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Cornellian VIP Intrigue (Cornellia Only)

Where nations come together and discuss matters of varying degrees of importance. [In character]

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Nalaya
Senator
 
Posts: 4282
Founded: Jul 02, 2011
Ex-Nation

Postby Nalaya » Sun Mar 22, 2015 5:44 pm

L'Delmah d'l'Yochlol
Dyvynasshar, Nalaya


Pointed nails dug into the soft flesh of his throat. He could feel the breath at his ear as intimate as a lover's and smell exotic incense mingling with the copper tang of blood. Simon Norayan tried to move, but the claws only dug in deeper. They were not quite puncturing the skin. More animal than woman, this creature seemed supernaturally strong. He tried not to think of the other hand that was pinning his dominant wrist to the wall. He was afraid to strike at her, knowing that only death awaited those who went down such a road...let alone before the prying eyes of the others. Feeling helpless was new to the former milits'iayi. He heard her inhale sharply near his ear, no doubt taking in the scent of his fear. "Why do you squirm, little thing?" she purred into his ear, body just barely not touching his. It wasn't a position about sex at all, despite how it might have looked. This was all about power. It was an uncomfortable role reversal for him. "Do you not like it? Poor, unfortunate creature. Shall I kiss it better? Would the miserable mouse prefer such a thing? I would rather see you bleed." There was laughter and he felt the fear twist in his gut like a knife.

"The Dread Wolf—" he tried.

"The Quarval-sharess does not speak to your kind, little thing. She does not waste her time with prey," the woman said in that same, throaty voice. He could hear the amusement and accompanying smile. The vivid knowledge that she was enjoying this, the way he shifted his weight to try and get free or the flexing of the muscles in his arm where he tried to get away. She had him in the perfect position, where his arms were pinned just so and leverage was firmly against him. "The Dread Wolf would fling your scraps into the rubbish heap. I am more charitably disposed, little thing. Squeak out your message and if it is pleasing to the ear, I will release you."

He closed his eyes and silently prayed that the creature would like what she heard. Servants of the Nava'ai heads of government were not well liked, even less so those servants who were known to harbor anti-L'i'dol sentiments. His own affiliations were such. "Ter Karagozian would like a meeting to discuss the end of the mediation talks. He extends his sincerest apologies that the conversation was not amicable enough to ensure cooperation. That is all, Most Revered."

"Sincerest apologies," she repeated back at him with a growl against his ear. He flinched, but she released his arm. For a moment, Simon really did think he would go free. It was only the last second when he felt the press of a silver point beneath his jaw as the blade was driven up into his skull when he realized his error. It was a bloody death, but a swift one.

Alaunirra stepped back and dropped the still-twitching body. She licked the blood off her lips and ignored the spatters across her tattooed face and torso. The pool of blood grew and grew on the stone floor, but another would clean it up along with the body in due time. Her violet eyes were thoughtful as they looked out one of the archways into a garden left to run wild. Long grass swayed in the wind between thorned trees and flowering brambles. It was an inhospitable beauty, as much to be respected for its danger as its delicate blossoms. "So they want to kiss up to us now that it seems it will be a war. Their cravenness is their constancy." She touched her chin at the center of the red and black stripe that bisected it into a left and a right half.

"You could have let him live," one of the others pointed out, an older man with geometrically patterned blue tattoos that almost looked like painted woad. He was the only one who didn't look amused.

"His continued existence insulted me," she said, stalking towards the double doors. "I will inform the Quarval-sharess that the passionless pleading has begun."

"Good luck," a female voice called after her as she slipped through them.

The home of the yochlol was a villa in the Roman style built here near the heart of the Holy City, five minutes' walk from the Fane itself and stood replete with wild gardens and a bubbling spring. Guardians and leaders in the absence of a Quarva-sharess or Quarval-sharuk, the yochlol were seven of the yath'abban elevated to a greater status and marked by their silver and green tattoos. This was also the place that the Quarval-sharess took her mundane rest beyond the walls of the Fane itself. It was well known that the Dread Wolf had returned to the city from Karsoluthiyl weary and eager to wash all traces of the world beyond from her skin. Alaunirra was one of the few that could disturb the woman in her ablutions, as close as a daughter to the mercurial Dread Wolf. She was wolf-kin herself and had followed Lledrith A'Daragon from a young age.

She stepped into the steam-filled baths and inhaled the smell of spiced soaps. It was a welcome change from the dryness of the early spring air. Dyvynasshar was still semi-arid despite its glaciated surrounding mountains. "Dark Mother, I have a message from the insects of the rotting carcass that is Armavir," Alaunirra said as she approached. She heard the water splash as someone rose from the bath and grabbed a towel.

The dripping wet figure of Lledrith A'Daragon in a towel was still imposing. She was the same height as Alaunirra but seemed immeasurably taller. Perhaps it was because the yathallar was in the presence of that which was considered divine. The bold black lines of her tattoos were readily visible, but the subtler lines of gold took closer inspection to observe against her tanned skin. The Dread Wolf reclined at the edge of the pool, muscles flexing as she propped her head up with her hand. "Sit and speak," she said in a voice like honey.

Alaunirra sat down at the opposite side of the pool and let her legs dangle in the warm water. It was soothing, though curls of orange dispersed from her feet where she had blood dripped across bare skin. "The two-faced one would like a meeting to draw us back into the talks. He spoke of sincerity. Such things cannot bode well."

"Fascinating," Lledrith said. She closed her eyes thoughtfully. "And the faern?"

"I still have no proof beyond doubt, Arzhani," Alauirra admitted. "The Unkndirnei have not been...keen...to share information on our missing and dead. They insist this is a national security matter."

"It is of no consequence," the Dread Wolf said with the placidity of a tired predator. "An animal cannot conceal its nature for long, even an insect. Camouflage is only a method of attack or survival. They will strike or they will flee, and then we will have everything we need. Then a fire will come down upon Armavir such as it has never known. We will turn sand to polished glass and stone to charred rubble. There will be nothing left."

Alaunirra smiled. She had her own reasons to hate that city and the people within it. Any mention of vengeance was both gratifying and soothing. It treated the poison that coursed in her veins every time she had to think of Tadevos Ohanyan and his city. Still, someone had to be the voice of reason even if it was a fundamentally unreasonable yathallar. "The qu'ilinasaren and their C'rintrin will not be welcoming of such a change. They have become accustomed to peace and its bland fruits."

"They have a duty as the faithful. They will answer the call," Lledrith said. A broad, blissful smile spread languidly across her features. "What a day that will be."




Quellarin Nasadra
Karsoluthiyl, Nalaya


Sabrae sighed contently, her head tipped back as she stretched out in the sun like some kind of cat. Her feet were propped up on her assistant's lap as she listened to the gentle susurrus of soft voices speaking in the fluid language of her people and the scents of blooming roses drifted in through the open archways. A brilliant red butterfly fluttered in and settled on the head of the couch near her. She seemed to be dozing more than listening to business as Nalfein took down his notes, though nothing could be further from the truth. A book rested open, but face down on her stomach. She was not the oldest woman in the room, but she had enough senority to be able to just listen quietly without appearing to attend. Adinirahc was speaking, which was a particularly obnoxious sound on the best of days that she invariably found grating, but today it didn't bother her. They were all on the same side for the first time in...years. The Norveni invasion had faded into the past and taken with it the spirit of cooperation. But now they were staring down a future war. It should have wound her muscles as tight as those of the other C'rintrin here assembled. However, she had long ago made her peace with the Quarval-sharess's will.

"You operate under the mistaken impression that Lledrith A'Daragon is a creature that can be reasoned with," she said from where she lay with her sapphire eyes closed and her blonde hair, shot through with silver, loose on the cushions. She was in her mid-forties now but still maintained a certain reserved beauty. "All of us could condemn what she is doing, but what do such words have in the face of a creature with the unswerving passions of the divine? There is cold, hard logic and there is the fury that is faith. I know which I prefer, but I also know which will win out in the hearts of the multitude."

"And is that your official position, Ilharess?" Adinirahc said shortly, his fists clenched tightly and were pressed against his thighs. The Ilharn Masq'il'yr was not a happy man. His powerful shoulders were strung as tightly as piano wire.

"Are we standing in the chambers?" she said idly, turning her head and opening her eyes to examine the butterfly. "Lesaonar and I will make our official positions known tomorrow, and not a moment before." She heard him growl in displeasure and a couple of the others shifted, but there was no argument. "In the meantime, we should accept that Armavir will antagonize the Dread Wolf until she cannot remain inactive. The question is what the Tigress will do."

"Or what she won't do," Lesaonar said, stroking his neatly trimmed, steel-colored beard. He was a man of average height for a Mak'ur, and neither fat nor thin. Age had taken some of his muscle mass, but he was still a powerful man. His oxford's sleeves were rolled up to show the many tiny scars up and down his tanned arms, each one the mark of his own blood shed in thanks for a victory. His swirling grey tattoos were readily visible on exposed skin. "We can expect her not to bomb Dyvynasshar or Armavir, but anything that moves in border territory between the Homeland and the Highlands can expect to take fire."

"If T'avish is pushed, nowhere is safe. This is a shove," the Ilharess Dalael said. She was a curvy woman with dark, hawkish eyes that spoke of her own hints of Nava'ai ancestry. "The Quarval-sharess will strike without hesitation at the heart of the enemy. Armavir will be a battleground. There will be no alternative for the Avangardn but to go in with military force. What we need to be prepared for is what the Nava'ai will say. If they garner foreign aid...if they insist they are the force for democracy in Nalaya...if they say this is an excuse for the Tigress to consolidate power and eliminate political rivals in one of her famous bloodbaths...what will we do?"

All of the fourteen of them, the proud leaders of the seven great qu'ilinasar, fell silent in contemplation. Finally, after several minutes of considering her position carefully, Sabrae spoke. "We can muddy the waters by claiming they intend to wipe out our faith and destroy our holy sites. That would not be a lie. Furthermore, we can appeal to the rest of Nalaya. If the Vatani can be persuaded, which shouldn't be difficult when Qasim is released, we have a substantial power base. The Arusai and Imanalov' will follow the Protector."

"Drawing ethnic lines is dangerous. We need the Yath to stress that the Nava'ai ku'nal are under assault as well," Adinirahc warned. "We may have to arrange some incidents to get them to do so. They have tunnel vision at the moment and do not concern themselves with appearances."

"I think between all of us we can make that happen. Sabrae I know has considerable influence in the border regions," Lesaonar said calmly. "Though if the Quarval-sharess were to find out, heads would roll."

"Heads will roll anyway if those tribal animals make it to Karsoluthiyl. They would like us destroyed just as much as L'i'dol," the Ilharess Dalael commented. "Let us merely agree that now is a time for secrecy and pledge never to let her find out. We do not need a purge of the unworthy—we all have too may hidden flaws to survive such close examination."

There was a murmur of agreement and Sabrae rubbed her eyes. "If we cause incidents, it may kick off a war early. This must be done with the utmost care. We will have to wait until it is inevitable," she said. Then she swung her legs to the side and sat up. "I think we have a plan. Shall we adjourn and reconvene tomorrow in a more official fashion?"

The general agreement through the room signalled the end of the conversation. Sabrae waited until everyone but Lesaonar, including Nalfein, had left before she stood up. "This is extremely tiresome. If I could kill the Nava'ai leadership myself, I would do it in a heartbeat," Lesaonar said, though he was watching her with interest as she sauntered over and took a seat in his lap. Their little liaisons were not appropriate considering their positions—such things were too dangerously close to consolidation of power between a couple—but the appeal remained in the physical realms. He had his wife, but there was something intoxicating about having something as powerful and ultimately unconquerable as Sabrae T'sarran under his control even for a little while. "You know, some of them are probably still in earshot."

"Do you really care?" she countered, casually starting to unbutton his shirt. "Perhaps you are fine, but I need an outlet for frustration at the moment." A smile turned up the corners of her mouth when she felt his hand slide up beneath her skirt. He could do the most delightful things when he was in the right mood. She didn't love him, but she appreciated him. "Good boy." She knew it would irritate him, which was the point. She knew how to needle him into doing what she really wanted.

Just as she'd hoped, he scowled and the touch on the inside of her thigh became an almost bruising grip of her leg. "Remember what you're baiting, Sabrae," he growled in her ear.

Her smile was cat-like and smug. "I know exactly what I'm doing, ussta mrannd'ssiniss."

Even irritated, he knew that was most certainly true. The coming conflict, the qu'ilinasar, even this—her part was all planned and carefully executed. It was one of the things he admired about her. He moved her collar to the side and bit down less than gently at the junction of her neck and shoulder, earning a sharp intake of breath and a moan.

They were both going to enjoy this.
Last edited by Nalaya on Mon Mar 23, 2015 7:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Do you know, my son, with what little understanding the world is ruled?
- Pope Julius III

User avatar
Ghant
Minister
 
Posts: 2410
Founded: Feb 11, 2013
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Ghant » Fri Mar 27, 2015 2:24 pm

“Foreign Affairs”
Betharan Palace
Fineberg, New Edom
The time around Perrin’s funeral


Gaudentia Ovida, recent mistress of the Emperor of Ghant, Nathan IV, and mother of his unborn child, was busy unpacking from her journey in her room at Betharan Palace, after her not-so-VIP appearance during the viewing, where she left Perrin only a single ring, made of iron, a family heirloom, struck in honor of the Edict of Manumission in 2011, which had the following inscription:

Pax est nisi mors. Libertas est in nostra uoluntate.

Peace is found only in death. Freedom is found in our will.

Meanwhile, Nathan returned to his room and sent Gaudentia a text. Let’s meet up in your room...I got something for you.

Sure, lover. By the way, I think that I will have to renounce my Roman citizenship. I can’t have divided loyalties anymore.

With that, Nathan tapped his fingers on his chin as he went to Gaudentia’s room, sure to cast eyes this way and that to see if he was being watched.

Gaudentia waited for a knock for several more minutes before texting him again.

Where are you? I am eager for this. Sorry, it’s the hormones. They’re out of control.

With that, the Emperor knocked on the door.

Gaudentia opened it in a rush, seizing Nathan and practically dragging him inside for a steamy kiss.

“Your Majesty, how may I serve you?” she smiled and even winked now.

Nathan returned the kiss with tongue and a hand on her behind as he shut the door behind him. “I have a boon for you.”

“Daniel Boone? Just teasing, of course,” Gaudentia laughed, “Maybe Pat Boone. He’s not bad looking for an old man.”

She was clearly still teasing Nathan, but she made up for it by repeated kisses and moving her bottom against his hand.

“On one knee with you,” Nathan told her.

“Oh, which knee should I get on?” Gaudentia smiled at him.

“That’s up to you...whichever one seems right to you I suppose,” Nathan said, feeling antsy.

Gaudentia got on her right knee and knelt to Nathan, wondering what he had in mind, kissing his hand as well.

“Gaudentia Ovida. By Imperial Decree, not only do I bestow upon you Ghantish citizenship, but also I would name your lord. Do you accept these boons?” Nathan asked.

“As Your Majesty commands it, so do I accept it from your hand, my lord,” Gaudentia accepted, adding, “and having been released from my vows to Valerian Augustus, I do hereby swear the same to you, fealty and loyalty in all things, to you first of all.”

“Hmm...yes about that,” Nathan said as he brought her to her feet. “I want to meet with Valerian...can you arrange that as my Roman Cultural Attache?”

“No doubt of it. He also wishes to meet with your wife, as do I. Should those meetings be done together or separately?” Gaudentia asked him.

“...Better do them together...I fear things not being handled correctly with that...tis very much a thornbush,” Nathan sighed.

“Sophia’s jealousy, for instance? You’ve been married for how long now, a year? Many assumptions of newlyweds are forced to change with time, of course. Surely, she can come to understand that I have a vital role in these things. Perhaps she can finally bed that Edomite fellow that moons over her and make him a happy man to call it even,” Gaudentia revealed just how worldly and Roman she really was.

Nathan turned a shade of red. “She would never betray me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

“As you wish. Sorry, it’s just that you and I have something that I prize and I didn’t want her to try to ruin it,” Gaudentia explained, “it’s not unknown among Romans for both husband and wife to discreetly look the other way.”

“We will figure it out. Let’s just get this meeting going, shall we?” Nathan asked her.

“Of course. The Emperor….I hope that he doesn’t hold it against me too much that I fell for you when, well, it was originally just work, you know. My apologies for that, except that my motives were patriotic, you see. Then again, I couldn’t help but see your promise and wish to see you live up to it,” Gaudentia explained.

“I see...well, no harm no foul. Let’s go.” Nathan got up and left the room, and began to look around Betharan for some Romans.

The Romans that he first met included Justus Florianus, who was looking for Sophia, in fact, and was somewhat taken aback to actually see Nathan leave Gaudentia, who looked very worried all of the sudden...as if afraid of something.

“You there, Roman. I would like to request an audience with the Emperor...Gaudentia Ovida will be accompanying me.” Nathan told him.

“Roman, eh? I happen to be the Roman Legate to New Edom, Justus Florianus, in fact, and I was seeking an audience with your wife, in fact,” Florianus raised an eyebrow.

“Well, I will cut you a deal. Let’s meet with Valerian, and I summon Sophia to attend as well. How does that sound?” Nathan asked.

“With your….mistress present? Interesting, if unusual,” Florianus coughed.

Nathan seemed unamused. “Would you prefer to speak to the Empress alone?”

“No, of course not. That would in this context raise doubts as to things that are best not left in doubt,” he stammered abruptly.

“So you want to speak to me and the Empress then, without Valerian?” Nathan wondered, laughing a bit.

“No, that would be….conceivably misconstrued as well. I simply wondered if it was customary for Ghantish men and their wives to confer with their mistresses, since Ghantish women are more hot-blooded, or so I have heard,” Justus explained.

“Well, Gaudentia wants to meet Sophia, so I figured why not make it so? They are both grown women that can take care of themselves.” Nathan pointed out.

“So be it, though in my experience, rivals for affection are trouble, whether men or women. Jealousy is the worst joke that ever came from Man’s fall in Eden. Satan’s biggest trick on us of all,” Justus observed.

“I agree about jealousy, though I’m not sure where it originated, but I do want to meet the Empress. We love the same man. Maybe it’s that I’m a proper pragmatic Roman, but I don’t see why that has to mean that we can’t….understand each other,” Gaudentia explained.

“See why I am a bachelor? So much simpler that way,” Justus laughed as they talked, “but, anyway, which way first, the Augustus or the Empress?”

“Valerian first...I will summon the Empress after we all go to him first,” Nathan insisted as he gave Gaudentia a squeeze on the behind.

“As you wish, Imperial Majesty,” Justus agreed, privately hoping that he could get some free time soon...he had more than earned it, and those Cacertian women….then again, the Edomite women were very nice as well, if a bit more old-fashioned than their nudity would suggest.

Gaudentia giggled in response to the squeeze, whispering to Nathan, “It’s a boy.”

Nathan grinned at that. “A boy...good. Third in line to the throne, then. More distance between Albert and the throne...that’s good for everyone. Do you know what you want to name him?” Nathan asked as they followed Justus.

“Was thinking of Robert or perhaps Victor. What are your thoughts?” Gaudentia asked as they approached Valerian’s guards.

“Fabian...Victor as the middle name.” Nathan said as he caressed her arm.

“Who approaches the Sacred Presence of the Divine Augustus?” the first guard demanded to know.

“The Emperor of Ghant and Gaudentia Ovida.” Nathan proclaimed.

“Excuse me,” the guard, one of the vigiles, picked up his radio and said, “Lord, we have been approached by one who claims to be Emperor Nathan IV of Ghant and his mistress, Gaudentia Ovida, on his arm.”

“Ask him what the Ghantish word for concubine is,” Valerian insisted.

“The Emperor demands to know what is the Ghantish word for concubine,” the guard asked Nathan.

“Ohaide.” Nathan responded dryly. “Anything else he wants to know to prove my identity?”

“Let me check, Your Majesty,” the second guard said, radioing the Emperor Valerian again.

“Ask him which sister of mine will marry one of his uncles,” Valerian posed the trick question, knowing that he had but one sister, Valeria, the former nun.

“Well, Valerian has only one sister, Valeria, who was previously a nun in Mount Angel and is now Legate to Gaemar, much to the chagrin of King Gadiel, who rather enjoyed the company and sage counsel of his brother-in-law Servius Ahenobarbus. In any case, my Uncle Mathis covets her hand.” Nathan answered.

“Let them in,” Valerian smiled, which the guards promptly did, opening the door for the Ghantish party.

Nathan entered with a bow and a smile. “Your Eminence, so glad to see you again,” he said as he found a seat to make himself comfortable.

“I see that you still have your charming ways about you, Nathan,” Valerian laughed as he sat back down.

“Naturally. I wouldn’t have been able to enchant your Legate so easily if I didn’t,” Nathan laughed.

“Ah, yes, about that, Gaudentia, I did not wish to sack you, but protocol and national security demand that there not even be a whiff of suspicions as to your loyalties, you know,” Valerian clarified.

“Yes, of course. Perception is reality. I understand. I would have done the same. We are Romans. We think differently, though now that you have released me, it has been good for me. Freedom to be undeniably loyal to Nathan here,” Gaudentia noted.

“I still think it might have been an overreaction,” Nathan suggested. “As Gaudentia’s loyalties to Rome have never been unclear to me. As Legate to Ghish, she could have done much for Rome. Alas, I do not doubt the ability of one Claudius Proculus. In light of that, there are a few things I wished to discuss, and I believe Gaudentia did as well.”

“Continue,” Valerian ignored the jab, calmly drinking a sherry.

“I assume that you were aware that I was coming. Hence, I wanted to see if you brought Aelia’s urn, since you said you would make sure we got it. I would see that my mother gets it.” Nathan told him as he leaned back in his chair.

“Oh, yes, that. Generally, Roman Emperors aren’t known for carrying their ex-wives’ urns, you know,” Valerian grimaced as he held up a surprisingly pretty urn, given how she had been in life.

“Thank you, Valerian.” Nathan said with a smile. He reached out to take the urn, and then he regaled it. “I would have liked to known you, but I was just a kid...the candle burned out long before...the legend ever did.” Then he looked at Valerian. “Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.”

Valerian excused himself to vomit for a moment, and then returned, being unsettled by such a scene. Then he wiped away the tears at the corners that fought to get into his eyes….Emperors do not cry, he recalled. Roman Emperors at least. It was undignified to put it mildly.

“I can tell that it remains a sensitive subject, but for the sake of my own curiosity, and my penchant for conspiracy theory, I cannot help but ask...and it will be the only time I shall. Did you...fake her execution? Is she alive somewhere, living in secret?” Nathan asked. “I ask for my Uncle’s sake.”

“No. She committed high treason and she had to die, so die she did. The law is very clear about that. The man can forgive, the Emperor may not,” Valerian’s eyes flashed with rage at even the suggestion of such a thing.

Nathan shrugged. “In Ghant, it is said that the man may not forgive, but the Emperor must. In any case, thank you...this will mean a great deal to my Uncle. Speaking of which...I have another Uncle, on the other side, that is here. Uncle Mathias...and he does in fact covet Valeria. I thought maybe you would appreciate the opportunity to vet him.Tsarevich Mikhail is here as well, no doubt to seek options for a bride.”

“Just so that Christopher knows….I took extra care that she be treated well in jail and permitted visits. Even enabled her a confessor, a last meal, etc. I believe that she had Beef Wellington with diced potatoes, onions, and carrots, even a couple of glasses of a fine Garzan wine. Then it was the guillotine rather than the noose, though for treason of that scale, even nobles can be subjected to it in theory. Thirty seconds of pain at the most,” Valerian recalled, before continuing, “As for Valeria, she is on her way, in fact, and very keen to wed, now that she is free of her obsession with Prince Elijah.“

“She is coming here?” Nathan asked, surprised.

“No, to Ghant, of course, as the Legate to Gaemar, you know, in place of Servius Ahenobarbus,” Valerian said coolly, lighting up a cigarette, a habit that he had quit, but had come roaring back whenever certain topics were broached, such as Aelia. No more touchy subject than that.

‘Forgive me, Augustus, but can you please put that out?” Gaudentia asked him, “I am with child.”

“Oh, then,” Valerian indeed put his cigarette out and dropped it in the ashtray.

“And I have severe asthma,” Nathan laughed. “Would you like to meet Uncle Mathias yourself, or Mikhail?”

“I met him, both in fact. Incidentally, warn your uncle that Lucia is a bit….free with some things….a bit keen on draining every drop of strength from a man’s body before she is done,” Valerian chuckled at that memory.

“...I think Uncle Christopher already knows that well enough. He told me that I might as well call her Aunt Bow Legged,” Nathan laughed. “Zurias have quite the appetite...I am not exception.”

“Well, I do not mean to diminish the evil that is rape, but I am not positive that it really was one, you know. More a case of lese majeste, to presume upon the Sacred Presence without permission, for which she should have known better, as should Castina. My first recollection of waking up was that I really was….drained. Exhausted. She used me up for all that I was worth,” Valerian remembered, and then turned back to the subject that he had deliberately sidetracked, “Valeria will marry Mathias, rest assured. Now what was this about Claudius Proculus?”

“Yes...I am noticing a trend with Roman women,” Nathan shot a teasing glance towards Gaudentia. “I keep hearing about Claudius Proculus and my cousin Rosalina. Granted, Rosalina isn’t really doing much to convey interest...more so that my Great-Uncle Edward favors the match. he is 42 and she is 39, both have had their hearts broken, he needs a son and she might be able to give him one, so on and so forth.”

“Rosalina, sad tale indeed. Such it is about marriages of state versus love matches. I married for love with Aelia and I married for the public welfare with Serena. Yet I am happier with my marriage of convenience than I ever was with my love match, but then I didn’t have any high hopes to dash. Just realistic ones,” Valerian noted.

“Yes, indeed. Which reminds me...you wanted to speak to Sophia? Should I summon her?” Nathan asked.

“Sure, if you wish,” Valerian agreed, “incidentally, Titus seems to have taken to Livia well and she to him, despite that being a marriage of state. Still, I know that it must crush him to have lost Ava at times.”

“It is what it is,” Nathan shrugged as he sent his wife a text. A few minutes later, Sophia ventured towards Valerian’s room with Arietta, Alexia and Alexandra, babies in arms.

“Ah, the famous and beautiful Empress of Ghant herself in person. I do recall that we met once or twice, though not too often. First time while I was Legate to Ghish, if I recollect,” Valerian smiled in appreciation.

“You are very kind to say so, Valerian,” Sophia said with a curtsy. “A few times. Last at the Grand Ball here in Fineberg, and a few times prior still. No doubt you remember the Ball in Gaemarlen?”

“Yes….unfortunately. I wasn’t overly happy at the time. Aelia had breached our understanding, that all of our affairs must be discreet. I was furious, in fact,” Valerian grimaced now at the memory, grinding his teeth.

“Yes...I do recall. My mother was very displeased. In any case, I want you to meet the babies,” Sophia said with a smile. “Sara, John and Nathan...the Crown Prince.” Arietta held out the Crown Prince, who wiggled in her hands like a fish out of water. “Would you like to hold any of them?”

“Careful with the heir,” Nathan teased. “He is a feisty little devil.”

Valerian laughed and picked up Nate, looking at him and saying, “Well, he needs to be, especially if his bride has a Tartarian mother.”

The Crown Prince made a gurgling sound as he tried to grab Valerian’s nose. “A real ladykiller to that one is,” Sophia chuckled. “You might have to keep an eye on him...he could be trouble,” she teased.

“That runs in the Aelian side, for sure. The Ahenobarbi are more likely to give him a temper. What will House Gentry and House Dakmaran produce?” Valerian remarked.

“A man of great passion with charisma, yet vindictive with a temper,” Nathan laughed. “Makes me wonder even more about Marcia...and if a betrothal is in order.”

“Probably, but naturally I would consult both of you on that, as well as Serena. Speaking of matches, are you still interested in my sister for Prince Mathias?” he asked evenly.

“...Not as much as Uncle Mathias is interested,” Nathan laughed. “He says that as soon as Valeria is in Gaemarlen, he will be going there to meet her posthaste, under the guise of conducting diplomatic relations.”

“Ah, poor man. Valeria is a handful. I love my sister, but she can be quite….stern, if you catch my meaning. She was a nun, after all,” Valerian laughed.

“Does that mean that Mathias would be getting….nun of what he wants?” Gaudentia laughed suddenly.

“Probably, at least before marriage. If Fabia didn’t give it up before marriage to Prince William Holland, you get the idea. What a wronged man, that man…..Lavinia did him horribly wrong,” Justus spoke a bit painfully.

“You are clearly misinformed,” Arietta said pointedly. “William Holland sucks.”

“...Fabia is already missed in Gauekoizarra,” Sophia said. “My grandmother and my cousins were quite fond of her. Whoever replaces her will have their hands full...especially with Artizar.”

Alexandra raised an eyebrow. “...Is that Gaudentia Ovida here?”

“The very same. Until recently, Legate of the Empire to Draconis. I am ashamed of only some things that I did. I started out with political motives, but I grew to love the man in question,” Gaudentia kept it just vague enough for Sophia, in case she wasn’t ready yet.

“...What?” Sophia asked, the color melting from her face like the wax of a lit candle.

“...Gaudentia was merely regaling how much she has enjoyed working on policy with me in the north,” Nathan attempted to steer the conversation a certain way.

“Sorry, I meant no offense or harm. I am….terribly sorry for any pain that I caused you, Sophia,” Gaudentia broke out into tears herself, her stoic Roman dignity fading with her sense of guilt.

“You have not caused me any pain...how could you have if you have not wronged me?” Sophia shrugged, before turning to Valerian. “Perchance you can have the Legate seen too...she seems to be rather...distraught. Perhaps too much to be productive at the moment.”

“Oh, I am afraid that you and I have something to discuss, Sophia. I did wrong you, but at the time, I saw it as you wronging him, you see. It is a long story and I was originally motivated by the good of the Empire, though no one told me to do it. I see now that you aren’t what I thought that you were, not the kind of person that deserved such treatment at my hands,” Gaudentia then added, “even so, I deserved my dismissal, and I will wear that shame for the rest of my life.”

“Quite enough of that talk. We have business to discuss, friends,” Valerian observed, “or else it will only force me to rely more on Gallienus for counsel here, and I doubt that the Empress would enjoy that much.”

“I want this Gaudentia out of my sight. Now. I will speak to her alone as soon as we are done here. See her to my room,” Sophia demanded, her dark blue eyes burning. Meanwhile, the Crown Prince seemed amused...then he spit up whilst Valerian held him.

“As you wish, domina. I will not trouble you further,” Gaudentia spoke with an edge to her voice that combined empathy and some anger as she exited.

“Sorry about the baby, Valerian,” Sophia said, changing the subject after taking a deep breath. “He can be very unpredictable.” Meanwhile, Nathan was sweating, and sitting perfectly still and quiet.

“I can see that. Well, nothing for it. Faustinus, if you will,” the Emperor directed his valet to wipe off the spit as he handed the child back to Sophia, “look, I have no wish to meddle in your marital troubles, which clearly have the mark of relative newlyweds. Still, I would ask that we speak only of official business, if you do not mind.”

“That would be my preference...thank you,” Sophia said dryly, before smiling again as she took her son in arms. “Now...what is your position on Albert?”

“To be perfectly honest, the man is insane. I do not say that mildly, either, but I remember the way that he tried to curry favor with me when I was Legate and your husband’s uncle had offended me with Aelia. He offered to put the man in chains, at least as I understood it at the time, and haul him before me. Now, I wasn’t pleased with the young man, but I refused to have anything to do with shackles, chains, or the like. Nothing could have offended more than such an offer, which would imply that I approved of any form of bondage. Furthermore, his ties to the Imperium and his recent mysterious widowerhood, followed by the hasty marriage to his cousin Isabel….and now his actions in both Ghant and Vorindeum. The man is trouble, plain and simple. And he is wrong. Jocasta is the Heir, but not the Regent,” Valerian asserted proper legality.

“So...how do you feel about his fleet?” Nathan asked then.

“Best stay out of the Strait of Nalaya, lest it cause trouble for all of us,” Valerian commented dryly, “and if he expects Rome to save his bacon in the event of crossing Sevan and Draconeum, he has another thing coming. While I have issues with the Shrailleeni Empire, they were invited past by the Draconians and Nalayans, as well as the Adirans and Edomites. They have a legal right to be there. Vorindeum does not,” Valerian noted.

“It might make him reconsider if he was aware of your position,” Sophia pointed out. “Would you consider meeting with him to express your view?”

“Perhaps, but I would keep my guards around me,” Valerian chuckled a bit, “At any rate, Nathan, I understand and respect that you didn’t approve of Lalery and Lavinia, of course. It wasn’t about morals. He was your friend and you didn’t wish to betray him. On the other hand, that base….very helpful to your country, and Mara is your wife’s friend. Just thought that I should observe that a little mutual understanding could have saved both of you some grief. Just a tip. Sorry, enough meddling, especially when I said that I wouldn’t. I couldn’t help but speak my mind, since it has been nagging me that both of you had some right there.

“Back on topic, what is your take on the Macurean and Glorian messes?” Valerian resumed.

“The situation in Macureus is very unfortunate,” Sophia said. “And I fully support the Shrai position.”

“...It is what it is,” Nathan shrugged. “Might as well accept the reality of the situation there and deal with it as it comes. Besides, some good can come out of it...don’t you think?”

“Some truth to both positions again, but consider this...without some incentive to preserve the rule of law, what is to keep Macureus from descending into something on the order of Communism? Same deal with Gloria Regis, but from the opposite end of things. Dissidents on all sides in both places should have protections, you know. The Old Order was far from perfect, rather oppressive even compared to Shrailleen, in fact, but cold-blooded assassination is not the way to remedy national crises. I want assurances from the new leaders that this kind of thing will not be repeated. That no further treaties will be violated, as Arod was. Still, in the end, some form of it was coming. The people were oppressed and since they had no peaceful recourse, they were desperate enough to seek a violent solution, which played into Melin’s hands,” Valerian remarked thoughtfully.

“I have faith that the leaders of both will do their part to treat all their citizens fairly,” Sophia stated. “They would be foolish not to.”

“She is right,” Nathan agreed. “They need international credibility...which they wouldn’t get if they neglected their own.”

“Perhaps. I hope so. Still, that leaves us with the impasse in your own country, you know. You two…..you really need to work something out politically, whatever happens in your marriage. Oh, and I have met Mara and Jocasta both. They’re not monsters, either one of them. Just young women in way over their heads and doing the best they can. Jocasta just doesn’t have good advisers, that is, for the most part,” Valerian remarked, “or the law on her side, for that matter.”

“That will be taken care of when the opportunity is ripe for it,” Sophia reassured Valerian, while Nathan yawned.

“Well...there is Michael,” the Emperor of Ghant said.

“Yes, that was unfortunate. Poorly matched, those two. I always thought that he would have been happier with another Ghantar, not a foreign bride,” Valerian nodded.

“I have faith that it will work out in its own time,” Sophia stated, somewhat irritated. “Was there anything else that you could think of to discuss while we are here?:

“The End Times’ Church, to be honest. We can work with them in the short run, but sooner or later, we will have to break them. All of the allies of New Edom, that is. Those who love our poor distressed Griffin, warts and all, and wish to see her become the strong partner again that she was under Perrin,” Valerian sighed, “and….your father, my lady. Much as I hate to say it. I fear that when your husband left, rumors that you had forcibly expelled him at your father’s behest smacked heavily of a palace coup and undermined the respectability of your government, you understand.”

“...I know how it looked,” Sophia told him. “And yes, the ETC will have to be addressed at some point.”

“Uncle Albert wants to break the ETC...but people won’t let him,” Nathan laughed.

“Yes, well, I applaud that goal, but not his others, or his methods,” Valerian coughed, “Ever ask yourselves why Decentius backed the Free Congress over the Monarchists, despite the obvious contradictions?”

Sophia and Nathan both shook their heads, waiting for his explanation.

“Law. The rule of law. The necessity of proper legitimacy according to correct protocol and official oaths. An agreement had been made. The Monarchists not only violated it, but they acted in such a heinously violent manner that he could not condone it,” Valerian explained, “that is where I stand as well. I will do business with any state with whom I can, but I will not treat as lawful that which is not. You two are the sovereigns of Ghant. No offense, but it is high time that you acted like it….as co-rulers under the constitution and laws of your country. Regere Coniugum isn’t ever going to work in Rome, but it can work in Ghant if you work together as a team. A united front...and bring those disloyal vassals to heel. Just my advice from a friend and colleague to two fellow sovereigns. Regardless of the state of your marriage, you have a duty to your country first, to rule together for its welfare.”

“...That will be addressed accordingly,” Sophia asserted, as Nathan nodded along. “Much of what we can hope to accomplish in Ghant can be resolved here.”

“How so?” Valerian inquired.

“I wonder the same thing,” Justus noted, glaring at Arietta.

Arietta returned the glare with a scowl, while Alexia seemed to be thinking about something else, and Alexandra returned a puzzled look at Justus. Sophia responded to Valerian in any event. “The nobles think that they can take advantage of me in a position of vulnerability...with the help of Nathan, I think that they can be brought to heel, as you said.”

“Are you two on the same page, then?” Justus frowned.

“Yes, that is the key question,” Valerian agreed, “are you?”

“...We have not had much time to talk about it,” Sophia told them. “I would certainly like to think so.”

“Yeah...I am still trying to catch up on everything and process the latest events,” Nathan shrugged.

“So, that would mean that you still have much to discuss. Do you need a room in which to talk it over?” Valerian offered.

“Well, I was going to play with my babies,” Nathan smiled as he held Sara, who seemed very happy. “They are very cute.”

“...And I have some other business to tend to,” Sophia said.

Arietta giggled and chimed in. “And I...well, I could use a room.”

“Yes, but I doubt that your….fiance is here, Your Highness,” Justus noted, as he kissed the Emperor’s purple robe and left the room.

“All salient points. Well, it has been a pleasure...mostly,” Valerian smiled as he waited for them to leave his suite.

He did not need to add that he wondered if Justus was really as hostile to Arietta as he thought, and if so, why….or that things were so tense between Emperor and Empress. It seemed that no one would get along after all…..

“What fiancee? I am not even engaged yet,” Arietta laughed. “I just want a private place to roll a blunt.” Meanwhile, Nathan and Sophia thanked Valerian for seeing them.

“Great, the Emperor’s sister is a pothead who loves to blame jilted husbands for their wives’ adultery,” Justus muttered to himself, just loud enough, “whereas the sister of the Augustus is a former nun. What a pair of aunts the triplets and Princess Marcia will have.”
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Founded: Feb 11, 2013
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Ghant » Fri Mar 27, 2015 2:44 pm

“Foreign Affairs” (II)
Betharan Palace
Fineberg, New Edom
The time around Perrin’s funeral


As the Ghantish royals began to disperse, Sophia sought out Gaudentia. “Legate,” she called out. “Legate Ovida.”

“Legate no longer, sad to say. Sacked by the Augustus, I fear. Still, it is more of a pleasure than I once thought it would be to meet Your Majesty,” Gaudentia curtsied, “I fear that my previous opinion of you did you a disservice. I saw only the Emperor’s side of things, and by that, I do not mean the Augustus.”

“What were you going on about in there? You know I have been hearing all these rumors...that I don’t believe,” Sophia told her.

“What sort of rumors, pray tell, Your Majesty?” Gaudentia asked her, keeping it coy.

“That you and my husband are intimate.” Sophia responded, dryly.

“And I have heard rumors that you and Mara or you and Anelyn are lovers, you know, or all three of you. I have even heard rumors of you and the Mother Empress together. There were false rumors that Prince William Holland of Shalum is impotent or a homosexual. The trouble is that some rumors are true and some are not. Yet this one is…..I am the Emperor’s…..Ohaide,” Gaudentia confessed.

“Horseshit,” Sophia said, suddenly breaking from her usually proper form. “Lies. What proof is there besides?”

“The proof is in my belly,” Gaudentia answered calmly, “though to be fair, I started out doing this for Rome. And frankly, I thought him a wronged husband at first, too. Now, only somewhat wronged, but still a better man than he has been. He just needs to live up to his potential.”

Sophia looked around the room they were in, red faced, before feeling Gaudentia’s belly. “...You do seem to be with child…”

“I am with child. The half-brother or sister of the royal triplets, as it happens. I regret the pain that it has caused you, but to be fair, I completely believed him wrongfully removed from power and his own palace, his own capital and his marriage bed, so I took what you no longer seemed to desire.”

“...And what do you believe now?” Sophia asked.

“That it is more complicated….that you were pushed into it by your father, unless I am mistaken. And that Nathan did make some blunders, though I do believe that you regret it as does he. Though his pride will not permit him to admit as much and I do not know how or if you can restore your marriage to happiness. Nor will your pride, for that matter. And you both have different attitudes about certain policies. Not sure how you can bridge that, either.

“I was not brought up on tales of chivalry, notions of husbandly fidelity to wives, or any other such ideas. I was brought up Roman and that is a very different attitude to marriage and the roles of husband and wife. I now see that what you did pained you, but you were forced somewhat into it by your father and you were used to getting your way with Nathan, something that was a shocking notion to any Roman of high birth, but apparently quite normal here in Ghant, at least for some marriages,” Gaudentia explained.

“...How did it happen? When, where?” Sophia pressed her.

“At a ball in Arragard, as I recall, on the Emperor’s northern progress. He met the King and others….and he met an Edomite officer, Captain Rosa Sharon, too. Yet it was I who sought him out and I must admit that I was the aggressor there, for I had a plan to use my wiles for the Empire, even though I was under no orders to do so. It wasn’t any superior of mine’s idea, I can tell you that, and the proof of this is that I was dismissed from public service for my actions,” Gaudentia admitted painfully.

Sophia’s face turned to stone, and her eyes shot daggers. In a quick motion, a hand reached out and smacked Gaudentia across the face.

