Chapter 2:

Awakening [Part 2]

Chained Regalia

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

The question continually rang in my mind.

I had trouble keeping up with what this woman was saying, but it seemed like her ‘quest’, as she put it, was pretty dangerous. Her exact words were, “I seek to reclaim my kingdom from those monsters.” I’d normally think a fantastical line like that was just some half-baked joke, but something bothered me about that interpretation. The conviction with which she said it, the armor she wore, and the terrifyingly sharp sword she held all stood out to me. Either she was quite the skilled actress, who, for whatever reason, was overly eager to mess with me, or…

Her clothing and weapon had struck me as odd from the start, but I still couldn’t pinpoint why. My memories remained very hazy, so although it felt abnormal, I was unable to conjure up what ‘normal’ should look like in my head.

All of these questions were eating away at me, but, ultimately, none of that mattered. Perhaps it was foolish, but I was already on the verge of fully believing her for one simple reason. A single thing she had said was enough to convince me.

“When you said a Chain is a spirit, what exactly did you mean by that?”

“All Chains were once lost souls of the dead whose desire to live again prevented them from fully passing on.”

My memory was hazy, but there was one thing I knew for sure. Even if I couldn’t recall the context, I had no doubt in my mind: I had died. I was certain of that fact.

Yet, I was here. I had been in that void, but something had pulled me out. At least some of what she was telling me was true. But could I really trust her? Based on what she was saying, it wasn't as though she rescued me for purely altruistic reasons.

“So if I’m getting this right,” I began, “you summoned me here as your servant familiar? You brought me back to life in exchange for my help with something?”

She nodded, then replied, “That is mostly correct; however, saying I ‘brought you back to life’ is perhaps an overly idealistic interpretation. You have not been restored to your original form. A Chain is something fundamentally different; you are not quite of the living, but neither are you still dead.”

I must’ve had a confused expression on my face because she quickly clarified her statement. “You are more or less capable of living a life like a regular person, but your existence is fundamentally tied to mine. You are dependent on my lifeforce to exist, for you possess none of your own. By summoning you as my Chain, our souls have been linked.”

It appeared my obligation to assist her ran deeper than simply repaying a debt out of goodwill; it really did seem like I had no choice in the matter.

Making no effort to hide my frustration, I asked, “So what exactly do you intend for me to do as your Chain?”

“Chains are immensely powerful creatures. As a general rule, they are summoned to be warriors for their Chainbearer. I merely ask that you lend me your power and fight by my side.”


“Merely!?” Before I realized it, I spat out that sentiment.

Surprised by my sudden outburst, the woman took half a step backwards, as if exercising caution.

Without thinking, I continued, “It’s not like I’m ungrateful for you summoning me here, but this is insane! I don’t know what it is exactly you expect me to fight, but given that sword you’re holding, I’m guessing it’ll be deadly!” I averted my gaze to the floor, and my voice became a mumble. “I… I can’t do something like that. You’ll just be sentencing me to death. Again.”

Silence. She didn’t reply. I slowly looked up from the floor. Her position had shifted. She was looking towards the wall to my left, and, for some reason, she was squeezing her right arm with her left hand. At first, she had a blank look on her face, but after a few seconds, her lips curved into a sad smile. I couldn’t tell which one of us was the target of her pity.

By the time she spoke again, she still wasn’t looking at me. “You’re not wrong,” she said softly. “What I’m asking of you really is cruel. I have no excuses.” She shut her eyes and raised her voice. “But I have to fight! It is my duty. To not fight would be to abandon my people, both those that remain and those that have fallen.” She opened her eyes again and finally turned to look at me. She looked to be on the verge of crying, but no tears fell. “So I will be cruel if I must. Please, lend me your strength.”

Her earnest plea was moving, but…

I can’t. I just can’t. It’s not that I don’t want to help, but it’s simply beyond me.

“I’m… too weak. I can’t help you. I’m sorry.” I didn’t know why I was so convinced of this fact. My memories were too incoherent still to take an objective look at who I was, yet I was certain it was true.

I’m not strong. I was never strong. I never will be.

I didn’t care anymore if what she asked of me was cruel or not. “I don’t have the strength to help you.” Her intentions weren’t foul. I hoped she would find success.

But I won’t be able to help her. My presence can only hold her back.

“You said something earlier about ‘releasing’ me. If you do that, you could summon a different Chain to help you, right?” I didn’t even know for sure if someone could only have one Chain at a time in the first place, but if I was leeching off of her lifeforce just to exist, the number she could maintain was probably limited.

Rather than respond to my question, she exhaled in what felt like exasperation. Then, she turned around and walked away from me, headed towards the far wall. Her body had been blocking it from my sight before, but I could now see that there was a long object propped up against the wall. She walked towards it and lifted it up. Tilting the thing with one hand, she inserted the sword held in her the other hand into it. She fastened this object—which I now supposed was probably a scabbard—to the belt she wore just beneath her breastplate.

Turning around once more, she headed in my direction before stopping in front of me. Hands now free, she knelt slightly and offered one to me. Somewhat surprised, I took her hand, and she pulled me to my feet.

As quick as our hands touched, they parted, and she wordlessly continued walking towards the wall facing my back. I still had yet to look behind me, and when I turned, I saw a large wooden door. Already having reached it, she placed both hands on the wood and pushed. It looked heavy, but under the full force of her shove, it creaked open. Sunlight flooded into the room from the newly exposed hole, and I could hear the sound of birds chirping.

She took one step outside, then turned halfway to look at me. “Are you coming?”

“Eh? Wait, but—”

“Just hurry up. It is not exactly safe in this area. We should head back before it gets dark.”

“Hold on! I already told you. I’m sorry, but I can’t help you. You can release me; it’s okay.”

She turned away from me again and loudly clicked her tongue. “Only someone with a strong desire to live again can become a Chain. I already told you that. Now hurry up. Let us go before it’s too late.”

Earlier, she had made ‘releasing’ me sound like a threat.

But… did she never have any intention of doing so? Even if I refused her commands?

I had no idea what to make of her. One moment, she’d act all entitled, but in the next, she’d be sympathetic towards me.

Left with no other choice, I set out after her.
Syed Al Wasee
MyAnimeList iconMyAnimeList icon