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Travel can often provide new perspectives. Initially I was reluctant to leave. So many delicately balanced plans that require my constant attention. Yet again I am forced to play the conservative in the face of tradition and expectation. Even so, some education did come of it. The foreign King and Queen were a handsome and personable couple, generous and well-spoken. But I noticed a shall I put it...familiarity from their populace. While they seemed well-loved by their people, they allowed a great deal of jocularity at their own expense. As I say...dangerous.

Ah, but I remember your lessons well, Niccolo. As you point out, if a ruler must choose between being loved and feared, it is better to be feared. For a man loves by his own volition and may withdraw his love as he sees fit. However, he fears at the will of his oppressor, and is thereby controlled.

Still, the people (once subjects of the Dragon,) have not forgotten their warrior heritage. A few gifts, cookies of all things, may bear fruit in future endeavors.