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Princess Esther

Ah, Normandie!

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Ah, Normandie!
 
The mere thought of the Twin Peninsula Jarldom brought a radiant smile on Princess Esther of Anglia's face, big enough to light up the whole of the Melusine Kingdom. Her Imperial and Royal Highness closed her eyes and dreamt away.
 
That beautiful land of rugged hills and rolling plains, of misty vales and craggy coastlines, of blue lakes and sparkling rivers and fertile fields, of vast forests that teem with game of every sort, where half-hidden doors in the sides of wooded hills open onto labyrinthine caves that wend their way through darkness to reveal unimaginable wonders and vast treasures deep beneath the earth, was the place where her parents - the late Kaiseress Noor of Shireroth and King Noah of Elwynn - had spent a long family holiday with the mutual children of their bodies: her and Prince Vilhjálm of Amokolia. Lasting a couple of months, the family holiday had been a very happy affair. Sadly it had also been the last time that would enjoy each other’s company in such a manner before the Kaiseress Noor’s death in the year 1650. However, the good memories prevailed.
 
Kaiseress Noor had long resisted her husband's desire to go on a long family holiday, because Her Imperial Magnificence and Radiant Majesty was not the woman to travel somewhere just for reasons of leisure. She had finally given in on the condition that such holiday would occur after a State Visit to the High Realm of Stormark with all the pomp, pageantry and opulence that goes with it. King Noah was overjoyed and managed to persuade his grandfather High King Harald of Stormark to organise such State Visit.

It was agreed by the couple that the family holiday was to take place in the Twin Peninsula Jarldom. Throughout her years of marriage with King Noah the Kaiseress Noor had studied Storish history and culture and had developed a taste for Norman culture, especially the ways of the Leopard Brothers, the founders of the Duchy of Normandie.
 
In the year 1649 AN the State Visit of Kaiseress Noor to the High Realm of Stormark took place and it was a smashing success. From the very instance that she landed in the Imperial City of Haraldsborg, Her Imperial Magnificence and Radiant Majesty awed everyone in the Lands of the Longships Throne with her regality, sophistication, intelligence, elegance, knowledge and charm, and soon she rivalled the late Lady Esther Ayreon-Kalirion in popularity.  
 
The Imperial and Royal Couple was in very good spirits when they departed from the Jarldom of the Longships Islands, where the State Visit had ended (the Kaiseress Noor was the Jarla of the Longships Islands), for the Duchy of Normandie. Having arrived there, one of the happiest periods of their lives commenced.
 
People would be hard pressed to find a couple deeper in love than Princess Esther's parents. She fondly remembers seeing the Kaiseress Noor and King Noah of Elwynn spend extensive time together, something which they in their daily lives would not get round to because they both were ruling vast territories spread all over the globe. Long hand-in-hand walks on the Norman beaches, trying outrace each other on horseback on Normandie’s plains, and picnics in the Duchy’s many forests were among the many romantic activities the Imperial and Royal Couple undertook in the Twin Peninsula Jarldom.
 
One of the things that the Kaiseress Noor liked about this family holiday in Stormark was that she could take a break from the sternness and aloofness she had to display when governing the Imperial Republic of Shireroth, and indulge herself in her more mischievous side, with her husband being often at the receiving end. She was a mysterious woman of secrets and wonder who could even surprise people who had known her for a long time.
 
So did the Kaiseress Noor once during their Norman family holiday take - without her husband’s knowledge (she had told him that she was out shopping) - part in a local tournament held in a sleepy small town called Lyons-la-Forêt, entering the lists as a mystery knight. She won the tournament, letting a string of Norman knights bite the dust. When she reined up at the Imperial Box she - still incognito - shocked those present by presenting the laurel of pink and white desert roses to King Noah, placing it in his lap with the tip of her lance. King Noah’s jaw nearly dropped to the Floor when the Kaiseress Noor took off her helmet, causing her to say with a big fat wink: "Hey boy, have you lost your tongue?!". This all to the Olympian amusement of those within earshot.
 
