Chapter 2:

Enemies at the Local Tavern

Summoning Trebuchets To Survive A World At War!

Given my upcoming debut, I wanted to prepare by hearing more stories from the soldiers. With the day starting to come towards a close, the soldiers would gather in the taverns and I had one tavern in mind. Bookmark here

As a regular patron to the tavern, the owners had, over the years, equipped their tavern with sturdier items. Their cups were fitted with iron and steel to make it harder for me to crush. Their tables, stools, and benches were also carefully reinforced with steel.Bookmark here

I came here quite often and despite being a noblewoman, everyone welcomed me. Occasionally, some foreign soldier would do something stupid like trying to touch me, but they always learned quite quickly.Bookmark here

I settled into a nice corner of the bar and asked the keep for a meal and some sides that I could snack on slowly. I asked for some ‘light’ wine. No need for anything too strong tonight. I was excited and wanted to stay clear minded. After I finished my meal and started working on my sides—some dried fruits—the soldiers began to trickle in as groups.Bookmark here

Rowdy as normal, the soldiers boasted about their grand battles, how they valiantly fought off their attackers, and other feats. Sometimes someone would butt in about how that wasn’t how things really happened and tell what they saw happen. These little tidbits were useful since it let me know what to expect.Bookmark here

“But that was surprising, Emirl ended up captured by the High Empira. I wonder how he fares.”Bookmark here

“Feel bad for his wife though, didn’t he just get married last week?”Bookmark here

“Least he lives. I hate how they are mocking us, but at least it means we can rescue him.”Bookmark here

“He is probably enjoying High Empira grub right now, don’t let it get to you.”Bookmark here

Capturing non-generals was pointless when you could just kill them with much less effort. It served as mockery to the other nation and while they wouldn’t be particularly mistreated, they lost their freedom until they were freed. Bookmark here

Of course, sometimes armies would erect elaborate displays to taunt and demoralize their enemies, but even then, the fastest way to rescue your allies was often to win. On rare occasions, someone would get captured on purpose to rescue an ally or try to attack from behind the enemy lines, but champions capable of that were rare and easily identified.Bookmark here

Why the Au Firas were so well off was because we regularly spawned champions. Now, not all champions were capable of greatly overturning a fight, but even on the low end, a champion was worth three soldiers. Champions were easy to identify too. For example, Au Firas family members often had red hair. This identified us as having more strength than others.Bookmark here

Some of the other notable families were High Empira had the Du Intera family that produced a substantial amount of blue haired members. That identified them as strategists. Laubenon had the Aur family that had both blonde haired and green haired members. These were specialists of speed and knowledge respectively.Bookmark here

There were others as well, but most champions stood out very clearly due to their hair. You could tell how strong a champion was by how much their hair stood out. For example, my hair was almost a pure red with a little yellow at the ends. This meant I was very strong as a champion. One of my brothers only had a few strands of red, so they were on the weaker side. Bookmark here

The weakest champions didn’t even look different from normal people, but they were not suitable for an attack from within—they weren’t that much stronger than your normal person. However, there were three colors that were very suited for an attack from within. The blonde of speed could easily be hidden if their non-champion, or natural, color was blonde. The black of night and the brown of sturdiness were also capable of hiding depending on their natural color.Bookmark here

There were experiments at weakening a champion to hide their color, but such experiments never proved successful. Usually the weakening ended up with the champion being discovered and executed as soon as the next battle began. Bookmark here

I know I digressed from my original subject, but I mentioned all that for a reason. The reason being the person sitting next to me. You see, while I was trying to organize my thoughts, a young man with pure blue hair walked in through the door and sat next to me of all things. I know that visiting your enemy’s city was nothing out of the ordinary, but you normally wouldn’t go out of your way to provoke the other side.Bookmark here

“Not working today?”, asked the man.Bookmark here

“Tsk. Don’t bother me today, Catos.”Bookmark here

Yes, this man, Catosaga Du Intera, knew me since I did sometimes work here. It wasn’t like the keep needed to pay me for it, and I brought them plenty of money, so they didn’t really complain. After one of the battles, Catos happened to visit the tavern while I happened to be working as a waitress as strength control training.Bookmark here

This led to Catos’s consistent mockery of me as he went out of his way to visit and tease me for being a champion that was hard on money. Later, he bugged me for never seeing me on the battlefield. It seemed that he still didn’t realize I was a noblewoman and I intended to keep it that way. I’d wipe that smirk off his face soon enough. Just a few months to wait.Bookmark here

Despite this, I was here to gather information and didn’t want to deal with listening to him. Time was valuable and I really wanted to hear more about the battles. No matter how exaggerated the tales might be, they still had some basis in the truth.Bookmark here

“Oh, but did you hear we managed to capture some of your soldiers today? If your forces are so weak, then the war is probably to end soon. Maybe if you beg nicely enough, I’ll let you be my personal maid. How about it?”Bookmark here

So infuriating. That said, it was true that we were losing the war at the moment. That could still turn around, but we were fighting against multiple nations this time, so we had split our troops. This made us particularly vulnerable. the other nation was more a pest as they lacked a champion, but had quality troops just strong enough that we had to take them seriously. This meant we needed more than a token force to defend.Bookmark here

At the same time, High Empira had a champion and plenty of strong troops. Their walls were especially infuriating as they specialized in slowly building up walls that they could hide behind. As the war continued, we’d have to deal with more walls and their defense would approach us while we struggled to build enough siege weapons to take down their defenses as our weapons would be destroyed as we approached with their previous wall protecting the building of their newer wall.Bookmark here

Presently, our strategy was to stall for time while we tried to finish the other war, but if a third nation were to declare war on us, we might not even manage that. In fact, our allies were busy enough engaged in their own wars. Their own allies were engaged with ours, so really the other nations would settle the matter.Bookmark here

That is, unless I could participate before we lost. The general knew that I could be the deciding factor. Normally, a single soldier meant very little, but I was the purest champion the nation had seen in decades. High Empira had Catos, who was similarly pure of a champion. His ability to monitor the battlefield and control the movement of the troops to best counter us steadily depleted our forces.Bookmark here

I suspected that Catos knew full well that I wasn’t fighting, but I still spoke, “Well, I’m sure that, in just a few months, our war with Opera will finish. Then we’ll show you High Imperials our idea of a good time.”Bookmark here

“Funny joke. Well, feel free to be as wishful as you like, but we will win in the end. And you’ll be thankful that I’m offering such a wonderful position. Just think of all the fine diet you may enjoy and you wouldn’t need to be bothered by drunk men trying to grab you.”Bookmark here

“I can take care of myself just fine,” I huffed. Sure, they tried, but I always stopped them before thy managed.Bookmark here

“I’m certain you can, but it must be a hassle for you. I promise you, it is a great position. Think on it a little.”Bookmark here

“Tsk. I don’t need your consideration.”Bookmark here

“It was nice chatting with you, but I do need to rest properly for tomorrow. Do consider my offer. I am just looking out for you.”Bookmark here

I bit my lips as I glared at his retreating figure. I really wanted to punch him or may throw a trebuchet at him, but that would have to wait. I really needed to ask the general to just stall as much as possible for the next few months. I guess I’d be talking to my father tonight about sending a message.Bookmark here

“Lady Ramee? That is the cup. The cup.”Bookmark here

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I heard a shocked whisper from across the counter and looked down. It seemed I had crushed the cup at some point and was chewing on the fragments. This would be a long few months...Bookmark here

Taylor Victoria
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