Chapter 21:

Flames and Fighting

Fighting For My Freedom In Another World

You’d think someone in the middle of a life-and-death battle wouldn’t have the time to pay attention to a pair of innocent teen girls running through their midst, hoping they wouldn’t get killed.

And you know what?

You’d also be totally wrong, or so my one attempt at testing that hypothesis showed.

The combatants did not ignore us the way I had hoped they would. The first group of fighters we passed — two groups of two struggling to get the upper hand against each other, fighting with some sort of magical blasts — actually went as far as to stop their own fight to try to kill us instead.

They fired off one last salvo at each other before they saw us approaching, then they all froze up. The armoured figures nodded at each other and all of them turned towards me and the princess, firing off the same magical blasts of light they had been aiming at each other only a moment ago towards us instead.

All of them missed.

And that’s not meant as an insult towards their aim.

I didn’t want the princess to get hurt. I didn’t want to die either. Not exactly a complicated equation.

But it was all I needed to give life to a wall of fire that appeared in front of us. It was surprisingly solid for something that shouldn’t have amounted to much more than a huge bundle of heat, and stopped the attacks that were aimed towards us dead in their tracks.

Almost kind of made me feel like we had a genuine shot at making it through towards the distant gate without any fighting.


I stumbled forward and nearly fell over, only barely managing to catch myself. It felt like something huge was weighing me down from above, daring me to move even the smallest distance without being crushed.

An acidic and burning sensation filled my throat, and it felt like my lungs were on fire. My fingers twitched, a cramping sensation appearing out of nowhere. I was on the verge of starting to shake, and my whole body felt cold.

It felt like I was on fire on the inside and about to freeze to death on the outside.

This was… This was definitely worse than usual.

But going by Alena’s speculation… Perhaps there was something I could do about it.

I did my best to shut my brain up as it protested at what I was about to do. This wasn’t the time for hesitation.

The wall of fire that protected us dissolved into several much smaller balls of fire, that hovered in midair for a second before all of them were launched at high speed straight into the four soldiers.

Their armour protected them from the brunt of the attack, but it wasn’t enough to get rid of all of the damage. They didn’t catch fire or anything nearly that dramatic, but my balls had been launched at a high enough velocity that they knocked the soldiers airborne, and made them hit the ground a few meters away.

Using more magic didn’t do anything to improve my condition. I felt even more sick than I already did, and had to sink to my knees not to fall over where I was standing.

There was a small relief when the soldiers hit the ground, but not enough to make up for the cost to myself.

I wouldn’t be able to keep fighting this way for long. Taking out these four could very well be my limit… if I could even do that.

Three of the soldiers were back on their feet and readying another attack before I had time to think about what to do against it.

One of them didn’t get up. I prayed they were still alive. With that armour it seemed unlikely the kind of blow I had dealt would be enough to kill anyone. Even aside from that, I would most likely have recovered more if anyone had died, so it stood to reason they wouldn’t be dead.

Setting that aside. Could I protect us again?

I didn’t have enough stamina to make another big wall.

I needed something smaller.

Another volley of magical beams came at us before I had time to think more.

Instead of one big wall… I summoned up several smaller barriers. Only just larger than the attacks targeted towards us, in order to not waste any energy.

That proved a wise decision. Just conjuring up those made me feel like I had been stabbed. I bent over and felt like I would throw up. I… Not yet.

Needed to keep going.

I needed to… Needed to stop being so defensive. Actually attack.

But with those armours in the way, it didn’t matter if I hit. I wouldn’t recover enough to actually do anything.

I could already feel my consciousness starting to fade.

This wasn’t working.

“What are you looking at, idiots?”

It was my voice. Eerily close to it, at least.

But I hadn’t spoken. I knew I hadn’t. Who was it then?

The three remaining soldiers all turned around towards the voice.

What they would have seen there was… Me?

I saw a second myself standing on the other side of the opponents I had been facing, taunting them.

I looked aside to see Alena staring at the second me, intense focus apparent from the way she furrowed her brow and gazed straight ahead.

The princess had created an illusionary copy of me.

And the illusion was summoning up huge pillars of flame that were slowly approaching the soldiers. It looked far more majestic than anything I could ever remember having accomplished with magic myself. Come to think of it… Alena had said she could only create illusions of things she was familiar with, or emotionally felt close enough to herself.

The former was out of the question after only having known each other for three days. But the latter…

...I blushed.

At the same time I did my best to get back up on my feet again.

The soldiers were launching salvo after salvo of magic towards the illusion. It had no effect, passing through it without effort.

One advantage of illusions: no matter how much people tried to pelt it with blast after blast of magic, none of them would ever hit their target.

The pillars of fire were making it harder to see that the attacks were passing through instead of just being blocked, or that they didn’t just miss their target. It was really a quite clever distraction.

This was my chance. If I was going to do something, now was the time.

I gathered whatever strength I had left. Summoned up a small, fast, wave of fire while the three soldiers were still distracted. Fired it off, and tried to keep my eyes open long enough to see it hit.

It did.

All three of them flew a large distance, before hitting the ground. It helped me recover slightly, but not enough.

I collapsed against Alena.

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