Major Pulchny Golabki pondered how he had ended up in such an undesirable situation. As a person raised upon dedicated hard work, he rose to his position through his own merit. Since he was born from low-class craftsmen, he had his work cut out for him.
Still, he persevered and honed his innate ability – quick reflexes that allowed him to move as fast as a seasoned warrior, despite his lack of training. Those that tried to bully him in his younger years were met with swift blows that easily knocked out his opponents before they could react.
That was probably why some military officers had their eyes on him. A person of ability was wasted living in the poor community of the common man. They provided him with an offer.
“Use your abilities for the Empire, and your family will be fed.”
For a nation whose people suffered constant starvation, a guaranteed portion of the coveted resources was a godsend. Thus, he was given a sword and a military uniform to show off his new status. In return, he was given the task of executing enemies of the Empire as part of his training. Though he had an inherent gift, Golabki was still a low-leveled person with the stats of a commoner. His level would have to be raised for him to be of any use.
Thus, he was pitted against criminals in an arena to hone his blade. These people that broke laws punishable by death were given one opportunity – defeat Golabki and walk free. As they had committed evils anyway, Golabki didn’t spare any effort in executing them swiftly.
However, his caretakers were careful to select targets that were appropriately leveled to ensure Golabki could win by a comfortable margin. They carefully minimized the lives slain to gain results. After all, even criminals didn’t just wander the streets everywhere. The chance at freedom was a crafted ploy that purposefully put them at a disadvantage against Golabki, but the prisoners hardly knew that.
After spending his entire teenage years with such a duty, Golabki became strong. His face was chiseled and handsome, despite sporting a bald head. He found it easier to wash off the blood that splattered. At the age of 22, he heard news of his parents’ deaths during a coup for the throne, caught in a crossfire as the Empire tried to fight off the rebels who eventually prevailed. To his surprise, not even such a tragedy shook him. Death had become second nature, misfortune a fact of life.
Even when the Empire’s control changed hands, that mattered little to him. He still had his duty, even if the criminals now were former officers that refused to submit to the new ruler. As he was only a captain at the time, his rank was too low for him to bother with such turmoil at the top of the leadership chain. He was merely concerned about his own well-being and that he could still deliver justice to those that plagued society. Why did it matter that someone else ruled over these dreary lands?
However, what caught his eye was a single person, eyes closed the entire time, studying his movements on the sidelines as he claimed the lives of his opponents. The man wore a lavish military uniform, likely one of the higher-ups. However, smudges of dirt and grim clung to his sleeves, a telltale sign of hard work. He instantly had a higher opinion of the man, surprised that he was approached by him right after.
Walking over with a casual stride, he never bothered to open his eyes even in conversation. Looking to be in his late-20s, the way he carried himself felt younger, his actions nonchalant and whimsical.
“Would you mind testing a little toy that I have created?” he simply said, waving a handheld device with a long barrel toward him. A seemingly innocent smile decorated his lips like he didn’t have a care in the world. “I promise that it will be… ‘a blast’,” the man chuckled at his own joke, though it was lost on Golabki.
Since the contraption looked unfamiliar, the man pointed it toward a wall and pulled the trigger. A loud bang echoed, catching Golabki off guard. The two of them walked over to see a damaged wall, distinct cracks on the surface revealing where a small metal bead was embedded. Instantly, Golabki realized that it was a long-range weapon that was quite deadly.
“I’m sure you can figure out how to use it just from this. Try it on the next contestant. I have confidence that you won’t die, just like all your other engagements,” he said, handing the device to Golabki.
The next criminal had a similar device in his hand, and at the count of three, both people were told to fire it at each other, as if it were a duel. However, the man across from Golabki didn’t even wait until two to bring his arm up. Seeing this, Golabki immediately shifted his body just enough to get out of the gun’s trajectory before pulling his gun out several times faster. As a result, his shot had fired even before the other person raised his gun fully. With a bang, Golabki’s opponent crumpled to the ground, dead.
“Oh, what interesting data! Those smooth movements! The way you target confidently at your enemy! This ‘pistol’ is a weapon made especially for you,” the man with closed eyes exclaimed with a bubbly tone.
“How would you know? Your eyes were closed the entire time.” Golabki turned with a raised brow.
“Oh, these?” The man tapped the side of his head. “I may be blind, but that doesn’t mean I can’t see. This world of mana is quite a miraculous thing. So revealing, unlike the place I came from before.”
Apparently, the man in question had an acute sense of mana detection, able to trace its flow like the world was illuminated before him even without physical sight.
Golabki went to return the weapon, but the man crossed his arms.
“Keep it. That is the perfect tool for you. I plan to make many others for everyone, after all.” A smirk crept upon his face, an expression that gave off a sense of anticipation for the future.
Heavily interested in this man now, Golabki managed to get one answer from him before he skipped away.
