Chapter 7: Why do I care?

Aleksandros had spent much of his time studying and was especially interested in magic despite not being able to use magic himself. Strangely enough, he appeared to have no real talent as a wizard or warrior unlike his prodigy of a father. It didn’t stop him from studying as much as he could about it.

Magic guns were something that was newly invented and being researched in several nations. They were a combination of magical research and the ingenious engineering of the dwarven race. Originally the dwarves had created guns which made use of gunpowder, but these weapons were of limited use and were more for artistic expression and perhaps the thrill of hunting rather than weapons of war. These guns were reminiscent of ancient flintlock pistols but functioned very differently.

The reason being, magic.

The reality was, that magic was far more powerful than science could ever be in many respects. This was perfectly showcased in Aleksandros memories of the destruction caused in his earliest of memories. He shuddered at the horror of that time.

Magic came in many shapes and forms. From powerful spells to powerful abilities. Even warriors used a form of latent magic when using their most powerful of abilities and skills. Clerics called on the divine for blessings and to use their healing spells and supportive auras, but even this was a kind of magic, divine magic. In simple terms, magic could be described as anything which caused a supernatural or unexplained phenomenon. Meaning, phenomenon that could not be explained by science or traditional common sense. 

The world Aleksandros currently found himself in was a world dominated by magic but there were bits and traces of the sciences still evident in it. Although this would be considered knowledge that was extremely ancient to what Aleksandros knew in his original lifetime. However, Aleksandros conjectured that magic could replace science in many respects and that society could eventually develop into something far more advanced than his former world. Of course, this was something which wouldn’t happen for a long time based on the rate of progression of the world from what he could see.

Either way, he knew very well what these guns represented. A fusion of magic and science with lethal practicality.

The guns didn’t even require gunpowder. There was a sophisticated and intricate magical formation carved on the body as well as the hammer of the flintlock styled gun. The hammer struck the body causing the magic within to be activated. The formation would then draw on the magic infused into the bullets. It wasn’t even necessary for the gun user to be able to use magic themselves. For those who were capable of magic though, they could even draw further power from the guns and use various abilities with the gun as a catalyst.

With this knowledge in mind, Aleksandros realized that the convoy was in a very precarious situation that would be difficult to be extricated from.

“I have spent considerable time studying the latest in military technology, especially in regards to the application of magic within a variety of weaponry and arms.”

“Mother just trust him. Aleksandros has spent the last several years living in that dusty old library! It’s all he does. You might not be aware of it, but he almost never leaves it.” Chimed in Shelise from the side.

Clearly, she didn’t have a good impression of her brother’s hobby.

The Duchess frowned at hearing this. It was true that she had greatly neglected her children over the past several years due to her depression and increase in duties because of the absence of her husband. She hadn’t truly been able to take care of her children. This was something she regretted immensely.

“I see. I didn’t know, I’m sorry.”

“There is no need to apologize mother.”

“If what you say is true then we need to quickly set up a defense. The dragoons are light cavalry with small arms, and we won’t be able to outrun them! The two of you, go now. Brock, take them and go! I will remain here with the soldiers.”

“Mother no! You must come with us!” Shouted Shelise unwilling to abandon her mother.

The Duchess brought her horse close to her daughter’s and raised her hand to gently cup her daughter’s face. Her smile was one filled with sadness and grief which she couldn’t keep hidden from her children.

“My daughter, you must live. No matter what happens to me, you and Aleks must live on. You two are the only ones of our family left.”

The Duchess released her daughter as tears rolled down her once young and lovely cheek. She turned and rode away without looking back. She immediately began shouting orders to the soldiers who began getting into a defensive position.

Aleksandros attempted to grab his sister’s reigns to pull her along, but Shelise forced his hand away.

“No! I won’t go.” She protested.

“Brock.” Said Aleksandros without any need for further instruction.

“Young miss, it is time to go. Please don’t make me force you.”

Shelise looked at Brock with tears in her eyes and looked one last time at her mother and then angrily turned her horse to follow along without saying anything else. The three turned in a western direction and left the convoy. The convoy was a large enough distraction that they thought they could easily get away in the chaos.

They were riding for only a couple minutes when they could hear the sound of dozens of bangs from the magic pistols of the dragoneers. Some loud shouts which were carried across the wind made their way to the three who were hastily making their escape. Shelise attempted to turn back but Brock forced her to continue. They rode as fast as they could through the brush and trees hoping to get as much distance as they could.

It was a warm and sunny spring day. Normally, it would be a perfect day for a ride but for these three the day had become one of despair. The world had turned strangely quiet except for the sound of the horse’s hooves against the hard earth and their ragged breathing as they galloped. It was a speed which was unsustainable for a long period of time but they pushed the horses as hard as they could. 

This is not good.

Aleksandros had a sudden sense of ill foreboding. From the south, he could see dozens of soldiers on horseback appearing unexpectedly. This was not the direction they had escaped from which meant these particular Dragoons had separated from the main group at some point in time. Most likely they had sent several small groups in different directions in order to spread out a wide net. For what purpose, he had a pretty good idea. He was certain that they were searching for him.

“Dammit! Why are they here now!?” Brock shouted, “You have to keep going! Don’t slow down! I will hold them off as long as I can.”

Brock turned his horse and pulled the thin blade out of the scabbard at his side. It was similar to a rapier and he was quite proficient in it. He charged towards the rushing dragoneers who aimed their magic pistols at him and fired.

A torrent of magic surged around Brock’s blade as he swiped his rapier in an arc deflecting the magic bullets which were aimed at him. They streamed out of the guns like beams of elemental light and collided with the magical energies of Brock’s thin blade. He charged into their formation, killing two of them in one fell swoop. There were dozens however, and they surrounded him, forcing him back while several others charged forward ignoring him. He was only one man and couldn’t stop the others from charging after the two siblings. They were apparently the target of these dragoneers and Brock was a mere distraction.

Aleksandros and his sister didn’t look back. They rode on without hesitation. Shelise was scared out of her wits and was barely holding on as best she could. She couldn’t even afford the luxury of looking back. Aleksandros, on the other hand, was determined to see his sister to safety although he wasn’t quite sure why.

His feelings were complicated. Naturally, he should feel nothing for her, this was only a temporary stop for him. He knew that soon he would die and return to that horrid place only to be taunted by that being.

What did one short lifetime matter to him? Why should he care about this sister who was only related to this physical body he was currently inhabiting? If not for her, he would have long welcomed the embrace of death.

Maybe it’s because of her smile.. No.. It’s the way she never gave up on me no matter how I pushed her away. Enough! These kinds of emotions are the last thing that I need!

His thoughts were muddled but he shook them off and urged his sister on. They soon lost sight of Brock but could still hear the sound of gunshots. They rode for several minutes before the enemy was once again in sight, rushing towards them and firing their pistols. Their horses were clearly of a superior breed and were perhaps even enhanced with some type of magic.

Is there really no way that I can escape my fate? At least let her live…

These thoughts crossed his mind as time seemed to slow, strangely, but surely he could feel it. A strong and queasy feeling hit him very unexpectedly, and for a moment he heard the sound of angels.

No…

BANG

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