Chapter 35

A trembling sensation shocks through my body. My fingers barely grip the handle of my blade, but stricken by my fears, I don’t draw the blade. Sweat dripped down my face; frantically looking between the assailants, I tried to devise a plan to escape.

“What’s wrong? Ready to piss yourself, brat?” Approaching, one of Gale’s subordinates taunts me. Yula looks around and places her hand on her sword.

“N-No! They only want me; leave and don’t look back.” Despite my condition, the sense to warn and protect her was still strong.

“But-” She replies with a concerned look, her eyes focused on me entirely. She was looking back at the group and me rapidly.

“Just go! I won’t tell you again!” I shout at the top of my lungs.

Without much to say, Yula clenches her teeth before spiriting in the opposite direction, slips past, and exits the alleyway. Gale’s men try to make a move after her, but with a sudden shout by Gale, they forget the notion.

“Just the kid.” Gale reaffirms his orders.

Unable to concentrate, I stumbled back, let go of my hilt, and breathed heavily. Without much choice, I attempt to regain my composure. Vivid memories of the past hold me back; the air around me starts to close in, and I can’t tell what is up or down before the urge to vomit surfaces.

No, I am not going to let myself fall into my trauma. With a quick motion, I punch myself in the jaw, splitting my lip on my teeth; the drops of blood slip past and fall off my chin. This causes the Phantom Blades to stop in shock. Taking the chance, I rush the first member head-on, making him panic at the frontal assault.

He tries to throw a punch but breaks his hand the moment he gets close to me. With a cry of pain, he falls back, holding his busted hand as I disable the barrier I summoned just before he attacked. Leaping forward, I muster my strength and sucker punch him on the ground. The momentum carries his face toward the stone ground; however, using a quick motion, I summon another barrier that appears right before his head. Smashing his face into the barrier, bloody teeth shatter, and his lip explodes in a fountain of blood, knocking him out.

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“Come on! Barely eleven years old, and I still kick your ass!” I shout with confidence, ignoring the shaking of my hands.

“Kid’s got spunk. Something you don’t see often.” Gale acknowledges my spirit. Yet, he signals his men to take it seriously as three draw their weapons.

“You’ll pay for that, you little s***! We’ll teach you to show us respect!” The rogue draws his daggers and races forward alongside the cleric, holding his hand axe and their spear warrior. 

The rogue leaps forward, avoids the barriers I summon to protect me, leaps to the side, and runs up the wall to flip over the obstacle. Ducking right under his legs, I create another barrier to trap him without escape, but quickly, the cleric runs around to prevent me from acting again. The warrior thrusts his spear to prevent me from running, barely slashing my side. I stumble over and roll off my back.

Just in time, I unclip my sheath belt and use it as a shield guard against the cleric, who swings his axe down on me. His strength is far greater than mine, and his size more than doubles mine. He isn’t holding back as his short brown hair and white cloak sway with each movement. However, my training with Carlo and Eckhart has prepared me far greater than I could have imagined. As frightened as I am, the thrill of knowing I can beat them if I don’t make a mistake fills me with confidence. Confidence that burns.

He turned and slipped past the cleric, tripping his leg and falling to the ground. I deflect a thrust from the warrior; his spear barely slashes my arm. He reels back, feeling my presence overtaking his balance; I show him what my training has prepared me for. I place my hand on his stomach, and using a controlled sense of my magic, I summon a barrier through the artifact, creating a wall behind him as I continue to push.

Slamming him directly into the barrier, a couple of his ribs crack as I summon another to nearly crush him and imprison him in place. However, my prison on the rogue vanishes as I reach my limit. He throws his dagger, which slashes my side and kicks me in the face. Coughing as I hit the wall and slide to the floor, the rogue shows no mercy and grabs my hair and slams my face into the wall. A burst of blood runs down my nose from the initial kick. Holding me in place, I throw a punch to retaliate, but he grabs it and twists my wrist, which fractures my small arm. Crying in pain, I bite on his arm and tear into his skin. My tongue tastes the iron of his blood, and the moment it does, my body tenses up.

An odd surge shoots through my body for a brief moment until an intense pain hits my stomach. The rogue threw a knee into my stomach, which caused me to vomit onto his boots. Angered at my resistance, he tosses me to the ground, and I struggle to get to my feet. The cleric stomps his foot on my back and kicks me in the ribs. I cough out some blood and hold my side. These grown adventures underestimated me for a moment, but when they started to feel the humiliation of my efforts, they didn’t limit themselves to my loss.

Breathing heavily, I try to move, but my wounds prove to be immobilizing. I was defeated, my pride shattered, and my rage of loss filled my heart. My blood-stained teeth clenched hard, and drops of the crimson slipped past my lips in a small pool of drool and spit. It isn’t until Gale slams his foot on my head that I begin to lose consciousness. Splitting my head open, I feel the wetness soak into my hair and down my face.

“B-Bastards…” I weakly gasped at the words.

“I don’t want to hear that from a freak like you. You had to be the big shot for a Nix! I swear your kind should just die. Nothing good ever comes from you abominations. Worthless piece of f****** s***!” Slamming my head into the stone, I feel my brain ramble inside my skull.

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“Don’t think-” My voice is barely auditable and becomes mindless breaths with no words pronounced.

“Let’s go, he’s finished.” Gale motions his men to move out, and they exit the alleyway, leaving my barely moving body to bleed into the cold streets. My vision only darkens with each passing second.

Moments pass, the cold feeling slowly sweeping my body. My fingers twitch as I try to will them to move, yet no progress can be made. I give in to my fate and hope that someone finds me…

“-over here!” A voice rings out.

“-…he’s in bad shape…help me…I’ll carry him.” A gruff and deep voice speaks. Soft hands grab my frail body, and I am lifted into the air. 

A burly man carries me on his back; the smell of sulfur and iron reeks off his body, and the intense heat of his muscles burns away the coldness of my body. The rocking motions of this man holding me are enough to make me entirely pass out. The dark void consumes me, leaving my fate currently unknown to me.

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