The theme music for this story series comes from the documentary series about the Romanovs.
Part I: Return of Vinandy
Main characters in this part:
Clara Sundara Waffel-Paine, ex-wife of Arkadius Frederik Gustavus des Vinandy
Elisabeth Asara des Vinandy, Princess of Austrasia
Arkadius and Clara: A Royal Love Story
Even before this story series was invented, the love story between Arkadius and Clara was described in: Arkadius and Clara: A Royal Love Story.
The continuation of the story after the divorce of Arkadius and Clara is as follows:
Chapter 1: A fairy tale castle of a princess
"Your Majesty, we have just been greeted by the Storish air traffic control, and Storish fighter jets will soon be accompanying us," the co-pilot told the Frankish Emperor. "Thank you," the Emperor replied, winking at his daughter. She giggles, because her father frowns when he looks at the cards on the table. Yes, his daughter is winning without having to let her win. Smiling with paternal pride, he looks at the girl, he doesn't mind losing from her. She may win, now that it is not bad that she would lose. Soon, if she is the Queen of Batavia, then she cannot lose, then she must win. Gain all the evil forces that would threaten her country.
The fighter jets arrived accompanied the Kaiserlicher Reichsadler Eins to the airport of Amorica. The receiving committee knew that the aircraft would soon land when the fighter jets flew low. When the emperor and his daughter descended from the flight of stairs, the Vinandy song was played by the brass corps of the Chevaliers d'Oriflamme Sacré. A flower bouquet is offered to the princess, while the many flags flutter in the wind.
In a convoy of white luxury cars, the imperial guests are driven to the Château Cour-de-forêt. Both were very impressed with the castle, because it was the first time for both of them to see the castle. When the emperor was taken by the hand of his daughter, he only looked at the waiting woman in the doorway of the castle. He couldn't believe his eyes, a beautiful woman. Her red blond accented hair was a beautiful frame of a pretty face. Two blue eyes look at him, after which the emperor recovered from his gaze. The girl on his hand pulled him towards the waiting woman. “Welkom in Gasconje. Welkom in het Château Cour-de-forêt” said the woman in flawless Batavian. The Court master took the floor: “Your majesty and your royal and imperial highness, this is Esther Fatima Gudrid Ayreon-Kalirion ibn al-Majeed bin Sathrati af Ettlingum Freyu, de Châtelaine du Château Cour-de-Forêt”. The emperor was not sure if he would shake her hand, but his daughter preceded him and handed her the hand, "Hello, I am Elisabeth with a lot of names and titles." Esther grinned and gave Elisabeth the hand, "Thou can just call me Esther". Elisabeth answered quickly: "Thou, that’s not necessary ".
The emperor laughed at the spontaneity of his daughter and shook Esther's hand. "Thank thou for receiving us." Esther said to Elisabeth: "Your father already talks so nicely." Elisabeth chuckles. "Indeed," said the emperor, "let's just tutor." "Sounds good to me," Esther replied. "What is that tuto ... eh," Elisabeth asked her father, "That is using ‘you’ instead of ‘thou’.” Esther invited the imperial guests to move on, "We must not stand here in the door all day." In the hall the imperial guests looked with astonishment at the high decorated space. In the centre of the hall is a statue of Arkadius I, king of Batavia, half surrounded by the stairs. The company walked down a long corridor, where there were portraits of various Vinandy’s on the walls. A table was set up in a beautiful high room. Esther invited guests to sit at the table. Arkadius actually wanted to see more of the castle first, Esther noticed, whereupon she said: "The castle is not running away, you must be hungry." Elisabeth had already sat down so that her father could no longer refuse.
After the meal with typical Gascon dishes, Elisabeth played on the rug in front of the fireplace. Her father still had to do some work, because reigning of three countries never stops. Esther asked Elisabeth if she could join. "Yes of course", the girl answered enthusiastically. When her father came back into room after a while, he saw Esther playing with Elisabeth. He smiled, but still had to interrupt the game. After all, it was bedtime for his daughter. Esther brought the imperial guests to the most beautiful bedroom in the castle. After all, it is Elisabeth who has been assigned the castle, which gives her the most beautiful bedroom. A large bed is ready and after Elisabeth is changed, her father read a story. Esther left the room, but continued to peek at the scene. Although he is the emperor, king and grand duke of three different countries, he still reads a story to his own daughter. After the story, Elisabeth asked: "Dad, would you like to get married again". Arkadius was surprised by the direct question from his daughter, but answered: “Ehmm, if there is a woman who would not only want to marry your father, but also want to be a mother to your brothers and you, then I would like marry that woman”. "Daddy," the girl sighed, "that's a long answer." Her father smiled: "You are right, I am not in the Lagerhuis or the Reichstag". Elisabeth started to smile again. "Who would you want as a mama," Arkadius asked. "Today I had a great time with Esther", the girl replied. Her father thought for a moment and said, "It's time, young lady." He pulled the blankets and kissed her. "Good night, Elisabeth." "Good night, Dad."
