Fighting For My Freedom In Another World
I found myself back among the crowd of people that had been evacuated from the city.
I still didn’t know who had been in charge of the evacuation, or why, but it was at least good to know everyone was safe.
Including the girl I had rescued from the nearby fire and carried back to them. Me walking out of the burning building, an innocent girl I rescued in my arms, fire all around us and filling up the scenery behind me… I’m sure it must have been quite the sight. Nobody actually saw it, but if anyone had I was sure they would have been impressed.
The reactions everyone gave me when I got back spoke to that fact.
Conversations went silent. Eyes turned my way. People’s heads turned to follow me as I made my way through the crowd.
I almost had to jostle my way through. If people saw a lone teenage girl trying to make her way somewhere while holding a girl covered by soot in her arms, I would have expected them to want to help out. Maybe to check if we were okay. To at a minimum get out of our way, considering I was clearly having trouble due to the load I was carrying, had to stop and cough every few seconds, and stumbled forward more than I actually walked properly.
But we didn’t get much in the way of assistance.
What happened instead was that everyone just stopped to stare at us and I had to force my way through.
The truth was that most people were either too occupied with their own business to care, or loved the spectacle enough that they didn’t care if they became a hindrance, as long as they got to see whatever was going on.
There was also a smaller group that realised what was going on and tried to help us clear a path. Their attempts weren’t met with much success.
It took much longer than it reasonably should have, but I managed to make my way to the girl’s mother.
At first she just stared straight ahead, too caught up in her own sorrow to care about the commotion. Why care about some minor trifle when you just lost something so much more important?
When you thought you had lost something so much more important.
It took me a few seconds to get the woman’s attention once I reached her. She was dazed and didn’t look up at me, even when I gently placed my hand on her shoulder.
Her own daughter, however, had more success.
The mother looked upon her own child in disbelief, then up at me standing next to her.
“How… How did you… ?”
“I have my ways. Can’t just go around giving out all my tricks, you know? ...Anyway, I have other things I need to deal with. Hopefully you and your daughter will stay safe in the future.”
I tried to act nonchalant about the whole thing, but the whole thing was made significantly less convincing by the fact that I needed to stop and cough several times while saying it.
Not wanting to risk further conversation, I pushed onwards, hoping to get back out from the massive amount of people surrounding us.
Trying to reach the woman had put me right in the middle of the crowd.
I had hoped I would have an easier time making it out than I did making it in.
It soon became clear no such luck was to be had for me.
Perhaps the spectacle of me carrying a girl that everyone thought was trapped in a burning building was gone, but the fact that I had been carrying a girl everyone thought was trapped in a burning building caught people’s interest all the same.
Instead of silent staring, what I faced was… Compliments. Happiness. Celebration.
It was much harder to bear than the silence ever could be.
The voices of people who realised what I had done were all around me.
“Into a burning building… Just to save the daughter of someone you don’t even know? Now that’s a true hero in the making.”
“How reckless. You wouldn’t catch me doing anything like that, but I suppose it’s good the girl is safe.”
“You know, I wonder what blend of crazy someone would have to be to risk their life like that. I like it.”
“Can I have your autograph?”
“I’ll be happy to do any favours for you if you ever need one!”
“You probably wouldn’t understand, not being from here and all, but it feels so good… It Feels so good to actually have something good happen after everything else today. I will take it as a sign that the gods have yet to forsake us.”
The people cheered for me, congratulated me, talked about me. Celebrated the girl who had destroyed their city less than an hour ago.
Suddenly I was a hero.
I didn’t deserve it. I did one thing right, and that meant everything was forgiven? Of course not. If they knew what I had done, I knew the situation would have been different. They would have been standing there with jeers and metaphorical pitchforks instead of all the praise they were raining upon me now.
I needed to think about something else. Distract myself. All the compliments just made me feel worse about my failure.
Something else I could think about…
Come to think of it, one of the people that complimented what I had done had said something about gods. What did the religions in this world look like? Whichever one that person believed in at least didn’t seem to be monotheistic.
Maybe it was better I didn’t know too much. As long as I didn’t know, I didn’t need to worry about it either. It was too serious a topic for how I was feeling. And it wasn’t like I was going to meet the gods anytime soon anyway.
It took until I was well past the crowd before they snapped out of their daze, managing to realise there were more important things in this world than their own curiosity.
Some of them had even tried to follow me and talk to me one-on-one, but quickly dropped away once they realised they weren’t part of a larger group anymore, and just a few individuals being annoying towards someone that really didn’t want it.
Thankfully an annoyed glance was enough to make those people get the hint once peer pressure wasn’t a driving factor anymore.
The woman I had entrusted Alena to was on her own a fair distance away from the crowd, the princess safely resting on the soft grass in front of her. Alena’s eyes were open, but she seemed no more responsive than when I left her.
Somewhere deep down, I had suspected something would have happened to the princess by the time I got back. We had already been attacked several times over. I hadn’t met a single person in this world other than Alena herself who didn’t have it out for us… Assuming you didn’t count the friendly old man we briefly met two days earlier.
How was he doing now? Had he also gotten hurt because of us? Because of me?
At this point I was just about expecting anything that could do so to go wrong.
But not everyone had a hidden agenda. Not everyone hated us. And it wasn’t like fate had it in for us anything.
We were just unlucky, and I didn’t know enough yet.
I needed to learn more. Figure out what was going on. Start making my own decisions.
But not now.
There were more immediate issues to deal with.
The woman that had been looking after Alena waved when she saw me.
“Hello. I take it you succeeded in what you were trying to do? Don’t think I didn’t see what you just did, by the way. And it took far less than your estimate of an hour, too.”
It had indeed been far less than an hour. I wasn’t really sure why I had told her that when anything I reasonably could have had a chance of accomplishing blatantly wouldn’t take more than a fraction of that time.
“Can we just… Not talk about that, alright?”
“What? Don’t like your newfound fame, hero?”
“I just have more important things to think about. Anyway, I’ll be taking Alen- my girlfriend, if that’s alright. Thank you for looking after her.”
I got Alena standing and started taking a few steps away. I didn’t know where we were going, but I could figure that out later. For now I wanted to get away from the large group of people nearby. We had been attacked too many times already in just a few days.
“By the way, before you leave”, the woman called out from behind me, “I’d like to give you a word of warning, if that’s alright. You would be better off if you were a bit less trusting.”
The woman held up a piece of paper. It was similar to the one we had seen someone studying intensely back in town, but I hadn’t gotten a good look at it back then.
Alena’s face covered most of it. It was accompanied by an instruction to not inform her and anyone with her about the evacuation, and that anyone who helped make sure she stayed in the city would be rewarded.
“Apparently there’s someone here that really doesn’t like that princess you have with you. But I personally don’t hold any grudges against the royal family, so I’m fine with letting you be on your way. I do however have a proposal, if you are willing to listen. So… How about it?”