The city was quiet at night. A few lights glowed from the windows of some houses, but the majority of the houses were dim. The moon gave off a faint glow, making way for the few unfortunate people who forgotten their lanterns at home.
A tired-looking man walked down the street. He made a turn into one of the gates of a house and walks through it. The slightly rusty gate creaks as the man opens and closes it. The man then pulled out a key from his pocket and unlocked the front door.
"I'm home," the man said, accompanied by the sound of the door opening and closing.
"Dad!" a little boy shouted as he ran from the back room and leaped into his father's arms.
"Ooh, you're getting bigger." The man caught the little boy in his hands and lifted him up. Though most would have found it difficult to lift a running ten-year old boy up without a little bit of struggling, the man lifted his son up as if the boy weighed no more than a feather. This goes without saying though, considering that the man's build was much more muscular than the average person.
The young boy's eyes glowed in excitement as he asked his next question. "Dad, how was work with the kingdom's Knights?"
The man grinned proudly, thinking back on his own achievements, as he placed his son back on the ground. "Well, let's just say your father did well out there. Even the oversized Male Thief Bugs are no problem for him now!" The man flexed his muscles to show off. "They don't call me the Mightiest One on the Frontiers for nothing!"
"That pride will get you one day," a woman's voice called out. The boy's mother walked out wearing an apron and holding a ladle. "Welcome home, dear."
"I'm home," the man replied with a warm smile. He walked to his wife and embraced her. "I missed you."
"Don't be silly, we saw each other a week ago," she said jokingly, wrapping her arms around him as well. Then, in a whisper, "I missed you too."
"Eww, gross!" the boy yelled as he saw his parents' intimacy. The two smiled wryly as they walked to the dining room where a warm meal was waiting for him. The wife, who had already eaten, listened with a smile as the man retold the stories of his past week on patrol duty.
When he finished his meal, in accordance to his wife's pestering, the man went to the town's public baths. And after washing himself from the week's toll and sweat, he headed back to his house. His son and wife had fallen asleep a long time ago, and the house was quiet.
Finding himself not too tired, the man sat back down at the dining room table. As his mind began to wander off, his earlier relaxed smile was nowhere to be found, slowly replaced with a grim expression. He recalled the past week of his patrol, including the parts he left untold to his family.
His Knight division was patrolling the city culvert. For as long as anyone could remember, there had always been some monsters living there. However, because the monsters were fairly weak, the Knights dispatched them easily. As long as they made periodical patrols through the area and thinned out their numbers, the monsters posed no threat to the capital city.
But recently, the monsters appeared more frequently in number. Though weak individually, when the monsters grouped up in a swarm, even the trained Knights would have difficulty dealing with the pests. And during the rare cases when the number of monsters doubled the number of knights, the knights would easily fall prey to the monsters.
Though the Knight commanders have tried to recruit adventurers to help through the guild, the monsters' appearance was too unappealing for many to accept the quest. For reference, the monsters looked like an oversized roach, as large as an adult human's torso.
Without some kind of resolution, it was only a matter of time before the Knights would be overwhelmed. Unlike the monsters whose numbers never seemed to decrease, the number of Knights were finite. But because he was a Knight, the man couldn't abandon the people. In fact, he was planning to leave the next morning and head back to the capital. The reason behind his visit today was so that he could inform his family that he would be away for a while, possibly longer than before.
The man sighed and stood up, stretching. Then, he walked into the room of his son and sat down next to the sleeping boy. He pat the boy's sleeping head, to which the boy unconsciously smiled. The man's tired face lightened up a bit after seeing that.
The man stood up and left the room to where his bag sat at the dining room. He grabbed something wrapped in a cloth and returned to the sleeping boy. Quietly, he laid the item by the boy's sleeping body.
"Happy early birthday," the man whispered.
He yawned, his lack of rest finally catching up to him, and he retired to his own room where his wife was already asleep.
The next morning, the man stood in the front porch in his full armor and uniform. His wife stood at the front door holding the half-asleep boy in her arms. They watched the man get on his mount, a giant orange land-bird called Peco Peco, and head out the gate. The man turned to his family and waved one last time. The boy sluggishly waved back, his eyelids half-open. The woman watched, smiling sadly, watching her husband leave.
For some reason, her she wanted to call out to him. She felt an ominous air around him. Maybe she should get him to stay one more day. Or even better, a week. There was no evidence. However, she feared that something very bad was about to happen. But when she snapped back to reality, the man was already far off in the distance.
Hoping that nothing would happen, she glanced one last time at her husband's distant figure before walking back in the house with her son.