The sound of something heavy pounding against the hull of the Blackhawk jolted me awake. My eyes shot open as fear and adrenaline began to course through my body. My hands quickly went to my holster before my mind processed my surroundings, a reflex that began to get conditioned in me after a few days of constant fights. The pistol had already left the holster, gripped in my right hand when I finally became aware I was sitting against the back seat of the crashed hawk.
Two thick rays of sun radiated through the cabin doors’ windows, illuminating the dirt floor beneath me. I was parked in the shaded back seat. I sighed in relief as I slowly wiggled myself out from the back and into the main cabin only. My heart, which threatened to burst a few minutes ago, had finally calmed a bit. I was about to open the cabin door when I felt my leg cramp up. “Crap.” I said as I tried to stretch it out. I bent down from the waist only to feel thousands of daggers stab me in my chest and ribs.
Then I recoiled and more muscles screamed in pain. Pain and fire racked my pain one after another as my body tried to curl itself up in protest. My skin screamed, my muscles burned and I felt my bones crackle with every twitch. I became awfully aware that my lungs were being stabbed with each deep breath I took, so I quickly tried to take shallow breaths until I found the point where I got enough air to breathe, but not at the cost of puncturing a lung – if I hadn’t already.
As if I was finally graced by God, I heard Healer’s voice. “Hey, kid! You in there?” Followed by another round of knocks that was similar to punching the door echoed through my prison. “Help!” I managed to whimper out a cry after a minute of trying not to die. I saw a small shadow block one of the thick rays of sunlight before the door began to rattle with a fierce thunder. I didn’t know if he could help me, but at the very least, misery loves company.
I heard several people curse on the other side of the door and several heavy steps on the hull before they managed to figure out the handle. Light poured into the cabin and left me blinded momentarily. I saw two dark figures jump in while I had dealt with the pain on the dirt. The two figures picked me up and gently handed me over to another group of people who waited at the top of the bird before the men quickly heaved themselves over the other side to take me from them. Afterward, they placed me gently on the dirt.
My hand was still clenched around the XM17 so one of the men pulled it from my grip gently as he could while they slowly undressed me. The moment my carrier and shirt came off, I heard horrified gasps. “O Goddess of fire, have mercy…” A woman said under her breath. If it looked as bad as it felt, I would have probably said the same thing…
I suddenly felt three thick fingers touch my belly and I gasped in pain as the touch felt like daggers. “Extensive bruising… All his ribs are cracked… Definitely internal injuries…” I heard Healer mutter to himself through the fog of pain and desire to die. As a child of a respected official in the higher up of the United States Government, I’ve never never had an injury that was worse than a sprain from my father’s attempt at to make me like my brother when I was younger. Otherwise, I was careful in every exercise, every outing. Hell, even cooking. I may have been a rebel, but only as rebellious as a kid in upper-class American can get short of drugs, crime, and partying.
Which accounted to just not following my father’s “desire” for me to join the military.
Back to almost slipping into the nether realm due to pain – The pain around Healer’s fingers died down slowly before something like the feeling of a wave of cool water gushed out from the point where his fingers touched me. I felt the bruises and my muscles simmer down until I couldn’t feel any pain. “It’s okay, I’m here for you kid.” I heard his voice like a beacon in the dark. Only my stomach began to feel normal after a couple of minutes until his fingers slowly slid up to the center of my chest and the feeling followed after him. This left my stomach feeling sore, but good.
Then the feeling gushed through my chest and I could feel bones popping up and my ability to take deeper breaths return with a vengeance as I suddenly shivered as I felt something crack and then push into place. “Easy kid.” Another man said. “Healer is the best Healer for hundreds of miles, it’s going to be okay…” His words were comforting but his tone betrayed what he was actually seeing. “Did those men do this to him or the Night Dread…?” The woman asked. “Hush, let Healer do his work, Agatha.” The man hushed her gently.
Eventually, Healer worked his way from head to toe on me, but I still ached here and there. However, I was able to open my eyes and stare into the noon sky. Healer then sat next to me as sweat glistened on his face as he sighed. “What happened to you, kid…?” His face was pale and his chest heaved like he had just run a marathon. “Didn’t you see the bodies?” I chuckled in a failed attempt to lighten the mood during this beautiful sunny day. “We saw all the bodies. These nice folks wanted to visit the kid who apparently fought off a small goblin raiding party.” He gestured with his head towards the others on the other side of me.
