Bold Requests

The eternally bright ball of a sun hovers in the sky over Amber as Queen Morgana and the young representative from Chanicut find their places on a balcony overlooking a tiny courtyard. The tinkling sounds of a fountain rise up from below, and the ocean breeze is blunted on this side of the castle. The table is set for tea, with saucers and cups and light treats waiting on the sideboard, two young maids standing by ready to serve.

Kendall, as always impeccable in the green of his House, settles himself into his chair after seating the Queen. He had been in Amber some little while now, and had adjusted somewhat to the different flow of time, word, and mood there, though perhaps still lacking understanding about the curious structure of Amber's hierarchy.

The servants scurry about setting tea and cakes in front of the two, with the usual rattle and clink of china. After all is done, they withdraw again to the side, leaving the two at the table within a fragile bubble of privacy.

Morgana took a sip and set the cup down, that calm queenly smile in place. "Now my dear Ambassador, tell me what brings us together?"

Kendall takes a careful sip of tea as the Queen does and then nods to her question as he sets his teacup back in its saucer. "I have… a request," he answers her. "Tis in regards to a topic that may be somewhat delicate, and I am uncertain to whom to speak of it. In Chanicut, of course, we have a clear understanding about the ways of doing certain things, so I apologize in advance if I speak inappropriately."

An enigmatic smile plays over her lips briefly. "What is your request? If I understand the nature of it, I can guide you better, Lord Kendall."

He pauses, taking a breath and letting it out. "Would it be possible for me to arrange an audience with the Unicorn?" he asks.

The calm and queenly smile disappears into wide-eyed surprise. She opens and closes her mouth. "It is not really available. What purpose would it serve?"

Kendall turns his attention to the cake on his plate. "I have been in Amber for some little while," he replies as he picks up his fork and cuts off the corner. "One thing I have learned somewhat about is the importance of the Unicorn to the formation of this place." He looks back up at Morgana. "I believe it would be an experience of great interest for me to meet this Being, if possible, to help me gain greater understanding of Amber and her people."

Morgana raises an eyebrow. "Lord Kendall, you are asking to speak to a Being that precious few have ever seen and even fewer have met. Some consider her a Goddess. While I respect your desire to fully understand us, I do not see how meeting Her would bring you more understanding of Amber. So few people have contact with her, you would be exposing yourself to a very small facet of us, no matter how wondrous and mysterious."

"I apologize, Majesty," Kendall says. "My response implied… less than what I intended." He thinks on Morgana's response, frowning in thought. "When I speak of understanding Amber, I believe the word I seek is not translating well. If it would please you, Majesty, bear with me while I attempt to give greater depth to my explanation?"

She inclines her head. "Continue then, milord."

He sips his tea again, thinking how to expand on this. When he replies, he speaks slowly as he feels his way with care through the explanation. "There is a… sense of a place that is difficult to define, or perceive. At the very heart of a space is its own sense of self, and that… core… defines the space, which in turn… influences and grounds the people within. As an example, Chanicutways — my home — can only be truly… grasped by way of delving to the deepest core of itself. That core might change, but it is always there." He pauses again, still staring into his tea, and frowns in frustration.

"Why do you feel that the Unicorn defines this?" She gestures around.

Kendall looks up, startled at the question. His frown turns puzzled. "Is the Unicorn not your patron, which blessed Amber and brought your House to power?"

"It depends on what mythology you believe. I believe she exists, but there is more to the making of this place than Her alone. I do not think she the Maker of the Pattern."

"I said nothing of her making the Pattern," Kendall clarifies. "Nor did I say she alone created Amber. I merely suggest that she blessed Amber and confirmed the power of your House."

"Maybe she did but why is that the crucial definition of us?"

He pauses, thinking carefully about his answer. "I apologize, Majesty, for not making myself clear. I do not believe the Unicorn is a crucial definition. I believe I said earlier I wished to have a greater understanding of this place. The place also helps ground and define the people, so in that sense, the two are connected. Ultimately, however, I spoke of the place. The realm of Amber."

"Then I do not think she's important to speak to, Lord Kendall. Ultimately, you can't," she says and nearly shrugs.

