Tessa makes another excursion to the Great Hall for a night practice. And, under cover of darkness Antonio lurks there, awaiting her in silence.

Great Hall -- Ground Floor -- Amber Castle

Glowing orbs of light have replaced the flickering torches in their brackets, but the high, arched ceiling is still lost in shadows. From its immense cross-beams, banners carrying the standards of the Nobles of Amber hang, and darkened tapestries showing scenes of hunting still cover the doorways. A massive fire-place stands at either end of the Great Hall, and dark, sturdy benches and tables line the walls. Opposite the double doors is a raised and canopied dais where the dark and ancient throne of Amber stands, seldom used these days.

In years past, the Great Hall served as the centre of the castle's activities, but this function has since largely been replaced by the more attractive - and less draughty - Marble Dining Hall. Its bare stone walls and floors date it as being part of the original castle structure. These days, it is sometimes used for sparring in, or for the sort of old-fashioned feasting and quaffing that the Marble Dining Hall wasn't designed for.

Now and then, a breeze wafts through, carrying upon it the refreshing scents of spring. In the cool darkness of deep night, all is quiet and still, but for the quiet footsteps of a patrolling guard.

Antonio sits amongst the shadows of the Great Hall, only sign of his waiting the small burning of a cigarette.

Tessa enters, quietly, her body cast in the golden glow of a candelabra she carries. And like some mythic heroine of a romance novel she enters the hall in her own ball of light heedless of what secrets the dark about her contains. A twisting allows her to place the candelbra down upon an end table, and then there is a flurry of movement and the rustling of silk as her foot is placed upon a stool and she removes first her left slipper, and then her right. Dropping the satin shoes at the door she crosses the room, towards darkened windows opposite the doors she entered by, her golden orb floating about her as she goes.

Antonio watches from his shadow.

Upon reaching the windows she set this candelabra down, taking only one candle from it's trio and using it to give birth to new light. While the addition of new candles casts a larger warm glow about her, it seems to make the shadows that retreated, even darker in their confines. She spends a moment, staring at the reflection the window casts back at her, then lifts her arms to a dancer's frame. Her arms move slowly, in the pattern of a sidewinding snake, slowly stretching upward stillin that curved arch, her fingers scooping and circling as if somewhere in her head the echoes of a tribal drum were being cast about. Then with a soft laugh her arms return to her frame, her ribcage rises slightly as she inhales and then with the humming of a tempo she begins to dance.

Antonio removes the cigarette from his mouth and knocks the ash from its end before returning it to his mouth.

The dance is smooth, slow movements and arching body to make every line longer. Her arms stretch out skyward shoulder to elbow to wrist to fingers and then curls back in the same way. She nearly glides as she changes weight, stretching out her leg and then shifting it to it no bounce allowed in her steps. The Bolero... it looks strange without it's match and yet she seems to follow a lead as if one were there. Meanwhile, what her feet pronounced her mouth has echoed, softly yes, but the song is there if she had cared for the castle to hear it.

Antonio continues to watch, doing little to draw attention other than to occasionally flick off some ash.

The music she sings takes a change, both in tempo and in beat and her dance moves to compensate taking her into waltz, long sweeping movements carrying her about the lit portion she has given herself, and it is in these turns that her eyes catch sight of a flicker of light from within the darkness and her soprano voice falters, her steps doing so as well. Returning to Thari, as her music was foreign, she brings a hand to the necklace at her throat and calls out softly. "Is there someone there?"

Once again, seeming the quintessential mythic heroine of a romance novel.

The ember moves and disappears as Antonio flicks off another layer of ash, remaining silent, but watching with a lopsided grin.

Tessa's voice is again tenuous as she calls into the darkness a second time. "Hello? Please, is there someone there?" Her teeth gently graze her lower lip as she cranes her neck to search amongst the shadows for a recognizable shape.

Antonio grins.
Antonio says, "Just an admirer."

Tessa flushes slightly. "My Lord and cousin." Her eyes move to the shadows where the voice came from though they cannot discern you amongst them. "I had not realized I had an audience. Have I intruded upon your solitude?"

Antonio moves from his hiding place towards you as he says, "You dance very well. How could that be an intrusion?"

"Thank you." Tessa says as you come into view, her head cants slightly then. "Do you dance also?"

Antonio shrugs, "A little. It is a skill that all must learn as children."

Tessa nods once. "I spent much time with it. I am hoping I can again here." Her eyes raise to yours then. "I am curious as to how different the dancing here is."