The emperor walked back to the room with the cozy fireplace. There Esther sat on one of the armchairs, she looked up from her book when Arkadius entered. He was still thinking about the conversation with his daughter and he was nervous. As he walked to the remaining armchair, he wanted to say something, but a lump in his throat produced an inimitable sound from his mouth. He coughed, and Esther asked, "Are you all right?" "Yes, it's ... it's what my daughter said," replied Arkadius. "Oh," Esther responded, "may I know what". Arkadius thought for a moment and said, "Well, anyway, she likes you very much." Esther did not ask any further, although she had not heard the conversation, this could not be everything. "May I offer you something to drink?" She asked instead. A tray with a wide variety of beers was presented. "Ah, you know what I like," said Arkadius. Esther admitted immediately: "Of course I did a study of my guests". Arkadius smiled and then he was even more surprised when a selection of cigars was presented to him. "You don't mind smoking," he asked. "No, but don't expect to go French kissing afterwards," Esther said spontaneously. Arkadius laughed. The atmosphere relaxed and the two had a frank conversation. It was already very late when the two each went to their own room. Arkadius lay awake in his bed, staring at the ceiling. His thoughts did not stand still: ‘Esther, the contender for the mother of my children’.
Chapter 2: What a feeling!
The Châtelaine du Château Cour-de-Forêt, the Storjarla Esther Fatima Gudrid Ayreon-Kalirion ibn al-Majeed bin Sathrati af Ettlingum Freyu, Imperial Chieftainess of Normandie, Earla of Anglia, lay abed in her opulent bedchamber in Château Cour-de-Forêt. Esther's flat and toned stomach was supercalifragilisticexpialidociously buzzing of excitement: Her Imperial and Royal Highness could hardly lay still! The tremendous fluttering in her tummy was caused by having been struck by the dart of love twice over earlier that day.
First there had been the dart of motherly love: a whoosh of golden light, gorgeous and delightfully disruptive. It hit Esther when she, for the first time in person, laid her eyes on Her Royal Highness the Princess Elisabeth of Austrasia, awaking the latent loving mother inside her as well as hooking Her Imperial and Royal Highness for good on motherhood. The Princess Elisabeth was spontaneous, smart and witty as well as wise way beyond her years. Her Royal Highness also possesses a tremendous charisma, being the bodily culmination of numerous awesome ancestors.
Supercalifragilisticexpialidociously shortly after the first dart of love came the second one for Esther: striking Her Imperial and Royal Highness right in the heart, igniting the love of a woman for a man. In a bright golden burst of magic it transformed the Frankish Emperor into Sir Arkadius des Vinandy, Esther's Knight in Shining Armour: hotter than dragonfire and so exuberantly handsome that he could compete with Thordynnar Galtivaris in the good looks department, which is not too surprising since the Frankish Emperor descends from that hunky Elf too.
Esther lay skyclad between the Valtian Silk sheets that cover her humongous bed, her gorgeous body raging with love. She writhed and squirmed, twisted and turned, adamantely trying to calm herself down. The Earla of Anglia was exuberantly pumped like she had never been before; filled from head to toe with energetic excitement, enthusiasm and other wonderful emotions. To her tremendous delight had Her Imperial and Royal Highness' reception and hosting of her most honoured guests, the Princess of Austrasia and the Frankish Emperor been a smashing success; that was something which was for a substantial part owed to the excellent information provided by the Corps de Renseignement of the Fleur de Lys-Longships Guard and for co-equal parts caused by her own meticulous preparation - which included masterclasses with the famed Storish golfer Johanna Johansdóttir of the House of Ostqvist, the Storish chess champion Carl Magnusson of the House of Asker and her great-great-grandmother High Queen Mother Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir of the Houses of Kaupsted and the Descendants of Freyja, who in her teens had gained renown around Reikistjarna for her prodigious virtuosic skill as a pianist - and the efforts of the Maison du Duc de Gascogne, the ducal household of the Duke of Gascony. Moreover, due to fate she today had contracted a seemingly permanent bout of of mommy fever as well as run into the man she wanted to tie the knot with.
