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If I Smile With My Teeth #Brandy


Rachel
 

Who: Brandy

With: Zaire, Gwen, Hawkins, Jude

Where: Reception at Francesca's Palace

When: March 14th, 872 RoK - Late Afternoon


The reception was gorgeous. The new Queen's estate - for how Game of Thronesy it still managed to look to Brandy's eyes - had a much more modern feel than she expected. The stones were polished and not yet chipped with age, the stained glass windows still bright and clear to let in the last of the dwindling daylight. The party was held in an expansive parlor rather than the imposing throne room, which seemed to encourage networking and socializing over exalting the queen's authority. Seating was plentiful, plush couches big enough for two or three people to share, and shaped widely, as if they were more meant for lounging than sitting. Heavy curtains of deep hues draped from the ceiling, providing the illusion of private spaces.


If you asked her, Brandy would have said she much preferred the turn-ups that happened with the commoners in the inns, taverns, and brothels because the people tended to have no expectations except to have fun. The rich? They were all propriety and politics and Brandy wanted no part of that…


But Queen Francesca seemed to be subverting that norm, firmly, right off the bat. The reception was full of all types of people - from the splendidly dressed lords to regular folk hoping to take a step up the social ladder. And, to her surprise, they seemed to be interacting. Something about the total upending of social order had high-born and low-born alike second-guessing their stature in the eyes of the Crown, and everyone who'd made a point of attending, it seemed, was looking to make friends instead of enemies.


The food was delicious, but Brandy had been in the food business long enough to notice a theme when she saw one. Oysters, figs, almonds and pistachios, strawberries, dark chocolate… lots and lots of wine.


Brandy's eyes were drawn to the slim silver shape of a cheese knife; she didn't know why she, all of the sudden, needed to possess it, but she absolutely did. With a cursory glance around, Brandy sidled up to the table, and, her actions hidden by the generous curve of her hip, snuck the small utensil into the purse at her side. And to disguise the theft, her hand darted out to pluck a up a strawberry and raise it to her lips.  

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Wearing: https://i.pinimg.com/564x/68/f3/8c/68f38c2900e9382b0c6814acccb4acf9.jpg


Manda
 

Who: Zaire
With: Brandy, Gwen, Hawkins, Jude
Where: Reception at Francesca's Palace
When: March 14th, 872 RoK - late afternoon

Wearing: https://i.pinimg.com/564x/ea/62/4e/ea624e2eb4c8fcc43291ad55b361eb33.jpg


"We leave 'fore sunset," Zaire said softly to Chaz, who looked like he'd rather be anywhere but here. "Whether we found what we're lookin' for or whether we ain't. Let th'men know."


"Aye, Cap'n," the young carpenter answered with a nod, disappearing into the crowd in the general direction of where they'd last seen Jimmy, the boatswain's attention wholly on his new wife's skin.


Uncharacteristically uncomfortable, the last thing Zaire wanted was to be under Francesca's roof, in the middle of a vampire buffet, when the sun settled behind the horizon and afternoon turned to evening. Already he was very aware of the scars on his throat, in a way that he hadn't been since receiving them, and he knew that feeling would only compound once night fell, so he needed to stay focused. They were here for a reason: to see Brandy safe to New York, so they could go back home to the Island and the families they'd been too long away from.


But in order to do that, they needed to find someone with fairy dust who was willing to part with it - either by coin or force - and when a resource was in short supply, who more likely to stockpile it that nobles? Someone here was bound to have some and all it took was shaking down the right leads.


Zaire's eyes easily found Brandy again - apparently checking out the food options - and as he made his way back toward her, he happened to catch the eye of a passing noblewoman. She drew back just slightly, seemingly unsure of how to react to his playfully amorous wink, and as he continued on past, he heard her friend murmur something about Captain Visser. He wasn't surprised that he'd been recognized and it wasn't even so much that he minded, but there was a certain implication to him walking around the Queen's palace without worry . . .


"Saw that, love," Zaire said softly, sliding a familiar hand around Brandy's waist and giving the purse a little jiggle. "Ye got stickier fingers than a pirate."


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Rachel
 

Zaire: "Saw that, love," "Ye got stickier fingers than a pirate."

