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Elmis, Capital of Remon 
17th-Aug-2006 10:55 pm

The capital city of Elmis was alive. Spring flowers were tied to everything by bright ribbons and bright banners hung from most the buildings. Garlands were wrapped around posts and colums. The Remonians had all donned their best clothing and gone to the streets. It was a beautiful late spring day for the celebration. Hundreds of years ago that day, the city had been founded and along with it, Remon. It was a very important holiday in Remon, especially in Elmis were every turned out to see the parades and to party all day. Most shops were closed, only the taverns staying open.

It was noon and there was a great parade making it's way down the main road in front of the palace in the center of the city. Brigades of soldiers, marching in straight lines, their blue uniforms painfully clean and their silvery helmets gleaming, were cheered by the smiling throngs. Finely groomed stallions, ridden by knights in full armor, strode with their heads held high and stepping high.

The mostly military parade passed infront of a large dias, carpeted in red velvet and shaded by a blue and gold cloth canopy. It was an extraordinarily large dias, large enough for almost the entire court. Indeed, the entire court had turned out, not wanting to be excluded to from the public eye. The dandys were there, their tunics of the latest fashion, flirting, as usual, with the ladies of the court. As a result, it was extremely crowded and more than once bickering broke out because someone stepped on someone else's silk hem.

Queen Itabria had been at her station in the front of the dias for the first hour of the parade, hands quietly folded infront of her, smiling and nodding to the crowds and the troops that marched passed. Like the rest of Remon, she was dressed in fine clothing, her gown a deep wine red. Her dark brown hair was up in a gold net and on top of her head was an ornate golden crown. Normally, she never wore it, but she was in the public eye now and it was a holiday. The crowds were straining their necks and their vision to get a look at the nobility and the royalty.

But after a while, Itabria's neck started to hurt from the weight of the crown and just standing there was painfully dull. Quietly and, she hoped, unnoticed, she stepped back from the front of the dias. She easily slipped her way to the back of the dias where she called a page to her and handed the crown to him, which he took away at once. After that she was left alone in the back of the dias, surrounded by the gossiping nobility. She sighed; she had been in Elmis for years now, but she had never grown to like the court. Indeed, she chose to spend most of her time in solitude, reading or walking the palace grounds. She did not enjoy gossip, flirting, cards, nor any of the other courtly pastimes. It had taken the rest of court a year after she became queen to accept this and now they seldom sought her company. She much preferred it that way.
18th-Aug-2006 04:50 am (UTC)
Nadia looked around at the festivities, intimidated by the number of people. Despite growing up in court, she had never quite overcome her fear of large crowds, and scenarios with fires or attacking mages kept playing over and over in her head, making her look around nervously at any sound penetrating the white noise of the crowd. Ears hurting from the noise and eyes watering at the sun glancing off every surface, she was on the verge of fleeing to a more secluded area when she caught a glimpse of the parade finally nearing the dais. Always a sucker for a spectacle, Nadia pushed her way closer to the front of the dais to get a better look. Shading her eyes from the sun, she peered into the street.

At the sight, her vaguely apprehensive frown broke into a wide smile. It was beautiful – soldiers so immaculate it made her proud to be Remonian, beautiful horses – but not long before she lost interest in the general sight and began searching the passing faces for that of her brother, Roshan. She assumed he would have told his family if he was going to be in the parade, but she never knew. It could have been one of his tricks, trying to see if they would notice him among all the soldiers, after all.

Continuing to scan the faces, Nadi amused herself by making up stories for the particularly interesting looking soldiers. One staring directly in front of him was trying to keep his mind of his true love, a seamstress in Yalin. Another with a slight beard was still living at home with his parents, and had joined the army for lack of a better job. The man next to him was his friend, who was always trying to get him to mend his ways (or at least take more pride in his job), and the effeminate one a little farther down was actually a girl who had disguised herself as a boy to join the army.

Nadi smiled, pleased with her stories. Some day she might have to write the story of some of them, although it would need a little embellishing – they could all meet through their military service, and go on to save the world from a group of mages with the power to destroy souls. Obviously the girl would need a love interest – maybe the friend. He seemed like a responsible sort.

