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PostPosted: March 26th, 2016, 2:00 pm 
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Duke

Joined: May 30th, 2015, 5:52 pm
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Location: Stirling, Scotland
Year 483 of the Emperor, Phoenix 00|09, Sixth year

The sun cut accross the hazy gardens in a streak of golden light. The warm summer air suffused the very stone that Morganna strode across, her feet bare. Her long, pale blue dress skirted the edge of the grass, the emerald blades folding beneath the velvet softness of the fabric. Spring had bloomed and summer was upon them at last. She paused beneath a tall birch tree and looked up at a pair of blue tits dancing through the air. She breathed deeply, then released her breathe slowly, enjoying the warmth of the day. How she loved summer. It was her birth season, and she was truly born from it. Brought up within the walls of this castle, she had had little experience of the outside world, but every year as the frosts faded and the trees began to bloom she felt such soaring joy she needed little else to content herself.

"My lady," Morganna blinked, looking down to see a runner boy, little older than herself at only twelve summers.

"Eion!" She smiled, glad to see her friend. Though the son of a scullery maid, Eion had been brought up in the castle as well. Early in his life he was taken on in the kitchens, then slowly rose himself so now he was a runnerboy for the messages that came and went from the castle. He was the only child in the castle aside from herself, and though her nurse had warned her not to play with the boy, Morganna had always ignored her. She enjoyed his company, and he was fun to play tag with. "Did the old lady Brown cut your hair then?" Eion smiled playfully.

"Yeah, she finally got me good," he said, his voice low as his hand moved surreptitiously to his short ginger hair. He cleared his throat, then striaghtened. "My lady, Lord Carnoustie would like to see you at once." He said, his voice firmer once more. Morganna srtaightened as well, almost mockingly so as she bowed her head.

"Very well, lead me to him runnerboy." She commanded, her voice dripping with sarcasm. Eion smiled.

"As you wish," he turned and led her over teh stone path and into the large glass corridor that lined the castle's interior. In the hot sun, this corridor was like a greenhouse and few remained within it if they could help it. Eion led her throught he corridor and passed the many doors into side offices. As they entered the north tower and up the spiral stairs, Morganna faltered, looking back.

"I thought Lord Carnoustie's office was back there?" she asked.

"Lord Geoffrey Carnoustie's is," Eion nodded. "This is a summons from Lord Brandon." Morganna blanched. Brandon was her betrothed, though she had rarely spoken to him. He and his father had lived in the castle for the last three years since her cousin Helori had been killed in battle. She never understood why they didn't bring his body, or even armour, back from the camp, but Geoffrey had always said 'It's all to do with politics my dear, you need not worry youself.' but still, she did worry. Duke Ferris' armour had been brought back after his death in Southern Carrickshire. Why not Helori's? She had never really trusted Geoffrey either; his sly smile, his small, beady eyes. She could not deny when she heard him speak that he was a good leader, charismatic and noble, but everytime he spoke she felt as if his words were snakes, writhing and wriggling beneath the surface, defying her every instinct. So the question of why he had not bothered to bring Helori's armour back from the frontline did not settle well with her.

Brandon was little different to his father, though she had seen him much less. He was tall, and handsome it had to be admitted, but his dark hair hug around his face like curtains of misery. He seemed to delight in torturing servants and exploiting them. There had been many uneasy conversations regarding him she had overheard among the servants, conversations they instantly stopped at her appearance.

"Very well," she said at last, nodding. "Lead on." She stepped closer to the boy, slipped a hand into the crook of his arm. "Stay with me in there, won't you?"

"If I can, my lady." he promised. She released him but remained close. They reached the second floor of the north wing and walked down the corridor to the last door ont her ight, where Eion knocked.

"Enter!" The voice was ow, but cracked with immaturity. Eion pushed open the door and stepped inside.

"Presenting Duchess Morganna of House Felandrison, as you requested." He bowed his head slightly. Morganna stepped in after him. Brandon stood behind his desk, watching out the window, his back rigid.

"Excellent, you are dismissed." Morganna's eyes flashed to Eion's, who faltered. Brandon turned slightly, his eyes darting to Eion. "I said dismissed." Eion bowed, hurriedly turning and sharing an apologetic glance at Morganna before stepping outside and closing the door. Morganna swallowed, then stepped forward, her hands clasped before her.

"My Lord, it is an honour," She said politely. Brandon turned and smiled It was a sickly smile that did not set her at ease.

"The pleasure is mine," his words dripped like honey smothered in vinegar.

"I'm sure," she breathed, trying not to think of the conversations she had overheard. He swept around the desk toward her, leaning against the wood as he faced her. He was a head taller than she, his hair, shoulder length, sways in the breeze of his motion and she could smell the almost overpowering aroma of too much aftershave. His jaw was covered in patches of missed stubble and his cheeks covered in red pockmarks that moved up the sides of his face and forehead. His eyes travelled over her and she fought not to shiver.

"You are twelve now, are you not?" he asked, seemingly darting straight to the point.

"Not yet my lord, in August." She corrected him.

"August..." his voice trailed.

"Something tells me you already new that, my lord," Morganna prompted. Silence fell as Brandon kicked his heel against the desk behind him. He pushed himself up, his head flopping with an exagerated cool as he stepped forward. He reached for her, taking her right hand and examining her skin. His touch felt oddly soft and gentle - the smooth hands of a man who has done little or no labour in his life. Suddenly, he lowered himself to one knee and clasped her hand in both of his. "I realized that, although it had always been arranged, I had never asked you." For the first time, she could hear the sincerity in his voice, a gentlemanliness she had never seen before in any man she had yet met. It reminded her of the tales she had been told as a little girl, of handsome princes and fiendish plots. Though the man before her had his faults, his cheekbones were prominent, almost aethen, and his jawline was clean and firm. He was not a man yet, but she could see the shadows of the man he would become. "Will you marry me?" She stared at him for a long moment, seeing only the shadow, the fantasy she had painted upon his face.

