Chapter 24: Subordinates and Respect
“Ow ow ow ow…” Yuupiecca let out a cry.
“Don’t be such a baby; you are a man are you not?” Medica said to him as she continued to apply a sort of gel on his right hand.
Yuupiecca clicked his tongue at Medica.
“I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that,” Medica replied in a passive-aggressive tone.
Due to a recent accident that left severe burn marks on his right arm, Yuupiecca was currently in a triage tent undergoing treatment from Medica. It was mid-afternoon and lots of people could be seen walking around the tent for their break. Yuupiecca could spot a few new recruits having lunch with the medical Succours. It seemed that they suffered a few ‘accidents’ to come here to purposely meet the handsome and beautiful Succours.
Yuupiecca made a mental note to himself to have a chat with these people. They were, after all, going to be under him. Best to get things sorted out.
“How did you even get this badly injured in the first place? Are the other crests picking on you? Please let me know so I can help,” Medica asked with a worried face. Her eyes never look away from the injuries though.
“What do you take me for? A kid?” Yuupiecca let out a sigh. “It’s because of the experiments with the Grimoire.”
“Yeah, we were experimenting on the things we can and cannot do with the Grimoire. It was very hard to work on it since Harbin is always holding it close to her and will not let go of the book. I told her to let me try it for a few experiments. I wanted to see if I can use the book to cast a-arghh!” Yuupiecca paused explaining the circumstances to Medica, his face wincing at the pain in his right arm.
Medica could roughly figure out what happened but decided to ask anyway. “...what happened?”
“...Harbin did warn me that the Grimoire chooses its wielder. I always thought it meant that I can’t use the Grimoire. I didn’t think such a result would happen,”
Yuupiecca looked at his right arm. “The magic flow backfired right back to me as I tried to cast the spell.”
“I see…” Medica replied before grabbing a roll of bandages.
“This is pretty severe; It will take a few weeks to heal. I’m also afraid to tell you that it will leave some scars for a very long time.” Medica started to wrap Yuupiecca’s right arm.
“Well… at least I didn’t lose my arm.”
“And you should be grateful. Do exercise more caution when dealing with the relics.”
“Yeah… I get that now.”
As Medica was bandaging Yuupiecca’s arm, he took another look at the tent. Other than the new recruits having their romantic time with the Succours, Yuupiecca could see one Succour, a wingless one, just sitting down on a bed near the corner hugging her knees. She covered herself with rolls of blankets and just stared blankly at a wall. Next to her was a tray of meals that was untouched. Her soft supple beautiful and curvature body now looks so thin. Her long beautiful red hair now cut to a shorter more manageable shoulder-length hair. The person sitting down there was a far cry of the person she used to be.
It was Scuttlelinaria.
Medica who had finished wrapping up Yuupiecca’s arm then saw that he was looking elsewhere and followed his eyesight. A sorrowful look could be seen on Medica as she witnesses the shell of the person that was Scuttelinaria.
“Have she been like that the entire time…?” Yuupiecca asked.
“Umu, ever since the day where General Klauna dragged her out of that room. She remained like that all the way to Prashyufa.”
“She looks like she’s going to starve to death…”
“Just leave her be. When she gets too hungry, she’ll eat her food.”
“Are you sure you want to leave her like that? Maybe one day she’ll just decide that it’s not worth it and starve herself to death.”
“...There is nothing I can do for her. All I can do is just stay by her side.”
The two share a moment of silence as they continue to watch over Lina.
“You really care about her huh,” Yuupiecca commented.
Medica let off a small chuckle. “I and the other Succours owe it to her.”
“Back when I was just learning to be a medical apprentice, I would always get picked on by the other Succours and the other crest. You know how I am not like the others right? I don’t really like wearing revealing clothing and all that stuff. Treating people is my passion. Glamour only gets in the way.”
“I will be lying if I said I wasn’t the least pressured or sad at the fact. Lord Lina was the one who came into my life and told me that it’s okay to be who you are. She silenced the other people and told them that if they want to get to me, they will have to get through her.”
Yuupiecca had a dumbfounded expression when he heard this. “Huh? Are we talking about the same Lina here?”
“Ufufu, yeah. The same Lord Lina that we are looking at right now. Despite how she acts, she cares a lot for her subordinates. We all owe her some sort of debt. It's why we followed her all the way into the army.”
Medica then let out another sorrowful look. “I only wish... there was more of that Lord Lina. That is the Lord Lina that I want to show to everyone. Not that insufferable slut or the miserable one over there…”
“That’s quite the tall story there… It’s hard to believe.”
“Believe what you want. I’m not giving up on her. She was there for me, now it’s my turn to be there for her,” Medica said with a small smile.
“Hmmm,” Yuupiecca gave a hum before standing up and walking over to the Succour.
“Eh? Where are you going, Yuupiecca?”
Yuupiecca just ignored Medica and continued walking. He soon stood right in front of Lina, blocking her view of the wall. Lina’s eyes rolled upwards to see the figure in front of him. Yuupiecca and Lina’s eyes met. The two just stared at each other for what felt like a minute.
“What?” Lina asked the Analyst.
‘So she’s not completely gone yet.’ Yuupiecca thought to himself.
