The Salon: Military Might, Decent Diplomacy, or Mysterious Mu--disappearances
March 9, 2018, 8 p.m.
Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Velenosa Estate - Reflections Library
Comments and Log
"Mmmmm, it is not so clear-cut as that. Or rather, you would be hard-pressed to find a single family that didn't have a noble bastard or two mucking about in the family tree. Yes, lineages matter. Family matters. So why has it been alright to ennoble so many commoners without a drop of noble blood in their veins, but not two children that have noble blood from at least one side of their family? But these are the sorts of debates that spark the heated fights in journals as occurred earlier." Belladonna makes her counter-argument, playing the devil's advocate even as she offers a small nod of greeting to Waldemai for his entrance.
Archimedes the White Horned Owl arrives, delivering a message to Belladonna before departing.
"I don't think either are acceptable," Saoirse says evenly to Belladonna before turning toward the newcomers. "I-- suppose we'll give it a few minutes. Feel free to have some wine while we wait for arrivals."
Orazio follows a servant in, dressed in his fine robes. He thanks the servant gravely, and looks around with interest. First, a bow to those assembled. "Good evening. A most intriguing topic." And then, he turns and gets a glass of newly tested wine. Wine is important.
Silvio comes into the debate and lingers near the back, likehe might need to duck out. He leans against the back of one of the couches and just sees who shows up to this thing. He does wave to Waldemai, and smiles to Saoirse.
Sybilla, the Lenosian lady's maid, Hiss, the Lenosian viper, 5 Velenosa House Guards, Oleander, Eleyna's Tarantula, Bianchetta, a powerful white Ostrian horse arrive, following Eleyna.
Sybilla, the Lenosian lady's maid, Hiss, the Lenosian viper, 5 Velenosa House Guards, Oleander, Eleyna's Tarantula, Bianchetta, a powerful white Ostrian horse leave, following Eleyna.
Saoirse sits in the exact center of the couches arranged to 'listen only'. With wine. Of course there's wine. AND, because you're at a Velenosa estate, there's also an appointed wine taster who, as each and every bottle is uncorked, takes the first glass. See? No death today!
Saoirse has joined the Scandal Couch.
Belladonna nods to Saoirse, sipping lightly from her glass of wine and smiling faintly. Legate Orazio gets a nod of greetng, along with a murmured, "Legate. You have come at an interesting moment. Perhaps you would care to share your thoughts on the matter?"
Orazio lifts his glass to take the smallest sip. Ah, yes, clearly the vintage meets with the Legate's approval, for he is smiling as he turns to Belladonna and Saorise. "What matter is that, if I might ask?" He glances over the couches, clearly trying to decide where might be most appropriate to sit.
1 Redrain novice guards arrives, following Kieran.
"Oh, the ennoblement of Abbas' bastards," Saoirse says. She adds, as an afterthought, "And then denoblement." There. See? Fair to all!
Archimedes the White Horned Owl arrives, delivering a message to Orazio before departing.
1 Grayson Guardsmen, Thalia, a beautiful lady-in-waiting arrive, following Roxana.
"Right -- that's a different debate though," Saoirse points out. "One I'm -happy- to host. It sounds terrifically problematic."
The princess Saoirse Velenosa, who is in the 'listening' area of the couches, glances around and addresses the room, "We are going to be debating how best to handle international conflict. I would like to know who wishes to argue what side -- military action, diplomatic resolution, or mur-uh, subterfuge?" Saoirse looks at her assistant. "Is that what we're calling it? Subter--yes, okay, that's what it is. /Subterfuge/." You can almost HEAR her WINKWINK because it's not just subterfuge, YANNO?!
"Before we begin, I want to remind everyone of an extremely important set of rules. First, there /is no wrong or right/. There is no moral code here; your arguments do not reflect who you are as a person and you're free to not believe a word you argue. That's the fun of it. Second, you may not play it safe. You are not arguing for a combination of tactics, but ONE. How will it work? How will it succeed where the others fail? So! please let me know which side you would like to take. If too many people pick one, I will randomly assign you to something."
Kieran slips into the library unfashionably late, wearing his usual common attire. After a quick scan of the crowd, he notes, "Apologies for the delay. I figured I should attend a few of these before people revoke my membership." He then eyes the available seating. "Oh! The misconduct couch is open!"
Kieran has joined the The Misconduct Couch.
Orazio clucks his tongue, briefly, at Saorise. "Your highness, I understood that their ennoblement was an unfortunate misunderstanding caused by a staff member. One can hardly be denobled if one was never ennobled in the first place, and I, of course, trust the Duchess' word completely in her intentions." He flashes a smile towards said Duchess, then quiets to listen to the rules. After they've been spoken, he says, "Please put me down into the Diplomacy camp, although if the mur--subterfuge camp ends up needing anyone addition, it might be amusing to take up that flag."
"We've been discussing the various stances surrounding the ennobling of commoners and-.." Bella trails off as Saoirse starts the evening's activity with a bang. Smiling faintly she lifts her free hand and offers, "I will take the mur-subterfuge side, if you please. That seems most interesting." Looking aside to Orazio, she gives a nod in return and offers a few words with the light smile still gracing her lips, "Thank you, Legate. You are correct, but it was a rousing bit of fun to debate while we waited."
Silvio turns his eyes to Orazio and smiles lightly. He drifts nearer to the man, looks him up and down, and with his hands folded behind his back, he asks curiously, "Have you great experience with diplomacy?
Saoirse glances between Belladonna and Orazio. "Sorry," she says, evidently genuinely. "But do feel free to weave the debate back to this topic." She smiles that lopsided smirky smile. Then it fades away. Back to chill.
Only slightly late, Roxana Grayson arrives to the discussion group with her lady-in-waiting in tow. "My sincere apologies everyone, I had completely lost track of the time." With that she glances around for somewhere to sit and gracefully lowers herself to a seat.
