It was a long and painful walk from the gate to the front door of the estate. The paved road had so many twists and turns and everywhere I looked was obscured by trees. Thankfully the owner had the insight to place benches and water fountains in just the right spots in case a poor soul like me could rest her blistering feet. Still, what a ridiculous and flawed design for an estate that only serves to stroke the ego of the owner.
Every so often I would pull out the Help Wanted flyer to help motivate me to keep going. The job was asking for maids of any experience, including those with no experience at all, and the pay was unbelievably good. If anyone could get the job, they would also get free rooms on the estate, daily meals, and transportation if said future employees have none. With so many benefits on top of the great pay, it was surprising that there wasn a line as long as the road of people wanting to give it a swing.
Then again, who nowadays would want to be a maid? I took the job so eagerly because they were the first high-paying job that called me back for an interview. The other options that involved my major barely acknowledged my existence which only stings the more that my best option to pay back my loans was this.
Not wanting to think about such a heavy burden, I continued up the hill.
Now nearly out of breath with only the promise of big money keeping me going, I finally made it to the door. Hours ago, I called the faculty from the gate phone, so they knew I was coming. I knocked on the door and waited for someone to arrive.
The door soon opened to reveal a tall, gorgeous maid with long black hair and a sharp smile. Her skin was pale with freckles sprinkled all over her face. Her maid uniform had many light blues and aquamarines, the dress barely passed her knees, and her sleeves were open at the wrist drooping at the far ends.
”Eve Teodora Young. On behalf of the master of this estate and everyone who lives here, we honor your arrival. ” She spoke so sweetly and properly that I felt strangely empowered and nervous to be greeted in that manner.
”Thank you for having me, ” I replied.
The maid welcomed me in and I followed her. It was only now I realized the house was massive. It easily had three stories and nearly endless rooms. Everything looked to be made of marble and practically shined from how clean things were. Paintings hung proudly of Norse-inspired depictions of valkyries riding on pegasi and an old man on top of a recently defeated animal. That must have been the master of this place. My glance moved further upward to the ceiling to notice other maids cleaning the nooks and crannies of the support beams. Their uniforms were designed to give them freedom of movement, but what bothered me was that they had nothing to keep them from falling from such heights.
I bumped into another maid who soon after apologized and quickly went on her way. She seemed older than most of the maids and her uniform had a long dress and form-fitting long sleeves. Every maid had different designs to the uniform ranging in colors and length. Each maid also ranged in colors as if the whole world was mixed into this one place. It was nothing but maids.
We finally made it to the kitchen where three maids were cooking in a studio size cooking area. They flew from one pot to a cutting board dancing effortlessly around each other and keeping the area near spotless.
I was given a place to sit and was offered something to drink. I nervously asked for water.
As soon as I was settled, the maid who let me in who was called Tina Nguyen said, ”Please wait here. The interview will start shortly. ” She then left.
It was at this brilliant point that my nerves caught up to me. My imagination drifted to the thought of me having to serve an old man who would watch me intently as I worked. A shiver threatened to shake my whole body. On one hand, I didn want to be violated or mistreated in any circumstance. On the other hand, I couldn stop thinking about all those digits that would flow into my pocket for a single hour I would work here. Besides, this was a temporary job that I could quit at any time. If I didn like it here, or better yet was not qualified, then this wasn for me. But I was running out of time to find any amount of income before my parents stopped supporting me to live with them.
”Master Wallace, you shouldn be walking around like that. ” At the word ”master ”, I snapped out of my thoughts doing my best to prepare for who I was about to see, but what I saw shattered expectations. Walking into the kitchen was a half-awake, around-my-age man wearing only a pink-ish bathroom. He was scratching the back of his matted burnet hair. The top of his forehead and left cheek were slightly scared.
”Its my house. Ill walk around naked if I want. ” The cheeks of the kitchen maids turned red at the statement. I felt my face heat up at the comment as well. Was this the son of the owner?
He didn notice me at first making his way to the refrigerator. He poured himself a glass of water and made his way to the table I was sitting at. It was only during his long sip did he realize I was sitting across from him, his eyes snapping awake.
”Who are you?! ” He demanded of me. Before I could explain he turned to the kitchen maids. ”Who is this?! ” The kitchen maids sheepishly avoided eye contact which only infuriated him. He turned back to me. ”I don know how you got in… Tina!! ” In the pause, there was a realization in his eyes as if everything in that moment came together.
