Arialene

The Manastrega Ball ((Open))

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Tianisa Manastrega stuck one last pin in the parchment her note was written on in The Dragonhawk Brigade Guild hall, announcing the ball.

"Where do ya want this?" Crudus grunted behind her, he and Phio each holding up one end of a large wooden chest.

Tia took a couple steps to the side.

"Under here please, love."

The chest was set down with a very heavy sounding thud, Phio and Crudus both breathed a sigh of relief.

Tianisa smiled at her boys.

"We shall make this a ball to remember! Now, we must go check on how the cleaning of the hall is going. I didn't think it was going to be THAT filthy."

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Its as if someone was forcing Masquerade to eat a stew made out of dead sewer rat, gnoll linens, and the hair off a goblin's toes. She wrinkled her nose in disgust at the sight of a beautifully crafted gown hanging from the doorframe. She recognized it immediately as her birthday present from Lady Tianisa, a dress designed exclusively for the Chief. The rogue couldn't bring herself to burn the gift. It was obvious to even someone as fashion-ignorant as Masquerade that the gown was a work of art and must've taken extensive hours to complete. Still, she had thought her hiding place foolproof...

"Yeah, righ'," the redhead scoffed, fighting a wave of nausea as she slung the garment over her arm.

She found Tianisa with her husband and son in the Guild Hall. Trying her best to hide the scowl she approached the elder elf, holding the dress out at arms length.

"You don't really expect me ta wear this, do ya?" Masque asked, unable to hide the malice in her voice.

She loved Tianisa, the woman was the closest thing she ever had to a motherly figure. She had sacrificed both time and energy for the Brigade, whether in battle, defensive magics, or hours spent tailoring countless tabards for new recruits. She selflessly gave her all for others and had earned the respect of the Chief as well as her fellow Agents. There was only one problem.

She wanted Masquerade to wear a dress.

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Nyali looked upon the sign and nodded. She smirked as she saw Masquerade approaching Tia, purpose in her step. Nyali chuckled and followed, watching Masquerade.

Nyali grinned at her chief. She knew how much the elf hated dresses, in fact she agreed with her, however this chance could not be passed up. "Now boss, why no' jus' try i' out?" The trolless purred. The young raptor beside her trilled at Masquerade, it wanted attention. Nyali signaled it to quiet down.

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Tianisa turned around at Masquerade's question, a bright smile on her face.

"Oh but it will look so lovely on you dear. You'll have to wear the other underskirts that I sent with it, they were in a stack underneath where I hung that dress. There hasn't been a big ball like this in... well several decades now. You'll want to be dressed in your best to properly represent the Brigade to everyone, right?"

Tia turned her head slightly and winked ever so slightly at Nyali.

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Meanwhile, in Silvermoon, Adrastia Manastrega smoothed the front of her fine dress and looked up at the entrance to Dej Dynastus Hall. She gulped ever so slightly, the siblings always scared her a little bit. But, her mother had given orders to hand deliver invitations to them, and so here Adrastia was. She squared her shoulders and walked inside the extravagent hall.

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Selidraene grumbled, exiting the mess hall into the main area. She had been preparing food for the forces of the Brigade entering the Molten Front when she remembered that the potions she had been preparing were still on the burner. She rushed past the gathering in front of the sign for the ball without looking twice when she bumped into Tia's son, Phio, who was blocking her path and grinning at her with that goofy smile that he always seemed to have around her.

"Uh, hey Phio." Things had been strange between the two since he had come back, and while his feelings for her were obvious, she still wasn't sure how she felt about him.

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Phio grinned at Seli.

"Are you gonna come? It will be my birthday afterall."

Just then, Crudus came up beside Phio. "Your mother wants us ta go ta the hall and begin the cleanin' and any repairs, while she stays here ta do all her dress stuff."

Phio nodded at Crudus and turned back to Seli.

"Let me know." And he winked at her before following Crudus out of the Guild hall.

~~

After reaching Manastrega Manor, and seeing the state of disrepair that the Ballroom was in, Crudus was at a loss for words.

"Well, this is a might worse than I thought it would be," he finally said. "We need to hire people."

