The Hidexeiee border crossing had, depending on the administration in the Capitol, held between one and six guards in the time since it had become known as Dead Crossing.

Two generations past, the Hidexeiee had suddenly, over the course of three days, blocked up the entire mountain pass between the two nations; what seemed like every mason in the country had been on the border, laying brick after brick until the border post at the past - the only way to get between Hidexeia and Delava - was closed and sealed.

Visitors to the nearby Sepulchen, which shared borders with Hidexeia and Deleva and was on peaceful terms with both, discovered that their border with Hidexeia was also bricked up. Any other nearby nations either didn't share borders with Hidexeia or were not nearly on good enough terms with Deleva to discuss the matter.

The border was closed; the ambassador had luckily been back in the capital at the time; the post remained but became a place to send people that had annoyed someone in power in the Glittering City at the heart of Deleva.

Karana knew what she'd done to get sent to the Dead Crossing, or, rather, what hadn't been her doing. The injury that had cost her the lower half of her left leg had been caused by accident and incompetence on the part of the youngest child of a rich, influential noble. Karana's Capitol posting was an embarrassing and constant reminder of the incompetence that had injured her.

What had exiled Tobam to this dead-end posting, he'd never said, but from the scars on his face and collarbone (dueling scars) and the rings on his left hand (love-rings), she had her guesses.

When there were four or six people at the posting, they kept two guards at front post day and night, but with only two people there, they shut down the posting - which very nicely blocked a road running right into a brick wall - from dinner through the end of breakfast. Never in Karana's three years out here had anyone complained, or even showed up.

Karana woke first, strapped on her leg, and made her way down from the upstairs lodging to the small kitchen. The guard post was two towers athwart the road, with a mobile wall between them to stop those entering or exiting Hidexeiee. The second tower was currently being used for storage, since then they only had to heat one tower in the colder months.

She had heated up the cookstove before she thought to go outside -- for the pump; other postings had the new interior water, but Dead Post got no upgrades.

She walked around the post, thumping carefully on her prosthetic leg - Tobam had carved this one for her, and it worked far better than the peg she'd used before - then around it again.

On the third time, she acknowledged the evidence of her senses. The brick wall was gone. Not broken, not opened - gone. Gone far more quickly than it had been put up, if the records were true.

Across the stone line paved into the ground that marked the border, the guard post stood just as it had in illustrations. Flags flew over both towers, far more vibrant than the ones that normally flew over the Dead Crossing Towers.

They were the wrong colors. The lion was the same, the lozenges with their own smaller patterns the same, but the field was no longer purple but sunset orange; the lion was black now and not golden, and the lozenges looked to be quartered black and purple now.

Karana remembered herself and bowed to the guards. They were in their shiny new tabards as well, where she was still in her shirt-sleeves. "A moment," she asked them, and, when they nodded, she hurried into the guardhouse.

"Tobam! Tobam! TOBAM!"

A hasty ten minutes later, they were both dressed in their best uniforms. Tobam had flown both the finest flags they had been saving in case of a royal visit. And they had a kettle on for tea while they aired out both towers.

She bowed again to the guards across the border and, then, to the woman not wearing a uniform who stepped up to the line.

"Greetings to Deleva."

"Greetings to -" Karana raised her voice in question.

"The Republic of Manolbriso, on which, may the sun never set." The woman - ambassador? General? Messenger? - smiled even more broadly.

Karana swallowed her surprise, swallowed everything and bowed. A new nation. It might be a new nation in the same place that a nation had previously been, but it was, still, a new nation. She pulled up every bit of courtly manners that she'd let atrophy in her time at the Dead Crossing "Let me be the first to welcome Manolbriso to Deleva. We will need to send a messenger to the Capitol, of course. But in the meantime, may our station be as a home to you, your home in Deleva."

The probably-ambassador's smile was knowing and broad. "I thank you and Deleva very much, and I appreciate Deleva's kindness in welcoming us."

First people to talk to the ambassador to a new nation.

Hosts to the first talks with a new nation.

Karana couldn't wait to see the faces of the people they'd left back at the Capitol. "Do they drink tea in Manolbriso? I have my own private blend, if you'd like..."