Reivyn adjusted his suit for what seemed like the millionth time. He and Teilon had begun to get dressed for the victory feast when Erik had come back holding two suits tailored to Reivyn and Teilon. Erik had tossed the suits onto their beds, nodded toward them, and then left without saying a word. Reivyn and Teilon shared a look before Reivyn walked out of the room and found Melissa waiting in the hallway.
"What's with the suits?" Reivyn asked.
"I had the Count's tailor make them for you," Melissa replied with a smile.
"Ok, but I don't recall getting any measurements taken?" Reivyn narrowed his eyes. Melissa chuckled.
"The Count's tailor is fairly high Level for this area. He only needed to see you, and I made sure he did before the battle, in order for him to get your proper measurements. I knew a feast of some sort was likely if we succeeded in holding the undead army off, and I was right. You and Teilon don't have anything remotely appropriate for attending a feast held by a Count, so I took it upon myself to have them made for you."
"Umm, thanks?" Reivyn said while scratching the back of his head. "How much did it cost?"
"Nothing," Melissa replied. "The tailor was happy to waive the fee. He couldn't make a suit for free for everyone, but since you were loosely attached as the Aide, technically," Melissa used air quotes, "he did it more as a favor for the Knight-Captain and Knight-Lieutenant. And since Teilon is with you, he went ahead and did the same for him."
"Ok, I'll have to thank him later," Reivyn said. "If you see him, pass on my thanks just in case I don't run into him." Melissa nodded, and Reivyn went back into his room to get dressed. Teilon switched into the new clothes as well once Reivyn explained the situation to him.
The new clothes weren't uncomfortable, not by a long shot. Reivyn, and Teilon for that matter, just weren't used to wearing such nice clothes. The design was similar to the uniform he had worn the last time he had attended a banquet hosted by the Count, but it was a lot less utilitarian looking. It resembled a civilian imitation of the uniform, but the material was definitely a tier above.
Reivyn pulled out his tessen in order to stop himself from messing with the suit. Teilon eyed him from the side.
"You should teach me how to use one of those, too," he said. "That way I'll have an excuse to mess with something when I'm nervous, like you." Teilon wasn't subconsciously adjusting his suit, but he was rubbing his hands together.
"What are you so nervous about?" Reivyn asked. "I'm not adjusting the coat over and over because I'm nervous; I just feel weird."
"Promise not to laugh?" Teilon said as he came to a stop, looking Reivyn directly in the eye.
"Nope," Reivyn answered. Teilon sighed.
"I've never actually danced before," he said. Reivyn stared at him for a second before chuckling. "Hey, now!"
"Teilon, you don't have to worry about that," Reivyn clapped his friend on the shoulder. "Kimberly left home with us to go to the Dungeon as a member of our Party, and she stood and fought with us on the wall in the face of impossible odds. She's not going to care if you have two left feet."
"I know," Teilon said. "I know that. I still don't want to trip all over myself in front of her."
"You'll be fine," Reivyn said with a grin. He started walking down the hall once more to head to the banquet hall. Teilon quickly caught back up with him.
"And who said anything about two left feet? I just don't know the steps," Teilon protested. Reivyn just snickered at his friend.
They walked into the banquet hall, and it was packed with people already. Most of the people in attendance were the higher level Adventurers who had volunteered to stay and fight and some of the officers and leaders from the Lord's Retinue. Reivyn spotted the Knight-Captain and Knight-Lieutenant talking in a group with the Count. Brand looked like he wanted to be anywhere but there.
"The trick is to always be moving and appear to be mingling," Reivyn leaned over and whispered to Teilon. "That's what Knight-Lieutenant Brand taught me last time. You don't want to get cornered by someone and have to stand in one place for too long. That will give other people the opportunity to swoop in and take up your time when you want to get to where you're going: the table."
As Reivyn was walking forward through the throngs of people, leaning over to whisper to Teilon the rules he had learned the previous time, a shadow appeared out of nowhere and blocked his path. He came to an abrupt stop so as not to walk into the person, and he looked up to see a familiar face.
"Ahh, it's the Little Hero, again," Lin said. She was dressed in her formal uniform like last time, an additional medal adorning her chest that hadn't been there before. "I should have expected to see you here, though it looks like you're not with the military unit, this time."
