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A note from naosu

Woohoo! Another contestant for the longest chapter contest!

Dreamweaver Chapter 149

 

                                                

 

 

 

The city alarm continues to blare around us harshly.

It hasn’t stopped for the last half hour and that’s something. Here and there panicked dwarves are rushing around us madly in all directions. All of them recognize and know what the city alarm means. It can only mean that the wall is compromised and the enemy is here, according to Gyle. He means here, here as in getting past the wall and that chilled us to the bone in fear. People have the same terrified kind of look on their face in our home world when there’s a big ass earthquake happening. Even the ones that have experience with this sort of thing do get scared, because they know how bad it is.

Some of them are trying to locate loved ones; others are scrambling for cover and places to hide. To be fair, I hadn’t known this before now but a lot of dwarves carry concealed weapons like daggers, spiked metal fist knuckles, of those they come in a variety of a type with a long spike that can be attached to a type of fist frame strap set, or three smaller spikes. And even the dwarven women carry these, there are others that had short swords carried on a hidden back holster, but hose can be hard to hide without jackets, and still others are armed with throwing knives in various places, virtually nobody is unarmed though they may appear to be. There are other types of small hidden weapons too, but the object of these is a last ditch effort to not fight but let them survive long enough to get to the numerous family owned and state sponsored armories across the city.

Still those little tiny hidden type weapons have disadvantages against spears, pole arms, and extended reach weapons.

While we move every block or so we can see people trying to get in groups for safety and versions of a dwarven buddy system of anywhere from 2 to 4 dwarves or with family members; with the wall compromised civilian militias and state sponsored city guard units are instantly meeting at street intersections and urging people to get armed as quickly as possible.

But that was an interesting difference between the militias of this world, compared to our world. The militias here aren’t to try to get people to calm down but instead to get them all armed as quickly as possible and to join them rather than try to get everyone to be complacent. They also know from the type of alarm what kind of emergency it is; a martial invasion.

Maybe partly it’s easier because unlike our world, this world can see that a greenback is clearly not a dwarf.  

We managed to get across another city intersection before the trouble starts to really get bad.

Then we managed to get to a line where dwarves have already put up barriers. But it’s already too late. The goblins have poured into the city like rats and people are trying to make homemade fortifications in the streets made out of furniture and anything on hand. Some of them are in buildings, but not everyone can afford stone buildings, and they know goblins will set fire to those.

It’s still taking time to get everyone organized. Around us the dwarves are scrambling to get a good defense going. With the alarm in the city going off the dwarves are mobilizing down to every man and woman available, with the exception of children and a few people guarding children.

But we found a surprise when we ran into Svinn of all people with a dwarven platoon. He’s directing men and dwarves to hold a line and to get another platoon ready to reinforce the next streets over.

“Stay moving, but don’t rush. Be careful of trampling each other and watch out for children. Don’t leave any females or children unattended. Make sure you have at least three locks securing each door to your homes,” I can hear city guards reciting while keeping people in order that are milling about the streets.

Shortly after that Gyle rejoined us from doing minor errands. “Oh, jeez I was afraid I wouldn’t find you guys,” he huffs from running here as fast as he could a small bundle of what supplies he can manage to haggle quickly. Now he’s wiping sweat from his brow, while both Rina and Sunghee are glued to my arms to make sure they don’t get separated from me. I sometimes forget that Sunghee only dares be out here in the real world, when I’m with her.

All around us dwarves are doing a rallying cry for, ‘defense, defense! Keep the city! Push them back!’ over and over.

Wait, is that who I think it is?

I see a dwarven figure ahead of us shouting at me. As we get closer I’m sure he looks familiar.

Ahh it is…

It’s Svinn. It’s been a little while since we’ve seen him.

“Let’s get moving. I want a perimeter here and no one gets through except the military and city guard units. Mobilize people who have arms to join us when you see them crossing here,” Svinn said to his men.

They are still glaring at us humans, wondering what Svinn is thinking but he’s calling the shots. Their long chapped and bearded faces are weathering his commands that take a lot of courage to not call unreasonable. Every dwarf knows that he could die following orders right now. But he has to do just that with a long face or his whole town will be gone soon. More than one of them is choking back tears at seeing goblins getting inside their sacred mountain.

He turned to face me when we greet him. He recognizes us right away and did so quickly enough that suggests he’d wanted to find us.

“Shun, fancy meeting you here. You are just in time for the party and to help us in our our of need,” Svinn said with a smirk and a blazing fury on his face because of the goblin green backs. His eyes have a special glint that he does when he’s excited to kill goblins. I don’t know why but it’s almost like he’s fascinated by the concept.

He must like pain or something…

Hanging around dwarves isn’t good for my health…at least when it’s come to stuff like combat. But, the rest of the time as long as I don’t try to keep up with their drinking and having two livers I’m OK.

“Hey, what’s up?” I greeted him back diplomatically but a bit guarded. If he tells me to take the front line against the goblin army I’ll tell him to stuff it.

Gyle is surprised that we know a great dwarven hero like Svinn. “Eh?! You guys know each other?!” he gasped.

“How did you know the war hero Svinn?” he leers at me with new shock.

“Well I wish I could hear the full story,” Gyle said.

“So do I. The story gets more elaborate when I hear people talk about me every time I hear it. Some of it might even be true,” Svinn said.

“Wow,” Gyle shakes his head looking at me.

The other dwarves look at me differently now that they know I’ve somehow become pals with war hero Svinn. But I don’t like their staring at me like mules just because they idolize Svinn. I was never into that idol worship crap so I don’t care what people think of me.

“I thought we told you about that,” Sunghee said.

“I thought it was all talk. Everybody that wants something these days claims they knows someone with power. So you really do know him?” Gyle asked.

“A bit, but not much. Now let’s get down to business before the town burns down,” I shrugged.

Svinn chuckled, “that’s being polite. You saved that one town. Now you have another chance…” he put his arm on my shoulders.

Ahh crap, that’s how conmen get people to cough up credit cards…

 Hell, I didn’t even know that knowing Svinn was supposed to be such a big deal. But Gyle is looking from back and forth to each of us like it’s something big with his mouth hanging open.

“Took you long enough to crawl out of wherever you were. Where the fudge have you been hiding?” I said.