"Yes,"

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Ainmire Sera-Blodh of House Flenadrison, second of his name, King in the South, Ruler of Carrickshire, and slayer of false Kings.
"The Crippled King"
"Flanders"


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PostPosted: March 26th, 2016, 6:09 pm 
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Very interesting read. I am curious to find out what Brandon may be plotting with this, if anything!

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PostPosted: April 30th, 2016, 5:49 pm 
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Location: Stirling, Scotland
Year 491 of the Emperor, Phoenix 00|10, Sixth year

The bright summer sun swept through the glass corridors of the castle's corridors as servants and soldiers alike bustled through the vast structure, hurriedly preparing for the arrival of guests. Amongst this turmoil, the young Lady Morganna strode, her head held high and her dress sweeping the floor. Behind her walked her wet nurse who held the hand of the young daughter, Amena. She was only 3 summers old, but already she had learned her place in the world, by her mother's steady hand, and she knew she was above those that ran about her, carrying fabrics, foods, stools, papers, all manner of objects as the castle prepared. Morganna was brimming with excitement. Since her cousin Helori had fallen in battle she had remained within the castle, hosting balls and attending parties with her husband Brandon Carnoustie by her side. Originally she had viewed their marriage with trepidation, however the young Duke had treated her fairly, even if she did have to turn a blind eye to the many mistresses who frequented his chambers. His father, Geoffrey, now of an advanced age, was a skilled politician and guided them both in their rule over Tremaine. It was by his advice that she had remained within the walls, leaving the notoriously tiresome troubles of court to her husband and father in law. However, today was different, for today, at long last, another of the House Felandrison was coming for a visit. Helori's younger brother, Korneli, had taken over as Governor of Glas Claddach after Murtagh's death and now, after so many long years, she was at last going to meet him. As she stepped out of the domed hall into the courtyard she walked up to her husband, Brandon, who held his hands behind his back as he rocked back and forth on his feet impatiently.

"Where are they?" He asked as she arrived.

"They have come a long way, they will not be long now," she smiled gently.

"Not long now," he repeated scathingly. "Not long now until I am ready for the grave at this rate!" Amena stood by Morganna's side and reached to hold her mother's hand. Morganna took it gently, smiling at her tiny bead of warmth beside her.

"Mummy, it's cold!" She complained.

"Not to worry, we won't be out here long," Morganna smiled, then turned as trumpets blared. From beneath the port cullis a line of soldiers marched into the courtyard, separated to reveal a tall man with long, dark hair and a clean shaven face. By his side strode a similarly beautiful woman, with long locks of red hair and a pale complexion. As they approached, the man smiled to Morganna and she returned it.

"My Lord," he bowed to Brandon, "Lady, I am Korneli, of House Felandrison, Governor of Glas Claddach. May I present my wife Sterenn." Sterenn courtsied and Morganna returned the gesture. "And my children, Morgance and Marrec." A girl of seven summers courtsied, Morgance, and beside her her brother bowed. The boy was five summers and had his mother's bright red hair.

"Pleasure," Brandon smiled. "May I present my wife, Morganna, and our daughter Amena." Both bowed respectively. "Might I invite you all inside for a feast in the north wing?" Korneli smiled warmly.

"We have been travelling for many days, might we freshen ourselves up a bit before we sit down to what I trust will be an exquisite meal?"

"You flatter our house," Morganna smiled.

"Not at all, the chefs of Tremaine and renowned across Perth." Korneli smiled.

"Of course, Mister Brown will show you to your quarters," Brandon smiled. He stepped aside as the butler stepped forward to lead them into the castle. "Captain, take these men to the barracks, have them fed and find them a bed for the night." Brandon ordered. The captain of the Guarda bowed his head in acknowledgement ebfore delegating the task to another officer and making to follow Brandon into the castle.

"Was that it?" Amena asked, shivering in the chilly wind.

"For now," Morganna smiled. "Come, we must get ready for the feast tonight.

"But I am ready!" The young girl complained. "I am so hungry! Can we please eat now!" She followed her mother into the castle.

"Not yet, I'm sure you can survive a short while longer."

"But I can't! I need food now!" Morganna chuckled to herself, gently pressing her hand against her belly as she continued into the hall. Her wet nurse was by her side in an instant, placing a hand over her's.

"It's alright," Morganna asured her.

"It is not," The wet nurse objected. "You know you shouldn't be standing for so long, not in your position."

"I have carried a child before, I shall continue to carry and I shall continue to do my duty." She said simply, then smiled. "Thank you for your care."

"I just don't want to see you go the way of your mother miss," the wet nurse explained. "I helped you into this world, I sure as heck don't want to see you leave it again."

"Language nurse!" Morganna smiled mischeviously.

"Begging your pardon miss," the wet nurse bowed to the young child.

"I should think so," Amena nodded as Morganna laughed, taking the wet nurse's hand.

"Help me to the feast hall."

"Right you are m'lady, right you are."

***

The feast hall was a long, narrow room with windows opening onto Loche Aberdeene. In clear weather one could look out and see the opposite shore. Tonight, dark clouds had gathered on the edges of the loche. Within the hall, the table had been piled high with fine foods. Three roast boars stood at intervals along the length of the table. Bowls of roast potatoes, carrots, and parsnips and platters of drumsticks, steaks, and pastries covered every inch of the table. The hall was filled with warmth and laughter as the many nobles of the court of Tremaine feasted alongside the guests from Glas Claddach. At the head of the table, Barndon sat with Morganna to his right. To his left, in pride of place, sat Korneli next to his wife and children. As it transpired, the reason for their visit was trade; the city of Glas Claddach was expanding rapidly and was running out of important building materials like granite, diorite, andesite, and glass. The trade agreement Korneli was proposing was so vast he had decided to visit himself to discuss it in depth with Brandon and come to a swift decision. Brandon would likely agree to it; Geoffrey seemed to feel it was a good deal. He sat next to Amena and listened intently to the discussion, offering his own steady hand when the two younger men seemed to disagree. Soon however, he forced both men to surrender their conversation and enjoy the evening.