A true family man he is, that Arkadius Frederik Gustavus des Vinandy, who in spite of the tremendous burden of governing three sovereign realms, still found time to lovingly attend to his children. Given the fact that he was of good Imperial stock it would be a piece of cake to obtain the permission of the Imperial Longships Throne for their nuptials. With Arkadius, Esther could also fulfill her inherent duty of passing on her ancient lineage - which includes mythical giants like Björka Hnossdóttir, Kaiser Raynor I of Shireroth, Tuuler Kalir, Harald Freyjugjöf the Generous Giver, Rashid Shahanshah of Babkha and Kaiseress Noor of Shireroth - as her parents, the late Kaiseress Noor of Shireroth, of Glorious and Beloved Memory, and King Noah of Elwynn, would have expected of her. Esther Fatima Gudrid Ayreon-Kalirion ibn al-Majeed bin Sathrati af Ettlingum Freyu des Vinandy... That name most certainly had a tremendous Imperial and Royal appeal to it!
The Divine Power moves in such mysterious ways: us puny mortals never know when or where zie shall set up anyone of us for love. Hnoss had encountered Thordynnar Galtivaris in the Godsgrove of the Temple of the Lady and the Fisherman in Valtia; her grandmother Esther Ayreon-Kalirion, the sixth Emira of Sathrati, also known as Esther the Elder, had met her grandfather, Hallbjörn Haraldsson, who later served as Kaiser Hjalmar of Shireroth, at an informal reception held at the Hall of Hundred Hearths of the Vanadísarhall during Emperor Nathaniel of the Natopians' Imperial Visit to the High Realm of Stormark; her aunt the Storjarla Fjǫrleif Llængjarla of Eidsivarike had run into the love of her life, the Lady Alys Geloyra of the Milkhouse, while looking for adventure in The Green; and it had taken years before her father, King Noah of Elwynn, had pierced the mental armour worn by her mother, the late Kaiseress Noor of Shireroth, finally realizing her attraction to him. Ah, what a couple they were!
Her Knight in Shining Armour, Arkadius Frederik Gustavus des Vinandy, actually descends from a great knight from the days of yore: Count Bertolf des Vinandy, also known the Bertolf the Brave, the founder of the House of Vinandy. He is widely regarded as one of the finest knights ever, who even could teach famed and legendary knights such as Kendra Harcourt and Pierre Bourgault de Dampierre a thing or two. To this very day Bertolf is a folk hero in northern Batavia, Gascony and Francia with him featuring in innumerable tales. He is remembered as a jolly bon vivant, strong and competent ruler, champion of justice, and perfect chivalric lord with a hearty goodfellow manner; males would like to be like him and many a nubile damsel dreams of him wearing her favour.
A stanza of an ancient Gascon folk song, which she had sung to the Princess Elisabeth while the two of them where playing on the rug in front of the fireplace, popped up in her mind:
There were the women of the village
Arkadius in many respects governed his domains in a manner similar to that of his forebear Count Bertolf des Vinandy: patriotic, just, inclusive, hopeful, aspirational and inspirational. During his various tenures and reigns as a statesman and monarch he displayed wisdom and extraordinary leadership, gaining acclaim both domestically and internationally. In a recent article the Gascon newspaper called the Quill and Arrow wrote that Arkadius had "a proven track record of strong leadership and he recognises the challenges one must confront. Time and time again this scion of the Des Vinandy dynasty has also shown himself to be empathic, understanding, knowledgeable, pragmatic and sensible."
The thought of standing before the wedding table with Arkadius wearing a certain red Babkhi gown with the traditional Shahzamini golden embroideries, the very same dress in which her grandmother, Esther the Elder, tied the knot with her grandfather, Hallbjörn Haraldsson, and which was also worn by her great-great-great-grandmother Tuuler Kalir at the inauguration of Rashid Arsalani's Grand Viziership, years before him being made both Shahanshah of Babkha and Kaiser of Shireroth brought a smile bright enough the light up the entire planet on Esther's face. A feeling of peace and contentment came over Her Imperial and Royal Highness and then she slipped into a pleasant deep sleep, sweetly dreaming about hiking with her future offspring, both by acceptance and of her own body, in the Forest of St Michael on the Gascon island which is known as the Isle St Jeanne: a litter of children the size of a small army.
Chapter 3: Love at shipwreck
Weeks after she expressed her desire to sail the seas of Micras just like before, the moment was there. Again she would go sailing, as in her younger days. Different routes have been considered. From the Beneluccas to the Jasonian archipelago, or from the Beneluccas to the Princess Fränzi-Ferdinanda Island, or even to continental Batavia. Ultimately, a sailing route was chosen from the Beneluccas to Jorvik.
The salty sea air, the swell of the boat on the waves, the wind full of sails, in short: the feeling of freedom and the struggle with the elements. She loves that. But the reality is that she hasn't made a real sailing trip for years. Her work has prevented that. First when she was queen, now as princess and governor of the Beneluccas, she is still very busy. Yet an opportunity has been created to make her dream come true. A sailing trip and taste of the salty wind.
