An Unwilling Prince Chapter 28: Things She Loses

“I’m just surprised you helped me.” Ciley played with her hands nervously.

Chester elbowed Jonathan in the ribs. There was an encouraging look in his eyes.

Jonathan ignored his friend and brushed off the question. “Why wouldn’t I help you?”

“Because, I’m ugly and awkward?”

“You’re not ugly. Also, everyone feels a bit awkward when talking. Don’t worry about it too much.” Jonathan spared her a brief smile to drive home the point. He knew about feelings of insecurity and self-hate a bit too well.

Ciley was red once again and avoided any eye contact.

Jonathan didn’t see any reason to stick around. “Chester, let’s go. If we don’t sleep soon, we won’t be able to wake up early.”

“Alright, alright.” Chester gave Ciley an apologetic look as he walked after his travelling companion. “It’s at that inn on the East side of town, or am I remembering wrong?”

“Surprisingly, you’re right for once.”

“Hey! What does that mean?”

Ciley watched them leave. She hid her red face in her hands, but smiled.
———
The inn was easy enough to find. It was the biggest place in the town, and best looking. Someone had actually cared enough to quarry however many tons of grey stone made up the inn’s pillars and floor; every other building in town was made of wood.

The rooms weren’t exactly cheap, but Chester volunteered to pay as he had made money from Jonathan and the other players at the saloon.

They were given a key and walked up the stone stairs to the third floor. The two men got into the room without issue.

The price was actually worth it for the room. The mattresses and pillows were thick and soft. The sheets were clean.

Chester had been fiddling with his mandolin, unable to sit still. “You’re okay?”

“I’m fine.” Jonathan was feeding Oceton; his flight feathers had been coming in, a sort of light red, and the bird would soon start learning to fly.

“Good. If you. . . ever want to talk about it, then I’m happy to.” Chester opened the windows for air—they creaked loudly—but closed them when the breeze picked up. He didn’t want to be covered in sand by the morning.

“They aren’t going to target me.”

Chester’s expression was clearly concerned for a few moments. He sat back down on his bed.

“What I mean is, if you want to stay a night so you can acquire some funds it’s fine with me.” Jonathan couldn’t fully explain what happened with the Moiety. He would rather not give any more information than lie. The man let Oceton finish eating and then waited for the bird to fall asleep. The chick had been sleeping more and growing, but Oceton probably couldn’t be called a chick any longer.

Chester laughed as he half-heartedly plucked at some strings. His improvised melody was decent and a bit melancholic. “I’ll be at the bar later tonight.” Despite his confusion over what happened, he did need to make some more money to pay his half of the expenses. It was times like this he wished Aderes was still traveling with them.

Jonathan sighed. “I’m going for a walk then.”

———

Jonathan spent most of the evening in Biscuit’s stable. He had a majority of his things in his saddlebags, and checked through to make sure the stable hand hadn’t stolen anything. When night hit, he did end up walking some distance around the town.

There was a surprising amount of brush scattered across the flat plains he could see. The sand gleamed under the light of the moons. Smaller shadows, the local animals, flitted between the bushes and a few stunted trees. The nighttime was cold, and he was glad he had taken his coat with him.

“Um, hello.”

Jonathan turned to see who had called over to him.

Ciley, the young woman from the saloon, was standing nearby. She had her hands clasped behind her back, and swayed slightly in a nervous way. “What are you doing out here?”

“What are you doing out here?” Jonathan responded, in the same manner.

“Um. I’m looking for my hair clip.” Ciley gestured to her hair.

Jonathan raised an eyebrow. “You dropped a hair clip out here?”

Ciley had both of her hands up, waving them around in a panic. “I’m not lying! I swear I was training. I’m an elemental mage with an ice contract.”

“Okay. I believe you,” Jonathan simply responded.

Ciley breathed out a sigh of relief, and clasped her hands behind her back again. “I know how to do tracing spells. It’s pretty simple to do now that I can fuel it properly. ”

Jonathan wasn’t interested in her business. “Good luck with that.” He started to walk away.

Ciley worked up her courage, and in a rush, loudly asked, “Would you help me look?” She saw him turn his head slightly. “I know the general area, but . . .”

Jonathan looked back at the town nearby. He was pretty sure Chester would spend the night gambling and had no other plans. “Is it affected by distance?”

Ciley smiled when she saw the man give in. “Yes! The closer I am, the more specific of a direction I can tell. The amount of my mana on the item also determines how easy it is to find. Mana fades a bit over time which means I have to renew my signature on it. I learned some ritualistic magic from-” She clapped a hand over her mouth, embarrassed, and squeaked out, “I’m sorry. I just kept talking.”

“It’s fine.” Jonathan found the topic interesting, but he was more wary of her now. He didn’t know much about ritualistic magic.

Ciley was twisting her hands together behind her back. It seemed to be a habit of hers. “What are you doing in town?”

“Traveling.”

Ciley stopped walking when she asked. “How long are you sticking around?” She was biting her lip.

“I’m not sure. If we don’t need anything, we’ll leave tomorrow.” Jonathan glanced at Ciley. He noticed her expression had changed; she looked somewhat distraught.

“Oh.”

Jonathan didn’t like how sad she sounded and brought her attention back to the present. “We’re still looking for your item, correct?”

“Yes. Um. It’s this direction. We’re really close.” Ciley started walking again.

A minute or so later, Jonathan spotted an object laying protruding from the sand. “Is it that?”

Ciley rushed over to the item. She picked it up and used her fingers to get off the dust and sand. “It is!”

“Glad you found it.”

“Um, would you like to . . .” Ciley trailed off as she gently clutched the hair clip in her hand. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. Good night.” Jonathan turned around, and walked back towards town. He ignored how she called his name once; he didn’t want to see her expression.

A/N

Orginally Ciley wasn’t as fleshed out or three dimensional. Chapters like this were recommendations from my editors that I very much agreed with adding during the revisions.

Also, there’s two chapters today (meaning chapter 29 is also out) because I will be too busy again next weekend.

<< Previous Chapter | Index | Next Chapter >>

Bookmark(0)

No account yet? Register

About Luxa Ren

Writer of An Unwilling Prince. Longtime reader, fanfic writer, artist, and animator. Ko-fi: https://ko-fi.com/thesilverhunt3r Tumblr: https://anunwillingprince.tumblr.com/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.