Just listening in on the three Kings, one of the the Emperor, discussing the Empress's matter and the Imperial Line of Sucession, was very educational for Marcus since everybody was making more or less reasonable arguments for his cause.
The Emperor for example initially wanted the Empress's and her lover's heads and her boys join the Abysswatchers but after just two rounds of arguments was already able to settle with the Empress turn concubine, Sir James's head and the 'imperial' heirs expulsion for the line of succession.
As such the Western King's verbal prowess shined brightly even though the fault lay on his side. In that regard, the Emperor's verbal weakness became blatantly obvious and the King in the North had started to argue on his behalf.
-Honor can be a fault after all...- Marcus thought, as the three man eventually settled on the following. First of, the Empress's would remain Empress but would be 'Educated' in the Teachings of the Deep Healing Church. Second of Sir James would lose his title of knight and be banished to the Western Kindgom and death would he ever leave it. Third and most important for Marcus, all 'heirs' including Princess Cyrilla were struck from the line of succession and to be married of in a years time.
At that point, Marcus graciously volunteered to marry Lady Cyrilla. His bad reputation comming in handy, since the Emperor was out to get revenge on his former Empress and even King Westborn was out to punish his own daughter. Only the Northern King looked slightly uncomfortable but didn't dare to disagree since the negotiation already had taken more than eight hours.
"I never took you for an opportunistic man, Sir Strong..." Stated Tristan Westborn on their way back to his manor. "... What made you want my granddaughter?"
"Heirs." Replied Marcus without no further explanation.
"Well, I guess any man wants to leave a legacy for his descendants..." Commented the Wester King before he stated. "... But I can't have my only granddaughter married to a knight with only a keep, even if she was fathered by incest."
Seeing that his time had come to ask for a reward, Marcus told the man. "I have two possible solutions for that, if you hear me out, my king..."
"Oh, really?!..." Asked Tristan only now noticing the intelligent look in his most loyal knight's eyes. "... Then let me hear it and judge your solutions!"
Unable to hide a smart smile from appearing on his face, Marcus started to explain."Thank you my king. Did you hear that..."
An hour later, Cyrilla was ordered by her grandfather to accompany her mother for dinner at Westhall the Western King's home away from home in the capital. Seeing her mother's disturbed face when entering the carriage, she knew that the Empress had bitterly seeped before and now was keeping herself just barely composed.
Despite growing up in a gilded cage, Cyrilla was fully aware of the nature of her mother's relationship to her husband and her ambiguous relationships with her uncle. So she asked her mother. "Did father hit you again or fucked another whore?"
"Both, but neither made me sad..." Celestine replied, her face an emotionless mask. "... Your Grandfather met today with the Emperor and the King in the North..."
"What does that mean?..." Asked Cyrilla before she started to put two and two together. "... Did they chose a husband for me?"
"Yes, I think they did and I suspect it to be the Lord of Windhelm..." Repleid Celestine, a single cold tear escapiing er left eye that now ran down her cheek.
Confused, Cyrilla asked. "Didn't the Lord of Windhelm die recently without any heirs?"
"Yes, he did. But today the Emperor named a new Lord of Windhelm and I suspect that they are making Lord Strong your husband..." Explained the Empress just in time to start crying. Smudging her expensive makeup, Celestine stated with a brave but sad expression. "... But that will not happened if I have anything to say in that, believe me."
Taking a handkerchief from a smartly placed pocked in her dress, Cyrilla whipped away her mother's tears while staing. "I believe in you, but..."
"No, BUT..." Stopped Celestine her daughter from speaking, as they had already reached Westhall her father's grand manor in the capital that was lavishly decorated with gold to display their family's wealth. "... You will not marry that butcher end become his third bride."
That said, mother and daughter left their carriage and were led inside by the the manor's old steward. Despite being warned by many fires, to Cyrilla the entire place felt cold and unyielding somehow.
Led through long winding corridors, the two woman soon entered the huge dining hall and found the King in the West drinking some scotch while coldly eyeing the Empress.
Friendly smile in place Celestine greeted the man. "You have sent for us, father..."
"That I did..." Lazily stated the old man, whose wealth was unrivalled in the empire and possible even outside of it. "... Now sit!"
Unable to refuse her grandfather's order, Cyrilla at down on one side of the long table and pulled her trembling mother with her.
"How are you doing Grandfather? We didn't expect you to come to the capital so soon." Asked the young princess that didn't know that she was a princess no more.
"You will be married to Lord Strong in a weeks time..." Was all King Westborn told her before he coldly pointed adressed his daughter the now former Empress. "... I will have not even a word you... Not in light of the mess you've made!"
"What did mother do?" Asked Cyrilla timidly as to not enrage her grandfather by question his decision.