Chapter Two - Pedestrian
As I arrived in the outskirts of town, my appearance quickly changed itself from an immortal to an ordinary traveler. My shoulder-length hair is now tied up, my elegant robes turned to a mere monk’s robes. My sword stayed as it is but its sheath changed from a majestic gold appearance to an ordinary wooden one.
Entering the gates of the small village, I headed straight for the marketplace where a messy atmosphere greeted me. Buyers and vendors trying to settle on a deal on different goods. All sorts of trading conversations in each store and random people looking into different stalls, hoping they could buy something that they like.
As dangerous as it can be, I decided to make Lady go through the crowd with caution and try to keep her calm at the same time. One thing about Lady is she’s somewhat claustrophobic. And when she’s pushed to her limits, she has this tendency to panic and act like a wild animal.
As much as possible, this is something I want to avoid along with attracting attention from the people here. I don’t want to give them any idea that I’m not from here or that I have riches to splurge.
“Hello, good sir,” a merchant suddenly approached me. “You look like you have some money to spare. Would you like to try some of my delicious tea? It’s directly made from the leaves of the Mountain of Falls.”
“No, thank you. I’m just here to look around,” I politely declined.
A few more steps forward when another merchant walked up to me. “Young man, would you like some rare and antique jewelry? It will surely get the attention of a young lady,” she bribed as she gave me a sly smile.
“No, thank you,” I refused with a smile, proceeding with my stroll.
“Oh, hello, stranger! Might I interest you with some home-made wine?” a merchant stopped in front of Lady, causing her to whiny out of shock.
“Thank you but drinking isn’t something that I do,” I replied as I carried a smile.
“Well, perhaps you have a few coins to spare,” he asked politely as he walked to my left side. “I haven’t had any sales yet for today and I haven’t eaten all day.”
By the look of this merchant, I could see that he’s sincere with what he’s saying so I carefully pulled out a small pouch of coins from my saddle bag. Without warning, he exclaimed, “Your pouch! It has a sign of the immortals from the Mountain of Fog!”
I quickly looked and there, I found the symbol of my father’s kingdom. I tried to keep the feeling of panic in check as I knew this could start a crowd. I have to keep this man quiet.
“Are you an immortal?” he asked recklessly, not minding that people are starting to look in our direction.
“Elder, I am not an immortal,” I started as I tried to create a credible excuse inside my mind. “This pouch… is a small gift from the gods. I followed one of their missions for me and this is their reward.”
“Is that so? Well, that should mean that you have a lot of gold with you,” he replied with an almost cunning grin on his face. “Might I have some of them?”
As he made that request, I could sense that he’s now trying to get more from me. I can’t let him take advantage of me but I also need to prevent him from telling everyone of what I have. Receiving a gift from us immortals is absolutely rare and such a big deal. Once a mortal receives a gift from us, others would take advantage of that.
This is the reason why we prevent from rewarding mortals because whether they tell others or not, it would always end in bloodshed. We strived to keep the mortals alive and safe from our enemies and for them to kill each other over gold isn’t something that we want.
I pulled out seven pieces of gold from my pouch and handed it over to him with a smile. Although, in my mind, I only wanted to give him three but then again, I have to keep him silent.
As he received the gold coins, he began counting. “Young man,” he chuckled as he looked up to me. “Seven pieces of gold isn’t enough to feed me for the whole month. You do know that, right?”
“Good sir, you only asked for something to help you eat for today. What I have given you is more than enough. I’m sure you’ll have a deal within the day,” I explained as I tied the pouch to my belt. “I need what I have left for my journey back to my village. I hope you understand.”
He looked at me for a long time and I’m praying that he would just accept the gold and walk away. “I understand.” He then stepped away from Lady and I. “Please, be on your way.”
“Thank you,” I nodded. I then gave Lady a gentle kick on her side and she continued walking.
I wasn’t that far from the merchant when all of a sudden, “Look! That man received a pouch of gold from the immortals and he doesn’t want to share!”
