Lady Natasha Rambovalina Ulanova heaved a huge sigh of relief as she disembarked from the carriage that had brought her from the waterfront to the Queen’s palace in the very center of the capital. The narrow roads and alleys of the city were forever clogged with others in carriages, with wagons full of produce and other wares that were pulled by large beasts of burden and then there were the people on foot, risking life and limb in order to move from one part of the city to another, often just a block or two away. If she’d left the pier on foot, unencumbered by luggage, she could have made the journey to the palace in about an hour. By carriage, it took twice that time.
Speaking to her lady’s maid, who doubled as her sole traveling companion, Lady Natasha said, “Go on, Sally! Lead the way!”
There was a sizable welcoming party for Lady Natasha. Included in the mix were the Archbishop for the Capital who had several lower prelates, abbesses, monsignors, and even acolytes swinging their censors, belching incense into the air. The Captain of the Guard was there with a small contingency of men carrying their pikes against their shoulders. The Prime Minister was there as well to greet the daughter of his oldest brother.
“At last, our visitor from the frozen north has arrived!” Exclaimed the Prime Minister with open arms to embrace his niece. “You look even more beautiful than the last time we met.”
“Well, when you wrote to me telling me that the Queen needed a new lady in waiting, I had to respond in person.