The Music of Lirreshire [EverlyxCerulean]

Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY GRAVEYARD' started by Everly, Jul 21, 2015.

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  1. Lirreshire was a prosperous Elvish kingdom, filled with people that could not be happier about their chosen home. It was oddly peaceful, in a way. There were rarely wars anymore. In fact, they didn't even argue with their neighbors. Outsiders might consider it odd, but perhaps it was more to do with location. To the South, Lirreshire was bordered by the harsh frozen tundra of Rincell. The only true town to speak of in that entire wasteland was Frostcove, which had miraculously thrived so far. They were peaceful... honestly, they were likely too cold to bother with bickering. To the East laid the long range of the Eir'la Mountains. Towering guardians that were treacherous at best to cross, though the rolling foothills were pleasant enough. A few hermits here and there, but no forces worth concern. Discounting the merpeople of the Krae Sea to the North, all that remained were the wide plains of Treman to the West. There had been fighting there in the past, but since a new Lord had taken over, there was only peace.. and sheep. Lots of sheep.

    The capitol city of Lirreshire was also called Lirreshire - a fact of unending annoyance to the courtiers and envoys who ended up there. For some reason, most of the residents of the city got a high level of amusement from telling visitors that it was in fact much different because it was the City of Lirreshire, not the Country of Lirreshire. Much different. How did you not notice that? Must be completely dense. That is usually the way with Elves. Wickedly brilliant, yet often mocking without the victim realizing it. Sometimes they could be worse than the Fae because their jests were more subtle instead of being obvious jokes and tricks.

    Still, the city was pleasant. A palace at the center, sitting nestled in a valley that kept them well protected from harsh winds and post-winter floods from the mountains. There were hundreds of merchants specializing in every trade imaginable. The city itself had been modeled after a Human capitol elsewhere, and in doing so had gained an odd combination of Human functionality mixed with Elvish arts. Everything that had a purpose was there, yet made to appear more elegant and nature-oriented. Visitors and newcomers were often awed at how grand and stately the architecture was.

    It was all very boring to look at after a few years. Still, it beat having to stand around a noble tea party.

    Ryione Arrowstar was seriously considering the pros and cons of using her dagger to chop her ears off. There was the downfall of splattering blood on the floor, but she didn't really care about that. The end result of not being able to hear the idiotic chatter going on behind her would be worth it. She was standing by a tall window in the palace, watching a man dig a hole in the ground to plant flowers. Unfortunately, the sight was not enough for her to focus and tune out everything else. She sighed, not bothering to make the exhale silent. They all knew she would give her best sword to be elsewhere anyway.

    "I don't understand why you keep that underclass Human around as a bodyguard, Princess Arra," one of the noble ladies said, sniffing in disdain. Ryione rolled her eyes. Lady A'daele was as rude as she was fat. The woman could barely stand from a chair without help, and Ryione was constantly stunned at how an Elf could carry so much weight. It was appalling. What was the purpose of having pointy ears if they were buried in neck rolls?

    "Ryione is my most trusted protector, as well as a personal friend," the Princess responded immediately, her tone indicating she was displeased with the turn in conversation. At least the young darling could make Ryione smile. The little Elfling had spunk.. at times. Other times she was so naive that it was nearly impossible not to just grab her shoulders and shake her until some common sense fell in. Particularly around males. The Princess could rave at length about the handsome noble boys in the palace, but Ryione just wanted to cringe. They were all soft, pompous creatures who could barely carry around a bucket of water. Useless.

    "Come, Ryione. Mother's new bard will be performing soon and I haven't had a chance to see him yet," the Princess said several minutes later, after dismissing her circle of ladies. As they walked down the hall, Arra gave her protector an amused glance. "I noticed you glaring at the window today."

    "I behaved remarkably well," Ryione retorted, rolling her eyes. "I don't know how you stand them."

