Early morning the next day I wake up with a sore body. The fatigue from fighting yesterday is massive. Coupled with sleeping on a couch, the rest is not comfortable. I stand up and open the window to look outside.
There are a lot of tents around the mansion. Last night the villagers stayed around the mansion because of fear. The children are staying in the rooms of the mansion while the adults are outside. The guards are patrolling around the village to prevent any sneak attacks and burglaries.
Many villagers have waken up by now. They are moving their body around. I can see a lot of pots on top of bonfires too. Soup are being cooked for breakfast.
I look to the bed a distance away. Mary is still sleeping soundly. She has been sleeping since she hugged me until this morning. There is no problem with her health though. It’s just a bit worrying that she sleeps for so long.
Yuni is sleeping beside her. She has been fighting all day long and with her fatigues she collapsed on the chair beside the Mary’s bed last night. I moved her onto the bed to sleep with Mary. Since then they have been hugging each other all the time.
I replace the blanket to cover them again.
‘Fortunately, Mary loosened her grip last night. It’s too embarrassing to sleep together on the same bed. Hmm? I shouldn’t sleep in the same room too.’
I shake my head on the late thought. After washing my face, I go out of the room.
The hallway is silent. The kids in the rooms are still sleeping. Listening to my footsteps, I go to my room.
I open the door after some deliberation. There are five kids on top of the bed. Some of them are snoring. A young girl is sleeping on the chair beside the bed. After I pick up the fallen blanket, I put it on her.
Then I pick up my backpack beside the door. The bag was delivered by two guards last night. It’s quite heavy for them so they have to stop to rest a few times. I also pick up the MG3 laid beside it.
I go back to Mary’s room. When I reach the door, I hear a rustle inside. I wait a bit before I knock on the door.
“Wait a bit... Come in.”
“Pardon my intrusion.”
I enter the room and find Yuni who is currently tying her hair. She is sitting on the bed. I put down my bag to the side. I take out the empty mags.
“What are you doing?” (Yuni)
“Checking for damages. I don’t want to have any malfunction later on. Especially in emergency.” (Erwin)
I perform maintenance with my back to the bed. Yuni is sitting there, watching me. I take out weapons from storage and begin maintaining the weapons. The sounds of metal and plastic echo out.
“Where did they come from?” (Yuni)
Oh! Big mistake! What am I thinking when I took them out just now!?
“Err... It’s a magic trick!” (Erwin)
......That sounds wrong. Oh no... It is wrong!
I glance at Yuni. Yuni is staring with a starry eyes. Hmm? What?
“You can do magic? That’s awesome!” (Yuni)
“Show me some magic! Quick! I have been wanting to see magic but the mages are all chased out of this stupid country!” (Yuni)
I stare in amazement. Without care of her image, Yuni pumps her fist to the air and curses. She grumbles with a low voice for a while and then she turns back to me. Her eyes shine with curiosity. I smile bitterly.
Perhaps due to noises in the room, Mary finally wakes up. She rubs her eyes sleepily. After she looks around the room, she asks.
“This is... My room?” (Mary)
“Yes, it is. You have been sleeping for almost a day.” (Yuni)
Yuni giggles when she sees Mary’s disheveled hair and clothes. I drag my stare back to my bag but I can’t control my wandering mind. Then I suddenly think. Doesn’t Mary look much calmer now?
Yuni seems to forget about the magic thing.Yuni pulls Mary to her. She tidies up her clothes. She then gently brushes her hair and tidies it up as well.
“I see.... Ah! What happened yesterday? I remember something happened in the mansion. We ran out and then... And then...... Huh?” (Mary)
Yuni pats Mary’s head. She whispers near her ear.
“It’s okay. The bandits are gone. There is no more danger.” (Yuni)
“What happened with the bandits?” (Mary)
“We repelled them. They won’t be coming anytime soon. We will even go after them after this.” (Erwin)
I answer as Yuni didn’t know anything. Yuni was too tired so she slept with Mary while I talked with the guard captain, Roland and Harold. They are waiting for reports on casualties while discussing about it.
The total casualties on our side is quite high. Out of ninety people, five are dead, twenty heavily injured, most of the rest are lightly injured. The heavily injured ones might die anytime too. At best scenario, they will only be disabled.
However, compared with the amount of bandits killed, it is still much lower. Out of a hundred and fifty, around a hundred bandits died and another twenty captured. Over half of them are downed by the MG.
I am nearly out of bullets for the MG. Only a hundred rounds left. It will be hard to depend on it now for another large attack. I sigh at the thought that I have let Yuni wasted a lot of bullets.
If I have used it instead, I could kill them all with the spent rounds. Three hundreds and fifty bullets for another thirty to forty bandits are very inefficient. A lot of rounds missed their targets.
Then again... If I used it myself, the villagers will just stand there watching. There is no telling what would happen to Mary and the rest here in the mansion. If not for Yuni looking back at that time, I won’t know the sneak attack. Mary would have been taken away.
