At the Imperial Army Campground, brilliantly illuminated by campfires, a war council was being conducted to decide their plan to capture Madros. The foremost specialists in every field were mustered full force around the commandant of the First Corps, the first prince of the Empire, Alexander Keyland.
Alexander was clothed in luxurious war garments, and a sword laid with excessive ornaments was tucked into his waist. He also had gold hair, a symbol of the Keyland family, inherited from his father. The Keyland family heavily valued, almost fanatically, that gold color. If things went wrong and the child was born with silver hair even, his right to the throne would likely be revoked, even if he was the eldest son.
If Alexander inherited the imperial throne, these elite commissioned officers would probably become his advisors. They were all without exception personally selected by Alexander, and they were men who excelled in ingenuity and valor.
But right now, everyone had heavy faces, making one feel the grave situation.
“What happened to the provisions supply?”
Alexander gently asked, while tapping his finger on the desk.
“Sir-, the fields have all been reduced to ashes, and the houses in the farming villages are completely empty. Poison has been thrown into the wells currently. Those guys have been thorough in their scorched earth tactics.”
“So it is extremely hard to raise supplies locally. We must request them to be transported from our home country.”
“Commando units of the Kingdom’s Army have repeatedly raided our Army’s conveys. If we split soldiers to their defense, it might hinder our supply train hereafter I believe.”
Their supply line had stretched out accompanying their invasion of Kingdom territory. Kerry’s Fifth Army had switched to guerrilla warfare and were meticulously obstructing their supply line repeatedly. Currently, the amount of supplies that reached the front lines safely wasn’t even 50%. At this rate, there would probably be a serious deficiency of provisions.
“……Your Excellency. We have captured the First Fort. What do you think of waiting here until the spring season? The transportation of goods will progress, and our marching speed will also increase. There is no need for us to hastily attack any further.”
One general proposed to halt the march. It was an opinion laced with reason, and Alexander also inwardly thought that the best course of action.
But, he was in a situation where he couldn’t stop. He had been given an overriding order: “Capture Madros at all costs.”
It was an order from his father, and at the same time, the Emperor, Alf Keyland. As he grew older, he became more incapable of flexible thinking. Even so, until he gained the throne, Alexander couldn’t incur his displeasure.
“If I could, I wouldn’t have made a campaign in this season from the beginning. His Majesty commands that we make Madros fall as soon as possible. Our focus should be on how we break through the enemy line of forts and sink Madros. Gentlemen, rack your brains for me.”
Declared Alexander in a strong tone. Responding to him, Lieutenant General Gustav, commander of the Seventh Corps, remarked.
“To have a large army of 100,000 men march any further is an act of suicide. I believe we ought to put the ordinary soldiers on defense of the First Fort and escort for the supply convoys. 50,000 elite of the First and Seventh Corps will launch a concentrated attack on one point of the line of forts, break through, and make Madros Castle fall in one fell swoop. This is best I believe.”
A slender and paranoid man, Gustav was the lord of the Wealth Area, and at the same time, he also led the Seventh Corps. He had crossed swords with Kerry who governed Madros many times in small skirmishes.
He was deeply distrustful, and a man who exemplified discretion and composure. He was fundamentally indifferent to strangers, but the soldiers born in Wealth held him in high esteem. He continued to fight and live only for the protection and growth of Wealth.
Soldiers with a low amount of training would be put on standby, and despite being on a conquest, they would continue to march with only the necessary numbers. In this situation where provisions were insecure, Gustav’s opinion was appropriate.
The Fifth Army of the Kingdom had roughly the same numbers on defense of their fort line, but they had to scatter their defenses.
The Imperial Army had the privilege of choosing their course of march. Where would they aim? That question would decide Madros’s fate for certain.
“What a pragmatic plan that is. Without food, we cannot fight, and we cannot stupidly advance. Afterwards, all we can do is pray for good luck. Luckily, I am an ardent adherent to the Star Church. We certainly will have divine protection.”
Alexander gave a cynical-feeling, sarcastic laugh and drained his glass of water. He didn’t believe in the thing called religion. But saying that aloud was akin to heresy, so he just didn’t say it. Being able to believe brought rank, money, and power. If he could be saved just by believing, that wasn’t very fun. That’s why he aimed for the throne that possessed everything. He made maximum use of the good fortune that he was born as the eldest son, and he devoted himself to study with no rest until he almost bled.
That had been recognized, and he was now one step away from his prize, the throne. He could not fail here. There were countless people aiming for the throne.
