Chapter 8:

CHAPTER 6: THE PRICE OF CONFLICT

The Human Saint is Bored, so I was Summoned to Another World Vol. 4


Not too long after lunch, we set out for the Braunhauer lands. Maddie was happy to leave the royal capital as soon as possible, and the prince, though he was caught off-guard by the Saint’s decision, had no other choice but to send an armed escort delegation led by one of his ministers up to the borders of the territory still under the royal control.Bookmark here

Maddie had specifically stated that she might come back though, in case of another round of talks. Our plan for negotiations would be to talk to the opposing sides first, before setting an opportunity for them to face one another. The Saint would serve as the mediator and then iron out the resulting agreements.Bookmark here

Hopefully, something would positively happen at the end of everything. It’s difficult to travel around, looking at the destroyed landscape wherever you went.Bookmark here

As I’d said earlier, the royal armed escort went with us up to the borders of the royalty-controlled territory. As we went far from the Amaranthine capital, the signs of brewing war became increasingly clear.Bookmark here

Oh my…Maddie, Kuro, look at this!” Lily suddenly called our attention.Bookmark here

“What?”Bookmark here

Upon crossing into rebel-held territory, we encountered several groups of people heading opposite our direction, marching towards the walled city of Amaranth. Their clothes were mostly dirty and tattered, with a good number of them bearing fresh wounds, as if they came from the aftermath of a battle. I immediately noticed the strange expressions on the faces of those people…it’s as if they’d seen and experienced horrible things.Bookmark here

Is it PTSD?Bookmark here

Maddie immediately ordered our convoy to stop, and she quickly got down and dirty to heal the injuries of the people. Lily and the rest of the paladins also followed suit.Bookmark here

“Please get these people to lie down!” Her Holiness’ order to her guards was swift and calm, as if she’d been a veteran for this kind of work. Once this was done, she dealt with the injuries—be it a severed arm, an open wound (lightly dressed in dirty, makeshift bandages), or broken limbs.Bookmark here

With such many people requiring medical attention, I doubted the Saint would be finished soon. She even resorted to casting that huge magic circle we used before in healing King Rambo.Bookmark here

“Kuro, can you fetch the food in our carriage?” Lily asked me, “I’ll go prepare food for these fellows.”Bookmark here

“Right!”Bookmark here

I did just as Lily said. Good thing that we took our time to stock our carriages with food, anticipating that we’d take a while on our journey from the city of Amaranth, to the Braunhauer lands, and vice versa. The only one we left was Jessica, since we determined she might be at odds with the Duke of Braunhauer because of her connection to the royal family.Bookmark here

Nevertheless, like Maddie, Lily was also working hard. Assisted by a few paladins, she prepared food for these people. It wouldn’t take rocket science to see that they were all tired and hungry.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

While the Saint heals the injuries of the people, the Head Maid’s focus is on feeding them. No wonder why they are so close. They complement each other well…Bookmark here

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In the end, though Maddie may be a powerful Saint, soon I noticed her legs were already wobbling; a clear sign her mana was going way below the tolerable levels.Bookmark here

“Hey, Maddie, take a rest!” I told her.Bookmark here

“Just one more.” she replied, “These folks need me…”Bookmark here

“Nope. Listen to me, if you want to help them, then you better take a rest and replenish your strength. You’re still human, though you’re blessed with the power of the gods.”Bookmark here

“But…”Bookmark here

“No.” I firmly stood my ground, “Let others apply the first-aid for a while. You take a rest; I’m sure these fellows would look to you for hope, and the last thing that they’d want is to see their beloved saint die on them.”Bookmark here

“Silly! I won’t die simply because of mana exhaustion.” Maddie jokingly retorted.Bookmark here

“I know. But as your fiancée, I won’t let anything bad happen to you.” I patted her head, “So, sleep tight, and I love you!”Bookmark here

