1

Herolia was a heroine, living in her tiny rural town at the edge of the world. She just didn’t know it yet.

One day, when she was out fetching water, a great soldier and a wandering stranger came riding into town.

The town’s best and brightest lined up to impress them. They were polite enough at first, but upon spying Herolia, the stranger nudged the soldier. “Her,” he said.

The stranger rode over to the self-unaware hero. “You are to be a great hero. You are to rescue all of Makebelieveia from plague, war, and ruin.”

She batted her eyelashes, confused. “Me? But I am just a maiden!”

“Not anymore. You are now the maiden. The Maiden of Makebelieveia. Now come, time is short.”

“No. I can’t leave my papa! He’s sick!”

“Suit yourself. We leave in the morning. Either you join us, or the world falls.”

That night, Herolia talked to her father. “These two men want me to ride with them into battle, to travel far away, to be a hero, but I have to stay here and take care of you!”

Her father frowned. “Two men, you say? Hm. I can see them wanting to ride with you, but into battle? Ridiculous.”

She bristled. “They say I am to be a great hero.”

“You’re a great sight to look at, nothing more. Now fetch me some bread and water.”

The next morning, Herolia awoke early and stole away. “Wait!” she called to the two men as they were beginning to ride off. “I want to come with you!”

The two men looked at each other. “Oh, why, that’s wonderful news!” The great soldier blustered. “Come with us!”

The trio rode away on horseback. Hers was named Daryl the Draft Horse. The two became best friends.

“I’m quite glad you decided to come!” the soldier said to Herolia. He rode in the front while she rode astride the stranger in the back.

“Truthfully, if you had not come willingly, we would have just taken you anyways,” the stranger leaned across to inform her.

“What? Why!” she recoiled in horror.

He laughed. “Greg Stolius the Great Soldier said it himself. The world will fall without you. You really think we’d just let you walk away?” He shook his head, still chuckling. “You don’t get to sit this one out.”

“Hmph!” she hmph’d. “Maybe I’ll just turn this horse around and go back then!”

He shook his head. “No, you won’t.”

She scowled. “And how would you know that?”

He shrugged. “Because I’m Knick the Knower. I know these things.”

And so it was that Herolia set out on a long and dangerous road to become a hero.