(1311-09-24) Great Exhibition: Gotlandish Presentation
Summary: What it says in the title.
RL Date: Tue Sep 24, 2019
Related: Great Exhibition Plot
adeline andre armandine farah inesse shaffan 

NPC Leif Gunnarsson

Tournament Field — Eisandine Countryside

The wind sweeps long and low over a generally flat stretch of terrain, here. There are some signs that areas of the plain might have been built up to help flatten it— one corner in particular overlooks a steep downward hill. The plain has been trodden bare of grass in huge, haphazard patterns, giving it a patchy, threadbare look, but the patches of dusty ground are practical, useful for hemming in a spar or using as the start and end points of a footrace, and on any given day you might find some house or hired blade out here honing his or her skills. Sometimes larger war games are held out here, as well, where the Eisandean army or Marsilikos city guard can be put through its paces.

For structure, well. It's sparse. Perhaps a wooden plank has been set up on two stakes to serve as a bench where soldiers and blades may sit and rest. Perhaps a few haybales have been toted out to serve for archery practice. Perhaps someone has even staked up a flapping canopy to help keep the sun or the rain off of their heads, or their gear. But all in all the place is given to the dust and the clover and the odd sound of steel against steel.

Various tents have been set up to one side of the tournament field, half-open pavilions, each dedicated to one particular good, the Gotlanders wish to advertise as part of the Great Exhibition. Banners are billowing in a light breeze, and seats and tables have been set up beneath a larger pavilion, just in the vicinity to where the axe throwing is to take place later. And thus, bets can be taken while overlooking the contest from here, devoid of danger, as the throwers will aim at targets further away.

Drinks provided include mead and ale, and there are also certain cinnamon cookies, small baked balls of seasoned meat, thin flat pieces of bread of the crunchier sort, and also, as d'Angeline contribution, bowls with fresh grapes, apples and pears.

Jewelry made of amber is put on display in one pavilion, laid out on a table covered with a cloth of dark blue samite, necklaces, brooches, bracelets and earrings combining exquisite work of a silversmith with the earthy glowing hues of amber in its various forms. But there are also fine daggers and swords of Gotlandish design, incorporating the signature gem in their handles.

Another pavilion advertises honey and various products derived from it, such as mead in various potencies, along with a special honey brandy called 'Bear's Curse', but also honey scented soaps and candles.

The third pavilion shows a variety of Gotlandish couture, most notably fine clothes of a far simpler elegance than d'Angelines would be used to, a simplicity no less charming, as it incorporates ornamental embroidery on the sleeves and along the hemlines, leather belts with belt buckles made of brass of diverse designs, some showing animals of the forest, others special symbols like finely chiselled hammers and ravens.

Leif Gunnarsson can be found somewhere in the pavilion in the center, standing as he gives his staff a number of instructions in Gotlandish tongue. The acting ambassador is a man in his fifties, blonde and slightly greyish is his hair in places, framing a face that has been etched through experience and years. He wears a tunic of dark green below a vest of black leather, and dark green trousers complete his attire, all of fine making. His pale eyes may look a touch grave, but his smile emanates a hint of warmth in the unlikely combination with pride.

With all the recent events it was never a question for the Prince of Brabant to not attend the Gotlander Exhibition. Andre wanders around the stalls with a small retinue of Flatlandish merchants in tow. They are keen to strike some trade deals with the Gotlanders. Andre himself pokes around the brooches and bracelets on display, but a sudden dark thought crosses his face and he drops the pendant he's been holding as if he burnt his fingers. He nudges two of his companions further to the next pavilion, where they can partake in some mead tasting.

