Dantega:Volume 7 Chapter 3
Heinrich Zimmer rides atop a horse along the wet streets of Troy’s Capital city. Damp moisture fills the air as the week long stretch of cold rain finally ended in the early morning. With a cool breeze blowing through his golden hair being shined on by the bright sun, he takes in crisp breaths of determination.
Since last week, he’s been going through all the files he has on Ash Alworth in order to find out where she lives; and to his displeasure, it took him all the way until today to find it. The reason for that is that during the Trojan rebellion’s attack on Sturgess and the castle, the document room containing info on the Capital’s citizens was badly damaged. It’s taken quite along time to sort out the couple hundred thousand files in the alphabetical order they were once in, he’s just lucky that Ash’s name starts with an A, any higher and it could have taken him weeks.
With that troublesome part over, all he needs to do is go to her address and get her; he just hopes it will be as easy at it sounds. He’s tried to make himself seem less threatening by leaving his group of demon gatherers behind at the castle, but he’s still dressed in a black robe with the insignia of a pentagram on his back, and he’s riding on a large black horse that makes his presence menacing. His attempts at looking as mildly intimidating as possible is an absolute failure.
The people on the streets see him go by and all scatter in fear before he can catch eyes with them; with each step his horse takes he can hear a gasp of horror here and there along with the fleeing footsteps of the innocent people he’s been forced to torment.
After riding for a while, he finally arrives at the stoop of Ash’s house. He hops off his horse and ties the reigns to a near by street lamp.
With a few short steps up a small flight of stairs, he gives three rather loud knocks on the wooden door.
When no sound comes from inside, he twitches his eyebrow and tries again, this time he adds a couple knocks. The sound of his knuckles banging against the door echoes through the cul-de-sac and neighbors begin looking through the blinds of their windows. As soon as they see him, they shut the blinds and lock the doors as a knee-jerk reaction. As far as they know, he’ll make his way to their houses as soon as he’s done with this one.
“No one’s here huh?” he says to himself, a tinge of frustration in his tone.
Heinrich is quite disappointed that all his efforts over the past week will have to wait to come to fruition, there’s nothing he can do if there’s no one in the house.
With a final sigh, he turns off the stoop and heads towards his horse; that’s when he hears the squeaking of the door hinges to Ash’s house from behind him. He quickly turns around and sees the gingerly face of a man peeking through the crack of the door. The room behind the man is dark and it seems that the light from the outside world burns his eyes as he winces.
The man in the door is none other than Zurvick.
“Hello there, I’m looking for Ash Alworth... Would she happen to be inside?” Heinrich asked politely.
“Who are you?” Zurvick asks, hardly any emotion could be found in his tone.
“My name is Heinrich Zimmer. I work under the Army of Hell and his majesty Satan.”
Fully expecting the door to be slammed on his face, Heinrich takes a slight step back; but to his surprise, Zurvick opens the door all the way and gestures for him to enter.
“Come on in.”
“Oh...” Heinrich mutters, he hesitates for a moment while he gathers the oddness of this situation. “Sorry to intrude.”
“Thanks for allowing me into your home, could it be that you are her lover? Or are you perhaps her father?” he asked as he walks past Zurvick and into the house.
Heinrich turns around to his answer and is met with a cold sensation pressed against his neck.
Zurvick has firmly pressed the sharp end of a short-blade against his throat; with one little move, Heinrich’s aorta will be severed and he’ll bleed out in seconds. Even with this threat looming, he doesn’t even flinch and looks Zurvick square in the eyes.
Zurvick's cold glare doesn’t waver when he asks, “What is your business with her?”
“I intend to take her to the castle.”
“And after that?”
“Since you are neither a spouse nor parent, I believe that it’s none of your concern.”
Zurvick clicks his tongue and shouts, “If it involves someone I care about then it is my concern!”
“I don’t know what you want me to tell you, I’m taking her whether you like it or not.”
The eyes of Zurvick reveal a dark response to Heinrich’s words. He shows a deep frown and shouts while lunging forward, “I’ll kill you before I ever hand her over!”
It will only be a split second before Heinrich’s blood is sent spraying all over the walls of the living room, but that short time-frame doesn’t even play out before Heinrich twists his body to the left.
Zurvick’s blade skims across Heinrich’s skin, with all his weight put into that attack, he falls forward.
His arm is grabbed and his centrifugal force is pulled to his right; he then feels his leg being kicked and his body is forced downwards. The next thing he knows, he’s face first on the ground.
“If you move, you’re dead.” Heinrich said as he twists the arm of Zurvick that holds the kitchen knife.
He then pulls a his own short-blade from inside his coat, presses it against Zurvick’s spine and taps it on his bone as if saying that at any moment, he could end his life.
