Chapter 8:

CHAPTER 5: REGRETS

The Human Saint is Bored, so I was Summoned to Another World Vol. 5


***The borders of Devyere and Savoy, a few leagues into the Savoian territory…***Bookmark here

Concurrent with the events in the Dawson Valley area, the army of the Duke of Savoy, along with a contingent of soldiers from Nerfes under the command of Prince Simon Hugh Reed of Nerfes, waited in sweltering heat for the legions marching to conquer their land.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Like Amaranth, Savoy’s west was covered in forests, which extended all the way to Devyere. Simon and his co-commander, the Duke of Savoy, purposefully encamped in a small clearing in the middle of the forest path, which led to the town of Huirot—the westernmost land in Savoy. The plan seemed simple, for the combined armies of Nerfes and Savoy simply blocked the road that had access to the country, and the rest of west of north Chersea. But Simon and the Duke also deployed men in an ambush around their flanks.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

The entire allied force was apprehensive about the sounds of the approaching enemy army. From what they’ve gathered, it was composed of two legions, along with friendly Amaranthine armies, with a total number of 20,000 as opposed to their 15,000.Bookmark here

They are outnumbered.Bookmark here

Nevertheless, Sir Simon’s efforts to bring in the Duke of Savoy into the coalition bore fruit, and with his cooperation, they could launch that ambush, leading to the Massacre at Devyere. Now that the Empire decided to strike back and invade Savoy and Stadtsberg, he felt it was his obligation to help the Duchy repel the Imperial legions from its land.Bookmark here

“Here they come.” Simon heard the Duke muttered, “Time to tell these bastards that they are in the wrong place.”Bookmark here

“Yes, Your Excellency!”Bookmark here

The first units of the Imperial legions finally appeared on their sight. It was the cavalry, and much to the allies’ dismay, on the hands of the horsemen were several severed heads of their comrades. Upon reaching a certain distance, the Imperial cavalry then hurled the grisly items towards the Nerfes-Savoian lines.Bookmark here

Some men panicked, but it was quickly dealt with by their officers.Bookmark here

A head eventually landed on the feet of the horse of the Duke of Savoy, “Looks like these fuckers defeated the ambush party.” he stated the obvious.Bookmark here

“What shall we do then?” Simon asked.Bookmark here

“Well, isn’t it obvious? We avenge my men. Your Highness, shall we begin our attack?”Bookmark here

“You bet!”Bookmark here

The battle of Savoy then begun with the clashing of the men of Nerfes and Savoy against the legionnaires led by the Imperial expedition commander, Umberto Benicci, and the Crown Prince of Amaranth, David von Albert…Bookmark here

----------Bookmark here

**Lily**Bookmark here

Just like when he said we should win battles, Kuro won the battle of Dawson Valley for us.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Before we engaged the Imperial legions trying to invade Stadtsberg, he kept on rambling about a certain ‘Hannibal’ and how that man defeated an overwhelming army with his cunning and knowledge of his soldiers’ abilities. He further stated that he’d do a ‘Cannae’ and that he would leave no one alive among his enemies.Bookmark here

And Kuro delivered.Bookmark here

With his ruse, he made the Imperials believe that we’re losing, only for them to realize that our retreat was a way to get them surrounded. The Imperial cavalry was not a threat to us—they were of doubtful quality than our own knights; it’s in the well-trained and disciplined legionnaires that the Empire’s military strength lies.Bookmark here

They proved those qualities by not retreating on the battlefield unless necessary, and as a result, Kuro killed them all.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

But I’m never happy. Nor do I think Maddie will…Bookmark here

The soldiers and mercenaries were cheering for him as they entered our fort in Stadtsberg in a triumphant procession, but Kuro never smiled. His bloodied clothes were something that I couldn’t imagine seeing him wearing.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

After he left his spear to another soldier and removed his sword from his waist, he continued to the war room, where the rest of our army’s commanders gathered.Bookmark here

I kept on asking myself, what happened to him? It’s as if he was a completely different man. His face showed no emotion as he ordered the deaths of thousands of our prisoners after stripping them of their belongings.Bookmark here

