Hazama - An Illyrian Christmas

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Description: Illyria hosts a Christmas party, opening its palace doors to everyone. Apparently, some people took that sincerely to heart. Featuring: an unhealthy amount of NOL! Scandalous Christmas outfits! Ky maintaining his noble purity! Leo Whitefang's desperate struggle for alcohol! Big Blue causing property damage! And so much more!

Illyria, deep in the heart of southeastern Europe is a happy place. The people love their home, love their kings and love an excuse to be festive. The city itself in all of its Neo-Renaissance stylings has been decked out. Garlands of green boughs drape from arches and wind around columns. Every single tree in the city is been decorated with lights and ornaments in bright reds and greens. The people themselves are in a festive mood, friendly and kind to all. Just following the example of the First King, they say.

The palace, too, is clad in festive clothing. Green silver and gold garlands line the edges of the roof, twined with white lights. The walking paths on the ground are lit as well, the usual solar lamps replaced with little christmas trees.

Inside the palace, the decor is festive, but slightly subdued. Classier. Even the ballroom where King Ky's party is being held is less garish and more old world. The hearth in one end of the room is roaring cheerfully, unmarked red and white stockings hung on the mantle. Long tables line either wall, covered in a banquet of finger foods and bowls of egg nog and hot cider, with pots of tea, coffee and rich hot chocolate.

The First King himself is almost late to his own party, having been out and about in the city, lending his presence and hands to various things that needed doing, because in his mind a King should always be the first in line to help those in need. At present, he is not bearing Thunderseal. It hangs from the wall on the opposite end of the ballroom as the fireplace, resting hilt down above the almost throne looking chair of the First King. Equally sized chairs flank the one with the sword above it, presumably belonging to Leo and the Third King.

Ky himself is dressed very casually. Khaki trousers, plain brown loafers and a traditional red and white ugly christmas sweater. And a santa hat. He is milling about the crowd, steaming teacup in hand, a gentle smile on his face and a kindly twinkle in his eye that wouldn't be out of place on Santa.

Mai Shiranui heard something about a classy Christmas party. She's a classy girl (who loves attention and free booze) so she decided she needed to show up. Some friends joked to her it would be hilarious if she, a cool model, wore an Ugly Christmas Sweater. But Mai wasn't sure if an ugly Christmas sweater really suited her style. So she wore half of a Christmas sweater! It's red: her favorite color. Her skirt is also red, a layered tiered skirt that moves around a lot when she walks.

It's okay that one half of her sweater (sleeve and then some, at least) is missing, because she is technically fulfilling public decency laws by doing the extremely tacky Pinterest approved Rudolph Boob decoration. A bright shiny nose covers her right side JUST enough, and the rest of the look is accented by stick-on googly-eyes and painted on antlers. The sweater fabric connects on her left side waist, but only just enough.

Mai is not at all late to the party. She's checking out what's on offer and decides to go for hot cider, as long as there's whiskey to dump into it. While she is getting her drink spiked, she takes note of the party host. He has really good hair.

For his part, the blue-skinned Oni was playing the part of wallflower, off in one of the corners while people mingled. He gave himself the role of security, wearing the distinctive Sacred Order colors with his usual gear underneath. This meant he didn't have to let his guard down too much, and didn't need to get too sociable or chatty. In his hand was a mostly empty can, malt liquor going down smooth, and without much effect on Blue's focus. He'd need to down a few kegs in order to get really buzzed. Later tonight, if another damn person came up wanting to touch his horns, he just might do that.

"Hey. Don't do it. HEY."

He snapped his fingers, pointing at someone who was moments away from touching one of the ice sculptures. His voice and face were stern, his eyes glowing with yellow flame.

"Do not. Touch. The swan."

They didn't touch the swan.

Biyu is not exactly, ah, a religious sort of person. Not that scientists and archeologists and the like can't be--she just isn't. Still, traditions must be observed, mustn't they? Besides, it isn't good to be cooped up in one's office all the time, studying and translating and theorizing... and Biyu's been doing a lot of that, trying to understand the depths of the history of Illyria--what she knows of it, anyways.

Sure, she gets out and exercises, stretches, practices her martial arts, but really, just getting out is not something she does too often. So she makes the effort. She's wearing... not the traditional 'ugly sweater', but she does have a green sweater on, and a pair of (muted) red pants. No hat, and she leaves the arm at home--well, in her quarters, hovering in place silently. No sword, either, not here, not now. Illyria isn't really the kind of place where fights just break out... usually.

Lots of unfamiliar faces, and faces she just hasn't seen in a while, as she moves about slowly, nodding and smiling and exchanging words with a few of the people she's come to know since she came to live under the auspices of the Sacred Order.

The darkness of the evening is broken by two headlamps shining on the driveway up to the palace. The sleek yet antiquated form of a green Jaguar model car, the SS 100, pulls into the front gates of the castle. The doors open, and stepping out into the chill winter air is Dudley, one of, if not THE, top boxers in Britain. He guards against the cold in a dark brown riding overcat, and a matching colored top hat on his head. He tosses the keys to one of the valets as he enters the palace.

The coat and hat are hung where they should, revealing Dudley's usual attire of green pants and frilled white shirt - and of course, blue boxing gloves. Within minutes he has a hot cup of tea in his hands and he is milling about the party, mingling.

He is frequently invited to social events like this, thanks to his family name and boxing prowess. But this particular Christmas party was in his interest to attend - as the King's people were in posession of an old heirloom of his he has hoped to re-acquire, no matter the price. He keeps his eyes open for any prominent officials to speak with.

There's suave, sophisticated social butterflies moving through the guests like eels through coral. There's bright, cheerful, friendly and outgoing partygoers thrilled with being at such a high society event.

And then, there's Noel.