Her brother and her distant cousin were not entirely comfortable with her plans, but she had already done some trial trips with her crew around the Beneluccas. The test runs were successful, where necessary improvements were made. The sailing boat "Queen of the seas" was prepared and the supplies were brought on board. The princess was busy on the deck with the final preparations. And then the moment was there. The gangplank was brought in, the bunches were released, the boat separated from the quay.
A few hours later, the mountains of the Beneluccas can only be seen as green-gray contours on the horizon. On the port side you can see the mountains of the northernmost island of the Skerry Isles. When the sailboat will pass the north cape of that island, a change in the current and wind is to be expected. The crew takes the necessary preparations and eats a little before the sea becomes more restless. The princess steers the boat more to the west, so that the current is, as it were, cut. Just as expected, the wind changes and the western sea current is noticeable after the north cape has passed. Still it was not too bad.
The sailboat sails northwest again and the sea gets restless in the O’Rear Strait. The narrow strait makes the current very strong, but the weather also deteriorates. The princess is concerned if it turns out that a storm is starting on arrival in the Street of Pearls. The incidence of darkness only makes it worse. A fierce storm plays with the sailboat as if it is nothing. The big waves hit the deck, the mate is still trying to steer, but the storm has made it impossible to keep course. Efforts are made to hold on to ropes. The princess sends out a distress signal, but a reaction on the radio does not occur. On deck she wants to help with the ropes, but she sees too late that the main sail's boom has come loose. The boom throws the princess into the sea. A wave hits the boat and it starts to capsize dangerously. For a moment the boat seemed to be more stubborn, but the next wave does the rest.
The princess was barely conscious by the blow and managed to cling to a piece of wood. With the rope on the wood, she ties herself to the driftwood. The storm continues unabated. Then she loses her consciousness. Her eyes are closed, the sound is silent and everything is turning. Then she hears a voice say her name. First far away, then increasingly louder. A warm blanket was wrapped around her while she still wore her wet clothes. She heard the sea, but nothing like that night. No storm noises, no big waves. But calm waves that compete on a beach, whoever comes the furthest. Then she hears that voice say her name again.
"Margaery, are you awake ?!", then her vision sharpens and she sees a male face. Two brown eyes looked questioningly at her. She started to smile and reassured the man. She wanted to get up, but then she felt pain coming in all kinds of places. "Who are you?" She asked stammering. "Where am I? How do you know my name?” “Calm down,” the man calmed her down. “My name is Noah. You are on the island of Narvik. We just fished you out of the sea. Apparently you have suffered a shipwreck.” “My crew, my ship! ”She exclaimed, standing still. On the beach around her she saw parts of her ship washed ashore. Several crew members sat or walked on the beach, along with other men and women. "Narvik?" She asked Noah. “Yes, Narvik in Stormark. Just lie down again, that's better.” The man's strong arms guided her while she forgot her pain. The man put a water bottle on her lips and she drank from the bottle. Her eyes were fixed on the man's brown eyes. She no longer knew what happened to her. First shipwreck, now love fell over her.
Chapter 4: The king is dead, long live the king!
There were great concerns when the king of Arcadia fell seriously ill. But at his request, he was not taken to a hospital, but cared for in the castellum. His sister flew over from Narvik, his distant cousin from Helderbourgh. Arkadius and Margaery stood at the edge, while Gustavus gave his last orders.
“Arkadius, have Arcadia included as an autonomous region of Batavia. You will be the new king of Arcadia and Prince of Calbian. But make sure that this kingdom is not annexed by Batavia as a glory. It is up to you, but I would love it if Gustavus Nathan, when he is an adult, becomes the king of Arcadia." said Gustavus. Arkadius nodded in agreement. “Margaery, you will be raining in Arcadia. That way you can control Arcadia, because Arkadius already has a lot under his reign. "Margaery nodded and replied: "I will do what you ask of me."
Gustavus was tired and wanted to sleep. Arkadius and Margaery watched over the dying king. Gustavus' heavy breathing showed that he was struggling. A few hours later they were talking softly at the table on the other side of the room. Suddenly she stopped talking. The king's breathing had stopped, they got up and walked to the bed. "The king is dead," said Arkadius. "Long live the king," Margaery replied. Both cried for the loss of their wise and beloved Gustavus.
The news of the death of Gustavus led to much sadness in Arcadia. The king who took care of the unification of Arcadia is dead. In the following days, the deceased king was laid out, allowing people to say goodbye. The last goodbye was held in the Basilica of Koningsrots. The deceased king was laid out, behind which stood the new king. He carried all the regalia, while the coffin of Gustavus was closed. Then the coffin went to the mausoleum where Gustavus was buried.
Chapter 5: Hot soup!
