Poland - Duxburian Union Summit
The Peoples' Palace, Seat of the City of Verington, Dominion of Verington Bay, and House of Nyquist
The Steward waited for the Polish delegation to arrive in Verington. He had his own welcoming delegation that was supposed to have been 5, but swelled to 10.
Steward Dante en Maximilian
Officer Vincent Clarke am Rowe, Foreign Affairs
Officer Robert en Kligenberg, Economics
Councillor Acwellan Lir Devoy am Harrison
Master Adrian en Nyquist
Damian Lamington am Aelir
Grandmaster Brandeus Lir Devoy am Harrison
Grandmaster John Tolland am Iunio
Byran Lunde am Eliander
Kyle en Nyquist (on behalf of the broken House of Hasil)
He wanted Brandon Devoy alone, to size up his rival in person and perhaps act if an opportunity opened up, but all the eldest heirs of the 6 great martyr families had shown up with him. Clearly, the Steward wasn't trusted and would have to bide his time.
So, this would be all diplomatic business. He was excited to open formal relations with Poland and had several proposals.
Verrington, Verrington Bay, Duxburian Union
President Kligenberg and her staff, after an eventful summit in Halsberg, left to the Duxburian Union. The shock between Halsberg and Duxbury was vast, as one was quintessentially European, while the later was hustling and bustling, thriving and almost an outrageous display of wealth everywhere.
"Oh my...this is what Warsaw would be if it had about 3 trillion more dollars of economic weight behind it. My goodness," said the President.
"No...nowhere close. This would be if Kiev explodes, which we should talk about when we get home," said Secretary Syzmanowski. "The oil business we could get from Ruthenia is absolutely crucial to the Polish economy."
"As evidenced from Duxbury, oil wealth can be absolutely obscene," President Kligenberg said. They approached the residence of the Nyquists and Karolina gasped. She realized she would see Kyle for the first time since the ball.
As the car approached, late (because the Polish delegation simply didn't account for any traffic), Karolina's heart raced and all thoughts of diplomacy left her head. She also didn't have a clue as to what she was doing until AFTER she pulled up and Mr. Syzmanowski snapped her out of her near catatonic state.
"Madam President," Mr. Syzmanowski said to her, "it's time."
She got out of the car and walked towards the Duxburians.
Kyle Nyquist was getting ready, when he heard a song coming from outside the window. The melody sounded very familiar, so he opened the window. Now hearing it clearly, it was a song that Karolina had played off her balcony the night before the Polish Ball.
"Why hello, Anazio! How did you get here little fellow? That must mean that the Poles have arrived. Here's an idea, how about singing the Nyquist family anthem back to Karolina? Can you do that for me?"
The drammen flew away already starting the song.
Kyle looked out to see if the Polish delegation was there, straining to see Karolina. He rushed downstairs and was surprised to see who else was in the greeting party. There was Damien Lamington, a former EU Commissioner. Brandon Devoy was there, with the legendary John Tolland. Even Byran Lunde had come up from the Emerald Cathedral, dressed in gray, still mourning Julia Glorius.
It was very unusual for John or Byran to appear, Kyle had never seen either before. It quickly dawned on him that these were the heirs of the 6 families. The eldest had not met together in one place for centuries, not since the funeral of the last Hasil. He wondered what this meant.
Adrian Nyquist was the first to greet their guests. "Welcome to the Duxburian Union! I hope the traffic wasn't too bad, Verington is a city of 24 million and growing, there isn't a time when it isn't congested. Please make yourselves at home, my house is your house."
There was Robert Kligenberg, actual family. And, of course, Kyle Nyquist, who blushed a bit when he greeted Karolina.
Both Devoys introduced themselves as Brandon, which drew some amusement. The real one being here was a good sign, as Duxburians had long maintained a policy of keeping no secrets from friends and allies.
The 6 (other than the Nyquists) did not intend to stay long. The Steward was suspicious of them and felt fairly threatened by the rare presence of all the heirs. Hiding his feelings, he led both delegations inside.
President Kligenberg, as she was walking inside, continued to horribly deal with the butterflies ruining her stomach. Instead of the same assured leader that was in Halsberg, it seemed as though she went backwards in age to 14 and trying to deal with her own excited emotions. She realized once she got inside that she had been giggling madly for the last minute or two.