“T-That’s…Kuro’s that’s low! You really know how to make my heart skip a beat, huh?” Caught off-guard by what I said, she teased me. Nevertheless, Maddie pondered on my words. Realizing that she had no other option, she quietly retreated to our carriage to sleep for a bit.Bookmark here

Well, at least she’s listening now…Bookmark here

“Hoh…”Bookmark here

“What?” I asked the Marquise of Monfort when I noticed her giving us ‘strange looks’.Bookmark here

“I’m just impressed how fast you can now convince Her Holiness to listen to you.” she said to me, “Before, she would always work herself to exhaustion, no matter how much we try to convince her to take a break. Now, I could see that she grew a lot when you came Kuro. You have my admiration.”Bookmark here

Oh…thanks!” But well, I did nothing spectacular; I just wanted what was good for Maddie, since I’m her friend and fiancée. And besides, she’s a great soul. It would be only logical for me to support her in any way I could.Bookmark here

Ah anyway, I think the Head Maid is asking for you.” the Marquise of Monfort added.Bookmark here

Hm? Any idea what she wants from me?”Bookmark here

“Just ask the Head Maid.” The Marquise of Monfort had a contorted face; it’s as if she wanted to tell me something, but it’d be best if I learned about it personally.Bookmark here

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We found Lily sitting by the campfire (which she uses for cooking food for the people). There were a handful of high-ranking paladins from the corps, and some refugees as well.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Honestly, from the looks of it, I can tell that something is about to happen.Bookmark here

“Kuro! There you are! How’s Maddie?”Bookmark here

“She’s sleeping for now; I told her to because she’d surely over-exert herself once again.”Bookmark here

“Right…that’s Maddie for you.”Bookmark here

Haha…true.” I couldn’t help but agree, “Anyway, talking about something?”Bookmark here

Ah, yes…” Lily’s voice drifted for a bit, “Actually, I have a favor to ask from you.”Bookmark here

Hm? What is it?”Bookmark here

“Well, as you can see, we’re talking about what happened to these people with us.” the Head Maid explained, “According to them, they came from a village called Janais, west of our position. A group of armed men attacked and pillaged their place earlier, that’s why they’re escaping towards the safety of the capital city.”Bookmark here

“Armed men? Any idea who are those?”Bookmark here

“Sir, we don’t know.” a refugee told me, “But we are almost certain that they are mercenaries in the employ of the nobles. They were hired to bolster the armies of our lord; however, they were an unruly bunch, and our villagers never got along with them.”Bookmark here

“Are these mercenaries had been with you long before we came?”Bookmark here

“Yes sir. If I remember, they came to this land at the start of the last season.”Bookmark here

Start of the last season? If I’m correct, that would be the Season of the Crystal Rain, back from the time when we went to Fen for the Saint’s vacation. Certainly, that’d be an extremely long time. A lot of things happened in-between that time up to now, so it’s possible that these mercenaries got bored with inactivity and went on a rampage.Bookmark here

And I doubt if they are being paid well by their employer. After all, mercenaries only get their money once they go to battle and kill their share of enemies.Bookmark here

“Sir, I beg you. We had a lot of other people we had to leave on the roadside because of their failing strength. As much as we’d want to come back for them, we’re afraid to do it because of the mercenaries. They might go after us.”Bookmark here

Man…that’s fucked up.” I could only say. Well, it’s not a secret that I’ve read about these things in many history books that I encountered, both here and from Earth. Back then, I treated it as ‘history’—it happened, so be it. However, it felt way too different when you’re confronted by the face of those two words: ‘attacked’ and ‘pillaged’. Those children that I saw earlier had a missing arm, or a damaged eye, or that old lady that was bleeding from her shoulders because of a slash of a blunt saber…Bookmark here

I can’t treat them as mere numbers!Bookmark here

Fortunately, Maddie could heal all of them. But I didn’t think she could heal the mental damage those people were inflicted with.Bookmark here

