Chapter 12:

Town Rush

The Second Route

 The messenger drives the horse through the night. The sweat crawls to the side of my face as the horse gallops at breakneck speeds. My butt is starting to hurt from the constant up and down motion.

“General, would you please allow the horse some rest?” the messenger turns his toward me, and I can discern his fatigue about to overcome him.

My conscience tells me not to push any further for the sake of the boy, but the reason is mostly that I need my butt to rest, “Sure, you get some rest too.”

We stop by a nearby tree in a middle of a snowy field. The moonlight illuminates the snow on the field and on the trees beyond making the view enchanting. I look up to the skies and see stars and the snow peacefully drifting. I find various colors of the stars. A sight to see. Straight out of a fantasy film. It looks unreal, but I know it’s real, for I can feel it’s real. “Maybe I can see a black star,” I mutter as I point at the sky, and the messenger stifles his laugh. I smile back at him appreciating him for laughing at my joke.

“General, is it alright that we rest here? I do not want to delay you any further,” the messenger strokes the nose of his horse.

I shake my head and wave my hand dismissively, “It’s alright. It’s better for you and the horse to rest than to sacrifice for an unworthy general,” I smile at him, “also, call me Bari. I won’t mind.”

“Si—” the messenger hesitates, “thank you.” The messenger slightly bows his head and continues to care for his horse.

The night grows deeper, and the messenger takes out his sleeping mat and offers it to me, but I decline to tell him that he needs the rest more than I do. He thankfully nods and starts to doze off. I stroll around the tree gazing upon the stars while the snow slowly falls while occasionally looking at the forest and the field for some activity. I shiver as I walk further away from where the messenger and his horse rested. I worry myself thinking if I would have time by tomorrow morning, but I wouldn’t want to stress the messenger and his horse that he cares so much for. I decide to traverse the field and through the forest, alone, as fast as I can to Lunis. The best possible option without bothering anybody.

I estimate that four hours have passed, and I see dawn starting to break from the horizon. I look up and see the town of Lunis ways away from where I am. It would probably take an hour to walk until then. I decide to run to save time and see if the townspeople are alright. I arrive and lean at the town’s low wooden fence gate as I pant in drowsy exhaustion. My eyelids start to close when I see Lina and Rina running toward me.

“Deliruu-kun! Deliruu-kun!” Lina shouts, “are you okay!?”

But before I could muster a response, my consciousness shuts down.

I open my eyes but see nothing. But I know without a doubt that my eyes are wide open. I didn’t feel drowsy or tired. I feel energetic than before. Yet, my eyes see nothing, and I feel nothing. I stretch my arms in front of me and can see both of my arms. I look at my body and realize that I am floating. “Ah, this is the darkness I was in the last time,” I think to myself but the thoughts are spoken aloud by my voice, yet my mouth didn’t open nor speak. Someone in the darkness voiced my thoughts.

“Bari,” a voice akin to mine speaks. I look for the source of the voice but it was too dark to pinpoint where it is coming from. “Bari Deliruu,” the voice hideously speaks again.

“Who are you?” I shout.

“The correct response is, ‘What is it?’” the voice speaks.

“What are you talking about?” I turn my floating body and try to move to find the voice, “Where am I?”

“Where are you?” the voice makes a little laugh, “you can call it whatever you want. It doesn’t matter to you yet.”

“What are you—” I sigh, “who are you?”

“Who am I?” The voice stays silent for a moment to think of his answer, “you can call me whatever you want, Bari.”

“Can you stop? You are starting to creep me out…” I pause for a moment to grasp the situation, “is this a dream?”

“Where you are living right now?” The voice answers, “not exactly, but that doesn’t matter.”

“What do you mean? What I mean is this place,” I say impatiently.

“You are here right now to accomplish something, no matter what the cost is,” A picture appears in front of me, and in that picture, I recognize the tree where the messenger and his horse rest peacefully oblivious to my departure as the sun shines warmly on their faces, “You see this? This is what you did. You succeeded in saving one’s rest, and that is a good deed.” What is he talking about? He is beginning to be so annoying. Silence is maintained for a moment, and the voice breaks the silence, “Continue this, and you shall fulfill your dream, your purpose, for your satisfaction, for yourself.”

“You don’t have to tell me what to do, and you are not making any sense,” I point out.

“You see this?” The picture in front of me changes to a scene in a familiar bedroom. In the bed, I lay unconscious whilst Lina paces the room, and Rina sits at the bedside. Both have the expression of worry on their faces. “You can come back anytime. Make yourself comfortable in your home,” the voice says with warmth, but I find it to be creepy.

“My… home?” I say confused.

The picture with the scene draws closer to me just within arm's reach and the voice speaks closely to my ear, “Just reach out. They are waiting for you.” I cringe and jolt from the voice and face the side where the voice spoke but still see nothing.

I look at the picture, which is more like a moving video, floating in the darkness. My arms reach to the picture subconsciously, and when my fingers touch the warm picture, my vision turns white, then black.

“Rmmfhh,” a weird voice escapes my mouth, “shrmmf.” I open my eyes to see a familiar ceiling. I slowly remember that this is the inn’s room where I first stayed when I arrived in this world.

