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Author Topic: Balance of Power--Chapter Twenty  (Read 4366 times)

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Offline Evie

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Balance of Power--Chapter Twenty
« on: November 11, 2015, 09:01:20 pm »
Previous chapter:  http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php/topic,1609.0.html


Chapter Twenty

Mid-morning
Eirian House
The Queen’s Apartment
December 23, 2021


“How do you feel?” Jen asked once she looked up from her biography of King Javan II and realized the Queen was awake.

Sophia pondered the question. “A little headachy, but otherwise all right, I suppose.” She sat up in bed and stretched experimentally. “You?”

“I’m fine, but then again I really didn’t do very much last night except watch. Eilonwy is still asleep, I think.” Jen bookmarked her chapter. “Would you like for me to see about that headache? And what about some breakfast?”

“Yes to both.” Sophia swung her legs over the side of the bed, a faint frown on her face. “My memories of the ritual last night are really vague from pretty much the moment I drank whatever was in that wine. Can you show me what you saw?”

“Sure, no problem.” Jen stood, taking Sophia’s offered hand briefly as she sent her memories of the previous night’s working in a quick burst of shared memory, then laying a hand on the Queen’s forehead, she used a soothing spell to alleviate her headache as well. “Full breakfast, or just something light?”

“Just something light for now,” Sophia answered absently as she absorbed the new information. “Maybe some coffee and toast with jam. I’m not sure how a heavier breakfast would sit on my stomach right now; I think the sedation has mostly worn off but I still feel not quite myself yet. Or maybe that’s a normal side effect of the ritual?” She shrugged. “Given how my body reacted to the power assumption, no wonder you were all hovering over me like a flock of hungry crows when I finally woke up!”

Jen smiled. “Yes, you had us all a little freaked out for a short while there.”

Sophia blushed as another memory surfaced. “Did I really tell Father Devlin to stop being handsome, or did I just dream that?”

 “Yes, I’m afraid you did say that. We all heard you. He blushes adorably, by the way. Don’t worry, though, His Grace and Healer O’Flynn assured him you were still quite under the influence.”

The Queen groaned, falling back onto the pillow briefly, then pulling it out from under her head only to cover her face with it.  “Maybe make that two coffees.  And a hairshirt.”

Jen laughed. “Yes, Ma’am.”



Late morning
The Queen’s Apartment
Eirian House
December 23, 2021


Two coffees later, fully dressed and feeling somewhat more human, the Queen polished off the last of the toast and handed the plate back to Jen as she opened the personnel file Jen had brought up with her along with the breakfast.

“The Lord Chamberlain said this is the short file, narrowed down to his personal recommendations for replacement staff, although if you wish to see the full list he can bring that up later,” Jen told her as she rinsed off the plate and left it in the suite’s small kitchenette.

“I’m sure this will be fine; I trust his judgment,” Sophia said as she glanced through the name lists. A small sheaf of personnel documents appeared beneath these. She went back to the top of the pile to give the documents a closer read. “Let’s see here . . . replacement armsmen, so I can have a full complement again and Henry and Michael can finally both get full nights of decent sleep without needing to take turns. I’m sure they’ll be glad of that. Additional ladies-in-waiting, so we can set up a rota and you two won’t have to keep living in my back pocket constantly anymore--not that I wouldn’t enjoy having you and Eilonwy around every day, rather than just a week out of every month, but I’m sure Mr. Adams might actually want his wife back at some point.”

“Patrick would probably appreciate that, yes.”

And a short list of people Lord Culdi thinks would be most suitable to serve as my private secretary. I recognize a few of these names, I think. Hm . . . .” She paused over one name, flipping through the file to pull up that woman’s personnel document. “Diana Layton. She was the Princess of Meara’s private secretary.” The thought of her late sister-in-law’s tragic demise in the Castle bombing caused a wave of sorrow. “I wonder if she is still in Ratharkin? Morgan might know. Of course, I’m not sure if coming to work here would be more healing for her or hurtful--it may bring up memories for her she’d feel best left in the past. Still, I don’t suppose it would hurt to call her in for an interview. She seemed competent enough, in my previous dealings with her.”

“Should I contact her to set something up?” Jen asked.

“No need, Lord Culdi will handle that,” Sophia assured her.  “Let me see if I can get this list narrowed down for him, then we’ll leave it to him to sort the fine details.”



