(1866-07-01) Angry Words at Dinner
Angry Words at Dinner
Summary: A family dinner at the l'Saigner castle. Harsh words are exchanged.
Date: 1866-07-01
Related: none
Alina  James  Gabriel  Lucas  Mina  

Dining Room - Family Tower - Highwater Castle - Lonnaire - Lonnaire - Couviere
The small dining and sitting area in the family tower of Highwater Castle is quite well-furnished. The mid-sized room on the second floor hosts a carved oaken table that can seat eight comfortably, twelve if pushed; a pair of butler tables to hold whatever has come up from the kitchens on, and a large carved hutch that matches the table and chairs elegantly that holds a variety of dishes to make serving and eating food a quicker process when needed, on the half of the room nearest the heavy doubled doors.
The back half of the room held a large stone fireplace with a large stone mantle, a set of fainting couches, three comfortable chairs, and a smattering of small side tables for ease of setting a wineglass down. A small table with a well-worn chess board is flanked by two chairs like the ones at the dining table, the chessboard set for a new game, one side's pieces lapis lazuli with gold and silver sunbursts, the other side onyx with golden wyverns.
Outside the main sitting area, there are stairs leading up to the family suites and bedrooms.

The small dining and sitting area in the family tower of Highwater Castle is quite well-furnished. The mid-sized room on the second floor hosts a carved oaken table that can seat eight comfortably, twelve if pushed; a pair of butler tables to hold whatever has come up from the kitchens on, and a large carved hutch that matches the table and chairs elegantly that holds a variety of dishes to make serving and eating food a quicker process when needed, on the half of the room nearest the heavy doubled doors.

The back half of the room held a large stone fireplace with a large stone mantle, a set of fainting couches, three comfortable chairs, and a smattering of small side tables for ease of setting a wineglass down. A small table with a well-worn chess board is flanked by two chairs like the ones at the dining table, the chessboard set for a new game, one side's pieces lapis lazuli with gold and silver sunbursts, the other side onyx with golden wyverns.

It is the room the family most often uses for informal gathering, and in fact, was being used as such now. One of the butlers held a variety of platters of foods suited for an easy midday meal: breads, meats, and cheeses; fresh summer strawberries and recently ripened summer peaches; heavy sweetened cream; a bowl with fresh greens, thinly sliced radishes and carrots, and even a small plate of juicy sliced nightapples, a kin to poisonous nightshade, and, despite the commoner belief to the contrary, not even remotely as poisonous. A glass bottle of oil and vinegar mixed with herbs sat beside the greenery, likely to be doused all over them as desired. No wine; there are three ewers to pour drinks from, one holding chilled milk from the truefrost chiller room, another chilled water, the third chilled water with sliced peaches and strawberries floating in it for more flavor.

One thing Gabriel may have noted since his arrival— the l'Saigner do not drink alcohol very often, if at all.

The Duke sits in one of the larger, more comfortable looking chairs, a mostly ignored plate to his side as he skims a stack of "correspondance" he was catching up on from being in the capitol for the coronation. The Duchess is in the seat beside him, somehow paying attention to him sidelong and yet pointedly ignoring him as she dandles the elder of her two grandchildren on her lap, her own meal small and quickly finished. The younger of the twins is being held by his maid, standing off to the sit out of the way while Alina sits primly on one of the fainting couches, having only just arrived and yet to take her lunch.

Gabriel has been out and about this morning, mostly exercising his horses and seeing to their care. Not that he had any suspicions that the stablemasters here would poison them or something, no, there was something to be said for a man who could see to the care of his own animal. Besides, it helped form a bond with the beast and a knight who couldn't depend on his horse in a time of need was going to find themselves dead rather quickly.

He now enters the room dressed in a black doublet and trousers, the garb more utilitarian than fancy. He glances around and offers the Duke and Duchess a nod and a smile in greeting. Noting Alina's position out of the corner of his eye, he steps over to her and takes a seat on the couch next to her, reaching over to squeeze her hand. "How was your morning?"

Lucas is on hand poking at his food and drinking sparingly from a cup of chilled water. The youngest l'Saigner has been seldom seen of late, taking treks into the woods, or training with his fellow Wraiths and looks as though today he'd rather be away as well. Gabriel's entrance gets a glance up from Lucas and then he turns back to his food saying "Father, do you think it would be alright if I paid my respects to the new Count t'Corbeau. It's been some time since I have been back in Three Rivers."

Alina squeezes Gabriel's hand back, delight lighting up her face as her husband-tobe settles beside her. She leans over and gives him a kiss on the cheek. "Mm. Busy," she says evasively. "Paperwork to attend."