A young petite girl slips through the crowd closer to a table where she can claim her own glass of ale. "Excuse me," she whispers to some strangers as she passes by. "Please, forgive me," she asks to others when she is basically forced to gently touch them and push aside that Inesse could walk further. Her timit and quiet words are barely heard as her hesitant touches are barely felt. "If you could just let me… please… just a bit… oh… here…" She finally manages to reach the table but her fingers are just a second too late to touch the glass. Someone else snatches the last one right from under her nose. "Ahh…" She lets out a sigh and a disappointed smile curls her lips up. The Baphinol lady is out of luck today. Though, she was quite successful at preparing for the event. She has gathered her long black curls into a neat bun. Though, the maid has left one small curl to fall over the girl's face as if to give a bit of playfulness to her image. The bun itself has been decorated by the white blossoms which match her gown in color. The off-the-shoulder dress is modest and even classical in design, but its natural waist is embellished with ruched belt and beaded flowers, what offers some noble elegance to it.

Even Adeline can get lost in exhibitions such as these.

The tallish woman with the white hair is striking, if only because she wears a full suit of armor. And that scar on her face. She moves with the trained movements of someone used to such equipment; she's probably been at one or more fronts wielding the staff mace that she takes with her everywhere. A blue cape drapes from her pauldrons, with the crest of House Mereliot on the back, and her weapon remains held tightly as she moves through the crowd towards where the axe-throwing contest will be. She probably intends to sign up.

Can't look the way she does without entering some tournament.

Farah de Mereliot has arrived a few moments ago, on horseback. The vicomtesse may be recognizable as such, from the fine quality of her blue riding dress, skirts slitted at the front but only revealing a glimpse of leggings beneath. A cape of a darker blue color is worn above the long-sleeved gown, and her dark hair has been arranged in a manner that leaves it open in part. Dark are the eyes that scan the tournament field, and a smile appears on features of d'Angeline beauty, even if of the slightly duskier sort. While her horse, a fine white mare has been led off to the side, Farah now has a tour of the pavilions, lingering of course at the place where the jewelry is on display. Catching sight of the prince of Brabant, Farah inclines her head towards the young man, adding a courteous, "Lord André," in greeting.

Andre smiles when he recognizes the striking lady, once a stranger in this land like himself. "Mylady, what a pleasure to see you here.", he returns the greeting and takes Farah's hand to bring it up to his lips. "I have to admit I'm impressed by the Gotlanders' exhibition after all that had happened. I hope it will go well for them."

The ambassador of Carthage comes alone to enjoy the events prepared by the Gotlandish visitors of Marsilikos. This Prince is wearing a golden tailcoat featuring a long split swallowtail, cutaway front, an obsidian black precious natural stone, which serves as a button fastening at the waist, and black satin effect finish. It also has the Carthagian patterned design on the collars and cuffs. The color chosen for his coat not only announces his status and financial situation but also makes his slightly darker skin to stand out. He is obviously a very proud foreigner. However, keeping up to the fashion of the city of Marsilikos, Shaffan wears a black shirt under that fascinating coat of his. It has a diamond pattern on the right side of the chest for decoration. Elegant but not simple is appreciated by this young man. His long black pants also show off crisscrossed lacing down the sides of the legs. Black shoes with golden accents finish off his attire just perfectly. However, the most delicate accessory is a short cane held in his right hand. It's top is decorated by a golden ornamented ball. It seems that it's running off down the cane itself. The rippling golden lines entwine and form additional ornaments, probably, fitting to the Carthage as well. Very fast Shaffan's left hand finds a goblet filled with delicious mead. This southerner offers a few smiles to those who he has met already and a couple of polite nods to the strangers who decide to take a look at him. He raises a glass and sends a wink or two to some of the lovely ladies. Then he finds a spot to enjoy an upcoming Axe Throwing event and his mead.

Leif Gunnarsson has ventured over to where a young secretary of the delegation waits for people signing up for the contest. When the tall Mereliot of blonde hair approaches, the older Gotlander offers her a smile. "Signing up, hmm? I would have taken part myself, were it not that this old arm is increasingly losing its aim.", Leif says to Adeline. "Leif Gunnarsson. Sent here with the ambassador's delegation." His gaze clouds just a little, when he adds the latter part.

"The pleasure is all mine." Farah's courtesy is definitely d'Angeline, even if her speech is still graced with a slight Akkadian accent. "I am thirsty." She glances about, a bit at a loss. "And… yes. A tragedy. I mean… what happened to the poor Gotlandish ambassador."