As the last of the main course was removed, the conversation turned to foreign affairs. Korneli seemed rather interested in the recent turn of events in Wysteria, where the Duke Nicholas had reorganized the great library there. He was intending to visit the distant Grand Duchy in the years to come to witness for himself the vast compliation of knowledge, history, and literature, as well as to learn more of the remarkable political views of the Duke. Brandon seemed less than enthused about the distant and alien land, choosing instead to focus on the recent return of Minervan nobles to Hermertia. Brandon was fascinated by the vacuum of power left in the wake of the Dark Ages and what would happen now that Minerva was again a main focus of political power.

By the time they had finished their debates the last of the puddings had been devoured. Amena was ready for bed, so Morganna sent for her nurse to take her to bed. Korneli's children also left and the adults, now satisfied with their meal, rose and made their way to the throne room where a small band had set up and proceeded to play music while the nobles danced. brandon and Morganna opened the dancing, of course, and then Morganna retired to stand with Sterenn, who offered her a glass of wine. The Duchess declined, then watched the dancing.

"How is my cousin treating you?" Sterenn asked.

"Your cousin?" Morganna asked.

"Brandon," Sterenn nodded to him. "He and I are second cousins."

"I didn't know," she admitted.

"Aye, I knew him when he was still young, before he came here."

"What was he like?" Morganna asked, intrigued.

"He was a boy," she shrugged, "And everything that entails." she seemed almost to sigh inwardly. "But you never answered my question, how is he treating you?" She asked again.

"Very well," Morganna smiled. "I am happy, and I have a second child on the way," she again touched her stomach gently.

"Such wonderful news," Sterenn smiled, though there was a hesitation in her voice. Suddenly, one of the nobles approached to thank Morganna for the party drunkenly. Morganna accepted his thanks and he moved away. Brandon waved to her and she turned to Sterenn.

"I'm afraid I must depart. Thank you for your kind words." Sterenn smiled courtiesly, bowing her head before suddenly gripping Morganna's arm and pulling her close to her mouth. She whispered in her ear.

"Do not trust my cousin, nor any Carnoustie. They are not your family, my lady. You are of House Felandrison, and only we are your true allies." Her words sounded urgent, and yet Morganna was so taken aback she almsot did not register them. Before she could react Sterenn had drawn away from her and left. Slightly stunned she turned back to Brandon adn walked toward him, watching his eyes wander over one of the women before him. In her mind, Sterenn's words rolled over each other and she remembered her first opinions of BRandon, the young, greasy haired, sallow skinned youth that had once stood before her. In many ways he had not changed, only succeeding in hiding that part of him more easily behind a handsome smile. As she reached him, he took her hand and again she heard Sterenn's words in her mind.

"They are not your family," she smiled at him, shielding her thoughts behind bright eyes as Brandon offered her another dance. They stepped toward the dance floor.

"You are of House Felandrison," He took her by the waist and guided her gently into the watlz, his feet moving with practiced ease as she followed his lead.

"We are your only true allies," She looked up at him and his eyes met hers. She could see through him, through his charming smile and his handsome features. Beneath, he was still the terrifying child that had once haunted her. She had blinded herself to it out of longing for a childish dream, a handsome prince to make her his own. Now, as she looked into his ees, it felt as if the dream and turned into a nightmare, and all she had known was suddenly in doubt. Her smiled faultered and her breath caught. She felt faint as his arm wrapped around her, protecting her from falling. It was a heroic moment for him, but in her mind, it was as if she had fallen into the clutches of evil. His hand no longer supported her, but threatened to let her drop. Her eyes fell back into her head and she struggled to breath.

"Do not trust my cousin...nor any Carnoustie..."

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Ainmire Sera-Blodh of House Flenadrison, second of his name, King in the South, Ruler of Carrickshire, and slayer of false Kings.
"The Crippled King"
"Flanders"


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PostPosted: May 2nd, 2016, 3:13 pm 
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Location: Stirling - Scotland
Drama! Perfidy?

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Gold Roads. Fractal Mining. Lore Compliance Ducks.


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PostPosted: May 2nd, 2016, 3:40 pm 
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That is exactly what I thought you would say, Sam.

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PostPosted: May 7th, 2016, 3:46 pm 
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Location: Stirling, Scotland
Year 493 of the Emperor, Phoenix 00|11, Second year

Three young crows swept low over the drowsy sea, their wings barely touching before they lifted into the air, streaking up over the rocks and past the high windows where the young lady Amena watched, her face pressed against the glass. Her eyes widened with amazement before she ran along the glass corridor of Castle Tremaine and out the large doors into the inner garden. On all sides, buidlings and parrapets towered over her, but she knew this was a safe place to run and fly with the crows. As she watched, two of the crows darted over the garden high above her, two dark specs in the brilliant blue sky. She ran beneath them, watching them closely before her foot missed the last step, letting her topple over the short drop toward the small pond. As she screamed, a large hand gripped her and swept her upright, placing her gently on the ground. She giggled as she looked up at Eion, the gardener of twenty-one who tended the many scenic areas of Tremaine. His large hand patted her head and she continued to giggle.

"Careful now, little lady," he growled, his voice low but gentle. "We wouldn't want you gettin' hurt in your own back garden now would we?" She nodded, curtsying gratefully.

