#5: It’s For The Best

This morning I knew something was different. To say I felt groggy would be an understatement. The amount of nausea I felt this morning was like nothing I’d experienced before. It made no sense! I’m an elf; I shouldn’t even get sick!

I forced myself to go downstairs to the tavern. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, but I knew a strong drink couldn’t hurt. As I sat at the bar, Sienna, the bar maiden, knew something was wrong.

“You look like hell, Asha,” Sienna said.

“Nothing a pint of your strongest can’t fix,” I said, though I knew that wouldn’t entirely be enough, “and maybe one of your venison steaks, but if you could maybe cook it in vinegar and slice some pickles on top that would be amazing!”

“You sure you’re feelin’ O.K., hon?” Sienna asked, this time with a bit more concern.

“I don’t know, I’ve been sick all morning, but all I want to do is eat, even though I know where that will get me,” I confessed.

“You think maybe it’s not you that’s hungry?” She inquired.

“Who else could it . . .” her meaning suddenly dawned on me.

How had I not thought of this? Could I be . . . . could I even think the word? If I completed the thought, I knew it would make it real, and I also knew I wouldn’t be drinking that ale. Though, I didn’t make it this far as a thief by avoiding the problems in front of my face. Or inside my gut in this case. I had to admit it. I’m pregnant.

I muttered my goodbyes to Sienna after grabbing a handful of bar nuts. I cracked them open and ate the nuts as I walked. It was like my panic was leaving a trail for my reason to follow. I didn’t know where I was walking, but I knew I couldn’t stay there. How could I have been so stupid? I knew my pension for casual sex would catch up with me eventually. I just didn’t think it would be this soon. I had to make a plan.

I’d been living job-to-job for so long I don’t think I even knew how to plan for the future, much less to include someone else in the mix. I can’t get a real job that doesn’t suit me, and it wouldn’t do the little bugger any good if I weren’t true to myself. My only option was to pull a big job. Something bigger than I’d ever pulled before. Something that would be sung about in taverns. Hey, then I could get out of the game and feel it was time to retire anyway.

As I downed the last of my nuts, I’d made it to the other side of town. A carriage pulled up in front of the most enormous mansion in Anglachel. The driver walked around and opened the door to let the snotty noble out. I couldn’t believe my eyes, it was Count Melvin. I had seen this man before, and recently, and intimately. He was a particularly unbearable one-night stand. He kept doting on me, like some little princess. To be fair, I had been posing as the Princess of Anglachel at the time to complete an unrelated job. The wanker walked out of the carriage and made his way to the door. He hadn’t spotted me, which worked to my advantage because I was staring at him a little too intently. He was the job.

The next day I put on my frilliest disguise. If I was going to pull this off, I had to look the part. I made sure my hair was down and covered my ears. The Princess of Anglachel was not an elf, a dead giveaway. Sienna helped me with my make-up. She was much better at making someone look beautiful. I tended to be too heavy and make myself look like a lady of the night. That worked just fine for most of my jobs, but not this one.

I used the last of my gold to hire a fancy carriage. It was pricey, but it was just the right touch. Melvin had to believe I was disgraced royalty. My plan was to take on my old persona and tell him my family had exiled me because I had become with child out of wedlock. Everyone knew women royalty were basically a piece of cattle to breed with some other royal rather than an actual person that makes her own decisions. This story should suffice. And hell, for all I knew, he had gotten me pregnant. All good lies have a grain of truth in them. I hoped it was true for the baby’s sake. I’d much rather have a handsome count sire my child than the burly half-orc I’d bedded a week ago.

As my carriage pulled in front of the mansion, I could already see him standing at his door. He must not have been expecting guests, and as the man of the house, he had to greet any dignitaries. As my driver opened the door, Count Melvin surprised me by racing to my side to help me out.

“Gods be praised, Tianna, I never thought I would see you again!” Count Melvin regaled to me.  

Tianna, of course, was the name I had chosen during our previous meeting. I’m glad he said it before I had the chance to forget it. Apparently, I had made more of an impression than I’d thought. This was going to be too easy. I graciously took his hand and stepped out of the carriage.

“Good sir, I seek your . . .” I began.

“Anything, my dear, but please, come in. I can’t have my love standing outside like some commoner. Please, servants, take her bags inside,” he pleaded.

This part I had prepared for.

“Oh, Melvin, but I have nothing left. My family has disowned me. You see . . “ I started.

“Not another word, my dear. You are a part of my family now. Please.” He urged me forward.

Who was I to look a gift horse in the mouth? If he wanted to let me through his door and treat me like some damsel in distress, it would only make my job easier. I followed his butler, Reginald, into their guest suites. I also silently cased the joint as I went. This was clearly a home built on old money, but nothing stood out as a particularly colossal score. As we approached the east wing, I spotted it at the end of the hallway. The Maltese Owlbear was on display under little security. Clearly, this lot was much more trusting than my usual targets. This was the item I had to get my hands on. The Maltese Owlbear was a famed sculpture worth more than everything I’d ever stolen put together. I couldn’t even think about how much it would be worth on the black market. There would absolutely be a song or two written about tonight.

“Ah, I see you have spotted Master Melvin’s latest acquisition,” Reginald said. I must have been staring.

“Yes, it is quite stunning! Of course, I have seen it multiple times, but I had no idea Count Melvin had it,” I said, remembering my cover.

“Yes, Master Melvin is quite proud. It was all he could talk about, though it seems your appearance may change his dialog,” Reginald said, opening the door to my chamber.

“You are too kind,” I said, trying to sound humble.

I joined the good count for dinner, and he was charming to me, as would be expected. I listened and played the part and took advantage of the impressive spread he laid out in front of me. I had never seen so many different kinds of meats, breads, fruits, and desserts, some I had never even heard of. This was incredible! I should have posed as a disgraced princess years ago. I turned into bed early, convincing Melvin that I couldn’t bear to talk tonight.

“Of course, there is no hurry. We can catch up in the morning,” Melvin said, “the gods would not have brought you into my life just to send you away again.”

Admittedly, that part made me feel a bit bad. I didn’t count on the fool being in love with me. How does that even make sense?!? It was only one night. After Reginald laid out some nightgowns to change into, he left me to my room. I stayed up until I heard the house go quiet. I pulled off my dress and changed into my work clothes. A tight leather number that allowed for more movement than a bushy dress. I pulled my hair up to give myself more visibility. I snuck out of my room and walked towards the Owlbear. I quickly grabbed it and stuck it in my bag. I couldn’t believe it really didn’t have any protections. I made my way to the front door.

“Couldn’t sleep either?” I heard a voice full of nobility coming from the sitting room. Melvin sat there in the dark.

Shit! How could I have been so careless? Now he will see my ears. There is no way I could talk my way out of this. I turned to face him, getting ready to run out the door once this went south.

“So, you’re not really princess Tianna,” he said numbly.

I shook my head no.

“I had my suspicions since I knew Tianna was working on relations with the Church of Hwedo,” he said.

I inched closer to the door, hanging my head in shame.

“It’s O.K., it wasn’t the Princess I loved, it was you,” he said, “but I understand if you have to go.”

I didn’t know what to say, so I just walked out the door. I still don’t know what the right decision would have been, but I knew I had to take care of this thing inside me.


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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