Inouv 20, 228: Luncheon Politics

Luncheon Politics
Summary: Roslin invites Ronan to lunch to give her report on her visit to the Kundari Suite. They discuss politics and marriage alliances over a meal, but they do not fully see eye to eye in the end. Yes, more discussion of the Kundari.
OOC Date: 09/12/2013 (OOC)
Related: Cools His Heels
Roslin Ronan 
Roslin's Chambers, Darfield Castle
Use your imagination! Its a lady's chamber with a public room in the front of her suite to see guests.
Inouv 20th, 228

As arranged, Roslin has invited the Lord Ronan Crawford to her room for mid-day meal. Granted, being invited to her rooms is hardly a scandalous invitation - it is known that Roslin's rooms have been separated to create an office and meeting space for her. A fireplace, cozy chairs, a table and more sturdy chairs, tapestries and a few books are all that appear on the near-side of the large floor-to-ceiling curtain that hides te rest of her chambers. She is there too, sitting at the table that has been set nicely with some manner of pheasant, freshly roasted, with vegetables. There's a pitcher with warm mulled wine too. She sits with a straight, high back, sipping her own cup as she chats lightly with her maid. Today she wears a favored ochre dress, pressed with gold leaves and vines. The bodice and underskirt are gold too, woven with little freshwater pearls. Her jewlery is also typical - a crown of braids with a gold tiarra nestled there and a necklace of a gold eight-pointed star, a constant reminder of her faith and love for the Gods. A guest expected as Ronan is will be shown in easily and immediately, and for him the Princess will rise and nod in respectful greeting.

Alas, he is dressed in his usual blues, having to spend most of his morning on business of the dutchy and accepting petitioners for audience. Therefore the invitation is a nice break. Ronan arrives as precisely on time as a man reasonably can, waiting to be announced and passed through. His squire does not attend him this noon hour but another, older man who looks to be a commoner man servant. The same who accompanied the Duke to the party at the Mowbray estate.

The Sutherlander Rioga stops and bows his head to Roslin, fist briefly laid to heart, "Good day, your Highness. It seems you lay a most excellent repast. Nonetheless, I've had Rosley here bring a bottle of Sutherland white, should you care to accept it." Roslin need not open it today, but a guest should not arrive empty handed.

Ronan then removes his cloak to hand it over to Rosley and to take the bottle of wine to offer it to Roslin - with both hands of course.

Roslin accepts the bottle with both hands, regally as she has been raised to do. She could be accepting a septre, a necklace, or some other great diplomatic gift. "You are too kind, Lord Ronan. I thank you for this lovely gift." She nods once again, respectfully, before turning to hand the item off to her maid who bustles to put it away. If Ronan looks at the lady's face, she has quit a smile there. It is one of her mischevious smiles, that he may not know being fairly unfamiliar with the girl. "Please, My Lord. Be seated and join me. I hope the day finds you well and that my invitation was not too inconvenient." She moves to sit after the invitation is offered, her maid hurrying over to slice up a bit of the bird for each of them.

"No inconvenience whatsoever, your Highness. Good to escape my office. Paperwork and politics are important but they are not my best points and often find them tedious." Ronan moves to accept the seat, mindful not to let his spurs catch and scar up Roslin's chair legs. That would be terribly rude of him. Aye, he notices her smile. Even if he does not know how to read her well yet, the smile can't be missed all the same. Nor her easy grace. The Duke watches her and then draws his gaze away from Roslin to anything else. Watch the handmaiden for a moment.

"I appreciate your taking the time to see me today. I do not doubt there is an endless line of people trying to get your assistance to see your father, now the King is returned. I hear also there was a Laniveer ship that ran aground somewhere to the west and coming to Darfield under flag of truce?" Ronan lifts a dark brow as he looks back to Roslin, "That promises to be interesting." He skips a beat before he adds, "I have been to speak with the Kundari here at the castle."

"Indeed? And are you to be congratulated for an up comming announcement?" That mischevious smile grows and grows. "Really, My Lord - you ought to simply have told me the reason for your interest in the Kundari Princess. Did you think I would not know of it rather quickly?" She chuckles at that, apparently just amused by the whole thing. A sip of wine is taken - delicious, the spiced mulled wine. A favorite of the Princess who does not prefer Chocola, finding it too sweet. She sets the cup down and lays her hands across her lap, looking to Ronan's face with an ease and comfort. "I did speak to her, as you desired, and I have an opinion on the whole business if you wish to hear it. But that may be after, I daresay. Please, go on and tell me about your meeting with the Kundari. As for the Lanniveer ship - well, I suppose we will see. I have my doubts that what they intend to say will be worth the time it takes to hear them, but over the past year I have made a habit of finding the less promising outcome of a situation and believing it to be fact."