It takes a few moments for Zurvick to get past the shock, he can’t believe how quickly he was taken down. It was so fast that he didn’t even know what happened until he thudded onto the wooden floor. He’s either up against a freak of nature, or he’s gotten very rusty while being a shut in over the past couple months. Both explanations can be considered accurate, but that doesn’t help his current situation.
(What do I do??) he thinks as a cold sweat slides down his temple.
“I want you to listen, and listen carefully.” Heinrich orders, “You have five seconds to tell me where she is, or I’m going to cut off your head.”
(Damn it! What do I do!?) Zurvick’s inner voice rings loud and his heart-rate spikes into a frenzy.
He counted down the last three numbers extremely fast because he knows that Zurvick has no intentions of telling him anything even if he knew. From his point of view, Zurvick is just a useless friend of his target that got in his way.
He prepares to swing down his sword, but what his hostage doesn’t know is that he’s not doing it to kill him; he just wants to scare him into talking at the last second. If Heinrich were to lop of Zurvick’s head, he can kiss any chances of Ash agreeing to help him goodbye.
(Shit!!!) Zurvick thinks as all hopes of surviving are going to be blown away in just an instant.
He can feel the cold air of Heinrich's sword make its way towards the back of his neck. He throws his eyes shut and is shocked when a couple seconds go by without him feeling any different.
Zurvick then opens his eyes and looks to his left to find that Heinrich’s sword is stabbed into the floor, resting just a couple inches from his face.
That's when the familiar squeaking of the door rings through the silence of the room.
Someone has just entered.
Heinrich’s eyes are firmly planted in surprise towards the direction of the door, but Zurvick can’t see just what it is he’s looking at because his vision is blocked by the couch.
“Ah, you’ve returned.” Heinrich says with a smile, “I’ve finally found you, Ash Alworth.”
Zurvick’s worst fear has just been realized, by now he knows that Ash has just walked through the door, and he guesses she’s probably very shocked at the moment. “Get out of here Ash! He wants to take you away! Run!”
“What are you doing?” Ash calmly asked as she slowly walks in through the doorway and shuts the door behind her.
Heinrich, who hasn’t budged from his position on top of Zurvick, softly replies, “I’m here to take you to the castle.”
“I’m not talking about me.” She points to Zurvick and asks, “What are you doing to him?”
Heinrich looks down to Zurvick and then back to Ash before saying, “I don’t mean to imply that your question was stupid or anything, but don’t you think that the answer is quite obvious?”
“Tch!” Ash clicks her tongue and sends him a hate filled glare. She takes a few deep breaths and calms herself down, making her way towards him, she says, “I’ll go with you, so just let him go.”
“Oh? I can’t help but wonder why you’re so calmly agreeing to come with me.”
“You’re holding my friend hostage, why else?”
“I can think of a multitude of reasons, but none of them matter right now. As long as you are cooperating, there is no need for me to use violence to get you to come with me.”
Ash puts her hands up and inches forward smoothly, her gaze never shifts from Heinrich’s eyes when she says, “Alright, you can put that blade away now. No one’s here to threaten you.”
“You know I can't do that, because as soon as I do, this guy here becomes a threat again. I’d be stupid to just toss away my biggest advantage, two people against one would put me in quite the pinch.”
“Just get that damn sword away from him or else I’ll!!!----“
“Or else you’ll what?” Heinrich interjects, “You’ll refuse to come with me? I don’t know what basis you’re deriving your negotiation skills on, but you have no leverage against a guy with a weapon.”
By now, Ash knows full well that Heinrich isn’t going to do anything unless he sets the boundaries first. At the beginning, she was willing to accept that, she would have been escorted to the castle just like she had planned and she would have found a way to reach Satan. But now however, he has the ability to kill Zurvick with a flick of his wrist and doesn’t seem to want to let go of that trump card. She could go quietly like he asks, but that still might not be enough to sway him from beheading Zurvick.
The fact that Zurvick could still die no matter what she chooses, forces her to do something that blasts away all plans of reaching the castle through Heinrich. Instead, she’s going to have to do something rash. Since the man sending Troy into a daily panic is alone in her house, she can kill him off without anyone even noticing, and take a small step towards Troy’s freedom.
Little does Heinrich know, she’s been carrying a weapon for protection ever since her encounter with the two demons the week prior, and that weapon is planted between the back of her waist and her skin tight jeans.
In a swift motion, she twists her body and grabs a seven inch knife out of her pants. She swings the blade with all her might and lashes towards his wide open face.
This forces Heinrich into a split decision on what to do next; he can either kill off one threat, or protect himself from another. Not wanting to kill anybody unnecessarily, he chooses the latter and removes his sword from Zurvick's neck and onto the pathway of Ash’s incoming attack.
