Some sentence TLC by: dragon1412
And now, enjoy the prologue.
Wind containing the smell of blood blew violently.
This was a battlefield. More exactly, it was a corner of the battlefield. The fellow mercenary groups hired by both armies clashed and it was slightly before one of the armies collapsed.
It was the side that Figneria has been hired by, that lost.
The enemy ran after her allies who fled and her allies dispersed. When she noticed, there was no longer an ally around Figneria, but only several enemies chasing after her.
As she ran, she cut down the enemies one after another and at the place where there remained two enemies, Figneria finally stopped running away.
One of them was a tall man who wore leather armor and set up a double-edged axe. The other was a thin man who wore chain mail and held a spear.
Figneria lowered her head dodging the axe swung down sideways as if going against the wind. She kicked the ground, jumped into the tall man’s chest and sharply slashed at him with the short swords which she respectively held in both hands.
A short scream was raised. As his right hand and his abdomen, which was not covered with leather armor, was dyed with blood; the tall man staggered. Figneria took another step forward and slid the short swords’ blades into the tall man’s throat. The tall man coughed vomiting blood, rolled on the ground and stopped moving before long.
The man with the spear stood stock still in utter amazement. While he was at a loss on how to attack, his comrade was killed. It was no wonder.
Figneria did not overlook that chance. Originally, she was aiming for the tall man first in order to seal the attack of the man with the spear by using the tall man’s large build as a shield.
She shortened the interval in one breath. Figneria threw the short sword held in her left hand. As the man reflexively tried to knock down the short sword, he wielded his spear.
When the short sword let a hard metallic sound resound and fell on the ground, Figneria closed in upon the man.
Because the blade couldn’t go through the chain mail, she thrust the right hand’s short sword to the man’s face. With a *kahah!* sound, the man opened his eyes wide and fell down on his back.
Still grasping the short sword smeared with blood and fat, Figneria expressionlessly looked down at the men. When she confirmed that they were certainly dead, she picked up the other short sword and looked around.
The sky was dark as it was covered with dark gray thick clouds. The ground was filled with dozens of corpses. Equipment only for mercenaries were scattered around; and if there were corpses wearing leather armor, there were also corpses wearing armor and helmets.
“──What an awful battle.”
Being addressed to by a voice from the side, Figneria reflexively jumped back from there while wielding her short swords. When looking at the direction of the voice, one man stood there.
He was around 30. He had a medium build and held a sword in his hand. The armor which he wore was dirty with blood and mud. The white scar on his left cheek was conspicuous, but more than that, it was a man whose calm smile was unbecoming to a battlefield.
“From which side were you hired?”
While asking in a tone as if chatting with a friend, the man lowered his sword. It was to tell that he had no hostility. Figneria, not releasing her vigilance, gave a short reply while measuring by eye the distance to the man. The man leaked a sigh of relief.
“In that case, why don’t we escape together? This seems to be a lost battle.”
Figneria did not reply immediately and turned her gaze to the distance.
The two armies were fighting intensely. The sounds of roars, screams, iron clashing with iron and the sound of flesh being smashed were mixed; and great noise peculiar to a battlefield could be heard up to here.
As the man said, being pushed back was the side which hired Figneria.
When mercenaries of a defeated army were caught, being sold off to slave merchants was still good. In most cases, even such a trouble was spared and they were killed on the spot. Because Figneria was a woman, she would probably have a ghastlier experience.
Still away from the man, Figneria asked.
“Do you have other comrades?”
“Yes. I’ve already let the ones I found go ahead. I also came here just in case, but……”
The man revealed a wry face. Standing here was only Figneria. The man had no room to check the corpses one by one to see whether there were his comrades.
Figneria hesitated on whether she should trust the man. She has never belonged to any mercenary groups so far. Be it a gained battle or a lost battle, she has always left the battlefield alone.
Suddenly, the man turned his back and began to run. Although Figneria hasn’t yet given an answer, she started running led by the man’s movement.
One enemy cavalryman came chasing after Figneria and the man, but the two of them easily killed the cavalryman.
They then took his horse and left the battlefield.
The man’s name was Vissarion. He was the leader of a mercenary group called the “Silver Gale”.
“Leader, were you hanging around the battlefield to look for your subordinates?”
When Figneria looked at Vissarion with an amazed face, the mercenary group’s leader greatly nodded with a carefree smile.
“It’s my way of doing things. We’re not that many after all.”
Figneria was currently in the camp of the “Silver Gale”. After having succeeded in escaping from the battlefield with Vissarion, she stopped by as she was invited by him. She wanted to know the outcome of the battle, and there was also the need to discuss how they would share the horses which were the only spoils of war.
Although, if one were to ask whether they were able to speak immediately after arriving at the camp, then that was not the case.
It was a lost battle. The small camp was full of injured people. Groans which appeared from pain and wordless screams could be heard here and there.
Women were running about with bandages and wine bottles in hands between men who rounded their back and crouched down or lay down on overcoats spread on the ground.
—Also including those who aren’t combatants, they are about a little less than 30 people.
Figneria thought about such a thing while looking at the mercenaries who were receiving treatment. Although of small scale, in order to manage a mercenary group it seemed that necessary personnel were generally gathered.
The fact that women were in a mercenary group was not strange. This was because people doing cooking, laundry, sewing and going shopping in the town were necessary. There was a difference in deftness between a woman, whom housework was incorporated within her daily life as something natural, and a man to whom it wasn’t so.
