09| A Visit to Town

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I ride through the town with Noah and Alden, the market buzzes with activity.

Out of nowhere, Noah nudges me and smirks, "Kaiden, do you ever feel like a fish out of water in these rural settings?"

"You know, I often spend my time here in the town, that's you who should feel like that."

Alden, riding beside us, adds, "I think it's enough for today, we shall head back to palace"

A guard approaches me and offers me a note, "His highness, Princess Maliah wishes to see you and has sent you this note."

Opening the note, I find an invitation to a tea gathering from Maliah. Exhaling a weary breath, I contemplate the gesture, feeling somewhat perplexed by the intricacies of courtship. I'm not the person who finds such things entertaining.

I keep the note in my pocket, "Tell her I'm already occupied with some work right now and convey my regret"

"Was that an invitation to her room, Kaiden?" Prince Alten says lowly in order to tease me.

I shake my head at him, making it clear.

"I have some urgent business, I'll join you later" Noah suddenly excuses himself and rides away on his horse just to approach a woman.

Who is she?

Suddenly, the clamor of raised voices and distressed tones pierces through the air. "What is happening there?" Alden points at a crowd.

Startled by the sudden uproar, we instinctively guide our horses toward the source of the quarrel. The commotion grows more distinct, and it becomes evident that a heated dispute is happening in the midst of the bustling market.

As we approach, everything becomes silent. We notice some men are holding onto women's wrists, tears streaming down women's faces.

Alden questions the situation, and a woman, still sobbing, explains, "Your Highness, our husbands staked us in a game. Now, when they lost, other men are forcing themselves on us"

An accused man steps out to defend himself, "Their husbands willingly staked them, and now they belong to us, I reckon."

"Yes, he's right!" they all chorused in agreement. My gaze pierce through the audacity of their actions, and their heads bowed in submission.

"Flee them" my stern voice makes them reluctantly release women's hands, after exchanging unsure glances within themselves.

"Women are not commodities to be staked. If you believe they belong to you as your property, you are gravely mistaken" I tell.

The crowd falls silent as I address them, "Guards, seize these men. They will live under our custody until this is resolved in court. Such behavior won't be tolerated in our kingdom. You all may leave now"

We leave the tumultuous scene behind, our horses moving at a leisurely pace through the bustling market. Children dart around us, their laughter filling the air, while the crowd makes way for our slow procession.

Amidst the bustling town, I catch another person yelling ahead-—three men aggressively confronting someone in the open field where animals are domesticated.

My curiosity piqued, I urge my horse forward and, to my surprise, find Lady Blair accompanied by a child.

"Alden, do you see Lady Blair there, or am I the only one?" I inquire, hoping to draw his attention.

Alden, seemingly disinterested, retorts, "Why would she come to the town when she's surrounded by all the lavishness of the palace?"

"I'm serious, Alden, look over there," I insist.

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