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 Low Tea, Grosvnersburg | Isaiah & Tobias
Isaiah Grosvner
 Posted: Aug 18 2014, 02:21 AM
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The Count of Hoei was seated in his study engrossed in the tedious but important task of responding to enquiries and the occasional well wish. Isaiah's work was cut out for him for there was a multitude to slowly carry on with when he found spare time to do so. He might not have ever held any higher rank, but he remained one of the most important men in the realm and with a simple stroke of the quill. His signature signed in ink along with his seal did more than the current King, along with his two predecessors, to try to bring some sense of stability to the realm. Having stressed over this monumental undertaking years ago, age has not been kind upon him. While his parents had aged gracefully, already his hair had went grey and that was still better than losing it completely. Fine lines had formed upon his face, to some with more denigrating vocabulary it could be deemed wrinkles.

Lending money was easy enough, collecting upon it with interest was an entirely different matter altogether. There was a reputation to maintain of always collecting upon debts, regardless of class and station - except when it came to Dukes and Kings, a fickle lot he was far more hesitant to extend loans. The Crown was already in significant debt to the Grosvner family, along with the soon to be restructured Sandford Commerce Guild. Indeed, that was another matter he would have to be enquiring further upon as he sought to scrub the abhorrent Sandford name and carry on the expanding monopoly under a different brand. Completing his series of letters to the few people involved in that projected, they were passed along to a top aide with orders to be sent through the appropriate channels.

Finally, Lord Alcazar arrived to usher Count Grosvner into a nearby lounge where the tables were being set for trays of pastries and tea. Soon the foreign guest would arrive and thus it required a good host to be prepared and look the part.
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Tobias Danum
 Posted: Aug 21 2014, 01:32 PM
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Tobias had made every effort in getting ready for this meeting with Count Grosvner. His best clothes had been washed and pressed by his landlady; and his lovely new friend, Mia, had been very handy in being his own personal barber. Last but not least, the landlord had provided a drink of Keylean speciality, that snapped Tobias awake and stole away the last traces of hangover.
Tobias had to admit that if he took anything away with him from his Keylean adventure, it would be that marvellous drink.

Tobias travelled in the Count's carriage, calmly watching the sunny scene pass by. He ran over what he knew about the Grosvner family - most of the information was ten years old. Some of it Tobias hardly believed, the rest... well...

Eventually they rolled up to the impressive estate. Tobias looked out at the castle, it reminded Tobias of Bordeveux architecture, compared to the rest of the buildings he had witnessed in Keylea. Oh, but on a much grander scale. Tobias smirked at his thoughts, and brushed down his navy tunic, straightening the brass buttons.

They came to a stop and the door was opened by a smart servant who bowed his head and stood aside for Tobias to alight.
The young lord squinted in the bright sunlight as he stepped out. He took a moment to take in the scene, before turning the the man that hovered in the courtyard.
"Lord Blackthorn, allow me to show you in."

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Isaiah Grosvner
 Posted: Nov 23 2014, 04:20 AM
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Patiently waiting - oh, come on, let’s be honest; the Count of Hoei wasn’t a man known for patience in matters of business. Perhaps age, or bitterness, had made him miserable in his old age but he preferred to get straight to the point these days. He had spent much of his life trying to be patient, biding his time and yet none of his hopes and aspirations had yet come to fruition. Isaiah wasn’t getting any younger and his gout was an absolute pain in the ass. Sleep was a pleasure that eluded him as he tossed and turned through the wee hours of early morn’, hairs graying as his once glorious crown of hair joined him on his journey into the twilight of his life. The stress had not been kind upon him, spending more time secluded in his expansive estate growing pale in the realm’s warmest region with the most sun. Wizened and perhaps slightly wiser, he knew time was no longer upon his side. Faded like the former glory of his ancestry, he’d grow angry as he thought about his youthful sanctimony, neglecting to enjoy the temporal pleasures because of a pious zeal. The wine offered refuge as he’d drink days away in private, but the drug that cured his stress triggered the pain of his gout. The sweet sun-kissed delights of Kelyean grapes were the embodiment of his ambivalence.