“Your Majesty, I will not strike you back for that. I did wrong you, though that was not my intention. Just know this…..none of it would have happened if you had loved your husband more than you loved your father,” Gaudentia said, as she turned and walked away.

The Empress didn’t like that at all. As Gaudentia turned to try to walk away, Sophia went after her and grabbed her by the hair. “Where do you think you are going?”

“Away from a fight before it starts, Imperial Majesty, or do you honestly think that a pregnant woman is going to just stand there and willingly receive blows?” Gaudentia glared at her now, “violence is no answer here. We can be civilized.”

“...Take off your clothes,” Sophia commanded.

“Why should I? Your husband commands me. You do not,” Gaudentia answered….”I will not put myself and my unborn child in jeopardy….and we are not Edomites here.”

“If you ever want to see him again, you will,” Sophia pointed out.

“Swear not to harm me and my child?” Gaudentia demanded, “I am a Roman woman of the senatorial class.”

“I promise,” Sophia said with a nod.

“Very well, then,” Gaudentia then undressed rapidly, dropping her dress and her undergarments with the ease of any mistress.

“Hmm...I see…” Sophia said softly as she examined Gaudentia’s body with her eyes...and then her hands.

“What are you doing, Your Majesty?” Gaudentia grew nervous.

“...Seeing what all the fuss is about,” the Empress responded, as she kissed Gaudentia on the mouth.

“Your Majesty, are you trying to seduce me?” Gaudentia said, but she promptly kissed her back...surprising even herself...the Empress truly was a beauty.

“We share everything, Nathan and I,” Sophia grinned as slipped out of her dress and pressed herself against Gaudentia, kissing her again more fervently.

“Is this how I will atone for wronging you?” Gaudentia asked, not sure how permanent this situation was.

“Possibly,” Sophia teased as she pushed Gaudentia on the bed.

The Empress proceeded to please her the way she enjoyed being pleased.

“Your Majesty….I have never been with a woman before,” Gaudentia shuddered.

“I have not been in some time...it is different, but isn’t all that bad,” Sophia said with a smile as she continued to go down.

Gaudentia now shivered, still very much in shock that her lover’s wife would do this, but perhaps Sophia had a good dose of pragmatism after all, despite not being Roman. It made sense, to turn her husband’s lover into hers as well….but what would this mean for Nathan and her?

“So, what does this mean for the future?” Gaudentia wasn’t too sure….only that she wanted more of this….whatever Nathan’s complaints about Sophia, it was clearly not a lack of sensuality or desire.

“That depends on the here and now,” Sopha told her as she went along...even rubbing Gaudentia’s belly.

Gaudentia couldn’t fight back the moans that escaped her at the sudden touch of the Empress to her sensitive flesh. She bucked and arched her body in response to Sophia’s caress. She felt such intensity and only had felt that once before….with Nathan, of course. She squirmed and shivered as she yielded entirely to the pleasure…..why, why would Sophia want to do this….why did the once jealous Empress succumb to the passion of lust instead?

“You see? Just relax. I am a woman too...I know what you need,” Sophia said as she intensified.

“Oh….God! Oh, damn! This is…..amazing!” Gaudentia reacted with surprise.

“That’s not all, though,” Sophia smirked as she went down on the other hole.

Gaudentia lost any semblance of dignity, self-restraint, icy arrogance, and cold Roman propriety now….it was all gone, experiencing things that she had never expected from a woman that she was sure must have hated her at least for a time. It was so much, so unexpected….so enticing….so intoxicating….would she ever be the same again, having done this…..

“That’s it...like that. You would be amazed what is possible with a tongue.” Sophia giggled as she continued.

“Well, thank you, Your Majesty,” Gaudentia said as she kissed Sophia on the lips, even slipping her a bit of tongue.

The Empress returned the kiss and gave her more tongue back as she jammed her fingers into the other woman’s nether regions.

“Are we….lovers now?” Gaudentia asked her as she moaned.

“...What do you think?” Sophia asked as she continued to kiss her and use her hands.

“And so, you, me...and Nathan?” Gaudentia asked.

“You know...it’s funny you should ask,” Sophia teased her. When the knock came and Nathan announced himself, Sophia said, “come in.”

When Nathan opened the door and closed it behind him without looking, he took a few steps forward...yet when he saw what was taking place, his jaw hit the floor. “...Wasn’t expecting to walk into this,” he said as he very quickly cast off his clothes.

“Is this….acceptable to both of you? It is to me, but then I am Roman. We tend to love simple solutions to messy situations,” Gaudentia smiled.

Nathan shrugged. “Sharing is caring,” he said as he jumped in the bed. Sophia was upon him like some savage beast, starved of nourishment. She wasted no time, pushing him down onto the bed and straddling him with an audible moan. “It has been too long...Gaudentia...feel free to sit on his face.”

“Well, then….I hope that you don’t mind that your wife has tasted your supper for you,” Gaudentia laughed as she accepted the offer and planted herself right there.

Nathan resumed the work that Sophia had began earlier, while she leaned forward to kiss Gaudentia passionately as she took her liberties.

“So, am I forgiven?” Gaudentia asked with a pout that was most unlike her typical Roman hauteur.

“Not yet you are not,” Sophia said despite shuddering. “I want to see that you mean it.” The Empress wasn’t playing around...she wanted it bad, and the way she moved conveyed that. It didn’t take that long before she got what she wanted, and when it was done, she rolled off. Then Nathan used his hands to push Gaudentia forward and down, hoping that she would clean up the mess.

Gaudentia smiled, knowing that she would get a taste of Nathan yet….not counting anything else that might happen. Leaning forward, she began first a gentle kiss toward the nub...and then down the mound toward the lower lips…..toward that sweet opening that had birthed the royal seed.

Sophia gasped, while Nathan managed to sneak out from underneath Gaudentia to kiss his wife with great passion and zeal. He did keep a hand free to play with his Ohaide though...he would be coming for her soon enough, that much he knew to be true.

“So, lovers, then?” Gaudentia rose and kissed both of them on the lips.

“...Not quite,” Sophia grinned. She knew what was coming...Gaudentia might not have. Once he was ready, the Emperor smirked as he quickly and without warning took Gaudentia from behind, hands gripping her abdomen while leaning forward to kiss his wife.

Gaudentia reacted as if struck by lightning, moving and squirming with delight...her body shaking from the sheer physical pleasure of being taken like that…...of being Nathan’s once more, having him take and use her again. Sure, he was like a youth at times, but such a fine one….deliciously young and at times even nasty in a way that excited her…..what her mother called a “bad boy.” There was just something about that which really set her nerve endings on fire…..she loved being his……

Sophia shifted around so that she could kiss Gaudentia and stroke her hair, while what was going on at the other end continued, with a fervent pace.

“Oh, dear God….oh, God!” Gaudentia moaned and screamed, her situation unmistakable….she had yet another climax from his and her touch….together.

He finished with a groan and then melted into the bed, a truly spent force.


“...I really wasn’t expecting any of that…” Nathan said with a chuckle.

“Expect the unexpected, my love,” Sophia laughed as she snuggled next to him.

“So, are we all lovers now?” Gaudentia asked, lying down on the other side of Nathan and kissing his neck while toying with Sophia’s lovely black hair.

“...That certainly seems the case,” Nathan shrugged. “Better than otherwise.”

“Yes, I would agree with that,” Sophia said with a smile. “Plenty to go around.”

“Just us three, though?” Gaudentia wondered, “I have no need for another man…..or woman.”

Sophia looked at Nathan. “Are there others I should be aware of?”

“...No...Gaudentia is the only one,” Nathan pointed out. “You see her...she is quite nice.”

“That she is,” Sophia agreed. “And Roman besides. That is quite useful.”

“Well, since I used him at first, it is only fair that I be used in turn. Anything that you need, trust me. Ghant is my home now, and my loyalty is to it….and you two are Ghant,” Gaudentia observed with kisses to each.

“How do you propose to be used?” Nathan asked her.

“Well, for one thing, I have a lot of connections in the Senate. And for another, I know full well who is who in the civil service, too...and on a more personal level, I am glad to be used for more intimate things,” Gaudentia laughed.

“Tell me about Claudius Proculus then,” Nathan stated.

“The late Emperor’s brother?” Gaudentia smiled, toying with both of them with her hands as she spoke, “well, he is known to like his women a bit…..curvy, if you know what I mean.”

“Rosalina is that...what else?” Nathan wondered.

“Somewhat reasonably mature, of course. Not very young, you know. Not very old, either. He is much younger than his late brother, but still no spring chicken himself. A life of civil service, of course, and before that the Navy,” Gaudentia explained.

“And what of his personality and temperament?” Nathan pressed her, as he kissed her face and ran his fingers through her hair.

“Jovial by Roman standards. Rather gregarious and yet capable of being tough at times, despite his seemingly easygoing manner. It just takes a bit to get his back up, of course. A bit fond of athletics more than scholastic endeavors. Seems very fond of the proverbial wine, women, and song, you see,” Gaudentia assured them.

“...I see. And he has two daughters? Desidera and Claudia?” Nathan asked as he began to scratch her back. “Oh, and it looks like Sophia fell asleep.”

“Oh, yes, Desideria and Claudia. Any particular interest in either of them?” Gaudentia said as she lightly caressed Sophia’s face in a very loving and warm manner.

“Yes...at least for the Tsarevich,” Nathan answered. “I understand that Desideria is a widow...or is she divorced?”

“Widow. Husband was killed, shot out of the sky by the Riemaian Air Force. Lame fuckers, those humanoid types, not even human. Good riddance to their lot now that they don’t meddle in our affairs,” Gaudentia answered, “she hasn’t remarried since.”

“I would like to meddle in your affairs,” Nathan teased as he rolled on top of her. “But in all seriousness, does she have any prospects of late?”

“Not in the past. She has been loathe to seek out or welcome suitors in the recent past. It has taken her a good while to mourn and grieve, though I have heard rumors of late about a Shalumite courting her,” Gaudentia clarified.

“I see. And I hear that Claudia is still very young...eighteen if I recall correctly,” Nathan told her as he kissed her bosom and tickled her ribs.

“Naturally. And quite ready for marriage, I think. She would make a great wife for some lucky husband. Any candidates that you have in mind?” Gaudentia wondered, enjoying Nathan’s touch as she kissed his hand and lightly rubbed Sophia below the waist.

“The Tsarevich,” Nathan answered as he began to rub her nether region. “The Tsar could benefit immensely from having the power of Rome at his back, in terms of gaining legitimacy and solidifying his position. The Church might be reluctant to accept a widow, but the other one, while young, might be acceptable. Of course, there are other options as well...Ava Shalamenser, Ada Zevik, Alazne Dain, etc.”

“What is the objection to a widow, not that Claudia isn’t probably a better choice,” Gaudentia asked.

Nathan shrugged. “You know how the Nekulturnyan Orthodox Church is…”

“Well, I can understand divorce, but there is no Scriptural basis for banning widows from remarriage. Even with divorce, the Imperial Roman Church is remarkably liberal, at least,” Gaudentia noted.

“I think it has more to do with wanting someone...fresh, if you know what I mean. I have to admit, that was part of your appeal to me,” Nathan smirked as he entered her again, nice and slowly.

“Meaning?” Gaudentia laughed.

“The fact that you were a maiden, and that the honey was, and is, all mine,” he explained with a laugh as he wrapped himself around her and kissed her neck.

“Well, you’re the only man for me, though I think that it is safe to say that I have discovered the pleasures of a woman’s touch, too,” Gaudentia smiled and kissed him back.

“...Yeah...how was that, by the way?” he asked, curiously.

“Delicious. Not jealous, are you?” Gaudentia winked at him.

“...Jealous? Far from. I am just glad the two of you are getting along. The fact that I can be with you in the same bed that she is in, that’s an ideal scenario. One that I do not plan on wasting,” Nathan explained with a gasp into her neck as he took her.

“Oh, Jove, Nathan, you’re really making me cream myself now! Just don’t wake up the sleeping beauty,” Gaudentia giggled as she welcomed Nathan inside her again.

“Is that so?” the Emperor asked coyly. “Good...I want to drain you dry.” That was when he started to take her hard. Then in a flurry he finished.

Meanwhile, Sophia was laying on her side, facing away from the others. She texted Anelyn to ask if she wanted to come see her in her room.

Anelyn was showering when Mari knocked gently on the open bathroom door. The Queen looked around the curtain and her guarding stated, “Message for you, Your Highness. Empress Sophia.” She quickly took it, What could Sophia possibly want?

I’m in the shower right now. I’ll head over when I’m finished.

While she waited, Sophia couldn’t help but shrug. There’s already three...what difference would four make? A part of her felt as though this was necessary in order to defuse the tension that existed in her marriage...after all, she had what she wanted. His love, his children, his heir. The throne was an added benefit.

Anelyn -- whose hair was still wet -- dressed in a black, pleated mini-skirt and matching blouse before making her way to Sophia’s room, Mari in toe. She knocked on the door, asking permission to enter.

“Come in,” Sophia said just loud enough for someone at the door at the door to hear.

“...Who?” Nathan asked, somewhat surprised...not that he was too distracted from what he was doing.

The Cacertian Queen opened the door to find that Sophia wasn’t alone. She furrowed her brow slightly -- trying to ignore Nathan and his lover -- before asking, “Did you want to see me, Sophia?”

“Why yes I did...I wanted to take you up on your offer,” Sophia smiled as she patted the bed. “If you are still up for it.”

“...Uh...hey, Anelyn…” Nathan said, “what offer?” he asked his wife. “And I thought you were sleeping.”

“I am not that tired...yet,” Sophia giggled. “It was to spend the night together. At the time it seemed imprudent, but now…might as well, right? I am sure you don’t mind.”

“...Not at all. After all, you scratch my back, and I shall scratch yours, eh?” Nathan giggled in turn. “By the way...this here is Gaudentia Ovida, from Rome…”

“Surely, this is still somewhat imprudent, considering the presence of your husband.” Anelyn started, more out of a deeply rooted disdain for the Gentry family rather than the situation being truly imprudent. She was a Cacertian after all and it wasn’t like group sex wasn’t a normal thing in the Kingdom.

“...Has my husband ever offended you?” Sophia asked her.

“...Not that I am aware of,” Nathan said. “If I have than I apologize.”

“I am curious now,” Anelyn began, “about your nation’s culture of monogamy -- in light of your husband’s present lover and your acceptance of my offer. Did you not say last time we spoke that the Ghantish took their marriages very seriously?”

“Generally speaking, it is a personal choice made between husband and wife, although the norm is monogamy. In...special circumstances, liberties can be taken, provided both partners are ok with it and agree. For instance, you might not know this, but the last Emperor, Albert, and Empress Grace, were with other people for twenty-seven years, and not with each other. So it isn’t without precedent.” Sophia explained.

Nathan added to that. “...I would say that Ghantish people take their marriages very seriously, insofar as preserving them and upholding them via proper communication, respect and cooperation. Sex being a personal choice...isn’t necessarily something that is restricted if both people agree upon it...which at present seems to be the case.”

“Curious.” Anelyn felt like mentioning Michael again, and the conversation she and Sophia had that night, but decided not to say a thing. She had, after all, promised Sophia that it wouldn’t leave her room. After realizing she had been standing in the doorway the whole time, she eventually walked in and took a seat, still feeling genuinely uncomfortable in the presence of a Gentry.

Sophia hopped out of bed and walked over to Anelyn. “It’s my husband, isn’t it?” she asked her as she approached her. She was naked...and if felt a bit odd at first, being around Anelyn in such a state. She wondered what the other woman thought.

“It would certainly be a lie if I said, no, Your Highness.” Anelyn stated. “And I respect you for marrying a Gentry considering the things the family has done to both our own families’ past -- yours especially. Unfortunately for my House, I still feel a sense of caution around a Gentry. Surely, your husband is nothing like the Mad Emperor, but it’s still there and it has festered all these years.”

“Nathan is a good man. I married him because of that...because I have known him all my life and I love him down to the core of my being...trust me, I wouldn’t have married him if I thought or felt otherwise,” Sophia told Anelyn as she went to rub her shoulders. “Not all of them are so bad...after all, Enza was a Gentry too, and she turned out alright.”

“This is true. And it’s not like Nathan has done anything for me to think otherwise of him. You have surely answered this question already, but I must ask again: Do you feel comfortable with it?” Anelyn raised her eyebrow slightly, questioning, “Having sex with me right now in the same room as your husband? I only ask to be sure.”

“Comfortable enough to do this,” Sophia responded as she cupped Anelyn’s face and gave her a kiss.

Taking in the taste of Sophia’s lips, Anelyn kissed her back gently, pulling away only to say, “What kind of a Cacertian would I be if I wasn’t?” She started to unbutton her blouse slowly, reaching down to unzip the side of her mini-skirt.

The Empress was quick to help her get out of her clothes, while Nathan said “what’s going on over there?”

“...Just taking care of business,” Sophia said with a chuckle.

“You haven’t done this before, right? Or at least it’s been quite some time, correct?”

“Some time as in five years,” Sophia clarified. “So not too long ago at all.”

“If so, we are even, anyway,” Gaudentia broke in, “Gaudentia Ovida, Your Majesty, formerly Legate of the Romans, now Ohaide to the Emperor of Ghant,” she added, kissing the Queen’s hand, “that is what we Romans call a concubina….a concubine. Anyway, it is a pleasure and honor to meet you.”

“A pleasure to meet you, Madam.” Anelyn smiled. “I am Anelyn Trento, but I imagine you have already summed that much up. Quite curious, to use the term concubine. I respect that. How much of Cacertian culture do you know, Madam Ovida?”

“Only that you have a mildly matriarchal religion, at least in its overtones, but that your society seems fairly liberal and egalitarian otherwise. I hear that Queen Mara was very popular there, too. The failed coup was a bit disturbing, of course, and as you know, we Romans frown on coups. I also hear that your society embraces a freer sexuality than most of the region,” Gaudentia noted.

The now naked Cacertian Queen nodded, “Yes, all very true and very factual. Part of our large tourism economy primarily deals with our free views on nudity and sexuality. It’s always fun traveling abroad, though, to see what other nations are like.”

“I imagine so. We Romans tend to be more open than others realize, but we also tend to be discreet up to a point about things. Nudity is usually reserved for the public baths, though you might note that more than just nudity tends to occur there. It is no accident that the Emperor’s natural daughter was the fruit of a liaison with a public bath attendant,” Gaudentia smiled, kissing both Nathan and Sophia in turn.

Sophia kissed Gaudentia back and became entangled with her in bed. “You see, Anelyn, I have already had my fun with this one tonight...but the night is still young.”

Anelyn made a small smile, “I can see that you have.” She sat next to the bed, half ready to shut up and let her body do the talking while the other half was genuinely interested in conversing with Nathan’s Roman mistress. “I understand that, Madam Ovida,” the Cacertian started, “It doesn’t sound very dissimilar to ancient Cacerta. Common ancestry at work, don’t you think?”

“That would make sense, I suppose. Do you want to kiss me?” Gaudentia asked her.

“Certainly no need to ask me twice.” The Queen shot her a semi-mischievous smile before leaning in towards her.

Nathan, still laying in bed, murmured into the blanket, “I wish I had some popcorn…”

“So….I’ve never done this with but one woman, and that was Sophia not long before….excuse my awkwardness,” Gaudentia said as she planted a kiss on Anelyn’s lips, “oh, and Nathan, you can at least do something with Sophia or me.”

“...I think for now I will just watch, if you don’t mind,” Nathan said with a smirk.

“No need to worry, Madam Ovida.” Anelyn said as they parted, “You are talking to a woman well-versed and well-experienced in the ways of pleasuring women.”

“So I see, my dear, how is this, then?” Gaudentia asked, running her hands across Anelyn’s bosom.

Anelyn responded in kind, gently running the tips of her fingers across Gaudentia’s body, resting her hands on her breasts, and lightly kissing her. She felt there was no need to talk anymore and let their bodies do the communicating, especially since Gaudentia was new to the world of lesbianism.

Gaudentia then began lightly stroking with one hand down the small of Anelyn’s back, while her other hand continued to caress Anelyn’s bosom. Her lips continued to sink into Anelyn’s mouth, her tongue sliding a little across her lips. Just a tease of a French kiss, of course.

Sophia was content to get in on the action in a supporting role, rubbing and kissing the other two as they went along. Meanwhile, Nathan’s jaw dropped as he watched the scene involving the three women unfold.

Anelyn wasn’t one to let Sophia alone and shifted her attention from Gaudentia to the Empress of Ghant. She worked her way in between Sophia legs and looked up at her with a small smile, “May I feast upon your garden, Your Highness?”

“Only if you don’t mind the taste of seed,” Sophia teased.

The Cacertian Queen quickly went down on her, occasionally shifting between her fingers and her tongue to pleasure the Empress. Anelyn suckled gently on Sophia’s womanhood like she would a ripe fruit, indulging in its juices in a carnal satisfaction.

As the Empress gasped, the Emperor raised an eyebrow. “...Mind if return the favor, your majesty?”

“If only you feel it necessary, Your Majesty,” Anelyn responded as she briefly sat up and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand before then returning to service Sophia.

“It would be my pleasure...or yours, if you know what I mean,” he sniggered as he buried his face in her behind and unleashed his so called skills.

Gaudentia, meanwhile, approached Sophia and planted herself on her face, letting her have a taste of Roman juices…..her long, strawberry-blonde hair flowing downward in a sweaty mess as she offered herself to Sophia.

“I have to admit...I have never seen a threesome between women,” Nathan chuckled as he did his thing with the Queen of Cacerta.

“Neither have I,” Gaudentia moaned in response as she caressed Sophia’s hair.

The Empress panted like a dog as Gaudentia did her thing with her, even going as far as to purr her name. “...Gaudentia…”

“This is pretty hot,” Nathan commented.

“Is it now, mea vita?” Gaudentia laughed as she now hungrily rode Sophia’s mouth.

“...Let’s find out,” Sophia said as she began to really dig in…

“Oh, God, Sophia….I can see why you are so desired!” Gaudentia remarked, also admiring Anelyn’s body as well.

“...I can say the same for you,” Sophia chuckled in response. “You have a nice...figure.”

“Does it please you to know that I carry the seed of Nathan within me, and that our children can play together and grow up as a family? That we can share the love of a great man and make love to each other as well?” Gaudentia asked Sophia as she moved across her face.

“...I have not really thought about that too much,” Sophia admitted honestly. “Sounds pleasant enough...how many children do you wish to bear?” She asked as she moved to the other hole.

Gaudentia shivered and nearly toppled as she felt Sophia’s tongue there again, “A few, to say the least. Enough to give this darling man a big, happy family.”

“...I plan on having quite a few,” Sophia said as she gripped the other woman’s abdomen to force her down.

The talk of children and families made Anelyn think of her own Rinaldo, flying around in Helaria so far from home, and her seven year old Ayalla, a polite handful. She would be turning seven this year, it was almost hard to believe that she would be.

Anelyn quickly pushed the thoughts of her family out of her mind as she continued to indulge on Sophia, letting the pleasure of Nathan’s work build up deep inside her body.

Nathan, in his zeal to indulge the Queen, integrated some fingers into the fold, while Sophia couldn’t help but shudder and wiggle in delight.

Taking in a deep breath, Anelyn paused, let out a moan in response to Nathan, and said, “Just think. This is a normal, daily, Cacertian activity. Sex is all a part of the exercise.”

“Aren’t there days when you don’t have the energy or the inclination?” Nathan asked as he shifted to the other hole.

“As a Cacertian, it would be a shame not to if someone so desired.” Anelyn then returned to working on the Empress, inserting her fingers now and again fishing for her most sensitive spots.

“...And what if I so desired?” Nathan asked as he unleashed his full fury on both orifices.

Anelyn sighed somewhat and fought with herself briefly before finally responding, “Then it would be rude of me to refuse.”

“I think you might be pleasantly surprised,” Nathan said eagerly, wondering how to approach the situation. Carefully… After a bit longer of doing what he was doing, he carefully turned the Queen unto her back, and eased himself in that way, hoping that was the better choice than to take her from behind.

Anelyn watched him slowly slide into her and said, “I never thought I’d have sex with a Gentry.”

“Well...that makes two of us…” Nathan laughed as he began to run his fingers across her body. “In all seriousness, I can’t say I ever expected to have sex with a Trento,” he said before leaning forward to kiss her bosom and neck.

“As long as its clear that I won’t have any of your children,” Anelyn said jokingly with a small smile, “I think I’ll be alright with it.”

Nathan laughed. “That shouldn’t be a problem...contraception is abound around here...brought from Ghant, of course. New Edom doesn’t strike me as a place where that might be in great supply.” The Emperor knew that he was in the hole with Anelyn (no pun intended) due to his name, so it was up to him to leave her with a good impression...even for the sake of relations between the two nations. As such, he pulled out all the stops in his efforts worth her now, all his passions and skills were at his disposal, and he planned and wasting nothing. He even kissed her, lightly at first, just to see how she might react to it.

Anelyn let herself go and did her best to push what prejudices she had against Gentries out of her mind. Considering the position she was in and surrounded by people clearly having a good time, she figured that it wasn’t an appropriate time to think about things that happened in the past. When Nathan leaned down to kiss her, she responded ever so gently.

“You are a woman of exceptional beauty, Anelyn,” he told her encouragingly. He was trying to make her feel comfortable and reassure her with his gentle, soothing caresses. This seemed to the Emperor like one of those boiling frog situations. For if you put a frog in boiling water, it would jump out. So the best way to cook it would be to put it in cold water and gradually increase the temperature until the water was boiling...by then, the frog wouldn’t know the water was boiling. As such, he was careful and methodical in his approach, easing not only himself but her as well into the act. As she grew more comfortable with it, he did different things to enhance her pleasure. He had enough experience to know what these things might be. And for what it was worth, he enjoyed joining Anelyn in her act with Sophia, and exchanging more passionate kisses along the way.

“I appreciate that,” Anelyn responded somewhat quietly. Inwardly, the Queen was having a hard time with herself. She had hated Nathan’s family on principle and, even though he was clearly trying to make her more comfortable, it sat in the back of her mind. She went on for a few more minutes before eventually saying, “I apologize if I’m being difficult, Nathan. I’m just not sure what to say.”

“There is nothing to apologize for,” Nathan reassured her. “I understand...although, maybe there is nothing to say, other than letting your body do the talking.” he embraced her closely and gently, entwining himself closely with her. He let her get a good look at his eyes, those calm blue greys of his, that Sophia often said were his finest trait, for they exuded depth, kindness and passion.

“Does it feel alright with you? Knowing that we’re both technically family, albeit distant?” Anelyn said quietly.

“Third cousins once removed...that’s far enough removed for me,” he chuckled softly into the side of her neck, before kissing it.

It was then that Anelyn decided to just shut up and enjoy it, indulge in the carnal pleasures as she usually did back home. It’s not like it was the first time she had a sexual encounter with a technical family member, and she was sure it would likely not be the last. Finally, she decided to wrap her legs around Nathan’s waist -- inviting his thrusts into her small frame.

“...Oh…” Nathan said softly before really getting into it, wrapping his arms underneath hers to press himself firmly against her, and kissing her passionately. Sophia, for her part, was happy to see some of the tension clear, and began to stroke the Queen’s hair.

Anelyn was silent for the most part, allowing sighs and moans of pleasure to escape between her partially open lips. She imagined herself with Rinaldo or Enoch, remembering her time with Mara when she had visited Quality Bay. Anelyn had made love with them then and it had almost felt like home. Feeling Nathan inside her, she wondered quietly if she could feel that way someday with Nathan and Sophia.

Hmm… this seemed very much like a puzzle to Nathan, wondering how to best solve the Queen of Cacerta. He felt as though he was making some progress...he was thinking about Anelyn, which helped. Wondering what else to do in the act, he shifted a hand from underneath her down to her nether region for stimulation. Let’s see what she thinks about that.

She sighed feeling his hand before saying to him between pants, “Harder, Nathan.”

He took the cue, intensifying his thrusts while rubbing her at the same time. He was sweating and breathing hard, alternating between sucking on her neck and kissing her deeply upon the mouth. The free hand was caressing her side.

Anelyn wrapped her arms around Nathan’s body and felt the perspiration on his skin. She liked the idea of a man’s deeper desires of carnal enjoyment and loved it when they thrusted deeply. It was a pleasure only a man could really provide as his warmth penetrated, walls tightening, beckoning for him to release.

The Emperor groaned. This was the home stretch, but he was battle hardened. He wasn’t going to give in so easily...so he was content to stay in the motion of it, and continued to go hard as she requested while applying direct stimulation. He continued to kiss her deeply as well.

The Cacertian Queen playfully bit Nathan’s bottom lip as she began to try and match his motions with her own. She felt her own climax coming, the internal pressure of pent up pleasure building up inside -- only a little push was all she needed.

He could feel it coming as well, a building pressure and intensity. He liked it when she bit his bottom lip, and he returned the favor. He also intensified his efforts on both fronts, giving her everything that he had. See if she will scream.

Anelyn arched her back and leaned back her head, letting out one long moan as she let loose her climax, spilling herself onto Nathan.

The Emperor kept going for a bit after that, before finally caving himself with one final shove. Then he just laid there breathing hard and fast.


“Wow,” he said before kissing her again and running his hands along her sides, bosom and face.

“‘Wow’, what?” Anelyn asked quietly.

“That was intense...in a good way,” he chuckled as he kissed her again.

“Oh, I’m not done yet, dear.” Anelyn smiled lightly at him before crawling over to him and gently running the tip of her tongue along his length. “They don’t call me the stripper queen for nothing.”

“...Ah...I see,” he chuckled as he relaxed and enjoyed what she was doing. Sophia, still enjoying herself, said, “looks like you two are enjoying yourselves.”

Anelyn teased Nathan with her lips, waiting for him to stiffen again before kissing and taking him into her mouth, slowly moving her head and massaging him with her tongue.

She can’t get enough of me now, he thought as he shuddered and gasped underneath her. While he returned the favor, he wondered how she felt about him now. Probably pretty good if she is interested in overtime.

The Queen would paused in between, using her hands to massage him, “You know, Sophia, I was really here for you.” She chuckled. “Was this what you really had in mind? Something new for your husband?” Anelyn raised an eyebrow at the Empress, continuing to pleasure Nathan.

“Not at all...he just kind of...inserted himself into the equation.” Sophia giggled.

“...I see what you did there,” Nathan said. “Saving the best for last.”

Anelyn paused for a moment and looked at Sophia, “You care to clean up the mess your husband made?”

“Of course...I am already on it,” she said as she went in alongside the Emperor and made a joint venture out of it, although Sophia certainly was getting the lion’s share.

Anelyn let the Emperor and Empress do their work as she continued to slowly build Nathan back home, pausing for a moment to look over at Gaudentia, “Madam Ovida, would you care to help me?”

Gaudentia now lowered herself to move her tongue into the action, “It would be my pleasure and honor. It is quite the experience….you taste very well, in fact,” she added as she sampled her second woman ever…...an Empress and a Queen….it was clear that Gaudentia would need to visit Cacerta some time, renew the acquaintance, assuming that Nathan and Sophia didn’t mind.

“So tell me Gaudentia, how did you feel watching me with another woman?” Nathan asked her, curiously.

“Intriguing and even exciting, since I could recall it must feel for her,” Gaudentia said between licks to Anelyn.

“Not jealous?” Nathan teased her.

“Sure, a little, but I am a Roman. We soon learn to temper such emotions and go with what works,” Gaudentia assured him as she resumed her work.

“And if I told you that I would make up for that jealousy ten fold this very night...and the night after, would you believe me?” Nathan said with a chuckle.

“I would be rather intrigued, to say the least,” Gaudentia laughed as she kept at it.

“Be careful what you wish for,” Nathan smirked as he continued.

“Or what?” Gaudentia snickered as she resumed her services to Anelyn.

“Or you just might get it,” Nathan responded with a tickle of her rear.

“How is this a problem again?” Gaudentia winked at him before giggling….somehow, he had reduced all of her stately Roman dignity to girlish silliness.

“...And to think, that the once austere Roman diplomat is reduced to a giddy girl,” Nathan laughed.

“At heart, I am still just a woman, after all,” Gaudentia responded as she went back to work on Anelyn.

“Aren’t we all just men and women out to find pleasure and love?” Anelyn chuckled somewhat as she finally say up, “Everything else is just superfluous and extra.”

“That is a wonderful truth in many ways, Your Majesty,” Gaudentia said, “Now, how am I doing so far?”

“You are doing, wonderful,” Anelyn responded, “Perhaps you should visit the Kingdom one day. You might find it -- how should I say -- liberating?”

“That is a rather intriguing proposition. What do you think, Nathan, Sophia?” Gaudentia said and then whispered to Anelyn, “show me what you did to Queen Mara some time, too.”

“I would enjoy going to Cacerta,” Sophia said. “If only for the weather.”

“...Yeah, I wouldn’t mind going sometime,” Nathan responded.

“Wonderful weather,” Anelyn responded to Sophia, “It’s always great in Cacerta -- only strange when we hit stormy seasons. Had snow for the first time in a decade last year, in fact.”

By this time, Nathan was more or less ready to go, and wondering what Anelyn was going to do next...considering the position she was in. As it happened, Sophia took the lead and went after Anelyn...it was their turn after all. Not that Nathan minded...he had Gaudentia to keep him satisfied. And, for what it was worth, the night was still young, and there would be plenty of time for all of them to have their fill of one another.
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Founded: Feb 11, 2013
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Ghant » Wed Apr 22, 2015 10:18 am

“Barbarian Enlightenment"
The Imperatorial Palace
Aragon, Shalum

(Co-written with Hostillia and Shalum)

High Princess Allaria pondered the nature of the message she had received from the “Center for Barbarian Enlightenment”...admittedly, it was one that she did not expect to receive, and she didn’t know if she was honored or insulted to have been contacted in such a matter. In any case, there it was, the message in her hands, a sort of inquiry and invitation to come to the “CBE” to speak more about the matter in person.

High Princess Allaria of Shalum, Lady of House Belmore,

Your Highness, if you would trouble yourself to take the time to read this missive, I will tell you a brief story which I have heard here in Shalum, once- not very long ago there was a great night that had settled on the nation, and no manner of lightening, or torches could illuminate it. It was a thick and heavy night which lasted for years, and all the people were weary and with heavy heart. It was then, in the midst of this deep darkness, that a beautiful swan from the northern coldness flew south, as birds do on occasion, but this swan was no ordinary swan, indeed, she was the most beautiful of all the swans from that northern, icy kingdom, and so great was her beauty that when she arrived in the Kingdom that had been overcome by darkness, her beauty alone served to break the back of night, as the sun climbing over the mountains. And this swan did finally see an end to the many long days of night, and returned to the Kingdom joy and happiness.

I question, has this world gone crazy? For now, behold, a lowly serpent such as myself dears write to a gorgeous swan. Alas, what can be done Princess? I am but a lowly foreigner and you would no doubt not recognize my name, but I have been sent from the Land of Enlightenment, the Middle Kingdom, where I was instructed to make a great journey here to Shalum that I might ensure, for a thousand generations, a friendship between my land and this land you now call your own. I have spoken previously with the Imperator, Tyler Holland, who is a just and mighty man great in word and in deed, and he has granted unto me certain permissions to act upon some liberties to ensure not only the eternal continuance of our national friendship, but also to offer unto his son, Matthew Holland, High Prince of Shalum, some of the pleasures that are unique to this world before we must all scurry off into the next.

But could I call myself a gentleman if I did not understand the sacred bond binding a woman to her husband? Surely I understand this. I have heard that you are many things o Princess, that you are kind as you are intelligent, that you are intelligent as you are graceful, that you are graceful as you are beautiful, and that your beauty could put all the world, clothed in her flowers and oceans, to shame. May the Son of Heaven take my head and my Ancestors deny my soul if I were to dishonor such a woman! I will do no such thing, instead, I would like to request an audience with Your Highness, for a fine cup of Han tea, what I must conclude is the only drink so wonderful as to justify the attention of one such as yourself. Over tea, many things are discussed in my country and a cup of tea have saved many men their honor.

If you would care to be so sociable as to speak, and so charitable as to speak to one such as myself far below your station, I would await you eagerly at the Center for Barbarian Enlightenment, situated in the hills outside of Aragon and featuring an excellent view of the Imperator’s Palace.

May Your Ancestors Look Upon You with Favor,
Your Humble Servant, Bei Lü


Amusing as she considered the verbiage, she was irritated at what she suspected the contents to be concerning. Concubines. Shalum had them, this much she knew to be true, and her father-in-law had some. While Allison was the sort to permit such things with relative ease, Allaria was much more reluctant. Matthew had every opportunity to go for the sort of woman that would allow things like concubines, bastards, so on and so forth. Alas, however, he went for a proper Ghantish lady, gently bred and raised to value highly her ladylike honor, which to say would be besmirched by the presence of concubines to satisfy the needs of a man who she had every intention of devoting herself fully to, in the way of keeping his needs fulfilled.

Yet, this was also an opportunity to make contact with Hostillians, which Ghant had very limited, if any, relations with. And as the future Imperatrix, she had at least some obligation to treat all of her nation’s allies with due respect, and as such, a trip to the CBE was not something she considered unreasonable. So it came to pass that she decided upon that course of action and prepared herself to oblige.

Allaria took some time to prepare her hair in a loose bun that allowed some bangs to dangle on either side of her face, and she wore a casual, comfortable silk gown of a light green color on account of the rising temperatures that time of year. It was loose fitting on account of the bump on her belly that marked her as being in her second trimester of pregnancy...she was due in September.

“Guards,” she called out of the front door of her personal chambers once she was ready. “Any chance I could be delivered to the Center for Barbarian Enlightenment?” Her Latin was well spoken, although thick with a southern coastal Ghantish accent that gave it a strong annunciation of vowels.

The guards assigned to her were a group of intimidating men and women. They were all combat veterans, of course, some hailing from the army and others the marine corp, not to mention the stray air force CSAR operator who filled in as a medic. They knew how to handle their weapons, and more importantly protect their assignment, High Princess Allaria. Stepping up, the captain nodded. “Of course, ma’am. We can have that done ASAP.” He replied with a nod, going for his radio. In a few minutes time, a state car would be readied for her. The trip would not be a long one, as the CBE was close to the Imperatorial Palace.

“Very good captain, thank you,” Allaria said with a smile as she began walking down to where the vehicles were generally near. Center for Barbarian Enlightenment, she thought. It was almost demeaning to say that, hence CBE. Allaria knew what a barbarian looked like, and needless to say she was anything but. Doubtless the Hostillians think anyone without cunty eyes is one.

“It is no problem, ma’am.” He replied as he and his men followed her to the car at a leisurely pace, none of them in a rush, of course. It took a few minutes to get to the front of the palace, where it was already waiting for her. It was a rather comfortable looking sedan, painted black. It looked normal, but in reality had been outfitted with a number of things to make sure whoever was inside survived an attack if it happened. A guard smiled and opened to the car door for her. When she was inside, they would be off.

The High Princess climbed into the sedan and sat down with a gentle sigh as she made herself comfortable in the seat. “Thank you,” she told the guard who held the door for her. Once she was in position and waiting, she decided to engage her escorts in casual conversation as she prefered to when the circumstances permitted, on account of wanting to be generally well liked around the palace, especially by those who held her charge. “So tell me...have you heard much about this business with the base in Fineberg, and the ones in Nalaya and Rome?” Allaria cared little for the Edomites, and considered them to have been a liability as opposed to an asset to either Shalum or Ghant. Her suspicions seemed to have been confirmed by the latest developments in that country.

The driver of the car was sure to keep the drive a bit slower than normal, given his charge’s current condition. The roads between the palace and CBE were well maintained, for obvious reasons, but that didn’t mean that he was going to push things in the least. He was silent, not wanting to take his eyes off the road. Instead, the captain spoke. “Not much regarding the Edomite situation, ma’am. As I understand it, they kicked us out for no reason, end of story. The Nalayan base just got up and running recently, and the base in Rome is a deal that was finalized only a few days ago.” He explained as the car traversed the roads.

Not wanting to press the issue regarding New Edom, since she already knew some of the reasons why it was done, she shifted her thoughts to Nalaya. What do those backward savages have to offer for a base? she would have to find that out, eventually. Rome was self-explanatory. “I should hope that Valerian shows the same degree of willingness to engage in alliance with Ghant as he has with Shalum, considering the Third Ghanto-Roman alliance ended under most unfortunate circumstances.” she was of course, referring to when the alliance ended abruptly in 1912 at the onset of the Great War, when Nathan III chose not to honor the treaty when it came time to chose sides.

The captain shrugged slightly. He wasn’t one versed in Ghantish history, nor were any of his men really. It wasn’t something that was stressed in Shalum that much, when compared to Belisarian history. “I would hope so, I suppose. I don’t know much about the issue, sorry ma’am. This base is part of a new trade and defense agreement between the Imperator and Valerian.” He explained.

“That is quite alright...most understandable and there is nothing to be sorry for,” she smiled. “In any event, it is a pleasant development.” Allaria looked around out the window out into the town. “I take it we must be getting close as well.”

The captain smiled back and nodded. “Indeed it is.” He replied, following her gaze outward. Aragon was a large city to say the least, and seeing it from the hills that overlooked it was a treat. “Yes ma’am, we are. The CBE is close to the palace, in the hills. If you look out windows of the southern part of our palace, you can see it in the distance, actually.” He explained as the car went. Before long, the Hostillian CBE and its entrance were in view...

“A useful bit of information, no doubt,” Allaria answered, only half-seriously. Her eyes lingered on the building as the sedan made its approach, ready to make her way inside to see to this business that was brought to her attention. Once the sedan did come to a stop, Allaria wasted no time in doing just that, content to let her guards sort themselves out as she led the way to the building.