At least she's not wearing her uniform. That would be silly, here, despite just about every instruction on the subject in the NOL manual for formal dress occasions. Instead, she has on a nice blue blouse and skirt combo, with a blue yule garland for a stole. Here's to hoping there's no one else from the NOL here. She's supposed to be low-key, here.

It's hard to be low key when you're just slightly terrified, though, and for the moment, Noel's shivering like a slim blonde snowman. Her back is to one wall, eyeing Big Blue warily, then looking around at all the other socially adept, mingling guests like they're another, somewhat dangerous unknown species. She's not going to acquit herself well, here, clearly.

She nervously fidgets with her cup of hot chocolate, blowing on it to cool it. While she waits for that, she glances around, looking for something in particular.

A Christmas celebration! In Illyria! To spread good will! All are welcome, as long as they possess the holiday spirit!

And if you're lacking in the 'spirit' portion of the proviso, remember always this tried and true rule of thumb:

'Fake it till you make it.'

It is under these hallowed auspices that Acting Colonel Hazama of the NOL's Intelligence Division arrives in the bounds of Illyria's palace depths today. Arranged to attend this party as something of a 'gesture of good will' (political maneuver) -- because, after all, who in the Librarium is more polite and deferential than he? -- the green-haired officer of the Library arrives with perfect pomp and ceremony and, of course, respect for this event. That he arrives just late enough to stand out is doubtless coincidence because he must simply be /terribly/ busy -- but surely, he must make up for it with his choice of attire: much like his standard outfit, save for a red and green fedora, red frock coat, green vest, and red slacks and -- of /course/ -- the tackiest of Christmas ties, decorated with a plethora of cheerful Santas ho ho hoing their merry way straight across the garrishly red fabric.

Really, it's not too great a stretch. He's already got the hair for the season.

And so, eyes squint shut with his obvious mirth, smile as ever-present and festive as ever, Hazama strolls his way through the ballroom with an enthusiastic clap of his hands, utterly touched by the Christmas spirit of this great country and their selfless leaders. And not simply enthused by the opportunity to waste time and avoid work.

"My goodness, egg nog and everything! And is that a swan sculpture I see? They've really pulled out all the stops today! What a quaint little place."


Leo Whitefang's brawny form makes for a fairly visible entrance as he finally arrives to the festivities accompanied by several Sacred Order knights and having traded his usual brown and gold great coat and fur ensemble for a red and white one of similar make and size complete with holiday hat. This has the unintended effect of making him look like a bodybuilders younger version of Santa Clause given his beard and mane like hair but the possibilities seem lost on him and he winds his way through the crowd, nodding curtly in greeting to various ones that catch his eye as he approaches a large chair set aside for him,

"Well..so far so good. This isn't a total disaster yet. In fact...it's down right...hmm.. festive.." he muses just before he drops his frame down into his seat, swamping over it with his form and then pushing to lean backwards. He flips his dictionary out with a flourish of his large hands and after a second or two of contemplation, jots the word 'Festive' down and then closes the book with a rough sound and a nod of approval.

"Ah. Such a lovely bit of festivity. Hmm, hmm, hmm! Quite ze change from those stuffy military barracks."

A lonesome figure strides casually through the capitol city, wandering a meandering trail through the thick throngs of cheerful residents. Though she has not chosen to decorate herself in the usual colors of the season, her outfit is still a great deal brighter than comes naturally, having shed her elegant black officer's uniform for one of the standard blue and gold numbers worn by NOL personnel. The long golden tresses of her hair have been tucked up into a fluffy beret leaving only short length peeking out from underneath the edges to cover her ears and forehead in a stylish fashion.

The biggest change by far, however, was the replacement of her long pants with the regulation issue skirt. She struggled to remember the last time she'd worn something so overtly feminine. Not a lot of time for that once the fireworks started happening. But, there is no shame on her face as she makes her way through the crowd. The uniform looks good on her and she knows it. Granted, basically anything would. A shame she can't particularly enjoy that knowledge any more. The dead have little use for lust.

The long and circuitous sight-seeing route eventually ends at the entrance to the grand castle that serves as the bastion of the so called 'First King'. A somewhat pretentious title but she's heard worse. Franziska confidently makes her way up the stairs, showing no concern towards any sidelong glances or even outright glares that she might get for wearing her uniform so brazenly to an event hosted by what might as well be the NOL's sworn enemy, in spirit if not in official proclamation. She's not here to start a fight but, if her usual attire is anything to go by, she's got no issues being a little provocative.

Stepping into the large room that has been designated for the people with big fancy titles to mingle about, Franziska takes a moment to soak up the scenery. The decorations aren't anything to write home about but the people, well, that's quite another matter. Her eyes are quickly drawn to the hulking blue figure leaning against the wall who seems to be doing his best to go unnoticed. Were in not for the past few months, she'd have called that a rather unusual sight but it would seem that times are a-changing. Though there are few places in Southtown where darkstalkers would stand so casually in the open. It's a bit less hospitable to their kind than the good king's demense.

The next thing that her eyes alight upon is the tiny shivering figure of Noel. It doesn't take a practiced eye to see that the girl is clearly out of her element. Perhaps she can do a good deed for the evening and help her out a bit.

Pivoting on her heels, the woman makes a direct course for her target, her elegant features twisting into an amused smile. She casually swipes a drink from one of the tables on her way over, not bothering to see what might be in it as the contents are largely irrelevant to her, more interested in the showmanship of nursing the drink more than anything. People tend to relax more when participating in the same events, particularly when it comes to social drinking.

"Wie geht es dir, fraulein?"

Franziska parks herself on the wall next to the NOL officer, offering a warm smile to go with the greeting.

"You look like a little rabbit trapped in a cage vis hungry wolves. Perhaps some friendly company vill help take ze edge off, hmm?"

