Chapter 9 Quiet Resolution
“I kept running until my legs gave out”
Gear closed his eyes for a moment, as if recalling his memories.
“We stopped in the middle of the forest…”
Falling down onto one knee, Albert's legs had finally gave out after sprinting at full speed for almost an hour.
Albert finally stopped to rest after confirming there weren’t any followers.
Albert handed a set of clothes to Clair who was completely stripped down to her skin.
“It might be too big for you, but its better than nothing”
With a small voice, Clair thanked him and turned around in embarrassment.
From behind, Albert could see her biting her lips, as tears rolled down her cheeks.
He looked at the frail looking young woman, and wanted to comfort her in some way, but what could he do? They were merely acquaintances. He decided it would be best to leave her alone. He quickly faced the opposite direction, and let her cry softly in a muffled voice.
Albert remained alert for any monsters or possible followers for an unknown amount of time, when he felt a hand on his shoulder.
Albert asked without turning his head. He felt her presence shift and move back slightly as he watched his surroundings.
Looking over his shoulder, the view of a completely vulnerable woman entered his perception.
“Let’s quickly get back to town”
Saying nothing else, Clair simply nodded her head, and was dragged along by Albert.
After trekking through the forest for some time, they came across a short clearing with circles of flowers growing. It was a place Albert hadn’t yet visited in the woody area. He wasn’t exactly sure how much further it was until the exit, but he knew the rough direction of town.
However, coming across this clearing, a foreboding feeling lingered in the air.
“Looks like the tricky little bastard has finally showed up. Hurry and get the boss!”
From the other side, a group of five bandits, two armed with bows, and three with swords approached them.
Albert took a roundabout path, different from the main path leading out, so he didn’t believe he’d be found so easily.
“We’ve got you now you little shit!”
“Did you think you could escape from us?”
Listening to them silently, Albert quietly thought to himself, of course he could’ve outrun them, that is, if he were alone. They probably weren’t able to track him down, so they spread out and waited at key points in this forest.
“Stay here, I’ll finish this quickly”
Albert quickly filled his hands with numerous large steel needles and sprinted forward.
Large Steel needles, they were one of his favorite weapons. They were light, had pin point piercing power, and they could be thrown with much more precision than throwing daggers.
Albert quickly approached the bandits as they shot arrows at him.
Nimbly dodging the arrows as they whizzed past him, Albert threw his needles.
The needles flew through the air as they pierced a few of the bandits in multiple body parts.
“Shit! What the hell is this?!!”
“Damn, I can’t move my arm! What the fuck did he do?!!”
The bandits cried in agony as the needles stuck into their bodies.
To the untrained eyes, the large thin needles were only perceivable by the sunlight that forced them glimmer, as they glided through the air.
The needles worked to his advantage, Albert locked blades with one of the bandits as he stumbled to keep his balance.
Albert whispered under his breath as he whipped around to the bandit’s blindside, and lodged multiple needles straight through the bandit’s throat.
With needles piercing even his voice box, the bandit couldn’t even make so much as a whimper as he suffocated to death, writhing in agony on the ground.
Moving in towards the bandits armed with bows, Albert threw out more needles.
“He’s throwing needles!”
“Stop standing around and get him!”
Pulling out the protruding thin objects, they recognized the throwing weapon that assaulted them with pin point accuracy.
“I can’t hit this annoying bastard! He’s too damn fast!”
They sneered out in frustration as Albert continued to dodge the arrows, but it was already too late. Albert had completely invaded their comfort zone.
“G-get away from me!”
Terrified of the way Albert fearlessly approached them, the remaining bow bandit back pedaled in horror, as Albert slit the other one's throat.
In a fluid motion, Albert quickly threw the dagger in his hand.
The dagger had hit the bandit right where his heart was located, but it hadn’t punctured all the through.
In the next moment, Albert stepped in and thrust his palm with a twisting motion straight into his dagger, driving the dagger all the way through to the bandit’s heart.
With a low moan, the bandit died almost instantly as his lifeless body hit the floor.
