Trumpets blared at an intensity that Gaius had never heard before, rousing him from his dreams immediately. Bells, klaxons, trumpets…a cacophony reverberated across the entire of Eo-Seu. A as the unpleasant harsh sounds continued to play out on and on, the boy pulled on his clothes at double time, tossing his belongings into a bag that he slung on as he jumped out of the window.
Flying out of his room, Gaius was soon joined by a hundred or so more allies, but everyone stopped dead in their tracks as they finally saw the reason why the alarms had rung out across the land with unprecedented urgency and strength. The sea of blue soldiers that had spent the last few days rushing into a killing field of automatic weapons were still there, but this time, said sea was accompanied by a lake made up of at least Knight-rank individuals. Hundreds, maybe even a thousand of them formed a crescent shape as Conrah’s ground troops once again charged at the frontlines, floating above the waters that surrounded Eo-Seu.
“There’s so many of them,” someone murmured quietly. “They outnumber us ten to one…is this the end?”
Gaius could hear the Knights around him say similar words, but remarkably, none of them showed any fear. The boy could see a stern will, an unbroken determination to stay and fight despite the overwhelming odds. Most of these people probably had family near Eo-Seu, even if they weren’t on the Territory itself. It would be easy for the Lifespring’s forces to swamp Feng-Lang, and eventually overrun the entirety of the Territories in the course of a few days. There was no better place than to stay and fight.
The Moonshot unfolded into its long-range form, but the sigils that arrayed themselves in front of its barrel weren’t quickening sigils. Against a smaller number of actively moving enemies, the boy had little energy to spare on calculating their possible routes, which was why he had stacked multiple quickening sigils to ensure that the bullet wouldn’t miss.
But against an entire solid wall of enemies…the chances of him missing weren’t really that low. No, what really mattered now was to inflict a deadly first strike, which was best done by piling up as many explosion sigils as he could into a single shot.
“Out of the way,” Gaius said quietly.
The Knights around him skittered away as they noticed a few dozen sigils in front of the Moonshot. Gaius had stopped at forty-nine, partially because his hand was beginning to hurt from what looked like Orb’s first ever case of carpal tunnel, and also because he had no idea what stacking over ten such explosion sigils did either.
Ripples spread across the solidly-packed formation of azure Knights as they seemingly spotted Gaius. It was somewhat uncomfortable to have so many people — that was, if the Lifespring’s troops counted as people in the first place — stare at him, and as he readied the Moonshot, Gaius feel the taunting challenge from the assembled formation.
Try it, if you can. It was an undisguised message of challenge, and the boy could somewhat understand why they were so optimistic about their chances. There was bravery in numbers, after all.
Gaius leered at the incoming wall of enemies, peered through the scope, and fired. A single, fine line of qi slammed through the arrayed sigils, which winked out as the projectile passed through them, and vanished into the sea of enemy Knights three seconds later.
A moment of silence passed, before a shockwave tore through the crescent formation of the Lifespring’s Knights. A small sun bloomed immediately afterwards, a ball of blinding light that swallowed a good half the crescent formation. Everyone averted their eyes, but nothing could stop them from feeling the aftermath of such an attack.
At the same time, the sea below them roared as tidal waves spread outwards from somewhere in the centre of the crescent formation, generating an outburst of wind that sent Gaius and company tumbling when it slammed into them. A tumultuous roar followed a second later, and Eo-Seu itself trembled and shuddered. The ground cracked, and a giant fissure opened up within the backlines of the Lifespring’s troops, swallowing them whole as they fell into a gaping maw of shaking earth.
Stunned, Gaius lowered the Moonshot. He hadn’t expected such a…violent reaction when he used every single explosion sigil at once. But that wasn’t something he could explain to his cheering allies…and the chances of there being such an ideal target wasn’t going to be high once word of this event spread.
The light faded away a few moments after the cheers began, revealing a tattered formation that was half of what it used to be. But before Gaius could try his luck again, the Knights broke into little groups, turning into blurry streaks of light as they closed the gap between the troops of the Eastern Territories and themselves, causing the boy to narrow his eyes.
Even with the devastating first shot from Gaius, the defenders were outnumbered at least five-to-one. Clearly, Conrah was intent on conquering whatever remained of Eo-Seu today. With such overwhelming numbers, it was a given that this land would fall today, a calculation not lost on the people around Gaius.
The cheers died down.
“Hey, kid.” One of the Knights, the axeman who had tried to talk to Gaius a few days ago, patted his soldier. “We’ll cover for you. Shoot down as many bastards as you can, and then flee. So long as you’re still alive, these bastards will take heavy losses.”
His words echoed loudly, and Gaius looked at the Knights around him as they chimed in with their own thoughts.
“We probably won’t make it back, but we weren’t really useful either way!”
“Hah! Gaius, right? Remember to add your kills to our Displays, get it? Help us redeem some good stuff for my family.”
“You’re a child. You shouldn’t be here at all, but since you are…we’ll keep them off you while you kill them!”
Gaius gripped the Moonshot tightly as his allies smiled and spoke loudly. He could sense an undercurrent of fear beneath their words, but these warriors were fighting for something greater. He could understand why they said these words. By now, the areas near Eo-Seu were probably evacuating. If they managed to dissuade the God of Water from continuing a successful campaign by inflicting extreme losses, it would buy more time for the civilians to escape.
It was something that the boy could get behind.
Sunlight glinted as the hundred-odd Knights raised their weapons high into the air, and the air shivered as they charged forwards, a war-cry on their lips. The boy raised the Moonshot to eye-level, and breathed out.
“Don’t worry,” he murmured. “I’ll kill them all for you.”