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Freya, finished with dealing the bandits who invaded the library, stepped outside and lent her aid to the guards.

Upon seeing the sight of a girl in the makeshift battlefield, the guards grunted. ‘Get outta here! This isn’t a place for girls to play knights!’ A guard had shouted at her. To which, Freya couldn’t care less.

There were invaders which managed to slip past through the guards and into the library just now, so the guards losing their ground was still within Freya’s expectation. She took her time to observe the current battlefield before actually engaging in it. From what she saw, there were a few key points on the current situation:

  1. The guards were more skilled as fighters compared to their enemies. The bandits simply amounted more and overwhelmed them.
  2. There were capable archers who could shoot accurately and mercilessly. Their presence posed a real threat.
  3. The way things were, if nothing changed, the library was done for.

‘Girl! This isn’t a place for you!’ Another guard shouted. Most of them were warning her, but Freya gave them deaf ears. She could hear them all warning her and shouting in panic, when a bandit; holding a torch, was lunging at her. His eyes portrayed his insanity and his crazy grin confirmed it. He held the torch high up, about to swing it down on Freya.

Against that crazed man, Freya gave a smile of her own. A sincere smile. Which was crazy, since she could smile that way in such situation. With the still sheathed Celeste tightly gripped in her right hand, held beside her waist, she swung Celeste sideways and hit the raider’s jaw with a smooth precise motion. Her strength and speed couldn’t compare to the guards as she was now, but what she didn’t have, she made up with her perfect movements where no motion was wasted. The raider didn’t even get a chance to swing down his torch, and fell to the ground sideways with his jaws dislocated.

When the guards saw what she did, their constant warning had came to a halt. No longer did they feel the need to order the girl to get out of the battlefield. She had just proven herself that she belonged there without uttering any words. The show she gave was more than enough to convince them.

The bandits saw what Freya did. They thought of her as a threat, and seeing that she looked frail and weak, especially without any armor, they thought they could get rid of the threat themselves. 2 men ran to her, one had a torch in one hand, while the other had a torch and a sword. Instead of running away, Freya dashed towards her 2 assailants.

With a thrust that was like an unblock-able stream of rushing water, Freya hit one of the assailant at his chest, right at the solar plexus. Since he didn’t wear a breastplate, and Freya didn’t want to murder anyone unless if she had to, she weakened her thrust. That ought not to kill him, but still good enough to render him useless for the duration of the battle.

‘Whoa,’ Freya said as she dodged the other assailant’s torch by swaying to the back. He had taken his opportunity when Freya aimed at his ally to get close to her. Truth be told, the way this certain bandit moved was too skilled to be that of a bandit’s. Had he been even better, that torch swing would have hit her.

Freya felt that something was different with that particular bandit, and her suspicion was confirmed when he immediately followed his torch attack with a quick sword attack before Freya was able to regain her position from her current back swaying position. Looking at him swinging the sword, Freya thought that the sword would certainly slash her without fail at that rate.

That’s… if I rise. Freya thought.

Instead of rising back up, fast enough to regain her position and to again dodge the man’s attack, Freya let herself fall back even further and used her free left hand as a support to keep her body from resting on the ground. The bandit had expected her to rise back up and planned his swing accordingly. When she didn’t, the sword missed its target; and Freya got herself a chance to counter.

She pushed the ground with both hands. Her right still holding Celeste. And rose back up quickly. Before the bandit was able to prepare his guard, Celeste had made swift hard contact with the bandit’s left temple and he was down.

He’s a mercenary, Freya drew a conclusion. Mixed in the crowd of bandits.

According to Jerry: William, the son of the current ruler of Arkef, was being an accomplice of Skulls. Skulls’ leader, Vath, must have collected the bandits. William, on the other hand, had collected the mercenaries. It only made sense now as to why the guards were losing. The mercenaries, like the archers positioned at certain buildings, aided them greatly. No wonder the guards with their spears and amor couldn’t fend them well. Now Freya understood.

