A Fragile Peace

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Astaroth, Apr 3, 2012.

  1. [​IMG]

    Serrona was expecting a visitor. It had been a long time since the country had entertained a guest from foreign reaches, and certainly since
    that guest had come over the mountains from Alyonria.

    Crown Prince Etienn of Serrona paced in his rooms, awaiting the summons which would indicate the arrival of the Alyonrian diplomat. It could not be long; the diplomatic party's herald had already come to their gates, and his countrymen could not be far behind. Soon, the very same people that they had so recently met on the battlefield would be gracing their doorstep and enjoying the finest hospitality that Serrona had to offer.

    And when the duration of their visit was through, Etienn himself would go with them.

    He'd always known that one day, as heir to the throne, he must marry a woman of proper standing. He'd also known that he was even past the age when his father had married, at twenty-six years this spring. But he had not anticipated leaving his country to do it, nor had he anticipated that his betrothal would be part and parcel of peace negotiations with Alyonria. It didn't sit well with him; he was not accustomed to being bartered off like a trinket. However, it was his duty to his kingdom to facilitate the burgeoning peace between the two kingdom's.

    He also had a suspicion that the Alyonrian princess might be able to sympathize.

    A Fragile Peace
    A Revi and Ozzie Fantasy Production

  2. Serrona was a strange place, and the journey for the diplomats had not been the easiest. Avdris, negotiator and ambassador for the Alyonrians, was tired and his robes were filthy. He and his entourage had traveled over the mountains and through various habitats for two weeks before finally arriving in the capitol of their former enemies and finding themselves making their way up the walk to the court that awaited them. Avdris hoped that they had time for a bath before they were seen, but he doubted such was the case. Even if it had been, he would have had to guard his secret tightly.

    Lord Avdris was not what he appeared. Beneath the binder and the flowing robes, he was truly High Princess Kalyle. She was unsure of her future, and had convinced her family to let her make this trip herself at the last moment. She went in disguise and had told her parents this was so that she could observe without the courtiers hiding things from her. At least as a diplomat, she would hear more truth than as a princess. But that wasn't the full reason. The mage princess was curious about her betrothed, and she wished to meet him and get to know him with no pressure behind their meeting. If she liked him well enough, she would reveal herself. If she didn't, she had no qualms about running off to start a new life of her own.
  3. Within twenty minutes, Etienn found himself standing next to his father's throne as the Alyonrian dignitary, advisers, and guards were escorted into the Serronian court. He wore his full ceremonial armor for the occasion, minus his helmet, and it made his fingers itch to toy with his flaxen hair; instead, he kept his hands clasped firmly behind his back and as neutral an expression as he could muster plastered on his face. There was some palpable tension in the room, but it would not do to acknowledge it. The last thing they needed right now was a brawl in the middle of the palace.

    "Lord Avdris of Alyonria," the herald announced, "and his entourage."

    Ambassador Navire, the man who had been handling the Alyonrian negotiations, took a somewhat stiff step forward to greet Avdris.

    "Welcome, my lord. I hope that your journey was not too hard on you. I don't believe we ourselves have had the pleasure, but if I may?" Navire gestured with a flourish toward the dais upon which the king's throne sat. "King Warmaster Feronin of Serrona, and Crown Prince Etienn, Duke of the First City."

  4. Avdris and those accompanying him were silent as they approached, moving elegantly and perfectly in step with one another. As Navire introduced the royals, the entire diplomatic group bowed at the waist as one. Avdris was clad in fresh robes, silver and flowing. A matching mask hid his lower face, and a long, magenta braid brushed the floor as he bowed. Each of the other men in the group had similar braids, bound tightly. It was a traditional style for men among their people, and each braid was adorned with prizes and bits of finery. Avdris's was festooned with tiny bells that made a soft shimmering sound as he straightened his back.

    "Your Majesty," he said, voice modified to be a soft baritone. He bowed again, this time to the prince. "Your Highness. It is an honor to be in such esteemed company. The trip was a minor inconvenience, but it is to be expected. I was worried that it might be too difficult on Your Highness for the return trip, but after seeing you, I am well assured that you will fare fine on the journey." He laughed softly, gesturing an attendant forward. The attendant held a box, opening it and showing a golden and silver torc within. This was handed over to Navire. "A gift for King Feronin. The torc is a symbol of strength in our land. I hope that it is received in the same way and shows the honor and respect we hold for your esteemed majesty."
  5. It was difficult to look at the box and not think that it was something like a dowry. He was being silly, Etienn reminded himself; it was only customary for visiting dignitaries to present something to their hosts. Putting an end to that line of though, he looked instead to his father and the tacit approval that didn't quite register in King Ferronin's hard and weathered face. The Serronan king was still quite spry, scarcely twice Etienn's own age, with dark blond hair that was only just beginning to grey. A jagged scar cleft his right eyebrow in two- a souvenir from an old battle, one fought against Alyonrian soldiers- a grisly reminder of the feud between the two countries. That brow was furrowed now as the king accepted the offering with a cool nod.

    "We thank you for the honor of this gift," said King Ferronin. His voice was even and crisp like a finely-edged blade. "We hope you find your stay with us hospitable."

    Ambassador Navire hurried to add, "Every amenity will be made available to you, of course, and you need not worry for supplies for the return journey. Would you like to retire to your rooms now, or is there another way in which we can make you comfortable?"
  6. Avdris took the moment of the exchange to look the prince over quickly. He was handsome, but so were many men, and that alone was not enough to sway the princess. She would continue the facade. He spoke, addressing himself to the King alone.

