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Thread: News From Across the Sea [11/1, Afternoon, Tatianna & Jacquelyn, open]

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    Member Jacquelyn's Avatar  
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    News From Across the Sea [11/1, Afternoon, Tatianna & Jacquelyn, open]

    What an odd day it was shaping up to be. Mail had come from Tuneric, bearing with it the usual updates on trade and suchlike, but also word from Jacquelyn's sister-in-law, Nataliah. It was good to hear from her, as the last letter they'd had was the one which Tatianna had carried home with her which had explained the tragedy that had sent her home early. But alongside well wishes had come heavy news and an equally heavy request. Even having read the letter herself she wasn't sure how to feel about it, and her husband had given it to her to bring to his sister without giving away how he felt about it, either.

    The place it was most likely to find Tatianna this time of the afternoon was the library, and it was there that the queen went to find her. Pushing the door open, she was glad to see the young woman in her usual spot, looking for all the world like a golden ray of sunshine amongst the muted shades of the room. She had almost expected her to not be there, considering Tatianna and the king were to leave in a couple days on a tour of the country. Jacquelyn crossed to her, coming quite near before she spoke to preserve the quiet of the surroundings.

    "Do you mind if I interrupt you? There's been a letter from your sister, and Lochlan has sent it along for you to read."

    Settling beside the young princess, Jacquelyn pulled out the letter and handed it to her, undeniably curious as to what her reaction would be.

    -----

    @Tatianna Farrand-Calhoun (I'm so sorry this post took so long!!)

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    House Farrand-Calhoun Tatianna Farrand-Calhoun's Avatar  
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    She must have read the same sentence at least a hundred times.

    Tatianna sighed, lifting her eyes from her book and gazing out of the window beside which she sat. She had thought that becoming engrossed in one of her favorite tales would dispel a bit of her nervousness. In only a few short days, she would be embarking on a tour of Balfour with Lochlan and excitement warred with trepidation within her soul. The young princess longed for adventure and to see more of the world, but she wasn't certain that she was ready to act in her official capacity as a member of the Balfour royal family.

    It wasn't as if she had insurmountable responsibilities. All she really had to do was be gracious and charming. But what if she failed? There would undoubtedly be numerous balls and banquets given in their honor, and Tianna had never been comfortable in large social gatherings. That would, however, have to change now. She both looked forward to the challenge and dreaded it at the same time.

    She sighed again, and returned to her reading. The sunlight bathing her in a golden glow was comforting, as was the familiar surroundings of the library. Unfortunately, it was still impossible to concentrate and the words seemed to swim upon the page. The increasing cadence of footsteps distracted her and she turned her head toward the door, smiling softly as she saw her sister-in-law Jacquelyn approaching her.

    “No, of course not,” she replied, closing her book and setting it on the table in front of the window. Her blue eyes widened when Jacquelyn informed her that Lochlan had received a letter from Nataliah. “I hope all is well,” she said, taking the paper and unfolding it. Tatianna didn't even realize that Jacquelyn had sat beside her, so focused was she on her sister's words. She had absolutely no trouble concentrating now.

    There was both good news and bad news. Tuneric was recovering from the plague, but the injuries that Langston had afflicted on the king were not healing well and he was abdicating his throne. How dreadful that must be for him, and for her beloved sister, who was pregnant with her first child. Her heart fell to the pit of her stomach, but as she continued to read, a spark of hope flared to life within her soul. Nataliah wanted to return to Balfour, so that she and Cailen could start a new life for themselves.

    A little smile graced her fair features as she came to the end of the letter. Oh, how she longed to see her sister again! No one understood her quite as well as Nataliah, and she would feel so much better if she were here. And she would get to see her little niece or nephew as soon as it was born.

    If Lochan granted Nataliah's request. Tatianna didn't even pretend to understand the political implications of the situation, and she knew that her brother had to consider the good of the kingdom in every decision he made. Looking over at Jacquelyn, she handed the letter back to her. “Lochlan will let them live here, won't he?” she asked, her teeth nervously worrying her lower lip. Ever cautious, the young princess was afraid to get her hopes up too high until she learned more.
    Last edited by Tatianna Farrand-Calhoun; 10-07-2016 at 10:37 AM.

