May as well keep it in the Danvers family.

Nathaniel and Harmony Danvers have been married (at the point of this exercise) for about 20 years. He works in construction - he's the junior partner of his company - and she does sewing, mending, etc. at home while the kids are in school.

5 years ago they left their home town with their 3 kids and drove to a new country, so he wouldn't be arrested for his political activism. They had to start over again in a new place, and it was by far the hardest challenge they faced.

But it wasn't the first. When they were dating, her family didn't much approve of him. She came from a fairly wealthy and prestigious family with strong historical roots; he was lower-middle class, and very political. Everyone tried to steer her to a more suitable husband, but she wouldn't be deterred even under threats and ultimatums.

So now, she's given up her family's wealth and her native land for him. He feels guilty about this sometimes, but she reminds him that the sacrifice was worth it to have him and the children. For his part, he treats her very well just because he loves her, not in an attempt to make up her losses.

To Nathaniel

1) Why did you have to leave politically? What did you do?

2) How much do you love your family?

3) How did you meet Harmony?

To Harmony

1) Do you agree with Nathaniel's views and actions politically?

2) How much do you love your family?

3) Was it hard to leave your wealth and home for Nathaniel?

Nathaniel:

  1. We lived in a region called Karlingsaw, in the Republic of Palissan. The Karlingsene people are ethnic minorities who have for centuries seen bad treatment at the hands of the Palissanic government. I was an advocate for greater autonomy for my people. The federal government didn't much like this but had bigger issues to deal with for the most part. But eventually some Karlingsene activists started calling for violence - I was not one of them, but I fell under enough suspicion that I was in very real danger of being arrested.
  2. I can't really quantify it, can I? But I am willing to die for my wife and our children. I am proud of my children and their accomplishments [n.b. his daughter will, when she grows up, play a major role in saving humanity, but he never finds out about this] and I would do anything for them.
  3. We grew up in the same fairly small town. We knew of each other - we went to different congregations of the same religion - but we didn't interact very much. But one summer in college I was doing some work on a property her family owned, we got to talking, and things turned romantic from there.

Harmony:

  1. I agree with the main issues he brings up. I love our native land and it needs to be treated better. I never had the passion that he did, but I married him knowing full well that as his wife I'd be at least partly involved. We disagreed on plenty of details, but that's normal.
  2. With all my heart. Nathaniel is a man I would go to the ends of the world for. And I know that he and I would both fight for our children. In my view they are the ultimate symbol of our love - they all get pats of their looks, and personalities, from both of us.
  3. Of course it was. My parents basically told me that if I married Nathaniel, not to expect any favors from them. Given that I went to college with the understanding that I could get a job with the family's company, that was a bit of a blow. And since we left Karlingsaw, they haven't shown any interest in visiting us here, or seeing their grandchildren. Well, their loss.

Nathaniel

1) What's the biggest disagreement you've had with Harmony?

2) How do you like where you live now?

3) What is your favorite aspect about Harmony?

Harmony

1) What's the biggest disagreement you've had with Nathaniel?

2) How do you feel about your old family now?

3) What's your favorite aspect of Nathaniel?

Nathaniel:

  1. How many kids to have. I wanted two, she wanted three. We were good with one of each. After much debate she finally agreed to stop at two. I had just enough time to celebrate my victory when the birth control failed. We'll have to tell Lana all of this when she's old enough to understand.
  2. We live in Hartlin City, which is about twice the size of Chezra (the city we left.) Dorland and Palissan are similar enough that the culture shock didn't kill us. And it's not a bad place to raise a family. The work is steady and there's just enough to do if you're creative, without being a big city.
  3. When that woman wants something done, then by gorr she's going to do it. Compromise may be possible, but just giving up isn't.

