Scenes from Neustria

Discussion in 'The World Stage' started by Neustria, Apr 2, 2019.

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  1. Neustria

    Neustria Active Member

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    Julie was standing on a box in the middle of her bedroom. Several older women hovered around, measuring her growing body's new dimensions. Her mother, the Duchess Louise of Abret, was sitting nearby, sipping tea while she watched.

    "Mother, why do I need a new dress?"

    "His Grace, pardon, Augustus serenissime is holding a ball for the dukes, the counts, and the barons this weekend. All of the nobies are invited, including cher cousins from Burgundy. Even those German nobles are invited. What a disgrace, those hillbillies in charge in Chagny."

    "Mademoiselle, please raise your arms ... very good," one of the seamstresses said.

    The Duchess Louise went on. "The Royal Family will be there, of course. I'm told Romain has finally grown up ... Count Paris will be there. It has been so long since we've seen him and I know how he adores you."

    Julie quickly changed the subject from Paris. "What does father say about this? I thought we don't socialize with the Montagues."

    "The Cardinal is arranging things and convinced your father to go along. For national unity and all that male nonsense. As the other great house in ... what are we calling it, yes, Neustria, the Capulets must make their appearance alongside them. And it is time for you to be presented to society anyway."
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2019
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  2. Neustria

    Neustria Active Member

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    Lucas de Dreux and the rest of his family were home for lunch. One of the benefits of living in a "civilized" country was that society understood how important it was to balance work and leisure. When the family had gathered around the table, they kneeled next to their chairs and gave thanks. While the rest of the family crossed themselves and stood, Emma lingered on her knees. When she was finished, the family sat down and began to pass the food around the table.

    After lunch, the children returned to school, his wife cleared the table, and Lucas fired up his pipe. "Did you notice Emma? She's always been a devout girl. But lately, she seems so distracted by her faith."

    Mother nodded. "And she hardly eats much anymore. I have tried to talk to her about it."

    "What does she say?"

    Mother shrugged her shoulders, dried her hands, and picked up an envelope.

    "I forgot, this came for you this morning."

    Lucas took the envelope. "Looks official. Do you think it's a boy that ailing dear Emma?"

    "She's never shown much interest in boys before. Why do you have that look on your face, Luke?"

    Lucas handed his wife the card. He stood and turned away, lost in thought. Mother read the invitation.

    "Ta grâce ... Vous êtes cordialement invité ... Palais ducal. Lucas, what is this?"

    "There is something I need to tell you."
     
  3. Neustria

    Neustria Active Member

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    Charles was sitting in his favorite chair, nursing a tumbler of Bourgogne's finest liquor. Apollon laid dutifully at his master's feet next to the warm fire. Seated or standing around the King were his closest advisors.

    Foreign Minister Dumont was the first to speak. Before she began, she recrossed her legs, which she knew the King liked. "Augustus Serenissime, we have an opportunity here. The power vacuum in Gallogermania is quite large. Bourgogne has fallen. The Trier compact has disintegrated. Serenierre is mired in Occitania. A tyranny of the majority confounds the Council of the North. Only Neustria has the freedom to act and reset the balance of power."

    The King looked to his Chef d'État-Major des Armées. "General?"

    General Georges Broulard stroked his famous mustache and nodded slowly. "The Army is strong. 3rd Division, three of our finest armoured brigades, shields the patrie from outside attack. The Navy and Marines are ready for operations. There is still some question about what exactly Neustria will and will not get control of from Bourgogne. But that is more seins de sucre's side of the street."

    The Foreign Minister ignored the sexist gibe from the old man. The King turned his head and the Cardinal Escalus leaned down to whisper. After a moment, the King nodded, rose to his feet, and said, "Mademoiselle, discreet entreaties to Our neighbors, of course. And you must secure a base in the east. Azraq, Becosta, Siu Wui, it doesn't matter. But make it your top priority. General, We do not hope for war. But if war does come, make sure Our troops are able to march to sound of the guns and win."
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2019
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  4. Neustria

    Neustria Active Member

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    Sénéchal Segal and Foreign Minister Dumont walked though the gardens on the grounds of the old ducal palace. They should have been looking for the King, but were instead looking at the plants that were beginning to sprout and speaking of the upcoming royal ball. Both high officials were single workaholics and had often entertained the idea of getting together; both weren't getting any younger after all. But Joff and Laurine were too committed to their work schedules for anything more than a fling to satisfy their occasional need for the joie de vivre.

    The pair turned a corner at the end of a broad avenue of hedges to find King Charles standing next to a well dressed queer little man who was chattering about the garden. When the King noticed Segal and Dumont, he gave the little man an affectionate squeeze and a dismissal.

    Segal and Dumont approached. Dumont said sotto voce, "who is that? I have seen him around forever, but I've never found out who he is."

    Segal shrugged his shoulders. Sotto voce: "the other staff only say he is the gardener. When he is not gardening, he keeps to himself. Takes his meals privately. He is treated with a special kindness by the King."

    Segal shrugged his shoulders again before turning to the King and bowing to kiss hands. "Augustus serenissime."
     
  5. Neustria

    Neustria Active Member

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    Danièle was brought before the judge by two beefy cops in plainclothes and red armbands. She tried to wiggle free, but her hands were zip-typed and those same beefy cops firmly grasped her upper arms. Looking around, there were a couple of lawyers conferring with each other, some witnesses, and a few more cops in tactical outfits with auto rifles.

