Nathaniel leans over his desk, frowning in concentration as the pen moves slowly across the page. He lifts the pen and dips it in the inkwell without even looking and writes a few last lines. He sighs heavily and places the pen carefully on its holder. He takes the pounce pot and sprinkles from it over the sheet, leaving it for a few minutes before carefully blowing it off. He places the sheet of paper at the bottom of a short pile, next to two similar piles and leans back with a long exhalation, possibly of relief. “Well,” he says, “That’s that done. First draft, anyway.” A movement catches the corner of his eye and he looks up to see Wicket climbing up onto the top of the desk and investigating the bowl of nuts. “Do help yourself,” he says with a fond smile, thinking that Wren would probably be relieved to know where her pet was. He reaches carefully for a nut, moving slowly so as to not disturb the rat, who just sits there, nibbling away and regarding him with beady eyes. Nathaniel chews on the nut and picks up one of the piles of paper and begins to read through it, skimming quickly through the pages and making sure that all the sheets are there. “I’ve never written a treaty before,” he says, conversationally to the rat. “Well, strictly, a set of accords. I can’t exactly call it at treaty without some sort of legal enforcement. Contracts, yes. I’ve written plenty of contracts. I’ve even written contracts for fae clients, which I am sure you know is no picnic.” He looks at the rat, which just twitches its nose and bites another piece of the nut. “Or maybe you don’t. What does a rat care about legal ramifications?”

He gets up from the desk and finds some larger sheets of paper, which he fashions into envelopes for the accords. He quickly pens a covering letter for each copy, places it in the envelope and seals each one with a blob of wax. He leaves one on the desk and takes the other two under his arm. “That copy’s for Maric,” he tells the rat. “So don’t eat it. I’ll give it to him later. These, I am going to have to deliver myself.” He flips a quick salute at the rat and walks out.

A short time later, he presents himself at the official dwelling of the faerie queen and soon learns that she is not available. Neither is the king. He shrugs, stifling his disappointment, knowing kings and queens are busy people. He asks to see Bran instead and hands the packages to him. “Please ensure that their Majesties each get their copy as soon as you can.” Bran assures him that he will and shows him to the door. Once outside, he waves off the offer of an escort back to the village. “I think I’ll go commune with the kids for a while,” he says, and heads off towards the bright tree.

(See the full text)




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