Chapter 74 – Battle

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Aenëe’s face grew red and, while drawing her blade, she yelled, “You shall pay for insulting My Lord, you fake!”

By the time her blade was out, she had already closed the distance, but I was still holding my sword, one handed. I already had a considerable amount of fire mana circulating inside me for a follow-up fireball, but in my surprise, I just parried several times, taking the first two blows one-handed while flying backwards before getting both hands on my sword for the third and fourth.

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She was fortifying both her body and her blade with Earth mana, one of the few useful magic techniques that Tiana learned before I arrived. Even so, it was failing to have any effect on my blade. That was no surprise. With the amount of mana that Aenëe was putting into it, her fairy steel blade was at best a weak imitation of mithril.

Possibly, she understood that the sparks that were flying were coming off her own blade. Or perhaps she simply needed to regroup after the flurry of attacks failed to get through my defense.

I was still a bit flabbergasted as we fought. “You seriously can’t see through his disguise?!”

I managed to stop getting pushed back with a strong strike combined with a hard push of wind magic driving myself forward. We ended up a few paces apart from each other, circling.

“A filthy lie like that! The Baron even goes as far as to hire my services to protect his people! Don’t you know how much it costs to hire a fairy knight?”

Normally, it is quite expensive to hire a fairy knight. They are game changers, moving on the battlefield like queens on a chess board. Each side usually has only a handful. This young fairy didn’t seem to realize that this begged the question about how a frontier baron could afford to hire one.

I shrugged. “I’m not selling myself like you do. I serve my king as a loyal member of his nobility. I take the pay of a mortal knight.”

Okay, I get triple per diem now, but so do the senior knights, so it isn’t a lie.

She sneered, “As if anyone would pay a fake like you the same as me!” then turned in toward me and rushed at me again. I met her blade with mine, going into a hover to stand and fight. After a few more blows, we broke apart.

Below us, the rest had joined in battle, except for Arken and company, who were still remaining in stealth and skirting the battle. They had already managed to get out from between the soldiers and the wall, and were now circling around, trying to get as near to our group as they could. 

Arken was limping terribly. Something was strange about his leg, and I realized after a moment that it was partly regenerated. It hadn’t grown to full length yet. He was using magic to fill out the difference between his shortened leg and the ground.This magic was the ‘glammer limb’ spell he had mentioned.

Melione’s leveled-up healing has become that powerful?

I’ll be frank, I thought it would take months to grow his leg even that much, as slow as elves grow. It takes them eighty years just to look like thirteen year olds.

Aenëe had begun using wind magic on her blade, sending it out in slashes that resembled Arken’s and Ceria’s wind scythes. It was second-level magic I couldn’t do yet. But a wind wall was plenty effective against it.

Too bad I was charged to the teeth with fire mana. I parried the scythes with my sword instead, but began summoning wind mana while keeping the fire mana circulating. And I teased, “These little wind blades are so small and cute. They’re so adorable!”

“Bitch!” she yelled, and sped them up, but I kept parrying while laughing.

We kept circling each other, with me charging with my sword and her answering with wind scythes and moving again as I parried them. She was trying to get behind me where a parry would be difficult.

Juggling two manas is hard. I tried to throw out a wind wall behind me as she got a chance at my back, and accidentally built a fire wall instead. The next scythe was only partly slowed by it, but that allowed me to get my sword on it and break it apart.

As a bonus, I had built it right in her path of flight. She let out a squeal as she braked and backed away. My error ended up looking like good tactics.

“Gotcha!” I said and laughed again.

Below me, Graham, Ryuu and Bruna had formed a triangle around the wagon, which Cerea was using as a platform from which to work. Brigitte had taken up her standard position behind Graham, dashing out between his massive swings to deliver attacks with her daggers, scooting back out of the way before his next blow. As I watched, she even pulled her favorite surprise move. Instead of coming around his right or left, she actually vaulted him, planting her feet on his shoulders to extend the jump right over the heads of the enemy, turned and delivered a strike on one of them on her way back.

Brigitte is a little scary. The way she grins while she fights like she’s having fantastic fun is especially frightening.

I was one to talk. As soon as I had that thought, I realized I was fighting with my tongue sticking out and a smirk on my face. I pulled my tongue back in. What was wrong with me?

