It had been a few hours since Esdeath left, and Shirou had given up trying to break the ice shackles through force. They obviously weren't made of ordinary ice, and banging them on the bed posts was fruitless. However, at least Esdeath was considerate enough to increase the length of his shackles with more interlocking chain links before leaving. He could freely move off of the bed with a maximum distance of ten feet away from it now.

He shuddered.

Honestly, he didn't know if he would have been able to maintain a straight face if he had to be fed by someone while bound to the bed. In any case, what mattered now was that he could move to a limited extent, and that he wasn't alone in the room.

Setting down a silver tray of food, Liver, Esdeath's Chief Commander of her army spoke not a word. On the silver tray, was a steaming bowl of what looked like garnished porridge, baked potatoes, and a cup of poured water. It wasn't anything special, but compared to army rations, it was definitely a quality above the rest.

Liver, the man who carried in the tray, was dressed in a refined manner. He wore a neat suit and tie. Black dress pants were held around his waist by a bronze-buckled belt while the elegant mustache on his face was waxed up on the sides. His beard was clean-shaven, revealing a rugged jaw-line devoid of blemishes. The only thing off about the man was the air surrounding him, more specifically, his demeanor.

Liver's hunched shoulders and deep creases over his brow weren't in line with his 'dandy' appearance. Instead, they denoted hesitation, doubt, and uncertainty that otherwise, shouldn't have appeared on the man.

"Your majesty," Liver spoke up, snapping Shirou out of his thoughts. "If you require my assistance of any kind, please call. I have been instructed by the General to oversee your affairs."

Shirou raised his arms, the ice shackles over them ringing audibly.

"Of course, this is only in relation to anything aside from freeing you," Liver amended politely, hands clasping behind his back, his head bowing slightly. "I have my loyalties, and I am not a man who forgets debts of gratitude."

Shirou snorted, having expected the answer from the beginning. Then again, the situation was a surreal one. Akame and the rest likely believed that he was in mortal peril, but from the way he was being treated, it was the opposite.

By this point, he'd be a fool not to understand why Esdeath was treating him so gently, but Liver's case was different. This was the first time Shirou had met the man, and Liver did not dare bring his weapon into Esdeath's accommodations. Hence, Shirou couldn't even get a grasp of the man's history and thoughts. Be that as it may, body language and attitude spoke volumes all the same.

From Liver's tone, to his polite gestures and manner of speaking as if to a superior, the man obviously held him in high regard despite standing on opposing sides. There were even traces of guilt? Remorse? Regret? It was hard to say, but easy enough to feel.

"Then I will be waiting outside the tent," Liver said curtly before Shirou could arrange his findings.

Liver bowed elegantly, and turned around to leave in a single stroke.

"Wait," Shirou called out.

"Yes?" Liver paused, not turning around to face Shirou despite his shoulders perking up.

"I have a question."

"Go ahead then. Depending on what it is, this old man may be willing to answer."

Shirou opened and closed his mouth, trying to find a means to keep Liver around. The lingering white light still over Liver's head meant that he was likely the most trustworthy or dependable person Shirou had a chance in persuading in Esdeath's entire camp.

Shirou's eyes darted back and forth, searching across the room for anything he could use as a topic of divergence. Finally, his gaze settled on Caliburn left propped at the foot of his bed.

"My sword, why is it here?" Shirou finally settled on asking.

It was a mystery in of itself that it wasn't taken away from him, but who was Shirou to know how renowned he made Caliburn in battle?

Caliburn was now too recognizable. Anyone in the battle of Kalance plains would be able to notice it, and relate it to its wielder.

As it stood right now, no one knew that Esdeath had managed to snag the upstart Emperor before a fight of succession could even begin. Should Honest catch wind of this development, he'd be demanding Shirou's death to the point of doing it himself if need be.

The sword being left without its wielder in Esdeath's camp would have set off all kinds of signs and speculations. In which case, where was the safest place to keep it secured if not Esdeath's personal tent? It just also happened that Shirou was also being kept there, hence the two being in the same location.

If Shirou had asked Esdeath, she'd likely respond with 'it was convenient' due to her own self confidence. However, as Liver and others in the know saw it, it was for another reason entirely.

"No one could touch the blade. The Teigu repelled all who held its handle or touched it. Only General Esdeath was able to transport it here by encasing it in ice," Liver explained cordially. Left unsaid, but he himself had tried to hold the sword to marvel and inspect its craftsmanship and beauty. However, the sting in his palms let him recall the outcome distinctly. "Most Teigu aren't that aggressive. Even if a Teigu dislikes the wielder holding it, at most, it would refuse to obey the wielder's command, not prevent them from even drawing the sword."

