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Midsummer 2022 (Western Atlantic)

Where nations come together and discuss matters of varying degrees of importance. [In character]
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Excalbia
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Founded: Antiquity
Liberal Democratic Socialists

Midsummer 2022 (Western Atlantic)

Postby Excalbia » Wed Jun 15, 2022 10:07 am

OOC: This event is open for the Western Atlantic. I ask that anyone else interested attending please telegram me for an invite.

The Summer Palace
Imperial Preserve Island, Excalbia


Midsummer was a uniquely Excalbian holiday. For two days - Midsummer Eve, the day before the solstice, and the Midsummer, the day of the solstice, the country came to a stop. Most people abandoned the cities for the country and a people generally known for piety and sobriety held a 24-hour party awash with symbolism drawn from their pagan past. Men wore wreaths of oak leaves and women wore flowers woven into their hair. People who could barely cook tried their hand at making the traditional homemade cheese and brewing their own beer. In the brief night of the longest day, young men would try to impress their peers and young ladies by leaping over bonfires, and groups of young people and adult couples would go into the woods to hunt the mythical blooming fern.

In accordance with tradition, the Emperor and Empress were hosting a lavish Midsummer party at the Summer Palace. Situated on the Imperial Preserve Island, the Summer Palace had long served the Imperial Family as a private retreat within the boundaries of the capital. Accessible only by boat or helicopter, access to the Island was strictly limited and an invitation had long been seen as a sign of Imperial favor.

Being Joseph and Anna’s first Midsummer as Emperor and Empress, all the royal - and many of the noble - houses of the Western Atlantic had been invited along with the usual roster of local and diplomatic guests. It made for a much larger event than the Island had seen since the late Emperor David IV’s 60th birthday celebration in 2018.

As guests arrived, they were shown through the glass ceilinged Great Hall and out to the Palace’s large formal gardens. The Emperor, dressed in a white open collared shirt with traditional embroidery down the front over brown trousers and boots, wore the equally traditional wreath of oak leaves as he mingled with his guests.

Crown Princess Elizabeth, included as a cohost on the invitation to encourage younger guests to attend, stood next to a small pool at one end of the garden. She wore her hair down, as was the custom for young girls and unmarried women on Midsummer, and topped with a wreath of fresh flowers. She wore a traditional knee-length embroidered dress, cinched at the waist with a blue and gold sash. She was smiling and clearly excited for the day’s festivities.

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Providencia y San Andres
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Founded: Jun 10, 2018
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Providencia y San Andres » Wed Jun 15, 2022 10:12 am

Infanta Sofia Cristina de Habsburg, oldest child of King Carlos III and Queen Sophia of Providencia, was the senior member of the Providencian delegation, though she doubted delegation was the right word for… whatever it was the Excalbians were doing. She had rarely seen so many royals dressed so… casually, except at her family’s beach house. And even then, they did not invite foreign guests to see them prancing in their swimsuits.

The thirty-something Infanta felt older than most of the other guests, who seemed as young as her cousins from Providencia. The only good thing about being a spinster, by Providencian court standards at least, was that she could travel unencumbered by a lady-in-waiting. So, at least she had a measure of privacy.

Although Sofia was clearly as beautiful as her younger, married sisters, Isabelle and Letizia, she chose to dress rather plainly, in a simple lavender cotton dress that fell about mid-calf with her hair pulled up into a severe bun with a single rose tucked behind her ear as a nod to Excalbian custom.

Nearby, her cousin, Don Ernesto Cristian Ferdinand Leopold de Habsburg y Cabral, surveyed the gardens with a smile on his face and a mug of the Summer Palace’s famous “homebrewed” beer in his hand. His half-siblings, Don Constantine de Habsburg y Mukhrani and Don Pablo of Habsburg y Mukhrani were exploring the gardens while their sister Doña Elena of Habsburg y Mukhrani stood with Don Ernesto enjoying a glass of wine. Another cousin, Don Alberto Antonio Puche de Habsburg, stood a short distance from the Excalbian Crown Princess shyly looking at her and the other young noble ladies.

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Synessia
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Founded: Jan 01, 2022
Ex-Nation

Postby Synessia » Wed Jun 15, 2022 10:50 am

Prince Philippe of Synessia looked slightly annoyed by having to eschew the always familiar suit for Midsummer’s relaxed, loose attire. His slightly growing belly showed, and this made him feel self-conscious, especially when compared to all the very fit and muscular Excalbian men going around. At thirty-five, he was still unmarried, and he suspected that the decision to send him to Excalbia had more to do with his mother’s wish to find a wife for him than with diplomacy. La Princesse Souveraine did not hide the fact that she wanted to see her youngest son settle down, and worried that he was adopting the habits of an old bachelor. As he remembered their last conversation, Philippe sighed. As if needed another reminder of how different he was to the rest of his family. He did not have the dashing dark, Mediterranean looks of his older brothers. His skin was lighter, his hair dark blond and his eyes dark blue, but few people noticed, for he used glasses. Also unlike his brothers, who were very athletic and sports-oriented, Philippe enjoyed pursuits of a more intellectual nature. He was finishing a doctorate at the National University of Synessia, and although he enjoyed the quiet hours spent in the library doing research, or the stimulating conversations with the faculty's professors, he felt that he could do more. As he watched the people coming and going, the prince thought that maybe diplomacy would not be a bad career choice...

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Itayta
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Founded: Apr 29, 2022
Ex-Nation

Postby Itayta » Wed Jun 15, 2022 10:57 am

Mamma mia, what a place!”, said Prince Francesco of Itaytá, marvelled at the sight of the Summer Palace and its surrounding gardens.

He and his two older siblings, Giovanni (27) and Violante (24), stuck together as they made their way into the party. While Giovanni, the tallest of the three, wore a grey suit made for him by Itaytá’s finest tailor, Francesco (22) opted for oversized khakhi pants and an open-collared white shirt, a look he usually wore for trendy techno parties in Nuovo Castiglione, the country's capital. Violante, less disruptive than her brothers, had chosen a long, light blue dress and a crown of yellow daisies over her head, the combination of colors being a tribute to Excalbia. Each of them looked spectacular in their own way, but it could not be otherwise. Itaytá’s fashion industry was one of the largest in the Western Atlantic, and the country expected its royals to look the part.

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Saxmere
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Founded: Jan 25, 2005
Democratic Socialists

Postby Saxmere » Thu Jun 23, 2022 7:24 am

Joint post with Providencia.

Countess Amanda Kennan Conail stood alone at the edge of the gardens watching the other arrivals. Her cousin, the Grand Duke of Saxmere, had sent her to represent him at Midsummer. She had grown used to representing her cousin over the last few years, but it still felt a little … unnatural to someone who grew up as just another citizen in a republic.

The young would-be investment banker, however, had discovered that she had a knack for engaging with people and that she actually did a good job representing her cousin.

