Arc Zero. Chapter 2, Departure
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I was researching and looking through the map and books to see what country I should go to. I also had various research papers just looking at countries' wealth, stability, and their relationships. “The Holy Kingdom...” I muttered to myself as I looked back through my notes regarding the economy and stability of their nation.

Currently, the nations in which I decided on were the Holy Kingdom of Astera and the Seaside County of Newport. Though since our current nation was at war with the Holy Kingdom of Astera, getting there might... prove difficult... Though it was also the nearest place I could safely go to. The Seaside County of Newport was much further away, but it was not the size of the other nations; it was a nation which held uncontested sea power and islands... and I held a deep distrust of water...

Looking around my shards I summoned to keep my company, eight appeared. One shard—only one... How did I only have one shard, that became 8? One lone shard saved me, before more and more shards came as those... stupid bandits died. At the end, 8 dark-black shards came to my side. 

Those were just bandits, could... Could my shards really stand up against true-soldiers and Magicians? I don’t even know much about these shards; for all I know, they were basically be arrows... 8 dark arrows.  

8 dark shards, like 8 dark stars... They circle, and move like a wave around me. “They look pretty at least.”  

Besides I looked at the sword present next to me... It wasn’t something special, just a steel-short sword... My current sword skills are next to non-existence, so... maybe I should at least learn how to use a sword in simple terms. 

“This...” It felt really demotivating... “Ugh—this is for the sake of Kou, so tragedy doesn't repeats itself.” I told myself. 

We still had the next two days to prepare until the draft would be sent forward, and at least two more day afterwards before any ruling was enforced. I planned to leave at the third day before the draft. Mostly to prepare strategic needs and people to ensure our escape. 

“I’ll ask him to help me train my sword skill.” I took my sword along with the small bag of gold with me...  

 

 

 

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“It’s me—Helmsmen.” I raised the Shinjii Noble emblem to him... A silver coin in a large towershield emblem.

In the clear darkness, Helmsmen nodded... “Leave, quickly!” Helmsmen motioned, as the gate opened. The driver went forward as the gate opened. 

The plan would follow with Helmsmen later following me in the dark. These guards here were not actually guards, but Helmsmen's soldiers. Helmsmen himself was an Imperial Guardsmen of the Empire.

An Imperial Guardsmen would without a doubt serve me great protection. Our basic plan once we made it out would be to have frontal guard, and a rear-guard. I was the only one who could stand as the rear guard with my limited ranged support and some way to fight back if anything gets close.

… well, it also helped that I could somehow see perfectly in the dark, like it was day... I suppose that was my one advantage in night combat, my perfect vision. 

We had the front covered by Helmsmen and Rudel – our driver – followed by me in the rear. Small bandit groups wouldn’t be a threat to us, with their level of skill, leaving Empire soldiers. In a skirmish, it would take us about a minute to fully stage our positions from the carriage, but even without our positions, we were in a small enough group that single, independent action wouldn’t be terrible. 

… well, all this would not matter if we never faced any threats... 

“Let’s hope such idea of having to fight don’t come to reality...” 

 

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“Current, er—two Magicians on the right clearing, and four horse rider with weapons coming from straight on.”  

I was placed on night watch as we camped... Upon seeing people from a distance with my night vision, I woke up Helmsmen and Rudel. Even if I don’t end up fighting, my night vision still made me a perfect night scout at the very least. 

“Sigh... Magicians... By the looks of it, we’re being tracked, probably from your sister’s Magic.” Rudel readied his sword on his left side. 

Magicians... complicate things... More so since they were Empire soldiers. At least Helmsmen was a knight, and Rudel was a mercenary. If it is footsoldiers, we could manage... At least if it’s just normal soldiers on horses. 

Magicians... If it's a group with cavaliers, chances are they are Attack Magicians, so we can rely on the fact that they do not have any Siege Class Bombardment Spells. More or less their main targets would be Kou. While Helmsmen and Rudel might be able to take on the Magicians, once their Magic get's tracked and pinned down, they won't stand a chance against Bombardment Magic.

Rudel and Helmsmen prepared themselves. Helmsmen threw a dagger to my feet, “Lady Tenshi, protect yourself and your sister; if needs come to be, either now or later, run, and have Lady Kou fight.” They quickly left to intercept the horse riders. 

… Seeing this, the enemy formation is loosely spread out... The 4 riders would likely be engaged by Helmsmen and Rudel, who can both take on the 4... this still left us with the 2 Magicians, who I couldn't take on... at least... 

“Ah...” Two medium sized Fireballs lit up as they formed, and started to slowly arc to Kou—what... Geezes—I can’t cast any Magic, nor could I do anything like... “Protect... Kou.” I looked around have—I no choice but to be a shield—? 

Eh...? 

Both the fireballs... exploded before coming anywhere near us... There wasn’t any Defensive Spells casted, or anything...? Kou couldn't even cast something like that, could—?

… This... looked to be a comfortable range I could engage with my shard arrows. I—eh?... All 8 of the shards came from above like they were already here, why...? Ah, well, regardless, “Go forth shards!” Upon my intent, the shards flew forth. 

Ga—?... Screams... even after killing those bandits, hearing screams and yelling of death still haunts me. Though 8 arrows is definitely not something most people can handle, especially since the 2 Magicians probably weren’t expecting quiet attacks like arrows. 

I order my shards to come back and—Eh...? Why... did 10 shards come to me?  

I took some time to think—what...? What were these shards...? 

From the distance beyond laid two... corpses. On the other side, or the other fight, they both already were engaged in combat. Though with two of the footmen down, it was clearly no contest—a clear victory for us. 

Thus six lives were taken... The three of us quickly regrouped. 

“Sensing there were no creators, you deflected the Magicians Lady Tenshi?”  

 “Yes, the Magicians were taken care of by my—…" Well, er—… what can I really say in a easy, simple to understand way...?  

“Those black-crystals things? Well, excellent performance either way.” Helmsmen shrugged in the dark as he cleaned his sword with a black cloth. “Apologizes Lady Tenshi, but, maintain the watch until morning. Your rest will have to be in the carriage.”  

Both Helmsmen and Rudel went back to rest in their small tent. “This... it’s fine—they need to be active for day light hours.” I told myself. 

 

 

 

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“Form!” The 10 shards instantly positioned themselves into... a guard stance, covering me from every direction. Of course, it was sparse—there were only 10 shards—but... These shards are less like arrows, and more like a summoned spirit. 

I was just practicing even more with the shards, I wanted to know the limits of them. At the very least, I wanted to know just how far my shards could go. I couldn’t know precisely, but I now knew my shards could go to at least 75 meters, and that they somehow multiply... somehow... 

That was the extent of my knowledge. I had no idea how they would react to Defensive Spells, or physical defenses. But... well, I already know how terrible one shard can be when I saw that shard defend me from those bandits. A single one of these black shard could easily render a normal person helpless, especially if struck more than once by a shard.

 

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My watch over, everyone, including the horses rested, it was time to leave... and it was time for me to sleep. 

I got in the carriage after Kou. "Apologizes for having you take the night watch Lady Tenshi, but we cannot risk anything; I hope you understand." Helmsmen closed the carriage door after telling me...

... sigh... "... I understand..."

I decided to sleep... Sorry Kou, I can't spend the day with you.

… … … 

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