Valentines day had a way of making everything look positive, well, for those that were involved with others of course. For those that were alone on such a day it ended up being more of a bitter time to be indoors out of the cold and imbibing on entire cartons of ice cream, topped with Bailey's of course. The more the better.
Broad street had been walked along by countless couples on their way to and from wherever the Valentine's date night had dragged them, and now, as the day had fallen to night, the chilly evening was lit up by the street lights as people walked home from their time at dinner or at whichever play or event they may have attended. There was love in the air, and not a small amount of amused chatter and smiling faces.
Despite people being out in their best clothes for the evening, it was also their best warm clothes. As come mid February the world was filled with enough chill in the air to cause the nose to redden almost immediately when the doors opened to the outside world. There wasn't any snow on the ground this evening, but it was chilly enough to suggest that there might be one more dusting in store for the city of Oxford before Spring decided to raise its sleepy head and kill off the frost in the air.
YT is setup, the punky androgynous artist out with chalks and paper and a little pair of stools. Seems she's supplementing her income with sappy chalk drawings of lovers. Those who are without, should at least make money off the poor hitched up fools.
There is a 'tap tap tap' as Mercius walks down the road, the shining tip of his walking stick tapping out a steady cadence as he makes his progress. He has dressed warmly this evening, a thick, black woolen overcoat does a good job of hiding most of his figure. Underneath that he has on a smart white shirt, the neck open to reveal bronzed flesh underneath. A silver buckled belt sits atop his black trousers, the bottoms of which just come over the top of his polished black boots.
Along with the tapping of his walking stick, there is the constant rustling of a rather full plastic bag as his knocks against his leg as he walks, the see-through bag revealing various groceries along with two large tubs of ice cream. Mercius is in a cheerful mood this evening, smiling to those he sees and offering a friendly 'Good Evening!' to those he passes.
Burdening up in a red overcoat, Auggie was humming cheerfully as she hopped along the sidewalk, staring at the ground, but more accurately, her red galoshes landing on it. Atop her head with a white fur lined red Santa hat. Tugging on the ends of her Christmas printed scarf, she startled the nearest couple passing with a sudden and cheerful "Merry Christmas!" Nope, some would not let the holiday go. "And a happy Lupercalia!" That also got a confused look as well. Upon her back was a custom pink rucksack that contained all the necessary items for Mayhem and a great number of items for other purposes.
Nia, for whatever reason, was out on her own this Valentine's Day. She didn't seem too upset about the idea, and walked along the sidewalk with a sense of purpose, but carried an amiable smile on her face the whole time. The purposefulness of her gait could likely be explained by the armload of packages she held over her left arm and the bag of takeout held over her right. Her bright eyes took stock of the people she passed, and she seemed content with giving them once overs before looking away, lest she accidentally make anyone feel stared at. She was getting better at Oxford etiquette, it would seem.
As for the weather, Nia had dressed to keep herself warm. Her legs were covered in a thick pair of black, knit trousers that would be used for skiing, and fit closely like leggings but had much more heft to them. On her feet were her black combat style boots, laced up and tied. The top of a cobalt blue turtleneck was the only indication of what she was wearing for a shirt beneath the black leather of her coat, which was done up completely to keep her warm. Her long, thick hair was pulled back into a rope of a braid that was covered partially by the black knit cap she wore and the cap matched her black gloves. Notably missing was a scarf, though likely that was unnecessary with the turtleneck keeping her vocal cords toasty.
An old well taken care of or restored blue 1946 Nash moves with ease down the street. The driver is the infamous Doctor Cricket Horton or as the University of Oxford students know her as Doctor Chirp the Tormentor. The old cars lights cut through darkness and show Cricket a parking space. The window is rolled down and a hand signal is given. The drivers of the cars behind her honk in irritation as she goes to maneuver the vehicle into the parking space. She does not seem to notice as she brings the car to a halt. The irritated drivers offer her emotional gestures as they zip pass her. Turning the vehicle off she goes to get out of the car. She is dressed in overalls, leather apron and long sleeve flannel shirt. Over her arm she is carrying a heavy long wool coat, and in her hand is her breifcase. Her silver hair has been pulled into a bun. Turning she goes to lock the door. The key is then shoved into a pocket of her overalls.
The cold doesn't really bother Amelia Dallinger - known to her friends by the Japanese name of Setsumi Shirotaka, that she's gone by for the past few years. Valentine's day, on the other hand, she does find to be a mild annoyance. Back at high school in Japan she had at least two dozen people awkwardly presenting her gifts of chocolate - all of them girls who thought she was 'cool'. It isn't like she doesn't know what it -means- - it just confuses her that anyone beyond her close friends would care. What actually confuses her at first is the sight of so many boys and -men- buying the chocolates for their lady-friends. It's a month yet till White Day.
And so Setsumi wanders on down the street, avoiding candy shops and coffee shops and pretty much anywhere that seems to be making a fetish of the day. She's got at least three hours before she has to be back in class, and she'd like to enjoy a leisurely lunch somewhere. Maybe that Indian restaurant a couple of blocks down. That place was good.
Reno was alone as he walked through the streets, but not particularly bitter about it. He had plans later, and was simply taking his ease as he stopped into a small cafe to purchase a large Styrofoam cup of something hot and covered in whip cream. Hot chocolate, or coffee or whatever, those who knew Reno knew that for him, coffee was largely a sugar delivery system. He walked in tan wool slacks, zipped up well in a light winter jacket, a scarf around his neck and a red cap on his head.
Reno spotted Mercius first and smiled, eyebrows going up at the cane. He started walking in that direction, sipping on his hot dessert beverage. He gave the other man a salute with it, looking him over. "You are looking very well Mercius. It's been far too long since we saw one another. How've you been since we last spoke?" He laughed as he heard a familiar Merry Christmas and turned to see Auggie. Grinning, he waved to her with his free hand. "And a Merry Christmas to you as well Auggie. How have you been?" He looked to Nia and then Cricket, laughing again. "It is always that when I meet one friend I meet many. I should meet friends more often. It is good to see you."
