December 18, 2015

In Which Celina Is Thrice More Surprised

December 20, 1196

"I must say, though, cousin," Celina started as Oswald released her from their hug, "the only thing more surprising than your previous letter stating you intended to spend Christmas in Naroni is the fact that you've apparently chosen to come and see me before Dea--or any of your nieces and nephews."

"Don't worry about my nieces and nephews; I'll have ample time to see them all, and their children. But you are my first cousin, and we did grow up side by side. Besides, in truth--" Oswald straightened his stance, now less a cousin and more a seasoned king. "--the reason I chose to come here in the first place was to discuss something with you."

"Oh?" Now there were two things more surprising than his letter. "I can't say I immediately see what business with a twice-widowed mother of a duke would be urgent enough to make the King of Dovia spend Christmas abroad."

"International relations. I will of course relay to Dea all of which you don't deem to keep private, but I thought it disrespectful not to talk to you first. I don't know how much you here in Naroni hear about sentiment in Dovia below the ruling class, but until the university opened, most in my kingdom scarcely paid yours a thought." Not unsurprising--apart from the occasional scandal, not much that happened in Naroni could have been of particular interest to the average Dovian merchant or farmer. "However, now that the university has become prominent and the people have a reason to consider Naroni's existence, they've grown somewhat wary of it. Some think you've forgotten your Dovian roots, or perhaps are trying to surpass us intellectually. The more paranoid of the populace are even talking about a potential attempt to conquer Dovia."

Conquer Dovia? Celina would have laughed if not for the implications of such unfounded panic. "That's absurd! We scarcely have the military might to defend our own borders, much less launch an offensive. Besides, Dea has no interest in unmotivated warfare."

"You and I both know that, but the people of Dovia do not. I doubt the unrest would settle unless a firm formal arrangement could be reached." Oswald crossed his arms, gold ring a stark contrast with his now-silver hair. "Which is why I propose that you and I marry."

And that was a third more surprising thing. "You and I. Marry."

"I know it must be a shocking idea, but hear me out: there's no need for either of our respective lifestyles to change. I will of course keep living in Dovia, and you will stay in Naroni, and we'll see each other just often enough to avoid divorce in absentia. If the Queen of Dovia--the Dovian-born Queen of Dovia--were to live in Naroni, to work closely with the Naronian rulers, then perhaps the Dovian people will feel as if they have some representation in the daughter kingdom."

"Or they could feel as if a Queen of Dovia--who has lived in Naroni most of her adult life and birthed the Duke of Armion--living in Naroni and working closely with the Naronian rulers could very well be a double agent eager to make this Naronian invasion a reality."

"Not impossible--but, the people trust my judgment, if Searle Minara's intelligence network is to be believed, and they were fond of your mother and fond of you. So long as you wear your new title proudly, they will accept you as Dovia's ambassador. And you needn't worry about me whispering my political agenda into your ear; all I ask is some advance notice on any developments that might affect my kingdom, and otherwise I will leave both you and Naroni to act according to your own judgment."

"Hmm. Fair enough." Though, in all honesty, she hadn't expected to marry again--even if it did affect her own life minimally. "But I will have to think about it."

"Of course. I'll tell you what: if you choose to accept, come to my castle in Dovia before your birthday in the year after this next, and we will marry there. If you choose not to, then there will be no hard feelings, and I will figure out another way to reassure the populace."

Celina nodded. A year and a half was a significant chunk of time. She would have her decision by then. "Fair enough."



Van said...

Goodbye, 1196.

Winter said...

Inferiority complex much, Dovia? The only invasion plans in Naroni are for the pants of others. XD

The title of queen would only be enhanced by Celina, and she would be an excellent ambassador of sorts... but only if she wants to be. I'm glad she has time to think about it and discuss it with the relevant people. I can't imagine anyone pushing her either way, but I'm sure Lorn, at least, would see some practical good in it, if she so chooses.

Van said...

Ha! A Naronian doesn't care about the sword in the hand, just the one between the legs. I guess Dovians (the non-Kemorins, anyway) aren't quiiiite so base-desire-driven. XD

There aren't many people who deserve the title of queen more than Celina. She cares a lot about the people of both Naroni and Dovia, and she'd do an excellent job of being an ambassador while still maintaining the interests of Naroni. But yeah, it's not a decision to be made lightly, and she will want to bring in a few third-party opinions from people she trusts. Lorn will probably be pro-Queen Celina, but he knows better than to usurp decisions from his own mother if she decides against it. :)