13-22: Disaster Coalesces

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13-22
Disaster Coalesces
Episode 13
Previous 13-21 (Story)

Hardships converge. Disaster is nigh.
Characters
Male Kuranta B icon.png
Angry Infected
Sarkaz Mercenary A icon.png
Beleaguered Mercenary
Male Victorian B icon.png
Indifferent Infected
Injured Victorian Soldier icon.png
Injured Soldier
Male Londinier A icon.png
Reunion Member
Eartha Partisan A icon.png
Self-Salvation Corps Member
Sarkaz Mercenary B icon.png
Starving Mercenary
Victorian Guard A icon.png
Victorian Soldier
Ursine Villager icon.png
Worn-out Infected
Backgrounds
Lifebone Nerve Center
1
Lifebone Dock Empty
2A
Lifebone Dock
2B
Cold Forest
3
Tent
4
Quagmire
5
Cave
6
Abandoned Building
7
Forest
8
Mansion Room
9
Battlefield
10
Londinium Suburbs
11
Airship Corridor
12
Everyone finally returns, and Kal'tsit tells them what the Sanguinarch of Vampires has summoned—the "Originium" of antiquity. Eblana finds Talulah, who refuses the former's solicitation. Up high in the sky, Theresa prepares for the final and decisive battle.
<Background 1>
<Flashback starts here>
Muddled Voice Why should I help you, Sarkaz?
Do you think you saved me? I didn't die, though that doesn't even matter—this shell is merely a plaything I abandoned long ago.
Besides, aren't the Sarkaz the ones hunting me down?
Hoederer How much history have you seen?
Muddled Voice All that I have experienced.
Hoederer Rumors say that you will divulge a piece of truth, or hint at an omen.
Muddled Voice You tiny little creatures treat my drifting ripples as hallucinations while indulging in them, and yet you harbor resent?
After I was divided up by those lunatics... there's even a fallen angel carrying a part of me around, and what I've seen and heard since has actually gotten more interesting.
On the contrary, what makes me feel absolute boredom are these so-called... bulky histories and profound topics.
Hoederer Absolute boredom... you're not wrong on that.
History always repeats itself on this land. Looking at the past is now a means of looking towards the future.
Muddled Voice And so, I have actually become a prophet! In this life of mine—if you can still count my current form as the same life as before—I've never thought of having such an identity.
Hoederer Then... are you looking for a "new conclusion"?
Muddled Voice Just how old do you think I am? You little rascal.
There won't be any new conclusions to draw, with the way all of you look like now.
Yes, something strange has happened to these decrepit bones of mine. A rabbit wears a Sarkaz's crown, and she together with a male Banshee are fighting a Vampire on top of my head.
Of course, there's that sheep playing with shadows who hangs out with you too.
Are these new to me? A little, perhaps.
But you can't win.
Hoederer You seem so sure.
Do we also belong to the history you've seen, that has comes full circle time and time again?
Muddled Voice There's never been a shortage of those who resist on this great land, but they always fall into the same trap.
Besides, I understand that Vampire's tricks. He was the one who peeled off my skin back then.
Hoederer Let's have a wager, Feranmut.
This strange bunch of people—Cautus, Caprinae, Banshee, Sarkaz; they'll triumph over the Vampire that tried to hunt you.
Muddled Voice Are you trying to win my favor? Do you think I'll look at you differently for helping me?
I couldn't care any less about that. But what are you putting on the table?
Hoederer If we win, you'll lend us your help, and bring us back to where we came from.
Muddled Voice And if you lose?
Hoederer We'll all be dead by that point.
Muddled Voice You're making an empty offer, little thing.
I accept.
Hoederer You really are easy to talk over.
Muddled Voice No, it's because I know that all you have are just the waves I toss up, that will calm to a still in the blink of an eye.
So I might as well spare a little effort and raise my eyelids a little.
<Flashback ends here>
You have indeed won, by a miniscule move. But the bet is far from over.
Did you really win? Did you triumph over the enmity, slaughter, and blood that Vampire represents?
Why don't we expand our wager by a little?
I'll bring all of you back.
And then continue to waiting for you in the cycles of history.
<Background 2A>
Kal'tsit ......
Doctor How long have they been gone?
Kal'tsit Three hours and fourteen minutes.
Doctor I'm really worried about them. / ...... / Even a Sanguinarch can bleed and die, right?
Kal'tsit You should trust them.
It's all we can do.
[Siege joins in.]
Siege We're done with our combat mission too.
Our losses aren't light. Their forces here are indeed well-trained.
Most of the Sarkaz chose to fight to the end, but a small number also chose to surrender.
<Dialogue branch starts here>
Doctor You can hand them over to W's mercenary squad.
Siege No, I'm not doing that.
<Dialogue branch>
Doctor ......
Siege It seems like you want me to make my own decision.