Her woes forgotten, Nadi hummed to herself and continued to watch the parade, oblivious to all around her.
19th-Aug-2006 04:09 am (UTC)
It seemed to Itabria that the back of dias was filled with even more dandys than the front. She couldn't figure out how this was possible, but a circle of them began to form around her, telling dirty jokes and laughing. She smiled at their jokes, but quickly excused herself. She recalled the page and returned the crown to its former place having decided the front was better than the back.

Itabria walked back through the crowd of nobles, a small path formed for her as she went; it was the advantage of rank. The edge of the dias was as she had left it; soldiers were still marching past and the citizens were still cheering. The uniform smile returned to her face as she looked around her.

Standing next to her, however, was someone new. There was a girl, a lady, rather; she looked to be around Itabria's own age. She had a genuine smile on her face and seemed to be enjoying the parade. She watched her for a few minutes and noticed that she was watching the soldiers with particular interest.

"Do you know any of them?" The Queen asked, partially curious and partially just wanting someone to talk to.
19th-Aug-2006 03:23 pm (UTC)
Nadia turned, her eyes widening as she noticed the crown. She curtsied hastily, feeling honored by the queen’s attention. “I’m really not sure, your majesty. My brother joined the army several weeks ago, and I thought he might be in the parade. It doesn’t look that way, though,” she said, her smile widening at the honor of the queen’s company. “Aren’t they beautiful? They’re like those silver fish that always move together or the spots of light on water when the sun shines…” The last of the foot soldiers passed by the dais and Nadia’s smile partially faded before she realized that she was probably being horribly rude by the standards the queen was used to. She turned back to her and curtsied again.

“I’m very sorry, your majesty; I’m not used to such company. I didn’t mean to be rude…” Nadia’s usual worried expression returned and she fidgeted with the sleeve of her blue gown, wondering what she should do. Clearly she couldn’t excuse herself, but maybe… a thought occurred to Nadia, almost causing her to smile again. Perhaps the queen was really oppressed by the trappings of royalty, eventually causing her to have an affair with a lower class man who would eventually be executed when the king found out. Maybe he would even be a mage! Forbidden love was always so romantic…
19th-Aug-2006 10:25 pm (UTC)
Itabria smiled and looked back to the soldiers. Their gleaming helmets did resemble fish scales, she supposed... although, the only fish in the palace that she'd ever seen were the brightly colored ones in the numerous garden ponds and streams.

"I'm afraid I don't know if all of the troops are marching today, but I suspect not."

The girl began to sputter with apologizes for some imagined slight, but the Queen waved her hand dismissively. She didn't mind her manners at all, quite the contrary; she found them refreshing. It was nice to speak to someone who wasn't trying to spread gossip or try to do the Queen some silly favor.

"Don't fret yourself, no offense has been taken." She said to the lady and even as she did, a sparkle popped up in the lady's eye that made her raise an eyebrow. She was thinking something, this one, something horribly amusing. She didn't bother to inquire, she doubted she would get the truth.

"I would introduce myself, but I'm sure none is needed." her dark Remonian eyes looking upwards at the crown and then back to the girl with a smile. "I don't recognize you, though. Have you been at court long?"
20th-Aug-2006 12:43 am (UTC)
“My name is Nadia Eris, your majesty. I’ve lived in court all my life, but my mother is just a Baronet and my father is the court musician, so I would be surprised if someone in the higher echelons had noticed me before.” She looked at the queen apprehensively, half expecting that she would leave upon learning how low ranking she was. Carefully straightening her dress and standing up a bit straighter, Nadia attempted to look a bit more like a noble and less like a little girl enjoying a parade.

Looking around at the crowd, she noticed several people approaching them with a kind of measured nonchalance of those who have a definite goal but don’t want anyone else to know they do. She allowed herself a brief condescending smile, trusting the direction of her gaze to keep the queen from thinking it was meant for her. They were doing it all wrong; looking everywhere but where they were going as if they were completely indifferent to the queen’s presence until… oh, good afternoon your majesty! Beautiful day, is it not? Could I possibly get you anything? Insert inane small talk of the kind meant to impress their fellows with how friendly they are with the queen.

