All seven members were already seated, one baron for each major city in Blindvar. There were actually six cities, but there could not be an even number on the court.. The seventh was a random member qualified to be a court official, currently held by a female named Brigot. The idea of females serving in positions of authority was not settling easy.
Altarn walked to the head of the table, sitting in her large, leather chair which felt awkwardly like a throne, reminding her of the last king the Blindvarn citizens had dethroned more than three hundred years ago.
Her seven members waited for her to speak. Perseth pushed his glasses higher up his sweaty nose. Leodin coughed into his sleeve.
Females were not discouraged from positions in politics, but the concept still troubled many. It had been a traditionally male position to hold both the state’s title and to fill the positions in court, but Altarn had been in a particular mood eleven years ago and had broken it. She became the first female State Head and had already served one year out of the three-year session.
Two men had competed for the State Head with her. The background check on one revealed he had a criminal record. The second was leading the election by a large margin until authorities discovered he was born in Luthsinia.
“The minutes will reflect the presence of all representatives from their respective cities,” Altarn began. “On seven Midar, year three twenty-four After the Reign of Kings.” She paused to let the court scribe catch up. “So being, I am unaware as to the nature of the request for court so I will let another member proceed from here.”
Perseth stood from his chair and straightened his buttoned waistcoat over his round belly. “Baron Perseth of the City of Fellsbarren requested this session due to concerns with the present dealings with the State of Ruidenthall.”
His nasally voice made Altarn want to hand him a tissue. She drummed her fingers on the armrests. She had suspected as much.
“May I speak freely, Lady?”
Perseth pushed his glasses higher up his nose. “We all think it is impulsive of you to threaten Ruidenthall with war.”
His eyes, too round and too close to his nose, swept over the other members of the room, who all nodded.
“They have been our friends and allies since the war to dethrone our king. If Luthsinia didn’t cut straight between our two states, we might even be one. A lot of us have family who either came from Ruidenthall or who live there now.”
“Is it so easily forgotten the Lord of Ruidenthall is trying to steal Blindvar from us?”
The members at the table moaned.
“Please reflect on my use of the word ‘impulsive.’”
It pushed on the edges of her serenity to listen to Perseth’s boldness and not respond to it. But she’d been called to court to listen to a problem, not create one.
“Scribe, will you please read us the letter from the Lord of Ruidenthall concerning the matter our lady has just mentioned?”
The scribe pulled a book off the shelf at his desk and thumbed through it, pages snapping crisply. “Seventeenth of Kaidar,” the scribe read. “Year three twenty-four After the Reign of Kings. Addressed to Lady Altarn Shadheing from Lord Kaelin-drath Morrendrake. It reads:
Greetings, Lady of Blindvar.
It is fortunate our two states are such great friends. It has come to my recent attention that a number of Ruidenthall citizens have taken a fancy to your small town of Heathe. So much so, that there are more Ruids than Blindvarns. I’ll have to visit to see what the attraction is. After all, who would sacrifice great Ruid food to live in a small Blindvarn town where the closest city is thirty miles out?
Of course, having this offset of Blindvarns to Ruids must make it a tad more difficult for the yearly census for you, which gave me an idea. Since our states are such good allies, I propose—just as a speculative thought—that Heathe be merged into the State of Ruidenthall in exchange for a small bit of land out of my own good state, if you like.
Maybe this small exchange can start something bigger, and maybe someday Endendre will eventually be one state instead of divided into three. Of course, it is just an idea, and something like this has never been done before between our two states. Please reply with your thoughts. If it is disagreeable, I’ll digress.
Signed, Lord Kaelin-drath Morrendrake of Ruidenthall.
The members at the table watched Altarn like ghosts waiting for the moment they could pounce on the living and suck out their souls.