The Rescue of Her
By Nicole Marcina
Date: July 29, 2022
Ch. 3Two

Immediately, I handed my pass without saying a word. Both of them looked at me suspiciously as the other one opened and read my travel pass. After a while, the guard remarked, "So, you're an apprentice of the pier manager." He folded the letter as he turned back to me, "I didn't know that Western Wind also had apprentices for pier caretakers."

"Hm, Western Wind must be taking their trades very seriously now," the other one entered the conversation. He added as the pass was returned to me, "Although, it is a bit odd that they suddenly had an apprenticeship for a simple position." He stepped closer to me, towering over me with his gigantic physique.

"That's enough for you," his colleague put a hand on his shoulder, pulling him back. He continued, "Let us not threaten the man. He's only here by instructions." He looked at me and said, "Forgive him, sir. He's easily suspicious of every person he comes across. I hope he doesn't give a total impression of how things are handled in this country."

I shook my head, not wanting to speak. I could easily lower my voice to make it unrecognizable. However, that was too much of a risk and it was best that I kept my mouth shut.

Baffled, he asked, "You don't talk that much, do you?"

I nodded.

"He's not speaking because he's hiding something," the other guard sneered as he approached us. He stepped in front of me again, causing me to step back. He continued, "What are you hiding, huh? Who really sent you here? Were you sent here to spy on us?"

"Would you calm down?" his colleague pulled him again once more, irritated. Facing him, he continued, "Just because he hasn't said a single word, that doesn't mean he's already a spy. For all we know, he could be a mute."

"And you're falling for that? What if it's all a facade and his presence will be the cause of disaster in our kingdom?" the other guard argued.

Letting out a sigh, the kind guard returned to me. "Again, my deepest apologies for his actions. Please, don't take it as him being offensive towards you. We're only following instructions from the crown, which is to ensure the safety of our borders," he explained.

I nodded once again.

He then stepped back, pulling the rude guard with him. "Kindly proceed, sir. Have a good day."

I nodded at him as I slowly walked past them. For a bit, I turned my head to his colleague before completely walking away. I understood that they had their own protocol when it came to accepting imported goods. However, he should change his approach. That kind of attitude would turn off possible trading partners. That approach should only be applied to those who are proud, hard-headed or simply had bad intentions.

I also felt sorry for his companion. I couldn't imagine the amount of circumstances where he had to apologize for his fellow guard's actions. I could only hope that he would be partnered with someone else and for the other to change how he handled every situation at the pier.

I looked around and stood at the side for a moment to assess my next step. As much as I wanted to find a place to stay, I couldn't simply disappear from the pier. According to my travel papers, I was here as an apprentice, to learn the rules of trade. I wanted to rest but if I vanished into thin air, that arrogant guard might start a manhunt for me. And that would cause unwanted attention.

I left Wonder on the side and approached a group of men who were arranging crates. They would label them and sort them into groups after they were brought down from the ship.

I lowered my voice and deepened it as I greeted, "Good morning, gentlemen."

They turned to me, baffled. One of them asked, "Good morning, sir. Do we know you?"

Not wanting a long explanation, I grabbed my travel pass and handed it over to them.

The man took it and read it quickly. "Ah, you're the apprentice the office announced before departure," he replied before returning the pass to me. He continued, lending his hand out for a shake, "It's a pleasure to meet you, Sir Ledoras."

I nodded as I shook hands with him.

"Gentlemen," he turned to his group as he pulled his hand back. "Kindly greet Sir Ledoras here. He's the apprentice the pier sent to observe our trade."

Immediately, his men stopped with what they were doing and bowed towards me.

"Thank you, gentlemen. You may proceed," I replied. They returned to their task and I turned back to the other fellow. I asked, "Seeing that I'm new to this sort of thing, may you explain to me what it is you're doing?"

"Yes, of course. Western Wind has always been a good source of lumber. Given that the kingdom of Middle Earth has been the blessed one with resources, our kingdom still takes precedent in lumber," he started. "These crates," he then pointed at all the wooden boxes around us, "They carry some of the finest and strongest wood in all kingdoms. Most of the time, every realm requests lumber from Middle Earth. But because Western Wind and Eastern Sun are well-connected, Eastern Sun has been supporting the lumber trade of our monarchy."

I nodded, taking in the information. But whilst he explained the trade of lumber, I was keeping my eye out on the guards. I already learned our trade when I was stuck in my classes. However, I needed to bear another history lesson in order to wait for the guards to leave.

Once the man stopped his long explanation, I then answered, "Thank you for telling me everything. But with so much information, I believe my brain hasn't caught everything. Which is why I would need to ask for apologies if I ask something you already explained."

He chuckled. "That's quite all right, sir. When I first entered this business, I also had so many questions. Too many to count, to be honest. And I'm quite certain that my questions will be a lot more redundant than yours," he remarked, which made us share a laugh.

"Thank you for understanding. I may be an apprentice but it would seem that I will truly learn about everything once I'm involved in the actual task itself," I said.

"Quite true, sir."

I then asked, "When we export goods to Eastern Sun, do we immediately return to our kingdom? Or do we stay for quite some time? We unloaded so many crates and I believe there's still more up in the ship. It can take us the whole day to empty all the imported cargo."

He sighed, looking at the ship before returning to me. He said, "It doesn't just take a day for us, sir. Actually, it takes a day or two because the crew still sorts everything before it's brought down here. Then we'll have to organize it once it's brought down. Then we will have to transport it ourselves to the storage houses."

I froze upon what I heard. I didn't expect to hear all of that. I asked another, "Does that mean that it can take you a whole week to secure the trade?"

"There were moments that took an even longer time. Either it's because of the weather, misunderstanding from both piers or miscalculation of the amount," he answered. He continued, "With all due respect, sir, we work hard to the point that our health has been overlooked. Countless incidents of bones broken, high fevers and life-threatening situations, all because our work is made complicated. But we couldn't do anything about it."

"Have you talked to our monarchs? Maybe they can speak with the royal family of Eastern Sun to make the trade lighter, faster, more efficient and less time-consuming," I replied.

"We've sent many proposals to our monarchy. But they always fell on dead ears and blinds eyes. As for Eastern Sun, from the very beginning, they have always secured goods from different kingdoms. It's just that for quite some time now, the guards have doubled security with imported materials," he explained.

"Have they mentioned why?"

He shook his head. "The only thing that they said is that the Crowned Prince here demands quality of goods. Especially when the royal palace here is being reconstructed," he said. He continued, "I also heard that he's building a new castle somewhere. I haven't confirmed anything. However, gossip spread faster than light and they sometimes turn to be true."

He added as he stepped closer to me, "There's also another rumor where some sort of spies were able to enter the kingdom without a trace. I heard the Crowned Prince here wasn't pleased with the thought of being watched so that's why he added security all throughout the entry points to their kingdom. But like I said,that was only a rumour and was never proven to be true."

I nodded slowly as I held back a chuckle. In the end, Benjamin still had something to fear. It was a good thing that he feared other things such as James' wrath. But unfortunately, that wasn't enough for him to stop with his lunacy. In fact, I believed that it enraged him even more, driving him to the point of madness where he was acting based on impulse and not in his proper thinking. And that would make him even more dangerous. Not just for me but for someone as helpless as Laura.

I could only hope that I still had more time to save her.

"What's going on down there?"

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