Ronan's hint of scowl gives him away, "I don't know, your Highness. It was never my intention to so much as share a word with the Kundari Prince and Princess, but …. your father has put me to it. King Callem can put a man's loyalty to the test when he cares to do so." Most any trace of the Duke's former good mood is now damped, trying not to let annoyance or anger color his tone. Rosley steps forward as discreetly as he may once a cup of wine has been poured for Ronan. The man servant picks up the cup and tastes of it, though surely there is no doubt of the wine's safety since Roslin is drinking of it herself. He does his job and doesn't wait, setting the cup down at the Duke's sleeve. Ronan glances up and waves him off, "Not here, Rosley. You may go."

The man servant looks rather taken aback. A look between his lord and the Princess, then back again. Rosley bows, "As you wish, Your Grace." He goes to remove himself quietly.

Ronan picks up the cup of warmed wine, shifts his jaw before he gives answer, "They were polite enough in a not very stimulating way. Princess Nima is at least fair upon the eye, but she's still a Kundari. There is a great deal of … animosity between them and Sutherland. None of which I am keen to brush under the carpet, so to speak. However, if I should choose to please the King, rather than rake your sire's ire, the Kundari have told me they have /nine/ Laniveer war ships they may be willing to give in dowry." Now he tastes the wine.

Roslin's smile remains, but the nature of it changes. It becomes softer, more sympathetic. "I am sure my father has no doubts of your loyalty. No doubt, with the lack of suitable children to offer in this marriage, he has selected you for the great respect he bears you and your house." She nods reassuringly as her maid sets out a plate for her and then one for the duke before fading back by the fire to sit and embroider, quiet but constant. "But I understand that this position must be extremely difficult for you. Enough to know that I cannot possibly comprehend just how difficult it must be. I consider it a testament to your strength as a leader and your loyalty to my family that you handle this so well." She gives him a reassuring nod and a slightly brighter smile of encouragement before lifting her fork and knife. A small bit of bird is speared on the prongs and she daintily lifts it to her mouth, slipping it between her lips. She does not rush, rather pausing the entire conversation to enjoy the bite before speaking again. "Would such a fleet be enough to compensate you for a union to a Kundari princess such as this one?"

"The King is well aware of the hostility between Sutherlanders and the Kundari. They caused the death of my lady mother. My own father would be livid, Princess. I hardly think it is a gesture of respect your father pays my House." Ronan's dark eyes are upon Roslin, not pleased. His gaze drops to the plate when she goes on about him taking it so well.

His own utensils are picked up. It looks to be a simple, one course meal and that suits him fine. A bit of the meat for himself as well to taste of it, a healthier portion than the Princess daintily chooses. It is flavourful and tender, more so for the lateness of the season.

A taste of wine to clear his mouth, "Mmmmm… depends on the quality of the ships and crews. But it would buy Sutherland a greater security of our coasts than we have ever had, assuming I do not have to give too many of them over to the Naval forces for the coming efforts." Ronan's gaze comes back up to watch Roslin, holding his tongue when he wishes to hear what she has learned. He will bide his patience until the meal is finished and aye, pheasant isn't to be rushed, it is to be enjoyed.

Roslin enjoys a bit of carrot, a slight bite of potato. "Would your people accept such a union? I understand the ships would offer your shores security, and perhaps that would be enough for those you rule. But it was a point of personal curiosity if you believe they would accept a Kundari Princess as the Duchess Sutherland," Roslin says, lifting her eyes to the man once more. Some might consider her forthrightness a bit too masculine for a lady. It's not just her words, but how she meets the eyes, unabashed and unblushing. How she speaks so carelessly about matters beyond most female sensitivities. And yet, she is so very unassuming about all of it.

Especially for her very young years. Ronan has noticed, meeting her eyes but he is the one who breaks that contact. He is worried about how his people would take such a marriage alliance. He frowns, takes his time to reply by eating some of the meal, not avoiding those vegetables, bread and any cheese too if it's on the table. When his mouth is clear, the Duke gives her reply, "My people will /have/ to accept it, in time, if I choose to give in to the King's wishes in this matter. I have not yet decided." A touch of frown before he picks up his wine again, "The King and Queen expect their answer very soon. So I am keen to hear your thoughts, impressions of them."

Though he's supposed to wait until after the meal, Ronan almost growls, "Did they ply her brother, Prince Altar, upon you, your Highness?" Surely it's NOT his place to ask but this Duke is bold that way.

