Chapter 4:

War with The Duchy (part 1)

Painted Tale

It's been a week since my tenth birthday.

That night, a messenger came and told us:

"The Duchy of Donwell has declared war against The Renoa Kingdom. Sir Arklight and Sir Edward are to join the defensive force against the Duchy. They are to set out in a week."

War. A concept I can understand and yet can't accept.

No matter how hard I try, I can't wrap my head around it.

Dad and Edward are going on a war.

I always knew that this world isn't as peaceful as my previous one. In the first place, that's why knights and soldiers exist. That's why Dad and Edward have trained all this time. No... Not only them. The same applies to me. After all, we are a family of knights. And "knights" is just a flashy name to call distinguished soldiers.

I can't imagine my family members killing others.

I also can't imagine them dying.

Death feels like a surreal concept for me. Even though I've already died once... No, precisely because I already died and reincarnated, I can't accept death for what it is.

While those thoughts keep swirling in my head, my hand has already grasped the brush and started moving.

Black. Dark purple.

A field covered in darkness.


Silhouettes of men, scattered everywhere.

Dark blue.

They wield swords in their hands.

Black. Dark purple. Dark blue.

There is a man in the center of the battlefield.

His chest is pierced by a sword, skewering his heart.

And yet... he keeps on fighting.

They fill up the entire landscape.

Soldiers, unable to achieve peace.

Some of them lack heads, some of them are pierced by dozens of blades.

And yet, they keep on fighting.

They never rest; they never sleep.

Even after the war has ended...

Their battle still goes on.

What a horrid sight. Is this how I see war?


I'm standing at the edge of our village.

A dozen meters ahead, there's a group of people.

Some of them are trained soldiers, some of them are militia gathered from the villagers.

Two people are standing in front of me: my brother and my dad.

"Do you really have to go?" I ask, despite knowing the answer.

Edward seems troubled as if he's unable to find the right words.

"William," Dad's voice cuts in between us.

He looks at me in silence for a few seconds and starts speaking.

"Take care of your mother. The territory is also on you. I'm sorry that I have to burden you with that, but there's no one else I can ask. You are a smart kid. You've been helping me for several years already. I'm sure you can manage."

There are no words of comfort. No promises of getting back home. No fake confidence to make me feel at ease.

His tone is dry yet filled with warmth and concern

His words' implications are clear:

You are no longer just a child.

You are a full-fledged adult.

I entrust home to you.

I trust you.

He crouches down and hugs me.

I can feel his warmth.

After some time, he gets up.

"Edward, it's time to go."

My dad walks away.

For some time, my brother looks at me in concern.

I nod, assuring him that I'm okay.

He nods back, turns around, and starts walking away with the rest of the soldiers.

Edward Arklight

We are walking through a road deep in the forest.

The main army will pass through the territories to the north of us. That's where we plan to join them.

It's been twenty years since the last time the kingdom was involved in a full-fledged war. Being a soldier can be harsh, so most of them retire after they hit their late thirties. That being the case, most of the soldiers don't have any war experience.

Also, only men before their late thirties are taken as militia, so they've also never been in a war.

Of course, this also applies to me.

Skirmishes happen all the time, but people involved with those are mostly border guards, certainly not those from the capital or anywhere else.

The atmosphere is tense.

No one knows what to expect. Some people among us might never come back alive. In fact, there's a possibility that no one will come back alive.

They are probably thinking of those they've left behind: their families, lovers, friends...

I'm also thinking about my family.

Specifically about my little brother. William.

He's only ten, and yet he's already skillful enough to be a challenge for most of the knights from the capital. His sword skills aren't quite there yet, but his spellcasting speed is almost at the level of the best knights and mages. His instincts are also incredibly sharp, and, in due time, he might become one of the kingdom's strongest.

He has no such ambitions, but... I have a feeling he will need that kind of strength in the future.

William has a good head on his shoulders, so we can rely on him to keep the territory safe.

And yet, I keep asking myself if this is really fine.

He's only ten. He's still just a kid, and his brother and father are going on a war.

He can be so sensitive at times... I can still remember his hands shaking after he drew his first painting.

I've also seen his last work.

A battlefield without death.