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    Member Jacquelyn's Avatar  
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    Jacquelyn watched as the expressions moved across Tatianna's face: focus, sympathy, cautious hope. She could very nearly tell exactly where the girl was reading just by how her face shifted. The letter was certainly a journey, and it was hard to come away from it with one solid feeling. As tempting as it would be to just be happy that Nataliah was safer and that she might be coming home, it was impossible to divorce from that how hard this whole thing must be for her. Jacquelyn wasn't a woman who had been spared from tragedy and difficulty, but she struggled to relate.

    "Lochlan will let them live here, won't he?"

    Laying the letter on the table and folding her hands over it, Jacquelyn offered a hopeful smile. "Your brother has never been good at denying Nat much of anything...I can't see him leaving her high and dry when she needs him." There had been a time, long ago, when Jacquelyn had been jealous of the relationship Lochlan and Nataliah shared. They'd been so close, nearly of the same mind, she'd felt like she could never compete, especially once Luther had stepped in and claimed her for his own. Now she felt silly looking back on it, but it gave her confidence to think that her husband wouldn't say no to his sister.

    "I can't help but be excited, even though I feel like I shouldn't be. It's not under pleasant circumstances, but I'll be glad to have her back, especially knowing they'll be here when they become parents for the first time."

    ----
    @Tatianna Farrand-Calhoun

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    House Farrand-Calhoun Tatianna Farrand-Calhoun's Avatar  
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    "Your brother has never been good at denying Nat much of anything...I can't see him leaving her high and dry when she needs him."

    The breath Tatianna had not even known she was holding whooshed out of her. It was true that Lochlan and Nataliah had always been close, but this was as much of a political situation as it was a family matter. A king's obligations to his country always came first, and if he thought that granting sanctuary to a former monarch would put Balfour at risk, he would not be able to allow Nataliah to come home no matter how much he wanted to.

    As Jacquelyn seemed optimistic, the young princess assumed that she and Lochlan had already talked it over and her beloved sister would, indeed, be returning home. That little spark of hope in her soul blossomed brighter and her smile broadened. “I'm excited too. Once they arrive, they will be surrounded by family and they will be able to start healing. A fresh start is exactly what they need.”

    Tatianna settled back against the cushions. “I think they will adjust to their new lives much easier than I have adjusted to mine,” Her smile faded slightly. “Sometimes I think that I will wake up in my bed in the temple and that this will have been only a dream.” Nataliah was the only one who could truly understand how she felt and she looked forward to confiding in her again.

    She pulled her mind back to happier thoughts. “May I help you plan for their return?” she asked her sister-in-law.

    @Jacquelyn

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    "I think you're right," Jacquelyn agreed. "It will do them a world of good to be able to leave the past behind them and begin anew, with all the support we can give them." She truly believed her words, although she knew it wasn't going to be as easy as that. Cailen's ailments didn't sound like they were purely physical, and the blow of having to abdicate and leave behind his homeland and his family could not be having a small impact on his well-being. Nataliah might have the comfort of coming home, but Cailen's battles would be somewhat similar to Tatianna's; he'd need to get used to a new place, new people, a new way of life that he'd only seen glimpses of for himself. She was sure Nataliah would be telling him as much as she could on the trip over, but living it would be an entirely different thing.

    Reaching out, the queen took her sister-in-law's hand and squeezed it gently. She felt some measure of guilt that she hadn't been able to help the girl's adjustment more, but she couldn't relate to her mental state at all, so her assistance had primarily been in trying to make sure she had everything she needed and answering what questions she could.

    "I would love your help," Jacquelyn said warmly. "We'll have to wait until your brother makes his final decisions before we set anything into motion, but I'd like to welcome them home in as grand a fashion as we can get away with." With Cailen being unwell, she wasn't sure a major party was in order, but there needed to be a feast in the very least. "It will be good to have something pleasant to plan for, and to bring some life back into the castle."

    ----
    @Tatianna Farrand-Calhoun

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    House Farrand-Calhoun Tatianna Farrand-Calhoun's Avatar  
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    Nataliah had helped Tatianna immensely when she had been coming to terms with her new life as a princess of Balfour. It had been … and still was … difficult to believe that she was not going to die young, sacrificed for the good of her country. Her whole life lay ahead of her now, and even after over a year, the notion was strange, exciting, and frightening, all at the same time. Very soon she would set out on her first adventure and finally get to see the entire kingdom that her family ruled. Eventually, she would marry and have children. All these things had one been impossible and she had never even dreamed of them.

