Dans le style de la Russie: Inquista - Russian Empire Summit
Peterhof Palace, the official residence of the Russian Tsar, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna
2 September 2018
"Oh, zut alors! Peut-on assurons que le foyer est prêt à l'archevêque?" the Grand Duchess announced. She was a short woman who, aside from the beautifully maintained clothes and obvious poise, seemed to turn into the grandmothers that most people imagine non-model Russian women looked like. At least that was her self-perception as she saw her reflection in a window at the entrance of the Peterhof Palace, the seat of the Russian emperors and empresses since the early 18th century. The title of Tsarina of all Russias, Grand Duchess of Muscovy, Grand Duchess of Petersburg suited her and with it the Russian Empire had the image of...well...a babushka keeping the motherland safe.
"It will be fine," said Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. "You've never been this concerned with keeping the palace in top shape before; it's always looked good, Your Imperial Highness." He was a man who rarely smiled, and it seemed like happiness went to him to die a slow, dignified death. A strong face leading the Imperial Conservative Party and the Imperial Government to its first foreign dignitaries since joining the European Union. And for it to be Inquista was truly fitting. Inquista was the nation that brought Orthodox Christianity to the Kievan Rus and an aspiration to what a strong economy could be. Not to mention Mr. Medvedev admired the way the Archibishop Paul Cracitus was able to wrest away control of the Sawhari from Marrakechia. It was very shrewd, very bold...very Russian.
"I hope you told the Archbishop's detail that Russian drivers are...a different breed from the rest," Maria Vladimirovna said to the Prime Minister. "Otherwise, I wouldn't be surprised if they were in an accident themselves."
"There's a pretty stiff breeze coming from the ocean as well, could make landing the plane at Pulkovo interesting."
The Grand Duchess seemed to not even care what the Prime Minister was saying. She, the Russian Empire, were having such an exquisite guest over. She hoped that the Orchestra from the Mariinsky Theatre was ready to impress the Inquistans with the fine cultural presentation that is a Russian state visit. It was the celebration of the harvest this weekend and the Day of Knowledge weekend. There was to be a ball at the Winter Palace, and she would bring the Archbishop as a guest of honour...
After business, though. That's why the Prime Minister was here, otherwise she would have done this herself.
Archbishop Craticus had safely landed at Saint Petersburg airport. The flight from Saint Domnico to Saint Petersburg was a longer trip than what the Archbishop was used to, and the turbulence through the journey was notably bad for a medium-haul flight, which left Craticus a bit tired and irritable. Archbishop Craticus thought that the worst of the travelling behind him, but he was sorely mistaken. As Archbishop Craticus sat in the back of a large SUV that was taking him to Peterhof Palace, he gripped tightly onto his leather seat and was barely able to keep him composure.
"What is going on out there?" Craticus called out to his driver. Sweat was dripping down Craticus' forehead and his mouth was completely dry.
"Afternoon traffic," the driver responded nonchalantly.
Despite that the Archbishop was in a large black SUV which was ordained with small Inquistan flags, and had security cars following and proceeding the vehicle, the Russian drivers paid no mind to the diplomatic convey. To them, the convoy was simply another obstacle on their road during rush hour traffic. Cars attempted to cut-off Craticus' SUV every which way, and Craticus' SUV almost got hit at every intersection as Russian drivers paid no mind to signs or lights.
Under his breath, Archbishop Craticus began saying a prayer of protection as he continued to to grip tightly onto his seat. "The cross of Christ be with me. The cross of Christ overcomes all water and every fire. The cross of Christ overcomes all weapons. The cross of Christ is a perfect sign and blessing to my soul. May Christ be with me and my body during all my life. At day and at night. Now I pray, I Paul Craticus, pray God the Father. For the soul's sake, and I pray God the Son for the Father's sake. I pray God the Holy Ghost for the Father's and Son's sake. I pray God the Holy Ghost for the for the Father's and the Son's sake. That the holy corpse of God may bless me against all evil things, words and works - AGH!"
Craticus yelled as large truck swerved through an intersection and just about hit Craticus through the side window head-on. Craticus immediately grabbed some rosemary beads from his pocket and held them tightly. Craticus began kissing them. "Please protect me, Father. Archangel Michael watch over me. Please protect me, Father. Archangel Michael watch over me. Please protect me, Father. Archangel Michael watch over me."