Late morning
Tre-Arilan
The dining room
December 23, 2021


“I’m sorry to call another meeting so soon after our last one,” Lord Arilan told the other members of the Camberian Council gathered around his table, “but once you hear what I’ve got to report, I think you’ll be glad that I did.  I would have requested an evening meeting, since I know that’s more convenient for Alicia, but this was when Dev and I could slip away for a few hours without being particularly missed.” 

“No worries, I think most of us have fairly flexible schedules,” said Peter.

“Except for me, but I’m on holiday leave right now,” Alicia added, “though thank you for considering my usual work schedule. Finding excuses to absent myself for morning meetings recently has been a right pain. Can we go back to quarterly meetings now that the immediate crisis has passed?”

“Let’s play that by ear over the next couple of weeks, though I think we should be able to resume our regular schedule soon,” Peter affirmed. “Meeting this often is a bit wearing, I agree, though for the moment it’s necessary.  So, James, why have you called us all here this morning?”

“A couple of items of business.  First off, Father Devlin and I had the privilege last night of assisting the Duke of Corwyn and Eilonwy Adams in empowering the Queen with her Haldane powers. Not only were we successful, but judging by how strong her response was to the influx of energies, I would say she is going to be quite a formidable Haldane Sovereign once she learns how to access her powers and put them to full use.” James smiled in deep satisfaction. “Lady Violet, I must say, you have excellent genes.”

“Why, thank you!” the elderly councilor purred, returning his smile. “Is the dear girl feeling all right this morning?”

“I haven’t spoken with her this morning, but I haven’t heard otherwise,” James said.

“I spoke with Dr. DeLisle briefly about an hour ago,” Father Devlin added, “and she says HM is up and about the day’s business with no lingering effects from last night’s ritual aside from a mild headache, which she was able to assist with.”

“Excellent!” Peter said. “That’s wonderful news, not to mention one less worry. She’ll be at least as strong as Nigel, then?”

“Probably stronger, I would guess,” Father Devlin said. “I wasn’t expecting such an extreme reaction to the empowerment. For a moment, I was half afraid we’d killed her! Gave me a bad turn, I must say.”

“Probably just as well you didn’t,” Elspeth observed. “Monarchy might be a silly institution in this day and age, but all the same, I wouldn’t want to be in the position of having to explain to the Great and Privy Councils that you’d managed to burn out their Queen. How would that go? ‘Oops, we tried to charge her up, but she shorted out, sorry!’”

“Elspeth, really! Some respect for the fact that you’re referring to my daughter, at the very least, even if you can’t manage to summon up any for the monarchy!” Violet protested.

“Ladies, enough!” Peter warned with an admonishing look at Elspeth. “So that’s the first of two items of business I believe you mentioned, James. What was the second?”

“Ah, yes. The O’Malley matter. I’ve been digging through his financial records, and turned up a large payment entered into a trust fund set up for Colin O’Malley the evening before the Rhemuth Castle attack. Two-hundred and fifty thousand royals, to be precise.  The transfer originated from an account in the Carib Islands. I’m still working on hacking into that account to see if a trail might be traced back to some other account, but the owner of the account is listed as ‘Eric Harvey.’”

“Isn’t ‘Harvey’ one of Eric Armitage’s middle names?” Maureen observed.

“Indeed it is,” James confirmed.

“That would fit in neatly with Colin’s memories of Eric Armitage being one of three men responsible for his kidnapping,” Peter said, “although the idea that Armitage presumably bribed O’Malley to blow up the Royal Family with a large payment into his son’s trust fund, then held the boy as a hostage to ensure O’Malley would accept the bribe is evil enough. Not holding up to his end of the deal after O’Malley’s death and leaving the boy buried once the job was done elevates the arrangement to the truly diabolical. I wonder what his plan was for getting those funds back, because surely he had one? I’d love to get my hands on Eric Armitage.”

“Who was set up as Colin’s beneficiary if he didn’t live to inherit his trust fund?” Alicia asked.  “His mother?”

“No,” James said, “Lloyd O’Malley and Colin’s mother divorced three years ago. His alternate beneficiary was a woman named Eleanor Benefield.”

“Hm. That might solve the puzzle,” Alicia said. “Does she live in Marley?”

“Yes. Apparently she was romantically involved with Lloyd O’Malley at the time of his death. The police considered her a person of interest in Colin’s disappearance early on, but she seemed to have no idea where he was or what might have happened to him even when questioned under Truth-Reading, so they let her go. Why, do you know who she is? Would there be any reason to suspect her?”

