(1310-12-21) Alban Complexities
Summary: … of succession, and a certain possible arrangement for the future are topics discussed between Prince Agathon and Aedhwyn, as they share a dance at the Midwinter Ball.
RL Date: 02/03/2019
Related: Midwinter Ball and Royal Arrangements

featuring NPC Agathon de la Courcel

Ballroom — Royal Palace — City of Elua

An evening so highly anticipated can easily fail to meet expectations, and moreover, surpass them. Tonight at the Royal Palace, all efforts have been taken to make this quite the memorable occasion. Chains of silver have been suspended from the ceiling, holding other chains that are sporting numerous thin cones of polished glass in various sizes, creating the impression of icicle garlands bound to catch and reflect the light of candles and oil lamps. Large mirrors in gilded frames at the walls enhance the effect even further, whilst creating the illusion of an endless and ever repetitive space within a gilded realm.

Of course, there are such courtly insignia as the large tapestry with the swan on a field of blue, the coat of arms of House Courcel, governing the wall at the far side of the ballroom in all its majesty; the numerous attendants in Courcel livery standing at the ready to serve joie and other beverages, if requested; the obvious grandeur, of a ballroom that sports exquisite frescoes and paintings at the ceiling, where one can find among others a depiction of the late Queen Ysandre de la Courcel.

A pair of elegantly curved staircases leads up to a gallery, from where a few courtiers can be seen overlooking the spectacle unfolding below, of ladies and lords filtering into the hall, clad in expensive costumes and dresses that are complemented by matching masks of all shapes and kinds.

Earlier that night, the royal family had made their entrance to the Midwinter Ball, under the attention and applause of courtiers and other guests attending the feast held in honor of Longest Night.

The announcement had been made: "The sovereign ruler of Terre d'Ange. His Majesty. King Léopold Tavernier de la Courcel. Her Majesty. Queen Pénélope de la Courcel. Their Royal Highnesses. Prince Cléon. Prince Alexis. Prince Agathon. Princess Crysanthe. And Princess Demetria." Upon which they had arrived.A small procession of the royal family, led by King Léopold, adorned an a finest garb of yellow and gold, the stand up collar of his doublet shaped in the way of sun beams. He is a man in his early fifties, of that ripe d'Angeline handsomeness despite age and experience. His arm was held by the Queen walking at his side, she clad all in silver and light blue, an elaborate headpiece holding a crescent moon resting atop her dark hair, a woman of beauty, even if of a more earthly and Hellene sort. After them trailed the princes and princesses, attired in finest garments of silver and white, glittering, and each of them wearing headpieces or hats or even half masks adorned with silvery stars.

The hours have progressed a little, and so have the festivities. Prince Agathon had been sitting with his family on the dais, observing the dancing and the mingling so far. Of course, there had been the occasional conversation with this lady and that. But whenever the question came up, he had respectfully declined. Dark curls frame his features that are in part concealed by a half-mask of blue samite, embroidered with stars of silver.

Aedhwyn is among the revelers, watching the festivities and the people. While she is certainly more comfortable than she would have been when she first arrived in Terre d'Ange, she is still a bit nervous. There are those that have asked her to dance but each time she politely declined. After a bit she approaches the dias, to make her greetings and thank her hosts for the evening. She wears a Hellenic-style half masque that covers everything from her cheeks up. Her gown is backless, a small marque at the base of her spine just barely peeking at the edge of of the plunging V. The one at the base of her neck is hidden by her hair though the little warrior braids with golden accents just might give her away..

The king and queen notice Aedhwyn's approach, of course, and so does Agathon. The prince lifts his gaze and smiles, his hand lifting as he indicates the foreign Ambassador to his parents. "Lady Aedhwyn," he greets her. "I have already awaited your arrival. You look delightful. Have you been enjoying yourself so far?", he wonders as he moves to stand. His own attire is likewise splendid. Silvers and dark blues is apparent in his festive attire. He gestures for a servant to come over and offer them glasses of joie. "Joie to you.", Agathon says as he raises his glass to her.

