Nar 11, 228: Chit-chat

Chit-chat
Summary: The Grand Duke and The Queen meet each other in an unofficial place and starts a small chit-chat about political business but is interrupted many times.
OOC Date: 14/July/2013 (OOC)
Related: None
Players:
Mantilo Laetitia Emerit Caedmon Terrwyn 
Salon
A haven of serenity amidst the rush of the castle, the salon is designed as a place for relaxation or socialization. A hearty fire burns in the massive, marble fireplace, throwing a russet glow across the room. The walls are divided top from bottom with pale wooden paneling above and lapis marble with silver veins shot through it below. Several armchairs, a couch, and a loveseat are set around a beautiful table for an intimate tete-a-tete, the furniture finely made of deep mahogany wood with blue and silver cushions. An azure rug covers the center of the room, but at the edges the dark wood of the floor can be seen. A side table holds tea, coffee, wine and several small hors d'oeuvres, and desserts.
Nar 11, 228

Laetitia is seated in front of the fire in a nice overstuffed arm chair, the woman dressed in her finery and drinking a glass of wine as she enjoys the warmth and the dancing of the flames. Her ladies are sorted around the Salon, gossiping and laughing softly as they leave the queen alone to her thoughts.

Suddenly doors are opened and an armoured guard enters the Salon. His dark blue cloak flutters in the air dangerously, while intent gaze of the guard runs through the room. However, the look quickly changes, when man understands being in the same room with a lot of pretty ladies. He moves aside and another two men steps inside. One of them is identical guard, with the blazon of house of Moniwid on his armoured chest. Though, another one is obviosuly the Grand Duke himself.

His very dark blue cloak is adorned with golden dusts on the edges and sweeps the ground lively. Moreover, on his chest, which is slightly bared as always, rests golden pendant with the black snake inside. Likely, it symbolizes his power. The shirt and leathern trousers are quite tight and emphasizes his strong and firm body.

Mantilo Moniwid glances at the fireplace and when his eyes stop on the woman in front of it, he lets the smile out together with the low, but respectful tone "Your Highness, I see my tea helped! I am glad!" and he approaches closer to bow for the Queen respectfully and if she will let, he will reach for her hand, will lift her dainty hand and kiss the back just behind her first knuckles or if there will be the ring, his lips will touch the ring. Of course it will be just gentlemanly gesture, nothing more.

"It's always a pleasure to help!" pleasantly responds the Grand Duke. Now his dark eyes go through the room once more, just to find the best place to sit: not too far from the Queen, but not too close too. Silent unclear sound is repressed by his firmly clenched lips, when the man finds what he was looking for. Just three steps are taken, before Mantilo raises his cloak and sattles in the cushion. His hand is slowly waved for the servant, to bring the goblet of wine, but his sight is fixed somewhere on the Queen's curls. The Grand Duke leans back and elegantly tosses his one hand on the arm of the cushion and another one is raised to uphole his head. He does not say a word for now, just listens for the crackly flames in the fireplace.

Lifting up her goblet of wine and sipping on it the Queen is quiet content to stay in silence, though the giggling of her ladies is quite distracting, especially as it raises to a whispered hum as the Grand Duke lays not too far from the Queen, hands flying as the ladies lean in together to murmur words to each other. The Queen will slant a look to her ladies, then to the Duke who has settled so closely, but not too close to her, her book sliding shut as she curves a smile for the man, "Grand Duke, I do hope you think me not rude if I engage in a bit of conversation with you this morning? It's not so often I get to converse with a handsome man such as yourself in such relaxed quarters."

"Your Highness…" sparkle flashes in man's eyes "I feel flattered, that such radiant lady considers me being handsome…" even if his words may look modest, the way he pronounces them betrays man's self-confidence about his look. "I would love to speak with you, Your Highness. New themes and new conversations are always welcomed, especially, when this time I have very small escort with me and dialogues become quite recurrent there," the Grand Duke brushes his dark hair mannerly and cants his head, sticking that mysterious glance at the Queen "About what, Your Highness, would love to speak?" his eyebrow briefly jumps up, but quickly falls in his usual position again.

