~ Chapter 107: How they looked at us (Part 2) ~
After we left the noble area, we went towards the craftsman area. There, we saw the most skilled artisans and blacksmiths this town could offer. As one would expect, the moment they spotted our group, they were all eyes on us, or more specifically on our weapons and armor. At the very least, they acted like true professionals and didn't stop their hands from moving while they were still working on their important projects. Only if they could find a second to spare would they rush over to ask us where we acquired our armors and swords... well, they did. I was wearing some very common gear at first glance.
The thing was that all of this attention could also be considered a double edge sword. First of all, the people around us weren't so eager to think of us as poor or weak anymore, but on the other hand, they would spread a bunch of rumors about us. Depending on whose ears were listening, this could spell trouble for us later.
By trouble, however, I was thinking more along the line of lengthy bureaucracy or annoying bandits who would try to steal our stuff. The latter were like cockroaches, just when you thought you got rid of the last of them, a bunch more popped out of nowhere.
There was nothing interesting to see in the craftsman area or the noble area, although the humans in our group appeared to be rather curious and amazed by some of the items they saw on display. When I asked them why junk like that caught their attention, Ildea had this to say with a perfectly polite smile on her lips:
“I remember a strange individual suddenly giving all of us armors and weapons that each in their own right might as well be considered a National Treasure by the Ten Swords Kingdom, but apparently they weren't that important to him. But that must have been my imagination, right? After all, if such a genius of a craftsman truly existed, then no matter how much our humble blacksmiths struggled, they could never hope to catch up to his level. So yes, it must be my imagination that such an incredible craftsman would be envious that his companions are admiring the work of these other humble craftsmen.”
There was nothing I could say as a comeback.
From the craftsman area we headed back to the inn, but we took the more scenic route and passed by the small castle belonging to the noble who ruled over this town. I didn't catch his name, but I didn't bother myself to find out either. Ildea seemed to be talking something with Coshun and Risha was playing with Tamara, the only one who was staring at the high walls that separated this estate from the rest of the town was Kalderan.
“Something on your mind?” I asked him.
“Not exactly.” he replied and shook his head.
I looked up at the walls and then back at him “This world, it's very different from ours, isn't it?”
“Different?” he scoffed “I would say it's like an entire different Universe. Six years ago, my only political worry was whether or not the USA was going to declare war on us or the other way around. But now...” he looked up at the wall “Now I have to worry not only about what country might decide over night to attack this one but also who might be a noble or not because offending them is akin to a death sentence... And I'm not even going to start about monster hordes and all that stuff!”
“Hm, yeah... that's true. A few months after we arrived here, I ended up getting in a duel with one of the leading knights in the Albeyater Kingdom, that Doesya guy.” I told him.
“The one you said you fought against in the war?” he asked raising an eyebrow.
“Yes, that one. He was at that time the fiance of my wife. I allowed myself to fall in his political trap because of my lack of knowledge in the matter and nearly got myself killed. It was only thanks to my friends that I was spared, but I ended up losing something far more than my life back then...” I told him and then looked at him in the eyes “The dragoness I fell in love with, Seryanna Draketerus...” I looked down at my hand and grasped it in a fist “I went through what I perceived as a living Hell back then until I finally had the guts to step up and fix my mistake.”
“How did you get her back?” he asked me.
“I had friends... and a bit of luck.” I showed him a wry smile.
Kalderan closed his eyes for a moment, he was thinking about something, then he opened them and looked up at the wall “Friends, huh? Maybe if I had friends like you back then, she would still be alive...”
Our little chat ended here and we continued to move down the street. The closer we got to the commoner areas, the more adventurers and ruffians we saw. While there were a few who were glaring at us, no one had the courage to try anything.
It was a bit of a change though. When in the noble areas we were tossed gazes of curiosity and maybe admiration, in the commoner areas we were one step closer to being their enemies.
“They think we are a bunch of stuck up rich nobles who are coming here just to brag about our wealth and lineage.” Kalderan told us.
“Ridiculous.” scoffed Coshun.
The only ones who didn't seem to be bothered by us were the adventurers. They mostly travelled in groups of at least three and could be identified either by the mismatch of their weapons and armors or the fact that they gave off a completely different feel from the people in this place. Locals usually felt as though they were a heavy stone bound to this land with invisible chains, while foreigners were like a passing breeze.
At one point, I noticed that something was happening a bit ahead of us, which garnered the attention of the passer byes. There was a child of around ten years old with black hair and black eyes that strongly reminded me of a Japanese person. He wore rags that had been patched up together by an unskilled hand. With tears streaming down his cheeks and snot running down his nose, he was on his knees, begging the man before him.
Instead of moving away, I moved closer to the scene. There were other passer byes who stopped to stare, casting gazes of disdain at the poor child.
“P-Please! I beg of you! P-Please heal m-my little s-sister! S-She be s-sick and feverish! S-She needs d-doctor! Please! I b-beg of you! P-Please!” the boy cried with a poor broken accent of the local language.
