After the War Chapter 1
Parpatra walked among the students silently and watched them spar. The young boys and girls of various species paid little attention to their teacher and instead focused on their opponents.
The empire didn't care if they were human, lizardmen, goblin, or any other species found in their territories. As long as the child showed potential, they would be accepted and trained to be a soldier.
With the recent war, a lot of them had lost one or both of their parents. The short but devastating conflict had taken far too many lives to count. The forest area had been left mostly untouched, thus the military academy didn't need to be rebuilt.
"Pay attention to the opponent's leg and movement; you will get kicked if you just focus on the weapon!" He said to a tall human boy who was sparring with a lizardman girl about his size. A kick from a lizardman surely would send one to the healer.
Parpatra pushed aside one of his white locks of recently regrown hair and continued walking among the students. The unexpected visit from the Apostle of War came with a gift. The young elven girl had come to test an ability granted by the Gods and he, with his advanced age, was a perfect test subject.
He shuddered remembering the intense pain he felt as the Apostle reversed his age. It was hard to tell by how much, but counting that he had a lot more hair now and he felt a lot stronger, it was at least two decades.
Of course, he was no match for the star teachers of the academy, Gazef and Brain, but the renewed might let him put up a lot more fight.
"Sir Ogrion!" one of the students shouted.
Parpatra flipped around to see one of the students knocked out cold, and his opponent was frantically waving his hands to get his attention. He quickly ran to the knocked-out human boy and checked the limp body for wounds.
"I'm sorry, teach. I hit him too hard. Is he okay?"
"He will be fine." Parpatra said. The only damage he could locate was a rapidly forming bump on the boy's forehead. He took out a small box from his pocket and applied a bit of a white paste under the boy's nose. He jumped up with a cough and looked around confused.
"Easy now. Here, drink this." Parpatra offered him a basic healing potion, the boy eagerly drinking it.
"Thank you, sir."
"You both can resume, but be more careful." he warned both boys and then resumed his walk.
A small injury or two was a daily occurrence among the students, but overall his job was peaceful and highly enjoyable. Once the school work was over, Parpatra left the school grounds, taking a slow walk through the woods. In some sense, it already felt like a promised afterlife.
His home was about a ten-minute walk away in a small village mostly populated by lizardmen. As usual, he stopped at a stone with four names carved in it, those of his last team.
'If only you had listened, then who knows? All of you could be alive and well.'
Those fools chose to fight when there was no chance of victory. Parpatra let out a long sigh and walked on. They were the only four teammates he lost in his long career as a worker.
He quickly dusted off the stone and continued his walk reaching the entrance of his home a few minutes later. As usual, the first thing he did was to drop to his knees in front of a statue dedicated to the Goddess of War and dedicated her a prayer. He had considered getting statues of the other Gods as well, but commissioning them wasn't cheap, so after the prayer to his patron Goddess, he recited a quick prayer for the rest of the Gods as well.
"Hurry up." an annoyed voice from deeper within the house called out.
"Coming, coming. I didn't know you would come today." Parpatra shouted back in an equally annoyed tone.
His friend, as usual, had just come to his house and waited for him. The old lizardman most of the time was grumpy and impatient, but both shared a love of good food, good tea, and good alcohol.
"I hope you got a good one this time." Parpatra said as he greeted his friend with a small wave. The brown, wrinkled lizardman sat on the large rug in his guest room with a bottle and two cups sitting on the small table in the middle of it.
"You humans and your refined tastes." the old lizard spat.
"Oh, now it's humans who are picky. Who called half of my collection frogman piss?"
The lizardman just grumbled and poured a brownish liquor into two cups. Parpatra sat down on the rug opposite the lizardman and said. "Not in a talkative mood today, Zhuta?"
"Eh, you know how it is. Arguing with the braindead elders puts everyone in a bad mood."
"So what was it this time?"
"They couldn't decide which statue to make next. As you know for now we only have the Emperor's, Lord Ulbert's, and Lady Bukuma's. By the time we decided which one to build next, the workers could have made the entire pantheon."
"Can't you go with the official hierarchy?"
"Bah, at this point I don't even care which statue is built next, but each of those old morons wants their patron God first." Zhuta grumbled and took a slow sip.
"Sometimes I wonder why you even attend those meetings, old friend." Parpatra said, taking a sip as well.
"What else will I do? I have to occupy my time somehow. Besides, I can't give up my spot. It pays for the booze."
"You could take a teaching position."
"Dealing with young idiots instead of old ones? I'll pass."
"Suit yourself. One of these days you'll just fall over dead because of your grumpiness." Parpatra chuckled.
"Hah, I will outlive you, even with all your fancy gifts from the Apostle." Zhuta said and then added with a shudder. "That one was scary."
"Oh, she took a tour around the village as well?"
"Came to inspect the statue of her mother. You should have seen how fast the people washed off any spec of dirt from it. I almost shat myself when she tossed Harushu into the wall and screamed that the statues were dirty." Zhuta said with a humorless chuckle.
"I hope he is still in one piece." Parpatra said, taking another sip. The taste of the liquor was great and the smooth burn is what made it even better.
"He has a limp now, but that self-importance now is gone. I don't have to listen to his stupid ideas anymore, at least."
