Chapter 1:

War

The Vessel of Animus


When did all this hatred begin? Was it when the angels arrived on planet Anima a thousand years ago? Was it before then? What compels sentient life to keep fighting?Bookmark here

BOOM!Bookmark here

A ball of fire blazed through the battlefield, evaporating four soldiers. The mage who casted the spell must have been strong. Yet only seconds later, that mage was stabbed in the chest by a sword. As soon as the soldier pulled his sword out of the mage’s dead body, a spear pierced him.Bookmark here

The battlefield was no longer uniform. It was chaos. One death led to another, and that death led to another. Each kill would slightly prolong a soldier’s life, only to be taken moments later. The combatants hoped the death of an enemy would remove the immediate danger. But only until it was too late, did they realize nowhere was safe on the battlefield.Bookmark here

“Damn. Severin, where are you?”Bookmark here

The woman got no response. In the heat of battle, all she could see around her were more soldiers. An overwhelming sense of dread loomed over her as any of the angels could kill her at any moment.Bookmark here

While looking for her friend, a man right next to her was stabbed by a spear and fell to the ground. It was startling, but when she got another good look at her surroundings, the number of soldiers on her side had dwindled. Bookmark here

Angels directly ahead. Angels on both sides. Death seemed like a forgone conclusion.Bookmark here

Why is this happening? I need to beat these people fast, then go look for Severin.Bookmark here

Both hands held a dagger. These weapons didn’t have the range advantage compared to the surrounding sword and spear users, but she had the speed.Bookmark here

The angels tried attacking, but she dodged, then quickly stabbed the aggressors before moving on to the next enemy.Bookmark here

Almost half an hour went by. Enemies kept coming, and there was little backup. But she managed to survive.Bookmark here

After killing the last angel in the area, she collapsed to the ground, exhausted.Bookmark here

How many people have I killed?Bookmark here

Blood was splattered all over her military uniform. Even her face was stained with streaks of dry blood. Parts of her vision was obscured by the red splotches on her glasses. But this wasn’t the result of injuries. What horrified the woman was that the stains were from the angels’ blood.Bookmark here

The weight of taking one person’s life was already too much for most people to bare. What about ten? What about twenty? How high could one’s kill count go before their sanity breaks?Bookmark here

Dead bodies were everywhere. Scattered across the ground like that, it was hard to tell who was on which side. It just looked like a field of indistinguishable corpses. What was once a beautiful valley had turned into pool of blood. The smell was puke inducing, yet soldiers had somehow managed to get used to it.Bookmark here

The horror of such a sight made the woman want to drop dead on the spot, but she couldn’t fall yet.Bookmark here

Severin. I need to find him.Bookmark here

As much as she lamented the deaths of the enemy, there was no time to self-pity. Severin was waiting for her.Bookmark here

After regaining a bit of her stamina, she got up to look for him.Bookmark here

“Severin! Severin!”Bookmark here

She tried to yell as loud as she could, but her faint yells were reaching nobody as she slowly reached the peak of exhaustion. It sounded as if she was gasping for air with each call.Bookmark here

“Severin!”Bookmark here

Desperation was washing over her, as tears welled up in her eyes.Bookmark here

“Zephy. O-over here.”Bookmark here

“Severin? Is that you?”Bookmark here

She turned around at the sound of his voice. The sight of his body near a bunch of other corpses terrified her. She ran towards his body, only to realize the ground around him was drenched in blood.Bookmark here

“Severin. Severin. It’s okay. I’m here. I’ll save you.”Bookmark here

She began casting some healing magic, which was weak compared to dedicated healers, and his injuries were fatal. The healing spells kept coming despite this fact, unwilling to accept he could die.Bookmark here

“Zephy. P-please. I… I don’t w-want to die. Don’t wanna d-die.”Bookmark here

He tried to lift his hand off the ground, as if to reach for her face, but it wouldn’t come even an inch off the ground.Bookmark here

“You’re not gonna die. I’m gonna save you. No matter what, I’ll save you. I promise.”Bookmark here

The casting continued without pause, but he wasn’t getting better, consciousness beginning to fade.Bookmark here

“Zephy. Zephy…”Bookmark here

There were tears coming from his half-opened eyes. No matter how desperately he reached out to his dear friend, there was nothing she could do.Bookmark here

Constantly using healing magic had sapped all her energy, and it was finally settling in that there was nothing she could do to save him.Bookmark here

“Severin. Severin. I’m so sorry. It doesn’t matter what I do. I keep healing, but your wounds are too deep and my magic is too weak. It’s just not fair. I can’t do anything to save you.”Bookmark here

