The Overlord laughed, “I shall look forward to meeting your candidates Lady Sophia and look forward even more to watching them strike terror into the hearts of my advisors.”
The deity sniffed, “It serves them right. Don’t be afraid to deviate a little from their list, Sophia. Remain aware of the political implications but know you may find a little flexibility useful.”
Sophia nodded, thanked the deity again and the group left to begin the walk to the cottage.
As the Overlord hoped, they were just in time (and all expected) for dinner and it was a warm, happy, busy meal, marked by light conversation and informality, although Connor had some trouble adjusting to calling the Overlord ‘Adam’.
After dinner, they all moved to Evan’s study, where the Overlord produced his advisors’ list and they started plotting the location of the ladies therein on the map taking up most of one wall of the room.
Once they were all marked, he took a step back and eyed the flags littering the chart, “Firstly, Lillia. Candidates have been included but, since my mother was Lillian before her marriage, it would be seen as awkward and possibly favouritism to have another Overlady from there so soon.”
“Should we suggest anyone, or just go through the motions there?”
“We need to invite at least one eligible young lady. Maybe someone you think is feeling a little cramped and could do with some broader horizons.”
“Oh that’s easy. We don’t need to spend much time there then. Where should we go next?”
Connor looked at her, “You don’t want to spend time with your family?”
Sophie sighed, “I’m scared that if I do more than breeze through, I’ll be somehow dragged back into my old life and after all this, I don’t think I would be able to endure it.”
He nodded and turned to the map, “Right. If we need to see all these ladies and be back in time to send invitations for midsummer, we’re going to have to cover a fair bit of ground quite quickly. Is there any reason you wouldn’t just send out the invitations for everyone to attend and then get the report on who to focus on?”
“It’s a good point”, the Overlord grimaced, “I just want to avoid the women who don’t want to be a part of this being pushed into situations they don’t want.”
“And there’s what the deity told me about being flexible with the list. There may be a name or two we need to add, and it will look very strange if their invitations are sent at a different time.”
Connor hummed agreement and began planning a basic route, “So we start with breezing as fast as we politely can through Lillia, and head north to Weriban, then across to Leaf. If we don’t hit huge delays or problems, we can cross the Highpine mountains to Rimeth well before the first snows on the northern pass.”
Sophia joined him at the map, “That would be good as I think we’ll need to spend some time there. It’s not part of our United Kingdoms and an Overlady from there would be a useful alliance. Plus it’s a place I don’t know as much about, I’ll need to do more research and spend more time to understand your candidates there.”
Connor picked back up again, “That works, we can move down the country and cross back over on the permanent pass in the south with time to cover both Astra and Syonelle before getting to the Overcourt with a couple of months to spare before midsummer.”
Sophie nodded, “We’d need to send invitations straight away. In fact if I can get the suggested Rimeth candidates to you early, it would help.”
Evan had suggestions there and Sophia agreed to have a chat with her djinn friends in the morning. ‘Losing’ the list would see it land in Evan’s study if properly marked, but he wasn’t as sure about being able to forward the list on to the Overlord in time.
The Overlord added his voice to the discussion, “It would be a good opportunity for you, Sophia, to establish contacts in the various locations you visit, so something that will allow ongoing communication with a number of areas is likely to be very helpful in your future work as well as now.”
Sophia laughed delightedly, “Am I setting up my own spy network?”
“Let’s call them friendly sharers of news for now.”
Plan in place, Sophia copied the list down by location and started adding her own notes. She was slightly surprised at how much she knew about these women from little comments and stories shared over the years.
Imelda shooed her off to bed before she was even halfway through the list, “You can finish it when you’re fresh tomorrow. The information isn’t going anywhere.”
Sophia stretched and looked around the room, “The good news is, I think I can strike off quite a few of these ladies almost immediately. I’ll still investigate of course, things get distorted across distances and circumstances may have changed but there are quite a few prior attachments and a number of others who are not going to be at all suited to the role.”
On that note, the group retired for the night, ready for further planning, this time on logistics and identities, in the morning.