Blood smeared my cheeks as I breathed out.
I used the back of my hand to wipe off the blood but it didn't do much good since my hand was also covered in thick red liquid as well. My nose however has gotten used to the strong blood odour drifting with a foul smell.
My breathing was as rough as a beasts' and my heart was beating annoyingly loud.
My arms were heavy and my senses were starting to dull. Even so, my eyes were still hunting for the next prey.
'As if I am actually an animal' A self-pitying thought crept up my mind.
In this state, I was definitely not fit to be escorting anyone. A fact that I was repeatedly told.
Sometimes others would scold me about it. Other times it was pointed out to me as a weakness. But that's not all.
From my few friends and from the elders I respected:
In your way of fighting, although the enemy will be completely annihilated, your escort will not survive with you. Who would want to leave their life to those who place importance on killing rather than defend?
Looking back, it was such a hard question for me. But I finally understood.
I had understood the importance of such question when I became Rosemary's personal guard.
Protecting Rosemary was more than a duty to me. I would never let anyone else take my place.
If that's the case, I thought, I will protect Rosemary the best I can.
Always keeping an eye on her and never letting her leave my side. Focus your eyes on her only, nothing else.
If I could do that, I would be able to protect her. I foolishly believed.
As a result, I haven't changed at all. Well, it was to be expected.
I did not understand anything.
Not about friends' and my superiors' worries, not about Rosemary's feelings. Nothing.
Even now I still don't understand.
How can I protect them? How can I stand proud and be called Rosemary's escort?
How do I make her laugh?
“This is a problem.”
My back was bumped against. To that small shock, my consciousness was brought back to reality.
“I wonder if I'm getting too old for this.”
Wolf, who was fighting back and forth, did a small laugh while looking over his shoulder.
“I don't think your age has anything to do with it.”
“I'm older than you at least… Maybe.”
As we did our small banter, I scanned the surroundings.
Most of the people who were standing were breathless. Many of the other sailors were not used to fighting and it showed. There were only me, Wolf and the hooded man who were moving properly.
Pirates on the enemy side had also decreased by quite a number. Morale seemed not to be so high.
They must not have thought that a merchant ship would put up such a fight.
Would you run with your tail between your legs with another attack?
Thinking that, I glanced over towards the pirate ship.
Several pirates were desperately kicking off the wooden transfer planks into the sea. Although it was a galley ship and didn't have many rowers, it still started to slowly sail away. The remaining pirates who noticed were jumping off our ship into the sea to flee.
Looking at the sight, Wolf carved deep wrinkles between his brows.
“I don't mind returning, but I would like to catch the remaining ones on the ship first.”
“Do you think they will surrender?”
Asking while turning my eyes on the leftover pirates.
Wolf instantly shook his head.
“It’s not going to happen, because pirates are hung to death if they're caught.”
I also agreed.
Sure enough, the pirates scoffed at the surroundings with glaring eyes like cornered beasts rather than giving up.
'What a nasty situation.' I murmured in my heart.
I could not imagine what a cornered man will do.
Rather than capturing them, thinking about how to put them down would be the proper course of action.
One of the pirates moved as I took my eyes off him for a split second.
I understood where he was heading and ran at him.
I won't let you. There's no way in hell I'm letting you go there!
But before I could reach him, another pirate moved in the corner of my eye. His hands reached out towards an injured sailor.
There was no room for hesitation. None at all.
However, my legs changed their direction, ignoring my will. What are you doing, me? Even though she should be my number one priority!
While confused about my own actions I cut the enemy's hands that was grabbing the sailor's head clean off.
Ignoring the pirate that was now rolling around in pain, I went after the one that headed downstairs. However, another pirate came in my way.
Irritably grinding my teeth, I swung down with all my might.
I was nauseated by my stupidity. I was worried, I got lost, greedy, trying to get every single enemy when I was supposed to protect the one person most important to me.
It's a mistake I can't live with even if I die.
But then, what would you have done? Another voice rang out in my head.