<Dialogue branch>
Doctor Will you execute them?
Siege That's how I wish to do so, and so does the rest.
<Dialogue branch ends here>
Siege But I refuse to let them die so simply just like that.
Perhaps it's difficult to put them on trial during wartime.
It's definitely a difficult task to judge just how much blood is on the hands of every terror-stricken Sarkaz who laid down their arms.
But if we act just like they do, then we'll be no different than them.
[Delphine joins in.]
Delphine Vina, I'd like to take on the responsibility of investigating the crimes committed by these Sarkaz prisoners of war.
Siege ......
Delphine I have a professional covert intelligence background too, so I'm well versed in the ways to get them to talk.
I know what you're worried about, I...
Siege No, I'm not.
I'll leave it to you.
Delphine ...Alright.
I won't let a single drop of blood go unaccounted for.
[A rumble is felt.]
Kal'tsit Prepare for battle. The Feranmut will be back soon.
Mon3tr, standby.
There's no way we can be sure who'll be on this return trip.
<Background 2B>
The gigantic skeleton finally reappears.
The torrents of time seem to have washed away any trace of battle, and it hovers in the air, no different than it was at any other point of time.
[An explosion blasts open part of the Lifebone...]
Kal'tsit Mon3tr!
[...as someone falls, which Mon3tr promptly catches.]
??? Hey! Let go of me, you damn—
Ugh. Seems like that old hag's awake. Think you got her backing you up now?
That's my last grenade, so bite onto it tight, you little freak!
Mon3tr (Angry howling)
Kal'tsit ...Put her down, Mon3tr.
[The one grabbed by Mon3tr is revealed to be W.]
W Shitty luck today.
*sigh* I just wanted to give myself a ceremonial salute to announce my return—
Didn't think I'd see an old hag with a scowl on her face once the skeleton stopped.
[Ines and Hoederer joins in.]
Ines W, don't forget we have to repair any structures you blow up here after taking over the place.
Anything destroyed will be fixed by the same hand.
W Huh? What makes you think I'd even know how to fix this kinda thing?!
Hoederer Kal'tsit, Doctor.
We've captured the Feranmut's skeleton, as well as Commander Ulšulah.
The rest of the skeleton garrison have been eliminated.
Ulšulah ......
So you're the Dame Kal'tsit?
I've heard so much about you.
Kal'tsit You're one of the Scar Market's people.
Ulšulah ...You know every little thing that's happening in Kazdel clearly, even from somewhere as far as Victoria.
Seems like those old guys weren't lying.
Kal'tsit I'll have a talk with those "old guys", as you call them, through you when we're done with business here.
They are the ones who stayed behind to watch over Kazdel, and the Lich have already contacted the Military Commission that currently governs the place.
They'll be making their decision soon.
Doctor Where's Amiya and Logos?
[Amiya runs toward the Doctor.]
Amiya Doctor!
Doctor Amiya.
The little Cautus crashes into your arms.
Doctor Welcome back. / ...... / There's blood all over you. Are you hurt?
Amiya I'm fine. The blood... it was the Vampire's.
Kal'tsit Amiya.
Your rings... you used them.
Amiya Yeah.
Kal'tsit Let me see your hands.
A ring on Amiya's hand has already disintegrated, leaving not even a trace or fragment.
Amiya I... had to use it against him. I'm sorry.
Kal'tsit ...You've become more skilled with using emotions and memories.
Doctor Amiya, you fainted from releasing a ring before.
Kal'tsit, we need to run another check on Amiya.
Amiya No, Doctor. Don't worry.
I'm just... kind of tired.
Kal'tsit The ring on your right index remains broken. Fortunately, that's just an effect of exerting yourself.
You were burning from rage again.
Amiya Me.. angry?
I thought I'd be angry at the Sanguinarch of Vampires for slaughtering so many people.
But what I felt was not just that.
There was also... sadness.
Sadness.
Kal'tsit pauses briefly and a pair of pink eyes always hiding sadness within flashes through her memory.
A few seconds after, she comes to her senses and takes a second look at Amiya fingers.
Kal'tsit These rings are meant to help you adapt to the Lord of Fiends' power, and the surge of emotions that come with it.
Another ring has cracked.
Perhaps... we can do nothing but to witness these wounds open again and again.
Amiya Please don't worry, Dr. Kal'tsit. No matter who I've faced, or who I will face next...
I won't fall before they do.
Logos the Sanguinarch of Vampires fell into someplace we don't know about.
His court still remains, but no longer poses a threat to us.
However, we failed to prevent the curse from being cast.
Amiya It's coming from Londinium... what's happening over there?
Kal'tsit The Self-Salvation Corps originally believed that cutting off this supply line would be a way to end the war.
But things have changed. This "war" will not last for much longer.
We need to hurry over. This skeleton might be able to become a new stronghold, or an unprecedented means of transport.
