Several months before the Festival of Dionysus, the Arts Festival of Argothia takes place. Open to all who love the creative nature of artistry - from sculpture to painting - the event is held in a main square where artists display their work but also within several tented spaces that offer the opportunity for amateurs to take a hand at the craft too. From still life to traditional artwork, anything lovers of art seek can be found here. Read More...
Nikolias walked around the festival examining the different kinds of art to be found there. He was trying to decide which one he wanted to try himself. Although as a boy he'd enjoyed the pottery with Greek legends the most, he didn't think his hands could work well enough to fashion a pot or pitcher. At least.... not one he could envision Olivia wanting to put in their home.
The same went for the painting; although he probably could have made the paints if he had the formula, using them was another story. Anything he painted would likely look like a messy blob of gunk. He sighed. Who knew deciding on an activity to try one's hand at for a day could be so much... work?
Ah, now there was something interesting... someone was chiseling the details onto a finished sculpture. It looked like he pictured Apollo, too, so he felt the god must be smiling on him. Either that or the god wanted a good laugh today, but Nikolias thought that he couldn't possibly mess up the features of a god he at least imagined he saw in the forest from time to time.
But how did they do it so...delicately? That was the question. Too softly and you probably wouldn't even make a mark. Too hard and... well, it broke.
"Where is the statue being built for, anyway?" he asked the sculptor. There were probably a hundred temples with statues of Apollo, not to mention houses of the wealthy if one had a particular devotion like he did, but this one seemed particularly glorious. It must have taken months, if not years. His bow was as carefully crafted as Nikolias' own must have been, and the eyes and hair in particular seemed full of a light all their own.
As he received an answer, Nikolias took the offered chisel and carefully began chipping at a small but particularly offensive-looking piece of stone in the statue's nostril area.
"Why did you choose that, my lord?" the sculptor wanted to know.
"Well, have you ever seen a god with a booger? We humans get them, yes, but..."
"Ummm..." The sculptor blushed and squinted to look a little closer. "No. I see your point. Good catch, my lord."
Nikolias grinned, waving at someone who was passing by.
The Art Festival was not something that was as large as the Dionysus festival that the Leventi's were preparing for, but be that as it may, it was not a festival Evelli would forgo. She had her hands full ensuring the dinner party she was arranging that would take place on the first day of the festival would be in utter perfection, but for a party to be of perfection, one needed a guestlist that was beyond reproach - especially if the hostess had five, very marriageable young daughters, the eldest of which should have entered the temple of Hestia years ago, at least in Evelli's mind anyway.
So the matriarch found the festival as a way to ensure her daughters were, once again, put to show for the most eligible of bachelors. Having heard that many single men from Taengea and beyond would attend, the rich to seek out the most talented of artists to do sculptures and paints for their own residences and family, Evelli was unlikely to miss it.
After ensuring her husband she would be able to care for the two youngest so long as Georgios would watch over the other three, Evelli had packaged Nana and Imma in the carriage after double-checking if they had dressed appropriately, to a degree that was suited to woe suitors. Of course, Imma was not scrutinized as much. She was her youngest, and not quite of proper marriage age yet, although Evelli would not say no if someone were so inclined as to ask for her hand. But Imma was a very artistically inclined girl, one of, dare she say, her most talented daughters in the arts, and Evelli knew the festival was one most suited for the youngest Leventi to show off her talents.
Or so Evelli hoped anyway. Yet Imma's quieter nature meant Evelli would likely have to do most of the hard-selling.
Nana, on the other hand, was more of a wild card. Out of her brood, her second youngest was the one that had always needed a firm hand to handle, with headstrong ideas of her own that Evelli did not always agree with. While mother and daughter both agreed that marriage was the end goal, their ways to getting to the end goal were often at odds, especially when Nana had ideas unsuited for what Evelli had in mind. Even their dressage for today had that clearly on display, in terms of their ideas. Evelli was decently dressed in a floor length teal chiton, edges trimmed in gold threads, with patterns of vines and trails around the sides. A white scarf was fastened around her waist as a form of a belt, and then on to the gold, peacock fibulae over the left shoulder that functioned as both to secure the dress and to add depth and elegance to the dressage of the Leventi matriarch. Dark curls were piled on the top of her head, gold wires holding them together with only a few stray strands falling to frame her angled face.
In contrast, Evelli had frowned when she saw Nana's choice of wardrobe for the day, and how extra form-fitting it was. Her own chiton was loose, only the barest hint of her shape visible should the wind press the material against her body. Nana enjoyed flaunting herself, and while the elder Leventi was pro her daughters availing themselves to suitors... it wasn't to that degree.
As the carriage rolled towards Argothia, Evelli had spent the first half of it ensuring Imma would not wander off, as her wayward youngest was wont to do, and it was only as they neared the main square where the festival was held, did she finally turned sharp eyes on to Nana, a warning clear in the depths of her dusty grin irises. "There are suitors of far away lands there, Nana. I have been informed by others of their attendance, and I expect you to be next to me so you would be available should I wish to introduce you, understand?" Her tone was firm, as the carriage rolled to a stop, and the footmen came to asisst the three ladies out.
Almost immediately, Imma's attention seemed to be caught by the art, and Evelli soon allowed the youngest off to explore, accompanied by two guards and two maids, with a firm warning for them to return her within the hour. As Imma wandered off, Evelli turned, and frowned again when she saw Nana getting off the carriage. Reaching forward just as her two feet touched the ground, Evelli's hands adjusted at the form fitting chiton, trying her best to loosen the material if only by a little, without messing up the look too much, and making a mental note to speak to her maids at home, before stepping back again, perusing her daughter's appearance one last time before motioning at her to come along.
