The Paladin Order Reformed Chapter 25: Restoring
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After Jake's departure, months went by in a blur. I spent that fighting, alone. I used "guerrilla" tactics as Sir Richard called them. Fighting at night, striking from the shadows, entire platoons of demons would fall one by one. When dawn came, I was long departed, and all they would find were undisturbed camps filled with corpses.
I never got much sleep during those months, every time my eyes would close I would see their faces. Most the time it was Rachel's face contorted with a desperate plea on the edge of her lips, but never speaking it. That would be a small blessing, to hear their voices one last time, but the only sound I hear during those nightmares are the screams of those I've killed.
I always wake up drenched in a cold sweat. My own voice always wakes me, asking for forgiveness me or me begging them to come back. I've moved my camp to a secluded spot of the woods where my torment cant bother anyone but me.
I spend almost every day alone, I hardly spend time in the company of others if it's not mandatory. It's not from lack of effort from them, there have been quite a few people that have tried to approach me, but they're always rebuffed by my insolent demeanor. It's not their fault, I just can't talk to others without thinking about them, the only time I feel somewhat at peace is when I'm alone.
It hurts to think about them, I miss them so much. There's not a moment that goes by that I don't regret what I've done or haven't done. Life's a lot harder than I thought It was, I thought that dealing with a loss would be easier, but thankfully I have my wisp to keep me company.
Up until now, I've only used it for information or some other application, but now I find that its the only friend I can speak with. Which would be weird since it doesn't speak, but I've come to appreciate that. It has its own personality, I've learned that it turns different shades at different responses. It flickers and moves in certain ways that display some amount of cognizance.
I can even feel pulses of emotion from it, it's vague and you only really realize it when you're looking for it, but it gives little waves of warmth and affection. I never really realized any of this before because I never really focused on the wisp, just its abilities. I forgot that its a living being, that has emotions and feelings.
If I didn't have this little guy, then I would probably lose the ability to speak, or the desire to. It's been a small kindness in a pool of despair.
I watched as the pink orb of light hovered around me excitedly as I sit in a branch of a tall tree, "I haven't named you yet, have I?" I said aloud. What should I name it? I thought for a few seconds then said. "Shadow." It does follow me like one, but that's too dark for it. It dimmed, I imagine that meant no. Its pink shade is more feminine than that, but what could its name be?
I think for a long while thinking of synonyms, finally, I come up with a satisfactory answer. Smiling, I looked at the pink orb floating expectantly in front of me and said.
"Shade, how about that? You're like a little shade in the blazing dunes of an endless desert giving me a small bit of relief. How's that, do you like it?"
The little orb whisked around the tree I sat in, glowing brighter. I tried stopping it, asking. "So I assume you like it?" A burst of warmth entered my body, confirming my query. This made me smile, grateful to be able to make the small orb happy.
I heard a quivering voice from under me. "kn..Knight Christian, Lt. May need to brief you. Could you please visit his tent, if you wouldn't mind?"
Retracting Shade I dropped off the branch, using [Gale Dampen] to slow my descent. I land soundlessly in front of a shaking private. He looks at me, trying to hide his fear. Over the past few months, I've gotten a...reputation. My handy work and my elusiveness have earned me the name "Crimson Shadow", I don't care too much for the name. I would much rather have something like "Brave Heart." or "Burning Fire Fighter", or something less rouge-like. But I guess my actions have been anything but brave.
"Is this about a squad assignment again?" I ask irritably
The private shakes his head quickly explaining. "No, no, not that. He just has a mission that he wants you to take part in, you don't have to lead anyone."
"Fine," I say gruffly and walk past the private towards the main camp.
Most soldiers don't know, but I usually watch any raids that take place. It's a way to atone for what I've done, or so I tell myself. I watch in the shadows with a cloak and discreetly take out any demons that threaten the members. I....I just don't want what happened to me to happen to others.
I pass through the canvas doors and look at Lt. May expectantly, he acknowledges my presence and explains.
"There's a small fortified town to the south that's housing a force of beast-men. I want you to discreetly take out their leaders as the other squads fight the main garrison. Can I count on you?"
I sneered at him. "I've never failed you yet, have I?" He looked down at his papers saying. "You have, just not me."
Before he could react, my mithril dagger was set dangerously close to his throat. He had to look up to avoid drawing blood. I spat in a harsh voice. "Watch your tongue before you lose it, "Commander," I emphasized with disdain. My reaction was extreme, but he knew better than to jest with such a subject.
He pushed my dagger back with his finger, going back to his papers. "If you didn't do such an excellent job, I would have you hanging from a tree for insubordination. You better do a good job, I'll be inspecting the town once you're done."
I sheath my dagger and walk out wordlessly, I'll get this done easily, then I don't have to speak to anyone for a while. I walk back to my secluded encampment and collect my belongings, I always carry everything on me when I go on missions. In case I have to pursue anyone that tries to escape. I look down at my mandola, the only thing that I usually leave. I pick it up and store it, maybe I'll be able to play it again.
Playing it after what happened is too painful, but maybe I can play it to Shade without trouble, maybe. I stash my equipment in the forest to the east and approach the town. Its a fairly large town with weathered walls that line the town's edges. There are roughly 50 buildings, with a central building protruding from the middle of the town. That would be my target.
I use [Enhanced Vision] to better inspect their defenses. There are men scattered on top of the wall patroling it, all of them are beast-men. "That's going to be a problem." I think. Beast-men have enhanced vision and senses, so I'll have to prepare accordingly in order to infiltrate it undetected.
I cast [Light Refraction], [Silent Step], [Erace Presence], and [Sent Dampen], which just scatters my sent with a little wind magic. My sent is still there, but it's so spread out that it's not really noticeable, even to beast-men.
I carefully make my way to the edge of the wall, I'm forced to dispel [Light Refraction] since I'll be touching the wall to climb it. I quickly cast [Shroud of Darkness] to replace it, the sun is close to setting, so I can use the darkness to blend in with the shadows cast on the wall. Casting [Enhance Friction] on my hands and feet, I climb silently up the coarse wall.
I silently climb up, and wait just under the lip of the edge, waiting for the footsteps and voices to fade. When I'm satisfied they're gone, I grab onto the ledge and use my own momentum to swing myself up.
There's no one at the moment, but the next patrol will be able to see me soon so I dropped down from the wall using [Gale Dampen] and faded into the shadows. I met no resistance as I snuck to the central building.
I executed any opposition inside the building and the leaders were soon to follow. I left the building with more corpses in my wake, and probably more voices to add to my dreams. I moved from place to place cloaked, killing anyone that tried to rally a resistance, keeping everyone in chaos. Eventually, the town fell to us, all I had to do was wait for Lt. May and I could leave.
I walked towards the central gate to wait for Lt. May, but as I got closer I heard yelling voices. Something was happening outside, I cloaked myself and went to see what the commotion was about. The outside of the gate was riddled with corpses, human corpses, our soldiers.
I heard yelling and screams, there was a group of soldiers encircled around something just outside the main gate. I got closer and saw what they were surrounding. I stopped in my tracks and stood there in shock. In the middle of the group was a wolf-girl.
She had stark white hair, the same color as fresh powdered snow on the unreachable peaks of the northern mountains. Her white ears were perked in anticipation, listening, for an approach from any side. Restless, her snow-white tail rustled unconsciously, her glacier blue eyes shown brightly like the reflection of ice melting from the dawning sun of an infant spring. She was the most beautiful girl I've ever seen.
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