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Excalbia Isles Chronicles (Nation Lore; WA & Invite Only)

Where nations come together and discuss matters of varying degrees of importance. [In character]
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Excalbia Isles Chronicles (Nation Lore; WA & Invite Only)

Postby Excalbia » Wed Jan 05, 2022 11:47 am

(OOC: This thread is for me to fill in some blanks for my countries with contemporary posts that have no other home. It follows from these threads: viewtopic.php?f=4&t=436110&start=75, viewtopic.php?f=4&t=490541 and viewtopic.php?f=4&t=507113. Members of the Western Atlantic and others who are invited to do so may post.)

Parnu Castle
Town of Seda, Barony of Parnu
Excalbia


It had been almost a year and a half since Suniefreda Hoogboom had broken up with Prince James. The Prince’s reaction had been, to say the least, interesting. Recovering from His Imperial Highness’ reaction, or to be vulgar, covering up his reaction had been a big part of Baron Ilvars Paegle’s job.

The Lord Bailiff of Parnu leaned back in his chair. His office had been in the Castle, before the Prince had renovated it. In yet one of his many displays of disdain for the Imperial Household Agency, the Prince had relocated their local offices to one of the Castle’s outbuildings. The facilities were still more than adequate - if anything the Baron’s new office was larger and more modern than the old - yet he did miss the view he used to have from one of the Castle’s turrets.

The Baron opened a folder on his desk. Fortunately, the Prince’s… escapades had greatly diminished following the Emperor’s death. In fact, since then the only woman he had shown any interest in was the Ultrasylvan Princess, Zsófia. Still, there were several women whose silence the IHA had been required to obtain. Some agreed out of a mix of patriotism and financial compensation. However, one, a local Parnu girl ironically, had refused.

The IHA had learned that the woman, a local kindergarten teacher, was pregnant. Neither she nor the IHA could conclusively determine whether or not the child was the Prince’s. Not without a paternity test, and the IHA would by no means permit such a test to be performed. The Baron had taken a direct hand in her case and tried to appeal to her on many different levels. None of them worked, until he realized that the woman was from a rather old-fashioned family and she was worried about their reaction.

Baron Ilvars had then arranged for her to legitimately receive a prestigious fellowship in early childhood education that would move her to Ajuba. He then helped her arrange a private adoption - one that was completely legal, but shielded by privacy laws to keep her identity from the prospective parents. It was, in the end, a rather old fashioned arrangement, but the young teacher had accepted it.

The Baron sighed and closed the folder. He hoped that the Prince’s change of behavior would be permanent. It would certainly make it easier on him. With a slight crooked smile, he picked up the folder and added it to his “burn bag”. By the end of the day, all record of his… transaction with the young teacher would be nothing more than mulch and a puff of smoke.
Last edited by Excalbia on Wed Jul 26, 2023 6:08 am, edited 5 times in total.

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Postby Excalbia » Thu Jan 06, 2022 12:57 pm

The Crypt of the Church of the Redeemer
Citadel Excalbia


The Reverend Kristaps Balodis made his way down the narrow, twisting stone stairs into the crypt. It was part of his regular rounds, as he thought of it, to pass through the crypt chapel at least once a day to stop and pray among the tombs. The crypt was almost always empty, which he supposed was part of the reason he liked to visit. It was both a quiet place to pray, and it seemed to him that it was a lonely place that needed a physical presence once in a while.

Coming around the corner of the stairs, Balodis saw that the crypt was not empty. A solitary figure, a young man, knelt by the newest tomb, that of Emperor David IV. Realizing that it was the late Emperor’s youngest son, Prince James, Balodis turned and started to leave. He felt it best to give the young man his privacy.

“Wait,” Prince James called from across the chapel.

Balodis turned, somewhat startled, then bowed. “Your Imperial Highness,” he said, “what can I do for you?”

Without rising from his knees, James wiped his eyes with his sleeve and said, “Reverend, do you… do you think… think the dead can hear us? I mean… assuming that they’re in heaven. That heaven is real… and…”

The minister walked over to the young prince and placed a large, well worn hand on his shoulder. “I believe, with all my heart, that heaven is real. And, yes, I suppose that the departed souls in heaven are aware of what we say and do on Earth. Either by their own awareness or God’s grace. While we don’t invoke the intercession of the deceased, as our Catholic brothers and sisters do, we do affirm the Communion of Saints in the creed.”

James nodded. He looked at his father’s tomb, then up at Balodis. “Thank you, Reverend.”

Balodis nodded and started to walk away. “If there’s anything else I can do for you, Your Highness, please let me know.”

“Thank you, Reverend,” James said before turning back to his father’s tomb and reaching out to gently touch it.

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Postby Excalbia » Mon Jan 17, 2022 10:28 am

Princess Christiana and Lady Janet’s Penthouse Apartment (formerly Lord Tariq’s)
Landing, Excalbia


As the credits of the most recent episode of The Sword scrolled across the screen, the Empress Dowager Elizabeth said, “What a load of crap.”

Princess Christiana laughed. “Of course it is,” she said, twisting to turn her face towards her sister-in-law, “but it is entertaining. Such drama!”

Lady Janet untangled herself from her wife and eased out from the blanket they were sharing. She looked over at the other sofa, where the Empress Dowager sat in her flannel nightgown and robe. “More wine?”

“If we’re going to watch another episode of that drivel, I’ll need more than one,” Elizabeth said, laughing.

Janet smiled and looked down at Christiana. “And I know you want more.”

“You know me so well, dear,” Christiana said as Janet walked towards the bar to fetch another bottle of wine.

Christiana turned to Elizabeth. “I’m so glad you came down for a visit,” she said. “Janet and I have really grown to love it here, but,” the Princess shrugged, “sometimes we feel… cutoff from the family down here. Especially now that Tariq is Knootoss most of the time.”

Elizabeth nodded. “Oh, I was glad for the invitation,” she said, lifting up her glass as Janet approached with a fresh bottle of wine. “I’ve felt the same way.” She gave a little shrug of her own. “I talk to Joseph and Anna, and Rebecca quite often, but they’re all living their own lives. Joseph is so busy now. And James is living in Parnu when he isn’t spending time with Princess Zsofia… it does get rather lonely…” She looked down and blinked away tears.

“I’m sorry,” Janet said, as she poured some wine. “I… I know you miss the… David.”

Christiana gave a slight frown. “We all do…”

“That’s why it’s so important that we spend time together,” Janet said. She looked at Elizabeth, still a little stunned that she was on such familiar terms with the Empress Dowager. “You’re welcome any time. You know that. You don’t need an invitation…”

“That’s right,” Christiana said, “Consider this your home. Whenever you want to use it.” She smiled. “Lord knows we spent enough time living in your home!”

Elizabeth smiled. “Thank you both,” she said.

“So,” Christiana said after sipping her own refilled glass, “you said James is still seeing Zsofia?”

“He is,” Elizabeth said.

“That’s good news. I’m glad he’s out of… his funk. I know Tariq will be relieved.”

“And how’s he doing in Knootoss?”

“He’s doing well. Keeping busy.”

“Is he still seeing that Infanta… Letizia?”

“No,” Christiana shook her head, “she’s practically engaged to a Mayaguan nobleman. So Tariq says. He and Letizia are still friends, from what I gather. And he’s now interested in a Pantocratorian girl living in Knootoss.”

“A Pantocratorian in Knootoss? That must be… interesting,” Elizabeth said smiling.

Christiana nodded. “So, on to the next episode?”

“Sure,” Elizabeth said.

“It’s trash, but good trash,” Janet said.

“At least the actress playing me looks the part,” Christiana said with a wink, as she started the episode.

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Postby Excalbia » Tue Jan 18, 2022 10:41 am

The Imperial Palace
Citadel Excalbia


The Emperor’s private secretary, a matronly woman with years of experience, bowed slightly. “Your Imperial Majesty,” she said in the pleasant but flat tone favored by the Imperial Household Agency, “His Imperial Highness, the Baron of Parnu, Prince James.”

Joseph looked from his desk, an ornate rococo piece selected for him by Empress Anna. “Excuse me,” the Emperor said, raising an eyebrow in surprise.

“Prince James wishes an audience, Majesty,” the woman said, still bowing.

“Of course,” Joseph said, laying down his pen and sitting back in his chair, “please, show him in, Margaret.”

The secretary straightened, bowed again, and stepped out of the Emperor’s study. A moment later, she opened the door again. She bowed and said, “His Imperial Highness, the Baron of Parnu.”

“Thank you,” James said as he walked into the study. The Prince looked around. The room was larger than the study his father had used in Sweyn Castle and was much brighter, with high ceilings, pale blue walls and large windows on one side of the room. His older brother, the Emperor, sat behind his desk, dressed in a gray suit and looking at James with a cautious expression.

“I wasn’t expecting you,” the Emperor said, before adding, “but it is good to see you, James. Please, have a seat.”

“Thanks,” James said as he took a seat across from Joseph. “I’m sorry that I just dropped in… I was…” He looked down at his hands, which sat knotted together in his lap. “I was visiting the crypt…”

Joseph nodded. Their father’s death still felt raw and fresh.

“And… I wanted to see you…”

“You should come for dinner,” Joseph said, “I know Anna and Elizabeth would like to see you; we haven't seen you since Father’s funeral…”

“I know,” James said, “and I’m sorry.”

