Alexandra watched her mother bustle about, instructing various servants in what tasks must be completed before the April forum and Alexandra’s wedding to Herulf von Corvinus. After all these years spent learning at her mother’s side, she was still in awe of just how confident her mother could be. She knew she would do well to emulate that confidence, even if, at the moment, Alexandra was as uncertain as she had been in a long time.
It wasn’t as though she was unhappy with the marriage match that had been made-far from it, in fact. She had long since accepted that a love match like her parents’ was almost certainly out of the question, and had prepared herself for quite some time that her future husband may well be a stranger on their wedding day. That the match had been made to someone that she actually knew and conversed with, a man that had escorted her on the road between Stromberg and Stragosa, that was a pleasant surprise. It was a happy bonus that she had, thus far and within the boundaries of the sort of arms-length interactions that were appropriate for unmarried people of their standing, found his company pleasant enough, even if, at times, she worried that she came off as far too frivolous for an experienced Gothic military commander. The idea that her soul and his would soon be as one hadn’t fully set in-she knew it was true, and the time was drawing near, but the concept that Lord von Corvinus would soon be her husband, that at some point she ought to become comfortable with using his given name in conversation hadn’t quite solidified in her mind. She supposed she ought to come to terms with the idea before she embarrassed herself by acting like a timid, silly child.
No, it was the prospect of the change in her role in life, no longer an inexperienced maiden, still learning the ropes of rulership in this strange and wild place, but truly an adult, a wife, and, God willing, before long a mother. She suspected, based on comments from both her mother and her betrothed, that her time in Stragosa was likely going to be coming to an end sooner rather than later-but wasn’t entirely sure what her new role would be, what exactly she would be doing or even where she would be doing it, other than continuing to prepare to one day inherit her father’s countship and working to continue to raise her house’s reputation in the Throne.
But before that, the wedding. The wedding itself was hardly a minor detail. “Never forget, the feast is as much a battlefield as any other.” The words her father had written to her over a year ago now weighed heavily on Alexandra’s mind as she began to consider the details of her upcoming wedding. So many people were all too dismissive of the idea of the power of events and the symbols that made up most of them, but the lessons she had been learning for her entire life told her an entirely different story. This wedding, for example. Every little detail would mean something, whether or not it was intentional. It was unavoidable in the world of noble politics. Alexandra knew, on the one hand, that it would be wise to plan for her Stragosa wedding to be on the austere side-to do anything else would be callous in the face of all who had suffered so greatly in the time since the necromancer made its play for Stragosa and the dead began terrorizing the people. She accepted this, and couldn’t even bring herself to feel saddened at the idea, knowing that her house was planning a grand formal wedding for later in the year in North Pass to celebrate the new alliance. But she also knew just as keenly that to fail to honor the marriage and the alliance it signaled in a way that wasn’t worthy of the standing of both houses would be to undermine it. Perhaps, then, the wise course would be to find some way to make the occasion one that may also bring joy to others, some sort of representation of the joy of two people uniting in the eyes of God. A solemn celebration of duty to God and Empire.
Even the details of her dress would matter, she thought. No, not just the dress on the day of her wedding, whether the small celebration in Stragosa or the grand one in North Pass. How she chose to dress, to wear her hair, to carry herself could signal so much from this day forward. She must show the maturity and strength she had gained in her time in Stragosa, for any show of weakness would be a tool to be used against her and her house. But she had also worked so hard to find a way to relate to the common people that she had found herself surrounded by, and knew that this, too, would be valuable for her future. She must show appropriate sobriety and seriousness for the sensibilities of her betrothed’s Gothic house, to demonstrate a commitment to being as one soul with him, but she must absolutely not allow anyone to think that she considered herself something other than Rogalian. The politics around the match and the Pactum Domini were far too volatile for anything else.
Such uncertainty would not do, she knew. It was not fitting for a highborn woman. So she watched her mother, hoping to learn all those little details she must master in the coming weeks. There was much work to be done.