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Chapter 1: New appointments "I believe now is the time - the diplomatic landscape is moving rapidly" Fletcher remarked with a firm nod. "But are we certain Montoya is up for the task?" "I can hardly say, sir. All I got was this hastily scribbled note, and though I am flush with joy of my friends resurfacing in good heath, I know nothing of Montoya's state of mind." Cooke answered. "I see. Perhaps it would be wise not to burden him too much, although his experience would come in handy..." Fletcher pondered for a moment. "There is the young mr. Barlow..." Cooke interjected. "Ah, indeed! I shall appoint him Junior Attaché and put him in charge of getting the expedition formed. I believe I will soon have some ships made available too!" "The Amiable is launched and outfitted, and ready for service." Fletcher nodded. "Ah, and here we have mr. Farley" who was waving at them. "I trust we are not running late?" "Not at all, sirs" the seemingly always confused young gentleman said and bit them into his mansion.
NB: Many pictures and long post Invitations had been sent out liberally, but Cooke had far from anticipated the amount of interest a ball, the first of its kind in Terra Nova, would garner. People from Eslandola, Oleon, and Corrington, as well as a number of Sea Rats, had flocked to King's Harbour the last few weeks to participate in the festivities and now the night had finally come. Everyone was gathered in the great hall of the new government palace (in the only wing anything close to finished) and the clock struck the hour, marking the beginning of the event. Cooke called the crowds to attention from the library balcony with a young smiling man at his side. "Welcome, Ladies and Gentlemen, to the first great ball of Terra Nova. It pleases me to see so many faces, new and familiar, and trust we shall have a... well... ball!" The crowd laughed merrily. Cooke wasn't exactly known for his humour and wit, but he had his moments. "Allow me to present to you all sir Michael Farley, the new Colonial Administrator for the Southern Isles. He will henceforth take over civilian administration of King's Harbour and acts as my second in all civilian matters. I trust you will welcome him - tonight is as much his party as it is mine." Cooke stepped back, and Farley held a short, somewhat nervous, but good-hearted speech, before retreating with a sweaty brow and a sigh of relief, calling out: "Let the festivities commence!" The orchestra started playing and the crowd dispersed, many the quadrilles of the lanciers. The dancing took up most of the floor, although some found room for conversation and a glass of sparkling wine. Rear-admiral Fletcher and Constable de Tourment found common ground, figuring they might have fought against each other on more than one occasion, sharing war memories and some recent events. @blackdeathgr Nearby, Mordo of the WTC, Richard Brickford, and Uncle was discussing trade companies, mr. Brickford listening attentively to his more experienced fellows... @Kai NRG, @Drunknok, @LM71Blackbird ...while Micah of Wolfhaven is discussing Montoya's disappearance with Ibn al'Sayeed, as well as strategies for the ETTC. @SilentWolf Sir Aidan Coyle and Cooke himself, both colonial governors to Her Majesty, took the chance to catch up on the military and political situation of the pirate-ridden Brick Seas. @Mike S On the balcony, Willem Guilder, Admius Legistrad to Eslandola, discussed cooperation and trade with the mayor of Mooreton Bay, James Hume. @Capt Wolf, @Ayrlego For those with a taste for more quiet surroundings, the upstairs library and downstairs smoking room were popular. Captain Anthony Genaro was seen talking to Lieutenant Thierry LaGaufre of the Royal Musketeers, perhaps lobbying for access to his Majesty's ear for a command? Rumour had it Genaro had long been on half pay. Downstairs, Hadvice Goshawk and Sir Mowgli were deep in conversation, as Sir Mowgli told an engaging, touching, and almost unbelieveable story of his missing cat, a large black panther last seen on a raft in the middle of the ocean. @Professor Thaum, @Roadmonkeytj Amongst the books, Wilbur Epper II, Royal Conductor of Corrington, was discussing new and innovative means of transportation with Alberto de Pontelli of the Royal Society. Epper maintained the effectiveness and punctuality of the wagonways, while Alberto told of his recent invention of flight and its principles. @Drunknok, @Captain Braunsfeld It was a lovely afternoon, and many retired to the gardens for fresh air or a refreshment in the guest house placed there. The bar was serving the finest wines and rum, and fresh fruits ensured the well-being of the guests. Outside, in the gardens, many found peace for conversation. Sergeant