Snippet #2786982

located in Fódlan, a part of Fire Emblem: Apotheosis, one of the many universes on RPG.

Fódlan

A continent divided into three different factions: The Adrestian Empire, The Holy Kingdom of Faerghus, and the Leicester Alliance.

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mercer von Riegan Character Portrait: Sorcha Blaiddyd Character Portrait: Jeralt's Journal
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I.Y. 1180 - Verdant Rain Moon - Wednesday the 14th
Alliance Summit - Dawn - Windy
Mercer von Riegan


Mercer never understood why he got up so early. Even at the academy, he was up at least two or three hours before the sun was crossing the horizon, however; he supposed today was as good as any reason to be up. The conference wasn't supposed to start until a little after dawn, but as usual, Mercer decided to be the first one to arrive. At least that was his intention. When he'd approached the building the conference was to be held at, he'd noticed Matteo's charger, and a couple of his retainers standing by. Immediately he felt his face harden, and something lurched in his chest. He didn't like it. Didn't like Matteo or his claim on Sorcha.

It wasn't that he was jealous. Mercer von Riegan had never been a jealous man in his life, however; it pained him to see Sorcha so... upset. He valued all of his friends, and he wanted nothing but happiness for them. They deserved that, all of them. But Sorcha... she was different somehow. He wasn't lying to her when he told her that he'd want her. He thought she was a rather strong and brave individual. She would make a great Queen one day, or if she'd still have him by then, she'd make a great Lady of the Alliance. He quickly banished that thought, though. It wasn't as if he actually planned on marrying her. She was... well, far too good of a person for someone like him.

Quietly, he slipped past Matteo's retainers, and entered the building. Still polished like marble, and still just as flashy, he supposed, but when he heard voices, Mercer placed himself in a dark corner. He recognized one voice as Matteo's, but he couldn't exactly hear who the other person was. Alaric wouldn't be arriving until just before the summit was to begin. His friend, Duke Goneril, was like that, sometimes. He couldn't seem to keep track of time, and often showed up at the last minute to all of the important events.

“—did it go?" The second voice grew more distinct as the speaker approached. It belonged to Fiona, the captain of Matteo's knights and his younger sister. “I never saw her at the house?"

Matteo sighed in such a way that Mercer could almost feel him rolling his eyes. “No. I forget sometimes that the chivalrous type cling to their virtue like it means anything." He snorted. “Honestly, I don't know why she bothers. She should take what she can get while the getting's still good, and it's never going to be better."

Fiona snorted. “What, is she ugly or something? I can't imagine you marrying ugly, even if there might be a throne in it." That explained it—no doubt Matteo thought marrying an actual Princess upped his chances to secure the Gloucesters the top spot in the Conference, with or without Riegan approval. “Can you imagine you having an ugly child? Even with her Crest—ugh."

And then, of course, there was Faerghus's uncertain situation. With no Major Crest holder alive, there was a chance some child of Sorcha's could end up heir, even if she was never Queen.

“Ugly? No, not exactly. But she dresses like a commoner, and she's horrifically unfeminine. Maybe I'll be lucky and she'll hate parties. Better to go alone than with someone who can't even properly wear a gown." The footsteps drew closer, voices rising in volume; quite clearly, they believed themselves alone. “Though... maybe with a few months of scrubbing, all that mountain dirt will come out. I hear Faerghus women will do just about anything when you fuck them—I've always been interested to see for myself. I'm sure she's plenty pretty with nothing on."

Fiona barked a laugh. “You'll have to let me know. Maybe I'll steal her from you when you get bored. I'm much more charming than you, after all."

“Are you? I'd never noticed."

“Mhm. I have all the advantages of being a knight in shining armor and none of the disadvantages of being a man. So I smell better, for one."

Mercer had half a mind to stick an arrow in Matteo's throat, however; a hand placed itself on his shoulder, and immediately he whirled around. He blinked slowly when he recognized who it was. “He's not worth it, boy," Judith stated, causing him to furrow his brows. “Gloucester is an ass; we all know it, but don't let him rile you up before the conference. You need your head on straight if you're going to wipe the floor with him. You are planning to annul his engagement to Sorcha, are you not?" she asked, quirking her brow up in an amused fashion.

