Chapter 12 – The lake
Both factions spent the night in high tension.
Tarkus waited for his plans to attacks to unfold, while Brendel was worried that he was unable to gauge how much time was left. Madara’s army and the eleven youths from Bucce moved through the silent darkness, their destiny closely intertwining while they moved away from each other.
Eventually the sun rose. The first ray of light hit the ground to indicate morning was here, and it seemed to pass by in a flash. The militia did not encounter even the most common brown bears in this region, and they appeared to be safe from enemies.
The militia in front of Brendel parted the obstacles in front of them with a swishing sound from the vegetation, and he squinted his eyes. The golden sunlight seemed to pierce through the dense vegetation. He followed the voice and looked up from the stretcher he was in, and the surface of the scenery in front of him looked like a mirror, with the reflection of light entering into his eyes.
It was like a dazzling emerald that was placed here with the surface shimmering in the midst of trees and mountains.
“Look, it’s a lake!” Little Fenix shouted in a surprise.
Freya rewarded him with a smack to his head, making him cry out in pain.
They were not traveling to relax, and everyone had to be more cautious as they might meet Madara’s army anytime. Even though they were safe the entire night, Brendel had also explained the reason that there was no Strategic Value in this vicinity.
As to what Strategic Value meant, the young girl did not know.
The youth that came from Bruglas seemed to always know more things than everyone else. Even though she was not content with that fact, she had to grudgingly accept it.
She wondered if every other youth in the city was as brilliant as he was.
Under their silent movements, Freya had transited from one extreme end to another. She could not help but feel a little jealous. If she had trained in Bruglas along with the other militia, she might be able to do better than this shameless cad.
The world was unfair!
Except that the truth was there was no ‘Bruglas’s militia training camp. Sophie, no, he should be Brendel now, trained in Dragaz. Sophie did not mention about where Brendel originally trained, as he needed to maintain a facade to gain the youths’ confidence to lead them out of this impossible situation. (TL: From now onwards Sophie will call himself Brendel.)
Freya might be able to do it in the future, but she was unable to do it now.
Brendel looked at her as he contemplated things. The girl with the ponytail was observing the surroundings and she hesitated for a while, before finally relaxing the grip on her sword and exhaled.
“We’ll take a break here.” Freya gave the order after confirming there was no danger.
Everyone relaxed at the same time.
“I almost died!”
“I’m going to bet I won’t do anything but sleep at Fortress Riedon.”
“We can discuss all we want to do when we actually reach there.”
“Shut up Irene!” Their voices could be heard in the forest. Even though they tried to keep their voices low, every sentence was uttered with a rush of delight.
They were just too tired.
A single night was not a long time, but their high tension was something akin to torture. They traveled through the forest under the dim starlight with immense pressure from the life and death situations that might occur anytime. It was so dark that they could not see their own fingers properly, and the only thing that accompanied them was the sounds from flying insects and the occasional owl hoots in the forest.
They moved across endless trees in the darkness with a somber mood on them, and it was as if silent spirits hovered over everyone. The chilly atmosphere made them even more tense.
It was always an unknown mystery what was behind the dense vegetation, and the bedtime stories that depicted the monsters in the mountain did not help at all.
When dawn finally broke and with the cold atmosphere finally disappearing, everyone appeared as if they had been hoisted out of water. Their faces were pale with clammy perspiration on their forehead. Even Brendel was not an exception. In the past he had obviously slept on a comfortable bed, away from wars and lived in a peaceful land, but he was now on a stretcher listening to all sorts of strange and scary noises from his surroundings.
Especially in this darkness where the leaves frequently brushed passed his face, and unknown insects crawling on his neck.
Mother Marsha above, once he thought about doing this for the next whole week, he nearly flipped out. He wanted desperately to go back to his former life, even if he did appear cowardly, he wanted to go back to his former peace.
This otaku was always enthusiastic, but his passion came and died quickly. But once he saw Freya’s exhaustion and worried demeanor, he stopped and calmed down.
Because he was being relied on.
He realized he needed to throw away the identity of Sophie and accept his new life. He touched his own chest and realized the one who died was not Brendel, but Sophie.
It was not him that accepted this world, but this world that accommodated him.
Brendel’s stretcher was placed beside the lake, and he could see colored pebbles not far from him. He checked Jonathon’s status. He miraculously lived from the ordeal, but his condition was not optimistic.
“How is he?” Mackie asked.
“Uncertain.” Brendel shook his head.
Mackie became quiet and stared at the lake and threw pebbles into it.
This river was called the Crystal Lake, and by reaching this place, it meant that they were very close to the Green village. However, the only one that knew where they were going was Brendel. The youth stared in another direction, and saw a few faint signs of grey smoke.
It looks like Kebias had already attacked the village. Its fate was no different from Bucce. The speed at which Madara attacked was incredibly quick, and it did not play out differently from his memories within the game.
Brendel still remembered about this lake and he took a look at the other end. The trees were dense and dark under the high mountains, but he saw familiar shadows lurking nearby.
He remembered that he spent a considerable time in this area hunting brown bears and foxes, and smiled as he recalled the days where he sold the hides in-game to earn money.
