Taric pulled the cowl of his cloak further over his face. He couldn’t afford to be recognized. This undertaking would get him strung up if it became known.
He had traveled ten leagues on a rumor from Joren, the stable-hand at Lord Grath’s estate. Joren overheard Lord Grath talking with a visiting noble from the Kingdom of Oheren about a man selling false letter patents. The nobility of Oheren were up in arms, but the man had yet to be caught.
Damon hoped his trip wouldn’t be in vain. He had bribed a local tavern-keeper for information, and now he stood in a dark alley in the middle of the night waiting for a contact while hoping not to be arrested.
“Oi,” a soft voice called. “The basilisk gazes.”
Taric sighed in relief. “And statues gaze back.”
A hunched figure hobbled into the fading echoes of lamplight. A filth-encrusted hand beckoned for Taric to follow.
The hunchback led Taric through the twisting alleys until he had no idea where he was. A small hovel came into view and the hunchback disappeared inside. Taric paused a moment to take a deep breath and pushed through the door.
Inside a young woman, a few summers older than Taric’s fifteen, sat behind a table filled with writing implements and scrolls. She wore her dirty blonde hair over the left side of her face, hiding it completely. A single green eye gazed piercingly into what seemed to be Taric’s soul.
After a single infinite moment, she beckoned him forward to a seat in front of her. “So, you are the one who wishes to become ennobled?”
“You have the payment?”
Taric placed a small bag filled with coins on the table. She emptied the bag and nodded. “Very well.”
She unrolled a parchment and rattled off Taric’s new life. “You are now Damon Forester, third son of a minor lord from Tarune Province in the Kingdom of Aanar. It is far enough away that you should never meet anyone from there.”
She rolled the parchment and held it up. “Before I give you this, I have some conditions.”
Taric raised a questioning eyebrow.
“First, you must never use your new position to oppress the peasantry that may come into your influence.” Her eye hardened. “If you do, I will hear and I will see you exposed. Do you understand?”
Taric gulped and nodded.
“Second, you may never reveal who I am or even the fact that I am a woman. If you do, I will hear and…”
“You will see me exposed. I understand.” Taric reached out his hand. “May I?”
She hesitated a moment as if she weighed his word against his soul that she had glimpsed. She handed over the scroll. “Here you are, milord. Remember your bargain.”
Damon grasped his life and tamped down all the questions that bubbled in his mind. He stood straight, nodded, and made a sharp turn out of the hovel and into his destiny.
His Majesty’s Drake-Knights of Talmarath awaited.
Happy Reading and Writing!