Chapter 5
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Agis Clearshot and Anne Coris were both children of Theodas Clearshot, king of the elves in the Sacred Forest. Agis was the third son of Theodas' wife, Elincia. Anne was the daughter of one of Theodas' many mistresses.

The name of Anne's mother was never revealed in the original book. The original Anne hadn't known who her father was either until she'd happened to run into Agis at the edge of the forest one day. The family resemblance between them was instantly obvious to them both. They were practically identical, aside from hairstyle and a slight difference in eye color (Agis' eyes were a darker shade of blue.)

It was this family connection that allowed the elven army, which had been fighting off an invasion from the Wyernwolf army for years, to ally with the human resistance within the Wyernwolf Empire itself.

The new Anne remembered all this from reading The Foundling's Wings. She also remembered thinking that Agis was really annoying.

"You're so weak from being raised here in this human church," said Agis, smugly. "If the ordinary humans found out the truth of what you are, they'd probably tear you to shreds and you wouldn't even be able to defend yourself. I'm the best bowman in the whole Sacred Forest. I could probably fight off a whole mob of humans by myself if I had to."

"Good for you, Agis," said Anne, blank-faced.

"That's why you should come back to the Sacred Forest with me already. You'd be safer there. You'd be treated like a princess."

"No, I wouldn't," said Anne. "I'd have to join the royal guard like all of Dad's other illegitimate children, and they have a really high mortality rate."

"They don't all join the royal guard," said Agis.

"Can you think of any of our half-siblings other than me that aren't either part of the royal guard or dead?"

"Well... no," said Agis. "But, listen, the king doesn't treat his children that unequally. The queen's children have to join the army, too."

"Yeah, but you guys get to be commanders. The bastards are basically treated as human shields... uh, elven shields."

Agis stared at Anne for a moment, seemingly unable to come up with a rebuttal. So he gave up. "Still, your mom was stupid for abandoning you at this human church. Humans hate elves."

Anne sighed. There was no point arguing with Agis.

Anne thought the whole human vs elf subplot in the original novel was exceptionally silly. It was one of those really shallow fantasy allegories for discrimination and oppression that lacked any of the real nuance of actual oppression. In The Foundling's Wings, Saintess Anne did eventually reveal herself to be an elf to the general public, and it basically instantly cured the humans of all prejudice towards elves. Knowing this, Anne had a really hard time taking Agis' complaints about humans seriously. His over-the-top hatred of humans was also an attempt by the original novel to sell a kind of "well, both sides are at fault" narrative that was just exhausting.

Luckily, Eva came in at that moment, rescuing Anne from having to try to continue this conversation on her own.

She greeted Anne with a hug. "Very good job on the miracle today, my dear Saintess. I thought this one was especially inspiring. And Prince Agis," Eva curtsied respectfully. "I'm pleased to see you here. I have much to discuss with you. My sources have told me some interesting information about the Empire's movements on the eastern outskirts of the Sacred Forest."

"Out with it, then," said Agis.

"Not here," said Eva. "Saintess Anne doesn't need to hear us ramble on about military strategy. We should let her rest. Meet me at the forest's edge in half an hour."

"Fine. Farewell, sister." Agis nodded towards Anne before jumping backwards out of the window and disappearing into the night. Anne was almost surprised he hadn't done a backflip just to show off.

"Wait," said Anne. "Didn't you say you wanted to speak with me privately tonight? What did you want to talk to me about if not rebellion stuff?"

"My dear Saintess," said Eva, taking one of Anne's hands and smiling kindly at her. "I merely wanted to remind you that the Summer Ball is only a week away. Starting tomorrow we'll be practicing etiquette and dance together so you can be fully prepared. The fate of the rebellion depends on you finding us some high-ranking allies at the ball. That's all you need to focus on. You don't need to trouble yourself with military matters. And you should go to sleep early today. I know performing miracles takes a lot out of you and you haven't been well lately. You need to regain your full strength as soon as possible. "

After Eva left, Anne collapsed on her bed. If Anne was supposed to be the main character, why was she left out of all the important conversations? I mean, Anne had been deliberately trying to avoid talk of the rebellion, but it still seemed strange. Had it been like that in the book? Perhaps the original Anne had been too preoccupied by her own personal problems to notice. Oh, well. At least the bed was comfortable. She fell asleep quickly.

The next few days were not comfortable at all. In fact, Anne was starting to wonder why she'd ever thought her life here would be comfortable or pleasant. Every day she still had to deal with the incessant hair brushing and dull saintess duties, and on top of that she now had etiquette and dance lessons with Eva in the evenings. For the life of her, she couldn't remember any of the etiquette rules, and she was so uncoordinated she kept stumbling through all the dances and almost hurting herself and Eva.

And if all of that wasn't bad enough, the chef was now refusing to make any pastries for her, claiming it was Eva's instructions.

When Anne confronted Eva about it, Eva adopted a placating face and said, "My dear Saintess, you know I think you're perfect and adorable just the way you are. But your ball gown has already been made and I'd never forgive myself if you weren't able to fit into it by the day of the ball. You can eat all the pastries you want the day after the ball."

When Anne heard that, she very nearly destroyed her saintly image by swearing out-loud.

Anne was somewhat plump, although she hadn't really noticed much until now because it was similar to what her build had been in her past life. But who cared, anyway?

What's the point of being reborn in a fantasy world if I can't even escape the pressure to be dieting constantly? This sucks ass.

And as the ball approached, so did Anne's inevitable first meeting with Lady Corvina.

As she thought about it more and more, Anne was doing everything she could to come up with some way to change fate in a positive way, but she was still struggling just trying not to make anything worse. And the social politics of The Foundling's Wings were so complex that Anne had had a hard time wrapping her head around them even as a reader.

Yet despite its complexity, Lady Corvina herself was a master of social politics, able to subtly influence the world in all sorts of clever ways.

Anne, on the other hand, was starting to realize she had no social graces at all. She couldn't think of a single scheme to save Lady Corvina, and she wasn't sure she'd be able to pull one off even if she came up with anything.

The night before they left for the capital, Anne had one final practice session with Eva.

During dinner, Anne somehow managed to use the wrong utensil for every single course, and, when quizzed, she kept forgetting the names of every noble who was expected to sit near her at the banquet. When they danced, Eva leading, Anne did actually manage to remember most of the steps. She was feeling almost confident when she stepped directly on Eva's foot.

"Oh no, I'm so sorry!"

"Please, don't trouble yourself over it," said Eva, her eyes watering from the pain.

"It's hopeless," said Anne, plopping herself down on the grass of the courtyard where they'd been practicing.

"I don't understand it," said Eva, looking puzzled. "We used to dance together all the time when we were younger. You were always good at following my lead then."

"Maybe, um," said Anne, thinking quickly. "Maybe my recent illness has thrown off my coordination. Messed up my balance, or something?"

"Perhaps," said Eva, sitting down next to Anne.

They sat in silence for a moment.

Eva smiled cheerfully. "It's alright. We'll arrive at the ball after dinner has ended, and you'll politely refuse to dance with anyone. And I'll accompany you as an attendant so I can help guide you through the small talk. We'll get through this."

"Really?" asked Anne, skeptically. "You think it will work out?"

"Of course," said Eva. "As long as you follow my guidance, everything will always work out for you, my dear Saintess. I promise. All you need to do is play your role."

Thanks for reading! 

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