“Well, these folks had been telling us that there were still people lying on the side of this road, a few miles away from here. They say that those were the elderly and children who were too weak, or severely injured, to move.” Lily further explained, “So, I was thinking maybe you could stay here with Maddie for a while. I know how to apply first-aid, so I’m going to come with the Marquise of Monfort to scout the road for other survivors.”Bookmark here

Hmm…actually, if it’s alright with you, why don’t I be the one to join Lady Monfort for the search?”Bookmark here

“Eh?” Both Lily and Monfort looked at me with surprise in their eyes.Bookmark here

“Look, I think it’s the most logical arrangement. The threat of a roaming mercenary band in this area is clear.” I explained, “Now, if we divide our group—with Her Holiness on one side and the search party on the other, the one we should prioritize would be the protection of the Saint, since her safety would’ve to come first. I believe you could hold out on your own and would be best suited to protect Maddie while we search.”Bookmark here

The Marquise of Monfort then said with uncertainty, “Uhh…on second thought, I guess we could manage on our own, Head Maid. Her Holiness taught us how to do basic first-aid, after all.”Bookmark here

“I’m trained in first-aid myself! Back in my world, I’m part of several Red Cross seminars!”Bookmark here

The Marquise of Monfort and the others save for Lily stared at me. The Head Maid was making a ‘shut up’ face. And then, I realized I made a mistake…Bookmark here

“I-I mean, my country. Yes. I’m trained in first-aid to the highest level possible.”Bookmark here

“What’s a red cross?” the Marquise of Monfort asked, “Some weird stuff in your country?”Bookmark here

“Well, yeah. It is weird, but it saves lives.” What I meant by ‘weird’ was the nation-less, race-less, and selfless dedication of that organization in saving lives. By Chersea’s standards and values, its concept would surely be strange. I guess I’d have to explain that to them next time.Bookmark here

“Okay…so what’s your decision, Head Maid?” the Marquise of Monfort eventually delegated the decision to Lily.Bookmark here

“It’s not like we’re sure of going to battle.” I added that point to further convince Lily, “And if it comes to that, I could say I could handle myself if my safety is your concern.”Bookmark here

“Just to reiterate, Kuro…” the Marquise interjected, “Based on what the locals say, the raiding party couldn’t have gone too far just yet.”Bookmark here

Lily remained silent for a few moments. And then, with a sigh, she told us, “Well, I guess we have to go by Kuro’s proposal. I’d remain with the other guards, while Lady Monfort takes a contingent of the Paladin Corps to search for other survivors. Since he also knows first-aid, Kuro would’ve to go with you.”Bookmark here

The Marquise of Monfort and her other companions exchanged doubtful looks. Although they agreed to Lily’s orders and immediately prepared to head out in the end.Bookmark here

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Answer me honestly.”Bookmark here

“W-What?”Bookmark here

The Marquise of Monfort had a sardonic smile on her face, while we’re riding down the road in search of survivors, “Aren’t you too excited to jump into battle to test the skills I taught you?”Bookmark here

I didn’t answer her.Bookmark here

“I see that I’m right on track, eh?Bookmark here

Well, a little. The reason I proposed that arrangement to Lily was influenced mainly because Lily’s more qualified to be with Maddie. She’s more experienced than me in battle, see? She’s the Iron Princess, and I’m sure that the name alone was enough to deter any rampaging mercenary group from attacking them.Bookmark here

And she also had other paladin guards to assist her…not to mention Maddie’s abilities as the saint. Just make sure that she’s awake in time to do battle, that is.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Oh, who am I kidding? Of course, I wanted to test the techniques and skills the Marquise of Monfort taught me. Besides, a battle against mercenaries right now was just a probability; I’d like to experience it first-hand if such an event happened.Bookmark here

There’s no way I can tell when such knowledge will come in handy soon.Bookmark here