The door to one of the shops opens, and from it steps a lanky, middle-aged man in a heavy, long greatcoat of the kind that has been out of fashion since the Second World War, except on occasions rebellious young people chose to protest the establishment, and particularly the military, by ironically wearing such items. In his left hand, he carries a paper bag with handles that loop over his arm, along with a slender walking stick with a silver head. After controlling the door to prevent it from slamming abruptly, Gerry plops a dark gray fedora onto his head and shifts the cane from left hand to right. While he walks, he spots Auggie, still clad for the Yule season. Raising the cane to salute her, he cheerfully answers, "And a happy Christmas to you, miss! You're late by some standards, but I'm glad to see anyone continuing the celebration of such an auspicious birth! 'Tis the season!"
The couple that YT was finishing up the drawing of laughed brightly when they saw the work bestowed to them and offered her the fee, plus some, as she'd managed to make the somewhat roundish woman look positively lithe. With a merry sort of smile on their faces, the couple walked off, staring at the picture and then at each other, looking all moon-eyed and happy.
Down the sidewalk a bit away there was a crew walking. Yes, a crew, as they were obviously all part of some theater troupe. Wearing only the finest in mid-1700's garb, the cast was laughing uproariously, looking positively gleeful themselves. There were several men and a couple of women, and the women were dressed in heavy frocks with layers and layers of petticoats, then threw the whole image off by wearing modern coats over the top of it. Of course, they were still in their pancake makeup and wigs, as were the gentlemen of the group. It gave the illusion of odd line-lessness to their faces.
While the women were wearing their dresses, the men seemed perfectly happy to not have to wear any additional coats over their heavy cloaks that marked them as musketeers, or the heavy coats worn with all their brass buttons up the front. The only gentleman wearing a coat over his clothing was dressed in what looked to be poorer-man's garments, though even he wore a cap with a heavy feather leaning to the side.
Trinity dropped Athos.
Trinity dropped Porthos.
Trinity dropped Aramis.
Trinity dropped D'Artagnan.
Trinity dropped D'Winter.
Trinity dropped Constance.
Trinity dropped Jussac.
Trinity dropped Rochefort.
YT grins and tips her 'hat' to the couple as they tip. "Thanks kindly." she says in that not quite tenor not quite alto that leads people to wonder if they were just dealing with a young man or young woman. She doesn't care and pockets the cash, and then there's a theater group wandering about, now THAT is worth sketching. Who needs it to be paid for it's good practice. Her personal sketch pad comes out, and some of her pencils rather than just her chalks. This needs more detail than lovers do.
Leaning heavily on his cane, Mercius grins and nods to Reno. "Indeed, I never did take you up on your offer for a visit, I really should do soon." He laughs as he hears Auggie, calling out a 'Merry Christmas!' in response as he sees her. He stares for a moment as the 'troupe' come into view, nodding in appreciation as he checks out their clothes. Nudging Reno with an elbow, he gestures with a nod towards them. "Are they lost as well? Or is there a show on that I've missed?" Mercius doesn't seem overly concerned, more curious than anything else.
Auggie stared at the ground in bewilderment as if it had greeted her and sent Yule tide greeting. She grinned like a fool before covering her mouth with her scarf. "Why I am doing fine, of course, thank you for asking!" Raising up on one toe, she spin her weight to add a bit of spin. When that didn't get her anywhere she wanted to be, she hop and spun round to face Reno, offering a wave to the man. "Good day to you, Reno. I hope your travels are treating you well, and Merry Christmas and Happy Lupercalia to you as well." Her gold eyes danced at the thoughts running through her head and by compulsion shouted, "Merry Christmas!" in Gerry's direction. She blinked, tapped her gloved finger together. "I think I read research that his birthday was actually in October..." With the dotting of fingers slowing, her gold eyes moved to the troupe for a moment and she offered a cheerful "Merry Christmas!" to them as well.
Nia gave a bright, happy smile to Auggie as she heard the offered Merry Christmas, which no doubt she'd heard every couple of days at the very least for the last 3 months solid. "And happy holidays to you, Auggie." Nia chuckled and glanced over to see Reno and Mercius, both of whom received a warm smile and a nod, as Nia had absolutely no free hands with which to offer a wave of hello. "Boa noite, all of you. What on earth are you all doing out here without the loves of your lives, hmm?" Amusement marked the Brazilian's accented words with an obvious lilt, though affection made them kind and not harsh as they could have been. Her eyes moved along the sidewalk and took in the theater troupe, causing her to shake her head. "Ah yes, Matinee must of released, and now the actors are free to walk around for a bit before they get started up again?" She looked up at the dark sky, then chuckled. "This city is always so filled with strange things specked into the normalcy."
Coat over her arm, briefcase in hand, Cricket pauses and looks down side walk and down the other looking for a familiar figure. Spotting him she moves toward him. Street lights catch the ruby studded earrings she is wearing making them look warm a bright for just a moment. Her offers a nod of her head and smile to those she recognizes.
Not recognizing anyone she hasn't met, Setsumi continues along the street, her long white coat flowing slightly behind her as she walks. The actors get a curious glance from her, and she pauses for a long moment to examine them curiously. The archaic attire is of minor interest in the end, however, unless they should be seen to do something more unusual than a pack of cosplay nerds.
"Happy Lupercalia to you as well Auggie, though I have no idea what that is." Reno smiles, though there is a look of concern on his face. "I am glad to hear that Mercius. And you certainly do." He looked to the troupe, raising an eyebrow for a moment before laughing. "Ah! I always loved Dumas. I read those books so many times when I was a young man. With luck it isn't too late to get tickets." He nodded to Nia. "That's a good way to put it. How have you been? Is everything going well at St Giles?." He returned the nod from Cricket and smiled, taking another sip. "Hello Doctors Horton and Horton. How are you?"
Gerry inclines his head again to auntie and continues along his way. When he sees Reno and Mercier, he smiles and greets, "Gentlemen! Brace yourselves! I'm sure that Winter will squeeze his icy fist around us once more before he yields relinquishes us to the glories of Spring." He follows their gazes to the troupe, and his eyebrows rise in curiosity. After studying the mixed group for a moment, he lifts his cane again in salute. "Keep your ladies safe, lads! Or your king will find less pleasant duty for you than escorting the fair ones through the town." from them, his eyes flicker to YT and he urges, the actors and actresses, "Would all of you mind posing for the a portrait? If so, doff the coats so that she'll have an authentic portrait of you!" He cocks his head and to Auggie and answers, "Indeed, the date is uncertain, making celebration throughout the year easier to explain." He is wandering eyes find Cricket, dressed in her distinctive style, and he waves his cane. "I'm here, love!" he calls.
