Operation story: 13-6

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Noblewoman icon.png
Exhausted Viscount
Sarkaz Mercenary B icon.png
Sarkaz Mercenary
Sarkaz Mercenary A icon.png
Sarkaz Mercenary
Quagmire Night
Abandoned Building
Camped Convoy

Before operation

Siege and Delphine's team rescue Horn and Misery's group. Siege manages to destroy the Sarkaz war altars, successfully defending Chetleigh.
<Background 1>
I was the first to see the scout.
While I scouted the silent government buildings next to the plaza on the other bank, his dead body drifting in the water, still grabbing the reeds by the bank.
It seems he never gave up trying to survive.
Not far from him, his journal lay quietly in a waterproof pouch, the last entry written just before his departure.
"I volunteered for this mission to deliver the SOS. I won't come back, whether I succeed or fail."
"No one will survive." (Crossed out)
Delphine His journal indicates that the defenders of Chetleigh are in dire straits.
See the crossing on the other side? The ferries have been sunk. Horn's squad has been completely cut off from the outside.
Two days ago, this soldier tried to cross the river under the cover of darkness, but was shot by the Sarkaz patrolling on the opposite bank.
There is no word from the troops that were garrisoned in the city hall.
The soldier's journal made me uneasy.
Twenty-three soldiers, two squads.
Other than the city hall, silent in the darkness, the rest of the buildings around the plaza have been reduced to smoldering ruins by artillery fire.
At least the tragedy hammers one thing: No one can truly escape death on the battlefield.
Delphine The Camus River runs to the east and north side of the plaza. The crossing to the east is under Sarkaz control. The lights coming from the south should be the Sarkaz camp.
They've holed up in the city hall for more than two weeks.
If the journal is accurate, the last bridge that connects the city hall to the residential district on the other side of the north bank was attacked no less than two days ago.
It's possible that they're cut off from all supplies.
Morgan Out of ammo, out of food.
Indra What do we do?
If we have the time to worry about that here, we might as well just cross the river and see for ourselves.
Delphine We can't just cross without a plan, Hannah. If we're discovered—
Siege Actually, Hannah's words made me think.
We've been unable reach Horn's squad by radio. Restoring communications is our first priority.
Me, Hannah, Morgan, and Dagda will swim across the river and see what the situation is inside city hall.
Delphine That's too dangerous, Vina!
Siege You realize that we're the best people for this job. The only people for this job.
We're Rhodes Island operators. Small squad spec ops is our game. And we're Norport gangsters, who know how to get into a place and get back out again unnoticed.
We have a few volunteer soldiers and civilians who want to offer their support for the legendary Tempest Platoon. But there are only so many people we can bring...
We need people to stay behind for defense, with Lieutenant Shearer gone.
I hardly hear what Vina is saying.
Is this a bad joke by Trilby Asher? Or is this how the battlefield is?
The call for help, deciding whether to answer, and the sacrifices that must be made to help... the laws of the battlefield.
Siege I know what you're thinking, Delphine.
There are personal sentiments involved, but I can't ignore the SOS.
They're good soldiers, and they'll be of help if they're still alive.
Delphine Alright... I trust your judgment.
Siege Stay behind with these men, Delphine. We need to keep watch.
If you lose our signal, take them and get out of here.
Delphine Alright.
Come back alive.
<Background fades out and in>
[Siege contacts the others.]
Siege Okay, we're on the bank. Keep your eyes out for any patrols.
Delphine Two Sarkaz standing guard at the crossing. One to Hannah's 3 o'clock, another in the building.
Indra Roger.
Siege Draw the attention of the first, and Hannah and I will do this together. Three... Two... One... go!
The light in the window goes out.
All is well?
Wait... a fowlbeast?
A black fowlbeast flies out of the hut at the crossing, flies a circle above, then heads towards the Sarkaz camp.
Delphine Vina!
An agile shadow leaps across the moonlight from the roof of the hut and grabs the fowlbeast.
Dagda Got it!
A military fowlbeast. You spooked it, Hannah.
Indra Sorry, I didn't notice.
Siege No sign of Sarkaz. To the city hall.
Lots of bodies on the plaza, but it's too dark to identify them. Ready to go in.
Morgan I see the bridge that connects the residential district, but the barricades on the other side of the bridge are blocking the view.