Phio nodded in agreement. "I guess I'll go to the City and see if I can find anyone to hire."

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*Nyali nodded and flipped on her comm.* "PHOENIX, a' leas' five a ya mus' attend da Ball. We need Peacekeepahs. Do no' worry. ya don' 'ave ta dress all pretty." *She smirked, knowing full well that -some- of her folk hated to dress up. She sighed and sat beside the sign, waiting on one of her folk to show up.

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"Underskirts?! Now I know yer outta yer mind!"

Masque puckered her lips in irritation as Tianisa and Nyali exchanged looks. The two were laughing now, but if she had her way that would soon come to an end. Gown or no gown, the great Brigade Chief would not be the subject of ridicule. She needed to come up with a plan, and fast. If things kept going the way they were going she'd end up spending the whole night dancing. The rogue shuddered at the thought.

Her ears perked at a pinging sound that came from the communicator attached to her hip. Nyali's voice echoed over the unit as the troll made her announcement. Eyes widening, she approached the General with a hopeful glint to her eye.

"Peacekeeper! I can be tha'! They don' need me at tha' ball, there'll be plenty ah other times ta socialize an' make appearances or whateva'! Righ', righ'?!" Masquerade pleaded. The gown was bunched in her right hand as she spoke, probably not the best way to handle such an expensive garment but there were more important things to worry about than Tianisa's wrath at the moment.

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"ah don' know Masq...ah neva' seen ya fightin', do we 'ave 'nough time f' ya ta show dat ya kin do it? An' we won' be socializin' much, jus' watchin'." The trolless eyes Masq.

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The flight over was short considering Daz'ul was overseeing a regrowth plan in the Eastern Plague lands for the Cenarion Circle, So the troll was the first of the Phoenix to arrive. As the Dragonhawk brigade hall came into view he dropped altitude his wings spreading wide to slow the fall into a safe landing. DAz's body shifted form out of his bat shape and into his normal troll body. The Darkspear troll stood to his feet slowly and stretched to his full height before slumping over as normal. He ran his hands against his Blue mohawk to make sure it stood at it's full height before entering the hall. The troll walked in feeling more relaxed then he had in some time, as he entered he noticed the Brigade chief and his commander having a chat. He stopped just a few feet away and gave the two a slight bow before using his staff to lean on for support. " 'Ey der sistahs. I came 'ere according ta da call Nyali an' ta pay respect ta Tias children."

Overlooking one Silvermoon cities many roads Vruthiah Sunblaze was looking through some of her old dresses deciding what to wear for the ball tonight. The Death knight like many of her kin had a distaste for much of life and it's joys, but a small fragment of what made her alive once, lingered. She'd take a small joy in dressing for the occasion and probably disappear from sight soon after. Vruth found a long crimson dress that hid her feet from sight and displayed her back in all its glory. The Blood elf stared at the cracked mirror for some time before releasing a sigh. Her fury swelled up in her for a moment as she knocked over one of the tables. She remembered her once beautiful completion , her tan skin and beautiful blond hair with brilliant azure eyes that belonged to the highborn. But now she was a measly shadow of her former self. Her once beautiful skin had turned ebony from the dark unholy magic that coursed through her and kept her alive. Her eyes now glowed Bright blue as the signature mark of the Death knight. Her once blond hair had turned white leaving her to appear almost as a different person entirely. The Sunblaze closed the curtains of her balcony and began to undress herself so that she could wear the Crimson dress she had chosen. A dress she had once purchased for her late daughter.

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Tekk took a look at the big chest in front of her, after reading the note and managed to heave the lid open. The short goblin peered down inside at all the array of colorful dresses and started to rummage threw, almost falling into the big chest a few times. "Nope, too big. Nope, not that one either" Shuffling threw all of the dresses she finally found the smallest one in the chest and pulled it out. Tekk Held the dress up to herself and noticed the skirt still slightly dragged the floor and it was a bit big around the hips. "Well, this is hopeless..." She tossed the dress back into the chest and shut the lid. Tekk remembered that she had a Lovely Blue dress in the bank at Org. "I hope that will be ok." Tekk mumbled to herself absentmindedly as she normally does and Hurried off to Orgrimmar to fetch the dress and a pair of shoes. Tekk was very excited, this would be the first ball she had ever been to. "I only hope I have enough time do get everything done before it starts. I wonder if Bazzil will be there" she thought to herself and she started to blush a pale green at the thoughts of him and her dancing together.

