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The Alpine Chronicles II (CLOSED - Invites Only)

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

The Alpine Chronicles II (CLOSED - Invites Only)

Postby Brasland » Mon Nov 26, 2018 5:43 pm

Merkurvilla, Markund

A kiss. What a simple thing. What a marvelous thing. To kiss the one you love. To embrace the one you love and forget about the world. Big mistake. You should never forget who you are. And where you are.

A young woman stood still in the middle of a large green park. Her private park. She was not particularly tall nor particularly short, her long hair was black and her eyes were blue. There was something about her lips, pressed tightly against each other, that revealed a strong will, a determination to do things as she wanted. And that was precisely what had caused her doom.

“Your Royal Highness”, a soft voice said behind her. She turned back.

“Yes?”, she replied.

“Miss de Mahlberg is waiting inside.”

“I’ll be there in a minute.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

She did not wait to see her servant leave, but resumed her position, looking at the distant horizon where the trees formed a natural fence that separated her property from the rest of the world. Then, as if that fence gave her strength, she breathed deeply and walked towards the house. A few minutes later, when she entered her study, a tall and older woman stood up and curtseyed.

“Your Royal Highness”, said the woman with a melodic voice.

“Miss de Mahlberg”, she acknowledged. “Please sit down.”

She went towards her desk to sit face to face to Ena de Mahlberg, the King’s private secretary. De Mahlberg was extremely thin and looked permanently hungry, not due to any eating disorder but rather because she did not have time to eat. Her expression was stern, but the eyes betrayed her and suggested a feeling of compassion. There was a short silence, broken by the younger woman, who was always impatient.

“We both know why you’re here”, she said, serious. “What will be my punishment?”

“The King has offered two alternatives”, Ena began.

“Alright?”

“Ending your affaire with Duchess Henriette von Kerlich…. or exile.”

Princess Helena of Brasland looked at Ena, trying to hide the shock she had just felt. It was so cruel, so out of character from the King, that for a brief second she thought it was a joke. But no, the palace would never joke in a situation like that, one that she herself had caused. Avoiding to show any emotions in front of her brother’s private secretary, the princess pulled herself together and spoke.

“You mean I have to choose between two kinds of hell?”, she asked with a sarcastic smile.

“There’s always one lesser evil”, Ena replied, coldly.

Ena resented having to deal with this situation, especially because she liked the young princess very much and believed she had a bright future at Court. But the scandal that Helena had provoked was so explosive that she had no choice but being tough, very tough. She herself had proposed those two options to the King and he had accepted. In Catholic Brasland there was no space for a princess publicly flaunting her relationship with another woman.

“How kind of you”, said the princess, her eyes raging with contained fury. “How much time do I have to leave the country?”

“Three days”, answered the private secretary, calmly.

With these words, Princess Helena bursted into tears, no longer able to keep her composure. It was a sad spectacle to watch, and Ena de Mahlberg deeply regretted it, even though she would not allow herself to show any empathy. The young princess, only twenty years old, could not stop crying for long minutes, and so Ena waited patiently, feeling her heart beat fastly and constantly rejecting her own impulse to comfort her. When Helena was finally able to stop, she wiped her swollen eyes with a handkerchief and looked directly to Ena’s face.

“I can understand the King’s coldness”, she said. “But you, of all people, to come to my house and inform me that I have to leave my country just because I love a woman? You?!”

Ena did not blush, but her eyes could not hide that a wound had been reopened in her heart, after being closed for many years.

“This is not about me”, she said with tremulous voice. “This is not about what I think or feel, is about how a princess of the royal house should behave in public, and the consequences of that behavior.”

“And what if I refuse?”

“You cannot and you will not refuse. You will marry a man or you will leave the country. And we expect your reply today.”

Without excusing herself, Ena stood up and left the room. She repressed her emotions with all the inner strength that she possessed, but once she got into her car and the chauffer crossed the gates of the princess’ home, she could not help but cry all the way to the Royal Palace, where the King was expecting her.

*


The next day, the news of Princess Helena’s lesbian affaire had been picked up by the kingdom’s serious newspapers from the tabloids. The palace had tried to deny the story, but there were pictures that clearly showed Helena with her lover and namesake, a member of Brasland’s premier noble family, the Kerlichs.

That morning, Duchess Wilhelmine von Kerlich sat for breakfast at her stately country residence, Iffenbach Castle. Her husband, the 86-year-old Duke Winrich, had gone hunting with other family members, so the old duchess was alone when her maid brought a copy of her favorite newspaper, the conservative Markund Gazette. There, in the front page and occupying half of it, was a picture of her granddaughter Henriette kissing the lips of the King’s sister. They were embracing each other’s bodies in an attitude of clear sexual interest. It was more than the duchess could resist. When the maid came with tea, she found her lifeless, sitting still in the chair she had occupied at breakfast time for forty years. The doctors later declared it had been a heart attack.

When she was informed of her grandmother’s death, Henriette said nothing, but locked herself in her room. “That old fool”, she muttered to herself, more irritated than sad over the whole affair. They had never gotten along.

Since Henriette belonged to the highest noble house in the country after the royal family, the scandal exploded at the heart of the upper nobility. Her parents, utterly embarrassed and also angered at her after Duchess Wilhelmine’s death, tried to take her away from Markund and lock her in a mental clinic to “treat her condition”. They believed that homosexuality was something that could be corrected. But Henriette, a woman of character, absolutely refused and she stormed out of her parents’ home. A crowd of reporters, gay groups and religious fanatics were waiting outside of the Kerlichs’ mansion and blocked her car. The police, who had appeared to control the crowd and avoid a violent incident, forced the people to make way to the duchess’ vehicle and she was finally able to drive away. Everyone expected her to go to Princess Helena’s home, Merkurvilla, so reporters did not even bother to follow her, they just called their counterparts outside of the royal residence to be alert for the duchess’ arrival. But the two Helenas had a plan and they fooled everyone. The young duchess drove to the countryside, where in the middle of a lonely rural road, she left her car to another young woman who was expecting her. There was another car waiting for her, and she got into it. The chauffeur took her to a small airport nearby, where a private jet waited. She embarked on it and travelled safely to the island of Nix, where another private jet took her to New Chalcedon. There, her lover's mother, the former Queen Lia of Brasland, waited for her. That is how Duchess Henriette von Kerlich was smuggled out of the country, leaving her life (family, friends, books, clothes) behind. As a Kerlich, no one would have expected her to have a real job in Brasland. But she would soon find out that the Queen had other plans for her.

*


That night, at 11.55 pm, Princess Helena sent her reply to her brother, King Georg IV. She asked for a meeting with him, and he immediately replied that he expected her that same night at the palace. And so she went. Right when she crossed the gates of the Royal Palace, Helena felt like an outcast. Everything there seemed to her unpolluted by real life, too rigid and artificially kept in order to fulfill a specific function: to symbolize an idealized, sanitized version of Brasland. One without lesbian princesses… or kings who sleep with a different actress every week, for that matter.

It was late and most people at the palace where sleeping, but the chamberlain who escorted Helena to the King looked slightly disgusted by the princess’ presence. As it took several minutes to get to the sovereign’s study and the chamberlain’s expression was barely concealed, at one point Helena stopped the man, angry.

“If you cannot change your stupid expression I prefer to go to by myself”, she shouted.

“But, ma’am…”, mumbled the man.

“Get out of my presence”, she ordered, defiantly.

Without a word but with visible anger, the man retreated a few steps and then turned around, disappearing in the long corridor. Sighing from relief, the princess walked the final stretch and knocked the door.

“It’s me, Helena”, she said. Without waiting for a reply, she entered the room.

The King looked at her with surprise.

“Where’s the chamberlain?”, he asked, puzzled.

“Probably looking for a first cousin to marry”, she said sarcastically while she curtseyed.

He did not laugh and instead invited her to sit.

“Let’s go to business. You ruined it, Lena. You ruined it completely.”

“Why? Because I fell in love with a wonderful human being who happens to be a woman? Because I dared to allow myself to be who I really am?”

She knew perfectly that was not what he meant, but she wanted to release some of her fury and frustration on him.

“Don’t play the fool with me. You know I couldn’t care less about whom you love, but the rest of the country doesn’t think the same. We live in a Catholic country that in many ways still lives in the 18th century. What did you expect?”

Helena started to cry.

“I expected my brother to protect me.”

“I am King first and brother second. I can’t let your irresponsibility to risk the Crown’s prestige. You put yourself in a vulnerable position, Helena. Couldn’t you kiss your lover within the privacy of your bedroom? Did you have to go all the way to Ostis and expose yourself in a harbor?”

“Private harbor.”

“It’s still a harbor, exposed to all curious eyes to watch you.”

“I never thought someone was watching”, Helena mumbled.

“They’re always watching, Lena”, the King said. “They’re always waiting for some of us to fall. Don’t you see it? You failed the test, you were not careful enough, and now they’re asking for your head. You have placed me in an impossible position: my kingdom or my sister. You know what my choice will always be.”

“The kingdom”, said Helena, almost hypnotized, as if she was repeating a sacred mantra. “Always the kingdom.”

“You’re the sacrifice, sister”, Georg said, without a hint of emotion. He had to be tough. “You exposed yourself and now you pay for your recklessness.”

“Now I pay”, Helena repeated, shocked by his coldness.

She looked at him, hoping to find at least a drop of warmth, but she found none. He had started to become less of a man and more what he was meant to be. A living institution. Cold, detached, even cruel if he needed to. The princess stood up and walked to the door. Before opening it, she curtseyed to the King, and then she disappeared.
Last edited by Brasland on Thu Jun 24, 2021 8:42 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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Postby Brasland » Mon Nov 26, 2018 6:07 pm

Seven months later...

