Her legs ached, she hadn’t walked so much in a long time, but she didn’t want to stop. The past month had been terribly boring, having to stay in bed while her wounds healed. She had felt so restless, wanting nothing more than to get up and walk, but Tech had been adamant about her staying still until he was sure she was healed and not at risk of pulling apart her stitches. The fresh air felt wonderfully cool against her fur, and she had missed it making her hair flutter.
Tech walked alongside her, curiously looking over the many stands set up along the roadside. Maria hadn’t been exaggerating when she told them about the huge outdoor market the city residents held in the fall, if you could think of an item you would like to buy, you could easily find it. Food, jewellery, clothing, shoes, decorations, trinkets and toys, all hand-crafted. It was completely different from Acmetropolis.
Cassidy smiled when Tech paused to admire a stand covered with beautiful scarves, each one made with different colours and designs, some with strands of glittery fabric woven in. He picked one up, splashed with blue and gold, and set it around Cassidy’s shoulders. “I’m not really good with clothes, but I thought this one would look good on you.”
Her smile grew, her fingers playing with the hem. “Sari’s royal colours. I’d hope they’d look good on me.”
“You like it?”
“I do.” Cassidy reached into her pocket for her money, but Tech stopped her.
“I’ll get it. Think of it as a thank you for not being too pissed at me for making you stay in one place for so long.” He grinned, handing the lady behind the stand the money for the scarf.
“Thank you, Tech.”
Just as they started walking again, Cassidy paused, hearing hushed whispers and gasps from behind them. She turned, and caught sight of three small children hiding beside an empty stand. When their curious eyes noticed that she saw them, they all ducked behind the wood.
“Hello?” Cassidy called to them, walking closer.
“Should we answer her?” One of them asked.
“Of course we should, she’s the princess!” Another whispered.
“I dunno, guys, she’s kinda scary. I heard she killed two Azaians with her bare hands!” The third argued.
Cassidy wasn’t sure whether to laugh at the wild rumor or be worried. “Actually, I killed the one with a spear, and the other with his own sword.”
Slowly, the three children shuffled out from behind the stand, all looking guilty and frightened.
“We’re sorry, Your Highness!”
“We didn’t mean to follow you!”
“We’ve just never seen you in person before.”
Cassidy smiled softly, kneeling in front of them. “Hey, it’s okay. You don’t need to be scared of me. I’m sorry I haven’t been around a whole lot, I’m still getting used to the whole princess thing.”
“So you’re not gonna kill us like you did those Azaians?” The smallest one asked, earning herself sharp looks from the other two.
Cassidy blinked, quite surprised with the little one’s question. “Of course I wouldn’t. I would never do that to you. I only killed those two because they were trying to hurt my sister, they were trying to kill her. I wanted to protect her, and I’ll do the same for you.”
The smallest child smiled. “You’ll protect us?”
“I will.” Cassidy smiled back. “I promise I’ll do everything I can to help my sister keep you safe.”
“Yay!” She shouted in glee, her short little legs waddling closer to Cassidy and throwing her tiny self into Cassidy’s lap. Cassidy stayed still, unsure of what to do about the little toddler in her lap until the little girl squirmed and managed to wrap her short little arms around her neck in a hug.
Grinning from ear to ear, Tech watched as slowly Cassidy relaxed, slipping an arm around the little girl to hug her close.