Kieran flops down unceremoniously onto the couch, "I will take whatever side has the fewest supporters. I am flexible like that." He then eyes the wine and grumbles at himself for not having grabbed some before lazing on the couch.
Orazio smiles back at Silvio, and offers a bow. "I have some, your highness. I was raised in the Lyceum, myself, and my parents did not neglect my education in the more subtle arts. Whether I choose to use them or not, of course, is a thing chosen moment by moment," he adds, deadpan but with an amused twinkle in his eyes.
Desiree glances to those here and pauses to look at Saiorse. "Interesting choices. Perhaps military action sounds best. " She looks for a place to sit.
There's a clank clank in the library, the sound of steel clink-clanking against steel. The huge form of Sir Jeffeth Bayweather appears in the library. The Knight of Solace looks like a man that Does Not Belong. It's not that he's just a big huge knight, wearing full plate, in a library. It's also the way he walks into the Velenosan estate. His hands slightly raised, and every footfall scared as if he's about to be told he's not supposed to be here. Or that he might knock over the three hundred thousand silver glass statue of a painting. Or something.
Sir Jeffeth Bayweather is friends-sort of- with Princess Saoirse and is here for support. But he's awful nervous about it. The huge man slowly approaches the group with an uneasy and sheepish smile on his features.
"Oh, Jeffeth," Saoirse says, pointing at the knight. "You can -- great. Got it. Sit there," she gestures to the refined sofa, then launches into:
"We will argue this in teams," Saoirse announces, names in hand. "Arguing for military on the Decadent Couch: Kieran, Desiree
Arguing for diplomacy on the Inviting Couch: Orazio, Roxana
And arguing for ... "subterfuge" on the refined sofa: Belladonna
The princess takes a lengthy pull of wine. Yum. "The general structure is this? I will call on one person from each side to present an opening statement. If you wish for something to make it into that person's statement, I suggest you whisper it quickly! I will interject with questions frequently because I want to. Then, after that round, we will continue with two rounds of rebuttals? or until I get bored. And once we're all done there, I'll call for closing statements and I'll decide who won based one hundred percent on merit /completely/," her eyes brighten a little.
"You should feel free to talk amongst yourselves, to strategize your arguments.
Orazio has joined the Inviting Couches.
Kieran has left the The Misconduct Couch.
Waldemai settles back. Debates usually zoom over his head, but they are fun to watch.
Kieran has joined the Decadent Couch.
Desiree has joined the Decadent Couch.
Jeffeth has joined the a refined black leather sofa with detailed nailhead trim.
Kieran rises from the couch he claimed with a sigh, but he quickly cheers as he now has a chance to grab a glass of wine, which he readily does, as he makes his way to the decadent couch. He sits next to Desiree and gives her a nod if greeting. "Let's kick their collective backsides, shall we?"
Belladonna has joined the a refined black leather sofa with detailed nailhead trim.
Once everyone has settled into their places, Saoirse speaks again. "First, I'd like to call Desiree up. Let's hear the opening argument for why military might is the best, most effective way to handle international relations," Saoirse says, somehow speaking WHILE she's drinking wine. What a party trick.
Silvio grins as the debate gets started, but heads on out of the place, after a messenger comes to fetch him.
The large knight slowly sits down where instructed, smiling brightly at Belladonna. It could be quite clear that Jeffeth has no idea what's going on and isn't necessarily listening entirely to the teams and what they will be arguing. Or that he has technically been placed on a team. The large man sits down happily with a bright smile. Placing his hands in his lap to listen to whatever this fun thing is that's happening.
Belladonna takes a seat carefully on the refined couch, careful to leave the large knight plenty of space for himself. Leaning in to refill her wine glass, she casts a glance to her teammate and murmurs softly to him.
Kieran immediately begins whispering to Desirer as Saoirse calls on her to speak.
Orazio settles down in a rustle of cloth at the inviting couches, sipping his wine as he watches everyone settle into their seats. He whispers something to Roxana as things are arranged.
Jeffeth is immediately bouncing back onto his feet to bow to Belladonna before he falls back into the couch and speaks to her softly.
Desiree sits and looks to Kieran. She smiles and nods. She speaks confidently. "Yes let's." As her name is called she stands and steps forward. "Military might is best because it intimidates people, and if needed you'll be prepared to protect your own interests." She shakes her head to Kieran.
Kieran hops up and adds, "And if you disagree with us, we will thump you, thus proving our point!" He retakes his seat with a quiet clearing of his throat.
Saoirse waits for a while, staring at Desiree as if the princess thinks there may be more. Is there more? She waits - it's bordering on awkward. Then Kiernan speaks! "Okay! Military might, intimidating. Any... facts you want to cite? How you plan to prove your issue? Or?" The princess waits again, juuuust to be sure Desiree is done. AYUP! Seems so! "I'd like to call Sir Jeffeth to make opening statements for ...'subt-urder'. I mean. Sorry. Subterfuge."
Desiree looks at Kieran with amusement and takes her seat.
Kieran looks to Saoirse and holds up a clenched fist, "The only facts we need are our fists." He looks around the room, "And who needs a good proving?" Yes, the scrawny Redrain prince is trying to be intimidating.
"Oh my gods," Saoirse says in mock-horror to Kieran. "This isn't an actual international incident, put those -away-."
Kieran replies with a grin as he sits back. "It /could/ be made to be."
Slowly standing from the sofa, Jeffeth's eyes are wide on Saoirse. The large knight glances around the room, people looking at him expectantly and looks like he's sweating already. His gaze flicks nervously around the room. Looking over to Kieran, the man is nervous but would also frown. Belladonna is seen patting him on the arm as he shifts on his feet to look at the room in dead silence.
Slowly reaching over the knight grips a glass of wine and brings it up to his mouth. Taking a slow sip, the glass can be seen shaking visibly before it goes down and is set on the table. "Ahm." He starts, Jeffeth's hands slowly go out as if he's about to start talking. "We would just like to point out that it's hard to argue when..."
