He determined there were seven men total, three, maybe four, directly ahead, two to his side and three more directly behind. Had he been alone, he wouldn’t have given another thought to taking them all on in an instant. But now, with his daughter close at hand?
For the first time in years, Doboro found himself wishing his eyes worked, that he had the advantage of using that precious sense to divine his attackers’ strategy. Panic rose within him like a fast-spreading fungus.
Taking on the men backstage, one at a time, was one thing. He had surprised even himself with that feat, which was nothing short of miraculous, praise be to God. The men at his lair, too, while less spectacular, was remarkable.
His sword became leaden in his hands just then, an iron weight—and rusted at that. What was he thinking? He couldn’t see! Wasn’t a superhero, like Daredevil or the embodiment of some legendary or mythological character, like the fictional Zatoichi. He was limited and entirely mortal, something which Baek’s training and inspiring words could not change. The best he could hope for would be to stay alive long enough, and keep these men distracted long enough, to provide Mikinzi—Drew an opportunity to escape unharmed.
“Doboro,” he heard Drew whisper, “I’m so afraid. I-I don’t want to die.” She repeated, her voice faltering, “I don’t want to die.”
I don’t want you to die.
And he realized, with cold difference, that protecting Drew was merely part of his reason for remaining in Kansas City, for locating her. If he had merely sought to keep her out of harm’s way, he would have simply left. But no. That wasn’t the point. He didn’t just want to keep her from harm.
He wanted…needed to protect his daughter. To return to her with that expressed purpose. That was the entire reason for him being here now, as harrowing as their situation was, he was here as a father protecting his little girl. The ultimate action…perhaps the ultimate sacrifice. But he would protect her. Nothing, no one, no harm would reach her tonight.
Over his shoulder he threw back, “Piggyback.”
“What?” she asked.
“Piggyback,” he repeated. “Up on my shoulders. Hold on to me tight. And don’t let go. The Lord goes before me and I will fight for you.”
He felt her tremble and indeed hesitate. But only for a moment. Then he felt her jump up, looping her arms around his shoulders and then his neck, her legs wrapping around his waist, hooking against him.
For five seconds, he heard nothing but her panting.
Then Yu shouted, “Kogeki!”