Chapter 23:

Hurt the Princess

Fighting For My Freedom In Another World

I let go of Alena’s hand once I felt like I could walk somewhat steadily on my own. .Bookmark here

Her hand and her arm alike both looked rather hideous, scarred by burns. She complained, but I didn’t want to risk leaving her exposed to my magic any further. As long as I could walk… That was good enough. Bookmark here

Was good enough. Got us almost halfway to the gate, in fact. Bookmark here

It turned out the most violent part of the fighting was taking place closer to the exit.Bookmark here

Another armoured soldier came flying towards us, rather literally. They were soaring in midair, and flew straight into a building next to us. Would probably have hit us if we hadn’t moved out of the way because of the noise the soldier made when they were thrown airborne. Bookmark here

A woman came strolling out from the direction the flying soldier had arrived from, from behind the cover of a tall building. Bookmark here

She wasn’t armoured the same way every other combatant we had seen so far was. She was wearing a long black leather coat, and matching trousers. She had dark purple hair to go along with her clothes, and was remarkably tall in stature, probably more so than myself. Bookmark here

A smile spread across her face when she saw us. Bookmark here

Was it just me, or… Did I recognise her from somewhere?Bookmark here

“Have we seen this woman somewhere before?”
“I don’t know her name, but… Wasn’t she one of the companions of that… What was his name again? Ah, that Elias guy.”Bookmark here

“Oh, I… I kind of barely paid attention to those guys.”Bookmark here

A small bolt of lighting passed between our heads. We would have been hit if I hadn’t stumbled towards the princess, making us move from our original position. Electricity was crackling between our assailant's fingertips. This woman’s aim was not to be trifled with. Bookmark here

Somehow both Alena and I were mostly unscathed. My cheek stung a bit, but that was all. The princess didn’t even react, if she felt anything. Bookmark here

“If you want to chatter, you should have done so earlier. I don’t get paid enough to give a couple of lovebirds any last words.” Bookmark here

Made sense. If you were going to kill someone, would you just attack them while they’re distracted or for some inexplicable reason wait until they had finished discussing everything they wanted to talk about first? Bookmark here

My personal guess was that most people would choose the former. Bookmark here

“I take it you’re here because you want my life?”, Alena asked. Bookmark here

“That’s correct. I still feel like I should say I have no personal ill feelings toward either of you. But the money I will get, and the circumstances… Together they were rather convincing. Judging from your last few escapades, it doesn’t seem like that witch over there has realised the full extent of what she can do yet. We have judged it is time to take action, before you have the capability to do anything about it.”Bookmark here

“You were watching us? Who are you, exactly?”Bookmark here

“I will choose to leave that to your imagination. Bookmark here

She shot another bolt of lightning at us. Not one for words, was she? I conjured up a flaming shield that blocked the brunt of the attack, enough that we could stay on our feet. Bookmark here

Could have, if I hadn’t lost my balance right after and ended up back on my knees. I tried to get up again but couldn’t. Bookmark here

My magic was taking too much of a toll on me. Bookmark here

Not that I didn’t already know that. My vision was getting kind of blurry…Bookmark here

Focus. I tried to keep my gaze focused on the woman. I probably wouldn’t be able to block another blow. Wasn’t sure I’d even be able to try. Bookmark here

Alena stretched out her hand towards me. Bookmark here

I tried to do something without her help. Just anything would be good enough. I didn’t want to risk causing any permanent damage. I couldn’t put the princess in any more danger. Bookmark here

A few small flames appeared above my hand. They died out the moment I tried to do something with them. Bookmark here

I barely even knew if I was trying to attack or defend. What was I even trying to do? Bookmark here

I was… I was… I was? Was I… Bookmark here

My mind was feeling fuzzier and fuzzier. I barely even knew what was happening anymore. I had been confused the whole time since I came to this world, but this was different. Worse. I couldn’t think. Who was the girl beside me? Who was this woman trying to attack me? Who was… I? Bookmark here

A hand reached out for mine. Bookmark here

I instinctively grabbed it. Fire leaped from my hand to the inside of the hand that grabbed it.Bookmark here

Right, Alena. The princess.Bookmark here

I needed… Needed a different way to get power. A different way to get fuel for my magic. I couldn’t keep relying on her. She’d be burned out way before I could get us to safety.Bookmark here

And I didn’t want to hurt her. I was hurting her. But I didn’t want to. I needed to hurt her. But I couldn’t. Couldn’t not hurt her. Bookmark here

I didn’t want to cause her pain. I did want to hurt her. I didn’t want to hurt her too much. I could hurt her a little bit. I could maybe do it? We wouldn’t have a chance if I didn’t… Bookmark here

No. I couldn’t… I wouldn’t… I didn’t want to… I...Bookmark here

I… Bookmark here

What did I want? Bookmark here

Did it matter? Bookmark here

If I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do, all that mattered was what I needed. What I had to do. Bookmark here

Right. Bookmark here

All I needed to do was… To protect the princess. And to do that I needed to win the fight. Bookmark here

To fight, I needed to hurt the princess. Bookmark here

I needed to hurt the princess. Bookmark here

That was the answer. If I just increased the strength of these flames, let them burn as bright as I could, grow into a proper fire —Bookmark here

A thin bolt of lightning slammed into both me and Alena, leaping between us. I hit the wall of a nearby building, hard. It looked like she suffered a similar fate. Bookmark here

Even as my head was swimming from the shock, I was able to think more clearly than a moment ago. Bookmark here

Nothing about my reasoning from a moment earlier made any sense. What had I been thinking? By causing her more pain, I was somehow helping her? That made no sense. Bookmark here

I’d need to think things over properly later. Bookmark here

But this wasn’t the time for that. I needed a different way to fight. Something that wouldn’t need me to hurt the princess. Bookmark here

And I needed it now. Bookmark here

The woman was saying something. I couldn’t make out what. My brain wasn’t able to process it. Bookmark here

Electricity was flowing out from beneath her. It was coming towards us. But what could I do?Bookmark here

This body had belonged to someone so powerful, yet I was this weak...Bookmark here

If I only had been as strong as its prior inhabitant…Bookmark here

That thought was what made me realise. Bookmark here

The witch had been known for what, exactly? Killing? Theft? For petty, inconsequential crimes that didn’t affect more than a couple of people at a time?Bookmark here

Or for burning down whole cities without hesitation?Bookmark here

And what was already behind me? Bookmark here

Alena was wrong. I didn’t actually need to hurt anyone. Bookmark here

She was right about one thing. My magic did need some sort of fuel to function. Bookmark here

But that “fuel” didn’t need to be people. Bookmark here

I had something much better in mind.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.