Chapter 17

(??? P.O.V.) 

“We failed again…..”

A woman sighed while leaning on a wall in a dark alley not too far from the inn that was now surrounded by guards and other people woken by the attack earlier.

“I have never been so humiliated in my life… “

This woman had never tasted failure, but ever since taking on this mission, she had experienced one after the other. There were too many unknowns and unexpected circumstances. The target possessed strange powers and had somehow gained Demihuman allies despite being a Human.

“Then there is the silhouette I saw in the sky earlier. Was that just an illusion?”

She wasn’t entirely sure that what she saw was real. The Dragonkin had long been extinct going all the way back to the ancient times. If they had still existed, there was no way they would have kept quiet for this long. However, with what she saw and also the abnormal circumstance of her mission, she couldn’t just ignore it as an illusion.

“I will return for now..”

Making her way back to the base they had set up in the town didn’t take long. It was easy to slip away into the dark of the town without much effort, especially with the attention given to the inn. She soon arrived at a somewhat dilapidated building nestled in a corner of the town. The cellar of this building was their current base of operations. It was mostly empty now since they had lost almost all of their subordinates.

She knocked on the door using the knock they had agreed on as their code and was greeted by one of the few remaining subordinates who led her down into the cellar where her partner would be waiting.

By the look on his face, she could tell he already knew the results of the mission. He was clearly restraining his anger and asked, “what happened?”

“I don’t know… it was going well and our operatives were infiltrating the target’s room when there was a sudden explosion that killed our assassins.”

Her partner closed his eyes and took a deep breath  before opening them again and said, “do we know who caused the explosion? Was it the target?”

“….” The woman wanted to say something but she was hesitant and her partner noticed her hesitation.

“What is it?” He was growing impatient and urged her on.

She steeled her nerves and said, “I saw something.. But I don’t know if what I saw was real or not.. While I was observing the mission from a distance, I felt a sudden chill down my back and when I looked up in the sky I noticed a strange silhouette pass over the moon. It was more of a shadow really, but it had the shape of a dragon. The explosion happened soon after that”

The reason why she had been so hesitant was because she couldn’t be certain that what she saw was real and it sounded somewhat absurd. However, if in fact it was true, the reality was horrifying. Dragonkin were responsible for the destruction of the Old Empire according to historical records that remained. A fully grown Dragonkin was a fearsome and terrible foe of Humanity.

Her partner’s initial reaction was a look of ridicule, but it sooned turned into a thoughtful expression.

“I want to say that it’s impossible, but this whole mission has seemed strange from the start. Could they be connected somehow? But the target is a Human….. He has connections to Demihumans, though, so it could be…” Her partner started rambling while deep in thought, uncertainty apparent in his actions.

After ruminating for a bit, her partner spoke to her once more, “We need to be certain before we report this to headquarters, let’s observe the situation. As for the target, we don’t have enough manpower to complete our mission on our own, but maybe we can use the current circumstances to our advantage. With the army of monsters approaching, let’s look for an opportunity to cause some trouble for our target. Who knows, maybe he will even be killed in the fighting.”

Her partner smiled sinisterly and slammed a dagger down onto the table in front of him.

“And how exactly will we accomplish this?” She said with some doubt considering they had already failed multiple times.

“I will take care of it, don’t worry.”

The monsters appeared mid-afternoon from the direction of the forest and spread out all along the western wall. There were at least two thousand of them, more than I had seen since coming to this world and they were all gathered in one place.

There were snarling Kobolds which were in truth, not much different from lizardmen, only smaller. They were less scaly than lizardmen, but had a similar appearance. The Kobolds made up the bulk of the force and were comparable to grunts. Their weapon of choice were spears and they wore coarse leather armor which was the most basic of equipment. The Kobolds were generally weak and were nothing more than cannon fodder.

The next largest group were barechested lizardmen with scimitar-like weapons who were larger than the Kobolds by at least a foot and a half. They had rippling muscles and wicked looking teeth which made their snouts look similar to an alligator’s. Even these were just middling monsters and were only an even match for the Human soldiers.

It was the larger and heavily armored lizardmen that would pose the greatest danger to the Human forces in close quarter combat. These lizardmen wore heavy armor and carried both a heavy spear and shield. Human light infantry wouldn’t even be able pierce their armor, nevermind hurt them. They would need to be dealt with by capable adventurers.