    "Well, at least you didn't threaten to gouge out any eyes this time," the Princess acknowledged, hiding a smile as Ryione started to laugh. That had been a good time. The woman's reaction had been priceless. She still didn't look at the fierce Human woman in the eye. They walked on in good spirits, soon reaching the throne room where the Princess took a seat to the right of her mother and Ryione lingered off to the side.
    #1 Everly, Jul 21, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 14, 2015
  2. How Nathanial Ansar ended up in the palace is actually funny story and if you paid him then there would certainly be some embellishments. The young man was a bard and a thumping good one, if he said so himself. An entertainer. A poet. A performer extraordinaire. A man who gets into bar fights with guards who mean to heckle through him their inebriated breath. Meatheads like that deserve to lose a few teeth and they did. At least, before numbers got the better of him and the fact that he wasn't drawing any of his weapons. He wanted to teach them a lesson, not send them to the afterlife. Whatever gods and goddess existed had enough to do without sorting out a bunch of drunks.

    Now, he had to contend with a different kind of ego. Rich, pampered nobles. Splendid. Of course, Nate didn't have an actual issue with the people themselves. It was only the attitude that some of the nobles were bound to have. Arrogance, with a dash or six of ignorance. The type of person who wants to have the best entertainment just because they were in their parent's coin purse. Or the kind of person who would actually come up to give advice about his performance when it was obvious they didn't know a damn thing about performing or music. That truly irked him to no end, except for the end of his fist if they get too pushy. The issue being that he still had to help these people have a good time. It was his duty.

    Adjusting his glasses, Nathaniel stood in one of the doorways. He was waiting. At his request, the Queen was able to retrieve an elegant piano from one of the storage rooms he had found. Well, she didn't go down and get it herself. She had her guards do it. But still it was one he tell others that was a victory.

    It seemed that the guards and some female nobles had received word to arrive at the same. Which was not awkward in the least. Hopefully, they would not be put off by the setting up of the large, musical instrument. The commotion of it was not too much, but Nathaniel was feeling self conscious anyways. When it was completed, he made his way over to the completed product. It had been clean and polished, much to his delight. It's snow white color reminded him of home. Frostcove. It was a frigid, but made it's boys into men and it's girls into women. It took a certain kind of person to live in such a place. Some say crazy. Others say stubborn. Nathaniel would say a survivor.

    He removed his fur coat and unlocked the straps that allowed him to set his weapons in a corner close by. Smiling down at the keys, he sat comfortably and got into it, without so much as a proper introduction. Everyone like a nice little love song right?

  3. A piano? Well, that was interesting. Most of the bards that Ryione had bothered to pay attention to used their voices. Occasionally a small harp or a miniature guitar, but never a piano. She had never really understood the point of having such a large instrument. Sure, it sounded.. classy. But what good was it if you couldn't take it around with you? What if you wanted to play music outside? She didn't think the Queensguard would take much pleasure in toting the piano outside. Still, it was a pleasing daydream. They always complained that she had the easy job. It'd be nice to watch them break their backs for a while. Perhaps she could direct them around like little puppies..

    She straightened, focusing on the bard as he approached the piano and began to play. His style was startling to the protector. She tilted her head a fraction and glanced over at the Queen. For her part, the mature woman had a completely passive face with a small polite smile. There was a rumor that nothing could shake the Queen's calm. It was admittedly impressive, but also severely frustrating because Ryione never knew what she was thinking. The Princess, on the other hand.. oh, dear. She recognized that face. The young Elfling was leaning forward in her seat, her bright eyes focused on the bard with a delighted smile on her lips, both hands clasped in her lap.

    Here we go again..

    The Princess had a horrible tendency of falling for any man who complimented her. She did not seem to understand that being royalty meant that being complimented and courted was an every day aspect of life. Worse, she seemed to think every man was sincere. More than once, Ryione had to drag a man off for a beating for getting a bit too close to Arra. The Princess was just too inexperienced to know better, and now here she was, eying this new bard with more interest than strictly necessary. If he had any sense at all, he'd jump on that opportunity and Ryione would have no end of migraines for the next several weeks.

    She frowned and crossed her arms, looking over at the bard. The song was enjoyable, the playing was fine. She was going to have to find out everything she could about this man to ensure he stayed as far away from the Princess as possible. Now that the Elfling was of age, it was going to be even more of a pain in the ass. Lovely.
  4. It seemed that his first song was a success. While there wasn't the applause of a bar or even just the poor districts, the looks on their faces were mostly smiles. Mostly because it seemed that their was a snow-white haired woman who was starting him down intently. She was read to read those were the most dangerous kind of audience members. Whether it was to heckle or try and turn the crowd against him, her look was a bit unsettling. But this wasn't anything that he wasn't already used to. Time to take it in stride.