Joseph drew in a breath and nodded.

“I would like to stay for dinner,” James said, “but I have something I need to discuss first.”

“OK,” Joseph said with a nod.

“Before Father died, when he arranged for me to get my commission, we talked about me taking on more of the family duties.” James dropped his head. “Unfortunately, Father… died before we could act on my… wish.”

“I see,” Joseph said flatly.

“But I still,” James said, looking up, “want to… pull my weight, I guess.” He turned his head to the right. “I guess I’m… I’m tired of playing at being the spoiled rich kid. I want… to be… a person of substance.”

“Alright.” Joseph leaned back in his chair and crossed his legs. “What does this… pulling your weight look like to you?”

“Well,” James drew in a breath, “I… I would like to do something to promote animal welfare. There are some terrific animal rescues doing great work in the mountains and the north. I think that, with an Imperial patron, they could do even more in terms of public outreach, fundraising and education…”

Joseph nodded.

“And they already have ties to the Imperial Wildlife Preserves. I think I could also help them forge ties with similar groups in other countries, especially in Upper Virginia and the CSS, since we share a common wilderness area…”

“Naturally,” Joseph said with a smile. “And this wouldn’t have anything to do with a certain princess and her fondness for bears, would it?”

James blushed slightly, then a hint of anger crossed his eyes. But he drew in a breath and spoke evenly. “Well, Zsófia… may have been the impetus, but our visit to the wildlife center… really spoke to me…”

The Emperor cocked his head to one side and rubbed his chin. “I can see that.” He opened his mouth to say something else, but chose not to. Instead, he leaned forward. “Very well, if you want to extend Imperial Patronage to these wildlife centers - as long as they’ve been vetted by the IHA - I have no objection.” He smiled again. “And it’s good to see you… interested in something like this, James. I look forward to seeing what you’ll do with this line of charitable endeavor.”

“Thanks,” James said, releasing a breath and giving a slight smile.

“So, 7:30 for dinner? I’m having drinks with the Chancellor and some members of the Cabinet at 6, so it’ll be a bit later than usual.”

“That’s fine,” James said, rising.

“Good. I’ll let Anna and Elizabeth know that you’ll be joining us. Elizabeth’s friend MJ will be dining with us as well.” With a nod, Joseph looked down at his papers and James turned and walked away.

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Postby Excalbia » Fri Jan 21, 2022 11:24 am

The Ministry of State
Citadel Excalbia


The Strategic Planning Office resided on the seventh floor of the old, arte nouveau wing of the Ministry. It was prized real estate, close to the offices of multiple directors-general and just one floor below the Minister and Deputy Minister, despite being a small windowless warren of small cubicles and two tiny offices. Its location in a windowless corridor, however, was no accident; rather, it had been an early 20th century measure to maintain the confidentiality of the work that went on in that office.

The SPO, as it was called, tended to be overestimated or neglected in its influence, depending on who you asked. While the SPO had a small staff and mainly performed a coordinating and editorial function while reporting to the Director-General for Intelligence, Research and Analysis, it did have the responsibility for looking at the “big picture” and making strategic recommendations to the Eighth Floor. It also had the lead on conducting the quadriennel policy review and any special policy reviews that might be commissioned by the Minister.

“The last QPR was just done a little over two years ago,” Bryan Rosser said frowning, “and we just did an update…”

“I know, I know,” Tanya Rimkus said nodding, “but this comes from above the Minister. Above the Chancellor, to be honest…”

Rosser blinked. “I see,” he said.

“Tracey,” Rimkus said, referring to her boss, Tracey Stone, the Director-General for Intelligence, Research and Analysis, “said the Minister believes that the Emperor is looking to set the tone for a foreign policy distinct from his predecessor’s…”

“I see,” Rosser, Rimkus’ deputy said. “So, the priorities come directly from the Emperor…”

Rimkus shrugged. “Either from him or from the Chancellor interpreting his wishes. It’s pretty much the same for us, isn’t it?”

Rosser chuckled. “I suppose so,” he said.

Rimkus nodded. “So, we need to fit our strategic priorities into these new buckets - strengthening our alliances, expanding our network of treaties, promoting multilateralism, and fostering trade and prosperity.”

Rosser nodded. “Some of that will just be rewriting our existing policies…”

“Yes, but,” Rimkus gave a wry smile, “Tracey said we need to ‘build on accession to the Ducat Zone by restoring military cooperation with Knootoss and,’” she drew in a breath, “‘revising the Treaty of Courtland…’”

“****,” Rosser said, “****ing ****. She can’t be serious. We’re not dredging that corpse up again…”

“I’m afraid so,” Rimkus said.

“Well, then I suppose we need to get to work and have the Exec Sec,” he said, referring to the Executive Secretariat that controlled the Ministry’s flow of paper, “start tasking out papers to the DGs..”
Last edited by Excalbia on Fri Jan 21, 2022 11:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Soveriegn States » Mon Jan 24, 2022 8:16 am

Tom Caine’s Residence Outside Jefferson

“Thanks for coming,” Tom Caine said as he extended his hand.

“Thanks for the invite,” Sean Collins replied, tentatively taking Caine’s hand.

“Come in and have a seat,” Caine gestured to the cluster of modernist chairs and sofas arranged in a semicircle opening to the floor-to-ceilings windows that overlooked a wooded, snow-covered glen. “What would you like to drink?”

“Umm,” Collins walked over and sat in a gray and metal chair, “I’ll take coffee if you have it…”

“Sure,” Caine said as he walked over to his wet bar and popped a pod into his coffee maker. “Cream? Sugar?”

“Both, please,” Collins said, turning to look at his one-time political rival. He added, “I admit that I was surprised to get your invitation…”

“I can imagine,” Caine said. Though only a little younger than Collins, Caine was trim, athletic and youthful in appearance, while his successor bore the look of a retired union boss and politician. The former president carried two cups of coffee over to Collins and handed him one, before taking the other and sitting across the corner from the older man.

“Thanks,” Collins said, taking the coffee and sipping it.

“I’m sure you’re wondering why I asked you to come out here rather than coming to my penthouse downtown…”

“Well,” Collins said, “I do rather appreciate coming here rather than going downtown… I… I’ve tried to stay out of the city as much as possible… keeping a low profile, as they say.” He sighed. “Losing three homes…”

Caine nodded. “I can imagine the transition was difficult.” He sipped his coffee, then smiled. “I must say that I admire you for your decision to remain in the Confederation. Despite the secession of both Saxmere and Southland…”

Collins shrugged. “Just seemed the right thing to do as a former president…”

“And that’s what I wanted to talk with you about,” Caine said. Collins raised a bushy eyebrow. “As the only living former presidents,” he smiled, “and as the two polar extremes of contemporary politics, I think it’s important that we do our part to help heal the divisions and restore the… confidence of the Confederation.”

“Hmm,” Collins sipped his coffee. “I’m not sure anyone really wants to hear anything from me at this point…”

“Oh, I’m not so sure about that, Sean - may I call you Sean?”

“Of course.”

“And call me Tom,” Caine smiled. “I think hearing from us… together… will make a strong point. That political differences don’t have to end in conflict, division and separation.” He set down his coffee and leaned forward. “I think this is a… critical time for the Confederation.” He frowned. “Part of the reason I always opposed Saxmerean secession was that I feared it would set a precedent for… other states to just pull out and leave if they disagreed with something. And that’s exactly what happened with Southland and Deandra. They didn’t want a Liberty Party president under any circumstances, so they… took their toys and went home, as it were.”

He waved his hand. “Now, I know the conventional wisdom is that all of those left in the Confederation are more alike than those who left, and that’s true enough. For now.” He leaned towards Collins. “But we both know it’s human nature to have… differences of opinion and different points of view. And to turn those differences into parties and, eventually, tribes.” He shook his head. “New Virginia is big and wealthy. Trondgard and Alud are small, but wealthy. Northlands… isn’t big or particularly wealthy… yet. So, how long before Trondgard and Alud resent New Virginia for dominating the legislature? How long before Northlands wants a bigger piece of the pie? With Saxmere, Southland and Deandra having already established a pattern for secession, what’s to keep the whole Confederation from splintering?”

Collins nodded sadly. “I’ve had the same thoughts.”

“So,” Caine said, picking up his cup, “that’s where we can help. As the ‘elder statesmen’ of the Confederation, we can… promote a different message. One that reminds people that there is still more that binds us together than there is that divides us.”

“What do you have in mind?”

“I thought we’d start by jointly hosting a gathering for young people at my presidential library. Then follow up with a series of joint appearances…”

Collins bit his lip. “Ok,” he said after a few moments. “I’m in.”

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Postby Soveriegn States » Mon Feb 07, 2022 12:31 pm

OOC: Joint post with Knootoss.

Prime Minister’s Office
Haag, Knootoss


Janice Rudeles, President of the Confederation of Sovereign States - or what was left of it, she thought dryly, entered the Prime Minister's office with confidence and grace. In her previous role as Foreign Secretary, she had grown quite accustomed to high-level meetings. Though she was nearing 60, Rudeles presented a much more youthful appearance, even with a short bob of white hair.

