September – 1023 YD
Some months after the inauguration of the Duke of Trialle, Vilsonius accepted the Custodia’s invitation to the region’s capital.
__He was admitted to the Great Hall and found it empty of attendants. Custodia Galluel sat on a platform above the vast space, leaning against the side of her throne, ankles crossed, bemusement folded in the corner of her mouth. The throne was ornate, and yet simpler than its Iulithan counterpart—here, the throne was low-backed, shallow and narrow enough for comfort, lined inside with a black bear pelt. The throne of his homeland was high, large, and cold.
To his intense irritation, self-consciousness beset him as he passed silently from the entrance to the foot of the platform.
__‘Your Majesty,’ he bowed. ‘It is an honour to have been summoned.’
__She laughed. ‘I wonder if this is a carded script my guards give new entrants?’
__‘Forgive my triteness,’ he apologised with a dawning smile. ‘I truly am honoured to have been given the opportunity to formally introduce myself. Outsiders are poorly trusted in my own land, and turned away more often than not.’
__‘Perhaps I wished to politely turn you away?’
__He met her eye and found it glistened with jest.
__‘You have stirred the waters of our closed ranks, Vilsonius of Iulitha. Former Duke of Edeen, weaver and son of Duke Baird, ringleader of the coup against Custodin Algus—you are certainly the most notable convert we have had to the Black Dragon’s path in many years.’
__Vilsonius had no reply.
__‘Sevína has given me the long version of your story. She has also noted how seldom you use your skills, and wonders at your undisclosed accomplishments.’ Vilsonius bowed his head. ‘She is kind to speak well of me.’
__‘On the contrary,’ Galluel countered, ‘her words suggest a lack of forthrightness on your part.’
__‘Weaving is an uncommon trade in Miggest, Lord Vilsonius, as you have undoubtedly gathered. My father was renowned for his mistrust of its practitioners. I will admit my own ignorance; however, I expect a true and honest answer when I ask: what is the degree of your skill in manipulating energy?’
__‘Your Majesty, I am a master of my trade.’
__She assessed him.
__‘I am not given to pretence. I am conscious of the suspicion with which weavers are treated in Miggest. My former nobility makes for a far better reference; but as you have asked directly, I will answer directly. I have sought, and failed to find a weaver in Miggest with even half my experience or strength. I spoke of the honour in meeting you, for I have nurtured a hope since converting that I could lay my skills at your feet and offer them in service.’ He placed a fist over his heart and bowed his head.
__The Custodia stared a moment at the serious foreigner before her. She rose and descended the steps, approaching while he kept his head low. She reached a hand and lifted his chin with a bent forefinger.
__Pale blue and penetrating, she felt her pupils expand upon close contact with his gaze. ‘I accept your offer. You will go north to Pends immediately, and demonstrate your mastery by galvanising that parched and broken district. Do this, and I will set things in motion to move you more directly to my service. I feel you will be useful indeed in the years ahead.’