"Took them!?" I exclaimed in surprise. The word 'took' could be interpreted in so many ways, like, took their life? Took hostage of them? Which one?

"Let's go back first. They should be in the courtyard right now. We'll discuss the details with them over there."

"...Okay." I clenched my fists and mounted Timmy with general Zhang's help.

I knew that I've known them not for long, but for some reason, I couldn't help but feel a little worried about Jeanne and Owen... I couldn't care less about that damn senile old man, though. He could go missing in the sea for all I care.


We quickly returned to the courtyard, and found a crowd of gloomy-looking soldiers roaming about while being dirty and bloody. The atmosphere was heavy seeing that nobody had a smile on their face as far as I could see.

"Healers! Come quick, we need extra hands!"

"Oi, don't get in my way!"

"No! Abby! Don't die, please!"

Chaos ensued as they scrambled to save those that could still be saved, and mourn those who were long gone. Glows of various colors appeared here and there, indicating that the healers were hard at work. Some of the soldiers were busy organizing the supplies, and some others were grieving next to the lifeless bodies they managed to bring back.

"This... Are all raids always like this?" I felt like my breath was stuck in my throat as I saw the scene before me. It reminded me of the scene I often saw during my time in the frontline.

"No, not always. The aftermaths have always been gloomy, but not to this extent," general Zhang hopped off of Timmy's back, "come."

He extended his hand towards me, and I flinched a bit. For a second there, his hand looked like my colonel's hand that was about to drag me away for some beatings.

"What's wrong? Hurry up, little cub." He tilted his head to the side.

"Ah, nothing... Sorry, I must've zoned out for a bit there." I extended my arm and took his hand.

I shook my head to try and clear up my mind. C'mon, Chae, you knew that this wasn't Korea. And they weren't your army brigade, but the Vanguards. Wake up!

As I grabbed his hand, I noticed that his eyebrows twitched for a bit, but I brushed it off. I needed to concentrate on the real problem here. The failed raid and the missing generals.

"...Thanks." As soon as my feet touched the ground, I immediately started to walk towards the group of soldiers. We needed to hurry and evacuate, before the enemy attacks again--


"Huh?" I blinked.

General Zhang grabbed my shoulder, stopping me from going. He stood behind me and covered my eyes with his other palm.

"Calm down, little cub. Stabilize your breathing," he said to me, "focus on my voice."


"You're trembling and your breathing is uneven. Concentrate on your breathing and listen to me."

I nodded slowly and took a few deep, controlled breaths. Soon, I felt my shoulders loosen a bit as my breathing started to stabilize, and my tremblings stopped. It was easier to calm down because he covered my eyes, so my focus wouldn't be placed on the grim scene in front of me.

"...Right. I'm sorry." I grabbed his hand that was covering my eyes, and took it off. What was I thinking? Evacuate? Enemy attack? This wasn't the army brigade. Once again, Chae, this was the Vanguard. Get a grip.

General Zhang sighed and ruffled my hair, "you don't need to be scared, you're not going to die."

"I mean, technically, we're gonna die one way or another. You and I, too. Who said that I'm afraid of dying?" I snickered.

"Heh. Finally back to your feisty self," he slapped my back so hard I almost threw up, "but you won't die soon, not without my permission. I'll definitely keep you alive, because I'm strong~"

"I'm also strong. I don't need your protection." I frowned.

"Hey, Jean-jean! Mind telling us the situation?" General Zhang ignored me and called out to Jeanne, who was holding a handkerchief against her head in an attempt to stop her bleeding.

"Jeanne! Oh god, let me help you!" I ran towards her and hurriedly scanned her for wounds.

"General Zhang, Chaerin... The raid was a mess." She grimaced.

"Where are the healers?" I asked as I helped put pressure on her wound, "ah, your leg is messed up again!"

"I told them to prioritize the dying soldiers first..." She winced a bit at the pain.

"Oi, explain the situation." General Zhang asked again.

"I--I was careless, yet again. They took general Owen and general Enzo to their castle. I think they plan to use them as hostages." She explained.

"Tell me everything, in chronological order." He said as his gaze became sharper.

"Can you wait a bit? I'll go get the first-aid kit first!" I said as I rummaged through the half-empty supply bag.

We listened carefully to Jeanne's story as I patched her up the best I could, which was not much. She told us everything from the start of the raid, to their lantern strategy, and even about their secret card, Wolf.

"You guys brought Wolf, too!?" I exclaimed in surprise.

"Yes... I tried to prevent the worst from happening by lending them this bracelet, which can send me a signal with the press of a button, but.." She paused.


"But, I ended up being the one to press the button."

"What? How did that happen? How is Wolf right now? Where is he?" I asked repeatedly, worried about the little boy. After all, I knew too well how it sucked to be forced to go to war as a child.

"We were surrounded, and all four generals got separated from each other. General Owen managed to hold on for a while with general Enzo's help," she started explaining, "but, general Enzo soon got caught by the minotaurs..."

"That creepy bird was caught? I didn't expect that." General Zhang chimed in.

"He was chased by lots of minotaurs while he flew, it was impossible to not get caught," she answered, "after I saw general Enzo getting caught, I blew my whistle to alert general Emilio that we lost one general, and joined forces with general Owen."

"And then?" I patted her back slowly, trying to reassure her a bit.

"We were only able to last for a short while, until a minotaur grabbed my leg and threw me into a wall."

"Oh, the leg that hasn't fully recovered yet?" I looked at her swollen leg worriedly.

"Yes. I think I accidentally pressed my button when my wrist was slammed against the wall. After that, the minotaurs tried to take me away, but general Owen threw me to the side, and he was taken instead."

"That's weird. How did you and general Emilio make it back here after that?" General Zhang questioned sternly.

"They let us go."

"What do you mean?" I tilted my head, confused.

"The minotaurs let us go."

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