Shirou shook his head at the words, already picturing the scene. "Those who are unworthy, cannot wield that blade."

"I'll keep that in mind," Liver said curtly finally turning around to glance in Shirou's direction. "Is there anything else?"

The corners of Shirou's brow twitched. Subtilty and subterfuge was never his strong point, let alone how to sway someone who seemed intent on minimizing contact. At the very least, he had to keep Liver talking and get a grasp of the man's character, or somehow garner his interest.

"There's a story behind it, you know," Shirou drawled, pulling at straws. "A legacy in its meaning."

Liver paused, briefly staring at Caliburn while maintaining a taciturn disposition.

"Is that so…" Liver mused disinterestedly, however; he didn't leave the tent to wait outside like he'd said prior. Rather, he idled, feigning ignorance.

Somehow, someway, Liver really did have an interest in this subject. Different from him and Shirou though, was context.

To Shirou, Caliburn was the sword of King Arthur, but the Liver, it was the sword of the First Emperor.

Yet all the same, it was a Sword of Selection- of worthy kings and a hero to quell the violence raging across the land.

"He who so draw'eth this sword, is the true King of the land," Shirou iterated the beginning of the legend slowly, the words sending shivers down Liver's spine.

Looking directly into Liver's eyes, Shirou saw what could only be described as the longing of a dream and weary forlornness.

"Would you care to listen?"

/-/

By the time Liver resumed his position outside of Esdeath's personal tent, Liver seemed to have aged several years. Liver was already an old man to start with, but with slumped shoulders, a tired sigh, and unsteady steps, he almost seemed frail despite being a military man.

Well, it wasn't as if Shirou could really help or expected Liver to share whatever mental demons ailed him, but at least there had been some effect in their interaction.

Putting aside the metal tray of food he'd eaten to satiate his hunger, now was the time to devise a plan of escape.

To start with, after what he'd pulled off recently in the battle of Kalance plains, he was effectively out of magic energy, rendering him on the level of an above average human. He still possessed his reflexes, instinct, and discerning eye in battle, but it wasn't worth much as it was now. Just because he could see or infer something doesn't mean he'd be able to react to it if his body couldn't sync in with his thoughts. If a fight broke out, he may be able to slip his way through and manage, but against a Teigu user? It was going to be difficult, let alone the fact that Liver was only one of three of Esdeath's trusted army generals.

Think. There's no such way his current situation was hopeless. Just the fact that he wasn't killed was enough of an opportunity to do something.

The problem was, even if he did do something, he had no confidence in contending against Esdeath, the Empire's strongest General, without his magecraft to even the playing field. He'd seen the way she used her ice to freeze and form objects without any strain whatsoever. It was on a level akin to a First-Rate Magus's mystery. No. In fact it was likely more similar to the level of a high-rank Noble Phantasm. He'd only really be able to get a gauge of her capabilities after seeing it for himself. As of right now, he was basing everything off of reports written by Elaine, and personal accounts from Najenda.

In any case, all evidence points towards an exceedingly high combat ability.

What did he have at present to compare?

Magecraft. This was the one deciding variable, and he needed a way to replenish his reserves. If all else failed, and if Esdeath's intentions truly were genuine then…tantric ritual? It was perhaps the easiest, and most simple means to acquire more energy. It only helped that Esdeath's Teigu appeared to be one that molded to the user, and if anything in this world contained magic energy other than Danger Beasts, it was Teigu.

Was he actually considering this? As an option, and from a magus's standpoint, certainly, but as a first choice? He was far from it.

To begin with, the difficulty of performing a successful tantric ritual depended on the participants to account for each other's levels of arousal to a perfect culmination point and subsequent exchange. Then there was need for a competent magus to direct the flow of magic energy, a complex procedure.

Esdeath was no magus, and Shirou himself was nether a First-Rate Magus, or had confidence in accounting for the type of rhythm Esdeath would take. There was also the risk of getting lost in the throws of carnal desire.

The difficulty was imaginable.

Success of a tantric ritual would be minimal, but it was still worth trying if he could pull it off with no other alternatives. However, to bank everything on its success was a fool's gambit. Besides, if he committed to this method and actually sired children, there was no way he wouldn't take responsibility which would complicate things should he and Esdeath become enemies.

