Fighting For My Freedom In Another World
I eventually got up.
I couldn’t just lie in the grass forever. It wasn’t safe to sleep there, and it turned out not much food was being served in the middle of a grassy plain.
What I could say was that I needed to do something. Go somewhere. What I couldn’t say was what or where. I had no idea what my options were. I never had known. Ever since I came to the world, all I ever had done had been at the command of another.
So what did I have left without anyone to order me around?
For starters I figured I’d go back to the town I ruined. Not because I took any delight in seeing that again, but because it was the only place I trusted myself to reliably be able to find before I passed out from hunger or exhaustion. I didn’t even know how far apart the cities and towns in this world were. For all I knew it could have been days to the next one.
I would rather have avoided it if I could, but it felt like there was only one reasonable choice.
To go back. Back to the very same place I had destroyed half of.
So I did.
It was easy.
There weren’t any guards at the gate. I could just walk in without anyone bothering me. People were probably too occupied with other things to bother.
Once inside, I expected to find ruins. Rubble still lying in the streets, buildings broken beyond repair and streets torn open. To find the city still looking like a major battle had been fought in it, and like someone had blown it up… That someone being me.
What I found instead was a city in the middle of repairs. With homes that weren’t entirely whole but didn’t look too shabby. With streets that were distinctly lacking in the holes and pits my explosion had made.
I had been too caught up in my own business. Too focused on what I needed to use magic for. Too stuck on a single purpose to realise.
I had forgotten something. Or perhaps it was more accurate to say I never had learned it in the first place, or that I hadn’t managed to piece it together from the pieces of information I did know.
I had only seen a few types of magic being used in combat. Yet there was supposed to be vast amounts of different kinds of magic out there somewhere in this world. If it wasn’t being used to fight, then what else was there?
There was a rather obvious answer, one that some of the things I already had seen spoke to.
Magic wasn’t just for fighting, or for destruction. My own couldn’t do much else, but that wasn’t the case for everyone. I hadn’t met enough people or had enough time to really think about things to realise that there was more to it.
I walked through the streets, not seeing a city that had been destroyed but one that was in the middle of repair. A group of people using magic to put together a broken building faster than what I would have thought possible. Some others fixing windows that still were broken on another house. All kinds of different undertakings, all using magic.
In just two days, everything I had destroyed was already almost back to normal.
I hadn’t done nearly as much damage as I thought I had.
And looking back, even my magic had some uses that weren’t just fighting. I had saved a girl from burning to death. I’d be hard pressed to call any part of what I did then violent.
There was more to the world than I had realised. Possibilities I hadn’t considered.
It let me feel a little less bad about what I had done, even if it only was ever so slightly.
But Alena still wasn’t with me.
Somehow that made it all feel more meaningless.
Now, what next…
I wasn’t really sure what I had come there for in the first place. It wasn’t like I had any money on me. I hardly thought anyone would be willing to offer me food or a place to stay for free. In particular now that I didn’t have Alena with me.
Not knowing what to do, I just randomly strolled across town. Watched as everything was being rebuilt. It was a rather respectable project, involving a good deal over a hundred people at a minimum. Perhaps it was weird for me to feel that way as the one that destroyed everything, but I was glad rebuilding was going well.
Someone else ended up finding me before I was done with my aimless wandering.
A man called out to me, standing in front of the door to a nearby building. It looked suspiciously similar to the inn me and Alena had briefly stayed in, and had at this point been almost entirely repaired.
The guy that called out to me was tall, would probably be described as fairly handsome for the kind of people that were into that sort of thing, and… Right. It was that… Elias? guy. The one we had encountered right before being attacked. Big sign of trustworthiness.
On the other hand, even if he had something to do with any of the stuff that had happened, we had only ever explicitly been attacked when there weren’t any uninvolved people around. In other words, if it was in the middle of town, with plenty of people both going around their lives outside and inside the building he was inviting me into…
...It was probably safe to enter.
Was I overthinking things? Maybe, but after you get ambushed four times you kind of start being on the lookout for things that could go wrong.
I followed the Elias guy inside the inn and took a seat opposite him at one of the tables. There was a family sharing a meal on the other side of the place and the innkeeper was at the counter. If the pattern held, there wasn't any risk of me being attacked out of nowhere this time.
Elias didn’t seem to be in the mood for starting the conversation, so I took it upon myself instead.
“Alright, you called me over, but what do you want? ...Did you have anything to do with all the stuff that’s happened the last few days?”
A bit direct, maybe, but I wasn’t in the mood for politeness and pleasantries.
“...’What happened’? You mean the two attempts on the princess’s life? In that case, yes. I was not just involved in them. I was in charge. I paid for it myself. Sad to say I haven’t had much of a return on investment yet, though.”
He had a smug smile on his face… Perhaps more so than any I had ever seen before. It was a level of smugness I could probably never hope to achieve, at least as far as facial expressions went.
Still, what he said wasn’t adding up with what I knew.
“Two attacks? Which two?”
“I do not see why there would be any need to ask, but the one my followers arranged of their own accord after we oh so barely missed you, as well as the assault on the city.”
“What about the ambush almost right after we left the castle?”
He paused. Hesitated. For just a second, but I saw it.
“I cannot say. I will tell you with confidence that I, and the people closest to me, only ever were involved in two attempts at your life, and both of them were aimed at the princess. You have nothing to fear from us now that she is elsewhere. I will promise you that.”
Perhaps he hadn’t realised, but this Elias guy had revealed more than he wanted to.
He didn’t know everything. This guy was… Perhaps he was in charge of half of the times I’d almost died. Perhaps had orchestrated some of all the things that happened.
I didn’t know what he wanted yet. But this wasn’t just some one-sided game where he was gloating over what he had accomplished. Not just some play for power or attempt at winning me over to his side. Whatever it was, it wasn’t all in his corner.
Elias wasn’t in nearly as good a position as his smug aura was trying to give the impression of.
There were things I wanted to know that he did.
But I also genuinely knew things he didn’t.
And that gave me power.