Delphine Go to the top of the city hall, try to get a better vantage.
Siege Roger. Hm...
The entrance has been boarded up.
Morgan Over here. A gap has been blown in the west wall, wide enough for us to go in.
Delphine Good... do you see Horn's squad?
Siege Not yet.
Stop! Something's moving. Radio silence. There's a crossbowman in the building watching the residential district, allegiance unknown. Watch for my sign.
[Siege signs off.]
Sarkaz Mercenary *Sarkaz profanity* What's that sound on this frequency? Who *Bzzzz—*
<Background black>
The signal goes silent.
I did not hear anything from them for the next ten minutes.
How many men in the building? What's the situation with the surrounded troops? Has Vina's group been discovered?
I'm completely in the dark.
Crouched in the dirt on the banks, I feel my heart beat harder with every throb.
The heartbeats merge into the river, resonating with the flow, growing faster and stronger—
??? I see you.
They've been discovered?
Someone's waving from the top of the building, the moon at her back. It's... Vina?
<Background 1>
Siege Siege here.
Horn Horn, Tempest Platoon. Do you hear me?
Siege We got your SOS. We've confirmed your location—the bridgehead at the residential district, on the other side.
We're coming to help.
"Bzzzzt— Bzzzzt—"
I hear cheers coming from the radio.
They did it.
Horn Sorry about that. The men are excited for our first bit of support.
We should be able to talk normally now.
Siege Horn, we can help your squad evacuate—
Horn Thanks, but we're not evacuating. There's something in this town that the Sarkaz want, and they won't abandon their assault.
The nearest Victorian battalion that received our SOS will arrive within one week. We must guard the entrance until then, and ensure the safety of the survivors of Chetleigh.
*Radio noise*
We voted on this. The decision was unanimous.
Including... Misery. Much obliged.
Dead silence.
She sounded like she was talking about the weather.
A vote. On a battlefield, there are only two choices you get to vote for: Life, or death.
Vina seems lost in thought. What decision would I make? What decision would Mother make?
Siege Then...
If you choose to gamble, I have an even bolder plan. Care to hear it?
<Background black>
I don't support Vina because she is the heir to the throne.
She's brave, competitive, hates losing.
Some would call her reckless.
But I count on her to get us there, to find a way out of hell.
I have to believe in her. I have to believe to get out of this hell.
I can't even bring myself to think about what happened that day.
Focus, Delphine. Focus.
The overwatch mission has ended. Time to meet up with them.
<Background 2>
Siege It's almost dawn. How go the preparations?
Morgan The windows and doors are being reinforced. Misery's been cleaning up enemy sentries.
[Misery contacts Siege.]
Misery I'll continue to keep a watch on the outskirts.
I'll get in touch if there are any changes at the camp.
Siege Thank you, Misery.
[Misery signs off.]
Siege We were supposed to meet up at Brentwood when we split up at Londinium. Why are you here at Chetleigh?
Horn Misery noticed something unusual when we passed by. We got here in time to see a massacre, and we couldn't just walk away.
Siege Are you sure you want me to be in charge? You're a professional soldier, Horn, and Delphine had elite military training.
Horn I know what you guys did at the Mausoleum of Kings. You brought back that sword for us.
Siege Just a piece of metal.
Horn P-Piece of metal? It's Victoria's Realmblade...
Siege Stop thinking about the Sighs of Kings. This might disappoint you, but it won't bring any miracles.
We're the only ones we can count on.
And it's enough.
Horn You're right.
You've proven as much.
We don't have the personnel, condition or resources to implement complex tactics. What we need for the coming fight is courage and determination.
In the face of disaster, the human spirit is much more important than any legend or artifact.
Prove it, Siege.
Siege ...Alright.
<Background fades out and in>
Siege Most of us are not professional soldiers. We'll just tell them to take the high ground and shoot any enemy that approaches.
The few of us here will form a response team to take out any Sarkaz that gets past.
Delphine Horn's squad will continue to defend the bridgehead position, create a fire zone.
They will continue to fend off the Sarkaz trying to get across the bridge, as per the original plan.
This building is the first line of defense. We'll be in the thick of things.
Morgan All we need to do is to defend one building. How hard can it be?
The Defense of Camus River—
Indra Hey, that was what I was going to say! It would make a great movie.
