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 Formal Presence
Ezra Grosvner
Posted: May 19 2012, 09:26 PM


Bishop of Hoei
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Group: Clergy
Posts: 88
Member No.: 50
Joined: 25-July 11



Isaiah Grosvner, as Count of Hoei and as the Head of the Sandford Commerce Guild should be the one attending the wedding of Duke de Jure. Unfortunately Count Grosvner was preoccupied on business of His Royal Majesty, along with the Duke of Kelyea. As his father had told him it concerned Rhiann Danum and all of that drama, so Ezra knew he had to act in the interests of his father, family, and the Guild. Attending the wedding of a new major ally was of importance, though the man was more of a business partner than an ally, but in all truth it meant economic ally. Aknatar was a valuable location for many reasons, for some time the Grosvners had seen that. They had been involved in Aknatar for decades, his late grandmother pretty much dominating southern Shamir. The Grosvners wanted stability for profits, and the Duke wanted to cement his power (and independence, at least from the crown) - the two sides needed each other to make things work in their favour.

The Bishop came her on behalf of his family interests, and so it would be ridiculous to be dressed in the formal garb of his ecclesiastical station. He wore white silks, as it was a hot during the day, and during the night he would cloak himself accordingly in something warm. The desert was a place of extremes in weather contrasting between day and night. They stayed with tribes and lesser sheikhs that had done business with the Guild before and owed debts. Money attracted lots of people, and the Grosvners did make loans to gain leverage over others. Ezra did not travel to Dal'ib alone though. His stepmother accompanied him, the extremely beautiful Ariel Grosvner, and sometimes Ezra had to admit that she was a foxy woman. Too bad for him it was his father's second wife. Additionally, there was about one hundred men, some consisting of knights and guards sworn to the House of Grosvner, and others mercenaries sworn to the almighty promise of cold, hard gold. The payment of gold was a promise the Grosvners could always back up.

The group entered Dal'ib flying three banners. The House of Grosvner was one such banner, the Sandford Commerce Guild was a second banner, and the third banner was the banner of Royal Patronage, meaning they rode with the patronage of the King. The Sandford Commerce Guild did receive royal patronage, and so they were allowed to fly a special banner the King gave permission meaning an attack on them is the same as an attack upon the King. The Bishop rode near the front of the group in his robes of white silk, the only remnant of his official regalia was the golden cross upon a golden chain, the cross bearing beautiful rubies and other jewels. His stepmother was back in a wagon, avoiding the heat with some of the servant woman accompanying her. Ezra was not quite sure where their delegation would be staying, but he was sure the Duke of Aknatar would have seen to it the wealthy Grosvners were treated well. It always did well to please allies or partners that dictated mass wealth. Well that was at least common sense, but Ezra had met some who lacked it. If not, Ezra would problem solve and find a place to stay. Riding south to Fort Hanalei would be too far to go though. But there were wealthy people in Dal'ib, surely some gold could sway them.

Ezra requested most of their company to remain in a centralised location, while he and a few others rode ahead to greet the gracious Duke whom was going to get married. Some of the Duke's guards instructed Ezra Grosvner to wait until they informed their master of the arrival of Father Ezra Grosvner, the Bishop of Hoei. He could not be considered a Lord, even by his birthright, as he had given up the title when taking the Oath of the Church. Nevertheless, he had not given up on his family or its business. He waited patiently, but he was sure there would be other lords and individuals of importance arriving here to greet the Duke and congratulate him on his wedding.


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Dianne Astley
Posted: May 23 2012, 02:41 PM


Countess of Tardar
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Group: High Noble
Posts: 143
Member No.: 12
Joined: 21-April 11



The Lady Dianne Astley had arrived in Dal'ib that morning with a party of nobles that had made the trek from Fexlund to Aknatar for the sake of this wedding. Not that she much cared to witness Balaric de Jure marry, but Roland was here, and that was reason enough for Dianne to agree to come.
And thus far she was regretting it. The trip had been tiring, and now the sun burnt her fragile pale skin and there was no escape from the oppressing heat. The compliments and flattering from the other Tetel'ac courtiers (who worked out to varying degrees how close she was to the king) barely made up for it.
After a long morning of going about the festivities smiling happily as though she were not weak from the heat and sweat dampening her fine light blue dress, Dianne had had enough and swiftly sought sanctuary in the Duke's residence. The structure was pure Tetel'ac architecture and drew her easily amongst the foreign Aknatari setting. The thick dark walls seemed to promise coolness.
Dianne made her way to the main entrance, hoping that her obvious appearance of a noble lady would be enough to grant her entry. And indeed the servants let her in, as she garbled a little in broken Aknatari to try and convey that if she did not sit somewhere cool she would collapse!
It seemed to do the trick and the young servant accompanied her down the corridor, half leading the way to a guest room, half gawping at her uncovered face. Hmm, Dianne wished that he did not come with her - for then she might lose her way and "accidently" stumble upon the rooms of the bride. She told herself it was not jealousy or rivalry with another bride, but merely natural curiosity to see the little thing that would claim the title of Duchess by the age of seventeen!
The servant opened a door, revealing a room that was quite airy, with white gauze across the windows, a chaise longue and a couple of chairs; and a finely wrought basin at one side.
But Dianne did not enter the room, her attention was caught by a man who stood alone further down the corridor. The fact that he was from Tetel'ac caught Dianne's attention. And she was sure that she recognised him...
"Bishop Grosvner."
She called out, moving in his direction.
Suddenly Dianne forget the discomfort of the heat and how it affected her dress (considered a summer dress in Fexlund, but failing to bring any relief in Aknatar); her courtier's smile caught her lips and her blue-grey eyes shone in his direction.
"I did not think to see you here, sir. Forgive me, where are my manners. Lady Astley, at your service."
She dipped into a curtsey, brief and elegant in her movements, her bright eyes returning swiftly to his.


