Updated: Mar 22, 2021
Edna Star glared at her home invader, or she tried to. Perhaps it came out as more of a genial half-nod. Luckily for her, the man called Lord… whatever it was - was too consumed by the seeming impossible task of getting his jetpack strap off over his cane to notice the subtleties of her head. She spoke as he hurumphed through his chore, “Well, they’re certainly persistent; I’ll begrudge them that.”
“Yes, very ur…” he trailed off stupidly, staring at her hands. The watch must have caught a glare, she suspected. She tucked it back into her pocket where it wouldn’t distract the poor buffoon. The jetpack slammed heavily on the wooden floor, snapping him out of it. He reattempted his sentence. “Yes, very…er, I’m sorry. Er, who?”
“Oh, splendid,” she said, though she did not seem to believe it. “They’ve sent me another brawny idiot.” If that sounds rude, it is, a bit. It’s also an official Adventurers’ League Classification of Adventurer! (CoA!): Idiot, Brawny. Still, bureaucracy mustn’t excuse poor taste.
Edna Star, it should be noted, was unclassified - being no Scientist, Mad; nor Princess, Warrior; nor Crusader, Caped; nor Detective, Damaged; nor anything between or beyond. Normally, this was a death sentence on an adventurer’s career. If you didn’t have a thing, how could you appeal to the huddled masses? Well, that’s exactly what she had hoped, but somehow it had made her even more famous. The Greatest Adventurer in the World, and she’s Just Like You. She hated it. Of course she wasn’t just like you, nobody is - and nobody was anything at all like her. She wished they had been - anyone - but try as she might, normalcy escaped Edna Star.
Whatever had distracted the poor man-who-broke-into-a-woman’s-study-because-he-believed-he-had-some-right-to-speak-to-her, was gone in an instant. “I beg your pardon, mum. I am no brawny idiot,” he declared, spitting the last words like poison from his mouth. “I am a gentleman scholar,” he bellowed, straightening his tuxedo. Now he had caught his breath, Edna Star feared he would prove incapable of speaking at any volume below a bellow.
Well, she thought, that is not at all better. “Well,” she said, “that is not at all better.” She often said what she thought.
“Why—“ he grunted in shocked bemusement, but she cut him off.
“And at any rate, I need no sidekick.”
“Sidek—” he began, confirming her fears for his volume control.
She cut him off again, “Nor assistant, nor secretary, valet, bodyguard, live-in attorney, personal priest, nurse, sherpa, schlepper, roadie, nor whatever other purpose the League has sent you here for.”
A smile crossed his still-reddened face, curling his mustache. “Ahh, I see the confusion. I have not come from your Adventurer’s League, Edna Star. I have come from another world.” He clearly relished saying this - and who can blame him? If you ever get the opportunity, recommend saying it - but Edna’s face showed nothing.
“No,” she said flatly, and she stood up and walked out of the room.
“I—well—“ he stammered, chasing after her. He left his jetpack there on the ground, still smoking and sputtering flames now and then. “I assure you it is true,” he finally got out, trailing her down a flight of stairs. “I should have thought yo—“
“—Yes, I’m sure it is true,” she said not looking behind as she rounded the bottom of the staircase. “But next you’re going to ask me for help on a quest of some kind, and to that I say no.” She wound onto another set of stairs, onward and downward.
There was a blessed silence for a very short moment. Well, there was the creaking of the floor, the pounding of their steps, and the huffing and stammering of the Duke… something or other - but that’s about as silent as things got around him. Then suddenly he thought he understood, “Ah! Of course! Refusal of the Call! They say Edna Star doesn’t miss a trick! The absolute best, they say! A model adventurer!” They - the present they, not the royal one - had reached the bottom of the stairs now.
The Refusal of the Call is a time-honored tradition of adventurers. Any proper hero, the idea puts forth, will first say no when given a grand quest. If someone says yes right away, the notion is, you’d better hide the silver. Edna hated the stupid Refusal of the Call. In practice, most people didn’t bother with it anymore, but still everyone assumed when she said, “No, I would not like to go to Jupiter with you. I find Jupiter gassy,” that she was just living up to the legend she was.
Stepping from the final stair, she walked the few feet to the door and grabbed a leather bag from a hook nearby. Opening the door, she gestured for Mr. High…guy to exit.
“Equipment for the journey?” he asked.
“And rations, yes,” she smiled, handing the bag to him. He took it happily.
“Gear at the door, ready to go. I do say, very nice, very impressive indeed.” He beamed at her, making no more objections. Was this actually going to work? He spoke more as he was passing, but she paid no attention. He was pointing up at something in the sky, laughing. Eventually, outside now, he turned around and said, “Well? Shall we be off?”
Edna tried to smile at him and then said, as flatly as before, “No,” and slammed the door.
She turned around, sighed, took one step from the door, and then everything exploded.