Last High Human 4: What Defines Me, In Fact
I arrived at the only room composing the first floor and sighed. My sword described a small parabole before returning to it's scabbard. I did the same with my knife.
The woman arrived behind me, pointing her spear at my face. She was breathing loudly, her eyes filled with fear once again. The surprise had vanished from her exhausted face.
Rhod: “Are you hiding someone else besides...”
I turned my head towards the source of the thud I just heared.
Woman: “ Step aside!”
I moved aside. I had no reasons to upset her, especially in this situation. She walked past me, keeping her weapon pointed at me.
Woman: “Hun... Clever. Are you okay?”
She asked the teenager lying on the ground. So his name was... "Clever"?
Clever: “Y- Yes. Somehow.”
Woman: ”You're hurt!”
The woman was right. The flesh of his left arm was ripped, just beneath the shoulder's muscles. Stained with blood, even the bone could be seen.
Rhod:" I'll help."
The woman and I looked at each other. She then turned her head and tried to help the kid get back on his feet, but her injury drained all her strength. I approached them, my hands up, then slowly crouched on the other side of the kid. After slowly approaching my hands from him, under the woman's vigilance, I grabbed the kid and got him back up.
Clever: “Th- the ceiling window wasn't locked.”
His voice was deformed by the pain and his difficult breathing.
Clever:“They... they opened it and they tried ... they tried to break in. I got hurt by a Mantissar when I tried to... to close it. But they sudenly gave up and left... When they left, I was still pulling on the mechanism ... and it completely broke and... Well…”
The momentum probably threw him off out of the blue.
Rhod: “You protected that place well, kid.”
An embarrassing silence took over the room, with those two staring at me weirdly.
Woman: “I don't know who you are, human, but since only you here can fight, I'll have you exterminate the bastards still alive out there.”
... I don't really like how she talked to me. Was that... Contempt? Disdain?
Woman: “What's your answer?”
She plunged her eyes in mine, frowning.
Rhod: “How am I supposed to fight? See...”
I showed her my sword, whose blade was cracked.
Woman: “I was talking about the security. Can you keep the door shut while I secure the surrounding area?”
... You clearly asked me if I could go out and fight the monsters. What's wrong with you...
Rhod: “-... Do you, perhaps, have something against me?”
Woman: “What do you mean?”
She crossed her arms. I had a long way to go with her.
Dealing with people wasn't my thing and had never been.
Rhod: “Look. I'm not looking for a fight. I risked my life to come to you. And even though you've been pointing your spear at me right away, then ordered me around like you were my boss, let me say that: I'm willing to obey your orders. I honestly don't mind since Im used to be under someone's direction. Also, we are in a situation where we tchit-tchat is a luxury, but let's put that aside. I don't mind all I said, but the way you look at me and speak to me... I'm not asking much from you, just for your respect and nothing else.”
Woman: “You have illegally penetrated a restricted military ground and disarmed a military officer, which is, and tell me if I'm wrong, totally forbidden except for anyone but the S.Q.A.'s troops. And unless proven wrong, you are definitely not part of it.”
She angrily pointed a finger at me but kep talking calmly. Though her calm was on the verge of breakdown.
Woman:" “YOU are the one supposed to show respect to me for not arresting you. The only reasons why you are still free are because I can't defend ourselves and that we need you to compensate.”
Rhod: “That's not what I'm talking about. Arrest me once we're done with the Mantissars if that's fine with you. Like I said, I don't mind. But at least don't call me ‘human’. I'm Rhod. Nice to meet you despite our meeting's circumstances.”
I did my best to hide it, but weird sensation of powerlessness hazily floated in me while the desire to punch her face was courageously tempting me.
Is this what anger feels like? Miserable.
Woman:" I'll present myself later. If you prove yourself worth it."
... Both Contempt and Disdain...
I went down the stairs, followed by the two others. Once at the door, I took a glimpse outside through the breach.
Rhod: “How many of them were you able to count up there, kid?”
Clever: “How many... I don't really know, I didn't count I... I panicked too much.”
I couldn’t see anything from where I stood. And I needed more information.
