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  1. #1
    Court Intrigues - The roleplaying thread

    Court Intrigues - The roleplaying thread

    King Theodore III

    December 1st, 1536 - Hampton Court

    King Theodore III was sitting by his desk. There were letters to be written, as Christmas wouldn’t come too far ahead. Some of the invitations were personal - friends and close relatives. Some were political - ambassadors and members of his Council. And others would be sent due to simple social obligation.

    The Duke of Northumberland would get a warm and personal invite, as he did every year. King Theodore not only trusted the man, he liked him. He knew Humphrey was someone he could trust, and someone who eased his mind about the rumors that were flying back and forth in court. The rumors focused on his wife’s empty womb. They had been married for three years, and no royal baby had come yet. That wasn’t right, and there was a lot of political pressure for the King to handle this problem. For now, though, he had to think about making sure everyone would get a proper letter.

    Cardinal Marcellus Drake would get a more formal invite. He was a member of the Church, after all, and the King wanted to have the Church on his side, especially now. He would need the support of the Church if he wanted to keep his marriage intact. Along with the man’s, he extended the invitation to the Cardinal’s daughter. It had been a strange situation, but the Cardinal seemed repentant, and had taken care of his child. The King chose to ignore the rumors, as it wouldn’t do to get on Cardinal Drake’s bad side now.Next up came the Duke of Suffolk. His father had trusted him greatly, but King Theodore was unsure about the man. He was a valuable ally, though, and would probably be a terrible enemy, so the King wanted to stay on the man’s good graces. He would talk to him about his pressing matters as well, though. He needed a secular point of view to come from someone who didn’t want to please him and nothing more. Hopefully, he would be able to get one from the man.

    Then there was the Montgomery household. The King frowned thinking about that family. He was unsure about them. Henry, the Duke of Norfolk, seemed harmless enough. As for his wife and daughter, he was very unsure. That wife of his was the one who had the final say in the house, according to the rumors. And if that was true, God help their daughter, her mother would probably turn her into a snake like herself. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, after all. Yet, he had to send them an invitation, as they were related to him, and everyone would talk even more if the family wasn’t invited.

    Once his letters were finished, the King handed them over to the young man who was standing by his side. “See that the letters are sealed and sent today”, he ordered, standing up. He was to see his Queen now, and ease her mind about the rumors with considerations about Christmas planning.

    Emma Montgomery

    December 1st, 1536 - Montgomery Manor, Norfolk - The library

    Emma was sitting at a desk, her tutor standing by her side. They were polishing her French, as it was an important language for any well-bred young Lady to know. As Christmas was coming, the Duke and Duchess would probably want to show off their daughter, and she needed to be perfect. That wasn’t exactly uncommon with young women ripe for the picking.

    While the tutor didn’t know who the lucky man Victoria had her sights on was, he was sure she had made her choice, as her daughter was subjected to an intense schedule with all of her tutors.

    “Oui, je veux passer Noël au palais du roi” (Yes, I want to spend Christmas at the King’s palace), the girl enunciated, impeccably. The tutor smiled. She was such a great student. Her wits had come from her mother, he was sure.

    The man was about to start another question when he heard knocks on the door and allowed his student to answer with a gesture. Curious about who could be interrupting her lesson and why, Emma raced to the door and opened it, waiting to see who her visitor was.

  2. #2
    Humphrey Heron

    Alnwick Castle, Northumberland

    The Duke of Northumberland sat at his desk in his study, reviewing the household accounts as a roaring fire crackled on the hearth. It was not yet Christmas, but this far north the nights had a decided chill even in early December, and would continue to be cold for the rest of the long winter ahead. There was a knock on the door, and Humphrey looked up from his ledger book. "Come in," he called, and the door opened to reveal his steward, Clarence.

    "A letter came for you, sir," Clarence said with a brief, perfunctory bow. Although Clarence was always respectful and reasonably deferential to the duke, as befitted their respective stations, the man had been the castle steward for nearly thirty years, having first been hired by Humphrey's parents, and the current duke and his employee had developed an easy rapport that did not require showy displays of obedience.

