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The landscape of the entire valley had shape-shifted.
When I took a breath, it felt like I was sculling blood. The bits of flesh and suffocating stench of burnt stuff made it almost impossible to breathe. The black smoke covered the sky. I don’t think even the bright sun at noon could penetrate it. The floor was littered with bits of flesh, organs, and the huge corpses of the Earth Dragons. Spears were stuck in the corpse, and though they were dead, blood continued to spill forth from their corpses.
SFX: Pita, pita pita.
The ground had become a river of blood and we tread through the blood in our boots. The elves removed their helmets, ignoring the floor covered in blood and mud, and made their way around panting heavily as they used the corpses of the dragons as support to hold themselves up. After I gave the order to attack, their spears thrust into the dragons like venomous snakes. The much larger Earth Dragons wailed as they were completely slaughtered by the much smaller elves.
The imperial palace guards were very accurate with their spear thrusts. Each thrust was aimed at either their neck or heart. Each time their spears coated with her highness’s blessing entered and exited their bodies a strong burning stench could be smelt. The wails of the Earth Dragons further lowered their morale. They couldn’t escape because we sealed the exit. The men slaughtered every single one of them in the canyon.
I didn’t retreat. I continued to hold the flag tightly and followed the men in front. I watched as each and every dragon’s head fell to the floor. I crossed the dragons still moaning around on the floor, and watched the men pull out their blades after their spears snapped. I listened to their steady steps and courageous roars.
The men who were still able to stand made their way to me as they continued to pant heavily. They pointed up ahead and said: “The Earth Dragon King is up ahead. He’s not dead yet. Would you like to see him, your highness?”
I gave them a nod, and said: “Sure.”
I couldn’t believe the Earth Dragon King was just up ahead. Why would we have been lured out here by the perfume? Isn’t he the king? Could it be that the king is just another common Earth Dragon until he’s instated as the king? His head will make the perfect trophy to celebrate our victory. Since he’s still alive, it must mean that he didn’t explode to smithereens, so we can take a complete corpse home.
I stepped over a separated tail and walked through the blood to get to the body the size of a small mountain. This is the Earth Dragon king? He certainly looks slightly larger than normal Earth Dragons. His horn is a bit longer and his frills look more sophisticated like a crown. His body had seven or eight spears stuck in it, and there were many stab wounds on his head inflicted by blades.
His yellow pupils moved around and wailed quietly when I came into sight as though he was begging for mercy. I didn’t crouch down and stayed standing. I watched his slow eye movements begging me. His breaths were shallow and could only wail faintly.
The men stood around me with their weapons in hand and asked: “What’s wrong, your highness?”
I walked to the front of it, stepped one foot onto its head, stepped onto its eye, looked down and contemptuously said: “You’re a king too? That’s great. Kings always have things to say to each other. Right now, you’re just a prisoner. Can you still run rampant? Can you still kill people just because you feel like it? Perhaps we both want to bring peace to our kind. But your comrades no longer need it, so I’ll be merciful with you.”
He removed my foot as he looked at me with fear. Panicked, he tried to appeal to me. I lifted the flag in my hand up high and pointed the sharp end that was intended to be stuck into the ground towards him. I was going to kill their fallen king. He wasn’t an elf or a human, but he was still a king.
I violently stabbed the spear into his eye. After letting out one final cry, he completely collapsed and stopped wriggling. The men surrounding him looked at his corpse with the flag stuck in his eye. I turned around and said: “Messenger, head back and get men to come and take this corpse back. Do your best to collect as many corpses as you can. If they were blown up, grab their tails, organs and the sort. I can’t let the people down this time.”
I returned to the carriage. Lucia’s gaze looked to the outside of the canopy. I smiled and sat down with my back towards Lucia who was lying down. I let out a heavy sigh, and said: “That was tough. Fighting sure is tiring.” Lucia wasn’t injured, she was just fatigued.
How could those clumsy Earth Dragons possibly hurt Lucia.
Lucia laughed from behind and said: “Yes, but you did exceptionally well, your highness. All the credit belongs to you this time. You were behind the ballistae, you located them and strategized. You did everything very well, second-to-none. You were just like her highness. You held the flag steady and never took one step back. I admire your courage, your highness.”
I laughed, turned around and gently caressed Lucia’s face as I said: “As do I. I witnessed your skills and courage. You really are amazing. I worried for nothing.”
“That’s not true.”
Lucia cut me off, slowly stretched her hands out and interlocked her fingers with mine. She looked at me with a smile and said: “I was able to carry out the job safely because you looked after me. Your care and concern for me is what motivates me to move forward, and… And I’m really happy that you care and worry about me.”
“Is that so? In that case, I’ll continue to care about you.”
I held her hand and turned around. I smiled and looked at the top of her head. The black smoke still covered the sky. The horse carriage behind us squeaked. After that I felt something warm on my back. Lucia had let go of my hand and hugged me around my neck from behind, and gently rested her body on mine.
It’s alright for me to indulge in this warmth after that battle, right?
Being reincarnated is a strange feeling. In fact, I felt like an outcast here. But I just went and battled a horde of creatures I’d never seen before. These men had become like brothers to me. I don’t know if it’s due to the feelings of the previous owner of this body or not, but I can feel my own affection for mom and Lucia, both whom I’ve never met before.
Enjoying Lucia’s love is pure bliss.