Searching around Esdeath's tent, his range was limited to a few feet around him, curtesy of the ice shackles around his limbs. This didn't mean he'd give up though. He kept searching and looking for anything that could be of use until his efforts eventually proved fruitful.

It was hard to see from the angle of the bed, but on the distant side of the tent, there was a mounted trophy head of what he realized was a Danger Beast. He could just barely manage to glimpse it by straining against the bounds of the shackles binding him, but the trophy head was definitely there.

If he could just touch it, he would have something to work with.

It wasn't going to be much, but it would certainly be better than nothing. At the very least, he may be able to play his cards right and get some sort of signal out to Akame and the others without compromising himself.

Now, how to get it?

Frowning, he considered calling for Liver, but he had no excuse for why he'd want it, or how to explain its disappearance once the energy was extracted.

He had to do this on his own somehow, and without making too much noise.

Pacing back and forth, he found his gaze wandering towards the bed where several sheets and cushions lined the soft mattress. Regardless of their effectiveness or not, they were the only things within reach of his hands. Well, that and the metal platter Liver had used to transport his food- hmm.

Shirou picked up the metal platter and took note of the extended side holds. If he tied a blanket around the grips, and tossed the platter beneath the trophy head, perhaps he could reel it towards him if he could knock down the trophy with something?

His eyes shifted to the empty bowl which had been part of the food tray.

Archery was second nature to him, having never missed a serious shot in his life, albeit, this instance he wouldn't be using a bow. Then again, his sense of accuracy and precision in range combat was more than just adept. It was on a Master level. He'd developed the 'Mind's Eye' skill, and to a minor extent clairvoyance in combat.

He weighed his chances of success, and decided to go with it.

Without wasting time, he tied one end of the bed sheet to the platter, then tossed it beneath the trophy head.

A muted clang resounded, as Shirou had wrapped pillow sheets over the platter to muffle the sound of impact. Nonetheless, he tensed thereafter, staring towards the entrance where Liver said he'd be waiting.

Seconds passed, then a few minutes, but Liver didn't come in to check, too occupied with his own thoughts.

Grabbing the empty bowl in his right hand, Shirou took the time to aim before tossing the bow with considerable power. A light throw wouldn't be able to knock down the trophy head at all, but the trade off was an even louder bang as the trophy fell atop the platter.

Shirou winced, looking again towards the entrance, but this time genuinely dumbfounded that Liver didn't take so much as a peek. He scratched at the back of his head, but he wouldn't kick a gift horse in the mouth. Reeling in the platter by the tied bedsheet, he first cleaned everything up to make sure nothing seemed out of place before focusing on the matter at hand.

His hand quickly grasped over the Danger Beast trophy head and immediately reduced it into dust, thin wisps of magic energy seeping through his skin.

Energy. Acquired.


By evening, Esdeath returned after completing whatever matters she needed to sort out. Just by guessing, it likely had something to do with the obscurity of her camp, or submitting reports that omitted Shirou's capture. Either way, the location of her camp verses the location of the Empire's camp was separate, making it close to impossible for Elaine or Chouri to discern where Shirou was being kept if he was even still alive.

Esdeath's features were rather cold and muted as she walked into her private tent, but almost like thawing ice, her face began to brighten once she was inside. A hand went to smoothen the creases on her attire, while another furtively moved to fix the ends of her hair tousled by the wind outside. If not for the fact that this was battlefield, she may have even gone for a shower if she were able.

"I have returned," she announced shyly, callously tossing away some trinket of war she'd obtained from the battlefield in favour of making herself appear prettier. She took off her hat, kicked off her boots, unbuttoned the outer garment of her military attire, and brazenly discarded it, revealing the crest of her Teigu over her bosom. The outer garment slipped down her shoulders and rustled into a pile around her ankles. It was followed by a combat skirt, white stockings, and then garter belt straps. The only thing left she was wearing was a partially opened white dress shirt with long coat tails that obscured her panties.

The boldness of this woman surpassed that of many others, to the point that it was more accurate to say that she didn't care if Shirou saw her or not. Anyone else would likely not receive such treatment, and this could be seen as a privilege.

Yet, her inexperience was showing.

As much as Esdeath tried to brush off the blush making its way over her face at her actions, the fact that she was affected by Shirou's presence, revealed authenticity to her claim that she was really trying to move him and capture his heart.

This really must have been her first time trying to find love, and true love is a difficult emotion to obtain, but something that everyone seeks no matter how cold-hearted or ideological they are.

