Chapter 50:

Interlude: The Fighter from Below


“Got it!” Colette exclaimed before turning to the stairs and picking up speed.

The situation in her back was quite bad and defense wasn’t exactly her forte, but someone had to do it now. It was obvious that having a certain weirdo around would have helped, though.

She knew it was a bad idea to split up like that, but it was too late for it now. It wasn’t as if she could argue when Anna was serious in the end, so maybe it was inevitable too. Even the pope himself had a hard time dealing with her, so what could a saint candidate like Colette do?

Either way, now she had to help the petite office survive their lack of scout ability, detection, firepower, and encyclopedic knowledge that came with staying away from the red-haired calamity. At least she found out that this Karim was more than met the eyes, so maybe she wouldn’t end the day defending a pile of corpses.

“You’re a bunch of unsightly fuckers, eh?”

The approaching mass of dolls was now less than a few dozen of meters away from Col and they seemed as eerie as it could be. Weird unliving creatures in a variety moving around with no real faces and wiggling their badly made weapons. Badly made and improvised weapons could still kill a human, like Col, very easily.

That was, if they hit, of course.

Col’s body went to a low profile as she held her gauntlets in front of her face and kept on charging, meeting the volley of black powder shots head-on. The pieces of metal only pummeled the stone gloves as if drawn to it, though, and no real damage was done.

The real damage would only appear when said gloves connected with the things using the pipe guns.

In a single punch, the disorganized line of dolls blew up as the one unlucky enough to meet Colette’s fist was turned into a spray of debris that took a good few others. And her attack wasn’t even over yet.

Riding the momentum, the toned inquisitor pivoted her body and sent a roundhouse kick to the closest mannequin before elbowing the third one. She then landed her moving feet and went to the defensive again right before another volley was sent in her direction.

Weird as it was, the dolls with guns weren’t advancing, though. Instead, they would stay in place and reload while their unarmed or melee counterparts kept on charging. There must have been something controlling their behavior or maybe giving orders to them directly, but the brunette was unable to guess what.

Even amongst the brawl, though, she could still hear the impacts of stone on stone and the spells being fired back at the temple. There were little if no cries of pain there, so it was fair to consider that they were fine. And it wasn’t as if thinking about it would do anything.

She could also see fires and noises coming from deeper down into the venue, but what was the source of these was easy to guess. Col wouldn’t be letting that red-haired monster outdo her in destruction that easily.

“That’s all you have, bastards!” She shouted at the things that couldn’t hear her in hopes that their masters would, and then returned to her rampage.

Punches, kicks, and all in between were used in waves. Each and every one of them was capable of breaking apart if not pulverizing whatever it hit, but her pace was slower than expected.

Be as it was, she had to keep the dolls from advancing, which meant not going too deep and risking letting some pass. But it also meant that she had no good way to deal with the gunners right now.

“Go fuck yourself, dammit!” The brawler went on as she protected herself with one gauntlet and used the other to throw a nearby doll into the moving mass. The impact sent many down the stairs and turned the first ones into scattered pieces, but it wasn’t much still.

It also didn’t do much to the already reforming line of gunners some steps below.

“Fucking ranged bastards…”

Their shots were slow and had low range, but it wasn’t that much of a disadvantage in a situation where they had the numbers to mitigate it. And if there was a thing these dolls had, it was surely the numbers.

The less-armed creatures seemed like they could keep going forever and even the ones with pipe weapons, which didn’t seem to be more than a tenth, were numerous enough to overcome Col’s destruction speed.

More than that, if she focused too much in speed and went too low on damage, the damned things would brush it off and get up again. Anything less than a pulverized head or losing half their bodies wasn’t enough to stop these things. At least they were made of easy-to-destroy materials.

If this whole army was made of steel armors and stone statues instead of wooden dolls and plastic mannequins, then it would be a real problem. And as she was thinking so while casually blocking bullets and using humanoid figures as bowling pins, something called her attention.

The temple was pretty much surrounded. Even her not-so-good sight could see that the whole of the immediate area in front of the stairs was filled with moving things, but they were most standardized in their movements. That should be it, at least, as now Col could notice a few somethings moving much faster inside the crowd.

They were small, right below her knee at most, so it was hard to be sure, but there was something approaching. Even if she could only notice the momentaneous flashes, it was sure that there was something coming.

Just to be safe, she stepped back a little out of her advance, holding out the ranged attacks without going further toward the line of melee dolls. Something was approaching and taking it down right away would be the best.

“C’mon, c’mon…” She kept going while impatiently dodging and slowly backing down so as to not be surprised by whatever was coming. “Show up already, you fucking brats…”

But right before anything could happen, the air got much heavier, and she felt something that could only be called a terrifying presence. It wasn’t something she never felt, though, so she could keep her focus, but it wasn’t good news. For one, it meant that everyone up there was in some real danger. The brunette somehow had to go faster.

Luckily, it seemed to affect the dolls, their movements slowing down ever so slightly. And more than those, the fast-moving creatures stopped in their places.

“That crazy girl… Forcing me to rush like this.” Col smirked in mix of amusement and panic before letting her very limited pool of spiritual energy flow. A good deal of it would be lost to her friend’s skill, but that was fine.

It was time for a counterattack.

She rushed again, pulverizing as many dolls as she could and pushing them as much as she could downstairs. No dolls could pass, and she would clear them before the temple fell.

A barrage of attacks filled with much more strength than any human could hope to achieve was what followed. Each attack was packed with strength and each one of them caused ripples in the air as the energy packed on the gauntlets caused secondary impacts around Colette.

Going this fast should be enough, even if she got a little too tired by it. But even while having all her focus on it, the berserker girl had to stop when the sudden lightning storm started at the temple.


No need to be a genius to understand what was happening, but it was still unexpected. Both the massive spell that was used above and the shout from the evil eye user were such. Even more so when this same order made part of the doll mass decide to suicide charge on Col after hearing this order.

It wasn’t a hard-to-deal situation, but it would buy time. And soon enough, the dolls were back at the venue, waiting there. Waiting there with their weapons ready to pummel whoever went downstairs and with enough space to use their numbers.

Not a place Colette wanted to attack, even if she could, but that was fine too. She had to go back to the temple anyway, both to warn everyone about the doll’s retreat and to help if anything was still happening.

More than that, she also had to see the state of the girl who had suddenly fired her rifle there.