“It was a mess, an absolute mess. Wasted hours, people slacking off, criminal acts done right under our noses. I cut hours but not pay. I increased productivity. I even added temporary and part time positions. But I can do no more here, and so I am stepping down as Captain of the guard to pursue other ventures. I am moving on, and I hope you will forgive me for it.”
“Her Majesty Sir Natasha Glass Rhye has spoken.” A tall man said, gesturing at the speaker.
The crowd clamoured. Natasha was speaking at the primary venue for both artistic and governmental exhibitions.
Natasha herself was a beautiful but plain woman. She had been the Captain for only two years, and even now she wore the pale grey jumpsuit that was her uniform. The thick embroidered ribbon on her arm showed her rank. Natasha kept her hair shoulder length as a sign of devotion to her occupation, and even now she was considering letting it grow. She had dark hazel eyes, too yellow to be considered brown, and her face was long and stern, fitting of her authoritative position.
By now the crowd’s clamour had agreed upon one thing. They were shouting something in unison, and Natasha tuned her ears in attempt to decipher it.
“What now? What now!” They chanted.
Natasha smiled, a rare occurrence for her. She said, “I will take the next few months off, my long accumulated and neglected vacation days. Afterwards, I will begin the education and qualification process to become a certified poet and then a magistrate.”
Poets had a duel function in the Solune kingdom. A regular poet was a jack of all mental tasks. A certified poet used their wide knowledge base to help overcome disputes as a third party. In this kingdom, qualified poets also functioned as lawyers. A magistrate is one who manages and writes laws.
The citizens of Murdock cheered and clapped. Natasha bowed, turned, and stripped off her jumpsuit. Her baton clattered on the wooden stage. Everyone became silent as she turned back to them, dressed in a frilly white top and pale green knee-shorts.
Natasha wore plain-clothes quite well, and from the sounds of the respectful clapping, it seemed everyone else agreed. She bowed, and then jumped off the stage and sat down in the crowd next to her sister, Chloe and her mother, Gwenhime. The tall man beckoned at someone else, another woman in guard’s clothing.
This woman wore black plate armour over her uniform. She had heavily tanned skin. Her hair was a bright sandy strawberry blonde. The crowd cheered again, much much louder than before. The guard waved from her podium at a short dark haired man in the crowd, who waved back bashfully.
“Vice-Captain Alice May Däwngale will take Natasha’s now vacant post.” The tall man said. He took Natasha’s uniform from the ground and tore the ribbon off. It was velcro, so this was neither difficult nor violent. He stood and walked to Alice then took her ribbon off and replaced it.
When the ceremony was done, Alice shouted, “Three cheers for the new city guard Captain!”
The citizens obliged her.
The tall man, still standing beside her, told Alice the following, “Your primary task is now to find a Vice-Captain,” he winked and then continued, “You wouldn’t want us to have to pull Finch out of his Academic work would you?”
He hadn’t spoken loud enough for everyone to hear. There was, of course, no microphones here, and all speech-makers had to use stage voices. Finch, the short dark haired man, had heard. He blushed.
“No, of course not!” Alice jumped, a bad habit of hers. She was so heavy that the stage shook and creaked.
“You have one month, dear Plainkind.”
“Yes, your majesty!” She said. Alice then turned to the crowd, “The King has informed me that I am to find a new Vice-Captain within the month!”
She pointed to the guards sitting near the back. All of them were there except the four currently on patrol. Even the night watch watched her with tired interest.
“You had better show me your best selves so that I don’t have a hard time deciding!” She hopped again, and again the wooden stage took nearly three-hundred pounds of force. The Plainkind people were very heavy as they were primarily comprised of thick bones, thick skin, dense muscles, and even weighty brains.
Natasha watched her excitable ex-Vice-Captain with vague amusement. Alice had a way of lightening up nearly any situation, and Natasha would miss her company.
Hours later, her father, the King, approached her. He said, “You will have to run the Solune Agents for a term. I know you were intending to rest before you began your studies, but there are oddities amiss and they must be dealt with. I would myself but as you know the East Metch are trying to push democracy upon our Kingdom and I will not have it.”
Natasha nodded. This was her duty as Prince.
“It will make for a fine transition.” She said.
The King nodded and apologized, then left.
The Solune Agents, mused Natasha. They were the secret agents, or secret police of the Solune Kingdom. They weren’t a secret to the Solune, but to everyone else. Natasha had always been impressed that an entire population could keep such a grand secret.
“What an adventure this will be,” She said. Then she promised herself that after this she really would take a much needed vacation.