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The High Realm of Stormark
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Galinn Karisson

An Anniversary Banquet

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Magnificent carriages of all types pull up to the grand entrance of the Feast Hall. Gathered today are the many guests, all citizens of Stormark, invited by King Camillus, in order to celebrate the one year anniversary of his marriage to Ard-Ri and Crown Princess Aoife.

 

Camillus stands at the entrance, dressed in the Class A Treisenberg military uniform, complete with the Grand Chain of the Order of the Golden Fleece. Happily he greets the guests, shaking hands, and making chit-chat with the entering guests, as he awaits the arrival of his wife, for whom this banquet is a surprise.

 

All guests are required to wear either black-tie formal, or the traditional formal dress of their homeland or profession.

 

Specially prepared dishes, ranging from traditional Celtic cuisine, to food from all over the Empire, are served to the attendees, as well as their choice of drink from a specially prepared drink list, with choices including beer and ale to almost 50 different wines.

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* Lady Aoife sat slightly annoyed in a golden carriage drawn by eight white horses, with white plumes on their heads, and with golden harness, which was taking her to an unknown destination. She wasn't able to notice were the carriage was heading because she was blindfolded and had a headset on her head which played distracting music into her ears.

 

King Camillus of Treisenberg, her husband, had sent the carriage for her and she was told by a Lord Equerry that they were going to have dinner with some stuffy diplomat from a country far from everywhere who was hiding from a group of anarchists. The dinner would therefore take place at a secret location that even she was not allowed to know. She had been very angry that her husband apparently had forgotten about their wedding anniversary and had considered not to go to the dinner.

 

Lady Aoife had, however, resolved that she was not going to let her husband down and would, for the time being, play the dutiful wife. She had dressed herself very regally in a magnificent green silk Celtic regal gown with a golden belt adorned with precious stones. The finishing touch was provided by matching gloves and a matching handbag. She was also wearing the Insignia of the Grand and Glorious Imperial Order of the Two Silver Longships, an ancient Celtic Circlet, diamond earrings, and a copy of the Brísingamen. When having arrived home after the dinner she would, however, read her husband the Riot Act in a manner that would even pale a Special Forces drill instructor to teach him a lesson so that he would never ever forget their anniversary anymore. The servants who would have to clean up the mess next day would be wondering - when wading through oceans of smashed pottery, broken glass and trashed furniture - whether a couple of elephants had been holding a headbangers' party in there the previous evening.

 

Suddenly the golden carriage halted. The Lord Equerry opened the carriage door, removed the headset from Lady Aoife's head and told her that they had arrived on their destination and that King Camillus was waiting for her. Then the Lord Equerry helped Lady Aoife, who was still blindfolded, out of the golden carriage and led her to the grand entrance of the Feast Hall. *

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Empress Sigrid arrives in her carriage with her Valkyrie guardswomen in tow. She is eager to make a public appearance and enjoy the banquet. Perhaps she can even find a handsome fellow to dance with afterwards!

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A horse guard runs frantically up to the King's aide, to bring His Majesty the impending news. The aide calmly approaches the King: "Sire, she has arrived." Quietly, Camillus takes his leave of the guests, and gives the signal. "The Queen has arrived! All guests inside the hall, and let us proceed to be silent!!!" The air buzzes with excitement as the crowd on friends and onlookers prepares for the momentous event.

 

He knows that she was not in the mood for games, and the King hated to lie to his darling bride. But, there was nothing else he could do; his love for her was so that all he wanted in the world was for this surprise to succeed, to see Aoife's gleaming smile shine, and to embrace her in happiness. "Gentleman, at attention," he called to the grenadiers, lining the hall towards the entrance.

 

With the doors closed to the banquet hall, preparations made, the King looked into a near by mirror, adjusted his uniform, checked his hair, as Aoife would be sure to chide him if he looked messy to the "ambassador," and walked onto the steps.

 

There, he stood in amazement. Aoife was led from her carriage still blind folded, wearing her stunning Cletic gown. He could see her annoyance at being dragged to yet another stuffy dinner, and being treated in such a secretive manner. He approached, and took her by the hand. Quick conversation passed, as she inquired how long they would have to stay, for they both had many duities. "Not too long," replied Camillus.

 

They stopped, and the King nodded for the doors to be opened. He took the blindfold off, and all at once, the grand hall echoed with shouts of "Surprise!" and laughter. Camillus turned to Aoife, and winked. "Did you think I'd forget, cara mia?"

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* Lady Aoife was deeply touched and rendered speechless - something that very rarely happens to her - by the awesome surprise that King Camillus had prepared for her, his wife. Tears of joy rolled over her cheeks. This was one of the sweetest things anyone had ever done for her in her entire life. It truly shows how much he loves her for the level of planning and preparation required to organize this event would render almost any army operation a joke. She was almost overwhelmed by emotions. The Queen in her, however, kicked in and she managed to get her act together quickly.

 

She turned to Camillus. "You sneaky bastard", she said in a very loving voice while her eyes twinkled. "You have deceived the Ard-Ri of Yr Ymerodreath Ynysoedd yr Haul. That constitutes the offense of Lèse Majesté. I have othchoice then to punish you'." Lady Aoife then pulled Camillus towards her, wrapped her arms around him and kissed him tenderly. *

 

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* Lady Astrid watches the happy couple kiss each other. *

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