Metal clashing against metal is heard, and Zurvick instantly knows what’s happening.
With a quick jolt of his arm, Heinrich’s grip releases itself and Zuvick is once again freed. And just like Heinrich expected, Zurvick jumps to his feet and lunges his own knife towards the enemy’s back.
Having once held the advantage, to now being attacked on two different fronts; Heinrich can’t help but feel the heat closing in on him. If he doesn’t do something fast, he’ll be stabbed to death.
Another sound of metal banging against each other is heard, followed by a loud thunk.
Without so much of a moan of death, the skirmish has its victor.
“I can’t believe you were stupid enough to think that coming with me to the front-lines was a good idea.” Jeffrey said, accompanied by an exasperated sigh.
Standing next to him with a happy smile on her face is Diana Di’Vore, the Queen of Eiyalazo.
“Hey it worked didn’t it? Every soldier of Eiyalazo is doing exactly as you say because I’m with you.”
“Hmm, something tells me they would have done it anyways...”
“So you say, but I don’t think they’d be very enthusiastic following a La’Juutian soldier's orders. My people are very picky you know.”
“Oh trust me I know. But technically I’m not leading all of them in bulk." He gestures out in the distance and says, "Just take a look at where we are right now.”
Diana does what he says and takes a good look at her surroundings. Right now, the two of them are in the eastern part of Troy, in a small town, and resting peacefully in a hotel room. Quite the different scene from that of a battle zone, there hasn’t even been a sign that a war is going on at the moment. For the most part, this whole endeavor has been extremely peaceful.
This gets to the point that Jeffrey isn’t leading a massive fighting force that needed the Queen’s motivation; that reason is because they are more or less leading themselves, accordingly to Jeffrey’s plans of course.
“W-Well, I don’t know the specifics, but I’m sure they’re going to fight extra hard knowing I’m with you!”
“More like they’ll continue their distrust of me, and will be constantly worrying about you while they fight. There’s no way around it Diana, you’re not gonna win.”
“How was I supposed to know that it was gonna turn out like this?? I still don’t even know what’s going on!”
“That’s because you jumped on the boat with me at the last second!”
“Then enlighten me already will you?”
“I’m pretty sure I've already explained all this.”
“It was way too complicated for me to wrap my head around, so if you’d please simplify it for me it’d be greatly appreciated.”
Jeffrey sighs, walks up to the hotel window and glares out to the late morning glow. It’s a pleasant day, and the small, mountain town they’ve found themselves in has been relatively untouched by the war.
“Okay listen.” Jeffrey says, holding his finger up like he is getting ready to lecture a school child. “As I’m sure you know, we’ve exhausted just about all of our troops from Eiyalazo and other countries of the east for this invasion on the east side of Troy. But what was kept secret from you was the way we were to go about this invasion.”
Diana listens intently as he continues.
“We have a force less than a quarter of the size of the ones attacking Troy from the west, and about half the size invading from the north, but they are doing it quite blatantly. Hell’s army is going to be throwing a countless number of soldiers into defending those two fronts, so much so, that they’ll definitely overlook an invasion from the east if it isn’t so noticeable.”
Jeffrey wants to pull out a map to show her what he means, but he’s actually quite tired of doing that. He feels like that’s all he’s been doing since WORLD's founding, so he’d rather just put it into words.
“That’s why we’ve split into over a thousand groups of 150 soldiers, and spread ourselves all across the eastern shoreline of Troy. We are to blend in, and make our way northwest until we effectively rendezvous with our invading soldiers from the south, and from the north. From there, we make our way towards Satan and our combined forces rejoin with the largest number of troops converging on the Capital from the west. By doing that, we’ll have surrounded Satan and his Capital power-house with enough soldiers on the ground to ensure victory by sheer numbers alone.”
As much as he tries to make it sound simple, the fact is that it really isn’t. Out of all four invading forces, Jeffrey’s is the most technical. By himself, he has drawn up separate battle plans for each of the thousand groups of 150 soldiers; they are to be at certain latitudes and longitudes, in certain cities and towns, at very specific time-frames. If even two or three of these groups out of a thousand were to move too quickly or too slow, it will result in a blown cover and potential annihilation. Not to mention, the little details that go along with specific members of the groups, they need to do certain things as to keep their advancement under the radar; they all have very particular jobs in doing so.
Even now, everyone in Jeffrey’s group are all spread apart, doing jobs such as recon, census reports, money management, no stone is left unturned when it comes to citizen and demon interactions. All steps must be taken to secure the advantage. While all of this is going on, these men are still expected to fight at a moment's notice, and will surely be doing so in the near future.
