Change has often been an ally in my misfortune. Once I was a slave of the Kalanthian Empire until change chanced upon me, enabling me to escape from my mistress. I fled north, looking for my people, only to stumble into the coils of an even more formidable mistress. Nevalyn took me in, taught me to reinvent myself. She instructed me in elegance, grace, and terror. From Her example, I learned how to be someone worthy of the royal “we”. Without the Serpent, Serena Jasior would never have been born from shell that was Xian. Without Nevalyn’s lessons in magic, power, and guile which Xian listened to, the Imperatrix could never have united the scattered human lands into a single empire capable of standing against the Serpent. If not for Xian’s time spent at Nevalyn’s side, she never would have met Daeric Nevalyn, Magdalene, or learned of the Serpent-Born, how useful they could be as allies or slaves. If not for the lessons Nevalyn schooled Xian in, Xian might never have overcome her fears of the Kalanthian Empire in order to court them, woo their secrets of the golden chains which can bind the Serpent-Born, forcing them to submit. If not for timid little Xian’s fears, Serena might never have shared them with the Order of the Dragon, enabling them to rise and oppose those fears. Serena Jasior’s position of power was born from change, the ever-changing nature of Xian. Only now we as Serena Jasior must return to being Xian in order to deal with A Suitor’s Challenge, to patronize from the shadows an extremely valuable young suitor to our beloved brother, Stephen, whom has challenged him in magical combat. Something is wrong with Stephen, of course we’ve noticed that. His reckless behavior threatens all that we’ve built. He is our weakness, our precious adopted sibling, whom we’ve cherished and overindulged, perhaps because he reminds us so much of Daeric. We are not naive enough not to notice how Stephen is being manipulated by an inward force, perhaps even a part of the Serpent Herself. It is time to move a few pawns of our own, to seize control of Kyra, Stephen’s brave little suitor, see that she becomes our pawn. For change may be our ally, but its favor is fickle. It can shift to support our enemies, toppling all that we have built. We must be prepared to shift as well, to meet whatever conflict they oppose us with. We shall ride the waves of change, not be toppled over by them. This we swear.