessary rejoinder, now more than curious about what Asura has planned.
Sian lifts his eyebrows in recognition, then decides that perhaps being polite is smarter. Holding in a sigh, he bows formally.
Asura responds with a bow and gestures broadly, "Please, won't you come in and join me. I have a small meal prepared for us."
Venia nods, agains flawlessly following the usual procedure while she waits for the revelations.
Sian likewise, though with little flair.
Asura smiles and says, with impeccable tone, "Cousin Venia, how delightful to see you after all these years. And Sian Nerivus of Whitewall, it has been too long since you were last in my Palace."
Sian just nods slightly. "Indeed."
"Oh, yes, cousin Asura. You seem to be doing well enough here... and a protege, as well."
"My position here is not without merit," Asura says, "Or without its perks." She nods to a servant standing by a door on the far side of the room, who announces loudly, "Lady Cassia Hild, of Tideholme."
At the announcement, Cassia steps gracefully into the room. Her feet are incased in delicate pumps with heels that accenuate her long legs. Her legs continue up until her dress starts a little below her knees, shimmering silk in reds and oranges, swirling patterns embroidered into the silk. By the time it reaches her hips, the dress is flush with them, above them it starts to split, individual ribbons twisting up her torso. (...)
The top of the dress finishes at her breasts, merely two ribbons preserving her deceny there, before they carry on up to her shoulders to hold the dress up. Around her neck there is an exquisitely carved necklace formed from hundreds of tiny segments of red jade, perfectly carved to create the appearance of a dragon, wrapped around the neck of the wearer, the head dangling down low and holding a thumb-sized blue-white diamond in its
Her face, possessing as it does a natural beauty, has the merest hints of powder and makeup to emphasise her lips and her blue eyes. Then there is her hair, a testament to the coiffeuses art, having been brushed until it shines softly, jewelled pins and clips holding it back from her face, thin ribbons braided into it as it spills down her bare back.
Venia applauds lightly. "Yes, I can see what you mean about perk."
Sian remains silent, taking in this newcomer with a serious expression.
Cassia walks elegantly over to the table, and takes a seat next to Asura. She blushes slightly at Venia's comment, but smiles "Thank you."
Asura leans over to kiss Cassia lightly on the cheek and smiles broadly, "So, dearest Venia, how long has it been now? Four years?"
"Has it been that long? It seems as if only yesterday."
"It does," Asura take a small glass of clear liquid from the tray of a passing servant, "Have you tried ice-wine before? It is something of a local specialty."
"On my last trip through the area. I'm afraid I deal no better than it with the cold, as Sian can attest to."
Asura stands up and beckons to Sian, "Might I request a dance with the envoy from Whitewall?"
Asura drops the robe to reveal that she is wearing what appears to be, at first glance, a thin green mist. A few seconds later realisation strikes and it becomes apparent that what it is actually is a sheet of near-transparent chiffon, alternately clinging to and sliding over her breasts and belly, while leaving her smooth back bare. The fabric, so thin as to be almost non-existent, bunches up at just the right places to maintain propriety, while concealing none of her statuesque body.
She turns, revealing her back is bare to the curve of her buttocks, and the glinting of diamond shows that the whole thing is held together by nothing more than a single pin, perched artfully over her perfect bottom.
Sian stands, putting down his own modest glass of ice-wine and walking over to the near-naked satrap, offering his arm without comment or apparent reaction to her state. Asura allows herself to be gently held by Sian as the dance begins, and the pair drift slowly, elegantly over the marble floor in time to the soft music.
Cassia's eyes widen slightly as she takes in Asura's form, not so good at hiding her reactions as Asura. She takes a quick sip of ice-wine to cover for this.
Venia smiles, slipping out of her own coat to reveal her counterpoint to Asura's fashion statement. It is a take on a very specific uniform that Asura likely remembers having never managed to wear, seen through the mirror of dynastic fashion and style. It clings to her stunning form as if by sheer force of will, threatening at every turn to come apart and reveal more than even Asura would consider proper.
She stands, letting the cunningly connected strops of cloth slide apart to reveal a swath of her midriff, skirt sliding sideways to expose the full length of Venia's long tattooed leg. "It would be a shame to leave the guest of honor sitting and waiting, dear. A dance?"
Cassia can't help but let her eyes follow that leg all the way up to her face. She hesitates just briefly, then "Of course, Venia." She stands gracefully and takes her hand.
Sian keeps the dance fairly basic, concentrating on fighting down his reaction to the woman in his arms.