Villa Ardelia, Constantinopolis Secundus

Helena turned the TV off, throwing the remote far into the room. She was really pissed off to see Georg’s image everywhere, but it could not be helped. He was the King, of course his visit would be covered by all media outlets. For most, he was a charming, virile young man in the peak of his strength and popularity. For Helena, however, Georg of Brasland was a f****** bastard, the brother who had banished her from her own country to a life of exile. Deep inside, Helena knew it was not as simple as that, but she would not recognize that to herself. The rancor and hatred she felt towards him was strong, and it would not go away anywhere soon. Someone knocked the door. Helena knew it was her mother.

“Come in”, she said, feeling a sudden electric shock of frustration. She was no longer independent. She lived with her mother!

The former Queen Lia of Brasland opened the door. Her expression, as usual, was stern, although lately she was developing some sort of warmth that she had lacked in the past.

“How can I help you, Mother?”, Helena asked her, sounding evidently passive aggressive.

Queen Lia raised an eyebrow and her daughter immediately knew she had to change her attitude.

“Sorry”, she said. “I’m just moody.”

“I see”, the Queen replied. “Maybe you will not be so moody after I tell you what I have in mind.”

“What is it?”

Lia smiled with her usual sobriety. Life had not been easy to her, and her severe countenance and sad eyes were a reflection of that.

“You will use the coming years to study, but you’re not the same young girl that left this house for the motherland three years ago.”

Helena’s eyes widened. She was now interested.

“So?”, she asked.

“I have bought you an apartment”, her mother said. “It’s close to the house, but it will give you independence.”

The princess almost jumped from the couch, shocked, confused and ecstatic.

“Mother! You didn’t”, she cried. “Oh my God!”

She ran towards the Queen and gave her a long, painful hug, so painful that it filled her mother’s heart.

“Thank you so much, Mummy”, said the princess.

Queen Lia said nothing, but a quiet tear fell through one of her cheeks. She just held her daughter for a long time, feeling that she had recovered one of her babies from that monster, the Braslander monarchy, which had taken so much from her.
Last edited by Brasland on Thu Jun 24, 2021 8:43 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Postby Brasland » Sat Dec 01, 2018 1:29 pm

Markund

Two old women sat at one of the tables of Chez Louis, one of the most elegant and discreet restaurants in Markund. They were both dressed impeccably but with utmost sobriety. Light colors, undyed hair perfectly coiffed, and maybe some pearls, but certainly nothing more. It was clear for those who understood such subtleties that these ladies belonged to the upper nobility. People like them had no need for senseless ostentation, for in the world they moved everyone knew each other and what mattered was not display, but class, real class, which in Brasland meant simplicity. If they were observed by people in the other tables, the two ladies made no sign that they noticed or that they cared. Their own, exclusive world was the only thing of interest to them. Whatever happened outside the boundaries of their families and closer friends was of little relevance to Countess Franziska von Lindau and Countess Ludmilla von Stockwald. Theirs was a life of schlosses, court ceremonial and charitable work.

“It’s so scandalous that one can’t even believe it happened”, said Franziska, sounding irritated.

“But it did, dear”, Ludmilla replied, calmer than her friend. “I feel so sorry for the old princesses, the daughters of Friedrich the Fifth. They must be horrified.”

“As we all are”, Franziska continued, and then she lowered her tone and grew closer to Countess von Stockwald. “A princess… kissing… another woman, I almost had a heart attack when I knew.”

“Poor Wilhelmine Kerlich did have the heart attack”, lamented Ludmilla. “Winrich is devastated.”

“My darling Kerlichs, they didn’t deserve this. Those two girls should be locked.”

Ludmilla said nothing, she just looked at the ceiling as if trying to understand how the world had changed so much.

“Everything was so simple back then”, she said. “In our days, I mean.”

“The King is not strong as his great grandfather. How I miss the old King Friedrich!”

“He sure was a man, maybe too virile in some aspects…”

“Oh, hush! He was no different than other men”, said Franziska.

“Or our husbands…”, Ludmilla continued.

“Everything went downhill when Paul II married that awful woman, Lia of New Chalcedon”, Franziska began. “His children, all scandalous spoilt brats!”

“I wouldn’t be so uncharitable, my dear Ziska”, said Ludmilla. “Princess Irene is a fine girl…”

“The only one of the lot!”, interrupted Countess von Lindau. “Sophia wanting to be in Parliament; Leopold leaving the seminary; and now Helena… awful, Milla, just awful!”

“The monarchy is indeed in decay”, accepted Ludmilla. “But then the world is decaying as well. Morality is not what it used to be. The sanctity of marriage is being attacked everywhere. In Knootoss, for example…”

Countess von Lindau gave her friend a furious look, so Countess von Stockwald stopped talking. She remembered that Franziska’s younger son had eloped with her Orthodox girlfriend to marry in Knootoss, and since that day she had never allowed the name of that country to be mentioned in her presence.

“Oh, darling, I’m sorry”, she apologized. “I completely forgot.”

“It’s alright, Milla”, said Franziska, regaining her composure while adopting a suffering expression. “It’s the cross I have to bear.”

“We all have crosses to bear, darling”, replied Ludmilla, frowning.

She felt that her friend was exaggerating. The Orthodox girlfriend had died a few years into the marriage – natural circumstances – and the said son was now happily married to a Braslander noblewoman, a nice Catholic girl.

“Anyway, as I was saying before, Princess Helena has caused a tremendous harm to the monarchy. Nowhere else in the world a royal princess has…”

“There’s Christiana of Excalbia…”, Ludmilla interrupted, now a little bored of her friend’s chattering.

“But Excalbians have always been strange”, countered Franziska. “And they’re Protestants.”

The two ladies crossed themselves at the mention of the horrid heathen cult.

“God have mercy upon us all”, Franziska continued. “Let’s hope that the royal family finally realizes how damaging their actions are to the whole country.”

“They are the protectors of the realm, the ones who should lead by example”, Ludmilla declared, feeling her spirit imbued by meaning.

“Indeed”, Franziska approved, sharing that same feeling.

The two old friends looked at each other. Neither of them smiled, but in their hearts they felt good. It was nice to talk to someone that truly understood.
Last edited by Brasland on Wed Dec 04, 2019 2:23 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Postby Brasland » Mon Dec 24, 2018 3:49 pm

Schloss Kronburg
Braslander Alps


Two women sat in the upper gardens of Schloss Kronburg, one of the royal family’s winter residences, with an impressive view of the remote valley of Löduz, on one of whose hills the old castle stood. They were both in their mid-seventies, but did not seem to be bothered by the freezing temperatures. The two ladies were covered by impressive mink coats. One of them wore a long red gown underneath her coat, and her black hair was coiffed in a regal way. The other, whose gown was blue, kept her hair in its natural color, a silver grey that suited the soft wrinkles in her face.

"It has not been an easy year", said the dark-haired woman with a deep, aristocratic voice.

"It has not, indeed", said the other, her voice not as deep but equally noble.

"Have you heard from Bella?", the dark-haired woman asked.

"No", the other lady replied.

There was silence between them for a while.

"She will call, I am sure", the first woman said.

The other did not reply. Her relationship with her eldest daughter had hit rock bottom that year. A servant appeared and bowed, first to the woman in the red gown, and then to the other.

"Your Majesty, Your Grace, the King requests your presence", he announced.

The two women stood up, both checking their coats and gowns to see everything was in order. They descended through one of the towers and headed to the room where the rest of the family waited. After all, no dinner could begin without the Queen Dowager and her confidante, the Duchess of Pottin. As the elderly ladies crossed the grand door of the Green Room – called that way due to the color of its walls – the members of the royal family stood, while some of them bowed and curtseyed to the Queen. The first to greet them was the King.

"Oma, you two cannot keep going to the gardens with these temperatures", he said, raising his eyebrow.

"Your forget that I’m Valerian, my dear", said the dark-haired woman to her grandson. "My grandmother, Empress Sophia, swam in the Neva River all year long until she was eighty five."

The silver-haired woman, the Duchess of Pottin, smiled warmly as her friend reminisced of her past. It was not common for Queen Charlotte to do so, and thus everyone listed attentively.

"Well", the King said, his eyebrow still raised. "I hope that doesn’t give you any ideas."

As the two matriarchs sat, the rest of the family did the same. The assembly was smaller this year, for there were several members who now lived abroad, while others had consciously decided to stay away out of protest. Indeed, it had not been an easy year.

As the footmen appeared pushing the serving carts, the various members of the family picked their drinks and chatted animatedly. There were the young King, with his brother Leopold (his fiancée Isabelle was spending Christmas with her own family) sitting next to him. Then there was Princess Maria Olimpia and her husband, Count d’Ipswatten, with their two sons. Louis, the eldest, remained almost completely silent while standing far away from his family, next to his cousin Nicolas, the son of Princess Maria Amelia, who was there with her husband and the rest of their unmarried children. Finally, there was Count de Lanoye, the consort of the Duchess of Pottin, while of their children only Maria Anna was present, happily talking to Princess Maria Amelia.

On previous years the castle was a beehive full of relatives. Missing was Queen Lia with her daughters Helena and Blanche; Princesses Alexandra and Laure with the Henslen clan; Prince Stephan and his large family; as well as Princess Juvaline with her husband and daughter. It was, for royal standards, a quiet Christmas, but this was not strange considering the great blow that had been caused by Princess Helena’s banishment from the kingdom. Many cousins had felt it was an unnecessary punishment, and their absence was a way of protesting. Many decades ago, to refuse a royal invitation would have had serious consequences for those who did, but King Georg IV was not a tyrant with his family as some of his predecessors were, and he himself felt doubts about the hard penalty he had imposed upon his sister, but he would not say this to anyone except his brother.