    "Thank you, Clarence," Humphrey said, taking the letter and noting the king's seal before slitting the envelope open with his dagger. For a moment, he felt trepidation; although he genuinely liked the king, he feared the current political turmoil brewing in the court. Humphrey hoped that he was not about to be dragged into it. Fortunately, the letter was merely a rather pleasant invitation to join the royal court for Christmas, a proposition that - at least on the surface - sounded innocent enough. Had his wife still been alive, Humphrey might have regretted spending the holiday away from home, but as it was, the castle always began to feel rather empty during the winter months. A change of scenery and a Christmas spent among friends would do him good, and he could visit his sister and her family as well.

    After reading the letter, Humphrey told his steward, "I will be going to London for Christmas again this year. I have full confidence that you can manage things here in my absence."

    "Of course, sir," Clarence assured him, and neither of them doubted it.

    Humphrey took a fresh sheet of parchment from the drawer, and penned a reply to the king accepting the invitation and conveying his thanks.
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 10-05-2016 at 12:05 AM.
    "Sleep to dream, and we dream to live..." -Great Big Sea

  3. #3
    Agnes Drake and Cardinal Marcellus Drake

    Rose Abbey, London

    It was mid-morning, and sun streamed through the windows of the dining room of the Rose Abbey Rectory. Rose Abbey had, back in the thirteenth century, been a monastery, but in the present day had become the home of a parish congregation and, by extension, the favored residence of Cardinal Marcellus Drake and his household, which included his nineteen-year-old illegitimate daughter, Agnes, who was as yet unmarried.

    When the Cardinal joined his daughter at the breakfast table, he was in unusually good spirits. Agnes eyed him suspiciously. "You seem jovial, Father," she remarked. "May I inquire the reason?"

    "Indeed you may, dear daughter," Marcellus said with an indulgent smile. "We have been invited to attend a Christmas celebration at Hampton Court by His Majesty the King himself."

    Although Agnes had lived in London all her life, she had never been invited to make the short journey to court. Why would she, as the mere bastard daughter of a cleric? But of course, her father had gained significantly in prominence, and it appeared they were moving up in the world as a result. Agnes imagined what it would be like, all fancy dresses, gossip, and important lords and ladies. It sounded like fun, a pleasant change from the dull routine of life in the Rectory. Over the years, however, Agnes had become quite adept at reading all the nuances of her father's countenance - and there was something in his expression today that made her nervous, a sort of glint in the eyes that told her he was scheming something.

    "And is this purely a social call?" Agnes inquired nonchalantly.

    Her father chucked. "There is no such thing as a 'pure' social call upon a king and queen, my dear," Marcellus told her. "Everyone who attends will, in his or her own way, seek the king's favor. As will we."

    Marcellus stared at Agnes, and the young woman reddened as his gaze pointedly dropped from her face to the bosom of her gown and lingered there.

    "But Father, the king has a wife!" Agnes protested weakly.

    "As your mother had a husband, and yet you came to be," Marcellus replied placidly. "I assure you, no king contents himself with only one woman's bed. No, a king takes delight in sampling all the wares his kingdom has to offer, as is his right. It is inevitable that King Theodore too will someday stray, in the unlikely event he has not done so already. Why let him wander into the arms of some other harlot, when he could wander his way to you?"

    Ignoring the fact that her father had essentially just called her a harlot too, Agnes shook her head. "He would surely not choose me. He can have any woman he likes. He would not..."

    "Oh, I'm sure you can convince him," Marcellus replied dryly. "You are certainly not lacking in... charms." He stroked her cheek, then traced his hand down her neck. Agnes pulled away before his fingers could wander any further, her heart beating fast with sheer terror at what he was suggesting.

    "The king would not marry a bastard," Agnes practically whispered.