Transfixed upon the arranged porcelain tea set, the tea had not arrived. It wouldn’t until Lord Blackthorn was seated across from him. In the exact middle of the room were set two armchairs and a generous mahogany coffee table upon a meticulously patterned rug. The large hearth was covered with an iron screen with many immaculate curves with floral shapes to match the fleur-de-lis designs upon the indigo and gold silk wall coverings. Perched atop the mantle a bust of Alexander Grosvner V, the first Duke of Kelyea after bringing the Dominion of Kelyea into union with the LaRoux family that ruled Fexlund and Rodan. Many such artifacts and other antique pieces furnished the expansive chambers of the Grosvner estate. Indeed there was a portrait of the late Cyrus Grosvner upon the wall in the room.

His reminiscing was interrupted by the sound of boots walking along the marble halls. One of his attendants had arrived with his guest, the guard outside opening the door for his master’s guest. Once Tobias was in, Lord Alcazar took his leave and sent for the tea to be fetched. Without delay Isaiah rose from his seat, extending his hand to the Bordevaux aristocrat. “Lord Blackthorn, welcome!” A servant entered to bring a fairly large teapot to place upon a tray, quickly hurrying out to not disturb her master and his guest. “Pray be seated,” he gestured, straight to business. Already he had lingered too long in thought while waiting, there wasn’t a moment further to lose. Pouring tea in to the cup of his guest and then himself, he was quick to add milk and sugar. It was his favorite, the oil of bergamot (Earl Grey tea). “You humbly requested a meeting, Lord Blackthorn. I am most interested to ascertain which matter of business is upon your mind,” he spoke politely, clearly wanting to cut to the chase. There was no need to beat around the bush with niceties.

This post has been edited by Isaiah Grosvner: Nov 23 2014, 04:49 AM
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Tobias Danum
 Posted: Nov 23 2014, 05:09 PM
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Tobias turned to the servant.

"There is a case of wine in the carriage. Can you see that it is brought along?"

He asked with a vague wave towards the carriage.
The servant bowed his head in compliance and signalled a lower-ranking servant to undertake the heavy carrying.

With everything organised, Tobias followed the first chap through the main doors and into the entrance hall. He couldn't help but look up and take in the grand room. Hell, this was just the entrance hall! Tobias had seen many splendid houses across Bordevaux and Tetel'ac, but this might be the largest he had been in.

Tobias reined in his interest and followed in the servant's footsteps. Finally he led to a room with a table and... Tobias hoped those ornate armchairs were more comfortable than they looked.
Tobias met Isaiah's eye as the older gentleman rose to greet him.

"Count Grosvner, thank you for agreeing to see me."

Tobias replied. He sat and positioned himself so that he could help himself to the tea that was poured for him. He kept it black, unable to adapt to this Tetel'ac habit of sweetening everything.
Tobias' dark brown eyes looked up to the Count. So the old man wanted to jump straight to business, very well.

"I believe that we are moving into a time when Bordevaux will seek stronger business connections with Tetel'ac. I want to be ahead of the trend. My family control most of the western vineyards... I have brought a case of wine for you, Count. I hope you don't mind, I asked one of your men to bring it for your pleasure."

Tobias glanced over his shoulder at the servant who held the wooden crate that clinked with glass. Wooden barrels would be the most sensible for trading, but nothing beat a bottle for sampling.

"I am looking to set up a supply chain that will allow Bordevaux to buy all the luxuries that Tetel'ac has to offer. The Grosvner family are well-known for their long-standing business savvy, I am sure that any business I conduct will be connected to your good selves, whether directly or indirectly."

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Isaiah Grosvner
 Posted: Nov 24 2014, 03:02 AM
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The Count of Hoei watched as his guest entered, intently examining the man’s demeanor. Was their encounter by chance, or meticulously planned by an ambitious young noble that hoped to meet with the Grosvner patriarch? Many had tried, some successful and others not. The issue that perplexed the Count was that the foreign noble could have arranged to meet by simply writing a letter, foreign nobility were often treated graciously as guests. Something was off, in Isaiah’s mind, about this young Lord Blackthorn.