Due to the fact that this invasion is one giant covert operation, they do not have the proper weaponry to defend themselves against an offensive from Satan’s army. So if their battle plan changes from safely making their way through the defenses of the enemy, to protecting themselves from an enemy offensive, the resulting death toll would not stop rising until every last one of them are dead.
As an army, Jeffrey’s forces won’t reach maximum potential until they meet with Celestia’s group in the south, and Lennox’s group in the north. The specifics that went into this plan don’t stop there; in actuality they’re not even close. But delving into those specifics would be far too much to explain in terms of words alone, the simplicity of the end result should suffice.
Reach the Capital.
Using Rain’s method of converging on a target from all directions, WORLD has its only hope in winning this war. All will be for naught if even one side doesn’t reach its final destination.
Diana takes a seat on the twin sized bed of the small hotel room and zones out of Jeffrey’s back, his silhouette casting a shadow over her as the morning sun shines through the window.
“Are we really going to be able to do all that? It just sounds so... so...”
“I agree with you there, but we don’t really have much of a choice. This is the best plan drawn up by the best minds on the planet; this is the only way we can win this war. If we simply fought in a traditional way, we’d be wiped out.”
“It’s scary to think about.”
Jeffrey moves away to the window and turns to her; the sun gleams in her worry filled pinkish eyes as she looks to him.
He walks up to the bed and throws himself face first on top of the covers, causing the springs to gently rock up and down.
“If you don’t want to be scared, you don’t think about what scares you.”
“Easy for you to say, you’re not afraid of anything.”
He stays silent for a few moments, and then replies, “That’s not true at all.”
“Umm...” Diana mumbles as she takes in the rare bit of emotion he has shown her. “I’d like to know what you’re afraid of.”
“I don’t know much about you, but I can tell that something always seems to be bothering you. Do you have someone special at home who’s been on your mind? A girlfriend maybe?”
“No it’s nothing like that. I’m just stressed. Like everybody else during war time, the fear of losing itself is enough to make you worry. Everything else that follows that is just an added result of failure. Don’t take offense to this, but when our two countries were at war, I had no fear of losing. I knew we’d win.”
“O-Oh I see.” she replies, not really knowing what to say in return.
“But ever since I’ve found out the truth behind everything, I’m fully able to grasp just how small humanity as a race actually is. And that scares me to death. Now it feels like whatever road we take; the threat of failure and all that comes with it is following close behind, waiting for us to trip.”
“I never would have known you felt that way...”
“I’m sure that other people in my position have similar outlooks on all this. I bet King Noah thought the same way for a moment of time until he decided to fight it. If someone almost ten years my junior can toss those fears aside and face it head on, then I can. I’m just tired of thinking about it that’s all, a distraction would certainly be welcomed.”
Diana is quite amazed that he so readily admitted something like that to her, there’s no way he’d say that to just anyone. Knowing just that little bit more about him makes her happy.
She puts her hand on his back, and quickly asks, “Hey Jeff, what type of girl do you like?”
“Hah?” Jeffrey turns on his back and glares up at her. “Where did that question come from?”
“You said you wanted a distraction, so I’m changing the subject. What kind of girl do you like?”
Jeffrey sighs and replies, “I don’t have a type, I don’t have time to deal with women so there’s no point in having a preference.”
“It couldn’t have always been that way right?? It’s not like you’ve been a Knight your whole life, there has to be some kind of attribute you find attractive... Guah!?”
She takes a big gasp of air and covers her mouth, her expression darkens into a shadow like aura as if a lightning bolt had struck behind her.
“Or could it be... That you’re ga---“
“Don’t you dare finish that sentence!”
“Then maybe you’re a virg---“
“Would you can it already!” he yells as he beans her over the head with a pillow.
She starts laughing and he turns away from her, slamming himself back onto the bed.
“Hahaha I’m sorry, I just couldn’t help it.”
“...There was one.” Jeffrey said softly with his back turned to her.
“There was one girl, the only girl I’ve ever been with.”
Jeffrey pauses again, and continues, “We were together for three years, I met her when I was seventeen and like a kid, I fell for her extremely fast. It wasn’t long before we were living with each other, she had a job as a waitress and I was just getting started with my career as a Knight. After a year or so I asked her to marry me and she said yes.”
“Don’t tell me, she was killed??”
“No, it was worse than that.”
“She turned out to be a Trojan spy, sent to La’Juune to assassinate General Napoleon. She used me to get close to him, and when she finally had the opportunity to fulfill her mission, I got in the way.”
After saying that, Jeffrey flips onto his back and lifts up his plain white long-sleeved shirt.
“Oh my goodness...” Diana says in disbelief as she looks at a large scar in the middle of his abdomen that stretches from the bottom of his chest down just below his belly button.