    "I believe we should retire for the evening. We've come a long way and are in need of rest. However," he continued, "With your Majesty's leave, I shall discuss the matter of my men's comfort with the Ambassador here. I do not with to keep the Royal court from more pressing matters." He bowed with the utmost respect. It had been drilled into the princess--no, the Lord, he had to think of himself as male-- that he must behave with the utmost tact and diplomacy on this trip. The future of peace between nations was at stake, and neither could afford to fall into war with the other again. He could feel himself tense slightly as he awaited a response which he knew was to likely come, not from king, but Ambassador. Avdris was keenly thankful that his robes covered the tightening of shoulders and hoped that he was far enough from the throne that the slight moisture gathering on the back of his neck would not be noticed.

    Behind him, he heard the soft, almost imperceptible movements of hair adornments and robes. His men were tense, too, worried that the young Lord would fail in some subtle bit of tact, it seemed. Well, he would certainly prove them wrong. He would not fail in his mission. Not on accident, anyway.
  7. The week trickled by, Serrona's court strung taut to near breaking point with the presence of the Alyonrian dignitaries. Etienn was no less tense than anyone, and perhaps more so due to his impending departure. He'd spent as much time out of the castle as possible, but he could only shirk his obligations so much in good conscience, and so he was nearly unraveled when dawn began to break on the day of his journey's start.

    There had been many things to ready. His armor and blades, his clothing and possessions, supplies for the road, and a generous dowry. It was dangerous, perhaps, to travel so far with so much; unfortunately, the borders of Alyonria and Serrona were still not on so friendly terms as to open the way for portal travel. Serronans were less versed in the arcane arts than Alyonrians- and far less trusting of magic, too- but Etienn was not ignorant of its practical applications, and the very real threat of brigands made him testy about the strength of their armed escort. Only so many guards could be spared, even for such an important procession. He could only hope these Alyonrians were more capable than they looked in the case of a skirmish.

    "Come now, Bard," he urged his horse as he struggled to supplant the animal from his stall. Perhaps he sensed Etienn's nerves, but the stallion was having one of his stubborn mornings, hooves stamping and nostrils flaring as he danced away like an unbroken colt. Etienn had hooked his fingers in Bard's halter, but was shaken off with a firm toss of Bard's proud head. "None of this, damn it, I haven't the time nor patience!"

    They at last managed to negotiate over a bit of sweetmeats from Etienn's pouch. Nonetheless, Bard remained antsy under his seat as the party exited the capital through the front gates. Etienn had to fight him from trotting away or kicking the horses at his flank, and the mood of neither horse nor rider improved as they made way.
  8. Avdris spent much of his time alone. His privacy was important to him, and when he was not issuing instructions or being given tours or watching courtly functions, he was in his assigned room or, very often, in the palace library. The books were so very different here. They seemed more solid, more tied to the material world than the books and scrolls he was used to. In fact, there was very little mention of magic in any of the books of natural science, a fact that baffled him. Still, they were interesting reading. He made certain, however, to avoid the recent histories. Reading a former enemy's propaganda would likely do little for the peace effort and, even though that was secondary to his own desires, he still did not wish to start a war while he was in enemy, rather former enemy, territory.

    By the morning they were set to depart, Avdris was rather thoroughly annoyed. He'd hardly gotten to speak to the Prince he'd journeyed so far to meet and did not fully fathom that this was due as much to his own taciturn activities as to the Prince's seeming avoidance. Of course, it made sense. He was not here in the true appearance of the Prince's promised. He was Lord Avdris, and it was unseemly for him to be seeking reasons to spend time with the Prince. He only hoped that the trip which was about to commence would provide the Princess with enough time and encounters to make her decision.

    As the sun rose above the walls surrounding the stable courtyard, the group was beginning to make their preparations. Avdris looked around for the prince, but the royal stables did not appear to be in the same place as those for guests. He supposed that Etienn and his retinue would be arriving momentarily. They needed to get underway if they were to make good time. Adjusting his braid and garments, Avdris glanced at his reflection. Manly enough, he supposed. Still... he hoped that he could pull this act off. As soon as his mare was saddled and his gelding loaded with gear, Avdris swung up onto the mare, settling himself in the saddle and adjusting his robes once more.
  9. Bard was still acting up when Etienn and his escort met with the Alyonrians at the gates. The stallion champed at his bit, snorting, and flattened back his ears. Etienn hissed a warning and cautiously reigned him into place alongside the representative of the foreign diplomats.

    "Lord Avdris," he hailed the other man, keeping as much of his irritability out of his voice as he could. He thought he succeeded fairly well. "Good morning. I trust that you are ready for the road?"

    Despite fulfilling his duties as part of the Serronan council and his part in court, Etienn had conversed very little with Avdris during his stay in Serrona. What little impression he had of the man was the peculiarity of his swaddling, as well as his relatively minor voice in the negotiations. He'd been more of a background presence than a true diplomat, and Etienn might have wondered more at that were he not so distracted by the business of his betrothal. As it was, the impending wedding and their journey weighed more heavily on his mind. Perhaps he could steer the conversation towards the princess; he knew even less of the girl he was intended to than he did of Avdris.
  10. Everything was packed and ready by the time the prince joined them. In fact, everyone but Avdris had swung up onto their horses. Avdris turned to face the prince. Giving a respectful bow, he spoke from behind the mask.

    "Your Highness. My men are prepared for their journey. If you have any doubts about this journey, you should voice them, now. The journey before us is treacherous and parts are filled with thieves. I trust that sword you wear is not simply for show, Highness, for if we encounter trouble, we shall need everyone ready to aid in the fight." After another bow, the diplomat swung up into his saddle. "Whenever you are ready, we shall leave." Avdris gave a quick look around. He'd be happy to leave this place full of nosy warriors and head out where, should there be any slip ups, he could explain, cover up, or do what had to be done.