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A Palace of Music

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A Palace of Music

Take one widowed Emperor of Achkaerin and mix him with one musical theatre star turned actress and what do you get? Some would say 'Penee' others 'Renter'. This is the story of the Emperor of Achkaerin Peter Azurewind and the new woman in his life Renee Sandiego, they live together they go to international events together they examine problems together, they've even got to the point where Renee is teaching musical theatre and drama lessons inside the Marble Palace, but are they really 'together?' well there's only one way to find out.

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Table of Contents

A Regular Morning
The Last Daughter
The New Car
The Most Wonderful Time of Year
Snowflakes, Songs and Something More
Off On An Adventure
Final Acceptance
Before A Storm
The Sticky Wicket
Renee's First Meeting
Game On
Visiting Hours
All Journey's Begin With A Single Step
The Vow
Rolling the Dice
New Year, New Resolution
Reality Check
Dinner with Daničle
The Red Snowflake
Holiday Planning
Another Day Another Crisis Another Flag
The Interview
The Coming Dawn
In Memoriam

A Regular Morning

It was just another regular morning in the Marble Palace, everyone up and about early with Peter typically being one of the last to get up, not that he was lazy or anything it just seemed that he hadn't inherited the early bird gene that the rest of the family had. He got up, checked the calendar on his phone and after seeing that he didn't have any official engagements that day he dressed accordingly in this case throwing on a pair of jeans a t-shirt and a jumper. He walked down the staircase and found his daughter Serenity and a member of the household, the royal mechanic, Vicky Atkinson stood at the foot of the stairs deep in conversation, both seemingly keen about whatever they were discussing.

"What the heck's got you two so hyped that you've forgotten to have breakfast?" Peter asked
"We've already had breakfast Dad." Serenity said
"That doesn't answer my question." Peter said
"Serenity's pitching me her dream car." Vicky said
"Young lady of many talents are you?" Peter asked
"We'll see Peter." Vicky said
"Now aren't you glad I told you to use the old stables as your workshop?" Peter asked remembering when he'd hired Vicky, she'd been resistant to that idea wanting to stick to the garage.
"Yes." Vicky said, Peter chuckled as he walked away heading for his own breakfast but then what did he expect when a petrol head and gadget girl were stuck together? Though he suspected the Royal Counsel would be getting involved at some point especially if whatever the two girls conjured up was meant to be driven on the roads as opposed to the track.

Peter hadn't gotten much further before he came across his fiance Renee, she was busy finishing some toast and reading what appeared to be a script.
"Trust?" Peter asked reading the title of whatever it was.
"Film script came with the post." Renee said "Dean sent it with this email." Dean being her agent, she handed Peter the email.
"Surely it's a bit soon for this." Peter said as he read it
"Apparently not." Renee said "Personally I think the producer's gunning for the odd Ozzie."
"Hang on they want you to play her?" Peter asked
"Potentially the most challenging role I've ever had." Renee said "What do you think?"
"Do it." Peter said "It's a film if it causes a diplomatic row let it, it's just a film. And we've got bigger fish to fry than that."
"Thanks." Renee said she kissed him on the cheek "Now I've got a class in ten minutes."
"I think I heard the University Bus pulling up a minute ago." Peter said
"I still can't believe you let me do this." Renee said

If Peter was honest at times he found it amazing himself the idea that the Marble Palace was used as a teaching space for Renee's classes at the Royal University of Music where she taught musical theatre and drama was simply staggering, but it worked great. He continued on his way to the family kitchen and found his chief of staff Kumiko Arkwright and the junior Royal Counsel Eve Acheson sat finishing their breakfasts while at the other end of the table his foreign affairs adviser Nettie Taylor and Royal Press Secretary Hannah Cartwright sat side by side working on something which Peter guessed was the Foreign Affairs and Defence Policy Review, something that had become Nettie's first major project in Peter's employ. Also present was Peter's sister Esme

"Hit me Kumiko what do we have today?" Peter asked as he made himself some toast and sorted out an orange juice
"Not an awful lot." Kumiko said "Silver Fox Fort want confirmation of the planned exercises in the Great Northern Ocean."
"Those the ones where Vaguzia are going to get a surprise or two?" Peter asked
"Well if the new stuff's what Riviere says it is yes." Kumiko said "Though it's the surprise some other nations may be getting I'm interested in."
"How will it play in Pyrena Nettie?" Peter asked
"You'll probably get a phone call asking to sell them some." Nettie said
"Maybe we should say that one of them's been stalking one of their precious battleships for a few weeks." Hannah said
"Don't tempt me." Peter said with a wry smile "Ok Kumiko next."

