Author’s note: I completely forgot to post these! Well, status update, book formatting done. Edit’s on final bonus chapter mostly done. Going through consistency today + tomorrow, and book cover + publishing will probably be the day after tomorrow. Next/Previous chapter links will be updated after all posts made
Chapter 14 – Escape
Putting away his transmission plate, Regal peeks over the heads of the townsmen who are supporting the battle and looks toward the city guard manning the walls at the frontline. Alchemical Divine Arts and Bullets are being fired repetitively by the invaders and the wall defenders.
Sand and dirt explodes with every attack, causing even the stars to vanish as dark dust-clouds over the night sky like a carpet. The community wall proves its sturdiness, as each concussive blast deals damage to the outer protective plates, but the wall as a whole only vibrates slightly with the impact force dissipating out across the wall. Regal’s armored plates is working extremely well.
Regal notices several Greyhorn Guards taking out their Transmission Plates and listening closely for several seconds before going rigid and looking behind hurriedly. Their intentions are unknown, but Regal is almost certain that they were just informed of Piora’s jailbreak and are searching for Regal and his squad members.
Veronica tightly clasps Regal’s hand and pulls him close to her, unwilling to let him separate from her, as she also senses something amiss. Astore continues to fire low tier Alchemy Divine Arts to sporadically launch large boulders with traces of iron and other metals, hurling over the wall at the invading force. Every invader is high levelled, and they can easily defend against his attacks, but it does serve as a distraction to the invading forces and helps themselves blend in with the community members to avoid the searching gaze of the Greyhorn Guard.
“Veronica, Astore, Aqua, follow my lead and slowly retreat from the battle,” Regal whispers quietly so that it is only audible to his squad members next to him. “Veronica, you need to let go of my arm, I can’t walk properly.”
Veronica ignores Regal’s order and continues to tightly hold his arm in her grasp. Regal then awkwardly leads the way away from the crowd and into the dark pathways, traversing behind houses and villas alike. Veronica has no qualms about the awkward walking between the two of them, but Regal is hobbling at an awkward pace. Aqua also frowns at the scene while Astore merely tilts his head, puzzled.
Regal silently calls Hades to meet up with them. Not only does the Firestone Lizard need to escape with them, but Regal can also share his senses with it and see in the dark through a form of thermal vision, greatly helping them detect anyone tailing them and avoid patrols. Most of the guards are on the southern wall at the moment, but that doesn’t mean the Greyhorn Guard has left the community unsupervised.
It isn’t until the sounds of the battle between the two communities grows distant and nobody appears to be following them that Veronica finally relaxes her grip on Regal. Regal then uses hand signals to tell everyone to be quiet and not speak in order to avoid giving away their position. He does find it strange, however, that there has not been a single guard patrol that they had to avoid.
Dim rays of light shone from some windows into the alley, which Regal, Veronica, Aqua, Astore, and Hades quickly dodge one at a time. Halfway to the western gate, Regal’s transmission plate sends an alert as Kilde contacts him.
‘Regal, there are guards patrolling the western gate and the surrounding wall. They are paying attention to inside the wall rather than out so there is no way out from here. I suggest going to a different gate and taking a longer route,’ Kilde’s voice is quiet and calm, allowing Regal to tell that he is still near the western gate and is hiding in the shadows with Piora.
‘No, the other gates will be the same. Wait for further instructions,’ Regal replies while rapidly thinking of methods to escape from the community, realizing that the lack of patrolling guards must be due to them hastily moving, not to guard the gates and walls from the invading community, but to catch Regal and his squad who are trying to escape.
The walls are much easier to scale from the inside of the community and Regal has the items to do so, but with the guards patrolling the wall, they won’t be able to slip out unnoticed. They also can’t fight off the guards due to the large disparity between their levels and the guards having stronger skills, weapons, and armor.
Regal and his squad also don’t have the time to search the other gates, as the longer they stay in the community, the closer Lord Solace and the Greyhorn Guards will get to finding them.
‘Kilde, where are you? I will meet you at the western gate and discuss the plan,’ Regal says over the transmission plate.
