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The intrigue that drives, and plagues, the Territory of Dharo has built and destroyed empires throughout the Territory; and everyone is eager for political power. The reign of Rheava Evesham has been challenged by these power struggles and even more so by the undercutting of power in her Court. The game of politics had bred the need for Spies within the Territory and they have become the backbone of the Queen's reign.
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Author Topic: A Gathering of Allies and Enemies  (Read 878 times)

Description: attn: Emma and Margaret's Courts, plus any other Dharo interested parties

Offline Margaret Webster

  • Character Account
    • yellow2ss
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      Queen of Wartonshire Province

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      Dharo

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      Lene

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A Gathering of Allies and Enemies
« on: Dec 22, 18, 09:37:05 PM »
bid all who receive this
invitation to attend the



To be held at the Queen's Residence in Wartonshire. The Gala starts as the last light of the day fades and so begins the winter night. We gather to celebrate the coming of Winsol, the longest night of the year, and the joy of camaraderie and family.

Attendance is not required but encouraged for All Queens of Wartonshire, along with their Courts! Fashionable dress is a required and do not forget to dress warmly!






To the Queens of Northwood and Westwood

A Merry Winsol season to you all.

As we all begin the festivities of the year,  in preparation for the celebration of Witch and the Longest Night, I would first like to congratulate the both of you and the Queens under your direction on a fruitful and rich harvest season.   Wartonshire’s bounty shows how dedicated you and your people have been to the benefit of Dharo.   Our wool shares and weavings are the talk of all the realms and reports from our farms and hamlets have encouraging numbers for the spring foaling season.

There has been much talk and rumor about divisive feelings within our borders and I am stalwart in my sentiments that these are nothing more than jealous words meant to undermine the upward direction that we have been making.   We should make a united front to all of Dharo that Wartonshire is strong and solid and a beacon of what all of Dharo should emulate in commerce and prosperity.

In gratitude, I am throwing a gala to be set on the eve of Winsol.  You, your courts and the Queens under your guidance are of course invited.  I am also extending invitations to the hardworking merchants who have contributed to our rich mercantile tradition.  This will be an excellent opportunity for all of us to meet together, celebrate the year past and give our thanks to the Darkness and Mother Night for our fortunes and prosperity.

I look forward to seeing you all in a few weeks.   Hospitalities will be extended to all Queens and distinguished members of their First Circles.  Enclosed are the formal invitations to be presented upon arrival. As stated, formal attire is required.

I look forward to seeing you all in attendance.



Lady Margaret Webster,

Queen of Wartonshire.


Margaret placed the flourish of her signature on the last of the letters and reached for her wax and seal to place her official mark on the closure of the letters before handing them off to a waiting messenger to set about on his delivery.   Once alone, she sat back in her chair with a pensive but satisfied look on her face.   

If one cannot go to the mountain, you bring the mountain to you.

She had been making plans for months to send Owen as her representative to the court of Emma Morgan, to serve as ambassador and inside informant but there was always something that had been keeping him here.   Emma Morgan had been Queen for most of the year and she still didn’t have a strong sense of what was going on in her court.  None of the merchants she had sent to collect local information had given her much to work with and she still didn’t think anyone but her son would bring her the insight she needed.

Tenting her fingers as she thought, Margaret hummed a few notes of a tune that might have been the beginning of a song, perhaps a song that might be played at the upcoming gala as she began to work out the details in her mind of how fruitful the evening would become.


**special thank you to Rated Em for the wonderful stationary!

Offline Gwenyn Webster

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    • te2ss
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      Ruler

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      Erica

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Re: A Gathering of Allies and Enemies
« Reply #1 on: Jan 14, 19, 11:20:27 AM »
This gala was - frankly - a trap.  Gwenyn knew it was a trap.  She knew this because she had trained beneath her mother, she had been raised near her mother, and she knew her mother too well to think that it wasn't a trap.  The Question, with a capital Q, was 'Who is the intended target?'

Gwenyn would like to think it wasn't her. After all, her mother was her mother.  She was the Province Ruler, and the head of the family.  If she wanted to put her thumb on Gwenyn's pulse, she could easily do so.  Besides, Gwenyn was aware that there were plenty of loyalists to Margaret within her Court and within her village.

No, she doubted that this particular trap had Gwenyn as a target - but that didn't mean it couldn't ensnare her anyways.  Her cheeks flushed a little pink as she thought of James, eyes closing as she remembered that first time they had met.  Had she ever been as aroused by mere words in her life?  No, she was fairly certain she hadn't.

The idea of being able to put her mother in her place, the vocalization of that desire, was still enough to make her want to reach for Hugh and find a dark corner somewhere.  Maybe later.. after she was certain that her mother was thoroughly distracted by other guests.

Her throat worked at clearing itself as they approached the doors, and she risked a glance at her sister.  Kerry had chosen to come with her - and bless her sister for that bravery.  "Forward into the fray, sister mine."  She smiled, gently settling her fingers against Kerry's wrist for a few heartbeats before lifting her chin and pulling on the court 'mask'. 

Gwenyn had the appearance of 'Cold Webster Bitch' down pat.  It was a look that should have made her mother proud - but she was fairly certain her mother never felt pride in her children for what she felt was the 'bare minimum' they could accomplish.  Margaret never seemed to understand that emotions were not a burden.

She pasted on a polite smile as they entered, sliding her way across teh floors so that she could approach her mother.  Hugh and Arthur flanked herself and her sister.  They were tall men, well built - and Gwenyn hoped to create the impression that they were all well-heeled servants beneath her mother.  Gareth and Arnold were joining the crowd on the floor, because Gwenyn didn't wish to force them to deal with her mother's scrutiny just yet.

Especially Arnold.  He was too new to her Court, too new to her Bonded, and she wasn't going to expose him directly to Margaret until she was certain that he could handle the oddity that was Margaret Webster's idea of a 'warm greeting'.  Not to mention she wasn't going to risk James' nephew.  Gwenyn wished to ensure that her current impression was enough to keep Margaret's eyes less focused upon Arinthorpe right now. 

