Tesriff was only a few hours journey from the capital.
Jonathan had to go, but he didn’t want to. Biscuit seemed to know his mood and slowed her pace. They made it to Tesriff in two days.
The place didn’t seem small, from how much it was spread out. Large fields and forests surrounded the two main streets that formed the center of the town. Some locals meandered between houses, shops, and market stalls in the cool evening.
Jonathan glanced around and realized: he had no idea where Chester’s family lived. He had spent so much time in his own head, angry and grieving, that this simple fact had slipped by him.
“Hey there, you’re a new face. Quite an interesting bird you have, what’s his name?”
Jonathan looked behind him, seeing a local had cheerfully called out to him. “Oceton.” His lips twitched at Oceton’s proud preening; the bird knew when he was being talked about.
The middle-aged man spoke similar to Jordi, back in Pinscher. The accent seemed rather similar, a rural slow drawl and slurring. However, the man who had called out to Jonathan looked rather different from Jordi. His skin was tanned, but not leathery. His hands had large calluses, and he carried an axe on his shoulder. “Well, I’ll introduce myself first, I’m Zachariah Yulr. What brought you here to this small village?”
“I was asked to deliver some news by a friend of mine.” Jonathan hesitated and then added, “I’m not quite sure where to find his family.”
“Alright, alright. What’s your friend’s name? I can help,” Zachariah offered. He had been living in this village for decades. He would have to be completely senile before he forgot anyone who had lived here.
Shock passed over Zachariah’s face. “You’re a friend of Chester?” He studied the young man’s face. “That news of yours . . . bad news, huh?”
Zachariah nodded back, sharply. His expression had changed abruptly into a frown. “Come with me. You likely won’t want to repeat such news twice. The missus is at home right now, back from her selling in the city.”
Jonathan wasn’t entirely sure if he was correct about the coincidence that occurred, but he was proven right once he followed Zachariah to a house in the middle of an orchard. While he was busy keeping Biscuit from trying to bite at the fallen fruits, Zachariah went into the house and then came back with a lady.
“I’m Trista.” She had long ginger hair. Her hands were shaking slightly as she dried them off on a towel. “Come in, my husband said you have news about our son?”
Jonathan went in and sat at the kitchen table. He pulled Oceton off his shoulder and into his lap, as the bird was getting ready to jump off and poke around the house. “My name is Jonathan. I’m a friend of your son, Chester. He died three days ago in the Laing mountain pass between Alita and Malamut.” Jonathan elaborated on what had happened, doing his best to ignore the tears. He wasn’t going to break down crying again.
“What did you think of him?” Zachariah scrubbed a hand down his face.
“What did you think of him,” Zachariah repeated.
“He was a good friend. I’m sad that I hadn’t met him before.”
“How did you meet?” Trista asked. She was drying her tears still, but she was temporarily pushing past her sadness with unmitigated curiosity and determination.
“I was travelling with another friend in Lembroke when I ran into Chester at town plaza. He was playing his mandolin and singing, and I offered to join in.” Jonathan shrugged as if it was no big deal. “The three of us traveled and became friends but my other friend had business elsewhere.” He started petting Oceton as the bird was trying to wiggle off his lap.
Trista gave a watery smile. “I am glad my son was able to become friends with you.”
“Thank you.” Jonathan felt a bit choked up. It felt a bit strange to be complimented like that. “He was . . . Chester was on his way back home, to visit. Or, maybe to settle down. I know that he hadn’t fully decided yet.” He glanced out the window. “Chester would want you to have his horse and his mandolin. I’ll leave them with you.”
“Thank you.” Trista glanced at her husband and questioned, “Do you have plans to stay anywhere in the village yet?”
Jonathan hadn’t made any plans. He wasn’t able to think that far ahead right now. After the couple offered, he spent the night in the attic and in return, spent most of the previous evening telling stories of Chester. Biscuit spent the night stabled by the cows and Oceton—far too spoiled—slept on Jonathan’s chest.
The transmigrator didn’t sleep well, but the nightmares were a bit less vivid. However, he still woke up far too early from a half-remembered scare.
Unable to go back to sleep, Jonathan moved Oceton off him, went outside, found a shady part on the porch, and started carving.
The repetitive actions helped him sort through his thoughts. He still found it bitterly ironic that neither him nor Chester met with their parents again after leaving home. Jonathan’s parents had died before him, while Chester died before his own parents. Both were painful experiences.
If Jonathan had the time to make a last wish, he would have wanted someone to talk to his dad about what he had been up to, or explain to his younger siblings what had been happening and why he left. He was pretty sure his siblings were mad at him for leaving.
Jonathan glanced back at the house. He would wait for them to wake up and say goodbye before he left. The transmigrator wasn’t sure where he would go, where he would end up. He was fortunately rather used to that concept.
He hadn’t realized, but he was making a small mandolin.
“You have quick fingers. You’re decently strong already as well.”
Jonathan barely kept himself from flinching. It was likely due to Hans showing up out of nowhere far too often. “What?”
Zachariah sat down on the porch. “Your body is good for the lumberjack trade, and I’m getting a bit old. In three or so years, I should just focus on carpentry.”
It was rather obvious what was being offered. “Being a lumberjack . . . ” Jonathan found it sort of ironic about what he was considering doing, compared to what he had started with in this world. He muttered, “Being a lumberjack is better than being a prince.”
Zachariah heard the comment and laughed. “Well, most people would tell you not to go that far with saying something like that, but I mighty agree.” He leaned back. “Will you stay?”
“I’ll stay,” Jonathan agreed. He could at least try it out.
And here we are, at the end. But, the end is oftentimes also a beginning. Novel 2, the sequel for Jonathan’s story, will be published in 2023. It should be around a break of 2 or 3 months between novels. I will be putting up additional animations and art on discord and youtube (channel is named TheSilverHunt3r) when I have time, but I’m also editing and revising novels 2, 3, and 4 while brainstorming novel 5—therefore, no promises on when there will be art or animations.
I hope you have enjoyed An Unwilling Prince.