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Fortuna nervously paced nervously around his massively ornate manor lobby, the little bunny's tail twitching from nerves. Watching as his servants ran around, frantically cleaning, decorating and preparing dishes. He hoped that nobody would be offended or think the decorations he had selected would be in poor taste. Scampering through the long and wide halls and peering into every main room of his manor, debating if he should limit access to any. He feared if he limited access to areas in his home then the attempt to re-enter the public eye would be in vain but what of the scandals that may be aroused if one were to enter his private chambers, or of the untold damage to sentimental goods if a drunkard stumbled into his parent's old room. Biting his nails nervously while the servants around him continued to clean, decorate and cook he began debating if this was even a good idea his mind racing with all the possibilities of what could go wrong. His knees bent inwards as he looked more like a frightened and lost child, rather than the powerful merchant he was.
One of his comfort-servants, a portly middle aged panda, noticed the frightened disposition on the young master and quickly ran over to console him. Hugging the young master until he could calm down enough to stand normally and breath regularly, speaking kind words to ease the bunny's anxiety. Encouraging her young master to take deep breaths as she gently took his hand and guided him to the massive bathing room. Entering the room with him, she stripped her young master down and put him in the tub before gently scrubbing him down. Cleaning the young bunny while cooing words of encouragement to him, as well as complimenting his bravery in finally returning to public eye. When she finished bathing Fortuna she reminded him of the time and how little he had to finish getting dressed and looking suitable for the evening's event. Drying her young master off she guided him to his personal chambers where Fortuna's personal tailors had lay out several personalized outfits that fit with the current high fashion of the time, while also taking to account the bunny's eccentric tastes. Fortuna made his choice of a fine black gown that had intricate golden details and his servant would begin dressing him, adding to the outfit a fine black shoe that gave the small bunny a few extra inches of height. Despite the additional height and ornate clothing, Fortuna's appearances and general demeanor made his servant's think of him more as the daughter they never had rather than their boss.
Fortuna twirled around in his new clothing for a moment before he tripped and had to be caught by his servant before he would hit the ground. Smiling sheepishly as he stood and admired his appearance in the mirror, not thinking of how a man wearing and looking like a women would be considered taboo among his party goers. Instead he was too focused on how good he looked, and wondering how he should style his hair for the evening's events. While Fortuna began fussing over his looks in the mirror and trying to decide how best to look his panda servant would say her farewells and exit while the head of his guardsmen would enter into his private chambers. The head guard would wait until Fortuna finally decided on a look, a black crown braid, before clearing his throat to make his presence known startling Fortuna in the process. The security guard would inform Fortuna of the current security and inquired as to if any additional areas should be protected. Fortuna would request to his security to have additional security defending both his private chambers as well as his parent's old chambers before dismissing the head guard and looking over the masks that were available for wear.
Having decided on a mask and neurotically fiddling with his hair to ensure that he looked the best that he could, Fortuna was about to exit his room to await his guests in his lobby. Before he could he would nervously let go of the door and instead stand away from the door, paralyzed by his anxiety to head out. Playing through his mind what could possibly go wrong over, and over and over again in his mind he began to panic. Debating just calling off the party in it's entirety before one of his servants delivered a message to him, informing him that the first guests have arrived to the party. It would be too late to call off the event with guests already here, but he still wasn't ready to head down to begin greeting them. Instead he ordered for his servant to begin touring guests around the manor, but avoiding his chambers and his parent's chambers. As well as having him tell the musicians around the estate to begin preforming in case any guests walk past them. The servant obliged and left Fortuna alone for him to continue pacing around.