“It is my pleasure to host a visiting Bordevaux dignitary,” he chimed, years of courtly etiquette coming second nature to him. The firm handshake complete, he backed up to assume his seat and waved for his guest to do the same; it would be rude to leave the man standing. The backrest of the chair allowed for them to be seated upright, but the seats were not uncomfortable. On the contrary, Count Grosvner had much of his furniture fortified with cushioning to offer comfort and relief from the pains that plagued him. While he stirred the sugar and milk in with his tea, he noticed his guest’s preference for the delight to be consumed straight - to each his own.

Tobias was prompt to state his business, much to Isaiah’s satisfaction. Isaiah glanced towards the crate, bidding the servant to bring it over and then leave. “How many varieties have you brought?” The question was with merit, for sampling one was much simpler than many; but it didn’t matter for there were plenty of biscuit crackers upon the table. Wine was all the same to an ignorant simpleton, or a drunkard King, but to an experienced connoisseur nuanced and specific. Bordevaux grew different grapes and thus produced wines different from Kelyea, but no less enjoyable. Hanalei may have exported great volumes of wine but it also imported wine.

Before he could reach a bottle, his head perked as the next words caught the Count’s attention. Oh, he had been listening before but the mention of a supply chain in Bordevaux was music to his ears. Tetel’ac had many goods to offer, native and imported through Hanalei. “A supply chain you say? Now that’s a hell of an arrangement, if we can pull it off.” Isaiah's eyes were now clearly focused upon his guest. There was a lot of gold to be made, by both Tobias and Isaiah, if this were to be successful. But it wasn’t going to be easy. Already his mind was calculating scenarios and obstacles, the things any man worth his salt would ponder before dreaming of - or yearning for - immense profit and gold.
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Tobias Danum
 Posted: Nov 26 2014, 04:30 PM
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"Why thank you, Count. I hope this is the first of many meetings."

Tobias replied, sipping at the fine tea, before raising the cup for inspection. It was a fine china, in keeping with everything else he had seen so far of the Grosvner style. Although he was far from an expert in crockery, he appreciated beauty, especially expensive beauty.
His eyes moved to the crate that was carried across the room and set beside them.

"There are two bottles of Blackthorn red; two white; and two Danum red."

Tobias explained. The Danum wine was popular and smooth. He found the Blackthorn wines much stronger, the red so rich it was served in tiny crystal glasses; and the white as sweet as honey, and almost yellow.
He smiled, tempted to express this, but he thought the wines would sell themselves better than he could put into words.
Tobias noticed the sudden perk of interest from the Count. Ah, so he had gained the old man's attention!

"Mais oui, it is ambitious, monsieur, but I do not think success will come from meek actions."

Tobias took another sip of the cooling tea. A smile flickered upon his lips. He had not missed the mention of 'we'. It was very encouraging for the young "businessman".

"Bordevaux is in a time of change, it has lost a major point of contention regarding ties with Tetel'ac. They have already sent a Bordevaux Ambassador to your court; I believe it is the beginning of new possibilities."

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Isaiah Grosvner
 Posted: Nov 27 2014, 03:57 PM
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Isaiah was fortunate that much of the family belongings were passed down, as he would have certainly taken the path far cheaper than some of his predecessors. Playing the part of the gracious host he nodded his head, receiving the thankful reply. “Unfortunately, Lord Blackthorn, hope is overrated.”

The Count was firm in his statement; a sentiment learned the hard way from experience. The political realities of Tetel’ac had crushed the hopes of many ambitious lords and ladies. Isaiah was at least grateful to have his wits about him and his head intact - others weren’t so fortunate.

“That being said, you can be certain there will be further meetings if our efforts are brought to fruition,” he elaborated, to offer faint assurance.

Pausing on the matter of business, there were some hospitable gifts to inspect. Removing the lid of the crate, the Count proceeded with examining the bottles. He separated them upon the table into the three groups: white, Blackthorn and Danum. Having paid attention to Tobias’ explanation, he decided to start with the ‘popular and smooth’ Danum red wine. His guest was vague, for he had not identified the grape.