"Michaelmas." Kumiko said "Who are we sending?"
"That'll be you Peter given that you're the one who holds the Christian title." Esme said "And as she's a Christian in the family maybe take Ashleigh along."
"Wait a minute." Nettie said looking at Peter "You hold a Christian title?"
"During the war when the Abydonian Empire tried to invade Vanora our grandfather took a stand and sent troops to defend Vanora, we fought them for years first from the saddle and then in tanks as warfare evolved. The Duke of Vanora was so grateful at the end of the war that he conferred a special title upon our grandfather, and it's been passed down ever since." Esme said
"Then me and Ashleigh it is." Peter said "Though see if the Oracle would care to come along as well."
"Ok." Kumiko said

"Any word on Viktoriya?" Peter asked
"Still in a coma." Kumiko said
"So Besarian's running the place?" Peter asked
"For the moment." Eve said
"And the legal position?" Peter asked
"As long as she's in a coma Viktoriya's still Queen she's just unable to discharge her duties which is where Besarian comes in, but if she dies then the election of a new Queen is held." Eve said
"What do we do if she dies?" Nettie asked
"Well first you send whoever you're appointing as Prefect of Albion in there to express our condolences." Peter said "And then we see what happens but it'd be an absolute waste of a life if she dies."


Music drifted through the corridors of the Marble Palace it was late morning and the sun was just creeping through the clouded sky, the sound was Nettie sat at the grand piano in the Marble Palace's ballroom, playing away. She finished the piece and was greeted by the sound of applause from the doorway she looked up and saw Serenity stood there.
"I didn't know you played." Serenity said
"You never asked." Nettie said "How long have you been stood there?"
"Long enough." Serenity said, Nettie went red with embarrassment

"Did you want something?" Nettie asked
"It's the review later today." Serenity said "I want you to do it."
"You want me to go up in front of the camera's and talk through Achkaerin foreign and defence policy?" Nettie asked
"Isn't it about time people knew where you work these days?" Serenity asked
"I guess but..." Nettie said
"This reviews your baby you've put the work in, so shouldn't you be the one who gets to deliver it?" Serenity said
"All right." Nettie said

"So tell me." Serenity said, placing the folder of the review materials on the top of the piano and then taking a seat on the piano stool next to Nettie and smiling "Do you know this one?" she started playing and after a chuckle Nettie joined in the duet.

(borrowing a historic character for a cameo and intro story)

The Last Daughter

It was a reasonably good morning in Gowu, the birds were singing, the leaves were falling from the tree's as autumn turned towards winter, for Peter it was a rather special visit, he'd come down to Gowu for the sword ceremony of his goddaughter's girlfriend, it was something he'd never witnessed but that was beside the point it was important to the two girls and that was what mattered. Peter also had another reason for coming down to Gowu it was to visit someone. He parked up and walked the short distance to the ground floor flat that was his destination. He rang the bell and waited for around half a minute before it opened.

"What are you doing here?" the girl who'd opened the door asked
"Nice to see you to Daničle." Peter said the girl was Daničle Aveline the heir to the Duchy of Aquitaine, the last of her family and now an eighteen year old girl, she was a girl Peter viewed very much as if she were one of his daughters "Can I come in?"
"Sure." Daničle said, she opened the door fully and let Peter in "Drink?"
"Cup of tea I think." Peter said
"You always say that." Daničle said closing the door behind them.

Daničle's flat was a small modest thing - a bedroom, kitchen/lounge area and a bathroom. She went to the kitchen area and started the kettle off making Peter's tea.
"How's the studying?" Peter asked
"It's going well." Daničle said, though the disorganized state of the living area as evidenced by the mountain of opened textbooks spoke differently about that, she was studying Aeronautical Engineering at the Achkaerin Open University, this was an online university which brought education out to the people in a much more accessible way, Peter also noted that on the basis of a pause screen on her computer that he had actually interrupted Daničle's studying that morning.

"I thought you should know." Peter said "The Cartier report comes back tomorrow."
"That's taken year and a half hasn't it?" Daničle asked she handed Peter his cup of tea.
"Thanks." Peter said "Pretty much." this was about a CTO Resolution that was about investigating the conduct of General Sebastian Cartier during the Marseilles conflict.
"Any hint of which way it'll go?" Daničle asked now sipping a drink of lemonade
"None." Peter said "One of the things you'll have to get used to is keeping out of due legal processes."

