Private Tales Lessons in Life

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Myrcella Bochanan

Eldest daughter of House Bochanan
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The Bochanan Ball was a success. For the most part. The food was great, the music was divine and the company was...mostly well behaved. Myrcella did what she could in her first venture at being a Hostess.

But it wasn't supposed to be that way.

Her mother Gwendolyn Bochanan was to run the Ball in honour of her late husband, but it seemed that she just couldn't leave her bedchambers. So that duty fell to Myrcella. She hoped that she had done a good job. It was enough of a task to keep her betrothed busy enough to not have to be around her all the time. Her plan for that was simple; to get Richard Henry the Eighth so annoyed with her that he'd break off the engagement so that she wouldn't have to move to Elbion. Of course there was a chance that that could backfire. Richard wasn't exactly an imbocile. He had already picked up on some of her ploy.

But that was all last night. Myrcella had gotten herself up early for once. Most of the guests were still there, having their own bedchambers in the guestwing. Who exactly were the early risers, Myrcella couldn't really guess. Though she had figured that one guest in particular would be awake. Otto von Stehlen seemed to be the type to not waste a day. For Myrcella, he appeared to be a man who knew much about politics and running a house outside of what she knew.

The guestwing had it's own study and library. Quite often guests would be in there drinking tea, or going over letters, or reading, or even looking at some of the paintings. Myrcella hoped that she could find Otto there. If not, then she would just stay there for a while and wait. It was also a good hiding spot from her betrothed, if he happened to wake up early. Surely he wouldn't think of looking for her there.
 

Otto von Stehlen

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"A lie does not consist in the indirect position of words, but in the desire and intention, by false speaking, to deceive and injure your neighbor."
-Jonathan Swift

Indeed, one would find the good Count at the guest library...no doubt a man whom found himself often kneedeep in work...even on occasions such as this, he had his papers with him, working on them the very next morning of the social occasion, writing this and that about anything and everything regarding his realm.

That is what would have assumed by the papers sprawled over the library table...but somthing was rather off about the picture.

Otto was not, in fact, working on the documents at the moment; rather, it was his idleness...starring out of a nearby window at somthing, a tea cup raised midway to his mouth. Perhaps it was natural for one to have a reprieve from work, but to see the Count do so was rather...odd...in it of itself.

The Count sat there for a moment...before speaking in his usual monotone voice.

"Was there somthing you needed?" Otto continued to look out the window, before bring the cup up and taking a sip out of it, closing his eyes as if to take in the flavor. A moment later, the cup would come down onto the plate that Otto had been holding with his free hand, as his eyes slowly opened to look at the young Bochanan. There was somthing rather...intimidating about his gaze that borderline a glare that would have sent a shiver down the spines of any other persons...perhaps his lack of facial expression contributed to this. "Or are you simply taking your early morning stroll?"
 
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Myrcella Bochanan

Eldest daughter of House Bochanan
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Myrcella's breath caught in her throat as Otto von Stehlen suddenly spoke. He wasn't even looking in her direction. She didn't come announced by any of the staff either, so how did he know? Was it her reflection in the glass? Perhaps not. She wasn't even close yet. She had barely stepped into the room.

It all added a creepness factor to who was already a creepy sort of man. His expressions tended to look....unnatural.

She continued into the room as Otto drank his tea, stopping close to him, but not close enough to be within reach. It felt...safer that way. The man didn't really seem the approachable sort for young ladies like herself.

Myrcella cleared her throat a little to help her find her voice. "No I--well, that is to say that I came looking for you, actually." She paused for a moment, looking to his tea cup briefly. Maybe she should have brought some for herself. It might of helped to calm her heart that was pumping a bit harder than usual at the moment. Her gaze then returned to Otto's own. "I was wondering if you could instruct me on some of the inner workings of politics. Most particularly on alliances between kingdoms and houses." No doubt he'd be able to pick up on her reasonings behind her request in a split second.
 
