Sabine of the Ten Rings: First Impressions

To read the previous adventures of Sabine, click here. *** Cecilio On’Leah Halfblind breathed a tired sigh as he sifted through the last of the workday’s parchments before him. As the captain-general of the Southern

To read the previous adventures of Sabine, click here.

***

Cecilio On’Leah Halfblind breathed a tired sigh as he sifted through the last of the workday’s parchments before him. As the captain-general of the Southern Serekson Mercenaries Guild, he was used to new supplicants hungry for glory, and he was the last line of defense between the world and incompetent recruits. The guild had laborious trials of physical stamina and mental fortitude, but the secret trial was the most important of all. The redheaded young woman before him had passed the first trials, but her true fate now lay with him.

The eyepatched man squinted at her with his good eye as he looked over her affidavit of experience. “So, Miss Sabine, says here you have a verified reference you ‘slew the wooden bastards of the Ableman Apple Farm.’ Without a license, I take it, or else we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

“It was my first time doing anything like that.” Sabine tapped her foot and seemed reluctant to look him in the face. “And nobody else wanted the work.”

“Mmm.” Cecilio scratched behind his eyepatch as he took another moment to read. “Prior to that, you worked a number of odd jobs, none of which lasted more than a few weeks. One of these though, ‘Shield Maiden in the Deathshead Arena,’ that may be relevant experience. Could you tell me a bit more about that?”

She perked up. “Oh of course! I—” She paused and slapped the back of her left hand against Cecilio’s desk. The guild head had seen her do it several times and was still unsure of what to make of the tic. “Sorry. I, well you know. I prepped weaponry for many great warriors. ‘Orton the Vengeful,’ ‘Farlay the Cobra,’ and the great ‘Mason Von Macington.’”

“Which would be rather impressive,” Cecilio said with a grunt. “Except that I had to contact next of kin to confirm those details. They’re all dead.”

Sabine’s jaw slid open in shock. “Someone killed Mason Von Macington?”

Cecilio shrugged as he reached behind his eyepatch again and drew out a few hazelnuts. “Actually, he died of syphilis. But his widow claims it’s probably because she pocketed his prophylactic money and gave him hog intestines a butcher had already thrown out. But more to the point, the other two claim that their husbands died because you were drunk on the job and mishandled their equipment.” He popped the nuts into his mouth

The redhead’s face first contorted in disgust, then she opened her mouth to say something, paused, and beat her left hand against Cecilio’s desk again as she muttered, “Shut up, shut up,” through her teeth.

The guild leader wrote out a few notes in favor of one of his theories. “Everything all right over there, ma’am?”

“Um… is there anyone else I could talk to for this part of the test?”

“No, ma’am, I’m the only one. Is that a problem?”

“Well you know it’s just—” she stopped short, glared down at her left hand again, and gritted her teeth. “What did I just tell you?”

“Ma’am, are you—”

“Damn it, Cecilio, quit hassling me! Why were you always hassling me?”

Her interviewer scowled. “Ma’am, I’d ask you to please call me by my—”

“This is so you. When my soul got disentangled from my body all you could ever say was, ‘Well why can’t she phase through that door?’ or ‘Well why can’t she look into the treasure chest for us?’ or, ‘Sure, Braton, it sure was your invisible ghost girlfriend who pulled down your pants while we were back at that inn.’ Yeah, it was me, and I’m not going to be shamed for it again.”

The room went quiet for a few moments before Cecilio jotted a few more notes in one of his columns. “Why do you know my brother’s name?”

“Because I married him after you guys led an epic adventure to save me.” Sabine gestured at the pointer finger of her right hand. “Is this or is this not your country’s national gem?”

“I can’t speak to what my brother may or may not have done after he disappeared on that fishing trip seven years ago,” Cecilio said. “But I certainly think I’d remember being a part of it.”

“You sang, ‘Who Needs the Royalty’ at our wedding. If we hadn’t been in your homeland at the time, my father probably would have had you scourged.”

“Uh huh.” Cecilio jotted down another note and fished a bottle out from under his desk. His decision was almost made and he was ready to unwind for the night. “What exactly does my disdain for monarchy have to do with anything?” He slipped the bottle’s neck behind his eyepatch, clenched a little, and popped the cap off.

“I was a princess, and your brother found a message from me in the river while he was fishing and—wait a minute, you don’t even remember how you lost that eye, do you?”

The guild head blinked his one good eye in wonder. “You know, I’ve never actually stopped to ponder that before. Do you know how I—”

“Oh, it doesn’t even matter.” Sabine slumped. “I had to trade the world’s memories of me being a princess to rid myself of my mortal enemy. So, none of you from my old life remember we even existed.”

Cecilio said, “That seems terribly convenient.”

“No, if you were me trying to apply for a license right now, it’d be terribly inconvenient!”

“And what ever happened to that mortal enemy of yours?”

The redhead made what looked to be a very rude gesture at him, but on further examination, Cecilio realized it was the ring finger, not the middle. She said, “I sealed him in the body of an immortal jellyfish. Now he mostly just makes bad puns and rude remarks over our telepathic link.”

The captain-general bounced his head here and there as he nodded and wrote a few last notes on his scroll. “I think we’re done here.”

Sabine let out a disgusted sigh, pushed out of her chair, and turned for the door.

“Hang on.” Cecilio tore off the bottom of his scroll and extended it out to her. “You’ll need this. Temporary license until you get the official one by postage.”

The redhead flinched. “Wha… what? You’re actually certifying me? After all that?”

“Your physical and practical trials were solid, I just had to complete the oral examination.” Cecilio paused as if the last bit was self-explanatory. But when she stared at him, stunned, he added, “You’re officially insane enough to be part of the family. Welcome aboard.”

To Be Continued…

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