Chapter 9:

The General

The Second Route

 “Good luck, Deliruu-kun,” Risho raises a thumb to me.

“I’m sure luck is all mine,” I return her gesture with a smile and walk away headed for the castle’s walls.

From there, I meet up with the Second General to request entry into the castle’s library.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t allow you today.” Tina apologizes.

“Well, is there a time I can come?” I ask.

“Unfortunately, there is none,” Tina shakes her head, “the Queen is having an important discussion with the advisors,” Tina explains.

I look around and notice the various luxurious carriages that I assume were the advisors, but knowing this has to be my only chance to complete my contract, I try insisting. “Is there nothing you can do?”

“No, unfortunately, I can—”

I lower my head and glare at Tina, “But the Queen said I can come anytime, didn’t she say that?”

Tina nods, “Yes, but under my juri—”

I raise my fist in front of my face, “Then let me talk to the Queen about this.”

Tina raises her hand in protest, “H—hey now, why are you in a ru—”

“I’m going,” I stubbornly make my way past her.

But Tina blocks my path and grips the hilt of her sword, “I won’t allow you to. Don’t you understand? The Queen is in an important meeting, too important to hear any of your requests. Let alone a visit to the library!”

I avoid her and continue to the gate, and the guards start to take notice.

“Hey!” Tina calls out and unsheathes her sword and outstretches a hand to me, “continue any further, and your head shall be cut off!”

Feeling the heat inside my head, the tension in the air, the desperation I unearth, I back off realizing that I have to plan for the perfect time instead of impatiently rushing in. I remember Risho saying that contracts don’t have a time limit and I don’t have to rush, but lately, Risho seems to have grown impatient with me. But rushing things could worsen the situation, I decide to withdraw.

The guards relax, and Tina runs toward me while she puts her sword back in its sheath, “What was that all about?”

I ignore her question and continue as if I was not aware of her presence.

“Hey, I’m talking to you,” Tina nudges me, “why are you like this?”

I continue ignoring her to organize my thoughts. I stare onto the pavement I am walking on while devising plans and predicting consequences for the plan. I try thinking about how I could get in before my target disappears again. But why was I so worried about him leaving early? Why was I taking a hasty action? Didn’t I have a lot of time? Something feels off.

Tina’s voice slowly seeps into my consciousness, “…if you are really in a rush to go into the library, I will find a way, okay?”

I turn to face her and look for a moment.

“Deliruu-kun, is something wrong?” Tina asks with concern. Something I rarely hear, especially if it’s her. She always seems to hide her true self.

I shake my head, “Then, may I visit tonight?” I clasp my hands together and plead.

Tina thinks for a moment while I stand in eager anticipation. She takes a deep breath before she speaks, “Sure, meet me at the gates when the moon is high.” She quickly leaves before I could ask a question.

“’…when the moon is high.’? What?” I return to the guild downhearted, but not defeated because of the newfound hope I am clinging to. I see Risho sitting at a table with my sword sheathed on it, but she doesn’t see me.

“Yamade-san,” Risho faces me in surprise as I ask for her attention, “tonight, I will enter armed.”

“What happened?” Risho asks.

“There is a meeting with the Queen today, I can’t enter it when that happens,” I answer.

“That’s unfortunate, but we can always wait,” Risho sighs, “but you should have taken the chance.” Risho’s face tenses up.

“What?” I react in confusion. She has always been calm, but she now is rushing things to the point of desperation. Is she hurrying up for something? I notice this too yesterday when Pareyo paraded. “Risho, is there something wrong?”

“Something wrong? Yes, absolutely,” Risho stands up to face me properly, “why didn’t you take the chance? You could have finished the contract, then we would…” her voice trails off, and her brows furrow in a mix of anger, impatience, and desperation.

“We would, what?” I ask in bewilderment.

“Why didn’t you learn it sooner? Why didn’t you do it sooner? Why are you waiting? Why are you acting slow?” Risho tears start streaming down her face, “Why are you acting differently?”

