State Visits to Cormyr (Part 2)
By Ed Greenwood
"Take a deep breath, grasp your temper firmly in both hands, and read," Filfaeril said sunnily. "And try to understand and remember it, too, because I'll be asking you a question or two about it, later in the day."
"Fee," Azoun asked plaintively, "why are you doing this? Can't I just . . ."
"Go kill something? Wring my neck? Father another --"
"Very good, very good, very good!" the King of all Cormyr said hastily, almost snatching the parchment from under Filfaeril's sweet smile. "Slaver," he added, under his breath.
"Barbarian," she responded fondly, kissing him.
The document resumes:
No action on our part but to forward reports of performance to Master of the Rolls.
- Heralds formally inform local lords of the relevant itinerary items of the visit, and then post public proclamations of same(1) and "utter" (make public announcements, following a text prepared at the palace with an eye for how much the Crown wants the citizenry to know and how much the guest wants to meet with deputations, malcontents, former countrymen, trade envoys, and the like).
- Posting can be delegated to Purple Dragons or local court officers, but utterance cannot.
Hereafter events vary from visit to visit according to the specifics of the itinerary, but a typical roster appears here, numbered continuously with the preceding steps so as to communicate the usual sequence of happenings. Inquiries to the Clerk of Protocol and Court Heralds as to the arrangement of all of the following steps in a given visit should ensure that major diplomatic disasters are avoided.
This will always involve a ceremony, either on the docks or at a suitable square or waymoot, with fanfares and/or speeches of welcome.
Thereafter will follow a parade and/or escorted procession (parade and/or escorted conveyance to a royal residence).
The amount of pomp and ceremony varies with the visitor's wishes, security concerns, place of arrival (grand procession from the docks of Suzail, yes -- grand procession from the docks to the waiting citadel in the naval base at Marsember, no -- accompaniment by honor guard, probably yes).
- Master of Revels and Court Heralds handle details of ceremony.
- Master of the Horse provides covered coaches (open coaches only if security and weather permit, if only weather is a concern, closed coaches must still be ready nearby in case it turns inclement).
- Court War Wizard sees to protective escort and shieldings.
- Highknights act as agents of the crown to determine exactly how many persons are in the outland party at this time and make sure they stay with the party. If anyone slips away, they are to be followed (with assistance of War Wizards).
- Purple Dragons form the uniformed escort and honor guard.
4. Presentation to the Court
The usually occurs on the same day as Arrival unless travel or health of visiting personages require otherwise. Presentation involves a full, formal court ceremony with speeches, possible exchange of gifts, and welcoming by The Crown.
- Master of Revels and Court Heralds see to details of the ceremony, obtaining approvals from The Crown or Regent, Royal Magician, Clerk of Protocol, Lord High Marshal or Acting Lord Protector of the Realm.
- Clerk of Protocol assembles list of select guests to receive invitations.
- Royal Pages deliver invitations.
- Highknights and War Wizards (as assigned by the Royal Magician) make security arrangements in consultation with the Lord High Marshal.
- Stewards see to deployment of Gentlemen Ushers and uniformed Purple Dragons.
5. State Feast
The feast is usually held the evening of the same day as the Presentation. All preparations for the feast are the same as for the Presentation, with the addition of the Royal Kitchens and Servers, who must adhere to the itinerary.
6. Protocol Meeting
Usually occurs the during the night or early morning immediately following the State Feast. The same court officers are involved as in the Presentation, hosting (in private) outland envoys of the visiting personage.
- Itinerary must be confirmed and approvals obtained for all changes.
- Highknights and War Wizards are tasked with listening in on this discussion from absolute concealment, under the protocol of extreme discretion.
7. Royal Audience
The audience is usually held after highsunfeast on the day following the State Feast. The audience is a relaxed, private discussion between The Crown or Regent and visiting personages.
- Servants and attendants must be present as determined by the itinerary and as modified in the Protocol Meeting.
- Those same court officers indicated for Presentation conduct the same functions. Invitations should be limited to essential nobles and functionaries.
- Royal Magician determines whether Highknights and War Wizards must listen in from concealment, under protocol of extreme discretion(2). His decision is communicated after the fact to the Master of Rolls, the Royal Sage, and The Crown, but is not shared with any of us.
The evening revel should occur the same day as the Royal Audience when possible, with private in-chamber dining, rest, and bathing for visiting personage between if necessary. Only a select list of guests is invited.
Reception consists of drinks, conversation afoot, and light entertainment (minstrelry in gallery) with the aim of encouraging friendly mingling between visitors and the court.
- The royal family may appear separately in casual dress, not regalia, so full security is required.
- All preparations and court officers involved in the State Feast perform identical functions here.
Filfaeril's arm is sure to be removed from around Azoun's neck momentarily, so let's see what they discover about this mysterious, secret passage in our next installment.
1. The Master of the Rolls is the archivist of the Royal Court (a role performed in the Palace by the Scribes Royal). For an example of such a proclamation, see the opening scene of the short story "The Long Road Home" in The Best of the Realms Book II: The Stories of Ed Greenwood, published by Wizards of the Coast in 2005.
Those unfamiliar with Cormyr are advised that the Royal Palace and the Royal Court are two different buildings in Suzail. The Palace stands in the Royal Gardens, north of the Court, with "Lake Azoun" between them. It sits "behind" the Royal Court, which largely hides it from public view. The Royal Court is a vast, sprawling series of connected buildings where most courtiers work and many live. It is all that most Cormyreans see of what's colloquially known as "the Court," meaning functions where well-dressed folk appear before or socially meet the monarch or court functionaries, or face justice.
2. "Protocol of extreme discretion" can be bluntly translated as "spying." This generally involves full concealment and several disguised watchers with backup and magical oversight from the War Wizard. The sites for functions requiring this protocol are chosen, whenever possible, from among those that have ready access via secret passages, spyholes, and the like.
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