Alicia shrugged. “She might not have been directly involved. But if she’s the same Eleanor Benefield of Marley that I’m thinking of, she’s fairly high up in the Humanity Ascendant chapter there.  So if she was Colin’s beneficiary, a transfer into his trust fund would effectively be a delayed transfer to one of Eric Armitage’s more highly placed activist friends.  Not such a loss after all, looked at that way. More like what he’d consider a charitable contribution. She may have been instructed to get close to O’Malley without being given any specifics of the plan; that would make sense if Armitage and his other cronies were planning a crime that would put her in a position to be suspected and Truth-Read.”

“All right, so I’ll definitely want to follow up on that,” said James, jotting down some notes.

“Right,” said Peter. “And terrorist plots remind me, I believe Maureen has something she wishes to add as well. Maureen?”

“Thank you, Peter.” Maureen smiled at him. “I spoke with my son-in-law this morning, and he has informed me that our Council Chamber should be safe for us to move our meetings back into now, at least once our Portal security systems have been upgraded. Lord Arilan, Peter and I are quite impressed by what you and Mr Carbury have done to secure Tre-Arilan. Might we enlist your help in making those changes? It’s gracious of you to offer your hospitality for these meetings for the time being, but we’d hate to continue imposing on you.”

“Certainly I’d be glad to help,” James said. “And while it’s no imposition, I’d hate to see us abandon the original Council chamber. Not simply due to its history; it’s also a much better hidden location, despite the Portal security issue.”

“Wait,” said Elspeth, “how do we know it’s still a secret location? If Mrs Whitfield managed to discover the Portal signature in Tom’s mind, who knows what else she found out, or might have shared with someone else? Do we really want to take that chance?”

“Whatever else she might have gleaned from his mind,” Alicia assured her, “the physical location of the Council chamber was not there for her to discover. Tom had no idea where it actually is. For that matter, do any of us actually know?” She glanced around the room, but if anyone else there was more enlightened on the matter than she was, they gave no sign. “Karim has sifted through her mind repeatedly, and so has Healer O’Flynn, and all that Caroline Whitfield knew of the chamber’s whereabouts was how to get there via the Portal. So even if she managed to share that information before she was captured, if we secure the Portal there to the degree that Tre-Arilan’s is protected, I see no problem with returning there.”

“All right, let’s take a closer look at that during our next meeting. That will give James and Carbury time to put together a list of suggested improvements for us to implement. I also have a matter of business I would like for you all to consider before that next meeting--which of our number each of you thinks would be best suited to replace Tom as coadjutor, since it appears he will be unable to resume that duty anytime soon, if ever.” He looked around the table.  “Anything else?”

“Yes,” said Devlin with a glance at Alicia. “You may be getting a call from Eirian House soon, if you haven’t already. HM would like to know for certain who her birth mother is.  Eilonwy is supposed to get in touch with you, though as busy as things have been on our end lately, she might not have had a chance to yet. I thought you might want to be forewarned--and Lady Violet as well, since I imagine she will wish to see you also once her suspicions have been confirmed.”

“Thank you,” Alicia said. “I appreciate the warning.  Lady Violet, are you prepared to meet your daughter, or should I ignore my calls for the next day or two? I don’t suppose I can put off returning them forever, but if you need a little more time . . . .”

“No need,” Violet said. “I would be glad to meet with Her Majesty, should she wish to see me. I have missed the dear girl.” A wistful expression crossed her face for just an instant. “And speaking of the Queen, I realize she’s still in the early days of mourning yet, but her hold on the throne is hardly secure. She needs to be reminded that Gwynedd is in need of an heir.  Not just Morgan Haldane either, but an heir of her body. I have nothing against the Duke of Corwyn as a person, but intermarrying the two legitimate Haldane lines would create the sort of vulnerability in the succession that we don’t need, with the likes of the Atherton-Haldanes about looking to press a claim even though they haven’t one.”

“It’s a little early for anyone to be bringing up the topic of marriage to her, surely!” Devlin protested, feeling a twinge of conscience as he wondered to himself if his strong feelings on the subject stemmed merely from his concern for Sophia’s emotional wellbeing or if he needed to take a closer look at his own motivations. “We’ve not even had her family’s funeral yet, and you already want to push her into wedding?”

“She is not just any girl, Father Devlin, she is a Haldane!” Violet snapped. “Do not think that I am insensible to her grief, but she was bred to duty, just as her father was. Nigel would have wanted the Kingdom’s needs to come first.”

