Arc 2: Chapter 12: A Bottle Of Crimson

“We have an update.”

A soldier, dressed as a civilian, says to Reid and Darcy.

Soldier: “They are all assembled now.”

As they hear that, they look at each other and then in the direction Bronzer had headed in. Coincidentally, just as they turn to look there, Bronzer comes out and looks at them. And seeing his questioning gaze,

Darcy: “They are all here.”

Darcy tells him what’s up.

Bronzer: “… I see.”

Bronzer says as he turns to look at the sky that had grown monochromatic under the cloudy visage covering the sun. It was almost like their own world where the light was hidden beneath a visage of lies by a so-called god. And so,

Bronzer: “Tell everyone here to go there too.”

He says.

Reid, as he hears that, motions every Vampire to stop trying cleaning-up the rubble that Julius Rome’s house had become. He then tells them to follow the soldier who had come with the update and tells him to go back. The soldier nods and starts heading back with everyone else following behind.

And so, the number of people left in that rubble becomes three – Reid, Darcy and Bronzer.

Reid: “Are you really ready to go through with this?”

Reid asks in a doubtful voice.

Bronzer: “Why? Do I look nervous?”

Bronzer asks hysterically, at least trying to act hysterically.

Reid: “Yes! You look pretty damn nervous to me.”

Reid says as he points at the shaking hands of the strategist. Darcy does not reply but looks down as she is unable to think of anything to say. Looking at the two of them, Bronzer merely chuckles and says,

Bronzer: “You are both great friends.”

He smiles as he says so.

Reid: “Who the hell are you calling a friend, asshole?”

Reid asks with his hands folded and his face contorting into a disgusted smirk. Bronzer replies with a smile,

Bronzer: “There’s no need to act like that, you know. It’s better to live while facing the truth, even if it is something as small as this.”

Bronzer, as he says that, starts walking – in the direction that all the other Vampires were headed in. Just as he does that, with a delay of a second or two at best, Darcy and Reid also start walking in the same direction. But,

Reid: “Tell me something. When it comes to a war like this, is it really necessary to live with the truth?”

He is hysterical himself as he asks this question. Bronzer replies in a calm voice though,

Bronzer: “I won’t deny the benefits lying offers.”

He pauses just to look at the sky one last time and then,

Bronzer: “But still, we can’t win this war without the truth.”

Reid’s eyes twitch as he hears that. Whenever anyone has asked Bronzer about the war, he has never said “Our chances to win are …” or “We can hold up against them for this long” or “We may pull it off” or anything like that. Every time, every single time, this man has said “To win this war.”

It’s as if, even in this desperate hellhole that they are going up against three powerhouses that are all individually stronger than them, it still feels to him as if they would win this war. He truly believes they’ll win this war.

And so, Reid follows him.

He does not have any particular liking to this man, but there’s no one else in the entire world who could look up at the sky with a smile and say that the Vampire Kingdom would win the war, and so Reid has no choice but to follow this man.

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10,319 soldiers. That’s how many of them there are in the Vampire Kingdom. 4 of them are the Higher Generals who are second-in-authority only to the queen and then there are 40 Generals. They are followed by many commanders, battalion leaders and capable soldiers. This is the army strength of the Vampire Kingdom. They are the ones the whole kingdom is relying on in the battle.

However,

10,576 soldiers – Vermillion. That number is pretty much equivalent to that of Vampire Kingdom’s forces. They are one of the enemies to be faced in the upcoming battle.

5948 Dragons. And then comes the race whose every member is as strong as 10 Vampires. And so, their numbers are a threat too big even by themselves.

300 Spectres. The strongest army in the world, the one said to be capable of destroying every other supernatural faction. It is estimated that 1 Spectre can kill about a 1000 Vampires before being taken out. And so, their numbers are also a threat by themselves and even bigger than the Dragons.

These are the three factions that Vampire Kingdom would be going up against. There’s no way they can think they would win this war. There’s no way they can think there’s any chance of that happening.

There’s no way they can even keep a high morale. These 10,319 people think they’ll die in this war. They think that they are being ordered to die here. And so, they need someone to change that. They need someone who could make them believe that they would indeed win this war. And the only one who can do that is the only one who truly believes that they indeed would win this war.