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Ezra Grosvner
Posted: May 23 2012, 09:52 PM


Bishop of Hoei
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Group: Clergy
Posts: 88
Member No.: 50
Joined: 25-July 11



Ezra was used to warm weather, but this was different. It was a dry heat, different from the humid, sweat inducing heat commonplace in Kelyea. The dry temperature made it bearable to an extent, but it was still much hotter than Kelyea. At least in the day, the night did grow cold. In Kelyea the night was warm and humid too, so the heat was hard to escape, but here the extremes were so much more elevated. Though the Bishop was still not accustomed to long hours outside, often his work required him t be within a study working on some materials of the mind. Ezra would suck it up, there were lands with varying weather, and it was a fact of life. Humans were very good at adapting to changes in their environments.

The Bishop let one of his emissaries go with the men of Duke de Jure, to inform the man of his arrival. Surely the Duke was busy, and was receiving many nobles as they arrived in Dal'ib. This was certainly a historic day, there probably has not been so many nobles from Tetel'ac in Dal'ib on one day. Ezra Grosvner was not even a proper noble, he had given up his title for work in the Church, but he had in turn earned his own ecclesiastical titles. Nevertheless, he was not here on behalf of the Church, he was here on behalf of his father and the family Guild. He was much more diplomatic than any of his siblings.

The building was almost tacky, it was pure design from Tetel'ac, but set amongst the foreign Aknatari architecture - it sat out of place in the immediate area. The Ducal Residence was much out of style in contrast to the Aknatari architecture, as much as rule of Aknatar by men of Tetel'ac was out of place. Well Tetel'ac conquered Aknatar, and if they had not been so unruly they would not have brought such drastic measures upon themselves. The Bishop turned as he heard a woman's voice call out his name. There was some familiarity with the voice, as the person spoke his name in a tone that seemed more assuring. Perking his head up, he turned and scanned to see a golden haired woman. Oh, her!

As soon as the Bishop saw who the woman was he smiled politely, almost natural at the game of politics. This was not a woman he could ignore, after all his Church went through hurdles to make her love interest's annulment possible. He hoped she did not know he was one of the voices within the Church that opposed the annulment. Bishop Leopold made the decision, and did act within the proper rules. "Lady Astley," he responded enthusiastically. The Bishop did bow to the woman, as it was prudent to give a potential future Queen such respect. Thankfully his silk robes made things bearable, being so light and soft. "No, no, no. I do not command the service of anyone, I am dedicated to the service of A'er and his subjects," he responded politely. Well she did push that answer upon him, as even though he was here he was not here on behalf of A'er.

"Unfortunately, my presence here has nothing to do with my work, and more to do with my family. I had some spare time and did my father a favour in coming here," he conversed friendly, speaking the truth without going into further detail. "What brings the lovely Lady Astley to Dal'ib? By chance, His Royal Majesty?" Well it did not take a scholar to realise that Dianne was here with King Roland, the King having to show up at such an event to support another one of his puppet dukes on strings. He did notice the King's favourite woman did appear rather out of place in this location, and with that it would seem logical for her to talk to anyone she was familiar with. It was human nature when going to places that one was not familiar with to try to keep to those you knew best first, as it was often scary going talking to people foreign to one, to individuals unknown. Better to go with the known devil than the unknown one. In this case though Ezra was no devil, he was a holy man - so that meant he was better than both a known devil and an unknown devil. "Enjoying the Aknatari hospitality?" He gestured with both arms up, and waved his hand like a fan to his face. When he said Aknatari hospitality the Bishop actually meant to ask if she was enjoying the heat.


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Dianne Astley
Posted: May 24 2012, 08:04 AM


Countess of Tardar
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Group: High Noble
Posts: 143
Member No.: 12
Joined: 21-April 11