The troupe seemed to be having an argument as to what was more important, food or drinks, and among the group two of the men were currently looking for the best bar to stop into. The two women had moved together and were lamenting the lack of dinner before the early show, groaning about needed sustenance, or they'd never make it! All of it was very dramatic, and exceedingly appropriate considering their getup and the way they all managed to move around as an odd entity.
The young man lifted his arm and stated in a youthful voice, with his clothing looking still a bit less classy than the others around him, "I, D'Artagnan, declair that we will find something for both food and libations, if we go... this way." He turned around, pointed down the road as if he were carrying a saber, and beamed. "Follow me, my ladies! I will see you fed and drunk, though I can't promise in which order!"
One of the men in their Musketeers cloak walked up and put an arm around D'Artagnan's shoulders and tsked softly. "Ah, you have much to learn young D'Artagnan... Always, always let the ladies choose. That way, you'll see yourself in far closer to not only feed them a meal, but perhaps feed them a post meal gratuity as well." He waggled his brows at the young man, then looked over at the women and gave them a lascivious smile, which earned him tittering laughter and blushes that were unable to be seen under all that cake makeup, but colored the neck of the two ladies. "You're new to all of this, yet, but you'll learn." He assured young D'Artagnan with a slap of his hand on the younger fellow's back, then continued walking forward.
At Gerry's suggestion that they keep their ladies safe, one of the men, the other dressed in his Musketeer's uniform, lifted his arm and shouted a rousing "HERE HERE! To keeping our ladies safe, and our King safer still! Protect him with the love you protect your ladie's undergarments, men!" The raucous of laughter that followed only enticed a further bout of tittering and words scrambling over one another as the group continued to talk, heading down the street now much closer to the people that seemed to be looking them over.
None of the actors or actresses seemed to be put off by the idea of being ogled, and in fact they offered wide grins and even went so far as to give Setsumi a small curtsy, or bow, as they passed by her obvious examination. "Surely you're all fans of the 3 Musketeers? You should come and see us, we've just opened this last weekend!"
YT keeps her pencil and chalks and charcoal flicking and sliding and smearing with fingers over the page in her sketch book as she appreciates the costumes and attitudes shown by the actors.
"Dumb ass?" Mercius peers at Reno, raising a questioning eyebrow. "I can say I have heard of it but I shall ask at the library. I could even search for this 'Dumb ass' on the computer." He nods, a course of action set for another day. Looking over to Nia, he smiles. "I am far to busy at the forge and with my culinary discoveries at night to get out much." As the actors get louder, Mercius looks over. "Oh...Musketeers! I saw the cartoon I think, they were dogs thought..." He looks over to Reno for some clarification before lifting up his bag of shopping in greeting to Auggie. "Merry Christmas Auggie. What is this Lupercalia that you mention? It's not something I'm familiar with."
Auggie grinned happily at Nia, "Occasionally shopping does have to happen, though admittedly, I have found myself distracted and otherwise procrastinating... I should have worn more sensible, yet unfun footwear." Blinking her gold eyes, she nodded to Gerry, her gaze tracking back to Cricket as she waved at her as well, "Merry Christmas!" The general happiness and loudness of the troupe had her smiling, "Tickets to 3 Musketeers..." Reaching back into a side pocket of her ruck, she pulled out a notepad and pencil to scratch down a note and nodded to herself. "Lupercalia? Pagan holiday they painted over with Valentine's day. Worship of Pan so... Drinking, fornication, goat, sheep and fertility..."
Nia snickered and have a slight shrug as she moved over closer to where Auggie, Reno, and Mercius were. Out loud she asked "And what of our ladies that can protect themselves? Is it only then our undergarments that the men protect, or do they go out and get real jobs, I wonder?" Still amused, her eyes were lit with a dancing sort of laughter as she turned a wide smile to Mercius. "I have no doubt you could net yourself a woman that would enjoy spending her time in the forge with you, Mercius. Surely, the world is filled with women that would find it highly entertaining to watch you working for hours in all the heat." She winked to him, then looked over at Auggie. "Do they all have to be done together, or can you take them on one at a time in a less worrisome order, Auggie?" Her smile turned to Reno and Nia nodded to him. "Oh it's going well, yes, I'm just out getting the last bits together for the surprise I've planned for Fred, whenever he has a moment for me to surprise him with it. Are you out finishing up shopping for your lady, Reno?"
"Wonderful book," Cricket comments when she reaches them. Her eyes are bright. She offers a smile to Gerry. "Sorry, I lost track of time and realized that I needed to pick you up." She looks to Reno a bow of her head is given. "Mr. Merrick, pleasure to see you this evening." Blue eyes cast a look in Auggie's direction, "Merry Christmas! Lupercalia, a name I have not heard in while, it is more fitting for this day than the death of Saint Valentin, a beheading. With that said, Happy Lupercaliat Got to love the Greeks and Romans." A smile and a nod of her head is given to Nia, Setsumi, Yt and Mercius.
Setsumi returns the attention with a rather formal curtsy, plucking at the hem of her coat in lieu of a skirt. "Indeed, good sir," she says as she puts on a matching faux-Olde-Englishe accent. "I must admit to a certain fondness for the tale. Perhaps I shall indeed take 'vantage, hm?" She pauses for a moment, then muses. "It's probably better than first-year girls," she eventually adds. She looks briefly over at Cricket. "Lupercalia? Is that really a thing here?"
Reno snorts. "Doomahs Mercius. Alexandre Dumas. He wrote a lot of very good books." Chuckling, he looks to Cricket and Auggie. "Ah. Love, wine and goats. The dream of everyone on Valentine's day." He laughed and looked to Nia. "Thankfully no. I finished that off a time ago, which I'm very happy about. I just thought I would take a stroll and get a mocha before dinner." he looks to Setsumi, shaking his head. "Not likely anymore. It would likely be in the papers." He smiled.
