Ashes and Kingdoms v1 1-6

TL notes: I’m still debating between translating literally or just grasping the meaning. Whichever you prefer, let me know in the comments or email me. Anyways, it was the first time I had to look up euphemisms for a “certain” word in this story. See if you can spot it 😉

Volume 1, 1-6: Collapse

After that fierce night had passed, Fin’s sense of feeling had changed unnoticed.

He didn’t remember how he walked back to the barracks in the town at daybreak and didn’t even notice that figures of pitiful refugees who should’ve been on the roadside.

The dull numbness continued after having slept well and he felt nothing towards the town’s condition nor the soldiers’ corrupted behavior.

Even the time he went out to look for his lost sword by the castle walls, he merely thought “Aah when an obviously human bone tumbled out as he paused right before the bonfire pedestal.

The sword that was snatched away by the Beast casually tumbled out from the nearby bush. The instant he picked it up, he once again remembered the fear of that cold, dark hatred that pierced through the sword. But when he gripped the handle and nothing happened, he quietly held back his tears full of emotion.

On his way back to the barracks, he happened upon a scene that resembled his own a few days ago: a new refugee family were having their possessions taken away. However, Fin wasn’t even considering the thought of stopping them or at least saying a few comforting words. Such thoughts didn’t even appear in his mind for a second.

It’s not as if he wasn’t aware of Fianera’s words that “You must be thankful”. He didn’t approve of such acts of robbery and assault. It’s just that he began to lose his sense of reality.

To request compensation seems like a given privilege for these soldiers who are carrying such a heavy toil. If this was in the past and they were in the army corps, then they would’ve also received promotions, raises in salary, and honor from the empire. But now one can’t even wish for such. Of course, things such as salary and title, reputation and honor, or even just something to be proud about have no such charm anymore. There won’t be citizens who give praise and neither poets nor historians who will sing of one merits. There’s also no chance to engrave merits into stone monuments or buildings.

If that’s the case, then naturally, it is human beings that devour the petty gains before them.

In the minds of the soldiers — or should they simply be called warriors now — is only how many more days until their next shift. When that happens, thinking is pointless. If one is lucky enough to survive the night, then all there is to pass time is to count the days until the next time one has to keep watch.

Therefore, they desire the pleasure of time rather than valuables. To drink, eat, rage, and embrace women.

Fin didn’t join in the uproar but simply understood that he didn’t feel better looking at it. When he looked more closely, there weren’t many of the same kind of people and the soldiers were just silently training hard. Fin also memorized the way the men handled their swords and trained their footwork.

While he was still numb, one day and then another continued to pass. Finally a month had passed since he’d fallen into insensitivity towards the danger he’d experienced.

During that time, he was surviving multiple shifts as his looks were becoming closer to that of a “gravestone” and soldiers who used to call him “little chicken” were now properly calling him by his name. Yet, he still remembered his weakness from that day.

What made him remembered , was a single girl.

As Fin was walking to his own room in the hallway of the barracks, he heard a girl’s scream from one of the rooms along the way. However, he didn’t pay it any mind. It’s a common thing here. The voice was a bit loud as they probably forgot to close the door.

When Fin was close enough to clearly hear the voice, he sighed in relief and released the tension in his shoulders. It was just a flirtatious scream. If it was rape that had gone too far, then someone has to stop them to avoid causing trouble, but it didn’t seem like that was necessary this time.

Fin absentmindedly debated whether to shut the door for them as he passed or to leave it open when he continued to walk. Then the tone of the girl’s voice changed.

He guessed from the bits and pieces he heard that whatever they were doing ended and the girl was trying to leave quickly. When the two argued, it became awkward. For a moment, Fin stopped and blinked but reconsidered and continued to walk away as going back would be foolish.

It seemed that the owner of the room wanted to bind the girl. And she rejected it. “If you don’t like it, then leave, idiot. You’re annoying” — the sound of shoving and beating.

In that case, Fin quickened his pace before the girl left to avoid passing by her. However, the girl jumped out from the door the moment he approached it.

“Just because I went along with you for a bit, don’t get too carried away! The next time your perverted fetishes appear, I’m going to grind up that precious little sword of yours!”

The girl, baring her teeth like a beast as she yelled, was carrying something to her chest. As soon as she ran away, she bumped into Fin and raised her face in surprise.

“…!?”

In that moment, all of his emotions returned back to him. His eyes widened from the impact and his lips quivering in despair.

He recognized this girl, with disheveled hair that clung to a dirty face, when she looked at him. She was Nellis’ friend. The memory from half a year ago vividly came back to his mind.

