Reason for Fighting
"Is that true?" A look of hope appeared on Eirinn's face.
Looks had always been something that bothered her as most of her misfortune stemmed from them. If she really did have a chance to be rid of her predicament, it was as if her life would start anew.
Seeing how happy she looked, Leguna calmed down somewhat. He was initially worried that Nancy and Alpacino's deaths would continue to weigh on her, but now it seemedit wasn't as serious as he initially imagined.
Though, Eirinn wasn't a child either and wouldn't show all her thoughts transparently on her face, so Leguna knew that didn't mean she definitely forgot about what had troubled her only recently.
For her to completely heal and recover, time was needed. Leguna also had to find a way to give the two a proper funeral.
Getting the corpses back wouldn't really be difficult. Since they weren't gifted, their bodies had no real value in research anyways.
Having made up his mind, Leguna immediately wrote a letter to the Stokian general, David, in Fort Kesta. Though the two empires had been at war for long, they kept the tradition of returning bodies of dead soldiers to one another. The reason Saron even kept Alpacino and Nancy's bodies in the first place was to goad Leguna to fight him.
Though Saron did defeat Leguna, he ended up losing to Annelotte. He had brought it upon himself and lost his life in the process. With Saron dead, those two bodies were no longer useful and they would be wise not to try anything with Leguna.
So, David casually agreed that he would return the two bodies.
However, Leguna did request for his equipment to be returned as well, which was a little troubling. Those equipment were far from average and sending them to the millennium capital could earn him Jilroan's favor…
The handing over of the bodies went on without a hitch, but David was shocked to see the cohort that came to receive those bodies.
There were Leguna himself, Glacial Empress Annelotte, the half elf Eirinn and Marolyt, the galestorm swordsaint.
When David first saw Marolyt from the battlements, he felt his scalp numb. Though the swordsaint hadn't involved himself in the war between the empires, he did just retrieve his heavily injured daughter from the Stokians a few days ago. It was common knowledge on the continent how much he cared for her and who could say for sure whether the insane old man would destroy Fort Kesta just to vent his anger?
However, reality proved him wrong. Though Marolyt followed along, he was just there because he worried that Annelotte was heading to a Stokian fort. He was only there to be her bodyguard.
With the galestorm swordsaint's presence, the Stokians didn't dare to pull any tricks. They cordially addressed the Hockians and handed the two bodies over without trouble.
How they would be buried was best left to their next of kin, so Leguna spent the past few days searching for any information about their families.
In the end, Alpacino's body was sent back to his hometown in a casket, which wasn't much trouble for Leguna to arrange.
Initially, Hocke wasn't going to pay Alpacino's pension since he didn't die in Fort Kesta and was considered a deserter. However, Leguna later found out how the low-order warrior fought without care of his own life for Eirinn to buy her some time. Eirinn broke into tears immediately after hearing the truth and Leguna pulled some strings to make sure Alpacino's family was given the highest amount of pension possible. He was also posthumously declared a brave warrior of Hocke and his name was inscribed in a monument honoring fallen warriors in Melindor where others came to pay their respects.
Though, Leguna didn't know about what happened between Alpacino and Eirinn before they parted ways. Only the two involved and Pyro knew about the matter. With Alpacino dead and Pyro being an immaterial existence, Leguna would never find out about the matter if Eirinn didn't talk about it, and she decided to forget that ever happened.
As such, Leguna never learned about the truth of the matter. Otherwise, he wouldn't go through the trouble of dealing with Alpacino's funeral.
What was interesting was every soldier's name on the monument had a short epitaph about their selfless sacrifice for the empire. However, Leguna requested Alpacino's be 'a brave soul who fearlessly sacrificed himself for his ideals and love'.
In the end, Leguna did acknowledge what Alpacino had done for Eirinn. But if he were still alive…
On the other hand, Nancy's burial was a different matter. After some investigation, Leguna learnt the medic had no family, so Eirinn, her student, was her closest relative, so to speak. He thus left her corpse to Eirinn.
"Teacher always desired peace. She once told me Fort Kesta would never see tranquility as long as the war raged on. So, let this be her resting place! I want to let her see how the fort and its inhabitants find peace like she always wished," Eirinn said after some thought.
After the decision was made, Annelotte used her spells to construct a beautiful cemetery on a hill near the fort. Leguna moved the casket there and Eirinn was the one who did the burying herself.
Though the other two had wanted to help, Eirinn insisted that she do it alone.
The whole ordeal took quite a long time, but thankfully, she had the constitution of a mid-order priestess and the bloodline of the dark elves. Annelotte even secretly used Oxen Might on Eirinn, allowing a girl who wasn't even twenty to complete the task alone.
After that, Eirinn stood blankly in front of the grave for a minute and cried out loud.
Leguna didn't step forward to console her this time. He would let her cry her heart out so that her pain and grief could be released and forgotten.
Annelotte dictated a few spells to ensure that Eirinn wouldn't faint and fell silent. After a moment, she turned to Leguna and whispered.
"What is it?"
"Why are people always at war? Why are they always killing each other?" she asked, despite being the one who consoled Leguna about the exact same matter when they were in orcish land on Lance.
Back then, it wasn't like Annelotte had had an epiphany about the matter. She just hadn't bothered thinking about it. She hadn't experienced much in life at that point in time and was much colder. All she cared about was do what Wayerliss told her and help Leguna grow. So, she fought to accomplish a very specific goal. That was why she was certain enough in her own convictions to soothe Leguna's doubts.
But lately, she had left Moonshadow. If she had carried out her missions because she wanted to survive back then, she now lived on for her own sake. What did living for oneself mean, however? That was something she hadn't understood yet. She didn't know why she still had to kill even while living for her own sake. She wasn't sure why she was researching tools of slaughter and destruction. She didn't know why others also went so far to kill and hurt. How did war even come about?
Leguna was quite taken aback by the question. He scratched his head before answering, though it wasn't much of an answer.
"I don't know either."
"Then, why do you kill?" Annelotte asked.
"I--" Leguna pondered for a long moment. "--For myself, for you… maybe. I kill for the bureau so I can get more power and authority. I can't protect myself and all of you if I don't have that."
He didn't really know whether that was the case. All he knew was he was far busier than before and no longer had time to ponder such complicated questions.
Without responding, Annelotte looked at the gloomy Marolyt.
"What about you, Father?"
"I don't have an answer either," he said somberly.
He glanced at the distant fort.
"I feel strife and war are innate characteristics of life. As long as different lifeforms exist and have sentience, conflict is sure to arise. Conflicts evolve into fights and those are the seeds of war."
"Does that mean war won't ever disappear?" she asked.
Marolyt nodded. "That's how I see it, my daughter."
"So that's why Pops never gets involved in wars?" Leguna chirped in, "War is inevitable after all and is that why you feel that involving yourself to stop it is pointless since it'll start all over again?"
"That's not it."
Marolyt said, shaking his head.
"Why then?" Leguna couldn't help but ask.
"Because--" Pain crept into the suddenly very old man's eyes. "--I don't want to walk the same path as them…"Previous Chapter Next Chapter