Chapter 483 – The Battle Continues

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Battling the hellspawn while forcing her mount’s poison-breath attacks to bend away from me was getting tiring, but I couldn’t back away just yet. My goal was to keep her from re-forming her stealth until other forces could arrive.

Speaking of which, Diurhimath had grabbed my nearest Servant, Mireia, and bounded into the air as I requested… but carried the frightened girl only as far as the quarterdeck of the ascending launch.

My apologies, Commander, but I don’t feel confident about carrying the young lady aloft on my own, he apologized. The constitution of my regenerated arms and back muscles is more-or-less complete, but I am still recovering internally. It would be unsafe for her should I find myself unable to continue carrying her while aloft.

Dodging a new weapon, bolts of Aether and Demonic mana that the Royal Knights call [Hellfire], I considered the change in plan. Although I was probably too high up for him to actually see it, I shook my head.

It’s alright. This should be good enough. Please bring her to the bow. I need Pasrue to fly straight at the hellspawn so Mireia can blast her mount with [Purification]. Head on attacks will probably be the best.

I was thinking in terms of Earthly aerial combat. Classically the most effective way to arm fighting craft has been to place the guns facing forward, to allow high speed attacks without a long period close to the opponent.

The hellspawn finally achieved what she’d been plotting, placing me in the middle of a cloud of her little allies. But the gidim now flying in formation with me weren’t coming any closer, which I imagine was frustrating her. They ought to have attacked me by now.

The reason they didn’t was simple. As they approached me, they could feel the Holy mana coursing through my mana pathways. It was [Healing] rather than [Purification], but that is still something inimical to the miasmic portion of their Demonic mana.

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For monsters, [Healing] burns. It can be overwhelming in sufficient quantities even for mortals, but for monsters it is worse. Since demons have even more miasma than monsters, because it forms half the composition of Demonic mana (the other half being a blend of all mana types other than Light and Holy mana), it burns even worse. But [Healing] does not actually destroy miasma, the way [Purification] does. That’s why it is possible, albeit painful, to use [Healing] on monsters like Bruna, Diur and me.

The fact that it was going to hurt the gidim to get any closer to me was keeping them at bay, at least for now. 

It’s unlikely your Servant can kill such a powerful demonic beast, Diur warned. Your Servants do not have the same attack strength as you.

Nodding, I explained, My minimum goal is to drive the hellspawn off, then eliminate a small host of gidim that she is using to search for Amelia. If her mount can’t stand being here, she can’t stay. Make sure Pasrue knows what she is approaching.

Of course, I would rather kill her off and eliminate the threat, but without my ability to directly combat high-level demons, I might have to settle for less.

He responded, A tiger serpent and a demonkin?

Diurhimath sometimes calls demonic beings by different names from those I know. He called an asura a “Demon Knight”.

A demonkin powerful enough to use a tiger serpent as a mount, I clarified. Also, make sure her craft can defend against poisonous clouds, just in case. That beast has already used its breath multiple times.

Make sure you don’t breathe it!

I may be a child in your eyes, but I’m not a fool.

I sensed that feeling of contrition from him again. He didn’t voice it, but I think he sent it on purpose, in apology.

Being the mixed-up being that I am, I cause Diur a certain amount of confusion, I’ve noticed. Intellectually, he knows that I’m the reincarnation of one of the highest ranking Elders that ever was, while he is a mere foot-soldier in comparison. On the other hand, he is a very old man, even as Elders go, while I am a juvenile. I think he loses track, sometimes.

I’ve relayed it, but your Servant requires a focus to do as you request. Pasrue has gone below to fetch one for her from the stores. Please hang on, Commander.

Mireia doesn’t use a focus to heal. Like most healers, she prefers the laying-on of hands, which improves the feedback from the patient’s body. But she would need a focus to shoot out [Purification] attacks at any range.

Hopefully, Pasrue had something made by Talene to lend Mireia. Her fellow apprentice’s magic tools are remarkably effective.

It was somewhere around here that it occurred to me that I could protect my babies from my [Healing] spell by using Will to forcibly build a mana-free cocoon around my womb. Had that not occurred to Rhea, or did she not realize I could do it?

After a moment of trying it, I saw that it was only partially effective. The flood of mana I was circulating was more than the amount of Will I could spare to the efforts was capable of deflecting around my daughters. Perhaps Rhea didn’t want to risk it. But I continued doing it. As long as I could shield them from some of it, might as well.

The gidim were becoming braver, or more likely, were being forced by their mistress to get closer to me. I needed a weapon against them.

Mireia? I called out, switching ‘channels’.

I felt a response, but it seemed like something was in the way of me hearing it.

Rhea, are you still there? I asked instead.

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What a silly question, she answered immediately. Who is the woman who would miss being carried into the sky in the arms of a handsome young warrior?

Diur is over ten thousand years old, but I let that slide. Rhea was some unspecified number of millennia older than Senhion, so she could legitimately call Diurhimath young.

The girl whose body you are using right now is promised as a concubine to my fiancée. Don’t you dare compromise her honor.

I would never, Little Sen.

She sounded slightly hurt, so I guess she understood.

Ask Mireia if she can cast the Light version of [Purification].

That’s still not safe for your children, she answered, understanding my intention immediately.

Is there a light spell that would work on gidim and not bother my daughters?

You already have the weapon in hand suitable for that. The Light in your pseudo Sword Qi should do nicely.

