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Thread: A Small Matter for Consideration - 11/12, After the Tournament, Queen's office - Viv & Assorted Hepburns

  1. #1
    House Shellten Vivienne Shellten's Avatar  

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    A Small Matter for Consideration - 11/12, After the Tournament, Queen's office - Viv & Assorted Hepburns

    Vivienne sat back heavily in the chair behind the desk, and had the thought again that she needed to get a new one. This was the same one that Cailen and their father had used, and while the legacy was something, it just wasn't as comfortable as she wanted it to be. And anyway, if she wanted furniture with history, the desk had it in spades; she might not've been sure when it came into the family, but her father had mentioned it being old when he first wore the crown. It bore the scars of its use, dents and dings, wine stains, worn edges. In a strange way it made Vivienne feel less alone, as if through the hours and days and years of use the desk had taken on the essences of those who had sat here before her.

    After the noise of the stadium, the thick silence this room offered almost made the queen's ears feel cottony. There was a part of her that was sure she should be somewhere else, somewhere more visible, but if she was honest she had no idea where that would be. The throne room, maybe, so she would be available for audiences, if people wanted to speak with her? But at the same time, she didn't want to seem to accessible. With a frustrated sigh, the queen shook her head. It was a balance she wasn't even close to having yet, but for now it would have to be good enough that she was in a place where she could be easily found if she was needed.

    Shifting forward so she was sitting more on the edge of her seat, Vivienne looked out the window for a moment. The previous evening had left her with far too much to think about, but there was so much in her head that she couldn't concentrate on any one thing for long enough to deal with it. Pulling a sheaf of paper toward her, Vivienne took up her pen and looked at the blank sheet in front of her, as if willing the contents of her mind to simply appear on the page. She'd often found she thought better in writing, and she hoped it would provide some relief for her overwhelmed mind now.

    A change in the sounds outside in the hall distracted her, at least momentarily, and she had already written the noises off as a simple change of the guard when a knock came at the door. Taking the briefest of moments to adjust her posture so she didn't appear as tired as she felt, Vivienne called out, trusting that the Dawn on guard outside wouldn't let anyone they didn't trust get as far as knocking. "Who calls? Enter."

    ----

    @Gavin Hepburn

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    House Hepburn Gavin Hepburn's Avatar  

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    The tournament lasted far longer than Gavin had hoped it would. The whole time he couldn’t help but replay Grant’s words in his mind and every time he tore them apart, his anger would build. How De Angelis had managed to keep such an atrocity hidden for so long… how had he not seen it while they were there?

    Gavin didn’t even bother changing from his full regalia before he made a beeline to the Queen’s study. He was hoping he could catch Vivienne before too much landed on her plate as he knew it would, and he wanted to make his pitch short and sweet.

    His trek met no resistance, not even from the guards posted outside Vivienne’s door - though he was surprised that Lexington wasn’t among them. Gavin exchanged a few pleasantries with the pair before he knocked.

    Who calls? Enter.” Her voice was loud and clear, the very welcoming and commanding persona that accompanied that of a Queen. Without hesitating, Gavin let himself in, closed the door behind him, and took a knee.

    ”Your Majesty. I apologize for the intrusion,” He said, his head bowed still. ”There is a matter of utmost importance that I wish to bring to your attention.”

    @Vivienne Shellten

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    House Shellten Vivienne Shellten's Avatar  

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    Vivienne smiled when she saw that it was Gavin, but she she didn't relax. A Dawn at her door was normal, but one with business with her usually meant trouble of some kind. With Gavin, it could have been official, or it could have been more involving his personal matters as they related to her sister. It had only been a few days since he'd come to her to confess his feelings for the youngest royal, but there could easily be more to discuss on the subject.

    "There is a matter of utmost importance that I wish to bring to your attention."

    That didn't sound promising. Leaning to rest her elbows on the desk, the queen laced her fingers together and looked at Gavin over them. "Rise, and tell me what's happened." She didn't even dare try to guess what this was about. It was tempting to think that it couldn't be that bad since it had only been one person to come bring it to her attention, and there wasn't any screaming to indicate the capital being on fire. But with how life was going lately, the queen wasn't going to rule anything out.

    ----
    @Gavin Hepburn

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    House Hepburn Seamus Hepburn's Avatar  

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    Seamus was leaning with his back against the wall, eyes closed in what was either concentration or anxiety. His brother was pacing about the waiting chamber, touching things unnecessarily and generally adding to everyone else's sense of trepidation. Aloise to this point, had been relatively reserved. If she was nervous, she was doing a good job of hiding it. They hadn't been waiting long yet, but that didn't stop anyone from glancing about the room to see if they could determine just how long it had been. There were no hourglasses, and the one window in the room faced west, allowing for no view of the sun. However long it took for Gavin to gain them entrance was simply how long they would wait.