Then again, if I could repel the bandits faster, would the sneak attack succeeded? What if they pulled back the moment they thought the main offensive was repelled? Then the mansion won’t be attacked and Mary and Alishia will be safe.
However, what if they kept to plan and went for sneak attack?
I quickly shake my head and throw away the thought. Now I just need to prepare for rescue mission. The trackers have found where Alishia is brought to. In addition, the runaway bandits also converged there.
“Erwin, what are you doing?” (Mary)
Mary looks in puzzlement along with Yuni. I look back at them.
“I forget to tell you. We are assembling rescue team.” (Erwin)
“Who is captured?” (Mary)
“Alishia. They captured her in confusion. I.... can’t shoot them for fear of hitting her.” (Erwin)
“Eh!? Then I should go as well! I don’t remember anything but I must have let her get captured!” (Mary)
“No. You must stay here.” (Erwin)
“No. I will go!” (Mary)
“Er.... I will step outside for a while. I need to prepare as well.” (Yuni)
At unknown time Yuni has reached the door. She is peeking in from outside.
“Yuni! Should I go?” (Mary)
“No. She must stay!” (Erwin)
“I don’t know what happened here yesterday so I will leave it to you two to resolve it!” (Yuni)
With a swift movement, she slams the door shut. The gradually fading footsteps accompany our silence. I look back to Mary and she returns my stare.
“Tell me what happened yesterday.” (Mary)
“I can’t. Until I know exactly what happened and why, I can’t tell you.” (Erwin)
“....Why? What happened yesterday? Why can’t you tell me?” (Mary)
Mary looks at me with a pain-filled face. I struggle hard not to tell her. I look back at her eyes.
“It’s because there is a possibility of you having a PTSD. I am not a psychiatrist. If I unexpectedly trigger your trauma, it will be dangerous.” (Erwin)
“Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Caused by severely stressful event. It can also make you forget certain events in the past. I remember you said that you didn’t remember anything before you were twelve besides your sister, am I right?” (Erwin)
Mary stiffens up. A moment later she shudders terribly. She hugs her body tightly but the trembling doesn’t stop.
‘Oh shit! I shouldn’t have said that!’
I quickly rush over and hug her.
“It’s okay. Let it go. Listen to my heartbeat. Don’t think of anything.” (Erwin)
I gently pull her head. I specifically put her left ear on my chest. Left ear is more sensitive to tone and music while right ear is more sensitive to rapid sound like speech. That’s why I think I should put her left ear to listen to my heartbeat.
I will feel a lot calmer when I hear my parents’ heartbeat. It’s probably because I will feel that I am not alone. I have never tried it on someone else. This is also a test. Will she be calmer?
I take deep breaths to calm my heart. Slowing down my heartbeat, I listen silently. I gently pat Mary’s back in my tight embrace. Her tremble is also affecting me as I have a hard time standing.
I remember being called “Dad” at that time. It must have something to do with her father. Looking at her smiling face at that time, her father was a good person. There is little possibility of family abuse.
There are other possibilities. Her father left her for a long time and didn’t return. She got kidnapped and never meet her father again. Or... She saw her father’s death scene.
Alas, all I know is that she is living with her blood sister and her adopted parents.
I whisper “It’s okay.” again and again. Gradually, Mary calms down. Her tremble is slowing down over time. The whole time we are just hugging each other.
After a long while, I release her. I hold her cheek in my palms and look straight to her eyes.
“Forget it. It must have been a very painful experience. You shouldn’t try to remember it. You understand me right?” (Erwin)
Mary nods repeatedly with tears on her eyes. I wipe away her tears.
“Alright. Just forget it all. It’s no use to dwell in the past if it is too painful... It isn’t right either. Anyway, for now you don’t need to find out what happened in your past.” (Erwin)
“Mm. I will not try to remember.” (Mary)
“Good. When we have the time and the help we need, I will help you overcome the trauma.” (Erwin)
Mary nods cheerfully once again. I heave a relief sigh. Stretching my arm, I can hear cracking sounds from my stiff shoulders. I turn around to go back to my bag, only to experience another shock.
“Hehehe. Such a romantic couple. I am jealous.” (Yuni)
Yuni is peeking in from the door. A small bag, a quiver of arrows and a bow are placed by the door. She is wearing leather armors set which accentuates her slender figure.
“How... long have you been there?” (Erwin)
“Around fifteen minutes. I was gone for only ten minutes. You guys sure are not aware of the time. Hehehe.” (Yuni)
I look at the clock and sure enough it’s already been a long time. I didn’t realize it would take so long to calm her down. With a glance I can see Mary’s face is red to the tip of her ears.
“So, will she come along?” (Yuni)
“I will come along!”
“Oh, come on! Let her come. Quickly. Uncle Harold is gathering the team now.”
Yuni irritably interjects.
“Ugh. I give up. Mary, you must stay with Harold!” (Erwin)
After I load up my rifle and sidearm with their mags, I go out of the room. Ten minutes later Mary comes out with her uniform. A long wooden stick like those shaolin monk’s sticks is held in her hand.
Together with Yuni, we go to the meeting place.