24a. Retreat [Ushiro route]
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I have no idea how much time as passed. It was quiet, almost as if the world itself had vanished. I couldn't open my eyes... or for that matter, move anything. My whole body felt as heavy as lead. It felt almost tranquill as I laid there not moving a muscle.

But a piercing yell shook me awake. And I remembered what I had to do. I saw the two girls huddled up together as two of the three guys approached them, the small kid still knocked out unconscious from Yamatsu's barrage.

I tried pushing myself upward, but all the muscles and bones in my body were on the brink of collapse. Only after a considerable amount of forcing myself to get my ass up did I manage after a lot of pain to do it.

I slowly staggered towards them with no clear goal in mind. The only thing I could think about is somehow rescuing Yamatsu if it isn't too late already. It was an awful idea for us to fight them, but in the end I'll have to see it through.

Looking down at the grassy field, I could see a trail of blood leave my body with every step I make towards them. I didn't feel concerned, it's not like there's much to do about it, and I don't think I'll die just yet. The color contrast actually helps keeping my mind off of things. I know what's gonna happen, I'm likely gonna be beat up again. Hopefully this time I'll stay standing though till the end.

Yamatsu's expression stiffened further as she peered towards me as I kept inching ever closer. I must look pretty fucked up if that's the kinda face I get from her. Still, I'll save her, no matter how bad it may seem now. After that I can stand by the riverside looking at what happened to me all I want.

5 metres away and nobody but her had yet noticed me. The two guys were too busy gloating, and talking about how much they deserved to be beaten up, mocked and bullied. I couldn't care less about the details. I took a deep, quiet breath.

And slowly... steadily... pulled my arms back.

And pushed, biting through the pain, and flinging the two into the river as they helplessly ragdoll into the water. It felt as if I broke every bone in my hand, stilling pain coming from seemingly tens of thousands of directions.

I looked at Yamatsu, who had an expression of a terrified girl, unlike the front she's been holding up so far. She has bruises and cuts as far as the eye could reach. Yamatsu's friend couldn't even keep her eyes open, though I could still see streams of tears coming through from them.

I grabbed their arms and pulled them up with whatever strength I have. We don't have much time.

"Grab the backpack and let's go."

She quietly did as I told, knowing that there's nothing to be done here.

In the end, even though we got what we needed, we still lost. The only ones getting taught a lesson was us.

And it's probably me to blame for it.