Silas had grown stronger and stronger since that night by the fire several weeks ago. He now rode atop his pure black horse, Stardust as they walked along the coastal roads. To one side, they could see the sea as it beat against the rocks nearby and on the other were vineyards that stretched as far as the eye could see. They had been passing farmlands for the last couple of days, Noria being a major food producer for the region.
Over the last couple of weeks, he had grown the enjoy the company of Allison as they tried to piece together her memories. The mystery made the time go by quickly for Silas, keeping his mind off the fact that someone had tried to kill him on weeks prior. He had found her a beautiful white horse with a flowing gray mane.
"There a definitely places with worse views than this," he said to the woman riding beside him. He had always enjoyed the stretch of a journey before he was home. The warm sea air blew against them pleasantly as they rounded a corner. "You see there?" he said pointing at a spot further down the road. "That's Noria," he said. Before them, off in the distance, was a large city that sat right on the coast. Silas had always thought it one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but he was a bit bias.
His horse continued to trot slowly as they made their way closer and closer to home. She was a horse built for war, standing taller than other horse. Silas and the creature shared a bond with one another, built over the years they had spent together. He reached down and patted her neck causing the animal to give a soft snort.
Walking with Silas and his group was an enlightening experience. If not for herself, but for the world around her. Silas told her so much about how the country had grown, and how the Old Empire had become the main powerhouse within the continent, only to lose its support from city states declaring their independence. He also explained how magic worked, how it didn't come from the sun itself, but from the Shroud. That went against everything her mother had told her growing up. And to be honest, it scared her a little. Silas told her horror stories of people delving too deep within the Shroud and it making them go mad. To think, using her powers might make her do the same? Her powers, made of light and beauty, warmth and love, could drive her to the point of becoming a monster? It was unlikely.
Her friend had found her a horse, a lovely white mare with a gray mane. But she hardly ever rode the mount. She preferred to walk as much as possible, letting her bare feet feel the earth, grass, and water puddles in her toes. Only when she became too tired, or the road too difficult would she mount the mare and stroke its mane as they rode. It was nothing against the ride, she just felt so much more free when she could walk at her own pace (while still keeping up with the wagons of course).
As they rode/walked through the farm lands, Allison was less and less prone to riding, as the earth felt so much more cultured to her. The way it was farmed year after year bringing new life and growth with every season. It was different from the forest where it had been growing for centuries. This was new, fresh. It gave her a sense of life, and made her want to dance. As she walked, she plucked an apple from a tree and fed it to her horse, while throwing another to Silas to do the same to his steed should he so choose.
"Oh I agree," she replied to his comment about worse views. She'd seen some dark things in her days. From what memories she had, a lot of them were dark and filled with monsters. He would then point her attention to a city in the distance. She turned to look, gasping with awe. "Shiny! Oh wow. It looks so shiny!"
She turned to her mount and would push herself up, doing so with a grace not usually seen from a woman in a long dress such as hers. It was almost like she floated her way up there, but that was impossible wasn't it? Not without magic. But she'd shown no abilities that could influence air or flight even, so maybe she really was just that strong or trained to climb up there with such skill. She would pet the mane of the horse once again and then whisper something to it. The horse would start to rush forward as she gently kicked at its ribs.
"Come on, Silas!" she called back as they took off. "I want to get a closer look!"
Silas caught the apple, taking a bite from it before leaning over and giving the rest of it to Stardust who consumed the fruit in several loud, crunching bites. "Don't get used to it." he jokingly spoke to the horse. "She won't always be here to spoil you," he said, smiling at the woman as she climbed atop her own horse. She did so effortlessly, she had to have done a fair bit of writing before losing her memory.
Silas leaned back in the saddle, stretching his shoulders, taking in the warm spring day. He glanced over as Ali kicked the horse and it took off running. His grin widened as he continued on at the pace he was going, letting her get a bit ahead.
Stardust was a beast bred for power and speed. The other horse was a fine creature, but the stark black horse was on another level. "You ready?" he asked the horse before the horse took off down the dirt road, kicking up a cloud of dust as it tore down the path.