Harmony:

  1. Other than the "family size" one (and in case you're wondering, I played fair) we did have an argument about moving vs. expanding the house. Our place had 3 bedrooms, which meant our older daughter and younger daughter had to share while our middle boy got his own room. Our older daughter complained about how unfair this was - she was a teenager - and we decided to look at other options. I wanted to get a bigger place, but Nathaniel ultimately convinced me that it wasn't worth it. He built an addition and saved a huge amount of money.
  2. I still love them, but if they aren't willing to understand me, I can't bend over backwards for them. It would be easier for them to come visit us than for us to visit them, but they haven't made the effort. It's sad, but my immediate family comes first.
  3. The man is a hard worker. Like I said, he literally added a couple of rooms to the house, in his spare time, just so our teenage daughter could have her own room. He works hard at his job, and when he comes home every day he puts just as much time and energy into being with his family.

To both

1) What are your plans for the future?

2) What's your favorite memory of each other?

3) leas favorite?

  1. We don't have any grand plans or goals beyond what we've been doing. We are watching our children grow up (Mikela is 15, Peter is 12, Lana is 8) and we're excited to see the people they'll become. If the political situation in Karlingsaw changes, we may go back. But we might not; we've made a life here in Dorland, and our children have roots here.
  2. Our first night in the house we ended up buying in Hartlin City. None of our stuff had moved in yet so we were all in sleeping bags in the floor. But the kids were real troopers. We had sandwiches and cookies and stayed up late telling jokes.
  3. When we first realized how much trouble Nathaniel's work could get us into, we had a big fight about it. Harmony said that Nathaniel hadn't been taking our family into consideration, Nathaniel said that's exactly why he was so involved in politics. We eventually realized that whatever happened, we'd have to face it together.

Both

1) How do you think your kids feel about all of this?

Nathaniel

1) Describe more about your world to me. Your opinions are just as appreciated as facts.

2) Describe your family

Harmony

1) Describe the world from your POV

2) What's your family like?

  1. It was hardest for Mikela as she was the oldest. She was 10 when we left Karlingsaw and she's had trouble fitting in here. Of course, some of that might just be her personality. The other two had a hard time at first but they're young, they take it in stride.

Nathaniel:

  1. Well, let me give you some political background. The nations of Palissan and Dorland have been rivals for hundreds of years. There are cultural and political similarities which frankly made things worse - they were both expansionist and competing for the same territory. The Enarese people were eventually conquered by both nations and split up. About 30 years ago, Dorland and Palissan ended up fighting a war over them that led to the creation of an independent Enaroland.
  • Meanwhile, Karlingsaw is a region in Palissan that was founded by refugees from the Senarian Empire about 300 years ago. After Enaroland became free, a lot of people in Karlingsaw wanted independence or at least more autonomy. Unfortunately the political situation was not in our favor as it had been for them, so things didn't really improve.
  • My own family? I come from a line of blue collar workers. I started helping my dad and 3 older brothers build houses when I was a teenager. I went to a 2 year college (where I learned a lot about politics) but I always knew I'd go right back into construction. Which is fine by me.

Harmony:

  1. While my husband looks at the political side of things, let me tell you about our new country. Dorland is great because it provides a place for immigrants to thrive. It has always encouraged people with superpowers to immigrate and join the Royal Service (they do everything that you can do with a power) but they also took us in. And I know there are other countries where lots of people have powers, and where there are lots of cultures, but I love my new homeland.
  2. I come from a long line of wealthy Karlingsene property owners - the closest thing to aristocracy in our home town of Chezra. I am the second of four children, none of whom like Nathaniel very much.

To Nathaniel:

1) How did your family react to Harmony? Any worries, or did they like her?

2) Did you date anyone else before Harmony? 20 years is a long time!

To Harmony:

1) What kind of work did you want to go into, assuming you didn't meet Nathaniel?

2) Did you date anyone else before Nathaniel? Wealth and family values would have made you a catch to any lucky man!

To Both:

What was the wedding like? Any issues?

Nathaniel:

  1. They were worried at first that she'd be a snob, but after spending a little time with them they came to love her.
  2. I'd dated before, but nothing serious. She was my first and only love.

Harmony:

  1. My family owns a lot of property. I would have ended up managing some of it - rentals, farmland, you name it. Not terrible work but I like the life I have now.
  2. I'd had a few boyfriends. I think I'm lucky - all the guys I dated were good people, and I'm left with fond memories, but I learned that they were not what I was looking for.