"I feel a little guilty about that.", Andre admits quietly, then checks himself. This is not the time or place. "You should try some of the mead, Mylady, it's rather delightful." He gestures towards the stall where two big hairy Gotlanders are filling tiny cups with tasters. He looks like he is only too happy to follow her, but one of his companions collars him. "Your Highness, I believe it is time.", the elderly Flatlander remarks with a light smirk on his lips, pointing towards the secretary taking registrations. Clearly at some point Andre said something stupid about taking part and now can't wiggle out of it.

The duchesse of Eisande makes a rather low-key appearance, but she is here, as courtesy would demand, especially in the light of recent events. Armandine de Mereliot had exchanged a few words earlier with the acting ambassador, pleasantries as include congratulating on how well everything has been prepared to today's exhibition. Blue and golden flashes from where she has taken a seat at the grand pavilion, with a good view of the axe throwing field.

In response, Adeline inclines her head to Leif.

"Master Gunnarson." She offers the man a gauntlet-covered hand stiffly, suggesting that she isn't to the elegant graces of court life. "I am Adeline Mereliot, Vicomtesse de Cerdagne." Her tone is terse and clipped. "I suppose that there will be less competition for the rest of us, if you will not join us." Beat. "But I also suppose it will be to our loss to not have you participate." And then, there's an awkward break for a couple of seconds before the lady — really? — gives her identity to the secretary tallying the competitors.

And then, she asks: "There is a place to practice?"

"Practice?" Leif replies with a low rumble of a chuckle. "Well. You could walk into the field there and have a few goes at the target. At the horn's signal, however, the contest will commence. And we will announce the rules of the game." Because, that's what it is, after all.

The secretary's quill rushes over parchment as he notes down Adeline's name on the list of participants.

Farah's gaze brushes another foreign looking guest and she smiles, offers Shaffan a curtsey from afar. She may look a little Carthaginian — or Akkadian, from the complexion of her skin, but when she turns her attention towards André again, she speaks with the ease of a d'Angeline Vicomtesse. Whatever that means. "Guilty?", Farah wonders, raising her brows. "Why that? Oh. Are you considering…?" Following the look of André's retainer she smiles. "Axe throwing… It sounds so… barbarian, does it not?" As for mead, this is a suggestion she eagerly accepts. "I think I will have some of that mead, my lord."

"Didn't I just…", wonders Armandine de Mereliot after a young dark-haired lady in a flowery dress has rushed past her. "Ah. Nevermind." A benign smile settles on her features as she leans back in her seat, happy to accept a cup of mead offered by one of her attendants.

After some time of pondering and just looking around all those people who pass by, Inesse nods to herself quite determined. She starts moving to where the secretary may be found. The young lady waits in the line patiently. She offers a few shy smiles to the people who line behind her and in front of her. Though, finally, when her time comes, she leans closer to the secretary. "This… doesn't look very dangerous. It's a game, isn't it? Could I sign up?" She giggles and blushes. Afraid of the answer she might hear, Inesse lowers her gaze down where her fingers nibble on the fabric of a white gown.

Andre decides to ignore the question of his guilt. Bad timing and all that. "I'm all for learning more about foreign customs.", he explains instead and smiles a bit sheepishly. "I thought it would be fun. However I had no idea of the size of -some- of those Gotlanders." He casts a brief glance towards the pair handing out the mead and accepts two cups, one of which he offers Farah. "All the same, I cannot back out now or word would reach my parents and I would never be allowed home again." Hopefully he's jesting. "If you'd excuse me for a moment…" Cup of mead in hand he wanders over to get himself registered.

The secretary is in for some work. Writing down the names of both Inesse and André, he gestures over to the field, indicating the targets and the smaller throwing axes.

"It's a game, and it shouldn't be too hard for a lady such as you to lift the throwing axes. They are tiny compared to the battle axes, and only few would dare to toss these latter ones.", Leif Gunnarsson tells Inesse with a fatherly smile. A nod he offers to Andre, "Glad to see you compete, my lord."

"That's fine, Master Gunnarson."