Without seeing to the left, Freya just captured an arrow aiming for her head with her free left hand. Only after she caught the arrow did she determine where the archers were located. One of them, at least judging from the arrow that was shot on her, originated from the bell tower far from the library.

Nothing I can do about that, Freya thought.

Ray and Dunnford would be able to deal with the archer by using their wind magic for long ranged attack. Meanwhile, for Elaine, it wouldn’t pose any problem to her at all. As someone who was good with magic, she could most likely decimate the bell tower from afar. As her mind was wondering about them, she had aided a troubled guard by dealing with the 3 raiders who were ganging on him. They fell swiftly once Freya intervened.

‘The bell tower is occupied by an archer or more, ask someone to deal with it,’ Freya said to the guard before she left to aid the other guards.

They should be at Skull’s base right now, Freya thought. I wonder how they’re doing.

***

Vienna’s vicious roar was music to Vath’s ears.

The leader of Skulls had remained inside his base, dealing with papers. Those words he wrote on the paper would turn to reality as Arkef’s new law and rules when he and William took over Arkef. He knew he could hand such political matters to William, but Vath felt the need to verify if the laws William made was to Vath’s benefit.

He had planned his attack on the same day when he thought the Silver Arrows would launch their attack on the main base. That way, they wouldn’t become a hassle to his plan on attacking the library; as they wouldn’t be able to defend that place. Keep them occupied here, so they wouldn’t be there at Arkef’s grand library.

Having the library fall down was the core strategy for his plan. With the ensured chaos from the fall of the library, William will rise as a benevolent ruler to replace the current one. He would then claim that he had foreseen such situation and secured important books, when in truth he had asked the fairies to steal them in the first place. Should the library fall, Vaths’s plan would be completed.

He had been exceptionally cautious with the Silver Arrows and was waiting for an update on their defeat inside the base. Vienna’s deafening roar which he just listened brought a smile to his face, as that would mean the end for Silver Arrow.

It would be great if Vienna is killing the leader of Silver Arrow right now, Vath thought.

The man leading the Silver Arrow, to Vath, was not someone he could ignore. He was shrouded in mystery and Vath hadn’t any information on him other than the fact that he had beaten his strongest general, Jabber, with a sheathed sword; and without magic. That man posed a threat to Vath’s masterplan. Half of the reason as to why Vath had remained in his base, other than dealing with the papers, was to prepare for the worst scenario. Should he be able to beat the rest of his generals, then Vath had to step down and confront the man himself.

A beep came from a box on top of Vath’s desk. That box was as small as a sugar cube, a magic tool that William had given to him for the ease of communication. 2 beeps indicated that it was William making contact, while 1 beep indicated that it would be Vath’s subordinate making contact to him. A subordinate which he had placed specifically for the raid on the library.

Vath grabbed the box, being careful so as to not destroy the fragile magical tool. He pressed his thumb on one side to allow the communicator’s voice to be relayed to him.

‘Lord Vath… There’s bad news. The assault on the library is failing,’ the voice from inside the box said.

‘What?!’ Vath uttered, he had to refrain himself so as to not destroy the small box out of rage. Failure on the attack would mean that his plan wouldn’t come to fruition. ‘Explain yourself!’

‘We were doing good at the beginning milord,’ the voice said, keeping his composure. ‘The mercenaries within us helped greatly and the archers were doing great. Some of us even managed to slip inside the library. But… they just received aid… and we’re repelled.’

‘Aid?’ Vath asked. Their forces should have dwindled because of the political problem William had created. And the ruler couldn’t possibly support the defense of the library with his army; unless if he wanted Arkef to be defenseless from outside forces. ‘How many? What kind of aid?’

‘Just…’ he paused, hesitant to answer. ‘One, milord.’

‘One?? ONE??’

‘Y- Yes milord. Someone with— with a sheathed sword.’

With a sheathed sword. That was when it dawned on him, that the leader of the Silver Arrow wasn’t participating in the attack on his main base. Had Vath been outplayed by the mysterious leader’s cunning? Was he there because he anticipated the attack on the library and defended the place? If he was there, then who was Vienna facing?