"Are you done drooling?" Mr. Syzmanowski said to the President.
"Was it really that bad?" the President asked.
"You were giggling to yourself for the last minute."
She sauntered over to each of the delegation. She looked and felt much more composed until she finally went to Kyle Nyquist.
"H...hello Kyle," Karolina said, remembering the ball. "I bet you weren't expecting me to show up like this...all....not Empress and what not."
"Don't worry about it," Kyle responded.
"You're still a bold and remarkable leader, regardless of title. Not just anyone could have taken the plunge and announced a republic, that move commands respect. Come, let's eat."
Kyle, along with Adrian, led the delegations into the grand ballroom. An all-you-can-eat-buffet dinner awaited everyone, along with an endless line of alcoholic beverages.
Karolina counted 8 tables of food and?16 tables of alcohol! She was nervous about making a fool of herself under the influence, but Kyle whispered in her ear that it wasn't "intended" for her. The target was the Steward, Dante Maximillian. No official business was to be conducted until the morning, but the delegations were encouraged to mingle and discuss possible deals.
Nothing interesting happened until Brandon Devoy challenged Dante Maximillian to a drink-off. Dante initially hesitated, but realized that he couldn't decline such a challenge from that particular person, in front of these particular people. A formal Duxburian drink-off was serious business, especially considering the status of those involved. All interested parties formed a ring around them at the center table.
Vincent Clarke brought the Steward his shot glasses and John Tolland brought Brandon his. Two parallel lines on the table were made of Great River Ale, Mortec Submarines, Captain Brisdon Rum, Suezicides, Black City Bombs, and last, but certainly not least, Jan Damon's Summer Fire Whiskey. The stakes were set at 50,000 kaels.
Karolina was not particularly interested in the contest and hung back. Mr. Syzmanowski motioned for her to come over. He'd been watching Brandon very carefully and concluded that it was actually Acwellan who was drinking.
"Brandon Devoy wishes to meet with us in private," he whispered.
Karolina was confused, but figured that Mr. Syzmanowski knew what he was doing. Indeed, he was quite familiar with how secret-types signaled their intentions.
They slipped out of the grand ballroom and headed into the atrium, which was now empty. Mr. Syzmanowski searched for signs or clues, but there was nothing, a walk down nearby hallways turned up nothing, either. However, there was a child at the end of one of them playing with a remote control car. Upon seeing Karolina and Mr. Syzmanowski, he came running over, wide eyed.
"President Karolina! I am Ethan Lamington the 9th at your service!" He gave a half bow. "If you are lost, I can help you find your way around the palace! I know it better than any of the Nyquists!"
"Hello, Ethan! How old are you? And are you supposed to be out here all alone?" Karolina asked.
"I'm 6 and 3/4," he said proudly, holding up Aelirian finger signs for each number, a hand and pinky for 6, a triangle for 3, and 4 fingers for 4. "And I can go all over, I never get lost."
Mr. Syzmanowski did a double take. The Aelirian finger sign for "3" was just 3 fingers held up. The finger triangle that Ethan made in that blink-and-miss-it moment represented an alliance between several major Duxburian secret societies. That was the sign he was looking for! This little kid shouldn't be underestimated.
"Hey Ethan, we actually could use your help. We're looking for Acwellan Devoy, do you know where we could find him?" Mr. Syzmanowski asked.
"Oh you're looking for Brandon!"
Mr. Syzmanowski looked down the hallway nervously, but Ethan wasn't concerned.
"That's what my race car is for. It beeps if there is a bug or camera near!" Ethan explained.
He brought it around and drove it straight at one of the full size wall portraits of ancient Nyquist Aelirs. It hit a power outlet and the portrait swung forward to reveal a stairway behind it!
"Oops!" Ethan gave them a sheepish look and then ran away with his car racing down the hallway.
Mr. Syzmanowski noted to remember Ethan Lamington "the 9th"?that was one impressively put together kid, and could one day be quite a "business" partner.
"Don't get in the black, unmarked SUV"?"Don't go down the secret passageway behind a swinging portrait." Karolina was wary of this secret stuff, but just had to trust people as usual. They walked down the stairs and the portrait closed itself. At the bottom, they reached a pretty ordinary-looking conference room, minus its seven unusual occupants.
