Chapter 7: How I Wished
There were at least 30 bandits from what I could see. Our current situation seemed to be pretty bad, as both our front and back were surrounded by bandits with swords, spears and other close range weapons. On the mountainside to our right, there were archers positioned to shoot down at us and to our left was only the edge of the mountain with the looming fog beckoning to us.
Jasmine, Durden and my father seemed to be fine with no visible injuries but Helen had a slightly pale face as she had an arrow jutting out of her right calf.
A bald man with multiple scars deforming his face and a body that reminded me of a bear (but carrying a giant axe) spoke out.
“Look what we have here. Pretty good catch boys. Leave only the girls and kid alive. Try not to scar them too much. Damaged goods will only sell for less.”
I felt my body heating up; tensing from a burning rage I haven’t felt in a while.
The audacity of this swine! How dare he!
I was ready to rush towards this brute, almost forgetting that I was now in 4 year old child when…
“There are only 4 mages and none of them seem to be Conjurers! The rest are normal fighters!” This time my father shouted out.
Looking for slight mana fluctuations around a person’s body makes mages distinguishable compared to normal humans but only if you focused well enough. Whether they’re an Augmenter or Conjurer, making an inference based on physical structure and the weapon they’re holding gives a pretty solid guess.
Quickly reverting back to his former adventurer days he when once led the Twin Horns; he put on his gauntlets, yelling, “Safeguard formation!”
Adam quickly arrived next us, facing the back of the road, spear pointed, while Jasmine and Helen came to our left with both their weapons unsheathed, facing the front of the road. My father and Durden faced the mountainside, positioning themselves to shield us from the archers overhead. Angela maintained her position, but stood up, preparing another spell while she kept the wind barrier active.
“Gather and guard my allies O benevolent earth; do not let them be harmed. Earth Wall!”
The ground rumbled as a 4 meter earthen wall transmuted up from the ground curving up in front of Durden.
At that instant, my father burst forward with his gauntlets raised in a guard against arrows, towards the enemy archers.
Moments later, Angela finished chanting her spell and unleashed a torrent of wind blades aimed at the front and back of the road. With that as the cue, Adam and Jasmine followed up behind the wind spell, arriving to face their enemies that were in distraught, trying to block the flurry of blades. Helen stayed behind, arrow knocked and bow drawn and anchored with the tip of the arrow shining in a bluish light.
This position was ideal for protecting valuable goods or people, with two layers of protection from the conjurers and an archer mage ready to fire at anyone who manages to cross the assaults of Adam, Jasmine and Father into the defense line.
“Fighter coming your way Helen!” Shouted Adam as he dodged a mace crashing down at the ground where he was at before promptly giving a quick swipe to the jugular of the unfortunate fighter. His eyes widened as he desperately dropped his weapon and tried to seal the fatal wound with his hands, blood spurting out through the gap between his fingers.
Meanwhile, a scruff, middle-aged man wielding a machete lunged towards Angela, trying to disrupt the spell. Although the wind blade spell wasn’t that powerful, it provided a distraction that needed to be stopped.
I tried to free myself to block the man before he gets in range of Angela but before I could pull myself apart of Mother and grab my wooden sword, it was already over.
Followed by a powerful “Fwoosh!” The arrow unleashed by Helen carried a force strong enough to pierce through the armored chest of that said fighter and lift him up and back a couple meters, impaling him on the ground.
Mental note. Never piss off Helen.
Nocking and drawing another arrow, Helen narrowed her eyes. I can faintly see the mana gathering into her right eye as she closed the other one. After another “Fwoosh!” The reinforced arrow streaked through, ignoring all opposing air resistance before arriving in front of another enemy fighter.
This man reminded me of a smaller Durden, except with more muscle and a much more sinister face. He furrowed his eyes in concentration and met the arrow with his giantsword that was the same height as him. With a sound that reminded me of a bullet hitting metal, the enemy fighter was blown back a meter but wasn’t really harmed as he stabbed his greatsword into the ground, gaining enough balance to stop on his feet. However, before he even had the chance to do anything else, another arrow flew into his forehead, draining the light out of his eyes.