One of the remaining two bandits mumbled as he watched Albert effortlessly kill three of his allies.
“Get the girl! As long as we have her, we can use her as a hostage!”
Coming to their senses, they realized that Albert had ran past them to get to the bow bandits behind.
After looking at each other the two of them looked straight at Clair and ran towards her.
Just as they began to run, they were immediately stopped. It was as if someone or something was pulling on their limbs, preventing them from moving.
“Where the hell do you think you're going?”
From behind, a chilling voice called out towards the two bandits.
“I… I can’t move my body!”
“What the fuck is going on?!!”
Looking closer at their body and limbs, there was what seemed to be strings entwined around their bodies.
Surely enough, they could see the multiple threads that were attached to numerous tree’s in the distance as they glimmered in the sunlight.
How did he wrap the steel strings around their bodies? They thought. And then it hit them, it was attached to the steel needles Albert had thrown.
Steel Strings, it was Albert's trump card. Since the beginning, he had been spreading out his threads everywhere in case the bandits would go after Clair.
“Go to hell”
Talking out loudly, the bandits quickly looked over at Albert, as he placed his hand on a single thread that hung in the air.
With a flick of his finger, the threads that bound the bandits instantly tightened, snapping all of their bones instantly, leaving behind two unrecognizable lumps of flesh. There were no screams, just the sound of numerous bones breaking. Without uttering a sound, the two bandits died instantaneously.
Running back, Albert quickly took Clair by the hand, and started running once again.
Moments later, the Bandit leader appeared and witnessed the horrific scene Albert had left behind.
“What the hell happened here?”
He couldn’t help but to talk out loud at the scene that was laid out in front of him.
“Find them, catch them before they reach the other side”
Without a word, the bandits scrambled off in different directions.
The five who had died here were some of his best men, and yet the scenery told him otherwise.
Just who in the hell is the guy that did this?
He recalled the events that transpired at his base.
Just as he was about to have his way with the young female knight captain, he felt as his body stopped moving. Someone had cast a movement sealing type magic on him, briefing paralyzing him.
Immediately after, a figure cloaked in black rushed past him from behind and knocked away his four most trusted men in a single swoop.
Right as his eyes caught up to him, the figure cloaked in black instantly vanished along with the girl he had captured.
The bandit leader walked in the direction of his men’s corpses.
Looking at what remained of the battle, chills were sent down his spine. His men were killed mercilessly. He understood that the person who did this was a person skilled in fighting against other people.
The horrifying scene gave him insight on his fighting style, and how he also managed to escape the first time.
Using his cloaking skill, Albert disappeared. However the most important part was escaping. He had previously tied his steel strings around some trees beforehand, and then used it to propel himself backwards as he grabbed onto Clair.
Walking in the direction of their tracks, the bandit leader resolved himself for a dangerous battle.
“That was my first time killing anyone”
“How did it feel?”
“How did what feel?”
“……At the time, adrenaline was rushing through my blood stream, I didn’t have time to think about it. But, after I made it back to town, the realization that I had killed someone finally caught up. I threw up twice inside the inn room”
“Did anything happen after you escaped the second time?”
“Yea, that was the start of everything… we ran until we reached the edge of the forest”
“Looks like you made it pretty far. For a little shit, you’re pretty good”
Expending most of his energy, Albert had made it to the edge of the forest. Just beyond the trees in front of him was a field that spanned roughly two miles before reaching the town.
However, before him was the bandit leader. Behind him were three groups of men, ready to move.
“I’m flattered, so how about you take your group of men and have fun with each other back in your cave?”
“Looks like you’re pretty eager to die ain’tcha?”
The bandit leader snorted at Albert's comment.
Tired of running, Albert distanced himself from Clair, readying himself for battle. Clair nervously bit her bottom lip in anticipation.
“Enough! If I go back, will you let him go?”
Surprised at the voice coming from behind him, Albert looked back to see Clair walk past him.
“That isn’t a choice for you to make”
Before the Bandit Leader could say anything, Albert briskly walked towards Clair.
Clair could hear a small clicking noise as Albert spread out his hands and spoke.
