Marseill Castle, the Golden Chicken Inn.
It was normally a lodging for mercenaries, merchants, and occasionally penniless knights, but now it was exclusively occupied by our squad.
Until we left the castle, the inn was reserved for Martin’s squad members, which was quite a luxury indeed.
“Enjoy the feast starting today, prepared with food generously offered by the citizens of Marseill! And don’t go grabbing just any woman if you’re feeling lonely; beheading awaits those who get caught!”
I added the word ‘voluntarily,’ but I wondered if the citizens of Marseill really offered food to us, the occupying army, out of affection.
Clearly, they provided substantial amounts of money and food for free, which was more like protection money to prevent us from looting, including Pappenheim and the others.
‘Still, saying it like that feels like sprinkling ash on a well-set table.’
And if we didn’t accept it, the citizens and commoners of this city would tremble in fear of looting or worse, a combination of robbery, rape, and murder…
So, in a way, it was an exchange where both parties got what they needed.
Hearing my words, all the mercenaries in our squad raised their glasses high.
“To the victory of the Whitebeard Mercenary Group and to the day we all become filthy rich, cheers!”
They then drained their 1-pint (473ml) beer mugs in an instant.
“They drink so damn fast.”
They began to devour meat and gulp down beer like the possessed, or as if they were pigs themselves.
They always ate disgustingly well when given the chance, but now, with the label ‘free,’ it was total chaos.
Thinking about their previous performance in that damn valley, their clear ON/OFF nature seemed somewhat human.
“Bring more alcohol! Keep grilling the meat!”
“Wait, you fool. Ah, you pig. That’s why you’ve got such a belly.”
“You want to fight?”
“Come to the backyard, kid. I’ll show you today that even if we’re of the same rank, I’m a step above as a senior mercenary.”
And so, bickering among themselves, they started heading to the backyard.
I quickly approached and grasped their shoulders with both hands, infusing my aura into the grip.
“Milton, both of you from Salzburg, stop. Drinking and fighting in private is a breach of discipline. On such a good day, do you really want to eat well, drink well, sleep, and then wake up to be whipped tomorrow morning? Do you want to cure a hangover with a whipping? Is that to your taste?”
“Ah, damn it. My apologies, platoon leader.”
“Well, since it’s a good day, I’ll let it slide.”
With that, they sat down as if they had never fought, continued drinking, threw their arms around each other’s shoulders, laughed loudly, and boasted about their exaggerated acts of bravery.
Women dragged from the city kept bringing meat and alcohol to the mercenaries.
Occasionally, some with bad habits would stealthily grope the women’s breasts or buttocks…
“This girl, this is quite big and firm.”
It sounded like something a department head who enjoys sexual harassment at the office would say.
Personally, I found it distasteful, but the others seemed to find it amusing and chuckled.
“Ha, after drinking to your heart’s content, are you warming up your hands before going out for a bit of fun?”
“Idiot. If you carelessly touch the female mercenaries, you could have your wrist chopped off. But here, touching this much is overlooked. Not touching would mean missing out.”
“Well, that’s true. This guy knows something…”
Well, in a place where concepts like human rights and sexual harassment don’t exist, I couldn’t interfere.
However, if they committed rape or severe sexual harassment, for the sake of maintaining order in the city, they would have to be arrested and ‘executed.’
So, as I made my rounds among the different ten-man squads drinking, Baker asked me.
“I thought the platoon leader would be drinking cozily with Captain Karin of the ten-man squad. I see the platoon leader here, but Captain Karin is nowhere to be seen. Is there a problem?”
Karin and I hardly ever have a reason to fight, at least not yet.
Sometimes, if I get too fixated on a strange woman carelessly, or if I overdo it, she might pout the next day, saying, “That was too much.”
“Captain Hans Baekinde caused trouble, so Captain Dalton was called away. If it weren’t for Lucia, not just me but our entire squad could have been annihilated.”
“…Ah, so that’s why you were called for a trial related to that.”
Though one might wonder what a trial is doing in a mercenary group, we are a military force after all, and we maintain our discipline. Even if ‘someone crosses the line severely,’ we don’t just kill without witnesses or evidence.
If someone makes a grave mistake or commits a crime, they are imprisoned, and high-ranking officers like the chief and deputy chief of the mercenary group act as judges to mete out the punishment.
Of course, this process requires evidence and witnesses to testify about the situation.
Since the fight took place on a hill, Karin, who clearly saw the movements of Hans Baekinde and our squad, was also summoned as a witness.
Damn it, just thinking about it makes me even angrier.
That damn guy, by dawdling and not coming, almost sent us all to the afterlife or to Deus’s heaven.
