Before, Kurdak had only seen Manhattan from afar. He was only a captain, after all. It was rare that he'd get a chance to meet the commander-in-chief of the empire's army.
But today, Kurdak finally had a chance to meet someone of his rank.
Manhattan was largely built, being around 1.85 meters in height. Despite him nearing his eighties, he still sported a tough and powerful body and walked with a firm and confident gait. He was the epitome of a tough old man.
His skin was dark and rugged and his face was stern as a tree's bark. Even though his eyes weren't large, there's was a captivating light to it. Anyone who tried to read his intentions from his gaze would most likely fail.
Manhattan sported a head of short, white-silver, hair about an inch long. But each strand of hair looked firm as steel wire. His beard also spread across his chin and gave him a more menacing look.
"Kurdak greets the general." As he wasn't aware why Manhattan summoned him, he behaved as carefully as he possibly could. But...
Kurdak gave the two women behind him a slight glance. It was rather odd that his aide, Vera, would be there, but it wasn't unheard of. But Lamir's presence couldn't be explained. Was there a ticket booth for the general's tent?
"How are your injuries?" A look of admiration crossed the general's gaze when he saw the large and imposing frame of Kurdak. This kid truly is good soldier material.
"Thanks to Miss Lamir, I've mostly recovered. I think I'll be back in top condition in a few more days," Kurdak said, lowering his head slightly, "I really have to thank you, General, for sending such a fine priestess to nurse me back to health."
"Whoa! Such a fine priestess, I see!" Manhattan smiled and looked at Lamir. "Priestess Lamir, it seems that Kurdak here sees you rather highly!"
"Hmph, there aren't any patients that I can't treat!" Lamir said gleefully.
Kurdak and Vera broke into cold sweat. Even though the two of them tried to be as respectful as possible, why did Lamir speak so casually to the general? Did she not know who he was?
"Haha!" Manhattan didn't seem to mind her behavior at all. He smiled and said, "I wonder whether you'll be that confident if you're in front of Miss Nancy..."
"Grandpa, come on!" Lamir acted no different from a teenage girl and gave the general a begrudging look. "Why do you always compare me with Miss Nancy?"
"Grandpa?" Kurdak was completely confused.
"Ah, apologies. I wasn't trying to hide it from you intentionally," Lamir said meekly, "My full name is Lamir Rodelades."
Kurdak wore a look of realization. The general's full name was Manhattan Rodelades, and Lamir was actually her granddaughter...
"Lamir's my only granddaughter," Manhattan said, as if to prove that point.
"Apologies for my rudeness, Miss Rodelades..." Kurdak wiped the sweat off his forehead. He conversed with the priestess quite a lot lately.
Thanks to how familiar they grew, the topics they talked about grew more inappropriate by the day, such as Leguna going to peep on Annelotte bathing or changing and sharing a bed with a little girl like a monster...
If Leguna were there, he'd definitely suspect Kurdak for being part of a smear campaign against him.
If Lamir was just a common woman, it wouldn't be a big deal for her to talk about such indecent matters, even for a high-order priestess. But she was the precious granddaughter of the general and his only young descendant. If he found that he had been telling his granddaughter a bunch of inappropriate stuff, who knew what a general like him would do?
Vera was also aware of what Kurdak had been talking to Lamir about lately and her heart skipped a beat at the realization too. She gave him a begrudging look only to find him completely pale.
"Mister Kurdak, part of why I didn't tell you who I really was was so that you wouldn't put me at a distance once you found out," Lamir said with a smile, "I'm just a normal army priestess. There's nothing special about my status."
"Lamir's right." Manhattan looked at his granddaughter lovingly and said, "There is no granddaughter of the general in the army, only an army priestess by the name of Lamir."
"Hehe! Grandpa is right!" She nodded her agreement gleefully.
"That's why..." Manhattan's face sterned suddenly. "Priestess Lamir, we are going to talk about our future plans. They're classified, so I'll have to ask you to leave!"
"Grandpa!" She pouted unhappily. "Since we're going by the books, Kurdak is my patient!"
"That's enough..." Manhattan really couldn't be too harsh on her. He said helplessly, "Go and finish your daily prayers, please. Don't trouble grandpa here."
"Fine!" She poked her tongue out to Vera and Kurdak teasingly before turning to leave.
"She's the only heir of the Rodelades household," Manhattan said softly after she left.
"Huh?" Kurdak didn't understand why he was told that.
"I feel that I owe Lamir a lot because of her father. That's why I sent her to the church when she was ten and didn't want her to be affected by the likes of us and become a typical noble lady."
"Your son..." Kurdak probed carefully.
A pained look flashed across the general's face. "He died in battle during the empire-founding war. He followed the former emperor into war."
"I'm sorry to hear that."
"It's but a thing of the past." Manhattan quickly regulated his feelings. "But now, because Lamir grew up with the church, she behaves like a teenage girl even though she's already 26. This is something I never would've predicted..."
"Umm..." Kurdak was still confused as to why Manhattan told him all that.
The general looked at Kurdak and patted his shoulder encouragingly. "I like you, kid. Perhaps you'll be interacting with her quite often in the future. I hope you can take care of her for me."
"Understood," Kurdak said, despite the murderous glare Vera was giving him. Manhattan was alluding to certain connotations, but he couldn't possibly refuse now, could he, given their difference in status?
Manhattan laughed, seemingly ignore Vera's expression. "Alright. That's all for private affairs for now. Do you know why I called you here today?"
"This foolish one doesn't know, Sir."
"Foolish?" Manhattan cracked a smile and hammered Kurdak on the shoulder lightly. "You are quite foolish, now that you mention it. You actually used such a stupid method to take on the magi squad."
"I was getting a little agitated after seeing my brothers blasted to pieces one after another," Kurdak said with a pained smile, "So I could only think of one way to do it. Fortunately it turned out well in the end."
"But you can't count on that being the case in the future," he said sternly, "As a soldier, you shouldn't be counting on the 'thank goodnesses' you get on the battlefield. Instead, be ready for the 'what ifs'! Think about it! What if you couldn't block the magi squad's attacks? What if you weren't able to survive? What if your unit suffers even heavier casualties because you weren't there to lead them? Have you considered these questions before you rushed out?"
"No..." Kurdak admitted.
Manhattan continued, "Treasuring every subordinate is indeed a praiseworthy quality for a commanding officer to have. But I hope that you remember this. While emotions triumph over logic for normal soldiers, a qualified leader always prioritizes rationale over emotions."
"I will always remember your teachings, General," Kurdak earnestly said. While Manhattan seemed to be criticizing him for being irrational, he knew that the old man was merely trying to offer him guidance. He absorbed every word his senior offered him. That was advice one couldn't buy with money alone!
After that, Manhattan went through the situation of the battle at the second outpost in detail with Kurdak. He pointed out Kurdak's flaws and mistakes while not forgetting to praise him for what he did right.
Though he was the commander-in-chief of the whole army, he was still quite well-versed in small scale battles. After hearing Manhattan's breakdown, he found that if he had done as the general had advised, the casualties would've been 20 percent lower.
After acknowledging that, his respect for Manhattan only grew.
"Alright, that's all for the last battle." Manhattan took a sip of his drink before continuing. "That's the first reason I called you there. As for the other... I heard you have a good relationship with Leguna Dark Requiem of the bureau..."
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