“We had trouble tracking them for awhile. They had been hiding for the last couple weeks to make us think they had left the region. I should have known it was a ruse,” Svinn swore in frustration.

“So they never truly left did they?” Sunghee said.

“Nope,” I responded.

Svinn is looking for Rina too, but still hasn’t realized what he thinks is Asakura is actually Rina. But he can’t stop to chat about that. I’d almost forgotten he was fixated on Rina.

“We had one clue though and it looked kind of iffy, and I should have seen it for the warning it was. We have been trying to watch the enemies’ movements but they had several really good decoys going that confused us. We barely got back to the city in time and were still trying to figure out where they were going to hit us. I can’t believe they’d have the balls to do something on a city this big. Now this,” he said rolling his eyes.

He claps us on the back. “But at least we have your firepower. I know I can count on you.”

Ahh that kind of friend like confidence is the worst kind of invite because I don’t want to feel guilty about abandoning them. That’s almost worse than a stern recruitment order because it’s like looking up at me and putting me on a pedestal too.

That’s a lot of pressure.

“We need your help reinforcing this street and the next one over. Because they already got past the gate towers, every street is going to have to be fought for man to man. We have to push them out Shun. We just have too. This city is key in holding down the whole province’s defense. If this city falls we lose the province with it. Not just the troops but all of the supplies of the province from outside go through here. People wouldn’t be able to get supplies to prepare for winter too,” he said.

“Eh? They got that deep so quickly?!” Gyle said in shock.

“Hmm that does look deep past the edge of the walls huh?” Sunghee scratched her head.

“Get to it please, I need you guys to come through for me,” Svinn said before I could object.

I have my arms folded over my chest as I decide what to do.  

“You also get looting rights on the goblin stuff if that helps any,” Svinn confirmed.

“PFff, like goblins have anything valuable that we’d want to steal,” Sunghee scoffed.

“Hey, he’s trying to be fair,” Gyle said in the other’s defense.

Svinn motions to someone nearby. He barked something to one of his lieutenants, and then grabbed the dwarf roughly by the shoulder. While we decide how we’re going to move, Svinn unfortunately beat us to the gun so to speak. The guy he waved over to us looks stiff with fear but trying to manage it somehow.

“I’m commissioning Shun a temporary field platoon with you as his second in command. You are to take your platoon and follow his orders to the teeth. If he says jump, you say how high. Keep them alive,” Svinn said though the last part was directed at me.

“What? But that was my command?” the officer he’s grabbed is surprised.

“You’re putting a non-dwarf in charge? That’s questionable. The town elders will have a fit,” Gyle’s mouth was hanging open in shock.

“Darn right I am. And both of you better do what he says if you want to live. No buts, in this,” Svinn said forcefully.

“But…”

“Shut up and do what I say,” Svinn said sounding like some dwarven version of John Wayne.

It’s hard to say no to someone so domineering and forceful like Svinn because he knows how to say things with such force and bluster.

We can already feel the ground shaking in parts of the city. I have a confused look wondering what it is, but Sunghee whispered in my ear, “The enemy is destroying buildings, probably with help of both magic and muscle. That’s what the tremors are from.”

I wonder what they were using. Dwarven buildings aren’t that easy to bust up, since they are made of stone.

“Gather your men. We need to move,” I said to the new guy that is like my little troop announcer carrying the orders to the men.

Around us Svinn’s men are already picking off goblins with their crossbows and have been for the last five minutes. Most of them get shot before coming within close combat range but not all of them. Its hard to keep track of everyone but steadily less dwarves are on the street than before as they know this is where real fighting is happening. Within seconds only fighting dwarves are left here.

The new lieutenant gives me and ugly look. “Why him though? He’s not even a dwarf. My family is related to the general. I should have a field commission,” he exclaimed. He’s looking at me skeptically wondering what’s so special about me or the two women with me. Of course his eyes rest a bit longer on each of the women.

“Just shut up and be a man. Follow him if you want to live. If I was you, I’d follow him too. But I’ve also got to hold this street since it’s the main road,” he said to him, pointing at me. Leave it to Svinn to not sugar coat things. I like the gruff confidence though he is carrying himself with. He’s ready to face things head on.

Still, I hadn’t expected the last part of what he said. But now all the dwarves are looking at me funny because of it.

And just like that Svinn is gone with his own men, rushing ahead to hack up goblins which he’s good at. He’s already gone to the front lines to keep his men alive and to hold this street. Even now in just a few seconds of talking two of his men were wounded, leaking blood like a sieve and one of them has a spear point sticking into his gut that’s been broken off while the dwarf is coughing up blood. His sharpshooters are trying to also take out goblins that have climbed onto the wooden house roofs and are trying to position themselves in sniping positions.

“Get that sniper now!” Svinn called out from not too far ahead of us. His men are trying to bust their asses to avoid getting killed and all around us total carnage now. Svinn himself is a close combat fighter not a range specialist. So he calls out the targets while taking out anything close by.

“How big is your platoon? What do you have?” I asked the lieutenant while we try to stay low behind the tipped over wagon that is our current fortification. Arrows are flying all around us. Before we move I have to know what cards I’ve got to play. The lieutenant has to try hard to not be distracted by shit flying all around us like goblin javelins, spears, and arrows. There’s also constant tremors in the ground and death screams of all kinds, and even blood spatter from all kinds of sources all less than a hundred feet from us.

Every now and then we hear a dwarf scream in pain when he’s hit directly.

We also have to shout because everyone else is shouting and it’s total chaos and carnage.

“Squad of twenty consisting of  ten front liners with armor equipment and body shields, a field medic, two scouts, one supply technician carrying reserve ammo, and five sharpshooters with good heavy crossbows with good training. All freshly minted from the training school and fully trained but not many have seen real combat sir,” he saluted. He still is giving me a look like why am I in charge but at least he’s following me.

Rina and Sunghee are flanking me on both sides with weapons drawn and ready to beat down evil while listening in. They are ready to strike and fearless knowing I’ve got their back. Some of the other veteran dwarves see it and are full of admiration. They know having real courage is where things happen, plus they both look good.

“We can work with that. It’s something at least,” Sunghee said quickly pulling Rina down with her to also talk with us. She knows they need encouragement to not succumb to their fear and I can see the fear even now on the lieutenant’s face and his man.

