Well, I did say whatever she decided, didn’t I?
Already regretting my words from before, I was currently moving around the slums verifying the locations of the intoxicated residents I encountered previously. In parallel, I was mentally drawing up an escape path through the district that would lead me back to the warehouse. Grasping the vial of GateDown in my hand, I stepped out and faced the ‘drug zombies.’
“LOOK WHAT I HAVE HERE! IT’S GATEDOWN!”
The intoxicated residents stopped what they were doing and turned their heads towards me. There was a moment of silence before they all got up and ran towards me.
Turning around, I dashed full speed down the streets as doors opened up and people flooded into the street, all chasing after the vial I had in my hand.
My heart was pounding not only from the exercise, but from the dread of stampeding people behind me. The horde of drug-possessed people had grown to be an impressive number. As I got close to the warehouse, I checked my clothes once again. They were random clothes that we had borrowed from the old lady so that I would look the part of a resident, but I had also purposely dirtied them for what I had in mind next.
With the guards now in my sight, I started acting like I too had been under the influence of GateDown. Making my run erratic and adding in a bit of disoriented bobbling, I felt like an idiot doing this.
“THE GATE IS DOOOWN!!! THE GATE IS DOOOWN!!!”
The guards, of course, readied their weapons at the presence of a lone crazy man stumbling towards them. But the next moment, the growing rumble of a horde of townspeople sounded behind me as the fastest ones rounded the corner, having caught up to me. The guards stepped back in surprise at this sight. Seeing this opportunity, I acted like I had tripped and fell right in front of them. I rolled forward awkwardly as I went right past them. My hand slipped past the distracted guard’s view and aimed for the unprotected back of his kneecap. The guard went stiff for a moment as I felt it connect. He wouldn’t be able to walk properly now. Quickly moving over, I hit a similar spot on the other guard before running quickly away to hide.
The two guards tried to move away but found that their foot had become numb. Having one foot anchored to the spot, the guards were barely able to drag themselves a few feet before the approaching horde crashed into them, trampling them before continuing forward.
The workers inside looked questionably at each other as they heard the growing rumbling. As they stopped for a moment to turn towards the noise, the front doors shattered, throwing bits of wood everywhere as a crowd of crazed people flooded in. The workers barely had time to escape before the horde crashed into them and batted them aside. Drawn by the scent of GateDown in the proximity, members of the horde reached into bins to grab a handful of brown powder to sprinkle into their mouths.
In the meantime, I snuck in after checking that no other crazed people were trailing behind. Moving in tandem with the dirty, delirious crowd, I reached out periodically to poke someone in the neck. Bodies stumbled to the floor as they were knocked unconscious one-by-one.
Yes, the entire plan had been to disguise myself as one of the residents and to draw a crowd of them charging into the warehouse. While the guards and workers were distracted, Eryn and I would start taking them out. Blending in with the residents, I was able to discreetly perform crowd control. Sometimes, taking out a worker. Sometimes, hitting the brakes on a drugged resident that had gotten too out of control. At this moment, Eryn was stationed outside, anticipating our real targets making an escape.
Slowly, both the horde and the workers were being thinned out. A few guards that had been near the entrance had also been taken out, but I had noticed a few in the back had slipped away from the chaos. I felt a bit sorry for the residents that were being used in this way, but without any other options and no backup, this seemed like our best option. The old lady understood and promised to smooth things out with them after the bad guys had been taken care of. I had promised to knock out the residents as quickly as I could so that they wouldn’t get hurt badly in the chaos. We could heal them afterwards.
However, the plan had worked better than expected as a majority of the workers and even some cloaked guards had taken a dirt nap without my direct involvement. I had no issue confining the chaos within the building. The only problem was that the residents had literally torn up the warehouse in their frenzy. Barrels of nuts rolled to the ground, tripping those stepping on them. Bins had been overturned and tossed aside. The powder flew into the air and created a brown dusty haze within the building. The finished product had been broken into as people started downing vials of GateDown.