The blue-dressed maid came in on cue as if she wasn far. She had a look that didn imply that anything was wrong. ”Yes, Master Wally. Is something wrong? ”
He scoffed at her words. I could feel as though the whole house was holding its breath. ”Of course this was your doing. Inviting strangers without me knowing. ”
e referring to this young lady who came for an interview- ”
”I told you, we aren doing that. I made it clear that would be the end of the conversation! ”
”End of the conversation, yes. But this is an act. Besides, she had to walk all this way up the drive path just to sit down to have the chance at this job. How can you deny such dedication? ” Tina looked like a child trying to convince their parents to keep a stray they found. It was weird since she was taller than her master.
I stood up. ”I-if this is a bad time, I could just leave. ”
”No! No. ” said the master. His face softened as he looked at me. ”Will you be willing to wait just a little while so I can get… presentable? ”
I nodded and sat back down. I was compensated for the extra waiting time with food as lunch was close upon us. The dining hall that was a part of the kitchen was filled with maids eating and drinking. They talked in hushed and loud conversations. Some were directed at me, but it was more out of curiosity than malice gossip. The food was wonderfully made. If this was the kind of stuff they were serving daily, on top of the pay, this would have sold me to the job. Still, I felt on edge partly because I didn know what I would be doing.
The master came back now clean and dressed. He wore a dark blue velvet tux with white highlights. His hair was slicked back and he had a focused expression.
”Will you please come with me for the interview? ” He asked. I nodded and I followed him. We made it to a large patio that overlooked the other side of the estate. Down below the height of the hill, there was a lake that glistened off the afternoon sunlight. I could see a peer where several boats were docked. The more I explored this place, the bigger it seemed to get. How many people were needed to keep this place functional?
”Please, have a seat. ” the master of the house pulled out a chair for me to sit in. At least he had gentleman qualities. Once he sat down himself, he flapped a stack of papers in front of him and began the interview. ”Eve Teodora Young. Graduated with a major in Physical Geography – Geodesy and a minor in general sciences. Interesting background for someone applying for a maid job. How did you hear about this position? ”
”A-I saw a flier, ” I said nervously.
”Relax. These are just the general questions. Nothing Im sure you haven heard before. ” I took a deep breath trying to remember the last time I had an interview. ”Now, why do you want to work as a maid for this estate? ”
I hesitated. ”If I can be honest? ” He nodded. ”I saw the pay that was being offered, but I have no interest in being a full-time maid at your fathers estate. ”
”Grandfather I believe you meant to say. Technically its my estate now. My grandfather is dead. ”
”Oh… Im–sorry to hear that. ”
”Hes been dead for a long time. Im over it. ” He said it so passingly that it was disturbing. So he was the true master of this place. ”Aside from the money, what do you wish to gain from this job. ”
”Ah… Im not so sure. I can think of anything I could gain from being a maid. ” I said sheepishly.
He grinned and said, ”Youd be surprised. ”
”Oh, I don mean being a maid would teach me anything worthwhile or nothing at all. I just mean that it seems so far removed from what I went to college for. I want to travel the world, you see, and being a maid is such a stationary position. ”
He looked at me for a while before putting the papers face down on the table. ”How about this? If you agree to work here for a time, then I will help you improve on that dream of yours. ”
”Meaning what exactly? ”
”First and foremost I will pay for any standing loans you have accumulated during your college career. ” My jaw dropped at that, but he was only getting started. ”On top of that, if you prove to have good work etiquette, then I will assign you jobs that are better suited to your major and accumulated skills. All this and more under the guarantee you work here for the whole of a determined time. ” He thought for a moment as if calculating the time. ”A year should be enough. ”
”A year?! ” I nearly fell out of my seat at the prospect.
”Is that too long? ” he asked, seeming concerned.
”Nononono, its short. Compared to everything Im getting, it seems like a year is no time at all. What could I possibly be given to do to earn all of that? ”
”Nothing too grand I would imagine. You would start with simple tasks to get you allocated to how things work, then well slowly escalate at your pace. ”
”And what if my pace is slow? ”
”As long as you work your hardest for a year, then you will have fulfilled your requirement. ”
I was overjoyed I could practically kiss him on the cheek. It was too good to be true, but I dared not question it. By the look of this house and everything around it, it made sense that he could afford such an investment. Since it seemed like I was the only one to get an interview today, I must have been given a special offer. As soon as I could speak, I agreed to the offer I signed my name where I was asked.
I decided to live on the estate for conveniences sake and they helped me move in. The rest of the day went by like a blur. My mind was flooded with ideas of what I could buy from a car to a new game station to an apartment. Of course, the room I had now would always overshadow any place I could get myself. Being a maid may not be for me, but at least I can enjoy every waking moment of being one.