    Now she would have the opportunity to return the favor and be of assistance to her sister and brother-in-law. Cailen would have a harder time of it, going from being the king of his homeland to a stranger in a strange land. Maybe her own experiences could help him adapt to his new reality. It was not going to be easy, and he also had his frail health to deal with. But here he would be able to heal, away from the stress he had left behind.

    Tiana smiled when Jacquelyn squeezed her hand in sympathy for what she had endured. She was lucky to have such a sweet and compassionate sister-in-law, who had made time for her despite her duties as Queen. Without such a loving family, she doubted she would have survived with her sanity intact.

    “Yes!” Her blue eyes sparkled with anticipation and she squeezed Jacquelyn’s hand in return. “We should welcome them with celebrations as soon as they leave the ship and escort them home in style. Then we can discuss what else to do. They may prefer a simple family gathering over a magnificent ball. Or maybe they want to jump right back into the swing of things.”

    Her expression turned thoughtful. “I think its very brave of Cailen to come here when his brother-in-law was responsible for his injuries.”


    @Jacquelyn

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    Seeing the delight in Tatianna's eyes brought more warmth to Jacquelyn's face. Not only did she think Nataliah returning would be good for her and her husband, but there was no doubt that it would benefit Tatianna as well. It would mean something to focus on and work toward, and then once they were finally home, she would have the only person who could truly understand what she'd been through back. The Shelltens coming to live in Balfour meant an infusion of life would be delivered to Moorford, and it was hard to see a downside for the Farrand-Calhouns.

    "They'll be arriving into Fort Chesbrook Springs, just as you did," she said, not having put much thought into the matter until now. "Will you be visiting there on your tour with Lochlan? Perhaps you and he could discuss the matter with Lord Hutchinson then." If she was remembering correctly, they'd be there for a few days for the wedding between Lord Tarran and Evangeline Baptiste; it wasn't necessarily the mos ideal time to bring up another event, but a royal welcome wasn't something that happened every day.

    "And while you're gone I can work on things here. At very least we must have a banquet. After all that traveling I can think of nothing better than being able to sit down with family and enjoy a good meal." And that applied not only to Nataliah and Cailen, but also to Tatianna and Lochlan. After the tour they'd be tired, and Jacquelyn wanted their homecoming to be warm and comforting.

    -----
    @Tatianna Farrand-Calhoun

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    House Farrand-Calhoun Tatianna Farrand-Calhoun's Avatar  
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    Jacquelyn said nothing to her comment about Cailen's bravery. Perhaps Tatianna should not have brought up that recent blight on their family name. There were some things that should never be spoken about and perhaps Langston's unexpected act of betrayal was one of them. Or maybe it was just too soon.

    Yet now they had the chance to right that horrible wrong, by giving the former king a new home and a new life where he and Nataliah could raise their family in peace and happiness. Idly, Tiana wondered if Lochlan would give their brother-in-law an important position at court when he was healed, for she was absolutely certain that he would recover completely without so many responsibilities and away from the dreadful memories that had probably plagued him in Hebron.

    In her excitement at the wonderful news, she had almost forgotten about the tour that she had been worrying about only moments before Jacquelyn had joined her. Her anxiety came rushing back in full force and her smile faded a bit. “Yes, we'll be there for Evangeline's wedding, which I think falls close to the end of our journey. I don't know our exact itinerary. You will have to ask Lochlan about that.” She would just follow where he led and hope that she didn't embarrass herself.

    The wedding of the woman who had nursed her back to health after she had been poisoned so she could not be sacrificed was the one part of the trip Tatianna was looking forward to. Evangeline had become her friend and she wanted to be there on her special day. There was another reason for her anticipation but she refused to acknowledge it, at least for now.

    “A banquet sounds splendid!” Her smile returned as she imagined her entire family gathered around the table together, catching up on everything that had happened since they had seen each other last. If the tour went well, she would have some interesting stories to regale them with, instead of just listening as she usually did. Her life had been so sheltered that there was never much to tell.

    Her golden brows suddenly furrowed. “What if they arrive before Lochlan and I return? I would think they would want to stay for the wedding too, but if Cailen isn't feeling up to it, we may miss them.”

    @Jacquelyn
    Last edited by Tatianna Farrand-Calhoun; 07-03-2017 at 02:31 PM.