As she surveyed the crowd, Amanda spotted the eldest of the Providencian infantas standing by herself. She approached the woman and curtsied. “Your Highness,” she said, “welcome to the Excalbian Isles. I hope you won’t mind if I introduce myself: I’m Amanda Kennan Conail - cousin of Grand Duke James of Saxmere and Countess of Arainn.”

Infanta Sofia Cristina bowed her head slightly. “Good afternoon, my lady.”

“Are you enjoying your visit?” Amanda asked.

“I… it is interesting,” Sofia said.

Amanda laughed lightly. “Midsummer is somewhat… unique,” she said. “But it’s a wonderful opportunity to meet people.”

“Meet people,” Sofia repeated. “I suppose that is why my parents… urged me to come.”

The Saxmerean nodded, as she smoothed her lace-trimmed rose colored dress. “Well, you can assure them you have met someone.”

Sofia smiled. “I suppose so.” She paused. “So, what do you do when you are not attending Excalbian parties?”

“Well,” Amanda began, “I studied banking and finance. I even have a master’s degree in economics. I expected to go into business and eventually take over the family business. But somehow I’ve become my cousin’s unofficial ambassador-at-large. So, I do attend a lot of parties.” She paused. “And what interests you? I’ve met your brother and sisters at various events, but I’ve not seen you at any of them.”

Sofia blushed slightly. “I am not the social butterfly, unlike my sisters. Truthfully, I would have loved studying for a master’s degree.”

“Oh, in what?”

“Anything,” Sofia laughed. “I’ve read a lot about theology, sociology, economics, political science, archeology…”

“A renaissance woman!”

Sofia smiled.

After chatting for a while, Amanda noticed Prince Philippe of Synessia standing by himself. “Ah,” she said, “I believe that’s the Prince of Synessia.”

Sofia shrugged.

“I hear he’s working on his PhD. Let’s invite him to join us.” Amanda started walking towards him and Sofia followed.

“Your Highness,” Amanda said with a curtsy. “I am Amanda, Countess of Arainn, and this is Her Royal Highness Infanta Sofia Cristina of Providencia. Welcome to the Isles!”

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Brasland
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Brasland » Thu Jun 23, 2022 1:33 pm

Philippe, who until then had been quietly watching as the bonfires were being prepared, was surprised by the greeting. He turned to Amanda somewhat confused, but then quickly regained his composure and smiled shyly.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you both”, he said, gently. “And please call me Philippe, I do not find it necessary to use titles when one is among relatives.”

He recognized the Infanta’s face. “I believe we met at your sister’s wedding to Cousin Leopold? I may have asked you to dance but you politely refused, if I remember well.”

Then he spoke to the Countess, amused by the memory. “It was a blessing, really. I’m disastrous dancing partner.”

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Providencia y San Andres
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Founded: Jun 10, 2018
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Providencia y San Andres » Thu Jun 23, 2022 2:43 pm

OOC:joint post with Saxmere.

“As am I,” Sofia said softly, “despite my parents’ best efforts. Or rather those of the instructors they hired.” She paused. “And I do recall you from the wedding. I was hoping you would be interested in conversation,” she added.

“Well,” Amanda said, “Philippe, I think we will all have ample opportunity to dance later.” She smiled. “And as I recall from past Midsummers, by the time the dancing starts no one is paying much attention to the quality of the dancing.” She looked at Philippe, then at Sofia. “So, is this your first Excalbian Midsummer?”

“It is my first,” Sofia said, softening a bit, “but I have… heard fascinating stories.” She looked at Philippe. “And what about you…, Philippe

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Synessia
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Founded: Jan 01, 2022
Ex-Nation

Postby Synessia » Thu Jun 23, 2022 2:54 pm

Philippe smiled at Sofía. “It’s the first that I have a memory of, but I did come many years ago with my family. My grandmother was Cyretian, but her family is of Excalbian descent. She used to bring us here once in a while to remind us of our northern roots.”

As he sipped from his wine, he briefly glanced again at the bonfires. “So, Sofía, what do you do in Providencia? In our side of the world we don’t hear much of our distant Habsburg cousins.”
Last edited by Synessia on Fri Jun 24, 2022 12:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Qubti
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Founded: Oct 02, 2020
Iron Fist Consumerists

Postby Qubti » Thu Jun 23, 2022 4:12 pm

Khan Baahir Ahmed Jawhar Jawharin, grandson of the rightful Sultan of Qubti, entered the gardens with his cousin, Hanim Tahira Jawharin, who was also the Sultan’s grandchild. Being part of a royal house in exile neither had ever visited Qubti and both, in fact, carried Cyretopolitanian passports issued to them as a courtesy by their House’s ancient enemy and current royal patron, the King of Cyretopolitania.

If being itinerant royals bothered the House of Jawaharin, they were careful not to let it show. Baahir, a university student in the Caldan Union, wore a casual but expensive and well-tailored outfit that clearly marked him as part of the international jet-set. Beside him, Tahira, a high school student in Cyretopolitania, was dressed equally well, and seemed as poised and confident as her older cousin.

“Wow,” Tahira said as she discretely surveyed the scene.

Baahir shrugged. “It reminds me of Uncle Albert and Aunt Aya’s celebration.”

Tahira turned to her cousin and tilted her head to one side. “Really? Their estate is nice, but,” she gestured around them, “this is a whole island!”

“I guess,” Baahir said.

“Look over there,” Tahira said, “that’s Elizabeth - the Crown Princess!”

“You should introduce yourself. You’re the same age…”

“I’ll wait until Cousin Thomas gets here. He’s also her cousin…”

“Very distant,” Baahir said.

“But he is from the House of Alsgood…”

“And the House of Jawharin…”

“In any case,” Tahira said, “he knows her and can introduce us.”

“Ok,” Baahir said, as he turned and began looking to see who else might he might want to meet.

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Providencia y San Andres
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Founded: Jun 10, 2018
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Providencia y San Andres » Thu Jun 23, 2022 4:25 pm

Synessia wrote:Philippe smiled at Sofía. “It’s the first that I have a memory of, but I did come many years ago with my family. My grandmother was Cyretian, but her family is of Excalbian descent. She used to bring us here once in a while to remind us of our northern roots.”

As he sipped from his wine, he briefly glanced again at the bonfires. “So, Sofía, what do you do in Providencia? In our side of the world we don’t much of our distant Habsburg cousins.”


“I…,” Sofia paused. She always struggled to explain exactly what she did with her time. “I read. A lot. I study. I wanted to pursue an advanced degree, but…,” she shrugged, “my parents did not think it was suitable for an Infanta of the Royal House.” She bit her lip. “I also support several charities related to the Church.”

She took a glass of wine from a passing servant. “And what do you do in Synessia?”