Dianne watched the man bow in return, and she wondered whether it was just his usual manners, or was he aware of who she was - and more importantly, who she might become. It was hard to tell how much this church-bound Grosvner might know about the rumours of court. Dianne wondered if he looked up from his religious texts long enough to notice those around him.
Dianne had always been interested in the most powerful families in Tetel'ac - something she had learnt from her mistr- sorry, previous mistress, Duchess deGrada. Dianne learnt at a young age that it was beneficial to acquaint herself with as many influential people as possible, and to note who was on the rise and would be useful for herself or her Duchess. The Grosvner name was firmly associated with wealth, although their power had declined somewhat since their golden days (or so she had been told by Rhiann). And out of the Grosvners, even though Ezra was similar in age to herself, he held little interest as he turned his attention to the church.
Let's be honest, he seemed just so very dull and proper.
But that did not stop Dianne now approaching him, a thankfully Tetel'ac man in an alien environment. Oh, she was an independent and confident woman who had travelled across Tetel'ac and made it her profession to make new acquaintances in a sea of strangers. But that was in the mainland; here it was quite different, it was a completely unknown culture with beliefs and habits that Dianne struggled to comprehend.
Dianne's smile tilted and she bit her lip at his response.
"A'er favours you to travel to the land of Aalaam? You must find this place fascinating on a professional level."
She replied almost playfully. She wondered if Ezra had become one of those damned zealots, intent on pushing his religion on others. Or was it actually interesting to be in the homeland of another faith. Hmm, Dianne technically followed the A'eri faith, and honoured the religious festivals and even
occassionally attended church. But she had better things to do with her time than try and appease a god that may not exist. Besides, she had broke so many of his commands, a workaholic, where the Holy Day was no different from any other, a professional liar, and of course, an adultress without remorse.
And then he asked why she was here, proceeding to answer his own question. Dianne smiled softly, her eyes dropping and a faint blush colouring her cheeks. For once she did not have to pretend to be a young woman in love.
"Is it so very obvious? I am of course honoured to witness the wedding of Duke de Jure; but to be honest, I only come due to loyalty to our good King."
She said gently, her voice quiet and thoughtful. But the words were a thin disguise that she was there not as a loyal subject, but a loving woman.
Dianne hesitated as the Bishop asked her about the hospitality. She did not wish to be rude or ignorant of the habits and standards of these Aknatari people, but trully she was missing the mainland and the etiquette she was well versed in.
"They are very welcoming, I cannot fault the people. And the scenery is so breathtaking... but I must admit that this is the most uncomfortable I have been!"
She laughed at her final confession, her fingers tracing the line of her dress at her neck. She wished no insult to the Aknatari, but she could not wait for the blessedly cool night.
"I came inside to refresh myself."
She said, gesturing vaguely to the open room behind her and the - oh, the young servant that still hovered.
"You are not partaking in the festivities...?"
She said enquiringly, because obviously he was in here, not enjoying all that Dal'ib had to offer.


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Ezra Grosvner
Posted: May 24 2012, 03:59 PM


Bishop of Hoei
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Group: Clergy
Posts: 88
Member No.: 50
Joined: 25-July 11



Fortunately Ezra knew a lot more than generally was assumed of him. He had his own little circle of spies and informants, particularly seeking those who were mute to prevent them from talking. Being a Church he often got such individuals who parents abandoned because the burden was too hard upon them, and so he helped give them a better life, giving them some pay, in exchange for information gathering services. Nevertheless, considering King Roland got his annulment through the Church, it was no secret among the Bishops that Dianne Astley was the King's love interest. It would be a Church official presiding over the wedding ceremony when it did happen between Roland and Dianne, or at least that is what Ezra thought since Roland had sought the Church for the annulment, so it would make sense to have the Church preside over the wedding.

Indeed the Grosvners were still deemed one of the Great Houses of Tetel'ac, but their political power had declined with the fall of Lucian, reformation of Immanuel, and continuation of pro-deGrada oversight in King Roland. Nevertheless, with those powers removed Isaiah navigated the channels cleverly, and increased the wealth the family had. Even with the Caras family replacing them, there was an entrenched system full of Grosvner sympathisers, owing their patronage to the wealthy family. They dominated the Church, the Commerce Guild, and pretty much the Navy. In fact, the Grosvners have enjoyed more power outside of power because they have advised King Immanuel, and now King Roland, as well as Duke Caras and others who seek their insight. No one knows business and prosperity like a Grosvner, and they have manipulated those who have power to benefit their interests. Sometimes it hasn't worked, but no one in power likes hearing the prospect of widespread poverty among the masses - because that leads to discontent. Discontent leads to overthrow, rebellion, or whatever it is someone in power doesn't like. Placating the Grosvners keeps a system that benefits them from collapsing, because if the economy of Tetel'ac collapsed quite frankly the rulers would be fucked. Especially considering the collective debt racked up by three consecutive Kings from Lucian, to Immanuel, and now Roland.

Now as to Ezra, he went the path of the Church, as the family needed to maintain members involved in their institutions that were supported with their wealth. Indeed he seemed dull and boring just by being associated with the Church. The Bishop was always polite, but there was a wild side to him. It was unlikely Dianne would get to experience this Bishop in the bedroom. "Well I serve A'er in life and in my profession, but he does not direct me here. Rather, my actual father does. Let us just say he is occupied on the business of His Majesty," he replied again. Ezra clearly wasn't pushing his religion upon Lady Astley, but there were some very zealous types within the Church. As for the religion of Aknatar, the Bishop truly did not care for their beliefs, which he viewed as backwards and wrong.