James grunts in agreement to Alina's words, flipping another page in the reports. He lifts a brow at Lucas. "Ah, yes. Talia did obey Alina's little snit and get married, didn't she? I'm surprised she did so as quickly as she did." Alina flushes at the term "little snit", and studiously looks away.

Before James can say anything, the door creaks open just a bit and a pair of very large grey striped cats wander in as if they own the room. One jumps up on Lucas's chair, swatting at his hand. The other hisses annoyedly at Gabriel before stlking over to the other, unclaimed couch and immediately lazing across it, taking up as much of the couch as possible. He still flattens his ears at Gabriel and looks less than pleased.

"Wraith," Alina admonishes. "Behave." She glances to Gabriel apologetically. "He's upset you're taking over his bed. He believes it's his bed, you see, and I'm allowed there, but you…" she shrugs.

Mina lifts a brow at Alina after she kisses her grandson on the forehead. "Have you eaten? No? Then eat." The cats are ignored in that way that is done when such behavior is entirely…. normal.

As Alina rises to go and fix a plate (after squeezing Gabriel's hand one more time), James puts down his paperwork and looks to Lucas. "If you wish to travel to Three Rivers, you have my approval. If not?" he shrugs. "I can find use for you here, of course. Especially with Corvin still in Rovilon. Perhaps you might put off your traveling until he returns." His tone is mild, but lacking warmth. "And Lord Gabriel. How are you finding Lonnaire? We are glad you decided to come stay with us in advance of your wedding to Alina."

Mina gives Gabriel a slightly warm smile. "We truly are. I am glad to see that you both are getting along as well as you are." She hands Leonard off to the maid and takes Eduard instead, smiling as she takes his little hands and makes them "wave" at Gabriel. "And have already given me two grandsons," she says as she waves. Eduard opens his mouth in a gummy baby grin.

The l'Corren offers Alina a slight smile though it turns into a slight frown as he observes the behavior of the cats. Cats. He would have preferred a dog or two, but maybe that is something he could see to at a later time. When the Duke addresses him he offers a nod. "It is a little warmer and a little more green than Murnord is, but it is a fine city." There is a slight grin of amusement at that. "As to coming here? Well, I think it made a good deal of sense. When preparing for a battle, planning, preparation and knowledge of the terrain are key."

He pauses, frowns slightly, realizing how that might have sounded. "Not that I think marrying your daughter will be a battle, sir. Rather I meant that getting to know this area better would make for a smoother transition when I become her husband." Glancing over at Lucas, he gives the man a nod and then responds to Mina. "Ah, yes, well, I assure you that my intention was not to do that so quickly, but I do not regret it. I am quite pleased with our sons."

Lucas frowns at his father's suggestion but replies "Yes, father," all the same. "Are we expecting trouble?" he asks. A moment later the second cat, Rogue, leaps into his lap and peers up at the table studying Lucas' plate. Lucas scritches her behind the ear and passes a morsel from his plate to the cat before he smirks over at Gabriel. "You're right it won't be a battle. Those are short; it will be a war."

James snorts with dry humor at Gabriel's comments. "No, you were likely right the first time. Life is a battle, marriage is no different." He actually chuckles at Lucas's addition. "A long war. One where most of the battles will likely be over where she keeps her dresses."

Alina scowls at them both at she returns with a plate of food and a cup of milk. "You're both horrible." She leans over to Gabriel and kisses his cheek with a pout. "I'm trying very hard to be accomodating."

James lifts a brow. "Obviously," he intones dryly, a slight gesture made towards his grandsons.

Mina sniffs. "James." The Duke does not even look remotely abashed. The Duchess sighs and looks to Lucas. "We are not expecting trouble, no, but since Corvin still has those with him he does, I would just feel better knowing someone of your skill is around to keep an eye on your sister and nephews," she says diplomatically. "Just in case. Especially with how things have been this past year or two, it never hurts to be careful."

Wraith lounges, flicking his tail and watching Gabriel with slightly narrowed eyes. Alina sighs in a put-upon fashion.

Gabriel considers that, and then nods. "I have to admit that I never thought anyone could own so many dresses, but on the other hand, I own far more weapons than any man should own so I cannot comment over much about her abundance of clothing." He gives Alina a little grin and then kisses her cheek in return. Glancing over at Lucas and Mina he bites his lip thoughtfully.

"Have matters quieted down since the, ah, Cardinal was removed from power? I admit that a good deal of my attention has been on the north, but I remember the troubles that plagued the roads. Could there still be small pockets of enemies out there that need to be rousted out and dispatched?"

