Chapter 11:

Stranger in the Night II

Sword Quest

The battered man drew a short sword from within his uniform, and used it to stand himself up with a pained grunt.

As he took a step forward, Cedric’s nerves finally began to wake up, sensing he would soon die if he remained frozen. He hesitantly pulled his wooden sword from his shirt, and attempted to ready his stance as if he was facing Valblin or Quentle.

However, the result was sloppy and uncertain, and he knew it. As the enemy stumbled towards him with a sick grin, he realized he couldn’t do anything like this. He simply wasn’t prepared. Even if Quentle and Mel went at him with everything they had, they did not have what this man had. Even if Valblin made a point not to go easy on him, he did not show what this man was showing.

Something he hadn’t sensed in six years. The most defining trait of that scent of the battlefield currently assaulting him like he was in the middle of a recurring nightmare. However, unlike his dreams, this was the real thing, not to be compared.

Killing intent.

This is…the most important thing for a soldier to have.

The enmity the man came at him with was completely new to him, and froze his senses anew. There was simply no way he could match this output of murderous intent, let alone defend himself with a wooden sword.

I…don’t want to die!

The enemy soldier bore down on him with a vicious downward swing, making swift impact-


-with the air.

Cedric had bailed out on defending, and dove desperately out of danger.

Rolling through the dirt, he attempted to gather himself up to run away. However, the man would not allow that. As he stumbled to his feet, the enemy was already on him, forcing him to dive to the left this time.

His body burdened with both fatigue and frozen nerves, Cedric was operating solely on his overflowing adrenaline, and fear for his life. All he could do was dive away from the man’s wild swings one after another.

His game of dodging came to an end when the persistent man cut off his escape route, forcing Cedric to hold his wooden blade out to defend against a sidelong strike.

Unsurprisingly, the wood was broken through, and the momentum of the blow sent Cedric rolling once more.

This time, the man launched himself at a completely defenseless Cedric, who’d rolled into a skid before reaching all fours, and looked up to see the man closing in.

With only half of a wooden practice sword left as defense, the wide-eyed boy’s mind searched for an answer.

There must be an opening somewhere.

This guy’s wounded, yet he’s fighting so hard.

It must be…he wants to finish me off before his injuries flare up?

If so…a war of attrition is exactly what I need!

As he thought that, he finally remembered the throwing knife he’d bought just hours ago, resting idly in his back pocket.

Taking an aggressive step of his own, Cedric reared the broken practice sword over his head, threatening to throw it with his left hand. This, naturally, did not phase the approaching enemy, aside from causing him to raise his sword up slightly.

As he shifted in reaction, Cedric reached for the small throwing knife in his pocket, and threw it in a swift side armed motion at the man’s lower half.

The enemy noticed the incoming knife, but due to his blade being readied high, he just missed the opportunity to deflect the projectile. Having been thrown just low enough to slide under the man’s blade, the knife found its home in his injured hip.

The man stopped in his tracks, doubling over and wrenching the knife out.

“You…little shit! I’ll kill you!”

Throwing the knife back at him in anger, the man charged forward once more.

Dodging the wildly thrown knife, Cedric ducked out of the charging man’s path by faking to the right and escaping left with ease, holding no intention to engage any further.

The enemy’s lower body injury had seemingly flared up due to Cedric effectively kicking dirt into it, causing his charge to lose a noticeable amount of steam.

Seeing this allowed Cedric’s nerves to relax, if only a bit. He had recovered himself quite a bit since being completely frozen, but still wasn’t as confident in his abilities as he would be fighting against his friends. Therefore, this kind of war of attrition was the best strategy for him.

The enemy soldier charged aggressively time after time, but Cedric was able to evade him. The man now staggered out of his bursts, his breaths growing deeper thanks to Cedric’s tactic.

Though, as a result, he ended up tiring himself out as well. This was the ideal strategy for him, but the wear and tear of a long day had completely caught up with him. He was now breathing just as hard as the heavily wounded enemy before him.

This, he thought, must be the difference between a real soldier and a kid idealistically playing at one.

The two stood several meters away, silently catching their breath. The Wolverine soldier had certainly lost much of his earlier gusto, but Cedric was now beyond the point of running on reserves.

“I’ll give you some credit, shitty kid…you’re not as spineless as you look.”

“Good to know you fell completely into my trap,” Cedric fired back with a smirk. A complete bluff.

“Tch. Just a brat playing knight. Fine then...”

Whether he simply didn’t buy the bluff, or didn’t care, the man stepped forward once more, raising his off hand.

Cedric watched as if hypnotized as something like steam began rising from the enemies bloodied arm, and then-


This time, the enemy froze. His eyes were wide, looking at some place beside or behind Cedric. Assuming he was trying to distract him, Cedric continued watching the mysterious mist forming around the man’s arm. But then, he felt it.

A cold breeze swept across his right arm, freezing his body once more.

He slowly turned his trembling head to see it.


The shadowy specter from earlier passed by him as if he was a plant on the side of the road, slowly gliding toward the enemy.

This time, he saw its large frame, chiseled face, and majestic long hair clearly, despite being a blur of black and grey. Its daunting figure shook him, and filled him with mixed feelings of unease and security.

Who…are you…?

The specter cut the distance between Cedric and the enemy in half before stopping and floating there like the most disturbing candle flame he’d ever seen, simply staring at the man with the kind of efficiency he assumed would come if curses could be fired like arrows at their enemy.

The man began staggering backwards, losing concentration on whatever he was doing with his arm.

“What the hell…what the hell is this place? Was this whole damn thing a trap, after all?”

The man spouted nonsense as he retreated into the forest. The specter slowly followed him, vanishing into the night and finally allowing Cedric some relief from the situation.

Collapsing to all fours, Cedric gasped for air, feeling sick to his stomach. He couldn’t make sense of what just happened, and he didn’t want to. For now, he simply wanted to get out of this place.


Having returned to the farm to collect water and bathe, Cedric laid down in the makeshift cot in the farmhouse, and decided to stay there until it was time to work, since he knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep either way. A multitude of thoughts whirled around his head like a sandstorm, causing him to roll around restlessly.

What should I do?

A Wolverine soldier made it into town…what if there’s more of them?

What if he’s able to escape that…thing, and survive?

Was he going to do something in High Town?


A trap…. he mentioned a trap…what is happening?

Just what is happening on this island? Our home?

I have to tell someone…right?

Someone will have to do something about our security within…

I must…I-I-

-I can’t…

Confessing to breaking the strict curfew…

Just what kind of trouble would that cause for everyone?


Thoughts like this tortured him, until he reached a point of mental exhaustion and became unable to think about it anymore. Just as he began to doze off, the first glimpse of dome light seeped through the crack of the farmhouse door, signaling the end of the long night.