Spinning on her heel, with their retinue of guards and maids behind them, Evelli soon began to melt with the thin crowd forming around sculptors and paints alike, exchanging smiles and words with a few she's met before in her previous jaunts here. Spying the man she knew as the Lord Nikolias of Condos, the woman was quick to shift away from the man, if only because of the feud between their families, and that Evelli wanted no argument marring a day she was meant to escort her daughters to suitors. While she and her husband had no direct quarrel with Lord Nikolias himself, she knew her brother-in-law was often at loggerheads with the Condos lord, and did not want neither Imma nor Nana involved in it.
Instead, she led her daughter elsewhere through the crowds, before finally spying with a smile, the young lord of the Argothian noble family, a strapping lad who was of marriageable age and poised to take over his father's lands upon the patriarch's demise. Slowing down so she could whisper in Nana's ear as they approached, her voice was hushed for her daughter only as she spoke. "That is young Lord Agesilaus, son to the Argothia baron, Nana. The province is flourishing thanks to his family, and I expect you to be respectful and kind to him, hear me?" Her eyes swivelled, and then smiled when she saw a bronzed skin male further out. While Evelli did not know him personally, she could pick him out based on descriptions, and was fairly certain he was the correct one. "His name over there, that is Sabra. I've not met him personally, but I've heard he is a fairly wealthy general in the service to the Egyptian Pharoah, and poised for further greatness. Which of them would you prefer to meet first, Nana?"
Nana sighed as the carriage rolled along, slumping down in her seat. Her mother had plans for her to meet with suitors who were said to be attending the art festival, though Nana was dubious. As Nana saw it, it was quite likely that none present would be royal, though, of course, Nana didn't have much of a say in the matter as Evelli insisted she would go whether she wanted to or not. If she was quite honest, Nana was not at all a fan of this. But, being the golden child she was, she would never say anything to upset her mother, and as such, she suffered through the carriage ride with the patience of a saint. At least, she thought, she would perhaps be able to buy herself a new bracelet after enough pleasantries were exchanged. Unless she found that her prospective matches were less than handsome, in which case she would turn around and escort herself right back to the carriage. As much as she hated carriage rides, she would rather have a sore behind and stiff legs than entertain the thought of marrying a less-than-attractive man.
However, it would seem that her mother would have different plans. Nana rolled her eyes as her mother turned her attention onto her and changed her tone, annoyed with her mother's implication that her behaviour around men was inappropriate. After all, it made no sense for Evelli to get on her case for having high standards, or at least, that's what Nana thought. But, she wouldn't push her luck today. "Of course, mother," she replied, unenthused with her situation.
However, moments later, the carriage came to a halt, and Nana breathed a sigh of relief at the promise of stretching her legs after hours cooped up in a carriage. Her eyes flitted about as she peered out the window, eyeing the vivid outfits of those in attendance and making a mental note to look for fabric while she was here. As soon as was helped out by the footman, though, her mother was upon her again, this time trying to "fix" her peplos, which Nana saw nothing wrong with. Just because it was the norm to look as if one was dressed in a sack didn't mean Nana would follow along, and as soon as her mother's back was turned, she pulled her skirt back down a bit, pulling the fabric of her dress a bit tighter to her chest. She could only hope that Evelli wouldn't take notice, as she'd kept Nana on quite a tight leash.
As she watched her younger sister run off, Nana couldn't help but feel envious, as at this particular moment in time, Nana wished to be anywhere other than here, her mother pushing her to talk to men who didn't deserve the time of day. Though Nana enjoyed walking around the festival and looking at art, she was kept from wandering too far by her mother's firm grasp, and soon enough, Evelli had leaned in to speak about the so-called "suitors" in attendance. Nana's nose wrinkled as her mother spoke of the heir to the barony of Argothia, who, though somewhat handsome, did not fit the bill for Nana. Nana brought a hand up to cover her mouth as she whispered back, "A baron, mother? I thought you loved me. He's not even that handsome. And anyway, we own these lands. Why should I have to grovel to a man who answers to me?" Nana had the suspicion that it was almost as if her mother wanted to knock her down a peg.
And the torture wouldn't stop there, either. Nana let out a disappointed sigh as her mother pointed her to another suitor, this one handsome, but still a disappointment. "I fear that you intend to ship me away, mother," she retorted, brushing a strand of hair out of her face. "A general. That means he would be away all the time, leaving me by myself in Egypt. I know I said I want to see the lands afar, but not forever! Honestly, mother, it's as if you don't even know me."
Nana crossed her arms and huffed, before turning her eyes back to her mother annoyedly. It seemed that Nana wouldn't be able to get in as much shopping as she would have liked. "As this looks to be quite a waste of my time, I would rather talk to neither. May I go back to the carriage now?"
Of all her daughters, it was amazing how her second youngest could be the one who would understand her vision for their marriage partner the best, yet be the one who exasperated her the most. Nana was someone who rarely upset Evelli when it came to her goals of marriage and a goal for a husband. Mother and daughter were of accordance that she should have a husband who would be able to provide for her comfortably, for Evelli would be horrified to find any of her girls being given anything less then the best.
Yet the methods in which Nana went about to try and attain her goals left much to be desired.
She was not blind to the way in which Nana's tone held an annoyed undertone to it, but Evelli simply could not allow the girl to saunter around the festival looking for all as if she was displaying her wares for sale. Making a note to herself to remind Georgios to have another speak with the girl, the matriarch had turned to take a look at the available men for their pickings, quick to point a few out to her girl.