Hopefully it can be put to good use.
Siege The decisive battle is right before us.
Amiya Mhm. The Sarkaz cannot be the culprits of the next calamity.
Also...
Dr. Kal'tsit. The Vampire's obsession, his hopes, and what he called a curse, is "Originium".
Kal'tsit ...Yes.
The oldest Kazdel came into contact with "Originium" before any other civilization did.
It was not the remnants of a Catastrophe, or a mineral silently buried within rock formations. It was a hunk of "Originium" from antiquity.
And it birthed the oldest witchcraft, and the most ancient of... Infected.
If the Vampire really knew of this fact, and developed his obsession from that, thinking it could grant him power...
Then it won't just be Londinium's fate that will be determined next.
<Background 3>
Percival Back here again.
Londinium.
Nine Yeah, after all we've been through... we're finally in Victoria's capital.
A pity it's now completely surrounded by the Sarkaz and the Dukes' armies.
Guard, quickly arrange...
......
Percival ......
Nine Percival, arrange another Oripathy screening for our members. I know some of them are still deteriorating.
Non-combatants will be stationed in this forest. Percival, take good care of them and keep in touch with us.
Percival ...Are we really going in there?
Nine The Infected will be everywhere throughout the city, no matter how the war ends.
Sarkaz or Victorian, soldiers or nobles, and even farmers, workers, traders. They won't be able to judge their own identity so quickly.
Perhaps they won't even realize it until peace returns and they're once again marginalized, and then it hits them.
I was reminded of this... because of what happened to Guard.
Percival ......
Nine But, no matter.
We have to let every Infected on this land know that our flag flies high once again.
And more importantly, what it stands for.
Once day, when they become prisoners again, they will think of our flag as they realize the justice on this land must be won through struggle.
Percival What's the plan?
Nine We'll split up. It won't happen overnight.
Other people can handle the task of eradicating the disease, while we'll make sure oppression will no longer be tolerated. We'll need to directly demonstrate this with our strength.
In Victoria, we need to at the very least—
Talulah ——Nine.
There's fire on the other side of the hill, a hundred or two hundred meters away at most.
It's glowing an unnatural hue.
Nine ...Percival.
How long has it been since the scouting team last replied us?
Percival Huh? Let me go check...
...Yeah, it's been longer than our estimations. But this isn't the first time, our comms equipment are just junk after all.
I'll go ask Red...
Talulah stares at the flames.
There is no reason or omen. Only a strong feeling.
She smells the stench of death cast by the firelight.
<Background 4>
"The Brigadier" I didn't know Your Highness would be here in person.
This is only a trifling swarm of Infected with weapons. Weak and pitiable people forced to unite and fight.
Eblana ...Heh. Even if there is a surviving Draco among them?
"The Brigadier" We'll confirm her identity and handle everything on your behalf.
Eblana I'm not blaming you, of course.
Hmm... have the scouts located the target?
"The Brigadier" Yes. It's consistent with our intel.
However, with all due respect—why do we have to be so concerned about her this much?
Even if she has the red dragon's blood—her "identity" will only pose a slight detriment to your claim.
But if our intel is accurate, her current identity is that of an "Infected".
So what does she mean to...
Eblana An Infected, hm?
Don't we know another Infected Draco as well?
"The Brigadier" ......
Eblana My sister will soon return to my side.
Just think of it as eliminating some unnecessary variables to nourish the soil between us.
"The Brigadier" We can—
Eblana A Draco.
Hehe... I've never come into contact with a Draco outside of family before.
"The Brigadier" ......
Eblana All of you, wait here.
I shall take a look myself.
<Background 5>
Worn-out Infected Ah—
Talulah Careful.
Worn-out Infected ......Thank you.
This swamp is miserable to wade through.
Talulah Yeah.
Our supplies are low, and people aren't getting enough to eat. We haven't been able to get any decent medication either.
Do you need my help?
Worn-out Infected No, no thank you.
I walked all the way from Ursus, and this isn't so different from back then.
Talulah ......
Talulah's footsteps slow down.
The group slowly marches next to her through the shrubs and reeds.
The rustling sounds are quieter than silence itself.
Nine What is it?
Talulah Nine.
Can you release these... restraints? And your Arts too.
Nine You should be well aware you're not allowed to use your Originium Arts. These are your yoke and fetters.
You're "Talulah, the Hero" only when before our Victorian compatriots.
Talulah I'm not a hero, or anything like that.
I just don't want history to repeat itself because of m—
She does not finish her sentence.
Flames of death ignite from the depths of the swamp, encircling the group in their confusion.
Reunion Member Wh-What's going on?!
Where did this fire come from?!
Nine All units on alert!
What is that—
An ominous deep purple climbs up Nine's body before she can finish speaking, engulfing her in death instantly.
Cold flames of death swallow everything.
[Eblana reveals herself.]
