It was the Church’s idea of the smoke filled backroom.
The men (and thanks to Perseveance’s time as Regent) women of the College of Bishops were milling about in their ridiculous hats and robes. There were ancient traditions and hidden meanings connected to every facet of the vestments. These were all very important for some reason. Not that these reasons could be explained to the laity without making the laity laugh so it was better to keep things mysterious. There was a definite nervous energy to this little group hug. A lot of those present were chatting a little too amiably about nothing in particular. Smiles were just a bit wide. Fingers were a bit too jittery.
A choir chanted distantly and unobtrusively in the background.
Earl, the Earl of Paulo-Petram (not that he had set foot in that godawful place in years) was in his element. Smoothly working the room. Deftly shaking hands and (when necessary) kissing rings. There was an art to both. A way of letting people know either way where they stood with him and reminding them how much they owed them or for that matter telling a select few how far into hock he was willing to go for them. And Earl’s credit was good, he always paid his debts to the last jot and tittle, even his worst enemies granted him that one. Earl and Perseverance, never forget.
His smile was warm and his eyes twinkled. His head nodding had real distinction. His eyes always sparkled when he held someone’s hand and there was never a doubt in that person’s mind that he was the most important person in Earl’s world at that point. If there was a single person in the room who didn’t like Earl at least a little, they were lying a lot.
Unless of course they really and truly hated him. That happened a lot too but…things always seemed to happen to those men and now (of course,) women. Earl was a Progressive.
Truthfully, Earl loved the process more than the actual result. Yes, the reforms that he and Perseverance were trying to push through were important. Vitally important in fact… Whatever they were at the moment. But this was the part that he really relished. The chase. The thrill of the hunt. And the kill.
“So, golf on Saturday Ned?” Earl asked.
“Make it Sunday Earl, it’s my only day off,” the older man in the mitre replied.
Earl used his number 3 understanding nod, (comradely understanding and approval of privileges accrued to the elite that the filthy general populace would neither understand nor approve of).
A staff rapped on the stone floor ritually, three times.
Everyone began shuffling to their benches. Earl moved to a high chair outside the conclave next to his wife.
As he settled down next to Princess Perseverance, he heard her grumble, “Well?”
He inhaled briefly and held it. The bitch was about to bitch. “I can guarantee sixty percent.”
She hissed like snake that had been stepped on.
“It’s better than fiftyone percent, Persey,” Earl said with a tired sigh. He knew where this was going. “And that was all we ever needed, in the first place.”
“I need to be able to say, I have a two thirds majority to make this look legitimate,” she said through clenched teeth.
“Look legitimate to who, Persey?” He asked. “We’re about to usurp the throne, there are always going to be a one or two people that will question the legitimacy of that.”
Perseverance sniffed, “it’s because I’m a woman.”
Earl bit his tongue. It really wouldn’t help things if he said something along the lines of, ‘no it’s because you’re an evil drunken, power mad, brain damaged, gorgon. Hell, there are days I don’t want you on the throne either.’ But instead he just went with, “well we are about to take care of that aren’t we.”
Something that was as close to a smile as she could possibly manage, crossed her lips.
After the invocation was made, Cardinal Grayson himself called on Perseverance to stand.
She shrugged off her shawl and stepped forward, rather enjoying a few shocked gasps. She was already dressed as a man.