Chapter 195:

Retaking Fort Valga (3)

Atk 0 Crit All ~My attack stat is negligible, so I can't help but rely on critical hits to succeed!~

After nearly an hour of ambushing the assassins throughout the fort, a strange feeling kept gnawing away at my mind. We had been picking them off, several at a time, but there was no increase in how many showed up despite the ruckus that was still heard in the distance.Bookmark here

In fact, we were seeing smaller groups for the latter half of the hour, the largest one being when they first attacked any portal in sight. It was strange that they had not surrounded us by now, since we could no longer rely on sneak attacks at odd angles.Bookmark here

“Your face is ringing some alarm bells. You feel it too, don’t you?”Bookmark here

I turned toward Gadwin and nodded, as we sneaked down the hallway to locate the next mana signature.Bookmark here

“The groups are too spread out, and they aren’t even trying to gang up on us. Like they don’t need to.”Bookmark here

Literally, every assassin that we ran into made no effort to run away, attacking us directly until they were dead. Furthermore, they had stopped carrying a portal or magic gun, relying only on crude weaponry and hand-to-hand combat.Bookmark here

“It feels like they are leading us around or stalling us for some reason. Any thoughts?” I whispered to Gadwin as we paused before a corner. Gadwin and I could hear some footsteps ahead of us.Bookmark here

“Seems that way to me too. There are certain places that we haven’t walked through, seeing as we keep running into people elsewhere.”Bookmark here

“That being?” I wasn’t familiar with the layout of Fort Valga, so I had no idea what was stored here. I studied Gadwin’s face as he contemplated.Bookmark here

“Like…” Suddenly, his jaw fell, and his eyes widened in realization. “…shit! Was that their aim all along?!”Bookmark here

Suddenly, Gadwin jerked and turned back, ignoring the enemies ahead of us. I moved to follow him as it was obvious that he had recalled something important.Bookmark here

“Gadwin! What is ‘that’?! Explain it to me!”Bookmark here

“No time to stop. I’ll have to raise my voice, even if someone hears us, but they’re basically planning to bring down this whole fort, rather than simply occupying it as a base.”Bookmark here

“B-Bring it down!? Bookmark here

“This entire time, we’ve been led around everywhere but the munitions room, next to the open, central area of Fort Valga. That is where we keep the ready-to-use explosives and flammables.”Bookmark here

A shiver ran down my back. I suspected that it would be the case, but I asked anyway. “Enough to demolish the entire place?”Bookmark here

“You bet! It’s no wonder that they didn’t need to chase after us. They simply needed to stall until they could set off the charge, taking the place down with us!”Bookmark here

Now that I knew the plan, my steps had become a bit quicker. The fear of getting blown up pushed my feet harder against the ground. My guard tightened as the mana around my body thickened in anticipation of the walls around me caving in at a moment’s notice.Bookmark here

Along the way, a few groups of assassins gave chase, likely noticing that we had caught on to their plans. They fearlessly charged into us, hoping to buy even a second more. While completely throwing out all caution in regard to defense, I watched as several of them dove towards me.Bookmark here

I pivoted my foot and did a spinning slice with my chef knife, lining up the weak points like three fruits on a chopping board. A single step to the side was all the room I needed to evade their bodies crumpling to the ground where I was.Bookmark here

I shot a glance at Gadwin, who had completely stopped and crouched into a low stance, his armor covering him like a turtle in its shell. Three assassins were desperately pounding their knives into the grooves of his armor, hoping to deal some damage. Another two men were a bloody mess on the ground in front of him. Despite sacrificing those two to reach the warrior, Gadwin’s sturdiness was simply too high. Even if he were stabbed in the face, the knife would likely just bounce right off.Bookmark here

Still, Gadwin instinctively curled into a defensive position, before flinging his arm to smash one assassin in the head with a backhand. With his spear in the other hand, he stabbed forward. The tip went right through the man’s chest, causing a splash of red to burst from the wound. The fatally injured body twitched several times before Gadwin pulled the spear back, flinging the body with it. The corpse’s weight pulled itself free from the spear tip, leaving it to join the other bodies that had suffered a similar fate.Bookmark here

