Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Reception at Palace

Monte-Cristo, 20th July 1713

For the expected reception at Monte-Cristo Presipapal Palace, Marquis of Vilana had required the services of the Ecuries et Equipages coach they had at their disposal, which would take his retinue and himself at a slow pace, escorted on foot by the Royal Catalan Guards in two parallel rows. Simple as such procession was to be, nevertheless Vilana strongly expected it to sufficiently achieve the desired effect of cloning a diplomatic legacy of an already established, fully recognized sovereign state. It was not so a matter of personal pride, as a necessary propaganda staging, addressed to potential friends and foes.

As a mark of attention and respect for her security duties, Vilana also took care in exposing the plan to their attached Gardes de l'Etrier officer, Sous-lieutenant Claire Baizanville, who showed her full agreement as long as she could accompany the legacy inside the coach, all the way go and back. Vilana showed at first some reluctance to such proposal, fearing it might affect the solemnial appearance of the small parade, but in the end had to give up face to the so consistent arguments she exposed.

At the agreed time, the escort soldiers formed in the Hostel courtyard, waiting for the legate. Conscious as they were of the event high significance, these simple and honest men had spontaneously payed most attention to their uniforms and equipment, which they had left flawless, impolute and shiny after a handful of hard work hours. To Vilana’s acute perception, even a subtle soap flavor might be perceived emanating from the platoon...

With nearly everything ready to start the procession, finally Claire appeared in scene again, dressed in a manswear-fashioned costume -accurately cut-to-size coat and vest, of a light iridescent blue, with matching trousers and tricorne. Her only concessions to a genuine coquetterie were a couple of delicate earrings and the tight, tall riding boots she wore. She was plainly splendid, and the legates gallantly hurried to acknowledge her how much they were pleased at the sight. Once inside the coach, Claire then said: -I have just been acknowledged of a couple of events very recently happened in your Principality, Lord Vilana. If my sources are not wrong, the forces invading it have encountered some unexpected... nuisances. I thought you would be most interested in learning it all, before the reception -and then she delivered to the Marquis a written report she had been given before.

Marquis of Vilana hurriedly read the report with undisguised concern, and finally murmured: -A really unexpected problem, not only for the Two Crowns, but for us either... The Imperial garrison of a town has not only rejected evacuating their positions face to the Spaniards, but has even engaged them in fight; local population have joined them, and have even been reinforced by one of our battalions... I should be happy for such gallantry, but this incident can seriously compromise the position of our King Charles face to King Louis, who might accuse him of violating the terms of truce between them... I am most grateful for this key information, Claire -he concluded, and worriedly abstracted himself to reflect on eventual implications the incident might report.

When the Catalan parade finally arrived in front of the Presipapal Palace of Monte-cristo, Lieutenant Leibnitz observed that one of the very first targets of the sage diplomat had been fulfilled: a crowd had slowly been gathering close to the Palace entrance for watching that small yet colourful procession, whose passage was several times applauded; just as themselves were discretely applauded too when descending from the coach. It was a minor goal, however: now it was the turn for their main act, where all their senses and skills should be most aware of the tiniest detail or gesture... The throne room was plenty of distinguished Court personages, as well as some foreign guests, only a few of whom were known to Vilana. There was Sir Robert Walpole, a prominent politician of the Whig Party and a close advisor of the Duke of Marlborough, who discretely greeted Vilana as he passed close to him. The Marquis heart speeded, as his glance fruitlessly started seeking any Imperial representative all around the room, but soon reassured himself when finally distinguished a couple of gentlemen from German States such as Beerstein or Herrschaden, who also greeted him in a discreet way. Vilana was convinced there should be Spanish and French representatives too, but he was unable to ubicate them in the room, if any.

When finally face to the throne, where the Prince Ovationné par le Peuple was awaiting him, Vilana adressed to him these words: -Your Highness, let me greet in behalf of the Principality of Catalonia/Galatea the immense hospitality and courtesy dispensed to this aged, humble emissary who is talking to Your Highness. Let me also express the wishes of peace and sincere fraternity with Monte-Cristo that my homeland has entrusted me to publicly acknowledge. As an undoubtedly humble albeit sincere mark of such wishes, I have also been entrusted to award Your Highness with our highest sign of respectability and nobility: the Cross of Sant Jordi d'Alfama, recently set by our Parliament in behalf of an ancient Military Order of that very same name, as a symbolic remembrance of the indissoluble bond of the Principality with the awarded personage or institution. This is our first ever awarded Cross.

14 comments:

abdul666 said...

Louys insists to publicly express his deep emotion to be honoured with the very first Cross of Sant Jordi d'Alfama.
The traditional Monte-Cristan neutrality notwithstanding, he wants to officially manifest in that way where his sympathies lie, with regard to... 'unsightly' orders recently issued to the Hispanian invaders of Galatea.
Monte-Cristo loves peace, but even more abhors wanton cruelty.

abdul666 said...

While lovely sous-lieutenant Claire Baizanville looks barely 25, she actually turned 30 a few months ago. Yet she already had more adventures -and probably killed many more men- than most 'gentlemen of fortune' during their entire life.

According to French tradition, as recorded in popular songs, it's at 15 that bold girls take the plunge of 'adventuring'. Indeed she was still 14 old when (being from Normandy, where the call of the sea is strong) she dressed like a boy and enlisted aboard a merchantship sailing to the Antilles. Once in the Caribbean she soon turned Pirette: it was at that time that a young British colonial wrote a touching poem after dreaming of her death.