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Otto von Stehlen

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The Count maintained his expression, his eyebrow stayed where it was...before he would lower it back into place. In a sense, the man would continue to meet the gaze of the young lady with somthing more akin to a stare. Intimidation might have been the affect he was going for, but one would not know for certain...

The Count would maintain eye contact with the young Bochanan, keeping for almost an uncomfortable period, or until she looked away. It was only then, the Count's own attention would turn back towards the window, as he raised his cup once more to consume his herbal drink...

"And what if I were to refuse?" The Count asked rather pointedly, almost in a matter-of-fact tone, his eyes still looking towards the outside world. What hit this home was the fact that despite the man's lack of facial expression, his somehow managed to seem unimpressed with the young lady. "What will you do then?"
 
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Myrcella Bochanan

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Otto von Stehlen just stared at her. And it wasn't as though he stared at her in the way that he enjoyed it. No. He didn't even seem to enjoy making her uncomfortable. He just didn't seem to care. Myrcella hadn't really counted on him being so cold.

But it made her wonder what he was like as a child. Did he have any friends? Was he picked on a lot? Is that why he was so indifferent?

Fortunately Otto looked out of the window shen she did. However his answer to her question was not what she had expected. In fact she was taken aback. Normally she was quite used to getting her own way, especially in her own home.

"I would...find out in some other way. Although I believe that I'd learn more from someone with experience than perhaps I'd find through reading a few books." Her mind was spinning over the possibilities. She'd have to somehow keep it all quiet without her betrothed finding out.
 
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Otto von Stehlen

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The Count's eyebrows remained raised, his expression haven't changed since Myrcella had first entered. The man's eyes, on the other hand, might have told a different story if Myrcella had looked close enough...although it was difficult, as what the Count's face conveyed as a whole.

It was subtle, borderline unnoticeable, but the Count's eyes were shifting. Yet regardless, his attention was like a lance piercing through the young women's eyes. He stared her down, as if she was some sort of annoying pest that was wasting his time.

Yet how far shall the young Bochanan push for the man's attention? For his wisdom?

"What do you have that can entice me to do such a thing..." The Count asked idly, not flinching in his movements or gaze. "...why would I teach you?...A young women, of all people?...What can you offer to me, that I don't already have?"​
 
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Myrcella Bochanan

Eldest daughter of House Bochanan
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Myrcella held his gaze, though it was entirely uncomfortable! It made her swallow a lump in her throat while he stared her down. Was the man even married? It seemed impossible that any woman could bear that look everyday. It held far too much judgement. And not the good kind either.

"Well like it or not, I am the future. Wouldn't you want the future to be in educated hands instead of an uneducated one?" Well that was certainly bold of her. Myrcella tried to stand toe to toe with Otto von Stehlen but it was quite difficult. Perhaps if she was older she'd of fared better.

"I'm a really good painter of flowers and beautiful things. I could paint you something. Or even teach you how. I also have a beautiful golden stallion whose fur shimmers even on a cloudy day. You could meet him and even ride him if he permits you. I also know a bit of archery. I could teach you that." She shifted her weight on her feet a little. "Or there's always some coin..." Although she wasn't certain if it'd be mere money that he'd be after.
 
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Otto von Stehlen

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"I've heard enough." Otto said abruptly, almost cutting her off, as he raised his tea cup and took another sip, closing his eyes in the process. This might have been a bit of a reprieve for the young lady, before Otto lowered his cup back to it's place, and fixing Myrecella with the same look he had on throughout this interaction.

"You are a long ways from anything perfect...but I suppose we all must start somewhere..." Otto muttered, seemingly more to himself then at the fair lady in front of him. Again, one may think Otto wasn't impressed, but was rather hard to tell with his rather...singular facial expression. "...take a seat."

That sounded more like an order then a simple request, one could easily mistake it for somthing with a rather forceful intent.

Otto would then look back out, his mind wandering, waiting for the young Bochanan to take a seat across for him. Of course she could easily refuse, not complying and remain standing, but she would only be meet with silence from the Count..