"How are you feeling?", Leopold quietly asked the King, so that no one else would hear.

"I can’t help it", he said, looking at his glass. "I think of her all the time."

"I know, I do too", he said. "But she’s with Mother and Blanche… and the duchess."

Georg said nothing else, but felt a yearn for peace and quiet. This made his mind drift towards Ludovika, the girl he considered his girlfriend but other malicious tongues called his mistress. She had been so supportive, so vital for him to confront all of his problems, that he felt a renewed love towards her. And still, after seven years together, she was so delicious in bed…

Not far from them, at a corner under a gloomy-looking portrait of Friedrich IV, Louis d’Ipswatten spoke to his first cousin, Prince Nicolas of Agros. The former was known as the smart, dutiful cousin in whom the King could rely with, well, anything he needed help with. The latter, on the other hand, was the wild rebel who had been forced to join the Synessian army in order to fix his chaotic life filled with women, alcohol and the occasional drug. It had not worked.

"Lou, good old chap, you look terrible", Nicolas whispered, holding a glass of vodka.

"Thank you, Nicky", said Louis sarcastically, sipping from his whiskey.

"You know, I don’t understand you", Nicolas said. "You find a woman you really love, with whom you have amazing sexual chemistry…"

"We never…!", Louis protested. He was a devout Catholic

"Doesn’t matter", said Nicolas, signaling his cousin to lower his voice, "you two were still insanely attracted to each other. And you let her slip away because Mummy and Daddy disapprove."

Louis looked at Nicolas with fury.

"As if it was that simple", he said bitterly.

"In the end, my dear cousin, it is", the young prince insisted. "Either you marry the girl you love or you conform with a boring countess with an impeccable pedigree."

"I am the heir of an illustrious name", Louis began. "I need a wife who can fulfill…"

He stopped himself, suddenly looking at the floor.

"Oh, who am I kidding?", he wondered out loud, making some family members to turn to look at the two cousins.

They both offered fake smiles, as if nothing happened.

"I love her", Louis said in a whisper. "I’ll always do, but she will never be accepted."

Nicolas smiled.

"As long as you do, cousin, that’s all that matters."

He patted Louis in the back and returned to the rest of the group. The tall, handsome count approached a window, looking at the cold night and the distant lights of the small town of Löduz, several miles down from there. His mind wandered for a while, but it always returned to a face, the face of Marie, the love of his life, the Ambaran maid who had worked for his parents, the college-educated teacher who had been forced to leave her country in order to earn money to send to her family. She was now far away, in Halvan, feeling betrayed and heart-broken.

"It’s true", he thought to himself. "All I need is some courage."
Last edited by Brasland on Fri Jan 07, 2022 3:16 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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Postby Brasland » Fri Nov 08, 2019 6:24 pm

Schloss Grünenberg

The grandson was sitting quite comfortably on a sofa, holding a cigar, while his grandmother, also smoking, held a sheet of paper on one of her hands.

“Ilizibith of Cyretia?”, asked Queen Charlotte.

“Oma! She’s dating Peter”, said the King, quite alarmed.

“Can’t he give her up for you? You’re the King”, said the venerable lady, sounding not quite venerably.

“Now that would be weird!”

“Alright, dear, what about Ketevan of Kartlis?”

“What an odd name, who is she?”

“She’s Cousin Teimuraz’ niece”, explained Charlotte.

“I don’t know, Kartlians strike me as strange people”, said Georg.

“Well, you’re right about that, but her pedigree is impeccable.”

“Oh, really?”

“Her mother is an Ilonburg.”

“Still not tempted.”

“The next name is Jennifer of Latgale, a relative of Cousin David of Excalbia.”

“An Excalbian? That could be interesting. They are a good mix of modern and traditional.”

“No, darling, this girl might be too controversial for you. Her father actively plotted against Cousin David.”

Georg sighed. The girl was a political liability.

“Next name?”

“Letizia of Providencia.”

“Isabelle’s sister, I presume.”

“Indeed.”

“I don’t know, another alliance with the Providencians might be too much.”

“And my sources have told me this girl is quite the character.”

“Your sources, Oma?”, asked the King, amused.

“Leopold”, she confessed.

“I guessed that. Who’s next?”

“Laodice of Ernestria.”

“Ernestrians are weird.”

“Georg! You cannot dismiss girls with wonderful pedigrees just because you think their countries are, in your words, weird”, protested the Queen.

“But I’m the one who will end up with one of these girls, Oma. I want to like the girl, not just marry her out of duty.”

“You’re being impossible. When I married your grandfather I had no idea whether we were compatible, as you people say these days. It was my duty to accept his proposal.”

“Well, you were lucky you both liked each other. I want that for myself too, is that too unreasonable?”

Charlotte bit her lower lip.

“Maybe we can find out a way that is satisfactory for all parties.”

“All parties? There will be just two. She and I.”

“And the country, darling.”

“They’ll be happy with whoever I marry.”

“As long as she’s a suitable person.”

“Who’s next, Oma?”

“There’s only left. Zoe, the daughter of Cousin Andreus.”

“Sophia’s sister-in-law.”

"That's right."

“What do you think of her?”, he asked.

“She sounds too good for us. She even has a degree.”

“Ground-breaking”, said Georg, sarcastically.

“For a princess it is.”

“I’m not sure, Pantocratorians are stiff and rigid.”

“Not at all like us Braslanders”, said the Queen, returning the sarcasm.

“Touché, Oma”, conceded Georg. “Is she pretty?”

“She’s André’s sister.”

“Oma! I don’t want to imagine my brother-in-law when I think of her.”

“She is pretty, darling.”

“Anyway, all these girls you’ve mentioned, except for one or two, they all sound perfectly good candidates, but I won’t pick my wife from a list on a paper. I need to meet them before I decide anything.”

“So, why don’t you meet them? You barely get out of Brasland.”

“Well, I’m the King, I have to stay here. What would people say if I started touring the region meeting girls?”

“You would have lots of fun if you did, Georg.”

“Well, it actually sounds more fun than I thought”, he accepted. “I’ll consider it.”

“Coming from you, if that’s not a victory, I don’t know what is”, sighed the old Queen.
Last edited by Brasland on Fri Nov 08, 2019 6:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Brasland » Wed Dec 04, 2019 2:20 pm

“I’m pregnant.”

The words kept resonating in the King’s ears. It was not something he wanted to hear, at least not from his mistress. After those words, developments occurred quickly. He arranged a marriage between her and his best friend, who had always desired her. Since he was foreign, they left the country and settled in the friend’s homeland, where the child was born. It was a boy, a blond, blue-eyed baby with typical Balkronn features. He resembled nothing to his mother’s husband, a dark-skinned, black-haired man, but that did not matter. They were abroad, safe, away from prying eyes, protected from the enemies who might want to use them against the Crown. It was not particularly controversial for a sovereign to have a bastard, even the Despot of New Constantinople had one, but in these times one had to be careful.

After she had left, the King told himself that life would go on and other women would fill her place. He continued the farce for a while, until it was too evident that he missed her. No, that he loved her. He wondered if she would like his friend’s kisses and caresses. The thought infuriated him and even made him consider some radical options, like taking her and his son away from him, safe in a place where only he could visit. But the friend would be angered and might threaten to divulge his secret. That would be a problem, he had thought, but maybe he could take care of his friend and make him disappear discreetly, in a way that made no one suspect of him. Luckily, he realized the madness of those thoughts. Those ideas came out of jealousy and the feeling of possession over the woman he loved. No, his friend had been loyal, and the King saw himself as a fair man. He would not pay him with betrayal. The best thing to do was to accept his pain and find other women, if not to love them, at least to find physical relief and spiritual comfort. Or maybe even a wife, but how could he marry anyone when the love of his life was alive somewhere in a distant empire?

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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Brasland » Wed Dec 04, 2019 2:48 pm

Schloss Sprinzenwald
Braslander Alps


“You again!”, she screamed. “Get away from me!”

She could not see Her, but she could definitely feel Her presence. She had been lingering around her for the last few years, after that deal when Alexandra had managed to postpone the final trial. Now, She was back, warning her than the deadline was close and she had to prepare for the unavoidable. The Princess, once one of the most feared women in Western Atlantic, bursted into tears, terrified and alone.

“I’ve done some terrible things!”, she shouted. “Please don’t take me yet!”

The presence did not respond in any way. It just stayed there, floating in the air like a perfume without smell. Alexandra pressed a button on her nightstand and a voice quickly mumbled some words from some distant corner of the castle.

“Your Royal Highness.”

“Quick, bring Father Kneiss now.”

“But it’s midnight, Ma’am…”, the voice protested.

“I SAID NOW.”
Last edited by Brasland on Wed Dec 04, 2019 2:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Brasland » Wed Dec 04, 2019 3:12 pm

Constantinopolis Secundus
Empire of New Chalcedon


Ludovika lay naked, tangled in the sheets of the bed she shared with her now husband, Markos Ioastos. He was sleeping, exhausted after a night of passionate exercise. She could not deny that he attracted her and was a good lover, but when he made sweet love to her and she was about to scream someone’s name, it was not Markos who came to mind. She tried to forget the other one, but it was impossible. Every time she looked at Paul, her son, she saw him. He had been the first man, the only man, but she wondered if she had been stupid by listening to her mother’s advice.

“Get pregnant by him, Vika”, she had said. “He’s an honourable man, he’ll do the right thing and marry you. That’s what you want, don’t you?”

She was not sure that she wanted marriage. After all, she was smart enough to know she was not suited to be a queen. No, she had always known that a marriage with him was impossible, but deep in her heart she wanted to have his son, his firstborn. She wanted a living testimony of their love. It had been seven years together, but time had gone so fast that it seemed like an instant. Seven years in a second.

