“It was a mess, an absolute mess before I started. 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 me.
The crowd clamoured. I was speaking at the primary venue for both artistic and governmental exhibitions.
Like the crowd, I consider myself to be a beautiful but plain woman. Ihad been the Captain for only two years, and even now I wore the pale grey jumpsuit that was my uniform. The thick embroidered ribbon on my arm prove and display my Captain’s rank. I kept my hair shoulder length as a sign of devotion to my occupation, and after stepping down, I was considering letting it grow. I had dark hazel eyes, too yellow to be considered brown, and I’ve been rudely informed that my face is long and stern, I think that my face and expression are fitting of my authoritative position.
By now the crowd’s clamour had agreed upon one thing. They were shouting something in unison, and I tuned her ears in attempt to decipher it.
“What now? What now!” They chanted.
I smiled at them. It made my face sore, I didn’t use these muscles often.
I 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 dual 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. Ibowed, turned, and stripped off my jumpsuit. My day-baton clattered on the wooden stage. Everyone became silent as I turned back to them, dressed in a frilly white top and pale green knee-shorts.
From their reaction to my exhibition, I could tell that I wore plain-clothes quite well. I bowed, and then jumped off the stage and sat down in the crowd next to my sister, Chloe and her mother, Gwenhime. The tall man, who was actually my father, the King, beckoned at someone else, another woman in guard’s clothing.
This woman wore black plate armour over her uniform. She had heavily tanned skin and 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. I knew her as my Vice-Captain. Her name was Alice and she was bound to Finch. It was likely that they would soon marry, and I wondered what Alice would do with her job should she start having children.
I would have to look into parental leave once I became a poet. There were a lot of weak or simply neglected parts of the law. Once I was done with it, it would become more liquid, able to change to suit the nation’s needs. It would be a legacy I could be proud of.
“Vice-Captain Alice May Däwngale will take Natasha’s now vacant post.” The King stated. He took Natasha’s uniform from the ground and tore the ribbon off. It was velcro, so this was neither difficult nor violent to remove. 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.
“Good! Now four cheers for our upcoming poet!”
At this, I stood and turned. I bowed as the last cheer rang out. I had not expected this, but Alice was always loaded with surprises.
The King, still standing beside Alice, told her the following, “Your primary task is now to find a Vice-Captain,” he winked and then added, “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 their stage voices. Finch, the short dark haired man, had heard though, and he blushed. I was amused at this, but not enough to react.
“No, of course not!” Alice jumped, a bad habit of hers. She was so heavy that the stage shook and creaked.
Alice had fallen into many basements during her first year in the guard, and she had to pay for some of them out of her own pocket. I had hoped that the smaller pay would be a lesson, but it seemed that nothing would keep that girl on the ground.
“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 my old night watch looked at 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 concentrated force. The Plainkind people were very heavy, as they were primarily comprised of thick bones, thick skin, dense muscles, and even weighty archive-like brains.
I watched my excitable ex-Vice-Captain, and was surprised to feel a tear running down my cheek.
“Natasha?” Chloe said.
I just smiled at her, and she smiled back, her face like rays of morning light. Chloe was a very endearing creature.
It was hours later, my father finally told me the bad news.
I was getting ready for bed, and I had already taken off my shirt. He entered, saw that I was only wearing my chest binds, and then decided to speak anyway.
“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.”
I nodded. This was my duty as Prince.
“It will make for a fine transition.” I said.
My father nodded and apologized, then left.
The Solune Agents, I thought. They were the secret agents, or secret police of the Solune Kingdom. They weren’t a secret to the Solune people, but rather, to everyone else. I had always been impressed that an entire population could keep such a grand secret. I guess it was a form of pride. We had an elite group, while most other countries didn’t.
The Solune Agents were created for two reasons. The first was to do special missions, and to courier important information and messages. The second was so that the Solune Kingdom could get rid of their army. The East Metch were always on edge, and the King didn’t want to seem threatening. It wasn’t that we were scared, we had won most of the wars against them in the past. It was just that the King had become tired of all the bloodshed.
“What an adventure this will be,” I said to myself. Then I promised myself that after this I really would take a much needed vacation.
I released my breasts from their binds. I would be nice to have a job where I didn’t need to wear anything under my shirt too.