CHAPTER 7 - Tropes (2)
ALICE refused to speak to him. She was still pouting about everything that had happened at the gate.
The duo was currently being escorted across a magnificent courtyard filled with roses and a fountain of immaculately carved marble. In front of them loomed an enormous castle, straight out of Alex’s fantasy mangas. Treya kept two steps ahead of him, walking with a confidence that would make you think she owned the place.
Alex didn’t bother filling the silence with small talk. He had a pretty good grasp of the situation from his books. Instead, he focused on mapping the area in his mind and planning potential escape routes if something went wrong. He took a mental note of the personnel he saw wandering about the grounds, gauging their combat ability.
If worse came to worse, he was confident he could evacuate without issue.
“I am not bringing you to the detaining cells, you realize.”
“I figured. Be kinda rude, considering how we’re friends now, and all that!”
Treya’s step faltered for the first time since passing through the gates.
“You think we are friends, Alex?”
“Well, duh! You don’t think so?”
She was silent for a few seconds before speaking up as she reached for the door in front of them.
“I owe you for saving us. That’s it.”
“Awww, I like you, too!”
Despite the scowl that appeared on her pristine features, Treya’s cheeks turned bright red as she flung the door open and shoved him inside.
If Alex smiled much more today, it might become permanently etched on his face.
He and Treya had split from the caravan after entering the gate, and she escorted him straight here. Nobody stopped them, but a few people recognized and greeted her. It seemed she was famous. More people looked at his gear and made odd expressions, but nobody dared to question them, given how purposefully she was moving.
Now inside the castle, Alex looked around. A single carpet stretched down the halls of stone brick. Tapestries, art, armor stands, the whole nine yards. This place was decked out, and Alex inwardly let out an impressed whistle.
Treya didn’t bother letting him admire the scenery, moving past him and making a sharp left down an adjoining hallway. She seemed to be moving a bit faster, and Alex had to trot a bit to catch up to her before falling back into an easy gait.
He considered asking her some more questions, but now didn’t seem to be the time. Maybe he had gone too far? Nah, she wouldn’t have blushed if that was the case. Right? Meh, too much thinking again. Instead, he continued mapping the various corridors as they moved along.
They walked for what seemed like several minutes, turning here and there, popping up a staircase now and back down later. This place was a veritable maze, but Alex refused to let himself be daunted.
‘Rule #2. The moment you let yourself feel overwhelmed, you WILL be overwhelmed.’
Just as he was about to open his mouth and ask how much further they had to go, Treya stopped. They were in a shorter hallway, lined on one side with ornate doors. It was outside one of these doors that they had come to a halt.
Treya shot Alex a look that directly notified him that he needed to be silent, and he took the cue with a thumbs up. She scoffed and spun, knocking on the door. A delicate voice, like a wind chime in a gentle breeze, wafted through the heavy wood.
Treya pushed the door open, revealing a beautifully decorated room. A four-poster bed sat against one wall, with a bay window opposite. Bookshelves lined the far wall, and a small, circular table draped in finery and covered with a tea set sat off-center, nearer the window.
A stunning woman, no older than her early 20s, was looking at them from one of the chairs at the small table. When she saw them enter, the probably expensive teacup in her hand fell to the ground and shattered. Her eyes went wide and she slowly rose to her feet.
Treya adopted the same stance Alex had seen the head guard making earlier. Seemed to be the salute for this world’s military, perhaps? If that was the case, he decided to mimic the motion as he stood behind his elven companion.
“Your Highness. I apologize for the sudden interruption, but I have brought someone I think-“
Who Alex could only assume was the second princess lost all composure and began stomping towards them. Warning bells flashed through his mind, only to be dispelled shortly after as the princess grabbed Treya’s arms, threw them wide, and embraced her.
“Why don’t you ever write, Treya?!”