Roslin chuckles, taking another small bite of meat. It doesn't take long to chew or swallow, as she takes such tiny bites. Princess, after all. "No, as a matter of fact, My Lord. They did not. It was the younger brother, Dastan," She lets the point settle as she sips her wine, eyes still watching him as she sips as if something about that is terribly funny. Once the cup is lowered, she continues to speak. "The Princess indicated that she was going to put forward a proposal for my hand with her younger brother, Daltan, to my father. So perhaps you would then be saved from making a decision altogether. Although, before you dare to hope too much for such an outcome, I must say that it is unlikely my father would accept for numerous reasons. Not because he thinks it beneath us, surely but …" She struggles for a moment to consider what should be said. "I have reason to believe there may be other plans, even discussions for me."

She takes another bite of her food. "As for the Princess, I found her pleasant and not unclever. She does suspect that you may be recommended as a potential match to her, though what led her to that supposition I do not know. I sang your praises, naturally, and she was impressed appropriately. She is not so uncouth as to ignore the difficulties between your lands and hers. In fact, she spoke quite honestly on the matter. Honestly … given the circumstances. They claim innocence due to internal politics and pressures from the Laniveer at the times when Kundari ships were doing their damage. Our country's policy is to accept their words in this but such actions are often the result of many factors. Being a Princess and an ambassador, I do not think she is terribly aware of any other impetus behind the attacks other than what she stated, or if she does she has been taught not to believe them. It is no different than my understanding of my own realm, which is likely too rosy when compared to the truth. We women are such fragile creatures, after all."

A huff of breath at Roslin's last. "Women /can/ be but I've heard of many a woman who's born pain and suffering better than some men under my command." It's neither here or there, really. Ronan finishes off his plate and dabbing his mouth once with the napkin, he could probably devour at least two more plates with the hard workouts he applies himself to for hours each day in the afternoons. Instead, he merely indicates that he would care for another glass of wine.

"The youngest?!" The Duke is surprised, "Not the heir?" No telling if that one is married already. The Rioga knight starts to say something else as concerns Roslin's prospects, but he checks himself. It shouldn't be something he'd comment upon, but Ronan says cautiously, "Your father said the King of Jadda wasn't interested in a marriage with House Kilgour. And frankly, I do not think Jadda is worth a Kilgour daughter. Even the Kundari are more civilized. No, for you I will hope … for for at least a Laniveer prince."

A good sized drink of the wine. The Duke leans back in his chair and studies Roslin, "I know my tongue is too bold, your Highness. For the sake of Mobrin, as well as for you and your House, there are far better choices than Jadda."

At last that mischief falls from Roslin's eyes. She seems surprised, taken aback for a moment. "The God-King refused?" She asks, a little more quietly than perhaps she intended. It takes a few more moments for the woman to collect herself. "I see. Forgive me, I had not heard - I have not had the opportunity for a quiet word with Father since his return. He has been so busy, particularly with the new babe…" She sips her own wine, while her maid is quick to refresh both cups. "As I understand it, the heir to Kundari is already wed," she says, quickly moving the subject back. "As is the heir to the Stewart family. There are already people who anticipate an attempt at an alliance with the Stewarts through a marriage by me. In truth, I do not know that it could be. They, after all, have no princes. They are usurpers to a Laniveer throne. I am a Princess not only of Mobrin but of Laniveer." She sips her wine again, setting it aside so she can continue to speak. "It would require my father to relinquish his claim to the Laniveer throne. I do not know that to be likely at all. And even if he did, I believe we would want to be tied to the ruling bloodline directly. It would allow us to renew our claim in the future - and more directly. Perhaps … if the heir has a son already, he might be betrothed to my new sister. As for me?" The Princess sighs a little. "I am afraid I do not know what shall happen to me. Perhaps, My Lord, your Kundari problem will be solved after all."

Ronan grows silent as he watches Roslin. It is his turn to be sympathetic, though it is not easy to read in his eyes as it is not really an emotion he expresses well. And very rarely. His mouth is a hard line as he listens. When she is finished, Ronan offers low, "Even if they be pretender princes, such things may be arranged all the same if things go ill for us in the coming years, your Highness." A pause ere he continues, "I thought surely you'd been told. It is best if no one learns you found out from me. Your father would be wroth with me." His tone suggests he would weather it but why borrow trouble?

The cup of wine is finished off, his second. Ronan licks his lips and turns the cup idly in his large hand, "If my brother and my sister had not already … muddied things between our Houses, I might have hoped for a Kilgour bride myself. But the King has nothing to gain by that. He is running out of children, even with a new daughter."

