- 1 24th July
- 1.1 Summer
- 1.1.1 Selenia JeVondair
- 1.1.2 Lindow Moonsun
- 1.1.3 Selenia JeVondair
- 1.1.4 Lindow Moonsun
- 1.1.5 Selenia JeVondair
- 1.1.6 Selenia JeVondair
- 1.1.7 Lindow Moonsun
- 1.1.8 Selenia JeVondair
- 1.1.9 Lindow Moonsun
- 1.1.10 Selenia JeVondair
- 1.1.11 Lindow Moonsun
- 1.1.12 Selenia JeVondair
- 1.1.13 Lindow Moonsun
- 1.1.14 Selenia JeVondair
- 1.1.15 Lindow Moonsun
- 1.1 Summer
- 2 31st July
Krimml was not an especially large city. It's walls and towers seemed squat against the flatness of the terrain: A fortress sprouting up from the town that straddled the crossroads between nations. The wealth of that trade had always been attractive to bandits and the like, encouraging the people of the city to adopt a martial attitude. This had only be intensified with the coming of the Xavax, who made it their new capital after the fall of their Imperium, and it showed in the quality of the Recruitment centers that had been built since. As the heart of the Duchy of Blades, Krimml had become a place of great import to the Xavax people.
All these thoughts crossed the mind of the Phoenix Queen as horns announced her crossing of the city threshold. The city she intend to give away.
The Shadow King was here already, she knew. Even were it not for his missive, his banner hung beneath the Redwing of Xavax to indicate his residency. It had been a long, hard ride from Westmoor to get here. Selenia was tired, dusty, and wanted a drink. Krimml was not an especially large city, more fort than palace. The best establishments for a noble to recover themselves were the taverns in the merchant district.She'd already dispatched a runner advising the Shadow King of where she'd be...
The Inn of the Black Swan.
The horns announced the queen´s arrival while Lindow enjoyed his jarl of mead sit near a lake.
- And how did you say that this inn was called? - Lindow asked the innkeeper while the man left a tray with fruits, cheese and sausages.
- This is the inn of the Black Swan, your majesty -
Lindow remained looking the place. Although it beared the name of the inn it was more a small two-story mansion with a garden wherein there was a lake with a picnic area near it.
- It seems that there is a good bourgeoisie here in Krimml - said Lindow while he left his jar on the table.
- M´lord, the queen Selena is entering in the inn - reported captain Rolf.
He nod and started to think:
"The wait has been long but at last the day has come, today I will meet in person the famous southern queen who has given so much to speak in many kingdoms, maybe she ..."
- Her Majesty, Queen Phoenix Selena JeVondar! -
Lindow turned to look at her but the sunshine hit him in his eyes and he could not see well how was his royal host while she was approaching him.
The Black Swan Inn had a long and storied history for the Xavax. It wasn't actually a single establishment, but a franchise that had sprung up wherever the Redwing flew. Originally built in ISadril, every Black Swan establishment was indeed a converted estate that had been built and run by high nobility before being transformed into a congenial place for members of the Phoenix Court to relax and make merry in equal measure. Though it hadn't been used for the purpose in some time, it was still well maintained.
Selenia was grateful that was so as she stepped over the threshold. She was surprised to find the Shadow King had already beaten her here, he must have moved with incredible alacrity once her message reached him. Instead of keeping her waiting, he was standing right there, blinking at her as she was announced. It took Selenia a moment before she realized the sun was in his eyes. With a gesture, the door was closed behind her, and she allowed the Shadow King a moment to readjust to his element.
"Shadow King Lindow, I presume?" Her accent was clipped, but her voice was melodious. The Shadow King blinked a few more times, clearing his vision as she waited. The Phoenix Queen was not a tall woman, the top of her head would barely crest the shoulders of a warhorse. She appeared to be in no more than her mid-thirties, and she looked like she spent a lot of time around blades. Faded scars nicked her hands, her right eye was still bruised, and she moved with the short, sharp motions of one that had a rib or two on the mend. Her blond hair was locked in intricate braids that unwound towards the back to fall in a wild mane passed her shoulders. She wore an open black doublet with red highlights and shiny gold braiding, the colors of her house and realm. A fine ruffled tunic tucked into a sword belt at her waist, laden with a ceremonial-looking hilt that hung over her hip and cinched a pair of fine black leather riding breeches that in turn were tucked into soft black lambskin boots. She placed a left hand on her hip opposite the hilt and extended her calloused right hand in greeting to Lindow.
