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A Most Delicate Discourse

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A Most Delicate Discourse

Post  Wynnsaren on Thu Jun 20, 2013 4:06 pm

24th of Sarenith, 4711


The ambassador anxiously twisted one of the laces of her bodice about her finger as she paced the floor of the castle library. She'd arrived a bit earlier than their scheduled meeting time to focus her thoughts but it did little to curb her concern regarding the king's possible reactions to her inquiry.

It was just such a personal topic. . . Far more personal that any she'd broached with Thaddeus before. While she might have just gone about her travels and kept a watchful eye for potential queens, it just didn't feel right to do so without his input or at very least his consent.

Wynnsaren was dressed and packed for her journey, wearing a light blue riding dress with supple deerskin leathers beneath and her black hair pulled back into a braid at the nape of her neck to keep it from knotting in the wind. She looked forward to the journey, for this time she came bearing good news. Lives would be saved because of the actions taken by Matsuro Shi these past days and even Mayor Selline wouldn't be able to dismiss that, though she doubted he'd acknowledge the success.

The talks with Ereval went well, just as she knew they would, for it was one thing to hear rumors and make assumptions about King Thaddeus, but meeting him face to face could sway any negative opinion. There was a personal magnetism about the man that Wynn had rarely encountered in her seventy-four years walking the land beneath the stars. He was born a king. It just took a little while for his Fate to catch up with him.

Wynn found herself calmed by those thoughts. She certainly needn't worry about finding a suitable woman that would be attracted to her king, it would be far more difficult to find one that wasn't. No, the only trick would be finding one that he would find appealing and worthy of the title of queen of Novastasia. The oracle's lips moved in prayer, asking the gods that his stars might lead him to such a woman, for too often it seemed that the choice of marriage for love was stolen from kings in lieu of marriage for political purpose.

She wished so much more than that for him!

The aasimar plucked a random book off the shelf, thumbing through it as she continued her pacing. The heels of her riding boots clicked in syncopated rhythm on the stone floor as she moved and after a few moments she came to realize that the footfalls she could hear were not hers in total. Wynn looked up across the large room knowing she was not alone, though her clouded silver eyes failed her at such distance.

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Post  Colin Marcus on Fri Jun 21, 2013 12:37 am

Thaddeus was in a great mood this evening. Sarala had questioned his handling of the elves, and perhaps more negotiations would have been prudent. Still it had worked as he had hoped it would. There really wasn't much give and take in the discourse, and frankly other than a little more land than he'd hoped, they had agreed to everything he'd truly wanted them to.

Negotiations complete!
 
Happily he marched down the hall to the library where Wynnsaren had agreed to meet him. His grin slipped a bit as he saw she was ready to leave again as soon as she left here. It appeared as other nations started to notice Novastasia... they would be seeing less and less of their diplomat.
 
"Wynn, how fares your afternoon?" He said as he walked across the room to where he was sure she'd see him.
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Post  Wynnsaren on Fri Jun 21, 2013 12:42 am

"Very well, my King." She curtsied deeply after slipping the book back onto the shelf. "I'm glad for the good news I have to bring back to Mivon. What you've accomplished this morning saved many lives both human and elven and even if our southerly neighbors don't give the credit that is due, I most certainly will."

Wearing a bright smile, Wynnsaren moved over to one of two velvety armchairs that stood beside one another. Upon sitting, she patted the arm of the adjacent chair, requesting that the king take it for himself.

The ambassador wasn't sure about him, but she definitely wanted to be sitting for this conversation. . .

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Thaddeus Medvyed

Post  Colin Marcus on Fri Jun 21, 2013 12:44 am

Thaddeus moved to the offered chair and sat down. Her words struck an interesting chord. He'd just saved many lives... human and elven. In essence he'd just ended one war that his people weren't even involved in!
 
"That... is a lot of lives..." he whispered in awe as the realization dawned on him. As a young paladin he often had dreams of saving lives... though usually more akin to defending Oleg and Svetalana or any number of individuals. Granted, this was done to AVOID a war... but he hadn't really put a face to the people who actually were dying.
 