“Okay, Kuro. I know you’re excited and all…” the Marquise of Monfort told me, “But since you’re with us right now, let me remind you that once we got involved in a battle, it’s every girl on her own. We’ll be focused on fighting, so you better look for yourself. If you think you’re in danger, run away as fast as you could.”Bookmark here

“You sound like we’re sure of encountering those mercenaries.”Bookmark here

“Well, we can’t be sure. After all, if those men were pillaging, I think they’d still be around, helping themselves to plunder. We should have a plan of action.”Bookmark here

I’m disappointed. However, what the Marquise said had reasons for it. So, I had to agree.Bookmark here

“Anyway…” she continued, “Be careful with whatever you wish for, you know. Or you might end up getting more than what you initially expected.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, I will remember that,” I answered.Bookmark here

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Soon enough, not too far away from where we left our main camp, we met some more refugees coming up the road. A few of them could still walk, while a good number of them were lying by the roadside—most were wounded; others just collapsed from extreme exhaustion.Bookmark here

It was a horrifying sight. Some children were missing limbs or eyes, and were crying incessantly because of the pain. The injured adults lay silent on the grass and trees, too tired to move or even speak. They would also try to run away from us when we approached—a testament to the horrors they might’ve witnessed.Bookmark here

Talking to the few who had the strength to do so, we learned they were also from Janais, with some disturbing reports coming in that another nearby village called Halverata was being besieged by the same men that pillaged the first village.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

“Fuck this…” I could only say.Bookmark here

The look on the Marquise of Monfort’s face was terrible. I could sense anger boiling from within her as she listened to the stories of the refugees that we met, and her companions agreed with her. Because this grossly violated the Saint’s Peace, everyone in our group felt righteous indignation at those rampaging men. I could tell that they’d attack the mercenaries at the soonest opportunity; despite that, the Marquise told them off.Bookmark here

“Ladies, remember Her Holiness’ instructions before we set out!” she spoke to us, “Never intervene unless we’re attacked, or we’ll jeopardize our mission!”Bookmark here

Fortunately, the Marquise was a level-headed person. Though the emotions were running high amongst our group, she was a beacon of reason for us to look at. And personally, even if I’m with the other paladins, my first concern was with applying first-aid to those who could be saved.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Heck, it’s difficult to do first-aid with this amount of people, even if I have the paladins and a fair number of able-bodied refugees helping me.Bookmark here

“Check their injuries. Put priority to those who were gravely wounded.” I told those who were with me.Bookmark here

“How do we know their injuries are severe?” a paladin asked.Bookmark here

“Well, most of you are experienced warriors, so seeing wounds is not new to you.” I explained, “Can you determine who would most likely to live, and the ones who’d die, regardless if we did some aid or not?”Bookmark here

“Quite. So, what do you propose?”Bookmark here

“Try to separate those who are lightly wounded, and those who were severely injured. Then for those who were severely injured, determine who’s going live if we give aid. Those lives are our priorities.”Bookmark here

My companions gave me a long stare, and the others who were helping were bewildered by my words.Bookmark here

“Hey! I thought you said earlier that you’re someone who knows first-aid?” the paladin confronted me. I could tell from her voice that she didn’t take that lightly.Bookmark here

“I am. That’s why I’m doing this.”Bookmark here

“Then what about those who are going to die?” she had a concerned look on her face, which was also reflected on her comrades, “Are you proposing that we leave them to their fates?”Bookmark here

I didn’t want to hear that. No, I’m not offended by that paladin’s words; I could fully understand her issues raised. However, I must make them see the point of what we’re doing, “Well I know it’s hard, but this is an emergency, and we have limited people and medicines. We’d like to help everyone, but then again, if we focused our energies on a person who’d die regardless of the amount of medical attention, I don’t think we’re being reasonable. What if a hundred others end up dead while we’re trying to save one? Isn’t that more despicable?”Bookmark here

The paladin had no answer for that. However, she and her companions remained unconvinced.Bookmark here

