A new chapter of Re;Blade
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Chapter 47 – After the battle
Alonso stared at Celia with a blank face. “Don’t treat me like a child. I can still eat by myself…”
“Oh, you can? Please, show me.” The noble lady flashed a cocky smile as she put the fork back on the plate.
Alonso shifted his gaze down to the utensil, staring at it like a foe. With his left arm immobilized, he only had his non-dominant hand. However, due to the wound on the forearm he received while getting the blood from the Grand priest, he could barely lift it above his chest, nowhere near close to his mouth. The only way to feed himself was if he bent his back, which sent shots of pain through his body.
Without any other option, he looked away.
“If you stop acting like a kid, I’ll stop treating you like one.” With a smile, Lia fed him a piece of the cooked meat. “I know you have your pride, but you should be happy there’s a cute girl like me feeding you. Any man would be happy.”
“Yeah. I’d be too, if you weren’t my niece,” Alonso muttered, chewing the food without looking at the girl.
“A young and beautiful woman not enough?”
“Young woman? Where? I only see a brat I know since she was born.”
They looked at each other and then laughed together.
“Your dad would’ve strangled me if he heard you talking about that.”
The girl flashed a sad smile as she fed him a cooked vegetable. “Yes… He even forbade anyone from talking about engagement for me…”
“And he was right. I doubt there’s anyone here good enough for you… But he was a little crazy about that… He even didn’t like when I joked about marrying you to my son.”
“He didn’t like you said it, but when mother talked, he didn’t seem to dislike the idea.”
“R-really? I had no idea that moron was considering…”
“Yes. And I agree with the idea. I like Ricardo. He’s good and smart. And if I married him, that would make us a true family,” she said with a shy smile.
Alonso pressed his lips. Though he would be lying if he said he never thought of the idea of finally becoming a real family with his best friend, the idea of his son marrying someone who was as pretty much his own niece made him feel weird. I treat her like my own daughter… It feels like marrying siblings…
Before he could say anything, someone knocked on the door of Alonso’s chambers. “My Lord, may I come in?”
The general entered the room and bowed to the nobles. “We’ve finished searching the mines. We’ve found seventeen soldiers still alive. Their wounds are bad, but the healers believe they’ll survive.”
“How about worshipers?” Alonso asked in a grave voice.
“We found three still alive. They’ve been captured and brought to the prison. As instructed, their wounds haven’t been treated.”
“And what about the dead?”
“We’ve brought hundreds, but it’s gonna take days to retrieve them all.”
“Good. We need to study them and see what made them freakishly strong,” Alonso said. “We need to know everything about them for when they come back…”
“We don’t need all… Burn the rest and scatter the ashes away from mine lads. We don’t need that here,” Celia said in a commanding voice, her eyes empty.
“Yes, my lady.” With a bow, Faela left the room.
“Lia…” Alonso wanted to pat the girl on the head, but with his arms wounded, he couldn’t. “Hey, I’m still hungry.”
The girl smiled a sad smile and picked up the fork again. By the time they finished, her smile was brighter.
“My lady,” a servant said, knocking on the door, though he didn’t enter. “Everyone’s ready for the meeting.”
“Tell them I’ll be there soon.” When the woman walked away after saying yes, the noble lady sighed.
“You don’t need to sound so exhausted, Lia. You’re too young for that. And now that the fight against the worshipers is over, you only have to deal with those dumb lords.”
The girl let out a hollow chuckle. “If they were only dumb… They’re too annoying and petty. That lord wants a huge compensation because we used one of his mines as battlefields. He says his losses were tremendous.”
Alonso let out a sympathetic laugh. “I know the feeling of dealing with whiny people. But you’ve been raised to that. Show them the title ‘Lord of Iron’ isn’t just for show. Or is it ‘Lady of Iron’ now?”
“You’re right, uncle. And it’s ‘Lord’. Other women had ruled these lands with that title.” Celia laughed and pushed herself up. “Now the fight is over, I’ll show them who truly rules these lands.”
