ee938 No.33943[Last 50 Posts]
The bump limit for the previous threads was close enough I felt creating a new one may be warranted.
Beginning thread: http://pregchan.com/d/res/12251.html
Sir Edward of Virilia, a young and handsome aristocrat is called upon to select his bride to be. He is presented with a selection of nobleladies from various Kingdoms who are desperate to be bred. He selects Crown Princess Tharja of Ruhemania, travels to her home country, and takes his place as her father, King Vlad's, heir.
Second thread: http://pregchan.com/d/res/14131.html
Crown Prince Edward, now realizing the country has many details that weren't told to him when he selected his bride, finds himself struggling to grow accustomed to castle life, learn the secrets of the country's history, and discovers all is not what it seems.
Third thread: http://pregchan.com/d/res/15553.html
Crown Prince Edward realizes he was cursed from the start. He confronts who is responsible and must make a choice that will affect the direction of the entire country, all in the same, long, sleepless night.
Fourth thread: http://web.archive.org/web/20160412094726/http://bbw-chan.net/elite/res/536.html
King Edward now finds himself the undisputed King of Ruhemania, with many tools to use to decide how he will accomplish his reign. Chief among them is his relationship with the Infinite Golden Witch Beatrice, and what she is willing, and not willing, to do for him.
Fifth thread: http://pregchan.com/d/res/16909.html
King Edward learns much about what is a threat to him and what isn't, and the castle is temporarily set on its ear when a mysterious waif named Erika appears, asking to be invited inside.
Sixth thread: http://pregchan.com/d/res/24119.html
Life at the castle is becoming stable, and Edward juggles several projects at once to make sure it stays that way. A tower is being built to accommodate Beatrice, and a grand Summer Faire is being planned to endear himself to the hearts and minds of his new subjects. The plans slowly start to take shape, with the occasional situation to be dealt with along the way.
Please, use this chat thread for in-depth discussions, feedback, and emotional reactions:http://pregchan.com/c/res/4340.html
The new update will be posted shortly.
No need to imply what isn't true.
You doubt anyone will visit your tower, even with the relaxed order.
So you tell the guard you will be in your tower, but if someone who has valid business with you needs to ascend, they are free.
Another maid with your laundry or linen to change the sheets in your room, or some such thing would count as valid business.
The guard nods and tells you it's understood, Your Majesty.
You proceed up the stairs, with Margaret behind you.
Walking the stairs is unpleasantly tiring on your muscles, but it gives you time to think.
You wonder if the guard spreading rumors about an affair with Margaret would have affected her?
Possibly, though probably not.
It would probably be framed as 'The King took yet another beautiful girl to his chambers.' Margaret did have that allure to her.
The maids and soldiers don't seem to have duties that overlap much, and therefore likely no time to share gossip. Not to mention the maids consisted of mostly old women and the soldiers were your loyal soldiers.
Margaret was your personal maid, once.
She probably had tried to climb your tower in the course of performing her duties, only to be told 'The King has requested he not be disturbed by anyone, even a maid.'
Margaret would probably be savvy enough to understand the implication. Especially with how you were seen interacting with Beatrice.
–Yes, Margaret would've taken the command of 'don't let anyone ascend, except Tharja' as a sign you might be attempting to show her amorous attention.
Hopefully this will put her more at ease… or perhaps disappoint her.
Though that was probably too much to hope.
You push open the door to your chambers, and step inside, inviting Margaret in after you before you shut the door behind you both.
Your dirty laundry is gone, but your bed has not been made up yet, you note.
Margaret waits for you to take the initiative. Her face is professionally unemotional, but not cold.
You did invite her here.
It falls to you to get the ball rolling.
This may be the most nervous you've felt when alone with a maid.
Certainly, you have all the power compared to Margaret. You're King. Margaret is your subject and servant.
But the situation is… delicate.
It's not so simple as you deciding something and then telling Margaret what to do.
You have to see how willing she is to come clean with the problem and work with you to finding a solution.
If… that was even possible.
"Your Majesty," says Margaret.
She doesn't say it like a question, but she's clearly wondering what you intend to say.
You had to decide first how you were going to bring this up.
You could be blunt.
Just state openly that you overheard her talk with Elizabeth this morning.
It would definitely let you get to the point quicker.
It might be better to gradually bring up the conversation, indirectly, and only reveal what you know once she has mentally adjusted to the fact that you have more in mind than a quick apology for starting an 'orgy' right in front of her face.
That would definitely be the more subtle option.
However, if Margaret was being honest about wanting to return to her duties quickly, she might appreciate the blunt approach a bit better?
It'll waste less time than working your way up to it.
… Though you aren't sure the shock of being told so easily that the King was spying on her will pass quickly.
At any rate, you've stalled enough.
You decide how you'll start the conversation with Margaret and begin speaking.
>Be blunt and direct. You heard her conversation with Elizabeth in the servants' quarters this morning. You want to hear more about the situation and help remedy it.
>Be subtle. Begin with apologizing for the 'orgy', talk about herself and Elizabeth and the other maids, and gradually work your way up to the issues discussed in her and Elizabeth's conversation before revealing you overheard it.
Option one. It's his castle, he can go where ever he likes. Why should he hide the fact that he was in the servants' quarters this morning? Also: Subtlety really isn't Edward's strength. Let's be as open as we can, explain to her that we will treat Elizabeth (and the child that she now knows about) well, that we genuinely care for her and she need not fear for her.
I second this, but we can also add that we don't intend to make spying a habit.
We should definitely apologize for eavesdropping
>5 votes for option one, be blunt and direct, proceeding immediately to a discussion of Elizabeth and the problem she has.
>1 vote for option two, be subtle and build up to mentioning the content of the conversation you overheard.
Be direct with your eavesdropping and engage with Margaret for solutions without playing around or trying to be subtle.
You decide to be blunt.
Margaret, you begin to say.
You heard her having a conversation with Elizabeth this morning, when they were both alone in the servants' quarters before breakfast.
Margaret's eyes widen in shock.
But, only for a moment before she hardens her face.
"I'm… not sure I understand you, Your Majesty."
…You'll be a little more clear, then.
You tell her you were personally at the door. You weren't there with the intent of spying, but to check up with the head maid to make sure no corners were being cut when it came to preparations for the accommodations you're showing your guests to the Summer Faire.
Though you couldn't help overhearing their talk afterward when the other maids had cleared out and Elizabeth and Margaret were alone.
About how Elizabeth isn't contributing to the Faire preparations, and making herself a target.
Moreover that Margaret was comparing her to a mere… whore.
Margaret keeps her face blank, the edges of her mouth twitching.
You haven't summoned her to punish her, you go on to say. You don't think for a moment you can control what every last person in the castle says or thinks.
You wish you hadn't ended up eavesdropping, but you can't take it back now. For what it's worth, you apologize for that.
Elizabeth obviously has a problem.
You're willing to use your royal influence to help.
You just want to have an open discussion with Margaret about solutions… nothing else.
Margaret's eyes look disconsolate and downcast. She gives out the gentlest bit of a sigh. Then she speaks.
"All right. What do you propose, Your Majesty?" she asks, evenly.
Good. You knew it was a bit rushing it to be so blunt… but Margaret is smart.
She can handle moving past the emotions of the moment to get to the real problem.
You did have a few ideas in mind for how to solve Elizabeth's problem. The walk up the tower gave you plenty of time to think.
Margaret will be able to give you insight on what is most realistic.
Or maybe you can jog her own mental processes and she'll come up with something.
>The problem is Elizabeth may be targeted by other maids. Tell Margaret that if she's willing to name names, you'll see that the maids who are most a threat to Elizabeth are moved in their duties so they don't deal with her. –Or at least warned to knock it off.
>Elizabeth needs her own space. Offer to move her from the servants' quarters to take Daniella's old room. It's unpleasant, but it will save her from anyone putting 'a snake in her bed'.
>Elizabeth feels she can neglect duties Tharja doesn't give her. You can't take her position as Tharja's personal maid away and put her back in the hierarchy without opening Elizabeth up to abuse, but perhaps Elizabeth can still pitch in? Offer to ask Tharja to personally order Elizabeth to help out in the preparations. Then Elizabeth will still contribute, and the other maids will be satisfied she's carrying her weight.
>Margaret needs to be able to keep a close eye on Elizabeth. Offer to make Elizabeth an official 'assistant' for when Margaret teaches the new recruits. Margaret can keep an eye on her, then.
>Actually… you want to hear Margaret propose her own idea before you make your own.
>Something else. (Write-in.)
I'm gonna go with Option Three. If the other maids see that Elizabeth is still doing work, maybe they'll back off a bit. Might also need to explain to Elizabeth why this is happening, that she's not being punished, but explain it in a way so that she doesn't go off talking about the whats and whys.
Plus, given the options, I think this is the one Margaret would approve the most. Giving Liz MORE special treatment will probably only exacerbate the situation.
I'm going to agree here. Option 3 sounds best, and I think Margaret will pipe in if she has a better idea after our proposal.
I was hoping that Margaret might offer a suggestion first, but we're on the spot right now
While Option 3 seems the easiest route, I do wonder what Margaret's opinion on the situation is.
I'm for a mix of Options 5 and 3 (hear if Margaret has any ideas, if not then Option 3)
Unless Margaret has a better idea to present, I say option 3. Though we can ask her to let us know if Elizabeth does receive abuse from the other maids.
>7 votes for option three, ask Tharja to order Elizabeth to contribute.
>1 vote for a write-in of asking Margaret for her opinion, then suggesting Tharja order Elizabeth to contribute. (Close enough to option 3.)
Propose Tharja personally order Elizabeth to help the other maids with the preparations for the Faire.
It seems to you the real problem is Elizabeth feels she has the right to be lazy.
You can't detach her from being Tharja's personal maid… that would devastate Elizabeth and expose her to the same bullying you tried to protect her from in the first place.
However, the solution is simple.
Tharja will just order her to help the other maids in the preparations.
Then the maids will be satisfied she's pulling her weight, and Elizabeth's feelings and position will still be spared.
Margaret waits patiently as you speak, her face betraying no emotion except a slight moment her lips part when you mention 'bullying'. They quickly shut again and she remains calm throughout the rest.
What does Margaret think of your idea, you ask?
"… It is a fine idea that won't work, Your Majesty."
Margaret's eyes become downcast again.
"My sister has always been… scatterbrained. She easily forgets what to do, or needs to be reminded how to do simple things. We are both still new to the castle… especially compared to the other maids here. We are still in the process of learning how things are done."
–You can't argue with any of that. Elizabeth is a little slow-witted. Moreover, it would be at least two decades before Margaret and Elizabeth had experience approaching any of the older maids.
"She will likely make a mistake. When that happens, no one will have the power to correct her… unless Her Highness was to be in the same room overseeing her at the time."
… That would be asking too much. You can't expect Tharja to waste all her time doing that. Or that she would appreciate being disturbed when Elizabeth did mess up.
"Furthermore, Your Majesty… you will not know this, but to be a maid isn't something one simply learns. One has to be committed to it, every single day. Being a maid is knowing you will wake up, serve food, dust the rooms, scrub the floors, polish the stone and wood, clean the linen, wash the laundry, do the ironing, mend the clothes, shine the shoes…"
She closes her eyes.
"Day… after day… after day…"
Normally you would cut off any servant who would dared complain about their duties.
But it's clear by Margaret's tone she doesn't mean it as a complaint. She's honestly telling you what it's like to be a mere servant.
…You can't help but feel fortunate for your noble birth.
Margaret pauses, then opens her eyes and continues.
"Elizabeth has not had to do that. And she has not had to do that for some while. She does little but eat, sleep, carry your dishes, and bathe with Her Highness."
There's a slight hesitation before she goes on.
"She has forgotten the pains of a servant's work, Your Majesty. The sting of scrubbing one's hands until they feel raw, for example."
You admit, you noticed that. Elizabeth's hands still weren't near the level of unspoiled softness of Tharja's or Beatrice's, but they were certainly… daintier. She was a little fatter too, but that was to be expected with her pregnancy.
You sigh and tell her she doesn't need to say any more.
Margaret is right.
It's not going to be that simple.
You can understand, in some small way, why Margaret called Elizabeth your… whore.
You've gotten her too used to having sex instead of working. Even maids you impregnated back in Virilia didn't have as much sex with you as Elizabeth does. Though to be fair, the pool of fertile maids to draw from was much larger back then.
Being around Tharja no doubt helped exacerbate that problem, with her encouragement of her submission to you.
Was that unfixable?
Perhaps there was still a way to undo it.
>Elizabeth is your 'slave'. If you order her to work earnestly as a maid, she will. –Tell Margaret you will directly order Elizabeth to work hard. You can leave out the 'slave' part.
>There must be jobs the maids are neglecting in favor of preparing the castle. If Elizabeth is working on tasks without anyone around, she won't have to worry about the other maids punishing her for making a mistake. She can reacquaint herself to servant-life that way.
>It might be impossible to make Elizabeth work like a 'normal' maid again, but you still want to protect her. Shift the conversation to focus on finding ways to ensure that Elizabeth is protected.
>Elizabeth can't have simply forgotten how to be a maid. Press the issue with Margaret and suggest Elizabeth needs to be re-trained with the twins if that's the case.
>Something else. (Write-in.)
Combo of two and four, if possible. It sounds like Elizabeth could use the retraining, but keeping her out of the way of the other maids while doing that would probably be for the best.
Hey everyone, I realize this is a conversation so it's reasonable to think Edward can bring up multiple solutions and it's not too realistic to say "one choice makes it impossible to do the others," but let's try not to do write-ins that are "Do both option 1 and 2." It makes it potentially hard to count votes, since if I count it as a vote for both 1 and 2, then that's effectively giving someone two votes. That, or I literally count it only as a vote for "1 and 2," and then it's effectively taking away a vote because unless everyone jumps on with that option and doesn't pick up on it, I have to count it as a unique vote that isn't "1" or "2."
It's all right to say "option 1 with shades of option 2, if possible," because then I can count it definitely as option 1.
Please continue to vote.
Option 2, and ask Margaret if she thinks that will be sufficient.
Option 4, but maybe with more privacy?
I'm worried that Elizabeth will mess up the tasks that she's given for option 2 and create more work and more resentment against her
That's fair. Let's go with option 4, but with as much privacy as we can get, like >>34089
if it is plausible for this choice, something of a compromise between choices 2 and 4, caveated by something like Margaret perhaps having semi-regular scheduled meetings with Tharja to discuss how better to acclimate Elizabeth to her proper role in the castle at large? Aha, punnery.
>2 votes for option two, propose letting Elizabeth work on tasks by herself and return to doing regular duties that way.
>3 votes for option four, Elizabeth can't have forgotten everything. Propose having Elizabeth learn with the twin maids Margaret is teaching, then, if that's really the case. With notes to try to make it more private at least so as not to draw attention to it.
>1 vote for a combination of option of Elizabeth doing certain tasks privately, with some training with the twin maids mixed in, and private suggestions to Tharja on how she should guide Elizabeth's duties.
Push the issue if Elizabeth has really 'forgotten' how to be a maid, and how Margaret might make a good teacher for her then.
Poll closed. Update soon.
You have two issues, you say to Margaret.
One, you sincerely doubt Elizabeth has simply 'forgotten' how to be a maid.
She is scatterbrained, but they're both professional enough King Vlad had them sent to the castle, after all.
Margaret makes no move to reply, so you continue.
If she really has deteriorated to that level, then it sounds like Margaret could stand to instruct her, like she has with the twin maids.
You remember seeing Elizabeth working with the maids once while Margaret was teaching them, long ago. In a room that wasn't normally being actively cleaned, away from the eyes of the other maids.
That would spare Elizabeth any humiliation and let Margaret re-acclimate her to work.
The solution really can't be more complicated than that.
Margaret keeps her face steady, but you see the faintest hint of her nostrils flaring.
She's either angry at your suggestion, or…
"…Your Majesty heard this morning's talk between myself and my sister?" she asks. Her tone doesn't betray her emotion.
You nod. You already said that you did.
"Then Your Majesty should be aware my sister is not in the right state of mind to listen to me anymore," she says. "Therefore, any attempt by me to teach her anything will amount to nothing."
She did say something like 'I don't need you to tell me what to do'.
You suppose that might be a sign that having Margaret directly teach her would be… difficult.
"Furthermore, Lyla and Dahlia have both completed all the necessary training to act as maids. I am no longer 'instructing' them, simply directing them so they stay organized during the preparations."
–Who, you blurt out?
…Then, it occurs to you: those must be the names of the twin maids.
Margaret hesitates slightly before giving a nod.
You wonder which is the older one. You think of asking Margaret, before remembering they're twins and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference.
Besides that, you can't help but sigh.
You ask Margaret straight out.
What does she think can be done to make Elizabeth a proper maid again? Or at least act enough like one?
Margaret avoids your eyes, hesitating. There's a long pause before she answers.
"I don't think anything can be done… Your Majesty," she says.
She expected you to do nothing? This was a complete waste of time?
This meeting was turning out much more difficult than you anticipated.
Though you suppose that if there was some simple solution, Margaret would have done it already.
You wanted to think your influence could have an effect.
Especially considering your special relationship with Elizabeth.
You stand silently, hoping Margaret will at least think it over a little more.
…Is that it, you ask?
"That's it, Your Majesty."
>Fine. You wash your hands of the situation. Still, and perhaps Margaret can subtly spread this around the other maids: if something happens to Elizabeth, make it clear you will be very, very displeased.
>Margaret's being defeatist. Inform her you don't need her help. You'll do something on your own.
>Cheer her up and try to encourage her.
Such are the consequences of us favoring Elizabeth. And what will she think when other bellies eventually start to swell? *sigh* No easy answers indeed.
Still, let's encourage Margaret.
As the above poster said, Option 3. Also, echoing the sentiments of these maids have ended up being far more trouble than they're worth, and on obvious dramatic time-sink, but anyhow…enough venting.
>8 votes for option three, try to cheer Margaret up and try to encourage her.
Cheer Margaret up.
Poll closed. Update soon.
You really feel bad for Margaret.
You were responsible for this situation, however indirectly. It was beyond the power of your immediate influence to find a perfect solution. At the very least, Margaret thinks so. You're beginning to become convinced she may be right.
No doubt Margaret has been kicking herself over letting things get this bad as well.
You tell Margaret that… things aren't as bad as they seem.
There's a silver lining, if one looks for it. Always.
There's brighter things ahead, beyond this obvious rough patch.
Margaret looks at you with a confused expression.
"What… 'brighter things' are there, Your Majesty? …If I may ask."
… Now you've put yourself on the spot.
You'd better choose one thing to cheer her up with.
If you just start rambling a list off the top of your head, it won't sound sincere at all.
You try to remember what you know about Margaret and speak what's most likely to cheer her up.
>Elizabeth's position isn't bad. You will take care of her. Margaret can trust you to do that. Reassure her the maids have your attention, despite royal matters.
>Elizabeth's pregnant. In its own way, this will eventually let her focus on motherhood… and surely Margaret can find some joy in being an Aunt.
>Regardless of Elizabeth, Margaret is a competent, capable maid with a reputation to match. Remind Margaret she has a secure, stable position among the other maids, and her work is appreciated by them.
>Something else. (Write in.)
A reminder to please only pick one response. A write in is okay as long as it is not 'a combination of two/three choices'.
Option one. I still think that the way to Margaret's heart is to convince her that we treat her sister well.
Let's go with Option 1. It may not seem like much, but it would probably make Margaret feel better to know her sister will be taken care of (and I'm sure we'll find some way to give the head maid ye olde pink parchment sooner or later, so that will take care of some issues too).
Option 2 isn't going to fly, it reinforces the idea that we just see Elizabeth as a broodmare. Option 3 is bad too, Margaret isn't worried about herself but for her sister.
>"Do you know how hard you're going to have it?! I'm not going to be able to look after you!"
Margaret's afraid that her Elizabeth's life is going to be ruined, that she's going to be left rejected and alone with a child to raise. Option 1 is the best way - to reassure Margaret that we genuinely care about her sister as a person, and that she's not deluded to be putting her faith in us.
Option 1 is the only one that deals with Margaret's concerns about Elizabeth
But I'm also going to present the idea that if Elizabeth takes to motherhood well, she could land herself as head nanny.
We're going to need a lot of childcare in the castle, and fairly soon.
Great idea. And maybe Malon as a wet nurse? (Beatrice has the boobs for it, but most likely won't do it)
>10 votes for option one, reassure her that you will take care of both of them, especially Elizabeth.
>1 vote for option two, focus on Elizabeth's pregnancy and that Margaret will be an Aunt.
Reassure Margaret that the situation with Elizabeth has your attention.
Poll closed, update soon.
Margaret likes it when you pay attention to detail.
You remember the one time you impressed her with your intellect when you deduced who told her that Elizabeth had surrendered her virginity to you.
You tell Margaret that Elizabeth, and of course, her, are well taken care of.
Even if you don't have a plan that immediately solves the issue…
You aren't abandoning them both.
They both have a special place in your lives, even if you're King and have your own affairs to consider.
You're paying special attention to them both.
Margaret looks at you with wide eyes.
Her hand unclasps itself from behind her back and she raises it to touch at her collar.
…A rare nervous gesture, you realize.
Perhaps you came on too strong with saying they have 'a special place' in your life.
But you think Margaret was moved. Hopefully positively.
"I…" she starts to say.
Then, there's a knock on the door.
You suppose you did give the 'anyone with business can come up' sign to the guard.
You move closer to the door and call out to ask who it is?
It's your maid with your night-laundry and bedding.
She has an obligation to be there, so you let her in.
She sees Margaret, and makes her own surprised expression.
… It's all right.
Your bed is in the same state it was in when you entered, and neither of you have disheveled clothes or other signs you were doing anything sexual while you were alone.
No one would reasonably think you had been doing anything with Margaret. Her reputation is fine.
Margaret gives a little cough.
"Thank you very much for clarifying the situation, Your Majesty," she says.
Yes, of course. Any time, you say.
You have to speak a little more vaguely with the older maid there.
She doesn't say anything else.
Margaret gives a professional smile, holds the door, and you both exit the room.
You have no reason to stay there and watch the older maid work. You might as well escort Margaret down.
You let her march ahead of you.
You reach the bottom of the tower and pass by the guard waiting.
You exchange salutes, and you thank him for obeying your orders as you gave them.
He may have assumed you were taking her back to bed her anyway and not have allowed the older maid to ascend despite your order to the contrary.
Fortunately your guards are obedient and learned by now that you reward their loyalty.
You let Margaret walk ahead down the corridor.
–You can't help but feel a little disappointed.
You didn't discover a solution for Elizabeth's problem, nor did Margaret seem too re-assured.
Was that all a waste of time?
Of course not.
Elizabeth is going to be a mother of your children. It's important you consider her sister Margaret's feelings… even if she was a little frustrated.
… Was she frustrated though?
Your eyes watch her back as she walks off as if everything is normal.
Margaret seemed more frustrated in her talk with Elizabeth with you. She seemed more… sad, with you.
You weren't even sure that was the right emotion.
She likely hadn't wanted to really show her frustrations to you, in that case.
Well, you've put more than enough effort into the maid sisters' problems for the moment.
You're going to be late for your usual sparring and horse-riding sessions.
You can put off thinking about the maids until your meeting with the fat maid after your lunch.
You tell the guard you likely won't be back until evening, and step toward the direction of the barracks.
It's the opposite direction from where Margaret is going.
>No choice yet. Further update coming soon.
You have your normal spar. Or, rather, not normal.
The number of guards practicing in the fields has now dwindled down to the single digits. When you approach, they all stop what they're doing and wait for you, expectantly.
You ask them what's going on, and they hesitate to answer before one of them ventures a reply.
"Everyone else is learning new patrols for the Faire, 'Majesty… we were specifically left to practice because the senior guard knew you'd be coming and didn't want to disrupt your schedule."
That's… considerate of him, you suppose.
All of them are good opponents for you.
So you decide to let them all take advantage.
You take up a practice sword and announce, for those who remember, you'll be having another round of 'fend off the assassin'.
Each of them can take a weapon, rush at you with one swing, and you'll try to dodge and counter-strike.
It's a fun little game, and diversion, though you're not entirely sure its training value.
You think if you ever did meet a group of assassins, they would likely rush you all at once, and swing many times.
Still, the guards are openly enjoying it, and you're enjoying it.
…Even if you get knocked around a bit by the end.
>No choice yet, further updates coming soon.
Less soldiers means there's not as much need for weapons.
That means you feel comfortable in borrowing a shield, jousting lance, and having them carried for you to your stable.
You've ridden Eclipse once with his armor on, but now you're going to try it while you balance yourself with your weapons.
Eclipse will only tolerate you and Malon getting too close to him.
So that means you both spend some time fitting Eclipse into his armor.
It's not as hard as you thought.
You anticipated awkwardness, but Eclipse is truly a superior animal, and you've bonded quite well.
You take a few gallops and canters here and there, making sure to balance the reins in your shield-hand.
This will be how you joust during the tournament, with the exception that you yourself will be in armor.
Hopefully the added weight won't be too much of a burden for Eclipse.
You ride until you're confident, and return the animal to Malon's care.
Malon is especially affectionate with you today, daring to hold your hand and give you tender smiles, even when you're in the open.
Perhaps her pregnancy is making her more bold… or perhaps she's merely taking advantage of the fact there are less people around.
You decide to do so too, and steal a kiss from her lips.
She holds her body against yours, and you can feel her breasts pleasantly press against your torso.
Unfortunately, Eclipse needs attention after the exercise, otherwise you would gladly take Malon for a roll in the hay, literally and figuratively.
You tell Malon perhaps you'll come purely to visit her next time.
She blushes strongly, her face red as a ripe apple.
"I would love it, King… but you needn't neglect Eclipse on my behalf."
You ask her if she thinks Eclipse will grow apart and treat you roughly if you ignored him, and ask how long that would take?
"Oh, no King. You've spent enough time with him that he'll always recognize you as his master… horses have very good memories."
That's a relief.
You expect you may have to spend time away from Castle Valachia eventually. You'd hate to think you'd need to bother re-acquainting yourself with Eclipse each time.
You thank Malon for her hard work and leave her to it.
You go back inside the castle and find your way to the sitting room to take your midday meal with Tharja and Beatrice.
Margaret and Elizabeth are there as well.
Margaret makes no move to indicate how she felt about your talk with her in your tower. …But you expected that.
Elizabeth is also looking dutiful, the little lace collar around her neck.
Tharja greets you, then… sniffs.
"Were you… riding, my husband?"
…Oh, that's right.
You usually bathe after you ride, for Tharja's sake.
But the maids were so busy you forgot to bother one of them to draw you a bath.
You admit, you did visit the stable.
You'll wash before you attend to Tharja tonight.
She smiles devilishly, then whispers a soft 'thank you'.
>No choice yet. Further updates coming soon.
Your meal ends and you proceed to your meeting with the fat maid.
You prepare yourself to possibly make her squirm again to get all the details you need…
…only to find the person waiting for you is the older maid who has been assigned to take care of your room and laundry.
You start to ask why she's there before remembering you specifically ordered the fat maid to delegate the task.
Though, this has revealed something.
The fat maid wouldn't give a task like this to someone she didn't trust.
You had suspected that the maid who was ordered to take care of your personal needs was possibly a personal friend of the fat maid, being rewarded with an 'easy' job for her loyalty.
This proves it, you think.
You exchange greetings, and you set down to business.
Work is being made to fulfill the quota of rooms His Majesty requested. Thirty, no less.
However, the majority of these rooms were in moth-balls and needed to be properly prepared.
The furniture rolled out, arranged, cleaned and polished, the floors scrubbed, linen laundered, etc.
There is a lot of grime to clean out. This hasn't been done for literally decades.
You remember King Vlad's frugal spending habits and you don't doubt there are several years of neglect to some parts of the castle.
But you're still a little surprised to hear that this is the first time many of the rooms will be prepared for someone to actually use them. You'd think more of the castle had activity.
How many rooms out of the thirty are usually moth-balled, you ask?
The older maid hesitates.
"The majority, Your Majesty."
You cross your arms and ask again. You want an actual number.
There's another short pause before she answers.
"Twenty-nine, Your Majesty."
… You can't help but let out a small chuckle.
King Vlad only kept one room open for guests?
"It'd… be inappropriate to say if it was really His Majesty King Vlad's design, Your Majesty."
You wonder who that room went to… the number probably didn't include the room kept open for the Priest. Perhaps it was just in case of an emergency? You remember King Vlad had a so-called 'open' policy of allowing his subjects to ask his judgment in all issues to settle all disputes.
Possibly it belonged to one of his council who died.
–At any rate, you realize now you've given your workforce quite a task.
No wonder the fat maid was scrubbing the floors with them, and Margaret was so anxious to return to work after your meals.
…And Elizabeth so obviously standing out by doing nothing.
You suppress a sigh and concentrate on the task at hand.
At the rate of three rooms a day, and continuing from last week, the maids will have just enough time to get every room done.
It's likely your guests won't all arrive at once, however, so there will be a little leeway for them.
Just not too much. Once guests arrive the maids will be busy attending to their needs. Serving meals, cleaning up after them, laundry, etc.
The plan is to have one maid free to attend to each family, regardless of rooms that family ends up occupying.
One room with three people of the same family will get the same attention as three rooms shared by three members of the same family.
You're not sure if you like the sound of that.
Perhaps you should make a change.
The older maid insists that it won't be necessary. Dividing it up further would increase confusion over which maid has duties with which family. Especially if guests choose to move around for any reason.
You get the impression 'it also means less work for us' is implied.
You think it over.
You yourself had two maids looking after you when you arrived to the castle.
Was one per family really enough?
…Though you are royalty. And Elizabeth and Margaret were a special case.
You take a moment to mentally decide if you should make a change here, and tell the older maid.
>That's not enough. Instruct the older maid you insist on one maid attending to each occupied room, once the guests arrive.
>The planned accommodations are enough… but you want to personally inspect each room that is already done, to make sure it's up to standards you like.
>Both one maid per occupied room, and a personal inspection of each room already done.
>Enough micromanaging. Dismiss her, but with the reminder that you'll be hearing what your guests think when they arrive.
Option 4. We've meddled enough and the maids are putting in work. Let's trust them to get it done.
Option 4. No need for a maid revolt on our hands.
We already put the squeeze on the fat maid to get this done properly, and she knows we're paying attention. Making more demands of the maid corps at this point is counterproductive.
One maid per family is also a much fairer way of doing things. If some pompous family brings a million courtiers and hangers-on, that shouldn't entitle them to more service than those who keep their numbers to a minimum so as not to leech off our royal hospitality.
Option 4 - maids are for impregnating, not micromanaging.
>6 votes for option four, end the micromanagement of the maids and leave them with the reminder you're keeping an eye on them.
…Perhaps you've meddled enough.
There's no guarantee that changing their plans and making maids assigned per room instead of per family will result in a better experience for your guests. Nor that a personal inspection of a room will accomplish more than annoying them and slowing them down.
If you change too many things, the servants might start making their displeasure known to you.
You doubt they'd have the nerve to just stop working entirely, at least, but it's still a consideration. You don't doubt the maids could find subtle ways to register their displeasure.
You tell the older maid you've heard her explanation.
…And you agree.
One maid per family will be likely be enough. –Though you'll of course be aware if that situation changes.
The maid is an experienced servant, so she does not give a visible sigh of relief, but you can tell she's grateful. She gives a professional bow.
"Anything else, Your Majesty?" she asks.
You ask her to prepare a bath for you.
You still have to wash off the scent of the stables you picked up.
No doubt Tharja will appreciate it.
>No choice yet. Further update coming soon.
You take your bath, change into clean clothes, and leave the tub where it is. No doubt someone will take care of it eventually.
In the meantime, it's time to visit Tharja.
At least she always has time for you… and you her.
You step lightly on your way to Tharja's wing of the castle.
En route, you encounter Sully.
