20. Chapter 20
Three days later. A large-scale operation against the Ferrius army, which was losing more and more morale, was about to begin.
This mine was built like a fort, a kind of defense-in-depth facility. Meanwhile, the Highserk Empire was trying to capture the southern wall, one of the enemy’s tiger dens.
Sure, that was something normal in a war. So it wasn’t the problem. What troubled Walm was, how could he end up in this situation? He just couldn’t believe it.
“Shit, why do I have to sneak into the fort and set it on fire. I’m not an arsonist.”
It was difficult to overpower the enemy in a mine where there were only a limited number of sorties, and if they used force, it would only end disastrously. So a small group of people was ordered to attack at night, and Walm was ordered to set fire in the walls and confuse them.
“It’s a great honor to be nominated directly by Commander Liguria, you know.”
The Squad Commander’s words weren’t sarcasm or mockery, but that was the reason why he looked like a nasty person.
“Rest assured, it seems that someone who can cast wind attribute magic will be attached as the escort.”
It was hard to say that an organization functioned normally with a strategy that relied only on the expertise of one individual. Walm wanted to develop his theory, but unfortunately, a mere soldier had no right to veto.
Although a wind-attribute magic user, who could be of great help in the actual battles, would be put in as the escort, in the end only about 20 people would end up going. It was predicted that there would be well over 200 enemy soldiers inside.
After the turmoil, two company-sized soldiers, including Duwei’s squad, would break through at once, but it was predicted that enemy reinforcements would show up.
Walm didn’t feel like it at all, but neither time nor his superiors waited for him. Seen off by the squad members, he headed to the meeting point. The target was the Company Commander’s tent, which he normally didn’t approach. Walm, who had exchanged a greeting with the escort at the entrance, entered. There were about 30 soldiers gathered.
Even though it was a large tent, it felt quite cramped. For Walm, it was the first time he directly participated in a military meeting, as Squad Commander Duwei usually briefed him on the strategy and policy.
The Platoon Commander of the temporary assault platoon was dispatched from the Liguria battalion. Walm could see familiar faces here and there.
“It seems, you’re all here.”
It was the Company Commander belonging to the Liguria battalion who spoke up.
“The operation is simple. After the wind magic users break through the wall, we will occupy a part of the wall. The target is a corner of the fortified tower on the right.”
The Company Commander traced the specific location on the map. Walm glanced down. The brand-new map contained details about the mine’s defenses. It was a thing that had been drawn by POWs (Prisoner of War) or scouts.
“After controlling the ramparts near the fortified tower, burn the guards of the fortified tower with Walm’s 《Demon Fire》. Make an entrance around it. Until then, protect the tower at all costs. Walm will use 《Demon Fire》 to block the entrance. The fire will stop the enemies and make them emerge from the darkness. Don’t burn your allies.”
A dry laugh echoed in the last words of the Company Commander. Walm wanted to laugh too, but if he laughed, he would surely have a sword at his neck. So, he closed his mouth.
“If you are noticed before the invasion, retreat immediately. We will support the retreat. That’s all. I pray for your great luck in the battle.”
There were a few more exchanges of words after that, but the first military meeting was over in less than 10 minutes.
Walm, who had wrapped a cloth around his armor to prevent sudden noise, crawled on the ground and approached the gate.
Clothes and armor were soiled with earth and plant juices. The earth stuck to his face, but since it would get dirty before Walm reached the traget, he left it alone.
The light that illuminated the distant ramparts slowly approached the vision. There were various lights such as magic stones, luminous moss, and the light reflected on the black water, but it was a sufficient source of light to see what was approaching.
The distance was more than 100 meters, but there was a risk that some people might have good sensory abilities and night vision.
Walm was terribly nervous. Even the enemy soldier’s shadow was caught by his eyes, albeit faintly. It looked like some were yawning.
It seemed that the harassment attack had been carried out for an hour before the attack and the concentration and attention of the guards had been disturbed. If not, Walm and the others might have been noticed by now.
Walm slowly wiped the dirt from his face with his hands and put on the men-yoroi. The mask trembled as if it was looking forward. It seemed to be looking forward to the upcoming battle.
“Be a good child. It’ll start soon.”
Frighteningly, in addition to the fact of having its own will, it seemed to be quite intelligent. It stopped the vibration in response to Walm’s persuasion.
Walm minimized breathing and kept his body on the ground as much as possible.
A predetermined signal was given. Walm threw away the previous disguise and immediately accelerated towards the wall while using wind magic.
” <Burst> “
The soldiers who noticed the acceleration of the wind all moved toward the wall at once. One soldier, noticing the noise, looked through the wall. Walm was already standing there in front of him. His eyes opened wide and his throat moved as if he wanted to scream, but Walm’s longsword cut off his neck faster.
The soldier next to him tried to scream in a panic, but he was forcibly silenced by the war hammer of the other Highserk soldier.
The surprise attack worked much better than expected. Walm charged into the fortified tower and quietly presented the death of a soldier. Immediately after the entrance was a waiting room where six soldiers were resting.