If she choose to sat down, Otto would continue to look out the window, his expression once more had not changed...and without looking at the women in front of him, spoke.

"Tell me...Myrecella...do you have any dreams for this life?"
 
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Myrcella Bochanan

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Myrcella was quick to shut herself up as soon as Otto von Stehlen spoke. His very words made her feel compelled to obey. It wasn't as though she ever wanted to anger the man. No, she needed him. Besides, his anger was probably ten times worse than how he behaved now. Who would ever want to see that?

She very nearly jumped as he told her to take a seat, finding herself the one closest and placing her bottom of it. Only now did she chide herself for not bringing any parchment or quill and ink so that she could take notes. But perhaps deep down she wasn't so sure that she'd get the help that she needed. So far it seemed that she was wrong.

Otto's very question felt almost like a trap; as if every answer that she'd give would be wrong. Still, she wanted to be truthful to the man. "Yes, I do. However my grip on those dreams are slipping. I just hope that I don't lose them entirely." Myrcella didn't want to outright say that she didn't want to marry Richard Henry the Eighth . But surely Otto would have probably guessed that already.
 
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Otto von Stehlen

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"You've said words...but you've not answered my question...hm...You truly might have what it takes to be a politician..." One could of sworn that the Count had chuckled with that sentence, but his expression hadn't changed what's so ever.

"I just hope you have the stomach for it all...not the even the strongest of warriors can stand up to the jaws that is bureaucracy...as much as they'd like to think otherwise...it is the frustration and the corruption of it all that can drive good men to do bad deeds...the superficial people...their betrayals...the mundanes of it all...it is not for the faint of hearts..." The Count continued his crushing stare, weather it was his intent or not, he was coming off as very intimidating. "...I ask what your dreams are to know if you have any aspirations in life...not simply out of blatant curiously...but as assessment of you.....better to purse your dreams...then this...for once you've gone down this path, it will be difficult to leave it...difficult to purse somthing else, without taking scars...for this path will take much from you...and the repercussions of failure may haunt you until you die...I know this all too well..."

The Count gave somthing of a dramatic pause. Perhaps he was playing up what politics was, but it was better to set expectations high at the beginning...leap for the stars, but land on the moon...

"So knowing this...I shall ask this again: Do you have any dreams for this life?"
 
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Myrcella Bochanan

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Myrcella made a small smile at the corner of her mouth as Otto von Stehlen seemed to compliment her. Well that was good so far. It set her at ease just a little, although she wasn't sure of how long that would last.

Her brows furrowed as he described just how engrossing a life of politics was, and that many couldn't handle it. So what about her? Could she handle it? Right now she didn't have much choice. Her life was going down a path that she didn't want and she couldn't as of yet prevent it without bringing war to her home and have everything destroyed.

Myrcella took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. She hadto give Otto a better answer than before. And yet she didn't want to detail her love for her butler and how he loved her too, nor their plans for marriage which had since been dashed with her betrothal to Richard layed out in her Father's will.

"The dream that I have is to regain control over my own life again. I may be a nobleman's daughter, but that doesn't mean that I'm just sime pretty face to parade around at parties. I want to have a say, have a voice and have control over my own destiny."
 
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Otto von Stehlen

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Otto snorted. This one clearly had a secret to keep, her response was just as vague as her last one...still, her tone did not betray her intentions. She wanted to take control of her life, thus logically, she has a cause. Otto was able to deduct that much from the few sentences she spoke. Yet it was in the attempt to hid the truth...did she reveal the intent to hide.

She can keep her secrets...for now...weather that was a detriment or a benefit...it would be for her to decide.

"I admit...the standing you were born into leaves little room for flexibility..." The Counts eyes dropped as he trailed off, a rare moment. Seemed as if he was in thought that the man was in some form of thought. A moment would pass...before the Count spoke again, eyes following as his voice escalated. "...but it is not impossible to accomplish what you achieve,,,after all...the cards you are dealt in life matters little...it is how you play them... that will be what ultimately determines your fate."

