Sir Violet twitched in Sela’s hand. “I’m not letting them go without protection.”

The lady stared at the sword. “I’d like to see you try.”

She pointed at the two of us. “They are still children. What a twenty-three-year-old is doing taking orders from one is another matter, but Blue Wheel is very clear. No unsupervised adults on school grounds, and certainly not armed.”

Sela herself kept making tiny movements. I walked over to her, and sat by her side. She gripped my hand, and calmed a little.

I sat, and thought about it for a while. We should be out there, heroing. Definitely not splitting up the team.

But…there was a reason heroes stayed in school. We were going to have to Peter Parker this.

I pointed at the lady. “I’m still not sure you’re not an elaborate trap monster set to devour our souls.”

She looked disdainfully at me. “I am a truant officer. Just what do you read, child?”

“Comics,” I muttered. “And they’re probably better than your stupid textbooks.”

She decided not to comment, and led the way out of the spire.

The criminals were all waiting outside. They must have realized that the mean lady had only mentioned me and Lana for protection. As soon as we left, Sela would be exposed. Unprotected.

I was only a little worried about her safety. Sela knew how to take care of herself. But she did it in a way that left a lot of bodies to pick up after. I didn’t want to start our career in Gratitude with a massacre on our front step.

I looked up at her, concerned. She looked back, and shrugged.

People licked their lips. A few made motions that were suggesting something, and given Sela’s, Merryl’s and even the lady’s expressions, they weren’t exactly friendly.

“Going to have us a nice welcoming party for you, Sela.”

“All of us.”

“Carve you up with your own sword.” That last remark. If he actually tried it, it would be the last mistake he ever made.

I tugged at the lady’s dress. “Look, can’t Sela just come with us to the school, and then just, I don’t know, slip out the back?”

“Certainly not.”


Sela’s eyes flashed, and she strode forward. “Don’t worry about it, Mel.”

She moved towards a hairy little gnome, waving to her. “It’s all been arranged.”

The gnome was chugging from a bottle of spirits this early in the morning. After a long draught, he passed the bottle to an ogre dressed in velvet. He took a sip, and bowed low to Sela. The ogre held a sword in its scabbard, seemingly letting everyone know it was there.

At the sight of the two men, the rest of the criminals paled. Those who didn’t run off skulked away. There were promises, threats, and more than a few hurt feelings.

Merryl grunted. “Your duelist seems to have made some fast friends.”

“Who are they?”

“Regni is the fight promoter at the Rusted Grip,” the elf said. “Has more killers on contract than most of the gangs know exist. And Bill, the ogre, could quite possibly be the deadliest person in all of Gratitude.”

I looked at him, and then looked at Sela. She was gazing at the ogre. Watching every movement, measuring him. Memorizing him.

“Quite possibly,” I said.

Not a sure thing anymore.

copyright 2019 Jack Holder

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