    One of the lawyers stepped forward, the better dressed one. "Marchessault, Danièle. Six-six-five-five-three-two-one. Solicitation, third offense."

    The judge, looking bored, asked, "how does she plead."

    The other lawyer, far more shabby than his colleague, whispered in Danièle's ear. "Plead guilty or you'll spend at least a year waiting for trial."

    She nodded, relunctantly.

    "Guilty, Your Honor."

    "Very well. Does she want reform school or military service?"

    The lawyer spoke up, not waiting for his client. "Military service would be preferable, Your Honor. I'm sure some time out of doors would do her some good."

    The lawyers, and a few of the cops sniggered at the private joke.

    "Very well. Marchessault, Danièle, six-six-five-five-three-two-one, you are sentenced to not less than ten years of military service."

    The judge took hold of his gavel and pounded hard.
     
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  6. Neustria

    Neustria Active Member

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    It was a familiar scene. Charles was sitting in his favorite chair, nursing a tumbler of Bourgogne's finest liquor. Apollon laid dutifully at his master's feet next to the warm fire. Seated or standing around the King were his closest advisors.

    The Foreign Minister, seated next to the King, placed a hand on the monarch's forearm. "Augustus Serenissime, Bourgogne is stonewalling the negotiations. They are counting on your frustration to get the best possible deal with Neustria."

    Charles took a sip from his glass. "What do you suggest, Laure?"

    Dumont looked up at General Broulard. The Chef d'État-Major des Armées explained, "Augustus, I am recommending we break off negotiations and keep what we have. Neustria came out of the split with manpower and equipment. Bourgogne also has assets, but nothing we need. The État-major and Foreign are in agreement: in a negotiated settlement, Neustria will lose."

    Absentmindedly, Charles reached out and rubbed Apollon's head. "Cardinal, what is the next move?"

    "Serenierre; we will need their words of support when negotiations are broken off. Surely they will be us when Gallia stands up to Germania."
     
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  7. Neustria

    Neustria Active Member

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    Danièle got the joke when she'd arrived at the BMC. During her working hours on her back, she only saw the light of day during breaks for a quick smoke or a snack. For the next two months, she served her country, laying with veterans old enough to be her papy and boys fresh out of boot.

    And then Danièle was called to le commandant's tent. Le commandant was a stern old woman who looked down at the girls with contempt. When Danièle arrived, le commandant excused herself, leaving Danièle along with a man she'd never seen before. She began to undress.

    "Monsieur, how do you like it?"

    The man looked away, embarrassed. "Non, non, non. Don't do that."

    Confused, Danièle pulled up her trousers and buttoned them. "Monsieur? You wear no uniform. You have no rank. Who are you?"

    The man turned back to Danièle. "La patrie needs your service, mademoiselle."

    Danièle made a face. "I serve la patrie, monsieur, many times a day."

    "Non, actual service, in which you may have to make the ultimate sacrifice. Or you can stay here for the next ten years. Up to you, mademoiselle."
     
  8. Neustria

    Neustria Active Member

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    King Charles tipped his bottle up to refill his glass. The bottle was an empty and nothing came out. Out of frustration, the King threw it into the fireplace.

    Apollon put his head to the floor and convered his eyes with his paws.

    It was a bad month. It was a bad week. It was bad day. Plans within plans within plans to reunite Bourgogne under a western regime were going nowhere. And now Neustria's own people were agitating for change at the top. Which meant Charles. The King picked up his phone and ordered another bottle be brought in.

    Elsewhere...

    Like his father, Prince Romain had vices. His was smoking the tobacco and cutting class to do so. Bad enough. But he had indulged in these vices on a regular schedule at a regular place for months.

    Behind the school where Romain puffed on his cigarillo, a white van slowly pulled up, as though it was on the way to the loading locks. Romain turned away in a half-hearted attempt to conceal his identity and his bad habit. In a moment, the side-door slammed open and two men in black balaclava's jumped out. They picked up the boy and manhandled him into the van which slowly pulled away so as not to attract attention. Inside the van, one of the men restrained Romain while the other pushed a needle into the boy's arm and dosed him to keep him quiet. Once the van was off school grounds, it picked up speed, taking the most direct route to the highway.
     
  9. Neustria

    Neustria Active Member

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    King Charles, looking pale and worn, approached the cluster of microphones. The queen was beside him, clutiching one of his arms to her breast, a drowning woman pulling down a drowning man. The director signaled as the camera's light turned red; they were live. But Charles just stood there, looking dumbly at the camera's lense.

    Foreign Minister Dumond broke the silence. "Serenissimus?"

    Charles glanced at the woman and then back at the camera. "Ah, yes, as of now, I abdicate the throne of Neustria..."

    Sénéchal Segal and Cardinal Escalus quickly approached the king, coming into the shot. It was the Cardinal who reminded Charles, "Serenissimus, negotiations, remember? Like we decided."

    Charles' face reddened and he snarled. "Va te faire foutre; you know they will kill my boy!"

    Dumont stepped in front of the camera then, blocking the shot. "The King is unwell. Go to commercial. Stop filming."
     

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