But true to her picky nature, Evelli couldn't say she was surprised at the complaints Nana had to the bachelors she had chose. In a way, the woman thought dryly to herself, she only had herself to blame for this. Having spent her younger years reminding that only prince's and King's were worthy of a Leventi girl, it would appear Nana had taken her words to heart the most, for she would now settle for no less. Shooting her daughter a look when she bemoaned both the status of a baron and the situation of a general, in a way, Evelli saw the logic in what Nana was griping about. Yet what could she do? Taengea's crown prince was poised for her eldest, and the second prince had no prospects nor the reputation Evelli wanted to associate with her girls.
Athenia's lack of a prince has made Evelli set her sights in Colchis, but despite the four princes available there, she had yet to be successful in her attempts to bring her whole brood there for a visit, in hopes that the princes would take a shine to her daughters. While Evelli was not inclined to send her girl's so far away, did she have a choice, when the best choices for their marriage lay in a boat's ride away?
"I do not wish to ship you away, Nana dearest, but we must look where we can for prospects. I do not ask you to grovel - in fact, he must grovel to you, should a marriage happen, for you are above him." she reminded softly, even if she knew her daughter was unlikely to consider a mere baron. "And if your husband is away often," she continued, this time in reference to the general. "That would leave you free to pursue your interests, would it not?"
Hardening her mouth, Evelli rolled her eyes in an action that was not unlike Nana herself. She could feel her irritation mounting against her young offspring, but the day was young yet, and she intended it to be fruitful somehow. "Tis only a waste of time if you make it so. We have only seen a fraction of the festival so far. Unless you wish to spend the rest of it making friends with the plush interior of our carriage?" she murmured.
Not waiting for a reply, instead Evelli turned and made a show of walking away, before she stopped after taking a couple of steps. "If you are, you'll have to wait, for I intend to do some shopping myself." the woman threw at Nana over her shoulder, a sly smile on her lips.She knew the young adult would not be able to resist a spot of shopping, and Evelli was counting on that for Nana to follow her after.
The work never waits, as Basilides had learned over his seven years with The Children of Mnemosyne. He had been fortunate enough throughout most of the year to remain with the troupe while they were in season, but as the larger festivals approached, he was shuttled ahead to secure contracts and rub elbows.
Festival planning meetings were often over wine and refreshments, often coupled with long walks that involved more haggling and negotiation than high market days. For as fanciful as it might seem, it became mentally exhausting, constantly and patiently maneuvering the interests of the troupe to the forefront without offending or costing too dearly. Room and board for a growing troupe was always the biggest hurdle, and after the egregious error he made arranging for the troupe to stay in tents during one, unfortunate Colchian trip, it was worth the extra effort to arrange proper beds and solid roofs for the troupe. Either that, or it was likely the would all protest....or walk.
Fortune was in his favor today, as he managed to secure several rooms between two taverns well before they had been booked for the Festival of Dionysus. Relieved and honestly quite proud of the modest price associated with such a feat, he made the decision to reward himself by taking time on his own to walk through the Arts Festival. On the walkabouts before, he had not had the time to truly take it in.
Art was a funny thing, he mused, seeing as there is art that is temporary - like theatre - and permanent, like the men caught in mid-moment on a finely cast vase. The stories were familiar, many of which the troupe had performed onstage, but so different as the specific moment chosen on each vase was frozen in time. He idled a while by the pottery stands, watching the painters delicately add flashes of white on the terracotta for eyes and the highlights of hair.
Moving along, his eyes lighted on the brightly-dyed fabrics dancing in the soft breeze, seeming to wave him over. Wearing one of his nicer chamlys over a rather simple chiton, he calculated a brief moment before a collection of blue and teal fabrics seemed to call his name. Briefly nodding at the stallkeeper, an elderly seamstress who was actively pleating a pale lilac chiton on a young woman, he caught one of the billowing fabrics, smiling softly a moment as the fabric seems to slide like a serpent between his fingers. Selfishly, he imagined himself in such a fabric, but in an instant, he thought of Zephyrus and how the color would perfectly compliment his eyes. Oh, how that fabric would move as he spun around through the air!
Just as he was trying to calculate the appropriate yardage needed to gift to the young acrobat, he raised an eyebrow as he saw the unmistakeable sight of a noble's retinue, headed by none other than Evelli of Leventi.
For many years, even before producing for the Children of Mnemosyne, Basilides was well familiar with the Leventi Dynastia. His father and his father's father before had provided shipping and specialty orders for them, as they shared a love for both luxury and art. While his brothers now secured the more material needs for the family, Basilides worked closely with them as dedicated patrons in preparations for the Festival circuits each year, always arranging some extravagant performance or another to be performed at their estate.
As the retinue approached closer, his eyebrows raised to see Evelli's daughter, Nana, among the retinue as well. While he had yet to make official contact with the usual festival organizer from the Leventi estate, there was no time like the present to set a course in motion.
Giving a brief nod to the seamstress, he stepped away from the booth into the regal woman's line of sight, a familiar smile curling at his lips as he dipped into sincere bow, one arm crossing his chest in sincerity.
"Lady Evelli, Lady Nana," he swooned, "I nearly mistook you for Muses. Surely, every artist here must have renewed inspiration simply being in your presence." Such obtuse charm and flattery would be seen as a ghastly forward move, had it not been for the longstanding familiarity between their families. Still, he stepped no closer out of respect for their status. If the ladies were on a mission, he had no intention to delay them. However, since returning to Taengea, he had yet to see too many terribly familiar faces outside of his working contacts, and any day seeing the Leventis was a good one.
Her mother's smug response to her own stubbornness left Nana quite frustrated, as Evelli knew just what strings to pull to make her daughter dance. After letting out a huff and watching her mother start to walk away, Nana gave in and sped along to her mother's side before grasping onto her mother's arm and walking alongside her with a rather soured look on her face. Though her mother coerced her with her greatest weakness, Nana was adamant that she would still get her words in.