In one swoop, he may have saved more lives than Sir Tambor had in years of active duty...
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Post  Wynnsaren on Fri Jun 21, 2013 12:56 am

"It is," Wynn agreed with a nod. "You should have seen the butchery we walked through in the forest as we were seeking out the elves. . .   So many dead!  Human bodies were piled high against trees, but no elven corpses so I assume they took care of their own. While they were pretty tight-lipped about how many of them there were, I've no doubt they suffered heavy casualty as well otherwise they may not have been as willing to relocate."

She had a sudden urge to start fiddling with the bodice laces again, and considered stalling for a bit longer but there was a schedule to keep. Aravel, Kazimir, Glas and two other soldiers would be ready to begin the journey south with her in about an hour, and Wynn had no idea when she'd be back to discuss this with the king further.

"Your Grace. . ." The aasimar began tentatively, really having no idea where to start such a ticklish subject. "I know how you prefer to speak plainly and forgive me, but I must admit I'm finding it difficult to do so in this instance, since I tend to rely on the dance as a buffer for my own anxiety. . ."

Gods, she was stalling again.

"Um. . . It was requested of me. . . That I might look for. . ."

Wynn sighed deeply, shut her eyes and shook her head in personal disappointment. You already agreed to this, so just spit it out and ask! She inaudibly reprimanded herself. If it goes poorly then she'd be leaving town for awhile anyway, so the escape plan was already in place. Good to have in a pinch.

She pulled herself together and opened her eyes, turning to face the king more fully.

"What is it that you look for in a woman?"

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Re: A Most Delicate Discourse

Post  Colin Marcus on Fri Jun 21, 2013 1:03 am

"What?!?!?!" Thaddeus gasped. It felt like someone had just sucked the air out of the room and he stared at the oracle as if she'd just grown an extra head.
 
"I don't... I mean..." he felt himself blush at the unexpected question and wondered just how unkingly he appeared at the moment.
 
"Why... Why do you ask?!?" was all he was able to say.
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Post  Wynnsaren on Fri Jun 21, 2013 1:05 am

As soon as the words had tripped from her lips, Wynnsaren realized that she'd already bungled it. Hopefully not beyond repair.

She paused a moment, gazing at him apologetically and then abruptly stood, beginning to pace in front of his chair.

"I was asked that, in my travels, I keep an eye out for prospective queens for you, Your Highness. . ." The oracle clasped her hands behind her back while she paced. "Nothing beyond that, you understand, but while I might have some idea of the qualities which would be desirable in a queen, I realized that I have no idea what qualities you might find desirable in a woman."

Her eyes peeked up at the paladin who looked about as uncomfortable with the topic as she was.

"It was believed that you might be too busy to seek out such potentials on your own, so with my traveling, I was a logical choice to do so.   I wanted to meet with you because this wasn't something I wanted to do without your knowledge, and especially without knowing your personal. . . preferences."

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Post  Colin Marcus on Fri Jun 21, 2013 1:28 am

"Sarala....." Thaddeus said through gritted teeth. This was the kind of thing he expected from his sister... even after the Cor situation.
 
"No.... not Sara. Zaistrun. Sarala would have wanted to watch every bit of the awkwardness this produced. Zaistrun would actually think this... mission a grand idea."
 
He put his hand up to his face and could feel a sharp pain suddenly behind his eyes.

"Wynn... I'm so sorry, he had no right to ask that of you..."
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Post  Wynnsaren on Fri Jun 21, 2013 6:58 am

The aasimar stopped her pacing and looked at him curiously.

"You don't approve of the idea then. . .

"Forgive me, my King, but might I ask what it is that you object to? Is it that you are simply not intersted in romantic pursuits at this time? Maybe you don't believe me capable of identifying the type of woman that you would find worthy, and in fairness I have little to no experience at this sort of thing myself, so I could understand your doubt," she admitted with a chuckle.

"But Zaistrun means well, and I think you know that. He's concerned about Novastasia is all. He's concerned about you. If it means anything, his intention wasn't for me to look for women who would bring the most political power to the kingdom, but someone who could fulfill the roles of both wife and queen. Someone whom you could love."

Wynn sat back down in her hastily abandoned chair and smoothed the folds of her dress out of habit.

