A Woman’s Will 3
One hour after the duel.
The agreement was fulfilled and all Noredian personnel inside the fortress surrendered.
From the start, the commoner troops had no intention to resist.
That’s why the disarmament went relatively smoothly with only some minor resistance from some nobles.
Meanwhile, Schleer and her subordinates gather inside the command center.
This is to direct and monitor the disarmament and transfer of POWs.
Since this place is the information center of this fortress, it is probably the perfect place for such work.
“Wh, what a disgrace～!”
It was Melange who was dragged out from the cockpit who shouted so as she stepped inside the command center.
Although she is being surrounded by armed Calencian soldiers, she’s not restrained by any handcuffs or rope.
This is due to her being a high-ranking aristocrat.
Albeit being a POW they still need to treat her appropriately.
Of course, by not restraining her, there’s a risk that she might escape but in a case like this, if her side pays the ransom, she will be safely released.
That’s the reason why not many POWs in her situation would choose to escape by themselves.
“Commander……please stay quiet.
You are a commanding officer you know? You should be grateful that they do not treat you like a war criminal.”
The aged officer said so and heaved a sigh.
Hearing the word [War Criminal], Melange’s face turned blue.
What came to her mind was the abandoned city above this very fortress.
Certainly, in a normal war, the safety of the POWs is guaranteed but this time the Noredian has committed an atrocity by indiscriminately bombarding the civilians in the early stage of the war.
“I, I opposed the purge bombing from the beginning you know! But the supreme commander…..Her Highness Diaroze said that [It’s Her Majesty the Empress’s decree!] so there was nothing I could do…….if you are going to trial me then I can testify this.”
“Hou, I think I’ve heard something useful just now.”
Schleer muttered with a serious expression.
It appears that the purge bombing was carried out according to the Noredian Empress’s will.
“If that’s the case…….then it seems that you people might have drawn quite an unfortunate hand huh.”
Unable to comprehend what she tried to say, Melange asked in confusion.
However, the aged officer next to her simply nods as though she agrees with Schleer’s thinking.
“Even for an aristocrat, killing such a large number of civilians is still something that is not looked kindly upon.
No, if I have to be frank, it’s quite a serious crime for an aristocrat to slaughter citizens of another country…….”
“B, But, we were only obeying orders right! If we went against it, our territory would be attacked for treason, you know!”
“That’s right…….they’ve forced such dirty work on us and once all things said and done, they would find fault in your honor as an aristocrat! After that, she would come down and reap every benefit for herself, that empress.”
The aged officer said in abandonment.
There was a grudge in her eyes.
Kisei, who was in the corner of the command center, frowned at her words which he thinks that she didn’t say out loud only for sympathy.
Perhaps, they may have their own circumstances as well.
“Quite a slave driver huh, your Empress.”
“Well, she’s a woman who has ascended the throne with only her cunning and underhanded means after all.”
The tone of the aged officer sounded very confident.
Hearing that, Melange’s shoulders started to tremble.
“N, no way…….then we are only a disposable pawn……?”
She said that as she looked up to the ceiling as though it’s the end of the world.
Seeing that, Saki who seems to be sympathetic to their situation put her hand on Melange’s shoulder with a gentle expression.
“W, well, don’t thi–……”
“And it’s just only half a year before my wedding too!!”
“You are so proud about that aren’t you, damn it!”
Saki’s sympathy was blown away in an instant when she heard Melange talking about her marriage.
With no more words of encouragement, she proceeded to put her iron claw on top of Melange’s head.
“Ouch, Ouch, Ouch! What are you doing, I’m a prisoner of war you know!”
“Don’t let that Riajuu off the hook!”
(TLN: Riajuu = Those winners at life, just explode damn it.)
Saki’s action was fully supported by the surrounding soldiers.
For some reason, even the POWs seem to be among them as well.
It seems that the distaste toward a Riajuu is quite universal.
“HaHaHa, Keep it at that, Lt.
Schleer stops her with an uplifting attitude.
Her eyes were glancing toward Kisei.
‘Don’t look so cheerful just because you scored some points with him’ muttered Saki under her breath as her mouth turned downward.
“Well, you don’t have to worry.
We at the Calencia empire are different from the villainous Nored.
That’s why you people will not be punished without a proper trial.”
Schleer said that with a big smile.
She’s probably still quite joyous about her victory.
As a side note, she’s been this way ever since she left the [Mistilteinn].
“Also, rather than executing you, asking for a ransom would be way more profitable…….”
Melange did not miss the words that Schleer muttered in a low voice.
Is she supposed to be relieved that she will be safe or should she get angry for the disgrace she was made to suffer? While wondering so, Melange sat down on a nearby chair with a subtle expression as she shook her head from side to side.
In the end, she chose to put on an ironic smile and shrugged.
“Seriously, it seems that I’m really in a bind here.
My superior only used me as a convenient throwaway piece, not only that, I just lost to a woman who brought a man to the battlefield.”
Schleer exclaimed at Melange who was glancing sideways at Kisei.
“I’m seriously amazed, you know.
A woman who stands tall to protect a man……that’s the definition of a knight right? Even so, you brought him to the battlefield and let him fight……..I would never be able to do that.”
“That’s not funny you know.”
Instead of Schleer, it was Kisei whose body shakes in anger as he replies in an angry tone.
“I like the battlefield.
I enjoy fighting, and I can meet a lot of exciting people…..
Besides, if you take fighting away from me, what would I have left?”
The second part of his words was almost inaudible.
For a moment, Schleer glanced at him with a doubtful look but before she could ask him what he said, the tense atmosphere was broken by a loud voice.
“If you have time to have a stupid quarrel then please lend me a hand here!!”
Looking at the source of the voice, they found Schleer’s staff officer, Solana who’s currently holding several communication devices in her hand while looking at Schleer with bloodshot eyes.
“Organizing the prisoners, doing the inventory, reorganizing our troops! There is a lot of work to be done, you know! Your Highness!”
Even though she fought on the frontline, Schleer is not a mere soldier but the general who holds the most authority on the Calencian side.
She has no time to relax just because the fight is over.
After staring at Melange for a few seconds, she lowered her head to Kisei in an apologetic look before running over to Solana in a hurry.
“Hmm, first is the POWs huh.
Uwah, they have this many units on standby…..?”
“For the time being, let’s disarm all of them immediately! If we allow them to keep their weapon, we won’t be able to start the base refurbishment with peace of mind right!”
The battle is over but it seems that Schleer’s work is not yet done.
With an expression that looks like she just ate a spoonful of worms, Schleer starts directing her subordinates.
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