(This piece is a semi-companion to Issue 0-Page 6 of the comic. You can read the page here.)

 

A teenage girl sits near the back of the open main room of an inn, somewhere near Trien. She seems well equipped and armed for her age, and most of the other patrons have given her a wide birth. Her eyes carefully scan the room.

She knows someone is coming.

That someone shows himself surprisingly quickly. A Dwarf. Short beard and close-cropped hair. Looks to be unarmed. There is a cunning look about him, though he does not scan the room at all. He simply approaches the girl and sits across from her at the same table.

“You’re smaller than I expected,” the Dwarf’s voice has the usual coarse sound one would expect.

“You are much less intelligent than I had expected,” the girl’s voice is odd. Though her voice is soft and quiet, her words and tone are hardened. She is dangerous.

“Hah!” the Dwarf is far too loud, “You think I don’t know every single person in this room? We are safe here, little one. The only unknown is you.”

“And you also do not lie well. I would not be here if I was an unknown to you,” she is no fool, either.

The Dwarf smiles now. It says far more than anything else he has spoken so far, “Straight to business, then. You know who I am?”

She shifts to one side. For a moment, there is a flash of annoyance on her face, but it is gone so fast that the Dwarf may have missed it, “I found you, did I not?”

“That you did. I am very curious how you managed that,” and he is. In fact, he seems quite worried.

The girl shifts again. She has the upper hand here, and it is clear she knows it, “I wish the same things you do. I am offering to help you.”

She did not answer the question and that has not escaped the Dwarf. He is not a complete fool, “And I am to take you on your word?”

“If you are at all competant you will be able to determine if I lie with great ease,” she is pushing him. Is it on purpose or is this girl simply overconfident?

Again, the Dwarf smiles. Perhaps she is doing it on purpose then. Now, he leans forward and actually lowers his voice. Perhaps the Dwarf can be serious and careful, “Alright, girl, you have proven yourself so far. Now can you be more than a common thief? Tell me what you know of the Dorae-Kos.”

She leans in now, too. Her eyes have narrowed. Thinking or watching carefully? It is difficult to tell, “You are, at most, ten individuals with the good of our world at heart. You work quietly and in the shadows, dealing with small evils and other dangers that few see. You aspire to do more, but simply do not have the numbers for that to be possible. Thus, in many ways, you are a group of idealists.”

How had she learned that?! Only ten? At most? Where could she possibly get that information? It can’t be true…

The Dwarf’s reaction says it must be. He looks offended. Angry. Terrified, even. No. Gone already. She had the right of it and he could not believe it, “No. No, that is not what I meant. I ask of history. Do you know your history?”

“Ah,” she almost sounds bored now. She had fun exposing how much she knows about them right to his face, “Dorae-Kos is supposedly the place where all good and free peoples came together over a thousand years ago. They put aside old hatred and feuds to drive off an ancient and evil power. The stories I heard said it was a watchtower high up in the Aloraks, lost to the centuries. Like all stories.”

The Dwarf is looking more comfortable now. He has this on track again, “Then you understand the weight behind the name.”

“As I said, you are idealists. Choosing a name with such legendary weight is to be expected,” and the girl brings it back to where she wants things. She is playing him but there seems to be something honest behind it all.

Finally, it looks as if the Dwarf’s calm has been broken, “If we are simply dreamers than why do you care to join our number?!”

She smiles. It is just there at the corner of her mouth, but enough. She wanted him to ask that, “Because you are right. There are evils left, hidden in plain sight. I want to help you. I want to stop them. I believe I can help you stop dreaming and start acting.”

And now he is confused. It is hard to blame him, considering her age. But there is a conviction to her voice that is impossible to miss. Still, the Dwarf questions it, “How old are you, girl? What kind of arrogant little brat are you to think you are so great as to make us into something like that?”

“The same kind of arrogant little brat that chooses a name that says they change history when they are but a handful of dreamers,” the smile is gone from her face, but not from her voice. This sounds like something she practiced.

The Dwarf laughs. Loudly. It makes the girl jump while reaching for something…likely a weapon. The laugh ends, and he just shakes his head, “You are not at all what I expected.”

“And you are exactly what I expected,” she tells the truth so plainly that one could actually expect it to be a lie. That is a skill.

“Fine,” he stands up now, motioning at her, “Come with me. You have my attention and my curiosity. Let us see if you can turn a group of old idealists into legends, hm?”

She follows him without a word. No one in the inn seems to notice they have left. Perhaps this is normal for the establishment. No matter.

There is much to learn from this. The girl will be one to watch carefully. She could be a danger to us. We must learn more.