NATION

PASSWORD

Cornellian VIP Intrigue (Cornellia Only)

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

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New Edom
Postmaster of the Fleet
 
Posts: 22916
Founded: Mar 14, 2011
Democratic Socialists

Postby New Edom » Sat Feb 11, 2017 6:56 pm

Militia with riot shields were beginning to issue from vans farther down the street from the main convergence of the protest. The crowds were shouting defiance at them. A loudspeaker could be heard. “PLEASE DISPERSE IN AN ORDER MANNER! YOU HAVE ONE MINUTE TO BEGIN TO DISPERSE! THIS IS BY THE ORDER OF THE ETHNARCH OF FINEBERG UNDER TERMS OF MARTIAL LAW! ALL PERSONS WHO ARE NOT LAW ENFORCEMENT PERSONNEL ARE TO DISPERSE IMMEDIATELY!”

General Nicanor's Office
Ministry of Defense
Fineberg, New Edom


Peter Zebedee rose from his desk, bowing, as a tall, dark haired man with a hooked nose, high cheek bones and hooded eyes wearing parade dress entered the office. "General Augrim!" he exclaimed, bowing. "the General expects you and you are to go straight in."

"Is General Unwerth here, General Vrinn, Admiral Galt?" asked Augrim in his slow Haranese manner.

"No, Excellency, none of them." said Zebedee.

He nodded and knocked on the door.

"Who?" asked the voice of General Adam Nicanor.

"Augrim," replied the same.

Augrim came in and found Nicanor squinting over a map of the city. "Ah, my dear fellow, do come in. Drink?”

“A little tea, thank you,” said Augrim, nodding a bow which Nicanor responded to. They each took tea and honey and sat down.

“Augrim, we have been friends some time, and have served our country well,” said Nicanor. “So I apologize for coming to the point so abruptly. But times are difficult and needs must” The older heavier man, his face seamed and cracked like old rock, peered at the other. “We must consider the situation. The Chamber has called for the Monarchs to justify our situation in Latium, which could draw us into a war with our northern neighbors, endanger our trade…and yet we know, both of us, that the Monarchs cannot appear so. And even if the Chamber accepts Sharra’s compromise, it is only a matter of time before it is made clear that neither Monarch is fit for service. And that Princess Jocasta, next in line after the young Heir, is but a child.”

Augrim sighed. “All this is so, my dear Adam, but you are about I am sure to suggest something unsavoury.”

“Unsavoury nonsense,” growled Nicanor. “I love the King. He is a good man. But we must face facts. We must control the situation, tell the people the truth, and declare a temporary state of emergency until the Chamber itself declares their support for a President of the Council.”

Augrim looked at him keenly. “And that would place its appointment in their hands. But the rest of the military forces would not wear it, Adam. They will expect that we should be loyal first to the Monarchs. The Guards would stand in our way.”

“No,” said Nicanor insistently. “What will happen is this: the Monarchs will be presented as incapacitated. The truth will out: Lalery made an agreement with Michael before we had a chance to properly review the situation while the King was ill and the Queen was ill. We will also secure the capital and we will make sure that we control the situation at every level—communications, transport, security. Then we declare a state of emergency and get the Deputies to agree to martial law.”

General Augrim frowned. “There is much danger in this. What if the Deputies do not back us?”

General NIcanor shook his head. “What if a few hundred people with nothing but a mob at their backs do not back us? We will be presenting them with a compromise that they win big on. This is it, my friend, the dream at last. Not as Carmel and Finnhald would have had it but still. If Pahath-Moab could do it and establish order, why not we? I do not intend to remove our democracy—in fact I intend to make it more powerful. Are you with me or not?”

Augrim studied him thoughtfully. “I am with you. What would you have me do?”

Nicanor tapped the map. “Power and communications, transport and security. You will use your most loyal people. 2nd MPs, 3rd Grenadiers, get them to work and into place. The Ethnarch called for help anyway. He will, I assure you, be with us along with Governor Tannach. I will take care of Unwerth, Vrinn, Galt and the other ministers. This is God’s will, my friend.”

Augrim nodded slowly. “Not only to restore order, but to establish it. No longer at the whim of the Obeds, but guiding them. However the King and Queen and others must not be harmed, merely reduced in role.”

Nicanor nodded back. “We think as one in this. There is much to be done. And...if circumstances change...we must be prepared to make it clear that this si only providing security for the capital and home province. Come with me."

He unlocked a door in his office that led down a hall, and there was a secured briefing room beyond it, where several others--Governor Tannach of Bara, the Ethnarch of Fineberg, the Deputy Minister of Police Peter Misabel and three of Nicanor's personal staff waited. Augrim looked at them sharply. "What about Ashdod?" he said, returning their bows curtly.

"General Ashdod will fall into line but it must be a sure thing. He is only brave from his office," said Misabel with a faint smile. "Our Minister of Police will need hand holding but we will also need his organization. I have reliable people who are in his office who can help us."

General Augrim nodded. Nicanor crossed himself. "Gentlemen, let us begin." The crowded around a set of plans that Nicanor was drawing up on a white board...
"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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EsToVnIa
Senator
 
Posts: 4779
Founded: Jun 16, 2011
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby EsToVnIa » Sat Feb 11, 2017 11:17 pm

This is just c/p from my thread, but it pertains to the thread's overall theme and I wanted a tag so...

Baanaðaboorg
27 Južnokorejski St
Krisuvik, Auspicious Realms of the Crown of St. Helena
19 December, 2016



“Your Worship,” the servant’s voice called out after knocking on the door. The older man who was with the young girl gave her a stern look. “Right…” the younger girl mumbled. “Ana, ma’am, it’s nearly noon.”

Without warning, the older gentleman opened the door and entered the room. The gentleman, Ulf Walhgren, was Anastasia’s personal secretary and had known the twenty-five-year-old woman since the day she was born. He proceeded to flail open the curtains, letting in the sunlight from a rare sunny winter day enter the messing bedroom. The sunlight from the windows cast directly onto the bed, causing the figure in it to stir.

“Ana, you have a meeting with Vicar Laksglieva in two-and-a-half hours. It would be best if you got up and prepared,” Walhgren said.

She groaned and rolled on her side. “Yes, yes. Thank you, Ulf.” She waved her hand dismissively at them and got up in bed.

Her head was killing her on account of the half bottle of Nekulturnyan peach flavoured vodka she drank last night at the Christmas party. She stood up and nearly lost her balance. Shit, I’m not still drunk, am I? She thought to herself as she regained her balance. No, my head wouldn’t be killing me if I was still drunk. Walking over to her closet, she put on a plain, rose coloured, cotton bra. The harder part was picking out a decent enough outfit that would, as both her mother and Ulf put it, “reflect the sacredness of the position and the ideals that you represent.” This meant nothing flashy, revealing, and was modest, or as Ana put it, nothing with personality. Ultimately, she settled on a light blue, frilled dress with a cream half sweater.

How her hair was done was another contentious issue. Again, it had to be in a style that was “acceptable and representative for both a Hierophant of the Church and a Sovereign of the nation.” If she hadn’t drunk so much the previous night and had woken up at a decent time, then perhaps she could have had enough time for her stylist to do her hair. Thanks to the lack of time, she settled to do her deep brown hair in a messy bun. Jewellery was out of the question since it represented wealth and the Hierophant was supposedly a position of modesty.

When the hour came, Ana hurriedly walked down to the Tea Room. Ulf, who was patiently waiting for his liege to arrive, opened the oak door to the tea room when he heard the frantic clicking of Ana’s shoes on the cherry wood flooring.

“You’re ten minutes late. Vicar Laksglieva has been patiently waiting for you to be ready.” He announced as she entered the room.

“Not now, Ulf” Ana retorted, and brushed right past him.

The Tea Room was a modest-sized room that had been constructed by Ana’s great-great grandfather, Emperor Andraj-Maksimilian II. Four stained glass windows depicting the now-mythical tale of the Varangian Conquest of Estovnia lined the wall farthest from the wall. The mid-afternoon sun lit up the room in a brilliant display of blues, reds, yellows, and greens as it entered through the windows. The furniture contained two chairs and couch, aligned in a way where the couch faced the windows, with both chairs facing perpendicularly to the couch. The furniture itself was rather plain, eggshell white fabric with black legs and black satin throw pillows. Like usual when she had an appointment with somebody, Ana sat down on the right cushion of the couch. Once she was situated, she pushed a button on the coffee table in front of the couch to let Ulf know that he could now go retrieve the vicar.

A few seconds after Ana had pushed the button, the door opened and the elderly figure of Vicar Katja Laksgrieva entered. The vicar, who Ana had always assumed was in her late seventies or early eighties was dressed in the religious habit not too dissimilar from a Fabrian Catholic nun. She wore a deep maroon tunic that hung loosely from her slender figure. Embroidered golden flames, with gold flake actually being embedded in the fabric itself, lined the bottom third portion of the garment and shimmered as she walked. On top of her head, she wore a black cornette typical of the Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament. The vicar, holding a position similar to that of Fabrian Catholic cardinal, had been the personal cleric for the Royal Family since Ana’s birth, ensuring that the to-be empress would be well-versed in Natalian theology when the eventual day of her being elected as Hierophant arrived.

“Your Worship,” the vicar said to Ana, genuflecting as she did.

Ana smiled in return. Organised religion creeped her out, more so being the head of such an institution. She was religious, though, or at least she did believe in the philosophical idea that there was a higher power than herself. Whether or not this was the Christian God is up for debate. Her philosophy with such was people should worship whoever or whatever they chose to, which was reflected when she issued the Treatise of Vijev in 2015 that legalised the worship of non-Natalian faiths.

“You wanted to speak with me, your worship?” Laksgrieva’s tone was almost motherly when speaking to Ana.

“Yes, your grace, but in my capacity as empress,” Ana replied. Dealing with the Conventry was one of the select few times where she followed formalities. “I heard that your order was closing down ten schools in Helgafell and Follur, is that right?”

“Yes, why do you ask, your worship?”

“Well, how much do you need so you can keep the schools open for at least another year?” She asked, resting her hands in her lap.

“Ana…” Laksgrieva’s voice trembled slightly. “One of them is a negro only school, while the others are in poor farming villages, it’s not trivial that they remain open, dear.”

Ana rolled her eyes. “One of them could be a school for purple people as far as I care, ma’am, an education is still an education. How much do you need to keep them open and to buy the coloured school new textbooks and everything because I can’t imagine they’re using up-to-date materials.”

“I… can’t say,” the vicar stammered, “At least ₭2,1 million”

“Okay…” Ana said, getting out a cheque book. Picking up a pen, she wrote out the cheque and held it out to Laksgrieva. “And done.”

Laksgrieva took the cheque and held it out in front of her as if she didn’t believe it was real. “You’re just like your father, you know.”

“It’s Christmas and it’s the right thing to do, nothing more than that.” Ana replied, flashing a smile.
Last edited by EsToVnIa on Sat Feb 11, 2017 11:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Most Heavenly State/Khamgiin Tengerleg Uls

Weeaboo Gassing Land wrote:Also, rev up the gas chambers.

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12:02:02 AM <Tarsas> premislyd is my spirit animal tbh

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Rodarion
Ambassador
 
Posts: 1246
Founded: Dec 28, 2009
Ex-Nation

Postby Rodarion » Mon Feb 13, 2017 8:16 pm

Pope Pius XIV Room, Apostolic Palace
Vatican, Fabria
14 February 2017 A.D


The late winter sun was just rising above the Colline di Benedizione, its soft orange rays spraying across the cityscape of Fabria, its warming rays piercing through the morning mist, revealing the dome of Saint Peter’s to all that would bear witness to its majesty. Within the sprawling district that constituted the Vatican, was the Pope Pius XIV Room, rather a colossal building in itself. A circular building with a glass dome roof, its metal trusses holding up chandeliers, it was an icon of the late 19th century industrial architecture. Built by Pope Pius XIV to house the Ecclesiastical Continuing Committee, the premier political body of the Magisterium, though he did not name it.

Beneath the glass dome was a circular table, with a golden box at the top end, to signify the boundaries of the spot dedicated to whoever sat on the Throne of Saint Peter and sitting in the colossal swivel chair was of course Pope Julius IV.

Wearing his plain white cassock, he was surrounded by Cardinals and appointed laymen, who were tasked to represent the people and industries of the Ecclesiastical nation. On one side of him was the Secretary of State, Cardinal Marco Furio Camillo and on the other side, the Prefect for the Holy Office, Cardinal Gaio Terenzio Gaudenzi, this triumvirate represented the most powerful men in the country and indeed the Universal Catholic Church.

The men assembled were also among the wealthiest in the country, naturally, including many Cardinals. The wealthiest man in the Ecclesiastical Federation was the Senior Economic Affairs Secretary, Adriano Tito Candreva, he was also the patriarch of the Candreva family, a centuries old family of immense wealth and influence. The Candrevas were once the merchant dukes of Tavullia, producing two Popes and many Cardinals, today they held businesses in various industries, including property, manufacturing and mining. The second wealthiest man around the table was Cardinal Pietro Turelli, the son of a shipbuilding magnate, though of course, Papal law permitted him to maintain business interests and he did. He did so successfully, very successfully.

The Church of the modern age is held up by wealth, the Church ruling a state greatly helped, enabling it to fund social services across Cornellia and naturally, buy influence, but also sell it. Many believe the Church to be the wealthiest organisation in human history, its vast collections of art works, sculptures, manuscripts, gold bars and financial assets only helped push that assertion forward – and the Church was never good at denying its wealth.

Pope Julius IV had emerged as the loudest voice advocating care for the poor and vulnerable, in short, he was a populist. He wanted the Church to be run by poor men, for poor men, but sadly that was impossible when most Cardinals held more wealth than most comfortable families in the country, but that did not stop them from advocating such sensibilities.

The Pope was a contradiction, much like religion anyway, he was frugal, humble and visibly plain. He emptied the Pontifical Apartment of its decorations and decadent furniture. The desk in his personal office, before becoming Pope was estimated to be worth $5.4 million, it now sat in the atrium of Saint Peter’s Basilica for the front-of-house officer. Yet his closest friends and allies in the cloth were among the wealthiest – sometimes it pays to be the poor man’s Pope.

Pope Julius IV’s issue with decadence, selfishness and greed was never really aimed at his fellow princes of the Church, it was aimed at the world’s monarchies and their nobles below them. In many ways he was a republican, he found the moral bankruptcy of Catholic and indeed Christian monarchies in general disgusting. Rumours of incest, bastard children, adultery, self-idolisation and false presentations of piety were enough in aggregate for him to despise them…

The room was silent, all 30 members of the committee sat, looking at his Holiness or their papers, or their hands. The Holy Father himself sat in silence, slowly looking at each one slowly, one by one for a few seconds at a time. Until he reached Cardinal Giovanni-Paolo Arminio, the Prefect for the Office of Regal Engagement, an office which was in fact the main source for intelligence and rumours about the various royal families of Christendom.

Arminio sat utterly shitting himself, for two weeks running he had failed to produce for his Holiness anything substantive about the Vannois, Latin or any monarchical family.

“We have to do better” the Pope finally spoke softly, leaning into his microphone. The sudden break in the silence jumped several of the priests standing idle along the sides of the room.

“We have to do fucking better at this!” the Pope roared, everyone but the two either side of him jumped at his outburst.

Taking a deep breath, the Pope sat up straight, pulling away from the microphone.

“I hate to curse” he said, “I hate to curse especially on the grounds where Saint Peter himself and Saint Paul were martyred, but this constant failure, is making me exceptionally furious” he explained, staring down onto the tiled mural in the middle of the circular table. The mural was that of the Papal coat of arms.

“When I assumed the throne of Saint Peter and threw out his Holiness Pope John’s liberal…” he uttered the last word with a poisonous slow pace.

“Liberal allies and put you all in their place, it was because I had complete faith in all of you, to make our dreams a reality. We all know the dream, we all seek the same thing. A truly Universal Church, a Church that once again has the ear of every king and queen of Christendom. A Church that if it declares a fact, it is accepted as truth by every king and queen and every single fucking one of their subjects.

“A Church that has the power and the means to enforce God’s righteous expectations of man, has the power and means to enforce the virtues and principles that define us as the lambs of Christ. A Church that rules the world, not through armies and war, but through sheer devotion by every member of our faith. Especially the fucking monarchs” the Pope roared once again. Cardinal Camilo clearly deafened by the Pope’s outburst slowly moved his body, to sit at an angle away from the Pope, his creaking chair breaking the silence after the shockwave of the Pope.

“Here we are, still waiting for confirmed evidence of gross behaviour and diabolic sinfulness and wickedness by the morally corrupt, why is that Cardinal Arminio?” he finally stabbed the Cardinal with a death stare like a sharpened dagger.

“Well.. er… um.. I suspect.. that it is due to limited resources and manpower your Holiness” Arminio stuttered, looking sheepishly around the room to find someone who would come to his aid.

“A lack of resources? Really?” the Pope shot back, not lifting his stare.

“It’s difficult to gain access to courts, courtly intrigue is the realm of the elite, Holy Father” Arminio continued.

“Are we not present in courts? Do monarchs not seek confession? Where are their priests?” the Pope enquired, raising his hands.

“Well, there’s the issue of Priests not being permitted to divulge the confessions of their congregation” Arminio shot back, though he immediately regretted.

“You think it best to remind me of that? You think it best to remind me of the seal of the confessional?” the Pope spat.

“All due respect your Holiness, but my worry is that priests in regal courts, would refuse on the basis of the seal of the confessional, making my offices’ work more difficult” Arminio dodged it, enough to have Cardinal Gaudenzi raise his eyebrows in surprise. The Pope moved slightly in his chair, the coward made a good point, even if it was to save himself.

“You are correct Cardinal Arminio, but is your responsibility to remind them that they are in service to Holy Mother Church and the Holy Mother Church needs all the information it can, if it is to save Christendom from the damnation of the high born” the Pope explained.

“Of course Holy Father” Arminio nodded.

“Does anyone have any suggestions?” the Pope drew out the sentence.

“Securing information from the local diocese is not enough, gossip at the low born level is never enough, especially when our plans require solid evidence, Cardinal Arminio is correct, but of course even those tight lipped priests of the Church know that the Magisterium’s authority, and yours Holy Father, is absolute.

“If Holy Mother Church demands that they break the seal of confessional, confidentially, in promise of absolution for doing so, they should. If they refuse, then we must make perfectly clear our disappointment” Cardinal Aulo Atilio Calatino spoke up. Calatino was the Prefect for the Sacred Office of Dicoese Communication, in short, he was the man charged with maintaining lines of communication directly between the Vatican and every diocese across the Catholic world. He was Arminio’s go to man, as well as the Pope’s go-between with the lowly priest in the remotest part of the world.

“How do that Cardinal Calatino?” Cardinal Camilo enquired, looking directly across the table from his spot.

“Removal, transfer to another diocese, say a backwater or a rotten sinkhole, afterall it is a great privalege to hear the confession of king, queen or emperor” Calatino replied.

“Every priests’ first loyalty is to Holy Mother Church, we need all to be reminded of this” Cardinal Roberto Abati interjected. The obese slob didn’t hold a specific position within the Magisterium, rather the was one of many Cardinals of wealth and influence that held the same views of the Pope and were of a use to him.

“We must remind every son and daughter of the Church that our goal is simple. We must remind them that our goal is to remind these monarchs and their filthy families that God granted them the right to rule and that they should show some gratitude. Do so by being pious and subservient to his will, they are not above his holy judgement and they are certainly not above the standards he was for us.

“Need I remind you what a horror Emperor Jason was, need I remind you what horrific tales we hear about Vannois and Tericio, of course these are true. Monarchs are destitute, destitute of the soul, they are blinded by oppulence and greed, blinded to the reality that they are not sitting on God’s right hand.

“All are equal in the Lord’s eyes. I am no better than a farmer, or an investment banker, nor they than me. We are all equal in our sins and all equal in our pursuit of salvation. Our goal is to tear these bestial criminals down back to the even level the Lord moulded us into and by doing that find ourselves, as the Universal Church as the sole voice of reason, truth and faith in this world. A world where it is the Church that guides kings, queens and monarchs and their collection of equally reprehensible yesmen. This is what we seek, and every servant of Holy Mother Church should be fucking reminded of it!” the Pope slammed his clenched fist onto the table.

“I will produce a document, Holy Father, explaining that. It shall be sent to every Catholic Diocese across all four corners of the world” Cardinal Calatino smiled, bowing his head to the Holy Father.

“And you... Cardinal Arminio. I do not care how much you must expense with, I do not care how low you must go in terms of the priesthood, I want information and I want solid evidence of wickedness in those families, do you understand me?” Julius stared down the poor man once again.

“Yes Holy Father, may I request the assistance of the Holy Inquisition, their assets would do great favour” he asked, confidently... though it was a mask for even the village idiot to see.

“Yes of course you may” Cardinal Romolo Marco Vipsanio replied. Vipsanio was the Secretary for Ecclesiastical Security – meaning he was the second most powerful man in the room, technically speaking. He headed the Ecclesiastical Federation’s security apparatus, the Civil Sercurity Service, the Sanfedisti and the Holy Inquisition – he was the spy master.

“Thank you Cardinal Vipsanio” Arminio smiled.

“Very well, we shall meet one week from today. And I expect results” the Pope bellowed, waving his hand to dismiss his congregation.

The Magisterium was now on the hunt.
"Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori"

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New Edom
Postmaster of the Fleet
 
Posts: 22916
Founded: Mar 14, 2011
Democratic Socialists

Postby New Edom » Sat Feb 25, 2017 9:48 pm

The Idles of the King

Prince Enoch Tubal-Cain, the Royal Master of Offices, had come to hate dealing with doctors. It seemed like half the staff at Betharan Palace were medical staff now. Staff to deal with the Queen's mental health issues, the infant Prince Josias, the Queen's physical health issues necessary to keep her spirits up and fight her depression.

Then there was the King; his recent stroke had all but crippled him but Doctor Melchizedek had promised a swifter recovery due to the King’s age.

Melchizdek was also a man Enoch despised even as he recognized his effectiveness as the Royal Physician, virtually the director of a small hospital or a large clinic depending on your point of view. As he sat with Enoch, a lean man with a short neat dark beard wearing dark robes and leaning back in his chair in a manner too familiar and comfortable for Enoch’s liking, he explained the situation afresh. “The King’s stroke as I explained earlier sir is due to hypertension and the smoking and drinking have not helped. His relative youth however makes his recovery easier, as do his abstemious dining habits and frequent exercise.”

“So recovery is possible then?” Prince Enoch demanded. He was in light colours in contrast to the doctor-priest's crow black; a light blue blazer with a pale green dress shirt and a simple red tie, razor sharp trousers and tan polished shoes.

“Absolutely sir, praise God, we have many ways to treat such things thanks to the wisdom we have gathered,” said Melchizek with a pleased manner that irked Enoch. “What we’re going to propose are working with the following methodologies: constraint induced movement therapy, massage therapy and acupuncture. Intravenous care is now over.”

“He has trouble remembering things, sometimes he can barely talk or move,” Enoch said coldly, leaning forward. “You said you could cure him. He needs to run the country.”

“Well surely, the Queen, the H…I mean Princess Jocasta…” said Melchizedek with a puzzled air. “The family can take on some of the burdens.”

“It’s possible, we’re working with that, but his recovery is a must, and on your head be it if he fails,” Enoch said. “Now, doctor: explain what these treatments will entail.”

“To start with, the King must quit smoking, must only have one glass of red wine per day, and must agree to support the regimens we recommend or I cannot answer for it,” said Melchizedek, steepling his fingers.

“These things we can sign off on, though the smoking will be very hard,” said Prince Enoch, making notes on a pad. “What exactly is this movement therapy thing…”

“Constraint induced movement therapy essentially gently but firmly forces the body to obey impulses of the brain. You see the brain is a delicate organ, sir, and so in a sense it’s been given a restart impulse, rather like a computer, and we need to rebuild the program. The King’s body must be reminded that it knows how to move his upper body in harmony with his thoughts. In a sense it has returned to infancy in part. But he is a strong man and will remember. What we are looking at is an intensive 2-week therapy program…let’s say ten to twelve sessions…to increase the use of the more affected limbs. Each therapy session lasts 3 hours with a trained therapist and follows the protocols as developed at a clinic in Adiron.” Melchizedek explained.

“And you think this will work?” demanded Enoch.

“I think it is the most likely outcome,” Melchizedek said with his infuriating smug smile. “The King will have to gently move into it. Unfortunately his appearance before the Council…” he coughed. “Most unfortunate. A setback. But he will be able to read…nothing too emotionally or intellectually strenuous at first mind…walk, eat and bathe on his own. After that practice makes perfect eh? I’m not worried about the King’s chances at all.”

“Of course you’re not,” growled Prince Enoch. “It’s not happening to you. You don’t bear the weight of the nation’s government. But this had better work, or you’ll find yourself PMO for a penal battalion.”

Melchizedek’s smile vanished. “The Dowager Queen guaranteed me a lifetime position…”

“Yes. Lifetime is a varied term,” said Prince Enoch. “I want regular reports. To me. Not my deputies, not my secretary, not other members of the Council. Me.”




Prince Enoch checked in on the King. He was lying with his eyes closed, his long body, lean and sinking a bit now with inactivity, grey haired here and there around the pectoral and temple hair, being bathed with sponges, gently, by two of his nurses. This sight grieved him yet he found himself unable to look away. The nurses wore paper smocks to minimize the contact of their skin with the Presence. Other than clergy and serving officers or long standing court officials, he made sure anyone he did not know was naked in the Palace to prevent spies.

He felt his throat tighten with sorrow for his old friend. One of the nurses, a round faced young woman from Teman Province, looked up and was a bit startled to see him and not just a guard. “Oh, Your Excellency…”

“Keep going on with what you’re doing,” said Prince Enoch gruffly. “he needs you more than I.”

With that he departed and went to meet with the Minister of Police, General John Ashdod, a balding man with a moustache wearing his usual three piece pale grey suit. They sat in a cream and salmon painted sitting room in the palace and smoked. Enoch couldn’t help but think of the King’s deprivations.

“Johnny,” he said, “I need to know something. Is your radar up at all about any activities among the Ministers or other political persons, or senior officers?”

Ashdod hesitated and drew on his cigarillo before responding. “Well…nothing concrete, I’m afraid. Why do you ask?”

“Every time we have had leaders who were not visibly able to lead we’ve had a coup, that’s why” said Enoch. “Nothing concrete either. But I want to take precautions. Who do you trust most in the Ministry of Defense right now?”

“I don’t trust any of them,” said Ashdod flatly. “They’re all either ex Free Congress or moderates of some kind. Vrinn would sell her own soul for advancement, Nicanor is conservative ETC, Augrim Haranese ETC, Galt a Pahath-Moab moderate, Covenant is a soulless bureaucrat.”

Enoch nodded slowly. “But no active reason to suspect any of them.”

“No,” said Ashdod. “And I can tell you that they’ve been acting in a routine manner thus far.”

Enoch drew on his own cigarillo and blew smoke up at the ceiling as he leaned his head back. “He’s got to get better, Johnny. He simply must. We must have time for that. Now look here,” he said, “You have to think of some way if there was a coup to delay it.”

“I do have one thought” said Ashdod. “Move the King to Padan-Aran. We can get a hospital plane for intensive care patients to avoid damaging him. Do it tonight. Then you’ll have him in the heart of Monarchist country. And really…”

“The best hospitals are here” said Enoch. “Melchizedek is against it.”