    Grant had spent days coaching Aloise, and Seamus hoped that the girl was a little more comfortable with the idea of facing the queen than she had been when they first arrived. Conversely, nobody had prepared Seamus for what he might say, and so he kept running through the information he had to report in his head, trying to make it sound official, at least in his mind. He hadn't really had any experience as a Knight of the Shield before he was sent off to Welch Run, and he was never really sure he was doing it right. But he knew that even though he felt strongly for Aloise and her plight, Vivienne Shellten would expect his first loyalty to be to the crown. If there was a conflict of interest, he wasn't really sure what he would say or do.

    "No doubt her majesty will probably keep Gavin waiting, and us by extension," Grant said, taking a candlestick from one of the tables and measuring its weight in his hand. "She was dressed pretty casually for the archery contest, and no doubt will prefer a more royal garb when she meets with petitioners. Hopefully, she isn't too annoyed by the intrusion." It was a calculated risk on Grant's part. He didn't want Vivienne to have too much information. He needed her to be shocked and caught off guard. Hopefully Gavin wasn't sharing too much information with her.

    Seamus leaned his head forward and opened his eyes. "We will wait as long as we must," he said calmly. "And if need be, we will return tomorrow, and the day after that." They had come to far to be put off, and he would not allow Aloise to leave Hebron without meeting her grace. "At worst, the coronation will end in a couple of days."

    His brother rolled his eyes. Vivienne would see them this morning. He already knew that Rubianne had been to see her. She had already had a run in with him the night before. And with Gavin the link between them, and his own situation to be discussed, Vivienne was unlikely to turn him away. Queen or not, Grant had her attention at this point. And if Remington were to be believed, Vivienne Shellten liked to meet her problems head on. "It won't be long,"he assured the other two. "Are you feeling alright, Aloise?"


    @Aloise Peregrine @Vivienne Shellten @Gavin Hepburn

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    House Hepburn Gavin Hepburn's Avatar  

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    Her Majesty’s smile was not missed by Gavin and it brought him a great deal of comfort. She had been his greatest ally of late and he was pleased to see that nothing had changed in that regard within the last 48 hours. Whether or not his Queen would remain so cordial after his discussion with her sister was still to be seen. But he wasn’t here for that. This wasn’t about him.

    "Rise, and tell me what's happened.” At his Queen’s command, Gavin rose and assumed attention again. ”Your majesty, there has been a troubling development in Welch Run. It seems as though your brother’s reservations on the De Angelis Lord’s character had merit.” Though Gavin had never spoken with his Majesty personally, Danush De Angelis’ presence in the palace said as much. And there were the whispers that mirrored that distrust.

    ”It is with your permission that I would like to bring Lord Hepburn and Ser Seamus before you with their testimony. A Peregrine girl is in their care and her narrative is… alarming, Your Majesty. “

    How had he been so blind while they were there? How had he allowed Vera to move freely while confined by such dangerous walls and evil men?

    @Vivienne Shellten
    Last edited by Gavin Hepburn; 04-10-2017 at 08:29 PM.

  6. #6
    House Peregrine Aloise Peregrine's Avatar  
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    "Are you feeling alright, Aloise?"

    The voice pulled the girl from the confines of her own mind, and she looked a little wide-eyed when she focused on Grant and nodded. "Yes, I think so." It might've been a lie, but at this point even she couldn't be sure. She felt a little sick, but that was from the nerves, and it was just a knot in her stomach and not something that might become a problem.

    In truth she hadn't picked up on much of what had been said between the brothers; she'd heard them speaking, sure, but their words had been indistinct and blurry. What she had been putting all her mindpower to was a litany of lessons and commands, things she needed to remember and keep in the front of her mind for the meeting to come. Everything from how she needed to present herself to the way she had to communicate, all with an overarching chorus of platitudes to keep her calm enough to be functional. It was a lot to keep track of, and something had to give, so for now Aloise was more or less spaced out of the here and now.

    The conversation she'd missed had filtered through her mind a little bit, though, and although she couldn't be sure of the whole thing, she did catch on to some of it. With a little worry in her voice, she looked between the two obviously anxious men. "The Queen won't be angry we're here without an appointment, will she?" It seemed to her that it would be a bad idea to annoy someone they were about to ask a big favor from. But Grant was confident, and he hadn't led her wrong yet; she really had no choice but to keep following everyone's advice to trust him, and hope that he had read their new monarch right.

    ----
    @Grant Hepburn @Seamus Hepburn

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    House Shellten Vivienne Shellten's Avatar  

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    It might've been expected that Vivienne would look alarmed or surprised, given what the knight before her hinted at. Troubling developments in her kingdom were a serious matter, and required serious response. But, instead of the expected response, the Queen instead simply nodded. Leaning over, she pulled a folio from a deep drawer and placed it on the desk in front of her.