Ludovika looked at Markos and caressed his back. He was a good husband and was completely in love with her. She knew that she was also falling for him, and that scared her, because it would mean leaving the other one behind, and she clung to his memory like an old widow. Markos showed her his love every day, and he adored Paul, even though he looked nothing like him. Yes, she was lucky; she had left the oppressing life of a Braslander noblewoman for the liberated one of a New Chalcedonian wife. She would go to college, she would get a degree and some day she would return home and do what no one imagined she could do. But she was in no rush. After all, she was only twenty five.
Last edited by Brasland on Tue May 19, 2020 6:19 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Brasland » Thu Mar 19, 2020 12:00 pm

Joint post with Mayagua


Residenzschloss Friedrichsburg, Markund

The ceremony of presentation of credentials had changed very little in two centuries. Most of the times a group of new ambassadors were received at the palace for short audiences with the King. This time, however, an exception was granted. Instead of the traditional 1698 Room, it was decided that the young ambassador would be received at the King’s Private Audience Room, where he usually held audiences with the Chancellor. It was surely a gesture of friendship towards the small kingdom of Mayagua and, even more, to the young man that represented that country.

“Your Majesty, the Ambassador of Mayagua, Don Fernando de Sajonia-Coburgo-Gotha”, said the chamberlain, with a thick Braslander accent.

Fernando entered the room, where the King stood wearing full dress uniform. He bowed at the monarch, and then approached. King Georg offered him a handshake.

“Don Fernando, welcome to the palace”, he said, knowing that he had already been in Markund for a few months.

“Thank you, Your Majesty”, replied the ambassador. “It is an honour.”

The King indicated two chairs of blue silk brocade patterns, embroidered with images of dark green dragons, a nod to the sovereign’s patron saint. Fernando sat down, opposite to the monarch. His fingers fiddled in the chair’s armrest. King Georg smiled.

“It’s a rare occasion for a prince to be sent to Brasland as ambassador”, he said. “But I understand the implications of your appointment.”

Fernando looked at the King with surprise. He did not expect him to be so straightforward.

“I don't have a title, Sir”, he explained. “And there’s nothing certain, really. My cousin, the Prince of Sierra Verde, could very well fall in love soon. I’m here with the only expectation of being a good representative of my country.”

“And of your uncle, of course”, the King said. “He’s training you, while at the same time keeping you away from intrigues. Smart move.”

The King’s straightforwardness was in crescendo, but Fernando preferred cautiousness. Georg read the Mayaguan’s face.

“I know what you’re thinking, Don Fernando. I shouldn’t speak so openly, but everything I’m telling you is open knowledge. Don Juan has asked me to take care of you.”

The mention of his uncle’s request irritated him. Didn’t the old man trust him? He hid his emotions, though.

“What do you mean, Sir?”

“You have no experience living in a court, only a few weeks every year in Ernestria, your mother's homeland. As an ambassador, and as my cousin, you’ll be invited for palace functions very frequently, and you’re expected to attend. It’s part of your training.”

Now clearly irritated, and conscious that he was as royal as the King, Fernando did not hide his discomfort.

“Sir, with all due respect, I follow orders from the Mayaguan government only.”

“Then you’ll hear from them very soon”, the King replied, his blue gaze freezing. “You may leave, ambassador. The audience is over.”

Fernando stood up and bowed. He was about to give his back to Georg when the latter said his name: “Don Fernando.”

“Yes, Sir?”

“You will come, even if your government does not tell you so. In Brasland, I am King, and everyone summoned by me must come. Do you understand?”

Hesitating for a second, Fernando realized it was not a good idea to start his official life disrespecting a foreign monarch.

“Yes, Your Majesty.”

And with these words, he left the room, hating the King of Brasland with every fiber of his body.
Last edited by Brasland on Mon Dec 27, 2021 4:49 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Postby Brasland » Tue Sep 29, 2020 12:00 pm

Grand Taylor Hotel, Dillenburg Island
Braslander Gulf Islands


Georg opened his eyes. The sunlight peeked through the space between the curtains. He remembered where he was: Dillenburg Island. He checked his watch, it was past ten. He did not like that. He pushed the sheets aside and stood up. Suddenly, he remembered something. Oh, yes. Her. What was her name? He could not remember, but that didn’t change the fact she was soundly sleeping next to his side of the bed. She was the stewardess of the private plane that had flown him between islands. He had decided she was attractive and she had shown herself quite eager to please him. But, seriously… sleeping past 10 am?! That was unacceptable, he thought. He called the chief of his security retinue and ordered him to bring breakfast. For one. Then he woke her up.

“What time is it, darling?”, she asked, yawning.

He raised an eyebrow. Only two people called him that, and they both wore crowns over their heads.

“Time for you to go, darling”, he replied, and then remembered to add his standard line: “Thank you for a lovely night.”

“But…”

Someone knocked the door.

“Come in”, said Georg.

A tall, thin woman, came in.

“Your Majesty”, said Ena de Mahlberg, as she curtseyed.

He looked in his friend’s direction, and Ena understood. The King disappeared. His private secretary gave the girl a disapproving glance.

“Miss, you have to go”, she said. “His Majesty has a busy day.”

“But I thought we…”, mumbled the girl.

“Oh, grow up!”, Ena replied. “You thought he would buy you flowers and take you sailing? He’s the King of Brasland and you… well, you clearly lack good judgement… Now hurry, please... I’m a private secretary, not the maid!”
Last edited by Brasland on Mon Dec 20, 2021 2:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby Brasland » Wed Jun 09, 2021 3:30 pm

Dillenburg Island
Braslander Gulf Islands


Her name was Cassia Taylor and she was spectacular. Drop-dead gorgeous, smart, funny and discreet. He was completely smitten and had never felt like this before. Life after Cassia had changed him. For Georg, there was no going back.

“Are you still awake?”, she asked, half-asleep, from the bed.

“Just give me five minutes”, he said, reading some official papers on the nearby sofa.

Tomorrow he would give five audiences, inaugurate a school, attend a luncheon, then two receptions and finally a spring festival at night. All of this in three different islands. He had to prepare.

“Honey, I’m tired…”, she complained.

“Just three minutes!”, he begged.

He read two pages, underlined a few paragraphs and then put everything back in order, perfectly organized along the other documents and folders over a golden framed table on the corner of the bedroom. Then, he stood up, took his uniform off and embraced her passionately.

“I love you, Cassia”, he said, and she offered him her lips.

No other word was uttered, for they spent a good part of the night busy in other endeavors. Georg felt complete and truly happy for the first time in his life.
Last edited by Brasland on Wed Jun 16, 2021 3:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Brasland » Mon Jul 19, 2021 6:23 pm

Villa Isabella, Markund

The old Villa Isabella had been a royal residence in the past. It was originally built for Princess Louise, the daughter of Georg II, after she became the childless widow of the Despot of New Constantinople. Located on one of the hills that surrounded Markund, the Birkenberg, it had a beautiful garden that descended in terraces down into the forest, and a magnificent view of the valley of Markund. After Louise's death in 1916, the villa was left abandoned.

Two decades later, when Princess Isabella announced her engagement to the Count of Pottin, King Friedrich V ordered a complete renovation and modernization of the old mansion, and he gifted it to his daughter and son-in-law, who lived there for three happy years, until the sudden, unexpected death of the princess by a heart attack. The Count, later Duke of Pottin, lived at Villa Isabella as a widower until his own passing in 1992, when it was inherited by his only child and heiress Aliénor, who by a special clause was allowed to succeed the ducal dignity. However, fate was cruel, and Aliénor enjoyed her parents’ home for a short time.

In 1994, the monarchy fell and the royal family left for exile. Ever the loyal courtiers, the Pottins followed the royals to New Chalcedon, patiently waiting – and intriguing – for a restoration of the House of Balkronn to power. Fifteen years later, in 2009, their patience was rewarded when the republic fell and the young Prince Georg was offered the throne. Thus, Aliénor and her family returned to the home which had been theirs for so long. As Grand Mistress - Obersthofmeisterin - of the Queen’s Court, the Duchess was expected to entertain a lot. At the venerable age of eighty, her energy was still bountiful and her desire to serve the Crown strong as always.

In the twelve years since her return to Brasland, not a week had gone by without a lunch, dinner or cocktail at Villa Isabella. However, unlike the nouveau riche who invited photographers and magazines to attend and report their parties in the press, the Duchess of Pottin entertained with discretion, and there was an unspoken rule that an invitation to her home was not to be divulged in the media. Although most of the time she invited people whose connection might be of use to the Queen, every once in a while she indulged herself inviting her friends. That day in particular - during the first weeks of summer - she had invited one of her best friends, the Princess of Fürstenstein, for a light lunch in the gardens.

“You looked wonderful at the Pantocratorian ambassador’s ball, Aliénor”, said the princess.

“Thank you, Ghislaine”, the duchess replied. “At this age, one has to make an extra effort.”

“Your tiara, did it belong to your mother?”, asked the princess, who was a commoner by birth, and always fascinated with everything related to the royal family.

The duchess smiled.

“Yes, it did”, she replied, pleased that she had noticed. “It came to Brasland with Queen Juliette, who was Caldan, and then it passed to Friedrich IV, my great-grandfather, who gave it to Queen Theodora. My mother inherited it from her.”

“Wonderful”, said Ghislaine. “Royal jewels, there’s something special about them.”

“History, dear”, Aliénor said softly, trying not to sound too proud by the compliment. “That’s what makes them interesting.”

“It’s a pity that we barely see royal jewels anymore”, the princess complained. “When I married Hansi, there was a ball at the palace every other weekend, not to mention weddings and other occasions. Royal women were all diamonds, emeralds and rubies. Ahhh, those wonderful times... nowadays, the royal family dresses so simply. It’s like they want to be commoners.”