"Velkendre, Ledera Karolaina, Mystro Symanowsky," Brandon said, briefly addressing them in ancient Aelirian, a language once reserved for only the greatest Duxburians.
Switching to English, he continued, "I apologize for the secrecy tonight, but I wish to discuss matters with you that the Steward neither knows, nor would allow if he did know.
Brandon introduced those seated at the table.
"This is Mezlir Linden Dacy of the Blackstone Society, keepers of knowledge and history, beyond the influence of governments to suppress.
This is Mezlir Davian Edison of the Firestone Society, a group that brings death and destruction upon those who would harm our friends.
This is Mezlir Byran Lunde of the Emerald Order, archivists of Delaenist history and stewards of its great cathedrals.
This is Archbishop Lewis Taagel of the Priory of Laatzenia, he serves the same role for Duxburian catholics as Byran Lunde does for Delaenists. Archbishop Taagel is also Primate of the Suez and one of the most senior authorities in the Duxburian Catholic Church.
This is Grenmezlir Jan Allon of Anonymous, a world-renowned hacking collective. He is my mentor, former master, and the first cyber warrior.
This is Grenmezlir Ethan Lamington the 7th, elder of the Six Great Martyr Families. The 6 families were targeted with unusually cruel malice in the War Among Brothers, the darkest days in Duxburian history. The Catholic-Delaenist war raged for over 4 centuries, razed every single settlement to the ground except Dairghazbury, and killed over 70% of the population. The 6 Families now represent the bridge between our religions and the hope for healing and reconciliation.
Brandon opened his infamously intense eye contact with Mr. Symanowski to try and gauge what he was thinking. Brandon wanted to bring the Martyr Families into alliance with the Teutonic Knights, but he was nervous about the effect of past events on their relations. He'd been able to convince the Lamingtons, Nyquists, Tollands, and Byran Lunde that this could work. He was sure that the Teutonic Knights would be receptive to the idea.
The major problem was the turmoil within his own house. The Devoys looked functional on the surface, but were the most deeply scarred of the six. To be a Devoy was to be an object of pity and a vessel stoked with hate at best, lusting for violent revenge at worst. His father had already disowned him for taking a reconciliatory path and the rest of the Devoys might not be far behind. As the eldest heir, Brandon could by himself bind the house to any agreement he desired, but the fallout could be great.
"Oh, and I'm Brandon (close friends may call me by my real name, Brandeus) Devoy the 25th of the Whitestone Society, sentinels who protect our friends across time and space. I also operate Nameless, a hacking collective like Anonymous, but we are not activists and you won't see us in the news - we do nothing but hack. I was also the 2nd cyber warrior and an inventor of the internet, but that stays in this room?
Now to business! As everyone is probably aware of, Europe has become increasingly dangerous as of late. My apprentice, Illian Knight, has been working on a program called "Grapevine", one of the most comprehensive data surveillance/integration systems ever attempted, and it is returning disturbing results thus far.
It reveals a boiling cloud of internecine conflict darkening the skies over Europe. State and non-state actors alike have been swept up in the tempest and the menace is far from over. War and terror will rise again.
Terrorism is a serious threat that knows no borders or limits. Global chatter suggests that Europolis and national capitals will be in the crosshairs. I don't know when, what or who will be targeted, or even why, all I know is that "horror on a scale never before seen" is coming. I am mostly powerless to stop it?
However, what I can do is reach out to secret societies like the Teutonic Knights and ensure that we can protect as many people as possible.
The Duxburian groups represented here today are all members of an alliance called the Triangle of Allies. It was originally formed between the Blackstone, Whitestone, and Firestone Societies, hence a triangle. All of us work together and are bound to help each other when shit hits the proverbial fan.
We are all in agreement to extend an offer to the Teutonic Knights to join in the alliance. I believe the Steward will propose an official, military alliance between the Duxburian Union and Poland in the morning, so our efforts should compliment each other well.
Something is terribly wrong in the world and we can't afford to be divided or dwell on events that happened 800 years ago. We need to set aside all differences that we may have and unite against the coming threats. I am genuinely worried for the survival of Europe, but if we pull together, we should make it."
With that, Brandon sat down.