You have been ignoring her lately. Compared to the other fertile women, excepting the blacksmith's widowed sister from the peasant settlement, you likely have had the least amount of sex with Sully.
Perhaps it's time to change that.
But, before you can say anything to her, she starts speaking to you.
"King! I had something to ask you…"
The senior guard wants to reschedule Sully's post guarding the princess.
Right now, Sully only comes to guard it in the evening. Otherwise it's unguarded. That likely wasn't a risk with the castle in its current state, but with the Faire and so many guests, it could become a risk.
The senior guard therefore wanted to give guarding Tharja to a regular rotation. Meaning, a different guard every few hours, like your tower.
"If you'd rather I stay here throughout the day, I can do that."
In that case, she explains, she'd guard Tharja's wing throughout the day with only being relieved so she can take her meals and sleep.
There's a slight pause.
"…King," she adds, suddenly realizing it was probably a breach of etiquette to start speaking to you before you spoke up first.
You can't help but chuckle. You're not too preoccupied with that. Especially from Sully.
You've got something to consider.
Does Sully want to stay here, you ask?
She gives a little shrug.
"Guard duty is guard duty wherever it is, King… but if I go into the normal guard rotation, I could be put anywhere."
In other words, if you specifically needed to find Sully, it'd be more difficult in that case.
On the other hand, Sully is, technically, the 'runt' of the guards.
If someone did aim to force themselves into Tharja's wing, they might just overpower her.
Though, that'd be a personal attack against your family. A very serious crime. Should you expect that sort of travesty?
In terms of more base desires, if you still want an opportunity to try to impregnate Sully throughout the Faire, you'd better keep her as Tharja's dedicated guard.
Whether you met her again or not would be completely random, you think.
You think it over, and give Sully your answer.
>Sully's used to the job, and you trust her. She will be Tharja's primary guard throughout the Faire. Tell her to tell the senior guard that.
>You're not sure you want Sully to stand out. Have a normal guard schedule assigned to guard Tharja's wing.
>It's Tharja's wing. Tharja can make the decision. Let her decide.
I'd say Option 1. It's a post Sully is used to, and considering she will eventually be carrying Edward's child (if she isn't already), it would be easier for her to remain at one post than be sent who-knows-where around the castle.
Maybe we should look into ways Sully can become stronger in the future.
Option 2: we need to keep good image with the guards, and tharja is intent on arranging things. Sully should not be given special treatment, we already have that problem with Elizabeth
Option 2. We've already had preferential treatment bite us in the butt, and I would rather that not happen again, especially with the good rapport we have with the men in general. But we can at least tell Sully that we value her service.
I vote Option 3, seeing as it gives the appearance of non-preferential treatment from us, and still has the possibility of being able to find her on a regular basis, should Tharja choose her.
On another note, we could always have a second guard alongside Sully for the duration of the Faire, which would negate her small stature. Protecting the Queen (and King) should be a priority for the guards, of course.
I vote option 2 for the same reasons
We don't want another Elizabeth situation happening among the guards. Personally I don't think that Tharja will need that much protection, but better to be safe than sorry.
>1 vote for option one, have Sully keep her post.
>4 votes for option two, shift guarding Tharja's room to a normal guard schedule.
>2 votes for option three, let Tharja make the decision. (With possibly appointing a second guard with Sully.)
For the Faire, remove Sully from being the dedicated guard of Tharja's wing and instead establish a normal patrol schedule.
Poll closed. Update soon.
The situations with the soldiers and the maids are vastly different.
The maids are aloof, but aware you favor Elizabeth. –You'd favor Margaret too, if she were interested.
The soldiers however, with the exception of a few of King Vlad's loyalists, all love you. Sully's relationship with you was just a little more literal with your attempts to impregnate her.
You really don't want another 'Elizabeth problem.'
It's probably better to just have a completely professional guard rotation scheduled.
You tell Sully you have every confidence in her, but she needn't get bored guarding the exact same location all the time.
Tell the senior guard his plan is fine. Treat the princess' wing like any other place being guarded with a normal patrol.
It can return to the situation with Sully guarding Tharja in the evenings after the Faire is done.
Sully looks surprised, but nods.
"Understood, King. If we don't see each other until after the Faire…"
She hesitates, so you take the opportunity to interrupt her.
You might not, but who says they can't enjoy the time they have left with Sully guarding Tharja's wing?
You step closer, bringing a hand up to touch her face. Soft and feminine beneath her boyishly short hair.
Sully blushes at your boldness, making a little sound, and you can almost feel her heart skip a beat.
Would Sully like to come back to Tharja's room with you, you ask?
She nods, then nods again.
It has been some time since you gave Sully some attention.
This may be your last chance to implant your seed in her womb.
With that in mind, you lower your hand to hers and guide her inside the corridor.
You reach Tharja's room and knock for her to open it.
Your excited member is already starting to tent your leggings as the door opens.
>No choice yet. Further update coming soon.
Tharja is there, the torchlight from inside gently illuminating her from behind.
She smiles seductively which turns to a look of surprise as she sees you've brought Sully.
It occurs to you Elizabeth may be in there, but then, perhaps Sully would have known about it if that were so?
So you clear your throat and say you invited Sully to your bed tonight as a sort of send-off.
The Faire will necessitate a little more security, which means guards rotating the position throughout the day.
Tharja… frowns slightly, but nods.
"Oh, is that right? You'll be missed, Sully."
Hm. It seems Tharja would've preferred Sully be there instead of another guard.
Though you could have anticipated that. Sully at least is likely used to seeing Elizabeth and perhaps Beatrice come into the wing.
Well, it hardly matters. You're sure everyone will recognize Tharja on sight.
Tharja backs away from the door, letting it creep open further and allow you both to step inside.
You do so, but Tharja doesn't quite shut the door yet.
She stands there with her book in her hand, looking thoughtful.
"Would you like me to let you be alone together, my husband? …Sully?" she asks.
You haven't done it with both Sully and Tharja together yet.
You spare a glance to Sully's face.
Which would she prefer, you ask?
Sully scratches her head.
"I'm… honestly not sure, King. –Your Majesty," she corrects herself.
It's all right, you say.
A talk with your wife is private enough it doesn't need an extra level of formality.
Tharja's expression again becomes one of seduction, a playful little grin complimenting her face.
"May I? I'd do like to… observe… my husband exerting himself with his soldiers… physically…"
The double meaning is not lost on Sully, as her eyes widen at the innuendo.
"If… it really pleases ya, Yer Highness," she says, a little bashful.
Tharja looks to you, her face concerned.
"Though, I don't mind waiting in the library, my husband, if you really would rather be alone. It's really your choice."
All things considered, you'd rather…
>Two girls is better than one. Have Tharja stay with you for a threesome with Sully.
>You want to focus on Sully. Ask Tharja for a little time for you both.
Option one, for sure
THREEEEEEESOOOOOOOME! (That's option 1, if you can't tell.)
Option 1(make it intence!)
>8 votes for option one, have a threesome with Tharja and Sully.
>1 vote for option two, ask Tharja to wait and focus on Sully.
Have sex with both Sully and Tharja at once.
Poll closed. Update soon.
You don't see any reason to ask Tharja to leave.
You know Tharja has probably seen her naked at least once, as well.
The 'message' to you in the form of Sully's pubic hair being shaved was proof of that.
You tell Tharja she can stay, and gladly.
She responds to your reply with a big grin, licking her lips with her tongue.
Sully gives you a little smile, still looking quite bashful.
"I wanna thank you both… King… Your Highness."
Sully wraps her arms around Sully from behind, letting her arms droop down to her chest.
"Oh, you needn't thank us, Sully… it's the most natural thing in the world for my husband to implant his seed in every willing womb…"
You can't help but agree. Your cock does too, and you bite back another moan as it bobs against the confines of your leggings.
Sully shakes her head.
"Not that… or, not just that… but…" Sully pauses, face surprisingly shy.
"Being so trusted that you invite me into your private chambers like this… seeing parts of you no one gets to see like this… it's really an honor for just a lowly guard, King. …Your Highness. It's already an honor just to guard you at all, but…"
You hadn't thought of it that way.
Indeed, taking Sully back to Tharja's room was a little different from just taking her to a closet and bending her over.
You'd done that with Elizabeth, and you'd made a trip to the peasant settlement to bed the blacksmith's widowed sister, but…
Well, it's natural that Sully would be a little special.
Tharja leans her head over Sully's shoulder.
"You are very sweet, Sully…"
Tharja's tongue darts out, licking up Sully's cheek.
"I can tell how excited you are for my husband's cock… that's why we're proud to have you join us in our bed."
"P-Proud?" Sully asks.
Tharja gives a little moan.
"Mmhm… You're not just serving him with your womb, you're serving him with your whole body. Your breasts, your hips… Here, show them to us."
You watch Tharja run her hands along Sully's body from her hips to her chest… and she starts to work on undoing her clothing.
You decide to follow suit.
It takes longer than it would take Sully to disrobe herself, but her armor falls slowly to the floor.
…Watching her like this, it's like watching a masculine shell being broken to reveal a feminine center. Though it's less like a peeled fruit and more like a walnut being gradually broken apart.
You set your sword aside and start to strip yourself as well. By the time you're out of your boots, Tharja is putting Sully on the bed and removing hers.
"She's ready for you, Edward," Tharja purrs, gently encouraging Sully to spread her legs by kneading her thighs.
"Arch your back, Sully, it'll make it easier for him to penetrate you."
Sully rolls herself back on her shoulders, pushing herself up by her feet and arching her back.
Of course, with her naked and her legs spread and crotch pointed toward you, it's downright obscene.
You can see her pussy plain as day in the torchlight, and even the crack of her ass in the curves of her bottom.
Sully's trim and fit, so it's easy for her trained muscles to hold her body like that for you.
You don't think most women could manage that, for long. Even Malon, who is used to hard work, would probably be too busty for it to be comfortable.
Tharja takes her free hand, the one not holding her book, and licks her fingers, before reaching out to glide those digits over Sully's exposed labia.
You watch Sully arch herself even more, letting out a little 'ah!' in surprise.
"Oh, she's hot to the touch down there too…" Tharja smiles at you.
"What are you waiting for, my husband?" she asks.
Not wanting to be out done, you step over to Sully, tell her to keep herself arched a little longer, and lean in to lick her slit more directly.
The hair growing back is longer now, but it's easily navigated as you stroke Sully's lips with your tongue, leaving it wet with your saliva, feeling her buck against your face.
She's… ready, you realize.
And so are you. You felt your pre-cum practically dripping into your leggings before you could pull them off.
"K-King…" she moans.
… You mustn't make her beg.
You climb on to the bed with Sully, mounting her beneath you.
>Further update soon.
Don't be a whiny lil bitch. We're lucky that Aristo wants to spend their time writing this for us.
You both let out mutual moans of pleasure as your manhood slips into its intended destination: Sully's wet, tight vagina. You watch Sully arch her neck as the feeling of penetration hits her.
You stare down at her short hair and her boyish face and are again faced with the novelty of the two conflicting feelings of seeing a face that is groomed to be masculine and yet…
…Her pussy is as receptive and inviting to you as any other fertile woman's.
Soon, it will take and grow your seed.
In the meantime…
Sully recovers from the initial reaction to your intrusion, her lips turning up at you in a blissful smile.
"King…" she moans.
This was how you imagined having your own Kingdom would be like.
Every woman eager to climb into bed with you, each of them moaning their desire for you.
Each of them ready to bear your children.
You press a kiss to Sully's lips.
She closes her eyes and kisses you back, and you lose yourself in the sensation.
Your hands find her hips, and you press down on the small of her back, encouraging her to arch herself against you.
There was only one way you were going to breed her, and that was if you started thrusting.
She gets the hint and does so, a strong abdomen meeting yours. She is getting stronger, you note, now that she's been properly training.
You thrust your hips forward, spearing her folds with your cock. Deep, needy thrusts.
It's been a long day, and you've needed this.
Not just the sex, but also to know that you're impregnating a girl with the sex.
You let out a little gasp, breaking your kiss with Sully.
Sully's wrapped her legs around your waist, her arms around your back.
It's a tight enough grip you couldn't help but wince in surprise.
"Give me your baby, King," she says.
You won't disappoint.
You rock your hips, pulling out of Sully before thrusting yourself back in again.
You can't be that gentle with Sully wrapped around you like she is.
She practically pulls you inside her again when she realizes you're pulling back.
It's hard, and strenuous, but you find a rhythm together. Both externally in your body movements, and internally with her crevasse gripping and contracting around your cock.
She really does… want this.
You feel a pang of regret in not taking Sully back to Tharja's room with you more often, or establishing a routine with her like you did with Beatrice.
–Well, there's nothing to be done.
It was natural that all women wanted you. If Sully doesn't get pregnant this time by some fluke, then you will have after the Faire to see her pregnant.
The exercise is also welcome after the more relaxed session with the remaining guards.
You can feel the sweat building on your brow as your mutual moans fill Tharja's enclosed little room.
Sully moans with delight as you increase your pace and pound her further into the bed, your hips thrusting your cock through her labia lips as precise as a blacksmith would hammer his steel.
The friction of your penis enveloped in her sex and your bodies slapping together builds to your ultimate goal: your orgasm.
Sully lets out a pleased little squeal.
At the same time, you feel her vaginal walls squeeze you, you feel her arms and legs squeeze you.
…It seems Sully beat you to orgasming first. Perhaps the first real spar you 'lost' to her?
Though you're not far behind.
You let out your own primal shout of ecstasy as you feel your groin muscles tighten and contract. The pleasure of your manhood sheathed in a fertile female's pussy coax you to the brink of letting out your cum…
And then, with one last thrust… you do.
You continue sliding your cock inside her as your testicles contract, forcing their load up and out your manhood, until you're spurting deep inside Sully's fertile love canal.
You haven't cum yet today, so your spurt is exceptionally potent. You let out five strong ropes deep inside her pussy, your seed on its way to taking root in her womb.
You stop supporting yourself with your arms and fall on top of her, eager for the closeness.
Your bodies intertwine in a sensual duel of sorts as you both roll on Tharja's bed.
Her little breasts press against your muscular chest as you hug her close.
You moan Sully's name, finding her lips with yours.
Your tongue presses through her parted lips as you claim her mouth for your own.
The hard, wet muscle wrestles with hers as you both recover from your shared bliss.
Sullys legs still trying their best to hold on to you, her hands running through your sweat-streaked hair.
…Well, there you go.
You knocked up Sully.
You can't wait to see the female soldier with her own big belly.
Maybe you should commission some belly armor for her in a few months… something with leather straps to allow room to grow.
You eventually separate, for air, and want of your muscles burning.
A bit of your cum runs out from her pussy after you pull out, running down her opening and making her shudder.
It's remarkably cute, and you let out an 'aww' and press another kiss to her cheek… then to her lips.
You break off your make-out session with Sully.
Wasn't something missing?
You look over to Tharja and see her watching you both.
She's still naked, save for her circlet, and the book in her hand.
Wasn't she going to join you both, you ask?
Tharja blinks, and you realize now she was flushed.
"Oh… yes, my husband, but you both seem so occupied… I thought it best not to interrupt your… duel."
You can't help but remember when Tharja spectated that one time, you told her she shouldn't let out a sound while watching.
This was… a little different, perhaps.
Still, you thank Tharja, and hold out your hand to invite her to join you both on the bed.
She smiles bewitchingly and does so, gently taking your hand with hers.
You can't help but embrace her, giving your wife her own kiss.
You spend the next ten minutes or so cuddling with the two girls.
Sully's relaxed and talking openly with Tharja there. You feel comfortable seeing that. It means Tharja and Sully's relationship has always been good.
"I can't wait to get pregnant for you, King! And… for our child."
She pats her belly, smiling, her face flushed with the joy of future motherhood.
It's a picture that makes you grin ear to ear seeing it.
Tharja's smiling too.
"Yes… aren't you lucky, Sully? You're the only one who can handle a responsibility like that," Tharja says.
You look at Tharja, puzzled.
Sully does too.
You… can't help but point out you've impregnated quite a share of women.
Certainly it must be no secret to Sully. She was guarding your tower for some time. She's seen you take Elizabeth and Beatrice to your room and Tharja's.
Sully gives a little nod.
Tharja tilts her head.
"Yes, but Sully's the first man you've impregnated, isn't she?"
You're… a little nonplussed. Both at calling Sully a 'man' and also following it up with 'she'.
Sully, for her part, scratches the back of her head.
Tharja blinks her eyes.
"You swore an oath to become a man to serve in the army, didn't you, Sully?" she asks.
Sully looks down, embarrassed.
"Well… yes," she says.
"Right. That makes you a man. Obviously, a man with breasts, a vagina, and a womb, and one who can get pregnant, but still a man nonetheless."
You can't help but remember that's how the senior guard described Sully's oath. It was technically an oath to 'throw away' her womanhood. Not marrying and serving like a man was just… the result?
But it's obviously not that literal, you think. It was just ceremony.
You watch Sully look down at herself.
"I guess that's what happened…?"
Tharja takes her hands.
"Then, I'm right aren't I? You've got a responsibility none of the other soldiers can match… because you're the only one who can get pregnant."
Sully looks like she's halfway to being persuaded by Tharja's idea.
You know Sully is fascinated with your cock, and had asked you a lot of questions about what it was like to have one, but…
Isn't this going a step too far?
You think Tharja might be getting over-excited and projecting some conception on Sully. –It wouldn't be the first time she's done so, really.
You dealt with that when Elizabeth asked to be your 'slave'.
Maybe it was Elizabeth's feelings that pushed her to make the request, but that was clearly Tharja's idea. This might be something similar happening with Sully.
Though, this time you're present and you can actually do something about it.
Then again, should you?
If Sully really wants to call herself a 'man,' is that so bad?
It's a little weird to think that way, but it's not like it would change anything.
–Maybe she'd try to look and act more 'manly' than she already does.
It's clear from your interactions up to this point, despite the exact words of the oath, that Sully thought of herself as a woman who groomed herself masculine and did activities with men… but still a woman. If you let Tharja keep talking, Sully will probably walk away more firmly thinking of herself as a man.
In that case…
>This is a bit too far. Stop Tharja from persuading Sully that the oath was more than metaphorical. It's all right if Sully is female and a guard.
>Let Tharja talk. See if Sully wants to adopt being a man with a womb.
I am not sold on the idea yet, but Tharja hasn't said what this would actually mean for Sully (and Edward's relationship with her). As long as we talk about playing word games, I don't care. I'm only interested in Sully's breasts, pussy, womb and what Edward can do with/to them.
Option 1, because Tharja's just being too literal-minded.
>6 votes for option one, stop Tharja from persuading Sully of such a literal interpretation of her oath.
>1 vote for option two, let Tharja talk Sully into thinking of herself as a man.
Poll closed, update soon.
You're not sure what exactly Sully thinking of herself as a man with a womb would do her outlook. Or her behavior, or her relationships with the other guards.
But you can't help but think that Tharja is running away with her own idea regardless of what Sully thinks.
You'd better nip this in the bud, so to speak.
You clear your throat.
Tharja stops talking and both girls look at you.
Sully may have indeed sworn an oath to 'throw away her womanhood,' but it was symbolic, not literal. Of course, Sully is a woman. No oath can change that.
She's required to live like all the other men, as a soldier, but it doesn't make her a man.
Women can have 'dangerous' skills too.
You've known women who have worked as mercenaries, private guards, hunters…
…you almost say 'sailors,' before remembering that was simply a pleasant dream you had.
The point is, there's no need for Sully to change.
Tharja's lips curl in a little pout, obviously sad you've spoiled her 'fun'.
Sully, meanwhile, looks like she's come out of her trance.
"Haha! …Yeah, I mean, my grandfather… from what I understand, everyone thought of him as 'a man,' but I don't need to… completely be like him."
She says before blushing.
Looks like she's laughed off how seriously she was taking Tharja's words as a joke.
Tharja tilts her head at Sully's statement.
"Your grandfather, Sully?"
That's a good starting point for something new to distract Tharja with.
You'd rather not have your after-play spoiled with Tharja feeling disappointed.
You prompt Sully to tell the story of her 'grandfather' to Tharja.
You've heard it, but she hasn't.
>No choice yet. Further update coming soon.
You thought it was a good idea, but…
Sully just plain doesn't have enough details about her grandfather's life to make the story that detailed.
She doesn't know where he originally came from. She doesn't know what battles he fought in. She doesn't know when he swore his version of the oath or how many other people were like him.
All she knows is he gave birth to her father during a battle, then died before the war was over.
Tharja tilts her head, curious.
"How was your father raised if your grandfather died in battle?" she asks.
Sully blushes, embarrassed, squirming uncomfortably.
"I guess… grand-dad must have passed him off to someone else in the family? I don't know…"
You reach over and pat your wife's hand.
You understand she's curious, but it's clearly a subject very dear to her heart. Asking for details she just doesn't know was only going to upset her.
It is sort of tragic in a way.
You knew your own family's history. Quite extensively. There were books in your Father's library dedicated to them.
But then, you were nobility and your Father was Duke.
Sully was just a commoner. No matter how interesting her story, it was unlikely anyone cared beyond her.
The child you give her can learn, you suppose.
While you're being melancholy about it, Tharja moves on to grinning, lasciviously.
"Sully… were you hoping to be impregnated, like your grandfather?"
You'd be surprised if Sully didn't answer 'yes' to that question, now that things had progressed to how they were.
Sully somehow manages to blush even more. Her cheeks tinged red visible even in the flickering torchlight.
"I– I– I gave up on ever being married, Your Highness, but… I thought… maybe it would just… 'happen'…"
Tharja goes 'aww,' then starts making soothing noises to calm Sully down.
"I just never expected it to be by… royalty, or a wonderful man like the King," she says, quietly.
You can understand that.
King Vlad was… hardly in any position to make Sully pregnant.
And the previous Prince had met a sad end.
"I think I should get back to guarding, if it pleases your both, King, Your Highness," she says, recovering.
Yes, you would appreciate some time alone with Tharja.
You exchange an embrace with Sully before she goes, pressing a passionate kiss to her lips and giving her belly a little rub.
You tell her you're glad to know her, and to take care patrolling during the Faire.
Tharja takes her hands too.
"Yes, Sully. When you come back, I want to hear if you've bled since then. If not, you may be able to start celebrating!"
Sully smiles, but still averts her gaze, looking down with uncharacteristic shyness.
Sully impulsively give you one last hug, then starts putting on her armor again.
You hold it in plae to make it a little easier, before she salutes and leaves you both alone.
Tharja has to rise and unlock the door for her, then she locks it again afterward.
For a change of pace, you decide to do it with Tharja while she's standing up.
Or at least, only partly.
You have her bent over her table and pound her viciously from behind.
Tharja's more than ready for such rough treatment, and her pussy squeezes against your cock with every thrust.
The sound of your thighs slapping against her hindquarters fills the room. Your balls swinging freely.
It… really is good to take her like this.
Her pussy is a perfect match for your cock.
Of course it should be, you trained it like that.
You let out enough seed that when you pull out, it drips to the floor.
Fortunately, Tharja's already pregnant so you don't have to worry as much about a little spilt seed.
Sex while you're both standing up is tiring, though.
She turns to embrace you, and your arms find each others, and soon your lips.
You tumble onto her bed with her as you both rest and catch your breath.
You can feel her book press against your back as she grabs you.
…You're actually worried about possibly hurting it, but Tharja doesn't seem worried.
About an hour later, you're done with your sexual activity more or less and are both embracing and chatting about each other's day.
Tharja has herself wrapped in your arms, enjoying your muscular chest and toned physique. Her hair soft against your skin.
You can't hide your curiosity.
Why did Tharja want to talk to Sully about… being a man with a womb?
You watch Tharja give a little shrug of her head.
"I thought about her oath, recently… and I remembered my own ritual… you know… that I performed, way back when?"
"If completing that ritual made me a witch, didn't it make sense that Sully's oath made her a man? …That was what I was thinking," she explains.
You're not sure you even have any argument against that line of thinking.
Surely, King Vlad had to give his consent to it directly. That would add a little bit of authority to Sully's… 'ritual', so to speak.
You let out a sigh.
Tharja's ritual had literally turned her into something different. Something… beyond being human, so to speak.
Sully's oath of course wasn't going to literally make a penis and balls sprout from her groin.
You understand Tharja's reasoning, now.
She wanted to feel a little more of a connection with Sully… a little more like she 'wasn't alone' in having changed herself.
That's why she talked with Sully like she should think that way too. That maybe Sully's outlook would have made it more 'real'.
,,, You feel bad, but at the same time it was, at least a little, Tharja projecting her own desires onto Sully.
You stroke Tharja's hair and ask if she's upset you interrupted?
She holds you tighter.
"No, I could never be mad at you for something like that, Edward. You weren't wrong…"
She bats her eyes and you can feel her eyelashes tickle your chest.
"Just forget about it, darling."
You don't mention your encounter with Elizabeth or Margaret.
It'd be asking too much for Tharja to intervene at this point.
You spend some time rubbing Tharja's belly, but unfortunately she still hasn't developed a bump.
"I check myself every morning, my husband… I hope it'll be soon."
You do as well.
It'd be a lovely occasion to remember, along with the Faire.
Not to mention the joy of watching her grow bigger and bigger over the months.
You spend a little more private time with your wife.
Being with Tharja, your one true love, lifts the pressures of the day from your shoulders and makes you less anxious for the future.
Of course, Tharja enjoys it too.
You decide to separate and return to your room to sleep.
Tharja wishes you a pleasant night and says she'll see you at your morning meal together tomorrow.
"Good night, my love…"
You hold hands and share one last kiss.
Your fingers both entwine around your respective wedding rings and you feel even more connected.
Tharja unlocks the door and lets you out, making sure to lock it again.
You have to hold your hand to the wall as you go because the night has fallen and there are no lit candles.
You at least remember to move your hand so as not to disturb the portrait of you and Tharja.
Once you're outside, you can take a torch to make your way to your room, at least.
You salute Sully again, and she gives you an emotional smile with her return salute.
The soldier at the bottom of your tower reports no suspicious activity, so you climb your tower and make your way to bed.
>No choice yet, further update coming soon.
The next day you pay a visit to Ricardo.
Even if you declined to intervene directly in what he was up to in favor of checking on the maids, it really is to your benefit to know what is going on.
You see another real sign that your castle is changing in preparation for the Faire: there are guards there guarding the entrance to the treasury.
What a novel concept, you can't help but muse. Guards in front of the room that holds your country's wealth.
Of course, they recognize you and greet you with a cheerful salute, stepping aside to grant you access.
As you proceed down the steps, you hear something unfamiliar to you since you've arrived at Ruhemania.
The clinking of coin.
You proceed further and see… Ricardo.
It's perhaps the most active you've seen him. He isn't sitting in some chair with his hand busy writing, he's standing and counting out barrels full of coin. A wooden scoop in one hand, and a pouch in the other.
Furthermore, he has a soldier with him. One of the older guards, though not the one you humiliated that day.
"Sixty-three… Seventy-three…" he intones.
You decide not to interrupt, but the soldier salutes you, which prompts Ricardo to bow as well, mid-count.
"Greetings, Your Majesty…"
His tone is much more formal than you've heard him use toward you in a while. Your surmise that it must be because you have an audience.
Still, you tell Ricardo he needn't bow too low, in consideration for his age and the fact he seems to be busy working.
Does he have time to talk? You stress the matter is not urgent, and you appreciate the attention to the job that he gives.
"Not at all, Your Majesty… I was just finished."
Ricardo deposits the coins and hands off the pouch of coin he was collecting to the guard.
"Remember… one each."
The guard nods, and departs without a word.
… That's odd.
Exactly who is Ricardo collecting coin for?
You aren't sure there are revelers here at the castle or any other sort of merchant, yet… and even then, wouldn't they be paid after the Faire?
If it was an amount he was setting aside for use in the future, he wouldn't have given it to a guard with instructions on how to distribute it.
–Was it for the Church?
The easiest way is to just ask him.
"Let us perhaps move to the side-room I have, Your Majesty. Sound has a way of traveling in the open like this."
–He has a point. You trust the guards upstairs, but they needn't hear whatever you end up discussing with Ricardo.
He opens the door to the other room for you, the one you had your first 'friendly' talk in, those weeks ago when King Vlad was still alive.
>No choice yet, further update soon.
You step into the back room with your master of coin.
Ricardo carries with him a candle, one purely for lighting purposes, and not the one you use for wax seals every week.
He sets it aside on a counter while you both talk.
No sense not being direct.
You ask Ricardo what that exchange was about?
You hope the Church isn't asking for more 'friendly' donations, the likes of which you already made.
Ricardo shakes his head no.
"Nothing like that, Your Majesty… that was just a little, shall we say, 'greasing the wheels' before the festival begins."
…You don't follow.
Ricardo smiles, looking rather smug.
"I've calculated the arrival of the bulk of the Faire merchants, revelers, and guests will be arriving soon. I arranged for the workers who are being paid to construct your tower would be able to receive their payment for their services in advance…"
He goes on to explain his little scheme.
The workers have been given permission to cease work on the tower project to participate in the Faire.
It was simply asking too much of them to ignore what would be going on.
"They would simply sneak off to join in, otherwise. It's much better for a temporary planned stoppage instead of unforeseen complications."
He explains the architect concurred, and did not expect the break to catastrophically set the schedule for its completion behind enough that it wouldn't be completed before winter.
Your approval isn't worth much now, but you suppose it is the natural conclusion.
You didn't want to risk slippy masonry from the workers because they were distracted by the Faire.
Not to mention that you're aware King Vlad never held celebrations.
This is likely the only revelry the country has gotten to enjoy in many years, if not decades.
"Furthermore, men without coin are simply unable to purchase anything…"
Therefore they would receive coin for their payment of working on the tower in advance.
This would encourage them to spend it at the Faire, making sure the merchants make a tidy profit, and the castle will be richer for it.
"We're getting a commission from them," Ricardo explains.
Interesting… you remember Ricardo had a similar scheme back at your coronation. Taxing the peasants, then returning it to them as a 'gift'.
It strikes you as similar to fishing a trout, then returning it to the river still alive. That is, something pointless.
"Oh, there certainly is a point, Your Majesty. This way, we will end up with the treasury in much better condition than it would otherwise be."
He reminds you that before the Faire, all money in the treasury was ear-marked to be distributed as payment. You technically speaking had no real 'coin' to spend anymore.
"At least until someone showed up to pay their taxes," he adds.
With this, he expects accounts to balance with two-tenths of the treasury full.
… You can't help but feel a pang of anxiety.
Was it really that simple?
He explains that to get that money, the peasants had to surrender their taxes a little earlier than planned.
Peasants don't pay in coin, typically, unless they were skilled peasants such as the blacksmith. Those had paid in coin.
However, the farmers and laborers paid in more of their crops and other yield.
…And in exchange, what was given to them, you ask?
Ricardo tilts his head.
"Nothing… except the gratitude of them having paid their taxes."
So, Ricardo had basically robbed the peasants to enact this scheme?
"There is no 'robbing' of peasants, Your Majesty. They pay their taxes and they can hardly argue."
…You'd highly doubt a peasant could do simple arithmetic, let alone the calculations Ricardo does.
But, then, if they had to surrender more of their crops than usual, then what will they eat?
Enough was left for them to sustain themselves… right?
Ricardo gives you a little bit of a bewildered look.
"Your Majesty, it's simply for the sake of the Faire… they'll hardly starve. Food will be available to them."
He explains food, with the exception of exotic trade goods, would be offered freely throughout the Faire. Even if the peasants had surrender enough that they wouldn't eat heartily 'now,' that would soon change.
You're not sure you like this.
You… wanted to at least do right by the peasants of Ruhemania. Your subjects, as it were.
…It would also do you joy to know you were proving Daniella's condemnation wrong.
You ask Ricardo, was it too late to reverse this, potentially?
You could still run and get the guard. Before he handed over the gold.
