Chapter 12:

Death Vow

REWIND: How To Commit Genocide in 48 Hours

Akabane's face turned red. Her lips pursed like she'd been caught doing something wrong in class.Bookmark here

Yuuki, whether he even realized it or not, took a step away from her as if to say, No, not me, teacher. She made me do it! So is that who he really was?Bookmark here

I might have even done the same, but just seeing his placid face as he slinked away from a problem infuriated me.Bookmark here

Where's your phone now?Bookmark here

Yuuki boy.Bookmark here

Black Mask's movements were, as always, legendarily imperceptible. In fact, when he drew the knife it may as well have been shapes slithering over his body, that's how smoothly he morphed around. In one quick frame: he plucked the pocket knife out of Yuuki's school jacket. Flicked it. Thrust it forward. Stopped inches away from Akabane's throat.Bookmark here

She looked anywhere but at Black Mask. Just a nightmare, dude. If you don't look it's not there. The knife with Clarkson's dried blood was as mythical as Santa.Bookmark here

Black Mask said, "See? Life or death situation, and not even a dribble of Sei. Well, if you don't have anything to say for yourself, then-"Bookmark here

Akabane stiffened, which is the closest you can get to yelling and jumping off a cliff when there's a knife pressed up against your throat. She was like a freshly baked pie ready to be cut.Bookmark here

"I-I don't - I do, uh, test me!"Bookmark here

Black Mask sighed. He slashed. Akabane's throat was eviscerated like a pig for slaughter and her hot blood splashed on my face. Some of it got in my mouth and I tasted copper. I felt queasy-Bookmark here

I blinked and she was alive, throat unharmed. She clutched at it as if to make sure it was still there and backed away from Black Mask.Bookmark here

"What-?"Bookmark here

Everyone else looked just as confused. Yuuki was rapidly blinking.Bookmark here

"I just killed you, miss." Black Mask raised the knife. "Quite honestly, I'm surprised that someone with no Sei potential has made it so far, but it's not unprecedented. Anyway, goodbye."Bookmark here

I screamed a word.Bookmark here

"Wait!"Bookmark here

"What is it, Kohei my boy?"Bookmark here

"Don't kill her! Please!"Bookmark here

"Please? That's very unheroic of you."Bookmark here

"P… please."Bookmark here

I dropped to the floor and bowed, grating my hands through the grass.Bookmark here

"Oh, stop with the theatrics. You saw a boy half your age being brave and now you want a piece of the cake?"Bookmark here

"No, I…"Bookmark here

Was that it? Was I trying to catch some of Renji's glory?Bookmark here

Please, don't let this be all I am.Bookmark here

"I…"Bookmark here

It makes no difference if I die here. If I don't try anything, if I let her be killed, I may as well just be dead.Bookmark here

You don't even know her. You've saved her life once, and now what? You wanna be a knight in shining armor or something?Bookmark here

When Asano was interrogating Renji during their fight, Renji hadn't been able to answer a single one of his questions.Bookmark here

Because hurting people is wrong!Bookmark here

I wanted to repeat that. But I didn't. Because that wasn't my truth. It was Renji's. This was my truth.Bookmark here

"When..."Bookmark here

If I went forward with this, where would my dignity go? It would float along like a tattered flag piece, a piece from a flag that was once a great nation, and land in a puddle. Who am I kidding? There's no greatness here.Bookmark here

"When I met my friend Yuuki-kun… I'd just been beaten up. I didn't do anything wrong. I was just protecting a sick bird. But they didn't care. Th-they just wanted something to hurt. So I thought it was better if they hurt me instead. I'm not a fighter. So… I won't fight you, because I don't have the courage. But I'll beg you… you're a God, right? So take my life, take my Sei, and give it to her."Bookmark here

"Oh, ho ho ho! I like this!"Bookmark here

Black Mask lowered the knife.Bookmark here

"So… do you swear on it?"Bookmark here

"I do."Bookmark here

"Sit up."Bookmark here

I lifted my torso, now on my knees. Black Mask performed the same knighting ceremony he did on Hermes, except he touched both shoulders twice.Bookmark here

"Say it again, Kohei my boy. Say, I swear on everything that I am and all I shall ever be."Bookmark here

I didn't want to think about what would happen next. I chugged out the words as quickly as possible. Tearing off the bandage.Bookmark here

"I swear on everything that I am and all I shall ever be."Bookmark here

"Aiko Desho - Seal."Bookmark here

Black Mask twisted and poked Akabane's forehead with the cane. It was the same action he performed on me that landed me in this world.Bookmark here

"There," Black Mask said. "You have just performed a Death Part Vow."Bookmark here

Akabane said, "What?"Bookmark here

He keeled over laughing. "Ohhh, that's good. Yeah, that's great."Bookmark here

"Death Part Vow?" I said.Bookmark here

"Heh, yeah!" Black Mask covered the part of his mask where his mouth would be. "Now - herg - if she dies, you die! You're bound permanently! Ah, to be mortal. Anyhow, I need to go laugh myself to death. Bye!"Bookmark here

I blinked and he was gone.Bookmark here

Ana Fowl
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