Ryuu had probably slain the Baron’s horse with one of his [Spirit Shot]s. It was beheaded, and the Baron was getting to his feet, yelling something at the adventures, who were advancing to protect him.

How was I seeing all these things while I was supposedly in the middle of a sword fight? Because Aenëe, to be perfectly honest, sucked. 

I was kind of disappointed. I was parrying her sometimes without even looking. Fairy sense showed her attacks clearly to me, thanks to her body fortification and the mana in her scythes. She probably normally fought only non-fairy foes and got by on brute strength, because she didn’t seem to realize I could see every attack coming.

“Why aren’t you looking at me?!!” she shrieked.

I couldn’t help but continue to tease her. I shook my head with an impish grin as I turned back to her. “Are you sure you’re a fairy knight?”

The fact was, I could have killed her twenty times at this point. She wasn’t much better than a beginner. Sir Pirstin could defeat her in his sleep. In fact, from experience, I can say with confidence that at this point he would have begun lecturing her as they fought. He would have found her technique unacceptable and decided to correct it.

“You bitch!” she screamed again and came at me with another flurry.

You see, I actually didn’t want to hurt her. I had been an outcast in Fairy society from the age of three months, thanks to my vampiric side. Slaying a fellow fairy, and especially one whom I was pretty sure was no older than myself, would probably make it permanent, I figured. I had to win this battle without killing her.

I decided it was time to use the rest of the fire mana I had been circulating since before we began fighting. Instead of the massive fireball I could have used it for, I used it to fill the mithril blade on the next parry

It instantly glowed white-hot as a blast of heat hit me in the face, but it literally sliced her sword in two as she struck it. While the majority of her sword clanked off my cuirass and pauldron as it spun away, her head followed her swing to stare in astonishment at the three inches of blade she still possessed.

Fortunately for her, I suddenly needed to get my sword out of my hands, because it had become intensely hot. Rapidly beating my wings to back away while wincing against the heat (which I suspect would have given my hands third degree burns if I were human,) I re-sheathed it so I could let it go. My scabbard and grip were both made of hydra hide for the waterproof qualities, but that material also bore up well to heat. Water affinity, you know.

The spear was tied to my back for travel, and it would take a while to get it loose. The two looted swords were currently on the hips of Bruna and Ceria.  My only choices were the Genoese knife and the fan. I pulled out the fan while circulating wind mana again, then yanked out the knife left-handed.

I wasn’t sure if I dared trying to summon more than one mana type again. I knew now that it was probably easy, since I could feel Ceria keeping all four of her elements circulating at the same time as she switched from spell to spell. But it wasn’t something I was accustomed to doing, and I had just learned that selecting the right mana once you had more than one ready was tricky.

Of course I had always been able to do it, since my wings are made by combining darkness and wind. But the mana for my wings was an inborn skill. I had to draw mana consciously for everything else. So I chose Wind because the shield I felt most confident in was a wind wall.

Giving an enraged shriek, Aenëe hurled a powerful fireball at me. I opened the fan and cast a wall. I was moving the fan as I did it, and apparently that caused the wall to move as well. As a result, I fouled her pitch off easily.

Drawing and circulating as fast as I could, I built up as large a charge as one second allowed, then snapped the fan closed, pointed it at her and intoned, “[Wind Bullet.]”

Tiana’s lifetime of practice with handling a folding fan like a noblewoman, gesturing and pointing at things with it, was turning out weirdly useful here.

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An oversized ball of wind struck Aenëe in the chest and blew her backwards. Her Earth mana fortification kept it from damaging her, but it seemed I had a little more power than she could take. She halted herself halfway to the town wall, but looked like a punch-drunk boxer.

I stuffed the fan back in my belt and drew my sword while circulating Earth mana. The handle was still painfully hot, but I could hold it now, and using fortification magic made it stop radiating heat as quickly, which helped as well. I rushed at the stunned fairy knight, pulling the sword back over my shoulder like a bat and, with the flat of my sword, literally swatted her over the wall.

My little league coach would have been so proud. I had never put one out of the park before. 

Wait, I was outside the wall. So was that into the park?

- my thoughts:

There is no paywall. This chapter will unlock two weeks after it was posted.

You may have noticed that Tiana began to tease and joke a bit as she fought. It's the fairy equivalent of talking smack.

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