Laurent Family Dinner
July 12, 2018, 8:30 p.m.
Arx - Ward of House Valardin - Laurent Manse - Main Hall
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Octavian, a silken spaniel, Ian arrive, following Zoey.
A family dinner! One of the larger banquet tables has been pulled into the center of the room with chairs arranged around it. The food is spread down the middle. A roast turkey! Potatoes! All sorts of cheeses with honey for drizzling and dips! Ale, wine and milk. But not all mixed together. Cristoph is situated by the head of the table, but he hasn't taken a seat just yet. Winter is still marching on, even if it's at the end. It refuses to give up its last lingering holds. The hearth is lit and flames jump cheerfully. He leans his hand against the mantel as he regards a recent missive, rubbing his forehead.
13 King's Own Guardsmen, Zelda, the royal messenger arrive, following Alaric.
Norwood drifts in shaking his head at SOMETHING and then looking about will make his way to Cristoph's side. "That does not at all look like you have any interest in relaxing." There is a small shove when Norwood reaches out to Cristoph.
Cassandra walks in with purpose. It's as if she's got places to go and very important people to see. Or maybe that's how she just walks? She spots Cristoph and Norwood near the mantle, and starts in that direction.
Jael emerges from the living area of the Manse, patting lightly at her elaborately braided hair. "Ooooh, cheese." She's all set to go over and do some damage to it when Cassandra enters and she stops short, blue eyes widening a little. "Cass! I didn't know you were coming tonight!"
Alaric strolls in, just a stitch fashionably late of course. "Good evening, everyone!" he declares warmly as his retinue unbotrusively disperses into a watchful posture. "Delighted to be able to represent the wayward monarchical cousin branch of the family tonight," he enthuses.
Zoey enters by Ian's side, their pace a slower one and marked by the clicking of Ian's cane. Zoey pauses to allow someone to take her cloak and satchel, revealing a strapless sapphire blue silk gown complete with gold-set sapphire jewelry. The woman allows her eyes to travel around the room before she spots Cristoph and Norwood. There's a smile of recognition, a quiet word to her husband, and then she gestures for the pair to head in that direction.
Ian watches his feet as he walks more or less with Zoey. Which is to say -- he's walking beside her, but because he's marking his own footsteps so carefully, there's less of a sense than there might normally be of two people going somewhere together. This effect is heightened by the fact that she's looking well put together in silk, and he's wearing his usual beat up double breasted leather coat.
"Oh, well. The exciting news never seems to wait until after dinner, does it?" Cristoph comments to Norwood with a quirky smile. He leans in briefly to murmur something to him before straigtening. It's just in time to see various guests enter the room. "Hello! Everyone, including our royal cousin!" He smiles a bit more openly at the guests and pushes off of the mantle. "Thank you for joining us. Everyone is welcome to take a seat, please." When Zoey and Ian enter, he offers them a quick wave from his position. "I'm glad that you were able to make it, Lady Zoey. And Lord Ian."
Alaric takes a seat as bidden with a personable smile for everyone. "So nice to see so many familiar faces again tonight. Lady Jael, Blessed Cassandra, hello again. And Lady Zoey, Lord Ian, and Sir Norwood, good to see you again as well," he declares regally as he settles in. "Well now, how have things been? You all must be looking forward to the upcoming Assembly and House Keaton's application to become House Laurent's newest March vassals."
Zoey smiles warmly at Cristoph and curtsies, though the depth of the obeisance seems to indicate that it is meant as much for Alaric and Cassandra as for Cristoph. She rises and heads towards the table with Ian. "Thank you again for the invitation, Duke Cristoph. I'm certain we wouldn't have missed it." She takes her seat, adjusting her skirts comfortably.
Norwood listens to that whisper and shakes his head slowly at whatever it is that Cristoph says. "Of course. Why would that kind of thing wait." Sarcasm ALL OVER the place as Norwood turns to make his way to the table. He's nice enough to pull out Jael and Cassandra's chairs for them, as a nice halfway point between himself and Cassandra walking forward. "Lady Cassandra, we don't see nearly enough of you, it is too to have you."