My eyes go wide. Me? Acting different? I suppose, but how would she know? I keep those questions aside to solve the problem at hand, “I don’t get what you are saying,” I attempt to comfort her with my words, “but if you would please lay it simply, I might sympathize.”

“I don’t need your sympathy! I need your love!” Risho shouts causing a commotion in the guild. I stand there frozen, trying to gather my thoughts and decipher her words.

My head starts to hurt, but I have to be strong here, “I don’t understand what you mean by that.” Her tears don’t cease to fall, and all I could do is look down and hold my head. I try to think of a method to comfort her, but I couldn’t. I do not understand what she shouted to me, “I need your love!” I repeat those words inside my head, but I couldn’t fathom why in the heavens would Risho say such.

While I was in a trance, Risho runs out of the guild. I call out to her, but my throat is too dry to produce any sound. I look upon my sword that was left on the table. I sigh, but the weight in my mind and heart don’t get lifted, “I guess I have to do this alone.” I try to dismiss the event, thinking it is some kind of mistake, and that Risho would return. So I wait for her in the guild.It has been hours since that conflict. I look out of the windows to see the moonlight shining through. I sigh, as time passed, I tried to decipher Risho’s words. Then a stray thought occurs to me. “…when the moon is high.” Realizing the meaning of this unnecessary riddle, I take my sword and rush to the walls and notice that the carriages were gone.

I arrive there panting and Tina hands me a water pouch. I gulp the water inside it and look up to speak. “Sorry, I’m late.” I lift my hands in apology.

“You are right on time,” Tina’s eyes fall on the sword on my waist, “The meeting ended early, so let’s get going.”

We walk up in silence, but I can sense that she is annoyed. I glance at Tina who was beside me, and her armor reflectively shines the moonlight above. It was bluish-gold, a color I thought I would never see. Looking at her helmet makes me blind. So I redirect my eyes to the ground.“What is so special about you?” Tina asks out of the blue.

I respond with a “Huh?”

“The Queen never ends her meetings. She lets the advisors talk all they want, but today,” Tina sighs and shakes her head, “she ended the meeting. She is in a rush to meet you.”

“Oh?” I put my chin on my knuckle, “interesting.”

“I told her that you wanted to visit today. That’s why,” Tina stops walking and falls behind me.I look back at Tina, who is glowing under the moonlight. My heart starts beating loudly. At that moment, I hold the hilt of my sword.

“Why do you want to visit the library?” Tina holds the hilt of her sword, “What is your mission?”I do not answer in response but stayed alert because of the tension.

Tina starts talking sharply and glares at me, “What did you have to do with the Queen? Why are you in a rush to visit today? Do you have something to do with the advisors? General Pareyo?” I flinch but try not to show that I did, but Tina notices. “I knew it, you are here to kill the Queen,”

Tina draws her sword and assumes a familiar sword stance I read in one of the books. “You have to get through me first.”

“I am not here to kill the Queen. I can assure you that,” I loosen my grip on the hilt.

“Then why did you react?” She points at me, “What do you have to do with the General?”

“It’s only about him,” I sharpen my gaze, “I am here to kill him.”

Tina lowers her sword instantly, “To kill, the General?”

I nod and draw my sword, “So if I have to get through you—” I strengthen my grip.

Tina begins to laugh, “You? You will kill him?” She grips her stomach, “That is impossible! How did the mercenary guild have you?”

I assume a unique stance. One that is not found in any books of this world. It is my signature stance. The sword points down while my arm is fully extended. My body faces the enemy sideways so that I could easily dodge and attack. For reference, I shall call it, “Delirium.” But Tina continues to laugh and I start to become irritated. “Are we going to fight or not?” I point the sword against her.

Tina sheathes her sword and takes off her helmet making her blonde hair flutter because of the night’s breeze, “We don’t have to fight,” she raises her hands, “follow me. I have something to tell you about.”