    Marcellus snorted with laughter. "Marriage? No, of course he wouldn't. Don't be a fool. No one spoke of marriage. Are you so thick that I must spell it out for you? Very well. Here is what I wish you to do. You will go to the king. You will flatter him, and flirt with him, and win his favor. In due time, you will go to his bed, and you will please him in any way he wishes. You will hold his attention thus and then - God willing - you will become pregnant with a bastard child of your own. Is that sufficiently clear, or do you also need me to suggest some pillow tricks you might use?"

    Agnes' cheeks were bright crimson as she shook her head. "You... you think your grandchild will be in line for the throne?" she asked, half in disbelief, but after this conversation anything seemed possible.

    Marcellus chuckled again. "Certainly not. The king will produce a legitimate heir someday, whether from his apparently-barren wife or from her eventual replacement. The bastard child of a bastard will never sit on the throne of England. I do not deal in such ridiculous fantasies. The reality I deal in is this: the king, for all he is a king, strives to be a decent man. When he finds you are with child, he will ensure that you and your offspring are well provided for, for all of your days. The child will be our insurance against a decline of fortune. One cannot fall out of favor when the deal is sealed with the king's own flesh and blood."

    "I don't want to," Agnes said, her voice taking on a sudden vehemence.

    Her father shrugged dismissively. "You don't want to?" he repeated mockingly. "Why not? Such a pure little saint. Are you a virgin, then, touched by no man?"

    Agnes looked down, twisting her hands in her lap. "No," she said with barely suppressed anger. "As you know. You saw to that well enough."

    "Then what does it matter?" Marcellus asked amiably. "One man is essentially as good as another, is he not? And this man is the king. Never forget that your body is a tool for advancement, nothing more. Your advancement, certainly, but more importantly my own. You will not disobey me in this, or you will regret it. Do as I say, and we will both be exceedingly happy. Do you understand?"

    Still staring at her hands in her lap, Agnes nodded.
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 10-09-2016 at 10:30 PM.

  4. #4
    Victoria & Henry Montgomery

    Montgomery Manor, Norfolk

    Victoria Montgomery was the Duchess of Norfolk. A very proud and determined woman. All her life, she had dreamed of big things. Her father had wanted great things for her. Alexander Dumont had just been an Earl and he had wanted more for his children. While her brother had been killed in battle, Victoria had been married off to the now Duke of Norfolk. Not a bad place to end up in society. Especially since through her marriage, she was a distant cousin to the king. Although she still wanted more.

    Like her mother, Victoria only had one living child, a girl named Emma. She was her pride and joy and Victoria was was determined for Emma to do even better in life then she had. She wanted to marry her off to someone of great power. Perhaps even a king. Thus, why she made she sure Emma had the best education possible. Her husband, Henry, seemed to understand it was wiser in life to let Victoria have her way then argue with her. He had stopped that years ago. Which pleased the Duchess just fine. She preferred being in charge of her house hold.

    Any letter sent out personally by the king was delivered in great haste. Henry thanked his servant when he received it. Once he read the letter, he went to find Victoria.

    "Dear wife, we've been invited to Hampton Court to spend Christmastime with his majesty."

    "How wonderful. It will be a perfect time to properly introduce Emma and find her a suitable husband."

    Victoria replied, although she wasn't shocked they were invited to spend the Christmas holiday with King Theodore and Queen Esther. Through Henry, they were a distant relation to the king. It would be rude for him not to invite them. Henry looked sad when Victoria said it would be the perfect time to find Emma a husband. He didn't want to think of his little girl being old enough to marry. While she was closer to her mother then him, Henry did love Emma dearly. She was his only living child, he almost wished she never had to grow up.

    Victoria caught the look on Henry's face and said.

    "She is eighteen, Henry. We cannot keep her with us forever. If we do not act soon, people will think she is an old maid and no suitable man will want to marry her."

    "Yes, of course, you are right."

    She was always right. Henry gave her a kiss on the cheek. Victoria gave him a small smile and went to see Emma. She was with her French tutor. She smiled to her daughter.