This isn’t the Kuro we knew!Bookmark here

I guess it’s only my opinion, but he became grim and serious. Not only that, there was time I would catch a glimpse of him crying over that broken sword he calls ‘Luisa’. I don’t know, but maybe he was losing his wits after being involved in a lot of dangerous situations here.Bookmark here

After all, Kuro’s just some ordinary person back in his original world…Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

“Your Highness, General von Leese…” a soldier had come to my room, “Your presence at the war council is appreciated.”Bookmark here

Ah, yes.” I stood up and prepared myself, “Please tell the commanders that I’m on my way.”Bookmark here

The orderly saluted and hurried back to the war-room. I took one last look at Maddie’s portrait that was hung on my quarters’ wall, before heading to the post-battle meeting.Bookmark here

----------
Bookmark here

It was noisy at the war council when I arrived. The commanders of the coalition army were arguing on the next best course of action to take.Bookmark here

“What’s with the apprehensions?” I asked.Bookmark here

“Your Highness!” they gave me the customary salute before continuing, “A report just came in from the Duchy of Savoy. They are asking for our help in repelling the Imperial invasion of their territory.”Bookmark here

Hm? I thought Nerfes had already sent help to the Duke.”Bookmark here

Err…Your Highness, that force was defeated and the Duke of Savoy was killed.” the Duke of Greene was reluctant to tell that information to me. But he decided to reveal it, since it was a matter of strategic importance.Bookmark here

It’s as if blood was drained from my face when I heard that. That army from Nerfes was led by Simon, and if it was defeated, what happened to him?Bookmark here

“The second prince of Nerfes was wounded, but he’s fine, according to the reports.” the Duke of Greene added. It was not a secret to them that Simon, Maddie, and I were close friends, that’s why he said that.Bookmark here

“The army of Savoy and Nerfes retreated to the town of Huirot to prevent the legionnaires from flanking us.” the Prince of Stadtsberg stated, “They were being besieged there as we speak, and were asking for our help.”Bookmark here

“And with that, we should continue on our offensive to the southern flank of Amaranth” It was Kuro who brought up that topic, “If we wanted to help them, we could relieve the pressure of the siege by moving on the Imperial’s southern flanks.”Bookmark here

“That would be irresponsible, Sir Kuro!” the Count of Brooke sharply rebuked him, “The Duke of Savoy is an ally of us for allowing our armies to operate secretly in his territory, and when he needs our help, we abandon him?”Bookmark here

“We should attack the legions invading Savoy to defeat the threat to our flanks.” The Count of Tillie also supported the Count of Brooke, “Not only do we send a message of support to the Duke, but it would also secure our base here in Stadtsberg.”Bookmark here

Kuro, however, insisted on his proposal, “We do not intend to abandon them, but it would waste our meager resources to attempt relief. Diverting men to attack the legions in Savoy would weaken our southern thrust into Amaranth and would only prolong the war.”Bookmark here

“Sir Kuro…” it was the Prince of Stadtsberg who spoke, “You know I always support you in your plans, however, for this one, I’d side with the Count of Brooke. We should send people to Savoy if we’re aiming to galvanize the support of the kingdoms in Chersea for Her Holiness’ cause.”Bookmark here

“But the opportunity to defeat the Imperial legions in Amaranth was here already!” But Kuro remained stubborn, “What’s with that kind of thinking? It’s not like we’re not doing our own sacrifices! A few more men’s lives would not equal to the lives of thousands of Cherseans waiting for an end to this conflic—”Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

The entire war council was taken aback when I stepped forward and gave Kuro a slap on his face.Bookmark here

“K-Kuro…” I could feel anger seething in me, “Those…those ‘few men’s lives’…one of them is our—Maddie and I—friend! How could say that?”Bookmark here

A moment of awkward silence filled the room where the war council was being held. Kuro had the same surprised expression on his face.Bookmark here

I never showed it to the council, but I wanted to cry right now. My feelings were conflicted; I don’t want to hurt Kuro, but then, I wanted to hurt him by saying that to Simon. They’re friends, too, right? Why would he consider Simon’s injuries as a sacrifice that had to be made?Bookmark here

