The Second Route
The ground rumbles distractingly in the middle of my sleep forcing me to wake up from my golden sleep. Rubbing my eyes, I look at the entrance of my pathetic tent and see that it is still dark. Then a flash brightly appears, then an explosion reverberates. The knights shout in arisen alarm.
“We are under attack! Everyone, take positions!”
I quickly rush outside with my unkempt hair and see a great silhouette of a claw in front of me. The ground rumbles once again, and I see four knights flinging to the sky. I look around and find Tina in the process of casting a spell with her sword.
“Don’t just stand there, soldier!!” she shouts.
I immediately get back inside my tent to retrieve my replacement sword. This sword was given to me after the battle in Lunis since my custom-made sword broke. Tina was quite furious about it.
I head back outside again to find the silhouette against the horizon gone, but find multiple foxlike silhouettes charging against the army. The knights valiantly take a defensive stance and return the attack. Then I see five people get struck by the same claw from the ravine. They fly through the air and disappear into the ravine. I run to the edge of the ravine and find five knights still recovering from the surprise attack. I hear howling behind me and turn around to see a pack of wolves pressuring me to retreat to the edge. There is no escape, except for the ravine.
Casting the Air spell that I learned from the knights who used it to land safely, I slowly make my way down with my sword drawn.
“Over there!” one shouts.
“Watch it!” the other screams.
“Ah!” Then a knight is taken by surprise as she receives a swing from the claw and crashes into the wall of the ravine.
That impact has to hurt, but she managed to crack the wall!?
I run over to the knight, “Are you okay?” She probably didn’t need to answer this question, nor do I need to ask.
The knight nods weakly, “Thanks to this armor,” she weakly pounds it.
I look behind me and see an unfamiliar large tail with pincers on its end threatening to pierce me. Then everything decelerates, and my body feels heavy as if I am carrying the weight of the whole world. Suddenly, a fair but strong arm holds me by my hips and pushes me away, and everything accelerates again. I hear a loud crash and realize that the knight I was attending to has saved me although she didn’t have to. I look back and see the knight struggling to push the tail pincer from piercing her.
“General!” the struggling knight shouts.
I look up and see a giant scorpion towering in front of me. Its giant claws at the front and its tail pincers at the back prove as an intimidating figure. This has to be that giant claw I have seen recently. I run to the struggling knight and stab the tail pincer with my sword. I am not able to pull my sword fast enough as the tail pulls me and slams me into the rocky wall of the ravine. I made a smaller crack in the wall in comparison.
I feel the bones of my spine crunch on impact as I involuntarily spit out blood, staining the ground. I spit several times to put it all out. I try to look up, but I receive a headache as my vision goes blurry. I can barely see the giant scorpion launching its next attack against the four remaining fighters. My vision flickers before my vision gets restored to a filter of grainy grey. Struggling to keep my balance, I stand from the rocky wall.
I notice that three remain courageously fighting to fend off the scorpion from their fallen mate. I move my right arm to use my sword as its support but find that same sword missing. Just how many swords will I lose or break? I feel pathetic. I couldn't even maintain my own sword, let alone use it.
I finally stand on my feet with emptiness in my soul. I only have one objective. That is to kill this scorpion. Applying the knowledge I read, I cast an Earth spell that creates sharp rocks as flying spears. It took a moment for these to finish materializing before I launch them against the scorpion. The giant scorpion responds by refocusing its attention on me and uses its tail as a shield to deflect the projectiles.
I hear metal clanging against the ground and quickly turn my focus to where it came from. I see my sword having lost its tip halfway of the sword’s length. It is beyond use for any combat, but I pick it up anyway. Planning to make the scorpion pay its attention to me, I provoke it by pointing my broken sword against it, “My sword’s sharper than yours!”
The scorpion charges its sharp tail against me. Then everything decelerates and becomes heavy. My heart beats faster and louder as everything fades into silence. Realizing the weakness of the scorpion being in the soft flesh between the pincers, I thrust my dull sword into it. Everything accelerates and becomes lighter, but I notice that I am pushing against a force with weight. The scorpion does not retreat its tail but instead pushes further burying my sword, and its pincer threatens to pierce my head. Then droplets of some kind of liquid rain onto my body, “This liquid smells like metal.” Then the tail loses its strength and falls to the ground. I see the three knights covered in blood standing on top of the defeated scorpion.
“We have taken down the bogey, General,” a knight declares.
I notice blood flowing from the scorpion’s back remarking the amazing fight the three knights have put up.
“Good work,” I say in relief, “now let’s get out of he—”
Suddenly the tail flops around and I trip backward to the ground. The lifeless body regains its strength causing the three knights to fly into the air, but they land on the ground safely due to their quick reflexes. The scorpion climbs the ravine’s wall, but the wall is not the side where the camp is set.
“The scorpion isn’t dead!?” I exclaim. I take back my compliment. You didn’t finish the work.
“The scorpion is retreating!” a knight shouts from above.
“Chase it!” Tina commands, and the knights jump over the ravine with the help of an Air spell.
An idea occurs to me, and I quickly devise a plan, “Stand down! Don’t chase it!” I shout but find no confirmation of my command being heeded. I start to climb the ravine’s wall, but a knight stops me. It is the knight that was struggling with the scorpion’s tail before.
“Let me help you, sir,” she says as she takes me and flies off to the air and safely landing near the camp.
“She is so— no stop,” I shake my head. There is no time for this!
“Sorry, sir! Did you not need that service?” the knight quickly says.
“No, no, it’s not that,” I try to suppress my impatience, “anyway, thank you.”
“It’s my service to protect and help the general with my life, and I should be thanking you, sir,” the knight bows lowly to me, “thank you for saving my unworthy life, sir!”
“It’s nothing. You don’t need to thank me anymore. In fact, I should be the one to thank you,” I start walking away from her, “now if you please, ex—”
“There is no need for your gratitude, sir, and since you have saved me, sir, I would like to do anything for you.”
“Alright, I get it,” I look around to break this conversation. I find the blood-covered scorpion slowly making its retreat as it leaves its blood trails. I realize that no other soldiers were chasing it. They have discontinued their pursuit following my command. I take notice of all the corpses of the dead foxes. None among those corpses were any humans making me sigh in relief.
Tina rushes to my side and reprimands me, “Why did you give that order? We should take our opportunity to take down such a legendary beast!”
“That beast is legendary?” I ask in surprise. That weak thing is legendary?
“Do you doubt it? Did you hurt it?” Tina asks.
“It took only a couple of stabs for it to retreat.”
“What?” Tina’s face turns into shock, “but such a strong beast should…”
“Strong enough to control the mummified foxes,” I make a quick deduction, “turns out this is their mysterious leader, huh?”
“Since that is the leader, we should all the more kill it now before it escapes!”
“Do you think that will escape?” I point to the blood-covered scorpion. The blood glitters as the rising sun shines on it, “and I’m using this as a decoy against the Ugibiris’s Army.”
“It’s a legendary beast, right? And now it’s blood-covered. It looks like it has just murdered a ton of people, right? But they do not know that it is only covered in its blood.”
“Oh…” Tina’s voice falters probably because of my great and genius plan.
“The problem is solved here. This will scare their army and cease their attack,” I look away and mutter, “for now…”
“Hm? Did you say anything?” Tina sharply looks at me.
“Hm? My sword broke,” I show her the half-sword.
“What!? Again!?” Tina places her palm on her forehead, “for goodness sakes, could you not— maybe not break—”