Now I, I Rewrite!
We searched for survivors as quickly as we could, but there was none left. Every adult had been cut down and bled out before we had arrived. Quick, brutal, efficient. This was the work of professional bandits or raiders, these people never stood a chance against them. We did our best to try and put out the fires and gather what we could of the remaining food and usable cookware left in the houses. Between the three of us, there was perhaps enough for a few days. Maybe a week if any of us knew how to cook with grains, even longer if we could butcher the livestock.
Trying to take a census of the dead, I noticed there was a good number missing among them. Mostly the young women and all the children. There was only one reason they would be taken.
“Most likely taken to be sold or used as slaves. This was their fate all along, no doubt. Ye can’t worry that we didn’t stop them. That village girl is likely on route to meet her fated hero. If we follow along we should be able to deal with the story quickly.”
“They aren’t going to be saved by a hero, Clarion-sama. Dammit, I should have paid more attention to it before now. Only one here with a name, of course, it was her.”
Red sounded a bit down as he spoke. Master and I looked at Red with question marks over our heads. Wasn’t I the one that named her? What did he know that we didn’t?
“What is her story then?”
“The End of Dragon Fire. It’s a pretty heavy novel series.
She’ll be sold in the royal capital and become a slave for the antagonist of the story, Count Rafkin. He tries to use her, brainwashing her into a double agent to deal with the anti-hero, Houtarou. Which backfires in a lot of bad ways…
I think it’s around volume seven that all starts to happen, she spent months being turned into what she becomes, so we’re in the wrong kingdom to seal the story away if we need the hero, in the earlier volumes he’s about three kingdoms over if the geography is the same.”
“And her name is Heide? You are certain?”
“Positive. She’s one of the better characters in the series.”
I felt a great deal of confusion going through my head. I’d never read the series, or even heard of it until now. And somehow I had guessed her name randomly. I could see flashes of something in my mind, something I felt like I was trying to remember. I shot a look to Master but he wasn’t paying attention at all.
“There are still some lingering effects of story magic around here. We might have one more story close by in the forest to deal with. We might need to prepare the idea that it deals with the animals inside.”
Master gave me a knowing look and I tried not to sigh too loudly in annoyance. I guess I was going to be needing my cat form if that was true. Outside of the Fox, the other animals in the forest gave us a wide berth most of the time. Master was the only one able to get close enough for a conversation.
I nodded slightly and looked around at the remains of the village. We needed to bury bodies and clean up everything first. I swallowed hard and grabbed a shovel, moving to try and find a place to start digging. Even if they were just throwaways for a character’s background, they were dead and we were here to deal with them. They probably didn’t even get buried for days or at all in their stories. But I wasn’t going to let it happen like that. Master landed on my shoulder and sighed touching the back of my head with a wing.
“I wish I could help ye, Boy. Ye don’t have to do it, but I understand why ye do.”
His voice was surprisingly sympathetic and soft, the first time I heard him like this. I wonder what happened to him over his lifetime. Red followed behind with another shovel, moving to the small cemetery on the west end of the village. I had to sigh to myself over seeing the two plots that still looked fairly fresh, another set of reminders to failures that had started after coming to this land.
Picking a spot that seemed clear enough we began to dig. The ground as thankfully forgiving and easy to move as we began our long and arduous task. There wasn’t much else to do aside from scooping out the dirt a shovelful at a time. Neither Red nor I had reached a point of being friendly enough with the other to try and converse, and I was certain he was probably punishing himself over this even when we both knew we had no fault. And so we both worked in silence deal with our own burdens digging out the graves of our benefactors.
Left to our thoughts as we worked, I puzzled over trying to think about what I might be missing. Things didn’t add up to know things I should never have been able to guess. I felt as though I was grasping at straws made of air.
I had guessed her name, but at the same time, it had just come to me like some hidden knowledge. Master had stated such a thing was impossible. The odds of guessing a name like that were insane, a Japanese writer was as likely to use a Japanese name as he would use a proper name from a region. It should be astronomical odds to ever be right in this regard. Not entirely impossible, but still.
But I knew it. I could feel it in my gut that I knew it for some reason. And I couldn’t understand why. I felt a flash of something again. Some hidden memory, a bed with entangled bodies, violet lights and a scream, then blood and fire surrounding me in a forest, no wait, in the meadow!. But as I grasped for it trying to find out more it slipped away and vanished, disappearing like they never happened. I tried to think back on it more, trying to find something that would bring the memory back to the forefront but there was nothing.
I stopped trying to find it and simply went back to work, half hoping that by not focusing would let it float back up to the surface of my mind. But, even as the sun began to set and we had managed to dig a mass grave big enough to fit everyone. Nothing had come to me at all, and I was left feeling even more exhausted and empty inside.
By the time we had moved all the bodies into the grave and covered them, I barely managed to place my hands together and say a silent prayer for peace. Red looked nearly as bad as I did, as we made our way back to the village center. Our beds had been destroyed and most of the houses burned, but neither of us cared at this point.
Master had left shortly after we had begun digging, to where or why I didn’t know. The fluttering of feathers signaling his return as Red and I sat down on the dirt and tried to eat something before we collapsed from exhaustion. He landed in front of us and cleared his throat.
“I think I’ve found the story…”
I perked slightly and looked to him, some of his feathers were puffed up making him look a bit proud. He seemed to be trying to keep his voice solemn for our sakes, though I could understand why he would be excited. A chance to actually redeem ourselves for a change outside of training.
“Which one is it, Clarion-sama?”
“It’s a good fable, and a fairly easy one if we can make things happen according to plan. Ye just have to make sure it happens the right way.”
He looked at me specifically. I returned a curious look as he chuckled slightly and flew over to land on my shoulder
“There is a big competition about to take place in the forest. And ye’re going to fix a race.”
“Fix a race?”