[RP Episode] Far Flung Friends and Foriegners


#1

Welcome to the group episode, this opening entry will be providing information for writers, so they can partake and hopefully not get caught out.

I will be running a timetable of events, to give people time to write conversations, but keep the episode moving along so it actually finishes:

Timetable

· 2nd September: Episode Starts, invitations will be sent out to players who wish to participate and allow time to write them arriving and any pre-event interactions they wish to have.
· 9th September: Celebration starts. People to show up to the event and mingle. Drinks and nibbles will be provided, though if you wish to bring along a local delicacy from your homes, go for it.
· 16th September: Mid celebration speech from Royal Household, transition into a formal dance event.
· 23rd September: Closing of the evening events with a finale. Final farewells and players to wrap up.
· 30th September: Episode finishes, closed.

Yes, these are all on a Monday, and it will be evening European time that the next phase will begin. No, I will not wait for you to finish your little bit of story. I will be writing as the Royal Household, Casa De Rescida, as well as Casa De Silva.

The event will be taking place (in game) during the summer months. The night will be quite warm.
I would also check with players out of the episode (discord, in game, etc) if they’re available to interact with. Since there will be a lot of people there, reply to the individual talking to you, rather than the episode as a whole. It’s easier for readers to follow that way.

The first part of the episode will take place over a 3 month period, between receiving the invitations and the Celebration itself, including the week before. All the events after the 9th to the 23rd will happen in the one evening of the celebration, and the final 23rd to 30th will be farewells and the week after, until the episode ends.

There will be two messages that the various groups can receive the personal invite, and the larger announcement. If you want to invite specific peoples, nobles, royal family etc, use the former. Should you wish to play visitors and others interested in the event, use the latter.

The Specific Invites

To our most esteemed friends, greetings.

You are cordially invited to the celebration of the 80th year since the birth of his Royal Majesty, Emmanuel II, Head of Casa De Rescida, King of Vallenia, at the Crown Palace in the city of Aranca.

The celebration will be held on the night of the September 9th of our current year.

It is hoped that you may attend, on the advice of his family and advisors, his Majesty’s last public event, and to celebrate a past of friendship shared and mark a future of prosperity yet forged.

May your journeys be safe.

The Crown’s Decree

By the Authority of the Crown, as approved by the Greater Council, let it be known;

On September 9th of this good year, The City of Aranca will host, the celebrations of the 80th year since the birth of his Royal Majesty, Emmanuel II of Casa De Rescida, King of Vallenia. He wishes that these festivities be enjoyed by all his citizens. It has been ordered by the Lesser Council, that a street celebration will be held so that all may join in this most joyous occasion.

As a part of the upcoming celebrations, all fees for mooring at the City of Aranca shall be waived for the week prior and the week after. Furthermore, market taxes and fees for goods and services traded shall be also waived during this period.


#2

The Crown Palace, before the festivities begin.

CLAP CLAP

A man, formally dressed, rushes to the side of the man sat down eating. It is a fine spread of food, perfectly laid out in a meticulous fashion, though is far too much for a single man to consume by himself.
“Yes my Prince?”
The middle aged man sits there, having taken a small portion from each. A single chicken drumstick here, a few slices of bread there. A thin slice of the pie. Most remains untouched.
“Draw a bath, I wish to bathe, and do something about all this, I’m done with it.”
The servant takes a quick glance at all the leftover food. Once again, the Prince seems content to allow good food to go to waste. At least he ate from it this time, rather than sending it back over some petty detail. The servant bows.
“Of course my Prince, shall we prepare it in your washroom?”
“Hmm? No, prepare it on the balcony. I wish to enjoy the late summer sun on my skin. It does wonders for my complexion, hmm, as you can clearly see.” He gives a vain gesture to his face, an unpleasant smile adorns it.
“Indeed my Prince, right away.”

Sancho gets up, before lazily waltzing over to his writing desk and taking a seat. He draws a quill and paper, before pausing. Musing for a moment, he sets his mind on his next poem,

Of course, a great work it will be.

He begins to scrawl, his handwriting is sloppy, smudging the ink in places. He adjusts his hand on the quill before putting words down, a mish-mash of phrases and poorly thought out verses. In the background, two more servants hurriedly move as quietly as possible behind him, attempting to take a bath outside onto his balcony, while more have set about clearing his table.
“Wine, before I dry up like an old grape.”
“Of course my Prince.”

Another servant, this time a young girl, rushes over with a glass and a pitcher, before pouring him a drink and placing it on the writings desk near the Prince. Sancho doesn’t look up, or offer the slightest acknowledgement of the others in the room. He takes the glass, takes a small sip, before returning to his work. She stands there, quietly.
A few minutes pass, as he continues writing, pondering to himself. There are many good ladies of the Crownlands, all who would be deserving of his hand in marriage or even a simple poem such as this. He decides against writing it for one person, instead, he will save it, ready to put their names in should he need some prose to woo them.