“Make sure you don’t stray from us,” Sunghee shouted at Rina, who looks bewildered and confused at what’s going on around us. Rina is very stiff and struggling to keep her morale right now I think.

“Have you seen any real combat?” I asked him. He talked about the unit being new but not himself.

He seems to whither under my study of his features and qualifications. He blushed and is still looking a bit scared. “Well…I defended my parents outer holdings from wolves a few times. But not real goblin or orc combat with real men and real armies. Their farm is in an area that hasn’t had much goblin activity. I came here for work through a connection of my father’s,” he blushed.

“Great, we have the newbie squad?” Rina exclaimed.

Actually it’s funny that Rina has more combat experience than this guy. And that guy doesn’t like it. He went to talk back at Rina but I held up my hand to stop him.

“Hey we worked hard to get here,” he protested.

“We can do it. They just need a bit of coaching,” Sunghee countered. The dwarf looks a bit brighter seeing the beautiful Sunghee has faith in him. But then he saw she’s hanging onto my arm.

Enemy fire continues to go off around us. We’re lucky this wagon was tipped over earlier by Svinn’s men for cover.

It’s actually weird to think Rina is a veteran over this dwarf. She’s come a long way hasn’t she? But she’s still not a pro or even stable yet. I’ll need to watch her carefully to keep her alive.

“Well they can be useful. You’ll have to keep them alive Shun. But since they are city guard they have chain mail. That’s worth something,” Sunghee said.

Armor…I like that.

Chainmail isn’t foolproof against arrows though. A lot of things can get through chain mail actually.

“That’s true,” I noted remembering that only government sponsored groups like armies and city guard are allowed armor because of state regulation and obscene costs.

Well somehow I’ve got to pull of some John Wayne moves to recover the lost dwarven parts of the city huh? And I don’t yet have the trust of the dwarven men under my command.

The lieutenant does look a bit too smug in his new shiny chain mail. He probably doesn’t even realize the cost of what he’s wearing. It’s also hard to think that these dwarves that are much smaller than us are so powerful and dense for their size.

“Order the squad to move. Follow and protect us. I want a front line with Sunghee in the center key holder position. Sharpshooters in back with Rina, and I will be in the center back with you lieutenant in the very middle of everyone. Back us up, and keep your courage up!” I barked.

We feel another big tremor. Then there are thick clouds of smoke rolling down the cavern following the air currents and carried to us from the nearby battle lines. The enemy is trying to burn anything they can and there’s a weird smell in the air of flesh burning.

Some of the men are coughing and swearing, while others are praying to the dwarven god or gods.

“Shit, they have ogres here. That’s a tremor matching an ogre smash,” I heard an experienced veteran dwarf with ring plaited bearding under Svinn’s command say.

Shit. He might be right. I hate ogres. They are scary as fuck. And even with my shielding I hate being near them. It’s like having a train wreck chase you, and not much different. I am sure they have a good chance of puncturing through my runic shielding.

The girls blinked a few times hearing that.

“Wait, did he say…” Rina’s voice died.

“Yeah he did,” the lieutenant said.

“Shun will save us,” Sunghee clapped her on the back adding to my pressure.

The men are falling into position quickly. They look like they’ve practiced this before, but I can still see a lot of anxiety. The lieutenant salutes. He gives some kind of signals and the platoon looks fierce and ready to move.

“I’ll follow you,” the lieutenant finally accepts me as he sees how bad it’s getting even right by us.

We do a fighting retreat. Even though Svinn is holding this street, he’s being constantly challenged for it with most of the enemies facing form in front but there are stragglers that sometimes come from behind. His men look tough and he’s got the true veterans because this street is directly in front of the gate house that was first taken but back a good hundred meters.

We have to make our way to the position Svinn indicated that is a chokehold spot that can make or break holding the city defense.

Here and there we also see dwarves with crossbows peaking out of building windows and trying to hit stray goblins. Some of them try to cover for us, but they are having a hard time too.

“Go, I’ll be reinforced soon. And if you get a chance reinforce 2nd west, and 3rd west after if you can tie down 1st west! Hurry,” Svinn said as we were moving back.

“Go, go, go,” I said.

“The street we’re heading to is called 1st west. Another dwarven platoon is going to start going down and taking 1st east, and 2nd east, but we have to hurry before the goblins can dig in and fortify themselves in,” the lieutenant said quickly.

“Good to know,” Rina acknowledged.

Another tremor, it sounds like it’s not too far from us but on another street, probably west of here. It subsided for a bit but I’m sure it won’t be the last time we’ve heard it.

The dwarven streets and houses are much smaller and more concentrated to save space and be efficient. So the streets and blocks here look something like a long street and another street parallel to it with two rows of houses in between all the way up the street. But the backyards are still long very long for garden, work, shop space, etc, thus the blocks still aren’t flat rectangular but very close to being still resembling a rectangle that’s close but not quite a square. At the end of the street it at another point will be cut off another perpendicular street. I guess their architects and builders don’t mind that there often isn’t much variation between each house, but they are still beautiful houses.

The enemy is shooting a lot of stuff at us but the runic shielding is somehow holding with my shielding units up front with their body shields to compound it.

“Stay under cover while we push up,” I barked.

It’s not that simple. They followed. They did what I asked.

But I had to say it with fierceness. They were all looking at me looking for any sign of fear or weakness. If I didn’t show some backbone they would have buckled and ran because the goblin arrow swarms are scary and not fun with a competent goblin sub-commander somewhere out there.

While we’re moving my sharpshooters are going non-stop. Even though Svinn has this street blocked, there are goblins behind our lines somehow that have come over from other streets. Where possible they are trying to stay under cover but there isn’t always cover available.

“We got this,” Sunghee said, dispatching the first two goblins that came close to us almost instantly before I can even order an attack. I like it. She doesn’t wait and is deadly with coordinated strikes and sure technique. She cut the two goblins down so fast the newbie dwarves barely could blink in time. Sunghee doesn’t even flinch and is totally ruthless making it look like little league baseball even though it’s noisy and still chaotic.

Three more goblins go down from my sharpshooters. In spite of early success I’m having them move quietly and somewhat slow to be sure we take stuff out before we get in over our heads. Those dwarven sharpshooters are barely holding it together. Somehow this time it worked out.

I can feel the tension and uncertainty of the men still with sweat pouring down their faces. They are all afraid to die right now. Even their long hated ancestral enemy goblins, can’t completely shake the fear that they’ll die today.