Upon reaching her mother, she gave a curtsy.  "Lady Webster.  Mother.  You have outdone yourself with the party, as always."  Her voice remained calm.  Cool, even.  "It is good to see you."  No it wasn't.  Gwenyn would be happy to never see her mother, ever.  But that would be rude to say aloud.  "I shall not take up your time, mother.  I'm certain the other guests wish to give you their greetings."

Offline Kerry Webster

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    • rose2bo
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      Caryn

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Re: A Gathering of Allies and Enemies
« Reply #2 on: Jan 25, 19, 10:41:30 PM »
Kerry strode in at her sister’s side, part of the glittering throng that made up Gwen’s Court. She generally preferred these formal gatherings of predators compared to the infrequent occasions Margaret called for a ‘family gathering’ (i.e., business meeting). There were more potential targets for her mother to pick at here and more bodies between her and Margaret, which helped reduce the inevitable point in the evening where she’d have to stifle the urge to leap, shrieking her rage, and claw into her mother’s irritatingly healthy and unnaturally youthful face.

On the other hand, however, she would have vastly preferred Robert to escort her- she missed his warm presence by her side, his arm holding her tight and reassuring her that she was loved, his booming laugh that had taught her it was alright to indulge in ‘vulgar displays of emotion’ (as Margaret termed them). But he had no place at a function that was more political than personal, and so she would have to make do with Gwen’s still rather impressive men to stand between them and potential harm. Or between the other guests and them, depending on one’s point of view. And she did have Gwen to stand at her side, radiating that subtle sense of implacable poise and strength that most Queens were capable of exuding like they breathed. Kerry could summon something approximating that attitude, but usually only in an emergency where calm and capability were paramount, and such situations were generally frowned upon at parties. Spoilsports.

Which begged the question of exactly what sort of bloodbath would occur tonight. Margaret was never festive for its own sake and undoubtedly didn’t give a damn about sharing any joy with the subjects in her Province. The Queen had hit the theme of unity rather strongly in her invitation, however, which pinged Kerry’s internal alarm in the favor of the Cymrean guests. Unless Margaret suspected Gwen of planning some sort of rebellion, with the substitution of Kerry for her own stooge? Sadly unlikely, that one. It would mean more credit from Margaret than their mother typically gave either daughter.

And that meant she’d be working doubletime tonight. Both the Arinthorpe Healer and the Coroniad agent had to keep their ears and eyes open for information of interest to their patrons. It was important to Kerry to protect both Gwen and the Cymrean cause and she’d do anything to protect them both- even attend one of Margaret’s parties. The things she did for those she loved…

Kerry stepped a pace behind as they approached their hostess, letting Gwen greet Margaret first as was proper. “Lady Webster.” She nodded at the Queen with her own smile. “Wartonshire is lovely as always. May Mother Night bring you all the things you deserve this Winsol season.” A polite listener might think it a lovely sentiment. Margaret would likely to be savvy enough to take it in the spirit which Kerry meant it.

Not that she believed Mother Night existed as more than a metaphor since that entity had failed entirely to answer her one consistent prayer since her teenage years- to remove that stick lodged up her mother’s backside. A pity, as Kerry couldn’t imagine the feat achievable with less than a deity’s level of power.

Offline Emma Morgan

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    • yellow2te
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      Ruler of Westwood

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      Gavin

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    • Granddaughter of the Cymreans you failed to kill.

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Re: A Gathering of Allies and Enemies
« Reply #3 on: Jan 26, 19, 01:05:27 AM »
The invitation made Emma’s skin crawl. Margaret Webster’s fake camaraderie made her want to vomit. She pretended to be an ally, but favored Northwood at the cost of Cymrea and its people. Her District shrank more and more each year while Northwood grew. The maps that Edward showed her made her angry at first, then just scared. If Cymrea shrank any further in the next few years, her people wouldn’t have enough to eat without importing food. They couldn’t afford that. But Margaret Webster wanted to play at unity and compassion in the name of making a statement.

She nearly burned the letter without responding, but Godfrey stopped her. She had to take back the narrative or Margaret and her people would continue to paint the Cymreans as backwoods relics, clinging to dead history and faded glory in an age that had passed them by. Pride suggested that she stay home and tell Lady Webster to go fuck herself.

Confronting Lady Webster and her Court was the stronger move.

Emma spent the day of the gala resting and getting prepared. Large gatherings like this always made her feel like a prized pig being trotted out to be shown before the sale and slaughter. She supposed such thoughts weren’t far from the truth. She woke early that day to start her work in the garden, preparing new plots and herbs for her personal garden. She reminded herself to coordinate further with Angharad on the Spring Rites so that both Queens could honor their people with the sacrifice of Craft and blood to the land. She also needed to discuss the next part of her plan with her Triangle so that they could begin shoring up Cymrea’s power base.

Hours before the party, she bathed and styled her hair, then finally dressed in a sleeves dress the color of wine. It showed off the tattoo on her arm and the slight at the right thigh showed off the tattoo that trailed down her leg. She wanted the Dharoans to see that she was proud of her heritage. Let them hate. Let them sneer and snicker, so long as they kept their opinions to themselves. The Dharoans held a low opinion of her and her people, but she wouldn’t let them call her a coward. 

She exited the carriage, helped down to solid ground by Godfrey. The rest of their party assembled at her back. Emma took a deep breath, stood up straight, and then stared at the palace that Margaret Webster called home. She looked around at all the people who’d come to pay her homage and respect her authority.

Someday, she would tear this place down to its stones along with Margaret Webster’s dreams.

As one, they marched toward the front doors.

Inside, people slowed or stopped altogether when the Cymrean entered. A few did, in fact, make haste to get out of her path. Emma paid them no mind. She walked with sure, confident steps to the receiving line to greet the elder Lady Webster and acknowledge her rule over Wartonshire Province. They could say whatever they wanted in the papers after tonight, but they would not say that Emma failed to pay respect to the Province Queen.

