Frieren’s Prequel Novel Chapter 2 part 2

“But… it might come back…”
The boy cried even louder at that.
Stark panicked. That might have been the wrong thing to say. Was it because of his intimidating appearance?
“H-hey, don’t cry. The dragon is—”
Suddenly, a dream he had seen on the wagon bed flashed in his mind.
Himself, huddled and whimpering from the harsh training, with his brother Shutoruts’ voice echoing in his ear.

[Don’t worry.]

For a moment, the boy in front of him overlapped with his former weak self.
—What did my brother say to me back then?
Racking his brain, Stark gently placed his hand on the boy’s head.
“It’s going to be alright.”
He spoke with conviction.
“If the dragon comes back, I’ll take care of it. So don’t worry anymore.”
Sniffling, the boy looked up at Stark.
“Yeah. I may not look it, but I’m pretty strong, you know.”
Stark grinned. Relief and admiration washed over the boy’s face. The old woman beside him also beamed, bowing deeply to Stark.
“Thank you so much. I don’t know how to properly express my gratitude…”
“Don’t worry about it.”
“By the way, who are you exactly?”
Stark stood up. Apparently, the villagers who had been hiding in the shadows and houses had started to emerge. They were all looking at Stark with pleading eyes, just like the boy. They must be anxious, fearing the dragon’s return, just as the boy was.
Wanting to reassure them as much as possible, Stark spoke up clearly.
“I’m Stark. I’m the top disciple of the greatest warrior, Eisen.”
A cheer rose up.
Rippling outwards like waves on a pond, a sense of hope spread, bringing life and a spark of light to the villagers’ eyes.
“As long as Stark-sama is here, we have nothing to worry about!” someone shouted, and the mood shifted to one of triumph. The people who had been trembling in fear just moments ago rushed towards Stark, showering him with praise. The atmosphere was quickly becoming like a celebration.
The villagers came to express their gratitude, and Stark responded with a smile on his face, muttering to himself inside, “What am I going to do about this…?”

As Stark pushed open the doors of the tavern,



the bell rang with a clang.
It was around dinnertime, and the place was crowded. Lively chatter filled the room, and the waitstaff hurried about carrying plates and mugs. Stark found an empty seat at the counter and took a seat.
The well-groomed, gray-haired bartender approached Stark.
“The usual?”
“Yes, please,”
Stark replied. This was already a familiar routine.
Stark looked around the lively tavern. The gloomy feeling he had when he first arrived in the village was gone. Everyone was cheerfully enjoying their meals.
The waitress brought Stark his food – a meat pie and a cake.
“Ah, I didn’t order the cake.”
“It’s on the house. Today marks a year since you arrived,”
“Oh, is that so?”
Nearby, a ruddy-faced man loudly announced,
“Hey, everyone! Today is the one-year anniversary of Stark’s arrival!”
The other patrons paused their conversations and turned to him.
“That’s wonderful. Today is a special day.”
“We couldn’t have this celebration if it weren’t for Sir Stark.”
“To our village hero, Master Stark!”
The customers raised their mugs and glasses in a toast. Stark managed a wry smile, feeling a slight twinge of uneasiness.
It had been a year since Stark came to this village. The dragon still lurked on the outskirts, and the situation had not changed from before Stark arrived. Yet, the village had a peaceful atmosphere, and that was because Stark was here. The villagers believed the dragon would not attack as long as Stark was around.
Except for one person.
“Hmph…getting all excited over one boy,”
A remark that dampened the festive mood reached Stark’s ears. He turned toward the source and saw an old man sitting at the far end of the counter, frowning unpleasantly as he sipped his drink with a sour expression.
“Don’t say that, old man Vance. Stark has protected the village from the dragon!”
“Who’s to say the dragon didn’t just leave on a whim?”
“Then why hasn’t the dragon attacked us in a year? “
“Why hasn’t Stark defeated it in a whole year? It’s obvious the boy isn’t as impressive as you all think.”
The man frowned. He didn’t seem to have a good response ready. “That grumpy old geezer,” he muttered under his breath. The celebratory mood in the room cooled slightly.
The man who had proposed the toast approached Stark cautiously.
“Sir Stark, don’t worry about it. That old man has been a bitter loner for a long time.”
“Ah, I see.”
Stark felt a bit guilty.
The old man – Vance was right. Stark himself wasn’t confident he could defeat the dragon. But he didn’t have the courage to say the truth.
He didn’t know why the dragon wasn’t attacking, but the fact was that Stark had become the hope of this village.
So there was only one thing Stark should do.
He had to try his best to turn his lies into the truth.

Stark’s training began at sunrise.
Standing before the rock cliff on the edge of the village, Stark gripped his axe with both hands. Slowly exhaling, he focused his energy in his core and took an attacking stance.
As he lunged at the cliff, he swung the axe with all his might.
A deafening crack echoed through the area. Ripples formed in the nearby pond, and the birds perched in the trees took flight in a flurry. A large chunk was gouged out of the rock, with pebbles raining down from above.
Stark sighed.
“Not enough…”
The dragon’s sturdy scales would still be too much for this. He needed to increase the power.
Stark continued his training, conditioning his body and swinging the axe. Time passed, and morning gave way to noon.
As Stark sat down on a nearby rock to rest, a young boy peeked out from the bushes.
It was the same boy who had nearly been attacked by the dragon a year ago. Since then, he had become quite attached to Stark, often coming to watch his training.
“Hey there. visiting again?”
“Yeah! Were you on a break?”
“I suppose so.”
The boy approached Stark, gazing up at the gouged cliff.
“If you keep training like this, the whole cliff is going to split and make a valley, you know?”
“Then we’d have to update the map,”
Stark joked. But if this was Eisen, Stark’s mentor, he might have accomplished it in just a few days.
“Wow, warriors are really amazing!”
“You can praise me even more, you know.”
“Uh… Superhuman strength! You’ve gone beyond the realm of humans! A monster!”
“Wasn’t that a bit insulting?”
Flustered by the poor praise, I ruffled the boy’s hair instead. He didn’t seem too bothered, saying “Stop it!” as he escaped from my grip.
“How do you become able to split rocks with an axe?”
“Hmm, I’m not sure how to explain it… I just kind of got the ability one day.”
“Eh? So you came up with the training on your own?”
“No, the master originally taught me. Things like the axe swing and how to put in the right amount of force, and all that. But…”
Stark recalled something from a few years ago.
It was around the time he first met Eisen.
“The master was really bad at teaching, you know…”

“Pay close attention,”
Eisen said.
In front of Eisen were two massive boulders, about twice as tall as the young Stark. Yet Eisen had carried them here on his own back, something Stark always found astonishing given Eisen’s small stature.
Eisen approached the rocks, readying his axe. Then in one swift motion, he brought it down.
BANG! he swung the axe down! A tremendous sound. Like splitting firewood, Eisen effortlessly cleaved the boulder in two, the halves rolling to the sides.
“Alright, now you try.”
“No way, I can’t do that…”
A ten-year-old Stark would never be able to. Even for a normal adult, splitting rocks with an axe is no easy feat.
“The rocks are still too much, huh.”
“Yeah, it is. I’ve only been wielding the axe for about a month. Asking a child who just learned to walk to run on water is like…”
“I could run on water since I was a child.”
“That’s just weird, master.”
“I see.”

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