She took a deep breath. When she exhaled, her lovely features hardened. The little girl who was feeding him was gone. Now it was the young woman who stood above anyone else in these parts.
The lord might be annoying, but he’s not lying. There was a lot of living metal in that mine, Tetsuko projected what was in her mind to her wielder after Celia closed the door and they were alone.
“Yes… Even so, she can’t give in to him so easily,” Alonso answered. Even though she was resting against his bed, the swordsman could hear the soul in his sword even if he wasn’t holding her.
Ever since I got his blood, we’ve been too in sync. And when I used his arm for a moment… I controlled it for an instant… Tetsuko couldn’t try again, not with Alonso’s arms hurt. And even if she wanted, she couldn’t remember what she did. My energy was pouring into his hand. Then… and then… I somehow made it move…
No, I can’t tell if it was me or if my energy healed him enough to do that himself…
That wasn’t the thing in Tetsuko’s mind. After the fight, she couldn’t stop sensing the Grand priest’s presence. She had made sure the monster was dead and there was no energy flowing inside her. Even so, the presence was around them.
For a moment, she thought she had absorbed too much of the Grand priest’s blood. But the poisonous energy in her was just like Lucky Chao’s energy, standing in a corner of her soul, weighing her down.
Before, the strange energies felt like something my body refused to digest. Now it feels like I’m about to puke…
But if I can make it mine completely, I can use it to make my edge even sharper… I’ll become even stronger. With this connection between Alonso and I, I can truly become the strongest sword in this world… There will be nothing I won’t be able to cut ever again, the soul in the sword thought, resting comfortably in her new scabbard.
After the soldiers had retreated Alonso from the mines, Tetsuko had been cleaned and treated by Balthasar. Then the grand master himself made a new sheath for her, made of the best wood and a part of living metal. She had yet to find out, but she could tell there was something special in that scabbard.
After the servant Alonso called took the plates, the swordsman walked to the desk in his chambers. With only one, wounded, arm, he had trouble opening the heavy book.
You’re still investigating?
“I don’t believe in that woman’s word. She was a lunatic worshiper of a demon of lies. But something she said has been bothering me,” Alonso said as he perused the pages.
The moment he was good enough to move by himself, the lord had been burying his head on the books whenever he had time. Even Celia had found it strange and joked about, saying it was too late for him to get smarter.
However, Alonso wasn’t trying to become smarter. He was searching the kingdom’s history.
Tetsuko didn’t care about that at all. I barely knew the history of my own country back when I was a human. As long as I could make swords, I was satisfied. I only knew who was the shogun and the emperor because of the samurai who came asking for blades insisted on pestering me about who they served and why.
But now that I think about it, I’ll probably be in the future history books too… Just like my father, we were among the best swords makers in Japan.
As tried to analyze the foreign energies inside her, there was a third knock on the door.
“Enter,” Alonso said in a powerful voice. When he saw the healer, he winced and there was nothing of the lord now. “It’s that time already?”
The man let out a weak laugh as he carefully placed his bag on the desk and took a sealed drink.
“I’m afraid so, my Lord. But,” he looked at the door and then leaned closer, speaking in a low voice. “I’m under Lady Celia’s order to give you the old version of the drink.”
“What? Old version?” Alonso had no idea why, but he too was whispering.
“Yes. She said it’d make you heal faster. But I made a version that doesn’t taste so bad anymore. Lord Diogo didn’t like the taste either and ordered me to come up with one that didn’t taste, in his words, like piss from a cadaver.”
Alonso could help but laugh as he pushed the book and accepted the drink. “It’s just like him. He’d never say anything to me though. That idiot.”
With difficulty, the lord bent his back and drank the healing liquid. Then he remained still while the doctor took the bandages and applied an ointment before wrapping new bandages. As he worked, the man glanced at the book on the desk.
