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Author Topic: Prelude - Byzantium Secundus  (Read 459 times)

Seneca

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Prelude - Byzantium Secundus
« on: March 10, 2013, 08:04:23 PM »

Prince Alexius Hawkwood, Regent of the Known Worlds, strides angrily in heavy boots along the narrow passage leading from behind the Phoenix Throneroom dais to his personal chambers. Following two steps behind is his boyhood friend and  Imperial seneschal, Viscount Cullen Alecto. The Viscount's quiet, observant manner stands in sharp contrast to the thundering of the larger Regent. Cullen is a tall, athletic man, only small in comparison to Alexius' two meters of height. Where Cullen's hair is neatly trimmed and prematurely grey, Alexius has a wild mane of golden hair worthy of the lion emblem of his house.

"Did you hear what that Cardinal didn't say between all his pretty words, Cullen? And, of course, they sent an Avestite to deliver that message. The sheer gall!"
Cullen Alecto smiles, well used to his friend's moods and reactions after all the years they have spent as friends and political allies. "My Lord, you may want to consider the offer. To have the Church's support in your bid to be Emperor may push the balance well in your favor."
"Yes, but at what cost? Will I truly be Emperor when I am the Patriarch's lapdog? And what is that support worth? Will they supply troops to quell the riots on Decados and Hazat worlds? And, I shouldn't have to remind you, the last man to make that bargain died in searing flames as the Patriarch placed the crown on his head. What use is loaned power if I don't survive to wield it?"
"No, my Lord, there is no need to remind me. After all, Vladimir Alecto was the last great noble of our line. When the Emperor Wars began in the chaos following his assassination, our house had no strength left after the struggles to place him on the throne in the first place. Thus perished from the Known Worlds house Alecto."
Pausing and returning a salute from the house guards before opening the door to his chambers, Alexius turned to regard Cullen. "Not perished, my friend. Never that. House Hawkwood keeps its pledge, and the name Alecto will once again rise in fortunes. You will see. Now, come in and plot with me a while. We have many things to accomplish, if house Hawkwood wishes to avoid the example set by your esteemed ancestor and, I dare hope, my predecessor. I have a task or two in mind, and it will require your personal attention and cool head."
Passing through the doorway into the Regent's quarters, the voices become muffled as the great ironwood door swings shut. The guards continue to stare vigilantly ahead into the empty corridor.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2013, 11:53:31 PM by Seneca »
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"Good night, good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely kill you in the morning." Three years he said that to me each night.

Seneca

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Prelude Two – The Call
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2013, 10:34:46 AM »

Regent Alexius Hawkwood and his seneschal were enjoying a light breakfast on the shielded balcony adjacent to the Azure Room in the Imperial Palace. Palace attendants bustled unceasingly, bringing trays of small delicacies and constantly freshening the tiny cups of Couraian tea. The sunlight filtering through the shield is dim and weak, but supplemented by lighting crafted to simulate bright, natural light.

“You’ll have to marry soon, you know”, Viscount Alecto spoke casually over the rim of the delicate cup, as if he were discussing the weather.

“Hrmph…”, the Regent responded, his mood indecipherable.

“Or at least take an official concubine. Your supporters will need to know that you have designated an heir”.

“Bah!”, the Regent slapped the table, startling a nearby girl who was not yet accustomed to the rapid changes of atmosphere in the Palace. “I have so much still yet do before I can even lay claim to the Throne! And an heir would just give my enemies a target. At least now, they’re plotting to kill the Hawkwoods separately. Give them a banner to rally against, and I would have to double both the Palace Guard and my intelligence network. Too expensive, at this stage. And anyway, they should mind their own damn business! They have their own systems to run!”

“This tea is excellent, my Lord”, Viscount Alecto remarked, as if the brief tantrum had never happened.

“You know it’s the volcanic soil in Courai that makes it so, Cullen, we spent most of our childhood there”. The Regent smiled at an opportunity to dwell on simpler times. Then he began  laughing uproariously. “Cullen, you scoundrel, how is it so easy for you to manipulate my mood? Only you, my friend”. The Regent shook his head ruefully, repeating himself in a low whisper, “Only you”.

