06.26.3013: Titanium Negotiations, Pt. 1
Summary: The Heir to Arboren has a proposition for the Larent Head of House.
Date: 26 June 2013
Related: None
Declan Percival 


Percival's Den — Sky Palace, Nubilus
Like other spaces in the Sky Palace, the Larent patriarch's den features a large arcing window displaying an exceptional panorama of Summit's domes and towers, laid out behind the desk at the center of the room to frame anyone seated at it amidst that sight. The room itself is very modern in its style, its surfaces and furniture all brushed metal, chrome and glass, with most of the latter panels and surfaces able to serve as computer displays as well. Where the windows give way to walls on either side of the entrance, a number of personal keepsakes and mementos are on display: a small bookshelf, a case with military medals and honors, an antique sword in its own little stand, and detailed replicas of several ramships, including both Percival's first assignment, the Crimson Hammer, and his present command, the larger Titan's Wake, with several other vessels represented as well. There is some spare seating, several couches and recliners, spread throughout these side areas. All of these, as well as the main desk, face toward a central point where a holographic orrery floats projected from the floor and ceiling above, slowly turning, displaying the planets of the Haven system.
26 June 3013

Like other spaces in the Sky Palace, the Larent patriarch's den features a large arcing window displaying an exceptional panorama of Summit's domes and towers, laid out behind the desk at the center of the room to frame anyone seated at it amidst that sight. The room itself is very modern in its style, its surfaces and furniture all brushed metal, chrome and glass, with most of the latter panels and surfaces able to serve as computer displays as well. Where the windows give way to walls on either side of the entrance, a number of personal keepsakes and mementos are on display: a small bookshelf, a case with military medals and honors, an antique sword in its own little stand, and detailed replicas of several ramships, including both Percival's first assignment, the Crimson Hammer, and his present command, the larger Titan's Wake, with several other vessels represented as well. There is some spare seating, several couches and recliners, spread throughout these side areas. All of these, as well as the main desk, face toward a central point where a holographic orrery floats projected from the floor and ceiling above, slowly turning, displaying the planets of the Haven system.

Percival is seated behind his desk, with the towers and domes of Summit behind him. He looks up from whatever work as a servant pages him about the new arrival, and issues a quick command to see his guest in. "Young Lord Arboren," he greets, with a polite nod but without rising from his seated place. "Please, make yourself comfortable."

This meeting has been preceded by an exchange of communications from House Arboren, no doubt some from the High Lady herself feeling out the Larent position, followed by a more formal request from Declan himself, expressing his interest in the would-be courtship. Of course these steps are ritualistic; any House would be quite eager to have one of their daughters married to the Heir of a Paramount, but despite the basic attractiveness of the match, numerous smaller details will remain. The Young Lord Arboren has come to negotiate these in his mother's place. "Lord Larent," he offers in return, stepping into the room once allowed admittance. "Thank you for having me. Let me pass on my mother's regrets that she is not able to attend. Recent matters have held her attention, and I have to take several of her meetings. In this case, it may be more practical, although it would be more traditional for the two of you to speak first."

Percival accepts both the greeting and the indirect message with a smaller nod. "Please extend my own well-wishes to the High Lady," he offers plainly. "Yes, I suppose it is better that the two of us simply get down to it. I presume this is what you wished to speak about privately during your House's recent visit to Summit, as well." Hands are neatly folded, and as he suggests, the elder Larent gets right to it: "So you wish to court and wed my younger daughter?" Although it may be a negotiation between Houses, the man seems very much the traditional father grilling a would-be suitor in the way he poses the question.

Well then. Declan has hardly taken a seat before Percival's desk when the question is put to him. The directness may surprise him, but it doesn't change the answer, and he gives a small nod. "Having discussed some of the various prospects with my mother, we feel it would be a suitable match. Lady Ariana and I have been socializing off and on for a small while now, and although our Houses are quite different, I think we might compliment one another, and create ties otherwise lacking, between the many moons of Oculus and our own earthbound House. Your daughter is intelligent and capable, and while many of the vassals of the Ring might feel as though they would have little to contribute in House Arboren, that they would be out of place, she would be able to transfer her botanical talents directly. So I feel that the match would prosper. Of course, for House Larent, it would provide not just a direct blood tie to the ruling line of a Paramount House, but an important alliance outside the Orelle sphere. As a military man, I need not tell you the value of having other lines of support."

