(On the other side - April 25, 1945, 1130 hrs.)
More than an hour after leaving the base, the Allied convoy are moving towards unexplored territory in an effort to gain more knowledge of the terrain. As the convoy kept on moving, some decided to talk while a soldier began playing the harmonica to fill the almost annoying atmosphere of engines running with the pleasant tunes from his mouth.
In the middle of the drive, Travers was telling his story to his fellow soldiers.
"...and then, that Nazi took out almost all of our guys as if he's invincible." He told them while reminiscing a sabotage operation. "I know. I was almost swiss-cheesed by the chainsaw."
"You managed to fight back?" Gallahand asked.
"I did. After some shots from my BAR, then that guy was done for."
"Seeing that you managed to take out an armored train almost single-handedly, I could say that I impressed with you, Mr. Travers." Patterson commented. "I would recommend you to the agency if you are qualified. There are some guys who are just like you."
"I would rather pass this." Travers declined. "I mean, I am part of the OSS, but only for this one though."
"Okay then. Your loss."
"No, sir. Just wanted to live a peaceful life again."
Just then, the driver got their attention.
"Guys, we just found something."
"Stop here." Patterson requested.
The convoy stopped after being radioed and Patterson decided to send his team to investigate.
"Men, let's get out of the truck. There is something up ahead."
"Yes, sir." Harvey responded and the three soldiers followed him.
They walked away from the convoy towards a small village. When they arrived, the inhabitants were surprised to see them as if they are strangers. Harvey decided to calm them down with some encouragement and they listened.
"You sure are a cheerful person." Gallahand commented.
"Yeah." Harvey replied. "I've been doing that ever since someone was scared of going towards the sea on a boat."
"Let me guess, Lusitania?" Travers asked while referring to the ship that sank during the Great War.
The inhabitants, like the mother and her daughter the men first encountered, eventually accepted the soldiers as friends and some decided to talk about the new and friendly strangers. Some decided to play with them in games like tag. Patterson, meanwhile, talked to the village chief with the help of a translator about where they are now and what happened in the last few weeks. He then went to the three colleages to tell them the information.
"Anything, chief?" Gallahand asked.
"Yes, I do." Patterson answered. "According to the village chief, we are in a small settlement known as Coda Village. Also, he said that there a number of lords who went to Alnus with their armies, our base's current location, for some sort of battle. He mentioned that almost all of them never came back."
"You think it has something to do with the Germans and that helmet that was shown earlier?" Harvey asked as well.
"That's likely. I mean...just before the base was even established, the engineers found some pieces of body armor riddled with bullets, around the same shape as a MG42 round."
"Ouch. That's gotta hurt for the local armies." Travers commented. "And I think that we are in a land similar to the time of the ancient Romans."
"Your mind serves you well, Mr. Travers."
"Thank you, sir."
"Anyway, our next stop will be another village far from here." Patterson announced their next stop. "Let's get back to the convoy."
The men said their goodbyes to the villagers as they left for the next destination. As the convoy moved for some time, more talking was held. When sunset was on the horizon, the team decided to set-up camp for the night. A campfire was already lit as the soldiers gathered to share the common meal and drink. Travers was eating at a stool when Gallahand arrived to eat with him.
"How are you doing here?" Gallahand asked.
"I'm fine." Travers replied. "Why?"
"Remember what you said about us being in a Roman-like land? I'm starting to feel sorry for those folks here."
"That's okay. I feel the same way." Boyd patted Gallahand's back.
"Thank you. I'm glad that you are here." Travers nodded after Gallahand thanked him.
Then, Boyd remembered something.
"Come, a sing-along is about to begin." Travers told Gallahand.
"I'm with ya', bud." The duo then joined the others as the sing-along began.
(Senate building - 2103 hrs.)
The senate was in a meeting that discusses the threat of an unknown army that devastated their own forces weeks earlier. Suddenly, a scout arrived with new information.
