Message from translator: With this being our second big fight scene, I found out I really like translating action….Maybe it’s my penchant for those kinds of things Also, the farmer talks in a very unrefined manner, so I tried to encompass this feeling; did it work?
Note: This chapter is a week early because I’ll be unavailable next week. The next chapter will be posted Jun. 5
Volume 1, 4-2: Bandits’ Attack
After the festival, it appeared that the captain’s attitude had changed. Although it would be a bit too much to say that he had softened, the number of times he would steal a glance lessened, and that was somewhat a relief to Fin.
Although Eutis was the same as always, the issue with the captain no longer became Fin’s concern, relieving him.
His work was peaceful, bordering on boredom. Once in a while, he would get jobs like bringing the vagrants found to the city’s almshouse and escorting the wagons of farmers and merchants.
But that was not to say that nothing happened.
Four days after the Midsummer festival, it happened one early afternoon with humidity coming from the north.
Clatter Rattle The sounds of wheels rushing across the main road caused the entire patrol group to suddenly turned their heads around.
A horse drawing a wagon came galloping towards them as if crazed, and there were about 10 people swarmed together. They were bandits.
At Varte’s order, everyone simultaneously started to run.
Right next to them was a gentle downhill slope. The bandits saw the image of the army corps running downhill with their spears and shields ready so they prepared to fight. The wagon had already stopped. They had probably already calculated that if they ran away now, they would incur a total loss.
A war cry rose, and the bandits rushed forward. However, in their hands were mere thin sticks, daggers, and axes. There was only one who wielded a spear. It was clear that they were in a disadvantage to the troops.
With the momentum he gained from running down, Fin suddenly planted his feet in the ground not too close yet not too far from an incoming bandit and thrust his spear into his opponent’s stomach. But, his aim was off, and the spear didn’t pierce but rather grazed the side. At that moment, his opponent had already raised his axe and was bringing it downwards.
Right away, Fin swung his spear diagonally upwards and strongly smacked his opponent with the handle. In that mere moment, Fin promptly took the opportunity to close the gap between them and lunged his spear once more. Thud It was met with heavy resistance.
However, that still wasn’t a fatal injury. The bandit swung his axe in a crazed manner. When the edge looked like it would brush up against his face, Fin parried it with the whole length of the spear. With the spear still stuck in him, the bandit stumbled and retreated, defeated. But, another enemy popped out from behind him.
With a sharp breath, Fin quickly drew his sword.
The blades clashed. The bandit’s eyes had a glint of murderous intent, and Fin’s cold look pierced through it.
In that one moment, Fin read his opponent’s moves.
For some reason, he clearly understood how his opponent would move next and where he could attack. At the same time, his own body moved by itself.
Exactly like the prediction that flashed in his mind, the enemy raised his arms over his head. Fin’s sword dipped for only a second, then it shot upwards, completely slicing off the wrist of his opponent who was letting momentum drop his dagger downwards. In the blink of an eye, the shocked bandit’s face dropped to the ground as blood spurted everywhere.
(Alright, to the next one.)
Exceedingly composed, Fin raised his face and surveyed his situation. Currently, he was casually stepping over the enemies lying there as he headed towards another bandit.
Captain Varte was having a close fight with two bandits charging at him, but he suddenly threw one of the men right as he was in a pinch. The tip of a sword popped out of the man’s stomach. When the man fell with his eyes wide in surprise, Fin was standing behind him. The second Varte looked at the boy’s face, he shuddered despite being rescued.
The breath that was frozen in his chest quickly came back as another bandit was slaughtered by Fin’s blade.
In front of Varte’s eyes, Fin emotionlessly searched for a new enemy. However, as soon as he saw that no one there anymore, he stood still in a daze.
A soldier called out to the farmer riding in the wagon. Calm returned as the chirping of birds could be heard from afar. Finally, Fin blinked his eyes as he returned back to his senses and took a deep breath.
A husky voice called out to him, and Fin turned to face it, still limited in his sense of reality. Varte was pale as he stared at the boy, but Fin couldn’t understand why. With a small tilt of his head, he asked, “Are you alright?” But, Varte asked a question instead of answering.
“You….are you enjoying this?”
Fin furrowed his brow, unable to understand. Varte cleared his throat and looked at him with a strong vigilance like before, no, even stronger.
“You don’t….enjoying killing, right?”