‘Piora and I are behind the building fifty meters away from the gate at the 2 o’clock position,’ Kilde’s reply comes almost immediately, short and concise.
‘We will be there in ten minutes.’
Putting his transmission plate away again, Regal hurries the squad away to the west through the dark alleys of the community. Exactly ten minutes later, just as Regal had predicted, he arrived at the western gate and quickly located Kilde and Piora.
Kilde is peeking around the corner of a building, while using the Tier 1 Divine Art ‘Visual Key’ to camouflage his visual presence and avoid being detected, as he spies on the Greyhorn Guards patrolling the wall. Piora is hiding slightly away from the corner of the building, tugging the hem of her shirt nervously.
Upon seeing Regal, Veronica, Astore, Aqua, and Hades appear from the shadows, Piora jumps slightly in fright before attempting to yell at Regal, but Kilde hastily steps up to her and covers her mouth with his hand, successfully silencing her before her outburst.
“Piora, this is the seventh time. Please remember to be quiet, as we are trying to escape while avoiding detection,” Kilde whispers to Piora as the latter struggles against his hand and tries to break away from it, her temper confusing her judgement.
Unfortunately for Piora, Kilde has grown to be six levels higher than Piora during her imprisonment, and his current strength is nearly twice hers, so her efforts to free herself from his grip is futile. Her cheeks flush red, in anger and frustration, as she gives up with a barely audible snort and stops struggling against Kilde.
When Kilde releases her mouth, she glares at him intensely before turning her attention to Regal and quietly hissing, “I’m disappointed in you. You should have been a better squad leader.”
Regal, feeling a strong sense of guilt, dips his head in shame but has no words to reply with. He failed as a leader in this scenario, and despite learning and growing from the mistake, it was an error of judgement that had a near catastrophic effect on the squad.
Kilde joins the whispering at the same time and asks Regal, “How are we to escape? I cannot think of any feasible methods to escape over the wall or through the gate without getting noticed. Even my camouflage Divine Art will be seen through by the guards, they are on average twice our level.”
“Yes, I’m relying on you to be discovered for my plan,” Regal’s statement shocks everyone, especially Piora and Aqua. Veronica has her utmost trust in Regal and doesn’t question him, but the other two women are about to object but are stopped by Regal continuing with an explanation.
“There is no method for us to quickly get out of the community, which we need to do, while remaining hidden. We need to attract the guards off and away from the wall, after which we will make a break for it over the wall. The guards are definitely faster than us, so we have to quickly lose them in the darkness and hope none of the guards who are chasing us can use a Divine Art to light up the night or see in the dark.”
Regal’s explanation causes Piora to stare at him and quietly ask, “So how are we to lose them once we get over the wall, especially when they discover us before we get over the wall?”
“The guards are stationed more heavily around the community gates. We will go a bit to the south and scale the wall there. There will be a position with only one or two guards, and that will be where we escape from. I have the means to knock them out for a short period of time, potentially even killing one. Kilde needs to reveal himself trying to escape and then lead the guard back towards the trap. We will all then escape over the wall and head toward the south to lose any pursuers in the battle.”
“That’s too risky,” Aqua frowns a bit before saying, “We will end up dying in the middle of the battlefield and reviving back in town once the battle is over.”
“Perhaps, but it is our biggest chance of escape. Any guards following our tracks will be drawn into the battle and won’t have the chance to continue chasing us.”
Piora and Aqua think about the scenario and question it in several ways, but are not able to come up with anything better and agree to continue with Regal’s plan as he is the most capable of any of them. On the other hand, Veronica’s trust in Regal is to the point where she would believe him even if he said they needed to jump into a bottomless abyss.
Regal leads the squad south, navigating through more dark alleys, until they are between the southern and western gates. There are only two guards visible on the top of the wall.
“What trap are we using?” Kilde asks, ready to charge toward the wall and attract their attention.
Regal just smiles before taking out an empty wooden barrel from his inventory. It is half as tall and as wide as a person standing up. He then takes out thousands of Blood Flint Bullets and pours them inside. Thankfully the squad is still far enough from the wall that the noise from the pouring bullets isn’t enough to attract the attention of the guards.
