Though the destruction of the cannons caused the troops at Seatide to be overwhelmed, besieging such a large city was still no simple affair.
The Hockian soldiers had fumed with rage over the presence of the cannons lately and now that they had finally been dispatched, they were invigorated and charged for their enemies like hungry wolves.
Even with the disparity in numbers and morale between the both sides, the siege lasted more than ten hours. The start of the battle was marked by the horn signal blown at dawn. By the time the Hockians began cleaning up the battlefield, it was already midnight. Seatide was still rather busy at that time, both because of the Hockian troops who just entered and set up camp as well as the citizens they welcomed them.
Seatide had always been a Hockian city. Most of its inhabitants believed themselves to be Hockian citizens, and that wasn't helped by the frequent mistreatment they received from the Stokian troops during the past two years of their occupation. When the Hockian army finally encircled the city, a rather huge commotion manifested within. By the time the city fell and changed hands, the citizens welcomed the warriors of their nation with their locally produced dried seafood and rice wine.
General Manhattan agreed to cut the troops some slack. They had been warring for a long time for the sake of taking Seatide back and rest was long due. Though, it was a given that their rest would only start after they settled down in the city.
At that time, a portion of the Hockian soldiers moved into the bases formerly occupied by the Stokians. The others were forced to camp outside the city temporarily due to lack of space within.
Manhattan had wanted Leguna and the rest to rest within Seatide for a couple of days, but he refused because Kurdak's unit camped outside. He felt it better to spend time with his 'boss' out in the wilderness instead of enjoying the comforts the city had to offer. He didn't know when he would meet them again after this mission anyway, so he wanted to make sure he spent what time that remained together.
However, Leguna was destined to be unable to seek Kurdak out that night. Kurdak's brigade also participated in the siege and he still had to help out with the injured, lost and dead. He was busy moving all over the place and Vera was also nowhere to be seen.
As for Eibron, he returned to camp with Leguna when he was done with guarding the captives. The two of them let other guards take over the watch while Leguna hurried to Annelotte to report the results of his mission.
Come to think of it, I'm the bureau head. Why am I reporting the results of my mission to my subordinate? thought Leguna awkwardly. On the surface, Leguna was the new head of the bureau while Annelotte joined to be his assistant. Annelotte should've been the one reporting to him.
Yet, the two of them acted no different from usual. The difference in status wasn't enough to overcome their usual dynamic. Leguna was always the one beneath Annelotte and that was why he would do her errands so readily.
"Annie, are you asleep?" He whispered. After many bloody lessons, Leguna finally learned to whisper before entering her personal space. Other times, he ran into her bathing, changing into sleepwear, and much else.
The thought of that sent a chill down his spine. He had heard that Moonshadow's alchemy department helped her awaken her fourth gift after they studied her abilities. Even though she had kept it quiet to herself, Leguna wasn't keen on finding out the hard way.
"I'm awake come in."
Only after receiving her permission did he enter. She closed her tome and slipped it in her dimensional pocket.
"I was researching a level-nine spell. I'm now at the 17th stratum and learning a few of them to use as trump cards is important." Annelotte stood up and noticed the blood on Leguna as well as some wounds. "Are you hurt?"
"Ah, the battlefield was so chaotic that I think only someone like pops can emerge completely unharmed," Leguna said, "But it's no big deal. They're small wounds."
She shuddered after hearing it, having only just understood that Leguna had been moving about on the battlefield for the whole day. She wasn't a stranger to war and was aware of how cruel a place the battlefield could be. She only wanted him to bring it up to Manhattan to be allowed to deal with the captive magi. It wouldn't be appropriate for her to do it herself since it wouldn't be appropriate for an 'assistant' like her to make such a request.
"I only wanted you to talk to General Manhattan about it," she whispered.
"I know, but if I let the warriors do as they pleased, I'm afraid a good number of those magi will be killed. I managed to save quite a few there, and one of them is even a mid-order magus! And you wouldn't believe how it was like when I met Londo. That fellow was intentionally looking for magi to behead on the walls. If I didn't stop him, he would no doubt gain the moniker of Magebane!"
Annelotte kept silent for a moment. All of a sudden, she said, "Strip."
"Wait, what? Isn't that kind of reward a little too sudden?"
"I'm only trying to heal you," she said plainly.
"Isn't it a lot of work? There are medics and priests in the force and I can get them to do it. I'm also dirty and smelly from running around all day," he said awkwardly.
"Stop whining, let me treat you!" Annelotte seemed rather annoyed. She furrowed her slim eyebrows and blushed.
"Well... Alright." He was quite taken aback by her attitude, but since she was already growing mad, he could only go with her wishes. He shyly removed his armor and clothes before hugging his chest with both hands.
"What's... What's there to hide?" She finally showed some signs of embarrassment and nervousness. Raising her pitch, she said, "I've seen it a few times when you were hurt back then. What's so embarrassing about it now?"
"I was either out cold or badly injured back then. But now... this feels weird."
"Idiot! You made me it weird for me too! You better look for a priest!"
"Come on, I already stripped. Are you going to ask me to leave just like that?" Leguna said with a pained look.
"Well... Alright," she agreed after much deliberation, "But don't act all shy!"
"Alright, fine!" He grit his teeth and put his hands down, puffing his chest out to her.
"Ah! What are you doing?!" A hint of rage appeared on her face as she shot a magic missile in the way of his stomach.
"Ouch!" Leguna almost puked from the strike. He rubbed where it hurt for a good long while before he said tearfully, "Come on, you were the one who wanted me to act natural, weren't you?"
"Ah... I'm... I'm sorry," she apologized in the weakest voice possible.
I really shouldn't have listened to Sis Lisana... It feels really awkward right now! she thought with some regret.
Annelotte's actions that day was indeed weird. Apart from Leguna himself, even she herself could see that. The reason for that was none other than Lisana.
Perhaps it was because she was thankful for how he stood out for her without regard for his own safety back then, maybe someone asked her to do it, or she just couldn't stand seeing Leguna and Annelotte behaving awkwardly when they're together anymore. Regardless, Lisana put her plans into action when she was still learning from Marolyt.
Lisana was no fool and knew that most of the problems between those two was on Annelotte. So, she conveniently used her status as her father's disciple to have a few talks with Annelotte.
Details aside, even Annelotte had to admit that Lisana had quite the sharp wit. She tried her best to advise Annelotte and managed to change her attitude from adamantly refusing to admit her feelings for him to her admitting that she felt differently about him than she did other men.
In the end, Annelotte forced herself to accept Lisana's suggestions. One of them was for her to not be so cold and harsh on him. It would be great if she showed Leguna her gentle and bubbly side.
Maybe she decided to put the advice into action now that Leguna was hurt. The words repeated themselves in her mind so many times that she had no choice but to give it a try. Yet, now, it seemed to her like a stupid decision to make.
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