Good evening, Lady Webster. I hope this longest of nights finds you in good health and spirits. I look forward to finding common ground between my people and yours in the coming year. There is a matter that we must discuss, but it can wait for now.

For the benefit of Wartonshire Province, of course.
” Emma said, inclining her head to the elder woman at the exact degree necessary to show basic respect for her station, but nothing more.

The two Queens would play together well for this night.

Tomorrow would be different.



Offline Dare Comstock

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    • te2ss
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      Ruling Queen

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      Northwood District

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      Dharo

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      Reid

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    • She who dares, wins.

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Re: A Gathering of Allies and Enemies
« Reply #4 on: Jan 26, 19, 02:47:38 AM »
Knowing that the Spymaster would be very, very interested in anything Dare could glean, not attending Margaret Webster's party was never an option. She wanted to say no, to turn her back on the party just for this one night, because the cold weather was never good for her health, but that wasn't an option. Both her political standing as Queen of Westwood and her ability to be of service to the Territory Court depended upon her presence that evening, and so she had taken more of her relaxant than was, perhaps, wise. Not enough to lose her head, but she would feel it tomorrow in muscle cramps and a fierce aftershock pain.

She arrived after the other District Ruler, which was a shame. Westwood was a place of interest to her as the ruler of Northwood. The two Districts were usually at odds, Northwood subsuming more and more of the District formerly known as Cymrea, but Dare frankly didn't have the attention span or the care to continue a silent and largely pointless political war. She wanted to rule Dharo one day, and 'Dharo' was more than just a land boundary or a specific field. If it was more beneficial to her future prospects to give land back to Westwood, then she'd certainly do that. That was certainly another reason for her to behave.

It was a political event, and so Dare eschewed her usual comfortable outfits for something more glamorous. Were fashion less of a weapon in a Queen's arsenal, she might have worn a dress, as everyone else did. Instead, she wore a dramatic, asymmetrical coat and vest. The work was easily recognizable as that of the Queen's own designer, Rhiannon Devine, and Dare wore it to full advantage. It was tantamount to a declaration that her rule would not end in Northwood--that she had her eyes set on a much, much greater prize--but, she hoped, it also showed her seriousness. The avant-garde cut, the designer, those said their own thing, but the dark, almost drab colors let everyone else know that she was ready to work if it was necessary.

Nasir was her only escort that evening. Most of her First Circle had gone home when she'd released them from their duties at the start of Winsol. In truth, she'd wanted to be alone for the coldest part of the year. That made it easier to conceal how the cold affected her health, how much harder it got for her to breathe. Still--a viscount on her arm was nothing to sneeze at. Titles were rare, and having a titled male was rarer.

Being a Queen in Dharo was complicated, she thought, and also boring. But it was what she was.

Following behind Gwenyn Webster and Emma Morgan, Dare didn't actually feel that lacking, which was a new development. She was a different Queen than they were. She had different things on offer. Both of them could be useful to her in the future, and if not to her, then to the Spymaster. It remained to be seen. She curtseyed to Margaret, taking advantage of the fuller skirt of her coat, and made her proper obeisances: "Lady Webster. Thank you for the invitation. Your hospitality is, as always, appreciated." Perfectly polite, perhaps a little curt, but Dare couldn't be on all the time, and her social awkwardness was a known trait. She'd take what she could get to get just a little space to keep her head on straight.

Offline Nasir Vasile

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      First Escort

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Re: A Gathering of Allies and Enemies
« Reply #5 on: Jan 26, 19, 04:05:16 AM »
Nasir was, unlike his Queen, a little more ill-at-ease when it came to matters of Westwood and Cymrea. The matter was due to the Cymrean blood within his veins, though his mother had given up her own family name and married into the Vasile as many often did. There was more than just a little Cymrean blood that ran through the Vasile, more than just a few of his cousins that chomped at the bit to do something more. It was not entirely unlike him, how he had taken a stand and went against the word of his grandmother, the family Matriarch, and now served in Northwood.

His presence, his service, his bond to Dare was almost a small coup of its own. Landed, titled (he was a Viscount), and having been out of the political field for years - the fact that the Vasile were back said something. What that something was was still being determined. Tonight, however, Nasir found that he was not particularly invested heavily in the political games that were to be played though he would take part. Tonight he was more concerned with his Queen, serving as her only escort of the evening.

The asymmetrical cut of his jacket, the coloring of his suit, was all a match to his Queen's. The detail work was not as elaborate, save for the hint of vest visible underneath his jacket, and that was purposeful because he was here in support of Dare. Nasir was not here to pull attention away but to secure that when all eyes were upon her, he made sure that she had a safety net. He was particularly concerned given the cold weather and her demeanor this night. Nasir stayed close to her, relying upon his particular empathic strengths, to keep tabs on her and those that she spoke with.

Where Dare might ruffle feathers, her awkwardness well-known, Nasir was the exact opposite. He was warm and charismatic, a balance to his Queen as a good Warlord Prince was meant to be. Just as he was meant to use his particular skills, to keep tabs on the ocean of emotion around him and share so that Dare was able to navigate this night without any hiccups.

He fell into the same sweep of a bow as his Queen did, greeting the Queen Margaret Webster. Speaking smoothly as Dare finished, Nasir also provided that bubble of space his Queen always needed. It made him seem like a particularly protective Warlord Prince but who could fault someone so genuinely charming?

"It is an honor to finally meet you, Lady Webster," said Nasir, all sincere charm. "I thank you for the invitation," as one had come for not only his Queen and her Court but one to the Vasile as well, though his grandmother would never attend such a gathering, "and offer the apologies that my Grandmother, Lady Melina Vasile, could not attend. The festivities are quite lovely and I look forward to enjoying the gracious hospitality you have shown us all this evening."

Offline James Driscoll

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    • bo2sapphire
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      Gavin

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    • I've come to burn your kingdom down.

