Of Etiquette and Embassies (Feb 2003)

Renee Gunn and Dana Terry

M'lissa sent off a transmission to Midalah just as a knock sounded on the door to the guest quarters she was using in the palace on Shardakour. "Come in," she called.

Her aide, Telyn Saffir, entered with a polite bow. "Good morning, m'lady."

"Good morning, Telyn."

Telyn kept a frown from her face at the informal greeting. "How was your evening, m'lady?"

"It was very pleasant, how was your evening?"

"Uneventful." She looked at M'lissa. "If you have time, we should review the events of yesterday."

"Certainly. I just finished a transmission to Midalah, so I have plenty of time now." She motioned to a nearby chair, which Telyn took, sitting primly.

"So where shall we start?" M'lissa asked, watching her with a smile.

Telyn eyed her. "Forgive me for being forward, but... what were you thinking when you stood in front of the Shardakouran court?"

"Offering the opinion of an outside, and more open-minded, observer," she said. "Was I wrong?"

"Your highness, there are times and places for outside opinions. Nebula is merely a trading partner, not a member of the Shardakour Confederation."

"Perhaps, but they seemed to have no issues with what I said or my standing up to speak." M'lissa said, "So no true harm done, right?"

"This time, your highness," Telyn said in a voice that reflected her disbelief with how casual M'lissa was about the situation.

"So what are you suggesting?" M'lissa asked sincerely.

Telyn shook her head. "The information I sent to you on Shardakour detailed just how formal this society is, m'lady. Surely you must understand just how important it is to abide by these same formalities."

"Of course I understand. Are you suggesting that next time I speak only if spoken to?"

"Or at least ask for recognition," Telyn said.

"All right, I will attempt to hold my tongue when in court and in formal situations unless I am asked my opinion or such."

"And even in so-called information situations," Telyn told her. "Again, please forgive my forwardness, but... there are times to let your hair down... with the queen of Shardakour, after court, that was not the time."

"You mean, when I removed my shoes?" the princess asked. "I assumed it was okay, several others seemed to follow."

"Assumptions, your highness, will cause only difficulty here. More kept their shoes on - and did not make note of the fact that they run around barefoot at home." Telyn carefully keeps disapproval from her voice. "There are times to volunteer such personal information. That was not it."

M'lissa nodded, "Alright, I will try to behave. Is there anything else that you would advise against?"

"Observe, my lady, and learn from those more experienced in this arena than you."

"But at the same time we don't want to seem unfriendly? How do you balance such strictness with openness?"

"Openness?" Telyn looked at her. "You're a politician. Surely you know that being open is not the best way of things." She sat forward. "There is a difference between being open and sharing too much."

"It depends on the situation and how open one is." M'lissa sighed, "I will be more careful with my actions while here in the future."

"I would not want to see you in any difficulty."

"I know, Telyn, and I appreciate that." M'lissa nodded, rethinking through the past days. "I'll need you to draw up a contract of sorts for when we are able to finalize the embassy on Nebula."

"Of course, the preliminary paperwork is well underway," Telyn said archly.

"Good." M'lissa smiled. "Thank you for keeping me on track."

"You're quite welcome." Telyn returned the smile.

"So what's on the agenda for today? More negotiations and dinners?"

Telyn nodded. "And then more negotiations."

"All right. I think I'll take a walk before they start."

"Of course. Enjoy it, your highness," the aide said.

"Would you like to come with me?"

"No, thank you, your highness. I have reports to work on."

"Remember, Telyn," M'lissa cautioned, "work is good, but you should get some leisure time in."

"When work is done."

"Sometimes work never seems to be done so you have to make time."

"I'll keep that in mind."

M'lissa rose to her feet. "Well, I will see you in negotiations, Telyn."

"Enjoy your walk, your highness." Telyn rose to bid M'lissa farewell.

"Thank you," M'lissa said as she left the room, leaving Telyn to return to her temporary 'office' to continue her work.

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