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It had taken significantly longer than Klarm had expected, to perfect the illusion he had been taught. It had been ages since he had been able to attend a gathering of the Brigade- And while this wasn't exactly his crowd, he felt that it was necessary for him to make sure he would be there. Even if he was a little late.

He reached up, flicking the elvish ears he now had. His entire body, save for his semi-muscular human build (Which he couldn't help but bask in the irony, that a dead man had more muscle than most of the elves), now appeared to be elvish in origin. Half-elven at the least. The illusion was far from perfect, but if anything, Klarm found his decaying body a nuisance, especially when trying to dress properly for such a prestigious occasion. It was either the illusion, or risk some rather awkward meetings with the higher aristocratic elves who did not enjoy seeing decayed flesh and bone at a party.

Still, it was enough to satisfy him. A dark portal appeared behind him, as he turned from his current residence in the Blasted Lands. A similar portal was created only minutes from the area he had agreed to meet his fellow Brigadiers at, by a colleague- A goblin who was paid a hefty sum of gold to do the job right. The portals were quickly linked, and the forests of Eversong appeared mere steps away from Klarm's current position.

Now, just which direction was it again?..

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Tianisa fixed Masq with a hard stare.

"Surely you don't want to represent yourself, and thus the Brigade, to all of High Elf society in anything less than your best. While they will expect non-Elves to dress lesser or stand as security, they will not be so kind to you. Trust me, chief, wear the dress I made you. It will also make you look just lovely!"

She turned to Nyali.