"Lady Zesshi will visit again. It is her responsibility to watch over the academy."
"You warn me next time. I will pick a seat to watch from a safe distance."
"You would do something like that. This alone is enough for that kind of favor." Parpatra pointed at the bottle and let out a dry laugh.
"With friends like you I don't need enemies." Zhuta grumbled and poured the alcohol into the cups again.
"I try my best."
Teasing the grumpy lizard never grew old. Of course, he would get him out of harm's way, as the Apostle was just as short-tempered as her much more imposing mother. He knew how to not draw their ire, but his friend didn't have a filter and could say anything, even when talking to a God.
The evening promised to be an entertaining one, as with each cup both would grow calmer and then the real discussions would start. Like what cup was the best for tea or which bushes looked best in front of the house.
Brain stretched and put his sword in the sheath strapped to his back. There were limits on how much he could train each day to progress and not simply waste time. Besides, his master had granted him an increase in potential, so one day he could rival the Apostle herself if he put his mind fully to it.
The new temple of the chosen ones was a vast complex that had nothing in common with traditional temples. Split into three parts, it was made just how the God of Murder willed it. The first was the training area, outfitted with everything Lord Peros' followers would need to reach their absolute limits. The second was the living area for those who chose the temple as their home, and the third was the leisure area.
With a sense of a job well-done, Brain was heading to the leisure area. As usual, he was met with bards playing music. There was a succubus dancing on one table and an incubus on another. He walked up to the closest bar and, once the bartender noticed him, raised one finger.
As one of the more known followers of Lord Peros, all the bartenders already knew his drinking preferences, even though he was living in the temple for less than a week. With a large bottle of brandy and a single glass in his hands, he moved deeper in.
"Hey, Brain!" Peter noticed him and waved over.
'Looks like I'm having company.' he mused and quickly reached the table the Swords of Darkness occupied. With them also sat Team Foresight.
"So what's new?" he asked Peter after greeting everyone with a wave.
"Those two are at it again." he pointed at Imina and Clementine who both had rows of empty bottles next to them, and both glared at one another with determination.
"Huh, I thought she would be with the boss." Brain remarked.
Peter laughed and said, loudly enough to be clearly heard. "Lord Peros is with the good concubines in the VIP area."
Clementine turned her head, snarled at Peter with glassy eyes, and threw an empty bottle in his direction, which the half-demon easily dodged.
"What the hell!" someone shouted from behind.
Peter quickly turned his head and shouted, "Sorry, man."
"Keep that psycho away from us!"
"Sure thing, pal, we don't need another mass stabbing."
"A what?" Brain asked.
"The last brawl went south and the resurrection team was needed. Boss was not happy." Ninya, sitting beside Peter, explained.
'Even the bandits were less volatile. At least we can be resurrected. It surely would be an interesting experience to try to survive everyone here trying to murder each other.' It was a rather morbid train of thought, but Brain could not help to imagine all the details and how to survive such an event.
Considering that his buddies, the Swords of Darkness, were the strongest team among the assassins, the only worry was Clementine. Her murderous insanity and pain tolerance was legendary.
Although in her current state, she did not seem too dangerous. From the looks of it, Imina was winning the drinking competition.
"You, bitch.. you… cheating..." she mumbled incoherently as she slowly slid off the chair and fell to the ground.
"Lightweight." Imina remarked and then shouted. "Who's next?"
With no one responding, she took the bottle and continued drinking in silence. A minute later, a naga came out of the VIP area and slithered to Clementine.
"The moron tried to outdrink Imina again?" she asked in an annoyed tone.
"I told her she would lose. Fucking lightweight never learns." Imina said as she took a big gulp.
The naga shook her head, then casually picked up Clementine, tossed her over her shoulder, and returned to the VIP area.
"How often does this happen?" Brain asked.
"More than it should. At least she is not creeping out others while blackout drunk." Peter said and then looked around. "By the way, is Lakrut with his fan club again?"
"A group of goblin girls swarmed the table in that corner, so I think he is there." Ninya said, as she pointed at the farthest corner of the large hall that was used as the tavern area.
"Let him have his fun. Having a bunch of girls chasing him was exactly what he wanted." Dyne said with a chuckle.
"He could at least not skip training on a regular basis." Peter grumbled and took a shot. "He is not a God after all."
"We can catch him in the morning and drag to train with us." Ninya said.
"Sure, you can pull him out of a pile of goblin girls and drag him to the training area." Peter said. "Hey, Brain, you up to train with us for a while?"
"I could use some decent body bags as target practice." Brain answered.
"Awfully confident, aren't we? You might be the rising star among the assassins, but you will not find us easy targets." Peter said in an overly serious tone.
"That's what I'm hoping for. Seems like the resident psycho won't be in top shape tomorrow morning."
"We can always call for Zesshi to come." Peter said in a flat tone.
"No, thank you. I prefer to not get half of my bones broken." Brain quickly responded.
Not many would willingly train with the most powerful Apostle, and he surely was not among the few crazy ones who were willing to do such a thing. With the night only starting and his training partners for tomorrow already sorted out, Brain could just drink and relax.
Being amongst the trained killers was not as bad as one would think.
Proofreading by I AM STRING CUTTER and Aterro
Editing by Edgy