Dagda Quiet, Hannah. Patrol approaching from 1 o'clock, hundred meters out. At the ready.
Shall we fire, Siege?
Vina's hands were trembling.
Excitement? Fear? Or both?
I do not know. My hands are cold, almost frozen.
Seven days.
Will the dukes' troops really come? What if we fail? What if more Sarkaz notice?
I kept going over the possibilities in my head.
Siege Now! Open fire!
[Siege and her followers shoots down the Sarkaz patrol.]
Sirens start blaring in the Sarkaz camp the moment the patrol goes down.
There is no time to think. The Defense has begun.
<Background 3>
[Siege and her followers assaulted the Sarkaz camp.]
Sarkaz Mercenary My brothers will tear you apart, standing on my corpse, *Sarkaz profanity*...
[Delphine slashes the Sarkaz mercenary...]
Sarkaz Mercenary Ugh...
[...killing him.]
Delphine I prefer to be the one doing the tearing, if that's all right with you.
Once again, I think back to what happened that day. No, I can't.
Siege It's almost ninety seconds, Delphine! Ready to pull back!
Delphine Roger! Bentley's down! I'll fill the gap in the minefield.
Mines are too precious to just leave out there.
Siege You have fire support from the third floor.
Morgan The underground passage that connects the city hall's basement to the bridge has been cleared! Now the wounded have some space.
Indra You took a nick, Morgan. Are you okay?
Morgan Not good enough to hold a knife, but I can coordinate things in the back.
What about your side, Hannah?
Indra You're asking the expert of destruction. I could smash a hole in the ceilings without any extra equipment, and we have wooden ladders set up so that we can move quickly between the floors.
Siege Good. We can't have another situation like yesterday, when we couldn't get to Dagda in time.
Delphine I filled the gap in the minefield! Bentley's still breathing, so I'm taking him into the basement for treatment.
Is Dagda awake?
Morgan Awake, but she can't be moved yet.
She's been trying too hard. I'll do my best to care for her.
Siege Is there any news from the Sarkaz camp? They may be planning something else, after the assault on the building failed.
Can you find any more mines to expand the minefield?
Misery I'm afraid not. Our Sarkaz friend's mercenary band isn't so easy to find.
We'll have to count on my *static*—
Siege Witchcraft *static* signal— disrupt *static*—
Delphine Something's disrupting the signal?
Indra It's —*noise*—
—Del *static*— Run—
[The communicator goes static.]
I hear a long howl in the distance.
A strong sense of unease suddenly comes over me. The air has become filled with malice.
[Suddenly Delphine sees a burst of energy that blinds her, and...]
<Background 4>
??? Delphine?
[Dagda looks at Delphine as she opens her eyes.]
Dagda You're finally up.
Delphine I... my head hurts...
Dagda You didn't pull out in time while rescuing the wounded yesterday, and got caught by the blast of them test firing the war altar.
Delphine Yesterday...? War... altar? Where's Ben?
Dagda Hah, looks like we've both missed a lot.
Ach, my back still hurts. Morgan sucks at stitching. Oh, Ben's alive.
Delphine Who... who brought me back?
Dagda Hannah. She saw that you were still outside and jumped out from the third floor to drag you back in.
She just woke up herself. She's gone off to support Vina.
Delphine These are the wounded?
I walk through the underground passage, now filled with wounded personnel. Dozens of eyes turn towards me. Many of them still have dried blood upon them.
Dagda It's pretty bad. We need to hurry.
<Background 5>
[Explosions are heard as Siege speaks through a communicator.]
Siege The mines are pulling their weight. Two of the war altars have had their undercarriages disabled, and the rest have stopped.
They've stopped their advance.
Horn We can bombard the position you marked at any time!
Morgan Careful! The war altars are still charging. They haven't abandoned the assault yet!
Indra Alright, listen up, you berks. The next round of bombardment is about to begin. Anyone still on the first and second floors, get your arses up the third floor!
That thing can only shoot so high!
Misery I believe that its witchcraft core is powered by its operator, the altar itself acting only as a medium.
Siege So it'll blow itself up if its witchcraft core is destroyed when fully charged?
Misery In theory, but I've never seen it in action personally. I can't guarantee—
Siege That's good enough. I'll go up to the roof to look for an opportunity. The only way to approach the core is from above.
