Classes began again, but now they were fewer than before, and she was free by 7 PM. On her way to the canteen, Orisa felt the beginning of a Wave. It was not her first Wave, and will not be the last one, so she paid it no heed, grabbed dinner to eat outside and left.
She was able to read Rita's letter once, but it was so complicated that she needed a few more times to grasp the basics of her explanation. She planned to read it a few more times while working in Chargery.
When she came out of the canteen, she saw Toatre sitting on a bench.
"Hey, Toatre! How are you? What are you doing here?" She settled on the same bench and began eating.
"Good evening, Orisa. I finished my evening meal. Regrettably, there were no sweets today. It's strange and concerning." She mused, looking at the twillight sky. "As for your second question, the goal of today's evening is to learn and practice more Mana engineering." She took out her bag and showed its contents to Orisa.
Inside she saw a lot of ink bottles, brushes, papers, and books. For a moment Orisa was distracted by the sounds of distant fighting but quickly returned to a more interesting topic.
"I totally didn't know!" She was excited. "You are learning Mana engineering? That's so cool!"
"Miss Satou advised me to learn or to at least try everything there is. She said it would serve a great role in utilizing my potential."
"Oh, sorry, now I'm a bit lost. What are you talking about?"
"After the measurement of characteristics, they said that I had an equal potential in every field."
"I'm intrigued, to say the least. What are your stats, actually?"
"All are seven." Toatre replied as if talking about the color of the grass. Orisa loudly chocked, spitting out the food.
"What?! This is beyond science!" She felt betrayed. 'Freaking admins, are you mocking me?! What a blatant favoritism! I'll give you one star in my review!'
"It is indeed a rare cause. With Miss Satou's help, I also learned that I might possess an unknown amount of innate abilities and talents. But this is to be discovered in the future."
"Toatre..." Orisa pouted so hard that her jaw almost broke. Toatre stood up, ready to leave.
"By the way, where are you practicing?" Orisa asked just in case it was in the same direction as the Warehouse.
"I'm studying under the engineers. Their shop is in the warehouse building."
"Oh, wait! I'm going over there, too!" Orisa quickly stuffed the remaining food and stood up.
"What a pleasant coincidence. I like conversing with you, Orisa."
"Me too, honey, me too." Orisa hugged Toatre by the shoulder.
As they were approaching, Orisa saw Nene talking to a soldier at the entrance to the warehouse.
'Oh, I hope she won't pester me about Iten again.'
Suddenly she saw a red flare shooting up from a nearby wall. And two more flares a moment later. A deafening sound of the siren rolled all over the camp.
In the direction of flares, Orisa saw a lot of explosions. There were shadows moving all over the wall.
"Let's hurry to the warehouse." She said, and they almost run to the entrance.
When they were ten meters from the entrance, there was a loud bang behind them, and a wave of dust rose all over the place.
The soldier at the entrance threw the spell. It flew above their heads through the dust, clearing it away, and smashed into something.
After taking a closer look, Orisa was able to distinguish its form. It was a giant toad, at least two meters tall. Its eyes glowed yellow while it looked around.
When another spell hit it, the Toad turned to the soldier, croaked loudly and shot out its tongue. It was so fast that Orisa barely saw it moving. The tongue wrapped around the soldier and yanked away, quickly transporting him right into the Toad's mouth.
"RUN!" Nene shouted with all her strength. Orisa grabbed Toatre's hand and dashed to the entrance.
Nene rose her halberd up in the air and began chanting:
"Warlord's Order: Field Commander!"
When she was done, she smashed the door open. Orisa let Toatre go first and turned around just in time to see a pink tongue flying in their direction. Nene made a small step forward and deflected the tongue with her halberd.
The Toad leaped forward, landing a few meters away from them.
She jumped in the air, smashing her weapon down on the Toad.
With heavy recoil, her weapon bounced off of the thick slimy, almost jelly-like skin of the Toad, and Nene was thrown back.
The moment Orisa went inside, the doorframe and surrounding wall were devastated by the Toad bull rushing Nene inside the warehouse. Nene’s body flew a few meters, but she spun in midair and landed on both legs.
"I will stun it for a few seconds, run!" She screamed to Orisa and Toatre.
She smashed her halberd down, sending a huge shockwave. The Toad fell on its back, croaking in confusion.
Orisa and Toatre were both running deeper into the warehouse when they saw a familiar face. It was a soldier from Chargery.
"Beasts are here!" Orisa yelled. The soldier was confused, but then he saw Nene running away from the giant Toad and his face distorted in horror. He turned around and ran.
A few turns later they ended up in Chargery.
"Why are we here, though?" Orisa took a look around, panting.
"It kind of happens when you walk the same route for years." The soldier said awkwardly.