Soldiers, that are forced to keep fighting even after they die.

I can understand neither the intent nor the idea behind the painting. And yet, the moment I looked at it, all of William's disgust towards war was immediately conveyed to me.

I can't help but worry about that kid's future. He's too unstable, too fragile.

This world is filled with strife and conflict. Avoiding violence in its entirety is impossible. As long as that child is alive, he will keep stumbling upon situations that are too violent and too cruel for him to handle.

Not because he's not strong enough physically, but because every one of those encounters will chip away at his mind until he crumbles.

I know that his paintings are simply means for him to cope with the hardships of this world. They can only delay the inevitable.

They are not a solution for him. He might believe otherwise, but I'm convinced: paintings can never become his reason for living.

I can only pray that he finds his ray of hope. As long as he has a reason to move forward, he will be unstoppable.


If that hope will disappoint him... Then I'm afraid he will never be able to recover from that.

William Arklight

*Rustle*                                                                 *Rustle*

              *Rustle*                         *Rustle*                                                         *Rustle*

The sound of papers brushing together is filling up the study.

My mother and I are sitting at the desks, going through papers.

It's been several weeks since Dad and Big bro went to war.

All this time, I've been busy doing paperwork and managing the territories.

Or, more specifically, I've been helping my mom with that.

While Dad is gone, she's taken up all of the administrative affairs on herself.

She's really good at it. In all honesty, she's way better at it than Dad.

Apparently, back when he first became the head, he was horrendous at doing paperwork. That's why, for quite a while, Mom was the one who did most of it.

Therefore managing the feud would be easy... If not for one thing:

Monster attacks.

The farther you are from the kingdom's center, the more likely you are to encounter monsters. Sometimes, they even gather in packs to attack human settlements.

That's why, a long time ago, it was decided that the ones in charge of the territories need to be strong enough to defend them. That tradition still stands strong even today.

The hereditary knights are meant to lead the area's soldiers to fight off monsters in case of emergencies. Sadly neither Dad nor Edward is here, so it's very troubling.

Usually, we would be able to manage.

Monster packs don't form all that often, and before they left, my father and brother had gone on a hunt to reduce the number of monsters in the area.

But, for some reason...

The monster activity has gone up significantly.

We've already hunted down several small monster packs, and yet the monster activity hasn't gone down at all. If anything, it has only increased.

Right now, soldiers that haven't gone to war can still manage, but if a bigger pack appears...

Then we're in big trouble.


I'm done with paperwork for now, so I decided to take a small break.

I've decided to take a walk in the front yard near the main entrance.

...They will die in this war...

...The world will steal from you once again...

...Disappointments will keep pursuing you forever...

Negative thoughts keep swirling in my head, telling me that I will never achieve happiness.

I can't help but worry about Dad and Big bro, yet I also understand that worrying won't get things done.

Dad put his trust in me, so I will also trust in them.

They will come back and, meanwhile... I will make sure that Arklight's domain goes through this safely.

Suddenly, I see a silhouette in the distance.

As it closes in, I realize that it's one of the soldiers.

He's riding horseback and seems to be in a panic.

Finally, he's close enough that I can make out his facial features.

"S-sir!" He says, stuttering.

It felt weird getting addressed as "sir" by someone a dozen years your senior...

I left that thought aside, sensing that something urgent came up.

I have a bad feeling about this...


"Sir, w-we have discovered a pack of monsters in the Arwin Forest."

" ... "

Arwin Forest is close to our village. There are rarely any monsters in it, not even talking about an entire pack. If they're already in Arwin, then the attack will come soon...

After thinking it through, I ask.

"...Its size?"

"A-around thirty of them..."

This is bad. We barely have a dozen soldiers left since almost all of them went to war.

Thirty in a single pack? I'm pretty sure they rarely even reach half that number in Arklight's domain.

We might be close to it, but we aren't at the actual border. Packs in these places shouldn't be over twenty, period.

Is that because of the war? The frontier's defenses might have gone lax from that. Still, what are they doing this far in? Wouldn't they attack the outposts at the border if that was the case? Unless...

I didn't have time to think about that. I'm not a monstrologist, nor do I plan on becoming one.

Thirty, huh?

Our chances are not looking good...