Three years after the events in this tale, I was sitting beside the fireplace in the Singing Siren Tavern in the city of Antriador, having just finished telling the tale of Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess, when I heard a voice calling out. “Gah! You are the worst story-teller ever!”
It was Jholiera. She was no longer dressed as an orphan boy. Nor was she clad in her leather elven-style princess dress with a leaf motif carved into it, and lots of gold jewelry. She was dressed as a traveling warrior, with armor carefully tailored to her short and feminine form, and a sword on her back that was nearly as large as she was. Her golden hair, now almost reaching her waist was styled into dozens of thin braids, each adorned with beads of bone and ivory. She threw her arms around me and pulled me close in a tight embrace, then released me before continuing.
“You are the worst storyteller ever. None of that was right—the pies, the goblins, the elves. None of it happened that way at all. Only that bit in the Inn with Ellwood Cyrene was remotely true. And I most certainly did not kiss you. Not even once.”
“A little romance makes for a better story,” said I.
“I’m surprised you didn’t have me throw myself at you.”
“I had to keep it proper,” said I. “You were dressed as a boy most of the story.”
“Come here, you great fool,” she said, and taking my face in her small hands, she pulled me down to her eye level and kissed me, this time deeply, on the lips, and with great passion. It was such a shock that for a moment I couldn’t speak.
“What are you doing now?” she asked.
“I am pondering a new ending to the story.”
“You’re not thinking of making up an ending where I show up in a tavern dressed as a warrior and, taking your face in my small hands, I pull you down to eye level and kiss you, this time deeply, on the lips, and with great passion, are you?”
“Of course not,” said I. “Perish the thought.”