It’s slow moving, with a lot of emphasis on outgunning the enemy snipers.

Their sub-commander is somewhere out there too. We can’t see him, but he tries to reposition the goblins to outthink us, and outnumber us. Several times I have to pull back again, and then reposition the squad with their men.

Then the enemy sub-commander tried to counter me again. It was Sunghee that tipped me off to this. She’s used to war tactic like skirmishes and has it figured out that there’s a brain shuffling the enemy’s board at times to work against us.

It wavers back and forth like this while at all times trying to think like what the enemy sub-commander is trying to do.

He’s good. He knows how to try to shuffle his pieces for the best effectiveness. He’s seen several battles and surprised me with some of the repositioning tactics he used. If only I can figure out where he’s hiding and how he’s watching us then I’ll get him.

“Shun, that sub-commander isn’t normal. We have to find him,” Sunghee warned me not for the first time.

Fifty meters to the next street intersection, and from there we’ll go west to cross over to get to 1st west. It’s tough work, even when we’re winning. But even with the wins, we still have to shift over and over again to counter that goblin sub-commander.

A few moments later, we had confirmation with some kind of strange goblin chirp signals being identified as the enemy signal carriers via an aged dwarf that was near us.

I need to trust Sunghee more. She’s right.

I let loose two quick volleys of star missiles and they take out two goblin snipers on the roofing west of us. The snipers are the worst parts to deal with so far and the biggest danger because their goal is to pin us down and stop us from moving more than it is to kill us.

“WoohoO! We have a mage!” the dwarves take up the cheer. They are glad to have extra firepower. I had thought they might distrust it, but they’ll take anything to kill goblins. And they see that with a mage their survivability goes up too.

They’re taking hope, but still scared out of their wits. It’s visibly shaken them that the enemy had gotten in their walls.

Still no signal regarding the location of the enemy sub-commander several minutes later.

I let loose another volley and got another goblin sniper right after that. But the snipers are all over the place. The goblins have been planning this for awhile and it’s messed up that they know the best rooftop firing positions so early in the game when they shouldn’t know anything about this city.

That’s the first hint of this not being just a raid.

“How did they get on the roofs so fast?” Rina asked, her thoughts mirroring mine. She’s right to ask that.

“Their snipers equip like a hooked climbing spur on their shoes and on their wrists. Then they use it to gain a position to shower death on their enemies. Traditional tactics to stop them are to get their snipers out first before they can pick us off but you are the boss,” the lieutenant said.

Turns out he has done his homework and studied goblin warfare tactics effectively. I didn’t know the goblin range specialists did that either actually.

How the enemy has a map of the city is disturbing though. And the dwarves need to know that. But I can’t risk sending people back to Svinn yet with that intel until I’ve secured a foothold and made the way back safer.

Thirty meters to the intersection…

Another set of those goblin chirp signals detected by Sunghee. We learned that those also signal the enemy repositioning strategies. But that doesn’t’ make it easier to fight them. Sometimes we have to use dwarven houses to help us defend with still as minimal property damage as possible but it’s not easy. Some of the dwarves hacked up yard fences to use for makeshift arrow cover.

We had to reposition again and fake to draw out the enemy three times when getting close to the intersection.

Then the enemy sub-commander somehow tried to fake us into chewing too deep into enemy territory. That made me have to override my lieutenant who almost fell for it, thinking the goblins were running but in actuality they were trying to concentrate snipers on the left string of roofs.

Sunghee slapped my lieutenant to make him listen to me. Finally he gave in.

I let loose three more volleys while moving. But these goblins are tougher than the others. A volley of four missiles takes out a single goblin, not three or four goblins like my pride would want to happen.

Three more dead goblins, but why are they so tough? The previous goblins I’d faced aren’t this strong or weren’t anyway.

“We can do it!” Sunghee cries out with her challenge.

“See that? You guys almost fell for the enemy trap,” I said after the enemy snipers were killed. They were all hunched over in death at just the right spot that could have given them a clean set of pincer shots at the backs of dwarves that would have charged forward stupidly.

The dwarves are grim faced seeing it.

Still haven’t got a clue on that sub-commander. And I can’t talk about it too much to the men because knowing the enemy has a very, very clever sub-commander will shake them up.

Ten meters to the intersection…

“Crap. They hold the street. Look out! Ambush!” Sunghee warns us just in time.

Just out of sight and to the west the goblins have a full platoon already holding the street. It’s also a problem that goblin platoons are bigger than dwarven platoons. It’s a perfect ambush; they’d used the cover of the buildings and had been trying to cut off dwarves that had been going to reinforce Svinn. If we hadn’t gotten here in time he and his men would have been cut off.

The dwarves are swearing and crying out in anguish as the goblin platoon surges towards us. They have about thirty and leaders while we only have twenty three.

Rina is trying her best to get the hang of the sling and sling bullet system, while interchanging it with a spear thrust before backing off. She knows I don’t like her anywhere near the front line since we both know the goblins always try to capture her to steal her away. She still misses way too much but she’s showing courage and I can keep her alive.

Sunghee is a dancing death wielder while she continues to cut away at anything that gets close.

But the goblin platoon is too big. This was a coordinated attack to meet and stop our own. They probably thought they’d crush us with superior numbers and send us back running away. My sharpshooters have already reloaded and fired. Two goblins go down, with two others wounded, and a miss.

My protection shielding is holding so far on key people.

“Hold steady!” the dwarven lieutenant yells to his brethren.

Right before the goblin line was about to smash into ours I hit my wall of force spell making a chokepoint. “Opening is on the right,” I hinted to Sunghee as the goblin platoon slams into the transparent glass like wall. The idea is to not cut off the goblins entirely, since then they’d just go around and kill someone elsewhere but to have a murder hole that we can gang up on them at while they are still figuring out what’s up. The dwarves are cheering as they see we have a good chokepoint while the goblin leader in the back is creaming profanity.

True to my word the fence barrier is purposefully allowing only a few goblins at a time to stream through on the right while we can gang up on them and cut them down. Five goblins get through and then two more, while we cut down three of them. It keeps going like this with a good choke hold on them. We keep mowing them down this way easily for the next minute or so.