The Prime Ministers’ office was, like its medieval-era predecessor, octagonal in shape, with plain wooden paneling and grey carpeting that would provide little distraction. Though the office was decorated sparsely, each item of furniture was an antique, and each knick-knack had been carefully selected. A leather-bound copy of the Constitution. A 16th century painting of the first of the Duke of Chamaven to convert to Calvinism. A framed photograph of the larger Jonkervelde family, gathered in front of their Estate. A particularly comfortable fountain pen.

Charlotte van Jonkervelde led her Confederal counterpart into the office with a calm gesture, the double doors sealing behind them. In this space, the view of Hartstad from behind the green-grey curtains was all that reminded one that this tower was not the original, but rather one that had recently been superimposed on the cluster of different buildings that together made up the Knootian parliamentary complex. The office towered over the surrounding commercial buildings, though not the new superstructure in which the expanded 450-seat Parliament was housed. For the Prime Minister to be seated above the representatives of the people was unseemly, the architect had felt. And Charlotte van Jonkervelde couldn’t help but agree, even if the large, boxy construction to which the Prime Ministerial Offices were attached cast shade on her desk during afternoon tea.

“Thank you so much for being here”, Charlotte said. “Whilst going through a difficult time, no doubt. Please tell me how I can make that job a little easier.”

Rudeles smiled. “Thank you, Madam Prime Minister,” she said. “Your warm welcome is an excellent start. It is reassuring to know that we are still counted among the sovereign nations of the world despite our reduced size.” She took her seat and drew her legs together in an almost prim fashion. “These have certainly been difficult times for the Confederation. And I know there have been many issues on your plate as well. I hope that we can find a few ways to help make things easier for both of us.”

“Agreed.”

Van Jonkervelde had taken one of the chairs opposite, mirroring the other woman’s pose. “Knootoss is a small nation in its own way”, she opined. “The territorial extent of the Confederation and Knootoss are similar now. Though admittedly, the northern States are more sparsely populated.”

She hummed: “The secession of Saxmere was, in its own way, an opportunity for the Confederation to gain more coherence. To be united around similar values is important in any policy. Even if one is divided by language or ethnicity.” Her hand gestured towards the parliament building next to them, as if to indicate such divisions were present near to them. “I’m more puzzled by the decision of the more recent … changes. I’d be interested in your perspective.”

“The… secession of Southland and Deandra did come as a surprise,” Rudeles said, folding her hands on her right knee. “Not so much in its occurrence, to be honest, as in its rapidity.” She unfolded her hands and began to make some small gestures. “Our… confederation was, as was intended by its founders, a rather loose union of semi-independent states. Secession has always been considered a real possibility, even before the original Saxmere crisis.”

The President leaned forward. “What changed with that first crisis was the depth of our political divisions. Some of the opposition to former President Caine was, in my opinion - which I know is suspect as I was his secretary of foreign affairs,” she gave a gentle laugh, “rather unhinged. And, unfortunately, the divisions over President Caine and his policies tended to break on geographic lines.

“Saxmere was always an outlier, being devoutly Catholic, but Southland was as fervently Protestant. In many ways, it has always had more in common with Excalbia in terms of its cultural outlook than with the rest of the Confederation. Deandra, on the other hand, has always been far more left-leaning than the rest of us. And, to be frank, without being offensive, I hope,” she said, giving a slightly apologetic look, “the Knootian position on Southern Epheron hurt us by association in Deandra.”

The President sat back. She spread her hands and gave a slight sheepish smile. “Then, there was the 2020 election. Without Saxmere, President Collins had no hope of re-election. Unfortunately, my former colleague, Rihards Krauklis was, just between us, a disastrous candidate. His pugnacious approach endeared him to core supporters but alienated everyone else. With no winner in the election, it was thrown to the House. And they deadlocked. Several members on both sides behaved very poorly, leading to an adjournment with no new President.

“Southland, Deandra, New Virginia and Northland all called for a constitutional convention, which met the constitutional requirement to convene such a convention. That opened the door for any change the delegates wanted. As you know, Southland and Deandra decided they wanted out. The rest decided on significant changes - a unicameral legislature, ranked order voting, and greater powers for the confederal government. All together these changes should make us more stable, if somewhat smaller.”

“No offence taken, with regards to the … South Epheron matter”, Jonkervelde replied after a moment of thoughtful repose. “I imagine it’ll be a factor in the upcoming Conference. The Boer people are eager to, as one of my aides puts it, apply for readmission to the human race after the recent border readjustments, and the formal abolition of apartheid.”

She sighed: “We can do our best to temper their expectations somewhat. But… that’s an aside...”

Rudeles nodded politely, but kept silent. With any luck, South Epheron and it’s reintegration into the region would not be an issue she would have to address directly.

The Knootian Prime Minister re-crossed her legs as she continued: “As you know, my own country has had a period of devolution as well. I am glad we have avoided the rocky politics of separatism, at least.” She smiled: “Do you believe the new constitutional order will allow the Confederation to play a different role on the international stage?”

“I do,” Rudeles said, “so long as we can… recover our confidence that we can act independently without looking over our collective shoulder at Excalbia.” She paused. “Don’t get me wrong - since Emperor David’s rapprochement at the end of the Caine Administration, Excalbia has been nothing but proper and correct in its relations with us. However, psychologically there is a big difference between having the Empire on the other side of the Borodea Mountains and having it a short drive from our capital.”

She leaned forward slightly. “We, of course, have no reason to believe that Excalbia harbors any hostile intent, but it would be… nice to have some… reassurance.”

“Of course”, van Jonkervelde agreed. “And we have for some time been perceived as a counterbalance to Excalbian interests in the Isles. Some of my predecessors have eagerly leapt into that role, seeing it as an opportunity to expand our influence. My perspective is… perhaps more nuanced. It is my belief that we should find ourselves in a situation where the region is united, if not around shared values, then at least around ideas of common defence and trade. The changes in Southland and Deandra make it even more important that your borders stay open. That the differences may dissolve over time.”

She sighed: “I’ll admit, I’d hoped that the Atlantic Ducat would’ve done the same thing for Knootoss and Pantocratoria, but…” She trailed. Leaving that thought unspoken. “I believe our first priority will be to see Excalbia enter the Ducat zone, and have a solid, shared regulatory framework.

The balancing act will be to carve out a space for the Confederation to act independently on the regional- and world stage. Closer defence cooperation with the Sovereign States is on the table, as you know. And then there’s the tricky matter of increased naval cooperation.”

"I agree that it would be helpful to have Excalbia enter the Ducat zone, and we fully support such a move. Having Saxmere in the zone has made keeping the borders open to trade much easier. "

The President steepled her fingers. "As for military cooperation, I have an idea. While a Knootian base in the Tartevs would be a tough sell, especially with Joseph on the throne, I doubt that even Excalbia could object too strongly to a Confederal base, especially since we've lost our base in Deandra. And if we granted you access to the base in return for technical coordination, again, Excalbia would be… limited in hope far it could go in making an objection."

”You are, after all, still an independent power”, Jonkervelde agreed. “I suggest we defer publishing any understanding we might reach on basing until after the summit has been concluded, but are able to rule out Knootian sovereignty. The Excalbians want to increase cooperation as well, which I’m open to. But what they cannot offer, I think, is a place where a battlegroup and air assets might be permanently stationed - ready to act on any invader that might come in from outside the region. Extending the battlespace further from Knootian shores will reduce opportunities for our enemies to surround us. As the GDODAD did so many years ago.”

An aide approached quietly to refresh the womens’ drinks. Jonkervelde accepted a second cup of tea and then continued: “It will be a balancing act between working closely with the Excalbians and asserting our legitimate national interests, respectively. I do sometimes wonder how much our republican form of government is a disadvantage in regional diplomacy. All these crowned men do so like to bond together, in their private palaces, away from the prying eyes of the press.”

Rudeles laughed lightly. “You’re right, of course. The Excalbians, Pantocratorians, Caldans… even the Braslanders and several of the… minor powers are all in-laws.”

She took a second cup as well, and held the warm cup in her hands. “To your point, though, it will be a balancing act, and we recognize that. I think the first step will be, as you mentioned, will be the summit and getting the Excalbians into the Ducat zone. After that, we can make an agreement for joint development of our new naval base in the Tartevs.” She paused and sipped her tea. “Perhaps the base would be… more palatable if the Excalbians could feel included somehow. Maybe involve one of their contractors in the construction. Under careful watch, of course. We’re even considering purchasing some of the naval ships they’re so proud of… of the smaller variety, of course.”

The Knootian Prime Minister made a thoughtful noise. “They are fine ships, I’m told”, she said, “But of course there are issues of compatibility and lock-in. Are you comfortable being dependent on manufacturers that rely on Imperial Navy contracts in that way? At least when it comes to Knootian shipbuilders, you know that there is very little geopolitical risk.” She sipped her tea. “Though I am sure that Knootian business will get a fair shot, if there is a public tender.”

“I’m sure you’re correct about… tying ourselves too closely to Excalbian manufacturers… from an economic point of view. There are also,” President Rudeles said, “political considerations.” She smiled. “Keeping Excalbia… from jumping to alarmist conclusions is rather important for us. We believe that if we’re turning to them for at least some of our military hardware they will be less… concerned about any joint Confederal-Knootian naval base in the Tartevs.” She sipped her tea. “Naturally, we will hold a public tender and we would, ideally, like to procure both Excalbian and Knootian hardware.”