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Re: A Gathering of Allies and Enemies
« Reply #6 on: Jan 30, 19, 11:27:58 PM »
Arnold’s time in Arinthorpe was a boon to James.

James regretted, from time to time, that he hadn’t taught his nephew to be more discerning with the information that he parted with in regards to his Queen. He’d already picked up on the notion that Gwenyn wasn’t happy with one of her males, that she was excellent in bed (James merely smiled at that), and that she held a deep dislike her for her mother, the Province Queen. He was glad that he hadn’t brought Arnold into the Wardens because he didn’t want the messier details of his life to touch his Connor’s son. He was one of the only pieces of his brother that James had left in this world.

Also, Arnold made for a terrible spy.

But when the young man told him all about the Winsol gala at the Province Court, James suggested that Arnold secure an invitation for him. A collection of Wartonshire’s Queens promised an interesting evening, even if there wasn’t an actual catfight. James knew some of the Queens who’d be in attendance, but he wanted to see how they all related and reacted to each other within the confines of Protocol and station. James also had a theory to test and he needed to be in the room to see it through. So he visited Rihannon for a new suit (and just to say hello) then spent the remaining days before the party compiling dossiers on the Queens in attendance and the members of their Courts.

When the night in question arrived, James took the coach from Coventry to Thorcaster, his eyes closed in meditation the entire way. Blake, Arnold’s twin brother, sat quietly across from him inside the coach. James sensed his discomfort. Blake had taken the news of his brother’s bonding to Lady Webster poorly, though he hid it well. James had sympathy for his nephew. The Bond snared men every day, destroying and rebuilding their worlds around women who may or may not be worthy in a matter of seconds. Sometimes those Queens honored the families of their bonded just as they honored their males.

Others cared nothing for them.

When you see Arnold tonight, talk to him.” James said, his eyes closed. “It would help him to know that you’re still there for him. His life has changed, too. He has to find his own way, but he’s still your brother.

Yes, Uncle James.” Blake said automatically. James didn't press the point. Blake had to find his own way through this, too.

When the coach arrived, both men stepped out into the crisp evening air and hailed a carriage for the ride to the palace. He hoped that Blake found a way to enjoy himself. There would be plenty of beautiful women to take up his attention and connections to make. Coventry was the seat of the Territory but it wasn’t the only place in Dharo worth noting.

They arrived at their destination twenty minutes later and stood in the receiving line to meet Lady Webster. James greeted the Province Queen with a warm smile, his dark gray suit lending him an impressive form.

Lady Webster, thank you for opening your home to us. It is an honor.” James said, bowing deeply to Margaret, then moving aside so that Blake could introduce himself.

Blake bowed deeply to the Province Queen, taking her offered hands and conducting himself with the grace that James expected. Moreover, he was pleased that the Queen Bond hadn’t chosen this moment to snatch away his other nephew. Margaret Webster was a beautiful woman.

She’d have to pay if she wanted what was his.

Offline Edward Braddock

  • Character Account
    • pd2sapphire
    • warlord
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      Steward of Westwood

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      Wardens/Cymrea

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      Dharo

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      Phedre

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    • You are entitled to nothing.

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Re: A Gathering of Allies and Enemies
« Reply #7 on: Jan 31, 19, 01:06:03 AM »
Edward had missed the previous years festivities  while he prepared to move from Coventry to Westwood and to spend one last Winsol with his parents and sister before a life of service claimed him entirely. It wasn't that he wouldn't see them in the coming years. His sister, Emily, sat beside him in the carriage on the way to the gala. Emma had asked him to invite her. No, it was that even then, having only been in the presence of his Queen for a matter of hours, he knew he would willingly remain at her side for the rest of her life if she bid it.

He hoped she did. He never wanted to be without her again.

Over the last year, he had studied tirelessly to bring himself up to speed on what Emma and Westwood were facing. He had studied the old maps and texts that spoke of Cymrea and he had talked with the other members of the Court in an effort to understand the history of the Cymrean people. Emma's distaste for this show of solidarity while her land was being whittled away was completely understandable. Politics, however, was a cold hearted bitch who cared little for what harm she did to those forced to play in her web. Maybe it was his closeness to Emily that made him think of the image of a Black Widow playing with everyone's lives.

When they arrived, Emma was helped from the carriage by Godfrey while he helped Emily. As a group, they gathered at the Queen's back and then followed her inside.  Edward was confident in Godfrey's ability to escort their Lady, but his need to protect her didn't diminish simply because she had a suitable Escort. He layered his own Sapphire shields over Emma's fair skin, aware that she would feel his Craft against her.

His Queen approached the receiving line and greeted their host. Edward didn't miss for a moment the way Emma spoke of her people. Everything from her gown to her displayed tattoos to the way she held her shoulders screamed that she was Cymrean. A warrior at ease was still a warrior.

He bowed before Lady Webster, offering a proper greeting that would shame neither his Queen nor his former employer. He was still heavily associated with Prince Driscoll and would do nothing to see his reputation harmed. After they moved through the line, he took a moment to check in with his Queen, and then another to check in with his sister, before going to gather drinks for the Westwood Court. Even in his mind he questioned whether he should be referring to it as the Cymrean Court, for his Queen had made no effort to conceal that is what she was.

When he saw James enter, something heavy that was weighing on him seemed to lighten. James had brought his nephew, something he wouldn't have done if he sensed real danger here tonight. It was a reassuring sign from his friend and mentor. Not to mention it was the first opportunity since his bonding to Emma the previous year that he had to introduce them.

He approached James and greeted him warmly. "James! I didn't know you'd be here!" He motioned back to where Emily and Emma stood, caught up in conversation. "Come meet Emma Morgan. She's incredible. Oh, and I know Emily would love to see you."

Offline Angharad Maddox

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      Ruler

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      Tormaa Village

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Re: A Gathering of Allies and Enemies
« Reply #8 on: Mar 02, 19, 01:25:20 PM »
The invitation to attend Lady Webster’s gala came as a surprise to Ange.  Yes, she was a Queen, but as far as Queens went, she was a relatively untried Village Queen.  She didn’t have impressive family connections, and her continued support for her Cymrean people made her a difficult party guest for some. 