"Indeed? Two among us have enjoyed the book, at least," Gerry answers the actor who mentioned their performance. "A theatrical performance might be worth the tickets. Where are all of you performing, young man? I should see the schedule. Good theater deserves a full and responsive house." When Cricket moments on the book, he nods. "We should go, love, and cheer for these fine fellows and ladies." He smiles and shakes his head to Setsumi. "if it is, miss, my sweet wife should know, but she hasn't mentioned needing to prepare for it." He gives Cricket a questioning glance, and then chuckles at Reno's comment. "I don't mind dreams of love or wine, but goats?" He shakes his head. "I leave the billies to dream about the nannies."
"Oh you should, you should!" Came the words of the man that was dressed up like Rochefort, the man and not the cheese, as that would entirely not have fit into the group profile. He nodded to Setsumi and gave her a grin before walking with his cast, heading towards unknown destinations fabled to bring about the sating of taste buds and liquor sensors.
The woman obviously playing Constance, as she was dressed more demurely than the Countess D'Winter, smiled to Cricket and Auggie as they mentioned Lupercalia. "Wouldn't it be interesting if we went back to celebrating one and not the other? I for one would give a handsome salary to anyone that could give me a year celebrating like a pagan versus the watered down environments of celebration we have today." She tsked and shook her head, giving a rather theatrical sigh, but when she turned her head she caught sight of YT's sketches. "OHHHHH! Are you drawing me, luv?!" Excitement flooded over the woman as she moved in a rustle of crinoline and petticoats, the rush making her look like she would all but tip over, but she managed to stay upright.
The Countess pulled a silver cigarette case from her rather modern coat pocket and proceeded to light up a fag, grinning to the excitement of the younger woman, then shaking her head. "Ah, youth. It's such a grand thing to see them so excited." How one woman could manage being dressed to the nines in an absolutely gorgeous dress that showed off her ample figure and made her look like she might well have been rolling in money but still look bored was one of those questions for the ages. Still, she sucked on her cigarette and enjoyed it while she watched the others chatter.
Poor D'Artagnan at the front of the group seemed completely bewildered when it was just him, and what one might consider to be Athos, Porthos, and Aramis walking together. The ladies had been lost to the artist! He wheeled around, surprising the three Musketeers with him, and headed back towards where YT was drawing. Beaming widely to those surrounding the troupe, he lifted his hat from his head, sending his wig a bit to the side, and bowed. "You are all too fair to be out in this chill, why not come with us to get food and drinks? It's not often we get a nice series of hours to both entertain ourselves and be entertained by such lovely people."
The man that was dressed as no other than Jussac nodded to Gerry. "I believe we've all been fans, at one point or another in our lives. If you want to come and view us in all our grandeur, come to the Sheldonian. I'm sure that we've plenty of seats available throughout the week, though perhaps not so you can all sit together." He looked around the group that seemed to be growing in the street. "Or you can always go and see another recap of the Rocky Horror Picture Show at the New Theater, but it just doesn't have the same feel to it, does it?"
YT chuckles and shrugs "Art's what I do, and looks like your costume folks went all out so I might as well get in some practice with crinoline and velvets and heavy fabrics. Not something I run across often enough in practice given that I specialize in preraphelite oils."
Mercius nods to Auggie, "You had me at Fornication Auggie, this is a festival I feel I could really get behind." Tilting his head, he smiles warmly to Nia. "Perhaps, Quentin has suggested we do another 'open day', get all hot and sweaty while pounding iron. Apparently, it has quite a following." Looking abashed, he nods to Reno. "So did this fellow write the cartoon too? I must admit to be quite fond of it." He seems rather confused at the offer from the actors, looking to the others before judging how to respond. "This a show, part of the act?"
Auggie chuckled for a moment, slipping the notepad and pencil back into the pocket of her ruck. "Maybe it can be taken one at a time, but we are talking Faun. Having it all together seems like something they would do..." Her gold eyes narrowed as she considered this farther, but broke out of it to wave to Cricket and nod. "Passing chocolates to one another seems to be a terrible way to be remembered on the anniversary of your beheading..." She shook her head, glancing to Setsumi, "Lupercalia? It's mostly not celebrated, but I think it's a good thing to remember traditions that may otherwise be forgotten. It makes me think of Midsummer Night's Dream. Though that was Puck. The traits start blending together over time. But that's a tangent. Faunus is mostly a shepard, and on a tangent." She gently cleared her throat, "Mostly not celebrated," she explained to Setsumi. As the woman from the troupe mentioned something close to a deal, Auggie shook her head rapidly, "It would likely be a terrible idea, too many sacrifices..." A breath escaped Auggie when the actress's attention was taken by the artist. Her gold eyes drifted back to Mercius, "Right... Potentially to excess... Like life threatening excess."
Nia chuckled at the energy that had suddenly seemed to ramp up with the crowd growing steadily with the addition of the acting troupe. She looked over at Cricket and Gerry and gave the two of them warm smiles. "Cricket, Gerry, it's wonderful to see you both again. And in much more merry circumstances it would seem." Her grin didn't falter in the slightest as she shifted over a bit to get a better view of all that costumed finery and managed at the same time to get her food and other bagged items into a place of higher relative safety. The concept of the shirtless day at the forge had Nia grinning and looking over at Mercius with her brows raised, about to say something surely that would have net her some fairly quizzical stares from those that knew her, but her thoughts were immediately and obviously derailed as she started the sentence with "Oh! But I might actually come out to see...... What?" She blinked and looked over at Auggie and then at the theater woman dressed as Constance, eyes wide now. "Were there so many human sacrifices? Or are we talking more of the bleating variety? Or just... people partying themselves to death?" Surprise registered in Nia's eyes at the thought, obviously not well versed in Pagan history.
