Chapter 22 – Accident
The decision for a three pronged approach was quickly accepted, and it was now a matter of how they were going to move out.
Marden will personally lead the guards to attack Madara’s undead army before dawn and attempt to break out of the siege, while Bretton will lead the remaining villagers across the River of Daggers. Brendel and Romaine will travel across the Zevail mountain pathway to inform Fortress Riedon of the attack.
They were going to move out in three hours.
Marden dismissed them, and the young guards quietly turned around and left. They did not waste their breaths on any more words, and only the sound of clinking equipment being packed by them.
The campfire’s wood crackled while the flames flicked chaotically, and the shadows swayed about on the ground that was full of leaves and pebbles. Everyone had many things to prepare for the attack. The final few hours of the night felt like grueling torture to them.
Freya had gone to gather the third militia squadron, while Brendel packed his own bag and stashed the remaining health potion that he found. The other bottle that he took from the tomb had been given to Jonathon.
Brendel was actually unwilling to see someone die before his very eyes and saved the youth, with the excuse of ‘I wanted to have Bucce’s citizens’ good will and his family’s gratitude’ given to the militia.
He felt that his identity as a modern person was affecting him every waking moment. He wanted to pursue a better world as he witnessed the cruel battlefield in front of him.
He randomly stuffed two days worth of food into the bag, mostly dried jerky and biscuits that were made with various ingredients. The Amber Sword’s world had stronger production values compared to the real medieval era on Earth, thus there was abundant resources here.
Anyone who knew this world would understand their civilization level was relatively high, but the progression seemed to have taken on a different route compared to Earth.
When he checked his items again and pulled out the bottle of health potion, he was surprised. He discovered a hard piece of paper that was stuck under the bottle. It looked it was glued onto it but he easily took it out.
It was slightly bigger than a poker card, with the width about the size of a palm. There were magical sigil patterns on the back of the card, while there was a knight kneeling on the ground on the other side. The knight was wearing a full set of armor with his hands raising the sword to the air.
At the top left hand corner of the card, there was the number ‘ii’ written in ancient language, while at the center bottom were six yellow crystals. Brendel recognized these crystals in the game as a term called ‘Element Type’. Six yellow crystals represent ‘Earth Element’ and ‘6’.
Brendel was very knowledgeable about the game’s lore and there were very few things that he did not know, but the thing in his hand was a riddle that he knew nothing much about. He pondered for a while and was certain that this was taken from Gerald’s tomb, but that itself did not provide any clues to what this was.
He might be able to search the internet forums or the game’s information panel in the game, but here Brendel was limited to level 1 in all his knowledge skills, what could he search for?
After considering all possibilities, he finally raised the card with his fingers, and asked the merchant girl who was concentrating on repairing the edges of her dress with a needle and thread.
“Little Romaine, do you know anything about this?”
“D-don’t call me that!” Romaine’s little eyebrows went up to her hair:
“Huh? What’s this, a tarot card?”
“I know what a tarot card looks like.”
“Then I have no idea what’s that.”
Brendel scrutinized the card and wanted to say something more, but he suddenly squinted his eyes. He spotted Bretton and a few of the young guards pulling their horses into the trees’ shadows.
[What are they up to?]
He suddenly thought about the strange behavior that Bretton had when Marden and he were discussing. As suspicion grew in his heart, he kept the card away and stood up. He began to follow them.
“Wait here for me.” He said to Romaine.
The guards might be youths with great potential, and their individual strength significantly surpassing an average person, but they were not alert of their surroundings. The entire group that walked in the forest actually did not discover the person who was tailing them at all.
Certainly, there was also the fact that Brendel was a veteran at moving in the shadows, from the time where he had to fight against the big guilds or to negotiate with them in the game. It was just that he did not realize that he was using these techniques subconsciously.
If a normal person saw how Brendel was tailing them, they would not see anything unusual about his movements, but Zeta who was scouting in the tree nearly had his eyes popped out. He immediately recognized the young man as Brendel. His captain had personally told the guards before that he was merely passable in swordsmanship and useless in all other areas.
The swordsmanship of a militia did not really count for anything in their eyes, and any of them could even defeat Freya or Irene. However, as members of the guards, they had their own pride and did not pick fights with a militia.
No matter how much Bretton hated Brendel, he would not say something like, “I’m going to teach you a lesson!”, because it would look like he was lowering his status as a guard.
Yet, at this very moment, what Zeta saw in Brendel was something completely different. He remembered the time when he was mentored by an esquire who even received a Scarlet Medal, but his techniques definitely paled in comparison to this young man. (TL: Esquire is one rank below a knight.)
Brendel was like a shadow hiding in the darkness. Every time he moved, he avoided the ever-changing lights from the valley. It was by chance that Zeta spotted him because Brendel was in between the light and his position, otherwise he believed that he would have no chance of spotting him.
Was the vice-captain wrong about him? Perhaps he was actually a scout for the guards? Or was he really Madara’s spy?
Zeta suddenly felt himself tense up. What should he do? He definitely could not make any noises, otherwise he would spoil the vice-captain’s plan. The camp was only thirty meters away and any commotions would draw the attention of others.
