The throne room was arrayed spectacularly for Hembila’s coronation. Flowering vines were brought in from across the river and hung to make a beautiful set of eves. Inifra drew water through old fountains and Dionus cleared the musty scent with a slow but steady breeze. There were flowers everywhere, including some of the kind that Gront introduced us to so many months ago.

I think that was the hardest part for us, seeing such a stark reminder of the sacrifice made and remembering our own losses. Balthandar enjoyed the blue flowers best.

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Hembila was quite dignified through the whole process and elected to be crowned by Inifra, the truly independent Nantese present and a representative of a higher power. Once the crown sat upon his head he made a short speech commemorating the loss of his brother and the sacrifice of so many others, and then promised to bring about a new era of peace and prosperity to the Nanten.

The Arbor King, he said, had sprouted from the stump of his ancestors at last.

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“May the roots grow deep,” the crowd intoned. “And the boughs bear endless fruit for our children.”

Then they celebrated. I think that was when this all felt real, when the joy of our accomplishment was most poignant. Musicians appeared along the colonnades and we danced for what felt like hours. There was plenty to drink and more food than I’ve seen since our time in Motasta. They’d carted in the best they could find from as far out as they could draw.

I met some new faces, representatives from the Batsu and Yatusu who made it just in time for the ceremony. The Sondu are still a little too far south, but there were enough to see their man made king. They will be the happiest tonight.

I think that there is a real peace here, an underlying pleasure in seeing Hembila crowned. It isn’t the result universally hoped for, but there was no such result. It is, however, the best possible end that I can imagine for the kingdom.

Damn Salisir, but he really did know what he was doing.

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