The militia’s non-commissioned officer did not lie to me. With the necessary experience it can save you at the critical juncture.
If it was not that month’s training, that seemingly unavoidable sword that lunged towards me during my deep sleep would have been fatal. My senses brought about something akin to a flash of electricity, which tore me away from the deep sleep that I was in.
What greeted me during the moment when I open my eyes, is the reflection of a sharp long sword which seemed to pierce my heart with a freezing chill.
It really makes my heart tremble!
To tell the truth, I do not know how I was able to react to that. Perhaps it was an instinct that was developed from the long training, and I twist my head to the sides at the last instant, and that sword stabs down and brushes past my ear.
I escape that in the nick of time.
Then I see the sword’s design embedded onto a metal plate amidst the shining light reflected from the sword; the black rose that bloomed furiously, which can only be from Brumand.
I pause for a while before recognizing it.
“Madara’s undead troops!”
It is as if a bucket of water was thrown onto me, and I completely sober up, fucking hell, why are these damn shit bastards appearing here?
I clearly remember I am taking my leave at the countryside Bucce. This land was left behind by my grandfather, and I received my old man’s permission, and stayed here to take care of this old house.
My mother was a Kadireig, and it is probably the only bloodline within my body that is close to nobility. On the other hand, my father was a traditional middle-aged ordinary miller, and he did not resemble my grandfather who participated in the famous November’s war and received the Candlelight emblem.
And I, am simply an ordinary youth who can be found anywhere within the kingdom. My biggest dream is to join the army or go out to adventure, and bring back great wealth.
Then perhaps at the end of things, I will find a beautiful wife to spend my life with, a perfect life indeed!
But I am digressing. Right beside my bed is a fearful undead trying to kill me, and it made my heart pulse with dread. Fortunately the things that my instructor taught me back in the days still remained in my mind, and are not forgotten because of my panicked thoughts. I recall in an instant that my sword is placed beside my bed, but that skeleton will surely not let me have the chance to take it. I realize now that this is a terrible habit, I must remember to put it below my pillow the next time.
These thoughts happen within moments.
I instinctively pounced towards the sides from the bed, and knocked that gleaming white skeleton onto the floor. Right now I remember my instructor every sentence from my first combat lesson:
“Remember, these soldiers from Madara’s lowest ranks, solely use the ‘soul’s flames’ to move. They are slow, lacking in intelligence and they are weak.”
But before I can recall everything, a huge force came from below, as if I am not restraining a skeleton but a bull. In any case, a force that was beyond me threw me towards the sides, where I end up knocking onto the shelves. I can hear the grating sound made from my bones and shelves that would have made people pale. The intense pain throughout my body makes me grind my teeth, but I quickly shake that my dizzy head as I still remember what I need to do. In my blurring vision, the skeleton has already gotten up and intends to pull the sword that he stuck in.
His movements are apparently very rigid, but his strength has nothing to do with the words “weak” right?
But I turn my body and prepare to run as that bastard has already pulled out the sword and become a dangerous existence again. And I know my strength is not his match, or perhaps even three of me would not even make him ‘sweat’ one bit.
And the most important thing is I have no weapon.
He is in between my sword and I. Of course, I do believe that this is just a coincidence as skeletons do not possess the intelligence.
I half crawled, half ran towards the door, but I am unable to restrain my voice when I approach near it.
“Fuck my luck!”
That is because the door is broken down before my eyes, and a ray of bright moonlight poured into the house. It is certainly a artistic, picturesque moment, if it is not shining upon another white skeleton.
I note that it is another lowly ranked Madara soldier, and in its hand is a firmly gripped steel longsword. On its bones is armor made in the style of Madara, and on top of that it was wearing a black and heavy helmet.
The most depressing thing, however, is the fact that it is using a pair of obsidian eye sockets with dancing red flaming pupils to look at me.
Apparently I have been locked on as its target.
In front of me is a tiger and at my back is a wolf. This is certainly a bad omen.
Respected holy mother Marsha, I am unable to help myself but pray to my goddess in my heart. I am only 19 years old, I cannot simply die a dog’s death in a poor rural village.
That’s right, I have not even confessed to the girl I liked! The moment I think about that bewitching young merchant girl, I feel my heart pounding even faster. Her home is just opposite to me, and I cannot let my heart’s beloved fall into danger.
