The Man of Straw

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The Man of Straw

Postby Pantocratoria » Wed Apr 06, 2016 2:16 pm


Hôtel Étoile, New Rome
United Christian Front After Party
Election Night

After a long night of worse than expected results, the mood at the United Christian Front's official election after party was markedly somber. The Opposition had decisively lost, but the Government had nevertheless lost its majority - to an insurgent far-right party, the Party for National Action. Many of its MPs, especially those regarded as more socially moderate within the context of the socially conservative governing party, had been especially targeted by the Party for National Action, and those seats had fallen already. Behind closed doors, the Imperial Chancellor, Sir Thierry del Moray, was struggling with his advisors what to make of the situation. He had ordered his speech writers only to prepare a victory speech, but despite the fact that Isabelle Folquet and the Socialist/Constantinople Coalition had lost, the Imperial Chancellor had not won. However, the situation hardly called for a concession speech either - it wasn't clear what it called for exactly. Sir Thierry stopped himself pacing only by sitting down in one of the Hôtel Étoile's opulent couches which appeared to be surplus from the Palace itself, and accepting an offered glass of brandy from his wife. Finally the frantic, clipped political discussion with his closest confidants was silenced for a few long moments of silent reflection on what everyone in the room agreed was a bastard of an evening.

"Colonel Nogent on the phone for you, Chancellor." an aide interrupted, stepping forward from the corner in which she had been standing, holding a black business edition PeacockPhone in the Chancellor's direction.

"I don't want to speak with that son of a whore." Sir Thierry declared dismissively.

The aide turned pink, not because she was unfamiliar with the language (everyone swore in politics), but because the aforementioned son of a whore was on the other end of the line and since she was standing while the Chancellor was sitting, the PeacockPhone had been very well-placed to pick up the Chancellor's bon-mots. She quickly withdrew the phone and placed her hand over where she thought the microphone was placed in the thing's sleek case.

"What shall I tell him?" she asked, perturbed.

"Tell him to go fuck himself." Sir Thierry shrugged.

"Thierry..." Marie-Claire del Moray chided. She gestured to the aide to hand the phone over to the Chancellor's chief of staff, who'd be better placed to make something up about why the Chancellor couldn't speak to the leader of Party for National Action.

"I'm not forming a coalition with him. Or any of them. Fuck them all." Sir Thierry declared, and downed his brandy with a quick flick of the wrist.

The senior advisors, minus the chief of staff, who was now smoothing things over with the leader of the new Parliament's third largest party whilst simultaneously making the Chancellor's excuses, all looked at each other. Generally they exchanged dubious looks, but one seemed to achieve the lofty heights of ambivalence - Edouard Dernomes, whose official title suggested he had something to do with advising the Chancellor on matters of economic policy.

"Well... He's hardly going to make Folquet Chancellor, is he?" Dernomes shrugged. "Maybe we can govern as a minority. We've the most seats."

"Will the Emperor go for that?" asked another advisor, Jacques Fulmont, somewhat dubiously.

"We could go back to the polls..." murmured someone else.

"Will the Emperor go for that?" Fulmont scoffed.

"Will the Party?" asked another voice.

All eyes turned to the United Christian Front's National Chairman, François d'Umberville MP. His own safe seat in leafy Montmanuel had neither been the target of a Party for National Action campaign nor ever in any threat from either the Socialists or their Greek-speaking agriculturally inclined coalition partners - it was too rich and too "Frank" to care for either. Truth be told the man had his doubts. He knew that the organizational wing of the party had expended huge resources on the campaign, and would not be keen to do so again within a few months if there was any other way to hold onto government.

"Well," d'Umberville began. "I think the Party would need to see that holding government was impossible except for by winning a majority at a fresh election... and frankly given the margins some of the backbenchers will be on after tonight, I shouldn't want to test their nerves with promises of a close-run thing. If we must go to another election straight away, we must know that we'll win."

"Like in 1992?" scoffed Dernomes.

"Unfortunately circumstances have changed quite dramatically since 1992." d'Umberville said benignly - the United Christian Front now had to contend with an independent electoral commission which everybody in the room supposed was incorruptible.

"What else am I supposed to have done for these ungrateful cockroaches anyway?" Sir Thierry exploded, practically leaping off his couch to his feet.

Since the Imperial Chancellor now stood, so did everyone else in the room - except his wife - informal conversation be damned.

"Pardon me, Chancellor, do you mean our backbench colleagues?" d'Umberville inquired.