Eblana ..."Reunion". Infected.
Another group of pitiable people, fighting against their pitiable fate. Tenacious, powerful, magnificent.
And yet completely unaware they're involved in another lamentable conspiracy. Draco and Aslan, red dragon and lion.
You people, who rose up from Ursus, were actually lead to where you stand today by a descendant of the red dragon.
Who will ultimately bring about your demise.
"Talulah Artorius". What sort of woman are you, Draco?
If you're deserving of my attention, then come forth from death.
......
Sparks fly as death's voice, with dead branches and reeds all reduced to ashes.
...But the flowers are still in bloom.
They are rejecting death.
Eblana Flowers?
To think there would even be... flowers that can withstand my flames?
[Talulah cuts through Eblana's flames.]
Talulah Nine.
Nine I'm fine.
These flames are special.
Talulah Yes.
She came for me, so I'll handle her.
Nine ......
Talulah Many of us here aren't combat-ready.
You have to keep them all safe.
Nine Reunion will pull on your chain.
You haven't been judged, so don't die just yet.
Her flames of death are cut open.
No. Her death is blocked by delicate vegetation, ignited by flames of fury.
Fire ignites fire.
The Infected turns away from her.
She has never been ignored like this before.
Eblana ......
Eblana comes to her senses at once.
The gaze of the Draco named Talulah never shifted away from her.
Raging flame cleaves into mortal flame.
Emotion rends emotion.
Talulah tears into Eblana.
The void is now awash with blood.
Eblana laughs.
Eblana Talulah Artorius, daughter of Edward, and legitimate heir to the Victorian throne.
This is—
Your true self.
The Dragons' Blazing Wrath.png
Talulah We have nothing to do with each other, Draco of Dublinn.
Eblana Is that for you to say?
Just look at you, red dragon. How strong and powerful you are.
And yet despite your might, you once again willingly toss aside the glory of the red dragon to the Aslans so easily, to let them trample on the red carpets of Westhaleg?
Victoria is a country founded by Draco, Talulah.
Talulah ......
[Talulah strikes Eblana, who parried it.]
Eblana Why do you only resist?
I can smell an unimaginable fury in your flames.
Do you not crave it? How can that be?!
Talulah ...Fury?
Eblana Do you still wish to continue playing house with the Infected? How are you this narrow-minded!
Infected? This status does not merit mention. You can step over it, disregard it, save it.
I give you a chance now, Talulah.
I can disregard your Infected status, and even this pitiful mutual aid program you control.
Talulah ......
[Talulah strikes Eblana again, who parried it.]
Eblana Your flames move me, Talulah. Stand with me, and I pledge that everything you desire shall be realized into reality.
Come to my side, submit to me, and Tara shall stand together with you.
Our careers hold no conflict with each other at all. Both you and this Infected movement of yours need an end more powerful and prosperous than this.
Talulah Are you finished speaking?
<Background 5>
[Talulah slashes at Eblana, which hits her.]
Eblana ......!
You—
Talulah Draco.
Your eyes have only desire in them.
A desire to free Tara, exact revenge on Victoria, fulfil your own desires, or perhaps...
You have yet to even grasp what exactly lies in the depths of your desires.
Fury... It's true, and I won't deny it.
And that's why...
Come any closer, and my flames will consume you whole.
Fire.
Fury.
A calm fury.
It burns at the extremities of her death.
Eblana ......
Talulah I'm not interested in the Draco's lineage, power or the country.
You...
Do you lead the Tarans' resistance with such a narrow-sighted desire and ideals?
If so, then perhaps it's better if I just cut you down, here and now.
Eblana ......
Truly a pity.
Uninterested in lineage, power, nor country.
Our history summarized. An imaginary crown, an instigated resistance. Well said.
Perhaps I don't know what's going on? Or could it be... do you think I'm indulging myself with my actions?
You shall be my most powerful vassal, though my other subjects are eager for me to kill any other living Draco to uphold my "legitimacy".
But they don't know why exactly I wish to establish a nation.
Talulah And you know it yourself?
Eblana Of course.
And my sister will do it in my stead.
Talulah Don't leave your affairs for your family to do, Draco.
You're the one ruining the lives of others with utter disregard.
Eblana Death is only my prisoner.
No death is taken for granted, or without meaning.
All with power will die worthy deaths.
Talulah Is that up for you to decide?
Haven't you realized yet that your manners, gentleness, affection, and even your arrogance and scorn are all fake?
You're just a hypocritical tyrant despite your bombastic words.
Death is just a scepter for you to brandish your authority, and you're not the first tyrant I've met either.
Stay away from Reunion.
Eblana What an extremely dull answer.
But your answer will change in the end, so it'd be a pity for you to die here.
"Reunion". Indeed, those flowers death could not burn earlier are equally deserving of affection.
