extra post


I know, I usually don’t post on Sundays… but last night I had the most fabulous experience at the Masked Ball!

Please check Mesmered’s blog and see what we did… it was a three hours marathon that ran like the wind!

I’m so glad my friend Nikalee won the “best back story”… I guess you enjoyed it too, as it’s posted also here! 😀

Well, everybody have a nice Sunday… will catch up on some sleep and be back with normal posting on Tuesday (Monday is the Happiness is… day, of course!)

The Masked Ball backstory – scene 4


Because watching “Une vieille maitresse” sparkled my imagination again, here is another bit of the Masked Ball backstory.

Bianca stared at the stumpwork robe again, thoughtful. It was indeed a masterpiece, and she wondered once more what Lucia had seen in it (or anywhere else in the Museo, she had been edgy throughout all their visit) to upset her.

Fabrizio de' Gigli

Kareem’s calm breathing and gentle comments helped her relax, and she decided it was time to go home. She’d still sleep at the Raji Embassy, but suddenly she missed her family she hadn’t seen in ten years.

Thus she headed for the Gigli palace where her father’s family shared different apartments: half belonged to her father, Claudio, the other half to his brother Francesco, who had two daughters – barely children when she had left, she wondered what they had become.

She herself had two younger brothers, Carlo, who had been fifteen when she had left, and Fabrizio, eleven. Both were now grown up, maybe already married, and Bianca was curious to see them again.

She hesitated in front of the doorknob shaped as a lion’s head, though. Maybe her parents were still mad at her and wouldn’t let her in. Maybe she wasn’t welcome anymore. After all, she had ran away at seventeen to avoid a pre-arranged life.

She squeezed Kareem’s hand and his smile gave her courage. She knocked, her heart beating faster.

Her anxiety proved to be groundless – her father was dead, her mother welcomed her with open arms, gushing over her gorgeous “husband” (she didn’t dare telling her there hadn’t been any wedding ceremony), and her two brothers, who were now handsome young men, seemed to have genuinely missed her.

Carlo de' Gigli and baby boy

Carlo was married to Isabel from Trevallyn and had a small son, Fabrizio was still looking for a bride and hoped to find someone at the masked ball.

“How did you find out about it?” he asked, excited to hear Bianca would be attending too.

“I have a new friend, Lucia Brabante, she invited me,” she answered.

Carlo and Fabrizio exchanged a glance.

“Why am I not surprised to hear you found another writer friend?” Carlo smiled. “We all look forward to see who will accompany her to the ball. Did she mention anyone to you?”

“She was quite vague about it,” Bianca admitted. “What about our cousins, will they be there?”

“Why don’t you go and ask them?” Fabrizio suggested. “I’m sure they missed you too…”

The masked ball – by Barb


Starts here – my backstory for the Masked Ball on may 1st at Mesmered’s.

Kareem had seen Veniche during his education years, when he was traveling to learn languages and cultures other than the Raji. He had a faded memory of palaces and canals, dark cloaks and strange masks, as he had at least once seen the Carnevale there.

Bianca hadn’t seen Veniche for ten years, but was glad to be back. The long journey from Kareem’s palace wrecked her, though, so she slept blissfully in the Raji Embassy bedroom under Kareem’s amused eyes.

He had spent many of those nine years watching her sleep or create, unaware of his presence – of course when he wasn’t busy with his palace and social life. He needed less hours of sleep, and was still fascinated by what went on in her head, whether she was awake or not.

The morning after she said she needed to explore on her own, call at Lucia and meet her, spend a morning on memory lane, whatever it was, Kareem let her go with a smile. She also planned to choose their masks for the ball, and he wasn’t really in a shopping mood.

He spent the morning talking with his friend the Ambassador, exchanging news and stories, and relaxing in the inner garden of the Embassy. The weather was cooler than the Raj, but it was a sunny morning and the Days of the Dark seemed still quite far away.

Bianca came back for lunch unusually quiet. Kareem thought she looked more worried than dreamy, and after the meal he asked if she’d like to go for a walk, show him some places. She nodded and waited for him to dress in the local fashion (without the cravat), then they left the Embassy together.

