Chapter 110 (Part 2)
One of the experiences Harold had acquired from his very thorough playthroughs of ‘Brave Hearts’ was to play by imposing himself a sort of handicap. This handicap consisted of composing the one’s party of only Liner, Colette, Francis and Hugo, who could all hardly use any magic or ranged attacks.
Since most of their techniques were close or mid-ranged, and given that their recovery spells were not sufficient to heal themselves, it was necessary for the player to be particularly precise with their defense and their coordination when using them together.
Back then, Harold had found it to be extremely arduous to use that combination of characters to fight against opponents such as the combo demon, Harold Stokes, the melee expert, Vincent, and the last boss, Justus, who fought by firing storms of highly powerful, long-ranged attacks.
That being said, it was thanks to that laborious playthrough that he knew. He knew they could not reach the current ‘Harold’.
More importantly, in the past, Harold had already prepared counter-measures in case the party were to become hostile towards him one day. Indeed, it was in preparation for such times that Harold had kept fighting all by himself against Sid and the others, as well as Isaac and his squad, for almost two months straight.
Of course, Liner and the rest of the party were much tougher opponents. Still, those days of training had undeniably helped him learn how to instantly tell when he should dodge or block while being attacked from every direction.
A long halberd came down and was easily dodged by Harold. The attack did not have enough power to destroy the ground upon landing, so there was no way it could have been a threat.
Hugo naturally tried to raise the halberd back up and fix his stance, but Harold used the power of that lift to kick himself off the halberd’s long handle and jump up, neatly avoiding the thrust of Francis’ weapon, who had been right behind him.
Harold’s jump pushed him three meters up in the sky, yet that did nothing to stop a fleet of arrows from coming for him immediately after. Only a few of those seemed like they could hit, and they were all blocked by his sword.
However, Harold soon found out this was only a distraction.
The frontal attacks of the four’s combined efforts had been coming from every direction, blocking all of Harold’s escape routes. This left him with a single path of escape; jumping to the sky. But the only thing waiting for him there were Erica’s arrows. This barely but unavoidably diverted his attention, making it impossible for him to completely dodge the spell that was fired by Lifa through her own brand of magic, backed up by the power of science and Justus’ guidance.
This coordinated attack between the group of six was beyond what could be achieved in the game. It was a truly splendid display of cooperation. Or rather, it could have been, if Harold hadn’t already seen through it.
The truth of matter was that, while Harold had been dealing with the attacks of Liner and the others, the ones he had been the most wary of were Lifa and Erica, as they could both use very powerful spells.
Given the circumstances, he had already anticipated that Lifa would be the one dealing the finishing blow.
After all, the rest of the group had been in the middle of a chaotic fight against him, and they had all been standing 3 meters below him at the moment of the attack. As long as they were gathered together, using a large-scale spell that could reach the surroundings would be too difficult. Hence why Harold was daring to face them one by one.
Moreover, Harold knew that the power and speed of Erica’s arrows made them the ideal attack to restrain him from a distance. Having fought alongside Erica before, the rest of the group was surely well aware of that, too. Therefore, the optimal choice was clearly to let Erica restrain Harold, and let Lifa attack.
But Harold’s specialty was speed, so if Lifa was going to attack him with her magic, she would most likely have to pick her fastest spell, ‘Bolt Lance’.
Indeed, using that spell would be her best chance to land a hit. Although the attack was not powerful enough to defeat Harold in a single blow, it could still induce complete paralysis.
However, that spell happened to belong to the attribute Harold was the most proficient at using, the lightning attribute. By the time he had blocked the group of arrows aiming at him, he had been fully ready to fire that very same spell.
Harold fired his spell at almost the same time as Lifa, and her Bolt Lance was easily swallowed by his. As the two identical attacks cancelled each other out, they turned into a blinding light, more powerful then the light of the sun in the clear sky.
Everyone in the party reflexively looked away and closed their eyes. When they opened them back after a short moment of silence, they found Harold calmly standing there, without a single bruise on him.
【”…Is that all you’ve got?”】
Unlike what his words of disappointment seemed to imply, Harold had actually barely made it.
The only reason he had been been able to avoid taking any damage was that he had no intention to attack and was fully focused on dodging. This would have been a whole different story if he had been intending to defeat the whole party. Then again, the final decisive battle had never been closer, so injuring the party now was the last thing Harold wanted. He had to avoid that at all cost.
But considering the events that were coming, it would not be a good idea for Harold to let himself get injured either. If that was going to happen, then it was better for him to escape directly and ignore the bad blood between him and the party. However…
【”We’re not done yet!”】
Annoyed by Harold’s words, Liner rushed to him while shouting in anger.
Although Liner hadn’t really been injured, this battle was about avenging his parents. It was unfortunately very understandable for him to be angered upon being told “Is that’s all you’ve got?”.