He stops, a sound is made. A coughing sound. The man completely freezes. Another strangled sound emits from his soat. He goes pale, two hands coming up to his neck, grasping at his large neck as if choking. Another sound is made.
And then he falls back on the couch. He was poisoned. And he died, can't talk anymore when you're dead.
Jeffeth checked charm + performance at difficulty 15, rolling 5 lower.
Orazio arches an eyebrow as Jeffeth falls down. "I do hope that's only an illustration of the concept. The Church disapproves of the murder of its knights, and it'd be a shame to have to move over to the War side."
Saoirse has rolled a critical success!
Saoirse checked intellect at difficulty 15, rolling 40 higher.
"We are in House Velenosa, dear Legate." Roxana responds to Orazio. "It could very well have been an accident, who expects them to keep track of every bottle that is poisoned? That kind of paperwork is so tedious."
Kieran grins and chuckles as Jeffeth falls back 'dead' on the couch. He applauds lightly for the performance and waits for the next group's argument.
Saoirse watches Jeffeth choke. And die. And boy is she sure blase about it. "Sir Jeffeth, feigning a poisoning in the Velenosa estate and blaming it on this house has caused -many- a war, I don't think you want to start that. Sit up and sit down." She looks at Belladonna. "I am deeply sorry you are partnered with such a disappointment." YIKES. The princess is not amused. But she's also drunk, so who knows.
Jeffeth is quickly sitting up, still sweating and very much resembles a kicked puppy, looking down at the ground with Great Shame.
Roxana addresses Saoirse. "Darling if you require someone to vouch for you and Velenosa I will gladly do so. Even if his glass /was/ accidentally poisoned. These things happen. No one is to blame." Gold green eyes sparkle.
"You are an indispensable new friend, Princess," Saoirse says to Roxana. "And I have to say, the opening statements have been a little ... rough." That's fine. She just drinks more. Everything's better when you're quite sauced!
Orazio chuckles at Jeffeth's Great Shame. "It was a very good illustration of the benefits of certain methods," he reassures the large man. "You've done well."
Waldemai edges away from the wine, Just In Case.
Even as her compatriot appears to choke and die, Belladonna looks to Orazio with a faint smile, "Nor do we make it a habit of being so sloppy with our subterfuge as to leave witnesses to the tragic accidents." Looking back to her partner in this debate, she offers a few murmured words and a nod to Jeffeth.
After THAT performance, Saoirse glances between Orazio and Roxana. Who. To. "How could I not have the Jewel of Southport make the opening argument for diplomacy?" the princess says to the Grayson. "I admire you for playing against type and not arguing for poi--delicate /subterfuge/." The Velenosa princess smiles a devilish little smile, but there is no spitefulness there.
Orazio raises his glass to Belladonna. "Everyone appreciates someone gracious enough to understand the value of privacy, and to clean up after themselves."
Nodding to Belladonna now, the Grayson princess adds. "That is why I made it clear so quickly that I would vouch. One must, or else also be removed as collateral. If and when I die, I want it to be for my /own/ actions, not because I unintentionally witnessed someone elses murder. Such a waste." She nods to Saoirse and to Orazio as well. "Very well then, I will make our opening statements." In preparation she stands up, not that it is necessary, but it makes her feel important.
Belladonna lifts her own in return to Orazio and rejoins, "Discretion truly is the better part of valor, after all. Wouldn't you agree?" Her eyes cut across to the 'valorous' Military couch, that oh so faint smile playing about her lips.
Luigi arrives, delivering a message to Belladonna before departing.
Kieran notes Belladonna looking in their direction and leans his head back, closing his eyes. "I saw nothing. I have been busy napping over here." Valorous indeed.
Saoirse flicks an icy glance at Kieran. "I'm so sorry this event has bored you to napping," she says cooly.
Roxana's voice is confident and smooth as she speaks, with subtle warmth layered beneath. "I will begin by pointing out that diplomacy is the only choice among the three that allow for both sides of a conflict to benefit. It de-escalates matters before they have a chance to cause damage, whether it be to property or loss of life. Convenient thusly for it wastes less money as well as less time. There are many means of course, diplomacy is often the art of nuance, of understanding different groups and their goals and thus providing suggestions or solutions that allow for each side to feel they have come out a victor. However intimidation can betimes be woven into diplomacy, it does not build the same positive rapport but can also prevent conflicts from escalating, preserving life and prosperity. Houses with skilled diplomats among them are also able to make alliances, and those alliances can serve to prevent armed conflict as well. For when a House has the support of four others, those with enmity towards that House are far less likely to act on such enmity." She ends there, resuming her seat and seeking a glass of wine of her own.
Kieran answers, "Less talk and more pinching is needed clearly. Yet again proving the superiority of military might."
Orazio clucks his tongue. "And you would think that a man who champions physicality would have more, ah, stamina," he suggests, teasingly. He nods with approval at Roxana's words, and toasts her before taking another swallow of wine. "And diplomacy's cheaper than armies, unless you're doing it terribly wrong."
The big man looks over to Roxana then back to Belladonna. Leaning in Jeffeth tries to quietly murmur. "Oh hers was way better than ours."
"Where is house Thrax?" Saoirse says, looking around. They are not here. "I would've liked to hear what their views on military might used as international resolution are now, in light of recent turns. How far is too far?"
She points to Kieran. "How far is too far, for the military?"
(As we enter rebuttal, please feel free to chime in without me steering.)
Luigi arrives, delivering a message to Belladonna before departing.
Kieran pops open an eye as rebuttals are now allowed, then hops up from the couch
Roxana responds to the question herself first, "I believe House Thrax is likely preparing for military engagement as we speak. However, in order to make our debate fair and sensible I think that we ought stick to relations between...mortal nations, for when supernatural creatures are involved the discussion likely changes quite a bit."
