Passage Chapter 13

Tin Man

“Well, I wouldn’t say it’s been a real picnic, but it definitely doesn’t hurt as much as I thought it would,” Richard, who was sitting up in bed, told Wilhelm. “I thought by now that I’d be in a lot of pain, or...just not as lucky. Ha ha.”

“Yeah,” Wilhelm said, looking contemplative. “I thought the same. But, uh...there’s a very good reason for that from what I’ve heard.”

Seeing the man’s expression, Richard deduced that the reason was not so simple. “Are you saying Dr. Silva isn’t...?”

“Oh, she definitely took care of you. But something else happened back in the throne room before we brought you here. And...if I remember correctly, something similar happened with that bangin’ bodyguard.”

“Huh?” Richard was confused for a moment, but managed to put two and two together. “Oh. You mean when that girl, Lyon, was stabbed? I heard that the Dawn Rune healed her.” His face became full of shock as it hit him. “Are you saying that’s what happened to me? But the rune was in possession of...”

The man nodded, his grin spreading. “That’s right. Her Majesty the Queen.”

“Ah...” The teenager felt his face grow warm, and he lowered his head. “That’s twice I owe her.”

“What do you mean?”

Richard recapped the event of fighting the final assassin, who had taken the Raging Nostrum. He watched Wilhelm’s expression change as he explained how Lymsleia struck down the assassin with the power of the Dawn Rune. “I was surprised to see the rune,” Richard continued. “I was sure Her Majesty said the runes weren’t reacting to her.”

“Well, lucky for you, one of them did!” Wilhelm remarked.

Richard smiled. “You mean, lucky for the Lindwurm Mercenaries. What would you do without your Blademaster?”

“Heh, well, listen to you.” The older man raked a hand through his own scruffy hair, shaking his head. “Who would’ve thought you had an ego?”

Richard laughed in response at this, and soon, Wilhelm joined in.

“What’s so funny?” a familiar voice asked.

The two mercenaries turned as Miakis entered the room, followed by Kyle and Galleon.

“Oh, hello,” Richard greeted them politely. “And hello again, Lady Miakis. Glad to see you’re all okay.”

“Then it’s true!” called another familiar voice. The girl pushed past the knights and hurried to the teenager’s bedside. “You are awake. That’s good news.”

Richard stared at the girl, not recognizing her at first. Before he could inquire about her identity, it hit him. “Your Majesty? Is that you?”

“Of course it’s me! Don’t tell me you’ve--” Lymsleia stopped as she saw Miakis giving her a strange look. She then looked down, realizing Richard had every right to be confused. Instead of her royal robes and crown, she was dressed in black, an outfit suited more to a spy than to a queen. “Oh. Uh...I was in the middle of something when we got the good news.”

“Yeah, we were trying to teach her how to handle a sword,” Kyle said.

“Really?” asked Richard with genuine interest.

“I just want to be able to help once in a while,” Lymsleia quickly explained, somehow embarrassed that he now knew. “I still rely on the Queen’s Knights and the commander more than ever, but I’d also like to rely on my strength, too, instead of on some rune.”

Richard’s expression softened. “Well, it’s good to know the knights won’t be out of a job,” he said, lowering his head with a smile. “And speaking of runes, Your Majesty...I wanted to thank you for saving my life...twice.”

“Oh...” Lymsleia’s cheeks reddened. “It’’s no big deal. Anyone would’ve done the same if they had the rune. A-and besides, you’re forgetting that you saved my life a few times, too.”

“I haven’t forgotten. It was my duty, Your Majesty.”

Wilhelm snickered. “Listen to him. Two minutes ago, he was the Blademaster. Now he’s Mr. Modest in front of the ladies. Good thing Mueller ain’t here to set you straight, eh?”

“Where is he, anyway?” Galleon asked.

“He’ll be back,” Wilhelm replied. “He just went to tell the other mercenaries the news about Richard.”

“I’ll bet they’ll be glad to hear it,” Kyle said, then looked at the teenager. “I talked to a few of them, and they were really impressed with the way you handled things here. Sounds like a lot of them really look up to you.”

Wilhelm nodded. “They sure do. One of the best fighters in the Lindwurm Mercenaries turned Sacred Games participant turned Commander of the Queen’s Knights. The kid is going places; who can blame them?” He then turned to Richard with a mixed, though fully non-serious, expression. “Knock it off, would ya? The ladies are starting to take notice, and I can’t pick up any if they’re too busy drooling over you.”

Richard was blushing. “You make it sound as though I’m relentless. But that’s not true! Mueller’s the reason I even got this far.”

“Yeah, but Mueller didn’t force you to be a mercenary, a tournament fighter, or a commander. He just suggested those things. You made the decision to become all of that. I mean, hey, I know you’re grateful to the guy, but the truth is, you’re the one making all the effort.”

“Maybe,” the teenager replied, though he seemed reluctant to believe it. “I just believe in giving credit where it’s due.”

“And so do the rest of us,” Wilhelm said, and then turned to the knights. “What about you guys?”

“Of course!” Miakis exclaimed. “And Richard deserves most of the credit for ensuring Her Majesty’s safety!”

Kyle nodded. “I wouldn’t have minded seeing that fight. You must’ve been really pumped, man.”

“All I did was fulfill my oath,” Richard insisted. “Her Majesty was in danger, and it was my sworn duty to protect her. I have no regrets about the way things turned out, and...I’d do it all over again.”

Lymsleia’s eyes widened briefly at these words, but she said nothing, knowing he meant it only in its very basic context.

“So how do you feel?” Miakis asked.

“I’m fine, Miakis,” Richard told her. “I’m still physically exhausted, and my body aches a little, but I’ll live.”

“Exhausted?” Lymsleia asked, looking concerned. “Oh, maybe we should let you rest.”

“No, I meant...I won’t be picking up a sword for a few days. Otherwise, I’m okay.”

That’s when Miakis saw her chance. “In that case, how about telling us all about the fight?”

“Uh, Miakis...” Kyle started. “I’m pretty sure Richard isn’t in the mood to--”

“Sure!” Richard replied happily, immediately going into the tale. He began with the wounded guard staggering into the audience chamber, recounting the battles with vibrancy. Lymsleia made the occasional contribution, her voice the perfect complement to the young swordsman’s story.

* * * * *

Outside the door, out of plain view, the fully attentive Mueller stood. He had heard most of the conversation, and was now letting Richard’s tale sink in. Though he would never admit it to Richard or anyone else, he could not help but possess a sense of pride whenever it came to the teenage boy. It was different from what he felt for the rest of his soldiers, and not because Richard was better at his skill than most of them. Mueller equated this feeling with the sort of pride a father might have for his son, and it had only grown stronger through the years. Perhaps he would never reveal this to anyone, but there was certainly no hiding it from himself.

As Richard continued his tale animatedly, Mueller decided to return at a later time. “There’s no mistake,” he whispered as he quietly moved away. “No mistake at all.”

“You truly are worthy... Blademaster.”

Chapter 14

All That Glitters Is Cold 3 Fanfic Competition

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