"What?" Sir Thierry looked at the man like he was being deliberately obtuse. "No, voters! I can't promise our backbench colleagues we'll do any better in a fresh election than we have done tonight. Despite making the Pantocratorian economy the envy of the region, nay, the whole fucking world, the electorate has decided, in its infinite wisdom, to shove a trumped up Nazi in a colonel's uniform up my arse! Fuck elections."

There was long, awkward silence. The Chancellor poured himself another brandy.

"Well, quite." d'Umberville agreed sedately.

The Imperial Chancellor's Chief of Staff, Jean-Philippe Verdefleur, returned to the conversation from his phone call.

"Well, he wants to start coalition talks." Verdefleur declared.

"The fucking nerve!" Sir Thierry exploded again, nearly spilling his brandy all over himself. He then downed the glass with another single flick of the wrist. "I hope you told him to go fuck himself. Like I said."

"Naturally." Verdefleur answered sarcastically. "And ease up on the brandy, you've got to make a speech."

"What?" Sir Thierry scoffed.

"There's over a thousand people in the ballroom still waiting for you to make a speech, not to mention half a dozen news crews." Verdefleur growled, losing patience with his boss's self-pity. "So stop drowning your sorrows and pull yourself together, Chancellor."

Marie-Claire del Moray got to her feet at last, and put her arm around her husband's shoulders.

"This is so fucking unfair." Sir Thierry complained, his mood now melancholic. "Fine, something short though, to the point, non-committal."

"I'll see if I can salvage anything out of what the writers left for us." Verdefleur agreed, and went to a laptop in the corner to mangle the pre-written victory speech.

"That son of a whore thinks I'm impressed by a few fucking medals." Sir Thierry complained to his wife and remaining confidants as Verdefleur worked.


A few minutes later, Sir Thierry del Moray had composed himself, and emerged into the ballroom of the Hôtel Étoile, arm in arm with Marie-Claire del Moray, and followed by their three children, all now young adults. Despite the fact that the mood had been somber for hours and it was well passed midnight, the sight of their leader brought the true believers to their feet, and the ballroom was soon filled with cheers and applause almost as thunderous as if the United Christian Front had actually won the election. The news crews stirred themselves, put aside their coffees, and got to work, recording the Imperial Chancellor's not quite triumphant entrance. Sir Thierry and family made their way up onto the stage, and Sir Thierry approached a podium flanked by Pantocratorian flags, bearing the election slogan "ÉCONOMIE - FAMILLE - PATRIE". The applause continued for quite some time, until Sir Thierry waved it down after thirty seconds or so, and began to address the faithful at the Hôtel Étoile, and the viewers across the nation alike.

"My dear friends," Sir Thierry opened. "Tonight the achievements and policies of our Government have been vindicated, by the comprehensive defeat of the Coalition." The crowd forced itself to cheer for the cameras. "Unfortunately many of our valued colleagues across the nation have paid the price for the strength of their convictions, and have lost their seats to targeted campaigns on divisive social issues. To them I extend my deepest sympathies, but I want them to know that the achievements of our Government since its election in 2010 are not just my achievements, but theirs as well. Without them, Pantocratoria would not be one of the most efficient, productive economies in the world, and Pantocratorians would not be amongst the world's wealthiest peoples." The crowd politely applauded. "My friends, the final outcome of this election is not yet known. Over the coming days and perhaps weeks, I will be holding discussions with the re-elected Cabinet members, and all returned United Christian Front MPs. I will also hold discussions with the parliamentary leadership of the other parties, to discuss how workable, stable government can be delivered, if possible, in this Hung Parliament. It would be remiss to take any options off the table at this stage, but I expect that the Government's mandate, the most votes, a plurality in the House, not to mention our impeccable record, will be respected, and will be the cornerstone of all such discussions."

Sir Thierry del Moray reached a single finger to the end of his nose, which he touched for a moment as he suppressed any outward sign of the rage and disappointment he felt at that moment. Neither made itself obvious, but the nose scratching gesture nevertheless triggered a display of flash photography suitable to induce an epileptic fit, and would no doubt be endlessly discussed by talking heads dissecting this footage on the cable news networks the next day.

