The Thirty-Third Warrior
Near the foot of the Galia mountain, the sixth legion prepared to leave. Surprisingly, they failed to fulfill their objective and only remained to go ahead with the following orders.
What happened had altered the unalterable Acme Soldiers. Their commander, Jemur of the sixth (as he was known by the Acme Soldiers) had been completely defeated by a man who until now was a complete stranger. They were suffocated by a sensation they had already known once.
Of all the soldiers, Jemur was the most surprised. At the time, he had managed to maintain his composure as a soldier, but now that he had left the man and the city behind, his mind was plunged into his incomprehensible defeat.
It had happened so fast that by the time he realized, he had already lost. This was the second time he tasted a total defeat. He could understand the first, since nothing but defeat awaits those who challenge a general of Iren. However, there was no reason to think that he had no chance against a man who wasn't even Irenit. All he could do now was to carry out orders and move on, at least there was honor in fulfilling his duty.
When they were preparing to leave, an emissary arrived from Galatea, where they had left an outpost to serve as a communication bridge. The man went straight to Jemur.
"Sir Commander, I'm Railey, from the communications squad, I bring new orders from the general, sir".
"Our orders were to march north, to the next academy. You say the orders changed?"
"Sir. No sir ! The orders of the sixth legion have not changed sir".
"Sir. The new orders are addressed to the commander, Jemur of the sixth, sir".
This surprised Jemur for a moment. But it wasn't a possibility that would have been ruled out. He had failed, so he would possibly be degraded, or worse. He could tell how there was a certain anomaly in the messenger, who seemed to tremble slightly. Few things can make a soldier of Iren tremble. Maybe he was afraid of his reaction and that's why he expected his permission to speak.
"Speak soldier, what are the general's orders?"
If the soldier feared his reaction, Jemur wasn't willing to be soft with him. It's a shame for an Irenit soldier to feel fear in the middle of duty.
"Sir. The General Demon of two horns asks you as a representative in a duel. As his warrior, sir!"
Jemur was wrong. The soldier wasn't trembling with fear, but with emotion. The thrill of speaking before the representative of the General Demon. The position of representative warrior is what any soldier who does not wish to usurp any of the posts of the high command aspires.
Jemur felt his doubts vanish as if they had never existed. His mind once again was that of a Soldier. And it was then that he understood what those orders meant.
"The general has been defied !?"
In a building located in the sacred land of Acme, members of the council of warlords who conformed the opposition to the demon general met secretly. All of them sitting around a large table and wrapped in shadows. In case there was a spy somewhere in the building, he would need to be dangerously close to distinguish the members.
A security measure that had always been used, especially now that they were in the middle of a conflict with other council members.
"Didn't we just have an emergency meeting yesterday?"
"With the demon loose you can't have a day off".
"... So it has been confirmed?"
"Yes. We also know who chose the demon as their representative warrior. It's Jemur, commander of the sixth legion".
"They? Despite his humiliating defeat".
"Acme soldiers rarely leave the territory and when they do, it's for some battle. As far as I know, this is the first time that an Acme soldier has been defeated by a foreigner in a one-on-one combat".
" Speaking about a first time... Was there ever a thirty-third among the 32 warriors of the east?
"... Never. At least I haven't heard it happen in known history. There have always been 32 representatives, one for each of the 26 warlords, the 4 generals and the 2 kings".
"But in the past there were other generals with the title of demon".
"Yes, but in those cases it was a warlord or another general who won the title, so the number didn't change. When that was not the case, there was no need for a representative warrior".
"Well, it's not like all the generals with the title were so troublesome".
"In any case, this is the first to also be <Two horns> since the founder".
"I still have a hard time believing that the King of Peace agreed to give him the title".
"You must admit that there is no one stronger than the Demon in Iren. You were there that day. We saw it with our own eyes ..."
"Yeah, that's another problem ... Although returning to the subject, can Saladdi's warrior defeat Jemur?"
"As a general rule, I don't bet against an Acme".
"However, Jemur has recently suffered a severe defeat. He may be unstable".
"Actually, I think that's just the reason why the Demon chose him, beyond his obvious ability".
"What do you mean?"
"They eyes ... may have changed".
"Eyes? What are you talking about?"
"Once my predecessor told me about the weakness of the Acme Soldiers".
"Weakness? Is there one?"
