Chapter 201:

Defense of Hohenheim

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

Gadwin eyes popped open, staring at an unfamiliar ceiling. In the next moment, a wave of pain seared across his body, making him recall what had happened before he fell unconscious.Bookmark here

He remembered tossing the Chancellor through a portal, ensuring his safety. Before the bombs exploded around him, he piled on the thickest mana that he could muster, tucking his body into his armor to make himself more compact. The sound of deafening explosions shook him before everything went dark.Bookmark here

The fact that he could feel pain told him that he had somehow survived. He had to thank his many years of bolstering his own defensive capability. As he felt around his body, however, he found that his equipped armor had been stripped off. He felt strangely bare without that and his weapon. It bothered him enough to sit up, despite how much his body protested.Bookmark here

His eyes blinked at the sight of charred skin covering his body in the places that had been least protected from the blast. In particular, there was a checkered pattern running along his forearms and stomach, likely from the chainmail links covering those areas.Bookmark here

As his eyes glazed over at his injuries, a shock shook the room he was in. It felt like something had just slammed into the building. He felt traces of residual magic that diffused through the air.Bookmark here

‘An enemy attack?!’Bookmark here

Gadwin quickly got to his feet and scanned the room. In one corner, the remnants of his armor and weapon were tucked there. His chestplate and chainmail had been melted quite badly, having taken the brunt of the explosion and heat. Several places had shattered, leaving gaping holes. There was nothing to hold itself up, and even if he could don it once again, it had completely lost its defensive properties.Bookmark here

Next, he eyed the crumpled, twisted form of his spear. That had been a gift from his Majesty, the father of Queen Katalina. But now, it looked like a flimsy hook that would shatter until hitting something. Once a weapon had been warped too far out of shape, it lost any designation as a weapon, giving literally no boost in Attack. Holding onto it as a memento wasn’t even worthwhile.Bookmark here

Another two impacts shook the room before the door opened, a well-dressed butler appearing shocked to see Gadwin awake.Bookmark here

“S-Sir Gadwin, are you well enough to be standing?”Bookmark here

“Not really, but who can sleep in this racket? Care to tell me what is going on?’Bookmark here

“C-Certainly. You were brought here by the Queen’s attendant, bearing the insignia of the Chancellor. Here as in, the mansion of Lord Hohenheim. It has been several hours since, but it appears that the ones who had attacked Fort Valga, where you were injured, have now made their way here.”Bookmark here

“And what of the Chancellor?”Bookmark here

“According to Miss Ludmila, who brought you, the Chancellor has met up with Duke Reichenstein. Some messages filtered through, telling that the two of them successfully repelled the advance invaders, and they have met up with several more detached forces from the various regions. However, communications have been difficult in the past hour or so.”Bookmark here

“Well, what am I standing here for? I owe them quite a lot for everything they’ve done so far.”Bookmark here

“But Sir, you can’t possibly-“Bookmark here

“If you have time to worry about my health, then go fetch me some replacement armor and a spear. As much as I’d like to scare them with my current appearance, I’d rather feel their bones crack under my blows,” Gadwin said as he eyed his still charred state in a nearby mirror.Bookmark here

“Right away, Sir.”Bookmark here

The butler beckoned for Gadwin to follow him, passing through the hallways of the mansion before stopping before an armory that had its doors open. Gadwin noticed several things missing from within, likely being used to repel the invaders.Bookmark here

Pulling some armor from the shelves that looked to be the right size, he quickly slipped into it. Finally, he grabbed a spear from the rack. The cheap craftsmanship of a standard issue spear felt flimsy in his hands, but he had to make do.Bookmark here

“Well, what’s the status of our forces?” He eyed the butler for some information. It was better to know what was in store for him out there.Bookmark here

“Milord Hohenheim has taken all able fighters to assist in defending the city. The enemy’s numbers aren’t very large, only number in the hundreds, but they are crafty.”Bookmark here