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Synessia
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Founded: Jan 01, 2022
Ex-Nation

Postby Synessia » Fri Jun 24, 2022 12:19 am

Providencia y San Andres wrote:“I…,” Sofia paused. She always struggled to explain exactly what she did with her time. “I read. A lot. I study. I wanted to pursue an advanced degree, but…,” she shrugged, “my parents did not think it was suitable for an Infanta of the Royal House.” She bit her lip. “I also support several charities related to the Church.”


“I can relate to that”, said Philippe, slightly leaning his head. “My parents have never understood my wish to study. A bachelor’s was alright, but a master’s and a doctorate? I think they still wonder whether I’m sane or not.”

As she mentioned her support of Catholic causes, the prince was a bit intrigued. “Are you religious or do you just support them out of duty?”

Providencia y San Andres wrote:She took a glass of wine from a passing servant. “And what do you do in Synessia?”


He smiled as he said this. “I’m finishing my doctorate in ancient Synessian history, but I’m not sure what I’ll do next. Academia can be interesting, but it’s also a very passive occupation. I guess, after all, representative duties at least give you the chance to interact with different people and give visibility to certain causes.”

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Lulwat
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Founded: Dec 29, 2021
Ex-Nation

Postby Lulwat » Fri Jun 24, 2022 12:52 am

As one of the waiters offered a drink, Sheikh Munib bin Jassim Al Marwan politely asked for a glass of water. He was eighteen, and one of the many sons of the Emir of Lulwat. This was his first official trip abroad, so he was slightly nervous. He was told, however, that his cousin Baahir would be there. Despite their parents not being close – Munib’s father and Baahir’s mother came from different wives of the late Emir Muhsin – the two had met on some events within the international crowd that they frequented. The young sheikh was on his last year at a Braslander boarding school, and quite eager to see more of the world. As he walked across the gardens, he looked around to find his cousin.

“Baahir!”, he said, moving towards him. “It’s good to see you again. Did you get my WhatsApp? You never reply!”

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Qubti
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Founded: Oct 02, 2020
Iron Fist Consumerists

Postby Qubti » Fri Jun 24, 2022 6:18 am

Lulwat wrote:As one of the waiters offered a drink, Sheikh Munib bin Jassim Al Marwan politely asked for a glass of water. He was eighteen, and one of the many sons of the Emir of Lulwat. This was his first official trip abroad, so he was slightly nervous. He was told, however, that his cousin Baahir would be there. Despite their parents not being close – Munib’s father and Baahir’s mother came from different wives of the late Emir Muhsin – the two had met on some events within the international crowd that they frequented. The young sheikh was on his last year at a Braslander boarding school, and quite eager to see more of the world. As he walked across the gardens, he looked around to find his cousin.

“Baahir!”, he said, moving towards him. “It’s good to see you again. Did you get my WhatsApp? You never reply!”


“Munib!” Baahir said, offering his cousin his hand. “It is good to see you again.” He shook his head. “I am sorry; I did not see your message. I am not on WhatsApp so much since I got my new Peacock phone.” He turned and gestured towards Tahira. “You remember our cousin, Tahira.”

Tahira smiled and bowed her head slightly, remembering not to offer her more observant cousin her hand.

“And our cousin Thomas will be here soon.” Baahir grinned. “Tahira is waiting for him to introduce her to Crown Princess Elizabeth.” Baahir turned fully back to Munib. “How have you been? How is school in Brasland going?”

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Lulwat
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Founded: Dec 29, 2021
Ex-Nation

Postby Lulwat » Tue Jun 28, 2022 9:48 am

Qubti wrote:
Lulwat wrote:As one of the waiters offered a drink, Sheikh Munib bin Jassim Al Marwan politely asked for a glass of water. He was eighteen, and one of the many sons of the Emir of Lulwat. This was his first official trip abroad, so he was slightly nervous. He was told, however, that his cousin Baahir would be there. Despite their parents not being close – Munib’s father and Baahir’s mother came from different wives of the late Emir Muhsin – the two had met on some events within the international crowd that they frequented. The young sheikh was on his last year at a Braslander boarding school, and quite eager to see more of the world. As he walked across the gardens, he looked around to find his cousin.

“Baahir!”, he said, moving towards him. “It’s good to see you again. Did you get my WhatsApp? You never reply!”


“Munib!” Baahir said, offering his cousin his hand. “It is good to see you again.” He shook his head. “I am sorry; I did not see your message. I am not on WhatsApp so much since I got my new Peacock phone.” He turned and gestured towards Tahira. “You remember our cousin, Tahira.”

Tahira smiled and bowed her head slightly, remembering not to offer her more observant cousin her hand.

“And our cousin Thomas will be here soon.” Baahir grinned. “Tahira is waiting for him to introduce her to Crown Princess Elizabeth.” Baahir turned fully back to Munib. “How have you been? How is school in Brasland going?”


Munib returned Tahira’s greeting with a discreet, but gentle smile. Then he turned to Baahir.

“School is fine”, he said. “I’m only wishing it’s over and I can return home for the holidays. I miss the desert and the sea.”

He did not mention the death of his older half-brother, Sheikh Marwan, who had died of a heart attack after several days of hard-partying in Hartstad. News outlets all across the region had been busy reporting the most lurid details surrounding his passing, and the family was deeply embarrassed over this. Marwan’s mother had given birth to seven children, four of them boys with a wild reputation. Mutalah was boiling with rumours that Emir Jassim was getting increasingly frustrated with those sons, and that he was turning is attention to his children by his second wife, Malika, of which Munib was the oldest. The young sheikh knew that his father had absolute freedom to choose an heir, but the prospect of ruling Lulwat gave him goosebumps.

"What about you? How's university?", he asked his cousin.

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Qubti
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Founded: Oct 02, 2020
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Postby Qubti » Tue Jun 28, 2022 4:24 pm

“Good,” Baahir said, with a smile. “I rather enjoy the Caldan Union. It might be impolitic to say so, but I prefer the climate to that of Kemetia. Cool. Lush. Green. It makes it rather hard to miss the desert.”

“Excuse me, cousin,” Tahira said to Baahir, then, bowing to Munib she added, “Your Excellency, but I think I see cousin Thomas; I should go greet him.”

Baahir nodded. “Tell him that I’ll greet him later.”

Tahira smiled and walked away.

Turning back to Munib, Baahir said, “I also rather fancy Caldan girls.” He smiled. “And, of course, Bartlet University is quite a good school.”

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Tehua
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Founded: Apr 28, 2017
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Tehua » Tue Jun 28, 2022 4:39 pm

Felipe, Archduke of Tehua, entered with his wife, Leonor, and his son, Juan. Felipe was a heavyset man with a thick neck, a perpetually disgruntled expression, and graying, receding hair. Leonor was a pleasantly plump woman with curly gray hair and Juan a young man with golden brown hair and something of a dashing manner. All three made their courtesies as they approached the imperial family. “Thank you for hosting us, Your Imperial Majesties. My niece sends her regards.”