The door slammed open, and Nene went inside. A second later there was a loud crashing noise, and the Toad landed right in front of the door.
Nene spun the halberd twice above her head and smashed its pole into the floor:
"Warlord's Order: Asylum!"
Its tip emitted a pale blue pulse that traveled for six meters and stopped, creating a barely visible sphere. Nene was panting heavily. The Toad smashed twice into the sphere and then stopped.
"I need Mana, now. Or we are dead." Nene muttered. Her voice was tense, no traces of her usual playful attitude. She was gripping the halberd's pole tightly, her hands white from the pressure.
The soldier picked up a box that was full of slightly glowing crystals and handed one of them to Nene. She relaxed a bit, but then the frog started to smash against the sphere again.
"My skill will protect the walls and the door for some time. But even with Mana, I won't last more than a few minutes."
"Can't you kill it?" Orisa asked in a shaky voice.
"Without a lantern? No. And its skin is too slimy. Hate water beasts, my weapon just bounces off of their protective layers."
The toad was relentlessly striking the walls and the doorframe. They held because of Nene's skill, but small cracks appeared here and there.
Toatre took out her tools and started painting something at Nene's feet.
"What are you doing there?" She asked. Toatre finished the first painting and started the second.
"The Seal of Vitality and the Seal of Fortitude. Their effects might help you to hold on longer, I presume." She finished both the Seals and the Mana source and placed another crystal there. Both Seals began to glow.
"Stand on them, please." She said and took away her tools. When Nene made a small backstep, she began to glow with green and orange.
"Feels good, girl. I say this changes nothing in the end, though. Few more minutes and we are dead."
"What if we break the opposite wall and run away?" Orisa suggested.
"I can't move with the Asylum. The moment it breaks, that shit over there will eat me. But you can go. I say it's bad for all of us to die here."
"No point," the soldier said grimly, "it will catch up in no time."
"Is it possible for the aid to arrive here on time?" Toatre sat on the box, calmly checking her bag with engineering tools and supplies.
"Highly unlikely. We don't know how many beasts broke through. Everyone is probably as troubled as we are."
"Bavan, what's your spec, again?" Nene asked the soldier.
"Empowerment, weakening, but mostly for magic users."
"Tch. Can you throw some lightning at it, then?"
"No. I've never tried anything combative beyond basic fire spells."
"Nene, why do you want lightning?" Orisa's ears perked at the word.
"I say, are you dumb or something? It's a water beast. You ought to electrocute it."
As if to prove Nene's words the Toad backed away a few meters, took a deep breath. Next moment a big blue circle appeared in front of its maw and tight water jet shot out from it, hitting the Asylum.
Nene grumbled, she was clearly in pain now.
"We are out of time. Gotta say goodbyes and stuff." She said, panting heavily.
"Toatre, I have an idea, and I need you to tell me that I'm right!"
Orisa explained to her the plan. Toatre just nodded and took out her tools. After a moment she added:
"We should do it away from Nene. It might endanger her Asylum".
"Got it. Bavan, sir, I need your help, too."
Together they took all the boxes with charged crystals and dumped their contents into one big pile. Toatre began to paint a number of Seals on the floor.
"Sir, I need you to cast everything you can to boost me. Also, everything you can do to weaken the Toad."
"Got it. I can weaken the Toad to take increased damage from the next hit. But the effect will trigger from anything damaging, so it's unreliable at best. Will it help?"
"Oh, yes, it absolutely will! Do it when Nene let the Toad pass."
"I should let the Toad pass?" Nene was confused.
"When we are done, you should run away from the Toad and the entrance." Orisa explained the grand plan.
"Gotcha. Sounds hella lame, but it's way better than to just give up and die."
"I'm ready," Toatre called Orisa, "you need to stay on the frontal Seal. Are you familiar with Pulling?"
"No, but we don't have a choice, anyway."
Toatre took out all the Mana ink she had and poured it over the pile of crystals. They began to glow.
Orisa stood on the Seal and felt like a third hand grew out of her. That hand was holding an enormous weight, bulging and shaking under its pressure.
"I'm ready." She said to Bavan. He nodded and began chanting:
"Lesser Owl's Eye!"
Orisa felt a strong wave of power rolling over her. She felt incredible. She felt like Archons.
Bavan turned to the Toad and threw a weakening spell:
"Nene, stop the Toad in front of me so that I can touch it. We are ready, waiting for you!" Orisa's voice trembled with excitement. She was scared to death, but all the power set her insides ablaze.
Nene timed her leap perfectly. Right after the Toad slammed against her barrier, she jumped back and landed right in front of Orisa.
The Toad hammered the doorframe with its body, obliterating it completely. It jumped at Nene and when it was about to land Nene swung her halberd:
The Toad stopped in its track, stunned for a moment. Bavan acted immediately, pointing his wand at it:
Red beam flew from the wand's tip and struck the Toad.