Walking through the backstage, Bronzer comes to the stage and looks at the 1000 or so Vampires assembles in front of the stage.

They are using a school as a hideout and so when they need to assemble, they do it in the assembly hall. So, here they are – standing in a stand-at-ease position in front of Bronzer as if they are students and Bronzer the teacher.

Obviously, there are soldiers at other places, assembled just like that and looking at this scene through some large LED screens. But, the leaders are here. Among the 1000 that are directly in front of Bronzer, there are the 4 High Generals and the 40 Generals and quite a few commanders.

Bronzer: “Ha!”

Bronzer chuckles as he sees this sight.

Bronzer: “Why are you all so nervous?”

He asks them a simple question.

Bronzer: “Is it because you realize that you are all trash?”

Hostile sounds come from the soldiers. Reid and Darcy merely stare at the soldiers from behind as they let Bronzer take the reins to everything.

Bronzer: “If you indeed have realized that you are trash, know that you are not wrong.”

He says plainly and before anyone can counter him, he continues,

Bronzer: “Your very existence is based on killing and drinking other species’ blood and yet you are afraid now that you are going into a war with them? Of course you are trash.”

‘They are your natural enemies.’ He seems to be saying.

However, that is not exactly what he is saying.

Bronzer: “They aren’t your natural enemies. You are their natural enemies.”

There’s just a little difference between those two statements. And that difference comes from the definition of natural enemy, as it is a term used for those that are meant to destroy you and are given that role by nature itself.

Bronzer: “They weren’t supposed to be the enemies who destroyed you. You were supposed to be the enemies that destroyed them.”

And so he clarifies for them.

Bronzer: “And despite all this, did you think that this war would have never come or something like that?”

When you look at it from the perspective of ‘natural enemies’, this war was bound to happen, even without Ozyllus’ interference. Maybe it wouldn’t have happened just yet but sometime in the future, it was bound to happen.

Bronzer: “Losing courage in this kind of situation is utterly ridiculous and marks you as trash. And so that statement, I will never take back.”

“Tsk!”

“What do you know?”

“You have never even been to the front lines?”

“You aren’t even one of us.”

“You are just a little human.”

“Don’t try to act superior.”

And so were the responses of the crowd. They all looked at him sternly. Bronzer, seeing that,

Bronzer: “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!”

He laughs. He laughs his heart out as he sees that.

“What the hell are you laughing about?”

“Finally lost your mind completely?”

The crowd tried to mock him but,

Bronzer: “Well, what am I laughing about? It’s simple really. You say that I can’t understand you because I am not a Vampire? Are you trying to say that you are justified in being cowards because you are Vampires? Does that mean Vampires are cowards in nature?”

He silences them all with his mockery. And then, he continues,

Bronzer: “Do you pride yourselves because you can drink blood?”

His eyes twisted with malice and carnage within his soul, he looks back to Darcy, who just tosses a bottle at him. After catching that, and shining the red liquid inside, he tells them.

Bronzer: “This is blood, human blood – the blood of my species that is.”

Everyone there could tell that he wasn’t lying just from the smell coming from the bottle. Everyone not there could tell he wasn’t lying just from the fact that no one in the crowd was calling it a lie.

Bronzer: “Does drinking this make you feel proud or something?”

He asks as he uncaps the bottle.

Bronzer: “What’s so great about that!?”

He says as he brings the bottle to his mouth and start drinking.

He drinks.

He drinks without stopping.

He continues to drink even as his throat grows soar and his mind demands to stop. He keeps drinking until the bottle is empty.

As all that happens in front of their eyes, the entire Vampire Kingdom stares at their strategist in shock and awe.

Bronzer: “There!”

He tells them as he drops the bottle on the floor.

Bronzer: “That doesn’t make me feel any prouder. There’s probably something wrong with you people for feeling proud over it.”

He says as he walks forward and starts descending the stairs from the stage to the floor.

Bronzer: “You see now, you are trash. There’s nothing you can do that I can’t.”

The 10,319 soldiers of the Vampire Kingdom stare at their strategist in silence.

Bronzer: “You are capable of breaking through concrete walls, I am not.”

Bronzer: “You are capable of killing hundreds of humans, I am not.”

Bronzer: “You are capable of fighting those monsters that are up against us in this war, I am not.”

