(1866-11-05) A Royal Duel
A Royal Duel
Summary: Louisa and Antonia spar and discuss Antonia's future along with a new title.
Date: 1866-11-05
Related: Knight's Games
Antonia  Louisa  Michael  

Aveyron Palace - Rovilon - Couviere
A busy practice yard, see scene.
Novembre 7th 1866

Averyon Palace is a busy place with the royal couple planning to make the trip to the royal capital next week along with Princess Emmaline, Prince Silvio and his wife Princess Antonia. It is this last of the royal travelers that Michael l’Corren seeks, striding through the royal apartments like it was his own home. After all, they were once, when he was a page and a squire here at court. Spotting one of Silvio and Antonia’s Cavalieres, he flags the man down and says, “I need a word with Princess Antonia if she’s the time,” he says, then smiles and amends that, “Even if she doesn’t actually,” he says before leaning in to whisper more.

The Cavalier, hesitant at first that even the future duke of Murnord would make such a demand, but as Michael’s whispered explanation meets his ear, the man smiles, before nodding. “Very well, wait here.”

Michael nods, smiling and leans against the wall. “Send someone to get her sparring equipment as well, she’ll have need of it.”

The Cavaliere nods and then goes to find Antonia with the message, that Lord Michael l’Corren wishes to speak with her on a very urgent matter.

Antonia is in her chambers when the Cavaliere arrives, a faint line there between her brows as she is busy at the moment with the task of briefing the servants about dresses to be taken along, and other things. A bit of displeasure flashes in her grey eyes, before it soon will dim, when the Cavaliere delivers his message. "A word with me, Sir Michael said?", she echoes, and then: "Sparring equipment…?" This latter enough to lighten her mood. "I believe I'd better change then."

When she arrives, only a quarter of an hour later, Antonia l'Valdan wears her lighter chainmail, she often uses for training purposes. Her dark blonde hair is conveniently out of the way, braided and then twirled and held in place at the back of her head. A servant follows in her wake, carrying a dulled sword. "Sir Michael," the Princess greets with a curious smile. "Now tell me, what is this about…?"

Michael is chatting with one of the household guards when Antonia arrives. He nods for the man to go and stands before bowing. Despite his request she be ready to spar, he is not, dressed in his blue and white velvet doublet wearing a heavy silver chain in the shape of interlocked horses about his shoulders. Court clothing if ever there’s been some, his only weapon, a silver dagger given to him on the occasion of his knighting. “That is a royal secret,” Michael says, clearly enjoying whatever intrigue he is involved in. “Though you’re perfectly dressed. Anyhow, come with me, your Highness, we’re expected in the training yard.”

Antonia looks a little surprised when she notes the l'Corren is wearing his courtly attire. "A royal secret, hmm?" Her brows knit even if that faint smile remains. Michael's announcement is met with a nod of her head though, when she falls in beside him as they head towards the courtyard, even if there is a hint of bewilderment in the long sideways glance she gives him.

Antonia’s bewilderment only seems to heighten Michael’s enjoyment of this moment and he walks in silence through the palace to the practice yard. Once out in the chilly late-fall sunlight, some of Michael’s meaning becomes clear, the yard has the usual occupants, members of the Circle, Cavaliers, and other knights and soldiers practicing at arms, but there is a cluster of figures who stand out amongst them, Queen Louisa l’Valdan and her ladies, the so-called Falcons, who were more knightly than courtly, who upon seeing Antonia and Michael emerge from the palace, turn their attention their way. When they have entered their circle, Louisa, who is dressed in much the same fashion as Antonia, light chainmail and leathers, is waiting leaning on a blunted sword, her dark hair tied back in a braid, her blue eyes regarding Antonia with a hawkish glint. She smiles, saying to Michael, without looking away from Antonia. “Thank you brother,” it was a dismissal, but a warm one. Michael smiles and bows, and as he passes Antonia on the way out of the circle of falcons forming around her he claps her on the shoulder and murmurs, “Best of luck, coz.”

When Michael takes his place outside of the circle, to watch, Lousia speaks to Antonia,”Cousin, Michael tells me you wish to be a knight.”

A bewilderment that is about to increase, when Antonia spots the Queen in that attire with her circle there in the courtyard. Grey eyes narrow for a brief moment, when the dark blonde l’Valdan pauses in her step and her head turns, as if she were about to pose a question to Michael l’Corren at her side who seems to continue on, and so her mouth shuts and she follows to keep up with him. “Your Majesty,” Antonia offers in greeting along with a slight bow when she stands before Queen Louisa. Straightening, a brief glance follows, acknowledging the presence of the Falcons standing about them, before her grey eyes focus on the Queen, a slight twitch of a brow the reaction to Michael’s words of encouragement as he leaves her.