It only sounds good, but when you’re maimed or dead, nothing is worthy at all!Bookmark here

“I…I’m the commander of this coalition force. For now, Sir Kuro is temporarily relieved of his responsibilities as my second-in-command.” I asserted my authority, “Prepare the men. We’re marching for Savoy tomorrow.”Bookmark here

Kuro then walked out of the council.Bookmark here

----------
Bookmark here

**Kuro**Bookmark here

That slap from Lily sure was painful…Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

I left the council, not because of what she did to me. In fact, her slap was a welcome event. It brought me back to myself.Bookmark here

What the hell am I doing?Bookmark here

The flashbacks of those terrified men, just before they were killed by my orders, passed through my mind. And then, Sir Simon. That guy was a good friend and supporter to me, even when his blood-brother and love of his life, King Rambo, was mad at me.Bookmark here

And I dismissed what he did in Savoy as a ‘sacrifice’ that was necessary.Bookmark here

Oh god, am I sliding back again to my former self?Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Honestly, I’m glad that he survived that onslaught with the Imperial legions. Yet, I let myself be blinded by my desire to avenge the Marquise. I’m pretty sure that if Luisa was still alive, I’d receive an even more painful punch into my face.Bookmark here

You fucked up again, Kuro!Bookmark here

----------
Bookmark here

Even before, in my past, I always fucked it up, just as when everything was going fine…Bookmark here

I thought I was some normal kid. My parents raised me normally, getting spanked every time I commit errors, or a pinch in the ear if I didn’t listen. My mother was a former teacher, and she educated me in a manner I’d say was like an ‘iron education’. However, as strict as it could be, when I entered school at five years, I never thought that something so routine would change me…Bookmark here

“Everyone!” my teacher said, “Please clap your hands for ****! You guys should strive to be intelligent like him!”Bookmark here

My classmates showered praises and compliments to me when I won the word-reading contest by my teacher. For the first time in my life, I felt happy. I’m important. I am needed.Bookmark here

And everything followed.Bookmark here

“Top 4 in class, **** ******!”Bookmark here

“**** won every quiz bee he’s ever been! He’s got potential in the future! Children, that’s a good model for you!”Bookmark here

“You should emulate ****. He’s a good student!”Bookmark here

Children around me would always clap and shower praises for me whenever the adults were around. I never asked them to do those to me, but I admit I did like it when they give me compliments. Because of that, I strove hard to meet everyone’s expectations. My teachers loved me, and my parents were proud.Bookmark here

However, it was a different matter when we children are alone…Bookmark here

“Hey, ****, that’s a good drawing you got there, huh? It looks like an elephant.”Bookmark here

“It’s a hippo, you dumbass!”Bookmark here

“Please stop it! Don’t bully **** anymore!” a classmate of mine would always say, but he’s never my protector, “He sucks at drawing even though he tries; it’s pretty pathetic of him to continue, so avoid teasing him! It’s making my stomach turn already.”Bookmark here

Then the laughs, and the jeers…I could always hear it within me. Every time I walk in the hallways, I would always feel like everyone’s eyes were staring at me, and were talking bad behind me…Bookmark here

I wonder what’s wrong with me? Back then, I tried to be my best. I let them see my skills whenever the opportunity presents itself. I wanted to be the coolest kid by showing everyone what I could do. But somehow my efforts backfired.Bookmark here

“That’s a weirdo.”Bookmark here

“He’s a high-handed freak.”Bookmark here

“That annoying guy from class 2? Stay away from him.”Bookmark here

For several years when I was growing up, it went like that. There never was a school year that I did not make enemies and bullies. The painful words, punches, kicks, and curses increased the more I get myself involved with the people around me…Bookmark here

I tried to fight back at first, however, the bullying just got worse to where, in everything I do, they’d always make me look like a fool by claiming that what they want was different from what I did. So, I learned not to assume things, even in little matters like romance.Bookmark here