Once the barrel is full, Regal seals it with a lid and places it in an especially dark corner before saying, “Veronica, when I give you the signal, I want you to shoot this barrel. It should cause a chain reaction and create a big explosion. If it doesn’t kill the guard or two that are nearby, it should leave them near death and immobilized.”
Aqua and Piora understand the escape plan once they see the barrel and are filled with confidence. Regal leads the squad and Hades to a dark corner without any light about a hundred yards away.
“We should be safe this far away from the barrel. Veronica, you take aim at the barrel and get ready to fire. Kilde, activate ‘Visual Key’ and run at the wall, slightly away from-”
Regal stops talking mid-sentence as he notices the two guards on the wall suddenly pulling out their transmission plates. They seem to have received a report of some kind. After discussing it with one another, one of the two guards departs towards the western gate, leaving only one guard to remain.
“We only have fifty Blood Flint Bullets remaining each, so if the guard is nearly dead, quickly finish him off. Don’t waste the bullets if he still has more than a quarter of his health remaining.”
“What are Blood Flint Bullets?” Piora asks in confusion, unsure as to what everyone is referring to.
“They are a new type of bullet I created through the fusion of Compounding and Forging. They don’t…” Seeing as Piora is only becoming more confused, Regal trails off before simplifying it into terms that she will understand. “They look like normal bullets through their status information, but they explode upon hitting their target, so make sure you never fire one at anything too close to you.”
Piora’s eyes widen in amazement as she demands, “Well? Hurry up and give me some! They sound amazing!”
Kilde was about to quickly silence her and give her an eighth reminder not to be too loud, but a quick glare from the latter already said that she knew and his actions were unnecessary. Regal still felt such actions were necessary, however, as Piora’s fiery temper often controls how she reacts to situations.
“Actually, before our escape, I had the opportunity to prepare new weapons and armor for everyone. I also prepared a large amount of Blood Flint Bullets, but they are nearly used up for our trap. I will need to procure more ‘Earthen Blood Flint’ to refill our bullet supplies.”
Piora’s eyes stare at Regal intensely in anticipation and even Aqua is eager to see the new weapons. Astore and Kilde take it in stride while Veronica is indifferent to the matter as she was with Regal when he created the equipment and has already received hers.
One by one, Regal takes out the new weapons and hands them out, each squad member checking the status of the weapons upon equipping them.
Black Fragmentation Hand Cannon A sturdy hand cannon created purely out of Black Iron that trades ammo capacity and firing speed for gun damage. A work of high craftsmanship that is designed to do as much damage as possible with a single bullet. Two rounds can be loaded at a time, and both can be fired simultaneously for a damage bonus. Weapon Type: Hand Cannon/Single Handed Item Grade: Rare Requirements: Lvl 20, Dex 13, Str 22 Damage: 32 – 38 Range: 70 Yards Ammunition: .44 Rounds Durability: 90/90 Abilities: ~ Damage increases the closer you are to the target, up to a maximum of 1.5x ~ Two bullets can be fired at once to deal 1.7x damage
Stable Carmine Revolver A revolver of high craftsmanship with a strong balance between the materials used and part allocation in the internal components to maximize stability. Crafted from Carmine Copper and Black Iron, this revolver has very little recoil and can be easily and accurately fired whilst moving at high speeds. This gun can load 5 rounds. Weapon Type: Revolver/Single Handed Item Grade: Uncommon Requirements: Lvl 20, Dex 19, Str 17 Damage: 25 – 29 Range: 105 Yards Ammunition: .38 Rounds Durability: 85/85 Abilities: ~ Recoil reduced when firing whilst running
Rapid Combat Revolvers A pair of symmetrical revolvers made with high craftsmanship and a large quantity of Carmine Copper for rapid operation. Each revolver can hold eight rounds at a time. Weapon Type: Duel Revolver/Two Handed Item Grade: Uncommon Requirements: Lvl 20, Dex 20, Str 15 Damage: 21 – 24 Range: 80 Yards Ammunition: .38 Rounds Durability: 68/68 Abilities: ~ 15% increase in fire rate
Warlock Penetrating Rifle An extraordinary heavy duty rifle that fires large rounds which have a chance of stunning the target. The extremely long range of the weapon allows for maximum control against enemies. This rifle can chamber only one bullet at a time. Weapon Type: Rifle/Two Handed Item Grade: Rare Requirements: Lvl 21, Dex 24, Str 21 Damage: 45 – 52 Range: 235 Yards Ammunition: .54 Rounds Durability: 100/100 Abilities: ~ 30% chance of stunning the target for 1 second. ~ 50% chance of penetrating 1 target.
