“Ugh,” she said. Her voice sounded deeper than it used to, but still had a feminine tone. “I’m decaying.”
“I don’t want her around here,” Lytha said. “She has the reek of an adventurer about her. Trust me, no school of wizardry benefits from a headstrong child who fancies herself an adventurer.”
Garyl slumped and rapped his knuckles impatiently on the arm of his wooden chair. “I didn’t know you were such a fan of leaving a job undone.”
Lytha walked around her oak desk and toward the far wall of her office. She straightened a picture of one of the academy’s old headmistresses before continuing the conversation.
“While I have extended you an offer to serve as a professor in the past, you never took it,” she said. “As such, you are not a member of the Lorinthian Academy of Magic in any way, shape, or form. And if I were to hire you, it certainly wouldn’t be to serve as a recruiter. All you ever do is bring trouble to my doorstep.”
Garyl chuckled. “You run a school. How can you be so wrong? You did hire me, remember? Moreover, you hired me specifically to cause trouble in the area.”
The thirteen-year-old Tiane could kill six trained guards and burn down a building, but she couldn’t light a campfire. She threw down another broken set of sticks and punched the ground in frustration. A throb of pain in her wrist immediately made her regret the decision—the fall weather hadn’t frozen the ground yet, but it didn’t leave the earth soft and yielding, either.
Garyl deemed it a good sign that he saw people running away from the fire. It meant that he would be the only fool running into a burning building.
The messenger, if Lytha had sent it, had arrived too late. Fortunately, none of her agents had paid with their lives.
“Why don’t they raise the army anyway?” Sarah stepped carefully through the streets, avoiding sharp rocks that could cut into her bare feet. “These people can’t enjoy having an entire army tromping through their village at the drop of a hat.”
“What land do you come from?”
“And does everyone get along in this America of yours?”
“Of course!” Sarah immediately felt foolish for blurting out the poorly thought-out answer. “Well…not really. It’s complicated.”
“It’s complicated here, too. The valley hasn’t had a king in over fifty years. It’s mostly just tiny villages like this one. Each town has its own way of doing things, and none of them likes having someone else telling them what to do. When people can’t even agree on what side of bread to butter in the morning, how are they supposed to cooperate on something more important?”
Greystone Valley is currently a land without a ruler. The valley is made up mostly of villages and other small settlements, each which has their own way of doing things. That means that going from one town to the next has some peril involved, since the laws might change dramatically without notice. Very few towns post their laws openly. Most people assume that their way of doing things is just common sense, even if it doesn’t seem like common sense to a foreigner. It has been this way for over fifty years now, ever since the corrupt reign of King Borgus Rothgar, often referred to nowadays as Rothgar the Fat, Stupid, and Ugly.