"I am sure His Majesty wishes the best upon his friend the Duke de Jure," he answered politely. Well the King did hand pick the Duke of Aknatar to tame it. The cost of these endeavours in Aknatar actually was a reason the debt increased under King Roland. "But that makes two of us, only here on the behalf of another," he pointed out. Well indeed she must have loved Roland to come out here, or he forced her to come with him so he could enjoy his nights. Otherwise, who in their right mind would leave the comfort of the Royal Castle to venture into these desert lands? He only nodded as she spoke about the people, just more pleasantries. Well maybe Ezra would have some fun with a local whore later on, and they wouldn't know who he was. "I could refresh myself too, I just arrived here within the last hour," he responded, a good reason as to why he was not partaking in the festivities.



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Dianne Astley
Posted: May 26 2012, 02:25 PM


Countess of Tardar
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Group: High Noble
Posts: 143
Member No.: 12
Joined: 21-April 11



Dianne brushed a stray lock of hair that had managed to come loose from the knot, back behind her ear. So young Ezra was here on behalf of his father. Well, it was only to be expected that at least one Grosvner would be present at such an event, to keep the family's name alive and in good graces.
Dianne let out a gentle sigh as he excused his father from attending.
"You mean he escorts Duchess deGrada to her new life?"
She asked simply, then smiled and turned her face away from his, she needed no confirmation on the fact.
"Or Lady Danum, or whatever title she is to hold. I am not aware of the particulars, her destination and such; but I have gathered who the main players are."
Dianne stated, laying out openly to the Bishop what she actually knew. A little too open, one might think, but surely he would be fully informed on his father's doing and nothing the Lady Astlety might divulge would shock him.
And when Ezra mentioned the friendship between the king and the Duke, Dianne reverted to the humble courtier she was.
"Indeed."
She agreed. Friends? Oh, Dianne only wished she could contradict that statement aloud! But she was so used to dissembling, to hiding her words and features that none could discern her true thoughts.
There had to be no friendship lost between Roland deGrada and Balaric de Jure. Dianne remembered the last time she had seen Balaric, meeting him at an inn to confirm that it was indeed him. Oh, never did she feel so afraid for her life than when she was in the presence of that man, he was so dangerous, his aura dark and threatening as though it would be nothing to reach out and snap her neck.
And to think, the penultimate time she had seen him was when he returned to Dunmore with her mistress, and after a brief introduction, Dianne had left them to their "business" and gone to preoccupy Duke deGrada. Oh, to think that was how this whole affair began!
Dianne smiled anew with the Bishop's final comment.
"Then come, we shall keep one another company. Unless something else calls you."
She invited, turning to motion towards the guest room that had probably been set up for the poor Tetel'ac nobles to find some reprieve from the heat.


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Ezra Grosvner
Posted: May 27 2012, 05:10 AM


Bishop of Hoei
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Group: Clergy
Posts: 88
Member No.: 50
Joined: 25-July 11



The Grosvners maintained a solid reputation as competent people, as much as many didn't like them. Part of their reputation was vital on keeping promises, and they didn't make promises they didn't keep. Sure some in the family were opportunistic, but they had some honour and decency to keep their word when they gave it. They usually showed up to events, and were known for always been excellent at bestowing gifts. It would be easy to assume Ezra was here to merely maintain the appearance of his family, but alas the Guild and Grosvners had very close relations with the new Duke de Jure. They were working together for the mutual benefit of each other. Though as his father expressed, such information was best kept between the Duke of Aknatar, and those representing the Guild or fellow Grosvner family members.

"Something like that, but I don't know the details. All I know is that she seems insistent on not wanting to stay at my family's estate," he answered, referring to Grosvnersburg. He briefly wondered if Lady Astley had ever visited Hanalei. Certainly not the place for a frigid bitch, but it was befitting of a lovely and fair Queen, if Dianne would one day assume such a role. Back on to the topic at hand though, perhaps the devil was in the details that he unfortunately was not privy to. "Indeed, and to think all these main players, all these men, are doing it for their beloved King so he may find love and happiness," the Bishop responded, without directly saying or not saying it was about Dianne. But clearly everyone knew of the strained marriage that was recently annulled. Though was it loyalty that drove these subjects to help their King? That was the hard thing to determine, and was the King even innocent in all of this? Clearly he had the biggest motive in this scheme.

Well it was obvious the King was not a friend with the Duke of Aknatar, but it was obvious that he was a marionette to some extent, except instead of strings the King reined him in and controlled him with stronger leashes. The only way one could become free was moving away from dependence, and seeking to become independent. Often the best path towards those aims was through money, namely the economy. That said, could Roland really control a man who butchered a previous King? What would stop Balaric de Jure from killing another King? It was hard to say, except that it seemed when near the end humans often thought back on the beginning.

"My dear Lady, it would be my pleasure," he replied. He stepped forward to walk at the Lady's side into the guest room that had been made into a small haven for rest and refreshment in this heat. Hopefully there would be food, drink, and some comfortable chairs to sit upon. In the meanwhile Ezra would stand after his long travel to stretch his legs. There would be plenty of time to sit later.


