Volume 1, Chapter 13: The Frontier of Fort Colliden
…The silver-haired woman wielded her sword like thunder. A man on his horse didn’t have to react and was slashed, preventing him from escaping. The blade from her sword was wet and darkish red as she cut the man’s throat.
It was a splendid surprise attack as only one rider managed to escape. He escaped in a hurry without turning back. It was to be expected, as this scene would make anyone lose its breath and run as if his life depended on it. It was as if fear had taken over his brain. I looked at two lifeless bodies freshly dripping with blood. I went speechless for a moment. However, the silence was even creepier.
I survived this ordeal, but I’ll leave that explanation for another time. It was as if a blackish red “demon” and a silver-haired “witch” engulfed me.
We caught an unfamiliar horse that belonged to the assailants. I wonder how they found our exact location in the first place.
I somehow lived through that hell but my body was not unscathed. I was full of bruises and cuts. I felt pain coming from deep lacerations on the skin.
In addition, the red juice from the fruits we had on the carriage spilled on my hair. It began to emit an intense smell as time went by. Well, to be honest, I was accustomed to the stench as I was raised in the streets; yet, this smell was so bitterly sweet that began to torture my senses.
「Hey you, the assassins seemed more competent than an adventurer like you. 」
Caria Burdnick was holding the reins of the horse right in front of me when she turned around to profess those despicable words. I was sniffing my nose so many times because I could not stand the smell.
She sighed loudly while she distorted her mouth.
「There’s no way I’ll be a fool during a situation like that. I had to think of perilous situations that could happen on our way, for example, an ambush. Which, it happened. I had to be meticulous. Breathing, timing and luck. I won’t allow myself to be the same as unnecessary folks like you. I trained hard to acquire my current skills and movements. 」
I wrinkled my nose while I blinked my eyes simultaneously. My gesture resembled that of a cat with a sense of curiosity.
「…When I work as an adventurer, I will inevitably get backwards immediately. I have a naive nature for frontal collision in particular since it’s not one of my best strengths. But I’m good with surprise attacks and sideline strikes. Anyways, sorry for being useless on that situation.」
I wiped the remains of the spilled juice and the blood traces simultaneously. I had to throw the stained cloth away from the horse. It scattered on the roadside, hidden in the bushes. If I kept that with me, the smell of iron and the bitterly smell of the juice would have mixed up, resulting in my nose eventually getting numb.
「Anyhow, we managed to escape alive. So, let’s go to our destination as soon as possible. It will be troublesome if more of those assassins come after us again. Next time, we might not be lucky. 」
「…I agree. Besides that, it won’t be favorable for us when they find out that we stole one of their horses. We need to hurry. 」
Even if her offensive strike was a surprise attack, she went bloodthirsty back then. She didn’t only slash the men’s throats, but she sliced some of the horses too. This woman. Where does her furiously attitude come from? Her distant ancestors? Just talent? I don’t understand.
Caria Burdnick nodded her head while strengthening the reins of the horse. I grabbed her waist as we kept going further and further away. Her waist was strangely thin as if it was going to break apart for being fragile. Maybe she realized that she’s a bit different from an average woman. Well, that was theoretically speaking. Somehow, I had a strange sense of incongruity and a sense of embarrassment.
「I never imagined that we would be attacked in a main highway. The security of this country has become gradually low over time. As a Knight myself, this situation is inacceptable. I heard that the high-ranked officials in the Order instructed the knighthood to protect only the Kingdom, and mainly the Capital. 」
Her words were mixed between feeling disappointed and self-cautious.
It was a fact that the security on this timeline was not very safe. That notion was proved on how the assassins were roaming free through public roads. People said that the mastermind behind the groups of assailants was making this country’s security system fragile, resulting in roads becoming more desolated over time.
Ah, maybe it’s during this time that “that” thing will happen. But I’m not actually sure though.
We saw a soldier wearing a helmet approaching us from an old fortification. This man was wearing a ring with an inscription on his finger. He looked like someone important. He nodded without professing a word in response to Caria Burdnick small talk.