Kareem and Bianca strolling through Veniche

“What happened, my shrimati?” he asked, seeing her frown in concentration. “What went wrong?”

“Nothing, really,” she answered, still pondering. “I met Lucia, she’s such a sweet person, and she took me to the Museo to see the stumpwork robe. You should see it too, it’s such a masterpiece even I could admire – and you know my stitching skills aren’t that good.”

Kareem nodded with a smile.

“We can go there now if you want,” he said. “What else?” He knew something had upset Bianca even if she had denied it.

“Maybe tomorrow,” she said. “Let’s keep walking…” She pursed her lips. “You see, I can’t really tell for sure because I’ve just met her, but I think Lucia knows something that scares her. I sure hope she has friends to talk to, as I couldn’t really get through.”

“Yes, I know your discretion and inner shyness often prevents you from asking questions,” he said.

“Especially with someone I just met,” she sighed, frustrated. “I need time to get used to that person and earn the confidence to ask personal questions!”

He had to admit her skills were in writing, not conversation. “Well, we still have a few days before the ball, maybe Lucia appreciates the fact that you’re not asking questions, and she’ll eventually confide in you,” he said.

“I still think I need a blade-edged fan for the ball,” she shivered in the mild weather and grabbed his arm as if it were a safety rope. “I had forgotten how strong the presence of Others is here.”

“Do you actually feel them around us?” he asked, puzzled.

“It’s more something in the air, I really can’t explain, I’m sorry.”

“Well, they say one of the Gates to Faeran is right here…”

“I know, I grew up with it, but it was also one of the reasons to leave…”

Both were thoughtful for a moment, not really noticing anything around them.

“Is there a place you’d like me to see?” he said, trying to cheer her up. “Your house? Some special corner?”

She smiled against her will.

“Let’s go to the Museo, we’re on the right way anyway,” she decided. “And then I’ll show you the best of Veniche, what do you say?”

“Sounds good,” he smiled, relieved. She relaxed her grip on his arm, and they continued their stroll under the sun.

the masked ball backstories – Carlotta part 2


Because Nikalee doesn’t have her own blog (yet) and she’s been my pen-pal for so long (since Jan.1997 – geez, how time flies!) AND I missed her writing so much, I’m very proud/honored/glad to have her on my blog.

This is her back-story for the masked ball, part one being on Mesmered’s as usual. You might guess that our back-stories are somewhat intertwined… stay tuned! 🙂

Carlotta and Nicoletta

Some days later I was in another part of town, unaccompanied on my way home from the house of my music teacher. So it was with a thrill of excitement that I noticed Phantom tethered near the gate of a shaded courtyard. Some dim part of me warned that I was taking a stupid risk going any closer, but something even stronger than curiosity was beckoning me. Noting that the courtyard belonged to a restaurant, I boldly entered. Riccardo was sitting at a far table, deeply shaded by old grapevines. He was absorbed in conversation with a cloaked figure, and didn’t notice when I seated myself nearby.

“So it must be that family? There is no other way?” Riccardo’s tone was intense.

The cloaked figure’s face was invisible under the hood. “The auras of the Gigli family are the most potent for this task. It must be they. You were not able to convince the daughter?”

“She is stubborn – I have tired numerous times to entice her without success. She is prejudiced and won’t have anything to do with our kind.”

“And forcing her is not an option. She must willingly agree.” Riccardo’s advisor had a raspy, female voice. My ears felt as if they were on stalks. Nicoletta was right! Riccardo needed her for something suspect!

I dared a sideways glance at him. I could just about make out his profile. The way his black hair curled on the nape of his neck sent delicious shivers down my spine.

“What about her?” I recoiled as Riccardo turned to look at me, following the extended finger of the cloaked figure.

“Carlotta?”  he frowned. “For how long have you been sitting there?”

My traitorous face burned again. “Not long. Does it matter?”

“It does if you’ve been eavesdropping. Did Nicoletta send you to find me?” I tried to meet his icy blue gaze but it was taking the breath out of me. Still, I managed to gasp out, “Of course not! I don’t do my sister’s bidding. In fact, she has no control over me whatsoever.”