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Dianne Astley
Posted: May 30 2012, 01:33 PM


Countess of Tardar
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Group: High Noble
Posts: 143
Member No.: 12
Joined: 21-April 11



Dianne nodded as Ezra announced that Lady Danum had not wished to visit Grosvnersburg. That was surprising. Dianne would have thought that Rhiann would have sought, not only a place she knew and could work from, but the home of a previous ally. Inwardly Lady Astley sighed. It had only been a few months, but already her thoughts were out of tune with Lady Danum. A saddening thing when once she prided herself on predicting everything and everyone her mistress might need.
And to answer a silent question, Dianne had been to Hanalei before, and other pleasant places in Keylea when she "holidayed" away from the deGradas. Though she stayed out of the sun as much as possible, for fear her tanned skin would be unsightly for her mistress. Besides, she was too busy seducing a new informant for the Black Court. It had proven fruitless in the end, but it had been ever so much fun to try.
Dianne smiled as the Bishop continued to speak his opinion on the matter. That so many should care for their King's happiness. For the majority, it would appear that Roland was finally removing the thorn that had been in his side for twenty years - the relief should be pleasure enough! And none could blame him for doing that. For the minority that were close to Roland, they might also know of his preference of Lady Astley, and that he was doing this so he could be with the woman he loved. And for one woman... she knew that he did not love her, and all he sought was heirs - if happiness happened to come too, that was just a bonus.
Dianne dipped her head and led the way to the guest room, looking very much the humble lady-in-waiting, save for the enticing sway of her hips and the confidence and hidden smile that hinted at something else.
Dianne walked into the room, the floor-to-ceiling windows were thrown open to encourage every slight breeze to cool the room, and it somewhat worked.
"Drink. Food. Please."
She said to the servant haltingly in Aknatari. Hmph, terribly difficult language that she'd never bothered to learn before, and now struggled with the basics she had crammed to learn on the journey over.
But it did what it was supposed to do, and the servant bowed and backed out.
Dianne sighed and moved over to the basin and poured some water into it, before dipping a cloth in. It was already lukewarm, but would do the job. She wrung out the cloth and dabbed at her neck, collar, and the top if her back. She closed her eyes at the mild pleasure. She wished she could bathe now, and wondered if she could order a bath of cold water later - or would these damned desert nights be chilling her by that time and making her wish for a hot soak.
"So, are you looking forward to the wedding later, Bishop?"
Dianne asked, just as the question was being asked repetitively outside, but it seemed a safe place to start.
"It looks like Duke de Jure is securing his hold over Aknatar by taking a native bride - I hope this is of benefit to your family's enterprises."
Ok, not quite normal chit chat for a courtly lady, but she couldn't help but find out directly from a Grosvner the outlook for Sandford when she had the chance.


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Ezra Grosvner
Posted: Jun 3 2012, 09:05 PM


Bishop of Hoei
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Group: Clergy
Posts: 88
Member No.: 50
Joined: 25-July 11



Alliances changed over time, but still the Grosvners were known as hospitable hosts when housing dignitaries at their various estates. Grosvnersburg was their pride and joy, a luxury deemed beyond all luxuries, and Lady Danum turned it down. If one was going to be put into exile, might as well enjoy the rest of the days in good taste and comfort. But Ezra was sure Dianne knew as much as him, a woman like Rhiann Danum could not sit still. Someone with such pride would not be forced into obedient retirement.

As for His Majesty, well he had got an annulment, courtesy of the Church. The Church did not decide on such decisions lightly, and Ezra was aware the King had not been a follower of A'er in the past, or at least there seemed to be no indication of that. No, like the rest of the senior Clergy he knew the King saw the Church as the easiest way out of his marriage when Count Grosvner pushed the idea upon the man. Ezra was not quite sure what his father hoped to accomplish from helping the King out of marriage, but he did know for sure the pressure on the Church to grant it did come from Isaiah Grosvner. Ezra was actually opposed to it, but his voice was unheeded, as were some other critical voices. If the King only sought this new chance at a proper marriage for legitimate heirs and if the next marriage did not turn out as he wanted it would be more difficult to get an annulment the second time. Unless Count Grosvner was there exert his control over the Church like the puppet-master he was. The idea of his father being one of King Roland's most helpful allies, well that was something he would never have imagined. What exactly was the man up to? Not even the astute Ezra had calculated that one yet.

Ezra entered the room with Lady Astley, less familiar with this estate than the woman next to him. He only smiled and nodded in agreement as he looked at the servant who bowed and went to fetch food and drink. The language of Aknatar was not quite something he was familiar with, indeed there was a translator with his group. Hey may not have known the language, but thankfully his family did employ many translators. He only smiled politely as the Lady dabbed herself with a wet cloth to provide some relief. Ezra could see why the King found her attractive, but there was probably more to it than her fair skin, and her feminine beauty. "Well I am not yet sure how an Aknatari wedding goes, but I am sure the food will be great," he said politely. He wanted to make a butcher's wedding, but decided that would be in bad taste.

"We hope so, but he takes a bride from the north. We are more centralised in the south, and some of the tribes down there are stirring trouble," he explained. Those were the reports coming out of Shamir, and the Guild could not control all of the tribes down there. They did buy off certain tribes, and those ones remained under control. "Shamir was a bit more stable for us before, but the Duke has promised to assist in restoring law and order to Aknatar," he answered. That part was beneficial to both the Duke and the Guild. But it was not marriage the benefitted the Guild, it was only whether they could use their economic influence to maintain influence in this region. Between his father, aunt, uncle, and him as well as a few others in the Guild, they were now aware of the Duke seeking to become more independent. That was both a blessing and a curse, depending on how the situation unfolded.


