Chapter 60:

Flipside: Song of Dawn - Part 3


Getting guidance from a marksman spirit was a little harder than what Karim usually did, but it was only because marksmen were rare.

Still, the moment an answer came, it was a golden catch. And as a golden catch, the first thing the petite cop learned was that she shouldn’t be using an anti-material rifle as a sniper.

It had a few problems, and she was hearing all about them while still chanting, but it didn’t matter right now. Even the fact that she would never find a soul that actually knew how to use that gun properly didn’t matter to her. All that mattered was doing something to help her companions.

Ignoring the warning as she had few other options, the prayer went on, and soon, her body was already moving. Each movement was full of warning signs, though, as she was going to do some very unusual things, and both sides weren’t sure if it was fine. But the theory should be the same even with a bigger gun, they guessed, so it was only a matter of not knowing the smaller details.

Enchanting the bullet with holy magic was also beyond their knowledge. In fact, it was unsure if it was something possible at all. Either way, Karim had to rest more to reliably use another smite, so worrying about it right now was useless.

What she had to worry about now was hitting the scampering things down below without friendly fire. And for the cop, and her alone, it would mean pulling an Annabeth and shouldering the thing.

It would cause damage, more than she wanted to receive even, but that was the only way.

She got in position and did her best to stabilize her posture before starting to look for a target. Finding one didn't take long, though, and the girl holding a gun bigger than herself was soon getting all information she needed to fire it.

Distance, speed, inclination, and everything else. All adjustments a marksman would have to do went through Karim’s head in a single moment and she acted accordingly. And soon enough, the gun fired.

It was a very close shot that cut through a few dolls but did not hit the right target, though.

Holding the recoil ended up being too much for the small cop, but she felt that it was doable. She just had to get used to it and pretend to not be wounded. A healing prayer would likely end up killing her right now...

And so, while gritting her teeth and pulling the rifle’s bolt, Karim found her next target.

Hand on the trigger, gun held on her wounded should, and a stone fox on her eye, the rifle fired once more.

This time, where she aimed was where the bullet went, and Karim was sure she saw pieces of stone blowing apart. Quite sure it was a hit, she went on to the next.

The pain in her shoulder was also growing, but it was, again, a problem for later.

A third cartridge was set on the barrel and another stone animal carrying wreckages was found. Downstairs, the brunette inquisitor and the black-haired kitsune had both noticed her. They seemed to be saying something, but they were too far and the petite girl was too focused to hear it.

Either way, another stone animal was soon destroyed. With the experience of the other two shots, this one was a perfect hit even. Karim was even able to visually confirm the destroyed statue of a blind monkey before moving on.

The pace was quite slow, and Karim knew that she had way fewer bullets than there were statues, but that was fine. As long as she wasn't idle, it would be worth the effort.

With this much in mind, the next shot went by without a problem too. Her arm was close to being dislodged by the recoil and she was starting to reach the bottom of her tank again, but she only needed to fire once more. In fact, how deep her two allies were in the line meant that this last shot could very well be the last.

The enemy positions were either punched to bits or set ablaze, and even the figures climbing the wall were way too few by now. They had finally arrived at the mopping-up stage.

But right as Karim was calming down, an impact shook the whole temple as something blew a hole in the main tower.

In a hurry, she turned around and went inside the courtyard again, spotting the brand-new hole soon after. It also didn't take long for her to notice the abnormality of this strike and the hovering man coming back toward the barrier.

She was worried about her partner whom she couldn't see right now, but this worry changed the moment the flying ifrit struck the barrier.

It could be due to the fact they were holding for a long time already or maybe that ifrit was that strong, but the energy wall shook again with his punch. The combination of the flaming and physical strike bore cracks in the defenses, and this one was only the first blow.

Another punch came, and the cracks continued to grow. Best case scenario, it would take another three strikes, but that was already optimistic.

They were very noisy strikes, though, so some of the temple's guards were approaching too. Just like Karim, they came to see what was happening and fight it off if possible. But the blondie was unsure if the humanoid guns and the one or two tired kitsunes could deal with that.

She could understand now why Annabeth let herself be neutralized only to keep this enemy tied up. If that ifrit entered the temple, there were likely very few who could hold him. And Karim wasn't one of them, at least not in her current state.

More than that, one of these few was nowhere in sight and the other two were quite far away.

Still, by the time the third punch connected, the ifrit already had a good few barrels pointed at him. Half a dozen pistols and some three small fox flames. They wouldn't do much, but it had to be enough to buy time. And so, Karim also aimed her borrowed rifle and opened fire, even if only once.

Small rounds and the rifle's silver bullet, all struck the bulging ifrit squarely moments before he was hit by the fireballs. Even a spirit attuned to fire and with a lot of physical resistance should take some damage from that.

In the end, the small weapons of the tsukumogamis fired until their clips were empty and the fireballs blew the man until there was a cloud of smoke. And still, when it all died out, the ifrit was still there, even if the barrier wasn't.

The cracks had turned into falling pieces as the barrier got unstable and started to break. And now, there was a clear path for their enemy that was only slightly wounded.

Still in a rush, the young kitsunes with their total of three tails resumed the attack while the man in suits rushed to reload. Even Karim was a little frantic right now as she tried to decide between using her last bullet for something very risky.

But before any of them could decide what to do, the ifrit crossed his newly-made opening and pointed his hands to the ground with a battlecry.

"AAAAAAARRGH!!!" His roar echoed across the temple and, right after, a stream of flames erupted from his hands.

The volume and power of the flamethrower were, in a word, impressive. At least a fifth of the whole courtyard was covered at a time and all had to scramble to dodge it. And even then, some of the few fighters in the area ended with burns.

Seeing this happen was enough to make Karim's mind, though, and she started to pray again. She was unsure if it would work or if it was safe, but she could feel her magic being drawn to the silver bullet.

And while running from safe spot to safe spot with her tired body, the golden-haired holy mage turned her smite-charged rifle to the living flamethrower and fired the gun's last shot.

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