The Emperor nodded his head. “You are most welcome, Your Highnesses. We hope you will have a good time.” He paused and smiled. “And please convey my regards to Her Imperial Majesty.”

“I will be sure to do so,” Felipe said.

“Thank you,” Joseph said. He gestured to the expansive gardens. “I hope you will all enjoy yourselves.”

“Thank you,” Felipe responded. He and family made their courtesies again and left to explore the grounds.

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Brasland
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Founded: May 16, 2006
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Brasland » Wed Jun 29, 2022 11:52 am

Residence of the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Brasland
Citadel Excalbia


The King of Brasland looked at himself in the mirror.

“I look like a hippie”, he muttered, grumpily.

He was wearing an open-collared white shirt, green trousers, brown boots and a wreath of oak leaves over his head. For someone used to uniforms and suits, this felt almost like being naked.

“I’m ready”, he said, loudly.

His valet opened the door from outside, bowed and helped to finish the last details. The clothes could not show a brand logo, the label had to be well-hidden, the wreath had to be firmly attached to his hair, among other ridiculous requirements that for any other mortal would be considered laughable, but not for someone who was the living symbol of his country wherever he went.

“Done?”, asked Georg, impatiently looking at the ceiling.

“Yes, Your Majesty”, answered the valet, retreating a few steps.

“Ena!”, the King roared.

“I’m outside, Your Majesty”, said Ena de Mahlberg, his long-standing Private Secretary.

“Are you sure this is the dress code?”, he asked.

She walked in, repressing a smile. He was always so instinctively formal, in form and substance. Now, he looked different, almost like a normal human being. Almost, because there was always an intimidating, yet chivalrous quality in him. Ena could not stop thinking how handsome he was, even in this attire.

“It’s Midsummer’s, Sire”, she replied. “Even the Emperor dresses like this. Didn’t you see the pictures from previous years? I send you a few.”

“I don’t have time for checking pictures, Ena”, he protested, irritated.

She knew he had a fight with Cassia Taylor the night before. Lately, those fights had been increasing, and so had his moodiness. Ena, a spinster with no personal life but with an innate ability of handling a powerful man like him, opted for the soft compliment strategy.

“Well, Sire, if I may say, you look quite handsome”, she said, feigning embarrassment.

He gave him a brief glance which made her think of failure, but then he spoke, and his voice sounded less irritable.

“If you say so”, he replied. “When are we leaving?”

“Five minutes.”

“Good, I don’t want to miss the bonfires.”

Ena stopped.

“His Majesty is surely not thinking of jumping…”

He smiled, mischievously.

“We’ll see.”

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Excalbia
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Liberal Democratic Socialists

Postby Excalbia » Wed Jun 29, 2022 2:13 pm

OOC: joint post with Qubti.

“Thomas,” Tahira said as she approached her cousin.

Lord Thomas Joseph Alsgood Danielson, grandson of the Baron of Dienvidumezs and descendant of both Sultan Jawhar VI of Qubti and Emperor Daniel II of Excalbia, smiled and made an exaggerated bow. “Hanim Tahira,” he said, “your presence honors us, You Highness.”

“Oh do shut up, Thomas,” Tahira said, suppressing a laugh.

The 16-year old boy laughed. “It is to see you Tahira.” He paused. “It’s nice to have some people our age around for a change.”

The Qubtian royal-in-exile smiled and nodded. “How have you been?”

“Ok,” Thomas replied. “I was really looking forward to this summer, but…”

“But what?”

Thomas shrugged. “I hurt my throwing shoulder. Nothing serious. But I’m done with baseball for the year.” He gave an exaggerated frown. “Nothing left to do now but start looking at universities, like my parents have been pushing me to do.”

“I am looking forward to seeing some universities while I’m in Excalbia,” Tahira said. “I’m hoping to go somewhere here or in the Caldan Union; Cyretopolitania is… too stuffy.”

Thomas nodded. “Where’s Baahir, I was certain he’d be keeping an eye on you.”

“I don’t need anyone to keep an eye on me,” Tahira said. “I’m not a
Lulwati after all.” She turned and nodded her head towards another part of the gardens. “Speaking of which, Baahir is over there talking with our cousin Munib, one of the sons of the Emir of Lulwat.” She frowned. “He was so obviously uncomfortable talking with me, even though we are related, that I came looking for you.”

Thomas shrugged. “From what Grandmother Aya says it would be the same for the Jawharins if the Sultanate hadn’t fallen…”

“So,” Tahira chuckled, “it was a good thing it did!”

Thomas laughed.

“Have you seen the Crown Princess?”

“Elizabeth?”

“Yes!”

“Yeah, she’s over there,” Thomas nodded to his right.

“Can you introduce me?” Tahira asked, bouncing on the balls of her feet.

“Sure.”

Thomas led the beaming Tahira towards the Crown Princess, who was standing with a small group of girls.

When they approached her, Thomas bowed. “Your Imperial Highness,” he said, then, after the Crown Princess gave him a look, he added, “Elizabeth, this is my cousin, Hanim Tahira Jawharin, granddaughter of the Rightful Sultan of Qubti.”

Tahira curtsied and smiled. “Your Imperial Highness,” she said, “I am so pleased to meet you!”

“Your Sublime Highness,” Elizabeth said, bowing her head slightly, “it’s nice to meet you.” She smiled. “And please call me Elizabeth or else we’ll be throwing titles around all night.”

“Thank you, Elizabeth,” Tahira said, “and please call me Tahira.”

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Lulwat
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Founded: Dec 29, 2021
Ex-Nation

Postby Lulwat » Wed Jun 29, 2022 3:04 pm

Qubti wrote:“Good,” Baahir said, with a smile. “I rather enjoy the Caldan Union. It might be impolitic to say so, but I prefer the climate to that of Kemetia. Cool. Lush. Green. It makes it rather hard to miss the desert.”

“Excuse me, cousin,” Tahira said to Baahir, then, bowing to Munib she added, “Your Excellency, but I think I see cousin Thomas; I should go greet him.”

Baahir nodded. “Tell him that I’ll greet him later.”

Tahira smiled and walked away.

Turning back to Munib, Baahir said, “I also rather fancy Caldan girls.” He smiled. “And, of course, Bartlet University is quite a good school.”


"Caldan girls", sighed Munib. "It must be nice to have your freedom. Father insisted I go to an all-boys school. If I want to party with my friends, I must be escorted by one of the embassy's attachés, and he'll report back to Mutalah whether I drank any alcohol or danced with a girl. No wonder my older brothers are all so unhappy in Lulwat."

He stopped himself before he could say something compromising about Marwan's death. He turned around to check if the Lulwati officials were nearby. Yes, there were two talking to each other at a safe distance, but every once in a while they looked in his direction. Munib felt his anger rising and a strong desire to escape from the island, but where? and how? He had arrived by an embassy car, and he had no money or credit card of his own. He felt overhwelmed by despair.

