Chapter 15: Things Are The Same, Yet Not The Same
“How are you doing?” Klauna asked the inventor who was currently on the bed. Klauna was sitting down on a chair next to the bed with Poi and Harbin behind her. In their hands was a basket of fruits.
Lionel’s spear could be seen resting on Klauna’s shoulders. The banner of the Seventh Army was exposed for all to see.
“Doing alright I guess. I don’t understand why Medica decided to put me on the bed for a week, but I’ll be discharged tonight and expected to be back by tomorrow,” Yuupiecca said to Klauna and the two other girls that were behind her.
“I was wondering where you were in the last battle, but to think you fainted from mana exhaustion in the siege tower. Pfft, you a riot Yuupie,” Poi mocked Yuupiecca, trying to contain her laughter.
“Shut up! You had the easier job. All you did was just stand up there and shouted at people, you have no right to talk crap about me,” Yuupiecca said back.
“At least I took part in the walls and oh yeah, I didn’t have to lie in bed for a week. Pu pu,” Poi drew out her tongue to Yuupiecca.
“It’s because she told me to stay in bed. I would have gotten out the next day if she didn’t force me!”
“That’s cause you won’t take care of yourself.” Medica arrived out of nowhere and commented.
“Geh, Medica.” Yuupiecca let out a grunt.
A vein popped out of Medica's forehead. “My my, Yuupiecca, you are quite the charmer to have all these beauties coming to see you. But please remember that this is an infirmary. Please keep it quiet. There are patients that need to sleep. You as well Poi, Keep it down,” Medica said to Yuupiecca and Poi. Her face all smiles, but her tone venomous.
The two then gave a word of apology before going silent.
“Hey Medica,” Harbin waved at Medica as the two kept quiet.
“Hey Harbin,” The Succour replied with her own wave and a smile.
“Medica,” Klauna asked once everybody got their greetings and pleasantries out of the way.
“Ah! Yes? Captain Klauna?” Medica stiffened up and replied.
“It’s it agreeable that Yuupiecca gets discharged today?” Klauna asked.
“Well… He’s fine… but it’s best if he rested another day. Exhausting your mana reserves like what he did could have a permanent impact. I just wanted to make sure.”
“... Alright then.” Klauna said as she got up from the chair.
“Leaving so soon, Captain Klauna?” Poi asked.
Klauna replied with a soft “um” before walking away from the bed. Harbin followed after her.
It was at this moment a loud incoherent scream rang out in the room. One could tell that this voice normally belongs to a very pretty person. But it was so distorted from the scream that it sounded scary, almost like a banshee’s yell.
“MY WINGS! WHAT DID YOU BASTARDS DID TO MY WINGS?! ARGGHHIIIAGGAHAGHH."
Every patient in the area jolted upwards to see what the commotion was about. Medica and the Analysts were equally as shocked as well. Medica ran towards the source of the voice and asked the other medical Succours what was going on.
"Medica! Captain Lina… Captain Lina is going berserk again!" A Succour came out from a specific ward.
"Medica!!!!" Lina shouted, her voice cracking in anger and despair.
Lina then appeared out of the door. Her body was wrapped in bandages. The wings, the symbol of the Succours, cleanly cut from her back— the blood seeping out of the appendages. Her beautiful face had an ugly look of anger in it, her hair was a mess. She was no longer the beautiful figure that she was up to a few weeks ago.
During the past week or so, Lina had woken up and fell asleep multiple times. Every time, she would wake up and find that her wings were gone. She would then lash out in anger, before losing energy and fainting again.
Every time she woke up, she would have no recollection of her previous time she was awoken and the process would repeat itself again. Medica suspected that she might have short term memory loss due to the injuries in her head, though it seemed that Lina was slowly recovering. This was the first time that she was awake long enough to find Medica.
The moment that Lina saw Medica, she leapt at her and grabbed her by the collars.
"You, you! What have you done!?" Lina screamed in towards Medica. Her voice breake from how pitched it was.
"I… I have no choice. If I didn't cut them, the poison would have…"
"I'll make you pay! My wings! Give them back!" The deranged captain yelled further. She then felt a sudden pain in her stomach. She kneeled to the ground and vomited all over the floor. Blood mixed within it. She then fainted soon after.
"Lord Lina! Quick! Get her to the medical ward! Harbin, Poi! Help me carry her!"
The two Analysts and the Succours in the area then carried her carefully towards the exit to the medical room. The whole room then went silent.
