Jonathan Deere stared into the sky and wondered why he was in this world. It was an important question, no doubt, but one that was wildly inappropriate for two reasons. Firstly, he was trying to run away after faking his death. Secondly, he had stopped in the middle of the street.
A man brushed past him roughly and Jonathan stumbled. He was too late to regain his footing in this new body of his and subsequently tripped on the cracked stones that made up the road. He tried to catch himself with his hands and felt his palms smack against the rocks, sanded to a smooth finish by the many feet that trod over them for hundreds of years.
Jonathan stood up with a quiet sigh and continued down the road. He wasn’t even sure, entirely, what he was looking for. However, he did know something for certain: he needed to get out of the Capital as soon as possible. It didn’t matter how much money it would take—he had made sure to take some of the golden trinkets and jewelry he now owned—the issue was time.
He spotted two knights, clad in gaudily painted steel. Jonathan drew his cloak closer and started looking for somewhere to hide. There were shops lining the street, but many of them had dimmed their lights already. Breaking into those closed shops would be an option if not for how—based on the laundry from the windows—they seemed to double as homes.
Jonathan chewed on the inside of his mouth and continued to walk down the street. The option of trying to join in with the families, drunkards, or other people for cover was looking more enticing. He just hoped he wasn’t mistaken for a thief.
There was an older man, walking down the street with a horse. He wore a straw hat and dusty, worn out work clothes. He had a few wrinkles and no sun tan; his skin was actually quite pale. The brown horse quietly plodded along with a lazy look in her dark eyes.
Jonathan sped up his pace slightly and then slowed down to walk by the farmer. “Excuse me, which way is it to the city gates?” To seem more polite he tacked on, “Sir.”
“You’re in luck, son. I’m headed out of the city right now and it’s only a few minutes walk.” The man was wearing the outfit of a farmer, but the way he talked was that of a sleazy car salesman, all he was missing was the ill fitted black suit. He seemed a bit surprised at the young man talking to him.
Jonathan smiled, relieved. His father had taught him to be polite, especially to those older than him. It really seemed to pay off this time. With luck, he might really be able to slip out as if he was one of those leaving for their homes outside of the city. “Is it alright if I follow you to the gates?”
“That’s alright with me, as long as you’re fine with walking slowly with this old man,” the farmer joked. “My leg hasn’t felt the same after the war, and getting older hasn’t helped it.”
Jonathan cast one more glance at the patrolling knights and saw they were checking on each shop before continuing. He had time to slowly walk and no reason to run, that would only attract attention. “That’s perfectly fine, Sir. No need to worry about me.”
“And no need to be so formal, young’un,” the farmer insisted. “Call me Peter.”
“I’m Jonathan.” The name of this body may have been Roscoe, but he was Jonathan. Besides, he had just faked his death and using his actual name was like creating a fake identity for himself in this world.
The horse nosed at Peter’s shoulder and huffed.
The farmer chuckled. “It looks like ol’ Biscuit is feeling left out. She’s thirteen years old now, and a bit more mellow. Although as you can see, she’s just as curious as a young foal.”
Now that Jonathan was closer, he saw an old scar over the horse’s front left leg. “What happened to her?”
“Oh, that? She pulled or broke something while racing and her owners thought she was useless.” Peter’s eyes were full of disgust. “That’s how I managed to buy her at an affordable price. It took a few months for her to heal, but once it was. . . Biscuit was right as rain.”
“She doesn’t look like a riding horse,” Jonathan judged. He wasn’t a complete rookie in this area of expertise. Before this world, he had taken some riding lessons and his best friend had been obsessed with animals. “She’s a bit too big for that, right?”
Peter frowned slightly, then went back to smiling. “That is true. She is more of a draft horse, more endurance. Of course, that doesn’t mean she isn’t good for riding, quite the opposite. Biscuit is gentle and listens to instructions.” He dismissively added, “Besides, only the racers and jockeys need something able to go at those ridiculous speeds.”
“How much did you buy Biscuit for?”
“Well, let’s see . . . Maybe forty silvers, of the Hrean kind.”
Jonathan took a breath and asked, “How much would you sell her for?” He couldn’t pass up this chance. A horse would take him out of the Empire much faster than if he was on foot.
“That, is a very different question.” Peter looked at the horse he was leading, then at the saddlebags. “I’d be amiable to parting with Biscuit and my bags for a fair price of seventy and five silvers.”
“How about this?” Jonathan pulled a ring out of his pocket. The piece of jewelry was shiny, gold, and capped with three small diamonds.
Peter squinted and tilted down his straw hat. “Is it stolen?”
“No,” Jonathan stated. It wasn’t stolen, unless one considered that he actually wasn’t Roscoe and thus whether he inherited all of those things through possessing the man’s body was morally questionable.
The farmer looked at the young man, expression showing how much he doubted his recently met acquaintance. He reluctantly nodded his head and said, “I’ll consider it.”
Jonathan was also considering something. He was thinking about whether or not he could safely knock out the farmer and steal his horse. As much as he hated to consider the idea, the transmigrator was getting more and more desperate as the city walls loomed closer.
Biscuit my beloved.
Have you guys ever ridden horses? I have.