"Move it, you dumbass! We're going to be late!"
In a certain village, somewhere in the north of the continent, there was a pair of unique children. Well, not unique per se; eccentric would be a better word to describe them. Firstly, there was the only son of the local noble house that reigned over the lands.
Barnett Donnel was an energetic boy with enough natural charisma to make people adore and follow him without complaint. And while he wasn't particularly talented in arts of magic, his swordsmanship was unmatched not only by his peers but even some of his personal tutors praised him as the true genius of the sword. That said, his ravenous appetite was well-known, too.
"Oh, you just had to eat the second serving of meat pie, didn't you? Now we're going to be late. Again. All because of the black hole you call a stomach."
And scolding him was a young maiden with fair features and skin as pure and white as silk. Her blonde hair was kept in a tight knot, hidden under a wide brim of her hat. As if the perfect mirror match, she was hailed as the prodigy. However, since this girl barely went outside and trained her body, her physical abilities were, frankly speaking, underwhelming. Her name was Maria.
When Maria's leg connected with Barnett's backside, a faint outcry came from the boy their age nearby. Barely a teenager, he was wearing a fine set of armor, if only a bit worn-out. His name was Alfred Norden, the loyal retainer of the Donnel household and a knight-to-be. Currently, preoccupied with fussing over his best friend's backside.
"Liege my ass. We're going to miss our carriage because of this glutton. Who eats his seconds three times in a row, anyway?"
Maria asked and huffed for a good measure, showing how unamused she was with the whole charade. It was strange how a pair of boys positively towering over her were more afraid of her than of monsters outside. After all, you can slay a monster and call it a break. Not so much with Maria.
"Well, can you blame me? Those meat pies were delicious. I mean, it's not like Auntie Martha makes them all the time, right? It's a special occasion, you know!"
"Yeah, a "special" occasion," Maria rebuked Barnett. "You do know she makes them every Friday, don't you? That's why we call them Meat Pie Fridays, after all. And guess what... Meat Pie Fridays happen every week, but the Gateway City's Trade Fair happens once a year, you nincompoop. Jerkass! Idiot! Dummy! Barnett!"
"Now now, Maria," said Alfred, tried to protect his friend's dignity. Or what was left of it. "It's not like this is the last carriage in the world. We can just wait for the other. Don't make such a fuss over nothing."
"Alfred," Maria order, "Come closer." The boy did so. "Now, move here, so I can reach your face." Again, he did as ordered. Looking into Maria's azure eyes, he felt his breath hitch and his heart start beating rapidly. Could it be...
... As he expected, his face was held secure in her slender arms. Even considering how unusually soft her arms were, his cheeks still hurt from being pinched so hard. "No, we can't wait for another carriage. It takes almost an hour for the next one to come, and another hour to reach the City of Gateway. By the time we'll be there, the best tome of magic will be swiped by newbie mages with moss for a brain. This has happened before and you know this!"
"C'mon, Maria! Give it a rest!" said Barnett, rubbing his butt. "How about we buy you a tome of magic each? As a compensation of sorts. So please, stop beating us up so much."
"My liege!" "Done deal!"
Those cries came from Alfred and Maria respectively. Beaming like a tiny sun, the girl let go of the boy's face. Not even a hint of her scowl from a minute ago was seen. Humming a melody of victory, she went forward with an obvious spring in her step.
"My liege," repeated Albert. "Do you perchance know how much does an ordinary tome costs?" For some reason, he was sweating profusely.
"Hmm? Not really," said Barnett, scratching the back of his head. Then, he heard the price he paid for peace.
"Say what?! That's more we earn for hunting monsters for a week! How come those things cost more than a farm?! That's impossible!"
"And from what do you think those tomes are usually made from, my liege? Well, for now, all we can do is to keep our chin up and repent for our sins. By the way, my liege."
"You really should eat less. You'll get fat otherwise."