I had to stop them from consuming more of the drug. I undid the scarf around my neck and tied it around my face to keep from breathing the dust in. Moving quickly to the boxes of finished drug, I reached out to poke anyone who tried to take the vials. It was starting to get hard to see as my eyes were tearing up from all the dust floating about.
Suddenly, I saw a sword approach me from the corner of my eye. Leaping back from the sword swing, I came face-to-face with one of the remaining guards. That’s strange. I thought I had already taken care of all the ones that had stayed around. I couldn’t tell at all what he was thinking as his body was covered by the cloak and his face was covered by a mask. However, I could tell that the powder hadn’t affected him at all yet.
Checking his stats was no good either, as all I could see were question marks hovering in place of numbers. What a time for ‘Status Check’ to be blocked. Oh well, I’ve long been in the mindset that ‘stats are a lie’ anyways.
As he took out the last few stragglers that approached him, we were the last ones remaining from the chaos.
Eryn stood on the roof of an adjacent building near the back of the warehouse. She could hear an uproar in the distance, signifying the start of their plan. Looking down below, she had a bird’s eye view of the area around the warehouse, in which she could keep an eye out for escapees.
As the noise grew louder, she saw the approaching stampede of people. She felt relieved that she had not been responsible for drawing that crowd. As noise shook the building below, she saw a wagon take off with five cloaked figures.
“Time to take them out.” Eryn cast a spell before diving to the ground below. The wind spiraled up and softened her landing.
Touching the ground, she kicked off and dashed after the wagon with her dagger drawn. She had to run and cast, so using her dagger as a medium helped focus her magic and raise its accuracy.
“Gale of Wind – compress into a blade and cut the foes before me!”
A blade of wind sliced forward and collided into the back wheels of the wagon, cutting them in half. Having lost support, the rear end dropped down and started dragging on the road. The sudden impact from the drop knocked off two people, sending them rolling onto the ground. The barrels on the wagon also rolled off and scattered about.
Eryn dodged the rolling barrels and ran right up to the two and kicked each one in the stomach, sending them crashing into the adjacent buildings. Having been kicked hard enough to lodge them partially into the wooden wall, they wouldn’t be moving anytime soon.
Having lost their method of escape, the remaining three hopped off the wagon and turned to face Eryn. While one of the cloaked men was close to her in level, the other two were quite a bit below. She would only have to worry about that one guy.
Drawing her sword, she made quick work of the first two as her sword smashed theirs in half, before she sent them flying with a blow to the chest. She could feel their armor cave in from the impact. They would be lucky if their ribs had not been shattered.
“That’s for the townspeople.” Eryn turned her sword to the remaining guard.
Wordlessly, the guard charged forward and attacked. As Eryn blocked each of his blows, she searched for openings. Finding one here and there, she tried to counter but only managed to cut air. She started to chant a fire spell, but the guard quickly advanced to cut her off. Blocking his swing interrupted her focus.
Casting magic concurrently while fighting was not her forte. It was times like this when Claude would cover her while she could focus on casting. In this case, she would have to rely on her physical prowess.
She attacked once again, but each blow was matched by another, neither one yielding to the other. Just then, the guard took up a position. Not knowing what to expect, Eryn solidified her guard.
With a blur, the guard shot forward. Eryn couldn’t believe her eyes as his approach caused overlapping afterimages that messed with her sight. A little slow to block, Eryn’s sword barely managed to clip his. The deflected sword hit her shoulder leaving a cut. At least, she had managed to avoid the lethal blow that had been aimed for her neck.
Backing up quickly, she started to mouth a chant. Seeing this, the guard once again closed in to stop her. As his sword approached, Eryn looked up fearlessly.
A magic circle activated on the ground below the guard, and a fire pillar shot up, igniting the guard with its flame. The guard, having experienced the full brunt of this attack, quickly fell to fire magic as it burned his skin and melted his armor. While it wouldn’t kill him just yet, the pain of heated metal and seared skin was an appropriate punishment for harming the residents like he did.
“Whew, I’m glad I decided to cast a trap on the ground before fighting these guys. It came in handy.”
