A Duchess' Bargain

This is an in-character game thread from Changeling: In Love and War. (This page is not Creative Commons licenced.)


Nyano strode from Abel's room to the main banquet hall; a raccoon on a
mission with no time to spare. Thus, he looked somewhat
disheartened to find that she wasn't there. After briefly
scanning the room, Nyano headed across the floor - liberating chocolate
ice cream in the process - and headed out of the opposite door.

As he reached the top of the stairs near Regara's room, Nyano encountered the lady herself heading his way.

"Ah, Nyano, I'm glad you're here," she said. "Everything is going okay, I trust?"


Nyano looks relieved to find his quarry, and then finally he lets go of
his tightly held compusure and sinks to the floor in a stressed out

"Everything's not ok! Some idiot tried to poison the party, he sneaked
into the kitchens and dosed a lot of the food with what he thought was
poison. It turns out that someone made a mistake, and it's not poison,
but all the guests think they've been poisoned, and house honeysuckle
saved them.

Abel and I have got him locked up in the tower of paranoia. Some noble
called Indigo used sovereign to order him to poison the party and gave
him a plan that virtually guaranteed that he'd get caught. Apparently
he's was offered enough money to feed his starving family, and has a
grudge against the reds anyway, so he wasn't unwilling to do it. I
think it's all just a plan by the whites to poison a bunch of red
nobles, but Akane is convinced it has something to do with the black
rose comittee for no good reason. We had a huge argument about what was
going to happen to him, and now I've finally found you to sort it out.

I think you should give him a trial immediately and in public. We can
repeat the questioning we gave him in private, he's already confessed
to me, Abel, Akane and Hugh. He still thinks he successfully poisoned
everybody. So it's a pretty straightforward case. I think he has to be
sentenced to death to appease the visiting nobles, but he only did this
because he was Commanded to, and he wouldn't have been in such a bad
situation if his liege hadn't abandoned him, it's not fair to kill him.

I'm willing to offer to take him and his family on as indentured
servants if that would be possible. He's scared to death of me, so
it'll look like a fitting punishment. Akane wants to offer his family a
place in the house honeysuckle hospital as healers, but I really don't
think that's a good idea. What if they turn her down? They'll have even
more of a grudge against us, and there's this damn Indigo person
floating about who could use the pathos of the situation to do really
nasty stuff to us, AND she'd be splitting the family up, since he can't
very well go and be a healer after this.

I don't know what to do anymore, I've sorted the situation out for the minute, but I really needs your help now."

Nyano looks down at the floor at this, his shoulders slumped in exhaustion.


"Wait," said Regara, her own stress for a moment superseding
alarm. "Let's start from the beginning of that again. The
guests have been poisoned, but not with actual poison, and they were
'cured' by House Honeysuckle? What is this, a Honeysuckle
publicity stunt? What's happened to the guests, are they all
still here?"


"There was some sort of mixup with the poison. The bottle marked as
poisonous didn't actually have any poison in it. When we questioned it,
it mumbled something about another bottle that was supposed to be used
to poison a party full of people.

I don't know quite what happened with the guests since I was
restraining the poisoner, but when I got to the main hall house
honeysuckle were dispensing 'antidote' and the guests seemed to be
happy to take it. Gustaffsen and I had checked the bottle and
discovered that it had no poison in it, so I assumed someone had
started dispensing antidotes to the guests before we finished our

The guests were all there and looking fine when I last saw them. I
think Cain and Illandra are looking after them, but it would probably
help if you were there. I'm sure the guests have been told that someone
tried to poison them."


"Right," said Regara. "We're going to the Hall right now.
The guests are our top priority, so long as your prisoner is secure we
can deal with him later."

Regara stomped down to the banquet hall with Nyano in tow. Her
explosive entrance drew rather too many peoples' attentions, but it was
immediately clear to the Duchess that the party was still underway - no
great number of people had left, and there was still an air of
celebration and inebriation.

The Duchess stood in front of the top table, and bellowed.