The young girl stood next to him begins to speak: “My Lord, your b-“
“My LORD?!” The prince sharply cuts in. “Try that again, girl.”
“My Prince, I didn’t mean-“
“No, you didn’t. So let me educate you. I’m not some lowly Lord of these lands. I, I am the CROWN PRINCE. Do that again, and I’ll have you flogged.”
“Yes my Prince.”
“Good, now I shall bathe. Get out of my presence.”

The young woman bows quickly, before scurrying away from the Prince. He sighs, before heading out to the balcony removing his clothes and getting in the bath. A tad too hot, but it seems he is surrounded by incompetence today. He had considered reciting to them his new poem, but it would be wasted on their uncomprehending heads.

You just can’t get decent help anymore. I shall have to get new ones, else they will continue to drive away all of the eligible women around here.

He reaches for the small table, looking for his glass. His eyes roll into the back of his head. Of course THEY forgot.

“Hello? WINE?”


The Crown Prince, Sancho, attempting to charm.


#3

The Mountain Roads, west of the capital.

The mountainous road cut through the jagged rocks and thin grasses on the approach to the City of Aranca, a thin line over the rough terrain. On it, a small precession of horses, mounted riders and carts made its way, heading eastward to its destination. It wouldn’t be long before the white walls of the City of Aranca, the capital, would be visible from their path.

A rider who went ahead, re-emerges from the rocks, approaching the head of the train. He is donned in the dulled metals and darker colours of the Grifos Negros, assigned to the Duque himself. He slows his horst to a halt as he approaches, the front riders coming into clear view.

“So friend, how looks our route? I can’t imagine we would be expecting any issues at this stage.”

“It shall be good progress, we shall make the city by nightfall my Duque.”

Alfonso speaks first, before Duque Fernando can respond. “Very good. Take this scroll to our residence in the city. We will want to alert them of our arrival so they can prepare.”

“At once my Lord.” With a quick, deep nod, he takes the document from his superior and turns his horse, spurring it on back down the road he just came. Within minutes, all that is left is a slight kick up of dust to be seen over the loose shrubs.

“I do hope you know what you’re doing Fernando, this little stunt of yours could backfire horribly on us.”
“Relax Uncle. The plans are already in place and I shall see to it personally that this matter is taken care of. Besides, we have the backup gifts, at your insistence, just in case.” The Duque nods to the carriage behind him; a small smile crosses his face.

“We’re already walking a fine line with your sister not being here, avoid provoking him too much.”
“If it goes according to plan, he won’t have much choice in the matter. Though I do wish Marianna could have been here to see this, she would have enjoyed it…. Ah well, it is better she is not here. I do wish her a speedy recovery.” A knowing look is shared between the two, one of slight enjoyment, the other of passive concern.
“Indeed, a speedy recovery.”

The group rides on, as white walls of the City of Aranca come into view, nestled across an archway to the Lagoa, the blue waters gently shimmering against the terracotta tiled roofs. Gentle smoke drifts from the various chimneys of the rooftops, adding a slight haze to the sky. In the dock, ships of all sizes can be seen, loading and unloading cargo. A few flags flutter in the breeze, as the symbols of various Casa can be seen gathering. A pretty sight to behold indeed.

The group rides for a few more hours, before pulling into one of the western gates of Aranca. The smell of sea salt and smoke waft through the area, as proof of the scene before them. The streets are crowded, with carts, stalls and goods being shuffled along their narrow passages. Several merchants attempt to catch the attention of the Duque and his uncle, trying to entice them to part with their coin. The baggage train passes a small stage, where a street performance entrances an audience. A retelling of one of the classical stories written by the bards long ago.

The precession pushes on, determined to make it to their destination. As the sun begins to set behind the buildings, the group finds itself outside a familiar looking residence. Fernando smiles. It’s not quite the same as home, but its damn close. This will be their base of operations for the next few weeks.


#4

Yin-Wey, having been prosecuted for being her own self in Nigardheim, had left the country as fast as she could, running from the authorities who have placed a want for an arrest on her, because she was a practitioner of foreign magic, and expressed her belief in a foreign religion publicly, and refused to pay their intolerable fines. She was Niirai after all, how dare they! A member of one of the most gracious, beautiful, and honourable people hunted like a common criminal, simply because people were curious about her, due to her outstanding appearance, and simply being glad to answer their questions.

To be completely fair, she was rather provocative. For Niirai, over-dressing and over-accessorising was the norm, so when such an elaborately ornamented and decorated creature ventured outside of Niirai domain, people would undoubtedly take note. And Yin-Wey knew this, and used it to her advantage. To do what, you might ask? Well, you see, she was a priestess, and a young haughty one at that.

When people began venturing ever further from their elven homeland in the far south, and brought home exotic goods, people like her took it upon themselves to spread the true faith to the good people they have established trade relations with. Unfortunately, not all of them were very receptive to the incoming missionaries. Too bad for them. But that would not dissuade people like Yin-Wey from trying!

She was one to use her very apparel and physical form to attract people to her, instead of her words. Most preachers get arrested for standing elevated above a crowd and spewing their enlightenment upon the masses until it became too annoying to tolerate. No, she had people come to her and ask what she was about. Too bad many a young male were simply attempting to court her, but there were those who were genuinely interested. This way, no one could accuse her of forcing her beliefs on to others.

