Qasin felt an itch as he walked to the White-Horn capital. It was a growing irritation that gnawed at his mind, letting him know with every step he took that his sword was doing nothing. The walk couldn’t have been more uneventful, yet he was on edge with anticipation. He knew what was in store for him: once he reached his destination he would face their leader in a trial-by-combat fight to the death. If he won, Qasin would be crowned as their sovereign and accomplish something that had never been done before–uniting all the races under a single banner.
This is the way it should be. His hand gripped his sword hilt a little tighter. Talk and politics were useless to Qasin. All he needed was a good blade. It was a thought that made him all the more painfully aware of the fact that he was currently missing an excuse to use his.
After hours of walking since he had left the Black-Wing village, he finally came upon an interesting sight. There, in the distance, was a tall, dark-haired girl with ivory white skin and a black dress heading in the same direction as him, just at a much slower pace. She was also clearly about to be ambushed by two red-eyed, giant-antlered moose charging at her from her side, and the oddest part was that she didn’t seem to notice.
Before he could even think, Qasin’s instincts took over and he found himself charging at her attackers. He leaped in the air and landed on the closest Devil-Moose, stabbing his sword right through the back of its neck. He flung himself off the dead monster as it fell to the ground and rolled as he landed. He came up directly in front of the next charging Devil-Moose, slitting its throat with a sweep of his sword as he came to his feet.
Qasin sighed. The fight was over, but so was his excuse to swing his blade. He had saved the girl, dispatched of the evil, marauding Devil-Moose and now was back to being just a regular guy standing around with nothing to do. He was about to complain about the whole ordeal when the damsel in distress broke the post battle silence.
“My hero,” the woman said, giving him a slow golfer’s clap. “Should I always expect the person who rescues me to be so dashing and thorough about it?”
“You shouldn’t always expect to be rescued,” Qasin said, his instincts immediately telling him that something was off about this red-eyed woman.
“But then how would poor little old me expect to ever get where I need to go?” she asked, clearly affecting a sultry tone as she sauntered closer to Qasin.
“Look, just be careful not to travel through dangerous zones alone.” He knew she wanted something from him, that she was going to try to use him. Qasin had seen women move this way before at court when they were after something and he had learned to be wary in these situations. But the itch was back already, telling him that his blade was idle and that he wasn’t killing, and a distraction would be welcome.
“Oh, but I’m not alone. I have you to escort me now. You will escort me, right?”
Extra luggage. Qasin frowned. “I suppose I can escort you for now, but I don’t think we are headed to the same place.”
“Really? I’m going to meet with the leader of the White-Horns,” she said, slowly circling around Qasin. “I have a terribly urgent request of him, and I need to notify him of some awful events that have happened.”
“But, aren’t you a Human? Why would you go to the White-Horn’s leader and not the Human faction’s leader?”
“Oh, him? He’s a terribly dull man who does nothing but spend his days listening to the idle chatter of fat, piggish councilmen. Why, asking him to do anything would be a waste of my time and breath. I’m sure you understand,” she said, waving off the idea as if everyone should have known it was preposterous.
“I do . . .” he admitted. She may have been making fun of him, but he couldn’t have agreed with her more–especially if this had been a week ago. Even the words she used to describe the Council felt like his own.
“So then, you know why I must go seek help from the White-Horns instead of the Humans,” she said, the daggers of her words digging into his chest.
“I suppose I do,” he answered, deciding it was probably not in his best interest to tell her that she was talking to the same person that she had just mocked.
“Good. So now you know where I’m going, but where is my young hero off to?”
“Oh, we’re headed to the same place.”
“Are you also seeking an audience with their ruler?”
“You could say that.”
“Well, good, then you can be both my dashing hero and my charming escort,” she said, wrapping herself around his left arm. “Now, let’s get going, dear.”
Qasin didn’t argue with her at all. He didn’t know her name, where she came from, or what this dire information was that she needed to tell the White-Horn King, but he realized that he had already saved her life and somehow agreed to be her escort. “Yes, milady.”
“Now, if you’re going to escort me, I think it’s only proper we get to know each other,” she said. “My name is Eve. What’s yours?”
“I’m Qasin,” the king said. Only after saying it did he remember he was still trying to hide his identity.
“Like the king?” she asked.
“Yeah, just like the king,” he mused. It’s not technically a lie.
“Then that must explain your royal demeanor. You’re positively brimming with stuffy, entitled, sophisticated royalness. Why, one might even think you were a king yourself.”
“Are you sure you’re not talking about yourself?” Qasin deflected, wondering if he was really that stuffy.
“Oh, me too! For sure. But I’m a queen, you know?”
“A queen? Of what?”
“Oh, well, women must have their secrets. If I didn’t, then I wouldn’t be able to call myself a proper lady, now would I? So I’m afraid that little tidbit will remain a secret.”
“I see. So this meeting with the White-Horn leader will be diplomatic by nature then?”
“Not exactly. . . Do you know any restaurants along the way?”
“Can’t say I’ve ever been down this road, so no, I’m afraid I don’t.”
“That’s too bad. You’ll have to find a nice place to treat me to a meal. I can’t be famished on my way, and you shan’t get away without fulfilling your role as my escort.”
“Yes, milady,” Qasin said for the second time in the conversation. He still felt like something was off about her, but he also thought having her around might help alleviate both his boredom and his irritating itch. “I’ll make sure it’s up to your standards.”