    As his attention began to be paid more to the noble woman who had most recently arrived, it became more and more apparently that the princess had also taken a liking to him, as did a good portion of the female nobles. It must of been his Rincellian charm, or maybe his icy blue eyes that drew them in. Perhaps it was his skill in music.

    His eyes were laid on the pricess and then to her bodyguard. A wink was flung in their direction, before he turn away and adjusted in his seat. If nothing else, it was sure to get a reaction. He just hoped it didn't make her take out a sword and get him thrown out of the palace.
  5. Ryione glanced around the room as the first song concluded. There was not a sour face to be seen. The noble ladies that would normally jump at the opportunity to tear a new bard apart with disdain were now nothing but simpering smiles. It was the presence of the Queen that did it. If she was displeased, the nobles would allow their displeasure to be known. For now, Her Majesty seemed content, so none dared show anything that went against that. If Ryione didn't know better, she would say it was fear, but it was nothing but respect. They were the perfect audience, watching the bard intently without a single murmur or frown.

    Ryione's frown didn't count. She made sure to exclude herself in her mental tallying of the grouping. So far, her Princess seemed to be the most interested in the man, though a couple of the noble ladies were certainly trying to catch his eye. They were married, but they did so love to tease and flirt while their husbands were away. She knew they would never do anything more than flirt, though. That meant that Arra was the largest problem, with no distractions. Damn it.

    She watched the bard as he began another song, awarding him with a stiff glare as he dared wink in her direction. It didn't matter if it was meant for her or Arra - she was going to rip him apart either way. Or, she planned on it, until she felt a hand curling around her upper arm before she could budge.

    "Don't. He's not worth it. The Queen doesn't need blood on her floor," a deep voice said, rich with amusement. She glanced behind her and glared at the speaker. It was Garret, the captain of the Queensguard. More importantly, he was the bastard that she had been pickpocketing when he caught her and hauled her in here with the intent of throwing her thieving ass into jail. The tables turned when he was forced to train her as a guard instead. She suspected that he never forgave her for that, but there were times when she could have sworn she caught him looking at her in an entirely different way.

    Once the second song concluded, the Queen rose. She was needed elsewhere, but she did take the time to approach the bard and thank him before she left. In that minute, Garret vanished and was replaced by an eager Arra, begging Ryione to go find out who the bard was and invite him to perform for the Princess again tomorrow, if he would be so kind.

    "Yes, Princess. Go have another tea party or something while I get to know our new bard," Ryione said, ushering Arra out after her mother before approaching the bard and doing her best not to look like a wolf on the hunt.

    "You and I have to talk and I need a drink. Come on, let's get out of this sparkling nightmare and find a bar."
  6. The bard thanked the generous Queen, with a bow and smile. Whether she liked it or not, he couldn't tell, but she was still a fabulous audience member. Not hearing anything negative was pretty nice as well. Better than another bar fight...probably. Bar fights were fun sometimes too.

    He then bowed to his audience, before going for his things. They had a meal to enjoy, so it might be better if he did the same. He'd say this first performance was a subtle success with a stiff glare from a white haired guard swirling around like a gnat. A pest, at most. And as his coat went over his shoulder, as if on cue, there stood said bodyguard.

    What happened next, he was not expecting. Rough sounding or not, she had invited him for a drink and talk. This was either about the performance or the wink. Nathaniel was in for it now, surely. She was probably going to take him "out to the bar" and he would never come back. Even with his choice of weapons, she looked to quick for him to grab anything before a mortal wound plague what life he had left. Nevertheless, the armed bard followed her trying to keep his eyes off of her.

    "Did I leave you dissatisfied, miss? That was not my intention, surely. As for the wink, it was nothing more than playing to the crowd. I am an entertainer, it is what I do."

  7. "Ryione. I am no 'miss'. Save that overly polite garbage for the royal ones who actually care about it."

    Once she had looked around to ensure that Arra had indeed wandered off to find something else to do, she walked with the bard out of the palace. The front door led out into gardens, which were blooming quite well considering the weather was quickly turning colder. It would be snowing before long, but she knew the colorful blooms would endure until there was enough snow that they were out of sight. That was the type of things Elves loved to do - mess with the natural order of things to obtain more beauty. She supposed a few flowers weren't harming anybody in the long run, but it still made her uneasy to see the bright pops of color in the snow. Her first winter here, she had mistaken a cluster of flowers as a person who had fallen and frozen. Talk about embarrassing.