"Right, my skills," Lucas snorts to his mother. Though when Gabriel asks his question, Lucas looks thoughtful and turns to the duke and duchess. "I admit my attention has been elsewhere as well. Are there still problems to be dealt with?" He knew Corvin had been tasked with rooting some of it out but there could always be more.

James sighs, settling forward in his chair. "Bandits? Sadly, always a problem. Rooting them out is a perpetual concern. But my worry is more if the Cardinal had allies. This family struck a harsh blow to the man, and it was Corvin, at Alina's command and my agreement, who killed the traitor." James considers. "She was dead, now she lives. She is weak—" he lifts a hand to forstall any arguement from her, "due to her recent birthing. I now have two infant grandsons to concern myself with."

His eyes glitter darkly. "So yes, I am concerned with the potential for any of these three to be killed by one of Lucien's allies. This is why we hid your sister's living for as long as we did."

Mina nods ruefully, hugging Eduard. "So yes, Lucas, your skills. You are a Wraith. You are possibly one of the most skilled combatants we have. If any harm looks at your nephews, I have faith you will handle it better than almost anyone else."

Alina looks up from her meal. "Surely all the man's allies were destroyed or weakened and broken. I think you exaggerate the danger, Father."

James shrugs. "Better safe than dead. I don't intend to have the work I've put into you go to waste."

"Your father is right, dear." Gabriel reaches over and pats Alina's hand gently. "If there are possible threats out there to you, or our sons, I would rather be cautious. Give it some time and be patient. I am sure that over the next several months more can be learned about any potential threats." He is sure she doesn't want to hear such things. Hell, for as much as she might want to call him stubborn, she could be as stubborn as he was. Maybe more.

"If anything is discovered, we can handle it, and make sure that the person or persons will not be able to cause you or our sons harm."

Lucas sighs. "You're right, our usual paranoia is justified given all that's happened. Then, when Corvin is back I should speak to Uncle Artos, I could use his advice in helping make things more secure," he says before going back to his meal which he shares with Rogue. Of course he means Vigil matters when he speaks of making things more secure.

Alina stiffens slightly at Lucas's comment, catching enough of the undertone, given whom Lucas intends to speak to. "Of course," she says woodenly. "And I need to send a raven to the Archbishop." She lifts a brow to her little brother and glances towards Gabriel. Of course.

James is not blind. He glances between them, then looks to Lucas. "Is there any news in the duchy I should be made aware of?" he asks calmly. "In your sojourns of late, everything has been fine?"

Mina frowns, handing Eduard back to the maid. "You are dismissed. Make sure the babes are fed and sleep." She waits quietly as the maid departs with the twins.

James waits until the door shuts, and then glances to Alina. "Unmasking before you've wed?" he asks sternly. "Yes or no."

Alina flushes, scooting closer to Gabriel and sliding her hand into his. "No. Except in that." James sighs, a hint of aggravation on his face, then glances to his son. "Well, I suspect we will be gaining a visit from the archbishop soon. My question still stands. How fares our lands?"

Gabriel licks his lips as things become a little… tense. Glancing between the other four people in the room, he keeps his mouth shut, squeezing Alina's hand reassuringly when she slips her hand into his. The simple mention of the archbishop has already made him guess as to some of what this might be about, but not fully. He looks to Lucas, curious as to what the man will say regarding the l'Saigner lands.

Lucas turns a sharp look towards Alina. "You told him? One Above if they no longer trust our house over this you will have much to answer for sister!" he snaps at his sibling before he sighs and says "Well if the cat is out of the bag so to speak. No, there none of those sort of threats reported in the duchy that I know of. I would like to be able to say that without the caveat and so I want to speak to our uncle and others to make sure the duchy is safe and we are prepared for less conventional threats in the future. Like having more Leonor's Fire, as much as can be made and kept safely."

Alina scowls at her brother. "What was I supposed to do?! Let him break our betrothal, think me mad, because I wake up weeping in the night?!" she snaps. "And what else is he for, but this purpose?!" She gestures to Gabriel with her free hand, the hand holding his squeezing it as if letting go might mean falling off the world.

"He isn't a— he isn't like us. He's a knight. A protector. A man who has fought THEM even if he hasn't realized it yet!" her breathing comes heavily, panicked. "He's got the silver… silver sword…" her hand reaches up, clutching her chest, her eyes wide, as her breathing catches and stops, hard and erratic. "He's… knightly. He…" she gasps out, tears beginning to spill.

