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Navarre Ardelean

Neighboring prince

0 · 250 views · located in The Kingdom Of Varinka

a character in “A Chaotic Arrangement!!!”, as played by stealthpanther

Description

Name: Navarre Ardelean

Gender: Male

Age: 24

Appearance:
Image

So begins...

Navarre Ardelean's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robin Grey Character Portrait: Sera Lillian Hawkhall Character Portrait: Kezia Hawkhall Character Portrait: Navarre Ardelean

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The Carriage carrying the Two Countesses Of Hawkhall, sometimes known as the Sister Countesses Of Varinka, rolled along as the elder of the two, Lady Sera Lillian, adjusted her black veil to only keep her eyes visible. She did not want to put on an air of nervousness. And why would she be? The King had put an end to her father’s feud with Ardelean the best way possible, by showing force and then finesse.

By arranging a peace by marriage. Her to Prince Navarre. But her father, as she recalled, wanted both his daughters wed. So came the... factor that seemed both scandalous yet brilliant. One of The King’s hired soldiers was in fact his Illegitimate cousin and therefore the only child of the Queen Mother’s Brother, the Late Earl Of Fallvale. Which made this Robin Grey, or whoever he was called, a very possible profitable match for her dear sister.

“Now Kezia, remember to try and be on your best behavior, and do try to get along with your fiancé.” She instructed. “I will endeavor to do the same thing with Prince Navarre. I’m sure given time you’ll like him. Plus the King did put the ‘neutral’ ground on what you and your husband to be hope to gain from this.” As Sera finished this statement, the carriage rolled up to the entry courtyard of where the courtship and evolving relations would take place by order of the king:

Castle Deepwolf in Fallvale.

———

Robin Grey was more flustered at his cousin’s proposal more then anything. This was literally putting him in hot water. But given that he had no legitimate Siblings to legally take control of his Father’s estate, he was hooked. Having arrived in Deepwolf earlier near the crack of dawn, he barely had time to unpack what little possessions he did have. There was a knock on his door. “What is it?”

A servant opened the door. “Captain Grey-Erm...Lord Earl, um..”

“Just Call me Robin for now mate.” He said as he resumed his shaving with his dagger. “Now What was the disturbance about?”

“They are arriving, The Ladies Of Hawkhall and Prince Navarre Aderlean.” Robin narrowed his eyes at the statement but wrapped up his shaving routine and cleaned his face.

“Time to go meet and greet and...try to make a decent impression.” Robin muttered as he began putting on what he felt was his formal attire, it being his armor before walking out of the bedroom and towards the main hall, where he’d wait their arrival.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robin Grey Character Portrait: Sera Lillian Hawkhall Character Portrait: Kezia Hawkhall Character Portrait: Navarre Ardelean

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Kezia bit her lip, eyes narrowing in displeasure behind her own dark veil at her dear sister's soft reminder. It took incredible restraint to refrain from pouting, and she nearly cut her lip from biting so hard. Holding her tongue was not something she did when in private with her sister, and she had originally feared saying anything on the way over would make the journey worse. Alas, it seemed she would have to let out her tirade now lest she lose her composure once back in the view of the world.

"But it's not fair!" she began at last, daring to allow a whine into her voice when alone in her sister's company. "They started all this shameless squabbling. And now this brutish king is forcing father to marry us off for the sake of some treaty! How do we know they'll even keep their end?" she began, folding her arms across her chest and letting out a huff. "Besides..." she added, voice slightly softer now. "Why do you get a prince? And I some bastard cousin of the king?" Kezia pouted for real this time, only to lower her head, feeling bad for snapping at Sera. She loved her sister, and she wasn't really upset at her marrying higher (at least not mainly). It was easier to be jealous than to really admit what was wrong.
"I wanted to have some say in who I'd be married to..." she murmured softly, trying not to sound pathetic. She had always been a romantic at heart, and had actually developed a crush on a soldier under her father's command. Not of course, that she dared say such to the soldier, or her parents.

All too soon, she felt the carriage stop, and the younger countess of Varinka hurried to fix herself, losing the pout and dabbing a single frustrated tear away. How on earth had she let that slip?

--------

The ladies carriage had yet to arrive.

Navarre waited a moment in his carriage, letting out a sigh at the tediousness of it all. He had to travel all the way out here to meet his betrothed (king's idea, not his), a political marriage, obviously. He had assumed he'd one day have to surrender to duty and custom, but he had at least hoped to have a little more time. Though, even he could admit he was well into the age when young nobles courted or married.

Not, of course, that that would make him any likelier to become king.
It was an odd feeling. One the one hand, he was more than just a little pissed off that he couldn't decide how things should go- he had good ideas too! And as a youth, he had envisioned himself and his brother side by side ruling a grand kingdom as the most successful and glorious monarchs in history.

But now, not only would such childhood whimsy's never come to pass, he was also never going to be king. He'd be prince forever. And sure, he did feel some relief at not being the one with all the responsibility (after all, who had the time?), but it was still not right. Just because he came out five minutes after his twin.

But the most insulting part?

Here he was, being used as a pawn in some treaty- along with his bastard cousin! Damn he wanted to punch that stupid king in his face sometimes!

With another sigh, he stepped out and awaited the arrival of the women, vaguely wondering if they would have their father or attendants accompanying them, or would the damsels be trusted on their own? He could only hope and pray his bride to be wasn't some simpering idiot.

He hated court ladies. And simpering idiots.

Upon getting out, Navarre caught sight of one Robin Grey. The illegitimate child who would one day be Earl. And the man couldn't even find anything to wear besides armor? Heaven help them all.
Navarre stood a foot apart from his cousin, barely acknowledging the man as he waited for the countesses.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robin Grey Character Portrait: Sera Lillian Hawkhall Character Portrait: Kezia Hawkhall Character Portrait: Navarre Ardelean

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Robin said nothing as well, knowing he felt out of place and out of style. Compared to the more impressive (yet slightly more intimidating) cousin and therefore Brother to the King, the Mercenary felt inadequate already. ”I’d have changed if I bloody knew what sort of fashion They’d be wearing.. But they don’t even have clothes my size yet!” he thought as he watched another approaching carriage.

Inside said carriage Sera listened to her sister’s rage. “I know, I wish I had a say in who I’d marry too. But apparently the Young King is still in mourning and not in a marrying mood. So I will settle with Lord Navarre if I must. But that doesn’t mean I can’t make sure he knows who he’s marrying.” She said in reassurance, “And as I recall this ‘Bastard’ is a cunning warrior. One of questionable reputation as he sold his services left and right throughout the end of the feud before the Young King discovered him.”

The carriage stopped. “Dry your eyes sister. We have onlookers outside the carriage.” She says as she prepared to exit when the door opened.

———

Robin observed as Countess Sera Lillian Hawkhall was the first to emerge. She approached calmly as she eyed the men in front of her, and refrained from laughing at the Soon to Be Earl’s lack of formal wear, but the armor would give him some points for being honest, as she was sure any other clothing would accidentally mistake him for servant.

But she paid Robin no mind on his fashion sense, and instead looked to the one eyed twin of the King and curtsied. “My Lord, it is an honor to meet you face to face. My greetings are also extended to the Lord of the Manor as well.” She says this as she turned and curtsied to Robin, who surprisingly bowed back in return.

Serve a few lords and you do pick up on how some of their manners work. “I bid you and your sister welcome milady.” Robin replied as he turned to bow towards Kezia, and nearly froze at the sight of her beauty. He ensured he’d bow and then straighten his back in his standing. “I humbly bid you welcome Lady Kezia.”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robin Grey Character Portrait: Sera Lillian Hawkhall Character Portrait: Kezia Hawkhall Character Portrait: Navarre Ardelean

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For a moment, Kezia frowned even deeper at her sister's words. Sh had half a mind to roll her eyes; like this warrior's history was supposed to make her feel better about all this. If anything, she felt worse, inwardly bemoaing her rotten luck at being wed to some brutish, morally doubtious fighter. He wasn't a true soldier...not like sir Malchior.

As the carriage stopped, the younng woman shook her head at Sera, further upset that her sibling thought she was crying. A single tear was not crying! "I'm fine, sister." She assured Sera, hitching up the skirt of her dress as she prepaared to exit.

The two men to greet them were not quite how she imagined, though she was at least very clearly able to tell them apart. The prince regeant had an eye patch and an almost bored expression on his face. The other male, by contrast, was dressed in some armor (and much more decent looking attire than she would have guessed for a mercenary, he could almost pass for a real soldier). He was also not as she pictured- with a shaved face and bright blue eyes, as well as dark hair (a personal preference of hers, and the only thing that Sir Malchior didn't have). Both the prince and the ruffian had fetching features if she were to be honest, silently appraising them as she followed her sister. And despite the stories, the one dressed to imitate a proper soldier didn't look paticularly threatening Though of course, this was obviously just for show. The rumors made it quite clear he was a dishonorable scoundrel who fought for money instead of honor.