"Well, as I look around..." Sir Thierry began, looking on the faces of his supporters at the Hôtel Étoile. "I want to thank all of you, the volunteers, the grass roots campaigners, the supporters, God bless all of you, and thank you." There was a huge cheer. "To my Cabinet, and to my parliamentary colleagues, those who have been re-elected, those who have retired, those elected tonight for the first time, and most of all, those who lost their seats despite fighting so very hard in this campaign, thank all of you for your loyalty and your support. I will do my very best to prove myself deserving of it." Cheering and applause. "To my dear wife, Marie-Claire, and our children..."

The thanks and gratitude went on into the evening, even as most viewers stopped paying attention and flicked back to the football results.

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The Resurgent Dream
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Left-Leaning College State

Postby The Resurgent Dream » Thu Jun 30, 2016 3:48 pm

Prime Minister’s Suite, Kilburn House
Tarana, Caldan Union

The Prime Minister's personal suite in Kilburn House, sometimes unofficially called Fuller House, consisted of an anteroom, a private washroom, a changing room, and the Prime Minister’s personal office, a spacious, wood-paneled room. French windows looked out over well-tended gardens. The room was dominated by a large, oak desk which now sat empty. The comfortable couches and armchairs in which George Flynn sometimes sat for meetings with his staff had been turned so that all faced the small television in one corner of the room, a television now showing the election results from Pantocratoria. The men and women the Prime Minister had asked to watch the results with him were still filtering in. It had been a busy day filled with the same slew of meetings, reports, conference calls, interviews, and appearances as any other. The Pantocratorian elections were not, yet, the centre of national attention. True, over ten times as many Caldans were watching as had ever before watched a foreign election but that number was still quite tiny compared to the total population. It was less than a hundredth the number of Caldans who watched a domestic national election.

In the room, however, everything seemed to hinge on the outcome in Pantocratoria. Prime Minister George Flynn was leaning forward in his chair. His mouth was set and his eyes barely seemed to blink as he stared at the screen. His Chief of Staff, John Mannion, was staring resolutely at the screen, his brow furrowed deeply. Deputy Chief of Staff Malcolm Nicholson and Principal Secretary Ollie Pearson sat silently next to one another, each looking down despondently. Director of Communications Josh Russell fidgeted in restlessly in his chair. He kept looking at the Prime Minister as though about to speak and then looking back at the television when Flynn didn’t speak. Given pride of place closest to the Prime Minister were Deputy Prime Minister Alexandre Bonacieux and Minister of Foreign Affairs Lola Foster. Although influential members of the Cabinet, they were very much guests here outside of the weekly Cabinet meetings.

Only after the final results were announced did Bonacieux break the silence with a few colourful expressions in French, some of which didn’t sound anatomically possible. On any other day, it would have been completely inappropriate for the setting as Flynn valued the sense of professional decorum he'd developed in his years as a Crown prosecutor. Today it seemed to fit, an expression of what everyone else was feeling but was too reserved to say. Flynn glanced over and then looked to Foster. ‘What do you think?’

‘At this point, it could mean anything,’ she said, leaning back in her chair and crossing her legs, her lips pursed and her gaze abstracted like a woman looking for an answer that wasn't there. ‘Pantocratorian politics is in turmoil. This isn’t a conventional situation.’

‘Is it possible they could form a National Unity Government to reject the fascists?’ Flynn asked hopefully. ‘Or perhaps the Constantinople Party might realign? My understanding is that they’re fairly socially conservative themselves and the United Christian Front has come to accept the presence of Orthodoxy and Greek in Pantocratorian life.’

‘Like I said, anything’s possible,’ Foster acknowledged, ‘but the odds are vanishingly small. The Constantinople Party has been part of the Coalition for well over a decade. They campaigned as part of the Coalition and they’ve only governed as part of the Coalition. The United Christian Front has lost most of its moderate members. It’s a more conservative party than it was going into the elections and it’s going to be more open to coming to terms with Action Nationale.’

‘So you think we should…’ Flynn started to ask.

‘No,’ Foster said. ‘Any interference would just make things worse. We’re not in a position to dictate Pantocratorian elections.’

Flynn sighed and stood. ‘Then I suppose I should call the Chancellor and congratulate him on entering the exciting world of minority government, if he hasn’t resigned by the time I get to the phone.’
Last edited by The Resurgent Dream on Sat Jul 02, 2016 12:10 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby Knootoss » Sat Jul 23, 2016 3:22 pm

Even though the Knootian election year saw a domestic audience distracted from the goings-on beyond their shores, many still focused on the election drama that was playing out in New Rome.

