So that’s how I died, Tetsuko thought, letting the reality sink into her mind. I’m dead…
A sensation of emptiness filled her soul. I was stupid and too careless… whenever I see a gun, I lose my mind… If I only had left my forge with a finished blade… Damn… there was still so much I wanted to do…
I always wanted the chance to use that foreign metal again… To let my hands and mind do whatever they wanted with that.
I still remember those spikes that girl brought… that was an amazing metal… so different from the ones we had… Just the memory of making that sword… How many times did I dream of putting that blade against a barbarian sword?
But now I never will… Damn it… why did I have to die so soon?
No matter how much she mourned, there was no changing the reality.
The blacksmith known as Tetsuko had died.
Then how can I still think? Where am I?
She looked around. At once she knew where she was.
A battlefield… Tetsuko had seen too many to not recognize one. But even for her, it was a brutal scene. As far as she could see, it had been a massacre.
Looks like I fell into the world of humans again…
Most of the dead around her share the same traits; they wore no armor, their weapons were of poor metal or even made of wood, and they had a dark green paint over their faces.
Tetsuko reached out to check the closest weapon, but she couldn’t move. She couldn’t feel her body.
She tried to raise at least her hand, but realized she had no arm. She looked down, and instead of her body, there was a sword.
A long, thin, one-handed, double-edged sword. The handle was big enough to swing with both hands if needed and there were no writings or ornaments anywhere.
I became a sword… a barbarian sword…
The words echoed in her mind, followed by silence. The next moment, she burst into a laugh.
I spent my entire life making swords. I dedicated my entire life to the blades. I even abandoned the happiness of a woman to remain on the path of a blacksmith! And now I became a sword in the afterlife!
It took a while until she stopped laughing.
Guess what father used to say was true; a blacksmith does put their souls into their work. And someone somehow put mine soul into this blade… too bad it had to be a barbarian sword…
I wonder if I ever did that too?
After a few moments thinking, she gave up. It won’t lead me anywhere, she thought, sighing in her mind.
The woman, no, the sword didn’t know what to feel. Guess it was my destiny… turning into a blade…
But it’s strange… Even without eyes, she could see the death around her. Even without ears, she could hear the crows in the sky. Even without a nose, she could smell the stench of blood.
Even without a body, she still had her senses.
Knowing she wouldn’t reach an answer no matter how much she tried, Tetsuko gave up. She turned her attention to her new body.
This blade is well made, the blacksmith inside her soul thought somewhat grudgingly.
Despite being a Japanese sword maker, she couldn’t help but admire the foreign ones. Even with the battle around, there’s not a single chip or scratch along the edges. And the metal… it’s a strange alloy…
But that wasn’t what caught her attention. There was something inside the metal, inside her.
I feel something strange coming from it… from my new body… like a faint stream…
No matter how much she tried, she couldn’t figure out what it was. But she could definitely feel it.
It was a sort of flow running through the metal. It’s like there’s an energy running inside me, both warm and cold…
Tetsuko concentrated on that flow, trying to control it, to redirect it…
But no matter how much she tried, nothing happened.
Giving up, Tetsuko continued to examine her new body, her sight run along the blade, the blacksmith in her analyzing every inch of the sword.
Only then she noticed; her tip was piercing someone.
When she saw the familiar face of the cadaver she stabbed in the gut, she felt a feeling of emptiness overtaking her.
Me… I’m stabbing myself…
But it can’t be me, she thought after a while.
The dead woman whose corpses Tetsuko’s new body stabbed was taller, with a slightly darker skin and a beautiful long red hair.
Her face looks like mine… almost identical, actually… but I don’t think this woman was a blacksmith too… there’s no sign of it. On her skin, nor her hands… She was a hunter or a warrior…
But Tetsuko ended up on her face.
Why does this woman have my face?
A low groan caught Tetsuko’s attention.
Underneath one of the piles of dead bodies, something moved. The top cadaver rolled over and a hand appeared, the fingers bloody and dirty.
With great effort, the hand pushed and pulled until the owner was free.
The short man wore the same clothes as most of the dead around him. There was some trace of paint on his face, but most was gone due to blood, dirt, and sweat.
The man panted. Just the effort of standing seemed too much for him. Even so, he looked around, his face full of pain at first. But the moment he saw his surroundings, sorrow filled his eyes.
