Title: Candyland
Time Period: March 14, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: An alternative name for the Dovetail and also, a game.

Midday meals are always larger than either of the others, less mouths to feed means bigger portions. It is after the feast of soup, bread with butter, and cheese has been finished and the house has been cleaned that the girls are able to enjoy a few hours of relaxation. That is, if they aren't entertaining already. As of late, Luna has had less time to socialize but today she is making a rare appearance down in the common. A game has been set up; the old board barely readable but each one of the girls knows it by heart.

Candyland. Of course Luna took the blue piece to match her eyes.

"I much rather your new necklace," the dice is jostled around inside the blonde's cupped hands before spilling out onto the board. "It's quite pretty, where did you get it?"

“It’s just on loan,” Mariah says, with a slightly warmer smile than usual. “I’ve been thinking of changing things up, instead of wearing the bee all the time. Bit dull after all this time, yeah?” She’s only worn it every day for five years. But her attention turns to the board as the dice tumble across it, and her smile tips crooked. “Careful with those numbers, Luna, before you get stuck in the lollipop woods or something.”

It’s an old favorite of hers, the game. It may no longer be the manufacturers rules they play by, exactly, but it’ll do. However, her gaze lifts again, as well as an eyebrow as she regards the blonde.

“More important than that, luv. Are you going to mention where you ran off to or do I have to start guessing?”

"I would have thought Baizey would tell you, considering everything." Oddly enough, Luna doesn't seem the least bit jealous for the first time since the man's return. She moves her piece languidly across the spaces and finally sets it down, eying the precarious position she's in. "I went looking for my one true love, the one I had a dream about on Saint Valentine's day."

Passing the die, she sits back in her chair and reaches to the small glass of cordial at her side. A sip is taken from the drink before she sets it down again, though her fingers remain on the delicate stem. "I was sure I'd find him, I thought I did when…" She pauses and glances toward the area where a few other girls are mending dresses and pretending not to listen. "Never mind all that, you don't want to listen to my boring stories about getting my heart ripped to pieces yet again."

Normally, Mariah’s a little… less than excited when the idea of ~love~ comes up, always considering herself too much of a realist to buy into it. However, when Luna brings up the reason for her trip, the other woman’s expression turns more curious than dismissive. It’s probably a fluke.

“You know me, I leave secrets where they lie. At least with other people,” she says with a playful smile. “If Beisdean thought it was something he needed to tell me, I suspect he would have. But I think I’d rather be hearing it from you, in any case.” She takes the die, rolling it around a bit before she drops it onto the board and picks up her own piece to move over the faded squares. Once upon a time, they were bright and colorful, like the characters that decorate the boarders, but today, it would take a use of imagination to see it that way. “So long as you’re able to put yourself back together again, Luna.”

Luna's attention is caught by the thick liquid in her glass. She hasn't been drinking as much as she usually does and the abuse of other substances has decreased dramatically, that isn't a fluke. Licking her lips, she gives Mariah a ghost of a smile and picks up the dice, holding it in her palm.

"I suppose I should start at the beginning then, aye?" The dingy cube is rolled, rather than shaken, and slid down onto the board. A cheater's maneuver. If anyone claimed Candyland was merely for fun and not competition, they obviously haven't played in the Dovetail. "I laid on the beach for nearly three days. Baizey was right, I hadn't brought near enough food or even a blanket to keep warm with. He came toward the evening of the third, I heard his wagon but stayed still on the beach because I was afraid." sound enough reason, at least by her standards.

“Of course you didn’t,” Mariah says with a chuckle. Her tone is warm, though, indulgent, even. “You’re lucky you didn’t get yourself killed out there.” Concern gets masked with a sidelong glance, but not terribly well.

When she mentions the mystery man, Mariah’s brow furrows, that concern hiking up a couple notches. “Just some man? You’re braver than I am. I probably would have ran.” It may or may not be the truth, it’s more of a guess at a what if, but meant to agree with the reasoning behind her choice. “He didn’t hurt you, did he?” Her eyes narrow there, looking her friend over a little more carefully.

"What? No.. No, nothing of the sort," Luna waves her hand dismissively, shaking her head in a feeble attempt to put off Mariah's concern. Another sip is taken from the glass and the blonde smiles slightly, her gaze growing a little distant as she stares toward the fire. "He was sweet, I suppose I could have done worse for true love but you know how I am."

The blue piece lands just inside the edge of the wood, making Luna frown deeply. If omniscient beings were truly paying attention, they might be dealing the blonde a karmic lot in the game. "I stayed with him, promised to marry him even. He was handsome enough but I don't think I would have been happy. He was content to ride around in his little wagon for the rest of his life, I couldn't." A sad smile is imparted to her friend and the dice passed over. "He did have wondrous things though, when I left him, I took one."

