by Cat Voleur
A conversation overheard foreshadows the struggles on the horizon.
|Sometimes an adventure undergone by a complete stranger can be much more engaging than anything in one’s own life.
Imperative conversations overhead in passing seem to carry all the more importance when not privy to context. Destinations murmured with no insight into the preceding journey bring about a pang of idyllic longing. Scenes stumbled upon with no knowledge are always so ripe with a potential that is limited only by the imagination of the hapless spectator.
The traveler had a very good imagination, and could not resist the urge to listen in once the first words caught her ears.
“You don’t seem happy about this assignment.”
The inorganic cadence of the voice that echoed through the alley reminded the woman of her family, and she was caught off guard by her own interest in the awaited reply. She did her best to hold her large, reptilian body still against the bricks so as not to deter further discussion.
A deep, male voice provided a response that was dripping in hesitation.
“I am… but…”
“I thought this is what you wanted?” Interrupted the first, mechanical speaker. “A chance to return to your trade? To settle down?”
There was so much potency in the unspoken majority of his reply. The traveler knew not what this silence was intended to convey, yet she could feel the hefty weight of it. It was almost too much to bear before it was at long last broken.
“I think you’ll do well in Allia,” dismissed the voice of the android with finality. Any objections that may have once been had lost their moment.
The allure of questions struck the traveler once more. Why was this man reluctant to set up his mystery trade in Allia? Who was the woman, who had not listened to his doubts, to say that he would do well? How many countless details of their futures may hang in the balance of this one moment?
“I’ll do my best not to disappoint you,” the man said. “Or the Resistance.”
Those two words were exactly the context she could have done without. She had no qualms with The Resistance or their ultimate objective of overthrowing The Parliamentary -- with whom she was equally qualmless. This sudden and complete understanding of the secret alley meeting robbed it of all mysticism and the woman was instantly sobered into disinterest.
Perhaps this was a life defining moment for someone, the man in his new undertaking or the woman who had assigned it, but it was of little consequence to the traveler. She now knew she had no stake in the outcome one way or the other, and the story was one she’d heard countless times. Side vs Side, Good vs Evil, Great Power vs Righteous Underdog. She was a woman far too practical to be sucked into stories that occurred on such a grand scale only to impact her so little.
With this revelation, she promptly resumed her own journey. If The Resistance members suspected her from their shady alley, they made no move against her and offered no pursuit. In her opinion, that was for the best.
It would take a lot of money to get me wrapped up in that mess.
The only business she planned to have with The Parliamentary was, she hoped, to be over quickly and painlessly as it had been each year before around tax time. She would deliver the gold from her town, pick up a commission or two during her return, and her little corner of the world would persist, regardless of which fools declared themselves ‘The Government.’ Her participation in the affair would be effortless and minimal, and maybe she’d hear a good story or two along the way.
As for the unremarkable bit of treason she’d just heard, her disappointment in it was fleeting. She had things in her own life to ponder as she scuttled down the concrete road and away from the voices.
Ahead of her was a path filled with fist-fights, magic, and the recurring loss of custom made footwear. It is not something that will be explored in this.
This, as you may have guessed, will take place on a grander scale. It is the story of The Parliamentary vs The Resistance.
In 2018 I participated in the NaNoWriMo Write-A-Thon hosted here on Writing.Com. I wrote a novel adaptation of a tabletop gaming podcast called Adventures! What you've just read is the prologue of that project, all polished up.
Although the full book is no longer available on my portfolio, there is an edited and illustrated version being released to the internet one chapter at a time. It's 100% free to read, and if you liked this little teaser, it would mean the world to me if you checked out that project here:
The Landrian Archives
There's more information about the inspiration for the story, my collaborators for the adaptation, and it features some really awesome art.
The site traffic really helps us out, as does sharing the link and liking the individual posts. The support means we'll be able to keep putting out weird content like this, and it really is appreciated.