Brandy gave his hand a playful slap as she chided, "Give me away, why don't you?" After all, the infamous captain drew quite a bit of attention - at least, from the people who weren't already too tipsy to care, whispering intimately half cloaked behind a curtain, or dancing near the singer and small quartet of musicians. "Meet any other rogues?" There must have been a fair population of outlaws drawn to the outlaw Queen, after all...

But her tone was joking because while usually the penalty for theft could be severe - Brandy had her fair share of nightmares about losing a hand ever since she'd realized her compulsive kleptomania - there was a strangely ordered sort of lawlessness hanging in the air, and the fact that Zaire and his crew could mingle freely was a stark reminder of that. No one yet knew what the rules would be in the West, yet, and everyone - including the pirates - would walk on eggshells until they did.

"Not a bad party, huh?" Brandy asked, gesturing at the spread. "She clearly wants everyone drunk and horny by sunset," so the vampires would have a buffet of their own, she assumed, and added dryly, "but then again, what good hostess doesn't?"

It was easy, given Brandy's experience with vampires, to suppose that a bloodbath waited after nightfall - but that couldn't be the new Queen's intent, could it? "What do you think this party, even…. is?"

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Manda
 

Brandy: "Not a bad party, huh?" Brandy asked, gesturing at the spread. "She clearly wants everyone drunk and horny by sunset," so the vampires would have a buffet of their own, she assumed, and added dryly, "but then again, what good hostess doesn't?"


It was exactly where Zaire's thoughts had gone and part of him wished Brandy hadn't vocalized it, so he could have continued to believe that he was simply being paranoid. But if she was getting that same feeling then it meant that he'd made the right decision to pull his men out before sunset.


Brandy: "What do you think this party, even…. is?"


"She's strengthenin' 'er powerbase," Zaire answered softly, eyes drifting over the food again as he consciously decided that he wasn't going to eat a bite of it. "Seducin' 'er way into friendships. S'easy t'get whatcha want when ya got vampires workin' for ya." He hated saying it out loud, because it was precisely the situation he'd ended up in only the evening before, but it was true. And it would be easier for her tonight; a vampire's persuasion, combined with sweet words whispered into the right ears, made for an easily struck deal. "After t'night," he added, with a knowing lift of his eyebrows, "there ain't be anyone in t'West who'll stand against 'er."


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Steph
 

Who: Pietro Weston (NPC)
With: Zaire, Brandy, Open
Where: Reception at Francesca's Palace
When: March 14th, 872 RoK - late afternoon

Zaire: "She's strengthenin' 'er powerbase," "Seducin' 'er way into friendships. S'easy t'get whatcha want when ya got vampires workin' for ya." "After t'night, there ain't be anyone in t'West who'll stand against 'er."

Pietro Weston's ears perked up. He'd been meandering the floor for a while now, ever since he swore fealty to Francesca on behalf of his father. Youngest son that he was, not even destined to inherit the land for which he just swore fealty, it was a very intentional, very planned snub.

Now he'd finally heard something of interest. Finding other dissenting voices was the second reason for his presence. He'd always been the best listener out of all his siblings. Maybe it came from having to listen through all their conflicting voices all growing up. Whatever the case, the faintest note of dissent caught his ear, and now he turned and slipped in the direction of it.

He was dressed finely, as a nobleman should be, an expertly tailored suit in shades of navy blue with fine gold thread embellishments, polished boots, clean-shaven, smelling faintly of lavender. With the sort of elegant bearing that came with years of knowing you were better than everyone else around you by birth, he moved up to Brandy and Zaire.

"Sir, Lady," he said, offering them these titles in greeting regardless of whether they actually deserved them. "I don't believe we've had the pleasure. Pietro Weston, son of Lord Clement Weston of Resolute Lake Manor. And you are...?"
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Rachel
 

Zaire: "She's strengthenin' 'er powerbase," "Seducin' 'er way into friendships. S'easy t'get whatcha want when ya got vampires workin' for ya." "After t'night," "there ain't be anyone in t'West who'll stand against 'er."


Pietro: "Sir, Lady," "I don't believe we've had the pleasure. Pietro Weston, son of Lord Clement Weston of Resolute Lake Manor. And you are...?"


Brandy snorted out a wry agreement at the captain's assessment. "How do you think she managed to become the vampire whisperer anyway…?" It was the question on everyone's mind and on no one's lips because to ask it at all undermined the new edict that vampires were a race, and therefore as rational and legitimate as a centaur and entitled to full citizenship as such. Anyone who'd met a vampire knew better.


