based loosely on the novel by Kristin Cashore stiron is a continent on Terra; the Isle of Man. It is largely segregated from the rest of Terra, and for good reason. The men and women in Estiron are caught in never ending conflict, be it war, hatred, or even disease. Nobody wants to meddle in the affairs of Man. The nature of Man has also segregated itself from nature, and magic. They live in a harsh, drab reality, distanced from the fantasy of the world; their only connection to the peoples and lands outside of Estiron is through fairytale and myth. And, of course, the Gracelings. Those that are Graced have abilities straight out of a children's storybook. They are strange, unusual, and unreal, and as such the Graced are isolated and feared. However, the royal courts of the kingdoms of Estiron find the Gracelings quite useful, taking advantage of their powers to wage war against each other, using them to spur the eternal conflict amongst each other. For centuries the Graced have been abused in this way, but no more. The kingdoms are falling one by one into one of the greatest wars of Mankind, and the Graced are on the frontlines. They act as spies, warriors, knights, medics, and more, and in some cases, they will be the first to die. It is a Graceling's war, initiated by Man; and the Court finds this absolutely distasteful. They will do anything to stop the Graced from fighting their own kind, and to liberate them from the kings and queens that use them as pawns. Will you help the Graceling rebellion, or will you take the side of the royal kingdoms of Estiron? "Give me the reports, Lord Denerim." The loud, booming voice of the King echoed across the hall from where he sat on his solitary throne. His wife stood beside him, disinterested in the happenings in the room, although her eyes betrayed her to Arwen, who knew the Queen perhaps better than the King himself. The woman's blue eyes were alight with masked interest, and were trained right at the scroll that Lord Denerim held. The Lord, a burly man with a tumbling of brown hair on his head, walked forward from his position before Arwen and handed off the scroll to the King, who unraveled it after shooting a warning glance at his wife. She inched away, looking towards Arwen in a panic; the younger girl just smiled, and returned her glance to the King. "Is all satisfactory, King Richmond?" Denerim asked smoothly. The King looked up from the scroll, clearing his feverish gaze, and nodded. "Yes, yes, all is well. I expect you've looked at it too, Denerim; and I expect you to organize troops in response immediately. I want them to leave before sundown." the man ordered, rolling back the scroll and handing it to another man who stood at his side; the King's 'adviser'. Truly, the man was less of an adviser than he was an annoyance to everyone in the Court and in the kingdom, but the King insisted. The man was his distant cousin, and he was being saved from a rather awful fate back in Asene with this position as adviser. It couldn't be said that the King did not look after his family. Arwen bowed as Denerim turned to leave. "Shall I be traveling with the troops?" she asked, looking up with as much of a demure impression as she could attempt. The King shook his head, waving her off. "No, no. I'll have something else for you to do later, girl. Go prepare for dinner tonight." he said. He then faced his wife. "You, too, love. We'll be meeting with the Asene ambassador. I expect little talk of a peace treaty but we can sure try. Blasted Asenines." Arwen ducked out of the room as quickly as she could, slipping from her long skirts a scroll; the real scroll. She'd transcribed a new copy for the King on their return journey to the court, and the real one... that was for the real Court. There was a meeting this evening. They had much to discuss. For now, she was to find Elidyr; they'd yet to inform her of the Court meeting, and she assumed the girl was to be attending the same dinner as she. It'd be best to leave her with a warning. Rydelle couldn't believe her ears. Rhodontaea? She was going to Rhodontaea? Of all places to travel to, the Queen was sending her to the coldest place in Estiron, in the middle of the long northern winter season. The mountains they would have to cross would be beyond freezing, almost impossible to cross, and yet, the Queen wanted her to travel with half of the royal army to prepare for war. In the middle of the northern winter season. And she doubted she was getting a ship to travel on. The redhead usually was apt to listen to the Queen's requests, no matter how ridiculous, but this was past the line. War or no war, nobody was crossing those mountains until the season had passed. "Your Majesty, please reconsider. The mountains;" "Will be of no trouble to you. There are plenty of men in your troops to pass through with ease, and Rhodontaea has offered full services. You can rest at any inn, receive food at any tavern. You'll be fine." the Queen remarked. She was sitting in her high-backed dinner chair, holding a glass of red wine delicately in one hand, a sweet bun in the other. She turned to wave dismissively- with the sweet bun hand- towards Rydelle. "Go. Prepare your troops. You leave in a week." "But-" "I gave you an order, Rydelle." The Queen warned with a glare that could burn holes into the universe itself. There would be no crossing her. Not today. It took her all to curtsy and lower her head to the Queen. "Yes, your Majesty." Her voice shook with anger, although the Queen either didn't notice or didn't care. Rather suddenly, the doors at the dining hall burst open, cracking against the walls. Two harried men came tumbling in; one was holding onto his side like he was holding in his guts, while the other had a bloodied bandage of his eye. They looked exhausted, and worn out; the travelers had even abandoned their packs. Then Rydelle remembered who they were. They were two men sent with the ambassador to Osion. "You interrupt my meal," the Queen said, barely raising her eyes from her plate. "And my daughters' meals as well. What is it?" "The ambassador, your Majesty! He has been slain."