He stays straight faced when he finishes, “This is how it turned out. She stabbed me without hesitation, and knowing that she couldn’t defeat Napoleon without surprising him; she fled the castle and was never seen again. To this day I still don’t know whatever happened to her, but I’m sure she’s still alive out there somewhere.”
“Don’t worry about it, that was four years ago. I’ve gone through more than a lifetime of events since then.”
“It’s not just that! I wanted to change the subject to something nice so you could get your mind off of the war; instead I just troubled you even more. I’m really sorry, I just wanted to help.”
Diana looks genuinely saddened. Sure, Jeffrey’s love life isn’t anything to be happy about, but he doesn’t get why it seems like she cares about what happened to him even more than he does.
With that in mind, he lets a word of that thought drip out of his mouth when he asks, “Why?”
“Why do you care so much? I don’t get why you are always so willing to help me out, even the small things. Why do you put yourself out there for me like that?”
Diana stares at his scar and slides her hand across it with a flushed face.
Her gaze shifts to Jeffrey’s eyes when she answers, “I’ve known you for a few months now, and on more than one occasion you have heard me vent about all of my problems. Whether it be about my missing daughters, my hate filled son, or my deceased husband. I’ve told you my life story, and showed you a side of me that I haven’t revealed to anyone else. I did that because I feel like I owe you for saving my life, I wanted to show you who the person you saved was.”
She leans down closer towards him and continues, “Now, I want to see who the man that saved me really is. It may be selfish or presumptuous of me, but I want you to let me help you in the same way you’ve helped me.”
“I don’t know how you plan on helping me, my problems aren’t that big of a deal like yours. I don’t deal with feelings and mushy crap like that, it's easier just to ignor----“
Jeffrey is interrupted by her lips pressing against his.
Naturally, he’s very surprised; he didn’t foresee this happening at all.
“W-Wha??” Is all he can mutter as her flustered face causes his heart to skip a beat.
“I’ve told you that I haven’t been touched in years right? We’re both adults here, and there’s no better distraction than this. So the way I see it, we can mutually help each other out. What do you think?”
As bold as that sounded, Diana’s face shows the exact opposite, she’s like an innocent newlywed experiencing her first time.
Jeffrey is completely floored, he may be a seemingly uncaring, battle hardened soldier who takes his job very seriously, but he’s still a guy. He doesn’t even hesitate to grab on to her and switch their positions on top of the bed, he’s not some kid who would let morals get in the way of a beautiful woman.
The two of them know that what’s best for them is to move on, whether that be from daily life during war time or past experiences haunting them. Doing this completely shatters the looming thought of failure in the war and in life, and replaces it with what comes after they win, and how much things will change compared to the past.
It doesn’t take more than a few seconds until every last shred of clothing comes off and they dive under the covers of the small hotel bed.
Rain is traveling in a carriage, the same one she spent a good amount of time with Noah in, the same carriage where Noah kissed her for the first time. That moment meant so much to her that just being in here makes her feel as though he’s still sitting right beside her, holding her hand like he always did. Her glare is set outside the window, but she is paying no mind to the beauty of the mountainous fall scenery as her thoughts are caught elsewhere.
It is the beginning of November, and the weather all around the country of Troy is beginning to cool down. Most of Troy is completely surrounded by snow capped mountains, but once autumn starts, the green grass in the valleys and at the base of those mountains are beginning to fade into more of an amber color. The way the sun shines off that grass through the clear blue sky makes it seem like they are travelling on gold, it’s almost mesmerizing.
“We’ve been in Troy for a while, but there aren’t really any signs of war so far. It feels like we’re missing something.” Rain said, her fixed gaze never leaves the outside of the cabin.
“It’s amazing how that works right? This really shows you how big the world is, there are actually battles going on all around us, but there’s no sign that anything is happening. But that was by design, we have a lot of people fighting so we can make our push north and join the WORLD’s Riflemen. We’re bringing over 40,000 troops for reinforcements, so getting there unimpeded takes a lot of effort.”
“Hmm, I guess so... The world truly is at war, just to get from one place to another costs lives, I’m amazed at how big of a scale we’re operating on.”
“It hasn’t even started yet, once we reach the Riflemen, a portion of Jeffrey’s invading force will join us as we make our way north to the Capital. But I’m sure you already know that, and since you do, I’m also sure you know where we’re heading.”
Elise’s tone turned serious, she sends a sharp glare at Rain’s back.
Feeling it hit her, Rain turns around and replies, “I know... We’re heading to Tronoble.”
“How do you feel about that?”
Elise asked that knowing that Tronoble is the site of Rain’s greatest failure as a Battle Strategest; to return there and attempt to retake the city alongside the Knights that defeated her, is a serious battering ram on her pride.
