Disappointing. Not only was the target a lookalike, but the terrorists were more incompetent than you thought. You stride into the commander’s tent and salute to the officer sitting at a desk.
“Colonel Kasia Del Roman reporting.”
“Welcome back. Is Ahmad dead?”
Who is this man? Is he a new transfer? He looks familiar for some reason.
“The target in the city was a lookalike.”
“I see. There aren’t many who would admit their mistakes.”
Turning around, you see a soldier aiming his smoking gun at you.
Coughing blood, your legs lose their strength and buckle underneath you.
The officer gets up and stands in front of you.
You look up at his face.
He’s…from Camp X!
He pulls out a handgun and aims it at your forehead.
“I never liked that look in your eyes.”
He then gives you a cruel smirk.
“If you have any last words, say them. If you beg for your life now, maybe I’ll change my mind…maybe.”
So it’s come to this…at last.
“Why are you smiling?”
You roll the capsule in your mouth to the back of your jaws.
Sage’s puzzled frown contorts into a mask of fury and panic.
“NO! HOLD HER DOWN! STOP HER!! NOOO!!!”
You bite down hard…
It’s finally the end. It’s finally over…
You hear gunshots around you as you lose consciousness…
How long has it been?
It feels like you’re drifting through nothingness. Somehow, you find it comforting.
“You must go back again.”
To where? To whom? Why?
A blinding light fills your sight…
You blink and see…a blue sky?
Urgh! You ache all over for some reason.
“Over here! She’s still alive!”
You see…people standing over you. A nurse…?
“Alive? Like this?!”
Your nose is assailed by a stench of rot and…gunpowder?
No…not another battlefield?!
Crimson Karma (진홍의 카르마, Jinhong-ui Kaleuma) is a web novel and web comic written by LemonFrog (레몬개구리, Lemongaeguli).
Betrayed by her comrades and threatened by someone from her past, U.S. Colonel Kasia Del Roman commits suicide by breaking a capsule containing a deadly virulent agent in her mouth. Dying to the fading sounds of gunshots, Kasia embraces the cold comfort of death only to regain consciousness some time later. Badly injured but alive, she quickly learns that she is not on Earth anymore. Instead, she is in a medieval-era country called Calistonia where she is a young female knight also named Kasia. According to her caretakers, she was the only survivor of a huge magical explosion that wiped out countless soldiers. Unsurprisingly, Kasia has no memory of her life on the new world before this incident.
During her recovery, Kasia learns that, as a knight, she serves Prince Tasel, the second prince of the Calistonian Empire who is currently commanding an army against the rebellious first prince, Caylen, in the name of their father Emperor Altherion. After accidentally learning about Kasia’s assassination skills, Prince Tasel sends her on a secret mission to rescue his mother, Queen Elena, from house arrest at the Karina Palace.
At the top of a dingy tower at the palace, Kasia finds the queen starved to death, neglected by her own guards. She realizes that the Emperor kept Elena’s death a secret in order to keep Tasel under his thumb. The civil war between Emperor Altherion and Prince Caylen was likely an elaborate ruse to kill Tasel, who was long hated by his own family apart from his mother, and his allies. After Kasia brings the queen’s corpse back to Tasel, the prince officially ends his allegiance to the Emperor and becomes the leader of his own Imperial faction.
At the border city of Derun, Tasel sets up a temporary headquarters and invites his allies to join him. The second prince’s army is reorganized and Kasia is appointed as commander of a new covert squad specializing in espionage and assassination. For this purpose, she puts her new subordinates through extremely harsh training. Later, Kasia is given a mission to investigate Prince Caylen’s army. On the way, she encounters the Imperial archmage Ernon, one of the Empire’s most powerful wizards and one of Caylen’s supporters. Posing as a mercenary, Kasia hires herself out to Ernon as a bodyguard as a way to learn information on the inside. She eventually learns that the archmage has a magical seal of obedience placed on him by his own father, Duke Alistas.
Meanwhile, Emperor Altherion is working on finding a way to become the inheritor of Caladbolg, a legendary magic sword said to belong to the hero who will bring prosperity to Calistonia.