War shakes. She's had them from time to time, of course, as the family knows; worse since the incident in the ruins, though getting her covered in filth was a route to having them occur since the earlier incident in the ruins' basement as a child. Mina moves from her chair quickly, grabbing her daughters shoulder. "Breathe."

James scowls. "For One's sake. I had hoped you wouldn't have to see this, Lord Gabriel." He stands, looking to Lucas. "I am glad to hear our people are safe and there are no… incidents." He ignores Alina's frantic gasps for air. "Do not worry yourself over it. She'll calm and breath again soon enough." He's non-concerned, even cold.

Gabriel appears to wish to interject when Alina first starts to speak, wanting to comment on how breaking it wouldn't be up to him alone. He seems to think better of it, and closes his mouth, listening to Alina, though frowning as she squeezes his hand more tightly. As she seems to… experience some sort of fit, he wraps an arm around her and begins to murmur soothing words. Well, he thinks they are soothing, but he can't really say that he is the best person for this sort of thing. He stops as Mina comes over, allowing Alina's mother to do what she does best. Glancing over to James, he offers a slight shrug.

"It seems as if she has had some bad experiences. I cannot fault her for this. I have known men who were thought to be some of the toughest men of the north break when they felt there was no hope to be found." He doesn't seem overly concerned that Alina is having the fit though. "Someone once told me that time can heal everything. I have found that such words are a lie." He reaches over and runs his hand through Alina's hair, hoping that such a gesture will help calm her.

"Why should you care what he thinks of you?" Lucas asks Alina bitterly. "He is just the man you're betrothed to," a look to Gabe and a shrug. "Sorry." he says before carrying on at Alina. "We all have to give up much more than that for what we do. Also, it's not for you to decide who anyone is for when it comes to these matters, sister, even I don't have that authority." He leaves off when the fit begins in earnest, getting his sister a bit of cold water before he nods to his father. "I am relieved as well," he says given the lack of incidents. All business despite helping Alina with her distress.

It takes a few moments, but Alina's breathing steadies, even if it is still somewhat ragged. She slumps against Gabriel, hiding her face in his shoulder and taking comfort in his gentle touch.

"She'll need sleep," James says abruptly. "And yes. We've all had… troublesome experiences. I am sad to say my children more than I," and a hint of anger tinges his voice, though the anger seems self-directed. "They have both seen darkness, though my son seems better at—" he cuts himself off when Mina turns a scathing look to him.

"That she is still sane speaks volumes for her abilities," the Duchess says icily. "I will not sit here and listen to you say such things of either of our children."

The Duke's eyes glitter with more than a hint of anger, but he nods. "I have things to attend in my study anyway," he says coldly. "I trust you will handle things as you see fit."

And the Duke departs, taking his papers with him, without so much as a farewell to the others in the room. Mina watches him go and sighs. "I apologize, Lord Gabriel — " and her hand reaches over to take her son's for a moment, "Lucas." She lifts a brow, not saying what she might otherwise without Gabriel in the room— reminding Lucas how little the Duke likes situations outside his iron-fisted control.

She settles back in her chair. "Why should she care what he thinks of her, indeed?" Mina asks with a calm tone. "If they will be ruling this duchy at each other's sides, Lucas, then there should be respect and understanding between them, if nothing else. It is good for the duchy." She tilts her head, asking her son a question meant to have him think, with no reproach in her tone, "Would it not be better if they worked together, than at cross purposes? What are we, if not stewards of this land and these people? Should we hold petty grudges with those we must walk beside? What are the laws of this house?"

She glances to Alina, but sees that her daughter is in good hands, even if she is more focused on breathing and calming down than on joining the conversation yet. "As for her telling the young man, I agree it may have been too soon, but you know as well as any that she would have to tell him of the darkness in time; as your father did to me." She lifts a brow. "Or did you think he broke our laws and left me in the dark on these matters, son?"

Gabriel remains silent as the Duke and Duchess exchange words. After the Duke has left, he glances between Lucas and Mina. "I respect her. There was a time that I thought she was little more than a spoiled girl, but she has shown herself to be capable." Certainly she is also spoiled, but he need not say that. "I have given her my word that I will do what I can to aide her in her tasks." Because a l'Corren giving their word about something should be good enough for anyone.

He presses Alina against him and sighs. "For what it is worth, I am glad she told me. I cannot say that I like what she had to say about these… matters, but I will help where I can to keep the people of this duchy and this kingdom out of the way of whatever desires to harm them."

"Mother you're still such a l'Faust," Lucas counters as he moves back to his seat and slumping down. "Feelings? Grudges? What do those things matter to a l'Saigner? I loathe Corvin and yet I work with him when I need to and he works with me when he needs to. It is the nature of our work. Maybe if you and Alina had been broken and rebuilt by the Wraiths you'd understand. So, yes, if Gabriel is the man to be our Duke then what does it matter what he thinks of Alina as long as he understands what needs to be done for the work."