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    Although Jacquelyn noticed the shift in Tatianna's expression, she didn't bring any attention to it. While she disliked the idea that she was being made to go on a trip that made her unhappy, the Queen was of the mind that it would be a very good experience for her in the end. As the youngest Farrand-Calhoun, she had been locked away for so long that she only got to experience the world through the stories of those who came to Silesia from other parts of the country, and from the visits from Nataliah. Now, though, she was a fully-fledged member of the royal family, and as a Princess, it was vital for her to know her people and her country. She needed to see and be seen, to become acquainted with the high houses and their histories in a real sense, rather than from books or second-hand stories. And, although it was hardly a goal that was spoken about, Jacquelyn firmly believed that Tatianna and Lochlan needed this time together to get to know one another, as well. Their family had been so thoroughly shaken that they all needed to build strong bonds on which to build their future.

    "I believe you're right," the queen greed, and smiled a little. "I've already made your brother give me a full travel plan, so that I can know at any moment where you are." It might've sounded a little too controlling, but after the chaos they'd just weathered, Jacquelyn had been uncompromising in her request. If contact between she and her husband fell silent while the tour was on, she would need to know where they'd been and where they'd been going, and she wasn't going to risk not having that information. Although, there was another, more domestic reason, as well. "That way I can tell Rylan all about where his father and auntie are, every evening when I put him to bed."

    Jacquelyn had been ready to elaborate on her banquet ideas when trouble fell over Tatianna's expression once more. She couldn't rightly recall the dates of the tour, nor could she fully anticipate when Nataliah and her husband would be most likely to arrive, but she wasn't overly worried. "We could always send a letter to Lord Hutchinson and ask that he host them until you and Lochlan arrive. It wouldn't hurt Nataliah and Cailen to have a bit of a rest after spending two weeks on a ship in their conditions. And we could include a letter to them, explaining everything." It was, of course, possible that circumstances could be such that getting Cailen to a stable location as quickly as possible might be more beneficial than the rest he'd get if he waited, but since Lady Baptiste was now in Fort Chesbrook, she could help them make that decision then.

    "Wouldn't it be lovely if you could all end up traveling back home together?" It wasn't a wholly likely scenario, considering all the unknowns, but it was nice to speculate about. "That would make the banquet extra special. You and Lochlan would probably be ready for a meal cooked by familiar hands, and we could spoil Nataliah with dishes she probably hasn't had since she moved to Tuneric."

    ----
    @Tatianna Farrand-Calhoun

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    House Farrand-Calhoun Tatianna Farrand-Calhoun's Avatar  
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    Tatianna's feelings about the upcoming tour of Balfour were conflicting. She looked forward to seeing the cities but dreaded meeting their rulers. What if she disappointed them when she wanted to impress them? Because of her upbringing, she would never be a traditional princess. Her childhood had molded her into the young woman she had become, and would influence her all of her life. She was, in a way, unique … the only youngest daughter to avoid being sacrificed in the history of Balfour. People would be curious about her and she wasn't comfortable being the center of attention.

    Hopefully, there would be time to explore her surroundings and each stop wouldn't be constantly full of balls, banquets, and official meetings. She wanted to ride through the countryside, shop at the markets, and sample the local food. Tatianna had not yet told Lochlan of these desires, but if she was brave enough to broach the subject, maybe he would arrange for a lady or daughter of the ruling house to show her around. Finding the courage to approach him was the hard part. It was strange how little she knew of her own brother. Maybe they would grow closer during the course of the tour.

    She supposed she could ask Jacquelyn to convey her wishes to Lochlan, but she couldn't keep relying on others for the rest of her life. No, she had to make the request herself. It would be her first step toward true independence.

    It didn't really surprise her that her sister-in-law wanted to keep track of where they were at any given time. Something might come up that she needed advice on, or an unexpected situation could need Lochlan's attention. Rylan was too young to understand what was going on. Tatianna thought that Jacquelyn had mentioned telling him stories so as not to upset her by stating that things may not go well. She was grateful to the queen for protecting her, but that didn't stop images of myriad unfortunate scenarios from careening through her mind.

    “Oh would you?” she asked when Jacquelyn offered to write a letter to Lord Hutchinson asking him to keep Nataliah and Cailen at Fort Chesbrook Springs until she and Lochlan arrived. “Perhaps I could write to Nataliah myself and ask her to stay? Or you could include my letter with yours? I think Lady Evangeline would be pleased if we were both at her wedding.”

