After spending two days in the library looking into old magics, strange religions and many much more boring topics Cobal finally snapped. “I can’t do this anymore, I give up.” He proclaimed rather loudly in the middle of the archives. He looked at Mana. “I’m bored.”
“Well, we have been cooped up in here for quite a while now, I wouldn’t be opposed to a little break.”
Kimi had given up ages ago and was instead entertaining the palace staff with music somewhere out of sight so it was just the two of us.
“You’ve not been into town at all yet, have you?” Cobal suddenly remembered.
Mana shook her head. “We went straight to the palace when we arrived and I’ve not really left the palace since.”
“That decides that then, let’s go into town so you can see the city for yourself.”
Mana smiled. “Sounds good to me. I’m kind of curious about what the culture is like here. I’ve talked a lot about strange things from my world since I got here, but maybe there’s some strange things from your world that I’ve never heard of.” She stretched her arms, her long hair falling over her shoulders. Cobal had noticed she’d not really cut it short since she got here, so it was a lot longer now than when she was summoned here.
So after putting away the books they’d been going through they made their way to the palace gates. The first hurdle was convincing the guards stationed there that they didn’t need someone to guard them on their outing into town.
“With all due respect, your highness, we cannot let you leave without sending at least one guard with you. After the recent unrest it’s just not safe for you to be out without protection.”
“What’s your name?” Cobal asked the guard.
“Wilhem, your highness.”
“Wilhem, did you know that I just returned from a long journey?”
The guard nodded. “I am aware, your highness.”
“Did I have a guard with me on that journey?” Cobal asked him.
The man shook his head. “Things have changed since your journey. The guard captain has instructed us to not let you leave the palace without a proper guard.”
“Well the guard captain isn’t here right now so you can just look the other way for a change, right?”
“But I’m right here, Cobal.” A familiar voice rang from a little ways behind him.
“Ugh,” Cobal went.
“Good to see you too,” the voice replied to his annoyance.
“I didn’t expect to see you here, Rovart.” Cobal turned around and gave his most fake smile.
The guard captain ignored him and instead turned to face Mana. “You must be the hero everyone keeps talking about, I don’t believe we’ve met yet.”
Mana nodded. “I am Mana, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“Rovart Gramen, captain of the guard here in Saphestan. It’s an honor to meet you.”
He looked past her at the gate guard. “What seems to be the problem here?”
“Sir, the prince wants to leave the palace without a proper escort. I’ve been trying to convince him that he needs to take a guard with him.”
“Very good Wilhem, it’s important to stand your ground, even when they use their status to try and outrank you.” He looked at Mana and grinned. Mana smiled back. Cobal was less amused, but he wasn’t as annoyed as he pretended to be. Rovart always did this. There were very few people in the palace who were as unbothered by status as Rovart was. He would always say that his job was to keep the royals safe, not to keep their feelings unharmed. And to his credit, the palace was a very safe place. Until Sapher vanished, but that could hardly be blamed on the guard.
“Dylon, come over here,” Rovart yelled at a guard in the distance. The older looking guard came walking over. He looked to be in his early fifties, built like a tree trunk but with very kind eyes and a bright smile. “What can I do for you, sir?” He said as he walked up.
“Cobal wants to head into town, would you be so kind as to accompany them so they stay out of trouble?”
Dylon looked over at Cobal. “Certainly, I’ll be right at your side, your highness.”
Cobal recognised the guard, who had been at the palace since he was just a child. He never really talked with the man, but he remembered the guard being around.
He let out a deep sigh. “Very well then, we’ll take a guard with us if you insist.”
Rovart smiled. “That’s what I like to hear. Enjoy your outing,” he said as he walked off.
Cobal and Mana looked at Dylon.
“Whenever you’re ready, your highness,” the guard said with eagerness in his voice.
Cobal let out a deep sigh. “Let’s go then.”
Mana just smiled and nodded at the guard who stood there a little bit awkwardly as if he was intruding on something he shouldn’t intrude on. The trio left down the winding path from the palace and into the town of Saphestan.
“Let’s first have a stop at the local tailor. I know you already had your dress measured but it’s the place where it was made, so maybe it’s nice to have a look inside.” Cobal suggested.
“You mean the place where your mother used to work, before she became the queen?”
“I’d love to see that,” Mana responded excitedly.
Cobal had expected her to want to see the place, so he’d already started in that direction. They were pretty close at this point and a few moments later they found the small square where his mother’s old tailor was located. Saphestan had a large central square, which was close to the jewelry store where Selvia worked at, as well as many smaller squares throughout the town. Each of these squares had a bunch of shops and often a tavern present. The square where they had to be right now was closest to the noble district and it contained some more expensive stores. There were two tailors here as well as two jewelry stores and even a small bookstore. A lot of common folk either couldn’t read at all, or only knew the basics, so reading expensive books had become a luxury.