Ashdod said, “You can move medical staff and equipment as needs be. You asked my recommendation, I’m telling you. All this could be nothing, but then in a few days the Queen, Lalery, Princess Jocasta, they’re back. I am also going to recommend this: get Hesperinus and Romain back here as soon as possible. The two best and most loyal Monarchist generals should be here.”

Prince Enoch sighed. “No argument here. But Hesperinus is easier to replace in the field than Romain. Nothing much going on there but munching up the Arvo and holding the line. Romain is…harder.”

“At least Hesperinus—and Barak then. Bring him home.” Ashdod said intently.

Enoch nodded. “I cannot simply order the Minister of Defense. I am only the Master of Offices.”

“Get old Beroth to do it then. Unwerth will back this move--with the President of the Council and the Chief of the General Military Staff on your side, even if Nicanor hates he idea he can hardly contest it,” urged Ashdod. “Better safe than sorry eh?”

Prince Enoch blew out smoke and stubbed out his cigarillo. “You’re right, Johnny, I’ll be sure to get onto that. I’ll call up the old boy and drop in on him tonight.”

“Good. And I’ll keep my ear to the ground. Er…club tonight?” suggested Ashdod.

“No,” said Enoch. “I’m going to drop in on Jess after Beroth. I need to take my mind off things. Falk will keep things going here till I return.”

If not for his pretty Adiran mistress, he thought he’d go insane. He also hated leaving the palace. He knew he was right. At such times…it paid to be extra cautious. They all hoped that the constitutional government would prevent another coup. But as he got into his car and instructed his driver that they were heading for the Palace of Justice, he felt something sinister lurked in the quiet rain wet streets and the shadows of the alleys between the buildings of the downtown sector. How could he be sure to count on the soldiers at their checkpoints, the citizens scurrying to and fro from buses to streets? What lurked in those shops and the fine townhouses in the district surrounding the capitol?

He had left Colonel Count Falk, the Royal Guard commander, initiating a security operations drill when he left. If anyone did try anything they'd find the Royal Cavalry Guards, Halberdier Guards and Royal Protection Service on full alert ready for another terrorist assault or angry mob, and also ready to prepare a hostile evacuation if need be. The helicopter squadron detached to the Guards' service would be alerted. They were well picked men, veterans of the Light Division.

Did he have reason to distrust Nicanor and Augrim? What about the others? Geta, Balaam? The Chamber of Deputies?

At the President of the Council's office, Count Beroth was still up and was watching a television program which was a game show.

"These fellows are so clever," he said. "They can identify a tune just by hearing a few notes! Just a few notes!"

"Riveting sir," said Prince Enoch with a smile. He put down a folder in front of the old man.

"What's this? Not my birthday is it?" said Beroth.

"No, sir. This is your instructions for General Hesperinus and General Barak to return to New Edom to receive their honours and take up command of the Army Reserve and the First Army Corps respectively," explained Enoch.

"Shouldn't Nicanor be putting this in front of me?" asked Beroth.

"It's been in the works, but it has not been initiated yet. The King wants it though," he said. Enoch produced a letter which was signed, albeit scratchily, by the King. Enoch had several of these which were blank. He was running out and could not bring himself to forge more.

Beroth turned off the television program and swiveled his chair in his desk to read the note. His manner was grave, and dignity came over him like a cloak of coronation. He said solemnly, "The word of the King seals the law." He signed the order. "General Hesperinus and General Barak deserve our highest honours. However I will recommend to His Majesty that following this Hesperinus return to Ceti. I believe his veteran presence there helps keep he peace."

Enoch suspected for now this was the best he could get. He would have to push the idea of Hesperinus taking command of the Reserve Army to others in the government. This had been a swift preemptive emergency measure. He inclined his head. "The King is grateful for your devoted service, Count Beroth. I should not take up more of your time."

"Oh, come, you should watch this game show with me!" said Beroth cheerfully.

"Sir..." Enoch gestured with the folder. "I must convey to the King your dutiful carrying out of his ordes and...I promised my evening to someone."

Beroth smiled suddenly. "Pretty, eh?"

Enoch found himself smiling back. "Yes sir, very"

Beroth sighed. "Ah, to be young again! These days my only girlies are nurses. Well good evening to you then, Prince."

Enoch left him in the glow of applause and musical snatches and headed for the elevator. He breathed a sigh of relief. That was one thing done. And later unlike the last couple of times when he fell asleep while Jess was still freshening up for bed, he found himself vigorously going at her like a champion, rewarded by grateful gasps. Things were either on or nipped in the bud, but it was like moving his frigate into action stations--he was committed to a course and felt much better.
"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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New Othman
Diplomat
 
Posts: 625
Founded: Jan 11, 2005
Left-Leaning College State

The Premier's Gambit

Postby New Othman » Fri Mar 10, 2017 11:02 pm

10 March, 2017, Presidential Palace, New Ankara

The room was hushed as the President of the Republic entered along with the new Premier, carrying a document that both of them were prepared to sign. Something was afoot, and sure enough, the Premier spoke first, his youthful, handsome face and short, clean hair strongly indicating that he took this whole business seriously and wanted to improve his image. His wife stood next to him, holding his hand, as he cleared his throat. Foreign Minister Ertan Konca was with them as well, though silent for once (very unusual for him).

“Fellow citizens, it is with great pride and hope for the future that I wish to announce that our recent victories have resulted in a final triumph for our forces against the insurgency. The hard work of my illustrious predecessor, General Recep Borek, and his cabinet, along with this venerable President, and the brave men and women of our armed, police, and security forces, as well as the CPO peacekeeping forces, have been vital, essential, even to our resolution of the conflict.

“Secondarily, I wish to announce that we are prepared to offer peacekeeping forces to the CPO, as members, provided that they will accept such a contribution. We are also prepared to make limited financial donations as needed to the operations of the CPO. We are furthermore pleased to announce the name of our new Delegate to the CPO Peace Council, former President Nuray Erdem. We hope that his steady leadership and commitment to peace and justice will greatly enhance our role in strengthening our partnership with our neighbors and assuaging fears of our intentions toward them,” Premier Recep Adnek declared boldly, even as President Gozde Polat now took her place and both of them signed the formal offer to the CPO and the new appointment.

After the signing, Premier Adnek announced, “At this time, we are prepared to field questions from the press. Do any of you wish to make inquiries?”

With Mira standing behind him, Adnek felt more confident than ever in his destiny.
Last edited by New Othman on Sat Mar 11, 2017 11:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
"It is high time for ballots, and not bullets. For bread and butter, not tanks treading on foreign streets. For reform, for schools, for more police on the beat, instead of building up a massive war machine used only to bully our neighbors. The only armed forces that the new New Othman needs are those which defend the nation itself from aggression. We don't need the trillions that we used to spend for that." - Udan Varcar

"Radical feminism in the west is less about womens liberation (and that's fair - women in the west have been largely liberated after all), and more about authoritarian thought policing." - Hirota

"The function of our social services is to discourage sedition." - Premier Bayazid Izmirek, 2005

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New Edom
Postmaster of the Fleet
 
Posts: 22916
Founded: Mar 14, 2011
Democratic Socialists

Postby New Edom » Sat Mar 11, 2017 2:00 am

Imperiala Palace,
Ghish, Ghant


The air shook with the sound of hooves and the clash of arms.

Rosa Sharon

Rosa Sharon as usual was in private very encouraging towards Nathan—not by dabbling in his business but by being present for him. For example she would if he wanted join him in bathing and showering if it did not risk his reputation in doing so, and would tease him, help him relax, wash and massage him. Rosa enjoyed being around the emperor and found him kind, friendly and easy to talk to, and she liked him for himself. It was a pity he was a head of state—had he but been born a typical young aristo in the south he would have been unremarkable in that.

It was baffling and amusing to her that the Emperor placed so high an importance on the antiquated art of chivalrous combat, but there it was. She herself was an indifferent rider, and so she did admire the athleticism of the contests. Rosa herself took part in foot combat with staff or with a sword as she knew how to use these weapons. As an archer she was indifferent at best, knowing how to use a bow but not how to excel with one.

As she watched Nathan in bout after bout, however she had to admit what a fool she was. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to marry him or anything, but she certainly loved Nathan and wanted him to come out of this well. However he had not changed since when she first met him…she would always fear for his life and limb. It was a bittersweet feeling indeed.

The Ladies

“Oh my, what a pageant” said Princess Ava sleepily as she observed the jousting. “Are they acting or really injured?”

“It’s the real thing,” said Claudia Zecharias, leaning forward with fascination. ‘Isn’t it great Raffi?”

“It’s fab, ya,” said Rafaella Unwerth, her eyes twinkling as he watched, shifting her hips now and then with excitement. “but not as bloody as things can get up north. Those northern men? Oof, dirty as shit in a goat pen but passionate and wild….”

“You can tell your betrothed all about it,” said Claudia, irritated with her friend’s lasciviousness in public. “And you’ll have to curb that kind of talk when you get home.”

“Oh home….Christ, look at that!” she cried at Nathan fought with Prince Michael. “God, what men these are! Not like home, everyone only talking about their politics and money and strategy…”

Claudia shook her head and watched. Her own champion, her husband, was a loving and gallant man but an anachronism in the present age. She was accepting of her role, and barely knew the boy yet. He was handsome, rich enough, came from an excellent family, but as he had fought Zara Thrall she realized how little she knew him, and felt bad that if he had been killed…she would not have really missed anything but having a sure idea of where she was supposed to be every night. It made her feel bad and she promised herself some time in the chapel repenting.

“Maybe you should have planned to marry Prince Olyvar instead, Raffi,” commented Princess Ava languidly. “Would you be happier? Or perhaps King Inigo?”

“My parents won’t have it. Maybe I’ll get myself abducted…” she said.

“Don’t be stupid,” Princess Jocasta had been passing through them. They immediately all looked at her. The former Heir was dark eyed with delight. “Oh well done Michael!” she clapped fiercely and the other ladies followed suit.

“You have got one of the best of the pick in a very tasty bushel,” said Rafaella.

“Shut your stupid mouth, I said,” Jocasta said, smiling and clapping but speaking stern words in Baran. “Do you know who arranged your marriage? Me and Mama. If you do the slightest thing to disgrace it I’ll have you sent to a penal battalion. You can be a wife do a dozen penal battalion officers. Would you like that?”

Rafaella looked up at her, turning pale. “You wouldn’t…”

“Try me. You had your fun. Repent of your sins and do your duty,” Jocasta sad to her sweetly but with a cold stare. Then she went down to throw her arms around Michael as he rode by the stands and kissed him passionately on the mouth, crushing her full bosom against his armour. A lingering long look in his eyes and a caress of his sweaty face before they parted.

“I’m one of the most blessed women in the world,” Jocasta said to Ava as she sat. Ava patted her hand.

However it was Zara Thrall who carried the day, and tore Jocasta, for her heart wanted Michael to win, but her head knew this was for the best. Her duty was about complete here in Ghant; time to go home soon.

She spoke to the Thrall woman when she had an opportunity. “I am regretful my husband lost, and Edomite ladies’ hearts are broken today,” she said to her warmly. “But my goodness, such a great showing from you. And we do not know one another well enough. I was just talking to Prince Amenmar, and we agree that before I go there should be a dinner in your honour at our embassy there. I hope you will do us the honour of attending…”

And then she must assure Michael of her love and admiration, and Claudia Alaric of hers. Yet Rosa Sharon had to wait until an appropriate moment. My poor Nathan. Always the last against the wall at the dance, it seems.

Later, Princess Jocasta and Prince Amenmar affirmed their government’s agreement with the message sent from the Foreign Minister. It was, they agreed, the right direction to take Ghantish policy and one which they heartily supported. And in the meantime, Prince Amenmar arranged to make sure that the Cultural Attache in Vannois was ready to receive any information from his spies in the Ghantish embassy and entourage visiting.

The ambassador-prince explained a bit of statecraft to Jocasta at the embassy while they were planning the dinner for Zara Thrall. “The key to our success,” he told Jocasta, “Is not really in our force of arms, in our economy or any of these things, though they certainly help and lay the groundwork. It is in all the preparations that go before. A dinner, an exchange of information, a letter, a seduction here, a financial agreement there all builds your opportunities, so that in a crisis or in some tension to exploit, all lies in readiness. And everything is an opportunity. This contest of strength was one. To see life so is the difference between a great prince and someone sitting in front of their television set uselessly.”

“I think I understand,” breathed Jocasta. “It is delicious to think of.”
"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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New Edom
Postmaster of the Fleet
 
Posts: 22916
Founded: Mar 14, 2011
Democratic Socialists

Postby New Edom » Tue Mar 21, 2017 11:13 am

Betharan Palace
Fineberg, New Edom


Nicholas Samuels had never in his life imagined he would meet the King personally. As he walked down the salmon and azure halls of the palace over a zigzag patterned carpeting towards the King’s private chambers he felt a sense of nervousness; he was sure his staff did as well. The King had different preferences than his wife the Queen—Samuels and his staff were in their reserve military uniforms, which he knew some of his staff had borrowed and hardly fit perfectly. He kept feeling his tie was too loose, his jacket did not fit properly and he realized as he was walking in that his trousers were not perfectly symmetrical in their pressing. In fact a uniformed naval officer at the door, wearing gold braid and medals on his blues, frowned faintly a moment as his eye swept up and down the group of them. “Please follow me,” the man said politely after Nicholas bowed to him.

They came into a large sitting room, big as a normal family home, with ornately carved chairs with embroidered seat covering, a great painting of a naval battle from the 19th Century showing Cetian and Edomite ships vanquishing the Cornellian fleet off the coast of Haran. A blue and yellow woven carpet lay upon the floor in intricate Haranese weave. A brazier near a wall steamed a delicate incense into the air, no doubt to hide the fact that it was next to a sick room. There was a shelf of books that he did not have time to glance at. A lot of space had been cleared and he could see that exercise machinery had been set up on rubberized mats. Everyone in the room was a man. All were in uniform—naval uniform—but the King and a dark bearded black robed Apostolic priest in a chair near the brazier. Two sailors acting as valets stood away from the group standing at parade rest.

“Your Majesty, I am Dr. Nicholas Samuels. I am going to be the Director of Physiology here for the duration of your illness,” said the young man, bowing. As he did his team—a physiotherapist, two nurses and two orderlies bowed deeply.

Prince Enoch glanced at the King. The King wore a scarlet dressing gown, blue pajamas, and sat in a wheelchair staring balefully at the young man. The King spoke but it was almost unintelligible.

Captain Hadoram Peleg, standing nearby, said, “The King wants to know why you have a Noviteran accent.”

“I studied medicine in Novitera, Your Majesty, Kangley State University” said Dr. Samuels proudly. He noticed Prince Enoch glance at him when he said this. It was odd to see him up close after seeing him on television so many times speaking on behalf of the Palace. Up close of course he looked more human and ordinary; you could see dark circles under his eyes, but his uniform was immaculate and his back straight and neat, his appearance handsome and tall.

“Isn’t that one of the infamous ‘party schools’?” asked Prince Enoch.

“Er, some go for that, Excellency. I did not, I assure you. It is also a good school for science and medicine,” said Nicholas. “I had a bit of trouble studying in fact but persevered in spite of the constant orgies and revelry, ha ha.”

Prince Enoch smiled briefly. “We are assured of your excellent grades and internship at Avantine General, Doctor.”

“Glargh vesh,” snapped the King. His valet stepped forward to wipe away drool at which the King swiped at him like an angry bear.

“He wants to know if you’re Jewish,” said Captain Peleg. Prince Enoch had to refrain from rolling his eyes. Father Emmaeus, the Royal Physician, hid a smirk beneath his beard and moustache.

Samuels reddened. “I….yes I am sir. I have a dispensation from the Bishop of Nass to practice medicine upon Christians. It was presented to the office of the Chamberlain and the medical office here…will that be a problem or you?”

The King beckoned to Peleg who leaned down and muttered to him. Peleg nodded and stood straight. “The King says no, he has always understood Jews to be clever about that sort of thing.” There was a general chuckle.

“I’m relieved to hear it sir. Allow me to say: I am a patriot. When I received permission to study in Novitera, it was my sworn intent to return here to practice medicine.” Samuels said proudly.

The King nodded jerkily. He gestured at Samuels vaguely and Prince Enoch cleared his throat. “We’ve been briefed on the plan. What is next?”

“Normally I would do an examination of the patient…”

“That won’t be necessary, you have the files and the interview with me,” interrupted Father Emmaeus.

Samuels hesitated. “it may become necessary, Father. Let me present what we’re going to work with: restraint therapy and then working on the muscle memory. We will work with this…the glove.” This looked almost like a boxing glove that laced up the arm. “This will prevent you using your good arm, sir, and require you to 90% of the time have this on. I realize it will be very uncomfortable but it is necessary. We will be doing exercises six hours a day towards that end. Much of the work will really be yours, sir, as we will be assisting and directing. I have always been told that you are a man of great courage and resolve. We will start with exercises and then move up to tasks. We will also monitor diet and of course as you have heard, no smoking.”

“Blah,” said the King irritably. “I…nnnngghhhow…”

“Yes sir, I realize it is a hardship,” said Samuels with a faint smile. “Shall we begin then?”
"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 » Thu Apr 06, 2017 5:28 pm

(…Following the events of “When the Eagles Broke Free
Prior to the events of “Beasts of the Wing”)

“Clash of Arms” (II)
Inperiala Palace
Ghish, Ghant


Perhaps it was to be expected, but the Edomite nobleladies mostly kept themselves at their end of the stands of honor, while their Ghantish counterparts kept to the other side just down the way. The Edomite area featured Princess Jocasta, Princess Ava, Claudia Zecharias and Rafaella Unwerth, no doubt doing what young women did in such circumstances. Talk about men.

The other end of the stands included the likes of Princess Cassandra, her younger sister Princess Anastasia, and the Emperor’s maternal half-sisters Alexia and Amelia, among others. The Empress’s myriad ladies-in-waiting were accounted for, mostly consisting of the fair-skinned and raven-haired Dakmooran lot, who formed their own little cluster within that group.

From other parts of Ghant, highborn ladies had come. Princesses of Arrautsa, a husky and busty and arrogant after a fashion, Princesses of Gaemar, red-haired and fair and freckly like peaches and cream. Princesses of Jehenna, dark haired with bushy eyebrows and dark freckles like brownie crumbs in a glass of milk. They mixed and mingled and fawned over their champions.

“…And pray, Lady Baztan, who do you fancy the victor of this bout?” Princess Melara asked the lady from Lurberdea, the province over. Jolene Baztan was arguably the most beautiful of all the eligible, unspoken noblewomen in all of Ghant, with flaming locks of auburn hair, ivory skin and eyes of emerald green. As such, she was subject of much feminine gossip, and the target of the other noble ladies in her company, who sought to poke and pry at the young woman that made them full of envy, and provoked their insecurity.

“…Does it matter?” Lady Baztan offered a smirk. “I find fawning over men swinging weapons against each other to be such a bore…though perhaps I can understand why you are so fond of the bouts…dare I say were I a princess, I’d enjoy seeing men maim each other for me to be quite the rush.”

Princess Melara put a hand to her breast and gasped. “Do you hear that, Princess Ona?” Melara asked her Izotzan counterpart, and friend. “Lady Baztan chides us.”

“I certainly did not mean to chide,” Lady Baztan chuckled. “But I confess myself surprised by the Emperor’s behavior.”

“Lady Baztan, you astound me!” exclaimed Melara incredulously. “What could there be in the behavior of the poor Emperor that provokes such hasty slander?”

Jolene Baztan batted at her hair with a gloved hand, and adjusted the angle of her parasol. “Forgive my impertinence, I merely wish to observe that usually, the Emperor refuses to partake of the tournament, and yet here he is participating all the same, while other men of renown are left outside the lists.”

“But what in heavens does this have to do with the Emperor?” goaded Melara with narrowed eyes and a furrowed brow.

“It is only in defense of His Majesty’s rank that he entered the list, because he feels as though he has something to prove to his greatest vassal lords,” Jolene explained. “Yet that works against him in many ways. It shows that the Emperor is eager to impress, which the nobility in their wisdom shall try to use to manipulate him. My father is a good man and true, and wouldn’t dare use such a thing against him, though I fear less scrupulous and honorable lords will feign flattery towards their own ends.”

Melara pursed her lips, and mimicked Lady Baztan’s behavior. “And who do you suppose would conduct themselves in such a manner?”

Jolene cast an eye towards the Edomite women, just down the way, causing Melara to give a glance of derision in their general direction before turning back to her Ghantish peers. “Aye, the certainly enjoy sinking their claws into our men, don’t they? First Prince Michael, then Prince Alexander and then Alaric Dain! Oh, my sweet Alaric…wasted upon an Edomite!”

“I would have married Alaric Dain,” Elsa frowned. “I bet Lady Zecharias doesn’t appreciate a man of his valor and virtues. It’s like casting pearls before swine.” There were some nods of agreement between the princesses and nobleladies, before they returned to quiet to watch the action unfold. Olyvar of Thule made it to the round of sixteen, where he was defeated by King Taboro of Arrautsa. He rose from the grounds in good spirits though, and gave a look and smile at Rafaella before leaving to remove his armor.

Likewise, Alaric Dain and Michael of Dakmoor returned to their wives in due course, Alaric Dain lamenting that he might very well be the best swordsman in Ghant, though it was ironic that it was a woman that had the greatest amount of skill with a blade in her hand. Michael, for his part, was glad that at least his beloved Jocasta would be the Queen of Love and Beauty after all, despite not winning.

When the tournament was over, music began to play and food was served in earnest. There were great tables of capon and duck and honey-baked ham and ribs, with assorted dishes of fruits and vegetables with offerings of creams and dips. It was there that the champion, Zara Thrall could be found, out of her armor and in a green dress, the skirt long and straight. She was tearing the meat off of some ribs and washing it down with honeyed wine.

Princess Jocasta found her there, and spoke to her upon approach. “I am regretful my husband lost, and Edomite ladies’ hearts are broken today,” she said to her warmly. “But my goodness, such a great showing from you. And we do not know one another well enough. I was just talking to Prince Amenmar, and we agree that before I go there should be a dinner in your honor at our embassy there. I hope you will do us the honor of attending…”

Zara regarded her carefully, and wiggled her lips as she listened to what Jocasta had to say. “Do not harbor too much regret, your Highness. No doubt, he has proven himself the most capable swordsman in all of Ghant, and were women barred from the tournament, no doubt he would have won,” she told her with a faint smile, though her eyes were distant. “A dinner in my honor at the embassy, you say? How fortunate am I to have earned such an invitation. Naturally I would be remiss were I not to accept.”

She looked around the area, noting the multitude of lords and ladies, strolling this way and that, eating and drinking and conversing with one another. Michael wasn’t far of, sampling the wares, while Alexander entertained Ava and Alaric was undoubtedly musing to his precious Claudia. Olyvar was probably searching for Rafaella as well, in some attempt to coax her.

“You’re not like your sister,” Zara observed to Jocasta. “I met her in Dakar…she was…aloof. You on the other hand, seem far more shrewd by comparison. I think you’ll make excellent dinner company,” she finished with a smile, before ripping some more meat off of a rib bone.
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Leasath
Chargé d'Affaires
 
Posts: 385
Founded: Aug 06, 2006
Anarchy

Postby Leasath » Mon Apr 10, 2017 9:17 pm

27 Rue de 1871, Saint-Nazaire, Vannois
1:09 AM Vannoisian Standard


"And though we cannot -- wait, wait, no..."

"It is not the responsibility of this ... I sound like fucking Dammartin, really..."

"While we are unable to -- Christ, this just isn't flowing right." A handful of sheets of paper were thrown down onto the spotless kitchen counter, and the tired-looking man who had been sitting at that counter was up and moving towards the stainless-steel refrigerator. "No way in hell am I telling Élaine I need a speechwriter, though, absolutely not," he muttered to nobody in particular, opening the fridge and pulling out a pitcher of water before moving back to where he had been sitting before and refilling his glass. "Especially after Marc decided to hire that damn impersonator trying to act like my wife..." Shaking his head, he returned the pitcher to the fridge and moved over to the sink, over which a large window looked out over the front gardens to the street.

At this time of night, in this part of Saint-Nazaire, all was quiet and dark; they had made sure of that when they chose this house to purchase. Though their main home was back in his hometown and constituency of the first arrondissement of Belzieu, Joseph Lemaire and his famous wife Corinne were careful about their choice for a home they would spend as much time as not residing at. As such, it was a bit of a palace; five bedrooms, a spacious master, dining room and newly upgraded kitchen upon purchase. To be perfectly honest, were his wife not who she was, he would have insisted on something far smaller.

But that, of course, was not who they were.

As if to remind him of that, he heard a muffled crying sound, and shook himself from his reverie to make his way to his youngest daughter's bedroom. Little Noémie had a habit of kicking off right around this time each night, and Joseph insisted on taking care of her most nights to allow his wife a little sleep; it had been three months thus far, and the arrangement was working to a degree. Perhaps they should have reconsidered moving her into the room closest to their own master, however..

"Ahh, mon petit canard, what is wrong, hmm?" Smiling lightly at his quickly growing daughter, Joseph bent to lift her from her bed up to his shoulder. "Come on, now, you can listen to your father try to write this blasted speech that he's due to give in, oh..." Checking the clock above the door to his daughter's room, he laughed quietly. "About ten hours, at this point. Lovely." Rocking the slowly calming child in his arms, he moved out of her darkened room and into the dimly lit hallway, back to the similarly low-lighted kitchen. Grabbing his cellphone and the sheets of paper he had thrown down only a few minutes before, along with a red pen, Lemaire brought his daughter over into the rather cozy den. He set down his documents and pen, and before he could do the same with the phone it started vibrating.

"What in the he-," he caught himself, looking guiltily at the now mostly quieted bundle in his arms and apologizing under his breath as he answered the phone. Though he didn't see all the sense in censoring himself in front of a child that was all of 3 months old, he knew his little wife would likely smack him if she knew he did it anyway, so he refrained. Tapping the green button to accept the call, he answered with a brisk -- if quiet -- "Bonjour?"

"Monsieur Lemaire, I have a M. Nicollier at the gardens entrance, sir. He wishes to speak with you," the voice on the other end of the line spoke, and Joseph could have smacked himself for not recognizing the number of one of the guardsmen he and his wife had hired for this home. His parents had both thought it overkill at first, but the one time that a man had tried to throw himself over the low walls that separated the home from the outside world in order to get a glimpse of his wife had changed their minds as well as his own. It surely made him sleep more soundly at night, when he slept at all, knowing that his wife and children were better protected than anything he could have provided himself.

"Ah... Alright, er, send him in I suppose. I'll get the front door. Merci, Jean," Joseph said, and hung up the phone before setting it down. He hadn't really processed just what the guardsman had said before he was halfway to the door, at which point he almost fell over in surprise. The deputy Prime Minister, the government to his opposition, the man he shadowed on a daily basis as d'Abord's Foreign Secretary was on his front porch waiting for him to let the man into his house... at one in the morning? Was he losing his mind?

Looking down, he was almost shocked to see his little Noémie there, and took a moment to breathe. This was his domain; his home. His wife was asleep just a few rooms away, his other daughter -- only two years Noémie's elder -- asleep even closer than that. He was in control, the wide-eyed baby laying in the crook of his arm notwithstanding. He never was all that great at getting her to fall back asleep with any speed anyway; perhaps this interruption wouldn't make too much difference on the whole.