    Her fear was gone now, replaced by a joyful anticipation. “Yes, it would be wonderful to travel back home together. Lochlan and Cailen probably have much to discuss and Nataliah and I never run out of things to talk about. By the time we're back, we'll all be ready for the comforts of home and a banquet will be the perfect way to celebrate us all being together again.”

    @Jacquelyn

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    There were times, or so the Queen thought, that she could catch sight of unseen horrors running through her sister-in-law's mind. Perhaps she was imagining them; trauma leading up to Lochlan's ascension to the throne aside, she had lived in a toxic, abusive situation long enough that her senses for picking up anxiety and anger were heightened, but they could also be over-reactive. But sometimes it seemed as though benign things - her mentioning that she'd be telling Rylan stories about where his father was - would look to send the girl's thoughts to darker corners. Jacquelyn felt for her, but she lacked the confidence to ever ask and see if her inklings had any basis in reality. Instead she sought to support Tatianna in the ways she could, and not draw attention to anything she might not want to discuss with just anyone. She did, however, intend on mentioning it to Nataliah when she was home. If there was anyone who was close enough to Tatianna to talk of such things, it was Nataliah.

    The sunshine was soon back in Tatianna's face, though, and Jacquelyn's lit up with a smile as she nodded. "I will as soon as your brother sends his reply to Nataliah." Not that she expected him to tell Nat no, but it didn't do to get ahead of oneself. "I'm sure Nataliah would love to arrive to a letter waiting from you. We'll send them together, and I'll include a note in mine to ask the Hutchinsons to make sure she gets it quickly." She was reminded that she also needed to send a letter of congratulations to the new couple, since she wouldn't be at the wedding herself. It wasn't strictly necessary, as there as enough of a royal presence and, by default, Lochlan spoke for all of them, but it was a nice personal touch that she felt important to make. After so long in isolation, and so much lost, Jacquelyn felt motivated to do what she could in her own ways to bring the people of the country back together, and maintain those relationships and alliances. Their country had split before, and it would take constant effort to keep it from happening again.

    "With those two, the journey home certainly sounds like it will be enjoyable." Jacquelyn smiled warmly, glad to see the excitement in Tatianna's expression. "I imagine you'll have to move slower than you would if it were just you and Lochlan, but when you arrive you'll be greeted with good food and the warmth of a familiar hearth. Perhaps we'll save any grander celebrations until after Nataliah and Cailen are rested and a little more recovered. Then we can figure out how we want to celebrate a princess's homecoming with our people."

    -----
    @Tatianna Farrand-Calhoun

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    Tatianna tried to keep her thoughts positive, but she could not always stop them from delving into darker realms. She had been sheltered from the cruelties of life in the temple and had grown up with a sense of safety, despite her eventual fate. Now she had been exposed to the reality of a harsh world and was no longer as naïve as she had once been.

    Even though she had not been able to watch while Luther was beheaded, she had heard the sickening sound of sword cleaving into flesh. When she had opened her eyes, she had seen the blood pouring from his neck. Her stomach had heaved and her vision had blurred. For a few frightening moments, she had been afraid that she would throw up or faint or both. Her brother's sacrifice had been neither noble nor appealing, and she was glad she had been spared that fate.

    Sometimes she had nightmares where his severed head floated in the air taunting her that it should have been her in his place, and others where she was being prepared to sacrifice herself. Tatianna would wake up screaming and covered in sweat, but no one but her handmaidens were aware of her nighttime torments. Lochlan and Jacquelyn had so many responsibilities and she didn't want to worry them with her petty problems, but she would definitely tell Nataliah of her fears now that she was coming home

    It was easier to be cheerful during the day, and she tried to keep her mind focused on pleasant things. Now she had a reunion with her sister to look forward to during the tour she dreaded, and suddenly it didn't seem so frightening anymore. “I'll write a letter to Nataliah tonight and give it to you tomorrow morning.” She grinned happily, nearly certain that Lochlan would agree to Nataliah's request. If he didn't, then she would refuse to travel with him until he relented. The princess was not very bold, but she could be quite determined when she was set on a certain course of action.

