"You awake?" Eirinn asked, a basin with all sorts of medical tools and materials in her hands. She was there to switch out the bandages for Lisana.
"Sorry for the trouble," Lisana blinked.
Seeing her properly conscious, Eirinn smiled. She put her tools on the table and began undoing the old bandages. The wound was serious, so Eirinn was most delicate in her ministrations.
"You Eirinn?" Lisana asked, a pained smile dressing her lips.
"Eh? How did you know?" the girl asked, gazing at the bedridden maiden.
"I heard Mister Leguna mention it."
"That so..." Eirinn touched the scars on her face. It was really too easy to recognize her. She was the one with the terrifying scars, the ugliest one.
Lisana guessed her thoughts and spoke hurriedly.
"Mister Leguna said you are gentlest and kindest girl."
Eirinn's body shivered slightly before a smile bloomed beneath her scars.
"Thank you. I'll tell everyone quickly. Just tell the guards if you need anything."
Alissanda, Jast, Leguna, Kurdak, Vera, and a good number of Gold-eagle knights burst into the tent a few minutes later.
"It's good you're alright," Alissanda breathed.
He smiled at her encouragingly before thanking Eirinn profusely. The knights followed his lead.
"Thank goodness you're alright. If anything happened to you, I bet Alissanda would have gone crazy," Leguna smiled by the bedside.
"I won't die that easily."
Lisana was pale, but her face relaxed.
"Haha, Alissanda aside, you should've seen Ley's face when you got hurt. He was badly injured himself, but he rushed to save you. He even carried you on horseback the whole way back. He coughed up blood when he finally got off the horse in the first," Kurdak said, stroking Leguna's head like he was a dog.
"It was urgent, okay?" Leguna said, scratching his head awkwardly.
He had been so anxious not because Lisana was someone special or important to him, but because she felt similar to Eirinn.
Leguna saw only Eirinn when Lisana was hurt. His own welfare evaporated when the knife stabbed into her.
Only now could he stop worrying.
Lisana's visitors spoke to her in singles and small groups for a while before Eirinn chased them out. Alissanda wouldn't budge, however.
Vera glanced at Alissanda, stopped for a moment, then snickered and pulled on her comrades.
"What?" Kurdak asked, his brow furrowed.
"Shhh!" Vera hushed, pressing her hand over Kurdak's stubby mouth. She jerked her head in the tent's direction with a 'you know what to do' expression.
"Sis is such a busybody..." Leguna sighed as he glanced at the woman.
"Come on, we have nothing better to do. Let's watch," Vera whispered shamelessly.
"Tch, look at those two innocents. There's nothing between them! You're the only one with the dirty thoughts." Kurdak said in disinterest.
"Wait, why are you here, Eirinn?" Leguna asked, she wasn't supposed to be someone interested in gossip.
"I can't let the prince say anything that'll upset her," Eirinn rationalized, but her face was tomato-red.
"Oh, I see... I misunderstood..." Leguna quickly said, awkwardly.
"I have to thank you," Alissanda said again.
"I'm your personal guard. It's my job, Captain," Lisana replied.
This was far from the first time he'd thanked her for similar actions; she knew his real reason for staying behind would be voiced afterwards.
"Even though I'm thankful--" The prince hesitated for a moment. "--I can't ignore that you disobeyed orders. I am obligated to punish you once you've recovered."
She had prepared herself for this, but a tear still ran down her cheek when she heard the words.
"I'm sorry. I don't want to do it, but such is our regulations, I cannot disobey them."
"I know, Captain."
The cloth covering the entrance was yanked aside as two people darted in, the shorter of the two, Leguna, glared furiously at the prince.
"Punishment, you say?" the boy fumed, "Lisana saved us and nearly died doing it! She almost died to save you! Tell me, what did she do wrong?! How are you going to punish her?"
"I ordered her to withdraw, but she returned. She disobeyed orders and our regulations are very clear about the punishment," Alissanda said firmly, "She will receives twenty lashed."
Leguna nearly coughed up blood from his fury. He had spent a few months at the fort and knew well what that meant. A lashing was enough to leave a bad bruise on an impetusless person; three canes might injure them to the bone; and five would break them!
And Alissanda was going to cane Lisana twenty times?! She would be bedridden another month even if she was almost high-order.
"Ley!" Kurdak stretched out his hand.
But Leguna swatted it away. Vera also held Kurdak back, furious. Eirinn frowned as much as her scars allowed.
"Do you know what you're doing?" Leguna blasted through grit teeth.
"I do. I'm punishing a subordinate that disobeyed my orders. These are our regulations," Alissanda answered solemnly, firmly.
"No, you idiot! You're hurting someone who cares about you so much she's willing to die for you! You're breaking her!"
Alissanda stared at Leguna silently. He more than anyone else wanted to let her off. But the regulations were clear, not to mention everyone had seen her disobey orders. If he didn't discipline her, his entire unit's discipline would suffer. Alissanda's personal beliefs also required he apply the regulations impartially, regardless of how offended little Leguna might be. That said, Leguna wasn't wrong. He knew it hurt Lisana to have to be punished for this, but regulations were regulations for a reason.
"Your or my feelings in this matter are irrelevant. These are the regulations--"
"--To hell with your regulations!" Leguna cursed, "It's just an excuse! The world is always like this... You shove the rules you make on the people beneath you whilst you carefully sidestep them! You're Gold-eagle's captain and the second prince! What kind of person are you if, even with those titles, you can't spare someone who saved your life? No, it's not that you can't, you just don't want to! You don't want to!"
"This has nothing to do with you!" Alissanda snapped, "You know nothing of the military, of how important discipline is. If that falters, many more will die. Even my father, the emperor, would think a dozen times before doing what you suggest!"
"Is that so? Then let me ask you, why did you order them to retreat in the first place?"
"I wanted to protect them."
"Huh! And I thought you forgot!" Leguna mocked, "You want to protect them. Didn't Lisana make it back alive? So you're going to beat her half to death for coming back alive? You're beating her to protect her? How do you square that circle in your head?"
"..." Alissanda didn't know how to answer.
Leguna was playing word games, but they were good ones.
"Thank you," Lisana finally interjected, "But I knew what I was doing when I chose to do it, and the consequences that would inevitable come. It is right that I be punished. It doesn't matter what my intentions were, I broke the rules and that must be punished. I have no complaints. I am grateful for your concern, but please don't trouble my captain."
"Is that how you really feel?" Leguna asked, glancing at her.
"Yes," she said resolutely.
Leguna stared at her for a moment before spitting.
"Fine, this is between you two. I'm just an outsider. Do whatever the hell you like!"
Leguna turned around to leave, still dissatisfied. He glanced back at Alissanda.
"I thought that you were a cheerful person who actually cared for your subordinates."
"But it seems you care about other things more than your comrades," Leguna's gaze was cold, "I don't know which is correct, but I've lost my respect for you. I look down on your methods, and I look down on you even more!"
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