Another sip out of the cup, it was time for the real work to begin.

"Before we may talk about much of anything else, let us take inventory of your assets...tell me,what powers do believe you possess as a so-called daughter to a noblemen...and what restrictions do you believe are placed upon you as a result of this title?"
 
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Myrcella Bochanan

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Myrcella nodded slowly while she listened, not daring to interrupt while Otto von Stehlen paused. What was he thinking? Did something that she had said hit close to home? Whatever it was, it only added to the complex mystery that was him.

It was strange for her to feel that she had to have his approval. Even stranger still that she had at least earned it partly, given that he was now giving her some instruction. But still Myrcella felt as though her answers to his questions were very close to being all wrong. Yet could she be blamed for all of that? No. Her life had been sheltered. Though it won't remain that way for much longer.

Powers...restrictions...Otto seemed to be fishing for what she was keeping hidden. How was she to answer without giving her true intentions away? She had to really think about that. And so it was Myrcella's moment to pause. But after a short minute, she responded. "Well I get to run the household when my Mother isn't able to. And when we go to the markets, the merchants give us first pick of their wares. As for the restrictions? I can't always leave without an escort, in case of bandits or kidnappers. And then there are those that would try to marry into nobility, or those that use noble sons and daughters as pawns in some grand scheme. I'd rather know what the game is that I'm being played."
 
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Otto von Stehlen

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"Superficial" Was the only word that Otto uttered...followed by another snort...and another sip of tea. Perhaps the answer was not as satisfactory this time, though it was always hard to tell with Otto...

"If you are to play the grand game that is politics...and if you are to play it well...you must remove yourself from thinking merely of what is right in front you...and think of the broader picture...the grander picture...as you so elegantly put it."

It was then Otto's eyes met her's once more. His expression may not have changed, but his eyes spoke volume. There was a silent but unyielding emotion, perhaps a passion that was so hot, it felt cold. The Count might as well been drilling into Myrcella's eye-sockets, considering what he spoke about next.

"What makes us nobility?...Wealth?...Strength?...Birthright?...All of this...It is power...power over people, power over resources...power to make decisions that will affect others...weather we want to or not..your not the only one at stake now...and your certainly not the only one whom plays..."

Uncharacteristically, the Count's eyes dropped, as if he was pondering somthing he had said. Yet it was only for but a moment, as the intensity of his gaze resumed upon Myrcella.

"Answer me this: Has your father or mother every spoken to you about how to rule the land? Teach you the laws that regulate the people...the tax codes that the citizenry must abide by?....The men-at-arms that must be maintained to protect not just you and your family, but the people whom labor under you?...Who are your most important subordinates?...How loyal are they to you? And only you?...In short...what do you truly know about governance?"
 
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Myrcella Bochanan

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Was she wrong...again? Or perhaps it wasn't so much that she was wrong, but merely that she didn't answer well enough.

Myrcella slowly swallowed as Otto von Stehlen 's eyes bore into her. It was easy to say that she was intimidated. But he had a power and stance that demanded respect. All that he needed to do was give a look and it put others on edge. That was all part of what she felt she needed to learn from him.

And then there it was; a list of questions that she SHOULD know the answers to, given her new position since the death of her Father. But she was certain that her responses would probably fall short of Otto's expectations.

"They have not told me everything about how to rule; although I do know the rules over our lands to be followed. I do not know the tax code as of yet although that may not matter soon enough. I know our guards, though not all of their names. The same can be said with most of the Estate's staff. Our most loyal are those that have served us for a long time. I do not believe that they could be turned against us, given that they are treated well."
 
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Otto von Stehlen

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Otto closed his eyes, letting out a sigh escaped his lips. This was not working, there was just somthing he wasn't getting across to her.

Without another word, he set his tea cup down on it's saucer, opening his eyes just to place the entire thing down on the table...before withdrawing to his seat...clasping his hands together...as he began to consider what she had said...