"I would be grateful for your help with security, however, I do expect everyone to look well dressed. Not to the level of this," she said, gesturing at the chest behind her, clothes now spilling out the sides. "But nice, am I understood?"

~~~~

Adrastia sighed as she left Dej Dynastus hall, the siblings always made her nervous. Now she needed to get ready herself, which she smiled at. It was her birthday afterall, she would look smashing.

~~

Crudus and Phio stood in the middle of the grand Ballroom, looking around and grinning. Phio had found a mage cleaning service that was quite happy to work quickly for the large sum Phio had given them. The domed room now shined in the setting sunlight, the gold fixtures and crystals of the enormus chandalier that hung from the middle speaking loudly of old wealth. Dark green banners and tapestries decorated the walls with a very large one hosting the Manastrega crest that the guests would see as they came down the grand staircase. The staircase lead down to the floor of the ballroom from a grand double door entrance, silver lining each edge of the steps. The handrails were made of silver crystal, with a line of green running down the center of the rail. The staircase continued to wrap up around the sides of the ballroom to the left and right of the door, leading to doors at the top. Various colored candles floated around the room, and would be lit by Tia when the matriarch arrived. Servants worked around the edges of the room, setting up tables for all the guests and the smell of baking sweets and roasting meats wafted through the room.

"Look out!" shouted a male voice.

Crudus and Phio both jumped to either side of the staircase as a long green carpet bounced down the stairs, unrolling itself. The edges of the carpet were decorated with silver vines and had small versions of the Manastrega crest placed in the center every 2 feet.

"Well, if yer mother doesn't approve of this, I dun know what will anymor'," Crudus said. Phio grinned.

"We should probably go get ready," Phio said, as a bell sounded outside.

Crudus nodded and they turned up the

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It was dark and damp in the Cellar, a rarely visited section of Fairbreeze Storage where the Brigade stored much of their foodstuffs in chilled compartments. Usually the only persons to visit the Cellar were cooks, and seeing as most had taken the day off to either prepare for the Manastrega Ball or were going themselves, it seemed the perfect place to hide. A lone window cast a dust-speckled lightstream onto the floor below, illuminating Masquerade's gown that lay strewn out on the cement floor.

A pair of sheers glinted in the light, posed threateningly over a segment of cloth that the rogue held in her hand. As the blades crossed over one another they made a sharp ssssshk shhhhk sound, cutting only air. The Brigade Chief had been sitting in this position for over five minutes now, motionless except for her hand slowly drawing towards the gown, shears poised and ready, before she chickened out at the last moment and drew back, almost cutting herself twice.

"Dammit!" Masquerade swore, chucking the shears out of arms reach to send them crashing into the stone wall. She stood, holding up the unharmed gown with both hands and glaring at it. She couldn't bring herself to make a single tear on the shimmering cloth. Her plan had been to slice up the garment to the point where it was almost unrecognizable, and claim that the gown had been the unlucky target of a ravenous pack of Lynx. It was a well-known fact that Lynx held an ancient and violent grudge toward all things eloquent.

The Chief scoffed, a grimace now permanently plastered across her features. She threw off her clothes, fingers fumbling at the many belt buckles and straps until a pile of worn leather armor formed at the base of her feet. Stomping over to a large rectangular cooler, Masquerade threw open the lid and was greeted with a blast of cold air against her bare skin. Peering inside she saw a glimpse of pink ruffles beneath the stacks of frozen wyrm meat. (No one ever ate that crap anyways.) Tossing the frozen chunks aside she withdrew a thick mess of undergarments and let the lid slam shut.

It took a moment to make heads or tails of the tangled layers of clothing. She scowled, once again wondering why anyone would subject themselves to this kind of torture. The brassiere looked constricting and uncomfortable, and the wires beneath would definitely limit her movement. At least Tianisa hadn't given her any shoes to wear...she might be able to sneak in a pair of boots underneath the gown. The fabric swept across the floor and she doubted anyone would notice.

Masquerade stepped into the undergarments, shivering as she did so. The rogue didn't bother attempting to close the back seam, or appropriately fit the brassiere over her small chest. She'd probably get it wrong anyways. With a huff she slid the elegant dress over her head and clawed her way through the neck and arm holes. With a swift, violent tug she fitted the gown over the undergarments, kicking aside the frilly leggings, gloves, and stockings that she felt unnecessary to wear. Her hands swept back behind her neck to free hair that had gotten caught between cloth and skin. She didn't bother finding a mirror, nor did she care how she looked. Scowl in-tact she tromped up the stairs leading into the main hall.

Ignoring the shocked array of looks directed at Masquerade as she passed, the rogue made a beeline for Tianisa, stopping just short of colliding with the elder mage. With enormous effort she bit back the urge to shout profanities that expressed her honest opinion of the situation. Taking a moment to glare into Tia's eyes though their faces were inches apart, Masque spun on her heel so that her back was facing the woman.

"Zip me up!" she spat. Masquerade met the eyes of anyone who dared to approach with a look that clearly said Don't fuck with me.

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It was with bitterness that Sabeinne always sorted through the few documents which Nevitt deemed important enough to pass on to her at the end of the day. Lysimachus really ought to take care of such matters from time to time, but in general he was mysteriously absent. The last she had seen him, he had been checking his teeth in a mirror and congratulating his reflection on its excellent oral hygiene. For a good ten minutes.

She sorted through them with her usual lack of interest. There was one document, however, a stiff invitation, which caught her eye by virtue of the name at the top of it. Lady Tianisa was one of a particular group of hellers whom they made a concerted effort to stay on good terms with. She sighed and sorted the invitation onto the corner of her desk where she placed things which were not to be forgotten.

Sabeinne hated parties.

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Tianisa frowned at the dress Masquerade now wore, in the matter of a few minutes the dress had become horribly wrinkled and needed to be fitted. She looked around the room at everyone else pulling on the boxed clothes, a couple of female goblins standing in dresses that were several feet too long. Tia sighed and closed her eyes. She had been hoping to avoid this cheap way of fitting everyone to their clothes, but she had to still get ready as well. Tianisa reached into her magic, sending it down her fingers into the dress that Masquerade wore and the other dresses across the room. The thread sang to her, wanting to be worked again by her.

After a few moments, the dresses in the room fit themselves to their wearers, corsets laced themselves and wrinkles did not dare grace the cloth. On Masquerade's dress, a Dragonhawk formed on the skirt of the dress from the red belt around her waist.

Tianisa opened her eyes and smiled.