Kasia, formerly Kasia Del Roman, a 22-year old low-born knight of the Aruelo Order, assassin and commander of Prince Tasel’s covert squad. Detached, diligent, level-headed and observant, she is a seasoned war veteran who goes to almost any lengths necessary to succeed in her missions. On Earth, Kasia had a death wish and lived only for her success of her missions. On her new world, she is gradually learning how to feel the emotions she suppressed long ago. Kasia retains all her skills as an assassin and a military officer from her previous world, making her one of Tasel’s most valuable allies. In addition, she now has some potential to use magic, which she mostly uses to find those hidden from her sight around her.
During her escape from war-torn Lebanon as a child, Kasia Del Roman watched her mother throw herself overboard from the refugee boat that was transporting them to Europe in order to prevent capsize. After living as a vagrant for some time, she was taken by a soldier to a secret military training camp known only as Camp X. There, Kasia was constantly and ruthlessly trained, along with countless other children, to kill without hesitation. She later joined the United States Army where she swiftly rose through the ranks, eventually becoming a Colonel. There, she gained a reputation as an unsympathetic, pragmatic commander who achieves victories that minimize overall losses, no matter who dies in the process, be they soldier or civilian. Because of this, she was hated, yet grudgingly respected, by those who worked with her.
Tasel Kan Amaris, second prince of the Calistonian Empire and rebel leader. Attentive, considerate and somewhat troubled, he is an intelligent man who weighs the opinions of those around him to make tough decisions. Tasel’s mother, Elena, was a princess from a country that the Calistonian Empire conquered many years ago. Because that war resulted in the death of one of the Emperor’s favorite generals, Elena was constantly abused by her husband and ostracized by most of the Calistonian nobles despite her status as queen. When Tasel was born, he came to be abused and hated as well. Because of this, Tasel is deeply suspicious of nobles in general and tends to trust commoners more.
Ernon, an Imperial archmage aligned with the army of first Imperial prince Caylen. Curious, confident and a bit sadistic, his bored, indifferent expression hides a deeply troubled man. The son of an aristocrat, Duke Alistas, and a prostitute, Ernon was ignored and neglected by his father until his potential for magic (indicated by his bright violet eyes) was discovered. Despite this, the duke sees his bastard son only as a useful pawn for his own schemes, having placed a magical seal on him years ago to ensure his obedience. Because of this, Ernon deeply resents those who seek to control his life. He sees Kasia, whom he nicknames “Etelle”, as the one bright spot in his miserable life of enforced servitude and is teaching her how to better use her innate talent for magic. A powerful wizard, Ernon particularly enjoys using flight and teleportation, since these spells afford him a degree of freedom away from prying eyes.
This is an interesting, if slow-paced, story. Thrust into the midst of a civil war in a country where prejudices against commoners and women run strong, Kasia once again struggles to survive but also gradually finds appeal in those who believe in fighting and living for the sake of others. She eventually becomes protective of these people and even learns to consider them friends. In time, Kasia learns to feel love, but is somewhat scared of this because she is afraid of the anguish she felt when she saw her mother drown. An interesting take on a female lead character with a reverse harem!
This story also shows the darker side of humanity, as expected of its cynical outlook. Most of Calistonia’s aristocrats are arrogant snobs who look down their noses on anyone beneath their station. The Emperor, known to his people as the hero who founded the Calistonian Empire, is a cruel, capricious narcissist who wants to destroy anything that could threaten his rule or his public image. The soldiers assigned to Kasia deeply resented being under the command of a low-born woman and, when they first learned about her, planned to beat and gang rape her into submission. Only when the assassin beats them to pulp do they learn to reluctantly respect her.
Life isn’t always happy and it often becomes a tiring struggle for many, but it becomes much more worthwhile when we find a purpose that helps others. There are many ways to help others such as teaching, doing chores for family and working on projects that benefit many people such as a power station. Somehow, when we know we have helped to improve life, we feel better about ourselves. Even small acts of kindness allow us feel better, but we must be careful about who and what to help.
Life is a struggle to survive, but helping others makes it more worthwhile.