The room was suddenly silent, and the voices of her son and
daughter-in-law-to-be did not answer her. Regara surveyed the
stunned crowd, and could not see their faces.

Thus, she picked the most likely person to know what the hell was going on.



Barely a minute later Abel skidded into the banquet hall, shortly followed by an equally high-speed Akane.

"Ah! There you are," said Regara. "Cain and Ilandra were supposed to be looking after the guests; where are they?"

"Last I heard, they said they were going back to Honeysuckle Cottage
for a while," said Abel. "What's the problem? The party
still seems to be going well. To be honest, what with the
theatrical nature of the exposition and the rapid administering of the
antidote, I suspect that half the party just believed it to be some
form of avant-garde staged event."

Regara looked around the room, then sighed.

"Right," she said, "that I suppose deals with part of the
problem. Now, Nyano, what did you say about this supposed


"He was caught by the kitchen staff carrying a half empty bottle marked
poison. I interrogated him, and he said his name was Albert and someone
called Indigo something made him do it. Apparently he was going to be
paid enough gold to feed his starving family. Gustaffssen checked the
bottle to see what kind of poison it was, but it turned out not to be
poisoned at all.

So I locked Albert up in the dungeon and came here to find everybody
acting like there was a big poisoning going on. We figured this Indigo
Something was probably trouble, so Abel and Akane and I went to
interrogate the 'poison' bottle. It rambled a lot but I got the
impression from what it said that a mistake had been made by Indigo,
who did indeed want to poison the nobles at the party, but had
accidentally issued Albert with a bottle that didn't actually contain
any poison.

Then Akane wanted to interrogate the prisoner as well, he didn't really
say anything new, but she promissed to look after him. Then we had an
argument about what should be done with him and his family.

I think he should be tried immediatly to prevent us looking bad to our
guests, since he willingly tried to poison all these people I think
it's unavoidable that we're going to have to sentence him to death. I
think that's unfair, since he's being manipulated by Indigo, and want
to have his formal death sentence commuted to indentured servitute for
him and his family to me. That way they can continue in the lifestyle
they're used to, we don't look weak to our allies, and I can look after
him and his family and prevent Indigo from manipulating them any
further. We could possibly even catch Indigo in a trap if he does try
and contact them.

Akane wants to offer his family a positions as healers of house
honeysuckle. I don't think that's a good idea, since I doubt all of
them will take her up on her offer, and I suspect that any that don't
are going to be used by Indigo to attack us, because we'll either have
killed or imprisoned their father. Not to mention that her plan
involves splitting their family up.

I think that's everything."


Akane shook her head. "That's close to what I had in mind, Your Grace,
but not exactly. I suggested training some members of Albert's family -
not Albert himself, as it would be understandably difficult to trust
him - as healers, after they have lived on Honeysuckle land for some
time and their loyalty can be trusted.

"I suggested that we be the ones to look after him and his family
because, as we are a neutral house, they cannot resent us for the
actions of either of the two factions in the war; furthermore, because
we lost so many people, we can easily offer them all the land they can
farm, which means they are not likely to go hungry again.

"Furthermore, I believe I have treated Albert in a way which will
ensure that he and his family choose loyalty to House Honeysuckle of
their own free will, and make them unlikely to retaliate against us. I
explained what the two likely outcomes of his trial are, and offered to
request that I receive custody of him and his family if Your Grace
would grant this, and he said that he would like to come with me, if it
is possible.

"Apparently the war has left a lot of peasants starving and angry. If
Albert's entire family is indentured for a choice that only he made, I
am afraid that will make the populace resentful, whereas if he is
indentured to me and asks his family to come live on our lands as free
commoners, both House Honeysuckle and
House Poppy will not be seen as weak, but rather as friends to the
dispossessed, which will make it far more difficult for this Indigo to
find agents amongst them.