Around an hour would pass with an increasing number of guests filtering into the manor and exploring the estate. All who entered would be absolutely enamored with the massive manor and garden. With the walls themselves having gold within them, party decorations from floor to ceiling in each and every room. The many different musicians all playing music throughout the entire estate and the food tasting so glorious that to even the most well-fed noble eating it would be like eating for the first time ever. The party was going smoothly, but still none of the guests have seen their host during their exploration of the manor and gardens. It was mysterious to be within the ornate abode of someone without seeing them once, some even wondering if the mysterious Fortuna Socius existed at all. The party was fun and enjoyable and carried on despite the host's appearance, but everyone was still dying to finally have the mystery put to rest.
The dragoness had harbored some reservations about the plan, but she wasn't about to contradict Gavin. She had been given attire suitable to such an event, and a generous allowance for her expenses along the way, attending such an event was not something to be skimped on. She had arrived in the area near the Socius estate the day prior to the event, and had taken rooms in a nearby inn.
As the time for the masquerade neared, Freya changed out of her normal attire, and into the fancy gown she had been given for the event. The back was open for her wings, and the quality of the garment was such that it would rival any others there. Her collar was covered in a soft velvet to conceal the crest engraved into it, and she wore a feather covered mask that mimicked an avian form.
While such events were not unusual for her, her position of an attendee rather than that of a bodyguard was new and she felt a little awkward in the finery, though she did a good job not letting it be known. The opulence, and extent of the estate struck her as quite extensive for a merchant. It was something she would have expected more from higher ranking nobility than a merchant. She enjoyed the beginnings of the event. The food was wonderful, and the socializing wasn't terrible, though she quickly found herself bored with the quibbles and small talk of the "elite"
As time passed on, and guests started speculating on the identity of their host, and the likelihood of an appearance from said host, Freya found herself wandering idly. She was also wondering if the host was going to appear at their own party, though she wasn't quite as satisfied with merely enjoying the event as most of the other guests were. The host was, after all, her entire reason for attending. She knew that Gavin would accept that she hadn't made contact with the merchant, but she wouldn't be satisfied with herself if she didn't. She started making some effort to look for the absent host, though she kept the attempt subtle for the time being.
Fortuna would change the mask he had selected many times, almost always having a problem with one mask or another. The little bunny would elect to simply close his eyes and choose a mask that way. Once he chose the mask he immediately changed his mind and figured that was a bad idea. Fidgeting with the way his gown hit the ground, stretching yawning and taking slow breaths. Anything he could do to calm himself down.
After finally choosing a simple black and gold mask he would begin walking towards the lobby. Constantly mentally reassuring himself that everything would be fine and that hopefully the public would be happy to meet him. Reaching the top of the grand staircase leading down into the lobby, the bunny's blood shot cold at the sight of so many people.
While he had anticipated a large turnout, he hadn't anticipated what that would have actually looked like. Seeing individuals from all around Feila gathering within his lobby, all looking extraordinarily better dressed than him. He began worrying if they were judging the manor's decor, or if the food wasn't to their taste. His mind buzzing with all the negatives things the crowds of high society must be saying about him.
His knees felt weak and he took a step backwards to return to his chambers, but he would accidentally bump into someone during his step back. Quickly turning around to look up at a tall and opulently dressed dragonness that seemed to be searching for someone. The little bunny would try to utter an apology, but all that would come out was a nervous squeak. Blushing furiously Fortuna would bolt away from the scene and head back towards his chambers.
She had been paying more attention to 'listening' than she had to where she was going when she started to pick up something that could have been coming from the host. Then someone bumped into her. She looked down at the bunny with a look of surprise and slight confusion. The bunny started to say something, but instead squeaked and bolted.
"Wait." She called after the quickly receding rabbit. "Crap" She muttered to herself. She wasn't sure that the bunny was the host, but they had been the closest thing she had run across so far. "Don't leave yet." She called as she began following the bunny. She wanted to spring after them, or even open her wings and attempt to speed up her pursuit, but she remembered the setting she was in, and maintained enough composure to resist that urge, and instead maintain a brisk walking pace as she attempted to follow the bunny through the manor.