“Pinot Noir! My, my, the Danum estate has come very far in their craft, a most delightful dry wine.” He smiled, gracefully placing a cracker in his mouth followed by a sip of water so as to prepare for the next. Proceeding on to the next wine, the Blackthorn red, once more the Count of Hoei used his corkscrew to remove the cork and poured a little into another wine glass that he brought over from a nearby cabinet stocked with various glasses and bottles of Kelyean wines.

“Are the Blackthorn vineyards located at a higher altitude? If I’m not mistaken this would be a Malbec variety, a grape that is very dear to my taste.”

Even the best of connoisseurs were prone to mistakes in identifying wine types, but considering that grape was one of his favorites to consume the Count hoped he was correct. Nonetheless, the cracker and water process was followed once more as Isaiah opened the fine bottle and poured the white variety. Just smelling the aroma, he knew that he was expecting something sweet and heavenly. Isaiah didn’t sip yet, instead returning to their conversation.

The Count nodded, agreeing with Lord Blackthorn’s statement. Bringing the crystal to his lip, he took a sip of the sweet white wine and paused. He realized something about this particular wine that led him to believe it wasn’t from Bordevaux, but yet there was still a chance the right conditions may occur in a certain area to produce this complex result. Sauternes was extremely rare and was very rigorous to achieve. Count Grosvner had been working on that process where the two rivers converged on the present border of Kelyea and Fexlund as those conditions were most opportune but so far it was still a work in progress. It was the only location in all of Tetel’ac where it could be remotely possible to attempt to produce Sauternes.

“Which tie with Tetel’ac would that be?” It was obvious, but Isaiah wished to hear it straight from the Bordevaux man’s mouth. “And further, tell me what you think of this new ambassador? Is he worth his salt?”

Isaiah was aware of the new ambassador, but he had not been at court for some time and would likely be busy in Kelyea for some time. He wondered how Bordevaux nobles viewed each other; perhaps the King’s man in Tetel’ac was a rival of this young Lord Blackthorn. Count Grosvner still hadn’t offered his verdict upon the white wine, nor had the details of this supply chain been discussed along with the obstacles. Shortly.
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Tobias Danum
 Posted: Nov 30 2014, 11:57 AM
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Tobias glanced away as the Count's firm statement dismissed any guarantee of future meetings. Hmm, what a shame. Tobias had the feeling that there would definitely be more meetings, although he doubted they would be so civil.
Tobias smiled as Isaiah attempted to balance his statement. Surely the infamously entrepreneurial Grosvner family could overlook Tobias' youth for his vision.

"Ah, I am glad you think so. The Côt Noir has always proven popular, it is usually the first choice for nobles to bring with them to Tetel'ac. You are very astute in your knowledge of grapes."

Tobias couldn't help the touch of smugness to his smile as the Count moved onto white wine. If he was impressed by the first two, the third would seal the deal. It was very hard to produce, and quite rare. It was possibly unfair of Tobias to include it, as he couldn't honestly guarantee that he could provide it. But he wanted to impress Grosvner, and he never did care too much about honesty.

"Hmm? Oh, why the question over whether or not Bordevaux bloodlines would sit on the throne of Tetel'ac. It may not have ended in a way that suited the Bordevaux court, but now it is finished, we must make the most of it, no?"

Tobias said quite dismissively. The past was the past. It might be his duty to revenge his cousin, but he did not feel upset at her death, and anger now would only close the door he had been careful to open.

"I know Monsieur Chapuys from court. He means well, I believe he is a more honest man than his predecessor. But I do wonder whether he has the strength to hold the position long - he has his weaknesses."

Tobias rattled on about Felix. They had never been particular friends in Bordevaux; nor had they been enemies. Perhaps the natural neutrality was why the King had named him ambassador. Tobias' name had come up during discussions, but it had been laughed down; who would send the lazy and selfish second son of Lord Blackthorn as a representative!

"Now, I have secured rights at the cove of Saumur. It is a failing fishing village - they have welcomed the opportunity to be the newest export port. The taxes from other shipping businesses will cover my own boats... Pardon, I am running away with myself."

Tobias held up a hand as he stopped himself from spilling every business secret.