“Victory is ours!” the fanatical lieutenant screams. The dwarves are getting into it now but I hope he doesn’t rile them up too much. The lieutenant is good for morale at least but his skills still kind of suck actually. He stumbled about barely blocking a goblin attack that was going straight for me. He seems kind of like a zealot though.

Then I had to put runic shielding on two more dwarves to avoid having them skewered on goblin spears. The enemy sub-commander is at his worst again. He almost got a clever side sneak attack in with some suicidal goblins waiting in a nearby house doorway. Sunghee helped me save their necks this time but it was a close shave.

In a matter of minutes the street is full of dead goblins from the concentrated fire and crowd control move.

If I can’t been here to pinpoint defensive shielding we’d have lost a lot of dwarves in just this spot alone. This would have been a dwarven version of hamburger hill. The ambush spots here are like a dozen alone. I have to back us up several times to reposition to outthink the enemy again. It also helps to minimize the number of snipers that can fire versus the enemy snipers.

“I can’t believe it. I’m….alive!” Rina exclaimed with wide eyes.

“Just don’t let go of Shun’s belt,” Sunghee said to her.

She nodded back.

“Hold! Pull back! Enemy repositioning!” I screamed at them with horror.

Shit.

Just in time we narrowly avoided another enemy ambush.

Several fully ignited huge flaming barrels of ignited dwarven alcohol rolled down the hill where my body shield front line used to be. Those barrels were enormous. It’s scary that whatever they hit at the bottom of the slope is going to be burning like crazy.

“Hold it steady!” Sunghee covers for me to signal the men while I’m still trying to read the enemy movements.

“We can do this!” Gyle yelled. I’d almost forgotten about him. I had him this whole time protecting Rina as my primary concern. Sometimes he’s using his crossbow but he’s also ready to fight close combat anytime he needs too. But I worry he doesn’t have as many crossbow bolts as the city guard dwarves.

“I think we’re good. Should be safe to move forward again,” Sunghee confirms for me while I sweat bullets.

I’m going to have nightmares over this engagement. So many lives depend on me.

“Platoon march west to 1st west!” I barked.

The lieutenant confirmed the order. “We’re invincible!” he cried.

“You want me to slap him again?” Sunghee whispered.

I am so worried about the goblins I didn’t respond.

“Shift formation to the right side of the street again. Use those roof eaves for cover!” I called out.

The dwarves are quick to see that side has extra protection but only for another twenty feet of advancing.

The goblin sub-commander signals his side too. Somehow his calls sound both harsh and desperate. He’s still clever but I’m managing to push him.

But it works well on the men in our little troop.

“Um…we’re not that invincible,” Sunghee says to choke his enthusiasm while she gives me an odd look. We’re both afraid they’ll start acting stupid now and suicidal from not being careful.

“If he tries to get us to charge the enemy, I’m not going to follow blindly,” Sunghee warned me.

We still have to keep firing at goblins going down the line of interconnecting roofs. This street was in the outer ring and not a poor area, but like people who had lived on the frontier and were very blue collar. So unlike where I’d seen mortar and stone housing before, this particular street has wooden housing and cabins kind of like what you might see in our home world. So the goblins can move about on the roofs easily enough.

I have to also not burn all my mana at once too. So I can’t put shielding on all twenty dwarves right away because I don’t know what will happen.

“I can’t believe so many are still alive?!” Rina said at one point right before I pulled her under cover so goblin snipers didn’t get her.

Using the fence barrier cost me 8% mana. And the shielding and magic missile volleys were another 4%. I was lucky I wasn’t using very much so far. Then I had gained another 2% of mana back from mana recharging, while holding my mana steady at close to 90%. It’s good I’ve become proficient enough with magic missiles and shielding that I barely feel a hit when casting them now. But over time that can add up.

One hundred fifty meters left to first west.

“Reposition. The enemy is trying for another sneak attack!” Sunghee warned me.

“Which way?!” I cried out.

“Go south and west again to pull back. Then recover after drawing them out!” Sunghee warned me.

“Do it!” I yelled.

The men desperately rush to follow my orders. It forces the enemy sniper shots to go wild because their range is extended too far.

“Hold position with max arrow cover!” I called out.

“But we can get them!” the lieutenant wants me to move forward again.

“Let them burn out their shots a few minutes. Then we move,” I countered.

Then we had to reposition to the right side when the goblin sub-commander tried to concentrate his snipers again to counter me.

Still no idea where he’s at; I’m starting to hate that guy whoever he is. But I’m also awed at some of the schemes he’s come up with. Some of them are that good. Does his own leader appreciate the game piece he has?

There are more goblins roaming free here. They must be trying to pull stuff over to rally from streets around nearby to stop our advance. Our forward momentum has been too strong and that will shake up the goblin offensive.

So now they are making it up with sheer terror and vicious executions, gutting of civilians out in the open. I can see them openly hacking up dwarven civilians wherever they have an opportunity and human traders in the streets. Some of them are trying to fight back but it’s hard and their thirst for blood is just starting. They didn’t leave home with weapons that day, not believing the wall would be compromised and now they are paying for it. Our sharpshooters saved a dwarven woman trying to run away with a baby, but another bald dwarf we didn’t make it in time to save from a cutthroat raider goblin. His friends are busting up the guy’s handcart stand that had been used for selling produce in the street. Gyle did manage to shoot him in the chest and the goblin falls over but the guy he attacked is already dead by the time we get there.

Svinn didn’t fully realize how many goblins have come down this section of the city yet. He sent me into the worst of it without even realizing it.

Sunghee helps me stay ahead of the enemy sub-commander again. But without her I’d have been outflanked again.

The enemy had used the gutting of dwarven civilians out in the open to try to force us to overextend ourselves to save them. Nearby I can see his sniper positioning would have rained down mercilessly over us. I doubt runic shielding spam could have kept up with it.

I shot off three more volleys to save two townspeople that are now gathering behind us for protection and to help out. The problem is they aren’t dressed for war. A lot of them are just carrying whatever tools they had available, usually knives or occasionally a hatchet. So even if I put the civilian mob volunteers to work a lot of them would die.

Sunghee helps me keep order. I can see she’s done this before.

By the time we move another fifty meters, she’s pointing out where to move the civilian volunteers while the lieutenant is concentrating on helping us spot goblin snipers.