Ricardo coughs, uneasily.
"That was only one of many payments, Your Majesty… and besides, the guards have already 'collected' the taxes from the peasants."
It… made sense that the peasants wouldn't just readily hand over more than they were used to paying.
Ricardo had called in some of the guards to go to the peasant settlement to make sure the 'tax' was paid.
Come to think of it, you had thought it strange that there were so few guards left to spar with.
It seems 'learning new patrols' was not the full extent of the story. Obvious in hindsight.
If you had talked to Ricardo, the architect, or possibly even the peasants, you might've discovered this in time to do something about it.
But it sounds like Ricardo's plan is already in motion and any intervention would be counterproductive.
…You convince yourself it's for the best.
A little had to be sacrificed to protect the greater good, sometimes.
So the peasants go hungry for a few days. They'll hardly be the first peasants who ever went hungry for a while.
It was the same as if a harvest didn't yield as much as anticipated.
Enough about that, you announce.
Ricardo's done his job. And his job is to make you more coin.
Still, you'd prefer if he had run it by you before he got so… creative.
Ricardo bows his head.
"Apologies, Your Majesty, but this is a rare opportunity… and time was of the essence."
You understand, that's why you're not doing anything more.
It was by your command he create a lavish Faire, after all.
You ask Ricardo, though.
What should be your role in the Faire?
The castle seems to be running smoothly, but you're not sure what you'll be doing throughout.
…There's no one to 'tell you' what's expected, really.
Beyond the talking to the priest gave you, but Ricardo doesn't need to know about that.
"When it comes to the Faire, Your Majesty, I imagine you'll have several options…"
There will be a number of performers brought to the castle. Moreover, the coin you've offered to see them ensures they'll be the most talented in all of the land.
Animal trainers, bards, performance troupes, dancers, poets, mummers…
They'll be very eager to earn your favor. Performing for the King will be a great honor. Earning your favor though their performance would let them gain prestige unmatched. Of course, your noble guests will enjoy the spectacle as well.
What if you run out of entertainers, you ask?
Ricardo shakes his head.
"That won't happen… we've promised too much coin for that."
Wonderful. That was a solid option.
Ricardo says you're also always free to go out into the courtyard and enjoy the festivities up close.
The merchants set up to offer their goods will likely offer the best of what they have to offer to you to try and sample.
Similarly to the entertainers, your simple approval would be a great boon to them. Even more so if you actually placed an order for some of their wares.
"I've prepared enough coin to satisfy your wants in that regard… within reason, Your Majesty."
That's too vague for your ears. What does 'within reason' mean, you ask?
Ricardo gives a little stroke of his mustache.
"Anything you buy as a personal item will be paid for. If you want to fill the entire castle with such things… that is more difficult."
If you bought an exotic type of weapon, food, or other luxury for your personal use, for example, that would be fine.
If you wanted to buy up a stock to fill the entire castle, that's probably impossible.
"They will be eager to provide you with samples, of course."
You nod. All right, that was another option… go out among the revelry.
"Seeing as we have the Father visiting us, if you organized some religious service for yourself and your guests, he would likely appreciate it."
Yes, you had already been… informed Tharja and Beatrice were expected to attend and give at least one confession.
Expressing your piety was always worthwhile, you think. –Though perhaps you'll put it off until you can check on your witches and make sure they're ready to pass for true believers.
"Incidentally, Your Majesty, there is one issue I need to be informed of your will regarding…"
"The little matter of the jousting tournament."
You nod. How could you forget? You were practicing and training your riding skills constantly.
Ricardo explains he was asked to provide a material prize for the winner.
If, that is, you approved of such a thing.
"You're free to make up your own idea… or offer nothing at all, of course."
You have to consider the contestants.
It would likely include the nobles who were inclined to participate, and you know some guards have already asked permission to attend.
You'll be entering the contest as well. You have to imagine you yourself just might win. You'd like to think you have a chance, at least.
There was also the consideration that you made the tournament an anonymous affair. You had no way of predicting who would actually win.
What prize should the tournament offer?
You could offer gold, or perhaps some sort of trophy.
…It's probably too late at this stage to have a trophy specifically made for the occasion. But…
You look around in the room and know Ricardo must be hiding the jewelry the castle has somewhere in here. It was probably enough to select some trinket.
There was another option.
It'd be a tremendous honor to whoever won. If it was to a commoner, it would effectively make them lower nobility. That wasn't necessarily scandalous, but it would place them on a level above their previous standing.
A Knight would be expected to be a true representative of the ideal military fighting prowess, especially mounted. It would be an appropriate reward for a jousting tournament, you think.
Though it'd be awkward if you wound up winning. You're not sure what the standards are for a King knighting himself.
…You suppose in that case you'd simply Knight the runner-up.
That means you should offer as a prize…
>Gold is a good enough prize. Instruct Ricardo to award coin to the winner… not a ludicrous amount, but enough for the winner to enjoy themselves with at the Faire.
>Gold isn't meaningful enough. There must be something in this storeroom that could be used as a trophy. Ask Ricardo to show you all the valuable jewels and other tokens he keeps hidden back here. You'll pick something out to be awarded to the winner as a token of their victory.
>A material prize sends the wrong message. The winner will receive a Knighthood.
>The glory of winning is enough. No prize other than hearing the cheer of the crowd.
I really like the idea of the knighthood. But maybe that's because I watched 'A Knight's Tale' too many times as a kid.
Just to be sure, this is a definite vote for Knighthood?
I always strive to be sure about the votes and separate it from wondering how to vote. Please be clear with your votes, everyone.
I too love "A knight's tale". Knighthood it is!
I am not sure how a peasant will view this, however. A knight is typically expected to find a way to pay for his own expanses. That's why knights are thought of as part of the nobility. It simply does not make sense to become a Knight unless you have a wealthy family to support you. (And that's also where "black knights" come from: If they don't have the money, some knights turn to robbery as a way of obtaining money)
So maybe not farmers and blacksmiths. But maybe merchants. Depending on what they're trading, they might actually be wealthier than some noble men.
Sorry, sorry! But actually, given that Oz has a VERY good point, I'm actually gonna vote a combo of one and two. A small golden cup with some gold in it, if the treasury has one. (I'm sure one could be made quickly, if not.)
I actually thought I made a point in favour of the Knighthood option ;-)
As in: Because knights have to pay for themselves, that price does not cost us anything.
I vote for Knighthood, because it sounds coolest.
Yeah I made myself a tag finally, hope no one’s too offended by it. I had the idea for it like at least a year ago and I know it’s not as funny anymore, for various reasons, but it still makes me chuckle.
for honor being “knighted” by the king
Well I suppose you made a point for and against. Because we could be creating a problem for our guards if we knight a peasant and they become a black knight. But it's true that it doesn't cost anything for us, so I'll change my vote to knighthood. I mean, what's the worst that could happen?
Option 3. Knighthood, definitely.
I'm going to go with Option 3. Anyone who can endure a jousting contest and come out on top is certainly worthy of being a knight, plus it doesn't cost us any coin to do it. And potentially thinking ahead, since this contest is going to be anonymous for the most part (I'm sure the losers will be rather beat up by the end, and obviously we will have to know who the winner is to knight them), it would be rather amusing if a woman managed to win…
Option 3: knighthood
I must confess that I'm starting to get paranoid about the consequences of our actions, which are delayed and far reaching. To that end, I put in my vote for a trophy of some sort.
>1 vote for option two, select a piece of jewelry as a trophy for the jousting contest.
>9 votes for option three, no material award, but you'll award a Knighthood to the winner.
>1 vote for option four, no award at all except for the glory of winning the jousting contest.
The winner of the jousting contest will be Knighted by you.
You tell Ricardo that won't be necessary.
You intend to make the winner of the jousting contest a Knight.
Whoever can win a jousting contest is sure to possess fine martial qualities, and you'd be glad to have them serving you and fighting in your army.
"As you wish, Your Majesty," he finally says.
Do Ruhemanian laws not work like that?
It's your right to Knight anyone you please, isn't it?
Ricardo nods, immediately.
"Absolutely, Your Majesty. Of course, we're familiar with the concept of Knighthoods, but…"
He purses his lips.
"I must confess, I can't think of a single instance in which King Vlad granted one."
Well, that doesn't affect you.
You intend to rule as you see fit, and King Vlad dealt with a different time period, with his own royal perorogative.
You are your own King and it's up to you to decide what you'll do with that power.
Ricardo re-iterates he meant no disrespect and he merely was struck with the novelty of the situation.
… Inwardly, you can't help but think it makes sense.
Knighting someone was instilling a bit of trust in that person. That they would be worthy of being honored. It was almost on the level of giving them a bit of land to own.
King Vlad didn't trust anyone, except his personal army of witch hunters. Furthermore, apparently he relied on peasants to do most of the fighting for him in his wars.
It makes sense he didn't have a rank of Knights. Or, any Knights.
You're hardly being generous with the title, at least. One Knighthood as an award for a contest based on physical merit was more than fair.
Ricardo says he'll pass your wishes on to the servants who asked him.
You leave out to Ricardo that you're entering the tournament yourself.
He doesn't need to know that.
… You're a little curious though.
Does Ricardo have any plans for the Faire, you ask?
"Indeed… stay in the treasury and count your coin, Your Majesty," he answers.
…Surely he can get out for a day at least.
"It makes no difference. Of course, if you schedule some entertainment for all the nobility or a religious service I may stick my head out for a few moments. Otherwise, it's best for your coffers that I continue to work."
That's… stoic of him.
You can't help but think if you were an old man with one foot in the grave, you would be a little more eager to get some excitement in before the end came.
But… he's likely right.
You were fortunate to have a loyal 'wise vassal' like Ricardo.
You thank him for his time.
As always, your chats with him are very illuminating.
>Tell Ricardo you want more consideration shown to the peasants in the future.
>Tell Ricardo he has your permission to wander out of his hole and partake in festivities, at least for a day.
>Congratulate his 'creative accounting' and how he's keeping the castle treasury afloat as you spend its gold.
>…That's it, make your exit without adding any other remarks.
Option one, but be as diplomatic as possible, and end with a good job or something, so we don't incur any ill will.
I agree with option one, but we can also thank him for his service and we can try to be wiser with our funds in the future.
Option 2:I want to see the guy loosen up
option 4, leave
Option 3: I’m feeling complimentary today.
I've voted against the 'fix Ricardo's sad life' project in the past, and I'll do so again now. He already knows we're more reasonable and accomodating than King Vlad was, and that he can speak his mind with us (within limits).
So if he really wanted to party down for a day then he could and would ask for it. But he didn't, so leave the guy alone.
Option 1, but with a light touch.
Ricardo's scheme wasn't a bad idea per se, and taxing the peasants isn't the same as robbing them. It's just that his thinking is too purely money-minded. The peasants aren't robots and are still forming an opinion of their new king. Even in a feudal system public opinion is a resource that shouldn't be cashed in lightly. Ricardo is as always focused on being a wise vassal, not a wise ruler.
This is exactly what I meant. Make this point to Ricardo, and make sure that there is a way to pay for any food the peasants may end up needing at a future point.
>5 votes for option one, tell Ricardo you want the peasants given a little more consideration in the future. (With some diplomacy and tact so he doesn't take offense.)
>1 vote for give Ricardo explicit permission to take at least one day off during the Faire.
>2 votes for option three, compliment his creative accounting and how he keeps the castle afloat.
>1 vote for option four, just leave without any parting remarks.
Delicately suggest to Ricardo that you want more consideration shown to your peasants in the future.
Poll closed. Update soon.
You don't want to overdo this, but you don't want to let it slide without any words at all.
You know Ricardo doesn't really hold commoners worthy of much consideration. That was apparent from your first meeting back when he confronted Varillo's gang.
You'll have to frame this delicately.
You cough, and inform him there is one more thing, though.
He nods, giving you his ear.
You're aware Ricardo is very skilled in creating money from nothing… however.
You would prefer the straw Ricardo spins not come from the peasant's pockets, so to speak.
At least, not overmuch.
Ricardo suppresses a grunt.
"Your Majesty… I understand, but it simply must come from somewhere," he says. "If not from the peasants, should I have asked the guards to go hungry for a few days?"
But you won't let Ricardo distract you with absurd hypotheticals.
You put a hand to your chin, coming up with a thought.
It just might reach Ricardo, beneath the puffed up superiority complex he has.
You recall Ricardo described the time before King Vlad.
It was a time of great devastation throughout much of the country, wasn't it?
Plague, famine, and banditry throughout much of Ruhemania. Problems that the Independent Dukes simply didn't care to deal with and which went unresolved until King Vlad came along and set down his own order.
It was such even Ricardo was aghast at hearing.
"I never saw it first-hand, but all reports pointed to that effect, yes," he clarifies.
You make a show of dramatically taking a deep breath.
Yes… and now a noble who is not King Vlad rules Ruhemania.
Does it not stand to reason that much of the country, especially the peasants, will be uneasy? That the 'bad times' which existed might return, now that King Vlad is gone?
He lets out a started 'oh' at your words.
It looks like it did what you intended. Your statement has visibly affected Ricardo, enough to draw a rare outburst from him.
The man showed no particular emotion when it was announced his Father had died and he then got to reveal he was finally legitimized and placed in the line of succession.
It might be because you're in a more relaxed environment and you know Ricardo trusts you…
But for something to startle Ricardo enough to make an audible reaction, you know you've said the right thing.
…You won't have that happening. Not while you're on the throne.
You must make it absolutely clear you won't be like those… previous rulers, in their own little domains who let the land rot.
You're a King for all Ruhemanians, including the peasants. You're going to make it prosper.
You watch Ricardo take a nervous gulp of saliva, his wrinkled brow furrowed.
"…I understand, Your Majesty."
You can hear the sincerity in his words. That's enough for you.
You needn't belabor the point or press it anymore.
You thank him for his understanding.
It seems there are limits to Ricardo's indifference toward commoners, and he has consideration toward your role as Monarch.
It's not exactly contrition, but what's done is done.
You exchange another bit of pleasantries with Ricardo and leave him to look after your treasury.
You salute the guards on your way out, confident from your meeting.
Everything was going to be fine… the Faire was going to be a big success.
The trade would no doubt make the entire castle prosperous, in the long run.
Prosperity, that was the word you chose to define your role as King of Ruhemania at your coronation.
Now… you just needed to do it, somehow.
You reflect that it was the independent dukes of Ruhemania's reliance on witches and witchcraft that allowed them to neglect the land like they did.
That didn't bode well for you now with two witches within your castle walls and a third witch with her private manor in the countryside.
Hell, you were probably going to be creating more in the very long run, if Tharja and Beatrice ever give birth to daughters.
–Well, that didn't matter.
You could embrace witchcraft, and your witches, and still make Ruhemania prosperous.
In the meantime…
You spend the night looking over your reference material for Ruhemania that Ricardo gave you long ago.
Your guests should arrive soon.
In which case…
It would be the elected burgmeister of the closest burg, Kervuva.
The one Elizabeth and Margaret came from.
He might have even had them as servants at some point. That was an eerie thought.
At any rate, he wouldn't be nobility, he'd be a commoner who was respected and chosen by the inhabitants to govern the town.
In which case, how would you greet this man when he arrived…?
>When the burgmeister arrives, arrange to meet him at the castle gate, personally. You want to show you take an active role in your governing.
>When the burgmeister arrives, have him brought to the throne room to meet you, with you on your throne, while wearing your crown.
>When the burgmeister arrives, he'll be brought to the throne room at a time that's convenient to you, and made to wait until that is. You're sick of interrupting your breakfast.
>Give no particular orders for when the burgmeister arrives. If he has business, he'll request an audience with you.
Can I write in a combo of 1 and 2?
Meet him at the gate, with the crown on, then walk him to the throne room and take a seat while you talk.
Option 2. Friendly but not overly so.
You can, but I'll have to take it as a vote specifically for a combination of 1 and 2. Otherwise it would be like allowing two votes.
The vote is still open. Please continue to vote.
Yeah, Option 2 is the right approach here.
>5 votes for option two, when the burgmeister arrives, have him brought to the throne room to meet you, with you on your throne, while wearing your crown.
>1 vote for write-in, meet him while you're wearing your crown at the gate of the castle, then take him to the throne room to talk.
Meet the first burgmeister in your throne room with symbols that emphasize you are King.
Poll closed, update soon.
You remember how you greeted the painter when you made a new request of him and King Vlad's death was not yet commonly known.
You surrounded yourself with unambiguous symbols of your authority and status as Monarch and let him see you on the throne.
That is probably the best situation to do with the burgmeister.
You want to emphasize you are the King. …No, you must do so.
Your inheritance of the crown is lawful and respected by the Church, no one can dispute that.
The thought of Ruhemania as a disorganized land of independent dukedoms only united by King Vlad's will is a notion you must dispel. Otherwise people may think it will break up again now that he's passed.
You're turning it into your dynasty. Your eldest son with Tharja will inherit it, as will his sons.
You also can't help but think if you have trouble impressing a burgmeister, you really will have problems when the other real aristocrats show up.
You go to the senior guard and give him your instruction. You want to meet the burgmeister personally in your throne room when he arrives. And that when your soldiers are opening the castle gates, you should be notified so that you can meet him.
He informs you that it's planned the draw bridge will be held perpetually open for the duration of the Faire.
"It's unthinkable that there would be an attack at this time, Your Majesty."
Therefore, the burgmeister and his family will enter the castle, be guided to their room by your maids, and given time for you both to prepare.
He will ensure there is an impressive number of loyal guards present at the throne room.
You thank him and give your approval.
The alternative was you sitting in the throne room doing nothing all day, which obviously wasn't in your interests.
Your morning meal is interrupted by a soldier telling you the burgmeister from Kervuva has arrived.
You excuse yourself from your breakfast with Tharja and Beatrice and leave Margaret and Elizabeth to clean up.
You've decided against wearing the full mantle and ceremonial clothes you were coronated in. Your sword, sash, crown, and the throne will be enough.
There are no less than five guards with you here. Two outside the door to meet the burgmeister to escort him inside, two at the sides of your throne in case you needed them, and one soldier to guard over your crown.
–Well, with you wearing it, he's guarding over the crystal domes that held your crown and Tharja's circlet. But you don't intend to wear it all day.
In drastic contrast to when you first saw it, the room is spotless and clean of dust.
Castle Valachia almost feels alive, you muse.
The burgmeister is lead into the room by your guards outside.
"Presenting, Gheorg, burgmeister, from Kervuva," he announces in a firm, loud tone that reaches all ears in the room.
…It'd likely sound more grandiose if he was an aristocrat with a family lineage to recite, but from a peasant this is as respectable an entrance as he could get.
You look out from atop your throne, appraising the man.
He's older, but perhaps a decade younger than your father? He wears light-looking linen tunic and leggings, and what you think are leather boots. They look clean.
It wasn't much, but for a peasant, even clean clothes were a symbol of importance.
Despite that, the man himself could use some grooming. He has scraggly facial hair that looks about a month from becoming a full beard, and unkempt hair.
You yourself made sure you were bathed and clean-shaven, your hair elegantly styled as you like it.
The burgmeister looks at you with apprehension. He seems unsure of what to do.
You think back to when you first met with King Vlad, and you weren't sure to bow or kneel before him.
–King Vlad definitely would have preferred kneeling. He let you know that when you attempted a more subtle bow.
Still, he put you on the spot by forcing you to make your own decision of what to do and then criticizing you.
Then again, would direct instruction humiliate him, or you? You weren't sure.
How should you handle this…?
You make a quick decision.
>Instruct the burgmeister to kneel, please.
>Instruct the burgmeister that a bow will suffice.
>Wait for the burgmeister to decide how he will greet you.
Option 2. We're trying to be kind and benevolent, so a nudge in the right direction is a good thing.
Option 2. This will set the standard that we intend to guide this kingdom and have expectations, but we are not tyrannical or unreasonable.
I'm going with option one here.
Benevolence is one thing, but there is still a vast status differential here. Edward is the King, the most important person in Ruhemania. The Burgmeister is not even a noble person. He has to kneel.
We can show our benevolence later when we greet the aristocrats.
I vote for option 1 for similar reasons as Wizard (in >>38202
). Like it or not, gheorg is still not a noble and the other nobles wouldn't be happy bowing if the peasants also bow to us. Given Edward's focus on building a lasting dynasty, securing the loyalty of the nobles is really important, and making them feel special is part of that.
Option 1. Not necessarily because of the nobles, but I think it’s best if we try to earn the same kind of respect that Vlad did.
Option 1. Vlad was able to keep his country unified by bringing them to heel. We my be able to do different, but not until we get a feeling of the situation with all of our vassals.
Option 2. Let's not be a dickhead and force ourselves towards everyone hating ol mate eddy.
Option 3. Just be silent and make him think
>5 votes for option one, command him to kneel, please.
>3 votes for option two, tell him a bow will suffice.
>1 vote for option three, be silent and let him reach his conclusion.
Ask the burgmeister to kneel.
Poll closed, update soon.
You raise your hand and give a little gesture.
Kneel, please, you say.
The burgmeister makes a surprised little sound, and then… starts to kneel.
"Yes, 'Majesty," he says.
You watch him and see he does press his knee all the way to the floor.
…He doesn't quite bow his head, but he does close his eyes. You decide that's good enough.
He is, after all, just a peasant. He can't be familiar with the level of decorum necessary of a real genuflect.
You remember after a brief moment that you need to command him to rise, so you do so.
The burgmeister gradually rights himself back to his feet.
"Thank yew 'Majesty. I'm happy you've invited me to your Faire, 'Majesty. I wanted to bring m'whole family, but my wife couldn't handle the trip… –she's eight months pregnant, currently!"
He announces that with some pride.
You give a smile and offer him your congratulations.
Meanwhile, you can't help but squirm in your chair a bit. You try inwardly telling your manhood, this is not the time to get excited. Though you were sorry you missed the opportunity to see a woman eight-months along. Even if she were someone's wife, there was no harm– admiring, as it were.
That is a shame, you say, but at least he'll have a great story of the festivities to bring back to her.
The burgmeister gives a jolly grin, and thanks you for your words.
"I want to express my gratitude to you, 'Majesty…"
He reports that the peasants in his community were greatly moved at the chance to pay their final respects to King Vlad's corpse, as was he.
Furthermore, he's very thankful for the continued trade Castle Valachia participates in with Kervuva.
"We've had a very bountiful season, 'Majesty. That's why I've had your rightful taxes prepar'd and brought with me."
He goes on to say a few words about how he's always been known as a loyal subject who pays his taxes gladly and promptly. He saw the coin he brought delivered to the treasury where no doubt Ricardo was counting it at this very moment.
You breathe a sigh of relief to yourself. That should give Ricardo a little more breathing room. It also meant you didn't have to worry about your immediate neighbor becoming disloyal and trying to keep their money to themselves.
You smile and nod to the man in return, telling him that fact pleases you.
You go on to say that you, of course, are familiar with the special relationship Kervuva has with Castle Valachia.
Namely, Castle Valachia is more reliant on Kervuva than otherwise. You remember Ricardo explained a fair number of resources needed to be imported to keep the castle fed and working properly. The amount of food the peasants made in their settlement wasn't enough by itself, for one. And you also had need of ore to keep the blacksmith able to work, candles and parchment for Ricardo, and Tharja and yourself on occasion… Most all of those would come from Kervuva, since it's the nearest burg.
"I'm at your beck and call, 'Majesty. If there's anythin' I can do… name it."
You can think of a few things.
Though you wonder what's most pertinent to bring up right now.
You have to remember this conversation is semi-public. The guards are loyal, but you're sure rumors could be spread. Furthermore, the burgmeister will likely talk about his meeting with you.
In that case…
>Inquire about the origin of Elizabeth and Margaret. Did they come from his own manor?
>You want information. Ask if he's had any problems with bandits or other problems detrimental to the burg.
>You want a chance to see this place up close. Ask if a visit would be appropriate some time in the future.
>Something else. (Write-in.)
Option three. Things are calm enough at the castle that it makes sense for us to think about a little trip outside. We'll have to wait for all the kerfuffle about to happen at the festival of course, but after that, why not? I really would like to see a bit more of Ruhemania.
I was tempted to ask for both 2 and 3, but I'm not sure if visiting is too friendly or if it would cause stress. Granted, he might lie to us if he doesn't want to trouble is with their problems, but I don't think that's too likely right now. We can get info now and still visit later.
We should really make sure that nothing is going wrong without inferring disloyalty (asking if there are bandits may infer that the taxes he delivered are a bit light)
I vote for option 3.
So far, we've been pretty isolated in our castle with the neighboring village and I think that going out on what will hopefully be the first of many visits to the different towns in our kingdom will raise the opinion of us among the peasants. (Sorry in advance for all of the work this implies aristo.)
Oh, but think of all the naughty one-night-stands the King could have on his trips around the country :-)
Option 3. It seems the most decidedly Ed-guy-like.
Please everyone, if you're registering a vote, please state clearly "I vote for option _". Comments like this where you link to someone else's vote and write "Me too!" make it hard to tally the vote because I have to reference the previous vote being linked, and confusion can result when I'm trying to keep track of a number of votes.
Stating your votes clearly also helps me make the distinction between actual votes and simple commentary on how voting should proceed.
The vote is still open for now. Please continue to vote.
Sorry. Yeah, >>38292
was a vote for Option 2.
It is a close vote, but the needle must fall eventually.
>5 vote for option two, ask if the burg has had bandits or any other problem that demands Royal intervention.>6 votes for option three, ask how he would feel about a Royal visit some time in the future.
Ask about paying a personal visit to the burg in the future.
Thank you very much. Please do not take my request as anything meaning to discourage discussion of the vote. Paying attention to readers' expectations when voting helps me write the story and hear what everyone wants to read. But when I am counting votes, I must have an unambiguous message communicating it for fear of miscounting or just… misinterpreting what the person meant.
Thank you very much again.
The update will come soon.
You do want to see more of Ruhemania…
Seeing the country up close will give you a better understanding of what the people are like and what they need, and how you can better act as their King.
Furthermore, as nice as Castle Valachia is, you would like to venture beyond the walls once and a while.
Not to mention that a burg full of people meant there would likely be a fresh pool of maidens to 'wade' into, so to speak.
You sure there must be many girls out there to impregnate. Just waiting for your seed.
…Though you needn't tip to the burgmeister the extent of your prurient needs.
You tell the burgmeister that, of course, your primary concern is to provide all of your guests with adequate hospitality and that if he doesn't experience that, he must make it clear to the maids.
However, in terms of what he can personally do, for you personally…
You would like to one day, when the festival is over and perhaps the seasons are not quite so cold, perhaps pay a visit to Kervuva?
You've practiced the pronunciation so the name of the burg rolls naturally off your tongue.
You would certainly appreciate accommodation.
The burgmeister smiles, putting his hands on his hips.
"We'd be honored to have you, Majesty! Don't worry, you have my promise. As long as I'm burgmeister, I'll have a room ready for you, and any other… 'commodations that you could care to name."
… That sounds very good, indeed. Yes. You'll take advantage of that, you say.
Your first instinct was to deny the offer. To tell the burgmeister you'd give him notice to prepare.
But on consideration, that's not 'Kingly'.
He made the offer freely, in as public an audience he could have with you, the King. He had better be prepared to back it up.
Furthermore, it will be a lot more convenient. If you had to send advance notice and ask 'permission', you'd have to send out a messenger, have him hear the burgmeister's response, then wait for the messenger to return with the reply, and only then could you depart.
There were plenty of things that could happen in the meantime. The messenger could turn traitor and sell the contents of the message to someone meaning to do you harm, exposing your entourage to being intercepted by bandits or worse. The burgmeister might start ordering changes to his manor in preparation for your arrival and the servants would spread rumors an aristocrat was coming, perhaps those whispers would reach an assassin and give them time to make a move toward ending your life. Those dangers were probably unlikely, but it didn't change the fact it was much better to just decide you would visit the burg and then go and do so.
As opposed to looking discouraged at your approval, the burgmeister looks delighted.
"Done! You'll love Kervuva, 'Majesty. Come at harvest time and everyone will be busy… you can see everyone working hard."
You smile and nod, telling him you look forward to it.
You pause and reflect on his words.
He made no mention of security. You can only guess that means Kervuva is tranquil enough a place that security wouldn't be a concern.
You'll rule out assuming he's planning your demise, at least.
That talk about visiting may have indirectly answered your other concern about whether Kervuva was experiencing any problems.
If he doesn't promise to take security concerns, he must be convinced you won't need it.
If everyone's working, there must not be any commoners so impoverished they would be motivated to resort to banditry.
It's perhaps a 'rosy' interpretation, but you'll go with it for now until you see evidence otherwise.
You decide to use the moment to inform the burgmeister there will be a jousting tournament held during the Faire.
The prize for the winner is a Knighthood. You don't need to say more about what sort of status that would offer.
Anyone is open to enter, assuming they have the proper skill and disposition.
The burgmeister looks impressed. You can see his eyes flash when you mention the Knighthood.
"Oh, I'll just be spectating, 'Majesty… It's a bit beyond a man of my years."
He informs you that he's aware of the jousting contest, but not what the prize was going to be.
Looks like you made that decision in time enough for the invitations to include reference to it.
You're not sure what else to bring up. You think you're out of ideas of what you should officially be talking with him about.
The burgmeister can't leave until you dismiss him. At least, he shouldn't.
You remember back when you tried to excuse yourself from King Vlad's presence in a panic: he forbid you to leave.
Still, the burgmeister has been a friendly fellow. You like his down-to-earth manner.
Perhaps you should do something for him. Grant him a little boon.
But, if so… what?
You give it a quick consideration.
>Invite the burgmeister to eat with you personally at midday, sharing your table. That should be an honor.
>Invite the burgmeister to share your own personal wine with you before sunset. He'd definitely appreciate that.
>You like the burgmeister, but perhaps you shouldn't outright favor him. Thank the burgmeister for meeting you and excuse him.
Option 3. Let's hold our horses for the moment.
Option 3. We're already going to visit him. No reason to lavish the first person through our door.
I also agree with Option 3. He's a nice guy, but let's get to know him better and and get a sense of who our supporters are as the faire goes on.
Havent known yet this person well enough another
Time when he next visit
Option 3. Put the brakes on the bromance for the time being.
>9 votes for option three, don't outright reward the burgmeister a boon, yet.
Excuse the burgmeister without offering him anything.
The burgmeister is a decent enough man, but…
It might be a bit too early to so directly show him favor.
You imagine he might be taken to brag about any boon you give him, possibly making your other subjects jealous. Or at least… resentful.
At least it would make more sense for the burgmeister to have done something to your liking before giving him a boon. 'Paying his taxes on time' and 'making promises' doesn't seem like enough.
Instead, you tell him to look forward to the Faire and all the revelry that will come with it.
He thanks you and starts to bow before turning it into another kneel.
"Thank you again for hosting this wonderful event, 'Majesty…"
You bid him his farewell and he finally leaves the room, leaving you alone with your guards.
…Well, there's no reason to stick around.
You dismiss the guards, their purpose for being here is done for now.
Excepting the one keeping watch over your crown, which you return to its place on the stand.
You decide to follow up with Ricardo, meeting him in the treasury.
He confirms that the burgmeister indeed had an amount of coin paid as taxes to you.
"It will take me time to count it all, Your Majesty, but I believe this will give us another one-tenth of the treasury."
Though, you have a thought you decide to ask Ricardo's permission on.
Were the burgmeister's taxes… due?
"Not particularly. They can be paid by the end of the year."
He goes on to say most all the holdings that pay taxes in the Kingdom do so after the autumn harvest, not before.
Was there any point to the burgmeister's action, then?
"Perhaps I could venture a… cynical opinion or two… if it didn't offend His Majesty's ears."
You get the hint. You nod and give Ricardo permission to speak freely.