And when people would get her to talk about her gods, she would inevitably drive the subject to talking about her magic. Too many times has she been chased out of a village by an angry mob when they accused her of being a witch, after she had tried to woo them with a minor magical presentation. At least at first. She had learned to only show them her magical abilities if it directly benefited the simple folk she was interacting with, and did not seem imposing or in any way scary. Like, healing magic for example, or calming an animal. This approach has lead to a considerable drop in instances where she would get chased out of town.

She did travel alone, but was in no danger however. Because, as it seems, the under educated and superstitious will turn from attacking her to fleeing from her as soon as she does something imposing directed at them. It could be something as simple as making her eyes glow and her scream high pitched.

The end results of her endeavours? They were rather mixed…
She had as much chance at converting people through their change of heart, than simply of the peasant’s fear of her. IF they didn’t chase her out of town. And when she did convert, often times people would end up worshipping her instead of hearing out her teachings. It was extremely irritating for her. But, they are but simple human beings. What can a Niirai do?

After she fled Nigardheim, she ventured westwards, to lands yet unknown to her people, on roads which she knew must lead to somewhere. She followed the many sign posts scattered about the highways of these lands, and went from village to village, where she would both make attempts at conversion, as well as offer her own healing abilities to earn coin. She had departed her homeland a long time ago, and with a substantial amount of gold, but weighing her expenses with her gains, she was on tough times, and was beginning to run out.

That was when she had found herself within ‘‘The Crownlands’’ in central Theia, and had heard the royal decree for the King’s 80th birthday at the capital of Aranca. ‘‘Perfect.’’ she thought, as she imagined how many people there would be at such an event. Though she did not expect meeting the old monarch directly, if she can at least intrigue some of the nobility, and maybe convince them to give a donation to her just cause, she would be settled for quite a while longer. She had spent some of her last savings on getting her clothes cleaned and patched just for this occasion, for her garments had become rather worn out after all the traveling she had done.

Yin-Wey was a young Niirai elf priestess, and an arrogant one at that. She was pretty, even for elf standards, and she knew it. She was wearing a sleeveless and rather body-tight blood red gown with long gloves of the same colour which stretched to her elbows. She had well decorated and gold trimmed shoulder pads, off of which, she could hang her cape. Her hair was bright blonde, to the point where they almost appeared white, and she most often wore her red hood over her head, as is proper for men and women of faith so they are easily recognised. At least in her culture. She also had a golden staff which was topped with a golden phoenix. Pretty much all of her pieces of clothing, including her staff, were adorned with at least one emerald jewel, representing the current ruling dynasty of Xia, and the Emerald Empress. She did not powder her face, for Niirai in general were already considered attractive by human standards, but she did apply eye shadow, as well as use her red lipstick on her upper lip only.

She had spent quite a bit on her appearance, but she was expecting quite the score. Or at least, a ride back home. Hopefully not in chains.

Xia Mage'ai 01


#5

The deck lurched.

Phylakos Andreas Theodosios Exelceor-Staros, heir to a title and an office that wielded tremendous power and influence, that had quashed its rivals during the Northern Rebellions, and decided the fate of a nation with but a word, felt his stomach lurch with it. In a manner entirely unbecoming of his august person and dignity, he dashed for the railing.

As he was expelling his stomach’s contents, he reflected on the irony of the head of state of a major seafaring nation being unable to stand an hour on a ship without barfing. It left a bitter taste.

Or maybe that was the vomit.

A hand idly patted his back, and he tilted his head to look up at its owner. “There, there”, the deep basso voice he’d known since childhood rubled. His adoptive father, Styrios Staros, looked sympathetic. “We’re almost there. The captain says we’ll come up on their harbour by noon.”

Andreas managed a nod, and then looked across the waves at the flotilla they’d amassed.

When the royal invitation came, and from the Arancans no less, it was an opportunity they could ill afford to waste. Not only was it likely old King Emmanuel’s last public appearance, such parties usually offered a multitude of commercial opportunities to those with the wit to look for them.

And so the cartels of Chromaros had moved in force. All three of the main cartel lords were present, representing Lapunos, Staros and Aranne interests, and the ships had been piled high with gifts, and platitudes. as well as diplomats, accountants, dignitaries, attendants of various sorts, and the Protector’s Own guard.

Such a concentration of riches and dignitaries could not have passed the seas safely, what with all the pirates about, so they’d been amply escorted. In total, just shy of a dozen ships had made their way to Aranca - mostly lightly armed merchantmen, but four of them were formidable Navy warships that bristled with ballistas and chiboloi, and had made for a potent deterrent to any would-be pirate.

With that reassurance, Andreas and Styrios returned to the cabin. It was time to prepare.