There are way more goblin snipers here than I like. Several times I slow or stop our march temporarily while we try to relieve the cover fire positions of the enemy. There are at least twice as many as on the previous street. It doesn’t take long before one more of my dwarven recruits are hit.

Shit. That’s what I was trying to stop. But even with high powered defensive magic shielding if enough arrows are flying around some of them will sometimes get through on someone.

“Boss the resistance is getting heavier,” the lieutenant yells.

“Of course it is. That enemy commander just repositioned again,” Sungee warned me.

Sure enough she’s right.

“Hang on,” I said.

Sometimes hang on is the best answer when it’s fierce fighting like now.

“We’ll get through it,” Sunghee coaches him.

“Steady!” Sunghee barked for me. I like her; she doesn’t wait to be told what to do. Having Sunghee calming them and being steady helps when I’m trying to make up trying to figure out what the hell is going on. I mean I have the battle in front of me, but when like fifty things are all moving all at once it’s very intimidating and hard to focus and keep up with the action.

“Medic!” the lieutenant screamed. Our medic is moving forward.

“You concentrate on the poison and getting the arrow out first,” I order him before he can say anything.

I used a heal spell and a regenerate after the goblin arrow is pushed out, which makes a lot of the dwarves gasp.

Man that looked bad. That wound was a shitty deal even for arrow wounds.

I’m worried that my secret is out. But if I let a town get destroyed I don’t deserve to have this ability anyway. I just hope I can get protection after this from people that target mages. I can already hear a few whispers and gasps of ‘we have a mage’ from some of the survivors.

The wound on the wounded dwarf is closing thanks to the regeneration spell and we save his life in time. But he’s still in bad shape and not fully war worthy right now. Well technically it was a deep shoulder would, he probably would have lived anyway. The glow of the light blue mana is visible in the air and the dwarves are now staring at me with hero worship. They chatter too much though and now there are all kinds of rumors and whispering.

“Concentrate on fighting dammit! Don’t slack off!” Sunghee yells at the dwarves.

“Use your head, don’t rush. Wait for them to come to you,” I said.

The sharpshooters are having a hard time now. Crossbows take time to reload between shots even if you are good with them. But our sharpshooters have a better position now that I’ve repositioned twice over to avoid an enemy crossfire tactic.

We’re at a complete stop while we treat dwarves and have to pause to cover ourselves while a multitude of snipers are around us. Thankfully my front line all has body shields in addition to armor, so now all of us are crowding behind the line of ten shield bearers. Even sunghee has to be careful here, even though she has a buckler.

I let loose three more magic missile volleys and four goblin snipers die, but now I have to renew shielding on Sunghee and Rina. Even if Svinn put me in charge of this platoon they are still first priority and the dwarves will have to deal with it.

Then I slipped a heal back on that arrow wound guy again.

Gyle seems to be holding his own. He’s also coaching the civilians that are joining us. He looks scared though and he’s not faced something this big before. I doubt very many dwarves have.

We managed to save two more dwarf civilians that were able to run from a burning building thanks to our cover support with Gyle and the Lieutenant coaching them on when to run.

“Go Shun! You just saved those people! Awesome!” Rina cheered.

“We won’t be much good if we get reckless. Make sure you don’t underestimate him,” Sunghee warned me. She knows I’m doing good but her glance at the dwarven lieutenant shows she’s worried the dwarves will think they’ve won too prematurely and get stupid.

The dwarves are taking courage but it can backfire too. It’s a nice feeling, but it’s also a heavy responsibility too. If I go down the whole line will collapse because the goblin sniper fire is so fierce. Because of it, neither Sunghee, Rina, or the Lieutenant will let me get on the front line. They insist on keeping my covered behind the body shield wielding dwarves.

I put two more runic shielding spells hanging on the body shield front line dwarves that are closest to Sunghee. I have to wait and time the others spaced out though to save power.

Sunghee managed to salvage two goblin javelins and threw them back to kill a wounded goblin sniper. Then my sharpshooters took out two more snipers. But they are still being reinforced from the back.

My mana core seems to be keeping up…but this is a lot of spellwork. It will take its toll on me soon.

“Gyle I need you to get some makeshift homemade shields or something for the dwarf civilians joining us. Use wagons if you have them or even wheelbarrows. Wooden box covers, wooden bed boards or roof pieces, absolutely whatever you can get your hands on. Anything to keep people alive,” I barked.

“I’m on it,” he said. He runs into action right away.

The wounded dwarf is back on his feet now. There’s almost no sign he was hit except for a bit of torn fleshs till and the medic is astonished, since it was a bad poisoning case earlier. But you can tell he still looks a bit pale from whatever nasty shit was in the goblin arrow. The medic is still keeping an eye on him.

We had a narrow miss when a group of snipers decided to target my lieutenant with about five other snipers. The runic shielding broke on the fourth arrow and the fifth arrow glanced off his shield at the last second.

I shoot down another two snipers next, beating my own sharpshooters. Some of them are down from it, but others are that much happier that it’s now a shooting competition. But that reminds me these are real people with real values and individual differences. Some of the sharpshooters have straw hats while others have bandannas. Most of them probably grew up on farms, trying to hunt wild game to put on the table. Most of them are dressed differently from another too, since these are civilian volunteer militia and not outright military. Some of them are fearful, but others look courageous.

But with everything…they are definitely real people. Real people that will die if I don’t save them.

Then another dwarf is wounded. The medic and I concentrate on getting him back up just in the nick of time. He’s saved again.

Damn it. I resist swearing out loud even though I think it, because if the men see I’m losing my cool it will add to their fear.

“This is crazy. Where they are coming from?” Rina asked. She’s less klutzy than she used to be but still needs improvement.

And still no enemy sub-commander position located.

“We’ll get them. Just hang tight and stay in formation. Don’t think too much, just focus on killing them fast,” Sunghee countered.

“Stay down,” I warned Rina. She yelped as I yanked her backwards.

“She’s right. If you worry about them swarming you’ll just get scared,” one of the older dwarves said. Good I like the mature attitude.

It takes us another five minutes but we finally choke the goblin sniper team ruthlessly putting them out of commission when we were able to cut off their freshly arriving troops from behind them. After that they died fast.

Still they were good experienced snipers, probably having studied murder their whole lives. It’s sad and pathetic if you consider how poor they are. A lot of them look like they are dressed in leather rags and loincloth belts with symbols of violence carved into their body in some sort of knife scar tattoos, and feather headdresses.

