Unanticipatedly the Princess Esther felt a soft touch on her shoulder.
She looked up and saw the inhumanly beautiful face of Lafði Ilyrana Ithraidesdóttir of the House of Ytre Flåvær, a noble lady of elvish descent serving Her Imperial and Royal Highness as Stallari of her Ambassadorial Household. The Lady Ilyrana was a veteran of the Storish Civil Service and the Sovereign Household, with a career spanning more than half a Norton Century, who had served the Lands of the Longships Throne in numerous capacities.
As a little girl Lafði Ilyrana had started out as a cupbearer to the Lady Unna of Skálavík of the House of Vanadís, the then and present High Justiciar of Stormark, steadly rising through the ranks of public and Imperial service until she ended up as Mistress of the Robes of the Sovereign Household. High King Harald had handpicked this experienced Lady to serve as the Princess Esther’s Chief of Staff at the prestigious and important diplomatic mission in the Kingdom of the Union of Caputia.
Princess Esther considered the Lady Ilyrana as her rock, stalwart shield, and nearby motherly advisor, now that she had, due to being posted in Zalae, had to do without the closeness of the wise and strong women - such as the mortal Imperial and Royal Ladies Ærinndís, Æsileif, Aoife, Charlotte, Chloe, Fjǫrleif, Geirbjörg, Gudrid, Sigrid, Theodora, Victoria and Yumi as well as the Goddesses Frigga, Freyja and Idunn - she usually was surrounded with and who provided her with support, advice and counsel. They had taken on the responsibility for her after the untimely death on the isle of Ura’Bos of her mother, the Kaiseress Noor of Shireroth, which had left a black hole-sized gap in her life and heart.
With the help of those Ladies Imperial, Royal and Divine - who all gave her an abundance of love, support, comfort, as well as wise advise and counsel - over time Princess Esther came be at peace with her mother's departure to the afterlife. They helped Her Imperial and Royal Highness to find, channel and utilize the power deep inside her. This allows me to honour her mother's memory by serving the High Realm of Stormark, that country that was so strange to the Kaiseress Noor, but which she also loved so much.
The Lady Ilyrana beamingly presented Her Imperial and Royal Highness with two sealed off scrolls made of Valtian parchment, and solemnly explained that both of those parchment rolls carried important dispatches from High Realm of Stormark. Princess Esther was slightly bewildered and wondered what tidings could be of such great significance that Lafði Ilyrana had interrupted her High Tea with Her Caputian Majesty's Minister of Reconstruction and Infrastructure. It couldn’t be bad news, because Lafði Ilyrana was radiant like the Princess Esther had not ever seen her before.
Very carefully and very intrigued the Princess Esther studied the precious scrolls. Each of the scrolls had a royal blue Valtian silk ribbon around it. One of the scrolls was sealed off with the Great Seal of the Twenty-Six Jarldoms, also in royal blue; the other with the Seal of the Althing in black.
Princess Esther broke the royal blue Great Seal of the Lands of the Longships Throne of the the first scroll, removed its royal blue Valtian silk ribbon, and unrolled the parchment. Reading its content put a little smile on her face. The High King in the High Council of the Realm had, by means of an Order in Council, issued an Imperial Charter creating the Société des Chemins de Fer Normands - Østfolds Jernbanesellskap. This corporation was to enter in negotiations with Natopian and Caputian companies concerning the establishment of one or more joint ventures for the construction and operation of the Great Keltian Railway as well as the construction and operation of other infrastructural projects on Keltia such as roads, highways, airports and harbours.
It delighted Her Imperial and Royal Highness that the Duchy of Østfold and the Duchy of Normandie - the former is a Storish Biland, the latter is a Storish Jarldom - had been made shareholders of the Société des Chemins de Fer Normands - Østfolds Jernbanesellskap. Both Duchies had played a significant part in the Old Tale, the Saga of Stormark’s Creation. The former by providing High King Harald with his first Ducal Title as well as being the place where he and High Queen Hervör could take a break from the unease, turmoil and tensions in Stormark’s earliest days, having several happy holidays there in the Villa Sorgenfri; the latter by providing the knights whose unstoppable cavalry charge crushed the Harkalegar during the Battle of Myrkviðr and this Norman martial feat saved the High Realm of Stormark. And now these Duchies would play a role in Caputia’s New Tale: its Reconstruction and subsequent road to prosperity.
