Ascension – 3 Chapter 2: Friend or Foe 1

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(Author's note: Bonus Chapter! Forgot to mention this earlier but this series will be updated weekly on mondays (and whenever I feel like giving a bonus chapter hahah) )

(Also if things get confusing, don’t worry! Everything will get explained at some point (including the prologue 😉 )

 

Enjoy~

 

Chapter 2: Friend or Foe

 

Distant voices… The strong fragrance of wood… and *sniff* *sniff* is that sweat? This isn’t home, is it?

 

Opening up my eyes, I found myself in an unfamiliar place.

 

“Huh? What happened? Where the hell am I? Ughhhhhh… And why does my head hurt so much?”

 

I quizzed with hands clutching my forehead as it throbbed and spun in pain. Lying uncomfortably on what seemed to be a bed, I stared at the dull brown ceiling above me, trying hard to recall yesterday’s events.

 

What happened last night? All I remember was me running and trying to escape from the Empire’s troops… And then there was a fight. Fighting in an outnumbered engagement, the basic self-defence techniques that I picked up from my late uncle amounted to nothing. Did I die?

 

To check if I was truly dead, I pinched my left arm as hard as I could. I instantly regretted my decision.

 

“Ouchhhhhhh… Okay, I guess that answers the question on whether I was dead or not.”

 

However, that was just the tip of the iceberg as I had a hundred and one questions, but none to the answers of.

 

“Anyhow, I probably should figure out where exactly I am first.”

 

Rising up from my bed into an half-upright position, I quickly scanned my surroundings.

 

It was a small and dull brown room. Unfurnished wooden logs made up the walls, while the floors and the ceiling above instead were made with rough planks of wood haphazardly nailed together. As for furniture, there wasn’t much other than a long table tucked in the corner of the room and a shoddy desk next to the bed I was sleeping in. Two square windows embedded themselves into the wall that ran parallel to his bed, letting the warm natural light of the sun into an otherwise boring room.

 

Between the 2 windows was an odd looking door. It was a round door with a similarly round yellow knob protruding out of it and into the room. It was a brown hazel door with darker, chocolate-coloured streaks flowing vertically down the door, breathing life and texture to the door itself. The end result was an exotic-looking door that appeared no different from one that was cut-out directly from a tree.

 

I stared at it with my mouth open in wonder.

 

What a peculiar door! Even I’ve never seen a door quite like this back in Varich. Whoever made that door must be quite the carpenter, considering shaping raw wood while retaining its original texture and shape is incredibly difficult. Such a door would definitely fetch quite a hefty price in Varich!

 

“No! No! No! I’m getting distracted. I think I should go outside to get a better bearing of my locations.”

 

I slapped both of my cheeks, snapping me out of my inordinate admiration for the door. Putting energy into my aching core muscles, I attempted to get up with a jerk.

 

“Owwww!”

 

However, before I could do so, pain immediately assaulted my body, causing me to fall back flat onto the bed.

 

“Woah, woah. You haven’t fully recovered so you should take it easy there. Especially with that cut in your left side, it really did a number on you.”

 

A half-nude man with a toned body and bulging muscles walked in through the front door. Accompanying his bulky body was none other than a good-looking face.

 

He looks familiar… but where have I seen him before? Ah right, he was the angel I saw back then, moments before I thought I died. Looking at him closely now, he really does have an attractive face. A sharp chin, full lips and also a high forehead all encompassed within his broad face. Short blond hair flowed to the base of his neck coupled with his warm hearty smile, gave him a barbaric but also confident appearance.

 

However, that very same man had also walked into the room with a Monstrous looking axe!

 

Alarm bells started ringing in my head as panic overtook my body.

 

Is he a friend or a foe? Why is he carrying an axe into my room?! That hearty grin clearly doesn’t fit the situation right now, does it?!

 

Questions filled my mind once again as it tried to comprehend what was happening.

 

“Why do you look so frightened? That isn’t the way to treat your saviour after he had to single handedly fend off against an entire unit of Empire soldiers, is it?”

 

“W-who are you? A-and why are you here?”

 

Words fumbled out of my mouth as I desperately tried to understand what was happening. But with each thought, my body entered into yet another heightened state of panic.

 

“Oh right sorry. Name’s Valtan and I came over to check on how my little buddy here that I saved was doing. Judging from the looks of it, he seems to be doing pretty well.”

 

“W-who the hell comes and checks on a sickly person with an axe in hand!”

 

I retorted back at Valtan’s preposterous statement. I slowly pulled back towards the corner of my bed as I upped my guard, wary of Valtan’s next action.

 

Crack!

 

Wood splintered as Valtan dropped his axe, half embedding it into the table next to him. He then raised both of his hands in a surrendering position, frantically trying to explain himself to me.

