There once was a man with two young sons. Now, this man had no money, and didn’t want his sons to grow up
with no prospects. So he had them apprenticed to a Lightfoot Cobbler by the name of Job La Cohered, who
was so fine a shoe-maker that kings and queens would come to have their feet measured.
With Job lived an elfin maiden named Nalla Nebela, who served as his book-keeper and servant girl. It was
she who assured the poor human man that his sons would be well-cared for.
One year later, the man returned to visit and to discover how his sons fared in the apprenticeship.
One son complained bitterly about Job, claiming mistreatment and no teaching. However, he was smitten with
Lady Nalla, and had thus learned a great deal about book-keeping. He described her thusly:
“When she is working, her face crinkles with concentration, but she is always willing to stop and explain the
problem for me. When I fare well, she smiles, and when she smiles, the sun shines brighter. When not working,
she sings and dances, and it makes my heavy heart light for joy.”
The other son, who was less enamored with the elf, eagerly told their father what he had learned about
cobbling. When asked to describe Job, he answered that “When he is working, he is a serious, obsessed
character, but prone to fits of spastic excitement when something goes unusually well.”
His father responded, “Yes, but how is he when he is not working?”
His son considered the question and laughed before answering like this:
--A New Fable Concerning Humans, Elves, and Lightfeet
“Of course I’m a Soldier,” Lacklee growled. “What else could I be?” Icy, angry rays of cancer-causing hatred were
searing from her eyes: A glare that caused the bravest heroes to turn and run for their lives.
Amanda was used to it. “An easy mark for the Fashion Police?”
The rays faded, leaving behind a look of embarrassment almost as intense as the hatred. This stupid orange
dress! These stupid purple stockings! And these stupid shiny shoes! Children’s shoes! The ultimate
humiliation! Then that too faded into a look of bemused appreciation. Tossing her sloppily cropped orange-
brown hair behind her, she chuckled. “I know, right?”
Amanda shrugged and held out the weapon and headband. “Interesting accessories, though.”
She was startled by the reaction. “Give those back!” Lacklee shrieked. “Give - those - BACK!”
“Or what, you’ll tackle me with your imposing physique?”
Drawing herself up to her full height, 3’6”, the Lightfoot shouted, “Damn right its imposing! Sexy, too.” That last
was said to goad her, which Amanda found amusing. She decided to go with it.
“I know. How do you know I won’t like it?”
Lacklee stared at her for a moment, completely disturbed, then turned and limped toward the back wall. Turning
around, Amanda distinctly heard “Damned sarcastic Wode,” before Lacklee slammed herself into the bars.
She got up, limped back. “Damned superior, sarcastic Wode.” Slam! Limp back. “Damned Wode couldn’t
“Then why don’t you tell me?” Slam! The bars rattled indignantly. Amanda knelt, a safe distance away from the
cell, and held up the band. “What is this?” Slam! “Besides yours?”
In response, Lacklee leaped between the bars.
For a brief shining moment, the Lightfoot thought she won, but then the bars got tighter. The more she tried to
squeeze through, the tighter the bars got, until she was quite stuck. Half in, half out, wholly helpless, and no closer
to her possessions then when she started. She glared. “You’re teasing me.”
“Yeah. You’re stuck there until I say so.”
“My legs have no circulation.”
“I still don’t say so. What is this?”
She responded by struggling toward it more. The bars tightened, and she winced. “I’ll tell you what it’s worth,” she
managed, pain in her voice. “Its worth my cooperation for at least an hour.” She wriggled, the bars tightened, and
Amanda heard something crack. So, she moved forward to just out of Lacklee’s reach. “Is it worth your name?”
“Lackadaisy Rigmarole Le Naphtha, but I go by Lacklee.”
“Is it worth you crimes?”
“Alleged crimes of deserting an army that I was illegally drafted into…Yeah, it is.”
“Is it worth your spine?”
“No, but at least three ribs.”
“How many are broken?”
“Okay. Is it worth using your manners?”
She paused in her struggle. “Wait, what?”
“Saying ‘please,’ and ‘thank you,’ and referring to me as ‘Amanda’ and not ‘Damned Wode.’”
“Are you serious?” she demanded angrily.
“No, I’d much rather be called ‘Damned Wode’- it shows SO much respect!”
Lacklee growled in exasperation. But, since her current tactic wasn’t working, she employed her most obnoxious,
sickly-sweet voice and squeaked, “My dear, dear, ‘Amanda,’ may I please have my ‘cherished’ headband back?
“Why, of course you may!” and she placed the band in her outstretched hands. “Now what do you say?”
Lacklee, shocked speechless, didn’t hear the question at first. Wait, why did that work? What happened? I’m so
confused… Then she noticed Amanda’s patiently waiting face. “Um, thank you?”
“You’re welcome. Now get some rest.”
“Uh, I’m kind of stuck here?”
“Venti.” The bars flew apart to their original spaces, dropping Lacklee to the floor with a painful thump. “Now go to
bed; we can argue about your weapon in the morning.”
Struggling to her feet, she weakly replied, “I’d rather argue now.”
“I know, but I’m done listening. When you wake up, you’ll still be here.”
“Yeah, sure I will.”
“You will be. I promise.”
In primitive days, when people lived with nature, they slept on the ragged edge of unconsciousness, ready at any
moment to defend themselves from angry bears or curious skunks. As time passed and people distanced
themselves from nature, there was less need to prevent deep sleep. Except for soldiers in times of war…
As a Soldier, Lacklee had never had a deep sleep. So, despite her exhaustion, when a man knocked and
entered the apartment, she heard it and all that followed.
Strangely, exhaustion bleached her bias so that the following events seemed to be only a curious drama on a
Man: She’s awake!
[He was tall, with a square jaw and light brown hair, and he wore the pressed uniform of a colonel in the Acerbate
Amanda: Barely. Any rebellion now would hardly be worth the effort.
Man: Good. That will make it easier for us to remove her to the military prison.
Amanda: I’d like you to refrain from doing that, sir.
Man: (harshly) Listen, it was good of you to take her with such little notice-
Amanda: They were noisy. That’s all the notice I need.
Man: -But in this case, it was only temporary. She’s to be court-marshaled this week, and until then, she needs to
be guarded at all times.
Amanda: So send some personnel over here. In all likelihood, she’ll end up back here after the trial, so I want her
to know that I’ll keep my promises.
Man: What, did you promise to protect her from the big, bad government?
Dude, are you trying to be sarcastic to a Wode? Don’t they have a sarcasm tense in their language?
Amanda: (patiently) No, I promised that when she woke up, she’d still be here.
Man: (impatiently) She is awake.
Amanda: But comatose. She can’t defend herself.
Man: (irritated) And this is a problem why?
Amanda: (patiently) How much progress do you think I’ll make if she doesn’t trust me?
At that, Lacklee drifted off to sleep, somehow aware that there was no need to fight. In the morning she would
contemplate this further, but for now: sleep.
In the morning, the war would begin.
|Wodes and Lightfeet
Chapter Two: Meeting Lacklee