Laetitia's throat dances with laughter that spills from her lips in amusement, evidently enjoying this discourse already, "Oh I'm sure you do, your Highness…" Her tone betrays that she believes no such thing and knows that the man's modesty is quite false. But again, it's amusing and as he points out, a change from her own usual conversational tones with her ladies and those usually found around her, "I would like to speak of alliances, your Highness, but I hardly think this is the proper place to engage in such." A delicate pause as she sips from her goblet, setting the glass down carefully, "Given the relaxed state as well I'd hate to enter into vigorous conversation with you without the proper company being around to support it." Lies, she'd love to get vigorous with the count. In a conversation. Of course. As is proper, "But we can lay the lines of such a conversation if you wish so that when we are properly able to engage in such we are not floundering?"

The tap-tapping sound of hurried but graceful footsteps announce the arrival of a young maiden, fiery red locks bouncing about her as she comes to a halt in the midst of the room, closely persued by three guards wearing the Moniwid colours. Emerit's moss green eyes sparkle with delight as she perceives her halfbrother, and she lets herself fall onto one of the vacant seats with a triumphant grin. "Found you. Finally. Your highness. Why would you want to hide from me, beloved brother, I wonder? Tis was agreed that you check on my studies right at this very moment. As soon as I finished you were gone. Now I am wroth at you." She reaches out to nudge Mantilo with her slender fist, more a gesture of affection than reproach obviously. She isn't that strong anyway, the frail but wild creature that she is.

Alas, it is now that she becomes aware that her brother is not alone. Belatedly noticing the regal presence of noone else than the queen, whom she may have seen from afar but hasn't been introduced to yet, Emerit jumps from her seat and lowers herself into a deep curtsey, her cheeks blushing at her own mistake, and mumbling: "Your Highness." Oh dear, what a terrible first impression she must have made. Her eyes dart to Mantilo next, inclining her head apologetically. "I hope I have not interrupted some important political discussion…?" And after a short moment the Mist of the Islands adds, biting her lip. "My apologies. I'm sure that is exactly what I have done…"

The Grand Duke grins widely, but his clenched lips muffles the sound of his laugh. "Your Highness, history tells us that the most perfect alliances were made on the hunting trips or playing chess, or even dancing," he blinks a few times thoughtfully, but some kind of sparkle remains in his gaze, still sticked at the Queen. "There is no improper place for such lines of conversation. Moreover, it will took less time in the formal atmosphere, if we already be discussed about these matters," Mantilo playfully frowns and shakes his head "I must admit, I still do not like formal meetings. They sadden me or drowses," and with this thought he finally lets the laughter out "Our discussion may grant us with the possibility just to put signatures in the court room and…"

When the young girl runs inside the room, all flamy and talkative, the Grand Duke can't stop himself from laugh again. His look lights up even more, if it is possible and he just watches his half-sister with the raised eyebrow and amusment in his glance. When finally young Emerit finishes her long speach, Mantilo clasps his hand around her waist, drawing closer and placing a gentle peck on her forehead. After this, his fingers are immersed in her wild curls and makes a slight mess of girl's hair. This is the moment, when he turns back to the Queen "Aaah! And this is princess Emerit, my little half-sister and the ray of sun…" his voice is lowered, sounds like a whisper, when he adds "There is nothing more comforting than family…" Mantilo breifly peeks at Emerit and sighs, but his attention is quickly turned back to the Queen "I hope this little flame will not disturb our conversation, Your Highness?"

Seated by the fire are three; The Queen in a high backed comfortable chair, Mantilo on some cushions in front of fire, and little Emerit who has just come in. The Queen seems entirely nonplussed as the young woman dashes in, shifting only slightly in her chair as she moves the book to the sidetable beside her and plucks up her wine once more. The heat from the flames is a delight against her flesh and warms her skirts, light green gaze watching the two interact over the rim of her glass, watching and listening. No response is given to the Duke as of yet as he's currently engaged in greeting his half sister.
When she is finally noticed and the curtsey is given the Queen will set down her goblet and rise up out of the comfortable chair to nod regally to the young Princess, "Do not fret, young Princess Emerit, nothing more than idle conversation and a hopes of some political talk but that can always wait, or can continue if you'd like to join us." Shifting back to her seat she will gather her skirts and settle back in, slipped feet extending out to the fire as her toes have grown cold. The Queen is very fragile when it comes to any bit of cool weather, and the floors in the castle ..always freezing.

