I woke up and instantly started to cough up black blood. My lady then came to my side to treat me. I smiled at her before coughing some more. It was well over five minutes before my body finally settled down and I was able to drink some wine and eat some dried meat. The food seemed to deteriorate from my touch, causing me to sigh. Maybe I was becoming an undead. It’s something I humorously thought about, then my lady slapped me in the face while sadly looking at me. I forgot that she can read my mind. I soon found out that it’s only her than can read my inner thoughts. Unless I try to talk to others with my mind directly or in general, my private thoughts are mine alone. After putting the food in me, I noticed that we were in some wagon. I was on a mattress while she sat down beside me. I then closed my eyes to help focus through my pain.
‘Can you tell me what’s happened so far?’ (Emperor)
She smiled as she stroked my hair.
“Of course, my darling. Right now, as you suggested, we split into four groups. We’re part of the main raid group. The main group here has eighty of the fittest fighters, they’re the bulk of our fighting force. Ten rather quick members have been designated as scouts and are the advanced party, which is the second group. They’re currently looking for supplies and targets of people to free. The third group, which is the largest, are the people that are too old, too young, or not well enough to fight. We have thirty weaker fighters in that group. Their main role right now is foraging, hunting, and completing menial tasks like cooking. Then, there are the fifty that stayed behind to stall our pursuers.” (Empress)
I noticed her holding my hand when she talked about the groups.
‘What about the others?’ (Emperor)
It took her a moment to realize who I was talking about.
“There were about fifty people that decided to go south toward the beastkin nation. Many of the able body people that were recently turned into slaves went that way. They were mostly male adults with fighting experience, or their relatives wanted to return to their birth lands. However, some split from their families knowing full well they were better with us then trying to trek south.” (Empress)
I thought about what she said for a moment. It was unlikely that more than a few will be successful, but that might give them some form of hope.
‘My lady, there’s something we must discuss.’ (Emperor)
She squeezed my hand slightly harder, anticipating what I’m going to say next.
‘Right now, we’re freeing slaves. It’s understandable that we pillaged that town clean….’ (Emperor)
I started talking, but then paused while hesitant.
“You’re concerned about what will become of us if we continue to pillage unrestrained?” (Empress)
I then nod weakly.
‘My lady, from now on, we must consider how others will look at us. We must gather information about those that we may attack, even if it’s nothing but a rumor. Obviously, we won’t raid the places without slaves. Otherwise, we’ll be called bandits for sure. However, we should spend the money we gather at those places to buy food and supplies. We must also learn about the local area.’ (Emperor)
It was after I was done telling her that, did I notice that my hand was in greater pain than the rest of my body. She noticed as well, and let up. I then started thinking about our future together. For some time, I feel like she won’t be able to smile again, which makes me sad. Even I could tell that she tried to force one just now when I felt that, but I still gripped her hand harder.
After that, I asked for further details about our groups, then we began to solidify our order of priorities and actions. The first thing that we decided was to not risk the third group as much as possible. They were our backbone for the future. After them, it’s important to procure resources. We very well can’t allow ourselves to starve to death or freeze in the coming winter. We also need arms for the upcoming fighting that we have to do, and then all the other priorities. It wasn’t an easy or short discussion to have. It took from around noon, to well after it got dark before we solidified how we’ll conduct ourselves from now on. We both knew that there’ll be others who will reject our ideals and reasoning. When we stopped to camp, we were a day away from the next largest town to have a slave market. Unlike the previous one, this one had a security force of over five hundred members, which is much more than the hundred members from the last one. These numbers are of course after the slaves have been excluded.
That night was the second time many people saw me. For me, it was perhaps the first. Every curse I take in takes a bit of my consciousness, and there were so many people who wanted to be free last time. When it became know merely touching me freed them, there was a panic. I was almost harmed more from the people hitting me in panic, to the actual curse damage I was receiving from them. However, I could tell that everyone recognized my lady.
“First, we have things to discuss before we talk about tomorrow’s raid.” (Empress)
I understood her words as she spoke them in my mind, as well as verbally.
“You must understand our goals first. We freed you all for a single purpose. We need manpower. We need people to fight. We need people to build. We need people to farm. We’re going north to attack Crevant Pass and seize it as our own. After that, we’ll kill every human that doesn’t leave those lands in peace, then we’re going to form our own nation there.” (Empress)
For a moment, there was confusion on the beastkin’s faces. It was as if they didn’t understand what she was talking about, so she repeated herself word for word.
The empire has strict laws about rebellions and traitors. To a degree, some sins will be pardoned if no serious damage is done. However, in one case, a captain of a unit slipped that his unit will be mobilized in the next three days to a region that had no real importance. This place was actually a criminal hideout, and they got wind of the raid. In the end, the unit was wiped out, save the captain, who was captured. After several months of torture, he finally broke.
This captain soon became a pawn of the criminal organization, but little did they know, the captain had been reported by a spy in the organizations ranks. In turn, the captain was fed false information leading to the destruction of the organization. The captain was hailed as a hero, but died soon after from mysterious causes. His family name was left untarnished due to the incident, but he ended up dying in the end. His death was caused by the silent hero unit of the first division who were the scouts and spies of the empire.
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