What’s wrong with me?Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Then I went to college. There, I learned that maybe it’s because of my arrogance that caused me to be scorned by the people around me. So, I strove to change myself. But the bullying went on. In fact, it went for the worst. Sometimes my classmates would cooperate with one another not to include me in-class projects, or would not talk to me at all!Bookmark here

It is painful, but I guess I reaped what I sow…I fucked up, for the first time.Bookmark here

----------
Bookmark here

After that, I graduated. It took a few years before I could land a job as a teacher in a city quite far from where I lived. I wanted to stay away from my place, for it was full of painful memories. If there’s one thing that I learned from my experience during my school years, it was not to care.Bookmark here

Yes, I don’t care what the others would say about me anymore. I don’t give a damn to whatever they expected from me. I won’t sympathize with others, since they felt no mercy for me.Bookmark here

Since then, I swore to become a ‘stone’. I’ll live my life like I wanted to, regardless of everyone else.Bookmark here

It was a success. I never truly cared for others, nor do I get emotionally attached to anyone. If I’d ask about you, it’s mostly superficial concern…something that came out of me because of culture, or custom. Whoever came and whoever went, I just continued moving on. If I failed on my first try at life, then in this second one, I’ll make sure I’ll succeed by throwing away my emotions.Bookmark here

But then it happened.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

I should’ve never let that guy be by himself. But, since I don’t want to get involved, I let him alone…even though he was my student and a good friend. I never knew he was already suffering, all because I am too blind to look to others who really needed me. I know that if I did something back then, I might’ve talked him out of it, yet I did nothing.Bookmark here

And so he killed himself.Bookmark here

I could still remember it, fresh like yesterday’s memory…I guess it’s my second fuck-up.Bookmark here

----------
Bookmark here

That guy’s legacy never left me. It happened when I was in my second year of teaching, and from then on, I scrambled to regain what I lost. I tried to bring back my former ‘feeling’ self. I re-learned to sympathize with others, especially with my students. Even though I’m getting the short end of the stick, I endeavored to help.Bookmark here

I don’t want to lose a student again.Bookmark here

I am a teacher, and my responsibility was to enable my charges to live the life they wanted, responsibly, of course. If I had to make sacrifices, no matter how big or hard it was, it’s fine. I wanted to be someone of use, as a person who was made to feel that he was irrelevant for his whole life…Bookmark here

“Sir, you’re the best teacher I ever had.”Bookmark here

Yes, the feeling of being needed is good, I told myself.Bookmark here

So, I tried my best to do the best for my students, even at the cost of alienating my co-workers. I wanted to become the elder brother they never had or the father they yearned for. I fought for what I believed was for their well-being.Bookmark here

But then…Bookmark here

“Mister ******, why did that child say that to you instead of the guidance counselor? Are you trying to usurp our authority here?”Bookmark here

“N-No Ma’m, I was just trying to—”Bookmark here

“We have our SOPs here!” the principal bluntly told me, “Even if it’s a molestation case, you still have to follow it!”Bookmark here

“I-I’m only trying to help—”Bookmark here

“You put our organization in jeopardy because of that, Mister ******.”Bookmark here

What did I just do? Did I fuck-up again?Bookmark here

I had to resign from my work, all because I over-zealously did my job. A co-worker of mine was involved in molesting a student, and when that child asked for my help, I went to great lengths—and even a bit of illegal ways—to expose him. And in doing so, I guess I put my school and colleagues in danger…once again.Bookmark here

My third fuck-up.Bookmark here

I’m at a loss. If I did not care, I fail. If I did care, I also fail. What am I going to do with my life? Perhaps it’s really a mistake!Bookmark here

And then, just when I woke up one day when I’m exhausted from looking for another job…I opened my eyes to see a beautiful, silver-haired girl staring right back at me.Bookmark here

Maddie.Bookmark here

Getting to know her and her friends was one of the best things that happened in my life. For the third time, I felt I was needed. I felt I was doing something good and noble. And that girl always believed in me. So were the others: Lily, Eris, Luisa, Atkins, Simon…the list goes on.Bookmark here

And yet, here I am again. Fucking up my ‘new’ life by making wrong decisions—causing Luisa’s death and almost losing Sir Simon, all because I’m blinded by my foolish desires…just like how it’s always been.Bookmark here