Riccardo

“It was a stupid assumption on my part,” Riccardo said, partly to himself, “As if a child like you would be sent out unaccompanied on such a task.” He turned back to his companion. “She is too young. I wouldn’t consider her.”

“I am not too young!” I blurted out before I could stop myself. “I am seventeen years old, hardly a child. I am old enough to do as I please; certainly old enough to attend a ball where I am properly escorted.”

Riccardo looked momentarily startled, then his eyes narrowed. He looked back at his mysterious companion, who inclined her head slightly.

“I apologise; seventeen is certainly mature.” He turned back to me. “You must realise, then, that my reason for wanting your sister’s attendance is something more than her beauty.”

My whole body was in a flush of self consciousness. I would have agreed to anything, riveted as I was in Riccardo’s gaze, but it was also in defiance to my sister that I spoke next.

“I am aware of that – though not your specific reasons of course. I have no escort to the ball, no invitation either. If you are asking, I am accepting.” I couldn’t quite believe my boldness, and as soon as the words were uttered, I felt almost horrified.

A small smile tugged at the corner of Riccardo’s mouth. He turned back to his cloaked companion.

“Druscilla, it seems I have found my escort. Consider us attending the masked ball, and we shall discuss the arrangements closer to the date.” He stood up, immaculate and handsome in his riding attire, and bowed to the immobile Druscilla. “Pray speak to the lovely Carlotta, and assist her in her chosen attire for the ball. I know you will enjoy the diversion.”

With this utterance, he swept out of the courtyard, vanishing within seconds. Stunned, I sat staring at the cloak that enveloped Druscilla. What had I done?

“Don’t worry; no harm will befall you.” As I watched, a slim white arm appeared from the cloak’s folds, and the hood was pushed back. The creature before me could scarcely be called human, though she had human features; they were so delicate, pale and elfin I knew she could be nothing but Other. Large prismatic eyes gazed at me, and her hair was a cream coloured cloud about her heart-shaped face.

Suddenly aware my mouth was agape, I closed it, and looked away.

The masked ball – part 5


My back story continues. The first part is here on Mesmered’s blog.

Bianca and Kareem before leaving the Raji palace

Bianca and Kareem left the palace in a comfortable carriage that would take them to Veniche as fast as possible. The inside was cozy and Bianca put down the red rose Kareem had given her upon leaving and blotted herself against him.

He was wearing his Raji clothes without the huge turban he normally used in public appearances, and she looked at his serious face, sweeping her fingers through his short black hair.

“Why did you cut it?” she pouted.

“I do it every ten years to allow it to grow back stronger,” he answered.

“But I loved your curls!”

“The curling-iron is the cause I have to cut my hair from time to time,” he smiled.

“When I first saw you, your hair was almost like this,” she sighed. “I was so happy you let it grow!”

“Would you like me to wear a wig at the ball?” he suggested, amused.

“No, only elder men wear them nowadays.” She lay her head against his shoulder. “I think we should hide weapons somewhere, you could have a knife in your boots and I…”

“Why would we do that?” he interrupted, puzzled. “It’s a masked ball, is it not?”

She looked him in the eyes, serious.

“It is. But Lucia tells me the Others will be there too. She knows personally some of them! I want to be ready, just in case…”

“You always wear silver and I’ll have my charms, what could the Others do to us anyway?”

“I don’t know, that’s the problem. They’re unpredictable. What if they take a fancy in you or me?”

“Oh.” He pondered and sighed. “Then we shall conceal weapons in our costumes. I know you can be an action woman when necessary.”

“Thank you, my shrimati,” she purred. He grinned.

Kareem's official dressing before the haircut

“That’s my line,” he said.

“Is it?” she giggled. Then lowered her eyes, serious again. “I hope we’re doing the right thing,” she said with a sigh.

“If it’s a mistake, we’ll make it together,” he said gravely.

“With you, I feel invincible,” she said, holding him tight. “If we survive, I’ll take you to my family.”

He smiled.

