Chapter 1974 Hollow Conviction
What were the Hexers fighting for, exactly?
Hexers fight for victory. Hexers fight for glory. Hexers fight to win the war that was robbed from their predecessors.
What about the Fridaymen?
Fridaymen fight for survival. Fridaymen fight to preserve their way of life. Fridaymen have prepared for centuries to defend themselves and their loved ones against the tyranny of their greatest rival.
The mentality difference was stark.
It reminded Ves of the centuries-old dynamic between the Bright Republic and the Vesia Kingdom.
The latter always wanted to rob Bentheim from the former. The Vesians, used to being in the superior position, had developed a superiority complex of sorts.
Each generation, the nobles at the top of their society constantly pumped the commoners up and hyped up all of the glory and rewards they could earn if they fought against the supposedly weak and cowardly Brighters.
It worked to an extent. The opening moves of the Vesians always put the Bright Republic on the backfoot. Their incredibly high morale and boundless optimism always overpowered the Brighters in the initial stages of a war.
However, the Bright Republic wasn't weak. It knew to an extent that its rival was swelling with a lot of confidence. So much so that it always seemed to warp their follow-up strategies as the Vesian nobles grew greedy for more achievements!
The more the Vesians penetrated the Bright Republic, the greater the resistance.
The patriotic Brighters fighting in the frontlines knew from the start that they had a very difficult fight on their hands. The Bright Republic was particularly good in educating its soldiers and citizens what was at stake should the Vesians have their way.
Not only would losing Bentheim mean losing their state's prosperity, but the fall of their main economic lifeline would certainly lead to the fall of the rest of the Republic!
What would happen after that? The Brighters would all turn into Vesian commoners, and spend the rest of their lives working themselves to death for their noble overlords!
This should never happen!
To preserve the torch that lit up the darkness, the Brighters all steeled themselves for a bitter struggle and employed any kind of delaying tactics as they could as they sought to preserve their fighting strength.
Victory may be out of reach in some battles, but the war had to go on! There were times when they had to stand their ground and there were times where accepting defeat was the only realistic choice!
As the latter stages of every Bright-Vesia War attested, this stubborn mindset eventually held out better over the long term.
When the Vesian invaders inevitably ran out of steam and started to accumulate progressively more casualties, both their commoners and their noble leaders started to balk.
In most cases, the Vesians eventually lost the heart to push forward and throw themselves at the incredibly resolute Brighter defenders!
This was in effect a deliberate strategy on the part of the Bright Republic. Its goal in every war had never been to pursue a quick victory. The Brighters always aimed to hang on survive as much as possible.
In contrast, the Vesians drove themselves entirely on victory. That was fine in the earlier stages, but as the attrition and increasingly more arduous struggles began to grind their confidence down, the illusion of inevitable victory evaporated.
What was left once the Vesians no longer gained any easy wins?
They lost their primary driving factor for waging war!
This was why their noble leaders quit at that point. The lower morale and diminishing returns meant that the few intact forces they possessed would begin to bleed more than they could ever possibly gain. Why continue a war that only led to greater losses?
A key difference between the Bright-Vesia Wars and the Komodo Wars was the stakes.
Neither side set out to fight a war for profit or a couple of star systems. The Fridaymen and Hexers went all in on this war!
Unlike the Bright Republic and the Vesia Kingdom, the Friday Coalition and the Hexadric Hegemony never fought a major war after their founding.
All this time allowed both second-rate states to accumulate an incredible amount of reserves. Neither states would run out of funds and resources anytime soon!
Yet what was even more pivotal was the incredible amount of fortifications they constructed. Whether in space or beneath the ground, the defensive works may not be enough to repel an invasion force, but they were definitely able to stall and bleed any attacking force!
Right now, Ves wasn't sure which side was doing most of the attacking, but he figured the Hexers might be a little bit more eager than the Fridaymen. Their overconfidence likely translated to excessive aggression, causing them to underestimate the resolve of their opponents!
Therefore, even if Ves lacked a complete picture on the state of the Komodo War, from the few clues he managed to deduce, his confidence in the Hexers started to sink.
Their mindset is too frail. It's only good in fair-weather conditions. The moment they encounter a storm, their baseless confidence will fade like the wind!
It was a bit of a stretch for Ves to believe the Komodo War would swing against the Hexers due to this reasoning.
However, Ves had a hunch that the oh so wise Hexer matriarchs weren't aware of this looming issue.
Though conventionally the older Hexers ought to be the wisest of their people, Ves wasn't so sure about that. In the context of their society, the matriarchs were indeed wise.
Yet outside of their highly-distorted cultural bubble, Ves believed they weren't as smart and wise as they were cracked out to be! This was because Ves guessed that the matriarchs were in fact the most committed believers of Hexer superiority!
It's the nature of their promotion. Biases against the Fridaymen are constantly encouraged while more honest assessments of the true strength of their adversaries will likely be dismissed as defeatism!
What happened when one Hexer woman expressed confidence in the war against the Hexers and another Hexer woman tried to tell others that the Fridaymen were actually very formidable?
