The Armored Titan managed to land a hit on Gunther, which sent his body flying.
Many of the scouts were riding around the Armored Titan on their horses, but most of them didn't dare approach him.
Mikasa almost succeeded to free Eren, but was kicked down by Bertolt and Sasha caught her just in time.
Eld also fell victim to the Armored Titan, and his bloody corpse flashed in slow motion in front of Captain Levi's eyes.
- I will avenge you.
A dangerous spark ignited in the Captain's dark eyes, and he headed straight for the Armored Titan. Right at the same time Erwin attacked Bertolt.
Firm resolve resonated from the Commander's features, and Bertolt was caught by surprise. The Armored Titan turned his attention to them, but Captain Levi quickly changed that.
- Pay attention to me, you asshole!
The Captain managed to find a spot on the Armored Titan's legs which wasn't covered in armor and slashed across it, which led to the Titan losing its balance for a bit.
At that point Erwin managed to cut Eren's confines, who as a result started falling down, but was quickly caught by Jean,
who turned his horse around and rode as far away from the Armored Titan as possible.
- Now it's our turn, Armin!
I hold on to him, and Armin uses his 3D maneuver gear to get us both closer to the Armored Titan, where he drops me on his shoulder.
I take advantage of Bertolt's panicked state from what just happened to quickly capture him in a tight grip, and press the blade I prepared against his throat. Sure, I had to stand on my toes, ‘cause he’s a damn giant, but I somehow managed. I shout at the top of my lungs.
The Armored Titan's head turns to me.
- I know you can hear me. I don't want to do this, so don't make me do it. Just...leave...
My expression is a mixture between anger and sadness, and involuntary tears are gathering in my eyes.
From inside the Armored Titan Reiner is taken aback.
"What the hell is she doing? If even a drop of Bertolt's blood is shed, he can turn into the Colossal Titan. Doesn't she realize that??"
But then he saw her desperate tears, and his heart throbbed painfully in his chest.
- You know, don't you? You are aware of all the risks, and you came with nothing but a blade, begging me to stop this. I could easily crush you...
but you know I won't, just like I couldn't kill you.
Reiner clenched his teeth in irritation. What he saw in her actions was the soldier he could never become. He was painfully aware of what he’s about to do.
I can feel the slight shaking of Bertolt's body. Everyone's gazes are on me. They are watching intently at the strange situation, unfolding before their eyes.
After a moment that lasts painfully long, the Armored Titan nods with his head. I loosen my grip on Bertolt.
To my surprise, the Armored Titan offers me his big hand, which I climb on hesitantly, and carefully places me down on the ground. I look up at him, not able to move my gaze.
- Thank you, Reiner.
I utter the words, and watch after the Armored Titan's departure. I fall down on my knees. My body is trembling from all the tears rolling down my face.
The Commander kneels in front of me. I can't bear to look up at him.
He wraps his arms around my shaking body and the sudden rush of warmth nearly suffocates me, since the battle of emotions inside of me makes it hard to breathe properly.
Erwin starts to pet my hair, and whispers reassuring words in my ear.
- It's alright now, my dear. Everything is alright.
- Y-yes - I half sniffle, half answer him.
- Let's go home, Desi.
I look up at him, and nod. He wipes some of my tears away, and offers me his hand. I take it, and he helps me climb up on his horse. We repeat the same position from before.
Mikasa approaches us. She is actually smiling.
- I don't know how to thank you, Desi.
- Me? I didn't do much. Everyone is responsible for our success today.
- Even so, thanks to you, both of them left without Eren. I don't know how you did it, but thank you.
- You're welcome, I guess.
If you only knew how guilty I feel for being completely useless, and for the very little support I could provide for Eren.
So far everyone was quiet, but they soon started to cheer and exclaim happily. Everyone, but Captain Levi. He was staring at the corpses of his squad...no, his friends, in complete silence.
He asked for help with carrying the bodies. They were loaded on a wagon, along with the rest who had lost their lives. Once that was done, it was time to head back.
- The threat is still not over. We have a long way to go. Don't let your guard down, and be on the lookout for possible titan attacks.
Once we exit the forest, we will go back to our previous formation to secure a safe journey back to the Walls. Let's go back home!
- Yes, Sir!
We make it out of the forest with very few titans in our way, and without any casualties. Everyone takes their appropriate places along the formation.
My eyes start to close when I hear the Commander's voice.
- Desi, what you did back there was very brave, but extremely foolish. And I even told you to stay away.
Ah, the Commander wants to scold me.
"How cute" I think in my half-awake state.
- I am sorry...Erwin...
I mumble quietly. On the brink of exhaustion and enveloped by the calming warmth from the Commander's body, my eyes flutter close and I fall into a deep sleep.
- Don't think a simple apology is enough. You ignored my words, and put yourself in danger. If something had happened to you...
The Commander looked down, and noticed she was sleeping peacefully. It caused a smile on his face.
- You silly girl, what am I going to do with you?
He wrapped her body with his cape, and pressed her gently against his chest, so she can be in a more comfortable position.
- Rest well, my dear. You did good today.