Adeline inclines her head again to the man. "Thank you." And then, the Lady in Blue strides out towards the field purposefully, her cape rustling behind her.

If axe-throwing is barbaric, then it is not barbarous enough for the Vicomtesse de Cerdagne to eschew. Not that she seems the delicate type; anyone who wields a steel-ensconced two-handed cudgel is probably not going to flinch at the potential danger of hurling a bladed weapon at a target — or a person. To her credit, as a d'Angeline, Adeline will likely look graceful doing it. But it probably will not making the actual sport any less distasteful to the genteel.

Adeline makes it to a mark, and sets her weapon down on the ground by it. Her gauntlets are taken off before she also removes her cape. Then, she crouches to pick up one of the throwing axes, feeling out its weight in her hands as she rises to stand again.

Time for practice.

The moment a lovely foreigner who might have come from Akkadia is abandoned by her current companion, Shaffan decides to move closer to her. He is right on time to finish the cup of mead and set it on a table before reaching the lady. He leans on his fancy cane and bows his head just a little bit. "What a wonderful event, isn't it?" He asks and smiles broadly. "Let me guess… Akkadian?"

Inesse smiles broadly. "Perfect!" She offers a brief curtsy to lord Andre before rushing off to where the training axes may be found. Her delicate hand touches one of those axes and she carefully raises it up. The girl looks it over and chuckles. "I have no idea how to hold it or how to throw it. I hope I will not hurt anyone!" This is said more to herself as a confirmation that she can do it. "I wish my brother could see it." The Baphinol lady continues talking to herself while her other hand reaches for a second axe.

"Wait… you are?" Farah follows in André's wake, one hand holding her skirts, while her other is curled around a cup of mead. But it seems, she cannot keep up with André. Falling back a little behind him, she is already intercepted by the next gentleman. "My lord." She looks towards Shaffan, surprised. "I mean… Your highness." His guess makes her smile, even if a bit awkwardly. "Akkadian, from my father's side. I believe we've met at the opening feast. Farah de Mereliot. My husband is the Vicomte de Toulon."

The secretary looks at his list and then gives Leif Gunnarsson a look and a faint nod.

"Very well then." The Gotlandish ambassador raises his voice. "It is time for the first three taking part in the contest. I want to call forth…" He glances down, squinting at the parchment hastily thrust into his hand, before he continues, "Lady Adeline de Mereliot. Lady Inesse de Baphinol. Lord André van Westerlo."

"Oh, right! How could I forget!" Shaffan rolls his eyes. "Now I feel as if I owe you at least a few glasses of wine or this mead, if you are enjoying it! It's a bit too strong for me, I would say. Our drinks are a bit different in Carthage. I hope you will show up in our little festivities?" The man takes his cane to the left hand and changes his position of leaning. His eyes do not stay fully focused on Farah's and run over her body a few times as if he would be studying the design of her dress. "When do Akkadians present themselves?"

One of the Flatlandish merchants says something in their language and his companions burst out laughing while Andre's face assumes a nice red colour. He says something rude in Flatlandish to shut them up, then stalks over to join his fellow competitors, offering a stiff nod to Inesse and Adeline in greeting.

Lady Inesse de Baphinol steps forward a bit hesitantly. "Good luck!" She whispers to others and herself. The girl already carries one of the axes in her right hand. She seems to be squeezing it so tightly that her fingers start to get a reddish shade.

Three targets have been set up, and the competitors are guided towards their places. Three throwing axes each are provided.

"The rules are the following. There will be three rounds of three axes thrown each. Each round, the targets will be set further back to make it more difficult. The winner will win by points.", Leif Gunnarsson announces. "Get ready for the first round." And there is the call of a horn, and expectant silence settles on the spectators.

<FS3> Adeline rolls Reaction+Reaction: Success. (7 3 6 5 3 4 1 2)
<FS3> Adeline rolls Reaction+Reaction: Success. (1 2 6 6 8 2 5 1)
<FS3> Adeline rolls Reaction+Reaction: Great Success. (8 6 3 6 8 4 7 8)

<FS3> Andre rolls Ranged: Good Success. (2 4 6 2 5 7 7)
<FS3> Andre rolls Ranged: Failure. (1 2 2 2 3 1 4)
<FS3> Andre rolls Ranged: Good Success. (2 7 5 7 8 3 4)

With her name first, Adeline seems to think she needs to go first.