    "Thank you, Ser Gavin, for bringing this matter to my attention. Am I right to assume that your lordly cousin has anticipated that the audience he seeks will occur immediately, and is as such waiting nearby?" Vivienne wore a somewhat knowing smile, and raised a small bell from the desk's surface and rang it once, before silencing it. A page opened the door and stepped in, expectant.

    "Victor, could you please go to whichever waiting room the Hepburns are currently occupying and escort them in here?" The boy nodded, and left without a word.

    "A keen one, that. Eager to please, almost to a fault...I always sort of feel I've got to keep my eye on him, to make sure nobody takes advantage." The tangent was a short one, and Vivienne turned her eye back to Gavin. "If you're not part of your lord cousin's testimony, I'll release you back to your duties. I know how your commander likes to keep you fellows busy, and I'm sure you've still got some preparations to make for tomorrow's joust." She wasn't supposed to pick favorites in this tournament for obvious reasons, but Vivienne would be cheering - albeit quietly - for Gavin. She kept from telling him, though; Lexington had mentioned during a conversation that his fellow knight was feeling a little overwhelmed to have been chosen to represent the Dawn, and she felt that her support might just add to the pressure.

    ----
    @Gavin Hepburn @Grant Hepburn

  8. #8
    House Hepburn Gavin Hepburn's Avatar  

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    Gavin watched in knightly silence, his shoulders square and back straight, as he stood before in his full regalia fresh from the morning guard. He hadn’t expected her reaction - a nod and smooth movement, as though she were ready for this. He had to commend her, albeit silently, and his chest swelled with a bit more pride than had ever been directed at Cailen. A pang of remorse filled Gavin’s chest at the thought and he struggled briefly to push it away.

    ”Thank you, Ser Gavin, for bringing this matter to my attention. Am I right to assume that your lordly cousin has anticipated that the audience he seeks will occur immediately, and is as such waiting nearby?” Gavin nodded, but the motion went unnoticed as Vivienne quite obviously knew the answer. He watched from the corner of his eye as the young lad appeared and disappeared just as quickly without a peep. It caused the knight to crack a small smirk for he used to be that very lad.

    "A keen one, that. Eager to please, almost to a fault...I always sort of feel I've got to keep my eye on him, to make sure nobody takes advantage.” A soft chuckle escaped the knight’s lips and he offered a nod of acknowledgement. He was about to make an offer for young Victor out of good will, but was stopped as his Queen continued.

    ”"If you're not part of your lord cousin's testimony, I'll release you back to your duties. I know how your commander likes to keep you fellows busy, and I'm sure you've still got some preparations to make for tomorrow's joust.”

    Bowing at the waist, Gavin replied, ”Thank you, your Majesty. You are correct in assuming that I have completed my assignment in his Lordship’s plan. It is your sister I will attend to now,” He was tempted to wink, wanted to even, for he felt closer to Vivienne than any other member of the Royal family - save for his future bride - that is, if she would still have him after their meeting.
    Straightening again, Gavin offered her a smile in place of the overly friendly wink and paused a moment, before glancing at the door.


    ”If it pleases your Majesty, I may be swayed to keep my eye on young Victor, as well. I remember what it was like to be his age and eager to please. And… if you should need my assistance at any time, do not hesitate to call on me.”

    @Vivienne Shellten

  9. #9
    House Hepburn Grant Hepburn's Avatar  
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    Grant didn't make a show, or waste any time dallying when Victor summoned them. Seamus and Aloise would fall in behind, and they would get this event begun without any undue delay. The servant was direct with them, which suited the Hepburn lord well enough. Whatever he knew, or didn't know, was out of Grant's control, and he wasn't interested in probing the boy to discover what may or may not have been said in the queen's chambers before they would arrive.

    There was no grand announcement. Merely young Victor knocking once and showing the trio into the room. Grant had caught only the final few words exchanged between his cousin and the queen, and as he strolled past Gavin into the room, he shot him an even look. "Stay," he said casually, unsure if he had been voluntarily leaving or whether he had been dismissed by her grace. If it was the latter, Grant had no doubt that she would challenge him on the contradiction. But for now, his cousin's presence served multiple purposes. First, that if the three sons of Patrick Hepburn were to not return from Welch Run, Gavin would be the only heir of adult age remaining, and would have to serve as regent for the twins. And second, without the Knight of Autumn present, Grant wanted to make sure he was at least represented, and counted on his cousin to be a good soldier and report back to his master.

