“Tsar, can I have a moment of your time?”
One of my soldiers called out to me. He was on the opposite side of the tower from me, which looked in the direction of Arxia.
“It’s about that…”
The soldier was pointing straight below him. The place that I had tiptoed to see should be the refugee tents. However, what I saw instead was an incredible amount of dead bodies stacked on top of each other. The earth was stained in red. On top of them were the corpses of the archers and arrows that had been fired.
“How could this happen…”
I muttered reflexively. A wheeze escaped from my throat. The refugees were people without weapons or riches. Even so, the Densel soldiers killed them all. Isn’t that just a massacre? Rather than waging war in hopes of gaining something, didn’t they just come here to slaughter people?
I could feel my hands shaking against the cold stone wall. Why did they kill everyone? Was it all just for pleasure? I bit my lip as I tried to bear the brunt of what I was feeling. Red eyes flashed across my mind. I saw my father with an ecstatic smile on his cold, yet handsome face.
However, I didn’t have the time to be distracted by my vivid memories of father and his crazy smile.
Their attack was sudden. On the other side of the tower we were on, that connected to the nobles’ building and the knight building, the door to the tower that connected the knight building to the barracks was suddenly kicked open. Soldiers held their swords and swarmed at us like an avalanche after the door slammed open, and slashed at my soldiers who were closest to them.
Instantly, fresh blood splattered from one of my soldier’s back while another had a sword pierced in his flank.
My whole body mysteriously became hot and cold at the same time. When I realised this, I called out their names. My throat convulsed, and my voice came out more heart-breaking than I have ever heard it before.
Igor, the young soldier who was slashed, looked at me clearly, and his voice trembled, “Run away.” Next, his body was brutally kicked away. His body rolled away like the carcass of an insect.
My soldiers attacked the ambushers who had cut down Dominic and Igor. However, they were surrounded by a greater number of enemies, and Ryszard and Wojciech were pierced with swords. Both of them collapsed on the stone paving with their eyes still wide open. I saw small drops of blood splash onto the arm I had thrown out as my arm convulsed, then someone’s arm blocked my vision.
“My Lord, please fall back!”
The arm belonged to Gunter. Under his protection, we retreated back towards the nobles’ building, and I placed my hand on the hilt of my sword. I thought that overly long weapons would be useless indoors, so I had left my halberd that Ergnard had taught me how to handle back in the mountain cave with the Sill tribe.
The knights jumped forward from behind me like the wind. They began cutting off the enemy’s heads with their swords, then pierced through their chests. However, our assailants kept up their fierce attack. They were equipped with slightly shorter swords than what was normally used in Arxia, with extremely sharpened tips. The swords seem to be single-edged blades, and on top of being strong, they were easy to wield due to how light they were.
It became a chaotic free-for-all melee on the fortress’s rooftop, and I could hear screams, cries, and angry roars. People from both sides were dying left and right, and some were even falling off the roof and dropping to the ground. At this ghastly scene, father’s loud laughter from long ago echoed at the back of my head. The hell that my father had created overlapped with the tragedy in front of me. My knees quivered, and my brain seemed completely numb.
“Get out of here!”
When Gunter shouted this, an attacker flew out from my blind spot behind a pillar. Gunter’s sword blocked the attacker’s sword as I jumped backwards. With the clang of sharp metal colliding, Gunter blew away his opponent with his shoulder. However, in the next instant, another enemy thirsted a short spear at Gunter.
I gulped. My body had become like lead, and wouldn’t listen to what I was telling it to do. My father’s laughter continued to echo at the back of my mind. Gunter successfully dodged the attack using the metal equipment that he had received from Jugfena Fortress, then slit the enemy’s throat with his sword.
He roared angrily again in impatience. My body sprang into action, and finally took a step forward with my left foot. The other knights, who were in charge with my protection, were fending off attackers coming from all directions. Everyone was equipped with a sword, and alarm bells were going off in my brain.
Turning around, I saw some knights retreating back into the nobles’ building with the unconscious Earl Euinsbark and Wiegraf. One of them noticed my situation, and came running back over with sword in hand.
