“Really?” Leah asked. “All the time?” The teenager asked her friend as they walked along a narrow alley.
“HEY LOOK! ARTIE’S GOT A GIRLFRIEND!” A shout and chorus of laughter came from the other end of the alley from a group of thugs.
“All the time,” Arthur said quietly with a nod. He kept walking towards the bullies and Leah followed him without hesitation.
“Why do you put up with it?” she asked. It was a slightly personal question, but she felt comfortable asking. This was only the first time they met in person but they gamed online for years. He invited her over to see his town. They’d just started their tour when Leah realized the townsfolk had very little love for Arthur. It seemed like every new person they ran across had a snide comment for Arthur; but, they seemed to treat Leah perfectly civil. After one encounter, Leah asked how often it happened.
“Meh,” Arthur shrugged. “‘Putting up with it’, implies it bothers me. I don’t even pay attention really.”
“Hey Artie, who’s your girlfri-,” the lead thug froze mid-sentence and mid-step as Arthur and Leah walked by. The small herd of thugs also froze. They approached from the sides of the alley to try and box in the pair of friends, but at the moment they were too spread out. Arthur and Leah waved through them effortlessly. Leah wasn’t surprised. She knew he was a Muerte before they met in person, and she’d already seen him use similar tricks on their tour so far to avoid trouble.
Once they were safely past the time-locked thugs, Arthur released them.
“-nd. HEY!” the thug immediately spun around. “YOU CAN’T RUN FOREVER ARTIE!” he yelled but made no attempt to chase them down.
“I think I can,” Artie chuckled to himself, Leah joined in.
“Why don’t you just keep time stopped whenever you go out?” Leah asked. They emerged from the alley onto a main, active street. Dozens of horses and their wagons traveled the road both ways. Leah followed him across the street. She was mildly amused at everyone seemingly going out of their way to insult Arthur. She saw several people double back just to do it twice. Once they crossed the street and entered another alley, Arthur answered.
“Sometimes I do, but I’m showing you the city. If it was going to be time-locked I might as well send you a picture.”
“Thanks,” Leah smiled. She genuinely appreciated the tour, despite the people. Her Earth was advanced and seeing Arthur’s medieval Earth was novel and enjoyable. “Why don’t you prove them all wrong?” she asked. “It wouldn’t even be that hard for you.” Arthur nodded.
“You know, it’s kind of funny. I had that exact thought; it wouldn’t be hard at all. I could stop time for each one of them individually. Give a demonstration, age them up or make them younger, whatever. I could kill half the kingdom too, there are just so many options.” Arthur turned a corner and kept talking.
“I sat down and asked myself, how far would I really go to prove them wrong? How much effort do I want to put into it?” Arthur stopped walking and looked at Leah.”And you know what I realized? None,” he chuckled. “I literally have infinite time available to me…,” he said. “…and I still don’t want to spend one second of it trying to prove something to someone that doesn’t want to see it.”