The Young Daughter of the Goddess 3

The night after the rain stopped was windy. The wind swept through both the main roads and the alleys. The exposed ankles under the torn hem of her skirt were stained with mud. Tina hurried along, as if entranced by something obvious, her eyes fixed only on the back of the man walking ahead of her. In Metion’s arms, the baby still rested. Despite her repeated pleading, confronting, clinging, and attacking, it was to no avail. Following him was the only option she had.

Would he harm the baby? She didn’t know. If he did, why? Of course, there was no reason to take the baby. If he knew the baby’s identity, he should have been more polite or more brutal. If his target was Tina, there was no need to wander like this. However, Metion simply walked somewhere with the baby in his arms. Tina focused on the emblem hanging from Metion’s wrist. He must be a man from a distinguished family. There must be a reason for his actions. He wasn’t a mercenary seeking a reward or a scoundrel looking to sell a woman…

Suddenly, Metion turned around, startling Tina and causing her to gasp.

“Come in.”

Only then did she notice that Metion was holding the door handle, looking at her. It was a side door that one had to bend to enter. As Tina stumbled in, Metion followed and closed the door. It was dark inside.

“Where is this place?”

Without answering, Metion fumbled in the dark and lit a candle. As the room brightened, it seemed to be a tailoring shop with clothes and fabrics hanging everywhere. The owner was not in sight, probably having gone to bed after closing the shop. How did Metion open the door? Tina felt tense.

“What if the owner comes back…?”

“You don’t need to worry about that.”

Metion looked around and took a plain black tunic, handing it to Tina.

“Wear this.”

“This belongs to someone else.”

“The clothes you are wearing are worth more than this. It’s actually a fair trade.”

Tina hesitated, then took off her cloak and her torn dress, revealing her chest. Metion hesitated, then turned around a few seconds later.

“If you think I have any improper intentions, you’ve misunderstood me.”

“What? I…”

Tina started to say something but closed her mouth and changed clothes. As she did, Metion muttered to himself. Indeed, you are a dancer.

Dancers in Epherium were at the very bottom of society, often changing clothes in the street without the right to privacy. Tina must have lived that way too, until last year. Habits formed over a lifetime don’t wash away in a year or two. Metion, frowning in thought, turned his head only when Tina called him.

“I’m done.”

“Do something with your hair too.”

While Tina braided her hair, Metion packed a cloak for himself and a few pieces of cut cloth. He discarded the red velvet wrapping the baby and found a plain linen bundle to rewrap the baby. Although noblemen typically didn’t tend to babies, his hands moved with familiarity. Just as he finished wrapping, the baby woke up. The baby stared at him and then smiled. Metion almost smiled back but turned his head and said,

“Are you ready? Let’s go.”

“Can’t you tell me where we’re going?”

“No.”

Metion, holding the baby, left through the door they had entered. Tina had no choice but to follow. After turning a few alleys, a high wall suddenly appeared. It was the impregnable wall of Hiemora, surrounding the royal city. The memory of shivering as she passed through this wall last year in a cart, feeling she would never leave, was still fresh. The gate she had entered through was the Donkey Gate, used by commoners. But now, the gate visible in the distance was the Full Moon Gate, used only by the king, royalty, and nobility.

Metion had Tina cover her head with a scarf and approached the Full Moon Gate. The gate, with its green marble columns and six statues of Lansisha, the goddess of the gate, was beautiful but prohibited to commoners. It could only be seen closely on special occasions like the Summer Festival, the Winter Closing Festival, the king’s coronation, the queen’s investiture, or the prince’s birth. The gate was already closed for the night, guarded by twice the usual number of soldiers. Metion had Tina wait a little distance away and approached the gatekeeper, holding the baby like a bundle under his arm.

“It’s me. I need to go out on some business.”

“What brings you out at this hour? Do you know what’s happened today?”

“I don’t know and I don’t care. But it looks like you have a long night ahead.”

When Metion opened his pouch and handed over a handful of jingling coins, the gatekeeper accepted them respectfully and called for his men to open a small side door in the gate. Tina, stunned by how easily Metion got the gate to open, saw him signal for her to come. As they approached the door, the gatekeeper asked,

“Who is that woman?”

“A maid I borrowed for the day. Don’t mention seeing me today.”

Metion said, winking with one eye. The gatekeeper nodded and laughed. When Metion stepped out, the baby whimpered. Metion suddenly coughed loudly several times and even scolded Tina as she followed.

“What are you dawdling for? Move quickly!”

During this exchange, they moved away from the gate. Outside the walls was a vast wilderness. When they looked back, the unusually splendid Full Moon Gate looked like a tombstone stuck in the wilderness.


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