1867-10-12: A Dressing-Down
A Dressing-Down
Summary: In the days before the masque, Alina meets with some of her vassals. One in particular pushes her buttons.
Date: 1867-10-12
Related: Related Logs (If there aren't any, use None. Don't this entry leave blank. If there is a log, use full URLs, like MemoirTitle)
Alina  Melanie  

The masque is in two days time, and many nobles from near and far have arrived in Lonnaire to attend. The Duke has many responsibilities to attend to, and though Alina truly should be spending more time making sure the very expensive party she is throwing will go off without a hitch, she has been roped into meeting with various vassals who have the desire to make requests or give gifts or some combination of the two.

"Thank you so much," Alina smiles brightly at Great Lord t'Picot. "My sons will get great use out of these toys," she gestures to the small pile of large wooden toys, carved from the dark purple wood native to Fauven. There were four wooden swords, a trio of wooden stick-horses, a wooden shield and three wooden daggers.

The Great Lord bows and smiles back at Alina. "I am glad to offer them to you from my family. The fruits of Fauven are always open to the l'Saigner."

"And we are ever grateful for that," Alina replies. "I do hope to see you at the masque, my lord."

"Likewise, my lady." He bows again and, taking the polite dismissal for what it is, departs the Great Study of Highwater Castle, likely to return to a manse in the city.

Alina lets out a sigh as the door shuts, and gestures to one of the two serving girls (though one of them was actually a Wraith in servant's garb, Marie, one that often guarded Alina in such moments) to bring her a cup of sweetened lemonwater. After taking a large gulp of the drink, she gestures slightly to allow in the next petitioner, placing her cup aside. So far she had entertained seven such petitioners that day and would likely do at least that many more.

A courtly, warm smile is firmly settled across her lips as the door opens, admitting the Baroness Melanie t'Maren of Bloodfields. "Good afternoon, Baroness. What brings you to house l'Saigner today?" Alina greets her warmly.

"Ah, my Lady Alina. It is good to see you this afternoon," Melanie says, curtsying to the heir to Lonnaire. "I trust you and your babes are doing well?"

"Yes. Leonard and Eduard are already walking and talking, after a fashion. They tend to speak more when it's just their nurses or myself or Gabriel than they do in front of others," Alina says fondly. "And Arthur grows at a prodigious pace. I suspect he will be a tall, strong man when he's full-grown."

"Perhaps the most likely of The Red Knight's sons to follow in his footsteps," Melanie replies with a cheerful smile. "I apologize that my husband could not be here today, he was abducted by your husband to see some of the updates made to the courtyard to make it more friendly to hosting knights. I believe they were admiring Lord Sir Gabriel's new quintain when I left them."

"Typical," Alina laughs. "Yes, Gabriel is quite pleased, and moreso pleased with the expansion we are doing to the stables. It had gotten crowded in there once he brought his warhorses."

There is a few moments of silence. Alina stifles a frown. She recognizes this kind of silence, when a vassal is screwing up the courage to bring up something they don't expect the answer they want to.

"Speaking of knights," Melanie says finally, "I had some concerns about Lord Sir Gabriel's new Amethyst Guard. It has been a small source of worry that he would move so many knights to the capitol that Bloodfield might not be as needed by Your Graces."

Alina feels a moment of relief. This, at least, does not require her much patience. "Have no fear of that!" she replies blithely. "Even when Gabriel has finished his goal and made the Amethyst Guard into what his vision for them is, their numbers will be small and more meant as a honor guard for the ducal family than a replacement for our loyal vassals, the t'Maren, and their knights." She smiles brightly at Melanie. "You have nothing to worry about on that score. Besides, it will likely be years before Gabriel has the total number he wishes for the guard."

Melanie looks relieved, openly. "Thank you, my lady, for your words. There is one other… small thing." She frowns. "I understand my husband's daughter has recently been knighted by Lord Sir Gabriel. Are you sure that was wise, and to bring her onto this elite guard? I say this out of concern for you and you family, of course."

<FS3> Alina rolls Perception: Great Success. (3 1 8 6 7 3 2 3 8 1 1 7 4 8)

A white-hot fire is stoked in Alina's belly at those words. There were few things she found as ridiculous as not allowing a person to reach their full potential out of pettiness… and to her mind, Esyld should have been knighted years prior, when it was properly time to do so. That this woman had stood in its way out of pure pettiness annoyed Alina.

That she was now attempting to stand in the way of Esyld's appointment to the guard took the annoyance to full-fledged aggravation.

"I've found Mistress Esyld Draven," Alina uses her full name, "to be an excellent addition to our guard. She is loyal and skilled." Alina leans forward, and takes a drink from the cup beside her before setting back down again. "Skilled enough that my husband knighting her came far later than it should have been. I have no patience for your petty jealousy, Melanie." She drops the title, not out of intimacy, but the tone clearly shows disrespect. "The t'Maren have served our house well over the years, but in this you have shown a grave disservice. You worry a bastard might inherit? You're mad or blind or both. This is Couviere. You do realize what must be done, and how the Royals must be brought to agree… and they like bastards less than you, I suspect…?"

Melanie's face turns red with anger. "My lady, I meant no disrespect—"

"Bollocks. You're trying to win me over because I'm a young girl and impressionable, and won't I please ask my father to strip Esyld's spurs?" Melanie's mouth opens and closes like a fish as Alina interrupts her. "It would take a Duke to do it, or Gabriel himself, and that's not bloody likely to happen," Alina curses. One Above, she was exhausted, and she didn't have the patience for this today.

"But the girl isn't suited to be a knight!" Melanie agrues, looking angry.

"And if you're going to be so petty because your husband slept with a another woman, you're not suited to be Baroness!" Alina roars. "If you're angry about a bastard, take it out on the one who strayed, not the child! You'll get no sympathy here in Highwater for your hurt feelings over it— we see our bastards as tools. Can't you see how you almost wasted Esyld? Well, no matter, she is in our hands now and she will be shaped and used to the benefit of this duchy."

Melanie looks furious, but says nothing.

"You're dismissed," Alina says coldly. "Get out of my study, and don't come back until you can act like an adult and not a spurned child."

To be truthful, the dismissal was a bit rich, coming from a young girl who had just lost her temper at a woman old enough to be her mother.

And as Melanie shakingly curtsies and turns to leave, Alina adds, "And besides," her tone is conversational at this point, "Esyld was the first of the Amethyst Guard, so she has the senoirity. She'll likely be the head of it once all is said and done."

Melanie flinches. "Yes, my lady," she says coldly as she leaves.

Alina waits for the door to close, then hurridly finished off the lemonwater. "Bloody buggered sheep in a winebarrel," she curses. "I really hate that woman."

Marie snorts. "You have to remember, she's a northerner."

"I'm glad we're training that ridiculousness out of Gabriel," Alina replies. "Send in the next bloody twit." She rubs her temples. It's a bit warm in here and she desperately wants her bed…

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