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Chapter 13

A Knight who Eternally Regresses

WE TRIED TRANSLATIONS

Translator: Ryuu

Editor: Abstract

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A KNIGHT WHO ETERNALLY REGRESSES


Chapter 13: Replay




After being unconscious for two days straight, Enkrid slept for another half a day. When he woke up, there was bread and soup in front of him. A long shadow passed over the bread and soup and then disappeared. He turned his gaze to the half-open entrance of the tent. It seemed to be early morning.


There was no sound of people moving about. A few torches had been set up, so the light entering the tent was much less than before. Everyone inside the tent was asleep.


Enkrid reached for the bread.


"I can move my arm without any trouble."


Seizing the opportunity, Enkrid tried to sit up halfway.


Zing.


Pain shot up from his side, making the back of his head tingle with the intensity.


"But if it's just this much..."


Rem had said it wasn't broken. Enkrid agreed with his own assessment. Though he had fainted from a concussion, but thankfully, his head seemed to be fine now. He wasn't dizzy and his eyes, nose, and ears were all functioning normally.


He tore off a piece of bread and dipped it into the cold soup, putting it into his mouth.


"My tongue's fine too."


He was so hungry that even this simple fare tasted delicious. The subtle sweetness of the flour reacted on his tongue. The soup, which had barely any seasoning, was enough to fill his empty stomach. Enkrid chewed the thick soup and bread slowly, as if it were a meal from a proper restaurant.


"If you eat hastily after fainting, your stomach will turn."


He knew this from experience.


It was something the soldier guarding the medical tent should have told him, but the soldier he saw last evening looked too annoyed to bother.


A soldier guarding the medical tent, was that even a necessary role?


"He must have some connections."


Otherwise, why would an able-bodied guy be stuck here guarding injured soldiers? 


After filling his stomach, Enkrid forced himself to sit up. If you lie down immediately after eating, you won't digest properly. When injured, it's crucial to eat well and rest. Proper digestion was part of eating well.


"Hoo."


Enkrid let out a small sigh and stared blankly at the flickering light at the entrance of the tent. His eyes were on the swaying torches, but his mind was full of other thoughts. The repeated days, today, and the day he finally surpassed. 


Enkrid replayed and replayed that "today." He recalled the moment so vividly that it even appeared in his dreams. The stab itself was excellent. Even he thought it was a perfectly clean strike.


"It wasn't bad to lead the fight to that point."


The Vallen Style Swordsmanship had helped a lot. It was also thanks to the countless repetitions of today that he had trained, but he couldn't say he did everything well.


"It was clumsy."


This was the conclusion after endlessly revisiting that moment. 


Someone passed in front of the tent. The shadow of a soldier walking past the burning torch stretched long. The extended shadow turned into a stabbing maniac in Enkrid's imagination.


"When I stabbed..."


What if the opponent had dodged?


The shadow dodged the stab. Then, spinning its sword, it slashed. The blade easily cut through the neck of the shadow that played Enkrid's role.


"Then I'd be the one dead."


Did I prepare well? Hardly.


"It was insufficient."


If the opponent had been a bit smarter, a bit more skilled in fighting. If they had just a little more experience. If they had survived until the next battlefield.


"No, that's going too far."


This was an exaggeration. Thinking this way, there was no end. The shadow with the sword was a product of imagination, disappearing when he shook off the thought. Enkrid stopped worrying about what had already happened.


"Rather than pondering 'if,' think about the next step."


Rem said you should know how to stab with all your strength, but that didn't mean every attack could be like that. So, he racked his brain. 


Show the stab once. Before that, keep scratching at the opponent's nerves. When the provoked opponent attempts a stab, counterattack.


"I bet everything on one stab."


A stab that would fail if it didn't work. Was that really the right approach?


You shouldn't lead the fight that way. Enkrid knew that too. If the stab didn't work and he faced a new "today," what should he do?


"If the stab didn't work, should I rely on luck?"


No, that wasn't acceptable. It wasn't allowed. Not luck, but skill. Enkrid believed that using his skill was the best way to make use of the opportunity given to him. Thinking about it didn't plunge him into self-loathing. It was simply a process of revisiting facts, separating what was lacking and what was well done. Just as he always did after a fight or spar.


"If you survive a fight by risking half your life, that fight will become your asset, Enki."


The old swordsman was a fencing instructor teaching children in a quiet coastal town. In terms of skill, he might be embarrassed to make a name for himself even in a small commercial town, let alone a big city. But he was good at teaching. At least to Enkrid, he was an excellent teacher.


"If you plan to eat sword rice until you die, digest and excrete everything you gain from each fight. That's how you'll survive."


The old teacher had likely experienced and walked that path himself. He limped on his left foot. His body was covered in sword scars. Those were lessons learned the hard way. The instructor charged a lot for his lessons, but it wasn't a waste. It was a valuable time. Now was the time to recall what he had learned from him.


"There must be another way."


You can't always stab with all your strength. If you did, you'd be the one to die. Rem wouldn't fight that way either. But when sparring with that crazy Rem bastard, every axe swing felt weighted with serious intent and killing intent.


"How can he do that?"


The joy of succeeding in the stab was very brief. Enkrid didn't get drunk on his sense of accomplishment. No, he was happy. He was satisfied with overcoming a wall through his efforts. But he didn't stop there. Naturally, Enkrid envisioned tomorrow. After the successful stab. Seeing the tomorrow that was invisible before succeeding.