Then a thought came to him. It wasn't somthing he'd normally do...but perhaps this one just needed...an anecdote of sorts to understand what he conveyed...perhaps...

The Count had been starring into space for a few moments after he set down his tea. Might have been a bit odd, even creepy, to some. It was clear that the man was deep in his thoughts, until he abruptly stood up.

"Let's go for a walk..." The Count offered, but it sounded more like an order. It didn't seem like somthing up for debate either, as the Otto simply turned and exited the room, wandering down the hallways without even checking if dear Myrcella had followed....

Work could wait...for once...
 
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Myrcella Bochanan

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Oh no, she was wrong again. Myrcella thought as much with the way that Otto von Stehlen reacted to what she was saying.

And then he was quiet. Too quiet. Myrcella wanted to say something to break the silence, but then she dared not to, in case it got him upset or something.

Otto abruptly got to his feet and the sentence he uttered felt like a command. Nearly stumbling, she got to her feet and moved quickly to join him, her skirts swishing as she walked. "The gardens are nice. Would you like to visit them?"
 
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Otto von Stehlen

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"That is indeed our current destination." Otto replied with no hesitation, his attention still forward, advancing with what seemed to be purpose.

On the way in from the entrance, the Count had taken the time to observe a garden nearby. Perhaps it would be better to have a visual metaphor for the one behind him. Perhaps she was only a young noble women...perhaps he wasn't even making any sense...but none of it ever did...not when you first started out at least...

Otto continued through the halls, hands behind his back. Despite being a rather stranger to the Bochanan estate, Otto lead the way as if he owned the place.

Then, just as abruptly as he had stood up and left, he stopped; the attention was now on the walls of the halls. They were covered with various paintings of different scenery. Beautiful was a good word for them, it had to be; somthing about the paintings caught the Count's eyes.

"Who painted these pictures?" Otto asked, his expression and tone remained the same, as he glanced over to the young Bochanan...
 
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Myrcella Bochanan

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Well at least she got something right.

Myrcella walked along just slightly behind Otto von Stehlen with her hands clasped in front of her. Just how he knew his way around the Estate so well boggled her. Though perhaps he was the type that picked up on such things easily. She recalled hearing rumours of people that could recall entire books that they had read, word for word. Maybe Otto was one of those.

And then he stopped walking. It was so abrupt that she nearly walked straight into him. His question surely caught her off guard. "I did...Not all of them, but most." Did he think that they were awful? Or did he actually like something that she did? That was something that she needed to find out. So she asked. "Why? Do you like them?"
 
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"It is rather..." The Count seemed as if he was about to criticize it, as his stern expression barely let up. One may even say that his gaze could be enough to melt the entirety of the painting.

"...remarkable."

Yet he did not say anything of the kind. Those painting were indeed remarkable, to say the least. The color, the use of depth and shading...all of it was more then remarkable; beautiful. Otto recognized talent when he saw it...it was simply the matter of vocally praising that often was difficult to coerce out of him.

Even so, the pause seemed brief after the Count spoke his last word, as he advanced forward as abruptly as he stopped, expecting the young Bochanan to follow.

"Tell me about painting..." Otto would ask, making his way out of the halls and rapidly down the stairs towards the exit. "...tell me what everything you know...from the idea to it's production..."
 
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Myrcella Bochanan

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Okay now Myrcella was truly surprised. Otto von Stehlen seemed to not only like her paintings; but seemed to adore them as well. She couldn't help but smile in spite of herself, and stood a little taller with pride. Of course she loved her work and only the best were put up in the halls. The others...well they were waiting to dry so that she could paint over them.

But then he started walking again. Myrcella moved to follow, quickening her pace so that she wouldn't be left behind. As she descended diwn the stairs, she took hold of the folds of her skirt so that she wouldn't trip.