The wind rushed by him, coursing through the tangled mess of curly hair on his head. There was nothing quite like riding on the back of a charging horse. It felt as natural as walking to Silas. After a handful of seconds, they caught up to the woman and her horse. His horse matched the speed of the galloping horse beside it as the continued on towards the city.
Some twenty minutes later, they reached the city gates, having to slow down to pass the guards. When they recognized the Knight they took several steps to the side and waved them through.
It was still early, and he needed to speak with his father soon and give him a report of what had happened but a little time could be spared. "So what do you want to see first?" he asked looking to the red-haired woman. "There's the amphitheater, the markets, the docks...plenty to see," he said waiting for her response.
Allison laughed as Silas and his sword came to match their speed and she pushed her horse further. She didn't want to push the poor thing too much, but at the dame time she was more than happy to let the horse run without being held back, to truly run as it wanted. They ran for awhile, switching back and forth from full gallop to light trot, just enjoying the other's company. They'd move closer to the city where Allison's eyes filled with wonder and delight. It was such a beauty and she couldn't wait to explore it further. They entered the city with a slow pace while being waved on by the guards. She gave them a generous smile, always being friendly and welcoming.
Silas would ask her where she wanted to see first, and all of it sounded just as exciting. Thinking it over for a moment she would say, "Uh. Well...I don't have any money. So pass on the markets. Though pies and sugary treats sound wonderful. And the docks, well....the ocean sounds pretty too. But I think the amphitheater sounds the best. I'd like to see some of the culture and history of the people."
Silas chuckled, she was with one of the wealthiest men in the city, even if he didn't flaunt his families wealth. He bowed "Then the lady shall see the amphitheater." he said. One of his families servants was already walking towards them. Silas climbed from the back of his horse. He would offer the girl a hand down if she so chose it before handing the reigns of the warhorse to the servant. "The city is better on foot. Besides, Stardust gets cranky around the crowds, don't ya girl?" he asked, patting the horse's neck before leaning his head against hers. The large horse shifted, clearly uncomfortable with the crowded street.
The servant would take both horses back to his home in another district allowing them to explore the city. "This way," he said as he began to lead her through the streets as they made their way to their first stop. He would explain various sights as they made their way through the city before finally come to the amphitheater district.
It was far more than a simple amphitheater, though it did contain one at its center. It was a large open park, filled with trees and grass for anyone in the city to use. Various street vendors sold anything from small trinkets to food and there was more than a few people playing different instruments. In the distance, beyond some trees, the sound of a play could be heard. There was even a small carnival in town with games for the people to play. People were always moving in and out of the city, so you never really knew what you find here but it was usually pretty fun.
"Anything catch your eye?" he asked, turning to the woman.
Jumping down from the horse, the redhead allowed the servant to cart them away. She didn't think anything of it, simply that he was some stable boy or something of the like. Her escort would start leading her into the city then as he explained their horses were not best suited for this walk. She had no complaints; Allison loved walking. Though walking on all this cobblestone was not preferential to her feet. She kept walking on gravel rocks making her wince and groan. Yet, despite the pain, she still had a smile on her face as she looked over the sites.
When they got to the amphitheater that smile of hers only got wider. Her feet touched the warm grass and all of that pain was forgotten. The people sharing the park were each sharing their own little lives with one another, selling food, playing instruments, and all sorts of other activities with loved ones. Silas would ask her what caught her eyes and for a moment she didn't answer. She'd do a spin while turning about, her dress flowing around her as she moved.
"It's all just so shiny. I've...never seen anything so wonderful. All these people, coming together, living in harmony. I never imaged such a place could exist. And like, no one's fighting with one another." She stopped and looked at him. "You say there's been peace? With the Empire? For hundreds of years. It's...a miracle."
She spun around, Silas could have sworn the light around the edges of her dress bent and shimmered in the sunlight. He wasn't the only one who noticed. A young girl nearby also notice, clapping her hands "Oh pretty!" she exclaimed before being tugged away by her parents.
He smiled weakly "Well, people get along for the most part here. Of course, there is fighting and crime, but we have it better than most." he said. It was odd talking to someone who literally was a blank slate. Things that he just assumed everyone knew, Allison was totally oblivious too. How could he help her? He wanted to. He kept assuming one day they would wake up and she would simply remember everything but with each day that seemed more and more unlikely.