She deactivated the other magic circles that she had laid around her as insurance, all cast when the guards had first hopped off the wagon. Having drawn the last guy into an even sword fight, she made him attack her to ‘cut off’ her magic abilities. It was a simple task to lead him into the path of an awaiting trap during their sword exchanges.
With her task done here, she went back to the warehouse to catch up with Claude.
I was in a bit of a jam.
Having seen the fact that I was touching people’s pressure points, his guard was tight, and he kept me at a distance. Not to mention that he seemed completely unfazed with breathing in the air laced with GateDown. Maybe his mask had a filter in it, but I was starting to lose focus despite having a cloth over my face to block it out. The little bit that got past my scarf left a sweet and almost spicy taste in my mouth. It didn’t look like he was going to let me step out for a breath of fresh air either. I had to get away quick, or I would be done for.
He made several swings with his sword as he approached and started backing me into a corner. In this situation, I couldn’t pull out my knife to parry the blows. With the air completely caked with dust, a spark from our weapons clashing could create a dust explosion. Either he didn’t know or didn’t care, as the guard continued to swing at me with his sword.
After I found myself with nowhere to run, the guy just stood there, blocking my way with his sword but no longer continuing the assault. What was his game? Was he waiting for me to succumb to the drug’s effects? Either way, I couldn’t think of a way out.
“HIYAAAA!” A girlish scream cried out.
Eryn had arrived. She must’ve taken out the guys that escaped. As she brought her sword up to attack, the guard turned around and faced her.
“Eryn! Don’t use your sword! It’ll cause an explosion!” I yelled to her.
Having hesitated at my statement, the guard took advantage of that moment to punch her in the stomach. Eryn gasped for air as she recoiled from the attack. Grabbing her by the arm next, he tossed her into a pile of crates, smashing its contents and ejecting a large puff of brown dust into the air.
The guard reached into his cloak and pulled out a single red stone. The stone started to glow before he tossed it to the ground.
“Mission complete,” He said softly just before escaping the building.
At that moment, I realized what he was trying to do. I only had time to dive for cover before the stone erupted into flames, igniting the dust in the air. A flash of heat seared past me, followed by a loud boom that rocked my ears.
My eyes were blurry, and I could smell smoke around me. The blast was not as bad as it could’ve been as the building was still intact. For some reason, the guard had tossed the stone in a place where there were no people, so it looked like the worst of the blast had missed those unconscious on the ground. But I had no time to worry about that now. I needed to check on Eryn.
Hobbling over to the crates where she was thrown, I could see that she had some light burns but was otherwise breathing. However, her breathing was getting more erratic, and she was twitching in a strange manner. I pulled out a potion from my item box and poured it on her. Her burns and physical damage started fading away, but her current state of mind had been unaffected. She was starting to thrash around in fear. Her cries were unintelligible as she tried to suddenly fight me off her.
Oh crap, she must’ve inhaled too much of the GateDown. Her body was literally covered in the powder after she had been tossed here. Her erratic breathing also caused her to suck in more from the surrounding air. I had to do something to settle her down. I poked a spot on the back of her head which caused her to relax before hitting another point on her neck to knock her out. I’d have to get her treatment later.
Looking around the room, I could see that the other people lying here would need treatment too. Though the building was intact, the shockwave had tossed the unconscious bodies around and debris had fallen around them. They would also need healing aid too. Being the only one awake and with limited supplies, what should I do?
Suddenly, I heard a bunch of approaching footsteps. Was it the enemy, or was it allies? I drew my knife in preparation.
“Healers! Go and treat the wounded! Knights! Make sure that there aren’t people trying to escape from the scene!”
I could barely tell from this distance, but I could make out the vague outline of a magic knight’s outfit. I relaxed my arm and let the knife drop down. I guess we were saved for now.
However, there was no way I expected what would come next.
“Found them! Magic Knight Faulkner and her familiar, you are under arrest for the crime of perpetrating the spread of GateDown!”
Surprised at this statement, I looked up and saw the face of Stark Mad, a victorious sneer plastered on his face.