Chapter 10:

I Actually Do Something Useful

Fighting For My Freedom In Another World

The blade descended towards me without anything I could do to stop it. Bookmark here

But I wasn’t the only one there, and the two men did make one mistake: they were too focused on me, and didn’t keep their eyes on Alena, who still was on the ground behind them from earlier, and not nearly as unconscious as her lack of movement easily could have made you assume. Bookmark here

The princess got up and on her feet in a single swift motion, then kicked the man about to kill me just before he could actually bring his sword down. Bookmark here

He stumbled to the side, fell over, dropped the sword, and after flying through the air for a second it hit the ground beside me, a little too close for comfort. It was standing upright right next to my face, the edge buried in the ground. Bookmark here

That drew the two men’s attention away from me. Bookmark here

The man that had been kicked was still on the ground, while the one wearing the armour turned towards Alena instead, his weapon still firmly in his hand. He, of course, had no idea the girl he had in front of him was actually the very princess he was looking for. Considering he wanted to kill her anyway, maybe it didn’t make much of a difference...Bookmark here

“I was actually considering letting you go after the princess was dead. I honestly was”, the man shook his head, “You could just have taken the chance to run away, even. But I guess you’ll just have to die first.”Bookmark here

The man knocked the princess down on the ground again. While she tried to resist, it was fair from a fair fight, with the man being entirely armoured and of much larger stature than the rather small princess. Bookmark here

He raised his sword. It was clear what was about to happen. Bookmark here

Alena had saved me just a minute earlier. But there was no one around to save the princess herself now that she was facing the same predicament… if I didn’t, there was no one else. Bookmark here

I needed to do something.Bookmark here

But what?Bookmark here

There was nothing I could do. Like I was now, there was absolutely nothing at all I could ever hope to accomplish that would have even the smallest chance of saving her. Bookmark here

Which meant I needed to change, fast. Within the next few seconds. Bookmark here

Change, and manage to use the one weapon I actually could have at my disposal, if I figured out how I was actually supposed to do that. Bookmark here

I was supposed to be able to use magic. I had, just a single day earlier. Bookmark here

What was different between now and then?Bookmark here

How had I felt back then? How had the impending doom I faced felt? Bookmark here

Like I was about to die? Like I didn’t want to die? Bookmark here

Like I was afraid of what was coming? Bookmark here

Like it would hurt, like it would be intensely painful, rip away the new chance at life I only just had been granted?Bookmark here

No, that wasn’t it.Bookmark here

I felt like I was getting closer and closer, but at the same time none of it was quite right. Bookmark here

Why, why couldn’t I make it work? Bookmark here

This body had belonged to a witch, who by the sound of it hadn’t just been able to use magic freely, but had excelled at it to an absurd extent. Why, then, couldn’t I manage to use not even the slightest shred of said magic exactly when I needed it the most? Bookmark here

The blade mercilessly swung down upon the princess.Bookmark here

Like I… Like I was about to lose something important. Bookmark here

That was how it had felt. Bookmark here

And right now, I didn’t want to lose Alena. Bookmark here

Perhaps I had only known her for one day. Maybe that was far too short a time to grow truly close to anyone. But she was also the person I was the closest to in this world, maybe in any world — I hadn’t been with the princess for long enough to truly get to know her on a deeper level, but she had saved my life, and she seemed friendly, and that was at least something. Bookmark here

Time could certainly help people grow closer, but time alone wasn’t enough to forge a truly deep bond either, and in my past life it had never been enough.Bookmark here

Time, and my own efforts, hadn’t been enough in my past life. Bookmark here

Hadn’t been enough, ever. Bookmark here

This time would be different. Bookmark here

And that all started here, this very moment. Bookmark here

Flames roared up around my hands, forming a blazing disk, a shield of flames. Bookmark here

The flames themselves didn’t actually save the princess.Bookmark here

But the distraction they provided did. They didn’t just quietly manifest, but showed up with a ferocious roar, loud enough to make the man with the sword look my way instead of dealing the killing blow to the princess. Bookmark here

Those precious few additional seconds were what gave Alena time to move away from the man, and for me to throw myself at him. The flames around my hands were surprisingly solid, enough that I thought I would probably be able to use them as a shield if needed. Bookmark here

