1866-06-02: The Kingdom of the Faithful
The Kingdom of the Faithful
Summary: Crown Prince Jean-Paul l'Valdan gathers a council to discuss the future of the Faith of the One God in Couviere, and specifically in regards to his coronation. A bit of the Church's dirty laundry is aired courtesy of the Archbishop of Murnord, Solomon Fisher.
Date: Juin 2, 1866 IA
Related: Anything to do with the Coronation of Jean-Paul
Jean-Paul  Cynthia  Manfred  Solomon  Sirrah  

It was quite an assembly of people that had gathered in the royal sitting room of Aveyron Castle, just a few days before the coronation of King Jean-Paul l'Valdan. Jean-Paul sat in the largest chair, looking for all the world like a throne, though his manner was fairly relaxed despite the weighty topic being discussed. Archduke Manfred l'Faust was seated to his right, and his mother, Queen Mother Cynthia l'Valdan to his left. Other chairs had been pulled into a rough circle to allow for this impromptu "council" to be held. Jean-Paul's wife was seeing to entertaining their many guests, though she largely already know Jean-Paul's thoughts in this direction. The others gathered included the Archbishops Solomon Fisher and Sirrah Lancella, though the latter was remaining mostly silent, simply enjoying the warmth of the teacup in her wizened hands, and occasionally giving a supportive look or word towards Solomon or Cynthia. The easy camaraderie between the two archbishops made it clear that they were very old friends.

"Forgive my saying so, Cynthia, but I believe Jean-Paul is right in this…" Solomon spoke towards the Queen Mother, who bore a troubled expression on her face. The Crown Prince had insisted on a lack of formalities for this discussion of formalities. "Lucien's treachery has tained the church, or at least its' high clergy, in the minds of many, and not entirely without cause." He sipped from his own teacup and continued, "Many of us have grown proud. Arrogant in our power and belief in our own righteousness."

"Saul…" Sirrah's tone carried a note of caution, a bit of a frown on her face now as well. She seemed to know what he was speaking of, though, as there was a look of sympathy to that expression as well.

"I'll not hold my tongue on this, Sirrah. If I'd been more vocal before perhaps we could have…" The old Archbishop shook his head, "Well, no use worrying over what cannot be changed, but while I well know his Holiness wouldn't like me spreading it about, we need trust now more than anything, and we won't get it if we hide the Church's warts from those we need that trust from." He inclined his head towards Jean-Paul, "Apologies, but there has been growing discontent in the Church's ranks…particularly among the lower clergy…many of the rural priests and friars, but also a few among the Archbishops and Cardinals as well. A small group, but enough to not be easily silenced. We believe that the Church…and particularly much of our high clergy…has grown proud. Too proud, as the One bade we should be humble in our shepherding of men." The Archbishop unhesitatingly seemed to count himself among this group, "It was part of why Lucien was always seeking to undermine me."

"Part?" Manfred l'Faust caught the implication of the word readily enough, leaning forward in his chair and regarding the Archbishop impassively, "What's the rest, then?"

"He was working with me." Jean-Paul answered for the Archbishop of Murnord, garnering a raised brow from Manfred, which was about as close to an expression of surprise as he ever got, "I never trusted Lucien. Not even from the start. I knew Solomon had reservations as well, and so we conspired to see if we might uncover anything that could lead to the Cardinal's rebuke or recall."

"For all the good it did us." Solomon added with a bit of a scoff to his voice, frowning, "I should have devoted more attention to the matter when our concerns were not addressed. I should hav-"

"You did all that you could, Solomon, and I thank you for it. He fooled nearly everyone." Jean-Paul waved a dismissive hand, "But that does not change the issue at hand. While His Holiness may have been fooled just as my father was…"

"And your mother, for a time…" Cynthia added, garnering a brief look and a somber nod from her son before he continued.

"The Faith sent us Cardinal Ramius. Given the magnitude of what he attempted, we cannot completely ignore that. There must be a message sent, and I think it needs to be clear, and it needs to begin with the Coronation." Jean-Paul paused, "Couviere has ever been a Kingdom of the Faithful. I do not have any desire or will to change that. But it will be a Kingdom of the Faithful…not a Kingdom of the Faith itself."

"The Archbishop is a good man, Jean-Paul. Every King or Queen of Couviere has been crowned by a member of the Clergy. It is tradition." Cynthia noted, the frown returning to her face.

"Lucien Ramius was believed a good man as well." Manfred l'Faust spoke bluntly, "Meaning no offense, Archbishop Fisher." The old Archduke gave a mildly apologetic look toward Solomon.

"None taken, Your Grace." Solomon replied in a droll tone, earning a bit of a smirk from Sirrah. "Be that as it may, I still think Jean-Paul is right. And I think you should place the crown on his head, Your Majesty." He directed his words towards Cynthia, and Sirrah's look turned towards curious rather than amused.

"Clever." Manfred noted, "The Queen's devotion to the tenets of the Church is well-known. If we are to be a Kingdom of the Faithful…I shouldn't think there is a finer example of "the Faithful" that would be suitable."

Jean-Paul considered this a few moments, then nodded, "I agree." He fixed his eyes on the Archduke now, adding the question, "Will it cause problems with the Dukes at all?"

Manfred didn't even need to think about it before he shook his head, "Not likely. James and his brood won't care either way. Cesare may not be entirely comfortable with it, but his daughter is becoming Queen, so he hardly has room to complain. Besides, if you manage to work the Archbishop into a still-prominent role with the ceremony, it will likely allay any concerns that might arise."

"A delicate balancing act." Sirrah piped up now, "Given the Prince's former reputation." Already word was going forth that the rumors of the Prince had been lies fabricated and recirculated by the Cardinal and his agents, for that was surely true, but it still would take time for the venomous whispers of old to completely fade.

"Not so delicate." Solomon noted. "I'll give the invocation, and present the crown and scepter to the Queen Mother. The Faith will still be seen as integral, but not in control, and that is what is most important right now. We must reassure the people and their duly-appointed rulers that we are there to support them, and not to rule over them."

"That seems an acceptable compromise. Mother?" Jean-Paul looked back towards Cynthia, who was clearly still not entirely comfortable with the matter, but after a couple of moments, she took a deep breath, and nodded her assent:

"I will do as you wish, my son." She rose to her feet, and reached over to caress Jean-Paul's cheek, smiling wanly, "Maris would be so proud of you." Cynthia's eyes glistened a moment, threatening tears that came all-too-often in recent days, but she willed them back, even as those others present politely seemed to find themselves absorbed in other things for the moment.

Jean-Paul reached up and lightly touched his left breast, where a certain letter was carefully folded and tucked beneath his doublet, smiling a bit sadly to his mother, "I know…but thank you." He then reached up and took Cynthia's hand, kissing the back of her fingers before releasing it.

Cynthia nodded, and glanced to those assembled once more, before looking to Archbishop Fisher, "Well then, I suppose we had best work out my lines, shouldn't we?"

Solomon smiled kindly, rising to his feet as smoothly as his aged frame would allow, and offered an arm to the Queen Mother, "Of course, Your Majesty, I would be happy to assist. Sirrah, will you join us?"

The equally-wizened Archbishop Lancella nodded and rose as well, surprisingly more smooth than her fellow Archbishop, carrying the grace of a younger woman despite her appearance. "Of course."

"All right. Thank you Mother, I will speak with you again soon." Jean-Paul smiled to Cynthia before the trio departed, then turned to Manfred once more, "Now…let's get to matters of Couviere and Rivana…."

The Archduke nodded and leaned forward intently, and together the two men began to chart a potential pathway to the future.


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