The Narrator

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    "The first few days of Cloudreach I believe." He answered, then he confirmed that her parents should arrive within the next week and that the wedding would be planned for the thirteenth of the month. With that decided Laurent told them he would leave them to their plans, and their time to get to know one another. It was better then some marriages where the bride and groom met perhaps only once before the nuptials! At least Marcel had been able to select his own bride. Saying goodbye to them both the Comte made his way inside. Though he was still tired and in need of recovering further from his ailment, he still dispatched letters, invites and orders and the like. It was going to be a busy fortnight but Laurent was just so happy he got to be a part of this wedding, having no idea that the reason he'd been too sick to do anything to last few years was because his own son had been poisoning him... [exuent Laurent] [ooc: feel free to continue the thread as a 1x1.]
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    "I have seen both and can attest to it." Nicolas said with a smile. He was sure his dear Elodie would not approve of him commenting on such things but there were no women present, just he and the Marquis of the city. "Then it is settled. You shall both come to my party this summer." Determined to make his bash so fantastic the party in Arlesans would be talked about no more. It was just another part of the Game, even the Grand Dukes would compete! "When can you arrange a meeting with your captains? I want to know the present condition of the border." Nicolas asked, changing the subject as smoothly and easily as he took breathe!
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    The old Rivaini mage nodded, understanding how imperative it was, perhaps more so than Manius himself. He had been connected to the two Triad members who had died recently. It was Tacitus who had been his first contact in Tevinter as well. The Somniari had felt the pain of his absence in the Fade and he mourned him still. The was hope though. The Cato siblings had always been meant to take the places of the two that had passed, except the Somniari had intended on teaching them the magic they needed to know long before they had the permission or even the power to use it in the real world. "I am teaching your sister this in the Fade as well, though I am not sure she believes that I am real." The Somniari smiled, for he liked the young mage, she was entertaining. "When I meet her in the flesh I think she might think she is in the Fade." He revealed. The Somniari was not stalling, he just wanted Manius to relax. Teaching was always more productive when the student was not so tense as the Cato magister currently was. Perhaps talking about his beloved sister would bring levity to Manius' heart?
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    "The sooner the better, I believe!" And with his daughter so far away opportunity would be lacking. "Since Amélie is due for a visit why not have the nuptials then?" That gave them very little time but Laurent was sure the household could pull it off. With the injection of income from his dead sister's estate he had the funds for a lavish wedding for Marcel and he intended on having just that. "We shall see to it. Send for your family, Camille, I look forward to meeting them, albeit close to the wedding day!"
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    "Then I must insist that you attend my party." Nicolas replied, a half smile on his face. It was the first time he had seemed even close to pleased since his arrival, so Fabien had done well indeed. The Grand Duke did not smile often. "I must have the beautiful Valleau - nay Nouvrai - woman in my house. I seem to recall her mother being a beauty too." Nicolas made it seem like he only knew Yvette in passing, but truthfully he knew her very well. Her brother was a fellow Grand Duke, as her father had been. "She has taken your name, I assume?" He asked, raising another eyebrow at the Marquis.
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    Though he was a little surprised at the abruptness of Mathieu's departure he turned back to the stage where the play was now in full swing. Though he did not focus on the players at all - all Francoise could think about was Eleonore. The beautiful girl he had fallen in love with was now a powerful, strong woman and someone he desired even more. If only there was a way to get rid of Patrice? Then he could have everything he wanted...
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    1st Wintermarch, 952 THe Fade Manius, Somniari @Claire, @elnawawi 1x1 The Somniari teaches Manius more about the Triad's magic. The Dreamer and Dumat They were in the Temple of All Gods, in a courtyard that existed in the real world. Here the statues of each god shone brightly, the fountains beneath them pouring light instead of water. It was beautiful, the streams of light flowing around them as they sat cross legged in the centre of the gardens. "The ancient dreamers of Tevinter were always in the highest positions in society, the leaders of the old world." The Somniari told Manius, though he knew the magister already knew this. "Their magic is all but lost to the magisterium and current Circles, but within your religion many of the old spells remain." Yet, there was more. "However, for the clerics of Dumat who protect the Somniari, there is yet another level of Dumat's magic." Rajani already knew most of these spells, she was the only one in Thedas who did - apart from the Somniari. He was not a cleric of Dumat though and he only knew how to teach the magic, not perform it - at least not outside of the Fade. "The first thing any member of the Triad needs to know is how to dull the magic of others in a larger area. It is your greatest defence."
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    "Mathieu, this is not a contest between you and your sister. Until today I had no idea she was even throwing her hat in the ring." Was Mathieu just being paranoid or was there substance to his suspicions? Francoise would have to find out some other way. Via bard or doing it himself, probably at the party. "Your military prowess is not in question. Yet protecting the border requires different tactics to protecting this capital. At least one Protecteur must be a skilled diplomat so that they might have the support of other cities and towns close by, to ensure the best contracts and building, the infrastructure. These are things not needed for the Marquis of Arlesans and they are things your father learned during the mage and templar war, on the heels of the civil war..." Francoise did not want to get bogged down on this subject so he switched their focus suddenly. "Now tell me, how do the preparations go for this party and how might I help?"
