I don’t know what’s more exhausting. Fighting a wyvern, or having to walk down three-hundred and sixty-six steps to get back down afterwards.

It took longer than I had expected. Every floor just seemed so…fascinating. The wyvern wasn’t one to keep an untidy lair. There was gold, and mattresses, and empty floor upon empty floor. Once we got past the first few floors, there was just so much space.

More than enough for a group of heroines to set up in.

“There’s no one around here,” Sela said.

“They’ll come back.” I said. “No wyvern to terrorize them.”

“Right. Just the three tiny girls who killed that wyvern.”

“Who everyone will think will just roll over.” I said. “Like our dear mayor.”

“That bi-”

“Come on, Sela.” I said. “I don’t act like it, but I’m still a kid.”

“Not after today,” she said. “You’re not getting treated like a kid much longer.”

“Dang.” I looked through the window. Lana was coming back, and with friends. That weird crow boy was back, as well as some other bird-people. “It looks like Lana made friends last night. Did you?”

Sela shrugged. “Maybe. Hard to tell. You?”

“Same.” I sighed, and we made it down another flight of stairs. “So what do you think, stay?”

“It’s your call, fearless leader.”

I thought about it. Gratitude was going to fight us every step of the way. I didn’t imagine we could get real jobs, or try and pretend we were anything but what we set out to be. Maybe, if we just toed the line. But I couldn’t do that.

There were good people in Gratitude. They just kept their mouths shut, and hoped to live through the night.

“We stay.” I said. “And give everyone a chance.”

Sela nodded. She reached down, and grabbed her mask. She tossed it into the first floor room. “Then we shouldn’t need those.”

Right. Superheroes may need masks. Defenders with nothing but heroing didn’t.

We kicked open the door. A crowd had gathered outside the spire. They looked expectant, confused. There had been a battle with the wyvern, and something had happened. But what?

I looked around. Lana landed a bit of a ways away. She struggled up to us, her leg freshly bandaged. The crow boy winked, and spun away. Another question for another day.

I sighed, and looked out at the crowd. “My name is Emelia. This is Lana, and Sela. We’re also the Green Witch, Darkling, and Lady Violet. We killed the wyvern.

“This place is safe now, all of it. If you want to come in, and work an honest day, know you have protectors. If you want to push drugs, or run a protection racket, or hurt anyone, look elsewhere.

“We just came to Gratitude. We like it here, and hope to make it even better. If any of you have a problem with that… well…”

I smiled. “We don’t care.”

copyright 2018 Jack Holder

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