Jonathan steered Biscuit back to the main road. Fortunately, the horse didn’t put up a fight about the change in rider. Jonathan had ridden before on two horses: a palomino mare that was flighty and a stallion that attempted to rear. He was grateful Biscuit’s temperament seemed much more mild.
He felt himself relaxing as Biscuit plodded down the road. The transmigrator patted the mare’s side and received a huff in return. “We get along pretty well, huh?”
Jonathan realized how late it was as he looked in front of them. They were riding into the sunset, alone. It was something that should feel poetic, but simply felt mocking.
He was no hero and his story had not reached its end yet.
Jonathan decided to pick somewhere to settle down for the night as soon as possible. There wasn’t any sign of rain and therefore, he only had to pick somewhere that wouldn’t be visible from travelers. The young man spotted a grassy knoll to the side of the road and explored the other side for a bit after he dismounted.
He found a thick tree surrounded by tall grasses. The breeze created small ripples across the hill, small waves of a golden brown and green variety.
Jonathan led Biscuit to the tree and tied the reins to one of the stout branches. He quickly rummaged through saddlebags to find the horse tack and was glad to find a long lead which he switched out for the reins. The transmigrator took off the saddle, blanket, and bags, then let Biscuit graze as she pleased.
He took advantage of the dying light to check over the supplies. At the very least, he knew he had proper horse tack in one bag. There were three saddlebags. The second was large and held practical items, such as flint and steel, a blanket, a canteen, and dried foods.
Additionally, there were the things he had brought from the palace, in his satchel. This included some items from the room and what coins his ex-fiancé had on her at the time, a map, and a ring with the imperial family crest. The crest was of a pearl, encircled by a sea serpent or dragon. He wasn’t quite sure what the large, scaly figure represented.
It was when he checked the third saddlebag that things turned a bit strange. This one was much smaller in size than the other two. A blanket had been wrapped around something spherical. He pulled out the balled up cloth and unwrapped it.
The large egg fit perfectly into his palm. It was a dark red, almost black. Speckles and blotches of a bright red decorated the shell. The egg smelled of ash and smoke. It felt hot; he was pretty sure it was alive based on the temperature.
Jonathan wondered how long would it take for the egg to hatch? What would it grow into? Would it be something normal or something deadly?
The transmigrator tapped on the egg with a fingernail. It definitely wasn’t hollow. The shell seemed to be normal, more like fragile china than concrete. He had sort of expected it to be weird in some way.
Jonathan wasn’t sure if he should keep it. If it was rare, people might want to take it from him. Plus, Jonathan had absolutely no idea what it would hatch into.
Jonathan wasn’t sure whether it would jinx himself if he hoped that it would be something normal in case it hatched. He would prefer a regular lizard over a secret dragon. Unfortunately with his lacking knowledge, the transmigrator wouldn’t even be able to tell the difference.
The egg tilted to one side as whatever creature was inside moved.
The egg was alive.
He didn’t want to just kill it for no reason. Jonathan didn’t have any information on the situation, but he would keep the egg for now. If he found out people wanted this egg for some reason then he could at least get an omelet for breakfast out of it.
Now that he thought of it. . . why did the merchant have an egg in his saddlebags in the first place? It could have been merchandise. Did Peter even mean to sell it to Jonathan? This was either a strange trap or a secret favor.
However, he’d wasted enough time on this. Jonathan swaddled the egg and put it back in the saddlebag.
He moved on to plotting a course with the map he had made. The Empire took up much of the eastern half of the continent. Therefore, he needed to find a path West. The young man had enough food to last him for a day or so, but no water—this would be an issue. Because of not knowing where else he would be able to get water consistently, Jonathan planned to use the path to the country of Lembroke, which followed a river for most of the way. Based on his brief research in the Imperial Library this country was mountainous and more on the rural side, which meant a better chance of not being recognized. After that, he would have to see where to head from there, likely further West out of the Empire. The good news was that no one would be looking for a dead man.
He rolled up and packed his map into the saddlebags, then laid out the blanket to sleep on. As was routine for him, he did some whittling, making another sword; this time a scimitar.
Jonathan nibbled on a small piece of jerky to settle his stomach as he watched the world around him go completely dark. He saw a sky full of stars, full of unique patterns and figures. He recognized none of them.
It was at this point that it really settled in.
He had become a transmigrator to some strange world, despite not remembering an unfortunate encounter with any trucks. In only one day Jonathan had taken over someone’s life, survived an assassination attempt, faked his death, and was running away into the unknown without any help. He didn’t hate the new world or particularly wished to return to his old one. However, that didn’t mean he liked what had happened to him.
He had replaced someone. He hated that, almost enough to consider whether it was worth living like this.
He hadn’t been given a choice, which had some implications that he didn’t want to think about. He would save dealing with those particular feelings when he was far enough away from the life he had taken over.
“Transmigrators. Can’t believe I’m one of those clowns now,” Jonathan muttered to himself in disgust.
Mmm. Mysterious egg? What species could it be? Leave your guesses in the comments.
Edit 8/13/2022: fixed a typo