Orisa pulled inside all the Mana she felt from the pile of crystals and recalled the sensation from that day with Rita:
She thought that she already felt the real pain when sugar blob struck her with the Smite spell. That pain was nothing.
It felt like she accidentally took a seat on a small volcano. The moment she pulled Mana and recalled that lightning sensation, everything inside her exploded. Her vision instantly went blank from the pain, and she coughed out a fountain of blood.
Only because of Nene's skillful measurement the Toad was stopped right in front of Orisa. Her’s legs gave away, and she collapsed forward. By a miraculous push of willpower, she stretched her arms forward and transferred the charge into the Toad.
Unlike the time with Noble imbeciles, there was no explosion. When Orisa's hands made contact with the Toad’s body, it visibly shook. For a few moments, the Toad was electrified, and then a giant lightning arc came out of the Toad's back and struck the ceiling, creating a big hole. The arc left a huge scorched mark on Toad's back. That spot was smoking and hissing.
Orisa fell on the floor, bleeding heavily from mouth, ears, and eyes. The only thought that she could produce was 'It hurts...' With every breath, she coughed more blood, and her breathing became weaker and weaker.
Suddenly the Toad started moving. It shook a bit but then steadied itself, stood up and looked at Orisa’s body that was laying on the floor right in front of it.
Nene clenched her halberd with both hands and shouted with all her strength:
Her body began to glow red. All her muscles visibly bulged up, all the sweat on her body instantly evaporated.
She growled inhumanely and struck the Toad, but her weapon bounced back from the slimy skin. Nene howled like a beast and repeatedly attacked the Toad. With every strike, the Toad was pushed back slightly, but otherwise unharmed. It shot forward with its tongue, but Nene slapped it away with her bare hand and leaped forward.
Her halberd came down on the Toad's back, and with a sick splashing sound its blade went inside through the charred spot from Orisa's lightning.
The beast roared in pain, and Nene howled in mad excitement. She pulled out the weapon and struck again, diving into the same spot. Green blood spilled all over the walls, more being added with each following strike. Nene was covered in a thick green liquid from head to toe. She kept striking again and again. The Toad no longer moved, it made no sounds except squashing noises of a blade going deeper into bones and flesh.
"Ne...Ne..." The barely audible moan was the last thing Orisa did before she stopped breathing.
Nene kept hitting the Toad's corpse, saliva oozing from her wide open mouth, mixing with green blood all over her face.
Toatre quickly moved to Nene, turned her around with a strong pull and slapped her cheek soundly.
"Wake up. Orisa needs you. Now." Her voice sounded angry for the first time in this world.
Consciousness returned to Nene's eyes. She shook her head and looked around. When her eyes caught the scene of Orisa lying on the ground in a pool of blood, motionless and breathless, she gasped.
"Shit. I'm sorry-"
"Do something. Not too late." Toatre's voice was tense.
Nene came to Orisa and slammed the halberd into the floor.
"Warlord's Order: Reinstatement!"
A green pulse came out of the pole. Orisa's body began to glow.
"Warlord's Order: Sanctuary!"
A wide white circle appeared on the floor. Orisa's body began to glow even brighter. Bavan pointed his wand at her and chanted:
"Not enough." Said distressed Toatre.
Bavan leaned down to Orisa, turned her on the back and began CPR. He placed his hand on her chest and pushed hard, then released the pressure. He made the same move twice a second, counting to thirty, then clamped her nose and gave her two breaths.
After the second round of the CPR Orisa's body shook and she gasped loudly.
"Orisa, how do you feel?" Toatre settled down on the floor by Orisa's side and took her hand.
"Been better..." After lying for a bit, she sat up. Looking at the Toad's corpse and Nene's look, Orisa furrowed her brow.
"The heck? Couldn't you have done it earlier?" Orisa glared at Nene so intently that she shivered.
"I told you! The skin was too slimy! I say we are lucky that you burned away some of that mucus."
Orisa looked at the pile of now empty crystals and muttered:
"Why wasn't that enough? I used so much Mana..."
"Because you are doing it in the most inefficient way possible," Bavan replied in a slightly sympathetic tone, "instead of creating magic, creating forms, casting spells you are just burning pure Mana."
Orisa was still visibly confused, so he continued:
"It's like you have some money in a bag, and you just throw the bag into your enemies face in hopes to deal some damage. But you could have bought weapons or hired a guard, using the same money much more efficiently."
Orisa nodded depressingly. 'Whatever I do, it's not enough. It's always not enough.'
"I say, we are lucky that you were here. You charred that fatso for good." Nene got closer and patted Orisa on the back. "You saved our lives."
Orisa looked at Nene, startled. Both Toatre and Bavan nodded.
"We all did great..."