17. Chapter 17
The first night had fallen in Aidenberg since the fall of Myard. Duwei’s squad was on a two-shift patrol mission, using an abandoned riverside hut as a camp.
Normally Walm was always with someone, but today he was smoking alone. Although it was an unlikely action on the battlefield, the city’s security recovered rapidly due to the thorough suppression during the day.
Moreover, it was strictly prohibited to go out at night, except for Highserk soldiers.
Walm threw into his mouth salted river fish that he had looted not long ago. It was extremely salty because it was originally something you put in a soup or desalted before eating. He wouldn’t have eaten it if his physical strength and mana hadn’t been exhausted.
To remove the saltiness of his mouth, Walm took out a flask and brought it to his mouth. Alcohol ran through the oral cavity and fell into his stomach at once. Exhaled lightly before looking up at the sky.
At night, the twin moons appeared in the sky as if they were chasing each other. If it was a half-moon or a full moon, it felt brighter than in Walm’s previous world. But tonight, it was a new moon, so the surroundings were dark.
Every time Walm saw the moon, it made him strongly aware that he was indeed, in a different world. With a cigarette in his mouth, Walm ignited it with fire-attribute magic. After he had learned it, he couldn’t return to the life of carrying a lighter.
Purple smoke slowly spread through the lungs. As soon as Walm exhaled, the smoke spread to the sky and disappeared.
As if the fierce fight during the day was a lie, the silence reigned at night. Walm didn’t hate talking to people, but he liked to spend time alone like this, from time to time.
Time to be alone could be considered a precious thing in military life. The other squad members could sometimes be alone if safety was assured.
Scratched the head and weakened the whole body. It was easy to see how the exhausted body was asking him to go to sleep.
Walm heard a noise.
Even though Walm was in a relaxed state, he would never miss a faint noise. The true nature of the sound came from a corner of the dock.
Ferries and fishing boats were used to completely pursue Ferrius remnants. And if someone was coming, it could be a person who, like Walm, wanted to enjoy their time alone, it could be someone trying to escape the city, or it could be a small animal like a cat ―― but that last one was unlikely.
In addition to the soldiers, many citizens also attempted to flee the city. Although those who fled early were tolerated, the Highserk Empire, which didn’t want any further population outflow, now restricted their movement.
No one answered. Perhaps the person was wondering if Walm would let them go, or thinking about what to do. But if no one was there, Walm would look like a fool.
Walm threw the cigarette to the ground and crushed it with his foot.
Most of the armor and equipment were in the hut. He wore only the hand protector with a longsword on his waist.
“I’ll say it again, just one more time. Who’s there?”
When Walm deliberately struck his sword, a figure emerged from the hut used for fishing.
“Doesn’t look like a Highserk soldier. You’re not allowed to go out at night. Didn’t you know it?”
Two humans made an appearance. Because they were in the dark, Walm could only see the outlines.
The old man and the girl apologized in a quivering voice.
I wonder what’s wrong, if they’re not malicious… is it okay to just give them a warning and turn them back?
―― Walm took a few steps closer and cast magic.
” <Torch> “
Walm averted his eyes from the light source and looked at the two. There stood a white-haired old man and a blond girl, who opened their eyes in surprise.
It looked like an old man and his granddaughter trying to escape from the city where rape and robbery were occurring.
The clothing was also common for the citizens, but something caught Walm’s attention
Sure the old man had wrinkles that matched his age, but the chest plate and shoulder width were broad, and one could see that he had trained his body, perhaps when he was young.
The girl’s hair was also dirty with soot, but her body odor was light. In addition, the nails and fingers were beautiful. Normally, your hands would be rough and dirty if you had worked in labor work. And there were no signs of sunburn.
“…Why, are you outside?”
“Because the city is dangerous, rape and plunder are everywhere. We thought of moving closer to our relatives.”
