Oppressed by your social status and the expectations that came with it, your whole life had become black and white.
Oppressed by his social status and the expectations that came with it, Prince Iroh II's life had become too vibrant that he couldn't see straight.
Both with different dilemmas, yet both with bookbags on their backs and a determined look on their faces.
"Are you going in?" you speak up in a low voice.
"Uh, yeah," Iroh cautiously replies, tugging his scarf tighter around the bridge of his nose to cover his face.
You pay no attention to his efforts in concealing his identity and march forward onto the boat. He follows suit with his head hung low. Once you both pay the fisherman for a ride down the river, you sit beside each other without a single greeting.
There's a lot on your minds, and neither of you bother to see the oddness of the situation. Two random travelers around the same age sitting beside each other with nothing in common. The fisherman certainly has no qualms in accepting two generous donations, but he does take a moment to ponder on the coincidence of it all.
"Okay then, Jang Hui it is," the fisherman states as he begins the boat's propeller. "It'll take a day to get there, so expect a few stops along the way."
"Just as long as you keep quiet," Iroh says softly.
You watch his eyes lower to the ground with sorrow. As much as you don't want it to be any of your business, you can't help but feel sympathy for the guy beside you. He seems to be hurting on the inside, for reasons you aren't sure of.
But you keep your lips sealed, and it remains that way throughout the entire ride. He doesn't speak either, only the occasional grunt when the fisherman announces a break. All you're able to gather about your mysterious partner was that he brought delicious snacks and had a small bladder.
Upon arriving at Jung Hui, you breath out a sigh of relief and hop out of the boat. "Thank you for the ride, sir."
"Yeah, yeah. I just hope I didn't allow a pair of convicts to escape," he retorts as he follows you out of the boat.
You smile at the irony. You're just a runaway, nothing more and nothing less. "I hope this stays between us, sir."
"Transporting two kids from the capitol to the middle of nowhere? Yeah, that's not what I'm telling my family when I put food on the table," he scoffs as he counts his coin.
Iroh finally decides to speak up as he bows to the man. "I am indebted to you, sir."
The man waves his hand in dismissal. "Well, if you're looking to sneak out, you better do it soon and on full stomachs."
You nod in agreement and wave the man goodbye. Once he's gone, you turn to your left to hopefully acquire some information about your partner; however, he's long gone and wandering deeper into the small town.
"H-Hey! Wait!" you call out as you trail after him. He is courteous enough to stop his travels, giving you time to catch up to him. "I was wondering where you're going."
"None of your business."
"I know it's not... but I sorta left without a plan," you admit lowly as a blush begins spreading on your cheeks.
You expect a scoff or some retort about how stupid you were being, but he seems to be at a loss for words. "T-That-- It has... That's... Your problem is..."
You blink a few times as your frown begins to curve into a smile. "Don't tell me you don't have one either?"
"... It was last minute."
Your giggling turns into a rambunctious laughter, one that Iroh had to smack his hand over your mouth to silence. "Stop drawing attention to us."
"Sorry," you mutter between giggles. "I just didn't expect this."
He sighs and lets go of your face. "Yeah, me neither."
As you stare up at him, you feel something ignite within you. "I guess that's makes us partners then."
Although half his face is covered, you can tell that he too was smiling by the way his eyes crinkled. "I suppose so."
Today, the lives of two adventures have intertwined.