Soon he'd be spotted by the guards near his and his parent's doors and as if they had anticipated and rehearsed the motion, promptly opened the door for Fortuna and closed it behind him. The bunny himself being a tad surprised at how quick they had done it - but with the frequency of a flustered rabbit rushing to his room it didn't surprise any of the guards. In fact it was so routine that the guards didn't look at the least bit concerned and as soon as Fortuna was in his room they would shut the door and send someone off to go find one of the comfort servants to deal with the situation.
It wasn't after someone was sent to retrieve the comfort servants that the guards would notice the dragonness approaching the door that the bunny had entered - seemingly in an attempt to pursue the rabbit. Moving to block the dragonness from moving further towards Fortuna's private chambers they would clear their throat and speak in a low, commanding voice that had a tinge of irritation.
"Master Fortuna Socius has requested that his personal chambers and the chambers of his late parents to be off limits. Please feel free to explore around the rest of the estate."
It had to take a fast-running rabbit hurling past him to wake him up from his despair. Surprised by this unexpected rush of energy in such a formal masquerade, he almost spilt what was left of his drink on his coat. Then, following closely was a dragoness so tall he could not see her eyes from bellow but only taste her ivory white scales. He looked at her passing by and got picked by curiosity. Finally something happened around here, he told himself. It appeared that the bunny ran to a room off-limits, and guards were blocking their way. He looked at her and try to utter voice with a voice sounding like coming from the ethereal world.
"May I ask you... what is going on here? I saw a lightning bolt of white fur, and then you going along..."
She turned her back on the door and the guards in time to see a fox who had apparently decided to follow her. She looked down at him with a smile full of sharp teeth. "well, I had been hoping for a few moments to speak with our gracious host." She replied loud enough for the guards to easily hear. "But it would seem they doesn't wish to actually meet any of their guests." She continued as she started walking away, she turned the first corner she found, and move a short distance down that hall before she stopped, and turned to face the direction she'd come from. She watched first to see if the fox had followed her, then continued to 'listen' and watch to see if their host would come back out of their room or if she'd lost her only chance that night to speak with them.
That was until the guard who had left earlier returned with a portly panda woman in tow. The chubby panda would talk to the guards before turning and giving a friendly smile to Miko before walking over to Freya. The panda would then go over to Freya and introduce herself as one of Fortuna's comfort servants.
"Mademoiselle, the guardsmen informed me you were following the young master while he was running into his private chambers. I know not what happened to cause him to have done that, but please do not think t'was a gesture of malice. The young master simply has some... 'anxieties' regarding socializing. Nothing personal at all!"
The panda would then lean in towards Freya and whisper so only she could hear her.
"If you want to meet the young master then do all of us a favor and keep this little situation under wraps. He'll appreciate not having it get out, and I'll appreciate my job in consoling him being that much easier. Do this and I will do what I can in getting you an audience with the young master."
The panda would then give a curtsy of farewell before heading towards the private chambers. Giving another friendly smile to Miko before heading inside the massive doors. Once the panda was inside the doors the guards would return to standing in front of the door.
Inside his private chambers Fortuna remained hidden beneath the massive layers of blankets and pillows. Blushing and mentally berating himself continuously for the failed social interaction. Over and over and over, like the wheel on a windmill just constant mental self deprecation accompanied with thoughts of worst case scenarios from the simple accident.
"Go there have fun, they said..." uttered Miko for himself, when the panda got back to the host's room. He never had to experience any masquerade like this one, where the very host of the ball was hiding because of social anxieties. To him, throwing an enormous event like this one with such anxieties was pure madness. The bunny made himself a rod for his own back. Miko looked at the dragoness and raised his shoulders. "I do not really know what you should do to speak with him, but as long as he is locked in there you will have no chance to do so. Maybe you should make an appointment? And how rude from me not asking your name. I am Miko Caldin of Lourdes, Domus." He chuckled and looked at the main dance hall, where people where having their time without even caring about meeting the person in charge. Most of them might have come as spongers anyway. "Maybe... Maybe we should get something to pick the curiosity of our host?"