She said this last word with caution.

“The King does not enjoy balls very much, and if the royal family doesn’t host them, Markund society prefers not to do it either”, explained Aliénor.

“Is that the reason? One hears rumors, darling”, said the princess, enigmatically.

The Duchess of Pottin arched an eyebrow.

“What rumors?”, she asked, serious.

“They say that royal finances are under stress”, suggested Ghislaine. “That the King is selling some of the jewels…”

Alienor’s gaze scanned her friend’s expression. Any rumor that was potentially harmful to the Crown she felt as a personal insult. She, was after all, a granddaughter of Friedrich V.

“That’s a slander!”, she exclaimed. “His Majesty would never do such thing. I can assure you, Ghislaine, that this is false. I have been to the vaults with the Queen Dowager. There are rooms full of treasures under the palace's floors, jewels like you have never seen, inherited from the King’s Habsburg, Caldan and Pantocratorian ancestors. Most of them have never seen the light of day and may never will, but they’re still there. Maybe one day, when the King marries, we will return to the old times, when the Residenz was the social center of the city.”

“But when will the King marry?”, the princess wondered. “He seems smitten by that islander…”

“He is smitten, indeed”, confirmed Aliénor, sighing. “How long this will last no one knows, but he does know what his duty is. These Balkronn men, they like to enjoy the pleasures of life. I should know, they are my family, after all. They delay sacrifice for as long as they can... if they can... but when the time comes and duty must be fulfilled, they jump right in! His Majesty will do what is expected of him, he will give the country a queen and an heir, I am sure.”

“Let us all pray for that”, the princess said.

The Duchess half-smiled. As usual, she knew more than she said.
Last edited by Brasland on Sat Nov 27, 2021 6:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Brasland » Mon Dec 20, 2021 2:50 pm

June 2021

Burg Altenhaus
Northern Brasland


The Fürst and Fürstin zu Altenhaus hosted one of their famous shooting weekends at their ancestral estate. As the premier family in the German-speaking north of Brasland, they were not only widely respected, but had impressive connections. Indeed, the Fürst was the great grandson of the late King Friedrich IV, a connection that could never be forgotten in the rank-conscious world of the upper nobility. Also, as if his descent was not enough, the Prince’s second son, Ferdinand, was married to one of the daughters of the Chancellor of the Realm. Few families were as well-settled at the heart of the establishment as the Altenhauses, so there’s little surprise that on such weekend they were hosting not only the Chancellor, but the Queen Dowager. Such coincidence – if such thing existed in royal circles – was quite convenient for Her Majesty, who had requested a discreet meeting with the head of the government. Indeed, at the Queen’s request, the Fürstin had ceded the use of her private boudoir. The old royal dowager, a masterful stateswoman, wanted to send the Chancellor the unspoken message that he was in female territory, and that it was she who was in charge of what would be said.

Three knocks on the door.

“Come in”, said Queen Charlotte.

A valet appeared, bowing to her.

“The Chancellor of the Realm, Your Majesty”, he announced, and then retreated on his steps.

Marc de Soyes, the incumbent of the kingdom’s second highest position of power, approached the Queen and kissed the air above her hand as he bowed.

“Your Majesty”, he greeted her.

“Chancellor, please sit down”, said the dowager, indicating a chair opposite to hers.

He obeyed.

“To what do I owe this honour, Ma’am?”, he asked.

“I trust in your discretion, Mr de Soyes”, she warned him. “I need to speak to you about the King.”

The Chancellor guessed what she was about to say, but waited for her to speak.

“Of course, Ma’am”, he assented.

“I’m afraid this new girl he’s seeing, Miss Taylor, will compromise his position.”

De Soyes did not smile, but he wanted to. He had guessed correctly.

“Why do you think so, Ma’am?”

“He is in love, very much in love, as we have never seen him”, she said. “I’m afraid he will do something foolish.”

“Like what, Ma’am?”, he asked, already tired of ma’amsing her.

“Having some children, or even marrying her.”

“Would that be so terrible?”

She looked at him horrified. He had not called her ‘Ma’am’… and he was not worried enough about her concerns.

“Chancellor! Of course it would be!”, she said, her voice one or two octaves higher than usual. “No King of Brasland has married a mistress! She’s a commoner, an illegitimate child and she’s… and she’s…”

“…of mixed race…., Ma’am?”

He was enjoying her despair.

“I didn’t want to put it in such way… but yes, she’s completely unsuitable”, she said, looking uncomfortable at having to share her private thoughts with him.

“But, Ma’am”, he began. “If His Majesty were to marry Miss Taylor, she would never be queen. She would be a morganatic wife, and after him the throne would go to Prince Leopold’s line…”

“The King has fought hard to reestablish public trust in the monarchy”, she interrupted, bothered by his attitude. “He has done everything he was expected to be where he is now, but I’m afraid he’s willing to risk everything over this woman.”

“Ma’am, please do not worry”, he assured her. “This government would not support a marriage, but I will not intervene in the King’s personal affairs. He’s a grown man and he can organize his private life however he sees fit.”

“You don’t understand, Mr de Soyes”, the dowager insisted. “I know my grandson, I’ve paid close attention to him since he was born. This time is different, Miss Taylor has enraptured him. He’s a different person… He is in love! Men in love do foolish things. We cannot allow him to risk everything for this woman. He’s even planning to build a house in the Gulf Islands!”

“Ma’am, I assure you again, His Majesty will not act without the government’s support. He knows what his duty is.”

“Oh, you are very wrong, Chancellor”, she said, looking right into his eyes with an intense gaze that revealed the whole of her despair. “A man who has sacrificed everything for duty can suddenly decide to throw everything away when he finds the sweet taste of love and physical… consolation. The King has wandered in the desert for years, and he has finally found an oasis. We’re still on time to cut this relationship, but every day that passes draws him closer to Miss Taylor.”

“Are you suggesting that he would abdicate the throne for her?”, the Chancellor asked, raising his eyebrow.

“I don’t know”, she replied, and a tear fell down her cheek. “I just know that, when you find your great love, your life changes. The more time you spend with that person, the more unbreakable the bond becomes. And the more suffering there will be if you have to break it. Please understand me, Mr de Soyes. I’m not just a queen, but a grandmother. I know what it is like to love someone one shouldn’t. I know what the King will feel when he’s forced to cut the relationship, but I also know that if he breaks it now, the feelings will not be as deep and painful as they will be if he does it some months or years from now. The more he knows her, the more he’ll be intoxicated in this attraction for her. She’s an islander girl, I know them very well. Men lose their minds over those creatures. I wish my grandson could love whoever he wanted, but he can’t. Above all, he’s the King, and he must fulfill his duty completely, not just the aspects of it that suit him. The country needs a queen consort, the country needs an heir, the country needs to see a real royal family, a man and a woman with children. We need to rush before we lose that chance, and before the monarchy becomes a circus!”

Marc de Soyes kept his head low, listening to every word the Queen Dowager said. He had to recognize: she was persuasive as few politicians. She was right, the monarchy’s prestige needed to be preserved, and the King’s affaires might cause trouble. He was the leader of the Conservative Party, after all. He raised his head and, very seriously, said the words that would seal King Georg’s life forever.

“Every word Your Majesty has pronounced is right”, he declared. “I will make sure this affaire is finished, but I must tell you this, Ma’am: the King needs a woman by his side. If we don’t find him a suitable partner he will return to Miss Taylor’s arms or he will find someone else, maybe equally unsuitable or even worst.”

Queen Charlotte conceded half a smile.

“Leave that to me, Mr de Soyes”, she said as she stood up, signalling the end of the meeting.

The Chancellor stood as well

“So I have your word?”, asked the Queen.

“You do, Ma’am”, he assured as he bowed to her.

“Then, I will wait for our next communication”, she said. “And I hope by then my grandson will be a free man.”

Without another word, she left the room, leaving the Chancellor of the Realm alone at a woman’s boudoir. Many years later he would say that, of all his years in public office, that was one of the oddest and most significant meetings he ever had.

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Postby Brasland » Mon Dec 27, 2021 11:27 am

Residenzschloss Friedrichsburg
Markund


“Do you think of Father often?”, asked Prince Leopold to his older brother, the King.

The two men where at the latter’s private apartments, drinking brandy and updating each other on their respective lives, as they often did. Georg looked to the window and breathed deeply.

“I do”, he said.

“Do you miss him?”, pressed Leopold.

The King turned to his brother.

“Sometimes.”

“Sometimes?”, repeated the prince. “That’s disappointing.”

“Why?”

“He loved you.”

“I loved him too, Leo”, said the King.

“Yes, but you only miss him sometimes”, Leopold said, offended.

“I left home very young”, Georg explained, serious. “I had to learn to rely on myself only.”

Leopold stayed silent, understanding his brother much better.

“I wish things had been different, Georg.”

The King smiled faintly.

“Things are the way they are.”
Last edited by Brasland on Mon Dec 27, 2021 11:41 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby Brasland » Mon Dec 27, 2021 11:40 am

Villa Ardelia*
Constantinopolis Secundus


“So how was the ball?”, asked Helena to her younger sister.

Blanche gave her a cheeky smile.

“I met someone.”

Helena laughed.

“I knew it! You’ve been acting so mysteriously since you returned. What’s his name?”

“Albert.”

“Ugghh, sounds so Braslander…”

This time it was Blanche who laughed.

“He’s actually Jrawan, a cousin of the Trabelsis.”

“Oh, so he's Jewish…”

“Yes.”

“That would be a first for our family.”

Blanche looked at her older sister, puzzled.

“You don’t think Georg will meddle in my relationship?”, she asked to Helena.