Finally, mentally steeled and ready to face whatever Nicollier had to throw at him, he moved into the foyer and to the rather intricate front door. Checking through the peep-hole -- yes, that was certainly the Deputy Prime Minister outside on his front porch at one in the morning, looking altogether unbothered -- Joseph unlocked and opened the door. He recalled fleetingly that he was dressed, quite comfortably, in sweats and a light t-shirt that read 'World's Number One #2,' a gag gift from Élaine from last Christmas. All too late, however, as he caught the eye and surprisingly legitimate looking smile on the face of his political foe.

"Bonjour, monsieur Lemaire. I do hope I am not interrupting anything? I realize it is quite late but I recall the earliest years of my own children, and the sleepless nights they gave myself and Anne-Marie -- I suppose I assumed correctly that you were awake?" The deputy Prime Minister spoke smoothly, almost silkily, as was his defining trait. He smiled at some area on Joseph's chest and, still slightly dazed, it took a moment for the younger politician to realize that the old UMP stalwart wasn't eyeing him up; little Noémie was waving at the well-dressed politician with a toothless grin on her face. "I see this must be your youngest, Noémie, yes?"

"I- yes, of course, monsieur Nicollier. Please, come in." Joseph stepped aside, allowing the minister inside and gesturing to a coat-rack to hang his rather comfortable looking woolen coat. "You are correct on all accounts, of course. I go few nights without waking to see my little daughter's smiling face... Though, it is not often smiling like she does now." He smiles himself, a small thing, before remembering himself. "Perhaps we could go into the den, monsieur. It's the warmest part of the house at this time of night and best insulated from my wife and elder daughter's rooms."

"Of course, of course." Nicollier followed the younger man to the sitting area, and took the position that Joseph had just recently been planning to sit at himself. He froze for a moment, noticing the speech half-destroyed sitting next to the minister, but Nicollier moved the papers off to a side table mostly out of sight. Nodding his thanks, Lemaire took a seat across from his parliamentary rival and cleared his throat.

"I suppose I'd like to ask why you are here, monsieur, though I hate to sound so harsh..."

"Not to worry, truly. It is I that have barged into your lovely home so late at night without the slightest warning or given reason... Oh, do call me Jean, please," Nicollier added on the last rather quickly, smiling thinly.

"Of course, then you shall call me Joseph," Lemaire said, adding no more; he really did want to know why the hell the deputy Prime Minister was in his home at this hour the night before he was to give a relatively inconsequential (though you would not get that idea from the amount of drafts it had gone through) speech on the status of the many ambassadors in foreign nations.

"Very well, then, Joseph. I am here with the knowledge of two people." Nicollier crossed one leg over the other and leaned back slightly, though Lemaire did not take the cue; he remained sitting mostly straight-backed, cradling his still mercifully quiet daughter. He could have sword he saw something flash behind the older man's eyes, but it disappeared as soon as it had shown. "My wife, and His Imperial Majesty the Emperor."

"Somehow, I am rather more surprised your wife is involved in this than I am at the mentioning of our august Sovereign," Joseph murmured, sighing. He had spoken at length with Élaine after her short conversation with the Emperor whilst he was in Latium; their fears of his proactivity were only being further proved each day as he involved himself in more and more of the everyday political goings-on of Vannois. Charles XII, he was not.

"I had thought you might be, really," Nicollier said, that thin smile returning for a moment. "I have an offer for you, though it is for you only. I'd hope that you share its contents, accept or reject it, with only your wife if that."

"Is this offer your own or that of the Imperial Palace?" Joseph questioned.

"Both, naturally. The Emperor and I have a rapport, an understanding; we decided on this course together after a sequence of events came to pass after which it was deemed necessary to approach you, tonight in fact," the older man said, careful to keep any foolish pridefulness from his voice at the mention of his close relationship with Louis XIX.

"Very well. Continue, please," Joseph replied.

"We know, as well as your own party does, that it is you and Durand that created Élaine Vaillancourt," Nicollier began, raising an open hand when Joseph made to protest. "Do not deny it, it was a truly masterful bit of character creation you did to make her so formidable as to bring the Socialists to ruin and Prévost-Desprez to her political end. Her accomplishments are, naturally, your own and, I suppose, that of Durand." Nicollier clasped his hands together, nodding. "However, the ideas that are behind everything that she seems to do, say, endorse -- they come from you. Durand is executor, you are ideologue. Even you cannot deny that, much as you may wish to defend your party's leader." Joseph was silent, which Nicollier took with that same smile as from before.

"I -- and, of course, His Majesty -- have only one question for you. Why did you not do it all your own? Why not make Durand your second, grant Vaillancourt a lower portfolio, and aim for the Prime Minister's office yourself?" To this, of course, Lemaire had a solid response.

"Why didn't you?" He said, containing his slight shock at the deputy Prime Minister's ability to read into Vannois d'Abord. They did not think themselves a wholly watertight operation but this was really rather impressive. "You were electable enough to win in your constituency despite being parachuted in from Saint-Nazaire so long ago; why not go for UMP leadership after Renauer's death?"

"For the same reason Durand would never aim to become the Socialist leader, or in fact the leader of your new little movement. For whatever political acumen he and I may have, whatever stinging attacks we can make in the middle of Prime Minister's Questions -- there is no comparison to the actual ability of charisma Jean-Christophe and, yes, Élaine Vaillancourt possess. That is why I remain in my position, so similar to your own; crafting policy and maintaining the party rather than trying to lead it myself." Nicollier was leaning forward now, elbows on his knees, and he looked far less intimidating when he could have just been one of Joseph's mates in to watch this weekend's Belzieu AFC match. "You, however, have all these things. Few Vannoisians are interested in foreign policy debate -- non-interventionist, non-militarist, move on to the NHS please -- but if they took the time to listen..."

"They would find that I am just as intriguing as Marc Delcassé. Durand is often far more impressive in parliament-"

"That's just it, however. Antoine Durand thrives on conflict in the Assembly, but do you think he could ever rally thirty thousand of Belzieu's most conservative arrondissement and steal that seat from a man Robichaud referred to as a 'great friend'? Come now, Joseph. You are a greater speaker than Astier, and with time you could become a greater debater than even Durand; your policy mind rivals mine, and I say that not out of my own pride but because it is quite simply true. Your ideas on the way we allocate the budget for our Foreign Office, and on cutting ambassadorial costs -- yes, we know what your speech will be on tomorrow -- are almost genius. I would implement them myself if it did not undercut you..." Nicollier seemed almost reminiscent now, and Joseph -- after he got over the quick mention of already knowing his speech topic for tomorrow's session -- latched onto his final sentence.

"You do not wish to 'undercut' me? Are we not political opponents? Why would you support my..." Lemaire stopped, and Nicollier grinned once again.

"I think you begin to understand," the minister said, nodding. "You are next in line to lead the revolution that will, sad though it shall be, sweep away the government of my good friend Jean-Christophe. It will not be fully evident until the election is upon us, when you realize that it ought to be you -- not the suit you have created to oppose the suit I fashioned -- to bring this nation into the hands of youth. Your young wife will be invaluable in capturing that section of the vote. Your own youthfulness outstrips any other in your party, and even the so-called next generation of UMP in Sardou. Though I would never throw my wholehearted support behind you -- the right to sodomize one another is something I shall never understand, my friend -- if there is to be a revolution, I would rather you head it than the volatility that can come with the early years of a new puppeteer."

"I- I would-," Joseph sputtered, before raising a hand -- still cradling his young daughter, who was being lulled by the sound of their smooth voices -- and taking a breath. "Élaine is not just a suit of my creation... I would be remiss, of course, if I said I hadn't -- well, that is..." Sighing to himself, he shook his head. "Look, Jean. There are no guarantees d'Abord would win a general election a year from now. Momentum dissipates over that long a time period. And anyway, I still do not fully understand," Joseph shook his head. "You come to tell me that yourself and the Emperor see me as some grand future for the party I lead, something for the youth of the Empire to rally around -- that allowing Élaine as a figurehead for Prime Minister would endanger that. I see what you are saying, and yet you have still not given me any reason for why you are here now. I have no intention of challenging Élaine to any leadership battle, Nicollier. She has served nothing but admirably thus far."

"I have a piece of information for you that may well change your mind on some issues." Nicollier stood, and so did Joseph. He looked as if he was making to leave, confusing the sleep-lacking shadow minister for a moment before he continued. "The Emperor will, in fact, be entertaining madame Vaillancourt's request for talks on a true constitution for the Empire. In fact, he will be allowing full talks between government ministers and your shadow cabinet in coming weeks. Tell me, Joseph," Nicollier stepped forward, not far from the younger man's face. "Would you rather allow Élaine Vaillancourt to bumble her way through leading talks on a constitution that, God willing, will outlive us all -- or be given the opportunity to take that control yourself? I may not support you, and I may very well rue the day I chose to focus on the here and now rather than the future of my party and its opposition to your own. But I know for a fact that if we allow Vaillancourt and Dammartin to negotiate this themselves, we are ruined. I think you know that, too." Nicollier seemed almost sad at this point, and he moved to walk to the foyer he had entered through not long ago. Taking his coat, he shrugged on the obviously well-made material. Joseph, for his part, remained deep in thought, shocked at the revelations posed to him by the deputy Prime Minister apparently on behalf of the Emperor. He almost jumped when the older man began speaking again.

"If God was good, the UMP would survive past my internal leadership of its policies. It is unfortunate that the only mind I have found that could, in fact, do just that happens to be deeply entrenched in beliefs mostly opposing those of the party and of myself..." Taking a moment, Nicollier looked out the windows that flanked the large door, and then back into the eyes of the young man still holding his child. "I pray that you will think on what I have said, Joseph. It may seem madness, but Vannois will survive your rule. Dammartin tried to throw off my yoke once, but it was not so long ago, and even then he has maintained leadership when I implored him to step aside; I shudder to think of what would happen were Vaillancourt to try the same early into her tenure as Prime Minister."

"I will... Consider, the information you have given me. Nothing more," Lemaire stated, with more resolve in his voice than he actually felt. This night had turned out to be far more of a whirlwind than he had expected when he had gotten home.

"Whatever you do, monsieur Lemaire, know that you have an opportunity almost unheard of in the history of this country. Though the Emperor will, naturally, oppose your agenda, Astier was first and last of the left to lead this nation. I will not pray that you have a lengthier term, but I will hope for the good of the country you have more success than he ever could have. Adieu." Nicollier nodded his head slowly, pulling open the still unlocked door and leaving as quick as that. Joseph, still processing, glanced down at his little daughter.

Sleeping. That had to be a record; perhaps it was all a dream.

Or a nightmare. He was not sure which was more apt.
Seredinia | Yavorstrana
Known as Malay
Member of Ajax & Kylaris

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New Edom
Postmaster of the Fleet
 
Posts: 22916
Founded: Mar 14, 2011
Democratic Socialists

Postby New Edom » Thu Apr 13, 2017 4:28 am

Fineberg, New Edom

The King sat at his oaken desk, wearing a naval uniform, his ribbons displayed, a cap upon the desk along with his ceremonial dagger. He looked gaunt, grave, and tired. “My beloved subjects, it has been some months since I addressed you publicly. I must inform you that I have been very ill but have recovered. I was struck down by a stroke, which rendered half of my body incapable and rendered me incapable of proper speech. Thanks to my physicians and my family I was able to make a full recovery. This stroke was due to a poor diet and smoking, which have been removed from my life. I thank Almighty God for my recovery as well, for unto Him all things are subject.

“During this time I am very grateful that my co-Monarch, Queen Mara, my beloved wife, has been traveling to different nations to encourage our diplomatic efforts to have peaceful and productive relations with other countries. It was through her good work that negotiations were strengthened with the government of Emperor Constantine of Latium. I have never been more proud of her than now. I am also grateful for the Royal Household and my beloved wife for their good care of the Heir, Prince Josias.

“During this time the Chamber of Deputies has continued to do its work in examining how to improve our public works to make our transportation and communication infrastructure more efficient. In spite of the newness of our constitutional democracy they have worked together, in spite of quarrels, ideological, regional and tribal disagreements to resolve issues and work together. I am particularly grateful to Secretary-General Delmar for keeping the Chamber harmonious and guiding the Deputies through this process.

“During this time, the Council of Ministers has conducted itself well. We have succeeded in working within the budget proposed by the Chamber of Deputies, labour disagreements are being properly negotiated between industry and the unions with the government agencies appropriate acting as intermediaries. During this Council’s time of office it has successfully contained the crisis in Ahara, maintained a difficult peace with Jedoria and Deadora, and helped Latium arrive at a successful conclusion to its crisis of succession. It has managed anti-piracy in the Ura Sea. However a nation is not defined only by its crises. We anticipate this year more university graduates and polytechnic graduates than ever before in our nation’s history. Our national industries’ output is record as well—in petroleum and petroleum byproducts, in automotive construction, in chemical production including medicines and cleaning products, fisheries and in agriculture. The agricultural reforms have begun producing three hundred kilograms of food per neighborhood. At this point, 30% of all food consumed by our people is produced by urban farming. We give thanks to God for this bounty and productiveness, for by His will all authority and wisdom are granted.

“Count Samuel Beroth has presided over our government works with dignity and wisdom as befits his seniority. However he has served our country long, and is due for retirement with great honour. He has recently submitted to me his intention of resigning from the Council and acting only in an advisory capacity from the comfort and peace of his home, among his family. Therefore upon the Queen’s return from visiting Brellach I will be conferring with her, in piety and guided by prayer, to appoint a new President of the Council of Ministers.

“I thank you all, beloved subjects, for your unwavering loyalty and industry. May God be with you all.”
"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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Leasath
Chargé d'Affaires
 
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Founded: Aug 06, 2006
Anarchy

Postby Leasath » Mon Apr 17, 2017 9:27 pm

In the neighborhood of 27 Rue de 1871, Saint-Nazaire, Vannois
6:27 PM Vannoisian Standard, Easter Sunday


Corinne had always said her second favorite part of Joseph -- besides his 'great, beautiful brain, of course' -- was likely his legs. Though the politician himself never really could bring himself to understand the attraction, his wife often reminded him of his own attraction to her legs, and then, well... Things like their second daughter happened.

Anyway, Joseph had always taken his wife's opinion into deepest consideration; jogging had been a thrice-weekly routine even before he had first met her, and now it became nearly daily in spite of his increasing business with the party and opposition in parliament. It became probably his favorite excuse, as well, to get out of just about anything he wanted; whether that be a meeting, or in this case, Easter Sunday with his parents and siblings. Festivities had mostly ended around noon, when all the children had run amok across their Saint-Nazaire residence looking for playfully colored eggs, returning to their parents and grandparents to exchange filled baskets for foil wrapped chocolate bunnies and sour candies. At that point, having gotten his fill of chocolate and rolling around in the grassy backyard with his daughters, nieces, and nephews, Joseph had excused himself with a smile and a tap of his watch. They'd want him back before sundown, after all, to see everyone off and promise to call over the next few weeks until one of them would inevitably arrive for a visit.

And so Joseph Lemaire jogged his way through the upper-class Révolution de 1868 neighborhood, with only the sound of his own voice to accompany him. He often took the opportunity that came with uninterrupted exercising to analyze the past week in parliament and whatever other speaking engagements he had had in the days prior; whether that be questions asked during Prime Minister's Question time, or a statement on Nicollier's latest Foreign Office announcements, or anything else from the myriad of duties he carried out. It had to be said, though, that this late in the week he would usually turn to an audiobook or two; the biography of the great Teresa of Ghant, titled quite simply Empress, had been published late last year and was extremely tantalizing even now. However, he knew that the situation awaiting him at home combined with the unending shock at finding Jean-Yves Nicollier on his doorstep late the other night would cheapen his experience of the Dowager's life as told by a menagerie of Ghantish and Vannoisian historians.

He had figured as much would happen when he woke up this morning after Easter Vigil; Joseph was only 38, after all, and 38 year old's hands did not shake uncontrollably just from staying up late for religious service. No, the holy day celebrating God and Vannois's devotion to Him had been a bit of a wash for the shadow foreign minister. Hell, by the sound of him in these recordings over the last week, it had all been a bit of a wash lately. It was frustrating. Joseph knew that he was not acting this way due entirely to his recent late night shenanigans. No, he was rarely if ever shaken by experiences with fellow politicians, something people seemed to find appealing about him. Even when faced with the heights of Élaine's most rattling speeches (which, to be fair, he often had a hand in writing) or the biting attacks on his opposition portfolio by the Prime Minister's whips, Joseph Lemaire remained mostly unmoved through any conventional manner of observation.

As he neared the end of his little run, and a return to his well-lit and well-guarded home, he certainly felt quite unlike that version of himself. He had always been one for masks, though; one for academia, another for work, and one most importantly for family. His lovely little wife had sussed as much out of him after their first Christmas together, when he had almost violently objected to spending any time with his family in Belzieu despite her insistence on the value of family. She understood well, after that, just what he put himself through in transition; he saw her do almost the same thing when she took a stage, stood in front of a camera, signed some fan's trinket. In that way they were so similar, though out of entirely different reasons.

After all, Joseph just could not see Corinne's jovial father or sweet, similarly tiny mother 'smacking her around' for not maintaining A and A* levels. No, that was a special little sequence reserved for him, and those like him. Not that he wished it on any others, nor would any who suffered like that. To be the shield had always been preferable to any other role in such injustice, anyway.

"Joseph, mon ami! I have been waiting almost twenty minutes, you know!" Joseph almost jumped, still moving rather quickly as he was, before coming to a complete stop near his front gate at the sight of yet another politician visiting his capital residence. At least this one presented a more familiarly friendly face, anyway. "Keeping in shape I see, hmm?"

"Ah... As always, Élaine. You know me," Lemaire replied, shaking himself of his previous thoughts to settle into the small, amused smile that seemed to grace his features almost impossibly at the parliamentary palace. "You look well -- taking advantage of the Easter recess, I'd hope?"

"Of course, of course. I was hoping to catch you after festivities -- I figured you'd insist on a jog, even with the streets deserted," Vaillancourt began, taking a moment to look around them. Joseph had not really noticed the entire lack of anyone on the streets of their neighborhood, though he kicked himself for his obliviousness. Obviously there would be nobody around; it was Easter Sunday, a day everyone wanted to spend with family -- well, everyone but him, and a few others it seemed. "So I thought I'd pay you a visit. Couldn't wait 'till we got back in session, I'm afraid, but..."

"It's alright, Élaine, really. Come on, I'm surprised you haven't gone in already?..." Lemaire questioned, waving off a hug from his party leader with a gesture to his rather sweaty attire. "I know Corinne would be glad to have someone that's not also a Lemaire to talk to for a little while, eh?"

"Of course, of course. I didn't want to interrupt anything, is all," Élaine replied with a smile, following Joseph as he led her through the garden gate that stood unmanned today. He had insisted on allowing their usual men the day off, and even with the promise of doubled wages for the weekend the Lemaire's still would have a man back around 10 P.M. to ensure their safety. Joseph had always put off their eagerness to serve on his wife's innate ability to enchant most every man (and some women, too), but this time it had really just been down to being 'real fond' of both Joseph and Corinne, not to mention little Josseline and Noémie, that the guard contingent insisted on returning later that night.

"I'm sure it would have all been just fine, but all the same; welcome," Joseph offered, walking up to the front door and opening it with far more ease than he was really feeling. Élaine had met his family before, briefly, after an event at the Imperial University campus he taught at before becoming a politician; of course, a ten minute meet and greet was nothing on the experience of a lifetime with the Lemaire's, and so she was quite fond of all of them as she was with most people. Joseph wished he could be the same with a few choice individuals himself.

"Thank you. Perhaps I'll say hello and then pop off to your study, wait for you to change?" Élaine looked around the front entrance, obviously looking for Joseph's two daughters that were rather fond of the Vannois d'Abord leader themselves, before looking back up at her deputy party leader.

"That'd be fine; you can actually head to the den, if you like. I'll ask Corinne to send over some coffee or tea." Joseph nodded down one of the hallways that branched off from the foyer towards the main living room, where he was sure his family in its entirety would be located. "Should all be just through there. I'll join you after I've changed."

"Alright," Élaine replied with a smile, and wandered off down the hallway towards the rest of the Lemaire clan. Joseph, on the other hand, went down a different hallway entirely towards the master bedroom; he would usually have introduced Élaine as a surprise visitor himself, but feeling the way he was and knowing the audience that awaited him inside the shadow minister instead went to quickly shower and change. It had only been a few minutes by the time he was re-dressed -- now in one of his favorite white collared shirts under a festive vest the girls both loved, a comfortable pair of slacks, and his rather well-worn slippers. He had just been adjusting his hair when he felt eyes on the back of his head from the doorway and, turning slightly, he was met with the sight of his father glaring at him.

At almost 80 years old, Joseph Lemaire Senior was a far more decrepit version of his former self. Signs of his former vitality -- broad shoulders, an impressive glare, and rather surprisingly well-filled out biceps -- remained. However, the wrinkles that had overtaken his face were no small thing; nor was the shock of white hair that once upon a time had been brown, or the slight hunch he walked with at all times. All the same, that malicious glint in his eyes brought the junior of the two back a decade and more, to a time when there was no authority but his father. A time when authority meant punishment, no questions asked, no reasoning required.

"Father," Joseph said, softly. He did not even inwardly cringe, not anymore. At one time he had been worried over being 'too soft' for his dear father; it was half the reason he had been smacked around in the first place by the older man, to beat out the femininity in his son. Unfortunately, there were few things that could make one simply grow in the vision of one's father. That Joseph looked more like his mother was once a curse, now a blessing; he was not sure what he would do if the face he looked at in the mirror each day was that of his father anyway.

"What're you thinking, bringing that woman around here? I know you work for the bitch, but what -- are you just trying to piss me off, lettin' her around my grandkids?" Joseph Lemaire Senior opened with a low growl right out of the gate, something that would have had his eldest son quailing in another life. This time, however, the junior of the two simply combed a final strand from his forehead and clasped his hands. "Better get to talking, boy. I know you think your better than me and all your brothers and sisters, what with your --"

"Enough," the younger man cut across his father, taking a few strides until he was standing less than a foot away from the grizzled man. "I am not listening to this, father. I invited you all here to spend Easter with my family, as I was asked to by the party secretary's office. I'll not let them twist my arm again, backlash be damned." Lemaire brushed past his father harshly, stopping in the hallway to turn his head. "If I were you -- and I thank God that I am not -- I would get back to my grandchildren. The Lord knows you'll not be seeing them much after this," he said lowly, voice razor sharp.

Joseph did not deign to wait for a response, instead walking quickly to the room the rest of his family had claimed for the blessed day. Both elder sisters Cora and Marie, Cora's husband and children, Yves, as well as his dear mother and the most important people in the room; Corinne, Josseline, and little Noémie. He stepped in quickly, noticing that Élaine had already gone, and bent to kiss his wife's forehead. She responded with a bright smile.

"Hello again, love," Joseph murmured, eyes trained on her. "I'm sure Élaine has been through to say hello -- would you mind terribly sending up some coffee, or tea? I'm not sure just how long we'll be talking."

"Of course," the petite woman responded, standing from her cross-legged seat on the floor and passing over their youngest daughter to her eldest sister-in-law before leading her husband out of the room. Joseph winked at his eldest nephew, who giggled and returned to chasing around one of his brothers, before following Corinne's tugs from the room.

"Are you alright?" She asked, her eyes now lit with concern rather than amusement. She was close to him, and he wrapped his arms around her waist for a moment, burying his face in her short, dark hair. He would never tell her just how much he had adored her longer hair, especially when this shorter cut was still just as comfortable, but it was something he missed just a little bit. He looked forward to the end of her latest tour, when it could be grown out again. "I tried to stall him when he got up, I know you don't like to be all alone with him..."

"You did fantastically, my dear, as you always do. Don't worry over me, will you?" Joseph smiled wanly, bending to kiss his lightly wife on the mouth. "It will all be over soon, and there'll not even be a thought spared for the old goat as soon as he leaves. When are we visiting your family again?" This brought a small smile to Corinne's face, and internally Joseph relaxed slightly. Facing questions or concern -- or both -- over his father was likely the most tiring sequence of events he had to go through, especially when faced with someone he refused to lie to on principle.

"Tomorrow, around noon. I've a flight booked and everything, we can stay as long as we like according to mum as long as we bring her 'little duckies.' I worry she's going to shower them with gifts, again," Corinne laughed, and Joseph's mood improved even further. The bright, high pitched sound never failed to bring him up, regardless of the circumstances.

"God willing she shall, hmm?" Joseph smiled, and he caught his wife's mouth once more before stepping away.

"Alright, alright," she murmured, batting his arm. "Go on over to your poor boss and get to running the country already, will you?" Smiling, the dark haired woman turned and began walking towards the kitchen to fix a tray for tea.

"As you say, my love, though it pains me to leave your--"

"Oh, shut up, will you," she whisper-yelled, poking her head out from around the corner into the kitchen, her face alight with a toothy grin. "Go on, you foolish man." With that, both smiling, the two parted. It took but a moment for Joseph to reach the low-lit den that was, at the moment, rather scattered with his nieces and nephew's toys as well as a small stuffed animal he recognized as Josseline's favorite gift from her mother's elder brother. Having a premonition about a probable meltdown over the disappearance of the object, the politician snatched it up, walking over to where Élaine was now sitting before the hearth that had gotten quite a bit of proper use throughout the last winter despite Saint-Nazaire's reputation for mostly mild seasons.

"Sorry to keep you waiting, Élaine; had to deal with a few questions from the family and all," Joseph greeted, moving to a recliner next to her spot on the couch. He sat down tiredly, clutching the small stuffed animal, and relaxed back into the comfortable leather. "What can I do for you, my friend?"

"Quite alright, Joseph; I did barge in on your Easter, after all," the older woman smiled, though there seemed to be something lurking behind her gaze. Joseph quickly ran down a list of what may have happened, from another ill-advised altercation with the Emperor to a return of those rumors involving her and Antoine Durand to even those exceedingly far-fetched whisperings of an illness in her husband. She fiddled with a loose bit of string on her sweater, looking rather uncharacteristically stricken for words, before looking back up at the politician opposite her. "We -- well, that is to say, I -- got a little visit from the Foreign Secretary last night."

Joseph could feel his eyebrows rising, and he hoped his look of shock was authentic enough; then again, he was rather shocked. What was Nicollier playing at? Was he just trying to sow dissent, or was what he had told the shadow minister all part of some elaborate plot by the UMP -- or, perhaps worse, the Imperial Palace itself? Shaking himself, Lemaire leaned forward, now twisting the stuffed animal in his hands gently as he sank into thought.

"What did he want, Élaine? Hell, what could he want?" Deciding to play dumb, the younger man almost bit his tongue as he spoke. It all sounded rather forced, but he and Élaine were friends; all he wanted was an unbiased chance to hear what Nicollier had said to her, and he would tell her that he had received the same man just recently as well. There would be no harm, he told himself, as she would understand his wish to hear her side of the story without the coloring that knowledge of his encounter with the omnipresent Foreign Secretary would provide.

"He... Well, he told me that there were rumblings of assent to constitutional discussions at the Imperial Palace. That Louis would allow us to meet with Imperial and government representatives over an agreement that would lay out the powers of the people, of government and of the Palace..." The Vannois d'Abord leader trailed off, still distracted by whatever it was that she knew, and Joseph took the opportunity to speak.

