Valainistima looks up as the lock clatters and the cell door opens. She composes herself, rising to face the portal with as much dignity as she can muster, ignoring the throbbing pain in her face. She carefully composes a scowl and readies herself to confront her captors.
When the Queen and the rest of Kyonin hear of this outrage, they will level this worthless little backwater and reclaim these lands for the true people. And I’ll make sure Scarlet languishes in the depths of Maevenhold for the rest of her miserable, worthless life.
As the portal swings open, Valainistima’s scowl softens at the sight of Sadrion and Caladrel. As the elven men enter, they are followed by a kobold dressed in formal white robes bearing the symbol of Sarenrae. The woman ignores the filthy little creature and speaks forcefully to her husband.
“Thank the goddess you’ve finally arrived! You’d not believe the terrible manner in which I’ve been treated! I demand that drunken, uncultured child be punished for how she has treated the Magister of Kyonin. The Queen will be outraged when she hears of this!”
Sadrion raises a hand to forestall further ranting. “My dearest, please be calm. The ambassador is here to look into this matter and determine the appropriate course of action. If you could answer his questions, I’m sure we will be able to clear this up quickly.”
Valainistima bows to Caladrel, a look of smug satisfaction on her face. “Of course. So nice to see you again, my friend.”
The high diplomat returns to bow, but remains passive and businesslike. “Magister, could you please tell us the purpose of your visit to Tuskany?”
“Certainly. I came to retrieve my husband and step-daughter. To bring them back to Kyonin.”
The diplomat nods. “And you were not here in any official capacity? The Queen did not task you with any additional purpose?”
The elven woman frowns in confusion. “No more official that any visit by a member of her High Council.”
“I see. And could you please explain what occured in the High Priestess’ chambers earlier today?”
“Once I located Abigail, intoxicated and behaving quite inappropriately, I insisted that she come with me to find our husbands and return to the family home. She behaved like a disrespectful child, and I treated her as such. The priestess interfered in the family matter, hurled insults, and then assaulted me. You can see the results of her actions quite plainly.”
“And your role in the conflict?”
“I admit that I was angry”, says the elven woman, standing defiantly, “and likely more harsh than I would otherwise be with another personage of rank. Nevertheless, I’m sure you will agree that I was provoked.”
Caladrel nods thoughtfully. “Thank you, Valainistima. Your information has been very helpful.” He turns to the kobold and bows. “We would like to avoid making this a major diplomatic incident. If I could return with the Magister to Kyonin, I am certain that Her Majesty will be very pleased to mete out appropriate justice for her transgression, without…”
“What?!”, exclaims the woman, her face turning red in anger. “My transgression?! I was the victim here! She struck me!”
The ambassador glares at her. “While I am certain that the Tuskan council will deal with the High Priestess’ assault in an appropriate manner, your actions more than justify her response. Insulting a member of their council, injuring and attempting to abduct one of their citizens and publicly insulting their leader. The duke would be well within…”
“I never insulted the duke!”, exclaims Valainistima, again interrupting.
“Over a dozen people witnessed your outburst in the audience chamber. I believe the words were ‘wretched little beast’. Am I quoting her correctly, your grace?” Caladrel looks down at the kobold again.
As the kobold nods quietly, Valainistima’s eyes widen in horror and she begins spluttering and stammering a protest. The ambassador silences her with a gesture and allows the kobold to speak.
“We do not wish to turn this into an international incident, my Lord Caladrel”, says the small creature. “I accept your assurances that the Queen will see appropriate justice done.”
Caladrel nods in relief. “Thank you for your understanding, your grace. I will make the necessary arrangements and escort the Magister home within the hour.”
As the elven diplomat leaves, Valainistima’s spluttering protests trail off and she gives Sadrion a pleading look. “You will be coming home, won’t you?”
The man shakes his head sadly. “Not right now, my dear. My daughters need me more, and you will be very busy dealing with the aftermath of your outburst today.”
Her face twists in anger again. “So you’re just going to abandon me again?! Maybe you shouldn’t even come back at all!”
Sadrion’s face hardens. “I will not abandon my unborn child, and you know very well that dissolving our marriage contract would not be allowed. It will be easier if you accept your situation and not do anything to make it worse. I will return to Kyonin before the baby is born.”
As her husband leaves the room, Valainistima realizes that the kobold duke remains, glowering at her intently. She manages an awkward curtsey to the creature. “My deepest apologies for insulting you, your grace. Had I known it was you…”
“You would have saved your venom for your family?”, interrupts Faisal. “I do not care about the affront to me, I have weathered worse from those whom I consider friends and companions. But your behavior toward Dawnsister Scarlet and her sibling is unforgivable. You may count yourself lucky that your husband is held in such high esteem and spoke out on your behalf. In my land, such behavior toward a devoted member of the Brethren would earn you a summary execution, and I was sorely tempted to demand such justice despite Lord Sadrion’s plea and the innocent life you now carry. The Dawnsister showed remarkable restraint in her response to her provocation, and between Abigail and the guardsman’s testimony, none of us will hold her to task for her actions.”
“But heed my words well, kaffir witch”, hisses the kobold, managing to seem imposing and threatening despite his diminutive size. “You will henceforth only be welcome in Tuskany as the Magister of Kyonin, and then only if you are accompanied by Lord Caladrel, Lord Sadrion, or another member of the Queen’s Council. And if you ever dare to insult or harm Scarlet again, I will personally cut out your vile tongue and feed it to the dogs before separating your head from your body in full view of the world regardless of the diplomatic consequences.”
The kobold stalks out of the cell, slamming the heavy metal door behind him. Valainistima swallows hard, her hand involuntarily rising to touch her throat.