"Sometimes, Baahir", he muttered. "Sometimes I don't see the point of life. I will either submit myself to Father's plans for me or just spend my trust fund away and die a quick, stupid death after a drug-fueled orgy in Hartstad. I don't see which option is worst, so why not the second? But no, I don't feel inclined towards that. If only I was a normal guy and not the son of the Emir. He's a f****** tyrant, Baahir, he does not allow us to do anything. You're so lucky that Qubti is not a monarchy anymore. My life is just sh**, Baahir. SH**!"

He threw the glass of water away and left his cousin, getting lost in the island's forests. As he disappeared, the two Lulwatis looked at each other, concerned, and went into the forest to find Munib.

User avatar
Qubti
Civil Servant
 
Posts: 10
Founded: Oct 02, 2020
Iron Fist Consumerists

Postby Qubti » Thu Jun 30, 2022 7:52 am

Baahir was momentarily stunned by Munib’s outburst, but he quickly regained his composure, set down his drink and followed after the teen.

Having a head start on the bodyguards, Baahir followed the path Munib had taken into the woods. “Munib,” he called out, “cousin!”

He felt a pang of guilt for… being so insensitive… exulting in his freedom without thinking about his cousin’s far more circumscribed life.

“Munib, let’s discuss this. I didn’t know things were so… difficult for you. Maybe I can help you.”

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Lulwat
Political Columnist
 
Posts: 4
Founded: Dec 29, 2021
Ex-Nation

Postby Lulwat » Mon Jul 04, 2022 2:05 am

Qubti wrote:Baahir was momentarily stunned by Munib’s outburst, but he quickly regained his composure, set down his drink and followed after the teen.

Having a head start on the bodyguards, Baahir followed the path Munib had taken into the woods. “Munib,” he called out, “cousin!”

He felt a pang of guilt for… being so insensitive… exulting in his freedom without thinking about his cousin’s far more circumscribed life.

“Munib, let’s discuss this. I didn’t know things were so… difficult for you. Maybe I can help you.”


Munib stopped running as he heard his cousin's words. He turned back but, as he saw Baahir, he also noticed the two Lulwatis far behind, running towards him. There was no escape.

"Leave it, Baahir", he said, hopeless. "Go back to your friends. I think I'll head back to my hotel."

He walked past his cousin and opened his arms to his father's men, like a prisoner handing himself to the police. Baahir would not see his cousin again in a long, long time.

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Synessia
Political Columnist
 
Posts: 4
Founded: Jan 01, 2022
Ex-Nation

Postby Synessia » Mon Jul 04, 2022 12:28 pm

Joint post with Providencia y San Andres

Providencia y San Andres wrote:“I…,” Sofia paused. She always struggled to explain exactly what she did with her time. “I read. A lot. I study. I wanted to pursue an advanced degree, but…,” she shrugged, “my parents did not think it was suitable for an Infanta of the Royal House.” She bit her lip. “I also support several charities related to the Church.”


“I can relate to that”, said Philippe, slightly leaning his head. “My parents have never understood my wish to study. A bachelor’s was alright, but a master’s and a doctorate? I think they still wonder whether I’m sane or not.”

As she mentioned her support of Catholic causes, the prince was a bit intrigued. “Are you religious or do you just support them out of duty?”

“I suppose most would say I am devout,” Sofia said. “I attend mass every day, I pray the rosary and read the Scriptures. But I just think of myself as Catholic. What about you?”

Philippe paused for a while, trying to order his thoughts on the subject. “I am torn between skepticism and openness about the possibility of God’s existence”, he said. “I don’t practice any religion, although I was baptized a Christian. That said, I do admire Christ, and I think he is the most perfect testimony of living a true, ethical life.”

“I would agree that Christ offers us a model life to emulate,” Sofia began, “but I would disagree that that is all he is. Or all he understood himself to be.” She paused as she caught a frown from her new Saxmerean friend. “Perhaps at a less festive occasion we can discuss it in detail; it is one of my favorite subjects and I admit that I am able to drone on and on about it.”

* * *


Providencia y San Andres wrote:She took a glass of wine from a passing servant. “And what do you do in Synessia?”


He smiled as he said this. “I’m finishing my doctorate in ancient Synessian history, but I’m not sure what I’ll do next. Academia can be interesting, but it’s also a very passive occupation. I guess, after all, representative duties at least give you the chance to interact with different people and give visibility to certain causes.”

“That sounds interesting. You could teach,” Sofia said. “I think that is one of the noblest callings. If… circumstances had been different I think I would have enjoyed being an academic.” She tilted her head. “But I would love to hear more about your studies and ancient Synessian history.”

“I’m afraid teaching is not an option for me”, said the prince. “There are so many things that are considered controversial in academic circles these days, and I have clear opinions on many of them. As a member of the princely house, I cannot express those opinions without causing problems for the monarchy.”

“I understand,” Sofia said with a forlorn sigh. “That is very true for us as well. All the more so since my father has little actual authority and must rather serve as a figurehead for the whole nation and all points of view.” She gave a laugh that was surprisingly light and melodious - almost musical in its quality. “And it is a struggle for me because I am a woman of strong opinions.”

She sipped her drink. “So, tell me some of your strong opinions and I will venture to share some of mine.”

“Your Highness, don’t tempt me”, he said, light-heartedly teasing her, but then got more serious. “Well, leaving all the dense, social issues that seem to be obsessing public debate these days, I am strongly opposed to communism. I don’t oppose teaching about it, but considering the millions of lives it has destroyed only in the twentieth century, I’m very inclined to forbid it as a political organization. However, I do understand that it would be useless. They are experts in twisting the meaning of concepts, and they would quickly regroup under a different name. So what is the next best thing? To teach its consequences in school, without euphemisms or a mistaken sense of protecting young minds from anything that is dark and dangerous. A kid that understands evil from an early age will be more critical as an adult, better able to identify the lies disguised as truths.”

He looked away as he finished talking, a bit embarrassed of his diatribe, but not less convinced of it.

Sofia smiled. “You sound almost Knootian,” she teased. “But I understand, and do agree with your point. But allow me to suggest that unbridled capitalism is no less injurious to the common good. Take Providencia for example. A visitor to my country might well believe we are as prosperous and advanced as… well, Excalbia. And to some extent we are. We have gleaming glass towers, luxurious resorts, modern conveniences, and the wealthy and the professional classes live as well as any here or anywhere in the region. But the average worker, the farm laborer, the indigenous people… they live in poverty with little hope for their children’s advancement. All because the well-being and prosperity of the banks and corporations is valued more than the well-being of ordinary people.”

She shrugged. “Perhaps countries like Excalbia and the Caldan Union have found a better middle path.”

