Chapter 29: The Great General’s Final Resolve
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The great general had still been unmoving within that small darkened room. There, he repeatedly mumbled to himself. It seemed he was calming down from his delusional rampage. She stood propped besides the door with her hands crossed. On the outside was Rinn, and on the inside was the suffering general.

“So Rinn? What is it you want to do?”

“Th- that man needs help...r-right?”

“And so he does. Though I must warn you. This is nothing similar to what you’ve experienced before. Corruption Magic. It's something that I don’t quite understand myself. In short, the great general here is not under any illusion techniques. There’s quite the chance that you will be stuck with his torment for the rest of your life.” The general's eyes stared back at the young girl who was standing still by the door’s frame. 

“I...I- don’t want to do this… anymore..” Her hands were clenched tightly. “I hate this ability. I hate feeling this terrible all the time. I hate THIS!” She sobbed. Clasping her hands around her head. “It's too much.”

“I… understand… y-you too, live a life of sacrifice.” The general moved his frailed hands and slowly inched himself off of the floor. Finally, he was sitting upright. With all that effort he took, it was only to kneel in front of her. “I don’t have much time. I need to be free of this ailment. Even if just for a while. The balance of the entire country falls upon it… no…. The entire world.”

“Great general, though you desire to protect this country, that is your burden and yours alone. Should you resolve to push all of that on another, do you believe they should just accept it?”

The general looked up at her. For the first time, he was acknowledging that she was there. Before, it was as if he had tunnel vision, only staring at the direct object capable of resolving all of his problems. 

“This pain that you cannot endure enough to continue fighting, even when your country is at stake. Do you truly intend to push that upon another. Can you say you fought the hardest for your country with your own power?”

The general remained quiet. “If one requires power, they will acquire it. However, I do have to question how you can reach such a state… by all means, if you truly fought for your country against such a creature, you’d not be alive right now.”

His hands clenched up as he understood and felt the shame of having abandoned his duty begin to outweigh his consciousness. “Could it be… that you fled, mr general? After-all, from what I heard about these creatures, they are on a whole different level.”

“No.. you’re right.” He slowly got up. With all of his strength. It was almost painful to watch him do so. He had lost quite a lot of weight and muscle mass. One would think he had been starved for at least a year. The signs of stress and lack of sleep were apparent on his face.

His blade was still besides him and he slowly unsheathed it. “I ran. I ran away in the sight of that kind of power. It is unfair for me to ask of you to fulfil a duty thrust upon you… that I myself could not bear to take. I’ve truly been selfish these past couple of days. I will not thrust it upon you. You may refuse anything I ask…” 

The young girl was shocked. This was the first time she had been given permission to refuse a mission. She stood trembling at the sight of the night who held his sword stabbed into the wood. “I…- I don’t know what to do” Rinn who had only lived a life of helping others at her own expense was now stuck in a crossroad. On one hand, she can refuse. On the other, it is as if she was doing a direct assault on the man by refusing. 

“We humans are bound by our desires, Rinn. You may think that you don’t have a desire, but it seems you do. You would truly be happy once you stop this nonsensical loop you’ve gotten you’ve allowed to happen. Fight for what you want. Even if it means walking over those you are saddened to leave be.”

“I… don’t want to help.” Those words saddened her to speak to no extent. But it felt relieving once she was finally able to convict herself to say it. “But… I will.” She could do this. After-all, she had already endured deeper pain than anything else when she touched the Witch. Her hands were shaking, but she was very much ready. “Not because I have to… but this time, I truly… have a choice. After this, I don’t think there will be any more.”

The young man laughed. He laughed so hard that he began to cough, and a little bit of blood escaped his mouth. “No. That is fine.” He stood up straight this time and inhaled deeply. “As much as I would like to be alleviated from this kind of ailment, I cannot push the burden on someone else.”

This was an interesting turn of events. “Yeah… I can’t possibly. Even now, you who never abandoned what was forced on you… even when you had a choice. You’re much stronger than I.”

