“I see it!”
She stood on the seat next to the carriage driver as the horses clopped along the road. Her hands grasped the small lip on the edge of the seat that prevented the driver from simply sliding out if the horse made too sharp a turn. Sunlight sparkled off her brown eyes as she gazed over the farmland. It spread out before her like a sheet of green and brown ending in the tall stone walls of the city in the distance.
“That don’t mean much,” The driver quipped as he kept the horses on track. “It’ll be another two more hours, then we have to wait to be checked in before we’re let into the city. That could take another hour if it’s busy.” He seemed nonplussed as the girl moved to face him and her lips pulled into a pout.
“Why? It’s right there, can’t we just….”
“Just what?” His dark eyes shaded under the wide brim of his hat didn’t spare her a glance, keeping an eye on the compacted dirt road ahead. “Cut across the fields? If we were on foot maybe, but this carriage would tear up the harvest. Wouldn’t want to do something like that. Even if ya went on foot, they wouldn’t let you in anywhere but the gate anyway.”
“I could probably find another way in if I needed too,” the girl scoffed.
“What with? Your familiar? Oh wait,” the young man tilted his head just enough to give his passenger the side eye, “You don’t got one, do you now, Missy Amber.”
“That’s not my fault and you know it.” She crossed her arms. “You were there, Sirrus.”
“I was, it was right funny too.” He swiveled his head back to the road, “That beastmaster was so pissy when you took out that cub’s eye.”
“It’s his fault for bringing cats,” she stamped a booted foot on the seat. If the motion caused any unbalance to the carriage, or if the shaking was the result of its continued movement was hard to tell. “My aunt warned him, warned him not to bring any cats. Wolves at least can be reasonable, but cats are just monsters that folks fawn over cause they happen to have big eyes and make rumbling sounds that they think are signs of affection.” Her pale hands in orange sleeves were wrapped around her as she bounced a bit on her heels, “It would have been much better if he’d brought some mice or rats. They’re much smarter.”
“Don’t matter how smart they are. The only reason a beastmaster would have rats is to feed his birds.” Sirrus retorted, “Still don’t see why you didn’t get one of those. Figured you might want one of them for their practical uses.”
“Birds are almost as bad as cats are!” Amber waved her hands, “Especially the ones he had for bonding. No nice nectar drinking birds like hummingbirds, no! He had falcons and hawks, both of which bite hard,” she said, drawing out the last word.
“Suppose that’s a good point. Still, the point of a ranger’s familiar is that they can go into battle with you. Rats can’t do that. You said wolves are alright, why didn’t you get one of those?”
“All the wolf cubs were taken,” Amber finally sat back down tucking her hands under her armpits and continuing her pout. “I think the other rangers bribed him or something to let them get first pick.”
“Wouldn’t surprise me, though what does surprise me is why you didn’t do the same.” He gave another side eyed gaze down at the girl, “Surely your parents could have put forth some money to get you a good wolf cub.”
She looked away from him and down at the passing fields. He was right of course, her parents could have definitely afforded such a thing, just like they could have afforded her coming here in a private carriage. Instead she was riding with the son of one of their business associates, who happened to be driving their stock to the city. Her mouth went into a thin line. “They already did so much though. I was supposed to choose a familiar, or have one choose me. Not have one purchased beforehand just to make the process a little easier.”
“We all saw how that went though.” Sirrus snorted, “If you look at it another way, you were the most popular ranger at the showing. All those animals following you around.”
“Because they were all trying to bite me,” Amber spat.
Sirrus chuckled, “Yeah, I don’t think the beastmaster actually expected that. Since your folks all seem to have such a way with animals.”
“My aunt has a way with animals because nature is her highest affinity,” Amber said, with a squeaky sulk trying to convey her annoyance. “Not all of us are liked by animals.”
“You’re living proof of that, ain’t ya.”
Amber just huffed and laid down on the seat. Her legs spread out onto the smooth, slightly sloping wooden bench and she laid her head onto her arms as she looked up at the sky.
“So, three hours.” Amber came back around to the point.
“Yep, though you could always try to make a run for it. With your tiny legs I’m sure you’d make it there in about three days time,” he chuckled.
“I can move faster than that.” Though she left out the fact that on such a long stretch of flat open ground, it would take a while, even if his prediction was an exaggeration. Especially if there was no gate and she had to try and scale the walls, which would take even longer.
She rolled over to the side. “I think I’ll nap in the meantime. You think you can keep an eye out without me?”
“This close to the city, I doubt there’d be any trouble from thieves or animals.”
“They aren’t the only threats,” Amber set her head down and closed her eyes.
“True, I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for whatever ruckus that comes about.” He nodded as he kept his eyes forward.
As time passed, Sirrus absently glanced down at his companion. He took off his hat as he approached the gate, setting it onto her so she might be a bit more shaded from the sun. The two of them rolled into the gate of the town without much fuss.
So! A good point was brought up, you don’t have any of the story to go through to ask questions about. So I’m going to post chapter 1 in parts once a week. I hope you enjoy.
I have also opened a discord server for my stories called Song of the Broken, that can be found here.