Daničle stifled a giggle with a glance at Peter, the pair were leaning against the kitchen units
"When you walked through that door two years ago and told me who I really was, I never imagined we'd get to a moment like this." she said "I thought I'd spend my life living in exile I never thought I'd have to think about stuff like this. And then Cartier..."
"Went and declared Aquitaine by military force." Peter said "Triggering a chain of events that got its independence recognized. Take my advice?"
"Always have" Daničle said
"If he's acquitted tomorrow offer him his job back." Peter said "You're going to need people like him."
"And if the report recommends prosecution?" Daničle asked
"Visit him." Peter said "He's the man who orchestrated saving your life eighteen years ago. You owe him that much."
"I do don't I." Daničle said
"And if I may make one other suggestion." Peter said
"Go on." Daničle said
"Our ambassador to Lodja, you know Emalet Silvermist has told me there's a ball there tonight, George is going - he was planning on taking Amelia but the CMA may be getting busy and Achkaerin hasn't left the CTO yet..." Peter said
"You want me to go?" Daničle asked
"It would be good for you to get to know Aquitaine's neighbors, it's Lodja, it's a party and you can get used to being who you are." Peter said
"Which dress do you think?" Daničle asked
"How about the red and gold one Amelia made you for your birthday?" Peter asked
"Next you'll be telling me you arranged the flight." Daničle said
"Actually I did." Peter said "So get packed."

The New Car

This was something that Serenity had always known was going to have to happen but she'd not thought it would happen so soon, however with Lisa back in her life and family it was now official, the petrolhead Crown Princess of Achkaerin was now in the market for a standard school run car, especially since there was every reason to believe she'd be transporting her nieces as well as Lisa. So here Serenity was with Lisa and the Royal Mechanic Vicky Atkinson parking up outside a car dealership in one of Serenity's cars.

"You realize you and that Premier Musashi have caused a bit of a social media storm?" Vicky asked as the three of them got out of the car.
"Really I hadn't noticed." Serenity said
"Like you don't check your twitter feed." Vicky said "You have seen all the bragging going on about FOURWHEEL?"
"I prefer to let my cars do the talking." Serenity said "Though I'm glad to have sparked some interest."
"Says the person who used to sneak out of the Palace and go racing." Vicky said
"Who told you about that?" Serenity asked
"Your Dad." Vicky said

"Good afternoon." the car dealer said when the three of them walked in, he was looking at some paperwork then he glanced up and saw who it was and after a moment of shock corrected himself "Your Highness. What can I do for you?"
"I'm looking for a family car." Serenity said
"We have many options there." the dealer said "Right this way."

Over the next hour the dealer, no doubt anxious about the identity of his customer showed Serenity numerous possibilities, but it was when they came to the Juke that things got interesting.
"I like this one." Lisa said as the three of them looked around it
"So do I." Serenity said she half smiled
"Pretty decent car this." Vicky said, she was reading the spec sheet "A real hot hatch." Serenity's phone buzzed so she walked away a bit to see what it was, a twitter alert she brought up the tweet and sighed
"Vicky." Serenity said
"Yeah?" Vicky asked as Serenity went back over she saw the look in Serenity's eyes "I know that look."
"How much quicker do you think we can get this thing?" Serenity asked she showed Vicky the tweet on her phone.
"Why?" Vicky asked she looked quizzical for a moment then " can't be serious."
"I could turn up with practically anything I've got and beat a Bugatti over a quarter mile." Serenity said "But most gearheads and petrolheads know this because they know the fundamental flaw of the Bugatti, it's too heavy and its four wheel drives bogs the car down off the line. Added to which over a quarter mile the Bugatti will never reach the point of a speed advantage. So am I crazy?"
"Quite possibly." Vicky said "But I'd love to see this. Buy it."
"We'll take it." Serenity said turning to the dealer.

About an hour later they had the Juke in what was termed Serenity's garage up at the Marble Palace, basically it was the old stables.
"What are you doing?" Lisa asked
"We're going to make this car better." Serenity said "Do you want to help?"
"Yeah." Lisa said
"Thoughts?" Vicky asked
"Supercharge the engine for more power, lighten it, change the tires." Serenity said "Maybe respray it."
"You know we did start out today looking to buy a school run car." Vicky said
"It'll still be a school run car." Serenity said "Just one with a bit of a reputation."
"It'll need a name." Vicky said
"Julie Juke." Lisa said
"That'll do." Serenity said "Just don't tell the Ironsides I've named a car."
"My lips are sealed." Vicky said


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