The Consequence of Saving the World
“Let. Go. Of me!”
With my arm coiled around his neck, Rolf’s words struggled to leave his throat. It didn’t matter how strong he was when so many of us were holding him down.
This scene reminded me a lot of my childhood. The other boys would sometimes let a pig out for fun only to chase it, dogpile on the poor creature and wrestle it to the ground. The pig would be left squealing and crying as five or six of them would just do this for sport. I could never stop them and the adults always let them off with a slap on the wrist. It was horrible.
Yet here I was, wrestling with a beast several times my size. Women and children joined me in immobilising the bandit chief. It was unexpected, but a welcome, for sure.
And like that, the battle was all but over.
Still, even though I didn’t say anything, all the pilgrims knew that we couldn’t let up even one bit. All of us were starting to get soaked in Rolf’s and our own sweat. I didn’t know about them, but my entire body was as worn out as an old sandal.
What was even more worrisome was my right arm. The deformed shape and bruising was a hideous sign that it was broken. While there was miraculously no pain, I still tried not to look at it.
Thankfully, it wasn’t too long after that for the cavalry to arrive.
I let out a sigh of relief as Sereya rushed back with Ain and Anita behind her without a scratch on any of them.
“Looks like you got it under con—What in the world?” Sereya’s expression suddenly turned red, “What sort of play is that?!”
Get your head out of the gutter you moron!
“A little help please?” I begged her from my uncomfortable state.
“O-Oh right. Everyone, it’s safe to let go now.”
With Sereya’s reassurance, all of us eased up and quickly crawled away from Rolf, still catching his breath and recovering.
“Oh no—your arm!” with a shocked gasp, Sereya rushed over to my side.
Her eyes immediately started to tear up as she gently inspected my forearm.
“I’m so sorry, I should have gotten back sooner! This is all my fault!”
Eh? Why was her reaction so big?
“I thought you expected this to happen since you even told me ‘don’t die.’”
“I didn’t want you to fight him, you idiot! I thought you'd talk your way out or come up with something, not put your life at risk!”
It was a bittersweet feeling. Seeing her in tears hurt me as well. At the same time, there was a strange sense of comfort and belonging from knowing that she got this worked up for me.
“U-Uncle, are you okay? Does it hurt?” Ain’s voice trembled with concern as she came over to my side as well.
“I’m fine, I’m fine. It doesn’t hurt.”
Yeah, not now, at least.
Ain’s expression began to warp as she saw how messed up my arm looked. She too, looked like her eyes were getting wet. Instead of crying, she suddenly pointed at Sereya.
“This is all your fault! You were taking so long to tie Talbot up, if you had let me handle it, this wouldn’t have happened!”
“I saved your life, you twerp!”
Chill Sereya, chill! She’s just a child!
“You only have one hand! What makes you think you can tie someone up against a tree with just ONE HAND?!”
Okay, Ain. Just because you are correct doesn’t mean you are right.
I didn’t know if it was a good thing or a bad thing for Anita to be busy tending to the pilgrims for her not to notice this argument. I would’ve said something, but if there’s one thing that living with mum and Eveline had taught me, it was to never butt into a fight between girls if both parties were hurling insults at each other.
“Oh? So it’s my hand now, huh?” Sereya got up. Wait wait wait, why were you getting up?! “You wanna throw hands with me? You have two, I have one, we’ll see how it turns out.”
“Mum used to say, ‘pick on someone your own size’, but now I know how little you really are.”
This escalating tension was alarming, but I think I just saw Rolf getting up. Did Sereya notice that?
“If I was your mum, you’d be staying in the orphanage!”
“Better than staying in a stuck-up castle and ending up like you!”
“Harghhhh!” Rolf roared as he charged in our direction! C’mon, now’s not the time to—
He rushed at us, throwing a wide hook that would’ve gotten all three of us. He clearly swung his arm, yet for some reason, it didn’t connect.