Can you distract the operator for a little while when the altar is activated? Every second helps.
Misery ...Will do.
Delphine Vina—
<Background black>
I stand at the staircase to the second floor, dumbfounded.
It takes me some time to realize that the pile of rubble without the left side wall is the city hall that we've been defending for the better part of a week.
The carnage on the plaza is in plain view, without the need for windows or portholes.
Amidst the ruins, the red crystals on the war altars shine an eerie red in the rays of dawn, the metal skeleton reflecting an ominous light.
It seems to whisper: Gaze upon blood, gaze upon decay, gaze upon death.
This is what Mother had done for so long.
And this is the first time I've thought of her in days.
<Background 2>
Siege Welcome back, Delphine, Dagda.
Delphine The Sarkaz have deployed these weapons en masse?
Misery I don't think so. I believe it was developed by the Military Commission in Victoria. The design is still very rough around the edges.
Delphine, you look reasonably well for someone who just woke up from being knocked unconscious.
Indra Morgan has been taking care of you two with one hand.
Morgan Hannah!
Delphine Thanks, Morgan. And Hannah.
Sorry about the trouble.
Indra It was a piece of cake.
Siege Alright, everybody, listen. I want rid of those altars, and for that I need help.
I need bait. Someone to stay here and keep those things firing...
Indra Sounds like a job for me.
Morgan I can do it too—
Delphine This is no time to be acting tough. I know better than anyone else here how terrifying those things are.
Your hand's still injured, Morgan. I'll be the one to work with Hannah.
Siege ......
I need someone else on standby to take over the attack if I don't succeed. Misery can only buy so much time for us.
Dagda I'll do it.
Morgan What about me, Vina?
Siege Morgan... keep an eye on everyone.
Morgan ......
<Background fades out and in>
Vina's plan is a simple one. Wait for the altars to fire, smash the core, cause a chain reaction.
All we need is an opportunity. And the opportunity has come.
They've taken aim.
The malice is sickening.
Delphine They could fire at any time.
Indra Not exactly a great feeling to be in that thing's crosshairs.
Siege Misery?
Misery Whenever you're ready—
Siege Do it.
<Background black>
The color on the deck flashes back before my eyes.
The demonic eye in the altar peers at me.
It is averted by a silver arc.
The dagger rips open the necks of a file of Sarkaz artillerymen, leaping back joyfully into Misery's hand.
Their hands slow for a moment as they reach for the core, continuing their movements from before they died under the pull of inertia.
A hammer falls from the sky, impacting lightly with the red wave.
Vina is knocked back into the building like a comet.
<Background 2>
Morgan No... Vina!
Half a second.
The altar activated faster than anyone expected.
Delphine *Cough*... *cough*...
The hammer embeds itself in the broken wall.
I can't see anything in the dust and smoke.
Morgan Watch out! They've replaced the artillerymen and are preparing to fire again!
The hammer is gone by the time I wipe the gravel from my eyes.
A figure climbs the outer wall swiftly, the hammer pulling her up like a pickaxe, the building trembling under every blow.
Siege Dagda!
Dagda grabs the hand that stretches out from within the light.
Brick and stone crack and break under Vina's heels. She leaps into the sky.
The red wave has begun to build.
Siege Everyone, take cover!
Delphine Get down, Morgan!
Morgan Hngh...
I look up in the storm.
She walks upon the rays of dawn, her golden hair burning.
She raises her hammer high, and it becomes one with the sun.
The wave is torn apart, rampant power streaking towards the core.
[Siege lands a hit on the altar.]
<Background black>
I lose my voice.
All that remains is the light that stabs at my eyes.
<Background light>
??? Vina! Vina!
??? The altars are still exploding! Look out!
??? She's fainted! Damn, the metal shards got into her chest! Someone help me out!
??? Bring her back! Don't let Originium dust into the wounds!
??? The Sarkaz are retreating!
??? Hannah! Look! Over there!
??? Battleships? Reinforcements? Really? Th-That's the standard of Duke Gododdin!
??? It's... it's over...
??? It's over! We bloody made it! We did!
??? Ben! Ben! Look, we're saved! Ben? Ben...
??? Those damnable devils are trying to run! After them!
<Background black>
I should add another entry to the scout's journal.
"We survived.
