After our brief stay in Giana, we travel east along a deep, wide canyon. Our next stop is the elvirian capital, which is safely situated between the canyon and the ocean. If the war ever makes it this far south, the mellowmira will have a hard time reaching Nydia.
We spend a night camped out in the savannah—with a night watch, of course—before reaching temperate forest. Now it’s time for us to cross the canyon. There are a series of wooden bridges spanning the various branches of the canyon. If mellowmiran invaders were to come here, the soldiers who guard this area could easily burn all the bridges and cut off all terrestrial access to the capital.
I hope none of you are afraid of heights.
The bridges sway with each step. I assure you they’re sturdy enough to support a cart of supplies, but the drop off on either side is rather daunting. At least there’s no river in this part of the canyon. It’s all forested land.
When we reach the other side, you’re only slightly surprised to see there’s no castle. Almost all of the buildings are open. It doesn’t get cold enough this far south to warrant closed structures. Soldiers patrol an area with a plethora of gazebos, pergolas, and canvas tents. One of the gazebos is completely enclosed, though the upper portions of the walls are glass. That is the kings’ meeting room. It’s fully enclosed to prevent eavesdropping on sensitive conversations, and the windows can be covered with curtains to hide things from view when necessary.
King Endol recently inherited the throne from his father, and he rules alongside his husband, King Teff.
Despite being the capital, Nydia is noticeably smaller than Aria. That doesn’t stop you from exploring what the city has to offer in addition to roaming the savannah and hiking down the canyons. That night, I tell you a story about the establishment of the elvirian monarchy and their perspective on the war.
* * * * *
Trisa held the message in her hand. Though she certainly wasn’t surprised, she was still processing the mellowmira’s declaration of war. Hostilities between the two groups had escalated significantly in the past couple decades. The mellowmira had been pushing farther and farther south, invading the elvira’s homeland. Trisa and her people fought back, defending their ancestral territory, but the mellowmira just kept coming.
The mellowmira made their demands clear. The elvira were to give them half of the Mani Grassland, or they would go to war. Trisa and the other leaders would have to discuss their response.
Dinavi was the most central elvirian settlement, so seventeen of the eighteen leaders travelled there for a meeting. Trisa and the others gathered around in a circle on the grass.
“I have called this meeting,” Mikal of Dinavi said, “to address the mellowmira’s declaration of war against us. For over three hundred years, the mellowmira have come down from the mountains. They pushed us out of the northern reaches of our great continent, and now they continue to push the border farther and farther south. Now they demand we hand over even more of our ancestral lands. Linea is our home, and we must defend it from these invaders.”
Many of the elvira vocalized their agreement.
“We shouldn’t be rash about declaring war,” Miravi of Rocco said. “Hundreds of mellowmira starve to death every winter. All they want is more resources, so they can feed their families. The Mani Grassland isn’t even inhabited right now because the settlements there are targets for being burned. Wouldn’t it be worth giving them that land if it meant an end to the hostilities between us?”
A few people murmured their assent, but Miravi’s thoughts weren’t as popular as Mikal’s.
“If we give them half of the Mani Grassland,” Mikal said, “the hostilities may stop temporarily. But as their populations grow, they will overhunt the grassland, and they will go right back to starving. Then they’ll want even more territory to the south, and we’ll be in this same situation all over again. Before we know it, they will deplete our resources and push us right off Linea.”
“Let’s take a vote,” Trisa said. “Raise your hand if you want to negotiate with the mellowmira.”
Five leaders raised their hands, including Miravi.
“Raise your hand if you want to go to war.”
Thirteen leaders raised their hands, including Mikal and Trisa.
“War it is,” Trisa said. “We will not let the mellowmira take any more from us. We will show them their place, and we will show them that they are unsuited to facing us in battle.”
This received cheers from the other leaders.
“We will need to pick a leader,” Mikal said, “to unite us in our fight against the mellowmira.”
“Perhaps it’s time we learn from them,” Miravi said, “and establish a monarchy of our own. We will never succeed if we proceed as eighteen individual groups. We need to come together to face this threat.”
“Do our people want a monarchy?” Lyle of Ulam asked. “Our people are unaccustomed to the hierarchy the mellowmira have. Our people believe in equality, and our egalitarian ways have served us well since we came into being.”
“Miravi’s right,” Trisa said. “We won’t succeed unless we unite under one leader. But I understand your concern. Whomever we elect as our leader should agree to resign as soon as the war is over. The monarchy will be temporary.”
“As long as there is a signed document stating the monarchy is temporary,” Lyle said, “I will follow our leader.”
“Who will be our leader?” Miravi asked. “We must nominate someone.”
Out of the eighteen leaders, twelve were willing to become the monarch. Each one explained what they would do to address the threat. Everyone voted, though they weren’t allowed to vote for themselves. The top five candidates were Stev from Reza, Kiera from Vanya, Alez from Susanik, Mikal, and Trisa.
The leaders voted once more, this time selecting one of the five. Trisa was one vote ahead of Mikal, so they took a final vote between the two of them.
“It’s settled then,” Miravi said. “Trisa is our queen and war general.”
“I am honored that you chose me,” Trisa said. “I will unite our people and lead them into war against the mellowmira. Together, we will defeat these invaders from the north and save what’s left of our ancestral homelands. My home of Nydia is in one of the most defensible locations on Linea. I will establish it as our capital, and it will be a refuge to any who require shelter during this difficult time. War is a messy business, so I cannot say how long it will take to defeat our enemies, but as soon as we have claimed victory, I will surrender my title and power.”
The other leaders saluted their new monarch.
“Let’s send the mellowmira a message of our own and make them regret sending theirs.”