    "Your Majesty," the man said, before lowering himself to his right knee, feeling Seamus to his right mirroring his action. Remington had taught Aloise the proper curtsy for dealing with royalty, but Grant didn't bother to look back at her. He had full faith in the girl, at least until the retelling of her story went. "We beg your forgiveness for the suddenness of our visit," he told her, even though he knew that she had an inkling that they would meet sooner, rather than later. It had been unspoken between the two of them the prior evening, but neither could pretend surprise.

    Rising when he was bid to do so, he motioned to his companions in turn. "My brother Seamus, you may know," he said, not bothering to smile. "He is your loyal Shield in Welch Run, and has come to swear his loyalty." The other Shields throughout the land had not been forced to come to the capital to retake their oaths, a matter that Grant had thought foolish, but he knew that much of this event had unfolded too quickly for all matters to be undertaken to protocol.

    Turning to the small girl, Grant gave her a small but reassuring smile. "And may I present Lady Aloise Peregrine. This is her first official visit to court," he added, knowing that everyone in the room was aware. That did not change the fact that most noble girls of her age and birth would have already made their debuts.

    Folding his hands behind his back and rubbing his fingers together on instinct, Grant went on. "We have come today to petition for your intervention in the matter of succession in Welch Run. It is the position of House Hepburn that House De Angelis has committed crimes that make them unfit to rule, and that they continue to prosper by the Crown's leave, without regard or compassion for their peers or servants. Moreover, their ascension to power did not have prior sanction of the Crown, and such measures taken without the leave of Hebron set a precedent that endangers all noble houses of Tuneric."


    @Vivienne Shellten @Gavin Hepburn @Aloise Peregrine

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    House Shellten Vivienne Shellten's Avatar  

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    Gavin's offer to help her watch out for Victor was kind, and Vivienne nodded. "It is my goal to allow him to go his own way as he chooses, but keep him from falling prey to others with unsavory intentions." She spoke as if she were so much older than the boy, when it was likely less than ten years between them, but somehow it didn't seem patronizing. "As tempting as it may be to ensconce him and keep him safe, mistakes are how a person grows, and he must be allowed the room to make his own. But I would certainly be grateful for another pair of eyes on the lad."

    The very boy in question returned not a few moments later, with a small company in tow. The queen nodded her thanks to the page, who retreated as silently as he'd arrived, and then she turned her full attention to her new guests. Grant's command for his cousin was noted, and she watched with a calm, neutral expression as the three newcomers lowered themselves in respect. "Ser Gavin, you may remain only if it does not mean shirking other responsibilities. The rest of you, please rise."

    Vivienne nodded greeting to both in turn, and listened keenly to Grant as he laid out their petition. It was a serious matter, and she found herself incredibly grateful that Rubianne had given her some warning that this was coming. Warning, though, didn't change the fact that she had no idea how a monarch was meant to deal with a meeting like this; unfortunately, there was nothing for it but to go on in a way that made sense to her, and hope she wasn't missing any ceremonial steps.

    "As it so happens, Lord Hepburn, I am inclined to agree with your last point. It is a matter I'd been planning on bringing up with the council, when such a thing exists, and so I need no convincing there." She had already begun writing up her thoughts on the matter, in fact, and was firm in her conviction that noble houses were placed in power by the Crown, and it was only by the Crown that they could be removed.

    Opening the folio in front of her, the Queen took up a pen and took a few notes on a fresh page, speaking as she did so. "Official reports have given not a whisper of any unrest or trouble in Welch Run; their taxes arrive on time, their economy seems to be thriving, and I have received nothing which would indicate anything were amiss." She didn't look up from her writing, but the fact that Seamus was here with his brother instead of having reported any problems to her was somewhat telling, even if she didn't shine a light on it. She reserved her judgement, though, and when she looked back up at the four in front of her it was with the same neutral expression.

    "What, specifically, are the crimes House Hepburn believes House De Angelis is guilty of?" She knew Grant wasn't one to make this sort of declaration lightly, and she could feel the stress winding fresh knots in the muscles of her shoulders no matter how calm she appeared on the outside.

    ----
    @Gavin Hepburn @Grant Hepburn

  11. #11
    House Hepburn Grant Hepburn's Avatar  
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    Something was wrong. Grant couldn't immediately put his finger on exactly what it was that he didn't know, but he was certain that whatever it was, Vivienne Shellten did know. And those facts unnerved him more than a little. Maintaining his composure was not an issue however. There was nothing he could do, since he was eye to eye with her grace, and everyone else was behind him. There were no eyes to study for answers but hers.

    The matter of her agreement on his final point was of no real consequence. She had to agree with him. She had no choice in the matter. Vivienne was queen for all of a day, and she could not afford to take a position that didn't suit the higher lords of the realm. The fact that she was prepared to discuss the matter of Welch Run, and the fact that she had information at her fingertips gave away what she knew and that he didn't. Vivienne had not only known that he was coming. She had known why he was coming.

