Zvezdana thought back to a few days before. Veljorn was highly against her leaving ahead of the forces and demanded that he be permitted to send more than two men. Zvezdana had won the fight with logic. The smaller the party, the faster they could travel and the more secretive they could be. Besides, it would be best if Zvezdana were permitted to speak with her family before Veljorn entered the Fort. The last thing she needed was her father to raise arms against them. They had argued well into the evening, but her body managed to calm him enough to get him to see it her way.
What she hadn’t told him was that she was also going to meet Vivian Warrick on the border between Warrick and Venora. She had sent word ahead to the woman in hopes that she could meet with Lazuli and Vivian together. She hoped that Vivian would be able to convince Lazuli to join them. Zvezdana had not reached out to her yet as she had a yearning to tell Lazuli in person of her marriage to Veljorn. Zvezdana bit her lip, the horse clearing its nose as she did so. Would Lazuli come to see that this was better for her? She would be entitled to find her own love, one as pure as the love she had for Veljorn. Lazuli could grow into a fine young woman and find someone more suited for her. Zvezdana hoped that Lazuli would see that she had meant it as a gift. A gift of freedom.
But to do that, she needed to go through Vivian. Vivian was a whirlwind of power all her own. She was probably as fearsome as a typhoon right now too. Going ahead of Veljorn also kept him safe of the Warrick woman’s wrath. The letter had been short, and she had not even waited for a response. She figured Vivian would meet her or she wouldn’t. No reason to wait for another letter to tell her she was not. She had faith that maybe something could be salvaged of their relationship.
The forest that they were traveling through was northwest of the fort. As soon as this meeting was completed, she would head toward Fort Venora to treat with her family. The horses plodded on, the guards’ heads were on a swivel, and Zvezdana kept brooding beneath her cloak. Finally, the forest began to thin to give way to the main road. A post sign ahead marked the border, giving travels notice that they were entering Warrick territory. Pulling straight back on the reigns, Zvezdana held her hand up. The guards paused, one even going as far to reach for the hilt of his blade.
“Your majesty?” He questioned in a whisper.
“None of that now. Remember, until we reach the fort, we are still in danger,” the other guard hissed, looking over his shoulder.
“Come now gentlemen. We are in no more danger than a regular traveler. We have taken every precaution possible. We are within a stone’s throw of the fort. What is about to transpire, I wish to do alone,” Zvezdana stated calmly, pulling the hood of her cloak down.
“What do you mean to do Lady Burhan?”
“I mean to treat with Lady Vivian Warrick. Did I neglect to tell you?” Zvezdana smiled, looking over to the man that had asked. His jaw dropped.
“My lady! We cannot permit this! Veljorn will have your hea-“
“And I will have them if you tell me what to do again! Remember, I am the future queen of Rynmere. You listen to me,” Zvezdana snapped. “Not the other way around. Now wait here.”
She coaxed her horse forward without another word, the men gawking at her. They could do nothing. Her smile widened. She now had such power over such men. All would soon bow before her because of her husband’s power, the throne that held her weight, and the crown that decorated her brow. Most of all, she hoped that she could finally learn to be kind and benevolent; to care for those that deserved to be cared for.
Zvezdana came to a halt beneath the post sign on the Venora side. She lowered herself to the ground. The skirts of her peasant clothes rode up just a bit to reveal her knee high riding boots. The horse grunted as she tied him to the post. At least he was allowed to graze while they talked. Then she turned to wait for Vivian to show up.
That is, if she was going to.