"Surprise." Cassandra says in a deadpan to Jael before starting towards her younger sister. The arrival of Zoey and Ian earns a nod of greeting. Alaric gets a respectful bow of the head, "Your Majesty." When Norwood pulls out her chair she smiles in a manner that would probably be described as faint on most others, but is big for her. "Sir Clement. That's the truth, isn't it?" She sits down.
If Cassandra permits, Jael bestows an Artshall-style air kiss to her elder sister's cheek, then there's a little bow to Alaric since for who-knows-why she's worn her armor to dinner. "Your Majesty Cousin, so good of you to come. And Cousin Zoey, Lord Ian, welcome." Norwood's being all chivalric, so she drops daintily into the offered chair with a smile of thanks to the knight.
:takes his seat and is just reaching for his glass when Alaric speaks on the Keatons. He begins to quietly laugh, "And on that note, one of our announcements tonight is that House Keaton will be petitioning to become our newest March. They've done a lot of expanding within the last year or two and are well beyond county at this point." A spoon is tapped against the side of his glass as kind of ringing endorsement before he takes a drink from it.
Ian seems to be letting Zoey take the lead on all things, tonight -- or as many things as is possible, anyway. He inclines his upper body over his cane a half a beat after Zoey curtsies, and there's a definite sense that he's watching her, trying to take his social cues from someone who knows what they're doing. He has the faint look of someone who's pretty sure he's going to manage to accidentally break something before the night is done.
Norwood will settle in his own seat (and he totally bowed to the king at some point back up there) and smile as Cristoph announces the Keaton petition. They've got this knight's unimportant support."
Alaric laughs lightly. "Oh dear, I've stolen a march on that announcement, have I?" he observes brightly. "How unbecoming for a dinner guest! Terribly sorry about that." He reaches for his wine with an impishly rueful look. "House Keaton's quite the credit to the Compact, I have to say. I've been very impressed with not only their initiative but their results. I'm sure they'll make superlative vassals."
"Was that meant to be a pun?" Jael asks the King earnestly before making herself comfy in her chair, roast chicken and cheese and wine before her.
"Minister Haramus always told me that admitting to punning is against royal protocol," Alaric quips serenely.
"Completely alright." Cristoph replies with a grin, taking a careful sip from his glass of wine. "They are. Both of them embody the Oathlands spirit, I look forward to working with them more closely in the future. We all do, I'm sure." He cuts a glance to Jael and passes one of the serving plates down the line. Apparently any and all announcements will be held as food and drinking happens. Efficient! "Speaking of vassals. We've made the decision to carve out Duskshire Keep and the lands around it and form it into a barony. It's possible it was one once, decades past. So we're really returning it to its former state. Sir Norwood will be taking it on, making him a baron. And making me the next topic of the white journals as I'm scolded by the peerage." There's a decidedly rueful smile for the table as he takes a long drink from his glass.
Zoey smiles at Ian and takes his hand briefly as they're seated. Of the pair, she is clearly more comfortable at this gathering than her husband. She accepts a glass of wine and sips quietly at it while listening... Then there's news of the old man's impending title, and she brightens demonstrably. "Oh, Sir Norwood!" she exclaims softly. "That's wonderful news. I can think of no one more deserving, surely."
Cassandra does permit Jael's airkisses, and returns them before sinking into her seat. She glances to Alaric when he spills the beans about the Keatons. She listens with vague curiosity as the Keatons are discussed, but seems more interested in the chicken. Christoph's announcement involving Duskshire Keep and Clement draws a smile to her lips, however. "That's fantastic news. Congratulations, Sir Clement. Or should we say Baron now?"
Ian ends up with the same kind of wine that Zoey is drinking (see a pattern here?). "Congratulations," he says to Norwood.
Jael gives Alaric a narrow side-eye and taps her temple in understanding, then breaks into a wide smile as the announcements go on. She lifts her wineglass to Norwood when the plans for the Sword of Artshall are announced.
Norwood had JUST taken a bite of chicken - a really big bite when Cristoph says that aloud. It was unexpected and Norwood puts his hand on his mouth to hide the fact that he HAD just taken too much. Lots of chewing has to go on before Norwood can clear his mouth enough to attempt a careful, "My thanks." Nice, simply, and two words that cannot get him in trouble. (Whisper Lessons Paying Off.)