"Is that not what you wanted? What we all wanted? I know myself and Antoine gave you a bit of flak for contacting him directly, but --"

"That's not all, Joseph," Élaine cut across him, and Lemaire fell silent. Élaine often did this, interjecting across him or Durand or one of the other shadow ministers in the midst of a statement with her own bit of insight on some subject or another. As such, instead of showing the modicum of irritation that he had felt since the first time he had allowed her to halt his thought process, the politician simply nodded and was quiet. "He... He told me that he had informed of some stories of dissension among the d'Abord ranks. That one of my top ministers was conspiring against me, and there were few that I could trust any longer. Joseph, why would anyone want to unseat me, or you? We have made this party in our own image, we have ensured that it will attract all that are needed for a revolutionary vote next year -- why would anyone want to endanger that?" Élaine truly looked utterly disheartened by this revelation, and not even the quick appearance of a smiling Corinne with her tray of tea and a few cookies was enough to force more than a thanks from the older woman.

"Did he... Ah, did he have any names? Or any ideas on names?" Joseph questioned, realizing that he had not been implicated by the veteran minister. He was well convinced, now. Nicollier was trying to sow dissent within the party to ensure his friend's last election would be a triumphant one, and to continue the status quo that the UMP had enforced on Vannois since Robichaud's death so long ago. He was a fool for thinking anything else, really. "I can't imagine it was any amongst the top crust, can you?"

"That's just it," Élaine said, still rather distraught, and Joseph gestured to her near-forgotten tea cup to give her a moment to gather herself. They both sipped the fortifying black tea blend before Vaillancourt began again. "He said it was likely one of the top advisers... Delcassé, Mallet, Guilloux... Durand," she choked, loathe to repeat the last name. "I couldn't believe it, Joseph, I couldn't. If he had mentioned you I would have thrown him from my house, but it was those four... I needed to speak to someone I could trust on the matter, to get another perspective on it all, and you are the first and best option on my list." She exchanged a slightly watery smile with Lemaire, and he leaned forward to pat her on the arm with a reassuring smile.

Feeling conflicted, Joseph battled once again over whether to inform his boss and, yes, friend, of Nicollier's own visit to him. Convinced as he was over the true motives of the Foreign Secretary, he could not help but think that it perhaps was not all a ruse, and so he kept his mouth shut. It seemed far too late, anyway, to attempt to explain just what Dammartin's puppet master had told him. Thinking on what Élaine had told him -- and keeping in mind that, as was often the case, his opinion would likely become her own through her 'taking into consideration' his ideas -- he hesitated to speak, and crunched on a tea-soaked cookie to buy a moment of time.

"I think -- and I shouldn't be too confident in this conclusion, my friend, but I think -- that this is all just hot air. We know Nicollier has a hand in many pies across Vannois, but I wouldn't put too much stock into his ability to buy one of us off. We're supposed to be the greatest generation, daughters and sons clad in God and Gold, meant to bring Vannoisian policies into the 21st century. People wouldn't just give that up, you know?" Joseph almost couldn't believe what he was saying but, as a former and still on-and-off speechwriter, he simply slipped into that mode of thinking. Get the message across, no holds barred, no bars too low to be crossed; just get the job done and sound good doing it. "I know we both trouble over Marc Delcassé, and Antoine has always been a part of the old guard -- but they would not sacrifice the party's chances next year over the possibility of leading yet another opposition campaign in half a decade from now. Nobody would dare challenge you this close, Élaine, not unless we have some saboteur in the party and, believe me, that would not have gone unnoticed."

"I..." Vaillancourt began, but sighed and allowed a wan smile. "I'm sorry for barging in on you, Joseph. I knew I was acting rather insane, but it was so shocking to see Jean-Yves Nicollier's mug on my front doorstep the day before Easter yesterday morning. I hope to God you never have to experience that, eh?" A slightly less nervous laugh escaped the politician, and in a moment both Élaine and Joseph were chuckling at the thought. Only a select few people could spot the tell, of course, that accented Joseph Lemaire's faked laughter.

After a moment, Vaillancourt wiped a hand across her face, and stood; Joseph followed suit quickly. "I hope I haven't worried you too much in my ability to handle surprise, my friend," Élaine said with a final little laugh that was answered by the shake of Lemaire's head and a smile gracing his lips. "I do want to apologize again for interrupting your Easter, however. Your family seems lovely; if I've alienated them too completely I'll really be rather cross with myself, you know."

"Impossible, my friend -- they'll all be voting you into office in a few months, after all!" Joseph replied, and again his cheer held the slightest edge to it. "I'm just glad I could help to dispel your worries, Élaine. I hope you won't keep from telling me anything of this in the future, should it come up again? I can't imagine being so worried over such a wonderful holiday as this."

"Of course, of course. I shall bother you at my pleasure once I am living at the Hôtel Avoinet and you are living in the Foreign Office half the time, hmm?" Élaine laughed again, and the two clapped a hand each on one another's shoulders. "I'll see you the first day of session, hmm?"

"Of course. We must get on track with that defence argument that Marc proposed to me, it could prove a major sticking point on Dammartin's new crusade," Joseph said, nodding.

"That we will, my friend, and much more! Vannois d'Abord is going to be in government in just a year, can you believe?!" Élaine was in far higher spirits than before -- it often took distracting her with one thing to take her mind off the other; really, Joseph wished he could be so well taken away from his worries as that -- and she walked out the door to the den on air. "I won't bother your family again, my friend; give them my thanks for stealing the husband, father, son, etcetera, hmm?"

"As you say, madame," Joseph joked, following the older woman to his front door past the ongoing conversations in his family living room. "Have a safe drive back home, will you? I doubt you'll be seeing many cars on the road... Or joggers, as it were." This brought about another short bout of laughter for them both, before finally Vaillancourt bid her deputy party leader goodbye and left the residence building to make her way past the guard and back into the real world. After shutting the door, Joseph had stood relatively still, taking a breath. He was spending far too much time in his own mind lately, and spending far too much of that time focused on the enigma that was Jean-Yves Nicollier. Shaking his head, he had been about to turn towards the greater part of the foyer and his family's voices before he felt a buzz in one of his pockets. Patting both front pockets, he felt his phone in the left, and fished it out to look at the cause of its activation.

Finding the caller ID an unknown number, he debated declining the call -- what kind of solicitor would have this number, let alone call on Easter Sunday, for Christ's sake? -- but curiosity won out over sensibility.

"Bonjour, this is Joseph Lemaire. To whom am I speaking?" He answered, leaning against the door frame with a suppressed sigh.

"Joseph, hello again," a familiar voice replied, and Lemaire realized he was speaking to the object of his and Élaine's discussion just minutes before. "I hope I haven't caught you at a bad time, considering it is Easter, though I will say that it never crossed my mind to visit you directly on this most holy of days." Nicollier sounded rather amused, and it grated on Joseph's ears more than a bit. However, remaining professional, the shadow minister simply allowed his body to do the talking where his rival could not see him; his back became ramrod straight, fingers tense around the cellphone and in a fist in his pocket. He even bit the inside of his lip, a habit he had thought broken.

"Jean, yes. Are you watching my home, man?" Joseph could not help his response, and refused the urge to turn and look out the window. He had noticed one of the small children peeking out of the living room entrance-way at him, and he forced a smile and wave for his curious niece.

"Joseph, don't ask questions you know the answer to, will you? You're above that, my friend," Nicollier replied, and seemed to sigh, though over the phone Joseph could not be sure. "And anyway, this call should only take a moment. I presume that Élaine Vaillancourt did as she does best and, ah, spilled the beans, as it were?" Nicollier chuckled at that, and continued. "I had thought perhaps she could wait more than a day to run off for the position she was going to take on the issue, but apparently even twenty four hours without being told how to feel about an issue is simply too much for the woman, hmm?"

"Enough, man. What is it that you want from me? Why are you torturing Élaine with these stories of dissent, eh?" Joseph was rather irate, but he kept his voice low all the same, turning himself away from the living room so as to hid his angry face. "Regardless of what you seem to want for this country, unless you're trying to sabotage us both this is insanity, not to mention useless. If you don't think I won't rat you out to her as soon as --"

"Ah, but you won't. She didn't hear a word of my visit to you, did she now?" Nicollier waited in silence for a moment, before continuing triumphantly. "I thought not. And regardless, I have only a little piece of information to pass on, is all."

"Out with it, then. I tire of you," Joseph replied, allowing his annoyance to seep into his voice. He was not often one for anger over most things; that being said, this was getting ridiculous in his eyes, and he was truly tiring of this cloak and dagger act the Foreign Secretary seemed so fond of. "Come on, then."

"Fine, fine, you impatient man," Nicollier replied, though his voice still sounded amused. "It is as simple as this. Not all that Vaillancourt told you today was fiction. One of those names, my friend, is conspiring against the better interests of the party. God willing you will find them before they do too much damage, of course, but... Alas, who knows just what will happen?"

Joseph allowed the silence after Nicollier's final word to stretch, and as quickly as that it was almost deafening. He had turned someone...? Who? What information did they have? Were they all in danger, for dreaming? Was the thought of equality and freedom so illegitimate as to be illegal under the new Emperor?

"Jean --"

"Unfortunately that is, in fact, all the time that I have tonight. Best of luck with the little rebellion that seems to be brewing, my friend. God knows we both would hope for you and you alone to crush it completely, though if there is a loss along the way... Well, all in the interest of the greater good, hmm?" Nicollier spoke as if he was talking to a close acquaintance over the weather, rather than the possible fracture of the most major opposition party in over a decade. "Regardless of all that, good Joseph, do have a wonderful Easter. I won't ask you to give your wife or children my best, but please be sure your father has my worst," Nicollier clucked his tongue, "I never was one for the old abusive father act, anyway. Au revoir, and may God go with you."

As quickly as that, the line was dead, and Joseph was left staring at his phone with wide eyes. He was like that for what seemed to be hours before he was snapped back to reality.

"Joseph, love, could you come here?" He heard his beautiful little wife calling from the living room, and he was suddenly grounded slightly. "Poor Noémie's spit up a bit, if you could just bring the cleaning things, I'd rather it not stain..."

Looking from his phone to the room holding what he deemed his entire life -- troubled past, loving present, and a suddenly uncertain future -- he closed his eyes. Shaking his head, he cleared his throat.

"Of course, dear, just a moment!" He would make his way to the kitchen, they kept most of the cleaning things locked under the sink away from the kid's purview. He would focus on this act, rather than what Nicollier told him he ought to do; he would emulate Élaine rather than dwell on the future for the moment.

At least, he would try. Between the original visit, his father, and now all that had happened this Easter... No. No. His daughters. His wife. Thinking only of them, Joseph went about gathering all that was necessary to clean the floor and comfort his little daughter. Realizing he still had the small stuffed animal he had been toying with clutched in a hand, he almost smiled.

Whether or not all was going to be well going forward, whether or not all was well before, for now he had the people he cared most for just a moment's walk away. Nothing could stop that, at least not for now, and that would keep him sane and well for as long as it took.
Seredinia | Yavorstrana
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New Edom
Postmaster of the Fleet
 
Posts: 22916
Founded: Mar 14, 2011
Democratic Socialists

Postby New Edom » Tue Apr 18, 2017 6:19 pm

Fineberg, New Edom

"I could spit, I really could, and these fucking feathers itch," growled Count Lalery to Queen Mara as she stood with he and Prince Enoch before preparing to go into the throne room. "And why the throne room? We hardly use the damn place."

Mara put a hand on his arm. "Tommy, you'll be still one of the most powerful men in the country, and you get your marriage. Don't fret my dear..."

"We cannot do without you," said Prince Enoch in agreement. "But I have voiced my own protest..."

"You will always have my love and gratitude..." Mara insisted. She met her mother's eyes across the room. Her mother, Princess Jocasta, Colonel Horvath, their followers.

"Send Horvath to Arcologia or somehing," Lalery said. "Do that for me."

"Are you happy that you have permission to marry Caroline?" Mara asked him.

He took a deep breath. "She'd better be worth it." He looked at Mara. "You look like a Queen at last. it's funny how such things work. I believe it, right now. The flummery."

Mara stared at him. "It's not flummery. It's God's will."

Across the room, Queen Dowager Rebecca drew on her last puff of a cigarette before nodding to her maids to finish putting on her golden mask, so that she and the other women who were no the Queen were either naked and painted servants or were golden masked women in crimson robes. "Let's just get this over with," she said, unconsciously echoing Lalery. "Of all the people...why aren't you angry?" she demanded of her younger daughter.

"I'm getting what I want gradually. What is best for the country," said Princess Jocasta in a muffled voice. "Be of good cheer, mother. At least we got what we want to some exent."

Salvation is at hand, praised be the name of the Lord, intoned cantors in the chapel of Betharan Palace. These clerics had been praising God in shifts for hours for the recovery of the King and Queen, and incense had covered the path between the ranks of courtiers, clergy and military commanders as the Queen, wearing a hair veil of golden discs and a gown likewise, her feet bare and treading in the dust of the incense, walked beside the King, who wore his ceremonial feahered and armoured regalia, a naked sword leaning on his shoulder as they walked solemnly between the praising ranks.

They took their seats upon the ancient throne of David the Lawgiver--a rebuilt seat, for the Cornellians had defiled it during the conquest. Fully restored, it was a simple carved set of thrones made from polished granite, the stone of the land. Some of the stones bore ancient stains where Solomon the First had been stabbed with many blades. It had, beneath it, a crypt where the skulls of ancient kings and queens and princes were buried and consecrated.

"Beloved subjects," said Queen Mara in a ringing but trembling voice. "We give thanks to God for the recovery of my beloved husband, and for our joy at the prosperity and success of our land."

"Amen," said King Elijah. "And we have come to a decision about several matters of great importance. First , we have decided to appoint a President of the Council of Ministers. We thank Count Beroth for his excellent work, and we grant him the Order of the Star of Saint Joseph First Class, our highest honour. And we are happy to appoint General Adam Nicanor President of the Council of Ministers, for his experience, loyalty and faithfulness."

General Nicanor stepped forward, wearing a full dress uniform which suited his bulky figure well, gleaming with gold epaulets and braid, glittering medals on his broad chest. It was a bit of an effort for him to kneel with his belly, knees, back and age in general, so he bowed deeply instead. He said nothing, for this was correct, but kept his head lowered. His eyes were seen to gleam with tears--of gratitude, natural eye watering, or what emotion no one was quite sure.

Other appointments were called out. Count Lalery's request to marry Princess Caroline of Ghant was accepted. And following this, with great ceremony, the procession depared, the court bowing again accompanied by hymns. Once out of hte throne room the congery of higher courtiers gave a collective groan, collapsing onto chairs and benches, wrenching off masks or feathered headresses and sighing with relief, cigarettes and hip flasks coming out.
Last edited by New Edom on Tue Apr 18, 2017 6:20 pm, edited 3 times in total.
"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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Leasath
Chargé d'Affaires
 
Posts: 385
Founded: Aug 06, 2006
Anarchy

Postby Leasath » Sun Apr 23, 2017 8:38 pm

Hôtel Avoinet, Saint-Nazaire, Vannois
11:04 AM Vannoisian Standard


"Party whip, come along now, party whip, make way," a main called, parting the small sea of politicians, journalists, guardsmen, and assorted others that were not-so-subtly loitering outside the Prime Ministerial residence of Hôtel Avoinet. Often a deceptively quiet street -- the incumbent resident of the house despised allowing his colleagues and others entering from the front, as they usually were sure to showboat -- the home of Avoinet was thronged with a menagerie of Vannoisians. There were leftist protesters, reportedly sent by one of Élaine Vaillancourt's Vannois First unions; near them but not so close as to cause harm were a smaller, though still vocal group of conservative supporters shouting slogans and the occasional insult at their ideological adversaries. There, too, were journalists capturing photographs of the entire mess, halted cars and awkward politicians trying to make their way to the home of government.

"If you don't make way, I swear, I'll have you arrested madame." A loud, powerful voice rang out like a clarion bell, and for the moment those closest to the wrought iron gates tipped with spikes were quieted. "The party whip must be allowed into the residence, we can't allow this --"

"Please, Richard," a rather more quiet, almost svelte voice came from behind the large guardsman, who stepped aside grudgingly. Behind him was the rather remarkably well put together (considering the crowd he had just been dragged through) Florent Popelin, smiling benignly. "If you would just step aside, madame, I really ought to get inside. Really, just for a moment. Important matters of state and all..." He trailed, noticing the continued foul look on the face of the female protester, and glanced at his hulking guardian. Returning his eye contact to the young woman, the implication was obvious. She seemed to deflate.

"Come along, now," Richard the guardsman made again to move her, and she stepped out of the way on her own. Popelin noted her attire -- some anti-homophoibia slogan slapped on the front of a bright pink shirt and, of course, a massive phallus on the rear. He resisted the urge to shake his head, maintaining a smile until he and Richard had passed the gates guarded by a further two guardsmen, and allowing his face to drop.

"Unbelieveable," he muttered, moving quickly to make up for lost time as he entered the unlocked front door of the Hôtel Avoinet; odds were that the first mark of the day had already arrived, and he would be late to assist Jean-Christophe, but he was not especially worried. For all his faults and failures, the Duke of Périnesse-Toucourt could do nothing better than inspire loyalty within his often drifting flock. Really, Florent was just here to keep up appearances for the job of chief whip.

It seemed his analysis of the situation was correct as the politician hung a quick right and entered the mostly empty cabinet room, where he noticed the Prime Minister talking boisterously with one Thomas Dubois, a first-termer from north Saint-Nazaire. Dubois had been a surprise addition to the parliamentary delegation when he had won one of the UMP's traditional blood-letting districts there; Saint-Nazaire was often wholly a socialist affair, so to win something outside the realm of safe seats (especially considering the party had lost over half a dozen in the 2013 election in the first place) was quite the coup.

Of course, Dubois was not perfect. He was no veteran, being in his early thirties now and only experience with his one rather lucky campaign. Additionally, he was all too aware of his constituency base; dissatisfied with years of socialist misrule, the people of his arrondissement were always pushing for him to keep to the left of his conservative party. For that Popelin did not envy nor pity him; his seat was already all but lost in next year's general elections to this new-look Vannois First nonsense, so now it was the goal to keep him docile within parliament long enough to see the back of him.

"I completely understand, Thomas, I do," the Prime Minister was saying with a small smile. Ever the showman, he had sat Dubois in his usual chair, central to the great embossed wooden table that served for countless cabinet meetings. "We are always going to be fighting for seats we hold, especially in places that we were lucky to get such excellent candidates first try," he lied through his teeth, as Popelin smiled to himself. "In exchange for that, though, you know what we need from you. There's a reason we haven't lost a vote since you joined up, you know!" The smile on the Prime Minister's face, accompanied by a small laugh, was rather infectious, and even Dubois was grinning despite himself. The young man was just as impressionable as any new politician, which Dammartin had obviously banked on; the chief whip mentally applauded the man's ability to do his job.

"Of course, sir, and I know we're all proud of that record," the younger man piped up, sounding a tad conciliatory despite a smile still playing with the corners of his mouth. "It's just -- you know as well as I, my margin of victory was less than a thousand votes in 2013 and that was against a lame duck for all intents; now Vaillancourt and her cronies are threatening to put up a half-decent candidate and I'm more than a touch worried..."

"Come now, Thomas, I can assure you better than anyone that you have no need to be so fraught over this!" Jean-Christophe's infectious grin was back, and he clapped a hand on the younger man's shoulder. "The economy is in a great place, better than ever for all of Saint-Nazaire, your district included. There aren't any of those damn social protesters outside the district headquarters there, either, as they've all seemed to congregate here the past few weeks," the Prime Minister gestured out the nearby window dismissively, "and you are, if I might say, quite the well-beloved candidate within the party. I'm sure that if the worst was to happen we could find a safe seat out east somewhere for someone with your caliber of ability." Once again Dammartin was lying through his teeth, and Popelin could do nothing but watch as the younger man ate up the falsities.

"You- sir, that is great praise, coming from you. I know that I've been a massive admirer of you since I went to university, you spoke once at my --"

"Yes, yes, at IU Libéliard, wasn't it? An excellent school, putting out more and more formidable minds each year, yours among them my good man," Dammartin said, standing, and both men were grinning; Dammartin at his impending success, and Dubois at the sheer flattery shown to him -- all of a lowly back-bencher among the 325 MPs in government. "Right, now, I can assure you that we'll absolutely be fighting for your seat next May. You needn't worry a bit, really. If anything you'll be back on the shortlist for the first by-election we come by!" The Prime Minster was ushering the young man towards Popelin and the exit.

"Yes, sir, of course; I'll... I can promise my support for the forces bill as soon as it's tabled in committee, sir. I'll even speak about it at my constituency residence if you think that would --"

"It would most certainly help, my friend! Your speech-making skills are excellent, I'm sure it would provide a great boon to hear your voice on the subject. 'Future of the Popular Movement,' that's something they might just start calling you if you play your cards right," Dammartin winked at his old colleague as they passed him by, and the Prime Minister quickly made his goodbyes with the young MP before returning to the cabinet room with a smile still playing at the corners of his mouth.

"Excellent as always, sir," Florent said, shaking hands strongly with the Prime Minister before both moved to different sides of the table; Dammartin to his customary seat so recently occupied by the obviously doomed Thomas Dubois, Florent to a seat directly across from him often taken by the Treasury Secretary. "I don't think we'll have anything to worry out of that one until we start getting prospective polling for the generals after that performance."

"No, I don't think so either," Périnesse-Toucourt responded, taking up a folder on the desk before him and flipping it open to find a short few paragraphs on the young politician that had just left the room. He took the page and crumpled it, throwing it to a trash can nearby before refocusing on the next individual that was to come by their presence. "I do almost regret having to praise IU Lib, as it is the weakest IU school, but I suppose it beats going foreign for one's education..." The Prime Minister absorbed some of the information on the page as he trailed off, and Popelin took a moment to review a similar looking document on the same individual.

Part of their two-pronged attack, Dammartin was all praise and reassuring helpfulness; worried about a challenger in the next general election, or being doused in flour at a constituency meeting over the course of the next week? The Prime Minister was here to tell you that all would be well, that even if you were attacked with flour your assaulter would be arrested in minutes, and that really, the opponent rumored for your seat was just a flip-flopping weakling.

Now, that worked on its own for young, impressionable minds. Thomas Dubois seemed barely out of secondary school to both Dammartin and his colleague, and they were often the most prone to taking the Prime Minister at his word. Popelin could not even blame them -- the Duke of Périnesse-Toucourt in his element was a sight to see, and generally what had won him the position he now held after the death of Stephan de Renauer. It was the older, veteran minds that needed a little more stick than carrot; Popelin was called in to deal with rebellious junior ministers at times, but the real issue was the established members of the party. Those that sat in the first row of the second column of seating at Parliament were often brought in for his and the Prime Minister's practised ministrations. They were often the greatest rebels, but really they only could control themselves and their little sect of radical followers, whether they be far-right or centre-left.

Though it occurred far less often, Popelin and Dammartin also always were sure to team together when faced with the prospect of a rebellious or angry cabinet secretary. Most recently had been last August, when one Gauthier Favre -- then the uppermost undersecretary for Sardou's Treasury ministry -- had decided that he was not in fact all too interested in working a sub-cabinet role. Considering the importance of the ministry in which he had measurable influence, he had warranted a dual-pronged attack for his transgressions. Accused of attempting to usurp Sardou through gathering loyal civil servants around both men, Favre had -- after almost three hours of what basically amounted to a good cop, bad cop routine -- caved to the politically dangerous acts.

For his troubles, instead of being banished to the back-benches, Favre had been 'granted a second chance' by the Prime Minister with his immediate appointment to the ministry of Culture, Media and Sport as cabinet-level Secretary there. The man had next to no experience with any of the three main aims of the smaller ministry, and had most recently been accused of bungling a major Ligue 1 match between the two Saint-Nazaire clubs in the top Vannoisian league by anticipating far lower amounts of fans in attendance than had actually shown up. Through this, he allowed Dammartin -- kindly and merciful as he had been just last August in forgiving the man -- to make allusions to a change already being needed at the top of the ministry in order to right things. As such, he was able to control almost every member of his cabinet with increasingly benign-looking actions.

Popelin was, of course, a great fan of this; it certainly made him glad to keep on as Whip rather than join the cabinet in any form, that was certain. He did not have the strength or record of Jean-Yves Nicollier nor the youthful hopefulness of Jacques Sardou in order to protect him from Dammartin's unwitting omnipresence. No, he was quite happy where he was in the hierarchy of government.

"... Are you well-prepared for this one, Florent? I know Dubois was just one to get me into the right frame of mind..." Dammartin spoke, glancing up at Popelin over the document in front of him. "I'm sure we can take this together, but he knows I am fond of him."

"I wouldn't worry, Prime Minister. He knows that he owes his position to you. I'd hope that he'll simply air his grievances so that we can put them aside. If we're able to distract him with something else pertaining to his ministry, that would probably be our best shot at alleviating any 'democratic deficit' he may feel exists at the moment." Florent shut his folder, setting it and his reading glasses on the table before him. "I do admit, though, that I was surprised to hear that he would lead this little cadre rather than approach you or the cabinet directly. I does not seem like him to avoid you, though perhaps we were slightly off on the growth of his leadership acumen since the last generals."

"I think you may have hit the nail on the head there, frankly," the Prime Minister replied, leaning away from the table into the high-backed and padded chair he occupied. "I have thought about it, but there's simply no way that I would leave before the election is run, and after that I am almost mandated to remain on for roughly half the term. I realize I am on the older side -- 63 is not, in fact, the new 43, apparently -- but I had assumed that he knew that much."

"I'd think he does, sir. Just antsy to start his little reign, you know? I would say that it can't be easy, but you know as well as anyone what it is like to be waiting in the wings as it were," Popelin replied, checking the time on his watch. "Treasury is easily the best position for him until he moves to take control of the Party, and we all know this; perhaps this is a cover for some foreign policy idea he has had? I know he and Jean-Yves don't exactly get on..."

"Pah," Dammartin waved a hand at the mention of his old friend and party president, "Jean-Yves doesn't want to acknowledge the party is moving on from he and I. The man is too used to hearing my name -- his own name, too -- synonymous with 'the future.' He's been excellent, I know he has, but not cozying up to Jacques has left him in the same boat as I when I leave this residence."

"He's been the architect of quite a few majorities, now. 2006, 2009, 2013. I'd hope the record continues in 2018... You don't think he has a greater future at party headquarters?" Popelin questioned, and now they were really just off track, but he could not help himself. To think of the end of the Dammartin era brought some nostalgia and a bit of sadness; to contemplate a day without Jean-Yves Nicollier running the party, however, that was rather crushing if anything.

"Not with Jacques Sardou as Prime Minister, I don't. He's managed to remain party president and election coordinator in addition to his role in cabinet. I don't really know how he does it, but it's made him a few more enemies than friends and Sardou is one of them. No, I think Jean and I will likely be saying goodbye to this particular office at the same time," the Prime Minister said, not without a small, rueful smile on his face, before both men heard the front door open and close nearby. Immediately the two straightened, with the Prime Minister handing off his folder of profiles to Popelin and replacing his reading glasses in a small, discreet compartment just before him in the desk. The two were just standing as Jacques Sardou entered the room, a grimace on his face turning into a smile as he regarded the Prime Minister.

"Sir, I'm glad to see you well," Sardou said, stepping forward as Dammartin did the same. The two shook hands strongly, and the Treasury Secretary turned to the chief whip. "Florent, a pleasure, as always." The two also shook hands, and the Prime Minister offered his protégé a seat across from him, next to the whip.