"In a way, we do celebrate it Ger-Bear, it is dessert. The sweet we both like to indulge in and the one thing you will not give up for lent." Cricket points out to Gerry there is glint of mischief in her blue eyes. A coy smile. Realizing she is still wearing her apron and it is getting colder, she sets the briefcase down at her feet. Hastily she puts her coat on and hastily buttons it up. The smile turns to a sheepish look. She eyes Jussac or the man dressed as him and nods her head. "I am sorry, but I will have to pass on the Rocky Horror show, my students have mentioned it in the past. I can live without seeing it very happily." Her gaze goes to woman who mentioned celebrating old pagan holidays. "I do not think the authorities would like increase in homicides in name of religion. Animal rights activists would also be unhappy." She looks to Nia, "There was a lot of sacrifice. The druids did indeed do human sacrifice, it was not just Roman propaganda. It is also wonderful to see you again too."
A soft hmm is Setsumi's answer, as she listens to all the talk of sacrifices and such. "It sounds absolutely ghastly," she finally muses, and adds, "I never was fond of Rocky, either." She shrugs again and looks about at all the strangers who've stopped to chat around her, and draws back slightly.
"I'm familiar with the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I think seeing it live would be a touch to raucous for me." Reno smiles, looking to Mercius with a chuckle and a shake of his head. "I'm sorry to say I don't know my friend. I'm not exactly sure what you are talking about." He shrugs. "Penelope might know. She keeps finding us the strangest things to watch." He shrugs, smiling even as he looks around. "I don't understand all this Valentine's day stuff. In my day, if you liked a girl and you were a man, you'd just tell her about it. If you were a boy, you put a frog down her dress. Simpler." He looked to Nia. "There's more than one folkstory about that. They always gave me the chills. Something joyful turning evil." He shudders. "Gives me the heebie jeebies something awful." He looked over to Cricket and snorted. "Propaganda? That's our job Cricket. We're underpaid PR people for long dead royalty."
Gerry grins when Mercius mentions that "open day." "So the two of you have a ... following?" he wonders. "The zoo's head administrator briefly toyed with the idea of selling tickets so that our wealthy patrons might watch while more popular residents give birth." He grimaces. "Fortunately, he saw the wisdom against that when I reminded him that it might cause too much trauma to my patients." When Nia approaches, he inclines his head to her. "It is a delight, miss," he answers. Glancing to Cricket, he nods and agrees. "Sacrifices, revelry, drunkenness, and general mayhem seemed to have been the theme of most pagan festivals, and since Lupricania arrived near the time of spring planting, you can imagine how priests, pious, and the general population managed to involve themselves ..." Then he shakes his hed. "I'd skip Rocky Horror, but again, an evening with the Three Musketeers would be a delight. I must look into those tickets,"
The gaggle of actors had now thoroughly gained happiness at the people nearby, their smiles all warm and wide. "YES! You should come... here!" One of the gentlemen pulled out a pocketbook filled with a sheaf of paper, the first half of it scrawled with terrible penmanship. "Give me your names, I'll add you to the list for the next week. My family's already come to see me in the play." Naturally, the young lad offering to save them all places was the one playing D'Artagnan, who didn't seem quite as sad about losing the ladies now that he had the possibility of others coming to see the play. "It's a joy to find people that adore the writing, but even more of a joy to show them how well it can be performed!" He waited, looking at the group gathered.
Constance gleefully looked at YT's work and nodded. "Oh draw me! And draw me with the Countess, will you? I feel like it would make a fantastic picture. I'd love to hang it on the dressing room wall!" She looked over at the woman dressed as the Countess D'Winter, who simply shrugged and stood where she was, cigarette in hand, watching YT and the younger woman in her poofy dress. "Go for it, though make sure you pay her, and not just in a free seat to the show. She's an actress too, she just acts with her fingers instead of her whole body." The older actress said it rather assuredly to the young Constance, who nodded in whole-hearted agreement. "Oh of course!" Then the younger woman moved over closer to the other, and smiled brightly at YT, as if expecting to have a photograph taken instead of a drawing done.
The three musketeers now shy a D'Artagnan moved over to stand near Rochefort, who was also luckily near Setsumi and Auggie. The two ladies, along with Nia, were given warm smiles. "You should all come to the show, ignore the Rocky Horror, it's for the youth. You ladies are all clearly about culture and style." This from the same man who'd assured D'Artagnan there are better things to wait for after the meal. Likely Porthos. Because who else behaved that way but Porthos?
YT smiles "I'll be happy to." she says getting out her 'work' pad. She starts sketching out a bit of background. "Go on get into whatever pose you two would like." she says "And if you ever want a painting in something from the right period I can do the sixteen hundreds, but I prefer the eighteen hundreds for my personal style."
"I must admit that we get quite a crowd at times." Mercius says with a chuckle, grinning to Gerry and nodding. He blinks in surprise at Nia's reaction but is then distracted by Reno. "Frogs? That seems like quite the strange custom, you'll have to tell me about it one day." Looking back to Gerry, he nods again. "Yes and open day. Making swords and such at the forge, not very useful stuff but it draws in a crowd." At the offer from the actors, Mercius perks up a little. "Mercius!" He calls out to D'Artagnan, quite taken up in the moment and wanting to see a show anyway. "Anyone else going, it sounds like it could be fun!"
Auggie's eyes went wide, "It's for livestock mostly, I'm just saying that most parties where the faun are involved supposedly got out of hand. Sacrifices were used to appease the gods." A grimace appear, "I have not been to one, but I can try to make it a point to ask the next faun that I encounter. In the meantime, I have a couple of books that I can stop by the church." Nodding her head, she pointed at Gerry, "Likely how most priests involved and do involve themselves... And that's just going to twist itself to a conversation that isn't polite either." When the actor started speaking to her, she nodded. "I think taking in a play would be a lovely way to spend the evening. I get to find out whether I'll be buying one or two tickets... Maybe three or four... I rather not pin down a number without asking."
Nia blinked at the information delivery and shook her head, stunned slightly. "You know, there are times I wish I'd had some sort of classic education, so I'm not standing on a street when I realize some of the things I likely thought were just overblown were actually historical fact. Bring me all the books you'd like to bring me, Auggie. I may as well learn something while I'm here on the planet." She chuckled slightly and then looked over at the gentlemen offering them places at the theater. "I'll check to see if I have someone that would like to go with me, it sounds like it would be good fun. I've honestly never been to a play before." Nia nodded at the three musketeers with a smile, accepting the idea as at least plausible and enjoyable plan. Moving over a little bit, she made sure that Auggie and Setsumi were in front of her, between herself and the men who seemed interested in bringing not just guests but now possibly dates for an after-party to the theater. She looked back over at Gerry and Cricket, nodding her head. "These are the things you never really think about, honestly, if you've never been educated in them. I'm surprised humanity has even made it this far considering the barbaric way we seem to interact with one another on the regular."
