The Song of Sword and Magic - Chapter 7
Chapter 7: Black Swamp
[Translator — Asuka]
[Proofreader — Karane]
Fern’s horse, Dark Cloud, was getting tired. The temporary break did not allow it to recover much of its energy, which was almost exhausted because it had been running all night. However, the wolves behind them were relentless.
Fern knew that his horse couldn’t run any longer, so he tried to rack his brain to come up with solutions to get them out of danger, but he then rejected all of his own ideas. His clothes were drenched in sweat, and his eyes were dampened by the sweat that streamed down from his forehead. Also, his vision started becoming blurry.
In a dazed state, he seemed to have returned to a few years ago when he and his companions were stranded in a forest, trying to survive. His friends collapsed to the ground one by one right in front of him. His companions, who had bantered with him on the previous day, had become corpses with lifeless eyes and panic-stricken faces. The rest of them didn’t even have the time to bury the corpses as they wandered aimlessly in the forest.
Then, they had to face their eventuality.
Will, his best friend, who had reminded the others to be careful of the surroundings a few seconds ago, was shot in the throat by an arrow. He could only make a grunt before collapsing into the mud.
Miles was a revered senior in the group who taught them sword-wielding techniques and gave them sincere advice from time to time; he was the spiritual support of the group. However, even he couldn’t combat so many people. After he killed three of his opponents, a few swords were jabbed into his body.
Kaya was a girl Fern was fond of. They were in a somewhat ambiguous and intimate relationship. Her bright smile and joyful laughter were engraved in the deepest part of his heart. He could never forget the very moment she lay on top of him as a sword penetrated her as well as his body. In an instant, a sharp pain was spread all over his body, but this was nothing compared to the pain of losing his loved one.
“Fern, you must survive…” Tears dripped from her eyes and fell upon his face.
Rain started dropping from the sky as the rainwater dampened the tree leaves as well as the corpses. Sometime later, he regained consciousness, and the first thing he saw was his loved one’s corpse with his dead companions on top. He was too sorrowful to even cry. With great difficulty, he climbed out of the corpses and pulled out her body. Hugging her and stroking her familiar yet lifeless face, he couldn’t control his tears from streaming down his face anymore. His tears, mixed with the rainwater, dripped on her eyes and slid down her face. It was as though she was crying as well.
“Now is not the time to think about this!” Fern brushed away his tears with the back of his hand as his vision cleared up. Tree branches were lying low above his head, and the croaking of toads suggested that he had reached the swamp area. However, Fern never stopped in his tracks. His horse was fatigued, so it could only gallop at a slower speed now.
“I have to buy more time for them.” Fern was worn out from riding a horse all night, and the relentless pursuit of the predators made it worse. The rustle on the underbrushes could be heard from behind him. He could even hear the heavy and rapid breathing of those animals.
The sun was starting to rise from the horizon, which was casting the darkness away. Fern could smell the fresh air in the morning that was tinged with the fragrance of morning dew, which alleviated his fatigue a little.
It was the same kind of morning a few years ago when he and his companions left Deville as they chatted among themselves. They had to escort a mysterious item to the Northernmost country, Sara. It appeared to be an easy task, but it was destined to be a journey of no return. No one knew what was inside the beautifully engraved trunk, and what kind of misfortune it would bring upon them.
I should have asked more questions. They were hiding too many secrets from us, Fern thought regretfully. My friends trusted me, but I…
The horse couldn’t move anymore. “Hang in there, buddy.” Fern got off the horse with difficulty and led it to walk on the underbrush. In front of them was the seemingly endless Black Swamp. There was no trace of life in this place, so it was eerily quiet. No matter where he looked, there was no end to the swamp, hence he couldn’t even skirt the place. Despair rose within him and almost engulfed him. After he staggered forward in one direction for a short moment, three dark figures reached him and stopped in their tracks. They growled as they watched their prey, who had nowhere else to flee.