In memory of seven fallen heroes...
Abigail, of Norport, civilian. Alexandra, of Chetleigh, civilian.
Henderson, of Auchterigg, soldier. Bentley, of Lynncardine, soldier.
Unidentified body.
Unidentified body.
Unidentified... (illegible)"

After operation

Siege's forces are inspired by the victory. They discover an identification code belonging to the Exemplars and decide to take up the name. A viscount finds Delphine and tries to persuade her to join the Duke of Caster, but Delphine refuses.
<Background black>
No one can be told what a battlefield is. You have to see it for yourself.
Background-Glasgow Room.png
My friends and I spent a lot of time in Norport's video shop watching old movies, many of them war movies. There were story of heroes, but also stories of terror, depicted by directors with a sadistic streak.
I remembered that the four of us all had nightmares that night.
Even now, I seem to be drifting in a dream.
<Background 6>
Dagda We took on a few soldiers who were still breathing when we passed through that valley. Oh, and the survivors have caught up to our column.
Indra They're all Infected. As they should be, after spending a night in a corpse-filled crater.
Delphine You did disinfect properly, didn't you? You could have gotten Active Originium dust on you.
Where are we, Hannah?
I'm a little...
Horn Don't worry, I have experience with large-scale Active Originium zones from my time in County Hillock.
We undertook the cleanup according to SOP.
The soldiers were conscripts under the Duke of Ashworth. They said that their company simply pulled out after the battle, without rescuing the wounded or cleaning up the battlefield.
Horn? Is Hannah angry at me because I acted on my own?
Why is she ignoring me?
Horn He said he had a friend who had been crying for help by a shallow puddle all night. Couldn't turn himself over because his legs were injured.
He had drowned by the time we found him.
The puddle was ankle-deep. He would have survived if someone had just flipped him over.
Dagda I examined the area. Looks like they marched into a Royal Court trap. Some Sarkaz mercenaries must have sacrificed themselves by acting as bait.
There's something on my chest?
I can't breathe... Morgan... Morgan?
I feel something hot roiling in my chest.
Morgan But... how could they have gone down without a fight?
Delphine That's not surprising. Other than the strongest dukes, professional soldiers make up only a quarter of the armies of the other ducal armies, at best.
Most Victorian soldiers are conscripted, sent into battle after only a few months of basic training on how to use a crossbow or Arts Unit.
Frankly, if not for this war, the officers and soldiers may never have spoken to each other their entire lives.
Indra Vina wouldn't like to hear it.
Delphine I hate this. How could you trust your back to someone whom you don't trust?
Why does nobody hear me?
I feel the taste of iron in my mouth, something boiling, rushing up my throat.
Delphine Mother never answered my questions. She said I would find the answer, someday—
Siege *Cough*... argh!
[Siege wakes up.]
Morgan Vina!
Siege Take it easy, Morgan... my neck... I can't breathe...
Morgan Sorry, got excited. You had been unconscious for two days.
You were running a fever. At least the wound on your chest was healing well, otherwise we would have been even more worried.
Siege Where are we...? We aren't in Chetleigh anymore, are we?
They are silent. What happened?
Morgan Ahem... Maybe I should explain.
We pulled out two days ago. We're back to our original encampment.
At Horn's advice, we pulled out as quickly as possible before the Duke of Gododdin's fleet entered Chetleigh, avoiding direct contact with the reinforcements.
Siege ...Horn?
Horn We have a lot of... complicated circumstances. It's going to cause a lot of complications if we establish official communications with the dukes' troops.
I've talked about this with Misery, and the others support what we're doing.
While we still have troops formerly under the command of Duke Windermere, their military ID has expired, and there's a high risk of "friendly fire".
Well, not so much expired as no longer recognized...
Indra No need to mince words about the nobles' dirty deeds.
It's the same deal as gangs fighting for territory.
Indra's right.
Since when did the war become like this?
We could give help to where we can see, but what about the places beyond?
Siege ...What's the situation?
Delphine Some have chosen to join Duke Gododdin's forces and continue the fight. Gododdin's officers didn't even say anything about the Infected. The majority have chosen to stay with us, however.
Morgan They trust us. Or should I say, they trust you. We won! Morale is really high right now.
They're even joking about the old conflicts now.
Siege We did it.