"I am willing to go retreive the man's family myself, should Your Grace
choose to cede their custody to House Honeysuckle, perhaps as a token
of the trust and alliance which exists between us due to the upcoming
marriage between your son and my cousin. I hope you will consider
this," she finished, keeping her tone as respectful and diplomatic as


"Dispossessed... Resentful... Hmm," mused Regara. "I
think I would like to speak to this 'Albert' myself. Where is he
being held?"

"Er... He's in Duke Ignacious' room, at the moment," said Abel.

"In Duke Ign... Right. Very well."

Regara clicked her fingers, and the ever-lurking Mister Chicken appeared by her side.

"Thank you for your efforts," she said to the three young nobles.
Then she turned and made for the door, her servant clucking along
before her to open the doors in her way.

OC: Do whatever you like - chase Regara, be social
with the guests, disembowel each other with spoons... Regara will
be back in half an hour. If you don't want to do anything of
importance in the meantime, poke me and I'll continue with Regara's


Akane turned to Nyano. "I'd like to apologise for my strong reaction to
your words earlier. If you got the impression that I was planning to
immediately award Albert's family positions of trust within our House
with no need that they prove their loyalty beforehand, then I'm not
surprised that you found it a stupid idea and told me so. Whilst I'm
sure we still disagree on certain things and probably will again, I
think we also misunderstood each other, and I'm hoping we can put that
aside and work together if we need to do so again in the future," she
said to the Scoutmaster.


Nyano bows politely to Akane.

"I'm the one who should be apologising, I was ruder than you were.
Whatever happens now is up to the Duchess, we should go back to being

Nyano turns back to Akane as he's leaving.

"I only argued with you because I like you. If I didn't think
your opinion mattered, I wouldn't have bothered to listen to it!"


Akane grinned at the retreating Nyano. "Just don't ask me what an
Aardvark is and why I want to drink it, because I couldn't explain that
if I tried, and I'm sure we'll have no trouble getting along..."


Half an hour passed, and the party had begun to die down
somewhat. A good proportion of the guests had retired to bed, and
the majority of the remainder were either massively full, very drunk or
both, and thus inclined to do little other than sit or fall over
wherever they happened to be. Some of the more sober guests were
gathered around one of the large fireplaces, taking it in turns to tell
stories and recite poems. Across the room, some of the less sober
guests were singing. They weren't taking turns.

Into this room walked the now rather tired-looking Duchess Regara, who quickly rounded up Nyano and Akane.

"Right," she said. "I'll formally announce this at breakfast
tomorrow, on the off-chance that any of our visitors are awake in time,
so don't breathe a word of this to anyone.

"There is another threat to the way of things in Arcadia, perhaps more
worrisome than any colour of Rose. If what I have learned from
Albert is true, it is high time we expended a little more effort in
dealing with the common folk and their ambition.

"Thus, I have decided the following. Akane, I have no right to
issue you orders, but I believe you wish to retrieve Albert's family
and bring them under the protection of House Honeysuckle. This I
will permit you to do, provided I or another Poppy has access to each
member of his family, privately, before they come under your
care. You are also to tell us anything you find out about the
movement of troops in Hyacinth lands, the general mood of their
peasantry, and any specific information regarding 'Indigo'.

"Nyano, we have a great deal of work to do in order that we are to be
respected again by the Reds. Sending any of our troops into
Hyacinth lands would risk that, along with valuable lives.
However, inform our spies of Indigo and his intentions. By hook
or by crook we will have him, and we will dispense justice ourselves."


Akane processed Regara's words. Another threat, more worrisome than any colour of Rose...
"Your Grace, from what Albert told me, Indigo seemed to be a noble, and
therefore I assumed whatever malice he was plotting was unrelated to
the commoners' suffering. What agency is it you fear?

"I will set out to retrieve Albert's family as soon as I can; I hope
you will will ask your people to share with me any information they may
already have about the state of the Hyacinth lands and the movements of
the troops there, and of course I will let them know whatever I find
out as soon as I return. I understand that it is politically
inadvisable for you to send any troops onto Hyacinth lands with me, but
if you would permit one or two men to wait for me near the border in
case I am followed when I emerge, I would be most grateful for that.