Cricket says, "The more you know Nia, the more you realize how much more you have to learn. What you just said is the very same question I have been asking myself and Ger-Bear for years." Her voice is gentle and soft. She looks towards Reno and she nods her head. "Got to adore the customs." A glance is given to Gerry and then to Mercius and she smiles. "I understand the power of the hammer, I almost forgot to pick up my husband, he would have had a long walk home." A smile is given to Setsumi and YT.
Reno shrugs slightly, smiling. "Certainly. It might prove rather fun, and I have some time to relax. If I have to leave early to meet with Penelope, I'll do so. In the meantime though, sounds like good fun!" He relaxed a bit, having finished his drink about halfway, and looked to Cricket and Gerry. "Perhaps we can go together. Get a few of us and grab dinner before or after." He shrugs. "Well... most lizards or amphibians would do in a pinch I suppose. Of course that's how it was done. You went through all the trouble of catching it didn't you? That's devotion right there."
Setsumi backs off another step, withdrawing from all the smiles and casualness. These are clearly a group of close friends, and somehow she's gotten caught in the middle of them. "Well," she muses, "The blacksmithing does seem interesting." She doesn't seem too sure of herself, though. After a moment she asks, "Do any of your group perform traditional Eastern forging techniques?" The actors - and their party invitation - get no answer at all.
"I would have survived the walk, even if I did miss dessert," Gerry answers Cricket with a smile. He shifts his attention to the young D'Artagnon and bows. Removing a business card from within his coat, he offers it to the young man. "You should be able to reach me there, or leave a message. I think that an evening like that would be wonderful for my wife and me." Then he inclines his head to Reno and adds, "We'd welcome your company, sir, and that of your fine lady. Dinner beforehand seems like a grand idea as well. We should make an afternoon of it. Dumas is a great wit and a teller of wonderful tales." He eyes the Countess and Constance posing for YT, and grins. "This is a good night for the arts, both on stage and on canvas."
The woman dressed as the Countess D'Winter simply stayed where she was, looking affably content despite the weather, there with her cigarette, voluminous dress, and heavy winter's jacket in such juxtaposition with one another. Seeing as they were going to be outside a little longer, when she finished one cigarette, a second was lit. Wouldn't do to have the smoke not in the image being drawn, right? The younger woman, Constance, couldn't seem to stop herself from smiling, and even opened her coat so that the dress underneath was in fuller view, the bodice lovely and certainly well made, if not particularly warm. It was for art, after all, had to be just right! Of course she couldn't bring herself to pull the coat off entirely, leaving her arms and shoulders covered.
The business card was accepted by D'Artagnan with a flourish of a bow. "Fantastic, how many with you... Gerry is it? Yes." He looked around expectantly to the others, smiling. "Come now ladies, gentlemen, I simply need names or business cards and I can assure you seats at the theater to enjoy an evening, be it alone or with a loved one. While you might not make it to a Valentine's Day showing, I suppose that's a good thing what with it being a celebration of a beheading, or a day of livestock and overindulgence. Instead, it can be a night of revelry for you, and a loved one, that has nothing to do with an overblown mockery of faith and adoration." He waggled his brows, truly an actor.
The three musketeers watched As the others did their thing, looking more bored by the moment. "I tell you what! I am going to head off, and find us a place for drinks and food. I'll text you, once we find the place so the rest of you can meet us there. That way, we aren't out here in the cold while the ladies have their portrait drawn." The one talking being one of the musketeers, either Aramis or Athos, turned and started walking.
"Oh! Fantastic plan, yes. I'll follow you, Aramis!" And then Athos moved after the retreating man, after giving a heavy bow to everyone. "I hope to see you all at the theater, and hope you all enjoy it! It's good fun if for no other reason than you get to watch the lad playing D'Artagnan sweat through some of his lines." He snickered, then was truly off this time. Porthos simply nodded at everyone and started walking with the other two musketeers, as it was one for all and all for one.
Rochefort made a gallant tip of his hat to the people on the street. "I'm afraid I have to be off as well, drinks and food sound like too good a thing to pass up in all this cold. Ladies, gentlemen, you've been a joy." And then he was off as well.
The man dressed as Jussac moved closer to the ladies, and D'Artagnan. "I'll stick around, so these three don't get into trouble. Heaven knows these ladies could destroy the young man with nothing more than a flick of the fingers." He eyed D'Winter and Constance, which made both of the women grin wickedly, their eyes cutting to the young, obviously new actor with a devilish gleam.
Auggie offer Nia a smile and a nod, "I can bring you by some books if you've looking to fill some time. It would be my pleasure." She hummed a singular note, "I've been meaning to get with you about things and have been putting it off as life has been delightfully normal.
YT smiles a bit as she works, at both the Countess' blase and Constance's glee. She's flicking the pencil and chalks, smudge here drag there. Pen coming into thicken lines and draw darkness into the chalks. Mixed media for the win. The artist keeping her composure and managing the cold fingers with practiced ease.
"When did we get to lizard? I feel like we're having two separate conversations here." Mercius says, looking more than a little lost. For want of anything else to do, he heads over to D'Artagnan as the young man starts to scribble down names. "It's Mercius, I uh don't have a phone number." He shuffles his feet as he tries to keep warm, the winter's chill starting to creep in now that he has stopped moving.
Auggie offer Nia a smile and a nod, "I can bring you by some books if you've looking to fill some time. It would be my pleasure." She hummed a singular note, "I've been meaning to get with you about things and have been putting it off as life has been delightfully normal." When D'Artagnan asked for names and business cards, she once again reached for her notepad and pencil from the side pocket of her rucksack, opening to a new page to write. After writing down her name and number, she tore the page out to pass the gentlemen. "The number is somewhere between one and four inclusive... I wish I could be more exacting." Replacing the notepad and pen, she looked to the others and smiled. Blinking, her gold eyes drifted back to Mercius, "I just hope the lizard conversation isn't a continuation of the Lupercalia conversation, else things have gotten incredibly awkward."