In recent times it has been a nice experience to meet a woman who had fallen in love with him. And to be honest, he had to admit that he too had fallen in love. But as it is with falling in love, you see everything through rose-tinted glasses. Therefor he consulted his wise mother. She urged him to do the soup test.
So Arkadius started to prepare everything for that soup test. It had been some time since he himself would be standing in the kitchen, because normally the food was prepared for him. But this time Arkadius took Esther to the kitchen. There he invited her to sit down while he started preparing the soup.
That's how Arkadius got to work, under the watchful eye of Esther. Four whole garlic bulbs were put in a pan of water, loosened, but not peeled. He then made a "bouquet garni" consisting of parsley, thyme and laurel. Tied together with leek leaves. He scooped the garlic from the boiling water, after which he began to peel the garlic. The peeled garlic cloves were brought back to the boil together with the "bouquet garni". Then he adds some olive oil and puts the lid on the pan.
He then blanch the bacon strips. Esther looked surprised and asked, "Why are you blanching the bacon strips?" "That is to remove the dominant salt," replied Arkadius. Soon after, he poured the bacon strips and started making the white roux. He melted butter, added flour and cooked it dry. He checked the garlic cloves, which were softly cooked. Then he removed the "bouquet garni" and began to mash the garlic. Then added the roux.
He tasted the soup and added some pepper. It turned out to taste good, after which he put the bacon in the soup. Then took two robust soup bowls and scooped the soup into it. He finished that with some grated cheese. So he served Esther, while he sat down opposite her at the table. Esther smiled and her first bite was tasted under his watchful eye. "Wow," said Esther, "that's great!" Arkadius had also taken a bite and responded with "Mmm mmm".
Esther said she is very impressed with Arkadius' cooking skills, whereupon Arkadius modestly said that really is not a kitchen prince, but can prepare a few things. "Remnants of my student days," said Arkadius. When the soup bowls were empty, the rest from the pan was divided and eaten. Both enjoyed this simple dish. When the soup bowls were empty, Esther began to clear the table, pointing to Arkadius to remain seated. Arkadius sat back a little, when suddenly Esther sat down on his lap. As she continued to talk, he listened in silence. She leaned her head against his head and said, "The simple things, such as this simple soup, are sometimes the best things in life." Arkadius said, "Yes, that's right." Esther looked him in the eye and then he started French-kissing him.
Arkadius could jump around, dance around with joy. Esther had passed the soup test, with flying colours. A slight red colour was visible on her cheeks when they had stopped kissing. Arkadius laughed, and she said, "Why are you laughing like that?" “I tested you with this garlic soup, namely whether you would kiss me after eating this soup. So whether the garlic smell would matter. And it turns out, I didn't have to try if you wanted to kiss me. You already did that spontaneously!” Together they laughed and Esther said: “Good test! ”. Arkadius replied: "Passed with honours!".
Chapter 6: Splendour of an engagement
He thought about it for a long time. How would he ask her? One day he would ask advice from his distant cousin, Gustavus des Vinandy, in blessed memory. He had asked Clara to marry him on the beach of Paravel with a so-called washed-up treasure chest with wine and baguette. Only, even more than then, is a marriage proposal to Esther not the question of whether, but when. His mother even insisted that she thought Esther had passed all tests.
Esther had already arrived at Castle Islàn, it was a homecoming. Since the castle was in the hands of the current Amokolian king, the castle has been restored to its former glory. She stood on a balcony, overlooking the water. She was lost in thought when the sound of a helicopter awakened her. The helicopter came closer and eventually a flyby. She had to smile because she recognized the helicopter. Her lover came there. A warm feeling tingled in her belly.
The helicopter landed on the other side of the bridge, a moment later her lover came over the bridge. She descended to the courtyard, where she arrived at the same time as her beloved on the opposite side. The two lovers walked close to each other and fell into each other's arms. A heartfelt embrace and kiss took a while, but the loved ones themselves experienced that as just a brief moment. "What is it like to be back in this castle?" Arkadius asked. "It's great!" Esther replied.
"Come," said Arkadius, offering his arm. Together they walked arm in arm through the halls, corridors and stairs. They chatted, well, Esther mostly chatted. Arkadius was nervous and tried to hide that. Ah, how he loved her, her smile, her voice, the sweet taste of her lips. How hard is it to stay within limits. They both wanted it, but they had to stay strong. Only if they were married, only then would they experience their love for each other in pure form.
They arrived at one of the terraces of the castle. Because this terrace was round and on the corner of the castle, more than 180 degrees had a view over the water. "The view from here remains breath-taking," Esther commented. "Certainly," said Arkadius. A table for two, covered with a white cloth, stood ready in the middle of the terrace. Esther saw the table and looked at Arkadius. "How romantic!" She said.