    It sounded to Tatianna as if Jacquelyn wished that she was included in the return journey as well. Unfortunately, as Queen, she must remain in charge until her husband returned. “I don't mind if we have to travel at a slower pace. I can let you know our progress so that you will know when to expect us. I'd like to help plan the banquet before I leave, and maybe after Nataliah and Cailen are recovered, we can have a festival for everyone in Balfour! That would be splendid, wouldn't it?”


    @Jacquelyn

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    Jacquelyn was pleased to see that Tatianna had something to look forward to, and she nodded in confirmation. "I'll press Lochlan later for an answer on what he's going to do about Nataliah. I don't mean whether he's going to let her come, because I can't imagine him telling her no, but where they're ultimately going to end up. There are plenty of holdings now without any sort of lordship...but there's also lots of room in the castle. We've had most of it shut off for so long, it would be nice to have it lively again with the sounds of families and people." And, with Rylan and Nataliah's baby going to be so close in age, it would be delightful for them to be able to grow up together. She had gotten slightly off track from where she'd meant to go, though, and she shook her head lightly and returned to her original point. "But once I know what he's going to say, I'll get the letter to Lord Hutchinson written up, and we can send them out right away. I want to make sure they get there with plenty of time, no matter what."

    "I'd be pleased to hear of your progress as you go," Jacquelyn said with a smile. "It would be very helpful in having things ready for you when you arrive." There would be a lot to do, and only some of it could be done ahead of time. A wing of the castle would need to be opened up again, the rooms aired and made ready. There would likely need to be a few set aside simply for storage, if Nataliah and Cailen were bringing as much as she would expect they might in preparation for their new life. But then when it came to the banquet, most of that would need to be done very shortly before they got to Moorford.

    Jacquelyn hadn't considered a country-wide festival to celebrate the homecoming of the older princess. "That would be fun, yes! The people could use some levity, and I think it would be a lovely way to make Cailen feel at home." Nataliah wouldn't have any problem feeling at home, if Jacquelyn was any guess. Many of the letters she wrote home mentioned something of her homesickness, and Lochlan had spoken once of how difficult Nataliah had found the prospect of leaving Balfour to go marry Cailen.

    "What do you think, just close family for the welcome home banquet? I imagine you'll probably be tired of seeing people by the time your tour's finished," Jacquelyn said with an understanding smile.

    ----
    @Tatianna Farrand-Calhoun

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    Tatianna thought about warning Jacquelyn not to press Lochlan too much, but her sister-in-law knew hm much better than she did. It would be dreadful if being pushed into a decision would result in him sending Nataliah and Cailen to some remote area of Balfour where they would not be able to visit often. In truth, the princess did not know her brother at all and was a bit afraid of him. Perhaps her wariness would fade during the tour they were about to embark upon. It would be just the two of them and their inevitable entourage. Maybe they would develop a bond on the journey that would result in a closer relationship between them.

    “I hope they decide to stay in the castle, but somehow I think that they will want their own place once Cailen is recovered and the baby is born. Are there any open holdings that are close to us? One of those might suit them well. They will have their privacy but we will all be able to see each other often.” Then again, if they were given their own wing in the castle, that might give them all the solitude they needed.

    Once they were reunited, they could speak of permanent living arrangements. Tatianna hoped that she would be included in that discussion instead of Lochlan speaking to Nataliah and Cailen alone. If she was, she could write a letter to Jacquelyn and let her know what had been decided so that she would be able to start the preparations before their arrival.

    “I'll send you a letter from each city we visit,” she promised. “And I will describe everything so vividly that it will seem that you are there with us.” The young princess had a gift for words and writing was one of the few things in her life she was confident about. Most of the time she wrote poetry, but she was also expressive in prose.

    Tatianna was happy that Jacquelyn agreed with her suggestion that they hold a festival for everyone in Balfour. “Yes, he will know that he is accepted and that no one disapproves of his presence here.” Perhaps some would, but it was less likely with feasts on the streets held in his honor, complete with music and dancing. The common people were easily pleased for the most part.

    The princess nodded, her golden curls bouncing around her shoulders. “Yes, only family for the banquet. We don't want to overwhelm them with too much too soon. And after associating with so many strangers, a family banquet will be soothing for Lochlan and myself as well.”