"I'm not being difficult if that's what you're suggesting, mother. The fact that you've had to explain the benefits of marrying either one of those men just proves that I am right, you know. Anyway, you're the one who said I would marry no less than a prince in the first place, so why would you suggest any less?" Nana turned her gaze away from her mother, wondering where she would spend the money Papa had so kindly given her for the festival. Likely, she thought, she would spend her money on jewellery or fabric, as she wasn't nearly as keen on art as her younger sister. But, she was certain that no matter what, she would spend the money, as whenever she was given any, it always seemed to burn a hole in her purse.
Though she wasn't looking at her mother, she could feel a cloud of tension surrounding Evelli, and thought that perhaps, her mother would like to hear her ideas on the search for a spouse. "Perhaps, mother, we could visit Midas? I know that there are a number of unmarried men in the Kotas family, and at least one of them would likely fit my..."
Nana cut herself off when a familiar face entered her line of vision. Almost immediately, the rather bored expression on the young woman's face morphed to an excited grin. Nana struggled to contain the excitement she felt at happening upon Basilides of Acaris, who, in her opinion, would be the perfect husband, if not for his lowborn status. Like most every girl who met him, Nana found herself absolutely captivated by his looks, and wondered how a man so handsome wasn't a prince in disguise.
"Basilides!" Nana chirped, and quickly let go of her mother's arm, smoothing her skirt and tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. The smile on her face only widened at his flattery, which she covered with a hand. "Ever the gentleman." The young Leventi quickly made her way over to the man's side and moved to hold onto his arm with both of her hands, gazing up at him intently. "Dear Basilides, it's been so long since I've seen you last. You really must come and visit us more, you know." Her gaze shifted to her mother, a giggle escaping her lips as she saw the look on her mother's face. "I'm sure that mother would have no objections, seeing how she enjoys your company almost as much as I do. Right, mother?"
She didn't wait for a response, instead taking the initiative to make the most of this serendipitous occurrence on what would be a rather boring outing. "In fact, would you like to join us today? I'm sure that mother wouldn't have any objections," Nana shot a glance at her mother once more before turning back to the man, "and it is a beautiful day for shopping. Perhaps you could help me figure out how to spend the money in my purse." She gave a sugary-sweet smile before adding an afterthought, "That is...if you aren't too busy?"
For what could possibly be the fifth time since they've arrived, Evelli had to swallow a deep, long-suffering sigh in regards to the words tossed around by one of her flightiest daughters. In a way, the Leventi matriach wondered how she had managed to have Imma be so quiet and meek, but it was Nana who was the one giving her all sorts of nightmares when it came to her prospects for marriage. It was as if both sisters were on opposing ends of the spectrum, and Evelli was run ragged handling both of her youngest offsprings.
To be fair however, she had to admit, Nana's words had their merit. As flighty as the girl can be, she has her sights set correctly - at least for Evelli's lofty ambitions anyway. So in return, the mother merely sniffed in mock disdain, but refused to give a proper answer. She was her daughter's mother after all, and to a certain extent, she can somewhat guess what any of her girls wanted just by their words, but in a way, the world they are growing up in is vastly different from her own, so Evelli has had to adapt as well.
Meandering down the street, her ears perked at the girls's suggestion. It was not a bad idea? She knew of the four Kotas princes, of course, but the elder Leventi had not been joking when she said she did not wish to marry her daughter's off to lands so far off. That being said however... Taengea was beginning to look a little hopeless, what with only two princes up for grabs.
Before she could even finish her sentence however, a familiar voice halted her steps, and the next thing she knew, Evelli found herself smiling to return the greeting as a known Basilides of Acaris came into view. While Evelli was not personally familiar with the Taengean performer, she has heard of his name being tossed about in family events and dinners when they spoke of the arts and their provider, and she knew of the man as one of whom was a trusted supplier to their Dynastia.
The lady greeted him with a smile, laughing at his nonsensical words of praise. "You flatter, as you always do Basilides." Yet before she could continue, the next thing she knew, Evelli found herself blinking in surprise when Nana all but launched herself at the artist. Not knowing if she wanted to roll her eyes or laugh at the obvious ploy that Nana was doing to get away from her mother, Evelli merely watched with a knowing look in her eyes as she spoke to the artist, nodding when asked, although really, she knew Nana needed no response. Her daughter could go on with not much motivation at all.
"I really don't think you need help figuring out how to spend your money, dearest." Evelli couldn't resist teasing, hiding a laugh, but turned to offer a kind look to Basilides, nodding in accordance to her daughter's words. "But I will concur with my child, Basilides. I could use some advice as to which new piece to purchase for my husband's residence in Macendia. Would you join us?" The woman's gaze briefly flickered to her daughter, and a cheeky smile appeared, one quite rare on her usual facade. "Perhaps you could offer my daughter some advice on other forms of art as well."
Walking ahead and allowing the two younger ones to fall behind, Evelli would inspect a few art pieces done on canvases, even some sculptures to see if the sculptor was someone she would prefer to hire. Occasionally, she would beckon at Basilides to come forward, asking for advice of this or that, and just generally enjoying the atmosphere of the area. The walk continued, until Evelli paused when a familiar face appeared. Lord Nikolias of Condos was not usually someone she conversed with, especially with the feud between their houses. Be that as it may however, she was not impolite, and there had been no personal vendetta's between herself and Nikolias -merely bad blood between houses. As such, Evelli eventually gave a small smile, as she addressed the lord when she caught his eye. "Tis a good day, is it not, Lord Nikolias? Are you planning on purchasing anything?"