“This is true,” Antonia l’Valdan confirms after a moment of digesting the Queen’s statement, that causes thoughts to race in her head, considering the many questions suddenly arising, none of which she thinks appropriate to pose. Instead, she adds: “I squired at Northwatch Hall before the marriage. And after that there hasn’t been an opportunity to serve Couviere in any other way than…” yes, she is going to say it, “a Prince’s wife and the mother of another. Until the raids in Mai, Your Majesty, here in Rovilon, when King Maris allowed me to participate in the battle, that would drive the Brodlund scum off.” Her gaze goes distant for a moment, a line appearing between her brows, as she considers the other, grave consequence of the battle, the death of the late King, which may cause her to put a bit more emphasis on the word ‘scum’.

Louisa nods as Antonia speaks. Her expression softens at the mention of Antonia’s time at Northwatche Hall. They knew each other then, not well, but some at least. “I remember,” she remarks before she listens to the rest. When Antonia’s finished she steps closer so their words do not carry further than the two of them. After all the royal encounter has drawn the attention of the others in the yard. “I know that frustration well,” she admits of wanting to be more than a wife and mother. “We’re not all like my own mother,” Florencia l’Corren being one of the more promising squires of her age before giving it up to wed. “And Michael says you fought well against the Brodlunder scum,” there is a twinge of regret as the raid is mentioned, for her father-in-law’s passing, “Anyhow, it sounds like your knighting is long past due, but let’s see where your skills stand. Would you care to spar?”

Antonia nods, to the Queen’s remark of remembering her, tilting the head slightly to the side when Louisa steps closer. There is a flicker in her grey eyes, a brief widening of acknowledgement when the Queen voices that frustration that has been boiling deep within her, for all these years, the mention of Lady Florencia earning another incline of her head when the dark blonde l’Valdan princess lowers her gaze for a moment. Her eyes lift when Louisa continues, the corners of her mouth twitching upwards, just a touch, before that smile deepens at the offer of a spar against Queen Louisa l’Valdan herself!

“It would be an honour,” Antonia intones with another of those respectful bows that are mostly extending to the head and shoulders. Straightening, she will gesture for the servant who has been lingering at a safe distance, to bring her the practice sword, Antonia’s grey eyes glinting with anticipation, thrilled at the prospect of the spar with such skilled opponent, as she smiles. “And my pleasure.”

When the offer is accepted Louisa grins, "Good," she says with a nod. "Mine as well. It's been awhile since I've had a challenge." she steps back then, holding out her hand to one of the Falcons who gives over her helm and the Queen pulls it on, before raising her sword in a salute to Antonia. "Come then, let's see if my brother was right," she says in a friendly challenge.

<COMBAT> Louisa attacks Antonia with Tourney Sword - ARMOR on Chest stops the attack!
<COMBAT> Antonia attacks Louisa with Tourney Sword - Serious wound to Chest.

<COMBAT> Louisa attacks Antonia with Tourney Sword but Antonia DODGES!
<COMBAT> Antonia attacks Louisa with Tourney Sword - Light wound to Chest (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> Louisa has started a new turn. Pose and choose your action.

<COMBAT> Louisa attacks Antonia with Tourney Sword - Moderate wound to Chest (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> Antonia attacks Louisa with Tourney Sword - ARMOR on Chest stops the attack!

"A challenge." Antonia smiles. "I hope I will not disappoint." She accepts her own training helmet from the servant, who had carried her tourney sword along, she not looking nervous at all, as she moves over with sure footed steps to assume her position and then raise her sword in a salute of her own to meet that of the Queen. Grey eyes narrow as they assess the opponent, the tension anticipating the start of their sparring match evident in her posture. Still, Antonia will wait until Louisa gives the sign and attacks.

She lunges forward, in a risky manoeuvre that involves a spin and a leap, her sword coming forward in a swing that aims for the chest and connects in a powerful blow, the sword of the Queen skittering over Antonia's armor, the sister of Sir Elrick t'Tremaine now using the momentum to duck away beneath Louisa's next swing, while Antonia completes her spin at manages another lighter hit. There's a brief moment, where Antonia glances towards the Queen, checking if she is alright, as she catches her breath… to gather momentum for her next attack, her own sword this time grazing over Louisa's armor, and the other, this time, managing a hit to her chest that sends her staggering a few feet backwards. "Well done," Antonia exclaims, inclining her head, whilst remaining in combat stance, aware of the bruise beneath her maille, through the waves of pain it already emits.

<COMBAT> Antonia attacks Louisa with Tourney Sword - Light wound to Abdomen (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> Louisa attacks Antonia with Tourney Sword but Antonia DODGES!

