Might have been better to die in battle…
Oni 18 – A sea of corpses
I hadn’t expected the aftermath of the battle to be so bad. The basic work is over, and I’m dead tired. I guess it’s due to my status values and skills, but physically the fatigue is not too bad. However, my mental fatigue is staggering.
This is because the work that I am doing, is to verify the list of the war dead and to prepare compensation for the bereaved families. The 8th Army that I command, has a considerable number of casualties. More than half of those who died was because I forcibly set them up to attack the enemy army, turning them into a semi-suicide attack. Every time I look at the list of names, it seems like I can hear voices of their bitter resentment towards me.
Additionally, there’s the scenes of the bereaved families clinging to the recovered corpses. To them, I have to speak words of condolences that I don’t feel in my heart. I cannot put my heart into it. I don’t have the right to do so. I drove them to near certain death, so I have to be the cruel commander. By all rights, it should be unforgivable for me to immersed in sentimentality like this.
So that I won’t think about such things, I determinedly set about completing the work in the aftermath of the battle. The fort at the battlefield was destroyed by my owns hands, and because of that there was no longer any strategic value in occupying it. There’s no use in occupying what is now just a pile of rubble. However, the corpses of the casualties from both armies left behind after the battle and the goods and materials inside the fort had to be collected. If they’d been neglected then battlefield looters would have carried it all off. At the time when I had crushed the fort most of those goods and materials were rendered useless, but fortunately there were some stored items that avoided the collapse and were undamaged, so those could be collected.
What was worse than anything, was the retrieval of the corpses. The ones in charge of retrieving the corpses were naturally the survivors of the 8th Army and the recently hired personnel. Most of them were acquaintances with the deceased. There were many occasions when, upon discovering the corpse of an acquaintance, they would stop work and start crying aloud in grief.
Such scenes, were the result of my actions. I was almost lost for words. Nevertheless, I could not simply keep silent.
I heartlessly told the bawling laborers, “stop crying and get working”. Towards those who looked towards me in resentment, I glared back even stronger. Overpowered by that glare, they could only hide their faces in submission.
The members of the 8th Army, are a miss-mash group who never had any kind of relationship with me. From the very beginning, they never had any loyalty towards me at all. Then, after I drove them towards almost certain death and they lost many comrades in arms, that turned into hostility and fear. Into hatred at the irrational deaths. However, they couldn’t oppose me. They were keenly aware of that gloomy conclusion.
Currently, I am the evil general who rules his subordinates with dread. The mere concept of righteousness doesn’t even exist. However, this is the path that I chose. There is no way that I can turn back now.
With a heavy sigh, I get up from the chair in my private room. At this time today, there is a conference of the assembled commanders.
I leave my room, and head towards the conference room. Along the way, I unexpectedly happened to come across Merazofis-san.
We both exchange a short greeting. Merazofis-san is an attendant of Sophia-san. In addition to that, since I became an army commander, he helped me out with various things as the more senior army commander. He might be a calm person who doesn’t make idle talk, but his mood seems unusually heavy. Most likely he is in a depressed mood for similar reasons to me. His usually pale complexion, looks to be particularly pallid today.
Without pause, we both proceed to the conference room in silence. On opening the door to the conference room and entering, already seated there in a similarly heavy mood is Commander Darado. However, he looks to be markedly more physically fatigued than mentally fatigued. Unlike Merazofis-san and I, Commander Darado is a normal demon. His status values are likewise low. Most likely, on top of the fatigue built up during the war, the aftermath of the battle has piled on even more fatigue.
「Hrm. Merazofis-dono and Wrath-dono huh.」
His voice also lacks his normal vigor. It seems he is considerably fatigued.
「Thanks for all your efforts.」
I unconsciously said that.
「Hrm-m. I presume I look fatigued then?」
「Indeed, considerably so.」
There was no need to deceive him, so I spoke my honest impressions.
「I am very much ashamed. I was defeated during what should have been my chance to shine, my shame exposed during the aftermath. My confidence has been shattered from everything.」
Commander Darado makes a feeble smile. Then, with convenient timing, Commander Kogou enters the room. The giant commander, perhaps sensing the mood inside the room, takes a seat while making suspicious nervous actions. Commander Kogou looks unwell. I guess that he’s more or less exhausted from hard work.
I also take my own seat and wait for the conference to start. After waiting a short while, Shiro-san entered the room. It might just be my imagination, but when she entered the room it seemed like she looked at Commander Kogou. Shiro-san’s eyes are closed, so it’s hard to tell what she’s looking at though.
「Hiya. I guess you’re all here huh.」
While my eyes were caught by Shiro-san, Ariel-san had entered the room before I noticed. Not all the commanders are present, so probably the remainder are absent. Apart from that, Balto-san who is standing next to Ariel-san has a terrible looking expression. He looks so deathly pale that he might die at any time – is he going to be okay?
「Everyone, thanks for all your hard work dealing with the aftermath of the war. So, I feel bad for saying this when you’re so tired, but I still have much more work for you all okay. In preparation for the next battle, I want to hasten the reorganisation of the army.」
Nobody showed it on their faces, but I’m sure we all had the same thought: “Give us a break!”
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The comment at the end is a wry comment from the author. Probably.