The Song of Sword and Magic - Chapter 4
Chapter 4: The Swords in the Stones
[Translator — Asuka]
[Proofreader — Karane]
After a bumpy ride on horseback for two hours, they finally heard the sound of flowing water.
Fern jumped into the river and washed himself until the foul smell on his body disappeared. After taking out clean clothes from his leather bag and getting changed, where he finally felt refreshed again.
Somewhere nearby, Niss was seated on the grass as she nibbled at a pear, which was picked by Fern, and examined the magic cane in her hand. The originally transparent gemstone had become blue, and the orb that floated in the gemstone had disappeared as well. It seemed that the orb had integrated into the gemstone.
As she listened to the sound of the flowing water, she started spacing out, and the warm sunlight made her feel a little sleepy. In a dazed state, she seemed to have returned to the time when she was thirteen when her father entrusted her to a gray-bearded magician who came to visit. She could still remember vividly how sorrowful her father looked. Unwittingly, her eyes had welled up with tears, which then dripped on the magic cane.
Hearing the rustle of the grass, she immediately brushed away her tears. Fern was chewing on the stem of some snake-needle grass as he rubbed some herbs together in his hands. After taking a seat beside Niss, he fished out a worn out top from his leather bag and tore it apart. Then, he wrapped the herbs with the torn clothes and placed it on the wounds on his chest and left shoulder. Finally, he fixed the clothes by wrapping a long stem around his body. With a flushed face, Niss looked away, for she didn’t dare to look at him.
“Are you missing home?” Fern put on his coat and picked up a pear to eat.
Niss brushed off the traces of her tears and sniffled. “No. I’m still reeling from shock from the ordeal we experienced in the village.”
After taking a bite from the pear, Fern let out a breath and said, “To be honest, I regret accepting this task. I thought I would be battling humans, but it turned out—”
“You can’t back down now! We’ve signed a contract. You don’t want to be seen as untrustworthy, do you? I know mercenaries depend on their credibility for their survival.” Niss looked anxiously at him as she was worried that he would break the contract.
Fern giggled. “I wouldn’t be injured for nothing. At least I’ll get my reward first.”
Niss smiled as well. “It’s said that money is everything for mercenaries. It seems that it’s true.”
“Maybe. You’ll understand it one day.” Fern snorted and continued nibbling at his pear.
Niss tilted her head to look at him and pressed her lips together. “But, I think you’re different from the mercenaries I’ve heard about. You’re pretty friendly.”
Fern stopped taking another bite and gulped the crushed pear down to his stomach. “Most of the time, people are not what they appear to be, so you have to have your own judgment.”
“Are you saying that you’re a bad person?” Niss gazed at him in puzzlement. “Would a bad person remind others to be wary of him?”
“It’s not something you would easily understand.” Fern hurled the pear’s core into the river, causing a splash, which reminded him of something. “Why was I able to easily kill the zombie with my sword but not with my dagger?”
Niss turned to him in shock and thought of something. “Really? You mean the battle just now?” She shifted her attention to his sword. “Can I have a look at your sword?”
“Sure.” Fern untied his sword and passed it to her.
Niss calmly examined the sheath and slowly drew out the sword. It was a rather huge sword for Niss, so she couldn’t even lift it. As she tried to recall what she had learned from the books in the Magician’s Tower library, she suddenly thought of something and said, “Could this be… No way! How did you get this?”
Certainly, Fern knew that it was a rare sword, but he just thought that it was just made by a famous swordsmith or something. “Will you believe me if I say that Rodd gave it to me? Well, if we don’t take into consideration the fact that he also took my sword.”
Niss appeared to be puzzled. “From what I’ve read about the Hundred Years War, there are these three legendary swords. At that time, there were only a handful of people who knew magic. So, a magician was basically invincible, which instilled a sense of fear for magic in the people. Most of the leaders of the kingdoms were in fact magicians, and the kings were just their puppets. Armies of soldiers had become the lackeys of the magicians, and wars erupted between the nations.”
“Oh, I guess you would’ve loved to have been born in that era.” Fern was all ears. “Then?”
Niss placed the sword on her lap to give her arms a break, for the weapon was too heavy for her. “In order to win the wars and feed their own greed, the magicians invented many destructive magics and deployed them on the battlefield, which caused the continent to descend into chaos.” After letting out a breath, she continued, “Then, an archmage from Shawana had foreseen that if magic was being used unrestrained, the entire Wallis would sink into the Endless Sea and no one would survive. Therefore, he gathered up other like-minded magicians and infused their magic powers into three swords, which were then given to the three strongest swordsmen in Wallis. So, these swordsmen, who couldn’t use magic, could also contest the magicians.”
“Eventually, the three swordsmen managed to defeat all the evil magicians, right?” Fern shrugged.
“Yes. Of course, they had their companions. The war lasted for more than a hundred years. The initial swordsmen and magicians had passed away, and their disciples inherited their mission. Eventually, they took all the kingdoms back from the magicians and returned them to the kings. After that, in order to prevent the same tragedy from happening again, they built the Magician’s Tower in Shawana and taught magic to those gifted people so that there wouldn’t only be a handful of magicians who could control the entire continent.”
Fern nodded. “Where are the three swords now?”
Niss raised her bota bag and drank water from it. “More and more people in Wallis had learned to use magic, which ensured that there wouldn’t be a small group of people who could rule the continent. Hence, the magic-infused swords were no longer necessary. Before their last owners passed away, they brought the swords to three different locations in Wallis and jabbed them into three boulders before sealing them. Since then, people started calling the weapons as the swords in the stones.”
Fern took his sword back from her and sheathed it. Looking at the gemstone on the hilt, he asked, “You think this is one of those swords in the stones?”
“Yes, zombies are creatures made from magic, so naturally, they would be afraid of the swords in the stone. Anyway, that’s just my guess. No one knows for sure where the swords in the stones are, so why would a tavern owner even possess one?” Niss asked in puzzlement.
Fern shook his head, but he thought that he had to find out all of Rodd’s secrets when he returned to Deville. “So, what’s this emblem?” He pointed at the gemstone on the hilt and asked.
Upon inspection, Niss realized that the emblem was rather abstract, so she couldn’t make out what it was. “From what I’ve read from the books, the initially chosen swordsmen came from Triton, Ganymede and Oberon, so I think this could possibly be the emblem of one of those kingdoms.” Gazing at the emblem, Niss shook her head helplessly. “But these three ancient kingdoms no longer exist, and this emblem is too abstract. I can’t figure out what it is.”
“You know a lot of stuff.” Staring at her serious expression, Fern unwittingly smiled.
“During my days at the Magician’s Tower, apart from learning magic, I spent most of my time with books.” A tinge of melancholy appeared on Niss’s face.
“Basically, you spent your best years learning magic.” Fern looked up at the clouds and felt sympathetic toward her. “Why did your parents send you to learn magic?”
“I don’t know.” Niss’s eyes reddened. “My father told me that my mother passed away after she gave birth to me, so he basically raised me on his own. He treated me well, and my life had always been worry-free.” She sniffled. “Until one day, an archmage came to look for my father. After a discussion in my father’s study for an entire night, my father eventually entrusted me to the archmage, who brought me to the Magician’s Tower.” At the mention of this, she finally couldn’t help but start sobbing.
Fern wanted to console her, but he didn’t even know what to say, so he decided to quietly stay beside her.
The sunlight in the afternoon was warm and soft. As the breeze whisked across their faces, the river beside them kept flowing toward the unknown distance.
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