There was also the instance that the Kaiseress Noor - after she taken her leave, telling her husband that she was going to the Imperial Ladies' Room of the Théâtre National de Normandie to powder her nose - walked onto the theater platform during the fired up staging of a musical about the life of High Queen Hervör called 'The Einherja Queen', dressed in the Royal Bunad of Normandie and played an important solo on Norman bagpipes and then saluted the audience by performing the Révérence Ibelinois. Her amazing performance stunned King Noah and their children and made the crowd go wild.
 
Those were just a few of the countless occurrences in which the Kaiseress Noor displayed her awesomeness. Good times...
 
With a start the Princess Esther woke up from her daydream, wondering for how long she had been in that state. Her Imperial and Royal Highness quickly composed herself and replied.
 
"Your Excellency, the Sameinaða Erlendur Kaupsýsla Einokun Félagið would be delighted to assist the Kingdom of the Union of Caputia with all aspects of its reconstruction! We know about the ambition of Her Caputian Majesty's Government to bring the prosperity of the Lands of the Melusine Throne back to their pre-Civil War levels and the SEKEF will help you to reach that goal."

"To that end the SEKEF is very much willing assist with the funding and installing of both a natural gas pipeline and an insulated underground cable. The same goes for other projects, infrastuctural or otherwise, to help the Kingdom of the Union of Caputia to get on its feet again."

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You must miss your mother very much, poor beloved great niece of mine!

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Sweet Great-Grandaunt of Mine,

My mother was larger than life and I do miss her, every day that the Goddesses allow me to trod Reikistjarna. Her untimely death left a gap bigger than a black hole in my heart and life.

Thanks to mortal Ladies like you, Æsileif, Aoife, Charlotte, Chloe, Fjǫrleif, Geirbjörg, Gudrid, Sigrid, Theodora, Victoria and Yumi and the Goddesses Frigga, Freyja and Idunn - who all gave me an abundance of love,  support, comfort, and wise advise and counsel - over time I came be at peace with my mother's departure to the afterlife.

You helped to find, channel and utilize the power deep inside me. This allows me to honour my mother's memory by serving the High Realm of Stormark, that country that was so strange to her, but which she also loved so much.

Thank you for all what you have done for me! 

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My darling great grandniece of mine – do not thank me, it is what real family do for one another.

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Unanticipatedly the Princess Esther felt a soft touch on her shoulder.

She looked up and saw the inhumanly beautiful face of Lafði Ilyrana Ithraidesdóttir of the House of Ytre Flåvær, a noble lady of elvish descent serving Her Imperial and Royal Highness as Stallari of her Ambassadorial Household. The Lady Ilyrana was a veteran of the Storish Civil Service and the Sovereign Household, with a career spanning more than half a Norton Century, who had served the Lands of the Longships Throne in numerous capacities. 

As a little girl Lafði Ilyrana had started out as a cupbearer to the Lady Unna of Skálavík of the House of Vanadís, the then and present High Justiciar of Stormark, steadly rising through the ranks of public and Imperial service until she ended up as Mistress of the Robes of the Sovereign Household. High King Harald had handpicked this experienced Lady to serve as the Princess Esther’s Chief of Staff at the prestigious and important diplomatic mission in the Kingdom of the Union of Caputia.

Princess Esther considered the Lady Ilyrana as her rock, stalwart shield, and nearby motherly advisor, now that she had, due to being posted in Zalae, had to do without the closeness of the wise and strong women - such as the mortal Imperial and Royal Ladies Ærinndís, Æsileif, Aoife, Charlotte, Chloe, Fjǫrleif, Geirbjörg, Gudrid, Sigrid, Theodora, Victoria and Yumi as well as the Goddesses Frigga, Freyja and Idunn - she usually was surrounded with and who provided her with support, advice and counsel. They had taken on the responsibility for her after the untimely death on the isle of Ura’Bos of her mother, the Kaiseress Noor of Shireroth, which had left a black hole-sized gap in her life and heart. 

