My name is Lucia. Just Lucia—I lost my last name when I became a slave or, maybe, I never had one at all. I was too young to remember. When I was four, my parents sold me to the traders because they couldn’t weather the winter with an extra mouth to feed and I was the weakest of the litter. From there, I was shipped to the human capital where I was bought by a wealthy noble. Due to his status, he was afraid of his daughter going out to play, but she was lonely and needed a friend. That was me.
Even though I was tasked to be her friend, that didn’t change my status as a slave. I did the chores around the house: cooking, cleaning, dishes, laundry. When the noble’s daughter, Irene, wanted to become a knight, I was told to accompany her. I don’t mean to brag, but I was an exceptional knight compared to Irene. That may or may not have been due to my beastkin traits.
As I got older, Irene’s family fell into harder and harder times. Eventually, I was sold to the Ravenwood army. I was a strong fighter, but as a beastkin, I could only be relegated to the role of a practice dummy or a luggage bearer. When Prince Bryant announced an expedition to the rumored treasure trove of the Godking, I was one of the first to volunteer. They let me come because every year someone would announce the location of the Godking’s treasure, but it was always fake. I never suspected we’d actually find it.
When I was younger, I used to be enchanted by stories of the Godking. He started off as a commoner and, through hard work and perseverance, became the strongest person in the world. The Godking was my idol. During the dark times of my life where I cried myself to sleep every night, I used to think about him and how he overcame all the difficulties he faced. Like everyone else my age, I imagined myself finding Durandal, his legendary sword, and inheriting his legacy.
So when we pushed open the metal gates to the miniature dimension, I knew right away that the handsome sword spirit was Durandal: those washboard abs, those tight pectoral muscles, those toned biceps, those fierce eyes, and that magnificent third le—. Ahem. Anyways. I realized that such a perfect spirit had to be Durandal. There was no way he could be anyone else. I’m ashamed to admit I let out a squeal.
But enough about my embarrassment. I wanted to approach Durandal, to form a contract with him, but I knew my place. Durandal was for the prince, and even the treasures the Godking left behind were for him as well: those … empty … medicine bottles, those … rusty weapons, those moldy books…. What the f***! Why’s everything here crap!? There’s not even a single spirit stone! I made my way to the prince and glared at Durandal, who had given up on fighting and sat down like an old person. No! He definitely wasn’t Durandal! There was no way this was the Godking’s treasure trove, and that spirit was definitely an imposter. ‘I’m Durandal’ my ass! Who would believe that?
I started looking around the miniature dimension some more, hoping there was something worth scavenging. I was about to check out a rusty sword when all my hairs stood on end and my breath disappeared. Such savage killing intent! My palms became slick with sweat, and I saw Forseti step aside. No way, even that battle freak was scared? The crowd of guards parted, and I followed suit, lowering my head to stare at the ground. When the spirit walked, the whole dimension fell silent. I swear I could hear the heartbeats of the guards beside me. Every one of Durandal’s footsteps was like a boulder being dropped on my back.
His foot appeared in my line of sight, and I involuntarily let out a squeak and shiver. Stupid animal instincts! I raised my head and arms, but they froze stupidly in front of my body. Durandal’s gaze was colder than ice. He’s going to kill me. He’s going to kill me. I’m going to die.
Something cold touched my chest, and I stumbled backwards. “Eh?”
What? I think he said something. Did he say, “Accept my sword?”
I looked down and saw my hands holding a sword. I raised my head and made eye contact with Durandal.
“You don’t want it?” Durandal asked and raised an eyebrow.
“Want! I, yes!” My head bobbed up and down as I hugged the longsword to my body tighter. All doubts of whether he was Durandal or not were gone. It wasn’t possible for anyone else to have such a strong killing intent.
“Drip your blood on the pommel.”
Before anyone else could react, I had already bitten my thumb and smeared blood onto the sword. The pommel glowed, and Durandal closed his eyes and inhaled before laughing. He smiled at me. “Good.”
I froze. That was Bryant’s voice. In my euphoria, I had forgotten about him. I bit my lower lip and turned my head. All the guards were staring at me with their hands on their weapons. Bryant’s eyes seemed to be spitting out fire. My tail stiffened, and the bag I was carrying on my back felt ten times heavier. “Y-yes?” Even I could hear my voice crack.
“Surrender Durandal or surrender your life!”
Before I could say anything, a hand came down on my head and scratched me behind my ears. I gasped, and a little moan escaped from my mouth. Hey! I snapped my head towards the offender and saw Durandal laughing at me with his hand in my hair. “Calm down,” he said and smiled, his pearly white teeth winking at me. His face was perfect. His jawline—. Lucia! Stop. Danger.
I shook my head and straightened my back. “Unsheathe me,” Durandal said as he undid the straps of the bag on my back.
I pursed my lips and pulled the sword out of its sheathe. The guards gasped, and Bryant froze in place. My mouth fell open as I stared at the pulsing blade in my hands. Runes danced along its edge, and the light it emitted swallowed the world.
“Close your eyes.”
My eyes closed.
“Can you feel it?” Durandal whispered. His warm breath tickled my ear, and a shiver ran down my spine. That’s when I sensed it. A thread of mana flowing through my body. I nodded. “Let it guide you.”
My body was led by the thread of mana as if it were dancing with me. My arms and legs felt lighter than air, and shivers of pleasure ran down my spine. There was no sight, no sound, no smell. There was only me and Durandal, dancing a dance in a meadow of flowers. I twirled, I leapt, I laughed. When the thread stopped and the blissful feelings faded to nothing, I opened my eyes.
Blood. Limbs. Intestines. The floor around me was a sea of gore. Forseti’s axe-body lay broken in twain underneath my feet. Bryant’s severed head lay on the floor in front of me, his face twisted in a silent scream. I nearly dropped Durandal out of surprise, but my hand wouldn’t let go. We hadn’t danced in a meadow of flowers. We danced a waltz of death. Durandal’s corporeal body sat on top of Forseti’s, his lips smiling at me like the devil with his hand propping up his chin.
Durandal was a demon. I became a murderer. So why did I feel so happy?