Asura smiles, her eyes bright and clear as she leans in against Sian, "Why did you never come back here after the party?"
"Alas, lady, by the time I had recovered from the party, work had beckoned." He manages to muster up an apologetic smile, squeezing her very lightly to him.
"Oh, how disappointing," Asura twirls around, her "dress" shifting as she does so, revealing still more of her body for Sian's eyes, before settling back down when she returns to his arms, "Well, I have you for now, at least."
"For now, yes."
Venia lets Cassia lead for the moment, pressing up to her deftly and following her with amazing grace, a flowing motion that seems almost impossible for most people, but in a manner Cassia is intimately familiar with.
Cassia is a little surprised at first, but then starts to lead with a little more demanding dance, one that requires a certain amount of the flexibilty they both possess, before letting her take the lead for a while.
The music shifts in tempo, and the four dancing Dragon-bloods change partners fluidly, leaving Asura to dance with Venia, while Sian gets Cassia.
Sian gazes down at her evenly, holding her with the same care he did Asura. "It is good to meet you, my lady Cassia."
"It is a pleasure to meet you too, my lord Sian" she is appreciative of his care, happy to match his movements or lead, as he desires.
Sian is mostly content to be led, being an indifferent dancer. "That dress is most impressive, I have to say."
Venia is no farther from Asura than she was from Cassia, gentle smile greeting her. "You will pardon me if I am a bit rusty... it has been long since we last danced."
"Dear Venia," Asura says smiling, "Impressive outfit."
"I knew I could never hope to overshadow your impeccable sense of fashion... so I went for something more modest."
"Modest? That doesn't sound like the Venia I knew," there is an almost imperceptible emphasis on that last word, "Have the years changed you so much?" Her hand slides down Venia's back a little lower than is required for the dance.
"I imagine you will be finding out soon enough. Let us just admit that words pale in comparison to the truths of life."
Cassia smiles widely at him "Thank you. It took forever to be sewn into it this afternoon.."
Sian moves apart from her for a moment, as the dance requires, taking in the dress as he does. "I would imagine so. I don't envy you trying to get out of it, either."
Cassia moves close to him with another shimmer of flaming silk. She leans in. "I'm not sure that will be a problem."
Sian puts his arms about her a little tighter, due to the slow section of the song. "I see."
Asura smiles, her skin slightly flushed, and as the music rises, presses tightly against Venia, "So, how long have you known Sian?"
"Oh, roughly five years. Ran into him on a short excursion to the area. He too, has changed."
Venia slowly moves to match Asura's hand position, leaning in to whisper in her ear, tongue "accidentally' brushing her earlobe. "Are you sure you want to be so close, Asura? I am toxic, if you listen to rumors..."
Asura arches slightly and breathes, "I don't often give credence to rumour, it is so often false." She leans back and fixes Venia with a gaze, "But not always so..." Venia just smiles faintly, letting Asura guess at what she meant.
Cassia happily dances close to him as the song requires "If it were pulled in the right places..it would just slip off..." she whispers
Sian manages a smile at this. "Then I shall be very careful where I place my hands." To prevent it falling, yes. That's what he meant.
The orchestra changes tempo once more, and with an almost visible sigh, Asura parts company from Venia and takes the hand of her protege. Dancing around her slowly she smiles, "How are you enjoying the dance, sweet Cassia?"
"It has been wonderful so far." Cassia smiles at Asura
Sian likewise offers his hand to Venia, who takes it, offering a wry smile. "She is certainly Asura's protege."
"Most definitely." He draws her close with little reservation, given how unsubtle she was at their first meeting.
Venia moves slightly, just to establish that she is not the woman she was at their first meeting. "I look forward to getting her alone... my curiosity is piqued."
"I think there is little to be curious about. She is as unused to this as she seems... Asura likely chose her simply because she is pretty, and malleable."
Asura leans in, whispering into Cassia's ear, and incidentally pressing her essentially naked body against the young girl, "And what about Sian? Could you... distract him?"
Cassia lets her dance closely "I'm not sure. I think I might like to try. He danced no closer to me than to you though." she whispers.
Asura pulls away a little, nodding, "Well, that's something." The orchestra stops for a moment, signalling that the dance is, for now at least, over. Asura smiles and gestures for her guests to take their seats once again, while food is to be served.
Venia goes into a pretty little twirl, the dress rippling to expose many pleasant views of her before presing back up to Sian. "That's what interests me, Sian. Always watch the pawns."
Sian shrugs lightly. "I watch what is needed. So I defer to you here." He returns to his seat, after being a gentleman and returning Venia to hers.
