Faela waited for Anna in the square before the soldier’s headquarters with her arms crossed. Though she smiled and greeted everyone who talked to her, it wasn’t enough to hide her anxiety. Whenever she saw someone with yellow hair, she turned to them, only to be disappointed when she found out it wasn’t the girl she was waiting.
She only breathed out in relief and smiled when she saw Anna running and waving at her.
“I’m sorry I’m late, Faela,” the girl said, panting when she stopped before the swordswoman. Anna placed both hands on her knees to catch her breath. “I had trouble with my armor… It took much longer to clean it… So did my sword…”
“It’s okay. First, breathe. I wasn’t waiting for long anyway,” Faela said, flashing a gentle smile. Then she took a step back to look at the girl.
Anna was completely different a few hours ago when they left the brothel. Her hair was clean and tied with a flowery hairpin. Though her armor was polished, there was still some rust here and there, and underneath it, she wore light clothes. The biggest difference, however, was her eyes. Instead of dull and empty that couldn’t even see the face of the person talking to her, they shone.
After Faela walked around her, she hummed and nodded in approval. “Good. That’s how a swordswoman should look. There’s only one thing missing.” She pulled one of the daggers on her waist and handed to the girl. “That’s a special weapon made of living metal alloy. You’ll need it to fight those monsters.”
“Thanks.” Anna smiled as he clutched the sheathed dagger. When she drew it a little to see the blade, her eyes shone even more.
Tetsuko couldn’t help but smile. That girl is truly a swordswoman.
When Anna sheathed and put the dagger on her waist next to her sword, her face became serious. “So you’re really here to fight those monsters…”
“No. I’m here to investigate the worshipers.”
“T-the worshipers? Did you went to exterminate them?”
“Unlike the court keeps insisting, that threat is far from over.”
“You think those monsters are involved?”
“I know they are,” Faela said, touching Tetsuko for a moment. “That’s why we’re here. I’m waiting for a friend… Ah, there she is.”
A soldier came out from the headquarters carrying many papers with her arms. When she saw Faela, she came in her direction. “Good morning, Faela!”
“Good morning, Camila. Wow, you look tired.”
The soldier indeed had dark circles under her eyes. Even so, she still smiled, her cheeks reddening. “Y-yeah… Things are too busy nowadays. Especially with so many new recruits… Too bad most of them only know how to swing a sword, or at least, think they know. For those who can read, there’s extra work…”
“Sorry for adding more…”
“N-no! Not at all. I’m glad I can help a friend,” Camila hurried to add, handing the papers. “H-here at the reports you asked by the way.”
“Thanks. How about the other thing?”
“I haven’t been able to talk to the head healer. He’s been too busy with the injured people from yesterday.”
“He hasn’t disposed of the monster’s body. He says there’s got to be something he’s missing.”
“Good. I need to check them too,” Faela said. “Thanks for this once again. Hope Sergio didn’t give you too much trouble.”
Camila let out a weak chuckle. “The captain was complaining about you when he came in the morning, saying something you tricked him last night.”
“Nah. I was just taking up on his words.” Faela smiled and waved her hand.
“I’m not gonna ask. Now I need to get back. See you later, Faela. You two, Anna.”
“Bye.” After the soldier headed back inside, she turned to Anna. “Let’s go.”
“Are those the reports from the yesterday’s attacks?” the girl asked as she followed Faela.
“Not only yesterday. I need to know what happened and about those who were hurt in the previous attacks…”
Anna dropped her head. “The first ones died… Dad was hurt on the fifth attack… the first one inside the walls…”
“I promise I’ll find a way to help master. For that, I need to find out the truth behind these monsters.”
The girl nodded, her face full of determination. “I’ll help any way I can.”
They headed to a lodging and Faela rented a room. While she sat on the desk, Anna sat on the table and they both read the reports.
After they both read the reports and told each other what they read, there was a complete silence as they pondered.
