”That certainly is one of the larger fleets that I have observed. How long have they been present?”
Xana lowered the pair of binoculars that she was looking over the northern edge of Belsegallia’s main island with before turning to face Ariana. Normally she would have needed a much more powerful optical device in order to see more than a few hundreds of meters down, but the heavy clouds and mist that usually surrounded Belsegallia were unusually thin enough for the ocean surface to be visible.
”A patrol said that it sighted a large flare-like object being fired around sunrise, or roughly four hours ago. Making out the features of the ships is difficult from this distance, but they do not appear to match the construction and styling of Rocovan or Ghratean vessels; they may be from another foreign nation.”
Ariana had said “foreign nation,” but Xana understood her as more likely referring to yet another inhabitant of the strange land that laid beneath the clouds. While the Belsedori were reasonably knowledgeable about nearby aerial nations, it had been less than three years since they first began to encounter terrestrial dwellers like the Rocovans; such meetings had so far gone relatively well for the Belsedori and resulted in the opening of trade, but none of them had involved a contacting party as large as the fleet of ships that had recently announced its presence to them.
”Naturally. Do you feel the intensity of the magical aura radiating from the boats? Neither Rocova nor Ghratos has previously been known to use magic to such an intensive degree; furthermore, the aura is different from the kind of magic that the Ghrateans prefer.”
”They do seem to be carrying a worrying amount of energy, Should I send for the sky navy as a precaution?”
Xana considered the proposal for a moment. Having one or more airships move into a position where they could be visible from the ocean surface might be seen as an aggressive action, but some amount of hedging also seemed appropriate; an airship of some description might also be necessary to transport a diplomatic party from the ships if they wished to send one.
Xana waved her hand before motioning for an aide to bring her something. She then quickly wrote a message onto a sheet of paper before sealing it in an envelope and handing it to a guard, which left shortly after with several others.
”A visible show of force is not yet necessary at this time, but several of the ships will be ready to set off on short notice if needed. In the meantime, have any of our newest guests attempted to fly up to here yet?”
Ariana shook her head.
”None that we are aware of. They may be waiting for us to send a party down to them instead.”
”Hmm. I could organize a diplomatic delegation to send down, but that would keep our visitors waiting for a while; and besides, it would be more fun to go visit them myself. In the meantime, make the usual preparations to receive land-dwelling visitors.”
Just as Xana turned around to fly off of the edge of the island, Ariana quickly asked her one last question.
”You’re going down alone? What should I do if the foreigners attempt to harm you, your majesty?”
Xana tossed the pair of binoculars that she was using into the hands of Ariana before replying with a playful smile.
”You keep track of how many ships I sink before the rest of them run away!”
And with that, Xana swiftly applied an invisibility spell to herself before diving over the edge of Belsegallia.
Xana teleported herself the last thousand or so meters into the air above the bow of the largest, most heavily decorated ship that she could see on approach, dispelling the invisibility that she had been using while diving for the last few minutes in the process. She then landed on her feet at the base of the ship’s bowsprit, creating a loud thud that likely alerted anybody that hadn’t yet seen her to her presence. Rather than fold her bright red wings as she normally did while on the ground, Xana elected to keep them outstretched at their full 5-meter wingspan to the sides as she addressed the ship’s crew using translation magic and an exceptionally loud voice.
”Good morning, visitors! I am Xana L’aderina, official representative of the glorious Kingdom1 of Belsegallia under which you are currently sailing; and, as you have requested with your flare, I have arrived to speak to the woman in charge of this fleet.”
Staying true to her stated diplomatic purpose, Xana was not carrying any immediately visible weapons. She was, however, wearing intricately crafted and seemingly enchanted metallic armor sans helmet, made from something resembling silver and set with a variety of lavender- and yellow-colored gemstones. The lack of a helmet also made it easier to see the extremely pale peach-colored skin, crimson-red hair, and luminescent yellow irises that clearly distinguished her from a human, while her plainly visible wings, feathered tail, and taloned feet indicated a clearly avian character. Additionally, both her apparel and Xana herself radiated an immensely strong magical presence that would be highly noticeable to anything and anyone capable of sensing magical energies.
1The Belsedori word Koletsa has a literal meaning roughly equivalent to “monarchy” or “rulership”; despite this and the extremely matriarchal nature of Belsedori culture, however, it is commonly translated to “kingdom” in concordance with more common naming conventions for monarchies other than Belsegallia.