"Glad to see you as well, Jacques, though you wound me lately," the Prime Minister maintained his smile, though it became imperceptibly sharper as he spoke. "The defence bill, as you well know, is going to be the first in a series of acts central to the election campaign. This is just the beginning, and yet you're all over Le Cit leading some kind of rebellion. It isn't a good look, my friend."

"Prime Minister, I assure you, I did not leak any of the information Le Cit has myself," Sardou replied, settling quickly into a more defensive mode of thought. "I only spoke of my concerns with a few individual MPs, people I can trust-"

"I wouldn't trust so easily then, Jacques. Thomas Dubois was already through here, Olivier Jacquinot will be in after this chat, and the rest of your gang is scheduled to report to the Avoinet over the course of the week. You really ought to shoot higher than the furthest back-benchers, mister Secretary," Florent said, hands clasped on the table before him as he turned to look at Sardou. "We'd have hoped you would bring your concerns here, where you are in a position of not insignificant power and friends with people who have even more than that."

"I have real concerns that were shared by my fellow members of parliament, Florent, sir," Jacques said, his voice remaining level. "There are real reasons to be worried as to what this defence bill will do to the rest of the budget -- something I am extremely invested in, as I am sure you can both imagine -- and there are already being questions asked as to why there is a need for a greater increase when we're already building the Charles XII-class carriers."

"Yes, those questions being asked by you," Popelin muttered, as the Prime Minister leaned forward to speak.

"I understand your concerns, Jacques, but that is why you are my Treasury secretary. If you don't bring up these concerns at cabinet meetings, there's really nothing I can do. Jean-Yves and I are quite concerned as to Edomite presence in Latium, not to mention the ever present Akai and Rietumimark threats. The Southern Belisarian Community's military capability's are cut by a third with Latium as it is anyway; we must compensate for all of these things." The Prime Minister spoke earnestly, and Popelin could see no traces of a lie here. It seemed the real reasons behind the policy were simply varied, rather than non-existent as the shadow Treasury and Foreign secretaries had alleged and as the actual Treasury secretary had obviously feared. "We aren't just trying to begin an arms race, or throw money that could be going into cutting taxes towards something worthless. I'm sure you can understand that much."

"I..." Sardou sighed, shaking his head. "I am still going to be the face of this, you understand. Theron is Defence secretary, but he doesn't speak as to their budget. Additionally, what if this increase does necessitate a tax increase? Whether it is sales or something else, that will torpedo any popularity we might gain from our base for 'protecting interests abroad.'"

"There won't be a tax increase, I can tell you that much," Périnesse-Toucourt replied. "In fact, I can guarantee it. It is not the policy of this government to take any more from the people than is necessary to run our operations."

"You say that, sir, but how else are we going to pay for --"

"Come now, Jacques, it's not all that difficult," Popelin said, waving a hand. "You are Treasury Secretary. Think. What parts of last year's budget did you mark for cuts if necessary? I am sure you can remember."

"Education, Healthcare, Administration generally..." Sardou began, trailing off after a moment. "You want to cut the National Health Service going into an election year? Sir, this is utter -"

"If necessary, Jacques. Not without lengthy thought and contemplation. We are not a bunch of amateur just-out-of-opposition fools, and this is not the government of an ideologue like Astier," Dammartin said. "You will be in each conversation every step of the way, you know it. This has as much to do with you as any other undertaking we have had in this parliament. We're the Conservatives; we don't raise bloody taxes, and we're not foolish enough to cut something sixty percent or more of Vannoisians support going into the general election." He folded his hands on the table, leaning forward to look at Sardou earnestly. "This is aimed at promoting safety and security in Vannois and protecting her interests abroad when necessary. Nothing more, but certainly nothing less either. It is vital that we are secure in this manner, Jacques. You know as well as I just what people could inadvertently stir up without a thought. We'll not regress to recession if we can avoid it."

"Yes, sir. I am... I am sorry, for doubting you and this government. It was foolish of me to try to organize anything," Sardou sighed, and Dammartin stood with his customary grin, all-forgiving.

"Don't fret over it for a moment, Jacques. You are simply eager for your shot. I understand -- I was the same way with poor old Stephan and Jean-Yves was, if you can believe it, just as bad with the leadership council back in '03," the Prime Minister replied, tone upbeat. Jacques and Florent had stood as well, the former with a shaky smile and the latter with the realization that the Prime Minister really could just do his job for him as the three moved to stand together at the head of the table. "Look. I'll arrange a special committee meeting on the whole issue, you can invite your backbench friends and I'll attend in order to answer any questions your lot might have. Let nobody say this government is anything but transparent, hmm?"

"Y-yes, sir, of course," Sardou said, and the two shook hands with near-matching smiled. Popelin stayed to the side, obviously not a favorite of Sardou either and not wishing to interrupt the Prime Minister's flow. "I'll get on just how and where we can start trimming the budget in order to fund a defence increase, and work with Theron on new orders for whatever equipment this will pay for."

"Excellent, Jacques, excellent. I am eager to see what you and your ministry can bring to the table at the next cabinet meeting," Dammartin replied, and subtly he was once again ushering his guest to the exit of the residence. Sardou was always one to linger in what could be his future home. "Once that is done, perhaps, a speech in the commons or otherwise about your support for the measures we will be taking, yes?"

"Of course, sir. Thank you," the Treasury Secretary replied, and soon enough the two were exchanging pleasantries and goodbyes. Popelin nodded his head with a small smile on his face when Sardou made to bid his goodbyes upon the whip, and quickly he was left once again with the Prime Minister.

"Sir?"

"Quite good that was, Florent. Needs a little more instruction on backbone, of course, but that can wait until I'm out of government, God willing," Dammartin laughed, striding back to the cabinet room. "What's next, then?"

"Right, yes, sir," Popelin replied. "Ah, another lower level person, though this woman is apparently a junior minister under Mallet in Interior..."
Seredinia | Yavorstrana
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The Shrailleeni Empire
Minister
 
Posts: 2627
Founded: Oct 06, 2011
Mother Knows Best State

Of Goddess and God-Emperor

Postby The Shrailleeni Empire » Fri Apr 28, 2017 10:06 pm

Chambers of the Curia, Magus Civitas
Imperium of Arbites Materia


It had been nearly a quarter-century since the last time a Shrailleeni had set foot in the Chambers of the Curia. Compared to the mighty New Serrice Cathedral, the Chambers were contained in an unassuming building of new-style architecture, though decorated with distinctly gothic-esque reliefs of somber human figures and Cetian animals. At the center of the courtyard was a statue of a bearded, armored man who Shrailleeni knew by knowledge if not by sight to be Saint Carlos of Laracia. In ancient times the Laracians and the Shrailleeni had been locked in bitter conflict with one another, a history mostly forgotten in Shrailleeni except by those who studied such things.

The meeting room to which the Shrailleeni ambassador and her entourage had been so expertly guided to by the honor-guard was splendid in its furnishing, hardwood floors and an antique table surrounded by comfortable-looking chairs, a landscape painting seeming oddly secular over an empty fireplace. They were accompanied by Cardinal Meyers, who had met them at the airport and escorted them through the city.

A small group of Arbiters, which seemed to include both servants and lower-level members of the Curia, awaited the Shrailleeni in this room. Of the group, two were dressed in red and black robes of a much higher quality than anyone else in the room, and were of venerable age. The cardinals were instantly recognizable to the Shrailleeni. There was Cardinal Robertson, standing tall, eyes piercing as he appeared to weigh the Shrailleeni as a kalko cock measured the intentions of a potential rival. Robertson gave them a hard look, and then uttered a brief prayer to his Emperor of Men. Ambassador Della had mentally prepared to meet this man who was well-known to the Shrailleeni government, but seeing him in person caused her to offer her own silent prayer to the Mother of All for strength.

The second, more amiable looking but moving in a much more fragile way than his companion, was Cardinal Long. He was by far the most internationally recognizable of the Curia, and also its most senior member. He, at least, appeared to welcome Della's arrival more than his military-minded compatriot.

Cardinal Meyers motioned to the group of Shrailleen. "Your Graces, may I present Ambassador Della Fallatel of the Shrailleen Empire. Ambassador, Cardinal Robertson and Cardinal Long."

Cardinal Long then spoke. "Ambassador, your arrival here will hopefully begin the restoration of full diplomatic ties between the Empire and the Imperium. We welcome you and the rest of your delegation to Magus Civitas. Will you sit down?"

The ambassador bowed to the two Cardinals in the traditional Shrailleeni manner, eyes closed with head bent low at the neck, right hand upon her chest and the left offered palm-out in an elegant, practiced movement.

"Cardinal Long, Cardinal Robertson, on behalf of Her Enlightened Majesty the Mother Empress Chella Resyanna fe Shrailleen, I am honored to be welcomed to your honorable chambers and to your beautiful city. I am humbled by your hospitality."

Only then did she take the offered seat at the table, the only member of the Shrailleeni party to do so. The rest of the Shrailleeni observed stoically but calmly.

Since the formation of Arbites Materia and its recognition by the Enlightened Matriarchy its hard-line religious fervor, anti-Leenic statements and machinations, abysmal human rights record, and expansionist worldview had clashed often with the Empire's own regional ambitions. The current Mother Empress had ordered the previous Shrailleeni embassy closed in 1995, in protest against the actions of the Inquisition. The incident in Krutongo, which had seen savage fighting between Leenic and Magi partisans supported by Shrailleen and Arbites respectively, had made relations between the two nations even worse.

But much could change in short period of time. Now Arbites was an ally of New Edom, Shrailleen's oldest ally even if their relationship had become strained following the rise of the monarchists. They were also both members of FODE, an organization vital to each of their economies. And Shrailleeni diplomatic power, its primary weapon in regional politics, could not function in a nation with whom it had no formal diplomatic exchange. And so Ambassador Della Fallatel was in Magus Civitas, to attempt to bridge a gap widened by decades of mutual distrust and suspicion. No easy task, to be sure.

On the journey to the Chambers, Cardinal Meyers and General Curas had spoken about the need to the Imperium to defend Magi across the region who had no other defender, and of the necessity of using force to maintain order and peace in a vast land. Their words had drawn contemplative silence from Della, who saw in them an eerie forecast of things to come. She wondered if Cardinal Meyers would soon understand her previous quiet when at last she had spoken her piece.

The Shrailleeni woman, small, dark-skinned, and round-faced, was not an imposing figure. Still, she sat upright and full of the authority vested in her by the Mother Empress, a seasoned diplomatic and a worldly woman by Shrailleeni standards. Her soft green eyes looked upon the Cardinals before her, the hard eyes of Robertson and the softer gaze of Long, before she spoke again.

"Cardinals, Her Enlightened Majesty has asked me to begin by conveying to you this truth: that a wise woman does not dwell in the past, but rather draws upon it to seek instead the future. The two nations which we represent at this table today have not always agreed, and perhaps have treated one another as something less than friends. But we are connected, by history and by fate, and we must draw on this connection in order to build a peaceful and prosperous future for our peoples. Her Enlightened Majesty has not forgotten how Imperium vessel agreed to come to our aid in the Brief War, and conveys her gratitude."

"The Allied States of New Edom is the Shrailleeni Empire's oldest ally, for a century now we Children of the Mother Goddess and they, Christians, have placed our differences aside in order and flourished in friendship and prosperity. Now you, the Curia of the Magi, have found allies in New Edom as well. If this can be so, then surely we two may yet find friendship with one another?"

"Through our economic union too we find common ground. Membership in FODE enriches both of our countries, our cooperation within it unites the welfare of our nations and brings us closer together. Shrailleeni and Arbiter engineers have begun to work together to help lead our nations into future prosperity. Surely this cooperation can continue and expand, to the benefit of all?"

"Here, in this historic meeting, Her Enlightened Majesty hopes to begin charting a new future, one based on knowledge, understanding, compassion, and peace."
أدرس اللغة العربية وهي لغة جميلة
Mother of One, Mother of All
Ask Me Anything IC
Come to the Mother's Embrace
New Edom wrote:Elizabeth Salt remarked, "It's amazing, isn't it, you rarely see modern troops that wear their 19th century uniforms and gear so well--they must drill all the time. Is this a guards outfit?"

Sif said to her, "This is a modern Shrailleeni Empire military parade. Like as in this is what they wear, this is what they use. This is it."

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Free Garza
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Lust, Pride, and Wrath.

Postby Free Garza » Tue May 02, 2017 8:21 pm

Ciudad de Garza, Free Garza, 20 February, 2017
Private Estate of HRH Princess Rosa FitzRaymond

(Co-written with Ghant)

Rosa had agreed to host this meeting for reasons known only to her, of course, with the object being, from her side, finding a husband for Blanca, her youngest sister, who also happened to be the widow of the Boy General, Perrin Pahath-Moab of New Edom. Rosa had invited key members of the larger family, of course, especially from House Gentry, to help see to this match. Blanca needed a husband, after all. She had been a widow for roughly two years now and that was long enough, ever since the then military dictator and President of the Council of the Allied States of New Edom, the father of her young son Stephen, had been killed in the collapse of Fineberg Stadium.

From the Garzan side of the family were not only Rosa, but her Aunt Isabel, now doing better thanks to complete sobriety, her older sister Princess Maria of Dakmoor, her Aunt Dora, Blanca herself, Princess Adela of Vorindeum, and, naturally, His Catholic Majesty, King Diego IV of Free Garza, with his nurse, Sandra Velasco, present ostensibly for “reasons of health.”

Also present was Maria’s husband, Crown Prince Martin of Dakmoor, and their three children. There were the older twin sisters Isabella and Valencia, now almost two years old, and the infant Catalina, who was two months old. They all had the jet black hair of their father and varying shades of blue eyes, as their parents both shared the same eye color. Martin kept the twins close to him, while Catalina was with her mother.

“Martin, do you have any thoughts on Prince Bryan? I just want Blanca here to be happy, after all. She won’t be happy unless she has a husband who will notice her more often than he does his dog,” Maria asked her husband’s view of things, “She’s definitely not going to be happy as an Ohaide, so that will not happen to her.”

The Dakmaran Prince scratched the underside of his chin as he contemplated the question. “He’s...a...how do I put this...an interesting guy,” he answered candidly. “Something of an eccentric, though he’s down to earth. Talented musician, stays out of trouble, keeps a low profile...that sort of thing. Granted I don’t know him terribly well, because they weren’t around all that much.” He had a firm hold on Isabella, but Valencia got away from him, the latter running in her violet dress and pouncing on her uncle Diego.

Diego laughed and picked up his niece, holding her close to him for a second. He ruffled her hair and then handed her back to her father, “As long as he treats my sister well, that’s all that I ask. I just don’t want more Perrin treatments.”

“Hello, I am still right here!” Blanca reminded them.

Martin was aware that Bryan’s name was being tossed around, mostly as a result of the Ghantish and Garzan royal families discussing matches. Bryan for his part would be arriving shortly along with his sister Cassandra and their great-aunt Bessie, who would be escorting them. Blanca’s prospects were low, given that she was a widowed mother, and yet the prospect of a marriage to a member of the Ghantish Imperial family was well worth considering.

“We are aware that you are right here, dear. It’s just that we’re concerned about you,” Rosa assured her, “And you are the youngest, so naturally we’re looking out for you.”

Soon enough, Bessie arrived with Cassandra and Bryan in tow. The Queen Dowager of Garza wore loose, comfortable dresses by and large, this one being no exception, a mixture of beige and burgundy fabric. Cassandra on the other hand appeared as gaudy as ever in a long platinum gown with a large diamond necklace, her brown hair falling gently down past her shoulders.

As for Bryan, he wore a casual smoking jacket and slacks, and resembled his older sister for the most part, the same brown eyes and hair, though his was a tad bushier. He was clean-shaven, and flashed crooked teeth through a slanted smile as he inclined his head towards his Garzan relations. None of them were strangers to one another, and for what it was worth, this was essentially a family affair.

“Welcome, Your Highnesses, to my villa. Welcome, Grandma. How are you today?” Rosa greeted them all, though her welcome was a bit cooler for Cassandra, not quite approving of her conniving ways.

“Grandma, cousins!” Blanca greeted them with light kisses, all of them chaste except for the fact that she kissed Bryan briefly on the lips, albeit with no tongue yet.

Diego’s eyebrow raised a little, even as he greeted his grandmother and their cousins, followed by Maria giving them all a nice hug. Sandra stood off to the side, not wishing to make a scene right then. This was no time and place for a royal mistress to assert paramour’s rights, was it?

As Bessie, Cassandra and Bryan took their seats, the younger Princess of Ghant looked around the room as she brushed her luxuriant brown hair behind her shoulders. She noticed Sandra, and slowly her gaze turned to Diego. “Is it necessary for her to be here, Diego?”

“She is my nurse, cousin. I wouldn’t ask you if it was necessary to have staff with you, and neither should you ask it of me,” Diego quipped.

Cassandra snorted. “She’s also a whore and a jew, and her presence here is disrespectful.”

Bessie was usually quiet during her grandson’s official state business, but now she spoke. “Diego, do you remember how it made me feel when your grandfather flaunted his...women around court during royal business? Do any of you remember?”

“I remember,” Cassandra nodded. “Though perhaps some apples don’t fall very far from the tree…”

“I am not my grandfather, I do not diddle children, and I will not stand for anti-Semitic remarks! I loathe anti-Semites with a passion! As for Sandra, she has a legitimate, professional function here, unrelated to any private ones. Since this is Rosa’s estate, however, it’s really up to Rosa to ask her to be sent away with the peasants, as you seem to wish, cousin! I meant no offense to you, of course, Grandmother. But I do resent anti-Semitism, I resent an insult to my nurse, and I definitely resent the inference that because she is not of royal blood and not my legal wife, Sandra is a puta, when in fact, she’s a very kind, decent, and loving woman, the mother of one of my children, who just happens to be a sinner like the rest of us. We all have our sins, do we not? Some, for instance, dabble in court intrigues and conspire with foreigners against their Emperor,” Diego observed, “Excuse me, I will discuss this with Rosa and see what she wishes. It’s her home. And then I will grab a smoke. This conversation is not helping my efforts to quit smoking.”

“Conspiring against the Emperor eh? Good thing I don’t know anyone like that,” Cassandra said with narrowed eyes glancing at Maria. “Do as you will, Diego, but remember what sort of example you are setting for your son, and your nieces.”

Martin nodded at this, and while having kept quiet up to this point to spare his wife’s dignity, said to her that “I don’t want our girls to think that a husband’s infidelity is acceptable.”

“I don’t want my children to think that court intrigues and anti-Semitism are,” Diego remarked as he collected Rosa, “I love you and my sister, you’re family, but whatever you think of my marriage and my affairs, I am not going to treat Sandra as if she is a harlot when she is the mother of one of my children. I do not spend my days chasing skirts constantly. I have one wife and one woman who is essentially a concubine or an Ohaide, to use Ghantish terminology. In Garza, she’s what many kings have had, an official mistress. It’s quite accepted in existing custom.”

“True, but while they’re going to have to get used to your lady, being as you love her, just as you love Helga, and yes, brother, I know that you care about both of them, for the peace of the family, I will approach Sandra and ask her nicely to not attend this particular gathering. I regret having to do that and to hurt her, and I warn you, Cassandra, that this incident will probably come back to bite you in particular, seeing as my family doesn’t approve of anti-Semitism. Still, you are family, and Sandra’s child is yet unborn, so her formal role in the family is yet undefined. I will handle it. It won’t break her heart coming from me as much,” Rosa offered Diego, who nodded and walked away in a huff to get his cigarette.

“I know that I couldn’t handle Martin having an Ohaide, and I don’t know how Helga does it, but to be fair, Garzan princes and kings have been taking mistresses and concubines for ages. Alfonso the Liberator, for instance. Even so, I understand your point, mi esposo, my love, just as I understand that for Diego, it’s very tough for him to treat Sandra simply as a mistress and dismiss her from polite company, since she’s carrying one of his children, just as Helga is,” Maria observed.

“For me, I love them all. And Diego dotes on Helga far more, while having a mistress, than Perrin ever did on me without one,” Blanca observed, “Even so, I’m more concerned with you, Bryan. How are you today?”

“L...am a bit jew...I mean jet-lagged,” Bryan stammered. “Vodka helps me stay loose after a long flight. And yourself?” he asked her thoughtfully.

“Fairly well, though anti-Semitic remarks don’t play well here. Just my counsel. I like you, but I would ask you to keep that kind of talk to a minimum around here. There is still a lot of bad feeling about the Inquisition,” Blanca noted.

“Well, at least we know that our dear cousin Diego is circumcised,” sniggered Cassandra behind a fair feminine hand. “Because Jewish women won’t touch anything that isn’t 10% off…” At that, Bryan concealed laughter, though Martin and Bessie let out a little chuckle.

“Cousin, if I were you, I’d stop that cant in a hurry!” Rosa stormed off to deliver the bad news to Sandra...while she didn’t approve of what Diego and Sandra did, Diego was a law unto himself and her beloved big brother, and she loved Sandra for his sake, “Anti-Semitic jokes aren’t acceptable on my property, and while Raymond isn’t here to consult, I can promise you that he wouldn’t approve, either. I know my husband very well…..” she added as a Parthian shot.

“Yes, enough of this nonsense,” Bessie spoke firmly and looked at Cassandra and Bryan. “Let’s get on with it. Time to shit or get off the pot.”

Cassandra agreed. “Of course. Now Princess Blanca, as you know, it’s been...difficult to arrange a new marriage proposition for you following the death of late your late husband Perrin. At the very least, my brother Bryan here is interested in considering such a match, because he understands how critical ties between our houses are. Unlike some,” she finished with a glance towards Maria again.

“Some marry for alliances, but I never could. I have to be able to trust my husband. By the way, when are you tying the knot, cousin?” Maria snapped back, a bit annoyed now.

“...When the right opportunity presents itself,” replied Cassandra with polite indifference.

“What do I care about that? So, Bryan, I just want to know a few things. I’m a grown woman here, despite what others seem to think. If I was still a girl with romantic illusions, marriage to a cold fish like Perrin finished them off. I want to know if you will show me basic courtesy and respect, actually listen to me instead of ignoring me, will snuggle me now and then, will avoid hitting me, and will sire at least two children on me if you can. Oh, and if you’ll marry me in the Catholic Church. I’m done with marriages in other rites. Perhaps the lack of finality in the Apostolic Church was part of the problem. I don’t know. But this is my second marriage and this is what I care about. I’m not a virgin, obviously. I am a mother. You also would need to swear to treat my son well, as well as any children that we would have.”

Blanca was more direct and far less sweet than she used to be, because, underneath her girlish persona lay the heart of a wounded woman. She had been deeply hurt by how Perrin had treated her in the past and now it was coming up to the surface. She refused to ever deal with that kind of cold treatment ever again. Fuck fidelity….she could handle a dozen mistresses if the husband would give her a good morning kiss, a snuggle, a French kiss, and other signs of real warmth, even if not fully romantic. In her book, it was far worse to be with a cold fish than to be with a womanizer.

“Uh…” it took some time for Bryan to think of what to say. “Basic courtesy, yeah sure. I mean, yeah sure I’ll listen. I don’t hit women, not unless they ask for it. Just kidding...but really if you ask me to do something I’ll do it. Children? Yeah sure okay.” Bryan tapped his chin before asking,  “I’m sorry, what was the last one again?”

“A Catholic wedding. I’ve done a wedding in someone else’s church. My turn,” Blanca smiled, curious to see if Bryan really was worth marrying, despite his unfortunate anti-Semitic leanings.

“Oh right...well with all due respect…”  Bryan was unable to finish his sentence without interruption.

“Per the Decree of 1650,” Cassandra cut in. “Princes of the Ghantish Imperial family are discouraged from engendering Papism, otherwise punitive measures shall be exacted upon the offender. Therefore, while you may remain Catholic, your husband and children will not be. This is Imperial House law,” she explained.

“I’m not asking Bryan to convert. I’m simply pointing out that I already married once in a church that wasn’t mine,” Blanca, “As for children, fundamentally, they should pick their own religion, shouldn’t they? Ultimately, that is.”

“What about Ipargurutze?” Maria offered, “Can’t they wed in that church, which is neither Church of Ghant nor Catholic?”

“...How is that better than the Church of Ghant?” Bryan asked curiously.

“Well, it was a compromise idea. Not sure if it would work,” Maria noted, scowling at Cassandra.

Rosa, having returned from dealing with Sandra, wiped away her tears, “Bryan, do you want to marry Blanca? Yes or no. Be honest with us, if you don’t mind. If you want to marry her, we can make this work, as long as she wants to marry you.”

“...Uh, yeah sure,” Bryan responded casually. “I certainly wouldn’t mind, but as my sister said, the religion thing is a problem. I mean, I don’t really care either way about the whole getting married in whatever church thing, but there are ‘familial expectations’ at play here, so you know...I gotta be conscientious of that. You know what I mean?”

“On two conditions, then. I get to have a confessor and a Catholic chapel located somewhere in our residence. I think that quite reasonable for giving up on the requirements of my own faith, which expects me typically to marry within the Church and raise my children as good Catholics. This will be the second time that I have failed to do so, at peril to my own eternal soul. I think that’s a serious enough reason to have my own confessor, so as to be shriven as necessary for whatever sins may follow such a breach with the dogmas of Holy Mother Church,” Blanca offered what she thought the minimum that she would accept from Bryan, “Oh, and never utter an anti-Semitic word in my presence again. I do not care what you say to others when I am not around and I will not defy you generally, being a good and loyal wife. But I cannot condone anti-Semitic slurs spoken in my presence. My future niece or nephew will be part-Jewish, after all.”

“Hey, I’m not anti-semitic,” Bryan exclaimed with raised hands. “I have plenty of Jewish friends!”

“...You may have a confessor of the Catholic faith,” said Cassandra following a sigh.

“And a chapel?” Blanca narrowed her eyes a bit.

“That’s sensible, I would think,” Rosa said, trying not to think of Sandra, who had driven off from the estate to the neighboring villa that Diego granted her…...it was going to be rough at family gatherings in the future…..Cassandra would be a pariah at the Garzan court pretty soon, and the cabinet would probably think less of her, too.

“I would agree,” Diego said, fighting the urge to chase after Sandra, as well as to light up another cigarette, so he poured himself a brandy to steady himself…..he also narrowed his eyes a bit while looking at Cassandra and Bryan…..he wondered if he would dislike his next brother-in-law as much as he did Perrin.

Diego flatly refused to speak directly to Cassandra, at least for the moment. It would be a very long time before she was permitted to visit the Royal Valdez Palace, to say the least. He would be sure to tell Helga about the incident and get her reaction as well. Helga had never resented Sandra, so why should people be offended for her when she wasn’t offended herself? Diego was convinced that, at least for Cassandra, it was due to her anti-Semitism, and that wouldn’t fly with him. That probably wouldn’t over well with Helga, to put it mildly, especially given how chummy Sandra and she had been of late.

Maria saw the look on Diego’s face, as did Blanca, and both quickly did their best to get the focus back on the wedding plans…..a scowling Diego did not bode well for anything. The man might be a constitutional king, but he could still make an offending person’s life hell in nasty ways of his own, and he had a vindictive streak a mile long.

“So, that’s settled then, right? A Catholic chapel and confessor, and then we’re holding a Church of Ghant wedding, which would probably be in Ghant, since there aren’t any Churches of Ghant here in Garza. And what else? Shall we talk of the size of the wedding party?” Rosa interjected now, knowing that she was calmer than her sisters, Blanca or Maria.