~~~

Pleased with her work, and satisfied that everyone was almost ready for the ball, Tianisa teleported herself away to the manor to ready herself as well.

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Masquerade eyed the dress she wore just as a light blue wave of magic coursed over it. She watched in wonderment as a golden dragonhawk emblem embroidered itself on the base of her gown, a little of her resentment fading away as the magic settled. She thought it a nice touch, if not a beautiful one, though she would never admit it. With only a hint of resentment in her voice this time she turned her head just enough to look over her shoulder and mumble a "Thanks."

Noting that the others in the hall were now finished dressing thanks to Tia's magic, Masquerade hurriedly made her way towards the exit, eager to get the evening over with.

"Get yer butts in gear, people! C'mon! After me!" the Chief shouted, causing a few others to jump in surprise. She led the few remaining Brigadiers and their guests out of the Hall and towards the courtyard. Sparing no time for delicacy, Masque swung a leg over her Choppa and sped off towards Manastrega Manor.

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Tekk arrived just in the nick of time to hear the beautiful sounds of Masquerade's Choppa rumbling off in the distance as she flew over on her Wyern. "Oh thank the stars I've arrived just in time." Tekks blue silk dress flowed in the wind, her polished finger nails glistened in the sunlight as she gripped the wiverns lasso. When she neared Masquerade's choppa Tekk gave a quick shout out "Hiya there chief. Wow love the dress." Tekk Smiled politely and quickly fell in line with the rest of the group all in formals. Tekk Quickly looked around at all of the faces some she knew and some not, but one face she was saddened not to see. Brasspair wasn't there. Perhaps he's just running late she assured herself, and followed the group up to the Manor.

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Selidraene slipped into the office, trying to avoid getting forced into trying on one of the dresses that she knew wouldn't fit her since she was getting further along into her pregnancy. She looked over to her desk and saw a package, deep forest green with silver ribbon tying it up. She walked over and saw a card with a red rose on top of it: "Mother thought that you would need this for the ball." After reading the card, she untied the ribbon and carefully opened the box, revealing an extravagant dress the same color as the wrapping with silver vines and red flowers embroidered on it. Seli sighed, she couldn't turn down Phio's invitation now, not after Tia had worked so long on this dress. Returning to the door, she locked it and began to get dressed.

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Reroma got up from the floor in the bedroom of her home in Silvermoon, dusting off her purple shirt after another failed attempt to catch Loc, her prized spirit beast and best friend. She had seen the invitation in the guild hall two days ago, and she wanted to get both herself and her beloved cat ready.

Sadly Loc, like all cats, hated baths and anything to do with water.

"Can't you just make this easy, Loc? You need to bathe sometime," She said, looking around the room in search of the animal. "We've been at this for an hour, I'm not going to stop until I get you."

Reroma crouched down on the floor, looking under her bed. She saw the glowing face of Loc before he leaped out from under the bed and onto the hunter, quickly leaping off of her and out of the room. Reroma got up and sighed, noticing the new claw marks on her arm. It wasn't bleeding, but it still hurt and the mark isn't going to go away for a few hours, at least. She sighed, yelling towards the hallway where Loc ran to, "Really? You're not helping anything." She got up and ran into the hallway.

About a half hour later, she was walking towards the bathroom, Loc being carried over Reroma's shoulders, Reroma grabbing his paws tightly so he couldn't scratch her and get away again. She quickly dropped him into the already filled bathtub, planning on worrying about the spilled water later. Loc brought his head out of the water quickly, giving Reroma a look that said, 'Do you think this is funny? You will pay for this.' Reroma laughed. "Please, I know you'd never hurt me. Well, except for when we first met, that is. Besides, you love getting bathed and you know it." In a way, she was right. While the spirit beast didn't enjoy getting into a bath very much, he certainly enjoyed feeling clean afterwards. He even gets a small burst of energy once he's dried, running around the house every which way.