Shirou who was seated on the bed, back fortunately facing Esdeath after he'd hurriedly turned his gaze away when he noticed her undressing. A tinge of red was on his cheeks, curtesy of the hormones running through his body, but for the sake of not getting his lower end to react, he thought of swords and purpose. Now wasn't the time to lose himself to his body's natural desires.

"Esdeath," he called evenly, making the tone of his voice as emotionless as possible.

If Esdeath noticed the change in his demeanor, she was more intrigued than put off. Naturally, having rested for the whole day, it was normal to assume that Shirou's condition had recovered enough to have some confidence in his strength. From what she'd seen of his capabilities, her confidence in him was highly elevated. She even surmised that he didn't break out of his ice shackles not because he was too weak to break them at present, but that he was willing to give her a chance at a relationship.

She couldn't mess this up.

Her heart palpitated in her chest in a way that not even her toughest opponents on the battlefield to date have been able to achieve.

Esdeath swallowed nervously, but filled with growing anticipation and advise from a few female military officers she'd called over during her 'busy' schedule for love advise, she'd been informed to take the initiative.

Wordlessly, she approached on bare feet, the fabric of the bed sheets molding to the shape of her knees as she climbed over the bedframe, and transferred her weight onto them.

Till now, Shirou had yet to even turn his back to face her, the moonlight filtering in through the tent's ventilation flaps revealing her breasts nearly spilling out of her unbuttoned dress shirt. Her breaths felt like they were coming out erratically, her mouth biting down on her lower lip. Finally, she reached him and hugged her arms around his shoulders, yet still he remained utterly still like a statue. Other than the red crawling up his neck, there was hardly much of a reaction.

W-Was she not attractive?

For a second, she even began to doubt her own beauty, and pouted.

No. She refused to believe it.

Meanwhile…

Our father- Hail Mary- Oh Buddha- Alla – Give me strength!

Shirou felt blood rushing violently to his ears at the sensation of Esdeath pressing herself up to him, the only fabric separating her skin from him, feeling thinner than ordinary silk. It was horridly difficult to keep his composure given the hormonal state of his body, but he had no choice.

The path to a better future was something he couldn't give up. He knew what he had to do on this road, and succumbing to the temptation before him may very well guarantee a good life, but what about everyone else he could have saved from a crumbling Empire?

Steel your heart.

He knew what had to be done, knew about the people depending on him.

By this point, he had a vague idea of how to handle the woman who'd genuinely expressed her love for him. Better yet, he even had some magic energy at his disposal.

Esdeath's ideology was survival and the rule of the strong…then by her own logic, there was a method to make use of her if she couldn't be convinced by conventional means: Somehow, he had to wrestle control of the dominant position. He had to both sway her thoughts, and overpower her in combat.

This was a type he'd dealt with before in his time as a mercenary and Enforcer: Battle maniacs.

The task itself was easier said than done; the last requirement practically impossible given his current position, but the first may be doable. Hell, it would be a start until he could escape, and come at her with a full reserve of energy. This was going to be an uphill battle. Right now, he needed to make his position clear and embed the concept into her head. The only and simplest way to do that was by soundly defeating her, but like stated before, it wasn't going to happen at present.

Therefore, what could he do with the magic energy he'd acquired?

In war and combat, strength wasn't everything. He'd learned that from Rin and his own experiences in a Holy Grail War.

Put off by the level of Shirou's self-control, Esdeath tried to straddle him over the bed, but he wasn't one to allow himself to be pushed around in this ambiguous situation. Especially, now that he's chosen a method to act.

"Stop," he said sternly without turning around.

"No," Esdeath immediately refused, coyly wetting her lips, legs shifting to place herself in front of Shirou, hands trying to push him to lie down.

"Stop. I mean it," Suddenly, Shirou's voice grew several octaves lower, growing sharp, biting even. The intensity of his eyes that finally met Esdeath's own, reminding Esdeath of the leering Danger Beasts of her childhood. One wrong move, and she could be torn apart, the impression uncanny.

The hairs on the back of her neck raised, her pupils dilating.

How cute. She tried to laugh the situation off, this moment of rebellion against her, but found that she couldn't.

In fact, she inexplicably found herself subdued. Her body refused to budge; her face unable to break eye contact.

Why couldn't she move? H-Had she actually been intimidated?

Unbeknownst to her, a Black Key had stabbed into her shadow before fading away just as quickly, lest it be noticed when she did a quick sweep of the area with her eyes.