"Yeah, not exactly," Reivyn said. He heard Teilon return the snicker he had given him before entering the hall.
"You're quite the expert at avoiding people trying to hold you up, huh?" Teilon whispered back. Reivyn rolled his eyes.
"Shut it, you," he said to Teilon. He turned his attention back to Lin. "I thought you were with the Duke's troops? What are you doing out here this time?"
"The Duke sent us to reinforce the city," Lin answered. "We arrived late last night after pretty much everyone else was already asleep. Here," She sidled up next to Reivyn, intruding on his personal space. She placed a hand on his shoulder as she turned to face the same way, and leaning into him, she pointed at several other people in the Duke's uniform.
Reivyn started to subconsciously shy away from her. Wait, why should I back away? She's invading my personal space. He stood up straight, keeping his body in contact with hers. She glanced at him for a second and chuckled.
"If you look at those men," she continued, "you might recognize them." Reivyn squinted his eyes, not to get a better look, but in concentration as he tried to place their faces. He finally realized why some of them looked familiar to him.
"They were with the Adventurers," Reivyn said. Lin smiled as she backed away and resumed her original position.
"Exactly," she said. "We knew we couldn't get the whole force here in time, so we selected some of our fastest riders and had them come ahead of the rest of the soldiers. We decided to have them dress like Adventurers so as not to highlight the fact that the Duke's troops didn't make it on time. Better to appear to have not come at all, than to try and make it but fail.
"Now that it's over, we can reveal that we had people there the whole time, and it gives us better optics."
"I see," Reivyn said. He had to agree that it made sense. The Count himself had done something similar. I guess every action needs to be made with how it will look to everyone else. Politics.
Reivyn wasn't necessarily averse to politics and the machinations involved, he just wasn't well informed or experienced. Looking at it in hindsight, he could see the benefits of acting in such a manner, but he would have never considered doing it himself if he was the one making the decision. He just didn't think that way. I might learn from Melissa and the instructors at the Magic Academy. It seems like the place where such considerations will be needed.
"And who's this distracted fellow with our Little Hero?" Lin turned her attention to Teilon who had been scanning the crowd. Teilon's head snapped back over and took the older girl in, head to toe before a wide grin crossed his face.
"I'm Teilon, the Little Hero's best friend," he gave a small bow while he took her hand and placed a kiss on the back of it. Lin hid her mouth behind her other hand as she chuckled.
"Ahem," a cough interrupted the show. Teilon's eyes widened and his body froze in the position of leaning forward. He slowly straightened up and turned to slowly come face to face with Kimberly.
"Ahh, Kimberly, I was just searching the crowd for you," Teilon said as he reached out and took her hand. Kimberly let him, but she rolled her eyes at the same time.
"I'm sure you were," she responded.
"He has impeccable manners, and he's quite charming, actually," Lin said to Kimberly. She turned her gaze to Reivyn. "You could learn a thing or two from your friend."
Reivyn felt an arm snake around him and a body come to stand next to him. His eyebrows went up in surprise as he turned his head and saw that it was Melissa. Larissa and Erik were standing a few feet behind her, Larissa with a smirk on her face.
"I'm sure I could help him with that, too," Melissa said as she and Lin stared at each other. "This must be Miss Lin, Ren's sister, that you've told me about," Melissa said with a small smile.
"Ugh... yes," Reivyn said as he looked back and forth between the two girls. They were of a similar age and level of beauty. Melissa was a bit more bright in appearance, with her hair having a distinct auburn red color, while Lin was a bit darker, with her hair being straight black. Lin was slightly taller, but not enough for her to look down on the other girl.
"And who is this young lady? She seems to have me at a disadvantage," Lin said, her eyes never leaving Melissa's. "I've been busy with my duties as a Captain in the Duke's Retinue, I haven't had time to keep up with all of the scions from the Capital." Lin correctly guessed Melissa's origins by the quality and design of her clothes.
"Umm," Reivyn started . . .
"I'm Melissa Bluefayre," Melissa said with her chin lifted, clear pride in her voice. "My sister, Larissa, and I happened to join Reivyn's Party when we were on a Dungeon Delve Mission from the Magic Academy. My sister and I were a bit bored with the same old, easy Dungeons nearer to the Capital."