“She is our Queen, but she is also a very vulnerable young woman right now, and one who has experienced a greater trauma than most Haldanes have had to face when first coming into their duties as a sovereign. If you want her to bend rather than break under the strain, then I would strongly suggest allowing her enough time to at least find her feet again before starting in on her with talk about marriage arrangements and heirs!” Devlin shot back. “Sweet Saint Camber, woman, she’s not an emotionless puppet!”

“Nor was Nigel,” Violet retorted.

Devlin leaned across the table towards her, gripping the edge of it so forcefully his knuckles turned white. “She is not Nigel.”

Peter held up a hand, silencing the argument with a stern glance at both participants. Once they’d both subsided, he continued mildly, “I agree with Father Devlin that this is not the time to bring the matter up to Her Majesty, yet I also agree with Lady Violet that it is not too soon for us to be thinking of possible candidates we might bring up to the Queen’s attention once she is more ready to consider such matters. Securing the succession is a matter of extreme importance, but it’s not one likely to be settled at a moment’s notice in any case.  And I’m fairly sure the Queen herself would want to weigh in on the matter; after all, she is the one who will end up having to live with the choice.”  He looked around the table. “Aside from Morgan Haldane, who I think we all agree would not be the optimal choice, does anyone here have any suggestions for who might make a suitable Prince Consort to draw HM’s attention to once she’s had a bit more time to heal?”

“Oh God, here we go! Sophia the Royal Brood Mare!” Elspeth complained, rolling her eyes. “Am I actually agreeing with Devlin on something? Has everyone else here forgotten that a woman is a person, not just a life support system for a uterus?”

“We haven’t forgotten,” Maureen said softly. “Though I suspect the Queen herself would agree that given the choice of marrying for heirs or putting it off too long at the risk of leaving Gwynedd vulnerable to the Camberian claimants, a marriage arranged more quickly than not might be the lesser of those two evils. And I don’t think anyone here is suggesting pushing her into a marriage against her will.” She laughed. “I’ve met the lass; trust me, that will not happen! She’s a Haldane. Inside that velvet glove is an iron fist. When she marries, it will be to a man of her choice, but there’s nothing wrong with coming up with ideas for a suitable match to introduce her to.”

“I would suggest,” said Lady Violet, warming up to the topic, “that we begin by looking for suitable consorts who are known to be full Deryni. Gwynedd has been without a strong power on the throne for far too long. I am happy to hear that Sophia appears to have the potential to make a formidable Queen, now let us not suggest a marriage for her that would threaten to diminish the potential of her heirs.” She looked around the table at her fellow Councilors.  “I see two extremely eligible young men in this very room.  Lord Arilan, for one, has all the training and ancient Deryni bloodline that one might desire in such a match. He might not be a Duke nor yet an Earl, regrettably, though at least he is of noble blood.  And Father Devlin is just as equally well suited, in my opinion. If anything, even more so."

“Me?” Devlin protested. “I’m hardly nobility!”

“On the contrary, you’re of the ancient Llyrian Royal House of O’Shiele, are you not?” Violet raised an imperious eyebrow at him.

“Only distantly, and along a junior branch!”

“Not so very distantly. As I recall, you’re no less distantly related to the O’Shiele High Lord who was your forebear than Morgan Haldane is in his line of descent from Alaric the Third.”

“Maybe not, but I’m descended from one of his sons, not a daughter. And remember that Llyrian inheritance is matrilineal.”

“True, but that son married a Gwyneddan woman, and Gwyneddan inheritance is patrilineal. Besides which, the finer points of inheritance are immaterial in this case; we’re discussing your suitability as a Prince Consort, not as Ard-Tiarna of Llyr. Royal blood is royal blood, whether it’s inherited from the spear side or the distaff side of the family. And not just any royal blood either, but an ancient Deryni line.” Violet smiled in triumph.

Devlin looked to James for assistance, but James was looking elsewhere, steadfastly refusing to cooperate, one hand cupped over his mouth and chin in thought or perhaps just to conceal a smirk. Fine. Throw me under the bus, mate. “Lady Violet, what you don’t seem to grasp is that the subject is never likely to come up! I am not a son of the current High Lord of Llyr, and any distant ancestral ties to that House notwithstanding, I am hardly going to attract the interest of a reigning Queen. What Queen in her right mind is going to give a mere associate priest from an urban mission parish a second glance?”

“She thinks you’re handsome,” James offered, not bothering to conceal his amusement anymore.

