September 16, 2013

In Which Severin Disproves the King's Declaration

January 4, 1183

"So Raia wants to start up a university."

Good to know that Ietrin's ears worked. "That's the general idea."

"Raia."

"Yes."

"Really. Raia."

"Why not Raia?"

Yes, they could have brought in someone experienced and qualified from outside the kingdom, but it was rare enough that someone was willing to move to Naroni, and rarer still that it was someone with prospects and accolades and a lucrative career elsewhere. Making a brand new university in the backwater's backwater attractive to some scholar with a comfortable position at Oxford or Bologna would require a much higher starting salary than Severin was willing to offer.

In terms of present Naroni citizens--well, secular citizens (the church would have to be involved to some extent, but handing one of theirs the top job in a large state project seemed like a ringing endorsement for ecclesiocracy, and Lord knew the church already saw enough of those, whether they existed or not)--who better than a clever young person with a knack for organization, motivation, and large-scale ideas?

While there may have been reasonable grounds for objection, Ietrin didn't find them. "She's a woman."

Whatever Jeda's baby was, this was why the world needed Queen Dea. "So?"

"What do you mean, 'so'? Any man in this kingdom could do a better job of it than a woman."

It was a stretch to believe that Ietrin knew he was a living argument against his own point. "Name one."

The king sneered. "Surely any--"

"You already said 'any'. I'm asking you to name one. One specific man in this kingdom who would make a better chancellor than Raia."

Silence. Severin had thought so. "Look, regardless of whatever body parts the chancellor does or does not have, the university will be a major asset to the kingdom in the long-term. It will put us on the map, for one; I'm sure we'll have students from Dovia and Carvallon, and maybe from France and Spain as well, and some of them may stay in the country after they graduate. The added coin will boost the economy, we'll become more involved in international trade, and we'll actually become politically relevant."

He'd assumed when he'd prepared for this meeting that an economic or political approach would have the greatest sway over Ietrin. The king's grin looked to be a good sign. "I do like the idea of being more politically relevant. And while our economy hasn't been bad, a boost certainly couldn't hurt."

"So you'll give your approval?"

"Of course I'll give my approval. It's true that we're hardly on the map, and this university could just be the thing to put us there--and if it fails, well, I'm not putting any of my personal money into it anyway. Not until my son is old enough to attend, at least."

Kaldar, or the son who won't be born for another month and might actually be a daughter? But it was still early enough that Ietrin could change his mind, so Severin kept the thought to himself. "All right."

"Excellent." The young king clapped his hands together, beaming, much like Severin imagined he had when he'd been informed of his father's death. Or maybe not, but it didn't seem like too much of a stretch. "Well, now that that's done, I have a meeting with an artist. I suppose you may sit in if you like; you might very well want to commission his services as well."

An artist? That couldn't have been Ietrin's usual crowd. "What services?"

"Oh, I'm having a new crest designed. My father might have clung to Dovia's out of some sort of guilt, but I think it's about time the world knew we were our own kingdom." And that Ietrin was king, of course. "I brought in this Master Stephane from Dovia. He did some work for Secundus, and he swears he's never seen anyone better. And while everyone may know not to trust a Tamrion for aesthetic advice, well... the man's young, and he's willing to travel, and his fee was reasonable, so what more can I ask for?"

Severin shrugged, just as the steward took to tapping on the door. Convenient timing.

"The artist is here, I take it?"

"Yes, your highness."

"Good. Send him in."

The door opened and in stepped the artist. Yet, Ietrin had not quite given the right command.

"You're a woman."

"What?" The young lady glanced down at her own breasts and looked back up in mock surprise. Severin liked her already. "I never noticed! Thank you so much for pointing that out."

Ietrin scowled, a vein throbbing in his forehead. Watching him, it was a struggle not to the opposite. "I don't appreciate the sarcasm. I heard you were a talented and respected artist, so I assumed--"

"That I had a penis? I don't know how much you know about art, but most of us actually paint with our hands."

Well, this promised to be good entertainment. Severin took a seat on one of the benches as Mistress Stephane stepped around it, squaring off against the king. "Look, do you want a new coat of arms or not?"

"Well, yes, but..." Ietrin stalled. Severin raised an eyebrow; the artist did the same. "Ah, never mind. It's just, a woman your age... shouldn't you be...?"

"Living my life and making my own decisions as to how I do that? I agree."

The king sighed. If he was anything like his father, that meant he was defeated--even if he didn't know it. "We need more Eves in this world of Liliths."

"Now, now. Lilith is treated most unfairly in the world of literature; no one ever asked for her point of view, did they? And perhaps there was more to Eve than met the eye as well."

"Sacred books are not literature."

"They're still books, aren't they?" Mistress Stephane smirked. She would have to be introduced to Lettie. "Now. This crest. What do you want on it?"