Alaric applauds lightly for Norwood. "Congratulations, Sir Norwood! Establishing this barony is a necessary step in laying the groundwork for our goal of a peaceful and secure Arvum. It will be a great challenge but I am sure you are up to it," he declares before giving Cristoph a sympathetic look. "The Peerage -is- rather traditional, and they've had rather a lot of change to deal with as of late. It does not seem to be one of those quiet eras of history that we are currently living in, needless to say."
Zoey murmurs something quietly to Ian, motioning at his satchel with one slender finger.
Cristoph watches Norwood sharply and manages to surpress some laughter. He's happy with warm reception in the room and breathes a little easier. "Indeed. And with the recent rash of ennobling commoners, I suspect that we may hear a bit more about this one. But it's unavoidable and I can't think of another person that I would trust with the Duskshire at this time. My plan is to simply accept any and all reactions tactfully, it will all pass." Then he gestures back to the hallways, "Also, Eadric has just turned one. So happy birthday to the heir of Artshall. He went to bed early because he has a late winter cold."
Ian gets Exclusive Bottle of Raconteur's Implicit Connections from Aged Satchel.
Reedy, a King's Own aide arrives, following Corban.
Norwood drops a pair of duke leather boots.
Jael drops sweet wildflower honey.
"Ah, that's too bad," Alaric observes, keeping the streak of sympathy directed at Cristoph going. "I do hope the lad gets well soon." He glances to Norwood and the table at large. "Well then, what can you tell me about this Duskshire Keep?" he asks curiously.
Norwood picks up a pair of duke leather boots.
"Sir Clement has more than earned the honor," Jael says with a stubborn set to her jaw, though she's pretty much preaching to the choir. But another smile breaks through, for Eadric's birthday. "I got Baby Eddie a cake. I'll help him eat it tomorrow."
Jael picks up sweet wildflower honey.
Cristoph gestures to Norwood when Alaric asks his question, let the baron-to-be explain Duskshire. Also, "How big is the cake?"
Knight Lieutenant Corban is here everyone! It's Corban! But he is on duty apparently for he is in his armor and is chatting quietly with the head of the King's patrol before nodding and taking over for him. He then wanders over to the Royal Chair, looming. Knightingly.
"Very big. Very sugary," Jael tells her brother with a toothy smile.
Zoey murmurs something quietly to one of the servants and they nod, departing. A few minutes later, they return with Zoey's satchel, from which she procures a bottle. She sets it calmly on the table as the servant (with Zoey's satchel) departs. "Perhaps this would be a fitting time," the Kennex lady says quietly, "to give our gift to the household. Whiskey barrel-aged cognac. It's not mulled wine, but there's very few bottles of this in Arvum. If any of you imbibe, it is as fine a celebratory drink as any." She hands it to a butler to take to Cristoph while she focuses on Norwood's answer to Alaric's question.
"One already?" Cassandra asks, and she shakes short-shorn head softly in disbelief. Her gaze goes to Norwood as Cristoph suggests he describe Duskshire, and she pours herself some cider to have a drink while she listens.
Ian continues to be quiet and (by the looks of him) try really hard not to break anything. He is listening, though; his intense blue eyes fix on people as they speak.
Each of those who express their support get an appreciate smile from the Norwood, before he refocuses on Alaric. Corban gets a glance and a smile also, but question to answer! "There is not quite much to say of it right now. The Keep itself is in passing good repair, a testament to those who originally built it. The gate, of course, has to be replaced as it was destroyed when we retook the keep." Everyone cares about details like that, right?! "The lands themselves are good, with farmland that is simply begging for the plow in the upcoming season, as well as strong sources of water and lumber for rebuilding. I'm afraid we will rely rather heavily on Artshall for a while." That's a wistful smile as Norwood faces reality of the little barony-to-be. "I expect that we'll be tested quite a bit till we can make it clear that Duskshire is to not be an object of contest any more."
As Norwood gets underway with his explanation to the King, Cristoph is accepting the bottle passed along to him by one of the servants. "Oh, /thank you/, Lady Zoey. This is excellent, I think that we'll open it tonight. Yes." At which point it's passed back to the servant, who opens the bottle up and begins to pour it for anyone that would like to enjoy it with dinner. "And yes, he is one already. And Jael, no! Don't give him a giant sugar filled cake." Please. Please.