“Look at that fountain, that looks gorgeous,” Mana exclaimed. Cobal looked over to see a statue of a mermaid. “Ah, that’s actually one of my ancestors.”
Mana gave him a look of distrust and he chuckled. “The story is that the first king of Blueyerd married a mermaid girl who gave up her tail to be able to live with him on the land. Most people think it’s just a story that the king told people, but who knows.”
“Oh, that sounds very similar to a children’s tale in my old world. It’s where a witch gives a mermaid legs but takes away her voice. It’s a very good story and the witch is a half octopus, half human and very creepy.”
“I see, and you say this is a children’s tale?” Cobal asked, he looked at Dylon who shrugged.
“A lot of our children’s stories are loosely based on scary stories. They’ve been made a lot more tame over the years but the core elements of the story are still freaky. Either way, the girl on that fountain looks similar to her, do you know what her hair is supposed to look like?”
“I think it’s green like seaweed.” Dylon said from next to Cobal.
“The one in our stories had red hair.” Mana looked around. “Is that the building we’re looking for?”
Cobal nodded. “The Silver Thread Tailor.” He looked at Mana. “Let’s go inside, shall we?”
Cobal didn’t come here often, but whenever there was an extra important gathering at the palace his mother would send him here for a custom outfit. He wasn’t big on clothes, didn’t care for them as much as his mother and sister did, but the men and women working at the Silver Thread Tailor were all very nice and it felt homely whenever he visited so he didn’t mind. The store hadn’t changed at all since the last time he visited. The counter was in the center of the building with racks of clothes placed strategically throughout the floor. In the back was a door that led to the workplace behind where they did all the custom changes. Behind the counter stood Marze, the shop’s owner. She took over after his mother moved into the palace, so she’d been working there for a very long time at this point. “Prince Cobal, what a pleasure to see you.” She looked at Mana. “Oh aren’t you gorgeous, who might you be?” The lady walked up from behind the counter and strode straight up to Mana.
“I am Mana, a friend of Cobal.”
She gave Cobal a look.
“Not like that Marze,” Cobal replied, letting out a deep sigh.
Marze grinned. “She’s far too regal for you anyway,” she said. Perhaps you’ll find a nice suitor at the upcoming ball instead.
Cobal chuckled. “You know about everything, don’t you.”
“But of course darling, that’s my job. I know about every party, ball or meeting that takes place in this town. If it’s of importance, people will come to me for their tailoring.”
“And rightfully so,” Cobal said.
She stepped past Cobal and Mana to Dylon. “You wear your guard outfit well but I could adjust it so it fits you even better,” she said, feeling the guard’s shoulders.
“No flirting with my personal guard Marze, what would your husband say?”
She puffed. “That ol’ bastard probably wouldn’t even wake up from his nap for this.”
She twirled around them and briskly walked back to the counter. “Now, how can I be of service to you all today?”
“Actually, we’re just here to look around a bit today. Mana’s clothes for the upcoming ball have already been tailored at the palace, but since we talked to my mother the other day, Mana was curious about what her old workplace looked like.”
“I see, I see, would you like a tour of the place?”
“I would like that very much,” Mana replied.
Marze looked at Cobal. “You boys wait here while I show her the workplace.”
Cobal nodded. He sat down next to a short man who had so far just been eyeing them from the corner. “Are you a new employee here?” he asked him.
The man nodded. “I am, your highness. My name is Markus and I started my apprenticeship here last summer.”
“How is it so far?”
“It’s busy work but you get to make clothes for a lot of important people.” He blushed. “Well, I don’t get to make too many yet, of course, but it is interesting to see how many rich folk come here.”
Cobal nodded. “The place has a good reputation after all.”
“I’ve never been here before, your highness,” Dylon admitted.
“And, what do you think?” He could hear Marze from the back of the building, excitedly talking to Mana about some fabric or another.
“It’s an impressive establishment, looking at the clothes on display here there must be a lot of money being made every day.”
Cobal nodded. “If you ever want to become rich, quit being a soldier and learn how to make a nice shirt. Isn’t that right Markus?”
Markus awkwardly nodded. “It certainly is a good way to make money, but you do need to be very good at making clothes to get rich.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Dylon said. He looked up and Cobal noticed Mana and Marze walking back as well.
“If you ever need something specific made, please let me know. I would love to talk about clothing trends in your world whenever you have time.”
“Don’t go stealing her from me Marze.” Cobal said.
She ignored him. After they talked for a little more, the three of them left the tailor.