After her sister began the introductions, Kezia dipped into a proper curtsy, only meeting the eyes of her betrothed to be as he greeted her. His bow was correct at least, and he was certainly able to act. She was silent a moment before finally allowing him an answer. "Thank you sire. We appreciate your hospitality."

--

Navarre offered a bow of his own once the ladies had presented themselves, his visible eye surveying all around him and appraising them himself. They were assuredly lovely young things, the elder one's beauty more to his liking than her sibling. Something about her eyes and her face was more appealing, and she seemed to have more geentle face of the two. He just hoped that wasn't all she would be bringing to the table.

His cousin managed to greet the arriving ladies properly, for which the prince was glad- he really didn't want to be stuck standing near and being associated with some clueless twit. However, his calm expression didn't last long, the man feeling a growing headache (and with it, a growing concern that he was going to be dealing with pretty, but empty headed court ladies)

Navarre arched a brow slightly, before it curved down slightly in disapproval. This countess was either extremely bold and arrogant, or she was foolish. He wasn't sure which was worse. He inwardly sighed, gracing the countess Sera with an admonishing shake of his head. "My lady, surely you are aware of who I am? I presume you know common manners. " he began, folding his arms behind his back, giving her a pointed look. "You are quite bold indeed to address a crown prince so casually....I am 'your highness'" Navarre took a few pacing steps around his betrothed, eyes boring into her. "Surely you wouldn't think to address the king so informally? You are aware he is 'Majesty', aren't you? It'd do well for you to mind your tongue, especially when you do meet him."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robin Grey Character Portrait: Sera Lillian Hawkhall Character Portrait: Kezia Hawkhall Character Portrait: Navarre Ardelean

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Robin’s gaze lingered for yet a moment on the countess Kezia. She finished her greeting and he only nodded in reply. He recalled how his mother taught him to behave around women. Partially he was glad he took a shave today, as surely it helped.

When he heard Navarre speak to Sera, his mind grew quite... unnerved. ”Seriously Navarre? Over one slip up? You’re poking a lioness if Sera’s reputation is if anything not scoffed at.” he thought. ”I’m the one that has to worry about not behaving like an idiot, not you Cousin!”

He thought to try and rectify the situation, when Sera took it in her own hands. “I meant no offense and I assure you this your highness, I adressed you first as my Betrothed according to custom.” She spoke an even, formal tone. “As for meeting your brother, His Majesty, You’d recall as Countess Of Hawkhall I was there when His Majesty proposed this peace. But as for ‘minding tongues’, then I expect you do the same to me. If your way of greeting your wife to be is scolding the way she greets you, then no doubt you are worthy of the title ‘highness’.”

“Well, hate to break up this, ‘lovely banter’ you’re having with the Countess your highness, but it’s best if we enter indoors if such banter persists.” Robin said, gesturing towards the open entrance before calling out, “Gaston!” The servant who greeted him earlier before their arrival appeared almost immediately at the call.

“Yes Captain?” The servant addressed him using the rank often associated with Robin.

“Have our guests’ luggage brought to their quarters. You know which guest wings to put them in.” He said firmly, with a tone mostly heard when he gave instructions, he then looked at the sun for a moment, as if to memorize its position before turning to the three. “You’ll be in as follows, His Highness will be in the east wing of the house, Lady Sera will be in the South wing. Both wings will have a guest chamber in each for if one or the other wishes to spend time with their Betrothed.” Turning to Kezia he heaved a sigh. “Lady Kezia, You will be in the West wing. I myself will be in the Northernmost wing, the same situations if guest room accommodations apply.”

”Nicely Done me. Took me nearly all day yesterday to study the layout and memorize the orders the King gave for the living situation.” he thought as he still kept a somewhat neutral smile trying hard not to show how nervous, and presumably how much a fish out of water he was.

“I hope we will all enjoy our time here in Castle Deepwolf.” He finished. He just hope some good came out of this chaotic arrangement.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robin Grey Character Portrait: Sera Lillian Hawkhall Character Portrait: Kezia Hawkhall Character Portrait: Navarre Ardelean

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Navarre's brows furrowed as the countess thought to berate him! Such nerve for a young woman! He was more than happy to meet people with more than fluff in their heads, and it was all fine and dandy for others to have their own thoughts and opinions. But Countess Sera was acting mighty casual for a respectable lady meeting her betrothed for the first time. They weren't even wed and she thought they were on equal footing already? He had half a mind to curse, especially as she did stir up a minute sensation of foolishness at forgettig he had in fact seen her from the sidelines upon her and her father's audience with the king. He wasn't about to admit he han't paid attention at the time, too busy fuming after a fight with his brother. It was a shame, as the two never used to fight (simple boyish banter was as far as it used to go), but eventually his childhood fancy of the two of them being joint kings was replaced by reality. Then things began to become tense.

However, that was not the issue of the moment! He was being countered by his betrothed, and further insulted by having his bastard cousin butt in and try to imply they were all going to have a grand old time! Not a care in the world! The prince scowled at the mercenary, but turned to head inside. It was getting dark anyway. However. He was not about to let the countess Sera look down upon him. And she had even delivered a jab at his good character!

"Perhaps that is your meaning, but we are merely betrothed. We do not yet have such familiarity, as we have just officially met. Surely we are not so intimately involved that you think it proper to address me so informal? Particularly in public? After all, countess, I don't neglect to address you as is proper. Even I address my own flesh and blood by his title, as it is considered conveying respect for the other, is it not?" His voice was cool and clipped, and he leaned forward towars the fair lady he was supposed to soon marry. His eye bored into her for a lingering moment, before turning his back on her, heading for his quarters. "I shall see you at dinner my lady Sera. Do see yourself settled."

--
Kezia smiled at her sister, thinking it rather ironic that her older, better- mannered sister was the one causing trouble already (especially considering how she had been reminded to mind her own manners on the ride over!) Even so, she wasn't overly surprised. Just because Sera was usually polite, well mannered, and gentle, it didn't mean she didn't have a strong side. The older countess did have standards after all (as Kezia herself mos assuredly did, though Sera's were all meaningful and reasonable standards.) It took considerable restraint not to scowl at the prince, who, despite his looks, seemed rather rude. Was this family full of fine looking, but disagreeable men?

Speaking of the men,she glanced back over as a strong voice commanded a servant to transport their belongings, momentarily surprised that it came from the mercenary. She watched quietly as the servant Gaston spoke with his master, calling him 'captain' of all things. 'Surely you can't address a mere soldier for hire by such an accomplished title as 'captain?' she thought to herself, almost feeling bad for the servant. It was a shame he had to serve this man instead of being a trusty squire besides a real knight. She wondered if such things bothered Gaston (though she'd be surprised if they didn't).

The arrangements made her pause, feeling a little less than enthused. Thankfully it sounded like each of them had their own wing, and thus, a suite of rooms. But how far would that put her from Sera? Kezia had thought they'd be able to be close until later on. She didn't even know if the king and his family would honor their end of the treaty or not yet! Kezia hurried to stand beside Sera, not eager to be alone in such a foreign castle yet.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robin Grey Character Portrait: Sera Lillian Hawkhall Character Portrait: Kezia Hawkhall Character Portrait: Navarre Ardelean

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Sera held firm through Navarre’s retort before he took his leave. “I look forward to it, Prince.” She said, with a small grin. When she knew he had gone off she heaved a great sigh. “Well that was rather charming matching wits with the Prince.”

Robin almost looked aghast and almost felt tempted to call his cousin an Arsehole. But he knew he was still in the countesses’ presence, so he bit his tongue a bit. He had a bad feeling he’d lose hatever impression he got from Kezia’s first glance of him. He looked and saw her being uneasy, and assumed if anything, it was about how Kezia had her own wing and not shared one with her sister.

“What a shame. Navarre didn’t stay long enough to hear about the connecting hallways that makes navigating the different wings faster.” He said out loud so the sisters could hear him. “Like the one connecting west and south wings. So if there was any worry about that, be alleviated of that worry.”

”I took pains to explore the hallways. I almost got myself lost!!” he thought.

“We’ll keep that in mind Lord Earl Grey.” Sera states, making Gaston slightly chuckle. Obviously the play on words was not lost to the servant.

“She got you there Cap!” Gaston said between laughs as Robin kept a neutral face.

“Just ensure their bags are inside...”

“Already taken care of.” The servant interrupted as he gestures to a group of servants walking and carrying the luggage of each carriage. “Anything else Sir or shall I see to dinner preparations? I’m sure Larry is cooking up a special buffet of sorts to satisfy every appetite.”

“Check on Larry. I know he’s a good cook I just want to make sure the kitchen isn’t a mess.” Robin replied, walking to a chair near a fireplace and slumping into it.

”Or worse...” he thought, as he heaved a big “Phew! Good grief. It’s not even a full day and I feel like I fought Ol’ Ryni sixty times...” he muttered to himself.

