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Curse of Strahd [CLOSED]

Baba Luga

Vestige
[div=border: 2px solid gray; padding: 10px]kasimir.jpgThe hours pass quickly by the fire in Kasimir's cozy home. The aged elf if quite pleased that Ina and her friends have brought back the Vistani girl Arabelle. He listens to the story of their adventure at the lake eagerly. "Her father, Luvash, will be in your debt. By Vistani custom, he owes you hospitality. But," his dark eyes narrow, "be careful still. They adore the Count. If they are pressed to choose between loyalty to him and the code of hospitality, Von Zarovich will win every time."

"Because the town of Vallaki is small,"
he says, seemingly going off in a new direction, "the people there live close with their livestock. Goats, chickens, pigs live inside the houses with the people. The children love their animal cousins. They feed the goat, pet it, play with it, give it a name, month after month. Then one day it is that goat's time. Father slaughters it for meat. The child is sad, angry even, but loves his father no less. And there will be another young goat soon. It has a name too. Maybe the child thinks about what will happen, but is prepared and not so distraught as before. By no means does the child try to scare the goat, or let it loose to find its way to the hills. The Vistani are the children, you are the goats. We dusk elves," he adds as an afterthought, "are like the cats and dogs."

What follows is an account that Kasimir swears Ina has heard before, though she can't remember, of how, in a past age, the elves of Barovia would not submit to Strahd's father, King Barov, when he claimed this valley. Thus refused, King Barov set upon a cruel conquest, extinguishing the elves' royal line, banishing many others and forcing the survivors to live among the VIstani.

When Barov passed and his son Strahd, then still just a man, took his place, the elves hoped for better treatment, in error. Strahd became an undead monster and the elves made a last desperate, failed rebellion. Strahd's wrath was great. In punishment he murdered all of the elven women, leaving only the handful of male elves at this encampment alive, to witness, over centuries, the end of their people.

As Kasimir tells these things to Ina, she can see him gauging her response to each piece, deciding what to share next, beginning to go into more detail, but then thinking better of it.

raven.jpg raven.jpg raven.jpg

Back up at the big tent, the Vistini man Timbo comes back over to watch Syvis feeding Otrev. "He's an odd one, no? So tame. Do you know their story, these Birds of Berez? The people of Berez were very wicked and murdered an innocent young woman who was dear to our king. The land itself rebuked them. The waters of the Luna River rose up and washed over Berez, leaving only a wasteland. And the pretty birds of Berez lost their voices, as did their children, forever. This was back when my father was a boy."

Having heard this tale from Timbo, Syvis is able to get a little out of him about the so-called Kasht-Gadjikane, though he seems to think them beneath contempt, not worth talking about. According to him, they descend from Barovian townspeople who, generations ago, left to establish a new settlement in the forest. But once there, their fear of King Strahd—Timbo owes that the common Barovians do fear him—turned to obsession and worship, so that the current generation regards him as a god. From what Timbo says, it seems that these "wild folk" do indeed have some sort of magical communion with the plants and animals here, and can work magic not so very different from Syvis'.

More Vistani have returned from searching for Arabelle or other business. Spits of meat are placed on one of the fires, filling the tent with a savory aroma.

At first, the singers and dancers give Moire a mixed reception. When the paladin comes up to them, the lutist suddenly switches tunes, in what, based on the surrounding Vistani's reaction, is some kind of musical in-joke, but the fiddler prompts her back to the previous song with a gentle nudge. Some of the dancers come close to Moire, intent on coaching her in the steps, not content to let her improvise. Most seem amused and pleased at her efforts, though one older man takes the affair quite seriously, lecturing her in his language and pushing others away so that he can clearly demonstrate for her the proper form.

Someone suddenly seizes Moire and whirls her around. It's Luca, with his curly salt-and-pepper hair tied back. He must have just arrived. Moire's various tutors abandon her to his care and he leads her in a few dances before a sudden wave of lethargy washes over her. Hircus feels the same. The bolstering boon granted by Torm earlier today has run its course, leaving its beneficiaries enervated. Somewhere in Vallaki, the young woman Nina must be experiencing the same about now.

