Foreign Policy

He followed her uphill, struggling, wheezing while she climbed effortlessly. When he reached the top, she was reciting incantations in a language only she could name, much less speak. An ethereal window appeared before her, through which the distant mountains appeared much closer. Between the peaks, he spied movement. “How big are these giants, Holiness?”

Her voice decanted a memory more distant in time than the mountains were over land. “Big enough to trample a man on horseback, and not realize it. Big enough to stand astride the Keep at Nochwallag with both soles flat on the earth.”

Nochwallag Keep was a crumbled ruin, and had been since before he was born. “Is that how it fell?” How old is she?

“It fell from hubris, and too little grain.” She glanced back at him, amused by the look of confusion on his face, and waved the window back into nothingness. “A story for another time. We still have many days walk ahead of us. And then, likely, many days of parlay. Come.”

He followed her down the front of the hill, the guards behind, the porters further still.

“Can they see us?”

“They knew we were coming before we did.”

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