Chapter 49:

Flipside: Prelude of the Night - Part 3


Dolls were climbing up the stairs and the thirteen holy figures were moving around them. The militia spearmen and the two girls were pretty much surrounded right now, but they still had a few moments.

“Can you hold the dolls, Colette?” Karim said in a hurry to use the few seconds they had until the wave of dolls and the slow stone creatures would engage.


“Do it then.”

“Got it!” Colette nodded, even with some worry in her face, and then ran down the stairs. The impact noises of her fists and the pipe gun’s shots soon followed.

Sending her heaviest hitter, at the moment, away could be a bad plan, but it was better than the other options. Right now, what they needed was time and not attack power either way, and Colette was the only one who could hold the advancing dolls.

For the petite cop was the job of keeping the priests alive.

The spear-armed group around her was made of common civilians that were a little too pious. Their fighting strength wasn't very much at all, but they wouldn't stay put even then. Karim's first goal here had to be keeping them in the defensive.

In general, the fight was now split into five. First, the stairs where the brunette was having to hold the position. Then, each of the three doors blocked by statues from which kitsunes and tsukumogamis were trying to break through. and lastly, the middle of the courtyard where most was happening.

Seven of the statues were stuck at the temple doors, but the other six had all the time to approach the small formation of spearmen. Six against thirty still seemed to take the chances against the priests somehow.

“You better appear fast, dumbass...” Karim whispered to no one in particular as her situation wasn't the best, and having a certain someone around would be useful.

Still, she had to grab the attention of the fanatics charging to their doom and then do anything else. The chance for such was easy to come by, though.

Right by her side, a certain fat figure of peace was moving to squash the priests engaging it with its stone hands.

In a moment, the petite blondie set her prayers off, jumping at the closest wall and using it to propel herself, slamming her small body on the attack. It wasn't a powerful strike and there wasn't even much weight on it, but it was enough to throw off the unstable giant.

The destabilize humanoid figure wobbled and fell to the side, hitting one of its allies in the process. And both fell to the ground right after.

This second part was kind of a lucky strike, but no one needed to know that.

Still, even with the loud impact and the cloud dust, both statues were already trying to get up. It was more of a showy attack then an effective one, but that was fine. Defeating them wasn't the goal right now.

“Leave this formation and spread up, everyone! Grab their attention only until the shrine maidens can take them down.” Karim shouted as all eyes were locked on her petite body after her stunt. “All you’ll achieve by dying right away is killing everyone else, so buy as much time as you can!”

All eyes were on her and she could feel them being influenced by her words, but there was no time to be sure. Hoping that they wouldn't keep charging forward was the best she could do right now.

Now, there was already another statue closing in, an armored swordsmaiden, and the aftereffects of her move needed to be dealt with too.

Ignoring the pain in her body and holding her blade the best she could, the cop rolled away from the stone blade. The impact broke both the sword and the ground, though, sending debris around and Karim even further away.

By doing so, more of the statues started to focus on the small mage, which was both a plus and a minus. On the plus side, more on her was less risk on the weaker links. On the minus, though, she would have to force more to hold out.

In an overview, it was clear that the tides were changing. The smaller groups of priests were managing to keep the statues at bay. The kitsunes were close to breaking through. And the stairs were still safe.

All was progressing to the better, that was, until the air got heavier and an ominous energy filled the area. In fact, an ominous lack of energy to be more specific.

A feeling of drowsiness and exhaustion got over Karim as she kept on dodging, and she soon noticed that she was the less affected of all.

The kitsune's barriers and spells were faltering, even if only slightly, and the priests were in a visible bad situation.

It didn't seem like they would faint instantly or die, but their movements were sluggish and their strength was underwhelming. It wouldn't be long before they ended up dead if things stood like this.

Karim would have to up her game to save them, even if it meant risking a little too much.

In less than a second, her chant changed once more. Anything that wasn't necessary would have to go for now. Healing, resistances, extra safeties, all she needed was speed and an attack.

Attack and dodge, climb up and jump down, hold their bodies and suck-up the damage, it was only a matter of repeating these actions as much as she could. At some point, some of the priests fighting around even noticed what she was doing and started to move in accordance.

Draw attention and buy time, that was all in her mind and, soon enough, four of the six statues were surrounding the blonde girl. She couldn’t mess up now, though.

A four-armed statue was the first to attack, punching a hole in the ground where she was a moment ago and then trying to shake it off when it noticed that Karim was holding said arm.

She stood her ground still, jumping away from it only when a new attack was coming and rolling away after hitting the ground. The time for rest was small, though, and more attacks were already at her.

Jumping away and dodging them was now commonplace, even using her sword to pivot the movements was reasonable at this moment. All that mattered was the extra seconds.

A statue with a cross, the fat peace figure, the sword-using maiden and even a four-armed creature, all these statues had their focus on her. And all of them were damaged to some degree by it.

Her agility was much greater than the statues, so it wasn’t that hard, but some of the hits were passing too close for comfort. Even dodging in a way that would cause friendly fire for the goliaths was doable, although debris would somewhat damage Karim too.

That was fine as long as she went long enough. And the long enough was right there.

Every one of the once pristine holy figures was battered now, just like their enemy. And every single one of them was ready to a final strike now that she stopped.

All perfectly in time.

“…and once more I heed thee, finish off those who harm thou humble servants.”

With her blade in hand and the last line of her prayer done, Karim jumped a last time to the closest statue. The blade stabbed at its stone head as a lightning bolt struck it in a blow that the petite girl used to propel herself to the next target.

And in a showy and overkill process, the lightning storm ended in a massive smoke cloud. All statues were laid on the courtyard and in the middle of them, was a tired and sweaty blondie.

“Stupid… inquisitor...” She mumbled by herself while barely managing to keep her breathing stable after overexerting her body this much. “Looks like... I don’t need you…”

She went above and beyond, but it was fine now. With four less statues, the mages and gunners would soon deal with the situation. She had to worry about the dolls too, but she could rest a little now...

Or that was what she thought before the barely holding-up statues started to rise from the ground again.

Karim had no energy to move, though. She could still cast, in fact, her last resort was the biggest spell she could hope to cast, but she would need more time. Time she couldn’t buy by herself and that she had no way of getting right now.

The growing despair soon went away as the one person she needed right now appeared at the top of the temple.

A red inquisitor had arrived under the moonlight.