The halls of Lunastrum were works of art. Pillars of white stone, carved with minutely-detailed frescos lined the sides, and hundreds of sconces shaped like grasping hands held up lanterns that made the room as bright as a day in the open wastes.

It wasn’t all sterile. To the sides, in heavy vases, were entire forests. Trees cut and pruned over centuries to remain no bigger than a few handspans, and carefully stacked rocks and moving streams. All to give the illusion that each ornate vase held a small world within it.

At the front of the room, on a raised dais, were five elves.

Their wisdom was marked on their faces as artfully chiseled wrinkles, and their hair cascaded to their sides in white fountains to mingle with their plain, unadorned robes.

Before them, standing in the middle of the hall like a bramble in a horse’s pelt, was a woman.

A human woman. Tall, for her sort, and well-muscled. She was looking down, her eyes hidden beneath the shadows of her sun-bleached hat. It was a ratty thing, worn, beaten by winds and storm and sand, and with a brim wider than an arm span.

It said a lot about her.

She shifted, overcoat wavering with her and brushing her calves. “You want me to tell you the whole thing?”

The woman crossed her arms. Slung across her chest was a bandolier of ammunition, its cartridge loops spent and empty. At her hip sat a worn leather holster, also missing its gun.

“Alright, I can do that,” she said. “But I’ll be tellin’ you the whole story. All of it. From gutting goblins to back-dealing with gnomish basterds. I’ll even tell you the sordid little details, the sort that’d make any maiden--or elf, blush. Trust me, I know what makes your sort blush.”

She tilted her head back, and her eyes, green as the acid rains, flashed.

“Let me start way off in the beginnin’.”



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