The only one he could relax his guard around was his real younger brother, Alan, who had quickly withdrawn from the competition to earn the throne and had ran away from the Imperial Capital to join the Liberation Army. Once Alexander acquired the throne, he intended on calling him back and giving him an important managerial position.
Now that the rough plan had been decided, they moved to deliberating how to capture their most important target when a messenger rushed in from the campgrounds.The bodyguards in heavy armor around them crossed their long spears, hindering the messenger’s path. Alexander ordered them to let him through. The messenger was aware he was being impolite yet he entered in. It was probably an urgent report, Alexander predicted.
“We’re in the middle of a war council. What’s the matter?”
“Sir-, A cavalry unit from the Kingdom’s Army has come to surrender. They number 2,000 riders. The commander is a female officer, and she has come forward wanting an audience with Your Highness. “
“Hohh? Isn’t that good news. Don’t you think so? Gustav.”
Interested, Alexander’s lips warped, and he addressed Gustav. He knew that Gustav held feelings more intense than hatred towards Madrosians. He was testing what reaction Gustav would have.
Gustav frowned. Madrosians would never obey the Empire. If they untactfully allowed an audience, that might pose a danger to Alexander.
“……Is that female commander you spoke of a Madrosian?”
“No, she says she is from the Central Border Zone. Also, she has brought someone related to the enemy commandant, Darus Madros.”
“Darus you said!? Isn’t he the son of that vexing Kerry!?”
“It’s rude to keep them waiting too long wouldn’t you say? How about we meet them immediately? A female officer leading cavalry of the Kingdom’s Army huh. How truly amusing.”
“……Take their weapons. Bring only the female officer, and impose a strict surveillance. We must pay maximum caution so there’s not even a one-in-a-million chance of something befalling His Highness. Absolutely do not take your eyes off their behavior.”
Gustav stringently ordered the bodyguards. They saluted and began implementing his orders. If they allowed injury to the Prince, they would lose their lives.
“How prone to worrying you are, Gustav. You won’t live a long life like that.”
“It is thanks to this personality that I have consequently lived this long. If she appears suspicious, I will show her no mercy. Treat her as an enemy when you meet with her, Your Highness. Behind her smile may be concealed a sword.”
“You don’t have to tell me, I know. This kind of thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth.”
Alexander expressionlessly nodded. Behind smiles lurked desire… and treachery. He had been in contact with such dirty feelings since he was young. He had faith in his ability to smell out schemes.
While surrounded by layers of armed guards, Schera was brought to the tent Alexander was in. Spearheads were pointed towards her, and if she made any suspicious movements, she would be immediately skewered. While disinterestedly looking at them, Schera was walked with her scythe carried on her shoulder.
In front of the tent, she was stopped by two bodyguards wearing splendorous armor. It was unrealistic to be admitted through while bearing a weapon.
“Halt. Ahead of us is a tent for those of a particular high class. You are not allowed through while holding such a dangerous thing.”
“Should I give this to you, I wonder?”
Schera tapped the scythe on her shoulder. A bodyguard nodded with an unpleasant expression.
“……That scythe will be put under my custody. Don’t make any impolite pretenses.”
The bodyguard went to roughly take the scythe, but at its disproportionate weight, he unintentionally dropped it. The large scythe was heavier than it looked, such that even lifting it was arduous. He couldn’t believe that the small figured girl in front of his eyes had been carrying it. She had been easily carrying it on her shoulder.
“Fufu-, you okay? It seems like your hands are shaking though. You shouldn’t push yourself unreasonably. You’ll whittle down your soul.”
“—-Y, your concern is unnecessary. Come, you should enter quickly. His Highness is waiting.”
When Schera entered inside the tent, in its center was a gold-haired, young man sitting in a seat. To his sides stood merely ten men, all decorated imposingly with medals. Then, surrounding the area were tensed bodyguards with glittering eyes. Of course, they were stationed behind Schera too.
Schera boldly walked inside all of them and reverentially kneeled at place slightly distanced in front of the young man.
“You’re the one who wanted to join our Imperial Army? You seem surprisingly young though.”
“Sir-, I am called Schera Zade. Rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Kingdom. I command cavalry. I have come at this occasion wanting to be a member of the Imperial Army.”
Alexander looked down at Schera. At a glance, she appeared to just be a normal little girl wearing armor. But, there was no way such a person could command 2,000 cavalry. Above all else, despite coming to this place, basically hostile territory, he perceived no manner of unrest. It seemed she possessed considerable mental strength.