Since they had sneaked up to here, no one needed to play detective. The words announcing the night attack were soon screamed by the enemies.
The room was transformed into a hellish furnace by the 《Demon Fire》activated by Walm. The soldiers, who were wrapped in the fire in a small room, tried to extinguish it while writhing in pain, but the omnipresent flames didn’t allow them to do so.
While avoiding the fire, the Highserk soldiers stabbed the enemy soldiers rolling around. Those on the roof noticed the commotion a step too late.
Walm ran up the stairs and started a fire on the roof of the fortified tower. The fire, which had lost its place, was forced out by the wind and gushed from the gap between the battlements and the roof.
A soldier wrapped in fire fell to the ground to escape the fire. The burning ramparts were enough to inform the area about the battle.
“It’s the enemy attack!!! Get up, and get to your position!!!”
“The third fortified tower is on fire. What’s that blue flame?”
“Why is the stone fortified tower on fire!? Is it the black water from Liberitoa?”
The soldiers came out of the building inside the fort, like bees from a hive, making a fuss here and there. When Walm saw this, he marveled at how full the place was with soldiers.
“Walm, they’re coming from below”
Shouted one of the soldiers. He was the Platoon Commander of this special platoon, which was a temporary unit. On the roof of the fortified tower, he shot arrows and fired magic to eliminate the enemy. Walm stopped the skill so as not to involve allies, and slid down the stairs.
Walm passed his ally, who carried a bow and ran to the roof.
“We’re in the position. Do it.”
The Platoon Commander’s signal sounded. The difficult points were settled. All they had to do was to keep it up. Inside the fortified tower, Walm used《Demon Fire》 in the room with the two doors leading to the ramparts and the stairs down.
“Go back, go back nooowwww”
The Ferrius soldiers who tried to rush down all retreated. The pitiful one was a soldier who was too late to escape. The soldier screamed for a few seconds, but his lungs were burned by the lack of oxygen and the fire and he died.
Walm continued to activate 《Demon Fire》. It was only a few tens of seconds, but it was a deadly time for the defenders. Oversized signal smoke and bonfires informed the friendly forces of the operation’s success.
The echoes of the company’s voices, which had waited in the dark night, could be heard. Normally, Walm couldn’t understand all the noise because he usually acted in the group, but now that he was on the enemy side, he understood.
The voice and the murderous intentions behind it surpassed any enemy he faced here. It was a relief that the owner of the voice was on his side. The problem was whether they would accidentally attack Walm.
“They won’t attack us by mistake, right?”
Walm called the soldiers on the roof, but the answer he received was unreliable.
“Regain the fortified tower before the enemy’s main force arrives!!”
Bellow, the commander of the enemy was furious, but he sounded eager to regain control.
As for Walm, he wanted the commander and the other enemies to run around below without minding him.
More than 30 seconds had passed and it had become difficult to maintain the skill. Walm stopped trying to activate the ability. In addition to the residual heat, the embers were still burning.
Walm, who was breathing heavily, perceived an incredible sound. It was several nimble sounds running up the stairs.
“Enemy soldiers are coming!!”
“Are you kidding me!?”
How happy Walm would be if it was really just a joke. But the reality was that the owners of the footsteps approaching him finally showed themselves.
Three people. Walm realized that the three had some skills and magic. Probably one was good at enhancing physical abilities with mana, another could use fire magic, and the last could use water magic.
Walm didn’t want to admit it, but maybe the one who could use water magic protected the other two with water while putting out the fire. And perhaps they were able to run up so fast because Walm put time above the power of his skill.
“Please support me!!”
“In that fire? Don’t be crazy. I’m about to fall over because my feet are starting to roast, you know.”
There were no friendly soldiers near Walm. They didn’t want to get in the fire after all.
What is the escort for?
Walm wanted to complain, but it wasn’t the right time. The enemy soldiers were already trying to break into the room. He struck the leading soldier with his halberd.
It was a blow accompanied by《Strike》, but it was easily intercepted by a two-handed sword.
Walm felt that he had become stronger than before, but the enemies weren’t to be trifled with. The three-on-one fight was like being a slave digging in a minefield where even a single mistake in movement was unacceptable.
Once again Walm activated 《Demon Fire》.
The soldier who was good at strengthening his body received Walm’s 《Strike》, but didn’t dare to receive a direct hit of his《Demon Fire》. The remaining two didn’t try to catch the 《Strike》, but they didn’t seem to mind catching the 《Demon Fire》.
As Walm parried the two-handed sword, a longsword and water magic flooded from the side. He parried the longsword with the handguard and intercepted the water magic with 《Demon Fire》, so a lot of mana was used up at that moment.
The front was handled by a soldier who was good at strengthening his body, and magic users with fire and water attributes supported him.
If each of them had good sword skills, Walm would have already exposed his skeleton. Luckily, the magic users were people who specialized in medium and long-range combat, so they usually weren’t that good at close combat.
The pause was less than 4 seconds. It was clear that Walm would be killed if he fought normally, because his mana was almost at the end.