"I am Selenia. Welcome to Krimml, Your Majesty."
Lindow looked at that woman who was extending her hand. In his mind he can not deny a surprise at seeing this woman at last.
He got up from the chair, grabbed her outstretched hand and, after bowing, kissed her hand without taking his eyes off her. He had almond grey eyes, dark blond hair and beard, and a smile that outlined well-groomed teeth, a mix that made a friendly and close face.
- It's a pleasure to see you, Phoenix Queen Selena -
Lindow became firm again, any of his nobles would see him strange in that dark blue suit with a golden brooch in the shape of the sun holding his coat. Ever since the war broke out, he has always been at the front carrying various types of armor.
He pointed another chair to his host.
- Take a seat, majesty. Surely it has been a long journey and you will find yourself somewhat fatigued. Have you come on horseback or in a carriage? -
Selenia's eyebrows lifted at the courtly gesture, as much surprised by it as she was by his use of her name along with her title. She struggled to recall if he had ever used her name before, and mentally shrugged when she could not. Lindow was being very polite, she opted to accept the gracious gesture and returned it in kind. "Your Majesty is too kind." She said, following his direction and taking the indicated seat. "I came by horseback, faster that way, and the pleasure is mine, Shadow king Lindow." She said as he took the seat across from her. "It wouldn't do to keep an ally waiting overlong." She kept her voice warm as she regarded him, eyes playing over the devices worked into the Shadow King's armor. She arched an eyebrow, glancing from her own unarmored self and back to him. "I hope you were not expecting trouble?" She regretted the question almost as soon as it had left her mouth. She did not want to make the man ill at ease, and so quickly fired off another before he had a chance to answer. "Oh nevermind that, I know little of the styles and traditions of the Shadow Court. You didn't come here looking for a fight I'm sure."
She closed her eyes, sighing heavily before continuing. When she opened her eyes once more, there was a hard glint to them. "You've come to complete Eriatarka and Lionel's deal. As requested, Krimml, along with everything in it, is prepared. The sun rose today on my Phoenix banner, it will set on your Shadow one. That is in stone." With a gesture, she summoned a servant who wore the quartered livery of Greater Eponnlyn and House JeVondair, who then produced a file and withdrew several scrolls and spread them between the two monarchs. Selenia stacked them, but did not present them, electing instead to place them to one side as more servants filled the space between the rulers with food, drink, and two plates, both of which were set in front of her. The Phoenix Queen picked up a plate and considered the feast before her for a moment before she began piling the plate with food. The meat that had been prepared looked rangy, like meat from a wolf or bear. Selenia cut a hefty portion of it and sidled the meat onto the plate. She then made a selection of breads and cheeses, fruits and vegetables. She wasn't satisfied until the plate was piled high. And then, without further ado, she placed the plate in front of the Shadow King, filled his goblet with well-chilled red wine, and then proceeded to fix her own plate. By the time she was finished, the rest of the feast had been laid out on a side of the room. Lindow saw then what the meat came from. Even while the Black Swan chefs had been sending food to their table, a spread had likewise appeared on a table along the far wall, and servants were allowing soldiers, starting with officers, to form a line and get some for themselves. Grey Guard mixed with Fearless in line and cut large hunks of meat from the roasted carcass of a lion, its mouth stuffed with an apple and the air around it redolent with spices.
That the Lion was the enduring symbol of Perdan was not lost on anyone in the room. Selenia knew that much would be obvious. Though she wondered if Lindow would also pick up that the Lion was the symbol of House JeVondair as well. She cut a piece from the lion steak and, using the knife, skewered it and flipped it into her mouth in a casual display of dexterity. She chewed while she waited until his eyes found hers and she held them their for a heartbeat or two, making sure she had his attention before she put her knife down and spoke into the growing din as musicians struck up a tune on a raised stage in the far corner. She was still chewing the lion as she did.