“Well, he banned me from Brasland because of mine.”

The two sisters looked at each other.

“I just met him”, said Blanche, and then she added: “But I really like him.”

“Then don’t let Georg find out about it until you feel it’s the right time. And when that moment comes, be prepared to stand your ground.”

Helena hugged her sister and kissed her cheek.

“I’m so happy for you”, she said, warmly

Blanche smiled, returning the hug, but thinking of how to avoid the King’s radar.

*Official residence of Her Majesty Queen Ardelia of Brasland.

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Postby Brasland » Wed Dec 29, 2021 1:40 pm

Imperial Suite
Grand Taylor Hotel
Mutalah, Emirate of Lulwat


“The money these sheikhs have”, said the King, as he looked at the impressive view of Mutalah from his suite on the top of the hundred floor hotel.

Behind him, Cassia answered some emails from her laptop.

“They’re drowning in oil”, she replied, absent-mindedly. “When are you meeting the Emir?”

“Tonight, there’s a state banquet at his palace”, Georg said as he lay on the bed. “Do you know he just bought the Tholmark Holzen? He snapped his fingers and boom! He now owns one of our top football clubs.”

Cassia finished typing and raised her eyes.

“The world is changing”, she said, moving closer to him. “The old Christian monarchies will always be powerful, but countries like Lulwat are becoming increasingly relevant. You should make as much deals as possible. Brasland could really use that money.”

“We have money”, protested Georg.

“Oh, yes, but we can have more”, said Cassia, smiling at him. “Does the Emir know you brought your mistress?”

The King laughed. “You naughty girl. You’re not my mistress.”

“Oh, but it sounds so much sexier…”
Last edited by Brasland on Wed Dec 29, 2021 2:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby Brasland » Fri Dec 31, 2021 4:29 pm

Mezaroses House
Dillenburg Island


“Happy New Year, Granny!”, said Princess Philippa to her grandmother, the Infanta Anna Isabelle.

“Happy New Year, my dear Pippa”, said the old princess, kissing her granddaughter.

The two women sat on the verandah, holding hands as they watched the fireworks exploding over the bay.

“What beauty…”, Philippa muttered.

“Indeed”, said the Infanta. “Think of a wish.”

“Grandma, this is not my birthday!”

“Think of a wish”, insisted Anna Isabelle.

Philippa looked at her grandmother and smiled gently. She closed her eyes and thought of something.

“What did you ask for?”, asked the Infanta, curious.

“That my life can be half as fruitful as yours”, said Philippa, giving her grandmother a look full of love.

Anna Isabelle squeezed her granddaughter’s hand and said nothing but, as the two sat together watching the fireworks, a few tears fell over her cheeks.

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Postby Brasland » Fri Jan 07, 2022 6:36 am

Schloss Grünenberg

Cassia Taylor sat on the floor of the castle's library, looking at one of many family albums that were scattered around her. She smiled as she saw pictures of the King as a toddler, surrounded by his parents and siblings. Under each picture there was a short description. There was one photo where he was sleeping on the Empress of New Chalcedon’s lap, another where he was riding a camel with the Princess of Synessia herself, other where he sailed along the Duke and Duchess of La Costa del Sur in Providencia. Everything was so intimate and yet so… grand. She herself belonged to a rich family, but one without history. Freedom had been the rule in her life, while duty had been his. All these people in the albums were titled and held important positions and looked dignified, but even behind the smiles Cassia thought she saw a sternness that unnerved her. They were all born for that life of government, representation and, yes, glamour. She felt so different from them, and so inadequate for that aspect of Georg’s life.

The door opened and he entered, bending over to kiss her head.

“You said you were coming yesterday”, she said in an accusatory tone.

“I know, sorry”, he apologized. “I had an emergency meeting with the Chancellor. There’s a big strike in Halvan that is paralyzing the port’s commercial activities. It’s causing a lot of problems.”

“Don’t worry”, she replied, feeling guilty. “We have the weekend …”

“Actually, I have to leave for Halvan first thing in the morning”, he said with regret. “This is a really delicate situation and…”

Cassia did not allow herself to show disappointment, even though this had happened too many times. Hiding her true feelings, she smiled and kissed him.

“Of course, darling”, she said, caressing his face.

That night, as he slept, Cassia stayed awake, wondering and pondering.
Last edited by Brasland on Fri Jan 07, 2022 6:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Brasland » Wed Jan 19, 2022 11:51 am

Villa Isabella
Markund


The Duchess of Pottin invited her two aunts, the Princesses Alexandra and Laure, for tea at her home. The Queen was expected too, but she had not arrived yet.

"Of course she isn't here", said Alexandra dismissively, as she sipped her scotch (tea was not her thing). "Charlotte must always make a grand entrance."

"Please, Alix, don't be your usual self", said Laure, frowning. "She's the Queen, she must arrive last. It's a matter of protocol."

"We're family!", protested Alexandra, but then she rolled her eyes. "Although I haven't seen her in years."

Aliénor de Pottin remained silent, looking resigned. To say that Alexandra and Charlotte did not get along was an understatement, but the latter had asked her to organize this family gathering to discuss the King and Cassia Taylor. She wanted their help to separate them. One of the maids, in strict black and white uniform, appeared at the door.

"Her Majesty", she said, curtseying.

Queen Charlotte appeared smiling, looking grand in a dark blue dress, her neck and ears adorned with white pearls. Her black hair, always perfectly coiffed in an imperial style, looked like an elegant crown over a face that had many wrinkles, but still kept her beauty. The three women stood up and curtseyed, Aliénor deeply, while the two princesses barely bending their old knees.

"Laure, Alix, how lovely to see you", said Charlotte.

"It's been quite long, Lotti", replied Princess Laure. "I'm glad to see you so well."

"Thank you, my dear", said the Queen, then glancing at Alexandra. "How have you been, Alix? I heard you visited Safiya recently."

Alexandra attempted to give her sister-in-law a smile, but by Charlotte's expression she knew it did not come across as such. Not that she cared.

"I was, yes", said the princess. "At my age, a bit of sun is much welcome. Sprinzenwald is so cold this time of the year."

"I've never understood why you two prefer to live in such a remote place", the Queen commented.

Laure laughed. "The peace and quiet, Lotti", she said, gently. "The peace and quiet."

The maids appeared holding silver trays with biscuits and other delicacies. As the Queen and the princesses attacked the food, the Duchess of Pottin cleared her throat.

"Lotti, didn't you want to discuss something in particular?", she asked, trying to sound casual.

Charlotte glanced at her. "Oh, yes, of course."

"Oh, please", said Alexandra, with a smirk. "It's so obvious, Charlotte. My answer is: Don't bother."

The Queen looked at Alexandra, puzzled.

"I beg your pardon?"

"Georg and Miss Taylor", said Alexandra, and then she repeated. "Don't bother."

"Don't bother about what?", asked Charlotte, slightly tense.

"You are working so hard to separate them", the princess said. "Why? They will break up eventually, it's just a matter of time."

Queen Charlotte did not like to be spoken like that, even by members of her family, and especially not by Alexandra.

"How exactly do you know they will break up? Do you have a crystall ball or a special power that we're not aware of?"

Charlotte sounded irritated, and Alexandra knew she would be so. She repressed a smile, knowing how easy it was to push her buttons.

"It's evident, Charlotte", she said, simply. "They love each other, yes, but their lifestyles are complety different and they know it. As I said, it's just a matter of time. So you can drop your schemes with Aliénor and Cousin Anita."

"How dare you speak to me like that!", shouted Charlotte. "You know nothing, you're just a jealous little woman!"

Alexandra roared with laughter, and the sound was so loud that even the maids, back in the kitchen, looked to each other in shock and went out to see if everything was alright.

"Your problem, Charlotte, is that you take yourself too seriously. Go ahead, plot and scheme and plan all you want, but Georg will find out and he will hate you. He already suspects you're behind some of the strange things that have happened to Miss Taylor's father recently ."

She sipped from her glass, taking all the time in the world. Charlotte looked at her, furious and shocked, not knowing what to say.

"Oh yes, I have my informants all over the region", continued Alexandra, quietly. "His membership at the Dillenburg Golf Club was cancelled with no previous warning, wasn't it? And he was suddenly disinvited by Anita to a function at Mezaroses. How did that happen? Anita would have never done that by her own initiative. It's you who's pulling the strings, and for what? There are already cracks in that relationship, and they will grow wider and deeper as time goes by. Miss Taylor is completely unsuitable as a wife, even a morganatic one, but she's no fool. She doesn't want to marry him. How do I know? Because I know how the world works. There are social climbers, but there are also women who fall in love with great men without any ambition of acquiring a position. Our girl is option number two."

Alexandra finished her drink and stood up. Her sister looked at her, icily. She stood up as well, for they had come together.

"My dear Lotti", said Princess Laure, visibly upset. "I'm terribly sorry that Alix has behaved like this. You must ignore her, she has problems, you know. She's not good with people."

Queen Charlotte said nothing, humiliated. Her expression was one of fury and indignation, and she seemed like she would burst in tears at any moment. The two old princesses curtseyed, while Aliénor looked at them in shock. Minutes later, when they were being chauffered back to Henslen Palace, where they were staying, Laure snapped at her sister.

"Why do you always have to be so mean with her?", she said, very angry.

Alexandra looked at her strangely. For once in her life, she did not mind to show her softer side.

"She made my life hell many years ago, and you know that! If she feels insulted when I tell her the truth, it's her problem. I didn't say it to hurt her."

"That's not true, Alix. You said it in the exact way that would hurt her the most."