"As the family is to be under my care, I would also appreciate it if
you would tell me as much as you are willing about the questions your
people are to ask them, as it will fall to House Honeysuckle to make
sure that they do not intend any harm to us or our allies whilst under
our care.

"I appreciate your trust, Duchess, and I will do my best for both our Houses," she bowed.


Nyano bowed very low to his liege.

"As you command your grace."

Then he turned and marched out into the castle.


"Of course," Regara said to Akane, "It would do no good to send you
unprepared. Nyano will be speaking to the spies now I believe,
and I will do likewise later tonight. Tomorrow, either he or I
will tell you everything we know that would be helpful to you.
Regarding the questions I wish to ask his family, that may depend on
the events that unfold when you collect them, and thus you will be told
shortly before the questioning takes place."


Akane nodded at Regara. "That sounds fair, Your Grace. If they
cooperate, I hope they will be treated courteously, as I would prefer
for them to not begin their service to House Honeysuckle resenting us
or our allies. But all this can certainly wait for tomorrow. I am
grateful to see that tranquillity has reasserted itself at the feast,
and that's enough for now; I am sorry your homecoming had to suffer the


"Of course," said Regara. "And, dear, there is no need for an
apology. It is not as if the interruptions tonight were of your


Fifteen minutes or so after he left Nyano returns to the main hall and makes his way to the duchess.

"The message has been sent." he says.


"Very well," Regara said to Nyano. "Thank you. Now, what
with all the excitement we've been having this evening, I believe I
will now be retiring. Not that I foresee anything else
particularly troublesome occurring, but as always I leave our safety in
your hands."


Nyano bows to Regara, and then looks across the hall until he catches the eye of one of the guards.

He nods towards Regara twice, and smiles happily when the guard snaps to attention and leaves through a side door.

Safe in the knowledge that as soon as the duchess retires for the night
three guards will be posted at her door. Nyano thinks about returning
to his own rooms for the night, for it was getting quite late, and he
was up way past his bedtime.


"Good night, Your Grace," Akane bowed as Regara retreated. "You too,
Nyano," she added, "I think I'm going to head off to Honeysuckle
Cottage. Regara told me to find you tomorrow morning for a briefing on
the state of the Hyacinth lands, so I'll see you then," she smiled at
him as she headed off.

She moved out of Castle Poppy as the sounds of flagging revelry faded
behind her, and headed over the rolling hills towards home, until
Honeysuckle Cottage and the hospital were both in view. She headed
towards the latter and found the nurse on night duty, who happened to
be Susie; the nymph looked a bit dishivelled, but was positively
glowing - probably because was accompanied by an even more dishivelled
but equally delighted-looking Duke Willow, and they were heading
towards the office.

"Hey, Susie. Do we have any cases that need looking after?"

"Akane! Welcome back, it's been so long! I thought I saw you at the feast - what are you doing
here at this hour of the night?" the flustered nurse inquired.
"Nevermind, err, I'm sure we can find something for you to do," Susie
grinned. "Nice timing, by the way."

"By all means enjoy yourself," Akane winked. "What have we got?"

"A couple of flu cases in Ward Seven, wear a mask of course, I'm sure
you remember the drill; a farmer who accidentally chopped at his foot
with an axe and the wound went septic in Four who'll need the bandages
changed and the foot cleaned every few hours, and a few battle
casualties in Two that have been here a while and by now mostly need to
rest, but keep an eye on them anyway. Ooooh!" Susie squealed as Duke
Willow's hands strayed towards her perfectly-formed backside. "You can
work all night if you like, but I'll be doing...paperwork in my office
so don't interrupt!" Susie finished conspiratorially as she was dragged

Akane nodded. "Have someone drop me in a bunk when I pass out," she said, and got to work.

((OOC: We'll pretend Nyano got that in before I edited...hehe))


"I guess I'll see you in the morning then."

Nyano says to Akane before leaving the hall for the last time that night.

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