    Ryione led the bard down through the gate, then along the busy streets. Her destination was not far. The Dancing Leaf was a tavern that most members of the public tended to avoid. Not out of fear or disgust, but more of respect. The patrons were all members of the Queensguard, either current or retired. In fact, the man who ran the place had once saved the Queen's life from attack when she was pregnant with Arra. Now he had been awarded a nice piece of land and enough money to keep the tavern running for centuries even if he didn't charge anybody for their food. It was unusual for somebody to enter who was not a guard, but she didn't care. The bard was with her and that was all that mattered.

    "Sit," she muttered to him, taking a seat at a small table off to the side and gesturing to the opposite chair for him. Alright, down to business. She wasn't about to let questions of his intentions bother her all night long. No point in putting it off.

    "Are you married?"
  8. "Nathaniel. Not like I had your name in the first place."

    Well, she certainly had an attitude. The bard couldn't tell any more remarkably unless she had the word "Hardass" tattooed on her forehead. And of course, being who he was, attitude was ready to be given right back. He preferred being nice, but sometimes people just don't want to deal with that kind of thing. But no matter, she that was her chosen stance, then they would be one in the same.

    Silently, he followed along taking note of the pretty garden. While some of this was elven magic, their weren't much in the way of plants where he comes from. There was so much color and life that it warmed his heart to walk through there. When they made their way down the streets, it made him think of this of almost retracing his steps from when he became the Queen's bard. At least, until they arrived to their destination. He had never performed here, and probably never would now that he had more than one run in with the guards. Hopefully, if something happened, the bodyguard that came with him would see reason and not join in on any beating he might receive.

    When he was directed to sit, his brows moved to suggest annoyance. "I am not a dog. I am a person." But he said before complying anyway.

    Out of all the questions to ask first that one caught him by surprise. This woman was not about to interrogate him. She didn't mince words or waste time. So to piss her off, he would. "Ignoring how personal a question that is, no. I am not. I could go into a nice little story about how I wanted to marry my cousin, when I was five, but something tells me that you don't care about that either. Next question." He did not look away from her, or shy away. If she was going to treat him like an enemy, then she would get the same.
  9. Damn it. Of course he wasn't married. This bard - Nathaniel, or whatever his name was - seemed inclined to make her life as difficult as possible. Being unmarried was merely adding to the strain of his personality and apparent charm with Princess Arra. She sighed and signaled for a pair of beers. If he didn't want one, she didn't really care. She'd just drink his as well. Being on duty meant little to her when it came to alcohol. Besides, it was late. She'd likely check on the Princess just once more before going home. There were other guards on duty for the night shift. She sat back in her chair and examined the bard.


    "I am not an official member of the Queensguard. I trained with them and worked with them for a time, then was given the opportunity to take on a more strict position. I am the protector of Princess Arra. I don't expect that to mean anything to you, but you should know that I take my job extremely seriously. The Princess has requested a private audience with you tomorrow, to hear you play again. I will be there. There will be no time that you two will be alone together. Just because you don't see me, doesn't mean that I don't see you. If you so much as hurt her feelings, I will rip your dick off and make you choke on it."

    Though her threat was entirely serious, Ryione had a very even tone. They could have just as easily been discussing dog breeds or varieties of beer. Speaking of which, theirs had just shown up. She picked hers up and took a swallow, relaxing. Ah, that was good. Nothing like a mouthful of cold froth to ease away the worries of the day. She kept her eyes on Nathaniel, hoping that he would not blow her off. Having to break his arm would ruin her mood.
  10. "You assume that I have any plans to pursue her for anything other than her approval of my performance." He shook his head. It was wonderful news that she wanted to have him perform special for her. It was sweet, in fact, that she even wanted it. However, the protector of the princess was doing just that. Protecting. That much was clear, along with her seriousness for the job. It can't be the easiest thing in the world, to watch over someone. Let alone that person being a young, Elven princess.