Nothing. There was nothing to be seen aside from the intensity of Shirou's gaze on her.

Her heart beat rapidly in her chest, cheeks flushing from the welling of excitement and a tinge of predatory arousal. As expected of her man. His primal side was just as stimulating as she knew it would be!

Of course, she wasn't one to accept a loss, or admit that she'd been taken aback.

"I think you're forgetting," her tone dropped just as sharply, challengingly as Shirou's did. Her hands grasped at his shoulders, head dropping seductively low. "I am the one in control."

She moved in, trying to straddle him again in a dominant position, but was stunned when she was flipped over, the positions reversed, Shirou's arms on either side of her face. Her hands bound above her head by his own.

"Know your place," Shirou harshly admonished, features growing colder and colder, confidence abounding his features.

It was the first time anyone ever dared treat her in such a manner.

Was she being scolded? The sharpness in Shirou's features, the heat of his glare, the sneer working its way over his lips-

It was…kind of hot actually.

A shudder traveled down her back, her toes curling over the sheets as heat gathered down her naval, until a competitive edge bled through. Suddenly, frost began to waft off of her wrists in an attempt to force Shirou to let go. However, nothing happened.

"Eh?" Esdeath exclaimed in a stupor.

"Not working, is it?" Shirou said icily, the shackles over his arms and legs seemingly phasing through him.

Further scrutiny would reveal that Esdeath couldn't feel the heat or tactile sensation of Shirou's touch any longer either. It was like, he was no longer in the same plane of existence.

In hindsight, this was indeed the case. With the amount of energy Shirou had obtained from the Danger Beast trophy head, he could hardly Trace anything truly substantial. He had enough to put Caliburn to use, but Caliburn wasn't the solution for his predicament. It was the sheath that Shirou was most familiar with, and the Noble Phantasm that was practically second nature to use.

Avalon of the Ever-Distant Utopia.

It was a Noble Phantasm that protected its wielder by directly phasing the user into Avalon. No attacks could harm him, nor could anything affect him unless he willed it to.

"What is this?" Esdeath sat up into a guarded position.

"Do you think that someone of my strength could be so easily captured?" Shirou posed a question instead of answering. He wouldn't be able to maintain Avalon for long, but he'd effectively managed to obtain the momentum. "I could leave here at any time that I wished. Nothing would be able to harm or impede me. You even went as far as to leave my sword next to me. Were you that confident that you were stronger than me?"

"…" Esdeath wasn't saying anything, but only she knew that she was swallowing because of how alluring Shirou's present demeanor was for her. She'd barely registered his words. It was the demeanor of a fellow predator. The air of the strong.

Her tongue wet her lips; her features forcibly chilling into a dull and threatening monotone. Excited or not, she'd never stand for anyone trying to challenge her position, and this applied to even her lover.

She opened her mouth in rebuttal, her muscles tensing for an intense session of discipline, but once more, Shirou refused to let go of his momentum.

"Think about it. With my strength, how could I be so easily captured?" he reiterated.

"Exhaustion. No warrior or fighter can avoid it forever, let alone a Teigu user."

"Is that a fact?" Shirou leaned his face closer to Esdeath's own.

"It's a certainty," Esdeath challenged.

"And what if you're wrong?"

"I'm not."

"Then you've already failed and disappointed me." Shirou suddenly pulled back, snorting in displeasure.

"W-What?" The sudden shift in behaviour caused butterflies to flutter in Esdeath's stomach. Her hands went to grab the collar of Shirou's shirt, but couldn't make contact at all. The wave of ice she subsequently released to freeze the area around her, met with identical results.

"I told you that capturing me wasn't so easy. So, how is it that you succeeded?"

"You were unconscious and exhausted. You didn't even put up a resistance."

"Then how about when I woke up? Well? Why am I still here even now, if I could have just left?"

Esdeath paused and actually considered it, her mind gravitating into the field of her own fantasies. "M-My feelings got through?"

"Are you qualified?"

A light seemed to flicker brightly above Esdeath's head.

"Qualified- A test?" Esdeath played with the realization.

Whether Shirou considered Esdeath's understanding to be the truth or not, he knew what needed to be said from here to convince someone like her.

"Would the strong ever submit to the weak?"

"Never," the answer was immediate, and so too was the astonishment. "Y-You think I'm weak?"

"Have you shown me otherwise? How you proved your strength to me at all, other than take the opportunity to kidnap me in a state of 'exhaustion,' as you put it?"

