For a few seconds my mind goes blank. Feeling the warmth around my waist, I unconsciously pat her hands with my left hand. My rifle is pointing downward.
“Rein-reinforcement! We have to go now!”
A sudden shout from a bandit pulls me back to reality. I raise my rifle once again. I aim at a bandit to my left and shoot him dead. However this act has prevent me from stopping the bandit from the right. He quickly gets behind me to the villagers.
Screams can be heard as the villagers run from that bandit. They scatter around the front yard. I try to turn around but Mary’s tight embrace prevent me to do it quickly.
“Damn it! Grab a few of them and we get the hell out of here!”
With a large swing of his sword, one of the engaged bandit breaks free from his fight. The guard who was clashing with him just a moment ago gets blown away. The bandit quickly help his other friends.
The previous stalemate suddenly breaks. The freed up bandits run towards the villagers behind me. Harold and his father are held back by four frenzied bandits. The other guards can’t hold them back and fainted.
I turn my rifle at them and open fire. Two bandits are killed while another slips to my back. Feeling that I won’t be able to stop them in time, I twist my torso and using both hands, I take Mary up into my chest.
At that time I discover that she has fallen asleep without care of the outside world. With a glance I see her happy innocent smile. Her delicate hands suddenly grip my shirt tightly. No sound can make her wake up.
I dare not wake her up now. Still holding on to Mary, I drop my rifle to the ground. Then I take out my sidearm and turn around. There are two bandits there. One of them is running towards me while the other chase the villagers.
I shoot the one coming at me in the head. His eyes open wide in disbelief. Moment later he falls. I change my aim to the other bandit.
The sudden gunfire stops all movement both from the villagers and the bandits. They all look over and watch as the bandit fell. The other bandit in the middle of chasing any hostage looks over as well. He is standing there dumbfounded. He is such an easy target right now but I can’t shoot. A lot of villagers are blocking my aim.
Noticing that I killed a bandit with ease, the nearby villagers start to run towards me. It is a lot harder to aim now. The bandit quickly recovers and runs with the crowd to me.
The panicked villagers seems to not hear my voice. Cries from children and women are drowning my voice. I aim my sidearm up and shoot.
The second gunfire doesn’t seem to have any effect. The villagers keep running towards me. The bandit quickly chase up to a girl and lift her up. She screams as her hand is separated from the person she is holding on to.
I stare dumbly as Nina screams. She charges at the bandit who is now holding Alishia hostage, only to have a sword being swung to her. Jenny follows closely behind her while being dragged. It looks like Nina subconsciously isn’t willing to let go of anyone including Alishia.
My heart skips a beat when I see it. I raise my sidearm but I can’t possibly shoot accurately at a fast swinging sword. I have to hold myself from shooting.
Harold shouts as he sees it. His concentration is split and a bandit takes advantages of it. A sword stabs to his chest. Harold quickly tries to parry it and the sword only manages to injure his thigh in the end.
Meanwhile, Jenny behind Nina trips on a stone while she is dragged by Nina and falls down. Her fall causes Nina to fall as well. The sword swung at her misses its target by just a few centimeter.
At that time the barricade at the gate is forcibly removed. The late reinforcement appears. They quickly try to charge at the bandits they see but are slowed by the panicked villagers.
The bandits on Harold’s side quickly run to the left wall. The one holding Alishia uses her as a shield. He quickly follows his friends. I stare at them while gripping my sidearm tightly.
I quickly chase after the bandits. When I run out of the crowd, half of the bandits have climbed up. Alishia who is struggling is hit on the back of her head. A bandit pulls her up the wall.
“Let her go!”
I shout while pointing my sidearm at them. I open fire at the bandit on top of the wall farther away from Alishia. From the remaining five bandits, I kill two more. The one holding Alishia quickly jumps down.
I shoot the other two bandits in the legs. They scream hoarsely while holding their legs. The guards run to us at this time. Harold is being helped by a young guard.
“Tie them up! Where is Alice?” (Harold)
“One of them escaped with her.” (Erwin)
“Okay. You, you and you, chase them.” (Harold)
Suddenly an elder come out from the crowd. His still fit body stands out among the elderly. He says.