“I fully agree with you”, said Philippe. “But the average worker is not better off under a communist regime. Quite the contrary, think of Stalin’s starvation of 4 million Ukrainian farmers, or the millions who died in the famines caused by Mao’s erratic policies.”

He paused for an instant, looking at the sky. “Anyway, I think the problem in many of our countries is the lack of social friction among people of different classes. In Synessia we don’t have that problem. We are a small country, there are strong family and social networks among people of different classes and religious beliefs. We still don’t have the immigration problems that other countries in the region are facing. Immigrants don’t have networks, at least not right away. They are disadvantaged from the beginning, and can grow disenfranchised if governments don’t enforce policies to integrate them. But I’m speaking too much. You seem to have a critical view of your own country, which is refreshing. How can someone in a position like ours can help if it’s not through charity work? We are so restricted in our field of action.”

He sighed and sipped from his wine. “I suspect your take is more optimistic than mine. I’m curious to hear it.”

“I am not particularly optimistic,” Sofia said. “There is little I can do directly to affect the policies of my country. Even my father, the King, can do little directly.” She frowned and looked down. With a sigh she looked up. “I do support many charities and lend my name, for what it is worth, to organizations, conferences and the such, which are trying to address our problems. To the extent I have hope, I suppose it rests with Cardinal Elizondo.”

The prince smiled. “Sounds like you do quite a lot, Sofía. But enough about duty, what do you do for fun?”

Sofia laughed - a pleasant musical sound. “The same things. I read. I pray. I host salons with intellectuals, artists, clerics… those working for change.” She paused. “What about you?”

“Well, I think I’ve met my match”, he replied, laughing too. “I do the same. I read, I organize dinners with intellectuals and artists, I watch old movies. I used to swim a lot, but I’ve lost the habit. Sometimes I go to the desert when I want to get away from civilization. It helps to clear my mind and recharge my energy levels.”

“It is difficult to find places… away from civilization in Providencia; we are only two small islands.” Sofia tilted her head to one side. “Tell me more about the desert; I am curious.”

“Well, the Synessian desert is not like the endless dunes of Lulwat”, said Philippe. “It’s more of a desertic land with trees and bushes here and there, mountain chains and ancient settlements dating from Phoenician times or who knows, maybe even earlier. I inherited a small estate from my godfather, the last Duke of Pafos. It really consists of an old house, some olive plantations, and goats, lots of goats, which my administrator takes care of. I keep the house open all-year round, and whenever I’m blocked in my research I go there to relax, supervise the olive oil production and forget about the stress of city life. I moved all my books there, including the special editions my grandfather left to me, so I have a considerable library. Basically, it’s just a nice place to retire when one needs to. I think you’d like it. Life there is very ascetic, for there is not much, and it reminds me of Christ and His forty days of fasting in the desert.”

As he spoke, he realized how much at ease he was in her company. It was uncommon for him to feel like that. Most girls he had met were… well… There was nothing wrong with them, but he could not find common interests or there was not enough chemistry. He said nothing of this to Sofía, and instead waited for her reply.

“It sounds very peaceful,” Sofia said with a smile. “A lovely place for study and contemplation. I would love to see it, and your library.”

“I would love to show it to you”, he said. “Maybe we can arrange a visit in the future.”

“I would like that,” Sofia said with a shy smile.
Last edited by Synessia on Mon Jul 04, 2022 12:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
Ernestria
Lobbyist
 
Posts: 21
Founded: Oct 19, 2019
Moralistic Democracy

Postby Ernestria » Tue Jul 05, 2022 11:38 am

Joint post with Excalbia and Pantocratoria

Prince Johann looked about the gathering with an embarrassed expression. Being 14, everything embarrassed him. “Why are people wearing twigs on their heads?” he asked, pushing his glasses up his nose.

His sister, Princess Bernice, turned to him. “They’re not twigs,” she snapped, “They’re oak leaves.” She motioned towards his hands. “You should be wearing yours.”

Johann shook his head. “What if a bird was sick on it or something?” he said insistently.

Bernice looked exasperated. “Honestly Jan, don’t be a baby.” Princess Bernice never met her grandfather, King Ernest VI Keraunos (which meant ‘thunderbolt’), but if he had done it seems certain that Bernice would have been his favorite. She, like him, was impatient with a fiery temper and a stubborn streak. Ernestine princesses were supposed to behave meekly and marry well, they were not supposed to join the Air Force and they certainly weren’t supposed to volunteer for flight school in Excalbia. She adjusted the flowers in her hair as though she was a local. “Have you spoken to the Emperor yet?” she asked.

Johann’s eyes widened behind his thick glasses. “No,” he said quickly, “And he looks busy, we should…”

“Nonsense,” said Bernice, grabbing his hand and half-dragging him across the Great Hall, “Maybe if you met more people you wouldn’t be so shy.”

Emperor Joseph saw a boy with thick glasses being pushed towards him by a young lady. He turned his head slightly towards Baroness Amanda Dzene, the Lord Sheriff of the Citadel, who was standing beside him. “Who is that boy?” He whispered.

Baroness Amanda stole a quick glance, then turned back to the Emperor. “The Ernestine Crown Prince, I believe, Sir.”

Joseph gave a slight sigh, then turned to greet the approaching Ernestines.

“I know it’s an ordeal but try not to let it show.” Anna half-joked to her husband just above a whisper as she leaned into his arm.

Bernice stopped and curtsied, her laurel of twigs shaking slightly as she did. She resisted the urge to address the Emperor informally though being at an Excalbian Air Academy she practically considered herself family. Whether the feeling was mutual was a different question. “Your Imperial Majesty,” she said, straightening to her full height, “My brother, the Prince Royal, and I were just admiring the Midsummer festivities. Weren’t we, Your Royal Highness?”

Johann, who was not used to his sister being nice to him, instinctively thought she was speaking to someone else. “Oh,” he said when he realised she wasn’t, “Yeah.” He paused while he thought of something to say. “It’s nice. Very…er…not-weird.”

The Emperor raised an eyebrow. “Thank you,” he said slowly. “I’m glad you’re enjoying Midsummer. I assure you that the festivities will become even more… interesting as the evening proceeds.”

Joseph turned his attention to Bernice. “You’re studying at the Imperial Air Force Academy at Richland, aren’t you? How are your studies going?”

Bernice beamed. “I am Your Majesty,” she said excitedly, “And I must say it is very exciting and I’m learning a great deal. Ernestrian air doctrine can learn alot from the Imperial Air Force; we’re blessed and cursed by being surrounded by friends so our airborne warning and control systems leave a lot to be desired. But I am enjoying it a lot. Excalbia is,” she thought of the English word for a moment, “More open than Ernestria.”

Johann pulled a face next to her. “I don’t know why you bother,” he said, “They will all be replaced by drones soon anyway.”

Bernice shot a look at her brother. She turned back to Joseph. “My apologies, my brother has not much experience of life beyond the palace, or tact, which is why we are grateful for the invitation.”