So, what if I tell you... Dublinn's forces will exterminate every last one of Reunion's members if you refuse to submit to me...? What will you do then?
Talulah You...
Eblana Do you wish for us to be enemies?
I don't know what happened in the time you spent drifting about Ursus after leaving Victoria, but I can feel it.
From your flames—strong and weak, profound and superficial, angry and remorseful.
Talulah ......
I—
Nine She's a sinner from Reunion.
Don't think too highly of yourself, Draco.
Eblana Ah. The little flower.
Your team's not too far away. You must be so concerned for her.
Nine It doesn't matter, this isn't the first time Reunion is up against a strong foe.
Dublinn's forces? You already erred by not calling in your high-speed battleships immediately.
We'll kill you before your drones arrive. I'll do my best, and everything it takes to kill you.
Your desires and ambitions—we don't care for them, and I'm in no mood to listen to your red dragon chat with Talulah.
All I know is that you'll die.
For sure.
Eblana ......
Enough with that look. All of us have no wish for this to continue, right?
—Alright, Talulah, other descendant of the red dragon.
Even if you reject me, and your actions have wholly nothing to do with my Tara...
But your fury, resistance, desires and answers—your end lies me with too.
Let us treat today's meeting as a first prophecy.
Tara's loyal servants shall come here one after the other.
Go, Reunion. Bring some chaos to Victoria, and create some opportunities for us.
The next time we meet...
One red dragon is bound to bite the other to death.
<Background 6>
Ch'en ......
That's enough hiding. Come out already.
It's only going to become more humid after night falls, and you won't be able to light the firewood you got.
Indifferent Infected Who... are you?
Ch'en ...You're Infected.
Doesn't matter, I'm the same. I won't harm you or anything.
Angry Infected ......
Ch'en There's no need to be so wary. I'm not lying, I really am Infected.
Angry Infected You're... not a Victorian?
Ch'en I'm from Yan.
Angry Infected What's a Yanese doing here?
Ch'en ......
My family came here for business and got caught up in the war. I was going to evacuate with them, but I accidentally contracted Oripathy.
So they left me behind.
Angry Infected Hmph. Everyone's unfair to the Infected everywhere. Your luck sure sucks.
But we can't help you either.
Ch'en I can tell.
You don't even have a way to start a fire, so you're probably no Arts users.
Don't seem to be hunters either, so you won't live more than a few days.
Getting captured by the military as an Infected, or by the Sarkaz as a Victorian, either way is a terrible way to go, right?
Indifferent Infected So?
Ch'en I can help you get a fire going at least.
Watch.
Angry Infected Woah! It's really burning! It was that easy?
Thank you so, so much, Yanese lady.
What about you? Do you need us for anything?
Ch'en The sky's getting dark. Can I rest here for the night?
I'll leave at first light tomorrow.
Indifferent Infected How's a foreign refugee like you this calm and unruffled?
And your sword... even I can tell it ain't some ordinary blade.
Ch'en You're right... I'm what they call a zoubiao in Yan, like the Messengers here.
I'm pretty skilled, and not a stranger to traversing adverse conditions either. Surviving in the wild isn't that difficult for me.
Indifferent Infected You helped us start a fire... I'll leave it at that.
*sigh*...I'll admit what we did, even if it's the soldiers who find out. As long as the Sarkaz don't catch us.
Angry Infected It's not like they'll reward you with a feast.
Indifferent Infected Is that worth discussing when we don't even have a crumb to eat right now?
Those Reunion crazies... they're the reason why it's so dire for us now...
Ch'en Reunion?
Angry Infected You haven't heard? Well, you've only been recently Infected, after all.
Ch'en ...Mm.
Angry Infected They're a band of Infected, and we were all counting on them to be our saviors.
Ch'en You fought over something?
Indifferent Infected Bah.
We robbed a Sarkaz, but they were of the opinion that we killed one of their Infected "countrymen".
Angry Infected Sarkaz? Countrymen? My daughter's dead because of them!
My daughter... my girl... *sigh* Oh!
Ch'en ......
Do they have a leader...?
Angry Infected "Nine".
Indifferent Infected Yeah. She's the one who chased us away.
Ch'en ......
Angry Infected There was another one they called Guard, but he's dead.
...Grr. I really want to roast something for dinner.
I don't know what Reunion is exactly, but the group we encountered were a bunch of hypocrites who belong in a dumpster.
What? Heh, you want me to shake hands with the Sarkaz and make peace? I'll beat the next one I see to death.
Ch'en ......
Indifferent Infected Right, remember the rumors we always heard? From the Ursus tundra?
——Talulah?
Ch'en ......
Indifferent Infected "Hero of the Infected"? She didn't seem much at all to me.
I remember she was always trailing behind Nine, and never said anything more than a few words.
The hearsay from those old Infected weren't worth shite. Nine might have been the actual decision maker all along.
