Down to Business

As those present in the room began to get restless, Flora glided across the room returning to Gerard's side. She turned pointedly and drew the attention of those assembled with a polite smile and a gentle clearing of her throat. Her golden blond bangs bobbed ever so slightly as she inclined her head to the assembled company.

"Thank you all for attending." She began, beginning with the formalities and protocol, which inevitably delayed the start of the meeting even further. "With permission from the Crown…" she inclined her head in Random's direction; Random rolled his eyes but nodded and waved his hand casually for her to continue. "…we have asked you to attend to discuss the events from last night's Ball." The use of the royal 'we' was not lost on anyone, it clearly implied Flora and Gerard.

"As you may or may not know…" Flora continued stretching out the tension even further, especially for those who already were aware of the events of the previous night. "…Lord Merlin, King of Chaos…" Flora droned on, listing a considerable number of Merlin's titles.

There was a flash of movement from the far side of the room.

"By the Unicorn! Flora. Spit it out." Growled Julian slamming his glass down on to the counter nearby, "You have your audience, we are all here, don't waste our time anymore!" he glared at Flora and Gerard.

Carmen looked like she might just applaud the Warder's actions. Instead she just smirked into her juice.

Hadrian covered a smile and nod in agreement with his father's words behind a sip of his coffee.

There was a moment of silence, Flora cast a baleful look at Julian, a look that would have been worthy of Princess Fiona in one of her more 'prickly' moods. Gerard, standing silently at Flora's side looked grim, though he did not return Julian's stare. Flora took a moment to compose her self, dabbing the corner of her mouth with a handkerchief.

"Lord Merlin died in Amber last night, the cause of his death cannot be determined." Flora continued. "He did not die from natural causes however, as far as I can ascertain, and the manner in which he died raises some questions as to the source of power of an outside agent…"

"Suffice to say…" Gerard's booming baritone cut across Flora's own; this resulted in a sharp look from Flora. "It was no Pattern user that attacked Merlin." Gerard looked pointedly at Selene…but before anyone had a chance to react, Flora chimed in.

"That is pure conjecture at the moment, and not a conclusion that I share." Julian and Connor seemed about to react, but at Flora's words remained still.

"It is clear we have an outside agent, who conspired to bring about the demise of Lord Merlin." Flora continued. "Where his, her or 'its' power comes from has not been ascertained. Therefore we need to to find the culprit and bring them to justice before the situation has further consequences."

"You obviously have a plan Flora." Julian replied. "Please share" there was the merest hint of sarcasm in his voice.

Hadrian nodded again, in agreement with the words of his father.

"First we need to send a deputation to the Courts, to show good faith, assure them that we are working hard to discover the truth to this matter." Flora replied, ignoring Julian's prickly comment.

"You should invite them to participate in the investigation Flora." Random warned , his voice was unmistakable, he had remained silent through Flora's speech, and the exchange between Gearad and Julian. Random's voice had an air of authority to it, the jovial nature he had shown to his offspring earlier had vanished.

"You should ask Selene here if she is willing to represent her homeland and act as liasion to the Courts and Amber." Random continued, offering a surprising gesture of a wink at Selene.

"Indeed." Flora replied looking decidedly unhappy at Random's interjection. "I have also liased with Gerard and asked if he will oversee Amber's security both on land and at sea. If we have agents running around Amber, we need to seek them out. Security will need to be tightened both in Amber City and here in the castle. He will need some assistance I am sure."

"Julian, Arden will, as ever be under your jurisdiction, but I would ask that you double the patrols." Flora continued. "We need to…"

"ENOUGH!" there was a loud voice from the back of the room. There was a gasp from Llewella and she took a step back.

"Connor…no!" she shouted. Connor, twisted his arms, and muttered under his breath – everyone present felt the cold crackle of electricity and lightning.

"I will not listen to this any longer! I will not stand idly by while you set up an inquiry and assign posts of duty! I will find this murdering bastard myself! I am ruled by no man." Connor clapped his hand spoke a final word and vanished, leaving behind an acrid sulphur smell and a slightly charred spot on the wooden floor, where he had been standing.

"Yes, because obviously one man in the throes of grief can do a much better job than the entire Royal Family of Amber at finding who was responsible," muttered Hadrian sarcastically, shaking his head as he looked disapprovingly at the point where Connor's little bit of drama-queenery took place. "Rather than simply becoming their next victim."

After staring at the spot a moment, Carmen started putting her things away. "So… are we done here? Because, I have to tell you; I am completely unqualified for these 'post assignments you've listed off."

