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"We can only find out together," the old man said. "I did some initial scouting for you, but you will have to be the final judge, though sometimes I'm not so sure myself."

"It seems like a decent place," she said. "But it's hard to know what a place is like until you actually live there."

"And that's why we need to protect you. You're queen now, and you need to be careful."

"I haven't gotten used to that yet. I certainly don't feel like a queen. Just the same person I've always been."

"We'll get to that later," her adviser said. "For now, we need to get a feel for this town, determine if it will be appropriate for Your Majesty."

"There's a lot of charm to it," she said. "If we didn't have to spend all this time analyzing every tiny detail, I would already be running wild in the streets."

"You know we can't have that," he replied. "For one thing, your bodyguards would never be able to keep up."

"I don't want bodyguards!" She was angry. "Am I supposed to be queen or a prisoner?"

"Now, now," said the old man, "you know we can't be too careful. You are now a lightning rod for everyone that wants to gain some kind of advantage."

"Can't I just disappear here, never to be seen again? Live out my life like a normal person?"

"You know you would never be satisfied by that. There's a reason you were chosen in the first place. Unfortunately you have to live with the consequences of the actions you have taken and the skills you have intentionally learned."

"It's not official yet though," she said. "We can still turn back. I don't need to be queen."

"It's too late now," he replied. "Though nothing has changed by law, for all intents and purposes, you are already there. We're just waiting for the right time to dot the final i's and cross the final t's."

"And if I abdicate?"

"It won't matter. You already command too much loyalty behind the scenes. You would be queen even if you chose to live as a beggar."

"I don't want to talk about this anymore. Let's explore the town."

"Don't run off so fast. We can't be as careless as you used to be. These streets have eyes now."

"I just wish everyone would mind their own business. I'm starting to regret this whole thing. You'd think power would let you do whatever you wanted."

"You have too many responsibilities now. The good guys, the bad guys, and everyone in between will want to, need to control you. You are too important to make decisions without considering all the possible consequences."

"Can't someone else be important for a while? Let them be the lightning rod and leave me alone."

"We do have the old system of regents, but would that satisfy you? Considering your history, you'll only end up fighting them if they did something you didn't like."

"I think we'll have to come up with a new system. But tonight is not that night. Tonight I want to be out there."

"You may, within limits. You know we must do what we have to do."

"Sounds like I'll have to rally a new set of troops to help me ditch you guys."

"Please don't, Rain," the old man pleaded. "You know we're just trying to do our best."

"Sometimes I think you're trying to make me give up hope for a better life, to only dangle visions of happiness briefly in front of me, then yank them away at the last second."

"I don't think you're being fair now," he said. "You have more than just yourself to worry about now."

"I know, I know. You're great and all, but sometimes I wish you weren't a part of my life. Or, I don't know, that I wasn't stuck with the same limits that you seem so keen to put on me."

"If you can come up with a better solution I'm all ears," he replied.

"Don't worry, I will," she said. "But we can't live our entire lives on hope alone. What do you have for me today? For that matter, what do you have for yourself today?"

"Alright alright, let's head out," he relented. "You know I still need to gather the security detail right?"

"Sure," she jumped up. "I promise I'll get down to more serious business tomorrow, or at least in a few days."

Her adviser couldn't help rolling his eyes a bit but said nothing as he left the room.

She watched him leave and stared at the doorway for a few minutes. Then she scrambled up to the open window.

The evening air was cold and fresh. Completely different from the room she just came from. She looked at the ground outside for an instant before she jumped.

A minute later, she was running through the streets of the town, dressed like any commoner, the wind in her hair and no military entourage in sight.

"Freedom," she thought.

That night she would get to know her town as it really was, from the perspective of those who truly lived in it, something that would not have been possible if she were surrounded by her knights. That night it would be honest to her because she became a part of it.

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