So many questions flooded his head. He didn’t drown in it however, and grabbed onto what he knew for sure: if the attack on the library failed, his plan would be thrown out of track! Vath could start going to the library, but someone needed to handle the rest of the Silver Arrow if Vienna was defeated. He could not leave the base, unless if he was absolutely sure that Vienna had gained him the victory he wanted. Which left him with only 1 option…

‘Release it,’ Vath ordered.

It, milord? But—’

‘RELEASE IT.’

‘R— Right away milord!’

The communication was cut off. Without him realizing, during his rage, Vath had gripped the edge of the table so hard that the part he gripped was reduced to dust.

‘Vienna better give me the victory I want,’ he said aloud to himself. If she didn’t, he had to step down and deal with the rest of Silver Arrow.

***

In the midst of battle, Freya was distracted.

As she had beaten a bandit with ease, a sense of foreboding sent chill to her spine. Oddly enough, in the battlefield, the thought of Elaine appeared inside her mind. Did something happen to her? Freya didn’t like the feeling she was having. I should finish this fast and go to her.

‘You look distracted miss swordswoman, may I ask why?’ A guard who was resting behind Freya said.

‘A little,’ Freya casually replied. ‘I’m worried about my friends. Anyway, shouldn’t you be fending off the bandits?’ Freya was not troubled keeping up with the conversation even when there were swarm of bandits going after her.

‘I can’t fight against my age, miss. It must be nice to be young and in your prime. Unfortunately for me, I need to catch my breath. And you know what they say: “the safest place to be is inside the eye of the storm”. You’re the storm, miss. Oh, my name is Lance, may I ask for yours?’

‘Freya,’ she said before she swung her sword hard on a bandit’s gut. ‘A pleasure to know you Sir Lance.’

‘Likewise. Say… may I ask why are you fighting with your sword sheathed? Is that like an effective trick for fighting? If so, I never know such trick existed.’

‘No.’ Freya then dodged a torch swing by swaying left, and landed a counter with her sword. Another bandit down. ‘Not at all. Not for this type of situation at least. There are some situation where a sheathed sword is good, but this is not it.’

‘Then if I may ask—’

‘Just ask,’ Freya interrupted. She had just made a chop with Celeste, that landed on a bandit’s forehead. Not her style, but them being weak allowed that move.

‘Why don’t you unsheathe your sword then?’

Good question, Freya thought. I myself would like to know. ‘I… don’t see the need to? I guess?’

There were 2 bandits swinging torches from left and right simultaneously. Freya bend her knees to duck and the bandits hit and burned each other.

‘Figures, you’re strong after all, miss.’

‘I’m not, they’re just weak.’ Ray and Dunnford could deal with their numbers by using their wind magic. As for Elaine, it wouldn’t even be a fight if she unleashed a wide range magic. Elaine… Freya still couldn’t shake the foreboding feeling she had gotten and the thought of Elaine.

‘You can go to your friends, miss Freya,’ Lance said.

Freya, for once, actually look back to see the old man in his fifties, crouching on the ground. Without looking, she parried an arrow that was aimed toward her with Celeste. She gave him a stare that questioned: Are you serious?

‘I’m serious.’ Lance understood her stare. ‘Miss, you’ve beaten up the bandits and mercenaries. With their number dwindled, we guards shouldn’t have any problems with them now. The archers are a problem, but someone is dealing with them. Also, I’ve gotten enough rest to fight again.’ Lance stood up and held his spear.

He thrusted his spear at Freya’s direction, and stabbed a bandit behind her at the shoulder. The bandit’s scream deafened her ear and his blood spoiled her clothes.

‘You’ve done more than enough miss, go to your friends.’

Freya made her immediate decision. ‘Then I’m leaving,’ she said. She then made a dash for it.

