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The Broken Crown (1.2)

Chapter 1

Freya began to walk through the forest, making sure to avoid puddles on her way. She came across a small merchant’s stall in the woods. He was selling food and Freya hadn’t eaten in a day, so she went over to him.
She bought a bag of biscuits and stuffed one in her mouth. The merchant’s eyes widened with amusement when he saw her eat it in one bite. “Woah there! You must be hungry.”
Freya turned at him and smiled. “Well, I guess so.”
She gave him the money and was about to turn away and start walking again, but he called out after her. “Hey!”
Freya turned back around to face the merchant.
“Are you a bounty hunter?” he yelled out.
Freya nodded and walked back over to the stall and showed him her bounty hunter pin, which was attached to the sleeve of her left jacket. “What do you need?” she asked.
“Just wondering if someone could complete a task for me as a favor.”
She nodded and pulled out a piece of paper from her bag. “I’m too busy right now to accept another mission, so just write your address on this piece of paper and I’ll come find you when I’m ready.”
He nodded and wrote down a long address. Freya quickly glanced at the paper. It looked like he lived near the coast, out in Harkam Town.
The merchant looked back at Freya. “Thank you!” he said.
Freya smiled and began walking again. It felt good to help out someone. As she walked through the forest, she made sure her ponytail was still up. Unlike other girls her age, who spent large amounts of gold to make their hair beautiful, Freya just put her up into a ponytail using some thread.
She never really cared for beauty or money. She learnt that when she was a homeless street orphan.
She just had to focus on getting the job done most of the time, and she didn’t have the time for such vanity.
Her bounty hunter pin, which was a simple sword brooch, reflected the sunlight. The red laces on her black boots reminded her of Helga’s blood, when Freya beat her in a intense fight.
Helga wasn’t a easy opponent to fight, being the representative of the Official Guild. Being on the street teaches you how to fight.
Growing up on the street teaches you that the world is cold and that your only instinct should be to fight.
To survive.
That fight with Helga was the start. The start of Freya proving to everyone that she would survive. People had believed in her then and she believed in herself now. As she walked, she eventually came to a large area filled with buildings. She recognized this as the Official Guild.
Being a bounty hunter, Freya needed a place to accept bounties from. Sometimes they were from regular people, but most of the time missions were issued out by the Official Guild.
Very few bounty hunters could do anything without interacting with the Official Guild in some way. Freya wished this wasn’t the case. She wanted to be in control of what she did.
As she approached the main centre, she saw a person wave her over.
It was Julian, her best friend. Julian was usually her partner on missions, but this time he had to stay behind to finish paperwork. When he hugged her, she nearly fell over. His short blue hair flew in her face when he reached her.
“How was the mission?” he asked. His gray eyes were filled with curiosity, and his long-sleeved shirt looked a little too big on him. “Um, good. I guess,” she replied.
He smiled and turned behind him and waved someone over. Freya almost immediately saw that person. It was Helga, the representative of the Official Guild.
Helga’s brown hair rolled down her back almost to her waistline and her sweater dress reached down to her knees, and her boots went just up to under her knees. Her eyes looked like a predator who was about to pounce, hungry and alert. Helga always looked like that.
Her glasses were perfectly positioned on her nose, and her perfect face didn’t look any different than the last time Freya saw her.
Freya turned away from Helga and rolled her eyes. Freya found Helga extremely annoying, because she always acted like she was above everyone else. As Helga got closer, Freya saw Helga wrinkle her nose for just a second, and then returned to her extremely bland face.
“Well, isn’t this a pleasant surprise, Freya Morrison?” she said.
Freya gave Helga her an annoyed look and replied with, “Yes, I’m back. Thank you for acknowledging that.”
Helga wrinkled her nose again, this time with a more noticeable sense of disgust. "Well, I hope you made sure to be professional about doing your job.”
That was another thing about Helga that annoyed Freya. Helga was obsessed with the reputation of the Official Guild, always trying to make sure that they always looked good in the public’s eyes.
Being the official representative, Helga was supposed to be watching over stuff like that, but she always took it to an extreme that wasn’t necessary. Freya shrugged and looked at Helga and said, “Yeah, sure.”