"Perhaps he hasn't the right to ask such a thing of me, but you do," she offered with a slight smile. "If you wish it of me of course."

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Post  Colin Marcus on Fri Jun 21, 2013 11:28 pm

"I don't... I'm not..." frustration tinged his voice as he tried to put into words thoughts he'd barely thought. Within moments he found himself pacing the room too.
 
"I... am not... opposed to romantic pursuits, but... I'm... uncomfortable with the idea of 'sending' people to find women... regardless of what is fashionable amongst the nobles back home.
 
"Nor am I a fool. I understand the idea of queens and heirs and kingdom stability. However, I don't feel the need to rush anything. Before I start to worry about handing a the kingdom to an heir... I think there should be a solid kingdom to pass on."
 
"I know that on paper... it's an important step," he spread his arms helplessly," but how is that a good idea? Yes... I could die against the trolls or whatever other new danger shows up. I understand that. But how does having child too young to do anything help the matter? Where would we find this stranger of a queen? Mivon?"

He shook his head in frustration. "What makes her loyal to me or my ideals? Leaving the kingdom in the hands of a Mivonian queen... would be tantamount to handing Novastasia to Mivon.

"Or anywhere else for that matter..."
 
He visibly calmed himself as he realized he was beginning to rant. He returned to his seat and tried to save some dignity. His twitching hand made him feel the results were mixed.
 
"I don't believe my queen would come from 'shopping," he stated finally. "Some woman coming to the castle to 'audition' for my affection... I would need a friend first and then see where things go from there..." He had a difficult time meeting her eyes by that last part.
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Post  Wynnsaren on Fri Jun 21, 2013 11:30 pm

A half dozen different points and arguments flipped through Wynnsaren's mind before she finally decided just to throw them all out the window.  Clearly King Thaddeus had his heels dug in on this issue.  Nothing she was going to say would change his feelings on the matter and she had to admit to herself that she was glad of it. 
 
She smiled warmly at him as all of her anxiety drained away, and she pushed a few wayward hairs back behind her ear.
 
"May I tell you a story, your Highness?"
 
Upon the king's consent, the oracle continued.
 
"About sixty years ago, I was living in the palace in the kingdom of Lingshen.  My father told me it was a great honor and I was treated well and was allowed to go wherever I pleased within the walls.  I was taught to dance and to read and write, and how to interact amongst the nobles of that society.  And they had the most beautiful gardens there," she sighed wistfully.  "Cherry blossom petals fell like snow in the spring and created the sensation of strolling upon a soft, pink cloud.  The scent of jasmine drifted among the architecturally twisted fir trees and nightingales sang within the branches." 
 
Wynn's mind drifted a moment at the memory before she turned her attention back to her king.
 
"The gardens are the only thing I miss about the place because I lived as a veritable prisoner.  The cage may have been gilded, but it was still a cage.  Father told me that it was a better life for me than the one I'd find on the road with him and for a while I agreed, so entranced as I was with the wonder of it all, but the novelty wore off shortly.  I was escorted everywhere and never given explanation as to why.  I was locked in my rooms in the evenings and the windows were barred and shuttered for 'my protection.'  All that 'protection' muffled the song of the stars and I grew restless.
 
"When I was fourteen, I'd been living in the palace for five years, and an artist came to draw a picture of me for a pamphlet.  Apparently he wasn't given the memo that I was on a need to know basis, so he talked as he drew and then I came to understand why I was given this honor of living in the palace. . .
 
"I was to be put up on auction," she winced as if saying it aloud pained her.  "Pamphlets were handed out to anyone with means to pay for Saishono Haku.  First Night.
 
"You see in Tian Xia. . . at least parts of it, it is customary to find young girls and train them to be courtesans to serve in the palace.  Once they are of age, then their virginity is auctioned off to the highest bidder.  One night and they are returned to the palace, or perhaps an additional, more nominal fee is paid to keep her on as a concubine."
 
Wynn cleared her throat and shifted in her seat, poorly concealing her discomfort with the topic.
 