Delphine Your plan worked. We made it. It's very possible that no one will ever know the sacrifices we made...
It's just one small victory in a greater war.
I look at Delphine's tired face. A great burden has weighed upon her heart ever since she was left behind by the battleships.
But now, I see a rare smile on her face.
Delphine But we saved Chetleigh, Vina.
Siege Yes, we did.
My brain tells me that I should be relieved or happy.
But I can't do it. I'm afraid to know how many stayed behind in that building, never to leave it.
Everything that happened there seems like a dream.
Is this what victory feels like? It's so weighty.
Siege Would things have gotten so bad if everyone was fully committed to fighting for Victoria from the very beginning?
No, they all firmly believe that they are fighting for Victoria.
It's the other way round. Things have already spiraled out of control. Therefore...
We're fighting for ourselves now.
Dagda Siege, one of the survivors from Chetleigh has brought us a surprise.
His family collected Gaulish artifacts, and his father once picked up a little Victorian object from Lingones's former route.
It wasn't anything valuable, so it has been sitting in a warehouse for a long time. He gave it to us before we left as a gift of gratitude, and Horn recognized it immediately.
Horn This is an IFF beacon used in IFVs. It emits a signal that allows Victorian armies to identify the bearer's affiliation.
Siege It contains a military identification code?
Horn Yes. This black box belonged to the Victorian Army. I'm familiar with the symbol on it.
But I thought that the unit that it once belonged to no longer exists, lost in the ruins of Gaul—
—the Exemplars.
A unit of legend, predecessor to Tempest Platoon. This thing took a long journey back to Victoria.
Back to us.
"The Exemplars"...
The present dukes may not recognize this ancient unit. At best, it might prevent direct artillery strikes.
But the more important thing is...
The mission of the unit was inscribed inside the box.
The Exemplars
"We make miracles."
Siege ...Hah.
Consider it a gift from fate.
[A beacon beeps.]
Delphine What's this...? The beacon that Lieutenant Shearer left us has picked up a signal.
Shearer Lady Delphine, there has been a change of circumstances at Irnclad Galavae...
We are approaching your position now. ETA in one hour.
Be prepared for unhappy news... and a guest who insists on seeing you.
<Background 7>
Shearer Your wounds! What a shoddy work of first aid!
It may look like the wounds have closed, but the inflammation wasn't effectively treated, which explains the fever.
With serious wounds like these, it's important that they're treated by a doctor and all vital signs monitored, reducing the chance of lingering after-effects.
You're fortunate that it was a piece of metal, not Originium crystal. When you're dealing with Sarkaz witchcraft devices, even the slightest touch could be infectious.
Even if it wasn't directly caused by Originium, there was a high risk of infection given the circumstances. It's incredible that your blood Originium levels still remain at normal levels.
You really should thank your lucky stars.
Siege Well, it was a chaotic situation, Lieutenant.
At least I'm alive. It pays to have a strong constitution.
Shearer ...*sigh*.
Fine. Lady Delphine has explained what happened.
It was a battle worthy of study in the war colleges, given the difference in strength between the two sides. Most of the people on your side weren't even regulars...
Siege Oh? Should I be sad that no one will remember what we did?
Shearer You're wrong on that, Siege.
I'll remember. The soldiers outside will remember. The survivors of Chetleigh will remember.
Most legends are not born from official records.
Siege I didn't know you were the type to say things like that.
Shearer Ahem.
Well, I've wrapped your wounds again. Don't try to blow me off with excuses like "strong constitution", because I'm going to be keeping a close eye on your condition. I'm the doctor in this room.
I'll be checking on your friends too, and the injured soldiers and civilians.
Siege Thanks, Lieutenant.
Shearer Also...
I suggest you check on that guest. I'm not sure if Lady Delphine is ready to handle her on her own.
I sincerely apologize for my behavior before, and my misplaced assessment about you.
There is one thing on which I won't budge, however. You're too impulsive and emotional.
You shouldn't be trying to solve every problem on your own. Turn around once in a while, and you'll find plenty of people ready to help.
[Shearer leaves.]
Siege ......
<Background fades out and in>
[Delphine is attending an exhausted noblewoman she knew.]
Exhausted Viscount *Glug* *glug*— whew!
Delphine Take it easy, Aunt Manning.
