So What If I'm a Summoner Who Only Wants Fluffy Creatures?
For now, the [Demon] horde had been chased off, and though I wanted to press on after them, I had been advised that it would not be wise as a snowstorm is brewing, and that this storm was the reason why the [Demons] decided to rush the fortress.
Apparently, this storm is one that comes every season and would last up to three to four days. If they do not take the fortress before the storm, not only do they have to wait at least three long days in the extreme cold, they'll have to deal with the risk of avalanches after. The fortress on the other hand, will have no problem with the storm or avalanches, as it was also build with the weather in mind and could even act as a shelter should it need to be.
"Since they've lost, will they retreat?"
"We don't know yet, but I've sent scouts to investigate. We'll know for certain before the storm arrives."
I now speak with the commander, the new commander, the one before had died at the hands of the enemy Champion.
"And if they do not retreat, can they survive the cold?"
"I have no idea, they're [Demons] after all, and who knows what their Champions are capable of. Personally, I'd wager that if they stay, most likely they will have some way of surviving, most of them may look like mindless beast at first glance, but I don't think they're all fools, least of all their Champions."
"I guess either way, we'll have to wait for the scout report."
I look back to the courtyard where the battle had taken place. The grounds that was painted red with blood is now covered in a glittering dust thanks to the use of Michaela [Resurrection]. You won't be able to recognize whose dusts are whose, but at least it's a less brutal sight than the visceral scenery from before. At the outermost wall, the first gates are being repaired, the parts replaced by spares that were kept in the storage for such an occasion.
"You must be tired after that fight, Sir Aurelius. You should go rest."
"I'll do that. Thank you for indulging me."
"There's no problem, we couldn't have won without you, to be honest."
"Well, that what I'm here for."
Leaving the commander behind, I return to the room given to me and head straight for the bed. With one hand, I pull at the blanket, and with the other I search for the soft, fluff ball of warmth that I was so used to having by my side. But of course, he is no longer here, Peter is gone.
"My liege, I'm sorry. If only I-"
"Enough! Just let me rest."
I realize I am being childish. More than a rabbit had died today and I came out of it better than most. I shouldn't be sulking like this. And yet, there is nothing I can do about this sadness in my heart.
I'll sleep it off. I'll just sleep it off. I'll get over it by the time I wake. Having decided that, I shut my eyes and gradually let the slumber take me.
By the time I wake from my somewhat restful sleep, it is already the morning of the next day and the scouting reports have come in. Form their observations, it seems that the [Demons] are staying after all, and we're assuming that they have some kind of plan in mind. Even so, without knowing what their plans are and with the storm closing in, there's nothing we else we can do but prepare for the worse and wait for them to come to us.
"Sir Aurelius, it'll still be a while before the storm arrives. Perhaps you would like a walk outside of the fortress?"
After the strategy meeting, the princess came and invited me on a walk, and with nothing to do, I accepted. I felt that if I don't get myself distracted, I'll start thinking of unpleasant things again, not just about what happened to Peter, but the state of this world as a whole. I managed to survive the previous battle, but for how long can I keep this up? And even as I do battle on this side of the kingdom, what if there's an attack happening on the other side at the same time? It's impossible to defend the entire kingdom by myself. Perhaps if I have my guildmates then something could be done, but who knows where they could have landed. According to the princess, she had only intended to summon just a handful of heroes to her kingdom's aid, but I was the only one she successfully summoned without issue. When I brought up the fact that others were drawn in with me, she had a bitter expression on her face. Apparently, their summoning ritual is something they've picked up from ancient texts, not something they fully understood and when they summoned me, at best they were still at the experimental stages.
The others could still be stuck in that wormhole or perhaps they have landed somewhere in this land, or in the worst case scenario, landed in one of the lands ravaged by the [Demons]. Considering that three quarters of this world has already been taken by the [Demons], I can't say that it's unlikely, as much as I would like to deny it.
"Oh! Were you saying something? Sorry, I sort of spaced out."
"No, I just... You haven't said much ever since yesterday."
"I'm just a little tired. Yesterday was a tough fight after all."
"I see, perhaps then you would like to sit down for a little? I think I saw a rock that could be sat on back the other way."
Right now, I'm with the princess and Merida, walking around the hill at the back of the fortress. In spite of the approaching storm, it's not as chilly over here due to the fortress shielding it from the wind. It was like the princess had said, it really is peaceful here. Due to the low temperature, there aren't any bugs and due to the approaching storm, the animals have all gone into hiding. It's peaceful and so very quiet.
"I'll just rest here then. Do go on without me."
I decided to sit down on a rock with a rather smooth surface, and though the princess seemed a little concerned about leaving me alone at first, I insisted that she should go on without me, that she too deserves to relax a little and not concern herself too much with me. By the end of it, it was just me and the rock.
How much longer can I hold here? Will the [Demons] attack during the storm or after? What are they even planning? All of those questions, I have absolutely no answer to and it's driving me mad. I have no idea what I'm doing at all. What was the princess even thinking, summoning someone like me here... Not that she specifically picked me out to be their savior in the first place I suppose. It's all just by chance. And I was quite glad for this younger body too. A shame that I won't be enjoying it for long.
"I know, Michaela, I know. Thinking about these things won't help. It's just that my mind tends to go places on its own during down time."
"I believe there's a stream nearby, you like watching water flow, do you not, my liege?"
"I like the sound as well."