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Dianne Astley
Posted: Jun 5 2012, 04:21 PM


Countess of Tardar
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Group: High Noble
Posts: 143
Member No.: 12
Joined: 21-April 11



Dianne put the damp towel back, and moved over to sit on the chaise longue, resisting the urge to curl her feet up beside her. It was not the royal court, but some etiquette had to be maintained.
She smiled as the Bishop commented on the food. Well, she wasn't overly familiar with Aknatari customs and weddings either. Who in Tetel'ac was? Until Duke Nast- sorry, De Jure had made Aknatar interesting to the mainland, it was mainly ignored by the majority of people.
But as for the food, so far she found it overwhelming on the senses, too spicy and a source of discomfort to her insides. She preferred the more solid, rich food of home.
Dianne almost pouted as she considered what Ezra said on the geography and stability.
"Surely it is the bare bones of a stronger united Aknatar, the Duke in Dal'ib; Sandford to the south; and Sheik Mu'awiyah to the north?"
She asked, though she knew as well as any that there were always other factors; opposition, rivals, all slowing down the aims of the Duke of Aknatar. And via the Duke, the King's aims also.
"But then, if trouble still occurs to the south, perhaps Duke de Jure should take a southern wife also. Is that not the custom of these Aknatari!"
Dianne laughed lightly at the strange foreign ways of these people that could take multiple brides. And there was something slightly cruel as her smile lessened, for she could not help but think of poor Najla Mu'awiyah that was being celebrated today, but may become just one of several De Jure women.
Dianne looked up as the servant returned with a tray of fruit, biscuits and a jug of fresh water. She bit her lip as she tried to find the words, but failed. So instead she smiled her thanks and indicated the table. They boy seemed to figure it out and put it down, then obediently backed away.
Dianne glanced over the food brought - she picked up something she recognised and helped herself.
"Well, I wish you all luck in creating a stable Aknatar."
She added. Then smiled again as something occured to her.
"I hope it did not damage your family's business when the Duke revealed his identity. It was quite the scandal."
Yes, a scandal. Dianne had witnessed the disbelief at the capital, that the Duke of Aknatar was not Eadgar Nast, but Balaric "The Butcher" de Jure. And at the time, Dianne had silently gloated that she had already known this. From the time that Balaric had come back from the dead and sought an audience with her mistress many months ago.


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Ezra Grosvner
Posted: Jun 6 2012, 07:15 PM


Bishop of Hoei
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Group: Clergy
Posts: 88
Member No.: 50
Joined: 25-July 11



The Bishop allowed the lady to seat herself before he spied what appeared to be a well-built wooden armchair with some cushioned pillows upon it. The wood was much more suitable for the heat than the leather chairs more common among nobility back in the mainland. Well he remembered one of the monks who had taught him on ecclesiastical history said it was always better to sit in a hard, firm, functional chair. It helped one relate to the common men, rather than appear to lavish and out of touch. Regardless of which chair was better to sit in, or more appropriate to sit in, Ezra was at least relieved to finally park his ass into something on stable ground. One got sore sitting on horseback for a long journey.

The Bishop was not properly acquainted with Aknatar as he never took an interest in the culture or land. Though he didn't mind spicy food, he preferred to dine on the livestock ranched in Kelyea, particularly the spiced lamb. Though he did like the pita made here in Aknatar, something the Guild brought back to Kelyea years ago. He had briefly read about it, but he was always more fascinated with the histories of Kelyea, Fexlund, and even Rodan. One couldn't blame a man for preferring the classics. But it did not mean his family had ignored Aknatar like he had. In fact, the Sandford Commerce Guild had established operations out her long ago, and his mother had been very adamant about doing business out there. When his mother went into exile, Aknatar was one of her last puddles of political mud she held some weight and power to toss her filth around. Perhaps it was because of the ability to remove a previous Duke, install a puppet, and failed attempt at installing a second puppet that made some in Aknatar worry over the Guild's influence.

"There are some who would prefer if the Guild was not in Aknatar at all, but such thoughts are ridiculous. The Guild is the largest purveyor of goods in and out of Aknatar," he replied. There was some competition, but it was not significant to the profits of the Guild. The merchants affiliated with Sandford did offer a greater selection of goods, lower prices, faster travel, and many additional services for extra cost. "As you know, there are some who do not see the Sandford Commerce Guild, or even my family, in a very positive light. It is lonely when everyone hates you, especially because you are a necessary evil so that they can live if they are poor, or enjoy comfort and convenience if they are wealthy," he confessed, opening up somewhat to Dianne. Well this was nothing unknown, but still he relented lightly from being all stiff and too formal.

"There is no major family that sticks out in the south, there are many. He may need to take many wives. Though the Guild is working on appeasing some of these tribes through trade arrangements," he answered. Marrying so many women may not work in the long run if they see it as some cheap attempt to bring stability. Hopefully the plans the Guild had at trying to work arrangements with some of the tribes could help end these hostilities that have apparently popped up. The Guild, much like the Grosvner family that ran it, didn't have outright power so it had to revert to wielding commerce as a means of influence and persuasion.

