Chapter 44. I Mean No Harm (3)
The sky was slowly turning darker.
The pouch inside Calian’s inner pocket made a clunking noise as Calian peeked inside his jacket. I feel sort of guilty using a child’s hard-earned money, he thought for a moment; he figured that Old Calian wouldn’t be too mad at him since he was just using the money to ensure his survival.
In any case, Calian had to cross the river again now that he had bought a sword, which was his top priority. Calian went back the way he came and headed towards the bridge.
It didn’t take him long to get to the bridge that crossed the Ceignes River. However, a group of people in black who were gathered around the entrance of the bridge noticed Calian approaching and blocked the path. Raven slowed down into a halt.
“What’s wrong, Raven?”
Since Raven was so good at finding his way around, Calian was lost in thought about his next destination. He only looked up when Raven had stopped.
Only then did Calian notice the people in black. Alertness flashed across Calian’s face.
Thankfully, they weren’t some bandits with the nerve to take over the Royal Road of a prospering capital city. Calian, who had been thinking for a moment how he should draw the weapon that he had just bought, sighed in relief and faced the front.
The man who was standing at the front of the crowd approached Calian. “I’m terribly sorry to block the way.”
The black clothes that he wore was a funeral attire. His voice was hoarse from crying to the point where Calian could barely make out what he was saying. Even so, the man explained the situation with a very polite attitude.
“The deceased is passing the bridge right now. If you aren’t in a hurry, we would be most grateful if you could wait for a little while.”
Calian looked over at the Ceignes River. Small candles were placed on top of red annerucia flowers that were floating down the river. A small group of people were gathered around from where the flowers were lowered onto the river.
Calian finally understood what was happening. “A farewell ceremony?”
“Yes. I apologise for the inconvenience.”
Calian climbed down from Raven’s back right away. “I have no reason to block the journey of the deceased. You have nothing to apologise for.”
As Calian had guessed, he was at the site of a funeral ceremony traditional to Kailis. The mourners gathered next to the closest river to the deceased person’s home and floated candles down the river that will shine on the final path of their life. There was a belief, however, that if a living man crossed the river while the petals were still floating down the river, the deceased would try to follow the living and lose their way. Hence, during the ceremony, it was customary for the family of the deceased to ask those on the road not to cross the river.
Calian gazed at this solemn sight that he had come across by chance.
The flow of the Ceignes River was always calm; the annerucias also quietly floated down the river without rocking. The wind was silent tonight, so there was none to flicker the candlelights.
“They must be passing peacefully. My deepest condolences,” murmured Calian, almost subconsciously.
“Thank you,” the man answered sincerely. As a sign of thanks for stopping, getting off the horse, and even paying his respect for the deceased, the man bowed his head once again.
Calian recalled Secretia’s tradition where they place cinnastars, a flower that bloomed a second flower under the moonlight, on the grave. I wonder if Chase had placed cinnastars on my grave, or if he had turned the axis of time before having the chance to do so.
Calian’s thoughts were interrupted once again by the man. “You can go ahead now.”
The annerucias seemed to have completely passed under the bridge. Calian nodded and climbed onto Raven’s back.
In his gratefulness, the man wanted to see whose family the boy belonged to. The man looked up at Calian as he sat down on his horse and flinched. He hurriedly stepped out of the way.
The magic light posts that lined the Royal Road was bright. It was more than enough to clearly show the face hidden underneath the robe.
Calian noticed that the man had realised who he was. He said in a subdued voice, “Do not keep this in your memory.”
The man bowed, and Calian slowly crossed the bridge.
When the man straightened his head once again, he stared at Calian’s back for a long time. A group of other people in black clothes approached the man.
“What’s wrong, Arsen? Was it someone you knew?”
The man—Arsen Hertz—shook his head. “No. He just seemed like a kind person, that’s all.”
The candlelights, which were now quite far away, flickered ever so slightly.
* * *
The sun completely sank below the horizon and darkness settled. Since Calian’s next destination could be visited regardless of how late it was, Calian looked around at a leisurely pace.
“This city really is big on Sispanian,” muttered Calian. He recalled a comment from a spy who went by the code name Blue Warbler.
— The capital city, Kailisys, almost seems like a place solely for admirers of Sispanian. Her presence is evident all over the city.
The host of yesterday’s horseback riding show had also mentioned Hatsua and Sispanian. Now, in front of him, were rows of stores that borrowed Sispanian’s name: a hotel called “Sispanian’s Slumber”, a cafe called “Sispanian’s Break”, and even a restaurant called “Sispanian’s Meal”.
Calian sighed in defeat. “It really feels like they’re overdoing it. I can’t imagine a meal of a dragon being appetising.”
A hollow laugh spilled out when he saw a pub named “Sispanian’s Strong Scent of Alcohol” in the corner of the street. Most other shops seemed very normal in comparison.
After travelling for a little while, a sign reading “Nieransha Street” appeared. Calian’s second destination was on this street. He immediately hardened his face and entered the street, fiddling with his knife.
Kailisys’ Western Market was on this street.
Since it was getting late, most shops were closed for the day; only late-night restaurants, pubs, and cafes were lit up. However, Calian passed by all of them without hesitation as they weren’t where Calian was headed towards.