Kendall sips his tea. "Majesty, I have no illusions about the possibility of meeting the Unicorn. Ultimately, it would be her decision to see me, if she would permit such a thing. My purpose here is to find out how I should proceed with making my desire to meet her known."

"You have made your desire known and I have given you answer," she replies with equal calm.

"May I ask why?" he asks, still puzzled.

"You may but I will not answer." She seems to almost regret that she can't. "It is nothing personal, Lord Kendall. I would say no to my children."

Kendall ponders that, toying unconsciously with his fork. "Is your decision a royal decree, Majesty, or is it simply that you do not wish to assist me?" he asks.

She inhales for a long moment and looks at him measuringly. "I would not presume to interfere with the meeting of the Unicorn with anyone, Lord Kendall. You may find some…luck with Prince Julian. I would start there."

"And you may want to take Margot with you, if she is free," she adds, lifting her cup and sipping it.

He quirks an eyebrow. "Thank you, Majesty, for your kind assistance. I would be pleased to escort your daughter to meet Prince Julian," he says.

"Thank you. I advise that Arden is not without danger so I can not guarantee when such a meeting will take place."

"I understand that you must make every effort to ensure the Princess's safety," Kendall agrees. "If such a meeting could be arranged, I would be pleased to accept there will be restrictions. Shall I work with your secretary to see to the arrangements?"

"Yes, please do," she queen says, seeming very pleased with something.

He nods, sipping his tea, watching her face. "If I may ask, Majesty," he says, setting his cup down again. "Is there something in particular that has pleased you? Not that this is unfortunate, as you appeared quite displeased previously, and I would not wish to be the cause of your distress."

"I was concerned before," Morgana explains. "Now I am…optimistic," she says enigmatically.

"Concerned because your daughter appears to have an interest in me?" Kendall asks her.

The queen blinks and then laughs, a happy twinkle of sounds. "Oh, I was never concerned about that, Lord Kendall. That makes me smile. It makes me optimistic."

"Very good," he replies. "Then, since we are on the topic already, may I make a second request?"

"By all means," she says.

"Princess Margot told me when we met of the upcoming ball in honor of her arrival in Amber, held to recognize her place in the House. I know not how such things are done in Amber, but if the Princess should desire it, may I be her escort?" he asks.

A brief pause and for a moment her smile becomes wider. "I grant you leave to do so, Lord Kendall," she says and then sips her tea again.

"Thank you once more, Majesty," Kendall says, his deep nod almost a bow in his chair. "Your generosity is unmatched. Have you anything you wish to ask of me? As I am becoming ever more deeply indebted to you."

"No, Lord Kendall. I am sure you know the treasures I put before you."

He is silent for a moment, considering her words with a thoughtful expression. "I do," he finally says.

He finishes his tea, setting down the saucer and cup before speaking once more. "Majesty," he begins, again choosing his words with care. "I am not privy to the negotiations between Ambassador Brisbane and King Eric. Would you mind sharing with me what purpose you see in hosting representatives of House Chanicut here in Amber?"

Morgana frowns. "I think its important for us to have a greater understanding of Thelbane and her people. House Chanicut is an admiral place to start."

Kendall nods. "Understanding is a lofty goal," he agrees. "Do you feel as though this goal is being achieved?"

"I believe we are making positive ground."

"That is well," he replies. "Tis my hope that I have been helpful in this regard."

"Most asssuredly you have been," the queen agrees with a smile.

"You are very kind," he says with a faint smile. "I have wondered, however, if… you had considered anything beyond understanding. As I recall from our first conversation when I arrived in Amber, your desire then was to avoid another confrontation between Amber and the Houses of Chaos. Please do not misunderstand my meaning. Understanding is one step in the journey, but often more concrete steps are needed."

"What would you suggest, Lord Kendall?" she asks politely.

"I would certainly not presume to make suggestions to you, Majesty," Kendall replies. "I had wondered, however, if you had considered the possibility of an alliance between Amber and one or more of the Houses."

"I try to consider everything, sir. Continue," she invites with a gesture of her hand.

