The many towers of Royce protruded through the thick haze. Uniquely, the fumes were descending, rather than surging, to the grand maximum. The reflection it let off, by the sunlight, brought an awesome sheen to all of the silvery doves in the Kingdom's aerial. Several colorful things floated past the towers, into the vast sky. Amazingly, as the mist parted ahead of the cart, a deep drop could be seen up some ways on the right side. A small, secured brick-wall was built along it, in an attempt to cutoff the unwanted. The grass, glossy with dew, produced more spirit than any other region Teiy had visited beforehand.
Teiy stared in awe at the wonder around him, “This...”
Lyez propped up, and stretched, “It must be some spectacle for you! I can remember how amazing my first sight of this place was. Even still, there’s other places that feed even more eye-candy than old Royce.”
“This... the features of this land are just unreal. I mean, how can this cliff exist so near to the flat plains? I've never heard about a cliff near here!”
“Don't ask me.” Lyez laughed and looked up to the left, examining the hillside covered in pink trees.
“I bet the others...”
“I'm sorry if this offends you Teiy, but I have to ask... what happened exactly to the 'others' you were with?”
Teiy jarred, then calmed back to his previous posture. “It... it must have been during the night. Two of my companions, French knights, slept on-top of the wagon-bed's leather-housing. The other, Gladius, slept by the campfire. I slept under the cart, wrapped in a sheet...”
“You all slept outside.”
“Then we, or I, awoke. The bedding by the campfire was torn, and... and the others in the cart... dismembered.”
“Them! You shouldn't have stayed out!”
“Yea... they -”
“Teiy, do you know of whom I speak?”
“The Livid Eaters.”
“Yes, I’ve only seen the blur of one in the past. They're said to be colored of utterly, metallic-white. Their body is also said -”
White... p- pale... the woven pine. It was -
“- to be sensitive to any form of light or flame... you mean you didn't even know of their existence at all? Where did you say you were from, again?”
- a monster. “... Ager.”
“That village must be out of the way for you to not have even heard of them before.”
“You mean to say that monsters tore them apart?”
“Sadly, yes, that's the world we live in. Don't go out in the dark without some backup, and a lot of light. Period!”
“That's never been part of daily life before. No, it never was...”
Teiy once again gazed to the castle, above the grounded sea of clouds. Its green banners, and flags, blew freely in the high wind. The cliff was to their side, past the wall fortification. Ahead, to no surprise, a large amount of carriers of different shapes and sizes rode about an intersection of road leading to Royce, and the other four citadels nearby. Although, if Builth did indeed exist, maybe there were more cities than five all along. Either way, Teiy would stop at this place to see for himself, and to fulfill his greedy desire of attending its inner glory.
Teiy halted the cart at the boundary of the massive crossing. The trail broke off into five separate directions, the one they arrived from being the least popular as it lead out of the five citadel's substantial marketing-zones. That lack of competition is what, notably, led to the success of Wikleyt and Mundi's arms trade. By the former directions of Builth's spot, it would only make sense for it to be located within Royce's expansive layout... which would be impossible.
Lyez pointed to the left-most, break-off point, “Don't be intimidated by these other carts. Go that way. There's a sign a little ways up there too, if you can see it from here.”
“It's fine. I'll trust you.”
The wagon began motion, and its movement, and speed, timed specifically to the others riding the road along-side it. The wide turn across the massive, center passing was far more complicated than any-one maneuver Teiy managed in the past. The other, self-assured riders rode at top speed without a single worry in the world. One acted this way at the wrong time.
Lyez pulled the reigns from Teiy's grasp. “Left! More!”
The horses turned in time to avoid any collision, but the cart did not. The wagon collided with the speeding character. The jolt thrashed their bodies backwards, as the horses wailed in terror.
“What in the world? You assholes!” The man hopped from his cart, and checked the side for damages. “My wheel! You broke my wheel! You little turd!” The man reached for Teiy, only to be obstructed by a lengthy spear.
Teiy's eyes broadened, “A.. spear?”
Lyez hunched over, somewhat within the cargo-bed, and held the spear firmly. “Calm down! We're going to handle this, understand?”
The man backed off. “H- hey! Your acting like I’m the loon! That boy is the foolish one! Stupid, but lucky to have one such as yourself! I mean no trouble with Royce's guard, but do something about this damned wheel! And fast!”