He reaches for his water and takes a sip before he turns to Gabriel. "I am sorry you made those oaths and doubtless you will be too once you get to know us."

Mina scoffs slightly. "Lucas, if I thought your father to be a madman, I could not do the work I do for and with him. I respect him. That is required." She doesn't like him much, but that is relatively obvious. "I agree— love, feelings? They are not required for Alina and Gabriel to work well together. But respect is, and I will be damned if you undermine it with your childishness. Sit up, Lucas. Look at me. Understand me. You know the rules of this family even better than I, as you were born to them. Do not make me angry with you. Your feelings towards your half-brother are irrelevant. You respect him, and so you work with him. How can you not see it is the same for a Duke and Duchess?"

She looks to Gabriel, her expression chilly. I am glad you made your oaths, and know enough about the l'Corren to know you'll keep them. If I had my say, you and Alina would be married tonight— but her position and yours demands the pomp and ceremony." She sighs. "We have laws, oaths, traditions of our own. I am sure you know of the masks being removed during the wedding ceremony?" she asks with a lifted brow. "That is only the beginning of it. I suspect you will keep to the oaths you've made now and will make the day you unmask my daughter and your cloak is turned.

"I have seen His Grace your father with his family and children. The north is cold, but there is warmth within your halls and keeps; love and tenderness for family, hearth, and home. For that, I am sorry— Lucas is right in that, you will find little of that here. Your family speaks of duty. We wear ours like you do your armor, cold and unyielding. Only our armor is tarnished with generations of rumors and lies, some of those we even spread and made up ourselves." She smiles then, but there's a sadness to it. "Marrying into this house is hard, especially when you come from an environment where you are loved and cared for. You may never have that again, Lord Gabriel, and for that I am sorry you will join us."

She takes a drink from her glass, finally. "But know this: you were chosen because we do respect you, and there is a need for who you are and what you do, both at my daughter's side and within our house. Forgive Lucas's angry words— sometimes I think he nurses bitterness the way a drunk nurses a flask of whiskey."

The word love kept being mentioned. Love. Well, Gabriel supposed that he had once hoped to love the woman he would wed. Certainly he respected Alina, but love? That wasn't something that had entered his thoughts. Maybe someday? It would be something to think on at a later date. For now he focuses on the Duchess.

"I will not deny what you say about my mother and father." He admits, knowing that his parents loved him and his brother and sisters. He considers his words for a moment and then nods slightly.

"Alina and I may never fall in love. I understand that. I accept that. The honest truth is, there was a time when I thought a lot of things that young men think and dream of. A loving wife, the adoration of the land, honor and glory from great deeds. I stopped thinking on these things long ago." Another pause as this time he lets out a long sigh. "Hard?" Another pause.

"Hard is coming to the realization that personal wants and desires are meaningless behind what needs to be done. Hard is watching men you have come to love as brothers go hungry and starve, or become so weakened that they can no longer hold up a sword properly, or resort to eating whatever living creature one can find scurrying about." Yes, a direct admission to having eaten insects and rats.

With his free hand, he rubs his forehead for a few seconds and then shrugs. "Marrying your daughter will not be hard, nor will joining your family. If I were a few years younger? Things might be different, but I am not a fool. I suspect there will be a number of things to come in my life I will not like, but one gets past that and does what is required of them. Yes, I have made promises and I intend to keep them. I will protect your daughter as she is an important part of this kingdom, and one of the things left in this world I do love is this kingdom. I would hate for my nephew to inherit a mess after all." And to that he offers a slight grin, the grin meant for both Lucas and Mina since he's meant his words for the two of them.

"But mother we're all mad," Lucas replies with a faintly sardonic smile. "It's just that most of us have lost the will to see it. Anyhow I do know the rules and as much as I can sometimes barely stomach the presence of my family I will not betray you, which you know. Else you would not have charged me with protecting our latest victims."

He finishes his water with a gulp. "Only because our rules forbid the flask of whiskey," he jokes bitterly before standing. Gabriel's remark wins a small smile. "Thank you for that much at least, brother," he jests lightly. "Though I pray nightly to the One any nephews from this side of the family are a long way off as yet."

He turns to his mother then "With your leave, I shall go see to security, I have surely done enough damage for one day."

Mina nods. "I should see to things as well." She rises to her feet.

Alina snuggles closer to Gabriel. "Help me to my room?" she asks him softly.

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