“I would consider that matter settled, yes.” Cassandra seemed quite amused with herself, like a child who knew they’d gotten their way after pouting. “Weddings are brides’ affairs, and so that can be determined on your end. I’m sure between the lot of you and Aunt Bessie you can figure something out. Of course I’d also be more than happy to contribute to the wedding planning process,” she finished saying with a smile.

“So be it. I have more than a few ideas, and no doubt Grandmother can help more than a little with that,” Blanca told them as she gave Bryan a light peck on the lips, “Had to try that on for size.”

“No accounting for taste,” Diego muttered under his breath, as he shook the man’s hand with no real warmth at all…..anyone who looked into his eyes could see the hardness and coldness to it…...the man did not have a forgiving nature.

With that, Diego kissed his sisters and Grandmother lightly on the hand and then walked away in a huff, refusing to even acknowledge Cassandra or anyone else after that. He had a mistress to comfort and console.

“Well, sky blue or royal blue dresses?” Maria wondered, noting that the tension in the room had eased a bit.

“Royal blue is certainly your color,” Maria’s husband said to her as he bobbed the twins on his knees. “I think it would suit the rest of you as well…”

Bessie watched Diego go, but then she turned to her granddaughters and told them that “Diego seems...most displeased.”

“...He’ll get over it,” Cassandra replied curtly.

“I wouldn’t be too sure of that. You don’t know my brother very well, do you? Diego holds grudges like some people hold babies,” Rosa laughed, “And in case you forgot, he’s still King of this country, the one that you’re visiting right now. Just saying. Bad idea. Grandmother has some idea of what he’s like, but even so, I don’t think that any of you are up to date about how things are now, especially in the capital. You’re isolated here on this estate for now, but that’s not representative of how people are in the country at large.”

Cassandra casually shrugged, saying that “Oh I don’t forget a thing, Rosa...I happen to have the Ghantish court at my back, and I’d want nothing more than to go home and say nice things about our treatment in Garza. I think Diego wants that as well...Ghant is such an important ally to Garza, after all...”

“At any rate, royal blue it is, then,” Blanca agreed with a smile.

“Yes, royal blue,” Rosa smiled, rolling her eyes now, “Good thing that you didn’t choose white. It’s a bit too old-school for me.”

“Same here. Royal blue, as my husband suggested. And for the menfolk, dress uniforms if they have any in their respective countries. Who for groomsmen, anyway?” Maria asked aloud.

“...Uh…” Bryan tapped his chin and scratched his scalp for a few moments. “My brothers, Martin and Raymond I suppose. Possibly more depending on the number of bridesmaids.”

“My sisters for bridesmaids, of course, along with some of the Gentries. Not sure who else. Well, Helga, of course. She’s a given,” Blanca mused, “and maybe Queen Mara and Jocasta if they have time for it.”

“And some of the Ganosians, if they can behave themselves?” Rosa teased a bit.

Bessie coughed into her hand. “Better leave them out of it...best to stick with Maria, Rosa, Arietta and Helga, and possibly Willow, Cassandra and Anastasia.”

“I can see where this would lead, with Cassandra as a bridesmaid. Trouble in the family,” Maria snickered.

“Perhaps, though I suppose that it’s only right, even if it creates friction with my brother and tempts him not to attend. He’ll attend, even if he avoids a certain bridesmaid like the plague and takes his mistress with him as a calculated bit of payback,” Blanca fought back a giggle.

“Wouldn’t Helga come along, too?” Rosa noted.

“Yes, I think that she would be one of the bridesmaids and I insist on that. She’s my sister-in-law, after all. It could make things tense, though, since she’s very fond of Sandra,” Blanca admitted.

“Yes, they’ve already made plans to attend every christening together,” Maria agreed, “One of those moments when being a Protestant comes in handy. Speaking of which, how many more children do you want, Martin? I know that I want quite a few more myself. A lot more.”

“That’s our sister, a baby-making factory!” Rosa teased her a bit.

Martin flashed a bright white smile full of straight teeth. “As many as God allows, I suppose...or until you’re tired of it.”

“Maybe Bryan and I should try to compete, eh, Bryan?” Blanca teased him, “I’m still very young, after all.”

“What?” Bryan asked before shaking his head. “Oh yeah, right...um...sure Blanca.” he didn’t seem especially sure of himself in that area.

“Oh, relax, it will be fine! I know how to….do that. Been there before,” Blanca teased him with a wink, “You’ll be fine. I don’t bite. Much.”

Bryan cracked a grin. “That’s reassuring.”

Rosa and Maria both snickered at that last part, “Just don’t be a cold fish to her. She’s had one of those already. Perrin. He loved his dog more than he loved her…..and that really hurt.”

“Yes, it hurt me a great deal. I will not lie about that. What, did you not think that I knew?” Blanca choked back tears about what happened, or didn’t happen, with Perrin, namely any semblance of a true marriage in her eyes.

“Well, I know Martin…...and I will do my level best to keep popping out the babies for him, so that he doesn’t have time for other women. Just me and the brats,” Maria laughed, winking at Martin.

Martin laughed, replying with “You never know Maria, you might get tired of me eventually.”

“Never, my love. Never!” Maria told him with a very heated kiss in front of everyone, “I will never tire of you, and any women that wish that I would can eat their hearts out, because you’re mine, senor!”

“...So it seems that have reached a verbal agreement then,” Cassandra said as she stood up and cracked her knuckles. “No sense in letting this meeting any longer than it must...if you’d excuse me, I shall retire to my chambers.”

Bryan got up too, and scratched the stubble on his chin. “Yeah...I think that’s what I’m going to do as well. Try to get comfortable and all.”

Blanca then leaned in to whisper to him, “Look, you’re my intended now. Might as well get an early start on certain….aspects of marriage, if you know what I mean. I’m a widow and a mother. I don’t have a virginity to save for marriage. What do you say that we at least…...make out and pet, see what comes of things? I can’t promise further than that yet, but I won’t rule it out, either. I’d like to see how…..compatible we are in terms of physical intimacy.”

The Prince of Ghant looked at her with a blank face, before puckering his lips and blinking conspicuously. “With all due respect, Blanca, I’d prefer to do this the right way...if you know what I mean.” Bryan kissed her on both cheeks and bowed courteously, before turning to walk away.

Blanca frowned and thought aloud, “That won’t keep him from bedding other women. Just me, apparently. His intended. This won’t be easy on me as a widow, that is for sure.”

Maria, for her part, told Martin, “I think that Blanca is trying to entice Bryan into some sin there,” she said with a wink, “not that I mind. Widows don’t have time for virginal crap and sentimentality. As long as they marry before any children come due, who cares?”

“Well, that’s what we did,” Martin agreed. “Though it was noted that you had a swollen belly at our wedding.” Looking between their three daughters, the twins in his arms and the infant in hers, he smiled and added “we certainly made up for lost time, didn’t we?”

“Very much so, my dear. And for you, I’d scandalize them all over again,” Maria winked at him.

Rosa, meanwhile, spoke to Bessie, “I hope that you understand that I did what I must as hostess, to avoid any…..issues at this convocation. This doesn’t mean that I approve of expelling Sandra, who is pregnant to Diego, you know. Not that I would be okay with a mistress in my own marriage, but Helga isn’t me. She is fine with it herself and is actually fond of Sandra, though not more than platonically. I know that Grandfather upset you, but Diego isn’t Grandfather. He’s a lot nicer man, you know.”

Bessie exercised far less restraint than she did when Diego was still in the room. “That doesn’t excuse flaunting your mistresses at private royal functions. Your mother raised Diego better than that...hell, not even Nathan does that. It’s disrespectful and impolite, and quite frankly I’m embarrassed.”

“I respect your views and understand them, but try and understand that Sandra is effectively a bit more like an Ohaide than a mistress in the usual sense. She lives with Diego, works with him, and has an unborn child by him. Helga considers her family, just as Diego does. If Garza had Ohaides, Sandra would be Diego’s. It’s a bit closer than even the usual tradition of a royal mistress, which is an official position at the Garzan court. Still, I understand what you said, and out of respect for you in particular, I asked her to leave. I have to warn you, though, that more than a few people will take this very negatively. Sandra regularly attends events in Diego’s company and not even the clergy object to it. It’s the closest thing to polygamy that I’ve ever seen up close,” Rosa spoke calmly, in an even and friendly tone, but with a hint of warning.

“Cassandra made definite enemies today, though most of all with the anti-Semitic comments that she uttered today. Anti-Semitism is very taboo in Garza these days. It’s deemed a sign of provincialism and backwardness, among other things. And Diego in particular isn’t going to forgive her anytime soon.”

Bessie finally snorted at her granddaughter’s words. “Ohaidar is a barbarian practice that should be limited to northerlings at best, and I’ve never approved of infidelity beyond one’s Christian spouse. My mother and father didn’t do it, and that’s the example that I’ve tried to instill in my children and grandchildren. Clearly I’ve failed in that respect, but I’ll be damned if that sort of behavior is flaunted at court while I still draw breath. I suffered enough of it while Alfonso was still alive.”

“Grandmother, in my case, I don’t stray, nor does Raymond. Nor does Maria. Or Blanca, for that matter. Diego, well, is a virtuous man in every other respect, but that’s his vice. Everyone has vices. Some worse than others. And he doesn’t have any other women but Helga and Sandra these days, so it’s very limited compared to what it used to be. He’s not a womanizer of late. Is it a sin? Yes. But we all commit sins, at least in light of the Gospel. My point is that Diego is not a bad man, but he does have that flaw and it’s one that his wife accepts, as does much of his court. Having an official mistress is a Garzan custom, after all, at least for a King, and has been since at least Alfonso V. I’m not saying that it is good, but it’s considered more socially acceptable than anti-Semitism, for instance. Cassandra certainly made enemies. But, as I said, she’s not at the estate for now. She’s at his, and he’s probably consoling her for the pain that was caused her today, just so you know,” Rosa replied, as mildly as she might, of course.

“Official Mistresses is a practice that I’ve never approved of, and it’s a damn shame that such a practice exists in a Catholic nation!” exclaimed Bessie incredulously. “And if Diego had any common sense, none of that would have happened, now would it have?” she asked with folded arms. “All I hear are excuses, Rosa. Think about how it looks...nevermind to our relatives, but to the people. Do you think the good God-fearing people of this country want to see a King that parades his mistress around, a Jewish one at that? It’s an invitation for discontent with an already fickle populace. And make no mistake, Rosa...the people of Garza are a fickle lot. If you don’t think so, go visit your mother’s grave. Sometimes I wonder if Diego does as often as he ought to.”

“Grandmother, let’s not fight. But for the sake of peace, I’ll urge Diego not to use his estate for such meetings, and everyone can just meet here, since I’ve already banished her. Just know that to the average Garzan, keeping mistresses is not as offensive as anti-Semitism, at least these days. As for mother, Diego and I, among others, often visit her grave and it still hurts. This doesn’t change the likely banishment of Cassandra from the palace, just so you know. Angering the King is not a good idea, even for a royal cousin. This is all the more reason why my estate is neutral ground and the best location for such meetings, since Cassandra will still be allowed here, anti-Semitism notwithstanding. I can’t promise that some of the Jews on the staff won’t play pranks on her, though, once word gets around. She’ll probably also be fodder for mockery in the media, given how many producers are Jewish,” Rosa kissed Bessie on the cheek.

“Indignatio princeps mort est,” Blanca muttered under her breath, “The anger of the prince means death. Or exile in this case.”

“The Ghantish court will perceive banishing Cassandra as an insult,” Bessie pointed out. “And so will Albert, no doubt. Hopefully Diego will reconsider, as it would be impolitic to alienate our allies.”

“Perhaps I can talk him about the banishment, but she would still get a chilly reception and bear in mind that it’s Sandra’s home there, too. She lives there alongside Diego and Helga and their children. They plan to raise the children together, the three of them. It’s not a lifestyle for me, but the term…..polyamory, has been thrown around of late. It’s what is called a ‘V’, where two people share a partner. So she should prepare herself for being a bit unpopular at court, and frankly with most of the leading lights of Garzan society. You yourself are respected and loved, of course, but Free Garza is a very different society these days, reconciling Christianity with social democracy, monarchy with constitutionalism, etc. Lately, we’ve all been trying to avoid revolutions, civil wars, etc. and focus on social reform. And one area where that is especially true is disapproval of anti-Semitism. Just to be clear on that,” Rosa deliberately did not mention the rumors about her grandmother’s own adultery years back, a touchy subject for sure.

“It’s an abhorrent lifestyle,” Bessie stammered with a feeble hand over her heart, “and I will hear nothing more of the matter, lest I have a stroke.”

“Bessie,” Martin said to his wife’s grandmother, “why not come spend time with your great-granddaughters? The do very much enjoy your company.”

Bessie smiled then, and stood up. “Why, that’s a wonderful idea, Martin. I’d love that,” she beamed.

“That does sound like a great idea. And Rosa, really, I think that you need to call Raymond. You get snappy, pushy, saucy, even downright undiplomatic at times when you miss your husband,” Maria dropped not-so-subtle hints that Rosa was simply out of sorts from loneliness and perhaps overreacted.

“Yes, I do think that would be a good idea. Thank you, sister,” Rosa took the hint and went with it, exiting and leaving Blanca and Maria with Bessie and Martin.

“There, that solves that problem. Thank you for your good sense, as always, Martin,” Maria beamed at him, at her children, and at her grandmother, whom she hugged as well.

“Excuse me as well. I must….have my nightly warm milk and cookies,” Blanca smiled as she left as well.

As Martin handed the girls off to Bessie, he asked Maria, “well, what can we do once we’re free of the babies?”

“I’m sure that I can think of a few things. After all, what we do isn’t a sin,” Maria reminded him, “And since I’m no Catholic like my sisters, you can take precautions or I can.”

Martin flashed a grin. “But the way we do it...sometimes I wonder if it is,” he laughed. “I’ll leave the precautions to you, my love, if you consider them necessary.”

“The leaf it is, then, at least until we recover enough from this last one to make the next,” Maria teased him. Martin nodded, and then the two of them were off.
Last edited by Free Garza on Tue May 02, 2017 8:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Viva La Garza!

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Arbites
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Founded: Mar 10, 2011
Corporate Police State

Postby Arbites » Sun May 07, 2017 2:52 pm

Chambers of the Curia, Magus Civitas
Imperium of Arbites Materia


The Cardinals seemed to be studying Della's every word. There was a somewhat long pause before any of them responded, as they weighed Della's statement. It was finally Long who spoke first, leaning forward somewhat laboriously. "Spoken well, Ambassador, very well spoken on all counts indeed. Where our nations have disagreed in the past, I think, was born out of noble intentions, even duty. I of course refer to the episode in Central Acheron, which by your leave I would like to address first." If Della agreed, he continued. "Our nations sought to protect our co-religionaries suffering under Zunghar's misrule and exploitation. It was only just and natural that our governments should do this. I am convinced that your government understands, much as we do, the importance of faith and the necessity of defending it where it comes under attack."

"Where the issue became confused, I believe, was in the fears of the local leaders in the territories. Although we naturally welcomed them into the fold, at the time the Krutongans remained largely uncivilized tribal peoples, who continued to harbor ancient hatreds and prejudices. Those in Krutongo reserved a particular fear and loathing for the Nadirii of Deadora, who in times long past had raided and attempted to conquer them."

"Your government must be intimately familiar by now with the unique breed of violence the Nadirii are capable of," Robertson said rather calmly. "The bloody deeds of Nadirii in the past left an impression on Krutongo which lasts to this day. Stories of kings and chieftains mutilated, idols desecrated, butchery, slavery of the worst kind...I shall spare you the details."

"At least in Krutongo. There were key differences between the provinces as well," Long clarified. "The peoples in Kurungarra had at several points been vassals to the Nadirii, were not subjected to the same depredations, and their people therefore more readily embraced their matriarchal ways, which in turn made them receptive to the Leenic faith. The peoples of Krutongo did not, and instead turned to Zunghar for protection before that kingdom fell into disunity and misrule. As they lost confidence in Zunghar, they found strength in our faith. The point is that Krutongan leaders feared the Leenic faith as an extension of Bryn Tegna's power. They feared terrible reprisals, or so they told us. And so, regrettably, it came to violence."

"Now, things have changed," Robertson proclaimed, spreading his hands. "Fears of Deadoran intervention in Central Acheron proved unfounded. Indeed, the Thrall dynasty's future is now uncertain, its government seemingly confused or divided. Our nations grow closer for all of the reasons you have already stated. I believe it is time we began moving past this business in Central Acheron."

"To that end, we would like to propose a tourist program aimed at reuniting families divided between Kurungarra and Krutongo. It is a terrible thing to be separated indefinitely from one's kin by conflict," Long said, looking sad a moment. "Reunions of these sorts would send a message that tensions are abating, and from there we could begin talks on further deescalation."

"As long as Deadora no longer attempts to threaten Krutongo as they did during the Palisades Affair," Robertson added.

"Ah, yes, just so. Now the DMZ between the two provinces will remain in place for now, but now that there is this understanding between us, our civil service has recommended a plan for border crossings along Zunghar's borders. Perhaps these families could be bused through Ahara to specially-designated border checkpoints prepared to receive them. This would simplify security considerations."
Last edited by Arbites on Sat Jul 15, 2017 2:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
He who stands with me shall be my brother

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New Edom
Postmaster of the Fleet
 
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Founded: Mar 14, 2011
Democratic Socialists

Postby New Edom » Sun May 07, 2017 10:20 pm

Fineberg, New Edom

The young woman sat back in her chair, her chin lifted, her eyes staring straight ahead. Now and then in spite of her great dignity she swallowed nervously. A long straight nose graced her otherwise fine featured face, and she had brown eyes that seemed to look a great distance. Chestnut hair in a soft bob fell around her face. Her clothing was a cherry red dress that went well with her light olive complexion; a gold watch, slim and feminine around a delicate wrist was toyed with occasionally. Elegant legs were crossed, a white heel dangled a bit off slender toes on her right foot.

Facing her, behind a desk, sat a tall, thin man with high cheekbones wearing a three piece light grey suit. Dark hair was slicked against his narrow skull and his expression was normally mournful. His slim hard long fingers were steepled on the desk. The man was Peter Misabel, the Deputy Minister of Justice. “Countess Lavinia Nabal, I take it you know why you are here?”

She cleared her throat. “I know why I am here, Mr. Misabel.”

“For the record…state who you are.” He said this calmly, his eyes staring right back at hers.

“I am Countess Lavinia Nabal—I hold the courtesy title from my father, who is a retired civil servant. I have been serving as a lady-in-waiting to Her Majesty Queen Mara, as well as acting as her Appointments Secretary. I have been called as a witness into a corruption investigation.”

“Thank you, Countess. You must understand that this is a preparatory interview. My secretary, Mr. Hindeth, will be recording and acting as a witness lest there be worries about..improprieties.” Misabel said, glancing at a balding, bespectacled man with a neat dark suit sitting on a chair nearby the desk. The man looked at Lavinia solemnly.

“I understand,” she said. She seemed to fight an urge to twitch, but instead simply gave the watch another turn on her wrist.

“Countess, how long have you been personally associated with the Royal House of Obed?” asked Misabel.

“Since I was a little girl. My mother was a lady in waiting to Queen Elizabeta when she was consort to King Mark, you see,” said Lavinia. “I went to Whitehaven Academy with Princess Jocasta. We were roomates. I was one of her first ladies in waiting.”

“Why did you leave Princess Jocasta’s service?” asked Misabel. He watched as she hesitated and finally did truly fidget, playing with the hem of her dress, tucking it down a bit, her mouth working. He waited and then prompted, “Countess?”

“I…I was arrested,” she said. Her eyes seemed haunted.

“Why?”

“I was…I was rude to a member of the Fineberg Militia. He had me investigated; I was found to have drugs in my car. I was taken to Militia headquarters.” She looked down. “You know all this, damn it, why go through this game?”

“I want to be clear that you understand,” he said sternly. “Or do you need some reminders?”

She swallowed. “Please…”

“Countess, I have no desire to hurt you at all, or see you hurt. If you cooperate I assure you there will be no repeat, whatsoever, of what happened to you last time. But I want you to say it. Everything.” Misabel said relentlessly.

“I…I protested being arrested. I was…do I have to….I was stripped and whipped. Then when I tried to confess and tell them things that had been going on, I was called a liar, and I was sent to…sent to…” she put a hand to her mouth. “Sent to Stonehaven. And I was shaved. They….they did cavity inspections every day. I didn’t have a toilet, except when I was taken to one by this guard. I had no privacy. I could hear screams and other noises. I don’t know how long I was there. Finally I was released. Everything was different, the government was different. I was sent to a convent until my hair grew back. Then I went back into service, first with Princess Jocasta, then with the Queen. It hasn’t been the same. The Queen is very kind.” She shuddered. “Is that enough?”

“Yes.” Misabel had made a few notes. Mr. Hindeth leaned over and whispered a few things to him. Misabel nodded and Hindeth sat back in his chair. “Alright Countess. I first of all have something I would like you to read. Now before you were found to not be guilty. But in fact, what we’d like you to do is confirm what you originally told the magistrate in the militia prison.”

Lavinia stared at him. “About..wait…about the Royal Family?”

“Yes. A few other things though. As part of your confession, you admitted that you had sexual relations with Count Thomas Lalery, our current Minister of Finance, who was at that time Director of Oil and Resources. You were at that time married to a Shalumite prince, who has since divorced you. You were accused of adultery and seduction. But we’ve been examining the case. Did Count Thomas Lalery force you?”

Lavinia looked at her lap. She shivered and said, “I…”

“Think, Countess. He forced you to expose your bosom and pleasured himself, making use of your bosom to do so, did he not?” said Misabel.

Lavinia said “Wait…why are you doing this? I mean…does it matter? I didn’t cry out.”

Misabel nodded. “Normally that’s required, but this is not about you pressing criminal charges, Countess. This is about corruption. Now of course you, a member of the aristocracy, enjoying the highest privileges, are nevertheless subject to royal authority. Count Lalery is a member of the Royal Family, and you are not. He was a high ranking government official, you were merely a lady in waiting, married to a foreign prince whose friendship to our country was suspect. You were then accused, in part through being caught by Nathan IV of Ghant.”

“I think this is a trap,” said Lavinia, her voice shaking. “I don’t understand why you want me to do this! What are you after?”

“Well, Countess, it’s very simple,” said Misabel. “Either Count Lalery did force you, in which case your earlier testimony must be true, or he did not, in which case you are a liar and will have to go back to Stonehaven for further questioning.”

He watched her and clicked his tongue in annoyance. “Hindeth, revive her. Gently.”

Hindeth got up and went to where she had slumped over in her chair, unattractively drooling. He put her head between her knees and slowly lifted her up, slapping her wrists and the side of her neck until she came to. She gasped as she was held, but Hindeth bowed and stepped away, though he stood right behind her this time.

“Countess…” said Misabel. “Did Lalery force you to pleasure him?”

“Yes,” she said. “Please, I feel sick…”

“Bring that wastebasket to her, Hindeth,” said Misabel. “Alright Countess. Often?”

“yes.”

“How many times?”

“I don’t…”

“How many times did Lalery force you? Twice? Four times? Seven?”

“I don’t know!”

“Pick a number,” said Misabel.

“Twelve times…”

Misabel nodded and made a note. “Were you intimate with Queen Dowager Rebecca, Mrs. Dahlia Kiron and Colonel Steven Horvath?”

Lavinia’s face flushed. “What’s going to happen to me?”

“Answer the question,” said Misabel quietly.

“Yes. Several times.” Lavinia said.

“But you were a young girl, impressionable and foolish,” offered Misabel. “And you were intimidated by the high rank of the people involved. You were offered drinks and drugs, you were confused. Is that not true?”

“Yes” Lavinia said hopefully, looking up at him.

Misabel made some more notes. He worked for several minutes until Lavinia couldn’t seem to sit still anymore.

“I don’t feel well, I need to use a washroom,” she said quietly.

“Yes. You’re going to be removed from here and placed somewhere safe. Otherwise the people you have testified against will be angry and find you and do God knows what to you,” Misabel said. He smiled at last. “I realize that took courage, Countess. Mr. Hindeth…”

HIndeth opened the door. There were two Militia Guards there, wearing kepis, black Same Browne belts over their neat dark tunics, sleek boots and neat trousers. There was also a woman Guard there, wearing a skirt instead of trousers. A solid, broad faced woman with peasant features, she looked at Lavinia impassively as though she were a goat about to be sent out to pasture again.

Lavinia got up and slipped her purse over her shoulder. “Mr. Misabel, what’s going to happen?”

Misabel sighed. “You know, in this case, you and me both have no idea yet, Countess. Farewell.”

Countess Lavinia Nabal walked out between the Guards, looking apprehensive but dignified as best she could, her heels clicking on the floor. When she had gone, Misabel picked up the phone. “Yes, connect me with the President, please. Thank you. Your Excellency? Yes, I have obtained a full confession. Well, Excellency, I recommend proceeding cautiously for now. We should make this about the judicial proceedings as already stated and go from there as I recommended. Understood. I thank Your Excellency.”

He put the phone down. He glanced at Hensith.

“What now, sir?” Hensith asked him.

“When the inquests begin, we’re going to bring in these other people as witnesses,” he said, handing him a list. “Make sure they don’t leave the country or even the District, for that matter. Off with you.”

“Sir,” said Hensith, rising, bowing and leaving.

Misabel waited till the door was closed, then took out some antacid tablets from his desk and drank them with a tepid glass of water. He made note of the time, and called his wife, expressing his fondness for their children and that he might be working late over the next few days.
Last edited by New Edom on Sun May 07, 2017 10:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"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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The Shrailleeni Empire
Minister
 
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Founded: Oct 06, 2011
Mother Knows Best State

Postby The Shrailleeni Empire » Tue May 23, 2017 12:01 am

Chambers of the Curia, Magus Civitas
Imperium of Arbites Materia


The Shrailleeni ambassador sat patiently as the Cardinals paused to contemplate her words. She wondered if her opening lines, which had been crafted specifically to provoke thought, had made them wish to be able to confidentially discuss them amongst themselves before responding. The effect of their collective contemplation was slightly unnerving, but at last Cardinal Long responded.

She had been briefed to expect a discussion of "the episode in Central Archeron," which was after all the closest that Shrailleen and the Imperium had come to an actual war. She agreed with Cardinal Long that it was an appropriate subject of discussion, and then listened attentively as he and Cardinal Robertson outlined both their appraisal of the situation and their proposal for reconciliation.

"You speak with great reason and wisdom," she began not untruthfully. "I believe, and Her Enlightened Majesty believes, that we are at heart both peoples of conscience. We believe in justice, we believe in goodness, and in the sister and brotherhood of all human beings. The people of what was Kurungo sought protection from Ahara among the Deadorans, it is true. But they were not Nadirii. That is why the Leenic faith practiced in Kurungo, caught between Nadirii predations and the fear of their Krutongan neighbors, turned to the empire for assistance. We could not ignore their pleas. As you have said Cardinal, we understand the importance of faith and the necessity of defending it."

Her words hinted at a greater truth, tied to the convoluted process of that conflict. The Shrailleeni had in truth sought to undermine both Ahara and Deadora, and had at first sought to control all what was then a southern Aharan province. In this they had made practical alliances, fostering the native matriarchal culture into joining the Leenic umbrella as the Shamanic Order of Kurungo while also paying off the Nadirii matriarchs to betray their Deadoran masters.

She had this in mind as she prepared to make her first offering to the Cardinals, meeting both of the men in the eye as she continued.

