The fae that smells of spring,

With a twirl of her wings

He clings with an ever-loving zing.

She plays with the strings of the beloved king

The songs from the bard academy have certainly soured her mood of late. They have found a new muse in the relationship the nymph shared with her Spring. It was a downside to her becoming a common sight with the king. She was tempted to Silence him, but Nyrissa could not fight the River Freedoms, at least not openly. The skies rumbled with thunder as Nyrissa refused to give to believe the seductive voice in her head, saying that she was the cause of the enduring storm affecting the capital.

She was acting so coy,

No one saw the clever ploy.

Until it was too late,

The fae had a date

The king was enamoured,

All suitors forever spurred.

The newest graduate of Pitax's Bard College was performing for some diplomats his latest ballad to showcase the artistic "freedom" of the Stolen Lands. The king's dislike for politically heavy-handed rules, Nyrissa agreed with her Spring's choice to allow such freedom. Songs that regularly sing about the greatness of ruler and country do tend to get tedious and boring.

Nyrissa left the court to its own devices. The rain fell upon her skin the moment she stepped outside, while many of the citizens hid away from the cold shower sprinkling across the city, Nyrissa basked in it, and the rumbling thunder was a pleasurable beat in her ears. She strode through the market, where many people seem to share her joy for the rain.

Except for one, however.

A child, perhaps no older than 11 or 12, waited under the stall of a vegetable vendor as she watched the skies with trepidation. The thunder could be somewhat daunting to children. She never saw Nyrissa come up right next to her. "Do you not like the rain, little one?" The nymph asked, only as she stifled a chuckle behind her hand as the child jumped in surprise, nearly tipped over the basket of vegetables next to her feet. She looked up at Nyrissa, eyes wide and mouth fluttered open and close. Nyrissa smiled down at her. "Or is it the thunder that scares you?"

The child immediately shook her head negatively but did not say a word. She looked up to Nyrissa without suspicion of caution, which she has seen others, though she still did not talk. It was a bit awkward between them before Nyrissa remembered the lessons that mortals teach their young.

"Oh, where are my manners," The nymph leaned down toward the girl and held out her hand. "My name is Nyrissa, and it's a pleasure to meet you, may I have your name little one?"

The girl looked at Nyrissa's outstretched hand with trepidation. The farmer behind the stall spoke up, "Lady Nyrissa is one of the most important people in the kingdom Rag'na. Think of her as an extra special city guard."

The little girl smiled, and she shook Nyrissa's hand with a surprising amount of strength.

On the walk back to the orphanage, the little half-orc regaled her with all sorts of tales. Matron of the orphanage used to always take her along for the daily shopping trip to the market. Since most of the children caught the flu over the past week, the Matron did not want to leave them unattended in case of the worse.

"So, I told Matron Fert thatIcan pick up the vegetables all by myself!" Rag'na exclaimed as she puffed out her chest with pride, "I've been going with him all week, so I knew exactly where Mr. Barly's stall is in the marketplace."

Nyrissa nodded bemusedly. "You seemed a little wary of the rain, were you afraid of getting wet during your task Rag'na?" The fae teased with a cheeky tone.

Rag'na seemed a little sheepish as if to hide underneath Nyrissa's wings that sheltered her from the rainfall. "I'm not scared of water!" She pointed out proudly, her tusks jutted outward. "But I know Matron Fert doesn't like wet vegetables." Rag'na's face scrunched up in thought, "They should only be washed before you cook'em, or they'll go bad quicker." She recalled.

"I heard the cook saying the same things at the castle." Nyrissa agreed. "Are you going to help him cook when you get back to the orphanage?" Rag'na nodded, "Yep! Me and Devlin are going to peel all the vegetables. Though we are still too small to do anything with the stove."

The Matron already sounded overworked, dealing with the sick children. Perhaps this would be an exciting way to spend her day?

A group of peasants watched her walking by; they stilled and immediately whispered amongst themselves. Nyrissa only picked up the words "devious trickery." She had almost forgotten why she left the court today in the company of Rag'na. "Do you think Matron Fert would mind if I offered to help?"

"You can cook Miss Nyrissa?" She asked innocently.

The question took Nyrissa back. She has never cooked anything in her life, but she certainly did not want to go back to the castle now. "N-no." She stuttered, "But maybe I can help your matron with tending to other children." She might not know any healing magic, but her mind was already going over herbs and plants that could help with the flu. A small corner in the dark recesses of her mind spoke of how these same herbs could be used for poison with jealous advisors vying for the throne.

