The marching army is surprised by two figures tracking them through the sky. What first appears to be a pair of raptors proves too large to be normal birds. Aurélien and the other elves are the first to make out riders. The Knights of the Gale land close to the party.
Riding a beautiful griffin hen is Sir Paun Barbossa, commander of the knights and (at a staggering four-foot-five) the largest halfling in living memory. Accompanying him is none other than Queen Jocelyn Drake atop a brindle hippogriff mare.
Aurélien briefs the queen on the events in Bellmetal Castle and the march to the Rime. Her Majesty is shocked to hear of Krisilla’s desertion. She assures Aurélien that she will see to it that Krisilla pays for her betrayal. She is also surprised, this time pleasantly, to learn of Sapphire Havencrest’s support in the weirfolk exodus. The possibility of settlement in the Sapphire Mountains in Balta is discussed, and the queen gives assent so long as the weirs can be safely and secretly transported across the Krakyn’s.
The queen of the Commynwealth and the Weirqueen meet face-to-face for the first time. Far from a tense meeting, it is almost dull. Pleasantries are exchanged, promises of cooperation made, and regrets of past injustice expressed. Most importantly, the two formidable women get their first chance to size each other up. The onlookers wait with baited breath, but the meeting ends cordially. The Dragon and the Bear, at peace at last.
Jocelyn and Aurélien speak privately for a while, and the queen confesses her worries to her friend. There are rumors in the Commynwealth that her husband’s affair causes her grief. She assures him that King Auryn Senneschyl‘s mistress is a dear and loyal friend. In a world of arranged marriages and carefully controlled bloodlines, she never came to expect true love in matrimony. Though she has been unable to conceive with her viceroy, she is content to keep her brother, Lord Milo Drake, the heir to the throne. Her heart is heavy because of the holy sea. Who can know what evils stir in the ocean’s dark abyss?
The queen and her knight take to the sky, flying south as the army marches ever northward.