...*sigh*. This is all just useless banter. It's too late for you to join them, Yanese fella.
Ch'en Where did they go?
Angry Infected And how would I know?
Back then I left in a huff with this guy in tow. I remember there being a Messenger station in this direction about a dozen kilometers from here.
Ch'en An early rest for us today then.
We have to get back on the road tomorrow.
<Background 7>
[Two Victorian soldiers are reporting their activities.]
Victorian Soldier A ...Nothing unusual to report.
Did you hear? The dukes seemed to have bumped into each other.
Victorian Soldier B Duke Windermere sacrificed herself, and the other lords can no longer sit still either.
*sigh* The madam's legendary tale is still in my mobile terminal...
Victorian Soldier A Legends are useless now.
Victorian Soldier A But... do you know who was keeping watch here at Chetleigh before we took command? I thought the Sarkaz seized this place long ago.
Victorian Soldier B Could they have been stragglers from some army? Maybe it's the Londinium Citizens' Self-Salvation Corps. Rumors abound that they're still active.
Victorian Soldier A That's ace. They managed to stand up to the Sarkaz even though there's no decent equipment to be found here.
Victorian Soldier B Yeah. They're definitely veterans roaming about the country who can take on a hundred alone.
Victorian Soldier A Right? No way they're just some local thugs or worker riffraff.
The scouts sent their intel.
Basically it was pretty much what the commander predicted... which was "impossible to predict".
Meh. Send it to the tent, I can't make heads or tails of it either. The Sarkaz army's methods are just too unconventional.
Victorian Soldier B Sure.
Victorian Soldier A ...Wait.
The scouts say they detected a strange squad identification code.
Victorian Soldier B Want to report it together?
Victorian Soldier A ......
"The Exemplars"?
Isn't that name from the War of the Four Nations...?
Victorian Soldier B ......
Victorian Soldier A What am I supposed to tell them? Our scouts saw a specter?
[Bagpipe joins in.]
Bagpipe ..."The Exemplars".
Know anythin' about them?
Injured Soldier No... I'm from the Duke of Fife's 4th infantry battalion...um. That's no longer important.
Bagpipe Aye, you're just an Infected now, and I'm basically a deserter...
Haha, we're both in a wee bit of a pickle, aren't we? Didn't think I'd have to be so overcautious here in Chetleigh.
Injured Soldier Bagpipe... I can't find this funny at all.
Chetleigh's now under the army's jurisdiction, so are we...
Bagpipe ...Sigh.
I'm sure you have no clue how enchantin' the hay piles are this time of year. I want to celebrate with me army chums back home too.
But I can't expose myself so easily like that. They treat deserters no better than fowlbeasts on the chopping block for dinner.
Injured Soldier You're a good one, miss. I'm sure you can sort this misunderstanding out...
Bagpipe Tell me that a year back and I might have believed ye.
"The Exemplars"...
...Ain't that the Tempest Platoon's former name?
<Background 8>
Ch'en Still following me?
Angry Infected Uhm.
You seem strong... and we haven' eaten at all the past two days...
Indifferent Infected We're all fellow Infected, aren't we?
Ch'en We'll travel together for a while more.
You might be able to see the station you mentioned after this hillside.
Indifferent Infected Or maybe it's been smashed to bits... wait.
Look, over there. People, right?
Ch'en Right.
Stay calm. Their numbers are limited, at the very least.
Angry Infected Wait, hold on! They're Victorians! I can see them!
Are they a squad of refugees? I can see some soldier guards too!
Indifferent Infected What do we do?
This is much better than running into Sarkaz, but we're Infected... are we going to be...
Angry Infected ......
The Infected already abandoned us, so we might as well ask them for food than starve to death out here.
B-besides, think about it. How many people are going to emerge from this war with Oripathy? Surely they'll let us live somehow?
Of course. Definitely. For sure, I'm sure they will.
I'll go take a look.
[The angry Infected heads out.]
Indifferent Infected Hey!
Ch'en ......
Indifferent Infected Heavens! What's going to happen if the soldiers do turn hostile?
And, um, you're a Yanese... what if...
Ch'en ...I think you can ease up on the anxiety.
Ch'en Look. They seem to be getting along well.
Indifferent Infected Huh?
I-it really does look like it. He's waving, I'll go over.
Ch'en watches the two Infected mingle with their compatriots.
Vigilance, talking, casual chatting.
Soon someone puts their arm on their shoulders, and their cheery chatter reaches Ch'en's ears.
Ch'en stays at her spot for a long time.
[Ch'en heads off as the angry Infected returns to her.]
Angry Infected Yanese lady!
I talked with them, we can travel together—
Huh. Where'd she go?
<Background black>
Ch'en "You beat a Sarkaz to death? Hell yeah, you're our heroes!"
......
Hmph.
<Background 9>
Duke of Caster You finally replied to my invitation, Duke Gododdin.