He could have told her more about the growing violence in the Empire, the growing tension building in the provinces but he enjoyed being in the presence of her innocence. Maybe she would remember before having to learn all over what a cruel place the world can be.
They moved through the crowd passing the stalls into a bald, squat man caught her eyes. He bowed deeply, "By the gods, I have never seen such beauty." he said standing up straight. He smiled at her, one of his front teeth missing. It gave him a genuine look as he smiled. "And Lord Hael." he said with another bow. "I am honored. Please take a look at my wares, these jewels came from the heart of the desert in Cathwa." he said opening a box of gleaming jewels attached to necklaces. The colors were bright and exotic looking.
"Well sure," she agreed. But that wasn't what she'd been talking about. As far as she could remember -which wasn't much if anything- she had lived in a place where people still fought over their lands. And there was no such higher power like an Empire controlling any sort of territory. To her knowledge, people lived in clans, their families, maybe another tribe of similar-minded people. But no Empire. Not like it was here.
Blushing a little the redhead gave the man a smile and tipped her head back at him since he'd bowed to her. Even with a missing tooth, she didn't see him as off putting at all. She was used to having people tell her what a beautiful woman she was. There was nothing ever insulting about it, or objectifying. She took it at face value and always appreciated the compliment. And, if possible, she tried to repay the favor. In this case, it took her a moment to find an appropriate compliment to return.
Their attention was then directed to the jewelry in front of them at the table and the girl quickly came up with her retort, "They are so shiny!" Simple. Easy.
Giving the gems a look over, Allison would bend as much as a trained lady was allowed to (which wasn't much) given her choice in attire. She picked a few up that she thought were stunning, listening to the prices he would list off (unless of course he expected her to barter for them because she wouldn't get sunk into that trap. Since she had no money of her own, she didn't expect to buy a thing). Her eyes were attracted mostly to the red and orange ones, though she couldn't fathom wearing them on an everyday basis. While she almost never changed her dress for the fact it was fire-proof, the same would have to be said about each and every jewel she bought. And enchanting rubies and the like was not a spell she knew how to do. Another thing that would likely cost a lot of money.
"Well thank you for letting us browse," she said gently while trying to back away. "I hope you are able to make a girl happy some day with them."
The merchant stopped and spoke about each piece that Allison showed even the slightest interest. He was not overbearing and was quite cheerful. Unfortunately, his efforts were in vain as the woman had no coins with which to buy.
As the woman backed away, the merchant turned his gaze to Silas and gave him a look that seemed to question if he was going to take the opportunity to buy one of the things she had shown interest, likely assuming their relationship was romantic in nature.
The old man raised a bushy eyebrow and Silas let out a sigh. "I'm not paying that much," he said stepping up to the table and picking up one of the necklaces Allison had picked up a moment ago, a silver chain with a bright red jewel pendant. It was a simple piece but was still quite beautiful. Silas and the man haggled for a moment. He could have afforded the man's original price, but he enjoyed the dance.
He picked up the necklace and turned back towards Allison. "Consider it a welcome to city present," he said with a smile. He would place around her neck and fasten if she didn't object.
"Where to now?" he asked letting her choose their path.
As Allison went to browse another booth, Silas it seemed would stay behind to grab that necklace which had previously drawn her eye. She wasn't oblivious to the act, but she secretly wanted Silas to win. She'd never admit that she wanted something, and having him spend it on her would not be the most honorable thing to do. He barely knew her. But she really really wanted it!
When Silas called her name, she turned around and feigned innocence, clasping her hand to her chest in awe. "Silas!? You didn't have to do that for me!" He then explained it was merely a welcome present and proceeded to clasp it for her behind her neck; she gracefully held her long red locks up and out of his way to do so. "It's so shiny," she said while rubbing the gem between her thumb and forefinger. "Thank you. Thank you so much."
Allison gave Silas a warm smile which made her cheeks darken ever slightly. She'd then start to move back away from the stalls so they could get back on their journey across town. "I don't suppose you'd want to head back to your home anytime soon? I'm sure you're dying to get back. You've been gone a long time, if I recall."