143. Chapter 143 – Heartbeat
The torrential rain hitting the armor was pouring down without knowing when it would stop. The rainwater seeping through the cracks stung the man’s skin, robbing him of his thoughts and senses. Still, the dyed blood wasn’t washed away.
Around the man, the soldiers of the Archipelago who had just been buried sank to the ground. It wasn’t known how many people he had killed since the war began.
“The, the main castle, has fallen.”
“The main army has already……”
Said a subordinate of the man with a trembling voice.
All that could be heard was a tragedy. A decisive defeat in a battle. The defense of the Labyrinth City with the remaining forces would never come true. After all, the long-awaited Republic reinforcements were prevented from arriving in time by the Forest Alliance and the Archipelago, leaving them stranded.
Even a toddler could understand the situation. The man, the country had lost the war. His heartbeat felt like it was about to burst, so he suppressed his rough breathing to calm it down. He couldn’t collapse. At least, not yet.
“Huuu, uh, huh, our, city…”
A subordinate, lying on the ground with his armor off, stretched out his trembling hand. The wound was pressed with a cloth and a bandage, but the bleeding didn’t stop. While the blood entered the ground, life was leaving the body.
The man, willing to get dirty, went down on his knees and pushed back the fingers of the dying subordinate.
“We’re still holding out. Republic reinforcements are coming soon.”
With a smug look on his face, the man lied to his men. Destruction of the main army, fall of the Labyrinth City. The truth was too cruel.
“Fuh, ha, hah, you’re, still bad, at lying, aren’t you?”
The man was naive and stupid. He couldn’t even let his dying subordinates go in peace.
“Stop, don’t talk anymore. It will hurt your wounds.”
Don’t let the dying subordinate talk. The man tried to reassure him in this way, but he shook his head in denial and continued.
“I’m, gonna die. That, much, I know…… a, aah, f*ck, I couldn’t, do anything, in the end. Definitely, definitely, they, will…”
Before the subordinate could say his last words, life finally left his body. The man closed his eyelids.
Then the man raised his voice and stood up. The market price, the fate of the soldiers who couldn’t protect their country and compatriots, was decided.
The man pulled out the spear that was still in the corpse and brushed off the blood clung to it.
“Well, then, let’s go!! That’s―― all we can do after all.”
At the man’s word, the soldiers under his command raised their weapons and responded. A collection of exhausted, wounded soldiers. Compared to the soldiers of the Archipelago attacking the city, they were really small in numbers.
There was already no chance of victory. Even after the soldiers realized that, they were about to throw themselves to their deaths.
The man gave up everything he needed except the fight and was about to give the order to attack, but was stopped by his subordinate who was guarding him.
“Wait a minute, a messenger…”
“Messenger? Now that the main castle has fallen, who…?”
It had been a long time since the army hadn’t received proper orders. From where and who sent the messenger at this kind of time?
Panting and breathing on his shoulders, the messenger began to convey information to the man.
“It seems that Gundor-sama has successfully escaped. The surviving units, are, to leave the city, through the Suderin Forest.”
“No way, are you telling me to live in shame? Look, people are being trampled in front of me!!”
The man’s nails dug into his flesh, and his clenched fists bled.
Through the wind and rain, the soldiers’ cries reached the man.
“The continuation… it’s not over yet. Definitely, a rematch…”
The temptation of destruction invited the man over and over.
What would the man do?
The soldiers who had shared the battlefield so far were behind him. Whatever decision he would make, they would follow him without question. In fact, they waited silently for the next order, without a word.
Staring at his immobile men, the hesitant man made a choice.
“I… We, will come back. To this city, definitely. No matter how many years it takes!!”
Vengeance, the man wailed so resolutely in his heart. The next moment his vision was distorted, and then rapidly brightened.
“……Ah, my bad. Did I fall asleep…? It’s about time.”
Too much time had passed for Fausto. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Fausto’s career since his appearance on the bloody stage was the history of the Adventurer’s Guild Belgana Branch. The guild was made up of various individuals. A swordsman trained to the extreme, an armed monk with a bad drinking habit, a sarcastic scout, an up-and-coming group that would be responsible for the next generation, and many more―― they were no longer there. Fausto killed them all.
Anger, frustration, confusion, their faces at the last moment, were still stuck deep in Fausto’s heart. They studied together, encouraged each other, taught each other, and laughed together.
Of course, it was unnecessary. For such an act was too much to call it a deception. Each time he killed someone, the number of acquaintances and friends he could interact with decreased, and each time, his humanity was scrapped.
“I’m really, foolish.”
A mass of self-contradictions.
Selfish and shallow. Perhaps too much of it.
Fausto despised himself for being in contact more than necessary with people who were in contradictory positions, and for pretending that he was repentant.
On “that day” when Fausto cried, his mind was full of anger, shame, and regret. Only a century had passed since then, but he couldn’t always remain faithful to these feelings.
Sweet and weak. And that was the reason Fausto lost everything. That should be.
Fausto felt that he had to let go of his emotions. Otherwise, for what purpose did his comrades-in-arms who had died earlier and those who had been buried until now die? He had to go crazy for them, in the right way. Yes, in the right way.
Fausto, who had regained his usual expressionless face, slowly opened his eyes.
Everything would begin and end in less than half an hour.
Before Fausto lined up his compatriots who had lived together for a century, the descendants of the people whose future had collapsed and perished. Thousands, tens of thousands of compatriots from the time of the Unification War had become fewer.
“The time for staying in hiding is over. You’ve endured well until now.”
Only silence answered Fausto eloquently.
The slums, though dirty as sludge, were really comfortable. Compared to the previous dormant time, it could be said that half an hour, felt like an instant.
A low, muffled sound echoed through the city. Slowly it spread out like a chain. It was a curse and a blessing. The start and the end.
Screams and cries echoed off the walls. To Fausto’s ears, it sounded like a hymn. The die was cast. No stepping back.
“Rematch, it’s a rematch!! Raise the battle flag in our city!! The old man――Gundor-sama, is concentrating on the operation and preparation of the legion. We will continue to attack the key points!! Don’t stop walking even if you lose your eyes!! This is the final war we’ve been longing for. Let’s remind them, whose land this is, and whose tombstone we paid for this false peace. One last time, Prove your loyalty to King Eisenbagh van Gundor!!!”
Fausto’s command, which had never been given before, echoed through the room. The soldiers shouted, raised their swords, stamped their feet, and answered his cry.
A hundred years of silence had finally been broken, and Fausto’s heart, which had stopped since the Unification War, began to beat again.
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