Her speech was getting frantic, and she was sobbing so much her vision was starting to get blurry. Tears were getting all over her glasses, and she couldn’t even make out Severin’s face anymore. Bookmark here

“Severin. I’m so sorry. You don’t deserve this. You’re begging to live, and I can’t do anything about it. I’m so sorry.”Bookmark here

At some point, Severin was unable to talk. He couldn’t even signal to her.Bookmark here

“Severin, please no.”Bookmark here

She touched his face, but he wasn’t responding. Not a sound. His breathing had completely stopped.Bookmark here

“No. No. No. NOOOOOO! Severin! Don’t go. Please don’t go Severin. Please don’t go. You can’t leave me. I can’t live without you. Please don’t go. I’m sorry, so sorry. Please don’t leave me Severin. I can’t live on without you. Please. Please. Please. Don’t leave me.”Bookmark here

Cries wailed out desperately, but it was a futile effort. He was already dead.Bookmark here

“AHHHHHHH!”Bookmark here

She sat next to his corpse and cried her eyes out. The crying kept going until her tears dried up. She was a mess of red; her eyes, her face, and the blood stains all over herself. Bookmark here

Even after the tears stopped, the dead look in her eyes remained. Her friend meant everything to her, and he was gone. The shock was too much for her, and her senses started to fade.Bookmark here

It took a while for her to regain any sense of composure. She couldn’t tell how much time she had spent next to his body, but staying here forever would make her more miserable.Bookmark here

She couldn’t stay here anymore. As one of the few on the battlefield to survive, making it back home was top priority. As soon as she fully regained her sense of reality, she began trudging through the sea of corpses to get back to base.Bookmark here

It was disgusting how many dead bodies there were on the ground, but the feeling of defeat meant she hardly had the emotional capacity to react. She couldn’t even feel disgust at the possibility she might be used to such a sight.Bookmark here

Cough.Bookmark here

Cough. Cough.Bookmark here

A cough came from somewhere nearby. In this field of corpses, there must have been someone who was still alive. Without thinking, she headed in the direction she heard the cough.Bookmark here

Her eyes were strained from the crying, and the bloodstains on her glasses obscured part of her vision. But she could still get a sense for where they were through sound.Bookmark here

She eventually found the source of the cough.Bookmark here

On the ground was an angel. There was nobody else around here. The nearest corpse was far away. He must have been hit with some magic, as there were no physical objects in the immediate area. A quick examination of his body showed there were wounds on his side; deep, but not fatal.Bookmark here

Angels were the enemy. This could be a trap. This man could kill her in an instant if she wasn’t careful. But that didn’t matter. His life was more important than his race.Bookmark here

Despite having very little stamina, she tried applying healing magic. Her power was faint, but not useless.Bookmark here

“What are you doing?” the angel man asked quietly.Bookmark here

“I’m saving you.”Bookmark here

“Why? I’m an angel. You’re human.”Bookmark here

“It doesn’t matter. You’re just a person. This war is messed up. We shouldn’t be killing each other.”Bookmark here

She had thought the tears were depleted, but her eyes started to well up again.Bookmark here

“Don’t worry. I’ll save you.”Bookmark here

After applying enough healing, she carried the angel on her back and continued the walk back to base.Bookmark here

“Thank you,” the angel said softly before falling unconscious.Bookmark here

Fatigue caused her to stumble a bit, but she was very strong. She would tap into every bit of strength she had left to carry him back to base. After about half an hour, she arrived. By then, her knees felt as if they were about to buckle from the weight and exhaustion.Bookmark here

As she walked through the base, someone noticed her carrying a man.Bookmark here

“Zephy, you’re back. Who is this person you’re carrying?” a military commander asked her.Bookmark here

She turned her head towards the commander with lifeless eyes and a monotonous tone.Bookmark here

“It doesn’t matter. Just save him. I know he’s an angel, but please.”Bookmark here

The commander was confused, but now wasn’t the time to ask questions. The soldier’s facial expression alone indicated the seriousness of her plea. Bookmark here

“Fine. Give him to me, and I will take him to the medical team. Go get some rest. Tomorrow, we head back to the capital."Bookmark here

The demoralized soldier gave the angel to the commander.Bookmark here

“Zephy, are you okay?” the commander asked as the soldier began to walk away.Bookmark here

“Severin is dead.”Bookmark here

That’s all she said, not even looking at the commander.Bookmark here

The human soldier found the near vacant tent and went to sleep.
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