Wallace could appreciate that he was already dressed to go to the meeting, even if he was going to be early. The spear, sword, shield, and gun were a bit much he thought, but he could only love Edith and the rest of the martial maid corp for thinking of his safety. Tina was tidying up his suit and was with other maids to see him off. They were standing at the docks of the lake a little after the interview with Eve Teodora Young.
”We still need to talk after this, ” Wallace told Tina firmly.
”I await whatever punishment you see fit, Master Wally. ” She smiled deviously with her sharp teeth that went unnoticed by Eve. Wallace was unfazed at her comment. ”I don mean to do anything behind your back, but we needed a new maid. ” Wallace looks away from her and the other maids. ”I thank you for at least interviewing her, but don forget to give her a chance. ”
”I gave her a chance and an offer she can refuse. ” He gently removed Tinas hands from his suite only to kiss them. He then left the blushing Tina behind reaching the edge of the docks.
”We pray for your safe return. ” The maids said in unison as they bowed to their master.
Wallace jumped into the water, but no splash was made.
The sky was bright and blue and would soon dip on the edge of dusk. Time would pass and the dusk would never leave, but would somehow find its way to dawn. The plants all glowed with bioluminescent pinks, blues, whites, and some greens. On the left side of the dirt path Wallace walked, there were many cliffs sides with waterfalls yelling in the distance. However, if one was to look over the edge, they would find that the falls lead to no water source that could be seen with the naked eye. And yet, ripples like water could be seen over the edge of the path and throughout the horizon on a surface that cannot be seen except for the ripples. Specialized boats glide across the invisible surface towards the council hall Wallace was making his way to. The council hall is a collection of interlocking branches and roots that cover a frame made of unrefined metal beams. The open gaps at the top of the structure are filled in with glass.
The place itself was beautiful, but Wallace found himself hating the place more for the meetings it held rather than the structure itself.
e quite early, Master Wallace. ” A groveling, subservient voice came from a similarly groveling, subservient man. He was only as tall as Wallaces kneecaps and was hunched over a stand with a list of names. His brown-green skin along with pointed ears that were twice the length of his head was proof of his goblin heritage. Scroll Keeper Makeavelian was one of the goblins that kept watch over the entrances of the council hall and Wallace had nothing but respect for him and his colleges for only through them can someone enter. ”I understand you called this meeting, but even then this is a surprise. ”
”I had another business that ended not too recently and decided to come here since I was ready. All is fine Scroll Keeper. ”
”For now, but later? ” All the while the Scroll Keeper didn look up from his papers. These were good omens if none specified.
”I will deal with later. And as always, I know you will keep things in line. ” Makeavelian grunted letting Wallace in.
The halls were filled with fey music as waiters and waitresses glided past any patron visitors and spokesmen offering them drinks and hors doeuvre. Wallace took a glass of orange wine. As he was about to drown the oncoming headache that was sure to come, he heard a voice that brought on the headache then and there.
”Well if it isn the Master of the Menagerie.
” A proud and pompous voice came from the silver-skinned, long white-haired, pointed-eared Cardinal Silnicas Brandie. (Cardinal, in this case, is a royal title not unlike Duke) Wallace stared at the Cardinal while slowly sipping on the wine.
”I hear it was you who called this meeting. Is that true? All these years, I wouldn take you for the type. Tell me, what would cause someone of your
enown to do such a thing. ”
”You will get your answer when the meeting starts. ”
”But Im here now and the time for the meeting is soo long away. What harm is there to be had over such a conversation. ”
”You want to know so badly, then maybe you would like to feel the sharp ends of my katana. ”
”Oh, long Ive waited for the day. ”
As the two squared off, a deep commanding voice came in between them. A bulky, two-horned man with a ring in his nose and a battle-ax on his back stared them both down. ”Councilmen, ” he said as a greeting, but both Silnicas Brandie and Wallace Kim knew what it was actually.
Wallace was the first to kindly and respectfully say, ”Cardinal Silnicas Brandie, forgive me for my harsh, brash, and simply violent words. ” Wallace bowed.
Silnicas does the same. ”Master Wallace Kim, I shouldn have pushed you on a matter that you wish to keep to yourself. Can I call you Master Wallace or do you prefer your other, more pristine title? ”
”Wallace will do. ”
”Well then if you will excuse me. ”
As soon as the Cardinal left, Wallace regained his dismayed frown and downed the rest of the wine.
”You shouldn let him get in your head, ” said Baron Blackhold.