Aedhwyn gives just the smallest bit of a pout as Agathon greets her, "I had hoped to surprise you and be a mystery for a little while but I am pleased you recognized even if a bit puzzled as to how you were able to do so." She takes the offered glass of joie, "Joie to you, your highness."

"I am sorry," Agathon replies, with a hint of regret and perhaps bad conscience. "Well, the woad on your back gives you away." It seems he has a keen perception. At this he takes a turn about her, only in time to arrive before her again and exchange that toast. "You promised me the first dance, and here I was, waiting for you to arrive." His dark eyes flit to a servant, a young man hovering nearby, and they exchange an ominous glance. "I wished to be informed as soon as a certain Ambassador of Alba entered." Perhaps less perceptive, but blessed with good informants among the staff. "Anyway…" He downs the glass and hands it off, to have both hands free to take her hands. "Will you excuse me for stealing away this Alban pearl for a moment? Mother? Father?" The request is uttered towards the king and queen, with the nonchalance and confidence of a prince of Terre d'Ange. To Aedhwyn he murmurs, "There shall be time enough later for you to speak with them anyway. For now, I will take you up on your promise and ask you to dance."

Aedhwyn can't help but blush a bit though she laughs softly, "I forget sometimes that people here do not tell their stories so openly. Perhaps one day I might share with you they mean." She takes a long sip of the joie, not quite downing it but making a solid dent in it before returning the glass to one of the servants. "I would be honoured to dance with you. I'd been saving my first for you." Her eyes widen as she realizes what she said and how it might be taken, the colour deepening on her features as she slides her gaze away from you in embarrassment.

"Is that so?" Agathon appears likewise thrilled at the perhaps unintended innuendo. His dark eyes seem to savour the blush even if most of her face is hidden away by the mask. His fingers lace with hers loosely as he leads her towards the space cleared in the middle of the hall, for dancing. "I would love to hear about the stories around these paintings and tattoos," he remarks to her lightly. "I shall look forward to you explaining them to me." The music has just come to a halt, and some of the dancers dissipate into the crowd, vacating their spots on the dancefloor. "I am also curious about this arrangement, that my parents are setting up with you. What can you tell me about it?", the prince asks, meeting her gaze through the slits in his starry half-mask.

Aedhwyn draws in a breath to try to calm her nerves and lessen the blush. Her smile is a shy one as Agathon takes her hand in his own. "Each tattoo, each woad marking tells a story, tells of who I am and my deeds though my mother grows quite cross with me for adding some simply because I find them beautiful." She moves to the dancefloor with him, her steps light. There is a smile up at him as she studies his features a moment. She keeps her words soft, meant not to be overheard. "The arrangement..would be….that is if we suit….a handfasting of a year and a day that we may choose to renew." She keeps to the bare minimum of details though clearly there is a bit more to it.

"It seems the culture of Alba is quite intriguing," Agathon allows, "I should seek to learn more about your country." His hands find hers, as the next dance commences. It is certainly a slower dance, more of majestic character. Perhaps the musicians spotted the prince on the dancefloor. "If we suit?", Agathon echoes with an impish smile, as they take the first turns about each other, palm of his raised hand touching against hers. "And how are we going to find out if we do? This handfasting you speak of, would happen in one or two years from now, is that correct?" He keeps his voice to a low murmur, easy for her to overhear his words while making it almost impossible for others. "It is an interesting custom, to have people match for such a clearly defined period of time. Why is that?"