    "I trust your lessons are going well?"
    Last edited by Sojourn; 11-08-2016 at 05:17 PM.

  5. #5
    Edward & Katherine Moore

    Moore Manor-Suffolk

    It did not surprise Edward Moore, the Duke of Suffolk, at all when he received a formal letter of invitation from his majesty to celebrate Christmastime with him. He'd have been more shocked if had not received one. Since the crowning of King Theodore II, he had spent ever Christmas holiday with the Royal Court. Edward had been the best of friends with the current king's father. So much so, that the Duchy of Suffolk was created for him. He had been a loyal friend to the late king until his death.
    How he missed his friend.

    Edward had been pleased that his friend's son, the current king, appeared to respect his place in Court. Edward made an effort to be a trusted adviser and had always treated his majesty like a dear nephew. Often times, his own sons, both who were now grown and with families of their own, felt he treated King Theodore III better then he had treated them. Edward learned long ago that to have good things in life, it was best to be by the king's side. Or, at least, always let him believe you had his best interests at heart. Even if he was also seeking to please his own interests.

    Edward found his wife of the last three decades in the study and told her.

    "Katherine, we have been invited to Hampton Court to spend Christmastime with his majesty."

    Katherine smiled at him and replied.

    "That is wonderful. I trust that it will be a who's who of English society. as always. Like the Dukes of Northumberland and Norfolk will also be there."

    Katherine secretly did hope the Duke of Norfolk would be there. She enjoyed Henry Montgomery's company far more then her own husband's. She was married to a man who she knew had grown bored of her many years ago. The feeling was mutual to her as well. She would have been far happier being Henry's wife and she knew he felt the same. He told her how he secretly did not like the Duchess of Norfolk much. However, divorce, especially with their social standings, was highly frowned upon. They were merely friends, nothing more. That's all they would ever be.

    Edward nodded his head to Katherine.

    "Yes, I would imagine so."

    Edward did hope that the Duke of Norfolk was planning to come to Hampton Court with his wife and daughter. He found Henry a boring and weak man, but he did enjoy the company of Victoria Montgomery. Although, unlike Katherine and Henry, he wasn't just 'friends' with Victoria. He knew her far more personally that than. There were even rumors her only child, Emma, was his. Edward could see that personally. There were times she'd give a look, that reminded him of himself or his offspring. Not that he'd ever openly acknowledge the girl as his. He wasn't going to risk his own spot by the king for that. Let Henry believe he was capable of producing one living child.
    Last edited by Optimus Prime; 11-08-2016 at 04:51 PM.

  6. #6
    Emma Montgomery

    Montgomery Manor, Norfolk

    Emma made a polite curtsy to her mother as soon as she saw Victoria. She loved her mother dearly, and yet, feared her as well. She knew that Victoria held her fate in her capable hands, and would never want to upset her mother. That, and the fact that her mother had been the one to stand at her bedside day and night when she had been ill had never been far from Emma’s mind. It wasn’t as though she would be allowed to forget all Victoria had done for her. Probably never would, even after she had been married off.

    As Agnes, Emma knew that she was a tool for her family’s advancement in life. Of course, Victoria had much better plans for her than to be a mistress for anyone. She was supposed to be a wife, to a man of great standing. Maybe even a king. Well… from what Emma had heard in terms of rumors, she might even be married to THE king and become Queen of England.

    All she had to do was do exactly as her mother told her. And that was something Emma was already used to doing.

    “They are indeed, Mother”, Emma replied with her usual respectful intonation.

    The tutor bowed to Victoria and confirmed Emma’s words. He would have even if they weren’t true, but there was nothing to worry about. Emma was, indeed, a model student.

    “Lady Emma is by far the best pupil I have ever had, Duchess”, the man stated respectfully.

    Once he had made this statement, the man bowed again and excused himself. He knew better than to simply stand there when Victoria was around, as he was pretty sure she was not there merely to inquire over her daughter’s lessons.

    Once they were alone, Emma closed the door and looked at her mother. “Is there anything important, Mother?”, the girl asked frankly, as she knew the expression in her mother’s eyes.