"Thank you, Eion." She smiled. "But I don't need to worry about hurting myself, because you will always be here to catch me, won't you?"

"That's right," he smiled. "I will always be here to catch you, my Lady." He bowed, almost mockingly. She giggled as she took his arm.

"C'mon! I wanna see the water again!"

"My Lady, you know you're not supposed to go outside the Castle." He warned.

"But I wanna see the water!" She pouted. As she did so, two guards marched down the path and across the bridge toward them. Eion straightened his back, turning from her and proceeding to rake the leaves from the ground, averting his gaze. The soldiers took no notice of either of them and proceeded out the gate to the short pier. As they disappeared Eion turned back to her.

"I cannot take you out there now."

"But I wanna see the water again!" She held her hands behind her back and swayed them, his face turned down. Eion took a deep breath and released it slowly. Then he placed the rake against the stone wall and walked past the gate toward the store room beneath the guest quarters.

"This way my lady," Excited, Amena hurried after him. They entered the low-ceilinged room and Eion quickly checked to make sure the room was empty, before moving behind the quarter master's desk and knocking a stone brick. The stone gave way and beside Amena the wall shifted. A hidden redstone machine had moved the wall away, revealing a short tunnel that twisted out of sight. Eion took the little girl's hand and together they moved through the narrow doorway and rounded the corner. A set of roughly chiselled steps led between large peaks of stone the girl could not see over and they walked down the slope. She could smell the salt of Loche Aberdeene and hear the calling of sea birds, but as she looked up, it looked as if she were in a vast cavern. Finally the rocks broke and they paused to looked out.

They stood in the centre of a wide cavern. Above them, and overhang supporting the main halls of the castle and four solid pillars of diorite dove into the water beneath them. Beside the pillars, a waterfall fed the sea and from this angle she could see a small gap in the rock behind the water.

"Wow," She gasped, taking it all in at once. "What is this?"

"A secret exit," Eion explained. "What your grandfather Ferris built the west wing of the castle, the mountain was supported by this overhang. In order to make it safe they had to build those four pillars, however beneath the mountain there was a natural tunnel. Ferris knew it was too great and opportunity to pass up and so he built this secret passage. Very few know about it."

"What does it lead to?" She asked. Eion proceeded down the steps and into another cave, this own looked less natural and she could see the rough, unfinished walls were marked with chips from the pickaxes the workers had used to carve away teh stone. The ground was moist and slippery, and as they rounded the corner she was met by a veyr small bay. It led out to the waterfall, and chained to a post by the edge of the short pier was a boat. It was old, very old, but still in working order. It could hold perhaps four people, no more, but it would be enough to get the Duke and their family to safety if the castle were attacked.

"This boat was built by Ferris himself." Eion explained. "It has remained here, and the staff of the castle are tasked with it's upkeep."

"Who is it for?" The little girl asked, astonished.

"You," Eion explained. "If the castle were to be attacked, we would get you and your mother and your little sister here with one man to row the boat."

"But what about you?" She asked. "And the rest of the staff?" He shrugged.

"We'd be okay," he said simply. "What's important is that you would be safe." They remained by the water's edge for a moment before returning to the store

room. As they entered the room, the door opened and the Quarter master, Mister Peregrin, and the Duke Brandon walked in. Everyone froze as the Duke and quartermaster took in the scene; the gardened, holding the hand of the duke's daughter, behind them the doorway leading into darkness. Brandon's eyes widened with fury and Mister Peregrin's face fell, his eyes closing in exasperation. He opened them again and looked at Eion with pity and sadness before Brandon spoke calmly.

"Amena, to your room." He spoke quietly.

"But I wanna play outside," she said simply.

"Guards!" Brandon yelled, turning and throwing open the door. "Guards! Take her to her room at once!" Two large men rushed into the room, taking Amena by the arms and leading her out of the room. "And as for you," he turned back to Eion. "Kidnapping my daughter! How dare you! Arrest him!" More soldiers marched in and took the gardener by the arms. Eion did not resist, but let them lead him from the room as Mister Peregrin leaned heavily against his desk.

***

Geoffrey massaged his head with his fingers, the skin travelling over his hair where it now stood grey at the temples. His beard too was tinged with grey and his eyes looked tired as he listened to his son rant about the gradener stealing his daughter. Eion had been taken to the dungeon beneath the fort in the centre of Tremaine and Brandon was determined to have his head. Geoffrey himself had spoken with him and believed his story; the gardened had been showing the young lady the secret passage beneath the castle in case of danger. Geoffrey had known Eion his entire life, the man was not cruel, in fact he was once a good friend of Duchess Morganna when they were younger. He did not believe he had intended any harm to Amena.

"Have you considered he might be telling the truth?" Geoffrey asked, looking up at Brandon. The young man stopped pacing and turned to him.

"That is even worse!" He spat. "He's interfering with my...family." There was restraint in his voice as he turned back to the window. "That passage is for me to show to my heirs, not a gardener."

"Amena is your heir," Geoffrey offered.

"She is not my son." Brandon corrected him. The older man sighed. His son had never learned the true strength of women. His contempt was rivalled only by his desire to father a son, an objective he had sought for many years. It had only been Geoffrey that had stopped him from killing Amena when she was first born, and only Geoffrey that stopped him from bedding Morganna on their wedding night when she was only thirteen. Geoffrey deeply regretted the marriage now; he had burdened the young, sweet lady Morganna with his worst son, a man bent on conquest and with no compassion for women. He was determined to keep her safe as long as he could. "I will not have an heir until Morganna bears me a son!" He slammed a fist against the table and Geoffrey stared at him.

"And until then, will she remain in the castle?" Geoffrey asked.

"Always," Brandon spat. "It's not her place to go out and deal with Tremaine's matters; she'd only screw it up more than it is already!"

