Doevm sat in his cave and cleared his mind of anything related to magic. When he was satisfied, he left. While it wasn't hard to suppress his urges, he knew it would only get harder from that day onward. After all, he had been through this before. Each day he went without practicing magic would be another crack in his will. Even though he had cleared his head, the images of a nearly complete magic circle were at the sidelines. All it would take for him to submit would be a little reminder and he would go back to the cave. His will would be broken. 'All because of that damned Lich inside of me.'
It was night when he emerged. At this time, the sweltering heat turned into a blissful warmth. However, the already suffocating humidity more than doubled its intensity. As he walked, parts of his pants stuck to his sides. His armor slid around his wet arms. Despite the uncomfortableness, the nighttime forest was pleasant to him. The black tree trunks and constantly swaying leaves blocked most of the moonlight. Shadows moved in the corner of his eyes. It was like he was back in his lonely dark home. He walked on his usual path back to the base. The guard let him up the elevator.
At this time, the hundreds of light crystals hung around the base faded until they were nearly black. This was because of how they were powered. Light crystals were essentially mana crystals that were unable to be processed. According to humans, they were duds. Doevm, however, knew better than that. Light crystals could not be processed the same way mana crystals were because they were powered by mana from the sun. Every world has its own mana, the sun included. The sun's mana is sometimes transferred into this world's rocks through its light. When the sun is shining, the light crystals react, even if they're underground. When the sun sets, the light crystals dim. They are never completely dark, as the moon reflected just a little bit of the sun's mana.
One inventor came close to discovering their power source but ended up creating a switch that turned the light crystals on and off at will. While this did let light crystals stay on in the night, it also decreased their lifespan. When it exhausts its mana, it turns to dust.
Doevm looked at one of the biggest light crystals. 'It's so simple. All of these light crystals are just rocks. They have been given mana and glow until they die. Their purpose is made clear from the second they are formed: glow and die. Since they are objects, they do not question anything. Living beings are so much more complicated. They live, eat, reproduce, and then what? Humans have been perplexed with this question over their entire existence. Like the light crystals who were given the power to shine, humans were given the power to think.
'They spend their lives doing it and still want more. It's ironic that they don't realize their purpose is to think and then die. Everything, in their eyes, is overcomplicated. Millions of years from now, their questions are obsolete. They will evolve into another species that will carry out their purpose and then die. The answer to life is simple but only idiots can understand it. In this complicated mess of a world, I just want to fight and die. I don't want immortality; it's worthless. Someday I'll crumble like these light crystals and be forgotten. So what? If nothing really matters, why try at all? Over my lifetimes I have come up with one answer, the same one that brilliant idiots use: I don't know, I just enjoy my time here.'
Doevm pulled himself out of his thoughts. As he walked along the swaying wooden bridges in the dark, he took a quick look around. Nothing about the base itself had really changed since he left. It had only been four days after all. When he returned to his private residence, he found a note on the door that read: Doevm, report to the captain's quarters immediately. He sighed and crumpled the paper into a ball. 'Why can't this stupid body function without sleep? Why am I so disappointed that I can't sleep in my bed?' Although most of the base was sleeping, patrols still moved around. Each and every one of them asked Doevm to hand his identification over. After many frustrating encounters, he made it to the captain's quarters where two guards removed his weapons and searched him. "When was this procedure implemented?" he asked.
"Sorry sir, it was made a few days ago," one of the taller guards said. "Everyone has to be searched, even the general. We'll keep your weapons safe here." He gathered Doevm's weapons, put them in a box, and handed the key over.
Doevm got close to him. Although he was a good three feet shorter than the man, he pulled the man's face close. "I haven't been in the base for a while, but if I find out that you lied to me and even one of my weapons are missing, it will be your head." He let the guard go and went inside.
"What a dick." The guard said.
"I wonder why he's so agitated?" the other asked.
Inside the room, Marcus was hunched over a map and moving some figurines around it. Although Captains only participated in large-scale battles, that didn't mean they weren't fighting. Every day he was in this dusty room planning out the next attack. By this time, his eyes were barely staying open. Wade was in just as bad a state. He even had a palm-print on the side of his cheek. When Doevm walked in, he jolted straight up and rubbed his red eyes.
"Hey Doevm," Wade said "We tried to look for you, but you weren't in the base. I see you found our note." He moved some papers from the desk and pulled out a quill. "I know we're both tired. I just need a report on what happened to your and Frey's squads."
Doevm grabbed a chair and recited the events of the mission, leaving out everything about Maximus Draken: "We ran into three Elven squads. Using my tactics, I managed to trap and eliminate them all. Unfortunately I do not have proof of this as they destroyed their own bodies with bottled slimes. When we got to the tree after the battle had concluded. The three squads serving Von Trike, they used us and Frey's squad as bait. Whatever they reported about us, I'm sure it's false. Their squads even assaulted one of my men. If Frey and I hadn't come, a brawl would have broken out. In the future I would like to work with other squads, fellow commoners if possible. After we tried to defend the point, but Ghouls shot up from a point inside our camp. We had no choice but to dive in with them. It took me a few days to regroup and return back to base."
"That is some story." Marcus leaned back in his chair. "Unfortunately, I cannot grant you anything for eliminating the Elven squadrons. I could ask one of the mages to run a truth test, but I would rather hang myself than speak another word to those freaks. I can, however, give you rewards for exploring the caverns. I will send you replacements, restock your squad's weapons, and give you two weeks rest. You can train your men for the upcoming major battle. I will also take your advice and keep you with other commoner squads."
"There's an upcoming battle?" Doevm asked, trying to get a glimpse of the map.
Marcus got in his sightline: "Yes, the first big encounter of the war. The general arrived yesterday and informed me that the enemy has been gathering a large amount of men. I will need practically all of my squads with this. I will reinstate your status as the squad leader of squad six and you will cooperate with the mages to launch an assault."
"I'm being reinstated. When was I demoted?" Doevm asked more out of curiosity than annoyance.
"Doevm," Wade said as he held up a list of the squad leaders. Doevm's and Frey's names were crossed off. "We all thought you were dead. Von Trike's men reported that you and Frey went down valiantly. Squad six was annihilated alongside squad one. You were already replaced. Now that we know that report is false, we have to get your position back." He rolled the scroll back up and seemed to deflate. "I'm sorry."
"I understand." Doevm said. 'That's why there was no search party. We were supposed to be dead.' He bit the inside of his cheek to stop his emotions from showing. "I take it Von Trike's men will receive no punishment for their actions." Wade shook his head. "While I am not one for revenge, I will remember this. Can I assume everything that is happening to me will also be available to Frey? He will get the same rewards as you have all given me, is that right?"
"That is correct," Wade gave a half-hearted smile. "I didn't think you would take it this well. Is there anything else you wanted to know?"
"No," Doevm recognized it was his time to leave. 'They both knew,' he thought. 'They both knew that there was a spy in the camp. The extra patrols and the guards were dead giveaways they are losing trust in the men. While they probably intend to keep this to themselves to keep the confusion down, they should have told me. I guess I can't rely on them for dealing with this matter. I am on my own. That spy is after me and me alone. The question is: Why me? I haven't angered anyone. I have no special position. I haven't even proved myself yet. Maybe I'm being targeted to anger someone else. Whatever the reason, I need to find the spy and kill him.' Doevm retrieved his weapons from the lockbox and returned to his home. Inside, he dusted off his bed and pulled the warm covers over his body.