----------
Bookmark here

My thoughts were interrupted when I heard the door slowly open. I was staying in my private quarters, lying on the bed, thinking of what’s happening around me, and my failures. However, I guess the time to talk to Lily was inevitable, for there she was, standing by the door of my room.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

She just stared at me for a few moments. I wanted to speak to her, tell her I’m sorry for what happened back in the war council. I wanted to apologize for all I’ve done so far…Bookmark here

…but much to my surprise, I can’t say anything to her. I feel so ashamed of myself…Bookmark here

“Kuro…” Lily began, “We need to talk…”Bookmark here

“Y-Yes…I have something to tell you as well.”Bookmark here

Lily then sat by my side at the edge of the bed. Then another round of silence followed between us. I took the initiative and speak to her.Bookmark here

“Sorry…”Bookmark here

“Yes.” was Lily’s meek reply.Bookmark here

“I…I didn’t mean to say those things. Sir Simon’s been a great friend to me, and yet, I treated him like shit.Bookmark here

“It’s okay Kuro, I understand. I’m sure Maddie would understand too.”Bookmark here

“Well…I don’t know Lily. It’s like, your slap brought me back to my senses.” I admitted to her, “Then I realized, I’ve done a lot of things that would remain in my hands for as long as I lived. I killed many people, though it was unnecessary because I’m blinded by my revenge.”Bookmark here

Hmm…I guess it’s only natural that you feel that way, you know, your desire to avenge the owner of that sword in your waist. Maybe, she was your friend. I would do the same too; the fact that I slapped you earlier meant that I’m the same. However, Kuro…”Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

“…I don’t want you to focus on what has already happened. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Sure, you killed many people even if it could be avoided; maybe that would be a sin that would remain in you as long as you live. However, don’t let it dictate what you would become. As you always say to me back then, change for the better, right?”Bookmark here

“Yes…I wanted to change for the better, for I failed my life before.” I felt dejected, “But I kept on coming back to that failure…”Bookmark here

“Well, we’re humans. And because of that, I guess you’re okay to make errors. It’s just that, as you always tell me, we learn from those mistakes.” Lily then added, “Besides, if you think you’ve done the worst thing a person could ever do, think again. There were people—like me—who’ve done even worse to others. And I could change myself because I got friends like you and Maddie who stood by me.”Bookmark here

The conversation between us brought tears to my eyes. It’s not that I’m needed, but it’s the feeling that the person speaking before me was thankful I did something good in her life.Bookmark here

Haa…I’m tired, Lily.”Bookmark here

“I know.”Bookmark here

“I just wanted to live a peaceful life…with the people I love and understand me. I don’t want to be a bloodthirsty murderer…no matter how successful am I on the battlefield. I don’t want to be a failure for the rest of my life, wasting it on things I never wanted to do.”Bookmark here

“I know.” Lily suddenly held my head and pulled it towards her lap, “That’s why I—and Maddie—would do our best to make you the best man in all of Chersea.”Bookmark here

“I don’t need that. I just wanted to be the best husband for you and Maddie, as well as the best father for our children in the future…”Bookmark here

“And we’ll be the best wives only for you, Kuro…” Lily gently kissed my forehead as she caressed me to sleep.Bookmark here

----------
Bookmark here

***Vegencia, Amaranth’s main port city to the south***Bookmark here

The Imperial debacle at Dawson Valley caused the Emperor’s personal ship, the Golden Leviathan, to be diverted from its original destination to the port town of Vegencia instead, to the south of Amaranth. With him was a fleet of ships with ten legions—all fully equipped, and several exotic beasts known as the ‘Leviathan’, and they all set foot in Amaranth, ready for war.Bookmark here

The emperor himself was dressed in his magnificent golden armor and purple cape when he went down from his ship to inspect his men. He was escorted by his Imperial guards, and his crown heir, the Imperial Prince.Bookmark here

“My dear Jean!” a familiar voice called out to him. The emperor froze from his spot because he knew the owner of that deceptively sweet voice.Bookmark here