After a few years she decided to live from her weapons skills on dry land, dressed in man's clothes again and went back to Europe to become a professional duelist. Her repute drew the attention of the Secret du Roy and she entered French service -either posing as an innocent damsel (soon known in some circles as 'La Belle Dame sans Pitie') or masquerading as a young chevalier. Her service records are secret (a copy is kept in the locked files at the Presipapal Palace) but were oustanding. Thus, when a bounty was placed on her head across most of Europe (fortunately under various descriptions and names of both sexes), she was invited to join the Gardes de l'Etrier in Monte-Cristo.

Again her career was dazzling: sous-lieutenant does not sound much, but in this minuscule elite unit is already a senior field rank. And the Gardes are not promoted for their impeccable parades but for their achievements as Operatifs of the Bureau de la Surete Nationale: brilliant investigators / counterspies -and troubleshooters discreetly eliminating the troublemakers. There are *hundreds* of other 'Beautiful Ladies without Pity' in Monte-Cristan service, but few as beautiful as her, or as lethal, and -with two notable exceptions- not at the same time.

Then, while when duty requires it she can be a remorseless killer -either patient as a black widow spider when using poison or sniper rifle, or a deadly whirlwind of cold steel- Claire is basically a lovable, kind, obliging and joyful person: she would not had be invited to Monte-Cristo otherwise. Indeed she is seen here as an *angel* -according, of course, not to any Church's canon, but to Monte-Cristan ethos: gentle, generous with her friendship, but turning to a merciless 'warrior angel' when our 'peace and love' way of life is threatened.

Bluebear Jeff said...

Bravo . . . a lovely cross by the way.


-- Jeff

Capt Bill said...

Reich Duke Wilhelm von Beerstein would welcome a visit from your Ambassador, Marquis of Vilana, to establish diplomatic relations. The good Marquis would surely enjoy his stay in our capital of Kronenberg...

abdul666 said...

Lord de Vilana failed to notice her -ambassadors as rule are male- but Countess Patronelle d'Anis, the Cavenderian ambassadrix, was of course present; as usual, side by side with the Herrschaden representative.

Tactfully, the marquis chose not to remark the absence of any churchman in the assembly...

Soldadets said...

Bill,

If, at his return to Galatea, he is re-appointed by the Principality's General Deputation, the Marquis of Vilana will be most honoured to visit Kronenberg and set the bases for a long, friendly relationship...

(Actually, his own Imagi-Nation's time is currently still set in times of Maria-Theresa's father, Charles; so that you might use this event as the starting point of an 'old' adventure storyboard for any of your own characters; or alternatively we might agree 'passing over' the time issue, or... who knows?

Glad to share this imagi-world with you, I'm enjoying it a lot!

Soldadets said...

Jean-Louis,

Marquis de Vilana felt for an instant overhelmed with responsibility when failed to locate any representative of Emperor Charles. This is most likely the reason why he failed to recognize many dignataries, either official as Ambassador Mme. d'Anis, or unofficial as probably were the French and Spanish lords undoubtedly attending the event.

;)

Soldadets said...

Jeff,

The Galatan medal is actually the graphic combination of three *real* medals: the contemporary Saint George Cross yearly awarded by the Generalitat of Catalonia to prominent citizens/institutions (the central device), a Canadian Red Cross medal (the background cross) and a condecoration awarded to Catalan volunteers in the WWI French Army (breast needle and piece of cloth)...

...a real Frankenstein of medals!!!

:D

Soldadets said...

Claire is *only* 30 years old? Ohhhh... she might likely be the De Vilana's daughter!! :D

(Leibnitz will be most pleased at it, although this data reveals him to be quite younger than Claire...)

Jokes apart, I've committed myself to work shortly a biography of Marquis de Vilana, to be posted at the "Who is who" page of my blog. As for his age, I've supposed him to be about 50 years in 1713.

abdul666 said...

As for the relationships between Beerstein and Galatea, time is as elastic as space in the 'Emperor vs Elector' avatar of the Multiverse: most countries 'live' by SYW time, Monte-Cristo and Saint-Vignobles slightly after Fontenoy, Herrschaden and Galatea ± during the WSS... and all coexist merrily without difficulty!

abdul666 said...

Claire Baizanville came in breeches and riding boots in case Lord de Vilana would have adamantly refused her to ride in the legation coach. Yet she maintains a skirt has advantages: she looks more feminine and innocuous, and she can conceal a good part of her weapons under it; besides, her razor blades-lined fan would look incongruous with a manly attire. In the present case the Belle Dame sans Merci came with her heavy pistols pushed into her boots -given the military escort, and having made sure the Galatan muskets are loaded and primed, she left them with her horse at the Hostel. Her 'pepperbox' multi-barrelled minipistol and throwing knife are hidden up her sleeves, instead of the two leaded darts she usually carries there -as a substitute she has two throwing stars in her purse, but feels less expert with them. Her palasz sword and Garde 'left hand' dagger she of course wears openly.

Lieutenant Leibnitz will not know Claire's real age until she chooses to tell him: no gentleman would mention the age of a woman! What counts is what she looks like. And if she is sparkling with weapons, "Qui s'y frotte s'y pique" only if she feels offended...

abdul666 said...

The knowledgeable Marquis de Vilana does not really have to tell young lieutenant Leibnitz that in minuscule Monte-Cristo a sous-lieutenant of the Gardes ranks socially higher than a brigadier in 'normal' countries.

Then, in 'normal' countries a 'marechal de camp' sunbathing in zerokini is a rare sight indeeed...

abdul666 said...

If I may hitchhike this thread (though some details of the references may be visual predictions of a near future?):
Converted 'Shivans' would probably look like a feminine version of this 'adventurer'.
("Le Scorpion": French 'bande dessinée' / comics – swashbuckling adventures in the 18th C., with more than a touch of 'Pulp').

Soldadets said...

You're always in advance of my movements, Jean-Louis! :D

The Shivans Conversion Way has already started, at least in a narrative sense -as you can read by my latest written scene ;)