“I was once a hunter. I can help them track!”
The three guards and one hunter quickly climb over the wall and go the swamp forest. Other guards tie up the two injured bandits. I sit down heavily on the ground. Mary is still gripping my shirt tightly so I can’t lay her down.
“How is she?” (Harold)
“No idea. She suddenly saw me as her father there.” (Erwin)
I gently pat Mary’s back. She squirms a little to find a comfortable position. All this little movements make her looks like a big kid. The guard supporting Harold has a strange look on his face.
“Well... Bring her into the house for now.” (Harold)
“Let me rest for a bit. I am tired. How about Alishia? She got taken away.” (Erwin)
“Don’t worry too much. That hunter is once the best hunter. If he is going, we can be assured she will be found.” (Harold)
“Okay then. I can’t help much with Mary like this.” (Erwin)
“The fight on the wall is about to end as well.” (Harold)
I look to the wall. There aren’t that many bandits on the wall now and they are forced into the corner by the mercenaries. A few ladders don’t even have any guards looking at them. Later I will find out that the mercenaries and villagers have broken the ladders with big stones.
Yuni is using her bow to kill the bandits outside the wall. The other archers also try to kill them as many as they can. Soon, there is no more arrow coming from the outside.
Roland the guard captain is mercilessly slaughtering the bandits on the wall. Many bandits jump down from the wall to evade his sword. There is one bandit who wanted to jump but eventually under Roland’s order, he becomes a hedgehog from arrows.
“Looks like we won.” (Erwin)
“Yeah. A fight of few against many and we won. It’s because of your help.” (Harold)
“I didn’t do much.” (Erwin)
“No. You and your weapons help a lot. It can directly change the tide of battle. Even Yuni can help a lot because of those weapons. Thank you.” (Harold)
“Err.. Okay. I will go back inside the house. Inform me if Alishia is back. If they can’t get her back, I will go rescue her.” (Erwin)
With a grunt I stand up slowly as to not wake Mary up. I walk to the mansion gently. Nina is taking care of Jenny who fell just now. All the villagers are busy. No one pay any attention to Mary and I.
In the forest.......
“This way. He has just gone through here.”
Four people are running in the forest with caution. They are evading the swamps which scatter around the forest. They are following a bandit who is carrying a girl on his shoulder.
“He turned here. Let’s go there.”
They slowly close the distance to the bandit. After a while, they hear the sounds of hoof. They get startled and quickly hide. The sounds of hoof gradually go away.
“No good! They are running on horse! Quickly!”
The four trackers quickly run following the tracks. Soon they see nine horses tied to trees. The horses calmly graze around.
“Stupid bandit. He left the horses. Quickly. We might still be able to catch him.”
A horse carrying two people, even if the other is a child, will be a little slower. They quickly climb onto the horses and chase the bandit. After turning a few times, they quickly hear the sound of hoofs in front.
The chase continues for a while. Soon the evening comes. The sun is slowly disappearing into the horizon. The four trackers manage to catch sight of the bandit.
“Oh no! Stop!”
The hunter suddenly pulls his horse to a stop. The three guards are a little slower but they manage to stop a little farther. The bandit quickly disappears from view. The guards are begrudgingly looking at the old hunter.
“Why are you stopping us?”
“There is a small fort in front. If he really goes there, we can’t win.”
“Yes. The only fort around here. It is said to be a storehouse for the army once. The bandits must have taken control of it!”
“Why can’t we win?”
“Foolish. It was once a storehouse so of course it will have a wall and barracks. It will heavily defended. If we go and there are a lot of bandits, we will die!”
“What should we do now?”
“We follow closely behind. Once we know where he went to exactly, we will decide what to do.”
“Okay. Let the way!”
Once again the four trackers ride their horses forward. This time they cautiously chase the bandit.
After a while they see a small fort. The wall and watchtower are manned by more than ten people. The track of the bandit leads inside the fort.
“Damn it. The fort is really taken. We can’t rescue her.”
“We should report to Sir Harold.”
“You go. The rest of us will scout around.”
“Understood. Be careful.”
One of the trackers rides his horse slowly as to not get discovered by the bandits. A long distance away he rides madly to the village.