"The obvious answer is he's trying to be a suck-up. Paying his taxes early to try to curry favor with you, Your Majesty. He must be aware, as surely the whole Kingdom is, that you're paying quite a lot of money for this Faire, and therefore some coin to keep you afloat would be appreciated."
Well, yes. You did have an inkling of that. You weren't quite that naive, so to speak.
But, other than that?
Could there be another practical reason?
Ricardo flares his nostrils, shutting his eyes while he blinks and considers this.
"It may also be that he wanted also to preclude the possibility that you would raise taxes on him later, Your Majesty."
In other words, if he pays his taxes now, you can't declare a raising of taxes and demand more from him later before the year is done?
–That doesn't exactly stop you from raising taxes anyway, does it, you ask?
Ricardo shakes his head.
"No, of course not. It may, however, make the practicality of enforcing such a thing, at least on Kervuva, more difficult."
In other words, to get more taxes you would need to at least send more messengers out demanding more, possibly with a collection of soldiers to act as 'tax collectors'.
"It would possibly shift the onus of collecting on you, Your Majesty, and make you consider if it was worth it."
You can't help but sigh.
It seems the burgmeister… is a little more cunning than you realized.
"Commoners like him who retain their power by popularity instead of birth and status usually are, Your Majesty."
Still, it's a shrewd act, but it's hardly treasonous.
You'll take this as a 'wake up call,' so to speak.
If the friendly burgmeister who greets you openly and warmly as the new King can pull off his own little scheme, it means there must be greater machinations awaiting from the 'real' aristocrats you'll soon be dealing with.
You keep that idea to yourself, though.
Ricardo goes on to say the current taxes are designed to keep Castle Valachia running smoothly, and although you've spent a lot, there's no particular need to raise them.
"Of course that's your prerogative, Your Majesty. I'll gladly show you the figures if you prefer to make any changes…"
You tell Ricardo you understand that's your right, but you'll leave the state of your coin to Ricardo for now. Maybe you'll make changes in the future. You could raise or even lower them.
But it's not something you need to obsess about when the Faire is about to get lively and you have guests to entertain.
You thank Ricardo for his update, and excuse yourself to let him return to work.
>No choice yet. Further update coming soon.
You return to the sitting room later to have your midday meal.
To your surprise, Beatrice is waiting outside the door for you.
"Your Majesty," she says, addressing you, respectfully.
She follows it up with a pleasant curtsy.
She's acting the part of the noblewoman thoroughly, it seems. Without cutting corners on showing decorum.
Even though there's no one around to watch you both in the hall, it's probably a good idea.
"Could you tell me your opinion regarding my new accessory? I wanted to change my look for the Faire."
You notice for the first time Beatrice has some ribbon in her hair.
It's not much, but you suppose… it's something?
You're at a loss for how to reply…
Then Beatrice puts her hand in your line-of-sight.
The inward part turned up so you could see her palm.
…Which is holding a bit of parchment on it.
–She's trying to subtly give you a message.
You lean a little closet.
The writing is neat and in Beatrice's style.
On it, you can make out the following words:
Progress with Tharja continues, I am available for spy-work and assassinations at night. -B
… That's it.
The thought of ordering another assassination makes your blood run cold, but you nod to Beatrice that you understand.
You're… not sure if you really like that style of ribbon, you say, but you'll think about it and let her know.
Beatrice grins, giggling demurely.
"Thank you, for your… potential favor, Your Majesty."
…It's too early to consider it, yet, you think.
But it might be useful to set Beatrice to spy on someone while the Faire is going on.
You'll simply have to decide who would be most… deserving, of that honor.
Though Beatrice is right to communicate with you this way.
It'd be too indiscreet to be seen openly strolling arm-in-arm with her right now, you think.
You enter the sitting room and sit down for your meal that's waiting for you.
Both Beatrice and Tharja confirm that Elizabeth brought your food to the table separate from Margaret. No alteration was made to it since it was sat down.
Margaret takes a bite of each portion and eats.
She does not drop dead, so you begin to eat as well.
>No choice yet. Further update coming soon.
A few days pass.
You don't have any new guests to greet, yet, but you can observe the changes taking place.
Workers take an area inside the castle walls and turn it into a sort of courtyard. Roads are dug out with shovels, platforms made out of wood.
A question to one of the men overseeing the workers informs you that this is where the merchants will be setting up their wares. Including food items.
They will be bringing their own tents and other materials to build with, but its the castle's responsibility to give them land to set-up on.
You decide it's best you not get in the way and excuse yourself.
The castle is going to have a lot of activity soon. It'll surely be much more than you can personally keep track of, even if you spent every waking minute walking around.
You run over all of the people in it and all of the groups you've become accustomed to dealing with.
Who did you trust to help you keep track of what was going on?
Tharja, of course. Beatrice, of course. But they're preparing each other for the service the Priest will conduct. You can't immediately rely on either of them. Perhaps once that service was past.
Ricardo you trust, but he'll have actual work to do.
The maids? Unfortunately, you had failed to build a relationship with them. Perhaps if the fat maid wasn't in charge, or if you had spent money hiring new maids, but it was what it was. You can't rely on them to do more than appropriate maid activities. It was a shame, because having the maids potentially act as spies would have been a great opportunity. Surely they would be moving around your castle, including the guests' rooms and witness much just through doing their usual chores.
Of course Elizabeth was loyal to you and would obey your every command, but you couldn't trust her not to be too scatterbrained when it came to finding out information. Furthermore, her appearance would definitely be noted by the other maids who aren't accepting her as 'one of their own.'
You had no relationship with the peasants, nor a real one with the skilled peasants. They wouldn't be much help in this situation anyway unless something happened in the peasant settlement.
That left the guards.
You've counted a lot of new patrols. Your treasury has guards, as does your crown in the throne room. Your tower now has two guards instead of one, and Sully is officially no longer guarding Tharja's wing, her position being switched out for another patrol.
It's not at every door and corridor, but there is a fair amount of ground being watched.
They could… potentially… observe for you, and pass what they see along to you.
You might learn something useful.
If any group would have the loyalty and opportunity to do so, it would be them.
You could approach the senior guard about this. Surely he would be on your side. It'd be very convenient to receive a report from him about what the individual soldiers had seen.
But you couldn't be sure of that. He might fail to ask the right questions or report the right information. Furthermore, he'll probably have his hands full already making sure the army is maintained and deterring any wrongdoing.
Surely a Faire as grand as you've arranged for will attract thieves. It was something you hoped to avoid, but likely inevitable.
On the other hand, what alternative was there?
…You suppose you could personally find the guards you individually knew were loyal to you and ask them directly.
You know all of them by sight by now. Some of them even enough to identify them by their voices.
You could easily find the ones who will be more open to your questions and who will keep an eye out on your behalf.
–Although it will be a little more leg-work for you.
Or, potentially, you could completely ignore the prospect of having anyone act as spy.
You do have Beatrice to stalk the halls at night if you really think someone or something is suspicious, after all.
You think it over the next few days.
Before you meet the next rounds of guests…
What would you do about using the soldiers as a potential resource to draw information from?
>There may be something to learn from a concerted effort. Ask the senior guard if he'll pass on 'reports' to you about what the guards observe.
>You can trust guards you've made a personal connection with. Make an effort to ask loyal guards individually to watch and report things to you.
>Do nothing. It's not worth putting more demands on them, and it may make you look bad to ask.
Option 2, besides we could ask sully to if need be
Option 2, but to keep/earn the trust of the senior guard, we should tell him what we're doing.
I'll be the dissenting voice and go for option one. Chain of command is there for a reason and benefits Edward's reign in the long run.
I agree with the sentiment here, however I feel like the senior guard will likely be unwilling to use his men like that. So Option two seems the better option to me.
This is a definite vote for option two? It seems like it so I will count it, but please be clear with your votes, everyone.
>3 votes for option one, ask for reports on the situation during the Faire from the senior guard directly.>8 votes for option two, ask individual guards you have a good connection with for information, personally.>1 vote for option two, with the addition of letting the senior guard be personally aware of your plan to do so.
Ask guards you know you know are loyal to individually watch for you.
Poll closed. Update soon.
You're not sure how wise it is to involve the senior guard.
You do trust him in his position, but he might not be in charge of your army forever. You never appointed him General, after all. Someone else may take that honor, and that would leave him privy with some sensitive information…
You want to keep this idea between people you would absolutely trust with your life.
You know more than a few guards who will fit this description, so you'll content yourself with asking them directly.
You may miss information that falls through the cracks, and it will take more time to find them and collect the information, but it's the most secure way.
You find a handful of guards to serve as your spies.
You can't talk in the open, so you make up some story about conducting a 'surprise inspection' on the readiness of your troops and the state of their weapons, armor, and discipline.
It's a good excuse to take the guards aside to talk in private individually.
Convincing the ones you select to take part is easy. You simply tell them you're concerned about suspicious persons, even those who might infiltrate as guests.
You've offered hospitality to them all as your subjects, but you can't be sure there won't be people who come under false pretenses. Therefore, you want their movements observed as much as their job would allow.
It's not the most forthcoming reason… but it gets the job done.
All of the soldiers you talk to agree to do so. None of them question it, and you see no doubt in their eyes or hear it in their tone. You're confident they'll all honor your request.
This even includes a certain guard you once took for a runt.
"I understand, King," says Sully, nodding, with a little smile. "You can count on me… I won't let anything slip by."
You can't help but smile. You knew you could count of Sully, of course. The time she hated you and regarded her as a tormentor is long gone, now.
After that reassurance, you watch Sully bite her lip, taking in a deep breath as she… looks at you.
Her voice lowers, and she leans closer.
"I wouldn't mind if you… inspected me… a little more…" she whispers, voice husky. With need. And desire.
She has her lips parted in clear anticipation of your embrace.
You had thought you might be going the entire Faire without seeing Sully…
But now that you have a reason to seek her out, that might change.
It is a turn-on to hear Sully try to be seductive, to invite you, so directly.
Would it be bad if you took a little time to put more seed in her womb? You don't know if she's pregnant.
Your mind calls back to the… 'Elizabeth situation'.
You want to avoid a repeat of… that.
You aren't just spending time with Sully, you're spending time with a number of guards, 'privately'. For as lengthy a period of time as you see fit. The fact that you're taking that time to have sex with Sully might escape notice.
Furthermore, you realize, in order to keep up the front of 'inspecting' your guards, you'll have to continue to do it occasionally, even with guards you don't trust completely and haven't asked to spy.
In that case, whether you take time to have sex with Sully probably wouldn't affect her standing within the guards.
You give a little sigh, the prospect of having such lustful, impulsive sex, in a little alcove of a room… it was enticing, but it might be better to not risk getting caught or any other consequences and just move on.
>This is too sexy not to take advantage of. Conduct a thorough 'inspection' of Sully, and her fertile womb. Just this once.
>Give her a kiss and tell her, alas, you have other Kingly obligations.
>Nod, have sex with her, and then tell her you'll be 'inspecting' her like this regularly throughout the Faire. (Make sex with Sully a regular occurrence during the Faire.)
Option 1 please
Option one for sure. We do NOT need an Elizabeth 2.0.
>10 votes for option one, 'inspect' Sully and fertilize her.
>1 vote for option two, refuse and excuse yourself.
>1 vote for option three, commit to fertilizing Sully throughout the Faire.
Breed Sully before you leave her.
Poll closed. Update soon.
It's too exciting an idea not to give in.
Maybe it's your weakness? You'd call it a strength.
You lean your face downward and kiss Sully fully on the lips.
Her tongue teases your lips, but you refrain from deepening the kiss.
You whisper to Sully that in that case…
You'll be inspecting her a little more thoroughly.
With your dick.
In her pussy.
So she had better turn around, bend over, and present herself.
Your dirty talk definitely has an effect on Sully, as she gives a tense little laugh.
–You need to set the mood, though.
You… really don't have time for an unhurried session of idle fornication and tender caresses afterward.
"Y-Yeah, I understand, King…"
She turns around and starts unstrapping her armor.
Since the guards are patrolling and trying to act as a deterrent, she's wearing a little more than the usual leather armor. She has on chainmail with plate leg and arm covers.
Which means Sully can't just pull her pants down and get on all fours… they won't bend right.
Armor that could easily fall off or be separated and leave a vulnerable spot at the groin was hardly armor.
"I… can get them down enough to expose my ass, that's about it."
…Yeah, that's okay.
You'll just be careful not to get pinched in her mail.
Luckily there's a table she can bend over so she doesn't have to lean against the wall.
A faint bit of rustling and metal scraping against wood and she's got her tight, pert ass toward you.
…You can't help but find this erotic. In your days in Virilia, you would often find women lacking a bump, and seduce them… taking them right there if circumstances called for it. It was easy to just lift their skirt and satisfy your lust.
Having a woman soldier present you her bare ass, though…
Ah, Sully really is unique.
You follow suit, pulling down your own leggings enough to expose your erection.
Your manhood had pulled itself to attention the moment Sully started talking about wanting to be 'inspected'. –Still, you recognize you could both probably stand to have a little more lubrication between you both. You put your hand to your face and start licking your fingers, letting the saliva gather in your palm.
"King…?" you hear her ask, butt twitching before you.
You just need to prepare her a bit, you whisper.
You gently press your hand to Sully's vulva, coating her labia with your fluid.
She reflexively squirms under your touch, her back arching a bit from the sudden caress.
You give her slit a gentle stroke with your finger, teasing her with penetration and making her squirm.
You keep up your stroking, making sure to apply a little pressure around her clit, until you start to feel her own fluids mixing with your saliva.
You pull back your finger and start to mount her, whispering that you think you're both ready.
Sully gives a gentle, but audible, sigh.
"Put a baby in me, King…"
You get your cock aligned with her entrance and gently penetrate her.
Your thrust is sudden enough it earns a little wince from Sully. Yourself too… she's still rather tight. She's easily the woman you've had sex with the least out of all in the castle since you came to Ruhemania… excepting the blacksmith's widowed sister.
You put your hands on the side of the table, and whisper a reminder to Sully that you both need to keep this relatively discrete.
You see her nod, and you start thrusting into her in.
Your cock slides against her tight butt as you enter her pussy from behind. The position leaving you not much room to vary your thrusting angles.
You really feel like a rutting pair of animals, driven by animalistic urge to breed an not much else.
Maybe Beatrice's words had rubbed off on you… it feels much more erotic.
You hope so for Sully as well.
After a few hard strokes, you can feel her inside walls adjusting… becoming slicker… and you speed up the rhythm of your thrusting.
You're actually becoming worried about the sound of your sex… your bare groin hitting her exposed bottom enough to make a distinct slapping sound…
But there's no room to worry for that in the tiny room.
You wrap your arms around Sully's torso, pulling her close in an attempt to penetrate her even more.
You can feel your balls slapping against your leggings and her thighs with each thrust.
She lets out a hard sound like she's sucking air through her teeth, and her pussy walls throb around you.
Mm… She's obviously enjoying this…
You are too.
Finally you start to feel your orgasm within reach.
You close your eyes, focusing on the feeling of sex… of breeding… of putting Sully over the table and fucking her pregnant impulsively, without care of the consequences, like nature intended…
Your arms huddled around Sully's belly, which will eventually swell up with the baby you put inside her… the first of many.
You're having trouble keeping yourself from moaning yourself.
You clamp down your lips, forcing yourself to breathe through your nose.
Then… you come with her.
Hilted inside her, with her walls milking you in tense, hard contractions. Your cock spurting it's virile seed matching the ebb and flow of her fertile crevasse.
Your bodies sing out all the pleasure your voices have to deny.
You watch and feel Sully arch her back, tense, then collapse forward on the table…
You're both left trembling with pleasure as you quietly try to catch your breath.
You ask her gently if it was all right for her, and she whispers back.
"Y-yeah… it was… really hot, King…"
You lift your hand to wipe the sweat from your brow, and agree.
Now the problem is what to do with your seed when you pull out…
You don't really have any solution.
You pull out, with a slight wince from the sensitivity that is echoed by Sully.
You watch as the proof of your lovemaking drips out from her used pussy right down her thighs.
You can only stare dumbly, entranced.
…Oh well. A small price to pay for the joy of knocking her up.
>No choice yet, further update coming soon.
An erotic sight, but also proof you didn't quite think things through.
There's nothing you can wipe up Sully's vagina with and throw away. A glob of your seed is a bit too much to just wipe on your leggings and hope no one notices.
She holds a hand over herself in an attempt to stem the tide of your seed from flowing out of her.
…It really was a lot.
You can't help but notice the length of her pubic hair has increased to a healthy length and be reminded how long it's been since she first appeared to you, mound clean-shaven by your adoring wife, asking you to impregnate her.
You watch Sully blink, obviously still feeling her mind hazy after that orgasm you both shared.
Can she handle all that, you ask?
"I'll… think of something, King."
You nod. Sully approaches the problem pragmatically. She's not the type of woman to lovingly talk about the stain of your seed being a badge of honor to wear with pride.
In this case where you have to keep it a relative secret, that attitude is preferable.
You wonder if you should suggest anything.
It is your 'fault,' so to speak.
Maybe you should get her a rag? Surely a maid must be carrying one.
…Then again, you're not sure getting Sully a rag the maids have been using to scrub who-knows-what with is the most clean option.
In that case…
>Suggest Sully lick her hand clean… she's done something similar, after all.
>Suggest Sully lick her hand clean… then your dick, too.
>Sully will just have to hike up her pants and bear with it. She can manage.
Option 1 says I.
>4 votes for option one, have Sully lick up the excess seed from her hand.
>4 votes for option two, have Sully clean her hand of the excess seed with her tongue… and lick your penis clean too.
We have a tie.
I will come back a little later. If there is still a tie, I will flip a coin and let that decide the outcome of the vote.
Please don't feel any pressure to change your vote. Changing your vote will not bring the update any faster.
I have flipped a coin. The result is:
>Option one, have Sully lick up the excess seed from her hand.
Poll closed. Update soon.
…You have an idea.
The solution's childishly simple. So much so, you almost overlooked it.
All Sully has to do is lick herself clean.
Sully tilts her head.
She gives a little look at her bare hand covered in semen.
Then, she brings her hand to her face and starts to lick it into her mouth. Her pinkish red muscle rubbing itself onto her hand and absorbing the inconveniently placed seed.
You can't help but watch her lick her hand clean…
She does it like it's nothing, like she was licking grease from her hand after eating some cooked and basted meat from some… beast.
Her tongue traces between her fingers and over her palm, catching some that went down her wrist, then she places it back to her pussy to wipe up more before doing it again.
It's almost mesmerizing. No, it is mesmerizing.
Of course the new armor includes gauntlets, but she had taken that off to try to hold your seed in before she started.
You finally remember to take care of yourself, too. You do your best to wipe the excess seed from your penis and put yourself back in your leggings. It leaves your finger a little messy, but it should be enough to just wipe discreetly and go about your day.
You walk over to Sully and offer her one last taste from your finger.
Her eyes linger on that finger, then she makes eye contact with you and opens her mouth.
You press your finger inside her mouth, letting her lick it clean.
You're both staring into each other's eyes. If anything, Sully's face is even more entranced and lustful than when you were about to start fucking.
She really has a fixation on the oral capabilities of your seed.
–Well, that's something you can consider later.
You pull your finger from Sully's lips, her sucking being hard enough to earn it an audible little 'pop'.
You tell her she of course, passes your inspection… and it would please you if she continues to do so.
The words bring her a bit back down to Earth, her expression turning a bit embarrassed.
She nods, while turning her head to look at the wall.
"Ah… yeah. Of course, King…" She follows the sentence up with a little cough.
This side of Sully is cute as well.
You help Sully get her armor back on, checking to make sure nothing looks immediately wrong. There's perhaps a stain or two visible from certain angles, but you hope it's enough for Sully to take care of.
You get one last salute, which she returns, and make your exit.
Maybe you'd consider experimenting with Sully's tastes, figuratively speaking, in the future… after her bump has developed, of course.
>No choice yet. Further update coming soon.
Nothing happens for the next few days.
The guards have nothing to report. Of course, your one guest is not going to do anything too outrageous so soon.
Yet you can't help but feel paranoid, sleeping alone in your tower.
You don't doubt you'd feel better sleeping with your wife beside you.
Instead, you pace, and think.
King Vlad's cunning had run circles around you when you first arrived at Castle Valachia. He had many advantages over you.
He had the reputation of a harsh, but fair, King. Well-deserved. He had a castle where everyone loved him, feared him, or both. He had Daniella as a super-spy who he trusted absolutely.
No doubt King Vlad could have handled any visitor to his castle without overdue worrying.
In comparison, what do you have, now, after he's passed on? What did you have to compare to his capacity for intrigue and politics?
You reach a conclusion that satisfies you.
You have working legs, arms, and the strength of your youth.
You don't have to rely on sitting in your bed and hoping the castle is being run how you want. You can be active and set your own will, directly.
It'd be a mistake to say there weren't those who loved you here in the castle as well. And vice-versa.
Furthermore, you have Beatrice and Tharja's magic to rely on.
Though you doubt you'll have a need for ostentatious theatrical magic, perhaps there were subtler forms to use.
You finish your pacing and decide to climb into bed for a second attempt at sleep.
Soon the next round of burgmeisters and near-aristocrats would arrive.
The turmoil in your mind settles enough for your body to sleep the rest of the night.
>No choice yet, further update coming soon.
The interim was not going to last forever.
You are given a notice from your guards one morning while you take your breakfast.
A new noble family has arrived, waiting to be escorted to your throne room.
You stand up, and take your leave of your wife and Beatrice.
You're committed to this plan. You have to be ready to see it through.
Even if that means leaving a half-finished meal.
You don the symbols of Ruhemania you wear to show your royal authority. You take your place on your throne.
You almost feel like an actor on a stage, really.
But it is a necessary bit of theater.
Fortunately, being King means you don't have to wait long for your audience to show up and pay attention.
"Presenting, Dimitrie, aristocrat, in Torbuja."
You hear the guard who seems to have been tasked with 'announcing duty' proclaim in his loud voice.
Though the use of that preposition is interesting.
Why not "of" Torbuja?
Before you can reflect much, your guest steps through the open doors and steps toward you.
You appraise the new noble who has set foot in your throne room.
He's a young man. Perhaps as old as you? Perhaps even younger.
Though he has a full head of long hair that makes him look older than his face suggests. You recognize the way it falls forward as the 'Ruhemanian look' that you let your maids talk you into wearing for your coronation.
He's surely dressed like a noble. His clothes look clean and of passable quality… perhaps excepting his boots.
Moreover, he himself has a sword in his belt. It looks about the same length as one of the longswords from the armory. It's not a simple hunting sword like you had carried as your traveled.
His brown eyes look at you firmly, his face tight. If you didn't know better, you might think he was challenging you.
Then, he raises a hand and… bows.
… It's not even a proper bow.
A polite bow doesn't involve you staring the person you're bowing to dead in the eyes. It requires a little bowing of the head. Your bow to King Vlad in his room was much more reasonable.
Moreover, you're aware you all but ordered the burgmeister to kneel.
He rises back to his full height quickly, as if he knew what he was doing and was trying to get away with it by doing it quickly.
How were you to handle this?
You don't quite have it in you to really let fly with your temper over something silly like a bow instead of a kneel.
But you should perhaps react.
>Cough, then evenly, but firmly, order this Dimitrie to kneel.
>He knows what he's doing. Stare at him with a harsh expression until he corrects himself.
>He might resent it if you openly challenge him. Instead, use sarcasm to defuse the tension. Ask him that's all His King deserves.
>Ignore it. The point of replacing King Vlad was not to act like him. Just move on to more in depth introductions.
>Something else. (Write-in)
Slipping during a transition of power is a good way to start rumors and inspire rebels.
Vlad wouldn't have tolerated this shit. Neither should we.
I think this falls somewhere between Options 3 and 4 in my opinion. There is really no reason at all to get bent out of shape over this, but at the same time we can't let this behavior completely slide.
I'm going to say Option 4 with a caveat. Ignore it for now, but at least make a small note of it ("Did you greet King Vlad like that?" or something) and swiftly move on. Let's at least see what kind of guy Dimitrie is before we figure out if Edward needs to start laying down the law.
I vote for option 2.
We aren't King Vlad, but we are still the king here and we will be treated as such.
Hmm, 'in Torbuja' rather than 'of Torbuja'? Perhaps he's been deprived of any ancestral holdings, and is just a nobleman by birth. A survivor of the wiped out families? Honestly, Vlad should have kept dossiers on these people.
What puzzles me is that what he's doing isn't a smart play, it's not what a wise vassal would do (kneel), or even what a sworn enemy or a traitor would do (kneel now, kill us later). It's either ignorance or someone who's acting emotionally and wants to show defiance as openly as he can get away with.
That being the case, ordering him to kneel straight away seems pointless to me. There's no crowd to see it and it won't change his mind about us for the better. Staring him down might be what he wants - he can ignore it with plausible deniability if he's not been specifically told to do anything.
Ask what he thinks his King deserves. Serious question. He can either knuckle under when called out, or tell us what he thinks. We don't know a thing about this guy. Is he a die-hard Vlad loyalist? A rebel? Genuinely ignorant of courtly protocol (also possible - remember Vlad hadn't had any guests for a long time, possibly longer than this dude's been an adult)?
Let's find out what Dimitrie's deal is - and after he finishes either explaining himself or making a show of open defiance, THAT is the time to tell the guy to get down on his motherfuckin' knees.
Well, we knew this was coming…
I vote for option three, followed immediately by option one if necessary.
Demanding a show of respect does not make us as bad as King Vlad in any way, it just makes us a King. Nobody is talking about crucifying anyone.
However, Edward's position (and by extension Tharja's too) crucially depends on the proper "chain of command" in the kingdom. And we need to make it clear that we expect everyone to follow it. If he wants some leeway, he has to get on our good side first.
We start with pointing his faux-pax out with a little bit of humour. Either he corrects himself and takes a proper bow, then we move on. (He's allowed to bow instead of kneeling, I think, because he is an noble men, not a commoner like the previous guest, and therefore closer to Edward in status)
But if he so much as twitches or even thinks about backtalking, Edward should demand the full and proper respect that is appropriate to meeting a King of divine right.
>>40678> "In" Torbuja? Why not "of" Torbuja?
And I bet this is because Torbuja is not his. It's Edwards. Vlad totally consolidated the power of the local dukes etc, that means now Edward holds every title in Ruhemania, the aristocrats are just his representatives.
Which explains why Mr-does-not-bow is pissed: His ancestors were Dukes of Torbuja or some other place and he thinks those titles are rightfully his.
This also presents a powerful tool to make allies of the aristocrats: We can give them (some, not all) lands and titles… if they swear loyalty to Edwards and his heirs.
That's how feudal systems usually work. And if we play our cards right, it will work well.
sounds like the best write in so far.
soooooo Option 3, with a secondary of 1 if he gets uppity.
>3 votes for option two, regard him sternly until he's compelled to correct his behavior.
>5 votes for option three, try to defuse, and correct, him with a sarcastic comment. (With some notes to order him directly if he still resists.)
>1 vote for option four, ignore the slight (or at least don't react strongly) and move on, for now.
Make a sarcastic comment on his borderline rude behavior.
Poll closed. Update soon.
Open confrontation may be unwise. There's no one to impress other than your loyal soldiers.
But you don't want to let this slide.
You give a slight huff and tilt your head.
…Is that it?
Dimitrie flinches, but says nothing.
So you press on.
You'd think, you say, that a King would deserve a manner of greeting a little more grandiose than… that.
That's not the kind of bow he should give his father, let alone his King.
Though, who can say? Maybe you've just been doing it wrong all these years.
… Your comment gets a reaction.
Just not one you expect.
All of the soldiers in the room give a laugh. Enough to fill the room with their mirth.
…It wasn't that funny, so it's brief and they settle back down quickly.
But it has the unintended effect of unnerving Dimitrie, more than your words alone would do.
You go on to say.
You're King now after all, you don't have to worry about bowing or kneeling ever again.
Aristocrats who live in your Kingdom, and are your subjects besides, on the other hand…
You let yourself trail off.
"…A-apologies… Your… Majesty," says Dimitrie.
You watch him raise his arm again to start another bow…
…then he thinks better of it, and descends to the floor on one knee.
You pause, then you grant him permission to rise.
He does so, as quickly as he can with stumbling.
–His reflexes are actually pretty good. That may be a clue that the sword at his side isn't just for show.
Though you can't be certain.
Now, then, introductions.
By marriage to Her Royal Highness, Princess Tharja, of Ruhemania, daughter of His Royal Majesty, King Vlad, you are His Royal Majesty, King Edward, the rightful King of Ruhemania, Duke of Transylvia, Duke of Chrisania, Duke of Torbuja…
…Ah, you see it.
His eyes widen a bit as you go on and name every last title which passed to you.
You studied hard to be able to recite them all, including their pronunciations, so you can't help but feel a little pride in displaying your knowledge.
…Count of Siviu, Count of Arghest, Count of Buvace…
This may have been a miscalculation. It is a long list.
But you continue reciting, it's too late to back down.
…And last, but certainly not least, Baron of Valachia.
The young aristocrat's emotions have given way to numb acceptance somewhere along the way of listening to all that, you think, as you finish your recitation.
"…Dimitrie, son of Dimitrie and Oana," he offers, finally.
You think you've made your point.
The question was now… where to take the conversation?
>Ask him more about his family. Siblings? Wife? Has he traveled to Valachia alone? It'd be good to know what other guests to expect.
>Ask him about his home. You haven't seen much beyond Valachia's walls, and he might have something interesting to share.
>You want to emphasize your generous side. Ask him if he was able to pay his final respects to King Vlad, and if he's looking forward to the Faire.
>You want to connect more on a personal level. Ask him about the sword he carries. Perhaps if he seemed open to it, you could arrange a spar.
>Allow him the initiative. Prompt him to ask something.
>Continue to pursue your aggressive line of questioning. Ask if he's prepared to pay his taxes.
I vote option two.
Ask about his home. Maybe we'll get lucky, and he really cares about Torbuja, not just the title. If he starts to praise the land an people, not just himself
("Oh, it's the most beautiful place in Ruhemania. The mountains high and mighty, the fields are fertile, the women too") then we get an opening for some diplomacy and we can maybe smooth things over with him. Edward just inherited the title after all, he's not the one who took it.
On the other hand, if he only talks about himself and his ancestral rights, we know that we need to watch him closely. Or better: That we need to ask Beatrice to watch him.
Option two. >>40752
has some very good reasoning.
>6 votes for option two, ask Dimitrie about his home.
>1 vote for option three, ask Dimitrie, perhaps rhetorically, about the positive things you've done in Ruhemania.
Ask Dimitrie about his home in Torbuja.
Poll closed, update soon.
You are curious to hear more about your Kingdom.
You saw very little in your trip from Elbania to the castle.
Varillo's gang and King Vlad saw to that.
You tell Dimitrie to please be at ease.
You've invited all of the notable families of Ruhemania to the castle to celebrate the changing of seasons and enjoy themselves.
It would be a waste of an opportunity to not familiarize yourselves.
He doesn't visibly react to your words, you think he's still unsure of himself.
So, you continue.
You are King, as such you can't exactly go on a tour…
You would like to hear first-hand about Torbuja, if he'd be so generous.
"That was something I wished to discuss with you more privately… Your Majesty."
Hearing him say more than a few words gives you a better appraisal of his voice.
He sounds… like a man with a naturally high-pitched voice trying to sound stern and serious.
…You ask Dimitrie if what he wants to say is sensitive enough he can't say it in front of the royal guards?
If so, you will grant him that audience. If not, he should speak.
He hesitates, then continues.
"Bandits. Robbers. Our land is plagued with them, Your Majesty."
…There it was.
You had expected to hear something like that, eventually.
A report of banditry, in your Kingdom.
If that's the case, you need to hear more.
You bid Dimitrie to continue.
He reaches up a hand to toss his long hair back out of his face.
"There's not much to tell. They are making collection… material collection from the peasants… difficult. Very difficult. I want to beg His Majesty for a remedy."