“Despite having the body of a woman, you acquired the position of Lieutenant Colonel at that age. It’s apparent you are quite capable. I’d like you to tell me just what about the Kingdom dissatisfies you. I’d like to hear your reason for surrender.”
“My activities were not properly valued, and also, the Kingdom has no future. Its interior is rotten, and the higher-ups only think about themselves. They are not worth fighting for and risking my life. I also lead 2,000 soldiers. I only want to avoid dying futilely.”
Schera bitterly criticized the Kingdom. Then, she put her hand in her breast pocket and took out a letter sealed with wax. She handed it over to a bodyguard lingering next to her.
Alexander took the letter and asked,
“……This letter is?”
“From my superior officer, Yalder. He is currently serving as the defense commander for the Second Fort. If his rank and position is guaranteed, he will vacate the Fort and promptly surrender. The flames rising from the Second Fort serves as proof of that.”
The generals were astir. If that was true, this was an unparallelled opportunity. Alexander broke the seal and scanned the letter.
[I have received an insult like no other with no regard to how I have loyally served, and therefore, I would like to surrender. If you can guarantee my position and the lives of the castle garrison, I promise to throw open the gates of the Second Fort without resistance.
In a location slightly eastward of the Fort is concealed the Kingdom’s food storehouse. An attack there with a simultaneous attack on Madros Castle could inflict catastrophic damage.], it said. A detailed map had even been courteously attached.
Alexander handed the letter over to the generals, and the inside of the tent instantly erupted in excitement.
“Hold on-! It’s still early to take this as fact. There are things we ought to confirm with this officer. Messenger soldier! Bring Darus and several prisoners from the Kingdom’s Army-!”
Thundered Gustav at the excited generals. It was still too early to take this as truth. If this was a fake surrender, they would be the ones to fall into a predicament.
Gustav did not trust Schera at all. There was no emotion in this girl’s words. It wouldn’t be strange for her to attack them the next moment. Indeed, he couldn’t feel any humanity in her. Even when he glared at her with a gaze laden with killing intent, she calmly eluded it off.
It wasn’t something a young, female soldier should be able to brush off. Gustav was cautious.
Alexander was silently watching the chain of events unfold. Perfect timing to ascertain her sincerity, he thought.
“Lieutenant Colonel, excuse this discourtesy, but there is first something I’d like to check. On your breast, is there a tattoo of a beast?”
Enquired Gustav to Schera. There was no better proof of a Madrosian. If there was a tattoo on her breast, any more conversation was unnecessary. He would immediately kill her.
Schera silently unfastened her chestplate and slowly exposed her breast. There was no wound on her withered body, let alone a tattoo.
“Is this enough? If you like, I will take everything off.”
The generals averted their eyes from Schera’s body. As one would expect, fixedly staring would go against chivalry.
“……I apologize for Gustav’s discourtesy, Lieutenant Colonel. I understand you are not a person of Madros. Gustav, do you agree?”
“Sir-, I, Gustav, had just thought too much it seems. Lieutenant Colonel, forgive my distrust.”
When Alexander apologized, Schera said nothing and expressionlessly fixed her appearance. She showed no feelings of shame or anger.
Before long, Darus, bound with rope and gagged, and several prisoners of war were brought into the tent.
When the bodyguards took off the gags, Darus turned around and spewed profanity towards Schera. He had been attached to the Second Fort, but Schera had assaulted him out of nowhere, and in the end, he was taken captive.
“Schera! What is the meaning of this-!!? Are you betraying the Kingdom that promoted you from a private to Lieutenant Colonel!!? You filthy traitor! It’s because of ungrateful whores like you that we’re in this hell-!”
“You’re in front of His Highness. Restrain your mouth, you son of a bitch.”
“You pig of Wealth! My father with exterminate your family-, nay, he’ll butcher all of you Wealthians-!”
“Silence-! You dog of Madros-!!”
Gustav kicked his face with all his strength, and Darus collapsed while coughing blood. He rose and started cursing Alexander this time, so he was gagged again. The other prisoners were similarly forced to kneel, and their heads pushed to the ground.
“—-Your Highness. How about leaving their execution here to Lieutenant Colonel Schera? We’ll make this a chance for her to demonstrate her loyalty to the Empire. Lieutenant Colonel, of course you won’t say no right?”
“Good thinking Gustav. Lieutenant Colonel Schera, this is your first mission. Execute these vermin. These are shameless men who once surrendered and then conspired to desert again. I’d like you to immediately judge them. I don’t mind if you do it right here, right now. Of course, you can do it?”