"That girl… I want to say that she deserves it. But I can't help but feel pity for her. She may have pissed me off, but she's not that bad of a person..." Yuupiecca said amidst the silence.
"..." Klauna only remained silent as she walked away from the room.
She has no comments. It's not about what is lost. It's about how one moves forward despite all that one's lost. She has nothing to say about a fool who can't see reality.
* * * * *
Right after the aftermath of the battle, the Seventh Army quickly secured Fort Kron and searched the castle for any supplies and information. Any human survivors were quickly gathered up and thrown into the dungeons, left to rot there for all Klauna could care. They managed to claim Fort Kron just as ordered by the Sixth Demon Lord.
But at what cost?
As Klauna walked within the walls of Fort Kron, she saw the sight of devastated demons mourning over their lost ones. The Seventh Army lost more than half of their total strength attempting to capture the damn fort. They were now only one thousand and three hundred strong, give or take, compared to their original number of more than three thousand.
Thousands of good soldiers. Dead.
Within that number was ten of Klauna’s subordinate that lost their lives to claim the very walls she was walking on right now. Every single dead demon was rounded up and cremated alongside General Lionel. Every injured sent to the medic ward set up by Medica. The remaining demons only mourned for the dead. Some of them have moved on, but many were still in the middle of recovery. Morale was at an all-time low for the Seventh Army. If told to fight another battle, no amount of miracle could help them win.
Not that there was anybody else to order them to fight anyways.
“Captain Klauna,” A demon approached Klauna. It was the black-masked Saboteur that led the Saboteurs during the previous battle, the demon that took over after Captain Laigon’s death.
“Some of the men are a little bit concerned about the treatment of the humans within the dungeons,” Blackmask said.
“What about them?”
“It’s been a week since we left them there. Some of them had even died. The men argued that if we are not going to keep them alive as prisoners of war, then we might as well kill them. They are only men who follow orders; they don’t deserve to be thrown into the dungeon and starved to death like that.”
Klauna couldn't help but notice the irony within the sentence. She didn’t expect the Seventh Army to care too much about the humans that they hated so much last week. But then again, they were consumed by anger and were not able to make rational decisions in their mind. Klauna included. Although spared, she was the one who suggested throwing them to the dungeons.
“What about it? If they care so much, then give them food or take care of them. I don’t see what’s the big problem here,” Klauna said to Blackmask.
As far as Klauna was concerned, she has no say on what happens to the humans. It was only a suggestion. As a matter of fact, she had completely forgotten there were human survivors until Blackmask told her.
“I see… Do we use our supplies? The supplies we’ve taken from the fort were plenty enough to go by, but I’m afraid of the long term consequences.”
“There is no need to do that. We have thousands of human corpses rotting out there in the fields. Just feed them that or whatever. Worst case scenario, just supply them with water. They can live for a few more weeks without food. We’ll be gone from the fort by then anyway,” Klauna said.
Blackmask as per his name suggests, had a mask to cover his face, so Klauna could not see the dumbfounded expression on his face. To feed human flesh to humans was a bit barbaric, even for their standards. To eat the flesh of your own friends was something he would not wish upon even on the worst of his enemies.
“... I'll see what I can do about the situation,” Blackmask said as he left the area.
Klauna nodded before walking away to her destination as well. She walked for a short while when another demon stopped her.
It was a Warrior this time. The Watchtower Warrior that always patrol the encampment.
“Captain Klauna... “ He called out.
“The human bodies that we left out in the fields have started to attract crows and pests. There were even sightings of wild beasts appearing. I fear that the dead bodies may even rise as undead. We need to do something about it,” he asked.
“Huh? Why are you asking me? Just burn the bodies or something if you care so much about it,” Klauna replied.
“I’m actually rather surprised you haven't burned them yet. I was starting to wonder if you guys intended for them to spawn as undead,” Klauna commented.
“No.. that’s cause you… Nevermind. I’ll get the men to burn the corpses immediately," He saluted before walking away.
Klauna had a mild case of perplexity when she saw the Warrior saluting her. As always, she couldn’t bother to think about it. She continued walking down the fort to reach a certain area. Along the way, people kept stopping her to ask about things. Klauna only replied to them and walked away until she reached her destination, a meeting room.
A meeting was called by Captain Kazakiel who wishes to share information that his scout group found during the investigation of the fort. She walked into the room to see the officers gathered inside. It wasn’t as much as she thought there would be. In the room were only Kazakiel, Cera, Blackmask, the Watchtower Warrior(who both somehow got there before Klauna), and a few others. Less than ten people were present in the room including Klauna.
