“Come on now.”
An old man snapped at the reins and gave the horse drawing his wagon a slight whip.
The horse gave a low cry before its feet dug into the ground and it exerted strength into its legs. The wagon creaked slightly and the back wheel became unstuck with a jerking motion. The horse pulled forward and the wagon was free.
“Good boy grey, good boy.”
The old man riding pulled out a small sweet cube of crystal sugar before tossing in his horse’s mouth. The horse expecting this snatched it out of the air with its mouth and began flapping its gums in delight.
“The old man was just about ready to lead his horse down the shabby road when a young girl’s voice called out behind him.”
“Old man is that you? Why are you playing with your horse on the side of the road?”
The old man turned and saw a homely young lady, no older than 15 or so. On top of her head she carried a large bucket of water and in both of her hands was a basket full of vegetables and freshly picked fruits.
The old man snorted.
“Hmph, Cassy, I ain’t playing with ma horse, can’t you see we were stuck in a rut. Forget me though, I see ya got your hands full. Hope on up ere and I’ll take you back into town.”
The young lady called Cassy gave the old man a doubtful look.
“I know how ya be old man, what’s it gonna cost me.”
“Haha, ya know me well young lass. Tell ya what, give me and my horse an apple each and we’ll lift ya from here to there.”
Cassy and the old man shared a laugh and she gladly threw an apple to the old man and the horse who caught the apple devoured it on the spot gleefully. The old man helped Cassy with her things before she climbed up and the three were on their way.
“Old man, you sure saved me. I didn’t think It’d take me as long as it did to get to the picking fields and back but with all that stuff it got a lot heavier than I thought it would.”
“Girly, can ya stop calling me old man. How many times I gots to tell ya, the names Tom.”
Cassy shrugged her shoulders.
“You said you were passing through months ago, I don’t tend to remember names of people simply passing through. Speaking of which, why are ya still in these parts? Don’t ya got business up north?”
“Hmm, I was planning on going up there a few weeks ago but I just learned somethings strange is going on in the west as of late. It seems monsters are flooding out of places like crazy recently.”
“Ah, really, I haven’t noticed much of anything.”
“Hehe, that’s because I said it’s been happening in the west. Seems like our king is going around doing something. They say he isn’t taking it easy and has been trying to kill as many magical beasts as possible. Not only that, but he’s also commissioned for more and more mercenaries to kill magical beast and he’s buying up all of the magical beast cores at crazy high prices. Here I am stuck in the middle of it. I can’t slay beast as I’m far too old but at the same time I can’t be missing all them opportunities now can I?”
“Are you saying if ya was young you’d be fighting and killing all the beast? You don’t look like a man who knows the sword.”
The old man whipped the reins and his horse’s pace suddenly burst into a run and Cassy fell backward and into the wagon from the quick force. The old man chuckled and Cassy climbed back up next beside him, slightly disgruntled.
“Old man, you almost knocked over my water. If ya spill it, it ain’t me going back tor refill it, it’ll be you.”
“Haha, sorry sorry. Little lass you as well should know not to poke a man’s weak point. Anyway, I wasn’t done with ma story. Since I can’t fight, due to my…age. I can only make my coin delivering good to someone who delivers them to these beast hunters. Speaking of deliveries, I was wondering why you got so much food?”
The old man looked at all of the goods the young woman had gathered and became curious as to why she had so much. He knew the young lady only had one other family member but with all the food she had, it seemed like she was feeding quite a bit more.
Cassy rolled her eyes in annoyance. The old man didn’t even apologize for sending her tumbling in the back and she knew she wouldn’t get an apology out of this old coot, which only annoyed her more. She also couldn’t sit in silence and gave in.
“A few weeks ago I found a man passed out in the dirt. I thought he might be dead at first but after getting close to him, he suddenly grabbed my arm as though his life depended on it. Looking at em closer he seemed incredibly weak and helpless, so I and pa helped him out and took him in.”
The old man stared at Cassy incredulously.
“What in the seven realms of hell! You and your pa just found some bum and took him into your home. What if this stranger is some kind of murderous killer or psychopath and you two just let him in under ya roof. What if he slit ya throats in the middle of the night and takes all your valuables or something like that.”
Cassy shook her head.
“Hmm, you let a stranger in ya home and ya think there’s no way he won’t cause ya harm. Cassy, you ain’t no dummy and ya ain’t so naive as to believe that there’s no way. You don’t know this fellow, who knows what he’s capable of.”
Cassy shook her head again.
“That’s not it. I know what kind of evils are out there but this fellow, currently, he couldn’t even harm a fly if he tried.”