"Maybe I did", the princess replied. "Maybe I needed a little revenge before it's too late."
Last edited by Brasland on Sat Jan 22, 2022 4:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Brasland
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Founded: May 16, 2006
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Brasland » Fri Apr 29, 2022 11:23 am

Joint post with Itayta


VIP Terminal
King Cosimo II National Airport
Nuovo Castiglione


Princess Alexandra of Brasland waited as her staff dealt with the Customs officers. She had a diplomatic passport, but Itaytan bureaucrats had a well-deserved fame for their slowness and Alexandra, an experienced traveller, sat down, drinking a pineapple juice mixed with a bit – just a bit – of scotch.

“Ahhh! Refreshing”, said the princess to herself.

At the age of ninety-four, she was not willing to slow down her intense pace of life. She enjoyed travelling, and she had the money to hire people to help her. She had energy, but her body did not respond as it used to. It had been many years since her last visit to Itaytá, so she immediately accepted when her distant cousin, Princess Eleonora, invited her to spend a few days at her palazzo in Nuovo Castiglione. Eleonora, the only surviving aunt of the King of Itaytá, was a spinster like Alexandra, and the two had always gotten along like a house on fire. They were mischievous, bad-tempered, but fiercely loyal and honest to a fault. On their first meeting, they hated each other guts, but two hours later they were laughing like hyenas. A friendship was formed.

“We are ready, Your Royal Highness”, said Philippos Goulandris, Alexandra’s right hand.

The princess chuckled. She foresaw that the next few days would be fun. A Rolls-Royce awaited for her, guarded by a police motorcade. Alexandra disappeared into the car, and in a matter of minutes they were in one of the highways in direction to Nuovo Castiglione. The city, founded by the Tuscan colonizers in the XVIIIth century, was a mix of Florentine splendour and tropical decadence. Old cathedrals and palaces crumbled along modern buildings and houses. As oil was discovered in the early nineties, Itaytá had gone through an impressive economic boom, and the new commercial elite was eager to assert their power, erecting impressive skyscrapers with designs of dubious taste. Itaytan tycoons competed with the Lulwatis and Knootians in the international art auctions. Three new art museums had been founded in Nuovo Castiglione in the last twenty years, all of them crowded with some of the most expensive works of art in the Western Atlantic. Alexandra looked at the city from her seat, impressed of how much it had changed since she visited in 1996, for the wedding of Prince Ludovico, the King’s younger brother. The cars turned right on one of the streets of the old part of town. Near a small piazza there was an imposing old building with a nice Florentine façade. Palazzo Bianco, read a sign next to the gates. As the Rolls-Royce crossed inside the palace, it turned to get inside the inner courtyard. Several servants waited near a few steps that led to the main entrance. On top, holding a cane, stood a distinguished woman of white hair and light blue eyes.

“Alessandra!”, said the woman, enthusiastically.

The princess got off the car, as Philippos Goulandris handed her her own cane.

“Eleonora, darling”, Alexandra replied. “You look exactly like I left you.”

“You think so?”, said Princess Eleonora, unsure.

Alexandra laughed hysterically.

“Of course not! You’re wrinkled like a raisin”, she said.

Eleonora frowned.

“You have changed nothing, Sandra”, she said. “But you’re someone to talk. Look at you! Walking like a turtle.”

Both friends looked at each other. Not prone to demonstrations of affection, this was their way of greeting each other.

“Shall we go to the garden?”, said Eleonora. “You have no idea how this city has changed since you were here.”

“Oh, I saw quite a bit during the trip from the airport”, said Alexandra, following her friend. “Oil can do wonders for an economy, but that won’t last for too long.”

“Oh, don’t be a wet blanket, Sandra! Let us Itaytans enjoy our prosperity. If it ends, then so be it, but we’ll have a good time while it lasts.”

The two princesses sat in the middle of another courtyard, surrounded by tall tropical trees, and luscious plants and flowers. A table was arranged, covered with a white tablecloth, over which there were several drinks and snacks.

“Scotch for you, I presume?”, said Eleonora.

“You have a good memory”, replied Alexandra.

A servant poured whiskey inside the princess’ glass. Alexandra slowly enjoyed the taste of this beloved liquid.

“How’s the family?”, she asked.

Unlike other ruling families in the region, the Itaytans were not close relations, so the Braslander princess did not devote much attention to what happened with them. This trip would be useful to acquire fresh information.

“Everyone’s doing well”, said Eleonora. “My siblings have all died, sadly. I’m the last of the old guard still standing. My great nieces and nephews consider me a fossil, but the King, my dear Nando, is very affectionate, and I see him quite often. What about your family? I have spoken to your niece Olimpia a few times. She’s a nice girl.”

“They’re all obsessed with being royal, as usual. And Charlotte is determined to break the King’s dalliance with Miss Taylor, a commoner from the Gulf Islands.”

“I heard of that woman”, said Eleonora, dismissively. “One must be careful with islander girls, they know how to enrapture a man. The Grand Prince is also quite fond of commoners, but the family will not allow him to marry one.”

“Of course not, no sensible sovereign would accept such thing”, Alexandra said. “Even the Excalbians have married well, and that’s something no one could have anticipated. Did you know that James of Excalbia dated Hoogaboom’s granddaughter? I wrote a long letter to Cousin David, but he died before I could send it. Poor darling David, he was a nice man, and he always laughed at my jokes!”

“I never met the Emperor, but my brother spoke about him in good terms”, declared the Itaytan princess.

“And what about this Grand Prince you mention? I hope he knows how to be discreet”, said Alexandra. “Georg has been a disaster. For many years, he had a nice girlfriend, a baroness who was distantly related to us, but she… well, she got pregnant and had to leave the country. The poor boy suffered quite a bit. Until Miss Taylor, he slept with all the available women in Markund. I heard scandalous rumours, darling. Every week a new starlet or model, then the wives of a few courtiers, even a foreign queen! Oh dear, in a way, Miss Taylor’s appearance has been a blessing.”

“A queen?! Who?”, asked Eleonora, dying of curiosity.

“Oh, I swore never to reveal her name”, said the Braslander. “You are such a gossip, Nora! No one knows outside palace walls, and I won’t say a thing.”

“Me, a gossip?”, shouted Eleonora, scandalized. “You have been here for fifteen minutes and you’ve already talked about your King, Prince James and my great nephew Giovanni, the Grand Prince! You have some nerve, Sandra!”

“I have not discussed the Grand Prince”, contradicted Alexandra. “You’re the one who brought up his name. He must be terribly ill-behaved if you speak of him like that.”

“Oh, he’s such a charming, nice boy”, said Eleonora, softening a bit. “But he can’t keep it in his pants.”

“Nora!”, exclaimed Alexandra, horrified.

The Itaytan laughed.

“It’s true”, she said. “He likes women a bit too much, but at least he’s discreet, unlike your Georg.”

“It’s the press, the horrible tabloids!”, Alexandra protested. “They can’t leave him alone. Once he was seen driving this Caldan pop star into the palace, the craziness began, and they have never left him alone ever since. He was only twenty. It’s not fair, a young man should be entitled to have a bit of fun.”

“Well, that’s the problem”, reflected Eleonora. “They have too much fun, and they are too interesting for the press to resist meddling in their affairs.”

“Does the King have any daughters?”, asked Alexandra, out of nothing.

Princess Eleonora knew where the subject was heading.

“Yes, two girls”, she said. “The eldest is married, but Violante is not, and she’s only twenty-three, but I warn you, she’s not interested in your Georg.”

“Oh, she hasn’t met him”, said Alexandra. “Just give her ten minutes in his company, and she’ll change his mind.”

“There’s only one man who had that charm, Sandra, and you know who he was.”

“Yes, darling Aksel”, muttered Alexandra, closing her eyes to remember his face.

“As you know, he was my first cousin”, said Eleonora. “All of us girls were a bit in love with him, but I think you were obsessed. You never forgave him for marrying Juliette of Synessia.”

“That viper! Don’t mention her name!”, shouted Alexandra, furious.

“She was your first cousin!”, exclaimed Eleonora, shocked.

“So what? She stole him from me!”

Eleonora dismissed her claims with an annoyed gesture.

“Juliette was the most beautiful princess of her generation”, said Eleonora. “And Aksel the most handsome king of the Western Atlantic. How could they not fall in love?”

“Don’t talk to me about Synessia”, said Alexandra, irritated. “I haven’t set foot in that place for seven decades, and I don’t want to know about that side of the family.”

“Well, my older sister married your cousin Raymond”, said Eleonora. “The one who plotted against his brother.”
Alexandra knew that Eleonora would talk nonstop about Synessia just to bother her.

“Yes, yes, Raymond plotted against Louis”, she said. “That shows you the caliber of people they all were!”

“You are surely exaggerating, Sandra. After all, aren’t you friends with Juliette’s daughter-in-law, Safiya?”

The Braslander frowned, not pleased when someone pointed out her contradictions.

“That’s a different thing”, she barked. “Safiya is a fun woman, we had a blast last year, trying to pair young Elizabeth of Excalbia with one of the Ilonburgs, a foolish boy who wants to be an archeologist!”

“Oh dear God!”, shouted Eleonora. “Princes are following such strange paths these days. What’s next? A lawyer? An actor? We live in strange times.”

“Indeed, but in Brasland we follow the old rules”, said Alexandra, proud. “Princes are princes, and princesses are princesses. We don’t send them to college to get strange ideas.”

“I wish we could say the same, darling. The King did send his children to local universities, but they haven’t come out too damaged from the experience. In Giovanni’s case, he even learned one or two things.”

“Oh really?”, asked Alexandra, sarcastically. “I'm surprised that people learn anything at universities these days.”

“Giovanni has always been a good student", declared Eleonore. "And one of the best athletes in his school. As I said, his only weakness are girls.”

“Georg has a sister.”