    @Jacquelyn

  15. #15
    Member Jacquelyn's Avatar  
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    "Hmm..." Tatianna's question of open holdings got the queen curious, and she rose from her seat. Crossing to a deep cabinet on a nearby wall, Jacquelyn selected a large roll of parchment and a handful of small velvet weights and returned to the table, carefully unrolling the paper and anchoring its edges before it could roll back up again. It was a beautifully rendered map of the whole country, with major roads and large cities all labeled clearly in delicate writing. It was, as these things often were, slightly out of date, but little else could be expected after times of upheaval and great change.

    Standing beside Tatianna, Jacquelyn leaned over the map, the fingers of one hand drumming lightly on her lips as she thought. "I know Chatlawn Hills is vacant," she said, pointing to the city in question, "but that's not close enough at all." In truth, Jacquelyn wasn't sure how well-versed Tatianna was in the geography of their country. Was it something she'd been taught when she'd been tucked away in Silesia? Or had it not been important for her to know, since she never would have seen any of it if her life had gone the way it had been expected to?

    "There, that's what I was trying to remember. Old Oxlawn." A finger poked the place on the map, close to the coast and not terribly far as the crow flies from Moorford. "It's small, and has been empty for some time even before the troubles. And it's not on this map, but I think I remember there having been at one time a road from here around the other side of the lake, through the forest and straight there." Having found what she'd sought, Jacquelyn sat again, although her attention remained on the map. "I'm sure the castle there will need renovations, and if the road can be found it'll need work...but that looks ideal to me. What do you think?"

    "That would be lovely," Jacquelyn said with genuine appreciation at Tatianna's promise to send her letters along the way. "It's been so long since I've been far from Moorford, to hear of them from your hand will be a treat." While it was true that Jacquelyn knew relatively little of her sister-in-law, she had spoken to some of the priests at Silesia, and one of the things they'd spoken with enthusiasm about was Tatianna's way with words. Up until now the queen hadn't had too much of an opportunity to see the source of their praise herself, and she greatly looked forward to the chance to now.

    She also had to appreciate the grasp on the politics of swaying the opinion of the people that the princess seemed to have. "If anyone does end up being vocal of any disapproval, it is easy enough to shut them down. It is in no small part because of Cailen that we do not have to suffer under Luther's rule right now. If he hadn't come to our aid with his armies, I dare not think of what would have happened." The world would have been incredibly different, that was for sure. Tatianna would surely be dead, and Lochlan, too. Entire noble families - those loyal to the true crown, who had stood up against Luther - would have been entirely wiped out. Hutchinson, Baptiste, Gardiner...the country would be crippled, crushed under the weight of Luther's insanity and greed for uncontested power. But whether the commoner folk knew the fate they had escaped by the intervention of a foreign king, she wasn't sure. "But yes," Jacquelyn went on, shaking the darkness from her thoughts and returning to the hope of the future, "it will be an excellent way to both to celebrate Nataliah's homecoming and to welcome Cailen. Nothing quite says 'we're happy to have you here' better than country-wide parties." She laughed lightly, pleased that such levity was on the horizon.

    Tatianna had a point about how tired they were likely to be after meeting so many strangers, and Jacquelyn nodded to agree. "That will make it much easier to arrange. You shall return home to the comforts of your own space, your favorite foods, and the peace and sanctuary of home."

    ----
    @Tatianna Farrand-Calhoun

  16. #16
    House Farrand-Calhoun Tatianna Farrand-Calhoun's Avatar  
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    Tatianna's gaze followed Jacquelyn over to the cabinet, wondering what she had gone looking for. Her sister-in-law returned with a map and the young princess examined it with interest after it had been rolled onto the table and anchored. “Ohhhhh,” she breathed. It was quite beautiful and exquisitely detailed, unlike the simple one she had been required to study in her youth. The priests had thought it important that she learn about the land for which she would be sacrificed and she had also been required to memorize the names of each city and the families that ruled them. Understanding whom she was to die for made the role into which she had been born seem like more of an honor than it would have been if she was taught nothing about the kingdom at all.

    Now she viewed the map in a different light. This was the country that she would soon be traversing with Lochlan and when she returned, each city would be more to her than just markings upon a piece of parchment. She would have memories of places and faces to go along with the names. Jacquelyn pointed out one location and then another. The second one was closer and if the queen was right about the road, it wouldn't be difficult to get to. She and Nataliah would be able to visit each other whenever they wished.