Exhausted Viscount The Sarkaz were everywhere on my way here! I thought I was going to die.
Thank goodness that Lieutenant Shearer was tracking Irnclad Galavae, which was how he got there in time to save my life.
He's a decent man, but lacks flexibility. Those men would never allow him to board the ship.
Delphine You said you escaped Irnclad Galavae? What's happening there?
Exhausted Viscount It makes me angry just thinking about it! Those damned officers charged into the central hub of the fortress and pointed their swords at me! Marquess Vontaire must be behind this!
I found an opportunity to change into inconspicuous clothes and escape. The fortress elevator almost ripped my dress!
Delphine Sounds like you really were lucky.
Exhausted Viscount I thought I was just coming along with your mother to see how things were going on the front lines, and to take you home. What's the worst that could happen, safe inside a nomadic fortress? Who would have thought...?
Delphine ......
The old Dukes of Windermere would be proud of Mother.
Exhausted Viscount You're right.
But you're the Duke of Windermere now, Delphine.
Delphine Auntie, you're hurting me... what's that look on your face?
Exhausted Viscount The general staff were eager to go back because... they believed the Duke's death was caused by a Leithanian plot.
You want to laugh, don't you? But they have evidence. Leithanien may not be in league with the Sarkaz, but they undoubtedly caused this situation.
Delphine What? Leithanien?
Exhausted Viscount The staff are cautious about accusing Leithanian nobles directly, but they have set their sights on the rebellions going on the provinces.
No one wants to come all this way to fight the Sarkaz, only to return and find the demesne they have defended for centuries has fallen under Leithanian control.
You're her daughter, Delphine. Your duty will come soon.
Now, let me rest... then we'll leave this place.
Delphine Leave? To where?
Exhausted Viscount You should not be with these peasants.
Delphine Watch your words! Don't call them peasants!
Exhausted Viscount Alright, Delphine, listen.
If you really care about them, really think that they're heroes, a part of Victoria...
...Think of how many people like them are there in your mother's demesne.
If you really want to protect these people, take my advice and seek aid from the Duke of Caster to return to your demesne and take charge.
Perhaps you will have to become a Caster vassal... but you'll be able to fulfill your duty.
Delphine I—
Exhausted Viscount What are you balking at? Did you fall in love with them just because they fought alongside you? You've stopped loving your own subjects?
Accept it, Delphine... you and your mother have suffered enough.
Accept Duke Caster's proposal, and at least Windermere will be spared from devastation.
Delphine ......
Exhausted Viscount Why do you hesitate? Do you really want to be a vagabond forever, leaving your family, your bloodline and your duty behind?
Delphine ...I understand.
I'm Mother's daughter. You're right, I have a responsibility, not just to my friends, but to the subjects of Windermere as well.
Why did the Swordguards leave me behind, when I still had such a duty?
If this was a duty glorious beyond all doubt, why do you come to me in such a condition?
Exhausted Viscount I...
Delphine You're right. If Windermere has fallen under the cloud of conspiracy, then I feel both the obligation and desire to do something about it.
But I...
Siege We're with you, Delphine. Say what you want to say.
Sorry. I couldn't hold back anymore.
Do you know what we just went through, madam?
Exhausted Viscount And you are...?
Delphine I'm not going with you.
Exhausted Viscount You have a duty!
Delphine I'm my mother's daughter, comrade to these warriors, and nothing else.
Even if I once was... I don't believe it anymore.
I stood here for them, so that their lives would no longer be the playthings of people like you, and I'm not going anywhere until I've bled my last.
I hope the Sarkaz don't take you.
The Viscount's face is a spectacle of color, but Delphine gives her no further chance to speak.
She leaves with her head bowed in the direction of Lieutenant Shearer.
Delphine's expression is calmer than I thought it would be. What she said... what she went through...
It made me think of an old friend.
Delphine did not make the same mistake. Tragedy will not strike again.
But what was the price?
The death of a loved one. A swift betrayal.
Apparently, I was rather concerned how Delphine would react to these things.
Delphine smiles at me. It seems she has settled down.
Delphine I'm fine. Let's go.
Once Glorious, Now Gone.png
The same thing cannot happen again.
<Background fades out and in>
Siege Head west once you leave the camp. If you're lucky enough, you should be able to reach the kind Duke of Caster.