Meanwhile, Jasmine was engaged in a pretty serious duel against an Augmenter who used a long chain whip. Jasmine was in a disadvantage because of the short range her two daggers had, using all of her concentration dodging the erratic movements of the whip. The enemy seemed to catch on that she was having a hard time, adding in a few provocative comments while licking his cracked lips. “I’ll make sure to treat you real well before we sell you off as a slave little missy. Don’t worry, by the time I’m done training you, you’ll be begging to stay with me.” Followed by another lick to his lips.
I shuddered and clenched my fists from the frustration of not being able to do anything. Against a fighter, I might be able to win, but against an adult augmenter? I didn’t have the confidence in being able to win.
Was I to just stay in the protection of everyone while they risked their lives? Could I not do anything? I could only grit my teeth and endure.
The earth wall was holding strong with none of the arrows able to penetrate through. With his left hand directed at the earth wall, he willed a constant flow of mana into it to keep it from collapsing. Durden then created a small slit in the middle of the wall so he can get vision on my father and the archers scattering, trying to run away.
“Take heed Mother Earth and answer my call. Pierce my enemies. Let none of them live. Rupture Spike!”
Almost instantly, a dozen spikes strutted out from the ground, aimed at the archers. While a couple of them managed to dodge the earth spikes, many of them were impaled in place, their screams only lasting a couple of moments before their lives faded.
Durden seemed pretty strained from that spell; I could see some cold sweat rolling down his face.
My mother brought me back into her arms and held onto me tighter. There was no one from our side injured after Helen bound the wound on her calf. Fortunately the arrow wasn’t in deep thanks to Helen’s mana reinforcement; by the time she wound it, the bleeding stopped. But throughout this whole time, my mother had a constant look of paranoia, her face pale with worry, her head never staying in one place, always turning left and right, trying to look out for anything that can harm us.
While a little confused at first, I dismissed it; mentally concluding that, since she wasn’t an adventurer for too long, unlike my father, she’s probably just not used to situations like this and is just worried about us.
The battle was coming to its climax. The bandit group didn’t suspect that every one of our group members would be a capable mage (excluding me). All of the melee fighters were dead, the only ones alive being the four mages and a couple of scattered archers on the run.
Jasmine was still having trouble with that sick chain user, but he wasn’t nearly so arrogant anymore, with a couple of nicks and cuts on his body, blood oozing out.
Adam was engaged with a dual sword Augmenter. Adam’s fighting style reminded me of a snake, with his flexible body and sudden movements. He should be considered one of the rare elemental augmenters with a water-attribute style. Reinforcing the body of his spear to be flexible, his attacks were a mirage of multiple thrusts and swipes. He seemed to be winning the battle against his opponent as the dual wielder was profusely bleeding from wounds all over, desperately parrying the onslaught of attacks.
A thundering crash shocks my attention away from Adam’s battle. My father was sprawled down on the debris of what is now left of the Earth Wall spell and is struggling to get himself up, blood dribbling down from the side of his lips.
I rush out of the wind barrier and kneel in front of Father.
My mother soon follows and begins chanting a healing spell.
“Cough! Alice, listen to me. Don’t heal me right now. If you use a healing spell right now, they’ll find out what you are and try that much harder to go after you. They’ll be willing to sacrifice a lot more if they know!”
My mom wasn’t listening and kept chanting, desperately shaking her head. She was stubborn all right.
Father turned to me after giving up trying to persuade his wife.
“Art, listen carefully. After the healing spell activates, they’re going to try to capture your mother at all costs. After I’m healed enough, I’m going back to engage the leader and try to buy enough time. I think I can beat him, but not if I have to worry about protecting you guys. Take your mother back down the road and don’t stop; Adam will open up a path for you.”
“No dad! I’m staying with you. I can fight! You saw me! I can help!” F*ck being mature. It seemed like at this moment I was really acting like the 4 year old I was on the outside, but I didn’t care. I’m not going to leave behind my family whom I’ve grown to love and friends who I’ve bonded with so much this past week and a half.
“LISTEN TO ME ARTHUR LEYWIN!” Father agonizingly roared. This was the first time hearing his voice like this; the kind of voice that one would only use in a desperate situation.
“I know you can fight! That’s why I’m entrusting your mother to you. Protect her and protect the baby inside her. I’ll catch up to you after this is over.”