"The other girls in the palace, both younger and older than I, my friends you understand, were excited for me for they knew I would bring a high price due to my unique parentage, and they gambled amongst themselves guessing at how much I would be worth.  The whole idea sickened me physically, but this was how it was done.  Tradition!  I came to realize that just because something has always been done that way, doesn't mean it's not a stupid idea.
 
"But what could I do?  I was guarded day and night by then and locked in my cage awaiting my fate which was placed in the hands of the man with the most money to spend on a virgin with celestial blood. 
 
"A few days later, my father had seen one of the pamphlets that were floating around the city, and it was he that got me out of there, though he claims not to know how it happened.   He sneaked up to my boarded window and the guard beside it just looked at him and nodded as if he didn't mind him being there.  The shutter was unlocked, so he claimed, and when he pulled at the bars behind them, the whole grate came off in his hands.  Now, I know for certain that the window was secure, because I assure you I tested it at every opportunity.  I can only attribute my escape to divine aid and the bravery of a gnome whose adopted daughter was in trouble."
 
The aasimar smiled as she finished her tale, her fingers tracing patterns in the velvet arm of her chair.  Lifetimes ago, she realized, but the memory of those days still affect her and how she reacted in certain situations.  Still, Wynn felt that she had grown stronger through the trial and she'd learned so much during that time that would benefit her throughout her life, that she couldn't bring herself to regret her time there in spite of the unfortunate circumstances.
 
 "I guess I just wanted to say that I am glad you're fighting for your freedoms in this, for a king is not as free as the world may think.  Tradition and custom can easily be a cage, especially for those of the noble class.  Assert your freedoms where you can, King Thaddeus, for as you well know, there will be times where you must willingly abandon personal freedom for the greater good."

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Re: A Most Delicate Discourse

Post  Colin Marcus on Fri Jun 21, 2013 11:42 pm

Thaddeus listened in horror and anger at the perverse customs of a land he'd so far only heard good things about. He felt anger and nausea just hearing the story, and he couldn't imagine how much worse to live it. He found himself quite happy that the people who put her through that were likely dead... and that Tian Xia was too far away for him to do anything about this... 'tradition.'  
 
"I think I would have liked your father very much," he said with a wistful smile, as he tried to flex a little life into the white knuckled hands, that he just realized was gripping the arm of the chair. While not averse to the idea of divine intervention, he couldn't help thinking there was more to the story. Possibly more then even Wynn knew. He could easily imagine a father going to great lengths to enact a heroic rescue with the help of a few sympathetic guards. It would have been an adventure worthy of any book on these shelves. Yes, he would have liked to meet this gnome.
 
"Thank you for sharing that... I have the feeling that you don't tell that story often. The memory obviously makes you uncomfortable."
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Post  Wynnsaren on Fri Jun 21, 2013 11:59 pm

"Not often no," she chuckled, "and those few times I have, I've always left out the little detail about Saishono Haku

"It's just not. . .  Not something that needs to be discussed in idle conversation and certainly not in mixed company, but in this case I wanted you to know where I was coming from; that I understand.  Besides,"  Wynn's lips turned up in a lopsided grin, "if you haven't treated me like a pariah after knowing that I have visions and disappear occasionally, then I'm fairly sure you won't be overly bothered by the minutiae of my life."

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Post  Colin Marcus on Sat Jun 22, 2013 12:08 am

"Not at all..." Thaddeus said with a smile. "On the contrary, you've lived a fascinating life, and I'd like to know more. You've met so many strange people in so many strange lands... it kind of boggles my mind."
 
He bit the bottom of his lip as he debated whether to go farther. Finally he decided that it was unlikely this conversation could get more awkward... for all parties, so he finally asked straight forward.

"Wynn, could I ask you something a bit... discourteous? Possibly even rude?"
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Post  Wynnsaren on Sat Jun 22, 2013 12:16 am

"We've been discussing unseemly topics since you walked in here, Your Grace. . .  My friend," she winked, after laughing aloud at his request.  "Besides, I don't think you could be rude if you tried, so I've no issue answering anything you might put to me."
 
She propped her elbow up on the arm of the chair and rested her head in her hand attentively.

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Re: A Most Delicate Discourse

Post  Colin Marcus on Sat Jun 22, 2013 1:53 am

He chuckled self-consciously as approached the delicate subject.
 
