The entry into the city and approach to the palace had been carried out perfectly. The gates were opened and closed with such precision that the foreign caravan had not needed to slow until it stopped within the palace itself.
While supply carts regularly journeyed into the palatial complex it was unusual for carriages to enter the complex instead of stopping at the entrance and depositing their guests there.
The princess of the sea kingdom watched the carriages come and reflected on what it meant. She sighed. It meant that even within the city walls they could not trust that their guests would be safe. It meant that even here, at home, in a place she had known all her life amoung the people she had grown up mingling with, no one could be trusted. It meant that only the walls of the palace, her family home, and the guards of the same, could protect people who should need no protecting in the first place. It meant that she had to fear her own people, lest they murder what should be honored guests and plunge the world into devastating war.
It had been a weary sigh.
She watched as various people emerged from the carriages. A priestess, the other kingdom's own guards, lawyers, assorted people who wore various uniforms and insignias she didn't recognize but assumed to be advisors --and the guests themselves.
They had been two of the first out of the carriages but amoung the last she got a good look at. They wore the markings of their royalty. Every kingdom the princess knew of had its own method of distinguishing royalty, this kingdom --whose legends said they came from the eastern desert before settling the farmlands that occupied the majority of their holdings-- marked royalty with intricate designs of jewelry made chiefly from copper and mica extracted from the same desert.
They were both about her age --that was good, she supposed-- the girl was wide-eyed, looking everywhere and taking in every detail as if she were afraid the things she didn't notice would disappear before she got a chance. The boy, the one the princess was to marry, looked joyless. His feet barely cleared the ground as he walked. Eyes stayed downcast. His expression never seemed to change, regardless of what he was looking at.
This was who she was to marry?
When the entourage had assembled the prince finally looked up, his eyes met those of the princess and he spoke in formal tones, "I am Prince Apobammos of the Eraymobatai, this is my sister--" he stopped as he noticed his sister was no longer with him.
For a moment he frantically looked around then he saw her. The foreigner was looking over a wall by the sea.
The princess followed as he ran to his sister. She heard them speaking:
"Have you ever even imagined anything like this?" the foreign princess asked. "It's as big as the eastern desert but it's ... blue." Her brother didn't reply. "And look, it's got it's own dunes. But they're tiny and move fast."
Finally the prince spoke, "It's amazing."
His sister responded, "But what is it?"
The princess tried not to laugh at their ignorance, doubtless she would find many things in their kingdom strange. She, trying not to sound condescending, said, "It's the ocean."
"It can't be," the foreign prince said. "The ocean is made of water."
"And water is clear," his sister added.
This time she couldn't stifle the small laugh that came. She quickly explained, "Shallow water is clear."
They didn't exactly say it in unison, but it was close enough that the princess wasn't sure which started speaking first when they asked, "That's water?"
The three spoke a bit more about the ocean, but the foreign prince soon tired of it and asked if he could visit the local library. The princess gave her his permission and sent her lady in waiting to lead him to it. The various members of the courts had scattered to begin the the work of integrating in preparation for, and defense of, the wedding.
That left the local princess and the foreign one to have a conversation that ranged all over and ended with the foreign one saying, "I still don't know your name."
"You're named 'Honey Bee'?" Lara said, not even thinking to keep the laughter from her voice.
"You're named 'Seagull'," Melitta replied defensively.
"It... it might mean 'Mew'."
"Which is another word for 'Seagull'."
A staring contest began, and soon ended when both princesses broke into laughter.
[Ok, seriously, how boring is it to decide to name a character "Seagull in Latin" and find out the word is Larus, which would have a feminine form of Lara which is a pretty standard name? I mean I could call her Merga (loon) or make up a word: Avimare (bird-sea, to mean seabird) or Maravis (sea-bird to mean seabird) but I wanted "Seagull" damn it. Arabic and Persian have been suggested to me as other possible languages to mine, but when I decided to make the ancient languages of the two kingdoms from which names were drawn be real world languages I picked Latin and Greek.]