Venia's dress naturally closes slightly as she sits, a disappointment to many.
Cassia takes her seat next to Asura once more, sipping at her ice-wine again.
The food is, as expected, exquisite; carefully arranged on the plates for maximum aesthetic appeal, and loaded down with a cornucopia of tastes, all carefully selected to be nicely off-set by the chill of ice-wine or the "fruit-juice" that is also available.
Venia is far more careful with her ice-wine consumption than last time she was here, but isn't up for "fruit juice".
Sian is likewise wary of his drinking, limiting himself to a single, carefully-rationed glass.
Cassia is enjoying the ice-wine, not normally getting to drink it, delicately savouring the taste, remembering it for later.
Asura eats the food delicately, sipping at a long glass of ice-wine, frost already forming around the base. "A toast," she lifts her glass, "To Cassia, may she break hearts across Creation."
Venia had expected that sort of toast, but just smiles, raising her own.
Sian lifts his glass in toast as well.
Cassia smiles and raises her own glass, in acknowledgment of the toast.
Asura knocks all the glasses together and then, slowly and carefully, empties her glass of ice-wine, the strong liquor having an almost immediate effect, her face and chest flushing quite visibly.
Sian just sips his, as per the usual, taking no notice of this display.
Venia is probably in between Asura and Sian's drinking level, the front of the dress opening for a moment as she slowly tilts the glass back.
Sian does take note of that, wondering if he was foolish in not accepting her request all those years ago.
Cassia does take a larger sip, the alcohol causeing her cheeks to flush a little unused to the drink.
Asura has a second glass poured from a decanter almost completely covered with ice. She takes a few more bites and then turns to Sian, "It is good to see you again. We never seem able to just talk, do we?"
"Mhmm. Always something cropping up." He tilts his chair back a bit, letting the first course settle before he moves onto the next.
"True," Asura sighs theatrically, "Our jobs do seem to keep us too busy for a real social life." She turns to Venia, "Is that true, dear cousin?"
"Oh, most certainly. The call of duty is strong."
Sian makes no comment about the fact that, well, he doesn't really seem to have a duty anymore.
Cassia just listens for the while, slowly finishing her glass of wine. "What is that duty exactly, Venia? I haven't met many Dynasts." she asks curiously.
Venia holds a finger up to cassia, indicating they will talk that over later.
Cassia gives a small nod as she holds up her finger, curious as to what venia will say.
"But duty is what we Dragon-blooded are called to, and it offends the Immaculate Dragons when we deny that fact. We have a duty to rule Creation, and we must perform it to the best of our ability." Asura's gaze wanders over her three guests as she continues, "But that doesn't mean that duty cannot be pleasurable."
"I suspect a proposition is coming," Venia says.
Sian listens somewhat more intently, now.
Asura says softly, "Nor does it mean that pleasure cannot be a duty." She sits up in her chair, the movement causing her "dress" to stretch out and effectively rendering her visibly naked from the waist up.
Sian is rather more interested in what she has to say than her body, though it does put forth a compelling argument.
Venia keeps her eyes on Asura's face. She's seen it, felt it, tasted the other before.
Cassia has likewise seen rather a lot of Asura's body, and rather more curious as to what she will say..
Asura continues, "I suggest that we four form, not an alliance, but an understanding of mutual interest. I am sure that each of us has something that she, or he," she nods at Sian, "wants, that cannot be attained alone. Together, with our various talents, we may be able to do great things."
Sian considers this for a bit. "I am curious as to what the Satrap of Tideholme could want that requires three other Dragon-Blooded to attain, when she already has a kingdom at her command."
"I have a kingdom, yes, it is true, but that doesn't mean that there aren't other, less tangible, things that I want, or need." Asura sighs.
Venia nods, "Mhm. This seems appropriate to me... It is not as if anything lasts forever."
Sian lifts an eyebrow at this, but assumes she will explain in her own time. "As long as unreasonable demands are not placed on each other, I see no reason why we should not accept this."
Asura turns, "And Cassia? How do you feel about this?"
Cassia takes a small sip of the wine as Asura turns to her "Of course. I can see the benefits of it, m-.. Asura."
Smiling, Asura lifts her glass and stands up (incidentally allowing her dress to bunch back up the way it is supposed to), "To an understanding."
Venia follows suit.
Cassia flows to her feet, and raises her glass too
The glasses chink together, as three beautiful Dragon-Blooded women (and Sian), place a seal of sorts on a partnership of sorts. One that could well reshape the North and rewrite a history not yet formed.