When, at Kasimir's suggestion, Ina comes up to the tent to check on her companions, she sees them scattered among the celebrating Vistani: Moire with Luca by the dancers, Syvis with her birdcage and Hircus off by himself, seemingly lost in thought.[/div]
 

jfish

Junior Member
Ina steels herself as she approaches, the pit in her stomach growing full of dread. Or hunger, she thinks: the enticing smells of food drawing her in. She's reminded of the stories she would steal away to the library to read as a child; don't stray from the path, don't dance with the Fae, don't eat their food. Lots of "don't"s.


Ina takes a breath and approaches Hircus, smiling in greeting to anyone who glances in her direction.


"All things weighed up, I think we did mostly good today," she offers the cleric sheepishly, trying to stop doubt lacing her words, "what troubles you?"
 

ZombWie

Hircus Hornbrow
"Oh! Oh, not a thing dear Ina." The cleric's knee jerk reaction to that question surprises him. He cocks his head and stares into the distance for a moment, "Well, nothing more than the same that has vexed me since our descent into this pit trap." Hircus tries to chuckle convincingly, but fears his that he is fooling no one.

Hircus leans back on a large pillow and holds a hand over his still distended belly, "You know, I am still embarrassed by my show of weakness in your friend's house earlier today. I will need to make time tomorrow to speak an apology to Kasimir. I made quite a mess o myself and his home. You must have had a nice talk alone, just now. What new and interesting secrets did you learn about our time before?" Hircus then realizes that his approach was less than discreet, so he looks around to see if any Vistani are near enough to have heard his question. He jiggles his wine as an excuse, "Sorry."
 

Abrahms

One Thousand Club
Listening to Timbo, Syvis nodded, "Yes, the birdkeeper mentioned their tale. I had never heard such a thing before, it still seems strange to see a songless songbird that speaks with its wings." The elf added a few more seeds and berries to her hand, enjoying the light touch of the tiny bird's talons and chuckled. "He's definitely odd, a bird obsessed with his cage. Most I've spoken with would rather be flying, but he's very territorial." With a gentle finger she rubbed Otrev's head, "I dislike that the animals were punished for the folly of humans ..."

As he continued to speak about the wild folk she seemed interested. Fixing her amber eyes on the Vistani man, "I am new to the region, as you might have guessed ... do you know why they left the village? Were they ... forced out?"
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
[div=border: 2px solid gray; padding: 10px]Timbo lowers his voice conspiratorially. "No one can say why they left their villages to become Wild People. I know they look like you or me, but these Barovians, most of them are empty nothings, hollow inside, here." He puts his hand over his heart. "You saw it in that big man who took Arabelle, no? Like puppets, they repeat the same thing over and over, and then they break and who knows what they will do?" He clearly thinks it folly to ascribe motivations to the Barovians. "Yes, there are some exceptions, but what I say is true eleven times out of a dozen. These are the Barovians in general I talk of. Among the Kasht-Gadjikane are also wanderers like you and your friends who have gone mad and joined the Wild Folk worshipping our king."[/div]
 

Abrahms

One Thousand Club
She looked back up at Timbo, "People from other places ...? I wonder if their madness was being unable to adjust, to adapt ..." Continuing she let Otrev finish the food in her hand, not adding anymore to prevent the bird eating too much, "The grove I grew up in ... they wanted change, but feared change they were not in control of. Do you understand? They understood the flow of time, seasons, even as elves view a year akin to a moment, but still sought to shift it to their desires ..." Syvis frowned, placing a hand to her head, "... it's ... wrong. The world is its own force ... it decides how things will be and it only rewards the strong..."

Her amber eyes blinked for a moment before dipping her head, "... apologies. I've been alone for a long time, I ... don't think I've truly regained my skills at speaking." Taking a deep breath she looked back at Timbo, "Do ... you know any other creatures around here, affected by the land like little Otrev? Or places? I find myself in new territory and woefully unaware to what is around."
 

Epiphany

Proverbs 17:9
Moire smiles off the mixed reactions, taking no offense at their reception to her joining their dances, given her participation itself might be a cause of offense. In that spirit, the Paladin listens to instruction with perfect seriousness, watching the steps performed and striving to replicate the patterns as if each movement was a new sword technique to master.

Of course, once Luca arrives to take over her instruction, she smiles a bit more and relaxes into his arms, letting him lead and direct her step as the expert he is. He's been one of the most forthcoming men she's met in this land and her appreciation shows in her easy manner.