"I have brought disturbing news for you." The scout announced.
"Please bring your presence before the mercy of His Majesty Molt Sol Augustus." The army chief demanded and the scout complied.
"What news have you brought before us?" The emperor asked.
"Your Majesty, we have reports of another faction that arrived at Alnus five days ago." The scout reported his findings. "They are similar to the ones we encountered; however, they are wearing green and they have different iron elephants and eagles. Their symbols are different as well."
"Have you managed to get close to them?"
"No, Your Majesty. So far, we didn't attack them and we still need to get closer safely."
"Then tell your men to do it!" The emperor shouted.
"Rrrrrr...rrright away, Your Majesty!" The scout replied in fear before leaving. The emperor put his hand on his head expressing disappointment.
"Argh. When can we ever get those pests?"
Just then, a red-haired figure arrived. This caught the emperor's attention.
"Please! Tell me what is going on!" She requested
The emperor felt stressed, so he did a few breaths before revealing the answer.
"Daughter, I hate to say this but..."
"What?" Piña frantically asked. "What is it?"
"...another army has appeared before the gate in Alnus." He continued. "But they don't look like the ones we saw earlier."
"You mean like the ones with the 'iron crosses'?"
"Likely, but their symbols are very different."
"They also wore green in their clothing. Something is not right."
Then, Piña thought of an idea.
"If that's the case, I'm going to meet them personally." She said.
"You sure? Don't you even saw the magic those pests unleashed against us?"
"No. But I have to try. Even my knights will."
Initially, Emperor Molt was against the idea, but he decided to give it a go.
"Alright, then." The emperor agreed. "Do whatever you like."
"Thank you, father." She expressed her gratitude.
"Don't fail the Empire, or you will suffer."
"We will. We'll do our best."
The princess left the room to meet up with her knights. She then prepared to march towards the newcomers.
(On the road - April 26, 1945, 0648 hrs.)
The convoy continued moving along the path to the next settlement. The drivers were calmly riding along the road and after a short while, the were a little far away from the campsite. Suddenly, a roar was heard.
"What the hell was that?" The driver felt surprised and decided to inform Patterson.
"Chief, ya' hear that?"
"Yeah, we heard that too." Patterson replied. "It's some sort of dragon roar."
As the driver turned his head, he was surprised to see a fire dragron breathing out fire onto a nearby forest.
"Holy cow! That's one mad dragon!"
Patterson began to order his men to arm their weapons.
"Arm your weapons!"
"Weapon's hot!" Another soldier echoed and they complied.
"Get me a radio and tell the tanks and AA to be ready!"
The tanks began to load their armor-piercing shells inside the barrel. After a few seconds, one of the Stuarts radioed back.
"Gun loaded and ready to fire!" The tank commander said.
Just then, the dragon flew off the burned area.
"Strange. It just left." The driver observed.
"Wha..?" Patterson felt baffled. "So soon already?"
"I don't know. We have to check the burned area."
"Right. Men, let's move out!"
The infantry began to move out of the truck as the convoy maintained a safe distance while following the foot soldiers. When they reached the burned area, all they can see is nothing but scorched ground and trees. Patterson began to think of something when he found a well in the distance.
"Do you think we are in some sort of village?" Patterson asked.
"Well, judging by that well over there, I think we are in a village, sir." Harvey answered.
"Okay then. Everyone, find any survivors. I also need someone to radio HQ for three more trucks and a Sherman should we find some."
"Copy, sir." An OSS soldier responded and left to man the radio.
The men searched in the ruble as they look for any villagers that are alive.
"This is unreal." Harvey commented while lifting the debris. "Why would a dragon just randomly burn down a village when there is possibly no wrongdoing on their part?"
"Don't know." A fellow soldier replied while doing the same. "Guess someone forgot to check on it during it's dinner."
As Patterson was clearing out the debris, he found what looks like a burned arm. This shocked him.
