*thud* Arthur was in shock, he could only stare at the limp body of Rose sprawled at the foot of a tree. He could only get out “Why..?” before he was forced to move as the giant beast that was at least twice the size of a regular adult swung its club towards Arthur with tremendous force.
He jumped backwards and took a good look at the monster to see if he could figure out what it was.
‘Large build, green, uses a giant wooden club… Wait! This is a troll! Why is a troll here?!’ That was what came to Arthur's mind. He was right to question it, a troll was classified as a class c monster by the adventurers guild which was far too dangerous for a simple hunting competition.
Arthur had no time to think so he simply operated on instinct, he was low on stamina due to the earlier fight so he had to end this quickly if he wanted to survive.
Arthur scanned his surrounding for anything he could use; then he remembered the spear he threw earlier! The only way Arthur would win this was by using mana to enhance his body. Though he had increased his mana reserves by constantly draining his mana to zero causing mana deprivation over the years, it was still a small amount as he was still a child. If he decided to use his mana it would be fully drained in a mere 10 seconds.
10 seconds, that's all he had.
He focused his mana into his legs and sprinted towards the troll. At this speed he was slightly faster than an average adult; one second, two seconds, he grabbed his remaining dagger and ran through the troll's legs slicing its Achilles tendon it fell to its knees roaring in pain. Three seconds, he ran in the direction his spear was and grabbed it with his right hand. Four seconds, Arthur then concentrated all his remaining mana into that arm and flung his spear at the troll with all his might!
The spear flew so fast he could barely follow it with his eyes, it was so fast it created a deafening whistle as it forced the air particles out of its way and plunged itself into the troll's neck.
“AAAAAAURRRRRRRHHHHHHHH!” Roared the troll in its deep voice that seemed to make the earth tremble.
‘Yes!’ Thought Arthur he watched his efforts pay off, with the spear lodged halfway through its thick neck the troll collapsed and its Hydrangea blue blood flowed from its mouth and neck wound.
His celebration was short-lived as he felt mana deprivation hit him, he tried to hobble towards Rose’s limp body but he immediately felt lethargic and fell on his stomach. As his eyes slowly began to close as he felt his consciousness slipping ‘No! Even if the chances are slim! I need to get Rose to a healer!’ he bit his tongue to shock his fatigue out of his system and gritted his teeth while struggling to his feet. He walked to Rose and kneeled down immediately checking for a pulse, he listened and… *ba-dump* She was alive! Barely though. “Why..? Why?! Why would you do that!? Even after I treated you so terribly!”
He slumped her onto his back, breathed in and out to prepare himself, and began sprinting towards the competition site. Blood filled his mouth with its sweet iron taste until it overflowed and began dripping down his chin. “It’ll be fine I’ll get you a healer!” He said this more to reassure himself as Rose was still unconscious.
“Why are we even here?” Asked one man.
“Listen, we are healers. And there are a lot of nobles here so we need to heal them if they get hurt!” Responded the other.
“Yeah but no one ever gets hurt in these competitions, it's mostly small prey like rabbits. The most dangerous animal they had last time was a bear and only elite hunters go for those.” Said a third healer.
“I know it's boring doing nothing but we still need-”
Before the second healer could finish they heard gasps and chattering outside their tent.
The first healer went to check what was happening but before he could he was pushed out of the way as a boy with blood streaming down his chin with a little girl on his back.
The boy yelled “Save her! Or I’ll have your head!” The three healers were shocked by the situation but then the boy suddenly collapsed face-first into the ground. The three healers immediately bring the two children to some empty beds and begin examining them; prioritizing the girl as the boy said. After examining the girl they immediately sent her to the emergency room.
“Young Master! Thank god you woke up! Do you know how worried I was?”
So loud… “Be quiet Amber, my head is ringing.”
“Forgive me, Young Master!” She bowed as she apologised. Wait what happened? Where am I? It seems to be my room… but wasn't I at-
Rose! “Amber! What happened to Rose!?”
She didn't answer, she just looked at me with an odd expression. “Is she alive?”
“Yes, Young Master.” I huge sense of relief flooded over me, nothing like I’ve ever felt before even in my past life. “Where is she?”
“With her mother, Young Master.”
