The Evening of Victory
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That night, we set up around the border of a town that was also the nearest post town.
All the camps were lent to the refugees, and the people were sleeping in the square where curtains were laid out. The houses that had already been temporarily acquired were also in the same state.
There was nothing outside of this town. There were just a flock of stumps where the trees were cut down and dry fallen trees left unattended. At the moment, we were gathering in such a place that wasn’t suitable for sleeping.
Three hundred and tens of people were left under the cloudy summer sky. However, it wasn’t cold.
There was a large bonfire like a campfire in the middle surrounded by everyone. The crackling and exploding firewood flames illuminated the surrounding red, and the radiated heat warmed people. And everyone had liquor. The ones with wounds on their legs were sitting on a fallen tree, but everyone else was standing.
“You guys did a great job today!!” (Yuri)
I held a cup in my hand, stood one step inward from the ring surrounding the bonfire, and said it out loud.
“Thanks to your bravery, the enemy ran away with their tail in between their legs without anything to gain! It’s our victory!” (Yuri)
When I have a delayed war cry, everyone chanted along at once, *Hoo!!*. There were screaming voices.
“Due to this situation, I couldn’t get enough alcohol to drink, but please drink today!” (Yuri)
When I said that…
“Well, I can at least do this much. I want to praise you as high as mountains, but I don’t have a good speech for your ears.” (Yuri)
At the end of that, laughter burst out from among the relaxed soldiers. It was Carol, who came out in place instead of me, who sat down in a chair.
Carol took a step forward. Her blonde hair was shining red due to the fire.
Just by that, the lively voice disappeared from the soldiers, and I felt that I could hear the sound. It became so quiet.
‘I have no feeling, but for those who were born, raised in feudal society, the existence of Carol, the princess, is still special. It is the same as the Shaalta people and the Kilghina people. What’s more, the princess, who should stay in the castle, is here now and is about to praise their courage.’
‘If you grow up, know politics, and have a family that you have to protect even if you put your loyalty aside, the feelings may change again. However, the young people here are still living in an innocent world.’
“First of all, I would like to thank you all. The lives of the people in this village now, and the lives of my people, are thanks to your work today. You have fought well.” (Carol)
Then, Carol closed her eyes, and turned down for a moment. The casual gesture looked dramatic.
“And unfortunately, I want to offer prayers to the souls of fourteen people scattered on the battlefield today.” (Carol)
Carol glanced at the side of the bonfire. There were fourteen cups of liquor poured on a small table.
These fourteen cups of liquor weren’t drunk today. They were cups dedicated to the dead.
Among the fourteen students, there were also two of the first 56 graduates.
‘I have to inform their relatives about their death.’
Then, Carol closed her eyes. I also looked down and closed my eyelids.
When I opened my eyes after a while, Carol was still offering a moment of silence. But then, she raised her head before long.
“Today, you saved all the innocent people and protected the princesses.” (Carol)
The princess was Carol, but it also included another one.
“Now, no one in this huge peninsula could sing your achievements. Because what you have done today is the honor of the Knight itself.” (Carol)
Carol took a breath for a moment.
“Be proud! You’re qualified for it! And…” (Carol)
She somewhat assumed importance, and continued.
“As a warrior, who had won battles, needs a rest for a while. Well then, for today’s victory and our deceased companions!” (Carol)
Carol lifted the cup she had in her hand. Everyone followed all at once.
When Carol said so, the voices of 300 people continued to overlap.
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The banquet was lively with excitement since the war had ended even though there were few drinks and dishes.
Every young man chatted with friends, who lined up spears, or listened to the story of someone who fought on the other side. They were talking lively. Even if there were only a few glasses of liquor per person, there were some, who had a red face. Perhaps, they were weak against liquor.
It was a good night.
I was sitting in a chair and looked at them from a bit distance away.
“What is it? Do you feel uncomfortable?” (Myaro)
Myaro, who came next to me, said it as I had decided to watch from the side. When I looked sideways lightly, she had taken off all the military uniforms, including the chainmail, and looked like a townsperson.
When doing so, she really looked like just a boy.
‘Am I rude? I can’t help it because she’s wearing men’s clothes.’
“No, I thought it was fun.” (Yuri)
I turned my gaze back to the bonfire again as I said that.
“It would be so. We’ve won after all.” (Myaro)
“However, some people aren’t here.” (Yuri)
Fourteen of them.
“Are you thinking about them?” (Myaro)
“If you start a war, there will always be casualties.” (Myaro)
Myaro said in a water-soaked voice, as if she sensed something.
“You’re right. It’s a matter of course.” (Yuri)
‘The death of a person in a war is a natural and inevitable result, as if running on a road surface that wears off the tires. There is a ratio of how many people are affected by the enemy, but as long as it is a war between people, the ratio won’t be zero. Wear and tear is expected from the beginning, and there is no war that casualties won’t appear.’
“Well, I’m just immersed in sentiment.” (Yuri)
“…The living also needs comfort.” (Myaro)
‘Did I seem to be criticizing the victory feast? Instead of celebrating the victory, I’m mourning the dead.’
“I know. The soldiers have worked hard, and they should enjoy the victory.” (Yuri)
‘It’s not that I don’t like this feast. I didn’t give permission because someone told me that we needed it. Rather, I told it to myself and it was devised in a way to get people excited.’
