(1866-09-20) Knight's Games
Knight's Games
Summary: After the Bracketed Joust, Antonia encounters Michael at the Gilded Gump, an comrade in arms from the battle against the Brodlund Raiders, four months ago. Talk turns from the current tournament to duties and forsaken ambitions.
Date: 24-26/09/2015 (Date of RP)
Related: Pacitta Tournament logs, happens after this one.
Players:
Antonia  Michael  

The Guilded Gump - Pacitta
The Gilded Gump is a high class tavern and eatery that serves the High Sector. Often used by business officials and better off members of the city's guilds and bureaucracy for gatherings, it is a higher grade establishment than many of the other eateries of the city. Brightly lit, the food is prepared well, and conditions are about as fine as one can get for an establishment that does not purely serve the Lords and the high families. The bustle of the place is constant, and it constantly has food from all the lands being served in it. A large heraldry of the ancestral families of the city lines the main entrance as one comes in, and as a nod to some of the less savory populace of the city, a standing challenge in the tavern is to name a drink that cannot be procured there. So far, none have ever been able to name one that cannot be made and provided.
Septembre 20th, 1866

The Gilded Gump has been prepared obviously, for a throng of nobles to filter in after the Bracketed Jousts have concluded. The tables are arranged in a slightly different manner today, placed more casual, in arrangements allowing more people to sit together. Upon entering, Antonia casts a glance about the place. The l’Valdan by marriage lets her grey eyes drift over the tables, failing to spot her husband there, even so attentive for other acquaintances. Her two guards she has grown accustomed to, not minding when they follow as she takes a seat at one of the tables, ordering a mug of ale in a tone that is more fitting to a squire who almost became a knight once, than a Princess wife of a Prince. Antonia wears a dress becoming her station, fine fabric, skillfully sewn, blue samite, long-sleeved, her dark blonde hair arranged in some fashionable hairdo its wearer has no clue about.

Michael l’Corren was in a fine mood after the jousts. He’d not done as well as he’d hoped but he’d done well enough. The finals would decide the rest. So, with Bella drawn off to speak with her half-brother Jasper on some matter of Callidus business, Michael wanders into the Gilded Gump, smiling. A few men and women rise shake his hand and offer him a drink, Michael refuses though, and offers to buy them one in turn. In a more ordinary tavern, on an ordinary day, he’d have offered to buy the room a round, but this was the Gilded Gump and it was packed with tourney goers and a round for everyone may very well break the bank.

Though as he extricates himself from his well-wishers he does spot one other person he’d buy for, his cousin, Princess Antonia. He takes a pair of cups from the bar man and makes his way over, “Your Highness,” he greets with a dip of his head before lifting his second cup. “Care to share a drink with an old battle companion?”

Antonia’s features are warmed by a smile when she spots Michael as he approaches with two cups of wine. In fact she goes to the trouble as to draw out a vacant chair beside her own for him. “Sir Michael,” she greets, with an inviting gesture towards the seat. “I’d very much like to share a drink and a few words with you, even if…”, her grey eyes shift to those well-wishers whose offers of drinks he has politely declined with countering their offer with his own, “your company seems to be very much sought after tonight.” She accepts the cup with a nod of her head, only to raise it in a toast and gesture of congratulation. “You rode very well today, and I would have wished you’d had bested that Giraldi knight in that final tilt. However,” she rolls her eyes ever-so-slightly, as she pauses to take a sip from her cup, “that same knight proved too much of a challenge even for Elrick.” Her lips curve into a smile, even so, the mirth in her eyes is slightly dimmed. “They say the joust isn’t won until the finals, so I am curious as to what the final result will be…”, said as she takes second sip and puts the cup down onto the table.

“Still… You should know I think highly of you for other reasons than any tournament can provide,” the princess adds after a moment. “We were comrades in arms, aye. It was in Mai that I could witness your efficiency in battle. Today we are here to get diverted with the spectacles of a tourney. But I can’t help but take it as little more than that. Diversion. A playful demonstration without serious consequences – so much different from what we faced four months ago, at Rovilon.” The tone of Antonia’s voice sounds almost wistful as she declares this.

Michael offers his own warm smile in return before he takes a seat. A look is given over his shoulder to his well-wishers when they are brought up. He shrugs. “I gave them their time, now I just wish to relax,” he explains. “And you’re right the thing won’t be decided until the end of the joust. Still, my points look good for the tourney over-all,” he remarks negligently, as if it was indeed just a game to him.

He looks over at Antonia as he brings up the events of Mai. His easy expression becoming more solemn and distant as he thinks of it, he seldom did, at least in detail. “Yes, down on the docks, that was the real thing, not some sport. With real costs. You fought well there though. You fought well though, I am sure he was proud of you even if there wasn’t time to say so,” he of course being, King Maris.