“W-what is this?!!”
“It took a lot of effort to rescue you”
In an instant, Clair was rendered unable to move.
“Don't let my goodwill go to waste”
“W-What do you mean? It's impossible to escape anymore...”
“I’m telling you it’s going to be alright”
With another wave of his hands, Clair could see something glittering in the sunlight, being spread out in all directions.
Approaching from behind, Albert gently hugged her back, and took a few steps backwards.
“For now, you’ll have to make it back on your own”
"Wait… w-what do you think you’re doing?! I said wa-!!"
As soon as Albert let go of her, Clair was sent flying through the air, soaring far past the group of thieves in front of him.
“……What… did he do?”
“Was that magic?!”
Astonishment filled the air. The bandits were dumbfounded at what happened. In just a single moment, the Knight Captain flew through the air.
“……Go after her!!!”
Stunned at Alberts actions, the bandit leader immediately order some of his men to give chase.
Utilizing the steel threads that fluttered past them while stuck on Clair, Albert blocked the path by tightening his threads that had gotten caught on the trees behind them.
“B-boss there’s something blocking the path!”
“Shut up and go around it!”
The tightened threads could buy only a moments worth of time. Towards the ones who stayed behind, Albert boldly walked forward as the remaining bandits faced him in disarray.
“This Cheeky brat”
The Bandit leader’s shout brought his confused followers back to normal.
Just simply looking, there seemed to be roughly over twenty people. About a third of them seemed to have chased after Clair, and it was likely that the rest of the bandits were somewhere in the forest, waiting for the next order.
Although he managed to kill a small group of five not too long ago, he was going against the bandit leader, along with just over twenty of his men this time.
Albert wondered to himself, why was he risking his life to help a girl he didn’t even know? When he thought about it, they were only acquaintances. Certainly, she was beautiful, probably the prettiest girl he’d ever seen.
The moment they first met had been brief, but nevertheless, her figure still remained in his memory. That overly friendly attitude, her appearance as a leader, and even just recently, how lonely she looked as they traveled through the forest.
A simple thought came to mind. So simple, a smirk formed on his face as he readied a dagger in each hand.
I want to know more about her.
In the middle of patrol, a group of four knights on horse were talking as the horses trotted along the outskirts of the field near the forest.
“Hey have you guys heard?”
“The Knight Captain has been missing since this morning”
“Are there any orders to move?”
“I heard the Commander was worried. He sent out a squad of knights to patrol the forest not too long ago”
Slowly trotting along, they talked about various things.
As they continued to talk, they heard a strange sound.
“What’s that noise?”
“Listen for a bit…”
The Knights who noticed the strange noise quieted down, and began to listen.
Looking at each other, the knights wondered what it could be.
“It sounds like a person”
“A woman screaming to be exact”
“It’s getting louder, where is it coming from?”
The knights on patrol stopped to look around.
The only thing they knew, was that a scream could be heard in the distance, and it was quickly approaching.
A person flying through the air could be seen when they looked up.
The person flying directly at them looked familiar, but because of how lightly dressed she was, they couldn’t make heads or tails.
Realizing who it was, the knights quickly scrambled together as quickly as they could.
“Make absolutely sure we’ll catch her, got it?!!”
“Of course! Flying at speed, and without any armor, she’ll definitely get hurt!”
Predicting where she would land, the knights gathered in one spot and quickly prepared to intercept her.
Landing on top of the squad of knights, Clair quickly came to her senses that she was no longer flying through the sky.
Looking at the knights who had broken her fall, she pointed her finger at the member who was knocked away the farthest among the group.
“THERE’S NO TIME! GIVE ME YOUR WEAPON! QUICKLY!!!”
Without any hesitation, Clair quickly demanded the knight to hand over his sword. Dazed and confused from the impact, the knight quickly gave up his weapon.
Taking the sword, she quickly mounted the horse and rode off in the direction of the forest.
“Where is she going?”
“I don’t know”
“Don’t sit around, we’ve got to follow her!”
The knights quickly scrambled together, and followed after her.