Though that was just one aspect of looking at the marriage dilemma, the other problem was the misfortune the women arranged to marry that man would be destined to endure for the remaining days of their lives. The last thing the world needed was more little de Jure offspring roaming around stirring the proverbial pot of shit soup. Nevertheless, the Bishop's attention was changed when the servant returned bearing refreshments. He would skip the biscuits, and go directly for the fruit and water. He signalled for the servant to pour him a goblet of water. He took the goblet away from the boy, thanking the servant and letting him know he could leave until called. He was a Grosvner after all, Ezra had some experience with how to handle eager servants.

"Don't wish me luck, wish my father and everyone else in the Guild some luck, and perhaps even the Duke of Aknatar himself," he replied, reaching for a perfectly ripe strawberry. He bit into the fruit, and let the fresh, sweet taste swish him his mouth, chewing, before consuming fully. This is a good strawberry. His eyes shot up with her next comment. "It was a business as usual, de Jure or no de Jure. People come and go, we don't care who it is as long as there is stability. Who knows, with people knowing it is Duke de Jure could make them sleep easier at night, knowing he is trying to bring order to these sands." The real question was if even The Butcher could install order in a region marked by years of defiance and independence?


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Dianne Astley
Posted: Jun 12 2012, 05:00 AM


Countess of Tardar
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Group: High Noble
Posts: 143
Member No.: 12
Joined: 21-April 11



Dianne smiled as Ezra commented on the disapproval of the Guild. She tooked a stray lock of pale blonde hair behind her ear.
"I hope your family is not wasting time on universal approval? Besides, most people do not know what is good for them."
Yes, how many people in this world actually knew what was good for them? How many wasted their lives fighting for something that was wrong? Dianne knew that she was not an exception. She had spent half of her life devoted to one of the most evil people in Tetel'ac, and risked everything to have an affair with a very unsuitable man. And now her whole world was turned upside down and she did not know what was right or wrong, just went from living one day to the next.
Dianne tilted her head curiously at Ezra's open statement.
"I have never thought of the Grosvners as being lonely."
She replied softly. Arrogant, greedy, impassioned, yes. Not lonely.
"You do not strike me as lonely, sir."
Dianne added, her smoke-coloured eyes seeking some acceptance or denial in his expression.
From the sound of it, there was plenty of work to be done before Aknatar was stable. Would it ever be so? And should it even be tamed? Dianne wondered all this, and also contemplated what her own position would be in the future of Aknatar and Tetel'ac. When she was wife to the King, and mother to his heirs, would her opinion count as anything? Or would Roland and the rest of court treat her like most noble ladies, there as decoration. It was a sore point indeed for a woman that had gotten everything due to her intelligence (and occassionally the use of her looks).
"Well, you will pass on my wishes to your family, sir."
Dianne almost said that she would personally pass on the message of good luck to Duke de Jure, but she wondered if she would even gain an audience with him now. Previously, he had been a dubious character in the shadows, and she had been a contact point with the Black Court and Black Widow. Now she was merely the King's mistress.


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Ezra Grosvner
Posted: Jun 13 2012, 12:49 PM


Bishop of Hoei
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Group: Clergy
Posts: 88
Member No.: 50
Joined: 25-July 11



"My father has never cared whether people approved or not, just whether they could offer the better deal," he replied, sort of stating the obvious. Isaiah was well known for his catchphrase, "make me an offer". He was a man who made deals, but he was honest to the fact that if a better opportunity came along he would take it. Success in business meant adapting to the times and circumstances. Perhaps for Ezra it was the morality, and the religion that most often bothered him, and he thought too much on such topics. His father had grown up in interesting times and seen much, while Ezra could say the same he had decided to take a path through the Church. Perhaps religion was good for one thing, it dictated what was black and white, even if most religious figures were shades of varying grey.

"Money attracts some of the worst company," he answered. Many conniving, lying, cheating types had tried to befriend him in hopes of getting some money. He saw through it, and so he was very careful in choosing his friends. He had seen a cousin of his murdered by the woman he married and her father, those two hoping to obtain some wealth, but only getting sentenced to death. Of course, others in his family enjoyed it, and Ezra certainly liked the comfort the money provided for him. He could not help but smile again. "I suppose I am not a lonely man when I am in the company of a lady so beautiful as thee," he almost crooned, making sure to bare his rather immaculate smile.

Ezra was not sure if Aknatar would ever be tamed, it seemed a fruitless endeavour that only cost money. Then again, he had a stake in this huge mess of a war. Wars required supplies, and the Guild had a massive operation of taking supplies in and out of Aknatar, or through the desert region. So there was much coin to profit from this war from anyone requesting supplies. Much of these profits went to the Guild, but the Grosvners received a significant portion of returns after liabilities were paid down, and so in a way it continued the lavish and comfortable lifestyle of this fortunate Bishop. His father had contributed some financial generosity to the War in Aknatar, as sign of goodwill to the King. Nevertheless, the King had refused to take loans from the Grosvner-Sandford bunch. Well the Kingdom was near broke, and Roland may have to suck up his pride eventually. Perhaps not, the mighty military leaders were not the best type of rulers when it came to finance and the economy.