Bei Lü was not an especially remarkable man, standing at 5’8 he was tall enough for a Han, but not remarkably so. He was thin, but not so much so that he lacked muscle, and he was average in build. Altogether, nothing special to behold. He was handsome enough, with sharp brown eyes, and rounded features which made him seem gentle and approachable, his black hair was beginning to show the occasional gray, but despite this he was not by any means the most handsome Han, nor was he the oldest. When everything was said and done, he was on the upper end of average, and that was a place he was perfectly content to be. The only thing that separated Bei from any of the commoners in Hostillia was the not so subtle mark of wealth, he dressed in very fine silks, white and blue mixing together like the sky and sea. On one finger was a very nice silver ring of a serpent coiled around a large ruby, his hair was pulled back into a que, an odd style for a pure blooded Han, but a style he found fitting, organized and well ordered. It was held impeccably in place with the assistance of several silver rings which provided nice contrast to his black hair.

The Center for Barbarian Enlightenment was, however, nothing like Bei. It was, in every way, exceptional- providing a sharp contrast from the Shalumite countryside the courtyard style residence was large enough to accommodate over twenty individuals permanently and had a covered courtyard capable of seating fifty comfortably. There was not a single roof of the Center that was not curved, all the better to keep demons at bay, and immediately inside the red brick of the outer wall the Center itself was surrounded by a very large garden of beautiful and exquisite plants, the majority of them brought over from the Middle Kingdom (fortunately the two states were at similar enough latitudes as to not kill the plants). All of this was surrounded by the outer wall, where soldiers of the Jin Bei stood vigilant as the vehicle approached- the wall was thirteen feet in height and wide enough to allow to men to stand side by side across it- however, it did not look imposing in the traditional sense, instead it was artistically decorated and painted gentle hues, all and all it was a very soft type of security, but effective.

“One moment please,” one of the soldiers said in a pleasant but firm tone as the small column of people approached the gates of the Center’s wall, the gate was made from iron and styled to look like a hundred vines, each flowering roses which obscured vision into the Center itself. He approached the Shalumite royal party slowly, his two fellow guards maintaining their position at the gate so as to avoid making their Shalumite friends jumpy- three soldiers were hardly necessary to exchange pleasantries after all. “May the sun forever shine on your homeland comrades,” the soldier said politely in accented German before offering a low bow to the noble woman, low enough to do proper honor to a Princess, he maintained the low bow as he addressed her, “noble Princess, we are honored that you would grace us with your presence,” the man told her, “we are honored beyond words to receive you, if you care to proceed.” As he finished the heavy iron gate was opened to reveal the lush green garden on the other side, the walkway split into two paths to go around a small, blue pond where koi could be seen swimming and trees provided shade- everywhere flowers of all hues, but especially blues and purples dotted the landscaping, and waiting just inside the garden was Bei Lü who, upon seeing the Princess, bowed very deeply, waiting for her to approach.

“...And it is an honor to be here,” Allaria responded in turn, although admittedly only half-serious. How can I consider it an honor to be somewhere that is labeled in such a patronizing fashion? At least she focused on admiring the pristine nature of the garden that lay ahead. She took note of a man bowing deeply to her on the other side of the garden, who must have been who she was there to speak to. She approached as any proper lady should, with all the care and finesse of posture and balance. When she finally drew near, she did a curtsey and raised an eyebrow at the man who awaited her, allowing him the opportunity to address her first.

“A thousand greetings Princess,” the man said softly as the iron gate was closed shortly after she entered the garden, the man remained bowing as he spoke. “What pity it is that I, an oafish and unintelligent man would, by some cruel act of fate, be thrown into the presence of a woman whose excellence in morality and physical beauty surely makes envious the divine, I feel I have encroached upon you too much already and yet still I wish to speak more to Her Majesty,” the gentle wind seem to move the silk of his robes around slightly as he spoke, he was speaking in English rather than German, his accent though definitely present was not as pronounced as what one may have suspected, he allowed a moment of silence to pass between them before saying, “if it is not opposed to your will, Princess, your servant would humbly ask to stand before you at his full height.”

“You may,” Allaria answered skeptically while raising her hand in a gesture to rise. It was warm, and her fair skin was pooling with beats of sweat. “A most interesting outlook you possess. For while I am most flattered by your compliments, which I do not doubt are sincere, there is a whole country full of women like me, and some even greater, which seems to have gone unnoticed by your kind,” she said with a grin. “I wonder what I am to make of such an...oversight.”

“I thousand thanks benevolent Princess,” he said as he rose, he was not as young as he once was and it was quite taxing to bow for an extended period of time, his brown eyes seemed to flirt with the idea of meeting her gaze, but stayed ever just a touch lower and to the side as to avoid doing her disrespect, even still he spoke with his head slightly bowed. A serving boy approached the pair, bowed very low and holding out a tray, on it there were two glasses of very fine wine, bought specifically for the arrival of the Princess as the Han found little pleasure from the foreign drinks, along with the chilled wine was a large silver bowl containing all manner of fruit in the event that the Princess was hungry- the serving boy did all he could to make himself as close to invisible as possible, not wanting to interrupt the two far more important people. “Surely a Princess as noble as yourself cannot tell a lie, and yet your servant cannot imagine any who could claim to be your superior- if, however, you speak of your homeland your servant is not qualified to respond,” he added with a good humored, small smile, “if a man does not gaze on the sun, does this mean he has failed to realize its presence? Or does it mean simply that, the sun in all its radiance, is too magnificent that he does not feel worthy to look upon it,” he let the question linger before concluding, “your servant cannot tell you what you should or should not gather from the actions of those in authority over him, certainly you are far wiser than he- your conclusions will be more than he could ever offer you. Would you like to move to one of the shaded areas? I am told your homeland is far cooler than this heat which now greets us.”

“I figured as much.” Allaria watched as the man spoke, but didn’t look her directly in the eyes. What is he hiding? It was a source of slight irritation, as was the eccentric manner of speech, which threw her off. “You will forgive me if I am to decline the offer of wine, although I am greatly appreciative,” she explained as she patted her swelling belly. “A shaded area with some seating would be most appreciated, and thank you.” Allaria cast her eyes upon him as she spoke, for among the Ghantar, anything said without the eyes could be interpreted as being insincere.

“By your command, let it be done,” the man replied pleasantly, the serving boy didn’t comprehend the language and thus he needed to be waved away to understand he was dismissed- the Center was fond of bringing over children from the Middle Kingdom to serve- they were ignorant of the languages spoken and were limited to living entirely within the Center to ensure there would be no information leaks from the Center- though if Bei’s conversation with the Center’s Light Bearer had been any indication, there was nothing sufficiently scandalous to be leaked short of the Imperator’s two concubines, and this would hardly damage Hostillia too much even if it did come out, it was kept quiet primarily out of a sense of friendship with the Shalumite leader. Bei Lü led the way to a small area which was covered in shade by a plumb tree, the wounded ground had only just recovered recently from where they had planted the fully grown tree not long ego, but now the grass had taken root and recent rains had nourished it into a comfortable sitting area- not that Bei had any faith that the Princess would sit on the ground, fortunately there was also a marble bench and table in the shade to provide a resting area, it overlooked the pond and enjoyed a cooler temperature from the breeze sweeping over the pond. After they were comfortably seated, the man spoke again- “I do hope my invitation did not prove an inconvenience to you, but I appreciate immensely your decision to come here. Our two nations, the Middle Kingdom and the Democratic States, are allies and comrades, and surely our friendship is to be admired by all nations as a model relationship for peaceful cooperation in this world of darkness, your coming serves only to reinforce this unwavering belief.”

“An invitation to treat with allies is never an inconvenience,” Allaria responded somewhat dryly as she eased herself into the seat underneath the plum tree by the pond. She enjoyed the coolness of the shade as he shielded her fair skin from the sun’s harmful rays. “I am curious, because I am not entirely certain...how did these two nations come to be allies and comrades, as you so eloquently put it?”

“A very interesting question,” the man responded calmly, “it is good of you to be so curious as to the origins of our nation’s friendship. Alas, graceful Princess, I cannot confess to be well learned on the matter of how our relations became so harmonious as they are today, I must then conclude that it was merely a result of providence.” His voice was smooth and seemed entirely genuine, as if he fully considered and believed every syllable he offered to her. “I would imagine, that the Divine Empire and the Democratic States are simply destined to walk the path of friendship for generations yet to come, and for this I will thank the Ancestors.” He bowed his head for a moment as he considered, “of course, you are the daughter of the Imperator himself, ruler of all in the nation- surely if you desire to know the history of relations between our two nations he, as the ruler and supreme authority within Shalum, would have all the answers you may seek, would not you imagine?”

“I would not,” Allaria answered with a smile. “For I can seek his counsel anytime, as you say. But seldom would I have the opportunity to learn the nature of it from the other side. Perhaps it is as you say...providence.” Bullshit. “Although, I am assuming that is what this is about. One day the Imperator, dare I say, shall be gone, and when that day transpires, my husband and I shall rule. At which point, we shall be in a position to assess our alliances and their value accordingly,” Allaria said as she shifted in her seat. “This might be better done over tea, I suspect...and you did have some for me, as indicated in the message, yes?”

“We must be very careful to speak such things, lest we should inspire the demons to action I think,” he replied, he sighed heavily as he nodded, “but what you have said is true- there will come a day when all men must undertake the great journey to join their Ancestors in the Celestial Kingdom. Though, it keeps still my heart for the people of Shalum to know that they will have such capable and competent leadership- surely the divines have seen fit to bless the nation of Shalum, for even in the darkness of Tyler’s ascension they will have the light to guide them.” He paused for a moment, as if he was silently praying a prayer to his Ancestors for the health and security of Tyler Holland, to deflect the intentions of the demons who may have overheard the conversation. “I am but a low born man of humble origins, yet even I know that it is my duty to respect the legacy of my lineage- I am certain that those so noble as yourself will rule with the utmost filial piety out of respect to your lord father.” A smile crossed his face whenever she mentioned the tea, something he himself was looking forward to, “all things are better when combined with the most delectable of delicacies, your tea will certainly be done shortly- it is a special brew you see, worthy for you as a Princess, and thus we could not make it in advance for fear that it might cool and lose its flavor, I am sure you understand Majesty.

“Of course,” Allaria nodded. “So, what exactly does this business pertain to? Something about...offering my husband pleasures. A curious proposition, for I wonder what he can be offered that he doesn’t already have,” she said that last part with a grin.

Before the man could answer, the same serving boy returned with a silver tray, upon which was a simple clay pot that had been painted green, steam came out of the stoute testifying that it had just recently been brewed and that this was now an ideal time to drink it. Other than the teapot, there were two small porcelain cups which were decorated to display hummingbirds frolicking in a bath. The serving boy poured the tea delicately into each cup, careful not to spill a drop, and then bowed low as he handed the first cup to the Princess with both hands, before giving the second cup to Bei without so much formality.

“Ah, the tea of the white dragon,” Bei said as he inhaled the aromas of the cup, “this tea is carefully grown and prayed over before picked- the entire process is done by hand, the hands of a small village community who have been growing this tea for over a thousand years actually,” he remarked, it was a green tea grown from a white tea tree which was especially unusual. “The villagers believe that when their village was in a time of immense trouble, the white dragon came up out of the sea and taught them the secret to grow this particular variety of tea, and thus they have done ever since,” he added to give her some additional background, though he suspected she would not care. “Do you like the cups? They date back to the Hui Dynasty, they’re likely over five hundred years old, though we try to keep them in good shape of course.”

“That is most interesting,” Allaria said lazily. “In Ghant, white dragons are said to inhabit the most cold and remote lands, making dens deep within the ice. There is another meaning of the term white dragon, but let’s not get into that,” she smirked. “Anyway, thank you for the tea, I am sure it will be very good.”

“I do hope you enjoy it, though if not we have scores of varieties and I would be eager to go through them all until we find one most well suited for your tastes,” his offer seemed genuine enough and he took a moment to take a small sip of his tea, savoring the flavors which were enhanced by the clay teapot, the tea had to be carried in clay, not porcelain or its flavor would be destroyed. “You asked about the pleasures of the world a moment ago, and I say to you- a very astute observation, surely there is nothing the Prince lacks and if any such problem were to arise it would be quickly remedied,” he said politely. “However, this is also true of the Imperator, he has a beauty wife, excellent children who married equally excellent individuals, he has authority over the realm, and prestige and respect internationally- however, there are some things that we Han feel to have been generally lost outside the boundaries of the Middle Kingdom.” He paused for a moment to take another sip, “tell me Princess, do you know of the arrangement that your father currently enjoys?”

“I have a general idea...and it involves concubines,” Allaria said politely while examining her tea. “Some men take their marriage vows more seriously than others. What Tyler and Allison do with their marriage is their own business. Yet, what goes on between Matthew and I, well, that is an area in which I have some say, as I am sure you recognize,” she explained before taking a sip of tea. “This is quite good indeed.”

“Concubines, yes,” the man said contemplatively as he sipped his tea, “I’m sure you’re aware, you and I speak different languages. Have you ever studied languages extensively, one so educated as yourself surely has,” he nodded while he pondered, “languages are beautiful do you think? I think so. They have a unique means of capturing culture- for example, when I say ‘ji’ I do not hear a negative term, but when you say ‘concubine’ you seem to find it somewhat distasteful, tell me, what does a concubine mean in this cultural context that you find it so?” His voice was kept polite and almost conversational, she didn’t seem to be enjoying his company but it was pleasant to have the opportunity to speak to her, barbarian women were always so… interesting. “As surely as the mountain holds up the skies, the wife supports her husband- your authority within your relationship is certainly unquestioned kind Princess, I will of course respect your wishes in all things- this is why I invited you here to speak with me before ever sending word to your husband, a gesture I hope demonstrates my respect, though I genuinely believe that there is room for agreement on these matters, after all we all want what is best for your husband, and so I am of course willing to yield to your vastly superior judgement on all matters relating to Matthew.”

“In Ghant, a concubine is known as an ‘ohaide’, which serves the same purpose from a Roman perspective, which you might be familiar with. Tis a female companion, and one that is neither a man’s wife nor one of appropriate rank to be considered one by an eligible bachelor. Generally speaking, their services are sexual in nature. That isn’t something that sits well with me, unfortunately, for I do not wish to share my husband’s affections with other women,” Allaria explained candidly in between sips of tea.

“Very interesting to learn,” the man responded with a perplexed expression, he seemed to ponder this for a moment, bringing one hand up to rub at his chin as he furrowed his brow and thought deeply, “curious indeed,” he finally concluded. “Can salt ever taste sweet? I am certain you are aware that we Han are a fairly… unique people, our culture has been allowed to develop free of outside influences, such as Rome.” He took a moment to sip from his tea before continuing, “you see, in the Middle Kingdom concubines are considerably more than mere sexual servants. Are you familiar with the ideology of yin and yang? We believe that everything in the universe must exist in balance, it is central to our philosophy, and this means that great men, such as Matthew, attract great women such as yourself,” he took another sip, “this is because his yin must be balanced by your yang, and love can blossom when these two are aligned in heart and spirit, but this can only happen after balance in achieved. Unfortunately, we noticed very early on that great women are often busy women- I know that the Imperatrix is responsible for wide ranging duties and is frequently away giving a speech or leading a policy effort, and the same goes for Tyler. As you are a pairing of equal magnitude in matters of greatness, it seems natural this would be true of yourselves also.” He smiled a bit.

“You see, the Han understand that women and men are supposed to do more than coexist, they allow for the other’s existence- and so, if you were to be away fulfilling noble duties, who would balance Matthew’s yin with yang?” He didn’t say anything for a moment before continuing, “in Hostillia, concubines are companions and care providers- they are servants to serve in the house, and provide a perfect model of obedience. They are not purely sexual beings, they are there to ensure balance does not leave a home, they are only used sexually at the whim of their master, and generally only then in the event that he is unsatisfied with his wife- after all, why would a man leave a mountain lake to drink from a dirty stream? Surely this would be madness.” He sighed, “I am not doing our culture justice, concubines are a very hard concept to express in a non-native tongue you see? They are like servants, but they are more than servants they are bound by a heavenly, innocent affection to their master- but they are not sex slaves, this is a non-Han tradition that only sprouts in Hostillia when there is disharmony between husband and wife.” His brown eyes casually glanced around before meeting her gaze, “some men take their wedding vows more seriously than others- does your husband? If not, then perhaps this would present too great a temptation, but if your relationship is secure then there is no worry that he would be tempted to be led astray, and you fair Princess are the embodiment of- what is the name? Venus, I think.”

Allaria leaned back in her chair and listened with a slightly cocked head as she sipped her tea. “Well then, that’s an interesting perspective,” she said acknowledgingly. “So...what about this, then? I will talk to Matthew myself about it, and I will tell him that I would be fine with these concubines of yours, provided he assures me they will not be used in a sexual manner that would dishonor me. Does that sound fair?”

“Surely the sun does not ask the opinion of the snake where to cast its warmth, the serpent must slither wherever the sun should cast her beams, and there the serpent must be content,” the man responded, dropping eye contact as he bowed his head. “You should know that if you are comfortable with concubines, and if your husband feels that his yin must be balanced in your woeful absence, that we would be happy to accommodate you,” he finished his tea and placed the cup on the waiting silver tray, “you see, there is much difference between your culture and ours, this is why the Middle Kingdom is so eager to provide concubines to your husband and also to Tyler, because concubines will be able to share our culture with you and in doing so we make great progress in bridging the cultural gap between us, that our nations may forever have their feet firmly planted on the path of friendship and prosperity.” He smiled at her, “surely Heaven keeps their eyes fixed on you in envy, how could your husband’s ever wander? Please speak with him if you would, and may your Ancestors guide your decision.”

“Thank you, you are very kind,” Allaria said as she finished her tea and pushed herself up from her seat. “By the way...the Emperor of Ghant is in the business of taking concubines of late...perhaps the time draws near to... share your culture with Ghant, and bring enlightenment to a nation shrouded in cold and darkness,” she said with a smile. “Until next time.” Allaria made her way back towards the front gate, and approached the sedan that brought her there.

Waiting at the car for the High Princess were her security team members, who had been left to wait patiently while she conducted her business. As she approached, the driver clambered in, and the captain of the guard opened the door for her, smiling slightly as he dipped his head in acknowledgement of her rank. “I hope everything went well, ma’am.” He said quietly as he slipped into the passenger seat. The car ride back to the palace took the same route as it had to the CBE, of course.

“Quite well, thank you,” Allaria said as she climbed into her seat and strapped herself in. “This child in my belly really seems to enjoy tea all of a sudden. Oh how I crave more of it. Also, I do trust that you have not been too hot.”

The guard captain shook his head and rolled down the window slightly. “No ma’am, the wait was fine. We found some shade and that was that.” He chuckled, running a hand through his hair as he sat his cap on his knee.

“I found some shade too, in the form of a plum tree. I fear my skin burns quite easily, and I have not endured a full Shalumite summer yet either,” Allaria lamented. “There is only so much sunblock in the world.”

The guard nodded. “That is good to hear, ma’am, shade is as good for you as it is the heir.” He replied. “Thankfully, we are already nearing the palace.” He said as he gazed out the window. Another few minutes passed before they rolled through the front gate of the palace, coming to a stop at the front of it.

“Thank you Captain, now I just need to find Matthew. Do you know where he is?” Allaria asked.

The captain smiled. “You’re in luck, I do actually. He is in your marriage chambers. Something about taking a nap, I believe.” He replied. “Do you need escort, or do you want to be alone?”

“An escort would be nice, if only because I feel better having strong able-bodied men to keep me safe with the heir in my tummy,” Allaria said with a smile. “If you don’t mind that is.”

The captain chuckled and motioned toward his men, who fell in behind them as they walked. He kept close, ready to catch her if need be. “Of course, it is no trouble at all, ma’am. We’re happy to escort you.” He replied as they stepped into the much cooler palace main hall. They began to head toward the east wing of the palace, where Matthew and Allaria lived, the carpet crunching underfoot.

When she returned to their chambers, she looked around and called out, “Matthew.” It felt much better inside...much cooler.

“Yes my love?” Matthew replied as he walked through their chambers, which was more like a large penthouse by design. He had been watching a soccer match in their living room of sorts. He smiled as he neared, brown eyes alight with affection as he approached her. He gently hugged her and rested a hand on her swollen stomach with love in his eyes. “How are you doing?” He before kissing her lips lightly.

“Quite alright, thank you. Come, have a seat, I need to talk to you about something serious...it is both a matter of state and of a personal nature,” Allaria said after kissing him back and rubbing his arm.

Matthew raised an eyebrow at her words, but nodded in acknowledgement. He interlaced his fingers with her own and led her to the couch, muting the game but not turning it off as he took his seat beside her. “What is it, maite? I didn’t know there was anything especially serious going on at the moment.” He said quietly, keep a hand on her tummy.

“I received a message from the Center for Barbarian Enlightenment about a private audience. So I went down there, talked to them, and came back to talk to you about it. Regarding concubines...like what your father has. They want you to have them too.” Allaria explained, still a bit unsure about it herself, and her eyes reflected a certain apprehension that flavored her words.

Matthew was quiet for a long moment as he mulled over what she had told him. He knew that she had left earlier to visit the center, but he didn’t know that it was going to be about a matter such as she had described. “They want me to have them too, huh?” He questioned with a raised eyebrow. It was something he had never given much thought, really, but he wasn’t necessarily opposed. He had met both of his father’s concubines, they were nice girls who were respectful and kind as the day was long. “I must admit, that is something I wasn’t expecting to hear. It is an...interesting offer, to say the least.” He replied truthfully, meeting her eyes with his own.

“...Do you want them?” Allaria asked him directly, eyes searching his. “If you had them, no sex...unless you ask me first. I which case I would leave you so spent you would have nothing left for them,” she giggled.

Matthew nodded, albeit very slowly.. “I must admit, it is an offer that I can’t quite bring myself to turn down. My father certainly loves having them around, I am sure there is a reason for that.” He chuckled quietly. “And yes, I know they do other things besides sex. And that offer is tempting, coming from you.” He smiled, now lowering his hand to rub her thigh. “I will admit, I would like to keep sex...on the table, if only to have it there. You know me Allaria, your the center of my world, but Imperators throughout history have had tough times come upon them, and their wives sometimes must go away. No matter what, I will always love you.” He promised, leaning forward to kiss her. “And what qualifies as sex, by the way, when it comes to you?”

She looked at him with narrowed eyes. “Any act of a sexual nature. Listen, all I am saying is that you should at least ask me first, that way I don’t feel as though you have dishonored me. You shouldn’t have to be going to other women to get your satisfaction, but if you had to, I would at least like some heads up, you know what I mean?”

Matthew quickly saw the look in her eyes and nodded, more seriously now as he continued to rub her thigh in a affectionate manner. In his eyes, it was clear that he was speaking the truth. “Allaria, I love you more than you will ever know. You’re the center of my world, and the mother of my child, I would never seek to dishonor you. You have my word, if it ever comes down to it, I will seek your permission first. I don’t even know how this will go down, or who see will be yet, so I really don’t know.” He shrugged slightly. “But in any case, know that I will talk to you first, my moon and stars.”

Allaria smiled at that. “Thank you, that means alot to me. Now if you want them, I won’t deny you them. I don’t see the harm in having them around, so as long as you keep your word to me,” she assured him. “By the way, do you want to find out what the baby is, or do you want it to be a surprise?”

Matthew smiled brightly, feeling accomplished that he was now going to have one or two of his own. In Shalumite culture, it was a big deal for an Imperator to have one, at least in the past. “Of course.” He paused and glanced down at her tummy. “Hmm. Might as well and make it a surprise. As long as its got ten little cute fingers and ten little cute toes, and it healthy, I’m going to be happy.” He smiled.

“Spectacular,” Allaria beamed. “Oh, there is one other thing. Is there any chance that your father can talk to the Hostillians about relations with Ghant? They are severely lacking, after all.”

Matthew grinned and kissed her cheek. “Sure, I can do that. Not sure how it will go though, but in any case I will try. The Hostillians are insular people, not the most outgoing, especially outside of Belisaria. It has taken us a long time to get to where we are with them.”

“Of course. I thank though in any event. And they had exceptional tea at the CBE. Perchance we can have some of it here too? Your baby likes it quite a bit,” she laughed.

Matthew chuckled and rubbed her tummy. At times, he found it hard to believe that this was all real, and that he was this lucky to have a woman like her in his life. “I will see what I can do. I’m sure a string or two can be pulled.” He grinned.

“Well, if you are not terribly busy, I have a few strings you can start with,” she smirked devilishly.

Matthew smirked right back at her, and the hand that was on her thigh suddenly went lower, disappearing beneath the fabric of what she was wearing. He leaned in close, breath tickling her nose. “Oh, you do huh? I think I can help there. I hear I’m pretty good with pulling, pushing, pumping, whatever really.” He chuckled.

“Oh, you certainly are,” she said with a gasp, enjoying that he was hers and only hers...at least for now anyway.
Last edited by Ghant on Sat Apr 25, 2015 12:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Hostillia
Envoy
 
Posts: 311
Founded: Aug 31, 2012
Ex-Nation

Postby Hostillia » Thu Apr 23, 2015 12:03 pm

"Barbarian Enlightenment II"
The Center for Barbarian Enlightenment,
The Hills Outside of Aragon, Shaulm


The Center for Barbarian Enlightenment was a wonderful little place nestled in the hills outside of the hustle and bustle of the city which could be seen clinging to the coast in the valley below. Shalum certainly had some beauty to it, the trees which sprouted up and forested some of the hills a small distance away, carefully placed on another hill, the Imperator’s Palace could be seen, large and lavished. The Palace wielded a commanding view of the countryside, the city, and the Center, and seemed to radiate the authority of the man enthroned inside. By comparison, the Center was small, almost impotent- but this was merely an illusion, the Center acted to advance the policies and the objectives of the Han and this made granted it a natural authority for there were few countries where the Han interests were as realized as they were in the Democratic States. Bei Lü had enjoyed his brief meeting with the High Princess, wife of Matthew Holland, son of Tyler Holland, Imperator of the Democratic States- he was happy to have spoken with her if only because of her rank, a low born like himself had few opportunities to speak to those at the very top of the ladder, though, Bei reflected with a smile as he reclined in the comfortable, lush grass under the shade of the plumb tree, many things in his life were changing and changing rapidly. The stars had finally aligned. With a smile on his face he reached up and grabbed one of the plumbs that was hanging so low on the tree- low hanging fruit, he thought as he took a bite and felt the sweet flavors explode in his mouth and the delicious cool juices flowing down his chin. No one paid attention to the fruits on the bottom of the tree, they were too easy to grab and left for the animals, but, did that mean they were any less sweet? No. If one was willing to grab them, they could be just as satisfied as the man who climbed up to the very top of the tree to pick his fruit- the difference between Bei and the more ambitious man who ate the fruit from the top of the tree? Bei didn’t risk death or injury by climbing too quickly up a ladder.

“Excuse me Nan (Baron) Bei,” the man looked up from where he pondered the mysteries of fruit trees and life to behold the serving boy, though this time he came without the silver tray or offerings of food or drink, the man indicated that he was listening and the boy continued, “the Center Coordinator would like to speak with you, if you have a free moment,” the boy offered with a low bow.

“Who am I to refuse the Coordinator? I will go and see him at once,” he replied, rising from the grass and taking another bite out of the plumb, a plumb from Shalum or a plumb from Tiantang, all tasted the same it seemed. He paused a moment to peer into the pond, watching the large orange koi swim circles in the cool water, on one hand it must be nice to be a fish, no responsibilities and no obligations, of course, on the other hand you were just as likely to be plucked from your home and thrown on the fire for those with an appetite for fish, nothing without its drawbacks, he supposed. Leaving the garden, he entered the comfortable halls of the Center itself, he had only been here a week or so now but he had learned their twists and turns well, and so it was no difficulty guiding himself easily into the Coordinator’s office. The office was not exquisite, but rather it was quite simple- a few calligraphy works hung on the walls as scrolls, and there were some invitingly plush sitting pillows placed around a low table, but other than that the room was relatively undecorated, the floor was made of bamboo and the walls were comfortably plain. There was a porcelain tea pot on the table along with two cups, though the man seemed calm enough in the face, his hand had a small shake as he brought the delicate cup to his lips for a long drink, the Coordinator put the cup down only long enough to refill it to the brim before bringing it back to his lips for another long gulp. “A thousand salutations wise Coordinator,today you glow with the radiance of a single sun rather than a hundred- are you feeling comfortable today?”

“Does the fly feel comfortable in the spider’s web,” the man responded between drinks, his face was offering its best effort at a facade, his grey eyes stoic, his beard framing his noble face handsomely, his hair was done up in a bun, popular in the capital. “I’ve heard a story about two doves, they were very good friends these doves because they had learned to fly in the same forest and had flown in the same flock ever since. But one day, the larger dove said unto the smaller, ‘the head of the flock has told me there is a land to the east with good places to nest and much to eat, let us go there and make a nest,’ however, when they arrived they learned that this was a domain of hawks and it was very dangerous. The smaller dove said, ‘why would the leader of the flock send us here where we are in danger,’ and it was only then that the larger dove admitted he had taken them here of his own thoughts, and not by the permission of the flock, and so they were trapped in a dangerous land.” He refilled his cup before continuing, “When you came here, when I arranged a meeting between you and the Imperator, when you brought the Princess to these grounds- I was assuming you had done so with the blessings of Shengjing, Bei.”

“Do not be so alarmed my flock brother,” Bei replied calmly, sipping from his cup for the first time, “does the sun now deny knowing the movements of the desert herds? You know I would never have been allowed to leave the Middle Kingdom- I am too closely watched. But there are somethings big enough that we must make some sacrifices and accept some dangers, for the sake of our Emperor- I had to risk coming here and soon I will risk returning, all under the cover of darkness this is my risk. Your sacrifice is to endure what little trouble I might cause you here but do not be so paranoid, your Center just made huge progress in convincing the High Prince of Shalum to acquire a Han concubine- the Imperator and now his son? Your name will be song in the House of Yu and I would wager the Madame herself would intervene on your behalf if there was great trials brought against you my friend.”

“You have been a good friend to me Lü,” the man responded in a sigh, “I owe you at least that much- but how can I continue to support you with such devotion if you will not allow me more knowledge of your aims and goals, we must be partners or surely we will both be swept away by the forces more powerful than we.” He produced a small key from his pocket, using it to unlock a tiny chest sat on the ground near the sitting table, opening it to reveal a small sum of silver, the stamp of the Center, and the files relating to the concubines Xumin and hatara, owend by the Imperator. Included in the few things the Coordinator felt it necessary to guard was a small envelope, the seal of the Forbidden Palace stamped firmly on it. “You’ve brought us into the spider’s web,” he said grimly as he handed the envelope to the other man, Bei could see it had already been opened and read by the Coordinator and frowned a little as he grabbed it. These Centers were the result of initiatives by the Madame, what would Shengjing care about their ongoings?

Dearest Coordinator,

I have a story to tell you. There once was a simple hound mutt, this mutt was nothing remarkable, merely a dog like any other. Entirely normal except for one thing- the mutt had an odd coat of fur, vaguely reddish which made him quite the wonder among the dogs of his poor, back alley pack. The filthy dog was very fond of his reddish coat, and one day he thought to himself, ‘if foxes are red and I am red, then why am I not a fox?’ From that point on the mangy mutt made it his life’s work to ensure everyone knew that he was in fact, a brilliant and beautiful fox. Oh, how he pranced, and oh how pridefully he walked- all of the dogs were very impressed but the other animals of the world looked down on him and thought of him as a pretender for indeed he was. One day, the dog (who truly thought himself a fox at this point, for one can only act in a false manner and claim an untrue status so long before they have forgotten reality) came across a spider. The dog-fox had heard of the spider before, rumors circulated the country that this spider had a unique type of venom which was especially lethal- but the dog-fox believed it not, after all, if he was not truly a fox could the spider be truly dangerous? He boasted to the spider and was fond of walking through the spider’s web, caring not for the carefully made designs the spider had placed there. In his lie, this not-fox has grown arrogant. And then one day, he found himself bitten and died soon after. You see, foxes are quite clever and thinking himself a fox this dog attempted to outwit the spider, only to find himself bitten and dying. Sadly, his pelt was not taken by any for, in his death, even the most ignorant of animals could see that this was no fox, merely an arrogant dog.

I hope you have enjoyed my little story Coordinator, I thought you might enjoy it or gain from it some unique insight. Also, do tell your friend Bei Lü that I send my greetings to him. It was very odd to discover he had left the Middle Kingdom, most men of his status as shearing sheep or attending their crops in this season, but it is good to know that he has the leisure time to visit friends. As long as I am making requests of you Coordinator, tell me- is it true that Bei has recently begun styling himself ‘the fox’ I have heard rumors of such in the capital, I wonder what they call me? Anyways, blessings from the Ancestors on you and your work Coordinator, may you enjoy healthy and long life.

Your Humble Servant,
Shun Lim


“Well,” Bei said as he leaned back in his chair, folding the letter and handing it back to his friend, “I got the distinct impression he does not like me,” he added with a small chuckle. “Though its good to know he is concerned with my crops… and my pelt.” The Coordinator seemed to take no humor in the conversation, “I apologize for this matter, just write the not-man back and tell him I am very good health, that you enjoyed his little story and understood its meaning. I’ll be leaving any day now and you can claim you have sent me away as not to inspire his fury and all will be well here,” though he kept his good humored wit about him, the letter was unsettling- he had taken special precautions to keep word of his visit from reaching the eunuch and it had made it to his ears either way. Maybe when they took your balls they gave you another set of ears. “I’ll make some final arrangements and then be off, fret not my friend.”

“If the stream didn’t water the trees, the trees would be unhappy with the divide it creates,” the man responded without much mirth. “What have you gotten us into?” Bei Lü offered little in means of response other than an understanding, reassuring smile before he bowed and exited the room. He appreciated the amount of work that went into to decorating the Center, it took his mind off things as he walked, passing by large and intricately carved arches that led into simple side gardens that had been set aside for quiet thinking and meditation. He found her almost precisely where he expected to, off a ways from the main structure of the Center, sitting on a small, moss covered stone among pretty violet flowered bushes. A series of rectangular stones, partially buried, acted as steps down to where she sat, her eyes focused on a simple green pond, the frogs which sang their tunes there, hoping occasionally from one lily pad to the next. It was a place of extreme serenity.

“Tianshi,” he called to her as he approached, it was a term of endearment he reserved specifically for her, but she kept her eyes fixed on the pond before her. She was indeed a work of beauty, standing at only 5’4 she was about average height for a Han woman though that was the extent of her averageness. Her eyes were a gentle grey color which immediately distinguished her as only a part-Han, a fair bit of minority blood in her veins. Her hair was not the standard jet black of most of her people but rather a light golden brown which freely mingled with strands of darker browns and black. Her face was delicate and round, and her skin was as smooth and flawless as virginal snow. Her beauty alone was enough to justify her being a dominating member of any wealthy man’s harem, but the fact that she had been formally trained at the Imperial College of the Sensual Arts made her all the more desirable. She still hadn’t made eye contact, it suggested she was upset which hurt him, “Tianshi,” he said again, more softly as he sat beside her and placed one hand on the cool skin of her shoulder, “what’s the matter?”

“I don’t want to be his whore,” she responded simply, even when she grieved her voice was as sweet as nectar, he sighed deeply at the comment. He took her hand in his and tried to compel her to look at him, but her eyes stayed fixed with an uninterested gaze cast out on the lake.

“You won’t be a whore,” Bei responded kindly, “you’ll be a concubine- and for a Prince even, there is a big difference between a whore and a concubine,” he added trying to make the matter sound more appealing than she seemed to be willing to believe it to be. Half the girls in the Middle Kingdom would be thrilled at such an opportunity, but not his Xiang. Too principled, but that was why he loved her.

“The only difference is that a poor man rents a whore in a brothel, while a rich man buys a concubine to put her in a harem,” his eyes narrowed at her sharp tongue, wishing not for the first time that she was more submissive like other girls, but knowing he could never love a meek woman like he did her. “A Prince,” she added after a moment, laughing softly- a calm waterfall of giggles but with no great pleasure, “he may have whatever title he fancies, he is still a man.”

“Tianshi,” he sighed pinching the bridge of his nose, “people like us don’t have the option of an arrangement based on love, and even if we could have such a marriage such relationships rarely work.” He shook his head, restraining another sight, “I understand this may not be ideal in the traditional sense, but it is available. You with a Prince, imagine! We must take the course that fate has provided us,” he squeezed her hand a little, and for the first time in the conversation she turned to face him. There was sadness in those grey eyes, pink lips forming a small pout.

“You’ve always said the only fate we follow is the one we forge ourselves.”

“I know tianshi,” he replied- he hated very few things more than having his own words, especially those words that he actually meant and believed in, used against him.

“You’re too clever for your own good,” she added seeing the words had some effect. If the circumstances hadn’t been as serious he would have laughed, twice he’d been told that in less than an hour.

“Please, Xiang, try to understand. This is a perilous time, and if we are to survive in this era we must make certain sacrifices.” His eyes searched hers, almost pleading with her silently- he didn’t feel right forcing her, like he was selling, betraying one of his own. “You must accept that there are certain ceilings we cannot break unless we crack them first- how much higher can we ascend as we are? Not much, but if you are bound to a Prince. we can climb this ladder even higher, we can taste the fruit from the top of the tree and see if it tastes any sweeter than the fruit we grab at the bottom. Try to understand, Xiang- this is the fate we have forged.”

“I don’t want to be his whore.”

“Fine,” Bei said quietly, leaning forward and kissing her forehead. “Then, for a time, be his lover. And then…” he waited until she had turned her sad grey eyes to meet his intelligent brown, “and then be more than that.”
Last edited by Hostillia on Thu Apr 30, 2015 9:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
"A book is never a masterpiece: it becomes one. Genius is the talent of a dead man." - Carl Sandburg

User avatar
Ghant
Minister
 
Posts: 2410
Founded: Feb 11, 2013
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Ghant » Thu Apr 30, 2015 9:03 am

“A Harmless Retreat"
Imperatorial Palace
Aragon, Shalum

(Co-written by Ghant, Hostillia and Shalum)

High Prince Matthew, Firstborn of House Holland

Your Highness, this is an excellent opportunity to introduce myself. My name is Bang Qili, and I am the Coordinator at the Aragon Center for Barbarian Enlightenment, I have earned the privilege to speak to you directly on a number of matters critical to maintaining and strengthening the friendship of the Middle Kingdom and Shalum. As I am certain you have become aware, your father currently maintains a number of women who serve at his pleasure in many ways which we will not discuss, however, these women are Hostillian Concubines from the Imperial College of the Sensual Arts and your father is thus far exceedingly pleased with these women.

After having taken time to speak to your father, the Imperator of Shalum, he has agreed to permit me to offer unto you an extension of a similar offer. If Your Majesty would be interested, the Center for Barbarian Enlightenment would like to suggest that the High Prince consider adopting a concubine from the Imperial College to service him, particularly we have in mind a young woman by the name of Xiang who is exceedingly eager to serve at your side as your concubine if you would be willing to accept her.

In order to allow you sufficient time to evaluate this woman before making such a permanent decision, the Center is willing to provide seven day sand seven nights to you at a forest estate outside of the city of Olympia which we are confident will meet your needs. We hope that by escaping the city you and she, alone, may have enough time to come to know each other well and this will allow you to make your decision. Furthermore, your wife has already been spoken to and she is in agreement on these matters and is willing to say no words against your adopting of a concubine.

Please notify us as soon as possible of your decision.

Your Humble Servant,
Coordinator Bang Qili


At the time of the letter’s arrival, Prince Matthew Holland had been exercising at the gym of the Imperatorial Palace, in accordance with the workout regime that he had set for himself. It was brought to him, by hand, through the means of his assistant acting as courier. Surprised by the sending address, he opened the letter carefully, not wanting to rip it or get any sweat on it. He read it over a couple of times, just to be sure that he saw right, before tucking it back away into the envelop it had arrived in. Standing up from the weight bench that he had been using as a seat, he wiped sweat from his brow and went off in search of his wife. This was something he needed to talk to her about sooner than later.

Twas that time of year...Spring Break. Which meant guests. They had all been talking about it for almost a year, and finally the time had come. Allaria was hosting them all for tea in her chambers, talking and laughing and gossiping about those things that young women that age liked to do so about. Boys, clothes, the beach, etc. Present were Allaria and her sister Lilliana, Princess Rebecca, Willow of Langael, Darla Dyn, Elsa Egurrahari, Ella Maedros, Bethany Broga, Jane Mutu, and even the Red Princess herself, in a matching red dress the same color as her hair. Mollie Elden was there as well, and Arietta at that particular moment in time probed her.

“So, Mollie...why don’t you tell us about James Broda?” the Red Princess gave her a sly look, and the other girls started giggling.

The half-Azzie girl took a sip of her tea before she spoke, a certain glint in her eye as she regarded the Red Princess with a look that could be considered matching. “Well, it was certainly an...interesting experience. That boy--er--man I should say, really knows how to handle himself. He was a lot of talk though, I’m not sure how well he was able to handle that Azzie fire.” She grinned.

Ella leaned in over the table with a grin. “I heard, that when he got back to Ghant, he was walking around bowlegged!” the other girls began to laugh at that, especially Arietta.

Mollie’s grin widened as she leaned back in her seat, legs crossed as she suppressed memories of the night in question. She halfway wished that James was around, another night with him would have certainly done her some good. “I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that. He was all talk, but I think he got a bit overwhelmed. I had to put him in his place, you know?” She giggled.

“Well,” Bethany Broga began, “ He and some other dashing young men are in Shalum for Spring Break too...they rented out a place on the beach. No doubt they intend to make their ambitions known to us soon enough.”

“...OMG, what if James means to court you, Mollie?” Lady Elsa beamed. “Make you a right proper highborn lady!”