Protect her and protect the baby inside her…
Everything clicked. Why she was acting so paranoid. Why she was clutching me and making sure nothing got even close to us. Why both Durden and Angela were guarding us with defensive spells instead of just one of them.
My mother was pregnant.
“I was planning on telling you when we arrived in Xyrus but…” Not finishing his sentence, father just looked at me sheepishly; still pale from the blow he received from the bald, axe-wielding boss.
“Okay, I’ll protect Mom.”
“Atta boy. That’s my son.”
My mother finished her chant at this time and both she and my father glowed in a bright golden white light.
“There’s a Healer! Don’t let her get away!”
I quickly grabbed my mother’s arm with both hands and tugged her to move while reinforcing myself with mana.
We reached the area Adam and the dual-wielder was battling a little down the road.
“Art, hurry down, I got him!”
The dual-wielder was obviously frustrated by the inability to neither reach me nor mother because of Adam. We hurried down the slope when I heard a faint *wizz* sound to our left. Acting on instinct, I jumped up, bringing my wooden sword up and reinforcing my whole body and the sword to withstand the blow of incoming arrow.
As the arrow met the wooden sword, my body flew back. Fortunately, the arrow wasn’t reinforced with mana so after throwing my body into a backflip to disperse the force, I landed awkwardly on my feet, using my hands to make myself come to a stop, throwing away what was left of my wooden sword.
…Was all I heard from the assailant before he was promptly impaled by an arrow fired by Helen.
“GO!” She exclaimed, nocking in another arrow and firing at the leader of the bandits to support my father.
Currently, Jasmine, Adam, and my father (with Helen) were each fighting a Mage.
Wasn’t there four?
“Damien! Forget the plan, don’t let them live!” The Boss suddenly shouted.
“Who was he commanding?”
“… Respond to my call and wash away all! Water Cannon!”
From the mountainside, one of the scattered “archers” had his hands brought together, aimed at me and mother. We were tricked. He camouflaged himself during the chaos. He wasn’t an archer or even an Augmenter. He was a Conjurer!”
I didn’t have much time to react before an incoming ball of pressurized water, a couple meters wide was nearing.
What can I do?
To my immediate right was my mother and to my left were Adam and his opponent not far off; and behind me, of course, was the edge of the mountain. Even If I can dodge this, mother won’t be able to and she’ll be forced off the ledge of the mountain.
What should I do?
“Dammit!” I roared!
Willing all of the remaining mana left in this cursed body, I tackled my mother, propelling both of us out of the way.
I quickly realized my 40-pound body couldn’t carry enough momentum to push both of out of range of the water cannon.
If I’m going down, I’m taking that bastard mage down with me!
I focused mana into my arms and pushed my mother farther down out of range. In that moment, everything seemed to be in slow motion as my mother gazed at me in panic and disbelief. She might get a pretty bad bruise from the push. She was going to be fine, but that’s only if I can get rid of this conjurer.
I unsheathed the knife Jasmine gave me from my waist and willed mana into it. What I’m trying to do, I’ve done with ki in my old world but never with mana.
After willing mana into the knife, I threw it like a boomerang, aiming it at the conjurer still focusing his attention on the water cannon. Curving around the edge of the ball of water, the knife landed straight into the leg of the mage.
Crap! I didn’t kill him. Plan B.
Plan B was just in case my initial throw couldn’t kill him. I managed in succeeding in the gamble of Plan B, and that was creating a thin string of mana attaching the knife, currently engorged into the Conjurer’s leg, to my hand.
“What the!” shouted the mage in pain as the knife embedded itself deep into his leg.
Losing concentration, the water cannon lost shape, but unfortunately, there was still a surge of water strong enough to push me off the cliff.
I tugged back on the mana string hard. The mage was hauled towards me from the combination of my pulling and the remnants of the water cannon pushing me back.
This is it. I couldn’t help but look around at the battle that was still ensuing. Father and Helen managed to kill the leader. Angela providing back up for Jasmine allowed for them to put the whip-user on his last stand while Durden was rushing towards mother.
Thanks Durden. She’ll be safe in his hands. Everyone will be okay.
The only thing I’ll regret is not being able to see my baby sibling.
With that, everything faded to a black; the last thing I see is the enemy conjurer desperately trying to pull the knife out of him while falling off the mountain, into the abyss along with me.
Damn. I always wanted to be a big brother.