Ky is quite good at the glad-handing thing. Making the rounds, sipping tea and all of these things that a king and knight are supposed to be good at. He gives a slight nod to Blue as he passes by, appreciative of the Oni's presence and willingness to make sure people behave. Biyu gets a smile and a slight lifting of his teacup as he passes, glad to see she's pried herself away from ... whatever it is she's researching right now.

Notibly, Ky evades Hazama for the moment. And Mai for that matter, that sweater is scandalous, though a servant hooks her up with some booze. Oddly, it doesn't seem like there's a bar present, but the staff can get things. Almost, Ky starts for Noel. Mostly because she looks out of place and that is awful and he might be able to help, but she ends up with some company, so he makes for Leo instead.

"It's good to see you, Leo. Your outfit is quite festive. I'm glad you could make it."

Mai is momentarily stymied by the lack of immediate booze. How do you not spike eggnog? Is that not the point of it? But then her needs are handled, possibly because she had to use charm. She gets a shot of whiskey in her cider. Then she puts some cinnamon on it. Spice is important! The man in the tacky Christmas tie isn't too far away, so she comments. "Did you just call a big palace 'quaint'? I think it's pretty fancy! Do you live in Versailles or something?"

Mai doesn't know anything about any political type situations. So she doesn't mind saying things to people she doesn't know.

The archaeologist is a little... alarmed... to see the NOL people 'crashing the party', so to speak. But she has kept up on the situation, at least somewhat,so she knows, at least, that they're not... outright hostile... but it's a good thing she left her things in her room, so to speak. It'd just be trouble that doesn't need borrowing right now. After a few minutes of minor talk, she too gets herself a mug of hot chocolate, lifting it to her lips and blowing to cool the drink off a little.

Luckily, she's familiar with these traditions from her time studying in university--had she remained at the temple up until now, she'd've been totally clueless about what Christmas is, or what it means, and how people celebrate it (in a secular manner). She did have to attend Christmas functions--and parties--so she's not totally out of her depth. But it sure seems like Noel is; she spots the blonde looking, well, kinda terrified, and blinks.

Then frowns, slightly, and moves a little closer, just observing for a moment.

Dudley's eyes drift towards the magnamonious presence of Leo. Now THAT looked like an official. He does not yet drift there, however, as he feels he must get a proper feel for this party before attempting to make any business related moves. He drifts through the crowd, occasionally shaking hands or posing for photos from those in attendance who follow boxing.

He gets tired of this around the fifth time someone asks him to pose as if he's punching them.

Eventually he drifts towards Biyu. "Enjoying the festivities, miss?" he asks, having noticed her frowning. His tone is quite formal and clipped.

"You think so?" asks Leo as Ky comments on his choice of wear. He seems genuinely pleased at the compliment if oblivious to the costuming implications. However, some of the Castle staff do have children present present and as Leo notes their stares and comments he does become slightly self conscious.

"I, uh, er well, I couldn't exactly be a..what's the creature called..a 'Grinch'..could I? Not with you throwing the castle doors wide open to anything and anyone. I am supportive in all things!"

He snatches up a drink and begins to give the party goers a good visual survey, taking note of any particular stand outs and then frowning slightly as he begins to take note of the NOL presence.

"Say...." he begins to say to Ky as he takes a drink up from a passing tray, but his train of thought is interrupted as he takes a sip and then sputters and pulls it away in surprise and clear disappointment. "..What the..? What's this drink? What are we serving?" he blinks and looks to Ky while slowly sitting up in his seat, ".Don't tell me. No alcohol?"

Well, she was trying to be a wallflower. Then there's at least two or three people glancing right in her direction, through the crowd. And one of them's the First King!

She's also supposed to be incognito, sort of. So it's only natural that someone she kinda recognizes in an NOL uniform comes right up to her and starts talking. At least her presence wards off His Majesty! At least something's going right. Right?

Last, but certainly not least, there's a certain green-haired man in a festive version of his usual suit. Noel's pretty well escaped Hazama's attention for now, but she knows that won't last. Her assignment's turning into a grade-A cluster within the first five minutes of her being here, and her boss is right here to see it!

This is shaping up to be one of the worst days of her life. Or a fairly normal day at the Academy, one of the two.

Noel startles like an oblivious bunny rabbit, very nearly spilling her hot chocolate, and rapidblinks her green eyes as she turns to look at Franziska. "Oh! I...uhm...sorry...I didn't see you there. I was just thinking about other things." She looks to one side, and tugs at the collar of her blouse. "Ehehe. I...well, I...guess you could stay here. I mean, if you really wanted to. I don't want to take up any of your time..."

Stretching arms leisurely up and over his head, (Acting) Colonel Hazama lets out a most festive of yawn as his squinted stare peruses the provided provisions with a look of lazy curiosity. Hands dropping down, he thumbs his way through his options of food, a perplexed and disappointed look painting his features until he simply seems to elect to give up and swipe himself a glass of eggnog.

"I suppose it'll have to do," he laments to himself, before he plucks up three cookies as he passes by. Not necessarily because he has any particular interest in eating them. They just simply looked like the best of the selected bunch. So why not have them? He can figure out how to waste them later.

And so, his unnecessary volume of sweets and dairy products well in hand, the holiday-themed Library officer practically dances his way through the crowd, smooth slips and serpentine shifts sending him shimmying past those gathered with a very very polite "excuse me!" or "terribly sorry~!" or a, "Happy Holidays!" when he bumps into people who seem like they'd be the least amenable to being accidentally bumped into. Isn't that always the way of things? And on the holidays!

If these people suddenly are down a few pieces of finger food and if Hazama's plate is a bit more richer for the experience, well, that's also probably coincidence.