Emerit gives another chuckle of delight as Mantilo draws her closer to him and starts fussing with her hair. She seems to be used to this way of treatment obviously and feels neither ashamed nor offended by it. "I promise, I won't disturb you, your Highness. But… I gladly stay here for a bit and listen. And learn, if you have no objections." And she smoothens the skirts of her dress of dark blue satin that contrat so nicely to her fiery red hair and pale complexion, before she retreats from Mantilo and resumes her seat from before. Her slender long fingers fold before her in her lap, as the Mist of the Island leans slightly forward, her moss green eyes wide awake and attentive as she studies the queen and her brother. Hearing Laetitia's reply, Emerit inclines her head in gratitude, staying silent for the next moments as she is content to observe.

With a tired eyes and look of someone who could sleep another twenty hours Terrwyn makes her rounds of the castle. Today she is dressed a gown of dove grey velvet and from the variation of color next to the seams of the gown it would appear she has been gaining weight and letting the seams of her gown out. Despite her tired eyes her face is a picture of perfect health, her skin glows and her hair is glossy and thick. Her hair hangs heavily down to her waist in a single braid. Her foot steps are light and round thicker waist is a large set of skeleton keys. It is her duties that bring her into the Salon. When she sees those that have gathered here she offers them a regal curtsy. "Good morning, I do pray your pardon that I am not interrupting."

"Very well…" drawls the Grand Duke silently, turning his dark eyes from the half-sister back to the Queen. He elegantly gestures with his hand, as he would walk with the Queen through the door and he would suggest her to enter first. However, at this moment, this gesture means, that the Grand Duke is ready to continue interrupted conversation and offers the Queen to start it.

Mantilo leans back in his chair, settling comfortably. At this moment the servant brings the goblet of wine for the man. Hand with a golden ring idly raises to take the drink and Mantilo moistens his lip in it, of course, indulging in wine's aroma before that. When the wine runs through his palate down, Mantilo whispers "Oh, very tasty, very!" he glances at the servant "Bring for the Princess Emerit one too, but pour one part of wine and two parts of water." Servant leaves the company and Mantilo concentrates his attention on the Queen again, waiting for her words.

However, doors are opened again and another woman appears. The Grand Duke sniffs playfully "Oh, we will never start it," and giggling can be heared. He stands up from his seat, bowing for the lady respectfully. "You are not interrupting anything, my lady," his low voice utters "It's just idle conversation and hopes of some political talk, as the Queen explained to my half-sister," man gestures at the young girl "If I remember correctly, you were interested in meeting her, another day. Moreover, on the grounds of our last conversation, I can guess that you are quite capable on running political talks, which we hope to have with the Queen." The Grand Duke takes his seat back and turns to Laetitia "Isn't she the one from your mentioned proper company, which could support our ideas?" eyebrow curiously jumps up.

Oh if anyone is going to get a warm greeting it's Terrwyn, the Queen rising up in an instant as the woman comes in, her green gaze lighting up with adoration, "My sweet, you could never, ever interrupt or provide anything other than absolute delight in your very presence." Enveloping Terrwyn into her arms the Queen will give her a very strong, warm motherly hug, a kiss deposited on the womans cheek ever so lightly, "You are positively radiant, my lovely Terry, oh come, come, sit." Where the Queen was seated before she'll usher the woman over to the seat, "Take a moment of respite." The Queen will not take for an answer, calling out for tea as her hand soothes down the woman's shoulder gently. One of Laetitia's ladies will rise up and quickly cross the room to the queen who bends her head down to listen to the shorter brunette, "Ah - " A soft noise is made in her throat, "I see." A nod to those in the library, "It seems I am needed elsewhere at the moment, Terry, you can no doubt handle idle chatter?"

The Mist of the Island's gaze darts to the door when Terrwyn enters, moss green eyes lingering on that woman curiously for a moment. But instead of addressing the lady that is unknown to her as of yet, Emerit casts her brother a glance, waiting fot his reaction to the interruption. His order of one part wine, two parts water for her drink causes those youthful lips to be pushed forward in a pout. Yet Mantilo's remark about Terrwyn makes her gaze shift at once back to the noble lady. "Interested in meeting me?" she inquires, her demeanour lightening up with a voice as sweet as honey, and remembering her manners, the Bastard Princess rises again - useful exercise for one so young - and lowers herself into a curtsey. "Princess Emerit Moniwid. Pleased to make your acquaintance." As she does not blunder this time at all - the address is perfectly pronounced, as is the curtsey perfectly exercised - Emerit can't help but cast her brother a triumphant glance, hoping he will notice her improved behaviour. The queen's warm greeting to Terrwyn is observed with polite curiosity, while Emerit resumes her seat with the natural grace that she is known for.