Some sort of force was certainly looking over Archbishop Craticus and protecting his life, as he somehow reached the Perterhof Palace unscathed. Craticus was marveled by the palace. It was really beautiful. Craticus had an affinity for Russian culture, a brotherly respect for its Orthodox Church, and a particular fondness for their Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev. Craticus is not only familiar with the ins and outs of the Russian Orthodox Church, but he also maintains almost perfect fluency in Russian. In addition to English and Latin, which he grew up with in Inquista, Craticus had also studied Russian while at seminary school and at university.
Craticus admired the palace from afar as he got out of his vehicle. Then, a group of his security personnel escorted him to meet his Russian colleagues.
"Dobro pozhalovat' v Rossiyu, arkhiyepiskop (Добро пожаловать в Россию, архиепископ)!" said the Grand Duchess, reaching out to extend her hand to the Archbishop. "I hope that the Prime Minister warned you about how St. Petersburg has quite the interesting peak hours traffic. It's like they say, gribi poshli...the mushrooms have come so everyone is rushing everywhere." The Grand Duchess stood on the steps of Peterhof Palace, the seat of Russian tsars and tsarinas for nearly 250 years. The opulent Miracois baroque style palace sat on the top of a bluff, with a Grand Cascade looking down towards the shore of St. Petersburg's natural harbour, the Bay of Livonia.
"Archbishop Cracitus, the pleasure is all ours. Welcome to the Russian Empire. You are our first guest to the Empire since we joined the European Union. I must admit, the years of Russian oligarchs randomly popping up in St. Dominico must have been strange to your people, considering we Russians have not made ourselves generally known to most of Europe," Prime Minister Medvedev said. "You've come at a good time, we're actually celebrating a week beginning the harvest. In the country, you'd see many traditional Russian dances. However, the landed elites of Russia will be coming to Peterhof tonight to celebrate with traditional Russian music, aristocratic European dances, and a massive feast."
The Tsarina smiled. She knew this was where her reputation as Russia's finest and most respected hostess will come into play.
"Yes, please stay for the event later today. It is the beginning of the harvest celebrations and it's a traditional Russian festival with a huge band, fireworks, orchestras, dancing, food, choirs, and ballet. We'll be going to Mariinsky Theatre, the second best ballet in Russia (and therefore the world) to see some fantastic ballet with the assembled nobility before coming back to Peterhof Palace for dancing, feasts, and more dancing. Please, accept this gift on behalf of the Russian Empire to the Microstate of Inquista."
The Tsarina reached into her clutch and pulled out an opulent, yellow Faberge egg. Inside of it was a figure of the Imperial Carriage that would take the crowned tsar from Smolny Cathedral to Peterhof, people lining the streets along the way.
"It's one of our family's most prized Faberge eggs, but as a gesture of goodwill and a reminder to all who lead Inquista of the strength of the bond our two Orthodox nations share I will part with it," the Tsarina said to the Archbishop. "Now come, we must go on a slight tour. Now, you see the fountain and all of that going down the bluff. This is the Grand Cascade. It's a beautiful water feature modelled after the Miracois palace, Chateau de Marly. In the water feature is the Samson Fountain, depicting the moment that Samson tore open the mouth of a lion. That channel of water there is the Sea Channel, where I or other tsars before me could take private craft into the Bay of Livonia."
Archbishop Craticus was most pleased with the Tsarina's generous gift. Craticus held onto the gift tightly as he received the tour of the palace and the surrounding grounds. Craticus quietly marveled at the architecture and nodded as the Tsarina provided detailed explanations. Craticus appreciated the tour greatly. It wasn't often that Craticus received tours like these when he was overseas, never mind tours of a palaces as beautiful as this... by the Tsarina of the Russian Empire herself! Craticus had a special interest in architecture in particular. The baroque style of the palace was certainly wonderful and was appealing to his tastes. Miracois baroque architecture was quite different from Inquistan baroque architecture, despite that the two often get confused. Miracois baroque architecture was clearly an expression of majesty and nobility, which lent itself well to palaces such as these. The Inquistan style was more of an expression of faith and zeal, which lent itself better towards basilicas and domes.
"Samson Fountain is gorgeous," Craticus whispered out loud, feeling impressed with the beauty of the fountain, as well as feeling impressed by its use of biblical iconography. "The history of the Russian Empire is much like the story of Samson."
Craticus cleared his throat as the tour continued. "I want to thank you both for having me. I am honoured to be your first guest. The pleasure is all mine. I especially look forward to festivities of the harvest. I've been fortunate enough to make the acquaintances of several of your oligarchs. If I had a Rouble for every invitation I've received to board a Russian yacht in the peers of Saint Dominico, I'd be an oligarch myself. I've heard that there's nothing quite like a Russian celebration."