    “It seems perfect to me as well, unless they would prefer somewhere larger.” She looked from the map to her sister-in-law. “Do you think we can go there before I leave and see what it is like? Then I can describe it to Nataliah and Cailen and find out what they think of it.” Tatianna shrugged. “They may already have another place in mind or perhaps Old Oxlawn will suit them. They can stay at the castle until the renovations are complete. And if they do decide to live there, I hope they change the name.” She wrinkled her nose. “It doesn't sound very cheerful.”

    Jacquelyn liked the idea of receiving daily letters and Tatianna would greatly enjoy chronicling the upcoming journey. “When I go back to my room, I'll tell my handmaidens to pack lots of parchment, quills, and ink.” She would rather bring her supplies with her than ask for them at each location she visited. The princess was still shy around new people. Maybe this tour would change that or perhaps she would always be reserved.

    Her knowledge of how to influence the commoners was purely instinctive. Politics had not been part of her education, nor had she studied the subject on her own. It just seemed logical to her to reinforce a potentially controversial event with celebrations. Tatianna also had no idea if the peasants were aware of what Cailen had prevented. She barely understood it herself. Luther had been a tyrant who would have destroyed Balfour if he had not been stopped. He would have had slit her throat at his coronation and her sacrifice would have been for nothing. That was as much as she knew. She had been asleep, drugged by her own sister, for most of that tumultuous period.

    Tatianna sighed pensively. “I wish we were already back.” she confessed, “and the tour has not even started yet. I am so afraid that I am going to be an embarrassment to Lochlan and that the families we visit will think I'm a poor excuse for a princess.” Her eyes met Jacquelyn’s. “Did you ever feel that way when you first became Queen?” It was difficult to imagine that her sister-in-law had ever been anxious and afraid. “Do you have any advice that will help me to fit in?”


    @Jacquelyn

  17. #17
    Member Jacquelyn's Avatar  
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    "Do you think we can go before I leave and see what it is like?"

    Jacquelyn considered the question, and its myriad facets. There were only a few days before Lochlan and Tatianna were meant to leave, so the trip would have to be very soon. She didn't know how recently that road had been traversed, which meant the trip might be rougher than was perhaps suitable for two royal ladies, but at the same time Balfourian women were meant to be made of sterner stuff than ladies of the other countries. And then there was Rylan; thus far she'd never been far from his side, even when he was left with his nurses. Did she bring him with her, or leave him with his father? "I'll have to speak with Lochlan, but I think we should be able to arrange a trip out there before you leave." It was the girl's nerves over the upcoming trip that made the queen's mind up; if it would help take her mind off how nervous she was, and give her something to focus on, she would push for it with her husband. Surely they could spare the people for the day trip, and if she phrased it as a bonding experience, how could he say no?

    It was sensible for Tatianna to bring the supplies she would need, in Jacquelyn's mind. She liked self-sufficiency, in so far as it could be expected for a royal, although she did hope that Tatianna would be able to experience the markets in the various cities they were to visit. The queen could almost recall a shop - maybe in Lawnbury? - that had been full of the most vibrantly colored inks she'd ever seen, along with leather-bound books of all shapes and sizes and paper types, and all manner of pens. It seemed exactly the sort of thing Tatianna would enjoy, and the queen made a note in her mind to mention it to Lochlan.

    Jacquelyn genuinely felt for Tatianna. She couldn't fathom the situation the girl was in, especially since she was from, if not a high noble family, then one of high enough standing that she never felt quite as out of her depth as it seemed the young princess did. "I did, for a time," she said. She'd had to come around quickly, though; Luther had never been one to brook anything less than perfection. "What you need to remember is that you aren't necessarily meant to fit in. You are a Princess of the Realm, and your royal blood carries with it a power that makes you without peer, outside of your direct relations." Technically, when push came to shove, Tatianna outranked even the queen. "But I understand what you mean, and I think you will have less trouble than you're expecting. There isn't a soul in the country who isn't aware of your situation, and I think you will find many to be understanding if you are unfamiliar with the quirks of the various noble houses."

    Reaching over, Jacquelyn put her hand over Tatianna's and squeezed. "Some of the best advice I can give you is to trust your instincts. Many people will be kind to you, but some might seek to take advantage of your inexperience. Do your best to not let them fluster you, and if you don't feel right about something, don't feel obligated to continue with it. And don't be afraid to bring your concerns to Lochlan; I know he can be intimidating, but he will keep you safe." That, she was sure of.

    -----
    @Tatianna Farrand-Calhoun

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