The Pantocratorian elections tickled Knootian insecurities that had been buried after the introduction of the Atlantic Ducat. There was widespread resentment of the Pantocratorian alliance among many voters, particularly in the north. There had always been clashes over LGBT rights and tariffs as well as lingering doubts about the depth of the commitment of the Pantocratorians to the alliance with a Republic whose national character was so different from their own. It was a strange inferiority-superiority complex that made many Knootians feel both superior to- and in awe of- the Pantocratorian Empire.

Many Knootians were either watching the results as they came in or getting updates via (social) media. The thumping wins for the Party for National Action were greeted with dismay on Twatter and on Friendsbook. Some saw it as confirmation that Pantocratoria was still an evil empire, not really a democracy. Others saw it as evidence of the inherent fascistic tendencies in the Roman Catholic faith. Others still blamed the uncritical way in which much of the Knootian political elite had been propping up the agenda of the United Cristian Front, ignoring a Socialist agenda that was so much closer to real Knootian values. And then there were those who felt that all the parties in Pantocratoria were awful and it wouldn't really matter who won or lost.

None of these considerations entered the mind of Knootoss' most airheaded Prime Minister, the ever-popular Maurits Viljoen. After sending out a Twat congratulating the Pantocratorians on having had a democratic election, he picked up the phone to call his Pantocratorian counterpart, the Imperial Chancellor, Sir Thierry del Moray.

"Hello - yes, it's Viljoen here", he said quite cheerfully. "Congratulations on winning the election. Still the biggest party. As I said during my last election win: we went for the gold, and we got the gold. And you, my friend, got the gold."

Realising (perhaps too late) that the mood on the other side was not quite so cheerful he did wish the Imperial Chancellor all the best with the difficult coalition negotiations ahead of him: "We've got experience with this sort of thing", he offered. "Coalitions, I mean. If you want some neutral coalition arbiters - we could send some. I could even come over myself if you like. Though I suppose the Emperor will also play a role!"
Last edited by Knootoss on Sun Jul 24, 2016 3:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Pantocratoria » Mon Sep 19, 2016 11:56 am

Club de Penthièvre
New Rome

"He won't be persuaded, Chancellor." François d'Umberville explained to Sir Thierry del Moray, who had been brooding in his club until the party Chairman's arrival. "Bolkus wants a fresh election. He is convinced, no doubt, that the supposed protest-vote factor saw many Constantinople Party seats fall to the Party for National Action. Perhaps even that voters didn't fully anticipate the impact their preferences would have on the election, and that where Constantinople Party preferences were distributed, a fresh election may even see their Socialist Coalition partners returned."

"Cretin." Sir Thierry growled. He thoughtfully rubbed his chin, unshaven this morning. It was a good thing the exclusive Club de Penthièvre didn't admit journalists or indeed anybody but members and their guests, and even those within limits.

"His sort can't help it, I suppose." d'Umberville reflected.

"Well, do we even have to deal with Bolkus anymore?" Sir Thierry wondered. "He lost so many seats, will his party stick with him? Perhaps we could convince his party room to elect a leader more amenable to a change in coalition partners?"

"Perhaps." d'Umberville reflected, his face impassive. "But..."

"Yes, I know, it wouldn't be enough seats." Sir Thierry nodded. "We'd need defectors from other parties..."

The Chancellor drifted off as if expecting d'Umberville would suddenly announce defectors. The National Chairman looked back, silent.

"That imbecile Viljoen called me, you know..." Sir Thierry began, changing the topic.

"Chancellor, if I may be so bold," d'Umberville interrupted. "As Chairman, it is naturally one's duty in circumstances such as those in which one finds oneself, to counsel the party leader..."

"Your counsel is always welcome, François." Sir Thierry objected, but his mind searched what new circumstances the Chairman could mean.

"I wish to assure you, Chancellor, of my absolute loyalty and allegiance." d'Umberville lied with as much convincing sincerity as he had ever addressed another human being.

"Of course..." Sir Thierry said, uneasily, swallowing hard.

"Just now you asked me whether some Constantinople Party MPs could be convinced to elect a leader more amenable to a coalition." d'Umberville continued. "I regret to inform you, Chancellor, that I have heard similar rumblings from our own party room."

"I see..." Sir Thierry answered. It was like a kick to the guts when he was already reeling on the ground. "Somebody is already counting numbers then?"

"Not that I am aware of, Chancellor." d'Umberville said. "But some are making it known that if somebody were to challenge..."

"Somebody specific?" Sir Thierry demanded urgently.