Miko put his hand on the wall and discreetly used magic to engrave a seal. Then he invited the dragoness to follow him while he was heading to the band's stage. He waited for them to finish their song, whispered to the singer and came to an agreement with him. He needed to take a break, and the fox's arrival was on time. He turned to the lute player, exchanged some words with him, and then faced the crowd wondering if this group of musicians really had two singers planned. "Ladies, gentlemen..." Miko bowed and the musician started plucking his instrument.
"Get hot.... get too close to the flame. Wild open space. Talk like an open book. Sign me up. Got no time to paint a picture. I'll remember someday all the chances we took."
The song was obviously, at least for Freya and any of Fortuna's servants, for the bunny himself. He wanted to urge him to get out of his hiding, to confront the people. Sure it was scary to do so, but for him taking risks was part of the game.
"We're so close to something better left unknown.... I can feel it in my bones, give me sympathy."
This song was popular in Domus, but it might not have reached any other kingdom as the crowd seemed to listen to it for the first time. Hopefully the musicians were domish too. Miko's sweet voice was filling the whole hall, and reached the rabbit's room thanks to the seal he engraved earlier. It was a trick of his: the seal was echoing sounds got by another sealed object, his cane's amethyst gem in this case, so the guards, the panda and the host could hear them pitch-perfect.
She sighed again before she returned her attention to Miko. "If it was as simple as making an appointment, I wouldn't have wasted my time coming to this event." She replied quietly "Nor would I have bothered with such an ostentatious dress" frowned a bit as she looked down at herself, and the dress she was wearing. It was far fancier than anything she was used to wearing, and she didn't quite feel comfortable in it. She paused and looked back at the fox as he introduced herself. "Ah, I suppose I shouldn't let this distract me from proper manners. My name is Freya." She replied with a small smile.
She shrugged again as Miko mentioned doing something to grab their host's attention. She followed him, flashing a toothy, slightly menacing grin at the guards as they passed on the way to where a group of musicians were. She listened to the song, but wasn't too sure it was going to coax the host from his hiding. Time would tell she supposed as she did her best to enjoy the song, and not worry about weather or not she had missed out on her entire reason for being there, at least for now.
The bunny would go instantly into panic, worrying if something had happened to the previous musicians he had meticulously picked out to perform in different locations around the estate. Cold sweat would bead on his forehead before the Panda servant could do anything the little bunny would jump up and started to pace around the private chambers. Completely panicked by the sudden shift in tone from opulent and mysterious to folksy.
"Wh-what's going on?! Wh-what's happening?! Something is happening?! What am I to do?! Th-the party could be ruined, they'd think me all a fool for hiring a folk singer for a masquerade!"
The panda servant was worried at first as well before an impish smile crossed her face. Kneeling down to face her young master she spoke slowly and calmly, knowing this may be the way to get him out of his room and establish himself. Whispering a plan to introduce himself to the crowds of people awaiting his presence. He couldn't help but be intimidated by the ostentatious plan, but when reminded that it could secure his place as a power player in the realm of nobles the little bunny couldn't help but agree.
While he awaited for the guards to begin doing what they were to do, he would change his outfit and mask once more. Switching from the simple black and gold dress with a black mask into a marvelously opulent ball black ball gown that had many precious jewels all over it. The ballgown was something he had made for himself during a phase, but he decided it would serve a purpose now. This would be complimented with a mask that had the same previous jewels throughout it as were in the gown. The ensemble would look opulent and extravagant, and for that reason it would be intimidating.
After awhile his two strongest and most intimidating guardsmen would arrive. He would swallow in fear before starting to put the plan into action. He would tell the guardsmen his (panda servant's) plan. Agreeing to it after haggling a cash bonus for doing the deeds the plan would begin to be set into action.