It was the time he went to pay homage at the shrine. The weather was very sunny and comfortable. Nellis and the girl were separated from their family and  whispering secrets cheerfully. The two would sometimes peek a glance in his direction and giggle— That Nellis, she’s once again spreading unnecessary rumors….

A heavy lump fell from his chest. He forgot to breathe and merely stared pitifully at the girl who had completely changed before his eyes.

The girl also seemed to recognize Fin. At first, it was a hateful glare, but then her eyes widened as she was taken aback and she broke down crying right there— in the next moment, she had on a prostitute’s masochistic smile on her face.

“You also came here”

“Heh” She assessed Fin with a rude look.

“If you have any business with me, call me. Of course, I”ll be getting something in return”

“…………….”

Fin was going to say something but his mouth became dry and his tongue unmovable. When he aw she was hugging her bag filled with wheat to her chest, he was abruptly hit with a pain that would make anyone cry.

The instant Fin’s face became strained, the girl brandished her bag and swung of the side of his face with all her might. It was like she wanted to stop his expression from coming out.

“What! What kind of face is that! You got a problem!?”

The girl screamed in a shrill voice, hitting Fin two to three times.

“Aren’t you the same as me, you’re……Don’t look, DON’T LOOK! Don’t look at meee!!”

At the end, she was already crying. After that, she violently pushed Fin aside and ran away, without giving him any time to say anything.

As Fin was standing absentmindedly in the hallway, the still naked man called out to him from the room.

“What, do you know her?”

“…………..Yes, sir”

“Hmph”

The man said apathetically, and after approaching Fin barefoot, he slapped his face.

“That’s a pathetic thing you did. Don’t give me that depressed look”

This was the first time Fin heard ‘pathetic’ in the barracks and looked at him in surprise. Furthermore, he didn’t understand who was the ‘pathetic’ one.

The man gazed at Fin’s face which was struck with bewilderment and shock and his mouth bent into a smirk.

“You can’t forget the good ol’ days. You probably didn’t think you would’ve become such a miserable thing. Aaah, she probably won’t be coming back anymore…. and I liked her. And it’s all your fault, you skinny idiot”

He said such a one-sided argument for his own convenience, slapped Fin’s face once again, and returned back to his room, yawning. He probably wanted to go back to bed.

*Bang* He closed the door behind him and the hallway became dead silent.

Fin felt like he’d become a dead tree, standing still there for such a long time. But eventually, life returned back, starting from the tips of his toes; a strong determination came forcefully welling up from his gut.

(I have to get out of here)

He couldn’t afford to allow this kind of habit from continuing. If he remains here, he’ll become like the rest of the senior soldiers sooner or later: an empty shell that can only count the days until his next shift.

(At this rate, I won’t have a future)

Eventually Nanais will fall. Whether it’s from being unable to secure a supply of food or fuel, or from those protecting the walls falling into the dark depths of hell one by one, causing the town to be overrun by the Beasts of Darkness.

The citizens and former soldiers should all understand this fact. But everyone is pretending not to see this danger. Because it’s pointless thinking about it. Because there’s nothing to do but to be in despair. If one averts one’s eyes and only thinks of how to live each day, then someday help may come somewhere— even it it’s from Death’s kind hands.

But I’m different Fin became aware of himself. *Gulp* Fin held his breath and tightly grasped his fist. It’s fine. I still have strength. I still have a will.

(I can’t just wait for the situation to change. I will change it, with my own hands)

He didn’t know if the change will be good or bad, but he had to do something.

Though he couldn’t think of a way he could change it from the inside.

For example, even if he threatened or defeated Masod, or even recovered the former army corps’ old laws, the results wouldn’t last for a long time. It’s the same for the citizens. With their current situation of being invaded every night by the Darkness and robbers looking to pillage the boat carrying their food supply, it probably wouldn’t be long before everyone becomes desperate.

(Ah, that’s right. The food supply)

Even if it’s tiny area, couldn’t they cultivate a field and raise grain and fruits? If they do it within the walls…. If that plan works out smoothly, then hope will probably return. Then, then little by little, they could expand the farmland outside the walls.

(Now the question is: with whom can I consult this?)

The first person to appear in his mind is the one who he gets orders from and reports to every day. It’s a sad habit he got stuck to. For the first time in a while, he had on a sarcastic grin. Would Masod pay attention to such a discussion?

(That’s probably impossible. In that case, then there’s Lady Fianera left)

According to Mayor Atila who was a former army corps soldier, only the temple was in the outskirts of town after being removed to there. If he is planning on changing the thinking of many people, then consulting Fianera would be the best thing to do.

Alright. Fin nodded and ran through the hallway with a burst of energy, a nostalgic sensation from when he still had life in him. He ran with the purpose: to receive permission to go to the temple.

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