“She already is one in my book,” Lilliana pointed out with a smile.

Mollie smiled as she looked around at the girls fondly. “Why thank you. I must admit, I don’t think I could simply pass on an offer like that. Only time will tell I suppose. I do hope to run into him later on, in any case.” She smiled, before taking a sip of her tea.

As it turned out, Matthew had not been informed that his wife was going to be hosting company at this particular hour. Of course, he knew that her friends were going to be visiting for spring break. So, as he approached the door to his chambers, he didn’t even think about it, otherwise he might have gone and changed into something a bit more formal. As it was, he was wearing a short sleeve shirt and shorts, which did little to cover up his muscular form that many women found attractive. He gripped the door and stepped into the chambers that he and his wife shared. Stepping in, he blinked in surprise as he saw an assortment of women chatting with one another.

Whatever conversation and laughter was taking place died the moment Matthew entered the room, as all the Ghantish girls turned their heads and stared in awe with wide eyes and mouths agape. Amidst the awkward silence, Arietta merely smirked as she sipped some tea, the lone movement and sound coming from the Red Princess herself. The other girls looked shyly away, although Darla Dyn only did so after trembling a bit in awe.

Matthew looked to Darla Dyn with a smirk. Aw, I can see you dearie. Why don't you take a picture, something that'll last longer. Or better yet, ask my wife and I can give you something to actually tremble about.

“Matthew, my dear, welcome,” Allaria said with a smile. “Let me introduce my guests that you might not already know.” She gestured towards them as she named them off. “Ladies Darla Dyn, Willow of Langael, Elsa Egurrahari, Ella Maedros, Bethany Broga and Jane Mutu.” The girls all inclined their heads and smiled. “And Arietta of course.”

“Good to see you again, o High Prince,” Arietta said whimsically. “You look to be in...good form. Dare I even say you look your best when you are dripping in sweat and in tight clothes.” The other girls giggled under their breath, while Allaria could only blush.

“Well, I certainly do like him in said state,” Allaria couldn’t help but say, making the other girls snigger under their breaths.

Matthew couldn’t help but grin slightly as he looked around at all the ladies. He was an observant person, and the various looks that had been sent his way had not gone unnoticed. It made him feel rather proud really, to have so many good looking women admire him in such a way. “Well, I must say, it is certainly an honor to be in the company of so many women as beautiful as yourself.” He replied, voice deep and calm as he walked forward, shirt soaked with sweat clinging to his toned arms and chest. “I am glad you all enjoy it so much, I just got back from the gym in fact. Nice to know my hard work hasn’t been going to waste.” He chuckled, slowly walking further until he stood by the chair that he wise was sitting in. He knelt down on the ground, tall enough that he was at her eye level.

“Yes...not gone to waste like that base in New Edom,” Arietta said nonchalantly as she sipped from her teacup. The other girls gave hushed looks to each other, while Allaria narrowed her eyes.

Much like his wife, Matthew narrowed his eyes slightly as he gazed upon Arietta, crossing his muscular arms as he did so. The girl had a smart mouth, apparently, one that was going to waste when it could have been doing other things. “That may be, Princess, but I do not believe that now is the time for such conversation. We are friends here, not politicians.”

“As you say,” Arietta answered as he pointed her chin up, eyes squinting as she drank some more tea, giving a suddenly austere look.

“Dear Matthew, was there anything I could do for you?” Allaria asked, intently.

The high prince ignored Arietta, and glanced over at his wife, gaze softening as it happened. He leaned in and kissed her on the cheek gently. “There is actually. I received a letter from the...CBE earlier, and I wanted to see if you had a moment.” He said quietly, not wanting the girls to overhear too much.

“Of course,” Allaria answered. “Ladies, if you would excuse me. She gave a look to Lilliana, and Lilliana nodded. That was the drill...when Allaria had to excuse herself, Lilliana had the bridge, so to speak. Allaria just hoped that she could handle the Red Princess...even the Emperor had a hard time of that.

Allaria took Matthew by the hand and led him out to the balcony, and shut the sliding door behind them. “The CBE again?” she asked him, tugging at the folds in her lime green dress as the breeze fluttered through her light brown hair, which was in a bun.

Matthew followed her without protest, gently interlacing their fingers as they went. When they were alone, he nodded. “Yes. A courier brought me this letter earlier.” He explained, removing it from his pocket so that he could hand it to her. “Apparently, the CBE has selected their candidate for my concubine...and they want me to go to Olympus for a few days to evaluate her, in check if she is to my liking, apparently.” He replied.

“I see,” Allaria responded as she examined it closely. “I hope you don’t mind if I insist on accompanying you to Olympus.”

Matthew looked down at his wife intently, not quite sure what to say. Truthfully, he had been hoping to go with this girl alone, so that he could properly ‘evaluate’ without any sort of interference. “Are you sure, maite? You are pregnant.” He pointed out, then glanced back toward the balcony door and into their chambers. “Plus, you have company over, I wouldn’t want to mess up any plans that you many have.” He replied, gently stroking the soft skin of her hand with his thumb.

“Very sure,” Allaria answered with a skeptical look. “There needs to be trust and openness...you know what I mean? I want to see for myself. Don’t worry, I won’t be judgmental or get in the way. But I do want to come along. Lilliana can handle them...so don’t worry about that.”

Matthew paused for a moment, before nodding slowly. “Alright, if that is your wish, then sure. I must warn you though, Olympus is a bit on the hilly and woody side of the spectrum. There may be some hiking involved at one point or another. You may want to pack accordingly.” He explained, leaning forward to wrap his arms around her. “I am not quite sure how these evaluations may go, by the way.” He trailed off after a moment, looking down at her.

“Yeah, well, we shall see. But the important thing is well will be together, and we can do it together too.” Allaria traced his sternum with her finger. “And I will reward you for it later, maite.”

Matthew smiled down warmly at her and rested a hand on her hip, knowing all too well what that sort of reward would be. “Than it is settled, we will travel to Olympus with her together. I guess I should go inform them of that.” He replied.

“Good, we should do that then,” Allaria said with a smile as she opened the sliding door and led him back to the common area of their personal chambers. When they got there, the girls again stopped talking and looked at them as they entered.

Matthew smiled and followed her back into the common area. He glanced around at the girls and nodded slightly. “Sorry for stealing her away ladies, just had to have a quick chat. I can leave if y’all want.”

Allaria cleared her throat. “Some matters of state have come up, and I will be stepping out for awhile. Lilliana is in charge while I am gone.”

“Yes, sister, I can manage. Mollie can help,” Lilliana responded with an incline of her head. Arietta was conspicuously quiet, and still.

“Thank you for that, Lilly.” Matthew smiled kindly at his sister-in-law. “I am confident you will be able to handle things. If you need any additional help, Blackie and John are going to be around. Anyways...I think we need to head out to handle some things, right maite?” He asked, glancing over at his wife.

“Indeed we do. But fear not, for we shall return,” Allaria smiled, before she began to tug on Matthew’s arm to lead him away to get ready.

“That we shall. Have a good day, ladies.” He replied as he followed his wife’s lead by following her out.

After they had departed the room, Arietta raised her eyebrows. “So…” she said with a widening smirk…


ooooooo


Xiang stared out of her window, gazing at the pretty scenery that passed quickly outside the train, trying to ignore the two soldiers that had accompanied her to ensure her safety- the Center had rented out every seat in the train as a precaution, though they were not only trying to keep her out of harm but more importantly trying to keep her out of the media. Tyler had made very clear that while he enjoyed having concubines he would not permit the people over whom he ruled to be likewise aware of this reality, it was a matter of secrecy. What would people say, and more importantly, what would people think? She was a dirty little secret. Sighing softly, she turned her gaze back to the magazine in front of her, it was informing her all about this High Prince, national heartthrob. The article, specifically, was talking about the Ghantish woman who had taken up residency in the Imperator’s Palace and speculating how long it would be until the two were married and children were on the way, she had been told that the Prince was already wed, and thus assumed that the article was somewhat out of date.

“Military service, high born,” she said to herself quietly, feigning a swoon before closing the little booklet and returning her eyes to the outdoors. It reminded her somewhat of home, the small rolling hills, the trees that covered them here and there- back in her home they were a land full of hills and trees in the areas that hadn’t been levelled to promote agriculture, but even the rice paddies had their own unique sense of beauty, and all the people working hard. In most places in Hostillia, the peasants were exploited and oppressed, but not in her homeland the standard of living was higher, the food was sweeter, and all the world was perfect. Oh what she wouldn’t give to be home, but, it was for the sake of her home she was here. She had been tasked with a job, and not an easy one either- a job that harmed her honor, wounded her pride, and hurt her feelings, but for Lü she would endure this, she owed him that much. Besides, it was still possible that this man would be more than a brute who desired her for her body, she didn’t believe Lü would ask her to undertake this if there was no room for happiness in the relationship.

“Mind if I smoke,” one of the soldiers asked her, already pulling out a Nalayan cigarette and producing a flame from the lighter, the question was asked mostly as a formality it seemed. She gazed at him for a moment, barely narrowing her eyes and not speaking a word, he looked back at her for a moment- it was unusual for Han women to look you in the eyes, he shifted uncomfortably. “On second thought,” he said after a moment of silence had passed between them, “I think I’ll step out in between cars and enjoy the scenery and the smoke,” he nodded to her before closing the lighter, standing, and making his way to the back of the car. After he had left she turned her attention back to the great outdoors, relieved she wouldn’t be meeting this High Prince reeking of smoke, it didn’t seem proper.

The train actually went around the town of Olympus, though the pretty city could be seen occasionally from the train in between the hills which dominated this area of Shalum, though if one continued westward they would eventually reach the plains which met Spartianus though that was still some ways off. As the train continued, Xiang could vaguely make out the park where she would be meeting this Matthew Holland, High Prince of the Democratic States. It seemed like a nice park from here, heavily forested, though she had been told there were also some wonderfully serene lakes along with some hiking trails which were not too far from the almost palatial cabin that the Center had secured for the event. She was still pondering these things as the train gradually slowed before coming to a halt at a tiny one room train station a few miles from the outskirts of Olympus but only a thirty men car ride from the cabin.

“We’ve arrived madame,” one of the soldiers stated the obvious after the train had finally stopped rolling, “shall we?” She smiled at his invitation, forgiving him for the smoking incident- it was nice to still hear her native language for just a bit longer, she was fully aware that once she stepped out of the train, if everything went well, it would likely cease being her primary language. Oh the things we do for love. She accepted the hand he offered and rose from her seat, she and the two men assigned to protect her walked without word down the car’s center aisle, they had been told that there was a vehicle waiting for them supplied by the Shalumites that would carry them to the cabin itself. They paused only a moment to wait for the conductor to open the door to the platform, the soldier hopped off and scanned the area for hostiles though, just as he was expecting, he found no such indications. He waited a moment for the conductor to fetch a small block of steps to make the descent from train to platform more gentle.

Xiang stepped carefully onto the first step, once she was out of the train she could feel the coolness of fall coming to greet her, a pleasant coolness, not the biting cold. She was wearing an pretty but simple outfit, a tight (but not whorishly so) skirt which ended just at her knees offered a pleasant view of her legs and a sufficient hint of the curve of her bottom. She also wore an elegant blue blouse made of silk, but because of the weather it was partially covered by an expensive but simple white jacket which gave her some added warmth in the slight breeze. Her hair, a pretty mixing and mingling of light golden brown, darker browns, and a few strands of black was allowed to fall freely at her shoulders and, bounced slightly as she walked, atop her head she was crowned with a stylish white beret. She had brought other clothes as well, those clothes which were more appropriate for the week of activities than this, but she thought it would be good to make a nice first impression, besides, the sun was beginning to dip lower in the sky and soon it would be nighttime, she couldn’t imagine they had too many things planned this late in the evening, other than perhaps supper. She was certainly a pretty thing, her face was soft and round and seemed to suggest an inherent delicacy, not entirely unlike a thornless rose, her lips were a cherry blossom pink, and her stormy gray eyes scanned the platform, carefully searching for this man she was to be bound to, but not finding him.

Instead, she found a woman- an oddly tall woman actually she realized, but pretty. The woman was a young one, with honey brown hair and pretty green eyes. She made a very striking figure in her lime green dress, and not only because she easily towered over Xiang by a good six or seven inches (though fortunately she was wearing two inch heels that offered her some extra height), but also because of how revealing it was. The collarbone, shoulders, and neck were all entirely exposed which stood in sharp contrast to the pretty but conservative outfit worn by Xiang. The look on her face seemed almost aloof, very serious though not exactly cruel. In dissimilarity, Xiang offered the woman a warm smile which matched the kindness in her eyes, she approached, bearing this smile, before offering the woman a fine curtsy comparable to any of the ladies of court.

“High Princess Allaria,” she said, her voice was soft and meek, her english was certainly good but it was not completely without accent, she had bowed her head in an indication of respect, “it is an honor to be in your presence,” she had recognized the woman from the magazine and was familiar enough with proper customs, “my name is Xiang and it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”

Allaria returned a smile, but didn’t curtsey. “Well met, Xiang...the pleasure is mine, rest assured.” The High Princess found her pretty enough. But there is more to her then that. Allaria looked down at the Hostillian woman and raised an eyebrow. “Well, why don’t you tell me about yourself, hm? I came down here to maybe get some one on one time and talk as women.”

“I hardly think I am so worthy as to be invited to speak with a Princess,” she said warmly, her eyes having to look up to meet the woman’s. “I am honored that you might enquire,” she added, “as to my history, what is there to be said? I did spend some time in the Imperial College for the Sensual Arts, the Headmistress thought I was very well accomplished in my studies- though,” she added for the sake of portraying humility, “I assure you there were many girls there who were far more talented than I. After I served my time I traveled the Middle Kingdom for a while, there was the possibility I would be called upon to serve the Son of Heaven or his kin, but this was not to be. Instead I was told I was being sent away to Shalum, where I would act as concubine to the High Prince, an honor beyond words I can assure you.” She smiled and looked away, “I was so excited to come here, they have said only good things about the High Prince, I’m sure I’m just being a little girl, but he does sound like a truly noble man.” She paused for a moment and giggled a little, “Oh but do forgive me, I am certain this is all quite uninteresting to a woman of your high position.”

“On the contrary,” Allaira said with a tilted head. “I find it very interesting. So interesting, in fact, that I wish to know more. For instance...when you say ‘talented’, what do you mean by that?”

“It is so good to hear that you are not entirely depressed by my presence, you are too kind, truly dear Princess,” Xiang responded warmly with a smile, she continued a little bit more hesitantly as if she was almost perplexed by the question, “you mean to say you don’t have such institutions for the finer things in life in Ghant or Shalum, how curious,” she thought for a moment trying to decide how best to introduce the College. “You see, in Hostillia there is a long and storied history of concubinage and several thousand years ago the government determined it was quite odd to use the term concubine as liberally as we did, for you see any woman could be brought into a household under the title of concubine. The Imperial College was established then to create ideal women, who could please those they were assigned to in all matters.” She made sure that the Princess understood before continuing, “when I say talented I mean that there were some girls to whom certain skill sets simply came naturally, what specifically they were most skilled in would have varied from girl to girl of course, the College instructs in all manner of things.”

“I see.” Sounds like a whores college. “I went to a Ladies School myself,” Allaria said as she sat down. “Where we learn how to be proper ladies. Manners, how to speak, how to move, act, so on and so forth. But not...how to please men, you see.” The High Princess eyed her over. “How old are you...have you ever been with a man, dare I ask?”

“Ah I see, so you do have something similar then,” her face had lit up at the description of a ladies school, it was good to know they had some common ground after all. “Yes those are all subjects covered while I studied at the College, along with some others, ceremonies, dancing, singing, story telling, painting, calligraphy, all manner of things.” She seemed as though the Princess had confused her yet again after her comment about pleasing men, “excuse me Princess, I do not know my place,” she said hesitantly, “but how can you say your School did not teach you how to please men,” she asked innocently, “you said you learned how to speak, move, behave, like ladies. Surely being a proper and refined lady pleases men in your country as well as mine. What more could men appreciate than a woman who knows her standing?” Her next questions were equally odd and likewise caught her off guard, “my age, Princess?” She asked before thinking a moment, “well I assure you I do not know, I may be able to recall fifteen, summers maybe? I imagine very few people in the Middle Kingdom could tell you with certainty their age. As for my… history,” she said quietly, almost a whisper, “I would not be permitted to enter your husband’s service were I… defiled.” She spoke very quietly, obviously not comfortable discussing the matter so candidly.

“Because such things, a young lady need not know, not until she learns such things on her own with a proper gentleman,” Allaria answered. “A proper lady does not learn how to do such things. Where I am from, a woman who is...trained in such arts is considered quite low. But do not be ashamed, it is merely a...cultural distinction.” Good god, this girl might be sixteen, and a virgin at that, Allaria thought, horrified. “Xiang, rest assured, you will not be asked to do anything that makes you uncomfortable...do you understand?” Allaria suddenly found herself feeling sad for this girl...and a need to protect her.

“I’m sorry dear Princess,” the girl responded after a moment of silence, “this one is so ignorant of your high speech and cannot comprehend,” she said softly trying very hard not to offend, “I do not understand how you would learn to how to interact with men until after you are forced to interact with them. How is learning proper behavior deemed a low affair in your country, I don’t understand. I thought you just said that you attended a school where such things are taught and surely you aren’t deemed low in your homeland, you are a Princess.” She rubbed her hands together, something to comfort herself, “I do not know what would be asked of me to make me so unhappy, I am a servant Princess, and servants serve without complaint.”

“Uh-huh…” Allaria had to think for a moment about this. Could she regard sex as being so benign? No sense in beating around the bush. “Sex, Xiang...as it were, we do not learn how to please men sexually in Ladies School. We learn about sex...what it means, what it consists of...but not how to do it, if that makes any sense. And that is what I mean...for you are very young, and you shouldn’t have sex until you are ready. Some are only ready when they are young, others old. But the important thing is, it happens when you are ready for it to happen...when you want it...if that makes sense, anyway.”

“Oh dear,” the young woman responded, gasping and covering her mouth with one hand, she had never imagined that the woman, a Princess no less, would be so vulgar. Had she been referring to matters of a sexual nature this entire time she wondered, if so perhaps she should be more disturbed in the woman’s presence than she had known. Sex was, after all, the most intimate act between a man and woman, she hardly understood how any education could be complete without discussing how one would go about achieving the greatest form of pleasure from it, it did strike her as odd, but she would not say as much to a Princess. “I am sorry for my misunderstanding Princess,” she said politely, bowing her head, “I did not mean to cause you offense nor to suggest you were difficult to understand, you are excellent in all ways I am certain.” She said simply, “I appreciate your concern for… for my virtue.”

“Yes, that is the nature of the misunderstanding,” Allaria assured her. “Rest assured though, that such things are of little concern to you at this present time...those services are not required, so you need not worry,” she said, offering a smile.

“Truly,” she seemed quite surprised at that information, “the Prince must truly be an excellent man if he has no desire for my physically, I have heard that there were some couples who were so devoted to each other that such desires never arouse, but they are so rare that I had begun to wonder if it was merely a matter of legend. I will be honored to serve such an honorable man,” she responded with a smile, how often did such men come about. “Odd then that you would request a concubine, I was told that it was physical matters that most often made concubines an attractive option.”

“Well, you are beautiful, and intelligent, and talented in several areas I do not doubt,” Allaria complimented, “and I do not doubt that that Matthew will find you similarly pleasing. Yet he is most honorable indeed, and as such will not make you serve him in such a way.” The High Princess sighed gently, thinking for a moment, before continuing. “And maybe we can be friends...would you like that?”

“You do me too much honor High Princess,” she responded, looking downwards and away as to avoid blushing too badly, though her cheeks had already begun to turn a rosy color at the suggestion of it, “I will serve the High Prince however he may call upon me, and I will not doubt your word he will never summon me for such a matter,” she replied, confident the woman knew her husband well enough but withholding final judgement until she met the man herself. “Can a star be the friend of a sun? Surely not Princess, you are so much greater than I that I truly find it shocking you are not more offended by my presence, let alone would I imagine you would ever grace me with such a title as friend.”

“But isn’t the sun itself a star?” Allaria asked with a smile. “My sister has some friends visiting from Ghant...girls close in age to you. I am sure they would love to meet you and make you feel comfortable and right at home. Don’t worry about a thing.”

“I do appreciate your kindness to me, dear Princess,” she responded- she wasn’t going to mention that the sun and stars are obviously entirely different objects, she would have expected the Princess to know that but perhaps they had odd beliefs on the celestial bodies outside of the Middle Kingdom. “I would doubt I am worthy enough to be introduced to those you consider acquaintances my Princess,” she deferred politely, “but if you would have me meet them I dare not defy you. However,” she said, as if the matter had just reoccured to her, “I should meet the High Prince so that he can… evaluate me,” she said slowly, rubbing her hands together nervously, “oh I fear all of this will be for not,” she finally said, as if it had exploded out of here against her wishes, “why would any man want a concubine like myself when they are graced with a woman as excellent as you?”

“Politics, my dear...politics,” Allaria told her. “For it would appear rude, and disrespectful, to the Middle Kingdom should you have been declined. As allies, it seemed like a prudent course. Don’t be nervous though...when you meet him, I will be there too.” Allaria got up then. “If you don’t mind, I will go speak to him before we all meet. How does that sound?”

“Politics,” she said quietly, not expressing how familiar she was with the term, nor with how she could see it applied here. “Generally, Princess, it is long standing tradition that a concubine be evaluated by a man in private, it is a rather intimate affair generally,” she said, shocked that she wanted to be there for their first meeting, “of course your will, not mine, be done Princess.”

“I see...well, I should be off...and don’t worry, I will see you later,” Allaria said with a smile as she turned around and walked away, back the way she came. I need to talk to Matthew...and I pray to God he will understand.

Matthew had decided to stay rather clear of Allaria and Xiang while they met, and had chosen to lounge in the bedroom that he and Allaria were to be sharing, at least for the time being. He wasn’t sure how things would end up later in the week, after all. As he waited for something to happen, he quietly laid on the bed, watching television. He was dressed comfortably, in khakis and a blue polo shirt, shoes discarded, but not his socks.

Allaria found him there, and said, “Matthew,” to get his attention. As she did so, she walked over to the edge of the bed and sat down beside him.

Using his core muscles, the high prince sat up, not so much as groaning under the strain as he did so. “Yes, maite?” He asked, one dark brown eyebrow slightly raised.

“So, I met Xiang,” Allaria began to explain. “She is a very sweet, intelligent girl...and very young and naive. She looked to be sixteen...poor girl. I feel so bad for her! To think that she was raised to be a concubine, a damned slave, practically, oh it’s horrible,” she began to cry into Matthew’s chest. “You will see for yourself when you meet her...I told her how much of an honorable man you were, and how you wouldn’t make her do anything that a girl that age shouldn’t do. A maiden I tell you, same age as my own sister Bastilla!” Allaria cried.

To be honest, Matthew wasn’t caught off guard in the least by any of this. He knew, more than she would probably expect, how things went on with these concubines from Hostillia. He had been in the company of his father’s own, at one time, after all. They were both nice girls, and both younger than what his wife had told him about Xiang. So, while she might have been shocked, he wasn’t perturbed by this in the least. The world was a bitch after all, and the strong were the ones who survived and thrived.

Even so, he sighed in what one could have considered sadness, and wrapped an arm around Allaria’s shoulder. “I am sure she is. The dossier that I was mailed said that she was a good girl all around. And I must admit, I kinda knew that going in. Not her exact age, of course, they don’t keep those sorts of records, but I did meet my father’s women, which gave me an impression that she would be on the young side of things. I look forward to meeting her.” He replied, rubbing her back gently. “You know me, love. I’m not going to force her to do anything, I’m an honorable man as you said. But if she is willing...what does that mean?” He inquired with a raised eyebrow as he continued to rub her back.

“She’d be willing because she cannot refuse!” Allaria cried. “Please Matthew, she is a child! When you meet her, don’t do anything...it would make me feel much better.”

Matthew wasn’t quite sure what to say, really. He knew what he had been signing up for from the moment this whole idea had been pitched. Cleared his mind of the consequences and all of that. “Maite, I don’t want to offend you, truly I don’t. But...this is pretty much how things go in her nation, to be honest. Shalum has been working with Hostillia for a long time, I should know.” He explained quietly. “I wasn’t planning to force her to strip and kneel or anything like that. I want to get to know her too...and I was planning to go from there.” He replied.

That was when Allaria really began to tear up, and finally she let it out. “Matthew, there is something you should know…” she cried. “I was sexually abused as a little girl...I never told anyone...I was scared...I lost my virginity at 15 by no choice of my own...it was horrible.” she wailed. “I...just...I...don’t know…” she buried her face into his chest and trembled.

“Holy shit.” Was the only thing Matthew could really think of at the revelation. Instinctively, he cradled his wife tighter against his chest, not really sure what to do, or even say for that matter. “Allaria...I’m so...so...sorry. I don’t even know what to say.” He murmured quietly, holding her against him as he went on with low sweet nothings.

“I love you Matthew, and you are the best thing that has ever happened to me,” she sobbed. “I cannot wait to raise your child and your heir. I am excited to welcome Xiang into our lives and I look forward to spending time with her. But please...promise me you won’t...at least not right now...maybe another time…”

Matthew continued to hold her close to him, his chin buried in her brown hair. He was her rock, or was trying to be anyways. “I love you too, never forget that. I look forward to the day when that little tyke is knocking over this and is causing our hair to go grey with stress. You have my word, nothing is going to happen. I wasn’t planning for anything to anyways, not tonight.” He promised quietly, never letting go of her.

The High Princess lifted her face and kissed him on the face and mouth. “You are such a good man! That is why Nathan dislikes you...it is because you make him feel insecure...reminding him of all the things he is not. Just like Prince Martin...a good, honorable, virtuous man who will always do the right thing,” she sat up and wiped the tears away. “...I shouldn’t keep you any longer...I should go clean myself up. I feel alot better now though...thank you, maite.”

Matthew wanted to smile, because he loved her so much, but couldn’t quite do it given the intensity that still lingered in the room. “I try to do the right thing, stay honorable when I can. Sometimes I can’t help like I’ve fallen short now and then.” He sighed, running his free hand through his short hair. “I guess--I guess I should get going as well. I love you maite, and I keep promises.” He said gently, as he unwrapped his arm from around her and slowly stood up, ready to head out.

Allaria did her best to recompose herself, sitting up on the bed. “I have never even seen you fall short, Matthew. The world needs more men like you in it, that much I know to be true.” she sat up and gave him one last kiss, and put her hands on his face with a smile. “I will see you later.”

Matthew smiled, looking into her eyes as he gently reached up and ran his thumb along his cheek. “Than I guess I am doing something right, my love.” He replied after the kiss. “I will see you, and you,” he paused to look down fondly at her stomach. “Later. Goodbye, maite.” He said, before turning and heading out to meet the new concubine.
Last edited by Ghant on Thu Apr 30, 2015 9:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Founded: Feb 11, 2013
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Ghant » Sat May 02, 2015 1:42 pm

"An Imperial Affair"
Palace of Augustus
Castellum ab Alba Imperialis Capital

(Co-written with Lacus Magni)

“You called for me, brother?” Isabella questioned.

The Emperor surrounded by advisors, had papers in his hands and all over the table in front of him. He placed the papers down, “I did, Bella,” he said. He looked over his shoulder,“Leave us,” he said to the men in the room.

The men shuffled out of the room, leaving only Jason Augustus and Isabella present. “What do you need?” she snapped to her brother.

“I was wondering how you’d feel about an official role in government. You’ve proven yourself to be quite resourceful and resilient when called upon before,” Jason said to her. Isabella had previously served the official duties of consort following the death of Jason Augustus’ first wife. It wasn’t a very difficult job for her to fulfill, often not more than a smile and a wave, but at times she was required to attend state functions and even exert some soft power.

“I don’t know, Jason. I was happy to fill in after Stephanie’s untimely passing, but I just can’t stand being in the capital for any longer than I have to be,” she told her brother. Isabella spent most of her time in the western Greek provinces and held a general disdain for all things in the capital.

The Emperor sighed, “I’m aware, sister. But I was thinking something more along the lines of an ambassador.”

“I don’t think I’m necessarily qualified for that,” she said. She had a look of confusion on her face. “Why? Where?” she asked.

“Why not,” he plainly stated. “You have shown an affinity for living abroad before, so I know you won’t mind not being in Latium. You are very bright; your views are largely in line with the leaderships and mine. And to be blunt, you are one of the more popular members of the Imperial family.”

“Well…I uhh, where then?” she asked again.

“I’ll leave that to you, as there are a handful of vacancies or people we could move around,” Jason told his sister. He put his glasses on, “You may have your pick of Rome, the UIF, Olmon…please pass on that one, trust me, and finally, Ghant.”

She certainly didn’t want to go to Olmon or the UIF, as she held certain views of the continental peoples. And well Rome, Rome was to similar to Latium. She snickered “ A rather slim selection you’ve left me, brother.” She took a moment to think, “How about Ghant?” she asked.

“Ghant?” he said.

“Yes, Ghant. Why...is that a problem?” she snapped.

“No,” he said, “I just figured you would have said Rome.” Jason Augustus stood and walked towards his seated sister. He sat on the edge of the long table, “Are you sure? You can say no if this is something you don’t want to do. I’m not trying to get rid of you, sister.”

She looked up at him, “I wouldn’t have agreed if I didn’t wish to follow through.”

“I’ll have everything arraigned then. Pompilius will be in touch. And sister…thank you” the Emperor said.

“Thank you, Caesar,” she said to her brother, addressing him out of character by his title. She kissed her brother on the cheek and said with her usual smile “I should get ready then.”


ooooooo


The Emperor of Ghant chewed on his potatoes methodically as he examined the missive that was handed to him by a courier. “So, it would appear as though the Latin Emperor intends to send his sister to Ghish as Legate,” he said, biting his bottom lip.

“...Which one?” his majordomo asked him as he leaned forward, over a chair.

“...The hot one,” Nathan responded, sarcastically. Although I am already married with an Ohaide besides, he considered to himself.

“...That doesn’t narrow it down,” Majordomo Bobo told him. “I am assuming you are referring to Isabella?”

“...Yes, the oldest one. 31 as it were…” Nathan responded in turn. He sat at a table with his dinner in front of him, and he leaned back, cocking his head. “And is there any knowledge as to when we shall meet Princess Isabella?”

“...She arrives in the capitol tonight,” Bobo answered. “So there is little time.”

“Well, shit,” Nathan stated as he leaned forward again. “That leaves us little time then...”


ooooooo


Isabella had landed in Ghant moments ago. She had never visited before, and knew little of their customs or traditions, other than what she had read from her Foreign Ministry prepared materials. She looked at the top folder once more, thinking to herself, this Emperor is a cute one.

An attendant approached and led her off the plane and onto the tarmac. She wasn’t greeted with any fanfare, not that she expected any, and entered her car which would lead her to the Palace, where she would meet the Emperor.

“Your Grace,” one of her aides said, “it’s not a long drive to the Palace, perhaps we should review things one last time?”

“That won’t be necessary. I’ve read through everything and I’ve met my fair share of world leaders, I think I’ll be quite alright. Besides, I’m sure this Emperor is nothing I can’t handle,” she replied.

The streets that time of the evening were relatively bare, vehicles sparse. As it were, there was hardly anything preventing them from arriving at the palace in short order. When the car arrived at the security checkpoint for the Palace, one of the guards in the booth said, “who goes there?”

The driver of Isabella’s car rolled down the window, flashed relevant papers and said, “Princess Isabella of Lusitania, Ambassador from the Latin Empire.”

The guard examined the papers thoughtfully, looking them over and then nodding. “Welcome to the Imperial Palace of Ghish, your highness. The Emperor is expecting you.” Having said that, the gate was opened, and the car allowed to enter. Not too far ahead of the entrance gate was a bay for cars, adjacent to a side entrance of the Palace.

The driver pulled forward, “Your Grace, it will be just a moment.”

Isabella was more nervous than she had expected, gaining a slight shiver. “Are you cold, Your Grace?,” her aide asked.

Isabella glanced out the car window, “No, I’m uh, fine, Helene. Thank you.”

The car finally came to a stop and the guard in the passenger seat exited to open her door. He opened it and he held his hand out to assist her, “Your Grace,” he said.

After a few moments, the side door to the Palace closest to them opened, revealing a young girl dressed in a gown with tall stockings, with loose brown hair and eyes to match set amongst fair, freckled skin. She still had a girl’s body, and looked to be entering teenage years. “Ambassador Princess Isabella, I presume?” she, like the guardsman, spoke exquisite Latin, although the girl’s was by far much more fluid.

Isabella’s aide tapped her on the shoulder, “Your Grace,” and pointed to the young girl opening the door.

Isabella walked towards her and responded with a smile, “Why, yes. That would be me.” She was pleasantly surprised to hear such a young girl speak Latin so well, just now thinking to herself, I don’t even speak a word of their tongue.

“My name is Amelia...I am the Emperor’s sister,” she said with a smile. “If you would follow me, I can take you to his solar. He has dinner waiting for you and your party, and accommodations in the palace for tonight as well...surely you are tired,” the girl explained as she stood in the doorway, gesturing to come inside. Again, her Latin was flawless.

“Very nice to meet you, Amelia,” Isabella quickly said to her. “And yes, very tired. I had no idea it was such a long flight,” she finished. Isabella and her small group followed Amelia into the Palace. She made sure to take in all of her surroundings, as she loved looking at all of the artwork she would find in palaces and important government buildings.

“Likewise,” Amelia responded with a smile as she ushered them inside, shutting the door behind them. The hallway was wide, perhaps for a dozen men abreast, with black and white tiles for a floor, and golden walls that reflected the light being emitted from chandeliers dangling overhead the walls were lined with narrow tables for various artifacts, glass cases with weapons or ornaments, and there were paintings and tapestries on the walls. “Ghant is a long flight from anywhere,” she laughed. “That’s why not so many people come...or go. But if you can suffer the flight, it’s worth it. Surely you are curious why I speak so fluent Latin, eh?” she asked with a raised eyebrow as they walked.

Hopefully the suffer turned out to be worth it, Isabella thought to herself. “As a matter of fact, I was going to ask you that. You speak it well enough to make someone believe it is your native tongue. I wouldn’t have thought many Latinophones have been this far north before,” she said.

“Our mother is half-Roman...her mother is Flavia Ahenobarba,” Amelia explained. “Latin is a widely spoken second language, especially among the highborn folks, you see. Long story why that is, but Ghant has had extensive dealings with Romans in the past. My brother speaks it well too...you should hear him recite poetry in Latin,” she laughed.

“That is rather fascinating, Amelia. I only wish I could say I had the same knowledge of your language,” Isabella said with a laugh, attempting to hide her embarrassment of not being able to speak Ghantish. Was I out of my league? she thought to herself. “I’d very much enjoy to see your brother...forgive me, His Majesty recite some poetry,” she finished.

That made Amelia grin from ear to ear. “Inoiz ez du hitz egiten denean otoitz egiten, Jainkoak ez delako, nahiz eta ulertu dezaten,” she said, giggling. “In case you were wondering, that is an old Ghantish saying, which translates to, never speak it when praying, because not even God can understand it’. A very hard language to learn for anyone who isn’t native. We are almost there too, so you will get your chance to meet him soon enough.”

Isabella’s face turned bright red when Amelia began speaking Ghantish. The only thing running through her mind at that moment was that she was possibly calling her a barbarian or poking fun at her. Though, it turned out Isabella had nothing to worry about and laughed when Amelia explained. “Well you are certainly right, I’d be shocked if the Lord could understand what you just said,” she said with another laugh, slowing calming herself down. She could almost see the doors where the Ghantish party was waiting for her.

“I certainly wouldn’t wish it on anybody...not even God. He has enough things to worry about,” Amelia said sniggering as she stopped in front of a pair of double gilded doors. “Well, here you are,” she said as she pushed upon the door just enough for them to walk inside. “Nice meeting you...I will be around,” Amelia said as she promptly ran off.

The Emperor of Ghant waited inside. He sat at the head of a long wooden table of carved mahogany, with a lit fireplace burning at the end of the room to his left. He was tall, 6’2’’ as it were, with fair skin and reddish-brown hair cut short, slightly curly. He had freckles on his skin, was clean shaven and had blue-grey eyes. His face was solemn looking by nature, with thoughtful eyes and a blank expression that make him look as though he was deep in contemplation. He was wearing a blue, black and gold tunic, with only his head and his large hands visible without. In front of him was a series of dishes, ranging from honey baked ham, baked chicken and beef stew in bread bowls. There was an assortment of vegetables and some fruit to go along with it, along with some tapioca pudding, tea, water and wine. The room around him was gold with intricate white vine patterns on the walls, with a few bookshelves, couches and coffee tables. There was also a large, flatscreen television that was turned off, and some adjacent doors that led to other rooms in the solar.

“Lovely meeting you also, Amelia,” Isabella said before they parted. She gazed into the extravagant room, first seeing the table and all that was set upon it. Soon though, her eyes locked on the Emperor of Ghant. So handsome, she thought, shame he was married. Isabella slowly entered the room, the aroma from the foods on the table catching her nose. “Your Majesty,” she said aloud with purpose.

“Your highness, I bid thee welcome to Ghant,” Nathan smiled as he got up and approached the Princess and her party. He bowed courteously before them. “Please, join me at my table here, I figured you and your companions are surely hungry, and thirsty as well. I hope what I have here might be to your satisfaction.”

Isabella, standing at a generous 5’6’’ looked up at Emperor Nathan when he approached and stood in front of her. She curtsied and said, “Your Majesty, thank you for the very generous welcome. And yes, you guessed correctly. I believe many of the group are quite hungry.” She looked him up and down while walking to the table, thinking, I’m sure I’ll find something to my satisfaction. The rest of her party followed them to the table, quickly finding their seats as hunger was the first thing on most of their minds.

“Don’t thank me yet, Princess,” Nathan said with a wry smile as he pulled from behind his back a lone purple rose. “From up north. I figured if the Latin Emperor would present something as beautiful as thee, that the Ghantish Emperor might as well return the favor,” he said as he extended the exotic rose to her, shining as it did in the pale light that filled the room with a majestic glow.

Isabella blushed and was near speechless, “Oh my,” she exclaimed. “It is absolutely...gorgeous. And my favorite color,” she managed to spit out with a large grinning smile on her face. She accepted the rose from him and sniffed it. “Now, I believe I can properly thank you, Your Majesty,” Isabella finished, smiling at him.

The Emperor returned the smile. “You are most welcome,” he responded as he pulled a chair out for her close to where he was sitting. “It will have to suffice,” Nathan said with a slight blush as he went back to his seat. “Although I would say that it compares to thee like a candle does to the sun.”

She sat as Nathan pulled out her chair and smiled at him again. Her face was nearly as bright red as when Amelia spoke Ghantish to her when the Emperor laid that last line on her, and she enjoyed every second of it. He certainly had a way with words, she thought. “That is most kind of you to say, Your Majesty,” Isabella replied with a smile that she could not hide. While the rest of the Latin party began eying what they would fill their plates and glasses with, Isabella could not take her focus off of Nathan.

“One thing I would tell you, my Princess...I am sure your brother would say the same, is that,” he began to explain as he returned to his seat and sat back down, while picking up a glass of wine in his right hand. “Is that a sovereign should learn the art of giving credit where credit is due. Although, I don’t think there are any words, in Ghantish or Latin, that can do you proper justice, I am afraid,” he told her with a smile and pronounced eye contact as he downed his red wine.

Isabella looked down quickly to quell her smile, but to no avail. “I’d say that you have mastered that art, Your Majesty.” she said with a joking tone. She didn’t respond to his last remark only continued to smile at him, while attempting to remember her role of representing the Latin people, though it was far from her current concern.

“Well, I have been Emperor since the age of nine...eighteen years on the Obsidian Throne as of next month,” Nathan explained. “Plenty of time to learn...speaking of which, that is why you are here, is it not? As a Legate to Ghish on behalf of your brother, the Latin Emperor. I can’t say I know much about him, or your Empire, beyond what I have learned on the internet, that is.” Nathan cut into some honey baked ham, while he mixed it in with some brown gravy from his mashed potatoes.

The Princess sipped from her wine, listening to Nathan and nodded. “They say that there has always been an Emperor. The first was in the first century BC, with the throne always being occupied...if you ignore the many civil wars throughout our history where the throne was vacant. I have always found it odd that the people take such great pride in that claim,” she said with a laugh. She sipped her wine again, “My brother has been Emperor since 2008, when our father appointed him Junior Emperor. He’s been ruling on his own since 2012 though. He uh...he has a more hands on approach than our father ever did. Though he means well.”

“I see,” Nathan responded thoughtfully as he contemplated her words. “Are you familiar much with his policies, and how he intends to guide the Empire in the future?”

“I have an idea,” she replied. Isabella never cared much for politics, nor for placing herself in them though. “He tends to favor a more conservative approach, in regards to politics and policies, especially fiscally. But he and I tend to not discuss such things...and if we do, never at great length. He really only has those discussions with his inner circle,” she finished.

“A conservative approach...seems a very Roman thing to do, being a pragmatic people,” the Emperor said. “I can’t say I have ever taken much of an interest in politics...I suppose you have not either. After all, you did study Art History in university, if I recall correctly.” Nathan took another bite of his ham, and then cocked his head. “I have always been more interested in people. And I do wonder, my Princess, if favoring a...hands on approach runs in the family, or if that is a quality unique to your brother.”

“It has always been somewhat of a bore for me as well, Your Majesty,” she told him. And somewhat surprised that he had known what she studied in school. “You recall correctly, Your Majesty. Not a very difficult field of academics, I’m afraid,” she smiled at him some more. “Jason, I’m sorry, Caesar is very much like grandfather in that regard, attending to the Senate whenever time permitting, whereas our father was much more interested in his philosophy and was much more hands off. So, I suppose father was the unique one, Your Majesty.”