Rhod: “Just a rough estimation is enough.”
Clever: “Hum... At least two of them... I think?”
I looked back inside the tower. There were chairs and corpses scattered around. On the tables were dusty glasses while empty bottles and plates had been thrown donw on the ground, food spilled around. I took the bottle in my left hand and my sword in the right.
Woman: “What are you going to do with this, ... Sir Rhod?”
She had once again spoken to me with little respect. But somehow, this time felt like she was trying to provoke me.
Rhod: “I will make my way out, then lure them onto my position.”
Theiy both suddenly turned pale. From their point of view, it surely sounded like I was going to abandon them.
Sorry kid, but I have to teach her a lesson.
I threw the bottle halfway towards the first tower. Right after the projectile loudly broke into pieces on the ground, a Mantissar appeared in my field of view. The monster was hiding right above the door frame, waiting in ambush. After a short wait, I jumped out, grabbed one of the monster's scyths and pulled it down with all my strength. When it's body touched the ground, I impaled the head with the sword.
Once outside, two more presences could be felt right behind me. I jumped forward then rolled once, before returning on my feet, facig the danger.
Two Mantissars had descended the tower. The first was trying to pull out one of it's scyths, stuck in the ground where I was standing a moment before. Meanwhile, the other one was silently looking at me, it's scyths held high above his head.
After a quick glance at them, I noticed both of them had yellow stripes on their bodies.
... Seems like the mutated Mantissars exist, Deunan...
The closest suddenly jumped at me, waving it's blades at my head. I welcomed it with an estoc, but got warded off. The second had freed itself and joined the melee, trying to reach me from the left side of it's comrade. I jumped towards the second's opposite side and moved around so the first Mantikon would always ends up between me and the first.
Mantissars were not much of a problem, but I had no idea about what their "evolved' version was capable of. Prudence.
I postponed the actual fight and focused on analysing their physical abilities, combat habits, etc...
We clashed several times and I quickly came to a conclusion after looking at their performance.
Mantikons were significantly faster and smarter than their non-mutated counterparts. They dodged or parried most of my attacks while smartly throwing their scythes at me when I tried to get closer, or rammtheir bulky bodies against me when I managed to get through their guard.
Currently, the most annoying thing with my fighting style was how it could so easily be warded off by their scythes. However, that was also what could cause their demise: while holding their bladed forearms to parry my attacks, they were also blocking their field of vision.
I assumed an attack stance and approached the closest one's front. I ran straight at it at full speed and, like I did to them multiple times before, I rose my sword, preparing to deliver a strong blow.
When my opponent saw it, it immediately went into it's parry posture to protect itself.
I changed my hand movements to pierce the ground with the tip of the sword and used it to change my trajectory towards the Mantikon's flank. I was now out of sight for both of them and in the perfect position to end up this fight.
All was going according to plan.
I bent my feet and using the accumulated momentum, slipped on my feet and stopped right between the scythes and the head.
Rhod:" No hard feelings."
A metalic vibration sound came from my sword. The severed head fell down to the ground while twitching. The body remained as was, hiding me from the second monster. I climbed up the arms and prepared myself to go against the second one.
The remaining Mantikon stopped moving and looked at both me and his fallen comrade. Using his temporary suprise, I quickly checked my sword: the uppermost third of the blade broke and was planted in the ground where I had changed my trajectory.
I gritted my teeth and assumed my attack stance again. I turned my eyes towards the second tower where the kid and the spearwoman were standing, looking at the fight.
The monster suddenly roared with all it's might and charged me faster than I expected.
I had spread a bit of Energy in my body to make a fast side jump, trying to avoid it's ramming attack but my vision suddenly blurred and darkened. I had been careless it seems: Energy Exhaustion kicked in with a bad timing.
I quickly recovered from the dizziness and found out I fell on my knees. The monster had passed besides me and turned around for the secound round.
He was too close to avoid.
I stood up right away, then jumped forward between it's legs, landing head first in the grass. The whistling of blades, cutting through air came to my ears. I quickly stood up, still dizzy.
The Mantikon slowed down and started turning around. It looked angry and decided to kill me. I dashed towards him, running at full throttle, preparing to repeat my tactic.