Selene managed no reaction whatsoever to being discussed by Flora and Random or being glowered at by Gerard. Just. Her hard-won composure was rattled by Connor's outburst and stinking departure. Waving a white hand before her face to dispel the fumes, and give herself a moment to catch her breath mentally, she stepped away from the burnt floorboards. While this left her a bit more toward the center of the room than one would like, it couldn't be helped. Lowering her hand, she managed a nod in Random's direction and pasted a brittle smile on her lips, "If I can be of service to the crown, then I will apply myself in whatever fashion you require."

Lotus remained impassively stoic during the explanations, listening with an air of polite interest despite the yelling and people talking over each other. Only Connor's outburst and sudden disappearance caused a reaction. She started and automatically moved into a defensive stance until she realised that the room was not actually under attack.

As she relaxed again, she frowned slightly at Carmen's blase reaction before composing her features and waiting to be told if she has any 'post of duty'.

Kaylee nudged Jack slightly and glanced up at him; the look they exchanged was one of those speaking glances that clearly meant a great deal twin-to-twin, but were fairly inscrutable to the rest of the universe. Then she set her glass down and straightened in her seat, looking expectantly at Random. "So, where - "

Jack nodded slightly at Kaylee, and finished, "— do you want us?" He met Kay's eyes again for a moment, and adds, "I might be able to help around the crime scene, if it can be called that."

Selene's attention was caught by the twins as they spoke to Random, perhaps wondering if they will be given access to the body.

"I could be persuaded to join the delegation to Chaos," said Hadrian consideringly. "Assuming we had some assurances as to our safety there. I have no desire to become a hostage, or the victim of some tit-for-tat killing. It would be interesting to see the place from the inside this time."

Selene turned slightly to face Julian's son and quirked a sooty brow at his statement. "I could make no such assurances on anyones behalf. But perhaps your father has some pull within the Courts….?" Her tone too polite, she looked at the pair.

Hadrian looked quizzically at his father in response to this. "I was imaging perhaps assurances from whoever is now in charge in Chaos rather than anything

With Julian looking so taciturn, Selene replied, "With the death of a Chaosian Prince within Amber, it is quite beyond my scope of reason to imagine an such iron-clad assurances will be in the making. But let that not dissuade you, surely with the blood in your veins you are more than a match for what might occur." This even-handed remark was delivered with just a touch of the acidic in its tone. Clearly, Selene was not made happy by the position so lately thrust upon her in such a public setting.

"Oh, indeed so," nodded Hadrian, deadpan. "And I had imagined something of the kind might be the case in any case. But if one must thrust ones head into the mouth of the lion, I do always like to know that the lion is actually present…"

"One question," continued Hadrian, raising his voice to carry to the room at large, but in
particular focusing his attention on Flora and the King. "What is the worst possible
outcome of all of this? For example, could we find ourselves back at war with Chaos?"

Random cleared his throat, waving his hand nonchalantly.

"Maybe I can address these concerns somewhat." he said quietly, looking expectantly at Flora, it was clear he was not asking for Flora's permission, but exercising his position.

"To deal with them in reverse order…" Random continued, "…and I would like to thank Flora and Gerard for acting for the Realm is such a speedy manner." Random's tone implied that he was genuine, and wished to bring the group together as a whole rather than have one party point the finger.

"The worst case is the collapse of the Patternfall treaty and a return to war. As you have rightly pointed out Hadrian." Random continued turning to look at Julian's son, " But expediency in this matter will no doubt prevent this - what we don't want is a return to the old ways of action and retaliation. Neither side wants war, but some parties desire peace less!"

"If Selene will agree to act as liaison between here and the Courts?" he continued seeking agreement from Selene, he paused…

…"…then perhaps you would work with Flora by overseeing the investigation?" Random turned his words to focus on Selene.

Raising her head, Selene's composure had returned. Turning to look at Flora, so near the scowling hulk of Gerard, she said, "I am, of course, at my Lady's service." About to say more… she snapped her lips shut in the face of her other uncle's obvious dislike and disapproval. She gave him a bitter smile and walked a few steps more to sit at the edge of a chair as Random barked at his children.

"You two!" Random said, raising his voice slightly, an air of fatherly instruction coming through clear. "…could make yourselves useful to Flora in looking at the crime scene and perhaps assisting with some investigation around Lord Merlin himself." he said to Jack and Kaylee. "I believe you are more than qualified in this department." he added.

"Lotus I would ask that you assist Gerard in the bolstering of security here in Amber, and perhaps Garrick, would you assist also?" he asked, looking at both as he spoke.

Lotus snapped a crisp, sharp bow in response to Random's request. "As your majesty commands" she replied. "I am at Amber's disposal."

"Hadrian, your offer of assistance to the delegation sent to Chaos is appreciated." Random said politely. "I hope that Selene can make an introduction for us, as I believe with a matter this serious, I should make a personal gesture…"

Before anyone could protest Random continued.