But then the Aid elapses and Moire begs a moment to rest by the fire. When Luca comes around again, the Paladin draws him close and says "Your people have been so kind to me and mine. I hate to impose upon your patience. But I have a personal matter. A bit of...closure, I think. I made a friend in Vallaki, a young woman with whom I made certain dinner plans. Now that we're exiles from the village, I fear she'll think me a boor to stand her up. I trust you understand?"

Moire takes a deep breath and says "It's a short journey to the gates of the village. I'll be back soon for another dance, if you don't mind the wait."
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
[div=border: 2px solid gray; padding: 10px]Timbo smiles wryly at Syvis' curiosity. "Do we speak then of the great bird of Mount Ghakis, or the wiley otters of Tser Falls? Barovia is a place like no other—believe me, I have done my share of traveling. The land and her creatures are somehow closer than elsewhere, all wide awake, clever and with personality. Many even serve our good king as his eyes and ears."

Over by the fire, Luca smiles conspiratorially at Moire's explanation. "Ah, yes, of course I understand. I too am a gallant! Just a moment, I think I know just the flower these Barovian women will want." He winds off through the crowd and returns soon after with a small bunch of white calla lilies. "Here, Moire. We gallants must look out for each other. I had not heard of your exile from Vallaki. It is their loss, of course. Think of yourself in good company with the Vistani, who are not welcome there either. But where do you think you will wander now?"[/div]
 

Epiphany

Proverbs 17:9
Moire shares a conspiratorial smile with Luca and clasps him on the shoulder, showing camaraderie. "Yes, I thought you were a man of understanding. Thank you for the gifts; they may soften the blow a bit." Accepting the flowers, she rises from her seat. "I promise you the full story of the day when I return. It may make for an amusing tale if nothing else, seeing as we share in Vallaki's ill favor. As for where we'll wander to next..."

She shrugs and says, "Either the winery or to help Ina's friend out with a favor, I think. I should catch up with her. After I conclude this bit of necessary business. Now, I must go before it gets any later. And thank you, Luca. You are a true friend."

Abrahms Abrahms
With a winsome smile to make her goodbye, Moire slips over to Syvis and says "I'm going to go back to Vallaki for a brief visit. I owe Nina some explanation, you see. Hircus has had quite a day already and Ina's been catching up with her friends. If you're not too tired, I'd appreciate your company on the trip. Just in case."
 

jfish

Junior Member
Ina smiles understandingly and pats him on the shoulder. "We'll work it out." The elf snorts a bit at his reference to the incident at Kasimi'rs gome earlier, "I'm sure he's seen worse in his time, though an apology wouldn't go unappreciated, I imagine."

She nods at his question carefully, also keenly aware of the people around them, and chooses her words deliberately. "There has been a lot of suffering in these lands. We're just as safe here as anywhere else, I think."

Ina watches Moire dancing, wistful at the carefree activity. She was glad there was the opportunity to pause and enjoy the small moments... at least for now. She was sure that they would become fewer and further between.

Ina watches curiously as Luca gives Moire a bunch of flowers after their dance, a small smile growing on her face. Moire was quite the romantic, it would seem. Were they from Luca, perhaps? She would definitely have to ask about that later.
 

Abrahms

One Thousand Club
Listening with sincere interest, Syvis glanced up at Moire's approach. Closing the door to the birdcage after one final pat on Otrev's delicate head, the druid nodded, "I would not mind aiding a pac-- friend. I could leave Otrev under Ina and Hircus' care as I know the cage is bulky ..." She smiled at the bird, "Hopefully at some point I will convince him to leave it."

Lifting the cage she set it next to the others, asking them to "Please watch over him," before returning to the Paladin. Adjusting her gear she leaned closer to the woman, speaking lower, "If you'd prefer I could borrow the form of a horse ...? It would be faster than walking, if you're comfortable with riding?"
 