“Bloody hell, man, not helpful!” As everyone else at the table burst into laughter at his outburst, Devlin took a deep centering breath, gathering the ends of his frayed patience. “Seriously, how would the topic even come up? I’m not going to go back to Eirian House and say, ‘Pardon me, Ma’am, but your mother thinks I’m a prime candidate for the Royal Stud, so how about it, shall we?’ I think not!”

“No one is asking you to do that, my dear boy,” Violet assured him with a fond, maternal smile. “She’s a Queen Regnant; it’s her job to propose to her future consort. It’s simply our job to ensure she is aware of the most suitable choices available to her.” She beamed at Devlin. “All of them, whether they think they’re qualified or not.”



Afternoon
Eirian House
December 23, 2021


Devlin’s attempt to return to Eirian House as discreetly as he’d left was foiled by the Portal security guard, who intercepted him with a message from the Queen. “Her Majesty has requested that you attend her upon your return. She was in the Royal Conservatory as of an hour ago; if she’s not still there, try her personal chambers.”

Still disconcerted from the Camberian Council meeting he’d just left, he glanced down at his casual attire of black jeans and a blue hooded pullover, although the addition of his standard black clerical shirt and collar beneath the warmer layer made him at least somewhat presentable.  “Did she happen to say why she needs me? Do I need to go directly, or should I change first?”

“I don’t know, Father. I was just told to direct you to the Conservatory if I should happen to see you.”

“Thank you.” Worried now that perhaps the empowerment ritual had stirred up something deep within the Queen that she was now having trouble dealing with, Devlin quickened his pace as he left the Portal Room and exited the Palace to turn down the cloistered walk leading to the Conservatory.

Entering the enclosed courtyard garden in a rush, he was relieved to discover Her Majesty in what appeared to be a more pensive than troubled state. She appeared to be alone, although Devlin could sense the presence of one of her armsman keeping a discreet guard nearby. Michael, from the feel of him. On the table in front of her was a legal pad, on which she was diligently writing. Given that the Queen was wearing faded jeans and an oversized “University of Rhemuth” sweatshirt, he felt less underdressed for the occasion.

Sophia looked up at his arrival. “Good afternoon, Father. I hope you were able to sleep in at least a little bit before attending to your personal business?”  She gestured to a chair  at the small table where she sat surrounded by the lush greenery that thrived in the warm Conservatory year-round. Noticing his perusal of their surroundings, she added, “I’m tired of winter already, and it’s just barely arrived. I’m ready for spring to get here.”

“Aren’t we all?” Devlin sat, feeling unaccountably self-conscious. No, not unaccountably. He knew the exact reason for his awkwardness, damn the Council!

Sophia must have sensed something of his discomfort, despite his tight shielding, for her cheeks turned pink. With a laugh, she added, “You needn’t worry, Father, I’m quite sober and fully in control of my actions now, so I shan’t embarrass you by blurting out whatever random thought should happen to go flitting through my drug-addled head at a given moment.” She smiled, although she avoided looking directly at him, looking if anything as self-conscious as he felt. Somehow the realization that she also felt off balance helped to put him more at ease.  She tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear and turned her legal pad to show him what she’d been working on before his arrival. “It’s my Christmas broadcast, or at least a draft of it. I imagine I ought to carry on the tradition.”

He bent his head over the speech in progress, reading the words written in Sophia’s flowing script.

Each Christmas at this time, my beloved mother broadcast a message to her people in all parts of the Kingdom, as did my grandfather before her. Today I am taking on this legacy, taking a few moments during this Christmas season to reach out to you who are now my people.
 
At Christmas our thoughts are always full of our homes and our families, and while I grieve for the family and home I have lost this Christmas season, I take comfort in knowing that you, my people, are now my larger family and my support during this difficult time.

My mother, and my grandfather before her, worked all their lives to unite our peoples--human and Deryni--ever more closely. I shall strive to carry on their work.

Already you have given me strength to do so. For since my accession this past week, your loyalty and affection have been an immense support and encouragement. I want to take this Christmas Day to thank you with all my heart.

Many grave problems and difficulties confront us all, but with a new faith in the old and splendid beliefs given us by our forefathers, and the strength to venture beyond the safeties of the past, I know we shall be worthy of our duty.

Above all, we must keep alive that courageous spirit of adventure that is the finest quality of youth; and by youth I do not just mean those who are young in years; I mean too all those who are young in heart, no matter how old they may be. That spirit still flourishes in this ancient Kingdom.

On this broad foundation let us set out to build a truer knowledge of ourselves and our fellowmen, to work for tolerance and understanding among the nations.