Dimitrie inhales hard through his nose, you think you see his neck bulge.
"I say, we won't… at the rate it is now, we won't be able to pay our taxes… properly. We'll only have means to sustain ourselves… that is why we ask for a remedy."
He stands ramrod straight, lips thinly pursed.
What's wrong with this picture he's conjured for you?
Dimitrie, aristocrat in Torbuja, tells you of bandits, 'plaguing' his home.
He doesn't describe teary eyes peasants who have come to him in tears begging for protection and asking for them to be punished.
He doesn't talk about the dangers of bandits and how his journey here was periled.
He doesn't talk about hampered trade.
He only asks that he be allowed to go without paying his taxes.
–Well, no. He hadn't directly, outright asked. He stopped short and merely implied it. But with how awkwardly he worded it, he may as well have asked.
You hold a hand over your face, suppressing a sigh.
There's two possibilities here.
One, the likely one you think, is he's conjuring this story up completely to fool you.
You can't help but remember Ricardo's words. That the minor aristocrats will 'realize you're not King Vlad,' and perhaps test you to see if they can stop paying you your taxes.
This definitely sounded like such a test.
…Then again, there is the possibility that he's telling the truth.
If that is the case, then his attitude is perfectly in line with how Daniella described the previous aristocrats who held power in Ruhemania before King Vlad consolidated his Kingdom: selfish and uncaring of the needs of the common people.
Indeed, Dimitrie had only described the problem in terms that mattered to him.
If it isn't a lie, it says bad things about his character and perhaps that of Ruhemania's nobles in particular.
You ask Dimitrie.
How long has this been going on?
"I cannot… precisely say. –Long enough."
After the death of His Royal Majesty, King Vlad, you clarify?
He pauses again, then nods.
"I believe so," he says.
You mull it over. If what you remember about Torbuja is accurate, it's not a terribly large source of tax revenue. It's mostly forest, which would give places for robbers to hide. Either way…
There were several ways to approach this problem.
But, which one?
You rule out directly calling him a liar to his face. That'll make the report on bandits irrelevant and change the issue to a matter about personal honor. Impugning an aristocrat's honor could escalate to a feud, or worse, unless you had absolute proof, which… you don't.
You may be inexperienced politically, but you know that much.
In that case…
>You can't take chances the bandits are imaginary. Tell Dimitrie you will arrange soldiers to return with him to Torbuja and put down the threat.
>Give him what he wants. Tell him he will be asked to deliver a reduced amount of tax this year.
>Hedge your bets and delay the issue. Tell Dimitrie you've heard his plea, and you will consider an appropriate action, later. You can ask Beatrice to spy on him, ask Ricardo for information on how it would affect your taxes, or wait for information from your other guests.
>He's not a very good liar. Ask him more details and try to trap him in a lie. If he contradicts himself, you'll know it's false. –Though it may provoke him.
>You can imply things, too. Ask Dimitrie if he felt nervous walking among the stakes as he made his way to the castle.
Uh, this is fun. I vote for option one.
I'd really like to see him react to option 5, but that's maybe a bit much at the moment. We chose the keep the stakes as a non-verbal reminder. If we have to issue the threats ourselves, we get dangerously close to becoming like Vlad, because of course we'd have to follow through on those threats at least once. (Also: I think we can arrange for someone else to mention the stakes in front of everyone when more guests have arrived)
But I think option one is the prudent course for now. The soldiers don't have to leave right away, so we have the whole summer faire to gather more information from the other guests.
Allowing him to not pay his taxes is out of the question for now. Even an reduction should only be granted after we have verified that the robbers are real and enough of a menace to impact the tax volume. He may not even be strictly lying, just opportunistically exaggerating a relatively harmless situation to get out of his taxes.
Good reasoning, and to be quite honest, more thought than I would have put into it.
Option 1. Protect our vassal if he's telling the truth, make him look like garbage if he's lying.
If the bandits exist, then we're helping…
If not, ball's in your court buddy
The Phoenix Wright fan in me would looooooooooooove to catch this guy in a lie with some cross examination, but our lack of familiarity with the country might be our downfall. But hopefully we'll have a chance to do so in the future.
Option one to play it safe. However, if more nobles start claiming bandit or similar problems, we can't promise all our guards. Just something to keep in mind.
>7 votes for option one, declare that you will send out your soldiers to quell the bandits.
>1 vote for option four, ask for more details and see if he contradicts himself.
Tell Dimitrie you will send out an armed force to end this banditry problem.
You want to sigh, but you put on your best 'regal' expression and nod.
Very well, you say.
The situation leaves you no choice.
You see Dimitrie's eyes light up.
You continue, unabated.
If that is the case, you say, you will have a squad of your most able soldiers assembled. They will proceed to Torbuja and bring justice to the bandits. Whether that's by the blade or by penance, that shall be seen. If they are not murderers, they need not be punished like them.
It's a fair verdict, you think. It was important to remember justice.
Dimitrie's expression crashes into a crestfallen look.
His jaw hangs open; he clearly wasn't expecting that from you.
"W-What?" he asks, stuttering.
You tilt your head.
Did you not make yourself clear, you ask? Also, you'll thank him to address you as 'Your Majesty'.
He closes his mouth and licks his lips, looking very much at a loss of words.
…You're convinced now.
The 'bandits' simply must be fictional. At the very least, if there are bandits, he wasn't expecting you to provide a real solution.
He wanted his family's taxes cut, nothing more.
"Um… Your Majesty… I pray… perhaps the problem is not so… large… as to require such a royal intervention, so directly," he says, grasping at metaphorical straws.
–You'll play along. May as well let him save face.
Is that so, you ask?
Perhaps Torbuja has the means to deal with this banditry with its own resources?
"Y-Yes! Absolutely. …Your Majesty."
You make a show of going 'hm' and nodding.
Perhaps he's right. Bandits… aren't very smart, generally speaking.
You think you can see Dimitrie outright sweating, now.
"No, Your Majesty… that they aren't. Not at all."
Very well, you say.
In that case, you will expect Dimitrie to see to it that the plague he described is resolved… justly.
And, that your taxes will be paid, in full.
Furthermore, if you receive news that there is a bandit problem in Torbuja and nothing is being done, you will become very… disappointed.
You are placing your trust in him to resolve the issue.
That is the only acceptable agreement.
Dimitrie looks strained. He's holding his hands tight at his side. Though he seems glad that at least he has an out.
"Yes, Your Majesty. Your… resolution is very fair."
You thank Dimitrie for bringing the matter to you.
Inwardly, you give yourself a little pat on the back.
Being King wasn't so hard!
You'd outmaneuvered this fellow with his half-baked 'banditry' scheme, at least.
You thank Dimitrie again for bringing up the issue, but when you asked about Torbuja, you wanted to know more about the land.
What are the people like? What about the earth? What lives there, grows there? Trade, activities?
He hesitates, looking away for the moment. You think he must be choosing his words carefully, now that you've verbally disarmed him.
"It's… boring. There's… trees, I suppose," he says after some thought.
In that case, you're very glad he's chosen to accept your invitation and attend your Summer Faire.
He doesn't say anything else. You think you'd better prompt him again.
You'd like to know a little more about his expectations before dismissing him.
There simply has to be something that excites him… if you can find that out, you can perhaps get on his good side and put this incident behind you.
>Ask Dimitrie about if he has any family brought with him, and whether he's looking forward to enjoying the festivities with them.
>Ask if Dimitrie has heard about the jousting competition, and announce the prize as a Knighthood.
>Mention the presence of the Priest and try to find out if he's particularly pious.
I vote for option one.
He may have nothing to say for his part of the country or his fellow men and women living there, but if he has family, that's must be a to get him to talk about something positive. Everybody loves to talk about how smart and beautiful their children are, right? And considering that he has no title to speak of, he may even have married his wife out of love. Here's hoping that there's something nice in him.
Damn, dude, when did you get a doppleganger? Anyways, Option One seems like a good way to revive his spirits a little after that CRUSHING defeat.
I'm worried that along about family could bring up what Kind Vlad probably did to his family and his missing aristocratic title.
It's important to introduce ourselves to all our guests.
That turned out better than I thought. Niccccce.
Option 2. That sword suggests he might be a fighter. Let's see if that's true.
>5 votes for option one, prompt him to talk about his family.
>2 votes for option two, introduce the jousting competition and the prize.
>2 votes for option three, mention the Priest and future services.
Ask Dimitrie about his family.
Poll closed. Update soon.
Perhaps Dimitrie will be happy to talk about his family.
You prompt him by asking if he was the only respondent to the invitation?
You know it was meant for his whole family.
Is his wife with him?
Dimitrie… shakes his head.
"Nay, Your Majesty, I'm not married."
–Well, he is still young.
Perhaps finding him a wife would improve his mood.
Any siblings, you ask?
He shakes his head again.
"I have none. Your Majesty."
You're getting concerned you may be stepping on a sensitive subject.
Dimitrie pauses, eyes blinking as he turns his head, just slightly.
"My mother is with me."
He gives a sharp little twitch at that.
"..Dead for many a year, Your Majesty."
You offer him your condolences.
…You can't help but feel a little guilty.
You told him his bow wasn't fit for even addressing his father, and his father is dead.
You waver over whether you should apologize for the remark, but he continues speaking.
"My mother is at an advanced age of six decades, Your Majesty. I… apologize on her behalf that she is resting rather than addressing you."
You shake your head and wave off the notion.
No need for apologies. You certainly understand the trouble of making such a journey.
–Though, six decades?
You can't help but inwardly wonder.
That would likely put her close to Ricardo in terms of age. That was definitely old enough to have experienced the war in some capacity.
You'd say it explains why Dmitrie's father is dead, but…
Dimitrie isn't that old. He's of age, but he isn't older than you, you expect.
How does this make sense?
Dmitrie's mother must have become pregnant near the very end of her window to bear children.
You can't help but wonder if she was married before, or if Dimitrie has hidden half-siblings like Ricardo and Tharja ended up being.
…At any rate, perhaps it's none of your business.
You tell Dimitrie to please extend your greetings to his mother, Oana. You look forward to meeting her personally later.
–You hope showing you remember her name at least impresses him, but he looks underwhelmed.
"Y-Yes, of course… Your Majesty."
He falls silent.
…Looks like it falls to you to continue.
Dimitrie's family situation seems unusual, but not unreasonably so.
Would it be taboo to outright ask about his family's history during the war?
He might not know. In which case, you'd have to ask his mother.
Though if it were a taboo, it might be more of a taboo to ask someone who lived in that era.
Was it possible they were persecuted by King Vlad?
If they were, the family would likely all be dead. King Vlad didn't take half-measures.
The penalty for association with witchcraft was either the stake, or execution. The punishment for rejecting King Vlad's law was the same, apparently, though the ordinary people who didn't know about witches conflated the two.
Either Dimitrie's family was unimportant enough they escaped notice, or they accepted King Vlad's rule immediately.
If they were ever landed nobles, they would have definitely been executed. There was no other way King Vlad would hold the titles of Torbuja otherwise. He certainly didn't marry into any families.
Maybe you'd best move on instead.
>You are curious. Try to ask Dimitrie about his family's role in the history of Ruhemania… subtly, without directly asking or implying anything about the war.
>You're too curious. Just ask outright how King Vlad's unification war affected their family. Still, don't do anything to imply they were ever traitors, of course.
>You're not that curious. Move on to trying to connect to him personally again. Just run through a list of things the Faire will have and see how he reacts.
I vote for option three.
I think we have been lucky that Edward managed this encounter so good. Asking him now to be "subtle" and sensitive… I don't know, that will backfire.
I think the more prudent course of action is to talk about something else with Dimitrie right now, talk with Ricardo about Torbuja's history afterwards to get the "official" version of the story first, and then maybe talk to Dimitrie again during the faire, if we get curious enough about his family's version of the story.
I highly agree, so I vote for for option 3.
Agreed. Option three.
I agree. Vote for option 3.
Do we really expect the guy who couldn't find one interesting sentence to say about the place where he lives to give us detailed historical information?
And even if he does, do we trust the guy whose first request to royalty was a tax scam to make it accurate and complete information?
We'd be much better off asking Ricardo. Or Oana. I bet she's smarter than her son, to have survived without her husband to age sixty while raising a son.
>8 votes for option three, move on from the topic to the Faire.
Play safe and shift the subject to the Faire to see what Dimitrie would be most interested in.
Dimitrie seems tight-lipped about his family and circumstances, for now.
You decide to just play it safe and talk about the Faire.
In the meantime, you tell Dimitrie, all guests to the Faire will enjoy the accommodations you've provided. If they don't find it adequate, please inform one of the maids. You take a personal interest in everyone's comfort as your guest.
You tell him you've spared no expense on entertainment, and you expect the castle will be full of revelers, musicians, and other performers.
You go on to mention the Priest who provides services to the castle is with you all as your guest and there will be opportunity for religious guidance along with the festivities.
It's not much to you personally when the priest comes to visit every two weeks, but you imagine if Dimitrie actually wanted to attend a service in his homeland, he'd likely have to make a trip to a nearby monastery himself.
… You're running out of hope for Dmitrie. Maybe he's just sulking because his plan didn't work like he imagined.
Lastly, but not least, you mention the jousting tournament should be held sometime in the last legs of the Faire, to give the competitors time to sign up and prepare.
His eyes light up again and you watch his face perk up.
"There's a jousting tournament…?" he asks. His tone tells you he's interested.
Yes, you say.
All able-bodied persons, nobleman and commoner, are open to compete. It's an anonymous contest, so the jousters will choose aliases and wear visored helmets.
At the end, the winner will be unmasked and awarded the prize. You will bestow upon them a Knighthood.
Dimitrie lets out a short gasp.
You're not sure which part of that caught his excitement, but he definitely looks interested now.
You actually watch him smile for the first time since he's stepped in here.
–That's strange that he hadn't heard about it though, you thought it was mentioned in your invitations.
"I… will compete, Your Majesty."
You'll gladly welcome him as a challenger, but he'll need to talk with the stablehands who are doing the organizing. Especially if he has no horse fit for riding.
You're actually not sure the plans regarding that. You know Ruhemanian horses are trained for intelligence. Perhaps sign-ups will be allowed to acclimate themselves to their rides.
At any rate, you have your first confirmed entrant.
You're not sure what sort of Knight Dimitrie would make if he actually won, but you wish him luck none the less.
It seems your impression that the presence of the sword at his side would mean he's martial minded, or at least, physically active, was correct.
Perhaps this was an opportunity to further build your relationship.
You just have to take a guess on what exactly he'd be most interested in.
>Invite Dimitrie to associate with your soldiers at the armory. They have a variety of weapons he could try out, and many sparring partners.
>Invite Dimitrie to a personal practice spar with you some time. If he'd be interested.
>Ask Dimitrie if he does much horse riding. There's a particularly impressive horse in the stables he could view.
I vote for option two.
If Dimitrie is an old-fashioned manly type, a sword fight may be another opportunity to overcome the animosity and gain some mutual respect.
I vote for option 1. Option two is a bad idea because if he beats us then it looks REALLY BAD for dear eddy.
Agreed, Option Two.
How does it look bad? If Dimitrie is the better sword fighter, he deserves to win. And Edward always had that attitude, even with the lower class like his soldiers. In fact, if Dimitrie wins, this tells us something important: That he has some backbone and does not simply lie down for his King. That may be good or bad, but it is definitely useful for us to know, right?
The only downside I see is that Edward could injure himself and not be fit for the joust later.
Option 1. Let's not tip our hand.
Option 2 is a bad idea for a bunch of reasons, and I'm not sure what 3 is supposed to be beyond showing off our horse.
D'oh! I meant Option One.
Option 3 is a trap - if we brag about Eclipse, then even Dim can guess that's the horse we'll be riding in the tournament. We'll lose our anonymity!
I don't think sparring with him is that risky, but I think it gives him too much leeway to do something underhanded.
Letting him interact with our ultra-loyal guard bros, on the other hand, is an indirect way of showing how secure his new king's position is.
>6 votes for option one, permit and invite Dimitrie to associate with your soldiers and examine your weaponry.
>1 vote for option two, invite Dimitrie to a personal spar.
>2 votes for option three, invite Dimitrie to examine your stables.
Permit and suggest Dimitrie visit the soldiers at the armory.
Poll closed. Update soon.
There's a chance Dimitrie is more of a hunter than a soldier, so to speak, in which case he might be interested in seeing your stables.
–But, no. If that were the case, he'd probably have more to say about his homeland than 'It has trees'.
You're also not entirely sure he actually knows how to use that sword. He may just be carrying it to look good. You'd known a few peers in Virilia who did things like that. In which case, challenging him to a spar would be putting him on the spot and possibly just embarrass him.
He might be interested in weapons for their own sake. You doubt he has access to the sort of armory at your castle, either.
You tell Dimitrie you have a good idea.
The guards practice regularly at the armory, in all manner of combat: close, long range, and projectile.
He's welcome to try them out, practice, and even ask them to spar if he'd like.
What's inside is probably too much to show to Dimitrie outright, but he has permission to be asked to be shown things.
You remember you yourself weren't permitted to actually go inside the armory until you were actually King.
"Pardon, Your Majesty… but wouldn't that be the same as… an attack?"
It's your turn to be confused.
What does he mean, you ask?
"Sparring with one of your soldiers and injuring or killing them… it'd be an attack."
Your confusion gives away to curiosity.
Would that really be a risk?
You suppose it's possible to kill someone with a wooden sword if one were really determined, but there would be no need to let it go beyond the other yelling 'yield'.
Dimitrie gives a little shrug and takes on a smug grin.
"I'm sorry, Your Majesty… when I spar, I prefer to spar for keeps. Nothing else will do."
He hefts the sword at the side of his belt, looking very proud of himself.
… It takes you a moment to put together what he's saying, but when you do…
You can only reach one conclusion.
He doesn't know what he's doing!
No one, but the most ignorant or the most arrogant of swordsmen, would ever say something like… that.
…You can't help but frown, but you clasp a hand over your mouth like you're thinking about his words to hide the expression.
A memory of you as a young lad and saying such a thing when you were permitted to handle a sword of real iron for the first time floods you with emotions.
You silently cringe in embarrassment.
At least you can say you… outgrew… that sort of notion.
You spare a peek at your soldiers.
Judging by the way the guards are looking incredibly tight lipped, they must be thinking the same thing.
You understand, you say.
If that's the case, you'll thank Dimitrie not to spar with one of your soldiers. They are able-bodied men and you would not wish them to perish so easily.
You don't mean the comment to be sarcastic, exactly.
But any perceived slight he could take from it flies right over Dimitrie's head.
"Perhaps I will take advantage of the other half of your invitation, Your Majesty."
…Very good, you say.
You can't think of where else to take the conversation. You think you need time to recover.
You speak a few more words of thanks for his attending your Faire and further promises it will be memorable.
"Not at all. Thank you very much for the audience… Your Majesty."
He kneels again, a little more easier. You think he forgot he was supposed to have entered showing some measure of defiance to you.
You bid him well and dismiss him; Dimitrie rises, turns, and exits out the door, with a little bit of a spring in his step.
You sit in your throne a little longer, reflecting.
You think you did connect with Dimitrie on some level, though you didn't quite impress him.
On the other hand, you maneuvered around his swindle and avoided provoking him into a full blown bout of open resentment and a possible feud.
You can't say you have a positive impression of him… but you can't exactly choose who is a noble.
You can choose who you favor and who will hold your titles, however. If even anyone.
Finally you rise and dismiss your guards, returning your crown to its place.
You avoid eye contact with the guards. It's tempting to share a jeer with them mocking Dimitrie behind his back, but you think they'll do that by themselves without your encouragement.
As for you…
You want to finish your breakfast.
You depart back to the sitting room to try to do just that.
You rejoin Beatrice and Tharja in the sitting room. Elizabeth and Margaret are there as well, of course.
You avoid saying anything about the new arrival and instead try to finish your meal.
Though inwardly, your mind is racing.
Dimitrie represented the first real conflict in your court.
The burgmeister had been amicable enough, even if he clearly had his own interests as well.
But Dimitrie had appeared defiant, if not quite hostile, and attempted deception on you.
You ponder if you should take any… countermeasures.
Beatrice was one option. Perhaps she'd be distracted, but you could ask her opinion, at least.
Ricardo was another, though you had already consulted him about the burgmeister… it might be simple paranoia, but you're not sure if you should confide your thoughts on every last aristocrat with him.
Besides that, you had your soldiers who could potentially spy on him.
Was it worth using any of them? At least, now?
Your castle is still relatively empty. It may be easier to learn more about Dimitrie now rather than later.
You do have another idea.
You've met Dimitrie, what about meeting with his mother?
At any rate, she'll likely be politer. She might have something more interesting to say.
In that case…
>Consult Beatrice. You're interested in hearing her impression and if she's at a point she could do a little information gathering.
>Consult Ricardo. He might be able to give you some context for Dimitrie's behavior.
>Consult your loyal soldiers and see if any of them can tell you anything about the behavior of your new guests.
>Arrange a meeting with Oana.
>It's too early to make any moves. Do nothing. Just stick to your normal routine for now and take things as they come. There will be new guests soon.
We should arrange a meeting with Oana tomorrow to give her a chance to rest. Other than that, Dimitrie isn't worth our time.
Option 4 - meet with Oana
I think that she would have some interesting things to say after living through Vlad's crusade.
It's too early to talk to Beatrice or the soldiers. The guests have only just arrived.
Oana is somewhat interesting, but I think *arranging* a meeting with her specifically will look weird. You don't drag guests, let alone elderly lady guests, into one-on-one interrogations (sorry, I mean friendly Q&A sessions) on a whim. There'll definitely be rumours flying about why the King was so interested in a random old noblewoman.
If we get a chance to talk to Oana, sure, take it. At most maybe we can engineer a 'chance' meeting later on, Beatrice would probably call that laughably easy. But no royal summons, that's way too direct.
Tempting to do nothing, but with more guests coming soon to take up our time let's talk to Ricardbro now. He'll probably agree we made the right moves, but might have more insight into the nobles, their motivations and what our next move should be.
My opinion is that Dim is the kind of young fool that can be easily manipulated once you know what carrot to dangle in front of him…
Option 2. Ricardo should be familiar with something mundane like this. Save Beatrice for a bigger problem.
Option 2. Ricardbro hasn't steered us wrong yet in this department, and he does seem to genuinely appreciate that Edward favors his advice, so why not.
Ricardo is going to know the family histories in this land like no one else will.
>5 votes for option two, meet with Ricardo.
>5 votes for option four, meet with Oana.
We have a tie.
I will come back in a little while and if there is still a tie, I will flip a coin to decide the result.
If you have not yet voted and you wish to do so, please vote immediately.
Please feel no pressure to change your vote. Changing your vote will not make the update come faster.
I vote for option 2: meet with Ricardo
I'm actually going to change my vote to Ricardbro as well. >>41085
has some really good reasoning.
Option 2, meet with Ricardo
>8 votes for option two, meet with Ricardo.
>4 votes for option four, meet with Oana.
Consult with Ricardo for perspective on the state of Torbuja.
Poll closed. Update soon.
It's too early to call in Beatrice.
Beatrice is special. She's your trump card. You'd rather not bother her over Dimitrie.
Similarly, the web of informants you set up in the armed guard patrols is probably not worth invoking just yet.
You are tempted to try to make a more personal impression on Oana, But it was perhaps too early for that as well.
That left Ricardo, or doing nothing, and you didn't feel content with doing nothing.
At least Ricardo will give you access to hard information.
You finish eating. It took you a little longer than Tharja and Beatrice, so it's just you and your two maids left by the time you're done.
You don't have the time or the mental energy to engage Elizabeth or Margaret that closely, though.
You simply leave them to clean up and make your way to the treasury.
You're delayed enough that by the time you reach the treasury, Ricardo has already sat down at his desk and started to work.
He gazes up from his writings and you exchange greetings.
You have a new task for him, you say.
It's time you put Ricardo's filing system to the test.
You want to look over all relevant information about Torbuja.
You give him context that it's to familiarize yourself with the situation of the aristocracy there, without telling him details about Dimitrie or your meeting.
You'll decide if the prospect of 'bandits' could be a legitimate issue Torbuja could be facing, or if the entire idea is without merit.
Ricardo nods, neutrally.
"As you wish, Your Majesty."
It's not as simple as that.
Whatever Ricardo's filing system is, it apparently is not organized by location.
He digs out a wealth of scrolls and documents, some of them look as old as Ricardo himself.
"Take care not to sneeze, if you will, Your Majesty."
…It takes effort.
A spot is cleared away in the back room and you slowly look over the documents.
Ricardo can't just leave them with you. They're dense enough and the names are unfamiliar enough that you can't keep track of what is what.
Furthermore, Ricardo admits they are purposely left vague in spaces as a way of adding security and deterring their theft.
"If anyone could decipher them, the information would be too sensitive to store in this manner."
…And it's a form of job security for Ricardo that he's needed to interpret them.
You guess, voicing your suspicion out loud.
"I'm happy to be replaced, and will make all efforts to educate any new Master of Coin you designate, Your Majesty."
Furthermore, he adds, he's old, but some of the records do predate the time he fully assumed his duties as Master of Coin.
The system was taught and passed on to him.
"It would have been an effort to re-make it, Your Majesty."
You nod. You can't help but see the logic there.
There's nothing in Ricardo's notes that give you clues about Dimitrie's family, or what the political situation was like, and who died to make them relevant.
Ricardo's the Master of Coin, not a diplomat. If details like that existed, they were likely stored in King Vlad's head.
Furthermore, there are no tax records or other indicators of Torbuja's prosperity before King Vlad took control of the titles because it was not one of his original territories.
That at least tells you he earned it through conquest. Which is something.
However, you do find maps and economic facts tucked away that, with Ricardo's help, begin to paint a broad picture.
Torbuja is, as Dimitrie suggested, primarily composed of forest.
That means there's little farmland, and the subsistence of the people depended on hunting, and, to a very limited extent, trading. Mostly of pelts and furs.
'Little farmland' doesn't mean 'no farmland,' however.
There is enough for Torbuja to draw taxes from one berg.
However, it's clear from the amounts being paid over the years that Torbuja is not a very desirable place to live. Farmland output is low. Iron is low. Luxuries are non-existent.
You're not sure if that makes banditry more likely or less likely.
So you decide to ask Ricardo his opinion: would bandits ever be a problem in this area?
"The line between 'subsistence hunter' and 'bandit' can be very slim, Your Majesty… I'd imagine they both use the same basic tools."
That's a bit oversimplifying, but that may be the case. The forest would provide a place to hide, though it wouldn't be comfortable for any would-be bandits.
"Let me draw your attention to these figures…"
Ricardo points out that because Torbuja is not a place that has active trade, that means trade with Torbuja would be traders going in to Torbuja, instead of out from Torbuja.
Furthermore, since it isn't a place of frequent trade, the little trade that was occurring was likely bartering, not with gold. You can't eat gold.
"If one really wanted a pelt or a fur or whatever, they would travel there with whatever items they had to offer, then make the trade, then leave."
Which would mean…
"Bandits would likely prey on outsiders making their entrance into Torbuja, before they make their trade."
If they waited until they were leaving, the outsiders would no longer have any goods for bartering. If they waited to rob the people being traded with, the subsistence hunters would likely take their items and move on, making it unsustainable.
…In other words, if there were bandits in Torbuja, it was likely the people of Torbuja would not be the ones actually affected. It'd be whatever neighbors they had.
Meaning the complaint would be less likely to come from the aristocracy there and more likely to come from merchants passing on the message from another territory.
… You give a great big sigh.
Well, that settles that.
The bandits were, probably, fictitious.
You go ahead and tell Ricardo the whole story about your meeting with Dimitrie, at least regarding his claim of seeking a remedy for a banditry situation and how he reacted to your decree.
He listens, nodding without committing himself.
"It may be unlikely for bandits to be a problem, but not impossible."
He points out banditry might make sense if there was truly no food other than what was growing in the burgs and they were pillaging for pure lack of food.
He commends you for not falling for it.
"Though committing to sending any amount of soldiers there was… risky… Your Majesty. I imagine the cost of getting them there would likely nullify the amount you would recoup from stopping any actual banditry."
–This is the sort of thing that goes beyond calculations like that, you say.
But his reaction proves the falsity of the claim?
Obviously he stopped insisting on something being done about the bandits because when your guards actually reached his territory there'd be no bandits to be found.
He mulls the words over and shrugs.
"It's impossible to be certain… but perhaps in that case he also feared whatever other instructions you may give the guards. Something like: 'If you don't find any bandits, enforce my tax, immediately.' …For example."
Ricardo has a good point.
At any rate, you thank him for indulging your questions.
You've learned enough about Torbuja, you think.
It's apparently the equivalent of an untamed forest, like much of what you marched through to get to Castle Valachia.
…Though that brings an obvious question in mind.
Why is there no effort to create a sort of lumber or timber trade?
"The simple answer may be there was never any need… lumber is useless without something to build, or at least people to sell it to who will build."
Hm. What about your tower, you ask?
Ricardo answers that the construction of the tower is mainly masonry, and that the amount of lumber that was used for it was more than adequately supplied by closer sources.
Though you do like your idea. Maybe that's something you could consider for the future. Possibly.
There was too much untapped potential in Ruhemania.
You can't think of anything else worth asking Ricardo.
What you've learned doesn't reveal anything dramatic about family. Though you are able to infer…
It's clear that aristocrats living in such a place would be a bit isolated. Perhaps less eager to trust outsiders than others? And as a result, less socialized and… practiced politically. Perhaps even desperate to keep what little they had than surrender it as tax?
–You may be making assumptions.
It'll do you no good to sympathize with those who may have tried to trick you either.
You depart the treasury, and, once you reach a window that shows you the sun, you realize to your horror that you've spent whole hours in there and it's actually time for your midday meal!
No wonder Ricardo had so little concern for the world beyond his calculations.
You would too if you had to invest so much time in it.
You hurry to the sitting room.
>No choice yet. Further updates coming soon.
A few days pass without any new nobles arriving.
However, one day a guard stationed at the draw bridge comes to you around mid-morning, thankfully, after your meal.
There's a matter that requires your attention.
It involves a dispute being made by a merchant who has arrived in Castle Valachia.
You aren't sure what sort of 'dispute' someone would have when the Faire has barely begun, but…
You'll hear it.
You tell the guard to please deliver him to the throne room, where you will meet him and grant an audience.
He salutes, and tells you it will be done.
You stop your spar with one of the other guards and go to get there first.
You've arranged yourself on your throne when the merchant is brought to meet you by another guard.
His name is not announced by the guard at the door, but he greets you as 'My Liege' and kneels to the floor.
He's a portly man. So portly you almost think to tell him to spare his legs before kneeling, but you hesitate and the moment passes.
He rises back to his feet… after a few moments.
It wouldn't surprise you if the merchant was selling some sort of food items.
"I won't waste your time, My Liege, my request is simple…"
The merchant wants permission to set up his wares and begin selling them.
He was told he wasn't allowed to by the guards.
The guard who guided him there speaks up.
"We received instructions regarding the state of merchants…"
There is only a set amount of space for merchants to operate in the castle without it becoming too crowded for other festivities.
The space is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.
However, to promote fairness, merchants are forbidden from selling their wares until all the space is accounted for… or at least until it's reasonable to do so, if the space doesn't fill up completely.
This ensures competing merchants with similar goods all have a fair chance at selling them, rather than those who simply arrive at the castle sooner than the other.
The merchant humbly objects to this policy.
"Is it really fair to penalize a man for being early to the party, My Liege?"
Despite his language, he might have a point, and yet… you can't be sure.
On the one hand, it is fairer to all merchants to enforce that rule. All the same, even if you allow it, he might find he doesn't have an audience who can patronize him, just yet.
The fat merchant smiles, lips curling behind his thick whiskers.