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    It was the most chaste of kisses but it lit a fire in Laurent that he had not felt for nearly a decade! The last few years he had believed he'd never feel anything of worth again, unless it was for his children. Yet here it was, evoked by a woman he had known for twenty five years! To show he was happy to "explore" something while she was in Lydes he kissed the top of both of her hands and then respectfully excused himself. Laurent was grateful that he had an evening coat on, one he could button up and hide a certain stiffness! "Until tomorrow then." He told her and bowed as deep as he was able before he shuffled off out of the room.
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    "You and Eléonore... of course." Francoise muttered and sat back in his chair. He had slipped, just a little, showing familiarity with the eldest daughter of Tiberius, more so than one might have expected. The Grand Duke did not see the slip and continued to ponder such an outcome. With Eléonore as Protecteur she would be in Val Royeaux and she would be working with him... closely. "Do you not think holding two titles will be too much?" Francoise countered. "Your own father all but gave your the Marquidom and focused solely on his title in Val Royeaux. You have no heir capable as you were, Mathieu." He was not discounting the Marquis yet, but he did prefer the idea of his sister gaining the title instead and he already thought to recommend her instead of Mathieu, unless the Marquis changed his mind.
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    It was a common practice for minor nobles to serve the higher blood, usually as a governess and sometimes as a nurse, but as a wetnurse? That was rare. It meant Seleste was even closer to the family, and now as Gwen's nurse she was as good as a part of the family. He squinted a little at her compliment, her cheekiness was something that had always marked her out as favoured company but now it just added to her many attributes. The problem was Laurent never take someone so special from his daughter. Perhaps if he had her blessing...? But that was running before he could barely walk! Right now he merely knew he'd fantasied about her, anything deeper was as yet unexplored. Putting his arm around her he repeated his earlier invitation. He wanted her to join him on his walk after breakfast. There was a new slant on time spent with Seleste now but Laurent was ever the gentlemen. Married or a widower he would still treat women with the utmost respect. "So, will you join me?" He asked hopefully.
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    "Your sister's ambitions?" Francoise asked, leaning forward with interest. "To which sister do you refer? They wish to be considered Protecteur?" If Just had been approached by a Durand female for the title he had not shared it with Francoise. "And how do you know of such ambition?" Then he added to clarify his earlier concerns, "And your family reflect the stability of your rule. If you cannot control them then how are we the nobility and the average Orlesian supposed to have confidence in your as a Protecteur? Such could also call into question your title as Marquis." He suggested. It was no idle threat either, since Just had gotten rid of the title of baron, taking all of their lands and wealth, he could easily remove Mathieu as Marquis.
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    And there it was, the Marquis' ambitions revealed. Francoise listened to every word but what he focused on was the mention of internal strife within the family of Durand. This did not surprise him, but he was curious from which quarter this strife came. "If the Durand have internal strife why would His Radiance trust such a family?" The Grand Duke asked, meaning for the question to be provocative. "Already you have the taint of a maleficar attached to your House. Can you expect the people to trust you to protect them when under your nose was a serial killer? A killer mage?" Vincent Durand had been linked to several murders in the capital and some believed he was active in Montsimmard too, the proof found by Templars when they discovered his body.
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    Quite taken aback Laurent had to take a moment to process her revelation. He had not been blind, he had seen how his wife had rejected his daughter so seeing her loved and cared for by Seleste had warmed his heart. Hearing about her feelings for him evoked complications and not just because he felt guilty. It was not because he could not move on from Yvette, but rather this reminded him of temptations he'd had while still married. Though he'd not acted on such at the time he was not sure he'd have remained faithful had Seleste made her feelings known earlier. After his wife's infidelity had been revealed he had certainly been close to finding solace in the arms of another. Revealing such feelings now did not seem to serve a good purpose though, for she was committed to his daughter and he knew Amélie needed her. Laurent had not even contemplated the issue of class status yet either! "Why tell me this now?" He asked, his tone laced thinly with anger, but it was not directed at her but rather the situation. It was not as if he could act on that attraction, could he? Laurent still felt too weak, a walk was the limit of his exertions! And Maker, such a woman would make a man want and need to exert himself!
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    "Did you not want other children?" He asked, for he had always been curious as to why she had never married once Amelie had been grown. Laurent was sure she'd had offers, she was to beautiful to be ignored in such a way. In fact, there were some of his peers who had shown an interest, older men who had been alone for a while and needed a beautiful companion in their twilight years. "And I am grateful to be well again. I think I am close to full health in fact. Would you join me for my constitutional tomorrow morning?" He asked, referring to his much loved walks in the garden. "I would love the company and can rest your mind at ease and show you how far I have come." Laurent knew she had been there through his sickness, he vaguely remembered at least, and he had been grateful for that. He had not been her charge, after all.