“Your Holiness!” the Imperial Prince and their guards gave respects to the Saint of the Flame, Seirna, who welcomed them in the docks.Bookmark here

The emperor also tried to bow, but Seirna stopped him.Bookmark here

“Your legions are as impressive as ever.” she quipped, “I heard you got a lot of elvish recruits this time, huh?Bookmark here

“Well, it’s true, Your Holiness.” the emperor replied, “Elves are superb with their eyesight and with magic, so we always have them serve as scouts or magicians.”Bookmark here

“Indeed.” Seirna gave a sigh, “I wish these northern barbarians would give up their prejudice for the other races: the Beastmen, elves, and dwarves. It’s only in your alliances that would stand up to the power of the demon race…or you’ll risk a repeat of the last Human-Demon war.”Bookmark here

“It can’t be helped, Your Holiness. These parts of Chersea are rife with discrimination, and humans here are not exempt from it. However, unlike these people, in the empire, we have laws and customs that treat our slaves with respect. The other races have the same opportunities as our human citizens.Bookmark here

“Of course. Lord Gaius founded your empire after all.”Bookmark here

“That’s why we are invading these barbarians—we aim to spread civility and Lord Gaius’ teachings.”Bookmark here

“And, speaking of civility, about Dawson Valley…”Bookmark here

“Yes, Your Holiness. I aim to relieve the general, Umberto Benicci, in command.”Bookmark here

“That won’t be necessary.” Seirna was quick to counter him, “I wanted him to remain in his position.”Bookmark here

“But Your Holiness, I just lost two legions.” the emperor pleaded, “Those were 10,000 men with their own families and children. Should I allow myself to lose more?”Bookmark here

“We all have our reasons, Jean.” Seirna explained, “The sacrifices of those soldiers you lost were not in vain, especially they’re doing Lord Gaius’ will. I wanted someone who will fight the Human Saint, not someone who would be afraid to even touch her hair. Besides, I already put someone capable in command together with Prince Umberto.”Bookmark here

“But Your Holiness…”Bookmark here

“My dear Imperial Jean…” the Saint of the Flame caressed his face, “I believe you’re forgetting who’s in charge here. What do you think would happen if you invade without my support?”Bookmark here

“M-My…” the emperor took a deep sigh, “My legions would be decimated by Lady Madelaine’s powers to afflict sickness.”Bookmark here

“And what do you think would happen to your empire if I won’t protect it?”Bookmark here

“It’ll succumb to Lady Madelaine’s schemes to blockade me.”Bookmark here

“So, what will you do now?”Bookmark here

“M-My apologies, Your Holiness…”Bookmark here

“Good…” Seirna smirked, “Listen. There’s still hope for you to save face after what happened in Dawson Valley. The Duchy of Savoy was still holding out, but your legions defeated the combined army of Nerfes and Savoy there. Concentrate your forces in that area and crush any resistance. Its fall would not only affect the morale of your men, but it would also pose a danger to the Holy Palatial Gardens.”Bookmark here

“I understand…”Bookmark here

“And please, perish the thought that you could go against me. I could read your mind, my dear Jean. It’s either you follow me, or you’ll fight against me. Alright?”Bookmark here

The emperor, reluctant as he may be, could only nod, for deep inside, he’s regretting asking for the Saint of the Flame’s help. It’s more than what he bargained for, and Seirna could see that in his heart.Bookmark here

----------
Bookmark here

**Madelaine**Bookmark here

Although Lily and Kuro were both in Stadtsberg, I still find time to come to them via teleportation. Well, I admit I miss them often so I would sometimes check on the situation, or Lily would give me a summary of things that happened. Also, sometimes I’m helping them by transporting some of their men from one point to another.Bookmark here

Yes, it was only ‘some’. The god-power of teleportation was pretty convenient, but it had its limits, especially to a human-like me.Bookmark here

However, this time, it was a pretty different matter when I arrived in Stadtsberg. For one, I just learned about what happened in Savoy, which was our neighbor to the west.Bookmark here