"Ooohhh, a Party Member," Lin said with emphasis. Lin stepped forward on Reivyn's other side, and looping her arm through Reivyn's in the same way Melissa did, she leaned forward to continue addressing Melissa. "Here, let me escort you to your table."
"Umm," Reivyn said as he got dragged along by the two girls holding onto his arms on either side. He turned his head briefly and saw Teilon bent over laughing. What is happening?
Reiyvn was "escorted" to his table, but he wasn't allowed to sit. Lin and Melissa continued to hold onto his arms as they stood a bit in front of him, facing each other.
"Thank you for showing us the way, but I'm sure you must be tired after the March here from the Duke's domain. It would be rude of us to keep you from going to your own table and resting," Melissa said.
"Oh, it's fine," Lin denied with a shake of her head. "This is my table. I asked the Count to personally arrange for me to sit here, next to our Little Hero." Lin had a bright smile on her face. Melissa frowned for a second, but the music started up at the opportune time, and she perked up at the sound.
"Well, you take your time getting some rest at the table," Melissa pulled Reivyn away from Lin as she looked up at him. "Let's go dance. Your friends are already out on the floor. We can join them."
Lin narrowed her eyes as she let Reivyn escape from her grasp, but her face quickly returned to normal with a smile. "Ok. I'll just get the next one." She sat down at the table as Melissa grabbed Reivyn's hand and dragged him out to where Teilon and Kimberly were standing. Several others were also getting ready to start dancing as well.
"A wolf, indeed," Reivyn heard Melissa mutter under her breath.
"Umm, Melissa," Reivyn said. Melissa turned her head toward him as they came to a stop in the open space for dancing. "I've never danced before." Melissa chuckled at him.
"This will be the first song and dance, and it's an ice breaker," Melissa said. "Just watch some of the others, and then do what they do. Everyone will start off with a partner who they will dance the most with, but everyone will be moving about and dancing with each other. Like I said, an ice breaker."
Reivyn nodded his head, and he and Teilon observed as the musicians finally stopped warming up and began the actual music for the dance. They watched for a moment to see what the other people were doing as they lined up and began moving about.
It wasn't a complicated dance and was more along the lines of moving about in sync with the rhythm of the music. Melissa's description was fairly apt, and Reivyn and his friends quickly joined. They started off in a line of all the men on one side with the women on the other. They moved in time together, locked arms with their partner, twirled about, and then separated into lines again, but when they separated, they shifted about so their next partner would be different.
The dance continued on for a bit, and the way the lines were designed, Reivyn would match up with a different girl each time, but he would always return to his original partner, Melissa, more often than anyone else.
He let himself relax and move about to the music, and he ended up having a blast doing so. He received a Notification a few minutes in, but he ignored it as he just let loose for a short while.
Once the music was done, he pulled up his Notification as Melissa took his hand once more to lead him back to the table.
|New Skills Unlocked!
Interesting. I bet Rhythm goes with Dancing and playing a musical instrument, both.
As Reivyn and Melissa approached their table, Lin came up and grabbed Reivyn's other hand, again.
"You were right," Lin said to Melissa. "I needed that short rest. I'm sure you need a bit of a breather, too, after that exciting first dance." She turned her gaze to Reivyn. "I'm sure you still have a lot of energy, though. Not like us girls from the Capital. A big, strong, young man like you. Come on, I'll show you the next one."
Lin pulled him away from Melissa, and Reivyn spied her narrow eyes as she watched them head back to the dance floor. Teilon and Kimberly were still out there, and Larissa was apparently explaining the next dance to them.
"This one isn't an ice breaker," Lin said as she turned and faced Reivyn. "Here, give me your hands." She took Reivyn's hands and placed one on her shoulder, and one on her hip. She stepped in real close as she reciprocated.
"There's nothing too fancy," she continued to explain. "For more advanced dancers, they can do something more in line with their Skill, but it's mostly the same. You just need to move your feet to the beat, and we'll move about in small circles."
The next musical piece began, and Lin started them off, leading. After Reivyn got into the movements, though, she let him take over leading them. He didn't really know what to do, exactly, so he just moved them about in small circles as she had said.
Melissa hadn't gone back to her seat, and she was standing at the edge of the dance floor, watching them with her arms folded. Once they drew a little nearer to her, Reivyn saw Lin's slight smile get a little larger.