Kieran pops open an eye as rebuttals are now allowed, then hops up from the couch, making his way over to Jeffeth. With a gasp, he exclaims, "Sir Jeffeth! He was such a good friend and now he is dead! Probably at the hands of House Somesuch, our hated rivals. We shall have vengeance! Too war!" He holds a pose of an upraised fist as he shouts the last bit, then clears his throat and adds, "That is my rebuttal of subterfuge and further support of military might." He pivots and looks to Saoirse, "When you have slain everyone in the area and have started salting the earth, you might be taking it a tad too far. Maybe."
Wynna has joined the The Scandal Couch.
Wynna promptly goes to find a couch. A scandalous couch.
"I might disagree, Princess Roxana. 'Too far' is less a matter of too far for the target, than too far for the perpetrator - and that's true whether your targets are evil, 'perfectly ordinary' pirates, or helpless children," Orazio says, quietly. "Too far is a measure for ourselves, the lines which we cross which imperil our souls, even if our enemies might deserve such measures." Then he raises an eyebrow at Kieran. "Although I might be taking the question with a bit too much gravity," he adds, voice dry.
"I feel that those arguing for military might are not taking this very seriously," Saoirse drolls. "And frankly, I think it's an interesting question, so would someone who is not actually on their team like to provide intelligent discourse for thirty seconds on the subject?"
Kieran is nudging Desiree and whispering to her, before noting, "While I may be presenting the argument humorously and flamboyantly, it is an effective point. Making a martyr out of someone can escalate a situation faster than almost any other action."
"I'll rephrase then," Saoirse replies to Kieran. "How far is too far -- when does it become untenable to continue military action? What losses are too great?" The princess glances to the other couches. "I think this is a fair question for everyone. When do you have to draw the line?"
Smiling up at Kieran, Sir Jeffeth is swept away by his demeanor and kind of pumps his fist when he says we're all going to war. Chaaarge. But when Saoirse speaks, his fist quickly is pulled back to his lap.
Desiree claps for Kieran once he speaks. "I think it depends who you're fighting and what you are fighting for."
"Why, when the enemy is dead, of course. History is littered with examples of how superior numbers can win the day simply by throwing numbers upon numbers on your enemy until they buckle from the sheer weight. Are there truly considered 'losses too great' when the sake of the species is at stke?" Belladonna sips from her wineglass, offering that observation casually between sips.
Kieran gives a wan smile and notes, "My family's motto is 'To the last.'"
Orazio settles back into his seat. "There is always a price too high, which is why one must clarify one's goals at the beginning of any engagement - military or diplomatic - and decide what you will pay. And what you won't. All too many of our foes decided that 'any price' was worth paying for what they were fighting for, and in doing so, lost everything - including their honor and their souls. We would be wise not to follow that example."
Kieran adds a nod of appreciation to Jeffeth.
Saoirse listens quietly for a moment, mulling into her wine. Then she asks, "With military force, the consequences are often human lives, civilians even. With diplomatic wiles, you risk damaging relations beyond what they were, or creating an enemy at a later date that you don't know about. With subt- oh fuck it, with -assassination-," a servant looks horrified but Saoirse carries on. "You run the risk of being caught, which could very well be the end of you. Which of these is worse? Does it impact your argument at all?"
Belladonna turns her gaze to Orazio with a faint smile, "Cunning is no sin, a foolish ideal is no virtue. The words of my own House. History is also fraught with those who would not pay the price demanded... and no longer exist. Not, mind, that I am calling the Faith a foolish ideal. Only that strict adherence to any one principal or ideal has its own pitfalls. I believe its called fanaticism or zealotry? One has to be flexible with one's morals if one does not want to be caught in a trap of ethics."
Wynna crosses one leg over the other as she glances between speakers, looking more as if she's here to take notes than to contribute. For now, anyway.
Orazio smiles back. "Oh, Duchess Belladonna, I don't actually disagree with that, at all. It is one of the reasons why the Mirrormasks have a home in the Faith despite some opposition - even the Faith acknowledges that sometimes, one must acknowledge that even virtue can be taken so far that it becomes vice. Mercy that allows evil to flourish, courage that becomes foolhardiness that loses a war. It is also why we argue vigorously against raising any godly virtue above the others. One must act not just with justice and truth, but also wisdom and responsibility, and so forth."
Roxana nods to Orazio's response. "You make good points Legate. I was thinking rather in terms of what means we use. Diplomacy, subterfuge, or military force. For it seems to me that some of these enemies we've engaged with, such as the 'perfectly ordinary pirates' you refer to, might not be terribly open to diplomacy. How far to take military engagement when that is the method of choice however, that you likely have correct...there the nature of the enemy might not be defining information."
Kieran takes a sip of wine and adds, "Oh, the loss of loves naturally. It is why military might is the most important. It is the final argument of lords. It is the declaration that you feel so strongly about something that you are willing to sacrifice lives for it. No one has said 'I was so insulted by our loss at that last battle that I am going to declare diplomacy,' as though diplomacy is the final step. No, it's 'That loss was so devastating we need to use diplomacy to negotiate a surrender.'"
Orazio raises a hand. "Or, your highness, one says 'ah, a war might be on the horizon. Let us use our diplomatic might to avert it. Something being final does not make it the most powerful - sometimes that makes it the failure mode of all other methods."
"Of course, there is also much to be said for simply cutting off the head of the snake, so to speak. Send in a single assassin to kill the head of the opposing force and watch as the rest crumble without strong leadership to hold them together." Belladonna lifts a small shrug, her lips against the rim of the glass as she takes a drink.
"Would you not fear a hydra?" Saoirse counters, looking at Belladonna.
Wynna hums as she leans back on the couch. "Assuming 'tis enough to actually destabilize your opponent - assuming words shan't fix it, the least amount of lives lost is generally an easier tonic to swallow than seeing ones fields lie barren for a generation."
