Chapter 48:

Al and Hydrick II

Sword Quest

The three boys rowed their small raft through the slightly foggy waters leading to the small island where the sword lay. Valblin stood with clasped hands on the perimeter of the lake, watching their tense interaction as they stepped onto the patch of land, never making eye contact with one another.

Tess watched with bated breath as Hydrick stepped forward first, removing his hooded green coat and taking a deep breath. He placed his hands on the fine hilt of the daunting red sword and used his whole body in an attempt to launch it skyward.

By the time his low roar ceased, it had been ten seconds, and the sword hadn’t budged. Hydrick slowly removed his hands, his head hanging. He then turned around slowly, finally showing his face.

Tess gasped. Despite Hydrick’s failure, his eyes were wide, and he stared eagerly at his hands as he walked away from the sword. He never turned back to see Shae make his attempt, which ended just as quickly as it had started.

Shae Cillavier still wore his careless smirk as he walked back, taking a seat on the small raft.

Al stepped up to the sword, which prompted Hydrick to turn around. With a shrill battle cry, the boy thrust upward, but to no avail. After ten seconds, he fell back onto his butt, panting. When he turned around, Tess’ mouth found itself agape once more.

He looked back at Valblin, together with Hydrick, wearing the same wide-eyed stare. Their hands trembled in anticipation, until Valblin gradually raised one finger in the air.

“One more try,” Tess muttered, shocked.

Confirming her guess, Hydrick walked back up to the sword, fists clenched, and tried again. Nothing.

Al followed, and failed once more. The two of them again looked back at Valblin, who merely nodded.

They tried again, each taking longer this time. Another failure. When they looked back, Valblin was sitting calmly in the grass, legs and arms crossed, watching patiently.

Tess watched as they repeated their failed attempts with desperate cries and marred hands, until the total number of attempts had reached twenty. Tears began trickling down her cheeks as she watched Hydrick struggle for a twenty-first time, his voice cracking as he craned his neck skyward, mouth trembling in frustration and despair.

She suddenly realized how much he resembled his brother, Hedric. A distant memory of the two of them hiding in the trees, watching Hedric practice vigorously with the same red sword, flowed through her head, prompting the tears to pour out.

“Wow, Hyd, you were right! Your brother really is amazing!”

“That’s right, he’s the strongest in all of the dome!”

“He has to be the strongest! Say Hyd, doesn’t he make you want to chase after him with all you’ve got?”

“Yeah, he does! I will chase after him, and one day we’ll stand and fight together as equals!”

“That would be so great! You have to reach him, and become my hero, Hyd!”

“Yeah, I will! I promise!”

And then came the memory on the beach. Torches illuminated the many solemn faces of Teutons lining the shore as they watched the splendorous robes of a Teutonic Knight burn atop a great pedestal. The young girl dashed through the crowd toward the sound of wailing, before finding and embracing the small blond boy as he sobbed.

“Teeesss! What do I do now?! He’s gooooone!”

“Hyd… uwahhh... Hyd!!”

“I don’t know what I should do, Tess! Please, help me!!”

“Hyd… don’t stop… promise me you won’t ever stop…”


“Don’t ever stop chasing after him, Hyd! Ever!”


“HYDRICK!” Tess suddenly shouted out across the lake, leaping from the tree she was hiding in. His head snapped toward her, his shocked gaze landing upon her.

“You are not your brother! You only need to be you, so write your legacy from where you stand today! It doesn’t matter how you chase after him! You don’t have to be the Heir! As long as you chase after him in your own way, YOU’LL ALWAYS BE MY HERO!”

Hydrick smiled and closed his eyes. After a short breath, he opened his eyes, revealing a furious glare which bore down on the sword he grasped. With a momentous roar, he pulled the sword with every fiber of strength he had.

As if he’d broken through some barrier, the sword slid upward several inches, lighting everyone’s faces with shock. Valblin even stood with wide eyes.

However, it stopped there, as did Hydrick’s strength. His legs crumpled beneath him, and he leaned his arms on the hilt of the sealed sword in silence. After nearly a minute, he finally stood up to his feet, and walked toward the raft, a calm expression on his face.

“Heh, now it’s my turn for one last try!” Al wasted no time in waltzing up to the sword and throwing his every effort into pulling it with an even stronger battle cry. Miraculously, it budged several more inches. Valblin nearly teetered over into the water as he watched with anticipation.

However, it stopped again. Al fell back once more, and upon catching his breath, returned to the raft with a weak chuckle.

“Hoho, what a remarkable thing you have caused, young Tess,” Valblin exclaimed, stepping toward her with a wide grin.

“Huh?” She asked, still frozen from the shock of the display.

“Never have I seen someone who was not an Heir, manage to move a sealed sword by even the slightest fraction. I did not expect them to succeed despite their efforts, but I never could have imagined they would go this far to try and prove me wrong. And I think they wouldn’t have done so if it wasn’t for you being here, hoho.”

Tess blinked at his response, and once she regained herself, she answered him with a deep scowl before trudging back into the forest and waiting for the two boys.

The two silently walked into the forest together, a glint of contentment shining in their downcast faces. Before they saw her coming, Tess threw herself in between both of them, pulling them tightly together. She didn’t say a word, and continued holding them tight, prompting Al to laugh awkwardly.

Hydrick also chuckled through his nose, gripping Al’s shoulder affectionately. As he caught the scent of Tess’ hair, he recalled their embrace that night on the beach, as well as the promise they made as children. A lone tear trickled down his cheek and fell into his warm smile, as he nestled his head gently into hers.