"Oh my...this isn't happening. Dammit!"
"Lieutenant." A soldier called him. "What did you see?"
"It's a burned arm."
Another soldier came to report their findings.
"Sir, we found some bodies on our part." Corporal McCann reported. "Looks like there are trapped in the burning rubble."
"Alright. We need a proper burial. I need an assessment on what building they are like."
As the men began to retrieve more bodies from the rubble, a soldier came after doing the assessment.
"Sir, judging by what we can analyze, we believe that the buildings are up to 10 stories high, enough for probably up to 2 families." The soldier reported.
"Thank you." Patterson replied. "Now if you excuse me, I have to take a moment of silence to clear out the nightmares out of my mind."
The soldier nodded and continued the search. At the well, Travers and Gallahand began to fetch some water.
"You think this is enough?" Travers asked his friend.
"Well, what do you think?" Gallahand followed. "There is still some fires burning on."
"Guess we need some fetching to do."
As they began to lower the bucket, the men slowly release the rope to control the speed. When they felt that the rope is just moving but not the bucket itself, they were confused.
"Weird." Gallahand commented. "The bucket just stopped moving. I can feel it."
"So do I." Travers followed. "Maybe it's blocked"
They decided to look below the well to see the obstruction.
"Travers, flashlight." Gallahand got the flashlight and turned it on. When the soldiers found someone below, they were shocked.
"Is that a girl?" Gallahand asked.
"Looks like it." Travers answered. "And she's unconscious!"
Travers began to shout for help.
"Hey! We have a survivor!"
"Survivor?" Patterson wondered as the men began to close in on Travers and Gallahand's position. He also went to check on them.
"Let me see!" When he found her, he was shocked.
"Holy...get me a rope!"
The men fetched a rope for him and once he got hold, he gave it to Travers.
"Here you go."
"Thanks." Travers used one end of the rope while some of his fellow soldiers hold the other as Travers began his descent to the bottom of the well where the girl is floating unconsciously. Once he grabbed hold of her, he nodded to signal his colleagues to pull the two up. A stretcher with a medic was on stand-by as he laid her on it.
"There you go." He quietly said to her.
"D...d...dad..." Travers was surprised by what the girl said while her eyes are closed.
"It's gonna be okay." Travers assured her as the medic began to check on her. "It's gonna be okay. It's gonna be okay."
He then informed Patterson on the status of the survivor.
"Sir, we have the girl on the stretcher." Travers reported.
"Good." Patterson nodded. "Because we have to get out of here immediately."
"The entire village is razed to the ground. There are no more survivors other than her, so I thought some might have managed to flee. And that dragon would be on our tail if we just sit here for too long."
"No buts! If you want to help people, we need to go with whatever we can find!"
"I...I...I understand sir." Travers expressed some anger while he was forced to accept the harsh reality.
"I'm sorry." Patterson apologized. "There is nothing we can do. We have to move now."
Gallahand and Harvey arrived.
"Man, what's going on?" Gallahand asked Travers.
"It's not your fault." Harvey tried to comfort him. "We wanted to help too, but the dragon is looming over us. Even the Germans would attack without warning."
"I'm fine." Travers gave a tepid response. "I just need to calm down."
As the convoy begins it's trip home, Patterson ordered the men to get back to the trucks.
"Everyone, we have to move now!" He shouted as they boarded the trucks. When they are inside, the convoy left. Travers felt scarred by the devastation, even more so than during his parachuting operations.
"What are we facing?" Travers said in his mind. "Suddenly, the creatures in fairy tales are becoming a reality."
As the convoy exited the forest, a girl weaing a black dress and wielding a halberd was in a distance witnessing the OSS operatives leaving the area.
"Ooooohhhh." She expressed her fascination while she moved her tongue over her red lips. "What do we have here? Another of those strange people have arrived, eh?"
The sound of the crows then filled the air around her.