“Gentlemen,” said the queen to the assembled warlords, “there were five different types of butterflies on a flower in my garden this morning. They were getting along wonderfully. If you asked me which was the best or most beautiful of them all, I wouldn’t know which to pick or how to describe them.” She glanced around the room where the five chiefs stood. They were all at odds with each other and with the crown, and they were meeting to either settle their conflicts or escalate to a full-fledged war. The men were heavy-looking and bearded except for one, who had a long, red, angry scar across his chin. Queen Gizella was known for her eccentricities and her similes. This was the woman who’d bewitched both the Byzantine emperor and the pope, a high-born without the affectations of the nobles, and without falseness. There were a few among those present who envied the king his wife. “It is plain, my queen,” said the scarred squire, “that you wish us to flutter around your face like butterflies, who’re also drawn to light, as we are drawn to your glamour.” This was a moment of dangerous flattery, because the man lied. Surely, Gisela thought, his tongue was black from lies. “But of course,” said the queen, “I thank you kindly for your apt compliment. I merely wished to help you onto the path towards amiable negotiations so that together you can bring peace and prosperity to our land. It is like a garden between high hills, this land.” She smiled at the warriors, who’d already braced themselves for controversy, and were caught off guard by her soft response. Later, when they entered the room reserved for the parley, there were freshly cut, scented flowers on the table, making the butterfly in each of them leap at the sight without them knowing it. They began their talks in an unexpectedly good mood, sobered by the sensations of beauty, and Gisela’s female reign had once again subtly succeeded.