He dragged himself through the battlefield, turning his head in every direction in the hope of finding anyone else still alive.
He spoke something, but Tetsuko didn’t understand him.
What language is he speaking? That’s not Japanese.
Then finally his eyes found Tetsuko.
But when he saw the dead body pierced by the blade, the pain disappeared from his face and was replaced by a desolation.
The former blacksmith knew at once. He loved this woman.
Tears rolled down the man’s face as he dragged himself towards her.
Ignoring his pain, he tried to pull Tetsuko out of the woman, but he had no strength. The sword didn’t move at all.
Giving up, he sat next to the woman. With great care, he lifted her head as much as he could.
“Lia… Hey, Lia… talk to me… please… let me hear your sweet voice singing again… like the old times… please…” He spoke through his tears, caressing the woman’s face with a thumb.
But Tetsuko knew no matter how many times he called the woman he loved, she would never talk to him, she would never open her eyes again.
I can’t feel that faint stream of energy flowing inside her…
Then Tetsuko realized something. I just understood him. But why? When he was talking before, I didn’t… Was it because he touched me?
The man kissed the woman on the forehead, his tears falling on her.
He closed his eyes embraced her head gently, crying even more.
Even when there was no more voice in his cry, Tetsuko could feel his pain.
After a long time, after he accepted the truth, the tears finally stopped.
He couldn’t cry anymore. He was an empty man now.
There was only grieve in those red and swollen eyes.
The rest of the world didn’t matter any more. There was only the woman he loved.
The man gently put the woman named Lia on the ground again.
Careful to avoid the blade, he picked up her arms and crossed them over her chest.
He stood where he was for a long time, watching the face of the woman he loved.
Then, when only the sound of the crows on the sky could be heard, a distant laughter tore through the silence.
The man took his eyes from the woman and turned towards the sound.
The voice grew louder. Then it was joined by another, also full of a joy that didn’t match the deaths on the field.
The man looked at Lia and then at the sword.
His face lost the trace of sorrow. His breathing became stronger and deeper as the rage filled the man.
“Sleep well, dear,” he whispered, kissing the woman on the forehead. “I’ll finish what we started and then I’ll meet you.”
He forced himself to stand up. When he stopped panting, he closed his eyes and reached out for the sword.
The moment his fingers closed around the handle, Tetsuko, the soul inside the blade, felt a jolt.
The energy inside her reacted to the man’s grip. It became warmer, faster.
I can sense it in him too… he has a similar energy flowing inside him…
But at the same time, she knew once one thing; that man was also important to the woman who shared the same face and fate as her.
I don’t know your name, boy, but this woman, Lia, wanted you to live. She’d never want you to join her later. Don’t do it, she tried to tell him, but her voice belonged only to her.
Damn it… I kept my senses, but I can’t speak to him.
She tried to concentrate on the energy inside her, to control and pour some of it into his hand.
It made no difference; even if her energy reacted to his grip, she still couldn’t control it.
Though she didn’t know his name, Tetsuko felt sorry for him.
Because of that, she wanted to stop him, to oppose him as he pulled her out of Lia’s body.
But there was nothing she could do except watch.
The young man was exhausted and in pain.
It was clear on his pale face.
And yet he found strength with each step he took towards the voices.
On a little rock formation, there were the four men who could laugh on the battlefield.
His steps became faster and faster until he was running towards them.
“I’ll kill you all!” he screamed to them, putting Tetsuko before him.
Fool, Tetsuko thought, closing the eyes she no longer had. You should’ve taken advantage and attack from behind.
But she knew he would never do that. Even if she had never seen the young man, something inside her knew he would never use or do something so low as to attack from behind.
He’s a fool. An honest fool who’d never use dirty tricks…
As the men turned to him, Tetsuko realized.
This boy will die. To her surprise, the thought saddened her a little.
“Hey, look. Someone’s still alive,” the man who was laughing said, running his hand through his short hair.
“Not alive, just moving,” another one answered, shaking his head. “And it’s the traitor.”
“You should’ve just played dead and used the chance to escape,” the bold one said.
“Yeah. You just lost your chance to live, traitor.”
As the laughs roared, Tetsuko felt the boy tightening his grip around her handle. He bit his lips and breathed hard through his nose.