Moreover, they also had the role as harlots. They kept company to hotheaded men; at times they took the role of listeners of their idle complaints or heroic tales, comforted them and they (men) could not be cheered up unless it was a woman.
When about half a koku had passed, the injured people’ treatment was almost over and the camp became calm, Figneria noticed multiple gazes turned towards her.
It was not the kind belonging to hostility. A woman mercenary was rare. In addition, Figneria’s attire was quite peculiar. She wore black clothes; a sleeveless coat and a skirt reaching up to her feet all coming together. The design of a falcon sewed on her clothes vividly stood out.
There was also the factor of Figneria herself attracting the attention. The curves of her refined body was to the extent that they could even be seen over her clothes, and sex appeal could also be felt from her long black hair which flowed as to cover her left eye.
Even when exposed to inquisitive eyes, Figneria remained composed as she did not move even one eyebrow. She was used to these sorts of stares. But, she only thought that if she was provoked in a strange way, she would hit them hard. Though her short swords were hung to the blue obi wounded around her waist, as expected she did not intend to unsheathe them suddenly.
However, the first person to call out to her was someone unexpected.
“Are you a mercenary?”
Being addressed with a child-like voice in which tension, excitement and expectation were mixed, Figneria looked there. She squinted her eyes showing a slight confusion.
Standing there were two children. So, it was natural that it was a child-like voice.
One was indeed a lively girl with silver hair and red eyes. She would be around 10. She wore plain hemp clothes and a short skirt, and she carried a sword on her back.
The other one was a tall girl whom tied her dull blond hair on the left side of her head. She looked to be two or three years older than the silver-haired girl. One wondered whether she was nervous as her expression was stiff. Her blue eyes were not turned towards Figneria, but towards the silver-haired girl.
“Elen. Shouldn’t you greet her first? Besides, it’s rude to not introduce yourself.”
To the blond-haired girl’s words, the silver-haired girl called Elen gave a small nod. She then straightened up her back and bowed her head when she once again stared straight at Figneria.
“Nice to meet you, visitor. I am Eleonora. The tall girl here is Limalisha. Errr…… Please to make your acquaintance.”
Figneria, unable to utter her voice at once, looked down at the two children with a bewildered expression. The girl called Limalisha aside, Eleonora ── Elen was clearly different. She was too young to be even in charge of odd jobs and it was also strange for her to carry a sword on her back.
“──Thank you for your politeness. I’m Figneria.”
After a short while, Figneria finally returned these words. Perhaps because she was encouraged by the fact that a reply was given, Elen brightened her pair of red pupils and greatly leaned forward.
“Figneria. You’re a mercenary, right? I’m currently an apprentice, but I’ll become a mercenary someday. Please, tell me a story. For example about a mercenary’s rules or how to fight and the like……”
Figneria was greatly perplexed as she was begged eagerly.
Until now, she had mercilessly knocked down men who had approached her with an ulterior motive and ignored those who turned looks of loathsomeness and contempt at her.
But, this was the first time that she was asked by a child. Unable to ignore it, yet not knowing what to talk about either, Figneria silently looked down at the two girls.
Speaking of Limalisha, she was looking at Elen with a half-amazed expression. It seemed that she didn’t intend to stop Elen unless she did something serious.
“Hey you two, don’t cause trouble for our guest.”
Figneria raised her head to the calm voice. Elen and Lim also looked there.
Vissarion was walking their way. In contrast with Figneria who was inwardly relieved, Elen sulked in displeasure.
“I didn’t cause her trouble. I just want to ask her about various things……”
“I see. Do it at the next opportunity. I have to talk with her about something important from now, you see. Lim, take her somewhere so that she doesn’t eavesdrop.”
While saying so to Limalisha ── Lim, Vissarion told Figneria with a hand gesture to go in the tent. The black-haired female mercenary lightly patted Elen’s head.
“See you next time.”
In that way, after having entered the tent without seeing Elen’s reaction, she slightly regretted having taken an action which wasn’t like her.
Negotiations in themselves were over immediately. They talked and decided on the matter of exchange the horses into money; Figneria received half the amount of the money and the horses themselves became Vissarion’s.
Then, the two of them proceeded with information exchange. They taught each other about things such as where a war looked like it would happen next time, or who were feudal lords giving a good pay. As they finished with that, Figneria suddenly asked Vissarion about what she was concerned about.
“That girl Eleonora, is she your daughter?”
“What are you asking all of a sudden?”
Vissarion stared at Figneria with an amazed face. Although the black-haired woman mercenary felt light irritation in his reaction, she explained about how Elen did not look like someone in charge of miscellaneous jobs and also about how she carried a sword on her back.
“I have never seen a mercenary group employing such a child as an apprentice.”
“Well, that’s right.”
Vissarion revealed a wry smile as he scratched his short black hair.
“She may not look like it, but Elen is a veteran. After all, she’s been here since ten years ago.”
According to Vissarion’s story, it seemed that he picked up Elen when she was a baby ten years ago. Since he hesitated to abandon her, he decided to raise her in the mercenary group.
“Since she has become aware of things around her, maybe it’s due to the fact that she has been surrounded by bad people. It’s isn’t like she can’t do miscellaneous jobs, but she’s just naturally a naughty brat who swing a sword around.”
Although he said naughty kid, there was certain affection for Elen in Vissarion’s voice. He was proud of being her foster parent, and there was no room to doubt the fact that he felt joy about it.
It was a story of when Figneria was 18 years old and Elen was 10 years old.