It was a small wonder he hadn’t worn a groove in the floor.

That floor was good hardwood, topped by a thick rug which, given the prior ambassador’s lavish tastes, was surprisingly understated and tasteful, yet which still might be worth more than the entire home Nicolai di Casson had grown up in before the seminary. But he’d been pacing across both of them for long enough that he’d quite lost track of time by this point, and he was hardly a small man. Some part of his mind half-expected there to be a rut a hand’s-breadth deep worn through the wood by now.

This post was a comfortable one, and the people he’d been sent to treat with were decent, honourable folk, however bewildering the array of customs their populace exhibited could sometimes be to a provincial knight of Rendayn like himself. His peers at the negotiating table treated him with respect, his staff was dutiful and attentive, his host the King was friendly and approachable and shockingly willing to put up with Nicolai’s foibles and occasional gaffes – and that didn’t even touch on the court wizard.

So why did this spacious, comfortable suite feel so much like a cell?