It seems that even you realize now how serious the situation is.
Duke of Gododdin Yes, it's gotten so serious that our cautious Duke Caster has actually left her territory to grace the front lines in person.
Duke of Caster A Victorian Duke has died on the battlefield... how many years has it been since something like this has happened?
Duke of Gododdin Quite a few of our fellow nobles suspect you behind your back, you know. After all, everyone knows you never got along with the Duke of Windermere.
That stubborn Windermere would never support your little plot to take over Londinium.
Duke of Caster ......
Duke of Gododdin But I know it wouldn't be you.
You welcome any loss she suffers, even if they were major. But now... your problems have only increased with her death.
In fact, all of us here have attracted a big problem.
Duke of Caster There are rumors from outside that the young Duke Gododdin today is obsessed with notions of romance and lacks the wisdom and wits of his house.
It seems that our country has become so weak that we've exhausted our ability to understand people.
Duke of Gododdin Don't flatter me, I'm only disinclined to care about other matters, yours included.
Alas. Why does this war compel us to face our responsibilities? All I can do is to walk out the winery and throw myself down at the table of today.
And for this end I've even brought a friend.
It was not easy to bring him off his high-speed battleship.
[The Duke of Wellington joins in.]
Duke of Caster ......
Duke of Wellington ......
Duke of Caster To think the Duke of Wellington would grace us with his presence.
Duke of Wellington My time grows short.
Duke of Caster I hear you met with some troubles on the frontline. The Nachzehrer King is not an easy enemy to deal with.
Duke of Wellington ...Hmph.
No more than just a Sarkaz.
Duke of Gododdin You must take care of yourself. After all, you're already...
Duke of Wellington I'm not at the age where I need you to tell me how old I am.
The stalemate on the frontline will soon end, and Windermere's defeat will have a... minimal impact on the war situation.
We will be able to retake the frontlines in no time.
Duke of Gododdin Your valiant march onwards has caused the ducal armies to clash with the Sarkaz military on all fronts.
Duke of Wellington It's not enough.
We must execute an effective offensive than continue defending our fragmented defenses to win this war.
Our counterattack must begin.
Duke of Caster ...I agree.
Duke of Gododdin A rare sight to see the two of you in agreement.
Duke of Caster Londinium is now officially declared to be under the Sarkaz's occupation. This means they no longer have a need to hide.
This does not bode well for us at all.
Duke of Wellington My follow-up units will assemble in three days.
We suffered some losses in the previous war, but Wellington's battleships will still be the first to rush into the storm.
Duke of Caster I will participate as well. And see to it that the Dukes of Normandy and Fife join our efforts.
Duke of Gododdin Abercorn and Ashworth will of course, also be reasonable people—
What an unprecedented sight to behold. The dukes speeding to Londinium on their battleships to shell the city walls.
Duke of Wellington Hmph, I hope there won't be a second time.
Inform your troops that I will take command in this battle.
Duke of Gododdin Naturally.
Duke of Wellington Well then, if you will excuse me. There are many matters waiting for me to handle on the front line.
[The Duke of Wellington leaves.]
Duke of Gododdin And just like that. Truly a swift and decisive man.
I grew up listening to the tales of "The Empire's Death Knell", but I didn't think his hair would actually turn completely white.
*sigh* Forming a military alliance with other dukes used to be an earth-shaking affair, but look at us now; we can't even have a presentable meeting.
Duke of Caster ......
Duke of Gododdin Judging from his words, he's become a stubborn old man unwilling to admit his setbacks.
Duke Caster, I know nothing about war, but looking at old Wellington's condition, I fear we won't be able to completely trust him...
Caster?
Duke of Caster Indeed... trust.
No, it's nothing. I merely recalled some past events from my youth.
Old Wellington... he conceals his impatience, his unease, and even his shortcomings. He is getting older as well.
But he can't fool me. It's all fake.
Duke of Gododdin You've known him for a long time.
Duke of Caster For far too many years... even from when I was just a little girl with no experience.
Duke of Gododdin What are your thoughts on the matter?
Duke of Caster The look in his eyes as he spoke of the Nachzehrer was exactly the same as it used to be in his youth.
Be it friend or foe, he is like a beast thirsting to tear the other to feast on their blood.
To rip out their entrails, chew their bones, and swallow them.
Hunt, devour, grow. He has always been this sort of warrior.
Duke of Gododdin The old man's appetite has always been good.
Who was already in Duke Wellington's belly, when you met him?
Duke of Caster Ivan Yevgenyevich.
Herkunftshorn.
As well as Corsica I.
Duke of Gododdin ...I see.
You were really... quite young back then.
Duke of Caster There used to be a saying in the among the nobles in Caster territory, regarded as an ominous symbol.
"Victoria only has one true Duke after the War of the Four Nations."