In addition to the heavily armored lizardmen were the lizardmen shamans. These lizardmen were the magic casters of the lizardmen type of monsters and could cast a variety of shamanistic spells. They weren’t particularly strong but their magic was dangerous. The lizardmen shamans made up the smallest group and only numbered two dozen at most. That was their artillery and their magic would be used to take the walls down since they possessed no other means of destroying the walls. Their only other means of attacking the city would be by scaling the walls but the walls would be heavily protected by the defenders.

Normally, this kind of army wasn’t much of a threat to the Town of Enrain, even with the large number of monsters. Enrain had a garrison of several hundred light infantry which consisted of mainly spearmen and archers. There were no heavy infantry within the town, but adventurers were required to partake in the defense and could be considered as heavy infantry and magic support. The town had few military mages, but there were a good number of adventurers who could serve as the bulk of the magic casters in the defense as well.

With this many soldiers defending, it wasn’t difficult to defend the town, especially since the monsters lacked understanding of advanced tactics. They only attacked the western wall which meant all defenders were sent to defend the western wall with only a few lookouts on other portions of the wall as a precautionary measure.

Magic casters were divided into two groups, one of which was assigned to create a barrier protecting the western wall. The other group of mages bombarded the monsters who were attempting to scale the walls. Defenders along the walls threw javelins or fired arrows upon the monster’s horde and were doing a good job keeping the enemy off the walls. This plan was working exceptionally well while the barrier held.

However, under mysterious circumstances, some of the mages were taken out causing the collapse of the barrier on a small portion of the wall. The lizardmen shamen were quick to notice this and took advantage of the situation, blowing a large hole in the defense with fireballs. The heavily armored lizardmen were then ordered to concentrate on the breach and because of their heavy armor, direct magic attacks were mostly ineffective against them.

They easily shrugged off all ranged attacks and marched their way into the breach. All adventurers were ordered to defend the position and keep the heavily armored infantry from entering the city at all costs. All of the light infantry, archers and magic casters were to remain on the wall and target the lightly armored monsters as well as the shamans. The battle had quickly changed from one that was manageable to complete chaos as the adventurers struggled to hold back the heavily armored lizardmen in their shield wall formation.

Damn, even my ‘Void Flames’ aren’t effective against their armor, but at least I can still use them as a shield on my arm. They deflect the metal well, but they just can’t cause direct damage to the lizardmen when I use them as a ranged attack. I frustratedly thought to myself while attempting to hold back the heavy infantry of the lizardmen army.

I had attempted to use my ‘Void Flames’ as a ranged attack and it had been deflected by the enemy’s shields. Even though my ‘Void Flames’ were ineffective as a ranged attack, I realized it worked quite well when enhancing my body or my sword. I had even left a few dents in their armor and slayed a couple of the heavily armored lizardmen, but other adventurers were having more difficulty getting past the armor.  

All of the adventurers who had been drafted as part of the defense were fighting back the monsters at the breach, but the current situation was a stalemate. We were mostly well rested and could go on for a while due to the fact that we had been held back in reserve for the early parts of the fighting.

Once the monsters arrived they immediately began their siege, constantly probing the defense, but it wasn’t until nightfall when the walls had finally been breached by the enemy shaman. I wasn’t certain how it had happened, but somehow some of the mages had been taken out and in a short span, the battle had completely turned chaotic. We were at least successfully holding the line. Even with the hole in the wall, the town wouldn’t fall that easily.

After holding the line for a time, I fell back once the relief forces came forward to fight with the lizardmen. Reia was fighting by myself and the two of us retreated to the rear of the adventurer’s formation where Orban was directing the defense.

“Orban, I need to talk to you for a minute.” I called out to Orban as soon as I reached the rear.

“Fayde! Glad to see you’re still alive! Hahahaha.” As he greeted me, I felt slightly annoyed, but this was the way he always spoke.

“Listen, magic isn’t working on their heavy armor. I never realized that metal was so effective of a deterrent against magical attacks, it’s crazy. Those heavily armored lizardmen are gaining ground.” I was growing increasingly frustrated at our lack of progress, but I was now much more aware of the advantage of heavy armor in battles where magic was possible.

Even in Earth’s history, such heavily armored foes were quite a nightmare against lightly armored soldiers. Strong piercing weapons would be required to do any real damage to them, of course there were other ways. What I couldn’t understand was why magic was ineffective. Whenever my magic came into contact with the Iron armor, there was a strange feeling as if the two were repulsing each other. It was almost as if the Iron had similar properties to a magic barrier. Could there be some magical properties in the Iron? I’ll have to look into this in the future, it’s just too strange.

Orban sighed loudly and said, “Indeed, this is why magic is underrated amongst the kingdoms. It is devastating against most soldiers, but it is very ineffective against heavily armored ones. If they have mirror shields, it is even worse! Magic can even be reflected!”