It was at such a critical moment that Fern’s fighting spirit was ignited. I’m a swordsman, so I shall fight to the death! He released the reins and firmly held his sword. Readying himself in a fighting posture, he took a deep breath to stabilize his breathing and glared at the predators.
It was until then that Fern could see their faces clearly. They looked like wolves, but they were much larger than the average wolves. Their gray fur stood on end, and their heads were unusually huge as their saliva dripped from their mouths. “Whatever you are, come fight me!” Fern muttered.
All of a sudden, the leading wolf pounced on him. With no time to think, Fern instinctively jumped to the side. The predator whizzed past his shoulder and landed on the ground behind him.
Before Fern could turn around, the other two wolves launched themselves at him from both sides, blocking all the routes he could flee. Without thinking, he drew out a dagger from his waist and hurled it at one of the wolves. The wolf couldn’t dodge it as the dagger penetrated the middle of its eyes. After a howl, it charged forward a little before stopping in its tracks. However, the injury didn’t seem to have affected it much. It was panting on the spot and waiting for the next chance to attack its prey.
Seizing the chance, Fern rushed forward to avoid the assault from another wolf and jabbed his sword into the injured wolf. Following that, he pulled out his dagger and stabbed it into its stomach. Then, he whirled around and made the injured wolf face another predator. The wolf pounced on its companion, and the impact was so powerful that Fern almost collapsed to the ground. However, due to his exceptional balancing skill, he managed to stabilize himself.
Then, Fern pushed his sword forward and penetrated both wolves in front of him. After that, he pulled out his dagger and stabbed it into the wolf furthest from him. After seconds of stalemate, both wolves finally lost their lives.
Just then, Fern recalled that there was still a wolf behind him, so he hurriedly withdrew his sword and dagger before turning around. However, the wolf was nowhere in sight, and all he saw were the bursting bubbles on the swamp.
After panting for a while, he realized that his shoulder was injured. Although the wound wasn’t deep, blood was streaming down his arm. Suddenly, more howling could be heard in the distance. The three wolves were just the vanguard as more wolves would arrive shortly. There was no hope of winning if he were to battle the wolves.
When Fern tried to look for his horse, he was shocked to see that the horse was stepping on the swamp. It was around twenty steps away from him. Miraculously, instead of sinking into the swamp, it was moving further away from him. The sky had turned slightly brighter, and with the help of the dim light, Fern managed to make out the hoof prints on the swamp.
“Maybe I should give it a try.” Fern slowly placed his foot on the hoof print and exerted more force with his leg. Upon making sure that the ground was solid, he was elated. So, he stepped on the swamp with his other foot. Following Dark Cloud’s hoof prints, he ran after his horse and moved further away from the edge of the swamp.
Dozens of wolves had reached the edge of the swamp as they panted heavily. Fern couldn’t help feeling lucky. “If I stayed there, I would have been devoured by them.”
However, the wolves at the front seemed to be threatened by a force as they pounced on Fern. Nevertheless, the wolves were too far away from him, and they started sinking into the mud. The wolves were struggling hysterically, and they were wailing in fear. Unfortunately, their struggle only accelerated the speed they sank. A moment later, the swamp returned to normal, as though the horrifying sight just now had never happened. Only the boiling bubbles on the ground that signified the loss of their lives.
More and more wolves jumped into the swamp. Rather than racing after Fern, they were actually committing suicide. “The force that’s pushing them forward is incredibly powerful. What kind of presence is the Dark Tide?” Fern gazed at the terrifying sight before his eyes and started feeling uneasy about the journey ahead.
The sky turned brighter by the seconds, so Fern could see Dark Cloud’s hoof prints easily. The howling behind him faded, and the world fell into dead silence. The only sounds he could hear were the snorts from his horse and its steps on the ground. Fern looked in the direction of Wet Port and was finally relieved. “Kaya, I’ve managed to protect my companions this time.”
Join our discord for updates on releases! https://discord.gg/sb2jqkv