Bronzer: “When this war starts, I’ll fight them. Will you?”

He asks as he looks at them directly. There was no moment devoted to extrapolating on how he shows courage and they don’t, neither was there a very inspiring speech; but the only thing that Bronzer had said in all this – is the truth.

Reid: “…”

Reid stares at him in silence, gazing at that one moment that will decide if truth can really make them win this war. He looks at the back of his strategist that, despite shaking in fear from time-to-time, does not waver.

“Tsk!”

A man in the crowd clicks his tongue as he sees and hears all that. This man is Ignis, one of the four High Generals.

Ignis: “Answer me fair and square.”

He asks Bronzer as he steps up in front of him.

Ignis: “Will we really win?”

Bronzer sighs, closes his eyes and opens them again to look directly into Ignis’ eyes.

Bronzer: “Yes.”

He answers in a plain voice. Ignis, hearing that, sighs as well and turns around to yell,

Ignis: “I’ll fight alongside this man!”

He doesn’t speak anything more. He doesn’t move a muscle. He just stands there looking at the rest of the army of the Vampire Kingdom after proclaiming that he would fight. And so,

Aquarius: “I’ll fight too.”

Another High General, Aquarius, says so and goes on to stand beside Ignis. Then, Achlyz, the third of the High Generals follows suit. And then comes Gaiz, the final of the four.

Seeing all that, Bronzer takes a step forward and says,

Bronzer: “Vampire Kingdom! You’ll have to fight, there’s no way out.”

He tells them bluntly.

Bronzer: “Our opponents are three superpowers who can individually win against us, as well as our so-called ‘god’ and also four people who, despite not seeming like it yet, will become the biggest threat to us there can be.”

He tells them very bluntly.

Bronzer: “No matter what, you have to fight! You can fight by following my orders, or you can fight by your discretion.”

The entire Vampire Kingdom Army listens as he tells them that.

Bronzer: “Follow me and I can guarantee you this – when all this is over, there will only be one supernatural race.”

Not one faction, not one power, not one nation, he says that there will be only be one supernatural race.

Bronzer: “Dragons, Aurals, Ghosts, Psychics, and Spirit-Users – I’ll annihilate them all. Only Vampires will remain.”

He does not waver in saying that, not one bit.

Bronzer: “Basically … follow me and you’ll win! That’s all there is to it.”

The human, standing between a thousand of those of whom he is a food of, casually walks towards them, and his hunters step aside to make way for him.

Bronzer: “Or if you think you’ll be better without me, kill me right now.”

He leaves himself vulnerable to them.

Reid and Darcy, looking from afar and focusing on his actions can see him shaking in fear despite trying to conceal it.

However, to those who he was in the middle of, he looks unflinching. Maybe that is because they have had their only wish, the wish to win the war, kept on stake by this man.

But regardless,

Darcy: “Ha!”

She smirks as she sees one vampire bowing to Bronzer after getting on his knees. Then, he is followed by another, and another, and another and … so on … until the whole army is down on their knees, conveying one obvious answer to Bronzer’s questions.

Bronzer: “Well, if that truly is your answer, Vampire Kingdom, then remember that you can never back out now.”

“YES SIR!”

The voice of 10,317 soldiers comes in coalition and,

Bronzer: “I see. Then rejoice for once in your life, you’ll win the war!”

He says bluntly, turns around and starts heading back. He has done what he had to do. Now, the only thing that is left before the commencement of the war is … nothing.

Bronzer: “Hah!”

He sighs and walks back up on the stage, with his feet starting lose balance but,

Reid: “If you fall now, every soldier in the Vampire Kingdom will fall with you.”

Reid says to him as he supports Bronzer with his hands.

Bronzer: “Yeah, thanks for that, Reid.”

Reid: “… Bronzer,”

After a bit of a pause, Reid says to him,

Reid: “I’ll face the truth. I’ll not run away from it.”

The truth had won. Reid had seen from his own eyes how Bronzer’s truth had motivated thousands of soldiers. And so,

Reid: “Let’s win!”

He says. And so,

Bronzer: “Yeah, let’s win.”

Bronzer, for one last time, turns around and raises his fist in the air as he yells to the rest of the Vampire Kingdom,

Bronzer: “THE WAR – BEGINS!”

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