“I have heard that your father was a good man, who ruled long and well, and strode to do right. You have my condolences,” he inclined his head. “I lost my own father when I was six, and my grandfather the Emperor three years later. In a way I envy you for your ability to have gone to university and have more freedoms that your rank and station have afforded you. I think if had the opportunity to go to University, I would have studied history. That was always my favorite subject. Might have even taken some art history classes as well,” he finished with a grin. “If you could go back and do any of that differently, would you?”

“I’m sure father would say that he ruled about ten years longer than he would have liked. But thank you for the kind words, Your Majesty,” she thanked him. She finally took a small bit of some food while the Emperor continued. “Oh my, I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine what that must have been like, for you,” she said sympathetically. “History, uh? You and my brother have that in common then,” she said before pondering his next question. She paused, “One thing I would definitely do differently, would be not to attend that dreadful school I went to in Constantinople for my first two years. I just felt so...juvenile. Oddly enough I didn’t begin to enjoy university until I attended school in the capital,” she stated.

“Such is life, my Princess,” Nathan said as he dipped into some tapioca pudding. “We all make mistakes, do things that we regret. But, making mistakes isn’t as important as what you learn from making them. It is only by overcoming adversity and making mistakes that we learn, and grow as people,” he explained with a smile. “I fancy philosophy as well as history, as it were. And yes, while it might have seemed juvenile at the time, you seem quite wisened today, despite your still very youthful appearance.”

“You want to hear something funny, well I doubt you’ll find it as funny as I. But that is almost exactly what my father said to me at the time,” she said to him before taking an even larger drink of her wine. “You remind me of him, actually. You have his calm demeanor. And I think that I am beginning to run out of ways to thank you for all your kind words, Your Majesty,” she finished, grinning ever so obviously.

That made the Emperor laugh. “That is quite funny, and it is a great compliment indeed to be compared to such a great sovereign. And you need not worry about finding ways to thank me, my Princess. You thank me every mere moment, just by being here, gracing this country with your mere presence. Would that Ghant is worthy of it, beauty and refined graces all.”

“Well,” she said with a coy smile on her face, “perhaps I shall stop thanking you all together then.” For the first time since she sat at the table she took her eyes off of her immediate surroundings and looked upon all others in the room. Many were having their own conversations with their Ghantish counterparts, but her aide, Helene, made eye contact with Isabella and smiled at her, causing Isabella to quell her own smile.

“Oh, would you be so bold?” Nathan answered, facetiously. “And what if I were to skirt complements? Although what good would that do, for the sun doesn’t need to be told it is bright for it to know that it shines,” he smirked, before drinking some more wine.

Isabella laughed audibly, “I think I could be that bold, especially if I continue drinking this fine wine.” She finished her current glass and motioned for it to be filled once more. “But..my mother always told us never to be rude, so perhaps I should ignore my thought.”

“Wine does make a person more bold, and as the saying goes, fortune does favor the bold,” Nathan grinned sheepishly. “My mother taught me to beware beautiful women, for surely they know that the world is theirs. Dare I say that you seem very capable of wrapping it around your finger.”

“Is that the type of woman I strike you as, Your Majesty?” Isabella asked with a flirtatious smile, drinking from her recently filled glass.

“Indeed it does, for that, when combined with your birth, surely would make you the most desired bride in all the world. And yet, here you are,” Nathan said, returning the flirtatiousness. “Unlike other men of the world, suffice it to say I that I know a very good thing when I see it.”

“Flattered, Your Majesty,” Isabella replied. “Though I’m afraid...at times my birth has been as much a curse as it has a gift in that respect. Some men simply are not capable of all that comes with that. Most are not as astute as I take you to be, Nathan,” she said to him. She quickly realized she called the Emperor by his name and remember just how upset...or in her words, cranky her brother was when outsiders neglected to use proper forms of address, “I mean, Your Majesty.”

“Oh no, Nathan is quite fine...Isabella,” he pointed out with a smile. “I have always favored skewing formalities in favor of being personable. But you have piqued my curiosity all of a sudden...about how your birth has been as much a curse as a blessing. Would you be comfortable sharing?” he asked.

She let out a sigh of relief, “I’m always unsure, I know my brother can get quite upset when someone doesn’t address him properly.” She moved closer to Nathan, “No I don’t mind at all. Of course I enjoy the things that come with being a Princess, but I’ve had many a relationship ruined because of my status and my significant others inability to cope with media attention and the like. And I don’t hold that against them, its just at times I wish I could just leave the spotlight. Wow I bet that sounds odd,” she finished.

“Not at all,” the Emperor responded candidly. “Oftentimes I wish the same. Fortunately, it doesn’t penetrate the confines of the Palace. Although, I find this rather curious. Your sister married a highborn man from another nation...why didn’t you do the same? Is it because, maybe...you never really wanted to live by anyone’s expectations other than the ones you had for yourself? Sort of a...free spirit?” he wondered.

“All of my siblings are married to other highborns, with the exception of myself and my youngest sister, who will be marrying a commoner. In fact, my brother was once married to a commoner, the only time he’s ever loved, I’m convinced,” she spoke with honesty. “As to why I haven’t done so, I suppose you’re correct in saying that I’m a free spirit of sorts. I don’t like the idea of being a bargaining chip of my brothers, not to imply that my siblings don’t love their spouses,” she said firmly.

“So, the things you do you do for love?” Nathan asked her with a raised eyebrow. “Same for dating and relationships, I presume...you will only go where your heart allows.”

“Exactly,” she said. “I love my family and my brother with all my heart, but I won’t date or marry someone just because of who their father or ancestors were. And he’s called me a diva for this part,” she said giggling, “but I’ll only do so on my terms.”

“Really? So, if a man’s ancestors were great heroes and champions of old, or great lovers of whom songs are sung, and poems written, that wouldn’t appeal to you at all?” Nathan asked. “Here in Ghant, we have a saying. ‘Odolesango’...there is no word for it in Latin, but it generally means ‘blood will tell. That is, certain characteristics of a person are inherited, passed on down the line from one to the next. That it is the blood that lives, and the body a mere vessel for it by which it can exist in a tangible universe,” the Emperor explained softly.

“That certainly is interesting, Nathan. While not the same, it shares some similarities with the belief of reincarnation,” Isabella told him. “Though I can’t say I see it that way. I choose to honor the contributions my ancestors and the ancestors of others made, but I don’t necessarily find one more attractive because of those accomplishments. I’d rather look to their accomplishments and the ability they themselves hold,” she finished.

“A very noble position to take,” Nathan said with a nod, stroking his chin. “So tell me, in your capacity as Legate, what would you like to do while you are here in Ghish?”

“Naturally, I am here as a representative of my brother and the Latin people. But outside of any official duties, I would love to travel around the capital. Take it all in,” she said. Isabella leaned closer to the Emperor, “Perhaps a personal tour?” she suggested.

“...I was just thinking that myself,” Nathan said, leaning in a bit, eyes looming large. “I could certainly help you take it all in.”

She smiled, looked into his eyes and placed her hand on his leg, “I believe you could. I know I’ve had my fill at the table,” she said with a smirk, again finishing yet another glass of wine.

“Well, I am glad that I could see to it that you get your fill.” Nathan finished his glass of wine, and leaned back. “Considering that your flight was so long, you must be tired and eager for a comfortable bed. If you would like, I can give you a personal tour of some of the Palace before I see you to your chambers, or we could forgo that until tomorrow. All depends on how much of a hurry you are in to get into bed,” he offered with a playful grin.

“I know I would love to see some of the more...closed off areas of the Palace, Nathan,” she said. Isabella grabbed a nearby bottle of wine, “And I think between this bottle of wine and er...your company, I should be able to stay awake.”

“We shall see. I have been told I can be quite...exhausting at times,” he told her as he rose from his seat. He came around to where she was sitting and extended his arm to her. “If I may….and my servants shall see to it that your companions are shown to their chambers.”

“I suppose I’ll have to see how exhausting you are myself,” Isabella said to the Emperor as she placed her hand in his to stand from her seat.

“Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it,” Nathan told her with a smirk. Once she up, he escorted her out of the room and into the hall. “The Palace took over twenty years to build, begun during the reign of the first Emperor of Ghant, Nathan I, and was completed in the 1820s. There are several levels and around 4,000 rooms...I don’t think I have even been in all of them...there are only a few that I say I frequent. There is one though, above all others, that you must see.”

Isabella walked with Nathan throughout the hall, hearing his every word, but not necessarily listening to what he was saying. She nodded while he spoke, perhaps not so interested in the subject matter, as much she was her guide. “That is fascinating, Nathan,” she said. She looked at him and playfully said, “Oh, and what room may that be?”

“This one,” he told her with a grin as he pushed open a door that set out a loud creak as it went. The room was empty as it was a dark...a cavernous rectangular room. There was a row of thick columns lining the way from the back of the room to the back, and a very long black and white patterned carpet running the length of the floor from the entrance to the elevated throne, the way illuminated by faint flickering light spawned by torches set in sconces upon the columns.

There before them sat the Obsidian Throne of Ghant, the large, twisted black structure that loomed large, a monolith of a long lost age, with its hard, glistening edges. Nathan beheld it, and then he began to explain. “The throne room...the oldest part of the Palace. The throne was forged in the fires of Mt. Arragard, to the north in the Kingdom of Arrautsa, in the year 912 by Robert of House Gentry, the first man to style himself King of Ghant. It took seventy seven days to forge, and upon its completion he had the men he defeated in battle haul it back to Ghish. They had to tear an entire wall of the old castle down to bring it in, and then they set it in place...and it has never moved since. This Palace was essentially built around it, because moving it was far too impractical. Robert often said that a king should never sit easy, and that a man cannot inspire awe, or fear, quite as a well as his throne could. And there it is.”

Nathan extended his hand to it. “Take a seat, if you would like...or if you dare.”

Her jaw just about dropped when she saw the Throne, it was nothing like her brothers throne. Much more elegant and much older than the physical Latin throne. She placed her hand in Nathan’s and for a moment hesitated, but she sat on the throne...feeling more powerful than she ever had before. “It’s magnificent, Nathan,” she told him. “A bit colder than I expected,” she said with a laugh and general lack for words at her amazement.

“Aye, it is cold, and hard. The steps leading up to it are steeped in history,” he said as he began to ascend the steps up to the hulking throne after her. “You certainly look as though the perch suits you,” he laughed, the sound echoing.

“Could use a pad, I think” she said referring to roughness of the seat. “But I believe I could get used to this,” Isabella smiled to Nathan. “This may seem like a silly question,” she laughed, “but do you sit here often or is this mainly for show and official functions now?”

“Depends, really,” Nathan nodded a the question, thinking it was a good one. “Depends on the Emperor, really. But me personally, there are two times where I will. The first is if I feel a need for excessive formality, such as when I am receiving a Lord that is either not fond of me, or whom I am not particularly fond of. Seeing me on it reminds them of who I am. The other time is if I want to be alone, and think...clear my mind. I will come in here and just sit there for a while, until my ass hurts so bad that I need to get off of it,” he said with a chuckle.

“That’s very interesting,” she told him. “I bet this is quite the room to think and ponder the questions of the universe,” she said poking some fun at Nathan. “But wow, you weren’t kidding about it being rough on the behind,” she said standing up from the Throne walking ever so closely to him. “Let me see how you look on it, Nathan.”

“Plenty of things here in the Palace are rough on the behind,” he said, sniggering, as he went the rest of the way up the steps and helped her up, before sitting down in her place. He leaned back into the throne, and let his arms rest there on the edges of it. He looked at her and smiled slightly with a raised eyebrow, as if to wait to hear what she had to say.

Isabella gave Nathan a playful push after his rough behind comment. She watched him sit down, and then finally come to a rest, “Perfect,” she said, “you look like you were born to rule, Nathan.”

“...You haven’t seen anything yet. Watch this.” Nathan cracked his knuckles, and then clapped twice. Then music began to fill the throne room from the unseen corners of it. “What an interesting choice of song that guys that installed the speaker system had in mind,” he grinned mischieviously.

“I’m sure it is on random,” she said jokingly. “What else do you have up your sleeves, mister,” asking while walking up the steps towards the seated Emperor.

“...That depends...on how badly you want to find out...” the Emperor smirked, still seated and listening to the song continuing to play. “...what’s up my sleeve.”

Isabella continued walking up the steps, quickly standing right in front of him. She placed her hands on the armrests of the throne, leaning over him. “I very badly want to find out, Your Majesty,” she said in a soft voice.

“Well, if you must know…” with the song still playing, and with Nathan sitting upon the Obsidian Throne, he looked up at Isabella, before leaning forward just enough to plant a kiss on her lips. In that moment, he waited to see how she would react…

She accepted the kiss from him, and slowly pulled back after a handful of seconds. Isabella looked him, then went in for another longer and more sensual kiss. While still kissing him, she moved her hands from the arm rest and sat on his lap across the Obsidian Throne.

While that was going on, the next song began to play. The Emperor returned the second kiss with a matching ferocity, as he pulled her down onto his lap. One hand went to stroke her hair and the other went to caress her thigh.

She continued kissing him, then pulled back, “I never do this sort of thing,” she said then immediately went back to kissing him. She wrapped one of her arms around him and pulled back once more, “I really don’t want you to think I’m some kind of….whore,” she said before again placing her lips on his once more.

“Never,” Nathan said softly into her ear. “You are anything but that,” he said before kissing her again with great zeal and using his deft hands to feel her body.

She grabbed one of his hands and moved it to her back so he could unzip her dress. Isabella continued to be focused on his lips, while his other hand moved around her body.

He did just that, using the hand behind her back to unzip her dress, while the other one snuck into the area between her thighs. “A popular myth is that the throne makes a woman moist upon sight,” he chuckled as he kissed her neck, just below the ear.

“I assure you,” she attempted to say though the pleasure, “it wasn’t the throne.” She pulled back momentarily to help him take his tunic off.

“Of course, I had to have been the wine,” he laughed as he removed his tunic very quickly, fiddling at the buttons and practically tearing it off before he was down to underwear and slippers, the latter of which he promptly shook off. He continued to work at her clothes in a great effort to get them off, enjoying the feeling of her skin upon his mouth and underneath his fingers, warm and smooth as it was.

“Of course. Definitely the wine...and not this,” she placing her hand on his crotch. Just then she stood to completely remove her dress. She stood in front of him now, exposed.

“Remember what I told you about surprises?” he smirked as he grabbed her by the waist and pulled her close to him. He kissed her bosom, and then down to her bellybutton, and then further down he went…

“I remember, I’m sure I have some surprises of my own” Isabella smiled. She placed her hand on his head and ran her fingers through his hair as he inched lower and lower, moaning with pleasure.

The Emperor of Ghant went at her with zeal, being a rather seasoned veteran of that fine art. He desired her immensely, and it showed in the efforts he made to try to please her. He would get her hooked, or at least that was his goal as he dug in. The free hands were on her behind and thigh, and the entirety of what he had to work with was easily visible through his undergarments...needless to say he was well endowed enough, in his opinion.

Isabella continued to let Nathan do his thing down there, and she loved every second of the leg shaking pleasure it brought her. After some time though, she pushed him back on to the throne and got on her knees to reveal him. Needless to say she liked what she had in her hand…“Your Majesty,” she said in jest.

“...It would appear as though you have my full attention,” he returned the jest as he kissed her again, wondering how she would feel about the taste of her own loins upon her lips. When the time came...and it was surely coming soon enough, he was going to fuck her like an animal.

She kissed him right back, “mhmm,” she moaned, “looks like I do…” as she kissed him down his body and placed him in her mouth.

“...Oh my,” he said with a gasp as he stroked her hair and caressed her arm. “You do have some surprises too…” he wasn’t even paying attention to the music that was playing on the speaker system anymore.

The Princess glanced up at him to make eye contact, while keeping her focus on him. She kept going at it, faster...then slower.

The Emperor sat back and enjoyed that for a few moments while he admired what parts of her he could with his hands, and then he made the move to attempt to reach around her to play with her nether region. He knew the time was nigh upon him, and he could barely stand the wait.

She continued, though she was tiring. Dripping as she was, she pulled him out of her mouth and kissed him there. She was ready, “take me,” Isabella said to Nathan.

“With pleasure, my Princess,” he said to her softly as he grabbed her by the waist, steered her on top of him, and then guided himself in. He used the hands on her waist to coordinate the effort, and he started slow, and reached up to kiss her bosom.

What a ride...I never want it to end, she thought to herself. “Oh...Nathan,” she managed to say putting her hands on his chest. She moaned so loud she felt as if they could hear her in Latium.

“Isabella of Lusitania,” he struggled to say as he accelerated. “I want it all.”

She moaned more, “I’m all yours,” Isabella said loudly. “Nathan,” she then said softly and it was hard to make out what she said next but it faintly sound like, “take me as you want.”

Upon her having said that, he began to go at her fiercely, giving her everything he had like a ravenous beast. He was determined to push her over the edge before he couldn’t hold on any longer. He could feel the sweat forming on his body, and whenever it appeared on hers, he licked it off like a dog. There wasn’t anything for him to say besides moans and gasps, for beasts in the throes of heat only spoke with their maneuverings, after all.

Isabella was getting to the point where she could no longer contain herself and was simply about burst at the seams from the pleasure. She was no longer a Princess, only a woman and he was no longer an Emperor, only a man. Her body was going limp, she resisted as best she could from simply collapsing. Attempting to keep up with his quick, animal like pace.

For the final stretch, which he could feel, he wrapped his arms around her and pressed her tightly against him, chest to chest. He kissed her passionately as he continued his swift, aggressive motions, just waiting for that moment to come.

She felt him tense up the closer he pulled her to him, kissing his neck, then tenderly biting his ear. She could feel it, “give it to me, Nathan. I want it all,” she finished.

He went on for a few more moments, and then he obliged her, going in all the way before releasing. Remaining in place for a few moments, he panted against her breasts as he began to pay attention to the song that was playing. It made him grin.


The Princess laid there, almost motionless, if not for her heavy breathing. She then rested her head on his shoulder and kissed it, before looking him in the eyes and placing her lips on his once more.

The Emperor clapped twice, and the music turned off, returning the throne room to a silence as profound as a crypt. He stroked her hair with one hand and ran his fingers down her spine with the other, before returning the kiss and saying, “we should get you back to your chambers, Isabella. Get you under the blankets,” he laughed.

She looked up at him with perhaps the largest smile she had ever shown, “You’re right...we should.” Though slightly concerned that someone may see her and that it could compromise her position, she did not care. After relaxing in his arms, she eventually collected her clothes as best she could in the dark throne room.

Nathan quickly slipped back into his clothes, and then once she was ready, he extended his arm to her so that he could escort her out of the throne room and back down the hall. He did take advantage of any opportunity to touch her and kiss her while they got ready to go.

Isabella hurried to find her clothes, though Nathan made it difficult, “stop it,” she laughed. She eventually gathered her things and took the Emperor’s arm. “Shall we,” she said to him with a smile.

“Indeed,” Nathan smiled back as he led her out and down the hall. “So...that’s the throne room in all its splendor,” he told her. “It is very pleasing to know that you found it as...appealing as you did,” the Emperor laughed as they walked. “Now as for your chambers, they are quite accommodating. Large bed, very comfortable mattress, soft pillows and cozy blankets. Flat screen TV with the full cable package, bathroom with all the things a lady might require, and a walk-in closet. Oh and the other usual things, like dressers, table, coffee table and furniture. Also a balcony.”

“I can see why the throne room was...a must see. I’m not sure any other room in the Palace or part of the city could, um top that” she said to him. She walked into her quarters, a lovely room, she thought. “I suppose this room will have to do,” Isabella said in a joking tone. She wrapped her arms around one of his and said, “I can’t thank you enough for your hospitality, Your Majesty.”

That made the Emperor laugh. “Yes, very few places in Ghish can hope to match the majesty of the throne room.” Once they arrived at her chambers, Nathan took note of the fact that her luggage was all in place in her room, and that there were some refreshments and fruits on the table. The Emperor shut the door behind them, and while Isabella held one of his hands, with the other, he reached behind his back and turned the lock, loud enough to be heard. “Yes, this room will do quite nicely. And for you, my hospitality requires no thanks. It is enough to know that you are greatly appreciative,” he explained to her with a smirk, gazing deep into her eyes and bringing his free hand around to brush her cheek.

“You really didn’t need to go through all of this trouble for me, Nathan,” Isabella said seeing the room was prepared in such high fashion and that all her things were already there. She heard the click of the door lock and turned to face him, kissing him on the cheek. Throwing her shoes to the side, she let go of his hand and walked to the refreshments. “I’m not sure about you, but I am absolutely famished,” she said to him. She bit into an apple, and laid across the neatly made bed...gazing upon him.

"I can assure you, the trouble is worth it," he chuckled as he went to the refrigerator and found a pitcher of water. He poured himself a glass of it from a glass in the cabinet, and then he downed it. "Very refreshing," he grinned as laid next to her on the bed and started playing with her hair, returning the gaze.

“Very,” she winked at him. Taking the last bite of her apple and placing the remains to the side, she laid her head on his chest, feeling his every breath. She could just about fall asleep, as he ran his hands through her long hair.

He laid there as well for a time, stroking her hair and rubbing her arms and back, enjoying the feeling of her resting her head upon his chest. "You seem pretty drained," he spoke to her softly.

It took her a moment to respond, “I think you are the one that is drained, Your Majesty” she laughed to him. Isabella ran her fingers over his body in random patterns.

Nathan laughed. "Don't be so sure, Isabella...I am fully capable of proving otherwise..." the Emperor took her hand and began to kiss it.

“Oh, I don’t doubt that,” she told him, knowing where this could again lead. She ran her hand further down him and then turned her back, nuzzling into him.

"Very keen you are," he chuckled as he then laid on top of her, kissing her again as he caressed her body with his hands. The room was quiet and dimly lit towards the back, and the Emperor enjoyed the setting quite a bit. Whereas the throne room felt rushed, this was a far more private, and intimate setting.

She kissed him back, and pulled away to yawn. “Sorry for that,” she said proceeding to kiss him once more, running her hands ever so wildly across his body. Tired as she was, she didn’t want the night to end.

"No need to apologize," he responded as he drew the covers out from underneath them and pulled them over. Then under the blankets he began working at removing her clothes. "See who passes out first eh?"

She shuffled to remove what remained of her clothing and threw what she could as far as possible. “Is that a challenge? I think I know a way to ensure it is you,” she said rather fiercely. She rolled on top of him and kissed him, moving all the way down him until she was hidden under the blankets.

"...Let's see if you got what it takes. He quickly discarded all of his clothes as well, carelessly throwing them across the room. "You know..." he grinned as he watched her movement with anticipation. "If you are going to give, might as well receive at the same time," he said with a laugh as he spun her body around.

“Ah,” she screeched in joyful shock and surprise at his ease to position her as he pleased. She did her work and did it well for many minutes, but the pleasure on the other end was soon getting the best of her and she slowly began easing in the vigor at which she first attacked.

"Oh," he gasped as she did her thing. Admittedly this was much more enjoyable than the first time, given the comfort and ease of access, so to speak. He still had a few surprises in store, as he went from one hole to another and made sure to have fingers involved besides...

Isabella shrieked once again, though this time much louder. “Nathan,” she said as a deep chill was sent shivering down her spin. She could hardly contain herself, though still working away as she was. But after nearly a minute of such intense pleasure, she was all but begging for round two.

After a few more moments of this, he once again flipped her around and then onto her back, before Nathan climbed on top of her and eased himself in while speaking her name..."Isabella." he wrapped his arms around her and pressed himself against her chest, bringing himself close enough to kiss her with great passion as he took her.

“Oh, Nathan,” she softly repeated in kind, then biting her lip as he entered. She locked lips with him, taking each powerful thrust as it was given. “Na...N...Nathan,” she managed to moan out. Isabella was breathing heavily, wanting more and more of the Emperor.

"Isabella," he continued to mutter in between passionate kisses. He could feel the sensation of her skin rub against his, the heat and the sweat besides. It made him vigorous in his efforts, wanting to experience the very core of her being. There under the blankets, when the chance permitted, he pressed his forehead against hers and gazed into her eyes as he pumped.

The Princess ran her hands across his back as she was thrusted into time and time again. For a moment she felt such sensation that she dug her fingers into his back, not realizing what she was doing. And the moment he pressed his head against hers, she managed to sneak out a smile from her face of delight. She placed her hands on each side of his head and pulled his face close to hers, meeting his lips. Kissing them, then biting at the lower as the feeling he was giving her was nearly too much for her to bear.

He could feel it happening...not just for him but for her. Once again on the home stretch, he began to accelerate, pounding her with ferocity as he continued to make eye contact there under the blankets.

She knew the moment was again upon them, she could feel it inside of her. She was shaking more and more with each of his powerful thrusts. “Nathan!” she let out so loud that the echos could be heard down the hall. She didn’t care, she looked him in the eye until her back began to arch and her head moved forward.

"Isabella!" He said loudly as he pressed his forehead to hers and stared into her eyes closely. He continued to go at it though, shaking the King sized bed with a savage fury as he went at her like a vicious animal.

She again dug her fingers into his skin in an attempt to control herself, though to no avail. She closed her eyes and bit her lip as she accepted one merciless thrust after the other. “Don’t stop,” she mumbled.

He didn't respond with words, merely continuing as he breathed hard and sweat. Although, whenever she dug her fingers into his skin, that only made him go harder and faster.

Isabella dug in deeper, now attempting to brace herself for each thrust. She closed her eyes, placed one hand on her chest as it slipped from the sweat, the other on her head, running it through her hair.

The room was rife with the sound of slapping flesh and moans as the Emperor continued on his course, still wrapped around her tightly as they went at it, his furor intensifying with her reactions. If his forehead wasn’t pressed against hers or he wasn’t kissing her, he had his face buried in her neck, speaking softly into her ear. “Isabella...give me everything,” he would say among other things. He also pitied the servant that was responsible for cleaning the sheets…

The more he whispered, the more she wanted him. As she felt the vibrations from his voice against her chest, she pushed him back, “take it all,” she whispered, then turned to lay on her stomach.

When she went to lay on her stomach, the Emperor laid on top of her, continuing to dole out powerful thrusts. He pulled on her hair to arch her back, and would either speak softly into her ear or try to turn her head so he could kiss her. Otherwise, he would kiss the sweat off of the back of her neck or slide a hand in between her bosom and the sheet it was pressed up against.

She could feel all his weight bearing down on her small, slender frame. When Isabella felt the pull of her hair she grinned, though he could not see it. She arched her back and pushed back at his thrusting, receiving it as best she could. No words exited her mouth, just various sounds of satisfaction and simple mumblings.

Willing to try something new, he slid a hand underneath her and moved it down to her nether region as he continued to thrust deeply, using that hand to stimulate her as he continued. He sucked and kissed the back of her neck and let his hefty panting muffle against it as he continued to pull her hair with each stroke.

Breathing heavily, “Yes,” she said, “yes….more” her voice began trailing off. She turned her head as he pulled, attempting to find his. When she felt his hand move below, she braced herself with one arm and moved the other back to direct his in the way to give her the most enjoyment.

When she turned her head as if to find his, he kissed her deeply, and continued to give her what he had learned she liked, as well as letting her use his hand to stimulate her, the other hand tugging on her wet hair. “God damnit Isabella...I fucking love you...and I love fucking you!” he spoke to her when he had the chance to do so, although it was disjointed.

Isabella’s ears perked when she heard what Nathan blurted out. Many thoughts began to race through her mind. She said nothing, only continuing to accept each powerful thrust after thrust.

With a devilish grin on his face, he tried something new. While stimulating her with one hand and pulling her hair with the other one, he buried his face into the side of her neck and began to kiss and suck on it as well despite his gasps and moans, while exerting deep and powerful thrusts. He already had to slow own at least once in order to keep himself from releasing.

She moved her head to the side which Nathan was giving attention to, placing a hand on his head. Running her hand through his hair, occasionally asserting some force to press his head against her skin. She moaned rather loudly when she felt him slow down ever so slightly.

Rather enjoying her loud moans, he continued to engage her in the way that made her do that, while moving his head again to kiss her. He very much enjoyed kissing during sex, using lips and tongue to great effect for prolonged sessions while he held her by the hair and rubbed her nether area with his other hand, guided by her own for maximum effect.

Isabella felt that she was near her climax. “Give it to me, Nathan,” she demanded. She moaned yet again, “just like that.”

For at least a few more moments, he continued to do exactly what she told him to keep doing, while he could begin to feel his own climax building, making his manhood swell and twitch inside her. It made him moan, loudly had it not been into the side of her neck.

She began to push into each of his thrusts, attempting to take charge and aid his finish. Moving her hips on her own, she then grabbed his hand from down below and placed it on her hip to take control of her movements so she could force his release.

A tactic that proved most effective. The Emperor shuddered and grunted as he plunged himself all the way in before he released, and then he very gently collapsed onto her back, breathing hard and panting through the sweat. “Holy shit.”


“Wow. That was...something else,” she uttered from beneath him. She rolled herself out from underneath the Emperor, then moved to stand at the end of the large bed. Walking over to a table, as naked as the day she was born, she poured a glass of water and took a sip out of it. Isabella looked to him and said with her playful smile, “So...does this mean you passed out first?”

Nathan laughed. “I’m not asleep yet,” he said, laying on his back in bed. “And besides, you cheated by trying to get me to come first there at the end. Don’t think I am not wise to your tricks!”

“If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying hard enough,” she snickered. “At least that’s what my brother says. And besides, it is not as if you didn’t enjoy my...tricks.”

“...Point well taken,” he responded, sitting up in bed and wiping the sweat from his brow. “I think you enjoyed my tricks too...got plenty more too.”

“You think so?” she smiled at him. She placed her empty glass of water on a nearby table and crawled back into the bed. “I don’t doubt you have endless surprises, Your Majesty,” Isabella said kissing him once more.

“...I am pretty good at keeping it coming,” he laughed as he wrapped his arms around her and returned the kiss, before pulling the blanket over them both.
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Novitera
Diplomat
 
Posts: 819
Founded: Jul 14, 2014
Anarchy

Postby Novitera » Thu May 28, 2015 7:11 pm

Succession


Avantine, State of Soletrek, Novitera

The vegetation around the richest man in Novitera's house was wonderful. Caroline had been here before on multiple dinners. As COO of Wiyrkomi she was well acquainted with Gale Wiyrkomi. She considered him a friend as much as she did a superior. Gale's trusted lieutenant walked with him around the estate. Every piece of vegetation had been carefully placed at his own direction. There were the Japanese cherry trees that lined the road up. A number of ash, oak and maple trees dotted the property around the house. Caroline had come over many times to find Gale inspecting them personally. She knew he had a greenhouse in the back where he spent most of his free time, if there was any. Caroline slipped held on to his elbow in a platonic way. Herself, in her mid fifties found that her fitness had left her long ago. But a stroll through Gale's property was always relaxing.

They found a bench beneath one of the oak trees. It was nothing more than a raised stone tablet with no backrest. Both took a seat. A breeze blew causing Caroline to shiver. "We can go back inside." Gale said, seeing this. Avantine was beginning to warm up but not quite yet. In the last hour of daylight it got particularly chilly.

"Oh no. I'm indoors too much. This is a nice reprieve." Caroline replied.

They sat in a peaceful silence for a few minutes. Enjoying the scenery and the moment. The last time they simply were together without talking shop was at least a few months ago. Caroline had been to his estate many times over the years but in general, the two rarely saw each other outside of the Wiyrkomi headquarters. It was Gale who first broke the silence. "You've devoted your life to my company." He said then sighed. It was Caroline's job. She was being well compensated for her work and he knew that. At the same time, Gale appreciated her devotion to Wiyrkomi. The company's success over the years was credited to him by the public. In reality, there were so many players in the cogs were integral to its rise. Caroline was first among them.

Caroline looked at him. "You know I love it as much as you do."

"How much longer do you plan to be there?" He asked.

"As long as I can. I got at least another decade in me. Where would I be without it anyways?" She asked rhetorically. "I can't wait to see where we'll take it."

"Where you will take it." Gale corrected her.

Caroline raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean?" She asked confused then leaned in, looking him in the eye.

Gale turned away to stare off into the distance. "I...I'm going to recommend that you replace me to the board. They will listen."

Now fully alarmed, Caroline stood up and to look down at him. Her heart began to race. "What do you mean Gale?! What are you talking about?" She asked aggressively.

He rubbed his thighs with his hands and gave her a sad smile. "I'm leaving the company. Retiring as they say." He answered her then nodded.

"Retire? What are you talking about? Gale, you can't retire now. We need you. Wiyrkomi is your life's work. How....how can you leave at a time like this?" She asked.

Gale sighed again then shook his head. "The company will be fine in your hands. Plus, its gone further than I could have ever dreamed. You know...when I started this...everybody thought I was crazy. A computer for every person...ha! Absurd right? All I wanted to do was prove them all wrong." He told her.

"You did!" She responded. "But now is not the time to get complacent. There's so much left to do. I can't do it without you."

"You can....you must." He said looking at her again.

Caroline put her hands to her forehead and did a twirl in frustration. There was still hope in her she could convince Gale otherwise. If anybody could convince him it was her. "Why are you doing this?" She probed. If she could just figure out his reasoning then maybe she could persuade him.

"I've never really seen the world you know. Sure, a few business trips here and there. But I've never really explored. It was always something I wanted to do growing up but never had the money. Then there was the company. I put every waking moment into it until now." He told her. Looking at his trees he rambled on. "I want to see the Cetian countryside, the Cathedral in Fineberg, the Melech's palace, I want to go to Ghant and explore a castle. Think I made a list somewhere..."

"So you take a hiatus. Do your thing then come back. Everyone knows you've deserved it." Caroline offered. It seemed like a good compromise.

Gale took a deep breath. "I have cancer Caroline." He said bravely. "I have cancer." He repeated. Saying it out loud made him all the more fearful as much as coming to terms with the fact.

"Oh shit." Caroline muttered. She sat back down this time closer to him. Her hand went over his. The cool touch of her wrinkled skin was comforting.

"It's in my pancreas. The doctors say I have six months." He continued on.

"Gale, there's treatments..."

"No...I don't want to spend my last six months in and out of a hospital on the off chance they can cure me. I want to go do the things I haven't done." He said.

Caroline began to tear up. She leaned her head against his shoulder. "I've already talked to the board. They'll make you CEO. Everything will be announced before the week's end. Except that I'm dying. Keep that quiet for now."

"This is really happening isn't it?" She asked, finding the whole situation surreal.

Gale put an arm around her. "Yes." He said bluntly. The two life friends sat there in silence, ignoring the frigid wind that shook the already bloomed trees.

User avatar
Ghant
Minister
 
Posts: 2410
Founded: Feb 11, 2013
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Ghant » Tue Jun 23, 2015 8:24 pm

“Arietta Tis of Thee”
Betharan Palace
Fineberg, New Edom
Around the time of Perrin’s funeral

(Co-written with Allamunnic States)

...He seemed interesting, Arietta thought of the Generalissimo after meeting him, however briefly it might have been. He didn’t seem like such a bad guy...certainly not like the hardass everyone made him out to be. Maybe he just needs to get high.

She made her way down the hall to the room where King Rodrik was staying, and gave it a quick knock, hoping to find him inside. King Rod, as she considered him, seemed like an ok dude...albeit sort of...stingy. Most kings were though, from Arietta’s experience. Sitting on thrones all the time gets that stick stuck pretty far up the ass.

The door swung open, and Arietta encountered what Vitus would likely look like in thirty years or so. Rodrik Sproek was a tall man, muscular (although years of a comfortable lifestyle had removed some of the iron from his frame, replaced with softness), with icy blue eyes set beneath steely-gray hair, a chiseled jaw defining a handsome face that had only been accented by the age and weather on it.

“Princess,” he said, tone even. Those that were familiar with Rodrik would have detected the disapproval in his voice; although he was unwilling to interfere in his eldest son’s love life, particularly when the boy had found someone diplomatically and politically-suitable, Rodrik did not precisely care for Arietta. He found her frivolous to an irritating extent, and her antics were likely to land her and his son in a tabloid somewhere, despite the fact that she had actually, for the most part, behaved herself while within Allamunnic borders.

Still, no reason to be impolite. “I assume you are looking for my son? He was actually looking for you, although I am unsure as to where he has absconded to in the process,” he mused, voice still neutral, eyes dispassionate.

“Well, maybe if I just chill here, he will figure to come this way,” Arietta shrugged as she took a seat. “How are you, Rod?”

Rodrik had long since learned to just ignore the Ghantish princess’s obnoxious nicknames for people. “I am doing reasonably-well, Arietta,” he said, enunciating carefully and clearly as he always did. “A funeral is always a somber occasion, and I would be lying if I said I especially like Edomites with their rather odd ways, but I cannot say I am especially discomfitted by any of what I have done or seen since we arrived,” he explained.

“I don’t like them that much,” Arietta said somewhat stingingly. “Last time I was here, I was chillen with Lavinia Nabal, who at the time was married to Prince William Holland of Shalum, also Ambassador to here. We were just hanging out, minding our own business, and then bam! Some pigs showed up, punched her and threw her in a van. I came along...we went to some fucked up prison sort of place, where they had people confessing being gay or some shit blaring over the intercoms, talking about corrupting young minds or whatever, and then they took her away and I never saw her again. Oh, and then when I went to give this William dude a piece of my mind, he acted like he didn’t give a shit. And then I find out from my brother that I am not wanted in the country anymore, and that the guy in charge...I forget his name...oh wait, I think it was Nicanor, wanted me to face justice. Well, now he’s dead and so I could come back,” Arietta explained. “So it’s all good.”

It was unlikely Arietta would have cared all that much, but Rodrik had quietly tuned her out as she had started her usual stream-of-consciousness semi-rant. Gods above, how does the boy put up with her? he thought as he nodded politely at what seemed like appropriate points.

When she had finished, Rodrik gave one more polite nod, given that he had actually caught a little bit of the middle about the “prison sort of place,” remembering Edomite policy towards homosexuality and other “immoral” things. He had almost hoped that King Junn of Skraelingia would have brought his husband, purely to make the Edomites uncomfortable, but, alas, the Skraelingian also had the good diplomatic sense not to do so.

At this point, Vitus pushed the door open. “Father, I couldn’t find her, so we might as well try and head to lu--” he trailed off as he saw Arietta sitting in the room. He smiled, in part because he was genuinely happy to see his girlfriend, and in part because he was amused at the thought that she had likely been bothering and pestering the King. “Ah, nevermind. Hello, dear.”

“Talking about going to lunch are you? We should...I know something you would like to eat for lunch,” the princess giggled. “Oh, and by the way, I met Generalissimo Gummybear not too long ago. He’s really funny! He was talking about bears shitting in the woods, and when he said that you were surely looking for me, I said, ‘he must be hiding, cus my swag so strong, all the boys be hiding,’ he thought that was pretty funny.”

“I wonder what that could be,” he said to the room as a whole. “It is a palace, so I’m sure there is something quite delicious available,” he said, playing dumb. On the last part… Vitus had his doubts, but held mum on it. He rather suspected the grumpy Generalissimo had said something along the lines of ‘why me?’ rather than actually finding anything about Arietta’s ‘swag’ all that amusing.

Rodrik stood up. “I believe I will go ahead and scout out what is available in the kitchen or dining room,” he announced, stepping toward the door. “Feel free to join me whenever you two feel like it,” he said, a note of humor now creeping into his voice.

“See ya later Rod!” Arietta called out after him, before turning to smirk at Vitus. Vitus sighed and shook his head in response.

“I try not to get on your case about stuff, Ari,” he said, “but I do wish you could just call my father ‘sir’ to his face, at least,” he said. “As it is, I’m pretty sure the only reason he hasn’t actually tried to convince me to dump you is because he does not think he should interfere in our lives directly,” he said. “But you know how important it can be to have parents’ blessings with this sort of thing,” he said.

“Oh right,” Arietta nodded. “I can call him sir, no problem. I just didn’t think it was that big of a deal...but I understand. You want me to call you sir too? I could…harder sir, harder!” she laughed.

“Weeeell…” Vitus said with a grin, “I certainly would not object to that, either,” he said, reaching down and giving Arietta’s rear a gentle squeeze. “But yeah, I’d like to have him on-board with things…” he said, trailing off.

Looking at Arietta, directly, now, he got a little more serious. “Have you thought about where we’re headed, at all?” he asked. “Because I’ve been thinking about that quite a bit, lately,” he explained. “Funerals have a way of making you think about the future, stuff that you want to do, since, especially with what happened to President Pahath-Moab, you never know when your time is up,” he said.

Arietta shrugged, even as she playfully slapped at Vitus’s hand. “Don’t see why he wouldn’t be on board...I mean, I am not good with politics and shit like that, but...does he think you can do better than me? Not only do I have the benefit of being the sister of the Emperor of Ghant, but I am also a real gangsta, and I spit real gangsta poetry.”

Vitus cocked an eyebrow, showing he had doubts on that last count. “You know how reputations work. You and I know you don’t deserve the one you’ve been handed, and even if he knows it’s groundless, he does have to worry about the family and its reputation and the like. He doubts things by nature. Giving him a little less reason to doubt never hurts.”

“I’d just like to put his mind at ease whenever we talk about, say, marriage,” he continued.

“You know, there was a time when I cared about all the mean things people said about me. It made me cry...bet you didn’t know that. All those things hurt, but then I decided that I wasn’t going to let my life be dictated by other people’s misconceptions. They can think whatever they want, while I just live my life. Haters gonna hate, and ainters gonna ain’t.” Arietta said thoughtfully. “You talk to your father about marriage?” she asked then.

