The Pen and the Sword IV

"Don't be nervous," the captain said. "You'll do fine here."   "Right," I mumbled. The door in front of me was heavy and intimidating. I made no move to knock on it, and eventually the captain sighed and did it for me. A stern 'come in' sounded on the other side.   The captain pushed the door open and gestured for me to enter. "Good luck."   I swallowed nervously and stepped into the room, eyes flitting around. Behind a dark wood desk was a muscular earth genasi with hair like winding tree roots. Their hands were folded neatly in their lap, their gaze piercing into me. I figured this was one of the chief officers.   On my side of the desk and a bit to the right was a purple-skinned tiefling with black hair pulled back into a braid. She was turned to face me, her arms resting on the back of the chair and her chin on her arms. She was smiling, the teasing sort of smile that said she knew something I didn't. I smiled timidly back.   "Lukan Naroi├íra, is it?" the earth genasi asked. I nodded. "I trust you've gotten settled in already. You'll be given your training schedule tomorrow. You are expected to show up promptly and without fail. Do you understand?"   I nodded again.   "Good. This is Temerity," they said, gesturing to the tiefling. "She will show you around, help you get accustomed to life here, and otherwise assist you should you need it. She will be like your older sister here."   Temerity waved at me. "We're going to have lots of fun."   The earth genasi glared at her. "You're not here to have fun."   "I know." Temerity stood up. "Shall we? Lots to see, and no need to be in this stuffy place longer than necessary."   "I haven't dismissed you."   I glanced between Temerity at the earth genasi nervously. Finally, they earth genasi crossed their arms and nodded.   "You're dismissed."   Temerity bowed with a flourish, slung an arm around my shoulders, and started steering me out. I jumped a bit, unprepared for the sudden contact, and walked quickly after her.   "Um... Was... Uh..." I stammered, a bit dejected at how scared I must have seemed.   "Was uh?" Temerity asked playfully.   "... Was it... A good idea to do that?"   "Oh, please. They couldn't do anything to me even if they wanted to. It's perfectly fine." She smiled at me. "Do you trust me?"   I hesitated, looking at her. Her eyes were still teasing, but behind that was a sincerity that almost reminded me of my mother. She wasn't being malicious. And something about her... Made me like her. I wasn't sure what. It was just a feeling--that I was supposed to be paired with her.   "I trust you."   She grinned and ruffled my hair. "Come on. Let's go eat."


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