“I doubt you have to worry about that,” Nancy said.
The four looked at her, perplexed.
“She’s divinely favored.”
“So what?” Leguna asked.
“She won’t lose her god’s favor. Forgive me for this personal question, but, are you a Pyronian?”
“Then it’s even less of a problem. Pyro is one of the most benevolent deities. As long as you don’t commit any egregious sins, He won’t take his favour back. He also wouldn’t take back his divine power just because you forgot a ritual or something. You don’t have to worry.”
“Really?” Eirinn slowly became more excited.
“I was a priestess for nearly two decades. I know a thing or two about gods.” Nancy smiled slightly.
She knew she needed a priestess at the fortress because of the bad supply, and Eirinn fit the bill. Not only was she a ten-strata priestess, she was young and had a kind heart. While she might not necessarily remain for long, she could at least help stop any unnecessary deaths while she was there.
“What do you think, Boss?” Leguna turned to his boss.
He was closest to Eirinn, but Kurdak was the party leader. He had the final say in such matters.
“I’m fine!” Kurdak said, waving his hand dramatically, “This is the best place for Eirinn right now. What about you, Vera?”
“I’ve got no problem.” Vera shrugged casually.
“If...” Now that she was finally going to leave, Eirinn began to hesitate. “Will you just leave me here for good if I stay?”
“Of course not!” Leguna smiled, “We are doing missions nearby, so we’ll come by often. This is just for until we’re done here.”
Eirinn was quiet for a moment. Her gaze eventually fell on the medic again.
“Madam Nancy, would it be okay if I became your disciple and learned medicine from you?”
“More than okay.” Nancy smiled as she stroked the girl’s silver hair.
Eirinn was a good girl, if she did well, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to teach her everything she knew.
The party was notified the next day that Fort Kresta’s commander, Tamro, wanted to see them.
“What business does he have with us?” Leguna muttered.
“No idea. It’s probably some operation they need done or something,” Kurdak offered an answer. As the one with the most worries in the party, he had already read through the empire’s directives multiple times. It seemed Tamro was thinking of benefitting from having a reaper squad in the area.
They were taken to the man’s office shortly after. Sitting in the middle of the office, behind a heavy wooden desk, was a middle-aged man with a ramrod-straight back. He wasn’t huge or burly, but he appeared a mountain that never moved. Leguna’s gut told him this was what military men should look like.
Another sat in the corner of the room. An old, robed sage. He must have been sent from the magi court, he had its insignia on his chest, at least. Perhaps he was the magus stationed at the fort? He had to be at least in the high-order were that the case.
“I’m glad I finally get to meet you, heroes of the empire. I am Tamro, the fort’s commander.”
A true military introduction, no pleasantries, no tests, just business from beginning to end.
“The heroes who shed their blood to claim the enemy heads are the true heroes of the empire,” Kurdak offered with a smile. He liked Tamro’s straightforward manner. “Nice to meet you, Mister Tamro. I am Kurdak, and these are my companions, Leguna and Vera.”
The three returned the military men’s salutes. They were not soldiers themselves so they had to improvise their own salute.
“Alright, we’re short on time, so let’s cut to the chase,” Tamro began, “I received information from the empire saying you’re a 15-strata warrior, you’re a 14-strata assassin, and you’re a 12-strata ranger. Is that correct?” he asked as he pointed at each of them in turn.
“It is,” Kurdak nodded. Only he and Leguna had a badge, Vera and Eirinn had joined them. So, Kurdak registered the other two as well.
Tamro spoke again after a moment of silent contemplation.
“I have a mission for you.”
“Please tell us more. We cannot accept a mission we know nothing about,” Kurdak wasn’t a rookie, he knew how to play the game.
“Hmph!” the magus snorted in his corner.
Kurdak glanced at him before ignoring him again.
Magi were a naturally arrogant and self-important bunch. It was almost as though it was a prerequisite for becoming one. The man was most likely thinking that if even he had to obey orders and come to this shit hole, these three peasants had no right to turn down a simple mission.
Tamro didn’t share his proclivity for irritation, it seemed. He handed a few bound sheets of paper over without hesitation.
“Our intel suggests the Stokians have started mimicking us by deploying some elite units to interfere with our supply lines. I need you to take them out.”
“Why don’t you just send out your own forces?” Kurdak asked.
“They’re few, but that also makes them very mobile. The numbers of men we have to deploy to overwhelm their greater strength can’t move and respond fast enough to keep up. Simply put, if we’re mobile enough, we’re too weak, if we’re strong enough, we’re too slow. And I’d also like to not lose any men over this.”
“So we’re the meat for the grinder, huh?” Kurdak spoke coldly. He dropped the paper on the desk. “--They average ten strata, and each unit has six or seven people. What makes you think a party of three can deal with them?”
“Because you have a top-four with you,” Tamro said as he glanced at Leguna, “You yourself are a high-order warrior. Not to mention the commotion you lot cause back in Lance… The Eye of Arcana suffered heavily at your hands.”
A noose suddenly made the three’s necks itch. They didn’t think the commander actually knew their background.
“Relax, children,” the magus finally spoke. He let his aura slowly permeate the room.
Kurdak took a deep breath. He motioned for the other two to stand still.
“The bureau gave us your portfolios,” Tamro said, “I didn’t think one of the top four was the legendary Leguna Dark Requiem who killed two high-order magi.”
“Am I that famous?” Leguna asked, a bitter smile on his face.
“Everybody in the Federation knows about you. We’ve not had news of you here yet. Relations between the Empire and the Federation are… strained. But, thanks to the bureau, the empire still has some knowledge of you.”
Arikos, do you have something against me? Leguna asked. The bureau’s involvement made this very difficult.
He’d thought he could elope with Annelotte and go live somewhere really rural. Which was why he’d avoided making a name for himself on Chino. He had not expected things to go this way. Now he had no choice but to become well-known to win Annelotte back.
“Yes, I’m Leguna Dark Requiem.”
“So you’re the one that took out Bloodhand?”
“You acted against regulation, but I should thank you for getting rid of those pests,” Tamro said as he saluted again. “So, since you have someone that can wipe out a whole brotherhood single-handedly, what’s so tough about dealing with a few Stokians?”
The three were speechless. They didn’t think a serious military man like him would play word games.
“Ley is strong, but we’re not invincible. Dealing with a unit elites or two isn’t a problem, but their numbers makes this very dangerous, especially for Vera.”
Tamro was silent for a moment.
“I am still Fort Kesta’s commander.”
Previous Chapter Next Chapter