"This," she said, in a voice deep and clear, "the Reconquista. The Queen has granted us permission to explore the New World." She held up the poster for all to see. On it wrote: The Reconquista Policy: Adventurous Individuals to explore the New World.

Emmanuel wrinkled his nose. "So, what is the catch?" he asked, as if disbelieving the words on the poster. Merrique frowned and kicked his knee. "Brother, look! We have been granted permission to explore Granado Espada! The time to stand up and fight for what belongs to Vespanola, for what belongs to the Queen! The time is now! Are you not with me on this?" she exclaimed, tapping on the piece of paper excitedly.

He sighed and pushed her away. He shook his head and placed his hands on his hips. "The New World is filled with dangers and monsters that are unknown to us; you make an impossible request for the both of us to explore that piece of savage land? Granado Espada is not a playground, my dear sister. Last I heard there were dinosaurs roaming about in Ustiur." He cupped her face with his hands. "Look at me, Merrique. Leave the explorations to the others. What fame, fortune and glory there is to take, I do not want them. I only want you to be safe, and stay by my side always."

She stuck her tongue out at him and pulled away. No one understood why she wanted to go to Granado Espada. Everyone told her it was impossible; it would be a dangerous expedition, especially for a girl only eighteen years of age. She turned around and started walking. "I will talk to Amadeus about this. He will agree to it. And then you can do nothing but to come with us too," she shouted, feeling pretty heated up from her conversation with her beloved brother.

A short walk from the garden to the stable found Amadeus just getting out for a stroll with her horse, Bella. "We let you stay with us because you are our friend, not because you would become part of the household help," she spoke, amused. Bella neighed and shook her head slightly. She seemed to be in good spirits.

Amadeus smiled a little and blushed. "Viktor has to tend to your father's horse, so I am taking Bella out for her daily stroll instead." He gestured at the piece of paper in her hand. "Is it the poster that everyone has been talking about all morning?" he asked, ever so polite. Merrique nodded. "Granado Espada is a place so new, yet rich. Fueled by the gold our country has invested in her. It is only right for us to set up our businesses there, don't you think?"

The both of them started walking in a comfortable pace, with Bella for company. The clean spring breeze lightly tousled her shoulder-length raven hair. This year's spring was surprisingly nice.

"You are not interested in the business opportunities in the New World; you want to explore the wild regions and make a name for yourself." He smiled a little, and then shook his head. "It is not a good move you play with the king on your chessboard, Merrique."

She closed her eyes and sighed. Ever since Granado Espada was discovered, she'd dreamt of exploring the most dangerous jungles and caves there. Look at all the treasures! The virgin land is waiting for us. "If all my pawns are going to stay in their original positions, then I will have to make the best moves with my king. You see it as stupid or unwise, but you will soon see the good it reaps."

Amadeus stopped. Bella cried and kicked her hooves. "We all cannot wield swords and daggers in times of danger; what makes you think we will survive the wildest of Granado Espada?" he asked suddenly.

Merrique chuckled. It was a question whose answer was right in front of him. "Guns. Rifles. Pistols. You remember I have bayonets. And Emmanuel is well-versed in magic and wizardry, the dark arts. You have studied all your life the art of healing and recovery; is it not the time to put your skills and knowledge to great use?" She held his free hand and grasped it tight. "You are my best friend, Amadeus. I entrust my life to you." Then she let go of him and smiled weakly.

Amadeus smiled weakly and looked down at his boots. "I do not know what to say, except that I am much honored to be your… best friend." He bowed his head a little and sighed. "I have to walk Bella now. We will continue the talk after dinner."