Kyave stared at the queen for a long time, not sure what to say. This was exactly what King Reon had wanted for him, yet…yet what would the queen need from him?
"Um, of course, Your Majesty. What do you need of me? I am at your service."
The queen smiled. "Please, don't be so formal. I have need of your help and formalities will only get in the way. You see, I've spent a lot of time around the different parts of Heswa, talking to people, meeting them, getting to know them and their way of life so that I could better govern them and…and you're right. Too many people are forced onto useless paths because of others, and that's no way for a country to grow."
"Um, yeah, I guess." That sounded stupid, but Kyave knew that whatever he said would sound stupid, and at least this way, he sounded stupid out of shock rather than ignorance.
"And so I need you, a foreigner who never knew these ideas to, help prove the ideas wrong. Or at least, flawed."
"Um." Kyave bit his lip as his brain froze up. He wanted to help the queen, and she seemed to genuinely want and need help…but how was he supposed to know what to do? He barely knew anything about Heswa. He was an ambassador, a diplomat, not a ruler. Dytan was the one that governed, not him. "How?"
"That is the question, isn't it? I'm not entirely sure. I was hoping you would have some ideas."
"With all due respect, Your Majesty, you would know your own people much better than I and should have much greater insight into what could persuade them."
"Too true," the queen said, sighing. She cupped her hands together on the table and rested her rounded chin in them. "And here I was hoping you would have an idea. Si'ra, can you think of anything?"
Kyave was startled to hear her ask her bodyguard such a question, but Si'ra's expression didn't change. She merely replied, "My lady, we've already discussed this in great detail. You know I haven't been able to think of anything plausible."
The queen nodded glumly.
"Um…Your Majesty…I would be honored to help you think of a solution to your problem. I'm afraid I won't be much help, but I will do what I can…"
Queen Malwe smiled. "Thank you, Kyave."
"Well, um, first, you need to figure out why no one will let the…um, discriminated groups do anything, right?" That sounded good, at least.
Queen Malwe gave him a puzzled glance. "But Ambassador, they don't do anything because no one considers them capable of doing anything of use."
"So, find a way to disprove that assumption. Guys can do lots of things." Kyave crossed his legs to keep them still. They were slowly starting to unravel the problem and he wasn't good at staying still when the flashes of realization started going off.
The queen blinked. "I…I suppose they can." She smiled brilliantly at him and Kyave knew why everyone was so fond of her. She had a wonderful smile. "I'll have to think of something to prove they do important things, too. Or perhaps I should start smaller?"
"They're your people, Your Majesty, as I have said. Small adjustments will be easier, but they will have less impact and take longer to do anything."
The monarch sighed. "Yes, I suppose you're right. But these are my problems and I should be discussing them with my advisors, not you. I'm so glad you've agreed to help me with this. I'll inform you when the final details are worked out. For now, tell me about Sheva."
"Sheva?" Kyave asked. It took him a moment to remember what Sheva was and why the queen would want to hear about it. He'd gotten too engrossed in problem solving, and it came as a shock to have the conversation ended. "Oh. Well, it's colder than it is here."
The queen laughed. "What else?"
"Well, our capital, Ishvar, is where the king lives and it's off the coast. It's a nice place, but I didn't grow up near there and my family didn't take too many trips out there, so I don't know the king as well as I would like. My older brother is in charge of Illyo, the region I'm from. There's a lot of farming in the western half of the country, which is where Illyo is, and the eastern half is more dedicated to trade and the production of things. But on the western border, there are also mountains, where many things are mined. They're also beautiful, especially in the summer."
Kyave paused. That was all information someone could get from reading a book. What was the point of an ambassador but to provide more personal information than that? "Um, we have four big festival days, on the shortest day of the year, the longest, and the two days split evenly between light and dark. We have a few minor holidays as well, but everyone celebrates the festival days according to the traditions for the season. When the winter snows are heavy, the winter solstice is the one of the only times anyone gets together as a community."
"What kind of things do you farm?"
"Um." Kyave shrugged. "I'm not a farmer. Grains, mostly, I think. And corn. My family has a pear orchard as well."
"I had a pear from up north once! They were sweeter than they looked."
Kyave smiled. "Most of our food isn't as…flavorful…as yours is." It wasn't as spicy, at least, and it didn't set Kyave's mouth on fire. But Sheva definitely had its sweets.
"Oh, but it was good!"
"I have a fondness for them, myself," Kyave admitted. He bit his lower lip and chewed on it. As much fun as reminiscing about home was, he was still worried about the queen's earlier questions. Why would she want to talk about something so serious and then switch topics to fruit?
"Oh, we should trade with Sheva just for the lovely things and food they have," the queen said, smiling at her bodyguard. To Si'ra's credit, she didn't respond with anything more than a thin smile.
"Um, is there anything else you'd like to hear about?" Kyave asked. "About…our government or something?"
The queen waved her hand dismissively. "No, I've heard much about that already. Tell me, do people in Sheva really carry swords around?"
"What? No, that would be silly."
The queen pouted. "Well, that's boring."
"I'm afraid Sheva isn't always fun…" Kyave replied.
"Then tell me more about your festival days!"
Kyave sighed and started detailing out the traditions for each season. Obviously the queen wasn't going to be persuaded back onto more serious topics.