“I just wish we didn’t have to split up,” Traci says, looking at me with those big, brown eyes.
“I know, Trace, but I need to stay near Maxwell, and you need to keep a lookout for anything suspicious,” I explained the plan to her again.
“O.K., just take care of yourself. I won’t be here to save you,” she teased.
“We both know that I’ll be the one to do the saving,” I retorted.
“Asha, we’re in this together. We save each other,” she repeated. This was one of our regular refrains.
“You’re right. I know you’re right. We save each other,” I said. I embraced her one last time before she got into position. We gave each other a quick goodbye kiss. Traci teleported away.
Since running away from my arranged marriage and traveling to Galevyn to become an adventurer, I was surprised to find out that there was so much adventuring to do in the city of Anglachel. Anglachel is a massive city, and there is no shortage of businesses needing help getting rid of rodents, students needing help finding specific herbs from the Jungle of Despair, and packages that nobles wanted to be picked up. This wasn’t exactly what I imagined a life of adventure would look like, but it was a nice change of pace from all of the ball gowns and etiquette classes.
Speaking of ball gowns, I was also surprised at how many coins I was able to get out of the one I was wearing when I came here. As long as I kept my elf ears hidden, the nobles in this city were absolutely fascinated with elven culture. You’d almost think the elves weren’t mind controlling most of them just 20ish years ago. Traci and I were able to use the money from the dress to outfit ourselves in adventuring gear. She traded her “horse girl” clothes for something more practical. She now wears a human-created fabric called denim for her pants, and thank the gods, she found a way to add the cute leather fringes to those. I bought a navy blue cloak with a hood to make it easier to cover my ears. I also managed to find leather armor that had been dyed white. It really complemented the cloak and it looked pretty cute. I loved it when I didn’t have to sacrifice fashion for function.
The job we found ourselves in right now has been pretty interesting. A local politician had contracted us to protect him during his rallies. His name is Maxwell Canterly, and his campaign was challenging the relatively recent status quo of Anglachel. As it stood, the nobles basically ran things, and the government only really served the nobles. Canterly thought that the government should be lifting up the poorest instead of keeping them down. He said the quiet part out loud, and his competitors hated him for calling them out. Because of this boldness, he was worried that the political establishment would be coming for him. Thus far, it has been a pretty easy gig. Traci and I would stand guard, and no one really tried anything. I guess politics hasn’t had time to get corrupt here yet.
I especially appreciated this job because it caught me up on Anglachelian current events. I was utterly clueless when I’d first gotten here, and Traci can only explain so much before she starts to get tired of the questions. Not to mention, this whole romantic relationship thing was a trip! Who knew having actual feelings for a person could improve your mood so much?
I trusted that Maxwell Canterly was a progressive person who wanted to help the lower classes, and Traci seemed to agree, but truthfully, I was here for the pay. He could have been absolutely vile as long as the coin was good. I will admit, he seemed sincere enough in his speeches, and the crowds sure seemed to love him. Being the only colorful one in a lily-white family, it was uplifting to see so many different species of people together. His platform to expand voting rights to all citizens has rallied not just progressive human nobles but also the halflings, gnomes, mascaras, and dwarves. It was hard not to get caught up in the excitement.
I spotted Traci on top of a roof on the other side of the crowd. She would handle any threats that entered from that side. I was hidden by the stairs leading up to the stage. My job was to protect Canterly at all costs. I hadn’t quite determined where my limit for “all” was yet, so I kept agreeing with him. Hopefully it would never get that close. I began scanning the crowd, nearby alleys and rooftops for any direct threats to Canterly. So far, so good. As he began speaking, I kept scanning but allowed myself to tune into what he was saying.
“People of Angalchel, the revolution is not yet over!” He screamed into the crowd to uproarious applause. “The parliament thinks that their work is done. The elves have left, and the charmed enslaved folks have been freed, but I think we all know that’s not enough! Yes, Queen Florence and her lackeys were generous enough to allow the formerly enslaved to keep their shabby servants’ quarters that their ancestors built in the first place. Meanwhile, she lives in her castle’s lap of luxury, and the parliament members serve from their lavish manors. I’ll be the first to admit that I, too, grew up as a noble. But my eyes have been opened to the struggles of the majority of Anglachelians. It is time to accept that the government needs to be built by more than wealthy human nobles. It must be built by all of the people of Anglachel!”
The crowd once again erupted in applause. I managed to see the twinkle of metal emerging from a nearby rooftop. I leaped onto the stage and rushed to the side near the crowd. The crossbow bolt sped directly towards Canterly, and it would have hit its target if I had been just a bit slower. I pulled my aunt’s sword free from its scabbard and knocked the arrow away from Canterly, in the opposite direction from the crowd. I spotted a shadowy figure shifting away from the rooftop the bolt had emerged from. I sheathed my sword and raced atop the roof. I wanted adventure, and a roof chase was exactly what I needed.
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!