Chapter 16:

The Defense of Fort Draun (part 2)

Painted Tale

William Arklight


An explosion resounds as my Fireball collides with a group of goblins.

This is not good.

So far, we haven't lost any men as The Horde hasn't reached us yet. We fight off the climbing monsters, not letting them get up here. However, this will not last long.

There is more and more pressure on the soldiers, and soon, the monsters will engage us in a melee.

In fact, it's happening right now.

The first goblin makes his way to the top.

The militia soldiers surrounding him are hesitant to approach him. As they keep backing away, more goblins start climbing up.

Finally, a trained soldier steps in. He slashes at the goblin, wounding him and making him bleed.

That serves as a wake-up call for the militias. They start running towards the goblins, their weapons held high.

Soon, the monsters are dealt with.

Similar situations occur all over the battlefield. I hear cries of both monsters and humans coming from everywhere.

The melee has begun.

A group of goblins emerges near my squad. One of them is burlier than the rest and seems to be the leader.

"I will take the one in front!" I scream to my squad members.

The Goblin Leader, almost as if understanding my intent, stares at me and readies his spear.

We slowly walk closer until about 4 meters are separating us.

We look at each other, waiting for an opportunity to strike.

"Gyaah!" The Goblin Leader screams as he dashes towards me.


I deflect his stab with my sword while preparing magic with my left hand.

Dark blue.

The spell swishes through the air approaching his body—

— He dodges it by a hairbreadth by jumping to the right.

I rush towards him and go for an overhead slash and start casting magic.


He blocks it with his spear, and sparks fly.

Dark purple.

Shadow Blow!

My left hand, coated with the spell, hits The Goblin Leader, and his body is sent into the air.

"Guhh! Gyaaaah!"

I can hear his cry as he flies past the wall's embrasures and starts falling down into the ground.


His scream stops as I hear the sound of his body crashing into the earth.

Not wasting any time, I start looking around, trying to gauge the situation on the battlefield.

The soldiers fight against the goblins.

The archers, struggling to take down raptor-like kiptors.

The knights, engaging a griffon in a fight.

Screams. Cries. Blood. Death.

I'm surrounded by a nightmarish sight, reminding me of an old painting of mine.

I shake away those thoughts and focus on the battle. Both The Horde and our army are suffering significant casualties. If I had to pick, I would say that more monsters die than humans. However, this is not enough. At this rate, we will crumble.

We still have enough numbers, but I can feel the morale of our forces rapidly dropping, especially among the militia. If this keeps up, we will lose before we even kill half of The Horde...

While my mind is busy analyzing the battlefield, my body is busy killing goblins. One after another, they come at me. With every slash and spell, a goblin dies.

I keep slaying monsters, knowing that with every second, we get closer and closer to our defeat.

Bernard Godwin

The melee has begun. I try to imagine the situation on the battlefield as I listen to the reports of the scouts.

"Your Excellency! This is bad! The morale of our troops is dropping. At this rate, the defeat is inevitable."

I keep receiving similar reports from all of the scouts. It seems we already have to use it...

I take an amulet that lies a distance away from the others. I activate it and start speaking.

"Your Highness, it's time. If we wait any longer, it will be too late."

"...I understand. Lord Bernard, I'm starting the activation of the magic."

"...Good luck, Your Highness."

I wanted to say something else but didn't dare to. The fate of The Kingdom is on the line, so I can't tell her not to push herself or anything in that vein. She has to give it her all and even more, otherwise — Renoa has no future...

Elisabeth Renoa

As I finish my conversation with Lord Bernard, I begin to cast the spell.

A lonely girl, her hands clasped together in prayer.

A mass of light leaves her body and soars into the air.

It splits into many parts, every one of them flying in its own direction.

Shards of light spread around, searching for people.

When they find someone, they fly into them, making them glow brightly.

Everyone shines, enhanced by the light...

And only the girl is left fading away.

I feel the spell's activation. A heavy burden is imparted on my body.