<COMBAT> Antonia attacks Louisa with Tourney Sword - ARMOR on Chest stops the attack!
<COMBAT> Louisa attacks Antonia with Tourney Sword - Light wound to Neck (Reduced by Armor).

<COMBAT> Antonia attacks Louisa with Tourney Sword - Light wound to Chest (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> Louisa attacks Antonia with Tourney Sword but Antonia DODGES!

"I somehow doubt you will," Louisa offers with a tilt of her head as she too sizes up her opponent. Though once that final compliment is offered her face becomes a serious mask again.

The Queen advances as Antonia lunges and instantly regrets it. Antonia's sword strikes hard and leaves the Queen winded and uttering some of the choicier curses she'd learned from her husband while her own sword skitters softly off Antonia's mail. Pained though she is there is no hesitation, she swings her sword again, this time Antonia ducks, striking the Queen again, this time lightly, before Louisa takes a grazing blow on her armour to land a heavier one on Antonia.

There is a pause then, the women stepping back and the Queen returns Antonia's nod with one of her own. "You too, it seems my brother spoke truly of your skill."

Then the time for words is done and she comes at Antonia again. Her first slash goes wide by an inch but is enough for Antonia to score another stinging blow, this time to her stomach. She turns, and while Antonia's blade scrapes across the mail on her chest, the Queen scores a hit of her own just above the collar bone. Then breaking apart from her foe she swings, again only to be hit once more.

Around the pair of fighters, people have taken note, the Falcons are steely faced, but others whisper, to each other, and some place bets. Not that the Queen notices, her eyes are fixed on her foe as they circle one another in the ring of Falcons.

<COMBAT> Louisa attacks Antonia with Tourney Sword - Light wound to Right Leg.
<COMBAT> Antonia attacks Louisa with Tourney Sword - Moderate wound to Neck (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> Louisa has been KO'd!

Antonia's grey eyes gleam with concentration, focused as she is at the moment on the exchange of blows, she managing another hit to Louisa's abdomen this time, while once again evading the momentum of the swinging blade of the other. The princess's next blow skitters over the chainmail, perhaps because of the surprise to feel the queen's blade connect above the collarbone - a hit that causes at least some discomfort and shock, being so close to the neck. It will not keep Antonia from launching her next attack, wary as she is this time, she focuses more on evading the next swing, but even so lands another hit, as the dull blade hits once again slightly above Louisa's waist.

No comment will leave the former t'Tremaine's lips this time, as she realizes with a flicker of her eyes that, even if slightly battered, her opponent is not in a much better state. Antonia exhales, feinting towards the Queen's legs, before she brings the blade up in the air, opening her cover on her right side which she will come to regret - were it not, that she and manages a hit, somewhere between the neck and the shoulder that will due to the dulled blade only leave a bruise. When her sword connects, the other does as well, Louisa l'Valdan's blade is brought down against her right leg, and Antonia bites back a groan.

The Queen fights back hard. Antonia though is quicker. Both are battered and tired, though the Queen has taken the worst of it so far and knows it, she swings low to take Antonia’s legs out from under her but the gamble does not pay off; as Louisa’s blade strikes home, so does Antonia’s slamming into Louisa’s shoulder. The Queen is staggered. She turns trying to bring her sword arm up but it won’t obey. She steps back, and lowers the sword, letting out a sharp tired breath, “I yield,” she says as she steps backwards.

Around the yard people take note of the fight’s ending, setting off a torrent of whispers and some coins changing hands. The Falcons are silent but from their expressions they did not expect this.

Louisa though looks pleased, even as she sticks her sword in the dirt and rubs her shoulder. “Well cousin, I think there’s little doubt about your skill,” she offers with a wry twist of her lips. She turns to her Falcons. “Ladies, a moment.” The women knights bow and they depart a few, nodding respectfully to Antonia as they pass. When they’ve gone, Louisa looks over to Antonia. “So then, if knighthood is what you want, between just now and the battle at the docks, you’ve more than earned it, but there is more if you would hear it.”

It is not like the Queen is easy work for Antonia either, the tides may turn in her favor, or maybe she is just having a particular good day. Antonia steps back as well, a slight limp there from the fresh bruise to her leg, exertion evident through her breathing, her grey eyes, however, glinting brightly, as she acknowledges with an incline of the head the yielding of her royal opponent. “Thank you, Your Majesty.”, this Antonia says to Louisa’s comment, her lips curving upwards into a modest smile. Her gaze drifts to the Falcons as they are dismissed, a nod given in return to them. Her breathing still has to return to normal, but it seems the exercise of the spar has brightened her demeanor considerably. “Earned it?”, she echoes, grey eyes shifting back to Sir Michael’s sister who also happens to be the Queen of Couviere. There is more than curiosity in her tone, that slight tremble of hope. Her hands join before her on the hilt of the tourney sword, she leans on. “Yes. It is what I want, Your Majesty,” the princess adds then, her eyes flitting down to her hands before they lift to meet the Queen’s gaze. “And I’d gladly like to hear what else you may wish to tell me.”