But Emma had extended her an invitation to arrive with the Westwood Court, and she owed the Tiger Eye Queen too much to not attend. Emma Morgan had taken a young Queen under her wing, when it would’ve been more politically advantageous to let her go with references. While that would’ve been enough to secure Ange’s loyalty, Emma’s single minded determination to return Cymrea to her rightful place, meant everything.

Her Court was finally coming together, and while there was still the occasional member who dug in their heels, Ange was starting to feel like they were beginning to make real progress.  Which meant that  leaving the village for a few days to attend the gala, wouldn’t be too stressful.  She could focus on watching out for political landmines, and not be worried about how things were going at home.

With Idris and her Master of the Guard serving as her escorts, Angharad entered the gala with the Westwood Court.  She’d chosen to dress conservatively, opting not to spend precious marks on a dress she’d only wear once or twice. Head up, shoulders back, she made her way through the room.  The last thing she wanted to do was appear weak, or like she couldn’t hold her own.  As the junior Queen, she let Emma make her greetings first, before dropping into a curtsy, and making her greeting to the Province Queen.  She kept her greeting short but polite, and stepped aside for the next person in line.

Offline Margaret Webster

  • Character Account
    • yellow2ss
    • queen
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      Queen of Wartonshire Province

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      Dharo

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      Lene

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Re: A Gathering of Allies and Enemies
« Reply #9 on: Mar 27, 19, 12:22:35 AM »
Margaret glanced at herself at the full mirror at the top of the main staircase of her residence, picking off an invisible strand of hair as she studied her physique.  Her Consort placed a gentle kiss on her bare shoulder.  “You are perfection darling,” he purred and she gave him a flickered glance through the glass at him.

“Your flattery is appreciated darling,” she said dryly as she turned her head from side to side to study the work of her maid on her long coppery hair.  She was pleased that the tailor had done such a grand job altering the dress  she had decided to wear that night.  Black, with silvery threads woven into the fabric to give the illusion of a night full of twinkling stairs without being gaudy and outrageous.  The top of her shoulders were bare accentuating her long slender neck that was wearing a silver chain choker that held her Summer Sky.  The skirt had originally had an outrageously high slit but she had a few inches closed up.  Not that her legs were less shapely and firm as any of the young chits that were to attend tonight, but there was a line between elegant and grotesque and she would never wear anything that was less than elegant.

He placed another kiss to her shoulder, this time closer to her throat and while usually his mouth would warm and entice her, she waved him off with a note of irritation to her face.  “Control yourself,” she scolded sharply as she wiped the spot on her shoulder with her gloved hand.  “There is time enough for that later.  My guests should be arriving shortly if they have any sense of timing and I won’t have your mouth prints marring my skin for their amusement and chittering.”   Not that she minded if any of them noticed her Consort, he was well worth admiring on many levels.  Oh she was well aware of the whispers when she had taken him to her bed but she was a Queen and had hungers like any woman.  When Margaret did anything, she would expect nothing less than the best and he certainly proved himself at the top of his skills.

He presented his hand to her and she took it, letting him walk her down to the reception hall that had been prepared for the gala.  She had seen that one of the formal dining halls of the former Queen had been extended out into a larger ballroom that could be use to host any sort of Court gathering.  It meant that anyone who wished to consort with her Court would have to come to her.  It was just another symbol of power.  Margaret did not trouble herself to attend to anyone else’s needs.   The only acception was the Territory Queen of course but with all the recent troubles, there hadn’t been a summoning to the Capital in a few years.

Margaret motioned for a server to bring her a glass of wine which she would continue sipping through the evening.  She would never embarrass herself by becoming inebriated in public and every member of her staff knew that any perceived refills of her glass would simply be water tinted red to appear as wine.   After making a sweep of the room, she waited for the first of her guests to arrive.   Her court had arrived of course.  They knew what sort of trouble awaited them if they made a scene of arriving after any of her guests.   She spotted Gregory off to the side speaking with Paxton and Owen, while Tyson seemed to be enjoying a heated discussion with her Steward.   Most of her Triangle had settled into discussions with other members of the First Circle and as the announcement was made that the first of the guests had arrived, she felt the presence of her Consort and Master of the Guard flanking her.

She was most pleased to see Gwenyn arriving at the head of the gathering, paired with her other daughter Kerry.  Margaret graced them with one of her rare pleased smiles, a genuine smile.  Good, their teachings hadn’t been in vain after all if they remembered that she prefered punctuality over the silly idea of “fashionably late”. Late was late, and stank of procrastination and laziness.

 Gwen had brought her own males of course, and Margaret gave them an assessing look as Gwenyn gave her a Protocol perfect curtsey befitting both their stations and addressed her.  Fixed with the same cold but courteous expression that she often wore herself, she could not be mistaken for anyone else’s child, though she took after her father in the shape of her nose and eyes. 

“Gwenyn, welcome and Merry Winsol,” she said, leaning in to brush her lips against her daughter’s cheek still chilled from the evening air.  “Your compliments warm a mother’s heart.  I am pleased that you were not too engaged in your own Winsol activities to attend.”   She nodded her head and motioned with her hand towards the crowd, “Prince Sandford has already arrived.  Do be a kind dear and seek him out before you become too engrossed in the festivities.  You know how much he adores to see you.”   She turned towards her youngest, holding out her arms.

“Kerry my dear, you look delightful,” she said, extending her other daughter the same cheek brush of her lips.  “There’s almost a glow about you, which is a pleasant difference from the sallow ill expression you had the last time we saw each other.   It has been far too long.  I should think you should come by more often.”   She glanced over her shoulder, giving a hint of a frown.  “No escort dear?  A pity, really.  I will speak to one of my First Circle about seeing that you have company for the evening.  It would not do well for my guests to see you unattended tonight.   Really Kerry, it is about time that you settle in and see to beginning a family.  After all, time waits for no woman.”   She patted Kerry’s hand before letting it drop.