    Sensing that her words about the virtues of House De Angelis were close to setting off the already anxious child, Grant turned the hand closest to her into a simple okay sign, before folding his fingers back into his fist. His encounter with Vivienne the previous evening had left him with the impression that she was not to be patronized or trifled with, and that prompted him to be as direct as he could with the woman. "House Hepburn is not present to question the economic state of the lands in Dastan De Angelis' possession," he said, his voice smooth and even. "Despite the fact that his coffers were not his own to begin with, and the fact that his holdings saw the financial boon of a royal visit last season, the matter of his tribute is not at the heart of my argument."

    The obvious question wasn't more than a moment away from being asked however, and Grant let it hang in the air just long enough for Seamus to fidget. The lord was hoping that Vivienne had missed the flexing of his brother's fingers into a fist. Clearing his throat for a moment, the man finally nodded his head at the queen. "House De Angelis has committed crimes against their betters, and in turn their servants. Not the least among them is murder and rape, your majesty. And what's more, there is a chance that the crown knowingly turned a blind eye to these crimes. Lady Peregrine and Ser Seamus are here to give testimony to these charges," he added, finally moving his hands to indicate his companions.


    @Vivienne Shellten @Gavin Hepburn @Aloise Peregrine

  12. #12
    House Shellten Vivienne Shellten's Avatar  

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    Grant seemed keen to both dismiss the topic of Welch Run's finances and to hammer down the accusations of De Angelis's stolen position, and he did so in no uncertain terms. But what he didn't say spoke almost as loudly as what he did, and that he didn't address the fact she had heard nothing of any unrest, despite having a Shield in place in the city, went unanswered. "Your point is taken, Lord Hepburn. I'm sorry you mistook my observations as being central to your argument."

    What this meeting drove home for the Queen, even in these very early stages, was that with this crown she not only inherited the power conferred to it, but all of the successes and failures of those who had worn it previously. She'd known on some level, of course, that that was how it worked, but everything had come on so quickly that it hadn't truly had time to sink in yet. Now, barely two days into her rule, she had to somehow find the grace to take responsibility for how her brother had dealt with the De Angelis uprising, as well as find a way to make amends, all under the sharp eye of a man she frankly still didn't trust. It was, all things considered, not an ideal afternoon.

    Vivienne noted the charges down, displeased that her request for specificity had been either misinterpreted or ignored, but the testimonies she'd been promised would hopefully clarify things and bring her the information she needed. This wasn't a trial - not yet, at least - but she wouldn't make a decision if she felt uninformed, and she would have the notes to back everything up.

    "Lord Hepburn, do you have anything further to add before we begin with the testimony of Lady Peregrine?" She wanted to hear the girl first, to hear the counterpoints to the version of the takeover in the official reports. Then she would move on to her Shield, to hopefully find out what he knows and when he learned it, and sort out why he didn't report any findings to the Crown.

    ----
    @Grant Hepburn @Gavin Hepburn

  13. #13
    House Hepburn Grant Hepburn's Avatar  
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    Hepburn had taken the tone of a prosecutor who was presenting an opening argument, even though there was no real trial taking place. At least not yet. He had committed himself to combating any notion that De Angelis might not have wronged the Peregrines, that he had moved from the preliminary right into the primary portion of their meeting. And Vivienne Shellten had not so subtly called him out on it. It was possible that he had over prepared for the encounter. Pausing at the sound of her apology as though he had been stabbed, he tilted his head slightly and looked the woman in the eye. A soft smile crossed his face, and he nodded his head slowly to her in a genuine admiration.

    Grant was not here to test the woman. She had given every indication the previous evening that not only should she not be trifled with, but that she simply wouldn't be trifled with. If Grant thought that he was going to remain in Hebron to usher in the new guard, then he might well have been mistaken. Vivienne Shellten was quickly convincing him that he was no longer in the court of Kings Aramis or Cailen. "I have plenty to add, Your Grace. But I will not. The remainder of my points could only be construed as conjecture or opinion, and would be unseemly if they were presented without your hearing the facts of the matter from Lady Peregrine or my brother."

    Without waiting to be dismissed, Grant bowed to the woman and turned on his heel. He looked to Aloise and nodded before straightening his shoulders and puffing his chest out, in an attempt to remind the girl of what they had talked about in regards to conveying strength and determination. Pausing at her shoulder, he waited for her to step forward, and then rounded into the place she had been occupying, so that she knew that he was behind her. He would be ready to interject on her behalf if she faltered, but Grant didn't believe it would come to that. He had prepared her. She knew what was at stake. He believed in her.

    Casting a look to Seamus, the larger knight looked concerned and nervous. Grant fixed him a wink, and he folded his hands behind his back as he waited for Vivienne to address the girl.


