Peters' Crosses Side Story: Legacy of the Round
Children, eh? Can’t say I’m surprised; I’ve seen my fair share of idiotic brats getting themselves killed over insignificant deeds already. This one is especially loud though, fitting for his… unkempt look. If this is a disguise on purpose then bravo to them, but I doubt any sane parents would let their kids be practically covered in mud and dung like that. Ugh, I can see the flies buzzing around him.
“I’m not playing your games, brat. Later.” I quickly wave at the rude child and turn away, only to be annoyed by a grubby little hand clinging onto the end of my cloak. The little bastard doesn’t know how to give up.
“Who says you can go? I’ll… mmph! ... mmph! ...” The boy’s cheeky mouth is quickly covered by his older brother, who now locks him down with an arm around his chest, while his remaining arm still firmly holds onto the rusted shield, ready to protect his family from any attack.
“Arthur!” Shouts the older boy. “Mind your manners! We need him!”
“Need?” I can mostly tell where this conversation is heading, but the boy’s words intrigue me nonetheless.
“Kind sir,” the older boy continues to answer, although the constant flailing from his younger brother in front of him makes his words rather difficult to follow, “as you can see, our town was attacked by bandits, and our parents have perished in the assault. We’ve seen your confrontation with the bandits just now, and we implore you to help us during our time in need.”
“Sorry, kid, I don’t do helping people. Not anymore.”
“But kind sir…”
“Name me one good reason for me to help you,” I claim. The brat might just be another snot-nosed kid, but his brother is not an ordinary child. That kind of polite, fluent language is something a kid can just pick up. He needs a background in manners and education to pull off something like that. Of course, if what he said was true and their parents have already died, then I don’t expect any rewards. What I want to see are his wits. You have an identity that you need to hide, kid. How are you going to convince me without spoiling it?
“I… I can’t promise you anything specific… But I know you won’t regret helping us!”
Ah, empty words. Nobility, perhaps? Or just a desperate kid seeking help?
“I’ll get straight to the point, then. Is there anything you have in mind for my reward? Money somewhere? Or perhaps… land? Status? Power?”
“I… We don’t have… anything like that…”
Right on the mark, huh? You’re a terrible liar, kid. Look at the way your eyes shift to the ground upon hearing that question. And the way your voice shivers, too. Your breathing is unnatural, and it’s not because you’re restraining the brat with your arm. You’re a mess of a noble, and definitely not worth my time.
“I’ll be off, then.”
“Kind sir… Ugh! Arthur!” A disgusted shout from the older boy sounds, and as I instinctively turn back due to curiosity, the sight almost kills me with humor as the brat has already freed himself out of the older boy’s grasp, while the latter is desperately wiping his hand on the floor. “Don’t lick my hand like that!”
“Shut up, Kay! You can’t tell me what to do!” The brat angrily shouts, pointing his hand towards me. “And we don’t need this guy anyway! He’s a bad guy! He killed those people! Brutally too!”
“Haha…” I can’t help but let out a chuckle. He might be a noble, but the brat acts anything but. “He’s right, you know. I’m a bad guy, so good kids like you shouldn’t be around me. Now if you’ll excuse me!”
“Hey! Stay right where you are!” The kid shouts again, but this time, fearing that his brother might bring him into a chokehold yet again, he doesn’t dare move around, and instead just swinging the knife on his arm, trying to act menacingly.
“Look. I have a lot of time, but it doesn’t mean I enjoy this kind of farce, kid. Now buzz off so I can…”
As I’m about to turn away and leave the house, I realize that my arm is suddenly caught in something. Turning my gaze downwards to see a small vine tangling around my wrist, I can’t help but be surprised as I’m certain there’re no plants anywhere near this building. Taking another glance down, the surprise continues as the vine is shown to have grown from the ground, and beneath me is already an, albeit tiny, crack – the same kind of crack born from forced pressure underground, something unable to be done without outside intervention. Now turning my sight to the group of kids, the final nail in the coffin of my decision has been sealed, as the small girl – the only one that has remained quiet from start to finish – is having her hand raised towards me, and from her fingertips, I can see, just vaguely, tiny orbs of light concentrating into her palm.