Major DeLeau and Captain Cookie debated swordsman's techniques... @gedren_y, @Captain Braunsfeld ...while Frederick Spud and Colonel Brickinson had an enthusiastic discussion about the merits of apples versus potatoes. @Spud The Viking, @Captain Braunsfeld Young Lieutenant Lavendwood was taken quite aback as a heavy hand landed upon his shoulder, and no less so as he realised it was the hand of a rear-admiral, as near as a god as any man can be to a young naval officer. "Relax, young man." the god-like creature said in a deep, booming voice "I merely wish to express my satisfaction with your recent dispatches. Cooke has praised you no insignificant amount, and should you keep up your initiative, I have no doubt you will one day raise your flag. Corrington needs men like you and your colleagues." @Flavius Gratian Many passed by the gardens that evening, discussing matters of personal interest, including Jerome Monezterrel and Captain Tristan Rimbaud... @Legostone, @Keymonus ...Rodsh Derr and Major Romain.... @blackdeathgr, @Bart ...Brickinson and Thierry LaGaufre... @Captain Braunsfeld, @blackdeathgr ...and Elise and Kathy, who discussed the fine Olean wine and rum delivered by Elise herself. @KotZ, @Bart The new colonial administrator also took his chance to meet some of the important people of the Brick Seas, amongst these Lord Frederick Spud, head of clan Spud from the north-most corners of Corrington. @Spud The Viking "I am sorry my invitation should have taken you such by surprise, Captain Genaro." Cooke interjected upon hearing the story. "I had thought my name would have been familiar to you?" "You will forgive me, will you not? I fear I..." "Most certainly" Cooke said with a rare smile. "You helped me once in a time of need. A matter of secrecy - I sent you a few letters...? Genaro's face lit up in recollection, before looking over his should carefully. "Indeed - I remember now. Some matter of political delicacy... Are your situation still... troubled?" "Less so, less so, although you never know when politics are involved! You did me a great service, and I hope I shall one day be allowed to repay you. If not in kind, then in friendship." Genaro patted Cooke's shoulder jovially. "I have no doubt, my friend, I have no doubt." and they walked down the path, sharing stories of the sea in good humour. @Captain Genaro Back in the ballroom, people mingled happily, making new acquaintances or revelling in old. Captains Tristan Rimbaud, Miles Bowditch, and Rodsh Derr found a common interest in the myths of the Brick Seas.... While young Keenan Reid was in exquisite female company with Lady Villeneuve, and mademoiselle de Tourment. @TheCubbScout, @Capt Wolf, @blackdeathgr Nearby, Aidan Coyle and Jerome Monezterrell shared their concerns with the piratical activity stifling trade and communications, not to mention the safety of sailors in general. @Mike S, @Legostone Captain Whiffo was in high spirits, conversing with Lady Norrington. @Capt Wolf, @Garmadon Ibn al'Sayeed inquired industrial magnate Sir Dee, and Mordo of the WTC, for insights into the foundry business, in which both were heavily involved... ...while Captain Nathaniel Brickford was sharing romantic and military exploits with his naval colleagues, Lieutenants Lavendwood and Ferguson. @LM71Blackbird, @Flavius Gratian, @Asgon Agnes Mesabi and Uncle were in complete agreement that "back in the good old times", balls were larger, the spirits stronger, and the young people less noisy. @Mesabi, @Kai NRG "No news whatsoever, I fear." Cooke said with a furrowed brow. The Fontonajos looked concerned, Roman being an old friend of Montoya. "I certainly hope he will reappear. He always has." "Indeed." Cooke changed the subject. "While I wish not to reflect badly upon Guilder, for whom I have the utmost respect, there are many in Corrington, present company included, who were sad to see you retire as Admius Legistrad..." Pausing for a moment, he continued. "You are regarded a friend of Corrington, and you shall ever be welcome in my halls. Montoya have said only positive things of you and what you have achieved in terms of governance and city planning..." @Elostirion And so the party went on into the night, people discussing subjects large and small, in general enjoyment. Hopefully new friendships were made, and perhaps a trade deal or two struck? Only time will reveal what came of the great ball of King's Harbour! ___________________________________________________________________ This was a lot of fun building, writing and photographing, and I hope I have managed to include (almost) all, and that no characters have been grossly misrepresented. It was great fun collecting all these sig figs, and I hope to have a chance to use them all again some day. C&C welcome!