As soon as he yelled at me. I ran as fast as I could in a straight line towards him. From the side, I saw an unfamiliar gauntlet glove reaching out for me, and the knight ran over to me and sliced the hand off. A scream came from my right, and blood splashed on me. My right ear was beating in pain. Should I be happy that blood didn’t get into my eyes? I used the inside of my sleeve to roughly wipe off the blood on my forehead. I can’t stop just because I got splashed with some warm liquid, and I ran so fast that I could trip at any moment. Still, I felt that it took me a long time to approach the group of knights and cursed my young body.
Someone screamed. I jumped forward because I saw a reflection of light at the edge of my vision. Sure enough, I tripped. I heard the sound of my clothes tearing, and felt myself being pulled from behind. My cloak was probably torn. My helmet fell off, making a banging sound against the floor. The hilt of my sword was still in my hand.
I jumped up without even taking a moment to catch my breath. Just behind me, I heard the sound of something heavy being knocked down into the place where my face had been one second earlier. I was so terrified that I couldn’t even look back, and ran so fast that I could trip again at any moment. However, something happened that made me choke. Someone had grabbed onto my clock. They lifted me up by my collar from behind, choking me.
I grab the cloth around my neck in deliria. Even so, my body easily floated into the air. I squirmed and kicked at whoever had lifted me up into the air, but it did nothing at all. I got dazzled by the pain. My vision started flickering, and my whole body shook violently. I was beginning to foam from my mouth, and it dripped down my jaw.
『A brat on the battlefield? It’s the same everywhere.』
As everything in my world was getting blurry, the only thing I could still hear clearly was the coarse voice of a man.
『How pitiful. That’s right, at the very least, I’ll let you have some fun before dying. Kids dream of flying in the sky, right? 』
As he said so, the man began to guffaw unpleasantly. The tips of my toes touched something several times, then ―――
I suddenly felt the pressure and pain against my neck disappear.
My sleeves and the hem of my cloak made annoying fluttering sounds. My arms automatically paddled in the air. All I grabbed was handfuls of air. After I was thrown off the top of the black iron fortress, I couldn’t help but think about free fall amusement park rides from my previous life, even though it was ridiculous.
At the same time, goosebumps were crawling up my flesh. As I was approaching the ground, my fear of death, which had consisted of my father’s laughter, dispersed.
My voice won’t come out. In the end, I might have been lucky that I had kept my mouth shut.
Someone grabbed me by my belly, and it felt like my internal organs would spill out. My vision shook greatly. There was very little pain.
The first thing that I saw was the ground sliding by. Next, was the shadow reflected on the ground; it was the shape of a draconis wing, spread out and gliding in the wind.
“――― You alright?!”
I heard a familiar voice next to me, and I choked for a different reason than earlier.
It hasn’t been that long since he went away ――― or to be precise, since I had chased him away ―――. That voice made me feel so relieved that the corner of my eyes were warming up.
“Why… Kamil. Why are you here?”
Those weren’t the words I wanted to say. However, the words that I wanted to say were caught at the back of my throat, and won’t come out.
“Honestly, you’re not cute at all, Tsar.”
He pulled me up onto Rashiok’s back with a gentle and wry smile. Even his behaviour made my chest ache in pain.
――― Kamil. Why did you come here?
“Are you alright, Helvetia-dono?!?!”
I heard another familiar voice come from above me, and when I looked up, I saw a red-winged draconis flapping in the air. Its wings had a different hue from Rashiok’s reddish-purple wings, but they looked beautiful as they sparkled in the sun. This is probably one of Rashiok’s siblings.
I could see Claudia’s face from the side of the draconis’s wing as her stunning blonde hair blew in the wind. Probably because she hadn’t seen me in a long time, she only remembered the ‘el’ in my name. Who the heck is Helvetia? Why are both of them here? I furrowed my brows in confusion, and noticed someone else behind Claudia.
“… Who’s that?”
He looks familiar, I thought. His stern expression vaguely reminded me of Earl Theleisa. That must be why I felt déjà vu.
“Leave this place to me, and go!”
That was the only thing the man said before the red-winged draconis flapped its wings and rose to the sky. Did they have a plan? Kamil and Rashiok also rose up as well. Rashiok’s wings made fluttering noises next to my feet. The two draconis soared lightly back up to the rooftop.