Arkadius guided her to one of the chairs and gallantly moved her chair. Esther increasingly felt that this evening is different from earlier evenings. Everything was better prepared than she had experienced before. Dinner was set in three courses, while the couple in love had a light conversation. Then the moment came, Arkadius pulled something out of his inside pocket and he stood up. Esther wondered what Arkadius is going to do. She looked into his eyes and had to look lower and lower, because Arkadius sat down on one knee. She suddenly realized what was happening. He held her hand and asked, "Esther, will you marry me." "Yes!" She answered immediately and enthusiastically. A cry of joy escaped her and tears of joy appeared. Arkadius had taken a small box from his inside pocket, he opened it and a shiny ring became visible.
First Esther wanted to hug him and kiss him, before sliding that beautiful ring around her finger. "It fits exactly," Esther said, nodding emotionally. Arkadius said: "I must admit that Elisabeth was in the plot, she has measured your rings." "The sweetheart!" Esther replied. Fireworks were lit from across the water. The two fiancées enjoyed the spectacle. A bottle of campaign and two glasses were prepared. It was difficult to stay within limits when he accompanied her to the door of her sleeping quarters in the castle. But wished her good night and kissed her, then he left for his own sleeping quarters.
Chapter 7: Night concert at Blanckenhof Palace
On the eve of His Majesty the King marrying his fiancé, a night concert was organized at the Blanckenhof Palace. Royalist Batavians were enthusiastic, but did not want to hurt the King's feelings when they handed him a petition for the organization of this concert. The King was very happy with the petition. All available seats were reserved in no time. As a result, the lawn behind the garden was also made available, but many Batavians would still be disappointed. The access to the lawn was limited to prevent chaos. The concert was therefore screened on large screens throughout Batavia. Even in Arcadia, Francia and Helderbourgh there were already too many registrations for these occasions in advance.
The exciting moment was there when the King himself arrived in the garden of the palace. Esther walked by his hand in a beautiful blue dress. All those present, no matter how far they were from the stage, got up and applauded. Later news media reported that a standing ovation was given throughout Batavia for the arrival of the king with his fiancé. The palace, which served as the setting for the concert, could bring back painful memories to the King, because the palace was built for and named after his ex-wife. But as painful feelings there were, the King did not show it. He was visibly moved by the excessive applause. The applause was uncomfortably prolonged and "Long live the King!" Many Batavians were so happy, the King is home again.
The length of the applause was almost embarrassing, but the King signaled to the conductor that the music could start to sound as far as he was concerned. The conductor nodded and gave a few seconds in advance. As before, the music in the gardens of the palace sounded:
Chapter 8: Dust of royalty
While a cup of tea was steaming on the table, the young lady looked at the garden in her mind. In the garden, bees were busy flying from flower to flower, a caterpillar was eating a leaf and ants were walking their route. The young lady wondered how the world could go on, while her future seemed so hopeless. Her mother had suddenly left and apparently had three other children of the same age, she had completely forgotten her real children. Would her mother have lost her way like that? Although the young lady and her two brothers lacked nothing, because they got everything their hearts desired, that emptiness was there. When her father married another woman, they found in her a real mother. Loving, caring and involved. Only then came that fateful day when her father and her stepmother suddenly disappeared.
Only later could she include the story of the disappearance, because information came to her as pieces of a puzzle. She was glad to hear that her father had awakened, but because of the political situation contact was not possible, let alone a meeting. She missed her father and her stepmother very much. Luckily she and her brothers had been taken care of by Benjamin Cambernon. Her father's loyal friend had to abandon everything to keep her and her brothers safe.
On that fatal day she was at school. She was taught at a normal school, among children her age. Suddenly the Royal Guard appeared and took her away. They took her to Château Paravel, west of 's Kingswaarde. There she was united with her younger brothers. She did not recognise the men of the guard. They did, however, in typical black suits, with sunglasses and an earpiece. But her own bodyguard had suddenly disappeared. Later she would hear that the man had been brutally murdered. They took her to the cellar under the château, where they were kept sweet with a television. They saw the chaos throughout the country and neighbouring Francia. Their father had disappeared without a trace and there were protests everywhere.
At one point a man, dressed in a black suit, came, but without sunglasses. He spoke with the dialect of Diet and gave the orders. Then her brothers and she were put together for a photo. Her younger brothers, especially Gustavus, didn't want to cooperate with a smile. The man lost more and more his patience. Eventually photographs were taken. In excitement she waited for the following. But before the man gave the next order, a huge explosion sounded. Somewhere upstairs the château was attacked, because shots were fired as well. The men ran upstairs, the room was closed off. She took her brothers in her arms and began to pray. "Great Cato, save us!"
