I was writing in my journal in a quiet corner of the local tavern. The afternoon air was warm and balmy, and I'd already had two ginger beers in an attempt to cool down. I called out for another round and continued to scribble in the little book. A plump, ruddy-faced woman with kind eyes walked up to my table, a nice cold ginger beer in one hand.
"They say the walls have ears, but they have eyes too, y'ken?"
Her voice was low as she put the cup of ale on my table. "I hope ye ain't been scribbling anything… sensitive-like in there," she said, nodding her head at the second floor balcony. "You've got quite an audience."
I looked up to see a scruffy boy sitting on the floor of the balcony, his legs between the gaps of the balustrade. The wench wiped her hands on the towel stuffed into her waistband and shut my journal.
"He's just a child," I whispered. "I don't see why it should matter if he reads what I write."
"It matters because most would opt to ignore them the way you're doin' it now," she frowned at me and pulled the towel out and began to wipe at my spotless table. "And the smartest men oft pay well for a child's services."
She straightened up and looked straight at the little boy. "Don'tcha got parents who're missin' ya? Why don'tcha hurry along now, child."
The boy stiffened. In a flurry of movement, he got up and scampered away. I didn't know what to say, so I settled on,
"Anything for the next Ruler," the wench said with a wink. "The name's Poppy. It's nice to finally talk to ya, Nix."
"Who are you?" I asked, taken aback.
"I believe I just told you my name, child!" Poppy chuckled as she tucked the towel back into her waistband.
"You know what I meant." What did she want from me?
"Let's just say that I'm very invested in your success," she smiled at me. "Or at the very least, in making sure ya don't die from some foolish mistakes."
And so she pulled up a chair and explained that she wanted to act as my advisor. Considering that I was barely an adult, and that she had just dealt with a spy for me, I decided to agree to let her.
"I know ya might be thinkin', 'Poppy's but a simple wench! Poppy can't possibly know anything!' But believe me, child, I know people. I know their stories and I will make sure that we get to use that to our advantage."
So our partnership began.