"After the Palisades incident and the Deadoran invasion of Dengali, Her Enlightened Majesty has decreed that there shall be no toleration for any further Deadoran aggression in southern Archeron. The Matriarch Empress has agreed to many of Her Enlightened Majesty's suggestions for reform, but Deadora continues to discriminate against Leenic faiths and act in ways unbecoming of an ally. I have been asked to convey to you Her Enlightened Majesty's decree that any act of aggression carried out against Krutongo by the Empire of Deadora will be considered an act of aggression against Shrailleen, with all of the reprisals that this entails."

An aid came forward and delivered to the Cardinals copies of this Decree, signed in the hand of the Mother Empress. In the full language, the reason behind this decree was detailed as the destabilization of Kurungarra by a war on its borders being unacceptable to the Shrailleeni government. The Decree authorized Shrailleeni military forces to take unilateral action against Deadora in the event of a first strike against Krutongo, and made such an action grounds for the dissolution of the Shrailleeni-Deadoran alliance.

"My government will also agree to the formation of a reconciliation program. The spirit of this program is most acceptable, as the outcome of the war left too many families stranded on each side of the DMZ. I will recommend that our experts meet with your civil service to develop a plan by which this movement may begin."

"However, it is the opinion of Her Enlightened Majesty that for a new era of peace and cooperation to truly begin between our peoples, that the matter of our respective faiths and their histories must be addressed. Her Enlightened Majesty has no wish for the Children of the Mother Goddess and the Magi to see one another as enemies. To this end, I am authorized to make two suggestions."

"The first, regarding the subject of Central Archeron, my government is willing to share with the Imperium our intelligence regarding the outlawed terrorist organization known as the Kurungan Amazons. This is to be part of an exchange of information that will allow our governments to combat the partisan extremist violence that unfortunately continues to necessitate the DMZ."

The Kurungan Amazons had been the Shrailleeni government's best-funded and most effective partisans in the war, a Nadirii group convinced to offer loyalty to the Mother Empress in exchange for access to weapons, local autonomy, and wealth. They were rightly feared by the magi of Krutongo for their brutality. However, after the partition and Kurungo's subsequent entry into the Shrailleeni Empire as a full Queendom, the Amazons had become an embarrassment to the Shrailleeni government. The predations, castrations, and other Nadirii practices of the Amazons were made illegal, but their usefulness as fighters had for years kept the Shrailleeni from completely cracking down on them.

"Second, Her Enlightened Majesty would like to open a dialogue regarding the status of Leenism within the Imperium, and regarding the status of Magism within Shrailleen. Specifically, I have been authorized to disclose the status of the empire's remaining Magi inhabitants. We may discuss these two proposals in any order that Your Graces would find acceptable."

Della did her best to maintain her composure as she delivered those two lines. The existence of Magi within the empire's borders was one of Shrailleen's best-kept secrets. This was to be the first time that it was ever acknowledged publicly, let alone to the region's only Magi theocracy. But that secret was deeply threatened by current events within the Shrailleeni Empire, and would not remain secret for long. Part of her orders in coming to Magus Civitas had been to attempt to come out ahead of it, and turn events to the empire's favor.
أدرس اللغة العربية وهي لغة جميلة
Mother of One, Mother of All
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New Edom wrote:Elizabeth Salt remarked, "It's amazing, isn't it, you rarely see modern troops that wear their 19th century uniforms and gear so well--they must drill all the time. Is this a guards outfit?"

Sif said to her, "This is a modern Shrailleeni Empire military parade. Like as in this is what they wear, this is what they use. This is it."

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Corporate Police State

Postby Arbites » Tue May 30, 2017 1:45 pm

May 2016
Rhodinia, Imperium of Arbites Materia


While the Adirans wrung their hands over the peace deal and elected a new government, the Imperium had been dealing with its own internal problems. The Ebern Precision Industries strike several months ago had proven fruitful. Backed by the authority of a local bishop and referred to publicly only as a "day of prayer," the right to strike in this manner had been cleared by the Curia itself after heated debate between the old guard and the so-called Puritans. Bishop Engel, the senior clergyman who had legitimized the strike, was contacted by the Lai Dai plant's fretful general manager Frederick Loyd as soon as he heard that the Curia had upheld his decision.

Months ago, Loyd had arrived at a large but old and mostly plain stone church not far from the plant. It was flanked on either side by ancient brownstone houses, one in a state of relative disrepair. There was a chill in the May air despite the sun being bright. Accompanying him were several other members of management, mostly for backup with figures and business strategy.

Walking between the pews, he saw tired-looking mothers, sweaty workers likely in his own employ, and rough individuals in threadbare clothes. It was a working class church, and Loyd didn't look like he belonged at all with his tailored suit.

He was shocked to find the Bishop stoking the fireplace in the vestry himself. "Ah, Brother Loyd, so glad you agreed to meet. If you'll just give me one moment..." Engel said, setting the poker to one side and sweeping some of the ashes. He wore a simple charcoal habit and appeared to be in rather decent shape, with broad shoulders and the movements of a man decades younger.

"Of course, Your Excellency..." Loyd said, looking around the room. There was hardly anything to look at. The walls were the same brick as the exterior, unadorned save for an icon of the Saints. A few high windows let some light in but provided no view of the outside. The fire was just barely keeping a chill at bay. The only seating was hard wooden pressback chairs, with a finely made but rather ancient looking wooden table. Although Loyd knew Bishop Engel had been a member of the Torlanolese Order when he was younger, he hadn't expected him to maintain the Order's asceticism. No other bishop he knew of did, anyway.

Engel motioned for Loyd to sit.

"How is your church doing, Excellency?"

"Oh, the Emperor provides, as He wills it."

"Are you sure? You have seen the grand cathedrals, even the Chambers of the Curia. They are true testaments to the Emperor, are they not?" Loyd asked.

"One may revere Him through great monuments or great works. My diocese is poor. We have not the wealth to erect grand idols, so we must strive for great deeds," Engel explained casually.

Loyd glanced at one of the other men and said "Well, as you may know, I attend services at Cornerstone and I naturally donate every week. Yet as your church here seems at the center of many of my workers' lives, I feel that perhaps I have neglected you and yours."

"Brother, if you venerate the Immortal Emperor, then you cannot have neglected me," Engel said with a smile.

Loyd shook his head and held up a hand. "No, no, Excellency. I insist. Your public display of piety has moved me. I wish to right the wrongs which you spoke of."

"Most admirable, Brother," Engel replied.

"And so I would like to make a donation. One hundred thousand solidii," he said. Engel raised his eyebrows at that and seemed to mull this over. "Enough for renovations, to provide for more staff, new copies of the Scrolls. I realize that your tithes must be low..."

Engel raised a hand in protest, however. "Brother, truly, we are fine here. I must not live apart from my congregation, but among them. When my flock lives austerely, I must do so as well. If anything, I would prefer that my flock lived better than me. If I were to accept such a donation, I would see it spread among them. One hundred thousand solidii though...only one solidus for each of your employees and their families? Not even enough for a loaf of bread."

"Your Grace, with all due respect, that's not what I intended," Loyd tried to say.

"But it is what I intend to do were you to make such a donation," Engel said, sighing. "Brother, I am not sure you entirely grasp what exactly my goal has been."

Loyd looked at him warily. "You've spoken about preserving Magi values."

"Yes, and what does that mean?" Engel pressed, now making direct eye contact.

Loyd's expression had fallen by now. He seemed to choose his next words carefully. "Excellency, I don't profess to know His will as you do. I don't know what it is you want."

Engel shook his head gently before asking. "Brother, you said that you attended mass at Cornerstone, yes? It is very different here than in the suburbs. There are no private schools, no foreign clinics, no luxury markets or shopping malls. This kind of community has one center: the church. When addicts come to repent and get clean, when a child comes in to hide from a street gang on his tail, when a family of five is evicted without notice, all of them come to the church because there is nowhere else. We do what we can, in the Emperor's name, but ultimately we are only treating the symptoms, not the cause."

Loyd didn't seem to be catching on, so Engel continued to elaborate, spreading his hands. "Communities, as the Emperor intended, are based upon family. Your workers, my flock, they cannot live as men. They cannot raise a family as they cannot provide for them. They do not have homes, they live in barracks separate from their wives and children. They cannot rise up, as you promote from without rather than within. In desperation, my congregation makes easy prey for the Ruinous Powers. This I cannot allow. As a member of the church, it is my duty to be ever vigilant against evil."

"I...see," Loyd said, realizing now that appeasing the bishop would be far more difficult than he anticipated.

"So you see, Brother, that there is a great deal at stake, more than a simple donation to my diocese will fix," Engel said, before his expression softened. "I realize though that I must have placed you in a difficult position. You are the plant's general manager, you do not own the company and are not solely responsible for Ebern's wages and hiring practices. So I would be much relieved, and most grateful, should you give voice to my concerns with the company leadership."

Loyd seemed a bit slow to reply. "One moment, Excellency," he said, before turning to one of the suits with him and muttering something. He then faced Engel again and said "Excellency, if we do this, if we raise wages substantially, we may be placed in a difficult position. If we charge our clients more, we could lose contracts and be forced to lay workers off. If we don't, the company itself may no longer be profitable, we would begin to incur debt and ultimately be forced to tighten our belts again to pay them."

"Those are not the only options, surely. Ebern is a successful business, it must not owe its success solely to underpaying its workers. Perhaps some other sacrifices may have to be made," he said, rising to his feet. "Would you say that you live comfortably, Brother?"

"I...yes..." Loyd stammered, looking uncomfortable.

Engel had put a hand on Loyd's shoulder. "You and your masters make more in a day than your workers do in a year. Ebern can afford this raise. If not for me or your employees, then for yourself. The Emperor smiles upon those who give of themselves in service to the Imperium. Make no mistake, Brother, this kind of poverty is a threat to the nation. It undermines family, which in turn undermines communities, and what is a nation without the communities which comprise it? Please convey this to Ebern's senior leadership. I know they are anxious, as you are, to resume the plant's operation."

Loyd had left the church that day with a knot in his stomach. How was this not socialism? How had the Curia approved of this? And how would his superiors react?
Last edited by Arbites on Tue May 30, 2017 1:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.
He who stands with me shall be my brother

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Ex-Nation

Part 1

Postby Caranthir » Wed Jun 07, 2017 1:20 pm

Image
“Often it’s the deepest pain which empowers you to grow into your highest self.” — Anonymous

Palaco de l'Suno
Meridia, Heavenly Principality of Carinthia
2016



The book was a heavy, thick tablet of sheepskin parchment bound in aged leather. The cracks and yellowing of each page revealed decades of improper care and handling, not that it mattered to Rosaria. The first edition of the Divine Tome of Sinari, published some 300 years ago and still written in classical Latin braille, was given to her as a gift by her grandmother and is one her prized possessions. The book detailed many of the miracles associated with Astoria, first daughter of the Sun and mother to Humanity.

Carefully and intently, her fingers glided over the bumps as she sought to absorb the divine wisdom held within the pages. Surely if she persevered through the dry, and frankly at points boring and academic-like poetry of the tome, the wisdom of its pages would become clearer and clearer to her. That it was she believed at first, but now after crawling through, page-by-page, for nearly five hours, the only thing she readily believed in was the fact that a break was needed.

“Enjoying thy book, Thy Luminance?” the voice briefly startled her before she turned to face a servant that had been standing near the doorway.

“How long has thee beenst standing there?” Rosaria shot out quickly, whirling around to see the would-be intruder.

“Not long at all, Thy Luminance. Only a few minutes at most.”

“I hath asked to beest alone for the remainder of the day,” she shot a glance at the servant, a portly middle-aged woman with brown hair cut just a little too short and a skirt and blouse that were two sizes too small. “Didst thou forget?

”No, Thy Luminance,” the servant said in a lowly voice,

“Well then begone. Leave me to mine own business.”

“Yes, of course, Thy Luminance,” she said hurriedly and quickly shuffled through the door, shutting the oaken frame behind her as she did so.

Sighing, Rosaria turned her attention back to the book that laid on the glass table. The tome seemingly mocked her, as if it somehow felt glee and happiness at the expense of the woman not being able to decipher even a single sentence. That her apparent ignorance was a testimony to the book’s superiority, the Sun’s superiority in wisdom even. Sighing once more, she walked over to the black leather couch and plopped defeatedly into its cloud-like cushion.

“I wast willing to dedicate mine own life to thee, and this is how thoust repay me?” she exasperated, leaning down and staring intently at the cover of the book, watching the sun light from the open window peer in and make the gold embroidery dance and shimmer along the greyed leather cover. There was some sort of poetic irony in the sun gracing its light on the precise tome that continued to withhold itself from her. “Am I not worthy of thine wisdom?”

As was typical of the various Divine Tomes, they often had a poetic depiction of miracles, awisdom of the Sun, and more often than not, the seemingly eldritch truth bestowed upon truly touched prophets and individuals by the enigmatic Magnorii. The latter was seemingly incomprehensible to the layperson, with many cases reported of those being touched with the wisdom of the Magnorii being driven to “madness.” The inane, near-indecipherable writings of such touched individuals proved infallible to the growth and development of Asterism, however for even if it drives one to madness, the touch of a Magnorii still allowed one to serve a grander purpose, even if for posterity. The revealing of the true state of the world around them led to such individuals removing their eyes, causing a unique Carinthian cultural phenomenon of greatly respecting those who are without sight. Such a phenomenon led to the priesthood of Asterism more often than not removing their own eyes, often through surgical means, in order to “see clearly the light of Day.” Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you looked at it, Rosaria ascended the throne before such grotesque body mutilations could occur.

“‘Tis not obvious, girl?” the voice said in a harsh, guttural whisper. It was feminine sounding, reminiscent of her mother but the exact tone was audibly different. It was a completely new voice, one she had never heard before.

“Cease thy self-pity and doth what need beest done” another voice, clearly masculine this time, chimed in aggressively.

The voices were seemingly from the next room. Neither of them was recognisable to her, at least she didn’t remember ever meeting people with voices. Then it hit her.

“Thee speak to me? Thou hast hath heard mine own pleas?” she said in amazement.”T’wast thy plan all ‘long, Thy most holy Sun, t’were to prepare mine own self for this moment when thee would bewray thy wisdom unto me.”

She walked over to the window on the far side of the room and flung open the burgundy tapestry., revealing the palatial garden that was just coming into its spring bloom. Hundreds of flowers ranging from tulips, daffodils, primroses, scillas, and pansies to just name a few, were wide awake with their bright, vibrant colours. While she herself had no interest in gardening, she felt a sort of peace of mind and tranquillity when she relaxed on one of its benches, fully immersed in nature to the point where she forgot she was dead centre in an urban jungle of steel and concrete. It was easy to get lost amongst the sights and the smells, but it relaxed her, and that’s what was the most important thing was being able to relax and unwind, especially now more than ever.

“Thee was watching over mine own life in its entirety,” she whispered matter of factly. Dropping to one knee, she wrapped both her hands around the golden medallion that lay wrapped around her neck. “F’rgive me in mine own insolence, Most Holy Astoria. Thy powers work in ways yond we cannot understand. I am thy servant now more than ever.”

Everything finally made sense now. The Sun guiding her life precariously and diligently right to this very moment when She would reveal her wisdom to Rosaria. Now there was a true sense of divine providence that she always had a feeling she deserved but never truly got. But now, heard with her very own ears, the voice of Firstborn revealing herself to her; there could be no possibly more humbling feeling than to be chosen to hear the Firstborn’s voice.

“What wouldst thou have me do?” she asked lowly, medallion still clenched in hand.

A knock on the door snapped her back to reality. The door swished open and the servant from earlier burst into the room with another one shortly following behind. The younger servant, a man in his low 30s, had well-kept dirty blonde hair cut neatly and professionally. He wore a black tuxedo as one would expect a palatial servant would.

“There wast shouting, art thee well, Thy Luminance?” the women asked in between breaths.

“Beest wary of thy woman,” the feminine voice from before said.

Rosaria let the medallion fall out of her hands, wincing slightly as the metal thudded against her collarbone before it hanging loosely on her chest. “Fine,” she finally said.

“Art thee sure?”

“Yes, now leave me to mine own self.”

Politely bowing, the pair did as they were told.

“Lousy bitch,” a female voice muttered just as the door closed.

Rosaria leapt up from where she was kneeling and ran over to the door, whipping it open as she did so and entered the hallway.

“What didst thou call me?” she shouted as she rushed up to the woman servant and slapped her across the face. “Calling me a ‘lousy bitch’ as thee leave mine own room.” She continued as the woman stood there in bewilderment. “She warned me about thee,” Rosaria said confidently, pointing a lone finger at the woman. “Our Most Holy Maiden whispered in mine own ear to beest wary of thee.”

No answer. Just silence once more.
Last edited by Caranthir on Thu Jun 08, 2017 12:42 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Weeaboo Gassing Land wrote:Also, rev up the gas chambers.

12:02:02 AM <Tarsas> premislyd is my spirit animal tbh

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Psychotic Dictatorship

Postby The IASM » Sun Jun 11, 2017 1:28 pm

Da Migong
Xungong
Xuan
Akai

SHIJIN


The arrival of Shijin back to the court of the Ditu was a humiliating one for her for a variety of reasons. The various faces, glances and glares she got all but ensured that from the very moment she entered back into the halls of Da Migong and the Harem system. The haughty contempt of Tingzi’ whose maternal eyes seemed to manifest like balls of all-consuming flame whenever they were laid upon her. The teasing arrogance of sisters also bothered her with Housheng mocking Shijin’s decision to stay in the court of Michael as the ‘pleasures of love’. There was also the fact that her father not even seen her for months, something rather than the punishment she suspected he thought it was, was rather liberating while also isolating.

Yet in the end of it, it was not the most toxic thing, the most insufferable thing to deal with, it was more the utter scorn she seemed to suffer from nearly all around her. She became a social poison, one that ruined the reputations of those who touched her, those who were merely in here presence. Even her mother, that false whore betrayed her for prestige. In the end, it embodied every reason why she wanted to escape, why she wanted to be with Michael — she wanted to be at the top of the ladder elsewhere. She hated being trapped at the bottom, hated every single moment of this infernal insult to her pride.

She had remained in her island bedroom for a while now as the night began to fall. There was a Tong eunuch standing in the background of her room, whether he was put there to surveil for more nefarious reasons or to merely fulfil the duty of watching over the princess. His name was Bu Xu and from what she experienced from him was quite the pleasant character. He seemed rather subservient to her wishes and obedient and interestingly gentle. He maintained her ornate room with impeccable detail. It was dominated by two windows, one tall flank looking outwards into the dark abyss of the Sea of Xuanjing and one placed on the roof. It exposed the huge central bed with golden pillows forming an angular crescent upon the silky sheets whose floral patterns seemed deeply inviting. There was space for at least two people although like most things in Akai it was intended for two.

And there she lay… exposed to whatever could be privy to the sun. She was dressed win wispy silks, white and translucent in nature, standard nightwear for Akai women of her status. It was formed in a manner most Akai, with several layers being placed on top of the other to form it. One thick layer forming over a single breast, leaving the other to be covered only be a single layer and otherwise exposed and bare beneath what was a nearly transparent fabric. And on top of this were a thin layer of silk which was equally translucent which covered the arms, resting upon her shoulders like a feather.

Shijin herself lay upon the bed, her hair tied up in a single, plait bun which still retained a few pins in it. Her hair was a pale sliver, like all her kin. It was well-known that the Lazins were unique among the Akai for their features, ones said to be very much in the image of the kin of the Shouditu — his flesh reincarnated. Her own voluptuous physique was lean, if full in her bosom and rear with full hips in addition. This was coupled with her sharp pale rose eyes and lips, giving her overall a ‘classical’ Lazin appearance.

He had been contemplating the beatings her father had been giving her, each increasingly brutal and wrathful in their aspects. It seemed Qiang despite his supposed admiration of Confucian values, for his grand appraisal of peaceful obedience and leadership through example — he was a violent brute inside. She looked to her sides and saw the red bruise clearly visible through her flesh and the pain of it still roared quietly.

“Do not worry, one day thou will be free of him,” Bu said in his sincere paternal manner which he had so duly mastered. “For wicked men like him do not thrive when their spirits are brought forth. His spirit seems consumed…”

“Thy words are honey, delicious and soothing but the bees still surround it, their stings sharp” Shijin replied with a maxim brought forth from her courtly studies. “Father will stay with me for sure. Lest I can flee him and his wroth.”

“Perhaps, perhaps. That are other ways one can seek solitude, in marriage or in concubinage,” Bu spoke. “The power of a strong patron can cast away the various curses and tribulations that plague thou.”

Shijin paused to contemplate her response, with great curiosity to her eunuch’s words. “And whom shall be such a person? For surely one cannot necessarily be sure here?”

“To that, let the winds carry thou forth, for it shall be thine talents which shall invite the concupiscence of thine greater,” Bu suggested in the knavish tones of the eunuchs.

It was then, quiet, with lamps and moonlight light up the room, colouring its gold walls with various hues of warm reds and chilling white-blues. The room was consistent in this aside from a single door, which stood almost out of place. It was coloured a solid black, with regular square depressions housing deep within gold snakes, which wove through the harsh wood construction. She lay, about to enter her sleep when the door began to open.

And the Ditu stood there, Hulang’s crimson eyes looking disappointed and analytic as always. He was intriguingly alone, dressed in comparably ornate nightwear of his own with various robes. The silk, void black and depicting a shifting nine-headed dragon in grey-silver silk. He was without his mask, instead, letting his long sharp face and his silver hair be bare to the eunuch and the glare of a character with subdued fury lying underneath.

“Servant of mine, do depart, I wish to be alone,” Hulang commanded in his polite voice, inherently gentlemanly in its character. Yet Shijin noticed a more primal sounding aspect to it, “With Shijin. I was not here, and if anyone seeks to inquire upon the details of what happened tell them I was exerting my rights to the harem. Otherwise, do not mention it to anyone lest thou enjoy thy family’s continuation.” This is unusual for him… Shijin thought to herself as she arose from the silks.

“As thou, the Holy and Exalted One doth wish,” Lu said before departing from the room with the Ditu walking towards the bed. The elder eunuch seemed somewhat shocked and concerned from what the Princess could gather from his body language. Hulang turned to make sure he had exited, his grand physical presence producing a long series of shadows. Upon hearing the door had shut he turned to study his cousin, she did not cover herself as she watched him approach. What is he doing…

Hulang began in that particular manner the Ditu seemed particularly well versed in, “My dear cousin, words cannot describe how worried I was to hear that thou had remained in the palace of Augustus with that imbecile brute Michael.” He approached the bed slowly from the side: “I did do all in my capacity to help thou, and by calling in help from the Edomites it seemed I have achieved that.”

Shijin began to try to inquire into this matter before her: “So, why are thou here? It is not…”

“Shush… all is good now,” the Ditu interrupted swiftly before continuing, his eyes focusing on her eyes with the occasional glances to else parts of her body and the room before quickly returning to her eyes again. He came to rest upon the edge of the bed. “What did he do to you that night?”

“What night doth thou mean,” Shijin responded with a playful faux-innocence. So he is sharp as they say he thought bemused by her cousin as she combined the gasping mouth of shock to be followed with a sly smile.

“I do not wish to play games, not right now, I have more pressing matters in mind. Now do tell me,” he said, continuing to stare once more before slowly approaching. “You take me for a fool, well, unfortunately, I am not the sort who likes to seduce a false emperor like a fornicatress.”

Must have deduced that… Shijin thought as he studied her cousin he slowly moved towards her. “How rude of thou, cousin… but you are right I did lay with Michael…”

“Unsurprisingly it is a part of the role I sent thou there to complete,” Hulang coolly responded. “Whether you realised this, I do not care. I at this point generally function under the assumption that most sovereigns nowadays are all too vulnerable to the concupiscence of the fresh flesh. It seems I was correct in this case.” Hulang mused, “I assume…”

“No, I am not with child, the first thing I did check,” Shijin responded swiftly, with disappointment and confidence mingling in her voice.

“Good… good. I will keep it a secret for your sake,” Hulang said in a tone which seemed protective in character. Or use it as leverage… it is clear you are looking for something else but let’s play this game. He began to move onto the bed approaching her. “I do want your safety one must know,” Hulang said as he began to place his hands softly upon her thighs. “I assume you are the only one to know of this?”

“There is another,” Shijin responded to which Hulang’s whose attention spiked.

“Who may this be? Michael is dead… at least I hope he is, Qiang and Housheng left the room… wait who was that whore girl?”

“Antonia, not actually a whore but an aristocratic friend of his, I think,” Shijin said trying to recall the girl who she held so much scorn for. She was quite certain that she was behind Michael’s decision to forget about the CPO, something which directly led to his death. I could had maneuvered him out of that… at least get him an estate here away from those Latin scum who killed him, away from the Edomites who betrayed him.

“Then we need to silence her somehow,” Hulang said as he moved his hand coolly up her thigh, around her hips, around her back and eventually resting on her neck, his motions somewhat off almost — they lacked. “Anyways, your father has been punished for his failure in that mess… at least he will be punished…” He began to move in closer towards her head and moved fully onto the bed, with Shijin accommodating his presence. “You on the other hand are that punishment,” he said whispering into her ear. “You shall be mine and mine alone, your actions shall be my bidding.”

Shijin tried to push off Hulang yet he remained close and unaffected by her actions and instead tightened his grip slowly choking her. His face seemed apathetic and oddly calm in its character, it did not affect Hulang whatever so ever to do what he was doing. Gradually her strength began to weaken and Hulang loosened his grasp as he hung over her. He did let her breathe slightly but still forced out the air from her body. He whispered to her, in his deep systematic voice: “Resistance against the will of the Ditu is treacherous… but I am a forgiving master. I was a degenerate like Michael I would have just exerted my natural rights to the harem and been open about it. I have other interests regardless, all I want from you is a servant. One whose actions are my bidding. If you believed your actions with Michael were without consequence then thou art sorely mistaken. I want you dancing to my tune. ” His hand shifted

Shijin was gasping for air, her throat was almost crushed by her cousin’s forceful grasp and after a few breaths she looked at him again. There was a demon before her, one whose crimson glare seemed to truly haunt her. It was a fear she rarely experienced and was one which captivated her. A pale white combined with a hue of red combated one another on his merciless face. She knew it was prudent not to resist her cousin’s desires, “I will do as you wish and exactly as you wish then…”

“Good… good…” Hulang said calmly and with a sense of pride before leaning in to kiss Shijin on her lips, who paused before giving in. While he seemed not exactly poor in this capacity, it was without any emotion other than scorn it seemed. He did not entertain it for long, being almost slightly repulsed by his action, “So you were telling the truth, one is pleased with this. Anyways, I hope this shall be the start of a most productive relationship,” Hulang said as he came off the bed before walking off back through the door which he came. Shijin herself remained calm and stared up into the full moon rising. So that was not a clean exit then.
Last edited by The IASM on Sun Jun 11, 2017 3:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
HUN-01

20:22 Kirav Normal in Akai is nightmare fuel in the rest of the world.
11:33 Jedoria Something convoluted is going on in Akai probably.
Transoxthraxia: I'm no hentai connoisseur, but I'm pretty sure Akai's domestic politics would be like, at least top ten most fucked up hentais"
18:26 Deusaeuri Let me put it this way, you're what would happen if Lovecraft decided to write political dystopian techno thriller
20:19 Heku tits has gone mental
20:19 Jakee >gone
05:48 Malay lol akai sounds lovely this time of never


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Ecclesiastical State
Civil Servant
 
Posts: 6
Founded: Jun 07, 2017
Ex-Nation

Postby Ecclesiastical State » Sun Jun 11, 2017 6:18 pm

Prologue (short)
The Fall of a House, the Raising of a Cathedral


Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
Ephesians 6:11



He stood there, his eyes blank, empty of emotion, a void into a broken soul, shattered by the power and conviction of the Holy Mother Church. He stared at the bared windows, out across the terracotta prison roof, upon the slopes of the hills. He looked upon those hills, reminding himself of the view from his terrace back home. His lavish, landscaped garden, ordered, pristine and colourful. The smell of flowers, food and love, the smells of life, now all he could smell was piss, sweat and damp concrete.