"Of course. And I expect that you will be investigating these possibilities thoroughly”, van Jonkervelde echoed. “Another possibility might be a joint venture - like that fighter jet that was developed prior to the business around the Mittelmeer. It all depends on where the relationship will be after the conference. Hopefully some rapprochement will be made possible by the expansion of the Ducat."

Rudeles smiled broadly and set down her cup. “A joint venture would absolutely be the best solution,” she said enthusiastically. “If we could play a useful role in… brokering such an arrangement, it would, to be perfectly honest, the best arrangement for the Confederation. It would certainly… inoculate us against any objection from the Excalbians over further military cooperation between us and Knootoss.”

"I think it's only in the best interests of our relationship that you be seen to broker such an agreement, based on Confederal needs", van Jonkervelde conceded. "It would disarm objections on the Excalbian side too, as you say."

“Hopefully, we can do so on the margins of the upcoming regional conference,” Rudeles said, “and perhaps we should use that opportunity to announce that… Knootoss will be assisting us in constructing a naval facility to replace those lost to Southland’s and Deandra’s secession.”

"That’s right”, van Jonkervelde agreed. “Perhaps we could organise a tour of certain areas of Helder and Sonseinde for some of your officials. Show a few of the best practices, as far as the human and physical infrastructure are concerned. Assuming clearances can be arranged…” She waved a hand dismissively, assuming there would be no obstacles that could not be overcome. “Are there any other concerns that we should discuss?”

“The tour would be most welcomed,” Rudeles said, “as is being received on… equal footing shall we say. I am appreciative of the Confederation still being included among the sovereign nations of the Western Atlantic. At least by Knootoss,” she laughed slightly. “I thank you for your time and look forward to the regional conference.”

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Postby Excalbia » Wed Feb 09, 2022 12:10 pm

The Imperial Palace
Citadel Excalbia


Margaret Apsitis entered one of the Palace’s sitting rooms - known as the Green Room due to its wallpaper - and bowed slightly. “Your Imperial Majesty,” the Emperor’s private secretary said, “Her Imperial Highness the Baroness of Lielvarde.” The Emperor nodded and Apsitis stepped aside allowing Princess Rebecca to enter.

“Thank you, Margaret,” Emperor Joseph said, looking up from his book, “that’ll be all.” As Apsitis closed the door behind her, Joseph stood and hugged his sister.

“It’s been a while, Rebecca; I’m glad you dropped by,” he said as he gestured to a chair.

“Thanks, Joseph,” Rebecca said, taking her seat. “I know this wasn’t a planned visit…”

“I would hope my sister wouldn’t think she needs to make an appointment to see me,” Joseph said with a chuckle.

Rebecca gave a half smile that quickly dissolved into a frown. She fidgeted with her fingers and looked down and away from Joseph.

“What’s wrong?” Joseph leaned forward slightly, sensing his sister’s unease.

“Well,” Rebecca began. She sighed and looked out the window behind her brother to the courtyard beyond. “How much do you know about how things have been going with Andrik…”

“Andrik?” Joseph leaned back and furrowed his brow. “I don’t think I’ve seen him since Father’s funeral and that he's been spending a lot of time in Draakur… I assumed it was his official duties…”

Rebecca’s eyes teared up and she drew in a breath. “No… we’ve… we’ve grown apart and we decided it’d be better for us to… separate.”

“Oh,” Joseph said softly. He leaned forward and put his hand on Rebecca’s arm. “I’m sorry… are you… thinking divorce?”

Rebecca put her hand on top of Joseph’s. “Not yet. We’re… we’re both a little reluctant to think about divorce… it’s not like we’re a private couple living in the ‘burbs deciding who gets the house and the car… we just want to try… living apart for a while. I’ll take the kids to see him every few months… and he’ll come here for some holidays and we’ll go there for some. But, he’ll mostly be living there and I’ll be… here. I… I just thought you needed to know.” She looked at Joseph and gave a smile. “After all, you’re not only my big brother, you are the Emperor.”

Joseph smiled and half stood, bending over to hug his sister. “But right now, big brother takes precedence.”

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Postby Excalbia » Mon Jul 04, 2022 12:38 pm

Townhouse Residence of Senator Celeste de Frankopolis Skrastins, Baroness of Tervates
Citadel Excalbia


“… and they just set me aside, like yesterday’s newspaper,” Baroness Celeste de Frankopolis Skrastins said with just a note of pained betrayal. “And after I helped save the party from disaster.” She pulled a lace handkerchief from the wrist of a rather tight pale pink suit and dabbed it at the corners of her eyes. The firebrand senator was entering middle age but still retained a youthful figure, which she obviously still considered one of her best assets.

“I’m very sorry they treated you that way, Baroness,” William Bradford, the New Liberal Senator for Inner New Boston said gravely. “It just shows they, our so-called leaders, care only for election victories and nothing for policy…”

The Baroness shook her head gravely.

“That’s why I came to see you and asked Baron Thomas to join us.” Next to Bradford sat Baron Thomas Ozols, Baron of and Senator for Kipsala, who merely nodded. “It is time for a new party. One that will stand up for Excalbia and insist that the Government put Excalbia and Excalbians first.”

“Yes,” the Baroness smiled and leaned forward, “that is exactly what I was hoping the New Liberals would become…”

“While Willie and I might seem to be an odd pair, coming from polar opposite parties,” Baron Thomas said, “we are united in believing that the last few Chancellors have focused too much on the problems of foreign countries and winning the applause of foreign nations. They have ignored the impact of unchecked immigration,” he looked at the Baroness, herself a Pantocratorian immigrant, “that is the immigration of those who can neither contribute to Excalbia nor integrate themselves into our culture. They move too quickly to adopt the internationalist, progressive agenda, not caring how the ordinary people in the countryside…”

“Or the blue collar worker,” Bradford added.

“Or the blue collar worker,” the Baron repeated, “feel about those issues.”

“Yes, exactly,” Celeste agreed.

“And you,” Bradford said, “as an immigrant, a woman, a mother, are just the right person to deliver our message without being… dismissed as a racist or sexist or anti-immigrant.”

Celeste nodded. “How many will join our party?”

“Lord Arturs Ricards and I from the Conservative Coalition,” the Baron said.

“At least a handful from our party,” Bradford said almost apologetically. “But having few in the current Senate will allow us to recruit new candidates for next year’s election and offer people something truly new.”

“Very well,” Celeste said, leaning back. “And I propose Excalbia First as the name of our new party.

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Postby Upper Virginia » Wed Sep 07, 2022 5:01 pm

Presidential Mansion, Courtland

“You have to run for reelection,” General Mildred Petersen said, leaning forward and shifting her weight almost as if she intended to spring from her seat. “You're the only politician we have who can even remotely claim to beat unifying figure! If you leave office, the election will be a partisan food fight we might not be ready for.”

The uniformed Minister of Defense glanced at the younger woman to her left. “It's one thing to have a partisan Prime Minister steering a partisan domestic policy, but to have that hanging over control of our foreign policy… of the military.”

“I agree,” added the tall, thin and increasingly frail Director of Intelligence from the Minister's right.

“Well,” Prime Minister Gwen Ubrecht began as she leaned back and crossed her legs, “I'll try not to take offense at General Petersen's remarks,” she gave raised an eyebrow, “but I surprisingly find myself in agreement with the General and Mr. Thorsen.”

“I didn't mean any offense,” Petersen said, shifting back in her chair.

Thorsen looked from Petersen to Ubrecht and then to the man at the center of their attention, the President of the Dominion. “You obviously have something in mind, Mr. President, so why don't you enlighten us.”

President Alex Holmes smiled. “Richard, you could at least let me have a moment to savor having all three of you think me irreplaceable…”

Ubrecht laughed, then shook her head. Then she drew in a breath and said, “I admit I'm curious.”

Holmes stood and walked behind his chair, resting his hands on the back. “I considered asking Mildred to resign her commission and run.” He held up one hand as Petersen and Ubrecht opened their mouths to protest for what he suspected were very different reasons. “But I realized it wouldn't be healthy for our still new democratic government to have a third ex-general in a row serve as President.”

Ubrecht nodded. “Agreed.”

“I think the President should be Dr. Thomas Warner…”

“The physicist?” Petersen blinked and turned to Thorsen, then Ubrecht.

“He was one of the founders of Students Against Dictatorship,” Thorsen said.

“And he was a contemporary and early supporter of Chairman Marko,” Ubrecht said, referring to the cofounder of the technically disbanded Free Virginia Liberation Army, "until he drifted off to left-libertarianism."

“But he hasn't said at word about politics since we brought down Altman,” Petersen said.

Thorsen shrugged and narrowed his eyes. “He was still in prison when Altman fell. He spent a lot of years as Altman's prisoner; that tends to make one reticent about expressing political opinions.”

“Yes,” Holmes said, “but he's become an internationally recognized academic and humanitarian. His democratic credentials are hard earned and impeccable.”

“But would he run…” Ubrecht tilted her head.

“I've had preliminary conversations with him,” Holmes said walking back in front of his chair and sitting down.

“Of course,” Thorsen said.

“He's not interested in a political campaign, but he said he would serve if elected. And serve as a non-partisan President."