“And where will we stay until the ball?” he asked.

“A hotel will do,” she shrugged.

“Then I’ll ask my good friend the Raji ambassador to shelter us.”

“You’ve been to Veniche before?”

“Of course. But never with a native.”

She pulled back to stare at him with mild suspicion. He gently laughed at her expression.

“What?” he said. “You know I traveled as much as you!”

“And how familiar are you with secret messages?” she challenged. She picked up her gloves and her fan. “Did you know we use these to communicate?”

the original drawing - I'm more towards medieval fantasy, but gladly re-did it when I found out it was more Regency style

“No, my shrimati, please, teach me the ways of Veniche women…” And after hearing all sorts of complicated explanations, he sighed. “I’m afraid your world is too complicated for me. I can talk the language of the roses, but fans and gloves are beyond me.”

She smiled fondly at him.

“You will learn. I know you will.”

“Do I have to dress like them as well?” he asked with a glint of irony in his dark eyes.

“If you want. You don’t have to wear the cravat, though,” she decided.

“I knew it,” he scoffed.

“I hate them,” she frowned.

“I know.” He kissed her. “Don’t worry, I can be a western gentleman if I have to,” he whispered.

“I know you can.” She lost herself in his eyes, thanking Aine for having put him on her path.

The Masked Ball – part 4


So, here’s the final decision.
Bianca de’ Gigli with her 9 years partner Kareem Ranjeet will be attending the Masked Ball. The beginning of the story can be found at Mesmered’s.

I’ll post more during the month of April, but end this with a villanelle composed by Bianca for the ball…

The Masked Ball

We shall attend the masked ball
reaching Veniche yesternoon
and merrily dance through the hall

as lights fade, and come nightfall
we shall walk fast under the moon.
We shall attend the masked ball

we cannot resist this joyous call
to see the Museo and its festoon
and merrily dance through the hall,

something we shall forever recall.
It shall be like a honeymoon,
we shall attend the masked ball

and as we swing, each other eyeball
hoping the masked ladies won’t swoon
and merrily dance trough the hall.

And when the masks line the wall
may the judge be the buffoon.
We shall attend the masked ball
and merrily dance through the hall.

(a special thanks to Jan Fortune-Wood of Cinnamon Press for teaching me how to write villanelles! :-D)

The Masked Ball – part 3


I’m finding some dresses, like here or here or (if I were the dancer) here or… it could never end! The search for the perfect gown for the ball seems hopeless at the moment!

Also coming up with a decent story seems to be harder than expected – especially when I read all those intrigues on Mesmered’s blog! But fear not, my next post on the ball will be my letter to my knight to tell him of the invitation… hopefully I’ll have also his reply by then! 🙂

See you there! 😀

P.S. after the latest Mesmered posts on how to prepare for a masked ball, I’ll have to re-design my costume – I don’t like it anyway. And sometimes a domino (reminds me of Amadeus) seems like the easiest way out. But I won’t give up – yet! 😀

he even has a Unicorn mask! 😀

P.P.S. Just found this blog – it’s paper dolls, but if you search masks, you can find very interesting ideas for ladies! 🙂 Happy hunting!

The Masked Ball – part 2


I have two pairs of slippers for the ball. One is real Venetian dancing shoes, bought near the Rialto bridge during my 2002 visit. The other I found in Rome, and use it with my XII century costume (or even the XIV century costume for that matter, as the colors of both dresses are similar).

XIV century lady

XII cent.lady (with fantasy headpiece)

Both are quite flat and comfy, I guess the final decision would depend on the color of the gown I choose for the ball. I wouldn’t mind bright blue velvet to match the Venetian shoes… or maybe a bright blue mask to match them and have the gown of another color (say, rose or yellow/gold)? Mumble mumble…

Venetian shoes

"roman" shoes

the "roman" looks better on the foot...

which one?? Gotta figure out the dress!!

It won’t be like the medieval dinners I attended in Certaldo, I’ll have to come up with a new “mise”! 😀 And jewels! And… oh, my, I better get going or I’ll be late for the ball! (Cinderella syndrome anyone?)

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