Volunteering for Duty
Lisana took two deep breaths and regained a normal rhythm before blowing a loud whistle.
A pure, white and small horse ran through the tattered battlefield towards her. It was a horse Alissanda had personally picked for her, a pureblood Keder warhorse. Horses of this breed numbered far and few in between and usually, only rich and powerful nobles or merchants would be able to get their hands on them.
This warhorse, in particular, was even rarer. It was pure white without any other coloration on its body, and was slightly more petite compared to usual fierce and large Keder war horses, so it fit Lisana's female physique rather well.
Despite its smaller in size, its endurance and power were not one bit weaker than normal war horses. Lisana knew that even Alissanda would have to put in lots of effort to find a warhorse like that. It seemed that the prince was quite attentive to her needs after all.
The thought of that caused her face to heat up and redden.
She looked hazily at the small horse beside her and clumsily stood up and prepared to mount it.
But at that moment, a Stokian warrior who was still breathing stood up. He had been given a shield bash by another knight from Goldeagle before he fainted, yet he managed to regain consciousness that quickly.
As he had just woken up, he wasn't able to get a grasp of his situation immediately. Otherwise, he would've chosen to drop his weapon and surrender. While Goldeagle was powerful, they would never mistreat or torture prisoners of war. Usually, they would survive if they chose to surrender.
The warrior shook his head awake and noticed a Hockian soldier unstably trying to get on a mount. Even though he didn't quite understand why Goldeagle would have a female soldier, he wouldn't be mistaken about her identity given her uniform.
So, he ignored his hazy mind and made his way forwards, not letting go of his sword, and thrusting it towards her back.
Lisana was already hampered by her cramps and couldn't move well and was distraught when she thought about the lengths Alissanda went through to get her that horse. Even though she was a high-order warrior and was tutored by none other than Marolyt himself, she only detected the attack when she heard the sound of the wind parting from the enemy's blade. It wasn't enough time for her to react.
Lisana didn't feel the pain she was expecting. Turning around with a look of shock, she found Alissanda looking at her with a frustrated look with Lunaminous slung over his shoulders.
"You can't be the slightest bit careless on the battlefield. You of all people should know better," Alissanda reprimanded. He was mounted on a large, black Keder horse. His golden air made it seem like he was glowing.
"I understand my mistake, Sir," she said with her head lowered.
"Seriously… Even though you're my guard, I'm the one who has to protect you… If this happens again, I'll have to take you off guard duty," he said with a furrowed brow before he turned and left.
Even though it was a mere joke, Lisana's face paled immediately after hearing it.
The disparity between their abilities only just occurred to her. If not for Alissanda's gifts as a light breaker, Lisana was confident she could face him in battle with what Marolyt taught her. But with his nearly undying abilities, she would no doubt lose within ten short minutes in battle with him.
In other words, the person she was supposed to protect was much more powerful than her!
If that was the case, what point would there be for her to serve as his guard? Would she really lose that position? If that happened, where would she go?
Among the many sentient beings in this world, humans were undoubtedly the most emotionally complex. Love was easily the emotion that was strong enough to engulf most people in full. No two people experience love entirely the same.
Except, there was one commonality. When one is in love, one would no doubt be affected by the slightest smile or act of the person of their affection. The slightest gesture was enough to send their emotions spiraling to heaven or hell and back.
Currently, she felt like she was being thrown into hell. She knew that she was no longer someone Alissanda couldn't do without no matter what. That was a sign of danger. It meant she could be abandoned at any time.
She didn't know how she eventually returned to the fort with the rest of the troops, nor did she remember what Alissanda said about their plans during the meeting. She only remained mechanically by his side, feeling shame, regret and dejectedness for not being strong enough.
"Barbarians aren't suited for sieges," a commander said during the meeting, "Back then, they only accompanied our troops in raiding smaller areas like villages and towns. However, they were never brave enough to send their own to take strongly fortified cities. These barbarians are most proficient in charging into the fray on flat plains for a melee, but walls… Your Hig-- I mean, Marshal, please forgive me for being direct. They have no siege experience at all."
"You speak sense, Olif," Alissanda voiced his agreement before he turned to the map of Fort Kesta on the walls and fell into deep thought.
"Marshal, could we perhaps try to take Fort Kesta's main gates facing the north?" Olif suggested.
"I've considered that long ago. However, you should know how tall the fort's walls are. Apart from a freak like Leguna, nobody would be able to scale those walls without being noticed. Even if there was, they wouldn't be able to open the doors. The only people capable of opening those doors might have to be at least a high-order warrior. But if they fail… I doubt we can take such a loss."
"Then, why don't we…," another commander said. His intentions were clear. They would send Leguna in. With Annelotte working with him, they would be able to take Fort Kesta back by paying only a low price.
However, he stopped himself halfway through, knowing that it was pointless. Alissanda definitely wouldn't be opposed to getting Leguna's help.
However, with the battles intensifying, Leguna, being the bureau head, had less and less time. Not to mention, he had been carrying out key assassinations per Alissanda's orders for the past year.
While that helped the empire clear up quite a bit of trouble, the relationship between those two began to seem suspicious to the ministers of the empire. It wasn't that Larwin forbade his sons from having close relationships with his ministers,. They were adults, after all, and it wouldn't be surprising for them to prefer some types of people over others.
Take Geoffrey, for instance. He was definitely in cahoots with Alfreid, but even then, the most Alfreid did for him was some small favors and the construction of the magic academy. All Geoffrey did in return was give more generous promotions to members of Alfreid's household or those in the magic academy.
Those were merely small matters and as long as they weren't paraded out in the public, nobody would really mind.
However, Leguna and Alissanda were different. In terms of their jobs, Alissanda was one of the field marshal of the empire's army and controlled nearly half of all Hockian forces. Leguna, on the other hand, was the head of the intelligence bureau and controlled the empire's information networks.
Strictly speaking, Alissanda was undoubtedly higher in the pecking order. The problem was that they belonged to completely different institutions. Alissanda held no sway in the bureau at all, despite all his power.
Yet, Leguna was answering to his beck and calls and even risking his life to carry out missions from the military. Sometimes, he would even bring Annelotte along.
People couldn't help but be nervous about that relationship.
Over the past two months, those two have been walking too close, and they were quite powerful in the empire as well. Interestingly, Leguna's bad reputation contrasted well against Alissanda's glowing one. The prince was known as the Glorious Bright while Leguna was often called Shadow's Blight.
If they got too close, many ministers might feel threatened.
That was the reason Alissanda didn't ask for Leguna's help since the war resumed in spring so as not to raise the alert even higher. Instead of being doubted, he would rather let Leguna cool off and only use him during the most crucial of moments.
Considering that Leguna didn't intend to remain in the empire for long… Perhaps he should find a mission he would never return from to give to him to extract the most use out of him…
He left most of his thoughts regarding that for a later date. Now, he needed to know how he could take back the base with the smallest casualties.
"Field Marshal," Lisana said, finally snapping back to attention. She hesitated for a moment, before she mustered her courage. "If it's alright, let me take a few brothers of Goldeagle and give this a try."Previous Chapter Next Chapter