Hit and Miss


Princess Amelia von Heiden trudged up the dry riverbed. Strands of red-orange hair fell into her face, which she blew away with a huff. Her plate armor weighed her down, and her long, padded skirt caught on every thorny plant in her path. She sighed. This was not how she had planned on traveling.“Princess,” Harper called from yards behind Amelia, out of breath. “Slow down.”A rock dared to bar Amelia’s progress. She stopped and kicked it aside before peering over her shoulder. “Someone has to keep us on track since some idiot decided to lose our wagon and horses.”“Don’t blame me,” Jonas snapped. A pack large enough for two sagged off his broad shoulders, yet his pace remained crisp. “You’re the one who wanted to take a shortcut.”“You agreed with me, mister grand survivalist.” Amelia smirked and stared into Jonas’ icy blue eyes, waiting.“Only because you wouldn’t give it a rest.” Jonas shook his head, and his disheveled golden locks flipped this way and that. “I’m not the one with the willpower of a gnat.”Tiny Harper stormed up beside Jonas, brown eyes ablaze, and smacked his maroon brigandine armor. “Jonas, do not speak to the princess in that manner.”“Harper,” Jonas stopped and turned his frustrated attention from Amelia, “I know you’re just doing your job and trying to keep the peace, but I’ve known Amelia for decades. She needs someone to call her out sometimes.”Amelia snorted. “Call me out? We wouldn’t have needed a shortcut if you didn’t try to chase after that elf girl.” She planted her left hand on her hip and raised the right, palm up. “Who, might I add, was clearly uninterested.”Sighing, Jonas rolled his gaze back to Amelia. “And what were you doing during that time again?”“Nothing that delayed us.” Pleasant memories filled Amelia’s head. She shuddered but drew herself up and stood tall. “I may have my vices, but I try not to let them get in the way of duty.”“Bullshit.” Rage flared in Jonas’ voice, and he brushed past Harper toward Amelia. “Every time we stop in any kind of city, we lose you for days.”Amelia lifted her chin and turned her head to the side, eyeing Jonas down her nose. “Maybe you should put more effort into protecting your princess.”“You—”“Quit it,” Harper said, stepping between the two. “Both of you. We are all tired.” She straightened her wrinkled and dirty indigo travel clothes over chainmail. “Let’s focus on moving forward.”Amelia smiled at Jonas before spinning around and continuing their trek. “So, how long until we reach that town?”“We should reach it before nightfall.” Brush several yards behind Amelia rustled as Jonas followed her. “Would be easier if we didn’t lose my maps.”“We’ll get there. As long as you can keep up.” Not content to give Jonas a break, Amelia picked up her pace, reclaiming her commanding lead.The rest of the afternoon’s journey went on without incident. However, it grew rather dull and tiring. Each hill they crested, Amelia hoped to see signs of casino siteleri civilization in the distance, and each time she was disappointed. Thirst and hunger took to the forefront of her thoughts.Amelia struggled to the top of a larger than average rise and rested a hand against the trunk of a massive oak tree. The sun hung low, forcing her to squint. Through the pervasive lighting, she spotted the walls of a settlement. Relief washed over her. Soon, they could rest in comfort.Leaves crunched behind Amelia, and she straightened her back and shoulders. “That town is about another half-mile out.”“Good.” Jonas’ breaths came shallow and quick, much to Amelia’s amusement. “Only problem is we don’t have any gold to rent a room at an inn or get anything we need to continue this little venture.”“I’m sure they won’t refuse a princess,” Amelia said, grinning.Harper came up behind, chains jingling at her waist. “Maybe if we were in our own lands, princess,” she sucked in a sharp breath and flipped her shoulder-length brown hair to one side, “but I doubt the people here would care much for your lineage.”“That’s not exactly what she means, Harper.” Jonas glared at Amelia, which only broadened her grin.“Oh.” Realization came over Harper’s face, and her eyes widened, and jaw dropped. “Oh. I would advise against that, princess.”Amelia waved away Harper’s advice and distaste. “We’ll see. Maybe we’ll get lucky and someone will help us out of the kindness of their heart.”“Someone’s getting lucky,” Jonas said, contempt clear in his words and on his scowling face.Raising her arms over her head, Amelia stretched and twisted until several of her vertebrae cracked. “Shall we go, then?”As they approached the town, they encountered more life. Bands of tattooed, twig-like elves marched out of town, heading east. Amelia had seen the BLANK before, they were a sect of normal wood elves, yet their stilted appearance threw her off. She increased her pace.The shouts and hollers of busy streets filled Amelia’s ears as she and her entourage entered the walls. People hawked their wares, carried cargo, or lounged around. Mostly humans ran the town, but a small assortment of squat dwarves, broad orcs, and wispy theenes were sprinkled throughout the crowds.Amelia was impressed. Small towns, especially those so deep inside the PLACE borders, were all too often occupied by a single race. While she herself also came from a majority human kingdom, sights like this stood out. In a good way.A quaint wooden sign with a large ale mug carved into it caught Amelia’s eye. She banked left toward the tavern. Several men exited the business, and she stepped aside and smiled. One of them gave her a passing glance, but the others ignored her. She cursed her messy attire.Jonas approached, a smirk curling the corner of his mouth. “Something wrong?”Amelia unfastened her gauntlets and spaulders before tossing them at Jonas. He fumbled güvenilir casino with the pieces of armor but none fell. A quick twirl, and she bound her wild hair into a sloppy ponytail. She rolled her shoulders, happy to be free of the excess weight.