As the carriage slowly made its way down the fields of the Southern Plains, Queen Ineira Rhodri was lost in thought. During the late winter, her father became seriously ill. Ineira knew her father was strong, so she waited until the snow began to melt to travel home. At first thaw, she sent word to her sisters to gather at their family House, then prepared for the long trip from Oswin to the Black Mountains in the northern most reaches of Belanore.
By the time she arrived, the funeral preparations were underway, and Castle Brynmor was draped in black. Ineira cursed herself for not setting out sooner, however, she went about her duty of preparing the castle for the funeral celebration, as was the custom in the north.
She adored her father and found it hard to celebrate his life when all she wanted was to see him again. But Ineira received the guests and toasted her father during the ceremony, but inwardly she mourned. She had no brothers, or uncles, the family name would be lost.
The Black Mountains only partially thaw in the warm season, and Ineira embraced the bleak landscape of the north, devoid of the rich colors of the south. Too soon she would have to pack away all the memories, dispatch her childhood possessions, close and chain up the castle gates, and send away the staff, many which she had known as since childhood.
She walked the damp, empty halls in silence for many days, lost in remembrance. The years hiding in the narrow passages under the stone stairs, sneaking into the library to read when all else were asleep, stalking through the catacombs to hunt for treasure, running with her sisters out in the courtyard. Vivid memories of a happier time.
Until they left. Married off, first Enaid, then Gadrian. She was happy for them, but the castle was only cold stone walls without their laughter. She remembered too many days without laughter before her sisters were born. Ineira was the oldest, but never looked older, and her mother always treated her differently, sheltered her. After her sisters left, her mother’s laughter withered like the castle.
She remembered the day when King Iago came with his son – so handsome and young. She shoved the memory away, it felt like treason. She never regretted her decision to marry Darsell, only the distance her new life created between her and her father.
When she could no longer put it off, the queen made one final treasure hunt into the catacombs, and then set out, leaving behind House Rheinhalt and the castle in the center of Brynmor.
Though summer was fading, the ride south was harder than the earlier ride north. To travel swiftly, she had only brought a small caravan of attendants and guards. However, as they made their way back, the queen insisted they stop at several towns and villages throughout Belanore. The days stretched until they were shorter than the nights, and finally they arrived at Heddwyn during the harvest season. Ineira sent her Master of Arms ahead.