“I’ve floated the idea,” he said, “just so he can start getting used to the idea,” he said. “And I’d like to talk with you about it, now, actually,” he said.

Arietta shifted a bit in her seat. “...Uh, yeah ok, let’s talk about it.”

Vitus shrugged. “I mean, do you want to go down that route?” he asked. “I’m not going to put you on the spot with it with a proposal and everything if that’s not something you want to do,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to embarrass you, or put pressure or anything on you if that’s not where you want us to go,” he said.

“...I haven’t really thought about it that much, but really, it’s like what my brother says. I got certain expectations and shit, and I have already been through the ringer. So this is probably the best case scenario...and the fact that my feelings for you are strong, well...that makes the decision pretty easy,” Arietta explained with a smile as she began to tug at his pants. “I probably can’t do better than you, and even if I could, I couldn’t be bothered to find out.”

The Staalmarker prince did not quite look like a kid in a candy store, but he was grinning broadly when he leaned over and kissed Arietta heatedly. “Excellent!” he declared after he pulled away. “I dunno if we should make it official just yet,” he said, “but that is exactly what I was hoping to hear,” he said, kissing her again. He looked at the door. “Quickie, then lunch?” he asked. “I’ve barely had anything all day. If we go too long, I might pass out,” he said with a chuckle.

“Make what official, a betrothal? You should probably talk to my mother and brother first...they are going to want to sign off on it, you know. My brother probably would easily, but my mother...well, she likes to ‘vet’ em.” Arietta explained with a giggle. “A quickie? Fuck that...gonna have to be thorough, and then we can feast...and maybe get high.”

“I’m not sure I want to face your mum and brother about betrothal while I’m stoned,” he said. “Seriously, I might pass out if we go too long,” he added with a laugh. “And I’m sure you’ve noticed how boring I am when I’m unconscious.”

“Not as boring as you think,” she said playfully as she began fumbling at his clothes. Perhaps wisely, Vitus did not tug on that particular thread too hard. “Best be quick about it then, since food, and your father awaits. A shame I won’t be able to call him ‘Rod’...I mean, that’s a pretty cool name. Like Gummyburger.”

Vitus did not quite blanch at the last words, but he looked slightly worried. “Please tell me you haven’t been calling the General ‘Gummyburger’ to his face,” he said, looking pained, while reaching under her dress and fumbling at her underclothes. He paused for a moment, getting up and shutting the door to the room and locking it. Gods only knew how a passing Edomite would react to shameless fornication.

“Yeah, I have...he didn’t seem to mind, I think he likes it,” Arietta laughed. “And besides, he strikes me as being harmless anyway. Just a nice, funny guy. He would have to be, considering how long he has been around. I know my Uncle Albert has bitching about him for years, but he’s a douche anyway, so who cares what he thinks,” she explained as she did the rest of the work for him, finding herself without undergarments, which she then proceeded to throw at him.

Vitus lazily batted down the thrown panties, before stepping back over to her. He coaxed her into turning around while he dropped his pants. “I wouldn’t say the guy’s harmless. On the other hand, he doesn’t seem willing to spare time or effort on petty grudges.” He hiked up her dress and asked her “Ready, hon?”

“...I am always ready.” Arietta smirked as she looked behind her at Vitus. “The real question is, are you ready? No wonder they call it Staalmark, considering all the stalling you do,” she teased him.

He declined to even dignify the pun with snide response, simply starting instead.

He started somewhat slow before picking up speed, holding onto Arietta while he did.

Arietta matched his thrusts with her own, encouraging him all the while. “Yes, there we go...just like that...don’t stop…” she was certainly a noisy one, not hesitating to vocalize her pleasures with audible moans and the occasional grunt or swear, which she did in Ghantish, the most common of which being, “arraio!”

They continued for several minutes. Calling it a “quickie” was somewhat misleading, because the act lasted for quite some time. As they worked at it, pacing changed, Vitus applied more and less power at times, and, only a few minutes in, he had started pulling Arietta’s hair.

She liked that. The combination of the act itself, along with the hair pulling, led to her feeling it come on. She screamed, and could feel herself shake and tighten. “God, I love you Vitus!” she said loudly and gruffly. “Give it to me!”

He obliged her, giving her everything he had, as hard as he could. He managed to hold on long enough to let her finish before he followed her into ecstasy. When he did, he held her tight against him on a last deep push. He held it for a long moment before relaxing and pulling back.


He sat back and panted, breathing deeply from exertion. After a moment of collecting his breath, he gave a small whistle. “Maybe we should change it up more often like this,” he said, giving Arietta’s tush a playful smack.

“...I am certainly not opposed to that idea,” she said, panting. The smack made her squeal, and then she went to lay down on the bed. “Although now, I don’t know how I will go to the buffet in this condition. Last thing your dad wants to see is me dripping during lunch,” she said with a riotous laugh. “Or Gummyburger for that matter.”

“Err…” Vitus looked slightly embarrassed for having contributed to the problem. “I’d say shower up, but I feel like that might be noticeable. Towel off, maybe? I mean, not that my parents don’t know we’ve been carrying on, but there’s appearances to maintain, if possible.” He shrugged. “I guess… I’ll roll with whatever you’re comfortable with. At least the General probably won’t be there. Even odds the guy made himself a sandwich and left.”

“...You, know, you could always eat it out of me...” she said with a wicked grin. “That’s called Ghantish pie.”

Vitus was actually visibly grossed out by that one. “You know my policy on that. Once it comes out of me, it doesn’t go back in,” he said, shaking his head with a chuckle that sounded suspiciously like a gag. “You mean you don’t have some way of dealing with it in that bag of tricks you ladies are always carrying around?” he asked slyly.

“Yeah, don’t worry, I can think of something...oh, and between you and me, my brother is into that I hear,” Arietta finished with a snigger as she got off the bed and went digging through her shoulder bag for a pad that she got situated before putting her panties back on.

Vitus stared at the wall for a moment. “I… really needed to know that, I guess?” he said, his voice full of a mix of sarcasm and the desire to forget what he had just heard. He clarified almost immediately after, just to be sure. “I’m reasonably sure I could have happily lived my whole life without knowing that, actually.”

He stood up and pulled his pants back up and tucked his shirt back in, straightening everything out before turning to Arietta. “Once again, I’m ready when you are,” he said, grinning.

Arietta shrugged. “That’s how I feel about a lot of things.” With everything where it needed to be and her shoulderbag in place, she smiled and kissed Vitus. “After you, loverboy.”

He pushed open the door, offering Arietta his arm, partly out of politeness, partly in jest (lots of Allamunnic women might have rolled their eyes and given a good-natured chuckle to such an offer) and they began to walk down the hall, to find lunch.


*******


Several months later
Inperiala Palace
Ghish, Ghant


The Emperor of Ghant was expecting company, and important company at that. Considering the occasion, he dressed to match the occasion, in fine court dress, black trimmed with gold and white. He looked like his uncle Albert when he dressed like that, although the resemblance was unintentional. Nathan also deigned to receive his guest on the Obsidian Throne, perched upon like an eagle upon its roost. He gave only the most cursory glances to his guards that lined the expansive throne hall, some concealed in the shadows of the large high columns that towered high to the ceiling.

Vitus certainly was impressed when he stepped into the throne room, looking around. He had been raised around enough impressive, beautiful edifices, however, that while he appreciated the beauty of the room and the palace as a whole, it was not something that necessarily put him in awe, per se.

He stepped forward over what seemed like a somewhat impractically vast expanse between the door and the throne, approaching the proper distance away, as he had been instructed, before observing the proper courtesies and etiquette. He ran through the routines smoothly, with practiced ease, despite his inward revolt. Like many Allamunnae, even though he was more used to them than most, stiff formality was still something that made him itchy, so to speak.

With that done, he waited on Nathan to begin their conversation.

Looking down at the younger man, Nathan grinned. “You have never lacked for knowledge of formality, Vitus of Staalmark...never failing to impress.” Leaning back with his arms on the jagged armrests of the throne, the Emperor’s voice carried.

“You may address His Majesty,” the herald announced, slamming his staff into the hard stone floor, sending an echo throughout the chamber.

Nathan gave the herald a look, before saying. “Enough of that. The formalities are stifling enough as it is, without all the butting of staves.” Nodding meekly, the herald stepped back to further to the side of the throne.

Vitus smiled, somewhat relieved. He probably could have kept up with the formalities, but it would have started to annoy him, and his pleasant exterior might have slipped a little if he had needed to contend with such things.

“Well, you know, all I know is imperial etiquette and breathing. No room for anything else. Don’t even know my own name. Who’s Vitus?” he joked, smiling good-naturedly at Nathan. “It’s good to see you, sir,” he said, as he approached somewhat closer.

Chuckling, Nathan leaned to the side. “The same...very good to see you again. I wonder though, what the nature of your visit consists of.” Nathan had his hunches, but wasn’t about to assume.

“Oh, that,” said Vitus cheerfully. No sense in being bashful or anything less than direct about it. “I’m planning on asking Arietta to marry me. I wanted to make sure I had your approval and blessing, and, I assume, by extension, that of your family, before I do so,” he explained.

“...I suppose a conversation is in order regarding that. I appreciate you coming to me on this, as it is upholding the proper courtesy.” Rising from the throne, Nathan descended the steps. “In any case I figured it was only a matter of time.” Arriving at the base of the steps, Nathan put a hand on Vitus’s shoulder. “Come, let us speak more privately in my solar. There are a few things I would like to know, politics especially, should you have the stomach for such talk.” the Emperor pivoted on his feet to initiate walking in the direction of the door leading into the inner halls.

The Staalmarker managed to bite off his more automatic response (”Oh, goody, I love politics,”) and simply nodded. “Yes, that would probably be wise,” he said. He fell in behind the Emperor, walking almost at his side, just off Nathan’s hip.

Once they were in the well lit, ornately decorated hallway, Nathan turned and spoke as they walked, using his hands as well as his mouth to communicate, as was his way. “So...what is the political situation of the states like of late, and of Staalmark specifically?”

He shrugged. “It’s stable. Father is in good health. Things run smoothly. To be honest, the State Diet does a lot of the work. We’ve managed to not piss too many people off. And even if things weren’t stable…” he laughed. “The General won’t let things get out of hand. He seems to take civil violence kind of personally. And even if someone wanted to remove us, he is pretty much a fact of life, at this point,” he said. “Or was there something more specific you were wondering about?” he asked.

“Yes, the elephant in the room is the General,” Nathan said firmly but in a resigned tone. “The fact that he insulted my Uncle Albert by saying he should hang from the end of a rope, and saying how he could execute my aunt Caroline, doesn’t leave me feeling too thrilled about how he thinks about my family. My grandfather died before the General took office, which is fortunate, because had such insults been made while he was still alive, his response would have been grave. And while I am less brazen than my late grandfather, I do worry about how the General will, if at all, conduct himself on my sister’s account. And as a man with younger sisters yourself, I am sure you might understand how I would feel if she was...threatened. For when it comes to her wellbeing, I am a fact of life.”

Vitus nodded back. “I do understand. But… well, perhaps you have dealt with the man less than we have. But I think a look at his record might ease your concerns about Arietta’s safety, as well as Caroline’s -- and remember, she is family of mine, as well, even if our relation is more distant,” he said. “Do you know how many Allamunnic citizens have been killed on General’s orders since he took power?” he asked. He had done his research in preparation for the topic, because he thought it would likely come up.

“No, I do not, but even still, his record when it comes to the highborn leaves much to be desired.” Nathan walked past some guards down another smaller hallway, and then he pushed open the door to his solar, holding it open for Vitus. “I am not a fan of this title legislation he hammered through...the man seems to have no respect for the highborn.”

“I do know the answer. Six. Over fifteen years, six Allamunnic citizens have been killed on his orders. All with trials. The first was Edmund Jaal. I don’t have more than the vaguest of memories of his rule, but by all accounts, the man was a cruel, psychotic despot. It was well-deserved. The second, third, and fourth, were all together. Terrorists, guilty of the murder of more than a hundred people in the name of ideology. The fifth was a serial killer who terrorized Roan for several months. And the sixth was another violent opposition leader, who had ordered other attacks against civilians.

“Every one of them got a trial. The evidence bore out the verdicts. And I know, from Caroline’s own mouth, that Grimmeburger has outright stated he considers her an Allamunnic citizen. I suspect, if he told Albert he could execute her, he was trying to illustrate a point that she was under his protection now, not Albert’s. Because unless she did something to earn such a fate, he wouldn’t do it.”

“Six people in fifteen years. There are free democracies that have ordered more deaths than that for political reasons,” he said. “And yes, the man doesn’t like the high born, particularly, but by all accounts, including my father’s -- and his is the opinion I trust most, here -- he is not one to let his personal grudges interfere with his work. Hell, he thinks the only reason he makes threats against Albert is that he considers the man a threat to the country, and sees it as the best way to make sure he backs off.” He shrugged. “Frankly, if I had the history he does with him, I’m not sure I would be any more civil.”

“Besides, such legislation is perfectly consistent with how he has always run things. He does not seem to be gunning for the high born. He just insists that, where the Federation is concerned, all citizens are equal under the law. Even if it robs us of certain privileges, that hardly seems unfair.” Perhaps that was typical of the Allamunnae, even much of its nobility. They might not enjoy losing those privileges, but few of them would argue such a measure was unfair in its goal.

“He doesn’t seem to have pulled his punches before, when he thought they needed to be thrown. If he truly was going to let his personal feelings rule on that, and if he hated us as much as you seem to think, we’d all be either dead or in exile by now,” he said. “He seems to hate the abuse of power far more than privilege by birth, if the way he’s reacted to corrupt members of his own administration are any indication. And it’s hardly unfair to say that those born into positions of privilege and power are somewhat more prone to such corruption or misuse of power.”

“In short, do I love the guy? No. But I think that, while admirable and understandable, he’s not a threat to your family’s safety.” He paused, and thought for a moment. “Well, no more so than any other person in a position of power.”

Nathan listened intently to all that was being said in his solar, shutting the door behind them before pacing around the comfortable room with cozy furniture, bookshelves, a large rectangular table and a pitcher of sweet tea with no ice in the middle of it, with two glasses beside it. “Well, that is certainly reassuring. I can’t expect him to get along with Uncle Albert, when even me myself cannot. Alas, I should say that if you intend to marry my sister, that it will be your responsibility to see to it that she stays out of trouble. As I recall when we first met at the Star Ball a year ago, you told me not to worry, that she would be safe with you and that you would be responsible for two if necessary. I hope that hasn’t changed, because she is a creature that has known nothing in her life besides the privilege afforded to her by her status. I fear what kind of trouble she could land herself in without that to protect her. And make no mistake, Vitus, that I constantly worry about her doing stupid things only because I know how careless she is.” Pulling out a seat for him at the table, Nathan went around to the other side and sat down. “Tea?” he asked as he poured a glass.

“As do I. That has not changed. If anything, I worry about that more now than I did even before,” he said. “Although, I am happy to say, she has done at least a somewhat better job of moderating, or at least thinking through her actions, of late. At least when she has been with me. I think that is a good sign for the future, but I will also be there to protect her, if and when mistakes happen,” he said.

At the offer of tea, Vitus nodded. “Yes, please. I appreciate it,” he said. “But yes. That change, no matter how slight it may be, is one of the reasons I want to marry her. One doesn’t try to improve themselves for someone they don’t care about. It bodes well for the future. Our future,” he said.

“Yes, of course.” Nathan poured Vitus a glass of tea as well, and then he proceeded to drink his own, long and deep. “How does your mother and father feel about my sister, and this potential engagement?” Nathan probed, leaning back into his chair.

“Mum’s rather happy about the prospect. I think she’s just excited that her kids are starting to get hitched, or at least be in that situation,” he said, before drinking some of the tea himself. It was quite refreshing. “Dad is… pleased, although I think Ari sometimes gets on his nerves during prolonged exposure. But he keeps that down for my sake. And I’m pretty sure he knows I could have done far worse, so if he isn’t quite as excited as Mum, I think he’s still happy.”

After a moment’s, thought, he figured he should broach a related subject. “I do think he’s going to want a similar agreement as to when Caroline married into the Izaaksunn family, though.” That agreement had essentially prohibited House Gentry from claiming the Onnerian throne, with exceptions made for Caroline’s direct descendents.

“...Are you referring to the arrangement made between my grandfather and King Tomus V?” Nathan asked with a furrowed brow. “I am not certain how that situation relates to this one.”

Vitus shrugged. “I don’t know for sure. He mentioned it in passing. From what I’m given to understand, it’s actually become something of standard practice for Allamunnic royal families now, if they marry into foreign nobility and royalty. Naturally, the General’s encouraged it, but I think there’s a general sentiment that people want to avoid having outright foreigners ruling parts of the country, even nominally.”

“I will do so quite easily, although the fact that I have to is ridiculous. I have no claim to Staalmark, ancestral or otherwise. To do so would make me an usurper, no better than Mikel Izaaksunn. Yet if it will assuage your father and the General, I will offer my word without hesitation,” the Emperor offered.

Vitus laughed. “Please, I have no doubt that there’s no intention of doing so. I don’t think the others honestly suspect you would attempt something of that sort either. But… who is to know what our children, or grandchildren, might be like?” he asked. “I mean, for all I know, I’m going to end up, despite my best efforts to the contrary, raising a little brood of horrors,” he said. “Things like that happen in any given family, especially one that’s big enough. I suspect those agreements are more to guard against that, than anything.”

He shrugged. “Besides, if it makes you feel any better, I don’t think it’s just when dealing with Ghantish families,” he said. “But yes, I appreciate the offer,” he said. “Thank you. I’m sure it will ease some small nagging worry for Father,” he said.

“This is true and fair enough...might I digress, has the General expressed any opinions in regards to her, or to this potential proposal?” Nathan asked, after nodding in understanding to the previous point.

Vitus shrugged again. “I’m not sure he much cares, so long as it does not complicate or interfere with the smooth running the country. I think that is why he likes those sorts of agreements,” he said. “It keeps dynastic marriages from making internal affairs messier than they need to be.” He thought about it another moment. “But outside of that, I gather he doesn’t really concern himself with it. I think Ari said she’s met him, once, and I’d be surprised if she didn’t irritate him more than a little bit, but I think most people sort of annoy him, so that’s hardly remarkable.”

“That doesn’t really surprise me, on either account,” Nathan laughed at that telling. “What are relations like with Onneria, and the Izaaksunns in general? I only ask because of my kinfolk there...I care about them deeply, and I wonder how that dynamic might play out in the future.”

Vitus laughed. “We’re fine with them. They’re family for us, too.” Without thinking, Vitus added “I mean, at least they’re not Kristholms.” His smile narrowed slightly. “But seriously, we’re past a lot of the dynastic squabbling. All on the same team now, more or less,” he said, diplomatically. “I think if we were Vymsaeans, there might be fist-fights at family reunions with them,” he said, referring to how Onnerians and Vymsaeans famously did not get along. “But otherwise…”

“We are descended from Edaalya Kristholm,” Nathan pointed at the portrait hanging on the wall. “That might explain why my sister is such a pain in the ass,” he said with a laugh. “Despite that, tell me how you find her, and how she finds you. Because she can be very...fleeting, you know.”

He nodded. “Well, that probably explains it, then,” he said with a laugh. At Nathan’s question, though, he got serious. Well, more serious. “I’m still trying to sort that out, a little bit, to be honest. I love her. I love her spontaneity and vibrancy. She leaves me scratching my head at other moments, or even occasionally a little frustrated, but I’m never bored with her. And she has a good heart,” he finished. He absolutely did not add “and she’s fantastic in bed.”

“As for what she feels about me… I don’t know. That would be a question to ask her. I mean, she’s told me she loves me. And I can’t imagine she would have stuck with me this long if she didn’t.” He shrugged. Again, absolutely not mentioning anything even tangentially related to their frequent bedroom activities.

“So I am assuming you would be faithful to her then?” Nathan asked, in a firm tone.

Vitus was mildly confused by the question. Why would he want to marry her if he had no intention of being faithful to her. “Err, yes? I’m not sure why you’d ask that. Why wouldn’t I be?”

“Some men take liberties with their marriages, and dishonor their wives. I have a lot of respect for such loyalty, and I know Arietta does too.” Shifting in his seat and pouring some more tea, he took a deep breath. “At this juncture, I feel convinced that you are the right man for the job, so to speak. She is lucky really, to have a man you like you in her life. Especially considering the Edomites have been trying to get her.”

“I would not be asking to marry her if I did not intend to remain faithful.” He started smiling at Nathan’s next words. “Thank you. I’m lucky that she wants me in hers, as well,” he said. “The whole business in New Edom has had me worried for her, as well,” he added with a small nod.

“She went there to visit her friend Lavinia Nabal...our mother and the twins Charles and Amelia went too, along with some of our cousins on mother’s side. I doubt anyone at Betharan would be as stupid as to mistreat any of them,” Nathan agreed in concern. “Of course, really, this only leaves one thing…”

“Which would be?” Vitus asked, expectantly.

Nathan swallowed his tea and leaned forward. “That if you ever mistreat her, I will have to kill you,” he said with a sheepish grin, despite his efforts to be serious.

“Oh, oh, well that,” Vitus said with a chuckle. “I’d expect nothing less.” He paused, and decided to get to the point, then. “So, we have your blessing, then?” he asked.

“You have mine,” Nathan nodded with a smile. “But you will need to get our mother’s. Her’s won’t be that hard to get, provided you answer all of her invasive questions to her satisfaction…”

Vitus sighed, then, although the grin on his face betrayed his actual emotions. “Oh, well, I suppose I shall just have to weather the storm of inquiry,” he said. “When is she going to want to carry out her probe?”

“First chance she gets to speak to you in person...she is in Fineberg now with Arietta. You can either go there, or wait until they come back here, and then you can take care of all your business in one fell swoop,” Nathan suggested, examining his potential future brother-in-law.

“Err, it is New Edom. I’d just as soon wait,” he said. “We’ll pick a day when we can all be here. I’ll make sure my family comes to visit that day, and then... “ he smiled. “It’ll be good to have everyone on-hand for the proposal, I think.”

“I think so as well...at least that will give me the opportunity to talk to your father and give him the assurances that he would like to receive,” Nathan offered with a grin. “In the meantime, feel free to relax and hang out for a few days or what have you.” Thinking for a minute, he considered something else. “Our step-father is currently in a condo in Galan...he and our mother haven’t been getting along. I suppose if you want to go talk to him on your own time, he would appreciate that. I have never gotten along with the man, but he is the closest thing to a father Arietta has ever had. I never really appreciated that until I became a father myself...I mean to let him give her away at the wedding, should it come to fruition. Seems like the right thing to do.”

Vitus nodded. “It could not hurt to talk to him. He’ll be family, soon enough, I hope. And it seems like the most appropriate thing. I had not yet actually met him, so that must certainly change,” he added.

“Probably so, Vitus,” Nathan responded, downing another glass of tea. “Probably so…”
Last edited by Ghant on Wed Jun 24, 2015 12:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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New Edom
Postmaster of the Fleet
 
Posts: 22923
Founded: Mar 14, 2011
Democratic Socialists

Postby New Edom » Wed Jun 24, 2015 8:35 pm

Off the Coast of Southern Bara

"Isn't it dangerous?" asked Nicholas Cromie, Count Lalery's friend. He had a short dark brown goatee, neat hair combed forward, wore a tropical t-shirt and board shorts and flip flops, standing with Count Thomas Lalery as they looked out at a rippling green sea, wind ruffling the tops of waves, a great expanse of white streaked sky above. Gulls mewed as they followed the yacht hoping for scraps. They had met at school, and Cromie had gone on to develop the social media website MyPlace (which he had later dropped) and made a fortune. Lalery was Lalery.

"No, but I'll tell you a little secret--there is an entire naval patrol out there protecting us," said Lalery with a slap on his back. "But if you'd rather be at Quality Bay--"

"No, no, I love your boat, Tom. It's great. Not that I'm not looking forward to Quality Bay too."

The yacht, named the Terpsichore had four individual decks: the lower deck, which housed three general staterooms aft, the engine room amidships and the crew quarters forward, not to mention an exterior swimming platform at the stern with stairs descending from the main deck; the main deck, which ascended to from those stairs took you to another exterior deck, this one sheltered, followed by the main lounge, the dining room and the galley, and then a hallway with two VIP staterooms to the left and right and Lalery's room (the owner's suite) at the end; the upper deck, with another exterior deck aft (above the sheltered deck one level below) used for outdoor dining and connected to the sky lounge, which had a full wet bar half-inside and half-outside, followed by the gymnasium and captain's cabin amidships and the bridge (where the captain drove the ship) to the fore; and the sun deck, an exposed roof-top deck with lounge chairs and the Jacuzzi.

The crew consisted of captain, first officer, chief and second engineer, bos'n, bos'n's mate, two stewards, cook, cook's assistant, medical officer, masseuse and physical therapist. They were all former naval personnel with lifelong loyalty to the Royal Family, and were very discreet. They had to be. They often had to pretend to be blind to things which would scandalize the subjects of the House of Obed...

Aboard today were a number of other guests as well--Prince Enoch, who was chatting with the captain and planning on bagging some game fish, Caroline Zuria, Princess Jocasta, Michael of Dakmoor, Arietta, Queen Rebecca, Lavinia Nabal and Colonel Steven Horvath.

"I'm surrounded by jackals, Nicky," said Lalery grim, gesturing towards the blue-grey line of land to the north. "That fucking Campion wants to bring in every corporate vulture and big bank. We've had almost every government stuck doing that, even Perrin had a hard time not doing it. Six factories owned by Wolf Armaments in our own country, countless others owned by auto companies, pharmaceutical companies--and Campion wants more. The Lecks just want to socialize everything. The Free Congress want us back in the 18th Century with a mercantile economy."

"You're the Minister of Finance and the Queen's cousin," Nicholas Cromie pointed out. "You've got a lotta pull, man. What do you want to do?"

"The micro loans thing isn't enough. The banks that were supporting it are running dry and they're not really into that, they were only doing it to support businesses that have pulled out. That's the whole problem. These corporations decide there are greener pastures, poof, there's our part of it gone." Lalery shook his head. "I want to build a legacy, Nicky."

"Listen," said Nicholas. "We should work together on this. Entreprenur based investments. I've been thinking about that, ever since you called me. Say someone wants to repair their farm in Bara. So you back them, you say loan them enough to buy a tractor, backhoe, thresher, whatever they need. Some families can all chip in for that, then jointly own the machinery, and the farm gets fixed up and planting again. Same thing for the little factories--the bicycle shops, the seamstresses, basket makers, fruit packers. And it's not a loan--" he slapped the rail suddenly. "Hey, that's it, Tom, it's not a loan, it's an investment in your economy. With a planned return. So don't do it through a bank, we can put together a plan where the government backs it."

"But we could also give some oversight--I mean you're not going to send people from Callaban every time, Nicky," said Lalery thoughtfully. "We could get Isidium to help out just through identifying the needs. I mean they're spending a ton of effort, but if they were part of helping people help themselves...and we could get companies that provide the goods on board too."

"The Lalery Plan." Nicholas said generously. "Hell you can call it that. And maybe get the Recon Foundation to back it, they have money coming out of their ass. Why not?"

Lalery raised his glass to him and grinned. "Why not indeed?" He looked down to where the others were frolicking, got a glimpse of Caroline, and smiled. "Damn. I think I owe myself a reward before I get seriously down to work on this."

"Er, did you um..." Nicholas, the entrepreneur, the jet setter from Callaban, was suddenly blushing like a 12 year old at a brothel. "Um..."

"Oh yes, I put in a word with Lavinia. She's game. she's game for anything, she's a sport," said Lalery. "Be discreet though, publicity freaks her out a lot, she's terrified of getting arrested again. You can comfort her."

"Wow...a real live Countess...I can't wait..." Nicholas enthused as they went down towards the swimming platform where Lavinia Nabal, in a dark pink bikini that nearly blended with her olive tanned skin, knelt slathering lotion on her bare arms, cleavage trembling with her movements. Lalery was amused--Nicholas was so star struck by royalty and aristocracy even though he was probably richer than most he encountered. He often met women more beautiful (admittedly through artificial means) than Lavinia including film stars and super models, had his own plane, had three homes and in Callaban never touched the street unless he felt like it. But he had had to rehearse before talking to Rebecca and Jocasta. People were funny. Nicholas loved visiting New Edom; Lalery loved visiting Callaban, each escaping himself in a way with the exchange. Duty stood over Lalery's shoulder like a specter he could never evade, even when he frolicked and schemed...

But he never showed it, which was why, sunglasses on, bare powerful chest exposed, wearing only his trunks, his strong blunt fingers surrounding his vodka glass, said casually to Caroline, "Hey, you wanna do some fishing today?"
"The three articles of Civil Service faith: it takes longer to do things quickly, it's far more expensive to do things cheaply, and it's more democratic to do things in secret." - Jim Hacker "Yes Minister"

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Hittanryan
Powerbroker
 
Posts: 9042
Founded: Mar 10, 2011
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Hittanryan » Thu Jun 25, 2015 12:30 am

Newell-Nolan Corporate Headquarters
Puerto Rojas, Adiron


The Puerto Rojas skyline was distinctive enough that it was reused constantly. In Adiran media this was THE city, a capital of culture and high finance. The Newell-Nolan Building represented the latter, with a sloped roof and a few terraces, but otherwise monolithic glass and steel. It happened to tower over its immediate surroundings, which meant its profile contributed to the iconic Puerto Rojas skyline, a symbol of Adiran financial might.

Then, like a swarm of multicolored ants at the base of a lamppost, were the protestors on the street. As Jeff Silvers emerged from the subway, it struck him that the signs all started to sound the same after going by them every day. "PEOPLE BEFORE PROFIT," "BUST UP THE BANKS," "NO TO PRIVATIZATION," "YES IT REALLY IS YOUR FAULT." The investment consultant's clean-shaven look and sharp business suit contrasted with the t-shirts, jeans, tank tops, shorts, and beards. 'They're gonna have to get a job someday,' Silvers thought.

Entering the lobby through the large revolving doors, the protestors' chanting went mercifully silent. The main lobby had a floor of polished colored marble, lit almost entirely by sunlight pouring in through the high windows. He thought about getting a coffee at the Pete's over in the corner, but looking past the round tables, decorative plants, and steady stream of caffeine addicts saw that there was a line which would delay him unacceptably. Couldn't be late for the Director of International Banking, after all.

Silvers made his way to the bank of elevators in the center of the building. He happened to arrive neither early or late, neither one of the first or last ones in. Jostled a bit in the middle as they packed in, the elevator was fast but it would stop on a bunch of different floors. He passed some of the time by checking his emails on his phone, again spying that one from Journeyman. Silvers hadn't told Laura about the newest offer, much less Tommy or Anna. It was looking too good to pass up; even if it was in New Laconia. They'd moved three times before, they'd get used to it, right? They had the money, no matter where they ended up, to be comfortable. Tommy and Anna always seemed to make friends at school wherever they wound up. Shouldn't be a big deal.

Finally the elevator dinged on his floor. Curiously he was one of only two people to get off there, the other a harried intern carrying several coffees who bolted in the other direction as soon as the door opened. Making his way past a bank of offices, a woman stepped out in front of him. She had wide hips hugged by a business skirt, heels that clacked along the tile floor, and brown hair in a bun. Turned out they were going the same way, she opened the door for him with a tight smile and a nod. The lines on her face suggested she was middle-aged.

Inside the door he was greeted with a panoramic window looking out, and down, on the rest of Puerto Rojas. Standing near the head of the table was a portly man with a white mustache, bald head, and a suit and tie that if sold could likely purchase a small town in Hostillia. The man appraised both of them coldly as several others filtered in and took a seat at a modern but high-quality boardroom table. Seats had great lumbar support, too, and they weren't even where people spent all day working. Silvers approved.

"I still think your look won't be complete until you start chewing on a cigar, Rob," the woman said. Silvers recognized her as Deputy Director of International Banking. He was the Director, Robert Seiler.

"This is a non-smoking building, Jung. We'd have to hold the meeting up on the roof with 70 kilometer an hour winds and no WiFi," the man replied. There was polite laughter all around the table. Rule number 4: laugh at the Director's jokes.

The meeting got underway, and Silvers tuned out for quite a bit of it. Mostly risk assessments, estimates of capital, things above Silvers' salary. "So, the next order of business: South Acheron," the Director said, shutting down a meandering discussion on some Noviteran business. "For this, we brought in our go-to certified international investment analyst. Some of you know him, Jeff Silvers," he said, motioning towards him. Silvers caught a few looks, one or two smiles, a few neutral glances, and indifference. "What do you have for us, Jeff?"

Straightening his tie, he started in his characteristic dry tone. "Well, I imagine we've all turned on the news some time in the past month?" Not everyone had to laugh at his jokes, and didn't. He didn't care, and continued. "We've got civil war in New Edom, Gloria Regian independence, a conflict of indeterminate status in Dengali, and the formation of a new economic union which includes external tariffs."

"So at what point do we get the big red pen out to draw an X through that whole part of the map?" one of the stooges quipped.

"Not yet," Silvers said, not bothering to expend the effort to retort in a witty fashion. He noticed the Director hadn't diverted his attention from him. "On the surface, it looks bad. Civil war, regime changes, uncertainty. It'll look bad for anyone who's not playing the long game. They'll be pulling out."

"All right, Mr. Silvers, you can skip to the part where you tell us why we shouldn't," the Deputy Director said.

Blinking, Silvers only saw Seiler's gaze shift a little before turning back to him. "Well, with New Edom, our contacts in Fineberg met with the Minister of Finance."

"Whose Minister of Finance? There's a couple running around from what I understand," someone chided.

"The only one whose government is almost guaranteed to end up in control of most of the country's: the Monarchists," he said. "Representatives met with Count Thomas Lalery, who expressed a desire to see real foreign investment in New Edom."

"Risk doesn't get much higher than a civil war," another faceless voice said.

Sighing, Silvers replied "That's what the short-sighted financial institutions will believe. If you look at New Edom's recent history, it has a tendency to bounce back after each disturbance. And for one reason or another, we've never been part of that. After the First Civil War, there was uncertainty whether the peace would hold. After the Second Civil War, New Edom was partitioned and warlords ran amok. During the Pahath-Moab years we didn't know what our government was going to do."

"To be fair, Mr. Silvers," the Director spoke up, "those were legitimate concerns, were they not?"

"Yes, I believe I advised this company to that effect. For the first time, however, this time might be different," Silvers replied. There was some skeptical murmuring. "Let's start with our government. They're actually working towards peace, publicly praising the efforts of the Edomite government under the Regent. Compare to when they ran hot and cold for two years with Pahath-Moab over the Imperium."

"Then look at the leadership of New Edom. The Regent has been a moderating force, promoting elections, brokering a peaceful resolution in Gloria Regis, sought to curb reprisals in Harbourtown, and is generally pursuing peace in his country by all means necessary. You have a Queen, whatever the state of her mental health, working to broker peace, and the Adiran public is growing aware of her efforts.

"Finally, the country is working towards elections. Regular elections, as long as they're run fairly and competently, means they won't have a civil war every time there's a change in government."

"A very rosy picture," a skeptic said.

"The short-sighted firm only sees the here and now: violence and civil war. The smart firm looks ahead. Right now the upheaval is going to be scaring investors away. This is our chance to get in on the ground floor of what might finally be a stable Edomite government," Silvers replied.

The Director's expression was unreadable. He only said "And Gloria Regis?"

Inhaling, Silvers said "Funding for infrastructure, utilities, defense, and police was all supplemented by tax revenue originating on the mainland. That's gone now, and their tax base won't be enough to maintain what they already have, much less expand. Bonds could be lucrative there."

"Seems simple enough," Seiler replied. "Now what do you make of SAEC?"

"Finally got through the red tape and debates it seems. That external tariff...we're lucky in that none of the signatories so far are major financial leaders, but it'll sting a bit."

"Anything we can do about it?" the Deputy Director asked.

"Might be more political for now," Silvers mused. "Lazodiria and Valik might feel a pinch and their voters won't be happy. We can hope there isn't enough competition for it to seriously impact us in the meantime."

"Thank you, Mr. Silvers, your opinions as always very insightful. It sounds as though we would be potentially missing an opportunity if we at the very least didn't look into some of your suggestions on New Edom and Gloria Regis," the Director said. Silvers shuffled his papers, catching a couple of jealous looks from around the table. Key was to ignore them.
Last edited by Hittanryan on Thu Jun 25, 2015 4:01 am, edited 5 times in total.
In-character name of the nation is "Adiron," because I like the name better.

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Ghant
Minister
 
Posts: 2410
Founded: Feb 11, 2013
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Ghant » Fri Jun 26, 2015 10:31 pm

“On a Boat”
Off the Coast of Southern Bara
New Edom


…Count Lalery’s yacht was named Terpischore, and it had four individual decks, much to Arietta’s amusement. She was a bit too tipsy to think about what was what, only that there were cozy rooms, a dining room, jacuzzi and a swimming platform. This is like Nathan’s yacht, she thought as she lounged around. Although if truth be told, Arietta used it more than Nathan did, especially in the summer for her parties. Oh yeah.

At present, Count Lalery, his friend Nicholas Cromie, Jocasta, Rebecca, Michael, Arietta, her mother, Lavinia and Colonel Steven Horvath. Were all aboard. Michael lingered around Lalery and Jocasta, Caroline was off by Rebecca, and Arietta stuck close to Lavinia, trying to make idle conversation in her white two piece swimsuit.

“Hey, Lavinia, I got a story for you,” Arietta began, clearing her throat and downing something alcoholic. “So, about a month ago, me and the squad went out on a Saturday night to this fancy club downtown called the Electric Lighthouse. They had this really good DJ and a bunch of VIPs going and shit…it was the place to be that night for sure, everybody was going. Well, by the time we rolled up, there was a line all the way down the block. Fortunately we had a limo drop us off, and was scheduled to pick us up at 3 AM too when the place closed. But oh my God, the line was long as fuck, Lavy, like it would have taken us forever to get in!”

Sipping on her drink again, Arietta continued. “So here’s what we did. We just walked past the line, all the way down, right up to the entrance. The bouncer was like, ‘who are you?’ And I was like, ‘dude, I am Princess Arietta, I am VIP as fuck bro, check the list.’ So he checks it and sees my name, because any and all big clubs better have my name on the list, or else! So he was like, ‘sure, head on in,’ and I was like, ‘hey my squad too,’ because I can’t have fun without my girls, and my bodyguards to protect me. But then something crazy happened.”

Arietta’s face turned red. “So this chick in the middle of the line yells out, ‘hey, who the fuck are you to cut in line? This is bullshit.’ So I turned around and yelled back, ‘bitch, please. I am Princess Arietta, and I don’t stand in lines.’ But then she was like, ‘I voted for that republic referendum, to get your ho ass out on the street like the rest of us.’ Oh man, I got so pissed, I walked up to her and I was like, ‘bitch, another word out of you and you are gonna get your ass beat. Now shut up and ease up off me before your skank ass gets knocked the fuck out.’ Then I turned my back to her and walked right up in the club with all my goons. Bitches need to watch their mouths and know who they fucking with, you know what I am saying girl?”

Meanwhile, Caroline was lounging in a seat, laying down and enjoying herself, when Lalery approached her. She was wearing a blue two piece suit, with a sun hat and white sunglasses on. Lalery also had sunglasses on, his bare powerful chest exposed, wearing only his trunks and his strong blunt fingers surrounding his vodka glass. He said casually to Caroline, "Hey, you wanna do some fishing today?"

Caroline turned her head to look at the strapping young Count. “Fishing? I have never gone fishing before, Count. My father and brothers have, and often do, but never me or my sisters. I am afraid that if I were to accept your invitation, you would have to teach me. Granted, I am never afraid of learning new tricks…
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New Edom
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Posts: 22923
Founded: Mar 14, 2011
Democratic Socialists

Postby New Edom » Tue Jun 30, 2015 2:53 pm

Betharan Palace

"Is it your intention to stay Edenist forever?" Queen Rebecca said with a brittle smile, her eyes glittering as she looked at her oldest daughter.

Not a tan line on her, Mara sat with her legs crossed on an elegant 18th Century chair, her hair loose at the back, braided at the sides, looking healthy and strong, a delicate demi-tasse of tea on a little saucer; Precious lay adoringly at her feet. Mara had wept and hugged the little creature with more enthusiasm than she had embraced her mother and sister.

"Maybe, I haven't decided yet," said Mara. She had greeted Michael with cool friendly courtesy and a kiss on the cheek, had hugged and teared up on greeting Prince Elijah, Prince Enoch, Princess Ava, and Count and Countess Merodach. She greeted Lalery courteously and in a friendly way, much as she had Michael.

Princess Jocasta was quiet, watching her sister, her hands on the arms of her chair, ignoring her cup of tea. Anyone who knew her knew she was seething with rage, her bosom rising and falling dramatically.

"The question of the Queen's nakedness is irrelevant for the moment." said Prince Elijah. He looked at the semi-circle of chairs and couches where in addition to the family Michael of Dakmoor sat. The other Ghantish nobles had not been invited nor would they be spoken to on the matters at hand yet.

"What is in question first is this: the Queen's sanity. I have in my possession a copy of a letter by Dr. Weinstein which affirms her sanity. It has also been stated by several witnesses that her competence, courage and clarity of thought are beyond all doubt, and to my satisfaction the matter is closed." he handed the letter copy around to all present. "The other matter is a letter from Empress Sophia of Ghant. Her father...your father as well, Malibar...is no doubt displeased by this talk of the end of the marriage. He wants to come here to talk about it."

"That part of it was clumsily handled; the Ghantish are our allies, we have offended one of their most important leaders," said Queen Rebecca. "We should have consulted with him first."

"Lord Malibar aside," said Mara, her eyes flashing at her mother, "There were people dying, Mama, and the Prophet and I did what we could to--"

"The Prophet and I!" cried Jocasta suddenly, "You're awfully chummy now, aren't you? How could you conspire like this with that man who keeps calling me a whore and demanding that I abdicate all clam to the throne?"