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Isaiah Grosvner
 Posted: Nov 30 2014, 05:56 PM
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There would be meetings, contingent upon the success of their endeavors. Before them was a task that required immense political capital and willpower. To Lord Blackthorn’s credit, he sought out the best man to discuss business in all of Tetel’ac. Tobias had caught the attention of a man that is regarded as highly mercurial and difficult to please.

“If there is any delightful divinity in this world, good sir, it is wine. Life is short enough as it is, I’ve come to the conclusion we should enjoy what we can while we are able,” he said with a sigh, perhaps reminiscing and speaking from experience. He had despised his mother’s debauchery and scheming, but also being displeased of his father’s lack of courage. Cyrus decided to hide behind formalities and wine, tending to his vineyards and bottles rather than to confront his wife. Isaiah had spent too much of his life sober and that was dreadfully somber.

“I must insist to the meet the vintners of this Sauternes. Would you be able to send them an invitation on my behalf?” More so than their wine, it was their specific knowledge that Isaiah desired. Finishing the first glass of Sauternes, he treated himself to a second. Gout be damned, he would pay for this indulgence later.

Thus the topic he expected did arrive, but the foreigner was quick to downplay it. Of course, the Count of Hoei was perhaps the most at liberty to speak openly on the matter considering the heavy debts of the crown. “There is nothing more to make of it, there is no Bordevaux bloodline upon the throne in this new dynasty.” The truth was a harsh pill to swallow, he was curious to see how Tobias took it. “How does that make you feel?” No doubt there was some disappointed sentiment in Bordevaux, but then Isaiah wasn’t sure if House Danum was as unpopular in its native land as it was in Tetel’ac.

Isaiah nodded his head, listening to what Lord Blackthorn had to say regarding his sovereign’s representative in Tetel’ac. Many diplomats arrived in Tetel’ac by sea, but spent much of their time in the capital; thus the Count of Hoei didn’t always get to meet or entertain all of them, especially those that arrived by land. The talk of ambassadors was boring, sure they served a purpose, but the main purpose of this present meeting was the mutual interests of Lords Grosvner and Blackthorn.

“Where is Saumar?” Isaiah was pretty sure he knew his coastal geography very well, there wasn’t a Grosvner male in recent generations that had not served at sea in some capacity. Bordevaux was a landlocked realm, perhaps with lakes and rivers but no open sea or port. River trade was feasible, along with merchant caravans, but going through Fallon would make this arrangement a bit more complex. Already they’d both need to get approval from their Kings, goodness forbid a royal ruler is not informed of trade deals between his vassals and those of other lands.
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Tobias Danum
 Posted: Dec 7 2014, 11:51 AM
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Tobias bowed his head in acquiescence. That was precisely his view on things! Life was far too short to not enjoy oneself. Tobias was always ready to indulge in drink and good company; as a measly second son in a good noble family, it was almost expected of him. Until he had been officially adopted as his uncle's heir.

"You are most welcome to visit our vineyards at any time, Count Grosvner."

Tobias wondered if the Count would actually take him up on the invitation. Most people were put off by the long distance and questionable political tension. But Tobias was sure that he had read a report that the Grosvners had personally attended the trade meetings in Aknatar. Tobias couldn't for he life of him figure out why anyone would go to that hell hole voluntarily. He had never heard anything about the place that made him want to visit.

"I would be honoured to do so, Count Grosvner. They will be thrilled by the compliment. I hope you are not planning on stealing them away from me!"

Tobias smiled at the very idea. The Bordevaux were typically proud people, tied to their land. But then, every man had his price.
Tobias watched as Isaiah helped himself to a second glass of the Sauternes. Always a good sign.
His eyes narrowed a little as the Count tried to lead him back to the major change for their nations.

"Monarchies are as liable to change as anything in this world. Kings like to promote the image that their line is ever-lasting, but truthfully there is nothing more fragile... well, perhaps queens. Our own King Bastian has also recently remarried."

Tobias said honestly, even if he kept it somewhat correct.
He shrugged, going on to give a more opinionated answer.

"Personally, I think how Roland treated Lady Rhiann was very poor. He used her resources, then went back on all of his promises to her. To flaunt the crown before her for so long... knowing of her reputation, I am surprised he survived. What is your opinion, good Count?"