Their people would probably elevate the former to matriarch and relentlessly ostracize the latter!
If I can think about it, the Fridaymen can surely do so as well!
Since Ves was a Brighter, and the Bright Republic had long been stuck in a similar position to the Friday Coalition, he had a much better idea of what the Fridaymen were thinking about.
What if their strategy was to lead the bull by the horns? What if they held some of their strength back in order to allow the Hexers to crash their horns against the myriad of defensive works the Fridaymen set up? What if the Fridaymen were waiting to pounce once their foes expended much more strength than they anticipated?
Who am I to question the wisdom of the matriarchs in charge?
It could all be an illusion. Perhaps the Hexers were aware of the difficulty of achieving a quick victory. Perhaps the matriarchs truly knew that the Fridaymen weren't pushovers.
Yet if this was part of a deep, multilayered plan to deceive the Fridaymen into thinking they deceived the Hexers, Ves wasn't so sure the matriarchs truly thought that far ahead!
Ves didn't really care how the Hegemony was being run. However, the last thing he wanted to see was the Friday Coalition winning the war!
If Ves wanted to accomplish his revenge on the state, he had to find a way to assist the Hexers in increasing their chances of gaining an advantage in this war.
Right now, the best way he could contribute to their war effort was by designing a mech that addressed this possible vulnerability.
Besides, if the Hexers truly managed to gain the upper hand by themselves, then his mech would just be able to make them win even harder!
After Ves announced that he wanted to design a landbound knight mech that would be based around the six phases of existence, Gloriana seemed quite intrigued at his suggestion.
For a time, she paused and turned away in order to consider his ambitious suggestion. Even to her, designing a mech that revolved around the six phases sounded extreme even to her! For once, she was reluctant to agree with mech concept. It was simply too close to her heart!
While Gloriana tried to resolve her inner struggle, Ves projected a document and tried to expand his original premise.
It wasn't difficult to state that he intended to incorporate the six phases into the mech, but how exactly would he be able to do so in practice? What would its glow possibly feel like?
It will have to be a multifaceted glow.
Ves supposed he could also opt to create six different glows, but the cost of doing so was prohibitive. Ves simply couldn't afford to do something so wasteful. He still had nightmares about sacrifices five gems at once to create a single masterwork!
As for the composition of the glows, Ves wasn't sure how to proceed.
Unlike the Ylvainan Faith, hexism lacked a concrete human figure. Ves faced the difficult task of trying to interpret abstract phases into something more relatable.
He reviewed his understanding of the six phases and wrote down the probably feel that each phase could provide.
[Life: cautious optimism
Death: minimize losses
Godhood: overwhelming confidence
Damnation: punish the wicked
Dust: worthy sacrifice
Woman: assurance of superiority]
After drafting this list, Ves gained a much better idea on how to translate these concepts into a glow.
The simplest solution was to design a design spirit that encompassed all of these facets. Ves began to envision a spiritual entity that encapsulated all six aspects of hexisms. The design spirit would possess the ability to activate one glow at a time that was most appropriate to the situation at hand.
For example, in the event of an even battle, a dose of confidence from the phase of life might give the Hexers a mental edge! However, the phase of life also emphasized the preservation of life, so they shouldn't act too recklessly.
In the event of a losing battle, the phases of death and dust would definitely be able to show their value.
If retreat was possible, then the phase of death would be able to do much to keep the Hexers focused on what was necessary.
If retreat was blocked or a sacrifice had to be necessary, then the phase of dust would help keep the doomed Hexers calm in order to do whatever they could to make the Fridaymen bleed!
If possible, these glows should also come with a suppressive element!
Certain phases were more helpful in suppressing the Fridaymen than supporting the Hexers. The phase of godhood mainly served to empower the Hexers while the phase of woman would be very helpful in making the Fridaymen feel as weak in front of the superior side!
His ambition for his Hexer mech grew as Ves fleshed out his vision more and more. While he started off with a modest support mech, Ves soon began to let his imagination go wild as he envisioned a full-blown aura mech!
If he could realize this vision, then it was definitely possible for his Hexer mech to swing the Komodo War in the same fashion as his Desolate Soldiers affected the Sand War!
Yet.. as Ves considered how he could possibly create a design spirit that encompassed all of these functions, his confidence faltered to a degree.
It was not so easy to create such a powerful design spirit!
Ves did not have much confidence that he would be able to create such a spiritual product.
I need the right ingredients.
He thought back how he created Ylvaine's spiritual fragment. Back then, he obtained a spiritual remnant from the Great Prophet and managed to amplify it into something greater. The fragment fully embodied an aspect of Prophet Ylvaine to a degree that Ves could never replicate with his imagination!
With his limited and highly-flawed understanding of hexism, Ves was not qualified to create a hexism design spirit!
The only viable solution therefore was to derive the necessary faith and spiritual ingredients from an existing hexism relic.
Ves turned to Gloriana with a pleading expression. Can I borrow one of your altars?