"Sarala recently told me what she learned from you about her heritage. It's taken her a long time to work it out for herself... but there are things that are still difficult for her, things I won't ever really understand.
 
"What is like to see so much... and live so long? To tell a story of people who were friends... and know that they are either very old now... or most likely gone?"
 
He shook his head as the chuckle became more of a laugh. "Mother would have chased me out of the room with the fireplace poker if she heard me ask a lady something like this... Father too for that matter. Hardly 'proper.'  
 
"I've buried my parents... and I accept that as natural, but it sounds like Sarala could easily bury my grandchildren.
 
"Just the idea upset her so much... but you've lived this life, and instead of being arrogant, as 'experience' makes most people I've met... you're so... well adjusted."
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Post  Wynnsaren on Sat Jun 22, 2013 1:56 am

"How is that an improper thing to ask?"  Wynn smirked, teasing him just a bit.  "Just because you're calling me old?  No, it's a completely valid question."
 
She'd wondered when the conversation about Sarala's newly discovered life-span would come back around to her.  Wynn had heard nothing since that night on Candlemere Lake, so apparently the sylph kept the information to herself for awhile.  She understood completely.  It was a lot to digest.  Best to get something of a handle on it herself before sharing the news with the others.
 
"I've learned many things in my life, but the more I learn, the more I realize just how much there is that I don't know, and being aware of ignorance certainly doesn't promote arrogance.  Arrogance does however, denote ignorance," she winked.
 
"As to your sister, Sarala will have a different experience than I have had so far. . .  She was raised in a human family, where I was not, and truthfully I've never stayed in one place long enough to worry about outliving many of my friends, though there have been a few.  It's simply a part of life at this point.  This is still new to her but she'll learn to adjust her perspective in time.
 
"You have to live life in awareness of others and treasure the times you have with people, for we truly only have a short while with each other on this plane.  I am not saddened by the deaths of those I've loved, but cling fondly to their memories hoping that in some way I may have had a hand in enriching their lives.  In the end, no matter what race we are, that's all we can ask. 
 
"There is no day that is promised us after all, and in my personal case, I cannot even promise you that I'll be sitting here thirty seconds from now.  I was taken so abruptly last time," she sighed, referring to her unexpected transportation to Candlemere, "and I can't say that it won't happen that way again."
 
"But in any case, it's not the span of life, but the fullness of it that is most important.  Years do not equate to quality," Wynn smiled; hints of sadness pulling at the corners of her almond-shaped eyes.  "While I've lived a pretty long life by human standards and I've seen many things, I don't regard my life as full yet.  I might be old, but I'm not finished!"
 
The oracle cocked her head to the side slightly and eyed the king curiously.
 
"Does it seem odd to you that I'm old enough to be your grandmother?"

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Post  Colin Marcus on Sat Jun 22, 2013 2:04 am

"Odd?" He asked as he tried to put his thoughts into words. He thought about it for a moment as he stared at the beautiful woman who looked younger than he did. And would continue to if the responsibility of the kingdom 'salted' his hair as Sarala teased it would that morning.
 
 "Truthfully, it takes me by surprise every time I remember it."
 
His eyes danced as he laughed at old memories. "You really don't remind me of Grandmother in the slightest!"
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Post  Wynnsaren on Sat Jun 22, 2013 8:29 am

The aasimar laughed brightly and arched an eyebrow as she turned her smile upon the king.

"Good answer," she grinned, "but I'm sure your grandmother was a lovely and kind woman, so what exactly does that say about me!?"

His reaction to her playful jest made her chuckle all the more and Wynn wiped away a silver tear that was gathering in the corner of her eye.

"Ahh, I'm going to miss our conversations, my dear King!

"I'm guessing that I will be in Mivon for some time after the elves have departed their current territory. . . Hopefully your successes here will be enough to sway some of the houses away from war," she thought aloud.

"I assume you'll be moving to attack the trolls as soon as the elven situation has been concluded?"

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Post  Colin Marcus on Tue Jun 25, 2013 4:10 pm

"Hopefully not too long," he said with a laugh. His grandmother could be kind, it was true... but his main memories of her were that she was old, smelled weird and such a proud and 'refined' woman that it was obvious to all that she'd had a hand in matchmaking his mother with her son.

