Tsubaki felt Black Star's battle resolve surge. She felt every minute movement of muscle and spirit, his left hand gripping her more tightly to make up for the broken fingers on his right, his soul wavelength no longer resonating with hers. She had bowed to his wishes and become no more than any other ordinary sword, but even though she had taken her spirit out of the fight, she could not remove her body. She felt a shift in Black Star's grip, and the trajectory of his hands moving in for the killing blow. Tsubaki wanted to tranform right there, to embrace the man who was doing nothing more than protecting his only child, to keep Black Star away from the path of blood that had swallowed his home and clan. She wanted to stay the hand of the cycle of violence, but she also knew that neither the samurai nor the assassin would thank her for it. Mifune was cornered- for him, mercy meant death for his beloved ward. Black Star would keep on fighting, even without her, and without a weapon, he would be destroyed. She couldn't allow that to happen, but in the end she did not have the choice. In the split second after she thought all this, she felt it. First the tearing of his shirt, then his skin; the grinding of blade upon bone as she slid over his rib, the delicate sponginess of the lung, and finally, as Black Star gave his last ounce of strength, she punched through the tought and stringy muscles of his back. She felt them tense, bringing his own sword down in a powerful slash, and then relax, dropping his own blade and instead reaching his arm around to embrace her partner and lower him gently to the ground. Black Star's fingers released their grip on her, and as the connection between them broke, Tsubaki was keenly aware of the blood flowing around her, the liquid bubbling as Mifune struggled harder for each subsequent breath, and the all-too-close thumps of his heart, so much slower than Black Star's in any case, and now becoming farther and farther apart.

"Magnificent," she heard, as the word resonated throughout his body. It was for Black Star, and not for her. How could this be magnificent? And then, more quietly, she alone heard him whisper. "I'm sorry… Angela."

It was the least she could do. As he stumbled, Tsubaki was there to hold him up, tears welling in her eyes. It wasn't fair. It was he who had inspired Black Star to become stronger, it was he who had allowed them to unlock the power of her family's line.

"Take me… as close to the castle as you can."

They walked slowly towards the castle, and Tsubaki could feel the urgency in his halting steps. What would become of the little witch now? She knew he felt the same way towards her as she felt towards Black Star, the need to protect. She choked out a sobbing laugh as she considered the similarities between her partner and the tiny girl.

"Of course."

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AN: Dialogue comes from the chapter itself, translated by piteku, accessed on One Manga.

Well, this was mostly written as catharsis for chapter 58. I'm a big fan of this pairing, so I was glad Tsubaki was the last person to be with Mifune, but still.... I hope she will find An, and be able to do something for her. I'm sorry for the gore, but that's how I think. Feel free to comment, critique, discuss, mourn...