Nia nodded gratefully to Auggie, her smile warm. "It would be appreciated, Auggie. I always like to have those quiet moments when I actually get a chance to have them. It's been peaceful of late, a good time to get a little education in. Or at least to enjoy something aside from training and doing physical things to exhaust myself." Once she'd talked to Auggie, Nia then glanced over to D'Artagnan. "Nia Elizondo, plus one.. or possibly plus three. Go ahead and mark it for three, just in case. If it's less, well, that's always something that can work out for the best." Nia chuckled softly and looked between Reno, Mercius, Cricket, and Auggie, raising her brows. "I can only imagine how a lizard and a forge go together... and how any lizard doing would make a situation even more awkward than goats." She snickered and then looked over to Setsumi, offering a nod. "I don't believe we've met, are you new to Oxford?" Since the poor girl had been caught between tides of large groups, may as well include her in the side not dressed for the 1600s.
"I do not, Miss," Cricket says to Setsumi. "There are others who might. I am focused in European art and techniques but I am able tell an if an Eastern sword is a fake and have had the honor of seeing the Masters at work, with their sword folding techniques." She tells her. "I am also afraid I did not get your name, do you know your way around a forge?" She says to her. "I am Cricket Horton." A bow of her head is given. She casts a look in Reno's direction. "That sounds like it could be fun, when I can be dressed appropriately." She looks to Gerry his eyes are the only eyes she meets in the group. She laughs, "What! Miss soup and grilled cheese with me, that would be a travesty. By the way we are having potato soup tonight, with the grilled cheese."
Setsumi seems to have missed how the lizard got into the conversation, as well. She does offer the remaining actress a business card, though, tendered with both hands, Japanese-style. Fitting, since the card itself is also in Japanese. There is an English name of 'Setsumi Shirotaka' blazoned below the kanji, however.
"I've never set hand to it msyelf," Setsumi answers Cricket, "But I have had the chance to watch one of the old masters, once. He said I had no sense for steel, and pushed me out, halfway through." She shrugs. And offers a pleasant nod to Nia. "Well, for certain definitions of new. I started school here back in September. Somerville College, sciences." She makes the briefest of bows, more of a nod. "Setsumi Shirotaka."
Reno blinked, then smiled, producing a gold card holder with a mostly obscured stamp in the metal and produces a card, which he happily hands to D'Artagnan. "Here you are. For me I think two in all likelihood." Finishing his drink he tossed the cup in a nearby trashcan and stuffed both hands into the pockets of his jacket. He grinned at Mercius. "I think we are too. Best to start a new one. Do you still stay at the church, or do you have an apartment or something now?"
Gerry steps closer to Cricket and reaches to take her hand. "Love, I would not miss tonight's dinner if I needed to walk from one end of the Island to the other," he assures. Then, with a chuckle, he admits "I, too, am unsure how lizards fell into the conversation. So, none of you is alone on that point." He nods to D'Artagnon. "I should have two in my party, and we should be most honored to watch your performance. I am sure that you will hold your own well enough."
With the three musketeers and Rochefort on the move away, it left only the two women, D'Artagnan, and Jussac. The two ladies continued to stay in their 'pose' however it was a bit on the natural side as neither was able to keep perfectly still. The Countess D'Winter continued to smoke her cigarette while Constance was only just recovering from the blush that the earlier statement by Jussac had created, even if it wasn't visible on her cheeks so much as along her chest and neck.
D'Artagnan took the names given, writing down the pluses with it, and accepted the business cards from those that delivered them. "Ah, no need for a phone number really, this is just you showing up at the box office and giving your name. They read the list, and like magic you enter the theater to find your seats. After they give you the ticket, of course. If you try before you get your ticket you might find yourself with some cross looks courtesy of the ushers." D'Artagnan chuckled and pocketed the cards, then the booklet was closed and tucked into his pocket. "We'll be happy to have you. A fan of Dumas should always come to the plays based on his work. They're our toughest critics, but the better ones." He nodded to Gerry.
Jussac smiled to those giving names, then looked over at the ladies posing, rubbing his hands along his arms covered in their age-old finery. "Ladies? How long do you figure this portrait will take you?" He looked at YT then, smiling. "not that I'm attempting to rush your artistry, but I'm afraid that while our dear girls get their beauty on the page, I'll be dropping bits of myself onto the sidewalk."
YT laughs softly "Getting there, I could send you home with it now, or I can keep cleaning some of this up." she says with a snerk. "You wanna look and see if your ladies would be pleased or want me to do more?"
Looking up from D'Artagnan's scribbling, Mercius grins to Auggie. "I must admit that I stopped listening once we got to the fornication, I've no idea how the lizards are involved. The sacrifices and what not is something I'm familiar with, although not something that was practiced at home." Looking to D'Artagnan, he nods and smiles gratefully. "That is good to know, thank you!" Stepping away from the man, he walks back up to Reno. "As fun as this has been, I probably should be heading home. I have dinner to make and a film or two to watch. We should really get together next week though, perhaps at the museum or a cafe?"
Auggie blinked as her brain tried to tie random strings on conversation together in an incomprehensible knot and she shook her head. "I stop by the church enough, that it will be no problem at all. I'm try to mix it up, so you aren't bored." Blinking, her gold eyes went back to Mercius, "If you have stopped listening from that point Mercius..." She shook her head slowly at the man and a giggle escaping her before she looked to Setsumi with Nia making introduction. Offering a wiggling wave of her glove fingers, she smiled at the woman. "I'm Auggie. Sorry if we seem intimidating."
"Ah, a pleasure to meet you, Setsumi. I'm Nia." Nia nodded to the woman with a smile. "Good luck in classes. The education here is supposed to be some of the finest in the world." She looked over at Mercius and spoke up, "I'll come with you, Mercius. I need to get back. See if Fred's back around from what he had to do today." Nia grinned and moved to walk with Mercius, nodding to Reno and Auggie, then Cricket and Gerry. "See you guys later, and Auggie you can come by whenever you like, you know you're always welcome. If I'm sleeping, well, just wait a few or come rap on the door, you know where it is." She chuckled and made her way with the stout form of Mercius, cautious of his walking stick and leaving him wide enough berth to walk with it unhindered by her own feet, or her arm loads of bags. "If you guys all want to plan to head to the play together, I think Saturday would be a fabulous day for it!" She called out as she was leaving the group in general.
