Designed by Kostia
Lifespan: 20 minutes
Medium Groups: 14-20
Large Groups: 12-17
Kaisa was the first female king Enara had ever had, and she had spent the year since her father's death convincing the courtiers and the people that it was appropriate for her to rule.
"Ridiculous," the scholars and advisers had muttered when the old king's will was read, naming his only child as his successor. "Women and their daughters are for other work, for planting and teaching and glassblowing, not for ruling. Not for fighting. Not for this work. This is the work of men and their sons."
But there were no sons. There were no other children. There were no brothers, no nephews, not even any cousins. There was an ancient, crippled uncle, a man four times Kaisa's age, but even the most stalwart objectors realized that even a girl was a better choice for king than such a beaten, senile shell of a man. Her great-uncle probably wouldn't even have survived the trip to the castle to be crowned, and then they'd be right back where they started. No point in bringing him in. No one was really completely sure if Lanselius was still alive anyway.
Near where Kaisa stood, a tiny window in the kitchen slid closed, and a boy no older than eleven slipped out through the scullery door. All around him were soldiers, talking among themselves, some practicing their swordsmanship, waiting for the king to emerge. The boy passed by unnoticed, and walked through the field toward the forest. Hidden in his sleeve was a message.
Days earlier, Kaisa had sat at the head of the massive table in the dining room, hearing the ambassadors and courtiers of the kingdom mutter and complain and pontificate about the gypsies. Some were convinced their pockets and larders and liquor cabinets were being emptied at night. Others had told stranger tales, of going into taverns and coming out mere minutes later to find their wagon reins dangling, their saddles lying in the dust, their horses nowhere to be seen. One adviser had said his daughter was convinced her children were in danger of being stolen by gypsies every time she turned her back.
To the north, the kingdom was bordered by the forest where Kaisa had played as a child. No one lived there but the foxes and the trees. The gypsies lived to the east, in small villages and wagons, keeping to themselves. No matter how much Kaisa tried to argue that they were peaceful people, just like the citizens of the town, her small voice could not rise over the threats and complaints of the courtiers.
Frustrated and angry, she had stood on her chair and shouted her intention to visit the gypsies in the east herself. Reluctant and confused, not knowing how to deal with an angry young woman, the courtiers had agreed. Not knowing what she would find, they had decided she must bring her army. Kaisa fervently hoped she would find no enemy to fight.
So she stood on the balcony, dressed for some long-dead king's idea of grandeur, her hair braided under the tall ornamental helmet her father had worn for parades, her hands swallowed by gauntlets made for a man twice her size, her feet swimming in enormous boots. She could hardly walk in this getup, let alone ride, but the courtiers had insisted. Tradition. This is how the King dressed for a battle. Even though there probably wouldn't even be a battle, and even though the helmet blocked most of her field of vision, she took a step forward, and the doors opened before her. It was time to go.
A fox trotted out of the forest and past the walled yard where the soldiers waited with their dogs. The fox did not creep stealthily, slinking close to the ground, but walked with its head held high. Its scent made the dogs growl, made their hackles rise, made them pant and crowd against the fence, but the fox took no notice. Its eyes were straight ahead. It was walking to meet the boy. He had a message.
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