Terrwyn hugs her aunt back warmly and there is nothing but affection on her face. "Your majesty I cannot." But the protest dies on her lips as she ushered to take a seat. "Thank you, you are kind, I feel like I could sleep another two weeks and still be seeking more sleep." She says this light heartily. "My beloved Aunt you know that I will and perhaps you and I could talk later and I can update you on anything that perhaps may transpire between us all." As she says this she looks between the Grand Duke and his Sister.

Then she answers the Grand Duke. "I would hope so, much to the chagrin of my poor sweet husband." This is said very sweetly by Terrwyn. Her nose twitches as she smells the heady scent of the wine. "But, here is my question to you both, what would I be supporting?" She asks him. "I never support anything blindly that leads to trouble down the road. One cannot shoot a bow without an arrow." She points out. "Nor can one slaughter a milking goat for meat if they will need milk later."

She then looks to the youngest of them all in this gathering, the princess. A smile is offered to her. "It is pleasure, I am Terrwyn Crawford, Duchess of Sutherland, I have heard much about. Your brother speaks highly of you and for that I have been eager to make your acquaintance."

Of course, the Grand Duke catches the triumphant glance of the Emerit, however, he just nods slightly, maybe even coolly. The reason for that is words of the Queen. She is leaving again and it looks like that royal people of these lands have no time for the guests or they even do not want to have time and are sending other people to deal with some kind of unheared island's Grand Duke. Yes, maybe it's just idle conversation, but still… Usually idle conversations lead to the massive agreements and strong alliances. These thoughts and a lot of others are shooted in the head of Mantilo and are distracting him from anything else around. All his sparkles slowly fades and man's gaze is thoughtfully fixed on the fire. However, all this thoughtfulness quite perfectly hides his irritation and maybe just his half-sister can guess, what troubles the Grand Duke. From his gaze, others could think, that he just waits, letting two women to enjoy each others company. Mantilo holds his head with the strong arm and actually, words from Terrwyn's lips reach the man not so clearly, but he manages to mumble "My lady, I was just repeating what the Queen said. I believe, she was waiting people to support her ideas… But I totally agree with you, my lady," eyes still are staring at the flames, a little bit idly now.

The servant is quick to return with the watered wine for Emerit, for which he receives a friendly smile. That smile fades a little as she shoots her brother another glance, at first perhaps, slightly reproachful, but then… she notices his state and turns her moss green eyes towards the queen and the duchess. "I understand, there needs to be time for idle talk and chatter and such… Yet, my brother, the Grand Duke would be delighted if you could discuss any possible alliances that surely will benefit both the realm and Rustles Island. Name a date and time, and you'll see he would be so delighted. Your highness. I understand your office puts you right into the center of requests from all sides, yet I feel it would not be prudent to put off this talk much longer. His Highness has been your guest for a long time already, and as grateful as we are for your hospitality, let us not forget for what purpose we have come here." Her cheeks are slightly rosy, as she feels herself that much at the center of attention, and leaning back in her seat Emerit falls silent, taking one sip after the other from her watered wine.

Laetitia hasn't left quiet yet, no indeed she will quickly bend down to murmur a few words to the Grand Duke, before she rises up apologetically, "My healer is still worried I may fall sick again if I am not careful. I will be back within an appropriate amount of time." And then she glides off and out, for tea and medicine and poking and prodding and arguments that lead to nowhere.

Rising from where she was seated she offers a curtsy to the Queen as she leaves to take her medication. Once she is done she goes to sit back down. "Arch Duke, I am very able to talk of many things and I have no issue in creating a lively discourse over different topics. If it alliances that you are thinking of, then I ask you this, what are you seeking from us? That is the best place to begin?" Terrwyn looks to the princess. "That was a very well said, especially for one so young. You have learned your lessons well your highness, and I pray you take this as praise and some slight for from it is praise."

Before the door can close from the queen's departure, Caedmon steps into the salon. He is carrying a simple clay cup in one hand and a wooden box of the kind that usually contains parchment, inkwell, and pens. A guard outside closes the door, and Caedmon bows to those who are still in the room. "Your highnesses, Lady Terrwin," he greets. "I am sorry that I did not arrive sooner." He finds a chair with a small table beside it, and settles there quickly, placing the cup on the table and the thin box in his lap.