I start shaking, trying to withstand the pain. I don't know how long I'm going to last. I can only hope that this battle won't drag out.

William Arklight.

Suddenly, the keep of the fortress starts shining, and a mass of light rises from it. It soars into the skies and starts splitting. Those parts turn into beams of light and fly in different directions.


The spell hits me, and I feel a surge of strength.

As I look around, I realize that the same thing happened to every soldier on the battlefield.

A group of goblins rushes at me, and I slash at the one in front.


With a clean strike, the goblin is cut in two.


I can't believe it. My sword feels light as a feather. My movements also became faster and sharper. I cut that goblin as if it was made from butter.

I look around and realize.

The tides of the battle have changed.

The militias that struggled to deal with goblins— now overpower them. The soldiers can now consistently dodge kiptors' attacks and retaliate.

The knights are now unstoppable as every single one of them deals with several monsters on their own.

Is this the power of Elisabeth's magic? This is ridiculous.

I can hear the cries of soldiers as their morale starts rising.

"W-we can win this!"

"Let's send those monsters to hell!"

"Protect our homeland!"

"All hail The Blessing of The Holy Spirit!"

The monsters are now being massacred. Human warcries fill the air as The Horde as we start pushing the enemies back.

At this rate, we might win this!

As that thought runs through my mind, I hear something to the right of me. I hear something coming from the mountains.

An army of monsters is closing in from the steep slopes of Ardwin.

"So they are here..." I mutter, looking at the cloud of dust raised by their descent.

Most of the monsters coming from the mountain are chinks, monkey-like fiends known for their agility and sharp wit.

I start barking orders to my squad.

"Listen up! They are coming from the mountains! Focus on them. Leave the rest of the monsters to the other squads!"

So far, I have managed to get through this battle without significant struggles. I have a feeling that soon it will change...

Elisabeth Renoa.

I can feel the pressure of the spell, straining my body. I feel pain. So much pain that I can barely keep my consciousness.

And yet, I keep on praying.

I feel the sensation of something flowing out of my nose. Something warm. Uncomfortably so.

I endure the pain as the sounds of the battlefield reach my ears.

William, please be safe.

William Arklight


I cut down a chink and send a spell into another one.

The second one dodges the spell only to be struck down by my sword.

"That's already seventeenth..."

I mutter and look around the battlefield.


A cry of a soldier enters my ears. I look in the direction where the voice came from and see a massive chink grabbing one of the soldiers.

Dark purple.

Shadow Spikes!

I send a spell towards the big chink.

He sees it and jumps away, dropping the soldier in the process.

"I'll take him on! Focus on the others!"

As I say that, The Chink Leader — or so I assume — dashes in my direction, seemingly having identified me as the biggest threat.

"Not so fast!"

The Shadow Spikes are still not over as they bend to pursue the chink.

He stops and starts dodging them by jumping from side to side.

I rush towards him, ready to slash him to pieces.

Instead of running away, he finds a gap between the spikes and decides to counterattack!

We dash towards each other and—

— in the last second, I take a step back.


His attack misses, and I slash at him. He dodges it by a hairbreadth, but in that instant — A barrage of Shadow Spikes strikes his defenseless back.

I go for another swing to finish him off—

Suddenly, I hear the sounds of wings flapping.

Reflexively, I jump away.


A second later, something big crashes into where I just stood.

The body of a lion, massive wings, and head of an eagle...

In other words, it's a griffon.

It's hard to tell since I've only seen them from a distance, but this one seems tougher than the other griffons. A pack leader? —or maybe I should call him a flock leader?

The Flock Leader stares at me for a second before turning his head to the right. His gaze is focused on the keep of the fortress—No, that's not it.

He's looking at the source of strengthening magic.

The moment I realize that, I leap at him while slashing with my sword.

"Hoo hoo!"

The Chink Leader cuts in between, preventing me from attacking. Meanwhile, the griffon flies off towards the keep.

"Damn it!" I curse.

I can't leave this place. I was tasked with protecting the northern part of the wall from The Horde. If I chase after the griffon, the army might crumble.