With the help of those Ladies Imperial, Royal and Divine - who all gave her an abundance of love, support, comfort, as well as wise advise and counsel - over time Princess Esther came be at peace with her mother's departure to the afterlife. They helped Her Imperial and Royal Highness to find, channel and utilize the power deep inside her. This allows me to honour her mother's memory by serving the High Realm of Stormark, that country that was so strange to the Kaiseress Noor, but which she also loved so much.

The Lady Ilyrana beamingly presented Her Imperial and Royal Highness with two sealed off scrolls made of Valtian parchment, and solemnly explained that both of those parchment rolls carried important dispatches from High Realm of Stormark. Princess Esther was slightly bewildered and wondered what tidings could be of such great significance that Lafði Ilyrana had interrupted her High Tea with Her Caputian Majesty's Minister of Reconstruction and Infrastructure. It couldn’t be bad news, because Lafði Ilyrana was radiant like the Princess Esther had not ever seen her before.

Very carefully and very intrigued the Princess Esther studied the precious scrolls. Each of the scrolls had a royal blue Valtian silk ribbon around it. One of the scrolls was sealed off with the Great Seal of the Twenty-Six Jarldoms, also in royal blue; the other with the Seal of the Althing in black.

Princess Esther broke the royal blue Great Seal of the Lands of the Longships Throne of the the first scroll, removed its royal blue Valtian silk ribbon, and unrolled the parchment. Reading its content put a little smile on her face. The High King in the High Council of the Realm had, by means of an Order in Council, issued an Imperial Charter creating the Société des Chemins de Fer Normands - Østfolds Jernbanesellskap. This corporation was to enter in negotiations with Natopian and Caputian companies concerning the establishment of one or more joint ventures for the construction and operation of the Great Keltian Railway as well as the construction and operation of other infrastructural projects on Keltia such as roads, highways, airports and harbours. 

It delighted Her Imperial and Royal Highness that the Duchy of Østfold and the Duchy of Normandie - the former is a Storish Biland, the latter is a Storish Jarldom - had been made shareholders of the Société des Chemins de Fer Normands - Østfolds Jernbanesellskap. Both Duchies had played a significant part in the Old Tale, the Saga of Stormark’s Creation. The former by providing High King Harald with his first Ducal Title as well as being the place where he and High Queen Hervör could take a break from the unease, turmoil and tensions in Stormark’s earliest days, having several happy holidays there in the Villa Sorgenfri; the latter by providing the knights whose unstoppable cavalry charge crushed the Harkalegar during the Battle of Myrkviðr and this Norman martial feat saved the High Realm of Stormark. And now these Duchies would play a role in Caputia’s New Tale: its Reconstruction and subsequent road to prosperity.

The Storish Lady Ambassador to Caputia considered the issuance of the Imperial Charter a very good first move by the Imperial Government of the High Realm of Stormark towards its objective of realizing a thoroughly interconnected infrastructure between the Keltian parts of Stormark, Natopia and Caputia, beginning with a high-speed train and a highway from Nordiskehjem to Zalae through Østfold as well as similar transport infrastucture from Quimper to Zalae. The scroll also contained a note which instructed Her Imperial and Royal Highness to, with all due haste, take steps to register the Société des Chemins de Fer Normands - Østfolds Jernbanesellskap. It also informed her of the formation of a Natopian company called A/S Infrastruktur Normark, which might become their partner from the Caprine Country. These were all very good tidings, but it did not explain Lady Ilyrana’s unusual behaviour and cheerful demeanor, so she moved on to the second scroll.

The contents of the second scroll made the Princess Esther gush. The Most Honourable Jarls in the Althing assembled had by means of enacting the Esther of Anglia Act of Year 17 conferred upon her the tremendous honour of admitting her to the Imperial Branch of the House of Ettlingar Freyu. She was a Storjarla! She now was among the company of larger than life Ladies like Björka Hnossdóttir, Freydís Björkasdóttir and the other Storlafðir, the first ten Heads Mortal of the House of Ettlingar Freyu. They were the fabled giantesses who managed to make the House of Ettlingar Freyu one of the Great Thirteen and one of the greatest Imperial and Royal Houses that has ever existed on Reikistjarna, succesfully laying the foundation which maintained it as the same throughout the Days of Valtia. 