When it saw me approaching, it instinctively protected it's head with it's scythes. I changed trajectory and went for it's flank, targeting the head... And noticed.
The Mantikon hadn't folded it's arms to protect it's head, but to prepare a blow towards me, whichever side i'd have decided to close in on it.
The monster threw it's blade at me and nearly had me beheaded. I rolled on the ground and focused got back on my feet right away. It's arm was still stretched out. Gathering my remaining strength, I severed it's limb below the scythe, breaking my sword.
the monster stepped back on several meters, while looking at it's missing member. It had completely forgotten about me.
I grabbed the scythe by it's base and took a grip on it like on a double-handed axe and approached my opponent.
I firmly gripped my weapon and severed one of it's feet, then another. The Mantikon fell down and tried to crawl away, squeaking and groaning in fear. Without an ounce of hesitation, I impaled it's head from above several times, stabbing and stabbing again, before finally leaving the corpse alone. Green blood had showered on me, covering most of my body in the same color as the grass.
My usual calm and collection wasn't there. It had vanished during the fight when I came to a realisation. This fight, those monsters... Even the two survivors in the tower.... I didn't give a fuck about them.
All I cared about was what remained in my hands. Only a bladeless pommel, cracked and stained. Even my armor got destroyed in the fight.
My armor. My sword. My shield... Nothing remained from it. Nothing linked me to the King anymore. This time, I was left alone all by myself once and for all.
... I suddenly like something pushed iself down my throat... All I managed to do was to clench both fists and teeth.
Pearls of water ran down my cheeks...
"Clever" Point of view.
Even Corporal Lyshia was stunned.
Unable to fight them herself, she sent the stranger out to die as a decoy so we could run away safely. But when he killed the first Mantikon, then took a stance before looking towards us, she whispered something in her native language...
I also thought that he was going to challenge her in a duel. Bandits often acted like he did: they ascertained the state and situation of their targets, then dueled those they deemed weaker.
But he simply went out without a word and killed a Mantissar in an instant. That alone made our blood turn ice cold.
And right after that, two Mantikons appeared. I don't remember ever seeing such a dreadful sight: one person against two adult Mantikons. And a male Human at that...
We... were at a loss for words.
"Alone, exhausted, with damaged weaponry and armor, he's done for."
Or so we thought.
The way he fought. His speed, his technique... Even some Knights can’t match him. He didn't kill the Mantikons. He pulverized them one-sidedly.
Clever: “If he ever…”
I tried to ignore the pain of my injury and faced up the Corporal.
Clever:“If he really is an ally, corporal... ”
Lyshia: “-... I know. I know... But what if he's an enemy about to turn against us?”
Clever: “If he was, we wouldn't be there by now... We have a chance to make it back home Corporal, but we have to make sure he takes us with him. He is strong, stronger tha- “
Lyshia: “He's coming back.”
The stranger had been staring to his broken sword for a long time and was now coming back. Halfway through, he stopped again and looked up, raising his right arm up to his chest's height. It looked like he... was checking if it was raining... What had gotten into him?
He dropped his pommel. And removed his cuirass with hasty movements, letting each pieces of armor fall on the ground.
Then started walking again.
This day, I sawsomething that I would never forget.
I saw a Magicless, a young male human, only wearing his pant and armored boots, his body painted green with the blood of Mantissars and Mantikons he had himself killed.
His tanned skin was marked everywhere by impressive scars. His body was void of any useless fat and had a visible depression on his left flank, where a rib seemed to be missing.
New bruises and cuts were comleting the nightmarish view the gods had offered us that day.
... Above all else, those murderous orange eyes, staring daggers at the world. This stare, filled with hate, anger and bloodlust.
He walked past between Lyshia and I without looking at us. Without talking to us.
He didn't even see us. It felt like our existences were nothing before his eyes.
No... We were nothing. He could annihilate us in an instant and not even notice doing so...
I tried to find comfort in the Corporal's eyes. She always knew how to cheer me up.
And yet, I clearly remember seeing the corporal shake like death itself had come in person to take her soul.