I rolled my head to my left. Three men and one woman sat with grim expressions hanging on their faces. I smiled weakly at them. “Hi.” I said while the woman looked at me almost as if she was unsure of what to say. “So, are you going to tell me what happened?” Healer spoke up again, this time, much more pissed off. “Y-Yeah…” I winced at his voice and turned to him. I explained the entire ordeal, or rather, as much as I could remember. Shutting the Blackhawk’s cabin door was in case another one of those “Night Dreads” around.
“No wonder you were in such bad shape!” One of the men said. I turned to him and saw a big grin on his face. He was a burly man, but not meat sack status. He had a nice stubble on his chin that he stroked while he nodded. “Night dreads are easy to deal with. They’re hunters of the night and they’re adept in illusion magic. However, the biggest downfall of illusion magic is if you know its an illusion it’s easy to break. Night dreads know they need to strike fast.” He said before his brown eyes locked onto me. “Was there more than one?”
“No.” I shook my head. “Then you’re lucky. Night Dreads are one of the natural monsters of the frontier. They hunt in pairs during the mating season, which we should be on the tail end of since summer nearly here. They’re quick and have a high regenerative ability. However, their drawbacks are that they can easily be wounded and they can’t heal themselves forever.” He said before looking behind him. I slowly sat up and cringed at the soreness I felt all over. Healer helped me stay up and helped me inch over to the belly of the hawk to lean against.
Behind the group was the dead night dread which laid in a half pulp state from having an orbital loot box land on its upper body. “I don’t know what you used to turn it into that, but yeah. You killed it, even if it was overkill.” The group laughed. “If you’re trying to kill a night dread, just cutting its head off will do.” The man finally turned back to me. “So what did you fight with?” He asked. I pointed to the pistol on the dirt floor. The blood had dried and was now a dull puke color. Its slide was stuck partially closed from blood and debris. It looked pitiful.
“Definitely looks like something from out of this world.” The man nodded. The words chilled the blood in my veins and we both locked eyes. I quickly pulled the tact-link up to pull out my new weapon but Healer gripped my arms from my side. “Hold it, kid! we’re not here to do anything to ya.” He said quickly as his vice-tight grip loosened slowly. My eyes that were wide with fear looked Healer in each eye before taking a deep breath through my nose and nodding. “I’m gonna release your arms now, okay?” I nodded at his words again.
Slowly and deliberately, his grip loosened. His fingers unwound from around my wrists and he held his palms up where I could see them as he moved back. “Here on the frontier, we don’t care -” The man who blatantly spoke up about my origins said. Though I hadn’t particularly said this was a different world, I wasn’t going to kid myself that earth had a frontier besides space and the deep sea. Monsters, magic, and swords – It only took two brain cells to figure all this out.
“Let me rephrase that. We do care, but what is even more important is not dying out here. Friends. Foes. Unknowns. All of these roam these lands and the more friends we have, the safer we are. So I had healer bring me today to talk with you.” He said.” I’m the High-Knight of the Third Order – Aeneas Canmore.”
. . . . . .
The afternoon sun beat down on the crash site while the sea offered a cool breeze as Agatha, Aeneas’ wife, roasted a freshly hunted deer. She and her husband was dressed in full leather armor, faded from years of use. Both of them were in their late thirties and well-respected knights. Agatha was lighter by a few fades, but it still showed that she was an active woman along with her husband. Both of them had matching salt-n-pepper hair and each had heroic facial features you would expect a knight to have. Now Agatha wasn’t “handsome”, but she had a different kind of beauty from the girls I’ve seen before. They actually suited each other very well.
“So… About your guess that I was from a different world.” I looked the knight in the eye as sternly as I could for a teen who looked like a child who put on his father’s clothes. “Ah, yes.” He said as he made himself comfortable on the dirt around the fire. I stayed sitting against the hull of the helicopter. “You wear strange clothing, use a strange weapon, and…” He pointed to the Blackhawk behind me. “A rift opened up on the night you showed up followed with pretty eye-catching lights afterward. We’re not stupid.” He chuckled. “I agree with his statement.” Lily’s voice came out over my headset.