Eventually, the former captain eventually settles himself on the fringes of those throngs of people, perfectly positioned to be presentable from both the Kings of Illyria and Noel Vermillion's vantage point. He lifts a pilfered cookie to his lips, prepares to take a bite, and then pauses. Green brows heft under the brim of his fedora; he looks in the direction of Ky, and Leo. Tilts his head.

And with a most spine-shiveringly friendly smile, he wiggles a pinky, his only free finger, in greeting. It's, of course, meant for Ky and Leo, and not Noel, who is of course operating on the down low.

If she happens to think it's meant for her because she's right in their general vicinity and they are fast on the approach enough that it can easily be misconstrued, well.

That's certainly not /his/ fault. Hazama, after all, is nothing if not an ineffable professional.

Ky has the good grace to look concerned when Leo sputters. He's about to ask if the other man is alright when the Question is asked. Ky blinks in confusion, tilting his head slightly.

"Alcohol? I don't touch the stuff, Leo." He pauses. "Should... Should we be serving it?"

He looks honestly purturbed, the poor bastard. "I didn't even think about it. I am sorry." Ky waves over a member of staff and enters into a whispered conversation. He gestures a few times with his teacup before the man scurries off. No more than two minutes pass before he comes back.

He comes with two others, pushing and pulling what looks like one of those portable bars you see in hotels at banquets. It looks well stocked. They set up shop at the fireplace end of the room, and the line is going to be long. Probably.

Franziska's smile only seems to widen as the young officer startles and stammers, nearly spilling her drink. Oh my, this one is quite the skittish little thing. A rather unusual trait for a soldier. And an officer at that, if memory serves. What was her name? Ah, yes, Noel. A rather fitting coincidence for such an event.

"Nonsense, fraulein!"

The woman throws her arms wide in a grand gesture, her lips peeling back to flash a beatific smile composed of perfect pearly white teeth. She doesn't seem to care if her mannerisms draws attention their way, oblivious to whatever super sekkrit mission the lieutenant might or might not have been given.

"You are clearly in need of some company! Und besides," she says, her melodic Austrian voice taking on an amused tone, eyes glittering as if sharing some private joke. "I haf nothing but time zees days. Hmm hmm hmm..."

Turning to plant her back on the wall again so that she might take in their surroundings while keeping the little lieutenant company, Franziska quick takes note of the attention being drawn to their little corner of the room. She scoots over next to the young girl and leans down to whisper at her conspiratorily.

"Hmm. Don't look now but I sink ze two men over zere have taken an interest in you."

An elbow emerges from the heavy greatcoat to nudge Noel in the side suggestively a couple of times.

"Oh and look! Zere's another one over zere," she says, shifting her gaze towards Hazama's unintentional wave in their direction.

"You are quite popular, fraulein! Is zat vhy you are hiding over here? Too many admirers, hmm?"

Mai managed to get a drink, but when the real bar comes out, she's already interested. It looks like the guy with the cute hair is sort of occupied but maybe she can get his attention later.

She concocts a devious plan. She leaves a little ninja log in line to hold her place for her. When the line reaches the front, she'll just take its place and be ready for her refill.

Then she goes back to watching the snotty rich people.

A mixture of confusion, mild annoyance and then surprise all mix together on Leo's expressive features as he looks from his drink back to Ky and then back again. But then Ky has swiftly and effectively remedied the situation because..of course he has. Once again, Ky Kiske is Ky Kiske and Leo's mild annoyance is forced to give way with a sigh.

"Very good." he acknowledges, "We should at least have the -option- in such an open party like this. Not everyone has the tastes of The First King, after all.." His smile is sincere and he slowly rises to his feet, intending on heading over to inspect the bar for himself..only to pause as he sees Hazama's..er..wave.

That confused look returns to his features and he reflexively lifts a hand up to return the greeting before turning to Ky and muttering, "It seems are open arms policy is inviting a rather colorful crowd here.."

A second later and he's attempting to make his escape to begin heading towards the bar. Biyu and Blue are noted at this point as well and Leo begins pointedly moving in their directions even though it might mean taking a longer way around to reach the bar.

Her mission momemtarily forgotten, Noel avoids making eye contact with Franziska by taking a sip of hot chocolate, wincing as she burns her tongue a bit in the process. Figures. She looks up at Franziska, curiously, as the other woman starts to speak.

As soon as Franziska starts pointing out people looking at Noel, the look towards the Austrian proves to have been a monumental error. She blushes a bit at the whisper, but that's nothing compared to the bright pink blush she gets as she's elbowed in the ribs--clearly, she got the reference even if she'd never admit it--and both of those are nothing compared to the deep crimson flush of her cheeks as Hazama so obviously waves at her.

Wait, that -was- at her, right? Or...well, it doesn't matter. Someone here is going to see him waving at her. If that's what he did.

Noel all but flinches, looking down at the floor as she takes another burning hot sip of hot chocolate. It's the least painful thing she can do right now.

Oh, why did Hazama insist she come here?

Leo wanders off to get boozed up, which leaves Ky alone for the moment near the throne-like chairs. He sips his tea almost delicately, which might seem strange, given his alledgedly ridiculous combat prowess. He turns to face the three chairs, his sea blue(or is that green?) eyes sliding between the chair and his sword on the wall. The king seems to lose himself in thought.

Outside, it has started to snow. Fat white flakes drift down to the ground almost lazily.

It looks like Long Blonde Hair Guy has escaped the crowds. And Mai's devious plan to get a second drink has worked, too - with ninja swiftness, she swaps places with a wooden double and cuts in line, getting another shot dumped into her cider. It's more shot than cider, now, but the flavor profile is still just fine.

With another burst of ninja swiftness, she finds her way over to the chairs where Ky is brooding.

She's playing it cool, so she looks out the window at the snow, rather than at him, of course.

