Chapter 17: Bad Villains and Secret Plots

James found himself in a dark chapel, complete with pews and an altar. Tapping the belt around him, a slight hum materialized around him as his shield formed. Scanning around, he tried to figure out where the kidnappers were keeping the missing pair. Then, a figure emerged from the darkness, clapping his hands. “Welcome, James. So, you’ve found our hideout. How kind of you to join us. We were actually just planning to look for you…”

James found himself amused and began chuckling.

The figure hesitated, confused.

“Sorry, it’s just that you remind me of my home world. There were a lot of bad villain montages…”

Realizing that he was being mocked, the figure shook before bellowing, “Get out, y’all. Come greet the guest!”

Only allowed on

James fired a shot at the figure but found his mana bullet blocked by some type of ward. Inspecting it briefly, he identified it as a mere mana ward that would still allow objects to pass through; he’d have to switch to actual physical ammunition to break through it.

With a sigh, James shut the doors behind him, removing the brilliant sunlight snaking in, allowing only a few windows to cast a dim glow throughout the room. Raising his gun, he tried to figure out what he was facing as his eyes adjusted to the dimness. After all, the priest clearly had reinforcements, and it’d be foolish to adjust his weapon to physical form before he’d taken care of the other threats. 

Out of the shadows emerged some lurching Undead. Combat started. Instead of activating his watch like he normally would, James quickly fired six shots of his Gatling gun, taking out the whole group. Warily eyeing the dark figure, he fired his gun a few times at the figure in the center, trying to take out the glyphs supporting the ward array that had to be somewhere near the guy. Either way, James figured that if he loaded the barrier with enough mana, the wards would break.

A voice whispered next to his ear, “How dare you harm the [Dark Priest]!”

Spinning around, James fired a wave of bullets, only to find no one there. He cursed. If he entered combat without a target, his turns would be wasted as he’d have to shoot in a spread that would fail to cover the room within the three seconds of his turn.

Stealth-type Skills were one of the few things that could spell his doom despite all of his advanced weapons. He tapped his belt, subtly enhancing the strength of the shield by burning through the mana crystal powering it. While it gave the shield a significant boost, it ate at the life of the crystal like nothing else.

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Were an [Archmage] here, they would have been impressed by the lack of mana traces emitted, which were now completely unnoticeable to any but the most sensitive and skilled of [Mages] despite the massive overloading of the enchantment. A knife thunked against the barrier generated by James’s belt. Had it not been there, James would’ve found it in his stomach. James once again congratulated his own wisdom in creating a shield that had been tested to have almost six hundred durability.

James judged where that knife would have ended on his body before figuring out that they weren’t looking to kill him. They could’ve easily gone straight for his head. No matter. With a general idea of where they were, James threw a bottle of explosive dye into the room. To make sure that he disrupted any Stealth Skills around him, he tightly shut his eyes before activating the modified Flash Bang he’d built using Light Crystals.

A blinding light lit up the whole room for an instant, resulting in shouts of pain as a score of figures in black popped out of shadows: some behind furniture and one less than three feet away. Covered in purple paint, the figures would have looked comical had James been in the mood to notice; James stoically ignored the fact that he too was covered in the simultaneously noxious and obnoxious purple paint that was perfect for disrupting Stealth skills. Luckily, the paint would quickly evaporate, which was in part what made it so easy to smell as the vapors would drift to peoples’ noses… 

Now that all his targets were in sight and had had their Skills canceled by their losing their concentrations, James tapped his watch. There was almost no way for them to avoid his next attack. With a brilliant purple glow, James gained a fifteen-second turn from his watch’s enchantment, sacrificing much of his agility in later turns to power this. 

Smirking, James simply spun around while spamming his Gatling Gun, massacring the [Assassin]s who futilely tried to dodge out of the way. Some even managed to fire off some quick Skills but nothing like |Projectile Negation| or |Predictive Dodge|, which usually required extreme focus and preparation.