It was amazing to think, that he and his family, only weeks ago were the rising stars of I Pilastri (the Pillars); the junior landed families of the Ecclesiastical State, the nouveau riche used as an insurance policy, should Il Dodici (the Twelve) rebel or secede. That, and his rising wealth, his unrivalled happiness and comfortability. Now it was all gone. His children, his wife, his wealth, his houses and cars – all gone.

The Dodici laughed and mocked him, his fellow Pilastri families did the same, the people looked upon him and his in disgust, the Church looked upon him and his in furious delight. Initially, his destruction felt justified, for what he and his had done, but now, in hindsight, it was a charade, a show, an example. Deep down he always knew, but knowing now, at this late stage, angered him more. The sheer hypocrisy of it, they, the so-called Princes of the Church were no different, but now, with their humble man in white, they were playing the innocent, moral, pious and just inquisitors of God’s holy ordinance and law. His destruction, was a reminder, the God’s Church’s power, strength and conviction to root out and crush immorality, pride, vanity and self-worth in the nobility, in the Ecclesiastical State and across Christendom.

It just had to be him and his family who would be the first victims.

Perhaps God will be more merciful, he thought – as the noose was placed around his neck.

And so fell Fernando Bellucci, the last of his name.

To be continued...
Last edited by Ecclesiastical State on Sun Jun 11, 2017 6:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Arbites
Ambassador
 
Posts: 1629
Founded: Mar 10, 2011
Corporate Police State

Postby Arbites » Sun Jun 25, 2017 6:07 pm

Chambers of the Curia, Magus Civitas
Imperium of Arbites Materia


Long studied the agreement carefully, looking for loopholes through legalese or vagaries of language. Robertson did not take as long, reading it thoroughly but going over it with less of a fine-toothed comb. "Very interesting," Robertson said as Long continued to study it. "A mutual defense agreement, with an implicit threat of termination of alliance. Even in the face of Deadoran conventional superiority on the border and its recent actions in Dengali."

"Yes, yes. A courageous measure, commendable," Long added, with cautious optimism. "I have to wonder what Bryn Tegna will make of it. Would the Empire truly abandon its traditional Deadoran allies so easily? When this is made public the Thralls will surely protest, even in the face of whatever chaos has befallen their government."

"Naturally I'm sure your government intends to announce this agreement publicly when its terms are ratified by both nations," Robertson said, looking at Della. "It would not serve as a deterrent otherwise."

"And a deterrent would be greatly appreciated, considering how close we came to war in Acheron mere months ago," Long said, his expression hardening. "Between that episode and the rumors of unrest in Deadora's upper circle, members of my Order fear that Deadora could become a powder keg in the near future. In that case there are a great many factors to consider. Could Kurungarra and Krutongo fend off the full might of Deadora by themselves long enough to be relieved? What other nations would become involved? Our mutual ally New Edom may be drawn in, and they could enable reinforcement and relief through Ahara. On the other hand, the Othmanis remain unpredictable. My Order will have to consider these matters carefully."

"Ambassador, your government knows your allies...perhaps better than any nation in the world," Robertson said with a smile. "The Empire has more friends in Deadora, has a better sense of what is happening, a better idea of their reaction should we forge this new agreement. I would never ask you to betray the confidence of our fellow partners in FODE, naturally, but if your government has been in communication with Bryn Tegna, has received any assurances that this agreement will not be met with immediate hostility as we saw during the Palisades affair, then the Curia will be able to complete its deliberations that much quicker on what is already a very attractive proposal."

Waiting for Della to reply, Long then advanced the agenda by saying "Well, with such a generous offer, I believe with respect to Central Acheron, our governments are already more in accord that we could have hoped for. The finer details, closer examination, and exact implementation will be left to the Order. Brother Nathaniel, would you make the necessary arrangements with the Ambassador's people?" Long asked one of his acolytes, a beanpole of a man attending to him. The man bowed and approached the Shrailleen delegation's own staff to start setting it up quietly on the side while the meeting continued.

While in between topics Long commented "Acheron never ceases to be a challenge. There seems to be a minimum quota for unrest on the continent. While Deadora was largely stable, New Edom was faced with its civil strife. Now New Edom is prosperous and its influence growing throughout the region, while Deadora has fallen into some sort of confusion."

"Perhaps it's for the best. The last time both New Edom and Deadora were simultaneously in a position to challenge the other, their dispute touched off the Great War," Robertson remarked.

As Della spoke of Magi in the Empire, the two Cardinals appeared to be listening with great interest, as though they had not heard rumors already. Robertson glanced at Long, before saying "Magi in the Empire, after all this time and after your government has shown such devotion and zeal to its chosen faith. That is quite the surprise, Ambassador."

"It certainly is," Long agreed. "Correct me if I'm wrong, Excellency, but the last members of the Church left in the Empire were Ollanustine missionaries, expelled centuries ago, while the Cornellians were establishing themselves here on the continent. How have they upheld the faith? Who ministers to them?"

After Della replied, Robertson tried to offer something in return. "As far as Leenics in the Imperium are concerned, we can tell you as much as we have been able to glean, but alas so many records were destroyed or lost in the course of the Civil War."

"Including Old Ceti's immigration rolls," Long explained. "The capital at Robles kept changing hands, and each time it did, less and less of the city remained standing. The city's still only a shadow of its prewar self."

"At any rate, with the exception of representatives from your nation with FODE, we cannot be sure that there is a substantial Leenic population anywhere in the Imperium," Robertson explained. "There would need to be a general inquiry before we could provide you any further information, which we are prepared to carry out in the interest of improving Arbiter-Shrailleen relations."
He who stands with me shall be my brother

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Leasath
Chargé d'Affaires
 
Posts: 385
Founded: Aug 06, 2006
Anarchy

Postby Leasath » Sun Jul 02, 2017 9:21 pm

Château des Fleurs, Countryside near Cléricot, Vannois
7:29 PM Vannoisian Standard


"They've told me some rubbish about a war coming, you know; after all the excitement in Latium, they expect the Emperor to take us to war! Laughable bunch of fools, I'd say, but then -- I wouldn't claim to know the Emperor's mind, you know, nor that of the Prime Minister. In any case, I wonder at times if I know my own mind, but then I think I've just bored you half to death now. How are you, really? How is court?"

The rather excitable speaker, one Duchess Évelyne de Le Tellier of Saint-Sernin, grinned slightly at her younger companion as she ushered him in. The Duchess, once a Lady-in-Waiting to the Dowager Empress Teresa and mother-in-law to countless Vannoisian nobles, had recently left court in Saint-Nazaire for what seemed to be the first time in decades; though she was fond of this home in the central countryside, near to the old Royal city of Cléricot, she found it difficult to separate herself from the wiles of the capitol. That is why, despite promising her family that she would take this time to relax away from any 'silly intrigues,' she had decided to suddenly to host a gathering -- a party, really, though she would never admit to such a thing -- of locals and a few friends from the greatest Vannoisian city.

"Quite the greeting, madame, I don't know just what to address first besides yourself," the younger man finally replied with a small, tight smile gracing his attractive features. The man was a Prince, of course, a man referred to by many as the Emperor's Right Hand; by many others as his brother; and by the rest as Charles the Younger, son of Aliénor and the Duke of Vierville, Jean-Yves Niort-Parthenay. Still very young, and by all accounts quite attractive, the Prince was oft mistaken for the Emperor Louis XIX in both men's youth; in fact, those that named them brothers were even known to mix the two up. Though Charles was now a touch taller than his elder cousin, and their eyes were unmistakably different due to colour (and, perhaps, the minds behind them), they remained uncannily alike in looks. Only those closest to both men knew they were far more unalike than anything else; perhaps it was why they were such close friends. "I suppose I ought to start with my good uncle, Jean-Marc, who sends his and his children's love to you.."

"Oh, oh, of course," Évelyne replied, still rather excited. "My dear son-in-law, I haven't seen him since before I even left Saint-Nazaire! Off with His Majesty in Latium, I think, probably with those Ghantish scoundrels that passed through the south, hmm?" The elder woman's eyes flashed, and her smile took on an air of falseness. It was obvious that this woman, a relic of Thibault and Teresa's court, was in fact rather fond of the Ghantish peoples; that they had fallen out of favour already under the new Emperor was simultaneously a tragedy and of no surprise to her, nor to those few like her who had witnessed the strange evolution of the Vannoisian state over the past 70-odd years since Thibault took the throne with his so very foreign wife. Charles, well briefed by his cousin on those allies of their great-grandmother still lurking in and outside of court, simply smiled back at her.

"Oh, yes, he was with the Ghantish host, though I should think he would like that disregarded on the whole. That conflict has been over near half a year, now, you know," the young man replied, walking into the nearby sitting room from the grandiose foyer that he and the Duchess had been occupying along with a similarly youthful servant awaiting drink orders. The Prince moved to the first seat he saw, quite close to the window and with a decent view of the foyer he had just departed. "All is well, now, you know. Latium is under the good Emperor Constantine, and well on her way to some semblance of normalcy. Now that His Imperial Majesty," Charles was sure to use Louis' title in its entirety, "is coronated and wedded -- well, our little corner of the world has rarely been in a better position, don't you think?"

"As you say, Prince, as you say," the Duchess said distractedly, almost moving to take a seat herself when the sound of another entrance shook her from her thoughts. "Ah, excuse me, your Highness, I'll be but a moment," she said quickly, moving just as fast to the populated foyer where an attractive young woman and what looked to be her husband were doffing their coats to the receptive butler before them. "Hello, hello, my lady, your lordship," she called, her tight smile widening once again into something approaching genuine.

"Oh - ah, hello there," the young woman replied, her large eyes looking over their hostess as she turned from the young man with her coat. She smoothed down her dress -- a simple, rather liberal black dress with something of a plunging neckline which drew the eye to the large, similarly simple necklace around her throat holding a beautiful diamond; she also wore lengthy white gloves, as was tradition, and over these was only her wedding ring and band. Speaking once again, she nodded her head slowly to the Duchess, saying, "A pleasure, Your Grace, as ever."

"Oh, the pleasure is all mine, Lady Marie-Céline. And Lord Néo, I trust that your father fares well? The good Duke and I are a dying breed, you know!" The Duchess moved forward quickly, trading kisses to the cheek with the fair Lady and offering her hand for a kiss to the woman's husband. "Come, come, I am sure there are more arrivals lying in wait," she said happily, leading the young couple into the larger sitting room in which Prince Charles had stood, a glass of red wine now in hand.

"Ah -- my father is quite well, Duchess, and sends his best. I know that he would have enjoyed this but alas, there was an engagement at the Lyncanestrian embassy in Saint-Nazaire and so you have us instead," the younger Néo replied easily, his eyes -- far smaller than those of his wife, and perhaps emphasized in their thinness by the squinted look he applied whenever he was not wearing his glasses. One might call him a fool for it, but he despised the use of the large frames, and with his eyes deemed 'too dry' for traditional contact lenses he went about without whenever he thought he could get away with it. "In fact, we're likely to be wanted at that same event, though we will be able to spend much of our evening here. I do apologize."

"Oh, think nothing of it, my lord, truly," Évelyne waved a hand, calling over another servant with one of her glove-clad, jewel encrusted hands and directing the duo to seats near the waiting Prince. "Come, now, I know that you are both well acquainted with the Prince Charles, hmm?"

"Of course," Marie-Céline stepped forward, offering her gloved hand for a kiss by the Prince -- which he gave happily -- before moving forward once again to gift him a kiss to each cheek, though she was forced onto the tips of her toes to reach even his bent face. "How are you, dear Charles? How is His Imperial Majesty, and the family, as well? I admit, it has been a while since I was in Saint-Nazaire -- father is so eager to keep me and Néo locked away here in Cléricot," she said, smiling brightly, seeming to light the entire room aflame. Tucking a lock of hair behind her ear, she stepped aside slightly to allow her husband room to shake the Prince's hand, and not one of the trio noticed terribly the somewhat conspiratorial grin on the face of Évelyne de Le Tellier nor when she was off again to welcome more nobility to her home.

"I am quite glad to see you both, Marie-Céline, Néo," Charles said, shaking the man's hand with a glad look on his face, before gesturing to the seats around them and moving to take one across form a small couch now occupied by the couple. "I am quite well, of course -- as is His Majesty, and all the family, most certainly. We spend our days awaiting an announcement from the Imperial matron, if you understand my meaning," Charles looked roguishly to the both of them, eliciting a twinkling laugh from the Lady and a grin and wink from her husband. "I have it on good authority your father, too, is quite well -- looking forward to the general elections last I heard, you know!"

"Always looking ahead, is father," Marie-Céline replied, taking a moment to take hold of a glass of white wine offered to her by the butler from earlier and allowing her husband a moment to retrieve his own glass. "One might say he's been looking forward to the next election since the last, but then who knows with men like Jacques Sardou so eager to take his place, hmm?"

"Ah, Sardou. Eagerness seems insufficient a word for the man, I'd say... So very excitable," Charles said. "But I have erred -- haven't even asked after the little Lady, Charlotte! Where is your little one, my friends?"

"Away with her grandmother at the moment, and it's all quite fortunate that she is," Néo responded, winking again in an obvious enough manner as to cause his wife to laugh rather than smack him for his words. "Little Charlotte has been an angel, of course, but seeing as we received this invitation and the one to the embassy as well some weeks ago we were able to arrange a holiday with my own mother for her. Perhaps the next time we visit the capitol we shall bring her along, hmm?"

"I am sure that would be quite enjoyable. I know His Majesty would be more than glad to host the three of you in the Imperial Palace for as long as you wish; it all seems rather empty after all the hustle and bustle of the coronation and the wedding, not to mention Catherine and Marie-Josée taking up residence with my mother and father for the past weeks," Charles tried to brush past the mention of his female cousins, Louis's eldest sisters, and though Marie-Céline's furrowed brow told him he had not gotten away completely clean she simply shook her head and cleared her face before speaking again.

"Yes, well. It had been quite a while since I'd seen His Majesty before the coronation ceremony; not that there was really time to speak then. That would be wonderful," she said, and there followed a lull in conversation. Charles took the moment to take a lengthier sip of his wine, and Néo excused himself politely after spotting a friend entering alongside his wife. Marie-Céline, eyebrow cocked and brown eyes sparkling slightly in the well-lit room, looked over the Prince once again.

"Do I interest you, my Lady, or is it my uncanny similarity to His Majesty that draws the eye? You'd not be the first," Charles said, his smile revealing a sense of exhaustion behind his well-crafted exterior; even within that lay some sort of anger, or bitterness. Marie-Céline could not discern just what. "My dear betrothed is wont to make the mistake, you know, though I'd ask that you not tell anyone. Young Marie-Victoire knows not who yet to profess her 'truest love' too."

Bitterness, then?

"The Duchess is young, as you say, Prince," the elder woman replied, leaning forward slightly and crossing her legs as she did so. "His Majesty arranged your betrothal himself, did he not? An extremely generous gesture, considering the Lady's wealth and popularity before she was so suddenly taken from the market..." Nearby, neither seemed to notice the lurking hostess. The Duchess Le Tellier drifted nearby the Prince and the Prime Minister's daughter, half-holding a conversation with a fellow old courtier who had left Saint-Nazaire some years ago. She kept an ear out for the words of both, though especially for the young Prince who was so trusted by the new Emperor.

"Yes, so sudden was the announcement, to all of us," Charles replied, blinking slowly. "One might think that Victoire had expected something else to be announced, by her reaction, but of course nobody would know of that."

"Nobody, your Highness?"

"Well. Nobody that would tell." Charles's smile grew slightly more bitter, and Marie-Céline felt as if she was on the precipice of... something. Évelyne felt it too, and stumbled through her conversation for a moment as she strained to listen. "Dangerous business, my Lady."

"Dangerous, your Highness? I'm not sure I follow," the Lady replied, smiling a smile that tried desperately to be genuine. "We're just talking, are we not?"

"Ah, you have been projecting such an air, yes; that alone is a fatal problem, my Lady," Charles said, sighing and taking a moment to down the rest of his glass. "I test, you play, and you fail. Any idea where, dearest Lady?" Marie-Céline sighed in concert with the still eavesdropping Évelyne, though for slightly different reasons. Marie, ashamed at her duplicity, made ready to apologize; Évelyne, disappointed in the younger woman and annoyed at the Prince's ability to see straight through her, prepared to deny, deny, deny any attempt to pry into the life of the Emperor.

"Perhaps I was too eager in asking after your betrothal, my Prince, though it was you that brought up the good Duchess Marie-Victoire," Marie-Céline murmured. "I was simply worried for your own sake; my family has ever been so close to your own, and I love you as an elder sister. Please, do not take too rashly to my questions." Her eyes searched those of the Prince, and he blinked slowly once again in response. Biting her lip, Marie-Céline spoke again, beginning, "I am ever so fond of --"

"It is quite alright, my Lady," Charles cut across her. "I know what you are after, and I must say that to think my so easy a mark puts you -- or rather, your dear handler -- to some shame. Your father has never shown himself a spy or some elusive shadow; no, your charisma ought to be the trait exploited in such operations." He shook his head, but smiled almost genuinely all the same. "In any event, listen. I know what you are after. He," Charles whispered now, hissing the word, "knows just what you are after. You'll find nothing, my dear. There is nothing. In this case, I can assure you, love has trumped any desires and any... willing participants in spite of everything. It would do you better to distance yourself from this inquiry entirely, before it blows up in somebody's face."

Marie-Céline had paled as Charles spoke, and that even had nothing on the reaction of Évelyne who choked on her wine and was currently clutching the arm of the chair she had all but collapsed into. For his part, the young Prince seemed to take no notice, and instead sighed.

"Will you- that is, must you- take this to- to His Majesty?" Marie-Céline spoke quietly, leaning further forward in order to avoid the ears of those around them. Charles chose not to notice that her dress most certainly had not been designed for such an eventuality, and instead looked directly into her large eyes. "I harbor only love for your family, Prince, I would never attempt to harm -"

"It is... alright, my Lady," Charles said, leaning forward himself to take the slightly shaking hand of the woman before him. "Enjoy your night, perhaps drink a little more wine. Calm yourself. His Majesty is not displeased with you; in fact, I have it on good authority that he views you and your family with the same love that he extends to family. Your father has served him well, my Lady. He hopes that you might serve the Crown as well."

"Of- of course, your Highness. I am not worthy of the honour. Thank you," Marie-Céline replied, sagging slightly and smiling in relief. Charles returned her relieved smile, though he seemed to still be quite calculating. Their conversation, made in a quiet tone now just above a whisper, remained confidential even to the straining, shocked Duchess Le Tellier.

"You might thank His Majesty when next you see him. Perhaps tomorrow, at his audiences. You will remain in the city after the ambassadorial event, surely, and he would be glad to meet with you and your husband even if young Charlotte is away," Charles said with a hint of command, to a vigorous nod from the elder woman. He nodded once in return. "You will be given rooms in one of the wings of the palace, of course, as special guests and -- family." The Prince smiled as he stood, looking about, and Marie-Céline stood with him. Évelyne stumbled up, for her part, forcing a look of excitement as was plastered upon her face before when she made to move towards the two.

"Ah- my Prince, my Lady, perhaps you would like to joi- join me, ah, as it seems there has been a game of some sort started over at the other end of the room? Do either of you play cards, at all?" The Duchess stumbled through her words just as well as she did through the room, and cursed herself internally as she did so. Charles only met her with a benign smile, nodding.

"Though, perhaps it is time for myself and my dear husband to depart," Marie-Céline said worriedly, looking over the shoulder of their hostess to the large clock on a mantle nearby. "We must make it to the capitol within the hour, I think, and the only way to get there now is by the little airport a few minutes outside of the city, no?"

"Right you are, my Lady," Charles replied faster than Évelyne could speak, nodding along. "In fact, that is the very airport I flew in to earlier this evening from the capitol. Here," he fished around in a coat pocket for a moment, withdrawing a card and a pen, before scrawling a handful of words and his own signature upon the back and handing it over to the woman. "Take the plane, it is a small thing but the pilot is excellent and the champagne even better," the Prince smiled, pushing the card into Marie-Céline's hand and calling for her husband and their coats as well. Évelyne could only watch as the Lady, now looking just as radiant as she had when she and her husband had entered the residence, was bustled out the door to the next event on their schedule. It was only after they had left that the Duchess realized she had been left next to alone with the Prince in the open foyer, as the rest of the party had gravitated to the card game across the room as well as a few men and women telling stories of Latium and the Brothers War and tales of the Vannoisian army there. She swallowed slowly, bowing her head to the royal in front of her.

"You know, Duchess, I find I think best while outside in the night air... It is still light; would you join me?" Charles spoke with an edge in his voice, but for all who observed he seemed a kind and lovely young man; just as his cousin. "Of course, you may say inside if you wish; I though perhaps you might want to hear what I -- what he, has to say -- away from all of your... friends."

"Of- of course, your Highness. I would be glad to join you," Évelyne replied, calling for their coats and some semblance of strength as she prepared to exit the château. Once they were well-clad and prepared, the Prince offered his large arm, and the Duchess took a light hold of the crook of his elbow with one of her small hands. They stepped out into the front yard, which was overhung with a grand awning held up by solid stone pillars and floored with colourful tile which almost distracted from the wealth of flowers and trees growing all about the main building. The Prince looked about for a moment, before nodding and walking off the front steps to the right, where a small path led through the most fragrant of the gardens.

"Now, Duchess, know that you are seen as a most loyal and valuable servant to the Crown even now..."
Seredinia | Yavorstrana
Known as Malay
Member of Ajax & Kylaris

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Free Garza
Chargé d'Affaires
 
Posts: 420
Founded: Jan 17, 2005
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Indignatio princeps mort est

Postby Free Garza » Thu Jul 06, 2017 5:30 pm

Indignatio princeps mort est (Latin), meaning, "The anger of the prince means death."

OOC Note: The Helga role was RP'd by my friend and roommate, LRE.

The Royal Study, Royal Valdez Palace, Garza City, Free Garza,
1303 hours, local time, 6 July, 2017



His Catholic Majesty, Diego IV, by the Grace of God, King of Free Garza, slammed his fist down on his desk in his main office in the Royal Valdez Palace, sitting across from his wife, Queen Helga, his nurse and mistress, Sandra Velasco, and Major Luis Beltran, his military aide. He was absolutely furious and it showed. In fact, he began knocking books and papers over on his desk in his anger, before Helga and Sandra managed to calm him down a little, coax him as a team out of his outrage. He had lost his fucking patience and not for the first time, either.

“That damned, goat-humping priest! How dare he? Who is Julius IV, other than a foolish peasant monk elevated above his merits? Vicar of Christ indeed! I have nothing but respect for the office, but the man holding it is not of God! I’m not sure how he got exalted to such a high position, but I suspect a bit of money changed hands, because he hadn’t earned it! And who are these idiot monarchs, anyway? How dare they? Who are they to keep banging the war drums for another damned war that this region needs not? Between this would-be crusader and those foolish kings and emperors who all but scream ‘Deus Veult’ at the top of their lungs, it will be the Devil trying to keep the peace in this region!” Diego finally lit a cigarette and poured himself a brandy to relax.

Mi corazon, please do not give yourself a stroke! I understand that you are outraged, incensed, even, but try and keep your health!” Queen Helga rushed to kiss and embrace the King, while Sandra began rubbing his shoulders a bit to soothe him.

“I am enraged, actually! This latest push for a ‘crusade’ in Rietumimark is exactly the sort of wasteful and reckless military adventurism that we need to avoid! We have to uphold the peace if and where possible! Have none of these people recalled the Treaty of New Laconia? Most of us signed that treaty, after all, committing to respect national borders and avoid aggressive war! It’s high time to remind people that starting wars and breaking treaties is not an honorable path for a just war, but a dishonorable breach of the peace and of one’s sworn oaths! Free Garza also signed the treaty creating the CPO, even if it was under the Republic! We have to stop this crisis in its tracks, before those lunatics trigger another Great War!” Diego ranted a bit more, though not as red-faced as before.

“If it helps, I am confident that Premier Pacino is in full agreement, as are most of the coalition, including even many of the Christian Democrats. Certainly, the Liberal Democrats, Socialists, and Communists oppose such a war. It is a phenomenally bad idea, that of going to war over Deweden and Rietumimark. I blame your Uncle Albert and his protege, Cassandra. I suspect, though, that the Romans might not be open to a war, either. They seem very skeptical of this Pope, for instance, and they recently wed one of their noblest ladies to the Prince-Regent of Akai. Perhaps we can work on the Ghantish a bit still, though the SBC monarchies are a lost cause, I fear. They hear the Pope’s call for a crusade and they’re all but painting crosses on their gun trucks and main battle tanks! That will probably be the next step, in fact,” Sandra spoke her mind.

“I concur, but only up to a point. We have other possible inroads, too. The Zurias. My family is connected to them through my cousin Kaiser Martin’s marriage to Alexandra of Ghant. There are those and also my mother’s union with King Malibar of Dakmoor, lest we forget. Whatever their differences, the Zurias and Dakmarans, like us, share a keen dislike for Emperor Albert and Princess Cassandra, and that branch of the dynasty. That is who is driving this from that end. Get the Zurias, the Dakmarans, and the Romans all on the same side, and see if perhaps we can pull this vainglorious cabal surrounding the Emperor back from the abyss. It is perhaps time to call in some favors from our new in-laws. Don’t forget your grandmother, too. She’s a Gentry, after all,” Helga added her own thoughts.

“All very good thoughts, I concur. The other part of this is the lords and barons and various kings, not to mention the Prime Minister. Where does Nymun stand on all of this? He’s been curiously quiet of late, after all. Probably preparing for the general election. This could be a sleeper issue for him: war vs. peace. He could paint Haribec as a ‘warmonger’ and himself as a man of peace. Just something to whisper in his ear, perhaps. He’ll need every advantage he can get. What does Your Majesty think?” Beltran asked his King.

“All very good ideas, but we must get to work on them posthaste, and get the Premier, Defense Minister, and Foreign Minister on it in a hurry as well. The sooner that the Crown and the Government are on the same page, the easier it will be to coordinate a national policy of opposition to such a conflict. We do not, I fear, have much time. The SBC nations are pushing hard for war, egged on by this Pope, who seems less than Christlike when it comes to such things. In the end, though, it’s up to the elected government, my government. My constitutional duty as King is simply to advise them. I can only hope that they listen to my advice,” Diego smiled at last, finishing his cigarette and ordering some lunch at last…...yet another Reuben sandwich with an artichoke salad and Nekulturnyan dressing.

“Right, then, let’s get to work,” Helga encouraged them, smiling as Sandra and she ordered their mid-day meals from the royal kitchen, as did Major Beltran…….a soft pretzel with mustard for the Queen, lox and bagels for Sandra, and jamon with gazpacho for Beltran.

To say the least, this would be another working lunch, and this wasn’t the first time that Diego’s women stuck around for those.
Last edited by Free Garza on Thu Jul 06, 2017 5:48 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Viva La Garza!

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