Let me say right off the bat that being a hero really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I mean, killing monsters and fending off hordes of enemies gets old after a while, especially when almost everyone is trying to kill you. If you’re being chased by demented Beys, insane assassins, and crazy kings, things can get hairy really fast. However, I jump ahead of myself. Let me tell you how it all started.
My name is Curufinwë. I was one of the two hundred elf residents of the town of
We are ruled as a nation by the current king sitting on the throne in Valnoria, our capital. Rundsvark the First is a competent administrator, but he relies far too strongly upon the Bey, Andrasfir. He generally runs everything that doesn’t require the official seal of the king, and he runs more than that nowadays as well. The first king in Rundsvark’s dynasty started a policy of sending felons and other criminals to the Mines, a cliff like structure on the southern portion of Granorda that supplies most of the ore for our arms industry. This practice had been relaxed somewhat over the past hundred years, so now only the hardened criminals, your murderers, ‘anarchists,’ and ‘enemies of the state’ were placed under the heavy security there. Our town rarely produced such criminals; most murderers or enemies of the state were killed privately. Quite honestly, I think the criminals preferred it that way. If you were involved in crime, it was better to die once than to be taken and forced to work as a slave in the Mines and die a thousand times. I really didn’t care one way or another until a few months after I turned nineteen.
I’m an archer. My only “friend” in Banaj was a spearman. We really didn’t have that much in common. If fact, few people would even call us friends. “Friend” was my mother’s terminology for anyone non-human who was within five years of my age. I had no true friends strictly by definition during my time in Banaj, but I sometimes spent time with Corician, an elf who was five months older than me. Most of our time was spent arguing about morality, politics, weaponry, or the competency of the ruling authorities. Corician held that the people’s duty was to overthrow the established system when it became old and unwieldy. He cited examples of people overthrowing governors when they imposed to strict of a tax regimen and the freedom they experienced as a result. I contended that the people who were part of such revolts often ended up dead and the instigators always ended up in the Mines.
“That is all the more reason for us to overthrow the whole system!” Corician would reply. “Because of their ineptitude of our ruling system, thousands of innocent people have been accused of crimes that they didn’t commit and forced to live lives of humble servitude. I could show you such cases, but the evidence speaks for itself.”
Mockingly, I replied, “You have no such evidence.”
He smiled ominously. “I could show you if you like. Be at the governor’s house at the end of the twelfth watch tonight. Then you will see.”
At the end of the twelfth watch, I snuck out of the house and headed toward the Human Quarter. The moon was half full, and cast an eerie light over the scenery. I was vaguely worried that Corician was setting me up, but my curiosity got the better of me again. My mother always used to say that I was overly inquisitive, but I could usually extricate myself from trouble before anyone was critically injured. This time, however, would have been a good time to just stay out of the way.
By the time I arrived at the governor’s residence, the moon was starting to sink into the west. I was not sure where outside the governor’s house I was supposed to be, but I figured that the best place would be the front end of the house, toward the western side. This was the side where the governor’s private apartments were located. If anything noteworthy occurred tonight, it would be on this side of the house. Suddenly, a piercing scream permeated the Sculends air. I rushed to the window, which was open. Upon vaulting through, I was confronted with a visual quandary. The governor lay dead in a puddle of his own blood, but there was no sign of any intruder. A knife with a serrated edge and odd scrollwork on the hilt was stuck halfway up to the hilt into the governor’s body. I pulled the knife out of the body. On the actual blade was a swirling design pattern that I did not recognize. Abruptly, a door swung open behind me. As I spun around, the knife still clutched in my hand, the person who had opened the door, probably some sort of servant, screamed. Realizing the corner I had suddenly backed into, I tried to talk quickly to get myself out of this mess. “I know this looks bad,” I began, “but there is a perfectly logical explanation.”
“You killed the governor,” the servant gasped.
“No, no,” I protested, “Someone else killed the governor and I just got here.”
“You killed the governor.”
“No, that’s what I’m trying to tell you, I didn’t kill him!”
The servant fled the room, yelling the accusation once more: “You killed the governor!”
Well, the next part of the story really doesn’t need telling. The servant found some soldiers, the soldiers came and arrested me, and I was chained and sent in a convoy to Drant with an escort of soldiers. I had a sinking feeling that Corician had perpetrated the deed and had let me take the fall for it, but there was no evidence. I had been the one holding the knife when they found the body, and so I was the one who had the worst alibi. The whole thing would later be denounced as a Greandorian conspiracy to undermine the frontiers of Granorda, but I did not care at the time. All that mattered was that I was going to the Mines.