If we can do these things with courage, with generosity and with humility, then surely we shall achieve that "Peace on earth, Goodwill toward men" which is the eternal message of Christmas, and the desire of us all.

At my Coronation next June, I shall dedicate myself anew to your service. I shall do so in the presence of a great congregation, drawn from every corner of the Kingdom, while millions outside Saint George's Cathedral will hear the promises and the prayers being offered up within its walls, and see much of the ancient ceremony in which Kings and Queens before me have taken part through century upon century.

You will be keeping it as a holiday; but I want to ask you all, whatever your religion may be, to pray for me on that day - to pray that God may give me wisdom and strength to carry out the solemn promises I shall be making, and that I may faithfully serve Him and you all the days of my life.

May God bless and guide you all through the coming year.


As he finished reading, he looked up to find Sophia watching him, her expression putting him in mind of a schoolgirl hoping for the teacher’s approval.  She smiled shyly, explaining “I’ve done the occasional speech for grand openings and charity functions, and I’m certainly no stranger to public speaking--God knows one couldn’t grow up in my family and not be accustomed to that!--but somehow this feels different. I’m not really used to addressing the entire Kingdom in one go, yet. I don’t want to get it wrong.”

“I think it looks good, Ma’am.”

“Do you really think so?” She sighed, rereading her own text. “I suppose it’s fine--at least I think it’s as good as they’re going to get from me this year, as distractible as I am right now.” She gazed off into the near distance at nothing in particular, shaking her head. “I didn’t exactly train for this, you know. Being Queen, I mean.”

“I know.” He gave her a sympathetic smile.

She glanced down at the page. “I realize Araxelle isn’t really my mother, but I can hardly acknowledge that publicly. The Kingdom doesn’t need any more upheaval right now. Still . . . .” She looked up at him. “Is it wrong of me to continue the deception?”

He felt his way through the question carefully. “I do think it’s necessary to keep the Kingdom’s best interests at heart.  Tell me this--deep down, even knowing what you know now, do you still think of Araxelle as your mother?”

Sophia nodded. “Yes, I guess I do. My feelings about her haven’t changed.”

“Even though she didn’t give birth to you, did she love you and provide for you to the best of her ability? In every other way besides biological descent, would you’d say Araxelle was a true mother to you?”

“Yes. I suppose it’s clearer to me, when you put it that way. In a way, I guess it’s like being an adopted child, except that the adoption wasn’t actually formalized and I’m really a Haldane.” She rested an elbow on the table, propping her forehead on her hand as she studied the page, her eyes swimming with unshed tears. “I miss her, Father. There was so much that I just took for granted. I just wish . . . .” She swallowed.  “I wish we’d had more time, though I suppose in a way there’s never such thing as enough time, is there?”

“No, I don’t suppose there is.”

“The hardest thing is that I never had a proper chance to say goodbye.”

Devlin nodded. “Yes, that one’s hard.” A thought struck him, and he reached a hand over to flip the pages up to the next blank sheet.  “So perhaps you could do that now.”

She looked up, startled. “Sorry?”

He nodded down at the empty page before her. “Write her a letter. You’re not going to mail it, of course, but just get the words out.”

“And then what?”

“And then,” he said, “you’ll figure out what to do next once you get there.”




Next chapter:  http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php/topic,1620.0.html
« Last Edit: November 16, 2015, 08:43:00 pm by Evie »
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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Offline Jerusha

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Twenty
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2015, 09:52:24 pm »
My goodness, Evie, you have captured a Queen's Christmas speech perfectly.  I can truly see her delivering it on Christmas morning.

Lord Arilan or Father Devlin for a potential consort - an interesting choice of contrasts.  With Morgan Haldane glowering in the background, very protecting of his baby cousin.  Who wants to take that challenge on?  ;D
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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Twenty
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2015, 11:51:58 pm »
My goodness, Evie, you have captured a Queen's Christmas speech perfectly.  I can truly see her delivering it on Christmas morning.

* Evie dies laughing   ;D

Um, yeah, there's a reason for that.  With a few modifications to make it suit the fictional context, it's very heavily based on Queen Elizabeth's first Christmas broadcast.  I figured if KK could lift her fealty oath verbatim from Prince Charles' investiture as Prince of Wales, I might as well do my own "heavy borrowing" for some of Sophia's speeches.  Her initial speech to the Camberian Council was completely from scratch--there really aren't any examples of real world royal speeches made on the occasion of blowing up an entire Royal Family to borrow from, thankfully--but Sophia's Accession speech and this one are heavily modeled on Queen Elizabeth's real world speeches on those parallel occasions, with certain details modified or left off altogether to fit the fictional queen's circumstances.