For we restricted and weakened him after that fort more than sixty years. The people forget about heroes in peacetime, and the nobles repel the death knell in their fear.
He revealed his fatigue earlier.
But I think of, and I've always been thinking of something—the smile on his face when we were both young, flashed towards the endless expanse of the battlefront...
He stood side by side with the Emperor of Ursus, he witnessed the Witch King's arts, he saw the greatest of monarchs and dismantled the largest modern cities to exist then.
How can someone like him willingly throw himself to the slaughter?
Duke of Gododdin Hmm...
So you're telling me, our man who has had no choice but to swallow his pride for decades and might be still Victoria's strongest general, has divulged his true feelings?
Duke of Caster Heheh, you're the one who invited him to the table. You know he has a trump card up his sleeve.
Duke of Gododdin I'm feeling a little chilly. The wind outside tonight is rather strong.
Duke of Caster Chilly? Be sure not to catch a cold, Duke Gododdin.
Duke of Gododdin Ahaha, of course not. Please be at ease.
Despite what everyone says about me, I really am lazy and would much rather stay in my lovely estate appreciating the countryside view than to be on a battleship.
But I do like winter.
<Background 10>
Closure Ah! I got it!
Self-Salvation Corps Fighter You tinkering with the radio equipment again?
Didn't I already tell you multiple times, Closure?
Our recent patrols haven't gone far enough to pick up any signals coming from inside Londinium.
Closure And I already told you so many times, I'm a Rhodes Island engineer!
Look, my equipment specially made for Rhodes Island communications can now receive signals from other channels after my many modifications!
Let's see—
"Londinium Self-Salvation Corps broadcast, *Electric current noise*. Repeat, Commander Clovisia and the other members who have not left are still fighting. Repeat, we need back up——"
Self-Salvation Corps Fighter Commander Clovisia! I knew she and the others were fine!
We need to hurry and tell everyone about this.
Closure Great, they're all right and I'm done debugging this tool in my hand.
Wait, there's another message from the Rhodes Island channel.
It can't be... what happened to Blaze and the rest with her, and what's with all the regular Infected...
"*Electric current noise* The disembarkment application for Londinium, Victoria has been approved *Electric current noise* Local branch operators, please make preparations."
"Repeat, please make preparations."
<Background 11>
[The Sarkaz mercenaries from the book burning before wanders around the suburbs.]
Beleaguered Mercenary So many books here, but not even a vegetable stem to be found.
Starving Mercenary The number of books won't matter if we don't find any stems.
Are you sure we can find something edible here?
Beleaguered Mercenary If we don't, then we can just kick down some house door after.
Starving Mercenary Won't they put up a fight?
Beleaguered Mercenary We already took them all away.
(yawn) Man, I'm beat.
Life was so much simpler before.
Swing our sword, cut someone down, swing again, cut down another, and then boom. Money.
But now? We can't even find a single stem to eat.
Starving Mercenary Is Londinium still considered Victoria's now?
I mean, we occupied it, so does it count as a new city of ours now? Or is it still Victoria's?
Beleaguered Mercenary I don't know.
All I know is the clouds have been gathering lately. The top of that building... is extremely unusual.
Starving Mercenary What's there to worry? That's where the regent is.
[The sound of steam gushing is heard.]
Starving Mercenary Do you hear a... strange noise?
Beleaguered Mercenary Huh? Nah.
Starving Mercenary That's so strange...
A huge figure emerges from the shadows, and a ray of light blazes through the deathly still streets.
It raises it's heavy right arm, and then harshly drops it.
Charles Lynch ......
The armor falls into silence, like it was just an illusion. A faint fire seeping from its helmet is the only sign that it still lives.
??? ......
She stretches out her hand to touch the knight, but is forced to refrain from the residual heat on the armor.
The armor remains silent.
Episode 13 End.png
<Background 12>
Theresa ......
Manfred Your Highness, what are you looking at?
Theresa Dark clouds.
Manfred The Shard's energy is gathered. According to the Confessarii research, a device like this able to manipulate Originium's reactions will also be able to control that piece of "Originium".
The dukes have begun mobilizing their forces, and in a few days...
Theresa No, I don't mean the clouds here.
What's about to happen in Londinium is set in stone.
......
Manfred, you were born in Kazdel. What does it look like in your memories?
Manfred It was already the hub unit of your nomadic city while I was growing up.
My memories of the place... the sky was always overcast. Even worse than Victoria's skies, to be honest. There was always a pungent stench of industrial waste in the air.
Theresa Would you can that place... "home"?
Manfred ......
I would.
Theresa Really.
I was thinking how we Sarkaz always travel within a haze.
We are determined to tear the clouds apart...
But, when everything is finally revealed—
The true calamity will follow.
Will we make it in time?
......
I hope the light I've been looking at can still shine then.
Even if I'm already in the depths of the darkness.