Chapter 15:

Ambush

Fighting For My Freedom In Another World


Me and the princess did stand outside and talk for a while longer. Bookmark here

We went over to the very edge of the camp, where nobody else seemed to be around. That much went entirely without issues, and was certainly an enjoyable break. Being able to just stand around and idle, without any immediate worries about what we were going to do next. Bookmark here

The problem was just everything after that. Bookmark here

Question: What happens if you go to a place where about half the people in the vicinity hate royalty, and take the princess with you?Bookmark here

The answer? You’d better pray they don’t find out. Bookmark here

These people did. I had no idea how, but they did. Bookmark here

The moment it became clear something was wrong was when I heard footsteps approaching. Not just a single set of them, but dozens, from every direction. Bookmark here

And voices. Voices, talking about finding “the princess”. About what they wanted to do to her as revenge for what had happened, how they wanted to mistreat her as punishment for the mistreatment they had suffered themselves, about maybe taking her hostage in an attempt to make her father give in to all sorts of implausible demands. Bookmark here

Me and Alena just looked at each other, neither of us speaking. What were you supposed to say in a situation like this? Make a plan? A plan for what? What were we supposed to do, exactly? Bookmark here

Run away?Bookmark here

Normally, perhaps the wisest decision would have been to run. Unfortunately there were people approaching us from the back and the sides too, leaving precious little space anyone could actually use to try to get away. Bookmark here

It was hard to make out specifics in the dark, but I could still tell that we were surrounded by… A rather sizeable number of people. Dwarfed by the total number of people the camp would have been able to fit, at least based on a quick mental estimate, but nonetheless far too many for me and the princess to have any hopes of beating them in a fair fight. Bookmark here

That, of course, wouldn’t stop us from trying. Bookmark here

But there was something else that should always come before fighting. Something that often worked in fiction, but in reality was… somewhat less reliable in a situation like this.Bookmark here

That being the grand and most noble of actions known as “talking your way out of the problem”. Bookmark here

And we did try, enough that no one would ever blame us for a lack of effort. Bookmark here

“Why… What’s going on here? We were told we could seek shelter here. Are you really going to turn your back on what you just promised mere minutes earlier?”Bookmark here

That was the princess, and absolutely nobody even batted an eyelid at it. Bookmark here

“I don’t know what the impression you’ve gotten is, but I don’t really know anything about this princess everyone is shouting about…”Bookmark here

That was me, but it quickly became clear that no one cared what I had to say. Bookmark here

“Why the heck would you ever think it’s okay to come attack someone you don’t even know for some bad luck that happened to you, that she had absolutely nothing to do with? Because you hate her father just that much? Like, seriously. What’s wrong with you people?”Bookmark here

That was Alena again, and she actually got a few of them to stop and hesitate, and an even smaller amount to straight up drop their weapons, in the case of those that were holding any, and then innocently walk away from the entire thing. Bookmark here

On the other hand it also got us a few shouts of “who cares!” and “wasn’t me who promised you that”, or other statements much to the same effect. Bookmark here

Even after the herd had been thinned slightly by the princess’s words, we were still surrounded by a good twenty-ish people. A group of people of various ages and genders, about half of them armed and half of them not. Even among the armed part of the group, the weapons they were wielding looked more like they had just scrambled for whatever they could get their hands on that remotely resembled a weapon than any actual proper weaponry. Bookmark here

So, me and the princess's capability for oration had at this point been quite thoroughly exhausted. If words weren’t good enough for these fine ladies and gentlemen, then that left...Bookmark here

That left…Bookmark here

That left fighting as our only option. Bookmark here

I barely even wanted to think the thought, but that was the only plausible choice left to us if they couldn’t be reasoned with. Bookmark here

How were we even supposed to try to fight a this large group of people? Bookmark here

Perhaps more urgently, could I even fight these people?Bookmark here

These weren’t criminals, not your typical “bad guys”. They were just normal people who had run into bad luck, and held a grudge because of it. Perhaps there was a point to be made about how they were trying to take it out on the wrong person, but I still felt like there was a fundamental difference between what these people were doing and when someone was being evil purely for selfish reasons. Bookmark here

A difference between what these people were doing, and the vile bandits I had managed to convince myself I wanted to hurt. Bookmark here

Could I do the same thing to these people? Make myself truly, genuinely believe they deserved that kind of punishment, if even for the briefest of moments? Bookmark here

Channel my mind not towards thoughts of how they surely had their reasons for what they were doing, how they had been driven to this by treatment harsher than most could imagine… But instead towards a train of reasoning that would conclusively lead to nothing but their guilt, and the harsh punishment that would befall them immediately if I had any say in things. Bookmark here

