Beltaine arrives to the Spark!
"I am the strangest candidate for liking drinking games."
There has been a political shift in the County of Cross' Shadow: with no current plans in place for the appointment of a new Count or Countess, the Kithain of the region wait to see whether Duke Granville or any other nobles make a move.
This morning, though, is the morning before The Spark's annual celebration of Beltaine, with many guests due to arrive later in the day. The motley are decked out in their spring finest: Braum in his tunic with additional wildflowers; Patches in a wispy cotton blazer and pantsuit is at work upgrading the huts outside; and Sophia is resplendent in a dress made of interwoven flowers and plants. The first guest to arrive is an unexpected one: a tabby cat pooka who eventually introduces herself as Chrysanthemum, a "reporter-at-large" for a "night-time paper", Nocturnal Emissions. She grills all of the members of the motley, testing their patience and their knowledge of all manner of subjects: local politics, the Red Branch, the opening of the NOVEL annex at the Grand Bes Din, past and present romantic relationships. Though she is initially very cagey about her reason for being at the Spark, she eventually admits to motley that the paper's Soothsay department told her that there was definitely going to be news at the Spark today.
The members of the Golden Braid arrive next. Sophia takes Sir Xaeron aside, while Fala goes out of her way to congratulate Patches on her knighthood. The eshu tells her she has been working towards repairing alliances and relationships broken in the wake of Broken Flight. She also visited Halleah, who is "finding her own happiness" with a new man. Patches still harbours much resentment and distrust towards Halleah for her crimes, even though she had been under oath and duress … but by saying as much, ends up offending Fala, who also had been committing crimes under oath! Sophia, meanwhile, is commiserating with Xaeron about their newfound lack of respect for Duke Granville. Perhaps Sophia should approach him to ask for Xaeron's hand formally?
Kaylie and Pasebakhaenniut arrive next, bearing gifts of "spirit seed" for the garden, and when Kaylie realizes that Sophia and Xaeron are now romantic partners, expresses her joy for them. Suddenly, Aidan, Gus, and Countess Weyer appear in the Exhaust, dressed to the nines in new (Weyer) fashion. Braum is overjoyed to see his sons again, and the two present the Spark with gifts of flowers for the festival as well. As Aidan tries to explain the "true names" of various plant life to Kaylie, Braum speaks with Gus, happy to learn that Aidan has "always been there" for him… even when their father wasn't.
Patches catches up with Fala and admits her error, but the eshu understands her feelings. She's heard that Patches is considering membership into the Golden Braid: "there are too many Gwydion," she tells Patches wryly. Perhaps what they really need is someone to do the thinking for them…. The Countess Weyer speaks with Sophia, offering to help with the "negotiations" she will have with the Duke. She believes that, although the Duke may not see reason now, both Sophia and Xaeron will be beacons of hope "simply by existing"; she believes this could be a big step towards increasing House Liam's influence, too. She floats the idea to Sophia of using mortals as Dreaming "scouts" to be House Liam's eyes and ears, and strongly suggests that Sophia shouldn't leave "obvious things unsaid" to the Duke.
Patches speaks with Lord MacAllistar, who is surprised to learn that she's interested in joining the Braid. When Patches learns that Lady Helena is considering moving to Cross' Shadow to become its Countess, she points out how it might look: surely the Golden Braid, that is hoping to incorporate members of all houses, would look hypocritical if House Gwydion made a move to secure a base of operations? MacAllistar is duly impressed, noting the Gwydion don't often "think about the optics".
It is at this point that Duke Granville arrives: Gus steps forward and presages "good news" for him, having used his budding knowledge of Soothsay. Countess Weyer takes him for a turn about the garden while Braum tries to help psych up Sophia. He's convinced that the Duke does indeed respect her, but Sophia believes otherwise. The sidhe steps out into the garden, ever the resplendent, Shining Host, and greets the assembled guests. She announces her impending marriage to Sir Xaeron, and takes time to thank and acknowledge many of those around her: Xaeron, the Duke, Zistor Flexx, her motley, her friends, Countess Weyer… but also herself, for all that she's managed to accomplish. The Duke, moved by her words (and by Weyer's), confers the title of Baron on Xaeron!