Tobias helped himself to more tea as he waited for the Count to relay his answer. The young Lord mused over the query into his little fishing village.

"Saumur is on the coast where the River Don meets the sea. It is to the West of the Danum Dukedom. It, ah, is technically Fallan land; but it has been gifted on account of my engagement to Lady de Lancret."

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Isaiah Grosvner
 Posted: Dec 21 2014, 03:34 AM
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“I hope the future grants me an excursion to these vineyards,” he responded graciously, without committing to it. Things were far too volatile at this time to go gallivanting in foreign lands. It was likely his guest would be back in Bordevaux if his own homeland were imperiled by intrigue and civil war. The production and distribution of wine was as much an icebreaker as a glass of the stuff at a social gathering. He didn’t plan to steal such vintners, only to learn their knowledge and techniques, offering an exchange of coin for such experience to be passed upon to their Kelyean counterparts.

Isaiah nodded in agreement, raising his glass in agreement to his guest. While blood offered a claim, only might made right. Power was a curious thing; perhaps a trick, and it could easily change given any circumstance. The Count of Hoei had spent a long time legitimizing gold as the only means of power; what good could arms, men and prowess in battle do if a lord could not afford to supply his forces or pay to conduct war? It was because of incompetent generals, mere blunt instruments the lot of them, that Tetel’ac had lost a lot of money with the problems in Aknatar. On the other hand, the Grosvner family had profited quite well from that mess.

“Perhaps, in the end, Roland was less a fool than many had thought?” The man’s strategy, if there was one, resulted in him seizing the crown and not sharing in the spoils with those that helped him take it. Isaiah had no part in that mess, he had carefully taken a neutral stance after the mess he inherited from his late mother. “Lady Danum, as it is hard to know which name to refer to her by, well she was a capable woman. She was wise and efficient,” essentially, ruthless, without saying as much. To think that she had long been the mastermind of many contests for power and had always won, until the day Isaiah made a suggestion. Yet, even there, she had chosen death herself - and that disturbed him still.

He wasn’t a friend of hers; he learned that like all others who find themselves pieces in her game of chess. Yet even the greatest fall every once in a while, the price one pays when the stakes are higher being significant. He didn’t envy her one bit, nor did he desire that kind of power. The throne, or crown, was never his goal. So long as everyone was indebted to him he was content. The challenge was worthy for it would never be accomplished, but at the very least it perpetuated indebtedness and those who owed him.

“My congratulations on your engagement.” The stringent lord was not one to bring up such topics, but he would pay his respects when he was made aware of such details. However, it didn’t take long for him to return to the business at hand. “If it is by sea, that will make this arrangement far simpler,” he replied, quite pleased. He wouldn’t have to go grovel to Roland for permission to initiate a preferential land-trade route into Bordevaux. He already knew what the King would demand, more money for the dwindling coffers. If it was by sea, he could just bypass that entire bureaucratic nuisance.
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Tobias Danum
 Posted: Dec 22 2014, 04:37 PM
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Tobias traced the fine china in his hand, listening to the Count's opinion of Roland. Tobias raised a questioning brow - less a fool?

"He has long been Regesvard, no? And survived twenty years of marriage to a Black Widow. We must assume he has intellect. But I think his lack of nobility has been unveiled. How long will his friends support him when he can betray promises so easily?"

Tobias replied with a vague wave of his hand. Roland had gained the throne, and held it with questionable legitimacy. It was delightfully fragile, Tobias had witnessed that people felt no passionate loyalty for their king - he was merely a man that promoted peace.
Tobias bit his tongue at the mention of names. Lady Danum; Cousin Rhiann, she had had so many.

"Did you know Lady Danum well, Count?"

Tobias asked with innocent curiosity, his brown eyes betraying nothing of his thoughts. He was not sure how well the Count had known his cousin in life, but he had already heard how close they were at her death.

Tobias smiled and tilted his head in acknowledgement of the congratulations. It was a political match, that would strengthen both of their families, if everything went as planned. Heaven forbid that Tobias should be a soppy, love-dazed fool like his cousin Edmund.
Business was much more important at this time.

"I am glad you agree, Count. Once I secured sea access and rights to port, I knew that I had to approach you."

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