24th day of Julius, 1669 AV
Maria signs the letter, placing her personal seal upon the envelope before setting the message on the desk before her. She stares at the small slip of paper for a long moment, the flickering of the candle casting ominous shadows around the otherwise innocuous item.
“You don’t even know if this is necessary”, says Siobhan from her spot on the window-sill.
Maria looks up at the elven servant and takes a deep breath. “I can’t let poor Salma rot in a den of cut-throat vermin for longer than absolutely necessary. Or worse, allow them to kill her or sell her into slavery because of the stubborn foolishness of men. Besides, Olinda was clear that they’ve asked for ransom, and they’ll not care where the silver comes from.”
The graceful tattooed woman steps down from her perch and crosses to stand behind the governor’s chair, placing her slim hands on Maria’s shoulders and squeezing gently. “This will change many things, florecita. You came her to be away from those burdens. You should be with the others exploring the shrine.”
The Castillian woman sighs, partly in relaxation, partly in frustration. “I can’t abandon my responsibilities to chase a hobby. It is Francisco’s right as Catedrático to lead the expedition and I must be content with learning what he has discovered second-hand. Rulership is what I have spent my life learning, and I will perform my duty even when I would prefer something else.” She reaches up and grabs the slim tattooed hands, tilting her head back to gaze up at the elf. “The change will affect you the most. I will release you from your service before then.”
Siobhan smiles sadly, leaning down to kiss the dark-haired woman on the forehead. “I would serve another three generations before I would see you give up your dreams.”