‘You mean in that run-down shed?’ “How long was I asleep?!”
“You’ve been asleep for three weeks, Young Master.” What? Three weeks?!
I immediately jump out of my bed and start running; I didn't even change out of my sleeping clothes. “Wait! Young Master, you need to be examined by a doctor!” I didn't care, it didn't matter so I continued running.
Dreading the thought that Rose would be permanently impaired or worse in a coma I sprinted down the gravel road to where she was. I almost missed it as I turned the corner because of the searing pain from my cold bloody feet that were shredded by the gravel road; I felt mana fluctuations from inside the shed, meaning someone was using magic. Rose couldn't use magic so it must be someone else.
*BANG* I slammed open the front door panting from my exhausting run. What greeted me was a sleeping Rose and Elizabeth having finished casting magic. “What magic were you using?”
“W-What? I-I was just casting sleep magic because she was in pain.” She averted her gaze with an anxious look on her face as she stammered, she was probably lying. But, I didn't inquire anymore as she probably wouldn't have done anything to harm Rose.
I walk over to Rose who was sleeping ever so calmly on a pile of hay with a ragged cloth that was a sorry excuse for a blanket. I looked around the shed, it was run down and disgusting. I can regret all I want but that won't change the past. The only thing I can do is be better in the future.
I sit down next to Rose; Elizabeth watched with a face half fearful and half confused. I sat there for a while watching her breath in and out, each time causing ever so slight fluctuations in the air. This small, delicate child threw herself on death's door in place of me. Even my own relatives wouldn't do that, not in this life nor the last.
My past life, before the war wasn't bad as I never lacked the necessities, humanity reached the 23rd century and we lived in an age of abundance. Well, my parents seemed to think that because everything was provided it was okay to neglect me emotionally. I barely saw my father as he was always out partying or gambling. My mother worked at a reputable company but as she got more stressed she would take her frustration out on me. My brother, well, he's pretty similar to Alexander. Although at least he didn't try and have me assassinated multiple times.
I always wondered what a loving family would be like, I thought I had long since given up on that dream…
But, if this child truly loves me… Then she could finally show me what a ‘family’ is. Does it truly give you a sense of fulfilment? Does it really give you a warm fuzzy feeling in your chest when you are with them? Do their hugs feel warm and not cold? Does it give a sense of ease?
I looked down at Rose, I brush the hair that covered her face to the side. “I will never forget this debt.” I cradle the sleeping Rose in my arms and then walk towards Elizabeth. “Is there anything in regards to her health I should know?” I asked Elizabeth.
“R-Rose is paralysed from the hips down… The healers said she injured her lower spine beyond repair and that even the best healing magic couldn't help.” Elizabeth didn't face me but I could guess the expression she was making. “You must blame me for this… You are right, this is my fault, this is my responsibility and I must live with this regret.” She didn't answer but that was the only answer I needed.
“Follow me, you two will be moving into the south wing with me. I will make sure the servants know to treat you well. if they dare disrespect you, Inform me and I will deal with it.”
“Y-Young Master, your feet, they are bleeding.” She said in a tone that seemed to hold a tiny spec of concern. I continued walking, “Just call me Arthur.”
*rattle* *rattle* The carriage was passing through the bustling streets of the capital, Rose sat across from me, she was happier than usual and do you know why? Well, today is the day we go and pick up the wheelchair I ordered from the finest carpenter in the capital.
She was giddily fidgeting in her seat with a smile plastered on her face from one ear to the other. “Are you that happy?” I asked in a jokingly tone. “Of course Big Brother! For the past couple of weeks, you had to carry me around everywhere! With the new wheelchair you got me I’ll no longer be a burden to you!” I smiled at my adorable little sister “How caring, but you are far from a burden.” Because of Rose I’ve found that having a family that loves you is strangely comforting, I wonder if my past life could've been different if I had family that loved me this much. Do you think I could’ve been happy? Well, there's no gain in dwelling on the past, what matters is the present.
The carriage came to a stop and the coachman informed us of our arrival. “Well, let's go.”
Rose stretched out her arms as I leaned in and picked her up, she wrapped her arms around my neck as I carried her off the carriage. “I’m so excited Big Brother! I’ll finally be able to move on my own again!” “Yes yes, I know.”