How many more teams of snipers are there?

Mana feels like approximately 86%, which is remarkable considering we’ve done a lot already but a lot of the load was shared by the team in our combined effort. It’s also doing better than before because of being soul linked to Fox’s mana pool so much more than before even.

We pushed another fifty feet and we’re getting close to the intersection of 1st west.

We can do this! We will take this street back!

I can see the dwarves getting hopeful. They want this. They know every street we hold means civilians can pull back and be saved from torturous violent deaths.

We then managed to rescue another whole family of dwarves. But they are mostly a young family so I force the dad to leave with his kids instead of helping us. Like a pile of six kids leaving that house means if I have their dead on the front lines then there will be six orphans and a widow. His sons are too small to help too and look like younger than teenagers.

But the next house we managed to save another dwarven young couple. Hell they look like they just got married but are coated in soot and dust from war damage to the city. They are bloody but it’s mostly stuff like skinned knees and arms from when part of the ceiling of their house was caved in somehow. They are both armed well but they have like zero defense like everyone else here. What’s worth is they are naive as hell, coming out running while still holding hands.

Well…I guess that’s not too different than how I act with Asakura and Sunghee but hey I have to think they are idiots still.

The dwarves have turned two metal wheelbarrows into shielding by having two dwarves each pushing them up as we advance slowly while holding them with the bowl shape in front and crouching low. Some of the other dwarves have resorted to holding up building signs and broken tables for cover from arrows. They pass on tactics that work and won’t work as we move along. Some of the building debris will probably also be used for holding off street intersections later.

It seems right now our biggest threat so far has been arrow fire and the goblins prefer trying to pick us off and weaken us instead of challenging us outright with a group. But that too will change once they get a big enough group of them together and a champion.

“Hold up! We have an enemy team closing on our position! They’ve managed to spot our advance and are pushing hard! Brace for impact,” the lieutenant barked.

“We can get them!” Sunghee responded quickly before the morale of our growing group of defenders melted.

The sharpshooters still are trying to get new goblin sniper arrivals out of the way.

Bad timing…

“Fuck. They have an ogre leader,” one of the dwarves…the scout I think exclaimed. The scouts have been silent up till now since most of what was coming at us was pretty obvious. They look alarmed with the ogre though.

So this was where one of the ogres is? I had thought at least one of them would go down the street that Svinn had been holding.

“So that’s what the tremors were coming from. Shit, he looks strong as an ox and twice as big,” the other scout accidentally blurted out.

“Stow that shit, your messing with morale,” the lieutenant said. He’s kind of a drama queen but at least he does the job. He needs to understand that goblins aren’t weak and stupid more than he currently does.

I let loose a magic missile volley into the enemy. I get four wounded but they are barely blinking. Dang. I need to concentrate fire more.

The dwarves get really somber and serious as we see some of the biggest group of goblins I’ve ever seen marching at us with almost a full run from about fifty meters away.

“The enemy commander is at it again,” Sunghee warned me.

“I hate ogres,” I hear some of the dwarves muttering to each other. There also a few odd dwarven swear words I don’t recognize but stand out in the way they exclaim them.

What’s even worse, because not all the ground behind us is secure, the civilian dwarves hanging in the back sometimes have to stop and engage stray goblins that somehow had dropped down from roofing or climbed over things. That’s bad timing, since I’ll need all my attention in front of me.

“Boss, we’ll need your help with the ogre,” the lieutenant says quickly. Already my line is bracing for impact. I let loose two quick cast volleys while the enemy platoon is rushing us. Two goblins fall.

Is that all I can do? How come I’m not packing more punch in my attack magic? Or maybe they are just really strong goblins? Crap. They have two platoons of thirty each led by the same ogre. There’s a lot more of them than I thought there would be.

Twenty meters and closing…

“Front line brace for impact,” I called out to the front body shield dwarves.

I let loose another volley, one dies, and another wounded. These are definitely veteran tough goblins. I’m amazed I can even kill one per magic missile volley. Even while dying they still want to stay up. This guy here falls from the roof onto the ground, sliding down from the roof.

At ten meters they are almost upon us and the fire from both sides is getting fierce.

Two dwarves are wounded at that point, hit in the back by stray arrow fire that had been intended to hit my shield bearers.

“On it,” the medic calls out courageously without being asked. I like him. He jumps at the danger as fast as he can rather than being a scared pansy in the back. He doesn’t hesitate at all. One of the scouts is helping him, keep pressure on the blood flow.

I cast a barrier fence spanning the entire street, making the dwarves cheer. I would have preferred leaving a murder hole zone in it but the ogre has me taking precautions until he can be dealt with. To my surprise to the goblins accidentally trample over each other as they slam into the wall.  

The ogre too is trying to break the barrier fence as soon as it’s up.

“Shit, he knows what that is Shun. He’s trying to puncture the barrier!” Sunghee cried out.

Crap.

“Wait! He can’t do that? He can’t do that right Shun!” Rina is shaking my left arm in panic.

“Sh-she’s right!” gasped the lieutenant.

“He can’t do that can he?” I asked calmly.

“How the hell is he crushing a barrier fence into duct?!” Sunghee said right after.

“I don’t know. But ogres can sometimes do some very strange things. Things not explainable by normal physics because they are so freaking strong,” the lieutenant said calmly trying to hold his fear in check. He wants to flee it looks like. And he’s not the only one.

I don’t like ogres. Damnit. Why ogres? Hell I remember the last one still way back with Akira and we’d barely survived because he was there. This one is bigger than the last ogre I saw too. His forearms are thicker than the goblins chests are even. He’s shouting a bellow that can probably be heard for miles as he’s trying to crack my mana fence.

Is it just me or did a crack appear? He hits the same spot again and the crack gets a tiny bit larger, but is still less than four inches long.

Damn. I thought that fence was impenetrable?!

Shit.

This guy isn’t just an ogre. He’s got some kind of special skill I think for anti-fortifications.

This guy is an enemy leader of some kind also. He’s definitely boss level strength and probably it was no mistake that I ran into him. Somehow goblin scouts must have alerted to him of our advancing position earlier and he was sent to put us in check. It means he’s dangerous as hell.

My sharpshooters got two more goblins that fall from the roof tops, while I put runic shielding on two more dwarves.