“Because I'd second it, and so will Goneril and Ordelia."

“You told them?" he shouldn't be surprised, really. Judith, while strong and pretty much a fierce warrior, she did like her drink. And she often let things slide without really thinking about it.

“Yep. Now come on, we have a conference to attend," she stated, pushing him towards the double doors where the literal round table was. Smoothing his face over, Mercer placed a rather mild grin on his face, glancing around the room to make a mental note of all the nobles around. Surprisingly, Alaric was there rather early, a rare smile on his face. For a brief moment, Mercer thought he knew the reason, and almost snickered to himself. He'd have to ask about it, later.

He spotted Duke von Edmund, a man with a sunken face and dark eyes. His hair was rather short, and a deep blue, which had become something of a noteable thing in the von Edmund household. Almost all of the heirs had it. Duke Edmund inclined his head towards Mercer, though, and Mercer returned it in kind. The next person he spotted was Lady von Ordelia. She looked rather miffed to be here, and he couldn't really blame her. Her hair was a rich chocolate brown color, and her eyes were a strange mix of colors. One was a rich emerald while the other a deep ruby color. She glanced towards Mercer, though, and narrowed her eyes. That was how she greeted everyone, though, and Mercer merely nodded in response.

And then there was Acheron. The poor old bastard, blonde hair parted down the middle with a strange curl to the ends. And to say nothing of his mustache. He almost looked too noble if Mercer had anything to say about it. He tried to seem more regal than he actually was, and Mercer had to put it down as the man had an inflated ego. He controlled lands to the north of the Airmid River, which were considered rather wealthy.

Once everyone had settled down, Mercer took a seat at the head of the table, where his grandfather usually sat. Judith took a seat to his left and Alaric was seated to his right. The small talk seemed to cease as he regarded everyone. “It has come to my attention that," he began, leaning back in his chair to get the conference started. He pressed his finger tips together, and held his hands in front of him as he regarded the nobles in the room.

“From my understanding, Lord Acheron and Duke Gloucester are having a bit of a dispute. Since the claim seems to be against you, Duke Gloucester, would you like to start us off by telling us what seems to be the problem?"

Matteo, seated almost directly across from Mercer, seemed to barely refrain from rolling his eyes, leaning back a little in his chair. His sister had taken a seat in the gallery. These meetings were technically open to other members of the peerage, though a short-notice one like this wasn't going to be well-attended. The regular sessions, though, often had a full gallery. Since everyone here knew what he was about, he'd rather dropped the facade he'd used around the others over the last couple of days, and adopted instead a coolly-polite demeanor that did little to conceal his almost reptilian coldness.

“Thank you, Lord Riegan," he said, wearing a subtle smile that spoke to his pleasure that Mercer was not yet a Duke himself. “As to the nature of the dispute, I fear it is the same one that House Acheron brings every few years against House Gloucester, and which is inevitably decided in our favor, as well it should be. The matter is the ownership of the land to the northwest of the Great Bridge of Myrddin, to the longitudinal mark of thirty-five. House Gloucester maintains, as it always has, that this land was deeded to us in the Alliance's founding charter, which is clearly a matter of public record."

At this, Acheron harrumphed, standing without invitation. He had no spot at the table, so perhaps he felt the need to command attention in a different way. “And the surveyor I hired has made it clear that your yeoman have begun farming at least three miles past that longitudinal mark, Gloucester! This is clearly an infringement on Acheron land, and some of our most valuable farmland at that!"

Matteo sighed. “Yes, the surveyor that you paid delivered the result you wanted. How very shocking."

Acheron's mouth twitched under his mustache, his face slowly turning a blotchy brick red in the face of Gloucester's measured indifference.

Mercer felt his expression shift, but he trained it back to one of indifference. “Wasn't this matter already settled two years ago? And you're bringing it back up?" Mercer wanted to run a hand down his face, frustrated as he felt, but knew better. Judith merely leaned in her seat, unimpressed by the display as she regarded Acheron and Matteo. Alaric, however, seemed rather neutral on the matter.

“The deeds to those lands northwest of the Myrddin Bridge belong to House Gloucester. The lands to the north of that, belong to Lord Acheron. The deeds were drawn and signed two years ago, but are you saying, Lord Acheron, that you have verifiable proof that Duke Gloucester has infringed upon that?" Alaric stated, his voice as passive as his expression seemed to be.