"Pleasure to meet you, good luck with your studies. Metal is funny one can learn to speak its language, but to truly make it sing you need the truly hear it. It is never too late to learn. This is my husband Gerry Horton," Cricket says to Setsumi warmly, adding on her introduction. Her rough free hand is taken by Gerry. She holds his tightly and her eyes meet his again. "Excellent! We have only missed a few soup nights." She leans over and kisses his cheek softly. "Warms my heart old Bear." When Nia goes to take her leave, Cricket calls out to her. "Fare thee well, until we meet again."
Setsumi nods and waves to Nia as the woman departs. "Thank you," she offers, and "Have a nice day." She waves back to Auggie, nodding. "It is something of a crowd, hmm?" A shrug, and she listens to Cricket speak of steel. "I'm afraid I'm more inclined towards what one can do with it after the forging, than during. Perhaps I'll speak to your smiths and commission something special."
Reno smiles and nods. "Certainly Mercius. Feel free to stop by the museum whenever you like. If you have the time, you can come home for dinner. I have something I'd like to show you. I hope you have a pleasant evening my friend." He looked to Setsumi and smiled. "Still, education itself is always worth pursuing. And if you're interested in that sort of thing, you might want to look into the H&K Dojo. I know they teach armed and unarmed techniques there." He shrugs. "There is nothing wrong with being prepared. As for myself, I am afraid I must say good bye. It's Valentine's day after all, and I have a lady friend to take to dinner. Take care everyone. And it was good to meet you young lady. My name is Reno Merrick. Do take care of yourselves."
With everyone saying goodbye, Gerry stands beside Cricket, smiling warmly. When Reno mentions his own plans for dinner, Gerry asks, "Please give our regards to your lady for us, Mr. Merrick. We should meet again soon to talk." He looks at the others and nods to them. "It was a pleasure to meet so many new faces." To the actors, he bows and adds, "We look forward to seeing your wonderful performances."
The man dressed as Jussac moved closer to YT and looked at the drawing, whistling low under his breath and shaking his head. "A marvel, truly. If you say you can make it even better than it already is, I won't stop you. I'll simply suffer the things falling off until it gets to the bits I value above life itself. Then I'll call the game on account of rain.. well. Raining bits." He chuckled and winked to YT, then motioned for the man playing D'Artagnan to come over.
When the young man made his way over and looked at the painting, he did so while blowing against his hands, warming them up through the knit of his gloves. As he spoke, his voice was somewhat muffled. "Oh my... that's lovely! We should commission you to do works of the whole cast. Think how marvelous that would be. What a lovely commemorative for a show!" His voice had become more clear as he took his hands away. Looking over at the ladies in their heavy dresses, he looked then back to the picture and nodded. "You caught them quite well, too. Down to the textures."
The two women were simply in their own world, idly conversing about the group from the first matinee of the week, mentioning how people had brought children, noting the kid's cries in the break from the first act, when things were at high emotion. "Oh! Make sure you come for an evening show. You never know who will bring their whole family to the matinees." This called out from D'Winter as she exhaled a plume of smoke. "I have nothing against children, but they tend to make an impact on a play when it comes to the mood."
YT laughs softly "I think we can let you get warm." she says and nods to the girls holding out the drawing along with her card. "Like I said, if you want an oil." she shrugs and grins widely.
Mercius waves to the others, the gesture somewhat muted by the bag of shopping he has in one hand. "It was nice to see you all again, please take care on your way home." He waits until Nia draws near...before starting to set off, making his way carefully in the snow and using his walking stick to check for any hidden potholes. "So...a theater show, haven't been to one of those in ages." He grins as he looks over to Nia and then to the backs of his departing friends. "Could be a nice evening. Anyway, for this evening, I have more ice cream creations to work on. I know Fred says it is just a phase but I can not get enough of the stuff."
Auggie waved to Nia, "I prefer to use the coffee alarm clock rather than knocking, plus if you're not up, there's always something to be done around the church." Taking a deep breath, she looked back to Setsumi, Reno, Cricket and Gerry. "I suppose I should do some shopping and get home to cook something. People will act like they're starving even when there's snacks." A giggle escaped her as she looking around to get her bearings, she offered a wave to Mercius as well before taking a step back. "I guess I'll see everyone at the show." She gave another wave and started walking. Managing to get all of 10 feet before she started hopping in her galoshes again.
"As long as you go at it in moderation and not with the gusto of a kid in a candy shop, you should be fine, Mercius." Nia grinned at him and would likely have patted him on the back, if she weren't walking with arms laden full of bags. "I wonder if the theater shows we have now are like the ones you went to before? If they are... you either have to consider they did it so well before that they could only move to film to enhance it, or that people are so very in tune with nostalgia that they can't seem to change the format." Nia chuckled. "Either way, I'm looking forward to it. I always like trying something new."
"Setsumi, if you are at the University, stop by the history department. You will find me there and we can talk more. For now I should be getting home." She looks to the others. "See you all later, have a lovely evening." She calls to those who are departing. She then looks to Gerry. "Ger-Bear ready for home?" Cricket asks him. Digging into her pant pocket she pulls out keys. She dangles them in front of Gerry. "Your turn to brave the road?" She asks cheerfully and with a hopeful voice.
"History, hm?" Setsumi muses and makes a mental note of it. "I will keep it in mind. Thank you." She offers another almost-bow of a nod, and then her stomach growls as it reminds her of what she was here for in the first place. That Indian restaurant is calling her! Time to answer!
Gerry snatches the keys from Cricket when she dangles in the air. "You only want to avoid being the rude gestures," he smirks. "I don't mind. I get the same rude gestures from some of my patients, especially the gorillas," he jokes. shifting the paper bag to his right hand, where he can carry it along with his cane, he offers his left arm to Cricket. "Off we go!" he exclaims.