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After the awkward moment, neither of the two said a word much to Margaret’s comfort. She had never actually seen the beastly side of the prince more prominent than when he took in her blood. There was an aura around him. It seemed like he was in his element at an extreme ease when he was consuming the dark metallic drink. Margaret thought he looked ethereal.
Margaret didn’t know weather to be scared of him or not. He could kill her right after the curse was lifted to hide what happened to him but at the same time she needed to put all her trust into him during this journey as dangers started to pile up. Margaret thought of Eliana. She wasn’t scared of him even after knowing his nature. She just wanted him to be better even if that meant sending him away on journey into the foreign lands where he could be in more danger. She wanted him to live now matter what. A sudden thought struck Margaret. The prince was just a victim. Eliana on the other-hand; Margaret was sure if she agitated Elaina, she wouldn’t let the consequences be pretty. The best course of action would be being on the prince’s good side and enjoy the journey instead of being scared. She was the one who wanted it and now she could venture into foreign lands and face creatures that seem to come straight out of the fantasy books.
“There’s a town up ahead. ” Were the words from the prince that broke the awkward silence that hung in the atmosphere. Margaret let out a small scared yelp not expecting it. That’s what he wanted to say? No sorry for earlier or it won’t happen again? There’s a town up ahead? Do those words change what had happened? Do those words explain? Do they answer? Margaret ground her teeth in frustration. Sometimes over thinking was.. She has no words but a small inaudible and troubled sigh.
“I’ll go ahead and find us accommodation.” Margaret said as they neared the village. She couldn’t exactly imagine the prince knocking at inns and asking for a place to stay. He would most likely spook people. It also helped with her aid of the sick man cover. The prince nodded and stopped next to a tree. Got off and tied his horse. The sun was out by the time they had reached the town and it must have started to affect him even though he had taken the drops by Eliana.
Margaret waited for the prince to sit and rest under the shade before she headed out towards the small town. According to her calculations, the town is two stops before the border. Two more nights without any trouble should be enough to reach the border. The city of scholars should be one day from the border. All Margaret could hope for was an uneventful ride ahead.
The roads of the forest soon opened to the dusty paths of the town. The wild plants that grew in all their glory in the jungle became less prominent sad some agricultural lands and small houses could be seen. The cultivated plants, owing to the winter, were not in bloom like the evergreen wildlife. Soon the trees and and plants were all but gone and the dusty path became a path of a town, ocassionally dusty and mostly man made.
Seeing as it was just the dawn not many people were about but Margaret was able to spot an old, tired lady with a pot in her hand going on just ahead of her. It didn’t take her much time to catch up to the slow paced woman while on her horse.
“Excuse me,” Margaret said out loud coming next to the woman wearing a long faded red and white daily wear dress. It was the kind of dress she was used to, the kind she had to wear herself while going around for work in the town after they had to shift to a less humble abode than they had lived all their life. For a second Margaret wondered how would life had been if she were not to go to the Wellington manor. Would she have to toil more? Would get family not gone back to how they were without the outside help?
“Yes?” came a sharp reply. It was obvious the woman wanted more sleep but alas it was not in her fate that light.
“Where can I find an inn around here?” Margaret asked as politely as she could. The woman’s face turned into a frown. She muttered something to herself before turning to face her.
“Only one ’round here. Down tis road past Lil’s fish stall.” Margaret thanked the lady and hurried forth.
As per the woman’s instructions, a path open ahead of Lil’s fish stall, a noticeably small stall she would have missed had it not been the only other place opened this early apart from the milk store she left behind. Turning right she was welcomed by a bright red, old and damaged, sign saying Jack’s inn. Like the rest of the building she had passed by, it was not the best works of architecture she had seen. It could only be described as a run down place converted into a living accommodation but Margaret felt that would be rude to think for the owner must cherish it.
Tying the horse to the pole near the entrance, and silently praying it would break off if her horse were to pull a little, Margaret stepped in.
To one side the inn had a seating area, it looked like a major party was held there last night. The other side had a reception counter but no one seemed to be seated there.
“Hello?” Margaret called out as she neared the reception. Still no one came to view.
“Hello?” She called out again, this time louder than before. From behind the reception she heard a little thud. A moment later a short heighted man with a thin ash coloured face and greying hair sat on the chair.
“Good Day traveler.” Wished the man yawing.
“Good Day.” Margaret wished back. ” Do you have free rooms?”
“Aye. Single room, single bed, 10 coins a night. Works?” The innkeeper inquired. Margaret did a mental calculation.
“Got two of them?” Margaret asked her mind going to the prince she had left alone to nurse his health till she came to get him.
“Today? Nay for you. Got a rowdy crowd come in past light. Not a good time for a lady to stay alone if I say so myself.” Margaret frowned for a minute. Trouble was not what she was looking for. Not after last night. On the other hand sharing a room with the lord was not on her list of things to do on the journey.
“Will take two of those rooms. Got a place for the horses?” Margaret asked wondering if she would have to find a stable anywhere else. Turned out her worries were genuine.
“Here? See anywhere lass? Old Brook’s got one next lane. Three coins a night me thinks.”
With that the room was booked and Margaret went to get the prince.