The ‘Black Fragmentation Hand Cannon’ was given directly to Astore to replace the ‘Heavy Ironplate Revolver’ he had been using. There are three identical ‘Stable Carmine Revolvers’ that he crafted, one gun going to Kilde and Aqua each, while Regal used the last to replace his own weapon. Veronica had already received and equipped the ‘Warlock Penetrating Rifle’, but she showed it to the others with pride in the fact that her rifle was the best gun out of them all. It is the pair of ‘Swift Combat Revolvers’ which causes Piora to spark up once again after she sees their requirements.
“What the hell kind of new gun is this?! I can’t even equip them!” Piora fumes in frustration, manually equipping them on her belt while ignoring the massive penalty for using a gun she does not meet the requirements of. It takes nearly the entire squad to convince her to hold onto the guns in her inventory until she reaches level 20.
Regal placates the disgruntled Piora before bringing out six sets of armor made from solid Black Iron protective plates and dark scaly leather. Piora figures she would not meet the requirements again, so she made little fuss when receiving her new armor and just put it in her inventory with an annoyed huff.
Darkplate Leather Armor Leather torso armor with protective plates of Black Iron to protect the most important areas from bullets and blades. Armor Type: Torso Item Grade: Uncommon Requirements: Lvl 19, Str 13, Agi 12, End 15 Armor Protection: 14 Durability: 85/85 Abilities: ~ 20% damage reduction from small caliber bullets and blades when hit directly on a Black Iron protective plate. Wears down durability faster and high damage can nullify damage reduction.
Regal then takes out another item. It is a set of large armor made from iron not meant for a person and four ‘Black Iron’ claws.
‘I wouldn’t normally make something like this, and for whatever reason it doesn’t have proper status information, but the utility of combining different crafting skills really made me wonder what else I could do,’ Regal silently thinks to himself while looking at the oversized armor and mulling over the status information of each piece that only states the material it’s made from. This armor was much more difficult to make than normal, and he even needed to heat up the metal again to hammer it completely into shape.
Regal calls Hades over and then begins strapping each piece of armor onto the Firestone Lizard. He also straps the Black Iron claws onto each of its feet,t which can be used for attacking and climbing up the wall, which is conveniently only made from Silverstone on this side. There is enough room to adjust the straps and alter the size of the armor should Hades grow after levelling up, but Regal isn’t too sure if they will be useful if Hades evolves like Lande and Lore did.
“Is everyone ready?” Regal asks after Hades is equipped with new armor and Black Iron claws.
When everyone nods back at him, Regal quietly signals Kilde to take off and points at which part of the wall he is to run toward.
Kilde activates the Tier 1 Divine Art ‘Visual Key’, turning into a shadow as he dashes toward the community wall at a location close to the patrolling guard. Just as predicted and planned, the guard notices Kilde and quickly moves across the top of the wall to block him.
“Halt!” The guard shouts while holding his hand up and using a defensive alchemy Divine Art that forms a near solid wall of wind between the two.
Kilde doesn’t say anything, but stops one step up the wall feigning surprise before jumping back and running for where the barrel of Blood Flint Bullets is hiding. He only stopped momentarily, but that was enough for the guard to get a glimpse of his face through the camouflage.
“Hurber reporting in. One target spotted trying to escape. Was intercepted and is now fleeing back into the community. I am pursuing,” The guard, Hurber, rapidly pulled out his transmission plate and reported before jumping off the wall and chasing after Kilde at twice the speed Kilde is escaping.