    @Vivienne Shellten @Aloise Peregrine

  14. #14
    House Shellten Vivienne Shellten's Avatar  

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    Vivienne was starting to feel like this whole thing had already been scripted and practiced, and that she was the only one who had missed rehearsals. Perhaps it was just Grant's seemingly unshakeable confidence that made her feel that way, but even the way he silently coached the young Peregrine made her wonder how long they'd been working on this. That, too, would be something she'd be curious to find out later.

    It was an odd assembly of faces that stood before her now, with expressions that ran the full spectrum. Gavin, arguably the least entangled in the Peregrine/De Angelis affair, looked dutifully serious; Seamus radiated nerves, but stood firm, his resolve clear; Grant was handily playing the part of both fearless leader and moral support.

    And then there was Aloise. Vivienne hadn't been sure what she'd been expecting, after what Ruby had told her, but what stood before her was a thin girl in a pink and grey gown with an almost grim determination in her eye. Her posture was straight and, after she'd curtsied, she folded her hands behind her back.

    "Lady Aloise Peregrine. I welcome you to the capital, and regret that your introduction to court has been under such circumstances." The girl bowed her head, and expressed her thanks. "As we begin I would like to start by giving you permission to speak freely. Communication is more important than using words which are pretty and polite. Yes?" Again, the girl nodded. "Alright. I need you to tell me of the crimes that you have suffered by the hand of Dastan De Angelis or any member of his family. Please, begin."

    ----
    @Grant Hepburn
    Last edited by Vivienne Shellten; 05-01-2017 at 05:36 PM.

  15. #15
    House Peregrine Aloise Peregrine's Avatar  
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    "Alright. I need you to tell me of the crimes that you have suffered by the hand of Dastan DeAngelis or any member of his family. Please, begin."

    This was it. Aloise stood before the Queen, and she had her full attention. This was her chance to save her sister and cousin, and maybe even set things right. All she had to do was not mess it up.

    "Your Grace, to begin with the De Angelis family lay seige to my home for nearly a week. Then, when they invaded the castle itself, they murdered every Peregrine they could find, right down to the youngest of us, my baby sister Anastasia. Only three of us were spared: myself, my older sister Delphia, and our cousin Veronica." There was a small pause as Aloise took a deep breath. "If there was a reason why we three were chosen, I have never come to know it, but I understand it was Dastan's sister Silvia who ordered it."

    As an opening volley went, that one was pretty strong, and its delivery was almost flawless. Aloise spoke with a sureness and confidence that would not have been possible even a week before, and although her hands were gripped tightly together, her posture was straight and proper.

    Aloise paused to leave room for the Queen to comment, but when Vivienne looked up from what she was writing and nodded for her to continue, she went on. "After all the fighting was over, Dastan De Angelis ordered that my sister, my cousin, and I had to be stripped of our ability to challenge him if we had to be kept alive. He assigned someone to each of us - himself for Veronica, his brother Danush for Delphia, and his illegitimate son Ethan to me - and ordered that we all be raped." The pause now was for Aloise's sake, as she still had trouble speaking of what had happened, but it allowed Vivienne a moment to absorb what she'd been told. It didn't look like it was sitting easily with her.

    "We were stripped down to almost nothing, and Delphia was taken to what had been our parents' room. When Dastan saw me he said that there wasn't anything womanly about me yet, and that he wouldn't make his son have sex with a child. Ethan protested and said he didn't mind, but it was decided instead that he would hold me and make me watch as Dastan attacked Veronica, so that I would know full well what would happen to me if I stepped out of line or got ideas above my station."

    She had strayed, her tone going slightly hollow as she gave specifics she hadn't spoken aloud yet to anyone else, but to her credit she was still standing tall. Grant had told her she couldn't cry and hope for mercy, but rather that she had to stand with pride and demand justice, and she laid out the wrongs done to her with an unassailable truth.

  16. #16
    House Shellten Vivienne Shellten's Avatar  

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    As the girl laid out her experiences, Vivienne felt a growing horror in the pit of her stomach. It had been difficult to comprehend the seige in the first place, but hearing it told from the voice of someone who had lived it gave it a gravity that made it both terrifyingly real and somehow even more incomprehensible. How had something like this been allowed to happen in recent memory? And, nagging in the back of her mind, she could not banish the voice which whispered, And Cailen let this stand.

    Taking her precise notes, Vivienne had motioned for the girl to continue speaking, but what she told of next made the pen stop moving. She felt a sickening mixture of disgust, guilt, and blinding rage as Aloise spoke of Dastan's order to have them all raped, and she pressed her hand tightly over her mouth as she listened. Horror did not even begin to cover it now.

