Alasdair Enters Politics
Alasdair sat at the table, his mug half-empty, his mind racing. Across from his sat both Geoff Tanessen – his face unreadable, his body language both stern and regal. He only nodded at Alasdair for a moment. To Geoff’s right sat Alasdair’s father-in-law, Alphonse. The older man spoke to Alasdair softly and genially. “Alasdair…think about what I am saying. I understand that you are not a politician, but Lord Tanessen wants you to assist the family. Corthos will not listen to us, he will not see reason. He seeks only personal gain and does not care about who he throws away in the meantime. But, by putting you into the same world as him, there is a chance that you can get him to see and listen. Look at his actions…everything he has done betrays the ideals that Barzillai has championed so well. He wants to bring ruin and sedition with no respect.” Alasdair sighed deeply, drinking again. He had nothing personally against Corthos – yes, the man was not the type of person that he really wanted to associate with, but Gwen spoke so highly of him that he had always tried. For her sake, he had tried so hard. And since Corthos had revealed himself, Alasdair had seen the change in Guinevere – she spent the first several nights after her meeting with Geoff and Alphonse crying in the main bedroom as she drafted copy after copy of the letter they had sent throughout the town. He had never been a man who felt helpless in his life, but he had ached at the fact that he could not fix the damage that had been done.
He had seen the quiet hurt in her eyes whenever the topic had been brought up, the clear sting of betrayal that she had felt. And he had reached out to Alphonse, asking for any way that he could help. Across from him, Alphonse cleared his throat and continued. “Look at what the man has done to his own family, and he seeks to tear the city apart in the same way. But there is still a chance to talk him out of this foolishness – I have no desire to see my only son die in a misguided war, nor do I want to see him known as a traitor. He is, to the end, a boy of his family’s blood – stubborn to the last breath. And he refuses to speak with any of us. To that end, he has even gone so far as to begin working for Belcara Jarvis as a delegate for her House in the Court.” Alphonse looked at Alasdair solemnly as Geoff spoke. “You are not a trained politician, but you have ambitions. And where you have ambition, we have people to train you. You will be taught public speaking, law, debate, negotiation…” Alphonse spoke in again. “Not just by House Tanessen either. House Delronge has offered tutors, and your cousin has plenty of people on his staff that can assist you as well. This could be a chance for you, Alasdair…you could become someone with more sway and pull in Kintargo. Barzillai himself would seek out your assistance.” Alasdair finished his ale and scratched his chin, deep in thought.
After several long moments, he spoke. “I will join House Tanessen as a delegate, if for nothing else than to talk to Corthos. Perhaps if I simply let him see the effect that his actions have had on Guinevere, he will listen – or at least tone them down. He is angry and lashing out, and I can try to calm him and make him see rationally.” Alphonse smiled, glancing back at Geoff before speaking. “Certainly, certainly. He values his relationship with Guinevere more than anything – certainly more than our own relationship. Perhaps you can convince him to see reason, for her sake. How is she handling all of this?” Alasdair glanced down, taking a long breath before responding. “She…she is not well, m’Lord. She cries too often, sleeps too little, and worries too much. I catch her sometimes, walking the halls when she thinks I am asleep, and I hear her lamenting. Were it any other man, I would have them struck down for what they have done to her. But her brother is a different case, and because he means so much to her, I only want to find a peaceful solution. I trust that I can utilize you as a political advisor, Alphonse?” The older man clapped Alasdair on the shoulder. “Certainly, my boy.” Alphonse and Geoff stood, leaving Alasdair at the table. One the way back to the carriage, Geoff spoke quietly. “Send a notice to Melodia. Remind her that the Tanessen family always remembers when they aided another, and that we look forward to our partnership in the Courts.” Alphonse nodded as they left.
Alasdair sat in the room alone for a long while, thinking. He could not help but think of Guinevere, filling his thoughts as she had so often in recent months. Perhaps it had started only as convenience, but he had found himself entranced by her. It was only out of her kind words and love for her brother that Alasdair had put forth the efforts that he had, and he had tried multiple times to interact pleasantly with Corthos. He had endured insults and jabs, letting them pass with the simple smile of a man who played ignorant. But now…now they would be equals. And as equals, perhaps he could make the man see reason – if not for himself, then for Guinevere. That was the one common bond that they shared on this planet – they would both be willing to do anything to insure that she was safe and protected. He took out a small booklet that Alphonse had given him and began to study. While Corthos had been raised here, Alasdair had not – he would have to devote himself to learning. “Section one, the requirements of a Kintargan trade agreement.” He lifted his empty cup, frowned at it, and then went back to reading. It was an hour and a half before he felt the softness of Gwen’s hand rest on his shoulder as she spoke. “Father told me you volunteered to be a delegate. I have to say, I was surprised. Political scheming has never seemed in your nature.” He turned his head to smile up at her, getting a soft smile back.
“You’ve always said that I should apply myself, that nothing would come of just sitting and waiting for Barzillai to notice me. You’re the one that told me I had the mind to do anything I tried, and that I just needed to find something I wanted to do in this city.” Gwen laughed airily as he continued. “This is because of you. I just never really saw a reason to try before.” She looked down at him sweetly for a long moment before her hand raised, brushing his hair back. “Well, be careful. The political game here is merciless. I hope they put in good tutors for you.” She leaned down, kissing his forehead lightly as he turned back to his book. “Alasdair?” He glanced back up. “Don’t be up too late. And…I’m proud of you for trying this. I always said you were a clever man.” Her footsteps could be heard crossing to the stairs as he looked back down, reading aloud. “Chapter two. A lesson in the trade-flow theorem.”