The Imprisoned Swordsaint
The small village near the northern border of Hocke used to be a human settlement. However, after Leguna killed Barbarian King Legg in the northern highlands, some substantial changes occurred. A large number of humans moved away from the north as their not-so-fertile land would be where the barbarians in the north settled later on. As northern Hockians, they knew who savage the sentient beings from the north were. They were no different from human-shaped animals, so most of the humans chose to leave their homes for the south, which was similarly troubled by war.
Larwin had taken a bet in the southern move of the barbarians.
Among the few benefits of the move would be Hocke getting an elite military force they had never seen before. If they could get the barbarians to join in the war against Stok, then the scales would tip in Hocke's favor.
Similarly, without the buffer zone between the northern highlands and Hocke, the barbarians were like a ticking time bomb in the north of the empire.
Apart from the southern battlefield, Larwin was also quite concerned about the situation in the north. While the barbarians seemed to be behaving well for the moment and were beginning to send their youths to the south to fight the war, Larwin didn't dare to relax one bit. As such, he had no choice but to ask for help from a certain someone.
"[email protected]#%$" the dark-skinned, middle-aged man said before he laughed and turned around.
He spoke Dosrakian, the tongue of the barbarians, as he was talking to a barbarian woman to buy a piece of roasted meat from her.
The barbarians were slowly getting used to living like humans. They were involved in agriculture, husbandry, business, trade… While their society still seemed rather primal, they learned rather quickly with the guidance of humans.
The man held his meat in his hand and didn't seem to be in a rush. It was summer, after all, and the meat wouldn't cool off that quickly. Not to mention…
The man laughed helplessly at the thought that the fellow wouldn't necessarily eat it anyway.
Still, it was something he had to do. The man twisted the paper bag he stored the meat with closed and left the noisy market. After leaving the crowd, his steps quickened considerably.
Though, that description wasn't apt. The rate of his steps didn't change --he was still moving at the pace of a casual stroll-- but each step seemed to cover a distance of five meters. It wasn't that his legs were comically long. But somehow, they just covered more ground in an inexplicable manner.
Thanks to his unique movement skill, he was able to quickly make his way to the mountains. He stood near the outer edges of the mountains, made sure he wasn't tailed by anybody else, and continued speedily, eventually coming to a cave at the lower half of a mountain.
The cave wasn't that deep and didn't seem to extend beyond a hundred meters. Surprisingly, there was a cage made from a white-jade-like material inside with a person sitting within it.
"Guaagh!" the person locked inside seemed rather agitated to see the middle-aged man. He stepped forward and seemed to struggle against the cage, but the moment he touched the bars, they shone bright white and caused him to retract his hands in pain as if he had grabbed onto red-hot iron rods.
"Stop struggling. Your power has been sealed off by my divine miracles. This cage has also been blessed by my Lord, so there's no way you can break out of it," he advised at the pathetic sight of the imprisoned man.
"Ptooey!" He spat and didn't say anything else.
"Want to have some?" He opened the paper bag and let the fragrance of the roast meat waft out. While the barbarians weren't that good with cooking, their roast meat was almost on par as humans'.
"Even if I die, I won't eat something a dog brings me," the person coldly said.
"Marolyt, why do you need to go so far?" He sighed at the sight of the current state of the swordsman who used to be so handsome to the point he didn't have any friends. "Just go with what my Lord has planned. He is benevolent and…"
"If your master is as great as she says he is, why doesn't he come let me go?" Marolyt said, glaring at his captor, "You have also experienced the years during the founding war of the empire, Kevin! You understand what this means as well!"
"For the sake of eternal light and peace, I can accept paying a necessary sacrifice. My Lord has assured me of all this. He would not lie."
"Does the sacrifice include your life?" he countered.
"If it is necessary, I would be glad to offer it."
Kevin didn't seem to be faking his devotion. He meant every word.
"But I can't!" Marolyt stood back up and had wanted to grab on the bars again, but decided against it when he recalled the light they let off. "I'm not like you. I don't want to kiss Pyro's ass. I have a family, a daughter. She lives in Melindor. I can't let her come to harm. You can sacrifice any other trashy life you want. I couldn't care less, but I won't let you touch a hair on my daughter's head!"
"Annie has long hair. Losing one or two strands isn't a big deal."
Kevin didn't seem angered by the insults and scratched his bald head, as if he was lamenting his hair loss at the mention of Annelotte's.
"Damn it, that wasn't the point!"
"Alright, Marolyt, calm down."
After the years of being messed with during the time he was in Melindor, Kevin revelled in the sense of vengeance he now felt. He couldn't care less if Marolyt was swearing or cursing or bother with his bad mood.
"My daughter's life's in danger! How can you expect me to keep calm?!"
Marolyt grabbed the bars again only to be struck back, crying in pain.
"Pyro!" he roared to the sky.
But the only Kevin responded. The wandering lance looked at the galestorm swordsaint and sighed.
"Old friend, your anxiousness is pointless. My Lord's will is not to be overcome."
"Then what would you rather have me do?!" he growled.
"Eat." He put his hand past the bars holding the bag of meat. The bars didn't glow or react.
"I won't!" He slapped Kevin's hand away, but stripped of power, it did nothing.
"Do it for Annie's sake," Kevin said.
"Even with the body of someone in the saint realm, you'll die without nourishment. If you want to see your daughter again and still be able to protect her, the least you can do now is to survive."
Marolyt looked at the meat quietly before stretching his dirty hand out to grab it. He wolfed it down like a beggar seeing meat for the first time.
"Water's behind you," he reminded. The cave was quite huge and even had a deep well that seemed to lead to an underground spring.
Though it was technically an exit, it wasn't large enough to let him through. Coupled with the fact that he had lost his powers, that route wasn't accessible to him.
He put the meat on the ground and stuck his head into the well to drink like a wild beast.
Kevin seemed rather pained to see the galestorm swordsaint in such a state.
"I'm sorry, friend. I have really wronged you this time."
"Let me go if you really feel sorry!" He continued to wolf down the meat without counting on being let out.
"You know that's impossible."
He soon finished his meal. He sat against the wall and looked at his sad state in his reflection.
I look so f*cking ugly! If I had met you looking like this back then, would things have turned out differently, Laulice?"
Kevin sat on a rock nearby and watched him without a word.
"Kevin," Marolyt said without turning away, "Why did you save me? Weren't you trying to follow Pyro's will?"
"I didn't go against Pyro's will."
"But you had a far easier way to fulfill his wishes."
"While it might've been easier, it's not necessarily the best one--" He shrugged. "--I only picked the way I thought was best."
"You don't want me dead?"
"Yes. Because you're my friend."
"Friend, huh… Though I still can't measure up to your bed buddy, Pyro."
"Say whatever you like. I just don't want you dead," he replied nonchalantly, "All my life I've only had a worthy rival like you. I don't wish for you to die so easily."
"Hah, you aren't fit to be my rival. Had it not been for Pyro back then…"
"Alright, I admit it," Kevin smirked.
He didn't think the gap between the two would widen so much after their last fight two decades ago.
He furrowed his brow with dissatisfaction, the battle replaying in his head yet again.Previous Chapter Next Chapter