Rain smiles as though that thought had never even crossed her mind when she replies, “I can’t wait.”
“To think you can smile like that! Ahhhhn~ I do believe I’ve just fallen for you!”
Elise pounces on her and starts squirming creepily. “You’re just too cute to always be frowning! That smile of yours is enough to win over the heart of the King, a simple girl such as myself can’t hold back!”
“L-Let go of me you perverted woman!”
“Ohoo don’t be like that, ever since Seiri and I separated, I’ve been having terrible withdrawals. You two kind of look alike, with your long black hair and all; so I’ll have to settle with you until we reach the Capital!”
“Isn’t that Seiri girl twelve years old? How did Noah let someone like you around a child like that??”
“Hahaha Noah has the same tastes as me so he understands.”
“Noah’s definitely not some pervert that likes little girls!”
“Could it be that you don’t know Noah as well as you think you do?? Oh my, how unfortunate.”
Rain pries herself away from Elise and darts to the other side of the carriage; she folds her arms and huffs air out of her nose. “Now I know you’re just teasing me.”
“Hahahahaha, don’t get all pouty.”
Elise continues to laugh until the carriage suddenly stops, prompting the two’s demeanor to turn serious.
Elise leans back and opens the little window that is used for conversation with the driver and asks, “Hey, what’s going on?”
“We’ve arrived Ma’am.”
“That was fast.” She turns to Rain and says, “Let’s have a look-see.”
The two of them exit out of the door and are immediately stricken with the smell of smoke. The once crystal blue sky is painted a shade of gray; and their eyes start to water when they look towards their destination.
Out about a half mile or so away is the ever familiar skyline of Tronoble. Of course, the castle that held the ballroom is no longer present, but that’s not the only thing missing. Even though the damage to the city was great during the Night of the Ball; that is nothing in comparison to now. Just about every building has been damaged or on fire and the concussions of explosions are bringing distinct base noises from the center of the town, causing houses and the like to topple to the ground as they watch.
Rain and Elise are shocked, these sounds and this sight is so far from what they thought would be happening that it’ll take a few minutes to soak it all in.
This is their first experience of a new age in war.
“Just what in the world is happening down there?” Elise asks in disbelief.
“Is that really Tronoble?”
“Hey hey! Glad you guys made it here safely!”
A girl's voice came from out in front of them.
Running up to them from the direction of the city with a big smile on her face is Celestia Letrova.
“Celestia!” Elise yells as she runs to her. “Are you guys okay down there?”
Celestia is covered in soot and dust from all the fires and she’s wounded with multiple bruises and slight abrasions on her shoulders and arms. She scratches the back of her head when she replies, “Yeah I’m fine, though I can’t say the same for Allia.”
“What happened to her??”
“Oh nothing, she’s just bein' a big baby, complaining about how the dirt's gonna ruin the complexity of her skin and how she'll never get married or something like that.”
Elise sighs and says, “Oh my god don’t scare me like that.”
Rain walks in between the two and completely shatters all kinds of warmheartedness between them by saying, “Give me details on the battle, I need to know what move I need to make with the rest of our soldiers.”
She points behind her, and Celestia follows her finger. Behind the carriage are the 40,000 troops standing astute, ready for action. They’ve marched for over a week to reach this city, but fatigue has not yet set in and one can sense an anxiousness brewing within the mass numbers.
Celestia puts her hand on her chin and replies, “They’ll be wiped out in a second.”
“I mean they’ll easily be picked off by Satan’s troops defending the city. It seems that this particular division defending the city is fully equipped with weaponry and ammunition. If we’re not careful in how we integrate our reinforcements, they’ll be sitting ducks.”
“Then what do you suggest we do?” Elise asks. “We didn’t come to this city to sit back and watch.”
“Hmmm...” Celestia mumbles as her gaze lands back on Rain, “You’re the Battle Strategist here, so I’m going to need you to come with me and properly access what measures we’ll need to take in order to win the city.”
“Isn’t it dangerous down there?” Elise asked.
“Well of course.” Celestia replies with smile, “We’re outnumbered at least 10 to 1, and we’re taking on some casualties. But it is war right? When is it not dangerous?”
“Yeah but she’s kinda a VIP of WORLD ya know...”
“It’s fine.” Rain says as she starts walking towards the city. She pulls her long, thin sword from the sheathe on her waist and swings it to the side. “If I’m to do my job as a Strategist, then I’ll have to see what I’m dealing with. If our soldiers are dying, we can’t afford to waste anymore time.”
Elise sighs and reaches into the cabin; she pulls out her large hammer and throws it over her shoulder. “I’m definitely not staying here then, I’ll go with you guys.”