I agreed with him in that direct magic attacks were mostly ineffective against heavy metal armor, but considering that magic had many other uses, the people of the kingdoms lacked creativity. Did it never occur to them to use different types of magic? For example, magic that affected the mind, like illusions or some form of confusion based magic.

When I considered how little magic research was done in the kingdoms and also how few magic casters there were, perhaps they just didn’t have any magic casters proficient in these types of spells. For Humans, learning magic was a difficult and long process that also came with considerable costs. It wasn’t like the kingdoms provided public education for those interested in learning. Any Humans who wished to learn magic had to find a mentor who would be willing to take them in. This would naturally come at a great cost to the student, although there were those few who would occasionally take in and raise a student of their own choosing.

Magic in the kingdoms was truly in a miserable state and since there was so little opportunity to learn magic, as well as the exorbitant costs involved, it was understandable how many mages would focus on elemental type magic rather than other types. Elemental magic offered the quickest and most clear benefits to a budding adventurer, direct damage spells. Other types were useful, but were much more specialized and not as diverse. If the Kingdoms had developed a strong foundation to teach magic, it would be much easier to raise a more diverse collection of mages. As it was now, it was hit or miss.

“Orban, I have an idea. If direct magic damage won’t work, we can certainly use more conventional means. The lizardmen move slowly and are weak to fire, let’s try setting a fire to at least slow them down at the breach. That should relieve some pressure off of the adventurers for a short period of time. In the meanwhile, I will have some friends of mine create a diversion and have them head straight for their leader.”

Orban looked at me suspiciously and said, “Hmm, the plan sounds good, but who exactly are these friends of yours and can they really take out the lizard commander?”

“Don’t worry, they can do it. Just try to keep back the lizardmen and get that fire started. Hold them back as long as possible. Once their commander and shamans are out of the picture, it should be easy to finish off the rest, we can launch an all out counteroffensive. Can you make it happen?”

Orban rubbed his chin with his right hand while he considered my words. While he wasn’t the commander of the town’s guards, as the Assistant Guild Master in charge of the town, he had some say in the defense.

Orban banged his right fist on the palm of his left hand and said,  “Alright, if you can really make what you say happen, then leave the rest to me!”

I nodded and then ran, Reia following close behind me. While I was speaking with Orban, Reia had kept silent. She most likely knew exactly what I had in mind and followed me without saying a word. I even thought I saw a look of respect in her eyes for a moment.

Reia and I ran as fast as we could through the town towards the Inn we had been staying in. I had told Nes and Allein to remain in the inn out of sight, but now that it was dark and visibility was low, they could fly out of the city. As black dragons, their skin in dragon form was the color of midnight and it was almost impossible to see them flying in the sky at night. Also, with a curfew imposed upon the citizens of the town and with most of the city’s guards posted on the western wall, they could fly out of the city in a different direction which would only help their escape.

It didn’t take long before we arrived at the Inn. The dirt roads were deserted as all the citizens were confined within their homes. There were quite a few people holed up in the inn who were startled when Reia and I threw the doors of the inn open. We didn’t bother with them despite their murmuring and made our way up to the second floor where our room was located.

Nes and Allein were still exactly where I told them to wait for us and I quickly explained to them what I wanted them to do.

“I want you two to surprise attack from the rear of the army of monsters to confuse them. Take out their commander, and as many of the shamans as you can. The lizardmen seem to have some sort of limited night vision but I doubt they will be expecting attackers arriving from above. Can you do it?” I made my case to the sibling Dragonkin with urgency clear in my voice.

Nes grew angry and shouted at me, “you want to put my sister in danger? I should kill you where you stand!”

I understood his anger but I felt he was over exaggerating the danger. They should easily be able to accomplish this and escape given that they could fly.

Allein put her hand on her brother’s shoulder to calm him down and turned to me, “we can do it. Ignore my brother, he can be somewhat overprotective but he means well.

Nes looked as if he was going to say something but his sister silenced him with a look. He shot me a glare filled with murderous intent but soon calmed down.

“I’m sorry to ask this of you Allein, I understand why your brother is angry, but with this we can save a lot of people’s lives.” I really did feel bad asking this of her and if I wasn’t fully confident in their ability, I never would have asked.

Surprisingly Allein gave me a playful smile and replied, “I was getting restless anyway, this should be fun.”

They quickly left through the window, jumping down to the floor below and disappeared into the night. Reia and I left the room and returned to the battle.

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