I planned to rescue Prince Simon and the Duke of Savoy along with their men; however, they told me they would hold their positions in Huirot, and wait for reinforcements from Stadtsberg to resist the Imperials. If the Duchy of Savoy fell to the empire’s hands, not only would the coalition’s line of communication to Holy Palatial Gardens would be severed, it could also allow the Imperials to strike wherever they pleased, and stretched-thin the coalition army.Bookmark here

And with limited support from these human kings, I guess Lily and Kuro could only do so much…and Simon also got injured.Bookmark here

The second was, I learned about Lily’s fight with Kuro. I knew something changed within him, for I keep hearing disturbing reports from my friend that he’s getting violent, but I never expected it to reach a boiling point that Lily would slap him.Bookmark here

“Well, he’s sleeping right now.” Lily greeted me once I reached the secret place we agreed upon, “I guess the stresses of war was really getting into his mind, and he needs a time off.”Bookmark here

“I wanted to, but Kuro keeps on pushing forward.” I told her, “He wanted to feel that he’s needed, and he’s contributing to something worthwhile.”Bookmark here

“Yes…that’s typical Kuro.”Bookmark here

“I’ve been looking into his thoughts ever since he came here, Lily…that man, though he’s conflicted with himself, he tries to be strong to those people who need him. And as someone who loves him, why wouldn’t I be touched by that?”Bookmark here

“Well, I hope he returns to his old self soon. I miss the old Kuro…”Bookmark here

“I’m the same with you, Lily…” I admitted, “But there may be some things that we couldn’t return to. Will you still love him if it ever comes to that?”Bookmark here

“Of course!” Lily was quick to answer, “I did not only like him for the way he treats me, but I also loved him for who he is. Kuro may change, but all I have to do is to adapt to it. He’s the man I swore to love, after all.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, but you’ll be second to me.”Bookmark here

“I know that, you Holy Pervert!”Bookmark here

“Excuse me, but it’s only natural for someone in-love like me to do such things! Besides, you talk like you haven’t got your own jugs with you! Don’t you think your body is perverted, too?”Bookmark here

“Well, mine’s a perfect figure! Yours is like the…”Bookmark here

“What?”Bookmark here

“…never mind.”Bookmark here

“Why you!”Bookmark here

We both teased each other and laughed. Though I wanted to talk to Kuro, for now, I’ll just cast a spell to calm his mind and let him rest. That guy’s been through a lot of things, even back in his own world.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

One of these days after the war, Lily and I are planning to settle down together with him. And we can’t wait for that day to arrive…Bookmark here

----------
Bookmark here

***The Holy Palatial Gardens***Bookmark here

“Head Maid Jessica, you got mail.”Bookmark here

The paladin who was delivering the letters gave Jessica a rather simple-looking folded paper. The letter had a strong spell covering it, designed to prevent its accidental opening. However, Jessica was shocked to see not its magic spell, but the mark used to seal it.Bookmark here

“This is…the von Albert coat-of-arms!” she muttered as she opened the letter.Bookmark here

’To my dearest sister, Jessica. How are you? I hope you are as fine as I am. It’s been quite a while since I talked to you, and I just want to let you know that I’m fine and alive, after all that’s happened in here. The Saint of the Flame is gracious to let me live, and she also told me a lot of things I didn’t know that were already happening back there.Bookmark here

Can you help me? Her Holiness, the Great Saint of Chersea, is in danger. If you wanted to know more, please come to the location on the map after this letter. Please, we’re doing this for Chersea. With love, your brother, David.’Bookmark here

“Her Holiness is in danger?” At first, Jessica couldn’t believe the contents of the letters, since she thought her brother was already dead. However, the seal of the von Albert family was something only their family could use. Add the map that was drawn after the letter—her brother David could use the mapping spell—and her doubts vanished altogether.Bookmark here

But what did he mean by ‘the Saint is in danger’?Bookmark here

Carefully examining the map, she concluded that the place that he showed was a hidden spot just outside the town of Arles. And since her desire to see her brother was rekindled within her, Jessica wasted no time in putting on a dress, borrowing a cart, and speeding-off to Arles at a moment’s notice.Bookmark here