“Well sister? Shall we explore our rooms, or shall I leave you to try and get to know your Betrothed?” Sera asked still wearing her smile. She knew Kezia had to choose one or the other. She just hoped she chooses wisely. But in the end, Sera figured out at least one possible thing about Kezia’s betrothed.

Robin Grey, for a common Mercenary, seemed to have a good heart.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robin Grey Character Portrait: Sera Lillian Hawkhall Character Portrait: Kezia Hawkhall Character Portrait: Navarre Ardelean

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The prince didn't even bother to glance behind him or otherwise aknowledge the older countess. He ignored the servants as well, merely nodding if they greeted him. He passed the foyer, then headed up the stairs towards the east wing and thus, his quarters. It was only upon closing the door behind him and being away from any prying eyes that Navarre let out a sigh, sinking into a chair and running a hand through his hair. He really didn't want to be here.

A sharp woman was a rare find indeed, and paired with a pretty face, it was a perfect combination, and thus, the type of woman he could see himself choosing as a bride.
But how much of this was show?

The prince scowled, recalling days of old when he gladly socialized and was a perfect gentlman to all manner of folk, especially ladies. Part of him almost missed his naivete, thinking he was befriending people and being a ruler his people could be proud of.

But all those pretty words and declarations of friendship were lies...

People didn't actually like him for him. They liked what he and his brother could do for them. They liked being cozy with those of good standing. Being liked by those in power. Advancement was the name of the game, and anyone who had any prestige or link to the upper class wanted in. For him and his brother, people flocked to them for anything but a genuine love for the individuals they were. It was why the distance between the two bothered him so damn much.
All those swooning noblewomen looking to land a pince (or king) and become part of the ruling class. All the noblemen wanting better positions and money. He was well aware that political marriages were rather common, and it was a method that worked well for expanding their lineage as well as securing good relations. But why did HE have to be the sacrificial lamb, pawned off to some countess who would most assuredly have no reason to see him as Navarre the man, not Navarre the prince?

Fine. He'd play his part, but he wasn't happy about the whole thing.

--

Kezia vaguely wondeereed what on earth was going on with the mercenary; he was poised and proper, but for a moment, his expression looked as if it would falter in place of something else. But the awkward shift in his body language was reversed as quickly as it came, and the young woman dcided she was simply imagining it. Keeping close to Sera, her eyes scanned her surroundings with supressed interest. The castle was rather nice, and admittedly more impressive than their own estates.

The countess's gaze turned towards their host at his pointed revelation, feeling some of the tension leaving her body. So she'd be able to meet with her sister and convene with her? That was a welcome feature, and a smile broke out a the thought.
Before she could decide whether to voice her gratitude, Sera delivered a lovely nugget of wit in the form of a pun, and Kezia inadvertently let out a giggle in spite of herself. Sera always knew how to make her laugh.

The servants seemed at ease with their master, and spoke so casually to him that it surprised the young noble. And they called him 'captain' again. But why? If he wasn't a real soldier, how could he be called captain? It was all so bizzare to her. And as he continued to chat in a relaxed manner to his servants, Kezia puzzled between this warrior's dmeanor and what he was really like. Was he cold and callous on a battlefield? Was he indifferent? Did he feel any shame at selling his sword to the highest bidder? (Though, she supposed this was unlikely, given his profession). And furthermore...what was he muttering about?

Before she could wonder about his cook and the implied mess, Sera's voice met her ears, and at once stole her attention away. For a second, Kezia pondered her options. While she had agreed to behave and try to get along, she wasn't sure she wanted to be alone in the same room with a mercenary.
"I am ready to check our accommodations." She said with a smile.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robin Grey Character Portrait: Sera Lillian Hawkhall Character Portrait: Kezia Hawkhall Character Portrait: Navarre Ardelean

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Sera nodded. “To my wing first then.” She said as she lead her sister towards the South Wing of the Castle. Robin watched with a sapphire gaze as he heaved an even bigger sigh when they were out of sight.

“By the gods and all the dragons I can name. I thought I’d die of embarrassment.” He said to himself. He looked at his armor, the Remnant of not only his time as a Mercenary, but the metals and styling of the homeland of his mother.

His Father. He clenched a fist at the thought of him. He never met the womanizing predecessor to the title Earl of Fallvale. It was certain however that if he ever did met him prior to his demise, he’d not acknowledge him as father. He had no father growing up. So what was the use of having one now?

He frowned deeply before shaking his head. He had to deal with whatever this situation dealt to him. “Best case scenario, I get married and keep the title. Worst case, I don’t and the buffer between Varinka and the Northern wild-lands is lost with no Earl and I just remain a merc.” He’d live with either consequence, but the King and Navarre would probably have a heart attack at the worst case.

“Captain! Supper’s production is stymied! Larry couldn’t find the Valsirian honey-” A maid said in a panic as Robin held up his hand.

“On the Second shelf to the right. I thought I organized them the way he liked it.” He said. “Oh and Teresa? How’s Karin?”

“She’s doing well, she should be dusting some pictures on the south wing.” The maid said.

“As long as your younger sister is dealing isn’t dealing with anything stressful then, that’s fine. You may continue your duties.” He said calmly.

———

As Sera walked in the south wing with her sister in tow, she looked around at how it appeared the hallway was being thoroughly dusted by one maid who seemed absorbed in her work. “Hm, I’ll say this much, the Lord Earl’s staff is very dedicated.” The older countess noted to Kezia. The sudden noise seemed to alert the maid of her presence causing her to almost yelp in surprise and drop her duster. “Oh oh, I’m sorry dear, we didn’t mean to startle you.”

“It’s alright... its my first day working without my sister’s guidance.” The maid replied meekly. “I’m trying hard not to disappoint her.”

“Well you’re doing splendidly. Keep up the good work. Which way to the main bedchamber?” Sera Asked with a smile.

“Down the hall last door at the end Miladies.” The maid replied.

“Thank you. Come Kezia.” She said walking down to the door in question and opened it, and marveled at the almost extravagant look. “My goodness, Deepwolf Castle has some surprises in its designs. The First Earl of Fallvale must’ve been some mad genius. I wonder if all the other wings are designed in this way.”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robin Grey Character Portrait: Sera Lillian Hawkhall Character Portrait: Kezia Hawkhall Character Portrait: Navarre Ardelean

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Kezia was all too happy to oblige her sister, and followed without hesitation. For a moment, she had half a mind to glance back towards her betrothed, but the thought passed as quickly as it came. Besds, sh was ather curious to see the accommodations they had been provided with. Furthermore, she didn't have any intention of letting anyone besides her sister know what was going on in her mind.

The younger countess didn't notice the maid until she was pointed out by Sera, too occupied with various paintings along the way (as well as the general decor). The servants certainly did seem attentive here, and she was about to say as much when the current object of discussion nearly lost her composure. Not as experienced a servant then. Kezia tilted her head slightly, watching the apparently newly unsupervised maid timidly reply. Poor thing seemed a bit anxious. Probably a good thing she wasn't in charrge of delicates or dishes.

Kezia turned to her sister, this time with a slight pout upon her lips. She loved Sera dearly, but sometimes (such as right now), she almost felt as though she were being treated like a child. It was tolerable when father did it. When Sera spoke in a way that woounded her pride, it irked her a lot more. She didn't need to be told to come like a lost puppy or a wandering toddler! It was hard to remind herself that Sera (most likely) dd not mean her words to sound as such. Even so, it didn't make the pout fully vanish.

Thankfully, they reached the main bedchambers in the south wing before she could contemplate fussing about the unintended insult. Letting out a sof 'oh', the younger countess scanned the room before her in slight awe. This mercenary did come from wealthy blood it seemed. The castle was lavish indeed, and admittedly far cozier than ther own estates. If this was an Earl's castle, how extravagant and grand was the prince's palace? While Kezia and her sister had been spoiled by their own family, this was beyond even her standards. "It's even nicer than father's chambers..." she mused

---------

About twenty minutes had passed since the guests' arrival, and all manner of smels wafted from the kitchens as servants set the dining room to perfection. One gave the silverware and the glasses one last shine, one arranged a vase of fresh flowers from the castle gardens, and another adjusted the linens ever so slightly, checking for wrinkles.

In the kitchen, platters were being arranged in the order they would go out (with almost finished items waiting and still not yet done, ensuring they were delivered as fresh as possible) There was a bisque, fresh baked bread, a salad, roast boar an quail eggs. There was stuffed squash, herbed potatoes annd a rich gravy. Fruit tarts and a mousse were in he making for dessert.

At last, one of the manservants approached Robin with a bow, smiling behind a slight mop of brown hair that he could never seem to tame. "Dinner is about to be served, my lord. Shall I fetch the guests, or would you and his highness prefer to escort your brides to be?" Gavin asked, perfectly fine with watever the master decided. After all, he much preffered the new Earl to his shameless and womanizing late father. He had yet to say as much, not wanting to be seen as a suck up. He may have been passed over for the position as butler by the late earl, but that didn't mean he wanted to gain it for anything less than his work and his honor.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robin Grey Character Portrait: Sera Lillian Hawkhall Character Portrait: Kezia Hawkhall Character Portrait: Navarre Ardelean

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“They must’ve made sure they had it cleaned and decorated for impressions sake.” Sera Agreed. “I hope your room is just as impressive. Now then, let’s pick out what to wear for supper’s sake and get these formal veils off, no need to stain them with whatever the cooks here prepare for us.”