    "Castration and other bodily mutilation aside--" He grabbed his beer and took a healthy sip of it. "You don't have anything to worry about from me. Granted, if I somehow magically fall in love with anyone there, then you will know. So be careful, it might be you." He said so, with a straight face, and taking another swig of his drink. His eyes moved to scan the tavern. Old veterans and eager newbies lines his sights. Must be nice to have a place to unwind.
  11. "I assume such things because I know that people are foolish. The Princess is of age and she is not wise enough to realize that there are those out there who have intentions other than simply making her happy. A bard is likely a fun job, but I doubt it pays well. The Queen will pay you well, yes, but not often. Securing the Princess' hand would be an easy way to more wealth than you could attain otherwise."

    It was easy to see the reasoning of why anybody would pursue Arra. That didn't mean Ryione was about to step aside and let it happen. She just rolled her eyes at his comment of him falling in love with her. As if. Men did not take well to women who could drink them under the table and enjoyed engaging in a bar brawl. Not that she cared. Most of the men she had met were useless twigs anyway. The ones that weren't were either married or dead. She had never felt particularly attracted to anybody, which had concerned her when she was younger. Perhaps there was something wrong with her. Now she just didn't give a flying fuck. She was too busy to prance around and giggle at some airheaded male. Romance was for ladies, not protectors.

    "I will inform the Princess that you will be available for her audience after the lunch hour tomorrow. That will save me from yet another insufferable tea party with the noble idiots, and it should be early enough to avoid interference with the Queen if she desires another performance from you tomorrow."
  12. "Sounds like you got it all figured out. If I had any kind of plan like that, I'd be in deep trouble. Now, is it because you are smart or because you are already trying to get under the princess's dress?" He had a silly glare on his face, before downing the rest of his drink.

    She seemed to mostly shrug off his comments but they still seemed to get her mind working and the gears turning. He wasn't serious, at least, not intentionally. For all he knew, tomorrow they could run off together. That was how lopsided life can be sometimes. Now it was curiosity that had him wondering whether or not she rolled her eyes because he was being purposefully silly or because she had a different stance on love than he did. Or maybe she was jousting for the other team. He then ordered another drink.

    "Ha, looks like I am useful to you then. I am your savior from fancy tea and snooty ladies. Tell me, to they treat you like an outsider? Or are they actually nice?"
  13. Ryione raised an eyebrow, her expression thoughtful.

    "The noble ladies of Lirreshire are all Elves, which makes sense in a country that is populated nearly exclusively by several varieties of Elvish folk. Their families have lived in this city for hundreds upon hundreds of years, and likely will continue to do so for just as long. Not a single one of them has ever had cause to worry about a thing related to finances - if they combined their wealth, they could easily purchase the palace and most things in it. They were all tutored from a young age in things that most people do not take the time to learn about. Arts, political games, how to embroider the perfect pillow."

    The Princess' protector paused, not bothering to hide the grin that broke out on her face.

    "Now imagine these ladies coming face-to-face with a woman who refuses to be addressed as a lady and is not an Elf, yet sits more highly ranking than they do in the eyes of their Queen. This woman is far more intelligent than they are, and would likely be the first one to trip them if running from a threat since they would probably die on their own anyway after failing to hold a weapon properly."

    She started laughing, finishing off her drink.

    "Now you tell me if you think they're gonna be nice."
  14. Burst out laughing, with Ryione, before his next drink arrived. He debated trying to play on her verbal opening he gave to try and hammer the metal while it was still hot. He wasn't sure how she would take it, but if it was successful, a connection could be formed.

    "Well, I do tend to have spare optimism. With your charm and grace, I am surprised they didn't just fall at your feet. A woman such as yourself must just have a ton of charisma." Nathaniel barely got the few words out without a sarcastic smile. He then covered it up by drinking some more. "In any case, I am with you on most royalty. They tend to be nothing more than bait for some buttfly to come an kidnap. Luckily, for you, you only really have to protect one. I need to keep them happy or I will be a poor, poor boy."

    He took another drink, savoring it. "Would you happen to be at the performance too?"
  15. Ryione rolled her eyes as she set her glass down on the table, but she was grinning. Charm and grace. Surely he was a jester as well as a bard. She had about as much charisma as one of the little orphan brats who ran around the outskirts of the city begging for coin when the Queensguard wasn't looking. Occasionally cute but mostly frustrating. That was how she classified herself. She nodded once to Nathaniel's question.