“My ladies, I am fully aware of your stand, and I’m also of the same opinion. But I would like to reiterate that we must save those who could be saved so that the sacrifice of those who did not make it would never be in vain.” I further added, “Isn’t that something your noble hearts would do if you and your loved ones were injured and dying?”Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

The Marquise of Monfort and her paladins remained skeptical. But they had to agree on the points I raised, so that we could move on with helping those poor souls.Bookmark here

At least, with proper wording, I could fuse their chivalrous beliefs and my suggestions into something we could all agree upon. After all, even I never wanted to do this. But, when someone implements the ‘triage’ system, one should use their heads over their personal emotions.Bookmark here

We’re all humans, after all. And we can’t save everyone.Bookmark here

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In the end, it was too heavy and exhausting for our entire group to deal with those survivors. The Marquise of Monfort also sent scouts to do reconnaissance work in the surrounding area, looking out for those mercenaries in case they’re pursuing the refugees. However, with every return of those girls, they were carrying victims and dire news they found and encountered along the way.Bookmark here

“My lady, we found another large group of civilians stranded on the other side of this field.”Bookmark here

“Lady Monfort, this child needs help as soon as possible, for she hasn’t eaten for a while now, and the mercenaries cut off her fingers so that she can not eat.”Bookmark here

“My lady, Baroness Vinia, and I had seen the road ahead littered with bodies of the dead and dying…what should we do?”Bookmark here

I couldn’t keep my ears shut from those horror stories I heard from the scouting parties. However, I needed to focus on these children whom I was treating. This emaciated boy before me had a broken arm, and he had that ‘thousand-yard’ stare…Bookmark here

Fuck, I think this is PTSD.Bookmark here

“Hey…” I gently called his attention, which thankfully, he reciprocated, “What happened to your arm?”Bookmark here

“…” the boy stared at me with his brown, emotionless eyes. It was a fellow refugee who answered for him.Bookmark here

“Nicholas was the only one left in his family.” the old lady who was taking care of him told me, “His father was decapitated by those villains in front of him, and his pregnant mother was violated repeatedly. Also, try to lower your voice when talking to him, loud noises remind him of the screams of her mother.”Bookmark here

“…” I could feel my heart burned with anger. My hands were shaking in rage as I put a makeshift brace on his injury.Bookmark here

“Thank you for your benevolence, kind sir.” the old lady told me.Bookmark here

These children whom I gave first-aid reminded me of my students back in my world. And as their teacher, I protected them with everything I had and ended up losing my job. No, I’m not that bitter with what happened to me; it’s just how far I could go to defend the young lives that were entrusted to me.Bookmark here

And to see these children get victimized by the adults’ stupidity…it’s fucking unacceptable.Bookmark here

Damn it…if only I have those cheat powers like the protagonists in the ‘isekai’ novels I read before…Bookmark here

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Things hadn’t exploded yet into an open war, and this was already happening. We really needed to proceed with the negotiations, or this would be an unprecedented disaster akin to the Germans of the Thirty Years’ War era.Bookmark here

The Marquise of Monfort was doing her best to be in control of the situation. Early on, just as we were about to be overwhelmed by the incoming number of victims, I suggested she contacted her father, the Duke of Braunhauer, and let him know about our situation. Since we’re coming to their place anyway, she agreed and chose two of her girls to bring our urgent appeal for help.Bookmark here

In the meantime, the mood at the second camp was overwhelming. The influx of refugees asking for help increased, and we’re barely holding on. More news was also coming in from the other survivors that not only Janais and Halverata were pillaged; several more villages were at the mercy of these mercenaries, and they’ve been at the gates of a certain small town named Cullen.Bookmark here

I also believe that we shouldn’t stay here any longer.Bookmark here

“Lady Monfort…” I came and pleaded before the Marquise, “…I know Her Holiness had strictly told you to hold off your forces. But can’t something be done to these people? I mean, do we really have to let those mercenaries roam around, destroying everything in their path?”Bookmark here