“Your name? If you do not mind.”
With a slight pause, the man answered without turning around. His finger reached up to scratch his cheek.
“Lamps… Lamps Magellan. You’ll see me around. As long as there are interesting things to experiment with.”
Now, Golabki was facing off against a lone female knight, while his other men were trying to hold back the Army of Sistina, who had reached the towering wall separating the outer regions and the inner capital area.
Similar to the criminals that he had always fought, this girl was striking with the intent to kill. However, something was different about her. He gazed at her sword slicing through the air as he dodged away. In return, he fired off a few shots from his gun, seeing the bullets bounce off her body which was coated with mana.
During their exchanges, he could feel a certain uniqueness about her. A sense of desperation and conviction, but without the deception that a criminal’s actions would normally hold. Her blows were powerful and full of the intent to end the exchange quickly, yet they did not rely on a misshapen pride that people with high stats normally possessed.
Golabki hated that type of person – those who neglected the dedication to polish their skills and solely relied on the numbers. His commanding officer defending this section of the wall, General Cielbasa, was one such person. However, his rank was to be regarded and his stats were undeniable, personal feelings aside.
This girl, he could feel a sense of respect for.
Yet, the current task was to defend the wall from the invaders, and despite how much he despised the mission details, that one point didn’t change. All he had to do was to make sure that they didn’t penetrate the line.
Golabki personally had no ill will against the girl before him, but orders were absolute. With a sword in one hand and his pistol in the other, he stood his ground against the assault. He could not afford to let them reach the wall. He had to defend those inside with every fiber of his being.
After marching a short way north from Lodz, Eryn and Saki saw the wall in sight. Before them, a large group was defending the main gate into the capital region. She and her levi-board riders had the advantage in mobility, so they didn’t hesitate to charge forward, ahead of the others.
After smashing through the initial line of gunmen, their formation completely crumbled. In a panic, they started to flee, seeing that their weapons were ineffective. The Army of Sistina freely advanced forward with little resistance.
But then, a lone person stood upon the wall and bellowed into a voice amplifier, his words reaching the entire battlefield.
“Do not falter! The might of the Empire will stand with you! Believe in the weapons you hold! Believe in the might of the great Lamps Magellan! For his power, that which has blessed this land, shall be bestowed upon you all!”
Eryn sensed something strange in the air. All around her, the guns of her enemies suddenly shone with a blue light. After being engrossed in that glow, the Purnesian Army raised their guns and fired forward.
Unlike the pellets that could essentially be ignored before, the next volley of shots knocked Eryn off her feet. Fortunately, she had enough mana to weather the blows, but the other members of the Valkyrie Squad weren’t as lucky.
Bullets tore through their mana shields, injuring the entire flank, an unexpected shift against their momentum. Now, they were forced to fling long-range magic as cover while retreating. Eryn cast ‘Pit of Fire’ around a wide area, watching as those who tried to shoot her get burned. They had to retreat to escape the searing heat.
Casting magic spells was a last resort, as it was best to conserve mana in these dried-out lands. Nonetheless, they had no other choice but to burn through their reserves when faced with such resistance.
Only Eryn and Saki had the proper stats to defend against such powerful bullets, so the two of them went ahead to thin the crowd. The pair split up, with Eryn throwing around magic and Saki slamming the ground to invoke earthquakes.
Bodies burned to a crisp and swallowed in the earth as the two forced their way toward the wall. All around them, magic from their companions continued to shower from behind, while gunfire from their enemies rained from the front. However, they could endure it all – the chaos, the death, and the destruction – as the gate was getting larger in their sights.
At that point, two men in fancier clothing, high-level officers, joined in the fray.
General Cielbasa wielded a two-handed gun that fired rapidly into the crowd toward Saki, who recognized it as an automatic weapon similar to that from her world. The bullets tore through the crowd, striking even his allies that surrounded her. In an instant, her enemies collapsed to the ground.
Saki clenched her teeth, her expression twisting into a fury at the blind disregard for friendly fire. Ignoring all the others, she set her sights on the wicked man that needed to be punished.
On the other hand, Major Golabki got into position in front of Eryn and introduced himself, as if requesting for a duel, sword and pistol already drawn. Seeing that rare gesture in a chaotic battlefield, Eryn pointed her sword forward to oblige. The aura between them scared off the gunmen around them, as they got the feeling that their heads would no longer be attached if they interfered.
For the next several minutes, their swords clashed, metal scraping against each other as bright sparks flew from their exchanges. The shimmering glow of Radiant Light did not seem to bother Golabki as he continued to search for openings to fire his pistol after parrying her strikes.
Each bullet hitting her wind barrier was blasted away, but the power behind each shot drained her mana by a small amount. Even with her capabilities, it was prudent not to allow herself such openings or let the duel drag out for too long. Once her mana was depleted, Eryn would no longer be able to walk away unscathed.
