Queen Ailreth sat alone in her room. It had been several weeks since Virion and Meira had left for the Great Tournament in Roklavia, and time had never passed slower. She’d easily and deftly resolved the tension that had arisen between two highly influencial families in Lásenor City over the unfortunate pruning of a well-beloved tree, and had had at all nothing to do for the past few days.
The sudden arrival of the stranger had startled her. Like almost all of the Lásenor, she never thought much of anything outside the mountains. Before Virion’s arrival from outside a few years ago, she’d never even considered the possibility that there might be others out there. Afterwards, she had known that there were some small settlements, but now she had to plan how to deal with an unknown number of foreign powers matching or exceeding her own.
“Maybe it’s time for another shot at meeting with Brittleburn,” she thought. The last time she’d tried, shortly after Virion had arrived, her men were thought no more than phantoms and were driven away. This time, she resolved, she would go herself and try to negotiate the village’s incorporation into the kingdom. Lásenor needed all the allies it could get if it was to be able to hold its own in a brave new world of politics and diplomacy and maybe, if all went wrong, war.
Almost all of the few guards she had that were trained in swordcraft had gone to the Tournament - what need was there at home? But now she found herself in a delicate situation, as the folk in Brittleburn had been known to be aggresive to strangers (only because they believed them to be evil spirits, of course). She gazed around the room, her eye fixing on the ornamental spear that hung on the wall.
Half-a-dozen weeks later, Ailreth rode out of Lásenor on a great horse, accompainied by only a single pair of guards, the last ones she had. Hanging either side of her, however, were newly forged spears that she had spent much of the past month training with.
They decided to take the eastern route so that they would be able to renew ties with the villages out that way. However, as they came to the easternmost village in the kingdom, they were met by a flustered-looking villager.
Out of breath, he panted, “Your Majesty! You have come at last! I trust you recieved our letter?”
Suprise flashed across her face. “A letter? Who from?”
“Connemara, milady. They came across us while exploring and asked us to arrange a meeting with you.”
“Connemara? Is that another village”
The man seemed genuinenly taken aback. “Connemara? The kingdom in the eastern reaches of the White Mountains? We’ve traded with them for years; has news of them never reached the Keep?”
“Suspicious,” thought the queen. Somebody between this village and her own office had kept, for a long time, the news of this other country, right at their own doorstep, from her. When she returned, she silently vowed to find out who it was. “No, it has not, thus far,” she replied, a hint of steel in her voice. “Nonetheless, I would be delighted to meet with Connemara.”
Some weeks of travel later, Ailreth finally came into the great capital of Connemara. Magenta adorned the buildings, which rose above her like the mountains themselves, elaborate and detailed.
A party was ready to greet them. “Welcome to Connemara,” the speaker said. "It is a great pleasure to meet you at last, Queen Ailreth."