"So-" she said between bites "There were three reasons why I wanted to meet you first." She paused, holding up three fingers with her left hand while she gulped down a swig of wine with her right before continuing. " First off, I don't conduct diplomacy with people whom I have not met and shared a meal with. More civilized this way and besides, our meeting has been long overdue." She lowered a finger on her left, exchanging the wine for another piece of meat. Lion didn't taste great on the best of days, but the chefs at the Black Swan had apparently taken that as a challenge. The result was....succulent. The spice pallet was inspired, and the meat, served bloody, had been well tenderized. "Second, and I'll be candid with you," she looked at him, eyes growing intense as she regarded him. "I didn't want this deal. Eriatarka lost her crown because of it, and I've been picking up the pieces ever since, and the Xavax were less than pleased about Lord Alarin as well. We yet remember him as the Captain-General who lost Domus to Vixen treachery, despite our warnings..."
"...He'd been banned, you know. And two of my dukes nearly killed one another in a duel over this whole thing. I had to fight them both down myself to bring them to heel. The Duke of Blades was most displeased that I'd intended to follow through. One of the reasons for my delay, I'm afraid." She said, impaling another piece of lion meat, popping it into her mouth, chewed, swallowed, and continued in the inquisitive tone of one simply reciting facts. "Eriatarka had to lift it. I wanted to ask you to your face whether or not you knew any of that beforehand, it will tell me a lot about who I am dealing with." Selenia lowered another finger, leaving her index finger raised as she washed her latest morsel down with more wine. However, instead of revealing the final item on her mind, she instead used it to point at his food, a reminder of her aforementioned diplomatic policy, and waited politely. She became still, unblinking as she waited.
Around them the room grew a bit louder as more soldiers crowded in and the musicians did their best to crest over the din. Selenia, seeing the impending problem, broke eye contact with Lindow and, with a gesture to her elites, several men put down their food (albeit with some reluctance) and formed a cordon around the monarch's table, facing outward and ensuring that none came within 10 feet of the two without a summons. For Selenia, the din seemed to abate a bit. Pleased, she returned her gaze to the Shadow King. She'd put a lot on his plate, both literally and figuratively, and interest at his response was evident in her body language as she leaned forward a bit, ducking her head down slightly as if they were the only two in the room. Selenia stilled and waited on her guest.
A handful of men surrounded the table of both monarchs. Lindow thought it was for protection because the noise was still the same. There was a plate full of food on the table that he never thought he could eat. The first bite of that meat was an authentic delight, it was not so tough to be from a carnivorous animal and its spices gave a game of exquisite flavors. Lindow kept listening to his hostess, and when she was silent watching him, he said.
- Surely it has not been an easy decision to keep the agreement that Queen Eriatarka made - Lindow said as he looked at his hostess, then left his mug on the table and said
- Shadowdale is satisfied with the decision to maintain the agreement, it shows that Empollyn is an honorable kingdom that knows how to fulfill his word - Lindow took another piece of meat accompanied by a piece of cheese and ate it. Around he could see behind the guards that surrounded his table how the men-at-arms amused themselves.
He looked back at Selenia. She was looking at him, it seemed that she was trying to analyze what kind of man she had in front of her, her goals and desires. Lindow learned well in the court of the spider queen in his knighthood.
- Before I ask, Queen Selenia, I'm here to sign a single agreement. - Lindow said seriously but then, showing a slight smile, he said: - It's true that once that agreement is signed, I will be open to signing others. - Roleplay from Selenia JeVondair
Message sent to everyone in Krimml (2 recipients) - 9 days, 14 hours, 56 minutes ago
A Long moment passed between the two monarchs. Selenia looked at Lindow, really looked at him, and found that he would not bend on that point. She lowered her index finger at last.
"I am going to hazard a guess..." she said, mirroring his action and taking some more food and drink for herself. "That you did not know of Lord Alarin's history and that was not meant as a slight against me and mine? Good. You never know these things for sure until you can look a man in his eye over food and drink.
Reaching into her doublet, the Phoenix Queen retrieved a heavy, bejeweled key, clearly ceremonial. "The Key to Krimml," she said, eyes taking in everything at once, She meant to remember this moment for a long time. "Take good care of this place for me." Something flickered in her eyes as she watched him, her gaze deep with unwavering promise that seemed out of place with the conversation.