Quote
Lord Arilan or Father Devlin for a potential consort - an interesting choice of contrasts.  With Morgan Haldane glowering in the background, very protecting of his baby cousin.  Who wants to take that challenge on?  ;D

I think poor Devlin is rather leery of risking Morgan's protective ire, despite his growing feelings for the Duke's "baby cousin," and as for Lord Arilan, while he does think Her Majesty is quite an attractive lady, he seems to be rather distracted by someone else at present.   ;)
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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Offline NavaWazr

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Twenty
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2015, 12:00:09 am »
This chapter made stuff feel whole, closing and moving on.

250k royals in a trust fund... horrible what was done to the little boy. I hope he is getting better. How is Humanity Ascendant fitting into the conspiracy(ies)?

So Dev is handsome? The secret is out! I'm glad to see the Council considering this, helps me think there might be a happy ending someday.

Is Diana Layton on the good or bad side? Good I hope. I checked the character list and since there is a picture, I imagine she will have a larger role coming up.

Christmas speech was great, reminds us all of the tragedy and the need to come together. That said, the coronation would be in June and that's a long ways off! I don't think Malcolm will wait until June for the Duel Arcane. I am so glad that Sophia has lots of power (great line on good genes from Lady Violet!) and the power ritual results went well.

OK, now that I've read this chapter I can peacefully wait a week for the next one.
I realized that I wanted to be Deryni, would have loved to be another niece of Uncle Azim, perhaps living on a Fianna vineyard.... but I'm a never wazzer

Offline Demercia

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Twenty
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2015, 02:16:24 am »
Lots of goodies here to enjoy on rereads.  I can't help feeling that James has been waiting for years to see the tables turned and Dev discomforted like this.  poor suitors; yes there is Morgan, but also Mummy lioness who, at least in this context, can at last acknowledge her cub! 
The light shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not.

Offline Elkhound

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Twenty
« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2015, 07:54:05 am »
[  Her initial speech to the Camberian Council was completely from scratch--there really aren't any examples of real world royal speeches made on the occasion of blowing up an entire Royal Family to borrow from, thankfully

The nearest equivalent would be the massacre of the Nepali Royal Family when the Crown Prince flipped out with a gun which he subsequently turned on himself.  His uncle, the only senior member of the Family not in the Throne Room became King, but because he had never been trained to rule bollixed things up so that Nepal became a Republic.  (That's a gross oversimplification.)

Let's hope that isn't going to be the real-world precedent you will be following?

Offline Evie

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Twenty
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2015, 12:39:05 pm »
This chapter made stuff feel whole, closing and moving on.

250k royals in a trust fund... horrible what was done to the little boy. I hope he is getting better. How is Humanity Ascendant fitting into the conspiracy(ies)?

Well, looking back at what has been revealed thus far, at this point we know that Eric Armitage, the leader of Humanity Ascendant, engineered the Castle bombing plot at the instigation of a man whom he presumed was a human ally in Camberia, but who was actually a Deryni member of the Camberian royal family pulling his strings.  We know this man (Malcolm) has actually set Armitage and Humanity Ascendant up to take the fall for that act if it is traced back to them, and that having the finger pointed at them makes it less likely that the plot will be traced back to the actual source, himself.  In order to gain entry to Rhemuth Castle, Humanity Ascendant used Colin as leverage to get Lloyd O'Malley to cooperate with the plot. Does that answer the question, at least thus far?

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So Dev is handsome? The secret is out! I'm glad to see the Council considering this, helps me think there might be a happy ending someday.

Well, you know they do need to get the Queen on board with the plan too....  ;D

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Is Diana Layton on the good or bad side? Good I hope. I checked the character list and since there is a picture, I imagine she will have a larger role coming up.

I'll tell you this much.  You're right, she's either on the good or the bad side.  :)

Quote
Christmas speech was great, reminds us all of the tragedy and the need to come together. That said, the coronation would be in June and that's a long ways off! I don't think Malcolm will wait until June for the Duel Arcane. I am so glad that Sophia has lots of power (great line on good genes from Lady Violet!) and the power ritual results went well.

I'll give you a small hint. This story ends by New Year's Day.  So anything that might happen in June will need to wait for a sequel.  That said, a lot can happen between now and the New Year.

