Chapter 17:

The Defense of Fort Draun (part 3)

Painted Tale

Richard Arklight

I stand across from a tough-looking chink. He must be a leader of the pack.


I strike at him with my blade. He dodges it, but I don't stop. I keep slashing at him again and again. The chink starts struggling with the evasion. The flurry of blows continues, and the monster slowly gets covered in more and more light wounds.

I prepare for another blow and see him jumping away. But the slash never came.

"Wind ball!"

As he is suspended in midair, the spell hits him, and he falls to the ground. I jump at him and stab my sword into his face.

"Phew... That's another one down..."

That was the sixth pack leader I've taken out.

They are troubling opponents since they are agile enough to dodge my blows and clever enough to attempt some tricks. I'm not good at magic like William is, so I kept going with a simple strategy. I continued cutting until they run out of strength.

"Damn... This is pretty hard for this old man, you know?"

We seem to be doing fine. The soldiers stationed here are mostly the trained ones. With the power of Her Highness's blessing, they can fare against chinks pretty well. At this rate, we will hold...

Bernard Godwin.

The battle seems to be proceeding decently well. Almost. I did expect one of the flying monsters to make it to Elisabeth, but I certainly did not expect it to be that strong. Just how strong is The Horde Leader if his subordinates are that dangerous?

Luckily, William seems to have made it in time. As was planned, Richard Arklight took his place.

I was afraid that Sir Richard is a bit too old for this, but he seems to not have lost his edge.

The Horde will lose if this keeps up. Of course, it isn't know how much longer will Lady Elisabeth's magic last. But the monsters don't know that.

The Horde Leader isn't intelligent enough to make complicated battle strategies. However, he can understand that it's not going in their favor.

That's why it is bound to make a move.

And where will the strongest monster go to change the tide of the battlefield? The answer is — it will go to the gates.

It is unlikely that we will be able to stop it, so we will let him in...

From here on, it's on you — Sir Kyle, Lady Vanessa.

Please, win this fight.

Kyle Rembrandt

The Horde Leader is coming.

It was merely a feeling. From behind the gate, I can't see it, nor do I have any means of knowing its location. However, I'm pretty sure my gut is right.

The gate starts shaking.


In a matter of seconds, it breaks like it's made from paper.

As the gate falls, a cloud of dust rises. Behind it — is a pair of red eyes.

William Arklight

The griffon is flying downwards, and I'm following right behind him. Well, not like I have any choice...

As we get closer and closer to the ground, I dispel the Shadow Arm. Since the monster is diving with incredible speed, he won't be able to make turns.

Dark red.

Paint splashes on the canvas—

—taking the shape of a continuous stream of fire!


I draw my left hand behind my back and activate the spell. I propel myself towards the griffon, and the distance between us starts shrinking.

Just a bit... Just a bit more... Now!

I stab the sword into the monster bird, trying to pierce him through. The blade cuts into its flesh and—

It doesn't pierce it. The only result of my attack is a pretty shallow wound.

I panic as I try to grip his feathers with my hand.

We're approaching the ground, and there are mere moments left until the collision. My hand starts slipping, lacking the strength to hold on to the monster's body.

We're about to collide!—

Dark purple.

Shadow Coating!

—In the last moment, I use a spell to reinforce my grip.

The griffon flies dangerously close to the ground before making a sharp turn, directing his flight parallel to the earth.

Even with the spell, my grip starts slipping. I won't hold out any longer!

If he flies away, then I won't be able to stop him from getting to Elisabeth.

I don't have enough strength to keep riding him, so there's only one choice — to steal his wings.

Dark purple.

Shadow Spikes!

I cast the spell right into his back. As I no longer have the Shadow Coating, my hand can't hold on, and I fall of the griffon.


The world spins as I hit the ground, rolling from the inertia. Finally, I stop rotating and force myself to stand up.

It feels like my whole body is burning. Every part of it hurts like hell.

Luckily, the griffon seems to be in bad shape as well. Even though it was less damaged by the landing than me, it has suffered significant damage from my spell. Its wings are torn apart, and all of its body is bleeding. There's so much blood that the griffon is half painted red.

And yet, it's still ready to keep going.

The feathers and the body of the monster bird turned out to be so durable that my sword only left a shallow wound. Moreover, it withstood Shadow Spikes and is still ready to fight...

How do I even kill this thing?

We stare at each other for a few seconds, trying to predict each other's actions.

I won't be able to kill it with mid-level spells. But how do I buy myself time to cast an advanced-level one?

I'll try to bind him using magic.

Dark purple.

Shadow Grip!

The moment I open my eyes to cast the spell, I see the griffon dashing straight at me. I'm unable to release the magic in time and block its attack with my sword.

"Khh!" I groan as my body is sent flying. I release the spell while I'm still in the air, but the monster dodges it.

I land on my feet and see that the griffon is already dashing towards me.

Think, William, think!

My mind goes into overdrive, struggling to find a way to win this battle while my brain is busy getting tossed all over the place like a plaything.


I'm once again sent flying. I stand up, preparing to withstand another attack. The griffon is rapidly closing the distance and—

—my body is sent up in the air.

The blow lifted me several meters high. I look around as I start preparing a spell. Time seems to slow down.

I see the griffon leaping into the air to reach me. I won't be able to prepare the advanced-level spell in time. Or will I?

Dark purple.

The griffon is closing in as I focus on its paw.

...A pure white canvas...

The claws are closing in as I attempt to deflect them with my sword.

