With the help of Annelotte's magic and Alissanda's superb commanding, the conquest of Fort Kesta went on without a hitch.
While the barbarians from the northern highlands weren't proficient in climbing and jumping due to their body sizes, they were able to swarm into the fort thanks to the opening Annelotte made.
Whether it be in their nature or culture, every barbarian behaved like a wild beast. They charged into the fray with a deathly fervor and wreaked havoc with their weapons imported from the Dusk Zone. They seemed to be able to defy the odds of death itself and even they were surprised they only suffered minor wounds from the exchanges. Usually, it was all too common for them to lose limbs in their fights in the northern highlands.
The siege lasted till noon the next day. While the Stokians were aware that the thousands of soldiers in the fort weren't able to repel the Hockians, they didn't think they would fall that quickly.
It didn't take Alissanda even five days since his arrival to take the fort. The results were nothing short of amazing. Naturally, Annelotte played a huge role in it as well. If not for her expert use of magic to breach the walls of the fort, they would've had much trouble during the battle.
By the next evening, the Hockians properly took back control of their fort. Many soldiers wearing the eagle badge of the empire could be seen cleaning the battlefield up. Some barbarians were arguing over spoils. But when they saw the human warriors glare at them, they chose to settle the matter peacefully.
Annelotte and her students were sent to their rooms for their meals and meditation. Alissanda had considerately stationed guards to keep them safe.
The reason he did so was to ensure they wouldn't come to harm. While the fort had been taken, nobody could be sure whether any Stokian warriors or assassins were still in the unexplored corners of the fort. Magi without mana were probably even weaker than normal people. The students had been fighting the whole night and were at their weakest, so protecting them was a must.
Additionally, the students would have instant access to any services. The prince, knowing that it was their first time witnessing the gore of battle, understood that they would certainly feel disturbed after it all ended, even if they were still able to keep themselves together and fling a few fireballs when it all went down. They might need some sort of counselling, and experienced veterans would be perfect for the task. Naturally, he picked only the knights from Goldeagle he was familiar with to make sure they were delicate enough for the task of counselling.
It was also a gesture of goodwill for Annelotte. His evaluation of her had risen considerably after the battle. Now, she was nothing short of a perfect person to him. He believed that even if he couldn't come to use her completely, he would at least have to make sure she didn't become his enemy. He would only feel assured after he made sure every detail was done to make sure that wouldn't come to pass.
Annelotte nodded to the soldiers at the entrance and said, "Good evening. I'm Annelotte and I'm here to see the children inside."
"The field marshal has given you free passage everywhere, please enter!" The guards were explicitly commanded to go along with her.
Innilis vomited nonstop into the toilet bowl. It all started half an hour after she started to rest and had lasted nearly an hour. She couldn't eat at all; she had probably expunged all her stomach acid too.
When she had nothing more to churn out, she twitched and let out nothing but air from her mouth. The feeling of disgust was still there and she couldn't leave the toilet.
A glow of magic covered her from behind. When the spell settled in her body, she felt much more clear-headed and the urge to vomit lessened considerably.
She turned back surprisingly and saw Annelotte watching her with a worried gaze.
She averted her gaze as if she didn't want her seeing how pathetic she looked while vomiting.
"There's nothing to hide, Innie," she said as she approached and stroked her head. "Many students are vomiting like you are now. It's a normal reaction when going into battle for the first time."
"But… I thought I would be stronger than this…"
"It's a reflex. It has nothing to do with your willpower. Even the strongest people have to eat. This is no different. Also, I think you're mistaken about something."
"About what?" She tilted her head in puzzlement.
"I'm not trying to talk you down, but I want you to understand that you're not stronger than other people. You just try much harder. That's why you perform better."
The glow in her eyes faded. She knew Annelotte was merely speaking the truth. Had it not been for her attempt to poison her in the first place, which caused the enthymemic storm to break out, she wouldn't be able to use even a single magic missile.
"I'm not trying to deny your efforts at all. I just hope that you don't take on too many burdens for yourself. You're still young, after all."
"But I really want to grow stronger! I want Big Bro Leguna to see that I'm amazing as well!"
Annelotte was a little taken aback. She smiled and said, "You silly girl…"
"That fellow has long known about your efforts and qualities," she replied with a smile.
"If that's the case, why did he wait all that time until the annual celebration…"
"That's because that fool is hesitating. It has nothing to do with you," Annelotte said without hesitation. She knew all about Leguna delaying to fulfil his promise to take her as his fiancee. It was all out of consideration for her own feelings that he did so, but that ended up hurting Innilis. How could Annelotte possibly let that slide?
That was what Annelotte found most infuriating about him. He always wanted to try to solve things with a perfect solution only to end up not doing anything and hurting everyone involved.
Innilis was still young and didn't understand all that, so she did her best to console her, "He cares about you a lot! During the few days of the celebration, he was so excited he couldn't even sleep."
"Don't you trust me? Also, didn't he go through with it in the end? Is there any more doubt in your mind?" She gave her nose a pinch.
"Since that's the case…" She rolled her eyes as if she had decided on something.
"Hey, what are you thinking about?" Annelotte was surprised to see her turn red.
"N-nothing!" She shook her head in a hurry. To prevent any further questioning, she changed the subject. "By the way, Sis Annie, there's something I want to ask you about."
"What is it?"
"Sis Annie, how do you do so many different things at once? I still think what happened yesterday was really amazing…"
She gave it some thought and said with limitless confidence, "Well, I've never thought there was anything I couldn't do. When I want to do something, I'll act on it and it'll work out."
"Field Marshal…" Lisana quietly knocked on Alissanda's door. While she knew it was bad to disturb him at this hour, she couldn't stand the waiting any longer. If she didn't cut it off for good, she was worried she would come to regret her decision and remain a useless person by his side. That would be even more torture for her.
"Lisana? Come in!" he said from inside.
He looked at her and apologetically said, "I'm sorry, Lisana. I was far too busy, so I didn't have time to visit you. What's up?"
"Sir, I…" She took out the resignation letter she hastily wrote just now and placed it on his desk hesitantly. "I… want to resign…"Previous Chapter Next Chapter