And she does, without hesitation. Although her armor restricts some of her movement, she is still able to throw with the fluidity and dexterity befitting her bloodline. It helps that she has the brawn to power her throws, each of which solidly hit the target: twice in the outer ring, and then finally close to its center.

In the end, though, she seems silently dissatisfied with her performance.

<FS3> Inesse rolls Reaction+Reaction: Success. (1 3 7 3 2 2 4 2)
<FS3> Inesse rolls Reaction+Reaction: Great Success. (7 4 7 4 6 8 7 5)
<FS3> Inesse rolls Reaction+Reaction: Success. (6 1 5 5 8 3 4 6)

"My cousin, Princess Mirzeta Shamabarsin, will host a horse race these days," Farah replies to Shaffan with a smile. "I will be there. For the Akkadian event, but also for the Carthaginian one… What am I to expect?"

Andre takes the axe which is surprisingly small and easer to handle than he thought. The first throw goes well but then he gets cocky and the axe promptly flies past the target. He inhales deeply, focuses again… and lands another decent hit.

"Lady Adeline: five points. Lord André: four points. Lady Inesse: five points.", comes the announcement from Leif Gunnarsson. "Set the targets further back to the first mark." At which members of the Gotlandish delegation hurry to finish the preparations for the second round.

It takes ages for Inesse to start. She looks over the axe. She raises her hand up and it seems she is about to throw the axe and then she lowers her hand down. Then she tries to make sure she is holding it right even if she has no idea how the right way looks like. Obviously, the girl goes last and others have to arm in patience with her. But at the end, she manages to throw her first axe. Then after a bit longer consideration, she does throw the second and third axes. But of course, there is pause, hesitation and some counting between these throws as well. Once that is done, she looks at Andre and Adeline. "How are we…" But the host announces the results what answers Inesse's questions.

There's more snickering from the Flatlandish delegation and Andre lifts his axe into their general direction, before he shakes his head and tries to focus on the next round.

The horn sounds for a second time, once the targets are in place. The axes have been removed from each target and brought back to the contestants, so that they cna throw them anew.

"Oh, riding! Of course, how it could be different. I did hear about your passion for horses. I can not say that I share the same, but I will be most curious to see how participants will succeed," Shaffan answers. While he is watching the Axe Throwing competition, the man comes closer to Farah and whispers. "I can promise dancing. I can also promise some passion and delightful game. However, the prizes will be most intriguing. There will be two winners and one will win love potion while the other will win truth potion. Just don't tell anyone."

Armandine watches the contest with delight sparkling in her grey-blue eyes. Seeing Adeline's tosses, she applauds for House Mereliot.

<FS3> Andre rolls Ranged-2: Failure. (1 1 5 3 2)
<FS3> Andre rolls Ranged-2: Success. (3 2 8 5 3)
<FS3> Andre rolls Ranged-2: Failure. (3 6 6 4 3)

<FS3> Adeline rolls Reaction+Reaction-2: Good Success. (5 8 4 4 8 8)
<FS3> Adeline rolls Reaction+Reaction-2: Good Success. (6 7 7 6 7 2)
<FS3> Adeline rolls Reaction+Reaction-2: Good Success. (8 2 6 3 8 7)

<FS3> Inesse rolls Reaction+Reaction-2: Good Success. (5 8 3 8 7 6)
<FS3> Inesse rolls Reaction+Reaction-2: Failure. (5 1 4 2 4 5)
<FS3> Inesse rolls Reaction+Reaction-2: Success. (8 2 1 6 3 5)

Andre spends 1 luck points on To be less crap.

The White Lady waits patiently while the targets are moved.

And then she picks up an axe, and tosses it. And again. And again. Each throw is unerringly like the first, and each hit the inner ring of her target. Each weapon is aimed and then hurled with force. Adeline's face is a mask of determination, and, in the end, she lets out her breath almost explosively. But she still does not look satisfied.