"…and Carmen." he said, turning to face her, "…you are MORE than qualified to bring back Connor before he does anything…shall we say…rash

"I am?" She gave him a completely bewildered look. "I'm not seeing it. We barely know each other. Unless you expect me to knock him over the head with a rock when he turns his back."

"Its exactly 'because' you hardly know each other, that makes you perfect for the job!" Random reasoned. "…and yes! A rock over the head would probably do the job. He would spot anyone else before they even got close. Besides, Vialle may have something upstairs that might help." and he winked conspiratorially at Carmen.

Carmen didn't even bother trying to hide her dubiousness of this plan. "If you say so, Sticks." Then she shrugged and flashed him a smile. "I'll try anything once." Carmen very deliberately looked at Gerard and winked before turning and busying herself with pouring another glass of juice. With any luck, they would be dismissed shortly and could get on with things.

Gerard took Carmen's wink impassively, the only response or movement he made was a raised eyebrow.

"What sort of 'personal gesture' did you have in mind, your … Random?" asked Hadrian. "I might hope not one that puts you in the way of some Chaosite vengeance."

Selene betrayed little outward reaction when Hadrian spoke of Chaosite vengeance, her cool demeanor grew a few degrees icier. She waited on the King's answer before offering comment. Turning to a carafe, she poured herself a glass of water.

"I do have a meeting in mind Hadrian." Random responded, "…but don't worry we can take along a handful of Royal Guard just for fun!" he added cheerily dismissing Hadrian's concerns. Random glanced over to reassure Selene with a smile. "Besides I think we will be quite safe." he added looking at Selene.

"If you say so," replied Hadrian expressionlessly, looking extraordinarily unconvinced by the king's words.

Selene met the kings eye over the rim of her water goblet. When she lowered it she offered him a small smile and nodded in deference, "As you say, Your Majesty. Even if someone is seeking a pound of flesh I much doubt they plan to carve it from your person." She teased as the air seemed suddenly lighter in the room. "When do we leave?"

Jack nodded at Random, "Alright, Your Dadness. I'll be Sherlock, Kay can be Watson. We'll track down the Moriarty if we can." He glanced to Flora, "How soon can we start? And how contaminated is the scene?" He smiled as he turned to Carmen, "I'm sure you'll do fine, Darlin'. Kay and I are a call away, and I know you can be persuasive." He sipped some of his juice.

"When's this carnival start then? We all have our marching orders, and I should probably get dressed."

"Hey, how come I'm the sidekick?" Kaylee objected. "We should probably both get dressed. Wouldn't want to offend Auntie F's sensibilities any further." She smiled brightly in Flora's direction.

Lotus moved to stand closer to Garrick, giving him a small smile and a nod as she did so. She waited for any further instructions or for the meeting to be dismissed.

Random finally looked over to Flora and Gerard and inclined his head a little. Flora nodded though her face looked grim.

"Well…" she said, more than a little irritation showing in her voice; clearly she had not got all she had wanted from the meeting, but had had to bow to Random's seniority.
"…I suppose we should get started. I assume you all know your part you have to play in this?…then we might as well be about it."

Flora turned on her heel and left the room with a flounce. Gerard trailed after her without a word.

Carmen watched the pair exit and turned to Jack and tsked. "Whipped. Who knew?"

She stood, gathered her satchel and held out her hand to Random for her sketchbook. "You said Vialle was upstairs?"

"We should find out what Gerard requires of us" Lotus said to Garrick. Giving a short bow to Random, Lotus went to follow Flora and Gerard out of the room.

Jack chuckled and then finished his orange juice. He watch Flora flounce out of the room, and then leaned over to give Carmen a peck on the cheek. "We'd best get going, and get this business settled so we can move on to our usual sort of day." He smiled and got to his feet, "You call us if you need anything, and tell Momma Vee we said 'Hi'."

He turned to Kay, and nudged her to get her moving, "And Watson wasn't a sidekick, he was an integral part of the Holmes machine. He carried the gun." Jack turned to Selene, "Be careful out there, take your chimes, if you still have them. May as well have something at least a little pleasant in this midst of all this." He nodded to the others, waved at Lotus, and then departed after Gerard and Flora.

Selene thaws a bit at Jack's comment. "True." She smiles at him as he makes his leave, "But are you sure it's rather more like belling the cat?" Nodding to Kay, Selene turns her attention to the King again.

"'Carrying the gun' doesn't make him any less of a sidekick, bro," Kaylee answered as she trailed after Jack. Almost as an afterthought, she waved at the rest of the room on her way out the door.

Quietly, Carmen took her leave and sashayed out of the dining room to head for the Royal Wing.

TOCHer Serene Majesty

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