“I will of course see the two of you during the evening, but I must greet my other guests,” she said turning her head from their faces to focus on the next announced arrivals.

She did the obligatory greets from some District Queens and their escorts, falling into the familiar pattern of polite acknowledgements and the annoyance of necessary small talk   a soft hush came over the room causing her to look over the shoulder of the man who was making a horrible attempt at false modesty.  She hadn’t really meant her nicety to be taken so deeply, but social contracts dictate that she acknowledge something positive about each guest and the man had launched into a jovial tirade about sheep breeding. 

Margaret steeled her expression into polite interest as the young woman entered and was announced.  Lady Emma Morgan had arrived, flanked by another young woman and several men, one of whom caught Margaret’s eye and held it, while a vice grip curled in her lower belly.  Mother Blessed Night, the man was beautiful and virile, broad of shoulder with a warrior’s lope that made her mouth run dry.  It had been a very very long time since any man had caught her fancy that  hard.

Swallowing quickly, Margaret excused herself from Lord...oh whatever his name was and stepped forward, the picture perfect image of hostess personified. 

“Lady Morgan, I am so pleased that you and your escorts could attend.  Your words warm and delight me. I know there has been much said in these many months about the future of Westwood and I am certain that together we will be certain that everyone in Wartonshire will reap the benefits.  I had been worried that there would be some objection from your Court to your attendance..  I’m so very pleased that there was no trouble in your arrival.”  She cast a quick glance that the markings of ink and color that adorned her visible skin, feeling something along her spine bristle.  Let the Queenling wave her banner of Cymrea if she felt it gave her an edge.   Glancing down at her arm and then the line of leg that showed through the gown, she said, “Those are remarkable designs.  Perhaps you would be so kind to indulge us with their meaning.  My Steward especially, I’m certain he would love to hear more about your ancient heritage.  He is a bit of an amature historian.”   

There was a young woman with Emma’s party, who made a tense but appropriate curtsy as she turned her gaze her way.  Very young in fact, a woman who was certainly not a tried and true Queen.  She had males at her back, and a quick glance gave her the information that one of them wore a Master’s ring, which told her that she had indeed formed a court.  Village Queen then, probably a protege of Emma’s to come as a part of her retinue.

“Lady Maddox,” she said, nodding her head in recognition of the young Queen, “I am very pleased to see another of Westwood’s fine leaders tonight.  Please, enjoy yourself tonight.  This is a celebration of your good works as much as any of ours.”  Let the child feel welcome and appreciated. Margaret could only imagine what little whispers had been filling her ears.  Perhaps a few honey dipped words would sway her to a more agreeable viewpoint.   Her eyes drew down her outfit.  It was lovely, but very simple and far less elegant than the event deserved.  A Village Queen from a poor family, if she couldn’t afford much in the way of proper Queenly dress.  Perhaps a gift would be in order, something that wouldn’t be too extravagant to insult but just enough to entice.

The Steward of Emma’s court, a man she recognized only because her own Steward had given her a fair description of the man also approached to make his greetings and she gave him a cordial acknowledgement.   “Welcome Lord Braddock, I am so very pleased you could make it.  Enjoy the evening and I look forward to being able speak with you tonight.   It is with the valiant service of men like you that is the backbone of every Queen here.”  She released his hands and let one of the men at her back motion him along the line so that she could greet the next person.

Seeing the next arrival gave her a segue into fostering the upstart Queen into someone else’s hands. “Ah, Lady Comstock, your timing is impeccable.”   She motioned the District Queen forward briskly.    “Lady Comstock, I would love to introduce you to Lady Morgan of Westwood.  I’m certain that the two of you will have much to discuss this evening, seeing as you are sister District Queens.  Lady Morgan, Lady Comstock is has been recently elevated to a District position at just about the same time as you I believe, give or take a few months.  I’m certain that as young new Queens,” and she let just a touch of stress on the word new change in her voice, “there is much you would like to compare.  Later on in the evening, I will try to steal the two of you away from the frivolities for a more serious discussion.”  She waved her hand, “but don’t worry about business now.  Tonight is a night to celebrate all the gifts this year has brought us and all the great things the new year will show.”

*I’d be most interested to see what sort of things Emma Morgan discusses with you,* she sent privately on a distaff thread to Dare.  *Things perhaps that she might be more willing to open up about with someone who shares much in common.  Gain her trust and see what little morsels fall from her lips.*  Her mental voice was a soft but firm command, Queen to Queen. 

She turned to Dare’s escort , offering her hand to him as he bowed.  “Prince Vasile, Lady Comstock has told me many good things about how diligently you have been serving in her Court.  Northwood is a rich place for your presence, I am sure.   How is your Grandmother?  I had heard she was ill, I hope that it passes quickly.  She will be sorely missed among the assembled.”  Her eyes slipped over the man.  Dark, she liked dark men but he was slender where she enjoyed muscle. Elegant and a courtier to be sure, but not someone she would entertain in her bed, unless there was something to be gained from the favor besides sex.

The next man that approached spoke of power and prestige, his eyes sharp and penetrating as he stepped up and took her hands in his.  Even if he wasn’t a Warlord Prince, he would still carry the air of a man used to getting his way by whatever means necessary.  His smile was warm, but there was a shrewdness behind his eyes that told her he was calculating every person in the room and how he would best approach them.  She gave him an equally warm smile, “Prince Driscoll, such a pleasure to meet you.  Your reputation has preceded you.  Your business ventures and connections have always been a brilliant example of the glory of Dharo.   I’m so pleased that you were able to attend.  I hope to speak with you in the near future on some advantageous business ventures.”

