As the unknown army drew closer, Akira and Rodger were able to see the familiar flags of the border castle waving in the wind.
Everyone gave a sigh of relief. The small army marching towards them was friendly, the messenger must have been able to get in touch with one of the patrol squads.
When the allied army reached the fort, the commanding officer asked for an explanation of what happened, to which Rodger gave a quick explanation describing what happened.
With help from the medics of the rescue force, everyone injured was patched up and placed on wagons and horses, depending on their wounds severity.
A small portion of the troops from the border patrol were stationed at the outpost to fix the small fort, and while they were at it, they planned to add a few upgrades.
They would stay at the fort and keep watch in case another unread army tried to move through the area again.
The soldiers staying behind numbered far more than the original escort of the caravan. So there was no fear of them getting overrun.
The rest of the uninjured joined the small border patrol. Rodger, Akira, and the other survivors were positioned in the middle and the border patrol soldiers were stationed on the outside.
With the combined forces as an escort, the caravan of wagons began moving again towards the destination, the border castle.
Akira fell asleep on his horse while traveling, along with many of the soldiers who had fought through the night, including Rodger.
Their movement speed was slow due to the wagons being full of supplies and injured soldiers.
The enemy that had harassed them the day before did not attack the caravan or show themselves. Akira did not know if it was due to the larger forces guarding the wagons, or if they just didn't want to or couldn't attack for some reason.
The sun was setting when Akira rode through the gates of the castle along with the rest of the caravan and escort.
“Everyone, let’s get the supplies unloaded and the injured to the infirmary. The faster it’s done the faster we can eat some food and get some rest in our own beds,” commanded the patrol officer.
With everyone helping, they were able to swiftly unload, sort, and deliver the new supplies to their proper destinations, and send the wounded to the infirmary.
Alan the second in command walked over to Akira and Rodger when they had finished unloading a wagon.
“I was told to find you and bring you back as soon as I could. Your father wants you both to report to him in person, on what happened to you during the escort mission,” said Alan.
“Can’t he just listen to the report I already gave to the commander of the patrol unit?” whined Rodger.
“He wants to hear it directly from you. Now stop stalling and let's get going,” said the captain forcefully.
Both Akira, and Rodger followed behind Alan who was keeping an eye on them to make sure they didn't try to run off.
After a short walk, they reached Brutus's office and were forced to wait outside the doors as the guards informed the commander of their presence.
“Let them in,” Brutus commanded, his voice was loud enough to pass through the closed doors.
The doors opened and they were ushered in by Alan who immediately left the room after Akira and Rodger entered the room, closing the door behind them quietly.
“I'm relieved you made it back unharmed, Rodger,” said Brutus, while ignoring Akira.
“It was due to the soldiers under my command and the help from Akira that I was able to make it back. Unfortunately, some of them did not make it back,” replied Rodger solemnly.
“You’re alive and that's what matters most to me as your father. Did all the supplies get here undamaged or will we be forced to go back and buy something?” asked Brutus.
“There was no major damage to the wagons or the supplies, we were able to deliver everything to the castle successfully,” said Rodger proudly.
“Good, good. You did a fine job. Now give me a report on what happened, both while traveling and at the rest stop,” ordered Brutus.
Rodger explained in great detail how they had been attacked the day before while escorting the caravan, along with the results of the skirmishes.
He went into an even more heated explanation of how they had fought all types of undead and the unending waves that hadn't stopped until the sun had started to rise.
“Stop, I have heard enough. From what you have told me, it sounds like you have been truly tested in battle. I will have to find something larger for you to command, maybe one of the border patrol units.
It won't be official for some time but when it happens, you will also get promotion in rank, after the king approves it. You both can leave now. I have other business to take care of,” said Brutus, dismissing the two with a wave of his hand.
“Um father, what about Akira? He also helped a great deal during the siege. Without his help there would have been far more casualties at the wall he was commanding, and a large portion of our supplies could have been lost,” asked Rodger, uncomfortable with all the praise and rewards being given only to him while standing next to Akira who had not been asked to talk.
“What about him? You were the commander were you not? Akira is just one soldier out of many under your command. Don't let the time you two spent growing up together cloud your judgment. Now leave. I'm busy,” said Brutus, whose voice had become sharper while he stared coldly at Akira daring him to object.
The two left the room together. When they had walked out of the command wing of the castle. Rodger spoke up, trying to console Akira.
“Akira, I'm sorry for father’s attitude. It's not that he hates you that he is tough on you. At least I don't think he does. He just has high standards. Anyway, don't worry about it too much. Everyone knows that you were a great help and part of the reason we were able to survive the night. I'm sure if you keep at it, you will be able to get promoted soon.”
With those words, Rodger separated from Akira and walked down a hallway leading to the officers’ rooms.
After Akira took his armor off and placed it back in the armory, he continued to walk down the hallway that led to the dorms of the common enlisted soldiers. He looked out a window as he passed by. It was now dark outside. The moon was shining, lighting up the castle grounds outside.
“A few more days and it will be a full moon,” Akira muttered to himself.
The full moon was a big help whenever he was on guard duty at night as he could see better than just with a torch and it freed him from having to hold the torch. That’s only if the clouds didn't cover it.
He finally reached the door to his room and stopped, puzzled. The torches in the hallway were not lit and the door to his room was slightly open, meaning someone had gone into his room during the time he had been away.
