Chapter 1:

Awakening [Part 1]

Chained Regalia

“Awaken, Chain of Estellous’ Blade!”

Huh? Sound? How?

Everything was hazy. I could barely think, but I knew I had heard something. That shouldn’t be possible, but I had. In fact, the mental haze I had was strange as well; it was definitely something I had never quite felt while there. My memory must have been hazy as well, as I couldn’t pinpoint where, or even what, ‘there’ was.

If I could hear, then surely I could see as well. I tried to open my eyes, but I honestly didn’t expect anything to happen. For some reason I wasn’t sure of, I was certain I didn’t have a body. Yet, when I forced the eyes of my non-existent body to open, they did—though what they took in was also a hazy blur. My head was gradually starting to clear up little by little, and after blinking a few times, the image I saw sharpened from an incoherent watercolor mixture to a few discrete shapes of various colors. Not ideal, certainly, but an improvement.

“Good. It looks like you have started to come to.”

The sound returned. Although I had been unsure the first time around, I was now cognizant enough to realize it was a voice. I still lacked the presence of mind to parse the qualities of the voice—pitch, inflection, etcetera—that might indicate who this person was, but I could just vaguely process the meaning of the words.

They’re talking to me, probably. Well, I guess I have no idea if there are other people waking up beside me, so I can’t say for sure.

I tried to speak, but all that came out was a brief, feeble moan. I probably needed to let my eyes and ears catch up before I tried using my other organs. I tried placing all of my focus into scrutinizing the canvas before me. Several distinct shapes sat still in the center of my vision, but my attention was drawn away from them to a distinct, bright color that topped the mass of lines and curves.

Feeling was beginning to return to my nerves. An external warmth beat against my head. I redoubled my concentration onto that bright color that captured my sight. It was an intense orange or red, like the color of flames. Perhaps it was the source of the warmth I felt? It only took a brief moment of consideration to reject that theory; it was far too static to be a flame.

The rate at which my vision cleared was increasing. The color was a darker shade than I had previously thought. It can’t be… blood? Once again, it took no time at all for me to realize that this too was incorrect. I could now piece together the basics of the scene. The shapes before me didn’t compose an object; they were a person. That crimson my eyes had been drawn to must have been their hair.

But that didn’t make sense. The color was unrealistic, far too bright to be real. Maybe it was dyed? My musings of trivial details were cut short by the voice again.

“Can you hurry this up? You’ve just sat there looking dumbfounded for quite a while. Will you at least say something?”

This time, my mind was functioning well enough to make out more than just the meaning of the words. The statement was curt and carried a definite, albeit light, hint of annoyance. The voice sounded feminine, so I guessed that the person standing in front of me was probably a woman.

After blinking a couple more times, my vision finally reached fully clarity. It was only then that I realized I had been on my knees the whole time; though, given I was likely unconscious before this, I should have expected I’d be on the ground. To either side of me were lit braziers that illuminated my surroundings, a circular stone chamber that extended higher than the firelight could reach. Depending on how far the darkness extended overhead, it could be a tower.

I returned my gaze to the individual standing before me. I could tell by their figure that, as I had guessed earlier based on the sound of their voice, they were indeed female. Finally getting a good look, my attention was drawn to their strange outfit. “Out of place” was my initial thought, but since I was completely unsure of where I was, maybe that judgement was misplaced.

She wore a simple, short bronze-colored dress that extended about halfway down her thighs. That alone, however, was not what struck me as strange. Rather, it was everything else she wore in tandem. Affixed to her torso was what I could only describe as a reddish-brown leather breastplate. Thin leather pauldrons of the same color were overlayed on both shoulders, with the arms of the dress pinned underneath stretching out past them, extending to just before her elbows. Her lower half was similarly decorated with layers of light armor; layered leather pants adorned her legs, and she wore a pair of long, fortified boots that appeared to double as greaves.

And then there was what she held in her hands. An unmistakable ornamental blade was clutched in her right hand, and she clung to the pommel with her left. The guard of the sword was a red reminiscent of her hair, a color which started from the hilt and continued along the blade’s fuller. Encasing this glistening red was a silver double-edged blade which looked equal parts fearsome and beautiful. It was clear from a glance that this sword was made for combat despite the emphasis on its aesthetics.