"One would be speculating, but..." d'Umberville began, as if reluctant.

"Comnenus. It's Comnenus, isn't it?" Sir Thierry pressed, referring to his Deputy Chancellor.

"You can understand how distressing this is for me, Thierry..." François d'Umberville lied again. "After all, I always supported Sir Isaac in the past... but you were aligned together in a common cause then."

"When we challenged Monsieur, yes." Sir Thierry nodded.

"I hope you don't doubt my absolute loyalty, Thierry, but I offer my resignation as National Chairman if you would prefer somebody else help you nip this in the bud." d'Umberville offered.

"No, no François!" Sir Thierry protested, reaching out and placing his hand on top of the other man's in a rare display of affection. "I do not doubt your loyalty for a moment!"

"Oh, thank you, your confidence flatters me." d'Umberville said with convincing false gratitude.

"So, some backbenchers are looking to Sir Isaac to challenge if I continue to spurn the Party for National Action?" Sir Thierry got the conversation back on track, returning his hand to the arm of his own chair.

"Not just backbenchers, unfortunately." d'Umberville nodded. "However, Sir Isaac isn't preparing for a challenge yet. At least, not as far as I know..."

"He might already be working behind our backs." Sir Thierry nodded. As far as he was concerned, there was no 'might' about it.

"Some movement towards a coalition with the Party for National Action would stop him in his tracks, if he is preparing for a challenge." d'Umberville suggested.

"I ruled out a coalition with Action-Nationale..." Sir Thierry shook his head.

"But under the circumstances..." d'Umberville pressed.

"I can't be seen to be a hypocrite." Sir Thierry replied.

"Of course, Chancellor." d'Umberville agreed. "Perhaps you'd prefer to move first, against any potential challenger. Call for a spill before they have a chance to gather the numbers?"

"I... perhaps..." Sir Thierry said, clearly unenthusiastically. "Is that your advice?"

"Frankly, no." d'Umberville said. It would be an astonishingly stupid idea and d'Umberville thought the Chancellor would see right through it. "No, it would look like you felt threatened. And it would be a public display of disunity, which, in the current circumstances, would be disastrous to any attempts to form a coalition or a minority government."

"Just so." Sir Thierry agreed.

"My advice, Thierry, would be to call Nogent." d'Umberville said. He raised his hand to fend off the Chancellor's protest. "Promise him nothing. Just let him believe a coalition might be possible. I can report to any malcontents that you are making overtures. Nobody wants to change leaders, Sir Thierry. You are the most successful Chancellor in a generation if not longer. If they think you are investigating the possibility of a coalition with the Party for National Action, then they will stop considering the possibility of changing leaders to somebody who will. And then when we have found a workable solution, we can always report to the party room that Nogent was unreasonable in their demands."

"Yes... It would settle things down." Sir Thierry conceded. "Will we find a workable solution though?"

"There has never been a minority government in Pantocratoria before, I grant, but if the Emperor can be persuaded that it can be made to work..." d'Umberville said. "I doubt it could work for very long, but it wouldn't have to, necessarily. Just long enough for us to get ready for a fresh election, one we will fight and win on stability."

"Let's see whether the Socialists stick with Folquet or move on to somebody vaguely electable, but yes, broadly that's the outcome I want, François. We have the most seats. The Government should continue, we'll just be cautious with our legislation until we can go to a fresh election." Sir Thierry agreed, buoyed that d'Umberville agreed with his own optimistic assessment. "Well, let's keep the hounds at bay, then. I'll call Nogent..."

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Postby Pantocratoria » Sat Jan 13, 2018 1:04 pm

del Moray Family Home
Phociople, Greater New Rome

“Oh, we have a Christmas card from that feckless half-wit, Maurits Viljoen!” Marie-Claire del Moray called to her husband in the next room as she looked the card over. She was engaged in packing down Christmas cards and deciding which to keep in a box and which to throw out. Regretfully, she put Viljoen’s card in the “keeper” box out of respect for the man’s office more than the man.

“And he got one from us too.” the Imperial Chancellor called back from the next room, where he was reclining on couch with a paperback book. “Or at least, I assume he did..." The Principal Private Secretary managed such things for the Chancellor. He would check with her later. Or not.

His rest and relaxation was disturbed by his PeacockPhone ringing and vibrating on the coffee table nearby. The Chancellor set his book down after putting a bookmark in it, and looked at his phone. He was quite surprised to see the name “Isabelle Folquet (personal)” on the screen. He was equally surprised that he evidently had her personal number in his phone contacts as he was that she was calling. He slid the widget to the answer position and held the phone against his ear.