”Disagreement in unity. That is what we preach here and what I practice. ”
”What you have with Silnicas Brandie is a rivalry; a skirmish. But he has a point, what have you called us here for? ”
Wallace shook his head. ”I would rather wait until the meeting. I would like to avoid all rumors from spreading. ”
The Baron blew smoke out of his nose in response. ”I understand. Shall we make our ways to the seats? ”
”I wish to prepare longer. ”
With that, Blackhold left Wallace to be alone with his thoughts.
The meeting room always seemed small to Wallace. There were only a handful of seats with one big one between all of them and the speaking grounds was only 10ft in radius. That said, there was a seat for each representative with a table used for holding papers or food if there happened to be catering that day. Rarely would a meeting have all of the seats filled with their respective representative since not every meeting concerned the whole council? Today was one of few exceptions. Aside from the big seat and his seat, Wallace stood on the dirt-covered speaking grounds with the attention of the whole council on him.
Wallace spoke allowing his words to echo. ”Ladies and gentleman under the Court Hall of Dusk, Ive called you all today to discuss matters involving the deaths of a handful of maids under my employ. ” The hall burst with murmurs of confusion and disbelief.
”You mean to tell us that you brought us all the way here to whine about the loss of your playthings. ” Spoke an old, bronze skin woman with pointed ears, not unlike Silnicass.
”I believe what Mistress Seliana means is, though we the members of the court lament your loss, surely you did not call us to inform us of a personal death. ” This mans skin was rough like bark and his eyes were black with green irises.
”Forgive me for acknowledging the court of the passing of a handful of my loved ones, ” Wallace spoke venomously, ”but I think it would better please you to know that that is not the reason I called you here. How they died is whats important. Their deaths were at the hands of giants. ” More muttering sprung up. Some claimed heresy while others didn know what to think, but the overall feeling was that of disbelief.
Cardinal Silnicas Brandie made the effort to calm the crowd. ”Ladies and gentlemen under the Court Hall of Dusk, may I remind you that we are all here. We came under the simple understanding that Master Wallace Kim had something important to tell us and question not about why, or not enough, to warrant not coming at all. Why? Because we all believed that Master Wallace had something important and trustworthy to say. Now I have my doubts, but I have a feeling we cannot pass this up as hearsay. ” The court quieted down understanding the weight of Seliana taking the side of Wallace.
Another voice came from the crowd. ”Do you have proof of what you say? ”
”Only the corpses of the maids and, in respect for them, I did not bring their bodies. Knowing that I would have no proof, I come to you hoping that you will at the very least keep your ears to the ground and ask you to share any similar events that may have happened in your region. ” All other members claimed to have no such experiences.
Mistress Seliana spoke, ”To claim that giants are about is to accuse my house of not keeping watch over the border and to assume the border is weakened. Do you claim these things? ”
Wallace responded, ”Even stars die eventually, Mistress Seliana, but I do not claim to either of those things. However, my tragedy has brought to light the fact that giants are roaming and precautions must be made. ”
”And what did you have in mind? ” asked another member. ”Did you want us to send you support? Protection? Have you thought that maybe you are being targeted by malicious forces? ”
”They will gain nothing from attacking my house for I have little to take compared to the rest of the council, ” Wallace responded.
”But you do have something to lose, Master of the Menagerie, ” Seliana said mockingly.
The air within the room shifted into feeling like the ozone as Wallace said to Seliana through his teeth, ”Choose your words wisely Old Hag Seliana. ”
”Enough! ” Boomed the voice of Baron Blackhold. ”Disagreement in unity. No violence or the provocation of violence is allowed in this court. ” The Baron calmed down and continued. ”If there is anyone among the court who does not believe in the words of Master Wallace, raise your hands now. ” No one raised their hand. ”Because we are in unanimous agreement that the words of Master Wallace are firm, we will all take precautions for this yet to be determined fret. However, Master Wallace, because of the lack of evidence you have for your claim, the court is unable to move with any further decision. Is there anything else you would wish to say? ” There was nothing else and the meeting was adjourned.
The meeting went better than Wallace thought all things considered. To think it all swayed for the better because of Brandie. Though the council was aware, Wallace was still alone in this fight.
The first morning of the job was a weird one. I woke up not knowing where I was. I thought I was on vacation with my parents until I saw my maid uniform hanging on the wardrobe. It was red and the skirt was as long as Tinas, but with fewer frills. It didn have long sleeves only stopping past my shoulders. I hesitated to put it on, but I remembered all the benefits I was getting from this day to a year from now. I couldn put the uniform on faster.
