|To Beth Gardner, my teacher and my friend
May your idealism not leave with your experience- mostly because it will leave with the pizza
“No race is more adept at pretending to be civilized than the Wodes. They are animals, and they do not even try
to hide this under a polite, humanoid exterior. No man, human or otherwise, should be proud to boast a tail, or a
mane, or any other such beastly characteristic…”
-excerpt from My Observations of the World’s Races by Otis Regalia
A Wode sat in an armchair. She was not being judged, but she sat like she was: Prim, proper, with slender
fingers clasped firmly over a faintly steaming mug. Thin, pointy ears rose gracefully through smooth black hair,
which in turn framed a face whose large eyes, small nose, and small but full lips showed an expression of polite
She was alone in the room. Mayhap she was practicing- she was always being judged, a fact that nagged at
her conscious but had yet to reach her heart.
She retained this calm composure for more than an hour. It remained even after two men, wrestling a large bag
that kicked and screamed, burst through the open door.
The Wode rose from the armchair and close the door behind them. If the two men were not otherwise engaged,
they would have noticed how odd the movement of rising was for her. It was not a fluid, sensual movement of an
elf’s, nor a human’s practiced one. It was stiff, like a wooden mannequin moving on its own.
But they didn’t notice. They were too busy trying to maneuver into a cell a raging package that shouted rather
Normal protocol said that the prisoner be released from any bondage and be told the rules in a formal and
respectable manner. But since “normal protocol” said nothing about being kicked in the face, it was abandoned
as being shot to hell. They tossed the bag with its contents into the cell and slammed the door.
The man with the fresh bruise sighed and accepted a proffered cold-charm pack. Then he stiffened and looked
awfully embarrassed. “This is Amanda’s place, right?”
Biting back a sarcastic reply (Well, who else would have a cell in their living room?), she smiled and said “Yes
it is,” and “Do you have the prisoner’s possessions?”
The other man, a young human with peach fuzz instead of stubble, said “Yeah” and started to unstrap a double-
bladed sword and a small pouch from his back.
Amanda (that was what the Wode chose to call herself here) took the time waiting to turn and set her coffee
down. The two men took that time to stare at her tail, a lush beautiful thing that looked as if it belonged there,
which of course it did.
They continued to stare after she turned around. Searching eyes saw that overalls didn’t hide her uncomfortable
thinness and that she didn’t need shoes because of the bear claws she had instead of feet.
She let them stare. Nobody can hurt me without my permission.
Presently, they snapped out of it. Peach Fuzz offered a sheepish apology and handed her the weapon and the
pouch, which contained only an exquisite headband: a fine silk and gold rope attaching a large ruby and three
small emeralds together.
“That would bring in quite a pretty penny,” Bruised Face noted, eyeing the Wode distrustfully.
“She’ll not part with it,” Amanda replied decisively, naively not catching his tone. “Who is she, and how’d she
get on Death Row?”
“Her name is Lacklee Le Naphtha, and she’s not on death row- yet,” Peach Fuzz said, ignoring his companion’
s glare. “We were told this would be the most secure place for her till the trial.” His glance around the apartment
told her exactly what he thought of that belief.
Amanda shrugged, a motion not native to her culture but one she found extremely useful. “May I have her file
“Don’t rightly have it,” snorted Bruised Face derisively. “That’s classified information, it is.”
My job title is not Babysitter. It is Moral Therapist. Do you honestly not know what I can do with that?
Patiently, Amanda retorted, “Would you please inform your superiors that I need that file to properly do my job?
The two of them paused, searched for the fighting words within that statement, and found nothing. Finally,
Bruised Face spoke up.
“We should get going,” he said. “Need to file that report.” On an impulse he stuck out his hand.
For a moment Amanda looked at it curiously. Then she remembered what it was for and shook it. Bruised Face
mistook that pause for contempt and shuffled angrily towards the door. Peach Fuzz noticed nothing, except her
that hands were cold, before following.
They couldn’t get the door open. Tail flicking with amusement, Amanda sashayed over. “Magic,” she explained
flatly, giving the knob a sharp twist and opening the door easily. Peach Fuzz turned red.
As they made their way down the hall, Amanda remembered something. “Wait a minute!”
They turned. “What?”
“What’s her Passion?” They looked blank. “She’s a Lightfoot, she must have a Passion.”
They stared, uncomprehending, for another moment until Peach Fuzz brightened. “Soldier!” he piped. “She
said she was a Soldier.”
|Wodes and Lightfeet
Chapter One: Meeting Amanda