He pushed the door open and tried to see if anyone was inside. As it was a small room with no window, it was quite dark and he could not see anything.
He felt the hair on his neck rise. Something was off but he didn't know what it was.
Akira silently used his right hand to unsheathe his dagger on his hip, before cautiously entering the room with the dagger held at the ready in front of him.
As soon as he stepped through the door, the sound of a crossbow firing could be heard. The crossbow bolt flew past his face, cutting his left cheek and thudded into the wall behind him.
Akira ignored the searing pain of his cheek and focused on the sound of metal being unsheathed from his right.
Light footsteps could be heard running towards him, quickly covering the short distance. Out of the darkness, someone clothed in black baggy clothing jumped at him, wielding two long daggers.
Akira was able to dodge the attack of the first dagger aimed at his head while blocking the second with his own.
He shifted his weight and kicked the assassin with his left foot, catching him in the gut and pushing him away.
The assassin skillfully rolled on the ground and stood back up with the momentum and again charged at Akira with both daggers swinging crazily, trying to stab or slice him.
“Why are you attacking me?” asked Akira. There was only silence from the assassin.
Akira was forced to dodge or block the attacks, he only received a few small cuts, but the ferocity of attacks made it so he had to focus on defense and was unable to counterattack.
He tried to kick the assassin away, but his leg was stopped by the assassin’s own leg, blocking the kick.
While Akira was still unsteady from the failed kick, the assassin lunged forward, attacking Akira with a flurry of swipes, which were all blocked by Akira.
Then it happened. The assassin skillfully used both of his daggers to wrench the dagger out of Akira's hand and sent it clattering and skidding across the floor. Akira was now weaponless.
Time slowed as Akira watched the two daggers aimed at his neck, thirsting to slice it open, they slowly descended while he tried to get out of their reach.
The daggers stopped moving as there were multiple thud sounds, followed by the assassin being thrown backward by the force of whatever had hit him.
The assassin lay lifeless on the ground, with blood flowing out of his pierced body.
Akira whirled around and then crouched down, looking into the hallway for the new attacker.
Nothing happened, the hallway just outside his door was empty. He decided to try to look out the door but before he could, a cold projectile flew past his face and sank into the door.
Akira pulled back his head and hid in the corner of the room next to the door.
He looked at the projectile that had sunk into the door, it looked like it was some sort of icicle. It was quickly melting away.
From what little he could see in the room, there were three or four such projectiles in the assassin’s body and head.
Akira quietly waited, listened intently for any sound outside the door, for any sign whether or not the new attacker was moving closer.
He waited for over a half hour but there was nothing. The cut on his face had stopped bleeding a while ago, but it still stung.
Slowly he inched his way to the door so he could peek out into what he hoped was the empty hallway.
Nothing happened as he peeked through the doorway, he took a quick look down both hallways and found they were both empty.
Akira decided the best thing to do was inform Brutus of the assassination attempt, and to have the assassin that was lying dead on the floor of his room taken care of.
He quickly ran towards the commander's office. He startled the guards with his appearance of smeared dry blood all over his face and shirt.
“I must speak with the commander! An assassin tried to kill me in my room, but he is dead now,” Akira blurted out while catching his breath.
“Wait here a moment, I will inform the commander,” replied one of the guards.
Akira stood in the hallway under the gaze of the second guard until the first exited the room and held the door open for him, motioning for him to enter.
After he entered the office, the door was closed behind him quietly.
The commander stared at Akira’s face and then looked at the blood on his clothes, and the small wounds he had received from the assassin.
“What's this I hear about an assassin in your room?” asked the commander.
“After I left you earlier, I went to my room. Something felt off and when I entered I was nearly killed by a crossbow bolt and then an assassin with dual daggers attacked, someone from the hallway shot some type of projectiles at him, which killed him. I wasn't sure who it was, so I waited to see what they would do but it seems they escaped while I was waiting,” replied Akira.
“So the body will be in your room, so we can corroborate your claims?” Brutus asked Akira.
“Yes sir, I did not move the body and came here as fast as I could when the danger was gone. There is quite a lot of blood in the room now,” said Akira.
The commander looked at Alan and gave him a nod to which he nodded back and exited the room to go and investigate the scene of the crime.
Akira stood in front of the commander’s desk, neither of them talking for over ten minutes. Brutus just stared at him the whole time, until Alan returned after his inspection.
Alan walked up to the commander, bent over and whispered a few sentences into his ear. When he was done, he stood straight and walked out of the room again.
Brutus stood up and said, “By the power given to me by king Titus, I hereby arrest you for luring a soldier into your room and murdering him.”
“What are you talking about! I told you, he is the one that tried to kill me. I didn't even kill him myself. Someone else did,” shouted Akira.
The doors slammed open behind him and the two guards and Alan entered the room with their weapons drawn.
“You will stay in the brig until you are tried for your crime of murder. Your crime, should you be found guilty, is punishable by death. Guards, take him away,” commanded Brutus coldly.
Alan placed iron shackles onto Akira's arms and then shoved him towards the two guards, who grabbed his arms and half dragged the stunned Akira out of the office.
After a few minutes of walking, they reached the brig. One of the guards unlocked the shackles binding his hands and feet and without another word, he was thrown into the brig.
The iron door slammed shut behind him. There was a loud click as the key turned, locking the door.
Akira was left alone in silence to await his trial.
Thanks for reading.