Prince Roald was at his desk, going over some last minute correspondence, when he saw the envelope. It was sitting on the corner of his desk, held down by a little glass figurine of a horse with flattened ears and bared teeth. Frowning, he picked it up and studied it. He had given it to Kel as a Midwinter gift, during her first year as a page. So why had she returned it?
Setting it gently down, he turned his attention to the envelope, and the letter it contained. The fine Yamani parchment was a pleasing contrast to the bold, no-nonsense, neat handwriting that adorned it. A bundle of contrasts–much like the woman who had sent it, Roald mused absently. Curiosity high, he began to read.
I don’t know how much you have been told, but I still felt you should hear the news from me first, if possible.
You know that my parents have been instrumental in negotiating a peace treaty between Yaman and Tortall, contingent upon the marriage of you to an Imperial Princess. After Chisko died, the Emperor was understandably wary about sending another of his daughters to a foreign land.
In desperation, my parents offered a compromise: Me. As the daughter of the woman who saved the Swords of the Gods, I am considered the equivalent of a (very) low-ranking Princess, and thus was deemed suitable to be given for this honor.
I am by birth Tortallan, but by nature Yaman, a noble lady and a lady knight. I am from both worlds, but belong to neither.
Roald, this is as much a shock to me as it is to you. My father had mentioned the possibility, but I never truly believed in the reality.
I am, as you read this, on my way back to the Islands to be officially inaugurated and blessed and acknowledged by His Imperial Majesty. When next we meet, it will be on a different type of battlefield. I’m depending on you to help me traverse it. (Lord Raul never included this in his lessons!)
I know that this is not what you had pictured for your marriage, and for that I am sorry. We are lucky in that at least we know each other, and are friends, I hope. The rest, we leave to the Gods.