A Letter In Lue of a Treaty

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Balyn Mantear
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Aug 09, 2011 4:48 am

A Letter In Lue of a Treaty

Post by Balyn Mantear » Fri Jan 20, 2012 8:42 am

The candlelight was almost blinding as Balyn entered the palace from the dark streets. Even at this late hour, he'd been summoned by his Aunt for something urgent. The problem was, he'd been happily asleep back at the Mantear Manor. In his mind, this had better be important.

The large meeting room was almost a throneroom in itself. As the large mahogany doors were pulled open, revealing an ovular table that only three people sat at currently. It was such a large place for so few people. Cel would never let him hear the end of it, so he had to resist the urge to laugh. Preferring not to stay unannounced, he coughed loudly. Surprisingly it echoed faintly across the chamber, which caused the three at the table to look up.

The Queen of Andor, that was never good for him.
Tigraine, at least she would be better company than just her mother. And lastly..

A man of unblemished dress he didn't recognize. Turning to face Balyn, he stood from his chair and...bowed? He must not be a High Noble, maybe an Andoran recently raised to one of the Great Houses? All thoughts of him being Andoran at all evaporated when he spoke.

"Ahhh, High Lord Balyn...I am glad we meet. Though I imagine the hour was not the finest convenience for us to do so." With that manner of speech, and enunciating every word, this man was from Cairhien.

It was a small comfort that Balyn had dressed to meet with his Aunt, as his clothes were of much higher quality than the small man standing in front of him. He was glad he didn't bring his sword, though. That could have been a bold move in front of a foreign noble.

"Yes, and who am I meeting at this late...or perhaps early? Hour."

The man shook his hand, smiling greedily at the large signet ring adorning his finger. Better check to make sure all the stones were there later. "I, Lord Balyn, am an official from the Cairhien Elitesmen. My name is Vas Noienclare. Well, to be more precise, I represent the Council that oversees the Elitesmen."

That actually made Balyn blink in surprise. He turned casually towards his family and raised an eyebrow. The question was not even sublte, it just said, "What have you done to me?"

Suddenly, the Queen cleared her through and spoke softly. That was the voice she used when any of the younger members of the Mantear family were about to be told something was wrong. It was motherly, yet accusing at the same time. "You asked me for a way to aid Andor, did you not?"

A simle nod was all he could do, and to swallow the lump in his throat. He did, however, catch a glimpse of Tigraine holding back laughter. The tears in the corner of her eyes gave away her ploy, though.

Yet it was her mother than continued. "You found the Guard as confining as the palace walls. So then you came to me asking for advice on helping foreign relations if you could."

She finished with a look of curiosity, just daring him to play innocent. All he could do was nod once, and then point subtly at the Cairhien noble and arch his eyebrow. "Okay. What does the world want of me then, Lord Vas? And why couldn't it wait till morning and proper amounts of sleep?"

"Ah, well....We've been in negotations with the King recently, at the request of your Aunt that is, that you would be a sign of good will between our nations. Your presence to defend Cairhien would greatly strengthen the trust between them."

"Wait a minute, and what stops Cairhien from taking a member of the Andor ruling family hostage?"

Vas looked almost amused, meeting Balyn in the eyes for the first time. "We are sending the King's nephew here to do the same. He agreed to do it, since he wanted to get out of the city and see more of the world. Your cousin tells me you have similar ambitions...?"

Balyn outright glared at Tigraine, who was hiding her face partially behind her mothers shoulder. She was shaking from silent laughter. In truth, he loved his cousin as much as a sister. He got along well with his family, even if they didn't pay much attention to him. Yet at that moment he wanted to throw the nearest pillow at her. Maybe with a small rock in it.

"And who is this man who will be my counter?"

"Why, I believe it is Lord Teyn Damodred."

"TEYN?" He couldn't control the scepticism in his own voice. "But he's just..." He suddenly went quiet at the look from his Aunt.

When she spoke, it was again that soft but commanding voice. "Balyn will be glad to do it, as it serves Andor, our House, and the peoples of two countries. You may both set out when you are ready. As an act of good faith, Teyn came along for the trip and is already here. He is already sleeping in the barracks of the Queen's Guard."

Nodding in both defeat and curiousity, he turned to follow Vas as they headed south, towards his manor. Knowing Cel, he'd already have everything ready. Especially a few last low blow comments at his expense. He was actually going to miss the man.

From behind him he heard Tigraine shout, "Write and visit when you can! And don't be lazy or it'll make Andor look bad!"

Turning to face her, he gave his best impression of a fake laugh; going so far as to contort his face an slap his knee. It was terribly ugly, but it made her redden in the cheeks and sit down.

The sun would be rising soon, the last time he'd see the Andoran sunrise for some time. But finally, he was free in a way he wanted to be. Though this was far from how he imagined life playing out. An emissary to Cairhien, but to serve in the protection of the capital city. What had he gotten into? The thought actually excited him.

Balyn Mantear
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Aug 09, 2011 4:48 am

Re: A Letter In Lue of a Treaty

Post by Balyn Mantear » Mon Jan 23, 2012 7:32 am

Part Two!

Even at the modest speed the horses could move the carriage, the trip to Tar Valon had been a very peaceful one. They were still half a day's ride from the city, and as it was the early morning hours they expected to be there before sunset.