Guns blazing, James roared as he watched the health drain out of those black figures. James would have felt bad about the wholesale slaughter had he not known that these were some of the worst criminals of Natusha. He knew this because only they would dare to attack and infiltrate the Church. With seven seconds left, James sprinted toward the [Dark Priest], knocking the man to the ground. Combat ended then because the System determined that the [Dark Priest] had been defeated. James mentally congratulated himself. Fortunately, combat had ended before the fifteen seconds of his turn had finished, allowing him to avoid the agility penalty in later rounds from extending his turn timer.

The man seemed to not even notice as he continued |Chant|ing something. James slapped the [Dark Priest], but the man had far too much experience to let something like that disrupt his Skill. “Where are they?” James threw back the man’s hood, revealing him to be Brother Hank, a middle-level figure in the Church within the Kingdom’s Capital.

“Brother Hank!? Damnit. Now, this really feels like a badly designed villain.”

Coughing, Brother Hank’s eyes gleamed. “Person of Foreign Magics, our Master sends his greetings. The [Dark Lord] will negotiate with you in exchange for your companions’ lives. You may thank his grace.”

“Screw that. I’ll find them by myself.” James punched the portly [Priest] in the gullet. Reconsidering, James pulled out a knife from his belt and slammed it into the [Dark Priest]’s thigh.

Cackling despite the pain, Brother Hank howled with an insane smile, “You’ll be dead before long, Mr. James! You face the Immortals, the [Wrath]s of Legend. Mortals tremble, for they walk the world once more!”

Slapping the [Dark Priest] out of his mad reverie, James impatiently asked, “How do I get to them? If you tell me, I won’t kill you.”

Brother Hank giggled. “Runt, Master has already seen your ungrateful refusal. Your women are no doubt dead. No matter what you do to me, I shall return as I have already been blessed by the [Dark Lord]!”

James sighed. “What do you think your master will do to you when he finds out you failed?”

Brother Hank paused, finally considering something that James said. With a bit less certainty, he replied, “Fool… The Immortal ones shall see to your end! I was just an unnecessary facilitator to summon them. My mission is done!”

With a sigh, James determined he wouldn’t get any useful information out of this fanatic. As disgusting as he found the [Dark Priest]’s actions, James felt a bit of pity for the man. Brother Hank was the typical absurdly loyal minion who would find himself quickly discarded once his master found a better replacement.

Still, the man would give James some much-needed leverage over the Church to justify his barging into their sacred grounds. James glanced at the madly cackling [Dark Priest] who seemed to be waiting for his death.

James looked around for something to keep the [Dark Priest] trapped but found nothing in the dark room. Unwilling to leave a high Level [Priest] who had multi-classed into a [Dark Priest] unguarded, he pulled out a grey prism the size of his pinky nail, far smaller than the cubes he normally carried. Pinching the [Dark Priest]’s nose until the man gagged, James thrust the grey solid into the man’s mouth. The man’s eyes widened as he tried to spit it out, but before he could, his eyes started rolling, and he began spasming. A bit of drool leaked out of the man’s mouth as he babbled about candy and rainbows.

“That’s a new one. I’ve never seen anyone get that high before.” Before, he had only ever exposed himself to some powder accidentally during its synthesis of the alcohol crystals. Now though, James resolved to never personally test the concentrated form of his frozen alcohol.

Stepping over the man, James tried to seek out a secret passage to the girls while warily keeping an eye out for any more intruders or those Immortal beings Brother Hank had mentioned. After all, while fanatics lied, their convictions usually held a kernel of truth. After a few minutes, he stood atop the altar, scanning the various sides of the chamber but still couldn’t find anything.

Worry crept onto his brows as he pulled out the tracking device once more. If Diana and Kira were truly about to be killed, he figured that it couldn’t get any worse if he tried activating the Enchantment matrix one more time…

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