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    Noble Machinations

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    JazzyJ
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    The Belltower

    Post by JazzyJ on Tue Dec 12, 2017 9:40 pm

    @Cione


    After the announcement, you feel a tap on the shoulder. A tall, sly-looking Xohulu mage greets you with the tiniest of bows. "You are Lady Gilavai, am I not mistaken?" He eyes you up and down, without the slightest hint of fear or deference in his eyes or posture. "I apologize for my rudeness, but my mistress bid me to summon you to the House of Aglipay. Shall I escort the Lady, or will she find her own way?"
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    Cionie

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    Re: Noble Machinations

    Post by Cionie on Wed Dec 13, 2017 11:32 am

    Alessandra worked hard to keep her expression serene, though inside her nerves were buzzing. She gave the man a once-over as well, noting the fabrics which draped his lithe form. Much too rich for a typical Xohulu. there was no doubt this man was the mage Anca Toliao, mysterious Mage Advisor to the Lady in question. What he was doing in front of her was baffling though.

    Still, Lady Aglipay wanted to speak with her? As far as she was aware, the Emperor's favorite and herself had never interacted outside of the occasional pleasantries at court. Alessandra had worked hard to make her own magical talents known among the Magocracy, though it didn't seem like she'd reached any significant fame yet.

    One of her family's guardsmen approached them. He was polite, but appeared to pay little mind to the Xohulu mage she was currently speaking with. "My Lady, your parents are intending to depart. If you please?"

    A quiet anger grew inside her. Ever since Dain left, their parents intended to keep her on as tight a leash as they could, blind to the damage it could do to her own ambitions. She glanced quickly in their direction and noticed they were watching her like hawks. With a quirked smile on her delicate lips, Alessandra made her decision.

    "You are not mistaken, Ser. Of course, I accept the Lady's invitation and would appreciate being escorted," she said directly to the Xohulu, making eye contact with him.
    "Tell my parents I will be home later," she used a hand to dismiss the guard, much to the man's confusion. Internally, she could have laughed. Imagine the look her mother must be giving her, seeing her walk off with a Xohulu mage!
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    Re: Noble Machinations

    Post by JazzyJ on Wed Dec 13, 2017 12:47 pm

    @Cione

    Anca smirks despite himself. You think you spot him wink at your guards. "Don't worry, my lords, the Lady will be safe and accounted for." He smiles at you and motions for you to follow. He has a long stride; it's a little difficult to keep pace, and he doesn't really seem to notice or care if you're having difficulty. Once you're a good distance away from all the hubbub, he speaks again. "It must be difficult for the Lady, having put up with such overbearing parents, though I suppose I can understand their concern." Anca lets out a cheerful, self-depreciating laugh. "I believe I've garnered myself a bit of a reputation. Besides, I suppose I do look a bit suspicious." Another laugh. "But, this is no trick. Lady Maricel does want to speak with you. I'm sure you can piece together what about."
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    Cionie

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    Re: Noble Machinations

    Post by Cionie on Fri Dec 15, 2017 2:23 pm

    @JazzyJ

    Chit-chatting with this man, regardless of his position, was beneath her station, although it became clear that he didn't seem to care. Where it was at the very least polite to let a lady walk at your side when escorting her, the mage completely ignored such pretenses and carried on ahead at a brisk pace.

    Alessandra made a quick decision that she would not be caught in a power play. With as much grace as she could manage, she made sure to stay within speaking distance of the man. Regardless of his lineage, he represented Lady Aglipay, and would no doubt report on her character later.

    Another laugh. "But, this is no trick. Lady Maricel does want to speak with you. I'm sure you can piece together what about."

    "I would not think of assuming Lady Marciel's intentions, Ser," she responded. She didn't yet know how much respect this man demanded of her station, and as such kept her answer short, yet polite. The thought wasn't wholly true, though, and she was certain Anca knew as well as she did what she surmised the Lady was calling on her for. The Reluciente's announcement, and the Lady's invitation, could not have been coincidence of timing. Lady Marciel was too well informed to not have known what the announcement would be ahead of time, and she knew Alessandra would be present to hear it.

    Alessandra hoped the Xohulu mage would not attempt any more conversation. Keeping up with his long legs was more difficult than it needed to be, considering how many skirts she was wearing. As their destination came slowly into view, she thought about how wonderful it would be to graduate from her tutoring, and finally be able to wear the various, more practical, garments of the certified Magi.
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    Noble Machinations

    Post by JazzyJ on Fri Dec 15, 2017 8:31 pm

    @Cione

    Anca chuckles, more to himself than to you.  "Well, forgive my impudence then, dear lady.  Nor is it my place to play at knowing what my mistress wants."   You make it to the gate of a small, but beautiful estate.  The men at the gate stiffen up nervously as Anca saunters by; they bow politely at you and nervously greet you.  Anca inclines his head and watches them with amusement.  "Well! Open the bloody gate."  

    "Y-yes sir!"

    "Of course, sir!"