I honestly don’t really miss my previous life. My parents left me with some sad memories but things I miss. But that can’t be helped. A family with members in the military meant that parents dying or children dying were inevitable things just waiting to happen. My parents are stronger than anyone, so they’d be fine.
I’m slowly getting used to my life here. I’m getting used to walking around in the palace every day, used to seeing different elves, their food, their entertainment as well as mom’s doting and Lucia’s sincere love. I don’t have any intentions of returning and I don’t have the thoughts connected to this body. I don’t want to leave. In fact I’m enjoying life here. There’s never a boring day here, even without computers or cell phones.
Mom and Lucia are here with me too.
In my previous life, I was always trying to seek the meaning of my life. I feel like I’ve found my meaning of life here. Lucia is completely different to human girls. She’s natural, innocent and strong. She’s so perfect she’s practically a goddess. I love Lucia. Actually, every guy who’s a true man would love Lucia.
I looked up at the sky above and asked with a laugh: “How will we ever be able to get married officially? We’ve been engaged for a long time now, haven’t we…?”
I actually don’t know how long we’ve been engaged, but who cares! I can ask about our marriage!
Lucia’s grip on my hand tightened as she started rubbing her body on my back and then said: “We can get married whenever, your highness, I don’t mind. Did you wanted to get married soon? But… But… After I get married, the buffs provided by the wind elves will wear off…”
There was a hint of hesitation in her voice as she said: “I’m the only-child in my family. Our family has always been charged with protecting the ruler of the elves. I’m only able to protect you and her highness in thanks to the support of wind elves. I can’t protect you if I don’t have their support. So I’ll be relegated to just being your wife, and our family’s legacy will end with me.”
I paused. I had no idea Lucia had to deal with that… No, I should’ve known, but I didn’t.
“You asked me before, your highness… I rejected you back then because I wanted to continue my family’s legacy. I wanted to continue it for at least ten years… But your highness, if you insist, I can…” Lucia hugged my neck and gently continued over my shoulder: “I want to get married to you too. I want to become your wife, have a few kids and to always stay by your side. If you wish to marry me, I am happy to wed you… It’s fine…”
I lightly held her hand. Lucia wasn’t forcing herself. She had a blissful smile on her face and her hand wasn’t shaking. She doesn’t lie. She wanted to get married to me, but she also wanted to uphold her family’s legacy. But this wasn’t a painful decision to make, as both were happy choices.
“Let’s hold off on it.”
I took her hand and said: “Inheriting what your family has passed down to you is important, Lucia. Uphold your family’s legacy as my fiancé for now. Once you’re tired we’ll get married. I’m happy with the way we are right now. As to when we get married… I’m not rushed.”
“Uhm. I won’t have a change of heart, your highness. I fell in love with you at first sight. Your gentleness makes me very happy. I will never betray you…”
We held hands and sat on the edge of the horse carriage listening to the sound of the men behind us moving the corpses. The black smoke finally cleared, revealing the blue sky and bright sun. Lucia blew away the scent of blood with her wind magic, thereby bringing back the scent of the forest. Lucia didn’t do anything and we just continued resting in each other’s embrace. I felt her steady breath and looked around. It would be so blissful if we weren’t here for war, but for a hunting trip.
The captain of the imperial palace guards walked over to us and said: “Your highness, everything is ready. The corpses have been loaded onto the carts and the men have packed up. Do we have to bring back the broken ballistae too?”
I shook my head and said: “They’re all broken so just leave them. They’ve been completely crushed by the Earth Dragons so they’re not worth fixing. Alright, let’s head back. Since there are no more Earth Dragons in this forest, find a nice path to travel.”
“Understood! Your highness, do we need to ask everyone to be ready to give us a homecoming welcome?”
The captain looked at me with a smile and said: “This is your first victory, a splendid victory. Your calmness and bravery are also commendable. You have won our respect with your display. Your highness, you can ask the citizens of our city to welcome you home. The gods are with you.”
I shook my head with a smile and said: “No, there’s no need. My last failure was my own fault. I was trying to make up for it like a blind sheep this time as well. It can’t be considered a glorious victory so let’s not bother the citizens and waste money. We can hold celebrations after my next true glorious victory.”
“Understood, your highness. You should ride in front of our forces.”
“Can’t I stay in the carriage?”
I wasn’t too keen on riding at the front where everybody could see me, because last time I was walking around scattering Earth Dragon scales. This time I killed hordes of them, so people probably won’t buy it…
Lucia pushed me from behind and said with a smile: “Go ahead, your highness. I’m fine. You need to walk at the forefront as the commander, because you’re the one everyone is most proud of.”
The captain nodded and said: “It is best that you walk at the forefront because it would be bad if someone else was seen leading. We would never be able to escape accusations of treason if someone accused us in that situation, so I would like to ask you to ride your horse at the forefront.”
I sighed and stroked Lucia’s head while feeling reluctant to leave her side, and finally got off the carriage. The captain gave me a bag full of dragon scales. But this time, they were different. There was blood dripping from the bag. I could feel the warmth of their flesh in my hands. Every single scale in this bag was peeled off the corpses of Earth Dragons. Only this time, I obtained them with my own hands.
“Men, let’s head home! Remember, we are the victors!”
Yeah, we were victorious this time.
I could now proudly announce I triumphed.