“The lesbian?”

“No, of course I don’t mean her! And her name is Helena, a bright girl who is know working for her mother’s businesses. No, I meant the youngest of the lot, Blanche. She has a balanced head over her shoulders.”

“You could send her over to see if Gianni decides to settle down.”

“And you could send your Violante to us.”

“Maybe we could arrange something.”

“Maybe…”

“But I warn you, Sandra”, said Eleonora, menacing. “If your Blanche ends up being another of Gianni’s conquests, you can’t say I didn’t warn you.”

Alexandra laughed like the hyena she was.

“Blanche is a clever girl. She’s more than capable of handling your Gianni.”

“We’ll see”, said Eleonora, doubtful.

“Indeed, we’ll see”, added Alexandra, who remembered she held a glass of scotch in her hand. She raised it to Eleonora, and both smiled.

“Cheers!”, said the two friends.
Last edited by Brasland on Fri Jun 10, 2022 1:06 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Brasland
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Founded: May 16, 2006
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Brasland » Tue Jun 28, 2022 8:45 am

June 28th, 1935

St Markus Cemetery
St Markus


Alexandra got down from the car and grabbed her father’s hand. She looked up and saw him, imposing as always, but his eyes were bright. This worried her. The King looked down and his eyes met Alexandra’s. He saw her concerned expression and smiled at her, squeezing her hand. Slowly, they walked among the stones, which the girl looked with curiosity. She let go of her father’s hand and wandered around the graves, reading the names. They were all new to her, so simple and short, unlike the long ones she was used to from her cocooned life at court. Suddenly, she remembered her father and looked for him. He was several steps away, in front of some sort of small stone house. Alexandra approached and grabbed the King’s hand again. She read a word on the building’s façade.

ALDERBERG


“What is Alderberg, Papa?”, she asked.

He did not respond immediately.

“My cousins”, he said heavily, but then corrected himself: “Our cousins.”

“Are they all dead?”, Alexandra asked.

“Not all”, he replied. “Only one.”

“Who?”

“Don’t ask more questions, Alix”, said the King, slightly raising his voice.

The little princess obeyed. Minutes later, the two went back to the car and drove away.

***

June 28th, 2022

St Markus Cemetery

A car stopped in front of the sleepy village’s cemetery. An elderly figure emerged, supporting herself by a cane. A middle-aged man, her assistant, approached her.

“No”, she ordered. “I want to go alone.”

The old woman walked inside the graveyard, feeling the weight of the years. Almost nine decades since the first – and only – time she had been there. She stopped in front of the old Alderberg mausoleum.

“So we met again, Cousin Cilla”, she said, her voice trembling.

She lay a small bouquet of edelweiss flowers on the upper steps of the mausoleum, and stood still, feeling the gentle summer breeze caressing her wrinkled cheeks.

“It’s like it was yesterday, Cilla”, said Alexandra. “Nothing has changed.”

Then she thought of her mother and a few tears fell. There was no one left but her and Laure, her younger sister. All of her generation, her Excalbian and Caldan cousins included, had already died.

“If you had married Papa, I would not exist”, she said. “But how much happier he would have been.”

Alexandra leaned slightly to read a list of names carved in Roman letters against the marble stones. She was only interested in one.

MARIE CECILIE
Gräfin von Alderberg
*23. August 1887
28. Juni 1910


“Before you died, you made several prophecies about the family”, said the old woman. “All of them have been fulfilled except for one. I shiver just thinking of it. I pray that you were wrong, but I fear you were not. I just hope I don’t live long enough to see it. How did you know? Did Our Lord used you as an instrument to warn the family? I’ve thought of telling them many times, but I know that they wouldn’t believe me. They already think I’m mad, but I’ve learned to trust my instinct. There are forces in this world which we do not understand.”

She paused, only to feel her face wet with the quiet tears that had been falling. She ignored them.

“After Georg and Paul died, I understood that your words were prophetic. I’ve spent my life trying to prevent the inevitable. First, I thought giving my life to God would be the best sacrifice, but I was kidding no one. I’m not cut out to be a nun." She chuckled, and then continued. "Then, when Ivan married Eirena, I thought that working for her would give me an advantage over those who wanted our destruction. I was wrong, the monarchy fell anyway, and we had to wait fifteen years to restore it, and at what cost! If I only knew how to stop it, I would have happily given my life to protect them. I’ve lived too long, anyway, and none of them know or care of what I’ve done for their good. If Georg continues down the path he is in, he’ll throw away everything for Miss Taylor, and God knows that Leopold will not be a good king. He’ll be crushed under the burden, and who’s next? That hot-headed boy, Peter, whose concept of diplomacy is getting into a princess’ panties. May God protect these lands of crusaders and nomads; May God protect our family from these invisible enemies that work against us."

Alexandra sighed, feeling very tired.

"When I’m not around anymore, who will be the House of Balkronn’s silent guard? Helena? She’s the only one with brains, but she’s impulsive like the rest of them, unable and unwilling to sacrifice herself for the common good. Who is the woman you mentioned before your last breath? Is she one of us? Will we be replaced by a republic… or worst… a foreign dynasty? Oh Cilla, if only I could talk to you. There’s no one else who’d listen.”

She stopped talking and looked up, to the clear sky.

“I haven’t told a single soul", she said, finally. "Should I? But to whom? I’m running out of time. Please, Cilla, send help.”

Suddenly, the old princess felt her heart beating very fast, so fast that it became overwhelmingly painful, until the pain ceased and everything around her seemed to be swirling. The colors merged until they disappeared, and she was surrounded by a white light. A distant noise appeared from nowhere, a melodic voice singing vowels that quickly enveloped the air with a calming music. Alexandra lost sense of time, space, vision, hearing or touch. Then, she felt no more. Minutes later, when her assistant found her lying on the ground, she was no longer among the living.
Last edited by Brasland on Tue Jun 28, 2022 9:00 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Brasland
Diplomat
 
Posts: 860
Founded: May 16, 2006
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Brasland » Tue Jun 28, 2022 11:17 am

Residenzschloss Friedrichsburg
Markund


The weekly session of the Council of State had just ended when the King was approached by her Private Secretary.

“Your Majesty, I must give you some sad news”, she said, uneasy.

He looked at her, his eyes widening, alert.

“Her Royal Highness the Princess Alexandra has just passed away”, said Ms de Mahlberg.

The room was now empty and the King stood up, moving to the window.

“So Aunt Alix has died”, he said, barely believing it. “The old lioness, it’s not possible!”

He turned back to Ena.

“How did she die?”, he asked.

“Heart attack, Sire.”

“Where?”

“At St Markus’ cemetery.”

“Where in hell is that?”, asked the King, puzzled.

“Near Schloss Allsbach, Sire.”

“Wait, is it there where the Alderberg girl is buried?”

“I beg your pardon, Sire?”

“Cilla Alderberg, my great-grandfather’s fiancée, the one he was forbidden to marry.”

“Oh, I’ll find out.”

“No need, I’m sure that’s the place. Do you know why she might have gone there?”

“No, Her Royal Highness was not someone whose actions one could easily understand, and yet there was always a good reason behind each them.”

“Indeed, there was”, said the King, frowning.

*


Despotic Court of New Constantinople
Pantocratoria


Princess Sophia, Despotess of New Constantinople, hung up the phone and exploded in tears. Her lady-in-waiting, Mademoiselle de Ledonitz, looked alarmed and approached her.

“What is it, Madame?”, asked the girl.

The Despotess could not reply, as the sobbing continued. Mademoiselle just stayed next to her, standing while the children stood up and went to their mother.

“Mama, why are you crying?”, asked Princess Louise.

Sophia did her best to pull herself together.

“My aunt, Princess Alexandra”, she mumbled, looking at Diane. “I was just informed that she passed away.”

“Oh, Madame! I’m so sorry”, said Mademoiselle de Ledonitz. “Let me bring you a glass of water.”

“I’m sorry, Mama”, said Louise.

“Thank you, chérie”, the Despotess replied, giving her daughter a soft, absent-minded caress.

As Diane brought the water, Sophia remembered Alexandra’s maneuvers to get her married to the Despot, and how her decisive action put an end to years of indecisive negotiations by the Braslander ambassador to the Pantocratorian court. As she caressed Louise’s hair, Sophia realized how much she owed her great aunt, and how little she had done to repay her. She did not feel so guilty, though, for she knew that Alexandra did not care for gratitude. She did things because someone needed to, and no one else volunteered.

*


Villa Ardelia
Constantinopolis Secundus


The servant brought the telephone as Queen Lia and her daughters were having tea outside.

“A call from Markund, Your Majesty”, said the old maid.

The three women looked at each other. That could only mean bad news.

“Hello?”, said Lia. “Yes, it’s me, what happened? Oh, I see. How sad, indeed. Thank you for calling. Is the King free to talk? No? Of course not. Well, I appreciate your consideration. Goodbye.”

“What happened?”, asked Blanche.

“It’s your Aunt Alexandra”, the Queen began.

“Oh, no!”, exclaimed Helena, immediately guessing.

“I’m afraid so, my dear”, said Lia, knowing how much Helena loved the old princess. “She passed away today.”

Helena sobbed while Blanche hugged her. Lia, whose relationship with Alexandra had been rocky, to put it mildly, sighed and looked at the harbour. She remembered those days of exile when Alexandra came and went to Villa Ardelia, annoying her with her meddlesomeness, but also impressing her by her discipline and strong sense of duty, always active on the cause for the restoration of the monarchy. Now, after so many years of ceaseless activity, she was finally resting. The Queen Dowager said a short, silent prayer for her soul and touched her cheek. She was getting so old...
Last edited by Brasland on Tue Jun 28, 2022 11:19 am, edited 1 time in total.


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