Alexander brutally smiled as he ordered her. He then exchanged looks with his bodyguards and made them enter battle readiness. This was to restrain Schera if she said no.
“Understood. My weapon is under custody, so is it okay if I asked it to be returned?”
Schera with not second of hesitation consented and stood up. When Alexander ordered the weapon to be returned, two bodyguards appeared, carrying her large scythe, and out of breath, they handed it to Schera.
After flourishing her scythe like a dance, Schera place its edge on Darus’s neck. Its crooked, naked blade caught the light from the braziers, and it let off a dull shine. After mercilessly smiling, she pronounced the death verdict.
“Captain Darus. Nothing against you. But you don’t have to worry. I’ll make it quick and painless. I’ve gotten quite used to it.”
Darus raised a deathly scream, begging her to stop.
Alexander, judging that Schera was serious, reconsidered this performance. This man, Darus, was the son of the enemy commander, and he still had usable value. He could be used as a bargaining chip. Even if they would execute him, it would be more effective to do it in a way to show the enemy. Killing him here would definitely be a waste. Alexander quickly came to a conclusion.
“Wait, Lieutenant Colonel Schera. We’ll put off this man’s execution for the time being. I’ve forgotten that there are still things I want to ask him. Execute the other prisoners; I don’t mind. Don’t worry about the cleanup. Do what you want with them.”
Alexander made a motion of cutting his own neck and pushed for their execution. He didn’t dislike seeing blood.
“I won’t run away again, so forgive me!”
“S, spare me!”
The prisoners prostrated themselves and begged for their lives. Schera slowly shook her head, side to side.
“Sorry. But, humans have to accept their fates.”
After walking away from Darus, she relentlessly harvested five heads with flowing motions. The lives of the prisoners were cut without time to scream. The direction of the tent’s entrance was dyed with red blood spray. Darus was lost for words as he silently watched.
Had Alexander not stopped her, Darus’s head would’ve certainly been separated from his body.
Seeing her responses and actions so far, Alexander more or less had a grasp of Schera’s nature. This girl was what he called the mercenary type of human. They were humans who were agreeable if one properly valued their workings, or if one gave them what they seeked. There was no room for ideology or honor. As long as their toll was paid, they would never turn traitor. When it wasn’t, they could easily abandon their homeland and kill their brethren.
From Alexander’s point of view, they were good people, extremely easy to deal with and easy to use. And seeing her handling of the scythe, it appeared she also came with decent strength. Enough to even make his bodyguards pale it seemed.
And what captured his interest above all was her form and expression when killing. Alexander was just slightly fascinated with Death. She wasn’t a beauty by any means, but, she left a stronger impression on him than any of the women at the Imperial Palace.
“Gustav. I believe she has shown her loyalty to the Empire, but what do you think?”
“……Sir, she certainly has. She will become a reliable ally for us afterwards I believe.”
Gustav nodded with a grim expression. He didn’t completely agree, but there were no more suspicions to be proved. She had killed the Kingdom’s soldiers as commanded. If she was someone who still had attachment towards the Kingdom, she would show a little hesitation. There was certainly not a shred of it.
“Your seat now smells of fresh blood, but we give you our heartfelt welcome, Lieutenant Colonel Schera. I will give you your instructions later, so take a break today. If you need food, you can visit our supply wagons.”
“Sir-, thank you very much. I swear unchanging loyalty. Then, please excuse me.”
Schera saluted, and left the tent afterwards. Red fluid was dripping from the scythe in her hands.
“Quite an interesting woman. It seems she’s somehow quite skillful too. Depending on her deeds, she might be very useful. There appear parts of her that don’t seem human, but she’ll become a good piece if we handle her.”
“……Your Highness. That woman is dangerous. Please don’t get too deeply involved with her. I cannot figure out what she is thinking.”
“Uncertain as always, huh, Gustav. As long as we give her money, status, and a place to work, it’ll be fine. She’s that kind of person. I don’t think you’ll be able to understand though.”
“……I am just making sure. I believe we should separate Lieutenant Colonel Schera’s cavalry and disperse them in their appointments.”
He would split 2,000 cavalry into four groups and attach them to each of the Empire’s cavalry. Even if they were planning something, the damage would be fewer with fewer numbers, and above that, they probably wouldn’t be able to link up with each other. He also hadn’t forgotten to order the scout unit to search around.