“So, how does he get elected?” Ubrecht asked, giving a sly smile.

“One step ahead, as usual,” Holmes said with a chuckle. “I'd like the National Renaissance Party, your Democratic Union and your coalition partners to jointly nominate him.”

“So put the fix in in our party conventions?” Ubrecht tilted her head.

“In a word, yes.” Holmes shrugged. “We can't guarantee he'll win, but with the endorsement of three parties, he'll stand a better chance than any other candidate.”

“If I may suggest,” Thorsen said, “former Prime Minister Poole is reportedly looking to burnish his c legacy as a statesman, having realized that it is unlikely that the Liberty and Prosperity Party will return to power. Or at least not with him at the helm. Too many others see his defeat at Ms. Ubrecht’s hands as opening the door for their own ascent to power. He also realizes that he lacks… the popularity to win the presidency. So, with a suitable reward, say an appointment as Foreign Minister in the next administration, he might well be persuaded to use the last of his influence to hand Dr. Warner his party's endorsement as well.”

Holmes looked at Ubrecht, who frowned, then shrugged. “I don't relish the idea of having Poole in the Cabinet, butt as long as we continue to have a free hand on the domestic front…”

“If your coalition is reelected,” Petersen added.

“If we're returned to the majority,” Ubrecht said, “and have the new President's confidence to continue the… cohabitation agreement we've had with President Holmes…without any interference from the ministers we don't get to appoint, including the Foreign Minister, I think we could live with Poole in that slot.”

“That's great,” Holmes said. He stood and walked towards the bar against the wall. “Let's drink to our next President.”

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Postby Upper Virginia » Fri Sep 30, 2022 4:35 pm

The Prime Minister's Legislative Office
The National Assembly
Courtland, Upper Virginia


"Come in, Leader Poole," Prime Minister Gwen Ubrecht said as she walked in front of her desk and extended her hand.

"Not after tonight, I'm afraid," Marcus Poole said as he haltingly extended his hand and grasped the Prime Minister's, giving it a firm shake.

"Oh?" Ubrecht gestured to a small seating area to her right. She did not often use her office in the Assembly, preferring the office in her official residence. Still, it offered a convenient place for discreet meetings with other members of the Assembly.

Poole nodded and took a seat, unbuttoning his expensive, tailored suit. He waited for Ubrecht to take her seat, then said, "The Party's leadership is meeting tonight and I expect to be voted out as leader. Pilmana believes its her turn and has mustered the votes to oust me. 'Old, tarnished and unelectable,' I believe were the words she used in the email I wasn't meant to see."

Ubrecht frowned and nodded. "I'm sorry."

"I don't imagine you really are, Madame Prime Minister," Poole said sharply as he mopped his broad brow. Then, he sighed and added, "But I appreciate the gesture."

Ubrecht slightly tilted her head to one side. "So, Pilmana will be the Liberty and Prosperity Party's candidate for prime minister?"

"Unless Zigules has the votes to blindside her and take the leadership spot for himself."

"Internal party politics can be worse than electoral politics, can't they, Mr. Poole?"

"I suppose so." Poole sighed again. "Thanks for agreeing to meet with me."

"Of course. Though I am curious about the subject. Given this revelation."

Poole gave a dry laugh. "I suspect you know more than you let on, Madame Prime Minister..."

"Gwen. Please."

"Alright. Gwen. And, please, call me Marcus."

"Thank you, Marcus."

Poole leaned back into his seat. "Thorsen came to see me. He says that the President and the NRP are backing Tom Warner for President and that you and the Democratic Union will back him as well."

Ubrecht nodded. "Dr. Warner is... especially qualified for the presidency at this... delicate moment in our history. So, yes, we are prepared to endorse him as a... non-partisan candidate for President."

"I see. And that went over well with your party?"

Ubrecht smiled. "The purge your party is planning for tonight, we carried out a few years ago. The old revolutionaries are all retired or in irrelevant sinecures. So, yes, our Central Committee approved the motion to nominate Dr. Warner without opposition."

Poole laughed. "Must be nice." He paused. "So, you know what Thorsen proposed?"

"Your endorsement of Dr. Warner in exchange for..,." She paused and waited for Poole to voice the quid pro quo.

"In exchange for the Foreign Ministry."

"Are you interested in the post? You know, you would report directly to the new President and that... technically I have no say in the appointment."

"Technically," Poole repeated. "And yes. I am. It'd be nice to... go out on a high note, rather than being unceremoniously dumped as Pilamana plans."

Ubrecht nodded. "I agree that... retiring after serving as Foreign Ministry is more befitting a man of your... impact on Dominion history."

"I don't know if you mean that, but." Poole gave a half-hearted smile, "again, thank you for saying that."

"Of course." Ubrecht paused. "Did you accept Thorsen's offer?"

"I asked for time to think about it. But I think I'm ready to accept now."

"Oh?"

Poole smiled. "I wanted to see if I thought we could work together. And I think we can."

"Excellent!" Ubrecht stood and began walking to the bar on the other side of her office. "Let's drink to unlikely collaborations," she said as she poured two glasses.

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Postby Excalbia » Tue Oct 18, 2022 8:39 am

The Imperial Palace
Citadel Excalbia, Excalbia


“Good morning, Rebecca,” the Emperor said, rising from his seat behind his desk, “it’s good to see you. How’re you doing?” He walked around his desk and gestured for his sister to sit on one of the couches to the right of the desk.

“Good morning, Joseph,” the Princess said, shaking her head. “I won’t keep you long. I just wanted to know if you’d heard about James?”

“Yes,” the Emperor shook his head. “Mother called a little earlier. I guess she already knew, but was waiting for James to tell her he’d secured Zsófia’s father’s blessing…”

Rebecca nodded and bit her lip. “Tariq texted me.” She paused. “Doesn’t it bother you that James didn’t tell us himself?”

“Of course it does. But what good does it do to fret about it or say anything about it? He hasn't been close to me, at least, since well before Father died. And now it seems he’s distant himself from the whole family. Except Mother and Tariq.”

“Well, can you blame him?”

“What? Are you saying it’s our fault somehow? We aren’t the ones who got involved with a communist commoner and got our hearts broken when the relationship inevitably failed. Nor are we ones who went tearing across Excalbia engaging in all sorts of debauchery to console ourselves. He wasn’t even there for Father…”

“Stop it, Joseph.” Rebecca’s eyes reddened. “We knew he was going through a rough time. Did you reach out to him? I know I didn’t. And when he rushed back to the Citadel after Father…,” her voice cracked, “after Father died, all I could manage to say to him was ‘grow up,. But at least I think that’s more than you managed to say…”

The Emperor turned his back and walked towards his desk. “So, what is it you think I should do? Wear sackcloth and ashes? Fly to Ultrasylva and beg his forgiveness,then toast his engagement? What is it you want me to do?”

“I don’t know, Joseph. And that’s the point, damnit. I don’t know. But, for better or worse, you’re not just the ****ing Emperor, you’re the patriarch of this family now. And you need to figure something out…”

Joseph walked behind his desk. “You’re right. I am the Emperor. And I’m sorry that doesn’t leave me time to be the big brother you think I ought to be to a grown man who’s about to marry. But do you think this is easy? Being Emperor. And husband. And father. And now some sort of ***damned patriarch?”

“It may not be easy, but Father managed…”

“Don’t you dare!” The Emperor slammed his fist on his desk. “Don’t you dare throw our Father’s memory in my face! Everything I say or do is measured against him! And everything I do seems lacking… I’m trying my best, damnit!”

“Joseph…” Rebecca’s expression softened and she stepped towards her brother’s desk.

“Get out! Get the Hell out of my office!” The Emperor sat down and turned around in his chair, putting his back to his sister.

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Postby Upper Virginia » Sun Jun 04, 2023 5:45 pm

The last few years had brought a sea change to Upper Virginia. The changes did not all occur at once and many passed without most people noticing their significance. First, of course, the Democratic Union - the party of the former communist revolutionaries now claiming the mantle of democratic socialism - had come to power through the ballot box, led by Prime Minister Gwen Ubrecht. Then, it not only made it to the end of its term - nearly unheard of since the country had adopted the parliamentary system - it and Ubrecht had been reelected with an even greater majority.

Then, President Alex Holmes declined to run for reelection, bringing to an end 18-years of former generals occupying the presidency. His decision ushered in the election of renowned physicist Dr. Thomas Warner, who although he had been a crusader for academic freedom during the last years of the dictatorship, was the first post-dictatorship president who had not had a direct hand in the coup that ousted General Altman.

Lesser known events, such as the retirement of Richard Thorsen as Director of Intelligence and General Mildred Petersen as Minister of Defence, and widely publicized events, such as the retirement of former President Becka Harrison, who led the 2004 coup to remove the military dictatorship, as Chief Justice, marked the passing of the 2004 coup leaders from the political landscape and a new era of truly civilian governance.