Selenia flipped the key, end over end, to Lindow. She'd telegraphed the motion well enough to be confident he'd catch it, but remained silent until he'd taken the token.
"Now then, Shadow King..." Selenia said, settling into her seat and spearing another slice of spiced lion. She popped the morsel into her mouth, chewed with slow deliberation, savoring the flavor and knowing she would not be returning to the Black Swan Inn of Krimml in the foreseeable future. "-talk to me about Greatbridge.
Lindow grabbed the key. Curiously, it had the same old style as the Karbala key. Then he looked again at his now guest.
- Thanks for respecting the agreement, Shadowdale will remember this good gesture from the new dynasty of Empollyn . -
Lindow left the key inside his clothes along to his chest and looked back at Selenia.
- The truth is that Greatbridge is a vital region to unite his kingdom, Queen Selenia, although it is also one of the two main sources of food of Shadowdale, and as their king, I can not let my people die of hunger. - Lindow made a small pause - If you want Greatbridge you'll have to offer me a similar region and I do not mean the regions of Tabost and Commonyr ... Shadowdale will be interested in the exchange agreement if it is for the Morshes region.- Lindow ate A piece of spiced lion. - I hope that your Dukes do not have to challenge again with this new agreement -.
The Phoenix Queen put her fork down. It was a slow, deliberate gesture. She took a breath, as though considering, then looked back up at him.
"No" she said simply, crossing her arms. She'd expected such an opening demand of the Shadow King. " That will not do. I mean to solidify my borders, not crack them apart further." She leaned back as though in repose, but her eyes never left his, and her manner was one of languid ease. "If it is food you need, then Nascot will do. Why-" She waved a hand, indicating the feasting soldiers. "-with an army the size of mine, and a general like Talon Lionel, we could likely have the region giftwrapped for you before the week was out." Selenia paused to dig out a bit of lion meat that had caught between a pair of molars with her tongue. Once the offending morsel had been removed and consumed, Selenia broke her gaze, sought out her goblet instead and, upon finding it, took a deep and appreciative sip. She was watching the soldiers across the room when she spoke again. "What, in addition to Nascot, will secure me Greatbridge?"
Lindow grimaced, he did not like his guest's offer. He put down his fork and put his hands together.
- Can you only offer me a border region with the enemy and full of rebels that we would have to renegotiate its delivery with Caligus or you in the future? -
Lindow took a sip of his drink and with the jar in his hand said.
- You tell me a senseless excuse that this fragment your borders with the delivery of Mosher ... I do not know what maps are in Empollyn but Mosher does not divide their territories in two like Greatbridge does -
"Shadow King" Selenia replied mildly, her manner nonchalant. Her tone had, however, hardened upon hearing the mocking tone in his voice. She had not come all this way to be condescended to, and a hint of that bled into her voice as she went on. "Morshes has been a part of Epponlyn since before you began your career in Shadowdale. While I am sure Greatbridge is quite important to your people, as you say. Although if it were that critical, then I'm surprised it boasts no knights besides its lord. Krimml was vastly important to us, I had to personally displace more than a dozen families and fight a duel to transfer it, you see. I doubt very much you will encounter that level of resistance to the notion. Besides, If you are worried about contesting former land claims with Caligus, then I have some rather unfortunate news for you regarding your latest acquisition and Sirion." She let those gears start to turn while she went on. "You said you would not accept Tabost or Sermbar, but a region similar to Greatbridge: A Rural. These were your words. Nascot meets those qualifications and already borders your territory. Nascot is what is on the table. If that is not the equal to Morshes, then I would have you suggest terms that might balance the equation out, terms that include more than just regions. Wealth, favors, recruitment centers, food, wedding dowries, knights, promises of future support beyond the scope of the current war, etc. There is plenty of opportunity to find common ground that won't leave as bad a taste as Eriatarka's deal did."
She waited, her lengthening silence an open invitation for the Shadow King to consider the possibilities on offer.
Lindow laughed surprised by his guest's comments. He put the fork on his plate and said
- Queen Selenia, please, it is possible that Mosher has been part of Empollyn for a long time, having his people the typical culture of that kingdom. But you can not defend me that this Empollyn is the same now. On the other hand Greatbridge has a culture of my own, even the majority of its population are believers in the faith of the Shadow. -
Lindow moved his empty plate aside, he had finished eating. He looked seriously at Selenia and said.