Fort Colliden was a stronghold with lots of history.
In the architectural era, many of the forts and castles that had fortified walls and towers were rebuild and restored in the revitalization act. As I recall, people often said that the officials in the previous government abused their power and stole the riches from civilians in order to provide funds for their revitalization agenda. They were regarded as one of the worst governments this Kingdom had ever had on its history; however, no one can deny that in the end, it was undoubtedly a significant achievement accomplished by the previous King. On one side, it made the civilians lives miserable through increase of taxes, but on the other side, it protected the country against the invasion of three different ethnic groups and from a major invasion of two foreign enemies.
Yet, the only remaining military structure from that age was none other than Fort Colliden.
It was hard to breach this fort mainly because of its topography. The fort was perfectly located in the middle of a mountainous terrain. Given its location, the fort was labeled as an outstanding fortification for defense. This fort, whose name was repeated many times in history because of the many battles against the western forces, has ceased to play an active part since the western territory turned into a friendly relationship. With new allied countries, the fort was no longer necessary.
However, I heard that a large delegation was brought to this place not that long ago.
「Strangely, we were able to easily pass through the gates. I thought they would suspect us given my questionable appearance. 」
Even though we were the real message delivers, my clothes were ragged and stained with red fruit juice.
It was the first time I saw this fort. From the outside, the fort was made of heavy stones and clay. Inside, there was a large emptied space. I was given a dusty room. Everything looked old, dim and unrestored. It was as if this room was hardly even used. Alternatively, maybe they own several rooms that aren’t used very often.
Next to me, Caria Burdnick moved her lips in a peculiarly nervous look.
「…Well…Listen. You have to change your clothes, because, right now, you are being rude with that shabby appearance. Do you have the letter? 」
I took the letter out from my pocket. It was wrinkled and stain with the red fruit juice. It no longer looked like a regular letter.
Caria Burdnick took the letter as she tried to undo the obvious wrinkles. While she kept doing that, she gazed at me as she moved her eyebrows aggressively. She looked awfully mad at me.
However, we only came to deliver the letter. Why were we given a room to sleep on? I scratched my nose as I was lost in my thoughts. No matter what kind of work the adventurers do, they are rarely allowed to pay homage to a high-ranked official or even congratulated for the effort. We, adventurers, only do the job that requires us to do. That’s it. If I remembered correctly, for most parts of my job as an adventurer, I did what I was supposed to do, then left immediately. I thought that this quest was over when she went to give the letter to a superior officer.
Maybe this time is different because she accompanied me. I rolled my eyes as I sighed deeply.
「…Ah, c’mon. You need to behave more carefully… 」
This seemed strange. Caria Burdnick was desperately trying to look appropriate for no apparent reason. I looked at her while I held my chin. Come to think of it, I never knew the reason why she accompanied me on this particularly quest. There was no doubt that she had some personal errands to do besides delivering that letter.
Well, I guess in the end it ended up okay. I managed to complete my quest. Nonetheless, I still don’t know why she involved an adventurer like myself on her personal business.
A large wooden door opened with slowly as a man came from inside.
That man had rough and sharp eyes. He had a visibly big scar on his right eye. Unlike my shabby-looking clothes, he was dressed with well-prepared garments. Well, the garments were not luxurious, but their quality was not cheap either. At least, he was different from ordinary people. His ornaments were not spectacular as well. However, they were nice enough to know that the quality of the goods were above average.
Besides that, he carried a sword with a golden handle on a scabbard around his waist. I clearly saw that he had an engraved coat of arms on the scabbard. No doubt, this person was…
「It’s been a long time, father. 」
Caria Burdnick greeted that man with a deep bow while she keeled on the floor. She kneeled on the cobblestone near the frontier of the fort.
「You mustn’t call me “that” while I’m on duty, Caria. 」
There was no mistake. This person was the father of Caria Burdnick.
He was the head of the Burdnick House. This person was called Barberridge Burdnick.
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