Mara closed her eyes a moment, seemed to be breathing in and out deeply.

"We can handle the matter of how to deal with the divorce and the engagement while still hosting Malibar coming here," said Lalery, stretching his legs out and suppressing a yawn. "We can't exactly say 'no, fuck off, you can't come'."

"I can't believe there was no consulting of Michael in this--have none of you any feeling for him?" Jocasta exclaimed. "Dear Michael, what do you think about all this?"

"Dear Michael now is it?" said Mara. "Are the rumours true then?"

"Mara!" cried Rebecca.

"How dare you!" cried Jocasta.

Mara said, "Who is Malibar to interfere in our politics? Michael, you don't want to be married to me anyway. Can we have a little honesty and a little less falsehood, and clear the air?"

Prince Elijah nodded. "Let's get that part out of the way then, and deal with Lord Malibar's visit after that. You are right, it is the main point. What does Michael agree to?"
"The three articles of Civil Service faith: it takes longer to do things quickly, it's far more expensive to do things cheaply, and it's more democratic to do things in secret." - Jim Hacker "Yes Minister"

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Ghant
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Founded: Feb 11, 2013
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Ghant » Tue Jun 30, 2015 6:50 pm

(Continued from Mad Queen’s Gambit)

“King Consort’s Gambit”
Betharan Palace
Fineberg, New Edom


…Well then, Izena thought, once more dressed in clothes, this time a shirt and some cargo shorts, I didn’t think I would be here so soon…

"Present--arms!" shouted some guards of some sort, swords and bayonets flashing in the light of the sun as it beared down upon their approach to Betharan Palace. The crowd was cheering as the Queen had returned to the so called seat of monarchial power in New Edom.

The rest were there too…the ANBC news crew, Micaela, clergy both naked and robed, as well as a train of people throwing flowers and blessings. There were some guards with them as well, wearing dirty uniforms and mud caked boots…although, interestingly enough, their rifles were clean.

As they approached the Palace, Mara first spoke to the news crew, whom Izena had found to be quite amusing during their travels. "This is goodbye for a while," she said to them warmly, "But I want to thank you for all that you have done. I have asked that you be given priority and access to the Royal Press Corps and Press Secretary as special correspondents, and I will never forget your support. Blessed be the generous hearts and thoughts that have been with me in my journey" she took each of their hands and pressed them. "Go with God, always."

Then she addressed Izena and Micaela, saying, "I have written a letter of recommendation for each of you, thanking you for your loyal service. If you need anything further, I have given instructions that you should be able to contact me quickly. I hope to speak to you both again soon."

To that Izena could only bow and incline her head. “Thank you, Mara, for not only bringing peace to New Edom, but also for putting up with me and giving me the chance to see you to Hillel and back to here.” Smiling, Izena turned her head, only to see a face in the distance that she had not seen in many years. Five to be exact.

There, off in the distance and in the direction that Mara was heading, were some neat rows of orchard trees to the steps of Betharan Palace. She didn’t recognize any of the other people…but she did recognize Prince Michael of Dakmoor. She smiled and blushed at the sight of him looking at her in the distance, pale as a ghost. She had been his first, and had opened up a pandora’s box that he never thought possible. She inclined her head to him as he stared, and then she walked away…





Well…this is awkward. Michael, among his countrymen, was alone with the Edomite Royal Family, consisting of Rebecca, Mara, Jocasta, Elijah and Thomas. He listened as the conversation was swirling around him.

"Is it your intention to stay Edenist forever?" Queen Rebecca asked Mara with a smile.

Mara was still attractive…not a tan line on her, with her hair loose at the back and braided at the sides. She was sitting in an 18th century chair with her legs crossed, with a cup of tea on a saucer nearby. Precious laid down at her feet, and she seemed to ponder the question. "Maybe, I haven't decided yet," she responded.

Figures. When Michael reunited with his wife, she greeted him with a cool, friendly courtesy and a kiss on the cheek…she greeted Thomas the same way, pretty much. She had hugged and teared up on greeting Prince Elijah, Prince Enoch, Princess Ava, and Count and Countess Merodach, and Precious, of course.

Michael cast his eyes briefly to Princess Jocasta. She was very quiet, watching her sister, her hands on the arms of her chair, ignoring her cup of tea. Michael knew her well enough to know that she was seething with rage, her bosom rising and falling dramatically. In a strange way, it reminded Michael of his father, boiling inside as he sat perfectly still…

"The question of the Queen's nakedness is irrelevant for the moment." said Prince Elijah. He looked at the semi-circle of chairs and couches where everyone was sitting. To Michael’s knowledge, the other Ghantish nobles had not been invited nor would they be spoken to on the matters at hand yet. Thank God. Although, Michael did think that having his grandmother nearby would have been handy…

"What is in question first is this: the Queen's sanity. I have in my possession a copy of a letter by Dr. Weinstein which affirms her sanity. It has also been stated by several witnesses that her competence, courage and clarity of thought are beyond all doubt, and to my satisfaction the matter is closed." Elijah handed the letter copy around to all present. "The other matter is a letter from Empress Sophia of Ghant. Her father...your father as well, Malibar...is no doubt displeased by this talk of the end of the marriage. He wants to come here to talk about it."

Michael did receive advance notice of this from his sister over the phone. Anytime his father deigned to travel to wherever Michael was at, he knew that it wasn’t good. No doubt he means to chastise me for my failings and to humiliate me for not living up to his expectations on duty, Michael lamented. The stress and anxiety his father made him feel would make his chest feel like it was in a knot…the same sort of anxiety he had felt non-stop since he heard that a divorce was in order.

"That part of it was clumsily handled; the Ghantish are our allies, we have offended one of their most important leaders," said Queen Rebecca. "We should have consulted with him first."

I am sure he would have appreciated that, Michael thought to himself as his hand gripped a cup of tea, which, despite its compulsive shaking, managed to bring the teacup to his lips. Father absolutely despises surprises.

"Lord Malibar aside," said Mara, her eyes flashing at her mother, "There were people dying, Mama, and the Prophet and I did what we could to--"

"The Prophet and I!" cried Jocasta suddenly, "You're awfully chummy now, aren't you? How could you conspire like this with that man who keeps calling me a whore and demanding that I abdicate all clam to the throne?"

Mara closed her eyes a moment, seemed to be breathing in and out deeply. Michael knew her well enough to figure that such talk was causing her some distress.

"We can handle the matter of how to deal with the divorce and the engagement while still hosting Malibar coming here," said Lalery, stretching his legs out and suppressing a yawn. "We can't exactly say 'no, fuck off, you can't come'."

…I would give you a thousand Ghantmarks if you did, Michael thought to himself in mild amusement, trying to ease his own feelings of distress and uncertainty.

"I can't believe there was no consulting of Michael in this--have none of you any feeling for him?" Jocasta exclaimed. "Dear Michael, what do you think about all this?"

Before Michael could respond, Mara responded first. "Dear Michael now is it?" said Mara. "Are the rumors true then?"

"Mara!" cried Rebecca.

"How dare you!" cried Jocasta.

Mara continued. "Who is Malibar to interfere in our politics? Michael, you don't want to be married to me anyway. Can we have a little honesty and a little less falsehood, and clear the air?"

Prince Elijah nodded. "Let's get that part out of the way then, and deal with Lord Malibar's visit after that. You are right, it is the main point. What does Michael agree to?"

Having listened to what was being said, Michael responded. “When I became King Consort, the first thing I said I would do is my duty as such, in that capacity. To put the needs of the country first. While I was not consulted during the course of these negotiations, I understand that this is necessary to achieve peace for the people. So, if my last act as King-Consort of New Edom is to agree to a divorce from the Queen, for the sake of ushering in peace for the country in a time of need, then I accept that without hesitation, or regret. I agree to a divorce, and from what my sister has told me over the phone, my father accepts this as a political necessity, and as a reality in every sense of the word.”

Turning to Mara, he smiled sadly. “We married for the sake of politics…it is only fitting that we divorce for the sake of politics as well. I don’t think my father intends to interfere in Edomite politics. Rather, I believe he means to assess the state of the alliance moving forward, and possibly to secure another match for me following our divorce.” I do hope that father is going to try to arrange a marriage between myself and Jocasta as recompense…
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Free Garza
Chargé d'Affaires
 
Posts: 420
Founded: Jan 17, 2005
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

The lady's a tramp.

Postby Free Garza » Tue Jun 30, 2015 7:16 pm

Former Garzan President Carlita Ruiz had assumed many positions since leaving office, but her latest she had lobbied for most intently. With the failure of her last attempt at reconciliation and the final annulment granted to Julio by the new Primate of Free Garza, Ramon Cardinal Ochoa, on the grounds of consanguinity (too much affinity of blood), Carlita was a single, if affluent mother seeking to revive her public career, resulting in her recent election as Mayor of Free Garza City.

Yes, the former head of state had come down a bit in standing, but the very fact of her election proved that not only was she forgiven by an increased number of citizens for her past adult film career, but also the people were in a somewhat more leftist mood. Of course, it didn't help the dominant Christian Democratic Party that the capital city had another party at work, namely the Liberal Democrats. This third party, smaller than the larger two parties, nevertheless had a sizable and concentrated backing in the more urban areas compared to rural ones. The Liberal Democratic Party shared some political ideas with the Christian Democratic Party, but also some views with the Social Democratic Party, favoring strong civil libertarian positions combined with pro-business, free market, and neo-liberal policies. It was especially popular in Free Garza City compared to the rest of the country, where the peasants, the campesinos were naturally suspicious of the "young, urban, professional" middle class and tended to vote either Social Democratic or Christian Democratic, as did the urban working class. The aristocracy, a lot of civil servants, and many other social elites traditionally backed the Christian Democrats, as did the clergy and the most devout among the populace.

In this context, the Christian Democratic Party was riding its wave of success since coming to power on the national level and having the ear of the King. It didn't actually take Ruiz's candidacy seriously. She was a seemingly disgraced former head of state, deposed by a popular vote in a referendum in favor of the lawful, constitutional king that now headed the realm. She had been notoriously immoral and threatened with excommunication, had failed in her marriage, had been highly condemned by the Church for her adult film past and her admitted previous abortions, as well as her avowed atheism...She was seen by many as a failed leader as well as one with frightening leftist, populist views on economics. She was attacked in posters, newspaper ads, radio ads, TV ads, and internet ads. She was named a slut, a whore, a child-killer, an apostate, a Communist, a witch, a man-hater (news to her ex-husband), a traitor and many other terrible things. She was called a traitor to her origins as a hidalgo.

And then Election Day came....and the shocker with it. Carlita Ruiz, the radical, disgraced, supposedly Communist (news to the Communist leaders, at least) former porn star, feminist, atheist, pro-choice activist and former President deemed infamous by many citizens for her extramarital affairs, abortions, porn career, etc.....won. She was elected Mayor of Free Garza City with 42% of the vote, with the Liberal Democratic candidate Urban Council deputy Andres Borja at 35%, and prominent solicitor Inigo Montalbano, the Christian Democrat, who had truly believed that he would win, coming at 23%, thus third and last. The Church and many others in the Right reacted with panic and pandemonium, blaming the Liberal Democrats among others, but the reality was that the capital had not been inclined to favor the social conservatism of the clerical and nationalist parties for some time now. A generational shift was occurring due to the internet and mass media spreading foreign ideas among youth, and many in the more conservative sectors of society had a fit, to put it mildly....but the shift didn't put the more libertarian LDP in power....it put in the most left-wing candidate of the three, the much despised social pariah Carlita Ruiz in office.

And she was now about to take office.

The kicker....her ex-husband Julio, who had refused to take her back..endorsed her for Mayor.
Viva La Garza!

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New Edom
Postmaster of the Fleet
 
Posts: 22923
Founded: Mar 14, 2011
Democratic Socialists

Postby New Edom » Wed Jul 01, 2015 8:45 pm

Betharan Palace, Finberg

Jocasta lifted her head with a triumphant expression at Michael's words. "You know, people think he doesn't care but it's not true. People say he's a spendthrift, dilletante playboy who has no real understanding of politics, but you have no idea how helpful, how noble and how unselfish he has been. Here is proof of it."

"I'm glad you like him so much, Sissy," said Mara softly, looking at her. "I didn't say anything against Michael. I wish things could have worked between us, they didn't. I'm sorry."

"Alright, that's settled then," said Prince Elijah. "But of course it could seem an offense to Lord Malibar. How do you recommend we handle that?"he directed this to Rebecca and Lalery in particular, but then also nodded to Michael.

"Well, the most obvious thing is this: whether or not another match might be acceptable. I realize Jocasta is very young, and that she has not really considered marriage--" Rebecca began gravely.

"Oh for crying out loud, are we really going to do this?" moaned Lalery. "We all know the score. We all saw the two of you mooning at one another on my boat," he said to Michael and Jocasta. "Good for you two. Not one in ten royal marriages are for love and also serve the purpose of the state. Let's just accept it."

Jocasta turned bright red. "I had, I assure you all, absolutely no intention..."

Lalery grinned, "Barely secret wishes are not intentions. Michael--would you marry Jocasta? And how do you think your father would feel about that?"
"The three articles of Civil Service faith: it takes longer to do things quickly, it's far more expensive to do things cheaply, and it's more democratic to do things in secret." - Jim Hacker "Yes Minister"

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Ghant
Minister
 
Posts: 2410
Founded: Feb 11, 2013
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Ghant » Wed Jul 01, 2015 10:02 pm

“King Consort’s Gambit” (II)
Betharan Palace
Fineberg, New Edom


After Michael spoke of his thoughts on the matter of divorce, Jocasta raised her head, seeming to perk up. “You know, people think he doesn't care but it's not true. People say he's a spendthrift, dilettante playboy who has no real understanding of politics, but you have no idea how helpful, how noble and how unselfish he has been. Here is proof of it."

"I'm glad you like him so much, Sissy," said Mara softly, looking at her. "I didn't say anything against Michael. I wish things could have worked between us, they didn't. I'm sorry."

…That’s pretty much the gist of it, Michael thought to himself. Just didn’t work out…not that it’s a bad thing. He used to think that trying to work it out was something he ought to try to do, but the more time he spent around Jocasta, the less he wanted it to. Now he was getting what he wanted, and he felt no shame in it.

"Alright, that's settled then," said Prince Elijah. "But of course it could seem an offense to Lord Malibar. How do you recommend we handle that?” [i]he directed this to Rebecca and Lalery in particular, but then also nodded to Michael.

Michael honestly had to think like his father would on the matter at hand. What would my father do? While he thought about that, shifting in his seat and folding his leg while tapping his chin, others responded to Elijah.

"Well, the most obvious thing is this: whether or not another match might be acceptable. I realize Jocasta is very young, and that she has not really considered marriage…" Rebecca began gravely.

"Oh for crying out loud, are we really going to do this?" moaned Lalery. "We all know the score. We all saw the two of you mooning at one another on my boat," he said to Michael and Jocasta. "Good for you two. Not one in ten royal marriages are for love and also serve the purpose of the state. Let's just accept it."

Jocasta turned bright red. "I had, I assure you all, absolutely no intention..."

Lalery grinned, "Barely secret wishes are not intentions. Michael--would you marry Jocasta? And how do you think your father would feel about that?"

Having thought of it, Michael nodded, and responded to Lalery without hesitation. “I would,” was all he said. “And knowing my father, he will accept the situation regarding Mara and my divorce as a political reality and necessity. In light of that…I believe he will insist that I then marry the next highest ranking Edomite Princess…which would be Jocasta.” Please let that be the case, he thought to himself as he innocuously brought his teacup to his lips…





In the Air
En Route to Fineberg, New Edom


…Fuck this shit…fuck it to nine hells.

Princess Cassandra sat cross legged in her seat, skulking as she eyed the other people sitting around the private plane. She was wearing an embellished silk caftan, embroidered yellow thread harmonized with gold lurex to create an exotic eagle motif in the exquisite vibrant black fabric. Paisleys, branches and flowers magnetized an eagle pattern on the front & back and were embellished with gold sequins and teardrop crystals. Dramatic sleeve shaped drapes were in traditional the Calypso St. Barth style, the caftan was semi sheer and required an underpinning. Her hair was long and loose about her shoulders, with the ends of it tickling the abundant flesh of her bust, which heaved as she breathed.

To her right sat the pensive Zelda Zuria, a tall and willowy redhead dressed in a simple, yet comfortable looking white dress as she poured over a book on 19th century musical theory. To her left sat Margaery Hyla, who was giddy with excitement, giggling profusely in a lavish little red dress that matched her hair and let some of her curves be seen. Cassandra merely tolerated the two girls, for they were both the daughters of powerful and loyal lords, and the Emperor’s own first cousins.

“Remind me, Lady Margaery, but what are you so excited about?” Cassandra asked her travelling companion curiously.

“Oh, I am going to see Malachi Unwerth once more, your Highness!” Margaery exclaimed. “When he left Ghish, oh my gosh I was so distraught, and I just know he was as distraught as I. I know he yearns for my company once more, and soon, I shall see him again. Perhaps he will speak for me!”

Probably not. Cassandra was no fool, unlike the stupid Hyla girl. For while House Hyla, the great house known for their banner of seven shields was old, rich and influential, she highly doubted that meant anything to the Unwerths. Chances are, Malachi and her merely started having casual sex after casually getting high, and while Malachi still thinks it was just that, a casual sexual relationship, Lady Margaery thinks it something more. The look on Margaery’s face when she found out the likely truth was something the Gentry princess wanted to see. “…We will have to wait and see when we get there, now won’t we?”

Lady Zelda chimed in with something far more interesting to say. “…What do you suppose Malibar and Lord Dain are discussing, your Highness?”

“…Edomite politics,” Cassandra shrugged. “That seems to be all the rage in Dakmoor of late. Even the swamp people are talking about Michael and Jocasta.”

“…Do you think that’s a thing, your Highness?” Margaery asked.

“Probably, although not to the extent that people might think.” Cassandra knew Michael well enough to know he wasn’t stupid enough to push his luck with Obed women while he was married to one. Such a misdeed could prove very bad for one’s health.

As it happened, Cassandra made her way to Ghish from Torloju, and upon arriving had deigned to visit her brother Christopher in the Military District of Fineberg, and to get a personalized status report on Ghantish forces in New Edom. For the sake of convenience, she had arranged to travel to Fineberg with Malibar, Lord Dain, and the two redheaded cousins, one in the hunt for the young Unwerth and the other one…probably for the sake of being with her entourage…the so called A Team.

“Lady Zelda, what are you reading?” Cassandra probed the demure Zuria girl.

“…The Clawed Queen, your Highness,” the girl responded without looking away.

“That’s a good book, about Princess Camilla of Jehenna, who was so named for having been slashed across the face by a wildcat as a little girl, on a hunting trip with her elder brothers who were supposed to watch out for her. It cost her the sight in her left eye, but it didn’t cost her her marriage prospects…she was married to a Gentry Prince who went on to become King Edward X, and ruled long and well, siring good children,” Cassandra recounted the tale. “Both of you would be wise to remember that lesson. That when called upon by the ruling house, you obey, and do your duty.”

Cassandra observed how Malibar’s men were all about the plane, since it was his, after all, while her own men were among them in the section where she was sitting. The sight nearly made her skin crawl. It should be the other way around. Alas, this was Malibar’s plane, and it allowed her to travel quickly and easily, alas it would be tolerated.

She gave a sly look to Margaery. “As for you and your precious Malachi, remember these words, my lady. Be careful of who you choose to love. For loving people will make you weak. You’ll do things for them that you know you shouldn’t do. You’ll behave foolishly to make them happy, to keep them safe from harm. And that…can end up putting you in harm.”

Turning red as a beet, Margaery responded firmly, although still politely. “As you say…your Highness.”

Indeed, Lady Margaery, Cassandra nodded as she turned her head and looked out the window of the moving plane. It is as I say.
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New Edom
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Founded: Mar 14, 2011
Democratic Socialists

Postby New Edom » Thu Jul 02, 2015 11:54 pm

Fineberg, New Edom


Soundtrack

When Lord Malibar Princess Cassandra arrived, she was formally greeted by Dr. Paul Aphek and Prince Enoch Tubal-Cain, the Royal Master of Offices, in naval dress whites with an honour guard, who indicated that they would go in by a TH-300 helicopter outfitted for civilian passengers with comfortable seats, large enough for her entourage easily. After the formal greetings, brief photo op for the visiting royal party, Prince Enoch explained, "We're taking the scenic aerial route today. The city's a madhouse! Traffic jams, in Fineberg! But everyone is just going mad with the joy of the end of the civil war..."

Indeed there was a general air of gaiety, apparently huge parties were going on all over the city. People playing instruments on the streets, dancing, wine flowing, dancing, singing, cheering. Every soldier found his cup barely empty, every soldier found welcome arms and thighs, pictures of the triumphant leaders were everywhere--Mara, Elijah, Jocasta, Unwerth, Romain, Hanneghan.

Even at Betharan Palace, there was a sense of party going on. Everyone was too jolly to be serious, the formal greetings clearly held the jubilation barely in check. Discreetly, it was suggested that any of the newly arrived might want to rest to get past their jetlag. The coincidence of arriving in this state of celebration would be challenging to anyone, though Prince Elijah was quite willing to get to business regrettably he had had to meet with Sarah Carmel at the halfway point to sign the declaration of peace.

Anyone going to their suites would find older, careful and exquisitely veteran servants of the House of Obed ready to attend, make sure that they got room service, had all that they needed including a quiet wing to relax in, get what services they needed (baths, massages, dinner, hairdresser, etc) and Dr. Aphek and Prince Enoch were the 'designated officials' as it were.

However wandering elsewhere would result in seeing shrieking laughing people running in and out of rooms; a naked young woman giggling and chased by young guardsmen barely dressed in their uniform jackets blowing horns; an impromptu game of water polo riotously going on in a garden pool. A rocking jazz bland playing wildly as peopled rocked on a ballroom floor in a come as you are ball. A conga line of junior officials, senior servants, guards officers moved through, whooping and laughing. Mara even got up on the stage and wearing just a green and gold party hat and sashes that barely covered her, singing scat and swinging her hips with her excellent voice and dance moves encouraging the party atmosphere.

A trio of triumphant Royal Cavalry Guards officers led by Major Zadek charged to cheers across a formerly immaculate green lawn doing acrobatic tricks with their mounts.

Lalery matched her in a following number, dancing in a tux on the bar, in a sultry low voice snarling out, "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing..."

Those who wanted a quieter time had gone out onto the lawn to watch the fireworks--Jocasta and Michael, Alexander Domris and Alasne Dain and other friends and lovers who wanted to be seen in public but wanted to have a chance to hold hands or be together as the array of bursting gold, blue, red and green flowers of fire burst in the night sky, the music blazing away behind them, flashes lighting up the greenery and hedges and rippling water.

In more hidden areas, less restrained lovers in hidden closets, behind hedges and in what rooms or areas they could find coupled in passion, letting restraint go. Lieutenant-Colonel Sara Wendt in her parade dress uniform had been dancing conga without pants but in an open uniform jacket with cap and boots and blowing a party horn; then later quite gladly bent over a couch in a sitting room blocked with a chair with her panties around her knees for Lord Alaric if he would have her.
"The three articles of Civil Service faith: it takes longer to do things quickly, it's far more expensive to do things cheaply, and it's more democratic to do things in secret." - Jim Hacker "Yes Minister"

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Ghant
Minister
 
Posts: 2410
Founded: Feb 11, 2013
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Ghant » Fri Jul 03, 2015 9:49 pm

“King Consort’s Gambit” (III)
Betharan Palace
Fineberg, New Edom


Oh, such manners…quite impressive.

Princess Cassandra arrived in Fineberg swarmed by a pack of her own House Guards and retainers, with Ladies Zelda Zuria and Margaery Hyla in tow. Elsewhere were King Malibar and Lord Bolvar Dain, but for now, they were of little concern. I am more concerned with how I shall be received. She was still wearing what she wore on the plane, which she thought would be adequate enough to make a formal presentation. For ten thousand Ghantmarks it better be.

The imperial herald drove the butt of his staff into the floor as she came to stand before to men she understood to be Dr. Paul Aphek and Prince Enoch Tubal-Cain, the latter a man that already amused her, considering his reputation in Ghant as a man who enjoyed shooting barbs at Michael of Dakmoor. They were joined by what appeared to be honor guards. “May I present, Her Imperial Highness Princess Cassandra of Ghant, daughter of His Imperial Highness Prince Richard of Ghant and Her Highness Grand Duchess Minka of Nekulturnya…”

Before the herald could introduce the others, Cassandra raised her hand, and he stopped. Then she deigned to speak, with her head raised high and her eyes shining with purpose. “A pleasure to be here truly, your honors.” Never one to forgo traditional Imperial courtesies, she extended her arm and the back of her hand out to Prince Enoch, for him to kiss.

Formal greetings and a brief photo op ensued, and it was explained to the Ghantish party that they would be going to the palace via a TH-300 helicopter outfitted for civilian passengers. Enoch explained the situation in greater detail. “We’re taking the scenic aerial route today. The city’s a madhouse! Traffic jams, in Fineberg! But everyone is just going mad with the joy of the end of the civil war…”

As mad as your Queen, no doubt, Cassandra said to herself with a sly smirk. “I can only imagine, your Highness. Although, I suspect Betharan must be mad a madhouse as well, considering the number of Ghantish nobles present.”

In the helicopter, Cassandra couldn’t help but at one point probe Prince Enoch, with a tilted head and an inquisitive eye and raised eyebrow. “I have heard that you and Prince Michael have made quite an impression on one another.”

With narrowed eyes, Malibar quickly added “…yes, I have heard the same,” his voice cold and severe. Cassandra knew Malibar was the sort of man that did not take kindly to his family, children especially, being treated rudely…unless by Malibar himself. The thought gave her mild amusement.

Indeed, it was as Enoch said, the festivities of the palace great as well as the sense of jubilation. Much to Cassandra’s internal annoyance (since was far too disciplined to let it be shown), the formal greetings at the palace were barely able to contain a sense of joy. When it was suggested that the party go to rest, Cassandra agreed and sought out her designated chambers, while Zelda and Margaery scurried off to find their family, which undoubtedly was wherever Arietta was. Malibar and Bolvar, meanwhile, went off to go about whatever their business was, which probably consisted of finding their children.

Cassandra sojourned to her chambers to find servants appearing to be old of age, veterans no doubt, to provide for all of her needs. Good, a bath will do nicely first, followed by a change of clothes into something that should remind everyone of my importance…





Lord Alaric Dain was never happier then he was then, arriving at Betharan Palace with his commanding lords and fellow officers. He arrived wearing a clean and formal looking uniform, his hair neatly trimmed and his face clean-shaven. The first thing he saw, to his great amusement, were Royal Cavalry Guards officers charging across the green lawn doing acrobatic tricks upon their steeds.

“This is fantastic,” Alaric beamed to Lord Aldapa. “As much I would wish to spectate, I should seek out my sister. Father will be here soon.”

“Of course,” Lord Aldapa said with a nod of his head and a faint smile. “You have done well. Go be with your family then.”

“Thank you sir,” Alaric replied with a beaming smile and a bow. “Until later then.” From the lawn into the Palace he went, the scene a great spectacle indeed. People were running in and out of rooms shrieking and laughing, men and women alike, some more clothed then others. Stumbling upon the ballroom, there was a conga line, and even the Queen herself was there, dancing and singing upon the stage. Lalery wasn’t far away, doing his own number on the bar, a sight which caused Alaric to burst out laughing.

Despite his looking for his sister and father, it was another encounter that made his heart leap. Sarah Wendt, who upon sight made him forget whatever it was he was supposed to be doing. She was dancing conga in her parade dress uniform without pants, in an open jacked with caps and boots while blowing a party horn. Would I be so fortunate as to witness her blow something else in a few moment’s time? Eventually, in a rush of excitement that had everything moving quickly, one thing after another, he found himself in some sitting room blocked off by a chair to prevent interruption. Alaric was alone with Sarah, who was bent over a couch with her panties around her knees.

Alaric for his part, was feeling ever so lusty and ready to consummate his desires. With a grin, he said, “I have missed you,” and erupted out of his uniform as if it were on fire. Then it was on, the full intensity of his passions unleashed upon his coveted lady, determined to make this as memorable as their first night together…





“…My brother is here, somewhere,” Alazne Dain said to Alexander Domris out on the palace lawn, watching the fireworks burst in the air. There was a flurry of gold, blue, red and green flowers erupting in the night sky as music played behind them back towards the palace. Flashes of light illuminated the greenery and hedges and rippling water to boot.

“You would like him,” she said even as she blushed profusely. “He is brave and strong and courteous to boot, just like you. Did you receive my letter, by the way?” Twas a true expression of my feelings, after all. Enjoying the closeness of the young Count and the fireworks, Alazne took a deep breath and exhaled deeply in turn, before looking at Michael and Jocasta, elsewhere on the lawn. They seemed to be enjoying themselves. She was happy for them, truth be told. It wasn’t often that things could align so well for two people that possessed strong feelings for each other…





“…So, where the fuck is everybody at?” Margaery asked as she reunited with her sister and cousins in a sitting room, that was regulated by a chair on the door to keep snoopers out. Arietta, Ella, Desmera, Holly, Zelda and Margaery were there, smoking some of Arietta’s marijuana, of a particularly powerful strain, if what the Red Princess said was to be believed.

Bitch be trippin fo sho… Arietta suspected that was code for “where is Malachi,” but didn’t want to dignify her with that particular answer just then. “…uh, let’s see here…Alazne, Alys, Willow and Michael are on the lawn watching fireworks, Izolde and her people are in the ballroom, along with the Zetsky-Orlovs, the twins are snooping around somewhere, and mother is off doing whatever she does. All that matters though is that they are not here…this is where that chronic be at, mafuckas.”

“Did you see the Queen?” Zelda asked as she sat down and smoothened out the frills of her dress. “Is it true she doesn’t wear any clothes?”

“Yeah, pretty much,” Desmera answered. “But if I had a body like that, shit, I don’t think I would either,” she then giggled.

“Let’s talk about this blunt, shall we?” Arietta asked with a chuckle. “Look…it’s fatter than Mara’s ass!” the comparison made the girls all laugh. “Who wants to hit it first?”

“Hit what first, the blunt or Mara’s ass?” Ella asked, which prompted another round of laughter from the group.

“The blunt, dumbass,” Arietta countered in a very much not serious tone. She leaned into the circle of girls as she lit it up and ripped it. “This is some dank shit though for real.”
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New Edom
Postmaster of the Fleet
 
Posts: 22923
Founded: Mar 14, 2011
Democratic Socialists

Postby New Edom » Sat Jul 04, 2015 9:18 am

Fineberg, New Edom

A fan hummed softly on the ceiling, and breeze ruffled against a muslin curtain that was quite transparent and showed glimpses of the palms, fig and orange trees of the garden outside. It was afternoon following a buffet lunch at Betharan Palace. Prince Elijah had returned from Harbourtown to meet with Lord Malibar. Also present were Queen Rebecca, Queen Mara, Princess Jocasta, Count Lalery, Prince Enoch, Dr. Paul Aphek, and Colonel Horvath. Invited in particular were Lord Malibar, Prince Christopher, Prince Alexander, Princess Cassandra, Princess Caroline, King-Consort Michael and Princess Arietta.

"First of all, there is intended to be a formal ceremony to thank the Ghantish contingent's leaders and to honour soldiers who distinguished themselves and were given citations by Lord Aldapa and his officers," Prince Elijah said after the initial welcome. "The role of the Ghantish Brigade was pivotal in the capture of Harbourtown and in the restoring of peace to the area afterwards. I will mention right now that Lord Aldapa's steady command, and the actions of Prince Olyvar and Lord Alaric Dain have been observed by one of our own officers as having been exemplary. This was a true test of our alliance which was well passed."

"During this time, the King-Consort acted in my opinion in an exemplary way," said Prince Elijah, his voice still calm and his manner seeming at ease. "He was a steady adviser to the Heir, and demonstrated friendship and loyalty. There have been disgusting rumours about them. This grieves me. Princess Jocasta has been chaperoned constantly, and there are twelve witnesses of excellent character who will attest to nothing ever happening between Jocasta and Michael that I would have any cause to censure. Having said that, I do not shy from the truth. I also know how they feel about one another--and therefore their actions are to my thinking commendable in the face of that. I do not believe, Lord Malibar, that in any manner your son has damaged the honour of your family."

"Then I must ask why we are honouring the Prophet's wishes," said Queen Rebecca. "If nothing happened between them."

"Because that's not the reason," said Prince Elijah. "The reason is that the ETC trust me and Queen Mara. It is a cornerstone of the peace plan."

"And we are very glad," said Count Lalery with a smile, "That Lord Malibar has come to New Edom to demonstrate his support of the peace plan. That will make it more clear that the Empire of Ghant supports reunification and a lasting peace, establishment of elections and that the leadership of Ghant support our national policies. What better way to demonstrate friendship?" he said nodding to Lord Malibar.

"Indeed," said Dr. Aphek, "Well done sir, our gratitude is great. What better way indeed."

Queen Rebecca looked at Prince Elijah, who allowed himself a little smile.
"The three articles of Civil Service faith: it takes longer to do things quickly, it's far more expensive to do things cheaply, and it's more democratic to do things in secret." - Jim Hacker "Yes Minister"

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Ghant
Minister
 
Posts: 2410
Founded: Feb 11, 2013
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Ghant » Sun Jul 05, 2015 9:23 pm

“King Consort’s Gambit” (IV)
Betharan Palace
Fineberg, New Edom


Under any other circumstances, the fan humming softly upon the ceiling might have been able to distract Michael’s attention. It’s breeze ruffled against the transparent muslin curtain, revealing the guises of palms, fig and orange trees that sprouted up from the garden outside. Yet, in spite of all that, the commanding presence of his father, King Malibar of Dakmoor, Lord Paramount of Ghant, made Michael unable to find distraction. Instead, he could only focus on his father and his apparent disdain for his son’s predicament.

Not even the elusive Princess Cassandra could make Michael’s focus deviate. The Gentry Princess was as beautiful as ever, wearing a vibrant and sophisticated allover floral embroidered black and gold silk organza dress, finished with a voluminous full skirt, sheer yoke, double v-neck cut deep and with short sleeves. Her hair was pinned in a loose bun, and her eyes flittered across the room at the various persons of interest that constituted her company.

To her left sat her younger brother, Prince Christopher, the cripple with one leg and beady eyes with worm-like lips. To her right sat her cousin, Ambassador Prince Alexander, sitting tall and proud with a stoic, if not unengaging face. Caroline and Arietta were there dressed in day dresses, but they sat away from the Imperials, oddly enough seated closer to Malibar.

Of the Edomites, Elijah, Rebecca, Mara, Jocasta, Enoch, Lalery, Dr. Aphek and Horvath were present. Malibar sat still and quiet as a statue with a poker face as he absorbed what the Edomites were saying to him. Nothing ever slips past father. Somehow, it always felt like he knew…what to think, how to respond, what do do…

“First of all, there is intended to be a formal ceremony to thank the Ghantish contingent’s leaders and to honor soldiers who distinguished themselves and were given citations by Lord Aldapa and his officers,” Elijah said not long after the initial welcome. “The role of the Ghantish Brigade was pivotal in the capture of Harbourtown and in the restoring of peace to the area afterwards. I will mention right now that Lord Aldapa’s steady command, and the actions of Prince Olyvar and Lord Alaric Dain have been observed by one of our own officers as having been exemplary. This was a true test of our alliance which was well passed.”

Michael took note of how his father seemed to soak this in like a sponge, at one point non-chalantly taking something to drink. Despite that, there was always intensity to what he did, even something as small as a sip of tea seemed like something methodical and calculated.

Elijah continued. “During this time, the King-Consort acted in my opinion in an exemplary way. He was a steady adviser to the Heir, and demonstrated friendship and loyalty. There have been disgusting rumors about them. This grieves me. Princess Jocasta has been chaperoned constantly, and there are twelve witnesses of excellent character who will attest to nothing ever happening between Jocasta and Michael that I would have any cause to censure. Having said that, I do not shy from the truth. I also know how they feel about one another-and therefore their actions are to my thinking commendable in the face of that. I do not believe, Lord Malibar, that in any manner your son has damaged the honor of your family.”

“Then I must ask why we are honoring the Prophet’s wishes,” said Rebecca in response. “If nothing happened between them.”

“Because that’s not the reason,” Elijah replied. “The reason is that the ETC trusts me and Queen and Mara. It is a cornerstone of the peace plan.”

“And we are very glad,” Lalery said with a smile. “That Lord Malibar has come to New Edom to demonstrate his support of the peace plan That will make it more clear that the Empire of Ghant supports reunification and a lasting peace, establishment of elections and that the leadership of Ghant support our national policies. What better way to demonstrate friendship?” he said nodding to Malibar, although Malibar’s expression never changed.

“Indeed,” said Dr. Aphek, “Well done sir, our gratitude is great. What better way indeed.”

Finally, as if the rumblings of some ancient discontented dragon in its lair, Malibar finally spoke, just as he began to set his drink down. “Aye, a cornerstone. I am grateful that our forces demonstrated discipline, honor and valor in the field, I would have expected nothing less. Our people yearn for the chance to prove themselves, and knew that much and more was riding on them prevailing, in order to honor our oaths of allegiance to our allies, steadfast and true. Our cornerstone…the union between my son and the Queen, which served as the cornerstone of our alliance, is now gone. Now we should consider a proposition as to what should be done to rectify this. Had my son demonstrated the same degree of friendship and loyalty to his wife that he has shown to the Crown Princess, one can only wonder how much trouble would have been avoided. Alas, what is done is done.”

Stroking his chin, Malibar continued. “It is well enough to know that my son handled himself in an honorable way. Yet, his story reminds me of that of the baker’s son. A baker who spent a great deal of time crafting a cake for a king’s feast, and tasked his son with carrying the cake to the feast hall. The son dropped the cake en route, although he managed to cobble it back together. When word reached his father, he was quite impressed that the cake had been somewhat recovered, although, that didn’t change the fact that the cake was dropped, and cakes should never be dropped.” His eyes, like Michael’s, homed in on his son, leaving little to the imagination of his disappointment.

“Granted, friends and allies,” Malibar said after taking another drink, “what lies behind us is of little consequence now, and to the future, of that much we should all be able to agree. The alliance between us, as you have said, was consummated by blood and lives in the name of proper governance. Sometimes in the course of pursuing peace and restoration of rightful rule of law, certain…adjustments must be made in order to accomplish what needs to happen in order to preserve it. So, given the political realities of the situation, I am fully willing and able to support this peace proposal in totality, including this divorce between the Queen and my son, on one condition, which I would consider recompense.”

Michael eyed his father carefully as he waited to hear what he would say. The other Ghantar did too, like flowers leaning towards the sun. Then he named it, but not before giving a quick glance towards the Gentries, as if wary of them. “That a new cornerstone be added, in place of the previous. This new cornerstone would consist of a new marriage…arranged between Michael and the highest ranking Princess at court, which, incidentally, would be Crown Princess Jocasta. Given your glowing assessment of my son, and considering the Crown Princess’s feelings towards him, I would consider this to be a very reasonable arrangement. Does anyone object to this proposition?”

There was never a time in Michael’s life where he was happier with his father then that very moment. He felt a sense of elation, but knew it was because his father’s back had been put up against a wall, practically forcing him to ask that Michael and the next highest ranking Princess be wed. Michael did not doubt that his father cared little for Michael and Jocasta’s feelings, merely that it was convenient that they coincided with the politics at this particular instance.

The Gentries spoke amongst themselves, whispering in each other’s ears. Finally, Cassandra spoke for them. “The Imperial House bears no objections to this proposal.” Damn, even the Gentries don’t object, although knowing them, there was some ulterior motive that wasn’t accounted for, or maybe Malibar was aware of it, but his hubris meant that he didn’t feel the need to let it interrupt his own plans.

Michael added his own thoughts, after Caroline and Arietta also shook their heads to signify that they didn’t object. “…I have no objections.” Malibar gave his son a look that could only mean that he wanted to say something condescending, but he stayed his sharp tongue. Father must have wanted to say, ‘or course you don’t, this is what you wanted all along.’

Malibar laid back in his seat and looked on, having previously picked up his drink and resuming to sip on it. Clearly, he was waiting to see what the Edomites had had to say, and if he were to smile, he would do so only after everyone came into agreement. For father does not smile easily…
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Deadora
Chargé d'Affaires
 
Posts: 432
Founded: Jun 14, 2012
Ex-Nation

Postby Deadora » Mon Jul 06, 2015 9:33 pm

“The Serve”
The Colosseum
Bryn Tegna, Deadora

(Co-written by Deadora and Ghant)

Arlenica’s black sedan cruised to a stop in front of the great arena like a prowling puma. The Matriarch wasted no time in throwing open the door and exiting the vehicle. She was running late. Not that the Ghantish Ambassador commanded a great amount of respect. Certainly not more than the Empress herself! Skirting around the crowd, she headed from the entrance to the private balconies. Anara would have arrived already and been shown to one.

The Matriarch of Foreign Affairs was a tall, serious Nadirii in her mid thirties. For meetings such as these she wore her mid-length hair in a tight bun that kept errant locks from falling across her face. Hard, green-brown eyes looked out over a slim set of reading glasses perched on her nose.

“Hile, Ambassador Lianu,” Arlenica said when she stepped onto the balcony. It was late afternoon, and the air was perfused with a dry heat. “I trust your wait has not been uncomfortable.” Indeed, the balconies were furnished with a pair of lounging chairs, and chilled drinks were available.