“I like you with short hair better. But maybe you could tie it up with some hairpins or something. Also, eat something, You look even worse than a fat person.” Yuupiecca said to Lina with a blunt tone.
“... go away.” Lina replied before covering herself further with the blankets.
Yuupiecca gave her a shrug before leaving the area.
* * * * *
From atop a large watchtower overseeing the entire citadel was Klauna, Cera and Harbin, just looking at the small tiny Ak’hims below them as they go about their life. Other than the citizens, Klauna could see the remnants of twelve armies making their way to the Plains of Fate. A large gate was held open as thousands and thousands of soldiers made their way out of Prashyufa.
Klauna then focussed her attention on the three armies that remained in the area. Each army is about three thousand men strong— the elites of the armies, the cream of the crop. They wore a slightly blacker jacket than the usual army uniform so they are easy to spot. They could be seen reinforcing Prashyufa’s walls and standing by for further actions.
“The first to the third army looks like they aren’t going to the plains huh,” Harbin commented.
“It seems so,” Klauna replied.
“I wonder why? They are the strongest of the Ak’hims, why aren’t they participating in the fight?” Cera asked.
“Why should they? Like me, they probably saw the defeat and don’t want to get involved with the battle. It’s a waste of men,” Klauna answered.
“Even though they are going against the Demon Lord’s orders?”
“Sylendri doesn’t have as much control over the kingdom as she thinks she has. The problem with ruling with strength is that your control is limited when there is someone else who can challenge your power. I suspect that there were other generals who fought back against her. Someone that the trash cannot coerce with force,”
“... Lord Leida…” Cera muttered as she understood the explanation given to her.
“What about the fishes?” Harbin asked as she pointed at a small inbuilt lake within the Citadel.
Thousands of Merpeople could be seen swimming within it— with a few hundred outside on the grounds flopping around in preparation for something. They wore the standard military uniform over their human top parts but left their bottom fish part to expose as they flop around the encampment.
The Merpeople were not Ak’hims but one of the few races that live with the demons in the Northern Demon Kingdom— an alliance of sorts. They are a community of people who have their own traditions and way of life. The First Demon Lord took them in as refugees when their lands were overrun by the aquatic sea monsters and when the humans hunted them for food. Merpeople tears and meat were a delicacy among the humans who don’t see them as living creatures but rather monsters.
There were also a few other races within the kingdom that are not Ak’hims. The Lamias and the Minotaurs. They live within the kingdom with the same principle as the others. Refuges integrated into the kingdom from the era of the First Demon Lord.
“What about the fishes?” Klauna asked.
“...No… it’s just that they aren’t going with the rest of the armies as well. I was just wondering,” Harbin said.
“I don’t know. They probably came to the same conclusion as the others. I don’t know everything alright.”
“What about us then? Why aren’t we standing by the citadel and fortifying the place as well? Why are we going out there together with the rest of the armies? Why are we following the Demon Lord’s orders?” Cera asked a bunch of questions to Klauna. Not understanding about their current preparations.
“Yes, we are moving out to the fated plains. But not under her orders or her tactics. We are doing it our own way with our own goals,” Klauna replied.
“But why risk the lives of our men? If they are going to end up in absolute defeat, then why not just stay here, why bother fighting with them?”
“A war is more than just a battle Cera. I’m not about sending my trusted subordinates to death as well.” Klauna said before leaving the area.
Harbin and Cera nodded to each other before following her out of the massive tower. A little bit fearful of the upcoming battle.
“How long until we can leave?” Klauna asked as she walked down the spiral stairs.
“We have a few more complications that need to be sorted. Then we can move out.” Cera replied.
“The recruits have yet to be integrated fully. The non Analysts. Kazakiel and the other captains are wondering where to put them within the army.”
“If they can’t find a place then put them under me. We got no time. Tell them to meet me after this, I’ll brief them myself.”
“What about the other things? You mentioned complications?”
“...It’s about Captain Lina. She’s in no shape to fight, and... Some of the Succours will not leave her alone.”
“...” Klauna gave no response.
She had forgotten that her underlings were loyal to her. From three hundred Succours, at least two hundred of them were loyal followers of her. It’s not like they were openly defiant of Klauna or anything. They respect and follow Klauna’s orders, but if they have to choose, they would stay with Lina. In a way, she now understood what Lionel was feeling back then. The Succours would rather listen to Lina than the Klauna’s orders. Just like how the Analyst would rather listen to Klauna than Lionel.
“What do we do, Lord Klauna?” Harbin asked.
“...I’ll speak with Medica and the other Succours later. If they cannot, then we go without them. Perhaps I’ll just leave a small detachment here instead.”
“Got it, I’ll let Medica know about this later,” Harbin replied.
“By the way, Harbin. I need a favour from you," Klauna turned around and looked at Harbin in the eyes.
“Yes?” Harbin stood firm and stared back with confidence in her eyes, waiting for Klauna’s orders.
“I’m feeling a bit parched, could you pass me back the bottle?” Klauna looked at the bottle within Harbin’s hand.
Harbin let out a cute laugh at Klauna. With a big smile on her face. A pure smile that could make other’s melt.
‘It was worth a try.’ Klauna thought to herself. Perhaps Klauna doesn’t have as much loyalty and respect from her subordinates as she thought?