Livia Pulchra slyly grinned as she saw the capital of the Kingdom of Mioya, Mardukane creep into view. She had only visited the city once before; when she was a young girl she had visited the coronation of King Shiro as a member of the Pulcher family’s delegation. This time, however, she wouldn’t be retrained to the grounds of the Palace, now she was free to do as she saw fit. Walking ahead of the slaves carrying her belongs, she was greeted by an elegant man, she recognized from the portraits in Lady Kaede Kamogawa’s estate.
“Lady Livia,” the man bowed his head as he spoke. “I am Hanno Kamogawa, 5th Duke of Aboricum, Privy Council Master to His Majesty King Shiro -- of course, I’m sure you know that.”
“Of course, Lord Hanno,” Livia said, bowing deeply.
“My sister has spoken very highly of you,” Hanno said, directing Livia to his large carriage.
“And she has spoken highly of you as well,” Livia lied. “I’m grateful for the help your family has afforded me.”
Now aboard the carriage and free from the rukus of the port, Livia more thoroughly observed the Duke who now sat across from her. He looked far younger than his age and his eyes seemed to hold a possessive power. His coat now displayed a far more vibrant red than had been visible under the bleaching force of the sun.
“I understand that you have secured a villa from which you’ll train your slaves,” Hanno said, breaking the silence. “It’s actually not far from the villa I use when my duties bring me to Mardukane, of course that is becoming more and more the case.”
“Surely, His Majesty is the better for it,” Livia said, relaxing. “The Royal Family needs the support the its more prominent Prince of the Blood.” The duke simply smirked.
“I’m sure you are tired from your voyage,” The Duke said while leaning forwards. “But we do have a very busy day if you are to begin your operations briskly. We need to get you to the guild hall to get you initiated.”
The guild hall loomed over most of the city from atop a hill overlooking the Bay of Bonds; the small island upon which the city’s slum was stacked was clearly visible from the many verandas of the guild hall, as was the heavily guarded bridge where every person, cart, and slave was carefully inspected to make sure that no filth infected the capital. Livia had long dreamed of the looming moment where she would become an true Slave Maker, in her youth she studied the lore of the guild rigorously; the names and great Slave Makers, such as Galba and Yamato; the market trends of the slave trade; how the building was the oldest in the city by two centuries were all everpreasent in her knowledge -- and now she was here.
The Slave Maker initiation rites has been considerably simplified over the prior century, especially as the guild had transitioned from quasi-religious order to the center of the Mioyan economy -- at least amongst the aristocracy. Nevertheless, the experience considerably invigorated Livia. Further, Livia had been gifted several slaves who would manage her household while she worked on her first commission; the famous, yet mysterious brothel matron known only as Miss N, had commissioned a slave to be trained for her brothel. This would be a good way to ease into her enterprise, Livia thought.
Next, Livia arrived at the Royal Palace to attend to courtly matters, despite the prominence of the Pulcher family, she was currently the only member of the family anywhere near Mardukane due to their more militaristic deposition. Despite this, Livia was fortunate to have only minimal obligations due to the period of peace the kingdom currently enjoyed; only having to make vague estimates of how quickly the Pulcher family could have the fleet stationed Dunmyre mobilized should war come. Of course, the official business of court was almost always irrelevant, the real reason to attend court was to bolster the prestige of one’s family. The Pulcher, despite their renown in war, had little other prestige. Just before Livia had left for the Capitol her cousin had reminded her to seek better fortune for the family and Livia planned for that to happen. Court was less of a congregation of the Kingdom’s political action and more of a social club for the richest Mioyans. She hadn’t even filed her report on the Dunmyre navy, but merely a peasant clerk who filed it away in a room with more cobwebs than Livia thought possible. Despite the King’s lack on involvement in the realm, Livia was still obligated to appear before him and reaffirm her Family’s loyalty to the Crown. When Livia stood before King Shiro she had to severely doubt her memory; the King she had remembered when she was a child was a fearsome warrior, the conqueror of the Elves, but this man, despite still being young clearly had no interest in life. Livia had known the death of the Queen had hurt King Shiro, but surely a man, no less the King, ought to muscle through.
“Your Majesty,” Livia said kneeling before the throne, such that her plump lips grazed against the marble floor. “I, Livia Pulchra, daughter of Fabian Pulcher, granddaughter of Appian Pulcher, 5th Marquis of Dunmyre, and Cousin of Publius Pulcher, 6th Marquis of Dunmyre, hereby swear upon the Gods of heaven and blood of my kin that the Pulcher Family shall remain loyal to you and your heirs and further, shall retain the lands of Dunmyre and the fleet station within its ports in your name and honor. And should the need arise, bleed such that your blood may remain unspilled.” King Shiro meekly moved his hand in something close to an acknowledgment upon which Livia rose, bowed again, and returned to the longue of court. After appearance before King Shiro, Hanno toured Livia around: she briefly spoke to Lady Farun, who liked sex too much for even Livia’s taste; Ambassador Tachiba from some city state republic Livia had never heard of; and a brief encounter with the Princess. Livia was immediately charmed by the princess and could tell they shared a passion for reckless hedonism; Livia also enjoyed the princess’ irreverence for titles.
“Please Livia,” The princess said moving her slightly curled blonde hair from her face. “Call me Emiko.”
“Of course,” Livia responded as the two young nobles walked through the Palace gardens, Hanno trailing behind engrossed in a debate with some unknown lord. “Once I get setup we should totally get together.”
“Absolutely,” Emiko gleamed as Livia stepped into Hanno’s carriage. As the carriage began to pull away from the palace and into the sunset, Livia couldn’t help but be intrigued by two women she saw sitting in the shade, one had dark black hair in a ponytail and had a sheathed katana resting besides her; the other, had long silver hair and was meticulously maintaining the naginata resting in her lap. Smirking, Livia thought of all the ways she would enjoy herself in the capital.