  7. #7
    Victoria Montgomery

    Montgomery Manor, Norfolk

    Victoria was thrilled with her only living child. She had been raising Emma properly. Her daughter seemed to understand that she had best interests at heart and took her advice. Plus, Victoria never did let the girl forget how she had stayed by her beside day and night when she had been very sick. Victoria had been there for her and always knew what was best for her.

    "That makes me very happy to hear."

    Victoria replied with a smile. She was pleased her child had a good grasp of her studies. It would make Emma desirable to potential suitors. Victoria had big plans for her only child. She wanted Emma to do better then being a Duchess. Maybe she could even be a queen. She motioned for the tutor to leave and took her daughter's hand.

    "I have wonderful news, Emma. We have been invited by his Majesty to spend Christmastime with him at Court. I heard that the French ambassador will be there and there are rumors that the King of France is looking for a bride for his eldest son. Our time in Court would be a great chance for you to practice your French."

    Victoria was sure Emma was a smart enough girl to realize that her mother wanted Emma to impress the ambassador enough that he'd send a letter to his master about Emma. Naming her a potential bride for his heir.

  8. #8
    Humphrey Heron and Louisa Goodrich

    Leicester Square, London

    "Straight to Hampton Court, Your Grace?" the coach driver asked.

    Humphrey shook his head, and gave the driver an address in Leicester Square instead. Upon arrival, he was was shown inside the stately home. "His Grace, the Duke of Northumberland!" the butler announced as they entered the drawing room - an unnecessary introduction, as the lady of the house was unlikely to have forgotten her own brother. Louisa embraced Humphrey unashamedly. "So wonderful to see you!" she said.

    "And you, dear sister," he replied. "I hope you and your family have been well. It's been too long since I've had an excuse to visit."

    "We are," she replied. "I hope you are too. I don't envy you, stuck in that drafty old castle."

    "I like the drafty old castle!" Humphrey protested. Then he relented and added, "But I've missed you. And Ralph, and the children. I brought Christmas presents for them..."

    "Oh, you do spoil them so!" Louisa said jovially. "You really ought to have children of your own, you know, so you can indulge them as well as mine!"

    It was the wrong thing to say, and they both knew it - but it was too late. The words, once spoken, could not be unsaid.

    "You know that isn't going to happen," Humphrey said gently.

    "You've made that quite clear," Louisa replied. "But I fail to see why not. Are you still in such despair over Edith, after all this time?"

    Humphrey shook his head. "No," he told his sister honestly. "Edith and I loved each other very much, but I knew her five years, and she's been dead for eleven now. I will always miss her and cherish fond memories, but I have accepted my loss. I just... I frankly don't have the energy to do it all over again. If I were a peasant farmer who could meet a nice woman at church and if we fancied each other, marry her if her father would allow it - then perhaps I would. I cannot deny it would be pleasant to have a companion. But the rest of it... the political maneuvering, the falseness, the women who care nothing for me but would absolutely love to be the next Lady Heron... I simply can't bear it, Louisa. I married once as I was told to; I have paid my dues. I am content with my life. You should be content too - after all, it means it will be your children who inherit from me, as well as from your husband."

    Louisa smiled, but sadly. "I just hate the thought of you alone up there, shivering away in the north all by yourself."

    "A duke is rarely alone, my dear sister," Humphrey replied with a warm smile of his own. "You need not worry for me. I'd rather hear about how you are faring. Tell me, what have the children been up to since your last letter...?"

    And with that, Humphrey deftly steered the conversation away from his marital prospects, or lack thereof.
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 10-09-2016 at 11:45 PM.

  9. #9
    Agnes Drake and Cardinal Marcellus Drake

    Rose Abbey, London

    The Cardinal hovered as their household belongings were packed for the trip to court. Although Hampton was less than fifteen miles away, it took a great deal of luggage to appear in the sort of style that would be expected of them.