“I—yes!" Acheron replied, waving his hands in an emphatic gesture. “The survey results—"

“—Are completely meaningless without independent verification," Matteo finished, studying his fingernails dismissively. He couldn't have sounded more bored if he'd tried. “Which you well know. Stop wasting my time."

“You—you knave!" Acheron took a step forward. Several of the people in the room tensed, but Gloucester just stared him down. “We shall settle this like men! I challenge you to a duel. Let our blades and the Goddess' favor decide who is in the right!"

Gloucester did roll his eyes then, snorting audibly. “Calm yourself, Acheron. Killing old men is beneath me."

Mercer wanted to strangle both Acheron and Matteo. They were acting like children, at this point. And he was the youngest one at the table. Lady von Ordelia looked rather amused, though, as if everything was entertaining her, however; Duke von Edmund raised his hand as if to silence the commotion. All eyes were on him, now.

“This needs to be put to an end," he began, his voice raspy from wear, it seemed. He hardly spoke, after all, at the conferences held. “It shall be settled through battle," there was a tense gasp, though Mercer didn't know who it came from. Alaric breathed out slowly before he stood, calling everyone's attention to him.

“I agree with Duke von Edmund, however; it will not be a death battle. This will be settled with a mock battle. Should Duke Gloucester win, he will retain his lands, and Lord Acheron will cease, immediately, all current and future border claims. Should Lord Acheron win," his eyes glanced towards Acheron, narrowing lightly, “we will officially recognize the survey results."

That meant that Lord Acheron would inherit Duke Gloucesters lands, or at least parts of it. Mercer saw this as a win-win situation, really. Lord Acheron had a slightly stronger military presence than Gloucester, and that meant that victory would likely be in Acheron's favor.

“What say you?"

“This is ridiculous," Matteo protested, glaring at Alaric for suggesting it. “You know full well that Acheron brought his entire household guard to Derdriu. I, as the liege of several times his demesne, cannot afford to call the numbers to match them. Where do you propose my supplementary troops come from, hm?"

“Maybe you should have done the same," was Alaric's only response.

“You won't get any help from me," Lady von Ordelia finally spoke, crossing her arms over her chest. Mercer felt his lips quirk up slightly, however; Alaric didn't seem bothered by Matteo's glare. He just regarded the man with a flat stare before his eyes traveled to Duke von Edmund.

“I cannot spare any troops at the moment. We are currently dealing with skirmishes at our borders," he spoke as if sensing Alaric's silent question. Finally, his eyes landed on Mercer. Mercer pursed his lips, though. There was no way he was going to help Gloucester out, however; this was a perfect opportunity.

“I'll help on one condition," he stated, glancing at Matteo. “I'll help on the condition that you recognize my engagement claim on Princess Sorcha that was made years ago when we were children, and nullify yours. She bears my engagement jewel as proof, and you all saw her wearing it when we arrived," he stated, waiting for the reaction he knew Matteo was going to give.

“Your what?" Matteo's expression shifted from annoyed to livid in the space of a second. Mercer could almost see him making the calculation—whether conceding the one was worth the help on the other or not. Clearly, he either believed he could defeat Acheron anyway or he was willing to give three miles of land for his pride, because he sneered at Mercer and shook his head. “Absolutely not. I refuse. That arrangement was made between myself and the King-Regent; the legitimacy of that agreement clearly trumps whatever archaic custom you refer to."

“You will watch your tone, Duke Gloucester," Judith spoke, leaning a fist on the table. “The archaic custom you refer to is Almyran, and it is recognized in the Alliance. I, for one, second Lord Riegan's claim. The King-Regent has been sent a message about it, and it'll be a matter of days when he responds. And whose agreement do you think he'll agree to?" she continued, her eyes narrowed.

“I back Lord Riegan's claim as well. As the next Alliance Leader, it is only fitting that Princess Sorcha become his intended. Their arrangement was made before King-Regent made his with you. That would mean King Lambert made it as well, and we honor the late king, not the current regent." Alaric spoke as if it were a natural conclusion. Mercer felt his lips twitch upward just slightly.