Walm’s intuition told him that they weren’t citizens. Perhaps the man was a high-ranking soldier, or a wealthy merchant, or… an aristocrat.
“Are you a soldier?”
“No, I’m not anymore. Sure, I was involved in battles decades ago. But now, I don’t even have a sword.”
The old man made an excuse to Walm in a frightened manner.
“For someone who had retired a long time ago, you still look quite trained. For someone about your age, it’s more natural to have a bent waist. And the lady there has pretty hands. Is she a sheltered girl or something? “
“Health was the only thing I had, my granddaughter was still too young when the parents died, so I took care of her so she wouldn’t have a hard time.”
Without denying or affirming, Walm looked at them silently. The color of the old man’s eyes changed as he took a step closer.
Seeing this reaction, Walm was sure that the old man must be quite skillful in his prime.
Weapons weren’t found in what they brought, but they could be taken from a magic bag, or they could be hidden somewhere. There were even warriors who could surpass weapons with their bare hands. One couldn’t be careless.
Walm hadn’t yet decided that they were aristocrats. And even if they were aristocrats, the main targets had already been arrested or killed. What would come out if Walm interfered with the one who wasn’t on the target list and who was just trying to escape?
The old man’s ability was also unknown. He showed the wisdom of pretending to be an amateur and looked like he didn’t mind pretending.
If Walm handled the old man badly, there was a danger that he’d only get himself into trouble.
Should I buy time while waiting for support?
―― Walm kept glaring for a few seconds, and then an untimely sound rang out. The source of the sound was the girl. To be precise, her stomach. She was hungry. You could say her stomach was very bold.
“Sorry, this is…”
The girl who turned her white face and blushed was so cute.
“Ku, Kuku, Ahaha!!”
When the two saw Walm laughing, they opened their eyes.
“Sorry, sorry, my bad. You’re so cute. If you’re too cute, and so well-groomed like that, you’ll be kidnapped by a poorly-behaved soldier you know. “If your house is safe”, go home. I’ll let it go this time.”
After bowing to Walm, they tried to disappear into the back alley,
Walm suddenly stopped them.
The two momentarily readied themselves. Walm returned to where he was smoking, and brought two things.
“I’m sorry I ate some of it, but you’re hungry, aren’t you? Take this to ease your hunger.”
Walm handed over salted river fish in a jar and dried beans in a pouch.
“Th-thank you very much.”
The girl received them in a confused manner. The old man looked at Walm because he couldn’t grasp the situation.
“It’s been a terrible day. I may sound like a hypocrite, but this is to alleviate some of my guilt. Feel free to accept it, there’s no poison in it.”
When Walm offered the jar and pouch, the girl reached out and received them. It was hidden in the hood, but the hair was tied up in the hood so that it could move easily, and it had a supple golden color like a wheat field. The pupil was reflected by the <Torch>, it was as golden as the hair.
Walm stared at the gentle smile everyone would receive. Though it was a short word and action, each one was pretty and he could see the high level of education she had received.
“Yeah… you’re welcome”
Walm left the place while lighting another cigarette. On his way back to where the squad was, he watched the river. Because of the low light conditions at night, it was extremely difficult to see the opposite bank. Still, in the dark night, he could see a boat crossing the river without using torches or magic.
“As expected, they can’t go home that easily huh?”
It might sound ridiculous that Walm, the invader, sympathized with the victims. He was the one who might have killed their family and neighbors. After all, it was a legal murder with an excuse called “war”. Moreover, his patriotism and love for his homeland were weak. He was someone who had devoted himself to the war while being swept away by the situation. He had no cause, pride, or any shit for his homeland.
“You think you’ll be forgiven, huh? You damn hypocrite.”
The destinations of those who had lost their livelihoods could be terribly harsh. And, Walm was still getting used to this world in both, good and bad ways.
But now, Walm was no longer confident that he wouldn’t lose the humanity and morality he had cultivated in the previous world.
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