The din of the tavern’s common room keeps you from hearing her until she’s standing right behind your chair. You look over your shoulder to see a young human woman clad in leather armor, unmemorably attractive, with short golden hair and an iron ring in her lip. “I don’t mean to intrude, but I was hoping you could repeat that.” Her voice is husky and sweet, like honey served with a spoonful of whiskey.
The loud-mouthed man sitting across from you smiles broadly, showing his smoke-stained teeth. “Don’t see how it’s any of your business, girl,” he growls.
“Then maybe you shouldn’t speak so loudly. I heard you from the other side of the room.” He might have been heard as far away as Xen’drik, truth be told.
The loudmouth draws a long pull from his ale, slamming the tankard down. “Then why would you have me repeat it?”
“To see if you have the stones to say it to a Metrolite’s face.” Her accent is unmistakably Cyran.
He gets to his feet, no small accomplishment given his girth, the confines of his corner seat, and his inebriation. Once sure that he’ll remain upright, he stabs a finger in the blonde’s direction. “What I said was, ‘Gods bless them changelings fer bringin’ the Mournin’ down on Cyre. Then piss on ‘em all the same.” He laughs at his own wit until he starts coughing, and he puts his hands on the table to keep from collapsing. He finally turns his gaze on the woman. “I wager you take issue with my opinion.”
“What’s your name?”
“They call me Silverheel,” he says, still smiling.
“Of course they do. I always thought, Silverheel,” the blonde says, clearly trying to keep cool, “that Breland bought the Mourning by sacrificing all their orphans to the archdemons.” You have no idea if she’s serious.
Silverheel makes a shockingly rude gesture. “Then you don’t know changelings, girl.”
By the time you notice the gentle pressure of the woman’s hand on your shoulder, she’s already guiding you out of her way. Once there’s nothing between her and the man but the table, she relaxes her posture until her pose matches his. “You’re the one who needs a lesson,” she says, her features flowing like quicksilver until she wears Silverheel’s face. In the man’s voice, she adds: “Allow me to educate you.”
As Silverheel lurches forward, the woman jumps onto the table, tipping it over so that the rim catches the man right on the chin. As the woman backflips over your head, Silverheel jerks back, hits his head on the wall behind him, and slumps to the floor, already snoring.
You turn back to where the changeling stood mere moments before, but she’s already gone…
Portrait by Eva Widermann