Lyez scratched his head, and looked side-to-side, keeping the spear at bay. “I...”
Teiy gulped, “We have a spare, but it was -”
The man clenched his hands, “Gimme' then!”
“It was designed with our wagon's structure in mind.”
A voice carried from the left, “Hey! What's with the stoppage?”
Lyez stood fixed, “Teiy, just give him the wheel and let's go. I'll give him a payment as-well.” Lyez looked unto the sorry trader, “Forgive us, but the best we can do is to repay the damage and lend a false wheel to help you for the time being.”
Teiy twisted to the tarp covering, noticing a tear where Lyez made his stand. He ignored the miniscule concern, and looked through the freshly made hole. Blades and armour filled most of the cargo, but the wheel could be seen under a broad, iron axe. Teiy strained through the gap, and reached with all he had to him. Contact! Pulling his shoulders back to alignment, the wheel slowly slid from under the hefty supplies. Once it was finally on its own, Teiy removed it from the darkened internals of the wagon-bed.
“Hand it to me Teiy.” The oaken roller met Lyez's hand, and he kneeled off the wagon's right side. “Here, take it guy! I have the payment on my sash!”
Another voice toted loudly, “Get a move on!”
The merchant took the wheel, and then the bag of coins. Before returning from whence he came, he examined the amount. “You call this a modest payment! How about 50 gold coins?”
“What I’ve given you is plenty! You'll buy a new wheel, after selling that spare, and buy yourself a fine, few meals with that. Good day!”
“Humph!” The man pouted while retuning to his wagon.
The journey, thankfully, proceeded.
Nearby, “Finally! I thought those children would take all day!”
“They sure do know how to get themselves in a rough spot!”
Teiy cringed in shame, and tears curved over his cheeks.
Lyez patted his shoulder, “Things happen. That guy just ran into the best luck he had all day. Did you see the damage to his wheel compared to our offerings? He's fine! You should be too!”
Teiy wiped his arm across his eyes, “So much has gone wrong... and you had to pay for -”
“Never-mind that, and you have to be strong! You're going to be a knight one day right?”
“No, I only wanted to be a blacksmith.”
“A smith? Then why are you guarding this cart in the first place?”
“I wasn't. Problems brewed at the shop, and I was assigned as the driver, and Gladius as the 'knight'.”
“What do you intend to achieve as a smith?”
“One day... what you'd expect.”
“Greatest in the world? Well the craft of the weapon, itself, is getting less and less important these days.”
Teiy burst to laughter, “I swear, you must be mad.”
“I'm just speaking the truth!”
“'Truth!' Yea right!”
The small dividing woodland, between the trails, blocked out nearly all of the view of the brilliant city. The tips of its towers, and their flags, were still visible nonetheless. Its size ceased to disappoint. There must be thousands of people who live in such a place as that. These trails, alone, were more populated than all of Ager. The life Teiy led before started to seem increasingly irrelevant. So many people.
“Lyez, how long do you think 'til we finally reach Royce?”
“We're already within its territory. All there is to do now, is to head for the one of the main gates.”
“One of them?”
“Teiy, you have much to observe! Royce is a monumental place! Yet, you'll need to deal with that shipment first I’d chance.”
“Finding Gladius won't be any simple task, if he is to even be found at all... But losing the majority of this load would be nice. What do you plan to do when we reach there?”
“I won't be needing to do anything, in particular, until tomorrow. I can join you on your endeavor through the city, 'til dark hours overshadow.”
Teiy beamed from hearing that appeasing remark. He was no warrior, no salesman, simply a smith's apprentice. Teiy didn't wish for conflict, but to be with those he could put faith in. The destination of Builth had officially receded in his mind, but his knowledge of England, and his view on the world, fixed firm within his senses.
The trail's end bore a lofty hill to the left, overlapping the surface. While several others cruised in the wagon's proximity, there wasn't enough people to make their wait any longer. Around the bend to the left, a soaring wall of silver, green, and gold came to perspective. The wall curved out from inside the city, and three tall entree-ways stayed unsealed. At the tip of each, the ends of ginormous bars protruded enough to be remarked.