Nikolias continued working on the aforementioned "booger" in the nose of the statue of Apollo, carefully smoothing the area when it looked better. It required that he stick a finger beside the nose to touch it, in a way that would likely appear to passersby as though he were picking the god's nose. He knew there might be some joking later, but he'd just have to grin and bear it.
He had just finished when he heard the voice of Evelli of Leventi.
"Tis a good day, is it not, Lord Nikolias? Are you planning on purchasing anything?"
"Perhaps I will, if I can find anything suitable," he answered with a smile in return. "They really do have some lovely things here, don't they?" He'd seen an interesting pitcher he thought his daughter Ophelia might like to use for washing, which had been painted with the Three Graces. There were also several statues with vases on top of them to be used for flowerpots, which he had thought Olivia might like as well.
"Speaking of lovely things, you and your daughters are in fine form today. Perhaps you might like your portrait painted?" It was possibly not the only time she'd been told that today, but he did mean it. He did not like the kind of people who thought they had to kiss everyone's butts in order to live in peace with those in power, and although he had to be one of those occasionally in court, it galled him every time. On days like today, he said what he meant when he meant it. But also, he had an idea about what went on sometimes at festivals such as this one. Supposing that Evelli was indeed trying to marry her daughters off in the near future, a portrait might be a thing for a parent to treasure. He, and likely Olivia too, would have jumped at the chance to have one of all their family together had it been possible at the time.
Before Bas could fully stand from his bow, he felt Nana's arms entwine around his, truly only grasping just under his elbow due to their height difference. He bent his elbow slightly to allow the he placed a hand over her delicate fingers as they curled around his forearm. Having not missed the silent exchange of expressions between the two women, Basilides did everything in his power to contain his amusement to a half-smirk. Growing up as the youngest of four boys had its troubles, so he could only imagine what life was like for Lady Evelli with such bright and different girls.
Twice, he opened his mouth in an attempt to respond, quickly closing it whenever the young woman pressed to continue. He resorted simply to a bright smile and a breathy laugh through his nose when it was decided between the two of them that he would join them for the day. Finally, there was a break in the barbs and decisions for him to add, "How fortunate, my business here is done for the afternoon, though at some point after sunset, I have a few more strings to pull for the troupe in preparation for the Festival of Dionysus."
As they walked along, with the quietest of chatter with regard to the weather and certain vendors, Basilides slipped out of his usual Producer's timbre and slipped into the role of advisor, particularly with his knowledge of the luxury goods trade. There was no secret that a fine line existed between locally sourced materials and exotic imports, and it could go either way depending on the need. And of course, the style.
"So, my Lady, are you looking more for something useful like a new gown for Dionysia or something absolutely pointless and extravagant, like...say....this here?" he mused, trying to stifle a laugh as his eyes lighted on perhaps the most bizarre if not most intricate ornamental amphora he had ever seen in his life. Not only did it depict a scene along the neck of the vase, but the entire base if it formed the head of a satyr, ears and curls as wild as the painted eyes and curled tongue that flicked between its teeth. It was as bizarre as it was hilarious, and he waited for the young woman's response. Trying to keep his laughter contained to a few snickers caught in his nose, he added, "Doesn't the craftsmanship leave you truly lost for words?"
Nana couldn't contain her delight as Basilides gave her the answer she so desperately needed to hear. This festival wouldn't be such a pain as she'd imagined it would. Quite the opposite, in fact! It was no wonder the young Leventi suddenly walked with much more pep in her step and couldn't seem to stop giggling for more than a moment or two. But, as always, her mother had something to say.
"Oh, really, Mother. You talk about me as if I'm a child." Sometimes Nana was sure that the gods were testing her. There could be no other reason as to why she had to exercise so much patience with her dearest mother. "But do not worry. Basilides has impeccable taste. In fact, he almost compares to me in that department!" She looked up to Basilides with a sweet smile. Truly, Nana was the epitome of kindness.
Nana's eyes flickered from stall to stall as they walked along, until the group happened upon Lord Nikolias of Condos. Though she knew that there existed a feud between their houses, Nana had no opinion of the man. It seemed much too big of a waste of time to worry about quarreling when there were much more important matters to attend to, like buying new clothing, for example. She gave half-hearted smile to the man, not paying much attention until he commented on her appearance, at which point a full smile appeared on her face. Only those who gave her the proper amount of respect deserved a smile, in Nana's opinion. She couldn't risk wrinkles for just anyone, after all.
"Why thank you, Lord Nikolias." Gods, Nana could tell from this brief meeting that this man was bo-ring. But, really, most men were. It was rare for Nana to find a man as entertaining or handsome as Basilides. Truly, if he weren't a commoner, Nana would have married him now. A pity. But, no matter! She was insistent that she would find her prince some time soon. But, for now, she would have to play nice with the boring Condos. "You truly know how to make a woman smile. But there wouldn't be enough time in the day, now would there, Mummy?" Her eyes shot to her dearest Mother. This was her chance to escape. "But, my dear Basilides has so kindly agreed to help me with the arduous task of shopping, and I would truly hate to make him wait. You make me think, though. Perhaps I will need to have my portrait painted soon. Don't you think, Mother?" Nana was a true mastermind. She could leave her mother behind to deal with Lord Nikolias while she went off with Basilides. Truly, it was a wonder that people underestimated her intelligence when it showed itself so clearly in this moment. Not pausing to give her mother a chance to speak, she shifted and tightened her grip on Basilides's arm. "Well, anyway. Basilides and I must get on if we want to get any shopping done. It was such a pleasure to bump into you, Lord Nikolias. Now, if you'll excuse us." And just like that, she was walking away, dragging Basilides along with her.
Truly, her mother couldn't expect her to spend time talking to some old man in the first place. Nana's time was precious, after all. She'd much rather spend it hooking a husband than charming the nobility. As far as she was aware, she'd done that the moment she arrived at court.