“Mm,” is Mariah’s simple, yet vague reply to her knowing how Luna is. Her expression lingers on indulgence, but there is an almost motherly look of disapproval. Quite like her own mother used to give them both from time to time when they were children. “Riding around in a cart doesn’t sound like it would be much better than staying in Dornie, I have to agree there.”

While she takes the dice, Mariah’s head tilts quizzically. “Travelers tend to. This isn’t something that’s gonna bring him knocking the door down to get back after he recovers from a broken heart, is it?” Instead of rolling the dice, she folds her arms on the table, curiosity overtaking even the competition of the game. For the moment, at least.

“What was it?”

Luna's attention is suddenly diverted to her glass, a ploy to pique Mariah's curiosity. She relents after a few swirls of the blood red liquid, and taking yet another sip. "A treasure map," she smiles while running her tongue over the edges of her front teeth. There's a certain satisfied ease to her smile, the cat that swallows the canary and caught the mouse in one swift action.

"It's a wonderful thing, and if he does try to come claim it, I'll already be gone." Her eyebrow tick upward and juts her chin toward the board. "Roll, silly thing, and I'll tell you why I'll never need to give it back."

“A treasure map.” Mariah echoes the words with no small amount of skepticism, an eyebrow raised in disbelief instead of indulgence now. “Oh, Luna.” There’s a shake of her head, a bit, but she takes the moment to roll and her fingers pluck up her piece to move it along toward the big blue fairy in the corner. “Queen Frostine, better get out of that forest,” she says, her lips curving into a crooked smile. But it’s only for a moment.

“So you’ve taken a treasure map. And you plan on what, running off and following clues and hoping there’s a pot of gold at the end of it?” That eyebrow comes back there as she looks across the board at the blonde.

"Exactly," Luna quips in a rather cheery voice. It might be a relief that she doesn't have to explain, since Mariah seems to follow her jist anyway. "You'd be more than welcome to come along, you haven't been seeing many clients anyway. It'll give you something to keep your mind off waning business."

Speaking of. "There's one thing I can't understand, Miss, is why you weren't parading around with the rest of them for Mister Rowntree. He would have been a lucrative client for you, he doesn't seem to care how much things cost." Her tone might convey just a little bit of the egotism that she feels in the capture of the soldier. Especially since it was unintentional. "Florentine's beside herself with anger, but really, he generally strays after one or two visits. Doesn't he?"

“My business isn’t waning,” Mariah says, her tone defensive. She had maybe hoped no one would notice. “And I don’t feel the need to parade for anyone. I like my clients to come to me because they want to, not because I belittled myself in some sort of bid for their attention.” In her own way, she has her own bits of pride that dictate how she does business. Making a spectacle of herself is only something she does on her own terms.

“Plus, he isn’t my type.” Nevermind that he’s exactly the type of client she tends to take. Mariah sits back in her chair with a sigh, but it only lasts a moment before she stands up from the table altogether. “I’m getting some wine. You want something more?"

"Oh pish he isn't, you can't fool me." Luna grins, lifting her chin a little to study the other woman through one squinted eye. "But," she adds on with a finger in the air to stop the woman from escaping, "I do understand what you mean about joining the parade. I certainly hope you don't think that I had my sights set on him, because you know very well he's the complete opposite of what I look for." With the exception of one client.

She takes up the dice and rolls it out onto the board, cackling with delight. "Aha! Take that! Gumdrop Mountain!! I believe you owe me a secret for that one, or a sweet, your choice."

“Alright, so let’s just say, seeing Florentine and the other girls tripping over themselves to fawn all over him turned me off the prospect.” She’ll go with that. Mariah pours herself a generous amount of wine, far more that is exactly proper for wine, but who the hell is proper in this house. “Oh, I don’t know,” she says with a crooked smile as she looks back over to Luna, “I dare say I thought Mister Fogg was changing your stance there.”

And with her teasing grin, she comes back over just in time for Luna to set her piece down on that coveted mountain. “You cheated,” she says, as she does just about anytime someone beats her at… well, any game. But she levels a wryly amused look at Luna before she sets down the latter of the two options on the table.

"Mister Fogg is an exception to any rule, I'm certain that underneath that stone exterior is something quite extraordinary." The petit fours is lifted between two fingers and the blonde 'toasts' her fellow gamer with it. "Like tiny cake, it seems quite unassuming but when you bite into it, it's just enough to satisfy your appetite." Just the corner is taken off, as though Luna wishes to savor every crumb.

"I believe you, you know, I couldn't imagine you flouncing about down here like some of the others. I completely forgot that he was coming, honestly, I was caught up in a book and felt a little peckish." A slight flush tinges the apples of her cheeks and she leans across the board to whisper something not-so-secret to Mariah. "I was still quite sleepy from Algernon's visit the day before, I couldn't have possibly mustered the energy. But I did give him a bath, you wouldn't believe how nice his physique is."

“I don’t believe in exceptions,” Mariah says, although this time she sounds a lot more like she’s reciting. “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar,” she adds with a crooked smile. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Better the stony ones than the ones that can’t make it to the door.”

