The Consequence of Saving the World
I endured the stinging sensation in my eyes as the saltiness of my sweat seeped in. My throat started to hurt from all the quick, dry breaths I was taking.
The fight barely lasted a minute and I was already panting like a dog. Were fights always this intense?
Sure, this wasn’t the first time I was engaged in combat—I’ve been in worse situations still. Whether it was against Remus or that random hooligan I bumped into my morning jog, I always held the element of surprise. Boy, I would give anything to have it back.
The cracks on the ground—scars left behind his heavy wooden club were a grim reminder that getting hit was a one way trip to the Goddess.
His words weren’t wrong. I truly felt like a mouse being cornered by a cat.
I only needed to maintain my evasive actions just a bit longer. Sereya should be coming back any time now.
My ankles screamed in dull agony as I forced myself back up. I mustn't let Rolf know that I was spent. Just keep moving and you’ll be fine, Evan.
Instead of attacking with reckless abandon like before, his steps were balanced and covered great distance no thanks to his size. His strategy was to put me in a position where I couldn’t avoid his attacks.
Even though I could see through his plan, forcing my body to keep up was easier said than done. His blows were relentless and calculated—each one an inch closer in cornering me and cutting off escape routes, each one another opportunity for me to stumble and fall.
Every time his club narrowly scraped past my face, I resisted the urge to just beg for mercy and surrender. The fear of getting seriously wounded was igniting a rebellion in my heart, one that I had to quell at all costs.
Eventually, I felt the cold cave wall hitting my back. As this sudden sensation sent warning signals to my mind, they were multiplied by the huge club coming straight at me from the side!
I reactively sat straight down to avoid it. I gritted my teeth, ignoring the burning feeling on my back from the friction against the wall. Tiny pieces of rock fell on top of my hair as his weapon left a gash on the wall where my head once was.
I pounced at the only opening I saw. Like an animal on all fours, I dove right between the two trunks he called legs and high-tailed to safety.
“Weaklings like you only know how to run, don’t you?”
And brutes like you only know how to hit air.
That’s what I would’ve responded with, if I wasn’t so occupied catching my breath.
I braced myself for another flurry of strikes. My eyes were glued onto his hands and legs, paying the utmost attention for any sign for me to start dodging again.
When he chose to look away from me, that was when I realised how badly I misjudged the situation.
I shouted at her as my voice cracked in desperation. Once more, I was too caught up in the moment trying to stay alive that I forgot the situation around me.
Anita was at the opposite end of the room. With Rolf standing in between me and her, there was no way I could get to her in time!
She scrambled for the exit, her eyes dilated in shock and fear. The bandit chief was closing in on her fast.
There was no time to think.
For the first time in this fight, I charged at Rolf. Even though it wasn’t my choice, it was my job to protect Anita. I’d rather die than let Ain see her mother’s corpse!
Sereya’s words snapped me back to reality, just in time to slide under Rolf’s sweeping attack. He set a trap just to lure me into this precarious position. I didn’t know how, but I survived that vicious swing.
I quickly got up and turned around to face the danger. He was winding up for a follow-up strike, but this time, I couldn’t dodge. My body could leap out of the way, but Anita was still within melee distance.
As his club came crashing down with great force and speed, there was no time for me to draw my sword and parry.
Left without any other option, I fortified my resolve and raised my right arm to block the attack.
That was the first thing I heard. It was a sound that a human body shouldn’t be making, but my forearm just made it.
My entire body shook for a brief moment, as if electricity spread from the point of impact down to my toes. It was dizzying, but the important thing was that I was still alive.
Before he could take another swing, I stood up and raised my knee before releasing my foot squarely onto his chest. I know for a fact that the kick wasn’t damaging, but it did succeed to push him several steps back. If it were a normal person, they’d probably be on their butt from that, but that was all I could manage with Rolf.
At the very least, Anita was no longer in any danger.
Still, this was no time to celebrate. I mustered whatever energy I had left to continue the battle, but to my surprise, it was Rolf who had stopped attacking.
Even though he just got kicked, the giant stood there, smiling at me—his unpleasant and decayed teeth lowered my opinion of him even more.
When I saw exactly what he was smiling at, my heart sank.
That’s…not how bones work.
My right forearm was bent in an unnatural shape. The horrifying sight of discolouration and brokenness almost made me puke.
My arm was numb the moment he hit me, so I hadn’t realised it until I actually looked at it. What was even more unsettling was the lack of pain. My arm had clearly snapped in half, but adrenaline had stopped me from feeling its effects.
“A light tap like that and you already broke your arm? This had to be the most disappointing fight I’ve ever been in.”
My ears were still ringing from the realisation of my broken arm that I could barely register what he was saying.
“I wanted to go out in a blaze of glory, and this is what you have in store for me? Why the hell would a weakling like you even try to pose as a Hero?! If I was Evansmith Mattheld, I’d be humiliated!”
You were dead on the money, Rolf.
“Heh. Hehehe. Hahahahahah!”
I didn’t know what came over me, but I started laughing. Whether it was a way to cope with my arm, or whether it was in response to his accurate insult, nobody knew.
“You’ve lost your screws, haven’t you?”
“Rolf, you still haven’t realised it? You said I’m weak and I don’t deny that, but tell me then—what in the world was that?”
I looked up to the ceiling right above him. He followed suit, trying to determine what was the cause for such a reaction.
There was none.
I grabbed a pebble next to me and hurled it right between his distracted eyes. It may be done in a hurry, but with a head that big, all those years of hunting rabbits felt like overkill for this throw.
He covered his face with his free left hand, cursing and wincing in pain. Sorry Rolf, but the weak had their own way of fighting, too. A sword was too complicated a weapon for me—surely someone as big and strong as yourself wouldn’t even bat an eye at a tiny stone now, would you?
Well, he did.
I rushed forward, avoiding the random flailing of his club. Without aid from his sight, these were the easiest attacks to dodge so far. He tried to turn around, but I was already behind him.
I jumped on his back, wrapped my legs around his waist and choked him with my left arm. If I had both arms, I would’ve used my necklace like what I did for Remus, but it was impossible to take off at the moment.
Either way, he started to claw frantically at nothing. Blind and out of air, I could only imagine how miserable he felt.
“What are you guys waiting for? RUN!”
I yelled to the pilgrims huddled in the back. I highly doubt I could keep Rolf at bay for long, so I prayed they could all make it out in time.
Sereya had cleared a path for them, and so did I. Seeing them get up and run filled me with relief, but I wasn’t about to ease up on my chokehold just yet.
Instead of running for the exit, what they did next blew my mind.
“What are you doing?! I said run!”
They didn’t run. They fought.
Women and children threw themselves at Rolf, biting him and holding him back as I did. Some took stones or used their shackles to pummel whichever part of his body they could reach.
With more than ten of us all wrestling him at once, the giant faltered. A single knee dropped to the ground, before another, before his entire body fell to the floor.
He struggled and writhed like a fish on dry land, but we pinned him and continued to wail on him.
It was a brutal scene, but in some strange way, it touched me. It felt satisfying in a way—to see the mighty oppressor being taken down by the weak and oppressed.
I told them to run, but these pilgrims did the opposite. I may not approve of their religion, but these women and children filled me with more pride than I had ever felt in my life.