“Do as you please, I don’t mind. However, make sure not to injure the Lieutenant Colonel’s mood. Oh right, hand her a reward for giving us valuable information and bringing heads of the Kingdom’s soldiers. I don’t want her to believe that our generosity is mediocre.”
Ordered Alexander, and one staff officer nodded.
“By your will. I will immediately have it arranged.”
“Good, then let us concentrate on the operation again. From hereon is possibly the turning point of the expedition.”
At Alexander’s urging, the generals once again contributed their opinions while staring at the map Schera brought. Things were different than before–their morale had risen considerably.
(……I don’t doubt His Highness’s eyes, but that woman definitely cannot be trusted.)
Gustav decided to keep her under further surveillance. This would be unprecedented so far, but just as he thought, he couldn’t shake this nasty feeling. He attached Second Lieutenant Karl to Schera and ordered him to report if there were any suspicious movements.
The man Karl wasn’t known for his cleverness, but he would reliably carry out his orders. This kind of duty was the most suitable for him.
Imperial Army Campgrounds.
The soldiers were resting their bodies, and everyone was amusing themselves with chatter and food. The cold was harsh, and open air fires were placed all throughout the campgrounds for warmth.
Scarce provisions and unsparing coldness–these two sapped the morale of the Imperial soldiers. They hadn’t yet reached a point of breakdown, but the situation was serious.
Schera headed with quick steps to the tent where her own cavalry was. If she didn’t hurry, she wouldn’t get any food. Before long, she saw Katarina, who was beside a campfire studying their surroundings. It seemed Katarina also noticed her, and she walked up to Schera.
“Everything go well? Lieutenant Colonel.”
“Yeah. No problems. More importantly, what are you eating?”
She turned her eyes towards the soldiers stuffing themselves. It was some kind of potato, and they were smearing something on it and eating it. The light from the campfire shone on it, and it looked really delicious. Schera swallowed her saliva.
“……Distributed rations. Tonight is bread and potato.”
Katarina knitted her brow and responded. Why she wasn’t making a happy expression was simple. These potatoes weren’t delicious.
“I wonder if there’s some for me. I almost can’t bear it anymore.”
“I will go get some right away. Please wait for a moment.”
Just when Katarina was about to go to the supply wagon, a young man called out to them–while holding bread and potato in both of his hands.
“That will not be necessary. I have brought the Lieutenant Colonel’s share. Please help yourself sir.”
While smiling civilly, he handed them over to Schera. With a dubious expression, Katarina asked him,
“Please excuse my late introduction. My name is Karl. My rank is Second Lieutenant. I have received orders from His Excellency Gustav to function in your unit. If there is anything you may need, whatever it may be, please bring it up with me. I strive to be your strength.”
He turned towards Schera and saluted.
“Oh. Well then, I look forward to our relationship from here out. I will be eating for now, so please let me hear the story later.”
She quickly bit into the bread, and stuck the potato on a stick and began toasting it over the fire. A savory aroma tickled Schera’s nose. It gradually began to char, and the heat permeated inside.
“It is best to smear on cheese or butter when eating it. Allow me to give an introduction. The specialty of our Wealth, this Wealth potato has much nutrition and can be harvested in large quantities, though the taste is to be desired more or less. There is nothing perfect in this world.”
The Wealth potato was strong against disease and bugs, it had high nutritional value, and it could offer large yields. As long as it was not during the winter, it could be cultivated at any location. They had brought large quantities of it as provisions for this expedition. The provisions being transported here were also for the most part these potatoes. It was easy to preserve and extraordinarily cheap.
However, it wasn’t very popular with the soldiers. It had poor consistency, and above that, it was bitter. Not only that, they had this potato every day. This was also one the reasons for dropping morale. Their higher-ups, having no concern to the soldiers’ misgivings, planned to plant more in occupied territory. In the near future, they would probably be able to see a disgusting amount of potato fields.
“As long as it’s edible, I won’t complain. It really isn’t delicious though.”
“Indeed so. Those are words I wish the other soldiers could hear.”
“Complaining is proof of luxury. Driven to a corner, they wouldn’t say such things.”
“What a wise saying. I, Karl, show my admiration. ……Well then, I will end the day here, please excuse me. I beg your pardon, but there are preparations needed to be done. I would like to work with you starting tomorrow.”
He saluted and left Schera.
Karl had been smiling, but his eyes couldn’t conceal his suspicion. It was clear from a glance that he was there to observe them. ‘I have my eyes on you so don’t try anything strange,’ is what his vigilance meant, thought Katarina. They would need to take countermeasures against Karl later on.