Everything was fake; masks, pretenses, smoke and mirrors. That wasn’t the part that Nadia minded. She had always been one to appreciate a good falsehood, but it was something about the way that they paraded around as if everything was real and how everyone else went along with it that set her teeth on edge. Most of them didn’t even try to convince themselves that they believed what they were saying. It was just a ruse to get them what they wanted, and that was why Nadia had rarely gotten along well with the others at court. It was always artificial; no one’s story was ever as interesting as reality, but no one’s lies could ever compare with plain fiction.

“I see you have some admirers,” she said to the queen, nodding discreetly to the people ambling forward with their smiles and pretend inattention. “I think you should flee. They look rather like zombies in search of status and spicy brains.”

As soon as the sentence left her mouth, a wave of embarrassment hit Nadia. What was she thinking, saying that about her fellow courtiers, and to the queen no less? Cheeks burning, she stammered another apology for her rudeness and looked down at the sleeve of her dress, pretending to brush off a speck of dust to avoid letting the queen see her blush.
20th-Aug-2006 03:44 am (UTC)
Itabria began laughing aloud, a wide smile lighting up her dark features. She quickly covered her mouth, smoothering the laugh, with one hand and shook her head.

"You know, I would not be surprised if they were." She whispered glancing back at the encrouching courtiers. "I've never heard so accurate a description."

Glancing back at the courtiers, she noticed they had begun to whisper among themselves. It was not at all common for the Queen to speak to courtiers, not even when they approached her. One did not speak to a queen before she spoke to you and a result, very little was ever said. So, who was the lady that she was speaking to? Some low ranking upstart, no doubt.

Upon seeing this, Itabria composed herself, smoothing her skirt and folding her hands serenly before her. "I believe the parade is mostly over. The court will be staying here for an hour or so, and the crowds, I expect, will be here equally as long. They always seem to have a thirst for staring at courtiers. I do not care to stay so long, however. I should much prefer to be off. I usually walk the Northern Garden this time of day. Tell me, would you care to join me?"
22nd-Aug-2006 05:45 am (UTC)
Nadia’s entire face lit up at the offer, her embarrassment dissipating as quickly as it had come. “I would be honored, your majesty,” she said carefully, trying to avoid seeming too eager. Despite growing up in court around a lot of decidedly unpleasant nobles, Nadia still held a little girl’s daydreams of what royalty was like, and her mind was reeling like that of an eight-year-old just told she was going to meet a real princess.

A sudden question striking her, Nadia clasped her hands behind her uncomfortably. “Er, your majesty,” she began, blushing again, “I truly would be honored – more than honored, really, and I’m not complaining at all, more in the opposite direction of being incredibly grateful, but… well, why me?” Her question was genuine, and only asked out of curiosity, and she prayed that would be understood.

Mentally cursing her sudden lack of eloquence, she watched the queen’s face anxiously, trying to gauge her reaction. The queen had laughed at her joke, and that was a good sign, but Nadia’s overactive imagination was still filling her mind with ways she could have offended her. What if her majesty thought Nadia doubted the wisdom of her judgment, or that Nadia didn’t actually want to join her? Or that her stupidity just then was typical, and no longer wanted to associate with her? She would be right about Nadia’s stupidity.

Feeling about ready to crawl into a small hole and hide until she no longer felt embarrassed, Nadia bit her lip. It was silly and she knew it, but she couldn’t shake the feeling. She just hoped it didn’t show too much…
22nd-Aug-2006 11:18 pm (UTC)
The Queen's eyebrows raised at her questioning response. People did not usually seek the explanation behind a royal invitation; leapt at it was more what they did. This courtier was an odd one, that was for sure. Still it was nice to find someone who wasn't like the rest and she had no qualms about answering her question.

"Your conversation seems interesting and you make me laugh." She said quite simply, face void of any expression which, Itabria had learned, was what was expected of a royal. "If you are satisfied with that you may follow. Or you may stay."

