#24: Nice to Meet You

I had to get out of there. It felt like that baby was crying every hour of every day. Every time I managed to shut my eyes, he’d start up again. I was never under any illusions that being a single mother would be easy, but I did think my adventuring pals would be a bit more help than this.

For all of Lisel’s talk about being “friends forever,” she sure seemed to be busy whenever little Star needed someone to hold him. You’d think that “starting a small business” was hard or something. Gods, I just needed some help. Or a break. Or a strong drink. Or an escape.

That was it. I would escape. I could run away. Lisel would step up and raise him if I wasn’t there to do most of the work. Then, I don’t know, I could come back a couple of years later and she would have already fallen in love with him. I would still be his mom and help out with him, but she would think of him as her child. That would be perfect!

Could I do it? I’ve scammed and cheated my whole life, but could I do it to my best friend? I’m sure she wouldn’t be surprised. I found myself in the restroom of a tavern further down the docks from The Blushing Flail. I had been pacing back and forth while this internal monologue had been running. I leaned against the wall and collapsed to a sitting position. I put my head in my hands as I considered betraying my child and my best friend.

“The chamber pots are over there,” a bright feminine voice informed me. “I’m pretty sure they don’t like you doing your business outside the pots. That’s what I’ve been told anyway.”

I looked up and was nearly blinded by the bright colors the figure was wearing. She wore bright pink robes that covered her body and her head was topped with the same color peaked wizard hat. She had long, straight platinum hair. Her skin was a bit more warmly colored than the light-skinned humans I had met. I’d never seen anyone like her, and not just because she had a small pixie completely made of fire sitting on her shoulder singeing her robe. 

“I’m not. . . . “ I began.

“But you do you. I’m not here to tell you how to live your life. Not when I can’t figure out how to live mine,” she complained.

This I appreciated. At least it would be a chance to get my mind off of my own problems.

“Tell me about it,” I told her.

“Well, I just can’t believe what Arcana University is making me do. It’s so awful. I never thought they’d do this to me,” she went on.

“What is it? Maybe there’s someone we can talk to,” I suggested.

“It won’t work, I’ve already tried talking to everybody. And my family is pretty important, so I can’t imagine you would have any more pull than I would,” she concluded.

“Right,” I agreed. I couldn’t help but smile to myself. It was the first time I’d thought about being born royal in the Fey Realm since I’d come here.

“I mean, you’re a River Elf, right? Your skin tone suggests as much,” she said.

I froze. I raised my hand to my head to check if my ears were still hidden. My bandana was still in place. Most humans presumed I was one of them, just mixed race. But this woman someone knew exactly where I’d come from. Hopefully the anti-elf sentiment had calmed down a bit in the past 100 years.

“I’m sorry, I don’t know what you’re . . . “ I said.

“Oh, are you just a tanned high elf? I always get those confused. Anyway, it feels nice to see another elf,” she said, plopping down next to me on the floor. The smell of rotting meat wafted in my direction. I tried to minimize my grimace..

“You know that elves are hated here, right?” I asked her. Her long elven ears were poking out of the rim of her hat. I just couldn’t see them from my position on the floor.

“Boy, do I!” she exclaimed. “Do you think that might be why they’re making me graduate?” She asked.

“Graduate? I thought you said they were making you do something bad,” I said, confused.

“That is bad!” She screamed. “If I graduate, I have to go back to the Fey Realm and get some important responsibility like my sisters. All eight of my big sisters have gotten married and taken on important jobs in the Fey Realm. I don’t want any of that. I just want to keep going to school and have fun for awhile longer.”

She stayed seated next to me and pouted. I knew I need to give her some advice, and unfortunately, it would apply to my situation as well.

“Kianna, sometimes when something is hard, it doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing,” I explained. I could see her mulling this over, so I added a bit of my own story to sell it. “I’m actually stressed out right now because I recently had a baby. I love him, but it is hard to raise something so young. I was surprised to find out he was coming, but I wanted to build a legacy here in Galevyn that was about more than stealing from people. I wanted to bring someone into this world that could help make it better one day. I don’t like not getting enough sleep or going to get the milk magically removed from my breasts at all hours of the day or being having to worry about this tiny helpless thing, but it is worth it if I can raise him to make things better than I did. It is worth it to do something really important.”

I saw her consider this for a long while. Her face crinkled in a cute way that must have been her thinking face.

“I think I get it,” she said thoughtfully. “When I was in the Fey Realm, I mastered summoning magic. I have learned how to use necromanacy.” At least that explained the smell. “But I haven’t mastered it. It doesn’t matter if I’ve taken all the classes and learned all the professors can teach me. There is still more to learn and I know it! I have to march up to Dean Constance and tell him that he can’t make me graduate. I’ll graduate whenever I’m good and ready.”

She stood up defiantly, ready to take on the world. I look up at her from the floor

“That’s not exactly what I was trying to . . . “I tried to explain to her.

“Thank you new friend! I’m so glad I ran into you. I don’t think you ever gave me your name,” she said.

“Asha,” I said. My fatigue fogged my mind enough that I didn’t think to use an alias. I saw recognition flash across her face. She must have realized that I was the lost Spring Princess. There are only so many elves with River Elf skintone named Asha. “It was nice to meet you, Asha. I won’t tell anyone. We should talk again,” she said.

I released a sigh of relief, but I still hopped she didn’t want anything more out of me. After she left the restroom, I pulled myself up from the floor and felt a little better. Even though I had to raise a baby, I didn’t have to worry about responsibilities of the Fey Realm. I felt good knowing that I had made the right decision all those years ago.


These stories serve as inspiration for the upcoming short story collection, Tyranny of the Fey. The collection will be released in Fall 2023. You can get a $1 preview now!

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