"Mistress Stephane--"

"Seriously. What do you want on it? Because from our conversation, all I can think to put on it is an ass--and don't think I mean a donkey."

That did it. Severin forced the escaped laugh into a cough. Ietrin paid him the briefest of glares, then turned back to Mistress Stephane.

"Damn it, I am a king."

Oh, fuck me. "That catchphrase is all wrong," Severin muttered, though he didn't think either of them heard.

Mistress Stephane, of course, had her own retort. "Well, I can't imagine you're wearing that crown as a fashion statement. Now really, just tell me what you want on the coat of arms. I'll try not to let my womanly bosom get in the way of my paintbrush."

"A manticore, all right? A white manticore." So Ietrin had given up. Triumphant, Mistress Stephane took the seat beside Severin, smug smile still fixed on the king; she would have to be introduced to poor Jeda as well. "But my God, woman. With a mouth like yours, you'd better find a husband soon, because you'll be lucky to ever find another job again."

Done with the king for the day now that his ass had been thoroughly handed to him, Severin turned to the young woman. "Would you be interested in teaching art at a university?"

NEXT CHAPTER:

9 comments:

Van said...

Sorry about the narrative in this one. :S

(And major thanks to Andavri for letting me use her Sim!)

Winter said...

My keyboard would be soaked if I had been drinking while I read that! Mistress Stephane is amazing, and I take it for granted that she'll accept the position at Queen Dea University.

This post was so funny. I love the look on Severin's face when he's trying not to laugh at Ietrin. And Ietrin reminding us all that he's a king. Really, the whole thing. I'm still laughing.



Van said...

I had a lot of fun with her dialogue! XD

And yes, she will be accepting that position. The art majors are in for a treat. :)

I think this was probably Severin's favourite day of Ietrin's reign so far.

Mimus said...

The only difference between Ietrin and his father so far is that Roderick emphasized the "am", while Ietrin emphasized the "king". xD
Manticore, isn't that an insect or am I thinking of something else?
Also, I had to laugh at how Severin mused that Ietrin had been beaming at his father's death. No idea, why...
You know, Ietrin reminds me a little of Prince Wenzel from "10th Kingdom" and a little of King Theodo from "Mimus".
The first one because of his arrogance towards his subjects at the beginning of the series and the second because of his believe that he can treat the People who are at his mercy as he pleases.

Van said...

That and rearranging "I am the king" and "damn it". XD

Manticore. I kind of just picked a mythological creature at random; a manticore didn't seem any less Ietrin than anything else. XD

If I can say one good thing about Ietrin, it's that he probably wasn't beaming at his father's death; Roderick was still his daddy, after all. But he certainly didn't waste any time moving into his role.

I will have to check out those books! From what you've explained, though... yep, that does sound like Ietrin. :S

Mimus said...

Tss, stupid Ietrin! Doesn't he know that a catchphrase has to be recreated just as it was before? xD

Ah, sorry, I confused it with "Mantis", I think. ^^'

Actually, "The 10th Kingdom" is a mini-TV-series from 1999 based off of the Grimm fairytales. And it was Prince Wendell, not Wenzel. *facepalm*
"Mimus", however, is a book, though I don't know how easily you will find it in English. I know that it was translated into English - and even kept the same title -, but I don't know how well it sold outside of Germany...

Van said...

XD

Interesting! I'll have to see if I can find the mini-series anywhere. I can always scrounge around for the book as well.

morgaine2005 said...

I saw that miniseries! I enjoyed it a lot -- watch it if you can find it, Van! :)

And Ietrin! Here I was thinking that he was showing some improvements over Roderick. Would Roderick have ever admitted that Naroni was politically and economically a backwater? Would he have acquiesced so easily to a Severin/Raia-led plan to rectify that? Would he not have insisted that there would be no university unless his statue was placed in the quad, first thing, before even the buildings went up?

Mistress Stephane was also awesome! I love how she handed Ietrin's ass to him in only five minutes. Excellent. He needs more of that treatment. Much, much more.

And if it weren't casting disparagement on future-Queen Dea's kingdom, I'd say an ass would be the perfect symbol of Naroni ... or at least its rulers ...

One more thing! When is that contest for naming rights to Naroni U to be? Because I have an idea for the name, even if it does mean I'll be stealing a page out of Order of the Phoenix. ;)

Van said...

A second endorsement! Now I'll definitely have to look around.

It is true that Ietrin is--in the grand scheme of things--a better king than Roderick. A worse person, but a better king, with a better sense of the political and economic situations. And I imagine any statues he wants will be placed after the buildings go up.

Good to know that she had a good first showing! Ietrin absolutely needed to see his own ass placed in front of his face, and not just an ass on a crest.

I was thinking the contest would be led in by a post (probably one with a Florian in it!). And as long as it's not straight up "Hogwarts", referential names are as good as any others. :)