"Oops," Lin said as her feet tangled together. She leaned forward and placed her weight almost fully on Reivyn. He was forced to embrace her completely. After assisting her in getting her feet back, she maintained closer contact. "I'm so clumsy. I think I should dance a little closer so as to avoid that happening again," she looked up at him with a twinkle in her eye. "You don't mind, do you?"
"Umm," Reivyn had nothing to answer that with. He just kept a straight face and continued the dance.
It wasn't long before the music was over, but Lin didn't make her way back to the table as Melissa had done before.
"We still have energy, so let's do the next one," Lin said. She wasn't even asking anymore.
"Ummm," Reivyn was quite eloquent tonight.
"Oh, you poor thing," Melissa showed up as the musicians were about to start the next round. "I saw that terrible fall you almost had. Luckily Reivyn was your partner and he kept you from getting hurt. You really must take more rest, though. We wouldn't want anything bad to happen."
Melissa spoke with the utmost concern for Lin's well-being while simultaneously snagging Reivyn back away from her. Lin gave her a flat look, but she didn't make a scene. She smiled again after a moment and fanned herself with her hand.
"You're right," she said. "It's awfully hot in here. Reivyn, could I borrow your tessen?" She looked at him with puppy-dog eyes. Reivyn raised an eyebrow, but he still pulled his fan out and handed it to her. He could see Melissa gritting her teeth out of the corner of his eye. Lin took the fan, opened it, and began fanning her face as she turned to head back to the table. "Thank you, so much, my dear Hero." She winked as she walked away.
"Let's step this next one up, a little," Melissa said as she stepped up to Reivyn. She placed one of his hands on her hip and held the other in her hand as she put her other one on his shoulder. "I noticed you moved a little smoother, so I'm guessing you got the Skill unlocked?" Reivyn nodded his head. "Ok, then we'll spice it up a little. Watch some of the others as we move about and see what they do."
"Ok," Reivyn said as the music began.
They moved about in a similar manner, but they weren't quite as close as he and Lin had been. He used his Battlefield Awareness Skill, once again utilizing a Skill in a novel situation, to observe the other dancers. The men spun the women about with their hands they were holding together, and sometimes they would dip them.
"See?" Melissa asked as they moved to the music. Reivyn nodded his head in acknowledgment. "Spin me."
Reivyn released his hand on her waist and spun her about. Melissa laughed in delight as she twirled. "Dip me," she said as she came back into his embrace. Reivyn copied the other men so as to maintain his center of gravity properly, and dipped Melissa. They continued dancing to the music, occasionally spinning and dipping, and Reivyn saw Teilon also manage to perform the same feats with Kimberly.
The music finally ended, and Melissa dragged him off the dance floor once more. Lin was waiting again, but Melissa was prepared.
"Oh, we really must take a break, this time," Melissa said as she patted her face. "Reivyn was just telling me he needed a breather." I did?
"Yes, I can see that," Lin said as she glanced at Reivyn. She pulled the fan back out and fanned herself again, looking at Melissa over the top of it. Melissa dragged Reivyn to his seat, and Lin plopped herself down in the seat opposite Melissa on Reivyn's other side.
"This little fan really comes in handy," Lin said with a sigh.
Melissa rolled her eyes as she reached for a glass of water on the table. "Would you like some ice-cold water to try and cool off?" She asked with a smile to Reivyn.
"Ummm," Reivyn responded with extraordinary wit.
Melissa fumbled with the glass, and the water spilled onto the table and into Reivyn's lap. The water was extremely cold, and Reivyn jerked back at the sudden feeling of freezing water soaking through his pants.
"Oh, how terribly clumsy of me," Melissa said.
"Let me help," Lin was quick to grab a napkin and started to pat Reivyn's thigh.
"That won't be necessary," Melissa said. She placed her hand on Reivyn's other thigh, and with a gentle movement, completely appropriately, but definitely riding the line, she used her mana to draw the water and moisture out of Reivyn's clothes. The water balled up above her hand, and she deposited it in an empty glass. "All done."
I'm pretty sure Melissa didn't have to touch me to do that... Reivyn sat in stunned silence. Melissa and Lin glared daggers at each other. Reivyn looked across the dance floor to where Teilon and Kimberly were still at it. Teilon looked over and gave him a big grin, laughing at his situation.
This is going to be a long night.