Chapter 4: Pensive
A loud clang shook the train car.
Erina sat on a small table, gazing emptily out a foggy window, almost like she never left her room. So many thoughts ran through her mind. Every mistake, every argument with Heku; Even if she closed her eyes, a faint burn of Heku's face shone from beneath her eyelids.
"Just get out of my head!" She mumbled weakly.
"Mmm?" Kalech grumbled lazily, slowly waking up from a nap.
He sat in front of Erina, seemingly content amongst the chattering men in crimson-red uniforms. The two seemed like the only ones silent within the train car. Everyone else either chanted a prayer of safety, guzzling down their "last" drink, or telling humorous stories to rid themselves of the unshakable fear of death.
Because, as it were, death was a routine, yet painful experience. Countless young men died within the war, all of their macabre ways of death searing into the malleable minds of the soldiers. Those alive appear all too paralyzed to even function; All they can do now is just fire rounds of ammunition with a blank look on their faces, almost begging for a swift passing, bargaining with the devil for a spot in Hell.
"Hey, Erina," Kalech spoke gently, acting like a compassionate parent. He saw through Erina's gloomy façade, knowing that she fell under a spell of innumerable grief. To her, Heku had died. He felt a surge of bitter bile rise up his stomach, knowing well that Erina's pain echoed his own reaction towards losing a loved one. "A-anything on your mind?"
"Just thinking." She soullessly replied.
She looked angrily at Kalech. She sighed in resignation, "I just don't know anymore. I fell that I just..."
"Don't know what to do." Kalech added. "Yes, I know how such a feeling of uselessness feels."
Erina began to smile slightly. At least she knew someone that felt the same pain of isolation and a loss to someone she holds dearly to. She sighed in reminiscence of the old days: The days of when Heku and she took the same fencing classes for "fun," instead of relying upon them every waking moment on Frostig for mere survival. Her memories opened up like a picture book, switching to another memory of Heku and herself.
They were walking into the streets of the little, isolated town of Serdin, where they attended school six years ago. She remembered that Heku always tried to win her affection by simply being close to her and trying to word cunning remarks just to see her bright, tender smile. She always smiled back at Heku.
For something so miniscule, for just a simple humorous sentence to echo in her mind, was something that she desperately wanted.
Maybe she just wanted to hear Heku's voice talking to her.
Maybe she finally felt the immense affection Heku wholeheartedly gave to win her love.
Maybe she just wanted to run away. Just to run from all of the war and sadness that echoed in its wake. She yearned to escape the island of Frostig and return to Serdin with Heku and just live a peaceful life. She recalled Heku talking about "just getting away from the mundane world and pursue something… something."
"Just pursue something…. Something…. But what did you want, Heku?" She thought.
She felt her heart grow heavy, her stomach shriveling up, and her fingertips crow cold. She felt the pain Heku held by his unrequited love to Erina, yet all of his efforts simply shattered before his eyes.
Her mind then revealed to her one last memory: the memory of Heku's final battle against Count Sanguine three years ago.
Heku's voice replayed perfectly in her mind, almost as if he stood next to Erina, "Erina… Erina, I lo- I'm… I'm sorry. I will not burden you with such a thought."
"Hey, we're here." Kalech blurted out, snapping Erina out of her introspective state.
"Now, only half of the troops here will accompany you. Meanwhile, I, and my team will create a delayed attack with Nuage and everyone else. Do you think you can handle Heku on your own?" Kalech explained.
"Yes." She said, standing up.
She felt weak and immobile when she stood up, her vision fading slightly while she look at her surroundings. The train finally stopped, the doors slowly opening.
"Now it's time." She mumbled to herself. "I can finally ask Heku what's been going on. What's been in his mind, what's been keeping him here."
The train car emptied, leaving Kalech alone. He closed his eyes while flippantly kicking his legs up on the table in front of him.
"Good luck." He mumbled under his breath.
Erina stood outside, under the snow with a squadron of thirty. The train slowly departed, beginning a clamor among the troops.
She coolly drew her ornate, shining white rapier and drew it close to her head. A faint wind began to flow to the left of her, kicking up sparkling, bright green leaves. The leaves glimmered a bright white color. Erina then became covered in a olive-green, glowing armor. A short, bright-red skirt flowed to her knees and a green sheath wrapped in gold patterns hung by the left side of her body. An armored visor hung atop her forehead, decorated by white feathers at the side. Her golden hair became tied behind her back while part of her hair remained the front, partially blocking her right eye.
She sheathed her rapier, shouting to the men, "Let this battle end in either total loss or total success!"
The soldiers roared vehemently, raising pikes, swords, banners, and rifles. Erina pointed to the small town of Roman, about a mile away. The men assembled into a box-like formation and began to march behind Erina.