“Good work Hurber. What’s your current location? I will send two more guards to be escorts and restrain the target. If you can’t capture the target, kill it and we will move to the Rebirth Pond to capture the target once the invading community is dealt with,” A voice replies from the guard’s transmission plate, a voice which surprisingly belongs to the Greyhorn Guard Leader, Bryn.
Hurber chases after Kilde and rapidly closes the distance between the two of them, despite Kilde having a head start. Unfortunately the guard doesn’t get a chance to report his location or catch Kilde, as at the opportune moment Regal whispers, “Fire,” to Veronica who had the sights of her new Warlock Penetrating Rifle set on the barrel full of Blood Flint Bullets.
The bullet fires like a clap of thunder in a quiet night, even the distant sound of battle being completely drowned out for that instant. Hurber, the guard, reacted instinctively and altered his pacing to avoid the bullet, but the target was never him.
The bullet exploded the barrel of Blood Flint Bullets the instant it was fired, causing a chain reaction with all the bullets within. Rather than them all exploding at once though, it was a true chain reaction that took place over half a second. The explosion increased exponentially and caused mass destruction in a large area around the barrel.
The explosion even reached where Regal and the rest of the squad were, blowing them away like a leaf in the wind. Though they were a hundred yards away, Regal had sorely underestimated the carnage a chain reaction can cause. Kilde was much worse off, having been running away from the guard and only fifteen feet away from the barrel at the moment of the explosion. Not even Hades escaped the damage, losing half of his health despite his naturally high defences as a Mutant Beast.
Three houses, thankfully unoccupied, were completely demolished in the wake of the explosion. Kilde had been thrown through a fourth, and was in an unconscious state. The unconscious debuff would last anywhere from a minute to half an hour, which the squad didn’t have.
Another miracle of the Blood Flint Bullet barrel was that Hurber directly died from the blast. If he had time to use his wind alchemy defensive Divine Art or make other preparations, perhaps he could have defended against most of the blast, but the attack was so sudden there was no time for such abjurations.
Regal first quickly checked where the guard was previously when the explosion went off, and fortunately found a small bag of gold. Dropping half the gold he was carrying in his inventory shows that the guard truly did die, and it’s not an illusion. Regal is extremely happy with the amount too. The guard, who should have been at least level 40, dropped 583 gold coins, a larger amount than what Regal has ever held before.
With no time to waste, Regal and his squad each quickly gulp a health tonic down to restore their lost health, and Regal pours one into the collapsed Kilde’s mouth before placing Kilde on his back.
With Regal’s command, Veronica, Astore, Aqua, Piora, and Hades dash toward the now empty wall and jump up to the top in several steps. Hades is much larger and heavier than the squad members, so it has a little more trouble, but the new ‘Black Iron’ claws gouge into the Silverstone wall and allow it to climb up it quickly enough.
“Let me carry him!” Piora demands after several concerned glances toward Kilde, but Regal only shakes his head and points out that his stats are much higher than everyone else so he should be the person to carry Kilde.
Piora makes a few more demands about carrying him once they climb back down to the bottom of the city wall outside, but she ends up settling with helping him recover fully once he wakes up.
Regal leads the squad south around the wall, keeping far enough of a distance from the wall so they will be well outside the light cast by the flaming torches posted along the wall and is held by each sentry.
Unbeknownst to the squad, Bryn is raging in the Greyhorn Guard Barracks. First, the nearby Yuith Community had reinforced the attack on the eastern gate with more troops he didn’t know they had, and due to the number of guards spread out searching for Regal and his squad, the gate was in danger of being broken through. Second was that even though one of Regal’s squad members was spotted by a guard, the guard went silent before reporting the location for some reason. It coincided with the moment of a massive explosion. Bryn’s face darkened with a foreboding expression.
Bryn considers the possibility that the guard may have died, but soon places it out of mind. All of the guards’ levels and skills are much higher than Regal’s squads’. Even though Regal has his useful bullet invention that can cause damage to even him, it isn’t at the stage to be a major threat unless a hundred people were firing them. Bryn is the type to cover all avenues however, and sends out order for the area to be investigated.
“The Lord is not going to be happy about this,” Bryn silently says to himself, as if he could smell an incoming storm.