They weren’t the only ones. Tetsuko too was considering everything. However, there was one thing clear; the attacks had been growing more dangerous, which means the worshiper who was testing was getting closer to whatever his goal was.
The first attack had happened outside the walls. Some farmers were working when they were attacked by a rabbit. According to the reports, the animal was completely mad, with blood spilling from the mouth and the eyes. It bit three people and even tore a finger from one of the farmers.
By luck, a few soldiers were coming back from the patrol and fought the animal. They too were bitten, and though their weapons could hurt the animal, before they could finish him, the rabbit died on his own. The farmer and the soldiers became ill in matters of hours and died shortly after.
The healers and the nobles insisted they died because the animal had a strange disease, Tetsuko recalled. Considering it happened a month ago, right after the worshipers’ extermination expedition, only an idiot wouldn’t put those two things together. But if these mad animals are infected with worshiper’s blood, why the first people died? They should’ve turned. Or lost their minds trying to fight it. But to die from that…
The second attack was just as strange. Four days later, some chickens went mad and started pecking each other. When the farms tried to stop them, they too were hurt and had to kill the animals. However, they became sick and then died.
One thing Faela noticed was that that family died after the morning meal, where they ate the mad chickens’ eggs.
The third and the fourth incidents also happened with four days span from each other. And like the others, involved the farmer animals, the goats, and a cow, from the farms outside the wall.
The Lord immediately ordered those farms to kill their animals, compensating them for their loss. According to Anna, everyone was tense on the fourth day, expecting more bad news. When nothing happened, everyone cheered, thinking the crises was over. However, the next day, the first incident inside the walls happened.
One of the dogs used by a mercenary group escorting a delivery went mad. The animal bit his owner and all the others nearby. It took over five people to bring him down. Many were hurt, including Anna’s dad. However, there was one thing different from the others. The people bitten became sick but didn’t die like the farmers. The next incidents happened within three days from each other.
As Tetsuko looked at her wielder, she could tell the woman was thinking the same thing as her. This frequency means one thing. This really is an experiment. And yesterday’s attack happened two days after the last one, Tetsuko thought. There’s a strong chance there will be another one tomorrow.
“Yes,” Faela whispered.
“What?” Anna asked.
“Oh, sorry, I was…” The swordswoman grew quiet and looked at her sword. “If we’re gonna fighting together, I need to introduce you to someone.”
Faela pulled the sheath and held it before Anna. “This is Tetsuko. She’s a sword with a soul. Or a soul inside a sword. The line is too blurred now.”
Anna looked at the woman and then at the weapon with a puzzled expression. Then she flashed a wry smile. “Sorry… because of me, you didn’t sleep yesterday…”
Now I’m a sword with a soul? Glad I was promoted from a butter knife, Tetsuko projected her thoughts.
Anna blinked a few times and leaned back. “Did that sword just talk?”
Yes. I’m called Tetsuko. I used to be a blacksmith in another world, but now I’m a sword who will become the strongest blade in this world.
Faela snorted. “Pretty pompous of you. Hope you can cut the next enemy and not just scratch their skin. Or you’ll be better as a carpentry tool.”
Anna still didn’t seem to understand what was happening. “A blacksmith from another world… whose soul is now in a sword…?”
“Yeah. Sounds like a silly kid’s story. But after everything I’ve seen in the last few months, this isn’t the strangest. At least I believe in her.”
Thanks, Tetsuko thought, hoping she could project her sarcasm.
Anna closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Then she let out a hollow laugh. “I wouldn’t believe. But after those monsters’ attack…”
“We’ll find a way to stop them. I didn’t go to fight the worshipers only to let a few of them spread terror throughout the land.”
Anna took a deep breath, her face once again determined. “I’ll help in any way I can!”
“Good. I need a reliable partner.”
Was that aim at me?
Faela kept quiet, but the smile on her lips said it all.