Now slightly less burdened, Gadwin grabbed the next assassin, the one who had been struck by the backhand. A woman’s face was barely recognizable among the bloodied mess that completely dyed over those features. Gadwin hardly spared a look before slamming her to the ground and stomping on her spine with a sick crunch.Bookmark here

And with one final motion, he swept the spear in one quick arc at the last assassin, catching him in the throat. The man lurched forward, ignoring that his breathing had become drowned gurgles from the blood flooding into his mouth. He stabbed at the empty air before falling down in front of Gadwin.Bookmark here

The spear user ignored their labored twitching and marched forward, leaving the two assassins to die slowly where they fell.Bookmark here

Seeing this scene unfold before my eyes, my legs froze for a moment before I gritted my teeth and moved on with my eyes clenched shut.Bookmark here

‘Don’t think about it. Just focus on the task at hand.’Bookmark here

I only opened my eyes once I had moved well past the bloodied hallway. The ones that I had knocked out had been the fortunate ones. Gadwin didn’t bother to finish them off.Bookmark here

Before long, the scent of open air hit my nose and a natural light creeped in from around the corner. We were close to the center, where there was an open courtyard in the middle of the fort. Gadwin didn’t hesitate to charge forward, not even checking the high places for an ambush as he dashed out into the open.Bookmark here

Seeing that no one immediately bombarded him with attacks, I followed, taking note of the barrels that lined the hallways. Those were likely the explosives being used to send this place sky high.Bookmark here

Gadwin made a beeline straight for the large man in a cloak who was giving out orders. The others around him were busy carrying the barrel and crates, making it obvious who was in charge.Bookmark here

Before the minions could react, Gadwin thrust his spear at the leader. Its tip zoomed straight for the man’s head, but suddenly, his body flickered and moved out of the way. Gadwin stumbled forward, having missed his target entirely.Bookmark here

“Well, well. Already here, huh? That’s no good. We haven’t completed the handoff yet.” The cloaked man signaled to the others, who dropped what they were carrying and ran for one end of the fort.Bookmark here

I circled around to cut off their escape, but only a few fell to my attack as the others bolted through a door and closed it.Bookmark here

“Don’t think a door is going to stop me!” I yelled, raising my knife while charging.Bookmark here

Suddenly, a portal flew right into my path. Unable to react fast enough, my upper body barreled through the portal while my lower half was caught on the bottom lip. Now, I was essentially stuck with my butt hanging out one end and my torso sent to an unknown location.Bookmark here

I awkwardly looked up to see a dagger stabbing downward. With what little leverage I had, I pushed myself back through the portal, but it was too late as the sharp dagger plunged into my shoulder.Bookmark here

An intense pain gripped my right side, causing me to drop my chef knife before slipping backwards out of the portal. Managing to stay on my feet, I yanked the dagger out of my shoulder as I made some distance. I could feel blood spewing from the wound, which I immediately put pressure on with my left hand.Bookmark here

I looked back to see the portal had been connected to the leader, who was bearing a sinister smile. To damage me so easily through my mana shield and defensive gear, he had to have been fairly high-leveled.Bookmark here

“No, no. Your place is here with me. Can’t have you causing more trouble for Raganoff of the Dark Hand.” The man gave a slight bow as he introduced himself.Bookmark here

The end of a spear sliced at his head as he moved to the side to avoid it. Not even taking a moment to introduce himself had left him open to attacks.Bookmark here

Raganoff moved a portal next to him before shoving his arm into it.Bookmark here

Instinctively, I dove forward, just as I felt something slice me from behind. A stinging sensation followed, blood dripping down my lower back. Rather than targeting Gadwin, he had chosen to make a surprise attack on me via portal.Bookmark here