I quickly calm myself, and try to think of a way to escape. As my thoughts spin quickly, the teachings of my instructor played out in my mind.
“You can fight battles only when you are calm!”
This way of thinking is certainly applicable to my situation, but my hands have no weapon! I can’t possibly fight a wild animal with my bare fists right? I pant as I anxiously stick my back to the wall while my eyes search desperately everywhere. Even though this old place is not a desolated hut, but the living room has nothing that can be used as a makeshift weapon.
If only my grandfather is a high ranked noble. I had visited Earl Remington’s home, and their living room was five times the size of this place, and there were many shields, swords and axes hung on the wall. If I am there, I can surely find a weapon that suits me.
Furthermore, my skill with the sword is not bad at all. I am not bragging about this, that old instructor personally commended me, and said I was the most outstanding out of that entire batch that time.
Even that bugger from Remington is not my match at all, although I’m envious of him to have a father who is a prefect. If my father is also a prefect, I am definitely able to enter the garrison forces.
It is certainly pointless to talk about these though. In any case my sword is not reachable thanks to that skeleton. Even though they cannot run and move rigidly, their speed is equivalent to a grown man.
If this happens on the training grounds I bet I can toy with them easily, but in this narrow space I’m going to get cut down.
As I mope around, the skeleton in my bedroom walks out, pauses for a while, then quickly walk towards me. I subconsciously step backwards, and strike against something hard.
I quickly figure out that it should be a painting that is behind my back. This painting is passed down from my grandfather’s generation, and it is a family heirloom. That cripple in the Black Pepper Street once wanted to buy that painting with ten gold coins, but it was rejected by my father.
My father is a stubborn man, but I am not the same like him. I had frequently thought about selling this painting if I reached my lowest point, buy a pretty horse, and go adventuring in the capital with that girl with a merchant’s dream. If only I am not facing an event like this right now.
I have reached the end of the line, this family heirloom is going to save me right now. I turn around and tore the painting with its wooden frame down. I can hardly care if I am going to ruin it even if it is worth at least ten gold coins. I suspect it is worth even more, as that cripple in the Black Pepper Street is reputed to be stingy.
Ten gold coins is a lot of money, the largest sum of money I have seen is only ten silver coins.
I cannot help but draw a deep breath, my hands are shivering like crazy. I prepare myself to throw the painting at that frightening undead, and slip by it while it defends itself. I will get the sword next and smash these two skeletons to bits with my sword skills.
Of course I can also use it as distraction and run to the streets. But I have no guarantee that the outside is not crawling with this damn shit. Dashing outside empty handed is completely asking to be killed. So I steeled my heart and find it is sometimes better to be braver.
Even though this is the more ideal outcome, perhaps it did not care at all and just eviscerates me, and I can go meet Mother Marsha soon enough.
I cannot help but think whether they will give me a plague,
“Poor Brandel, he is so dead wrong.”
I shiver and shake my head to get rid of this horrifying thought. Cough cough cough, I am not going to die like this.
I glance at the gray looking painting in my hands, seriously, is this worth ten gold pieces? I wonder if that cripple will find it a pity if I throw this out?
That frightening undead is already before me, and I did not have the time to regret over the loss of ten gold pieces and the chance to adventure with the merchant girl. I have thrown at it without thinking.
My throw is strangely accurate, the painting flies towards the skeleton in a straight line. Damn, that stupid bastard really raised its sword and strike that down. That grey painting went with a ‘pssszzt’ and split into two.
What kind of ridiculous strength?! But the instructor did not lie, these skeletons are certainly lacking in intelligence.
While my mind comments on the resulting events, I have already rushed out.
My bedroom is not far now, thank Mother Marsha, I only need to take a few more steps to be able to see my sort peacefully lying there. That sword is also a family heirloom. My grandfather took it to battle, and it was said that he was a squire to a knight who presented the sword to him.
This sword should be from Year 32. It has the emblem design of ivy on it, to commemorate the victory at the highland fight in Grinoires.
That year, his majesty changed the knights’ longswords’ form, from two arms length to one and a half, and the armguard’s bronze accessory was changed to common iron with ornamental designs. This was done in order to adjust to the cost of ‘November War’ which was dragging on.
Indeed, this is a knight’s sword. Hmph, just wait till I get that sword.
“You fucking Madara shit bastards, you’re going to suffer now.”
Notes: Ch 0 is Brendel’s pov. I think he dies, actually.