When the half-sister of the grand Duke starts speaking so boldly as she would be the voice of the Grand Duke, as, for some reason, he wouldn't be able to handle some things himself, Mantilo glances at the girl with a slight rebuke, which is seen just for Emerit and warns her about future conversations.
However, at this moment Queen leans near the Grand Duke to whisper and all the irritation fades as the mist in the playful hands of the wind. Sparkling comes back to his dark gaze and Mantilo slowly, mannerly stands up on his feet, bowing to the Queen and placing a gentle peck on her ring again "Your Highness…" and the man takes his seat once more, sticking curious and joyfully idle look at the lady Terrwyn.
However, someone enters again. When people in the room start this political conversation, someone enters. That becomes a habbit. Grand Duke has to muffle the sound of his laugh once more. "Lord Chancellor," he utters, bowing his head "What are you up to, if I may ask?" a little bit confused Grand Duke glances at all the papers and pens, however, the guestion from Terrwyn's lips steals his attention. "Ahhh, my lady, straight to the point, yes? Well, all my wishes are about resources, of course. Our island is not so masisve, you know. We do not have mountains, so we do not have mines. We do not have enough land for horses' pastures…" thoughtfully drawls the Grand Duke, because it has to be just idle conversation. So, he takes some time for wine sipping.

Gnawing on her lower lip as she receives Mantilo's reproachful glance, the Mist of the Island shrugs with a stubborn flicker in her moss green eyes. Well, her fiery words seem to have had some impact after all! A content smile brushes over Emerit's young face as she notices the queen offering Mantilo a few whispered words that seem to leave him in a much better spirit. And even the Duchess of Sutherland has some words of praise for Emerit's speech. Caedmon's entrance is noticed and Emerit rises again - for what feels like the hundreth time today, yet she does her best to conceal that with the grace of her movements. "Chancellor. How delightful." A curious glance rests on the thin box in his hands. "Dreadful paper work, I assume? Pray tell me if my presence… our presence keeps you from the important duties of your office…" Not that she really expects him to speak it openly, if it should be the case.

Caedmon bows once more to the greetings. Looking purposefully to Emerit. He offers a warm smile to her and answers, "I am delighted to see you again as well, and your brother." He glances to the arch-duke, adding another bow for the large man. Then he glances to the case and shakes his head. "I am like a healer rarely without his tools and herbs, your highness," he explains. "I strive to be ready to write if the occasion requires it. However, like a healer, I hope fiat I will not need my tools."

Sipping from her cup, containing one part wine and two parts water, as her brother the Grand Duke had ordered so apprehensively, Princess Emerit Moniwid leans back in her seat, one hand idly playing with one of her fiery red locks, her gaze thoughfully shifting from Mantilo to Terrwyn and from there to Caedmon. Until she suddenly straightens her posture and puts the cup onto the table, as it is finally empty. "I fear I am a bit fatigued, your highness," she addresses Mantilo almost apologetically, "and before I commit any more blunders for today…" - that reproachful glare from before is not forgotten - "I need to retreat to my chambers for a bit of contemplation - and study of my books. So… I will leave you grown ups for a slightly more grown up conversation. Your Grace. Lord Chancellor." Emerit offers a curtsey, before she nods to them with a wink. And swift as a summer's breeze she rushes out of the room, her three guards doing their best to catch up with her.

Laetitia makes her way back in, ladies attending to her now bruised cheek, the Queen flinging her fingers around her face, "Ladies, ladies, please, sweet toes of Sess - it' s nothing. Now off, off, go play nice and leave me be." The last said with a commanding tone as the Queen forcibly removes one of the ladies off her who is sobbing into her skirts, "Dear Heavens, girl, get ahold of yourself and go - yes, go. I am not broken."

Grand Duke nods slightly at the Chancellor "Oh, healer. Now you are talking my language!" However, at this moment his beloved half-sister jumps on her feet and the Grand Duke does the same. While she is reporting about her fatigue, Mantilo places a kiss on her cheek and follows the girl out with a warm smile dancing on his face.

Though, quickly after that Mantilo tosses his look back to the lady Terrwyn, which was left here by the Queen to speak about alliance. His finger palms chin thoughtfully before the Grand Duke opens his lips to speak again, but is interrupted by the Queen, who comes back.