An eyebrow was raised as Otto questioned her on the art of painting. "Well I love beautiful things, and there are so many beautiful things here. Sometimes all that it takes is for the sun to shine a certain way on something, or for the clouds to be of certain shades of grey over the valley. I just get inspired. Sometimes I paint outside, or inside in my own art room. At times I can work on a painting for weeks, while on others I can have them finished in a matter of hours. It's all in the details. I just try to capture as much as I can." And now for a slight bribe to perhaps earn his appreciation. "Would you like me to make a painting for you some day?"
 
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Otto von Stehlen

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The Count listened, but did not speak even at the end of her description. But though he remained eerily quiet, his mind was moving, taking in the detail and spit-balling ways to then use it as a method of teaching...there's was only so much Otto could teach the young Bochanan in the time they had, which was minimal at best. But with what time they did have, he would present her with an important tool that would come in handy in the political realm...if she'd be able to first grasps it...

Her last comment about painting the Count an illustration caused the man's head to turn to look at the young women following him.

"Good, your learning..." Was all he said, as the speed of his pace moved the Count forward and out the door. They wouldn't stay at the entrance for long, however, as Otto made an abrupt turn for the garden. As they entered the garden, Otto would turn his head ever so often, as if to look at a flower or maybe the flutter of a butterfly, but his head would always break back forward, on the path that lead them ahead. Another few moments later, the two would arrive at what seemed to be an opening among the gardens. At present was a few chairs and even fewer tables. Seems like a place you'd hold a garden part.

"This would be a much suitable environment for you to learn..." Otto said, sauntering pass the seats and tables, before turning to make eye contact with Myrecella. "...do what you need must to become comfortable...once your ready, we may begin."
 
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Myrcella Bochanan

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Myrcella smiled a little to herself as Otto von Stehlen complimented her. She was a little surprised that he figured out her motivation behind her offer, but then realized that she shouldn't of been surprised at all. He was a Master and she was just a new student, eager to learn before she was sent to live in a den of wolves, so to speak.

Otto seemed to admire beautiful things just as she did. Myrcella caught his looks as various parts of the gardens seemed to catch his interest. They didn't get guests very often, so it was always interesting to watch other's reactions. The gardeners always worked their best and it showed! Each shrub and hedge was shaped beautifully. No branch was out of place.

Boy was she going to miss it....

Myrcella returned from her thoughts and sat herseld down at the table, folding her hands on top of it as she made herself comfortable. She then turned her full attention to Otto. "I am ready." And she was. Or maybe eager wasa better way of putting it.
 
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Otto von Stehlen

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Otto watched as the young girl seated herself, the stern expression never wavering. However Myrcella answers now will determine the direction that this lesson would go...and where Otto needed to impart his wisdom. Technically, there were no right or wrong answers...but some answer generally lasted longer then others.

"First scenario..." Otto began, as he turned about, beginning to pace about while looking at the ground. "...a noble from a neighboring province has arrived...he looks to sign a trade agreement with household, hoping to send your household food in exchange for some artisan products your people make...never mind weather that is true or not...let us say your lands are not too suitable for agriculture, yet the neighboring noble does indeed have fertile land and abundance of food products to spare...let it also be known that his lands are a buffer zone between your lands and those whom seek to make it theirs...leep that in mind, for when the noble lays down the terms, what questions must you ask at the negotiations table?"

The scenario was rather vague, but perhaps that was the point; to teach her how to think.
 
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Myrcella Bochanan

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Myrcella furrowed her brows as Otto von Stehlen began laying out the first scenario. It wasn't what she had expected, but then again she didn't really know what to expect. She nodded a little as she took the information in, trying to picture it all in her mind as she does when creating a new painting. Every piece had a part to play.

Now it was her turn to answer. Myrcella gave herself a dozen seconds or so to formulate her answer. And when she spoke, her gaze didn't waver away from him, even though his look still intimidated her.

"Does this other noble have plenty of guards to secure his lands? Or would it do me well to offer some of my own to protect his property and give us a longer reach to our enemies should they think to strike?"
 
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