A feeling of loneliness will always fill the air on the battlefield late at night. The humans had fire torches alight. The soldiers that did battle for the entire day didn’t even have the energy left to speak, so they sat around a fire and fell into a daze. It wasn’t that they didn’t want to rest, but rather because they were waiting to leave the battlefield. The empress gave orders for the soldiers from the five platoons who fought a tough battle during the day and suffered heavy losses to all leave the battlefield. They were ordered to return to the country, replenish their men and resources to avoid older soldiers dying and decreasing morale. The four platoons that were supposed to arrive tonight were to replace their positions in the camp. Right now, they were orderly leaving the battlegrounds.
The army’s morale took a big hit when they found out their empress got wounded during her battle with the elf queen during the day. While they basically achieved their goal for the day, the morale in the camp was like that of defeat. The red uniform army saw the empress as a being that would never be wounded, a goddess of battle, a goddess. However, she was wounded before their eyes today, albeit the enemy also getting wounded.
They weren’t too concerned about the empress winning or losing, but rather how her wound was. Countless soldiers gathered before her tent to check up on her despite their fatigue. The Valkyries held their long swords in their hands to keep them away. They didn’t act impulsively, nor did they cause a ruckus. They just quietly sat on the ground.
The empress set down the towel she was biting, wore her shirt on and asked Castell: “Castell… What is our morale like?”
Her smooth and shiny white skin looked alluringly supple under the light. However, the red blood on the blood-soaked bandage, the black blood, and even her skin the in basin left one helplessly concerned. The empress didn’t see a doctor. She instead, bit down on a towel and dug out the dirt Vyvyan smothered on out using a knife. She cut open her dead skin and burnt flesh, and finally applied medicine to her wound.
“The men are worried about your injuries so our morale has dropped a lot.”
Castell replied honestly. There is to be no lying in the army. Further, the empress never blamed anybody if their situation wasn’t looking good.
“Is that so? Well, I need to head out there then.”
The empress stood up, wore her battle robe back on and then stamped her feet. She was very careful with her movements, worried that her wound would open up again. She looked pale. The empress was aware of that. She covered the blood on the ground, touched her forehead and lips, and then took in a deep breath. She touched the wound on her chest and then walked out with confidence.
When the soldiers outside saw the tent open, they orderly knelt on the ground. Their voices showed that they were worried and relieved. The empress scanned the large group of soldiers knelt before her. She then took her commander sabre, aggressively stabbed it into the dirt and shouted: “What are you all gathered here for?! You think you can all laze around just because I’m having a short rest?! We are in enemy territory! What are we going to do if the elves launch a sneak attack on us at night?! Where are your posts? What happen to your shifts? What’s the point of you all gathering here? How could I be defeated by this insignificant skin-deep wound? Not only am I fine, I’m going to ride out there to fight tomorrow!”
“Oh, right, you all performed very well today.” The empress looked at a group of soldiers who were crying tears of joy already. She then softened her tone and added: “I notice the bravery and skills you all show. You have all already met my standards. You have proven that you are warriors worthy of standing by my side. I am proud of all of you. You should be proud of your loyalty. I am glad to have you as my men. You are true warriors! I shall reward all of you!”
“Long live your majesty! Long live your majesty!”
The troops stood up with their eyes full of worship towards the empress and warm tears. They looked at their empress and shouted so loudly with all their might one would think that they would lose their voice. Their tone was filled with pride and sobs. They were all elated and lively as they looked at their empress and swore their loyalty. Some of the old veterans even knelt on the ground and broke out in tears.
The heavy, gloomy atmosphere was swept away and replaced with hope. The entire camp gleefully cheered. The troops who’d lost their will and were fatigued were once again filled with vigour thanks to the encouragement of their empress. They moved more than twice as fast, moving things and leaving.
The empress watched the soldiers cheerfully leave. She wiped her sweat off her forehead and signalled with her hand. A Valkyrie then quickly rushed over to support her back into the tent.
Castell approached the queen, helped her onto her bed and in a sobbing tone said: “Your majesty! You must rest. You’ve bled too much blood!”
“I already promised our men that I would fight tomorrow, so I can’t go back on my words.”
The empress shut her eyes and her fatigued showed between her eyebrows. Her domineering voice now sounded weak. She had lost blood, she was in pain and the fatigue left the empress exhausted. If she were to fight tomorrow, her body would probably give in.
“It’s pointless to say any more, Castell.”
The empress opened her eyes. She looked at the upset Castell with her gentle black eyes, “I know that you’re worried about me, and I know that my body is very tired. However, I can’t relax. It’s not that I regret trusting you with the army, it’s just that I must stand at the front of our men. I’m not doing it to raise morale. I’m doing it just so that I can hold my son a little sooner.”
Castell knelt on the ground, gripped the bed tightly and in his sobbing tone said: “Your majesty… You must consider your own well-being……”
“Silly child. I know, I know.”
The empress reached her hand out and gently stroked Castell’s head. Castell then cried out loud. He knelt before the empress and cried loudly.
“I’ll rest tonight, starting from now.”
The empress closed her eyes and then wearily said: “I believe that my body will have recovered enough by tomorrow to allow me to ride on horseback. I’ve survived more difficult times before, so this minor injury is nothing. You saw how Vyvyan wouldn’t give up. She’s injured too. I injured her left leg and shoulder, but I believe that she will still stand at the forefront of her forces tomorrow. This may be just a normal war to you, but for us, it’s about the pride of a mother.”
“Your majesty, you are an empress, not just a simple mother.”
“No, I am a mother before I am an empress.”
The empress chuckled helplessly and said: “I don’t have anything else I desire. Land, wealth, cheers, worship, vengeance… I don’t need any of that anymore. The only thing I want now is my son. He was the only man I ever loved, and my son is my only son. Once I have my son, I’ll be able to enjoy my life in the future in peace. Being able to see my son grow up day-by-day is the most blissful thing in the world to me.”
Castell clenched his teeth. The empress’s voice got softer and softer until there was only the sound of her gentle breathing. Castell said no more. He just stood up with his tears running as he looked at the empress. The empress still wore a happy smile on her face. Perhaps the last sentence she said about living with her son was incomparably blissful.
Castell bowed deeply as he sobbed and said: “Goodnight, your majesty.”
He then wiped his tears and exited the tent. He looked towards the imperial city of the elves without speaking for a long while.
“Castell, how is her majesty?”
Alice’s voice came from his side. Castell didn’t lower his head or look at the tent behind him. He instead kept his eyes on the city in front of him and said: “Her majesty is resting.”
“Really? That’s great then.”
Alice let out a sigh of relief. She then chuckled and said: “What are you looking at then? Are you checking out the land you will be rewarded in the future or your rank as a duke? The elves have nice land. I think the land will most likely be rewarded to you.”
“No. I’m wondering just how outstanding the prince is for her majesty to love him so much.”