There was no response to that. It was the truth. "I, I- That's…reasonable actually."

Shirou had taken on an army and annihilated it practically on his own. Esdeath knew herself capable, but she'd never tried or showed herself going up against an entire army alone. The concentration and energy expenditure on her and her Teigu in such a case would be considerable. However, the point of the matter, was that she had nothing to show Shirou to convince him of her power and right to be his lover through the law of strength.

Then the reason he was waiting here, the chance he was giving her by staying after her confession, he wanted to see if she was qualified?

Even she could agree on this. It was practically in line with the ways of the Partas clan. Members would wed themselves only after proving their ability to stand on equal footing with their partner in hopes of creating stronger offspring. Ah, it suddenly all made sense.

"You took on an army. I can do the same," Esdeath grew serious, drawing the frost surrounding the area back into her body. "W-Will you give me a chance to prove myself, then?"

Perfect. Shirou had no complaints. This arrangement would buy him much needed time while simultaneously eliminating Esdeath's presence from camp. It was no easy feat, or quick victory to take on an army alone.

Rather than agreeing explicitly, the fact that Esdeath managed to somehow touch Shirou again, was more reassuring to her than any words he could have said. Without warning, she clung to him, embracing him and pulling him down to lie atop her bed with her practically glued beside him.

"Release me," Shirou said stiffly.

"Nope. Now you're just playing hard to get." Esdeath smiled at him in relief, nuzzling her cheek against her own before settling on resting her chin over his head, limbs reaching over his body like a hug-pillow. She preened. "Clearly, I deserve this much as you're letting me touch you."

No. It's because he ran out of energy to maintain Avalon's effects…

Obviously, he would never say this though.

For the sake of keeping the charade, he could only affirm her speculation and reciprocate her gesture. He hugged her back, feeling her moment of surprise when she tensed, only to slowly melt into his embrace in a breath's time. The supple feeling of her skin through her clothes possessed a kind of spellbinding allure, made worse by the subtle fragrance of her scent, a winter snow.

Admittedly, the feeling was quite soothing.

"I'll hold myself back now, but I will make you mine yet," Esdeath mumbled in earnest, her voice a husky whisper by his ear, lips so close he could almost feel them. "Just you wait for me."

She pulled back and grinned at him as she got comfortable and let herself drift into slumber. Her features smoothened, her mouth parting slightly, peach coloured lips illuminated by thin strands of moonlight.

Looking at her now without any notion of the type of person she was, or the things she'd done in the name of a Darwinic ideology, all that was left was someone striving their hardest for their way of life as they knew it. One's childhood and past shapes everyone into becoming what they are as adults. In the same vein, one's sins and actions may not truly define one's character, or be the crux that denies the concept of change.

A Knight of Betrayal had her reasons.

A Caster shrouded in the madness of grief, could still gain clarity in the glow of radiant light.

Suddenly, a complex feeling arose from within Shirou's chest. No matter how he tried to justify it, he couldn't deny the sincerity Esdeath was showing. Feeling Esdeath hug him tighter, searching for warmth, he noticed her heart soon beating in sync with his own.

Even monsters can look innocent in their sleep.

Even monsters had hearts.

He sighed with mixed feelings at what he was doing.


The next morning began with a commotion.

"We're attacking the Revolutionaries?"

"No, I will be the one attacking," Esdeath strutted out to the front of her army with confidence and determination abounding her. "You and the others need only route the stragglers and deserters, and will only join battle should I deem it fit."

Nyau, Daidara, and the others nodded in acceptance, while Esdeath turned to face Liver specifically.

"Liver," she called. "I'll trust you in charge of camp, and attending to the needs of my darling."

"By your orders, General." Liver responded frankly; arms clasped in salute.

"Good," Esdeath nodded before addressing Nyau, Daidara, and the rest of her advanced troop.

"This battle means a lot to me." She pulled down the rim of her army cap, obscuring the blush colouring her fair complexion. No doubt, the sight would weaken her image, but the anticipation of success and its subsequent ramifications were already causing her blood to pump vigorously. She coughed, reasserting herself with an air of utter seriousness. "There will be no room for failure."

"For the General! For the Empire!"

Good, Esdeath nodded before gesturing with an arm.

"Move out!"


Thanks for reading, and I know it's a bit early, but Happy New Year to everyone!

Next update: Beyond the Gate

P a treon. com (slash) Parcasious

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The Lonely Peak

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