He took a deep breath and gestured at Ryan who was in another tree nearby, indicating him to pay attention to Brendel’s direction. At first Ryan was a little puzzled why Zeta kept pointing at a direction where nobody was at, and even thought he might be drunk, but soon enough he saw Brendel and his expression changed.
[Holy shit, is this guy a chameleon?]
“What are we going to do?” He gestured and ask.
“I’ll go up first, cover me from the right.” Zeta gestured back.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, his skill in the sword is formidable, at least a ‘second-class unranked swordsman’.”
A ‘second-class unranked swordsman’ was a specialized term amongst swordsmen. This rank was the equivalent of the best guards, while a ‘first-class’ was of a white rank Swordsman’s strength, or equivalent to a player from level 5-20. Zeta was afraid that Brendel hid more of his capabilities, thus he treated him with utmost wariness.
Ryan nodded to acknowledge his plan.
Brendel was in complete surprise.
[Twenty over men, ten over battle horses, classmate Bretton, are you trying to cause a mutiny?]
But he knew that was impossible and unnecessary for Bretton to do something like that. After following them for a while, they stopped and discussed quietly among themselves. When he wanted to approach closer, he suddenly felt he was in danger.
[It’s too quiet. Right about halfway through this journey, the insects suddenly stopped making noises.]
He used to pair up with a girl called ‘Shadow’ with the profession of ‘nightingale’. Even though the scouting and searching was done by this profession in the game, Brendel learned enough from her and experienced many battles to adopt an instinctive sharpness, and even the slightest movement from a blade of grass was enough to put him on alert.
Just like how he foresaw Rothko’s search for him back then in Bucce.
Brendel immediately sensed an arm trying to wrap around his neck from behind, a technique used by scouts. Brendel took one step backwards, his hands immediately working to grab the opponent’s elbow and wrist. He made use of his body weight and sank to the ground, and raise his arms upwards to pull and throw this unknown person, and instantaneously sent a black figure flying to the tree. The figure knocked against the tree and emitted a muffled sound of pain.
The strength between the two was about the same, but Brendel had the slight advantage of attacking first. However, he saw that the figure’s immediate action was not to defend himself but to rush at him, and a flash in his mind quickly made him realize there was another person nearby.
A silver flash of light streaked across the air, and Brendel’s ‘Thorn of Light’ was instantly unsheathed. He stepped sideways and the sword was already at the other man’s neck.
The dim light from the reflection of his sword lit their faces.
Zeta and Ryan were astonished. Even though they thought that Brendel was perhaps stronger than their vice-captain, there had to be a limit to his skill. Even if Bretton was the top swordsman amongst them, it was impossible for him to fight against two guards at the same time.
They felt like they were somehow in a dream and just stared at Brendel’s sword.
“Listen up, everyone. Captain Marden is an old veteran from the November War. Everyone here should be familiar with this point. He had already fulfilled his duty to the kingdom and proved his loyalty. We have an old saying, ‘If Mother Marsha allows you to live, then you should cherish your luck.’
We cannot allow a veteran who had survived against all odds from the November War to bet his life once again. That is why I made this plan. Please allow me to lead all of you to protect Bucce. It is not because I desire to steal glory from someone else, but this is simply something that I cannot run away from.”
“Well said, vice-captain!”
“We will support you.”
“Captain Marden will understand.”
Bretton smiled. When Marden ordered him to lead the villagers to the River of Daggers, he had decided to refuse. However, he knew of the old man’s temper and he would never allow him to object, therefore he decided to make a bet here.
He did understand that Marden was trying to protect him. The captain had said more than once that he would become someone of importance, and would become a pillar to support this kingdom. But Bretton also understood that Aouine did not need any cowards.
Once he thought about it, he saw Brendel’s face in his mind. The useless bastard actually took the initiative to suggest crossing Zevail’s mountain pathway. He thought that Brendel was just trying to find an excuse and run away. It was definitely a possibility.
But right at this moment, a light noise in the quiet forest made everyone turn their heads.
They saw Brendel pointing his sword at Zeta and Ryan’s backs as they walked out from the bushes. At first everyone did not react to this scene, then their expressions changed like they saw a ghost.
“Ryan, what happened?”
“Ha ha, we made a mistake.” Zeta’s face was one of embarrassment.
As for Brendel, he looked at the vice captain with surprise on his face. He did not expect this fellow to be so bold; he actually wanted to lead these willing youths for a diversionary attack against Madara. What sort of spirit did he exactly have?
Brendel found it a little funny but he also respected this decision. Was it merely a youth’s hot-blooded nature, or just his ideals? And yet when he took a closer look at Bretton, he saw there were traces of responsibility in his eyes.
Bretton was glowering at Brendel, how could he not do so? If Brendel yelled out and alerted the camp, his entire plans would have been for naught.
“What do you want?” Bretton growled at him. He wanted to use a stronger tone but he was hoping that Brendel would not divulge his plan, which he was almost certain of.
Brendel lowered his sword.