“Turn around.” The voice ordered again, and having no choice, Diana and Melissa turned around.
Two older men, nicely seated on horses, were standing there, scowling. One had brown hair, and the other had black, but the touch of silver with growing age was common in both. They carried swords, bows, arrows, and a lifeless deer, which showed their arrival from quite a good hunt.
The bearded man got up, ran in front of the newly arrived men, and said, “Help us!”. He pointed toward Diana and said, “She took all our money and beat us up. That girl is with her. Please, save us from them!”
Melissa held back her laughter and mimicked them in a small voice. The black hair man called in a warning tone.
Melissa flinched and laughed nervously, “Oh, Hi, Dad! You came back from hunting. Haha.” He sighed.
By then, the mustache man got up and stood next to his friend, “She said she’ll kill us if we don’t give her the money.”
He pointed toward them and said, “Did she do that?” both men nodded.
“I didn’t say that. Stop lying!” Diana snapped.
The man exclaimed and turned towards the two old men, “Look what she did to us! Please save us. She is a monster.”
“What did you just call my daughter?”
Their eyes widened at the other man’s words. They turned towards him, who was glaring at them, eyes darkening.
“D-Daughter...” the two men stuttered.
The black hair old man shook his head, “Melissa. Diana. What are they saying?”
Melissa exclaimed, “Dad! Diana is right! They are lying.” Diana innocently nodded beside her.
Mr. Robert glared at her daughter, “Diana. What happened here?”
Diana flinched. “Dad. I…I….” she stuttered.
“Diana…” he warned.
“Dad! I swear I didn’t threaten them and took their money for nothing. They came to the bakery looking like big bulls and started stuffing their mouths with the muffins we made! And then I told them that each one would cost 5 silver coins. But they got angry over nothing and started breaking Uncle Max’s those favorite and expensive plates he bought last year. I still talked nicely and told them to pay for the broken plates as well, but they didn’t listen and… and…” she ranted non-stop, glanced at her friend, and said,
“They tried to attack Melissa as well!” she now took a breath of relief and looked around. All the passersby looked at her like she had produced two horns on her head. But only her friend facepalmed.
The last line seemed to catch the attention of the two old men. Their face darkened, and they turned to the two guilty men, who took a step back simultaneously.
“What did you two try to do, huh?” Mr. Max said with gritted teeth.
“We-uh… we…. umm...” the two men trailed off.
“Dad! I am fine. We both are okay. It’s fine, seriously. Diana stopped them before they could even touch me!” Melissa said hurriedly.
Mr. Robert turned toward his daughter. Something caught his attention, and he stepped down from his horse. He paced and touched her right cheek, “What happened to your face?”
Diana looked at his father, confused, but then realization hit her. Her eyes widened, and she replied hurriedly, “N-Nothing! Nothing happened, dad!”
He caressed her cheek and said, “Did they do this?” Diana shook her head hard.
“You know… You can’t lie to your father.” Mr. Robert held the same strange calmness in his eyes Diana had before.
Diana gulped. Mr. Robert sighed and shook his head. Diana took the opportunity and nudged her friend.
Melissa took the signal. She ran towards the two men, eyeing his father to not catch his attention, who was keenly looking towards the father and daughter pair.
She whispered to the two men, “Runaway before they make you pay again.”
The two men seemed to understand their situation and decided to sneak off.
Mr. Robert turned to his horse and said, “No food for tonight. Clean the storage tomorrow and the stables the day after tomorrow.”
Diana’s mouth hung open, “B-but… Dad…”
“And for the next day, I’ll think of something.”
“But Dad, I told you everything!” Diana exclaimed, following his father.
“You say another word, and I’ll punish you for the whole week.” Mr. Robert said, nearing his horse.
“Dad! Listen to me once. Please!” Diana whined.
Diana huffed and crossed her arms over her chest, causing her friend to chuckle and Mr. Max to sigh. He looked around and raised an eyebrow.
“And where do you think you two are going off to?” Mr. Max said to the two men who were trying to sneak far away, causing them to halt in their tracks. He looked over to her daughter, who chuckled nervously.
Melissa and Diana face-palmed together.
The mustache man was still furious. Surprisingly calmly nearby person charged at Diaelissa, shouting, “Diana!”
Diana tried to register her friend’s sudden burst but froze when an arrow flew over her shoulder to the man’s hand, causing the knife to fall.
“Don’t you dare do that to my daughter!” Mr. Robert hissed, “Don’t think I forgot what you did to them!”
Diana smiled at his father.
Mr. Max said, “Hey! Go away and don’t come here ever again. Or I will rip both of myself!” The two men ran away immediately without looking behind.
Diana turned towards her dad, “Dad… about the punishment… can’t you be a little kind towards your daughter?” She said with doe eyes trying to persuade her father.
“Whole Month.” Mr. Robert returned to his horse and sat on it.
Diana huffed with annoyance.
The two straw hat men watched the scene intently with their mouths hanging open. They finally came back to their senses.
The one with chocolate brown hair smirked and said, “She needs us now.” Saying this, he walked towards an annoyed Diana and placed a hand on her shoulder.
Diana froze, including her friend, her uncle, and her father. Everyone around them, working in their shops and not caring about what was happening before, turned to stone, and their mouths opened wide.
“Your daughter is telling the truth, sir. Please don’t be so harsh on her.” He said confidently. Diana turned her head towards him and saw him weirdly. He smiled and nodded at her reassuringly.
When he turned his face to the front again, he saw a very familiar shiny pointy thing directed towards him.
“How dare you touch my daughter?” Mr. Robert hissed, pointing his sword toward the daring man.
“Put that down.” another voice said.
The other man with the straw hat had his sword pointed toward Mr. Robert. Just then, he felt something hard pressing against his neck.
“Don’t you dare?” A voice hissed.
The man’s eyes trailed off to the side, and the wooden sword under his chin. He looked up to match a pair of dark and furious-looking eyes.
The chocolate brown hair man held his hands upwards, “Okay, okay. Calm down, everyone. We didn’t mean to offend you. We just wanted to help. We are sorry.”
Hearing this, his friend lowered his sword. Mr. Robert did the same as well.
But Diana turned to the man and pointed her sword at him, “Learn some manners!” she gave an annoyed look and continued, “Don’t poke your nose in other’s business, and I don’t need help.”
She poked her sword in his chest and raised an eyebrow, “Understood?”
He gulped but nodded.
She lowered her sword and knew where this would be punished for the next one and a half months.” Mr. Robert declared.
Diana whined, “But Dad! What did I do now?”
“Diana! Shut up before I punish you for the next six months straight.” Mr. Robert said angrily, causing her to shut up.
“Let’s go, Max.” He sat on his horse and went away with his friend.
When they were far away, Diana hissed to the man, “Thanks a lot, Mr. Hero!”
She stomped her foot, making him jump on his other foot, and went inside the bakery, Melissa following behind.
The black hair straw hat man studied his friend for a while and asked, “So, What now?”
He grinned, “Well… gotta meet her again.”
As the two old men were nearing their houses, they lowered their horses’ stride.
Mr. Max spoke up, “Stop being so harsh, Robert. She is your daughter and the only family you have.”
“I know, Max. But that’s the only way to make her strong enough to protect herself… when I am not there anymore to protect her.” Mr. Robert sighed while looking up at the sky.