Lucia in the Monster Attack
For one moment, stunned silence followed Bernedetta’s declaration. Then, with a clatter of wood, the screams and shouting started.
“We, we have to run away!”
“Out of the way! I’m outta here!”
“Why now!? The Sacred Maiden only just left us!”
“Commander Agliardi and the Dragonslayer are both gone — can the knights handle this without them!?”
“Most of the knights and soldiers left with the Sacred Maiden! There’s no hope!” “No, wait, I heard the soldiers had come back!”
Surrounded on all sides by the voices of all those people, I scrambled to my feet. What do I do?
Monsters had never attacked Arldat before. Somehow, we’d all simply assumed that we would be safe living in the capital. The news that we weren’t triggered panic in everyone.
I found myself thinking of the duchy of Aquilania. Rumor said that they were still struggling to recover from the ravages of the dragon’s rampage last year. Now, the Knight Commander Agliardi and the Dragonslayer were away. If our attacker was another dragon, then Banfield might meet the same fate as Aquilania.
I don’t want to die, not before I see Sir Celes again! I want to welcome him home, and thank him for the ribbon! I pressed my hands over my pounding heart and looked to Chicca and the others.
“Bernedetta, do we know anything about the monsters?” Chicca demanded. Her clear voice rang through the chaos of the dining hall.
“Eh…? Oh…give me a moment…” Still white-faced, Bernedetta pressed a hand to her temple. “I-I think they said it was a horde of ogres and ogresses. They said, a large number had been seen, and the Third and Fourth regiments were gathering the soldiers and preparing for battle!”
Ogres… Screams erupted all around.
They were fearsome monsters. Everyone said that they had a particular fondness for the taste of human flesh. I’d also heard that they weren’t particularly bright, but none of us knew how to fight. Which meant they were a real threat. Perhaps that was why everyone surged as one for the exit, when they heard that name.
I didn’t want to die either. I liked to eat meat, I didn’t want to be meat! But, I couldn’t make up my mind. What would be safer? Running away, or staying behind the castle walls?
A voice cut through the rising panic. “Everyone, calm yourselves! You will be safest in
Arldat! We will be closing the gates and preparing the catapults. Those of you with family in the city, bring them to the castle! These are the orders of Vice-Commander Astorga, who defends the city in the Commander’s absence!”
The speaker was a soldier clad in dark gray armor. A message runner, perhaps? He’d pitched his voice to carry over the hubbub of the crowd, even as he tried to calm everyone.
“Sorry, Lucia,” Chicca said. “I need to go find my relatives!”
“Lucia, stay in the castle. We’ll all be right back!” Jeanne added.
“We’ll see you soon, Lucia! Come on, Jeanne. We need to find our parents!” “It will be fine, Lucia. The knights will protect us. I’ll see you later.”
Chicca and the others all had family who lived in town. With hasty goodbyes, they set off running to find their relatives and evacuate them to the castle. I didn’t have any family, and I lived in the bachelorettes’ dorms in the castle. I could only see them off, shaking.
I’m so scared. What should I do? This is terrifying!
Although monsters ran rampant in our world, I’d been lucky enough to never experience an attack in person. When I’d gone outside the town walls to gather herbs, I’d known it was dangerous, but even then I never encountered any monsters. So at some level, I’d thought of it as something that happened to other people. It was scary, but surely it would never happen to me.
But, this was reality.
Fortunately, Sir Celes and the other knights and soldiers who’d left with the purification expedition had returned to us. Surely they would handle this. Could it be that the Sacred Maiden and His Highness had anticipated this, and that was why they had sent the soldiers back? If so, they truly were amazing.
It’ll be all right. It’ll be all right, I told myself, over and over.
I wanted to run away, I was so scared — but Sir Celes was in Arldat now. He was a knight. The Third and Fourth regiments were the best of the best, and they did so much. Surely they had many strong knights among their numbers. And Sir Celes was one of them. He would protect us, right?
We would be all right. Sir Celes had even once told me that he was strong enough to win against the monster that had killed my father. If Sir Celes was here, we would be fine. I believed in him.
Biting my lip, I squared my shoulders and took a deep breath. First things first. I had to calm down. And then I would think about what I could do!
That was the beginning of the nightmare.