Joseph gave a wry smile. “Drones will certainly be a bigger part of all our arsenals,” he said to Johann, “but I hope the human element is never eliminated; I’d hate to see us at the mercy of machines.” He looked towards Bernice. “I’m glad you’re enjoying your time at the Academy. Have you had much of an opportunity to see the country? I’m sure that the IHA could arrange for you to stay at some of our properties if there’s any place in particular you’d like to visit.”

Bernice’s brow furrowed in thought. “I’ve not seen as much as I would like to. I’m not sure what to see. My sister Laodice went with my cousin Ewelina, The Gulf Princess, to Landing a few years ago and she seemed to like it, what bits she could remember. Where would you recommend?”

“If you haven’t visited Landing,” Joseph said, “you should; it’s quite different from the Citadel.” He paused. “There are nice beaches around Southport and in Langeais, but you would only want to go in high summer. The Borodea Mountains are lovely, and the skiing is terrific.” He looked to Anna to see if she had any other thoughts.

“Do you ski?” Anna asked, first looking at Bernice then at Johann.

Bernice nodded. Johann recoiled in horror at the thought of it. “Yes/No,” they replied simultaneously. “The Borodea Mountains,” said Bernice after a moment, “If I am still in Excalbia in winter I will be sure to use some of my leave to visit.” In a gap between the two Imperial Majesties Bernice saw her cousin, Prince Nicholas and his wife Princess Jennifer arrive. “Oh look,” said Bernice, turning to her younger brother, “The babysitters, I mean our cousins have arrived.” She curtsied again to Anna and Joseph. “We would like to thank you for the kindly invitation to today’s festivities. If you would pray excuse us.”

“Of course,” Joseph said.

“I’d never ski,” he said, not realizing what his sister had said. “What if you hit a tree or skied off a cliff? I…euk!” he replied before Bernice unceremoniously hooked him by the arm and dragged him away mid-sentence.

Once the Ernestines were out of earshot, Joseph turned to Anna. “That was… interesting,” he said. “Though Bernice seemed surprisingly pleasant.”

“I thought they were both rude.” Anna declared. “But I was the one who counseled you not to let the strain show so I shall keep my offended manners to myself.”

“Well, I was grading on a curve, I suppose,” Joseph said as he smiled and sought Anna’s hand.

User avatar
Cyretopolitania
Spokesperson
 
Posts: 157
Founded: Apr 27, 2011
Moralistic Democracy

Postby Cyretopolitania » Wed Jul 06, 2022 12:44 pm

OOC: joint post by Cyretopolitania, Brasland and Pantocratoria

Crown Prince John, dressed in his own loose-fitting embroidered shirt, black trousers and boots, approached his distant cousin, the Emperor, hand in hand with his wife, Crown Princess Irene.

“Joseph,” he said with a slight bow.

“John,” the Emperor replied, “it’s good to see you. And you, too, Irene.”

John turned slightly. “You may remember my cousins, Contessa Hannah of Gafsa and Contessa Virina of Abbat.”

“Your Imperial Majesties,” the two young women said in near unison as they both curtsied.

“My Ladies,” the Emperor said with a nod.

“And,” John said, “these are more cousins, Contessa Yulia and Viscount John of Ameqqan Adrar.”

Yulia, not quite yet 18, curtsied and John, a little older at 21, bowed. “Your Imperial Majesties.”

“My Lady, my Lord,” Joseph replied.

“And,” John continued, “this is Lord Aron Harroun, the grandson of Duke Matthias, our Chamberlain.”

The 17-year old bowed deeply. “Your Imperial Majesties.”

“My Lord,” Joseph said with an odd smile. He turned back to John and Irene. “How was your trip?“

“Very nice,” the Crown Prince said, “and thank you for hospitality; the guesthouse here on the Island is as lovely as always.”

“Well,” Joseph chuckled, “we can’t have family staying at a hotel.”

John laughed. “Indeed.”

He glanced over and saw Crown Princess Elizabeth standing with a growing group of other teens. He looked at Aron and Yulia. “You may join Elizabeth and her guests, if you’d like.”

“Thank you,” Yulia said, then she curtsied again to the Excalbians.

“Yes, thank you,” Aron said. He bowed. “With your permission, Your Majesties.”

The Emperor nodded and the two teens departed. Crown Princess Irene smiled at them and watched as they left.

“I’m glad to see that Elizabeth has so many friends”, she said to Joseph. “How is she adapting to her new role?”

“She’s doing surprisingly well,” Joseph said. Then, he looked at Anna. “Well, maybe not so surprisingly.”

Anna smiled back at Joseph. He was right, it was not surprising to Anna that Elizabeth adapted so well to being the Crown Princess. She was born to it, and indeed more, although Anna trusted that it would be many, many years before her daughter had to take that next step.

As he said this, a Steward approached the Emperor to inform him of the King of Brasland’s arrival. Irene noticed her brother and curtseyed to him.

“Georg!”, she said, surprised. “I did not know you were coming. It has been so long since I last saw you.”

The King winked at his sister, but greeted the Emperor first.

“Joseph, thank you for your hospitality”, he said, with a quiet smile. “It’s nice to be in Excalbia.”

“Georg,” Joseph said, “it’s good to see you. I’m glad you could make it. Have you had a glass of the Palace’s ‘home brew’ yet? It turned out very well this year.”

“If you recommend it so highly, I will have one”, said Georg.

Then, he greeted the Empress, who reciprocated, and followed with his sister and brother-in-law.

“How is my niece and nephew?”, he asked. “I haven’t seen Toria and Georg in ages.”

“They are growing so fast”, said the Crown Princess. “I just can’t believe that Victoria is already seven, and Georg is a rascal as always, much like his uncle.”

The King smiled, amused. “You were quite naughty as a child, my dear sister. Don’t you remember when Aunt Alix lost her pearl necklace? It was under your bed.”

“A coincidence, I’m sure”, Irene playfully replied.

Georg turned to John. “How’s your father? I heard Peter survived his stay at your summer estate. I confess I was betting against it.”

John laughed. “I think Peter actually managed to finally, well, if not win him over, at least earn a measure of respect and tolerance.” He laughed again. “Though I suspect siring another grandchild for my father had a lot to do with that change in attitude.”

“Grandchildren tend to have that effect”, said the King, giving a quick glance to his sister, who was expecting her third.

“Indeed,” John agreed, as he turned towards Irene and smiled.

User avatar
Providencia y San Andres
Bureaucrat
 
Posts: 60
Founded: Jun 10, 2018
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Providencia y San Andres » Wed Jul 06, 2022 12:48 pm

OOC: joint post with Itayta.

Giovanni discreetly gestured to his two siblings to follow him. Being the natural leader of the bunch, they obeyed. The Grand Prince of Itaytá walked towards the Providencians, introducing himself.

