Some people said that Ashryn Reymaris was a public menace. Some believed she was a sophisticated soul with a penchant for mischief. Many more people were left asking the important question: “Who the hell is Ashryn Reymaris?” No matter what the opinion, everyone was starting to talk about her in Waterford, the westernmost province of the Kingdom of Vamhadras.
“I want this Elf’s head on a pike!” Irvin screamed, beating his fist against the table. His face was puffy already, but the intensity of his rage was also putting him on the cusp of turning purple. “No one makes a fool of Irvin Ruggles!”
A nervous servant wiped at Irvin’s brow, dabbing at the heavy layer of sweat that had made itself a permanent fixture upon his face. Irvin was an ugly man, and it took everything the servant had not to cringe. Many prominent pustules freckled his wrinkly skin, and they threatened to burst with every fit of rage. Adding to the look was the spit that sprayed out of his mouth and started to gather in his beard. Little droplets of saliva and drool hung off of his lips and coarse hair. To complete the foul trifecta that was every fashionista’s worst nightmare, there looked to be some kind of rash on his neck just under the left earlobe.
Across the table, a lankier fellow held up his hands in calming reassurance. “Of course, Master. Of course we’ll get the Elf’s head for you.” He averted his eyes, starting to roll up the sleeves of his oversized robes. They were red silk on the outside, and lined in gold to match the floral embroidery on the trim. “You mentioned something about the treasury…” His voice trailed off, and he haltingly looked back up.
“There is no treasury, Benjamin you dolt! That is what I’ve been trying to tell you! This-this Reymaris She-Elf took it all,” Irvin wailed. The frustration in his voice was palpable from his stuttering, and with the stuttering came more spittle.
Benjamin’s eyes widened, and his head tilted in a questioning manner. “She couldn’t have taken it all, Master, surely…”
“All of it! Do you need your ears checked? We’ll be ruined if we don’t get those coffers back!” Irvin began drumming his fist into the table again. “Nevermind the fact that she now has copies of our correspondence with Captain Sul’Garthe!” His entire body began to shake as he inhaled sharply, holding his breath.
Benjamin swallowed a lump in his throat. Cautiously, he took a step back from the table. “The correspondence is useless to her, Master. I’ll have the Guards track her down, but don’t trouble yourself over the letters.”
A sudden stillness came over Irvin, and he pulled himself out of his chair as he glowered across the table. “Useless? Captain Sul’Garthe is a notorious pirate from the Tuh’Chiri Empire. One look at that correspondence, and Reymaris will know about our illegal trade agreement. She’ll either be in a position to out us to the authorities, or she’ll have her next target! Don’t tell me to calm down! This is a complete disaster!”
Benjamin burst out laughing, holding his sides as he giggled.
“How can you be laughing? Benjamin, I swear to Baluur that I’ll gut you and feed you to the pigs!” Irvin roared.
Benjamin held up his hand, trying to compose himself. “Master, master please. Let me explain. Reymaris is a wanted criminal. There is no way she’ll turn us in, because she would have to turn herself in. She cares more about saving her own skin than ruining us.”
Irvin calmed a little. He clearly hadn’t thought of that. He plopped back down into his chair, pushing his head back to rest against the oak wood. “Maybe. I’ll acknowledge the sense in that, but it doesn’t change the fact that she might go after Captain Sul’Garthe, and we’re the ones that that set her on that path.”
“Pffft,” Benjamin scoffed, waving a dismissive hand. “Captain Sul’Garthe has plenty of enemies in the waters of Vamhadras. Everyone knows he’s in the wealthy business of acquisitions, and everyone wants a taste. Do you really think he’ll notice one more foe?”
Irvin started mumbling to himself, and an obvious wheeze rumbled deep within his chest. He coughed and hacked, thumping his hand against his chest as though it might help him catch his breath again. “You’re…ahem, excuse me, you’re not wrong, Benjamin. However, I don’t like to take chances. I’ll feel much better if you can catch her and nip this all in the bud. You know how those Tuh’Chiri can be, and I don’t want to give them any excuse for vindictive behavior.”
“I understand, Master. We’ll get her, and we’ll recover as much of the treasury as we can. I swear it,” Benjamin reassured him. He even smiled, a testament to his confidence.
“Be sure you do, Benjamin. I don’t need to tell you what the consequences are should you fail,” Irvin grumbled.
“Yes, Master. If I fail, you’ll gut me and feed me to the pigs. I understand. You’ve made yourself very clear on that point,” Benjamin said.
“Excellent. Now get out of my sight! You have work to do, and I need a foot-rub.” Irvin started snapping his fingers at the servant. “You there! Remove my shoes!” He leaned back a little more in his chair, bringing his short legs up off the floor to rest on the table.
The servant obeyed, and for what felt like the hundredth time, he questioned if his life was really worth living. Fear was a powerful motivator. If he had ever had doubts about that before ending up in this predicament, those doubts had been forever quieted. He envied Benjamin, watching him round up the guards for the pursuit. His job was not only adventurous, but sanitary. Chasing Ashryn Reymaris sounded much more fun than rubbing Irvin’s feet.
To Be Continued…