The Assistant Archivist paused between papers. She’d been given a simple task–collate, index, and store transcriptions from interviews with field agents from the war. It had a been a long, boring process–she wasn’t allowed to read them, just note who the interview was with, the date it occurred, and then file it away for archival. This one, though, gave her pause. She stared at the name of the field agent. It couldn’t be.
She thought of the scruffy-haired blond elf that ran the local orphanage; that helped her get this job, and had given her a place to stay, and food to eat. She then thought of the haughty, self-possessed nobleman who had given her a few gold on the streets and then directions to the orphanage. They couldn’t be the same person… could they?
She began to read.
Transcribed from an interview with Agent Naeris Alleyborn–codename “Quirion”–conducted by Spymaster Slate.
We have had some reports on your… abilities. “Suspiciously magical”, according to one agent. You neglected to mention any magical or spell-casting abilities when you started working for us–care to comment?
Not really? We all have our tricks and secrets. You pay me to steal other peoples’ secrets, not share mine.
A fair point. But if we know what you can do, we can better utilise your talents. And, more seriously, we need to know if this is going to pose any risk to us.
How do you mean? What risk could there be?
Well, for example, if your powers were gained by divine providence, we would need to know that your deity isn’t going to tell you to turn on us.
Please answer the question, Agent Alleyborn. Or would you prefer ‘Turnip’?
You seem to already know the answer, Spymaster Slate–or can I call you Reggie? Tell me, does your wife know about your little side-business? Does she wonder why you can always find a little bit of extra cash when you need it?
Agent, you are treading on very dangerous ground.
So are you, Reggie. Do you really want me to answer your question? I do good work. I do good work for you. Does anything else really matter?
If you want to keep working for us, you will answer the question, Agent.
Yeah, alright, though like I said, you already seem to know the answer. As you suggest, with your suspiciously specific example, I got some tricks from someone a bit higher-up than most. Not all of it–I am actually quite skilled at infiltration and reconnaissance by my own power, thank you.
And if you had to give this ‘someone’ a name?
That, Reggie, is a really good question.
That is why I asked it. Now please, answer it.
I… can’t. Not really. And before you give me an earful, it’s not because I’m trying to avoid answering the question. The actual, honest, strike-me-dead-if-I’m-lying answer is that I don’t know. I suspect it might be The Traveller.
One of the evil human gods?
I can see why you might think that, Mr Law-and-Order, but no. A trickster, sure, and a god of chaos, but neither of those are inherently evil. Objectionable to someone who thinks in straight lines, I guess, but not morally reprehensible.
So what does a human god want with with a wood elf? Or this war?
Beats me. Thought it was funny, I guess. As far as the war goes… I mean, we are fighting against a tyrannical autocratic regime that rules through oppression and fear. That seems pretty antithetical to The Traveller to me.
Can we trust you?
I’m a little offended by that question, Reggie, but I can see where you’re coming from. I mean, I do deceive people for a living. Throw in a “Dark God” and it makes for a very untrustworthy picture.
But understand me: I would die for Princess Beryl if I thought it would ensure a life of freedom and happiness for the people of this country. Don’t let my flippancy mislead you, Spymaster Slate. I take my job as seriously as you take yours.
I mean sure, our methods may be different, and I might have a little help from less-than-honest sources, but I swear to you, here and now, that I will see Princess Beryl crowned as Queen of the Iron Kingdom.
Have you ever seen the capital, Spymaster? Walked its street? Lived among its people? I have. 30 years, I lived there. It was the only life I knew. Violence. Fear. Never sleeping in the same gutter twice, for fear that they would take you away. Losing friends–and enemies–to the thugs the Divine Regent called his ‘city watch’. The rule of law, applied without mercy. Children executed for crimes they were forced to commit to survive. I would give my life five–ten times over if I thought it would bring a single glimmer of hope to those people.
That’ll have to do, I suppose. Now, regarding your next mission…
[TOP SECRET DATA EXPUNGED]
I think that will be all for today Agent. Unless you have any more “fun facts” you’d like to share?
Well, I’ve always wanted to ask where you got that tattoo done. I’ve been thinking of getting one myself, and-
That will be all, Agent.
A pleasure, as always.