Chapter 26:

A Reason to Die

Chained Regalia

The Lishkarn certainly was—or, rather, had been—human, yet the way it charged towards Lucia and me was almost animalistic. Its back was hunched, and its strides resembled a gallop more than an ordinary run. It was unarmed, but, frankly, getting run through by one of those things’ fists wouldn’t be all that much less deadly than being cut down with a blade.

While I was still weighing my options, Lucia acted without hesitation. She crouched into a sprinter position, then blasted forward with explosive force.

Her path followed an arc that curved sharply as its trajectory intersected that of the monster’s, creating precisely one moment of contact before immediate separation once more—a moment so fleeting that my eyes failed to perceive it and could only witness the aftermath.

Lucia bounced off to the side of the Lishkarn at a tangent, planting her boots hard into the ground to gradually kill her momentum with friction.

Her initial launch had generated an absurd amount of acceleration, but, somehow, her reactions were still quick enough to keep up; the Lishkarn’s, however, were not. Its left arm, cleanly severed at the elbow, tumbled to the ground before it even had an opportunity to react.

If it had been me doing it, I probably would’ve gone for a more lethal strike, but she’d opted to remain cautious and wear it down steadily rather than risk committing to an overly greedy assault.

That decision, to no fault of her own, ultimately came to backfire. As the limb collided with the ground, the Lishkarn inexplicably twisted and kicked it forward, straight towards Lucia, transforming its own mutilated body into a projectile backed with tremendous physical power. Lucia, completely unprepared for the sudden attack from range, attempted to turn her body to the side to evade, but she only managed to move partially before the missile struck her solar plexus with an awful thud.

Seeing that its prey had been clearly dazed by the blow, the Lishkarn, wholly unconcerned by its own injury, bent forward and prepared a charge, while Lucia awkwardly stumbled backwards to add distance between them. Her face, which was rapidly growing paler, was twisted in pain. She weakly held her sword up in defense, though it was obvious that she was struggling to put much strength into it due to the impact.

By the time my brain started screaming at me to move, I realized I’d already unconsciously broken into a sprint towards her some time ago, and I’d nearly closed the distance already.

Before I could make it all the way, the Lishkarn lunged ahead.

I’m not going to let you hurt her again!

I had no choice but to trust my instincts. Praying the timing would align as I hoped, I turned and slammed my left leg into the ground to slow my stride as briskly as possible, and at the same time, I slashed horizontally in as wide an arc as I could muster in order to maximize the area of the swing.

I slid briefly, slipping directly between them, and intercepted with barely a fraction of a second to spare.

My attack was, in essence, a feint, intended strictly as a deterrent. A swing this wide would lose significant energy, and thus offensive power, over time, so it would likely cause minimal damage even if it hit. My hope was that the threat would cause the Lishkarn to ease its current rush, giving me an opportunity to properly combat it.

A human might realize how weak my strike was and called my bluff, but I gambled everything on that lack of intelligence. Lishkarn may be creatures completely unfazed by their own injuries, but they should still react defensively when blatantly attacked—that was my desperate hope, anyway.

It was a gamble that I unfortunately lost.

With no regard to its own well-being, it charged straight into my sword’s arc, which only managed to dig a few centimeters into its flesh before coming to a halt.

I was frozen in fear as it reached out its arm towards my neck. It gripped me, lifting my entire body with ease, and soon began to constrict its grasp. On instinct, I let go of the sword and desperately tried to pry its hand off with my own. I couldn’t breathe, and I frantically gasped for air.

Suddenly, I heard an enraged cry from my side and the sound of a meaty impact. The grip then loosened just slightly, and that was enough. I kicked forward as hard as possibly could into the torso of the Lishkarn, consequently shooting backwards with enough force to break from its grasp and slam into the ground.

The monster staggered a couple steps back, and miasma leaked from partway up its arm. The impact I’d heard must have been Lucia attempting to cut through it, but likely due to her own injury, she’d failed to cleave all the way through. Still, it was enough for me to free myself.

Lucia walked between me and the Lishkarn, taking much the same position I had for her just a moment earlier. This situation, however, was far from the same. Her breathing was strained and uneven; she was likely still recovering from having her solar plexus struck, and there was a decent chance some of her ribs had broken, too.

The Lishkarn, somehow still standing despite its wounds, grasped the sword still lodged in its side—my sword—and pulled it out, finally finding a weapon of its own. Without a hint of hesitation, it swiped down at Lucia.

Her best bet would be to dodge. She didn’t have the strength in this condition to properly block, so she had no other choice. But she didn’t; she helplessly stood her ground in that moment—and, instantly, I knew it was because of me. If she avoided the attack, there would no longer be anything standing between it and me, completely prone and defenseless.

I was about to kill her. And, poetically, it would even be done with my very own sword.

Her guard was, as expected, barely effective. She was knocked back completely, and she was barely maintaining her balance as a second blow rained down.

I tried to de-manifest my sword, but it wasn’t instant; there would be enough time for it to strike one last time.


I wasn’t sure how I managed to move like I did, though I supposed the hysterical factor played a major role.

I’d lifted my body off the ground and, in the same motion, managed to shove Lucia to the side, out of the way, just as my sword swept down.

A loud crunch rang out alongside a softer, squishier sound. The sounds of hewn bone and flesh.

My right arm had just been severed, about halfway through the upper arm.

Somehow, I managed to ignore what had happened. Immediately after impact, my sword had flickered out of existence, and the Lishkarn was briefly stunned at the sudden vanishing of its tool of slaughter.

The moment it faded, another sword appeared, but this time, it was where it rightfully belonged.

I let out a roar and sliced right through the Lishkarn’s final arm, hitting the exact same spot Lucia had to ensure the outcome. It staggered back, but I did not yield. With every ounce of strength I had remaining, I dug my blade straight through its neck.

Without a doubt, it was dead.

We did it. We won. For some reason, I felt a little bit of pride, even though I had a more pressing problem to address. No, it was probably because of that problem that I felt this way. If I was going to die, I at least wanted to feel like I had accomplished something in the end.

I’d gotten to save her and defeat the monster. So what more could I really ask for? This is okay, right?

As if answering the question, I began to feel a slight smoldering feeling where my arm had once been.

MyAnimeList iconMyAnimeList icon