The Queen nods, and steps forward, pulling off her helm, aware of the eyes on the two of them, though Michael keeps close to keep casual eavesdroppers at bay. The helm gone, the Queenly mask is gone with it and it is Louisa, who stands beside her cousin, not the Queen by her subject. Louisa turns to watch her Falcon’s depart. “They’re good women, but young and there is a lot of life they’ve yet to experience,” she glances at Antonia. “Things you and I have experienced, marriage, children, all of that. I could use some help in guiding them, and while we may not have been given the chance to be friends before now,I respect you coz, and between that your skill, and that experience you’re exactly the sort of person I need for my Falcons,” she turns her eyes to Antonia’s own, a bit of the Queen reasserting herself as she does so. “So, if you’re interested coz, when you have your spurs, I’d like you to join my ladies, help them and help me. There will work to be done with the Falcons and the realm, I could use you for.”

It seems only fair for Antonia l’Valdan to take her helmet off as well, after Queen Louisa has already done so. Both women had married into the royal House of Couviere, still one of them was now the Queen while the other was just a princess. Antonia’s smile deepens as she looks, following Louisa’s gaze towards the departing Falcons. “Yes.”, she agrees, her expression slightly wistful, perhaps reminded of how she had been when she was still a squire. “They are young.” Grey eyes shift back to the other l’Valdan, one brow lifting, as she considers and a smile starts slowly to curve her lips. “Of course, I am interested.”, she assures, her eyes widening at the offer. “I’d be honoured to join the Falcons. Indeed. As I’m in no danger of becoming a Songbird… and have the wrong gender for… ” her gaze flits towards Sir Michael l’Corren, offering him a nod from afar, “the Circle.” There is another thing though, in what Louisa said to her, that makes Antonia raise her voice again in a question: “You mean, there’s the chance that I could get them. The spurs?” There is that hopeful gleam in her eyes, even if a slight shift in her stance reminds her of her fresh bruises.

Louisa laughs at Antonia’s remark about the Songbirds and the Circle. “Be glad of both those things,” she assures her cousin. “Especially that last,” she wrinkles her nose giving a look towards her brother, teasing. Michael is too far away to hear the words, but is savvy enough to know he is being teased, he rolls his eyes.

“And you’re better than most of them with a blade too, by the look of things,” Louisa says without flattery. When the question about the spurs comes out, she nods. Turning to look back at Antonia, “Yes, Jean-Paul left the matter in my hands, and I see no reason why you should not be a knight. So, I will speak to him, I suspect, he will want it done soon with the southern wedding coming. Jean-Paul and I will be there for the ceremony, but it will likely you and Silvio who remain to represent us for the rest. So, time is short.”

Antonia simply inclines her head to Louisa’s praise. “I’ve always continued to work on my sword skills, whenever possible,” she admits, with a wry grin. That grin brightens into a smile, when the Queen voices her intent to speak to the king on the matter. “That is wonderful news,” the wife of Prince Silvio smiles, and Louisa, and even Michael from his position further away can see the deeply felt happiness and gratitude in her mien. “And… thank you, Your Majesty.”, this added with a more deferential bow, that is not quite elegantly executed, given the slight flinch, when recently earned bruises bring themselves back to memory.

Louisa flinches in sympathy at Antonia’s evident pain. “I’d feel worse about that, if my shoulder wasn’t still throbbing,” she jests as she rubs where that final blow fell. “Anyhow, I expect it will be soon. The knighting. So you should prepare for your reflection to happen in the next couple of days,” she says speaking of the traditional vigil one stands before a proper knighting. “Which should give you time to tell Silvio,” she glances at those in the yard still talking about what they saw, “If he doesn’t guess from the whispers.” She smiles then, “Anyhow, I should be getting back inside, but, we will need to do this,” she nods to their swords and armor “Again soon, and once the knighting is done, we’ll talk more about your new duties.”

"Oh, it's nothing," Antonia says with a wry grin, blinking as if that could make the discomfort go away. "No need to feel bad about anything, I'd say, when be both gave each other a sound thrashing." She nods to Louisa's remark about the reflection, her gaze going distant for a moment, when that grin turns into a smile. "Yes. I'll tell Silvio," she states, grey eyes focusing once again on the Queen with a slight gleam. "And Etienne." Her smile broadens even more and she executes another light bow towards Louisa. "I shall look forward to that." Which could mean both, the sparring, and the talking, in fact.

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