“Sounds good to me.” Celestia smiles as she follows behind Rain. It only takes a few steps when that smile disappears and she says in a lowered voice, “But that sword and that hammer of yours aren’t going to do you any good in that city.”
Little does Elise and Rain know, they are about to enter into a battle akin to a fight hundreds of years past their time. They will be thrown right into a battle far more dangerous than any other they’ve experienced thus far. For the first time, they will truly see what guns and bullets actually are and how they are intended to be used.
What they are about to experience, is the World’s New War.
(What just happened?) Ash thinks to herself as she stares down at the ominous shine of a short-blade pointed right under her chin towards the soft spot of her neck.
She’s somehow lost her weapon, which has just landed on the other side of the room, and is hopelessly defenseless. Her shaky crimson eyes catch sight of Zurvick, who also has a weapon pressed against his neck. He’s weaponless as well, and is stuck solidly in a position halfway between standing and kneeling down.
“Now that that is over with, I suspect you two will hear me out.” Heinrich said as his eyes are ready to lock-on to whoever makes a sudden move.
He’s the one who defeated both Zurvick and Ash in a split second to gain the upperhand he has now.
To find out just how, we’d need to go back only a few seconds. After the short rewind, the event transpired as follows...
Heinrich gathered and calculated which threat and coming from where, that would do both the most damage, and which attack would inflict that damage first. The winning ticket was Ash, so he had to deal with her before Zurvick in order to survive.
He threw the flat end of his sword in between the small gap in Ash’s arms and pulled the hilt upward in a lever like fashion. That move acted as a wedge of sorts and in a flash, pried Ash’s arms open wide and separated the two hands holding the knife.
Keeping his centrifugal force moving violently to his left, he takes full advantage of the split moment where Ash holds no immediate threat. He then swung his sword with all his might and accurately knocked the blade out of Zurvick’s hand in a swift motion.
Zurvick had no time to react to such a development and his body falls forward uncontrollably into the direction of Heinrich’s left moving sword. It would only take a quarter second for the two forces to collide, resulting in Zurvick’s head rolling across the ground. But Heinrich flipped his wrist so one of the flat sides of his blade made contact with Zurvick’s chin, stopping both of their movements dead.
Ash caught sight of this, and regains her composure. She knows that she still has a weapon and with Heinrich’s sword occupied with Zurvick, she should easily be to inflict a fatal blow.
(I can still win!) she thought as she prepared her strike.
That’s when out of nowhere, he kicked the back of his heel into his long coat and out came a foot in a half long blade right into the palm of his hand. With his right hand so near to her face already, she didn’t even have a chance to make a move before that sharp object hit her dagger and sent it screaming across the room. And in a flash, the blade of Heinrich was pressed against her neck.
Ash wasn't the only one hiding a concealed weapon, it took her until that moment to realize how foolish it was for her to not assume that he did as well.
Imagine those events in super slow motion, and it’d be unbelievable at best. Now speed it up to regular speed; and the feat Heinrich has pulled off turns into flat out ridiculousness. These are two of Troy’s best soldiers, defeated in less than a second.
This is what Heinrich specializes in, when it comes to close combat, he's on par on a level with the Knights, if not even higher. He uses his enemies movements to his advantage, just like his earlier skirmish with Zurvick. In this case, he just added one more person into the fray.
“I have not come here to fight, nor have I come here to draft either of you.” Heinrich states, his face showing no sign of wavering. “I’m here because I need the assistance of the former Captain of the 105th Specialist Division, Ash Alworth.”
“W-What? You know about that?” Ash asks, still in shock over what has just occurred.
“I know everything about you Captain, not to mention, I know that this man here is the King of Troy. Satan told me he let the King live, so I put two and two together and figured out that there's no one else he'd be with other than you.”
Heinrich tapped Zurvick’s chin with the flat side of his sword when he said that.
“I also know that you traveled to La’Juune, and fought the possessed Rain Von Ronheim alongside King Noah. Adding to that; is your involvement with 4 Knights of La’Juune during the Trojan Rebellion, you took up arms against Satan in order to save the Queen. I know everything Captain.”
“So you’re here to eliminate her?” Zurvick asked warily, a deep frown surfacing on his face.
“Didn’t I tell you that I’m not here to fight?”
“Then what is it!?”
Heinrich turns to Ash, and firmly says, “Captain Ash Alworth, I’m here to ask for your help.”
“I need your help in the assassination of Satan.”
Ash and Zurvick are floored, they can’t comprehend his words quick enough. Something as out there as that statement, coming from Satan’s right hand man makes it feel surreal.
“This is some kind of test right? You’re waiting for me to agree with you, so you can kill me off and justify it. I’m not going to buy it, I refuse.” Ash replied, rightfully skeptical of his sudden proposal.