After Loc was dried and smelling like scented herbs, Reroma walked back to her room to get the dress she planned on wearing to the ball. From the far right side of the closet she brought out a deep azure long dress. The dress sparkled when light touched it, seeming to represent the night sky. It wasn't a very big dress, but it would still lok elegant nonetheless. "Perfect," Reroma said to herself, placing the dress on her bed for later.

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Tianisa hung an emerald earring in her ear before leaning back and looking at her reflection.

"215 and still looking good," she murmured to herself.

"I have ta agree," said Crudus, who was leaning against the door frame waiting for her. "Phio and Drasti are already downstairs, we just need yer approval on the hall to start things off, my love."

Tia twirled her finger in the hair next to her head, a silver ribbon threading itself through her hair.

"You know, two decades of playing with cloth all the time, I have learned quite a few new things," she turned to him and smiled. "Let's go, I don't want to keep anyone waiting."

Crudus opened the door and bowed to Tia. She chuckled at him and stepped out the open door onto the landing overlooking the whole hall. Tia nodded her approval, flowers and tapestries lined the walls and the multi-colored candles around the room still awaited her flame. Once satisfied that everything was in place, Tia swept her hand across the room in front of her and the hundreds of candles lit themselves, filling the hall with a soft glow. The candles had all been fitted with special holders to deter wax from dropping on anyone. A couple of the servants that were adding final touches to the room gasped at the show of fire magic playing above them.

"You certainly haven't lost your touch, my lady," Crudus said from behind her.

"Indeed not," she said, smiling widely. She turned her gaze to the footmen standing by the door, looking up at her.

"Open the gates, let the ball begin!" she declared, before sitting on the railing and sliding all the way down.

"Mother!" Adrastia cried, watching Tianisa slide down the banister.

"Oh dear, you can never get too old for that kind of fun," laughing as she slowed herself at the end. Crudus bumped into her as he too made it to the end of the banister, laughing along with her.

"I swear, you two act like you are barely 90 sometimes," Adrastia mumbled, smoothing out her skirts.

Tia stood and smoothed the front of her gown. Tonight she was wearing a deep green ball gown with silver crystals all over the bodice that then cascaded down the skirt. She wore the matching jewelry set of Truesilver and Emeralds, that Crudus had given her on their 100th anniversary together, which consisted of a diadem, necklace, earrings and bracelet. She also wore the full ring of her wedding band, rather than just the slim Truesilver band most saw her wearing. This ring was linked together over her middle and ring fingers of her left hand, the Truesilver craftsmanship holding a multitude of emeralds, black and white diamonds and the tiniest of pearls. The tight bodice of the gown shaped her slim figure nicely with cap sleeves that covered her shoulders. Tonight, she was not Tia. Tonight, she was Lady Tianisa dej Dispatche Manastrega, the matriarch and highest authority of the proud dej Dispatche and Manastrega families.

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*Nyali salutes the guards, the Phoenix squad following. While not the most beautiful, her armor had clearly been cleaned. She took her position, commanding her soldiers to do the same.*

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Masquerade and those who had followed her out of the base were among the first to arrive at Manastrega Manor. It had been some time since the Chief had been to the esteemed elf's home, the sheer size and elegance of it once again putting her on edge. Motioning for the others to follow she pulled the Choppa around the manor and slid into park before sliding out of the seat and turning off the engine. Sighing she tucked the keys away into a hidden strap beneath her dress where a small dagger was also concealed. Masquerade had begun to make her way to the front steps before a thought struck her and she turned, reaching for her communicator off the Choppa's dash and clipping it onto the waistband of her dress. Screw appearances, she thought, giving the unit a double-pat. It was nice to have something familiar nearby to offset how uncomfortable she felt in the gown.

The rogue led the others across the Manasrega's eloquently maintained gardens and towards the entryway. She stopped for nothing or no one, forcing the large Manor doors open with a fierce shove and marching her way towards the ballroom. Thankful that she had worn boots, the Chief had no trouble making her way down the stairs while making a conscious effort to avoid eye contact with the other guests.

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