But with no warning, energy life tapped the medic. Since he’s not a mage it’s not a big deal and I didn’t take enough to hurt him. He doesn’t care. He’s not got a lot of mana but somehow I got about five percent of my energy back. Then I did the same to Sunghee sucking up mana from her and now I’ve recovered what I used to put up the fence.

Without stopping I then spammed runic shielding on all of the rest of my front line dwarves. Hell I even have a little bit left over. I’m close to 84% mana now, but if I hadn’t done the energy life tap I would have been at around 72%.

I’ll need a lot to kill the ogre. And it’s not a guarantee I’ll win. I can’t underestimate him.

The ogre continues to scream a battle roar that sends fear into my entire squad. Some of them even dropped weapons, among my civilian volunteers that had joined us. That battle roar was probably heard about three blocks away it was so frightening.

The goblins are now feeling their way around the edge of the barrier looking for a way around it while we concentrate our crossbow fire on first taking out their snipers.

Three more goblins die from bolts, and then I’ve killed two more with magic missiles. Then I spam a heal on the injured dwarf again.

“Nice job!” Sunghee shouts, also still hanging back.

Other dwarves are joining us too. More civilians and even a few stray city gaurds that have lost their previous platoons as they see we’re making a difference and have a chance to push them out.

“I energy tapped a dwarf that volunteered for it. He looked a bit dizzy but somehow barely stayed on his feet. I then got about 4 percent mana back, plus or minus. Some of the other dwarves are volunteering for it but that guy looks a bit woozy so I have the medic give him some medicine.

Then we spam more magic missiles over about ten minutes with the goblins now having lost the rest of their sharpshooters for these two platoons. They are down to about thirty, after they received a few more reinforcements of ten goblins each.

Still the ogre is unchecked.

Around us crowds are joining on both sides as they see this is where a lot of the pivotal action is taking place. There are goblin strays joining their side out of the alleys and woodwork to concentrate power, just like dwarven civilians joining ours.

But the ogre surprised me. He outsmarted me in a way. He disappeared after we shot down about six more goblins while my scouts are calling out to identify the ogre’s position to everyone available. Everyone knows the ogres is trouble and has us outclassed so it’s almost like the same type of nervous excitement that someone saying ‘bomb’ in an airport security station might have when seeing their reactions.

“Shun! I’ve lost sight of that ogre!” Sunghee warned me at the same time I’m trying to find it. This is like saying nobody can see where a German panzer tank is, and we all know it’s right on top of us.

I hear several dwarves cursing dwarven swear words and shaking in their boots while others grab for cover.

“Hold together!” I shouted.

The others echoed the command to try to keep their morale up and I can feel Rina’s shaking hands clutching at the back of my jacket.

There’s not ten seconds pass, and then I hear his scream of rage as he literally punched through a wooden house that was at the edge of my barrier fence. The whole side of that house collapsed as the ogre literally MADE his own way to get around our trying to trap him. He’s swining pretty hard with crushing blows at dwarven civilians before we can react.

Some of them get out of the way in time, but others are turned into meat pies.

Fuck. I didn’t know he was strong enough to do that.

Now I have a murder hole where we can face them off but the goblins are pouring through it faster than I like while I’m trying to motivate the dwarves. They’ve followed him through taking advantage of his positioning.

That goblin commander did something I didn’t think was even possible with this!

“Take no prisoners!” screamed my lieutenant.

Really that’s the best he can come up with?

Rina has even managed to kill two goblins this whole time. It’s not much but for her that she could even hit something has shocked the hell out of me. She’s hopping up and down madly excited that she was able to do something.

But she’s coughing again so I have to slip a regeneration spell on her.

“Sunghee help!” I yelped as the ogre is trying to charge us.

I managed to hit him with my stun ray, which shoots out when I fire the spell, much like a precision laser. The ogre trips it and goes down hitting the ground that is becoming mucky and bloody from all the goblin blood spilled around us. The sound of him hitting the ground was a deep boom because he’s freaking troll sized.

“I need a wall facing that hole now! Reposition!” I yelled.

The dwarves move with pure rage. They are seeing blood and want their town to live and to murder every goblin they can. Somehow our courage is helping them hang onto theirs but I’m worried about what will happen when my stun wears off on that monster flesh tank.

But this kind of fighting is harder to control the losses now.

Sunghee managed to stab the ogre repeatedly while it’s on the ground stunned but she’s not able to damage it fast enough before the stun is going to wear off. There’s also too many goblins and dwarves fully engaged to protect everyone all at once.

I cast the circle of protection spell centered on me. Most of my platoon, including Sunghee are within its range and I can feel its generating a lot of stability to my runic shielding; it even makes the shields glow with strange runes glowing in a fiery glow on the shields.

Then I hit two more volleys of magic missiles to burn the ogre.

Shit! The fucker is getting up! Sunghee shares my anguish.

The lieutenant is also trying to cut up the ogre too but all the rest of my front line is just trying to keep being overrun by goblins pushing at them.

I cast two regeneration spellls quickly on the two dwarves behind us that were wounded after the medic alerts me quickly that the arrows are out. He’s dealing with the poison now too.

“We can do this men!” the lieutenant screamed. He’s kind of an excitable fellow. He should be more afraid but is some kind of zealot. I will probably want to stear clear of him after this conflict.

Rina and Gyle managed to team up to pick off two more goblins.

I can’t use the paladin holy light right now either because the demon genes are too active now. If I try to use it before stabilizing it again I will probably explode or burn to death instantly or have my arm turn into a silly puddy mess.

The ogre is getting up already.

Shit. Shit, shit.

Sunghee is being shaken like a rag doll, while I spam runic shielding on her three times in a row while the ogre is trying to basically hammer her body into goblin spears next to him carried by his allies. I barely manged to keep the runic shielding up and the dwarves are scared to fight this guy because he’s so freaking vicious.

The only reason Sunghee isn’t a meat pie of bloody flesh is that I’m casting runic shielding on her endlessly even if it kills me from mana withdrawl. I can’t lose Sunghee!

“Shun! HelpPPPPPPPPPP!” Sunghee is screaming while the ogre’s fist is wrapped around her waist.

Even worse…she lost her weapon when its other hand ripped it out of her hands. She did manage to kick it in the eye.

There’s only one way to save her…but who knows what kind of fallout this will cause.

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