"I plan to go after the trolls as soon as I can..." His brow creased a little as he thought of the obstacles. "I've no intention of turning this into a suicide run. We need more soldiers to win it with as little loss on our side as possible. Hopefully, we'll have the resources necessary to move out as soon as we have the... permission to move in."
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Post  Wynnsaren on Tue Jun 25, 2013 5:24 pm

"I know Mivon's attitude  is irksome," she nodded, hearing the annoyance in King Thaddeus' voice, "but a bit of patience in this regard will keep Novastasia out of open war with a militarily powerful kingdom.  It will only take us a few days to return south.  Once we meet up with the elves, I'm sure they'll waste no time in gathering their people and heading north, so I would be surprised if you have much of a wait once you're ready with your forces.
 
"They'll be watching you know," she added after a moment's pause.  "How you deal with Hargulka will demonstrate to Mivon both your power and the value of your word.  Something that they woefully undervalued when I last spoke with the Mayor."
 
Wynnsaren grimaced at the memory.  As much as she didn't enjoy being openly mocked, she especially didn't like her king being openly mocked. . .  She'd be glad when Mayor Selline was proven oh so wrong in his erroneous judgements.
 
"Well," the ambassador straightened in her chair, as if in preparation to go, "it goes without saying that I will pray for your safety against the trolls.  Stick Hargulka a few times for me if you would as I take the caging of people as a personal slight," she winked.
 
"Now are you sure there's nothing that I can pick up from you from Mivon while I'm down there?  Blonde, brunette?  Thick, thin?  I hear there's a special this month on short, slightly claustrophobic red heads. . ."

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Re: A Most Delicate Discourse

Post  Colin Marcus on Tue Jun 25, 2013 5:32 pm

Thaddeus laughed heartily at that. "I'm pretty sure I don't want anyone finding a wife for me off the discount racks..." He shook his head trying to stifle his chuckles.

"Seriously though... that's not something I'm worrying about right now. In time... and prosperity... and hopefully peace, then maybe. Then I'm sure Lords and Ladies will be popping out of the woodwork with eligible young daughters looking for a piece of the kingdom.

"We shouldn't need to hunters to track them down like rabbits."
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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Tue Jun 25, 2013 6:15 pm

"Ahh I see. . . So you'll let the women come to you then!" Wynnsaren chuckled and rose to her feet. "I suppose that is one of the benefits of being a king, that you might have eligible girls of impeccable pedigree lining up out the castle door. I sincerely hope that such a thing will work out in your favor, Your Highness. In its own time.

"Speaking of time," she smiled reluctantly, "it's time for me to be off.  If I keep Kaz waiting too long, he'll be grumpy and I'll have to listen to his complaining about the merits of punctuality for the rest of the day."

After pulling her riding gloves out from where they'd been tucked through her sash, the ambassador offered her liege a grand curtsy.

"I wish you all safety and fortune on your journeys, my King, and may the stars guide you and hasten your feet onward toward your victory over the trolls."

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Wynnsaren

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Thaddeus Medvyed

Post  Colin Marcus on Wed Jun 26, 2013 11:02 am

Thad nodded reluctantly. The elf was eager to return, and if Wynn inteaded to travel with him as far as she could, then this respite had indeed come to an end.

"I wish the same to you... Take care in your journey, and hopefully the next time you come home you can stay a little longer."
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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Wed Jun 26, 2013 12:19 pm

With an accompanying smile, the oracle nodded in agreement as she stood before the seated king.

"I would like that very much. . . I've only just started breaking in my new quarters in the castle! However, this business with the elves needs to be concluded without incident and you've got a tenuous situation with Mivon that I hope to help you try to diffuse." She sighed and rubbed the back of her neck. "I'll be sure to send you frequent reports on the progress, but with all of that, I'm honestly not sure when this 'next time I come home' will be!

"As you know, I am always at your service and may be recalled at anytime unless they boot me out of Mivon altogether," she grinned, "but I intend to see that they learn to find value in my presence. We need friends down there."

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