The shots sounded sometimes far away and then close again. After a while it was quiet. For at least a quarter of an hour there was nothing to hear. Until she heard banging on the other side of the door. In neat Batavians the cry sounded: "Are you all right? "Yes," she cried. "Get away from the door," she answered. After which there was shooting and the lock broke into pieces. There Benjamin appeared in the doorway. They were so relieved. But the danger wasn't over yet. For months they travelled from safe house to safe house. In the last year the political unrest subsided. The dust was setttling down.
Part II: Vinandy, all over Micras
Chapter 1: All Vinandy together
The news that the Emir of Arbor and his wife had been brutally executed went all over Micras. All the Vinandy’s, wherever they were on Micras, were shocked. Soon Hendrik Leopold contacted his entire family. He had a memorial service organised in the Cathedral of 's Koningenwaarde and he hoped that all Vinandy's would come together.
The Batavian Broadcasting Company carried the arrival of each Vinandy as breaking news on their news channel. Atiya, Aisha, Nur, Farhan and Astir arrived at Luchthaven Schapenheul and were driven to Blanckenhof Palace. For an hour, journalists speculated about Hakim's absence. But Hakim arrived in a separate plane and was also driven to Blanckenhof Palace. A plane arrived from Hurmu, in which Karel Kyle and Gustavus Nathan were seated. Karel Kyle addressed the assembled press, while Gustavus Nathan stood diagonally behind him. Then they too were driven to the palace. Finally, a plane from Kurum Ash-Sharqia landed and the Sultanic couple arrived.
Everyone was received by the King and Queen. In one of the halls of the palace, all the guests were seated together, as well as the royal family. Hendrik said to his wife that this is very historic, all the Vinandy’s together. The Vinandy’s had not met since 1685 AN.
Before the memorial service, the whole family left in a long procession of black cars for the cathedral. The route was blocked and the public had gathered to watch the spectacle. All those Vinandy's from all parts of Micras, that did not happen often. The news channel also covered the procession. A journalist commented on the portrayal of Elisabeth Asara, that she could have been the Queen of Batavia. In Karel's case, he could have been the Frankish Emperor. To Hakim, it is said that he could soon be the Emir of Arbor.
A solemn gathering was held in the cathedral. It is a bit strange, since the death of two people was mourned, but their remains were not there. It was not a funeral service. The only thing visible was the large stained glass of Arkadius, who looked down, as it were, on the assembled Vinandy people. The meeting was closed by the Vinandy song:
Chapter 2: Around Micras
Later that day, when the whole party had driven to Paravel, they gathered in the main hall. There stood the Round Table of Paravel. The whole family sat at the round table. The relatives sat in the second row, as it were. The King of Batavia stood up, looked around the table and said: "How proud I am that you are all here. For the first time in twenty years the family is together. The occasion may be less than gratifying, but from moments like this new beautiful things can arise." Hendrik sat down again and Karel stood up. "Thank you, my uncle. I have a number of issues. First, how do we get the bodies of our beloved father and mother back into our hands so that we can bury them with honour?" Hendrik replied, "A request to the so-called president of Barikalus has not been answered. So without a fight we will not get the bodies. In addition, Batavian politics is unwilling to enter into an armed conflict to obtain the bodies." Karel nodded and said, "I can understand that position, with the Benacian Union in formation on the eastern border."
Hakim stood up: "There are armed forces nearby. Both the Frankish faction and the Emiric forces are fighting the Republic. Only they probably have their own ideas about where to bury the bodies. The Frankish faction will probably want to erect a shrine on the place where they were killed. While the Emirate may want to establish another place, but that will be within the territory of Arbor. And I can understand that very well." Henry decided to say, "Let's rest this issue until the bodies are no longer in Republican hands." In unison, those present nodded.
Karel continued, "The second issue, the story of who our mother is. The so-called president has revealed what happened behind the palace doors. This is something we actually already knew, but the question now is: are we going to officially deny it?" Elisabeth replied, "It's better not to. We just have to accept it. The truth would come out sooner or later anyway. Let that so-called president have done us a favour with this." Gustavus nodded in agreement and asked, "Where is our biological mother anyway?" Hendrik replied, "She currently lives in Château Steenvoorde." The three Catherine descendants looked surprised at Hendrik. "Yes, my wife thought this was a good gesture of mercy to the woman who secretly bore my brother three children".
Hakim continued, after a moment of silence. "May I be so bold as to discuss one more matter: Arbor. I intend to accept the position of Emir. With unofficial help, I want to free Arbor from that so-called president and fanatical extremists. Only there is also the Frankish faction, who claim that you, Charles, should be their king. Will you claim that position?" Charles smiled and replied, "No, Francia is history. That Frankish faction claims Arbor, while it has never been Francia. Nor any kind of 'New Francia'." Hakim nodded gratefully and with relief.