But her reindeer boob is looking directly at him. With googly eyes.

It's subtle, the way Hazama's expression shifts. There's still that cheery disposition, but edged with something else when Noel blushes so furiously at his little wave. Is it -- confusion? Or maybe, just maybe, it's admonishment.

'Focus on your mission!' it seems to say.

One can almost hear the disapproving cluck of a tongue. If they were self-conscious enough a person to imagine such things. Of course.

With that, the green-haired Librarium agent tilts the brim of his hat downward, takes a bite of one of his prize cookies, frowns just a bit, and just kind of casually tosses the entire thing aside into the nearest available trash bin. "Well, they tried their best," he surmises, and rolls his shoulders in a lackadaisical shrug.

Cookie #1: wasted.

With that done, Hazama meanders a lazy but inevitable route towards one person in particular. A certain, important man, currently trying to get to a precious source of alcohol, currently -- tragically -- diverting his path in such a way --

-- that eventually, Leo Whitefang will feel the clap of Hazama's friendly hand on his shoulder to stall his progress.

"Ah, King Whitefang!" declares the smiling Colonel, all festive cheer.

"On behalf of the Librarium, I just wanted to take a moment of your time to thank you so much for being so welcoming, /despite/ our current complications! It truly speaks to your character."

He is obviously just trying to be diplomatic.

"I hope your holidays have been going well?"

And not just delaying Leo's efforts to get boozed up.

With pointless, inane smalltalk.

O b v i o u s l y ~ .

Ky is ''not'' brooding. ... Not really, anyway. He's...contemplating the weight of responsibility that he carries on his shoulders. The burden of kingship. The burden of power. The burden of command. True, he shares these things with the likes of Leo, and it helps, but still. It's not easy to be Ky Kiske.

He's doing a phenominal job of blatantly ignoring Mai's reindeer boob. He is, after all, a very devout man and has supreme control over such things. Not even a sidelong glance in appreciation. Sex appeal does not work on Ky Kiske.

He reaches up with one hand to touch Thunderseal. The brief touch brings a slight buzz to the air and a waft of ozone before he turns away, depositing his empty teacup on a passing tray.

An exasperated sigh slips out of the German woman as her efforts to spur Noel into action only drive her deeper into her shell. She's one of those people, huh. The sort of wall flower that has roots coiled around the molten core of the earth. The amount of effort it might take to get this bud to blossom is quickly becoming less appealing of a prospect. She might be immortal but that doesn't mean she can't tell a lost cause when she sees it.

"Hmm. Vell, I'll just step out of ze vey, let you keep all zat attention for yourself. Good luck, fraulein! I believe in you."

Giving the girl a friendly pat on the shoulder, Franziska dislodges herself from the wall and makes her way slowly towards the center of the room, seeking out another source of entertainment to smooze with. It doesn't take much looking for her to notice that the important looking fellow in the ugly sweater and his new companion in what used to be a sweater before it got a heavy dose of Christmas hooker magic.

"Hmm. Zat looks like it could be fun..."

Putting on another of her winning smiles, the woman saunters over to stand near the king, drawing up next to him just as he turns away from the magical blade.

"Quite ze magnificent veapon! I can practically feel ze power flowing from it. Strange zat you do not share its energy! Zis should be a day for happiness und cheer, hmm?"

....ugh, he didn't notice me at all. What is it with men with good hair and why are they so clueless...

Thinks Mai, as her little gambit did not at all work. She keeps drinking, which will make her smarter. Then a German woman walks up and starts to compliment his weapon. And Mai thought SHE was the blatant one! She raises her glass to Franziska. "Well it is! I'm pretty cheerful."

Oh, gods. Noel looks almost paralyzed in that one perfect instant as Hazama's expression finds its way across the room and right towards her, the very moment she'd turned away from blushing at Franziska's innuendo. Her blood freezes in her veins mid-blush as her commanding officer makes it known to her, in that one silent instant, that all this was her fault, she wasn't focusing on what she was doing just as she was warned against at the Academy, and he'd made a note of it. And worst of all, he was Disappointed in her. She's barely turned away from looking at Hazama again, the beginning of her most sheepish look creeping onto her features, when Franziska all but bails on her.

Noel's response is halting and largely useless against the din of the party. "But...I don't want the..." She sighs deeply as Franziska is already out of earshot. "...attention."

That's nothing, though, next to the crestfallen look she has as Franziska immediately wastes no time whatsoever bounding right over to the First King himself, Ky Kiske, and making it abundantly clear--in an NOL uniform, no less!--that she had a great interest in his magical weapon. Noel can't make out the words, of course, but even the slightest attempt to learn anything about Thunderseal now would be viewed with the greatest suspicion. And Hazama is going to blame her for failing the mission, and never say a word to Franziska.

Just the kind of thing Jin used to do.

Maybe she looks like Hazama's little sister, too.

Noel drinks the rest of her hot chocolate alone, wishing she could vanish into the wallpaper, and looks wistfully around for anything else of interest. Aside from Thunderseal, though, there's not much of Illyria's magical power on display, unless you count His Majesty's hair.

Biyu didn't want to go over while Noel was occupied with Fran, but now that she's gone--and after Noel catches Hazama's eye--she comes to a decision. She grabs two cups--eggnog, this time--and deposits her finished mug on the table, then, putting on a warm smile, makes her way for the blonde up against the wall.

"'scuse me," she says--from far enough off that Noel can probably duck and evade if she really wants to, Biyu isn't trying to surprise anyone, here. "I wouldn't normally do this but, uh, you look like you're having a negative amount of fun, and this is supposed to be a party..." is how she leads, offering a cup of the eggnog to the NOL officer.

"Lots of new faces around here," she observes, "... though that may be because I spend a lot of time at my desk."


