Chapter 16:


Chained Regalia

Just then, it occurred to me that I had no idea what would happen if I was struck. I’d probably be sliced up and bleed as one would expect, but I presumably couldn’t die from that. Even if my manifestation is destroyed, it wouldn’t affect my soul in the vessel, right? I guess it would still hurt, though.

Of course, for all I knew, proper physical damage to my body would damage my soul, too. For some reason, it was this logical debate that overwhelmed my mind as Selina charged towards me.

Er… she probably won’t actually kill me though, so I probably shouldn’t worry—

Just then, she thrust the lance straight at my midsection.


I didn’t know if what followed was some innate survival instinct kicking in or if my training with Lucia had actually borne fruit, but my body reacted separately from my frozen mind. The attack was simple and head-on, so a quick sidestep was enough to avoid it entirely.

Because she had channeled her momentum into a thrust, she’d be unable to change the trajectory of the lance quickly, which gave me a perfect opening to act—just like Lucia had taught me. While her brute force training style was flawed in many ways, now that it came down to it, I couldn’t deny that I’d learned quite a lot from it. I didn’t have a weapon to strike with, but I made the split-second judgement to act regardless, bashing my left forearm into the pole that I had just moved out of the way of.

It hurt quite a bit, but sent Selina hurtling in the opposite direction, balance completely thrown off from the sudden perpendicular force. I was hoping she’d simply fall over, but she deftly twisted her body to counteract the momentum. Now in a crouched position, she took no moment to rest before striking again.

She swung the lance as if it was a quarterstaff, tracing an arc that would collide with my head if it made contact. The distance between us was short enough that I’d be struck with the shaft rather than the blade, but, of course, neither option was ideal. Once again, my dodge was purely instinctual; I tilted my head to the opposite side and ducked as far as I could in the short time I had, narrowly avoiding a severe concussion by mere millimeters.

Sheesh. I can’t believe—

Not even a second later, though, something slammed into my stomach hard and sent me flying backwards. I was nowhere near skilled enough to regain my balance, so I slammed onto the ground prone.

The moment after her swing, she had closed the distance between us and kicked me with immense power. My body hadn’t been fast enough to react, but my eyes were at least able to keep up with her actions. Because of that, I knew I couldn’t afford to take my eyes off of her for even a moment, so I locked my gaze back onto her immediately after I hit the ground.

That’s when I noticed she was doing something extremely strange. She stabbed the lance into the ground and let go of it, then entered what looked like a throwing pose, with her right arm held overhead. Suddenly, within her grasp, a new weapon appeared from nothingness. It was similar in style to the lance, but still distinct—it was a throwing javelin, I assumed, given its shorter length and lighter look.

I hadn’t really considered that she would be able to manifest multiple different weapons at once, but now faced with it, I reacted. In an instant, she launched it forward with tremendous, seemingly superhuman force, and I rolled off to the side to get out of the way. Given the distance between us, I had more than enough time to dodge.

I knew well enough at this point that I couldn’t underestimate her, though, so I was sure she’d factored this into her strategy. If I was to guess, she was probably coming in for another close-range attack.

I was still on the ground, so I jumped to my feet as quickly as possible before scanning the immediate vicinity. To my surprise, she hadn’t moved from where she had thrown the javelin from, and a mischievous grin was plastered on her face.

In the next instant, she was gone. So was the lance that had been stuck in the ground.

Lucia was extremely quick when she wanted to be, but this was on a completely different level than even that. It was almost as if Selina had literally vanished.

A possibility I had never considered before entered my mind. If Chains could add and subtract objects from their manifestation, then, naturally, that should include their body as well. Erasing her body… and manifesting it somewhere else!? Is that even possible?

On pure instinct, I spun around. Sure enough, as my body twisted, I caught a glimpse of Selina swinging her lance down on me like it was a club. That definitely wasn’t the proper way to use this kind of weapon, but ultimately, that didn’t matter; I wouldn’t be able to dodge it in time. My body was still twisting around, and I wasn’t agile enough to shift direction fast enough.

If I had a weapon, I could parry the blow utilizing my current momentum, but I was emptyhanded.

Emptyhanded? Really? I’m a goddamn Chain!

“Raghhh!” I let out a cry as I clutched mere air with my right hand and swung.

There was a brief impact, followed by a hollow thud.

“Hah... hah… hah… holy shit… it worked!?” Our exchange had probably only lasted a few seconds in total, but I was still panting regardless.

In my hand, I held Estellous’ Blade, manifested at the absolute last second to counter the incoming attack. It had somehow cleaved entirely through the shaft of her polearm.

Selina’s eyes widened for a moment, but they quickly returned to normal. She smiled her characteristically carefree smile. “Ah! Plot convenience!”

“D-don’t say that. It took a lot of effort to do this! Don’t undermine my accomplishment!” Not that I have any clue how things worked out like this.

“Layn!” A concerned voice—Lucia’s—rapidly approached from behind me. When I turned slightly to look at her, I saw that she was glaring daggers at Selina. “What was that!? Were you trying to kill him!?”

Selina suddenly looked apologetic, and then tilted the bottom half of the lance shaft towards us. It’s… hollow? I guess that explains why I cut through it so easily.

It looked just like the lance Alwey always had strung to his back—Selina’s vessel, as far as I understood—so I had assumed it was an exact copy that she had manifested. Like Estellous’ Blade, the original was clearly a weapon forged for battle. Apparently, though, what she had manifested must have been a heavily modified version, more akin to the training weapons Lucia and I had been using against one another than the proper weapon I’d thought it was.

“Sorry for tricking you, Layn. It probably would’ve still hurt to get hit with, but it wouldn’t have killed you.” She pointed to the blade of the upper half of the lance, which was laying on the ground. “The blade’s not sharp, either.” Now that things had calmed down, it was easy to see that this was the case, but in the heat of the moment, I’d been completely oblivious to this fact.

I breathed a sigh of relief. I hadn’t been hit with it, but, still, a great deal of stress was alleviated knowing my new trainers weren’t out to murder me in cold blood.

Actually, wait. “Couldn’t you have just told me in the first place? Why the hell did you make me think I was in actual danger!?”

“We needed you in a heightened emotional state.” It was Alwey, who had just approached the three of us, who answered. “According to what her highness had told us, you had only been capable of manifesting your vessel once, and only when faced with immediate danger. We wanted to create a similar scenario to see if you would be capable of it again. Intentionally, this time.”

As I needed to focus on my emotions to manifest, I supposed it made sense that a tense, overwhelming situation like this would make it easier.

I looked at the sword in my hand. Unlike the first time around, it looked like I was now skilled enough to maintain its manifestation even after my emotions lowered to their regular levels again. If it was anything like manifesting the clothes, the more I did it, the easier it would be to do. Eventually, maybe even soon, I’d be able to manifest the blade in ordinary situations.

Inexplicably, I smiled a little bit. Maybe I will actually be useful to her, someday.

In contrast to my satisfaction, Lucia was still a little upset. “You two should have at least told me about your plan. I was so worried…”

“Hehehe. That’s so sweet of you, Luci.” That should’ve been my line! Actually, no; that sounds cheesy as hell. Thank god she beat me to it.

“Just keep me up to date with what your plans are! I expected better of you!” I didn’t think Lucia needed to be so protective of me, but she was peeved enough that Selina and Alwey both apologized to her in unison.

She never did well with unpredictability, after all. Even though that was probably—no, definitely—the main reason behind her anger, it still made me a little happy to know that she was worried about me, even if just the tiniest bit.

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