People started to look at me with wide-eyed stares, their voice started to get louder as some started to approach me. I carefully turned around but every path was blocked by the crowd.
“Sir, please lend me a hand! I need to feed my children!”
“Help us fix our homes!”
“Give us something! Don’t be selfish!”
They continued to shout their please to me as they pressed closer. I could sense Lady’s breath change as she began to panic.
“Please, everyone, move away!” I shouted while I try to calm Lady down.
“He’s trying to get away!” someone shouted from the crowd. “Don’t let him escape!”
“Please, move away! My horse is about to panic, you might get hurt!” I warned.
“He’s threatening us!”
Lady was about to explode from the crowd when a loud boom was heard from behind the crowd. Everyone bowed down to their knees, taking cover. I hid behind Lady’s head as I moved her away from where the sound was coming from. As I looked up, it was my father’s guards. They weren’t concealing their images. They showed up as royal guards, sitting on their majestic horses. They then took a few steps forward.
“Move away from the prince of the Western Wind!” the head of the guards shouted. “Anyone who dares to cause him any harm shall face a great deal of punishment from the gods!”
The people started to move away from me, crawling away out of fear from the guards.
“And you, Your Highness,” the head of the guards looked at me. “You should know that you’re not allowed to come here on your own. Master Gonzalo has sent us to accompany you.”
Well, that’s just fantastic! Gonzalo just can’t keep his word. I will need to talk with him later about this matter when I return.
“Good sir, I don’t need your company. I would like to continue on this stroll on my own, if you don’t mind,” I answered as I sat up properly.
“Master Gonzalo said that if you disagree, you are to return to the castle with us,” he said. “That is not a request.”
It seems like he has reduced to threatening me. I don’t want them to be around me and I also don’t want to return just yet. This is the only time I get to do something on my own for the longest time and they just had to ruin my chance.
“We can either do this the easy way or the hard way, Your Highness,” he added. “It’s your decision on how this conversation will go.”
I began to move Lady backwards. I need as much room as I can so I could escape the guards. My father doesn’t just choose guards for his kingdom. He chooses the best in everything, especially riders. And these guards are no exception.
“Come, Lady, it’s time to get out of here,” I whispered into her ear, making it twitch.
The guards and I stared at each other for quite a long time, waiting for the first one to move. I took a deep breath and yelled as I gave Lady a kick on the side, “YAH!”
And so the wild goose chase has begun.
From the alleys to the busy streets, the chase - between the guards and I - continued on for a few minutes. When I thought I lost them, I would turn to look and they’re always not too far behind. But after a few more turns, they were finally gone from my sight.
“Good job, Lady!” I praised my champion.
As I turned right, someone was about to cross the street. “Whoa!” I shouted, causing Lady to stand.
“AAHH!” a scream was heard from the peasant, falling down at the sight of Lady. As she fell down, all of the fruit from her basket scattered on the road.
“Easy, Lady!” I shouted as I tried to calm Lady down. “Easy, girl!”
“Ugh…” the pedestrian, a woman, groaned as she tried to stand up.
As Lady calmed down, I hopped down to help the woman. “Madam, are you okay?” I asked as I ran to her. I helped her stand with all the care I can give, hoping what happened didn’t cause her any bruises or worse, injuries.
“Oh, um…” she tried to form a sentence as she looked around in a panic. “Yes, sir. However, my fruits are everywhere,” she started to recollect the fruits that we scattered. “I’m very sorry, sir, I wasn’t looking.”
“It is all my fault, madam. I shouldn’t be having my horse run through such a narrow road,” I said as I helped her retrieve her fruits. Then I noticed she almost left an apple. “Oh, you left an apple,” I started to reach for the apple.
“Oh, please, let me,” she started to reach for it as well.Before we knew it, our hands touched, hers laid on top of mine. Her gentle touch caused somewhat of a spark for me. This caused us to look at each other and before I could say anything, I got lost in her beautiful, emerald eyes.