Fighting For My Freedom In Another World
We had hoped for a proper town, somewhere with an inn or some similar place to stay.
What we encountered instead was nothing more than a collection of tents in various sizes. The only reason we were able to make it out at all in the dark was because of a group of people standing around holding torches near the edge of the establishment, and a smaller light further off in the distance that I couldn’t quite make out the source of from where we were standing.
The group must have seen us approaching, and four of them came up to greet us. I was just barely able to make out some muffled conversation while they were on the way over.
“Sure you shouldn’t just be leaving this to someone else, Elias? If we take too long they could just find the whole place empty before we get there and leave without us being able to do a thing about it, you know.”
“There is always time for making new friends, Kalev. A delay is well worth whatever it may cost us if it lets us add additional members to our cause.”
“Well, you’re the one who’s paying for it, so I guess I can’t really say anything. But do remember that we aren’t doing this for free. The longer you keep us around, the more you pay.”
That was about what I managed to hear before they had come up to us, the man who by the sound of it was called “Elias” in front of the small group of four. He was the spitting image of a stereotypical “pretty boy”, with blonde hair and blue eyes, accompanied by a tall and lanky frame. I would have guessed he was probably in his early twenties.
He was wearing what looked like a comparatively expensive suit, in contrast to his companions who all were dressed in a simple black, unremarkable fashion that would have made them hard to see in the dark if it wasn’t for the torches some of them were carrying. By the looks of it he had one man and two women among his three companions, all three of them wearing the exact same type of clothing.
“I must apologise, but it appears you have caught us at a bad time. We were soon about to head out on some rather urgent business. By the looks of it you seem to have been hit by some sort of misfortune… I take it you would like to seek my aid?”
“Frankly speaking, I have no idea who you are”, Alena said, “and we were just looking for a place to stay the night after we got attacked by bandits earlier and the carriage we were taking was wrecked.”
“Ah… but that is then all the better. How fortunate, for me to be able to give aid not to those who have heard the rumours and come asking for the impossible, but to those who truly need it…”
The young man looked weirdly delighted at this twist.
“...You are welcome here. I am afraid we must take our leave, but I take it you see the light in the camp. You can talk with the man sitting by it and he will get you settled. With that, I bid you farewell.”
All four of them turned around at once, as if on cue, and returned to the larger group of people standing further away.
“What was that about?”, I asked the princess.
“I’m afraid I have absolutely no idea, but… Well, I guess it seemed like he didn’t mind us staying here for the night? We’d probably be safer in a large group of people than just sleeping somewhere random by ourselves, so why don’t we go check it out? At least I don’t have any better ideas”, she shrugged.
I nodded and followed Alena inside the camp. It was impressive in terms of sheer size, but now that we were closer there was a kind of shoddy atmosphere over the whole thing. Most of the tents didn’t look like they were of especially high quality, and there was a weirdly large amount of random dirt and junk strewn about on the ground.
We made our way over to the middle of the whole thing, where a single old man, probably at least in his sixties at a minimum, was sitting on the ground on his lonesome, a bowl of soup in his lap. He looked up at us when we approached.
“Greetings, travellers. Name’s Felix. I saw you speaking with good old Elias, which means I have a pretty good idea of what I can do for you. Why don’t you have a seat?”
The man just gestured towards the ground in front of him, so after a quick look at each other me and the princess just sat down right there. For some reason the princess sat down in my lap instead of beside me.
“So, I take it you need a place to stay?”
“We just need a place for the night, to—”
“No need to tell me all the details. You are welcome for as long or short a time as you wish to stay, whoever you may be, without questions. Do you see the large tent in the back? You may sleep in there. If you wish to, you could go there straight away, but if you have a moment to spare… Want to hear my story? I can’t promise it will be worth your while, but I would still like to believe there is a certain value in knowing it. There are some… special circumstances to how I ended up here.”
“We would be happy to”, Alena said, “but what is ‘here’? Can’t say I’ve heard of this place before.”
The princess gave voice to the same question I had wanted to ask myself.
“This is, simply put, a gathering of people who have fallen upon bad times. Who have suffered some sort of misfortune or other. I am no different, nor is anyone else here. Except for Elias, I suppose. His support is what makes all of this, meager as it may be, possible. All I know about him is that he’s some rich guy who has influence in the capital, that he feels the same way as us, and that he wants to help. I don’t feel like I need to know any more than that.”
“Thank you. That makes things… a bit clearer. With that answered, we’d be happy to listen to what you wanted to tell us. I may not look like it, but I take pride in being a really good listener.”
The princess puffed up her chest in pride, a wide smile on her face when she said it. The man just looked amused and ignored her to instead start his tale.
“I am happy there are still young people willing to listen to the ramblings of an unlucky old man. To start off the story, first you will need some background knowledge. I am not from this world. I died an untimely death and was transported here from elsewhere. For most people, that would probably be a good thing. I mean, a second chance of life? If you put it like that, I bet there’s not a soul in any world who would say no. But for me… it was not what I hoped it would be.”
Thus, the man began telling us his story.