As Cally walked through Dregs Hollow, she found pretending that everything was business as usual to be of the utmost difficulty because she felt elated about her endeavor with Derrick. The more she thought about it, the more she realzied that she didn’t belong there, and she couldn’t wait to figure out where she came from. She really believed that Reisseck was hiding something now, she had never really seen him nervous until she brought up her true origin. When she originally learned of this betrayl, it frightened her at first, for the world she knew fell apart in an instant. At this point, she thought that her life had never really been put together in the first place. She couldn’t wait to see what laid ahead in the next chapter of her life, so it wasn’t easy for her to pretend to have angst about going to work. She also disliked having to transfigure herself each night knowing how she looked beneath the blemishes! Just as her thoughts had drifted to that very subject, she felt the potion fading, so she hid her face as discretely as she could while trying not to draw too much attention to herself as she left the village gates.
Once she got far enough away from the prying eyes that lurked about Dregs Hollow, she took off her hood as she walked down the path. The fresh air felt good as it combined through her hair. She wore that hood so much that almost no one knew she was a brunette! Actually, she had almost forgetten what it looked like! She thought her hair had a darker hue to it, but maybe she reached that opinion simply due to the insufficient lighting of their cavern abode. Her rapture only got heightened by the thought that she could roam freely in Bohemma that day. Most of the time, if Reisseck had her run an errand there, she didn’t linger long because she feared people discovering her deformities, which was also why she never ventured there when she had time off. She realized that today she could explore the city as a completely normal human being, and that just felt incredible to her!
It felt strange to pass Camellia’s Circus and not head to the employee’s entrance, but she felt such relief as she headed away from that horrid metal fence! She began to see Derrick in the distance, and the closer she got, the more her heart fluttered! Up until now, this plan still seemed like a fantasy, but now it felt real! As she neared him, she could see his smile grow too, so she knew that this journey had a shared sense of enthusiasm for both of them. When they got into the same vicinity as each other, Derrick greeted her, “Hello there!”
“Hi!” After she had voiced that, she noticed that his horse stood behind him. “Oh, are we riding into Bohemma?”
“Well, of course, why wouldn’t…?” He trailed off as something occurred to him. “You’ve never ridden a horse before.”
“No, but I’ve always wanted to.” She had meant that, but as she got closer, she became a little intimidated. She had seen Derrick bring his steed close to the employee’s entrance of her work, but it never really registered to her just how large in size the creature had been! She always found these animals to be so beautiful, especially this one because of its snow white fur, so she never realized how much damage that these creatures could do if they really wanted to!
“Don’t feel nervous!” Derrick gently advised. “Oriane is the sweetest horse in Barlock’s stables! I always borrow her during my visits. Actually, she’s the king’s personal favorite, and since we need him in one piece, obviously she’s not vicious.” Cally softly chuckled. “Why don’t you get to know her a bit before we hop on.”
“Okay.” Cally took a deep breath and approached the horse carefully. She found it helpful to know that both King Henrick and Derrick rode this one a lot, obviously, she was very good with people. She held out her hand, and after Oriane sniffed it a bit, she bowed her head for her to pet her. Cally did so gladly, and she noted the look of serenity on the horse’s face as she savored the attention, which made Cally smile broadly. “She is really sweet!”
“Told you!” Derrick grinned. He touched the horses reins in a way that made her kneel down, and after he mounted her, he regarded Cally, “Don’t worry, she does most of the work.” He held out his hand to help Cally get on, which she did with slight trepidation at first. Once she slipped on, she noticed how close she was to Derrick and practically blushed. Derrick instructed, “Hold on to my waist.” Now she felt sure her face had gone red as she wrapped her arms around him. Derrick motioned for the horse to rise, and even though she had been a little scared, she got a little excited now that they were about to take off. It forcibly reminded her of the children at Camellia’s Circus who tried an amusement ride for the first time. Derrick announced, “And away we go!” He made a signal to Oriane, and they galloped off!