Finally, I looked at her face. Her brilliant crimson hair was tied back into a ponytail that hung behind her. Her bangs were left loose, and the several untied locks of hair that dangled in front of her ears framed her features.

I froze for a time and simply stared. Put simply, she was beautiful; I couldn’t tear my eyes away. Her eye color, too, matched her hair, and those two alluring flames consumed me.

I didn’t know how long it took me to wake up from that trance, but eventually I noticed her return gaze. And she was glaring daggers back at me.

I instinctively leapt backwards, but since I was on my knees, I basically just fell backwards onto my butt.

“I’m sorry! I-I didn’t mean to stare at you like that! I wasn’t thinking anything bad! I’m sorry, really!” I frantically gave excuses to the woman before me, drowning in both embarrassment and a little bit of fear too. That stare she gave was honestly sort of terrifying.

I had looked away when I had panicked, but I timidly returned my gaze to see how she reacted in turn. I expected the glare to still be there, but instead what I saw was a look of surprise. Our eyes met, and this time she was the one to avert them. “I was… um… just irritated you wouldn’t say anything when I asked you to… I-I see…” Her voice trailed off. She had apparently been oblivious as to why I had been staring, but seemingly having realized after the fact, she was now clearly blushing.

That reaction made me even more embarrassed, but at the same time, I couldn’t help but find it cute.

God, she probably thinks I’m super creepy right now. I haven’t thought anything bad, okay. I swear!

After a moment, she shook her head as if trying to jettison that topic from her mind. Taking a small breath (or maybe it was a sigh?), she finally looked at me again. A chill ran down my spine immediately. It wasn’t a glare like before, but rather a look of immense conviction that caught me wholly off-guard. I didn’t know how to react, or where this was even coming from.

Swiftly capturing my attention, she spoke, “I should at least introduce myself before anything else. I am Lucia of Allion…”


“… and I am last living heir to the Allion throne.”

What the hell is this?

“I know not what name you once held, but henceforth you will answer to the name ‘Layn’, just as every Chain housed within Estellous’ Blade has.”

I didn’t mean to interrupt whatever she was on about—not that I followed whatsoever—but, in a somewhat bewildered state, I found myself blurting out an irrelevant thought that had just popped into my head. “Why are you talking like that all of a sudden? You were talking pretty normal before, so what’s with the ‘know not’ and ‘henceforth’? It’s kind of weird…”

She didn’t reply right away. The intense look she had in her eyes disappeared for a moment and became something else.

Uh-oh, she’s glaring again.

“L-listen, you…” she replied in clear annoyance. “That’s just how I was taught to deliver speeches, alright?”

“Speech? Wait, so, like, does that mean you rehearsed this ahead of time?”


“So you intentionally added a dramatic pause before revealing you were royalty or whatever?”


She was blushing again. Just like the time before, I couldn’t help but appreciate how cute she looked at that moment.

“R-regardless!” After a brief moment, she snapped back from the detour I had caused. When she spoke again, her voice was serious and, in a way, solemn. The sudden shift in demeanor gave me chills, and I shivered in spite of myself.

“My homeland was decimated by the demons of this world. I seek to reclaim my kingdom from those monsters.” She stopped and shook her head lightly. “No, I will.”

She had already been looking at me, but it felt as if her gaze suddenly intensified. The feeling made me uncomfortable. And then she spoke again: “And you will aid me.”

… Huh?

“Wait a… hold on a second. What?” That was the best reply I could muster.

What is she even talking about? That story has to be made up, right?

“It is your duty as a Chain to serve your master.”


She sighed. “I summoned you here.”


“Stop repeating what I’m saying!” she snapped.

“Sorry, it’s just that… what are you talking about?”

“A Chain is a type of spirit. A servant familiar, of sorts.”

A spirit? But I’m… oh. That’s right.

“And you…”

I was in a strange place, wasn’t I?

“… are my familiar. My Chain.”

I was dead, wasn’t I?

“You have been granted a second chance at existence. In exchange for this gift, you will aid me on my quest. Your only choices are to accept this deal or be released and return to the void.”

I wanted to say something in reply, but it took all I had just to lie there and process everything I had just heard.

Is this offer a blessing? Or is it downright cruel?

As hard as I tried, I couldn’t find the answer to this question.
Ryuji Yamada
Syed Al Wasee
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