The eagle pumped her wings to catch a wind current, gliding through the warm summer air. She was the typical height for an eagle of the land, about three feet long, head to tail. Her beautiful plumage, feet, and beak were precisely the color of the lavender sky. Only her deep, black eyes betrayed her form as she flew north, looking below her at the flat, grassy, sunlit countryside.
Behind her, to the south, was her own home in the cliffs near the foaming sea. Farther back was the country of Calma, the land of sun. The eagle looked at the country of Air-ren, with its tall mountains, laying to the east. Focusing far to the north, she saw the distant form of Sue-lima, whose name meant 'the country of peace'. She recalled that a country's name was not always accurate.
The eagle lived in the country of fantasy, Jet-a-Miray. Like most other territories, it was naturally separated from all adjacent countries by rivers. In earlier years, the Sela's, or queen's, ancestors had built walls separating the country from nearly all of its neighbors. These walls had been erected for various, juvenile, reasons. The Sela's great-great-great grandfather, for instance, hadn't liked the color of the curtains in his guest room at the castle of Sue-lima. He had started a war with the country over this minor detail, and finally put a wall up to separate the nations. Other walls had been put up for other reasons, ranging from disagreements on arranged marriages to fights over gold. Still, the arguments between countries were always petty.
The eagle, along with the queen and all but the most narrow-minded of Jet-a-Miray's subjects, realized the walls were a foolish idea. They isolated Jet-a-Miray from other countries and limited trade. They were placed on Jet-a-Miray's side of the rivers which naturally divided the countries, cutting off many water supplies to the land. And they served as reminders of the petty battles, preventing the countries from coming to peace. Jet-a-Miray had no allies but Tas-et-lal, known as the 'place with kindness'--the country to the northeast, and the only nation that had no wall along its border with Jet-a-Miray. (It was near fairyland, the small glowing 'country' inside Jet-a-Miray, where the fairies resided.) The country of fantasy's citizens hoped the new Sela would have a better foreign policy than her ancestors had had.
Sela Ber-Islo-Tayli-So-Ber-Ol was the wisest and most peaceful queen in the history of Jet-a-Miray (which wasn't saying much). She had been named for 'the color greater than the sky'--a color past violet on the color spectrum which humans in our world cannot see. In that world, they called it Kotu. Hence, the queen was often referred to as Sela Kotu for short. She was young, only about 24 years old, and had become Sela at the sudden death of her parents when she had lived for only 17 years. Some of her subjects felt she could not do a good job as Sela at her young age, especially considering her parents had mostly sheltered her from the outside world and the more undesirable parts of being a monarch, such as declaring war. The nobles of the country tried to pressure her into marrying an old mayor of one of the larger towns. The queen refused, however, and married a commoner when she wasn't quite 21. During her marriage, the Sela had been considered by some to be a bit lightheaded and irresponsible about her personal affairs, if not those of her country, but she was happy. Ever since her husband's mysterious death, one-and-a-half years ago, she had spent all of her time concentrating on her country's business, to overcome her grief. She had sent ambassadors of peace to all Jet-a-Miray's enemies, in her belief that no country needed to fight another. Negotiations about tearing down the wall separating the country from Air-ren were underway. The eagle knew the peace agreements were a good idea. After all, Jet-a-Miray, like all countries, could use more allies and fewer enemies. She just hoped that it wasn't too late to make amends, and that the Sela would be able to deal with the countries that opposed peace.
The eagle veered to the west and scanned the deep purple sea, which was almost directly below her. The gleam of a fish's scales caught her eye. The large bird hovered, preparing to strike. She folded her wings back and dove toward her prey at lightning speed, ready to catch the fish in her talons. Suddenly, she felt a violent pulling at her feathers and heard a shrill scream directly behind her. The eagle flapped her wings in surprise and banked upwards, missing her prey.
"Now look what you did!" exclaimed the eagle angrily. "That was my dinner!"
"There are other fish in the sea," said a cheerful voice to the back of her, attempting to sound philosophical, and failing horribly.
"If you aren't careful, then I'll have you for dinner," replied the eagle, managing to look both menacing and playful.
"Everyone knows that you don't like the taste of mice."
"In your case, I'll make an exception."
The mouse giggled as she rode on the eagle's back.
Go on to Chapter 2
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