Walm targeted the magic user with the same attribute and shot 《Demon Fire》. Although he had hardened himself with a round shield to ward off the fierce flame, Walm continued to increase the firepower.
Walm thought his attack would fail, but in the face of the burning firepower of 《Demon Fire》, which could even burn the stone floor and ceiling, the fire resistance of the magic user was finally broken, and the fire started to swallow the magic user’s body.
A soldier shouted the name of the comrade who was roasted and went to hit Walm to stop the 《Demon Fire》. This slightly disrupted the enemy’s cooperation.
A magic user with water attribute, who used water magic and protected his allies from blue flames, tried to cover the burning soldier with water. He was a person with a good heart, but he wasn’t a good soldier. In fact, what he did only harmed his comrade
The soldier who’d strengthened his body was closest to the fire, and it seemed that his fingers had reached their limit. Unlike the arm he swung down forcefully, the two-handed sword flew in the wrong direction.
The soldier tried to pick up the two-handed sword again, but the tip of Walm’s halberd caught his heart faster.
Only one person remained.
At the moment Walm was about to turn to the last one, the soldier who’d been pierced through the heart embraced Walm while holding the halberd.
The soldier cried out and spat black blood from his mouth.
The last one was a soldier with water attributes. The movement he made wasn’t a supporting movement, which he had dedicated himself to before, but a movement to kill Walm.
“Bastard, get away from me!”
Walm spat out vile words and elbowed the dead soldier in the face with his hand. Still, the restraint was only slightly loosened.
The water magic user who had screamed came inexorably toward Walm.
The attack was caught by the hand guard, but Walm couldn’t stop the momentum of the sword that was swung from above, while he was restrained. Thus, the sword plunged deep into his shoulder.
“It hurts, damn it!!”
The physically strengthened soldier, seeing the blow, fell to the ground in satisfaction.
“Die, die, dieeeEEE!!”
The water magic user tried to stab again with the sword, but Walm hugged him. As expected, the sword couldn’t be handled satisfactorily because they were in close contact with each other.
The sword hit Walm’s hand protector and parts of his body, but avoided the vital spots. They rolled on the ground many times as they fought dirty.
The bleeding on the shoulders was so severe that Walm’s strength was somewhat reduced. The water magic user leaned forward and used his weight to attack Walm.
The air in Walm’s lungs was forced out, but he managed to grab the magic user’s neck with his arms. It was a choking technique also called a stranglehold or sleeper hold.
“Guuhhh!? Ughhh gggrhh”
Walm crossed his legs around the waist of the man, who kept hitting his abdomen, trying to escape.
After tens of seconds or minutes, finally, Walm managed to twist his neck. Even the soldier, who had his heart pierced, suppressed Walm with extraordinary strength. It wasn’t strange that the water magic user didn’t die yet, after all, some people were living a healthy life even if they had broken necks.
Fortunately, Walm’s worries were unnecessary, for the water magic user was completely dead.
“Huh, huff, shit”
Walm adjusted his breathing and rolled the corpse to the ground. This time, he had almost died. He had no mana or physical strength and was forced to move while he bled, making him terribly dizzy. The whole body was soiled with his own blood and the blood of the enemies.
Warriors and soldiers who had plenty of mana could put a film-like layer of mana over their bodies, a kind of mana barrier, and many of them were berserkers who fought while suppressing bleeding and exposing internal organs, but Walm, who had no mana left, could not.
Suddenly, Walm sensed a sign behind him, so he looked back. He saw that the man was holding up a longsword.
The magic user with the same attribute that Walm had burned was still alive. Although the whole body was burned, only the murderous intent had not yet faded.
Walm couldn’t even move his arm already. All he could do was grit his teeth and prepare himself for the pain to come.
Sensing the man approaching, Walm forced his body to move. He turned his body and tried to get out of the dangerous situation.
At that moment, a voice could be heard.
“Are you still alive?”
The owner of the voice was the Platoon Commander Walm interacted with on the stairs. At the moment Walm heard that, an arrow was lodged deep in the back of the enemy magic user’s head.
“Yeah… I’m saved. Please, help me a little, sooner… I’m about to forcefully expose my skeleton, you know.”
Walm joked, but the response he got wasn’t what he expected.
“Human beings aren’t that crazy enough to burst into such fiery flame.”
The Platoon Commander shifted back and forth between the dead enemy soldiers and Walm
Walm would like to raise his voice, but the bleeding was so severe that he simply had no strength left.
“… But well, as expected you’re about to die huh? I’ll lend you my shoulders. Get some medical treatment upstairs. We’ll do something for the remaining few minutes.”
As the soldiers who had been evacuated to the roof of the fortified tower descended one by one, the defense of the entrance was solidified.
Outside the wall, a friendly army could be seen and soon, they would jump into the ramparts.
The fire magic user burned by Walm was lying right next to him on the floor. Unlike other soldiers who became human torches, the first soldier had been burned outside and inside.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Please don’t be so harsh with your roommate.”
Such a bad joke was made by the soldier who was treating Walm.
Walm couldn’t complain. After all, he was the one who burned the man to death.
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