Leo freezes in place at Hazama's touch, practically locking up like a car engine that has decided to seize up due to lack of oil or just being badly put together. He winces, griamces and then finally relaxes abit as he comes to the conclusion that there is simply no escape. How did this happen to him? He was trying to get out of there so Ky would have had to deal with this but ..nope!

"The NOL is always welcome in Illyria.." because they have no choice right now but to allow them, "...Things are rather different then the trying times of the expedition after all. I am surprised though.."

Leo turns now, rounding on Hazama to look down at him, "..I didn't think the NOl would..celebrate something like Christmas. It's so..cheery and the NOL..isn't.."

The archaeologist turns towards the boxer and smiles. "I am, but it looks like someone else isn't... pardon me a moment," she replies, nodding obliquely over towards Noel. "Maybe in a few minutes, if she doesn't run off, you can join us...?"

Biyu didn't want to go over while Noel was occupied with Fran, but now that she's gone--and after Noel catches Hazama's eye--she comes to a decision. She grabs two cups--eggnog, this time--and deposits her finished mug on the table, then, putting on a warm smile, makes her way for the blonde up against the wall.

"'scuse me," she says--from far enough off that Noel can probably duck and evade if she really wants to, Biyu isn't trying to surprise anyone, here. "I wouldn't normally do this but, uh, you look like you're having a negative amount of fun, and this is supposed to be a party..." is how she leads, offering a cup of the eggnog to the NOL officer.

"Lots of new faces around here," she observes, "... though that may be because I spend a lot of time at my desk."

Ky is surrounded by beautiful women. Daryl is probably jealous somewhere. If Leo notices, ''he'' might be jealous. Ky simply is indifferent, but that doesn't stop him from being polite. Even to the one in the NOL uniform. His smile is kindly, but not overly familiar.

"It is magnificent. A wonderous weapon that I am proud to carry," Ky answers plainly. His eyes finally slide to Mai, notibly seeming to stay around forehead or nose level.

Not today, Satan.

"It gladdens my heart that everyone is enjoying themselves and having a good and peaceful time." Even the NOL officers. Matthew 5:39.


Big Blue groaned out upstairs, leaning against the white porcelain wall as steam rose and the sound of scalding could be heard. Unfortunately, whoever built this immaculate toilet was going to have to repair some damage, as human furniture wasn't made to withstand the supernatural. But Blue was more concerned with the raging party downstairs, the smiling smirking guests making him want to destroy something. Then when he felt like that, he became hyper-aware of the horns atop his head, and the tusks jutting from his mouth. As he stewed in silent brooding, a stormcloud gathered above his head, the crackling of thunder echoing his turmoil.

"Alright, you ugly son of a bitch. Let's get through this somehow."

His reflection agreed with him.

Many minutes later, the stormcloud was gone, and many shot glasses were empty, strewn about haphazardly. Blue, wobbly, was trying to stand upright even as the fire in his eyes flickered from inebriation. He was holding his club steady, the massive, oversized warclub barely fitting in the outside gardens.

He focused. He breathed steady. And then he swung like his life depended on it.


The crowd of people it had taken to throw that anvil looked up in astonishment, as the impossibly heavy metal thing was sailing through the night sky, twinkling like a little star as it shone in the distance. That's when they turned to Blue.

And everybody laughed. Him included.

"YEAAAAAAAH!", was the general consensus. And again, he agreed.

Dudley nods to Biyu. "Very well. Then we shall meet again." He gives her a slight nod and moves over to join Mai, which is when Ky appears. "Ah. Mr...Kiske, is it?" he greets. "Interesting party you have here. Very...colorful individuals present tonight." He chooses the word 'colorful' very carefully. A waiter comes by and refills his tea, and he seems to hold the teacup and saucer without seemingly any difficulty despite the fact he never takes off his boxing gloves.

He does extend one glove to shake. "Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Dudley." He turns to offer to take Mai's hand briefly as well. "Likewise, Miss."

Never underestimate the sheer, frightening power of Acting Colonel Hazama.

Only a true Intelligence Officer could know how to perfectly position themselves to ruin someone's day.

At the moment, though, the green-haired Librarium officer seems nothing if not blithely oblivious to the obvious complications between the NOL and the Sacred Order. His brows screwing together, Hazama purses his lips, letting out a hapless whistle into the air. "Of course, of course!" he concedes / laments, he lifts his occupied hands in the ear, eggnog sloshing about in its glass as if tempting one to imagine what how wonderful it might taste if only someone had the opportunity to properly spike it. Just one little opportunity --

"But still, it's selfless of you especially! After all that unfortunate business." He taps his nose here, pointedly. Mum's the word, after all. He knows how to be discrete!

And thus does Hazama raise his glass of eggnog to Leo (is it spiked? could it have alcohol?? could Hazama be enjoying inebriation while Leo suffers???) in toast before the Second King's words distract him into a pause of mild surprise all his own. He looks down at himself, and his tacky, Christmas-themed clothing. Grips his Santa tie with as many free hands as he is able. And then waggles it about thoughtfully, brows furrowed.

"Oops. Is this not cheery? It's so hard to tell sometimes." He sounds almost legitimately curious, which might be enough to cause pause, except --

Suddenly, his expression brightens with revelation. "Ah! I know! This is a great opportunity for you to tell me all about your Christmas traditions here in Illyria! I'm sure if I hear it straight from the horse's mouth--" he's not implying anything about Leo's face, honestly-- "I get a deeper appreciation for the Christmas spirit!"

Oh. Oh, he looks insistent. And look at Big Blue over there, already happily drunk. Already --

-- hurling an anvil.


Run, Leo. This might be your one moment of opportunity. Run, while Hazama is distraced...!

The tall blonde woman responds to Mai's interjection in kind, hefting her glass of... whatever is in there, she hasn't even bothered to check yet, back at the half-dressed ninja almost without thinking. Must be some kind of German reflex to alcohol being toasted.