"Taxing the people into poverty? Hording food reserves for the castle's wealth?" Geoffrey asked. "This is your idea of fixing Tremaine?"

"It's for their own good!" Brandon spat. "They wouldn't know what to do with their money! And don't tell me how to run my own city!" Geoffrey was about to raise his vocie when there was a knock at the door. They both turned to the door and Brandon called for them to enter. It was Morganna, wearing a long gown of blue and white, her hair tied back behind her ears. She swallowed as she looked at Geoffrey.

"My Lord," She bowed her head.

"Duchess," He replied. She turned to Brandon. "I wish to see Eion." She ordered.

"No," Brandon said simply.

"I wish to see him." She repeated, ehr vocie stern.

"No one is going near him!" Brandon yelled, turning to her. "He will hang by his neck in the morning and that will be the end of it!"

"He did nothing wrong," Morganna objected.

"How would you know?" He asked.

"I talked to Amena!" Morganna frowned, she was unacustomed to comflict, but she was determined to have her way in this instance. "Our daughter! She told me what had happened. She claims it was her fault, that she made him show her the loche!"

"Eion did say he was only showing her the..." Geoffrey began, but Brandon cut him off.

"Enough! You are not going to see him."

"But I..."

"No!" He turned, raising a hand and nearly striking Morganna. She stumbled, her hand reaching for the table behind her for support. Geoffrey had stood, his hand clenched around Brandon's wrist, holding him back.

"Enough," Geoffrey breathed. Brandon lowered his hand.

"Lord Greoffrey," Morganna pressed, fighting to keep her cool. "Did Eion say why he went to the store room?"

"He was showing Lady Amena the secret passage," he explained.

"Passage?" Morganna asked. "What passage?" She did not know of any secret in the castle.

"There is a secret passage in the store room," Geoffrey continued. "It leads to a cave beneath the mountain which has a boat. It was built by your father to protect the Duke and Duchess of Tremaine. I had thought you knew..." His voice trailed away. He had told BRandon about it years ago adn expected he would tell Morganna. Apparently he had not.

"Is this true?" She asked, turning to Brandon.

"There is a passage," he admitted. "I wanted to keep it secret, to ensure it would remain safe. I would only had told you and the kids if we needed to use it." He said simply. His voice sounded gentle, but he did not look at her. SHe watched his back, still tense and his shoulder high. He was lying. She knew it. Geoffrey leaned toward his son to mutter something and Morganna turned, her eyes alighting on the desk. She had never been in Brandon's office before. Now, as she looked, she could see several letters, some bearing her name. Without knowing why, she took one and folded it carefully, concealing it within the folds of her dress. She turned back to see Brandon relent beneath his father's words. He turned to her.

"You may speak with the gardener." He said simply. Her heart soared, but still Brandon refused to look at her. Geoffrey smiled and she thanked them both, then left the room. As the door closed behind her she leaned agaisnt the wall. Before entering, she had overheard teh conversation about Amena. She could barely believe Brandon's words. Her hand moved over her dress. It had been two moons since she last bled, and she was beginning to show symptoms again of pregancy. She leane dher head back, resting it against the stone. She had two daughters, Amena, now five, and Britta, now two, adn she loved them both, but if Brandon's words were true, the only reason he was amrried to her was so she could bear him a son. Silently, she prayed the babe she carried now would not be a son, though she was unsure if she simply wanted to continue her life as it was, with Brandon by her side, fearful that if she gave him a son he would cast her aside, or if she simply wished to hurt him. She could not tell, so instead of worrying she brushed her hands over her dress and made her way down the corridor to see Eion.

***

It had been three days since Eion had been arrested, and in that time Morganna had managed to argue his case, granting him a trial instead of a simple hanging. Brandon reluctantly allowed it, and she had been grateful. Now, as she walked through teh garden, she made her way to the store room. She opened the door and was met by the quarter master, who looked up as she entered.

"My lady," he smiled, standing. "This is unexpected. How may I help you?"

"I wish to see the passage," she said simply.

"Passage?" Mister Peregrin asked, confused. He was an elderly man, which short white hair and a clean shaven face.

"The secret passage that leads to the boats." She said simply, knwoing he was aware of the passage. His eyes shone with recognition and he bowed.

"Of course. I was not aware you knew of it's existence, this way," he offered, pressing the stone brick in the wall and the wall beside Morganna moved back. She had expected it, both Amena and Eion had explained how it worked, but seeing it herself she was stunned into silence.

All her life she had lived in the castle, how had she never known this was here, and what other secret did she not know. Mister Peregrin led her through the passage, a torch in hand, and offered her his other arm to support her. The floor was slippery and unfinished, and she accepted it. They moved down the steps and the view caught her breath. She had never seen anything like it, not even from the north tower. The tide was in and they could not reach the boat without wading through the water, but Morganna had seen enough. Mister Peregrin took her back and as she left the store room, she allowed herself a moment alone. She fell against the wall, gasping as she took in the truth.

The passage was real, and Eion had known of it. Brandon had known, but not told her. She understood why Eion had not; he had been ordered by Brandon never to speak of it, but at the same time she felt hurt he had kept it from her. Her thoughts turned to Brandon, keeping the secret from her, and the lie he ahd told when he said he would have told her if they'd needed it.

"Do not trust my cousin, or any Carnoustie." Sterenn's voice returned to her. It had been two years since her cousin Korneli had visited with his wife, but her words had shaken her, and now she was beginning to understand the depth of their meaning. Brandon wanted a son, and he had only married Morganna to get that and her title of Duke. He had kept this secret from her so that, if the castle had fallen, he could have escaped with his son and left her and the girls to die.

She shook her head, unbelieving. What other lies had he told her. She reached into the folds of her dress and drew the letter she had stolen from Brandon's office. It was from Korneli, invited Morganna to a ball in Glas Claddach in three weeks time. She took a steadying breath, then released it slowly, clenching the letter in her hand.