I keep taking glances towards the keep, unable to concentrate on the opponent in front of me.

As I keep fighting against the chimp, worries about Elisabeth keep filling my mind.

Are her guards strong enough to beat the Leader of Griffons? Is her spell going to get interrupted? Will she get hu—


The chink's attack reaches me, slightly scratching my face.

Damn it! I'm too distracted. I need to concentra—

"William!" I hear my name being called.

I jump back, getting some distance away from the enemy.

I turn around to see my dad fighting off several chinks.

"Dad!? What are you doing here?"

"My squad is stationed close to yours. Probably a courtesy from Lord Bernard... Listen! Go after that griffon! You're scared about Her Highness's safety, right?"

"B-but, I have t—"

"I'll deal with it. Trust your father. You can't focus on what's happening here anyway. Don't worry. After all, you're speaking with Richard Arklight, a veteran of two wars and a survivor of countless battles! Just go!"

I hesitate a little before nodding.

"Thanks, Dad! I'm counting on you!"

I say as I run towards the keep.

Wait for me, Elisabeth.

Elisabeth Renoa.

Pain. Pain envelopes me. I can barely recognize the voices of the guards surrounding me.

"Y—r Hi—s! A—u oka—!"

"...Yes. I'm fine," I answer. Or, at the very least, that's what I tried to say. I have no idea how do I sound to others.


I hear a loud noise.


I can feel my body being pushed away, accompanied by the guards' inaudible screams.

I can't see and can barely hear anything. Still, I know one thing.

I'm being attacked. Probably by a flying monster of some sort that made its way to the keep.

I focus, trying my best to restore even a bit more of my hearing.

"Ag—!" "Y— ter!" *Sp—h*

I hear the screams of the soldiers and the sound of blood being spilled.

This might be the end for me.

I am sorry, William. I can only hope that you will survive this...

William Arklight

I run through the fortress's courtyard with all my might. I get closer and closer to the keep.

I can hear the sounds of battle on the highest floor.

I don't have enough time to waste, so I decide to help myself with magic.

Dark purple.

Paints splash onto the canvas—

— forming the shape of a hand.

Shadow Arm!

The mid-level spell leaves my left arm, reaching the balcony on the highest floor. I jump as high as I can and start shortening the Shadow Hand. I feel myself being pulled forward as I fly through the air.

"Khh..." I clench my teeth, struggling to withstand the speed at which my body is pushed forward.

As I approach the balcony, I dispel the Shadow Hand, but the impulse of the flight takes me higher than the keep's roof.

I prepare myself for the impact—


I land with a loud sound. At least the floor didn't break.

I raise my head—

and see a bloodbath.

Only two guards are left standing. Everyone else is either wounded or dead. The only ones left are also bloodied as they use their bodies as shields to protect Elisabeth.


One of them is sent flying, and the other one is about to get pecked to death.

I start running towards them, preparing a spell, when the griffon grabs one of the guards and throws him at me.


My words are cut short as I'm forced to catch the launched soldier. Meanwhile, the griffon's target is someone else.

"Elisabeth!" I cry as I run towards the griffon.

As the monster approaches her, she lies, not moving a single inch, as if she's unconscious.

Dark purple.

Shadow Arm!

I activate the spell and realize that I won't make it. Even if I start pulling Elisabeth, he will still tear her to pieces. That's why I aim at the griffon instead.

The spell reaches him, but he keeps flying forward, intent on fulfilling his goal. I pull with all my might. Not him to me, but my body to his.

The force of the pull launches me forward as I ready my sword. He looks behind only to see me flying towards him with my blade in front.

He can't dodge!

As that thought reaches my mind, he soars into flight. But he doesn't fly forward, rather he lunges upward— to the roof.



I can feel the fresh air as we break through the ceiling of the keep. We're outside.

The griffon keeps soaring into the skies. I desperately struggle to keep my grip on it.

Suddenly— he starts nosedives downwards.

It takes me a second to realize what he's doing.

He plans to crash me into the ground!