Chapter 38:

Confusion

Fighting For My Freedom In Another World


I saw something coming at us in the corner of my eye, and I threw up a shield just in time. Bookmark here

I couldn’t say what it was I saw. Perhaps some faint movement, perhaps just a shadow. Whatever it was, it was enough. Bookmark here

Something bounced off the blazing shield I had conjured up and hit the ground a few meters away. It was… A man? At first I thought we had been attacked by magic, but it really seemed to just be a single person. A lone person who had come at us without any magic, and now was lying helpless on the ground…Bookmark here

...Was what I foolishly let myself believe. Bookmark here

Me and Alena were both hit, together, her hands still on my shoulders. Hit by a blast of… Some sort of magic. I didn’t catch the exact moment we were struck. All I knew was that it hurt, and that we were thrown to the ground. I landed on top of her and quickly untangled myself, looking up to see what had hit us. Bookmark here

There were twelve armed and armoured soldiers there, all of them somehow having shown up without either of us realising. How had they gotten there? And I was sure I hadn’t looked away for more than a few seconds. How did you get a dozen people to show up somewhere at a moment’s notice, almost instantly? Was this some sort of magic I didn’t know about yet?Bookmark here

Given how things had started out between us… It seemed a fair guess to assume they weren’t friends. Bookmark here

I would need to fight. Again, after what happened the last time I tried to. Bookmark here

For a second, I hesitated. Bookmark here

For just a second, I hesitated. Bookmark here

But no more. I didn’t need any more than that. Bookmark here

Things had gone wrong last time, but this was different. Everything about the situation was different. There weren’t a lot of other people around. Alena hadn’t used any of her illusions recently and would be able to use her enhancing magic. I didn’t have to worry about burning things that were nearby for resources… There wasn’t anything except a ton of grass and various kinds of other plants, anyway. Bookmark here

Most importantly, these were all just regular soldiers. If there was one thing I had realised from the fight in the city, it was that they on average weren’t nearly as powerful as I was.Bookmark here

Was there a lot of ways that reasoning could backfire on me? Absolutely, but that wasn’t the kind of thing I had time to consider while being stared down by a dozen people that all wanted me dead and were already readying their next attack.Bookmark here

There was also one more rather important reason for why I was alright with fighting. Bookmark here

At this point I was starting to get rather annoyed at being interrupted all the time. At seemingly having an ambush waiting behind every corner. At so many people wanting to kill us. Bookmark here

What was this even? The… Fourth time?Bookmark here

Had either of us ever done anything to deserve that? True, Alena could be a bit weird, but never to the extent she deserved to be hated for it. To be hurt for it. I couldn’t say for sure if the same applied to me anymore, but at this point I had realised it was Alena that most of the people that kept attacking us were after. Bookmark here

We hadn’t done anything to deserve it… And the whole thing didn’t make any sense in the first place.Bookmark here

How did people even keep finding us? If something bad happened one time, then it was probably fair to chalk it up to coincidence. But if it happened twice… And then thrice, and now four times… It made me start suspecting there was something more afoot. There had to be some sort of foul play involved.Bookmark here

I’d need to think about that more later. Bookmark here

First, there was a fight I needed to win. Bookmark here

About a dozen soldiers. More than I ever had tried to take on at once. About three to four times as many, even. They were all armed with swords. Alena had managed to take on five people at the same time the last time she used her enhancing magic, but she also claimed it wouldn’t be effective against “anything pointy”. There was also how we didn’t know what kind of magic they all could use. Bookmark here

Worst case scenario, I would need to take them all out on my own. Bookmark here

But it was fine. Bookmark here

I could fight. Bookmark here

I had already done worse. As long as I kept things under control, didn’t use too much magic… And made sure no one got killed, it was fine if I hurt them a bit.Bookmark here

Electricity sparked up between the hands of over half of the soldiers. Bookmark here

Seeing the crackling did make me wonder something. Something trivial that piqued my curiosity, something that didn’t quite add up about everything I had seen and heard. Bookmark here