...A mass of paint splashing all over it...

My blade clashes with one of the forelegs while the other pierces my left shoulder.

...Dark purple paint forms into a blade...

I use my left hand to grab the leg that skewered my arm.

...The sharp shadows extend as they cut down everything in their path...

I can almost feel my joints creak as I struggle to prevent his leg from tearing away my arm.

Shadow Blade!

A purple blade envelops my arm, cutting through the griffon's leg. The spell keeps extending as it pierces the monster's body.

"Haaaa!" I scream as I try to swing my wounded arm.

The blade starts moving and—

—It slashes through the griffon, cutting it in half!


I fall to the ground, covered in blood. My consciousness starts fading, but I force myself to stay awake.

"Elisabeth... I need to go to Elisabeth." I squeeze those words out of my mouth, my voice hoarse.

I look around and see the full extent of the blade damage. Not only did it cut the monster, but also the wall of the keep that was a dozen meters ahead. Even the furnishings inside the building are cut.

I drive my battered body to start moving to the top floor of the keep...

Bernard Godwin.

This is bad. Kyle and Vanessa, along with a few dozen of other knights, have lost. I'm not sure how long the blessing will last as well...

We have to attempt one final gamble. Luckily, Kyle and Vanessa can apparently still move. I didn't want to do it since the troops on the walls will crumble without him, but I'll have to call the strongest knight here. Also, judging by the fact that the magic is still active, William has won his fight. He will also participate in the final attack.

This might be our last chance to save The Kingdom.

William Arklight

I finally make it to the top floor. I see Elisabeth lying on the ground.

I walk up to her and lightly shake her as if trying to wake her up.

"Hey, Elisabeth, do you hear me?"

She is pale, and it almost looks like life is leaving her body. I take her hand with mine, gripping it tightly. There is no warmth.

"Elisabeth! Elisabeth, please answer me! Elisabeth, please..."


"Yes! Yes, I'm here, Elisabeth. What is happening... Why are you... in this state?"

"I...can't see you, William...but I can...hear you. It's... the blessing. It's taking my strength... Don't worry... I will... be fine."

"Is that what you call fine?! Come on, Elisabeth. You have to stop the spell."

"I won't...stop it. It is... my... du... ty."


Suddenly, a voice comes out of the amulet on her neck.

"William! Can you hear me? Go to the gate! Now! Everyone is fighting against The Horde Leader. The blessing won't last much longer. If we waste this opportunity, we will certainly lose!"

I look in at the magic item in hesitance. Then, Elisabeth speaks up.

"...G...o... you."

I can't stay. I want to, but the look on Elisabeth's face, filled with determination to see this through to the end, won't allow that.

"I get it... I will bring us victory. Just you wait, Elisabeth."

And so, I start running towards the gate.

Kyle Rembrandt

We're being tossed around like playthings. Our weapons and spells can't even get through its skin. Vanessa's magic might have worked, but it keeps dodging them.

The Horde Leader is a chimera. A two-headed monster with lion and goat features mixed in, bearing a snake as its tail.

The only reason why we're not dead yet is his existence.

The Renoa's strongest knight, as well as its most capable strengthening magic user — Daniel Beamon.

He is the one fighting the chimera while we just support him. He can only use strengthening magic, so he only has his physical strength amplified by his spells. And that's more than enough. Usually, that is.

Right now, even he is struggling to defeat the chimera. Or, more like, he's struggling to even survive.

The monster keeps moving at insane speed while attacking with three different parts that work separately yet have perfect coordination.

I'm taking on the snake.

It tries to bite into me as I keep dodging it and deflecting its fangs.

We're making no progress. The chimera doesn't have a single proper wound while we keep suffering one injury after another.

Suddenly, a voice resounds from the magical item.

"Listen up! William is coming in with advanced-level magic. When I tell you, try to attack the chimera at the same time."

Lord Bernard goes silent for a few dozen seconds before it starts the countdown.

"Get ready! Three! Two! One! Go—!"

And so our final attack began.

William Arklight.

I see Kyle rush towards the snake as Daniel takes on the lion. The Goat is pressured by Vanessa's magic.

This gives me a chance to attack.

Dark purple.

Shadow blade!

I jump at the chimera from the fort's wall.

My hand is raised high into the air as I swing it down.

The monster notices my entrance and tries to back away— but is held down by Sir Daniel.

I descend onto the chimera with the spell in my wounded hand.

Time seems to slow down as the Shadow Blade approaches the chimera. It opens its mouth as the fire begins to emerge. I ignore that and keep my descent. The chimera directs its mouth to the side and jumps—


I feel the sensation of something being cut.


Blood starts gushing, painting everything red.

I turn around and look at the chimera.

There's a large wound across its entire body.

It's about one finger deep.

In other words, we have failed.

I see the monster's body rapidly approaching me.


I feel a powerful impact, and my consciousness is absorbed by the darkness...

Richard Arklight

Our army is being crushed. The blessing faded away, and in mere minutes the battlefield made a complete turnabout.

"Retreat! Everyone retreat!"

The battlefield descends into chaos as captains keep shouting orders that make the soldiers panic even more. This is a disaster.

We have lost.

Bernard Godwin

Our last bet didn't work out. The wound was too shallow to kill the Horde Leader. The blessing also wore off, and our army is being run over.

I command full retreat, trying to save as many lives as possible.

Most of the soldiers will die. This retreat will certainly not go well.

The Defense of Fort Draun has ended in a failure.

Renoa's last hope is gone...


Painted Tale