As the twosome walked along, flittering from stall to stall as Nana's whims dictated, the Leventi made a few mental notes to come back after she was done browsing. After all, she wouldn't want to have to make Basilides carry all of her things. That would just be inhumane. As they stopped at one stall in particular, Nana's eyebrows wrinkled in confusion as the man started to break out into titters. However, as her eyes landed on the particular amphora he gestured at, she let out a yelp before struggling to stifle her giggling in the same manner as Basilides. But, of course, she didn't want to be rude now, so she forced herself to take deep breaths until she could regain her composure.
"Why...yes. The craftmanship is impeccable." She gave a small smile to the vendor before turning back to Bas. "It's very...Colchian." Of course, she meant that truly because of the fright it gave her upon first seeing it. Though it was less intimidating on further inspection, the depicted satyr looked almost violent, as if it was Pan himself, ready to pounce on Daphne. "But, I think that perhaps you are right. I could put much better use to a new gown or three much more than this...beautiful piece of artwork." Though she would never buy such a monstrous thing, she would not be so rude as to make fun of the artisan who created it. Surely, he must have been going through a rough patch. Basilides of AcarisNikolias of CondosEvelli of Leventi
She smiled at the performer turned merchant as he offered advice in his smooth, friendly manner, a manner which Evelli had long known Basilides for, and was why he also dealt well with her husband in terms of their business. Georgios was someone who valued good words and friendship, both of which were boxes that Basilides ticked well.
Following his finger to an intricate, ornamental amphora, the matriarch of the Leventi family raised a brow, and stifled a laugh. No doubt, the large, intricate ornament would fit well in the hallways of their houses... yet Evelli did not find it tasteful at all, nor did it match the rest of their interior. Bizarre it may be, but Evelli strived to ensure that their family household was more classic and lavish then it would strike humor in people's hearts.
Still, she could tell when Basilides was telling a joke, and nodded. "It does truly. But I think I prefer my guests chatting, rather then all be lost for words." she murmured in response, smiling before turning to greet the lord Nikolias they had saw earlier.
Smiling at the lord's response, she nodded in reply, her gaze swivelling around the art festival again. "They do, but I can't say I am surprised. Argothia hides many hidden talents it seems." Evelli mused. The offer of a portrait did strike an interest in Evelli, for soon, the mother of five was musing if she wanted to send out a small likeness of her unmaried daughters to all royal houses of the Grecian kingdoms when she invited them for a dinner party - perhaps the visage of her beautiful daughters would entice the unmarried males to attend?
Yet before Evell could deign to reply, it would seem as if her headstrong Nana had made a conclusion herself. Knitting her brows when the young Leventi yammered away, she was about to cut in, only for Nana to make her quick goodbyes and exit before Evelli could even get a word in edgewise, leavng them in the dust with how quickly she dashed away, Basilides in tow.
Staring at the form of her disappearing daughter, Evelli blinked for a little, and then heaved a deep sigh, turning to Nikolias with an apologetic half-smile. "I must apologize for my daughter's behavior - she is young, and has yet to fully come to terms with how she should behave in society." Evelli murmured wholeheartedly, dipping her head a little towards the Condos lord. "I do agree however, that my daughters need their portraits done soon. Or maybe a small sculpture would be better? Which would capture their likeness more, do you think my lord?"
Her eyes roamed the area, searching for her youngest. Knowing Imma however, she would be lost in her most favorite subject, and Evelli trusted one of the servants she had assigned to watch over her last born to bring her back to the carriage at the assigned time. Turning back to Nikolias, she smiled, eyes turning to the sculpture he was working on as she asked, "Do you have any recommendations as to a sculptor or an artist then, Lord Nikolias? Perhaps I should invite them over while we're in residence in Vasiliadon."
Festivals were Hesiodos’ breath and butter – it was normal for him to travel depending on the festivals in Greece and Africa, so he didn’t miss the chance to go to the art festival to Dionysus. He felt in his element, mingling with other artists, even though his own art was different… he wondered if music and poetry would have a place here. He decided that, yes, there was always a place for them, but it would have to wait until later.
But for now, he was tasked by a good friend of his for a particular job: to pose for a painting. He was truly delighted by the offer, and accepted with eagerness. That’s how he found himself posing almost naked, surrounded by fruit and vases of wine, while his friend the painter made a portrait of him as Dionysus himself.
To make it seem more realistic, Hesiodos had been drinking a bit, until his cheeks were rosy, and truth be told, he was the live image of the god of wine. The only exception would be the silver scars across his body, which he gained after years of duels, but he knew his friend would omit them in the painting.
People were free to see the painting and his body. He didn’t mind, and he was actually proud of it, though he was beginning to feel numb after all that time lying down. Only when his friend said he was finished, did he allow himself to stretch and stand up. He then got dressed and decided to evaluate the painting.
He had to admit it wasn’t a bad painting. It was him, surrounded by vines, grapes and wines, just as expected, carrying a vase… the only thing is that there were more details left, but his friend assured him that he would work on them later. But overall, he was satisfied.
“Heh, what a handsome god…”, he murmured, “No better way to honor him, right?”, but wait, there was a better way. The bard picked a vase and drank, letting out a good sigh. It was good to be home.
Nikolias was not surprised in the least when Nana left. "I am a father myself, my lady. The children... probably all of them, not just my girls, think we adults are dry as dust, do they not? Frankly...my life is not what I would have either wished for or expected at approximately their ages, either. I can't say I blame them! I don't mean to imply that a certain amount of decorum is not important, but must all excitement and spontaneity vanish from life so soon?"