Even though Brandy was certain she'd been quiet, the taboo nature of her question being answered by a voice behind her gave her quite a start. A surge of adrenaline shot through her veins as - even though the sun was still up, even if it was dipping ominously by the minute - her brain convinced her that this was a vampire. When she turned and saw that it was, instead, a young nobleman, Brandy's hand rested on her racing heart and she could only laugh at herself. 


"I'm no lady, but I am Brandy," she said, her tone quickly returning to its usual upbeat tempo. What did this guy want, randomly introducing himself like this, to people who were obviously below his station and, in Z's case, possibly dangerous. To draw out an answer, Brandy went on, with a touch of sarcasm in her voice, "Long live the queen, right?" And with a chuckle, added, "Really, really long, probably."

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Manda
 

Brandy: "How do you think she managed to become the vampire whisperer anyway…?" 


Zaire's eyebrows quirked up and the gesture came along with a tip of the head and a wry pursing of lips that made it clear that was, indeed, The Question. He hadn't bothered to ask last time he'd been alone in a room with Francesca because, well, he'd been a bit preoccupied, but maybe if he got another chance . . .


Pietro: "Sir, Lady," he said, offering them these titles in greeting regardless of whether they actually deserved them. "I don't believe we've had the pleasure. Pietro Weston, son of Lord Clement Weston of Resolute Lake Manor. And you are...?"


Brandy: "I'm no lady, but I am Brandy," ... "Long live the queen, right?" And with a chuckle, added, "Really, really long, probably."


Vaguely annoyed by the interruption - though mostly because his mood was already a bit sour - Zaire turned his steady gaze on the nobleman, taking a handful of seconds to look Lord Pietro Weston over. He knew the surname, of course; one would have to be living in a hole to have never heard of the Westons of the Western Plains. As far as he knew though, Zaire had never met any of the family. He gave the young man a once-over. What were the chances Pietro would have fairy dust on him? 


"Cap'n Zaire Visser," he said, confirming what the other guests had been whispering since the pirates had made their appearance. "Of th' Siren's Song." The words were spoken with a casual confidence to match the Captain's bearing, one thumb hooked into the wide belt at his waist, but then why wouldn't he be comfortable here, amongst so many nobles? He and his crew, and by extension, Brandy, had been personally invited by the Queen herself and how many of these nobles could honestly say the same? 


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Steph
 

Who: Pietro Weston (NPC)
With: Zaire, Brandy, Open
Where: Reception at Francesca's Palace
When: March 14th, 872 RoK - late afternoon

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"Long live the queen, right?" And with a chuckle, added, "Really, really long, probably."
...
"Cap'n Zaire Visser," he said, confirming what the other guests had been whispering since the pirates had made their appearance. "Of th' Siren's Song."
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No land titles--yet, at least. Maybe these two had come for the opportunity to make land grabs. But, even though his family lands were not coastal, Pietro recognized the name of the Siren's Song. Coastal nobility had plenty of gripes about the many pirates, and the Siren's Song was one name that stood out persistently among the slew of shifting ship names and pirate crews. For some unknown reason, this particular captain inspired loyalty and confidence, and, well, Pietro's lands were well out of the reach of a pirate threat. Zombies and vampires were another matter entirely.

He chuckled at Brandy's insinuation, his laugh trailing off into a considering hum, but rather than agree with the sentiment out loud, he was draw in to Zaire's self-introduction.

"Captain, your stories are legend," he said, giving a flourished tip of his head and a turn of his wrist as a show of respect. "From those stories, I'd expect you'd rather be on the high seas or in a boisterous tavern instead of attending something like this. Don't tell me you plan to exchange your ship for a castle, to clear your name of all wrongdoing. You'd disappoint all my privateer associates dead-set on catching up to you for the bounty one of these days." The sentiment was lighthearted, no hidden barbs of insult intended--more some small joy at meeting a nefarious pirate in the flesh.

"Is it true that you escaped the navy by calling mermaids to your aid?" he asked, before looking back to Brandy a bit more appraisingly. "Are you perchance one of those lovely mermaids?

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Rachel
 

Brandy noticed that the young lord showed a distinct non-reaction to her comment, and she found that interesting. No affirmation, no dissent, even if he made sure that they knew he'd heard and understood. Curious


Zaire: "Cap'n Zaire Visser," "Of th' Siren's Song."