"It's a common experience among new baronies reclaimed in similar ways," Alaric muses. "You can generally rely on an excellent site despite the disrepair; after all, it was a thriving keep in the past, clearly, so there's likely no terrain-related reason it couldn't become so again. But, oaths of fealty are expressly for these purposes, to help stand in during a time of need. A new barony is always vulnerable in some way; whether to crop underperformance, banditry, or the like. Rare is the one that doesn't have need of support in its nascent years past the founding."
Zoey smiles warmly at Cristoph and nods. "You're quite welcome," she replies. Gift giving done, she leans back in her chair and starts listening again. Corban is greeted with a small, though still kind, smile before she looks back to Norwood. "Forgive my ignorance on the matter," she says quietly, "but has Duskshire changed hands often?"
Jael lifts a hand briefly to indicate to the servant tasked with the bottle that she's going to enjoy some whiskey with dinner. "Thank you Lady Zoey, Lord Ian." Then she looks at Cristoph, seemingly baffled by his plea.
Corban turns his head when he hears of the reclaimation process underway, the former Voice of Telmar plainly curious in the matter. He does not say anything, instead opting for a slightly inclined head.
Alaric gets a nod from Norwood for his musings. "Knowing that Artshall has is in it for the long run is a comfort. If we cannot make it within my lifetime, then perhaps the generation after." Norwood's in this new Baron thing for the LONG HAUL. He takes some of the drink getting passed around with quiet thanks before turning to Zoey. "Yes, unfortunately. During Duke Edmund's time, Cristoph's father, we lost the area to abandoned, and have been working to reclaim it on and off again since then. Other matters took precedence however." Demons, and all that stuff.
Cristoph sighs when it's obvious his sister is going to feed his child an /entire/ cake the second his back is turned. There's nothing that can be done for it, he's lost control. He takes his opportunity to taste the cognac before replying to Zoey, "It has. Since around the time of our great-grandfather, the keep has gone back and forth. I believe it was a barony on its own at one point, the Laurents have tried to hold it as a piece of land on the outskirts of our duchy. But it's simply too far from Artshall proper. We decided trying to reclaim it and the lands around it as a barony would be more effective in the long term. More recently it's been mostly abandoned since before our father passed after we lost hold of it again. Sir Norwood has actually fought there in the past, as he mentioned." Corban enters and he gives the man a look and then a little wave of his hand.
Zoey mms quietly as she considers this. She lightly taps a finger on the arm of her chair before glancing at Norwood. "I cannot, of course, speak for the Marquis or his Voices," she says slowly, "but as Stormward's Minister of Coin, I would be happy to propose assistance in the form of trade and supplies for Duskshire to my liege." She smiles a little at Norwood, eyes softening. "If it would be of benefit to you, of course."
Cassandra is mostly quiet during the discussion regarding Duskshire. Finally she speaks up, "Did any of the Abandoned in the area bend the knee?" She asks with a look between Cristoph and Norwood. "And what about the spiritual well-being of those people? Would missionaries be of any use to you?"
Alaric smiles to Corban as he arrives and takes over the captain's spot before nodding to Cristoph and Norwood. "I see, I see. Well, I do wish you all the best in this endeavour. It sounds like it will be no simple challenge, but I believe you certainly have valour and wisdom to find the path to succeed."
"Our shipyards can always use lumber," Ian remarks, maybe by way of backing up what Zoey says. His tone of voice is hard to read; inflection isn't really a thing that he does.
"Interesting," remarks Sir Corban from where he stands behind the King. "I have done some research recently into the Oathland Abandoned and their ways. It turns out that, far from embracing shamanism, many believe WE are the heretics of the Faith and insufficiently orthodox."
Norwood looks to Zoey first, warmth etched in his expression. "As we establish ourselves I'll turn down no assistance provided that the terms are fair - which I will be asking those more expert than I about." Norwood = not one who knows anything about most of this. Then to Cassandra Norwood shakes his head slowly. "At this point we've chased the abandoned and bandits out, but haven't yet done much with any touching tribes. However, the faith of those who come to make their lives near Duskshire will ALWAYS be needed." Corban's comment gets a blink from Norwood, but no comment.