Epiphany

Proverbs 17:9
"...Oh, yes please." Moire peers briefly at the Druid she's known for all of a day before chuckling ruefully. "Sorry, I'm just not used to ri-"

She coughs, swallows once and says, "I'm not used to traveling with friends who can change shape. It's a kind offer and one I'll accept. While I don't anticipate trouble, speed is one of the surest ways to avoid it. Let's be about this so we can get back and get a good night's sleep. Ilmater knows what waits for us in the morning."
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
[div=border: 2px solid gray; padding: 10px]It's grown dark outside in the intervening hours, and a strong wind has picked up from the northwest, knocking water from the trees along the forest trail that Syvis and Moire travel. The woods are alive with the sounds of crepuscular and nocturnal animals. Syvis overhears bits of characteristic chatter, among which the voice of one badger stands out. "See there? Is that one of the unheralded ones we were told of? When I report them, I will have a boiled egg and a ripe-to-bursting plum for my troubles,"

"Not if I beat you there and make my report first,"
replies another badger. The underbrush rustles as both creatures race off.[/div]
 
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ZombWie

Hircus Hornbrow
Hircus watches Moire with interest as Luca hands her a bunch of flowers. Calla Lillies, a flower Hircus has always associated with funerals, as these are the flowers that his mother tossed in the grave of his father. One stem at a time, each for a year of his life. He wonders about this exchange for a moment as he watches. The Vistani does not seem to be courting his friend, and that is when it hits him.

Hircus stands and crosses the tent with purpose, "Moire? Are you considering a trip back to Vallaki? For Nina? If this is true, I must plead with you to choose rest and safety instead. There is little more that I can ask of Torm today and I fear we are all in a similar state." It is clear to Hircus that his argument will not convince Moire and Syvis to cancel their trip to Vallaki.
 
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Abrahms

One Thousand Club
Looking confused at where Moire seemed to be going with her other sentence, Syvis paid it little thought as they stepped away from the others. "It is a useful skill, I'd rather it be used than potentially fade from disuse," she answered simply.

Once they got a bit further away, the druid paused, focusing on the form of a surefooted horse -- not entirely common where she used to live, but herds still traveled through in search of pastures. Leaning forward her form began to grow -- equipment fading away as she instead became a grey dappled mare, black mane and tail, but still the focused amber eyes looking out at the world.

Unsure how comfortable Moire might be with riding bareback, she laid down on the grass to make it easier and once the woman seemed settled, rose and set off towards the town -- her knack for locations leading them relatively easily through the dim. However her ears flicked many directions, instincts of the form and well aware there were more risks than just predators in this place ... the conversation of the badgers caught her interest especially, garnering a snort as she continued. It seemed Timbo wasn't lying about animals serving the land's king ... Arriving at the gates she slowed, pawing at the ground in unrest at how few lights are still lit in this area. Were Moire to direct her by tugging her mane towards a direction, for the moment she'd pretend to be just a mount borrowed for the trip.
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
[div=border: 2px solid gray; padding: 10px]At the horse's trot it takes fewer than ten minutes to leave the woods, travel the short stretch of the Old Svalich Road west of Vallaki and arrive at the town's western gate, closed with heavy iron bars elaborately chained and locked on the opposite site. Two guards stand just inside the gate. One of them is the thin, nervous man Hircus approached by the enormous wicker sphere outside the church this morning. The winding street beyond the gate is lined with paper lanterns that bob in the wind. Many of them have already been blown out by the gust. A light also burns up in the church steeple, and a gentle glow seems to suffuse that whole town as sounds of distant, martial music reach the gates.[/div]
 

Epiphany

Proverbs 17:9
Flowers in hand, Moire can only shrug and smile helplessly at Hircus. "Rest and safety will come soon enough, my friend. And I have Syvis for company. We plan to make swift time, never fear." Stepping closer, she says in a lower tone, "Something tells me we can't ignore the village for the rest of our time in Barovia and we'll need a friend there. Keep an eye on things here, won't you? I'm relying on you."

With a cheerful smile, Moire accompanies Syvis outside the tent and down the hill. Until the Druid changes shape. At which point the Paladin's eyes go wide. She's not shy about taking advantage of an easy ride, though, and Moire even begins to enjoy the trip.

At least until she arrives. With flowers in hand, Moire hopes Syvis slows her approach upon reaching the gate and she smiles cheerfully at the gate guards. "Ho there, my friends. I am Moire Cassiel, Paladin of Ilmater, and I have business with one of your citizens. A delightful young woman by the name of Nina. I believe she'll be waiting to meet with me outside the Blue Water inn, possibly with a friend of hers by the name of Mykola." Drawing close, with her hands obviously carrying nothing but flowers, the Paladin speaks to the two guards as directly as the gates will permit. "I'd go in to meet with her myself but Izek asked me not to enter Vallaki and I keep my word. And so I can only hope that you, on this merry festival day, might consider carrying a message to her so that I can speak with her in person."

