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Treat it like a Duel

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Just don't take any heads off.

Loken adjusted his doublet a little, and stepped up to his partner, keeping a close eye on the Emperor's Children. As far as he could deduce from their movements, this dance was a sort of staccato strut. He turned to the training exercises for a point of reference; synchronisation, resisting the urge to preempt. At least here it was easier to read the intent conveyed by posture and the anticipatory movements of muscles.

Abaddon and Targhost were having none of it and had parked themselves firmly in seats next to Horus. Maloghurst’s ruined physique would make it a cruel joke to have him dance and Luc Sedirae had gone to peruse the armoury, while Iacton Qruze had disappeared and no one cared to go looking for him. So it was left to the rest of the Mournival, along with Moy and Marr, to represent their Legion besides the Emperor's Children and Army officers.

This wasn't too much of a step from the more florid duels he had taken part in, but even as he matched the movements of all those around him, the feeling persisted that he wasn't doing it quite right. More annoyingly, he thought he knew why.

Dancing, an ancient saying claimed, was the vertical expression of a horizontal idea. For a warrior whose mind was utterly free of that idea, this posed something of a handicap. It was like a tech-priest trying to understand fine dining.

The mortal officers suffered no such problems. Part of it was that they did not have to negotiate the difference in height and breadth, he considered. The sheer size of his hand on the woman's hip put him dangerously close to committing some sort of indecent act.

Beside him, Tybalt Marr found himself facing a question he didn't quite know how to answer. “What do you think of my dress?”

“I do not know what I would compare it to, madam.”

His partner mistook his honest reply for a compliment. “My, a warrior, scholar and a gentleman.”

At least Marr knew better than to correct her. “You honour me by saying so, madam.” But Loken caught the slightly worried look in his eyes, and had to stifle a chortle.

Another song began and the dance took on an altogether livelier tone, wheeling and spinning. Now Torgaddon came into his own, sweeping his partner off her feet as he gallivanted across the marble floor. For Loken's part, this was really quite demanding, constantly reining in his movements whilst keeping up the pretense of abandon, and all the while feeling the amused eyes of Keeler, Oliton and Karkasy on him.

He endured until the song ended, thanked his partner as gracefully as he could and went in search of a drink. Just tell me we brought down some of that Fenrisian Ale.