“Crafty?” Gadwin arched a brow as he stormed through the mansion to head outside, the butler speedily walking to catch up.Bookmark here

“Yes, surprise attacks from up in the air, unpredictable assaults – the like that disrupts the normal rhythm of battle.”Bookmark here

Gadwin opened the door leading outside, taking his first glimpse of various magic dotting the skies in the distance. Occasionally, explosions shook the area from the fighting in the distance.Bookmark here

“Tch. Already well within the town boundaries. Won’t be a problem for my senses, but for anyone else… What of the civilians?”Bookmark here

“Evacuated for the time being. The Earl’s wind magic set up a perimeter to keep them out.”Bookmark here

As Gadwin squinted to look more closely, he saw the small shapes of portals hovering through the air. Occasionally, one appeared to dissipate among a flash of green, likely colliding into the wind barrier that the butler mentioned.Bookmark here

“Good, one last question… Where is that attendant of the Queen that brought me here? The battlefield is an uncertain place. Would like to extend my thanks before possibly getting myself killed.”Bookmark here

The butler looked to the side, obviously avoiding his gaze. Gadwin narrowed his eyes at him.Bookmark here

“Is she, Miss Ludmila… not here?”Bookmark here

“Oh, no no. She is most certainly here…,” the butler retorted with haste, “but I guess that you’ll have to see what I mean for yourself.”Bookmark here

The butler led him forward through the empty streets. The clamor of explosions, small and compact, grew clearing and more distinct. Gadwin recognized the sounds, recalling how they were similar to the ignition of bombs, but there was no loud ‘boom’ afterward, only a simple ‘bang’.Bookmark here

Fairly soon, Gadwin approached a boundary in which the pristine city abruptly gave way to a ruined landscape. He reached out with his spear and tapped against the nearly-invisible barrier defining that line. A green swirl of light emitted from the place where he tapped as his spearhead was forcibly pushed back.Bookmark here

He could feel the center of that wind barrier off to the right. That was likely were the Earl was currently. After only a few blocks, he saw a man past his prime, dressed in a high-quality green vest that was fancy yet peculiar.Bookmark here

Noticing Gadwin approach, Earl Hohenheim shot a look his way before waving his hand once to cut out a slit directly behind him for people to pass. Gadwin dashed through and saluted him.Bookmark here

“Lord Hohenheim, please allow me to offer my spear. But before I do, your servant tells me that you know where the young attendant of the Chancellor is presently.”Bookmark here

“I do. But now is not the time for that. She will be fine. Though she is unable to join us in battle due to her condition, she is hiding in one of the houses behind me.Bookmark here

“Her condition?” Gadwin looked skeptically at the older man, but his expression was of utter focus on the battle before him.Bookmark here

Waving his hand several times through the air like a conductor at a symphony, the Earl sent blades of wind forward and high into the air. The blades curved and flew straight for the various portals in the sky, colliding straight into them.Bookmark here

For those unlucky enough to have their arms sticking out to attack with a magic gun, the wind blades simply severed their arms clean off before crashing into the portal and cancelling it.Bookmark here

Gadwin stared ahead, seeing various soldiers fighting back to back in sets of four to cover every angle of approach by the portal users.Bookmark here

And further back, a thick line of soldiers could be seen pointing long shafts in his direction. After a loud cry, a series of small explosions peppered the background with noise. Moments later, both Gadwin and the Earl felt a shower of metal pellets collide into their bodies. But due to their high defense, they simply bounced off like toy beads.Bookmark here

“So, that is the source of that racket,” Gadwin thought aloud. Bookmark here

He scanned the rest of the area as another barrage was fired towards them. As the pellets converged on the Earl’s soldiers, they brought their shields up in defense A few men winced as they were struck in various places left unguarded, but thankfully, the injuries were not serious.Bookmark here

“Arming commoners with projectile weapons – that appears to be Purnesia’s strategy. Individually weak, but a force unable to be ignored as a group,” Earl Hohenheim commented.Bookmark here