“Brat, I told you that I won't go to the slums with you! Do you think someone like me will go and do a checkup on someone who lives in that pigsty?!” the man scorned and spat on him.
“P-Please! I have money!” the boy said and pulled out a bunch of copper coins from his pocket.
“Filth! I don't need your stolen money! Go bother someone else or just use those coins to pay the priest for a decent burial!” the doctor slapped the money out of the boy's hands.
“Ah! No!” he cried out as he saw the coins scattering on the ground all the way to my feet.
I looked down and grabbed a coin. When I looked at it, I saw that it had been recently washed with water.
“A thief wouldn't have cared so much for a stolen coin...” I said in a low voice that probably only Tamara heard.
Looking to my left, I saw a ruffian reaching down to grab one of the coins, but I tossed him a glare to stop him.
“Touch it, and I'll cut off your hand.” I warned him.
Coshun noticed my intention and moved towards the man. Seeing the prestigious armor and the pressure the dragon gave off, the ruffian backed away with a yelp and then quickly made himself scarce.
I picked up the coins around me and then walked up to the crying boy who was trying to gather the rest of them. There was no one here who so much would have wanted to try to help the boy, and I, for one, couldn't help but feel as though there was some sort of discrimination happening here. Maybe it was because he was poor or maybe it was because of his origins?
For me, such things didn't matter. With a gentle smile on my lips, I knelt on one knee in front of the boy and gave him the few coins that were scattered all the way to my feet.
“These must be yours.” I told him.
The boy lifted up his head to look at me. There were so many tears in his eyes that they were clouding his vision.
“T-Thank you... m-mister.” he said as he took the coins.
He wiped off his tears, but when he looked at them, he began to cry even harder.
“W-What am I g-going to d-do?” he sniffled “S-Sister is s-sick...” he hiccuped “S-She...” he hiccuped again “S-She c-can't s-survive l-like this.” he stuttered almost at every word because the tears and snot were in the way.
I looked back at my companions, they were all looking at him with eyes of pity.
“He's probably from Akutan. The people here aren't that warm towards them or those who live in the slums.” Kalderan explained.
“Everyone immediately assumes you are of poor birth or even that you may hold some sort of disease if you live there. This is something I experienced myself before I was rescued by you, Alkelios.” Ildea said.
“Sigh... well, you guys know that I can't leave this be now. He's just a kid.” I told them.
“There are countless more like him out there, Alkelios. Having pity towards one and ignoring the others is a bit hypocritical, don't you think?” Kalderan asked.
“No.” I shook my head. “I help those who cross my path and I know it won't interfere with my current quest. If I were to be so magnanimous as to stop and help everyone around me, after everything I saw in this kingdom, I would probably never end up seeing Seryanna again.” I replied and then thought as I looked at the kid Besides, the God-like told me to take my time while I travel through Ten Swords, and I know for sure that she received the pings from my [Dragon Tamer] skill. If it wasn't for this small piece of reassurance, I wouldn't have wasted a single second and flown all the way to Albeyater at full speed, ignoring everything and everyone on my path. Taking the slow route is painful enough as it is, but might as well enjoy it and try to do as much good as I can while at it.
“Kalderan, it's not like he's trying to become a saint or anything like that. Besides, it's not like there's anything else interesting to see in this town.” Risha told him.
“I agree.” Coshun nodded.
“W-What are you t-talking about m-misters?” asked the boy as he looked up at us.
“M-Misters?” Ildea and Risha said at the same time with a low voice as though they were struck by a bomb.
“We're talking about going with you to see how your sister is doing. We might be able to help.” I told him.
“What? W-Will you really do that? Are you a doctor?” he asked and got up on his feet immediately. “Ah!” one of the coins fell from his hand, and I caught it.
“Not exactly, but I do have some extra potions and I may know a spell or two.” I told him as I placed the coin back in his hand.
The boy looked at it with big eyes and then back at me. He was probably still confused about what was happening, so I didn't rush him.
“Alright, I'll take you to see sister.” he told us with firm nod.
“Great. Well, my name is Alkelios, the big guy is Coshun, the grumpy one is Kalderan, the two women who look like shattered glass are Ildea and Risha, and that's... erm... Guys? Where's Tamara?” I asked when I didn't saw the fur ball anywhere.
“Huh?” Risha snapped out of it and looked back.
Our eyes darted left and right until we spotted her at the far end of the street munching on some smoked fish in front of a food stall.
“Of course.” we all said at the same time.
“Sigh... I'll go get her... I hope I have enough coins, though.” said Kalderan as he walked up to her while checking his wallet.
Meanwhile, the boy got up and wiped off his snot and tears with the sleeve of his shirt. The money he had were all tucked away in a small pouch and tied up to the rope he used as a belt.
“My name... My name is Amadeus.” he told us.
“Nice to meet you, Amadeus.” said Ildea with a soft smile.
Amadeus? Where have I heard that name before? I wondered.
Note from the author: Thank you for reading this chapter, I hope you enjoyed it! Oh, and be sure to check out my other stories too!
This is the first chapter after my break! 😀
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