Antonio says, "Styles comes and go."
Antonio says, "Do you have a favorite?"

Tessa smiles a moment. "I am partial to swing. But these days I mostly dance slower dances. Like bolero or waltz. Even tango." Her fingers catch idly at a curl. "Though tango flows better with a partner."

Antonio nods slowly, "It does."

Tessa tucks a curl behind her ear as she looks up at you. "I didn't realize others came here at night."

Antonio smiles, "Did you ask?"

Tessa shakes her head quickly. "No. I concluded that half a dozen maids looking at me as if I'd an extra head were better than -all- the maids looking at me as if I'd an extra head."

Antonio nods.

Antonio says, "In this place it is dangerous not to know."
Antonio says, "I would have thought your brother might have taught you better. He's left you in a very dangerous position."

Tessa is quiet a long moment. "I suppose I will have to do my best to correct that then." she finally replies, in a voice soft and smooth her eyes on your face.

Antonio nods sagely.
Antonio says, "Yes."
Antonio says, "Your best."

Tessa returns your nod. "I thank you then sir. For the warning."

Antonio smiles and takes a puff of his cigarette.
Antonio exhales a plume of smoke.
Antonio says, "Are you still convinced that I tried to murder my sister?"

Tessa inspects you for a long moment. "I daresay that if murder were your intent one would not live long enough to be saved from it."

Antonio says, "And yet you had them check her most carefully, no doubt."

Tessa's brow arches slightly. "I believe you mistake me for my father sir."

Antonio chuckles.
Antonio says, "Your father has changed."

Tessa's shoulders raise idly. "So I have been told."

Antonio says, "By whom?"

Tessa's chin rises slightly. "The Princess Vialle was first to mention it I believe."

Antonio smiles, "How delightful."

Tessa shrugs again. "Was there anything else you wished to ask?"

Antonio says, "I have a long list in my room."

"I will most likely still be here should you wish to run and get it."

Antonio says, "There was a reason I left it in my room."

Tessa shrugs once, then seems content to stand poised.

Antonio watches you.

Tessa returns the gaze.

The edges of Antonio's mouth crease into a faint smile.

Tessa's chin raises the slightest amount.

Antonio says, "You're well aware that staring back is an invitation to your bedchamber?"

Tessa's brow travels upwards again. "It's not." she says succintly.

Antonio says, "Are you calling me a liar?"

"No." she says simply. "I'm clearing up your misconstruing of my actions. But I'm still not inviting you to my bed."

Antonio smiles, "What makes you certain that I would accept?"

"What makes you think I would offer?"

Antonio says, "You must answer my question before I will answer yours."
Antonio says, "That is the way that the game is played."
Antonio smirks.

Tessa's lips purse faintly. "Very well. Murphy's Law."

Antonio says, "Ripley's Third Equation of Psychodynamics."

Tessa's arms cross. "I'm afraid I am unfamiliar with the concept. Would you care to explain?"

Antonio smiles, "After you."

Tessa returns the smile faintly. "What did you wish explanation for?"

Antonio says, "Your law for my equation."

Tessa inclines her head faintly. "Indeed. Murphy's law is the theory that whatever ill that can fall will. Generally used to suggest that what you wish will not occur shall do, and at times, tenfold."

Antonio chuckles.
Antonio says, "So you wish it not to happen but believe it will? What an odd little mind you have."

Tessa's head shakes faintly. "No... rather it is an expression used when something has gone in a way it was not supposed to or wished to."

Antonio shrugs, "A new dress on an old whore."

Tessa returns the shrug. "A colorful phrase, we once had one similar."

Antonio says, "No doubt. Amber casts its reflections throughout shadow."

"Mirrors do such things." Her head cants slightly. "You were going to explain your equation sir?"

Antonio smiles.
Antonio says, "Two plus two equals five."

Tessa nods once. "When not adding in base 10 I'm certain it's possible."

Antonio says, "Not at all."

"Then you are not at all certain I would make you an offer?"

Antonio smiles, "That is not what the equation means."

Tessa smiles in return. "Than it looks as if your equation equals my Murphy's Law." Her lips quirk. "For all intents and purposes."

Antonio says, "Only you might think so."

Tessa shrugs. "Perhaps it is my... odd mind." Amusement enters her eyes a moment, but it subsides to reasonable levels.

Antonio arches his brow, "Perhaps?" he asks as if there were any other option.