    "No, no, you'll need to alter that before it goes in the trunk!" Marcellus insisted, snagging his daughter's green dress out of the arms of a maid. "The bodice is far too loose. Practically a tent. It needs to be tighter, you hear me? Tighter!"

    "Yes, Your Eminence," the maid replied politely, but it was clear from the expression on her face that she was puzzled by why a father was so invested in his daughter's gowns, and why a holy man was insisting the garment be made less modest.

    "Don't forget the pearls!" the Cardinal reminded another maid. "She must have the pearls, and the broach..."

    "Yes, Eminence," came the absent reply. The serving woman had heard that instruction five times already, and wasn't apt to forget.

    When all the servants were otherwise occupied and out of the room, the Cardinal turned to his daughter. "How are you, my dear? Are you nervous?"

    "No," Agnes lied, even though anxiety had been twisting her insides into knots ever since her father's pronouncement.

    Marcellus abruptly grabbed her roughly by the wrist. "Well, you should be!" he insisted in a harsh whisper. "Do you have any idea what happens to mistresses when the king is finished with them? Do you?"

    Agnes miserably shook her head and looked down at the floor.

    Her father released her arm, and his voice softened. "If they have managed to keep the king's favor, when he tires of bedding them, they're married off to some petty noble who will tolerate the shame of taking on the king's whore in exchange for some titles and treasure. If they have displeased him, though..." His fingertips lightly brushed his daughter's neck. "They are ruined, at best. At worst, they lose their heads. Do not displease the king, Agnes. I would hate to see my only child end up on the headsman's block."

    Agnes had to blink back tears. How could her own father speak this way? "Why are you doing this?" she asked with a shaking voice. "Why would you risk such a fate for your own daughter?"

    "Never overestimate your worth, my dear," Marcellus told her coldly. "You are a means to an end. That is all a harlot like you will ever be, to me or to anyone. The only thing that will ever matter about you is between your thighs. When you cease to benefit me, my interest in you will cease. Unless you want me to cast you out, you will do as I say. Better to be the king's whore, than to be a common whore selling your body on the street - and that would be the fate that awaits you without me. Do you understand?"

    Agnes nodded, still staring at a knot in the floorboards, trying not to cry. "Yes, Father," she whispered.

    "I am glad to hear it, my dear girl," Marcellus replied, his voice once again warm with fatherly affection. He kissed her forehead, then tipped her chin upward to kiss her again on the lips. Casually, he added in a whisper, with his mouth close to her ear, "For obvious reasons, I will not be able to come to your bedchamber while we are at court. I will come to you tonight, to give us a proper sendoff before we have to leave in the morning."

    Then one of the maids returned to the room, and Marcellus took a step back from his daughter, returning seamlessly to the role of directing travel preparations.
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 10-10-2016 at 12:50 AM.

  10. #10
    Edward & Katherine Moore

    Moore Manor-Suffolk

    Edward and Katherine sent their staff to work to pack up their belongings for their trip to court. Along their way, they would pay a visit to their sons' and their respective families. They would not be seeing either son for Christmas Day. After all, one could not refuse the invite of the king. Besides, Edward was okay with that. He'd get to see Victoria he was sure and her daughter, Emma. He'd see one of his children, just not one he'd ever claim.

    Edward entered his bedroom and saw Katherine placing out her finest dresses to be packed. Things that she never wore around him. She wanted to look her best, especially since she believed Henry would no doubt be there. He chuckled at her.

    "Well, if I did not know better, I would worry you were trying to impress someone at Court."

    Katherine gave Edward a wifely smile.

    "You never have to worry, dear husband. I just want to look my best in front of his Majesty and not embarrass you."

    Edward kissed her cheek. He had no idea that she had strong feelings for his mistress' husband. She was good at hiding her true feelings, just like he was.

    "You would never do that, Katherine. Finish with your packing so we can leave soon."

    "Yes, husband."

    Katherine replied and before long she was ready for them to go.
    Last edited by Optimus Prime; 11-08-2016 at 04:53 PM.

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