“Hello, cousins”, he said with a smile. “I’m Giovanni of Itaytá, but please call me Gianni. These are my siblings, Violante and Francesco.”

“Hello, Gianni,” Ernesto said, offering the Prince his hand. “I am Don Ernesto Cristian Ferdinand Leopold de Habsburg y Cabral.” He offered his hand to Francesco. “Francesco.” He then took Violante’s hand. “Violante.” Then, he turned to his half-siblings. “My half-brothers, Don Constantine of Habsburg y Mukhrani and Don Pablo of Habsburg y Mukhrani.” Both young men offered their hands in turn to the Itaytans.

The prince took Elena’s hand and kissed the air above it.

Quanto sei bella, signorina”, he said, gallantly. “May I ask your name? I don’t think I’ve ever met you before, carissima.”

Elena smiled. “Doña Elena of Habsburg y Mukhrani,” she said, “from Providencia.”

Behind him, Violante rolled her eyes, used to her brother’s flirtations, while Francesco just looked, quietly amused by the spectacle.

“And,” Ernesto added, “our cousin, Don Alberto Antonio Puche de Habsburg.”

The young man pulled his gaze from the Excalbian Crown Princess and turned to the Itayans. “Your Highnesses.”

***

Violante slightly nodded her head in acknowledgement, a bit overwhelmed by the number of Providencians. Francesco offered his hand to shake and soon engaged in conversation with Alberto. Meanwhile, the Itaytan princess moved closer to her brother.

“Mukhrani?”, she heard Giovanni say. “That’s an unusual name.”

“It’s Kartlian”, interjected Violante, and then immediately blushed. “Oh, I’m sorry for intruding, I just remembered the name. Queen Eleni, the consort of Cosimo III, was a Mukhrani. Were you named after her, Elena?”

“Our mother is Kartlian,” Elena said. She looked at her older half-brother. “She married our father after the tragic death of his first wife, Ernesto’s mother.” She looked down for a moment then back at Violante. “I might have been named for her; I just know it’s a Kartlian name.”

“Oh, so you must be the granddaughter of Princess Olimpia”, said Violante. “She’s a friend of my parents. I recall her first husband was Kartlian, and that she had a daughter who married into the Providencian family.”

“My sister is a living genealogical software”, joked Giovanni.

Violante blushed again.

“I’m afraid I am”, she admitted. “I love history, especially family histories. I relate more when I read about my own ancestors. Anyway, I won’t bore you with a lecture. I’m going to check on Francesco.”

Giovanni’s face lightened up when his sister left.

“Seems it’s just you and me now”, he said, his eyes smiling. “Tell me about you, Elena. What are you studying?”

“I am studying the law,” Elena said. “After this year, I will have one more before I graduate.”

“Where are you studying?”, asked Giovanni. “And why law? It’s not an obvious option for someone of your background.”

“Universidad de San Tomas de Aquino,” Elena said. “It’s in Providencia. And as for why - pues, I want more out of life than to simply marry a man with a title. I want to… protect my family’s interests. And have a say in my future.”

“You are a serious woman, Elena”, said Giovanni, jokingly. “I must warn you, I’m not a serious guy, not when there are so many opportunities to have fun. Please, let me introduce you to my brother Francesco. He’ll be a much better conversation partner than me.”

He retreated a few steps and grabbed Francesco’s shirt, pulling him from his talk to Alberto and moving him in front of Elena. Then, the Grand Prince headed to the bar and to find someone more solicitous than the indifferent Providencian. Violante watched this with amazement.

“Hey, Gianni!”, she said, grabbing his jacket as he was leaving. “Don’t you realize how rude you just were?”

“Oh, relax”, replied the prince, smiling relaxedly. “She’s not interested, and Francesco can fill my place. Now go with them and don’t wait for me. There’s a hot Excalbian blonde I want to talk to.”

Violante, furious, watched him in silence. Then she turned to the group, but did not know whom to talk and what to say, so she decided to wander across the gardens and see a bit of the palace grounds.

Elena’s eyes widened as Giovanni walked away. She blinked and stared blankly for a moment. Finally noticing Francesco in front of her, Elena frowned. “Your brother, I must say, is rude. A truly obnoxious fellow.” She leveled a withering gaze at the younger man. “If you share his disposition, you should go; I would not want to burden you with entertaining me.”

Francesco barely understood what was going on when Elena’s words hit him. Then he realized: another of Gianni’s antics.

“Ermmm, well… sorry?”, he mumbled, feeling the awkwardness of the situation. “I’m sorry he ditched you. He can be a real ass, but I’m not like that. Gianni’s a bit arrogant. He’s the Grand Prince of Itaytá and all of that. Sometimes he just doesn’t care for the consequences of his actions.”

Elena blushed slightly. “And I’m sorry for blaming you for his actions.” She sighed. “Shall we start over?” She extended her hand. “I am Doña Elena of Habsburg y Mukhrani, and I am pleased to meet you.”

Francesco kissed the air above her hand. “The pleasure is mine, Elena. I am Francesco de’ Medici. I come from Itaytá, a lovely island far away from here. So, we’re both islanders, and I think we share some islander cousins too, the Braslanders from the Gulf Islands, don’t we?”

“Quite possibly,” she said. “I confess that I am not an expert on our family tree, but my cousin Isabel is married to a Braslander.” She paused. “So, what do you do in your island home?”

Francesco shrugged his shoulders.

“I study, I party, I sail, I play golf”, he said, matter-of-factly. “The usual. You?”

“I, too, study,” Elena said. “And party,” she smiled, “and spend time at the beach. Our family has its own private beach. The advantage of being nobility in an island nation, I suppose.”

“Oh, what a show off”, joked Francesco. “Your own private beach, and to think that other royal families just have palaces and castles. You shouldn’t brag about that, Elena. You know, guillotine and stuff.”

Elena laughed. “If the revolution comes to Providencia, having beach access for a quick getaway might save a few lives.” She paused, then said, “Do you travel much?”

“Only on holidays”, he said. “I spent last New Year’s in New Chalcedon, after Midsummer’s I’m visiting my cousins in Synessia, then might spend a week with my cousin Ilmar in the Gulf Islands. He invited me to go fishing, but I’m still not sure. He just had a child, so it’ll be twenty percent fishing, eighty percent babysitting. Anyway, yes even though I only travel when I’m off school, I do it frequently. What about you?”

“I love to travel, but do not have as many opportunities as I would like,” Elena said. “If you will be in the Gulf Islands, you should visit Providencia; it is not far from the Gulf.”

“Mmm, what a hard choice, babysitting versus a private beach”, he replied, amused. “Jokes aside, it sounds like fun. I’d love to take a look at your country.”

“I will make the arrangements to show it to you. The beach, of course, but also the city. The nightlife is… rather well developed for a small city in a small country,” sh3 smiled.

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