He considered her other questions for a moment before replying. "A sculpture, indeed, might be just the thing, but about how big are you looking for? Judging by this man's talent..." Nikolias gestured to the now fixed sculpture of Apollo. "He might be a good choice, thought of course you are free to make your own decision as to whom should erect a sculpture of members of your own family."
Parents would understand, the frustration one had when trying to corral their younger children, just growing into a mind of their own. It was a funny age, teenagehood. Evelli could barely remember her own, but what she did remember was doing as her parents said, for she was an obedient girl, the only offspring of her parents.
It was too bad Nana had not taken after her, unlike her elder three girls.
Chuckling when Nikolias commiserated with her, Evelli shot the Condos lord a look that clearly said they shared the same opinion. Evelli was not blind to the fact that Nana, and to a certain extent Imma, had no wish to spend a prolonged amount of time with her - but they had little choice, for their age meant that they were not yet allowed to wander alone without appropriate companionship or a watchful eye. "I see your point, Lord Nikolias. This daughter of mine does need a stronger hand, however." she murmured, letting her hazel gaze flicker to the disappearing back of Nana, before sighing. She's had three times worth of learning to let go, but it didn't change the fact that it was still difficult each time.
Looking over when the lord gestured to the fixed sculpture of the sun God, Evelli gave it an appraising eye, and nodded. "It is of good workmanship, and we have yet to find a set sculptor or artist for our family, so I see why not." As her eyes wandered, the Leventi matriach's gaze widened a little when she saw a young man who had just gotten dressed - had Nana seen the man posing half-naked as Dionysus himself?
Not that she could worry, for Nana had long gotten eaten up by the crowd, and no matter how she looked, she could not find her. Deciding to just take a deep breathe and let it go (for the young Leventi would eventually have to face the naked body of the opposing gender some day), instead Evelli turned to Lord Nikolias, and gestured at the man who had picked up a vase and took a swig of what Evelli assumed was fine quality wine. "And that painting of Dionysus, is it not beautiful? This festival is becoming quite promising." she murmured, offering a smile at the model should he look over, and then back at the lord. "I'll have to ask my husband before we make any decisions, of course. But he'll be happy to have likenesses of his daughters, I assume." It was no secret that Georgios of Leventi doted on his daughters.
Inviting the lord to come walk with her as she browsed the wares on sale in the market, it was a while later, as the sun began to dip over the horizon, did Evelli finally draw to a stop, and gave the Condos lord a respectful bow. "With the hour, I should take my leave now, Lord Nikolias. My husband would be unhappy if I bring the two girls back late. I thank you for your wondrous company for today, however. The festival has been enriched with your companionship." Evelli's smile was pleasant as she curtsied one more time, before turning with her bevy of servants towards where the Leventi carriage awaited. Sending out runner boy's to fetch Nana and Imma from wherever they are, Evelli would wait for her two daughter's to arrive, before whisking them back to the Leventi manor, no doubt to announce to her husband her intentions to procure small miniature likenesses of all daughters, to send to future potential suitors.
Yet when the servants returned with one, but lacking the presence of her youngest, Evelli frowned. It was no surprise to her that Imma would be lost in the hubbub of arts and sculpturing as her youngest was wont to do. Frowning, she sent Nana back in the carriage, and then headed off in the crowds in search of her youngest.
Quite honestly, there was never a dull moment in Taengea, particularly in those blessed moments when Basilides had the honor of entertaining the nobility with novelty and a word here and there. With that being said, he knew he had his favorites among the nobility - by favorites, he certainly meant the more generous patrons with which he spent the most time - and so he was not nearly as familiar with the Lord of Condos as the Leventi Ladies naturally were.
In the brief moments before he could offer an appropriate bow or greeting, Nana spoke on his behalf, offered a full introduction and essentially took all of the pressure away from him as it was needed. Unsure if he was more amused by the young noblewoman's candor or the expressions of the older nobleman and woman before then, he could only offer a mildly amused smile and took the opportunity to take a bow.
"My Lord Nikolias, it is a pleasure indeed," Basilides offered demurely, not wanting to add too many words to the existing flurry left by Nana of Leventi. It was not long before their exit was imminent, and he had seen enough shows on stage to know they were about to make their exeunt to anywhere but there, and managed to squeeze in another quick bow to both Lord Nikolias and Lady Evelli, "My Lord, My Lady." He gave a reassuring nod toward the mother of the Leventi girl, a silent promise not to let anything to befall her daughter.
At the potter's stand, sharing his benign amusement at the vase, Basilides had to stifle an audible snicker through his nose at her descriptor.
"Colchian, indeed," he replied, nodding in feigned sincerity as they turned away to allow a full smirk to spread across his features. At her suggestion of a few new gowns, he nodded, directing them and her small entourage of guards towards the fabric stand where he first admired the fabric for Zephyrus. They pondered there a moment, examining the fabric and holding it up to her skin to check for the appropriate tone before deciding to move to another.
Along the way, Basilides spotted the young model and the portrait painter, reflecting the perfect image of Dionysus upon the canvas. Basilides said nothing but nudged Nana and tilted his head in such a direction.
There was no doubt that Basilides' expression likely mirrored that of most of the women eyeing the young man posing at the God of Wine, Art, and Ecstasy. In that moment, he was grateful to the gods that his thoughts were trapped within his head and were not able to be seen by the others around him, particularly Nana. Fortunately, before his words or his body could incriminate him for the simple sin of attraction, a runner from Lady Evelli came to collect the young Leventi woman for departure.
Deftly kissing the young woman's hand and offering an appropriate bow, he promised, "I will write to you soon."
As he watched her golden mane flutter away through a parted crowd, Basilides turned once again to admire the display. Trays of wine, offered by the painter's patron he assumed, were passed around and the Producer offered several coins in exchange for a glass. It seemed only fitting to observe this inadvertent worship of the god while enjoying such an offering.