Prime Minister’s Office
Courtland, Upper Virginia


Gwen Ubrecht leaned back in her chair, absentmindedly twirling a pen around her fingers as her scheduler, a young man from the far north, went through her agenda. “Then you meet with the party whips at 11:15. There’s a working lunch with the Ministers of Commerce and Labor and Industry at Noon. You’re scheduled to do a walk-by with the press at 12:45 and at 1 pm a meeting with…”

Just then, the Prime Minister’s secretary opened the door and stepped into the office. “Ma’am,” the middle-aged woman said in a strong Courtland accent, “the Governor of Harrington is on line 2. He says it’s urgent…”

Ubrecht lifted an eyebrow. “Oh, ok,” she said. She leaned over and picked up the phone. “Barb? What's up?”

Her brows knotted and she began to blink tears from the corner of her eyes as she listened. “Yes. Of course,” she said after several minutes. “No, I'm glad it was you who called. Thank you.”

She hung up the phone and let out a deep sigh.

“What is it, Ma’am?” The scheduler asked.

Ubrecht looked up and said, “Clear my calendar, Tim. Clear it all.”

“Ma’am?”

The Prime Minister picked up the phone and her secretary answered. “Margaret,” she said, “get me President Warner.” She sighed and looked at the scheduler wild still speaking into the phone. “Uldis Marko is dead.”

***

“This is a bit of pickle,” President Warner said, rubbing his trim, graying beard.

Ubrecht nodded. “I can understand that, Tom. On one hand Uldis was President Harrison's partner in bringing peace, but on the other…”

“He led a communist insurgency and was the head of a self-proclaimed splinter state,” Warner said flatly. He gave the Prime Minister a sympathetic look as she visibly bristled. “Of course I'm not unsympathetic to your… personal loss. I know Marko was a mentor of yours. Something of a father figure, I imagine.”

Ubrecht nodded.

“I didn't know Marko,” Warner continued, “but we did have some… mutual colleagues. Academia isn't a very large community in Upper Virginia…”

After a moment of silence, he asked, “Did he express any wishes?”

“Not explicitly,” Ubrecht said, “but I imagine he would not have wanted anything… grandiose. He was an atheist, so I'm also sure that he wouldn't want any kind of religious observance…”

Warner nodded. “I think something intimate, with perhaps a public viewing and procession, would be appropriate.” He paused. “Of course you should attend. I'll release a thoroughly vetted statement… Has former President Harrison made a statement?”

Ubrecht nodded. “Quite fulsome, actually. She offered her prayers.” She smiled. “I think Uldis would have been genuinely touched.”

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Postby Upper Virginia » Mon Jun 05, 2023 5:41 am

The Harrington House Hotel
Harrington, Upper Virginia


Prime Minister Gwen Ubrecht sat alone in the living room of the hotel’s Presidential Suite. It was the same room where she had watched the 2018 election results that had made her Prime Minister alongside Uldis Marko. She looked at the empty seat and sighed. She flipped open the program for Marko’s funeral. It had been an odd mix of private and public mourning. Thousands had filed by his coffin while he had lain in state at Harrington City Hall and thousands more had lined the route of his funeral procession.

Of course, there had been protesters, straining to remind the crowd of the crimes they believed Marko had committed in the name of revolution. However, most people seemed to understand that it was not the day to dwell on such things.

The funeral itself had been held graveside with a few dozen in attendance, though pool reporters had broadcast the eulogies nationwide. Ubrecht, naturally, had spoken, as a protege of Marko and as the current leader of the Party. Two other Democratic Union Ministers, Jonathan Stiles, the Attorney General, and Alise Bernier, the Minister of Home Affairs, had spoken as part of the “old guard” that had served with Marko in the former “Free City of Harrington”.

The surprise, to those who did not know her well, was former President Harrison’s appearance. Becka Harrison, now 70 and only six years younger than Marko, seemed surprisingly frail to those who last saw her when retired as Chief Justice. She had spoken eloquently of Marko as her partner in securing “peace and domestic tranquility” for Upper Virginia. Ubrecht gave another small sigh, realizing that she might have to repeat today’s… events for Harrison before too long.

The Prime Minister finally laid down the program and picked up the letter that Marko had left for her. It was a long and deeply personal letter expressing his pride in Ubrecht and his hopes for her - and for the country’s - future. One page at the end, however, had a small envelope stapled to it. That page read:

One final thing, Gwen, the attached envelope contains the true identity of my revolutionary partner and co-founder of the FVLA - Commander Lazarus. I am the last person who knew his real name and I feel that I owe you the courtesy, as my successor, to pass this last secret to you.

Many of the rumors about Lazarus are true - he was a student of mine, he did come from a wealthy, privileged family and he was an officer in the Army. He had both personal and ideological reasons for opposing the dictatorship and he sought me out to start the FVLA.

From the beginning, he always said he was a man of war and he feared that, if the revolution was successful and he were in a leadership position, he could all too easily become the kind of militarist dictator he was fighting against. That’s why, once we had the truce in place and Becka started delivering on her promises of reform, he decided to “retire” and reclaim his anonymity. He felt it would be better for me and for new leaders, such as you and Jonathan, to usher the Party into a new era.

So, here is Lazarus’ identity. I know that as of a few years ago he was still alive. He is not in Upper Virginia or anywhere else in the Excalbian Isles.

Although I am giving you this secret, it is my hope that you do not act on it or share it. Frankly, I hope you destroy it and leave him - and me - in the past and focus on the future.


Gwen swallowed and looked at the envelope. She then took it, and the page that was attached to it, and carried it to the sink of the suite’s kitchen and set both on fire.

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Postby Excalbia » Mon Jun 12, 2023 9:03 am

War Memorial Park
Citadel Excalbia, Excalbia


Beside the gray bulk of the Ministry of Defence and across the street from the Imperial Senate stood War Memorial Park. Amidst the greenery and flowers were several memorials.

The monument honoring the Ajuban Wars of the 19th century consisted of three mounted statues: Baron Olof Rudzitis,the Commanding General of the Imperial Expeditionary Army; Lord Bernard Karlsson, Colonel of the 22nd Light Infantry Division - the so-called Bay Raiders - and later Imperial Chancellor; and Jahrian King Labisi II, who led his father’s armies as Crown Prince. Nearby stood the monument to the Knootian-Excalbian War of 1874, which featured figures representing Virtue, Victory, Fidelity and Honor holding aloft the flagship of the Imperial Fleet, the INV Alsgood, the Great - a steampowered, turreted and ironclad warship that still featured four masts for sails.

Several monuments honored the veterans of the Great War, including mounted statues of several generals and more symbolic figures, including a mother depicted in mourning, kneeling over the grave of son lost in the war. A number of small monuments honored interventions in Zamimbia, Esperi and other so-called peacekeeping operations.

Near the front of the park stood a ribbon of white marble that climbed elegantly into the sky before ending in a cascade of rough, unworked stone tumbling back to the ground. The marble bore the engraved names of those who perished in the Iesian Conflict, giving their lives for a noble cause that failed to take root among the Iesisan people themselves.

On Veterans Memorial Day, the roads surrounding the park were closed to traffic and filled with crowds of people. Bleachers erected along the sidewalks were reserved for invited guests: members of various veterans organizations; family members of those who perished in combat; and dignitaries of the Empire. On a small dais sat Baron Dainis Murniece, the Imperial Chancellor, Baroness Vivian Bodniece, the Minister of State, Dr. Arturs Anders, the Minister of Defence, Lord Admiral Ephraim Allen, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff and Chief of Imperial Naval Operations, General Rachel Gertrude, the Vice Chief of the General Staff and the Chief of the Imperial Army Staff, Lieutenant General Kent Ulmanis, the Commandant of the Imperial Marines, and General William Krauklis, the Chief of the Imperial Air Force Staff.

It was a bright, sunny day with mild temperatures and blue skies. After a few minutes, ambient noise of dozens of conversations fell off and the trumpeters of the Imperial Army Band played ruffles and flourishes, followed by the Imperial March.

Everyone stood and those in uniform saluted as Emperor Joseph, Empress Anna and Crown Princess Elizabeth entered the gates of the park from the Ministry of Defence. The Emperor was dressed in the red dress uniform of the Imperial Army and wore a blue and gold sash covered in medals. As the Emperor arrived on the dais, he motioned for everyone to be seated and delivered brief remarks to the crowd before turning and making his way towards the oldest monument, the Ajuban Wars Memorial. The crowd again stood as the Emperor and Empress, followed by the Chancellor and then Lord Admiral Allen placed wreaths at the memorial. The ceremony was repeated at each of the monuments.

When the last wreath had been placed, the Emperor, the Imperial Family, the Chancellor and the ministers departed. After a brief time, others were permitted to place wreaths, the first being General Gertrude, who placed a single wreath at the Iesian War Memorial. Tucked into the wreath, invisible to anyone who did not know where it had been placed, was a small note bearing the words, “I’m Sorry”.
Last edited by Excalbia on Mon Jun 12, 2023 9:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Excalbia » Tue Jun 27, 2023 3:28 pm

Cabinet Room, Miller House
Citadel Excalbia
Late Summer, After the Emperor's Visits to Caldas and Knootoss, and after Excalbian Accession to the Atlantic Ducat


“Well,” Baron Dainis Murniece said frowning, “now we're f*****d.”

The people seated around the table looked at the Chancellor in shock; he rarely showed anger and even more rarely cursed.

“How the hell did this leak out?” The Chancellor looked to his right, at the Minister of State, who blushed and looked down at her hands.

“We… we don't know,” Baroness Vivian Bodniece, the leader of the Christian Union and Murniece’s coalition partner, said softly.

