A Fortunate Unfortunate

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I traveled restless and sleepless for days, stopping only to let my horse get some water and rest. I was exhausted, we were both exhausted and I pushed her, I made her carry me for days barely getting any proper food and rest. She was good, and she'd been my only company this whole time.

But I was spent, I'm worn out, I hadn't slept and ate nothing but wild fruits I managed to snatch on our journey. I drank from the river when I can. I was going to die on the road without ever reaching my sister in the southern kingdom of Wang.

I don't know how much further I have, I'm traveling out of instinct, staying out of sight. I don't know my way, and how to get there. I don't have a map and I was afraid to ask other travelers out of getting found out.

My only guide was the memory from my travels from when I was young. I needed to be careful, I knew the princess must have sent pursuers behind me by now. The longer it took to get to Ying Yue, the more dangerous this journey became.

I was spent, the world had turned blurry, I could no longer keep myself awake, I was delirious with mild delusions. My hunger and lack of sleep finally caught up when I blacked out in the middle of the day.

Everything went black and that was all I remembered. The next time I woke up, I was chained in a cage. The noises around me were loud, and the skittering footsteps of people told me it was a busy place. I lifted my head and glanced around, trying to see where I'm at when I realized I'm in a market.

My horse tied to a post granting me some relief, I was glad I haven't lost her. Then, I saw an older lady dressed in ragged clothing and matted grey hair tied in a messy bun. She looked like she smelled. She sat beside my cage and held a sign to her chest as she invited the busy people passing by.

Some stopped by to take a quick glance while others barely spared their time.

"Have a looksie, she's a beauty, you won't regret this one!" The old woman mused.

A woman paused out of curiosity and stared at me. She frowned, losing her interest instantly. "Meh, I'll have to worry more about my husband getting friendly with her more than anything. You can't trust a woman like that." And walked away.

The older woman sighed in a moment of defeat, then held the sign back up again.

I stretched my neck to see what the sign said when I read, for sale.

"For sale?" I murmured, lost in confusion until I realized I was the one for sale. I yanked myself, bent over the cage clearly smaller than me and rattled it loudly. "What do you think you're doing, old lady! Release me at once!" I demanded. "Do you know who you're dealing with? I am a noble, a daughter from the house of Yi! You are going to regret this!"

I grumbled breathless and angry, barely getting my breath in between each word I spat at her.

The woman dared ignored me as she pretended mute and unaware to my tantrum.

She caused my anger to explode searching for anything within my reach to hurl at her. Finally, I managed to put my hand on small pebbles to throw at her. I threw pebbles and dirt, getting them all over her robe and some in her hair, gaining her attention.

She whipped around, piercing eyes shooting at me. She picked up her whip that's been by her side and started slapping around the cage as if I'm a wild animal she's trying to tame. For an older woman, she can move around like she's still in her youth.

"Shut up, you worthless girl!" She snarled.

"Release me!" I hissed.

"Get back, slave!" She slapped her whip on the cage and I flinched around trying to avoid the tip from reaching me.

"A slave?" I said appalled. "I'll have you know, I'm a noble lady from the house of Yi. My family is very rich. As a matter of fact, my sister is the wife of the crown prince!" I snorted. "Take me to the palace at once and I'll have them grant you a reward."

The woman tossed her head back in laughter. "Do you realize how many people I enslaved, told me they're from a noble family?" She looked at me with her eyes wild. "Everyone of them tells me they came from a rich family, everyone has a story, and they'll reward me with money if I release them." She slapped the cage again and I ground my jaw losing the last inch of my patience with her. "Guess what! I don't give a shit. The next thing I know you're all gunnin' for my throat as soon as I open the cage."

"I'm telling the truth, you old wench!" I glared, "take me to the palace right now and the prince will reward you with money."

"No princess." She hissed. "The prince will more likely feed me to his demons if you really were a noble lady. Do you think, I will get away enslaving a noble?"

"No, you don't! That's why you best let me go right now."

She smacked the cage repeatedly with her whip that made me flinch and step back. "Shut your hole! You don't get to name demands, you entitled little runt. I am your master."

I wasn't nearly giving up yet. "Release me and you may have my horse!"

She turned her head over to my horse and smiled. "You mean that horse?" She said, her scrawny leathery finger pointed at my mare.

"Yes, she's my horse. She's a good breed, bred by breeders for nobles."

"She's a good breed alright." The woman admired my steed.

"Yes, and you can have her if you let me out of here. I won't ever say anything, I won't have my people after you. I'll let by gone be by gone if you let me out of here."

She laughed again. "How about no!... Afraid the horse is mine now, and you're about to make me some money too."

"Oh, you are so going to regret this!" I snarled and kicked the cage rattling it until a man dressed in fine clothing stopped and stared at me. We must've attracted his attention to all the ruckus we were creating. His eyes widened and his mouth fell open as though he just saw a ghost or couldn't believe at what he was seeing.

The man was clearly trying to determine whether I'm part of his hallucination or real.

I could tell immediately just by his posture, the shine of his silky hair tied neatly on the back of his head. His flawless skin that looked like it's well taken care of – that he's rich and he can afford to buy me.

I met his eye contact and leaned. My hands grabbed the bars and pressed my face in between the space. "You there, free me from this wicked wench!"

He blinked and rushed over with his long strides over to me. He gazed in complete bewilderment, he's handsome, not as handsome as my brothers but he was indeed a very good-looking man that I blushed and pushed away from him nervously.

"Ying Yue?" The man murmured.

"No, He Lian," I told him, relief found me when he said my sister's name. This man knew my sister and he could take me to her. "He Lian from the house of Yi. Ying Yue is my eldest sister. Please, take me to her."

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