King Augfi, Princess Myndael

Esclace, .5 Tasala Turns Later

Zulfanael rocked her baby tenderly and smiled despite her exhaustion. What a beautiful little girl she now held in her arms. The travail of childbirth was now forgotten in her joy. Soon she would sleep. Just a few more moments looking at her little Myndael. Then she would give in to sleep.

A sagewoman had been present for the birth, of course. Getting a sageman’s impressions for a newborn was an ancient tradition and wasn’t to be neglected, especially for people of Zulfa’s position. The sagewoman had said Myndael would be resolute and honest with herself. As Zulfa thought about this, she wondered if there was any way to misunderstand it. Sageman impressions were almost always positive, but could at the same time leave room for gross character faults. A man with a “kind” disposition could be nearly unable to say no to a drink and end up constantly inebriated. A “caring” person could be easily hurt and end up a hermit, living alone to avoid the pain.

Resolute and honest with herself. That must be a good thing, but circumstances could always turn one’s good attributes against his or her own welfare. In Myndael’s case, her welfare involved the welfare of thousands of other people. Zulfa hoped life would be favorable to her child.

Zulfa heard some noise outside in the corridor. People talking. Then the door opened and King Augfi walked in drenched in sweat. Zulfa’s smile turned into an accusatory scowl.

“Where were you?” she asked her husband, even though she already knew the answer.

“I was on the training grounds,” he answered. “I need to oversee our army’s training. It has to happen.”

“You should have been here!” Zulfa almost shouted. Her exhaustion was impairing her thinking. She shouldn’t raise her voice while Mynda slept in her arms. She lowered her voice. “They’ll carry on just fine without you for a day or two.”

Augfi shook his head. “I need to train, too. If I spend a day away from the training grounds, I’ll know the difference. I won’t be as fast or sure of myself. If I spend more time away from training—“

“—Your enemies will notice it.” Zulfa finished the adage for him. She’d heard this many times before. “Augfi, how relevant is training when Esclace has never been involved in a single real battle before, let alone a full war? Sure, I know we need to be ready to defend ourselves, but surely one day…” She was too tired to keep this up.

Augfi smiled. “Look, love. I know we disagree on how important this is. But one day…” He stopped. “What name have you given her?”


“One day Myndael will rule in my place. She’ll know the importance of training. I’ll make sure of it. She’ll have to be ready to protect her lands as I am ready now.”

He paused. Inhaled deeply, then exhaled slowly. “I can feel the destiny of Esclace nearing. Can’t you? One day, Myndael will live that destiny. I need to have our armies ready to fulfil it, and she will need to keep them ready to defend it. One day, Myndael will be Queen of Grendhill.”

Zulfa was asleep.


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