#6

morning dawned by NIgardheim, King Bjørn was sitting his garden in the mist of morning prayer, as he normally would do however this time he had let her wife sleep in, it was still fairly early so he could make it to breakfast on time to see the younglings aswell. After his prayer he walked back inside his hall, to see the table had been put out and food slowly being amassed onto the table, the staff bowed as soon as they saw him. He merely waved his hand as he walked past them, he walked over to his chair slowly sitting down.
it didnt take long before the staff started to serve him handing him his breakfast
"My lord shall we see if the young lords and the queen is awake yet?" one of them asked
"Yes please, and make sure the boy gets up the first time, he has a habbit of going back to sleep" Bjørn replied
not soon after some of the staff members started to leave the room in the great hall to awake the rest of the house hold.
it didnt take long before the rest of royal family started to arrive at the dinner table
Alvilda were the first to arrivel to the table, before sitting down next to Bjørn she gave him a kiss on his chin
"Morning sweetheart, and thanks for letting me sleep in but you know i dont mind doing morning prayer with you" she said, while sitting down on her chair
Bjørn and Alvilda talked abit back and forth enjoying the kids were not there yet, which didnt last long
First came in the young Prince of Nigardheim Tyr, named after the god of Justice and War, he were around 11 taking greatly after his father but had slightly more elf features then his sister.
then came in the Princess of Nigardheim, Asta spitting image of her mother 19 years old, she just walked in and sat down at the table saying “good morning” as she did unlike her brother who were barely awake

The family talked abit back and forth about studies and training’s, both the king and queen had high hopes that Asta would advance into the magical arts, so they would often ask about that, however under the morning meal the two heavy front doors opened and the sound of footsteps were heard
a lonesome guard had walked in carrying a message bag and holding a scroll in his right hand
" My king and Queen i bare news from The Royal Majesty, Emmanuel II, Head of Casa De Rescida, King of Vallenia" he said while kneeling down
" Then read it outloud, sens you had the nerve to come while im having breakfast with my family, clearly you should have the nerves to read out loud for us then." Bjørn bellowed
" Right sir right" the messenger said while getting back onto his feet he unfolded the scroll and started to read the message out loud

the messager folded the scroll back and stood with a straight back
"Leave the scroll on the table and take your leave, boy" Bjørn said while still chewing on some bread
the messager nodded and left the scroll and left the hall
"Well guess we better find some sort of gift to bring" Bjørn mumbled out
"Oh dear i do just love a good party, we should bring Asta, the whole place would be full of nobles"
Alvilda said with abit too much enjoyment in her voice.
That awoke Asta abit more
" A noble mans party?, mother are we gonna get new dresses?" she busted out
" Don’t get ahead of yourself my dear, do remember even if you find someone promising, they would need council approval, giving he wouldn’t be from around here nor submitted from the council. But i can answer for you’re mother, yes you will get a new dress, now once were done with breakfast i will get everything sorted out while you and your mother, go shopping" Bjørn said
time passed on and not soon after the mighty ship of the king and two just as impressive ships set sail


#7

Fordham Castle, 2 months prior to King Emmanuel’s birthday.

It was approaching evening in Fordham. The laborers in the fields could be seen bundling wheat with strong hemp ropes, and laying them onto carts. The sound of activity murmured below the castle walls as the people of Fordham settled down for the night. As the sun sat on the horizon, making the whole sky a deep red, the bells of the church of St. Siilvus tolled telling all that it was 8 o’clock. King Hendry sat in his study, which adjoined his bedroom, poring over some letters he had received from different parts of Midland. Financial reports, court hearings, and news from the northern border patrol. A door clicked shut. “Darling, I have wonderful news!” It was Queen Marjorie. She had a white evening gown on, trimmed with blue and gold lace, and her strawberry-blonde hair had been carefully braided and tucked into a bun.

Hendry turned in his chair to see his wife enter the study with a letter in her hands. The fringe of her gown brushed against the doorway. He saw that the red wax seal bore a bird with outspread wings. “Your family?”

“Yes!” She beamed. “My great uncle is celebrating his eightieth birthday, and he wants our whole family to be there.”

“Eighty years!? Such an age is ample reason for celebration.” The king smiled. “It’d be most pleasant to see him again. It’s been quite a few years.”

“So we’ll go?”

“But of course! If we delay any longer that venerable elder will be nothing but bones and dust!”

“Ahhh, don’t joke so! He was in fine health when we left.”

Hendry rose from his chair, and looked at the letter his wife held out. “In two months? Alright, but that means preparation must begin in the next few weeks. It takes a month to get there.”

“A gift.” Marjorie reminded him. “We mustn’t forget that.”


One month later…

An entourage of servants, soldiers, horses, and carriages had gathered in the town square, the time for departure was approaching. The leaves had started to turn a slight gold as the fall weather slowly took over the land. The King and his family approached, escorted by guards with halberds. King Hendry was wearing travel attire, but also wore a suit of mail that was visible under his clothes. The roads to Aranca were dangerous at this time of year, but he was prepared.

Holding his hand was the lively Princess Wynneria. She skipped alongside her father, kicking the gravel with her little boots, extremely excited for the adventure to come. Her hair was blonde like her mother’s, but her smile was her father’s. Her mother had promised to show her all there was to know about Aranca. Queen Marjorie followed them, a little more urgently than the rest, wearing a dark red velvet travelling coat and carrying a bundled child in her arms. It was the crown prince Reginald, who was only six months old.

