A Parade for a King (gummyDiana)

Diana

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Lady Gwenaelle pretended her face wasn't lit up a bright pink at Caden's completely uncalled for laughter. He didn't have to make such a scene about it! If there weren't there in front of polite company, she'd have given him an earfull.

As it were, the Lady Brissh and Caden did truly seem to be getting along swimmingly, enough so the woman actually seemed excited to spend more time with him. That was good! Equally even better for a group outing, where Caden could have more intimate time with several of the best choices. The gardens were beautifully romantic and surely something could blossom from it - no puns intended.

The fact that Caden was giving her that glowering look made it all the more appealing.

"You know, what a delightful idea!" Gwen agreed with a nod. "A walk through the gardens followed by a casual lunch - with a few of our lovely guests, of course. I'll make sure that is all set up for early noon tomorrow."
 
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Caden made a childish grimace at Gwen, knowing Lady Brissh would once again politely act as though it hadn't happened.

"I'm so pleased! I shall look forward to it, then. Your majesty. Lady Gwenaelle." She curtsied and Caden nodded, dismissing her.

When the two of them were alone, Caden folded his arms, raising his eyebrows. "So. Did you come here simply to drag me off to introduce me to a llama princess? Is a llama wife preferable to a dead fish wife, in your eyes?" There was a tad of a snicker in his face, but he kept his question mostly serious.
 
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Diana

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"Her name is Princess Laura and she is a delightful sweet angel of a woman. You would be blessed to have such a lovely princess for your queen!" Gwen quipped back, deliberately ignoring his llama and fish wife nonsense as not to encourage it.

Gwen brushed her hands over the front of her dress to smooth of the non-existent wrinkles, casually watching the Lady Brissh mingle back into the crowd. Once she was satisfied on that front, she did begin a new scan of their guests, after all, she needed to shove as many eligible young ladies in Caden's direction as she possibly could. There had to be at least one he'd fall for!

"Are you behaving, at least? There will be at least thrice this many people at the ball itself. You need to get as much practice as possible in being polite." she insisted. "...and to dance. You really ought to dance!"
 
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Caden rolled his eyes, as he only ever did with her. A "delightful sweet angel of a woman" sounded entirely intolerable. Just clever and nosy enough to get on his nerves, not lively enough to be interesting. He made a mental note to send Princess Laura home as soon as the first night of the ball was over.

"You seem to forget I'm the king, Gwen. I have plenty of practice being as polite to nobles as is useful." He regularly had meetings with many of the worst of them, in fact. "And I shall let you know now, I have no intention of dancing during this ball of yours." He'd said it before, but she'd always brushed it off with her busy nonsense. It wasn't that he couldn't dance - his dancing was perfectly serviceable - so much as he knew that if he allowed one woman to dance with him, the rest would insist on their turn, and he was quite certain he'd be tempted to set the palace on fire just to get them all to leave in that case. "In fact, I intend to make an announcement at the beginning of the ball that the first and second houses to ask me to dance are agreeing to return their entire family's wealth, land, and status to the crown." He wasn't really planning to do that. So long as he stayed sitting on the throne, on the platform above the rest of the ballroom, no one would feel comfortable enough to ask him to dance anyways. But the idea did please him immensely. His eyes were already scanning the crowd for a few men he needed to speak with for policy reasons, and for the Lady Cressida Derrivan, who he'd very much like a closer look at.
 
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Diana

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Gwen rolled her eyes herself and heavily sighed. He'd do no such thing! First of all, she wouldn't allow him to ban his own denizens simply because he didn't want to dance. And second... well. He'd dance all right, even if that meant she had to personally drag him to the ballroom floor and make him do it. A King needed to be seen enjoying the evening just as much as everyone else, not just lurking on his throne glowering at everyone.

"You know, this would go by so much faster if you weren't fighting me at every turn. I'll have to see which of these young ladies can box at this rate, that may be the only way to live with you." she murmured, using this opportunity alone with him to make sure his shirt looked right and proper with a few brushes of her hands at his shoulder.

"Can I at least trust you to talk with a few more people before we all retire for the night?"
 
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Caden laughed, but in a reserved, kingly manner. "On the contrary, fighting you makes the time fly by in comparison to paying full attention to these dull proceedings." He said, but he couldn't quite commit to the bit, at the feeling of her hands on his shoulders. He almost brushed himself off again, just to get rid of the lingering feeling that her fingers were still there.

He settled for clearing his throat slightly and taking just the smallest step back, still smiling, but expression ever so slightly tight. "That was indeed my plan, before you came by to so rudely interrupt a conversation I was wrapping up with Lady Brissh." His forehead creased ever so slightly, and he reached out a hand and swiped his thumb gently over her brow. "Not that I ever mind you interrupting me, but as you say, I have to go greet more guests." He stepped past her to speak to Lady Cressida.

Lady Cressida was a quiet, polite woman, pretty much exactly what one would expect from looking at her. Nothing special in terms of smarts, but not the stupidest person he'd ever met either. She was, however, intensely boring on every level, and as much as he found Sir Gerald a bit of a snooze, he didn't think Lady Cressida was a perfect match. Might as well throw them together and see, but he didn't have much hope. He only spoke to two other women that night - neither of them Princess Llama - one of whom was deeply shy and interested him not at all, and the other of whom stared at him like a starving hawk watching prey. The second one had quite convinced him to avoid all the other women at the party, since he was going to have to join in that insufferable garden walk with all the women tomorrow, and he subsequently spent the night speaking to the men at the party, with the exception of the Jarl, who he very intentionally paid no mind, as if the man was not there. There was purpose to it, whether Gwen liked or noticed it or not.