I… Maybe, Maybe I could…Bookmark here

No. Bookmark here

I tried to force myself, but it wasn’t working. I couldn’t do it. Bookmark here

I couldn’t. I couldn’t hurt them. Bookmark here

They were not that different from all the people I had given my own self up for the sake of helping in my past life. Just normal, everyday people that had suffered one unlucky coincidence too many and broken beyond repair, beyond the point where they were willing to give up on their goals because of something as trivial as basic human morality. Bookmark here

But if they had gone that far, then maybe… Wasn’t there a chance they would end up hurting other people? That they wouldn’t stop if they got to do whatever it was they wanted with the princess, if they hurt her, killed her, and then found that wasn’t enough to satisfy their hunger for revenge? Bookmark here

Did I truly want to let that happen?Bookmark here

If I could convince myself to hurt these people now, and that would lead to the possibility of avoiding a larger disaster down the line, would that not be worth whatever cost it may incur at the moment?Bookmark here

A small flame came to life in the palm of one of my hands. Bookmark here

But in the end that was nothing more than an incredibly unlikely possibility, a hypothetical made up purely for the sake of making me feel like whatever horribly mistaken thing I was about to do was somehow justified. Bookmark here

The little fire I had managed to muster up immediately died off again in response to my internal doubts, leaving me as defenceless as from the start. Bookmark here

If me and Alena had both just been standing there the whole time, the group of people surrounding us would easily have captured the both of us by the time I actually managed to accomplish anything. Trying to make myself believe I was right, trying to put myself in my own little version of reality… It was taking too long. Bookmark here

Thankfully the princess didn’t have any of my hesitation. Bookmark here

When we were attacked the previous time, her prank had meant she couldn’t use her other magic… Perhaps I needed to talk with her about that later. I hadn’t really thought about it before, but her “prank” had almost gotten the both of us killed. Bookmark here

This time there weren’t any such issues, and she could use her magic to boost her own abilities by a rather impressive amount. Bookmark here

The princess fighting at full capacity was quite a sight to behold. She wasn’t strong enough to overpower the entire group surrounding us, not fast enough to get away from all of them, didn’t have enough stamina to outlast all of them, and it didn’t look like she had any realistic chance of actually winning without help.Bookmark here

But she still put up a really good fight for being a single teenage girl fighting multiple people who all were a fair amount older than her, and in normal circumstances would have been much stronger. Bookmark here

She ran at a smaller group of four or five people before the circle around us had closed too far, maybe in an attempt to create an opening for us to escape from. Two of them tried to grab her, but she was just out of reach by the time she would have been in their grasp. Another tried to kick her, and one tried to punch her, but she gracefully shifted out of reach of both attacks. Bookmark here

Alena pushed one man aside to then sidestep someone that came leaping at her from behind, who I didn’t even know how she had seen coming. She hit the person that had leapt at her in the face and spun around out of the way of a stray hoe that came flying at them, not just almost hitting the princess but also dangerously close to injuring several of the other people that were attempting to take her on. Bookmark here

Yet, as impressive as the display she was putting up was, it was far from enough. She was managing to hold her own against about five people… Out of a grand total of about four times that. Bookmark here

Most of them just ignored me to focus on the princess. Only the five she engaged from the start were actually actively fighting her, but the rest were also sidestepping me to approach the princess instead, barely even sparing me a second glance.Bookmark here

It was clear who their target was. As long as I didn’t interfere, I could probably just straight up have turned around and walked away from there and there may very well have been a good chance I would have made it out without anyone trying to stop me. Bookmark here

And there was also no way I would ever do that. Bookmark here

Things were starting to turn sour for Alena. She had been managing to hold her own fine when she only was fighting five people, but once a few more joined… Try as she might, she was not able to take on a dozen people all on her own. Bookmark here

She put up a valiant effort, and as a whole the fight probably hurt more for the people she was fighting than for the princess, but she was still only one person. If she was to have any hope of winning this fight, she needed to hit her opponents about two dozen as many times as she got hit herself, and as impressive as she was, she was not nearly at that level.Bookmark here

It didn’t take long before the princess got a fist in her face, before someone successfully managed to grab her for a moment, even if she slipped out of their grasp a second later. She was slowly starting to be surrounded and options were growing more and more limited with every second that passed, the princess being pushed further and further into a corner with each and every passing moment. Bookmark here

I couldn’t just watch and do nothing. Couldn’t just see the princess be punished, knowing I could have done something.Bookmark here

Did these people deserve pain, suffering, more than that? Bookmark here

Maybe they didn’t, but at that moment I didn’t care. Bookmark here

They were hurting Alena, and I wanted them to stop. I didn’t want to kill them, sure. Bookmark here

But if I just hurt them a little bit, enough to get their hands off the princess…?Bookmark here

Bookmarked
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