    There were tears gathering in her eyes when Aloise paused, and she removed her hand from her mouth and held it up for the girl to stop. "A moment, please, Lady Peregrine." Vivienne took a deep breath and took a few more notes, and then looked back up at the young woman who stood before her. "I...have no words, Lady Aloise, which can even begin to touch on what you have just told me. It is beyond enough for action to be taken, I promise you." Almost fearing the answer to the question, the queen asked, "Are there other things of that magnitude that you were put through?"

    The girl thought for a moment, and shook her head. "No, Your Majesty. There is more, but it's all rather pale in comparison."

    Vivienne nodded. "I see. In that case, Lady Peregrine, I would like to return to you shortly. There is water on the sideboard if you have need of it." The queen gestured to the pitcher and cups, and then motioned for Seamus to step forward. Aloise curtsied once more, and fell back to switch places with the knight.

    "Ser Seamus, you are my acting Knight of the Shield in Welch Run, assigned shortly after the De Angelis takeover, yes?" She started a new heading in her book and went on. "What can you tell me of what you observed? The treatment of the Peregrines, the way Dastan runs his house, anything of note. And then we can move on to how you became involved in Lady Aloise's welfare."

    -----
    @Seamus Hepburn

  17. #17
    House Hepburn Grant Hepburn's Avatar  
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    For his part, the Lord of Maple Glade was relatively cool and comfortable in the presence of the queen. For as much as he had trained Aloise in the past week, he had been preparing his entire life for this very meeting. He had dealings with King Cailen, of course, but it was clear in those instances that his presence at court was neither required, nor particularly wanted. When news of his resignation had come about, Grant had decided that the outcome would be vastly different with his successor.

    A quick glance at his brother revealed that Seamus was not doing as well. He was clearly agitated at what Aloise was having to endure, as well as likely nervous for his own coming interview. Grant didn't suspect that the knight had anything to be nervous about however. He was a pillar of loyalty, and wouldn't have anything to hide. The only thing that night shake the towering man is if for some reason, the little girl faltered. Grant's confidence extended only so far in that regard.

    Thankfully, he had steeled himself against her testimony. He knew the details. He had had them twice before. He had suffered the misty eyes, and the private tears that came later. He turned a deaf ear to it now, and he was glad. As much as the words rolled off of him, he was proud of the vigor and determination with which they were delivered. Not so proud that he smiled, as that would be quite inappropriate. But he would scoop the girl up later and hug her near to death for her bravery and poise. And for the fact that even though the queen had attempted to allow the girl to be casual about the situation, Aloise had stuck to the plan.

    Her Grace, was by far the least prepared. Grant didn't know her so well as to have any kind of a read on her, but it was clear that she was affected by the story. The trepidation that he had felt at first entering, sensing that the woman was prepared for him, had begun to fade away. Grant had made up his mind about what he would do if Vivienne Shellten had balked at their petition, but that event was looking less and less likely. And the confirmation of that came only a short while later.

    As Aloise resumed Seamus' post and the man moved to the front and center, Grant waited for the queen to look back at her notes, before stealing a glance at the girl. He gave her a nod of approval and clenched his fist at his side. The pride he felt for her made him glad that she was now a part of their family. It may have been Delaney's suggestion, but Grant was positive now that it was his will.


    @Aloise Peregrine

  18. #18
    House Hepburn Seamus Hepburn's Avatar  

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    Seamus was ill at ease through the entire ordeal, but his trust in Grant had managed to keep him steady. He was better suited in the field, weapon in hand, battling enemies who meant him harm. He was never one who was comfortable in the realm of politicians. Even at the onset, when his brother had seemed stymied, Seamus kept faith that it would turn out in the end.

    Standing through Aloise's story made his hands flex into fists, but he did his best to hide them from sight. He was not as collected as Grant was when it came to rehearing the tale, and every time he thought about it, his blood began to boil over once more. This time, however, he took solace in the fact that Aloise did not appear to be upset. She was stronger now. So much more than the fragile thing that he had met not so long ago in the cellars of Welch Run. It was honestly hard for him to believe how far she had come in so little time.

    Lost in the daydream that was the recollection of his time spent with the girl, Seamus had almost missed the Queen addressing him, and he shook himself free from his thoughts as Aloise moved to take his place. He didn't say anything to her, or even betray a thought. He would have time to talk to her later about all of it. As he moved forward toward the place of attention, the knight knelt in front of the woman, one knee on the ground and his arms folded over the other. He was not Grant or Aloise. He was directly in her service. And, he was not terribly uncomfortable in the position.

    After a small nod at her opening question, the knight raised his head to answer the queen. "I was dispatched by the Commander of Dawn on King Cailen's behalf just after his grace returned from Welch Run, your majesty." Silently, Seamus wondered if Guy had suspected more than Cailen, or if he just chose a younger knight based on Dastan's prior treachery, for fear that one of the retired swords might not be able to defend himself. "Day to day life in House De Angelis is not unlike any other place, your grace. The men are a little less civil, considering they were not raised in a proper court, considering that there is not a knight among them. There is a fair amount of revelry, and the women of the house proper are well treated and respected." Dastan would never abide for his sisters a tenth of what he inflicted on the Peregrines.

