It was commonplace to foster children in a neutral nation. There they might have a chance to grow up beyond the bitter wars that wracked the continent. If it was to these children that the Royals looked, when the fragile peace was drafted, who could blame them? What better match to bind that peace than the hand of one who had never known them as the Enemy?
Theylia and Maryon were only two among hundreds of children in the island fosterlings. They had spent their childhoods on separate ends of the chain, and started across a wide driftwood table with untempered curiosity. Maryon wore the normal heavy cloth an leather jerkins favored by her nomadic tribe, while Theylia was adorned with feather-light layers of cloth and silk carefully colored and cut to accentuate her features. While they waited for the Arbitrator they exchanged furtive hand gestures and whispers.
“Do you really eat daylion?”
“Yeah, it’s really good. Don’t you?”
“They’re too big, they wouldn’t fit in town.” The two exchanged amused giggles at the thought of a heard of massive daylions wandering through the island’s villages.
“Do you really have stone roads? Where do you get all the stones?”
“I heard there aren’t any trees for miles… where’d they all go?”
“Will they let me have a cat?”
“Will I have to ride a horse?”
“Do I have to dress like that?” The last was said almost in unison and they both fell to giggling again. It was like they’d walked under the hills with the Elves, everything was backwards!
With a ponderous creek the doors to the conference room opened and the Arbitrator came in followed by the two envoys, each dressed in their nation’s colors. Only the elder Arbitrator seemed amused at the laughter that greeted their arrival and the girls quickly fell silent. The envoys were seldom seen on the islands, appearing only when serious trouble was afoot. Suddenly swapping places didn’t seem as much fun…