We’re here! …Right? What the heck is this? A tea party? “Uh….”
“Chosen Lucia, is this the right place?”
I think this person’s name was Brother Claw. Should I call him Clawy? But then his nickname will be longer than his actual name…. Mm, I guess I’ll just call him Claw. “I’m not sure. Where’s that navigator?”
“He was stripped and thrown overboard,” Claw said. He looks especially serious with that long scar running across his face. Where did he get that from? It looks like someone wanted to gouge out both his eyes but only had one knife, so he compromised and cut a diagonal line between them. Wait. Our navigator was stripped and thrown overboard? These minions are crazy! Why would they do such a thing!? What if we get lost, like now? Who was it? I’ll teach them a lesson!
“Who threw him over?”
“You did,” Claw said. His expression didn’t change, which was nice because I feel silly now. Did I really throw our navigator overboard? “He gave you a paper filled with lies, so you decided to dispose of him.”
Oh…, the navigator was that guy…. It’s his own fault for lying to me! He should’ve said something, jeez. Then I wouldn’t have gotten rid of him. Mm. Well, Ilya’s close enough to a navigator. She’s good at everything. “Where’s Ilya? Is she awake yet?”
“I believe she is still resting. Sister Moonlight is watching over her as well,” Claw said. “Sister Moonlight made me fourth-in-command. If you need someone to consult with, please, use me as you see fit.”
“Alright, Claw, is this the right place?” Wait a minute…. Wasn’t this guy the one asking me if it was the right place in the first place? Why am I asking him? Have I been bamboozled?
“We should pull over and ask that group of people,” Claw said, pointing at the group ahead. It was a massive, massive group. Even if I had a hundred hands, I doubt I’d be able to count them all on my fingers. They were sitting in neat rows and columns, making a giant human square on the ground, and all of them had teacups in front of them, resting on pillows. They were wearing the green robes, or military uniform, that the crown prince was wearing. They seemed like allies. Should I rob them before or after I interrogate them?
“Alright, I’ll go down and check it out.” Why are these people sitting around drinking tea in the middle of a battlefield? I didn’t get so lost that we went somewhere with civilians, right?
“Wait, Chosen Lucia, I’ll come with you,” Claw said. “Sister Moonlight said that none of us should let you proceed diplomatically with any party without supervision.”
Oi. What the hell, Softie? Am I a child that needs to be chaperoned? She’s the childish one. I’m older than her! When I get back, I’ll teach her how bad children are punished—with a spanking! Alright, I’ll grab Claw and teleport on over to…, I can’t teleport? Odd. Well, one good jump will bring me there.
“Who are you!?”
Oops. I landed on someone. I underestimated my strength a little. “Hi. I’m Lucia Fluffytail from the Shadow Devil Sect. I just wanted to know, is this the battlefield for the Gates of Hell?”
“Get off of me!”
There’s no space! I landed right in the middle of everyone, sheesh. If I get off of this person, I’ll have to step on a different one. Mm. If I hit him over the head and knock him out, he won’t complain anymore.
“Ahem. Like I was saying. Are you guys part of the army?”
“Commander! She killed the commander!”
…Hey. He’s still alive, you know? This is so frustrating. Why does everyone keep on ignoring my questions? “He’s not dead! I just made him sleep for a bit! Dammit, just answer my question or I’ll cut his head off!”
“How dare you attack our commander. Taste my Flaming—”
“Stop it, you fool! She has the commander hostage!” One person stopped another from attacking. Then he cupped his hands at me. “This is certainly the battleground of the Gates of Hell. We were performing our morning ritual before entering into battle. May I know what squad you are a part of? I’ve never heard of the Shadow Devil Sect.”
“Never heard of the Shadow Devil Sect?” Weren’t we famous? I thought we were famous. How come these people haven’t heard about us? Though, it’s true that I don’t know which sect he belongs to either. Hmm, I guess it’s fair.
“The Shadow Devil Sect hasn’t won the King Province Exchange for over hundreds of years. We’re relatively unknown. Though we were the biggest in Kong County, we’re nothing but a mere morsel on a very large dish.”
Mere morsel on a very large dish. I like this Claw person’s analogies! They make so much more sense than a frog stuck in a well. I mean, a frog stuck in a well’s basically dead. But the saying means something else—so weird, huh? And what squad are we a part of…? I think the crown prince assigned us to one, but I wasn’t really paying attention. Hmm. Softie should know! “I’m not sure what squad we’re in. Ask someone else. But we’re the direct subordinate of the crown prince.”
“Which crown prince?”
It’s a good thing the crown prince’s name is so easy to remember because it’s so absurd. “The single one.”
“Right. That’s the fellow. Anyways, where’s the battlefield? Where’s the fighting? How come you guys have time to sit around and brew tea for this many people?” I don’t get it. War is supposed to be chaotic and bloody and fun! Err, not fun. Serious. Right. War’s serious!
“It must be your first time here. I don’t know how wars are conducted in other places, but you should throw away all your preconceived notions of what war should be. In fact, a navigator should’ve given you the rules of warfare at the Gates of Hell.”
It’s the navigator once again. Why does that person always insist on foiling my plans? “Mm. Sure. So, how’s the war conducted then? We don’t charge at each other and hack away with our weapons?”
“No. Battles take place in the form of duels. After all, how can any victory be honorable if both sides aren’t completely equal?”
War’s not about honor….
“Even a sky-realm expert will fall if a thousand earth-realm experts attack him at once. To prevent needless deaths, both sides agreed to the conditions that you should’ve seen on the instruction manual.”
“Wait.” Wasn’t I supposed to harvest heads? How does that work if there’s no bloody battle? “How do I get merits then?”
“You cut off your opponent’s head during the duel. Though, most of the time, people agree to surrender and pay a tribute instead if they lose.”
Is this even a war anymore? “…What about cutting off people’s ears and stringing them into a necklace? What about chopping off people’s penises and making a stew out of them? What about capturing prisoners and branding them with a hot iron before ransoming them back to their families?”
“We…, we don’t do that around these parts…. That’s … not normal.”
“And these rules were given on that instruction sheet?”
“That’s correct. Everyone participates in one duel a day.”
…No wonder why Ilya said it was full of bullshit. At the rate of one head per day, it’ll take me five thousand days to get five thousand heads! That’s like … so many years! I can’t wait that long! Hasn’t anyone heard the saying, all is fair in love and war!? Cutting off penises and turning them into stew should be the norm! It’ll strike fear into the hearts of my opponents! The victors of the war get to decide what’s moral and immoral! What’s wrong with the Immortal Continent? Honor? Duels? They’re too civilized! Mm. It’s clear that there’s something wrong with this place. And when something is wrong, it’s up to someone to fix it. I guess I’ll be that selfless person who’ll sacrifice herself for the greater good. With my abundant experience in warfare, I’ll teach these people how a war should be conducted!