Mantilo raises again, even if it tires a lot today, however, manners are the most important thing in front of the woman. He bows for the Queen third time today and his low joyful voice ripples through the room "Right on time, Your Highness! We just started!" The Grand Duke slips back to cushion, waiting for the Queen to take a seat too. When she settles, Grand Duke starts whirling his golden pendant on a bared chest and continues:

"So, I mention resourses, but I believe, I should add. The most important reason, why we are here is…" man frowns slightly, likely, looking for the best way to explain everything "Well, we are the only one royal family in the island. Or I should say only one noble at all. So, for this reason, actually, the most important detail would be marriage. I have two sisters and one brother, who are old enough to get married, but we did not found a suitable match, because of my mentioned reason…" of course the Grand Duke politely forgets to mention himself, that he is a free bird too for now "So, we came to the main continent, to look for the possible political marriage, Your Highness. To strenghten our relations with noble houses in these lands…" Grand Duke gaze slips to the Chancellor for a moment, before gets back on the Queen. Man forgets the lady Terrwyn for now.

When the queen returns, Caedmon sites the thin writing trveling desk on the floor and stands, bowing to her. "Your majesty," he greets. Then he inclines his head toward Mantilo, and explains, "His highness was preparing to suggest an important that we should consider to form a lasting alliance with his lands." Then he turns to the arch-duke, and invites, "Your highness, would you care to explain that consideration to her majesty?"

"A marriage?" Is marriage ever anything but political? A glance will get slanted Caedmons way as the Queen sits a little straighter in her seat that she's taken up, wine taken from one of her ladies. As she's so old and frail she has to take a moment before raising it up to her lips elegantly because of the air required in her lungs. Delicately the goblet will get set down again on the side table, "So it is a marriage alliance you are seeking. I see. And you have been here a fair while, have there been any prospects you have found suitable for your siblings as of yet?" Oh, did you see. Her fair skin wrinkled a bit. EUGH. The poor Queen, she is aging before their very eyes, no doubt soon to take as sick as her poor husband and turn into a pile of dust next visit to her healer, "I could see a few prospects in my own mind .."

The Grand Duke nods his head at the Queen "Your Highness, I understand that young souls wants to love and be loved. However, our fathers and mothers were married without love, but found beauty in their partners and learned how to love…" he ches on his lip for a moment. Just to consider Queens questions and why she looked a little bit offended. However, after a quick glance to Caedmon, The Grand Duke continues "Well, betrothal may last years, that two people could know better their future partners. And I can assure you, Your Highness, that my sisters and brother are very good suitors. One is an artist, whose paintings already travels around the world. I brought some of them with me," the Grand Duke waves with his finger for one of the guards, and he leaves quickly. Obviously, to bring something "Another sister is incredibly clever woman and a master in my family court. Her marriage would be a little bit complicated, because we would love the man come to our lands, because we do not want to lose her knowledge. But we could assure the best position for her husband in court too. And my brother…" pride flashes in man's eyes "He is just twenty years old, but he is already the High Admiral and whole magnificent flee of our nation is in his hands," Grand Duke grins playfully "and of course, they all are very beautiful. Youth finds it important sometimes. However, I did not see or met a lot of people for now. So, I would love to hear your suggestions, Your Highness. All I want is agood person from a good family, because I can offer the same back."

Laetitia is most definitely not offended, that much is quite clear, "Oh love - that always comes in time." And if it doesn't, well, there are ways around that. She flicks her hand errantly, obviously not worried about that. Look at her and her husband! Not a good example, but look at them! No doubt they both have their dalliances on the side. Even love is not a guarantee of anything, but marriage- it solidifies alliances and that's all they're good for, "You know, I have young sons who no doubt would be suited to an alliance as such." The queen says slowly, green eyes again flickering to Caedmon, "No doubt, your Highness, you have heard of one of my sons marrying recently. I am not opposed to such alliance but ..given you do not wish to lose the position of your fair sister in court, would you be willing to bring her for a visit?" Glancing then to where his guards went she waits to see some of this art. And drinks her wine.

Caedmon remains quiet, listening to the interchange between Mantilo and the queen. When the arch-duke mentions his other sisters, and brother, the chancellor looks thoughtful. He nods to the queen when she asks about one or all of the siblings visiting. "Even in marriages to seal an alliance, you should know as soon as possible whether a match might succeed," he mentions, and he glances toward the door, curious to see what the arch-duke has sent a guard to fetch. It could be art. It could be one of the siblings who came. After all, the arch-duke and his sister arrived suddenly in the late evening and without warning.

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