"Vunderbar! At least someone has ze proper attitude."

Unlike Ky, Franziska makes no efforts to avoid eyeing the colorful paint-job, her smile turning into a wide grin.

"Und I find myself quite curious if zat nose lights up properly. Perhaps we find out later."

Turning back to the knightly leader of the Sacred Order, who is clearly doing his best to be chivalrous, Franziska chuckles as yet another person inserts themselves into the mix. Well, this certainly is a strange collection of individuals. Not quite what she expected to find at the sort of party hosted by the social elite but then the advertisement did say they welcomed /everyone/. Apparently people took that quite literally.

"Indeed. It is good to get out and stretch van's legs every now and zen, get avay from all ze study und books. Zough, I cannot help but be curious," she says, taking a step towards the sword. "In all my years of research, I haf never come across such a veapon. I vould be most interested to learn more about it."

Mai had not guessed that Ky is operating out of deep religious convictions (Christianity is why there is Christmas but to her its other symbolism seems sort of strange and occult at times.) She is just guessing it's perhaps her fate that such men are clueless in her presence.

Dudley seems to be a gentleman that knows how to treat a lady at least! While he's not really her type, she thinks, she is all too happy to offer the gentleman a hand.

The boxing glove doesn't even seem weird, but she does look like she assumes he's going to kiss her hand rather than a shake. "Hello! I'm Mai. Pleased to meet you."

Mai looks down at the nose as Franziska mentions it. It looks like it's made of some kind of shiny fabric, without any apparent mechanism or anything. "Ooo, it doesn't! I should get a light-up one for the next party. I wonder how much that would cost."

Ky shakes Dudley's hand, as is proper. His hands, fine boned and delicate looking have a surprisingly strong grip. "Ky Kiske, First King of Illyria and Commander of the Sacred Order," he introduces himself in turn before taking his hand back. He continues to blatantly ignore Rudolph the Red Nosed Reinboob. This becomes even easier as Franziska closes on the Thunderseal.

Ky actually frowns.

"I am sure you would," he replies a little tersely. "It is not available for study." His voice has a tone of finality to it. That it might be a very bad idea to try and push. It is no surprise that the NOL would like to get their hands on it. They, after all, want everything magical. It's a small, petty joy to keep something they very much want out of their hands.

Noel's looking down at her empty cup, no doubt debating whether to refill it or wallow in self-pity some more, when she hears Biyu's voice to one side of her. She turns, nervously picking at the fringe of her blue garland, and manages to look a little bit genuinely surprised that Biyu is talking to her, not...well, pretty much anyone else.

"Oh! Uhm...hello." She accepts the egg nog without even really thinking. Clearly, she's more than a little distracted. Noel's not crying--yet--but her green eyes are a bit red-rimmed at the moment. Not a surprise, to be sure.

"Well...I admit this isn't a place I spend much time in myself." She takes a sip of egg nog. No sharp bite of alcohol, just what she'd been hoping for. Perhaps the first positive thing all day. "So, um, you have a desk here?" Noel pauses, really looking at Biyu for the first time. "Do you work here in the castle?"

Before really waiting for an answer, Noel blinks again and blushes a bit once more. "Oh! I'm so sorry. I'm Noel. Nice to meet you." Hey, someone she actually had enough of a conversation with to actually get her name! First time tonight.

Dudley is finely tuned to the social graces to the point where he instantly understands Mai's expectation, and kisses her hand. "Charmed, Miss Mai. Your outfit is..." he pauses. "Lovely. I am somewhat embarassed to admit I forgot to put on something festive for the event entirely. My butler will be most displeased when I return home - he had my holiday suit freshly tailored." He talks as if things like butlers and tailored suits were just another ordinary thing to have back home.

He pauses when talk of the sword comes up between Ky and the German. Dudley is aware of the two organizations, and can sense the tension, but believes it would be crass to get involved in such politics. He is, after all, merely a sportsman. "King Kiske," he says, opting to go for the big title unless told otherwise. "Perhaps you could assist me with a small matter?"

A little laugh from Biyu, as she sips her own eggnog. Rich, creamy, sweet, perfect. She always did like nog... one of her few unbridled pleasures of the season. "Hi," she says, with the same friendly, non-aggressive tone.

"Noel, is it? Nice to meet you. Biyu." In lieu of a handshake, or a formal bow, Biyu inclines her head, then registers the question.

"Ah, yes, I do. I do research here. I'm an archaeologist, specializing in things a little stranger than basic ancient civilizations," she replies. "So you can imagine, Illyria is a treasure trove to me. I'm not sure I'll even ever get to publish anything--I might just be laying down the academic foundations for the next generation. There's _so much_ here."

Another sip of nog, then Biyu looks at Noel. "So, what brought you out here, then? Illyria isn't exactly the biggest tourist destination around, after all..." And let's not forget the cold war between the Sacred Order and the NOL, of course.

"Well ..I.."

Zooom! As soon as Hazama is distracted, Leo deftly steps to the side and is suddenly caught away in the movement of the crowd like a paper ship tossed into the current of a rushing river.

"Pardon me, for just a moment!" he manages to get out in a last second half hearted..well not even that..apology for stepping away from their scintillating conversation.. and for the moment he is now free. Free!

Free to have his coat start being tugged on as calls for 'Father Christmas' and other assorted things begin to batter his ear. His escape has wandered him right into waiting grasp of some of the Castle Staff children and Leo utters a sudden, "Wha?!" before discovering he's carrying two of them, surrounded by others, and seated at another table that is all to far away from the bar.

Big Blue says, "Good game, things got tense, things got funny. It was a good read."