Freya didn’t run away by going to the back though. If anything, she had instead ran passed through the frontline and immediately to the enemy’s territory. The base should be this way, she thought as she became a hurricane that beat every bandits she passed through. Before I leave, I should at least take down the commander.

There must be someone leading those bandits and mercenaries somewhere. Instructing them to attack the library. Sure, they were disorganized, but all things considered, there must be a commander or at least someone who relayed instructions. If she were to take out their means of receiving order, then she could be rest assured that the guards would do just fine. She had been passive by holding the battlefront, now was the time for her to get active by going on the offensive.

As she penetrated the enemy’s defenses, Freya started noticing that they weren’t engaging in a fight with her. They were backing down not because they were scared, no, their movement was too coordinated for that. It was as if they were instructed to back down, which was most likely the case. A tactical retreat?

They were like a receding wave, giving her the calm and peace in mind as she stepped into the ocean’s territory, only to follow with a big wave. Freya was not liking the situation. What were they planning?

Taking down the commander was no longer Freya’s main concern. Not after she saw what the mercenaries were preparing. They set out a large sheet of clothing, on it was a circle made of runes. A Magic Formulae. Freya managed to catch a glimpse of it and she didn’t like the color she perceived.

That formulae, was without a doubt summoning magic. The summoning magic was not a worrisome magic; since it was just for summoning something, what was worrisome was what that circle would summon. Freya, who was able to perceive magic as colors, saw a sinister black radiance emanating from the Magic Formulae.

I need to stop that.

She went straight to the summoning magic. There were 3 people were chanting and activating the magic. Time was short and Freya had to stop it, fast. If her path was clear, then she would have no problem whatsoever. But, the moment she directed herself to the magic circle, the bandits and mercenaries made an effort to stop her. Of course, their effort was futile, since they were basically fodder for Freya. However, they were obviously buying time for the chanters to finish their chant. To summon whatever it was they wanted to summon.

‘Out of my way!’ Freya said as she beat them one by one. She kept on striving forward to stop the summoning.

Freya should have unsheathed her sword. She should have let the blade be seen, cut her obstructers, let blood flow, and scare them from hindering her. Yet, why didn’t she unsheathe it? Even when the situation practically was begging for it? She was hesitant to draw Celeste out.

The summoning circle then glowed. From afar, the chanting which ominously filled the air had disappeared. They have finished their summoning. The glow kept on becoming brighter, until it became a black sun that blinded everyone for a brief moment. When Freya opened her eyes, she saw a creature of chaos.

It was the size of a house, had a black-silver fur, and 3 pair of fangs. 4 limbs like a hound’s, but with three heads. Its three pair of eyes glowed red menacingly. A hound which Freya had read in a book. A creature that created destruction in its trail. Cerberus.

The bandits smiled when they have summoned their creature. They thought that the battle was theirs for the taking and victory was already decided. But, the beast could not differentiate friends or foes. It crushed bandits with its gigantic ravenous leg and crushed them with its sharp fangs. The bandits, getting blood of their accomplices on them, scattered away from the beast in terror.

Everyone took their distance from it, either in fear or in anticipation to fight against the beast. Everyone, except Freya, who stood still on her ground, with a sheathed Celeste in her grip. Her eyes; unwavering even when facing against the beast.

The Cerberus could have gone on a rampage and wreak havoc to its vicinity, but it restrained itself. Its three pairs of eyes glared sinisterly to someone. A person who was a threat to its well-being. A target which needed to be dealt first-hand. A swordswoman, with a sheathed sword.

Freya, noticing the beast’s eyes on her, touched her right shoulder with her free hand.

‘I don’t think I can tame it,’ she casually said to herself.

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A note from Novaldy Felix

Regarding the previous hiatus: college happened.


About the author

Novaldy Felix

Bio: Any form of reviews or critics, kind or unkind, is greatly appreciated! Thank you!

Things happens, updates Freya at least once a week at EST Saturday 19:03. (If I don't get the timezone wrong)

Oh hey, speaking of which:
Some stuff arises during the holiday, things I need to deal with.

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