Moire coughs and finds herself a bit reluctantly grateful for the blush that colors her cheeks, as it only adds weight to her heartfelt appeal. "Please. We only met today but I know I'll regret it if I don't have the chance to at least explain why I couldn't keep our date. I know this may seem beneath the honorable duties of those who watch and keep this village safe. Surely, though, you also know what it is to regret a chance missed once, a chance that might be missed forever."
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
[div=border: 2px solid gray; padding: 10px]The nervous guard appears startled by Moire's words, just as he was by Hircus' approach this morning. His eyes widen as his grip on his spear tightens. The other guard, a broad-shouldered woman with a drooping eyelid and a loud, flat voice, declares, without meeting Moire's gaze, "The gates are closed. None of those who walk by night may enter, nor messages from out in the foul night air." The nervous guard nods vigorously in agreement.[/div]
 

Epiphany

Proverbs 17:9
Moire sighs before gathering up her flowers and lifting them towards the gate. "Well, these aren't foul nor a message so if you'd be so kind to rely them to Nina? Or just fetch her? I can understand your rules about not allowing visitors after sunset. I'm not trying to enter! If you have rules about not conveying messages to those in the village, what about bringing someone to the gate so there's no need?"

"Under my oath as a Paladin of Ilmater, I swear I mean no harm to you or yours or to the sweet Nina who is probably wondering where I am."

She gives him her best 'Won't you kindly?' expression.
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
The nervous guard looks at the lifted bouquet as if it might be a loaded crossbow. He grips his spear with both hands and seems ready to jab it between the bars of the gate if need be. The other guard states, in her loud, level voice, "The poison night mist has damaged your mind. You should go to the Abbey of Saint Markovia, in Krezk, for treatment." She still avoids looking Moire in the eyes.

Neither guard seems in any way inclined to assist in the matter of Moire's assignation with Nina.
 
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jfish

Junior Member
Ina holds her sigh until Moire and Syvis have left earshot. "For what it's worth, I agree with you. I don't think flowers will overpower her fear, or loyalty. But, I suppose stranger things have happened. Us, for one!" She chuckles a little. "I, for one, intend to eat and try to relax whilst it's a possibility."
 

Epiphany

Proverbs 17:9
With a sigh, Moire knows when she's beaten.

Of course, it probably wouldn't be too terribly difficult to scale the walls, slip between the villagers and find Nina at the inn in question. Only, it would be behaving too much like the old Moire, the pirate she'd left behind her. Vallaki had the right to rule itself. For the sake of the village's people, her friends had been exiled. Breaking in would not only be risky for herself personally but could very well endanger Vallaki, if Izek was at all honest.

Reluctantly, the Paladin places a flower on the bars and leaves the remainder at the base of the gates, off to the side so they're easily seen but hopefully not easily trampled. "If she stops by, please let her know I was thinking of her," she says in parting. And then she pats Syvis on the neck and inclines her head back towards the Vistani camp.

"Sorry for taking you on what's ended up being a fool's errand, my friend," she murmurs to the horse-shaped Druid.
 

Abrahms

One Thousand Club
The mare threw her head around as a crude shrug, finishing with a snort of her nose. Helping the woman onto her back once more, eager to return to the camp, Syvis set off at a low gallop.

If arriving with no issues, once the Paladin had hopped down, the druid released the form, reverting to her elven form and looking concerned. Speaking in ushed tones, "Earlier Timbo warned me the animals here follow the land's King ... on our journey I heard some Badgers mention they recognized us -- they had been informed, and were reporting on us." Syvis bit her lip nervously, "I doubt I can win over all creatures ... I doubt we can attempt to keep all eyes off of us after our actions," she gestured upwards, "The birds," to the ground, "and those of the ground ... even those in the trees. Animals are everywhere ..."