Lyez hollered and hooted, “Any gate will do, Teiy! Is Royce an admirable place! No other city has architecture on par with our great city!”
Teiy felt uneasy about this place. A great deal of merchants would be arriving before him, yet many presumably weren't dealing with the King himself. That thought didn't seem right. Builth had no King, yet did have a ruler of some fashion. The ruler of Royce, which had taken Builth's place, is known as “King”, while staying in the the Kingdom of England. Nothing seemed to fit.
Teiy searched around frantically for any possible sign of his old companion. The cart approached closer to the front gates. From the look of it, there was another checking place there. Although, this time, Teiy didn't feel too worried. Lyez seemed to show no worry of any such encounter, either. The jam of carts, and the constant influx, meant check-ins had to be quick, if at all necessary.
They would be next.
A guard brandished his arm, whilst lifting a spear cloaked with a green flag. “Next!”
They rode beside the man, and he seemed to notice Lyez's place in the castle.
“I see you're a guard yourself? And what business do you two have in Royce?”
Teiy realized saying he had business with the “King” would require an entire check of the wagon most-likely... but there would be no easier chance to get straight to the King.
Lyez lifted his arm, “Hay' ho! We're bringing in a weapon shipment -”
Teiy butted in, “- for the King. He paid for a large supply of weapons and armour for the warriors of this place.”
Lyez's mouth dropped in bewilderment.
The man glanced at the carts size and bent over in hilarity. “'Large'?”
Teiy wasn't surprised at this response, seeing that the place in question was undoubtedly preponderant than previously thought... but that didn't change the facts. “That was what this shipment was entitled for. So be it if it makes no sense, what-so-ever.”
The man smiled, and wiped a tear before continuing. “Just wait around the bend of the gate. I'll see what you got, then you can head straight to the Royal Courtyard if you wish.”
Maybe the chest wouldn't be such a bad inclusion this time 'round. The weapons forged for this place, alone, wouldn't seem fit-able for a King, but that chest of diamond! Would any guard mess in the affairs of a King? There really was nothing to fear. There was no key to open Pandora’s Box. Nothing to fear, but the King. He would be dealing with a King, in a King's court.
A man, in a green cape, ran to the occasion and whispered into the guard's ear. “What? I have to do all this myself! You tell that son-of-a-bitch captain to get someone else down here to help me with this traffic!”
“Quiet you fool! He's right over there!”
The guard shook Teiy's wagon alee, “Just go! I don't have time for this!”
Was good luck like that helpful, but what a foolish guard he must be. Letting two men with a deal, straight to the King, right through the gates, without but a glance.
Teiy tapped Lyez, “Do you know where the courtyard is?”
“The shipment is for the King?”
“I didn't mention it before, but that's who it's for. 'The Ruler of Builth.' And at the moment, I will treat Royce as such.”
“Okay, then just go straight from here... but that's the last thing I’d expect!”
An infinite amount of people trekked a plentiful number of buildings, and shops. There were many split-offs after a certain amount of stores, that led into a maze of opportunity to be found. No spot was unfilled, colors of clothing made a rainbow about the path. White doves, and gulls, scanned for food atop the copious, jutting signs. A peculiar gull kept its focus on Teiy, before fluttering overhead. No time to think, Teiy hauled his helm below the stink-bomb, and thwarted its repulsiveness. The black and white marks left a disgusting sight to behold. Teiy flicked the helm's side, and was unimpressed with its quality. He flung it in the back.
Lyez caught interest in Teiy's sudden, broad motion. “What was that?”
“No worries, where to next?”
“Alright, still straight some ways.”
“I've never spoken to a King, if he even is a 'King'.”
“Nervous? And of course he's a King!”
“What about England... E - n - g – land!”
“What about it?”
“My - where do we sit atop of?”
“What do you mean?”
“The citadel is Royce, but what is the land?”
“Do you know anything at all Teiy? Nori.”
“No – Ri.”
“You know what, I really need to have a chat with this 'King' of yours. Maybe I’ll wake him up.”
“Watch your words around these demonstrators -”
“- and make a right.”
The heads grew less populous at the great lift of this turn. The solid, upward slope brought them to a second level of the city. Far to the left, on this new level, a large gateway shone beyond all else with its gold embellishments.
“You know, I’ve never spoken to a King either.”