"Actually, considering that they are soldiers, it isn't precisely a weakness. However, it is certainly a weakness for a warrior. My predecessor said that the Acme had the << Soldier Eyes >>. A lost look that lacks spirit. Caused by 'Eliminations' or 'deaths without combat' ”
"By deaths without combat I mean ... the slaughter of war, where no adversary is an opponent. After passing the Acme test and existing by and for war, Acme soldiers lose something precious that all the other Irenits possess. The desire to fight. For them they are nothing more than orders and their victims are 'eliminated'. They were never opponents".
"And what does that have to do with the Demon choosing Jemur?"
"He probably realized ... After being defeated a second time, Jemur experiences the remorse caused by the bitter taste of defeat. Maybe it didn't happen the first time because his opponent was the General Demon himself. However, this time it was a complete stranger. And even if they was an Aristoi, he was still defeated by a foreigner. It's possible that it ignited a desire in him. The desire for victory",
"Why is that different from the Acme soldiers? You say they don't want victory?"
"That's exactly what I am saying. They don't 'want' victory. To begin with, they don't consider the possibility of defeat, such an idea is unconceivable for an Acme soldier. But Jemur has tasted it, and for knowing defeat, is that he craves victory in a way that isn't possible for those who never knew it. It's likely that he now has eyes that seek victory, the eyes of a warrior".
"Mm. I think I understand what you are saying. In other words, he is now beginning to have the mentality of a warrior rather than that of a soldier".
"I don't want to rule out the possibility of the Demon losing this. But let's assume that Jemur is victorious ... What would be the consequences?"
"As I understand it. The condition is that the control of the army of Lord of Saladdi will pass to the Demon and from now on his vote will always be for him".
"Aagh! Damn it! I can't deny that it's admirable to defy the Demon, I would also like to stop his feet at least once. But considering the consequences... We could have problems. He wasn't one of us, but his vote was always against the Demon. If it now goes in his favor, the demon gets a two-vote advantage".
"Not only that, his influence will grow even more, if he wins, it will be as if he takes control of Saladdi's territory, the surrounding territories may decide to side with him".
"In the worst case. The next time he decide to move on his own, the council will end up approving it until the last consequences".
"In other words, the Demon will be free to leave Iren's territory personally".
"With the desire of conquest of the Demon, we will have failed in our mission".
"Wait a minute. There's something I still don't understand. Why did all this happen?"
"Ah. You didn't find out. The demon wanted to send the legions on a search mission, but sent his own forces to the academies and those of Saladdi to separate into different foreign cities".
"Give orders to another's army ..."
"Well, as a General he can order the forces that are not under the command of the other generals. But it wasn't enough with the Acme soldiers, he took authority over the army of one of the warlords and Lord Saladdi didn't tolerate it".
"It's an unprecedented case. As always, the council has a split decision and the kings didn't take action on the matter. So the only option left was to defy him. 'If no one else is going to do it, I will show you that you cannot do whatever you want'. Nice words, but if he lose the consequences will be worse".
In Iren, when a dispute cannot be resolved by the authorities, it's decided with a duel between the parties in conflict. In the past Warlords and Generals fought personally when they were involved. But as the result used to lead to the death or incapacity of one or both parties, it was detrimental to the balance of power.
About 800 years ago, the rulers of Iren began using warriors to represent them in these cases. This is how each Warlord gathered under their command the best warrior in their territory. The Generals from their army and the Kings from all Iren. Was formed the group with the strongest warriors east of the continent. The 32 warriors of the east.
"So Jemur will be the first thirty-third warrior in the east".
"I guess with that he will overcome the stain of his defeat".
"By the way. Anyone have any idea what the Demon is looking for?"
"It must be something really important if he is sending even the armies of others to look for it".
"On that front, my sources got one of the letters sent to Saladdi's army. On it there is a drawing of what they are looking for".
Among his clothes, a figure in the shadows pulled out a paper to place on the table and in the light of all present.
"It's about this. It doesn't seem like the big deal, just a piece of metal. I found out everything I could, but I didn't get any clues. Considering that he uses his legions to invade the AS Academies, everything seems to indicate that its part of some sort of artifact".
"We may not be able to do anything to prevent the Demon from gaining control of Saladdi's army, but we can still prevent him from getting away with it. We must do everything possible to get this device before the Demon finds it".