Tessa shrugs again. "Perhaps. Or a stray applied math class but I believe that strays too far from subject."

Antonio says, "Very dangerous. Very dangerous indeed."

Tessa smirks faintly. "For a moment I thought you'd thrown out a real compliment."

Antonio sucks in a lungful of smoke.

Antonio says, "You congratulate yourself too early."

"You recognized that too quickly."

Antonio says, "Only for one such as you."

"And I shall take that with the salt it needs."

Antonio says, "Ketchup too. It matches your eyes."

Tessa chuckles softly. "Oh... but they burn only for you." she says, sarcasm spilling like heinz fifty-seven across her words.

Antonio shakes his head faintly, "Not yet. But they will burn."

Tessa shrugs. "Perhaps." her lips quirk. "Maybe when two plus two equals five."

Antonio withdraws his cigarette, holding it at your eye height, the ember a fiery light in a hall of shadows, "As you wish," he says with a smile. Antonio steps toward you.

Tessa's arms cross, but she doesn't retreat, instead her hand nearly moves to her left wrist.

Antonio says calmly, "Pull it and you'll die where you stand."

Tessa returns, just as calm. "Then bring that flame no closer to my eyes."

Antonio flicks the cigarette at you. As it sails through the air his hand lashes out to grab at your wrist with the knife in it, attempting to pull it away from your other hand.

Tessa's hand comes up to block the cigarette and as it does she lets out a high pitched roar designed to cut through the hordes of people and noise of Mardi Gras. Scaling from an A to a high G it echoes through out the halls.

Antonio's free hand searches for the dagger as he holds your arm.
Antonio smiles back at you.

Tessa plants a foot then draws back her other kicking at Antonio to forestall his actions at her wrist.

Antonio checks Tessa's kick with his boot as he gently draws out the dagger from the wrist sheath. With a subtle nudge backwards he lets go of the wrist.

Tessa falls backwards in a flurry of clothing, silk catching about her feet as she is thrown to the floor. Brief flickers of emotion pass over her as the wrist she fought to win back hits the ground resoundingly but her eyes watch you coldly.

Antonio says, "Little girls must not play with nasty toys."
Antonio examines the dagger.

Tessa rises carefully, waiting like a cat ready to leap given lead to do so.

Antonio twirls the knife between his fingers, nodding to himself as he watches it. He turns and moves towards the exit.
Antonio says, "That is all the time we have for our lesson tonight."
Antonio says, "Until next time."

Tessa hisses softly. "Next time?"
"I may just find a toy nastier than you."

Antonio smiles and turns to greet the first of the guards as they arrive.
Antonio says to the nearest guard, "The lady has had a fright. It might be best if you were to escort her to her quarters."

Tessa turns her back on both you and the guards. "Shut the door when you leave. I came here to dance."

The guards seem quite confused.

Antonio stops in front of the guards. He murmurs quietly to them. More guards arrive, ready for action, but stop when they see that little seems amiss.

Tessa begins studying her arm movements in the reflection of the mirror than turns. "This is not a recital. Either enter or leave but you are distracting."

The first group of guards laugh suddenly just before Antonio leaves them. They flash amused looks at Tessa as they file out after their former commander.

The remaining guards begin to file out too.

Tessa clears her throat. "If you aren't too busy?"

Another burst of laughter drifts in from the main hall where the guards have disappeared.
Two of the ones that entered from the western corridor turn to Tessa.

"Yes, "'lady?"
"Yes, M'lady?"

Tessa smiles sweetly. "If you two are done with your ever so prevalent amusement would you care to give me your names and the names of each of the men here tonight?"

The guards frown, look at one another then back at you. "Why, m'lady?"

The smile remains. "Because I asked you to. And because I'm not in the mood to draw you."

One of them points to himself, "Bob" and he points to his companion, "Ben." He suddenly salutes you and suddenly turns and makes his way towards the exit, quickly followed by his companion.

Tessa nods once. "Indeed, Bob and Ben, easily remembered names. How delightful."
Tessa turns then, back to the reflection and raises her arms back to a dancer's pose.

They file out and a moment later their laughter is heard echoing from the corridor.

The Great Hall returns to it's shadowy confines as Tessa douses all but three of the candles and then returns to dancing. The flickers of light cast strange reflections from the mirrored glass, altering them slightly the picture remaining unclear. All that can be seen is her blurred vision barely held within the circle of light.