Helga frowned but thankfully didn’t say anything, which probably would’ve put Freya on the edge.
Julian tapped Freya on the shoulder and pointed towards the bounty collection office. Julian smiled at Helga and then they were headed for the bounty collection office. Once Julian and Freya were successfully in the waiting line for bounty collection and Helga was no longer behind them, Julian let out a deep sigh.
“Good god, you don’t know how hard it was to have socialized with her for two days.”
Freya put her hand on his shoulder and said, “Yeah, I can imagine how that would be hard. I’ve never been alone with her for more than a day, and even that was a disaster.”
Julian nodded and pointed towards the collection desk.
“You think this money will cover food for the week?”
Freya nodded and patted Julian’s shoulder again. “Yeah, I made sure it will.”
Freya and Julian lived together in one small house on the outskirts of the Official Guild area. It was easier to cover expenses that way.
Freya was mostly in charge of making the money, and Julian always managed it. They collected her bounty and went to their house. Freya gave Julian the money he needed to go shopping for food and set him on his way. She unpacked her stuff and wandered through the house for a while until someone knocked on her door. She looked through the tiny peephole on the door to see who was there.
The person standing there was Reimund, Head of Managing Hunters in the Official Guild. His white button-up shirt and gray cardigan matched perfectly. The blue and red pins on his cardigan reflected the bright sunlight that morning. His shiny black dress shoes seemed like they had just been polished recently. His dress pants looked newly ironed. His full moon glasses hung off his nose, just barely holding on.
He knocked on the door again and Freya opened the door this time. When he saw Freya, he politely smiled and bowed. “Freya. It’s a pleasure to see you again. May I come in?”
Freya smiled and said, “Sure, I’ll get you a drink.”
She opened the door further and let Reimund sit at her main table and went to go get him a glass of fresh water from her kitchen. Reimund was pretty nice to Freya most of the time, though he was a bit rigid and wanted everyone to respect the rules.
Anyone was better than Helga at this point.
When she put a glass of water with ice in front of him, he politely smiled again and adjusted his collar slightly. He always did that if he was nervous, and Freya knew immediately that nothing good was going to come out of this.
“So, Freya, normally I would start with small talk, like how the weather is today. However, I believe that this subject is quite, um, urgent.”
Freya nodded with a curious look and said, “Well, what is it?”
Reimund stared at her with a serious expression and said, “We need you to take Julian’s place as Vice President of Training.”
This was the worst subject Reimund could have brought up, and some days, Freya would wonder if she had been too harsh with him that day.
Julian was the vice president of training new bounty hunters, a job he did quite well. He was always very interested in why someone wanted to become a bounty hunter. The thing was, Julian was two years younger than Freya, and because he was only twenty-five years old, most people in The Official Guild who were higher and older than him didn’t believe he could manage the job.
Freya thought that was ridiculous, mainly because he was still running the job and doing well. She had told the Official Guild about this before, but they had just suggested she take his place.
Even though she wasn’t much older than him, she had begun accepting missions much earlier than Julian did, so she did have more experience than him.
From then on, they kept suggesting she take his place. Reimund seemed to notice she was getting mad, even though she hadn’t spoken yet. “You see, it’s not because the board believes he is inexperienced. There’s another reason.”
Freya’s anger was suddenly replaced with curiosity. Another reason? The board, which consisted of all the important leaders of the Official Guild, including Helga and Reimund,
didn’t act like they would have a different reason other than Julian’s age to want to get rid of him. Freya tilted her head and asked, “And what other reason do you have?”
Reimund adjusted his collar again and sighed. He looked fatigued, probably because Reimund was quite overworked on a regular day, but also what he was about to say had stressed him out all day.
“Well, I know you won’t believe me, but, the board believes that Julian has stolen some official documents.”
Freya frowned and got a little closer to Reimund, her face fuming. She tried to calm herself down, but anger steeped in her voice. “What documents? Huh?” she asked.
Reimund frowned and stared right into Freya’s eyes. “The documents that he says connect us to a terrorist organization, The Time Society.”

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