"Ah, but I'm very willing to offer a tribute that may earn your favor, My Liege…"
In exchange for your permission, he'll offer the crown a personal gift from his stock, and a promise to sell at a discount if you decide to place any more orders for what he's selling.
…He leaves out what exactly he is selling, but before you raise your voice to ask, you hesitate.
If you ask what he's selling, that's an indication that you're at least considering his offer.
It may make you look bad to send a message that you can be bribed, or at least tempted into doing so. That is basically what it is, even if you're not calling it that.
…Though, does that matter?
This policy might be only for show, in which case you'd be refusing a gift for no tangible reason.
You raise a hand to your chin and ponder your options.
You could simply refuse, insist the policy is to be followed, and leave it at that.
Or, you could agree, and show you're placing your faith in the merchant's promises and you expect him to deliver.
Third, you could hedge your bet and ask first what exactly he is selling.
Though that may complicate matters. He may take it as an offense if you ask and then are unimpressed by the items enough to turn him down.
–Who made this policy, anyway?
Maybe you should summon him, let him hear the request, and ask his advice.
The merchant watches you, expectantly, with a hopeful grin on his face.
You inhale a breath and open your mouth to speak.
You're the King, so you speak with absolute authority on the matter. And…
>Deny the request outright. Every merchant must follow the rules fairly. There is simply no discussion.
>You're convinced enough to relent. Allow the merchant his 'early bird' license to sell his goods. Receive his tribute.
>Take the middle ground and ask what the merchant is selling. At least you want to hear if it's something good.
>Inform the merchant you will seek the advice of your Master of Coin. Summon Ricardo to the throne room to hear the plea. You want his opinion.
Fuck this guy for trying to bribe us and thinking he can pull one over on everyone else.
I also don't like the idea of appealing to Ricardo in a public setting. It's fine to ask him of matters of importance relating to coin in his office, but we're king now, and if we want to inspire pride, loyalty, and confidence, we want to make sure we aren't constantly deferring for every minor issue.
I vote for option 1.
This is the first real experience most of the merchants and nobles will have with Edward and taking options 2 or 3 undermine the image we're trying to project. Option 4 makes Ricardo look like he's secretly in charge, so we should only consult him in private (not that I really think that we should ask him here)
Option 1. Thank him for the offer, but the rules are rules.
I think Option 3 is the correct choice. Although the rule may seem to be fair to merchants, it heavily screws over merchants who show up with perishable goods early. There are no refrigerators or iceboxes, after all. We should ask what he's selling, and if it's perishable, we should allow him to sell before his stock expires.
How long is it until the Faire anyway?
We ain't taking no bribes. There can't be prosperity in a culture of corruption and favour-seeking. Vlad made it an iron rule not to alter deals, we have to uphold that firmness even in small matters.
I'm sure we're passing up something really cool though :(
1. Bribery and favours are a slippery slope. Before we know, every merchant will promise us cheaper things for some coin to the crown. The law is the law
The Faire is technically speaking already happening, just not everyone has shown up yet.
>6 votes for option one, deny the request outright.>2 votes for option three, hear what the merchant is selling, at least.
Enforce the law as is, and deny the merchant's request.
Poll closed. Update soon.
You don't need to hear anything more.
The policy is in place to protect the fairness toward all merchants and encourage their competition. This benefits both the merchants and the people the goods are being sold to.
The merchant has made no convincing argument other than offering you a personal tribute, which isn't persuasive enough to change a law that is meant to be fair.
If the merchant had been a later arrival he'd be upset if you had changed the law for someone else, surely.
Therefore, the law stands. The merchant will not be able to sell his goods before anyone else, same as everyone else. The guards were correct in preventing him from doing so.
That is all.
You make it clear from your tone that you won't accept any wheedling or other arguments from the merchant.
The merchant looks a bit crestfallen, he must've thought he would get away with it.
"As you say, My Liege…"
He forces himself to smile and act cheerful again.
"Of course if it pleases you I will offer my tribute to you anyway, out of respect for holding the Faire at all."
He goes on to explain his gift will be a collection of salted meats and a selection of fur clothing.
It seems you were correct in your appraisal. He is indeed a food seller.
At least salted meat is something that won't spoil. If he was offering something perishable, that could have possibly justified allowing him to open his stand early. As of now, not so.
You wonder if he sells salt as salt or only salted meat. It would indeed be worthwhile to have spice at your table.
…Perhaps that's why you're only getting the salted meat as tribute. Maybe the cooks can boil the salt out of it and save it for later…
Does this still looks too much like a bribe?
You could tell the merchant you refuse the gift.
…Though he did say it was in thanks for holding the Faire.
Maybe you should insist on paying for it, at least.
>Accept the gift, you'll decide later if you want to place an order for more.
>Refuse the gift.
>Insist on paying for the gift.
I vote for option one.
Meat is nice and I'm sure it will be tasty. But I'm more interested in the fur. Maybe we can make something nice for our ladies out of it.
Paying is probably not a good idea given our finances. Refusing… I mean… yes, we could. On the other hand: I'm hungry right now and I have the image of Beatrice in nothing but a small piece of fur stuck in my head ;-)
Refusing or paying for a freely-given gift is bad manners. It might be wise to check for poison or tampering, but I think that's just paranoia.
Honestly I say option 1, and I agree with the wizard. A fur coat is a bit more fitting for a king then salted meat, no?
Hm… if he's forcing himself to act cheerful, he could be offering the tribute out of obligation, and he might resent us for still taking something without getting something in return. Though I suppose he's just trying to stay in our good graces.
Personally, I say we politely refuse. The fur will likely get him a lot of coin that he can use for his livelihood.
>4 votes for option one, accept his gift.
>2 votes for option two, refuse.
Accept what the merchant offers.
Poll closed. Update soon.
Surely offering a tribute for a new King can't be construed as a bribe. Furthermore, turning it down might be taken as an insult.
You tell the merchant you'll gladly accept his gift.
You look forward to sampling what he has to offer.
The merchant gives you his gracious thanks for the kind words and starts to kneel again.
…This time you raise a hand and tell him a bow will suffice.
"I gladly look forward to any orders you may want to place, My Liege."
You give a little noncommittal nod.
You think you're done with the merchant. You go ahead and dismiss him.
That leaves you free to return to what you were doing, so you resume your daily schedule.
You're tempted to go visit Ricardo right away, but you're hungry enough you go to eat, first.
You arrive at the sitting room for your midday meal.
Awaiting you is a plate of salted meat. Margaret confirms it is the meat that was provided by the merchant, with his compliments.
Tharja and Beatrice look curious about it as well. Perhaps Tharja more than Beatrice.
It occurs to you that the merchant never specified exactly what type of meat you were getting.
Maybe the same animal used for the fur?
In which case you can only hope for elk meat and not fox or wolf meat.
Margaret takes a bite of the presented plate.
You muse to yourself this may be the first time Margaret is in real danger, because the meal was something prepared beyond the castle's usual stores or the usual cooks.
However, she does not drop dead.
You begin to eat.
The salt reminds you of the journey you took to Ruhemania and the smell the air had while you were at sea.
And the salted herring, which you had to begrudgingly get used to eating. This at least is a little more pleasant.
You're still not entirely sure what the meat is. It could be pork? It's hard to tell. It's not fish… that's the limit of your ability to tell the difference.
Tharja looks interested in your reaction.
"How is it, my husband?"
It's certainly edible. It tastes like salted meat. If you were making the journey from the port of Elbania to Castle Valachia, this would be absolutely gourmet. A true luxury.
However, when you're in your castle and used to having a cook prepare your meals, it feels more 'adequate'.
Perhaps if you could've had it boiled in water that would've made it a little more… palpable.
Then again, perhaps it was worth stocking up on the meat if you had to personally travel, or possibly for the long winter.
You ask Margaret how much meat is left after the meal you're eating?
"I believe that is the full stock that was offered, Your Majesty."
…That stingy merchant.
You do your best to suppress a groan, but inwardly you're on the brink of being upset.
This had to be a subtle retaliation for not giving him the permission he sought.
You follow up by asking Margaret if the fur has been delivered?
You expect her not to know what you're talking about.
But instead, she gives a nod.
"Yes, Your Majesty. It's being held for your approval."
She further offers that she believes it's a scarf of some sort.
You can't help but think that must be another extension of the merchant's revenge. Offering a scarf instead of a full coat, or even mittens. …No perhaps mittens are less than a scarf in terms of value…
Whatever. You're hardly an expert, but you'll look it over for its quality.
You finish eating and beg the ladies your pardon. You have a gift to inspect.
Hopefully the old adage about looking it in the mouth won't apply.
Margaret leads you to your personal maid in one of the laundry rooms. She has the garment and shows it to you.
It's indeed a scarf. Judging by the color you say it's likely a fox fur.
It's a bright sort of orange-red at any rate. It's missing any head or tail. You're not sure if that increases or decreases its value.
You give it a stroke with your hand.
It is incredibly soft… feels thick as well.
You're no trapper, but you know enough about animals to know winter coats were thicker than summer. This felt like the fox was caught in winter. You could believe it, at least.
You decide to put it on. It's awkward around your cape, but you just sort of wrap it around your neck lightly.
It certainly is warm…
You think you'd better remove it before you sweat on it. You pull it off from around you.
You look down at the fur and imagine needing to wear it in winter.
You'd rather have a full fur coat, you decide.
Having just a scarf… it feels perhaps too… feminine?
You're not sure you personally would wear it.
No one says you have to.
You could make it a gift.
You can't help but think it would be attractive to see one of the women you interact with wearing this… and possibly nothing else.
If you were concerned with appearances, it'd only be acceptable to gift it to Tharja, but…
It's summer now. No matter who you give it to, they won't be wearing it until winter. Therefore no one will see it and you don't need to be concerned about appearances.
Whoever you give it to should give you at least a private show of wearing it…
>Gift it to Tharja. You need to let her know she's appreciated.
>Gift it to Beatrice. You want to see her reaction.
>Someone else. (Write-in.)
Long no see. Option 1.
Option 2. Beatrice is the kind of creature that thrives on gifts and attention, even more-so apparent than the wifey.
I agree with this. Vote option 2
Option 2. I think Tharja is happy right now, so let's go with Beatrice. Let her know we think of her.
Beatrice would definitely like this more than Tharja, but we should definitely do something for her as well.
I vote Option one.
Beatrice is the infinite golden witch. We should never forget that. She can have any material good she wants with the snap of her fingers. If we treat her like a mortal woman we may even insult her. And that's definitely dangerous. It would make sense if we somehow had to keep up appearances with her mortal persona. But that's not the case right now. In fact, i think it's best if we prefer our wife in public even if everybody knows B is our mistress.
Option one. Give it to Tharja, she'll appreciate it more.
>4 votes for option one, make it a gift to Tharja.
>5 votes for option two, gift the fur to Beatrice.
Gift it to Beatrice to see her reaction to it.
Poll closed. Update soon.
Tharja would most likely get the most practical use out of the scarf… Beatrice could likely use her magic in the winter to keep warm or create something to keep her warm. Her fashion was dictated by her style and whims.
But, you're not really interested in who can actually use the scarf as a scarf right now.
You want to see Beatrice react to the gift.
You instruct the maid to take it to your room and leave it there.
She starts to tell you it must be stored properly, but you interrupt her and tell her you're not keeping it there long-term.
Therefore there's no need to worry about properly storing it, just leave it on something clean.
She bows and tells you it will be so. Good.
In the meantime…
Perhaps you can catch Ricardo before he retires for the evening.
You set up another meeting with Ricardo, as usual he's in his treasury.
You bring up the meeting you had with the merchant and the policy for the Faire.
You're not asking his approval. You're confident your decision was correct.
Ricardo nods as you talk.
You were curious why this policy was instigated, and what the possible effects could've been.
You had guessed it was to promote competition between the merchants.
"More or less…"
He explains it's unlikely merchants will have 'overlapping' goods.
The promotions for merchants to travel to Castle Valachia to sell their wares at your Faire was wide-spread.
He doubts there will be cases of merchants adjusting their prices based on what the others have.
He admits that's a guess, it's one based on facts from the state of what is available in the country. A fur trader would come from a section of the country with animals to be made into furs, and not another.
"The policy is more to prevent problems arising from those who would purchase things…"
If a merchant starts selling his wares immediately, it's possible those with money to spend will spend all of their gold immediately… and have nothing left for the other merchants.
This is a valid risk because the amount of buyers is limited. You can hardly expect the peasants in your settlement to purchase things with gold. The most likely 'customers' are the lesser nobles and burgmeisters you invite, hired workers such as those constructing your tower, and of course, the Crown, you, yourself.
Will that be… enough?
"That's why the policy, to make sure there was no easily definable 'winner' or 'loser,' so to speak."
You nod. You think you get the picture. If the fur merchant starts selling things immediately, someone might buy up all his furs and then realize they have no money left for whatever else is at the Faire.
Meanwhile the merchant isn't going to spend anything. He's going to take the money and leave.
All right, you understand that part.
But was it fair?
What about merchants who had perishable goods like food items?
Ricardo replies with two possibilities.
One is that it won't be an issue and if it is, it'd be his own fault.
"A traveling merchant should know better than to haul around goods that will spoil so quickly… so it's his own responsibility."
Two is that any merchants that might sell something that could spoil will be carrying it in a form that won't spoil.
"It's highly likely food merchants will arrive with live animals, fenced or caged until slaughtered and prepared."
Yes, that did make sense. Short of being eaten by wild animals or suffering disease, meat on an animal still alive couldn't be spoiled.
You think you have a better grasp on the issue now.
You ask Ricardo if he thinks it would've outright harmed the Faire if you had accepted the bribe and allowed the merchant to set up immediately?
"What is he selling, Your Majesty?" he asks.
Furs and salted meat, apparently.
Ricardo mulls it over, then shakes his head.
"It is summer, it's unlikely he would've sold anything in significant numbers to affect the Faire."
But, it could have potentially emboldened other merchants yet to arrive with requests for similar treatment, and one of them could have something more enticing, and that would have been a problem.
In that case you may have avoided a potentially ugly situation from developing.
You feel a bit proud, until you remember you weren't even sure what the merchant was actually selling until you had denied his request. There was no opportunity for you to make the decision based on that knowledge.
–It doesn't matter. You made the fair judgment.
Ricardo's interpretation was more about keeping stability than ensuring actual fairness. You won't begrudge him that, but you are King of all Ruhemanians and you must act like it.
Right. You won't forget that part of being King.
You thank Ricardo for his time.
You part amicably with Ricardo and start moving to Tharja's wing…
You're looking forward to spending time with her, even if you decided to surprise Beatrice with the scarf.
>No choice yet. Further update coming soon.
The morning of the next day proceeds normally. The maid left the fur in your room as you requested.
You'd better take the time to give it to its intended recipient sooner instead of later.
You take your breakfast with Beatrice and Tharja. Thankfully you're not interrupted by any soldiers reporting guests have arrive.
That gives you the opportunity to stop Beatrice before she leaves.
You take her hand and whisper you would appreciate her company.
She stops, then slowly starts to grin.
"By all means, Your Majesty."
Beatrice laughs with a demure little giggle, though her smirk says she's very interested.
No reason to disappoint her.
You make your way to your tower together.
It'd be a mistake to walk arm-in-arm with her, so you walk a little ways in front of her.
You have to worry somewhat about appearances now with guests in the castle, especially the priest.
Of course, your guards notice, there's patrols now and you have to pass a few of them.
But they know who Beatrice is.
You give instructions to the guard at the tower. You're not to be disturbed, by maid, soldier, or otherwise.
If a guest arrives from outside, you will meet them later after midday.
The soldier swears it will be done. Good.
You climb the tower with Beatrice following closer behind.
It's been a while since you've taken her up here, so much so you almost lose your train of thought when you no longer hear Beatrice's footsteps.
It simply means she's assumed the form of her witch-persona, of course, so you climb higher without missing a step.
You open the door to your room and, without entering, hold it open for Beatrice.
She holds her pipe between her thumb and forefinger.
"Oh~. How gracious of you, King. Ahahaha."
She glides inside the room, her long dress flowing freely over the stone floor.
Even now having made acquaintance of her for so long, it strikes you as otherworldly.
–Well, there were more startling witches out there.
You follow after and shut the door behind you.
You've left the shutter over the window, Beatrice takes it as an opportunity to create golden butterflies which fly to the ceiling and illuminate the room for you both with magical light.
You decide to confirm… she has some 'warning' spell on the staircase that will alert them if someone ascends?
"We live in a busy time, don't we, King? I would not be so foolish as to forget."
You breathe a sigh of relief.
Though the actual purpose of the meeting is rather mundane.
You don't think Beatrice has realized it, herself.
Your feet guide you to your bed, where you've left the scarf.
You hold it behind your back and turn to Beatrice.
She watches you with an interested look on her face. It looks like you've surprised her.
You smile confidently at her.
You've grown to know Beatrice, and witchcraft, and you know magic can create things a mortal man could hope to produce in his lifetime… or beyond.
However, that doesn't mean such gifts are wasted when offered to a witch.
There is meaning to be found in the gesture that a gift from one mortal man to a witch cannot be so easily conjured.
Which is why you thought it appropriate to present Beatrice with… this.
You extend your hand and offer the fox fur scarf.
Beatrice tilts her head.
"I see… how very interesting, King."
She holds her lips pursed, not making an immediate move to take it.
It's a gift from you to her, you say.
"Pardon the question, King, but what manner of animal is that garment made from…?"
You blink your eyes, watching Beatrice's face.
She doesn't look upset or disinterested or scornful… is something wrong with the scarf?
You second guess yourself and take another look at it, running your hand up and down the fur.
No, it's fox fur. You say as much to Beatrice.
It's definitely the product of a fox, a red fox. Possibly just one, but perhaps more. You couldn't be sure of the process the fur trader used when making the garment.
Beatrice nods and visibly relaxes.
"Mm. In that case, I will accept it."
She takes it in her arm and holds it. She makes a pleased noise and tells you she can appreciate the quality.
You're still confused, so you decide to ask.
Why does it matter…?
Beatrice makes a little ambiguous sound.
"Do you remember my goat butlers, King?"
… You remember they gave you a real fright.
They were Beatrice's animal she liked to experiment with.
Beatrice watches you, and takes notice as your eyes light with realization. She nods.
"Indeed. I think you grasp the meaning of my asking you."
You can't help but scratch your forehead as the pieces tumble together in your head. You think you understand the logic.
Witches would experiment with living creatures for their magic. Beatrice specifically used goats. She used them with the understanding none of the other witches would use goats in their experiments, precluding a potential inadvertent violation of the Pax Bernkastel rule 'don't interfere with my magical experiments.'
–Or is it pets?
Beatrice gives a little shrug.
"The line becomes blurred, ahahaha. Still, the point stands. If you presented me with an animal skin I knew was favored by another witch as their chosen vessel for their magical experiments, I would have to refuse such a gift. …It would prevent any possible misunderstandings from arising."
You nod. Foxes aren't on the 'list', as it were, then, you ask?
"Fortunately not. But others are… Charlotte, Witch of Feasts was taken to bears, for example."
You nod. You know bears made desirable skins for their warm fur. It's a reasonable fear, you suppose.
Wait, no it isn't.
You look at Beatrice's eyes, then slowly look away.
"Hm~? That's an interesting expression, King. What provokes such dourness?" she asks.
It isn't relevant anymore.
All of the Witches of Ruhemania are dead.
–Therefore, even if Beatrice started experimenting with bears, pigs, or toads, there's no witch to take offense.
Beatrice lets out a pained little sound.
You think she hadn't let the wheels turn in her mind to really understand the implications, yet.
Her lips turn in a little frown.
"…Yes, you're right."
Her lips pucker, face tense.
Your heart goes out to Beatrice. You almost wish you hadn't said anything.
No, you were incorrect.
There's at least one other witch out there, isn't there? Besides her and Tharja.
What was… Erika's preferred experiment fodder?
You're hesitant to speak her name aloud for fear it'll summon her.
But you have a feeling you should know, just in case.
Beatrice laughs, amused, and you start to see the life return to her face.
"Ahahaha~. Unfortunately for her, King, Erika never settled on any particular medium, animal or otherwise."
"I told you, didn't I? Or perhaps I merely implied it. Erika is the type of witch who didn't bother much with creating… she put all of her effort into the destructive power of her magic. Therefore she never needed any particular animal and never chose one."
Her face makes a disdainful little twitch.
"If she changes her mind, it's her own responsibility to let any other witch know. Since she hasn't… I'm free not to worry what the miserable little bitch might be doing."
She takes a drag from her pipe, the edge glowing brightly as she inhales, deeply.
…Well, Beatrice is the expert.
You decide to leave it at that.
Beatrice exhales smoke, letting it curl around you both in a heavy puff.
It winds around you and hangs in the air, but is somehow not unpleasant.
"You've been ignoring me, King…" says Beatrice, a hungry lilt to her voice.
Ah… have you? You certainly didn't mean to give Beatrice that impression…
You thought you were just letting her work with Tharja to overcome her fear of the Church. Did she want another assignment from you?
She smacks her lips.
"No, King. I desire… you."
She glides closer, leaning in until her breasts are almost touching your chest.
…It's too tempting a view. You can't help but peak down into her cleavage. Your gaze is very interested, as is your manhood, which begins to stir itself erect.
Beatrice's large breasts tease you, constrained impossibly by that tight dress she wears.
"You were amusing me by showing such devotion to my body, and then it stopped… do you no longer wish me pregnant? Or perhaps have you given up?"
You shake your head, of course you haven't given up.
The Faire has just made you… busier. And you knew Beatrice would be working as well.
You weren't sure if Beatrice's monthly period had passed.
Beatrice dips her head a little, making her breasts bounce.
"Oh… it has passed."
You start to reach your hands up toward Beatrice's breasts, taking the invitation.
But Beatrice playfully takes a step back.
It's all you can do to not lean forward and fall off-balance.
"One moment, King… you did give me this to wear, didn't you?"
She raises her hand with the scarf.
You did, but… it's summer. It was more a gesture of generosity.
Though you suppose there is the implication you expect Beatrice to still be with you when winter passes.
Beatrice smiles devilishly.
"Shall we see how I look with it on…?"
Before you can say anything else, Beatrice's form shifts into a cloud of golden butterflies.
They meld together, briefly, before re-forming into Beatrice's body.
Beatrice's dress is completely gone, leaving her nude.
She stands before you dressed only in the scarf, wound tastefully around her neck and resting on her ample bosom. Book folded beneath an arm.
It's… a startling erotic picture, made all the more tantalizing by the size and roundness of Beatrice's tits. The slimness of her body… she's more beautiful than the perfect model. A sculptor with a lifetime to work could not produce an image as magnificent as Beatrice's figure.
"Well, King? Does it flatter me?" she asks.
It would go even better if she had a baby bump as well.
She lets out a satisfied little cackle.
She's clearly enjoying the attention from you.
She leans back and takes a seat on your bed, crossing her legs, elegantly.
The prospect of seeing what lies between them makes you turn your head, but you miss the chance to peek.
"What's it going to be, King?" she asks.
She bounces her leg, excitedly, waiting for you to make the first move.
In that case…
>Your lust burns inside you at the chance to impregnate Beatrice anew. Take off your clothes and join her on the bed and avail yourself to her body.
>You want to drive Beatrice's lust higher… and you know how to do it. Kneel and appreciate her feet.
And thanks for the inclusion of the nothing-but-the-fur picture, aristo. :-)
Definitely 1. I know some people enjoy the feet but just not for me. Also, we are king, let's act like it
I'm not into feet, but since it has been a while, I feel that we should show Beatrice some appreciation. If I may I modify option 2 to kissing a foot once or twice, then kissing our way up her leg, lavishing attention on her body.
Let's indulge our infinite golden witch's fetish, Option 2.
Option No. 2
If this is applicable and acceptable, something along the lines of 'teasing' Beatrice's eventual climax by asking her to profess her need for Edward's seed, and/or similar sentiments about being honored to do the deed. So basically, an inversion of Option 2 in as many words, maybe?
Sorry, this posted before I could have my full thought for some reason. Option 2 is just so weird, why are people going for it?
This is acceptable as a write-in and will be counted.
I will close the vote tomorrow.
Please continue to vote if you have not yet done so.
Oh, I like this write-in. I vote for it.
I like this write-in too, I'll switch my vote officially
>5 votes for option one, waste no time ripping off your clothes and joining Beatrice on the bed.
>5 votes for option two, work your way up to sex by first including a little foreplay with her feet.
>3 votes for write-in, make Beatrice beg for your seed and to be knocked up.
We have a tie.
Normally this is where I'd say I will wait for a tie-breaker and then flip a coin, but since this is for deciding a type of sex scene and not a story choice I will work something out mingling the options together.
Poll closed. Update soon.
>>43099>Late to a tie>No tie-breaker
Well, ok. I'd have voted Option 1, though. Right now she wants to be wanted, not worshipped.
But whatever, a foot-kiss or two won't hurt I suppose.
I would vote for the write-in, if it matters at all.
…Beatrice's body captivates you.
But you're aware that she likes foreplay before proceeding on to sex. Of course, she also wants to know she is powerful…
You can't help but admit there is a certain thrill in submitting to her. Someone you could trust to enjoy it and not use the act against you.
With that in mind…
You kneel down at Beatrice's feet on one knee.
That gets Beatrice's attention. She goes from grinning maniacally to a more subdued expression. You think you almost see a blush.
You'd like to begin by appreciating Beatrice like she deserves, you say. And in pursuit of that… you don't mind paying a little attention to her feet.
Beatrice's lips part slightly. You watch her take a gulp of saliva before drawing in a deep breath.
"Yeeee~esss…" she hisses with an exhale.
Her tone is hot and engrossed. She lifts her chin, looking very pleased.
"Well, then… don't keep me waiting, King."
You look down at Beatrice's crossed legs. The top one waits for you, her toes pointed downward to show them off. You dip your head, hiding your pleased expression.
It was definitely an acquired taste, so to speak, but it was worth it to see how excited Beatrice got. No doubt this was a turn-on for her.
…But of course, there was a price. A piper to be paid, so to speak.
You gently reach out and caress Beatrice's right foot. Your right hand goes to her head, smoothing itself over her skin. Your left hand holds the ball of her foot, right underneath her toes.
The softness is absolutely unparalleled, as you remember. You can't help but roll your palms around, appreciating the sensation.
Her toes look absolutely immaculate and perfect.
Before you think to stop yourself, your bow your head and gently kiss the tips. Once, twice… until you've kissed each toe.
You pull your lips away from the last one and watch Beatrice flex her toes as the sexual excitement sends tremors through her body.
Her deep, throaty moan plays across your ears, almost tickling your eardrums.
Beatrice's arousal stirs your own, of course. You're so erect you feel your cock could stretch a tear in your leggings.
You rise to your feet, holding on to Beatrice's foot as long as you can before the distance forces you to let it go.
Beatrice makes a little disappointed sound.
"Oh, so soon~?" she whines.
You would like to indulge Beatrice more, but…
Your cock has other ideas, you explain. You'd rather not end up staining your clothes with your future children when Beatrice's womb is so empty.
Your hands feverishly work to prevent that as you explain. You let your sword fall to the side and quickly strip yourself of your leggings to free up the pressure on your crotch, only then shrugging yourself out of your cape and tunic.
She gives you a deviant little smirk.
"As you wish."
She starts to lean back, her legs uncrossing to bid you invitation to mount her.
"Fertilize me good, King," she commands, playfully.
You don't need more encouragement than that.
Stepping out of your boots, you climb on the bed with her, taking a spot to fill the crook between her legs.
Her breasts meet your chest and you can feel the tickle of the fur as you press her back on the bed.
>No choice yet, further update coming soon.
Did this die off? Everything OK, Aristo?
This did not die off. New update by Sunday at the latest.
You mount on top of Beatrice, not being shy about taking a more dominant position.
Your hard, masculine chest easily presses against her soft tits. Her erect nipples pleasantly rub against your skin.
You place an arm on each side of her torso, propping yourself up so you don't put all your weight on her, at least.
Beatrice laughs a low, throaty chuckle.
"It's been some time since you've had me under you like this, King."
…It certainly has.
You're not sure, but… was it weeks? Months? –Perhaps even back to when you first met?
At any rate, simply climbing on top of Beatrice and taking her was something rare. As much as you've come to know Beatrice and penetrate her, she's hardly a woman you simply push down and… take.
But that's fine.
You can appreciate Beatrice's desires, her preferences, and her appreciation for foreplay.
Of course there's other parts of her worth appreciating.
You reach your hand down to cup around your penis. Your staff is hard enough now. Your foreskin retracted by your aching girth.
You move forward just enough to find your way… rubbing your cockhead along her vulva, feeling the slickness of her red lower ips.
Beatrice gives a little laugh beneath you, a much subdued cackle.
"Testing the waters, King?"
More like… planting your oars after pushing off.
You finally find a place for your cock to fit through, your glans gliding along her labia until… you're inside her.
Beatrice arches her back a little bit, likely not expecting you'd slide in so easily.
You're about to ask if she's all right when she lets out a contented sigh.
She says nothing more, except to extend her arms up and wrap her hands around the back of your neck. She fixes her eyes on you, chin nestled in the fine fur around her neck.
… There's no more need for words.
You start to thrust your hips, pushing back on the bed to give you a little more leverage and take some weight off of Beatrice.
She wraps her legs around the back of your legs, her ankles resting on your calves.
It's a comfortable position, but…
You'd prefer if her legs were around your waist, but you can't stop what you're doing to ask her to shift. Your cock is inside her and she needs your seed. Badly. There's no stopping.
You pump your cock in and out of Beatrice's burning hot pussy.
She shuts her eyes and purrs as you start to get deep enough the top of your shaved pubic area meets hers with each thrust.
You shift so that you're resting on your elbows instead of the back of your wrists. It lets you keep your thrusts a little deeper now that you've found a rhythm…
More importantly, it also frees up your hands so you can grope her tits.
You take a proud mammary in each hand, massaging and kneading her big, beautiful breasts.
That gets Beatrice attention and she opens her eyes, urging you on with a little grin.
"Mm… I love how you can't resist them, King…"
Yeah… Beatrice's tits are amazing. You roll your hands around the center, stimulating her erect nipples with the edges of your rough palms. You're calloused from your practice with swords and pole arms, so it's easy to rub the rough skin against her sensitive nubs.
It gets a reaction, and she arches more into your touch, pressing her breasts even harder against you. Your hands can't even cover them.
You decide to get a little rougher.
You pull out, until you're almost completely out of Beatrice's pussy, before thrust back inside, your pubic areas colliding with a hard slap. At the same time…
You press your hands into the under-cleavage of Beatrice's tits, lifting them more than the finest bustier would be able to.
It afford you just enough room to bring her breasts together and take both nipples in your mouth.
You don't bite, but you do roll your tongue over the hard points… Beatrice's nipples are like fat olives. The bumpy ridges of her aerola hot under your wet tongue.
You keep thrusting inside her. You wish you could watch her face react, but with you attacking her nipples like you are, you have no choice but to keep your head down.
But you can hear her moans.
"Ahh! That's… that's good… Use my tits as much as you like, King… mm!"
Meanwhile, you're driving your cock so hard into her pelvis the bed strains to stay under you.
Beatrice does her best to raise her ass up to make it easier and rock against you, but you're just going too fast for her to keep up.
It's all she can do to hook her calves around your upper thighs and hold on tight.
"Ah! …Ah! Ahh!"
Despite your rough movements, Beatrice never tells you to slow… so you don't.
You're merciless as you focus on your hard cock forcing it's way deeper into her fertile folds, and your balls swinging freely and colliding with the underside of her ass on the way.
You can't stop.
You need to breed her.
Breeding only happens when you orgasm.
…With those thoughts in mind…
You pump harder and harder until you tip over your orgasm, pushing your turgid cock into her to the hilt, and cumming… hard. Deep inside her.
As you stop thrusting, your hands slip from Beatrice's tits, which consequently, spill from your mouth.