Aedhwyn smiles at his interest in her culture. She moves with grace though she is not necessarily as practiced with d'Angeline dances as others. Still there is a natural grace to her. Her words are kept at those soft tones so as not to be overheard by others. "I can not imagine you would wish to be bound to me even for defined a period if we did not suit well. There must be….if a child…." It takes her a couple of starts to get her words out, "In Alba and Eire there are two kinds of what would be called marriage here. We call them handfastings as part of the ceremony involved involves our hands being bound together just as our fates will be. In one type it is for a year and a day and when the time has passed the couple is free to go their own direction with no ill will. Any child produced stays with the mother as part of her line." She pauses to add in, "Our inheritance is matrilineal, it is always through the mother's line title or property is inherited. The couple may choose to tie their fates together for another year and a day or they may choose to make a more permanent handfasting which lasts until the death of one of the couple. In some cases, the handfasting has additional conditions, it is not only for a year and a day but instead is automatically renewed for another period of a year and a day is a child has not yet been produced." She watches his eyes, trying to read his reactions even as her cheeks start to warm and burn. "In our case….if we suited….we would become betrothed once I am of age and then handfasted some time later until….until a child or a year and a day. If…if you did not wish to be bound to me after the initial year and a day and a child had been produced….it would be your right to leave."

The figures of the dance keep them in each other's orbit, as Agathon listens to Aedhwyn's explanation. "Ah, I see," he replies, shooting her a glance, mischief dancing in his eyes. "So it is about heirs, the heir that you will bear. This heir would inherit the title of leader of your clan, is that right?" His gaze moves in a graceful dip matching the ease of his steps. "I could very well imagine we could suit. But then again, we don't know each other yet." He smiles. "You are aware of d'Angeline views and culture? That we have a somewhat less restrained view on marriage and consortship and lovers to be had on the side? How do you feel about these things?"

Aedhwyn mms, nodding her head, "It is and is not. Only the eldest son would inherit, the eldest daughter would bear the next heir. A daughter brings a more lasting alliance." She nods her head once more, "I have learned quite a bit since my arrival about the customs and cultures here, more than my tutors or my father's stories could teach." She does another spin with him, enjoying the circling nature of the dance and those occasional touches of the hands. "Have you consort? Or perhaps someone that you might consider for such an honour?"

"Forgive me. This sounds awfully complicated," Agathon remarks with a chuckle. "But I trust, the gist of it remains the same. You need children, and it may be that I shall father them." It is a statement that has his smile dim a little. "So a daughter would be preferable? As she would be the one that bears the next heir, while a son would become a dead end of the line?" The topic shifts to d'Angeline customs, and the prince nods. "Spending time here will certainly show you much of our views. To answer your question: No, I haven't taken a consort yet. I'd be a bit young for that, as usually it takes years for such bonds to establish. Perhaps. One day. I do have lovers though.", Agathon admits with a smile, looking to Aedhwyn to gauge her reactions.

Aedhwyn mms, her head lowering a bit as his smile dims. "A son or daughter would be welcomed but I had wished for you to know the value of each. A son is more immediate influence, a daughter longer lasting but not as immediate unless she becomes advisor to her eldest brother." She looks back into his eyes, "I know of consorts but only from my lessons, I wasn't aware that you'd yet be a bit young. I am also not entirely sure how lovers and marriage work within your culture though given your Night Blooming Flowers, I have presumed that they are acceptable." She draws in a breath, steadying her nerves before speaking, "I would ask that while we would be bound to each other, measures were taken so there would be no possibilities of a child fathered to another and I would do the same." She blushes, "I mean make sure that there would be no question as to the paternity of the child."

"I see," Agathon says, his eyes rolling ever so faintly even as his smile remains. "Complicated. But I understand the implications. Each renewal would have to be re-negotiated, I suppose. I mean… my father would wish to be involved into that decision." Politics and all. "But all of this is still some time away," he twirls her, as they follow the steps of the dance. "And in regards to ensuring the paternity not being questioned, I understand. Perfectly. Restrictions you mention would pertain to the marriage, and to actions that would facilitate conception?" He smiles a faintly wicked smile. "But other actions not holding that risk would be permitted?"

Aedhwyn blinks, looking a bit confused for a moment, her youth showing. If she's taken part in d'Angeline pastimes, her knowledge may still be a bit limited. "Yes? Perhaps? My uncle's representative would likely be involved in some of those decisions." She bites her bottom lip, "Renewals would or could be renegotiated after a child was a produced. Before then, provided both of us are capable of…ah….producing an heir, it would automatically renew for another year and a day." She bites her bottom lip, "My parents choose to remain together, joined until their death."

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