This piqued the old man’s curiosity.
“Oh! And why do ya say that?”
“Well, when we found him he only said two words before passing out. He hasn’t woken up since then. We had the doctor come by and take a look. He said something was wrong with the man’s mage core. He also said the man must have exhausted himself beyond belief but with enough rest, he would eventually wake up and recover and that the man was fine for now. Now you tell me, a man that’s weak and exhausted as well as stuck in a deep sleep, how can such a man cause me harm?”
“Hmm, If that’s the case, I suppose your right. So what did the fella say before he passed out?”
“Hmm, should I tell you? You won’t believe it if I say.”
The old man raised a brow before lifting the reins up as though he were about to make his horse speed up suddenly again if she didn’t answer.
Cassy quickly waved her hands in the air in surrender.
“Ok ok, I was only messing about, no need for threats. The man’s voice was barely audible but I and pa heard it clear as a bell. That man, just before he passed out, he said “King Garn.” The man’s got to be an important person right? How else can he know our king?”
The old man went silent for a moment before bursting out in wild laughter.
“Bwahahahaha, that’s it lass? Are ya serious? The way you built it up I thought it’d be something incredible but really, that was all?”
Cassy didn’t understand and yelled at the old man.
“JUST WHY ARE YOU LAUGHING!?
This only made the old man laugh harder.
“Really, ya really don’t know?”
Cassy was now more confused than ever.
“Know what, just tell me already!”
The old man went quiet for a moment before speaking two words.
He said the two words with a serious expression but he could tell Cassy wasn’t understanding.
“Do you really not see. I mentioned the king as well just now right?”
Cassy nodded, still not getting it.
“So by your logic after I mention the king’s name, does that not mean that I also know the king. Seriously girl, I might have to take back my comment about you not being dumb and naive. Just because some stranger said the king’s name doesn’t mean that person knows the king. For all you know, that man was cursing the king before he passed out. Think about it, some bum that passes out in the middle of nowhere, can’t make his fortunes, has a donkey shit life, I’d cursed the king to at that point, wouldn’t you?”
Cassy remained silent for a while before she started gathering her things.
“What are you doing lass?”
“I’m leaving, stop the wagon.”
“Wait what, why? Just because I said that. Really girl your joking right?”
Cassy grabbed her things and asked again.
“Can you please stop now, I’d like to take my leave before it gets late.”
The old man was stunned but he could tell she was serious.
The old man pulled back on the reins and the horse came to a slow stop. Cassy placed the large bucket of water back on top of her head with near-perfect balance before grabbing the rest of her things. Before the old man could say anything else, Cassy was speed walking down the old shabby road. The old man shook his head, wondering if maybe he might have taken it too far.
An hour later, Cassy arrived at her house. Walking up to her small home, her father met her at the front gate and took the water from atop her head.
“Cassy, you’ll never believe it.”
Cassy looked at her father who was sweating profusely.
“Pa, what’s wrong, why are you covered in sweat?”
Her father looked down at his own shirt and didn’t’ even take heed of it.
“I ran to the doctor and back, my legs are killing me.”
“Eh! you ran to the doctor, what’s wrong what’s the matter with ya?”
Cassy almost dropped the things in her hands as worrying thoughts began to fill her head.
“Forget it girl I’m alright. The doctor wasn’t for me, it was for our guest, he just woke up. I quickly explained to him what was going on before I went to grab the doctor, he’s in there right now looking him over.”
Just as her father finished explaining all of that, the doctor walked out. The two almost ran up and fell over each other trying to get to the doctor.
“How is he doctor, will he be ok?”
Cassy spoke before her father and the doctor nodded.
“The man seems to be doing fine. I checked his Mage core and it’s still an odd sight and the man seems to be lacking energy but besides that, he seems ok. Now that he’s awake things should go smoother with time. Now If you’ll excuse me, I have more patients to attend to.”
Cassy’s dad reached into his pocket and fished for some coins but the doctor stopped him.
“The man inside, he doesn’t need anyone to pay, goodbye.”
The doctor then got on a carriage and left.
Both father and daughter didn’t understand the doctor’s words.
(Doesn’t need anyone to pay.)
The two looked at one another before running inside to see the man. As soon as they saw the man, Cassy rushed over and got the man a glass of water.
“Sir, are you doing better? When I and pa found you we were really worried but you seem ok.”
The man was silent and both father and daughter didn’t know what to do.
“Sir can you hear us, can you speak. I am Cassy and this is my father Brunes. Can you at least tell us your name?”
The man slowly looked up at the two and whispered.