The tension in Ky's voice does not go unnoticed and the NOL soldier pulls up short, merely peering at the magical weapon from a distance lest she get an unbargained for demonstration. Her interest is genuinely academic in nature. She has no particular love or loyalty to the NOL or their dreams of magical tyranny, merely utilzing their resources for her own needs until such time as they have outlived their purpose.

Of course, she can't very well tell him that or expect him to believe it while she's wearing their uniform. Nor would he likely be inclined to let her examine it more closely should he learn of her true nature. No, this will have to be one of those 'after I get my evil empire started' projects.

"Anozer time, perhaps," she says with a faint smirk.

Seeing that the dapper gentleman is attempting to defuse the tension by calling Ky away, Franziska offers the two men a respectful nod of her head and then wanders off into the room at large once again in search of something to draw her interest. A sudden bustle of quick movement catches her eye as Leo makes a tactical withdrawal from his unexpected foe, leaving the colorfully dressed spy master on his own.

"Hmm? Isn't zat...?"

"Oh yes, my butler helped me with the scissors!" Mai says. Mai does not have a butler. But that sounds like a great idea, doesn't it?

She takes interest when he addresses the king... Giving him a more discerning look as she realizes that title isn't just a nickname, like her friend King.

Ky glances at Dudley. "Please, call me Ky. This isn't an affair of state, and I might be able to help you. What is it you need?" He manages to somehow weem to give Dudley his full attention while, at the same time, keep an eye on the German who is way too enthralled with Thunderseal. He relaxes slightly as she withdraws, but, still. The bug had been planted. The king reaches up and pulls Thunderseal down, holding it low and relaxed.

"'Tis the season for giving, Mister Dudley. I will do what I can for you."

"Quite," Dudley replies to Mai. It is hard to tell if he believes her or is just humoring her. Rich People Radar, maybe.

"Very well, Ky." Dudley ignores Ky's look of relief when Franziska leaves. Something tells him he just avoided some trouble. "It's a personal matter. I am not just here for the holiday punch and cookies. I believe that an old family heirloom of mine has ended up in the possession of the royal family here. It is an pocketwatch from the 1800's my father had back in his homeland. I am interested in buying it back; to whom should I speak with regarding this?"

Noel's not in her uniform, of course, but between the askance look from Hazama and the attention from Franziska, it's not unreasonable to conclude she's got something to do with the NOL.

Noel's a little hesitant, but her voice is a bit steadier when she replies. "Er...well, I was kind of brought along with my boss, to be honest. As his...how did he put it? His 'plus one'. I don't think he's married to anything but his work, you see. So I, uh..." She glances around a bit nervously. She's a really terrible liar. "...I don't really have that much of a purpose here. I...hm."

Noel frowns a bit in thought for a moment, then looks at Biyu curiously. "Actually, I...I'd like to hear about what's beneath Illyria. I don't think I was told about any of that."

Ky is unaware of such a pocketwatch. Amenable to helping the boxer locate it, but unaware of its location at present. Ky looks thoughtful. "Speak with our Chamberlain. If it is here, I'm sure he can locate it and he will negotiate a fair exchange." Probably more than fair. Ky makes a mental note to send a message to the man to just give Dudley the watch back. Obviously it is lying ''somewhere'' unused and unknown, so what harm in returning it to its rightful inheritor?

Suddenly, Ky just looks tired. He gives one more sweeping look across the room, meeting Leo's gaze as if to say 'You have the floor.' He nods politely to Dudley, bows graciously to Mai because despite her...mode of dress, she is still a lady and must be treated with respect.

"I am suddenly fatigued. Miss Mai, Mister Dudley. Please, enjoy the party. Thank you for coming and I bid you a good evening."

With one more inclination of his head at the two, Ky turns and makes his way out. No, not the big double doors, through the secret, slightly hidden door behind the thronelike chairs to disappear into the palace.

Outside, the snow keeps falling in gentle wisps, accumulating into pristine white on the ground.

"Oh, that seems like quite the racket! Anyway--"

And Hazama looks back, to see empty air where Leo Whitefang once was.

To his credit, the serpentine spy makes a very impressive show of looking both surprised and confused. The hand affixing to the top of his hat helpfully hides his smile once he looks away.

"Whoops. Now that's unfortunate."

The disappointment he evinces never quite manages to touch his tone, however.

With a hapless shrug of his shoulders, the NOL officer in the most festive of clothing ultimately decides to give up on learning the true meaning of the Illyrian holiday spirit with a nonchalant, "Oh well!" of surrender. His hand slipping from his hat, the man with the crocodile smile is once more a shining beacon of good cheer as he makes his way back through the crowds, his food completely untouched as it just gets colder, and older, and more and more stale and unappealing over time. He'll get to it, surely. He wouldn't waste all that food. Would he?

For now, at least, the green-haired Librarium agent seems content to just observe the festivities -- only offering a sidelong glance towards Franziska, Ky, and the others as they discuss the High King's sword.

And amber eye cracks open, just a sliver.

And Hazama's smile grows, just a bit, as he nonchalantly slips into the crowds..

"Hm, hm, hm."

Grows with the holiday spirit. Of course.

Mai is all the way down at the bottom of her mug. She senses nothing amiss other than what Ky stated: fatigue. "Okay! Have a good night!"

She decides it's time to get a refill. "Nice to meet you," she says again to Dudley. "Good luck with your watch!"

Dudley nods. "My thanks. Rest well, Ky. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays." He raises his teacup to the King as he departs, then turns to Mai. "Thank you. It has quite the history to it. It first came into my father's family after their country overthrew their foreign masters. He gave it to me on my fifteenth birthday. Hopefully, it still works." With that, he looks out the window, as snow begins to fall.

Log created on 20:02:06 12/11/2018 by Hazama, and last modified on 00:09:06 12/12/2018.