"Then I propose that you should go, it could help clear your mind."
"Yes, I suppose it could, but only if it's not too far. The princess would worry if she can't find me when she returns."
"It shouldn't be."
"Then let's go."
Following the sound of water, I eventually arrive at the stream Michaela spoke of. It's one that is small enough for me to leap across, but the water is clear and the sound it makes is indeed calming. Staring into the flow, I feel as if I could just lose myself into it, and upon dipping my fingers into it, feeling the cold water brushing by, it feels as if my thoughts are being washed away.
"The cycle... must stop..."
Surprised at a voice I was not familiar with, I immediately jump across the stream in my surprise. Who could it be? A [Demon] perhaps? I can only hope it's not, as I have very low offensive capabilities, I can't possibly fight a [Demon] alone. To my relief, the one that had suddenly appeared by me is anything but. Rather that a large ugly creature, the one I see before me is but a diminutive girl, wearing a dress of pure white and has a head of long curly white hair. I assume that she is Beastkin, as adorning her head, are a pair of curled spiraling horns like that of a goat's. This girl, haven't I seen her before?
Wordlessly, she steps towards me, dipping her bare feet into the chilly water of the stream without even flinching as she approaches.
Sensing something amiss, I take a step back, stopping only when I see that in her hand, she holds a card, one looking rather similar to something I am very familiar with.
With the card in her hands, she stretches out towards me.
Easily, I receive the card from her and after having a closer look, I realize that this is indeed what I thought it was, this card, it is a [contract]."
"Where did you find this?"
She did not answer my question, instead, while my guard was down, she placed her hands upon the sides of my head. All of a sudden, my vision starts spazzing out like a broken monitor and static and glitches cover my sight. I can feel that something is interfering with my head, but I don't understand what it is. Then, everything just turned black, as if a television that had suddenly been shut down.
When I wake, I find myself all rolled up in several layers of blankets, lying beside a fireplace. From the drab looking ceiling and walls, I'd say that I am somewhere within the fortress, and from the furnishings and the installment of a fireplace, I reckon that this is an office of someone important.
"Sir Aurelius, are you awake?"
Watching over me is the princess, gazing down upon me with a face full of worry. I wonder what happened, the last thing I remember was going out for a walk with her. Then I told her that I was a little tired and rested on a rock. And then what happened? My head hurts and I can't quite recall.
Slowly, I push myself up and start peeling off the layers of blankets off myself as it is getting a little too stuffy.
"We found you passed out in a small stream. You were drenched and freezing and I feared the worst for you."
Hearing that I was drenched, I look down, and indeed it is as I expected. I'm naked. Well, I'm not going to make a big fuss about it, once you hit a certain age certain shame just goes out of the window.
"The stream... what was I doing there?"
I remember Michaela mentioning it to me, told me that I could clear my mind by the flowing water. It seems to have worked, a little too well maybe, since I can't quite recall anything that happened after.
Gently, the princess took my hand into both of hers.
"I cannot express how sorry I am for placing this burden onto you, for making fight like this for a world you barely know. To tell you the truth, I fully intend to care for you, even if you do not fight, I would ensure that you can live without inconvenience for as long as I can, as it is my responsibility for calling you here. But you did fight, and you fought without a single complaint, yet I didn't even notice how worn out you were. I should never have left you there alone."
Tears began to drop from her eyes, and it appears she truly feel bad for all of this. But what am I to say to her? I'm not exactly happy to be here either, and I can't just tell her irresponsible thing like, "There's no problem, leave it all to me," because there are indeed far too many problems and I'm not a good enough liar to say those things with confidence, and if my half-hearted attempt at comforting her is seen through, I'm sure it'll just make her feel worst. If someone I'm feeling bad for suddenly feels bad for me instead, I'd feel bad for making that person feel bad, and I feel that the princess may think the same way.
In the end, are there any words I could use to make her feel better? Because from my point of view, it's all going to get worse from here on out. If I got so exhausted with just defending this fortress, how am I going to defend the rest of the kingdom?
"I already said that I'll fight, and in exchange, you're going to help me find my friends. That was our deal, right?"
"That is true, yes. But-"
"Then I'm just fulfilling a promise I made, there's nothing for you to feel bad about."
That's right, this is part of our deal, so there's no need to feel bad about it. To begin with, if you're going to summon someone to fight for you, this much is to be expected right? If they fight, getting tired and getting hurt is only natural, so it's best she just get used to it.
Briefly, I think back to Peter. He sacrificed himself to save me. I'm sad, that is still true, but he did it out of his own will, he did it even without me commanding him. This is what he wanted.
Unconsciously, my hand reaches out and caresses the grimoire that mysteriously never leaves my side and could always be found when I need it, and as I touch the edge of the book, I feel something sticking out. Promptly, I turn to see what it is and notice a card sticking out. How odd, I thought I had Michaela's [contract] tucked neatly in between the pages. Did it slip out? I was about to push it back in, but I then quickly realize that it isn't quite in between the pages I had left Michaela's [contract], in fact, this card seems to be stuck in a completely different position.
Suddenly, it all begins to come back to me. By the stream, I met that girl, the same I met at the river by the roadside, the white haired girl with horns, and she gave me something. What was it? It was a card, a [contract] card.
I draw the contact from between the pages and bring it before my eyes.
"Princess, I'd like to see the commander."
"Yes, right now. I think I may have exactly what we need to deal with the [Demons]."
End of Chapter 7