Chapter 26:

A Cage and Doubts

Fighting For My Freedom In Another World

Two minutes… Including the time I already had spent fighting, of course, meaning closer to one and a half minute left. Bookmark here

That was how long I would be able to use my magic for. In that time, I needed to finish this. Win, lose, surrender, escape, or anything else. Whatever the outcome ended up being, I would know soon. Bookmark here

There were two main things I needed to accomplish before then. Bookmark here

Win the fight or at least get enough of an advantage to make it out of the city alive, and…Bookmark here

...Somehow get Alena down from where she was, leaning out from a window on the third floor of a nearby building. A nearby building my magical fire currently covered most of the first two floors of. Bookmark here

Using my fire magic on the same building Alena was in sounded kind of dangerous if you put it that way, but there wasn’t any immediate danger to the princess where she currently was. My fire wouldn’t spread unless I willed it to. Bookmark here

I would have been worried about the smoke if it was an ordinary fire, but my magic didn’t seem to create any. My magical flames always vanished without a trace the moment I stopped using magic.Bookmark here

So she wasn’t in any real danger… But I still had no idea how she was supposed to get down. Bookmark here

She wasn’t counting on me actually winning the fight so she could just safely walk down the stairs once she wasn’t in any immediate danger, right? That would also require me to force my fire away from the stairs, or she’d have a hell of a time trying to make it back down…Bookmark here

...Well, gotta do what you gotta do. If she thought I was going to win, all I had to do was live up to her expectations. Bookmark here

I took a stance and readied myself. Some small amount of fire started emanating from my palms as I readied myself for further magicing. Bookmark here

The woman I was facing just watched me, waiting for me to make my next move now that I actually could use enough magic to be an actual threat again, forcing her to be more careful.Bookmark here

Alena jumped out from the window, straight towards the hard ground. Came falling down from the top floor. Probably a height of at least eight meters. So much for waiting for me to win the fight. Bookmark here

I jumped forward to try to catch the princess before she hit the ground. Bookmark here

I managed to catch her… Rather barely, but my hands were still surrounded by fire. There was no way it hadn't hurt. Bookmark here

Alena looked up at me.Bookmark here

“You know, I really like the way you look from this angle, Maria.”Bookmark here

“Is this really the time for that?”
“There’s always time for flirting, especially for a princess. But ouch… That fire thing you’re doing kind of hurts a bit. I like it.”Bookmark here

“That’s… Not really the point of it.”
“The point of it isn’t to hurt? Well, good luck winning this fight then.”Bookmark here

Alena shook it off as nothing had happened. The princess barely even seemed to notice the pain as she got back on her feet in front of me. Bookmark here

“So, how about it? Going to hurt me more first, or are you going to try to do this thing for real?”Bookmark here

“I don’t really think you should need to ask that…”Bookmark here

“I mean, you never know. Best to be sure what everyone involved wants first before getting started with stuff. Best practices and all that stuff? Anyway, I’d just be in the way if I tried to get between you and your date over there”, the princess pointed towards the woman I had been fighting, who was just quietly staring at us, “so I will now just quietly and unnoticeably sneak behind you, and let you do all the fighting!”Bookmark here

Alena did exactly what she said she would and tried to get behind me, her footsteps echoing and the princess herself clearly visible.Bookmark here

The woman in the black leather snapped out of her stupor, probably having gotten over her confusion about what the heck me and the princess were talking about in the middle of a battlefield. Bookmark here

She launched an attack towards the princess, and I conjured up a shield to protect both of us. I needed to block another two surges of electricity, but Alena safely managed to retreat behind me in the shelter of my magical barrier. Bookmark here

Next I would have expected her to distance herself from the fight, try to stay safe. Bookmark here

She didn’t. Bookmark here

Alena stuck near me, in fact coming close enough that we were practically touching. Bookmark here

She leaned in close and whispered in my ear. Bookmark here

“You know, most people tend to move around while they’re fighting. Makes it harder for the opponent to hit them.”Bookmark here

“...Alena, what are you doing?”Bookmark here

The woman I was fighting launched some electricity at us and I created a shield to deflect it, then halfheartedly launched some fire at her. This wasn’t working. I needed a new strategy...Bookmark here

“Giving you advice.”Bookmark here

“And you need to be this close for that?”
“No, that’s just because I want to. And so your opponent can’t overhear us discussing a new strategy.”Bookmark here

“So, what do you suggest I do?”Bookmark here

“Move so you become a harder target.”Bookmark here

The woman easily avoided another attack I launched towards her, gracefully sidestepping it. She didn’t even use magic to block, as if trying to demonstrate Alena’s point. Bookmark here

“Trying to focus on everything that’s happening and use magic at the same time is hard enough already… Trying to dodge stuff without using magic would just make things even harder. And Alena, you’re not making things easier by clinging to me.”Bookmark here

The princess had somehow managed to press herself even closer while we spoke. Bookmark here

“Me clinging to you is actually making things easier for you. It means you don’t have to protect two targets against a superior opponent you’re already struggling against.”Bookmark here

“And you distracting me instead of letting me think about what I should be doing is somehow helping me?”

Bookmark here

I kept throwing up shields and launching some fire towards my opponent even while me and Alena spoke, but it wasn’t having much of an impact. It became increasingly clear I needed to do something different if I wanted to win. Bookmark here

How much time did I have left? How much magic had I already used? Bookmark here

How long until I ran out? Bookmark here

“Alena, please just let me think…”
“Why think when I can just tell you what to do?”
“Well, why don’t you just block and attack with the same spell? Pretty sure I saw you do something like that before already, just on a smaller scale. Go really hard and big and take her out in one blow, and I doubt she’ll be able to do much to stop you.”Bookmark here

“That… I guess I could try that.”Bookmark here

“Great! Now do that, win this fight, and then give me a big hug as a thank you.”Bookmark here

Doing what she said… It would use up way more magic. It would almost certainly leave me defenceless if it didn’t work. Bookmark here

But on the other hand, it would be unexpected. Different. Something that actually had a chance of accomplishing something.Bookmark here

And I was making no headway the things had been going, anyway. Bookmark here

I blocked one more bolt of lightning, then I let the shield I had used for it disintegrate to instead be replaced by a gigantic cage of fire. It surrounded me and Alena, keeping us safe from attacks from every direction. Bookmark here

I made the cage start expanding outward, towards the woman. Advancing one slow bit at a time, unstoppable and merciless. She tried to use magic to stop it, but in vain.Bookmark here

It merely absorbed her magic without faltering, and continued its march.Bookmark here

Finally she turned around to run, but the flaming cage only increased its pace to match, and eventually outpace her. Bookmark here

If I just went through with this, I would win the fight and me and the princess would be safe. Bookmark here

But.Bookmark here

There was still one doubt I couldn’t get out of my mind. Bookmark here

She wasn’t wearing the kind of anti-magic armour the ordinary soldiers had. The wave of fire rolling her way was far too intense for an ordinary human to survive without protection. Bookmark here

If I went through with this, it would undoubtedly kill her. Bookmark here

She had already tried to kill us, but did that mean she deserved to die? Bookmark here

My flames started faltering, slowing down and growing weaker. Bookmark here

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