The kingdom was renowned for the quality of their spider silk thread and the many textiles that were made from it, gowns, cloaks, rope, and even armor. The reason for the quality and abundance of the silk was a large, but benign, spider that lived only, it seemed, in the kingdom named for it, Tortanak.
Indeed, the kingdom established the Royal Spider Company, comprised of the most gifted of spiders who were employed spinning silk for the royal court. Most spiders only made the silk threads. It was human hands that weaved the thread into wondrous things. But some spiders, like the royal spiders, could themselves weave their own silk into fine garb and tapestries. They were treated with special dignity and offered many riches, though most only sought such humble gifts as a warm place to live and spin.
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The king was cruel, both to his daughter and to her suitors. For he was not content for her to be wooed by gifts or by lineage. He devised a contest, a deadly contest, for all who wished to try and win the princess’s hand. She would one day be queen of a rich and prosperous realm by the sea. And the one who stood by her side would share in those riches and that prosperity.
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“Please, Highness, it will only take a moment.”
“I’m sorry, goodwoman. I don’t have a moment. I must be on my way, but I will send help to you.”
With that, High Princess Leonora signaled her carriage driver to continue on and nodded to her guard to ride ahead. He would find a cart and bring it back to the old woman and escort her and her broken wagon into the capitol.
“If you could spare a moment to speak with her, you could have spared a moment more for someone in our party to help fix her wagon,” said Leonora’s godmother, who sat across from the princess.
“The state it was in, they would have had to build her a new one,” Leonora said. She turned and her bright blue eyes were filled with the weight of cares yet unfulfilled. “That would have taken longer than a moment. And I didn’t see you raising your wand, Godmother.”
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