That said, the Duke gets himself up out of the chair and clasping his hands loosely behind his back, he turns and takes a few steps. "Even if you were married to a Kundari Prince, if I refuse, your father made it very plain House Crawford will not remain in his good graces, Princess."

Roslin smiles graciously for his sympathetic look. "Your secret is safe with me, your Grace. What are friends for if not for such confidences as these?" She glances downward again, at her hands clasped on her lap. The mention of a possible Crawford tie with the Kilgours makes her smile a bit more. "My family is as much responsible for the muddying of our relations as much as yours, sir. I must confess we children of Laetitia and Callem have not lived up to the standards of greatness set out by our parents. It is a terrible shame. Two odd marriages, and now a daughter rejected. I must confess I am not used to such slights. I find them … odd and unwelcome, if I must be frank." Her eyes move with him, now, as he is up and pacing. "I cannot imagine that my father would view it as such. But perhaps there is another alternative to all this. It would require you to marry, but it would offer you a marriage with more naval opportunties and remove another foreign power from my father's concern for awhile." She waits to see how the news would sit with him.

He turns when he comes near to her fire where Roslin's handmaiden sits. Her he does not crowd, leaning an arm against the mantle at the further side from her as he half turns to look back to Roslin. "I think your father's words were .. something like the King of Jadda was not receptive at this time but that does not mean he won't change his mind if his own fight with the Laniveer does not go as he wishes." Nonetheless Ronan frowns, not liking the idea of her being sent there, to them.

He turns his head to watch the flames consuming the logs in the fire, feeling it's warmth. "The Princess Morella Sherer, or one of the Moniwid's, perhaps." The Rioga Duke is careful not to mention the threats the King made rather plain if Ronan bulked his authority in the marriage alliance. "Either way, Sutherland must get ships. The Crown Prince has made it plain the navy can spare no more to protect our trade or our keeps."

"We are surrounded by snakes, this winter," Roslin says, and she herself does not sound terribly pleased by the idea. "They seem to have nothing but ships to offer and boast of the fact. But I confess I have been exceptionally impressed with the Grand Duke's half-sister. A bastard Princess, legitimized, it has … potential." Roslin rises, moving over near to where the Duke stands. Her hands fold in front of her. "The Grand Duke is determined to fit royal blood to his family. We have none to offer, save myself, that would suite, but Father seems against that idea. I cannot lie and say I am not pleased by that. I do not think we could make an offer between yourself and his legitimate sisters, when it is royal blood he seeks. But his half-sister … that would be respectable for you and her, it would tie your house to a great naval state and no doubt come with ships. Besides that, the girl is pretty enough, quiet and supportive and intelligent." She pauses there, looking over him and awaiting his response. She speaks candidly - another masculine quality.

That's the first he's heard one of the Moniwid's is supposedly a legitimized bastard, and then Roslin's suggesting /that/ one might be a good fit in marriage to himself?!? A touch of color rises in his face and it's not embarrassment, no. Quite the opposite. Ronan's temper flares, stiffens his back. But he carefully keeps is voice quite low, lower even than before, "You suggest I marry this turncoat Grand Duke's /bastard/ sister?" He is trying not to be livid, closing his mouth lest he say something Ronan would surely regret. And especially to her.

Instead, he opens his mouth, then closes it without saying a word. A pause to master himself and say politely enough, "No, your Highness. I may prefer the Kundari." A look back to the table, "Thank you for the invitation to share lunch. I think it is time for me to go, your Highness."

"Don't be absurd," Roslin says, apparently not giving him leave to … well, leave. "I had a suspicion you might react that way. It was a suggestion - not an ideal one, I grant you. But one that might have seen you out of the Kundari situation if that proved to be more unappetizing for you." She goes back to her seat, lifting the cup to take another sip. She speaks with a bit of a lower tone, indicating her sincerity. "I think very highly of you, My Lord. As highly as I do of anyone here at court. You know I do not wish to offend or insult you in any way. I merely offer suggestions." She sips her wine again, sitting back in her chair.

"I proposed that as a viable alternative, in father's eyes, that would not upset that Moniwid Duke. But perhaps I should not be so quick to try and tempt you elsewhere - doing so only dooms me to a life tied to the young Kundari prince. And I must say he was … exceedingly childish." She laughs a little, at that. "Gods be good, it was as though the man were a boy of 10 at our feet, bored of women's talk and aching to go out and play swords. And yet … perhaps that will be my fate. At least, if that is the case, it will save you from yours. Is that not comforting, in some way?"