Percival gives another crisp little nod. "Good. I'm glad we are clear on the basics here. And to get to the meat of it, I cannot disagree that superficially it is clearly a good catch for us, elevating her thusly. For that same reason, I must wonder a little at your motives. Why are you not seeking a tie with another Paramount? And why our house, when we stand quite distant on many important matters, on basic social policy and the Reversion, on technology and resources? A blood tie does not guarantee a useful alliance if policy otherwise places us on opposite sides of every issue."

"I am not convinced that the blind way the major Houses pair with one another is always the most thoughtful, for one thing," Declan answers. "People underestimate the… glacial nature of the Paramounts. Many of these Houses are already related in some fashion or another, and have long-standing ties which are not likely to suddenly change. Conversely, marrying to a rival House faces the same problem you just described, where a blood tie matters very little if you are otherwise still enemies. Simply put, a Paramount is not likely to change it's stripes in one way or the other, for something so small as a wedding. A marriage may seal a truce, but the will needs to be there first. And frankly, handing a blood link into your own House to a rival creates as many opportunities for them against you as vice versa." It's clear that Declan has plotted much of this out carefully. "Marriage to a vassal House provides more practical effect, I think, by very fact of the differences of scale and identity between them. The larger House provides new strength to its new ally, because it can more easily spare it - if you wed Lady Ariana to some child of one of the other moons, well, then you have a peer who must still look out for it's own interests with resources similar to your own. For our part, I feel that the smaller House is freer to move through the political landscape. As I said, the Paramounts are glacial. They move slowly, and cannot change position without scarring the land in the process. But a Vassal I think has a little more room to be fluid. So my feeling is that we have more to offer each other than you think."

Percival listens to Declan's rather lengthy, but clearly thought-out position on all of this. "Very well. Supposing I accept that theory of things, what is the the quid pro quo you are imagining in our case? The strength you will deliver to us, and more politically agile value we will deliver to you in turn?" Again, he proves a rather 'put the cards on the table' sort, the Captain.

Again, Declan seems somewhat prepared. "The High Lady has expressed to me some interests she has, regarding our future alliance, and I have some thoughts of my own." There is a momentary pause, as to gather his thoughts. "The obvious would be trade and military cooperation. Although this would be two-way, I think we can easily offer to be generous in a number of dimensions. For instance, my understanding is that Nubilus, along with most of the other Lashes, has minimal self-sufficiency in terms of even basic things like food and water. Obviously, these are things House Arboren has… in abundant supply. I'm sure we could agree to very favorable trade agreements, with your House offering us preferential status for your titanium exports." The next words seem a bit more weighted. "In terms of political adroitness… Well, as you've asked, I will come right out with it. We are seeking to garner extra support for Prince Emund against his sister. I am willing to wager that given your House's noble traditions, and your shared military education, you are probably not as sold on the woman as your Orelle lieges, since she seeks to circumvent the natural succession. So, we would appreciate your joining us in supporting the Crown Prince. You may know that my mother is a close friend of his, and we are confident that he can be roused from his grief, so long as we show him that we have faith in his leadership."

Percival has little in the way of surprising reactions to the discussion of titanium trading. It's probably something he spends a significant amount of his time dealing with, as it is the industry that makes his family what it is, and Summit the wealthy gem that it is as well. It's when the situation comes around to the royal political debate that that his brow furrows somewhat. "That may be," he notes generally of Declan's claims, "But voting against the Orelles will also cause difficulty for my own House. This is not a matter I had intended to push my family into; Emund may never recover, and it could leave us spurned by both our immediate liege and sovereign lord if we went against Orelle and the Princess." He taps a finger on the table, summoning up a display. "I am agreeable to the other terms, although I will have certain requirements regarding the trade that I will transmit to you for review. On the matter of the royal squabble, I must decline from promising action one way or the other, until I have ascertained the situation among all the Orelle vassals."

"Very well," is Declan's mild reply, showing no displeasure at the partial rebuttal. "I would not wish to place you within an untenable position. But I do not think the Crown Prince's cause is lost, and supporting him, even if it is not the easy or attractive option that his sister seems, will prove wiser in the long term. You know he is the wiser and more capable man, and she the more grasping and self-serving." Now he bows his head again. "House Arboren will review the trade matters. Assuming my mother is satisfied, I will contact you again shortly, to request permission to begin formal courtship."

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