“I don’t have any way of proving that what I say is what I mean. But I won’t try to go through hoops and hurdles to prove my honesty. If you raise your arms and take a step back, I’ll leave this place and you’ll never hear from me again.”
Ash grits her teeth and does what he says, even though she doesn’t trust his word, she’d still be dead either way if she tried to fight him again.
Heinrich sighs and takes both weapons away from the vital points of Ash and Zurvick. He then turns his back on them and starts walking to the exit.
Before he leaves, Ash yells, “Wait!”
Heinrich’s hand stops turning the doorknob and he stands there in the doorway with his back turned, waiting on what she has to say.
Ash only clicks her tongue and looks away. In her mind, she and Zurvick are in a very dangerous situation. Depending on what is said next could cost them their lives, if Heinrich is lying and she goes along with what he said, it will spell the end for them. If there’s one thing that hasn’t been tolerated in the least since Satan’s hostel takeover, it is blasphemy.
Heinrich slightly opens the door, and a tinge of frustration reaches his tone when he says, “You know, I’ve heard so much about how you are a person that would do anything for a just cause. To think that you’d forego your only chance at being able to change the world with your own hands... Were they really talking so highly about such a coward?”
Ash’s gaze shifts to Zurvick, who’s just getting to his feet.
Didn’t she promise herself that she’d do whatever it takes in order to bring Zurvick back to his old self? Didn’t she say that she’d go through Heinrich in order to reach the castle? Isn’t Heinrich’s proposition, her only realistic chance at doing so?
Even if he’s lying, she’d just be fulfilling what she set out to do in the first place, defeat this great enemy of Troy before he takes anymore citizens away. If he turns out to be a good guy in all of this, the impossible dream she once had can become a reality with relatively no effort.
“Very well then.” Heinrich said as he opens the door wide.
Her pause is enough to show him that she’s not going to comply. He fully expects to leave this home, and treat it as a failure he’s going to have to build on in the future.
But he is stopped by a voice calmly saying,
“Tell me who you really are.”
This voice came from Zurvick, who has a different kind of light in his eye as he stands tall.
“I can’t do that without Ash’s complacency to my plans. I simply have too much to lose by telling you who I am without a commitment.”
“Don’t you think it goes both ways? You know our identities, so you can have us killed at any moment. If you tell us who you actually are, you’ll still be able to keep your secret even if we wanted to tell anyone.”
“Hmm.” Heinrich folds his arms and replies, “That’s very true.”
He takes a deep breath, and shows no sign of dishonesty when he declares, “My name is Heinrich Zimmer, a La’Juutian spy from the Dravic Branch.”
“That’s right, I’m the only member of WORLD’s forces currently in the Capital of Troy. My sole purpose is to carry out the assassination of Satan the Devil, and end this war. But due to certain circumstances that can be explained later, I can’t physically lay a finger on him. That’s why I’ve come to the only person I know of that’d be willing to put herself on the line for the sake of humanity. And that is you, Ash Alworth. So will you join me or not?”
Zurvick looks to Ash and sees just how troubled she is, it’s like she’s worried about something that blocks her from committing. The way she looks at him shows that this particular something, is actually the King himself. Zurvick may be depressed, but he’s not a blind fool. She’s considering him, and his feelings, over taking up a chance at saving the world.
He puts his hand on her shoulder, and reveals a smile for the first time in months when he says, “I believe him...“
“I also believe in you.” he said confidently. “I know you’ll make the right decision for not just yourself or for me, but for everyone.”
“I... I want to help, I really do! But...”
She doesn’t want to leave him behind, now that her plans to reach the castle have sped up exponentially; the thought of actually putting those plans into motion frightens her.
“It’s okay.” Zurvick turns to Heinrich and loudly says, “I want to help too.”
“Wha?” Ash moans, surprised as can be at his sudden change of character.
Heinrich shrugs his shoulders and answers, “I’m sure you know that you can’t do anything from within the castle. You’re the King after all, you’re too noticeable. But even though Satan has met Ash on one occasion, she’d still be easily hid because she’s the last person he’d expect.”
“I understand that... I’m going to do my best out here, with my people. We can do something from outside, I’m sure of it.”
“I agree, a little distraction for Satan from inside the Capital wouldn’t hurt. I can’t make any promises that I won’t be forced into committing atrocities, but I’ll do whatever I can to make your people as safe as possible.”
Now having the added bonus of the King’s help, he looks over to Ash, holds out his hand and asks one last time. “Captain Alworth... Will you come with me?”
She smiles brightly, walks to him and grabs his hand as firm as she can squeeze.
“I will, Heinrich... And call me Ash.”
The World's New War: (END)
|Back to (Part 2)||Return to Main Page||Forward to Capital Attack|