There is a slight upturn of her lips when Michael l’Corren comments on his current standing in the tournament, a hint of a flicker in her grey eyes that in a way contradicts the indifferent attitude Antonia has so far attempted to display. “Maybe the time has come for you to outshine your famous brother, Sir Gabriel,” she muses pensively. “I have watched each contest – the knightly ones – with interest. You won the Duels and did very well in the Joust Preliminaries and today at the Brackets. If someone deserves to win the Championship of this Tournament, it is you.” Her hand moves to fidget with her hair, something seems to irritate her there. “Knight’s games… I admit there were moments when I wished to be down there as well, on the field, competing. When this has been something I trained for long time ago, at Northwatch Hall.” She chuckles, even though there is little mirth to be found within the chuckle, rather a faint hint of bitterness. Any of which will be washed with another good sip from her ale.

Her expression softens when Sir Michael speaks of the battle against the Brodlund raiders, even though there is that shadow of loss also apparent in her demeanour when he makes that rather subtle reference to late King Maris. “He was,” she states simply. “And I…” Air leaves her throat in a soft exhale. “I should have been proud, but all my efforts could not prevent his death.” Grey eyes lift to meet Michael’s gaze. “You were there as well, when His last breath left Him.” The connection of their shared fate enough to justify a moment of contemplation of the past. Until her lips curl into a faint version of a smile. “Thank you for your praise, though,” Antonia adds belatedly. “It has been a rare moment where I was able to serve the Realm other than… being the mother to a Prince.”

Michael has a sip of his wine. A shrewd glint in his eye. “Forgive me for making light of it,” he says of the tourney. “I know how it is to want the chance to earn glory and constantly be denied that chance.” He sets down his cup, nodding slowly in the memory of Maris. “It was not for us to save him, I think. I could feel the One’s hand his battle with the chieftain and it played out how He willed it. So, do not feel bad that you could not save him. It was his time.” He reclaims his cup and has another pull before he returns it to the table. “I gather that battle and this tourney has taken the shine of your role as princess and mother?” he asks her then, with a level, but not unkind gaze.

Antonia shoots Michael a glance, grey eyes narrowing a touch. "We are here at Pacitta," she states. "Everyone watches the contests, and I wouldn't want to stay away." Her lips remain curled, her gaze attentive as she studies him. "I am not discontent with my lot in life," she insists after a pause, considering his words. "It is just that… I became a pawn at some point, and my own ambitions in life became secondary. Well, I couldn't really refuse when my father was so pleased with the match." She rolls her eyes again, in slight wonder but also amusement. "I still don't know how he managed to arrange it anyway…" Another sip is taken, Princess Antonia l'Valdan apparently in a mood tonight. It is the l'Corren's question, that will elicit a shake of the hand and a chuckle. "Why, no! I mean… I am blessed with my husband and my son. And while I never was eager to become a Princess, I have adapted to it. House l'Valdan has become my family…"

Grey eyes study Michael beneath brows that lift just so. “What of your wife, Sir Michael? How has she adapted to her situation in life - no longer a Callidus Princess but a l’Corren lady?”, Antonia inquires curiously.

“We are all being moved on the board of life by someone, Antonia, and I have both been moved by others and by my own hand and I am not certain which I like better,” Michael confesses frankly turning his cup on the table. “Though I understand your frustration until last year I would have traded anything in the world to be born eighteen minutes later and be the second son, to shake off the yolk of being heir. Now, though having had a taste of glory in the field, and I suppose here in this tourney, I am able to accept my role, embrace it and be happy with it,” he looks up from his wine cup. ‘For as much as you protest your own happiness, I get the feeling you are searching for something of the same?” he asks his own brow raising.

The remarks about his wife, they earn a smile. “I wish she and I were of an age, she makes me feel old,” he says with brief chuckle. “Too much energy. Though, as for how she adapts? She’s learning our ways, but has a long way to go in some regards. She’s been invaluable here, though, she is definitely a creature of charm and diplomacy.”

Antonia takes a sip from her ale, nodding to Michael’s remark about pieces being moved. “I didn’t mean to sound bitter. Indeed, I am not!,” she hurries to assure. “Many do envy me for getting where I am today. It is a privilege, of course,” her gaze goes distant for a moment, the corners of her mouth lifting into a smile, this a slightly more pronounced version. “I know the worth of duty, Sir Michael. It is just that I… had expected to serve in yet another way. Old ambitions are hard to forget. Here at this tourney, I have found that I am doomed to be the spectator. But the One above knows, I have made sure my skill with the sword is kept up with regular practice. I even train Etienne occasionally, when I find the time. Ah, to be honest, quite regularly. He is ten years old… I will have to find someone whom he can squire for. I wish him to become the knight I never got the chance to be.” She hesitates, looking up from her cup of ale to meet the l’Corren’s gaze. “I am in the rare position to have found love in a match that was arranged for me, I have a wonderful son… I should be content with my lot in life.”