    The gate swings open, and the mage escorts you inside.  "They're new," he states, with the same sly smile.  The gardens leading up to the Aglipay estate are exquisite and meticulously well kept.  There is a chorus of bird song, almost harmonizing with wind-chimes dangling from willow trees.  There's a sweet smell of flower and fruits pervading the air.  As you walk under what must be an ancient willow tree, Anca absentmindedly lets his long fingers get entwined in the branches.  "I suspect you will stay through siesta?  My mistress is fond of wine at the resting hour."  He seems a bit lost in though as he says this, and disentangles his hand from the switches.  You finally make it up to the door after walking the winding way up through the garden, though.  The door seems impossibly heavy; intricately carved, embossed marble.  Solid marble.  Solid marble doors... who in the world should be expected to be able open these?  However, with a passive wave of his hand and a quiet mumble, the doors swung open before you both, and into the main hall.

    The estate is filled with eclectic artwork, not like the portraits and busts of many aristocratic manor houses.   Old Xohulu masks share wall space with abstract paintings, obsidian chandeliers float in the air without and chain to support them; the walls are painted a deep violet, the floors a beautiful ebony hardwood.  As you make it to what you presume will be your destination, you start to hear giggling and the barking of a dog.  Anca turns to you with a small smile, then opens the door, despite the constant barking.  "Presenting the Lady Alessandra Gilavai!"

    "Step aside, Anca!" the young woman says with a laugh.  Anca bows deeply and steps to the side and before you, you see...



    ...a dog in a silly outfit.  And a girl, barely older than you, barely holding back fits of laughter.  "You can pet her if you like," the girl says.  "She's noisy, but very sweet."  The dog hasn't stopped barking, but it's staring at you with excitement.



    "Anca, you can leave.  I doubt the good Lady Gilavai will try to do me any harm."  Anca nods and bows as he leaves.  "He's like a mother hen, that one..." she says with a bit of a smile, beckoning you closer.  "Come, sit.  Sit!  Welcome to my Sun Room.  Would you like anything to drink?  Coffee?  Tea?"  You sit in front of the window with her, which takes up the entirety of the east wall of the room, leading to a spectacular view of a large pond and an orchard filled with colorful birds.  "Please, call me Maricel.  This "Lady" this, "Lady" that business gets tiresome, don't you think?"
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    Cionie

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    Re: Noble Machinations

    Post by Cionie on Tue Dec 26, 2017 3:31 pm

    The house of Aglipay was magnificent in its curiosities, and Alessandra had to be careful not to stare at each strangeness encountered as they made their way through. Despite the Lady Aglipay lacking in magical prowess herself, she certainly enjoyed being surrounded by mysticism of all kinds. This was relevant to anyone at court through her association with Anca, but here in her home it was ever more apparent in each little touch of the house's makeup. Alessandra's own magical knowledge was put to the test, and she had prided herself on the application of magical history. Lady Aglipay's collections put her to shame.

    As the Xohulu mage led her through the estate, their surroundings became ever more curious, until it could be summed up by the drawing room doors opening onto not the Lady in question, but a house dog of questionable dress. Alessandra could not hold herself in check any longer and openly gave Anca a questioning glance as the fashionable mutt began yipping excitedly.

    Fits of laughter accompanied the dog's barks and Alessandra's gaze finally looked past the dog and onto the woman who had invited her there. "You can pet her if you like," the woman said,  "She's noisy, but very sweet.

    "Anca, you can leave.  I doubt the good Lady Gilavai will try to do me any harm."  Anca nodded and bowed as he left.  "He's like a mother hen, that one..." she said with a bit of a smile, beckoning Alessandra closer.  "Come, sit.  Sit!  Welcome to my Sun Room.  Would you like anything to drink?  Coffee?  Tea?"


    "Ah, coffee... would be lovely," Alessandra said in a small voice as she skirted around the excitable pup to sit with Lady Aglipay. Double bay windows opened up the room to a well kept garden and frog pond. The scene was full of native plants and birds, yet they somehow took on an exotic beauty in their current arraignment. "Thank you for your invitation, Lady Aglipay," she concluded while fixing her skirts. She nervously glanced again at the dog as it continued to jump around the chairs and table, begging loudly for attention.

    "Please, call me Maricel.  This "Lady" this, "Lady" that business gets tiresome, don't you think?"

    "If it suits you, then I will," Alessandra said, giving her full attention to Maricel now. "And you may call me Alessandra, if you wish."

    A bit of an awkward pause occurred as Maricel seemed content with staring at Alessandra with an odd smile, as though sizing her up. It made the younger woman very uncomfortable. She tried to initiate conversation, if only to stop herself from shifting nervously under the woman's gaze, "I was surprised to receive an invitation from you, as we have not engaged much outside of court. Not to say I am not honored, of course, La- ah, Maricel."