"I of course would offer forward my own House for your consideration," he says, speaking with more confidence now the first large step has been taken and the conversation begun.

"We are large and powerful, and have much inside information about the other Houses and Chaos that could be useful to Amber. And I would put myself forward as a candidate to seal the alliance, through bonding or your Amber marriage if that would be more agreeable to you," Kendall asserts.

She doesn't miss a beat. "In Amber, it would be a marriage. Are you a suitable candidate within your own house?"

"I am," Kendall replies without hesitation. "I am not the Heir, so my future is more flexible, yet I am a son of the Duke, with status and rank greater than or equal to anyone here in Amber save yourself and the King. Also, I am not bonded, so am available for the sort of exclusive relationship that I understand marriage to be."

"Who told you that you have status and rank greater or equal to all else but Us?" she asks, curious.

"Amber being at one time a House of Chaos," he says, as though that explains it.

"But we are not now. We do not consider ourselves that, Lord Kendall. I urge caution as to who you would say such things to. I know you very diplomatic but I am telling you nonetheless. I don't think the prince and princesses of our kingdom would agree with your assessment."

He nods. "You are, of course, correct," he says.

She smiles. "That said, I think you have the rank necessary. Did you have women in mind?"

Kendall makes a gesture with one hand, palm up, as though holding something and weighing it by feel. "I leave that for you to consider, Majesty," he says. "I realize this conversation was not anticipated, and you would take many things into account should negotiations commence."

His voice turns faintly ironic, though it would seem to be directed towards himself. "I have it on reasonable authority the expectation is that I would make a good father and a fair bondmate." He folds his hand in his lap.

Morgana's smile improves to a grin coupled with a chuckle. "High marks to be sure, but to insure such a thing, its always good to know who you think you'd be well suited with. Come, come, you've someone in mind, surely."

He is silent for some heartbeats with his thoughtful gaze on Morgana, considering his answer carefully. "I must admit to some interest in your daughter, the Princess Margot," he finally admits.

The Queen doesn't bat an eye or betray any feelings on that admission. "I've heard the two of you have gotten on well. She is young though. Does that suit you?"

"She is quite charming and delightful," Kendall says, and now he smiles faintly again. "She has also some knowledge and understanding of duty. Tis my belief that she and I could come to a reasonable accord. And age is of no account for those like us for whom time is variable."

"Time is, youth isn't. A poorly made foundation never holds a house well," she reasons back.

"Then the question is for you, Majesty," he replies. "Is the Princess too young?"

"She is too young for something that will have no love, respect, and patience."

"I see. Then I shall endeavor to display those qualities," Kendall says. "Though… love is a… curious thing to discuss in terms of a union of alliance. Do you mean love for the other, or capacity to love?"

"I would not expect a love match in such a union," the queen says. "I think the room for, the capacity is what matters."

He nods as though some confusion had been eased. "There are likely no words I may speak here with you that would convince you of my capacity in this regard," he says. "All of these qualities are displayed in actions, not words."

She inclines her fiery head. "That is so, sir. Your displays thus far have not done anything to diminish the possibility."

"You are too kind," he says, bowing in his chair in acknowledgement of her compliment. "Then I will accept your suggestion to escort your daughter to the Forest Arden as permission to continue in my association with her? And then we shall see what sort of accord the two of us might make."

"We give you such leave, Lord Kendall of House Chanicut," Morgana says with a formal air.

"Thank you for being so gracious, your Majesty," Kendall says. "I am continually made grateful for your kind generosity."

"We enjoy your company, milord," she says.

"And I, yours," he replies with his faint smile. He pauses before continuing. "I realize you have many duties and concerns, and I do not wish to overtax your valuable time. I appreciate your consideration on my behalf, and will take my leave if you have nothing further."

Morgana smiles. "Yes, I do have another meeting I need to prepare for. Thank you for your insights, Lord Kendall." She inclines her head to him and gestures towards the doorway.

Kendall stands and bows. "Fair day, Majesty," he wishes her, and departs with a swish of his robe.

Return to the list of Kendall's threads.
An Exchange of Letters

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