The carpenter's workshop wasn't extravagant but you could tell it produced high-quality products because it gave off a strange aura of competency. “Master Arthur! I was waiting for you!” Yelled a large man with a bald head and a long beard while wearing a striking pair of goggles. “Yes, it's good to see you too Rodrick. Can I assume you’ve finished our project?” I asked expectantly while holding Rose who was getting increasingly more excited as we entered his workshop.
“Of course! And I must say the designs you gave me were simply incredible! How did you come up with those designs?!” Asked Rodrick expectantly, “Well, I don't really know, it just came to my head…“ Well, I just dumbed down some designs from my old world that residents in this world would be able to reproduce. “Fine, keep your secrets!” He said while maniacally laughing. “What a strange man…” Mumbled Rose, “I couldn’t agree more.” I replied with a small smile. Rose quickly covered her mouth a blushed in embarrassment, it seems she didn't mean to say that out loud. “A-Anyway! Is it true that Big Brother personally made my wheelchair?!”
“He did! And it's simply amazing little lass! There probably isn't a more comfortable wheelchair in the capital! It even has side compartments to store things! And we can't forget to mention the subtle suspension with wheels that can easily be used by the rider! And!-” “Ok! We get it!” I exclaimed. You see, if you don't stop him he will continue to ramble on and on. That's just how passionate he is about carpentry. “Just bring the thing out already.”
“Of course!” He replied. Rodrick immediately ran through a door at the back of his workshop and after a few seconds, he came sprinting out while pushing the newly made wheelchair. Its slight rattle could be heard until it came to a stop in front of us. “Amazing work yet again Rodrick.”
It was true, everything was tweaked to be perfectly comfortable. The seat itself was wooden and the padding had a perfect ratio of hardness and softness; it was also made of leather with a waterproof coating so that it could withstand rain. The wheels were easy to use for when Rose needed to move by herself! And the compartments on the sides were subtle and hard to notice even if you looked closely so that it didn't mess with the design.
“What do you think Rose?”
“I love it! Thank you so much Big Brother!” Rose then kissed me on the cheek to show her appreciation. So cute, how could I have been so blind before and ignored her?! I curse my past self for his blindness.
“I want to try it out! Put me down Brother!”
“Okay. okay.” Rose tightened her grip around my neck as I leaned over and placed her into the wheelchair which she then let go once she was safely on it. “Wow! It's so comfy!” She then spun herself in a circle to get used to moving it which was quite cute as she was constantly giggling from her over the top excitement.
I feel a bit sad that I won't have to carry her around anymore but this is better for her. “Okay, we’ve got what we’ve come for so we will take our leave now.” I pick Rose back up which prompted a “Wait! I want to ride it to the carriage!” No can do, I need to exploit the ability to carry you for a little bit longer!
I pass a bag full of gold coins to Rodrick as payment which he then exclaims “Master Arthur! This is twice as much as we agreed?!” “Take it as a tip for helping my sister. Also, load the wheelchair onto our second carriage as we are leaving.” “...Of course, I’ll get right to it!”
With a content smile on my face, I carry Rose back to our carriage and had the coachman take us back to the mansion.
I first met Arthur when he was around five years old, so it's been about five years now. He came to me to have a desk be built for his study. I usually get quite a lot of requests for such things but he particularly stood out because a five-year-old child travelled through the capital to commission something all by his lonesome.
At first, I thought to myself if his parents were in their right mind but after getting to know him I retracted that thought. From the first time I met Arthur till about two weeks ago I had never seen him smile nor did his eyes match his age. I always wondered what kind of life he’d lived for him to end up like that at five years old; he also always seemed to keep people at a distance. I worried his parents abused him but I never saw any proof of that so I could only speculate.
That was how he was up till two weeks ago. But now it seems he's found someone he can open up to and trust. It really warms my heart, like watching your child spread its wings and leave the coop, though my relationship with Arthur isn't so deep.
Seeing him smile like that today was something I thought I'd never see, I’d like to thank his sister for showing me that! Now I feel like I can finally put my all into starting on that commission for the imperial family. The crown prince's birthday is close and he's turning 12 and they want me to design the perfect study for him.
To Be Continued.