Having some sort of magic on my side greatly changed things. Now, of course, there was still a minor problem that remained. Bookmark here

I had absolutely no idea how to fight, and somehow the one thing I had managed to use my magic for was to conjure up a shield, something which generally tends to be at its most useful when used in close combat. Bookmark here

I thrust it at the armoured man. I do realise that wasn’t how a shield is supposed to be used, but I didn’t really have any better ideas at the time. Bookmark here

Admittedly his reaction did fall somewhat outside the scope of my calculations. Bookmark here

I thought he would have backed off, that magical fire, of all things, would have been enough to make someone at least hesitate. Bookmark here

That was a miscalculation: magic was common in this world. People here were used to seeing it… and as much as it could be dangerous, that also meant anyone who needed to fight would probably at least be as prepared as they could be to deal with. Bookmark here

In the case of this particular man, rather than backing down, he charged right at me instead. I instinctively held up the makeshift shield my flames had formed, if nothing else at least attempting to block his sword. Bookmark here

“The weapons and armour in this world are immune to magic!”, the princess shouted from somewhere off to the side, seemingly only just having seen what was about to go down, too late for me to actually do anything about it. Bookmark here

Just as she belatedly had warned me, the sword cut right through my fire.Bookmark here

It still missed. Bookmark here

It wasn’t anything more than pure luck, but the sword glanced past leaving only a single small scratch. I had flinched when the princess suddenly shouted, and I had twisted to the side ever so slightly when the implications of what she had shouted reached my brain. On their own neither would have been enough, but together they were almost just enough. Bookmark here

I only sustained a small cut on the side of my arm, but that was all. Bookmark here

The cut stung, but didn’t look too immediately dangerous, and barely even bled. It wasn’t more than a minor cut at worst. Bookmark here

I could handle it. It wasn’t a serious injury… even if it hurt a bit.Bookmark here

To make things slightly better, I wasn’t the only one things seemed to have stung a bit for. As much as I would have liked to say that my movement was the only reason I hadn’t been hit, in this case I couldn’t really take all the credit. Bookmark here

There was another reason for why I hadn’t been hit harder, other than the man that tried to kill me being absolutely awful at aiming: the sword may have gone through the barrier of flames without issues, but the man still flinched the moment his hand came in contact with the fire. Bookmark here

Perhaps his sword could cut through my flames, and perhaps they couldn’t directly penetrate his armour. Bookmark here

But going by his reaction, the heat was still making it through. Bookmark here

The man took some distance from me. Back towards where the princess had been before, but by now she had already moved far away from there, probably not too eager to partake in a fight involving very sharp and pointy and potentially lethal weapons.Bookmark here

The man dressed in the tunic had also gotten up, but he didn’t look particularly eager or raring to go. What was in his eyes, it was… reluctance? He was just staying behind and watching me and the armed man, not making any move to resist. Bookmark here

He did not, however, have his sword. The princess was safekeeping it a few dozen meters away, safely out of his hands and with no risk of him misusing it. Bookmark here

This was now down to a one-on-one fight between me and the armoured man. We stood about twenty meters apart, him with sword in hand and me with flames wrapped around mine. Bookmark here

So far, all I had managed to use the magic I had been granted for was to protect. Protect myself, protect the princess. It lined up with who I always had been. Bookmark here

But this time, that wouldn’t be enough. I couldn’t win a fight by just defending myself until the opponent got tired of hitting me and gave up. There was no way I would last that long. I was still tired from not having slept enough, my body still ached from having been treated roughly while it was in captivity. I could barely use my magic even at my best. Bookmark here

I needed to find a way to hurt this man before he killed me.Bookmark here

I needed to, but I didn’t want to. Bookmark here

My mind was pushing back with all the effort it could give as soon as I thought anything remotely resembling a desire to hurt him. In my past life I had conditioned myself to always put others first, and to avoid conflict. That included not hurting anyone.
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So what did I do now, when the one thing I needed to do was the very same one I had trained myself not to?Bookmark here

Was there any way out of this predicament?Bookmark here

A way to win this fight without any more people ending up dead, without anyone even getting hurt beyond the damage that already had been caused, before my own stamina ran out… a way to make the man facing me give up, and fast. Bookmark here

A horrific possibility flashed through my mind. Bookmark here

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