The Flight of The Draykes
We kept exploring for the rest of the day.
Leaving the main boulevard behind and the fancy carriages, we dived into the narrower streets of the residential quarters.
Twisting and turning within them and occasionally catching sight of a house that stood out amongst the many identical houses made of grey stone, We kept going until we reached the top where the farms and water reservoirs were.
Why farms and water reservoirs? Why because Draconis City is a frontier city and we need to have a way to ensure that supplies can be obtained even if we’re cut off.
Also, because the land is incredibly fertile which is strange given how close we are to the outer sea but then the 10,000 peaks do block us off entirely from the sea, so I suppose it’s not that strange.
Again barefoot, we dangled our feet over a pond where fishes played and talked quietly.
Other times we just stared at the vast lands stretching between where we were and the palace and thought of many things.
I thought of the past and a face popped up in my mind.
Red hair, hulking, brute - who else could it be but Harold?
In fact, I could even hear his voice but the only thing was - “I’m not Paul,” I thought - Offended.
Offended because my mind’s Harold had even forgotten whose mind he was occupying!
But then suddenly, I noticed Sia standing up like a cat and wearing her shoes lightning fast.
Turning, I noticed where she was looking and stood slack-jawed.
This was too much of a coincidence, wasn't it?
I thought of him and the balakash appeared.
It also looks like he has a new victim!
Squinting, I made out black hair and a thin build similar to mine and a strong voice that dripped with venom as he attempted to fight back against the more muscular Harold and his ever-present cronies.
He wasn’t doing a bad job, I noted, Critically.
Wincing, I whistled at his right hook that would’ve taken Harold’s head off had the boy been a stone or two heavier.
But then he seemed to run out of steam and began to take hits.
If i had seen this in the past, I would have run and called someone to help.
“OY YOU BIG RED-HAIRED BALAKASH!” I yelled, with abandon.
Stunned, Harold slowly turned around and as soon as he saw me, his face - which was already flushed - turned crimson and bellowing like a bull, he charged towards me.
But I saw something.
I saw the fear that flashed across his face for a brief moment.
That was enough.
Exhilarated, I let out a shout myself and charged at Harold - only to go flying as he bulldozed over me.
But springing back up to my feet, I examined myself while Harold paused in shock.
Shock because I was completely unhurt.
Previously, I would be sorry looking and slightly hurt when he roughed me up but I was used to it and indifferent.
Now, I have been roughed up brutally by the devil himself every single day, and compared to that, Harold is like a fly that was buzzing around.
So I cracked my knuckles and advanced towards Harold with a smile on my face.
A smile that seemed dangerous to Harold.
Bolstering his courage, he stepped on the ground heavily and bolted towards me, only for me to disappear in a blur as I sidestepped and drove my fist heavily into his ribs.
Gasping heavily and tilting off balance, he tried grabbing me.
Allowing myself to be grabbed, I stepped inside Harold’s bear hug and at a distance of no more than half a foot, unleashed one blow after the other on him.
Reeling, he fell back but I followed.
Only to stop open-mouthed as the big brute held up his hands and cried out,
“Enough, I’m sorry!” and then looking at me viciously and yet with a scared expression simultaneously, he ran away with his group of thugs like a beaten dog.
Scratching my head, I looked around at Sia in bewilderment, Sia who was frowning heavily.
“You feel it too?”
“He ran away too easily,” she said.
Turning, I looked at the young boy who was approaching us carefully.
Stopping at a distance to us, he said, “Thank you for helping me out. That big lunkard has been beating me up for the past few months ever since he saw me, saying that he dislikes my face. Ptooey,” The boy spat out.
Nodding, I sympathized with him. It did sound like Harold and a few months sounds like about the time when I last greeted him with my knee.
“My name is Paul, what about you?” The boy, Paul, said as he stuck out his hand.
Grabbing it, I smiled and answered, “Faustus. Just Faustus. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Glancing at Sia, I continued, “This is Alessia.”
Nodding her head to Paul, Alessia turned away to give us some space and we began talking.
I found out that Paul lived nearby, in the last few houses of the residential district. Harold had seen him and followed him here where he would beat him up every few days where there were no witnesses to see.
Wincing, I whistled at the many bruises that discolored Paul’s body.
“I have work to do, so I’ll see you later Faustus and Alessia. Thank you once again for your help, but next time, I’ll handle it myself,” Paul said firmly before once again nodding at us, and then he left.
Putting on my boots, for I had forgotten all about them at the start of the fight, I grabbed Sia’s hand and sauntered back towards the heart of the city.
Once we were a distance away from the place where the fight took place, I lifted my eyebrow at Sia who shook her head.
Nodding, I continued on our path to the bookstore that I used to frequent.
Buying a few books for myself and Sia, We left the store once the sky turned dark.
Holding up the money pouch which had slimmed down a bit, I looked at it with regret before saying to Sia, “Much as I’d like to use up all of this, I don’t think my organs would be enough to repay that devil if he wants his money back, so let’s return?”
Hesitating, Sia was about to nod before she said in a rush, “There’s a festival going on, would you like to go there?”
Without hesitation, I nodded and another smile graced her face.
I will never get tired of seeing her smile, I thought to myself.
Hand in hand, we went to the festival grounds where people milled around in festive clothes of bright red.
It was the local tradition of Draconis. The land here was tinted red and when crushed, the powder could be mixed with water to create a powerful dye.
It was usually only used for festivals because the dye was too strong to be washed along with other clothes.
As such, the scene was magnificent. Red tiled streets, red lanterns in the air, red clothes everywhere, amidst the grey buildings that looked like benign old men watching over the festivities.
Laughing, I headed towards a games stall where a small girl was talking non-stop trying to convince people to take the ball and knock down the targets for prizes.
Paying 10 coppers for a chance, I grabbed the ball tight and threw it at the smallest target which I had already identified.
Only to watch stupefied as the girl yanked on a thread that moved the target away from the ball.
Dubiously, I looked at the tiny girl and wondered if she was in any way related to the teacher.
Forking over another 10 coppers, this time I used my full power - only to miss again as the girl pulled all the threads connecting her to the targets at once.
Innocently she looked at me, blinking her large eyes.
Gritting my teeth, I paid 30 coppers for three balls and then threw them one after the other. Just when the girl moved the targets and couldn’t move them again, I managed to hit the one I was aiming for.
Looking at me with an aggrieved expression, the girl handed me the doll that was the prize with eyes that were swimming with tears.
Looking around furtively, I quickly pressed one silver coin into her hand which the tiny girl palmed expertly before smiling cheerily at me, all traces of tears gone.
“Big brother is not a bad person! You must thank big brother, sister!” She said while looking at Sia who was laughing away at the antics.
Rubbing the girl's head, Sia replied, “Hm, He is not a bad person at all. Sister knows that!”
Rubbing my nose, I handed the princess doll to Sia who held it delightedly.
We kept walking through the festival and I made many food stalls shut early for the night, leaving astonished people in my wake as I made sure that I sampled everything there.
By sampled, I of course mean inhaling all of the food available.
Finally, it was dinner time and my stomach was rumbling at which Sia gently smiled, used as she is to my appetite, and suggested that we return to the castle.
Sedately walking, I bade her goodbye at the door to her room and she left, the princess doll still clutched tightly in her hands.
She hadn’t let go of it even once the entire time.