You reach your hands around her back, finding enough room from the way she's arching against you, and lock your hands together as you pull her close and cum… you rock against her as each spurt leaves you, again, and again… and again.
Until you're well and truly exhausted.
Beatrice doesn't scream, she doesn't cry, she just holds herself hard against you and milks your cock with her own contracting folds… helping to ensure every bit of cum stays deep inside her warm, fertile valley.
Her face is turned in a very lewd, satisfied smile. She breathes a heady sigh of satisfaction.
The look of a woman who's been properly fucked and cummed inside.
You hold her as you both settle down from your… exercise.
You didn't realize it but you were panting and gasping for air even when you were sucking her tits.
Beatrice too, between moans.
Finally you have the chance to look at each other and recover your wits…
…and you claim each other's lips in a desperate, passionate kiss.
Your hard tongue thrusts deep inside her mouth, coiling with hers, as you satiate your deepest lusts. Her soft fur strokes your chest and provides a nice cushion for you on top of Beatrice's breasts.
You could get used to rounds like this…
If Beatrice is really the last woman in the castle who isn't confirmed to be pregnant, you'd better change that.
–Just in time for more women to show up and fertilize during the Faire.
>No choice yet, further update coming soon.
Welcome back aristo!
>–Just in time for more women to show up and fertilize during the Faire.
Very much looking forward to it :-)
And technically we also haven't verified that Sully is pregnant. Or did I miss something?
You lie there for a while, until your member is too sensitive and wilted to not pull out.
You need a moment to catch your breath before you do any more afterplay, so you roll over on to your back.
Your eyes stare up at the stone ceiling as you catch your breath. Your muscular chest heaving to pump air through your lungs.
You spare a glance at Beatrice and watch her own breasts rising and falling.
Your eyes stay transfixed there. You think you could watch this all day.
She turns her head and sees you… casually unwrapping her fur and setting it aside to give you a better view.
You murmur a thank you, prompting a cackle from her.
"You gave my breasts quite the workout, King. My nipples are still tingling."
You won't deny that.
She can think of it as preparation for feeding her future babes at her bosom, you quip.
She lets out a throaty little huff of air.
"Somehow I think they'd be much gentler than you."
Beatrice sits up finally.
You're aware of her putting her book on her thighs and looking down at it… she must be doing some magic? Or maybe she already did.
Whatever, you don't have the wits to think much about it.
"Mm…. how's it going to be, King?" she asks, suddenly.
She tilts her head, appraising your reaction.
"Will I be seeing you again soon, for more of your seed?"
You nod immediately.
You're not turning Beatrice down. Sex with her is intensely pleasurable and she really, really needs a bump. It'd be unthinkable.
…But you'd better choose a time to meet her. It's something you'll have to plan for in your daily schedule.
As long as you're not meeting a new guest or otherwise playing argument-settler to something regarding the Faire, there's no reason not to.
When were you most likely to have some time together uninterrupted, though? That's something to consider, it might affect how often you manage to actually meet, and make it more likely she'll finally be knocked up.
You remember vaguely that Beatrice likes being the first woman to receive your sperm for the day. That's something else to consider.
You lick your lips, enough to form your reply.
>Have sex with Beatrice right in the morning, before you both take breakfast. Something to wake you both up and look forward to.
>Have sex immediately after breakfast together. You'll have plenty of energy at least.
>Have sex near sunset, when the day is practically over, to make sure no one interrupts.
>…You don't feel like thinking about it, Beatrice can pick when she'd like to have sex.
Aside from maybe cutting into breakfast, it shouldn't interfere with any other activities such as meeting guests, guard reports, or have you be interrupted.
And it'll make Beatrice the happiest.
Definitely Option 1, no one would DARE interrupt the King before breakfast.
Before breakfast is akward when we spend the night with Tharja and/or Elisabeth. Imagine a conversation like "Good morning, honey. Did you sleep well? Sex? No, I have to fuck Beatrice first." That's not going to work. Edward won't ever deny his wife and Beatrice will be left waiting.
option 4, planning sex feels to mechanical (like one of those couples who keep trying but can't get pregnant)
I understand the Wizard's logic, but then we open ourselves up to interruption, as we have been called away from meals before. I'm torn.
…Option 1. If Tharja is there, she will be glad to watch.
(also, welcome back homeboy!)
Option 1, and welcome back aristo
option 1, a wise farmer tends to his herd before he breaks his own fast
>7 votes for option one, meet with Beatrice right in the morning.
>1 vote for option two, meet just after breakfast.
>1 vote for option three, meet near sunset.
>1 vote for option four, let Beatrice pick.
Make plans to have sex with Beatrice when you first wake up, before breakfast.
Poll closed. Update soon.
You really don't want to be inconvenienced by a visit, or whatever royal duty may await you.
At best, you'd end up having to cancel your meetings with Beatrice, and that would really put you in a race against the clock. The more seed you sow inside Beatrice's fertile womb the better. Furthermore, suffering a mid-coitus interruption would just ruin your day and leave you unable to concentrate on Kingly matters. You therefore rule out meeting at midday.
You have had your breakfast interrupted in the past as well. Meeting with Beatrice after would be tempting fate.
That leaves near-sunset and near-sunrise.
…But your nights belong to Tharja, and you recall Beatrice prefers to be the first to receive your semen if she deigns to receive it.
That leaves the morning.
You tell Beatrice your decision.
You want to meet with her first thing in the morning… it'll be a nice little wake-up from you to her. Before you eat and get ready for the rest of the day.
Beatrice curls her lips in surprise.
… Did you suggest something untoward?
You ask Beatrice what's wrong? Is it inconvenient?
"Not exactly. That is normally when I meet with Innocence," she explains.
Well in that case a little later in the day could be arranged…
Beatrice shakes her head.
"No, no, do come at that time. You will find me in Tharja's wing."
You suppose Tharja won't mind. You've certainly had threesomes with her before.
–Although will it be a problem now that there are guards?
That makes Beatrice reconsider.
"Poss~ibly… they've let me through when requested, but I'm not sure how you might change things…"
Hm. Have they?
In the past it's only been Sully, and that was at night. Ostensibly it was also less to protect Tharja per se than it was to make sure you weren't interrupted with her.
Beatrice waves a hand.
"You forget, King, I am here as Tharja's future midwife. I have a good reason to be with her."
Oh. That's right.
Her birth would be a long way away, but you suppose there are exercises Beatrice could be accomplishing with Tharja. Or some other education… at least.
Beatrice watches your face and gives you a very suspicious grin.
"Does it have you that worried, King?" she asks.
Well, a little bit.
You remind Beatrice she had an ugly encounter with the guards a few weeks ago. You'd hate for it to repeat.
Hopefully they'll be more focused on external threats now.
You know that the soldiers are loyal to you, but they seem to regard Beatrice with suspicion.
Beatrice grins even wider.
"Ahahaha! You're halfway there, King. They regard me with suspicion… because they are loyal to you."
That's not exactly how you would have worded it… Beatrice makes it sound like they're jealous.
Beatrice is still grinning.
It's irritating you a little. What is so funny?
…You're too tired to argue.
Won't Beatrice stay with you? You'd appreciate holding her a little longer.
"Yes, yes, just a moment…"
The pages of her book flash, and then she closes it to tuck under her arm again.
She rejoins you on the bed, pressing her lips close to yours. Her breasts press against you, pleasantly.
You spend more time with Beatrice. So much so, you actually forget about your scheduled spar with the guards.
There will be plenty of time for that later, perhaps.
In the meantime, Beatrice is freshly inseminated and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.
After a very satisfying session of fornicating and afterplay, you depart your tower together close to midday.
>No choice yet, further update coming soon.
The rest of your day is not interrupted.
You meet with Tharja and in between your lovemaking sessions you inform her that you'll be making an appearance in the morning to impregnate Beatrice.
She smiles, delighted.
"Mm… that's a good reason for you to come, Edward."
She winks at you, and you both share a laugh at the double-entendre.
You have to wonder if Tharja has been helping Beatrice with your mutual efforts to knock her up.
Has Tharja kept herself abreast of Beatrice's cycle?
At this, Tharja pauses. She presses a long finger to the side of her face.
"Actually, we don't really discuss her trying to get pregnant… I just assumed you'd put a baby in her already."
That seems a little odd.
–Well, you're sure Beatrice has her reasons. She probably wants to invest all her effort into tutoring Tharja. And before she was doing that, spying for you.
Tharja, meanwhile, is confident she can impress the Church enough for one sermon.
"I won't let you down, my love."
She presses her face to your torso. You feel her eyelashes stroke against the hard muscles of your chest. You let out a relaxed sig and sweep your hand through her hair.
You aren't worried in the slightest…
At least, not from the direction of the Church.
More nobles were going to appear soon. You would need to manage all of them.
You had gotten the upper hand with Dimitrie, but he was rather… straightforward a man. There were surely others who would be more cunning.
You rise the next day and go to meet with Beatrice and Tharja in her wing.
You were prepared for a fun little romp with both of them, but…
You're surprised to find Beatrice doesn't want to have sex with both you and Tharja. Furthermore, she wants you both to do it in the library instead of Tharja's bedroom.
"Don't I get any say in what manner you impregnate me, King?" she asks, challenging you.
–You suppose you won't worry too much.
Tharja for her part doesn't mind and is content to wait in her room for you both to finish.
It doesn't take you long to move past your initial confusion either, and soon you have Beatrice bent over the reading desk as you rigorously take her from behind.
There's a slight echo, and Beatrice isn't using her magic to defuse the sound, so you have to be relatively quiet.
Beatrice gives you permission to be as forceful as you like, however, and you respond by spreading her legs open wider and pawing at her breasts until they pop out of her dress.
… You can't deny there is a sort of primal… satisfaction in taking Beatrice this way.
Though having sex with Tharja involved would no doubt be fun as well, this is its own little novelty.
Your moans fill the library as you fill Beatrice's fertile womb with your seed, her pussy milking you for every drop of your cum.
You put out enough that a fair amount slides out and finds its way to the floor when you pull out.
Beatrice merely gives a throaty chuckle, turning toward you and leaning with her ass back on the desk.
No doubt she's tired after that little session.
"I look forward to seeing you tomorrow, Your Majesty… and the next day… and the next…"
You press a kiss to Beatrice's lips which she returns in mutual passion.
It's not too long before she's playing her fingernails on you to encourage you to separate.
Right. You both have duties you're supposed to perform.
You leave Beatrice alone with Tharja and excuse yourself.
The guard watching Tharja's wing salutes you as you leave.
You're left with a little time to wash, shave, and prepare yourself for the day.
You don't bother with a full bath, not until you've finished your sparring and riding.
Of course, you're perfectly presentable when you come to the table in the sitting room to share breakfast with Tharja and Beatrice.
It's an uneventful supper of bread and soup. You wish perhaps for a bit more seasoning. Perhaps you should tell the chefs to start mixing in the salted meat.
Or so is your thought when a soldier interrupts by opening the door without knocking.
"Your Majesty… there is something happening at the front gate."
Is it an appearance of Ruhemania nobility?
"N-No, Your Majesty… perhaps the farthest thing from it."
…It sounds like it's more than a merchant arriving.
You tell him to speak plainly and tell you about the situation.
>No choice yet, further update coming soon.
You sit on your throne appraising your latest guest.
The soldier explained the situation. A wagon had asked for permission to enter the castle, ostensibly as performers.
But it was clear they were no normal traveling troupe. The wagon contained an entire family with old ladies as well as children. Actors hoping to perform to earn their living would not bring their entire family with them.
These were nomadic travelers who carried their entire lives in their wagon.
Your soldier asked you if you would prefer them driven away instead.
…But you're much too fair-minded for that. You won't turn away anyone who comes in peace. Especially when you're throwing such a grand Faire for your subjects.
Though you're also wondering if these nomads are at all connected to the nomads of the east you've heard about.
You tell the soldier to allow a leader representing these nomadic travelers be allowed an audience with you. You will deal with the matter personally.
He looks at you a bit like you've gone mad, but quickly hides the look and swears it will be done.
–Which brings you to the moment you currently find yourself in.
Your opposite is a man about two decades your elder, with a thick mustache. There is a bit of grey haired mixed in that mustache. His hair is hidden by a fur hat, despite the summer heat. His clothes were probably once brightly dyed, but are now faded and dusty.
What draws your attention immediately is the complexion of his skin, which goes darker than any sun-tan you've seen a man achieve. You're reminded a bit of the portrait of Queen Menace you were shown by the matchmaker so long ago.
He draws himself down to a kneeling position on the floor, genuflecting to you.
–Well, he's already showed more respect than Dimitrie.
Pleasantries over, you tell the man he may rise. He does so.
"Never did I imagine I would be addressing a King, Your Majesty. It is an honor to which I am unaccustomed."
You smile and tell him that's all right… you're still getting used to the duty of being that King.
He smiles, with a small little 'ha ha' at your quip. You hoped the soldiers would lighten the mood and laugh as well, but they remain silent.
He introduces himself as Vano, the oldest able-bodied man of the family.
He explains that they have traveled a great distance to the castle to take part in the celebrations, and contribute to them with their performances as entertainers.
You're interested in just what sort of entertainment they would provide, but he doesn't elaborate before continuing.
"Our wagon is our home, Your Majesty. It goes where we go. We would ever like to perform inside the castle, and that would require bringing our wagon inside as well.
You ask the nearest soldier if there's a physical obstruction. The wagon isn't so large it can't fit over the drawbridge and through the gates, is it?
"The wagon can easily pass through, Your Majesty… the problem is once it's inside."
He explains the courtyard has a limited amount of space. Allowing the nomads to enter with their wagon would deny merchants space they needed to set up their wares.
Since the area is 'first-come first-served' it would deny some late-comers a fair spot. It's impossible to say how many, but that would surely be the result.
You're a bit confused.
Wasn't there going to be a separate area specifically for entertainers?
The guard explains that spot is, he's been told, meant for the entertainers to be actively performing in, and not to live in.
He goes on to say a wagon would be an eyesore and having children running around would make it very difficult to enforce the law.
"…That is all."
His tone says he's not pleased with Vano's presence. It seems the guards have already passed judgment on the worth of your latest guest.
You clear your throat.
You ask Vano… would there be a problem with him setting up the wagon outside the castle walls?
You're aware there are some steep inclines that do not make setting up outside the immediate wall very easy to do.
But there were surely positives there. His family would have the unique opportunity to perform their entertainment to the guests as they arrive. Of course, they'd also be free to come in to the castle and return to their wagon at will.
Vano gives another little smile. It's devoid of ill-will.
"I understand that line of thinking, Your Majesty, and surely my family will accept it if that is your desire… but the fields outside… do not much promote a pleasant atmosphere for entertaining."
They certainly don't.
That's where all the punishment stakes are. And you left them there instead of having them removed. There was one consequence of doing that.
This is perhaps the first time you've heard someone speak openly in alluding to knowing what the stakes true purpose was for.
If you remember right, even Varillo didn't comment. –Of course you were his 'escort' at the time. He may have had instructions not to tell you.
… You really must have your curiosity satisfied.
Did Vano's wagon come from the east, you ask?
He slowly shakes his head.
"We travel all over, Your Majesty, but I believe it to be more accurate to say we came from the south."
…Oh. Toward Elbania?
"Much, much further than even Elbania. But that was before Vano was even a babe."
–You're starting to wonder if perhaps Vano's family is more related to the pagans of Amara than you first thought.
But… they are devoted followers of the Holy Church, you ask?
Vano nods and assures you yes, they are devoted believers and followers of the Church's teachings.
You breathe a sigh of relief. At least the Church won't be mad at you for dealing with them, then.
You suppose it'd be unreasonable to ask they leave their wagon outside the castle and then come in?
"Apologies, Your Majesty, it contains everything we own… we cannot leave it unattended."
Moreover, he explains, walking to the castle from the wagon and then returning it will be difficult because their family, of course, contains children and old women.
Looks like if you force them to stay outside the castle, they'll be sitting out there.
You blink your eyes as the guard you spoke with speaks up again.
You hadn't called on him to speak… But he obviously has something to say.
What is it, you ask?
"Your Majesty, these are nomads, who do not even call themselves your subjects. You should not expect them to follow your laws."
… You can't hold back making an exasperated sound. You don't care for the guard taking it upon himself to speak, but that is something you are perhaps overlooking.
You ask Vano if that's true? If despite his respectful greeting, he's not one of your subjects?
Vano shows significant composure as he answers.
"Your guard is right, Your Majesty. We are nomads and travel through all lands. We were born outside your country, and will die outside of it. Of course, we respect your position as King, but we are rightly not called your subjects."
Hm. At least he's forthright about it. Though you were born outside Ruhemania as well, so you can't feel it in you to take too much offense to that.
You ponder your options.
You could allow them to enter your castle and have the nomads participate in the Faire along with everyone else.
The guards don't like them and seem to think they'll make things difficult. You think perhaps their judgment is a little hasty, but you can't control that.
You can force them to park their wagon outside the walls, but this will limit their involvement in the faire and make things difficult for them. It may also confuse your guests who must pass them to enter the castle. Would it even save space for the merchants? You have no guarantee their selling space will be completely full, anyway. Perhaps they could rotate if necessary…
You're not sure you have the heart to just have the nomads driven away. They've obviously invested a lot of effort to make the journey here. Vano seems a competent, genial sort. Perhaps you should ask for some assurances. If the nomads became a genuine problem, you could possibly evict them later.
To your disappointment, it seems these nomads aren't those particular nomads the matchmaker told you of back then. Oh well. They remain a mystery, for the moment.
Though there is one last matter.
What sort of entertainment were they hoping to contribute? You're interested in knowing that. Vano looks able, but he carries nothing that particularly shouts what he's capable of.
Vano stands patiently awaiting your next words. His expression belies no nervousness or apprehension. But he is clearly attentive and taking in what you say.
In that case…
> If the nomads are all like Vano, then you'll gladly accept them to your Faire. Allow the nomads to enter with their wagon, unreservedly.
>Your Faire is important and it's worth it to be cautious. Tell Vano you will allow his wagon entrance to the castle… if he swears all of his family will follow your laws.
>Hedge bets by testing Vano, a bit. What entertainment could you expect from his band of nomads? If it's worthy, you'll perhaps permit it.
>You're too concerned with the space possibly being denied to the merchants, and the attitude of your guards. Tell Vano he may not bring his wagon inside the castle.
option two. when in rome..
I think Option 3 is the fair option in this instance. If the nomads' idea of entertainment goes along with the atmosphere of the faire, then there should be no issues with allowing their stay (though perhaps worth noting that the younger family members should try to behave themselves). If perhaps their idea of entertainment is a little more rowdy or otherwise not-family friendly, then perhaps keeping them at a bit of a distance would be wise
Plus perhaps there might be at least one or two available women of child-bearing age among the nomads. The downside is Edward may never see them swell with child if he does get such an opportunity, but the fact his blood will travel far as a result might make him feel a little better. However that likely is an issue to be dealt with at a later time if it becomes available at all.
He hasnt explain why entertainment they can do so option 3
>1 vote for option two, permit the nomads to bring their wagon into the castle during the Faire if they swear to follow your laws.
>9 votes for option three, hear of and appraise the type of entertainment they promise you, first.
Ask Vano to tell you about their abilities as performers.
Poll closed. Update soon.
This isn't like the situation with the merchant. Vano is promising entertainment.
He had better have a plan, one that doesn't involve just letting his family run around.
You ask Vano, specifically, what entertainment could you expect from them?
You've hired bards, dancers, jugglers, mummers… surely other things as well.
From a band of nomads who have no permanent home, you expect something exotic.
"We offer that, and more, Your Majesty."
He explains there are a number of acts his family members are capable of. They possess a number of unique musical instruments that they use to tell stories without words. They possess a number of unique marionettes and have talented puppeteers to perform acts amusing and captivating. He himself is very practiced in that regard. The older members of the family who cannot perform rigorously contribute with their knowledge of blessings and good luck which they offer to those willing to receive them. Juggling and acrobatics are also talents they have as performers.
"But, the truly remarkable part of my family… are my two daughters."
He is a proud father to two very talented women, he explains.
One is an accomplished dancer who is absolutely without peer. He swears this. Combined with the music, she creates a truly impressive display.
The other is a gifted fortune teller who can see the roads that stretch before all men… and offers her Sight to those seeking how to live their lives attuned best to their own personal destiny. She is gifted in the use of many exotic tools known only to them for this purpose.
Your ears perk up at that part.
Not so much the dancing or fortune telling, but…
Two young women. That would mean allowing the nomads into the castle would bring the possibility of two women to charm.
You haven't heard of any since people started arriving… the closest you came was Gheorg, with a pregnant wife you could not even meet.
–You swallow, getting a hold of yourself.
This was not time to become wistful over not having enough tum tums.
You say you've become personally interested in the daughters he's mentioned. Would Vano permit a meeting with them, you ask?
You try to keep your tone innocent.
"It would be a great disservice to their abilities to do otherwise, Your Majesty. I was about to suggest that to you."
You weigh the idea.
At the same time, you could still visit them and see their performances if the nomads were to be kept outside of the castle walls… is this not also true?
Vano doesn't give any hint of suffering discouragement.
"I see no reason it would not be as you say, Your Majesty."
Sounds like no matter what decision you make, you can have a guaranteed visit with these two sisters. Though they'd likely be a little more accommodating if you allowed their family entry.
In that case, the crux of the issue is safety vs. hospitality. And perhaps also the needs of your guests.
Would allowing the nomads entry bring safety concerns, as the guard suggested? He may simply have prejudged matters.
Would the lack of hospitality and allowing the nomads to enter jeopardize their value as performers? You could potentially be denying entertainment to your guests.
Finally, would the space their wagon take up be better used by some other merchant? That, you have absolutely no basis on which to make a decision besides your instinct. There's no list of merchants approved coming, that you know of. It's impossible to say who would be the one who would 'miss out' or even if any particular merchant would exist in that situation at all. Perhaps you could offer half-measures for merchants who are 'late comers' if that truly becomes a problem… force merchants who are selling out of their wares to share free space with others, or some such thing.
At any rate, you have a decision to make.
You tell Vano what you've decided, it affects him the most. It's…
>The nomads may enter with no stipulations. Thank Vano personally for coming to Castle Valachia and livening up the Faire.
>The nomads may enter… but only if they promise to strictly obey you and your law. You don't want to deal with persons who think the laws might not apply to them.
>The nomads may not enter, but they may remain at the base of the field to the castle and set up their entertainment there.
>The nomads may not enter… except for Vano's talented daughters, for which you will make arrangements to see and observe their performances personally.
Option 2 seems the most reasonable course of action with the information being presented.
Option 2 seems like the most reasonable option to aim for "spending time" with the daughters (as far as the rest of the guests are concerned)
I'm also going to throw in for Option 2.
Also putting mine in for Option 2.
Option 2 its a logical choice and we dont want to have a favoritism that would give edward a bad rep
Option 2: Let them in if they swear to follow our laws.
>8 votes for option two, allow the nomads entry, if they swear to follow your laws.
Predicate the nomads' entry on their adherence to not disturb the order in your castle.
You really don't see any need to preemptively exile the nomads. The space you'll lose letting their wagon into your castle is a small concern. If Vano's promises are true, the entertainment value will make up for it.
You're nervous regarding the "not a subject of any land," part of your conversation.
Or rather, you have concerns.
You can accept they are nomads and outside of your domain, so to speak.
However, they are coming into your castle, partaking in your Faire, for your subjects, furnished with your coin, and which will reflect on your style of ruling for the rest of your life.
You expect the nomads to obey the law.
You won't tolerate any reported instances of stealing, acts of violence, or anything else that will disturb the peace or cause conflict between others.
–You don't mention the 'no selling until the merchants have all arrived' rule. They're not selling anything anyway.
Of course you trust your soldiers to enforce your law and you personally will judge any notable crimes that occur.
But, you'd rather no crime happen at all.
So, you must ask.
Will Vano give you a personal vow that his family will follow your laws.
Vano listens, attentively. You think you see his lips flinch for a moment. You must think this is the first time anyone anywhere has asked him to swear to anything.
"I thank you for the chance to say: yes. I will swear the vow you've asked."
That means you can hold Vano responsible if something goes wrong, and he knows you will.
You think you're done conversing.
You tell Vano he's dismissed, and you tell the soldiers to relay your orders that the nomads are free to enter the castle, along with their wagon.
Vano gives you his gratitude again, and promises he will spend time making sure everyone in his family understands.
You're welcome among them at any time, but if you wish to take in the performances of his daughters, they will need a little notice to make some preparations.
Sounds reasonable enough.
Vano genuflects again, then takes his leave of your presence.
You stroll from the throne room, alone.
After all was said and done, Vano seemed rather reasonable and polite. You avoided over-committing yourself or making it too clear you had certain lustful expectations of his daughters. The meeting went very well. –Perhaps too well. You can't help but think something is waiting to get you, but it might be simple paranoia.
The feeling isn't helped by the fact that you stop by the kitchen only to be reminded the dried meat was used up already and you can't order them to add it to the soup. You help yourself to some leftover bread and cheese to make a substitute for your supper.
Maybe you should do a little more research into these nomads.
There might be something that could reveal more about them. More knowledge always helped.
… At the same time, maybe you don't want to waste too much of the day on this. You already missed time sparring and riding yesterday, after all.
>Visit Ricardo. Perhaps there's some official record of King Vlad's policy toward nomads in his Ruhemania.
>Visit Beatrice. You're wondering if she'll have any opinion on the 'fortune teller'. Could she even possibly be a witch…?
>Visit Tharja's library. Perhaps there's some book you could find with more information.
>…On second thought, you think you handled it well enough. Your muscles need exercising. Head to the armory to spar and stop worrying.
Option 1. Knowledge is good. Especially if there is old, bad blood here.
Oh, aristo, you bastard. All those options sound perfectly reasonable and here I am suddenly completely paranoid about those nomads just because you gave us those options… damn you! ;-)
Anyway. I am going with option three.
I don't think Vlad had any policy that would be useful to us. Given the way our guards reacted, the policy was probably simply banning all of them everywhere in Ruhemania. Vlad was concerned with his witch hunt, why would he allow unknown people from outside his borders to come in?
Beatrice is unlikely to identify any witch just from the limited information we have right know, which boils down to "someone female, not from Ruhemania".
And I'm too paranoid right now to go sparring.
P.S.: Can someone refresh my memory where we stand with the twins? Did we agree to postponing any advances or are we still waiting for a good opportunity to fuck them?
Option 4. Edward's main bastion of support (apart from wifey and side-Beatrix) are his soldiers, and he should remind them he still has a vested interest in them, as well.
I vote for option 4 as well. Talking with our guards is of prime importance right now since they probably aren't happy with our decision.
I put my vote to option 3. Let's get more info. We'll have to spar another time.
4. Tharja and Beatrice will be loyal to us no matter what. But the core to supporting our kingdom is our soldiers. Let's keep them happy
Edwards knows the twins' names (from Margaret), and knows they are more or less complete in their actual 'training' as maids and are merely being 'organized' now. All of the maids are busy with the Faire, but there's nothing stopping him from requesting time alone with them, though it'd be rather obvious. He hasn't actually talked to them since his first journey to the peasant village, but he has exchanged little glances with them in various scenes.
To move on to the voting…
>1 vote for option one, follow up with Ricardo about the nomads.>2 votes for option three, follow up by researching in Tharja's library about the nomads.>5 votes for option four, spar with the guards, put the nomads aside.
Resume your normal sparring with the guards.
Poll closed. Update soon.
You're not sure what value asking Ricardo about the nomads will bring.
He seemed ignorant of the notion there'd be nomads to the East when you mentioned it. His records are much more about the financial dealings of Ruhemania and King Vlad than diplomatic or dealing with King Vlad's law. It's likely there'd just be nothing there, unless King Vlad actually exchanged gold with them at some point. Given his reputation for not spending any money unless absolutely necessary to prepare for when he needed to expend resources to pursue a witch, you think more likely it'd be a waste of time.
Ditto for Beatrice. Unless she knew a particular witch who was related to them, she's likely to be completely ignorant. You already know the telltale signs of a woman who is likely being a witch, as well. She has nothing to teach you there.
That left Tharja's library… and that sounded more of a project than you had the liberty to take on at the moment. Her library's big enough that you could imagine there might be some knowledge buried there. But it'd take time to both find what you were looking for, and actually read it.
Your soldiers need you. You were well aware the men enjoyed seeing you and sparring with you as much as you enjoyed the exercise. If you're lucky, you'll have time for some more riding practice too.
You won't worry about the nomads anymore for the time being.
Still nibbling at the rest of your cheese, you step lightly out to the armory.
If nothing else, the fresh air and recreation will do you some good.
>No choice yet, further update coming soon.
You reach your armory. The guards stationed there are happy to see you.
There are more of them here now then there have been. Perhaps now the guard schedules have been figured out? Or perhaps they're done running errands for Ricardo.
You greet them all genially and find a sparring partner. You're anxious to train a little more seriously to take your mind off politics.
A few minutes pass.
Is it you, or are you seeing your opponent a bit better? Their movements seem slower and your feet feel quicker. You normally have a slight advantage because you don't bother to put on armor, but you're exceptionally agile today.
You carry on your spar before you land a solid strike to your opponent's fingers, disarming the soldier and making them cry that they yield.
You apologize immediately. You really weren't aiming for his hand, but to dislodge the sword from his grip. You expected his reflexes to be a little faster.
You keep that last part to yourself to avoid rubbing the loss in his face.
The soldier replies that it's all right, he's far from injured, he just clearly lost the fight.
… Something's off.
You glance around the courtyard where the soldiers practice.
No way is your performance just 'exceptional' today. The guards are just moving slower, with a bit less energy that normal. You can tell now that you're paying attention to all of them.
You step closer to the guard you were just sparring.
His eyes widen as you step into his personal space.
"Y-Yes, Your Majesty?"
You lower your voice to a whisper, just audible enough that you can be heard over the sounds of weapons clashing and men exercising.
What's the deal with everyone, you ask? Everyone seems more listless than usual.
You stress that you're not upset, but you definitely notice a change, and you want to know if there's a cause. Are the men getting enough sleep? Enough provisions?
You don't want to think Ricardo decided to play 'creative accounting' with the soldiers' rations after all.
The soldier blushes, scratching his face with the back of his good hand.
"It's nothing… or rather, it's our fault, Your Majesty."
He explains that it's the new guard duty.
Of course everyone is used to guard duty, and the problem isn't that the new schedules are more taxing than those they have normally, exactly…
It's the heavier armor everyone is wearing now while doing it. Heavy chainmail and plates instead of relatively light, and flexible leather. It's taking some time to adjust. –At least, for the younger soldiers who make up the bulk of your loyalists and not the 'old' soldiers.
So that's it. It's understandable.
Unfortunately there's nothing you can do about it. Armor is armor and you'd rather your soldiers be prepared. There's going to be many types of people at your Faire, and you can't be sure they'll all be law-abiding. Merely having the soldiers present in suitable weaponry and armor would deter possible crime.
You clap the man's shoulder and thank him for his honesty. He stammers a 'thank you'.
It does put you in mind of an idea you considered.
Perhaps the Faire would be a good opportunity to recruit more soldiers into your loyal service?
There might never be a more perfect time. Castle Valachia will have an influx of people from around the country and beyond. Surely some of them might be talented fighters. Or at least, have reason to want to join your army.
There would probably be costs and considerations though…
Things you're not sure you can properly visualize just by imagining the results.
You'd need consultation of the senior guard at least. You want to know just how much the army could expand before it became counter-productive. Perhaps an expansion to the barracks or armory would be needed.
Ricardo too would need to give you his opinion. There would almost assuredly be costs.
… This would become a project. Something you'd need to invest time into researching.
The question was, did you want to bother?
You don't anticipate a war anytime soon. If there was one, you could raise the peasants up to serve in your army temporarily as well. The need for a larger security for the castle… wasn't dire.