“Oh,” Rina’s voice raises in surprise, “sister! He is awake!”

Lina runs to my bedside and holds my hands, “Thank goodness you are alive!”

I look in surprise and turn my head to the room’s only window. Ah, this is the inn’s room. I see the peaceful trees swaying in the light breeze, and the townspeople busily roaming through the streets about their day. I sigh in relief for I did not arrive too late. “Thank goodness you are alive!” my words slip through my mouth.

Lina chuckles a little, “You must worry yourself more, Deliruu-kun!”

I look at Rina surprised as I thought she wouldn’t be the worrying type, “Rina, thank you for worrying for me, and sorr—”

“W—w—what do you mean?” Rina faces her face away from me while it grows red, “don’t be mistaken. I didn’t worry about you. I worried and did this for my sister!”

“Did what?” I ask.

“D—d—d-d—did nothing! Nothing important for my sister!” Rina fidgets in her seat.I notice something on top of my head and raise my hand to touch it. It is some warm and wet cloth on my forehead.

Lina takes the cloth into her hands and dips it into a small basin with water, “Rina discovered you had a fever when you came here so Rina pla—”

“Sh—sh—shushuph!” Rina slightly pushes Lina to the side, “Don’t get the wrong idea, Bari—” At this, Rina turns very red, that I worry that she might have had a worse fever than I have. “Geez!” Rina shouts and flees from the room as if danger chases her.

“Ah, speaking of danger,” I quickly stand up with strength and look outside the window, “is this town doing fine?”

Lina pauses for a moment in confusion, “Yes, it’s doing the usual I suppose. Why do you ask?”I rush to Lina and hold her by her shoulders, “This town will be attacked anytime soon. You guys should leave this town and—”

Lina pushes me away from her, “What are you talking about?” she yells at me, “why are you suddenly saying all these things? To leave the town? It’s outrageous! What trouble are you talking about?”

“Wait, you do not know?”

“Of course, I don’t!” Lina yells again.

“Okay, sorry for my rush, but this is important. Five hundred of Ugibiris’s men are approaching this town with unmeasured hostility. That’s why—”

“We leave the town?” Lina says impatiently, “Why would we do that? Aren’t you thinking of the people in the town? What kind of man you are running away from the enemy!”

“Then we should tell the town that—”

“Who would immediately believe that!?” Lina’s tears began to flow, “this is the only place that we can call our home. Where else could we go except this town?” Lina’s voice cracks.“W—wai—”

Lina runs out of the room and leaves me stunned. “W—wha…” What will I do? “No help is coming—” I stop myself. No, Tina is coming. She will definitely come, but help will arrive at the earliest, two days, I think. But before then, what should I do? I pace the room trying to devise a plan. I am weak, powerless, unskilled in the sword and this world’s magic. I do not know anyone in this town. I only know Risho— “That’s it!” I exclaim, “I just need to ask her something.” At this, I run to the town’s mercenary guild.

I open the door to the guild and the faces welcome me with warmth. The polar opposite when I first visited this place, “Ah, there is Deliruu-kun!” “Deliruu, my man!” “Deliruu the Great!” and other praises greet me. “Where did these praises come from?” I mutter. I approach the desk and see white hair sitting down behind it.

“Excuse me,” I stand before the desk.

The figure stands up to reveal that she is— “Yes, Risho here,” Risho eyes shoot up to meet mine, “I am the guild’s—”

“Long time no see,” I greet with a smile.

“Yes, long time no see it is,” Risho greets me with a smile. Why does her smile look pained?

“I have to talk to you about something,” I pause for a moment to think back on the day Risho left me, “but first,” I point to our usual seat we sat on when I joined this guild.

We stare at each other’s eyes in silence for what feels like an eternity. I see in her eyes the tears forming, but not flowing. Tears I don’t understand the cause of. Suddenly, Risho jumps over the table between us and hugs my head tight, “For the final time…”

I couldn’t help but blush and shake, and I couldn’t bring myself to push her away because it feels good and it feels rude to do so, or maybe it is rude either way, “Yamade-san, what's wrong?”

“Nothing…” Risho’s voice cracks a little, “is wrong.”

“I can’t handle a crying person today, let alone two,” I mumble.

Risho releases me and sits properly on her chair while she wipes her tears with her hand, “What did you say?” She attempts a laugh but it fails.

“Risho,” I look into her eyes while hers avoid mine, “I know I may not understand what I did wrong,” I pause for a moment, “If you could tell me then, please, do tell me. If not, then, whatever it is, I’m truly sorry,” I stand up from my chair and go over to Risho’s side while she looks at me in surprise. I proceed to bow with my knees to the floor, “I’m sorry!” I raise my voice a little higher to emphasize.

“Bari—” Risho shakes her head, “Deliruu-san, please raise your head.”

I raise my head and look at her eyes, but her eyes avoid me once again, “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay. It’s okay,” Risho closes her eyes while tears leak from her eyes, “I forgive you.”

“Really!?” I rush over to my seat and lean toward her, “I need your help in something.”

“I would gladly help you with it, Deliruu-san,” Risho says with a smile, but this time, without the pain nor sadness.