Ashes: Sorry I’m so late on this. 😀 I’ve been having IRL issues that have been cutting my sleep down to 4 hours a night. My brain has been operating on minimal sleep, not editing rest 😀 ❤ As of current state, I will be releasing 2 chapters a month, well above the number of donors I have. If you wish to see more releases, please donate.
Also, I’ll be trying a new format. Let me know if you guys like it.
— Fort Kaspar, A fort near Galia Fortress occupied by the Imperial Army.
Captain Samuel is dead.
Fort Kaspar’s alertness level had been risen by the news, the news brought by soldiers who had patrolled Canary Road. The gates were lit brighter than usual, and its guards were wearier. One by one, several covered corpses had been brought into the fort through the man-door next too the large double gates.
“So, is it true that Captain Samuel was killed…?”
General Osvanne, fifty years old, asked with a puzzled face. A heavyweight in the Urthbelt Empire. He had led the imperial army on its campaign to conquer the Farnesse Kingdom. He was also widely known as a warrior who fought in a way that left his opponents little room to attack.
A young officer raised his head and replied quietly.
“Yes. When the patrol arrived on the scene, they found Captain Samuel’s decapitated body. There were also ten other bodies. We’re currently in the middle of bringing them to the fort.”
“Decapitated…? Maybe its the Kingdom’s doing. Possibly in an attempt to make an example of him.”
“No, It was not the Kingdom’s doing.”
The officer refuted shortly after, which caused General Osvanne’s eyebrows to rise.
“Not the Kingdom’s doing? Then who slaughtered Captain Samuel and his men? It couldn’t possibly be just some random bandits.”
“About that… It’s…”
The officer hesitated, but Colonel Paris, one of General Osvanne’s staff officers, gave the officer a cold, sharp glare that urged him to continue on.
“The-The surviving soldiers said they were attacked by a ‘Female monster’ who wielded a ‘black sword.'”
Colonel Paris hadn’t expected what he just heard.
“Yes, they said the female monster is headed towards the Kingdom’s Capital to volunteer for their army.”
The young officer’s report almost sounded like a delusion, which caused Colonel Paris to laugh. His original position was in the intelligence division. Listening to such nonsense about a female monster, with a friendly “Is that so?”. He was sure the information had been jumbled somewhere along the road.
“That’s an entertaining story. Very well, I’ll just question that soldier directly. Bring him here.”
Paris commanded with anger. The young officer trembled as he shook his head vigorously.
“Its unfortunate, but the soldier in question is not a position to talk properly. He appears to have been traumatized by the event. Some of the other soldiers who had seen him are also beginning to create a ruckus. They’re scared that such a monster being sent against us by the Kingdom.”
“Ah, is that so…? Perhaps that means he isn’t completely wrong?”
“Your Excellency, are you trying to say that–“
“Colonel Paris, no need to waste more time.”
General Osvanne raised his left up slowly. A signal for Colonel Paris to stop talking. There were plenty of things the Colonel wanted to say. However, the soldier in question was too delirious. They’d probably never get a definite answer. So, as General Osvanne noted, it’d be a waste of time to discuss it. Time was always in short supply, after all.
“I-I was just a bit curious about it. My apology.”
“Doesn’t matter, I’ve heard enough. You’ve done well. Dismissed–“
“Please excuse me, may I have a few words?”
As General Osvanne urged the officer to leave, another had been waiting to meet with him. He wore a robe black as night, and his features were obscured by its hood. Simply stated, he was creepy. Despite still being in his thirties, he looked as if he were sixty. When his countenance was seen on occasion, what could be seen as a strangely gaunt face with sad eyes.
He was Prime Minister Dalmes. A man who often visited the fort under the Emperor’s order to check on the situation. Colonel Paris had heard that Dalmes had formerly belonged to the analysis team, and had no prospects of promotion. However, within recent years, he had advanced quickly through the ranks. Now, as the Prime Minister of the glorious Urthbelt Empire, his influence was second only to the Emperor.
Rumour was that the Emperor declared unification of the continent due to Minister Dalmes’s strong advocation. The man rarely spoke, and many called him the “Silent Prime Minster.”
“Does something bother you, Prime Minister-dono?”
General Osvanne inquired. Minister Dalmes, on the other hand, merely waved his hand and smiled.
“No, no. It’s not a big deal. However, I do feel slightly concerned about that black sword– By chance, could you describe how it looked in more detail?”
Minister Dalmes sought a better report from the young officer. Not expecting the Prime Minister would speak to him, the officer was obviously excited.
“No need to be so nervous. Please answer my question with what you know.”
He spoke with a gentle tone. Even under the dim light of the candles, the sweat was visible on the officer’s forehead. It was only natural for him to be nervous. A person with such influence within the empire had actually spoken with a mere officer such as himself.
“Don’t make his Excellency wait, just tell us what you know!”
Colonel Paris reprimanded him.
“–n, no. I haven’t really asked in particular! I just thought of it as a regular black sword!”
Seeing the young officer’s nervousness, Minister Dalmes smiled.
“Is that so? I see. Well, you may leave now.”
“Yes! P-Please excuse me!”
The officer quickly saluted before he fleed the tenet. Almost in concert, Minister Dalmes stood from his chair.
“Its already late, thank you for your hard work today.”
Minister Dalmes raised his hand slightly when Colonel Paris bowed to him. He was careful not to let his robe, he left the tent with a slow gait. As for General Osvanne, for some reason, he stared at the tent’s flap as he went. His face a ghastly pale.
“Your Excellency, what’s wrong? You’re pale.”
It was only when Colonel Paris shook the General’s shoulder did he regain his wits.
“You’re awake, are you alright?”
“N-No, its nothing. Do not worry about it.”
General Osvanne said with a smile.
“Is that so? Very well, then… Regarding that monster– Girl. If the story is true, then we’ll receive some more information from the spies we’ve placed everywhere.”
“U-uwu. In-Indeed. First of all, we must stay vigilant.”
“What will be par for course. Well then, there is still the matter of Captain Samuel’s body, so please excuse me.”
After he confirmed Colonel Paris had really gone, only then did the General fall back on his chair. Chills ran down his spine, and his heart rammed against his chest. With trembling hands, he took out a cigar from his breast pocket and forced himself to light it. After he smoked for a short while, he dared to recall that scene.
The scene of a nightmare.
“Paris seemed to not notice… But what was that just now? Prime Minister-dono’s shadow… It was shaking as if it were a living creature…“