Iniri glanced at the next petition in the stack and rolled her eyes, tossing it into the other pile she’d dubbed “Blue’s Dragon Problem.” For the most part she was happy to take care of all the diplomatic intricacies, but she wasn’t going to be able to wrangle The Silver Woe. The best she could do was assure people there wasn’t anything to worry about and that The Silver Woe was not concerned with them one way or the other. The people who suddenly felt like they needed to petition the dragon Power for something or other were on their own.
Most were just crackpots and didn’t even make it to her desk, but there were a surprising number of people who wanted an actual introduction. It wasn’t exactly a secret that there was a dragon lurking about in Blue’s territory, not since the Piping Hot Pies had seen The Silver Woe incidentally, or that Iniri went off to important meetings with Blue at times. People were still capable of adding two and two, and realized she had a line to the most legendary Power in the world.
She was going to just hand it off to Blue. Yes, she’d talked with the dragon on occasion, but that was more in the nature of business and Iniri had no idea what The Silver Woe might or might not want. Tarnil represented Blue’s interests, true, but there was a limit to what she could and should do as the reigning monarch. Blue’s dragon very firmly fell under Power business, and there she would stay.
For herself, she was of at least two minds. There was no denying this would cause issues, issues that she could hardly afford to be distracted with as she tried to put Tarnil back together again. Not so much physically, because Blue sufficed for that, but the social and economic fabric of the country needed repair. Advancing to fourth tier had helped with that effort, as [Phantasmal Authority] clarified the relative merits of any course of action and cut through the obfuscation, purposeful and not, that her subjects threw at her.
It was [Phantasmal Authority] that wouldn’t let her set aside the undeniable fact that The Silver Woe’s presence would attract the attention of more potential allies than enemies. Power always did. They’d be more interested in The Silver Woe than herself but as the country nearest her interests, Tarnil would be the beneficiary of their presence. If nothing else, it’d give Blue a chance to show off what he could make. She took up the next missive and started to read through it, but didn’t get far before Cheya slid into the room and waved a message scroll at her.
“House Anell has decided to embargo us,” she said dryly. “It extends to everyone who does trade with us, too. For some reason they’re unhappy that we’ve been so high-handed with their trading ships. Curiously, there’s no mention of their assassination attempt.”
Anell’s embargo of Tarnil didn’t mean much by itself. Even before the war there weren’t many Anell-flagged ships around, and if they tried enforcing the proclamation by blockade, Blue would give them a serious surprise. The extension to trading partners was more worrisome, since countries further south did rely on Anell ships to move their goods across the ocean and that was ignoring the sheer weight of Anell’s money and holdings.
Judging by the timing they’d issued the edict before The Silver Woe had revealed herself and Iniri had to wonder if there were people quietly panicking in the halls of power somewhere. Maybe not, since Anell was powerful and it wasn’t doing anything so egregious that it would draw the attention of the Silver Woe, at least to judge by stories. Petty politics was well beneath her, and anyone who caught the show knew that she had been defending Blue, not Tarnil.
“We’ll have to put on a good show for Ir, then. Give them a reason to ignore or pressure Anell back.” She pointed at a second message scroll on the corner of a cabinet. “Wright himself is coming up to see us and Blue next week.”
“I wonder if Uilei-nktik will still be around,” Cheya said, tapping the message cylinder thoughtfully against her chin. “The Leviathans don’t hang around near the surface very much and even incidentally mentioning he’s around would be quite the feather in our cap.”
“That depends on whether Blue lets him see The Silver Woe, I expect. Or whether Blue asks him. I’ll have to bring that up, as well as what else we’re going to do to get ready for Wright.” Actually, she was already thinking about having a complete list and itinerary to give Blue from the outset. It was more than obvious that fine organization wasn’t his strength and given his disinterest in politics he’d probably appreciate her assigning Shayma a specific role. Blue wouldn’t need to step in himself unless it was absolutely necessary, and if he did, she’d just have to work with it.
“If we make Ir’s visit a direct reply to Anell, I don’t think they will be all that pleased,” Cheya said, not really objecting.
“If Ir didn’t want me to make political hay from their visit they wouldn’t come,” Iniri said dryly. “It fits in with some of the other questions I’ve gotten from our nearest neighbors, too.” With The Silver Woe’s show of power announcing to all and sundry that the mage-kings were gone from Tarnil, messengers had started turning up in record time. Not just from Nivir and Haerlish, but from famously insular Orrelin to the south and Kinul from its place on the other side of Nivir, taking up the massive swamp on the western side of the lobe.
For obvious reasons, they were nervous about the beams of fire lashing into the sky and the Power of serious renown hanging about. Of the four kingdoms, Haerlish had the least amount of diplomatic groveling, probably because they’d actually taken Blue’s measure and knew that he didn’t need [Starlance] to enforce his will. Blue’s restraint in dealing with The Hurricane, and the subsequent good will she’d generated by actually coming to help during the attack, made them one of the few countries that actually had his measure.
Nivir had couched its inquiries as worry about the young Esox scion, though Iniri doubted that Keri was going to be going home any time soon. There was also some between-the-lines handwringing over not helping with the initial invasion, which of course in hindsight looked to be a bad idea. Iniri didn’t hold a grudge about that, not after experiencing enormous amounts of Depletion personally, but she wasn’t above using it as leverage.
Orrelin and Kinul hadn’t been either enemies or allies for a long time, merely trade partners at a distance. The best route to Kinul went through Nivir, and given the chilly relationship Tarnil had enjoyed with Nivir that meant there wasn’t much that made it from Kinul to Tarnil or the reverse. Kinul being mostly swamp and laden with rot Affinity meant that it really didn’t have all that much to trade, but the principle was there.
Orrelin didn’t like to even trade with anyone. They were self-sufficient, living on their plateau and quite happy to remain above everyone else, both figuratively and literally. The confluence of earth and nature mana gave them two minor mana springs and all the food they could ever want. Combined with the annoyance of trying to assault a country up sheer cliffs, and nobody had bothered for a very long time. Personally, Iniri wouldn’t mind snubbing them just to push their noses in, but she couldn’t afford to be so petty. If nothing else, they were a trade partner Anell had no leverage on whatsoever.
“We should hold a summit,” Iniri decided. “Invite everyone to come here when Ir does. Lay out Blue’s capabilities for everyone, as well as his rules. Our rules, if they want to trade with him. Assure everyone Blue’s not going to [Starlance] them for fun, and incidentally show that Tarnil’s defensive power is greater than ever.” She smiled grimly. “I’m a fourth-tier defensive caster. The continent should know it.”