"I will be glad to. I know my father would be honoured to entertain His Highness and you in Hanalei, or even share tea with you," he suggested. Well considering his father was the man who orchestrated the King's annulment, and pretty much allowed Dianne to be the beneficiary. If Roland went ahead and married her, she would be Queen. That would make his father at least a Queenmaker, even if the man would rather be Kingmaker.


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Dianne Astley
Posted: Jun 13 2012, 01:40 PM


Countess of Tardar
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Group: High Noble
Posts: 143
Member No.: 12
Joined: 21-April 11



Oh, Dianne knew better than most the questionable characters that cropped up. She had sifted through the many people that had sought an audience with the Duchess deGrada, all to get a taste of her power, to use it for their own gain. And out of the many, there had only been a few that had promised any return on the Duchess' investment of time and money. Dianne only hoped she'd used her own time well in learning how to discern the useful from the rabble.
At Ezra's compliment, she lowered her gaze and blushed lightly.
"You flatter me, sir."
She replied, a smile moving over her soft lips. She thought to say the cliche that she was but an average woman, but she didn't think she could keep a straight face. Her beauty may be finally starting to decline as she neared the age of thirty, but she was very aware that she still captured men's attention, and personally rated herself as beautiful. To deny it would merely insult both their intelligences.
Her grey eyes returned to Ezra curiously. She had not expected a Bishop to make even the slightest flirtatious comment. Hmm, had she overlooked the church-bound Grosvner too readily all those years ago when she was weighing up the interesting parties in Tetel'ac.
"You... are... not as I imagined you would be, Bishop Grosvner."
Dianne added, hesitant in her words, but her smile open and reassuring.
"No offence intended, I just always imagined a man so high in the church to be more... stuffy."
She confessed, laughing inwardly at the idea she should confess anything to this man. Was that the nature of his station, that he should incite the outpouring of truth from those he met?
Dianne smoothed down her skirt, and bit her lip as Ezra invited her to Hanalei. With the King. Was it really so obvious? Dianne was sure that only she and Roland knew that the engagement was official. She wondered if, when it became known that they were indeed to marry and that she would be Queen, would she be extended many more of these invitations. For now, this first one sent a delicious shiver up her spine.
"You are very kind."


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Ezra Grosvner
Posted: Jun 13 2012, 02:18 PM


Bishop of Hoei
Group Icon

Group: Clergy
Posts: 88
Member No.: 50
Joined: 25-July 11



Ezra was not aware of the previous employment of Lady Astley, only that she was the woman who held the King's affection. Perhaps he was just oblivious to the players and such in Court, and he never did care much to entertain ideas of working with the Black Court. Perhaps the love affair between King Roland and Lady Astley was another one of those worst kept secrets in Tetel'ac. The Bishop only smiled and nodded gently as she indicated her feeling of flattery. There was something entrancing to her fierce, strong blond locks of hair, and the colour of her eyes. He wondered if she was a freak in bed, he certainly liked some rough play.

Ezra had often been overlooked, not being the heir to his father, and going the road through the Church like many in his family before who never rose to significant lordships. He was still a young man who had moved up quite fast, pretty much because he was a Grosvner. He had to be about the same age as Dianne, she was probably a few years younger then him he had guessed by observing her. "Well I am sure, many think the Church is for men of older age, bad health, and terrible aesthetics," he commented, certainly relaying stereotypes. He let out a soft chuckle as she further explained on thinking he would be stuff. "Well that is certainly with merit, some of my colleagues are quite stuffy and boreish."

Some of the elders in the Church wished to continue as usual, but it was true the Church was not as powerful as it used to be, though it maintained a significant influence. They would need to adapt to relate to the younger generations, without compromising on the core values and principles. Father Ezra, as he was known throughout Kelyea, was quite popular among younger and even some older generations, he saw himself as a bridge to ease a divide. Though he was not a perfect man himself, he sinned like everyone else, and like most of his fellow colleagues on the Council of Bishops. He would gladly accept a confession, for he was bound by duty to honour the secrecy of such confessions.

"Sometimes a man needs to enjoy himself, and partake in the pleasures of life," he commented, allowing his eyes to gaze over the fair Lady Astley. The King lucked out in finding such a young, attractive girl. Did ol' King Rolly know how to treat such a treasure, he often wondered if sex with Rodani people was as boring as looking at rocks all day.

Well it was obvious of the King's affections, but otherwise Ezra just had inside information. The Church gave the annulment, and his father brokered the arrangement, so naturally Ezra was in the loop regarding the personal relationship of the King, Lady Danum, and of course Lady Astley. The Grosvners had the advantage of appearing to be the first supportive, significant family honouring the future Queen, so why not get on her good side? He blushed lightly, and nodded. "I am only so kind, as you are so gracious. No wonder A'er has blessed you with such beauty, for you are a beautiful soul and good deeds sow good fortune," he replied. The Bishop was a charmer, and he was very good at dishing out compliments. The lengths a man would go to please a woman, and perhaps get up her skirt too.


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