Fin’s eyes were open wide at these unexpected words. Varte loosened the tension in his shoulders at his response. He breathed a sigh of relief, but even if he tried to hide it, Fin could easily see.
“Of course not,” Fin said, clearly hurt. “I just don’t want to die; that’s it.”
Saying that, he looked around once again. At this time, the smell of blood and human waste discharged by the corpses slowly stunk the area.
“There’s no way, I could be enjoying this.”
He muttered and shook his head. When he thought that he was being looked at in such a way, he was shocked.
“My bad,” Varte gave a short apology. “The way you fight was just too skillful and such. Like you didn’t know what fear was. You probably had a really good instructor.”
Fin didn’t answer. He couldn’t answer.
(I…..I’m not….enjoying this.)
That was certain. However, he also didn’t feel fear. Nothingーhe felt absolutely nothing. After he defeated his 1st opponent, he recalled that his emotions would suddenly disappear.
Like he was controlled by something, he could read their movements, time his breathing, and calculate his strength and movementsーall indifferently and calmly. Rather than calling it killing, it was like he was simply cleaning.
He understood that it couldn’t be helped that this was something to be feared.
(Is there something strange about me?)
He unconsciously stared at his hand. This hand had taken the lives of several people only moments ago.
His opponents were bandits and murdersーpeople who must be killed. That’s why he didn’t feel any guilt. Though, even if it was justified, wouldn’t it be normal to feel something, some kind of feeling he couldn’t quite explain, when he killed someone?
(But, thanks to that, I survived.)
He clenched his fist. He was alive. His enemies laid defeated while he was standing. This was the result of him being able to fight without feelings and defeat his foes. If he was seized with fear, became confused, tried to run, or panicked, he may have died. Of course, if that was the case, he wouldn’t have been able to save Varte either.
(….Let’s not think too deeply about this.)
He opened his fist and breathed out. At any rate, he was alive; that was what mattered the most. He was alive; he could return to the city and go see Nellis.
When he recalled his family’s faces, warmth spread through his chest, and his face relaxed. Fin gave a small nod then walked away slowly.
All the soldiers were uninjured and gathered around the wagon. The poor horse was soaked in sweat and had blood dripping from its nose, but it managed to survive. Also dripping with sweat, its owner didn’t have anything serious besides bruises and small cuts on his face and arms. Moreover, several boxes of onions and kidney beans still remained inside the wagon. That had to be due to good luck.
“Sorry, recently, we haven’t been able to provide enough protection for the main road.”
“It’s alright. Thanks to ya, I’ve narrowly escaped death. Ya know, I also smashed one guy’s head with this thing. Anyways, there were too many of ’em. Like a swarm of stray dogs or sumthing.”
While the farmer was answering the captain, he pointed to the hatchet sitting right next to the driver’s seat of the wagon. Fin also took a peek from the side and reflectively grimaced at the bloodied axe. It really was strange. If it were a sword or spear, he would be fine, but seeing something meant to be used in everyday life suddenly changed into a tool of murder, it felt ominous for some reason.
Unaffected by Fin, the farmer continued to talk.
“Also, I had thought that this was a familiar road, but looks like I messed up this time. There was a clump of grass on the roadside, ya know. So, I did my business there, but….I think it might’ve made a cryin’ child’s voice.”
Fin gasped in surprise and lifted his face. The farmer was looking at the captain so he didn’t notice.
“So then, I carelessly went deeper into the rustling grove of trees. However, before I could see how it looked, them bastards shouted. I realized that this was bad; them bandits appeared. I panicked and retraced my steps, but at that time, they’d already noticed me and came a-chasin’. The moment I got on the wagon, one of ’em came flyin’ out from the bush. That’s when I bashed his head with that.”
The farmer was completely excited, possibly a reaction to being rescued and protected. Surely he would recount today’s events as a heroic tale whenever he went drinking from now on; this was the sort of feeling coming from him. Fin felt awkward, afraid to put a damper on things as he cut into the conversation, “Um.”
“About that, where did this happen? I mean, where did the child’s crying voice come from?”
“Hm? Oh, sonny, ya planning on settin’ their headquarters aflame? I don’t suggest that. The center of the forest is their turf. It won’t go down like it did here. It’ll be tough for even ya soldiers if ya get ambushed….Well, it’ll be a different story if ya bring a bunch of people with ya. Ya take the west fork in the road and it’s past that, I think. Aah, so, ya go from here, annddd the fork should be right there.”