----------
Bookmark here

Jessica was led to a relatively dark copse of trees, partly hidden from view of the guard towers of Arles to the east. Though by then, she was apprehensive, thinking whether to continue. Nevertheless, the kitchen head maid met the person who sent her the letter.Bookmark here

“Sister!”Bookmark here

Jessica turned, but not towards her brother, who suddenly appeared in front of her in inconspicuous hunting clothes. She made an about-face and ran away; fortunately, her brother caught her arm just in time.Bookmark here

“You scaredy-cat sister of mine!” David was laughing, “Don’t worry, I’m fully alive, and not a ghost. I still couldn’t believe that I’m still alive, as well!”Bookmark here

“If you’re really my brother…” Jessica challenged him, “Then who ate my pudding last time when I bought one in Amaranth?”Bookmark here

“It was me—” the Crown Prince suddenly realized his error halfway into saying it. He tried to take back his word but failed to do so. Jessica quickly kicked his shin.Bookmark here

“That’s for being an ass, brother!” Jessica smirked, “But anyhow, that also proves you’re alive!” She quickly threw an embrace to him, “Welcome back!”Bookmark here

Damn, lady! You don’t have to hurt me like that!” he protested.Bookmark here

“Anyway, how’s father and our mothers?”Bookmark here

The crown prince silently shook his head, much to Jessica’s horror. Then, he told her how he survived thanks to the Saint of the Flame.Bookmark here

“That fool, Prince Umberto! If only I could get my hands on him!” Jessica couldn’t help herself but release her anger, “Anyway, brother, what do you mean in your letter that the Saint is in danger?”Bookmark here

“Well, the Saint of the Flame told me about the true nature of that man, Kuro.”Bookmark here

“Kuro?”Bookmark here

“Her Holiness Lady Seirna revealed to me that Kuro someone who’s working with the demons in trying to sabotage humanity, using Lady Madelaine’s peace.” the Crown Prince explained, “I know she might’ve been bluffing, but I couldn’t discount such a possibility. Sir Kuro is proficient in using a demon weapon, right?”Bookmark here

“It’s the weapon he used to win the first and second rounds of the Tri-skill tourney after all.”Bookmark here

“Listen Jessica. Her Holiness, Lady Madelaine, is in danger with that man, Kuro, around. Will you help me save her?”Bookmark here

“Are you out of your mind, brother?” Jessica fiercely asked, “Kuro wouldn’t betray Her Holiness as that Braunhauer brat did!”Bookmark here

Huh? Lady Eris betrayed the Saint?”Bookmark here

“Yes! I don’t know the details, but apparently, she tried to kill her!” Jessica pointed out, “See? What I’m trying to tell you guys before was the truth!”Bookmark here

“Alright, alright. Now’s not the time to look back to the past. You should keep Sir Kuro away from her, understand?”Bookmark here

“It’s impossible! And I won’t do it!” Jessica stood her ground, “I don’t know what that Saint of the Flame told you, but I can assure you, Kuro’s more trustworthy than that Saint of the Flame! If you won’t believe me by all means, we’re enemies from now on!”Bookmark here

“Jessica…”,Bookmark here

“I won’t back down, brother! I may be stupid, but I know a good person when I see one!”Bookmark here

The Crown Prince could only sigh, “Fine then. Have it your way. But listen to my warning…”Bookmark here

“What?”Bookmark here

“Pack your things and be ready to leave the Holy Palatial Gardens as soon as possible. We’re about to assault the armies of Nerfes and Savoy holed up in the town of Huirot. We plan to march into the Holy Palatial Gardens the moment this land falls into our hands…and even Lady Madelaine won’t be able to do anything about it, for we have the support of Lady Seirna.”Bookmark here

“W-What are you saying, brother?”Bookmark here

Prince David then removed his hunter’s clothing to reveal the Imperial armor he was wearing within, “I’m sorry, Jessica, but I guess I’ll have to save this land from Sir Kuro and the demons. I’m now an ally to the empire and Prince Umberto.”Bookmark here

Bookmarked
You can resume reading from this paragraph.