Quote
OK, now that I've read this chapter I can peacefully wait a week for the next one.

No need to wait a full week, just five days.   Or four at this point, if you are checking the board late enough at night. ;D

Lots of goodies here to enjoy on rereads.  I can't help feeling that James has been waiting for years to see the tables turned and Dev discomforted like this.  poor suitors; yes there is Morgan, but also Mummy lioness who, at least in this context, can at last acknowledge her cub! 


Yes, I suspect that must be a relief for poor Violet!  And I doubt James has had much opportunity to see Devlin this far out of his comfort zone, despite their longstanding friendship.

[  Her initial speech to the Camberian Council was completely from scratch--there really aren't any examples of real world royal speeches made on the occasion of blowing up an entire Royal Family to borrow from, thankfully

The nearest equivalent would be the massacre of the Nepali Royal Family when the Crown Prince flipped out with a gun which he subsequently turned on himself.  His uncle, the only senior member of the Family not in the Throne Room became King, but because he had never been trained to rule bollixed things up so that Nepal became a Republic.  (That's a gross oversimplification.)

Let's hope that isn't going to be the real-world precedent you will be following?

Eek!  No, not so much.  Yeesh!    :o

"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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Offline DesertRose

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Twenty
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2015, 06:48:01 pm »
“The hardest thing is that I never had a proper chance to say goodbye.”

Devlin nodded. “Yes, that one’s hard.” A thought struck him, and he reached a hand over to flip the pages up to the next blank sheet.  “So perhaps you could do that now.”

She looked up, startled. “Sorry?”

He nodded down at the empty page before her. “Write her a letter. You’re not going to mail it, of course, but just get the words out.”

“And then what?”

“And then,” he said, “you’ll figure out what to do next once you get there.”

I've done this Letters Never To Be Sent exercise myself before, and it can be markedly helpful.  I'm glad Devlin has the experience (in counseling) and the sensitivity to offer Sophia this as a possible course of action to deal with her grief over her family.  He's a good egg.  :)

That being said, like a lot of others, I found it fun to see him caught completely off guard by Lady Violet's proposal that he become a candidate at least for Sophia's prince consort.  :D
"If having a soul means being able to feel love, loyalty, and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans."

James Herriot (James Alfred "Alfie" Wight), when a human client asked him if animals have souls.  (I don't remember in which book the story originally appeared.)

Online Laurna

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Twenty
« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2015, 03:48:31 am »
Oh! Oh! I want to read the "biography of King Javan II." ;D
I hope, hope, hope that Diana Layton is a good person.

Mummy Lioness (thank you Demercia for Violet's new title)   looked around the table at her fellow Councilors.  “I see two extremely eligible young men in this very room." That caught my breath and made me smile. Violet actually approves of James and of Dev as suitors for her daughter? Wow!  I love that Dev is now at least in a position to be a legitimate suitor to the Queen. Good, good! Though I think Sophia is going to have to stop calling him Father before she will consider him as a boyfriend. She can return to calling him father again after they are married and have a passel of children.  ;D

Sophia and Dev remind me of a biography I read of Victoria and Albert. It is a romantic part of British history that I recommend reading. They loved each other and worked well together to run a kingdom. Did you know it was Albert that introduced the verdant Christmas pine into the British palace. I wonder what tradition Dev can offer to the Gwynedd palace from Llyr?
« Last Edit: November 13, 2015, 04:03:55 am by Laurna »

Offline revanne

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Twenty
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2015, 01:28:53 pm »
And don't forget Prince Philip (aka Duke of Edinburgh ).  He and HM have been married 68 years and they had less than 5 years together of any sort of normal family life when he could continue as a naval officer before George VI died and she became Queen.
One of the most moving things was at the concert for the Diamond Jubilee in 2012 when Prince Philip was in hospital  (having caught a chill standing beside the Queen in the pouring rain on the royal barge Gloriana on a three hour processio of boats on the Thames.) The Presenter got everyone in the crowd outside Buckingham Palace to shout "Philip " loud enough for him to hear in hospital.
"All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts."
As You Like It.

Offline Elkhound

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Twenty
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2015, 02:35:27 pm »
Perhaps the Nepali scenario might be a good prescription for Camberia?

Online Laurna

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Twenty
« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2015, 02:48:47 pm »
Revanne, yes, definitely another romantic marriage. I love the recent photo of the Queen turning her head with a laugh as she realizes Prince Philip is standing there in full uniformed attire.  At his age. Good for him.

 

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