What a feeling!
The Châtelaine du Château Cour-de-Forêt, the Storjarla Esther Fatima Gudrid Ayreon-Kalirion ibn al-Majeed bin Sathrati af Ettlingum Freyu, Imperial Chieftainess of Normandie, Earla of Anglia, lay abed in her opulent bedchamber in Château Cour-de-Forêt. Esther's flat and toned stomach was supercalifragilisticexpialidociously buzzing of excitement: Her Imperial and Royal Highness could hardly lay still! The tremendous fluttering in her tummy was caused by having been struck by the dart of love twice over earlier that day.
First there had been the dart of motherly love: a whoosh of golden light, gorgeous and delightfully disruptive. It hit Esther when she, for the first time in person, laid her eyes on Her Royal Highness the Princess Elisabeth of Austrasia, awaking the latent loving mother inside her as well as hooking Her Imperial and Royal Highness for good on motherhood. The Princess Elisabeth was spontaneous, smart and witty as well as wise way beyond her years. Her Royal Highness also possesses a tremendous charisma, being the bodily culmination of numerous awesome ancestors.
Supercalifragilisticexpialidociously shortly after the first dart of love came the second one for Esther: striking Her Imperial and Royal Highness right in the heart, igniting the love of a woman for a man. In a bright golden burst of magic it transformed the Frankish Emperor into Sir Arkadius des Vinandy, Esther's Knight in Shining Armour: hotter than dragonfire and so exuberantly handsome that he could compete with Thordynnar Galtivaris in the good looks department, which is not too surprising since the Frankish Emperor descends from that hunky Elf too.
Esther lay skyclad between the Valtian Silk sheets that cover her humongous bed, her gorgeous body raging with love. She writhed and squirmed, twisted and turned, adamantely trying to calm herself down. The Earla of Anglia was exuberantly pumped like she had never been before; filled from head to toe with energetic excitement, enthusiasm and other wonderful emotions. To her tremendous delight had Her Imperial and Royal Highness' reception and hosting of her most honoured guests, the Princess of Austrasia and the Frankish Emperor been a smashing success; that was something which was for a substantial part owed to the excellent information provided by the Corps de Renseignement of the Fleur de Lys-Longships Guard and for co-equal parts caused by her own meticulous preparation - which included masterclasses with the famed Storish golfer Johanna Johansdóttir of the House of Ostqvist, the Storish chess champion Carl Magnusson of the House of Asker and her great-great-grandmother High Queen Mother Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir of the Houses of Kaupsted and the Descendants of Freyja, who in her teens had gained renown around Reikistjarna for her prodigious virtuosic skill as a pianist - and the efforts of the Maison du Duc de Gascogne, the ducal household of the Duke of Gascony. Moreover, due to fate she today had contracted a seemingly permanent bout of of mommy fever as well as run into the man she wanted to tie the knot with.
A true family man he is, that Arkadius Frederik Gustavus des Vinandy, who in spite of the tremendous burden of governing three sovereign realms, still found time to lovingly attend to his children. Given the fact that he was of good Imperial stock it would be a piece of cake to obtain the permission of the Imperial Longships Throne for their nuptials. With Arkadius, Esther could also fulfill her inherent duty of passing on her ancient lineage - which includes mythical giants like Björka Hnossdóttir, Kaiser Raynor I of Shireroth, Tuuler Kalir, Harald Freyjugjöf the Generous Giver, Rashid Shahanshah of Babkha and Kaiseress Noor of Shireroth - as her parents, the late Kaiseress Noor of Shireroth, of Glorious and Beloved Memory, and King Noah of Elwynn, would have expected of her. Esther Fatima Gudrid Ayreon-Kalirion ibn al-Majeed bin Sathrati af Ettlingum Freyu des Vinandy... That name most certainly had a tremendous Imperial and Royal appeal to it!
The Divine Power moves in such mysterious ways: us puny mortals never know when or where zie shall set up anyone of us for love. Hnoss had encountered Thordynnar Galtivaris in the Godsgrove of the Temple of the Lady and the Fisherman in Valtia; her grandmother Esther Ayreon-Kalirion, the sixth Emira of Sathrati, also known as Esther the Elder, had met her grandfather, Hallbjörn Haraldsson, who later served as Kaiser Hjalmar of Shireroth, at an informal reception held at the Hall of Hundred Hearths of the Vanadísarhall during Emperor Nathaniel of the Natopians' Imperial Visit to the High Realm of Stormark; her aunt the Storjarla Fjǫrleif Llængjarla of Eidsivarike had run into the love of her life, the Lady Alys Geloyra of the Milkhouse, while looking for adventure in The Green; and it had taken years before her father, King Noah of Elwynn, had pierced the mental armour worn by her mother, the late Kaiseress Noor of Shireroth, finally realizing her attraction to him. Ah, what a couple they were!
Her Knight in Shining Armour, Arkadius Frederik Gustavus des Vinandy, actually descends from a great knight from the days of yore: Count Bertolf des Vinandy, also known the Bertolf the Brave, the founder of the House of Vinandy. He is widely regarded as one of the finest knights ever, who even could teach famed and legendary knights such as Kendra Harcourt and Pierre Bourgault de Dampierre a thing or two. To this very day Bertolf is a folk hero in northern Batavia, Gascony and Francia with him featuring in innumerable tales. He is remembered as a jolly bon vivant, strong and competent ruler, champion of justice, and perfect chivalric lord with a hearty goodfellow manner; males would like to be like him and many a nubile damsel dreams of him wearing her favour.
A stanza of an ancient Gascon folk song, which she had sung to the Princess Elisabeth while the two of them where playing on the rug in front of the fireplace, popped up in her mind:
There were the women of the village
Scattered out along the way
And I heard children crying
As many a coward ran away
The marauders must have seen them
A situation perilous and grave
But standing firm between them
There was Bertolf the Brave.
Arkadius in many respects governed his domains in a manner similar to that of his forebear Count Bertolf des Vinandy: patriotic, just, inclusive, hopeful, aspirational and inspirational. During his various tenures and reigns as a statesman and monarch he displayed wisdom and extraordinary leadership, gaining acclaim both domestically and internationally. In a recent article the Gascon newspaper called the Quill and Arrow wrote that Arkadius had "a proven track record of strong leadership and he recognises the challenges one must confront. Time and time again this scion of the Des Vinandy dynasty has also shown himself to be empathic, understanding, knowledgeable, pragmatic and sensible."
The thought of standing before the wedding table with Arkadius wearing a certain red Babkhi gown with the traditional Shahzamini golden embroideries, the very same dress in which her grandmother, Esther the Elder, tied the knot with her grandfather, Hallbjörn Haraldsson, and which was also worn by her great-great-great-grandmother Tuuler Kalir at the inauguration of Rashid Arsalani's Grand Viziership, years before him being made both Shahanshah of Babkha and Kaiser of Shireroth brought a smile bright enough the light up the entire planet on Esther's face. A feeling of peace and contentment came over Her Imperial and Royal Highness and then she slipped into a pleasant deep sleep, sweetly dreaming about hiking with her future offspring, both by acceptance and of her own body, in the Forest of St Michael on the Gascon island which is known as the Isle St Jeanne: a litter of children the size of a small army.