With this back and forth Jeffeth has become less of a member of the debate and more a very enthusiastic audience member. And he is not biased. Kieran often gets a 'oo wow' often mouthed from the big knight, who's head is bobbing to each person as they talk, nodding enthusiastically, then even more enthusiastically at the next person.
Kieran grins even more, "I think I addressed that earlier with my rousing speech over Sir Jeffeth's death. Sometimes new, much angrier heads sprout in its place."
Roxana smiles at Belladonna. "Ah the words of my house, both current and that of my birth, don't seem helpful for this discussion. Too bad. Yours however do make a solid point to consider. The fact of the matter is that /successful/...assasination, if we've decided to call a spade a spade, is often terribly effective. When an effort fails, or is discovered, that is when the situation becomes worse rather than better, but that could be said for any method of engagement we discuss today." She shifts her attention to Saorise then, responding to the lady's other question. "With diplomatic wiles one does risk damaging relations beyond what they were, among other things. Betrayal, when it seems a diplomatic solution has been reached but one side only allows that as illusion in order to strike unexpectedly. There are also times when one's foe is not terribly reasonable...be it a noble House filled with arrogance or idoicy, or 'perfectly normal' enemies who seek destruction and will be satisfied by no other result. However, in the cases where diplomacy is a viable choice, it is nearly always the superior one when done well. There are Houses filled with warriors but graced with no diplomats who see their power suffer for the lack of such a valuable tool. Though I'm sure those with only diplomats and no warriors are just as unfortunate."
Orazio nods to Kieran. "Of course, that is only if the victims know where to turn their anger. One of the benefits of assassination is its cover nature - done carefully, you can leave a victim's survivors baffled. Or even frame your other enemies, and allow the rivals to tear each other apart."
Roxana feigns indigence in Orazio's direction. "Turncoat! I thought you were arguing diplomacy with me." To the group as a whole she adds, "That is another problem, with all three methods likely. Turncoats."
Desiree nods to Roxana. "Diplomacy is important, but I'd prefer my house be filled with warriors than diplomats."
A faint smirk starts to creep onto Saoirse's face. "I had a feeling this evening would wind to this -- that all three are twined together. That one begets the other begets the next until in desperation, a final option is picked and it either works or destroys both parties." The princess stands suddenly, not at ALL tipsy on her feet NOPE, and holds her glass out for a refill. "But what fun is that? Arguing for all three is hardly an argument." She points at Desiree. "WHY. Defend!"
Kieran looks to Desiree and gives her another nudge. "Take a swing at these. I don't want to dominate the whole conversation. Also my throat is parched." He takes a swig of his wine and leans back into the couch.
Orazio grins without shame at Roxana. He makes an airy gesture with his free hand. "I am practicing what we preach, your highness. Finding an area of common ground with a potential ally, attempting to understand the issue from a different point of view. Surely you'll not begrudge me that?" He makes big, sad eyes at his partner.
"Assassination is only..." Bella stops, chuckles, then motions to Orazio, "He has beaten me to the point exactly. Part of the assassination is the coverup. Do you hide the body, leave it in plain sight? If so, why? Are you leaving a misleading clue? Sending them on a wild goose chase? Do you use poison or knife or hammer?"
Saoirse makes a face at Belladonna. "Dear lord, not a hammer. So messy. And -hard-." ...how would she know? HOW WOULD SHE KNOW?!
Wynna squints at Saoirse.
Roxana playfully wrinkles her nose at Orazio, smiling just after and taking another sip of wine.
Orazio points to Desiree. "However, I have to say that you are wrong. Your House should be filled with diplomats. Your armies should be filled with warriors. Nobles require minds and tongues as sharp as their blades, or they will be cut apart and your House along with it, without even getting a chance to /draw/ a blade."
The Grayson princess follows up with. "Obviously in situations where one is abandoned by their allies, when they become turncoats as I mentioned, /then/ there is no other real choice besides assassination." Inclining her head to Belladonna at the end with that same smile.
Wynna says, "It /does/ rather all tie in together."
Kieran replies to Orazio, "I prefer my House to be filled with beautiful women, but that's me."
"Messy, yes. But sometimes the sheer weightiness of it is just -satisfying-," Belladonna responds to Saoirse without missing a beat before looking back to the others. "No, as to which method is preferred... the ability to keep my hands clean of any potential wrongdoing or social misstep is one that I would choose to use. So I suppose it would have to be assassination. It offers one of the more likely outcones, and with you safely ensconsed in your House."
Desiree looks to Saiorse. "Diplomacy is good for when someone will listen, but when the assassins and enemies come the warriors are a much better defense. Sometimes words can't save you."
"Oh!" Roxana sounds almost excited. "What about blackmail? I assume that goes under the 'subterfuge/assassination' category yet it is not quite what we've discussed so far. Effective, or not so much?
Orazio gives Kieran a head-tilting look. "Ah...the Church /frowns/ on that sort of thing, you know. There are plenty of women outside one's own House."
Rinel enters the room with caution and awe. She looks around and remembers not to gape, though her mouth turns downward in a frown as she sees the mirrored ceiling. Still, she makes her way towards Wynna and settles next to the woman.
And give Orazio an award for the most unexpected 'burn' of the night. Belladonna practically spits out her sip of wine when she hears his rebuttal. Forcing herself to calmness long enough to swallow the drink, she covers her mouth with one hand and chuckles.
"I'm curious," Saoirse looks at Wynna, Rinel, and Waldemai, "what the common voices think. I know you don't command armies or wars, but what would be your choice? Would you try to make nice, violently overthrow, or ...surprise poison... your enemies?" Surely Saoirse isn't talking about a total dynasty topple. Right? Just like, rows between commoners over... common things!
Wynna pats Rinel's leg.
"Beautiful women outside the House is good too," Kieran nods then rubs his chin. "Actually maybe that is the real most powerful option. Just send beautiful men and women to each other. Does that count as diplomacy?"
Wynna tilts her head. "You ask what a commoner would do if one of our social standing commanded such power?"