“Please… stay…” the girl lets out a small plea, but it’s stronger than any kind of persuasion her brothers can think of right now.
“… Follow me. We’ll continue on the way.”
“Here. Eat up.” I reach for my bag and take out a few of the fruits I picked earlier for the kids, seeing that they must have not eaten for a while now. The young girl receives the fruits with a light smile on her face, while the older boy also nods at me to show his gratitude before taking his portion. The brat, however, was another story.
“Hmph! Who wants your stinking apples anyway?” He turns around in a childish tantrum – the only emotion he’s able to produce, apparently. “And besides, we can’t have fruits for a meal, weirdo!”
“Look, this is the only food I have,” I try to reason with the kid, even though it’s clearly pointless, “if you don’t want it, then you can starve. I don’t care.”
I take the apple and bring it towards my mouth, only for the brat to jump towards me and snatch it from my hands. Well, I figured things would be this way. If I had held it tightly like normal, there would be no way he could have pried it off my hands even if he tried.
“Give me that!” The kid angrily replies, immediately biting into the fruit. It only takes him a second to spit it out, however, as he once again does what he does best – whine and complain:
“Ugh! What kind of apple is this? It’s so sour!”
“Beggars can’t be choosers, kid. Eat that or eat dirt.”
“Anyway,” ignoring the brat’s dreadful look as he weighs his options of starving or finishing the half-eaten fruit on his hand, I turn my attention to the two more reasonable children, who have both finished their meals without a single word, “why don’t you tell me more about your circumstances? About who you really are.”
“Don’t bother,” seeing that the older boy is still hesitating about sharing their secrets, I decide to go straight to the point. “You can’t convince me that brat is not at least a part of some noble house, judging by his annoying and haughty attitude. Plus, your sister there is versed in magic – the kind of teachings that is only present to the top of this world.”
“… Alright,” the boy has no choice but to let out a sigh and answer, “if you’ve known already, then I’ll tell you the truth… We’re royals. Well, these two are royals. I’m their retainer and caretaker.”
“Running away from the Anglo-Saxons, I assume?”
“You knew?” The boy asked in shock.
“Those bandits chasing you weren’t bandits at all. I saw the crest on their clothes. And besides, bandits wouldn’t destroy a town like that; they wouldn’t have anything left to steal. What they did was clearly aimed to either smoke out their targets or murder everyone in town.”
“You’re right. They were pursuing us, and when they lost track of us in this village, they… burned the whole thing down and massacred the villagers…”
“But you survived in the end. That’s all that matters.”
“I want to think that way… but when I remember the people that sacrificed themselves for us, I…”
“Spoken like a true knight. I like you, kid.” I let out a smile. Two out of three have potential, not too bad. With a bit of guidance in their life, then maybe, just maybe…
“So… you’ll help us chase the invaders away?” The boy’s question brings me back to reality. I did say that I wanted to get something of use when I went to the village. A couple of disciples wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, but… fate works in mysterious ways, I guess.
“You’ll handle them yourselves,” I answer, patting the boy on the head. “But I can train you to become strong until that fateful day comes. Now, I believe a proper introduction is needed.”
“Ah, of course. I’m Kay. Kay Ector,” the boy, now Kay, replies while gesturing to the girl walking beside him in an attempt to introduce the rest. The girl, however, is fast enough to reply beforehand, albeit in a soft and small voice:
“I’m… Morgan le Fay…”
“Kay and Morgan. I see. You can call me B… I mean, Merlin.”
“Hey! Aren’t you forgetting someone?” The brat, overhearing the conversation, jumps in front of me with a clearly grumpy look on his face. “I’m still here, you know.”
“Anyway, Kay, Morgan, from tomorrow, you two will…”
“I told you I’m still here! Arthur Pendragon, remember my name you stinking wizard!”