The family’s carriage awaited them, and Sir Wilham stood by it, ready to see them off. Although it wasn’t a particularly special occasion, the castle commander had waxed his splendid bushy grey mustache, causing in to stick out ostentatiously in both directions. “I wish you safe travels, your Majesties. Midland is in safe hands.” He bowed deeply at the waist.

King Hendry approached him and bid him to rise. “Thank you Wilham.” He gave Wilham a tight bear-hug, which the knight graciously returned. Queen Marjorie nodded to Wilham in appreciation. Looking down at Wynneria, the old knight smiled. He patted her on the head. “Now don’t you scare the people down in the Crownlands, you little tiger.” The little eight-year-old responded by baring her teeth and imitating a wild-cat’s roar, but giggling right afterward. The Landshire family settled comfortably in the carriage, and with a signal to the driver, away they drove, taking the southern highway towards the distant forests.


#8

A large trading vessel arrives at the docks of the city of Aranca. Belonging to the DeBessos merchant empire, the yellow and black sails look quite nice against the mostly orange-tinted city.

On board is Flavio DeBessos, one of Shattajuri DeBessos’ many cousins. It is rare for him to travel on board one of his trading vessels, but this is a special occasion.

’‘Ahhh, the smell of a busy port. I love it! It means money!’' He proclaims as he comes out of his cabin onto the deck.

Not only is he here on a business trip, there’s also been rumors of an upcoming event. Perhaps he and his crew might check it out if time allows for it.

’‘Alright, boys! Unload the cargo. I’ll meet you here when I will.’' He says as he leaves to do business, accompanied by two bodyguards.


#9

Fernando bit down into the honey glazed pastry he had bought from the street vendor, before passing four more to the various guards with him. They smiled, before tucking in themselves and moving over so the next customer could make their purchase. Fernando handed the coin over to the merchant, who nodded graciously. Fernando too then stepped aside, joining his entourage.

“Careful Jordao, you’ll bust the belt on your uniform with that.”
“Piss off Sara. What, should I give it to you? You could use it, fill out a bit.”
A gentle “ooooh” leaves the lips of the other two guards, Tito and Vincente, as Sara pulled a crude hand gesture at her colleague. Julio simply laughs in response. Fernando grinned at the group. Normally, he would protest the need for an escort, but he had grown up with these soldiers. He knew them, each and every one. Each was clad in the dark uniforms of the Grifos Negros, the light flakes of the pastry contrasting sharply against it.

They had travelled down to the dockfronts, watching the ships bobbing in the water, while the crews scramble to load and unload the cargo from their holds. Atop the masts was a rainbow of colours, both domestic and foreign, fluttering in the sky. The event had drawn merchants from the surrounding nations, each eager to turn a profit and seek out potential new revenue streams.

As the group walks the street some more, Vincente begins to frown, he turns to Fernando:
“So, what are we thinking sir? Think you might buy something down here?”
“Maybe. You never really know what you’re going to find down here.”
“Then, why are we here?”
“A few reasons. Firstly, I was itching to get outside for a bit.”
“Figures.”
“Watch it Vincente. Second, there is a good chance we will run into some of the foreign guests before the actual event, which may prove useful. Uncles idea, but a good one.”
“So we’re people spotting?”
“Pretty much.”

As Fernando says this, a squadron of ocean going carracks pull around into the harbour, the purple and gold flags of the Commonwealth adorning the large vessels. The ships begin moving over to some of the vacant dockside space made by a different leaving ship.

Fernando grinned: “Right on cue, let’s go say hello.”

@Ariovistas


#10

The keep thumped softly into the wooden quays lining the harbourfront. Yelling seamen tossed ropes at each other, tying knots to keep the large vessel in place. All of them wore pairs of shaded glasses against the harsh sunlight.

A squadron of uniformed men hurried down the gangplank, carrying musical instruments and other evidently important attributes, and a honour guard of eight of the Protector’s Own formed a double line. Their heavy bearskin hats added at least half a meter to their height, which was already nothing to scoff at, as the Protector’s Own were chosen for both their skill at arms and impressive statures. They bore heavy halberds, decorated with little pennants displaying the heraldry of the incumbent Protector, and the breastplates they wore glinted brilliantly in the afternoon sun.

Next down the plank was an important-looking figure with a large rod, with the self-important air of a senior courtesan. And he was indeed senior, for it was no other than the Gentleman Usher, personal herald of the Protectors. His was a ceremonial duty, usually performed at the opening of parliament every year, but also whenever the Protector had to make a public appearance. He lifted his heavy rod and slammed it down on the wooden quay three times.

At that signal, the maestro lifted his baton, and the first notes of the Protector’s March swelled through the air. At that moment, Andreas emerged from the master cabin, clad extravagantly - and to him, suffocatingly - in the heavy robes of state. The multilayered robes, fashioned from silks and heavy brocaded veltets, swirled around them as he walked. They were so restricting as to force their wearer to adopt a dignified, solemn tread. He wore a heavy scarlet vest over grey underclothes, and over that, a purple cloak and robe. On his head was draped the ceremonial headcover of the Protector of Chromaros, and clasped around his neck was the skin of a demileopard, the apex predator of the southern forests. In his hands he held the Mace of Belisarios, symbol of his office and authority, and from his jeweled belt hung a ceremonial roperos.

