(Joint post with Aiv)
The Estate of the Royal Governor was more akin to a keep than a house. In this day and age, having a castle rather than a palace was not a sign of strength, but rather a sign of weakness. The King of Teronia resided in a 2000 acre palace made with elegance in mind over military defensibility, swarming with artists and nobles alike. The gardens and courtyards of the palace were renowned throughout the Aivintian region, and word had spread further still. It was a sign that Teornia was confident in its rule. It was a show of power. The Royal Governor of Cewri, on the other hand, lived within walls within walls. The inner wall, unlike that of certain Aivintian cities, was not a historical relic, but a modern work of engineering. It was clear that the city expected war. It was a city that was not confident, but afraid.
Crossbowmen stood on the ramparts, and pikemen at the gates, when Konstantyn was escorted by a small contingent of six city guardsmen into the citadel. The houses nearest to the citadel were far wealthier than most Konstantyn had passed. The elite of the city clearly resided here, close to the Governor’s estate so they may flee behind the citadel’s walls in the case of attack. Horasiu had left Konstantyn behind, but a younger woman by the name of Stefania, a sergeant by her introduction, guided him to the Estate. She was not as talkative as Horasiu, but did not fail to point out the artistry of Aivintian architecture and the bustling culture of the city. She clearly took pride in defending it.
She wore a crimson gambeson under a plate cuirass, mirroring the equipment of the pikemen under her command, but contrasting the gold gambesons of the pikemen at the gates. While they wore their plain morion helmets, her own was adorned with white and red feathers. The crossbowmen, looming above, wore their cuirasses over simple gold tunics. When Sergeant Stefania’s contingent entered the citadel gates, a man with gold and white feathers on his helmet greeted her. His gambeson was gold as well, and he had a saber sheathed at his side. They spoke in fast Aivintian, before switching to recognizable Staynish.
“The Governor is not expecting any guests at this time, Sergeant,” the man said.
“I am aware, Captain, but this man is an emissary of the Korćettan queen, and our orders are to bring any emissaries to the Governor’s Estate with due speed and respect.”
“Does he have any papers sealed with the Queen’s stamp? All diplomatic emissaries are meant to have such. I am aware of Her Grace’s orders, but it remains imperative that the security of the Estate be maintained.”
“I do not, but I have been sent on official business by Queen Jesion III of Korćetta,” Konstantyn replied, “It is imperative that I be allowed to visit with the Governor.”
“Captain, the Governor’s orders make no mention of papers. Konstantyn’s ship bore the Korćettan flag. It is clearly important that the Governor meet with him. I would hate for her to hear of your disobedience from Lord Pavel.” The threat was clear.
“Watch your tongue, Sergeant,” the Captain snarled. “You are speaking to a senior officer.”
“With all due respect, Captain, you have no authority over my division,” Sergeant Stefania challenged.
The Captain sighed, conflicted between protecting the Governor and avoiding reprise from the same. “Very well, Sergeant. Take him through.”
“Yessir,” Stefania replied.
Although the outside of the keep was highly utilitarian and imposing, the inside was lavish. With few windows on the exterior, the interior was lit by chandeliers alight with dozens of candles. Wall sconces were burning as well, tying the room together and contributing to the warm glow resting like a fog of lighting in the keep’s entrance. Following another studded wooden gate, this one far more decorated, with stylized lions on each door, the group had entered the throne room. Pikemen with gold gambesons and shining plate cuirasses, just like those outside, lined the walls, flanked the doorways, and stood guard on either side of the governor’s seat. It was wooden, like the seats arrayed around the stone tables on either side of the red and gold carpet leading to the foot of the throne, but it was far more intricate. Its armrests and beams were beautiful, and the Governor sat well in it.
She wore a white ruff around her neck, and her red dress bore black floral patterns. She wore no crown, not being of royalty herself, but the frills of her dress were reduced to make room for a scabbard attached to her belt, sheathed with a sword of golden hilt. Her hair was curly and short, resting on her ruff. Her face was stately and worn. When she spoke, her voice filled the keep.
“Sergeant,” she boomed, seeing the feathers on Stefania’s helmet, “who is this man you bring to my court?”
The tables on either side of the carpet had more empty seats than full, but certain Aivintians, dressed in expensive clothing, seemed to be watching with interest. Advisors, likely, and perhaps emissaries. Banners hung from the walls behind them, alternating between banners of red and white stripes and those of red cloth and crowned, gold lions embroidered upon them.
