CHAPTER 22 - A Hero Emerges (2)
“Can’t you just ask the king to give us one?”
“You really want to be indebted to him?”
“I mean, fair point. But, and hear me out here, shouldn’t he want to provide for his daughter?”
“I am the second princess. I have four older brothers and an older sister. The resources I am allowed are not as vast as you seem to think.”
Alex and Celia continued to bicker as the group looked over the horses and carriages for sale and rent. The busy marketplace was loud and crowded around them. Vendors called out to passerby, hocking their wares. The smell of food wafted through the streets. If Alex had to compare it to Earth, it’d be like a massively popular farmers’ market.
“I guess that makes sense. Hey, that reminds me, why do people not recognize you for who you are? You may be the sixth in line, but you’re still royalty, you know?”
“I have spent my entire life in the castle. Better that than to make myself known and risk getting kidnapped.”
“Your entire life? Didn’t it get boring?”
“Not at all. You’ve seen the castle grounds. I could spend three lifetimes there and still feel there would be more to explore! Besides, I had friends.”
She looked over at Treya, who blushed and turned back to the wagon she was inspecting. She checked the wheels and frame, looked at the canopy, and searched for any signs of rotting.
“This one should be fine. The price is reasonable, as well. Good, considering this man doesn’t seem eager to haggle.”
The man she was referring to nodded. He was a portly gentleman in clothes that reminded Alex of a stablehand.
“That’s correct, Miss. My prices are fair. I don’t overcharge, and you don’t ask for a discount. Nice and simple.”
Treya rolled her eyes and walked over to the others. Alex and Celia had ceased their arguing while they looked at the horses. It was Quinn who spoke out next.
“These two. They are strong, and they like us. They think we are funny.”
“Can you speak to animals, big guy? Is that, like, a Lycan ability or something?”
“No, I cannot, and it is not. I just… feel it, I guess?”
Alex nodded, a smile appearing on his lips as he watched the giant of a man feed a carrot to each of the horses he had chosen.
“Good enough for me. Rule #5, never underestimate your instincts.”
‘I always hated that rule.’
‘That’s why we never trust your instincts. You’re almost always wrong!’
‘That’s a lie, and you know it! But, in this instance, I’ll play along, since I know little to nothing about horses and the like.’
Alex took out the coin purse the king had given him and turned to the merchant. They talked for a bit before the money changed hands and he turned back to the party.
“Right, let’s get them hooked up and get on the road. Sooner we set out, sooner I can get home.”
The merchant pocketed the coins and brought over the horses’ gear, showing the party how to attach them to the wagon. Alex observed and memorized the procedure as it was shown. Quinn helped, and the horses seemed to follow his directions without any trouble.
Once everything was hooked up, Treya hopped into the driver’s seat and took the reins. She pointed at the gate in the distance, facing to the west.
“Finish securing our provisions. I shall be waiting outside the gate. Don’t get into trouble.”
“Aww, come on! Have a little faith, will ya?” Alex grinned confidently.
“No. You’ve done little to earn said faith, nomad.”
Without waiting for any further reply, she cracked the reins, and the wagon lurched forward, creaking off down the busy street as people scurried to keep out of the way. Alex turned back to the others with a frown.
“I don’t think she likes me very much.”
“Oh, do not mind her, Master Jaeger. She is like that to the people she likes. It is when she stops talking to you that you need to worry.”
“If you say so. Alright, let’s split up. Quinn, here’s some money. Go get yourself some armor and maybe a sword and shield. Given your physique, we’re gonna count on you to be the frontman if things get combative.”
Quinn stared at the coins and opened his mouth to protest before Alex shook his head.
“No whining. If you’re coming with us to somewhere as dangerous as I think, you’re going to need some gear. Use the leftovers to get a maintenance kit and a couple of changes of clothes. Celia, you’re in charge of food and similar items. I’m going to get our travel equipment.”
He handed Celia some coins as well, and she took them without a word. As she turned to leave, so did Quinn, leaving Alex alone in the busy marketplace. He looked around and ALICE read his thoughts.
‘Every time you’re alone, something crazy happens. What kind of trouble are you going to get into this time, Fenrir?’
‘Shut up, ALICE. You talk like you don’t love getting in trouble with me.’
’Why, Alex, you know me so well!’