Disinterestedly watching him go, Schera palmed the well-baked potato. While enduring the heat, she broke it in half, and steam wafted up. Katarina lathered butter on the potato for her, like a mother would for a child.
Schera opened her mouth wide and devoured even the potato skin. It had texture, and the taste of butter mixed with the bitter taste, creating an indescribable taste. The guys who said this was unappetizing were spoiled beyond belief. This would be classified as tasty enough.
Everyone of Schera’s unit was watching the sight pleasantly. They wouldn’t ever get tired of watching their superior officer enjoying herself eating.
“How is it? I think the bitter taste is too strong but.”
“It’s good enough. Also, it’s better than grass. There’s nothing more bitter than that. I don’t think I could take grass even if I spread butter on it.”
“……When you talk about eating grass, I start to wonder if you are a Lieutenant Colonel or a horse.”
“Humans… will eat anything when they’re hungry. Be it grass or rotten meat. No one can win against starvation. Still, the only things I won’t eat are humans. Never. Katarina, do you know why I wonder?”
“……I am not quite sure.”
After thinking for a short while, Katarina answered honestly. She hadn’t thought about eating human meat. She didn’t feel guilt when manipulating corpses, but just thinking about eating human flesh gave her reservations. Even if she was starving, she probably wouldn’t speak of it.
“That’s because, I am human. It’s that simple.”
Responded Schera while chewing, with eyes that seemed to be broken somewhere.
Katarina nodded, and then changed the topic afterwards. She swallowed the question she almost reflexively asked.
“Are you… really human?”, would be disrespectful without bounds.
“……What was your impression of the Empire’s generals?”
“They’re altogether smarter than the Kingdom’s. His Highness Alexander is also quite an interesting human. He’ll become a fine Emperor in the future I wonder. Though that has nothing to do with me.”
While carefully licking the butter on her hands, Schera replied indifferently.
The bread and potato didn’t make her full at all. Anything was fine as long as it wasn’t grass, but she still wanted to be full.
“……I, no, we, will accompany you to the very end, Lieutenant Colonel. As you will, please walk your own path.”
Murmured Katarina, lowering her voice. Her words were filled with deep, implied meaning. If Schera wished it, they were fine with joining the Imperial Army, was what Katarina was saying. Each and every one of the cavalrymen also had the same resolution. Their vows of loyalty were not to the Kingdom, but to Schera.
“Thank you. I’m truly happy. Well then, I’ll tell only you something nice.”
Schera drew closer to Katarina while smiling sweetly. Then, she whispered in her ear.
“There are three reasons why I fight. First is to eat. Second is to kill the rebel army as much as I want. The final one… is a secret. I can satisfy all of them fighting for the Kingdom.”
She fought to satiate her appetite. She swung her scythe to clear up her grudge and to obtain food and money. There was no other place to work as wonderful as here.
Moreover, she had made comrades who would eat together with her. With this status quo, Schera was contented.
One day, her three wishes would probably be granted. It wouldn’t be that far in the future.
Katarina was extremely curious about the final one, but she didn’t ask about it. Even if she asked, it seemed she wouldn’t get an answer. The day would come that she would understand eventually, so she was patient.
“……Then, what about the Empire?”
“Fufu-, you probably know without me saying, Katarina. I wonder who’s supporting the rebel army from the shadows? For me, there’s not much difference. Yes, that’s how it is.”
She distanced herself from Katarina and ravenously smiled. The cavalrymen who scrutinized her appearance accurately surmised their commander’s intention.
Silence enveloped the surroundings for a while, with only the sounds of the bonfire crackling resonating. Schera was toasting the rest of her bread and enjoying a long meal.
Suddenly, something cold fell on Schera’s cheek. Soldiers of other units also looked up towards the night sky and sighed deeply.
“So it’s finally falling.”
“Ahh, it’s so cold. Don’t do this to me!”
“Bring more booze! And also a blanket!”
“Get it yourself idiot!”
“-Dammit. I didn’t come to pass the winter in a place like this!”
Disregarding the noisy surroundings, Schera was enjoying the rare feeling of snow.
The cavalrymen wrapped themselves in pieces of cloth to protect their bodies from the cold. Katarina also took out her mantle, and she covered Schera.
“It seems the march will be quite severe.”
“But, it’ll surely be fun. It’s white and pretty. It’ll really make red look attractive.”
A white, spread out landscape, with red droplets scattered here and there–while imagining that, Schera tossed the last bit of bread into her mouth.
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