And so the first hour of the gala went, Margaret catering to the needs of the guests to feel recognized and acknowledged by their Queen; offering platitudes and personal touches to her greetings as supplied by her Steward on a tight thread.  Silly things really, to think that she had nothing better to do with her time than to remembered babies and personal events in the lives of every single person in Wartonshire but it would soften their hearts and give her a little more of their enduring loyalty.  She thought it was foolish, she was their Queen and shouldn’t have to bargain for their loyalties, but it was one of the lesser necessities of ruling and after so many years, Margaret had made it an artform.

Offline Dare Comstock

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Re: A Gathering of Allies and Enemies
« Reply #10 on: May 31, 19, 02:08:43 PM »
Nasir shored up all the little inadequacies Dare had, and once more she promised herself to pay more attention to the way he finessed the people around them. One day, she might need those skills herself. For now, she would be grateful for her gentle Warlord Prince, his kind and polite voice at her elbow.

As Margaret made the introduction, Dare made the turn to smile at her Westwood counterpart. Emma Morgan was beautiful in a way that Dare certainly wasn't. She had the draw and allure of a powerful, vital Queen. Dare might wear a Darker Jewel, but she was sure if the pair of them were lined up together most males would choose to serve Lady Morgan. In another Territory, it'd be Emma who ruled the larger District, and Dare the smaller. Yet this was Wartonshire, this was Dharo, and Dare's bloodlines (such as they were) were better. Her connections were stronger. Perhaps her strength was simply subtler, she told herself, but she was a valuable piece for more reasons than her father's name.

She'd heard Emma's comment. For the benefit of Wartonshire Province. A coded message, perhaps. Dare herself might have worded it differently, and she was a known malcontent. For the benefit of the Province, and not of the District where Emma ruled, that was a specific phrasing with a loaded meaning. Dare needed more information before she could speak one way or another about what that loaded meaning was.

"Lady Morgan," she said, forcing brightness into her expression and voice that she didn't particularly feel. She held out her hands, not in formal Protocol greeting but in the casual greeting of two Queens of equal standing. Margaret couldn't take offense at this willful statement of equality if she'd directed Dare to make friends, though it might be displeasing to the conservative crowd that their pureblood Dharoan girl was treating a Cymrean as her equal. "I'm so pleased to finally meet you. I believe our Stewards have spoken, but the two of us, not so much. May I introduce my First Escort? Viscount Prince Nasir Vasile of Westwood." She smiled and smiled, her cheeks aching with the unfamiliar expression. "As Lady Webster said, I'm sure we have much to talk about."

Offline Nasir Vasile

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Re: A Gathering of Allies and Enemies
« Reply #11 on: Jun 01, 19, 01:18:06 AM »
There was something about the way that Lady Margaret Webster's gaze slid across Nasir that he was not particularly fond of (nor of the oily feel of her emotions). Oh, he smiled and greeted her--charming to a fault at Dare's side--and accepted the words about his grandmother. Was there a point to say anything? Probably not. His grandmother would rather be dead than caught anywhere political despite everything that he believed in.

That included Cymrean affairs, which was Nasir's current thought process was. At Dare's side, as she greeted Queen Emma Morgan, the Warlord Prince found himself reminded of such things. There was Cymrean blood within the Vasile, some within himself courtesy of his mother though his grandmother had fought hard to keep that from public knowledge. It was one of the reasons why the Vasile had been considered backwater, not just because they kept themselves and had pulled back from the political arena.

It was a very real concern and one of some importance when it came to his family. Yet for the time being the Vasile--with Nasir as Dare's First Escort--were tied to Northwood until another got it into their head to ignore the edict of his grandmother, much like he did. Nasir played his part well, a pleasant smile on his face as he noted the rather deliberate greeting that Dare shared with Lady Morgan.

Well, that set the tone, did it not? Dare's mind was whirring, Nasir knew it was, even without the added perk in her voice or the smile that lit her face up. The Warlord Prince swept into his own greeting once Dare introduced him, warm and charming as he always was. Lady Morgan ruled the District in which his family called home, it wouldn't do to be anything less.

"A pleasure to meet you finally," the words an echo of his Queen's; on purpose no less. "I have heard my mother speak highly of you and your rule within Westwood." The Westwood Court had also recently gotten horses from the Vasile stables as well, as the documentation had come across his desk as he handled the family business. Still ... this night was about the Queens--about Dare and Emma and the others--even if he was remembering all over again the small coup that it was that Dare had bonded a Viscount of Westwood District.

Offline Kerry Webster

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Re: A Gathering of Allies and Enemies
« Reply #12 on: Jul 28, 19, 09:21:11 AM »
Dig at her looks, check. She had a husband who still looked at her like she was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen, she that one was easy to ignore. Try harder, Mother. 
Invitation for a visit- nope. Over her dead body. Hell would be a picnic compared to more time in Margaret’s company that she had to spend. “Thank you for your concern, Mother, but I have an Escort. My noble sister has consented to share her males for the evening, should I not find worthy company on my own.” There, salvo delivered in return- a veiled insult that the kind of company Margaret kept was not desirable enough to be seen with.

Kerry’s blood chilled when Margaret mentioned starting a family (or was that the touch of the Queen’s hand? She’d heard malicious entities could haunt you like that). It was one of her greatest nightmares that Margaret would find out about her grandchildren, particularly her Queen one, before they were old enough to defend themselves against her. It was perhaps that which prompted her to respond as she did next- though, really, it would take a better woman than she to pass up the parting shot her mother offered.

“Indeed. I know it grieves my siblings terribly to see what time has done to you.” She smiled serenely as the Queen moved away, eyes narrowed thoughtfully on Margaret’s pseudo-Consort. Her mother had offered one of her first Circle as company- perhaps she ought to take the woman up on that. See if she could keep that frosty air when another, younger woman turned her lover’s head.

“I might do something rather immature tonight, Gwennie.” She exhaled sharply, looking at her sister with the ghost of a smile on her lips. “But potentially immensely satisfying. Talk me out of it?”

Offline Godfrey Craig

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Re: A Gathering of Allies and Enemies
« Reply #13 on: Aug 01, 19, 09:48:17 AM »
Godfrey was used to stares.  Between his Caste, his Jewels, and his physique he was an eye-catching specimen.  He'd learned to make use of it over the years.  And that use, at the moment, was to act as both a lure and a guard.  So he settled himself at his Queen's side.

