Chapter 9:

Minty Misfortune

Fighting For My Freedom In Another World

I opened my eyes. Bookmark here

I didn’t remember closing them… I must have ended up falling asleep at some point. Bookmark here

Something… Something felt different from before I fell asleep. Right… the princess was no longer in my lap.Bookmark here

She… she must probably have woken up at some point and moved back to her side of the carriage. The other side… I looked up, still half-asleep, but Alena wasn’t there either. Bookmark here

The carriage… I hadn’t realised until now, but it wasn’t moving anymore. Were we taking a break somewhere? I hadn’t been told we would, but there were plenty of natural reasons for why one could have been necessary. Bookmark here

I was going to stand up and stretch a bit, when I looked outside. Bookmark here

Just in time to see the princess being held up in midair by an armored man by one hand, a sword pointed at her throat and her hat flattened on the ground between the two of them.Bookmark here

I don’t know what would have happened if events had just proceeded along the same course they seemed to have been heading. But the man with the sword also had a companion with him: a young man, this one also with a sword almost identical to that the other man had, but at least he was without any sort of visible armour, instead donning a simple leather tunic and trousers. Bookmark here

And this second man spotted me and called out to his armoured friend. Bookmark here

“The… the princess seems to be awake! You can get rid of that other girl.”
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“Finally!”, the armoured man responded, “but this girl…”Bookmark here

The man shook Alena to indicate who he was talking about. Her lips were sealed tight and she stared at the man with a gaze that very well could have indicated murderous intent if she actually had been able to do much of anything.

“...I think it’d be better to wait with disposing of her. She’ll make a good hostage in case the princess doesn’t want to cooperate. Let’s check on our little princess for now.”Bookmark here

Princess? …Right, the illusion from before must still have been in effect. The man roughly threw the princess aside on the ground beside him and turned towards me instead. Bookmark here

“So, little princess. I’m not sure what possessed you to come out here with nary a bodyguard in sight, but that will only make our work all the easier. We’ve got this nice little well-paid job, you see, and it just so happens that part of it involves killing you. Normally we, lowly henchmen that we are, wouldn’t bother with killing anyone nearly as high up as a princess, but this one came with some special guarantees, so…”Bookmark here

The man shrugged nonchalantly as if to indicate those “special guarantees” meant there wasn’t anything he could do about it.Bookmark here

“... so considering how we’d basically be set for life and we don’t have to risk punishment even if we’re caught, along with how you were enough of an idiot not to bring any protection… Why don’t you come out here peacefully so we can kill you?
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“Any reason you believe I’m planning on cooperating that easily after you just clearly said you’re planning on killing me? I can muster up some pretty solid resistance all on my own, you know.”Bookmark here

Of course I couldn’t actually, not yet, but hopefully they didn’t know that. The princess could actually use magic, too, even if I wasn’t here and she had used it up for a pointless prank already.Bookmark here

“Well… what about this other girl here?”Bookmark here

Most normal people would probably have pointed, but the man put his foot on the princess’s chest instead. Perhaps it was a bandit thing. Bookmark here

“She must be pretty precious to you, considering we found her sleeping in your lap and all.”
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“I…”Bookmark here

On one hand he was pretty mistaken in that I only actually had known Alena for a single day, but on the other hand that didn’t mean I could let her get killed because of me. I did wonder one thing, though: if I refused to cooperate, and he killed the princess, how was he planning on trying to make me do what he wanted after his hostage was dead, and in other words entirely useless to him?Bookmark here

Of course, that train of reasoning hinged on me being able to put up any actual resistance. As it was good old physical force would be the only thing we could resort to, and these men certainly looked like they could provide a few wallops more of it than the tag-team of me and the princess could hope to. Bookmark here

“Alright, I…”, I took a deep breath, “I’ll do what you want me to.”Bookmark here

One of the two men stepped up inside the carriage wagon and signalled for me to stand up. I obliged, and soon I was led out of the carriage with a sword pointed at my back. Apparently they didn’t want to kill me in the actual carriage itself… Nice of them not to get it dirty, I suppose. Bookmark here

I decided to take the risk of a quick glance backwards once I was a few steps outside. Since the carriage had stopped, and since I hadn’t heard any kind of sound coming from that direction aside from the horses being upset, I already had some idea what may have happened.Bookmark here

But I still felt like I needed to find out for sure. Bookmark here

And a single look was all it took to make it clear my suspicions had been completely on the mark. Bookmark here

I had wanted to know what had happened to the man that had been steering the carriage onwards, to the driver. Bookmark here

The result?Bookmark here

Let’s just say the driver was… very out of commission, and would most likely not be driving anyone anywhere ever again. I believe there should be no need to go in further detail. It suffices to say it was beyond obvious he had already breathed his last breath.Bookmark here

Maybe I would have felt sad for him, if I had known anything at all about who he was. Bookmark here

But as unnecessary as it was, his death hadn’t been my fault, and I was more focused on the danger I found myself in. I pushed any thoughts of the dead carriage driver aside, and thought about what I could do. Bookmark here

The two men made me kneel in front of them, with them standing between me and the princess, who still was lying on the ground where one of the men had thrown her aside.Bookmark here

Was she alright? She didn’t seem to be moving. Had the blow from hitting the ground knocked her unconscious?Bookmark here

I didn’t have time to check. I could help her later if I could save myself first — the unarmoured man was holding his sword above my back, and raised it in preparation to strike. Was there anything I could do to save my own life? Bookmark here

I could think of one thing. Bookmark here

That weird fire-y magic thing had happened when I was about to be killed. I still barely even knew what had happened, but it had somehow saved me back then. I closed my eyes, and hoped the same thing would happen this time too. Bookmark here

It didn’t. Bookmark here

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