It might just be a trick of the light.

This time lady Baphinol throws those axes a bit faster. However, she seems to be mildly distracted by a very successful and a bit more unsuccessful performance of her competitors. And so she also fails throwing one of the axes way too close to where they are standing instead of reaching the target.

Inesse spends 1 luck points on For throwing axe.

"Lady Adeline leads now at eleven points. Lord André has five points. Lady Inesse has eight points.", Leif Gunnarsson summarizes the current ranking of the contest. "Set the targets further back to the second mark." At which members of the Gotlandish delegation hurry to finish the preparations for the third round.

The Prince of Brabant seems seriously discombobulated by the immature giggling and Flatlandish commentary of his companions and two axes fly past the target completely while one at least hits an outer ring.

<FS3> Adeline rolls Reaction+Reaction-4: Success. (5 5 7 1)
<FS3> Adeline rolls Reaction+Reaction-4: Failure. (2 5 2 4)
Adeline spends 1 luck points on Final throw.
<FS3> Adeline rolls Reaction+Reaction+1: Success. (5 7 3 5 1 5 1 1 4)

<FS3> Andre rolls Ranged-4: Failure. (2 4 2)
<FS3> Andre rolls Ranged-4: Success. (2 4 8)
<FS3> Andre rolls Ranged+1: Good Success. (3 8 2 6 4 4 7 2)

<FS3> Inesse rolls Reaction+Reaction+1: Good Success. (4 4 2 3 8 1 1 7 3)
<FS3> Inesse rolls Reaction+Reaction-4: Failure. (1 1 1 3)
<FS3> Inesse rolls Reaction+Reaction-4: Success. (5 4 3 7)

Once the targets are moved, Adeline begins again.

The first axe hits the outer ring; the second one sails wide high. The Mereliot Lady frowns and mutters something indelicate to herself before she pulls up the final axe, and hurls it forcefully at the target. Another hit on the outer ring, and, finally, the mail-wearing Vicomtesse looks satisfied with her performance.

She even grunts to herself in approval.

The first axe misses completely, but then Andre hits his stride once more and the target, once even the inner ring.

Third time Inesse seems to be even more comfortable throwing those axes. She fixes up the skirt of her dress that it wouldn't get in a way when a lady steps with one of her feet forward to better hold the ground. And then she throws, and it was her best try so far. A huge smile curls her lips up. However, a second axe misses the target while the third barely hits it. She shrugs, "It was fun! Congratulations!" A comment said to her competitors. Then Inesse turns around and hurries off to hide in the crowd.

A cheer goes through the crowd, even if it is a more distinguished clientele watching the contest. Leif Gunnarsson waits for a moment, before he announces the scores for this first part of the contest: "Lady Adeline takes the win for this round, scoring thirteen points in all. Followed by Lady Inesse at eleven points. And Lord André at eight points." There is applause, and the Gotlander inclines his head to the three of them. "Well done. Your fine effort is appreciated and will be a mark others yet have to beat in the following contests."

"Congratulations, Mylady.", Andre inclines his head to Inesse first and then to Adeline, "Good luck with the next round." Then the prince wanders off as well to lick his wounds somewhere.

Farah joins in on the applause. Shaffan had managed to gain a faintly intrigued look from this Mereliot. "I shall see that I won't miss it then.", she offers, leaving Shaffan then as the contest has found its first winner. "Well done, my lord," she says to André. "Your retinue seemed quite amused with your efforts."

"And you as well."

Adeline returns Andre's nod with one of her own. She then takes the next minute or so to collect her gear and put it back on; her cape is clipped back to her pauldrons and her gauntlets slipped on her hands. Finally, her staff mace. And, victorious for the moment, the Mereliot Vicomtesse makes her way towards the Duchess of Eisande, that she may pause before her, and bow as gracefully as possible in her armor.

"Your Grace."

"My lady."

Armandine inclines her head. "It was a pleasure to watch you with the throwing axes. I am not too greatly surprised that you've won. But it is still nice to see a member of our House put up a good showing." A glance she spares the armor of her relative, before Armandine offers to Adeline, "Would you sit with me for a moment?"