He was reaching out and walking towards the sun of that tomorrow.


"What if I stab with all my strength but not with all my heart?"


He was getting closer to the answer. You can't learn everything just by thinking. But that's okay. Now wasn't all the time Enkrid had been given. 


The faceless ferryman had said. This wasn't the end. The wall would keep appearing.


"He said it would repeat?"


Then I just need to challenge it with my life again. Knowing that such a moment would come again, his heart raced. A peculiar heat starting from his lower abdomen spread throughout his body. Enkrid ignored the heat. Now wasn't the time to push himself.


"First, rest."


Even without a doctor's diagnosis, his aching side indicated he needed a few days of complete rest.


"But how did I end up here?"


What usually happens when a soldier gets injured? Regardless of the severity, you either get treated in your tent or die.


"If you're lucky, you have a doctor treating you."


Or if the goddess of fortune showered you with coins, you might receive a priest's prayer. Divine healing required a combination of luck and connections. Of course, it's different for high-ranking officers, but Enkrid wasn't any of those. So, someone must have intervened to get him here.


"I don't know."


With a belch, he felt his digestion was done. Enkrid lay down and slept. He slept very deeply. Eating well and sleeping well was the best when injured. The next day, when he opened his eyes. He saw big, round eyes.


"Move your face back."


As he pushed Bell's face with his hand, Bell stepped back even before being touched.


"You were sleeping so soundly, I didn't want to wake you. Perfect timing."


"Yeah, right."


He was lucky if Bell didn't kick him awake.


"Who do you think got the squad leader in here?"


Bell puffed out his chest as he spoke. So, it was his doing. Among the squad members, only Bell or Jaxon had the resourcefulness to do something like this.


"I spent a bit for this. You owe me. Don't forget it."


"I never asked you to put me here."


But good things were good. The medical tent had better food, was located at the rear, and he didn't have to do anything. He was exempt from all duties. If he weren't here, he'd have to hold his aching side and manage the squad.


"Will the squad function well without me?"


That was a pointless worry. The weakest in the Fourth-Fourth Squad worrying about others?


"Oh, the weakest one is Bell."


Bell was terrible at fighting, but he wasn't without skills.


Somehow, whenever a battle broke out, he'd manage to retreat to the rear as a special forces member.


He had skills indeed. This time, Enkrid benefited from those skills.


"Should I thank you by bowing my head?"


"No need for grand gestures. Just don't forget it."


"Why is it so important that I don't forget?"


"Got it."


"Good. I'm busy, so I'll leave."


Despite being busy, Bell had come to visit him, which was quite a courtesy. Not only Bell and Rem visited. Jaxon dropped by and tossed a small jar.


"Apply this to your side once a day. It should help with the pain. Don't tell anyone where you got it."


"Especially our squad members, right?"


Jaxon shrugged and left. Opening the thumb-sized jar, he saw dark green ointment.


"Did someone grind herbs to make this?"


If it was made just for him, it was a great effort. Of course, it wasn't. He had seen this item before. Though it was his first time using it. He scooped a bit with his fingertip, slipped his hand under his clothes, and applied it to his side. Every movement sent pain shooting through him. But the ointment warmed the area, easing the pain.


"Not bad."


Enkrid decided to use it sparingly and carefully put the jar under his bed.


"Was the medical tent this close to our tent? It doesn't seem like a place to drop by casually."


No matter. Getting a good ointment was enough. After that, two more squad members came and went.


"Sorry, squad leader. I can't do much to help."


One acted as if they could help but hadn't.


"The squad's a mess without you. Here, take this."


Another tossed a half-eaten apple and left. The last visitor had clearly just dropped by. He often got lost. Enkrid overheard him outside the medical tent, asking, "Our squad leader is here? Why?"


"That guy didn't even know I was injured."


Raising squad members was futile.


"Not that I raised them."


Everyone, except Enkrid, fought well and retreated skillfully.


"I should worry about myself."


Even if he wasn't there, the squad would function well. They'd all manage just fine. He set aside unnecessary worries.


"Hey, you bastard."


This was more concerning. A new guest had entered while he was resting. Someone had joined the tent in the afternoon. The medical tent was large enough to hold over ten people lying down. Yet, there were only three patients in the large tent.


Enkrid, with his aching side.


A squad leader staring at him, having joined today.


And a blonde lying in the corner, lazily moving their fingers while staring at the ceiling.


The one who spoke to Enkrid was the squad leader.


"A soldier with the lowest skills, a mercenary turned squad leader. Do you take turns screwing your squad members? How did you become a squad leader?"


This was the problem. This squad leader was a familiar face. A leader from the neighboring company who always seemed eager to eat him alive. His name was Vengeance.


Whoever named him did a good job. Why did Vengeance hate him? Enkrid had no idea. From the first meeting, Vengeance had been growling at him.


"And you're in the medical tent, lucky bastard."


"Yeah, I think so too."


It was indeed comfortable. It would have been perfect without Vengeance.


"Nice to meet you, squad leader."


"Nice to meet you?"


Should I say it's shit to meet you?


Enkrid was an adult. He knew how to wear a mask.


"Yes, a little."


"A little?"


"Not very much."


"You bastard."


Vengeance fumed but didn't make a move. More accurately, he couldn't. He had deeply cut his thigh in the previous battle. It was hard for him to even stand up.


So.


"Isn't this the perfect opportunity to tease him?"


Enkrid was an adult. He knew how to wear a mask. 


And he knew how to tease someone he disliked.




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