Behind him, as befitted their status, came the three pre-eminent cartel lords of the realm. First down the gangplank, and they were followed by the other major dignitaries onboard the Protector’s vessel. A wave lurched the ship for a moment, shaking the gangplank, and the rather corpulent cartel lord Adonis Lapunos almost fell into the water, were it not for the steadying hand of his friend and ally, Styrios Staros.

Andreas, meanwhile, had made his way past the musicians and his honour guard, and smiled invitingly at the man awaiting him, whose clothes marked him out as a figure of importance, worthy of greeting. Greetings, my lord! It is most wonderful to be here! He bent over to kiss the air besides the man’s cheeks, as was the Chromaroi custom, and straightened. “I’m afraid I’ve not had the pleasure of making your acquaintance, my lord.”


#11

Fernando returns the air kisses, before retracting to announce himself.

“Fernando Da Silva, Duque of Planaltos and Captain General of Da Silva Mercenário, at your service my Lord Protector. The pleasure is all mine.”

Almost as if to prove the point, a gust of wind catches the banner now carried by one of Fernando’s guard, displaying the gryphon emblazoned on the garnet red and white background.

“May I be the first to welcome you and your entourage to the Capital. If I may say, you have made quite the entrance.”

Fernando glances around, looking at the various merchants and dockhands that had paused upon the commotion made by their arrival. As he looked, many of the workers realised they were staring, and quickly resumed their work.

“…and if you would permit, I would very much like the opportunity to ask questions of your home. It has been a long time since I visited Chromaros as a boy, I do hear some of the most curious stories of your peoples.”

As Fernando asks this question, a visible hint of excitement and genuine curiosity crosses his otherwise practiced political face. It was more direct that what he had been taught, but he hoped the Lord Protector would forgive the forwardness of the question.


#12

Ah yes, my Lord of Silva! Andreas boomed enthusiastically. 'I remember you, you know. Just this little lad tagging along with his mightily great gentleman of a father, out to see the world for the first time. You’ve grown tall, eh?" He smirked conspirationally at the man, pitching his glasses downward to peer over the coppered rim. 'Just between the two of us, the Synod insists on this whole display, says it reinforces the dignity of the Protector, but I’m of a mind that it might just as well reinforce the dignity of a circus act! Ha!" He laughed uprariously, before continuing. “I’ll be glad to regale you with answers to all your questions on the way to the palace. We’ve been sailing long, and in this damnable glare too, so we’ll be only too happy to be inside.”


#13

After a few days of travel on her trusty steed, a brown stallion, Yin-Wey had finally reached the city of Aranca. The main streets were bustling with people, and travel by horse or wagon had slowed. She stood out amongst the populace here, but not as much as usual, as there were many other odd foreigners about the place as well. She has yet to encounter any elves here, so she kept her long pointy ears hidden under her hood, even if she was currently not on the job, and even in this pleasant weather.

She continued along her path with an eye out for any place which could accommodate her during her stay here. She was a picky little bird though, and she didn’t settle for the first inn she rode past. She took in a few, spending a longer portion of the day outside riding about and asking for directions, when she finally came across the most obvious, and seemingly the most popular, ‘‘The Speared Dragon’s Heart’’. The name unsettled her, as dragons in her culture are considered divine beings.

She left her horse in the care of the inn’s holster before heading inside to rent herself a room.


#14

Salvestra was angry. The invitation had been misplaced, and her reply, telling the Rescida household of her arrival had probably barely proceeded her own arrival. Had Shattajuri not mentioned the event at his last visit they might not have found it whatsoever.

And coming here, now that occasion was given, was crucial. Despite the new trade route that Gio was out mapping, it was of similar importance to be in good favor with many of those one wished to travel to in the future.

Passing the delta and entering the river, the harbor of Aranca came into sight, with the city itself perched upon its iconic arch just upstream. “DeBessos is already here, ma’am!” the captain yelled from the quarterdeck. “Brilliant!” she said, leaping onto the railing, grabbing hold of the shrouds with her left hand. “Wouldn’t be a party without them. The ships of Nigardheim are here too!” Salveastra turned around and spotted her second in command, Niccolaio, exiting the cabin. “Go set up your stall as quickly as you can. I will get us the keys at the Dragon’s Heart and get something proper to eat. Will you be alright in the meantime?” “Sure Sal,” he said with a grin. “Just enjoy your meal and try not to think too much about me and the riches I’ll be acquiring!” She rolled her eyes. “I’m just glad I’ll be rid of you for the time being.

The ship had come into the bay now, and it was clear that the attendance was great, for it was hard to fit The Graceful in. Despite this, ropes were tossed to the sailors aboard and slowly but surely she was hauled into port. Leaving Nicco with a swift kiss on the cheek, she and her two life guards left for the top of the arch, to look for the directions to the inn.