“Oh, I see my lord is studying the history of our kingdom,” he said, his face lighting up with a smile. “It’s always good to find the truth in our past. I don’t think I ever see Lord Diogo reading a book.”
Alonso couldn’t help but snort. “I think he barely knew how to read his own name. But I’m not trying to do… When I was a kid, I always thought this was boring and useless… My father used to smack in the back of the head me every time I told him… Now I found out I was right. This is boring…”
“Then why are you reading, my lord? I told you should be resting.”
“I know, I know. After all these books, I think I should be doing that too… but I need to find out a few things.”
“If I may ask, what truth are you searching, my lord?”
“Records of the Sand-Eaters ever living in our lands,” Alonso said, pulling the book and flipping through the page again. “The Grand priest said they lived here thousands of years before our ancestors showed up. But there’s nothing of that sort… According to the records, these lands were completely empty… She could be lying, but if you think about it, it doesn’t make sense… And that’s not all… It’s strange there’s no record before the kingdom was founded…”
“Ah, yes, my Lord. A lot of our history doesn’t make sense if you think a little about it. However, while I don’t know if it’s true, it does make sense for these lands to be empty.”
“Much before the Kingdom was founded, the beings who lived in these lands vanished.”
“The beings vanished?” Alonso asked with a puzzled expression.
“Yes, my lord. These lands were inhabited by all sorts of being we can’t even imagine. But everything changed during the last Great Change.”
“Great Change? What’s that?”
“Just like us, our world is alive, my Lord. Very few people understand this concept, but our world absorbs Celeste like a human would. It flows deep under the earth, where we can’t reach it. But every ten thousand years, the energy reaches the peak. And every time that happens, some Great Change happens. It’s a phenomenon that can shape the very existence, the very history of the world.”
“W-what happened last time…?” Alonso breathing became heavier and beads of sweat started falling from his brow. He was too interested in what the healer had to say to clean it.
“From what I know, every other form of sentient life vanished and only the humans remained. Before that, this world was like children stories, full of giant lizards who could fly and spit fire. Beautiful fairies who lived forever and lived in harmony with the world. Half human half beast that talked like us. Animals we can’t even imagine. The world was completely different.”
“If that’s true… Is there anything else?”
“Yes, my lord. This age we live in now is called the Era of Humanity. Before that, it was the Era of Extinction, though later it was called the Era of Death and Rebirth.”
“Why it changed?”
“In the previous Great Change twenty thousand years ago, the world suffered a massive extinction. Almost all life vanished. But the little that survived the harsh environment, created a new world. And then if flourished, with life spreading in the four corners of the world.”
Alonso leaned back on the chair. “It’s hard to believe.”
“Indeed it is, my lord. I almost didn’t believe myself when I found out.”
“Where did you find out about this, anyway? It’s not in the books… If it was, I’d have paid more attention.”
“That’s simple, my Lord. It’s the Truth.”
There was a heavy silence as Alonso stared the healer, who showed no expression.
Tetsuko was barely listening. But as she heard the last word, her metal body grew cold. Alonso! He’s a worshiper!
The lord himself had realized it too. Despite his injuries, he raced towards his sword. Holding the scabbard with his feet, the swordsman managed to draw Tetsuko. Panting, and with his body drenched in sweat, he held the weapon with the tip lowered towards the man, his face wincing from the effort.
How come I didn’t notice his energy? Was it because I was sensing the Grand priest presence? Shit!
The healer flashed a serene smile. “There’s no need to strain yourself, my Lord. You can lower your sword. I don’t plan to hurt you. There’s no need for that,” he said in a calm voice, the light from the fire reflecting on his glasses and blocking his eyes.
The swordsman was panting even more. Then he looked down at his chest. With difficulty, he ripped his shirt. When he saw it, he dropped Tetsuko, the metal clanking echoing inside the room.
Carved on Alonso’s chest, as if the blood had boiled from inside out, was the mark of the demon.
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