Cally couldn’t believe how much fun she had traveling by horseback! The rush of speed flew over her body as though she were flying! The fact they were quickly getting away from Dregs Hollow just enhanced the whole experience, not to mention the warmth she felt from his body! If they didn’t have such important work to do in Bohemma, she wouldn’t want the experience to end! When they neared the peasant village, Oriane slowed to a trot, and although Cally had been there quite a few times, she looked forward to observing it with fresh eyes. She remarked, “I can’t believe we’re already here!”
“It’s kind of a long walk,” Derrick commented. “I know you’re used to it, but I figured we needed as much time as we can get here.”
“True! I need to go back before supper.” Cally cringed at the thought of returning to Dregs Hollow to carry out her dull daily routine. “Unless we can break the curse before sun down!”
Derrick told her, “I’ll do my best!” as the strode into Bohemma.
A lot of people in the kingdom looked down on the peasant village, but Cally always found it quaintly charming. The sandy-colored stone walls looked so sturdy, and even the slightly dilapidated wooden beams still looked like they were in better shape than the ones in Dregs Hollow! The people who traveled this road greeted each other pleasantly as they passed by one another, something which she almost never saw in her own town! Children played together on the streets, and neighbors gathered together to converse, which made her wonder why the people of Dregs Hollow couldn’t get along like that! Cally could tell that even though the people there didn’t have a lot of money, they were really happy with the life they had in Bohemma. She pondered whether or not the inhabitants here knew just how lucky they had it!
As Derrick and Cally rode through the streets, people stopped what they were doing to watch them as they went by. At first, she worried that they somehow knew of her freakish alter ego, but then she observed that they didn’t look disgusted at her. She got so used to being the subject of gossip in Dregs Hollow and Camellia’s Circus that it took her a minute to realize that they weren’t judging them at all. Quite the contrary, actually! People gazed at them admirably, and a lot of them even smiled and waved. Cally mentioned to Derrick, “Wow, you have a lot of friends here!”
“No, I haven’t met most of the people here,” Derrick genially countered her statement. “They see we’re on a horse with a royal seal, so they know we’re someone important.”
“We?” Cally reacted incredulously. “No, they’re paying respect to you. I’m no one special!”
“First of all, that’s not true,” Derrick differed. “You’re an extraordinary lady, and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise! Second, they’re definitely talking about both of us. Listen closely!”
Cally didn’t believe him, but she did as he had suggested. She had expected to hear them talk about him since he was a prince, but she heard one woman ask her friend, “Is that a princess?”
“Oh, look!” a little boy gasped. “A princess!”
She heard more and more people call her a princess, and it made her want to cry! Derrick smirked and said, “I think they’re more excited to see you than they are to see me!” Cally actually did shed a happy tear after that!
They came across a man in a uniform with a badge, so Derrick steered the horse towards his direction and addressed him, “Excuse me, Constable!” The constable heeded his attention towards Derrick. “Where can we find your hall of records?”
“Go straight down this road and turn right at the fork. You’ll see our courthouse on the left,” the constable informed him.
“Thank you, sir!” Derrick nodded his head respectfully, and the constable did the same in return before they continued on their way.
When they turned down the street that the constable had indicated, they saw that they had a somewhat large government building amongst a row of shops and restaurants. They stopped in the front of the courthouse, and as Derrick tied Oriane to a hitching post, he asked her, “This is it, this is where we’ll get some answers! Are you excited?”
“I can’t wait to find out what he’s been hiding!” she exclaimed.
They entered the building eagerly, and they saw two stories where a large common area led to several different hallways. A couple of rooms stemmed off the main room as well as a window that had the label “Records” above it. They walked over to the clerk behind this window, and the clerk gave them a friendly greeting, “How can I help you?”
Derrick requested, “We’d like to look through the missing person files from thirty years ago.”
The clerk’s eyes grew wide, and the color disappeared from her face. “I’m sorry, this office is now closed!” She rolled a metal cover down to shut them out.
Derrick and Cally looked at each other peculiarly, and then Cally asked, “So, now what?”