“Seems, we somehow managed to win?”

Walm, who remained in the branch castle, was watching the battle situation from the ruined corner tower.
It only took a moment for the resisting frontline to crumble.
It crumbled like a building block that had lost its support.

The Dalimarx family didn’t overlook the turmoil and gaps in the enemy forces caused by the battle of the support castle, and the Meisenav family was unable to withstand the all-out counterattack.

The bait had become a suicide group and continued to resist, leaving enough organizational strength to not collapse completely.
A complete annihilation would be impossible now, but at the very least, more than half of the soldiers must have been killed, wounded, or taken prisoner.

Some returned to their own territory, resulting in the strength of the Dalimarx Union evenly matched with the remaining group.
However, they could no longer attack as they did in this battle, and they would be unable to freely move due to various reparations.

The Lords of the Archipelago weren’t insane, nor had they lost their self-control and calculation, to the extent that they would devote their entire territories, or families to the war.

The “peaceful” war was over.
However, even in such a battle, Walm took the worst move.

The pain in his eyes had been calmed down with eye medicine, but a quarter of the contents was used.
Without a doubt, it would run out in less than a year.

And most of all, by activating 《Demon Fire》, he had committed ally-killing, which was loathed in the ways of the North.
It would be more righteous to abandon them than to kill them.

In order to protect himself, Walm refused to show some of his skills and hid them.
This was an unforgivable act of betrayal.
On top of that, he failed to hide it until the end, and burned the battlefield after making a calculation that included self-protection.

Walm chose that decision regardless of the Empire’s restoration, Highserk soldiers, or young soldiers.
The one who invited those fatally wounded soldiers, despite wanting to believe and hoping for their survival, to the Netherworld, without a doubt, was Walm.

After quietly glancing at the battlefield, Walm poured the alcohol he had on hand and put his hands together.
To let his guilts go.
He knew it was just a self-consolation act to comfort himself.

Walm then took out all the cigarettes, and lit them up at once.
He was sure some soldiers must have liked that smell better than the smell of pungent incense as an offering.

Leaving only one in his hand, Walm brought it to his mouth with trembling hands while thinking that he must not rely on alcohol.

The smoke he inhaled slowly filled his lungs.
The slowly exhaled purple smoke floated into the sky, where the remains of the blue fire were, joining the black smoke emitted by the smoldering embers.

“… I’ve, to search.”

Walm made up his mind and headed to the corner where the wounded were gathered.
He didn’t know if the boys managed to escape from the enemy soldiers, from the sea of blue flames.

In addition to dozens of healthy soldiers, there were only slightly injured soldiers left in the branch castle.
Among the wounded soldiers lined up, there were many who didn’t manage to stay in this world.

There were those who lost their limbs, those whose bandages were dripping with darkened blood, and those in an ambiguous condition, hanging at the border between life and death.
The thick stench of death was lingering around.
It was the smell Walm had come accustomed to.
Somehow his instinct rejected it, but his insane reason pushed away that rejection.

As Walm took another step forward, a shock ran through his ankle.
It was the hand of a wounded soldier who was bedridden and having a hard time moving.

“Yo… You, water, give me, water.”

Burnt skin, scorched hair, and sticky soot all told what had happened to him.

Walm’s heart was beating fast and his shoulders trembled.
He stifled them and pulled out a water bottle.

“I’ll help you drink.
Could you wake up?”

“No, this, is fine.”

Placed the bottle on the soldier’s lips and tilted the water bottle.
The soldier vigorously drank the contents.
By looking at his face, Walm recognized him.
He was a magic user with earth attribute magic who manipulated earth bullets.
Walm remembered being in the same corner tower as him halfway through the first attack.

“Do you want more?”

“Pour it, on my head, it’s stuffy, feels terrible.”

Walm filled the water bottle with water magic and poured water on the man until he was satisfied.

“What about cigarettes?”

“Want”

Walm put the cigarette he was holding to the soldier’s mouth.
The soldier, who sucked in as much as he could, burst into laughter.

“Ha, hahahaha, I’m lucky.
Those annoying superiors, and those disgusting colleagues of mine, were all killed.
I, was supposed to be like them too.
When I was about to thrust my sword in, that blue flame burned everything.
It was hot, I was roasted.
I knew, it was my last chance.
So I ran, and succeed in escaping.
Then, on top of that, now, I’m able to smoke a cigarette, and drink water that I’ve been carving for.
A terrible, and painful experience for sure, but, well, nothing else to complain about.”

The soldier spat out such words, and as he weakened, he muttered.

“Thank, you.”

“Y-yeah…”

Were those words for the water and cigarette, or were those words for the burnt caused by Walm’s 《Demon Fire》? In any case, Walm couldn’t get the words out of his throat, he didn’t dare to ask.

After searching around with unsteady legs, Walm finally found what he searched for.
The halberd in his hand slipped out of his fingers.
He didn’t want to see it.
He didn’t want to accept it.
The ones lined up with him on the march, were there.
Even so, his eyes, which should have been muddy, could see it clearly.
The burnt skin, was the injuries cauterized by Walm himself.
There was no reason for him to forget.

“Why, must you die?”

If it wasn’t an acquaintance, it would be just other corpses lined up on the ground.
But Walm knew them.
What kind of people were they, and what kind of circumstances made them come to this battle.

The innocent yet noisy mouth didn’t move, and no words came out of it.

Walm fell to his knees.
He tried to get up, but he could not.

Having a hard time accepting it.
Words of regret leaked out.
His hand gripped the ground and scraped away the dust.

But, the scene in front of him was the reality.
It was the reality.

“Why? Even though, it looks like you’re only sleeping…”

Walm threw off his cerveliere.
A high-pitched sound could be heard, and just like that, the helmet rolled on the ground.
The mask on the waist was vibrating as if it wanted to say something.

“Hey, couldn’t you, be quiet at times like this?”

When Walm raised his voice and tried to wrap his arms around his waist, the corpse in front of him was standing up.

At that moment, he felt suffocated as the sight of his hometown came to his mind, thinking that perhaps, he must kill his acquaintances again.

Walm reflexively slipped his hand from the mask to the sword and pulled it out, but he stiffened again.

“Walm-san, what were you doing?”

The corpse spoke.
No, it wasn’t a corpse.
It wasn’t something that troublesome.

Kalim and Kuwen survived that battlefield.

Walm, who had lost all his strength this time, threw out his limbs like an infant and uglily clamored.

“Damn, why were you both sleeping in a place like this!! Are you crazy!?”

“I dragged Kuwen and had him examined by a healing magician, who then told that his life was out of danger.
After we heard that we’ve won from the surroundings.
Our tensions were instantly gone, and so we took a rest.”

Kalim explained to Walm what happened.

Walm understood the circumstances, but no matter how much of an easy-going person Kalim was, he didn’t think that he could imitate it.

“Oh, did you think I was dead?”

Kuwen, who was listening to the story, also understood the situation, but still asked Walm with a stupid face and voice.

“Yeah, that’s right.
Look around you, mountains of corpses everywhere.
It would be strange if I thought that you weren’t dead!”

Kalim laughed a little when Walm raised his voice in protest.

“It’s not on purpose.”

“Do it on purpose, and I’ll hit you as hard as I could.”

The boys, began to burst into laughter, an act befitting their age.
Walm was lured in by that and laughed out loud together with them.

In the middle of the war, moreover among the mountains of corpses, it was an extremely imprudent behavior but Walm couldn’t hold it anymore.
After all, he felt a little saved by the boys’ smiles.

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