The carriage rocked as it came out of the forest. Immediately as they exited, a small town appeared up ahead. The grass grew thicker and thicker, and farms began to pop up here and there. Soon, the place was filled with homes and farms and little shops at the side.
Akki and Mitch did not stop at those shops. They steered the carriage straight for the center of the town where a short steeple could be seen just over the couple of trees that surrounded a sixteen meter wall, separating the inner town from the outer sectors.
As the horses pulling the carriage clamored forth, under the wide arch, and through the black gates, they followed the road up until it forked, where a short clocktower stood right at the start of that fork, in the center of the town.
At this moment, Akki and Mitch were still in the carriage. None of them moved, but they both looked glum.
A sliding panel opened up from the driver’s seat, connected to the inside. “We should just continue, why stop?” Asked the crone. This was the old woman that had run away during the fight with the bandits. Apparently, she did not die, and minutes after the fighting had stopped, did they find her dashing out of the bush, hair full of twigs and all, to cater to her lady.
Mitch was surprised by the thick face of the woman. But, then again, the girl the woman served had just as much of a thick face as any when it was obviously apparent that the girl refused to let the old servants into the carriage, and possible safety, when the bandits had attacked, and yet this was not mentioned. None of it was. The way the two had acted was as if no one had died, better yet, that none of the servants even existed to begin with.
Even I don’t have such thick skin.
Of course Mitch was not going to say anything. He killed so many bandits, practically saved the girl’s life, so by right, the carriage was his. He did not do it for free! And he made sure to explicitly state that fact over and over.
“We need supplies. But first, we must drop you off.” Mitch replied coolly. Not even glancing at Akki. Based on the man’s implicit silence, he knew he agreed. After these past few days of travel, Mitch was getting to know Akki more and more.
Akki was a pervert and a wooer. He was mysterious; and very strange. And he was also stubborn. Stubborn in his ways, and stubborn in his view. Once he made up his mind, there was no turning back! It was apparent after the bandit attack that Akki did not want anything to do with the girl. What happened in the time that I was risking my life?
“Akki, I-” The girl started, but she did not finish that statement. She looked puzzled, and crestfallen. But Mitch could still see her eye occasionally sweep greedily across Akki’s body, and his pretty boyish good looks. It made Mitch almost want to gag. Almost..,
The old woman’s face soured. “Just because you killed a bandit or two doesn’t mean-”
“A bandit or two? A bandit or two?!!” Mitch grew loud. It was always good to go loud with people who wanted to be slippery. And it was obvious that this woman did not want to give up the carriage. And why would she? The carriage was nice, and it was worth half their current assets. This was such a nice carriage that Mitch did not want to give it up after putting all that sweat and blood into saving their lives. “I killed ten bandits! Ten! And I alone survived, compared to the what? To the six large and burly men hired to guard you caravan? Now look. None of them are alive. Now you have to pay their fee anymore. How wonderful for you. But me? I did not save your lives for free! A carriage or two is a perfect repayment! And I’m surprised for someone who ran off while her companions died to be so vocal!”
The old woman glowered, but she say anymore. Yup. Good to be so loud. No one liked arguing with loud people because loud people just seemed crazy, and unrestrained.
“You should go!” Akki said, finally opening that mouth of his.
Mitch sneered. At least say something sooner! That girl wouldn’t move unless you made her. But for her to look at you like that… You practically did nothing. I did all the work. Damn you!
The girl pouted, but gathered her things, and left. It had taken a while, and most of the baggage was put on the old woman’s shoulders. The old woman walked off, appearing downtrodden and hurt.
Mitch could see how she looked so weak, and the other citizens of the town could see that too. Though this town was not, in anyway large, it was moderately busy. Some men agreed to help her, and suddenly, when the bags were taken, the woman seemed straighter and more proud. Strong even.
Mitch could easily see through her act. He only shook his head and rubbed his palm across the waxed black wood of the carriage. He liked it very much. Once they had rescued the two, he had calculated their assets and decided to take the carriage. It was nice, and it was not like the girl did not have means to buy a less but capable carriage with the funds she had left.
But even if Mitch took money in exchange, finding a carriage of such wood and grace was a hard find. Yuip, he liked it very much.
“Don’t you think this is a bit too out there? There are reasons why bandits targeted them. No matter how bandits seem, they are not stupid. They pick their targets very carefully, and judge cost over profit… We may be targeted.”
“It’s fine. Even if its for a short while, we can always resell it and double our profits than anything that girl could give us when we go to a big city!”
Akki nodded. “But… Who’s going to drive it? We don’t have that kind of money to hire someone. I don’t trust them.”
“What do you mean? You are!” Mitch sneered. “You did nothing during that fight! This is penance! Penance!”
Akki laughed. “You think I can drive a carriage?”
Mitch looked at Akki, his mouth dropped.
A bell jingled as the door opened.
Mitch scowled the entire time as he came through the shop entrance. He had left Akki as Akki had other business to take care of, which suited Mitch just fine. Stopping in this town was not only for supplies. They had a little coin for food and water, but it wasn’t reason enough to separate from the girl and the crone so early. It was quite possible to travel with them past a few more cities. But Mitch chose not too. If they travelled together any longer, it would worsen the already existing tension between the girl, Mina, and Akki. Furthermore, it would be quite easy for the girl to gain some footing and be able to prevent him from taking the carriage.
Mitch could not let that happen. Most of all, he had business in this small town. It may have seemed as if he was just following Akki aimlessly, but there was a purpose behind everyone of his actions. If the girl and the crone stuck with him, Mitch would not be able to trust them enough to leave them with or without the carriage alone and connected to him. And if they were not alone, they were with Akki or him. Akki looked to not want anyone near him when he was settling business, and Mitch was the same. He could not let anyone know his secrets. To know the things he had planned. Better to pay the town’s Trading Guild to watch the carriage.
As Mitch stepped through, and the door was closing behind him, a cool and sweet voice tickled his ear.
“Welcome to Questionable Pies! How can I help you today?”
Author’s note: Short chapter today. Not much time to write so… yeah.