"Great!", said Elisabeth, "Then I can return to Vrijplaats with peace of mind. That my brothers don't start fighting each other." Karel and Hakim nodded to their sister. They shook hands and gave each other a hug. "Let there be peace between us: Pax Vinandy," Karel said.
Chapter 3: Meet the lost mother
The Queen, Elena de Aragon, took Elisabeth, Charles and Gustavus aside. "Would you like to meet Catherine?" The sister and brothers looked at each other. Elisabeth then looked at her husband. He had an inkling of what the little talk was about and nodded in agreement. With this encouragement she knew enough. "Yes, I want to meet her", Elisabeth said. Her brothers were surprised, but also agreed. Elena was relieved.
After saying goodbye to Hakim, who returned to Arbor, Elisabeth, Saladin, Charles and Gustavus were flown to Vinandy by tiltrotor. The plane flew over Château Steenvoorde, where Catherine lives. From the airport they drove to the castle. When the cars drove into the courtyard, they could see a woman waiting. Elisabeth, Charles and Gustavus stood together before walking towards the waiting woman. The woman was visibly emotional. Elisabeth asked, "Mother?" The woman nodded in agreement as she burst into tears. Elisabeth embraced her and cried with her. The two brothers also became emotional and took turns embracing their mother. Elisabeth said to Catherine, holding out an inviting hand to Saladin: "This is my husband". To Saladin, Elisabeth said: "So this is my mother". Saladin greeted her and held both women to comfort them.
The group went inside, where Catherine had prepared a light lunch. The conversation started off a bit awkward, but eventually it became pleasant. A group photograph was taken. Charles said: "Although all this is very complicated, we obviously have to get used to each other, know that we see you as a full family". Catherine thanked emotionally for these words. Saladin, Elisabeth and Charles left the castle. The Sultanic plane took Saladin and Elisabeth back to Kurum Ash-Sharqia. While Charles flew to Hurmu on another plane. Gustavus stayed longer with Catherine, but later left for Château des Vinandy.
Chapter 4: Last salute
Immediately after the Great Apollonian Empire took over as the occupying force, Hakim had the place where his parents had been left secured. Then the remains were exhumed and conditioned. Hakim called his uncle to discuss what to do: "Where are we going to bury them?" Hendrik indicated that it was customary for the Batavian kings and their wives to be interred in the royal vault of the Cathedral of 's Koningenwaarde. Hakim asked, "Are Batavian politicians going to accept that their former king is interred?" Hendrik replied, "Good question".
The family gathered in Ruhatyn. Karel said, "Let's try to make a dignified decision about the final resting place." Hakim said, "I know there is talk that would like them to be buried in Arbor. Only that is not wise for two reasons: 1) Arbor is not stable enough at the moment and it will take years. 2) We do not honour the fact that our parents were also king and queen over Batavia, emperor and empress over Francia." Farhan nodded in agreement and remarked: "In Francia and in Hyfrost, mother's favourite city, we cannot bury."
Atiya said, "Shall we agree on the following then? Our parents will be interred in Batavia, but in Arbor there will be a memorial." Everyone agreed. Karel asked Hendrik: "Uncle, how will the politics in Batavia take this?" Hendrik replied, "We should not expect any great resistance, at least not from the politicians, and besides, public opinion is not against interment."
In the time after this meeting the mortal remains were placed in closed coffins in Al-Hamra. There the population could say goodbye. Afterwards the coffins were flown to Batavia. From Schapenheul the coffins were transported in a solemn procession to Blanckenhof Palace. Also there, the population could say goodbye. Then all the Vinandy's gathered again and the coffins were brought in a solemn procession to the Cathedral of 's Koningenwaarde. Along the route many Batavians had come to watch the Vinandy's and also Catherine Bullen.
In the Cathedral, the coffins were carried in, while the Vinandy Song was played:
Hendrik stood on the pulpit and began a short speech: "My beloved brother and sister, thankful that we may honour you here. Grateful that we no longer have to live with the thought that you were dishonourably dumped. Your death is a great crime. Your life ended prematurely. May your peoples never forget you."
The organ began to play the former national anthem of Francia:
The half-brothers Karel and Hakim walked together to the coffins. After a moment of silence, they walked together to the top, where they gave a short speech: "United. Connected in family, connected in blood" With these last words they both nodded to Catherine who nodded back emotionally. "Let connectedness reverberate in the pursuit of Justice, Peace, Liberty and Progress." These are references to the mottoes of Arbor, Arcadia, Amokolia, Batavia, Francia and Helderbourgh. "May all peoples strive for Peace. In this, the deepest wish of our father and mother is served. In this world of turmoil, perceived hostility and distrust. May we all be united in Peace." These last words were confirmed as the half-brother held up their hands together.
After these words, the Staatshymne der Bataven was played:
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