“Understood.” The one who responded was Varte, “I’ll report this to the barracks and see if we can request for a suppression squad. Until then, be careful.”
He slapped the farmer on the back. The farmer nodded, “Yeah,” and slowly left, heading towards the city. Seeing him off, Varte gave an annoyed groan.
“…..’Be careful’, huh. Damn it.”
Fin also understood his feeling as he let out a sigh. Talking about what and how to be careful. A hatchet was incidentally useful this time, but the same good fortune may not necessarily befall of him again. In the past, there was no need to say to be careful as it was obvious.
“Since we’re talking about bandits and not the Beasts of Darkness, the commander may give us something actually decent. I don’t wanna, but I got no choice but to appeal to the higher-ups.”
Varte exclaimed his reluctance and suddenly looked at Fin.
“Why are you concerned about a child?”
“……They might possibly be…a survivor from Tetna.”
Hesitant to answer, Fin answered in a whisper. The soldiers who heard him gathered together, startled. Fin continued to speak without looking at their faces. If he did look, he thought he would be blamed.
“I had brought with me all the orphans, but before we could enter the city, we were attacked by a group of bandits. We lost the whereabouts of five of them. So I thought that maybe….”
“Yeah. That might be the case. Damn it, we have to get that one squad no matter what.”
Varte roared. Just like the man’s enthusiasm, Fin unexpectedly felt somewhat in a good mood. It probably showed on his face as Varte looked at him and coldly said.
“Their kind is the worst they can get. In the past, my wife and children were killed by bandits.”
“I wanted revenge so I joined the army corps and worked hard to hunt the bandits. But, I couldn’t defeat the reason for my resentment.”
Varte cast his eyes downward and talked frankly about his past. Fin timidly asked.
“You couldn’t find them?”
“No,” Varte shook his head and abruptly stared intently at Fin. “They were captured by the Nanais troops. Even though I wanted to murder and end them all, they were hung in Nanais…….Do you remember?”
The voice he used to ask his question strangely contained a threat. Fin shook his head and asked a question instead, perplexed.
“How old is this story?”
“Close to 20 years ago.”
“In that case, I wasn’t even born yet. Even if I was born, I would’ve only been a baby.”
“Is that so? Which reminds me, how old are you?”
What do you mean by ‘That’s right’? Fin couldn’t comprehend, but Varte looked like he was content and said nothing more. Fin was baffled and stood still, surrounded by a gloomy mood. He wanted to ask stuff like, ‘Do I look like someone?’ and ‘Is there a connection to my age?’, but he most likely wouldn’t receive a response.
Reluctantly, Fin remained silent and walked at the back of the line as the party returned to the city. In spite of purposely slowing down to leave some distance, Eutis also slowed down and lined up next to him as usual.
“Fin, you’re amazing, you know~”
“But, it looks like you still haven’t gotten used to using spears yet, huh. If you’d like, next time I……’
“Could you please be quiet?”
“You’re annoying; shut up,” is what he wanted to shout, but he held it back and groaned, grinding his teeth. As expected, even Eutis flinched and shut his mouth in embarrassment. He tried to play it off by scratching his nose and shrugging his shoulders, but despite all that happened, he continued to walk without leaving Fin’s side.
Fin grit his teeth and kept his mouth shut, completely intent on continuing to neglect Eutis. He stopped and turned to look behind.
The bandits’ corpses were already gathering crows. It was clear that a funeral wouldn’t be necessary. After the crows and stray dogs eat, everything would be clean after just one night. It was also possible that not even the bones would be left.
(Wait….Why were they safe?)
Fin suddenly noticed this and frowned. Varte called out to him from the front.
“Hey, Phineas, you see something?”
“No. I was just thinking that it’s strange that they weren’t attacked by the Beasts of Darkness.”
“Hell if I know,” Varte spat out those words. “They’re garbage. Guess the Beasts of Darkness don’t eat that kind of stuff. Unless they see those trash as their comrades. Don’t slack!”
“Hurry up,” Fin was yelled at, and after looking at his surroundings one more time, he slowly turned his body. The breeze that carried a slight warmth from summer followed by the stench of blood surrounded Fin’s body.
(So there are humans that they don’t want to eat. If so, I also….)
Would he be included in such a group…..?
Shiver He shook his head to throw off such unpleasant thoughts. Fin gave up thinking about it anymore and began to run to catch up with everyone else.
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