The next day, he grumbled and dithered, picking at his work instead of thinking about the garden walk at afternoon, but try as he might, the time came, and he was dressed and ready for it by the time the maids came to check on him (at Gwen's insistence, no doubt). He may not like it, but Lady Brissh had set up a very good way for them to finish their conversation, and it wouldn't do anyone much good for him to try and avoid it. He was down by the garden entrance early, a guard by his side, hands behind his back, looking up the archway that led into the garden.
 
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Diana

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Oddly enough, Gwenaelle herself did not make an appearance to the garden party. It was quite likely she'd gotten wrapped up in organizing for the ball itself, but as usually she never seemed to let an event go without her 'eyes' on the scene - in this case in the form of her two brothers. Both of which looked equally as inconvenienced to be there as King Caden himself.

Lord Jacques Belenet (or more often than not, simply Jack) was an incredibly tall and burley man with the inherited deep red Belenet hair and heavy brows. His beard was neatly groomed and his clothing impeccable - so naturally he was stiff as a board and completely uncomfortable, standing there scowling at the gardens themselves as if they were to blame.

His younger brother, the Lord Theo Belenet took to fancy dress like a fish to water, though far less polished! His shirt was unbuttoned a bit too much for polite company and he wore no jacket. His hair was equally as dark, but his fresh shaven face an open cheerful expression was nothing but delighted to even be existing today around so many lovely people... although he found it awkward as his sister had very specifically expressed that he was watch Caden only and not to 'wander off like a fool'.

Likewise also in attendance to this beautiful garden walk was several personally invited ladies, including the wonderful Princess Laura and a few new arrivals that had not attended last evening's dinner.
 
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Caden was grateful for the Belenet brothers being there. Both of them were currently unattached young men very eligible for marriage, which meant they'd at least divert the attention of the less ambitious ladies there. As far as he could figure, a large number of women were already there, though he'd arrived perfectly on time. He couldn't recall if Gwen had sent him a list of names for who would be here, but if she had, he hadn't paid much attention to it. This little party didn't mean he didn't have a mountain of work to do still as king, if anything it had added to his work load, especially now that he had to turn his attention back on Gau.

He looked around at the party, expression set the way it usually was when Gwen wasn't around: in cold unconcern. "My lords Belenet, ladies and princesses, this is an informal excursion. Please enjoy yourselves." He didn't approach anyone initially, entering the garden gates without giving even Lady Brissh so much as a passing glance. The palace gardens were absolutely massive, with several different sections, all carefully, perfectly maintained. Caden had overseen their maintenance for many years, mostly because the minute he'd inherited rule, he'd taken one look at them and immediately understood that if they fell into disarray it would be overwhelming to build them back up again. He guessed his parents had felt the same, because none of them had ever paid much attention to the gardens even in his youth. He certainly hadn't been encouraged to much visit them except when guests came for tea. Still, the gardens were beautiful, and the fact that he hadn't visited them for years meant they were something to pay attention to other than the flock of people who wanted his attention as always. He never could seem to get some proper rest.
 
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Diana

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Both of the young Belenet men were quick to saunter over to King Caden, but in their discomfort with the event and because of their assigned mission. Theo beaming with a wide smile waved a hand and gave an exaggerated bow, while his brother Jacques merely gave a more subtle nod and simply bowing of respect.

"Your Majesty!" announced Theo, "we are here to be... ah... your chaperones? Seems a bit unnecessary for a King to have a chaperone. What do I know about court ladies?"

"You are the friendly smile to lure them into conversation," suggested Jack with a snort.

"Then what are you for!" exclaimed Theo with some surprise.

That did give Jacques some pause, as he tilted his head and rubbed his hand through his beard. Until he finally settled on the appropriate answers.

"The muscle," he grunted. "In case His Majesty intends to bolt. I'd rather not be involved, sir, if that is fine with you. Bolt if you please, and for the god's sake take me with you."

"You're absolutely no fun, Jack." remarked Theo with a heavy sigh.
 
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Caden managed not to laugh at the Belenet brothers, keeping his expression calm and almost uninterested, but their shared blood with Gwen was always so evident. Even the more serious of the two begging him to make a run for it, just to spare him. Caden rather thought they both were very fun indeed.

"As always, Gwen's concern is unnecessary. I should never be so undignified as to run from an engagement I've already agreed to." He laughed gently, a sort of kingly cover for real laughter he'd carefully cultivated over the years. He knew if she'd been here, she would have protested that he hadn't agreed to come at all, she knew what he was like after all. But showing up was agreeing, as far as he was concerned. He couldn't very well run off when he'd already made an appearance, really what did she think of him?

"Your majesty." Caden turned around to see a cheerful looking woman approaching him. She was comfortable to look at, but no great beauty, with golden locks and an uncomfortably narrow nose. "If you would allow me to introduce myself. I'm Jane Diera, eldest daughter of Baron Diera. It's so lovely to make your acquaintance."

Caden looked down his nose at her, smile disappearing entirely. He hadn't given her leave to speak to him. Letting Gwen talk him into this ball nonsense had definitely been a bad idea. He suppressed a sigh, knowing Gwen would chew him out if he made an enemy of every chit who was overly familiar with him at this stupid thing. "It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance as well, Miss. Have you met the Lords Jacques and Theo Belenet?"
 
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