Author's Note: this is very, very much an Elseworlds story. (A story in which the characters of the series are placed in a completely different situation than the one that they're originally in in the series. Er. Right.)
feedback: it's good for the soul. just don't give me heartburn.
The Game of Six
Part one: the arrival
It was nearly ten o'clock in the evening when the two rode into town. They came in quietly, unlike the many who had come before them, who left followers and fanfare in their wake. If they had, they might never have sparked my interest.
The first was short, which came as a shock, as one usually expects those sorts to be grand and intimidating. But then, as I was to learn quite quickly from those two, not everything comes as expected. Her face was covered by her helm, and she was cursing a blue streak.
"This," she informed her companion. "Is all your fault."
Her companion stiffened with what I could only assume was indignation. He was a middle aged man, which, again, was not what one would call normal. Most often, I've found, the squire of a knight was younger, and more inexperienced than his master. This man was obviously the Lady's senior by several years.
"I don't quite see what you mean." He replied stuffily. He was probably sweating terribly in that tweed.
The woman in front of him raised the visor of her helmet with one hand, revealing blonde hair and a classic beauty. She puffed her hair out of her face, and the visor fell back into place, once more obscuring her face.
"You're the one who insisted that I wear this thing. It totally clashes with my shoes."
It did too, if you wanted to get really technical about it. But it didn't quite seem like the sort of thing she should be worrying about.
It was at this point that I finally got a good look at the emblem which decorated the Lady's shield, identifying her as Dame Buffy the Incorrigible. Which meant her "squire" was actually her self-appointed instructor, Sir Giles. Unless I had my information wrong, (which in my line of work, would mean instant failure) he had earned the nickname "guardian" in the court. Or, to those of a lesser vocabulary, "watcher."
Now, I was still new to my trade, so this was a godsend. If I could just integrate myself into their company, and maybe even join them on their quest, I would be well on my way to success.
You can tell I'm new though. I haven't even gotten myself around to introducing myself yet.
My name is unimportant, as I haven't been known by it in many years. I am known only as the Bardic Oz. And that is my trade. I'm a bard. But not a very good one. Not yet. I was first in my barding class, but that really didn't mean much. After all, the Bardic Devon was second, and he was terrible.
This is why the coming of Dame Buffy was so important to me. A bard's duty, after all, is to record the exploits of the heros. And Dame Buffy certainly qualified. She'd only been knighted for a year now, and already she'd earned the title of Slayer, one of the most prestigious positions in the high court. However, very little was known about her and her surrogate father. But that would soon change, if I could possibly help it.
I followed them stealthily to the Bronze Inn. Very stealthily. They only heard me twice. I was just about to follow them in, when a heavy hand landed on my shoulder, and a sharp whisper sounded in my ear.
"Oz. Man. Is that who I think it is?"
"Shut up, Harris," I hissed back. I hadn't known Harris Xander for long, but he'd already dubbed himself my new best friend. And if I wasn't careful, he would blow my cover.
"C'mon, Oz, she's probably in on something big. I hear Princess Cordelia was kidnaped. Maybe she's on the case. It could be your big break."
"And it will be," I replied. "If you don't blow it. Now scram."
And he was gone. I still marveled at how quietly the boy could move. Shaking my head, I moved for the door to the inn. If Harris' information was correct, than getting the scoop on this story would make my career.
All I had to do was avoid the Slayer's killer instincts, and keep my trip within a month. It would not do to let my secret get out.