"Captain, your stories are legend," "From those stories, I'd expect you'd rather be on the high seas or in a boisterous tavern instead of attending something like this. Don't tell me you plan to exchange your ship for a castle, to clear your name of all wrongdoing. You'd disappoint all my privateer associates dead-set on catching up to you for the bounty one of these days."  "Is it true that you escaped the navy by calling mermaids to your aid?" "Are you perchance one of those lovely mermaids?"


The interested, contemplative look on Brandy's face was overcome, at that last comment, by an overly-amused smile. She tossed her hair and gave a lock a theatrical twirl, "Sorry, no - but, right? This red hair is totally rocking an Ariel vibe." 


She didn't wait for the joke to land because it wouldn't, but that didn't make it less satisfying for herself... 


Or so she thought. 


While neither Zaire nor Lord Weston here laughed, exactly, Brandy heard a perfectly-timed chortle over her shoulder. She turned her head quickly, but she didn't see the man's face. He was coughing desperately into his sleeve - probably the unfortunate combination of drinking and laughing in the same breath. Her gut said that he'd been laughing at her joke… but she couldn't be sure of that. He stood in a circle of four, after all… 


She couldn't help it. She added, a touch louder, "Hashtag-little-mermaid-2021. Or maybe more like twelve-twenty-one?" 


He glanced her way, but there was no way to fight through her thoughts to determine if it was because he understood - that he was also a New Yorker - or if he was just alerted to the volume. So, Brandy shrugged it off, and returned her attention to her companions. 


"The Queen's - uhh - accumulating quite the entourage, huh?" Brandy said, her obscure choice of words and tone deliberate to try to draw out a bit more of their aquiantance's intention. No Lord of the West was about to be tipping his head to the likes of them without an agenda. Maybe he wanted connections on the coast, or a ship, or an ear to the ground with the commoners. They needed to know. "Vampires, and pirates," that word came out a bit sour, as Brandy was still in shock that Francesca had managed to pull Zaire in after killing his men and nearly executing himself, but she didn't linger there and instead added, pointedly, "And the Westons, now? Isn't your family like a big deal?"

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Manda
 

Pietro: "Captain, your stories are legend," he said, giving a flourished tip of his head and a turn of his wrist as a show of respect. "From those stories, I'd expect you'd rather be on the high seas or in a boisterous tavern instead of attending something like this. Don't tell me you plan to exchange your ship for a castle, to clear your name of all wrongdoing. You'd disappoint all my privateer associates dead-set on catching up to you for the bounty one of these days." … "Is it true that you escaped the navy by calling mermaids to your aid?" he asked, before looking back to Brandy a bit more appraisingly. "Are you perchance one of those lovely mermaids?"


Brandy: "Sorry, no - but, right? This red hair is totally rocking an Ariel vibe." … "Hashtag-little-mermaid-2021. Or maybe more like twelve-twenty-one?" 


Though he graced Brandy with a wry smile - New Yorkers spoke such nonsense - there was nothing the Captain could add without understanding the context of her words. Instead, he focused on Lord Weston and his politely fishing comments. "You've little t'worry 'bout," Zaire assured the nobleman, and his smile sharpened enough to show the glint of a golden tooth. "I never disappoint." As to whether his crew had used a tempting of mermaids to make their escape, well, that was a rumor he didn't plan to confirm nor deny.


Brandy: "The Queen's - uhh - accumulating quite the entourage, huh?" ...  "Vampires, and pirates," ... "And the Westons, now? Isn't your family like a big deal?"


Big enough, Zaire silently agreed while pointedly ignoring Brandy's tone. She'd made her opinions perfectly clear and now was hardly an ideal time to rehash that argument. Reaching out, Zaire plucked a full glass from the tray of a passing servant and handed it to Brandy, then took a second for himself. That he didn't bother to get one for Weston could be interpreted in whatever way the nobleman wanted and it was likely to be correct because there wasn't only a single reason for Zaire's actions. It was an intentional slight, a sign that the Captain had no reason to play nice - yet. Weston's could get his own damn drink. 


"She 'as persuasive friends," Zaire said, eyeing Pietro again and wondering if those expensive clothes hid distinctive puncture wounds. Not that he could talk. 


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