Gadwin chased after him with his spear, but Raganoff was simply too fast. At the same time, he could easily maneuver the portal like an extension of his body. His disconnected dagger hand freely whizzed around in an unpredictable pattern.Bookmark here

My eyes tried to follow the movements of the remote-controlled weapon flying in a three-dimensional space. But even that was a challenge as it would momentarily disappear from sight, only to show up in an awkward angle. I paid the price in the form of several cuts being added to my body.Bookmark here

I could feel myself slowing down. The sting of being sliced wasn’t something that I had learned to endure, so it was quickly making me lose focus.Bookmark here

‘No choice.’Bookmark here

I tapped my Divine Gate and felt a surge of energy. My vision become instantly clearer, just in time to see a dagger rush straight toward my face.Bookmark here

With one swift motion, I sliced upward and caught the flying arm in the wrist before it could reach its intended target. The dagger fell out of its grip and made a clang as it hit the ground.Bookmark here

Raganoff pulled his arm back out of the portal before cancelling it. He gave the floppy limb a shake, noticing that he could no longer make a fist. Part of his arm had merely gone limp, as I only had time to strike the local mana gate that gave his hand feeling.Bookmark here

“Bah, that’s what I get for messing around… But looks like we’re in the clear.”Bookmark here

Raganoff turned his head toward the gate leading to the Purnesian side. In the air, a colored signal flare soared upwards. Unknown to us, the Dark Hand had completed assembling the magic weaponry and moved the shipment far enough away from the blast zone.Bookmark here

“Well, that’s it. Fun’s over.”Bookmark here

Raganoff shot two portals, sending one flying past the gate where his companions were waiting. With a wave, he swiftly dove into the portal and escaped from the fort.Bookmark here

“Shit, we have to get out of here now!” Gadwin barked.Bookmark here

I reached in my Item Box and retrieved the portal gun that I had swiped off a dead body. Shooting a set of portals, I similarly sent one of them over to the Sistina side, hoping that I could move it far enough away.Bookmark here

Though it usually relied upon line-of-sight, one could push it temporarily into a blind spot as long as the mana connection wasn’t disrupted. It was just much harder to keep them open and stable. Feeling the limit of how far it could be moved, I called out to Gadwin.Bookmark here

“Get in… while I still have a good hold on it!”Bookmark here

However, Gadwin simply shook his head.Bookmark here

“Not going to happen. The hole is just too small for all the armor I have on.”Bookmark here

“Then, take it off quickly!”Bookmark here

“No time.”Bookmark here

Suddenly, Gadwin dropped his spear and hoisted me up. Lining me horizontally with the portal despite my flailing, the entryway was just big enough to toss me through like a javelin.Bookmark here

“W-Wait, let me just cut the armor off you! One slice-“Bookmark here

But Gadwin didn’t wait. I felt my body soaring through the air, and the next thing I knew, the surroundings of the fort’s interior had abruptly changed to a grassy meadow and trees.Bookmark here

My back landed roughly on a patch of grass, jarring the wounds that I had already incurred. However, there was no time to worry about that.Bookmark here

From the portal hanging in front of me, I could only see one thing:Bookmark here

Gadwin giving me a salute as a fiery din suddenly enveloped his entire body. A plume of fire gushed from the portal before the opening was snuffed out.Bookmark here

A tremendous boom shook the earth in the distance as large pieces of wall had been blown high into the sky. The sections of Fort Valga rained down like a volcano, littering the ground around the area with slabs of hard rock and foundation.Bookmark here

As the initial burst of flames settled down, a conspicuous hole could be seen in the distance, a large gap in the wall that separated Sistina and Purnesia. And beyond that wall, the movement of many, like a hoard of insects, scurried in the distance.Bookmark here

Gadwin and I had failed to stop it.Bookmark here

That was the front line of the Purnesian army, more men than I could bother to count. And very soon, they would come marching through the ruins of Fort Valga and right into Sistina.Bookmark here

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