Exhausted Viscount Do you think you can survive without the Duke's protection?
Siege We can, and we will.
Exhausted Viscount Alright... I'm going to Duke Caster. I'll take a leisurely pace. This is your last chance.
Come with me, and we'll all live.
Siege I won't stop you.
Exhausted Viscount But the work of Delphine and her mother...
No, I'm not the one who's wrong... you're naive, stupid, foolishly believing that you're right.
So be it.
[The viscountess leave.]
Siege ......
I see her off on a vehicle not meant for rough terrain, leaving under the cover of darkness with a small escort.
I turn around to look at our group.
Hundreds, thousands of eyes converge upon a single spot. Some are soldiers laughing with each other, others are civilians, celebrating.
The camp falls silent.
They are waiting for an answer.
Delphine You heard her. It was undoubtedly an attractive proposal for many people.
We survived the worst of times together, Vina.
But what now? What happens when the morale and spirit that burns so brightly now is worn away by hardship and suffering?
Who will tell them where to go?
I do not answer, not yet.
...He's here.
A creature with golden mane walks amongst the crowd. He looks at me.
I wanted to see the answer in his eyes, hear a word of advice in these fleeting moments.
But he gives no answers. All he does is look at me, waiting for me to find the answer.
Yes. Perhaps he is not even there.
[A wind blows.]
Siege Lend me your ears.
If any among you still have faith in the proud dukes that are the faces of our Victoria, you should go with that woman now.
No one would fault your decision.
The crowd rustles, but no one leaves.
Siege None among you?
Is it not our instinct to seek protection from the powerful? It's nothing to be ashamed of.
I would very much like to. Oh how I wish that this sorry sword I carry had the power to protect my friends, such that none among them would die.
She would very much like to. How many times has she cried when no one was watching? Wishing that someone could have saved her mother's life.
You would very much like to. Don't look away, I know you would. The Sarkaz wouldn't have butchered your brother so badly you couldn't even identify his corpse, if the troops that were supposed to escort you didn't flee.
But none among you have left.
You know that those nobles don't care about you in the slightest.
But do you really need to seek the strength and protection of another?
It's always been like that for us. We keep worshipping people and things that never really gave us anything, become their willing slaves.
Massacre, infection, besiegement. We survived all that, on our own strength!
We all want to go home. We all want this rotten war to end. But we can't win by hiding.
The fastest way is to give those warmongering bastards hiding in Londinium the old one-two in the face!
If the dukes won't do it, we will!
If no one will take us home, we'll walk home ourselves!
A gift fell into our laps, a unit ID that the dukes left behind in Gaul.
It was called the Exemplars. They were elites, the will of the nation, with a long list of accolades.
But now, they are nothing more than this little box in my hands.
It has no special powers. But we can take it back to Londinium—
Punch those warmongering bastards in the face, throw this in the faces of the dukes, and tell them—
This bloody land is OUR land!
<Background black>
I want to go home, to the gym where my friends were.
They want to go home, to the lives they once had.
We cannot rely on others anymore. We cannot expect justice to be served on its own.
I smash my hammer into the earth with all the strength I can muster.
I do not know why I did it. All I know is that I can no longer hold back my anger.
Return of the Exemplars 1.png
The hammer silences all other sounds.
"The Exemplars!"
It's the Glasgow Gang that first breaks the silence.
Return of the Exemplars 2.png
"The Exemplars!"
Then, they are joined by Delphine.
Return of the Exemplars 3.png
"The Exemplars!"
Until everyone joins in.
Return of the Exemplars 4.png
"The Exemplars!" "The Exemplars!" "The Exemplars!"
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Indra Say, I had a strange dream—
I dreamed that a golden beast was taking a walk through our camp.
Morgan Good omen, perhaps?
Let's hope it all goes smoothly.
Dagda Wonder if the Self-Salvation Corps arrived at Brentwood before us...
We'll have even more hands once we join up with them.
Who would have thought, a few days ago, that we would have our own army?
I kind of like the name the Exemplars.
Morgan Are you sure about this though, Vina? Are we bringing all of them back to Londinium?
Very few of them are ready to fight the Royal Court head-on.
Delphine Perhaps...
There will be more sacrifices along the way.
Siege ......
I'll protect them.
Or maybe there will come a day when they don't need anyone's protection anymore.