by Jay Lake and Ruth Nestvold
About 1200 words
Liane had no multitude of names, only one, a simple first name, as sinuous as she. Like her name, she came from simple stock, a village schoolteacher and his tailor wife in the hills of Osverio. Growing up in the schoolhouse, with the sound of languages dead and living filling her days, hearing the history of the Wars of the Sun and the Moon from the time she could listen, Liane could easily have taken over the duties of schoolmaster with very little training.
But her father's tales of the Rose Knights had infected her. There was glory there, and poetry, and even a little tangible magic, much more than in a quiet life in the hills of Osverio.
It is said that wanting a thing enough goes a long way in making it true, and thus it was with Liane. She trained in arms with an old soldier who had chosen their modest village to retire from the wars, and when he declared her fit, they traveled together to the City of the Rising Sun.
Although she found the stories of her childhood exaggerated, knighthood was a great improvement over life in a sleepy mountain village. She sparred and stood watch and patrolled with her companions, and in the evenings they caroused in the taverns. The Moon and her minions were far away, and glory was a memory of the past. Liane's fame as the Copper Knight went no farther than her own little circle, but she had her friends, her strong sword arm in service of the Sun, the bustling city, and a life she enjoyed.
And the Princess Alexandra.
The Moon does not always fight on the battlefield. Her ways are intricate, her province the imagination and the dark night of the soul, doppelgangers dream walking, and the phantom half-seen in a shadowed mirror. Liane was trained in arms, not in recognizing manipulation or resisting temptation. The Moon saw a weakness in this slim, passionate Copper Knight, a chance in her to tip the balance of power towards intuition and inconstant madness over the steady glare of reason.
And so Liane came to her fame, if not her glory.