A nice, hard grip on that anger to smother it. But he looks intent to depart now. Ronan picks up his cloak that Rosely left draped over a chair for him and spreads it over his wide shoulders, silvery wolf fur thick and pale against the deep blue wool. Ronan stops to watch her and draws a slow, deep breath, "No. Enough insults to my House, what's left of it. Perhaps I have too much pride and the Gods desire to humble Sutherland, I know not. It will not break us." Stubbornly he fastens the golden horses clasp of his cloak.

He has been entirely too candid with her, lulled into dropping his guard in Roslin's presence. "I think you shall not have to marry a Kundari boy. May the gods not be so cruel unto you."

To the door he turns. Ronan opens it, about to depart with or without Roslin's leave to do so. He's of an ill mood and like to go and take it out with steel upon the practice dummies or some other knight for a while.

"My Lord." Roslin says, and there is a stunning amount of command in her voice. "You do not have my leave to depart." She reminds him, with steel of her own. She rises, standing as tall and proud and even haughty in the center of the room. Her maid, seated as she was, seems tense. Roslin, in the meantime, waits with unhappy eyes as she looks to the man to see what he does now.

The Duke of Sutherland stops, one hand on the door and it partly open. He stopped at 'My Lord' ever before she goes on to the rest. Even a dark brow started to be lifted and then Ronan's gaze hardens. There is a painfully obvious moment that even an idiot can tell he's seriously tempted to disobey her and walk on out. Extremely tempting, especially in light of the recent conversation with her father.

But no. Ronan closes the door softly without banging it and leans against the door jam to face Roslin, folding his arms across his chest. His jaw set, he says nothing at all and waits, watching her with dark eyes that dares men to fight him. Roslin however, is something else entirely.

Roslin moves quickly, her steps bringing him in front of the man. She's flaming mad - flaming Kilgour mad. Her maid is on her feet, watching the whole exchange rather concerned-like. And Roslin? Well, she takes the dare in stride. She does not back down from the man so much more her size. She does not behave as though she is afraid. Simply furious. "I have just found out that the savages of Jadda will not have me," She explains, coldly. "So you do not need to speak to me of pride, sir. Not at all." She continues to stare him down. "I am your ally in this, Your Grace. If it is in my power, I would see you through this - because your family has been so loyal and good. And that loyalty has been rewarded - a marriage for your sister to my brother. A marriage for your brother to my cousin, she who was known as daughter and sister in my family." She makes a scoffing sound and steps away from him, her hands trembling, before spinning on him again. "Gods be good, sir - I would be your friend in this if you would let me. But if your pride is so great that you need none, walk out again without my leave and I swear that I shall consider you in need of the assistance of no man or woman, least of all me." And then she stares. Glares, rather. And waits.

Oddly enough, he's not angry now, watching her temper flare. Ronan relaxes rather than tensing further. "Aye, your father said as much of Terrwyn. She was a good woman and made my brother very happy." He thins is mouth a little, "And it's true, your family could have cast away my sister for what she did with your brother, rather than allow them to marry. I should be thankful for that as well." The Duke shifts his jaw, "I don't /need/ your help in these matters, Princess Roslin. Though I have sought it and appreciate your concern. I am, I think, bluntly put, too fond of you. It loosens my tongue more than I should let it, for good or ill."

His voice is quite low. A rumble that is not quite a bass with only enough volume for her to catch his words if she's quiet. Ronan shifts his jaw as he watches her, "I would rather retain your friendship than not. For that reason, you should let me depart." Now it's his turn to await what Roslin might say, "I ask you."

Of course she hears him - she's been hanging on his words, waiting for his answer. She hears it through the blood pounding in her ears, and though he calms himself, her temper remains. She steps toward him again. "Do not fear your fondness for me, Your Grace, nor your tongue in my presence. If we are friends, then there is no reason to. But …" Her voice darkens a bit. "I will charge you with a duty to remember that your family has been blessed with prosperous marriages through mine above any other house in the realm. If my father or I ever meant to lower your family in any way, this would not be so." She steps back, still facing him, and after a long moment she gives him a low nod. "You are dismissed, Lord Sir Ronan." She is still fairly angry by the look of her.

There may still be some anger in him at her words, chastising himself. He holds his gaze upon her, waiting and makes no interruption whatsoever, standing like a stone. "Hmmmm…." is his only reply. The Rioga drops his folded arms and meeting Roslin's gaze purposefully a bit longer, seems perhaps to flaunt taking his time to depart now she's dismissed him. If only briefly, or maybe he likes seeing her temper up. It makes Roslin's eyes flash and her face flushed. One corner of his mouth curls faintly, almost a smile. And then he turns and opens the door, stepping out. The door may or may not close behind him.

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