‘Celebration is necessary for victory. Otherwise, the soldiers, who gave their lives, wouldn’t feel rewarded, and even if we won, it didn’t feel worth fighting and it would create a funeral-like atmosphere.’
“This is about you, Yuri-kun.” (Myaro)
Myaro said to deny.
“You’ve worked hard. I think it’s fine to relax now.” (Myaro)
‘Is it about me?’
“Well, how?” (Yuri)
‘Those who died, didn’t die unless they fought. When I think about it, there is something to think about. However, if they weren’t fighting, the refugees, who are sleeping there, would have died. Perhaps, there will be a hundred or a thousand times more casualties.’
‘Still, the dead can’t be measured by numbers. Dead people had their own lives and their stories. As individuals, it was the result of my judgment that their lives ended. If there was one difference, there were dead people, who joined the circle here, drank alcohol, and enjoyed the day of victory. Nothing is definitely different from the people, who are enjoying the feast in front of me.’
‘And yet, I don’t regret my judgment. It was a strange feeling. If this was the job of Hou Household, if there was an accident that killed people, I would have regretted and blamed myself. I would also have taken measures to prevent a recurrence so that it wouldn’t happen again.’
‘However, even though someone died, I didn’t feel that. I have no regrets or remorse, and I think I did well.’
“How can I take responsibility?” (Yuri)
I said sloppily.
Myaro had a surprised look, telling me that she couldn’t understand the meaning.
“It was a disclaimer in the application requirements, so I don’t think you will be heled liable.” (Myaro)
“I don’t mean that.” (Yuri)
“Then, are you asking about… atonement?” (Myaro)
“Yes, that’s it.” (Yuri)
“When it comes to atonement, we can provide financial security to the household of the two deceased students. As I have already reported, both of them aren’t heir, so there’s no problem in the sense that the households have lost their successor.” (Myaro)
“I know that as well. I’ve already heard.” (Yuri)
“They, could it be the compensation for the dead…?” (Myaro)
‘Could it be that she didn’t consider that I was worried about it?’
“Well… yes.” (Yuri)
“That is… the deceased can’t talk about anything, so it’s difficult to offer anything since it doesn’t necessarily make them happy.” (Myaro)
There was no tone of ridicule in her voice. She seemed to be serious about it.
“There are various theories where the soul goes, and there is also a theory that the soul disappears the moment life disappears.” (Myaro)
‘The Shanti’s view of religion is more like a myth than a religion, and it doesn’t define the view of life and death exactly. There are various things about it. In the traditional belief, the soul sinks to the bottom of the sacred swamp and is reused in the form of reincarnation. However, now that they have left the sacred swamp for a long time, there is an idea where the soul goes to a place like the pure land of paradise. Speaking of the sacred swamp, it is a sacred place believed since the great empire time.’
“Even if I mourn in some way, I wonder if it’s complacency if I think that I can make up for it.” (Yuri)
‘Since the deceased don’t express their will, doing something on my own, and thinking that it has become atonement has nothing but the meaning of consoling myself. Still, I want to do something. So, I honor them, tell their family that they have fought bravely, and guarantee the life of the bereaved family. Carol prayed silently earlier and mourned the death in front of a large number of people, which may be part of that.’
‘In fact, it’s not worthless. If the soul after death has a will, it’s not a mistake to think that it will be comforted with a considerable probability. However, I don’t think I’ve done anything with that.’
“But, it’s not just the deceased that are difficult to atone for. Even if the Knight’s household, there are accidents where the bones break, and the limbs become incapacitated. No matter how much you atone for such a person, apology and money will not heal the limbs. Life is ruined and some students choose to die pessimistically. It’s sad to do something that is irrevocable to others, but it’s something that happens.” (Myaro)
“Well, indeed. There are also people who suffer serious wounds.” (Yuri)
‘There are countless people who have been slashed and injured by arrows. Although most of the treatment was over, there may be some who have their nerves sliced and their hands couldn’t move. Also, there is a condition that worsens due to tetanus or something similar, and dies. I can’t do anything for them.’
“Aah I see. Well, that’s not the case. I wanted to say that you don’t need to have any particular responsibility for that…” (Myaro)
“Is that so?” (Yuri)
‘I don’t feel responsible though. What Myaro is saying is justified.’
‘I think I’m just overwhelmed by the characteristics of the conduct of war. When you drink alcohol for the first time, it’s the same as being confused by the feeling of being drunk, and you get used to it eventually.’
‘I have such a feeling. But I don’t know if I will like it.’
“I… can’t do it.” (Myaro)
“I wish I could comfort the deceased better, and I’m also thinking that they are also enjoying drinking here.” (Myaro)
I involuntarily let out a breath.
‘What kind of consolation is this?’
“Unfortunately, I’m not good at that kind of thing. It’s better than before.” (Yuri)
“Besides, I’m not depressed. And again…” (Yuri)
‘Again… what? Aah yes.’
“Even if I have to fight again… I’ll do the same thing better if I can. So, don’t worry about it.” (Yuri)
“I understand. But please let me stay by your side.” (Myaro)
‘This girl is strange.’
“Do whatever you want.” (Yuri)
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