“Medica, Harbin and Yuupiecca will not be attending. There was an incident within the infirmary that required their attention. Yuupiecca still remains in bed,” Klauna told the others before sitting down on a chair with a disinterested face.
As always, she was only there for formalities.
She took a look at a certain person of interest. Cera. Klauna could see her baggy red eyes, but her face stern as ever. The first few days, she was rather devastated, but it seemed that she had made quite the recovery. There were still remnants of her grief in her face, however, Klauna could see a newfound determination in it as well.
What had caused such a change in Cera? Klauna wondered but couldn’t bother to think further, it was too tiresome.
“Then let us begin with the meeting,” Kazakiel called out to the others.
The sound of a cork being popped out of a bottle was heard as Klauna took a sip from the bottle. The fort had supplies of liquor within their stash. It wasn’t much and the quality wasn’t that great. It was definitely low-grade liquor. Not a problem for Klauna however. She took whatever she could get.
The others only have a complicated expression on their face. Harbin was not there to confiscate the liquor from her, and the others did not know what to do in this situation. At the end of it, Kazakiel just went on with the meeting.
“We found a note in one of the chambers. It’s most likely to be a letter from royalty. The room that we found the letter in only confirms it. It was a very decorated room," Captain Kazakiel spoke.
Everyone nodded in understanding. Everyone except Klauna, who was drinking away, showing great disinterest to the meeting at hand.
“It seemed to be a letter from a son to a father. Roughly it was a letter that spoke of a great victory over the Ak’hims to the south and that three armies are on their way to the fort. The letter then informs the human recipient to survive for as long as they could. The letter mentions Arcadia. It’s about three weeks travel to Fort Kron.”
“Three Armies you say? On their way here?” Cera asked.
“That’s what it says in the letter. I cannot be sure if it is true or not. I have scouts patrolling the outskirts of the fort right now. If the letter is true, then I believe we don’t have much time left until they arrive,” Kazakiel responded.
“If they are really coming for it, then we’ve got to secure the fort,” A demon said out.
“How much more can we secure the fort? There isn’t enough time," another demon spoke out.
“If it’s time, then we can set up an ambush along their travel path. We could delay the humans,” Blackmask suggested.
“How about reinforcement? What did Command say, Vice General Cera?” The Watchtower Warrior asked.
“Command… mentioned the same as before. That they are unable to provide any supplies. A letter from the Demon Lord has arrived as well. We are to secure the fort and move on to claim the next territory. The enemy’s capital if we can,” Cera clenched her fist as she told the others about the instructions from the demon lord.
“To strike the capital…? With these numbers…”
“Orders are orders. I’m not sure what to make of it either,” Cera said.
“We’ll be surrounded in an instant…” A demon replied.
Klauna was rather curious about the whole meeting. The officers were actually discussing instead of rambunctiously agreeing to the Demon Lord's order. It seemed that the demons were unable to decide on a set decision. They looked lost and confused. Not knowing what to do. It was then that Klauna noticed that everyone was staring at her. She tilted her head in response.
“What about you Captain Klauna? What should we do? Move on? Hold the fort?” One of the demons asked her. The others nodded and waited for her response.
Truth be told, Klauna was surprised that they would actually ask for her opinion. Whatever happened to her being a lowly Analyst or demons saying that she’s deluded or something. It’s not like she was even listening to the whole meeting. She didn’t really know what they were talking about.
Still, she had to answer something.
She took another sip from the bottle before replying. “That’s a dumb question. What can we expect to do with these numbers? Secure the fort? With what? Do you honestly think we have enough men to defend all the walls? No way it’s happening.”
The demons remained silent. Not expecting her answer.
“The most logical move is to retreat and go back to demon territory, we can reinforce our numbers and supplies there. If we want to survive then we take whatever we can from the fort and go back,“ Klauna continued.
“But… the Demon Lord’s orders…” a demon in the room asked.
“Screw her orders. She’s delusional if she thinks we could carry it out. Lionel’s dead anyway. We aren’t forced to follow his orders anymore,” Klauna said in a harsh tone before gulping down the bottle of liquor.
The captains looked at each other and nodded.
“Then we leave. Our orders are to prepare whatever we could and leave the fort into demon territory. We reconvene again once preparations are done.” Cera said to the others and everyone gave a salute before leaving the room, leaving Klauna alone to drink in peace.
‘Wow, they actually followed my suggestion.’ Klauna thought to herself. Curious about why the hard-headed demons would follow her suggestions so easily.