Itabria turned and, it being clear that she wished to leave, a path quickly cleared for her. She passed through the crowd, ladies dropping into curtsies and gentlemen sweeping off extravagantly feathered hats. She gave them little notice being quite used to it and quickly descended the stairs as she left the dias behind. The walls of the palace were not ten paces from the dias and she was quickly instead, a wide oaken door hastily pulled open for her. She handed off her crown to a page and then finally stopped and glanced back for the girl who, she presumed, had followed.
1st-Sep-2006 12:04 am (UTC)
((Sorry it’s taken so long :\ ))

Nadia followed the queen, mentally berating herself and her stupid questions. She had a chance to talk to the queen of all people, and she had to muck it up by asking idiotic questions for no reason other than curiosity. She’d made herself look like a fool, that much was obvious, but at least she could try and fix it…

Wishing she could disappear into the ground and not have to worry about embarrassing herself, she followed the queen in silence. The crowds were oppressive and the sun beat down on her neck as if it had a personal grudge against her, but Nadia was determined not to show any sign of discomfort. Or, apparently, any sign of anything; she walked with her head high, face blank save for a small, bland smile. When the queen stopped and looked at her, she gave a grateful curtsy and continued to smile.

“I thank you once again for the invitation, your majesty. Please know that I meant no offence at all with my question… er, not that you would be offended by something I said, it’s not like… you should care so much about what I…” she stopped abruptly, looking at the ground. She had been trained for speaking, it was true, but she never knew how to use the lessons… talking about the weather or one’s health always seemed boring, not to mention no way to keep a conversation going, and many things surprised her so much that she forgot everything. Her family was generally frank with each other, and she was more used to that…

Nadia sighed softly. “I’m sorry. I’m not very good at this, am I?” she asked, continuing to stare at the ground.
4th-Sep-2006 10:54 pm (UTC)
"I'm not talking to you because you're "good" at addressing a queen." Itabria said plainly. She suspected that if Nadia could just get over the shock of speaking to a queen, they might actually be able to have a pleasent coversation. It had been a while since Itabria had had one, actually.

"There are plenty of people at court who are good at addressing queens and they were all out on the dias. You will notice that I am not talking to them, though; I am talking to you. It is because you're not tripping over yourself to flatter me compliments for my appearance that I am talking to you."

Itabria began to walk down the marble corridor, motioning for Nadia to follow her.

"I wasn't always a queen, you know. I was exactly common, of course, but I wasn't always a queen. You seem to have a wonderful imagination. Why do you not try imagining that I am just another courtier and try talking then?"
8th-Sep-2006 03:00 am (UTC)
Nadia had always been proud of her imagination, and was ecstatic to have a real reason to use it. Her genuine smile returning, she attempted to do just what Itabria had suggested.

The dress… her family must be rich, or maybe friends with a dressmaker, explaining the richness of her gown. She didn’t act much differently than the courtiers, except expecting to be obeyed (and even that wasn’t uncommon). The sheer unexpectedness of the queen talking to her made it a bit easier, and…perhaps she hadn’t literally meant for Nadia to imagine that, but in any case she seemed to actually want a conversation, and Nadia thought she could be good at that if she tried.

She laughed quietly. “This really is rather silly, isn’t it? I just get flustered and forget how to talk. Honestly, if I was talking to the queen, I’d probably forget my own name,” she said, placing an overdramatic emphasis on the word ‘queen’. She grinned. “Probably stammer and apologize constantly, too…”
7th-Nov-2006 09:02 pm (UTC)
Itabria smiled graciously and nodded. Such a strange girl, she was something of a novelty.

"I have the most peculiar suspicion that you might." Itabria folded her hands quietly infront of herself and walked on, her strides long and measured yet slow and almost swaggering. Her head, which had already been highly held, she tilted back slightly before inclinging it towards Nadia.

"You mentioned you had a brother earlier, did you not? I have a brother myself, but I'm afraid I do not often see him. He spends most of his time with my father, keeping an eye over the family lands, moving from castle to castle and such. But yours is in the military? I'm sure that must be very exciting for him."
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