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Lia Marie woke up the next morning expecting to be in her bedroom, but when she felt the rocks in her arms, and back the realization caught up to her that she was no longer in the castle. She was away from the castle on the outskirts of town. Her thought that it would be a dream she awoke from was not a dream, but a reality. Her eyes fluttered open slowly. The first thing she was in her field of vision was Sierra, Gauis, and Illya, all speaking to one another in hushed tones. She assumed it was because they wanted to be polite. Not the latter.
“Good morning, sleepyhead.” Sierra greeted. “How’s your back?”
“Filled with tiny rocks.” Lia, Marie responded. “Before we leave, there’s something I need to do.”
She got up and headed toward Gauis, who was cleaning his sword. “May I see your sword?”
“For me to not be recognized, I have to change my identity.”
“Oh.” Gauis gaped. He didn’t think about that. “Why do you need my sword for that?”
“You’ll see in a minute.”
Gauis handed her the sword. His trust for her was growing. This was a pivotal moment where it was one of those times his confidence grew a little. He watched she took the sword, gripped the handle with one hand and her ponytail with the other. She put the blade up to her auburn hair where the rubber band was and swung the sword backward. She cut off her long hair.
Sierra and Illy watched in shock as strands of her hair fell down in clumps onto the dirt floor. When Lia Marie put the sword down on the floor and lifted her head, her appearance changed only slightly. She had shorter hair. It was up to her neck, and she turned her head, staring at all of them. “Well? What do you think?”
“Shorthair. A woman after my own heart.” Illya commented. He patted his chest where his heart is and sighed dreamily.
Sierra nudged him. “I agree. Looking good Lia Marie.”
“You look nice is what they're trying to say.” Gauis voiced. He reached for his sword to take it back. “Once we reach the next town Tarrin, you can get new clothes.”
“May I make a suggestion?” Illya asked. “It’s not just your hair and clothes you have to change. We can’t keep calling you Lia Marie or princess. People would recognize that name in a second if they hear it. We got to give you a nickname.”
“She has a nickname.” Sierra cooed. “It’s Lili. Pronounced Le-le.”
Lia Marie groaned. “No. I refuse to be called that. No one calls me that except for you.”
“What about Tasia?” Illya suggested. “It’s a more common name among our time and it’s completely different from your original name.”
“Tasia…” Lia Marie said quietly. “I like it.”
They all nodded; packing up their gear back in their bags they all got ready for their ten-mile hike to the next town over. Lia Marie wasn’t prepared for it, she had exercised every day for two hours, but that doesn’t mean she wasn’t exhausted by the time they hit the three-mile mark.
They crossed paths with villagers that were travelling back and forth between towns just for their jobs. None of them seemed to recognize Lia Marie. Those who came close were thrown off by her new name Tasia. She was a little grateful for Illya who came up with that nickname.
“So, Tasia, like the idea of walking amongst commoners?”
“Shush it.” She nudged Illya. “You aren’t commoners. You’re people. Like me.”
After the fourth mile they came across a dangerous riverbank. The water was running oddly fast. Lia Marie found it beautiful, the danger of it all. She felt drawn to it. But shook her head from the thoughts.
“It looks dangerous. Prince— Tasia.” Gauis corrected. “Should go last. To help her across.”
Lia Marie raised an eyebrow with her arms crossed. “Please, I can handle this no problem.”
“She’s not helpless Gauis.” Sierra retorted. “Just because she happens to be a princess, doesn’t mean she can’t cross a river.”
Lia Marie began to hop on each rock with ease. She jokingly pretended to fall to get a reaction out of Gauis. Once she saw his worried face she laughed and finished crossing the river to the other side. She turned and bowed. “Thank you. Thank you.”
“See?” Sierra exclaimed.
“You are aware this is her first time outside the castle?” Gauis questioned in a hushed tone. “There are multiple reasons I am worried. One of them is that she knows little to nothing about this world.”
“…I know. I’m worried too, but we can’t control them. We’ll face that bridge when we get to it.”
“She’s going to be disappointed in us, mainly you.”