Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Mister Thirteen
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Cromley’s Mouth slightly parted, a small jibbery noise slipping from his throat, as he was caught off guard by Cecilia’s blunt rejection toward his mercenary aid. While not angered or upset, he was slightly confused. Surely she realized that she would need more than the protection of a single knight! Not to mention an army on hand if some immediate danger were to rise anytime soon. He opened his mouth to speak when Baron Monticourt abruptly raised his right hand toward Cromley, indicating silence, which resulted in an indignant stare from Cromley at Monticourt.

The Baron gave Cromley a warning expression, causing Cromley to shrink back like a turtle into it’s shell. Monticourt then turned to Cecilia with a softened expression, saying,”Your Highness, I understand your feelings regarding aid from mercenaries. I myself aren’t very keen on sellswords. But still, though honorless and strictly driven by money, we are still in need of some kind of protectorate military force. Capable as he is, I doubt Sir Harper here could protect you against an entire platoon of Malva’s men come to arrest you.”

Harper gave a sideways grin at no one in particular, his bleach mustache arching slightly.
Monticourt continued,”I understand, a true ruler wishes to be backed by loyalty, not those out for their own gain. But Your Highness, right now you just haven’t the adequate following for such a leisure. We would have to gain more support.”

Monticourt paused for a minute, in which Cromley took advantage to speak once more, though his tone was rather submissive compared to earlier,”You wouldn’t have to rely on them for long, M’Lady, just long enough until we secured further support. And they’d never have to know who you were. They’re the type to not ask questions, so they wouldn’t know anything, as we wouldn’t tell them.”

The Baron gave a slight nod and concluded,”Ultimately though, it’s up to you Your Ladyship. If you truly don’t want this, the mercenaries I mean, then we’ll close the book on it and forget it. Though personally, I would recommend it. But, it’s your decision.”

Cromley gave a rather hesitant nod, while Harper simply raised his eyebrows and turned his gaze rather casually across the room.
Hidden 1 yr ago Post by beccablob
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Cecilia listened to Monticourt's calm reasoning, her lips tight. He was right, of course. An army of loyal followers was a luxury that she simply did not have. Her sharp gaze flickered from the two talking men to eye Harper curiously. He didn't say much, that one. Just looked around and made odd faces. While he seemed a bit strange, he was at the very least loyal, and that was all that she could ask for in her position.

Turning back to Monticourt and Cromley, Cecilia tilted her chin down in a curt nod. "Very well, then. You may hire some mercenaries, but only on the condition that they are not privy to who I am, what we are doing, or where we are going beyond town immediately ahead of us." She paused and met the gaze of each man in turn. Her eyes lingered on Harper the longest, not because she enjoyed staring at him, but because it seemed to take half a second longer to truly get the acknowledgment from him that she was seeking.

"Anyone working for us out of gold instead of allegiance will be left in the dark on any matter that does not directly concern them. The last thing we need is anyone associated with my aunt being given the opportunity to get a step ahead of us." Apparently all those years of sitting silently at her father's side while he conducted meetings with his counsel had paid off. While she had not paid much attention at the time, some of it must have sunk in.

With that settled, the princess decided that it was time to move on to the next matter.

"Where will we be meeting these potential allies that you mentioned, Baron Monticourt?" she asked, addressing him directly this time. "I somehow suspect that it isn't safe for anyone involved here to keep me in one place for long with Her Grace's men scouring the countryside in search of me."
Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Mister Thirteen
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The Baron nodded in understanding, as did Cromley, though a little too eagerly, as he suppressed a slight smile that quirked against the wrinkled corners of his mouth. The Baron shifted in his seat as Cecilia asked her next question. He gave his white beard a short scratch and then responded in turn.
“The meeting, Your Highness, will be at Castle Galladorn, several leagues to the northwest of Rosaldia. Duke Henry Beldingford is a close friend of mine, and rules from the castle. I truly believe he will support our cause. He and the grand majority of his men and subjects supported your father, and hold a great dislike for Malva. When he learns that your with us and of our intentions, I know he’ll join us.”

“Don’t forget to tell her about the other two.” Cromley chimed in.

“Of course,” the Baron retorted,”Lord Timofey Pennington of my city Rosaldia, and General Erik of Westmere. They too will be at the meeting.”

“Lord Pennington is a senior member of the Merchant’s Guild, and a close business partner of mine.” Cromley stated.

The Alvion Merchant’s Guild was the dominating force of Alvion’s economy. While their headquarters was in Rosaldia, they had branches and extensions in every major city in Alvion, as well as in certain large towns as well. Members of the guild were well-connected, extremely wealthy, and astute businessmen. The Merchant’s Guild has monopolies on both the shipping industry and cross-country trade in Alvion. Out of every five merchant ships or trade caravans, four of them are tied to the Merchant’s Guild. The guild also has connections and ties to several notable lords and politicians across the kingdom. Several of Malva’s top financial supporters in fact were senior members of the guild themselves. Needless to say, an inside man on the Merchant’s Guild would prove to be a fine asset.

“Lord Pennington is no supporter of Malva,” Baron Monticourt said,”he doesn’t lick her feet nor does he attend her son Malcom’s lavish parties and balls. He in fact spoke out against her a time or two when she first rose to power. So it’s no surprise he’s on the outs with her.”

“Malva’s supporters have been trying to ruin him for years,” Cromley said,”the only thing that’s saved him is his own connections and wealth, not to mention his wit. He’ll make a fine addition to our coalition, M’Lady.”

“And then there’s General Erik of Westmere,” Monticourt said,”a capable soldier and a fine strategist. He too was loyal to King William, and I’m sure he’ll also support your claim to the throne. With these three men part of the Loyalist fold, we’ll have the assets we need to make our first real move against Malva. We’re to meet them all at Castle Galladorn in one week, Your Highness.”
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Beldingford and Pennington were vaguely familiar names. Though she could not recall what they looked like, Cecilia was rather certain that she could recall these men in her father's company when she was a girl. That had all seemed so long ago... Now she was here conversing with her own 'counsel' of sorts.

Her lips quirked into a small smile at the mention of Pennington openly speaking out against Malva. Not many in the kingdom had the nerve to do something so bold... she looked forward to meeting him already. And a member of the Guild would be invaluable.

Their first real move. This was all moving so quickly, yet somehow she felt as if she had been sitting at the table for hours already. Her stomach growled slightly in protest, calling her bluff from earlier about not needing breakfast. It was hard to tell time from within the cellar, but surely lunchtime was fast approaching.

"It will be my pleasure to meet with these men," Cecilia said. "As I said, I'm in your debt, sirs. Without your help, my head would be the latest decoration at Proud Spire." Her half-smile turned into something that almost resembled a grimace at the thought. She wondered how Malcolm had reacted when she failed to make her grand appearance...

She brought her hands together and entwined her fingers, smiling at each of the Loyalists in turn. "So one week until Castle Galladorn," she repeated. "I suppose I'll just have to stay down here until then?" She made a point to glance around her cellar, taking in the glorious sights. It was better than the dungeon, of course... but it was still beneath the ground.

She exhaled softly through her nose, making an almost sad sound. "I don't suppose it would be possible to go outside, would it?" she asked, looking back to the three men with wide eyes. She looked almost girlish by the way she batted her eyelashes. Now that all of the business was taken care of, there were things that she missed so much that she longed to do again.
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