Chapter 26:

Blonde Bandits I

Sword Quest

In the dead of night within High Town, the only sound that could be heard was the soft pitter-patter of suede shoes along the fine brick road. The owner of the shoes stared down at his feet, inattentive to anything except the sound of his footsteps as he walked alone through High Town’s back roads, a bow and quiver of arrows slung over his shoulder.

The lanky teenager, sporting a noble air that matched his impressive head of blond hair, paid no heed to the magnificent villas he passed along the road. Thinking how annoying it was that his friends would always take the time to admire the showy homes, complete with over-done stained glass windows that nearly rivaled the castle chapel, he made it a point to avert his eyes from the houses he passed.

Having lived in an even more exquisite home his whole life, he didn’t understand what made them so remarkable. It was simply something unremarkable to him and didn’t deserve as much attention as his friends gave them.

While they seemed to covet a more luxurious life, his values were much simpler. The values he held dear, and the dreams he wished for, stemmed from the very core of the Teuton will.

To cherish one’s land.

To protect one’s place in life.

My place, that is, with-

“Good evening, young master. Out quite late, aren’t we?”

He looked up, frowning in wonder, at a voice he’d never heard before.

Even though there’d been no traces of life a second before, the owner of the voice stood just meters away: A man, nearly as tall as him, and cloaked in brown and raggedy garb, that was somehow stylish. His voice and figure made him seem young and lax, but the presence he bore gave him an experienced and intimidating air.

“Who are you?” the frowning boy demanded, showing no signs of fear in his unmoving gaze.

“Heh, I’m not important at all. Ya see, you’re the one that’s special, young master Mel Eraldin.”

Mel raised his furrowed brow instinctively, unable to hide his surprise. “And why am I special?”

“Well, ya see… you’re the only child of an important noble family, right? You hold the duty of carrying on the Eraldin name, which makes you veeery special indeed!” The man exaggerated his slick, loose way of speaking, even while talking about his family.

“Just what are you getting at…” Mel said in low voice, quivering as he clenched his fists.

“Not only that, but you’re quite obviously being groomed to marry the young Cillavier daughter once you’re of age. Therefore, you have two very esteemed families who value your life veeery highly!” The man stepped closer to him, revealing a devious grin that suited his youthful face.

“Like I said, just what—”

“And when you have such a backing, that backing is likely to pay a very steep price if it means keeping you alive.”

“What?” Mel cried, his demeanor breaking as he took several panicked steps back.


As Mel attempted to reach for an arrow, the man raised his left arm slowly, demanding his attention.

Yet, the attack came not from the man, but from behind. By the time he felt the rope against his neck, he could only grasp at it while it coiled around his throat.

As he struggled, the rope’s momentum pulled him backward, throwing him onto the ground. He tried to tear it away, but his panicked hands had no effect on the strangely sturdy rope. As he began to comprehend the sensation of being strangled, another rope wrapped around his legs like a whip. The rope pulled him in the opposite direction, cutting off his ability to struggle.

The feeling of pressure within seemed to explode, and his vision became a static blur. He tried desperately to remember what he was thinking about before he’d been attacked, but his mind and body thrashed about too chaotically to form any clear memory. As his consciousness cut out, the only thought his mind could muster was the image of a beach.