Viscount Alecto brought his chin down in an oblique nod of the head to Alexius. “I’ve had much practice over the years, my Lord. Now, I understand you are impatient to get down to business. Shall I issue the decree? And have you chosen a ship?”

“I will read it one more time, Cullen, if you please”.

Nodding, the seneschal hands a plaspaper document across the table for Alexius to hold.


BY EDICT OF THE IMPERIAL REGENT ALEXIUS HAWKWOOD AND WITH APPROVAL OF THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH OF THE CELESTIAL SUN AND THE MERCHANT LEAGUE:

The Imperial Regent orders the Commission of a study of the stability of Jumpgates and the effect of the use thereof on the stars of the Known Worlds. Said Commission to be funded jointly by Imperial and League coffers and any and all technology, bounty and/or salvage to be divided in four equal parts between the Imperial Regent, the Patriarch of the Church of the Celestial Sun, the Merchant League, and the members of the commissioned party.

Interested parties may submit curriculum vitae and endorsements to the office of the Imperial seneschal, Byzantium Secundus.

“That,” said Alexius, “is the single most boring document I have seen since I left University. And I have seen a lot of boring documents in the last few years. And to think the Church wants to reap the profit without providing funding!”

“Their approval was necessary, my Lord, so that later they will have no argument against you”.

“I know, I know. I just chafe at the idea. Do you think anyone suspects our true goal?”

“I think everyone will know that you hope to find something to bolster your claim to the Phoenix Throne, my Lord”.

“That goes without saying. But have you received any rumblings that our plan is exposed?”

“No, my Lord. Only you and I understand the true nature of this Commission”.

“In that case,” Alexius paused to take another sip of the tea and fixed his friend with an ironic grin, “I will ask you to not only choose the group, but to accompany them. I need you badly here, but I need a cool head and wise judgment on this mission”.

Cullen Alecto’s face fell slightly. “I suspected as much, my Lord. Only….only tell me this, and don’t, for the sake of our friendship and all you hold sacred, deceive me”. His piercing gaze locked intently onto Alexius’. “Have I fallen out of your favor? Is this an elaborate plan to make me disappear while saving what is left of my family’s honor?”

Alexius lolled his head to the side, and looked closely at his friend. Rising, a smile broke his lips. He walked to where Cullen sat, taking him by a hand and raising him from the chair. “My oldest friend, I tell you the truth. I need you there, even more than I need you at my side. This mission is vitally important, not only to house Hawkwood, but to Alecto, and all of the Known Worlds”. And with that, he flung his arms around Cullen and gave him a crushing embrace.

Viscount Alecto was speechless for a moment.

“Now,” said Alexius, “issue the edict, if you please. And let me know when you begin to get acceptable applicants. You know my…OUR…requirements”.
“Of course, my Lord, “ said Cullen, finding his voice again, “but there is one more thing”.

“Oh?” Alexius raised his left eyebrow questioningly.

“If you’re sending me, my Lord, then I want the Sofia’s Gryffon”. He braced for the explosion.

“Hah! You old devil! She’s too good for the riff-raff, but you want to travel in style, is that it?” Alexius guffawed. "Done and done! She’s yours for the duration. I think you may have let me off easy, for all that my mother would maim me if anything happens to that ship.” His tone and face became somber. “So you will see, Viscount Cullen Alecto, if you please, that nothing happens to that ship. Or to yourself”. He wagged a mock-stern finger at Cullen.

“I most certainly shall try, my Lord” said Cullen with a wry grin.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2013, 10:41:17 AM by Seneca »
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"Good night, good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely kill you in the morning." Three years he said that to me each night.

AowlowLdow

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Re: Prelude - Byzantium Secundus
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2017, 04:48:25 AM »

Mod note: Questionable post removed
« Last Edit: October 21, 2017, 08:32:55 PM by Padre »
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