    Mercifully, the coffee and biscuits arrived, giving Alessandra's hands something constructive to do.
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    JazzyJ
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    Re: Noble Machinations

    Post by JazzyJ on Wed Jan 10, 2018 2:32 pm

    Maricel stood up and motioned towards the pond. "Come, walk with me, Alessandra, we have much to discuss." The dog bounded behind, barking and whining for attention, but Maricel gave the dog a command to stay in the sunroom. It loudly objected, but did so anyway.  The warm wind blew gently through the well-manicured trees.  Crickets chirped merrily away, and birds sang exuberantly along.  

    "I'm going to be blunt, my lady.  I well know that your family has been nipping at the heels of the Urias' for well over a generation. And my little birds have informed me that little Lordling Gilavai has run off, leaving your family without their would-be Emperor at this key time." She turns to you and smiles.  "I believe they are underestimating you.  I'm no fool, sweetling.  You have a nice, pretty pedigree, while I'm just..." she sighs dramatically. "The favored bastard. And as much as I want to rule, the aristocracy would not take well to me.  But my dear brother Ilasi is an ironclad idiot. My dear, Alessandra, it would benefit both of us a great deal if you would become empress."

    She reaches up to a flowering branch and handed it to her.  "Young, underestimated women like ourselves should work together, sweetling.  Work with me, and I'll have you on the throne by year's end."
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    Cionie

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    Re: Noble Machinations

    Post by Cionie on Wed Jan 10, 2018 3:40 pm

    The vibrant buzz of insects and rustling of leaves all seemed to quiet as Maricel's words stopped Alessandra short. The brilliant surroundings faded around her, and her blue eyes were aflame in a silent challenge as she stared hard at the younger woman. Maricel simply returned her gaze with a playful smile, veiling any true intentions Alessandra would be searching for.

    "What would the Lady Aglipay gain from making me empress?" Alessandra finally asked, her mouth dry. The formalities were back as she sized the younger woman up in an entirely new light. Considering the announcement from that morning, Alessandra had expected some sort of alliance to be offered, especially since Maricel didn't currently have a partnership with a noble mage who wasn't of Xohulu origin, but this...

    Empress.

    She'd been offered a direct path to the throne, and from an entirely unexpected source.

    Her mind was working through the knotted plot in front of her. What was the chance of success from such a plot? What objectives would need to be conquered? And what would be the price for obtaining her highest goal in this way?
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    Re: Noble Machinations

    Post by JazzyJ on Mon Jan 22, 2018 9:50 pm

    "My dear, it's simple," Maricel said, with scheming smirk growing across her lips. "We have like enemies. I'm sure you're aware that a great many people would see a young girl's ascendancy to the throne as an opportunity for power through manipulation. I will not hide my machinations from you, Alessandra. You would marry my half-brother... and though Ilias seems hale and healthy, he's bullheaded, and more than a mite... stupid. He would turn to his trusted wife - a strong-minded, well-educated, proper young woman - for advice on how to govern." She takes a long sigh and stares out over the pond. "You would have to bear his child, whether you take that as a positive or a negative is up to you. And when the buffoon gets himself assassinated, you would become queen mother. Regent."

    Maricel turns back to you, the playful smile on her face turning more than slightly threatening. "Of course, we never had this conversation, sweetling. Dear brother does not take well to treason, no matter what pretty little mouth it came from. I hope you understand."

    She sits in the grass and motions for you to do the same. Her eyes catch to someone approaching from the house; her cat-like expression softens as Anca approaches, but his face remains dour. Maricel looks back to you, rolling her eyes before continuing. "I'm being blunt with you because I think it would do well for us to trust each other, threats and posturing aside. If you like, you can consider me a friend. Or, you can go about your way and forget that this conversation ever happened. But know now that if you cross me or stand in my way, Lady Gilavai, I will make sure that you meet your end in a manner most unbecoming to a noble young lady."
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    Cionie

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    Re: Noble Machinations

    Post by Cionie on Fri Feb 09, 2018 12:18 pm

    Alessandra spread her skirts to sit thoughtfully next to Marciel. The plan was a simple yet elegant one. She had certainly planned to marry well in order to increase her chances at lateral movement, though Marciel was opening a direct path Alessandra never would have had access to otherwise. Could she marry Ilias? Of course. Could she bare his children? Of course. It was a necessary stepping stone to her goals.

    "I understand the costs and consequences. We both are well aware of the rules of the game we've found ourselves in," she said in response to Marciel's threats. They were far from idle, though did not intimidate her. She'd expected them as a part of the process, and would heed them whether they'd been spoken or not. This was never a game she'd entered to lose.

    "I would like to accept your offer, Marciel," she continued, her tone as light as though they were speaking of the weather, or tea. "I suspect we will make fast friends."

    The only thing that still tugged at her mind begged the question: Why her? Why would Marciel choose her out of the many other eligible ladies, some she must have stronger relations with than Alessandra.

    That part wasn't clear, and she suspected she would not receive a satisfying answer if asked now. No, she'd sit on that thought and ask at a later time.

    For now, there was much work to be done.

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