My mother always told me, if you’re going to lie, tell a big one.
“So, you’re ten?”
“Eleven,” I corrected as I sat there playing with my braid.
The guy’s brow crinkled as he looked down his nose at me. With shockingly blond hair, blue eyes, and a posture that would make a metal pole jealous, he was pretty stereotypical elf, except that he was chubby and had a mustache.
Oh, and that he was a guard. Elves normally become priests, scholars, or printers. Guard was a pretty far cry from those, but he seemed to pull it off. His clothes were plain and mostly hidden under his light leather armor, though bits of his red tunic poked out between the armor’s joints. He had a spear but passed it to his buddy leaning against the door to the little stone walled interrogation room.
Taking a seat across the table from me, he carefully laced his fingers together and gave me the ‘disapproving parent’ look. “Alright, eleven it is. Now, what is an eleven year old girl doing breaking into Lord Talston’s manor stealing his lordship’s …” His face turned sour as he pointed to my “treasure” lying in a pile on the table. “…underwear?”
Now, I know exactly what you’re thinking: Kit, why in the world are you stealing some rich guy’s underwear? Well, it’s not for me. You see, lately I’ve been getting a bit of a reputation as a thief, so this woman hired me to steal some of this Talston guy’s undies. For what, I’m not sure, and I probably don’t want to know. All I do know is she seems to have a huge crush on him. I don’t see the appeal myself, but I guess you could say Lord Talston was handsome in a hairy, ‘wild man of the woods’ sort of way. What I still don’t get is if she really likes him, why not tell him? They were both of the same class, and he isn’t married or anything. I’m sure they could’ve had some drippy love story to tell their grandkids without dragging me and his underwear into this. Still, a job is a job and doing this did get me out of trouble for trying to steal her jewelry.
Provided I acquired the underwear, of course. To do that, I first had to get these guys to throw me in a cell, though. Once they left me alone for a while, I could get out, reclaim my catch, and return to my employer for payment. She did promise me something good.
When I didn’t answer right away, the guard leaned forward, a pitying smile on his lips. “What’s your name, girl?”
I shrugged and eyed a scrap of his red tunic poking out from under his armor.
“Where are you parents?”
He rubbed his eyes. “Look, I’m willing to believe this was some sort of harmless prank…”
“It wasn’t a prank,” I stated honestly.
Tilting his head to one side, he inquired, “Then why did you do it? Surely a girl your age can’t have that much interest in a man’s underwear.”
“Not at all. It’s just … it …” The little bit of red cloth shifted as he sat up straighter. “I … it smells of red,” I blurted without thinking. Where did that come from? Oh well. Too late to take it back now. “I mean, clearly, they’re not red, but they smell like red.”
The elf’s eyes grew wide and his mouth hung open a bit. He glanced back at the other guard who shook his head and shrugged. Then he turned back to me. “Red?”
“Yes, ya know, the color? It smells like that.”
“Smells? Like the color red?”
With a nod, I plastered a smile on my face. “Yes! You understand! So few people do. They just think I’m crazy when I tell … them …” I trailed off as he stared at me like I was nuts. Good. Crazy people get locked up and ignored. I just had to play this right. “You don’t, do you? Haven’t you ever smelled red before? It’s easy. Just pick up something red and smell it. Red things will always smell like red…which is kinda like orange which has hints of yellow, but nothing like blue. Blue is really different. It over powers everything.”
Pausing to take a breath, I watched him scratch his chin. “You’re not serious, are you?”
Ah, there’s that healthy amount of skepticism. Time to finish off this lie.
I eyed the pile of underwear, pretending to study it. “Sure, they’re white in color, well off-white really, but there was a definite aroma of red, and not the usual hints you find in white. See, white smells like all the colors, but black doesn’t smell like any, but if there’s been another color on it, that color gets stronger. I think that’s what happened. Something red was on ’em, like blood or a red shirt or even red hair, but not that orangey red hair. Real red hair. It was just too interesting of a puzzle to pass up. Does Lord Talston normally wear red or maybe he has a red headed girlfriend?”
The guard went bug eyed for a moment, the usual reaction I get when I put girlfriends and underwear together in the same sentence. I’m not sure how the two are connected, but it tends to get the ‘how could a cute little girl say such a thing’ look, so it must be bad.
Finally, the elf groaned, propped his elbow on the table, and buried his eyes in his hand. “Take her to a cell. I’ll … figure out what to do with her … later.”
As the guard by the door set aside the spears and hauled me to my feet, I had to bite the inside of my cheek to keep from smirking. He banged on the door and someone outside opened it for us. Just as I was tugged out of the interrogation room, I glanced back at the elf guard. He’d tugged a fold of his red tunic out between an elbow joint in his armor and was sniffing it. He pulled his face back, eyed the fabric, then brought it up to his nose again.
“This way!” the guard pulling me snapped. “And stop grinning like an idiot!”