    "Yes, unless the Princess deems otherwise. She does not like to listen to me complain on most days, so I doubt she will order me to leave unless somebody else suggests it to her," she said, her tone making it very obvious that she would kick him between the legs if he dared suggest such a thing in front of the Princess. "As for keeping them happy, it is not terribly difficult. Play songs, don't be rude. The Queen has a soft heart. She isn't apt to ask you to leave unless you do some awful thing. Your job is fairly secure, unless you force me to kill you," she added, giving him a cheerful smile before finishing off her drink.

    "Do you play?" she asked, nodding toward a table where a fierce game of coin and dice was going on.
  16. "Force, as if you wouldn't choose to it? I think that bodes well for me then. Certainly better than getting on your bad side, I suppose. Then again, if I was a noble, you still might not do anything." He teased, but was smiling right with her.

    When he looked over to the other table, Nathaniel could not quite see what games they were playing. Most of it was blocked by the players and barmaids going by. Not that it mattered, as he was always up for a game. Whether it was for cash for some fun, the bard would always consider a game before dismissing it. "I probably do. Can't tell what it is, but I have most likely one some coin off of it. Care for a game?" He said, taking a drink and noticing this one was gone too. "Well, I am certainly going faster than I expected. Stop me if I start to stumble, would you?" He said laughing and ordering another.
  17. Ryione parted her lips as though to say something, then evidently thought better of it and gestured for another drink instead. As she waited for it to come over, she glanced at Nathaniel with an amused smirk as he asked her to stop him from drinking.

    "Sorry, I do not care for children who can not hold their liquor," she said, laughing a bit as both of their drinks arrived at the same time. Since he was new in town, she doubted that he realized she had a reputation for drinking men under the table. Still, she had never had the pleasure of drinking with a man from Frostcove before. Perhaps he was different. But.. probably not. After all, he was a bard. Not exactly a taxing job. She took a sip of her new drink and stood, bringing it with her.

    "Come on. It's simple. Each person has a partner. Everybody takes turns rolling three dice. You have to get four-five-six to win. If you roll a one, you lose. If any dice fall off the table, you lose," she explained. It certainly explained why the crowd was so rowdy. Dice tended to fly when alcohol was involved. "It's an easy game. Coin changes hands very quickly with this, so most people don't bet much. Sometimes they bet things other than coin instead, like work hours or drinks," she added, taking another drink.

    "Here. Sit with me. We'll practice. Want to have stakes?"
  18. "A child? Your eyes might be alluring, but you desperately need to get them checked." He laughed and followed behind, with his drink in hand. As she talked we was watching the guards play letting that and her explaining of said game gave him the general idea of the basic procedure. This was not a game they have in Frostcove. It was interesting and he wanted to try and see how well he could do.

    "Of course. And then afterwards, we can bet some coin." With a chuckle he sat next to her, a little closer than before. Just so he could see what she was doing more effectively.

    "Do you have the dice?"
  19. "Let's see.."

    Ryione nodded and leaned back in her chair, invading the space of the people closest to them. She swiped three dice off their table that they weren't using, then turned back to her partner and set them down. This was going to be interesting. The game was very, very simplistic. That was both a good thing and a bad thing. Rounds went faster than a whiskey shot and people tended to be careless. There was no real point in wagering anything major since you could lose less than a minute after you won. It was a back and forth game of luck, not skill. Still, it was fun. She finished off her drink and gestured for another, then looked at Nathaniel with a smirk.

    "Alright, bard boy. You agreed to stakes. Coin is pointless. What would you like if you win?" she asked, holding the dice out to him with an open challenge in her eyes.
  20. "Yeah, steaks. Should be extra tasty." His next drink arrive shortly after hears. "A little watered down, don't you think? I should have brought my vintage hard liquor from home. Really warms the belly with its cinnamon flavor. Thing knocks on your ass, if you haven't drank it more than twice in your life."

    As soon as she offered him the dice, and a challenge, he let a smirk stretch the left side of his lips. If there was anything Nathaniel was good at, was making a worthy bet. Or, at least, so he thought. "Alright, guard girl. If I win, you have either have to run down the streets of this fine city in nothing but your unmentionables. Or, if you don't like long can always take a naked lap around the bar. Whichever you are feeling braver for...Ms. Keep Everyone At Arms Length." He snatched the dice from her hand and began to shake them against his palms.

    "And you?"
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