With that, Sera spent the next twenty minutes preparing for dinner.
———

“Ah, Gavin was it? Just who I wanted to speak to.” Robin asked the Servant as he looked at the more nicer clothing he actually had, which consisted of a plain blue shirt and dark black pants. It was no noble’s Garment but it’ll have to do for supper’s sake. Plus it was easier to wash clothing of this kind. Not that he’d expect a food fight naturally. “Not sure what Navarre wants to do, but for the first day as we are all partially still strangers, I’d recommend fetching them.”

He then turned to look at the servant. “How do I look? Decent? Now for a more personal question, walk with me while we talk. As you were in my... ‘Father’s’ service, you’d know how to help run the manor and manage the new help I brought along. So I want your honest opinion. Think I can count on you for helping me run this madhouse as my butler?” As He asked this he walked down the hallway and downstairs into the dining hall past the center doors in the lobby area. “I’m asking because I hear from the King, my cousin you had to put up with my ‘father’s’ skirt chasin. Plus you look honest.”

He wafted in the scent of the food and looked at the delicacies before him in the dining room. “Larry you’ve outdone yourself.” He said to himself as he took a seat at where the placement marked his, which was, as lord of the Manor, at one end of the table. There he sat and waited.

Within a few minutes, Sera emerged into the dining hall wearing a blue dress. “Greetings Lord Earl. My sister will be along shortly, has his Highness arrived yet?”

“No, not yet milady.” Robin replied with a neutral grin.

”Crap, Im alone with the social butterfly of the two. Is Navarre even coming?!” he thought to himself. ”I hope this dinner is a good hit-off for everyone but that’s wishful thinking. I don’t even know what Kezia thinks of me. I just hope she’s slightly impressed by some of the furnishings my uncle (Mum’s Brother) gave me that was from his own successes as a Merc.”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robin Grey Character Portrait: Sera Lillian Hawkhall Character Portrait: Kezia Hawkhall Character Portrait: Navarre Ardelean

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Kezia nodded, smiling as her sister pinpointed her own thoughts exactly. She did certainly hope her quarters were just as lovely as Sera's, and was pleased that her stay would be comfortable at the very least. After all, the young countess was quite fond of her comforts.

Removing her veil, Kezia finally felt a slight bubble of excitement. She did enjoy dressing up and trying pretty things on, plus, she particularly enjoyed having Sera do her hair (a favor she was all too ready to return). She began to sort through her things at once, all thoughts of her betrothed gone as she focused on getting ready.

----

The young man quirked a brow in surprise in spite of himself, smiling at the lordling as he inclined his head slightly in acknowledgement. "Yes my lord, I'm honored you remember my name." Unlike your late father...the fool barely cared to know who we were.' he thought, listening closely to Robin's reply.

Robin's inquiry regarding his attire made the servant grin, finding it both amusing and oddly touching that the younger male was asking his opinion on such matters. But of course, he didn't think the earl looked bad. Pretty modest, but cleaned up. "I think you needn't worry my lord. The clothes suit you just fine."

Gavin obliged his master, following just a step behind as the man talked. For the second time in less than 10 minutes, his new master took him completely by surprise. Pleasantly, of course, but no less stunned than had he bit hit with a blow. Brown eyes widening slightly, he gave a bow of his head before answering. "My lord, it would of course be an honor...if you are certain you'd have me." Gavin gave a wry half smile as he tried unsuccessfully to sweep some hair from his face. "I was but a boy for a while here, a maid's son who thankfully wasn't tossed out, though I suspect it was due to my mother being good enough at her job and my being quiet as a babe" Gavin smiled wistfully, before chuckling slightly. He didn't exactly stay quiet as a child growing up. "I didn't start helping out as a servant proper until I was perhaps in my 9th or 10th year, before that, they'd shoo me away to wash dishes and keep out of sight." Gavin sighed, daring to meet Robin's gaze. "My lord, I confess that while I may have been here my entire life, I have never been entrusted with such a responsible position, so I have no personal experience being one of the head servants. But, if you are generous enough to allow me the chance, I shall of course fulfill my duties to the best of my ability." Gavin let out a breath, worried he'd said too much. Ah well, it would have bothered him to not let the young noble know before entrusting him with the job. 'Of course, I would need to study even harder to make sure I don't disappoint him' he thought, making a mental note to dust off the books he had snatched from the late earl's study.


As Robin sat, Gavin excused himself to go and fetch the guests, mind still reeling with the proposition just given to him.
He first went to fetch the prince, then the countesses, (who, he noticed, had changed into evening gowns) Making his way back to the dining hall, he inwardly began to make bets on who'd be the last to arrive.

---

Kezia looked herself over in the mirror for the fifteenth time, adjusting herself to make sure she was presentable. She wore a turqouise dress with a pearl choker, her hair in a half updo. Her chest was not something to brag about, and so she sought to bring attention to her face. Her waist was fine too. But Sera always said to accentuate her face and hair.

She had told Sera to go down ahead of her, and debated her outfit for now the sixteenth time before shaking her head. No, she was fine, and she was not going to change again! Besides, as much as she liked dressing up, she didn't want to go through the hassle of undoing all this work after she finally found herself looking pretty darn good.

Mind made up, she inwardly cringed at the time, realizing she had taken longer than the three minutes she had promised Sera.


Kezia let out a slight sigh of relief as the dining hall came into view, pleased to see she was not the last one to show up at the dinner table. She smiled immediately upon seeing her sister, approaching the older countess on impulse. "Apologies, sister."

----
Navarre let out a sigh, glaring defiantly at the door as the servant knocked. "Dinner is ready, your highness. The earl requests his guest's presence in the dining hall."

"Very well, I'm coming!" He snapped even as he heard the footsteps carry the servant away. The prince rolled his eyes, getting up and heading to his wardrobe. Black breeches, and a deep blue doublet came first, followed by an embroidered midnight blue and silver jerkin over top. Glancing at himself in the mirror, the prince let out another sigh. Socialize with women who probably only saw a prince. High ranking noblewomen who were only out for advancement. Who probably had no problem being used as a treaty if it meant scoring such an ideal husband.

It was irritating.

Stuffing his hands into his pockets (he was well aware it wasn't exactly a good habit, but he couldn't be bothered to care), Navarre made his way down for dinner, hungry but otherwise not particularly looking forward to the evening. He could socialize and fake it as well as anyone, but he was not in the mood as of late. Damn this stupid treaty, damn being a pawn!

He made no acknowledgement of being the last to arrive, and glanced over at the countesses with an almost bored expression. Remembering his manners, he bowed his head in greeting, deciding he might as well not cause a scene. "You look lovely this evening my ladies. Well, then, shall we sit?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robin Grey Character Portrait: Sera Lillian Hawkhall Character Portrait: Kezia Hawkhall Character Portrait: Navarre Ardelean

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”Everyone’s here, Alright wish me luck...” Robin silently thought to himself, noting Navarre being the last as feeling as bitter of being a pawn in the treaty as he was being made a Noble Of Varinka, when his Mother was born in the lands north, that Deepwolf and Fallvale as a whole serves as a buffer against.

“Yes, I agree with his highness, let’s sit before our stomachs complain.” Sera noted as Robin stood up and gestured for the three present to sit. When he noted that all had gathered he took a deep breath and heaved it out to mentally prepare for the speech he was meant to give, per orders of the King.

“I know you don’t want a long speech before filling our bellies, but as I was ordered to say one on the first night, I’m going to do what I do best, and make this brief. As I’m sure some of you are slightly embittered at being a part of a treaty, I was told to give word that should everything meant to go on here be successful, that His Majesty has an incentive. For Navarre, His Majesty has promised a seat in His Council. His only incentive for me is the title of Lord Earl of Fallvale, and all the duties it entails.” Robin said, trying his best to keep his voice even and polite. “And now My Lord and Miladies, let’s tend to this dinner.”

With that, he took his seat, and the feast began, yet Robin knew that this first night would be a silent dinner, one filled with tension, at least on his part. He was in a room with three nobles, with his appearance modest, yet felt worlds apart from the nobles around him, including Kezia, who looked like everything he imagined a Noblewoman would be in his mother’s stories. But he knew better.

He had the feeling that she detested the idea of marrying someone once considered a bastard. He kept his silence and ate as dignified as possible, remembering from his uncle’s teaching how eating with Nobility worked, and of course which and when certain cutlery was used. Sera took notice of this and whispered to Kezia the following;

“Well, least he’s obviously restraining himself from tearing into it like a wild boar. Obviously he’s trying to impress everyone.” She said as she took a bite of what she had on her plate. “Hm, excellent cook he must have too.”