On the other hand…
You were told by Ricardo that sending a patrol out to a distant part of the country to investigate bandits would be costly. It would also likely be dangerous as it'd leave less men at your castle to defend against attacks.
As people "realize you're not King Vlad," you'll certainly experience an increase in bandit activity. –Real bandits, not the concoctions of Dmitrie's fable.
It may help to be prepared.
You look over the soldiers gathered in the training ground, your soldiers, and weigh the pros and cons in your mind.
People aren't going to spontaneously join your army. You would need to exert effort to make that change.
You could decide the tactics of exactly how you'll accomplish it soon enough. For now you simply consider if you want to make the effort at all.
In that case…
>Dedicate your personal time to researching and soliciting opinions on how to recruit more soldiers for your army. The Faire is a special opportunity for it.
>It is perhaps too much effort for something that is better considered later. Abandon the idea.
> As people "realize you're not King Vlad," you'll certainly experience an increase in bandit activity.
This is exactly right. We have to think about longterm stability. And we'll need soldiers for that.
>Wu Tang Clan comin' at ya
Option 1. We should at least put the research in. But we should also beware of getting too many people, or else people will think we're on the war path.
Good point. Perhaps we should let it be known we're looking for more volunteers to be prepared for an uptick in bandit activity? If asked, we can mention that it's likely the bandits will try to test me as I'm new to the throne, and I want to be prepared.
That's an option one for sure, because I forgot to add that.
>8 votes for option one, devote time and energy into researching how to expand your army.
Expand your army.
There's potential gains to be made here. Small opportunities can eventually add up to big advantages.
You can think of no downside to expanding your fighting force.
You decide to seek out the senior guard for his advice right away.
You ask the soldier you were sparring if he knows where the senior guard may be, and he points out he saw him in the barracks earlier. You thank him again and proceed on your way.
You let yourself into the barracks, where your soldiers have their living accommodations.
It's the first time you've actually stepped inside it, and frankly, you wish you hadn't. The smell of sweat is overpowering, especially in the summer heat. There's a faint smell of leather that's been baking in the sun that follows you as you step about.
It gives you a new respect for your soldiers, especially Sully, that they sleep like this. There are even a few soldiers napping. You think it's likely they've been given nightly guard duty.
You don't see the senior guard until you've explored for a few minutes and fine him in a little area with the man you remember meeting as the medicus who was present when King Vlad had died.
The senior guard has the top of his armor off and is naked except for his leggings as the medicus applies some sort of cloth wrapping. You see now he wasn't joking when he talked about carrying some rather intriguing scars.
He sees you and immediately moves to stand up from the stool he was perched on.
"Your Majesty," he says in greeting.
You tell both men they can be at ease.
You ask the senior guard if he's suffered some injury?
"Nay, Sire. My bones suffer from aches occasionally as older men do…"
He goes on to explain the wrappings help relieve the pain when he wears heavier armor or leads the men in a drilling exercise.
Hm. You weren't aware the senior guard had such concerns. All the better for you to work to expand your army now.
You tell him you'd like to discuss some business regarding the state of the men, privately.
His wrapping weren't done, but your request takes priority and it won't require the senior guard move strenuously. He put on a simple tunic of woven fabric and follows you to the armory building itself.
He draws up charts that show you the specifics of your army.
The castle has enough guards to act as sentinels throughout the castle. The entire castle. Even if the rooms that are mothballed were opened up, there would be enough soldiers to maintain order and stand watch.
In case of an armed attack, the drawbridge would be drawn and the attacking force would be waited out. A large-scale assault on the castle would not be possible without highly specialized equipment that is unlikely to be used, thanks to Castle Valachia's remote location, it's place on an inclined hill, and the surrounding moat. With such natural defenses, it's impossible for an attacking army to simply stack ladders on the side of the walls and climb over the top. At that point, the only problem would be "can the people inside the castle have enough provisions to outlast the invaders outside, without starving to death?" This problem would be exacerbated by more soldiers as they'd need more food.
He does admit that the amount of soldiers you have now would not be enough to repel an attack if the natural defenses were somehow by-passed. If the drawbridge was let open for an invading army, for example. Of course, the peasants would be expected to join in the defense, and would have every motivation to do so, so you wouldn't rely entirely on the guards.
You nod along with the senior guard's explanation. So that's how it is. After a certain point, having more guards is counter-productive in the pursuit of defending the castle. But you're not entirely concerned with the safety of the castle, exactly. You're concerned with sending your soldiers out on 'bandit-hunting' missions and handling other crises that might occur unexpectedly.
In that case, increasing the military is beneficial. Both in manpower, and in organization.
The army as it is has zero organization. The guards are simply that… guards. They train in different types of weaponry, and are practiced riders, but there is no dedicated role for them all. A real army would have troops dedicated to mounted fighting, spear-wielding, sword-fighting, etc. As it is, the guards simply prepare for all roles and wait for a time they're needed. The senior guard is only in his position because he's the oldest serving officer, and he is of noble birth.
That's right, you recall you decided against appointing him to be your general.
You ask him, who would replace his position as organizer of the guards if he were to become unable to lead?
He lists a number of possible names, you recognize them all as belonging to guards who are part of the 'King Vlad loyalists' you angered. Looks like it's to your benefit to keep the senior guard where he is for now until you find someone truly worthy of leading…
You'll deal with organization later.
How should you proceed to increase the number of soldiers in terms of sheer manpower, you ask?
You add that you're considering the Faire as a potential recruiting ground.
"There's probably a few sources, then… depending on what you want to focus on."
One, the peasantry. They'd be young, inexperienced, and it would take time to train them to be accomplished fighters, but there were no lack of peasants and other commoners around. They would likely also be impressionable and become loyal troops like much of your current soldiers. The downside would be if they discovered they couldn't adapt to life as a soldier, they might just run away back to their farm, or wherever they came from.
Two, mercenaries. It's expected that some such men will find their way to the castle. They would have coin, and there would be merchants willing to pay them for a safe travel. If you could somehow convince them to enter your service, they could also become a source of manpower. They'll likely be trained in how to use weapons and physically fit. The downside would be they'd likely lack discipline.
Three, the nobility. Some of the lower nobles you invited to the castle may be martial minded. They'd likely be literate, and could eventually take positions as officers to better organize your forces. The problem would be if you recruited them they likely would expect their background to be given consideration. You wouldn't be able to just get rid of them if they turned out incompetent. Furthermore, their families might take issue with them remaining at Castle Valachia.
…You have another idea.
What if you expanded the tradition of recruiting female soldiers? Perhaps do away with the requirement that they be related to a male who died in battle, and simply if they want to serve?
The senior guard… looks at you askew.
"That tradition is more one of…" he starts to say something, then reconsiders and picks out another word, "…necessity, Your Majesty. In times that demanded many soldiers serve." There's a bit of a pause, then he adds. "If you find it necessary, then it's fine."
You hide a grin under your hand as you thank him for his consideration.
Inwardly, your heart beats hard in your chest.
More female soldiers like Sully meant more women to potentially impregnate. –And even if they denied your attention or were unable to bear, you know Sully at least is fine serving as a dedicated guard.
A potential cadre of personal female guards, all pregnant is a tantalizing one.
You thank the senior guard for his input. You'll get back to him with your decision, if any.
You have another person to ask of his advice.
You salute your guards on your way into the treasury.
You find Ricardo examining some documents. After brief introductions, you start explaining your plan for increasing your army.
You don't go over exact military figures and organizational concerns, that's not Ricardo's business.
You want to know exactly how much money it will take to enact each plan. Surely there were economical factors the senior guard may not have considered.
On the matter of recruiting more peasants, Ricardo offers his opinion:
"A peasant who becomes a soldier is one less who is plowing a field, Your Majesty. You will pay for such a soldier in two ways. First in keeping them fed, and second in keeping them away from farming. –It will cost less in the short term because they won't expect upfront payment, but more in the longer term as I will eventually adjust the taxes we collect if it's a large number."
You nod. Of course that was a consideration. You couldn't just order your soldiers to go help the peasants in their settlement while they waited in-between shifts for guard duty.
You ask him, what about mercenaries then?
His nostrils flare.
"It would be the opposite situation… a mercenary would likely be lured with coin up-front, but the long-term cost would be lower as they are not otherwise working in a capacity to produce for you… at least in a manner you would tax. Though there may be a potential danger in that a mercenary you make a soldier is a mercenary who cannot be hired later if you need an army immediately."
Hm… in which case, do you have the coin to make that investment, right now?
He explains that you do, thanks to his creative accounting. And that if you do go that path, he advises you offer it early in the Faire, to tempt them more with spending the money during the Faire and then staying in the castle afterward. It makes sense. Seems Ricardo has the right idea.
As for the matter of nobility, Ricardo can't offer an economic perspective.
"It's impossible to say, economically speaking, how inviting some of the nobility to the castle as your guards would affect the state of your treasury. …Other than the obvious increase in cost of food and living arrangements of having more soldiers that would apply to your other ideas."
You nod. You were hoping Ricardo could offer some more words on that, but thinking about it reflectively, it sounded like the consideration of recruiting your nobles would be more something that has an impact politically than economically.
–Finally, what about pursuing the recruitment of exclusively female soldiers?
Ricardo… hesitates, like he's not sure if you're joking.
"Is that… an option?"
Hm. Perhaps Ricardo isn't aware of that tradition.
You explain the Ruhemanian tradition of accepting women into the ranks, if they swear to 'throw away' their femininity and never marry. King Vlad made use of it, you might as well, too.
He purses his lips, mustache twitching, before shrugging.
"I suppose that would alleviate the pinch you'd feel recruiting peasant women, since it's typically men who do the bulk of the work. Women mercenaries as well if you find any, since they likely get hired at lower rates. But, aren't you overlooking the possible damage to the population? A woman serving in the army would not become preg–… nant…"
He hesitates, mid-sentence, before finishing the word and trailing off. He blinks, and looks right at you. Ricardo definitely experienced a small epiphany there.
… You can't help a small grin, though you have enough shame to avert your eyes.
Ricardo know your history. He knows your desire for more fertile women, even. He knows the likely result.
He slowly lets out a huff of air that isn't quite a sigh.
"With the caveat that those children would eventually have to go somewhere, and that it'd be a problem for your military instead of me, I'd venture the economic impacts would be lessened if you… really wanted to go that route, Your Majesty."
Finally, there might actually be an advantage to recruiting women soldiers. Beyond your own lusts, of course. –Though you wouldn't ignore that, either.
You thank Ricardo for his valued opinion. It will be very useful in making your decision.
"Mnh." He grunts. "Take care, Your Majesty."
You turn and stride out of the treasury.
The rest of the day passes easily enough.
You run out of time to go to the stable, so you take your midday meal with Beatrice and Tharja, then meet Tharja in the evening in her quarters. She's happy to see you, and you her.
She's not quite developed a bump, yet. You share her hopes it will be soon, but tell her not to fret. The first time generally takes a little longer.
–Though you remember Elizabeth has a small bump, and resolve to give her some attention sometime this week. She'll definitely appreciate it.
You depart Tharja's wing and return to your tower.
You sit at your desk as dusk approaches.
The senior guard and Ricardo gave you things to think about.
Four different ways to increase your army…
Any one of them would likely put a strain on your castle, either financially or politically.
You're best served deciding one campaign and focusing all of your energy on it instead of trying to do too much at once.
Time was of the essence as well. You mustn't put the decision off with the Faire so close to starting.
There was one last thing to consider that neither the senior guard nor Ricardo mentioned.
The winner of your jousting contest would become a Knight.
A Knight would, by definition, serve in your army. And be the equivalent of an officer. So the eventual winner will have a standing among the guards that no one else shares.
But you still had to decide where to get more numbers of soldiers to serve you.
You consider your options and make a decision.
>Recruit from the peasantry. You'll have time to shape them into a loyal, formidable force.
>Recruit mercenaries. They'll bring you skills you can use right now, without much physical training.
>Recruit from the lower nobility. You want an emphasis on rebuilding the army's organization.
>It's time to change tradition to suit your needs. Recruit women exclusively, from any of the other categories. The drawbacks will be fewer and the advantages… fruitful.
Option 3, really don't want to think with our dick as we lack leaders who like us.
We need to be a little careful how we go about this, but Option 4 does open some interesting possibilities besides the obvious. I wouldn't necessarily deny any good men who wish to volunteer their services, though.
Option 4, let's start some new traditions
The optimum is recruiting strong and willing peasants, of either sex, and a few nobles of either sex as an officer corps. (Mercs are a bad idea).
But since we have to choose only one category, I suggest nobles. We can always find peasants, but a gathering of nobility like the Faire is a rare event. There are risks to giving nobles authority of course, but we need more competent people around us and we have countermeasures against treachery.
Option 3, besides we might get anl chance for lower nobility a female soldier
Guys. It's not just thinking with our dicks (which, let's be fair, this is a fetish story), aristo literally points out at the end that it is the option with the least amount of drawbacks.
More fetish fodder + least likely to blow up in our face = obvious choice.
C'mon. Don't ruin a fun time.
Well, it's also making sure that we're not [i]only[/i] thinking with our dicks. Striking a balance between lust and proper strategy can be a tricky thing.
I don't think the nobles are a good idea, as they will be expecting more in return for less effort. Peasants are plentiful, but we don't want to take away from the food supply. So I find myself torn between mercs and ladies. We also have to consider; just how many women would be willing to join? It's not always seen as a desirable vocation.
As much as I want to vote 4, I don't see us getting enough recruits. I vote option 2.
Option 1. Fuck, there's genuine benefits and drawbacks to each option, this was a deceptively tough choice. Bravo.
Well considering the economic worries in this decision at large, fewer soldiers might not really be an issue.
Option 4 gets my vote!
Option 4. because here is where i come when i want to think with my dick, dammit
>1 vote for option one, recruit from the numerous peasantry.
>1 vote for option two, recruit mercenaries.
>4 votes for option three, recruit lower nobles.
>6 votes for option four, expand the tradition of recruiting women soldiers.
Recruit women for your army.
Poll closed. Update soon.
You just can't get the idea of pregnant women soldiers out of your head. Bellies so large they need their armor specially designed to fit around them, standing at attention as your personal guard.
You're not sure it'll reach that level, but…
Ricardo pointed out there would be tangible economic reasons to go that route as well.
The only downsides were there would probably be less women volunteering like that, and of course, natural differences. From strength, to the fact the babies will eventually need to go somewhere.
But that's fine. Plenty of time to prepare for that.
You resolve to tell the senior guard of your decision tomorrow.
You go to sleep, having very pleasant dreams of your final thought that night. Familiar faces line up a row of women in full-plate armor with bellies extended, including Sully and even Tharja who bats her eyes at you bewitchingly. Unfortunately the dream ends, along with your sleep, before you can properly inspect your troops.
You struggle with a massive erection as you get ready to face the day, concerned with what you'll do with this thing… until you remember you're meeting Beatrice early.
Your breakfast isn't interrupted for once and you meet with the senior guard, taking him back to the armory before you get involved with your daily practice with the other men.
You tell him your plan is to launch a campaign to officially expand the tradition of female soldiers, and you want to do that by casting a wide net and recruiting from all the other groups he mentioned. Peasant, mercenary, and noble will be courted.
But, only for women willing to make the oath to never marry and symbolically 'throw away' their womenhood. You think that will allow you to test the water, so to speak. Men won't particularly be targeted.
The senior guard… makes a little grunt.
"…Understood, Your Majesty."
He makes no other comment, you think he's probably not impressed by your decision, but, tough. Sully served well enough. Other women could too. It only make sense he'd be reluctant to alter tradition, but tradition must sometimes bend. It's just an expansion of what is already happening and has happened.
… A bit of a pause passes.
–How will this work, you finally venture asking?
The senior guard's face tightens.
"We can't just set up a sign at your Faire saying: 'All women apply here for the King's Army,' Your Majesty. No one will take it seriously…"
He proposes a subtle plan, in which the guards watch for women who specifically look strong or otherwise have desirable traits. Unmarried peasant women with strong backs, tough female mercenaries, and… well, he'll think about it when it comes to noblewomen. They'll be approached with the possibility privately, quietly.
The nature of the tradition is not to make a big deal about it.
As much as you'd like to think otherwise, he does have a point. At least as far as announcing it publicly is likely too upfront. You shudder to think the Church would lecture you on 'the natural order' or whatever if it knew you were specifically targeting women to recruit for such a masculine role in castle life.
A subtle touch is appropriate.
Though that does give you a good idea.
You already have one female soldier in the ranks. One you're very well acquainted with.
Maybe you should enlist Sully as a recruitment 'officer' of sorts?
Other women might take the whole enterprise more seriously if they're approached by someone who is already living that life.
Though, you'd have to remove her from guard duty to do it, you think.
>Tell the senior guard you want Sully to help with the recruitment drive. Her situation will give an advantage and possibly let you recruit more soldiers.
>Leave well enough alone. You don't want to possibly disrupt the guard schedule the senior guard has set up.
>Well… maybe you should hear Sully's thoughts on representing you, first? Search her out and ask her opinion on whether she'd like to work on helping you recruit more female soldiers.
Definitely Option 3. Even if we want her to do it, if SHE doesn't want to, she can just subtly sabotage every recruitment we send her on. The second option has a good point too. We really don't want to disrupt the schedule.
I wish I had remembered that the pregnant women would be more vulnerable than perhaps helpful as soldiers, physically speaking. I would have liked to make that point before the last vote closed. Welp! Nothing to do but move on.
Option 3 for now.
Option 3: We respec wamen around here.
>6 votes for option three, float the idea to Sully before asking her to help recruit female guards.
Seek out Sully's consent before suggesting her involvement.
Sully would definitely help this project of yours.
But, you're not sure how Sully would actually feel about it.
She might prefer guard duty over socializing, or want to keep her gender as a soldier private.
You'd better check with her first.
You ask the senior guard if he can tell you where Sully might be?
Sully is on patrol duty at the moment, so you have no choice but to search for her yourself. At least you were able to narrow down the section she would be in.
It's made a little more difficult by the fact that the guards are now all wearing more uniform armor.
Fortunately, Sully is the 'runt' and you're able to identify her by her height.
You approach her, confirm it's her, and start to say you'd like to talk with her in private…
…but then you remember you've hired some of your guards to work as pseudo-spies, and you can't be so obvious.
You change your request to announcing you're conducting a 'surprise inspection' again.
Her eyes light up, and you see some playful desire there.
"Sure thing… King."
Her casual response tells you she's expecting a come on from you.
You find an empty room and shut to door to give you both privacy. You turn and start by telling her you might be disappointing her.
You actually have a request you want to make of her.
She blinks and stiffens up a little at hearing your tone. She surely was expecting something more sexy than serious.
"Oh… 'course, King. Anything."
You run over your plans, tentatively.
You want to recruit more women as soldiers, and you're going to do it… subtly.
It'd be a great help if Sully was willing to personally get involved, maybe talk about her experiences and let them know it was possible.
Sully's eyes widen in surprise.
"More women in the army…? Really?"
–Well, they'd have to take the same oath Sully did.
But you're rescinding the requirement that they be closely related to another soldier already.
That will open the door for other soldiers like her.
Sully's lips hang open for a second, then she smiles.
"All right, I'll do it."
You breathe an inward sigh of relief.
She doesn't mind?
"Why would I mind? Might be fun. And it beats guard duty."
–It occurs to you Sully leaving her duty here means one less spy in your net, but, whatever. You have enough people to rely on, you think.
This went better than expected! You thought maybe Sully would have some doubts or other questions, but she's willing to play along.
You'll inform the senior guard of the plan. He re-arrange Sully's schedule and duties, you tell her.
It was so easy, you might be able to spare some more time with her. You start to weigh the decision of whether to actually 'inspect' Sully, and how much…
But you hear footsteps approaching down the stone steps, growing closer, right for the room you two are in.
You both turn toward the door as a maid pushes it open from outside, looking startled at seeing you both in a room she expected to be empty.
You can't blame her, this is a laundry room.
She's stammering an apology, but you take it as an opportunity to end the conversation.
You were just leaving, the maid is free to use the room, you tell her.
There's no protest from Sully as you evacuate.
Alone in the corridor, you thank Sully again before departing. She gives you a proper salute, which you return.
You retread your steps to the armory to find and inform the senior guard of Sully's new involvement in the recruitment effort, which she will perform instead of guard duty.
He twists his lips at being told that.
"Are you… sure about this, Your Majesty?" he asks. You can tell by his tone he expects a 'yes', despite his question.
It's something you don't mind confirming.
Yes, you're completely sure. Furthermore, you expect results.
You won't set an exact quota, but you want at least a few new recruits by the time the Faire is over.
If there's really absolutely no one willing to serve, you'll want to know why.
You don't want self-sabotage before the Faire has even begun.
He grunts an apology.
"…your orders will be carried out, Your Majesty."
You trust him enough to leave it at that. No need to furiously micromanage like the situation with the maids.
You're looking forward to practicing with the men.
You give him a parting salute and step out of the armory into the fresh air of the courtyard.
You waste no time picking out a wooden sword and finding a sparring partner among the soldiers milling about.
At the very least, you're tired from running around the castle, too. Maybe that will leave you a little more even with your partner.
>No choice yet. Further update coming soon.
You have a somewhat reduced-intensity spar with one of your soldiers. It turns more into a demonstration of various maneuvers until you become fatigued.
Your midday meal isn't interrupted, and as sunset approaches you meet with Tharja in her room.
She wraps her arms around you, her book held against your back. She blows in your ear, and whispers that she's been looking forward to this all day.
"Beatrice was very distracted after the savage plowing you gave her this morning, my love… all I could think was that I hoped you had some of that energy left over for me later."
…Heh. You suppose you were a little rougher this morning. Though Beatrice certainly didn't complain.
You decide to tell Tharja why.
You had made the decision to recruit more women for your army.
You can't be sure what the results will be…
But hopefully there will be more girls like Sully open to being impregnated by the time the Faire is over.
The idea teased out very pleasant dreams from you, and even Tharja was wrapped up in them.
Tharja lets out a little gasp at hearing your explanation.
"Oh… you took my advice?"
That's right, Tharja did suggest this exact thing to you, weeks ago. It was the same day she spoke of tying her legacy to yours.
You'd almost forgotten it was Tharja who planted that seed of an idea in your head.
You can't help but laugh. The room fills with the sound of your mirth.
She's right. You did. It was an excellent idea, more than she even knew.
Your merriment invites Tharja's own contentment, and she gives a very pleased smile. Her face awash in satisfaction and desire… for you.
She leans forward, opening her mouth with a hot breath and inviting a french kiss from you. You can't resist the opportunity and soon you're embracing… your hands entangling in her hair before moving free to explore the rest of her body.
You do, in fact, have some of that energy left over for Tharja. Enough for you to share a few blissful sessions of lovemaking.
Being able to hold Tharja helps you forget the stress of the day and any doubts you have.
Though it also tests your groin muscles, your back muscles, and even the arches of your feet.
You spend so much time in passionate lovemaking with Tharja you almost forget you need to go back to your room.
Tharja, the cleft between her legs full of your seed, gives you a pouting look. Her lips pressing together.
"Can't you stay here…?" she asks, tenderly.
You sigh. You wish you could… but you just may have to attend a noble's introduction tomorrow.
You'll be back to see her, and Beatrice, you promise.
She nods, and accepts your words.
"Good night… Edward."
You share one last kiss goodnight… before you simply must put your clothes back on and leave.
The next day rises, and as you make your way down the stairs after getting dressed, you discover your instincts to return to your tower actually turned out for the best.
A soldier awaits at the bottom with a message that your judgment is being called for.
–Judgment? Not a new arrival to your Faire?
He nods, and states the people involved are being held outside your throne room to await your appearance.
It's at your own leisure when to appear… if at all.
…You suppose you'd better see what it is.
You hate the notion of your daily routine being interrupted, especially when it begins by sating your lust and your hunger, but this might be something important.
You tell him to lead the way…
>No choice yet, further update coming soon.
You regret standing up Beatrice.
You find Vano and the fat merchant waiting outside the throne room for your justice. They give curious stares at seeing you without your crown, then move to kneel before you.
You dispense with the etiquette and head inside the throne room. It's only you, the two men, and a few guards standing around.
You take hold of the situation and say it's very early in the morning… so you will thank them to be brief. You don't even bother to take your crown from the stand or sit on your throne.
Who is asking for your judgment?
The fat merchant steps up.
"It is I, My Liege…"
The fat merchant has a complaint.
He's occupying his space in the Faire, holding back his wares from being sold, as instructed.
So far so good. He'd better be doing so after you ordered it.
–You hope you're not about to hear about some attempt at thievery.
"I was approached by one of these nomads… a wrinkled old woman… who attempted to sell me a bundle of flowers."
… That's it?
The fat merchant goes on to argue the nomads are guilty of breaking your law by selling their wares early.
"It's not fair. I ask only that the law apply equally… either these nomads must be stopped or I must be allowed to sell my own wares early as well."
You don't know why this was brought to you right at dawn.
But you might as well hear the other side.
You ask Vano if this is true?
He admits that it's likely true. However, it is not a situation like the merchant suggests.
"The flowers are not 'wares', Your Majesty. They're offered not for any value as flowers, but as 'lucky flowers' that give a blessing from the prayer performed on them."
What's really being 'sold' is the performance, which falls within the range of a performer simply asking for coin at the conclusion of their act.
Hm… in that case, the ban on 'selling' early wouldn't apply.
When Vano puts it that way, it sounds more reasonable. Though you point out offering a few flowers for money… it hardly sounds like much of an 'act'.
"Please understand, Your Majesty, this is the domain of the elderly women of our group; grandmothers and even great-grandmothers who cannot do much else physically but still want to contribute. No one else does this."
You suppress a sigh.
It seems to you remarkably frivolous an argument. You think most likely either the fat merchant is sore you wouldn't let him set up shop early, or he's hoping for a reversal of your previous judgment.
Neither of them are going to be pleased if you simply order Vano to tell his old ladies to stop selling flowers.
In that case… you have a few ideas.
Some more straightforward than the others.
>Rule that Vano is correct and the old ladies selling flowers is a mere 'performance' and could not reasonably be seen on the same level as a merchant selling their wares. Warn the fat merchant he's pushing his luck in trying to get you to change your mind.
>You suppose anything being sold becomes a 'ware'. Rule that the law must apply equally and Vano must instruct the elder women of his group to stop selling flowers.
>Give the merchant what he wants and allow him to sell his own wares.
>Refuse to give a ruling. Instead, intimidate the fat merchant into recanting his desire for a judgment.
>Be smart. Ask the fat merchant if he was asked for a certain amount when the woman made her offer. If 'yes', then it was a ware. If 'no', it was a performance.
>> Option 5. Be smart.
I'll also take option 5. The merchant is being petty, but we still need to approach this fairly.
>5 votes for option five, be smart and measured in your judgment.
Judge if the flowers are a 'ware' by how the meeting was conducted.
It's tempting to just flatly deny the fat merchant's request. You don't like the idea he may yet come back with something else so… petty.
But you decide this may be worth a little more scrutiny.
You nod, before telling the fat merchant you have a few questions for him.
He braces his hands on his stomach, arching his back at being addressed.
"Yes, My Liege?" he asks.
You wish to know… how many flowers was he offered?
He blinks, pausing for a bit.
"I can't rightly say… A bundle? They were more weeds than flowers."
Hm. Is he sure he has all the details right, you ask?
If he's not sure what he was offered, then how could he say the woman was selling anything?
His eyes widen at your words.
"Wait, no, I remember… it were five flowers. No more, no less. …My Liege."
He nods, confirming himself.
"Sure of it."
You pause, mulling that over.
All right. And for five flowers, how much coin was asked?
He pauses, face blank.
"I don't… she didn't ask for any particular amount, she just muttered something about wanting money."
A-ha. You thought that was the case.
The guards give a little laugh at his response, but that's not what you want right now.
You clear your throat and the room goes quiet.
…You ask the merchant if he's ever sold a piece of meat or fur without naming a price.
The merchant is quick-witted enough he's caught up to what point you're making, or going to make, with that question.
"Uh… that is, most of the time I don't name a price, My Liege… I simply ask what people have…"
You huff an annoyed puff of air through your nostrils. There's no point in hiding your decision at this point. You decide to say it openly without continuing the little 'ruse' you started.
The merchant has reported, himself, that the old nomad woman only asked for 'money'. This is not how a merchant sells his wares, this is how a performer asks for donations after the conclusion of their act.
"No, no, My Liege! I ask what people are willing to pay and start arguing from there, all the time! Wouldn't hardly get any trade done otherwise."
…Yes. Of course, it stood to reason that there's much bargaining and bartering in his trade.
But, would the merchant ever accept whatever was offered to him by another person, without weighing, at all, what it would be worth, and what would be fair?
Would he simply accept 'money' as an offer, without at all asking for specific amounts?
The merchant pauses for a long moment. His face tense as he tries to concoct some argument to slip out of the trap you've set…
…before he hangs his head.
"No," he admits, with a crestfallen look.
… At least he has the sense to admit it.
That's right, you say. He'd be a stark fool and a failure of a merchant otherwise. He is clearly not that sort of man.
Your compliment perks him up a bit, leaving him with a confused expression as the emotions of losing the argument and being complimented war in his head.
However, you go on to say. The fact of the matter is Vano's family are entertainers, not traders, and Vano is correct in reporting the 'lucky flowers' are not sold as valuable, but part of an act.
–Though it's frighteningly close to outright begging, but you don't mention that part.
As such, you continue, what the merchant has reported is in no way a violation of the 'no selling until all merchants are present' rule. Vano's group is free to continue to perform and the merchant must wait to sell his wares.
Vano gives a little sigh of relief.
"Thank you for being reasonable, Your Majesty."
You nod to him. Looks like at least Vano is pleased you accepted his defense.
You dismiss Vano, asking the merchant to stay behind.
You bid the merchant step closer to you after the door is shut behind Vano's departure.
–You'll appreciate if he refrains from bringing up more complaints like this, you whisper.
You meant what you said when you met him in his first dispute. He's not getting an exception. The policy exists to provide fairness to all. You will not reverse yourself. Making frivolous arguments isn't going to get him on your good side.
The merchant sighs. You watch his mustache twitch, like he's mentally flipping a coin… and then you hear him speak.
"I understand, but… I really hurried to get down here…"
He explains he chartered a carriage for the purpose of getting to the Faire early, anticipating the cost of doing so would be off-set by the additional business he'd have by being the first meat and fur trader to arrive. Your royal policy is denying that potential profit and leaving him with a wasted expenditure that will hurt him.
"I'm up a creek if I don't sell enough goods now, Y'ur Majesty."
You admit, that's not the best situation for him to be in… but, tough. That was a risk he took. It's his own fault it didn't work out. Showing an eagerness to 'game the rules' was not going to win it back.
You remind yourself his 'gift' to you was clearly also going to be an expenditure he made for the sake of his advantage.
Sometimes being fair meant upsetting people who were planning to rely on unfair circumstances… the fat merchant is one of those people.
Still, you can try to inspire some confidence in him.
You tell him he'd be better served taking the shrewdness he's shown attempting to influence the Crown, and investing it into simply being a more competitive merchant.
You're sure he's going to make a profit. The Faire is going to be a grand event.
The fat merchant furrows his brow, and… nods.
He doesn't seem entirely convinced by your words, but it looks like he's accepted your resolve to stick to your judgment.
"Aye. Thanks for your judgment in this matter… My Liege," he says, finally, loud enough the soldiers in the room can hear.
You have the door open and he's quietly let out. You dismiss the guards and go on your way.
Judging by the sunlight… you likely have missed your appointment with Beatrice.
You'll find some way to apologize to her later.
For now, you have an empty stomach to deal with.
You proceed on to the sitting room to take your breakfast with Tharja and Beatrice.
>No choice yet. Further update coming soon.