When he speaks of his wife, Antonia’s smile deepens and she chuckles softly. “She is very young, yes, but perhaps that is a good thing. She may be more open to changes… I was hardly eighteen when I married. If someone would have been doomed to marry me as I am now… Old and grumpy…” She smirks, and tosses even a wink Michael’s way, maybe in some vague excuse for the frustrations she has vented on him already in the short time of their encounter.

Michael sips his own drink and nods. "You don't need to apologize to me for anything Antonia. I have felt the same way in the past and will likely feel so again sometime in the future. It is the natural cost of our positions I think. To be blessed and cursed by our privilege." He sets down the cup again, then leans against the back of his chair. Clearly pondering something as replies to the remarks about his wife and a certain 'old and grumpy' princess. He snorts. "If you think yourself old and grumpy then you have bigger problems than thwarted ambitions!" he remarks before he shakes his head. "And yes, Bella has time to change, I mean when I think of the man I was at seventeen and the man I am now, I know there is plenty of room for changes."

He has another sip of his drink. "Plenty of time for changes for us 'old and grumpy' types as well. For example, it would not be impossible for you to become a knight. That is the root of the problem isn't it? Seeing others, some of them less skilled, competing, while you are sidelined by duty?" he asks. "If I've got the right of it, I think a case could be made to our king."

Antonia raises her eyebrow. "I am quite successful usually to cover that side of my personality quite nicely.", she assures with a smirk. "And no… not that old yet, perhaps." Grey eyes shift from Michael to the cup of ale in her hand when he speaks of watching less skilled knights competing, a slight twitch of her lips occurring before she nods. "Aye. That is what it comes down to. Knighthood ceased to be an option, when I turned to the more important task of breeding heirs. Well, that one heir, so far." Her shoulders lift in her shrug, and her eyes narrow as they focus once again on the l'Corren heir. "Do you think, the king would consider… and agree to this?" Her expression cautious and slightly doubtful.

Michael meets that raised eyebrow look with a grin. “Hidden so well you told me about it,” he says before he shrugs and moves on. He does however note the twitch about the less skilled knights competing. He’d found his mark it seemed. “Well heirs and knighthood are not mutually exclusive, look at Louisa, she has both,” he says not bothering with titles when it came to his royal sister. He takes a moment to consider Antonia’s question, “Well, I know Jean-Paul the man would do it, but I can be less certain of what Jean-Paul the king might do until we ask him. Though, I suspect unless he has some plan for you that he has not yet mentioned, he would be agreeable.”

"Ah… well… I believe you've never really seen me grumpy", Antonia drawls with a smile to match Michael's grin. "Even if maybe a little spattered with the blood of our enemies, back then, at the Battle against the invaders." Okay, maybe he did see a rather grim expression on her face on that fateful day, grey eyes shining with a hint of glee when she raised her gaze and offered Michael l'Corren a nod of acknowledgement, amidst the battle, in the brief spell of drawing a breath between slaying the most recent round of Brodlund foes, and the next.

"Jean-Paul is a worthy king," the king's sister-in-law states with genuine respect that shows also a bit of fondness. "He has had a lot to deal with since his coronation. He is family. And I somehow hesitate to ask this of him - as if I demanded knighthood to be given to me, as a nice asset to flounder before each and everyone like a new dress." She smiles. "It has a deeper meaning to me. Mayhaps you could make mention of the matter to him? It would appear less… presumptuous, if someone else brought it up for the first time."

Noticing he is about to move on Antonia leans back in her chair, raising the mug of ale in a toast. "May the tourney bring you the Championship you deserve, Sir,"

Michael laughs. "I think you were a bit past grumpy back then," Michael says, remembering the same moment. Then so was he. Fully in the grip of battle fever, armor splattered with Brodlunder gore, he'd returned that nod then shouted 'kill them all!' as the second wave crashed into their lines. He shakes off the memory and has deep pull from his cup in hopes of keeping it drowned.

When the cup is set down, he looks up and nods. "Don't get me wrong. Jean-Paul is a worthy king and I love him like a brother, I am just saying here is more at play in what King Jean-Paul chooses to do than there was with Prince Jean-Paul. Anyhow, I don't see that being a problem here, the kingdom can always use more knights. So, in all I can bring the idea to him and see what he says."

The toast is met with a slightly uncomfortable smile. "Thank you. And may I soon be able to call you 'sir' in turn," he offers raising his cup in return.

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