By which she meant the concoction of Light, Earth and Will I was using to imitate the Sword Qi from Fan Li’s world in order to use her [Qi Sword] technique and generate sword light.

It only seems to annoy the hellspawn though? If not for that, I would have already tried it myself.

It’s a matter of degrees and defenses. The hellspawn is far more powerful, so she can tolerate the injuries to an extent, and she is using a Darkness spell with a parallel effect to [Healing] in order to recover from them.

I heard that explanation with great relief. Of course, I would have used the jian made of Sword Qi that I was currently using to fling sword light attacks on the hellspawn as a last resort. Thanks to the poor effect it seemed to be having on the hellspawn though, I had not been willing to risk flying closer to the gidim on purpose in order to try it.

In addition, the bit about a Darkness version of [Healing] was information I needed to relay to the Royal Knights as soon as possible. Rhea had just revealed to me the answer to an ongoing mystery concerning how demons sometimes exhibited impossible recovery speeds, even though they couldn’t cast [Healing]. It would be good if we could capture a demon who exhibited the ability and forced the secret of the spell out of them, since having Darkness mages capable of casting it would increase our medical capabilities.

The problem with expanding your mind is that your thoughts can go flying off in all directions, and often simultaneously. I forced myself to focus on the current situation, picked out the closest flying gidim, increased the Sword Qi in my generated weapon, and barrel-rolled at the demon, delivering a slashing attack.

It zig-zagged away, bleeding mana and miasma profusely as I fended off a [Hellfire] bolt and then attacked a second gidim. After the third gidim I attacked, the little demons beat a hasty retreat.

Gidim have no physical substance. They are nothing but souls corrupted with Demonic mana. Purifying one completely would theoretically convert them back into ghosts and pave their course to the Afterlife, Samsara and ultimate rebirth. But it does nothing to relieve the issues that turned them into demons in the first place, and an incomplete purification like the one I had just brute-forced, simply stripping a significant portion of their Demonic mana away, probably wouldn’t last. More than likely, the creature would re-accumulate its mana and resume its Demonic existence. But it was out of this fight.

Able to focus all my attention on the hellspawn again, I began plotting my next attack. The qi sword in my hand would not be a suitable focus for anything else, but it could handle the two manas that I was using to simulate Sword Qi. I circled her clockwise so I could point the jian at her while circling Earth, then chanted, “[Earth Bullet]!”

The machine gun stream I generated by using way more mana than the spell is capable of handling, forcing it to divide the substance into a series like the output of an automatic weapon, sprayed out at her, but my steady orbit could only last for a brief time before she counterattacked. I remembered my own advice while juking and jiving to dodge her counterattack, and turned my course into a head-on attack, firing [Earth Bullet] directly forward as I flew at her.

The fight continued for another minute like that, becoming aerial combat more resembling World War I over the Somme than typical Huadean conflicts. ‘Dogfights’ normally only happen between opposing mages, in a setting where fairies battle each other or go after ground attack squadrons with swords, while massed groups of non-mage flyers use archery against each other and those same ground attackers. Perhaps the new magic weapons of Pendor that give non-mages ranged magic attacks will change that, but right now, the mage-on-mage combat setting that the hellspawn and I were fighting is rare.

I switched to [Light Bullet] attacks midway, but I was having limited success. Or more accurately, I was only keeping her too busy to escape or recover. The nue that she was riding was damnably nimble, to the point that I could only deliver an occasional hit. Meanwhile, while I never let her get a head-on shot, I couldn’t get behind her without the beast leaving a trail of poison.

But a bolt of Holy Mana from below broke the stalemate. I knew it was coming, of course, having felt the Holy mana pouring through me. It didn’t turn into [Purification] until Mireia received it, so it wasn’t dangerous to my babies, but I definitely felt the spell operating.

It struck the beast, which let out its strange hissing roar, a ripping sound I can barely describe as being like ripping canvass. Its instinct broke the hellspawn’s control over it, and it flew at the responsible party with vengeance in mind.

I had to avoid the bolts of [Purification] for the sake of my daughters, so I didn’t pursue the creature, but what happened next left me squarely in the fight anyway. A volley of magic fire from Parsrue’s vessel ripped into the vague cloud that comprised most of the nue in its flying form, injuring it further, and the demonic beast’s fight-or-flight switch flipped from fight to flight.

Unfortunately for me, the path it took happened to intersect with my current position. The next moment, I found myself colliding with the spongy, almost cotton-candy-like mass that was the demonic beast in its flight transformation, and it let out another scream, probably reacting to the [Healing] in my body. Its violent, jerking effort to throw me had the effect instead of driving me and the hellspawn into each other.

I was protected from the Demonic mana with the [Healing] still coating my body and circulating through my pathways, and [Body Fortification] was also still protecting me, but the direct tooth-and-claw attack of a Class-A demon was still overwhelming. I could feel them penetrating my body, and a two-handed sword is unwieldy and difficult to use effectively when grappling.

As an instinctive self-defense measure, my fangs were forming. Seeing no other choice, I chanted [Purification] in my spiritual voice while exerting Will upon the Holy mana currently circulating as [Healing] to forcibly convert it to the new spell, then bit deeply into the hellspawn’s neck.

- my thoughts:

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I'm not gonna lie, the main reason for the title 'The Battle Continues' is that I thought I would be done with this fight by the end of this chapter. Looks like it's going to bridge four chapters now. Although, I'm not disappointed, since the chapter wound up ending at a great spot, instead. Sometimes, things just work out that way.

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