This was his forte, after all.  He was her First Escort, and so his place was to guard her at events such as these.  Then, of course, there was the added boon of all his time out and about.  He'd learned to swim amongst sharks and become a shark himself to do so.

This court,  this event, was full of them.  All the shimmering eyes and the gleaming smiles were predators' gazes and sharp jagged teeth waiting to sink into anyone stupid enough to drop so much as a single smudge of blood.

Politics... his boon and his bane.

As Emma, his strong and ferocious Emma, gave her greeting to the Queen of the Province he inclined his head slightly and locked gazes with her.  Other males would have looked away.  Godfrey did not.  Margaret Webster in her youth must have been jaw dropping - for even in her current age she was stunning.  That, he was certain, took more effort than some might think. 

It was to be admired. 

And watched, carefully.   For anyone that could use their looks as well as the Queen obviously could was to be engaged carefully.  He did not speak, but he did finally drop his eyes to his own Queen and grant her a warm smile before escorting her away from the greeting line.

Let Margaret Webster watch as he helped his Queen swim through her waters... and let her want,  if she so desired.  He wasn't above playing bait.

Offline Gwenyn Webster

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Re: A Gathering of Allies and Enemies
« Reply #14 on: Aug 01, 19, 11:53:53 AM »
Containing the smile, and giggle, as she heard Kerry's words to their 'beloved' matron proved difficult.  Gwenyn managed, of course, but it was difficult nonetheless. 

Curious, she set a hand against Kerry's arm and helped drag her off to somewhere polite... and a bit distant from others.  Well, others that weren't her own escorts, of course.  Hugh dutifully placed himself between them and onlookers, and Gwen finally turned a small smile in Kerry's direction.

"I have been hoping to do that sort of thing in public for years... but never have had the opportunity to get away with it.  Good for you."  She gently squeezed Kerry's hands, because her Healer sister needed it, and then glanced back towards Margaret. 

Which meant peering around the finest ass in Dharo, but that was fine. 

"As far as immature, sister... that depends on the immaturity.  Is it something that would scandalize mother but cause no territory wide drama? By all means, indulge your whimsy.  But clue me in first.  If I'm going to have to hear about it from her later, I'd like to enjoy it before she drives me insane."

Was that too much ask?  Of course not.  Surely Kerry wouldn't mind sharing a bit of her juicy and hopefully dastardly plans before enacting them against their 'beloved' mother?  Her eyes settled on James and she felt her attention instantly drift.  She could still feel him, sometimes...  and realizing that it was warming her blood, she forced her eyes away from him for a moment.  Back to her sister.  Yes.  To a safe subject... safer..  not really.

Arnold, I've spotted your Uncle.  You should really have him come over for a drink.  Did your brother come along too?

She was hoping that Arnold was happy.  Truly she was.  Distracting her warm thoughts by thinking of others was an old trick, but one that worked quite well.  Even now.

Offline Emma Morgan

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Re: A Gathering of Allies and Enemies
« Reply #15 on: Aug 08, 19, 12:04:01 PM »
I’d be thrilled to explain these markings to anyone who’d like to learn more. Keeping Cymrea’s heritage and culture alive is one of my highest goals.” Emma said, her gaze warm and level even as it was directed toward Lady Webster. Emma exchanged pleasantries with her easy enough, but she knew that wearing her markings as visibly as she had would invite a response. Already she felt the eyes of several aristos on her. They were making their judgements and decisions about her. Emma didn’t care. She wouldn’t be forced into the box or the role they wanted her to play.

By all means, I’d love to bend your ear about matters within the Province.” Emma said.

Emma chatted with Edward’s sister, Emily, between further greets in the receiving line. She was nearly home free when Lady Comstock caught her eye. Emma knew her only by reputation thus far, but that reputation was a positive one. The Queen of Northwood District offered her hands, so Emma stepped forward and took them to greet her as an equal. She wanted to learn more about Lady Comstock’s loyalties and thoughts where Cymreans were concerned. Edward had proven that not all Dharoans were inimical to the plight of the Cymreans, but sorting the good from the bad would take precious time that Emma worried she didn’t have.

Emma recognized, however, that Lady Comstock had just greeted her as an equal rather than a savage best kept at arm’s length. What reaction would that draw from the men and women in this room tonight? Emma knew that it wouldn’t accord her any new respect overnight, but it could lead to other people reaching out and attempting to make inroads where hesitation lingered just moments before.

Lady Comstock, Prince Vasile, the pleasure is mine. I’ve looked forward to this meeting. My Steward speaks well of yours and the people speak well of your rule.” Emma said. Dare Comstock had the makings of a Territory Queen in her, if more candidates didn’t present themselves in the next decade or so. Too many unknowns existed where Darienn Comstock was concerned. Emma didn’t like that. She needed to learn more about the other woman as soon as possible.

I know that we’re all here to enjoy Lady Webster’s hospitality tonight, but I hope that I can host you both at Cardiff in the future. I’d love nothing more than a good relationship with my fellow Queens. For Wartonshire’s continued success, of course.” Emma said, looking between the pair. She wanted to guide them to a corner of the room and speak, just to see who among the Lady Webster’s people paid them more attention than was necessary. She didn’t think she’d reveal many (if any) of Lady Webster’s spies, but she’d know who the busybodies and xenophobes were without question.

I hope we’ll have a chance to speak privately before the end of the night. For now, duty calls.” Emma said politely, though she wondered just who Edward was bringing over. She stepped away from the Queen of Northwood and her First Escort, knowing that she’d be all over this room tonight making connections and generally trying to forge a path toward independence for her people through a field of political tricks and traps. The thought of doing so was daunting, but it also made Emma’s heart race.

They could try to keep her down, but Cymrea would come out on top.

Frey, my darling. Please join me. Edward’s located someone we should meet.