Messing with her wolf-tooth necklace she continued, "... I will stay with the pack, but I am offering warning. Any attempts to be hidden will likely fail ... tomorrow I can potentially help prevent us being tracked, but not forever ... things to keep in mind as we continue." Syvis bowed her head.
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
[div=border: 2px solid gray; padding: 10px]There are nearly two dozen Vistani in the communal tent when Syvis and Moire return from their excursion. The food that has been slowly cooking is being served around freely, and more of the watered wine is poured. A singer has joined the musicians and another group plays a game with dice. Fragrant smoke from pipes and cheroots wafts about. At one point Arabelle and some other children race through the tent, pausing briefly to wave at her rescuers.

Luca spots Moire's return from across the tent. His eyebrows, initially raised as if to ask, how did it go? furrow in sympathetic disappointment when he see Moire's expression. He shrugs his shoulders, smiles and raises his glass in a silent toast.

As the hours pass sociably , Syvis is welcomed to join the musicians. The syncopated Vistani dance rhythms are fast and unfamiliar, and she has most success contributing long sustained accompanying drones. Though after one of the more vigorous tunes, the viol player surprises her with an elegiac ballad reminiscent of music from her youth among the druidic tribe. In this familiar style, she is able to take the melody, and the Vistani listen in rapt attention, smiling and applauding at the end.

As the Vistani do not know that Ina speaks their language, she is in a position to listen in on conversation not meant for her ears. As with most overheard chitchat, much of it comprises oblique references, gossip, inside jokes and allusions to past trivia. Ina can gather from these snippets that the Vistani fancy themselves well traveled. There are several mentions to friends and family members just departed on extended trips or expected home soon, as well as things seen and people met in far-off lands.

What stands out most of course is anything that might pertains to Ina and her friends, and there is plenty of that sprinkled throughout the talk. Like the tobacco smoke, pungent and sweet notes blend together freely: complimentary panegyrics on the group's heroism, scathing animadversions on minor failings of dress and manner, ribald speculation, and expressions of pity, or even wagers made, over likely fates. Ina's ears must be burning too brightly at all of this talk, because a nearby man suddenly eyes her suspiciously and nudges his neighbor. Subtle looks and whispers slowly percolate throughout the tent, and the conversation in Vistani becomes markedly less interesting.

raven.jpgraven.jpgraven.jpg

luvash arrigal.jpgMore hours have passed, and it is now getting quite late, when Arabelle's father Luvash, not seen since this morning, bursts into the tent with boisterous enthusiasm. "Where are they?" he shouts. "Where are my saviors? Yes! There you are!" He brushes aside the Vistani who have risen to greet him, pours himself a tankard of wine, and raises it high. His effusive manner and unsteady feet suggest that this will not be his first drink of the evening. In fact, his brother Arigal, who also returned, unseen, at some point, approaches with a sly grin and one arm half-raised to steady Luvash.

Insisting everyone have another glass, Luvash proposes a long and meandering toast to his daughter's rescuers. Since he knows very little of the four visitors, the terms of this tribute remain somewhat general. Among the Vistani who watch this spectacle are serious faces as well as indulgent smiles. Luca buries his face in his hand at one particularly tortured passage in his leader's address.

Once Luvash has had his say and confirmed that all have imbibed, he addresses the four honorees again. "Now, what will be your reward? Ask anything and I will give it. Vistani are famous for hospitality and I am feeling generous tonight. Name your prize."
[/div]
 
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Epiphany

Proverbs 17:9
Moire sighs and pats Syvis on the shoulder before giving the elf a grateful smile. "Thank you. Let's try to enjoy tonight's hospitality. I have a feeling it may be the last we experience for some time ahead then."

Once they've rejoined the party and the Vistani, the Paladin accepts food and a glass of the watered wine. Arabelle's return brings another smile to her face and Moire cheerfully returns the girl's wave. And for Luca, Moire's pained grimace is word enough but her expression lightens and she offers him a shrug and a rueful lift of her own glass in acknowledgement of his toast.

As the music picks up, Moire's once again content to join the dancers and practice the moves she's just learned. If Luca's inclined to dance, she's inclined to dance with him, as much as he likes though if his interests lie farther, he's undoubtedly perceptive enough to notice that while her feet are light her spirit remains heavy her lack of success at Vallaki.

Luvash's return and excessive gratitude are met with a blush on Moire's behalf, especially given Luca's reaction. His offer takes her by surprise, though, and Moire quickly exchanges looks with her friends.
 

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