"You are of House Felandrison, and only we are your true allies," Sterenn's words again entered her mind and she knew what she had to do.

***

Morganna sat in her room, an embroidery hoop in her hand as she pulled the needle through the fabric, creating the likeness of a dog upon an island. By her feet, her younger daughter Britta played and in the opposite chair, Amena embroidered her own pattern. There was a knock at teh dtrap door to teh tower and she called for them to enter. It was her wet nurse, who bowed as she entered.

"My lady, the court has met and the verdict has passed. Eion is guilty." Morganna nodded, she had guessed as much.

"What is the punishment?" She asked.

"Brandon called for his head, but the court ruled ten years imprisonment." Morganna sighed with relief, then stood.

"Nurse, pack our bags."

"Of course," the wet nurse nodded, already knowing the Duchess' plans. Morganna placed the embroidery upon the chair and stood. She had not told BRandon of her pregnancy and now, as she ordered her daughters to prepare for travel, she made her own way to his office. As she reache dit he was rounding teh corner as well, following by Geoffrey and two other councilmen. They were debating teh trial and Morganna stood silently, patiently waiting. AS they neared the door, they stopped talking as they noticed her.

"My darling," Brandon smiled, uncertainly. "Do you have business with us?"

"Does a wife need business to visit her husband?" She asked simply.

"No, but this isn't a very good time," he argued, keeping his vocie calm.

"Well, I simply wanted to let you know before I left," she said simply, smiling as she held out the letter. "I received an invite to Glas Claddach. I'm taking Amena and Britta to visit their relatives." Brandon took the letter, frowning as he read it. She held her breath, anticipating his recognition. he must not had read the letter before she took it, for he did not show any signes of recognizing it.

"My lady," Geoffrey said, stepping forward and smiling warmly. "It is such a delight to hear you wishing to visit your family, however may I offer my assistance; the roads can be dangerous and I'd hate to let any evil befall you,"

"That is not necessary," Morganna said, she had known he would offer this. Remembering Sterenn's warnings, she would not allow him to accompany her. "I have arranged for a guard to accompany us. Perth's finest."

"Then allow me to join you," Brandon offered, fighting to keep the smile on his face from slipping. "I would love to see Glas Claddach,"

"It is simply a social visit," she objected, "And I know how hard you work; I'd hate to take you from your office." Just then, the wet nurse appeared with two young boys who carried several bags. Amena and Britta stood beside her, holding each tohers hands and smiling up at Morganna.

"Are we going on an adventure mummy?" Amena asked excitedly.

"Yes my dear," Morganna nodded. "And we're leaving at once." She bowed to Brandon and the other lords. "My lords," They all bwoed in return, except Brandon whose smile had faded. He stared blankly into space as she stepped around them, leading the small party down the corridor and out of the castle.

_________________
Ainmire Sera-Blodh of House Flenadrison, second of his name, King in the South, Ruler of Carrickshire, and slayer of false Kings.
"The Crippled King"
"Flanders"


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PostPosted: June 5th, 2016, 10:47 am 
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Year 496 of the Emperor, Phoenix 01|00, First year

The fresh sea air filled the castle gardens where the two girls with dark hair ran in the summer sun. Morgana sat in the shade of a birch tree with her youngest daughter, Kyna, on her lap. The two elder girls, Amena and Britta, were enjoying a game of tag while the midwife knitted nearby. Morgana took a deep breath and released it slowly. It had been three years since she had left Tremaine and in that time she had enjoyed her childrens' youth. Korneli and Sterenn had welcomed her with open arms and when Brandon had sent a request for her return Korneli had declined it with a carefully worded letter. She had given birth to her youngest daughter here in the palace and since then they had lived happily, basking in the riches of Glas Claddach.

Morgana had just picked up the fallen sock for her child when a young boy strode through the garden toward them. Marrec, Korneli's son, was a handsome boy of ten summers and he was always eager to please.

"Aunt Morgana," he called as he reached her. "This letter arrived for you. I asked if I could give it to you," Morgana thanked him and took the letter.

"Would you like a drink?" she asked him, smiling and indicating the pitcher of water beside them. Marrec smiled and took a mug from the tray. Morgana looked at the seal and her breath caught. It was the Carnoustie crest, the seal of Geoffrey. She handed the child to the midwife before opening the letter and reading it quickly. As she finished she slowly lowered her hands, her gaze drifting into the middle distance.

"What is it?" The wet nurse asked.

"Geoffrey...Geoffrey Carnousite..." she breathed. "He's dead. Passed away in his sleep." She thought back to the many letters she had ignored from him, requesting her return. He had pleaded with her to help him bring order back to Tremaine. He spoke of Brandon's mad will and his cruel reign. She had ignored them, thinking them ploys to draw her back to her husband, but to know he was actually dead...

"He was a good man," the wet nurse nodded slowly.

"He married me to Brandon," Morgana corrected her.

"Aye he did, but if you'll beg my pardon ma'am, he also protected you from him."

"Protected?" Morgana asked shrilly.

"Aye...you remmeber the stories they told about the boy?" Mrogana turned to Marrec then.

"Marrec, be a dear and take Kyna to play with the girls?" The boy nodded, taking the child clumsily in his tiny arms and struggled to carry her down the slight slope to where the girls were playing.

"You told me to think nothing of those," Morgana said under her voice.

"At the time I wanted to protect you," The wet nurse explained. "But they were all true...Brandon was always bedding women and whores..." Morgana shot her a glance and the wet nurse lowered her voice, eyeing the children nearby. "He wasn't a very nice man, I needn't tell you that,"

"No you needn't," Morgana nodded. "But Geoffrey didn't stop him."