”Please don’t let it go to chaos. Please don’t let it go to chaos.” was the Mantra in Robin’s head.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robin Grey Character Portrait: Sera Lillian Hawkhall Character Portrait: Kezia Hawkhall Character Portrait: Navarre Ardelean

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Instead of being allowed to simply go over a brief welcome and then being served his dinner, Navarre was forced to sit through a pre-arranged announcement. And not just any speech- but one directed at him from his brother and delivered by this bastard earl! The hand on his knee clenched into a fist, the prince scowling at his plate in anger. It wasn't enough to be used as a pawn, but now his once beloved brother wouldn't even give him a message directly?! If there was to be an announcement from the king, he should have been the one to deliver it! The insult was not one he took lightly. And to make matters worse, this earl-to-be had mistakenly addressed him as a lord!
The imbecile.
"I am already aware of my duties, lord earl." he muttered tersely, thinking it a wonder Robin was the only child of the late earl. Miraculous really, considering how many he had bedded beside his own wife.

It was only a few minutes into the dinner when he noticed his betrothed seemed to be studying Robin. He could see her murmuring to her sister, all the while having her gaze flicker to the new earl at frequent intervals. So she found him interesting then? While her lack of fawning over him as the highest ranking noble in the room was admittedly refreshing, it was no less insulting to be all but ignored by the one he was expected to marry.

"If you have found a suitor more to your liking who will be of benefit to the treaty, perhaps you should speak now M'lady." Navarre began, arching a brow and glancing at Sera cooly. "After all, there is no need to waste our time if you have decided already." he continued curtly, giving her a final look before returning his attention to the food.

~

Kezia listened to the proposal without interruption, though she did glance over at Sera for a moment before muttering under her breath. "And what incentive does the king have for us?" she wondered, slipping some food into her mouth as soon as it was polite for her to do so, secretly admiring the work of the chef. Sera's whisper's in her ear prompted her to glance up from her bisque, seeing that the earl to be was indeed eating as befitting such a station. But then again, it would be absurd if he couldn't even do that much!

"But surely everyone knows that." she reasoned, seeing the young man work from the outside in, as common manners dictated.
The countess's eyes wandered slightly, taking in everyone present in the room. She was however, especially curious as to her sister's prompting, wondering why Sera seemed to care how she viewed the earl? Her elder sister seemed almost like she was trying to point out reasons to like or praise the bastard earl she was being told to wed! But she had standards! Besides...no one could be as noble as Malchior, surely...
The young woman sighed, allowing herself to daydream by the the time they reached the main course.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robin Grey Character Portrait: Sera Lillian Hawkhall Character Portrait: Kezia Hawkhall Character Portrait: Navarre Ardelean

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Sera knew it’d be awhile to get used to her intended beau, but it seems that he lost a few brains along with his depth perception. She’ll never say it out loud. As for the Earl, Well, the former Mercenary was used to following orders so frankly it was a matter of ‘Don’t shoot the messenger.’

However, now her husband to be decided to throw down the gauntlet. “I have, and he’s currently attempting to converse with me I See. Your highness, surely you realize I’ve fully intended to follow this through to the end and do this courtship with you to ensure the fifty years of violence came to an end. And I intend to see it through to the end. Will you I wonder, Prince Navarre?”

”Welp, that’s instifating something. Just keep eating an ignore them, if Navarre tries to be violent just.... Hm...let’s just try to survive till dessert that way people can leave if they want, and avoid the ‘nonviolent’ idea of escalating the argument.” Robin thought as he finished the course and drank deep from his glass like the liquid inside was milk.

He then leaned back in his chair and entangled his fingers in together and twiddled his thumbs. He then looked at Kezia and observed her for a few moments, and then looked at himself. ”It’s obvious she has standards, it’s obvious Sera is trying to point out more pros then cons about me but let’s face it! I’m a menagerie animal by the way Sera looks at me and Kezia obviously doesn’t like me. Noble Ladies always have crushes on ‘Mr. Perfect.’ Kind of men. Some kind of forbidden love too if my Mother’s Brother is correct. And what am I compared to that?”

He mentally groaned, ”What am I going to do Gods?! The only tension is the fact I don’t belong and Sera and Navarre might start a war on words! Any further and I’ll start throwing Pies come dessert and make a fool of myself just to make me unwind from this stress!”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robin Grey Character Portrait: Sera Lillian Hawkhall Character Portrait: Kezia Hawkhall Character Portrait: Navarre Ardelean

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The elder countess's retort nearly elicited a growl from Navarre, the prince pursing his lips and giving her a hard glare as he paused in raising another bite of food to his lips. Lowering his fork, he let his visible eye linger on his intended with a nagging little irritation- he was all but insulted at her near-accusation that he was not a man of his word. His voice lowered even further, barely refraining from letting out a hiss when he did speak. "I assure you, countess I am a man of my word. Regardless of your absurd assumptions regarding my character, I am not about to break an agreement on my end." he was calm, but clearly tired of the whole affair already.
He was grateful she wasn't a simpering court lady trying desperately to cozy up to him; but right now, he was too annoyed to appreciate the change of pace.
Eyes narrowing, he watched Sera like a hawk, pausing a moment before continuing.

"I was merely allowing you to speak up front if you decide you'd rather attempt to amend the treaty's specifics. I don't forsee such a thing working, but you have at least some time to appeal to his majesty before everything becomes final. There are two of you, and I highly doubt it matters one way or another to my brother which of you becomes tied to our family so long as the alliance is fulfilled." Giving Sera one last glance, Navarre returned to his dinner in hopes of it being over soon. Despite his words, he still had a feeling he'd prefer to have the elder countess over her sister if he was being made to marry one. But in the end, what did it really matter? One way or another, this treaty would happen, and he wasn't given any say regardless.


Kezia frowned slightly at the crown prince, wondering if he was always this argumentative. Despite him behaving politely, she wasn't sure how irate such a man could become, and her sister didn't deserve to be subject to any hardship from it. Although, her own father did sometimes grumble in such a way when he was cross, so perhaps he was just in a bad mood? She would have to confide in Sera later on, and see how she was faring. She was lucky to marry a prince, but the prince was slightly more lucky in that he was getting a lovely girl like her dear sister as his future bride. He had no need to be grumpy! In any case, so long as he didn't harm Sera...

As glasses were refilled, she went to drink from hers when a peculiar sound reached her ears, prompting her to look in the direction to find it's source. As her eyes fell on the mercenary, she noted how he was handling his glass. What on earth was he doing?! He wasn't sipping from his glass like a gentleman, but chugging it! Had the manners he'd been displaying been a farce? Had they really vanished so easily? Kezia fought to keep a neutral face, wondering if Robin was some sort of a drunkard.

Kezia turned away, finishing her food when she became aware of the slight nagging sensation of being watched. She looked up once more, and finally registered Robin's eyes on her. Shifting slightly in her seat, the younger countess felt both slightly flattered and somewhat uneasy with a pair of strong eyes on her. Before she could consider trying to alter the situation, the man stopped his staring and went back to minding his own business it seemed. He looked deep in thought, and Kezia vaguely wondered what he could be pondering before deciding the sudden smell of dessert was much more important.

While the main courses were cleared away after they had mostly been completed, Gavin rolled out a serving cart used for tea time and produced two courses of dessert: a lemon meringue pie, and a decadent chocolate cream torte.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robin Grey Character Portrait: Sera Lillian Hawkhall Character Portrait: Kezia Hawkhall Character Portrait: Navarre Ardelean

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“Amend? And lower my expectations of what seems to be a challenge compared to you?” Sera states as the dessert cart rolls up.”

The faintest crack of a wineglass was barely audible in Robin’s hand. ”Calm yourself.... it doesn’t bother me, it doesn’t bother me.”

“And furthermore, I was merely noting to my sister what one of us seem to be doing right despite coming from less then decent backgrounds.” Sera iterates further. “In addition to being from what one might consider barbaric-“

At this moment, what was possibly her piece of lemon meringue was suddenly now splattered on her face, followed by angered steps out the doors of the dining hall, with Robin’s seat empty. Sera noting what had finally happened seemed to hold a very restrained angry sigh in her chest before letting it out. “It would seem, I rest my case.” She said through clenched teeth, containing what seems to be angered rage as pie pieces seem to slide off her hair.

——

The doors to the Personal wing of Robin flew open as he stormed down the hallway. “I had just about enough pressure as I can take from those people! I know I screwed up by tossing the pie lowering Kezia’s impressions of me but...” he groans out a yell in his ranting as he entered his bedchambers, pulling off his dinner tunic and staring at himself in a mirror.

He stared for the longest time at his battlescarred body. “How can I be like them, if they keep putting me down or look at me the way they do?” He asks himself. “I’ll apologize later sure but still... Uncle might say, to give advice on this situation ‘Now Robin, it’s better to roll with the punches’. Some punch...”