“Don’t worry about that, Kuro, I’m also of the same opinion.” she admitted, “My girls are also prodding me to take action as well. But I guess we have to wait for my father’s forces to come and decide from there.”Bookmark here

“My lady, I don’t think we could wait any longer. That town called Cullen could fall in their hands soon, and the refugees before us could increase in numbers that we can’t help them anymore!”Bookmark here

“But Kuro, what about Her Holiness’ order for us to hold back?”Bookmark here

Well shit. Yes, it’s about Maddie’s instructions not to intervene that’s holding us. However, in this situation, I guess we couldn’t stay idle for too long. Lives were at risk, and I’m sure Maddie would understand our actions once we did that…Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Okay. In the first place, we’re here to do negotiations, which were aimed at protecting the lives of the people. However, if those whom we were defending were already dead in the first place, then for what purpose were we doing these negotiations?Bookmark here

I took a deep breath before speaking to the Marquise, “Lady Monfort…”Bookmark here

“Yep?”Bookmark here

“I’ll answer for you and your paladins’ actions.” I could feel my heart burned with anger, “Let’s attack them!”Bookmark here

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***The Great Leviathan, an Imperial ship leading the expeditionary force on the way to north Chersea***Bookmark here

Umberto Benicci, general of the Imperial Expeditionary Force. A former Imperial agent tasked with sowing dissent and chaos in the northern kingdoms to prepare for the invasion of the north. Also, a former Amaranthine prince was exiled, and the last member of his fallen royal house.Bookmark here

“Sir!” a soldier came knocking on his door, “A report from our spies in the northern lands just came through the pigeon.”Bookmark here

The general then motioned for the soldier to put it down on his desk, which the man did. After paying his respects, the soldier left.Bookmark here

General Umberto then read the letter, which was sealed to keep its contents a secret from others, except for him.Bookmark here

“What does the report say?”Bookmark here

“Well, it says that everything was going according to our plan.” the general answered the disembodied voice, “Your Holiness, the human saint was on the move, towards the lands of the Duke of Braunhauer.”Bookmark here

“It must be that Maddie’s going to talk with the Duke as well. How are the mercenaries?”Bookmark here

“They’ve been rampaging across the countryside as we speak.”Bookmark here

“It’s good then.”Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

“General, I don’t think I’d like for you to have any dissenting thoughts.” the disembodied voice of Seirna told him, “Have you forgotten that I could read minds?”Bookmark here

“My apologies, Your Holiness.” General Umberto replied, “It’s just that, I couldn’t bear to learn about my people being slaughtered senselessly for this goal to happen.”Bookmark here

Hmm…well, they were your former people. Remember that they killed your family and caused you to self-exile.”Bookmark here

“I don’t blame them, Your Holiness. If there’s anyone I’d fault at what happened to me, then it’s that saint, Madelaine Ann Rubinforth.”Bookmark here

“Indeed, there’s a piece of truth to your thoughts.” Seirna laughed, “However, the Amaranthines were also to blame. They have their own minds to know who actually cared for them.”Bookmark here

Ah, it’s part of the ignorance of the masses. The commoners were easily swayed, especially under an enemy’s sword. If that saint didn’t instigate a coup-de-etat to replace my father the king, then it wouldn’t happen.”Bookmark here

“Well, what could I say? Your father’s the greatest enemy of the kingdom of Nerfes. Of course, they’d do everything to eliminate him.”Bookmark here

“And as his son, I’d do everything to expose that saint, and end her rule.” General Umberto answered with conviction.Bookmark here

“Nice…that’s what I wanted to hear from you, General. And those people being killed were just collateral damage; and in fact, when you think about it, they deserved it for murdering your entire house.”Bookmark here

Remembering those things caused the general’s anger to burn at Maddie even more. In his heart, there’s only one desire that was left, that was, to bring forth her destruction by his own hands.Bookmark here

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