To cool off my anger, I took a swig of alcohol and said,
“Because of that damned guy, we almost died. According to the archers and mages, he could have come but didn’t.”
“Ha, that’s unacceptable behavior among fellow mercenaries, especially since he’s a captain, right?”
“That’s why he’s going to die soon.”
A captain like Baekinde deliberately not sending support?
This is undoubtedly a death penalty case.
So, probably after gathering more evidence, the execution will happen in a few days.
“About Baekinde, I’m saying he’s going to die soon. That guy, he’s done too much. No, last time, he even called us, not even his own men, to set up his camp.”
“Ah, don’t even mention it. Also, last time…”
Baker and the others nearby continually spilled gossip about Hans.
Although not as egregious as failing to send reinforcements to me, there were numerous tales that cast doubt on his sense of responsibility.
They spoke of incidents like summoning our men, who weren’t even in his squad, for tasks, or skimming from our supplies when valuable items arrived…
I found myself listening to these aggravating stories amidst a party where we were supposed to be celebrating a victory.
Lucia approached, her steps unsteady and her speech slurred.
“Uhehe, platoon leader, platoon leader.”
Who had given Lucia alcohol? Or had she taken it upon herself to drink?
Surprised for a moment, Lucia casually sat on my lap as if it were her designated spot.
Lucia usually exhibited great caution when asking for head pats as praise, but the alcohol seemed to have emboldened her.
‘I don’t mind it, though.’
I refrained from pushing Lucia away and allowed her to remain seated on my lap.
The sensation of her buttocks against my thigh and the soft, adorable brush of her fox tail were simply too delightful.
“Hehe, platoon leader, you like it.”
Lucia’s fox ears perked up as though to say, ‘Aren’t you going to pat me?’
I stroked her as gently and kindly as I could manage.
Seeing this, several men simultaneously clutched their stomachs.
“Ah, platoon leader… My stomach hurts; I need to go to the restroom.”
The few oblivious men were swiftly escorted away by Baker.
“I promised these guys I’d introduce them to the ladies tonight. Oh dear, I need to hurry and find a pretty girl…”
Suddenly, the area around us cleared out, leaving only me and Lucia together. She behaved coquettishly, almost like a cat.
“Platoon leader, back in Pastek… I was so shocked and worried, thinking you were gone. That’s why I decided I needed stronger magic and dared to try intermediate spells…”
I had already been told this story the day after the battle.
But I hadn’t had the chance to congratulate or thank Lucia, as I was continuously pulled away for debriefings…
“Trying to use stronger magic than my limit, I kept failing. I was so anxious. But thinking of the platoon leader, I somehow persevered.”
Lucia pressed her body closer to mine.
If Karin smelled like fresh leaves in the forest, Lucia’s scent was akin to sweet grapes.
I could feel her tail, which was touching me, getting hotter.
It had been just warm before, but now it felt as hot as a feverish forehead.
‘I remember hearing that fox demi-humans get hot when they’re in heat…’
Lucia giggled softly.
“The desperation to save you made me an intermediate magician. That’s when I realized I can’t be without you, platoon leader… I will talk to Captain Karin.”
Her voice quivered.
“Please accept me.”
Hearing this, I cheered inwardly.
That’s because, although I had verbally obtained Karin’s permission for Lucia last time,
It seemed better for Lucia to speak directly to Karin than for me to announce I’m going to marry Lucia…
I thought it would be more acceptable to Karin.
Moreover, it’s much better to be in a relationship where the other person confesses their feelings than ‘confessing because it seems likely.’
I stroked Lucia’s head more affectionately.
“I don’t know if you’re aware, but I like you too, Lucia. I love you. But before talking with Karin…”
“You love me too, platoon leader? Really? Not that I didn’t expect it, but I was half in doubt. Captain Karin always seems so happy by your side. But now I’m so happy. You love me too; what should I do? I’m so happy, but as you said, we can’t until you talk to Captain Karin, right? That’s okay. Leave persuading the captain to me.”
Then Lucia smiled brightly and pressed her lips to mine.
“Since I’m going to be your woman too, and we like each other… we can do this much, right…?”
…Knowing Lucia’s personality, I’m sure she’ll be wildly hitting me tomorrow when she sobers up, enough to make a hole in the blanket.
Celebrating the successful conquest of Lucia, I decided to empty my pockets and give my subordinates a ‘bonus’ so they could enjoy themselves at a nice place.
Suddenly, the inn’s door swung open and Albert, our mercenary group’s administrative officer, appeared.
“Senior Platoon Leader Martin, Captain Dalton is looking for you,” he said. “He wants to discuss something regarding Captain Hans Baekinde.”
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