Not knowing where to go next, I decided to make my way to the kitchen for some breakfast. I was able to map out the layout up to my room from the front door, so it wasn hard to find the kitchen in the big house. Once there, I saw the three maids that were working at the kitchen yesterday hanging around a table that the master–or Master Wallace from today on–was sitting at. He wore his robe from last time, only now he wore sweatpants, a t-shirt, and slippers along with it. He was drinking coffee looking as though he was fighting a hangover. Must be a heavy drinker or went to a rich party last night.
”Good morning. ” said the three girls in unison. This in turn caused Master Wallace to perk up.
”Good morning, ” I responded with a smile. ”I didn know where to go next, so I came here. I hope thats ok? ”
As if he just realized who I was, Master Wallace tiredly said, ”Right. I guess I didn give you any real instructions. ” He began to rub his temples as if he needed a moment to think.
One of the peach-colored-uniformed maids asked, ”So you ended up getting the job? ”
”Yes, I did, ” I said. ”Im Eve. ”
One after the other, the kitchen maids gave me their names. Sallie, Madison, and Lana OConnor all looked the same with their tan skin and red twin tail hairs. The only thing that separated them was that Sallie looked to always be excited, Madison kept spacing out, and the one who spoke to me, Lana, was the most focused. Master Wallace was still in a thinking position, so I figured I would strike a conversation.
”Is it just you three behind the kitchen or are there more of you? ”
”Just us, ” said Sallie.
”That sounds like a lot of work for just the three of you, ” I remembered the sheer number of maids that were all eating during lunch the day before and that may well not have been all of them.
Madison spoke up next. ”We are really good at what we do. No one can best us with a knife. Well maybe Edith, but Edith doesn cook. ”
Sallie perked up. ”Maybe you can help us in the kitchen as your first job. ”
Madison followed. ”OOO, can she master? Weve never had four people work the kitchen. ”
”And for good reason, ” argued Lana. ”She doesn look like she can cook to save her life. ” Which was true, but it felt bad hearing it from someone who just met me.
Master Wallace finally stopped stroking his head and said, ”You know what? Thats not a bad idea. Its the easiest and less saturated area. Ill even watch you since I don have anything else to do today. ”
Lana responded. ”Don you have training with Ediths corp? ”
”Right. Forgot. ”
”Shall I send someone to tell her you are not well? ”
”Im fine. In fact, Im going now. ” And he trudged on with his coffee in hand. ”Good luck, Eve. ”
Even before he left, I was spirited to the work area by Sallie and Madison with Lana trailing behind. The two bubbly sisters taught me everything from where certain dishes and utensils were to how the produce was organized in the cupboard and refrigerator. Lana was always on my back when I got something wrong when it came to preparing the food and at first it was annoying. It wasn until I nearly cut my hand–which she prevented–that I came to respect her words. It helped that she didn gloat or say anything along the lines of ”I told you so ” and simply ask for me to be better. I did get better, but there was still so much to learn.
During this time, I was able to ask them personal questions which led me to find out that they were in fact sisters, but their blood relation was complicated. My first thought was that they had different parents, but I didn think it was too possible to have different parents, look the same, and be born on the same day. I tried to get a clear understanding, but nothing came of it. Eventually, they started asking me questions and I responded by talking about my major and how I wanted to travel.
Madison asked. ”Is that your dream; to travel the world? ”
”I wouldn say its my dream, ” I said. ”Traveling the world is something just about anyone can do nowadays, and traveling the whole world seems like a stretch. ”
”So you don have a dream? ” She asked. She sounded like a child who was told that Santa wasn real.
I paused to think about that question. ”I think its more of an I forgot my dream rather than I don have one. Nearly 5 years of college and two months of struggling to get a job hasn given me enough chances to chase a dream let alone plan for one. ”
Lana then asked, ”Well, now that you have a job, will you start making plans for that dream of yours? ”
”And since when have you cared about someones dreams? ” Madison retaliated.
”Ive always cared about peoples dreams. ” Lana defended.
”Yeah right. ” Said Sallie. ”Youve always shot our ideas down. ”
”Thats because your ideas are crazy and unrefined like that one time you wanted to jump to the moon. ”
”Edith could do it! ” Said Madison.
”Edith could jump a large rock. Edith could–eventually–jump a mountain, but not to the moon. ”
The sister continued to argue and at some point, I couldn hold back my laughter. Despite the seriousness in their voices, none of it felt hostile to me. Once I started laughing, they stopped arguing.
When I was done laughing I said, ”Truth be told, Im just playing it by ear. One day I hope to have a dream again, but not now. ” All three sisters seemed disappointed by that answer but didn push past that.
During all of that, I noticed that the house