"Blackmail can be a function of diplomacy. It's just usually stated in a more positive manner. If you should do me this favor, I will be most pleased to forget that we ever intercepted this messenger, or caught this spy," Orazio muses. Then he grins at Belladonna's reaction and takes a sip of his drink that could only be called 'smug'.
"Sure," Saoirse says with a lopsided shrug.
The giant knight looks like he's in a better mood now. It's been a while since he got yelled at. Jeffeth looks to Saoirse, then Kieran, then Wynna. Brows arched as he listens to each argument.
Romina, a silent Mirrorguard agent arrives, following Niccolo.
"Presumably we'd be under the same sorts of pressures that any noble in such a position would be under - and can thus be expected to act similarly," Wynna says, glancing about the room. "'Tis less about the social ranking and more about what's best for those who expect you to solve a problem, whether they demand war, demand peace, or simply satisfaction."
Waldemai admits, "I don't know about diplomacy, but I do know you can make strong armor if you hit it with a hammer."
"Poison is a dishonorable insult to the Lady Gloria," Rinel says simply. "It is best to negotiate peaceably, to avoid any loss of life, but if there must be combat, it should be done in a way least offensive to the Gods."
Roxana openly giggles at Orazio's well aimed 'burn', lacking the effort at composure that Belladonna put forth. "It does in a sense, my lord." She addresses Kieran. "Marriage contracts are often tools of diplomacy, and there are plenty of current examples to look to as well as historical ones." She nods at Orazio then, "Yes that's true isn't it. Diplomacy isn't always kind, though kindness is often what people think of along with it."
"How is poison an insult to a god?" Saoirse asks, knitting her brows. She glances at her Lycene cousin-types. "Are we an insult to the gods? All of us? Oh my, oh dear."
Wynna actually grins slightly, half-turning to Rinel. "Is sacrificing the lives of the commoners that make up your levies in battle a better tribute to the gods, then, than a poisoned drink that would spare your vassals war?"
When Kieran seemingly takes the comment at face value, Belladonna's eyes turn once more to the Legate, the tiniest lift of brow in his direction. A smile tugs her lips briefly before she's applying herself once more to the debate. "Diplomacy is polite blackmail. With a dash of veiled threats and a pinch of charm. Its really not that difficult once if you bother to do any research on your opponent before you start the negotiations. Always go in knowing more about your opponent than they do about you."
Saoirse raises her glass to Wynna!
Kieran looks to Roxana and shakes his head, "Oh, no. I didn't mean marriage. Nothing so long term."
Orazio nods to Roxana. "Precisely. People conflate 'diplomatic' with 'gentle' or 'weak'. It is hardly either. An entire realm can be brought to its knees by use of softly spoken words. As long as they are the right words in the right ears." He finishes off his glass of wine, puts it aside. "And of course, poison is a sin and an offense to the gods. But, of course, no one here would ever /actually/ stoop to such methods," he says, deadpan and solemn.
Desiree grins as she looks at Kieran. "Beauty can be used for diplomacy. You'd know wouldn't you?"
Rinel cocks her head innocently at Saoirse. "I should be most surprised to hear that my lady considers herself to be poison." But she looks at Wynna and replies without a trace of guile--"Certainly, if they are honoring their vows to Lord Limerance. But any noble who hides behind the lives of her vassals is breaking her oath of protection. That is why the knights of the Oathlands are first into the fray."
Garibaldi, the Lycene swordbearer arrives, following Theron.
"Actually now that we're on the subject I would very much like one of those among the Faith to list for us the sinful and not so sinful means of diplomacy, martial engagement, and...subterfuge as tools for handling conflicts." Roxana declares.
Wynna says, "Ah, but I would argue that to wastefully spend the lives of your farmers, merchants and workers, one does a disservice to Gild - such things are hardly good for the prosperity of your realm."
Niccolo steps inside the familiar library quietly. The elder Velenosa lingers near the door for a few moments and listens to the speakers.
Waldemai quietly adds, "Or the smiths."
Kieran raises a copper eyebrow at Desiree. "I would know what? Beauty? Hardly. I almost never wear make-up. Can't you tell?"
Theron is apparently a late joiner to this mysterious debate. His expression is unreadable, his helmet on the crook of his elbow as he opts to have a seat in the corner.
Ven arrives late, quietly taking a seat to listen with interest.
Saoirse flicks her gaze toward the door as new people enter -- she offers her fellow Velenosa a small smile, polite, and gestures to the seat beside her, should Niccolo wish to take it.
Rinel says, "Certainly, which is why one must not waste them, just as one must not waste the lives of the nobility. Warfare is a last resort, to be done in defense of the populace--in furtherance of one's oaths of protection."
Theron has joined the an elegant wooden desk with burnished edges and tarnished black finish.
Theron has left the an elegant wooden desk with burnished edges and tarnished black finish.
Theron has joined the a refined black leather sofa with detailed nailhead trim.
"And now who's the turncoat?" Orazio claims, with the clasp of a hand over his heart as he glances at Roxana. "Such topics are likely better saved for sermons, your highness. But the Faith holds that the aspiration to the virtues of the gods is the rightful striving of all men and women, and the opposite of those virtues are sins. Cowardice and dishonorable actions, dishonesty, slavery, cruelty, and so forth. With each action, how it aligns with the virtues of the gods - all the gods - should be weighed."
Kieran rises as Niccolo enters, giving his brother-in-law a polite bow, before retaking his seat.
Wynna leans over. "But let's assume your enemy won't be sated by mere words. Let's assume, for a moment, that you face an enemy that won't negotiate or speak to you." She looks around the room briefly, pausing. "What if the only way to spare your people that hardship was to quietly kill the one riling them all up? And let's assume it's on good authority that this plan might very well work."
Abalene, the Northern Hawk Owl arrives, delivering a message to Ven before departing.
Desiree pretends to be surprised. "You're not wearing make-up? Even better."
