Luzena the Mercenary

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Chapter 5 - Guard in Disguise

The next morning I quickly sat up and reached under my pillow for my dagger. I gripped it in my hand and scanned the room, then calmly set the dagger on the nightstand.

“Were you having some kind of mercenary dream?” Jazer walked over.

“No, I just forgot I was in a new place,” I sat up. “It kind of startled me when I opened my eyes.”

“May I see your dagger?” Jazer asked. I motioned for him to take it. He picked it up in both hands and admired it for a few moments. “It’s definitely one-of-a-kind. I’ve never seen this kind of workmanship before. By the way, how did you sleep?” Jazer asked. He placed the dagger back on the nightstand.

“Very well,” I smiled.

Jazer went over to the desk and returned holding something behind his back.

“I got you a wedding present,” Jazer smiled, holding out a long, narrow box to me. I took it and lifted the lid. Inside was a shiny, new dagger with a blue jewel in the center. I picked it up and examined it.

“Wow, it’s amazing,” I said. “Thank you.” My face gradually turned pink. “Um...I don’t have a present for you. I mean, I wasn’t really expecting a present, and I don’t really have much money, so...”

The truth was that I had no money left, but I didn’t want him to know that.

“That’s okay. After all, I’m the one who came up with this hare-brained idea,” Jazer smiled. “But I’m glad you agreed to get married. I think we made the right choice. And I forgot to tell you how dazzling you looked at our wedding yesterday.”

“Uh, thanks,” my heart raced.

“I never knew your real name was Luzena,” he said. “I love it. May I call you Luzena?”

“Sure,” I replied. I stood up and was about to walk past Jazer, but he gently took my hand.

He leaned towards me and for a moment my heart stopped. He kissed me lightly on the cheek, then blushed before heading to the door.

“I have a meeting with the general this afternoon,” Jazer said. “You’re invited to all the meetings.”

“Thanks,” I said. Jazer smiled and left the room. I reached up and lightly touched my cheek where he had kissed me.

*

Word had got around that Zena the mercenary had disappeared. I chuckled to myself when I heard that. I hadn’t disappeared; I was just in a sort of hiding. Since I went by Luzena now, I suppose some people hadn’t made the connection that Zena and Luzena were the same person.

That afternoon, I went to the meeting and saw that it was only me, Jazer, and the general. The general raised an eyebrow when I came in. He had graying hair and a large, gray mustache. I could tell he didn’t trust me from the way his eyes narrowed.

“General, I’ve invited Luzena to all our meetings,” Jazer said.

“I know she’s a mercenary, but since she married you, I would have thought she’d give up her mercenary life,” the general huffed. He eyed my attire. I was dressed like the mercenary I was, just with newer clothes.

“Um...what does getting married have to do with giving up being a mercenary?” I asked. “I haven’t given that up. I’m still a mercenary.”

“You see, I wanted to explain it to you,” Jazer said to the general. “Because of her, I found out that someone’s after my title, and Luzena is the solution to all this. She’s working as a disguised guard. That’s why we got married.”

The general shot out of his seat, his face full of anger.

“You paid her to marry you?” he bellowed. He stared at Jazer, then turned to me, a deep look of hatred clouding his face.

“General, hear me out,” Jazer said firmly. The general sat back down and folded his arms, like a child who didn’t want to listen to a parent. “A week ago, Luzena was working for a client, who wanted her to get the box from my chambers. She succeeded in getting past the guards and into my room, when I woke up and realized someone was there. We talked for a few minutes and she alerted me about a client and then stole the box and escaped. Luckily, that box was a fake. Luzena has told me that her client sent a soldier to do his bidding. She has no idea who this client is, but I believe we can track him down with her help.”

“She was in your room?” the general glared at both of us. “And you didn’t call for the guards? Prince Jazer, you need to be more cautious.”

“Okay, okay, let’s not get off topic here,” Jazer said. “We need to show Luzena everything: the maps, the layout of the place, and any details about these threats to my title.”

There was a lot of tension in the room, and I feared the general would kick me out.

“I don’t like this plan at all,” the general said. “Why did you marry her without consulting me?”

“Because I wanted to keep this a secret,” Jazer said. “I don’t even want my uncle to know.”

“Look, General,” I said, standing up. “I understand you’re not happy with this plan, but I want you to know that I fully intend to protect Jazer and his title at all costs. I will not let someone steal his title and inheritance away. That is my promise.”

“I want you to answer one question,” the general said, leaning forward.

“Sure, what is it?” I asked.

“What’s in it for you? Why are you doing this? I mean, besides the money. What’s your motive?” he asked gruffly.

I sat back down.

“Five years ago, my younger sister went missing. I heard she was bought as a servant into a wealthy household, and I’ve been trying to find her ever since. Jazer is paying me for this job, and I will use that money to travel around the kingdom until I find my sister. I want her back more than anything. That’s why I was willing to take on this job.”

“I see,” the general said. “Let me show you the maps.”

The general provided me with maps of the castle and the surrounding areas and I studied them carefully. The general had made a mark wherever something fishy had happened that could threaten Jazer’s title. I wasn’t sure about all the specifics, but it seemed that an enemy was trying to steal Jazer’s title and inheritance. I didn’t see how that would be possible to do, but the general told me it had something to do with that box. I still hadn’t seen the real one, nor did I know where it was. But it was better if I didn’t know. The general himself didn’t seem to know what was even in that box.

True, my curiosity about the mysterious box was piqued, but I was more concerned about finding my sister. And finding her meant I had to do a stellar job in protecting Jazer. So it was easy for me to put that box out of my mind.

The general warmed up to me after that first encounter. He began to see that I had no ulterior motives, and that I didn’t mean Jazer any harm.

#

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