"No, he encouraged him," The old woman wheezed. "He knew Brandon was a cruel man, and those women never went back to 'im if they could help it...I saw one of them afterward, oh she had been mistreated somethin' fierce. But your father-in-law saw to it that Brandon would do all this to them so he wouldn't do it to you." Morgana blinked.

"That makes no sense..." She breathed.

"Trust me m'lady, the things he did to those women wouldn't have bred any heirs..." she said quietly. "Geoffrey wanted your safety above anything else, so he tricked Brandon into treating you nicely so he could have his heirs."

"He has no heirs from me," Morgana said, her voice growing stronger again as she sat backward.

"Of course not m'lady," the old woman sat back as well. Morgana's thoughts returned to thsoe letters from Geoffrey and she remembered Eion and his trial.

He had been found guilty, but instead of facing death he had been sentenced to prison. She had not gone to see him as she had left before his trial. If what Geoffrey had said about the situation in tremaine was true, then parhaps it was time for her to return.

"Marrec," she called. The young boy hurried to her obediently. "Call you father for me, I have a question I'd like to pose to him.

***

Korneli had confirmed everything. The taxes in Tremaine had been risen so high poverty was rife in the streets. Trade companies were being driven to increase their prices to extortionate levels because of the taxes being forced on this and, as Tremaine was the major trade city in the South of Perth, they had little choice but to do business through it. The city was struggling under Brandon's rule and Morgana had decided. She would return to Tremaine and correct this inbalance. In her time in Glas Claddach she had attended the court alongside Sterenn who had taught her the arts of diplomacy. Now, Sterenn promised to accompany her to Tremaine while leaving teh children in Glas Claddach to be kept safe.

They had set off almost at once and when they had arrived in Tremaine it was to find many of the houses empty. The city was being starved by Brandon's rule and those that remained lined the streets begging for coppers. The women turned their eyes from the suffering and continued to the castle where they were met by a small abdn of soldiers. Among them stood a tall man wearing expensive robes of fine silk. He stepped forward to meet them.

"Duchess Morganna, it is a great pleasure to see you return to your home city. I am Councilman Cunningham and the Duke would like to see you in his office," Morganna nodded and dismounted alongside Sterenn. Both woman started forward but Cunningham held out a hand to Sterenn.

"The Duke only request Duchess Morganna, no one else."

"She is with me," Morganna nodded.

"The Duke's roders were very clear." He repeated. Morganna stared at him for a moment.

"What is my name?" She asked at last.

"Why, you are Morganna, Duchess of Carrickshire..." He replied obediently.

"And what is yours?" She asked.

"I am Seann Cunningham, Councilman of the City of Tremaine,"

"Then am I not your liege?" Morganna asked with deadly calm. The man frowned.

"Of course, my lady, you are the Duchess, but teh Duke..."

"Lady Sterenn is wife to my cousin, and cousin to the Duke herself. She is my companion in this journey and I wish her to join me in this meeting. If you try to stop her again I shall have you arrested before you can say the Duke's name." She spoke swiftly and without space for leniency. The man bowed his head.

"Of course, right this way," He led them through hte gates of the castle and through the familiar corridors. It felt strange to be back, especially being escorted by a handful of armed guards. Sterenn stood close by her side and together they continue to Brandon's office. Cunningham knocked on the office door and then entered, announcing their arrival. Brandon sat behind his desk, a small mountain of papers and scrolls littering his desk. He looked up with dark, sleepless eyes and stared at them. He took in Morganna, then Sterenn, and then turned to Cunningham.

"I told you to only bring one," He growled.

"I brought Sterenn," Morganna said courtiesly. "She is my cousin's wife, and my friend and I..."

"Leave us," Brandon cut across her. Cunningham bowed and stepped out of the room. "You too," Brandon nodded to Sterenn.

"She will not leave us," Morganna objected. "I wish her to stay."

"Leave us," Brandon ordered.

"She will not leave us." Morganna repeated. A hint of steel entered her voice and Brandon smiled. He stood then, stepped around the desk.

"My, look at you, the great Morganna, trying to be a Duchess again..." He trailed off. "Trying to be a Duchess again after running away with my children."

"I was protecting my daughters," Morganna said simply.

"Ah, protecting your daughters," Brandon repeated back to her. He had a wild look in his eye and his voice had become gravely and rough. It unsettled her.

"And while you were running around Perth, protecting your daughters, what of your duty to Carrickshire? What of your duty to me, your husband!"

"Carrickshire was left in the hands of your father and the city council. I believed them to be the right hands," He barked with laughter.

"Don't lie, you didn't give a shit about this city. You ran away from me like you run away from all your problems." She blanched. "You don't have the guts to take Tremaine." Morganna stared at him, then squared her shoulders.

"I admit, I didn't know what was best for Carrickshire, I didn't know much about anything back then. But I'm back now, and I'm taking back my title,"

"To take back your title you'll have to deal with me," Brandon growled.

"Not for much longer," Morganna said simply. "Brandon, I have with me a set of divorce papers." She nodded and Sterenn stepped forward, taking the scrolls

from her bag and placing them on the desk. "With your signature they will become valid and we shall no longer be husband and wife." Brandon stared at her, all trace of smile gone from his face.

"You can't..." he began, butshe cut across him.

"Oh I can, I spoke with the priests of Creeperism in Glas Claddach and with the legal advisers too and they assured me that a marriage can be annulled."

She smiled politely at him then. "Good day," She bowed her head slightly and turned to leave, Sterenn following.

***

Three days passed and in those days Morganna had wasted little time getting involved in the court. She had appeared the first day and the entire court had fallen silent at her presence. Instantly she had made her position quite clear with the point of cancelling state benefits for citizens who had previously worked for the crown. By cancelling these benefits Carrickshire would leave many veteran soldiers and retired workers in peril with little or no income. She immediately put a stop to it, rejecting the proposal flatly and declaring it would not pass in Carrickshire.