Rag'na nodded, "That would be nice of you, Miss Nyrissa." Her face then lit up as the orphanage came into view. "We're HERE!" The little half-orc ignored the final sputters of rain as she ran for the door. She practically slid to a stop in front of the door. She tenderly opened the door, "We have to be very quiet," Rag'na whispered. "A lot of the babies sleep most of the day." She softly walked through the door, and Nyrissa after her, floating just above the ground.

"What is that sme-" They soon enter the next room where a human male was slowly rocking a blue bundle in his arms. He turned around to look, "Rag'na-" He started only to be flat-footed as Nyrissa floated into the room behind her. "Milady," He said in awe, he was about bow before Nyrissa lightly grabbed hold of his arm.

"No one needs to bow to me, especially one as caring as you, dear Matron." Nyrissa consoled him. "My new friend Rag'na has told all the wonderful things that you do." In the corner of her eye, the nymph could see the half-orc stand a little straighter she held the grocery basket in her hands. "Much like a wind passing through a meadow, I am quite free today. Can I help you and your staff with the little ones?" She questioned.

A week later,

Despite her Spring's assurances, the songs of bards still grated upon her patience. The children at the orphanage were a welcome respite. Nyrissa thought they would be a little nervous around her, stories about fae stealing and eating children are not untrue, but they still welcomed her. Such openness from children, she had to ask the Matron Fert about it.

He smiled softly. "That's all because of Lady Kalikke." Fert grimaced in remembrance. "A couple of men came around the orphanage and started spinning tales of how tieflings sacrifice orphaned children for dreadful rituals." He said disdainfully.

That certainly threw Nyrissa for a loop. "But the king is a tiefling."

The Matron nodded, "Exactly, but it doesn't matter to them." He sighed. "Those three were always troublemakers, even said that Rag'na should go fend for herself out in the wilds so that she doesn't beat on the other children."

Nyrissa found that to be completely ridiculous. She has never seen a nine-year-old so considerate of size, Rag'na is the tenderest child she has ever seen. "And I suppose according to them, the king wears my collar around his neck." The nymph turned away from the Matron as she focused intently on folding the laundry, scandalous thoughts crossed her mind. They got their information backwards; Her Spring keeps her collar hidden somewhere in the throne room. She has until Moonday night to find it, or else she would be punished.

Unsuspecting of the lustful memories recycling in Nyrissa's mind, Matron Fert broke through her joyful recollection. "Lady Nyrissa, I appreciate you helping out here at the orphanage." He limped his way over to a makeshift chair. "There are only a few of us, and a lot of children, many of them are far too young and need a lot of supervision." He collapsed into a heap as he sat down, a burden left his shoulders as he visibly relaxed.

"I'm surprised you have not appealed to the Regent or the High Councilor for more staff," Nyrissa questioned. "The king has been very vocal about his support for the orphanage."

Matron Fert looked rather sheepish. "There is no need for that Lady Nyrissa." He rubbed the back of his neck, an attempt to soothe away the ache in his muscles. "In a year or two, most of these children will be old enough to watch themselves-"

Thunderous knocks against wood came from the entrance. The Matron looked visibly surprised, "Now who could that be?" He moved to get up from the chair, but Nyrissa stopped him. "Allow me, Matron." She said.

When she opened the door, it was the last person she wanted to see, but his current state of dress made this encounter well worth it. The bard who has been singing that unpleasant ballad. His fancy clothes smeared and splotched with a variety of stains, juices, and who knows what else. It brought a smile to her face; she did not bother to hide it. "Why hello there-" Nyrissa cooed, "Do you have any business with the orphanage?"

The bard's face was flushed red with anger, or perhaps it was half a smooshed tomato. "You!" He sneered. "You're the one that rallied those little monsters against me." He ranted and raved about the children who have started to annoy him the moment he started singing his infamous ballad. Bits and pieces of vegetables flew off him as they shouted about how the orphanage kids rallied the crowd against him for saying bad things about Ms. Nyrissa. A satisfying splat from an oddly coloured potato interrupted his tirade.

"Now, now, little songbird, have you forgotten the River Freedoms?" She loomed over the bard, who immediately quieted as the full presence of the powerful fae bore down upon him. "Say What You Will, I Live Free." Nyrissa stepped back from the stunned bard. "Perhaps it's time to come up with a different ballad?"

A/N

Took me a hot sec to figure out how to make Nyrissa interact with the public, wanted to use Knod Kraven making her uncomfortable at the castle, but after I came upon the idea of the bard, it took a day or two before I remembered the River Freedoms.

I also kept bouncing back about characters within the orphanage. Wanted to make Fert a halfling, and Rag'na an elf, but just really wanted to get rid all those humans.

Now expect the next chapter to be all about fluff.