He then walked backwards and slumped onto his chair. “What am I going to do with myself?”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robin Grey Character Portrait: Sera Lillian Hawkhall Character Portrait: Kezia Hawkhall Character Portrait: Navarre Ardelean

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Navarre felt an eye twitch as the elder countess began to speak to him again, barely keeping an irate growl from exiting his lips. What in the hell was she going on about? Lowering her expectations...and even suggesting he was somehow less than his bastard cousin!

Who was now storming out of the room in a huff.

Navarre stared in stunned silence at his bride-to-be as she sat, silently fuming with a face full of merengue pie. The idiot had actually thrown a pie into the face of a guest?! What in the seven circles of hell was wrong with the man? It was almost comical were it not so absurd, so utterly childish. Robin had some nerve to think he could become an earl proper with such poor manners and sensitive a temper. The late earl had been a scoundrel no doubt, but he wasn't an imbecile like his son seemed to be.
And yet, his betrothed was praising said imbecile?! It was ludicrus! Insulting! He had half a mind to snap at her and berate the obviously deluded woman...

Prince Navarre took a breath in anticipation of letting Sera know just how uncharming and foolish she was being, but he paused upon taking in her current appearance. Here was a young noble woman dressed in evening wear and sitting rigidly with what should have been her dessert falling in globs down from her face, all the while trying not to cause a scene or even say what she must surely be thinking. Honestly, he couldn't think of a single woman who wouldn't gasp or shriek in mortification (none that he'd ever met, anyways). Even the sister had let out a little cry of alarm not seconds ago.

Letting out a sigh, Navarre reached into a small pocket in his jerkin and withdrew a finely embroidered kerchief, only to offer it in his outstretched hand to Sera. "Here, you should clean yourself." he said simply, his voice calm and his body language neutral. He shook his head in disbelief as his gaze turned in the direction Robin had run off to. "Fool..."
----

At first, Gavin didn't put much emphasis on the faint crack he heard as he stood in the corner of the dining hall closest to his master. Nothing seemed amiss (aside from some akwardness), and nothing had broken, so he wouldn't interrupt the first dinner. The young man did however, feel a slowly increasing tension in the room. He could only hope nothing would come out of his growing misgivings. Not wanting to cause any disturbances, Gavin simply went about preparing the plates with dessert when the conversation that met his ears gave him reason to pause. Surely the countess Sera wasn't so brash and careless as to breach upon such a touchy subject so early in the game? Glancing at her out of his periphery, he silently willed her to stop her current train of coversation when the inevitable happened.

It was all he could do to keep from laughing aloud, and instead he ducked to follow after his master as a fellow servant hastened to pick up the mess. He only allowed himself to relax upon being down the hall and reaching the staircase before mirthful chuckles escaped his lips, the man clutching at his belly at one point. It was so wrong, but oh so amusing! He had only seen Robin once or twice before the man came back to take his father's place, but he vaguely recalled the young lordling (only a little younger than he, really) had once done something similar by throwing a dinner roll at someone. Robin and his mother had somehow been invited to a gathering on accident, and his being called out on his heritage had resulted in the same manner. Poor boy's mother had once been the late earl's favorite companion, until she became pregnant.

Finally, Gavin reached his master's quarters, and knocked three times before announcing himself. "My lord, will you pardon my intrusion?" he asked (something he'd never have tried to do with the previous earl), waiting a minute for any objections before allowing himself in.
Tucking his keys further into his belt so they'd not jangle excessively so, he made his way through Robin's rooms before finally seeing the new earl berating himself and bemoaning his circumstances. It made Gavin smile again, though it was in no way cruel or mocking. Allowing the distressed male a moment more to compose himself, Gavin finally inclined his head in a slight bow before addressing the young earl.
"My lord, do not be so hard on yourself. If there is anything I may do to assist you, do not hesitate to ask." he began, lacing his hands behind his back before continuing, less formal now (and hoping he wasn't making an error in doing so). "I'm sorry she said such a thing. No matter what anyone thinks, it is rude to talk about one's host like that..." he trailed off, shaking his head. A moment of silence passed before Gavin smiled again, hoping to cheer Robin up. "Though I did find it more amusing than I should have. And I cannot say I disagree with your choice of actions, if I may say so."

---

Kezia was well on her way to smugly watching her sister take control of the conversation while enjoying what was sure to be a very satisfying dessert when Sera's face was suddenly assaulted with their pie. She let out a mortified yelp, standing up and approaching Sera with a napkin, only to find the prince had actually decided to be a gentleman. Finally.
Still yet, that Robin had some nerve! Kezia frowned in distaste, throwing her napkin down in a huff. "I'll be back sister. I'll sort this out!" she declared firmly, marching off in the direction her supossed betrothed went. Kezia's hands balled into fists at her side. Thet brute was not going to get away with treating Sera like that. Sera, while firm and able to balance grace with an intelligent tongue and sharp mind, was much less prone to outbursts than she herself was. Kezia was as charming as her sibling, but if anyone caused trouble, it was usually her. Not that she wasn't a proper lady! But Sera knew better than anyone, when she was really upset, she could become as stubborn as a mule (much to her parent's chagrin).

It took some time (and some brief backtracking), but the young countess finally figured out which wing belonged to the lord of the house, this would be earl! Cheeks flushed with anger, she approached the nicest set of doors next to the main ones and banged her fist upon it, giving the occupant a piece of her mind. "Come out you shameless curr!"
----

Gavin turned his head towards the entrance to the earl's wing and held a hand over his mouth to stifle a snicker. He couldn't help it, but it was oh so amusing to hear the little prim and proper lady shouting outside the door. "My lord, perhaps now is as good a time as any to make amends to the sister? In a way, she cared more about addressing you about this situation than she did about ensuring her sister wasn't distressed... But of course, I can send her away should you need time to decompress."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robin Grey Character Portrait: Sera Lillian Hawkhall Character Portrait: Kezia Hawkhall Character Portrait: Navarre Ardelean

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Sera quietly fumed and silently took the napkin from her betrothed’s hand and kept her voice neutral as she replied. “Thank you your highness. Let’s postpone this insult fight we’ve been having until another day... blast it all I had my best makeup on too, I must look ridiculous.” She muttered the last part so low she was certain he didn’t hear her. But she heard her sister’s intentions. “Well good luck sister, try and teach him some manners, or at least remember yours.” She called out as she cleaned herself.

——

Hearing Gavin’s knock and call Robin only said with relative numbness, “Enter.” He watched Gavin enter slowly as his mind began to recall the times he had been in this mansion before... this place was never home to him. Yet by actual law, and a quick word from his parental cousin, here he was. He should have not listened to his Uncle and remained a mercenary with his cousin Cain.

When he heard Gavin’s request for aid he chuckled. “Only if there is a do-over mechanism somewhere. I botched it up didn’t I?” He then heard the words of encouragement and smiled ruefully as he fiddled with a blue tunic with the symbol of a black dragon above the area of his heart. “Yes, like that Duke I decked with a sweetroll. Margaret baked them I believe that one time I was here on accident because He wanted Mum there.”

He sighed. “I think I made my impression lousy with that gimmick though..it was the only nonviolent solution I could think of. I don’t see how it’s going to get any worse-“

Bang! Bang!

At the sound of his door being knocked so loudly upon And hearing a blatant challenge and insult from his betrothed, who sounded hellbent on berating him to the ground and demanding him for other things.

Gavin snickered as Robin gave a playful glare before shaking his head.

“Shameless am I? Very well. I shall, I hope you’re ready for this shouting match Countess.” He said with a mild half frown half grin as he approached the door, slipping on his tunic before opening the door.

“Don’t tell me, let me guess. I am a cur for throwing a pie at your sister’s face when she insulted my mother’s family and I shouldn’t have defended them, is that correct?” He said with a neutral face.

”That should Knock some of the wind out of her sails.” he thought on the side.

“I promise I will apologize if that will satisfy your anger towards me, but she must also apologize. If she is to be a Prince’s wife she should know better then to insult others unintentionally.” He added firmly looking at Kezia in the eyes. He slowly tried to keep it Square on that before he suddenly broke off, his face turning pink.

”Shit shit shit! What else can I say?! What am I going to do?! She came here hellbent on browbeating me! Someone throw me a hint!” he thought frantically in his head. He cleared his throat. “Is there anything else?”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robin Grey Character Portrait: Sera Lillian Hawkhall Character Portrait: Kezia Hawkhall Character Portrait: Navarre Ardelean

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The prince's gaze turned back to his betrothed after another moment of silent disbelief and ridicule directed at the vanished earl. Correction, supposed earl. Despite her composure, he could tell the countess Sera was more than just a tad angry. Her eyes were near scathing, but she restrained herself remarkably. Impressive if he was being honest.
Sera's cool words earned a slight arch of Navarre's brow, the royal giving her a look of thinly veiled incredulity. Insult fight? Navarre was no child, and while he had been at odds with the lady thus far, he wasn't insulting anyone. Especially not aloud. He shook his head slightly, adjusting the cuff of his sleeve to banish a wrinkle as he spoke. "Very well my lady, as you wish it...after all, it was you who started the argument." he almost smiled, having a feeling the countess did not see it that way at all.