Lady Anara of House Lianu, Ambassador to Deadora, stood up from her lounging chair to properly greet Arlenica, a woman that Anara was loathe to be impolite towards. Anara was wearing a yellow and red sundress with a matching widebrimmed hat to give her some relief from the sun, her dress made of wispy silk to compensate for the heat. Her skin was soft and fair with freckles, and her hair was a light honey brown color, on this occasion it was bound in a ponytail that dangled loosely behind her back. Her hazel eyes examined the area before her, and when she spotted Arlenica, she did a low curtsey. “Matriarch Nessic, a great pleasure to be in your presence this day. And the wait was pleasant, I can assure you...no wait is too long for such splendid company.”

They were cut off then by the thunderous clarion of trumpets, the signal that the fight was starting.

The first warrior to enter the ring was Roda Gur. Gur was a giant of a man, two hundred and fifty pounds, six feet ten inches. The sun had darkened his skin to a dark, barky brown that was crisscrossed with pale scars. He wore bronze greaves and partial plate and pauldron over his right shoulder. His weapons were a long steel tipped trident and a throwing net in his off hand.

The other warrior to enter the ring was Princess Xena of Thule, daughter of the venerable King Urtzi by a Jendebasa Ohaide from the Pale. She stood at seven feet tall, weighed in at two hundred and thirty pounds, and was powerfully built. Her skin was snow white with black freckles peppering her skin, with very long thick black hair that flowed behind her back, supported by broad shoulders. She wore a studded leather jerkin over her pale skin, with bracers and pauldrons to boot. Her weapon was a two handed warhammer / battleaxe combo, engraved in the patterns of northern Jainkozahar symbols. Her eerie blue eyes swept over the field of battle, and she checked the laces of her surprisingly light boots.

Gur spoke a pledge to the Empress in his own language, then began stalking around Xena. His trident was poised, ready to stab out if she got too close while he held the net cocked back and ready to throw. His dark, deep eyes were locked on the exotic blues of the foe from across the sea, watching for any indication of an oncoming attack as he waited for her to strike first.

She elected not to strike first, rather pacing around her opponent, back and forth, hoping to draw him into an attack as she inched her way closer and closer to him. She studied him as she paced, examining his footing, his movements, any sign of weakness. She knew she had to be prepared for the net, especially.

Suddenly, with a step forward, Gur thrust out with his trident, loosening his grip just so enough that its length slid forward in his hand, aiming for a stab to the stomach.

When the trident was thrust forward, Xena jumped to her right in order to avoid the blow. Her counter was to swing the axe at his left side.

Committed to his attack, Gur let his momentum carry him forward. His skin felt the kiss of wind as he narrowly dodged the blade of that wicked axe. Whirling like a dust-devil, the gladiator pivoted and again stabbed out with his trident, this time looking to hook the haft of the axe-hammer and wrench the weapon from its wielder's grasp. At the same time, he cast out with his net towards her legs.

This certainly seemed like a tricky situation for the Thulish warrior princess. Her first instinct was to jump over the net that was being cast at her legs, hoping to avoid it entangling her. Then the the haft of her weapon was hooked by the trident. When it was wenched, she went with it, and lacking other options, she used her size and weight to slam into her opponent, hoping that the impact would jar her weapon free from his.

Gur was an arena veteran, but the sudden bull-rush caught him off guard. He twisted his trident hoping to yank it away, but with his footing off balance there was no real strength behind it. Instead of pushing back against the powerful woman, he released the net and wrapped a powerful arm around her waist, purposefully tripping them both so that they went tumbling down into the dust, trident and axe-hammer sliding away.

The crowd gasped and cheered, a blood-hungry frenzy.

Up above in the diplomatic balcony, Arlenica was settling into her seat and enjoying a refreshing sip of some ice water as she watched the fighters make their opening gambits. “It was quite the coincidence that a champion from your homeland made her way to Bryn Tegna’s arena on the same day that we were to meet. Although I do find it somewhat fitting.” She smiled sharklike at Anara. “Are you familiar with the warrior?”

“...I am not,” Anara answered honestly and politely. “The Antzigas are from the opposite end of Ghant...I know the King is rumored to have at least thirty children, but I have never met any of them. The women of those parts are savage, brutal and most severe, and as such hardly company that southern ladies encounter often, if at all.”

“Well in that case, perhaps she’s come to a kindred land.” Arlenica responded with a wry smile. “All she needed to do was sail further south.”

Xena and her opponent went tumbling down together into the dirt, weapons sliding away. With the man’s arm wrapped around her waist to bring her down with him on top of him, Xena grunted, and reached out with her two bare hands to grab at his free arm in an attempt to break it, thereby limiting his ability to use both of his weapons again.

Gur grunted as he felt a vice close in around his forearm. She’s strong!. He released her waist, reaching up to snare a fistful of her long hair, near to the scalp. Pressure was building in his forearm, but he wrenched her head around as sharply and as strongly as he could. His great legs and back snapped back and forth, thrashing them around as he sought to free his arm from her grasp and roll her under him.

The grasp of her hair caused Xena to grunt in pain as she grimaced. It caused her to release his forearm, and instead she shifted one arm to his that was grabbing her to try to free herself from his grasp, while the other arm went to grab his throat, hoping that would cause him to let her go.

As soon as his arm was released he gave her head one final yank away from him then released his hold. Legs scrabbling, he grappled with her reach for his throat with one arm and sought to shove her away with the other. Gur yelled a savage snarl, and jerked one bronze-capped knee up into her groin, then attempted to roll away.

The knee to her groin was effective, causing Xena to let go of him and send her rolling off of him. Once free of him, she went to get her weapon posthaste, while he would apparently have the same opportunity. Even after he had let her go, her head still hurt from where her hair was grabbed.

Gur knew Xena would go for her hammer, where it lay entangled with his trident. He couldn’t beat her, so he scrambled for his net, snatching it up and casting with the fluid grace that could only come from a lifetime of wielding such a tool. The weighted net spread out to its full extent as it whirled towards the woman’s back.

Arlenica turned from the fight and looked at Anara, her expression neutral. “Now Ambassador, it seems there has been little cause for dialogue between our governments of late. What can I do for you?”

Looking slightly embarrassed, Anara couldn’t help but be honest. “Matriarch Nessic, I fear as though the plans that were being laid by Empress Thrall and His Majesty the Emperor were nipped in the bud by the Dakmarans. Afterwards, he departed court for a good long while, leaving Ghish under their control. As you may be aware, their opinions on Deadoran-Ghantish relations are patently obvious, given their...closeness to Betharan.”

Arlenica nodded. “It is unfortunate when an empire’s sovereign is unable to keep its lesser powers in line. Are you here then at the behest of these Dakmarans? Or has the Emperor reinvigorated his control over the state?”

“Neither, as it happens,” Anara pointed out politely. “My house does not do the bidding of the Dakmarans, and Malibar didn’t dismiss my appointment because he didn’t want to alienate my father. So here I remain, representing the Empire. The Empire ruled by Gentries, and usurped by the Dakmarans. In Fineberg and in Ghish, their influence is vast. But not so here.”

Arlenica frowned. “What do they want? The Gentries are seemingly powerless to prevent Dakmaran from disrupting their interests. Why should the Matriarch Empress desire a relationship with a weak family?”

“It is in trying times that true friends reveal themselves. And truest friends reap the greatest fruits.” Looking around the arena, Anara continued, but not before touching up her hair. “The Gentries have a plan...and it begins by appearing weak, to encourage their enemies to underestimate them. That way when the storm arrives, it will not have been prepared for.”

Arlenica sighed.

Xena suspected that Gur would think that she would reach for her weapon. He will try to exploit that, she considered as she reached for her axe-hammer. Then she realized what could very well be coming. The net. It was in that moment that she reached for the trident instead, and attempted to turn with it in hand. Then she saw the net, and could only hope that a forward thrust with her opponent’s weapon might stop it from entangling her.

The net snagged on one of the prongs, but had enough length to still whip and wrap around her arm and sting her face. Gur was charging right behind it, dodging around the trident and smashing into her chest with his shoulder.

Entangled by the net, Xena once again found herself in a vulnerable position as Gur charged her after the net enveloped her body. She let out a grunt of pain as the net smacked against her skin, and another, louder still, when Gur knocked her to the ground. It was all she could do to maintain a grip on the trident, while trying to free herself from the net, before she sustained another attack which could prove disastrous.

Gur reached down and grabbed her battleaxe. It was his chance to end it, right here. Muscles straining, her brought the axeblade down for a vicious cleave.

Gotcha. The trick, hopefully, would work...for the shaft of her weapon required a certain degree of attention that her opponent wasn’t aware of. One of its most notable features was a trigger on the grip. If someone unwittingly picked up the axeblade, a timer set to 7 seconds would go off, and 4 blades would spontaneously slide out of the shaft, into the victim’s hands. To deactivate the trigger, one would hit a button around the midlength of the shaft. Wait for it…

Gur was a simple man from the coast. A good fisherman, a great warrior. He could read an opponent better than he could books. There were moments as he was swinging the large weapon when he noticed the unusual slots in the haft, the curious button. His mind tried to come to a conclusion. Reality beat him. Cold steel snapped out and into his flesh. Screaming, Gur tried to release the weapon. He couldn’t. It’s momentum completed the chop, but missed Xena’s neck and cut into the dirt.

Thank the Gods. In the window of opportunity she had, she tried to use the trident to open the net. If cutting it didn’t work, she would just have to use her hands to get out of the net.

“The Matriarch Empress is interested in cultivating greater relationships in Ghant, and would be inclined to support a change in the current political order.” Arlenica said. “We are no stranger to these political storms ourselves, though with a history of more able helmsmen, it seems. How can we assist His Majesty the Emperor?”

“...How would Empress Thrall deal with a rival house, when any sort of retaliation against them would result in Civil War?” Anara asked. “Risk the war...or find ways to erode their support?”

Arlenica looked at the Ghantish with pools of inscrutable jade. “The Empress has not allowed any one family such strength in generations. But there have been historic cases where usurpers have risen; Empress against Heir, sister against sister. It is our ka as Nadirii. It is our way.” The Matriarch eased back, enjoying a sip of her drink and looking down at the fight. “It is for Emperor Nathan as it was for Empress Daniela. Cut the legs from the spider.” The pools froze into rigid chips and she looked back at Anara. “I would like you to be clear with me. Will you be asking the Feminist Empire to intervene in a Ghantish civil war behind the cause of the Gentries?”

“...Not necessarily,” Anara clarified. “But it is worth remembering that the Dakmarans are aligned with Betharan, and vice a versa. A civil war...that seems like a bit of a stretch at this particular time. Tell me this...what does Empress Thrall think of…” Anara had to consider if mentioning the woman was a good idea or not. “...Zara? There is talk that should such an event arise, that she might make her claim...on the Obsidian Throne, that is.”

Arlenica blinked, surprised, but did not soften her gaze. “The Imperial Government has no relationship with this Zara, and recognizes the Gentries as the legitimate ruling dynasty in Ghant. She is spawn of a traitor.” She stated.

“As you say, Matriarch Nessic,” Anara nodded as she looked to see the fight continue. “The Dakmarans are the spawn of a traitor as well, and justice remains to be exacted against them for their treason. I wouldn’t dare ask the Imperial Government for consider military support for a potential conflict, however.”

“But if His Majesty were in need of more subtle assistance,” Arlenica paused for emphasis, “then we could consider further involvement. A blade at night can still be more effective than the precision missile.”

A flicker in her eyes, Anara nodded. “Indeed...it can be.”

The pain in his hands from the impact of axe into ground was indescribable. One thought pierced through it all: he couldn’t lose the weapon. Teeth bared in wild defiance against the agony, the gladiator tightened his grip as much as he was able. He’d be able to swing it, but not gracefully. He saw Xena, and went for a lunging, horizontal slash before his advantage dissipated entirely.

Still partially in the net, Xena bend over backwards, going underneath the horizontal slash. She still had to get the rest of her body free of it, and tried to get the trident in a position to strike, or parry if necessary.

Gur came on in a savage flurry, each strike doing more damage to his hands as the blades did their work. Blood streamed down his arms and dripped between his feet. His head felt light, but he blocked that out like he blocked the pain. There was only room for his battle rage.

Xena parried the blows with the shaft of the trident, pushing the net up with it in the hopes that Gur’s savage vertical blows would cut the net, allowing her to get free. It was hard though, as she struggled underneath the weight of the blows, and she could feel the pressure that it was putting on her arms, causing her to hollar gruffly.

It was too much. Gur’s attacks slowly decreased in vigor and speed, his feet dragged, and his vision seemed unfixed to any one point. Finally he stopped, arms at his sides, the treacherous weapon sliding from his grasp with the rasp of steel in flesh.

The sluggishness of her opponent eventually allowed Xena the time necessary to emerge from the net, trident in both hands with the points sticking out towards her diminished opponent. She stepped around him, and watched as he seemed to lose his strength. She didn’t taunt him, or jeer at him. She just watched him with a neutral face, to see what might happen next. Yet, nothing did, other than her opponent being near death, and suffering all the while. So it was that in an act of mercy, Xena said a few soft prayers for he who was soon to die, before taking the trident in her hands and thrusting it into her opponent’s heart.

Anara watched as the Princess of Thule was victorious, and then she spoke to Arlenica. “As it happens, Matriarch Nessic, I did want to talk about policy regarding the Imperium. I get the impression that several nations wish to see it contained and its ability to project force eliminated as much as possible. To this end, we wonder what Deadoran policy is towards Krutongo.”

Arlenica’s eyes glittered with excitement as she watched the killing blow, a move that had the ambassador's words nearly drowned out by the thunderous vocalization of the audience beneath them. Her expression remained the same when she did turn to regard the ambassador, however. Perhaps she did have an angle after all. “The Imperium of Arbites Materia is a nation most vile,” Arlenica purred in agreement. “The fall of Krutongo to the Magi was a great failure of previous decades, but the Matriarch Empress has supported our sisters in the Queendom of Kurungarra against their attempts at aggression. And while her Ascendancy would enjoy nothing more than to drive the patriarchs into the sea, for the sake of peace for our gentler neighbors she has chosen economic and diplomatic isolation of the Magi kingdom as the best weapon against Imperium and its puppet states.” She sipped her water and crossed her legs as the crowd played out its exuberance. “The terms of the South Acheron Economic Community were drafted with that firmly in mind.”

“Interesting,” Anara tapped her chin, shifting her eyes between the area and Arlenica. “As it happens, Matriarch Nessic, if isolation of the Imperium and undermining its geopolitical goals is an objective of Empress Thrall, then I would say that this is an objective shared by my government. In fact, we are in a geographically advantageous position, considering we are the nation directly to their east.”

Arlenica arched a perfectly tended eyebrow. “Is that so, Ambassador? It would please Her Ascendancy greatly for such a common goal to become a point of cooperation between our nations. Do you have a proposal?”

“Not particularly at this time, unfortunately,” Anara said politely. “However I did want to convey that there is an interest in that regard...with all due respect of course, Matriarch Nessic.”

“Of course, Ambassador.” Arlenica said, then leaned back and pondered for several moments. “Is this an interest of Malibar’s? We’ve established that the Dakmaran court is no friend to Deadoran interests, and after all that they went through to secure an alliance with New Edom, it would be surprising to find them working openly against another staunch Edomite ally.”

“And yet, there is no love lost between the Dakmarans and the Imperium,” Anara began to explain. “Empress Sophia and Crown Prince Martin of Dakmoor especially despise it, with the later even having fought against it. Malibar on the other hand…” Anara paused for a moment. “Doesn’t like or dislike anything, but will always act in such a way where his family fortunes benefit. So you are right, Matriarch Nessic, when you say that Malibar is loathe to rock the boat with New Edom, so to speak.”

Arlenica frowned. “It is my understanding that the Ghantish Empress shares much of the powers of the Emperor. Why has she not taken steps to contain her father’s ambitions?”

Anara returned the look, for it saddened her as well. “...She sees it as her duty to obey her father, although she has demonstrated that she is susceptible to being swayed against him, especially where Ghant’s safety and security is concerned. I believe that the Imperium poses a threat to Ghantish national security, as I believe that Empress Thrall feels for her own Empire, if I might be so bold to say, Matriarch Nessic.”

The Matriarch held back a snort of derision at the thought of a monarch so easily controlled by a man, father or not. “You are right to believe such, but does Empress Sophia? Malibar has already undercut our efforts to strengthen ties once before. It is. . . difficult to move forward under the specter of further uncertainty. If Malibar backed out of containment efforts and sold us out to the Imperium in an effort to normalize relations with the Curia as well as cement ties with New Edom,” Arlenica paused, smiled softly, and sipped her water, “that would simply be unacceptable.”

“As well as politically damning,” Anara was quick to point out. “There isn’t a nation more despised by the people of Ghant then the Imperium. To do anything even remotely resembling aiding the Imperium is tantamount to political suicide. Look what happened to Prince Albert when he did it, Matriarch Nessic...he was ruined. If his back is put against a wall on the Imperium issue, Malibar will have to choose against it. Empress Sophia is a very outspoken opponent of the Imperium herself, and has made no secret of her fondness for Adiron, as well as the Shrai. I do not doubt that if push came to shove, she would lean hard on her father if he attempted to maneuver Ghant towards the Imperium. That would put pressure on the alliance with New Edom...isn’t that something you would like to see?”

“So it is,” Arlenica responded nonchalantly. “But the question then becomes how to put Malibar’s back against a wall? It appears his wisest course is to avoid the Imperium question altogether, short of another Cetan war. If there is no ‘shove’, then Empress Sophia remains as unreachable as her father.”

“The Shrai are in a similar position, are they not?” Anara asked carefully. “They, like us, are allies with New Edom and enemies of the Imperium. How do the Edomites tolerate them being so friendly to those whom they hardly care for, Matriarch Nessic? This is something that Sophia I do not doubt she is asking herself...she is very close to the Shrai, after all. They have influence over her to some degree.”

Arlenica pursed her lips and was silent for several moments. “Perhaps then it would be best to pursue a closer understanding of your Empress. If she knew Deadora as she knew the Shrailleeni, it would not be so difficult for her to advocate our cause. Tell me, does she want for her husband?”

“...As far as I can tell, Matriarch Nessic, she does, although now there are a few things between them, namely other women,” Anara answered reluctantly. “A curious question.”

Arlenica smiled. “Would she not be better served by a better man? One not blinded by promiscuity, or a stooge of her father? A man loyal only to his kin and his mate. The house of Thrall can provide such a specimen.”

“And yet, with all due respect, Matriarch Nessic, Sophia’s position is only assured by being married to the Emperor. And despite his...deviations, she remains devoted to him, perhaps due to the fact that without him, she wouldn’t be Empress,” Anara explained. To her knowledge, there had been some suggestions that she should take a paramore like Empress Grace did, but Sophia, it was said, would have nothing of such talk.

A woman devoted to two men; one a usurped monarch, the other the man who deposed him. I’ll never understand these Ghantar. Arlenica thought to herself with a restrained sigh. “Then I am at a loss, Ambassador. There seems to be no road to increase the Empire’s standing in the current order of power in your homeland.”

“I might suggest establishing dialogue with Empress Sophia,” Anara did suggest, knowing that the situation between Ghant and Deadora was highly precarious. “I believe that she will be willing to find common ground and build upon it.” Pointing then at the Thulish Princess in the arena, she continued. “The Imperium is both our enemies, and as they say, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Princess Xena down there, like many an honorable Ghantar, loathe them likewise. Public opinion dictates anti-Imperium policy, so let that be the impetus for the building of relations.”

“I will recommend as much to the Empress,” Arlenica replied. “Her Ascendancy and the Empress Sophia may succeed where we cannot.” She cast her eyes down to the triumphant Xena. ”Yet the Deadoran was not defeated by her feats of combat, but of the trap in the weapon she yielded. We will watch our hands carefully, ambassador.”

“A wise course, Matriarch Nessic,” Anara nodded. “A very wise course indeed.”
Strategy is the art of creating power.


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New Edom
Postmaster of the Fleet
 
Posts: 22923
Founded: Mar 14, 2011
Democratic Socialists

Postby New Edom » Tue Jul 07, 2015 12:22 am

Betharan Palace
Fineberg, New Edom


Finally, as if the rumblings of some ancient discontented dragon in its lair, Malibar finally spoke, just as he began to set his drink down. “Aye, a cornerstone. I am grateful that our forces demonstrated discipline, honor and valor in the field, I would have expected nothing less. Our people yearn for the chance to prove themselves, and knew that much and more was riding on them prevailing, in order to honor our oaths of allegiance to our allies, steadfast and true. Our cornerstone…the union between my son and the Queen, which served as the cornerstone of our alliance, is now gone. Now we should consider a proposition as to what should be done to rectify this. Had my son demonstrated the same degree of friendship and loyalty to his wife that he has shown to the Crown Princess, one can only wonder how much trouble would have been avoided. Alas, what is done is done.”

Stroking his chin, Malibar continued. “It is well enough to know that my son handled himself in an honorable way. Yet, his story reminds me of that of the baker’s son. A baker who spent a great deal of time crafting a cake for a king’s feast, and tasked his son with carrying the cake to the feast hall. The son dropped the cake en route, although he managed to cobble it back together. When word reached his father, he was quite impressed that the cake had been somewhat recovered, although, that didn’t change the fact that the cake was dropped, and cakes should never be dropped.” His eyes, like Michael’s, homed in on his son, leaving little to the imagination of his disappointment.

“Granted, friends and allies,” Malibar said after taking another drink, “what lies behind us is of little consequence now, and to the future, of that much we should all be able to agree. The alliance between us, as you have said, was consummated by blood and lives in the name of proper governance. Sometimes in the course of pursuing peace and restoration of rightful rule of law, certain…adjustments must be made in order to accomplish what needs to happen in order to preserve it. So, given the political realities of the situation, I am fully willing and able to support this peace proposal in totality, including this divorce between the Queen and my son, on one condition, which I would consider recompense.”

Michael eyed his father carefully as he waited to hear what he would say. The other Ghantar did too, like flowers leaning towards the sun. Then he named it, but not before giving a quick glance towards the Gentries, as if wary of them. “That a new cornerstone be added, in place of the previous. This new cornerstone would consist of a new marriage…arranged between Michael and the highest ranking Princess at court, which, incidentally, would be Crown Princess Jocasta. Given your glowing assessment of my son, and considering the Crown Princess’s feelings towards him, I would consider this to be a very reasonable arrangement. Does anyone object to this proposition?”

There was never a time in Michael’s life where he was happier with his father then that very moment. He felt a sense of elation, but knew it was because his father’s back had been put up against a wall, practically forcing him to ask that Michael and the next highest ranking Princess be wed. Michael did not doubt that his father cared little for Michael and Jocasta’s feelings, merely that it was convenient that they coincided with the politics at this particular instance.

The Gentries spoke amongst themselves, whispering in each other’s ears. Finally, Cassandra spoke for them. “The Imperial House bears no objections to this proposal.” Damn, even the Gentries don’t object, although knowing them, there was some ulterior motive that wasn’t accounted for, or maybe Malibar was aware of it, but his hubris meant that he didn’t feel the need to let it interrupt his own plans.

Michael added his own thoughts, after Caroline and Arietta also shook their heads to signify that they didn’t object. “…I have no objections.” Malibar gave his son a look that could only mean that he wanted to say something condescending, but he stayed his sharp tongue. Father must have wanted to say, ‘or course you don’t, this is what you wanted all along.’

Malibar laid back in his seat and looked on, having previously picked up his drink and resuming to sip on it. Clearly, he was waiting to see what the Edomites had had to say, and if he were to smile, he would do so only after everyone came into agreement.


Count Lalery pulled a gold cigarette case out of his jacket pocket, slid out a slim brown cigarillo and lit it with a match struck between his fingers. He inhaled, puffed at it, and waved the match out. He glanced at Elijah and Rebecca.

"I am content with the idea, but I must ask my daughter...she is of the right age but seems so young to me," said Rebecca.

"Oh mother," sighed Jocasta. "Yes, I would love to marry Michael. I don't think he was suitable for Mara nor she for him. it's unfortunate but there it is. I think, Lord Malibar, that you are hard on your son, but then how could a man of such accomplishments as you not be? But that's not for me to say. If it is agreeable to my mother, sister, and cousin and Elijah, I will gladly do it," she said, blushing softly and smiling.

"Isn't this technically incest?" said Prince Enoch. Everyone on the Edomite side looked at him.

"What?" exclaimed Jocasta.

"Well I was thinking about it. In Leviticus 18-20 the laws about marriage are quite clear. Michael is Jocasta's brother in law; she can't marry him according to that," Enoch pointed out. "It's incest, incest is against the law."

"Oh for goodness' sake..." Rebecca exclaimed.

"Enoch, don't be such a jerk," said Lalery, shaking his head. "How can it be incest if the marriage is annuled?"

"Divorce," said Mara primly. "It has to be divorce. I won't perjure myself. I mean in all honesty, Michael had his penis inside me on three occasions, so it was consummated..."

"Ew!" cried Jocasta, waving her hands in the air.

"Mara!" cried Rebecca. Lalery grinned. Elijah sighed.

"Ew ew ew ew ew!" Jocasta cried. "I do not want to hear about this! You're so disgusting! You should be locked up you, you crazy woman! And Enoch, you're an idiot!" she screamed.

"Who, me--" he began.

"Idiot, idiot, idiot idiot idiot!" shrieked Jocasta. "I should have fired you a long time ago, because you're such an idiot! Why don't you shut up and not say idiot things!"

Elijah said in a sharp voice, "Enough." in a rare vein of humour he said to Lord Malibar "Are you sure you want to marry into this family?" he held up a hand. "Fortunately, I had the leisure to ask Bishop Zecharias about it. it only applies if a man marries a woman who his brother consummated a marriage with. it is irrelevant if a man marries the virgin sister of another woman. I suggest, Enoch, that you read laws more thoroughly in future. And Jocasta, do not conduct yourself in such a manner again. I realize you are upset, but if you want to be taken seriously, govern your passions. So: the marriage is acceptable to me."

"Then why did you let everyone go on like that?" demanded Jocasta, trembling with outrage still.

"It amused me to do so," Elijah replied, straight faced. "Now, was there any other business at hand?"
"The three articles of Civil Service faith: it takes longer to do things quickly, it's far more expensive to do things cheaply, and it's more democratic to do things in secret." - Jim Hacker "Yes Minister"

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Hittanryan
Powerbroker
 
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Founded: Mar 10, 2011
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Hittanryan » Tue Jul 07, 2015 12:28 am

Bryn Tegna

The Imperial Office of Acquisition was a plain, harsh cut building of black stone built five stories high, nearly identical to the other Offices lining the quiet street. The magnificent black and gold dome of Calla-Gold Palace loomed beyond. On the other side of the palace was the international district, where foreign embassies were established. Only certain roads in the Old City district of Bryn Tegna had been reconstructed to accommodate automobiles. A drive from the embassy would go down wide, carefully cobbled streets lined with dark trees. Aristocrats and bureaucrats walked along shaded paths, occasionally tended by one of the capitals caste of eunuch slaves, the Gelded. Most of the buildings were mansions or even small castles, larger and grander the closer they were to the palace.

Prior to her meeting with the Adiran ambassador, Matriarch of Commerce Sara Standyr had met with Arlenica Nessic to discuss the Republic’s intentions. Standyr and Nessic worked together closely, as the Empress’s trade and foreign policy went hand in hand. Of course it was a response to the inception of the South Acheron Economic Community, aimed at salvaging as much of their relationships with Valik and Lazodiria as they could. The presence of a Magi protectorate backed by the Imperium of Arbites along the shores of the Gulf of Biin’Ka theoretically made Adiron a natural ally in regards to containing the spread of the virulent religion through southern Acheron, yet neither the Empire or the Republic had taken steps to build on that. And no deal could be made with Ceti without considering the other Acheronian powers; the vile Han, the deceitful Jedorians, and of course New Edom (itself an ally of the Imperium).

They discussed these things at length until it was time for the ambassador to arrive, and Arlenica exited the building just as the motorcade arrived.

Emerging from the motorcade was a weathered woman with dark hair in a bun wearing a sensible business suit with a skirt. She wore her laugh lines and crow’s feet remarkably well and still sported a trim figure despite her apparent age. She was Theresa Weinberg, the Adiran Ambassador to Deadora.

The characteristic dark stone of Deadoran architecture never failed to seem exotic to most Adirans, despite the steadily-encroaching modernity all around it. Even the ambassador, posted to Bryn Tegna some years ago, still paused to appreciate it...when she wasn’t nose-deep in stacks of communiques or working out, anyway. It had been an uneventful posting so far. During her first few years Adiron was almost wholly concerned with winning the war. Since the war’s conclusion, the Republic’s main interests in southeast Acheron concerned New Othman and Krutongo, specifically containing the considerable threats they posed to Lazodiria and Valik. Deadora hadn’t challenged Adiron’s positions there, so aside from the spat over Dengali there had been relatively little activity, at least until now.

Adiran businesses with interests in Lazodiria and Valik were looking to minimize the damage of impending external tariffs which would be imposed by the new customs union. Diplomats in other SAEC member states were doing much the same as she was: asking questions.

Entering the room, Weinberg inclined her chin, baring her neck in the traditional Deadoran greeting she had grown accustomed to. “Matriarch, I would like to thank you for meeting so promptly. There are many changes taking place in South Acheron, which naturally raises many questions and plenty of new challenges.”

Standyr had a corner office with windows taking in the view of Calla-Gold and the surrounding city. The skyscrapers of modern downtown could be seen just a few kilometers distant. The Matriarch was a Kehrahnii woman of middle age, straight-nosed and thin-lipped but with a dash of freckles across her nose that would forever keep a wisp of girlishness to her features. Her hair, once as gold as desert sand, was beginning to silver, and there was a stylish platinum streak in her blonde bun.

She stood and smiled as the ambassador came into the room and bared her neck. “Hile ambassador, and well met. Change has indeed come, but challenge is what drives us to rise above our lot in life. Drink?” She gestured at a small bar against one wall with a decanter of golden brandy. Her voice remained pleasant as she looked at Weinberg with dark eyes.

“Yes, thank you, I’ll have what you’re having,” Weinberg replied, smiling. “Change is everywhere. You just have to look out the window or pick up a newspaper here in Bryn Tegna, after all.”

There was a faint clink and tinkle of glass as Standyr poured a small amount of brandy into two snifters. She took a small, quick sip of Weinberg’s before handing it to the ambassdaor. “So it is,” she agreed. “The Matriarch Empress has a vision. Please, sit.” There were a few comfortable chairs in the office, as well as a small couch and coffee table. She took a chair. “Having you in my Office, now that is a change. I understand you are trying to ascertain your government’s new relationship with the SAEC in light of previous relationships with some member states.” She paused to inhale the scent of brandy, her expression coy. “How can I help you?”

Weinberg took a small, polite sample of the brandy before starting. “Well, Matriarch, a number of Adiran business interests have petitioned my government with concerns about how they will be impacted by SAEC regulations. The reason why my government sought to bring this directly to your attention is that maintaining strong trade relations with both nations is a significant component of Adiron’s foreign policy of containment.”

“Since the war with New Othman, Adiron has been committed to aiding the recovery of both Lazodiria and Valik. In addition to simply supporting an ally and humanitarian efforts, my government believes that ensuring the stability and prosperity of both nations will strengthen them against possible Imperial influence from nearby Krutongo. Radical religious elements often thrive in war-torn, economically depressed nations, after all. Completing reconstruction would also bolster their national security overall in what has historically been a volatile part of Central Acheron, underscored by this most recent terrorist attack in New Othman. Adiran capital and trade is supporting their economic growth, and steady growth, in our view, helps keep fanatics like Baukis out of power,” she explained.

Standyr replied promptly. “It is to these ends that Her Ascendancy’s government crafted the SAEC charter alongside Lazodiria and Valik. We are no stranger to the threat of Islamic terror from the north, and those nations could not afford more war on their own. Imperial soldiers are on the ground as we speak, helping those caught in the devastation. The importation of radical Magism during a time of crisis is more sinister still. Containment could accurately be applied to Her Ascendancy’s policy towards Krutongo as well, through isolating their economies from their neighbors. It is not the business of Ceti to establish military colonies in Acheron.” She paused, sipped.

“I understand why Adiran business is concerned, but South Acheron must also be protected from corporate exploitation as well. It is no secret that corporations may neglect or even exploit the needs of the community for profit. And SAEC is just that; a community of nations. The Matriarch Empress appreciates Adiron’s role in defeating a rogue New Othman, but to deal with part of the community is to deal with the entirety. Deadora is the largest economy in South Acheron. Valik, Lazodiria, the whole region, would be better served if our nations cooperated to a greater extent in pursuit of these mutual goals, would you not agree?”

“Naturally, considering I’m no Liberal,” Weinberg said with a slight smile. “I would add that in Ceti, Adiron in particular is keenly aware of the failings of unchecked greed. To the south, we’re trying to rebuild the twisted wreckage of Arcologia after a conglomerate of multinationals effectively pillaged the land at the expense of human life and dignity. To the east, in the Imperium, we see rampant poverty and sheer disregard for human life being taken to new and...interesting extremes. And if we go back to Old Ceti, corporate interests acting against those of the community ultimately grew so extreme that the entire country tore itself apart.”

“Adiran trade with Central Acheron will parallel none of those examples. I can assure you the President’s own party wouldn’t condone those practices, and some would in fact be illegal. Adiran firms are not holding any markets captive in Central Acheron,” she said earnestly, looking Standyr in the eye before relaxing once again.

“Take the contributions of the financial sector, for instance. In granting small business loans, providing insurance, and investing in developing infrastructure, Adiran banks strengthen local businesses against the very sort of predatory globalization you mentioned. Our exports are competed against domestically, and fair competition helps keep prices down and quality high. It’s when competition ends that the free market ceases to be free, and the benefits of capitalism start to disappear.”

Standyr met the woman’s stare. This foreigner was bold, but not brash; serious and pragmatic. “Her Ascendancy is of like mind, and believes that Deadora too can benefit from the expertise of Adiran business. Given the Republics previous alliance and true friendship to two member states in a time of great crisis, as well as the significance of Adiran trade to those same nations in the years since the Othmani War, the Empire is prepared to support a proposal to the Customs Union to reduce the Common External Tariff on trade with the Republic of Adiron. A deal that wouldn’t only preserve your competitiveness in Lazodiria and United Valik, but increase it in Gloria Regis, Spartianus, and here in Deadora.”

Weinberg had slowly chipped away at the brandy until there was just a bit remaining at the bottom of the glass. “That sounds fair, I’m sure my government will be glad to hear it, as will the Adiran business community,” the ambassador said, inhaling. “Though when it comes to Deadora I wonder if, Her Ascendant Majesty notwithstanding, there would be any opposition to greater Adiran investment or imports.”

Standyr swirled the last of her brandy before finishing it off as well, and looked at the ambassador seriously. “The will of the Matriarch Empress will be carried out in her lands, whatever it might be. There are certain families of the nobility that have had their market share protected by generations of tradition. But Her Ascendancy believes that is no longer efficient for the Deadoran economy in the modern world. She wishes to extricate royal privilege from business, and the nobles can adapt or sell their assets to those who can.”

The ambassador briefly glanced out the window. “During the Industrial Revolution, some of East Ceti’s nobility adapted, some didn’t. I’m sure you can guess which ones retained most of their privileges and wealth and which ones found themselves serving coffee to wealthy descendents of their own peasants. Though Her Ascendancy may want to be careful...” she said, glancing from one side to another.

“...or some people might even start calling her a Liberal. I would hate to see such a case of lèse majesté.” Weinberg then smirked.

“Not as much as those who made such remarks,” Standyr deadpanned, though only partially in jest. Opposition was a deadly game in Deadora, and she had witnessed the deaths not just of noblewomen, but of colleagues as well. “In truth, economic liberalization is the Empress’s goal. It is why I am sitting with you here. Adiron is unique in having the economic capability to assist us in achieving her goal, and possessing the mutual geopolitical interests to desire to do so. Despite our...divergent views on gender roles, you’re no Imp. And while I am sure there is no love lost for the Empire in your electorate--” the word rolled alien and awkward off her tongue”--, if Adiron is serious about promoting stability in South Acheron, Deadora is a reality.”

“Let me leave you with something to bear in mind, then: Deadora’s recent efforts at diplomacy with its longtime rivals across the border are helping to assure certain parties that Her Ascendancy is a new kind of Empress. Detente with Pahath-Moab over Magna Lacuna? A settlement with the King over Dengali? Imagine if this was 1912...” Weinberg said, before something dawned on her. “...although I can’t account for my ancestors.”

“If I were to say one thing about the Matriarch Empress, it is that she is a woman beyond the vision of her most legendary mother, the Snake Queen. Prosperity in life is more important than glory in death.” Standyr said, admiration clear in her voice. “And well is the world that not all in Ceti fell to barbarism or poverty. Was there anything else, ambassador? I will have my Office draw up a first draft of the Adiran agreement for the Regulatory Commission, to be reviewed by your government before submission of course.”

“I believe that accounts for everything, Matriarch. Thank you very much for your time, and I’m glad we were able to come to an understanding on these matters, and it was a pleasure,” the ambassador said, rising from her seat and baring her neck once more.

“As am I, and I look forward to further cooperation with your government in the future.” Standyr replied, standing as well to escort Weinberg from the room.
Last edited by Hittanryan on Tue Jul 07, 2015 12:31 am, edited 2 times in total.
In-character name of the nation is "Adiron," because I like the name better.

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Ghant
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Posts: 2410
Founded: Feb 11, 2013
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Ghant » Tue Jul 07, 2015 12:56 am

“King Consort’s Gambit” (V)
Betharan Palace
Fineberg, New Edom


Michael sat still and watched Lalery withdraw a cigarette case from his jackey, a cigarillo thusly lit and smoked as his eyes shifted between Elijah and Rebecca. He wasn’t the only one…several others did the same, looking amongst each other to see what might be said.

It was Rebecca who spoke. "I am content with the idea, but I must ask my daughter...she is of the right age but seems so young to me."

To that, the King Consort could only help but sigh. A part of him did wonder if Rebecca was trying to save Jocasta to hopefully angle for a better match…

"Oh mother," sighed Jocasta. "Yes, I would love to marry Michael. I don't think he was suitable for Mara nor she for him. it's unfortunate but there it is. I think, Lord Malibar, that you are hard on your son, but then how could a man of such accomplishments as you not be? But that's not for me to say. If it is agreeable to my mother, sister, and cousin and Elijah, I will gladly do it," she said, blushing softly and smiling.

Malibar, for his part, nodded softly. “You may be young, but you are intelligent. All I have tried to do was put my son in a position to succeed…the same for any of my children. What they do with those opportunities, ultimately, is up to them.” Rather conspicuously, he left out the fact that Michael simply wasn’t right for Mara…knowing father, he believes I could have at least been tolerable.

In any event, Michael’s heart was beating at a thousand miles per minute it seemed like, at the thought of Jocasta agreeing to marry him. It was like a great elation, a weight being lifted off of his shoulders, a curse broken at long last. He let himself go with a smile…

"Isn't this technically incest?" said Prince Enoch. Everyone on the Edomite side looked at him…then the Ghantish too, Michael with a look of scorn, and Malibar even, with narrowed eyes.

"What?" exclaimed Jocasta.

"Well I was thinking about it. In Leviticus 18-20 the laws about marriage are quite clear. Michael is Jocasta's brother in law; she can't marry him according to that," Enoch pointed out. "It's incest, incest is against the law."

"Oh for goodness' sake..." Rebecca exclaimed.

"Enoch, don't be such a jerk," said Lalery, shaking his head. "How can it be incest if the marriage is annulled?"

"Divorce," said Mara primly. "It has to be divorce. I won't perjure myself. I mean in all honesty, Michael had his penis inside me on three occasions, so it was consummated..."

"Ew!" cried Jocasta, waving her hands in the air.

"Mara!" cried Rebecca. Lalery grinned. Elijah sighed.

“…Only three times Michael, really?” Arietta asked before laughing. Even the normally disciplined Cassandra let out a laugh at that. Malibar wasn’t laughing, however.

"Ew ew ew ew ew!" Jocasta cried. "I do not want to hear about this! You're so disgusting! You should be locked up you, you crazy woman! And Enoch, you're an idiot!" she screamed.

"Who, me--" he began.

"Idiot, idiot, idiot idiot idiot!" shrieked Jocasta. "I should have fired you a long time ago, because you're such an idiot! Why don't you shut up and not say idiot things!"

Elijah said in a sharp voice, "Enough." Then he addressed Malibar. "Are you sure you want to marry into this family?" he held up a hand. "Fortunately, I had the leisure to ask Bishop Zecharias about it. it only applies if a man marries a woman who his brother consummated a marriage with. It is irrelevant if a man marries the virgin sister of another woman. I suggest, Enoch, that you read laws more thoroughly in future. And Jocasta, do not conduct yourself in such a manner again. I realize you are upset, but if you want to be taken seriously, govern your passions. So: the marriage is acceptable to me."

"Then why did you let everyone go on like that?" demanded Jocasta, trembling with outrage still.

"It amused me to do so," Elijah replied, straight faced. "Now, was there any other business at hand?"

Malibar continued to look at Enoch in a way that seemed to indicate that he was not impressed. “If Enoch Tubal-Cain has any grievances against my son or my family, I would hear them in private later…I have heard enough to indicate that he does. In any event, assuming all parties accept this engagement, then aside from the marriage itself and corresponding festivities, I consider the matter closed, and the terms of the peace fully to my satisfaction.”

Michael could barely think straight, jittering in his seat and his head rushing, along with goosebumps and little tingles and shivers as he admired his beloved Jocasta. Then he said, “thank you, father…”

Malibar continued with only a cursory glance towards his son. “There is also the matter of troop withdrawal to discuss, as well as increased trade. A certain missive sent from your Ministry of Oil and Resources during Perrrin’s…tenure, didn’t go unnoticed…”
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Ghant
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