 

“Woahhhh wait! I mean no harm. Look, if I wanted to kill you, don’t you think I would’ve done it while you were asleep? The fact that you’re still awake should tell you that I have no such intentions.”

 

With a wry grin on his face and a finger scratching his cheek cheekily, he continued.

 

“Moreover, I just came from training downstairs and was too lazy to put away old Marcy over here…”

 

The fear and panic that gripped me slowly released its hold as I heard Valtan’s explanation.

 

I guess that would make sense… but that doesn’t mean I should trust him completely. After all, we are living in a world where both life and death is a common occurrence. There was no reason for him to risk his life to save me back then. Neither does he have a reason to care for me now. Unless he has an ulterior motive… I guess I’ll play along for now…

 

Silence filled the room as I became deeply immersed in my thoughts. After a few minutes of pin-drop silence, I finally broke it as my heart and mind had managed to calm down to the point where I was able to formulate coherent sentences again.

 

“Okay, let’s say I take your word for now… Who are you? Where exactly am I? And What happened yesterday night? Why did the Empire attack my once peaceful hometown?!”

 

I wanted answers. Clueless and confused, I needed the information.

 

“Alright, I at least owe you that much of an explanation. Once again, my name’s Valtan and I’m the leaders of the ‘Harbingers’, the rebel organization that’s been running the rebellion from the shadows… or so it was until we got snitched on. Tch”

 

Clicking his tongue, his expression grew cloudy for a moment before returning back to normal and continuing.

 

“Well as for where we are, this is the hideout of the ‘Harbingers’. I brought you here after you fell unconscious when the Empire were hot on our heels. From there you slept like a log for 2 straight days, we thought you were never gonna wake up!”

 

Has it really been that long? The consequences of that night still affect me as much as if it were yesterday. The sharp pain that assailed my body earlier felt no different from the moment I got stabbed. Albeit for some reason, the details of what precisely occured still eludes me…

 

“And as for the last two questions…  well someone snitched on us and told them that we’d be nearby. The result of that is currently remains as your village.”

 

Valtan glanced to the side, avoiding eye contact with me, before leaking out a sigh and continuing in a deep but sincere tone.

 

“I’m terribly sorry for what transpired in your village. It was all my fault. Why did I have to drag so many innocent people into this mess that I created? To build better lives for the people of the Empire and yet I’ve only brought pain and destruction unto them. I’ll be really honest with you, I went headlong into the village the moment I caught wind of the attack, trying to save anyone and everyone that I could save. However, by the time I had arrived, everything was on fire. I was too late. I had almost broken down into tears, if not for restraining my emotions the moment I heard a loud bang and saw the figure of you dashing out of the burning house. With newfound hope, I instantly chased after your silhouette, wanting to check if you were fine. And before I knew it, you were surrounded by the Empire in the forest…”

 

Tears once again welled up in my eyes as intricate details of that fateful night slowly weaved its way into the gaps of my mind.

 

The burning house. The encounter with death. Those disgusting smirks. But most of all, the loss of Andromeda. I don’t understand why it just had to happen to her. Why couldn’t it be me instead? She was always there for me when I needed her most. Why was I not there for her when she needed me most?

 

I was furious at myself. At my uselessness and helplessness. I couldn’t do anything to protect her. Neither could I do anything to save her. And to think I had forgotten the most important thing that has ever occured in my life. I had no words for the rage, anger and disgust for myself.

 

But of course, it was only natural. For the body’s natural response to pain and searing loss was to forget it and lock it away in the deepest depths of the mind, never to be seen again. I understood that. After all, I’ve seen my uncle pass on before me, peacefully on his deathbed. But even then, it was no reason for me to accept it this way.

 

“Look kiddo, I don’t know what you’ve been through but don’t take it too hard on yourself. How about we get you something to eat? Surely you must be hungry since you haven’t eaten over the past two days.”

 

With teary eyes, I looked up at the face of Valtan with his hand extended towards me. His expression was as calm as the surface of a lake. Feeling comforted and finally at ease, I gripped onto his hand tightly, lifting myself up slowly from the rigid bed that I laid on. Overcoming the aching pain the plagued my entire body, I slowly hobbled towards the door, resting most of my weight on Valtan.

 

Written by: Emelia-Tan

Edited by: Schwarz13 and Mega14343

Proofread by: Yakult

 

(Author’s note: Bonus Chapter! Forgot to mention this earlier but this series will be updated weekly on mondays (and whenever I feel like giving a bonus chapter hahah) )

(Also if things get confusing, don’t worry! Everything will get explained at some point (including the prologue 😉 )

 

Enjoy~

Ascension - 2 Chapter 1: Humble Beginnings 2
Ascension - 4 Chapter 2: Friend or Foe 2