“Well, you'd better find out,” Murniece said. He turned to the Director of Imperial Intelligence. “And you need to look closely at your people, too.”

Ilmars Brigaders nodded. “Of course.”

“Sir,” Tanya Albrook, the Chancellor's Foreign Policy advisor said, “someone will need to… be held accountable.”

Murniece nodded and looked at Bodniece.

“The Emperor,” the Minister of State began in a plaintive tone.

“The Emperor,” the Chancellor said rising from his seat and raising his voice, “must have never known anything about this! Is that clear?”

Bodniece nodded and looked down. “Of course. You'll have my resignation by this evening.”

The Chancellor turned to Brigaders. The intelligence chief reached into his pocket and placed an envelope on the table. “I've already drafted my resignation.”

“I should resign as well,” Albrook added.

“Yes,” the Chancellor said, as he sank back into his seat. “And… I'm sorry. All of you. Genuinely sorry.” He drew in a breath. “It's small comfort but… I will not be standing for reelection. It's best that the party go into this election with… fresh leadership.”

“I'm sorry, Dainis,” Bodniece said. “You were a good Chancellor…”

The Chancellor gave a grim smile. “Thank you.”

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Postby Excalbia » Sun Jul 02, 2023 4:23 pm

The Imperial Summer Palace

Elizabeth, the Crown Princess, walked across the patio barefoot, dressed in a light summery dress. She sat down next to her aunt, Princess Rebecca, and reached out to pick up her five-year old cousin, Princess Rachel, as her twin, Prince Andrew happily ran across the lawn.

Rachel handed Elizabeth a flower. “For me?” Elizabeth asked with a smile.

“For you!” Rachel said excitedly.

“Thank you!”

“You still have a way with them, Elie,” Rebecca said as Rachel giggled, sitting on Elizabeth's lap.

Elizabeth smiled. She sat in silence for a few moments, then asked, “Can I ask you something, Aunt Rebecca?”

“Of course.”

“I'm thinking about university…”

Rebecca nodded.

“You went to the Naval Academy…”

“I did.”

“Did you like it?”

Rebecca sat back and tilted her head. “Hmmm. Yes. And no.”

Elizabeth tilted her head to match her aunt's. “Yes and no?”

“I enjoyed my classes. Mostly. And made some good friends. It was fun learning to fly helicopters.” She shrugged. “But I didn't really care for the military lifestyle. That's why I didn't take an active duty commission.” She paused. “Are you thinking about the Academy?”

Elizabeth nodded. “It's kind of expected for heirs to the Sword, right?” She looked up at the sky. “And I'd like to learn to fly airplanes. Maybe go into space.”

Rebecca sighed. “Well, you could learn to fly in the Academy, but you realize that they'll never let you do anything as risky as going into space.”

Elizabeth frowned.

“Sorry, Elie,” Rebecca said. “But what do you want to study? What interests you?”

“Art. History. Literature…”

Rebecca smiled. “Well, you won't find those subjects emphasized at the Academy, except for history.”

Elizabeth nodded. “I'd also like for MJ to be with me…”

“Well, again, that wouldn't be the Academy.”

“It's expected, though, isn't it?”

“Somewhat,” Rebecca said. “But you can make your own choices. You don't have to try to be anyone else.”

Elizabeth looked at her aunt.

“I mean it. Do what you want.” Rebecca leaned over and put her hand on her niece's shoulder. “The obligations of your station will claim your life soon enough, so do what you can while you can. If you want to study art and literature, do it! Go somewhere fun. Ask MJ to go with you. And if you want to learn to fly and feel you need that military cache to be Empress someday, you can do the reserve officer program. And if you decide you like the military life, you can sell a regular commission.”

Elizabeth nodded. “Thank you, Aunt Rebecca.”

“Any time, Elie.”

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Postby Excalbia » Fri Jul 07, 2023 3:03 pm

Joint post with Pantocratoria.

The Imperial Summer Palace

“Come in, Elizabeth,” Emperor Joseph said, smiling from his chair on the balcony overlooking the formal gardens.

“Good afternoon, Papa,” the Crown Princess said. Then, turning to her mother, “Mama.”

“Have a seat, dear,” Joseph said. “Your mother and I understand you want to talk about universities.”

“I would like to, Papa, Mama,” Elizabeth said as she sat down across from her parents.

“What have you been thinking, ma chérie?” Anna asked.

“Well,” Elizabeth began, “I'm torn, actually. On one hand, I think as a future sovereign I should follow Papa's and Grandfather's example and go to a service academy…” Joseph smiled and nodded. “And,” Elizabeth continued, “I'd like to learn to fly a plane.” Her father frowned slightly. “But on the other hand, I'd like to study art and literature. And I'd like MJ to come with me. And we can't do that at an academy.”

“Perhaps a regular university then, like the University of Landing?” Anna asked, looking to Joseph. “Do they have a military cadet program I wonder?”

“There is a reserve officer training program,” Joseph said slowly.

Elizabeth smiled. “That would be wonderful!” She looked at her mother. “Do you think Uncle Andreus will let MJ go, too?”

“I think he would hardly stand in her way, if that’s what MJ wants to do.” Anna answered. She pondered her niece for a moment and looked to Joseph and then back to Elizabeth. “But I hope you’re not deciding based on MJ. Really, it’s MJ who should make her plans around you, not vice versa. If MJ wasn’t a factor, would you prefer to go to a service academy?”

Elizabeth paused and bit her lower lip. When she spoke, she spoke slowly, as if still thinking. “I think I might be more interested in attending one of the academies, but…” She hesitated, looked at her father, then quickly back at her mother. She said, “I feel an obligation to do some sort of military service, if I am to be Empress some day, but…” She paused again. “I don't really feel that the military lifestyle is for me. Long term that is. Not like it would be at an academy or on active duty.”

Joseph maintained a neutral expression. He gave a slight sigh, then nodded. “I can understand that,” he said.

Anna detected Joseph’s not quite restrained disappointment, but couldn’t pretend to be unhappy that Elizabeth didn’t want to pursue a military life, although what she did want to do was far from clear. She turned to Joseph.

“Would the reserve officer training program be inappropriate?” she asked her husband.

Joseph paused for a moment, then shook his head. “No, not at all. Really.” He visibly softened. “I don't want to push you one way or another, Elizabeth,” he said. “Recently, it has become… an expectation to attend the academies, but our great-grandmother didn't. Neither did Joshua II…”

“So, it would be ok if I went to a regular university and did the reserve officer program?” Elizabeth asked, trying not to sound too excited.

“Would you rather do that than attend an academy all other things being equal?” Anna pressed.

“Yes, Mama,” she said, sensing that she had her mother's support.

Joseph looked at Anna. Anna looked back at him.

“It’s your decision, of course.” Anna said.

Joseph raised an eyebrow and suppressed a chuckle. “Very well. Yes.”

Elizabeth grinned and hugged both her parents in turn.

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Postby Excalbia » Sun Jul 16, 2023 12:41 pm

A Coming of Age

Jonathan Robert Janis Blums, the Baron of Latgale, great-grandson of Empress Mary II, officially inherited his title at the age of 10, when his father, Prince Jermiah, cousin of the Emperor, died in a hail of gunfire in the Confederation of Sovereign States. However, he only assumed control of his family’s property and finances after he graduated from university in 2022.

After ensuring his mother, Prince Heather Benchly-Blums, a comfortable level of support for the rest of her life, and knowing that his older sister, the former Lady Jennifer Michele Blums, would be well supported as the wife of Prince Nicholas of Ernestria, the young Baron began to splurge, indulging all his appetites. Afterall, he reasoned, he deserved it for all that he had endured as a child.

Despite being raised in luxury - undoubtedly owing to his grandmother’s, Princess Michele, intervention and the kindness of Emperor David IV, Jonathan had indeed suffered for being the son of a failed usurper and traitor.

The barons’ plot to remove a then-incapacitated Emperor and replace him with Prince Jeremiah came to a head in 2006 and, after years of plotting, fell apart in a matter of hours. The would-be usurper prince and his closest allies fled to avoid arrest, leaving their families behind.

Jonathan was a barely six-year old kindergartener when he first heard the other children calling him the son of a traitor. By the time his father was killed in exile in 2010, he was a lonely 4th grader, who silently bore the shame of hearing over and over again how his father had gotten just what he deserved. And while Jonathan, once he was old enough to think about such things, and his family never truly believed the official account from the CSS, no one it seemed, whether the family or the His Imperial Majesty’s Government, wanted to open old wounds by looking at the matter too closely.

By the time Jonathan reached high school, time had helped diminish the taunting and he had developed a devil-may-care persona that capitalized on his wealth, athleticism and handsome face to make him one of the in-crowd. By his sophomore year, he was a star in three sports and dating senior girls.

In University, Jonathan has done just well-enough in his studies to keep his mother's and grandmother's favor while pursuing his various extracurricular activities. After he graduated, he moved to Landing and became the most eligible bachelor in town since his adopted cousin, Lord Tariq, and a frequent target of the tabloid press and the paparazzi.
Last edited by Excalbia on Tue Jul 25, 2023 12:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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A Change Is in the Air

Postby Excalbia » Tue Jul 25, 2023 11:48 am

The Grand Ballroom of Imperial Plaza Hotel
Landing, Excalbia
Election Night


The crowd was electric. People dressed in everything from formal wear to jeans and sneakers danced and drank and talked loudly, shouting to be heard above the deafening combination of music and TV coverage of the incoming election results.