#15

Fernando caught himself, before he launched into a barrage of questions. He nodded to the Lord Protector, before gesturing up the main road towards the Crown Palace.
“How goes the latest advancements in the field of machinery? I find the clockwork creations of your home curious. I understand the zeal of passion that drives such advancements, but it is an unusual direction to spend so much effort.”
The two talked as they made their way through the winding streets, the conversation flowing between the two. Fernando breaks the flow for a moment, an idea having popped into his head. He proposes it to Andreas.
“I noticed the warships that came as part of your entourage here to Aranca. I have heard reports of an increase in piracy in the seas between us and Tescana. I do wonder of the prospect of some sort of joint initiative to bring the issue more under control.”
The group arrives at their destination, coming to a stop. He turns to face the foreigner.
“Thank you, I must take my leave. I have matters I must see to before the formal festivities commence. It has been a pleasure speaking to you; I hope to catch you again.”
Fernando, once again bows slightly to Andreas.


#16

The Protector, having thoroughly enjoyed the productive discussion with this foreign nobleman, gracefully inclined his head. “Oh no, my lord. The pleasure is all mine. And, I might add…” He smirked conspirationally. “…It is a pleasure we might share with the entirety of the Commonwealth as well. After all…” Andreas made a sweeping gesture with his arm. “Free and open trade are in the best interests of every nation. Might I also suggest we involve the Tescanans in this? They have as much to gain as we do.”


#17

"A wise choice, they would too wish for safer seas on which to trade. But, I must make my leave, I have much to prepare for this evening. Thank you for your time, Lord Protector.
And with that Fernando bows finally, before making his exit with his men.


#18

Prince Sancho stood on the steps leading at the entrance to the Inner Palace, dressed in all the finery he felt appropriate for the occasion. Around him, servants quickly attended to the smallest possible details Sancho could find. He felt the sun on his face, a gentle glow as evening began to set in.

“Yes yes, leave it be, you’re just making it worse now.”

The young assistant bowed quickly, leaving the fixing on Sancho’s attire in place.

“You’re late brother.”
“I’m here before father and no one has arrived yet.”
“You knew the time I set and yet still you arrived late.”

The younger prince didn’t bother to argue back, there was little point in this discussion. He had been working on a new theorem regarding stellar movements and, truthfully, had lost track of time. Still, that didn’t make the time set by Sancho any more reasonable in his mind.

He hadn’t gone to the same level of effort as his older brother, but had chosen a simpler outfit devoid of excessive trappings. Sancho turned his head to take a quick look, before tutting.

“Your wardrobe is lacking too.”

Again, silence was his response. The two brothers stood quietly, waiting patiently for their guests to arrive. Normally, the King would greet their guests at the entrance, but the custom had been abandoned in consideration to his health. Sancho had secretly delighted at this situation; he finally had a chance to exercise some of the Crown duties, even if it was a limited scope. He stood ready. Ready to welcome the guests from far flung fields and across the seas. A true moment of royalty.

The dignity,
The precession,
The prestige,

This. This is what it meant to be King.


#19

Having had brushed her hair and powdered her cheeks, Yin-Wey left The Speared Dragon’s Heart Inn and ventured out to the streets. Evening was here, and the festivities were about to begin. She did not find much comfort nor attention hanging around the peasantry of Aranca, who were either getting themselves drunk or amusing themselves with their fake magic tricks and illusion performances.

She continued to take a gentle walk upon the main avenues, where escorted processions of what appeared to be the nobility of the realm and foreign guests caught her attention. As they marched down the middle of the street all in an orderly manner, and the towns folk gave way, she followed them on the side lines. Keeping her heavy red hood over her head, adorned with a bright green emerald that stood out like a rose in a field, she followed them all the way to the palace, where her track had ended. She knew she was no one special, and when she saw the guarded magnificence that was the palace, and the royal reception, she realised they would not let her in just because she was curious.

So she stood and watched from a far as travellers, merchants, and townsfolk alike passed her by, paying her no attention, as her piercing eyes were focused on the stairway in to the palace where the two princes were stood, yearning for the finer things in life. It made her miss home, she hasn’t experienced royalty since Xia.


#20

Manor Das Mares

A handsome man with dark hair, tanned skin knocked on a large ornate wooden door before him.

KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK

His polite knocking was met with an animalistic growl.

GROWL

Senhora Dona? António said with mild annoyance, pulling down on the polished brass handle and slightly pulling the door ajar.

“Apologies for the intrusion Senhora Dona, but I must insist it’s time to wake up, or else you’ll be late to the Palace, again.” He pulled open the door further and pushed his head through the gap. Inside he saw a mess of long tangled black hair sprawled out in every which way and long limbs sticking out from underneath a blue satin bed sheet.

At least she was in bed this time.

He opened the door a little further and stepped inside the lavish bedroom. As he did, he watched the arms and legs dart under the covers, the same way a turtle would hide in its shell.

Dona, please.”