“Come to think of it, why do all the people we fight just seem to use the same few types of magic if there are supposed to exist so many?”, I asked Alena, who had gotten up and was now standing beside me.Bookmark here

I created a shield that blocked all the magic that came flying at us. It felt like being electrocuted would have proved a slight impediment for being able to carry out sufficiently smooth conversation, and I was far from the smoothest talker even on my best days. Bookmark here

“Most people aren’t born with an affinity for magic that’s useful in combat. It’s easier to teach people if everything is standardized, and you can’t do that if you’re teaching hundreds of different kinds of magic at the same time. So most people are just taught one of a few standardized types. By the way, just being able to create huge shields like that is pretty convenient.”Bookmark here

Alena’s words reminded me.Bookmark here

I couldn’t go overboard this time. Couldn’t use too much magic. Had to be careful, only use a small amount at a time. Bookmark here

Avoid coming close to risking anything remotely what happened last time. I wouldn’t let that happen again. Bookmark here

The soldiers launched another salvo. I couldn’t block them all at once without using too much magic. Bookmark here

I needed… Needed to be smarter. More efficient. Bookmark here

I let the shield I already had conjured up disperse, and two others take its place. Smaller ones, but good enough for what I wanted to do. One of them was in front of me, and the other protected Alena. Bookmark here

There was no real need to create a larger shield just because I could. As long as all the attacks were coming from the same direction, covering the area exactly in front of us was good enough. It didn’t matter if some magic slipped through inbetween the shields. It wouldn’t hit either of us anyway. Bookmark here

I could protect us, for as long as I needed to. There was no risk of anything going wrong. Bookmark here

Some of the soldiers started circling around, wanting to attack from directions I couldn’t cover. Bookmark here

I was forced to realise there were a lot of things that could go wrong. Bookmark here

I couldn’t risk making more shields. I couldn’t risk creating larger shields. Couldn’t attack at the same time as I blocked incoming magic. Bookmark here

Was there any way to win this fight while abiding by those restrictions? A way to win without any risk of my magic going berserk?Bookmark here

I carefully watched the soldiers that were about to reach the edge of where my shields could reach. Once they did I’d need to do something. Perhaps if I attacked them and then threw up new barriers as soon as I could after? Bookmark here

Right. Just, watch carefully, and…Bookmark here

The ground between me and Alena exploded. Bookmark here

I was too preoccupied with the opponents trying to circle around my shields, and ended up ignoring the rest of them. As a result both of us got hit. Bookmark here

I was thrown to the ground. Alena was blown the other way. It was only then that I realised keeping a static shield in front of Alena was also limiting her movement. My fire was as much of a danger to her as to everyone else. Bookmark here

And I had already hurt her before without even realising it. How could I know I wouldn’t do that this time too?Bookmark here

I needed to fight off all twelve of our opponents, I needed to keep Alena safe, I needed to make sure I didn’t hurt her, I needed to protect myself, I needed to... I needed to...Bookmark here

My head was spinning, my mind stuck going around in circles. Keeping track of everything was too hard.Bookmark here

I didn’t have that level of multitasking ability. I couldn’t both figure out what to do with my own magic and predict what my opponents were going to do. There were too many of them. Bookmark here

This wasn’t working. Bookmark here

Right, I needed to get up. It hurt. But there wasn’t anything else I could do. Get up and fight and… Was Alena okay? No, I didn’t have time to check. I’d be attacked again before I could. Bookmark here

I wasn’t strong enough. I needed to use more magic…. No, that wasn’t right. I couldn’t do that either. It would be too big a risk. Bookmark here

I had miscalculated. I was more powerful, but that didn’t matter if I didn’t use my full power. Bookmark here

What else was there? Bookmark here

Was there anything I could do that wouldn’t just make things more confusing?Bookmark here

I… I needed to reduce their numbers. Bookmark here

As long as they had the numerical advantage, we couldn’t win. Bookmark here

In other words, I just had to take that away. Bookmark here

Bookmarked
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