Rinel shrugs. "The Gods command of us what is right, not what is easy."
Wynna says, "And again, I would say that the Gods - or certain ones, such as Gild - would demand prudence in such affairs."
"Does forcing an enemy to march to your encampment once they are taken prisoner constitute slavery?" Theron muses.
Belladonna watches the eruption of chaos into the debate, smiling faintly at the leaps and bounds occurring within the cofnines of the room. She stands, finishing her glass of wine, then moves to Saoirse's side, leaning down to murmursomething for the Princess. Upon straightening, she calls out, "I am afraid there are responsibilities that are determined to pull me away from this fascinating debate. It was a pleasure to have joined you all and thank you for providing insight into each of you." Still wearing that faint smile, she pauses by Niccolo on her way out to smile up at him, "Prince Niccolo. Its been entirely too long. I insist we get together soon to catch up, but for now I must depart for my own House. Enjoy the rest of this debate." Sending him a warm but brief smile, Bella makes her way out of the room and back towards Pravus.
"The spirits don't mind, either way," the sole Northerner chimes in on the religious discussion.
Orazio considers Wynna thoughtfully. "A few issues to consider. First, you require assumptions which explicitly take diplomacy off the table - while it's allowed for a theoretical exercise, of course, its application to the real world is dubious at best. But taking that assumption, an argument could be made that one murder is more virtuous than allowing thousands of innocents to die. But that would not make that murder /not/ murder, if you understand? You might choose to take that sin on your hands, and it might even be the best choice you have available, but it would still be sin."
He shakes his head to Theron. "No. But once there, they should be swiftly judged and the judgment carried out, or put up for ransom if possible. It is not a sin to imprison someone, but it is considered...displeasing to some of the gods, particularly First Choice."
Wynna makes a face slightly, though she merely nods to Orazio's comments, not exactly eager to argue on that point.
Rinel nods solemnly at Orazio's words, and she leans in to whisper something to Wynna.
"How is the death of millions in war not also a sin then?" Saoirse counters, tilting her head in Orazio's direction.
Belladonna has left the a refined black leather sofa with detailed nailhead trim.
"But on the other hand, slaughtering them wholesale is a sin of cruelty in war, which would be against Gloria's teachings." Theron contemplates. "Does the faculty to make a choice deprive you of the faculty not to make one?"
"Doesn't choosing to march to war create the possible consequence of being taken as a prisoner of war?" Ven asks. "If it were innocents being imprisoned, that'd clearly be wrong, but I wonder if people who make a choice that puts them at risk are a doctrinal issue."
Kieran bites back a laugh at something and shakes his head, before quietly whispering back to Desiree. His eyes remain focused on the conversation around him, but he doesn't weigh in yet.
"The death of /millions/ would certainly be a tragedy without equal, although it is thankfully one the Compact has not had to face in centuries, if ever," Orazio replies. "But Gloria is the goddess of honorable warfare, so clearly, wars fought for righteous causes and by righteous means are not sinful. Tragic, yes, but not a sin. Not everything which is righteous is kind; not everything which is sinful might strike us as cruel on first examination." He nods to Ven. "And there is that, as well. Our choices have consequences. Some of those consequences are fatal. That doesn't necessarily make them sinful or wrong choices."
Romina, a silent Mirrorguard agent have been dismissed.
Saoirse repeats, for EMPHASIS, "Mill. Ions." Okay, Saoirse. She seems to know it's a ridiculous number - there are not millions! Nope! What a dope she would be to think that! "How is killing -millions- of people less sinful than killing one?"
Rinel shakes her head. "All of this is presupposing far too much. First, that there are no peaceful resolutions possible. Second, that warfare necessitates wholesale slaughter. Third, that it will be the commoners who will die in defense of the nobility. But it is rare that there are no peaceful resolutions available--our current situation notwithstanding--and it is rare that warfare results in innumerable deaths, because we follow the precepts of Lady Gloria. And it is frequently the nobility who sacrifices their lives for the common folk--just think of all those we have lost in recent months.
Wynna makes a face again, but she reserves comment and elects to merely pat Rinel's leg.
"Actually, the quandary I presented was about captures, mistress," Theron quips at Rinel. "You have three choices - you can let them go, and they fight you again once they rearm, you can capture them, or you can kill them."
"Because killing someone is not, in and of itself, a sin," Orazio replies, simply, to Saorise. "Executing a criminal is not a sin, provided it is done quickly and cleanly and without torture. Killing a rival warrior on the field of battle is not a sin, if you act honorably during the battle. Strangling a child /is/ a sin, for it is an unrighteous action, without honor."
"I'd counter that by assassinating someone who will cause greater damage to remain alive is far less sinful," Saoirse replies, just as simply! "You could even argue that it is an execution. Just a secret one."
Orazio shakes his head. "Your Highness, that is not how sin works. You can argue that it is a sin undertaken with good intentions...but many sins are. You may argue that it is a sin with positive consequences, but that does not make the action /not/ a sin, and when one stands before the Sentinel, one must be judged for it all the same."
Desiree looks to Theron. "Which of those options is the diplomatic one?"
"It depends on if the enemy offers terms of surrender or if they continue fighting you, my Lady," Theron retorts to Desiree. "If they surrender, letting them go is the diplomatic one. Perhaps capture for ransom of their nobles, as a second alternative. Slaughter might also be considered diplomatic, in a way -- you're forcing them to reckon with the horror of losses."
"How is one a sin and the other not," Saoirse says flatly. "What you're saying makes no sense."
"I believe I've heard this difference of opinion before. It's a question of how you justify actions. Do the consequences of an action make it right, or are some actions inherently right or not right regardless of their consequences?" Ven says, speaking up again. "I'm not sure we'll resolve that ancient debate today. It seems to come down to personal belief."