“I, too, back Lord Riegan's claim. As Lady Judith said, we recognize all traditions, including Almyra's. If what Lord Riegan says is true, then we have no other choice than to honor it, and dissolve your engagement to the princess." Lady Ordelia seemed rather pleased by the turn of events, but Mercer recognized it by the gleam in her eyes, and not the passive expression on her face.

“All in favor?" Alaric spoke. Judith immediately raised her hand, followed by Alaric and Ordelia.

Matteo was clearly struggling to maintain his composure. “And what of the Princess herself?" he asked, clearly seeking to either delay or circumvent the vote with an argument. Edmund had not yet decided against him, after all—there was still opportunity to change minds. “Should she not be consulted in such matters? If it is her preference to—"

“My preference to what?" The new voice came from behind Mercer; he recognized it immediately as belonging to Sorcha, but he certainly hadn't asked her to be here for this.

She stepped out of the doorway, heeled boots clicking on the stone floor of the Conference room. At some point she'd been outfitted in one of the Almyran-style tunics that had caught on in parts of the Alliance—three-quarter-sleeved and heavily embroidered, hers was a pale, robins' egg blue with green and gold stitching, fitted close to her body and worn over dark riding trousers. The gem hung outside the tunic, right against her sternum.

Approaching the table, Sorcha bowed respectfully to the five at the table, and then again to Judith and the other peers in the gallery. “Please excuse my intrusion—I was only just informed that the conference had begun. If it is impermissible for me to speak, I would request a seat in the gallery, if I might be allowed one."

Edmund, seemingly impressed by her respect, inclined his head. “As it is your opinion now at issue, please, give it. We are all interested to know. Do you accept Lord Riegan's assertion that the two of you were previously engaged, or recognize Duke Gloucester's suit? Have you intentionally contrived this?" His tone wasn't quite accusatory; it wasn't an invalid question. It could look like a move on the Kingdom's part to destabilize politics in the Alliance, from a certain angle.

“Not intentionally, Your Grace," Sorcha replied softly, folding her hands together in front of her. “My lord uncle, the King-Regent, was not aware of my particular circumstances. Nor was I, in fact, until recently, due to my ignorance of Almyran customs. I fear my oversight has caused undue strife."

Matteo straightened in his chair, trying to regain some of the composure with which he'd appeared in front of her before. “Surely, Your Highness, you cannot mean to legitimize such a thing. As you said, you were unaware of the meaning of your actions." He smiled, but the charm in it was thin, strained.

Sorcha's answering smile, by contrast, was as warm and effortless as summer sunshine. “And yet those actions were mine," she said simply, “and in taking them I promised myself to Lord Riegan. The people of Faerghus honor their promises. You have my apologies for the misunderstanding, Duke Gloucester. I am sincerely sorry for any inconvenience I caused you. I hope at least that this has left you... freer, to pursue that which your heart most desires."

He could hardly say anything to that without looking even more the ass than he usually did.

Duke Edmund cleared his throat. “I add my vote to those of the others. Her Highness has made her stance on the matter clear. Her respect for our customs and inclination to honor her own commitments are respectable traits."

Mercer was extremely proud of Sorcha at the moment. He knew his mother had something to do with why she was here, but he was glad that she was. At least now they could see what he saw in her. He grinned at her, not bothering to keep his facade up. Why should he when he'd just beat Matteo? In more ways than one. If he'd accepted his proposal, earlier, then Matteo would have the help he would need against Lord Acheron in the mock battle, however; he would have no help, now.

“Then it is settled; all votes are in favor of Princess Sorcha being recognized as Lord Riegan's intended. Duke Gloucester no longer holds claim. Lord Riegan and Princess Sorcha will fulfill their engagement when Lord Riegan ascends his role as Duke von Riegan. Use this time wisely to grow closer," Alaric spoke, directing the last statement at Mercer and Sorcha. Mercer wanted to roll his eyes, but he refrained.

“If that is all, there is a land dispute and mock battle to be taken care of," Alaric continued, earning a light huff from Lady von Ordelia. “Lord Acheron and Duke Gloucester may settle this now, or decide on a date for their mock battle."

“Now's as good a time as any," Matteo growled, glaring at Sorcha with a poisonous heat and grabbing his lance. “Let's go, Acheron. We'll see if there's enough life in your body to survive even a false battle."

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