- I do not know if you understand the situation ... I do not have to unite my lands, therefore I do not have to convince you, that's your task. I gave you my proposal and I rejected yours. I do not have to think about another proposal, it's your job. If you can not think another, then I'll leave because I have to attend other duties. -
"I told you-" Selenia said with long-suffering deliberation, enunciating each word slowly and carefully to make certain she was understood. "-that this would not be a discussion akin to the one you had with my incompetent predecessor, Shadow King. Negotiations are not hasty affairs, they are conversations with an ebb and flow. And they go hand in hand with the high traditions of hospitality. You have eaten my food and drink as my guest, and now you are my host. This is the start of our relationship and it would benefit us both, and our peoples, were you to regard this diplomatic exchange with proper gravity and friendliness. Besides, you've scarcely been here an hour. I would be quite insulted were you to eat and run. So would the chef. And that's hardly any way to treat your new subjects, now is it?"
She refilled her wine and toyed with a great. taking her time for a moment before popping into her mouth, consuming it with that same steady deliberation. Her manner became lighter with the action, less tense, and she smiled in genuine pleasure before returning her full attention to Lindow.
"My interest in Greatbridge is not an idle one. It will endure. Best to deal with me now while you're position is strong. I did not come here to bully you, nor do I begrudge you grasping for as much as possible. But failure to strike common ground here, now, will be a diplomatic faux pas that neither one of us can well afford. Perhaps these things are more apparent to me. I am a good bit older than you, after all, and did not become so by mistake."
She settled back into her seat and regarded him, taking up her wine without looking for it, and sipping thoughtfully. "Shadow King, I summoned you here to meet you, and to take your measure. You've volunteered little of yourself, and my first impression corresponds. I cannot simply read your mind and pull out your modus operandi, and so I cannot anticipate what value you place on what item. Thus far, your dealing has been more tit-for-tat take all. However, this is not a game, and if it were, there are more than just the pieces on the board to consider. There is influence, there is intrigue, there is power. For example, Shadowdale's future would be very bright indeed were my kingdom to back yours, politically speaking, to say nothing of the Moonsun dynasty, specifically. After all, I am the head of my family and can command that influence as I please. Who knows when, where, or how JeVondair support might benefit your entire house someday. And if these inexplicably do not interest you, there are the hard items that are already on offer: In addition to Nascot, Tabost and Sermbar are on offer. Gold or additional knights are on offer. Trade treaties, marriages treaties, and supporting infrastructure are on offer. In case I wasn't crystal clear before you said what you said, any combination of these, save all, are yours to choose from and name as your price for Greatbridge."
Selenia set her wine aside and steepled her fingers on the table. "Unless of course those 'other duties' are more important?"
- Queen Selenia, I have already made my position clear, even if you tell me that there is gold in Nascot, my kingdom has no intention of expanding to that side of the continent and we are not going to keep a land because yes. - Lindow made a pause and continued saying - Remember that I am not the only kingdom that fragments your lands, Nivemus may accepts a better offer.
Then Lindow wiped her lips with the napkin and said:
- Now I have to leave, those duties that I have are really urgency-
Lindow got up, made a protocol greeting and looked at Selenia.
- I hope to know about you soon, you're a determined woman ... I like that. - Lindow smiled and moved away from the place followed by his guard.
Westmoor -- Summer Evening
Selenia glanced up from her work desk to find a page in quartered black and red livery standing at attention before her. The lad couldn't have been more than 13, she was sure she had knives older than he, but he managed to keep his voice from squeaking when he reported that the Ambassador from Shadowdale had arrived.
"I see, good." She replied. "Find her, collect her seal, and direct her to the palace. I will greet her in the Southern Gardens."
The page boy bowed and vanished with all the alacrity of youth as Selenia finished her work.
The frail shrouded figure of Shadowdale's ancient Ambassador leant heavily on her stave as she shuffled forward on crippled feet, the black oak thudding resoundingly on the cool flagstones as the young page lead her through the palace complex. Milky eyes wandered weakly in the nest of her lank grey hair, rasping breaths struggling for precious air in the summer heat.
Such a sad, lonely, impotent figure.