Balyn was tempted to look out the thinly paned window, but the rain was making it impossible to see the otherwise normal spring day. In his hand, he was idly playing with the letter he'd gotten from his cousins. It seemed both Luc and Tigraine wanted him to finish this exchange alive. That was a part of the Ruling family none but the closest of servants ever knew; they were just regular people. They loved their family, they feared any ill upon them, and they hoped to live long and have many children.

Balyn and his cousins Tigraine and Luc had always been close. He was like a second brother to her, really. And he was just as protective as Luc when it came to her safety. When the idea she should marry into the Damodred House as part of a Peace Agreement, both men had begged the Queen to consider any other way. And that, in short, is why Balyn was now riding in a coach on a rainy day towards Tar Valon. A trip to Tar Valon, and then southeast towards Cairhien. It would take longer, but be less noticeable than if they chartered a boat to go up the Erin.

Yet his cousins had left him one more surprise. Not only was Cel waiting for his return with his bags fully packed, but there was also the young man sittings across from Balyn.

Joim was not a very experienced man in any regard, but he had sworn fealty to Mantear and become Balyn's very first vassal. It was he that would accompany Balyn through all the trials in Cairhien. Partially in Cel's place, but also to keep an eye out for trouble. He'd been quiet and staring out the window the entire trip, though. And it was starting to make Balyn curious...

"Joim. I believe that was your name? What did the Daughter Heir and the First Prince ask you do to?"

He looked up suddenly, calm faced yet anxious. There was ambition in those eyes, unless Balyn had lost his touch at seeing such things.

"Well, my Lord. They just said you'd need a babysitter. But I figure it'd be nice to have someone loyal to your House journey beside you. You never know what it will be like."

"My young friend, I could not have asked for a more cliche answer. Thank you." It made Joim turn a slight shade of red, but Balyn let him be.

He turned his attention to the Cairhien official sitting next to Joim. "Vas, that's an interesting name you have. Do you know the origins?"

Playing with his cloak sleeve, he nodded slightly and gave a faint smile. "Name of the two villages my grandparents were from. It stuck, now it is ours. You see?"

The Prince shrugged. That was about what he had expected. Still, something else was bothering him. "You seemed hesitant to travel to Tar Valon first. In the privacy of this carriage, will you tell me why?"

That worked better than he expected. Vas suddenly coughed to cover up a grimace. "Well, Highness...the taxes on importing and shipping from Andoran territory to Cairhien ports has risen. To pay for the building projects and gather a surplus of food."

"Oh really. And was the Queen aware of that when you came to meet me?"

Victory. Balyn. The tall man was suddenly fidgeting with his hat, before casually shaking his head. "No, and I didn't tell her that Lord Teyn got stuck in Tar Valon, since one of his guards was smuggling. That was a nasty business. I left a note with one of the Queens Guard about that. We may even see him if he hasn't sorted it all out yet."

All he could do was roll his eyes. Teyn was like the King's nuissance of a nephew. He was a gambler, womanizer, hard drinker, and had the worst luck of anyone ever involved in all three.

The mention of Teyn, however, caught the attention of Joim. He suddenly turned around and took a deep breath. "Master Vas, why did they choose Lord Balyn and Lord Teyn? It doesn't seem like that strong a bond to forge between the nations. Not like a marriage."

Vas began to speak, but Balyn held up his hand to quiet him. "Master Joim, you should know this since you are coming with me. While it is in the visage of peace, both of us will be willing hostages."

The young man looked almost angry. "Then what's the point of all of this?"

"If Tigraine rejects the proposal, it would be bad for all. If she marries a man she does not love, it will be miserable for her. That is dangerous, too. So instead, let there be an intricate game of stones played. No, perhaps even Daes Dae'mar. If I must play it to keep peace between Andor and Cairhien, then so be it. Even if it is a very strange situation."

"But a hostage, my lord?"

Balyn studied Vas for a moment, his face looked as calm as he felt. "Vas, just admit why I am really going."

He considered Balyn for a moment, meeting his eyes. A small smile broke out of the corner of his mouth before he spoke up. "You are a hostage to the Courts of Cairhien, and Teyn is to be watched in the Courts of Andor. If one should die by any means, then the other will soon follow. Should this happen, your Queen and my King have agreed to proceed with the wedding plans for Tigraine Mantear and Taringail Damodred. It is all part of the Game of Houses. The victor is the one that can keep the balance between the agreement."

Balyn continued where Vas left off. "That is why I sent Senior Lieutenant Sylibus Dal'Manty to ensure the boys survival. He will serve in the guard under him. He can be a handful, but I trust Sylibus alone to not fail in this task."

Joim looked startled, his forehead was showing the signs of sweet. "Then what about you, my Lord? Don't tell me you hope I can protect you."

Balyn grinned, wide and amused. "I will play the Cairhienin games."

Just as he smiled, the carriage passed through the gates and unto the cobbled streets of Tar Valon. He was halfway there.

Balyn Mantear
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Aug 09, 2011 4:48 am

Re: A Letter In Lue of a Treaty

Post by Balyn Mantear » Mon Jan 23, 2012 7:43 am

Feel free to comment and question, or critique. I am open to responses. I confess myself not an expert writer, but I do enjoy it when it's about something that interests me.

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