Zoey smiles at Ian's addition and nods. "Besides that," she adds looking back to Norwood, "Kennex understands very well what it means to balance on the edge of a knife. We wouldn't have survived without the help and generosity of the entire Compact." She pauses to murmur her thanks to the servant who hands her some cognac. "The very least we can do is offer to help others with that same generosity." When the knight speaks, her eyes warm again. "Then I'll speak to my liege once your appointment is made official and petition for Duskshire's cause."
Alaric hmms thoughtfully at Corban's remark. "That -is- certainly the sort of thing that would cause them to break away from us," he observes dryly. "I suppose everyone looks like a heretic across that particular divide. Still, I daresay our qualifications for not being the true heretics are rather impeccable." He smiles to Norwood. "Do let the Minister of Coin know if you're looking for income advice; I daresay he's got a few economists that he might be able to reccommend."
Cristoph has busied himself with cognac, watching Norwood as the conversation swirls around the man and his soon to be existing barony. "I think that Cassandra coming with some of her Templars to visit the new barony might not be a bad idea. It shows another strong connection to a martial force and if some missonaries came and could encourage some of these people to re-join the Compact?" He tips his head to the side in an 'all the better' kind of way. When Corban speaks, his eyes drift to him. "Have you? That is interesting how the different things can fracture off. I hope that we can bring togther more unity."
Cassandra listens, and nods her head in understanding. At Cristoph's suggestion she looks thoughtful a moment before she says, "I will speak to the Knight Marshall. I don't see how it could hurt, and even if none join a show of force could keep them from getting too bold."
"It can not hurt." Norwood replies to Cassandra, he can at LEAST be decisive when it comes to military matters, even if he's still a bit unsure on the rest of his new land management things. To the King and Zoey - "My thanks to the both of you for those kind offers, I will come seeking you out soon."
"Yes, well, some Tribes think we are backwards for forgetting the Lost Gods that we recently rediscovered. And others believe that we are heretics for allowing worship of Tehom." Corban smiles a little as he shares his wisdom. "And some even have Knights Templar and Solace, like we do, or rough analogues. In fact, Your Majesty, I have been meaning to speak to you if you might extend your patronage to a mission to speak to these Tribes and see if there might be interested in dedicating fully to ways of knighthood."
"Only in the Oathlands..." Cristoph mutters with some wry amusement to Corban's explanation. He swishes the cognac in the glass and leans forward after finishing up his plate of food (that he was eating this entire time). It gets pushed to the side and he leans his elbows onto the table in a shocking lack of manners. "If some of them are upst about the lost gods, they might be tempted back into the Compact knowing that the Faith now acknowledges them."
"It is a little chagrining to have lost gods, even if the evidence points to it having been a fairly significant undertaking by enemies of the Compact to have made it happen," Alaric admits. "But I'd certainly be willing to review a draft of your proposal, Sir Corban. I only have so much spare supervision to allocate, regrettably, and most of these are necessarily directed towards Crown or Grayson projects, but if there is a way to make it happen I would certainly look for it."
Cassandra nods her head in agreement with Cristoph at his observation. To Corban she says, "This may be something the Faith will be interested in." She then remarks after having a sip of her cider, "At least I am interested."
"You are all," Looking between Corban and Cassandra, "Welcome to see if you can convince the tribes around Duskshire. I will grasp at any straws that would make it safer." Norwood will take all help - literally. Even experimental help.
"Of course, Your Majesty," says Corban. "All I would truly ask is the ability to tell others the Crown approves of the mission. It may tempt others to commit time and resources to it. But I will send a proposal." He smiles faintly.
"Indeed. Well, it would be rather impolite for me to approve of a venture in the Oathlands without speaking to Edain about it, so I'd suggest you tell him first so he doesn't hear about it from me as I wouldn't be able to speak very knowledgably as to any questions he might have of it," Alaric suggests to Corban before smiling to Cristoph. "As expected, I've had a wonderful time tonight. Thank you for hosting, Duke Cristoph. Though if I might have a quick private word before I depart for the night?"
"If Edain approves, Sir Corban, let me know. I'd like to help you in some capacity, either myself or through someone else in our house." As the dinner continues on, dessert arrives. "Please, everyone continue to eat and drink as you like." Alaric has made a request and Cristoph pulls himself to his feet (and his elbows off the table). "Of course, your Majesty. I'll walk you outside." He inclines his head towards the exit of the main hall.
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