Didn't you just kill that pirate to save the sailor's life?
Floating in my mind was a face of a man who was walking far ahead of me, causing me to grind my teeth so hard it could crumble.
Captain, will you get conflicted at times like this? Can you easily choose between who to save?
Will my weakness put her in danger?
“Get out of my way you bastards!!”
Along with that roar, the pirate who had been standing in front of my eyes disappeared. Pirates who got kicked from the side blew off far enough to hit the edge of the ship.
My eyes went wide in surprise to see Wolf standing next to me. Was that shout really came from this man?
“What are you standing there for?! Go after him!"
I was being yelled at.
“I can't fight as good as you can. I can't protect that girl. Leave this to me and go!”
“Ku- I owe you one!”
I turned away from Wolf and started running.
I was frustrated by the narrow stairs but as I descended, I found the pirate’s back.
I was relieved that the man had not reached the room, but my breath stopped abruptly when a small shadow could be seen past the man.
The blood in my whole body froze despite my heart pulsating so violently that it hurts. All the sounds were drawn out from my senses.
At the same time that I wished it was someone else, my mind told me that I would never mistake Rosemary for anyone.
Step by step. With every step I took, my conviction grew stronger. While trembling with a pale blue face, the figure standing in front of me was sadly beautiful.
I felt my feet kicking the floorboards as hard as they could but still, it felt too slow.
The image of the pirate slowly raising up his sword burned into the retina of my eye.
I got into eye contact with Rosemary over the pirate's shoulder. Was it my own desire to think that there was the feeling of relief in her surprise?
“Close your eyes!”
At the same time I shouted, Rosemary closed her eyes tightly. You do not know how delighted I am with that trust.
I struck from behind, piercing the pirate's heart.
Along with the feeling of tearing flesh, short screams leaked out of the pirate’s mouth. It was a beastly voice that a normal person would never utter. Or rather, it’s more accurate to say that was the impression I got since my ears were still blocked.
Oh, my precious person, my only one. I'm sorry I could not rescue you as good as the Captain would have done.
The lifeless body crumbled to the floor.
Rosemary was no longer obstructed by anything in my view.
Her complexion was even worse than before and she was trembling like a leaf in the wind. If you heard that scream, you didn't even have to see what happened. Nevertheless, I remembered the crushing feeling in my chest to Rosemary who still kept her eyes closed as I said.
I wanted to console her so I reached out.
But I noticed my own hands covered in blood and stopped myself. It's useless if I touch her, she will only get dirty.
Rosemary-sama. My voice that was calling out to her was stopped.
It was not because I realised that I shouldn't call out her name here, nor was it because Bianca dashed out from the room.
It was interrupted by an echoing scream.
A woman who was caught by Rosemary saw the dead body and screamed. She shook off Rosemary and turned around in a panic.
Then she started running. Perhaps she was not able to endure the repeated fear. She had to run away from the spot, as ordered by her instinct. She quickly rushed up the stairs.
'Wait!' There was a voice calling out for her to stop but it didn't reach her ears.
I clicked my tongue and chased after the woman.
I grabbed her arms once she reached the upper deck and I tried to pull her back, but the woman was confused and resisted. She turned and twisted her body.
As it is now, we will both fall down the stairs. As I was racking my brain on how to deal with her, a dry sound was heard.
After that, I don't remember much.
Perhaps it was something like body reflexes. Before I knew it, my body moved in to cover for the woman.
A dull sound and a slight shock ran through my back.
In that instant, a warm feeling spread through my body rather than a sharp pain.
Opening her eyes wide, Rosemary was crying while looking up at me.
Call me 'brother' instead. Even though I corrected her, I was not upset in the slightest.
It was quite a long time ago since you last called me by my name.
Please do not cry.
I wish for you to laugh.
No matter what happens.
TN: Sorry for the long absence. I will have less time doing this from now on. Expect even fewer updates. I am trying to focus on my life more and will not have time to do this as often, if at all.