The Sergeant bowed, and her men saluted. “Your Grace,” Stefania began, “I am Sergeant Stefania. This man, Konstantyn, is an emissary of Korćetta.”
“Thank you, Sergeant. Konstantyn, thou art well met. I am Georgeta Nemes, of the Nemes Family of Marnacia, Governor of Llygad Duw. My King has bid me welcome all foreign guests of all colors and creeds. Korćetta and Marnacia may have our differences about the treatment of sapient life, but, as the Governor of this island, I welcome all emissaries of Her Majesty the Queen. I hope that our kingdoms’ differences may be resolved with diplomacy between our monarchs, and as such, I am glad to offer Her Majesty’s officials the olive branch of hospitality, provided you respect the laws of Marnacia.”
“It is nice to meet you,” Konstantyn bowed, “I will indeed respect all your laws as if they were the ones of my homeland. I’m here on official business of the Queen. She has sent me off to found a colony in the name of Korćetta and was hoping to hear your wisdom about the topic. You see, I have no experience with founding a colony or ruling over any land.”
“Ah. I am always willing to share the wisdom of Marnacia with the wider world. The first colonists arrived on the island in 1543. The key to our success was two-pronged. We had to establish an effective military presence on the island, to combat the violent natives, and we had to collaborate with the nonviolent natives. Trade deals, at first, allowed us and the least savage savages to co-exist. Our superior culture overpowered their less advanced one, and more of the dwarves began to accept Marnacian rule due to it. These tribes defended us from their warmongering neighbors, teaching us the land and their war-ways. With this knowledge, and our superior military might, we carved out a small kingdom for us. Stability was essential. From there, it was only a matter of hard work and investments. Of course, no colony is successful without trade, and proper exploitation of natural resources. Settlers came from all over. Many of my subjects are even the descendants of Teronia, Grandys, and other Aivintian kingdoms. We forged our own identity here, under the watchful Lion Crown. We traded with the natives, and with the foreigners that docked in our shores, such as your own Korćettan merchants. We built farms, logging camps, and quarries. We attracted bankers and craftsmen, architects and artisans, from all Aivintia. We built a new legacy here in Cewri. That is the key to colonization, young Korćettan.”
“So, what you’re saying is that I should find a place with little to no native people that would be easy to take over with trade and superior power? It also looks like we would want a colony that is in a place rich with trade and natural resources. And if you have been here for such a long time and you have a better military, how have you not conquered all of this land yet.” Konstantyn threw his arms open, gesturing to the land outside of the building, “You make it seem like colonization is easy, but I know that you mean otherwise. Are there any places that are truly easy to conquer? I’m no leader, I would not be able to lead people against the natives or open trade with them. I have no power in my home nation either, I was just chosen to lead this expedition because of my overconfident falsehoods. How would I be able to conquer a state with all this lack of experience? Is it possible? Or am I on a path to destruction by my own hand? If I return to the nation empty handed I will be executed, and the more I think about it, the more that possibility rises. I won’t be able to complete this task.”
“The Llygadian people are more war-like than most, but you are right in assuming this is no easy task. You are not founding a city, leading an army into war, conducting trade, or governing a nation. You are doing all four at once. It is daunting, and certainly not for everyone. However, the Marnacian people reap the benefits of colonization. Every month, we send back chests of wealth to His Majesty. Young soldiers come to Cewri seeking glory in our fight against the native savages, and return home with medals, titles, and land. Colonization is the most noble of pursuits, and the most lucrative. Your Queen would want you to press on into the wild, Konstantyn, and claim it for your crown.” The Governor spoke with inflamed passions and wild hubris. She was a colonist, through and through, that much was clear. An Aivintian elitist, and, more than that, a Marnacian elitist. Her nationalistic zeal was rivaled only by her Social Darwinism. She believed wholeheartedly in the superiority of her culture and kingdom.
Konstantyn paced around the room, listening to the Governor’s speech. He listened intently to what she was saying. Eventually, when the Governor was done speaking, Konstantyn sat down again. “You’re right,” Konstantyn said, “My Queen is counting on me. My crew is counting on me. Everyone from my homeland is counting on me. I have to do this. I have to prove that I’m valuable. I have to prove that I was the right person to choose for this job.” Then he looked around, “Wait, how long have I been in here, I have to get going.”He stood up looking at the Governor, “Thank you for all you’ve done to help me. I will repay your generosity once I have been successful in my journey.” He gave the Governor a solute before walking towards the exit.