The half dozen men in mustard-yellow hooded trench coats were arrayed before an elderly man on one of the side streets. The afternoon sun glinted off the men’s ebony masks and the steel repeating rifles in their hands. The man they surrounded wore third-hand clothes and had a pair of goat horns on his head. An older dhalim. He held out a tray of something and one of the soldiers slapped it to the ground. The contents and the tray clattered on the dirt road.
“Malory, stop driving.” Moriah leapt from the carriage before it stopped and ran down the side street. “Hey!” One of the other soldiers grabbed the old dhalim by the arms. “Let him go!”
“Who in the Nine Hells does this one think she is?” one of the men said. Another man turned to her and removed his ebony mask. He trained piggy brown eyes on her and sneered, making his pockmarked face even uglier.
“Official business, citizen,” Pig Eyes said. “Move along.”
“I will not,” Moriah replied. “I told you to let go of him and you will do it.”
“I think not, lovely,” the soldier retorted. “Working on the orders of the Lord Premier we are.”
“Help me, my lady,” the old dhalim said. “I was trying to get back ho –” One of the other soldiers knocked him to the ground with the butt of his rifle.
“Shut up you slime!” Pig Eyes spat, and then turned back to Moriah. “My Lady, is it? Which house are you a breedsow for then?” Moriah drew the pistol at her waist and shoved it in the soldier’s face in one smooth motion. The safeties of five repeating rifles clicked off as the others pointed their weapons at her.
“My name is Moriah Esther Rowani, daughter of Archduke Alexei Brandon Rowani. I have recently spent two years in the Itzcalian jungles, which are hot, sticky, and very, very messy. Add in my fellow passengers deciding to question me, and I am in an extremely bad mood, sergeant. So you will retract your improper statement or I will put a bullet clear through your brain and that of every one of your thugs.” Moriah spoke very slowly into the soldier’s pale face. “You will then release this man, return to the Lord Premier, and tell him that he is thieving scum not worth the muck on my boots. Do you understand?”
“Y-yes, ma’am.” The soldier gulped; his eyes focused on the pistol against his forehead. “W-weapons down, boys.”
“You sure, Vril?” another man said, “There’s six of us and one of her.”
“But you men are not Senro-trained bounty hunters, are you?” Malory said.
“Malory.” Moriah looked at the butler. “I can handle this.”
“I do not doubt it, my lady. It is, however, unbecoming of a young woman of your status to bruise such ruffians.”
“Be that as it may.” Moriah turned back to the one called Vril, who was going cross-eyed staring at her gun. “Do we have an accord, gentlemen?”
“I beg your forgiveness for my insult, my Lady Moriah,” Vril’s voice got stronger, “and I entreat the good nature of the House Rowani to forgive my slight.”
“The House Rowani forgives you. Do as you are told. Now.”
“Weapons down!” The other soldiers grumbled, but they all uncocked their rifles and swung them back into place over their shoulders. Moriah holstered her gun. Vril exhaled.
“Run along,” Moriah said, “Before I decide to show you what I learned.” Vril barked at them to move, and she watched them quick-march down the street. Once they turned the corner, Moriah helped the old dhalim to his feet. “There you are, august father. Right as a spring rain.”----
Vril pops up several times throughout the course of the story. I liken him to a little chihuahua who bullies people until those he bullies bite back, as Moriah does each time he appears. This particular scene also helps to establish Moriah as a heroic character, seeing as she could have let the yellow-jackets continue harassing the dhalim. Except she didn't.
So what do you all think? Good? Bad? Blah? I wait upon the edge of my seat (well, slightly near the edge ... which isn't really a healthy way to sit when you think about it).