“How do I look?” Amelia placed her hands on her hips and posed.A blank stare from Jonas met her inquiry. “Crazy.”“A bit worse for wear,” Harper managed, eyes avoiding Amelia’s, “but beautiful as always, princess.”Brushing past Jonas, Amelia threw her arm around Harper’s shoulders and pulled the short woman close. “Thank you, Harper. I might just have to keep you around.”“W-whatever you need, princess.” Harper’s hand twitched against Amelia’s thigh, and her cheeks turned red.Metal clanked as Jonas dumped Amelia’s discarded armor on the ground. “You don’t have to kiss her ass, Harper.”“But it’s the truth, and I am happy to serve the princess,” Harper wrapped around Amelia’s waist, “quirks and all.”Amelia smiled at Harper, expecting a hug, but she shied away. Disappointment soured Amelia’s excitement. She pulled away and stepped toward the inn. “Let’s see what I’m up against.”Music thrummed in Amelia’s chest. A small troubadour band played an unfamiliar song on the far side of the tavern. The melodic tune of the lute; however, put a smile on her face. She strode through the crowd, head high and eye on her goal.An orc several heads taller than Amelia manned the drink counter. His dark green skin glistened with sweat as he handed out an order to a human waitress. Amelia smirked, watching his eyes linger on the woman as she went about her work. This would be easy.Amelia sauntered up to an empty spot at the bar and caught the orc’s eye. “Good day, sir. My name is Princess Amelia von Heiden. Are you the owner of this establishment?”“Aye.” Deep brown eyes flicked up and down Amelia’s form, and she puffed her chest out. “Not every day we get princesses in here. What brings royal folk to our humble town?”“My entourage and I were waylaid by bandits. We managed to escape with our lives, but they made off with all our gold and transportation.” Inching closer, Amelia put her elbows on the counter, leaning in. “I was wondering if you might make a trade for a place to stay and some horses.”Suspicion ran all over the bartender’s face. He pondered Amelia’s words for a long moment before speaking: “What do you got?”“Me.” Amelia gestured to herself with her thumbs and winked.“Are you joking?” The orc asked, voice raised in disgust. Amelia shook her head. “I don’t take in prostitutes.”Amelia tilted her head, gave him a sidelong glance, and ran her index finger up and down a tall mug. “I promise I’ll make it worth your while—a night you won’t forget.”A strained expression came over the man’s face, and his eyes peeked over Amelia’s shoulder. She followed his gaze to a nervous-looking Harper by the entrance. “Your friend going to join us?”Amelia tore her canlı casino eyes off the innocent woman, cocked her hips, and licked her lips. “I believe you’ll find that I am more than sufficient.”“All right,” the orc whispered, shying away from Amelia’s emphatic stare. “Here’s a room key.” He slid it across the counter, and she snatched it up without hesitation. “Get yourself washed up in the back and eat something and meet me back here. Your friends can stay in the room, I’ll see if you’re worth it.”“You won’t be disappointed, mister…” Amelia trailed off, gazing up at him, expectant.“Roy.”“That’s a good name.” Amelia turned to leave but peeked back over her shoulder with a wink. “I hope I’ll be calling it out later.”The waitress from before walked past, shooting Amelia a dirty look. She shot an exaggerated smile back; she had succeeded in her mission and didn’t care what the woman thought. Several patrons glanced her way, but they hid the moment she returned their gazes.Harper fussed with her messy brown cloak, oblivious. She jumped as Amelia’s boot thudded on the wooden floor in front of her. “How did it go, princess?”“Great.” Amelia held up and jingled the key. “Once I get cleaned up and eat something, I’m off to work. Don’t wait up for me.”Concern darkened Harper’s face, and her words came softly. “What if he tries to kidnap you or worse?”“Don’t worry, Harper. I can take care of myself.” A yelp escaped Harper as Amelia draped herself around the shorter woman’s shoulders. “You should worry for him if he decides he wants more than a taste.”“What about transportation and supplies?”Amelia’s lips curled up in a sly smirk. “Once I have him where I want him, it’ll be easy to get him to offer up anything I want.”“You’re such a whore,” Jonas snapped, arms folded across his chest.“Awww, don’t be jealous, Jonas. You can join me in the bath if you’d like.” Amelia unwrapped herself from around Harper, winking.“I’ll pass. I have some self-respect left.” Jonas brushed past Amelia and stormed off.“Harper, keep an eye on Jonas until I get back.” Amelia handed her the key. “Make sure he doesn’t go chasing after any unsuspecting ladies.”Harper’s cheeks turned red, but she locked eyes with Amelia. “Y-yes, princess.”“I’ll see you later,” Amelia said before she took off toward Jonas.“Aren’t you going to be late?” Jonas asked.Amelia lifted her hand and twirled her index finger. “Turn around. I need a change of clothes.”Jonas sighed and did as he was told. “You should just go naked. You’re going to end up that way anyway.”“Yes, but a princess must keep up appearances, you know.” The bronze clasps snapped open, and the leather straps groaned as Amelia fished around inside the pack.“I don’t think you’re fooling anyone.” Amelia jerked around, and Jonas let out an annoyed huff. “And you’re freaking Harper out.”Regret tightened Amelia’s chest. She didn’t want to force anything upon the young disciple. “He wanted her to join us, and I refused. I’m keeping her comfort in mind.”“You’re not a completely lost cause.” Part of Jonas’ face peeked over his shoulder.“Thank you.” Amelia withdrew her selection and flipped the flap back down with a pat. “I’ll be back with whatever I can get.”

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