“Step through! Step through!”
The woman who stepped through the portal had never been bawled at so robustly in her life. She opened her mouth to protest the treatment and then stopped when she saw the size of the crowd in the Portals Hall.
“Is everyone in the Free Lands here?” asked her companion.
“Only half of them.” She followed an impatiently beckoning hand in the direction of a door bearing the legend “Diplomatic Visitors.” “I suppose the Princess of Pür choosing a husband attracts the hopeful.”
“Or the hopeless,” said her companion with a sniff.
“Perhaps you might save your witticisms until we’re at the Embassy?”
“I don’t see why we can’t have a portal in the Embassy,” her companion grumbled. “It would save us all this mingling . . . Or at least, we could have come last week when the Prince’s family did.”
The woman handed a form to the official at the desk. Because this was the Diplomatic Visitors desk, the official contrived to look only a little bored as he scanned the document.
“Rati, from Melucha? And this is . . . Dev? Anything to declare?”
“Poisons, knives, other weapons?”
“How uncouth.” The official shrugged. “Normally, we don’t bother diplomatic visitors, but after the incident yesterday, we’ve increased security. Any luggage?”
“Sent ahead. What…