I had lost the headset during my previous “episode”, but Healer got it back to me along with my sidearm. I thumbed the microphone angrily. Of course, they weren’t stupid, but I just hoped that I could fly under the radar. But alas, it was not meant to be. A kid can hope, right? “Don’t get me wrong, out here on the frontier, we need all the help we can get. You’re welcomed here so long as you’re not against us. We have enough trouble to deal with as you can see.” I nodded. I had already fought a band of goblins, a hitman crew, and a damn monster. I had only been here two days as it is and it was already FUBAR! “Well, since we’re going to be neighbors, care to fill me in on the details?”
Aeneas explained that he was with the Kingdom of Roeden, a medium sized nation with the sea on to its east and the Impassable Range to its north. He explained that the established lands stretched only close to 1,600 kilometers downward until it reached the sea then it was under a thousand kilometers to the west before they met another sea. The current issue plaguing the many kingdoms and empire was the growing population since there had not been a war in the last three hundred years. That was not to say that there hadn’t been a conflict, but nothing on the scale of millions of people dying over the course of a year in deadly battles.
This was something I was quite familiar with, but I highly doubted there was a sprawling metropolis that spanned half the country with the population pushing in the billions. These cities were the leading contributors to the resource wars back on my planet. “I’m guessing by what I’ve seen, you guys don’t have cities spanning over a hundred miles?” [A/N:(161 km)] The knight shook his head. “The biggest problem with the lack of space and resources is monsters and demons. A lot of monsters are powerful enough to rival the armies of most countries. There are plenty of large nests of Kobolds, Orcs, Goblins, and griffins that make take up a lot of land that we could otherwise expand into.
However, the issue is that a lot of these nests would take nearly an entire army to claim due to how established these nests were. Contracts for adventurers were handed up, but often than not, countries didn’t want to hand a bounty to move large amounts of Adventurers or the S-class fighters.” He took a bite of the meat his wife prepared.
“Then there was the Impassable Range. The prospect of untapped riches rather than land that was probably used up already was more enticing to leaders…”
He went on to explain that the Impassable Range spanned across the land like a natural barrier, with steep cliffs that grazed the passing clouds and very few passages through the mountains. This wasn’t including the few S-class monsters that had carved out their own domains within the range. The overall situation was just too much of a hassle to deal with until the recent tightening of the resource pool.
This wasn’t to say all monsters were hostile. There were plenty of monsters that were passive such as the Heavenly Dragon that lived to the south on the jagged peninsula in the Holy Empire. All this changed when the Kingdom of Roeden’s exploration team managed to talk with the Dragon who claimed one side of the range. Very few people knew about the details, including him, so he only kept it brief. The outcome of the deal was they could settle in the Dragon’s domain without fear of him attacking or any of the other S-classes harassing them so long as they did not cross into their domains.
This did not protect them from other Lesser monsters and Demons though, but the overall situation was good as most of the established settlements have been able to find good land to grow food and find good sized veins of gold, iron, and copper among other metals. The only issue was the fact they had to contend with the lesser hostiles and other kingdoms trying to steal their passage, leaving the Royal army stretched thin on the settlement side.
“So that leads us to where we are now.” The knight said as he pulled a leather pouch from his side where a sword hung, opened it, and put it to his mouth for a swig before replacing the lid and putting back at his side. “Where does the guild come in?” I asked. “Ah, yeah. That… Simple, just a guild official that got promoted and wanted to take advantage of his position to get richer. It’s not that uncommon, similar to corrupt government officials. As in such cases, it rarely gets dealt with so long they don’t cross lines. The issue here is that the branch leader has become increasingly bold as of recent.”
He shrugged as if it didn’t pertain to him, but his expression spoke a different story. “Knight Orders are different from the Royal Army.” He said before he stopped with a thoughtful look, probably in an attempt to find the best words. “Knight orders are the government’s version of adventurers, put together entirely for the purpose of protecting the settlements.”