His two strongest guardsmen would change into armor that would highlight their strength and make them stand out from the typical guardsmen he had stationed throughout his estate. Fortuna would climb upon and sit upright on a chaise that was as opulent and extravagantly decorated as he was. Taking deep breaths as his panda servant would remind him how to keep his cool when seeing the crowds of people, the panda would also take this opportunity to inform him of the dragonness Freya's intentions to meet with him. The guardsmen would then hoist up and carry the chaise with Fortuna on it and carry him towards the lobby.
While heading towards the lobby heads of everyone who witnessed even for a brief moment would turn to face the sight. The opulent and extravagant bunny sitting with a stoic expression beneath their mask. It didn't take much deduction to determine this was the mysterious Fortuna Socius. Word would spread quickly and a crowd would begin forming within the lobby at the bottom of the stairs.
Finally Fortuna and his guardsmen would arrive between the two massive staircases. Fortuna's expression was stoic at the reactions of the party-goers staring and gossiping about him. Internally he was screaming as his blood felt cold, but he remembered what his servant had told him and steeled his nerves. He kept telling himself that this was nothing more than a game, the kinds of games he used to play when he was a child. He did his best to imagine all of those in crowd were simply his stuffed toys, a childish yet effective way of keeping his cool.
The bunny looked rather intimidating, commanding the attention of all in the room. Surveying all those that stared at him for a moment while the room was a buzz with the constant chatter of those in the crowd. Fortuna hadn't do much more than to clear his throat and clap his paws for the room to go pin-drop silent. At the sounding of the clap the guards would step closer to the edge so Fortuna could begin speaking.
"Welcome, welcome one and all to my humble abode! I am Fortuna Socius, a pleasure."
Fortuna may have looked fabulous and intimidating, but his voice began to betray him by wavering and cracking at one point. He felt himself going a hot boiling red under his mask, despite how nobody was really saying anything and everyone had their eyes on him. Clearing his throat he would begin once again. It was clear to all that he had no idea what he was doing and despite his terror and humiliation
"...erk...I, uh... I trust that all is well thus far...?"
An awkward silence hung in the air for a few moments as the small bunny was visibly starting to come apart. He trembled a bit in the chaise that he was held. He felt more like he was being presented to a pack of hungry animal on a silver platter than like he was sitting comfortably on a chaise in front of societal elites.
"W-well, uh...I shan't keep you much longer... but I would like to make a quick request. Please, uh, leave the music to the musicians that are around. They need to earn their keep, haha! ...ha...ahhh...O-oh, right! I would like to request Mistress Freya's presence within my private chambers."
The little bunny would be stuck staring awkwardly at all the faces staring back at him. Blushing furiously as he began to sweat, he'd strike one of the guardsmen with his right paw and the guard would understand the message clearly. The guards would quickly get out of the extremely awkward and mortifying situation, taking the bunny back to his private chambers. The crowd would be left in a stunned silence after that ridiculous situation, before one member would begin laughing. The laughter would spread and the rumor mill would churn out that the awkwardness was done intentionally to be humor. A certain servant of the panda variety could be traced to being the one who started that one.
Fortuna felt that a decent chunk of himself had died after that situation as he changed out of the ostentatious ballgown and mask into a simpler outfit and hid under all the blankets and pillows in his room once more. He began to truly understand the definition of melancholia in this state of his.
She sighed to herself as the rumors started circulating through the crowd. As she started making her way through the crowd toward the stairs that led to where the bunny had just been, another set of rumors started as members of the crowd started putting things together and making conclusions as to her identity and began speculating just what the meeting was all about.
As she started up the stairs, she noticed Miko heading for the door. She frowned, and without thinking about it, reached out to the fox telepathically. "Don't go just yet please. I'd like to thank you properly for helping out....you've something weighing on you." She continued up toward Fortuna's room, and hoped that Miko would follow.
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