Rinel says, "There's nothing wrong with capturing an enemy, so long as one treats her with honor and dignity. If one cannot do that, though, then one ought to allow them safe passage from their lands. And it is not the /result/ of an action which renders it sinful. It is the /nature/ of the action."
Saoirse gestures to Ven, who clarifies, then adds, "No. We solve it today. We don't leave until we do." She sounds serious. She can't be.
"Turnabout is fair play." Roxana informs Orazio, though she has no idea whether it is really. "It sounds like most of these choices factor in some level of sin, but that is likely also better for a sermon. I'd like to request one on how we're all sinners by measures of degree, featuring examples of people we know or know of." Not sure priests accept requests, Roxana, and if they do Freebird isn't one. She giggles at Saoirse, serious or not.
"That presumes 'honor and dignity' involves anything other than 'allowing them to breathe without loss of limb or torture'. Maybe you need to torture them. Maybe you need a confession." Theron lifts his eyebrows as he looks to Rinel. "Maybe if you don't get that confession, many, many more will die because the enemy is ruthless and cares not about strength in honor and good conduct. What, then? Is that torture a sin? Interrogations often require them."
"Torture creates false confessions, it's not useful for determining guilt." Ven suggests. "Maaaybe it could be useful if you desperately need information, but even then the information wouldn't be reliable. This is all aside from the question of morality though."
"It is not the /result/ of an action which renders it sinful," Rinel repeats obstinately. "Whether it is of benefit or detriment is immaterial. The Gods have provided rules for right action and proper living. That is what matters."
Orazio chuckles at Saorise. "Sin encompasses both intentions and methods, your highness. Understand that the Faith doctrine is based around the concepts of the divine virtues, represented by the gods. Actions which embody or promote those virtues are virtuous. Actions in opposition to those virtues are sinful. Now, that is a /vast/ simplification on a subject which has had many, many large books written on it, but for the sake of everyone's boredom, we will go with it. Assassination is in opposition to at least two virtues: justice and honor. Thus, even when for good intentions, it cannot be considered anything but sinful. But," he nods to Ven, "as noted, it is difficult to live a sinless life, so one must judge degree and kind. Some sins warrant prayer and penance. Others may be considered grave enough to warrant excommunication."
"And war is not black and white." Theron retorts at Rinel. "It comes in nuances."
The large man is looking all around the room. His expression has faded slowly over this. Before he was smiling but now, Jeffeth is deep past lost. A bit confused. The big knight slowly steps up, making his way to pour himself a glass of wine. As he does the knight lingers near the wine, then takes a few more steps towards the exit. And pauses. Lingering. Then a few more steps.
Desiree takes a breath. "We don't always know what the consequences will be. We just have to make the best decision we can."
"How is going to wholesale slaughter more sinful than avoiding war via assassination, though," Saoirse asks again. "You haven't answered that. How is it more honorable to take men and women from their families, create thousands of orphans, kill civilians and soldiers alike, ruin trade and commerce, run debts and costs sky-high, and Jeffeth /just go if you want/," she concludes, never once looking away from Orazio.
"Which is why we should be thankful for rules which render the world black and white, when sinful actions tempt us with their ease," Rinel says with equanimity.
"It's generally considered to be worse to murder two people than to murder one, I think." Ven suggests.
"I wish you good luck in being a perfectly virtuous being completely incapable of fault. In fact, you are in fault right now," Theron declares.
white-tailed eagle arrives, following Thesarin.
Orazio smiles. "Because 'war' and 'wholesale slaughter' are two very different things, your highness." His voice is gentle, but firm. "Wholesale slaughter /would/ be 'more' sinful than a single assassination, but that doesn't make the assassination not a sin. A person who has murdered one person doesn't get absolved of guilt because someone else murdered ten, and that's worse."
Ah boy. Hanging his head, Jeffeth makes his way out.
Jeffeth has left the a refined black leather sofa with detailed nailhead trim.
Wait. Stop. THIEF! A servant looks after Jeffeth, then at Saoirse. "He stole a glass!" the servant says, panicked. This was probably this dude's one job. Saoirse pauses her heated debate with Orazio to look over her shoulder, then she turns back. "There, is THAT a sin?"
Rinel says, "Of course I am at fault, my lord, as are all mortals. But the inevitability of sinfulness does not grant license to sin freely, or to ignore the precepts of the Gods."
Orazio raises an eyebrow towards the departing Jeffeth. "I'm sure that it was an unintentional oversight on Sir Jeffeth's part, and I would be happy to pay for the value of the glass on part of the Church, and have Sir Jeffeth undertake a penance in measure with the offense. A heartfelt apology, perhaps?"
"What if one of the Gods' precepts essentially would force you to break another's?" Theron smiles to Rinel. "Consequences notwithstanding, there was a juxtaposition between lawful captures and the precepts of the First Choice."
"When it comes to the morality of killing in war, I think most philosophers make a distinction that killing soldiers is less bad than massacring civilians because the soldiers take up arms and represent a threat and so on. And even then they could escape death by surrender. Civilians didn't choose to be a threat to anyone and they can't escape a massacre by surrendering. They are innocent victims, while soldiers are not." Ven says.
Rinel looks gleeful at Orazio's words. But she returns to Theron's words. "It can be difficult to navigate the virtues of the gods, my lord--but it seems to me that my lord is implying that any capture is in violation of Lord Skald's precepts. Is my lord then claiming that incarceration is sinful? This seems an untenable claim."
The servant looks hopeful. That would be good. Wouldn't that be good?! Saoirse seems to take her cue from him more than from any attachment to Velenosan fine glassware. "Yeah, sure," she says, much to the relief of the butler. "He can do penance for Vlad here," the servant. "It's fine, Vlad, my goodness. Relax." The princess leans back into the sofa, "I don't think we're going to make closing arguments. Everyone wins!"
"You made my point for me, thank you very much. War is complex and cannot, accordingly, be rendered in black and white. It is too nuanced and too /mortal/ to be so," Theron bows his head to Rinel and rises to his feet.
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