Chapter Six: Katayagi, Part Three

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He was stifled. He could feel the hot stone floor printed into his back. The young Shichi gripped tightly to the hem of his shirt as the pain from his pinned legs ate into his nerves. The fire around him was spreading, the building collapsing further and further. Above him, dark smog clouds were beginning to cover the last of the setting daylight.

Leave him! He's Katayagi!

Was that what it meant to be a Katayagi? He thought he could change the value of his name. But after all the years, it was the same. He was not Shichi. He was Katayagi. Perhaps if his family line died with him, the curse of being a Katayagi would die too.

He looked down to the wooden beam that had pinned his legs and glanced left to the fire that was slowly encroaching. His legs weren't broken or fractured, simply pinned. He could call for help. There was a chance to survive. But maybe he shouldn't. Maybe it was best if his family line ended with him. His parents would miss him, sure. But the world wouldn't. And what kind of selfish person would he be to deny a good deed for the world? They might even hold a parade to celebrate the end of the Katayagi line.

"Maybe I should die..." he muttered to himself.

A wooden spear dropped beside him and he angled his head and saw dark eyes staring at him. Looking down on him was a man. Hair shadowed and wild. Black coat, shirt, pants and boots covered his body. Yet, the man's skin was bright and fair, like someone who had not left the shade for years.

"Katayagi this. Katayagi that." The man spat. "Annoying kids."

"A-are you here to save me?" Shichi asked.

"Nope." The man left the spear on the floor and took a seat on a neighbouring chair that had not yet been burnt. From his coat, he pulled out a roll of smoke and lit it with a flame from the burning surrounding. "You're going to save yourself."

Shichi huffed in pain. "The other kids... that you ran into... are they safe?" He could tell the man was strong. No one could keep that much calm in such dangerous situations without confidence in their strength.

"Don't know. An unspawn was attacking them last I saw."

"You didn't save them?"

"Nope."

"Why?" Shichi exclaimed. "Why save me and not them?"

"I'm not saving you. You are."

"They were kids!" He was furious. Lives, snuffed out by the choice of one man.

"So are you," the man replied, taking drags of his smoke.

"There's just one of me!"

"They were pricks."

"They could change!"

"So could you."

Shichi gritted his teeth. The fire was spreading closer. There was a possibility the other kids were still alive. If he could get there in time, his magic might give them a fighting chance. He picked up the spear and shoved the tip under the beam at an angle. He shifted what he could of his body and positioned it slightly under the spear handle. With two hands on the pole, he pushed, leveraging the weight of the beam against the spear.

"Argh!" he grunted and spat. He could feel the pressure lifting off his legs. The beam was almost glued to his pants and it pulled apart like adhesive. Once freed, he pushed his body out while holding onto the weight of the beam by the spear. Apart from his jail, he let the spear go and the beam crashed to the ground.

He was out. He was alive. Panting. It started raining, building from drizzling to a downpour quickly as droplets sizzled through the burning house. He turned to the man glared.

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