He took back his hand that was on Jonathon’s head and spoke to Mackie: “Help me out with something.”
“To do what?”
“Help me take out my bandages.”
Brendel wanted to change his own bandages. He had earlier asked Romaine to distribute the sausages that he took from his home, and everyone had the chance to taste the well known sausage from the Grinoires region.
He was exasperated to find that none of these militia actually thought about taking some rations with them when they escaped from Bucce. Even the reliable Freya did not think this point through as well.
The remaining food they had was just this long roll of sausage.
“Let’s talk about what you saw when you left Bucce, so that we can understand more about the enemy to– Shit, Mackie, not so forcefully.” He hurt so much that his eyebrows trembled.
Freya sighed when she saw this scene: “I’ll do it, move away, Mackie.”
Brendel looked on in surprise as the girl with the long ponytail walked right to him. She lowered her and carefully removed the bandages.
“Is there a problem to distribute all the food like this?” She hesitated for a while before asking quietly.
[This bastard obviously know what I’m talking about!]
Freya gritted her teeth in annoyance, but Brendel found it funny when this kind hearted girl did not dare to make any sudden movements her hands.
“You know what I’m talking about right? We’re not going to Fortress Briedon?” Freya lowered her voice to a whisper that almost could not be heard.
Brendel studied Freya carefully, and he thought that long ponytail with its light brown color suited her very well. He thought for a moment and asked: “Your aunt and uncle should be in another party right?”
Freya hands stopped as she buried her head downwards.
“Sorry,” Brendel sighed: “If there’s a chance, I’ll do something about it. But I can’t guarantee anything and shoulder this responsibility. It’s too big.”
It was a hushed reply.
“Captain Freya, brother Brendel, what are you guys muttering to each other?” Little Fenix’s voice rang out with awful timing. He was sitting under a tree and looking curiously at the two. Freya was someone he had always admired, and Brendel was his new idol.
His words successfully attracted everyone’s attention and turned over at the same time to look at them.
Freya’s face turned crimson, as she realized he was too close to the cad, and stepped backwards to explain: “N-nothing, j-just discussing……” Unfortunately, this innocent girl did not understand that it was better not to explain herself, but with her retreating step and explanation, everyone had their own foregone conclusion.
Especially that blushing face, when did the captain ever got shy?
Romaine rubbed her sleepy eyes and sat up. She seemed to have just noticed what happened. Even though Freya was afraid she might misunderstand something, she tried to signal her for help, but the merchant girl had her head in the clouds and smiled freely: “It’s fine Freya.”
“Et tu, Romaine—” The girl with the pony tail could not finish her sentence, and her words seemed to choke.
She glared at Romaine, and wanted to march up to her and strangle this damn girl.
But Brendel noticed a worried gaze over to him from the youth Neberto. He was slightly taken back. Could Neberto be interested in Freya?
[If you lack bravery that would not cut it.] He shook his head.
“Alright that’s enough,” He interrupted everyone: “I’m discussing the question of food distribution with your captain.”
Brendel’s words were like the natural authority from a lord, and everyone stopped and focused their attention on him.
[So Miss Romaine, can you explain why are you looking at me with shining eyes? Are you looking at loot?] He shook his head for the umpteen time.
He continued: “This amount of food, it’s not enough even if we ration it. Besides, we need to keep our strength up to handle any enemies we encounter.”
“But-” Freya only said one word and saw Brendel shaking his head at her.
“The Green village is not far ahead, and we can travel there to find something to eat. The undead does not need to eat, and this food originally belonged to us humans. We have the right to take it back.” He said.
“The green village? Isn’t it overrun with Madara’s troops?” Erik was sitting on the ground when he asked. His injuries on his legs were bandaged with the help of Brendel, and he had nearly recovered fully.
The bandaging effect was a hidden recovery value. It would slow down after a period of time to indicate that the bandages needed changing. The time to recover HP was nearly a day in this world, so a change of bandages was only necessary until then.
“Of course there are enemies. But we are moving in a small group, and we might not encounter them directly.” Brendel answered. He had established an escape route and was prepared.
“A small group, you mean we’re sneaking in?” Little Fenix became interested.
“Yes, I’m going to pick a few to go along with me.” Brendel nodded and he looked at everyone: “Erik and Vlad are injured, Mackie and Neberto are to stay behind to take care of them. Romaine, you stay behind and take care of Bella. As for the others…. Irene and Freya, the two of you go along with me.”
“”NO!”” Little Fenix and Freya objected at the same time.
“Irene and I can go, but Brendel you need to stay behind.” She inhaled deeply.
Did this guy even know how bad his injuries are.
“I’m going to go too.” The brat was the first to jump up.
Brendel looked at them and sighed: ” Very well, I’ll answer your questions.” He bit the bandage in his mouth as he wrapped the other end around his body tightly.
A faint green [+2] floated from his body.
He breathed in deeply and felt his strength gradually returning to his body. Even though he was still weak, especially feeling the debilitating poison in his body that was consuming his strength, he could manage to move by himself.
He lifted his head up and asked: “So, Miss Freya, what reason do you have for keeping me here? Injuries?”
“It’s good that you know that.” She turned her head away with a scoff.
Brendel smiled faintly, with his teeth barely showing.