1 I, Who Fell Asleep Only to Awake

The soft patter of rain echoed through the empty hall, pierced silent room, and walked in hollowed air.

A once pristine ballroom, curtains of silk laced with gold, jade, and quarts making up the flooring, with large pillars of polished stone leading to a ceiling of pained murals. During a sunny day, large glass windows would bathe the area in natural light.

It would make for a beautiful view, and even as the floor held gouges from misplaced blade-strikes, the silk curtains heavy with soaked blood on the ground, the pillars chipped as the ceiling creaked, it still held an air of beauty.

Matching the tempo of the rain, metal against hard material voiced from within this room, lightning strikes framing their silhouettes against the shattered windows. White strands of hair hovered in the air, cut from near-dodges, accompanied by bits of metal shrapnel from impacting armor.

"SAMUEL! THE SPELL IS ABOUT TO ACTIVATE, GET OUT OF THERE!"

A woman's voice shrieked from the halls, a desperate tone in her voice.

Samuel, the man whom she was speaking to, darted his emerald eyes to the window, a strike of lightning accompanying his realization.

"ANNETTE-"

Before he could shout out to his ally, ten sharp blades clashed against his single one. Tracing up them, the blades were shown to be the blackened and gangrened fingers of a devilish looking old woman, sharpened and extended into an almost-steel like material.

Chimamire, the rotted queen. The one he was here to kill. Did he think of running away, before he could achieve that? Leaving Annette behind with her? He couldn't, he wouldn't.

In a brief moment, the rain stopped. He could see how he could win. He would do the impossible, he knew he could do it. His blade crackling with lightning, he pushed it forward, through those steeled fingers, and into the neck of that horrible old woman. He looked into her eyes, one a black void. The other didn't belong to her. He wasn't sure how he knew that, but that was always the feeling he got when he saw it.

"ROTTEN QUEEN, I SENTENCE YOU TO DEATH!"

He screamed at the top of his lungs, her head falling to the jade floor.

"Y-you... WORM! I'LL BE BACK! I'LL KILL YOU! I'LL KILL EVERYONE YOU L-"

Before she could continue, he couldn't hold back his anger. A wet impact and her skull broke open in a mushy puddle. His pure-white armor was already stained in his blood, so hers didn't stand out much. It was strange, but he always had thought her blood would be black. Seeing it was no different than his own, the fact that she was still human despite everything...

He couldn't help it. Already in knots from nerves and fear, his stomach tightened and bile rose in his throat. He only stopped when Annette reached him.

"... W-we did it. You did it.... ah! Now's no time to celebrate, Diotla's barrier is about to activate! Let's go!"

The soft sound of rain grew to a roar, at that moment. Accompanied by the glittering glass,

He had leaped through the window with a maiden in his arms.

Landing on the wet mud, behind him a rose-gold sheet of pure mana surrounded the castle. Even if she was dead, this much was necessary to prevent her return.

"Ah, shit... I think I sprained my ankle."

After a moment of silence, after all, that happened, a simple injury like this, was almost hilarious. He couldn't help but laugh.

Sheltered under the trees, a figure wrapped head to toe in bandages, a large witches cap shading their eyes from view. Despite their appearance, this was the great magician Diotla.

"... So, that's it? ... it was more anticlimactic than I expected from such an infamous demon."

She spoke. Diotla is known for being the brains behind the rebellion and was the true heir to the monarchy before Chimamire had slain her family. The main reason she wore bandages was due to her being injured in that fight.

"... well? What are you standing there in the rain for? We've won! Shouldn't we go tell the others?"

A smile creased the bandages, and she offered a hand to Samuel.

In that moment, he no longer wished to return home; this was his home now, wasn't it?

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Her fingers twitched. Her eye rolled in its socket, looking out the window. She could no longer hear the rain, and through the broken window a gray-pink film clouded the forest. It must have been that bitch, the dog she skinned. She should have killed her then, even if she was only a child.

She was still alive though, she couldn't die even if she wanted to. Of course, unless she could find material to heal her wounds, she would be stuck a headless corpse with a shattered skull.

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Her body stood up, unevenly, stumbling blindly. She would have to move by touch, someone should still be here. Walking herself through the hall, she felt it. Digging her nails in, she at least stopped her blood from flowing. When her body returned, she reattached the broken remains of her head.

Her skull began to piece itself back together, her flesh mending. Standing up, she looked out the broken window.

".... FUCK!"

She shrieked.

"Ah, this isn't good! I won't be able to break this, it'll be YEARS before it falls! By then, he'll already be dead!"

She complained, kicking a table across the hall.

"Right, I'll just have to erase his bloodline instead... hmm, but the other issue... the curse."

By the time she could escape, she would have around a hundredth of her current strength.

"... worms. Disgusting, horrible insects! Less than the dirt I walk upon, the shit I step in! I hate them, I hate them, I HATE THEM!"

She screamed again as she slashed one of the pillars in half. The ceiling croaked in complaint, but the other pillars were enough to hold it up. Even if she used every dead man in this building, she couldn't stop her death. The longest she could live was a hundred more years, and that would be exhausting all the supplies in this castle, meaning that she would have many shorter lives afterward. If the barrier held for the maximum 500 years, then... she'd die around 41 times.

"... Hah. Well. Things were too easy anyway."

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