You could say that I had a taste of home at night, for the first time. It was no longer bland porridge and stale dried fish. I bought a fish on my way back from the port. We filled up a small table with food. Ying had to go battle the wyrm at night. A soldier couldn’t fight on an empty stomach, so I had to ensure she had enough to eat for the meal.
Ying claimed that she didn’t eat much, but I wasn’t convinced, because she ate bowl after bowl, albeit expressionlessly. Subsequently, we ended up eating virtually everything. I was done after two bowls, while Ying had half a chicken, half a fish, eggs and rice. Not to mention that she ate it all with a poker face. She didn’t give a reaction after she finished eating, either. She didn’t smile or show the satisfaction after a filling meal. I couldn’t tell if she was full or otherwise. However, we didn’t have anymore, so she must’ve been full, presumably.
“Thank you.” After finishing her meal, she stood up and gave me a small bow. She then went to one side.
I looked at Ying’s partially visible feet and asked, “Do you have to leave right away? Do you know the location for the battle? Also, I don’t think you should use those practically broken fishing boats to fight the wyrm.”
“I’ve always done this,” replied Ying, keeping it simple.
Ying went into the shrine and picked up a broadsword in front of the statue of god. She strapped it to her waist and then whipped her black hair. She took out a few hair rings from a drawer by her side. She did up her black hair that was akin to running water at the back, thereby revealing her white neck and small ears. She said, “I won’t be back tonight. I should be back by tomorrow morning. You’ll be at the shrine alone. Remember to close the doors so that you don’t catch a cold.”
“Do you really not need me to come?”
“Would there be any point in you coming?”
Ying left me speechless with her question. I stood up. In a serious tone, I responded, “All right. I shall wait for you here.”
“Mm. I’ll have to bother you to wash the dishes. There’s a well in the corner of the courtyard.” Ying pointed to a corner of the courtyard, and then went to the door with her broadsword.
We didn’t say anything else. Ying wore on her shoes, adjusted her hair and the broadsword at her waist. She then gently pulled the door shut. She left the room leaving behind just a faint scent. Nothing was out of the norm. She was heading to a battlefield, yet she didn’t look tense or unnerved. She was as calm as though she woke up to go and sweep the yard.
I carried the dishes to the well and struggled to grab a bucket of water. I washed the dishes, and then tidied them up. I sat at the edge of the courtyard and admired the ancient tree that was swaying in the wind. The shrine was lonely after nightfall. The shrubs around were comparable to sentries of the shrine. The last traces of the sun were still visible on the horizon. A breeze, different to the refreshing breeze in the day, blew the smell of the sea over. The ocean surrounded the island and provided it with sustenance.
I didn’t know how long it’d take for me to return. All I knew was Lucia and Nier were okay at the moment. In saying that, I didn’t know how they were doing. I started to feel concerned again. I hadn’t heard any news of them in three days, and I wasn’t sure if the rescue fleet would be able to save them in time.
I was hoping Ying would have good news for me. The wyrm attacked the rescue fleet, while Ying had gone to chase it down. I was confident she’d be able to bring the rescue fleet back. She was confident she could defeat the wyrm. If Nier and Lucia were safe, they’d come back with Ying.
Ying’s circumstance on the island weighed on my mind. The people of the village weren’t worthy of her loyalty. She protected the village, but she wasn’t shown any semblance of respect or trust. All they did was doubt her. She shouldn’t be wasting her loyalty and kindness on the island, but, being duty-bound, she helplessly couldn’t bear to leave the village. The only way to free her of her duty her was to slay the wyrm.
As long as the wyrm was live, there was bound to be a way to kill it. If possible, I want to help Ying kill the wyrm, relieving the village of its threat. Once she was freed of her shackles, she could see the outside world instead of a world with just a shrine and the island.
I stood up, headed inside and shut the door. Truthfully, the wind outside was getting somewhat cold.
I wondered if Ying had begun fighting the wyrm yet. I hadn’t seen the wyrm or how Ying looked when she fought. But nonetheless, her emotionless face was very reassuring when I was worried.
“Ying won’t fail,” I told myself.
Current time out on the ocean…
Vyvyan vigorously opened her eyes and shouted toward the sailor behind her, “Slow down!!”
Elizabeth lingered for a moment. After the order to slow down was given, she went up to Vyvyan’s side. Part of their white sail had been pulled down. The ship hastily reduced its speed. The sound of the waves around them instantly calmed down a fair bit. Elizabeth looked at the side of Vyvyan’s face. It was the first time Vyvyan wore a very tense expression. It was as though there was something lurking in the water that could attack them at any moment.
Elizabeth drew her sword and vigilantly watched her surroundings. However, there was nothing other than the waves crashing into the side of the ship.
Vyvyan quietly said, “There’s a fight. The power with my son is fighting with somebody. It appears that power has failed and is being pursued. Also, there should be a fleet close by. It seems it’s been destroyed. Did you send out other fleets?”
“That’s not our people, then. I feel that whatever is pursuing that power might put Lucia and Nier in danger. The two of them seem to have been dragged into the fighting. Let’s hurry over. Come to think of it… I feel that… I’m partly to blame.”
Confused, Elizabeth asked, “What’s it got to do with you? Haven’t you always been on this ship?”
Gaze ahead and tone serious, Vyvyan explained, “The creature the individual was fighting has absorbed my mana. The necklace I gave my son dropped into the water, and it absorbed my mana through the necklace. But it has detected me, as well. It appears it realises how frightening my power is. Luckily, the individual has been saved. Go full speed now. We should be able to rescue Lucia and Nier… No! No!! The individual has taken Lucia and Nier away. By the looks of it, the individual failed, because they tried to take Lucia and Nier away!!”
As they got closer, Vyvyan could sense more. A moment after, she opened her eyes: “There’s no need to worry now. It’s too late. It seems the individual planned to fight the creature, only to find Lucia and Nier. That resulted in their defeat; therefore, they had to abandon the ship and retreat to safety. The creature detected my power during their escape and fled. There’s nothing left on the battlefield now.”
“No, not nothing,” said Elizabeth
Elizabeth aggressively swung her hand. She picked up a fire torch with her left hand and threw it toward the sea, revealing a sea of glowing eyes staring at the ship. The fleet let out shrieks of terror.
“Come, soldiers. You may be sailors, but I believe you’re also brave soldiers who can fight on the frontlines. Valkyries, lead the charge together with me. For glory and for my son, take these…”
Before Elizabeth could finish, a flame froze the sky. A sudden explosion went off in the air. Elizabeth looked at the green eyes by the ship with a stupefied look. The entire body of water froze. A barrage of ice picks pierced the creatures below.
Vyvyan was airborne. With a wave of her hand, aerolites fell from the sky, smashing everything below to dust. Next, she gradually returned to the ground. The sea began to flow again as though nothing happened. She said, “Sorry, I felt that your ship might sink if so many of them attacked.”
Vyvyan patted Elizabeth’s shoulder. Elizabeth fired, “Busybody.”