Both:

It was on the cheap/informal side of things. We were married in a Quintessentialist church, with immediate family members in attendance, then we had a small garden reception afterwards. Harmony's family had the sense to keep their disapproval to themselves, although we suspect that they were convinced it wouldn't last and they'd get to do a "proper" ceremony the second time around.

Nathaniel Danvers is a Karlingese autonomist.

Karlingsaw is a region within the Palissanic Republic that was settled by outsiders, and has always had an uneasy relationship with the rest of the country. Karlingsene separatists and rebels have shown up over the 300 years or so since Karlingsaw was settled, and there have been the occasional bloodshed. (Particularly when the Karlingsene militias largely chose the losing side in the Civil War.)

After another region of Palissan gained independence in the Enarese War, the call for change in Karlingsaw increased. There were two main groups: the separatists, who want an independent Karlingsaw; and the autonomists, who simply want the region to form its own province and have greater control over its laws and such.

Nathaniel is a moderate autonomist; he truly believes that real change can be made through the political process and that actual violence should be an absolute last resort. Then - at the time of this exercise - he is put under suspicion from the federal police, and forced to flee into exile, taking his family with him.

To Nathaniel: 1) Has being put under suspicion to the extent that you and your family fled changed your stance as moderate autonomist?

2) Are these federal police so bad that it necessitated fleeing with your who family?

3) Is the government treating autonomists as badly as seperatists?

4) Is there any dialogue happenning between the government and these political movements?

  1. I become less moderate over time, although frankly I also become much less of an activist over time. When my family and I arrive in Dorland, we decide we may as well make the best of it, and make our home there. I'm still involved in some of the politics - I write a few essays and such - but not the day-to-day such. And the whole thing convinces me that my previous approach was too naive, although violence still seems like a bad idea.
  2. The problem was, I wasn't actually breaking any laws. Free speech is protected in Palissan, even for anti-government groups. But the Federal Security Force (FSF) has a bit of a reputation. They'd find something that they could convince a jury that I had done. Individuals linked to Karlingsene activism had performed acts of violence, and they could draw a link to me even though I wasn't involved. It was enough that I could easily end up with serious jail time. And I took my family not only because I want to be where they are, but because if they stayed the government could use them against me.
  3. Certain elements within the government dislike us more than others. The FSF has been fighting a sort of shadow war against any level of political dissent, and they haven't bothered to make a distinction. As far as they were concerned, I was loudly proclaiming that the government needed to change its Karlingsene policies, and that was enough. They are perhaps remembering the history of the Enarese question, when the separatists gained the upper hand, turned to violence, and sparked what was essentially a 3-way war.
  4. The territory and people of Karlingsaw are divided between two states, and we're a minority in both. The National Congress has some members (including the congressional representatives from those states) who are sympathetic to us, but it would be political suicide to openly recognize even the Center for a Fair Tomorrow, the group to which I belong.

To Nathaniel: 1) Given the cost and outcome of the Enarese question, do you think that the Karlingsene are likely to achieve any positive result within your lifetime?

2) Do you think an unrelated political schism in the government provide fertile ground for seperatist/autonmist movements to gain support?

3) Would your group support an effort to create such a distraction/opportunity if it couldn't be traced back to you?

  1. Palissan lost territory and lives in the war, but also gained some Dorlese territory. So whether it was a bad outcome or not depends entirely on who you ask. We had hoped that if nothing else, the government would treat us better before we went the way of Enaroland, but so far they don't seem willing.
  2. Dangerous question. About 200 years ago a group of republicans tried to overthrow the king; this led to a massive civil war. Most Karlingsenes sided with the royalists because they thought the king would win, and reward us for our loyalty. Neither one happened, and the victorious republicans were not pleased. So we'd be wary of trying it again.
  3. I don't think anyone has moral objections to such a strategy, but it would almost certainly backfire. After all, if the FSF can blame us for things we didn't do, it would be easy to blame us for stuff we did do.
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