Navarre returned his attention to his drink, only to glance back up at Sera's quiet dismay. Best makeup? Of course...women liked to powder and prim themselves to look more fetching (though not always with success- he'd seen plenty who simply looked ridiculous). Half tempted to roll his eyes at the complaint, he managed not to and glanced at the young woman cleaning herself and, yes, disturbing some of her makeup. What was no longer covered wasn't offensive to look at, so he doubted her attempts were to cover up some unsightly feature or disfiguration. Therefore, it wouldn't be the end of the world (at least as he saw it) if she were to ruin her efforts to adorn her face. He rested his chin on his knuckle, finding himself speaking frankly. "You needn't be concerned about looking ridiculous. Ridiculous is when people use so much that they resemble a court jester. Having to wipe one's face after being assaulted by pie is not."

----

Gavin gave his master a slight smile and an apologetic shrug, hoping Robin could tell he was sorry he couldn't do anything to rectify the situation, despite the fact that it was of course impossible to do anyways. To his surprise, Robin seemed to have also been reminiscing about the past, and- -more specifically, about the time he had been unintentionally invited to the late earl's home. Gavin nodded at the slightly younger male, the memory fresh in his own mind as well. Even back then, Gavin had felt he'd have liked to meet Robin properly and befriend him. To think he was now working for the boy he had hoped to someday play with, it was all rather surreal. Not, of course, that he was complaining. So far, Robin was proving to be just as interesting and likeable as he seemed.

The demanding knock and order that had him snickering seemed not to disturb the new earl, at least not enough to cause the noble to back down and have the lady sent away. Seeing Robin shake his head, Gavin clamped his mouth shut and took a step back at the mock glare shot his way, stifling fresh snickers he could feel in his very chest. Ah, he found these things far more amusing than he ought to! But he wouldn't interfere for now, and stepped aside several feet to allow his master some measure of privacy.




Kezia's eyes were narrowed in distaste, hands on her hips as Robin opened the door to address her. She took a half step back on impulse, his height and half grin more than just a tad intimidating. She swiftly straightened her posture, glaring back at the so called earl. He was challenging her to a shouting match? What a crude, uncouth ruffian indeed!

He wasted no time, answering her call with his own defense, and an accurate one no less. She suppossed he was reacting out of insult to his family.

But even so...he had no right!

Her hesitation lasted only a moment, her hands balling into fists at her sides as her infuriated gaze bore into her intended. As he continued to speak, his words only further served to aggravate her, almost to the point where Kezia was tempted to slap the man across the face.

"Even so, who throws a pie into a ladies' face?! That's just uncivilized, and utterly juvenile! You call yourself a man?" she snapped, one hand reaching up to poke him sharply in the chest as she rattled off her argument.
"She had no intentions of insulting you, so she is not to be treated as some criminal. And you should talk- you're nothing but a hypocrite! A princess needs to be tactful, but what earl would be so ill mannered as to throw a pie into someone's face?! Is that how you always respond when you have a disagreement? What would you do if someone were to purposely insult you? What kind of noble would you be if you can't handle discontent or trouble? You retaliated to a mistake in such a way, I shudder to think of how you handle a real issue!"

Kezia glowered, her tirade not yet done. She took a step closer, prodding him more forcefully as righteous fury for her sister fueled her current temper. "And what should she apologize for? All she's done this entire evening is try to paint you in a favorable light. She's done nothing but point out reason's why I should be happy to have you as my intended!" Kezia drew back then, managing to hold in frustrated tears at this whole situation. Damn it all, she didn't want to marry this man! She at least thought she'd be allowed to pick from a selection of suitors her parents approved of, not married off to some scoundrel. So upset was she , that she barely registered Robin's flushed cheeks.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robin Grey Character Portrait: Sera Lillian Hawkhall Character Portrait: Kezia Hawkhall Character Portrait: Navarre Ardelean

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Sera stiffened at Navarre’s statement if her starting the argument. She let out a small humored laugh. “You May have a point there your highness.” She said, her mask of neutral calm falling for a moment before readjusting back on. She listened to his response to her statement and gave a chuckle.

“My dear Prince Navarre, you certainly have a way with calming a woman’s dismay. I appreciate that.” She said, her face cracking a small smile.

———

Kezia let him have it. Robin nearly lost his will to defend his position. Nearly. “The kind of Earl who wasn’t ever supposed to be one! But the place I had to grow up with is not full of the barbarians people paint them to be! Hypocrite? That’s about the nicest thing anyone has ever said about Robin The Grey! A Bastard Mercenary who will always even as He takes up that.....joke of a father’s place, be labeled by that like it’s a damn curse. And yes, I’m going to say if I’m a hypocrite that just makes that man,” he points to the portrait of his Father, “A cruel! Sick, Womanizing, Joke!”

His voice lowered as he began to pant from losing his breath due to the stress. “I.... am sorry. I misbehaved... badly. You’re right, I don’t know how to navigate this world of nobles and Polly-ticks. If I’m a hypocrite, I’m at least one that knows he is in the wrong. I’m just...trying so hard being something I’m totally unprepared for. In another life I’d be a captain of the guard or some sort of dragon hunter.” He looks down. He took a deep breath then looked back up at her with a hardened stare that he learned from watching his Mother’s Grandfather, a blacksmith by trade.

“But hey, sons don’t choose their fathers, and they will always love their mothers. That I can say I did right.” He said with a sigh. “I just wanted to make this first day right... but somewhere it went sideways on me. And upset the utmost beautiful person I’ve ever seen.”

At this, he realized what he said, and began to turn red. ”D-Damn it!! Why did I say that?! Too soon to be giving her compliments! This is an apology not a flirtation!”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robin Grey Character Portrait: Sera Lillian Hawkhall Character Portrait: Kezia Hawkhall Character Portrait: Navarre Ardelean

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For a moment, Navarre dreaded the elder countess would resume bickering with him or become fussy, taking note of how she stiffened at his words. To his pleasant surprise, she then proceeded to relax ever so slightly and even release a little laugh. A slight half smile formed upon the prince's lips as she agreed with him. He had to admit, he found her chuckle to be a rather pleasant sounding one.

As Sera addressed his comment, Navarre's eyebrow arched slightly. She had forgotten to address him as common courtesy dictated. However, while it was a more casual manner of addressing him, it wasn't incorrect or without a title. 'Prince' was fine, (after all, he was one), but he couldn't remember the last time he was called 'dear prince'. By his mother or a relative if his recollection was correct. It was certainly different to hear it from a young woman, especially one he had only recently met (even if she was his intended). This time, she also bore a small smile. Her smile as well was charming to the eyes, and made her face look even sweeter. Sure, he had seen many a lovely lady in his time, but he could not name any that he found genuine. They would be charming and prime examples of the upper class, but the older he grew, the less he enjoyed their company.

Too much makeup. Too strong of perfume. Simpering smiles that were simply looking to please or attract attention. Words of admiration, extolling virtues they would have way of knowing he had (and often after only recently meeting him). Kissing up in any way, shape, or form. And even after the accident, people would claim it didn't bother them or make him look any less 'dashing', but the stares and wandering eyes decieved them. Sure, there were plenty of decent ladies and nicer maidens out there, but how many would act just as delighted to see him were he not a prince?

And yet, her smile didn't look forced or fake, and he found himself inclined to believe his betrothed as she spoke. Calmed her dismay? Well, she certainly seemed more at ease. Navarre gave a nonchalant half-shrug, meeting her small smile with a slight incline of his head, the corners of his lips lifted ever so slightly.

After a moment, he glanced at the desserts again, and after some deliberation, took a plate from the head seat for himself. "No sense in wasting good food. Clearly he doesn't care if he's willing to throw it like a child." he mused aloud, taking a bite of the torte.

----

After determining that both parties were arguing, but not at each other's throats, Gavin retreated further into his master's quarters, not yet able to leave fully for the time being as they conversed at the doorway. He didn't mean to invade upon Robin's privacy, and he certainly didn't want to be causing any more tension. Despite his attempts to not eavesdrop, he heard more than he felt he should. He felt anguish for the young man's lament, especially hearing what people said about him- and no doubt even to his face! Robin seemed such a decent fellow, and it was unfair that he was judged purely for being a bastard son. Not like he had any say in the matter!

Soon though, he had to physically restrain himself from giggling, hands clasped over his mouth at the butchered 'polly-ticks'. Gavin had never heard the term pronounced as such, and hearing it from a grown man was too much. He hid himself on the master balcony, working to compose himself for whenever the two were done talking.

----

The young countess was soon taken aback by Robin's loud and fervent reply. Flinching slightly at his sudden words, she could only stare at him wordlessly as his tirade continued. So he was completely new to the life of a noble? Well, he was a mercenary, so it wasn't overly shocking news. But he didn't even seem like he was excited or all that eager to take the place of the late earl. Surely he could see that was better than being a hired thug...

