2/19/1272 18:00 Queen’s Convent, Arghentia

Moriyuman experts, researching and scouring the Tanithian libraries of the world for information, deduce the sound frequency required restart the worldwide Fold Network in the middle of the night, over a month after the system was disabled.

An extremely bored guard, part of the all-day, all-night shifts to monitor the system, is jarred awake by a hideously loud, high-pitched ringing sound at echoes through the building containing the Queen’s Convent fold point. He sleepily verifies operation by entering with the instruction “Madrath.” Seconds later, he returns. He dashes out of the building and to a waiting speedboat.

Sixteen hours later, as the sun sets on the last day of the second month of the year, the guard arrives in Eoisle, the national capital of Arghentia, to convey the news directly to the Regent.

“It’s up?” she demands, pulling on a dressing gown and thundering into the throne room.

“Yes, Your Highness,” the soldier reports. “I tested operation to Madrath and was successful.”

Tselenah ruffles through the scrolls in the basket she keeps by the throne.She’s gone through twenty before she finds the one she seeks. She turns to the guard.

“Convey this message to the Duke of Bedalm with the utmost urgency,” she says, her voice taut with excitement. “He is to mobilize the fleet, travel without delay to Arklow in the nation of Penamharik, and level the city.”

“As you command, Your Highness,” the guard replies, bowing his head.

She grabs another scroll, already stamped with her signet ring. She hands that to the guard. “You will report to Lord Bedalm’s flagship as a Commander! The Crown salutes your expeditious execution of your duty, Sir! You and your family will be richly rewarded.”

“Thank you, Your Highness!” the guard says, touching his forehead to the floor.

Tselenah motions the guard away and then runs out of the throne room back to the bed of her commoner husband, the lawyer Basilio Katsulas.Her smile is ecstatic.

“I know that grin isn’t for me,” Basilio says. “Good news?”

“The Fold Network is back,” Tselenah says giddy with excitement. “Our agents can freely travel again. And I’ve mobilized the fleet.Lord Ebrill in Pamhia apparently tarried and let my sister’s ship escape. He’s going to find out the consequences of my disappointment!”

“Isn’t that an act of war?” Basilio says as Tselenah doffs her robe and slips naked into the bed beside him.

“That’s why I’m sending Talon,” Tselenah says. “Since he’s a Templar, he can tell Ariard and Eeryn that sheltering that bitch was an act of war and that the leveling and sacking of Arklow were our responses to his sheltering the enemies of the Arghentian Crown.Since Talon is a member of his order, the only way he can register his displeasure is to challenge my brother, who is thirty years younger and much stronger than him. Of course, if he offers his daughter and heir Ardania to my brother as a concubine, I’ll forgive him.”

“Your mother isn’t going to like that,” Basilio says. “She’s fond of him.”

“So what?” Tselenah says as she clambers on top of her husband. “Fuck her!”

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