His blade was held outwards as if he was engaging in combat. With the stance he held, it was almost like one could forget he was dying. “I’ve fought a long time for this country… but truly, I see now… my vision’s been clouded. I’d sooner drag the country in a world of further turmoil.. All for my own gain.”

At this point he held his blade out towards Lusha. “You are pretty strong aren’t you? If you took out the guy earlier… I don’t even see scratches on you. You people are all the same…. You’re on the same plane of existence as that thing earlier…. Unfathomable. Will you please accept my request?”

“Hm? And what would that request be?”

“Fight me. Give me a chance to redeem my failures… Fight me like a warrior. You can do this can’t you?” As he held his blade, it began to falter. “No… nevermind. You WILL do this.” 

Ah so that's it. Taking hold of what you want. I’ll have to fight you anyways. She stood up straight and withdrew her broken sword. Manipulation Magic [Spirit of the Former]. This time however, it was like nothing she had done before with manipulation magic. The energy in it made the blade large enough to fill the room. It was thicker than any of the other blades she had seen or done herself, and the buzzing noise could be heard loud, as if a thousand cicadas had suddenly awoken. 

Against the overwhelming power, the Great General laughed. Perhaps this is how he should have stood back then. Even as the monster toyed with him. “Then I will too… Soul Magic [Unwa-] The blade that she held in her hand pierced through the captain quicker than he could finish his sentence. Actually, quicker than he could move. A nasty portion of the room had been cut in half. The general, and all.

There was a smile on his face as he flew through the sky. “Now where in the world…. Did you learn something like soul Magic…” She would have liked to ask the man that question directly, but she did not have enough time. That man could not have been allowed to complete his technique.

Soul magic was an extremely dangerous area of effect style of combat. One that ignores all armors and cannot be dodged so long as you’re in range. It can dismantle the very essence of people, attacking their core over time. If he had used it just now, for someone as young as Rinn, she’d have died. 

Though it didn’t seem like the Great General was intending on utilizing it… he must’ve uttered it to die faster. Now that she realized it. The man’s eyes trailed her movement, yet he smiled and refused to dodge.  

 

The clean slice went through everything, armor, sword, flesh bones and all. But this was not truly a fight of a warriors last stand. This was the fight of someone embracing death.

But still... to wonder how the man came to learn how to utilize soul magic was still baffling. Perhaps there became a school in the teachings of it. No... that was a mystery for later. Its clear now how the Great General got his title.

"As for you..." He walked over to the young girl, Rinn and knelt beside her. "If I were speaking honestly, I consider you special. However, Ive already completed my mission. I may simply leave you here, and no doubt you'll become entangled back into the you so sought to escape." 

 

Rinn nodded. "I understand." Lusha smiled. "Good. However, there are two things you've done wrong that I cannot let slide." She placed a finger on the young child's head. 

 

"The first is that you got in the way of my goal. The outcome back then if I wasn't under your influence, may have turned favorable. I may have just died and put an end to my thousand years of despair." 

Lusha nodded as the girls eyes widened. "T-thousand?" Lusha nodded. "The first one,  I may be able to forgive you for. Because I was the one who chose to catch you. The second one however, is that you failed to disclose to me the nature of this mission when I asked. Had you done so... I may have found a different way to catch you. Ultimately, I know this technique is bound to wear off. Be it a month or a year, or maybe even this century. You will not always be alive to cast it again." She sighed. 

"That encounter with the two HERO ranked adventurers, may have just been my only chance in a while. The last time someone got in the way of my death, their entire kingdom fell. Do you understand?" 

 

Fear began to fill her eyes. Lusha had a trailing way of talking that tends to connect threads in one's head before it shows the full picture. She understood now more than ever. She was going to die. 

 

"However, I do want to see how far a unique being like you can go. So survive this, and you'll become someone worthy of standing by me."

"I-" 

 

[INFINITE DESPAIR.]

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