“A member… of the Forest tribe… would never escape,” the young man managed to scream, positioning the sword before him.
Three of them laughed, but the fourth only closed his eyes and shook his head.
“So you chose death over a future, Fael,” he said in a grave voice. “Even if you’re a traitor, it’s sad that we have to take the life of a fellow countryman.”
“A fellow countryman?” Despite his hard expression, the rage boiled inside him.
Tetsuko could feel it. The energy inside him was flowing out of control. If he used that, could he get stronger? Could he win?
“We’re not countryman! You, the kingdom has never helped us. Not even when we were dying!”
The man showed a sorrowful expression. “It’s a shame you feel that way…”
“Captain, let us take care of him,” the bold one said.
“There’s no need for you dirty your blade any further.”
The moment he finished talking, he drew his weapon, followed by the other two. The metal of their armor clinked as they stood up to face the young man.
Only the captain remained as he was.
Fael lowered his sword and ran towards them.
Foolish boy, Tetsuko thought. She was a blacksmith, not a swordswoman, but she also knew how to fight.
A blacksmith who can use their own work isn’t a blacksmith at all, he father used to say when he was alive. Only by knowing how to use a sword, you can make one.
So Tetsuko knew how to judge people’s strength to some degree.
Fael, listen to my voice, listen to your sword. Even if you’re around the same level, rushing towards many enemies without a plan will only lead to your death, Tetsuko thought, trying to convey her feelings through her energy.
But once again, nothing happened. Her voice never reached him.
Tetsuko could only watch as the boy swung her with all the strength he had left.
The man with short hair raised his ax to block.
The former human braced herself for the pain.
But when metal collided against metal, she felt nothing.
It didn’t hurt me, Tetsuko realized with some surprise. Guess since I’m a weapon, I was made to slash and attack and kill… this kind of thing shouldn’t hurt… to some degree…
Short hair swung his weapon towards Fael.
The boy avoided by taking a step forward.
He slammed his shoulder into his enemy with all his weight.
He’s more used to fighting than he seems… To not take a step back before an enemy like that, Tetsuko thought as she watched both men fell together on the ground.
Before Short hair could do anything, Fael used both hands to thrust Tetsuko at the man’s gut.
The screams filled the battlefield. Once more the earth drank down the blood, it’s thirst unquenchable.
And it wouldn’t be the last time.
“How dare you!” one of his comrades shouted, bringing his hammer down on the boy.
Fael rolled to sideways to escape death and stood up with the sword in hands.
Idiot! Behind you, Tetsuko screamed into her soul when the third man attacked him from behind with a scream.
She didn’t know if he had heard her or not, but Fael ducked, his head escaping the blade for inches.
He jumped backward, slamming his head on the man’s chin.
Bold fell in pain, the blood spilling from his mouth as a piece of his tongue flew in the air.
Fael didn’t waste time and swung Tetsuko at the man, aiming at his neck.
He couldn’t avoid in time, the blade slashing his throat.
Panting and soaked in blood that wasn’t his, Fael turned to the enemy with the hammer.
The man swung his heavy weapon towards the boy.
It’s a faint! Don’t block! Charge, once again Tetsuko screamed when she realized what the enemy planned.
Instead of blocking or dodging, Fael took a step forward. He thrust Tetsuko at the man’s neck.
Hammer moved out of the way, but the sword pierced him on the chest. Even if he wore an armor, it could do nothing against Tetsuko’s sharpness.
He screamed and fell, letting go of his weapon to try to stop the bleeding with his hands.
Incredible… This boy’s stronger than I’d imagined, Tetsuko thought, turning her vision to look at her wielder’s face.
No… it’s not that he’s stronger… he has simply given up surviving… He’s focusing everything he has left in his attacks and abandon any defense.
Panting even more, Fael turned to the captain, who until now only watched.
The tall man closed his eyes, his face showing a somber expression.
But when he opened them again, there was no sorrow in him anymore.
He stopped seeing a fellow countryman.
All he could only see an enemy he had to kill. For the sake of his country.
But even under that stare, under that killing intent, Fael didn’t hesitate.
All the boy did was raise his sword towards his last enemy.
Even if she no longer had a mouth, Tetsuko felt herself smiling.
He’s a cornered beast who’ll fight to his last breath…
Someone that’s worthy of wielding a sword like me.