The Storish Lady Ambassador to Caputia considered the issuance of the Imperial Charter a very good first move by the Imperial Government of the High Realm of Stormark towards its objective of realizing a thoroughly interconnected infrastructure between the Keltian parts of Stormark, Natopia and Caputia, beginning with a high-speed train and a highway from Nordiskehjem to Zalae through Østfold as well as similar transport infrastucture from Quimper to Zalae. The scroll also contained a note which instructed Her Imperial and Royal Highness to, with all due haste, take steps to register the Société des Chemins de Fer Normands - Østfolds Jernbanesellskap. It also informed her of the formation of a Natopian company called A/S Infrastruktur Normark, which might become their partner from the Caprine Country. These were all very good tidings, but it did not explain Lady Ilyrana’s unusual behaviour and cheerful demeanor, so she moved on to the second scroll.
The contents of the second scroll made the Princess Esther gush. The Most Honourable Jarls in the Althing assembled had by means of enacting the Esther of Anglia Act of Year 17 conferred upon her the tremendous honour of admitting her to the Imperial Branch of the House of Ettlingar Freyu. She was a Storjarla! She now was among the company of larger than life Ladies like Björka Hnossdóttir, Freydís Björkasdóttir and the other Storlafðir, the first ten Heads Mortal of the House of Ettlingar Freyu. They were the fabled giantesses who managed to make the House of Ettlingar Freyu one of the Great Thirteen and one of the greatest Imperial and Royal Houses that has ever existed on Reikistjarna, succesfully laying the foundation which maintained it as the same throughout the Days of Valtia.
She was so touched that the Althing had allowed her to follow in the footsteps of her mother, the Kaiseress Noor of Shireroth, and her grandmother, - after whom she was named - the Lady Esther Ayreon-Kairion and Ettlingar Freyu. Her mother had taken great pride in her membership of the Imperial Branch of the House of Ettlingar Freyu. She had desired it so much that she had played hardball, making it a non-negotiable precondition for her consent to her marriage with King Noah of Elwynn.
The Most Honourable Jarls in the Althing assembled had also granted Her Imperial the Imperial Chieftaincy of Normandie, which added to her delight. The Duchy of Normandie was a Storish Jarldom with a special place in Princess Esther’s heart. In the year 1649 her parents - the late Kaiseress Noor of Shireroth and King Noah of Elwynn - had spent a long family holiday there with the mutual children of their bodies: her and Prince Vilhjálm of Amokolia. It had been one of the happiest times of their lives, full of pleasurable activities enabled by the Duchy’s beautiful landscape, its proud history and its rich culture. Now that she was Imperial Chieftaincy of the Twin Peninsula Jarldom, she had the perfect pretext to visit it often.
The Althingi Jarls had also assigned her a place in the Line of Succession to the Imperial Longships Throne as well. For a couple of instances Her Imperial and Royal Highness beamingly imagined herself as High Queen in her own right, being on the Thingvellir sitting on the Longships Throne and being the central mortal of the pomp, pageantry and opulent trappings of the Storish Konungstekja - or as the case would be with her: Drottningstekja. She would have to wed the Goddesses Frigga, Freyja and Idunn, but being bisexual - just like her mother, the Kaiseress Noor of Shireroth - that wouldn’t be an issue at all. Those Goddesses are the best spouses a mortal can wish for!
Then the Princess Esther quickly shrugged off that notion of hers of ascending the Longships Throne in the forseeable future as extremely premature, unrealistic and even downright silly. This because the Grand Old Man on the Imperial Throne of Stormark and the six people in front of her in the Order of Succession to the Longships Throne were light-years away from the croaking zone, and given the way the High King and all those Arvjarl(a)s quaff huge quantities of juice made of Idunn’s apples that situation would definitely persist for a couple of Norton centuries.
There was a little note from Lady Aoife the Celt, the Law Speaker of the Althing, cryptically explaining the rationale of the Esther of Anglia Act of Year 17. The Year 3 Committee had intensely lobbied the High King and Gulajarl to submit the Esther of Anglia Bill to the Althing and also applied some strong-arming and lockstep enforcement to get the Bill passed. She was baffled and wondered why this very aloof committee had done so.
The Year 3 Committee is an Althingi Committee composed of Ladies of the Grand Mysterious Sisterhoods who, as Althing Jarlas, hold a seat in the aforesaid legislature of the whole of the Storish Nation. It is very powerful and secretive. The Committee is named after the Year of the Second Viking Age in which several Ladies of the Grand Mysterious Sisterhoods succesfully petitioned the High King to call the Althing into session again after its first session had expired subsequent to the end of the First Year of the Second Viking Age.
Two phrases for the Lady Aoife’s note - ‘When zie degrade, we elevate.’ and ‘Pacts must be honoured’ - caused the penny to drop. It brought a smile on Princess Esther’s face and she burst into sardonic Olympian laughter.
Her Imperial and Royal Highness’ attention went to Her Caputian Majesty's Minister of Reconstruction and Infrastructure, Gerhardt Eugen Seydlitz. Her rapid succession of emotions could have caused a flurry for His Excellency, so Princess Esther proceeded to explaining to him what tidings had been brought to her.