“Hello?” he said in a questioning tone.

“Chancellor, it’s Isabelle Folquet here..." said a female voice on the other side of the phone.

“Madame Folquet, what an unexpected surprise.” Sir Thierry replied, genuinely.

“I took the liberty of calling you directly. My staff got me your direct number.” Folquet began.

“Evidently, so did mine, because this number shows up in my contact list.” Sir Thierry replied.

“I read in the papers that you are getting closer to a coalition agreement with Nogent.” Folquet said.

“I read in papers that Sébastien Jambart and Phillipe Martin are both calling for a leadership spill when we resume in February.” del Moray retorted.

“That’s..." Folquet started and bit her tongue. “I wasn’t attacking you.”

“Refreshing.” Sir Thierry allowed.

“I called to beg you not to do it.” Folquet continued. Her voice sounded strained - she had spent the better part of the last decade engaged in political combat with this man, and he had decisively beaten her. She had sturdied herself for the call with two shots of vodka after half an hour spent working herself up to it. “Please. The Party for National Action goes too far. Bringing them into Government..."

“Madame Folquet, Isabelle, please. The talking points are for other people.” Sir Thierry told her, with some exasperation. “I’m sure you know how I feel about it.”

“I hope I do.” Folquet agreed.

“I haven’t a choice..." del Moray told himself as much as he told the soon-to-be-ex-Opposition Leader.

“You do.” Folquet told him. Her stomach did backflips as she talked. “That’s why I’m calling you. Nogent isn’t your only option. You can talk with me.”

There was a long silence.

“A coalition with the Socialists?” Sir Thierry eventually asked, dumbstruck.

“Maybe we can put something together our party rooms will accept, to keep that fascist out of cabinet.” Folquet offered.

“Maybe.” Sir Thierry said thoughtfully. There was a pause. “Isabelle, and I don’t say this to be uncharitable, but... are you still able to negotiate for your party? I mean, your leadership isn’t as, well, solid, as it might be.”

“The way I see it, negotiating a coalition with you would be the only way I would remain as leader.” Folquet said, frankly. “That’s not why I am doing it, of course.”

“Of course.” Sir Thierry replied dubiously.

“No, really, it’s not!” Folquet insisted, her voice suddenly firm and even a little angry sounding. “My husband was murdered by thugs the likes of which Nogent wants to bring back.”

Sir Thierry swallowed. The idea that Folquet’s late husband had been murdered by agents of the state was a biographic detail about which he had always been dismissive but the emotion in Folquet’s voice told him that she believed every word she was saying. He resolved to look-up the late Dr Michél Folquet’s file when he was back in the office.

“Pantocratoria toyed with fascism then, but Nogent will do more than toy with it. And too many of your MPs would be happy to let him.” Folquet continued.

“Well I am not. You know that.” Sir Thierry interjected.

“I believe you, Sir Thierry.” Folquet told him.

“I’m not sure you sound convinced, but nevermind.” Sir Thierry replied. “We should meet. I’d suggest Penthièvre, since there are no journalists allowed, but word would likely get out as quite a few of my MPs are members there…”

“Some place out of the city would be better.” Folquet agreed.

“I have a beach house in Thyrantion.” Sir Thierry suggested. “We don’t normally open it up over the winter, of course, but even though it’s too cold to swim, the view is still quite good. And with no sunbathing noblewomen clad in beachwear about at this time of year, there are no paparazzi either.”

“The day after tomorrow?” Folquet suggested.

“Yes.” Sir Thierry answered. “I’ll send you the address.”

“Can you text it to me?” Folquet asked.

“I think this thing can send you a map thingy...” Sir Thierry answered.

“Great. I’ll see you there then.” Folquet told him.


“Goodbye.” Folquet hung up the phone and was overcome by a strange combination of dread and relief.

Sir Thierry set down the phone, a pensive look on his face.

“Who was that, dear?” asked Marie-Claire from the next room.

“You’ll never guess.” Sir Thierry replied truthfully. “Oh, darling, our vacation plans have changed a little... we’ll go to Thyrantion tomorrow.”

“Thyrantion? But it’s Winter!” Marie-Claire protested as she came into the room.

“Yes, I’ve arranged a rendez-vous with another woman there…” Sir Thierry told her cryptically. She was unimpressed.

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