    Thinking about the remainder of her question, he shook his head. "Lady Veronica keeps mostly to herself," he said, not elaborating. She still kept more airs that the others, but it didn't mean she didn't suffer for it. "The Three Peregrine Ladies are kept out of site, on the whole," he continued. "It was hard to even notice they were there most days, though I am sure that was by design. As your grace stated, the finances and day to day management of the city seems to be in good order, though I never took it upon myself to pry into such affairs. The taxes leave for Hebron with my signature, but beyond that I could not say."

    The knight tried to consider if there was something he had missed. He wanted to tell Vivienne everything, but she had made it clear that she would address his time with Aloise later, and so he would wait for that question to be asked. "Oh," he said, rather unceremoniously as he recalled something. "There's the matter of the Peregrine coffers, your grace. I believe Lord Dastan is still looking for it." He was, vigorously. Whatever Aloise's uncle had done with his fortune, the supposed hoardings he had kept from his citizens, the current lord had not yet found it. "I don't know what he means to do when it is discovered, but I believe that none of the girls know where it is either, lest they might have been further tortured," he said, an idea that made him even more angry.


    @Vivienne Shellten
    Last edited by Rick; 05-03-2017 at 07:19 AM.

  19. #19
    House Peregrine Aloise Peregrine's Avatar  
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    For most of the time she was standing in front of the Queen, Aloise had something like tunnel vision. Her focus was solely on the task at hand, at delivering her testimony in such a way that she could not be dismissed. She knew there were three men behind her, but if any of them moved or made a sound she would not have noticed. Even the cacophony of her own head was silenced, or at least dampened, like a conversation happening in another room.

    It was only a moment after she'd taken Seamus's spot that she allowed herself, with a deep breath, to reenter the world. With a furrowed brow she looked to Grant, desperate for an indication of how things had gone. Sure, the Queen looked moved, but was that enough? But the Hepburn Lord eased her nerves, approval clear on his face for that flash of a moment. Aloise didn't smile - they were far from out of the woods yet, and she wouldn't feel real relief until she had the promise of action to save her sister - but for the first time in a long time she felt like maybe someday soon some of the weight might be lifted from her soul.

    In many ways, though, Aloise's composure was a ruse. She was able to summon up the courage and the poise she needed, but only temporarily; all the doubt, the fear, having to recount the horrors, it was all still there, but dammed up, if only for the time being. Already now that the Queen's eyes weren't on her the girl could feel cracks forming, and as Seamus went on speaking about life in Welch Run she looked down to see her hands trembling. She had to keep a hold on herself until the meeting was over, but it was going to be a serious test of her willpower.

  20. #20
    House Shellten Vivienne Shellten's Avatar  

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    It was a challenge, trying to reconcile the normalcy of life that Seamus was describing with the cruelty Aloise said she'd endured. Vivienne hadn't been to Welch Run herself, but she'd had pleasant conversations with Danush, and had liked the man quite well. To know that he was capable of not only consenting to such atrocities, but willing to carry them out...it shook her, to her very core. What else was going on in her kingdom, perhaps right under her nose, that was concealed by a friendly face and a charismatic demeanor?

    Despite the storm of outrage, guilt, and doubt with her, Vivienne noted well what her Shield said. It was only once he finished speaking that she realized she hadn't ever bid him rise from his kneel, and she did so quickly, with an apology. The matter of Lord Peregrine's coffers was noted with a question mark beside it, and she paused. "I was led to believe that Lord Peregrine had squandered his fortune on a habit of living above his means...that the coffers were bare because they had been drained, not because its contents had been hidden." She glanced at Aloise. "Are you aware of any such thing?"

    The girl shook her head. "No, Your Grace. My uncle never spoke of business around us. He had a few trusted confidants, my father among them, but they were all killed during the attack." It looked like the idea that there was some hidden Peregrine fortune was news to the girl, and Vivienne believed her. Perhaps it was the new light she was seeing the De Angelis lord in, but she could imagine a narrative in which he knew there was money somewhere but spoke of empty coffers...that way, anything he did find could be entirely his, not tied at all in with the city's finances, and he wouldn't have anyone else looking for it.

    "So there was nothing to indicate anything was wrong, aside from a general roughness, and the absence of the Peregrines. When, and how, did you become aware there was a problem?" Vivienne was afraid of the answer, but there was no ducking this now. "And please, as with Lady Peregrine, I ask you to speak freely."

    ----
    @Seamus Hepburn

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