However, an opportunity came suddenly when Golabki fired a shot, only to hear a hollow click. Drained of bullets, his pistol was now dead weight unless he could reload.
‘This is my chance! I have to make the most of it!’ Eryn focused her energy into her swordplay, her eyes flicking back and forth to look for a good place to counter.
Suddenly, the sight of purple lines started to come into existence. They pulsed lightly upon the surface of Golabki’s weapons. They beckoned for her to strike them.
Like a few nights before, the special eyesight that Claude possessed had somehow been bestowed onto her. She took this as a sign that he was giving her a push forward. His strength added upon hers in order to strike down the foe before her.
Squinting to get the location right, she sent her sword flying toward one of the glowing lines upon his sword. With a loud crack, Golabki’s blade snapped off and flew away. Taking advantage of his moment of shock, Eryn punched the man in the gut with a fist that swirled with a heavy wind. She had wordlessly chanted the spell right before swinging, an imitation of Lau’s drilling fist technique using Wind magic rather than mana.
Yet, it was enough to send her opponent flying, as he crashed into the wall next to the gate and smashed right through.
Now that she defeated the one standing before her, there was nothing left but to blow through the gate. The gunmen were too busy looking ahead at the rest of Sistina’s army to stop her. Eryn looked forward at the structure, a heavy door made of solid metal surrounded by crafted stone reaching up nearly fifty meters.
The height was too much even for her to leap with a Wind spell. There was no choice but to blast a hole into it, but with Saki still busy, she would have to do it herself. As she approached, guns pointed out of the windows that surrounded the gate, tens of them, firing shots at her.
Eryn chuckled as many of them didn’t even strike her properly, like they had reserved the worst marksmen for the wall’s final defense. She paid it little mind as she charged up her most destructive spell – ‘Explosion’.
Having used it last against Cornelius, she found it problematic that it hurt the user so badly. But after many months of revising the technique, aided by the mana control training she underwent, Eryn was able to direct the force in one direction.
While the spell had become more powerful as her stats increased, that would normally be insufficient to take down such a large structure. However, Eryn had learned how to compress air more efficiently and cram a higher density of it into an enclosed space, creating a thermal expansion that was much more powerful upon release.
As she placed this swirling ball of extremely hot and dense air right up to the wall, her cry of “Explosion!” was accompanied by an ear-splitting boom. The metal gate warped and buckled under the pressure, flying backwards. Large segments of the wall flew into the sky and rained down on the surroundings. The debris from the attack scattered a fair distance away, demonstrating the power of that single spell.
Eryn was not bothered by all the clumps falling on her. They bounced off the barrier and scattered around her feet. She smirked at how successful it had been.
Then, she noticed several bodies falling with a splat around the area. The explosion had blown apart not just the gate, but a fair amount of the stone wall around it. The windows that the gunners were hiding within were no longer there.
At first glance, the corpses looked a bit on the small side, but perhaps, that was just because they had been torn to pieces. On closer inspection, many of them were fully-intact… but merely half her size.
A cold chill ran down Eryn’s spine. In a panic, she called upon ‘Status Check’ around the area. The status windows of some people popped up around her, those that still clung onto life. What she saw made her drop her sword.
Those that had been shooting at her from within the wall were merely children who were given powerful weapons to defend themselves.
A wave of darkness flooded her as she stared down in shock at the results of her actions. Her haste in tearing through the enemy made her overlook the strangeness of the situation. Why had they been there? What reason did they have to be given guns?
None of that mattered now as their status windows slowly went blank one by one, until not a single one was left.
Darkness spewed from her core, mocking Eryn for her mistake. She had no way of knowing that they had been planted there on purpose. Even if she had, it didn’t change the murder that she had commited. A purple wisp was expelled from her body, like a thread that flew far away in search of someone. Moments later, Eryn felt something return, accompanied by visions that shook her.
The cityfolk from before, now turning their weapons on the soldiers of Sistina…
Cornelius and Claude fighting as they ran towards safety…
And Cornelius falling to a stab in the back and dying in Claude’s arms…
Her eyes widened in shock. ‘Could this be what is going on around Claude? Does the Electi and Master bond result in such a connection?’ She didn’t want to believe it. Her mind was playing tricks on her after her horrible mistake.
But if that were true, then… her dear friend was just killed…
Eryn shook her head as she slowly mouthed Cornelius’s name. Her knees sank to the ground as sorrow plunged into her heart.
‘Why has fate decided to hate me so?!’ Eryn’s mind screamed as her voice was racked with sobs. Her grief flared around her, like a mantle of darkness before disappearing.
But Eryn could tell where it had gone. Straight into the core of her Electi.
In the distance, a sense of dread flickered from the city she was in previously.