A sudden change spread through the crowd as people began to gather on the podium. The music stopped and a sudden silence fell over the crowd. Then, a man stepped up to the microphone. “Ladies and Gentlemen, the next Chancellor of Excalbia - Senator Paul Akoak!”

Akoak, a fairly short, well-built man of Inuit origin with a broad, pleasing smile walked onto the stage followed by his wife, an attractive woman with a Mediterranean look, and their two children a lanky male teen and an excited-looking female tween.

Holding up his hands, Akoak said, “My friends, thank you for your hard work and your inexhaustible hope! Tonight, we have made history! Tonight, we usher in a new spirit, a new sense of hope and optimism - a new era for Excalbia!” The people cheered and Akoak seemed to soak it in for several moments. Then, he gestured for silence and continued: “I have just spoken with Chancellor Murniece…” There were a smattering of boos, but Akoak shook his head and held up his hands again. “No, no, no,” he said until three boos stopped. Then he said, “I just spoke with Baron Murniece and he has conceded on behalf of his party and the Christian Union.”

There were cheers and shouts. “Enjoy this evening; you've earned it! And tomorrow we begin the hard work of putting our policies into practice!”

The Royal Suite
Late The Next Morning


“Paul!” Miriam Akoak shouted, shaking her still sleeping husband.

“Miriam?” Paul Akoak said groggily. “What's wrong? Is it the kids?”

“The kids are fine; they've been up for an hour.” She held out a mobile phone. “It's the Citadel…”

“Citadel?” He asked as he sat up in the bed.

“The Emperor's Office!”

Paul shook his head to clear it and took the phone. “Hello?”

“Yes,” he said to the voice on the phone.

“Yes. Of course.”

He listened for a moment, then said, “Absolutely. Thank you.”

He tossed the phone on the bed and looked at his wife. “What is it,” she asked.

“It suddenly feels… so real.” He blinked. “The Emperor has summoned me to the Palace. Tomorrow.”

Miriam sat beside her husband and they leaned into each other.

The Imperial Palace
Citadel Excalbia
A Day Later


Senator Paul Akoak stood in the hallway of the Imperial Palace. The hall, which seemed to stretch for blocks, was larger than the home where he had grown up. The furnishings, all museum quality pieces, were exquisite. Akoak tugged at his new, tailored brown suit, feeling like a student summoned to the principal's office.

The door in front of him opened and a steward in a dark blue tailcoat stepped out. “His Imperial Majesty will see you now, Sir.” The steward turned and gestured for Akoak to walk through. He followed and said with a deep bow, “Your Imperial Majesty, Senator Akoak.”

The Emperor, dressed in a blue suit with a yellow tie, looked up from the small table where he sat reading a paper. “Come in, Senator Akoak.” He put the paper down and gestured to the empty chair across from him. “Please have a seat.”

Akoak bowed deeply, then took his seat. “Thank you, Your Imperial Majesty.”

Another steward appeared and placed a coffee service for two on the table.

“Coffee?” The Emperor asked, almost as if it were a command.

“Yes, please, Your Majesty.”

The steward poured a cup of coffee. “Cream? Sugar?” He asked.

“Just a little sugar, please,” Akoak said. He added, “Thank you,” as the steward put a cube of sugar in the cup.

The steward then poured a second cup, then added cream, stirred it and placed it in front of the Emperor.

“Thank you,” the Emperor said to the steward, who bowed and left.

“Congratulations on your party's victory, Mr. Akoak,” the Emperor said as he sipped his coffee.

“Thank you, Your Imperial Majesty,” he said as he picked up his cup.

“I see you're wearing your medals,” the Emperor said.

Akoak looked down at his suit jacket and the row of ribbons pinned to his left chest. “I thought it would be appropriate. I hope it's alright, Your Majesty.”

“Of course,” the Emperor said. He sipped his coffee. “I notice you have the Navy Cross.”

Akoak nodded. “Yes, Your Majesty.” He assumed the Emperor had read his file, but he nonetheless said, “I was the engine chief aboard Phantom of the Seas during the War and we were on search and rescue duty, looking for downed allied pilots. We came under heavy fire from Ieasian shore batteries but remained on station until we ran down every emergency beacon and recovered every survivor. It was literally an all-hands-on-deck moment as we pulled the survivors aboard. There were moments when I doubted that we’d make it…”

The Emperor nodded. “I commend your service. And your valor.”

“Thank you, Your Majesty. That… that means a lot to me.”

“So,” the Emperor set his cup down, “I wanted to ask about the Ostmark scandal.”

“Your Majesty?” Akoak tilted his head.

“You made quite an issue of it during the campaign.”

“I did, Your Majesty, because I felt it illustrated the Government's hubris, stemming from being in power too long.”

“Did you object to the policy of supporting the anti-Dietrich faction or to the way it was handled?”

“Both, frankly, Your Imperial Majesty. No one likes Dietrich. I doubt his own henchmen like him. And if an indigenous movement rises up to topple him, I would absolutely endorse offering them our support. But I am not… certain that we should be involving ourselves in other people's fights… Especially if we're not sure they're ready to fight for themselves.”

The Emperor nodded. “Like the Iesian rebels?”

“Yes, Your Majesty, I suppose so. But I also think that such a potentially significant policy decision should be subject to the scrutiny of the Senate or at least that of the appropriate senior members of the relevant committees to ensure it is fully vetted and authorized.”

The Emperor smiled. “I authorized it. Does that surprise you?”

“No, Your Majesty, it doesn’t.”

“If you had been Chancellor when this came up, what would you have done?”

“Advised you against it, Your Majesty.”

“And if I insisted?”

“Your Majesty, I believe that part of my duty is to protect you and the Sword from the negative impact of something like this. So, I would insist, as well. I would explain myself, then, you would have to decide whether to take my advice or dismiss me.”

“You would go that far?”

“If I believed it was this important, Your Majesty, yes, I would.”

The Emperor smiled. “I believe you would, Senator.” He picked up his cup and sipped his coffee. “By the end of the week, I would like to see your cabinet nominees and your policy priorities. Next Monday there will be a formal ceremony. You, your cabinet nominees and your families will go up to the Castle in your full regalia. You’ll be shown into the Great Hall and with great pomp and circumstance and the parading of the Sword, you'll present the formal versions of the documents I will have already reviewed. Then, I'll give you my commission naming your Imperial Chancellor, and then I'll invite you and your families to join the Empress and I for light refreshments.”

The Emperor leaned back in his chair. “You have children, don't you?”

“Yes, Your Majesty, Pete is 14 and Tabitha is 11…”

The Emperor nodded. “Prepare them. Your lives are about to change. Living in Miller House under 24/7 protection, with staff always around, and the press lurking about. It can be quite… difficult for those who have not been raised in such an environment.”

“I see. Thank you, Your Majesty.”

“Thank you, Senator Akoak.”

With a slight motion of the Emperor's hand, a steward appeared and bowed. Akoak stood and bowed, and started to follow the steward out. “Thank you, Your Imperial Majesty.”

“Oh,” the Emperor said, “one last thing. In the future, after you call me Imperial Majesty the first time, you can simply call me ‘Sir’. I think you'll find it a bit… more natural and efficient.”

“Of course, Your, er, Sir.”

After Akoak had left, another steward came to retrieve the coffee service. The Emperor looked up, “Please let my valet know that I think I'll play a little tennis. Please ask him to please set out an outfit for me.”

“Of course, Sir.”

“And have someone ask the Empress if she'd like to join me.”

“At once.”
Last edited by Excalbia on Tue Jul 25, 2023 11:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Excalbia » Tue Nov 07, 2023 6:06 am

Game Six of the Excalbian Isles Series
Knights Park
Citadel Excalbia


The late Emperor David IV had been an avid fan of baseball and of the Citadel Knights in particular, and had been a regular presence at the Park. His son and successor on the other hand had attended few games and only those of particular significance. The Emperor Joseph and Empress Anna, along with many other members of the Imperial Family, had attended games one and two at the Park and now were back for a potentially decisive game six. They had, however, retreated to the private enclosed suite shortly after the first inning.

Crown Princess Elizabeth, however, had - to the crowds’ delight - remained in the outdoor terrace seats of the Imperial Box for the entire game. Not only that, she sported an event-appropriate outfit consisting of blue tights, a white, blue and gold Knights jersey that fitted her like a minidress and blue wedge sneakers. She cheered every out and every hit for the home team, and was caught blowing a kiss to the Knights’ barely 19-year oldstar rookie shortstop, Lane Josla, when he ran off the field after turning an inning-ending double play at the top of the 5th inning.

Having turned 18, the Crown Princess had become bolder in her public persona, and she seemed to generally be at ease and enjoying herself in most situations. She had not only been a regular presence at the Knights’ postseason games, she had turned up at several parties around the capital since her birthday and, according to some tabloid photos, had taken to driving her new Dominion Motors sports car around the countryside.

While it was never suggested that the Crown Princess was behaving improperly in any way, it seemed she was intent on not behaving the way others expected a princess to behave.


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