Ian and Karolina stood in awe of what occurred. An opportunity like this would not come up again in Poland's lifetime, and Ian knew it. There was trepidation in his presence however.
The Duxburian society that Karolina knew had so many secret layers that learning all of this was somewhat overwhelming. Most outside of the Duxburian Union rarely get this kind of historical lesson and in depth sharing of ideas from the source; her textbooks merely reported the historical situations, relative facts, etc. That was also what any Pole knew of this. The Triangle...everything...it was overwhelming.
Ian, on the other hand, was much more intense in his gaze and remained clear headed. It was remarkable to Karolina how calm he was despite all of this craziness and the potential that things could get bizarre quickly.
"As the leader of the Teutonic Knights, we accept your gracious proposal. We could always use more allies in Europe, and I do see a common urge to protect what is dear to us at all costs. As for the official government business, I'm sure you understand that the President will be assessing the situation based on her own skills," Ian said to the Duxburian hosts.
Karolina couldn't help but notice her own heart rate was going through the roof, and it felt like every second drew even larger leaps from her chest.
"Thank you very much, Mr. Devoy. It is indeed a great honour to finally get to meet you," Karolina replied. She noticed that her mother's native English accent was starting to pierce her usually light Polish accent.
'Goodness, the odd quirks that pop out when you get nervous,' Karolina replied. Then the word vomit occurred.
"I'm sorry about the English accent randomly popping in. My mother is English, and every now and then, especially when I'm nervous, it just happens. I can't really control it, but I wish I could..." Karolina replied. Ian couldn't help but grin and chuckle under his breath.
"Please, don't worry about it." Brandon said, switching to a more natural Hasilthecian accent. "You can imagine how nervous I was when this asshat (he gestured to Jan Allon) practically impressed me into all of this when I was 15."
"But, it worked out pretty damn well," responded Jan.
"Yeah, it did. Things have a strange way of working out in the end," replied Brandon.
For some reason, Mr. Syzmanowski could have sworn that he'd heard Brandon's native voice somewhere, but they'd never met before. It was so familiar, but where from?
"Yeah, if he'd never met Jan, the web wouldn't exist, cyber warfare wouldn't exist, the Duxburian charity community doesn't happen, the truth about our religious history never gets discovered, the Triangle is never formed, and none of us would be sitting here today," said Byran. "Oh, and the Duxburian Union wouldn't have won Eurovoice for another year!"
"Enough, we get the point," snapped Brandon. It was now his turn to be embarrassed, deeply embarrassed.
That's where Mr. Syzmanowski had heard that voice before! Eurovoice 17! Brandon looked over at Karolina and knew that she now recognized it too.
"Way to go, Byran," thought Brandon. He would have liked for his Eurovoice involvement to have remained forgotten history, but that genie was out of the bottle now.
"Errm?so?uh?when new friends enter the Triangle alliance, it is customary to exchange gifts," said Brandon. "But, since this meeting was held with pretty much no warning, I don't expect anyone to have anything physical. Instead, we shall exchange the gift of music."
"Fuck it, I can't be any more embarrassed, so might as well."
Brandon gestured at the old, dusty piano in the back of the room. He walked over and tested the keys, it was in-tune.
"For my side, I wish to play an unreleased song from a very uncertain time in my past. President Karolina, you may be able to relate to this."
Brandon relinquished the bench and asked if Karolina had anything she'd composed to share with them?
President Kligenberg and Mr. Syzmanowski were relieved to know the Duxburian voice they heard from Brandon Devoy was something familiar.
They listened to the music and despite the President's classical training in violin, she seemed to connect to the melody at once.
"Lovely! I love the vocal quality of the singing as well. I happened to be championing some Polish violin music, and came across this Henryk Wieniawski 'Romance sans Paroles et Rondo Elegant'," the President replied. "My husband is a pianist, and he was lucky to have learned this piano part. It's a gorgeous piece, but forgive me as I've only just begun to crack the surface of this work." The President was handed her Stradivarius, the "ex-Wienawski".
She felt much more at home playing and began to play the violin showpiece with great ease, an elegant and controlled quality to her playing.
She ended the piece and quickly asked, "So what did you think? And what am I to expect of the person I'm meeting with tomorrow in official capacity?"