Last High Human 1: Sacrifice, Regrets
I pierced through another assailant with my sword. He fell on the ground with a thud, while I set my sights on Deunan. We exchanged a comprehensive look. She also dealt with her opponents without much difficulty and ascertained their death.
After killing the remaining assassins, we ran towards the throne room.The loud thudding of our steps echoed through the main hall as we made haste, ignoring the walls and floor covered in blood. On the pristine marble of the hall, amongst the guts and the corpses of the enemies, our fallen comrades were finally resting in peace. Their bodies were torn and ripped apart, liying here and there, scattered , still warm from the butchering.
Though their death were painful, their faces were expressionless.
Deunan and I rushed to the large doors at the end of the hall and burst in.
Made of the same pristine marble, with veins of gold running through, the throne room was by far the largest and most luxurious room of the Bastion. The south, east and west walls were drapped in large flags of white and clear blue. The north side had no wall: it was wide open on the outside, offering a view on the capital's streets. Right before it stood three thrones: One of Zircon, belonging to the Princess. One of obsidian, belonging to the Crown Prince. And finally, a huge one, made of Dark Crystal, belonging to the King himself.
Despite the situation, I couldn't stop from taking a good peek.
In the throne room, the king was fighting a pair of intruders, clad in dark robes. Both of them used intermediate magic: the intruders casted Ice Blade, while the king used Flame Tongue and Burning Arrow.
Hélias III was an old man in his 80’s, with long white hair. His dignified red clothing emphasized his silver eyes and tanned skin. His body was large and muscular, giving him a strong, manly appearance. Any warrior would feel ashamed when faced with that physique.
Twenty meters away, two more intruders dressed in the same dark robes were fighting against the Crown Prince Hélias IV, a 30 year old version of his father.
Lying on the ground around them were dozens of dead soldiers, soaked in their own blood. I recognized some of them as members of my squad. Not the right place and time to die.
I locked eyes with the assassin as he took out a knife. What, not using magic anymore?
He thrusted forward at an incredible speed. With a step to the right, I dodged it but still got my left flank grazed by the attack. Fast! I didn't even have time to lift my sword. He then immediately kicked my right hand, disarming me.
Assassin: “No one can stop us, brat! Give up!” A feminine voice ordered me, her voice filled with hatred and disdain. So, under that hood, there was not a man but a woman. Didn't see that coming, but explained the great pool of Energy.
Disarmed and at the woman’s mercy I ran my brain at full throttle. If i could use Body Enhancement, the situation would already be resolved... She looked at me, her eyes full of disdain. She lowered her guard for a second.
I took the opportunity. I dove forward and catched the assassin in my arms, tackling her to the ground. As we fell, I clearly felt and heard four impacts on the back of my cuirass. Hopefully, her knife didn’t pierce through. I still had amission to carry.
We rolled on the ground, fighting for the upper hand. We struggled for about a minute: she was trying to stab my chest while I was attempting to block her off.
Ultimately I took the upper hand using my superior strength: I managed to pin her down and with all my might, bashed her head with mine.
Then, fighting the blur and spinning caused by the shock, I ran my hand along her's in search of her knife. Which I quickly found and took possession right away. Grabbing it with both hands, I plunged it repeatedly into her flesh, unsure of where I was hitting. Only the warm sensation of her blood running down on my forearms told me I was aiming where it counted. I stabbed, again and again, for only Vultar knows how long before she finally stopped moving.
I heared her last breath, felt the fading grip of her hands on my arms and the sudden calm of my victory. Whoever she was, he silently died by my hands.
King: “Hurry lad! The portal whilst last but another minute!”
The king suddenly shouted.
I had yet to came back to my senses but rushed to my feet, still dizzy, and walked towards the portal. I was staggering a lot, nearly falling every two steps.
The King was trying to pull his son’s body back into the castle while the gate was slowly shrinking. It was nearly as wide as the Prince's body.
I fell to my knees on his right side and lifted his legs, bending them against his stomach. The King grabbed him by the belt and pulled the Prince all the way through, securing his son’s life.
Then, I was suddenly attacked by a wave of dizziness. I tried to stand but instead fell on my flank. The world suddenly spinned at a tredmendous speed. I may have blacked out for a moment at this very instant.
King: “Son, hast thou given up thy life?!”
Rhod: “M... My apologies. I… I May have been poisoned.”
King: “Enough blabbering lad, make haste!”
I stood up again, with difficulty, and approached the portal... but too late: It's width was now half that of my body.
I took off my helmet, letting it fall to the ground. It had multiple shards of ice and metal on the front. I took a deep breath, then rose my eyes, meeting mine with the King's. As fresh air caressed my sweaty face, the king's expression was telling me that he understood my intentions. I was braving the greatest taboo that a Branded could ever dare to brave.
Rhod: “I am beyond salvation your highness.”
Rhod: “Your highness, my mission is a success. Nothing else matters now. Also, since I can't serve your highness any longer, I will now take my own life as to not ashame your highness with any cowardly behaviour."
Branded soldiers die whenever they are at a certain distance away from the King. Therefore, if a branded servant runs away, the brand will petrify his heart. But only cowardice or cruel circumstances could make it happen. I was indirectly showing my resolve to die an honorable death to his highness.
King: “Son… it is never too late.” The King took off one of the rings attached at his necklace. “Thy torment is our doing, And despite all we did to thou, only loyalty hast allowed thou from not fleeing our service. Thou remained, and even saved our son’s life. We are indebted to thou.”
The King… indebted to- WHat...? No.. I... NO no no..I... No...
King: “Son, We shall pay this debt. From this very instant, We free thou from our authority, and bless thou with the title and possessions of our kingdom’s knights. Live up now, and meet our expectations.”
Rhod: “P-... Pardon me...?”
The King threw the ring through the sliver of space remaining on the portal. It was now the size of a human head.
King: ”We have always been proud of thou. Also, son... That ring used to be your father's. And never forget, son! It's use is-“
The portal closed and vanished, interrupting the king.
The abrupt silence stroke me like a hurricane.
Too many things just…
The gate closed before the King could finish his sentence. What about the ring? My father...? And... Why did he free me? A knight ring? This… didn’t make any sense at all…
Also, this ring… A knight’s ring. I am surely not worthy of such a treasure… Once again, what am I supposed to do? That ring, my father's? Maybe...? But that doesn't make me worth it...
Another weight fell down on my shoulders.
I would rather have died. I was even prepared to. How cruel can fate be... ?
Too much happened. I need to find out where I am. I must remember my training.
Keep calm, ascertain your surroundings, find shelter. Then and only then, think.
I grabbed my sword and took a look around….
Twilight was visible by the edge of a forest. This night would the first night where I would not be tracking or tracked down since...
Written by Lionsennel Senpai
Edited by Panda