Mariah does lean in to hear that secret, and it gets a playful laugh and a nod of her head. “I’m hardly surprised. The militia have to keep in shape. More so than a baker or a fisherman. And you wondered for so long why I’d let them in my bed, dirty or not.”

"Muscles don't make the entire man, I've always wondered what lays beneath Edgar Ross' clothing. He's no soldier." Luna pauses for a moment before a wide smile spreads across her lips and a boisterous laugh bubbles up from inside her. "I will bet you my next gift that Goneril Ross wonders the same thing I do." Her hand claps over her mouth, as if she just said something completely horrible. She did.

"I'll be getting a visit from their guard soon enough, I suspect. I'm sure someone will try to get me into trouble for saying that." Little hens always peck at each other, after all.

“They make enough of him for what we do here,” Mariah says with a chuckle. But then, she is the least romantic of the pair. There’s just a short, quiet moment before her expression softens, though, and she looks over at Luna, “But you’re right. They aren’t the only thing that makes a man attractive.”

When Luna lets out that bit of a slip, Mariah pauses a moment, her worried look hovering between serious and seriously amused. But as no one bursts in, she does let out a soft laugh, “You worry too much. Beside that, the Rosses seem a little preoccupied of late to notice. They’ve gone all… tight up over at the manor.”

This bit of gossip forces Luna to still and take another little bite from the cake. It's white interior and pink icing make it a perfect prize for winning the game, as well as compliment the eater's matching attire. Mariah chose it well. Still, it doesn't coat the sickly feeling in her stomach that becomes visible in her expression.

"It's quite unlike them, isn't it?" She says finally, finishing the last sip of her drink. The blonde considers the rest of the petit fours but then wraps it into a napkin instead. "Have you noticed that old missus Ross hasn't been about? Do you think she's caught the blood curse or something like it? I've never known her to not be active when it comes to the school. Winter's nearly over, you'd think she'd be petitioning the factory to let the workers attend classes to learn their letters."

“It is,” Mariah agrees, her eyebrows lifting for an entirely new reason this time. “And no one’s talking about it.” No one. That is clearly the part that’s got Mariah the most intrigued. It’s Dornie. Someone is always talking.

“I hardly run into her these days. But I hope it’s not that. I quite like her, actually. Maybe it’s Cordelia. She was off with whoever it was all that time. Maybe she’s caught something.” Clearly, someone doesn’t go to Aislinn’s as often as she ought. Or maybe she’s just been missing the young girl around. “Last time I saw her, she had something of a shock. Maybe she… You know? Maybe it’s something in her head,” she adds with a tap to her temple.

"She was, wasn't she… Algernon mentioned something about the daughters of Dornie's most powerful families falling into peril. First Cordelia and then Constance, he seemed to believe that I might be next. Silly." Luna smiles a little and gives a light shake of her head to dismiss the absent man's worry. If it was worry at all.

"Perhaps old missus Rowntree will be next, I dare say she's in for a spot of bad luck." Luna presses her lips together unhappily and glances toward the fireplace. "I'll admit that I can be a wee bit selfish but that woman has no charitable bone in her body. I've never seen her lift a finger to help a poor soul."

“Well, Luna. The Owens family isn’t nothing, you know,” Mariah says, perhaps seeing a reason for the warning. “Wouldn’t hurt any of us to be a little more careful.”

Not that she even has one. A family, that is.

“I think I’m going to stand back from wishing the next bit of bad luck on anyone. Before it decided to backfire and hit me instead,” she says, her hand reaching over to knock on the wooden table below their game. Just superstitious enough to worry. “Have you heard how Constance is? I haven’t seen her since… her bit of misfortune.”

"I did go see her," Luna hadn't mentioned that before. "Don't worry, I didn't make her feel poorly about her handicap." The scar. "As a matter of fact, while I was there I crafted her a lovely lace collar to divert some attention from it." She's always been such a giving young woman.

"Perhaps we should go together to see her? She could tell us more about her cousin, I suspect." There's also the chance of spying the girl's father and aunt… The latter could replenish quickly depleting supplies. "I did promise, we could help her with that play she's trying to piece together."

“Handicap? Really, Luna?” Mariah shakes her head again, and picks up her wine glass and the rest of her box of little cakes, which she rests against her hip.

“If you think she wouldn’t mind the company. I wasn’t at all sure it would be a welcome visit, all things considered. But I would like to see her again. Everyone says she’s alright, but…” She’d like to see for herself. “Not to mention, if we’re going to be in this play of hers, we’d best make sure it isn’t terribly embarrassing, ey?”

That comes with a smile and she even chuckles a little before rounding the table to come press a kiss to Luna’s cheek. “I have to get ready. But I’ll be knocking on your door for a rematch soon enough. Keep your dice rolling hand ready.” And with a wink and a flash of a grin, she moves off to head for the bath.