"At your direction, your Grace."

Adeline's is a painful, military courtesy. She slowly lets herself down to sit next to Armandine, but it is with care; sitting down too quickly means risking crushing a chair. She may not actually be too heavy, but the metal on her probably doubles her weight. And that's enough to put any furniture at risk. Seated, she lets out a sigh.

"What does your Grace wish to discuss?"

"I'm not sure how much of the recent occurrences have come to your attention," Armandine remarks towards Adeline, after giving the chair an assessing look. But this is good furniture provided by House Mereliot, so it will certainly be up for the challenge. "We've had a trial, a banishment and a very displeased Vicomtesse de Gueret. Last but not least, a guest, the Lady Elin Asbjornsdottir was found dead. A dispute between Gotlanders, or so it seems. It is quite the feat to follow up such regrettable developments with a feast as this, and I admire Master Leif Gunnarsson for the discipline to go through with this."

If there is subtext in the comments, Adeline may have missed it.

To be fair, women like her are more suited for the battlefield. Or maybe an infirmary. Intelligence on the Vicomtesse is sparse, but bleak, of course: she's a relative unknown to Marsilikos, but busy in trying to rekindle the fire that her mother, Justine, could rouse in the social scene. Her white-haired daughter is nothing like her, and, perhaps, blessedly so; too many hot-tempered, fiery women make for a tempestuous court.

"I had heard rumors," Adeline admits.

Beat. "I know not if your Grace is investigating the matter. I have not heard so. But if I may be of service to your Grace, then I shall do so." Like a good Mereliot vassal, of course. And someone who carries around a large stick everywhere she goes. "If there is otherwise some way I may serve or assist — "

She leaves the thought there.

A soft sigh leaves Armandine's lips. "Too many investigations have already been underway earlier, for the trial of Kalisha Knutsdottir. It was she that I had to banish. A very young, very confused creature. I don't think she was entirely to blame for the incident, that had her engage in a swordfight with Lady Philomène, but… It seemed like the best solution, to send her away on a ship to Caerdicca Unitas, where she was initially headed anyway." She gestures for a servant as she needs a refill of her goblet. "As for Lady Elin's death, it happened out here on the tourney field. At night. Her bodyguard returned, heavily injured, and I take it from what Master Leif has told me, that it was a Gotlander. He has assured me, that there is no need to investigate. And so I am caught between curiosity and the courtesy of a host, not really decided on how I will act. Diplomacy would require me to heed the wish of Master Gunnarsson, would it not?"

"It may."

Adeline looks over the tournament field for a few moments, as the Duchess enjoys her wine. She licks her lower lip momentarily. "One cannot help but wonder, however, and questions tend to fester rather than resolve." Beat. "I suppose it would not hurt to ask the Lady Elin's bodyguard what he can recall of the encounter, if he can recall or if he is available." She makes a vague gesture with her left hand. "I am a surgeon. I may be allowed to have a look at him, and to make a polite inquiry."

"I will then return what information I can discover."

Armandine inclines her head to Adeline's train of thought. "He was severely injured himself, and he was taken to the infirmary. By now, he may already be close to have fully recovered. His name is Einar, and he speaks our tongue.

The duchesse allows herself a vague smile. "Any efforts on your part will be greatly appreciated, even if I won't go as far as request you to neglect your other duties."

"Surgeons are incorrigible gossips and rumormongers," says Adeline sagely.

And that's all she has to say on that. "As for any other matters of state, your Grace — " She shrugs. " — I apologize if I am largely ignorant of them. For the moment, I am but attempting to learn all that I can." Beat. "And, of course, attending events to ensure that our House is well-represented." Which is important! Participation ribbons aren't always awarded, but attendance is usually noted.

"If there is anything else I can assist with — ?"

"You are a great asset to our House," Armandine notes gently. "And you've represented the Mereliot family well today." She reclines once again in her seat and shakes her head lightly to the latter question — reply and potential dismissal, as there are already others waiting to speak with the duchesse.

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