With half of Ruhr’s entourage behind him and Soythe leading in front, Shaar arrived in the southern region of Osgiliath.
The southern part of the city was mainly filled with commoners. They passed through the square in the centre of the city, through Arena Street (Shaar could not get anywhere near the arena for now, so he had to take a much longer route around it through the street nearby. Why? Because there were too many warriors near the arena and they knew his presence would attract challengers.), then continued heading south, which was also towards the coast. The streets were no longer wide and flat, rather narrow and bumpy. It was evident that this area was not kept as clean as the central and northern regions where the rich stayed. There were puddles of muddy water from melted snow, carriages and horses all stepped through these dirty pools- the atmosphere was quite different from the tranquil cleanliness on the other part of the city.
The buildings on both sides of the street became shorter, with mud houses and sheds replacing the previous magnificent architecture. Passersby were all clad in clothings only the lower classes wore, rough linen instead of smooth silks; tall stallions replaced with mules and donkeys. The occasional wagon passed, one could hear chickens and dogs from both sides of the street, the bustling of people, husbands and wives arguing, children crying…
Shaar even saw two thin, frail stray dogs barking a few times at them from afar, then turning around to run away. When they passed a house, the lady of the household poured a tub of dirty water out of her house, almost hitting Shaar.
But when she saw Shaar and the guards on horses behind him, she gasped in surprise, tossing the tub on the ground, then looked down and ran into the house.
Not just this family—as they walked down the street, passersby and the people living in the houses all looked at Shaar and his men curiously.
What was this master in luxurious clothing doing in this area…
Obviously, this was a commoner’s neighbourhood.
If one were to take away Osgiliath’s fancy titles, i.e. the mainland’s number one city, the miracle city, the city with a thousand years of history, the centre of the empire’s power, the capital city etc--- if these names were all taken away, this place was actually exactly the same as every other poor neighbourhood on the mainland.
Passing through an alley, Shaar frowned when he looked at the short, crooked houses and sheds on both sides of the street. “Is this it?”
“Yes.” Soythe, who was in front, turned around and spoke in a low voice, “The late Sir Kevin’s house is right in front. Usually, at this time of the day, his wife should have returned from that tailor’s shop that we passed before this…”
They walked to the end of the alley and stopped before a simple, ugly two-storied house. There was a very simple garden in front--- it could not even be called a garden, for it was tiny.
Compared to the other sheds they saw, this was already a decent house. At least it was made of bricks and not mud. This house’s floor was flat and neatly laid, with unknown wildflowers planted on both sides--- they were true wildflowers, the small, white kind we usually see in rural areas. Yet they were planted neatly around the yard, it was obvious that the owner of this house was different from the rest in this place.
Shaar gestured for Soythed to push the fence door open. Seeing the door to the house ajar, Shaar had just walked into the yard when a grey dog rushed out and barked at Shaar a few times. It was only when Soythe flung his hands and shouted, the dog recognised him and ran to his side to sniff him out. Wagging its tail, it then finally retreated to a corner, thought still staring at Shaar suspiciously.
With a creak, the door open and a lady with long, brown hair walked out.
Soythe bowed. “Madam Julia.”
Julia was the lady head of this household, also the late Kevin’s wife. She stood in front of the door, staring at the men who entered her yard in shock.
But after she saw Soythe, her shock faded into a smile. Julia had a head of brown hair, a tall nose, a pair of green eyes and a tall and slender figure. Her forehead was slightly high and broad, and her eyes were far apart. In general, she was a lady with average looks, though she radiated a very unique aura.
She was clad in a loose dress, her hair tied haphazardly. Her forehead was drenched in sweat, her sleeves rolled up to reveal arms the colour of light oats. She must have been busy with chores and had been working in the sun. Her hand was wet so she wiped them a few times on her dress.
Shaar was more surprised than she was. Along the way, he had been mulling over all the things he would say to her, some gentle small talk, but he was left stunned the moment he saw this woman!
All the words in his head disappeared, for his jaw had dropped, eyes glued to the woman.
Because… the woman before him…
Under the loose, billowing dress, her abdomen was swollen!
Julia… Kevin’s wife… She’s… pregnant?!
In a moment, this progression had completely caught Shaar off-guard and he felt like his tongue was dry, his legs wobbly.
Shaar was never this nervous against Odin’s armies or Hasting’s terrifying weapon.
“Soythe, you’re back!” Julia’s voice was a little hoarse, she smiled happily and looked friendly. She looked at Shaar and Tatara, who was hiding behind Shaar. “Hey? I don’t recognise these two brothers here, are they Kevin’s new battle partners? Come in, hehe… Right, where’s Kevin? Is he at the back? He must’ve gone to secretly buy wine again…”
As she spoke, she stood on tiptoes and looked outside the courtyard, finally smiling, “Why are you all standing there? Come in! Soythe, go buy some smoked meat from Uncle Thomas at the head of the street, or we won’t have enough food in the house. Hehe.”
“…” Soythe was ghastly pale when he turned to look at Shaar for help.
Shaar finally snapped back to his senses. He took a deep breath, then walked slowly up to Julia.
Julia hesitated slightly, possibly from Shaar’s expression or his heavy footsteps. As if she had a feeling, she forced a smile, “Eh? Is this kid a new person on your team? You don’t look very old, are you even twenty? Come in, I bought some honey yesterday and I can make you some tea with honey.”
“Ju…Julia…” Shaar walked up to her, his tone heavy. The lady’s face changed dramatically, panicking as she faltered backwards, retreating back into her house. Shaar grabbed her by her shoulder. “Julia, my name is Shaar, I fought in battle with Kevin, and…”
“No, don’t say it!” Julia screamed, losing her composure.
The intelligent woman had already figure it out, hysterically struggling to get away from Shaar’s hand, shrieking, “What are you doing? Why are we talking here? You should come inside! We can talk after Kevin returns… Kevin, where’s Kevin…”
“Kevin…” Shaar’s eyes reddened, his fingers shaking, “He…”
Julia’s legs faltered, her face turning white as she glared at him fiercely, She watched as Shaar took a bundle from Soythe. He opened it to reveal a helmet, a dagger, a few badges and a… lambskin sheet with writings scrawled on it using charcoal… there was blood on it!”
Julia’s eyes rolled backwards and she fainted immediately.