I turned around, only to see that Rolf had lost half of his right forearm! The remaining half was just lying on the ground, sliced clean off.
I saw it in his face—the look of utter confusion and fear. There was no pain. This had to be a result of Sereya’s Invisible Blade technique. Heck, the cut was so inhumanly precise, it didn’t even draw blood!
Well, that’s what you get for butting in a girl fight.
“My a-arm—what have you done?!” he whimpered.
“That’s what you get for laying a finger on my boyfriend!”
“My arm! My arm! No! This can’t be happening!”
He was screaming and wailing in shock and disbelief. While I did pity him, his size made his voice far too loud. It was seriously getting annoying. Even Ain covered her ears.
“Hey!” Anita yelled to get his attention, “If you keep moving around so much, you’re going to bleed. Take your severed arm, reattach it and hold it in place.”
I had the same response as Rolf. Was something like that even possible?
Anita sighed and explained further, “If she really wanted to, she would’ve cut your head off instead. Unless you want to end up like her, put your arm back together and stop whining.”
“Hey!” Sereya expressed her displeasure from being referred to.
Rolf quickly grabbed the remaining part of his hand and placed it back to the stump on his right arm, holding it still like a cobbler assembling the sole to a shoe.
“Right, where was I?” Sereya turned to face Ain once more, “So, do you still wanna—”
I interjected, “Sereya, earlier you said err, boyfriend?”
I figured I could distract her from her argument by pulling that point from earlier, but frankly, it was embarrassing. Her flushed cheeks were proof of that.
Well, both of us had feelings for each other, but we never really ironed out or established our exact relationship. Also, she blurted it out in front of everyone else. What’s the plan now?
“I, um, well uh…” I’ve never seen her this flustered before, “What?! You have a problem with that?”
Oh, so she just threw the ball back to me? Brilliant.
I really didn’t know how to proceed, bearing in mind the potential repercussions of having our relationship known to the world. In cases like this, where the shot has been fired and there was no way of ascertaining the consequences, just winging it and being honest would be for the best, I guessed.
“No, no problem with that! I’m relieved to hear it from you.”
Gosh, her face looked so red, it was as if she was on fire.
“No way, the two of you are d-dating?!”
It was Ain’s turn to get shocked.
Anita approached us with the rescued women and children behind her.
“The two of you, thank you so much!”
She got on her knees and bowed to Sereya and me, along with the rest of the pilgrims. Seeing them do this made me pretty uncomfortable.
I got up and begged, “Please stand up! It’s not just me, if it weren’t for all of you guys helping me at the end, I’d be a goner.”
Anita replied, “I didn’t know what past injury caused you to fight in such a weak state, but your courage is no doubt befitting of your Dragon-rank.”
“Yup!” Ain backed her mother up, “At first, I thought you were actually Evansmith, but with your arm broken so easily, there’s no way you could be him! Even though you’re weak, I’m just glad that you’re still Uncle!”
“Ain!” her mother reprimanded.
I was grateful that everyone was happy and it all turned out okay, but it still felt a bit awful to not be recognised as ‘myself’ because of my weakness.
“One more thing—Ain, aren’t you forgetting to thank someone?” her mother put her on the spot.
The little girl was clearly conflicted. Her worst enemy had saved her life. Her face was struggling to say the words, but she eventually was able to look Sereya in the eye.
“Thanks, I guess.”
Instead of acknowledging her thanks sincerely, the smug look on her face seemed like she was more intent on establishing dominance over the little girl.
“Just because you saved my life, doesn’t mean you’ve won!”
“So, what are you gonna do to change that, hmm?”
Just like that, another petty squabble was spawned between a child and the strongest swordswoman in all of Fallcross. Even though they were fighting, it felt good knowing that they were finally talking to each other. It was still a long way from becoming friends, but an improvement, nonetheless.
If you asked me, I’d say that Sereya did win after all.