As the model rose and the painter completed his display, Basilides took a sip, solidifying his next decision as he crossed over to speak with the young man, adjusting his Children of Mnemosyne crest on his shoulder - making sure the masks of comedy and tragedy were seen clearly. He maintained a certain professional composure, despite the wine in his hand and the flitting thoughts in his mind.
"No better way, indeed," Basilides replied, his voice smooth and deep, "Both artists bear their talents and offerings well.." He offered his own glass to meet the rim of the other man's in a slight 'cheers' clink.
It was perhaps too obvious that Hesiodos was offered a glass of wine for his service – however, he had a couple more, and since no one dared to tell him anything, he continued to indulge. He was finally dressed in, fittingly, in a wine red modified chlamys, made in a way that he could use two swords at the same time comfortably, though such weapons were stored somewhere else, alongside his lyre, which for him was as valuable and useful.
He was quite happy upon seeing the people admiring his painting, with comments saying he looked like Dionysus himself. A bold move, which might have angered the gods, but considering they were drinking and possibly drunk while saying that, he was quite sure the god of the vine wouldn’t mind one bit.
When spoken to by a voice he recognized, he turned his head, and a smile drew upon his face, “The gods must be honored, after all. Beautiful paintings, wine, laughter… and theatre”, he clicked his glass with him in knowing compliance and drank on his own. He introduced himself, but Hesiodos knew damn well who he was. After all, the bard was one of his greatest admirers, who composed a couple of sonnets for his plays on occasion.
“It’s a pleasure”, he said, trying his best to not to chuckle, “Hesiodos of Phossis, at your service”, he knew that as well, but since they were introducing themselves…
“I suspected I would find your handsome face here. It’s partly one reason why I came…”, he admitted without a hint of shame, “After all, artists are drawn to this kind of things like moths to a flame, aren’t we?”
Nikolias nodded in approval of the Dionysus painting. "Someone, be it the painter or the gods themselves who sculpted that man, is very talented!" he could not resist admitting. He turned for a minute to greet Basilides. "It is a pleasure to meet you as well," he said, before Basilides seemed to go in search of Nana.
"Good day, Lady Evelli," he added when she said she had to leave. "I enjoyed your companionship as well." He meant it. They were not exactly friends, and their families had their share of land squabbles among other things. But neither did he exactly dislike her. Sometimes it was nice to have another parent to commiserate with, and it didn't really matter whom it was.
He continued making his way around the festival, pausing briefly to acknowledge the young man who was dressed as Dionysus. "Well done, lad," he said with an approving nod.
It had been quite some time since Basilides last laid his eyes on Hesiodos, enough time for age to have made their marks on their faces and bodies. Only a missive or two had managed to pass between them as they were both hardly the kind to set their bags down long enough to receive letters. Still, on more than one occasion, his music and lyrics had their hand on several shows performed by the Children, and Basilides was ever grateful to have such a deft musician at hand.
As if completing the sacred ritual of a toast, Basilides lifted his chalice to his lips and watched the bard do the same, dabbing a stray drip of wine with the back of his wrist and humming in agreement as he spoke.
"The Children will come in a few months time for the Festival of Dionysus to truly honor his name," he replied matter-of-factly, one hand adjusting his brooch out of habit whenever the troupe was mentioned, "I'm here alone on business."
The word alone felt like a sin to mention, and his mind flickered back to his usual companions - and specific companion - for the briefest of moments.
Then, at Hesiodos' shameless compliment, Basilides' brows raised and seemed to choreograph a short dance on his features - from surprise to acceptance to shedding all humility and basking in it for a moment. He had to appreciate a man who was open enough to make such a remark, though his eyes did flick over towards some of the nearby festival-goers who shifted their glances in that direction.
"Indeed we are. Too much trouble in a small space, as they say," he grinned, noting the passing women who giggled flirtatiously and tried to cast a wave to capture the bard's attention. Before continuing, he noted Lord Nikolias arriving and acknowledging Hesiodos, and immediately ducked into a bow for the nobleman.
"Lord Nikolias, this is my friend Hesiodos of Phossis, a bard of great renown who has been more than helpful on many occasions to the Children of Mnemosyne. His music and lyrics are unrivaled in the realm. And so apparently is his talent for modelling."
Over the years, Hesiodos changed quite a bit. He had longer hair, and he had more scars to show on his body, especially when naked – he had a fantasy about Basillides checking them, in the bedroom – but other than that, he was easy to recognize. At least as much as the man before him; he was as handsome as always, and he only aged like fine wine.
“Will they now?” he said with a tone that tried to hide his excitement, “Well, expect me in the first row. You know how much appreciation I have for them… and for you”, he had his flirty tone as always. He was rather amused upon seeing his subtle, yet noticeable, change of expression. He was truly an actor. As for the people that gave them odd looks, Hesiodos learned to just not care about them. If they said something, showing them a gleaming handful of sharp bronze was enough for them to shut the fuck up.
He didn’t ignore, however, the flirty waves of the women that tried to catch their attention. He waved back with a charming smile, and normally, he would have pursued them, but for now, he was focused on the handsome thespian before him. Or was, before the Lord appeared before them. He humbly bowed before him.
“You honor me with your compliment, my Lord”, he said with a smile, and let Bastillides talk to him. He didn’t say anything, or tried to make him see as more humble. After all, it was all true… he wondered if they knew the legends that came after him, “Well, you know what they say about bards…”, he chuckled and drank more wine, “As I was saying to my friend here, this is the best way to honor the god of the vine”, he could think of some other ways, all of them involving Bas, but he decided to try them… later.