“I see. Makes it difficult for most to advance forward.” Gadwin noted that both sides appeared to be somewhat at a stalemate. “But that will change now.”Bookmark here

Readying his spear and dropping into a stance, Gadwin charged forward. The shower of bullets peppering his face were like grains of rice bouncing off. Occasionally, a stronger force, more like a light punch crashed against his cheek, but he doubted anyone would undergo enough training to break through his high stats. He kept a keen sense on his surroundings to make sure no surprise attacks came towards him, the only way they could likely inflict damage.Bookmark here

Seeing the line of marksmen grow flustered in panic, it did not take long for Gadwin to charge straight into the first targets. A swing of the spear sliced through five of them. Their companions watched as upper torsos were tossed into the air, separated from their lower halves.Bookmark here

In a panic, they continued to shoot at him, all the while backing up. Gadwin hardly cared for their cries of fear. In fact, those sounds guided the spear that descended upon them. The cries of panic turned into gurgles of snuffed life as heavy thuds impacted the ground.Bookmark here

The line that was so neatly organized turned into a chaotic swarm that scattered, trying to make some distance from the spear user. Gadwin flicked his head toward the nearest body, those that were either slow to retreat or held some measure of bravery still. He graced them with an instant death.Bookmark here

Suddenly, a sharp pain crashed into his side. Gadwin whipped around and touched the spot, feeling the warmth of fresh blood trickle down.Bookmark here

A single person stood among the swarm of people running away, his pistol aimed squarely for Gadwin. This man wore a more distinguish uniform with various decorations pinned upon his breast. Likely, those pins signified some level of notoriety, meaning that he was dealing with a higher-level combatant, a leader of some measure.Bookmark here

Gadwin smirked as the man fired again. This time, Gadwin moved the shaft of his spear into the line of fire. He felt a strong blow against his weapon which instantly disappeared; he had managed to block the second shot.Bookmark here

The shooter narrowed his eyes before uttering a single word. “Golabki,” he said with a tip of the hat.Bookmark here

“Gadwin.”Bookmark here

That was all the two men needed to know. The telling of names signaled a duel that was understood beyond their respective cultures.Bookmark here

As Gadwin dashed forward, Golabki sidestepped his spear thrust before firing a shot straight for the head. In response, Gadwin tilted his head, keeping careful watch on the hand that squeezed the trigger. The bullet glided harmlessly a few centimeters in front of his eyes.Bookmark here

As Gadwin kept swinging, his opponent fired three more shots while dodging out of reach. Neither one was able to hit the other, their attacks sailing only through air. One look at each pair of eyes spoke volumes of their battle experience, making the victor impossible to determine.Bookmark here

In their minds, they knew that only one of them would likely walk away. They were warriors that refused to back down from a fight.Bookmark here

However, by sheer luck, something else had made the decision for them to live another day.Bookmark here

In the distance, new cries of defeat sounded on the side of the Purnesian Army. The two men glanced over at the same time, seeing a new combatant entering the fray. This one cut through the army with wide sweeping blows. But instead of seeing mangled bodies flying through the air, those that came into contact with him simply fell over unconscious.Bookmark here

Major Golabki quickly weighed his options before relaxing his stance and dashing backward.Bookmark here

“Retreat! Retreat!” he called out to his men.Bookmark here

What remained of his troops pulled back. He had lost around 20% of his five hundred soldiers, but in the process, they had picked off a good portion of the city’s defenses. If it hadn’t been for these two new combatants, they would’ve worn down the strongest magic user and taken the city soon enough.Bookmark here

As the sounds of fighting died down, Gadwin eyed the Chancellor speeding towards him on a levi-board, a tool that he personally felt too awkward to use with his thick frame. He lightly shook his head at the merciful strikes that the other man dished out but quickly forgave him for it was his nature.Bookmark here

Though he was a bit naïve, he couldn’t discredit how strong the Chancellor was.Bookmark here

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