Last High Human 4: What Defines Me, In Fact
I unsheathed my sword and climbed the stairs, followed by the woman.
Once in the first floor's room, and seeing what made the noise, I lowered my guard, relieved. I looked at the soldier behind me. She didn't take her spear.
Rhod: “I thought you were alone?”
Woman: “You asked if I was the last soldier remaining. And I am.”
Woman: “Hun... Clever. Are you okay?” She asked the teenager lying on the ground.
Clever: “Y- Yes. Somehow.”
Rhod: ”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 can be seen. I lifted the kid, helping him get back on his feet.
Clever: “Th- the ceiling window wasn't locked.” His voice was deformed by the pain and his difficulty in breathing. “They... they opened it and broke ... broke the lock. I got hurt by a Mantissar when I tried to... to close it. When they suddenly took out their scythes I was able to close the window. But the mechanism ...completely broke and... Well…”
It was so sudden, the momentum probably threw him off.
Rhod: “Well done kid.”
An embarrassing silence took over the room.
Woman: “I don't know who you are, human, but if you can fight I'll have you exterminate the bastards still alive.”
Huh, I don't really like how she talks to me.
Woman: “What about you two?”
She looked at me with a weird look.
Rhod: “How are we supposed to fight in this state?”
Woman: “I was talking about the security. Can you keep the door shut while I secure the surrounding area?”
Of course I can, mind your own business.
Rhod: “-... Do you have something against me?”
Woman: “What do you mean?”
Rhod: “I risked my own life to save you. I'm willing to obey your orders. I'm at least expecting a bit of respect.”
Woman: “You illegally penetrated military ground, disarmed a military official and entered the quarantine zone, which is totally forbidden except for overwatch troops of the S.Q.A. And unless proven wrong, you are definitely not part of it.” She angrily pointed a finger at me. “YOU are the one supposed to show respect to me for not arresting you.”
Rhod: “At least don't call me ‘human’. I'm Rhod.”
A weird sensation of powerlessness and desire to punch her face hazily floated in me. Is this what anger feels like?
I went down the stairs, followed by the two others. Once at the breached door, I took a glimpse outside.
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 can’t see anything from where I stood. I need 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 some glasses, bottles and some plates with food are also spilled on the ground. I took the bottle in my left hand and held my sword in the right.
Woman: “What are you going to do with this, huma... Rhod?” She once again spoke with an imperious tone.
Rhod: “I will lure them with noise.”
I threw the bottle halfway to the first tower. Immediately, a Mantissar appeared in my field of view. The bastard was actually hiding just above the door frame. After a short wait, I jumped out and looked around, ready to act. But nothing. Did the kid lie?
I approached the lured monster, slowly, watching his every move. I suddenly realized something when I caught tower's shadow on the ground. I sprinted forward and quickly killed the monster then immediately turned around, standing in a parrying stance.
Two Mantissars descended the tower and are running in my direction. I instantly noticed the yellow stripes on their bodies. A new specie?
I welcomed the first with a horizontal slash, but got warded off by his scythes. The second one tried to reach me from the left side of the first one. I jumped to the right and started moving so the first Mantikon always ends up between me and the second.
My opponent was significantly faster and smarter than the usual individuals of his race. He dodged or parried most of my attacks while cleverly slashing his scythes or ramming his body at me at the same time.
The most annoying thing while using my fighting style is how he used his scythes to block me. However, that's also what caused his demise: while holding his bladed forearms in order parry my attacks, he was also blocking his own field of vision.
I took an attacking stance and initiated a slashing move, but seeing him in a parry posture, I ran to his flank and quickly slashed his neck. A loud sound came from my sword which resounded in my ears, then the monster's head rolled between my feet.
The other one stopped moving, looking at me and his fallen comrade. I quickly checked my sword: the upper half of the blade was gone, lying on the ground. The remaining Mantikon suddenly growled loudly and charged in faster than I expected.
I used a bit of energy in my body to make a fast side jump when my vision suddenly blurred and darkened. Energy exhaustion kicked in with a bad timing.
I quickly recovered from the dizziness and find out I fell on my knees during the near blackout. The monster charged at me again. He's too close to avoid.
I jumped forward with all my might between his legs, landing head first in the grass. The whistling of blades cutting the air resounded close to my legs. I quickly stood up.
The Mantikon slowed down and started turning around. I dashed towards him, running at full throttle, preparing to slice his throat.
When he spotted me, he instinctively blocked his head with his scythes. I repeated my prior movements and went to his flank, targeting the head... And noticed him looking on the side! He knew! He anticipated! His jaws opened and suddenly closed in on my head!
I lowered my position and hearing the clacking of his jaws loudly closing above me, I firmly gripped my sword with both hands and stabbed it upwards, impaling his head from below. Green blood showered and dripped on my hair.
I let the corpse fell on the ground. All I cared about is 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. Nothing linked me to the King anymore .Something pushed in my throat while I clenched both fists and teeth.
Pearls of water ran down my cheeks...
The "kid's” 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 Mantikon and took the stance while looking towards the tower, she whispered something in her native language, seemingly angry.
I also thought that he was challenging her in a duel. Rogue bandits often act like he did: ascertained the state of their targets, then dueled them if they deem them weak enough.
But right after that, two Mantikons appeared. I never saw corporal Lyshia became so pale. I never saw her ever turn pale. How was a male even supposed to kill one of them by himself? And is a human above all else!
Alone and visibly tired, with a cracked sword and tattered pieces of armor, his death was just a matter of time. Or so we thought.
The way he fights. His speed, his technique... Even some knights can’t match this. He didn't kill the Mantikons. He pulverized them.
Clever: “If this person…” I tried to ignore the pain in my arm. “If he turns against us corporal, this is the end…”
Lyshia: “-... I know. I know but... What if he is on our side?”
Clever: “If he is... We have a chance to make it back home corporal. “
Lyshia: “He is coming back.”
The stranger walked toward us, then stopped. He looked at the sky, his left hand half raised... Like when someone tries to ascertain if it's raining.
He dropped his pommel. And removed his armor with slow movements. He then let each armor pieces fall on the ground without care, and started to walk again.
This day, I've seen something that I will never forget.
I saw a male human in his twenties, his head and shoulders painted green with the blood of Mantikons he himself killed. His tanned skin was marked everywhere by impressive scars. His body void of any useless fat, a marked depression was on his left flank, where there should be a rib...
And above all else, those shiny, crying orange eyes, staring daggers at the world. This stare was filled with hate, anger and bloodlust.
He walked past between Lyshia and I without looking at us. Without talking to us.
Yet, I clearly remembered seeing the corporal tremble, like death itself had come in person to take her very soul.