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“And that one?” Blackwood jerked his chin at the woman who swept into the room just moments before.

“Oh, you do have a good eye,” Blackwood’s companion Sir Reginald Hanson took a sip of his champagne. “That is the ever-mysterious Queen of Fortuna; not like you and I and the rest of this lot, my friend,” Hanson said. “No, she is the godmother of Princess Roma, no less, and the Anam Cara of the Emperor himself, if you can believe it.”

Blackwood gave a thoughtful sound something like a "Hmm...” He wasn’t really listening to Hanson at this point, but rather watching the lovely creature across the room.

Even among the obvious pomp and glittering array that was the Boukunian Court, Augustine Henri Chaubert, Lord Blackwood could not help but be a little impressed. There was a willowy grace about the petite woman that was near the centre of the room. The midnight blue, almost black watered silk gown that she wore made her regal enough even without the jewellery of obvious Sidhe manufacture that she wore. Her dark hair had been arranged carefully and left her neck and shoulders exposed, causing Blackwood to lick his lips in wolfish anticipation.

She moved through the Boukunian Court and its guests and took a seat near the Imperial dais that was to the right of the throne. ‘Yes,’ Blackwood thought, ‘she did have some importance here. That would prove useful.’ Even as she interacted with the court, there was a certain distance to her demeanor. Perhaps the rumours of the Fortunan Queen choosing to remove herself from the Imperial Court had been true afterall. 'But why?' Blackwood wondered.

“I want an introduction to her, “he said simply. Hanson was aghast, nearly choking on his drink. “An introduction? Blackwood, my boy, I‘ve not even been formally introduced to the woman myself! What makes you think I can get past her guards or the Emperor's?”

“Well, then I guess I could do it myself,” he shrugged and goaded his friend with a feigned sigh.

‘Oh?”

“Yes, I am a Lord after all, not to mention an Aedept. The entire Order would be quite envious if they knew I was within gazing distance of Faelyn Gan Ceanach. Imagine their astonishment to know that I met her personally.”

“The Order mucky-mucks would most likely swallow their faces,” Hanson remarked wryly. "And If you get her to dance with you, Blackwood, then I promise I shall never question your abilities ever again."

“Really?” Blackwood grinned. “That alone would be an astonishing development," he said. "You may cling to you doubts, old boy, “ he patted Hanson's lapel, all the while continuing his discreet observations of the Queen of Fortuna, "but I will raise you and say that I will not only gain my introduction but in fact will fill the majority of her dance card for the entire event." This was just too delicious a proposition for Blackwood to pass up, and particularly interesting to him were the lady’s connections to the Emperor.

He abandoned Hanson and hovered closer and closer, mingling with members of the court, both those whom he knew and those whom he didn’t. After a suitable space of time there was at last very little distance between himself and the object of his curiosity. The distance of ten feet was respectful and could not have been construed as overly familiar. For one instant, he managed to catch the gaze of the Fortunan Monarch. Large, dark almond-shaped eyes shone back at him. Their depths were as impenetrable as the deepest night sky. Legends spoke of how she caused France’s most cold-blooded assassin to lay his heart at her feet. Within those eyes, Blackwood saw magic, mystery and power. It was those three things that were at the very core of his being.

Blackwood inclined his head and neck in a slight bow, but never averted his eyes. In acknowledgement, she curled her fingers, one after the other in a beckoning motion. He was being summoned. Somewhere behind him, Blackwood could have sworn he heard Hanson slap his forehead in utter disbelief.

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