António strived and failed to keep the impatience out of his voice as he took a few steps towards the bed. A second rumbling growl came from the pile of fur in the corner of the room. António rolled his eyes.

“Oh come on Luzia, get up.”

He watched as the head of Casa Das Mares slowly revealed itself from the sea of satin, as Luzia sat up in bed. She slowly rubbed her eyes, inevitably smearing slept-in makeup across her face, and she pushed her tangled mess of hair out of her eyes.

“Filha-da-puta. I should not have been out so late last night. Thank you António, but also vai-te foder.

“Dona Luzia, I feel as though we have this argument every morning.” António sighed, as he opened the curtain on the right side of the room, revealing an ornate glass window and stunning view of a sprawling seaside city.

“That’s because we do, António. Is the King’s gift packed?” Luzia enquired.
The carriage is ready and waiting, has been for hours. We’re ready to depart when you are.”
“That’s good, one less thing to worry about. Does that mean I can sleep in?” Luzia asked, ever so hopefully.
“You did already. It’s one o’clock, I’ve already tried to wake you thrice.”

“Merda.” Luzia said, rolling out of bed dressed in only her underwear as she dashed across to her ensuite bathroom in sudden a rush. “António call my handmaidens in, I’m going to need help if I’m going to get ready in time and be dressed to the King’s formal standard.”
They’re already outside senhora. António replied, absolutely unphased and unsurprised by this turn of events.

“I’ll bring them in.” he said as he gave the pile of fur a pat and walked out of the room, giving the go ahead for three women to hurry into the room behind him as he left.


Two hours pass before Luzia and her handmaidens emerge once more from the bedroom. After much debate they had settled on the perfect outfit for the King’s Birthday celebration.

Luzia was dressed in a stunning ballgown in the house colour, cyan. The dress had a full formal skirt with a slit at the front to allow for movement, and a stunning sequined bodice that sparkled like the top of the ocean on a sunny day. Gold embroidery wrapped around her waist and up the top of the bodice to both embellish the outfit and emphasise her figure. The messy raven hair from this morning was now glossy and gently waved, and it had been topped with two golden clips embossed with the house crest and coloured to match the embroidery on the dress. Her makeup enhanced her natural beauty and helped to hide small cuts, scars and sunburn that marred her otherwise beautiful features. Luzia was dressed for battle.


It was now late afternoon and everyone was ready. Luzia and her personal guard/right hand man António were dressed to the nines, and a huge blown glass and gold phoenix statue had been delicately packed into the carriage. A birthday gift from Casa Das Mares for the King, lovingly crafted in one of their many artisan glass workshops for which the city, and house, was known. It had ben crafted in the image of the Crown’s family crest animal, and Luzia hoped it would be a well-received gift.

Okay, gift, Luzia, food, my sword, I think we’ve got everything, are you ready to go Senhora Dora?”

Luzia approached the carriage, adjusting her dress, before assessing her surroundings and replying.

”Well, almost. I think we’re forgetting someone.”

António sighed. “It’s the King’s party. You can’t invite him.”

“You know I could never go without my one true love, António. I’ll go get him, besides, the King loves him!”

Luzia pivoted and walked back up into the manor, her delicate silver heels clicking on the polished stonework as she went. Once she got around the corner and out of sight from her travelling party, she kicked off her shoes and sprinted back to the garden near her room, her long blue dress trailing behind her. This is where she had last seen Asilo.

Sure enough, there he was, resting beside the water fountain, taking in the fresh air of the evening.

“Asilo, my love, they wanted me to leave without you!” Luzia wrapped her arms around the large furry white neck of her adopted polar bear, Asilo, scratching him behind the ears. He snorted contentedly. “Come, let’s get you into the carriage, if you want to come with me, that is.”

The bear looked thoughtful, seemingly deciding if he wanted to attend this evening’s celebration.

What’s in it for me?

“I have a bow-tie for you, plus there will be plenty of snooty nobles for you to scare away.” grins Luzia as she can understand the bear’s hesitation, she also hated indignant nobles and fancy events. This seemed to win Asilo over, and in response he nuzzled his massive snout into Luzia’s shoulder.

“Let’s go meu amor. And Luzia went back down the hallway, picking up her shoes on the way past.


Luzia ignored the eye-rolling of her right-hand man as she lead her beloved bear to the carriage. She opened one of the storage hatches on the carriage and assembled the purpose-built stairs she designed. Once assembled, a quick task, she placed them down in front of the door of the carriage, allowing the bear passage up to the reinforced roof of the vehicle. Being very familiar with this process, and quite fond of carriage rides, Asilo plodded his way up the stairs and sat down in a purpose-built basket hidden from onlookers by golden decoration. He looked around and gave a happy grunt as Luzia strapped him in.

I love the big box of moving without walk!

“Good to go big guy? Nice and safe?” He growled happily in response. “Good, let’s get going then.” Luzia scratches him behind the ear once more before she heads back down the stairs, disassembling them and putting them back into the storage compartment. Luzia dusts off her dress and gets into the carriage herself, steeling herself for the long night ahead.

I am not looking forward to dealing with that asshole of a Prince Sancho, but at least there will be cake.