She was so touched that the Althing had allowed her to follow in the footsteps of her mother, the Kaiseress Noor of Shireroth, and her grandmother, - after whom she was named - the Lady Esther Ayreon-Kairion and Ettlingar Freyu. Her mother had taken great pride in her membership of the Imperial Branch of the House of Ettlingar Freyu. She had desired it so much that she had played hardball, making it a non-negotiable precondition for her consent to her marriage with King Noah of Elwynn.

The Most Honourable Jarls in the Althing assembled had also granted Her Imperial the Imperial Chieftaincy of Normandie, which added to her delight. The Duchy of Normandie was a Storish Jarldom with a special place in Princess Esther’s heart. In the year 1649 her parents - the late Kaiseress Noor of Shireroth and King Noah of Elwynn - had spent a long family holiday there with the mutual children of their bodies: her and Prince Vilhjálm of Amokolia. It had been one of the happiest times of their lives, full of pleasurable activities enabled by the Duchy’s beautiful landscape, its proud history and its rich culture. Now that she was Imperial Chieftaincy of the Twin Peninsula Jarldom, she had the perfect pretext to visit it often.

The Althingi Jarls had also assigned her a place in the Line of Succession to the Imperial Longships Throne as well. For a couple of instances Her Imperial and Royal Highness beamingly imagined herself as High Queen in her own right, being on the Thingvellir sitting on the Longships Throne and being the central mortal of the pomp, pageantry and opulent trappings of the Storish Konungstekja - or as the case would be with her: Drottningstekja. She would have to wed the Goddesses Frigga, Freyja and Idunn, but being bisexual - just like her mother, the Kaiseress Noor of Shireroth - that wouldn’t be an issue at all. Those Goddesses are the best spouses a mortal can wish for! 

Then the Princess Esther quickly shrugged off that notion of hers of ascending the Longships Throne in the forseeable future as extremely premature, unrealistic and even downright silly. This because the Grand Old Man on the Imperial Throne of Stormark and the six people in front of her in  the Order of Succession to the Longships Throne were light-years away from the croaking zone, and given the way the High King and all those Arvjarl(a)s quaff huge quantities of juice made of Idunn’s apples that situation would definitely persist for a couple of Norton centuries.

There was a little note from Lady Aoife the Celt, the Law Speaker of the Althing, cryptically  explaining the rationale of the Esther of Anglia Act of Year 17. The Year 3 Committee had intensely lobbied the High King and Gulajarl to submit the Esther of Anglia Bill to the Althing and also applied some strong-arming and lockstep enforcement to get the Bill passed. She was baffled and wondered why this very aloof committee had done so.

The Year 3 Committee is an Althingi Committee composed of Ladies of the Grand Mysterious Sisterhoods who, as Althing Jarlas, hold a seat in the aforesaid legislature of the whole of the Storish Nation. It is very powerful and secretive. The Committee is named after the Year of the Second Viking Age in which several Ladies of the Grand Mysterious Sisterhoods succesfully petitioned the High King to call the Althing into session again after its first session had expired subsequent to the end of the First Year of the Second Viking Age. 

Two phrases for the Lady Aoife’s note - ‘When zie degrade, we elevate.’ and ‘Pacts must be honoured’ - caused the penny to drop. It brought a smile on Princess Esther’s face and she burst into sardonic Olympian laughter.

Her Imperial and Royal Highness’ attention went to Her Caputian Majesty's Minister of Reconstruction and Infrastructure, Gerhardt Eugen Seydlitz. Her rapid succession of emotions could have caused a flurry for His Excellency, so Princess Esther proceeded to explaining to him what tidings had been brought to her. 
 

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No need to thank me, dear one! I am ready to do anything and everything for my loved ones!

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