Kezia unconsciously bit at her lower lip, actually feeling a bit sorry for the male before her. Hypocrite was the nicest thing he'd ever been called? But what about the attendant who was with him when they had arrived? Did he not have any companions (though, she supposed, being a mercenary would not earn one many friends). And while his father did sound like a complete scoundrel (not that she'd ever met him at any social gatherings), he was still now able to advance in life because of it...

The young woman's muscles began to relax slightly as his voice quieted back down, though clearly his outburst had taken quite a bit out of him. His apology sounded sincere, and Kezia found she wasn't really able to retain her anger and indignation. He knew he had messed up, and was willing to acknowledge it. She expected that to be all, but an odd mix of disbelief and pity began to nag at her as he confessed his uncertainties. A slightly incredulous look passed over her features as he failed to pronounce what she was sure was a common term ('polly-ticks'? Really?), before his strong and firm stare met her eyes. He had the most intense eyes she could ever recall seeing...

Kezia began to feel sorry for the man as he lamented over the first day not going well as he had planned, and for a brief second, she felt the impulse to pat his shoulder reassuringly as she would her sister.

However, all coherent thought ceased to exist as his final words registered in her ears. She could feel all her blood rushing straight into her cheeks, coloring them a bright red as her eyes widened in shock. While she and Sera had been complimented on their appearance before, it had never before been so sudden...or so blatantly unprompted...

Letting out a squeek, she took a step back and shook her head, pointing an accusatory finger at Robin. "T-That's not fair! Changing the subject and saying such things so unexpectedly!" she stammered, clearly at a loss of how to respond to such a situation. She was not used to flattery outside of mingling at parties, and usually praise was not given after such a tirade. Also, it was usually accompanied by a smile and a chaste kiss on the back of the hand.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robin Grey Character Portrait: Sera Lillian Hawkhall Character Portrait: Kezia Hawkhall Character Portrait: Navarre Ardelean

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Sera wiped her face of the last glob of lemon meringue pie as she watched Navarre taking the Earl’s dessert. “Indeed. This slightly proves that I also possibly crossed a sensitive topic on his part. It makes me recall a story my parents said about him, on how he, as a child, accidentally brought along by his mother (who was accidentally invited to a gala by the former Earl.) threw a sweetroll at a duke who insulted her. This somewhat proves his loyalties to one and obvious disdain of the other.”

She hardened her thoughts after taking what seemed to have been a restrained yell of frustration and gave a sharp exhale. “But it indeed proves he’s just as childish now as he was then. Here’s hoping my dear sister sorts him out, and make him at least a bit less of a child.”

———

”Crud! She heard the slip!” he thought in a panic as he turned red as well as she took a step back and pointed accusingly at him. She scolded him about changing the subject and saying it unexpectedly!

“F-Forgive me! The words just came out! This is not helping the situation I’ve painted myself in..” he said the last part in a mumble. “You are though. Back to the topic though. I will apologize to your sister once I know she’s simmered down. I have a feeling I’ve made her rather livid... Navarre Possibly thinks Me a child for it too... I mean I didn’t do anything like this since that Duke fella I decked with a sweet roll for um.... calling my mother unpleasant things as a child.”

He was gonna eat that sweetroll too. It just ruined the fun. It did pull him to sit with his namesake grandfather later, and that’s how he met his cousin Cain funnily enough. “I am now deathly embarrassed by that memory. I’ve tarnished my newfound reputation...with a pie.” He groaned out.

He half wished Gavin would help him... or some of the employees that followed him from the Mercenary company he worked with. Like Gaston, or Teresa... Karin is still taking in the quiet of living in manor life. In fact he had a fear she might have an anxiety attack any day now. Poor dear, she was like the younger sister of the staff.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robin Grey Character Portrait: Sera Lillian Hawkhall Character Portrait: Kezia Hawkhall Character Portrait: Navarre Ardelean

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Navarre nodded in affirmation, recalling the incident of old. His family was invited as well, and despite how little he cared for said uncle, he was also in attendance that particular evening. It was probably one of the only times he'd ever seen, much less heard, of his bastard cousin. The prince shook his head in disdain, commenting in between bites. "Regardless of how sensitive the topic is, a grown man can't just throw a fit like that at the slightest offense. It's unbecoming and utterly embarrassing."

Glancing over at the countess, he munched on his pilfered dessert in silence for a few moments, considering her words some more. "I remember that. Still as foolish now as he was back then. So juvenile and impulsive, yet he is supposed to become the next earl? Heaven help us all." he remarked with a roll of his eyes at the thought. He was secretly glad to have someone to share his complaints. Thankfully, Sera seemed to at least share some of his sentiments regarding a certain idiot. It was preferable to trying to contain such aggravation and show tolerance without an outlet to express his agitation. After all, he did not tolerate fools lightly. He had more than once been accused of being cold-hearted. He didn't think himself mean, he just hated idiots and empty headed courtiers. How was that so bad a thing?

Not, of course, that he was going to share such thoughts with his betrothed. That much he would keep to himself as always.

Realizing he was the only one partaking of food anymore, Navarre felt just a tad self-conscious (though he'd go to his grave before admitting it). The prince inclined his head towards Sera's torte and her sister's still intact piece of pie. "Go on, eat. The least you should be entitled to after being assaulted with sweets is to enjoy your fair share."
----

Kezia finally noticed the color in Robin's cheeks, and it did nothing to calm her own nerves. It did, however, add to her confusion. What on earth was up with this man? Was he simply abashed by his behavior? Perhaps that was it, but if he knew how uncouth and improper his behaviors were, why did he do them in the first place? Surely it didn't take her scolding to make him realize his own abasement?

Robin was no less flustered as he began to speak again, stumbling over his own words initially. His hasty explanation was met with silence, and his affirmation that he was being serious caused her own cheeks to flush again, thinking him bold indeed. Bold wasn't neccesarily bad, but she wasn't sure how to take it coming from him.

As her intended continued, Kezia gave a brief nod in acknowledgement, agreeing that it would be wisest to allow her sister a chance to calm down (though he couldn't put it off too long). But soon his train of thought seemed to degrade into only semi-relevent and coherent thought. The younger countess regarded him with a combination of incredulity, bewilderment, and a trace of amusement. His confession earned an arch of her brow, eyes fixed on the man as he continued. He had actually thrown food before? However, it sounded like his last incident was at least attributed to when he was in his youth. Such things could be pardoned and understood, as children often had a few mishaps. But the mere fact that he had essentially retaliated the same as he did when he was a little boy, only made it more absurd. "So...you mean to say you're still just as childish as you were then?" she asked simply after a moment of thought, eyes still following his reactions.


Finally deciding he might as well do something to ease the tension, Gavin cleared his throat as he made his way back towards the two. Besides, they were in the doorway, and he couldn't very well stay here all night.
"My Lord, shall I draw up your bath before I leave you be this evening? And of course, my lady, I or one of the other servants can do so for you and your sister as well should you wish it." he added, thinking of who he'd ask to look after the women. He didn't feel it yet appropriate for him to instruct the few who came with Robin to the castle. He would prefer to have permission and authority given to him from the new earl himself- he did not want to presume. So perhaps Myra would be able to help? Myra did seem to be the most receptive to all the new faces. She even was eager to get to know the ones who followed the new earl.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robin Grey Character Portrait: Sera Lillian Hawkhall Character Portrait: Kezia Hawkhall Character Portrait: Navarre Ardelean

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Sera scoffed. “True on the embarrassing part Your Highness.” She said with a small smile. “But I’be a feeling he had every intention of throwing a pie anyway... I thought I distinctly saw two on that tray.”

Which made the elder countess wonder... if the earl planned on being childish on purpose to incite actual communication. If he did, he was either a cunning tactician...or just a child in a man’s body.

She snapped up when her groom to be gestured for her to sample desert. “Hm Yes, one mustn’t waste a good effort by the chef.” She cut into the torte and ate a bite and was astounded by the sudden flavors. Whoever made this used quality ingredients at what she assumed was ingenious. “My goodness,” she exclaimed with a swallow. “I should remind the servants to give my compliments to the chef.”

——

He reddened at the question given to him. “Well, childish is a harsh word... ‘Impulsive’ or ‘Brash’ is a better word when it comes to insults to my mother’s family.” He said, scratching the back of his neck. He could’ve said more if Gavin didn’t appear to ward off the discussion from another shouting match.

The offer of a bath seemed tempting. He sighed, “Very well, Gavin, you may do so. Also, ensure the staff I brought here are well received and welcomed. Keep an eye on one called Kara though, She’s prone to anxiety.” He instructed, he then turned to clarify to Kezia, “Childhood trauma, lost her family to bandits. Sees some of the other servants as family.”

He sighed. “Sometimes.. I wonder if tragedy can stop following people like vultures.” He muttered. “Lady Kezia, I hope that we can talk more in the coming days, as I’d like to get to know you more.”