The Councilmen tried to appeal to Brandon, who sat in his chair the entire time. Morganna waited to see if he would speak, but he only stared at her. When she repeated that the bill would not be considered the councilmen relented adn moved onto teh next topic, taxiong the aethen populations for protection. Again Morganna objected to it, arguing teh Aethen were allies of the humans and their friendship in Carrickshire was the work of very delicately forged diplomacy between her father and the late Samaiah of Dawnstar.

The following days had followed in very similar manners as she fought to block the city council on every proposal that led to disadvantaging the poor and promoting corruption in the council. It quickly became prevelant that Brandon would not discuss court matters with her present. he seemed more to be observing her, as if waiting for an opening. It disturbed her, but she was determined not to let him unsettle her. Later today she was going to announce her plans to revert the previous tax rise applied by the city council and lower the council rent threshhold for the poorer households. It was a matter she had touched on yesterday and already she knew many would oppose her, but there were some she was hopeful would. Now, as she prepared herself for court, there was a knock at her door and one of those counsilmen entered.

"My lady," Gordons bowed to her. Jeremiah Gordons was a wealthy man who had earned his fortune through his sandstone quarry business across the bay. It was the largest source of sand and glass in South Perth and in his business he had set up many strong ties with dye manufacturers to open a wide range of stained glass options on the amrket. He was a strong member of the council and had quickly shown his apporval of Morganna's politics.

"Lord Gordons," She bowed slightly. "To what do I owe the honour of this meeting?" Gordons stood for a moment, as if uncertain how to proceed. In his hand he held smoking pipe which he tapped against his palm several times before replying.

"I wished to offer my support to the Duchess and her house," he began slowly. "It is my understanding that you have only recently returned to Carrickshire and I can only assume that you are in dire need of allies." Morganna nodded her head.

"I would be honoured to count you among my allies, lord Gordons," she smiled. He hesitated still, then stepped forward.

"In that case, may I offer my first piece of advice to you?"

"Go ahead,"

"Do not divorce Lord Brandon." Slightly taken aback, Mroganna frowned at him.

"Why would you advice such a thing?" She asked, suddenly wary.

"You are correcdt, under Perthian law you are permitted to divorce him," Gordons continued. "In such an instance the matter of your children would fall to the courts to decide. Seeing as Brandon has made little effort to recover them since you left I would be very surprised if he cared about them now. You would likely win full custody of them and you could return to Glas Claddach happily. However, under law the titles of the couple would remain with their first legitimate heir. When you married Lord Brandon, you submitted to the House of Carnoustie, therefor if you divorced him you would risk losing the title of Duchess and Brandon would be free to marry another who could bear him a male heir. Being male, they would gain prevelance in the eyes of the law and they would become the new Duke. He would win." He finished simply.

Morganna thought about his words. She had not considered the implications of him marrying again. She knew he would likely lose custody and the title would remain under the name Carnoustie, but she always thought Amena would take over in their stead. A male heir would disrupt that plan. She shook her head.

"What do you propose?" she asked.

"Cancel the divorce papers," Gordons said simply. "remain his wife in law and any male heirs he bears would be illigitimate. You don't need to like him just put up with him."

"What about the court?" She asked.

"That's the other thing I wanted to discuss with you," he said, moving closer to her. "Hold off on your proposal today, delay it for now. As you are you do not have the following to pull that proposal off,"

"I've managed okay so far," Morganna shrugged.

"That was with proposals from them. In the first instance a proposal is considered by teh Duke and Duchess yes, and if either objected it does not pass, however if they accept the proposal, which we are unsure if Brandon even will, then it goes to a vote from the council. You do not have enough allies yet to win the support of the council. Even those who would agree with you, they do not know you. I urge you to delay this proposal and spend some time getting involved in the council some more. Win some of them as your allies and then begin your proposals."

"But if it goes to a vote, I'd need to win a majority as my allies," She said simply.

"Then change the council," He said simply. "The city council is reelected every four years. If you win the support of the people, they will vote for your candidates. If they get into power you will be able to influence the decisions of the council more easily." Morganna nodded, then took a deep rbeath and released it slowly.

"This is more complicated than I thought," she admitted. Gordons frowned at her.

"It was never going to be easy," He said simply. She looked up at him. He was kind, and he was right, she knew he was right, she knew these laws and systems, she simply had not considered them. But he would not allow for weakness, she could see that. She nodded.

"I shall consider your words. Thank you. I shall see you at court later today."

_________________
Ainmire Sera-Blodh of House Flenadrison, second of his name, King in the South, Ruler of Carrickshire, and slayer of false Kings.
"The Crippled King"
"Flanders"


Last edited by Flanders on June 5th, 2016, 10:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: June 5th, 2016, 4:13 pm 
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It's Phoenix 01|00, as there is no 12, the Mercannum starts with 00 each Era.

Worrying news from Perth indeed, I do hope that the political strife there does not result in bloodshed.

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PostPosted: June 5th, 2016, 9:53 pm 
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Not to worry, this is was necessary writing for the plot, but lazy, I cba doing actual writing so there will likely be no bloodshed.

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Ainmire Sera-Blodh of House Flenadrison, second of his name, King in the South, Ruler of Carrickshire, and slayer of false Kings.
"The Crippled King"
"Flanders"


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PostPosted: June 7th, 2016, 1:01 pm 
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Brandon is wise not to antagonise the Aethen who reside within the Kingdom of Perth. Borders and Kingdoms of other races are paid little heed in Snow Elf society.

Brandon is bringing ruination upon the people of Perth. I do not know if my great ancestor Sameria would have stood for this.

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Gold Roads. Fractal Mining. Lore Compliance Ducks.


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