Before the start of the battle, not everyone in the party had agreed to let the fight happen, so Harold had figured he could use that opportunity to say “Guys, how about we stop this and put this fight behind us?”.
But that did nothing to change their mind.
Well, it was a natural result since what actually came out of Harold’s mouth was “If you’re not going to fight, I’ll end this right here.”, which was more of a declaration of war than an offer of truce.
Even so, thanks to that mishap, Liner, whose biggest flaw was that he was too emotional, let his feelings get the better of him and did something very careless.
The power of his fire-sword had grown ever higher. As it came down and hit the ground, it called forth a raging flame.
What Liner had failed to realize was that his dash forward had left him with no one to cover his back.
Harold avoided the attack effortlessly, and in one smooth motion, he went behind Liner and hit him with the handle of his sword on the back of his head.
Liner groaned but held his ground and did not fall down. Harold had intended to make him pass out in a single blow, but as expected of Liner, he was very resilient. Perhaps this was a pure manifestation of his determination to not be defeated.
Harold proceeded to stab his black sword into the ground, and then pressed the back of Liner, who was still staggering, with his left hand.
The next moment, there was a loud sound followed by a flash of light. Without uttering a single sound, Liner crumbled down to the ground.
Colette ran up to him right after, and was soon followed by Hugo and Francis.
Colette and the others overlapped each other right in the place that Lifa and Erica had been aiming at.
Erica had been ready to fire her next arrow, but this had surely forced her to stay her hand. After all, even though she was a master of the bow, landing an arrow on Harold would be no simple task for her even under normal circumstances, as he was fast enough to easily avoid such attacks. Besides, Lifa, who was standing right next to her, was still not ready to fire her next spell.
After confirming that he would be safe on that front, Harold lightly lowered his body. As his posture suggested that he was about to leap at Colette, Francis and Hugo tried to step forward to protect her.
However, Harold was much faster. By the time they pushed their feet against the ground, Harold had already covered the distance that separated him from them.
The one who let out an exclamation of surprise was Hugo. That was probably because he realized that Harold had suddenly switched targets to himself instead of Colette. Not only was Harold too fast to be followed by sight, but Hugo had also likely not thought for a second that he, of all the people present, would be picked as a target.
To him, this was basically a surprise attack.
Harold once again used the handle of his sword, but his time, he went for the chin. Even Hugo, with his strong armor of muscles, was powerless against this attack that quite literally shook his brain. His muscular body fell face-up, and he stopped moving.
The very next moment, before Francis could finally fix his stance, Harold kicked him in the abdomen, and then charged a bolt of electricity in his palm. This was a ‘Lightning palm’.
And a single hit from it proved to be enough to take away Francis’ consciousness, just like in Liner’s case.
Although this was what Harold had been aiming for, he felt like this had gone too quickly. Taking down one member after the other, he had already incapacitated half of the party.
【”…Really? That’s it?”】
Harold unintentionally let those words out.
He couldn’t help himself from wondering if they would really be able to defeat Justus, but no answer came to clear his doubts.
Colette’s shoulders jumped when she realized her allies had been taken down while she was focused on running up to Liner.
She seemed dumbfounded.
Even so, she still went in front of Liner to protect him, but she couldn’t fight. Her weapon had been destroyed.
【”So, you’re the only ones left?”】
As he said so, Harold turned towards Erica and Lifa, like he was saying that Colette wasn’t worth his attention. Lifa had a tense expression on her face, but Erica showed a sharp and resolute look.
【”What now? Do you really still want to keep going?”】
Erica answered immediately.
This made Lifa’s voice burst out like a thunderclap.
【”Enough already! Erica! And you too, Harold! You’re making no sense! Why do we have to fight you?!”】
【”Stop yelling. If you don’t feel like fighting, just piss off.”】
Granted, this was Harold’s way of saying ‘If you don’t want to fight, you can fall back, it’s okay”. But of course, that only poured oil on the fire.
【”Uh! …Okay, I see how it is… Now that you said that, you can be sure I’ll take you on…! You better not complain afterwards!”】
Lifa raised her staff above her head and then hit it on the ground. A golden magic formation instantly formed itself around Harold.
One look was enough for Harold to tell which spell this was, but he had already been caught.
This was the most powerful spell when it came to restraining an opponent. In the game, it could not only stun the enemy for 8 seconds, but it had the additional effect of reducing the target’s speed and attack stats for a certain time after that.
Considering its effects alone, this spell was completely broken. If someone simply kept using dual bind again and again, then there would be no enemy who could match him.
But of course, there is no way such a convenient spell could exist as is in the game. It naturally had some disadvantages to balance things out. For example, it could only be used a single time per battle. Moreover, it did not consume a fixed amount of mana, instead, it took one third of the user’s whole mana supply.
Among those disadvantages, there was supposed to be one that said “Cannot be cast without incantation”.
(When? When did she use the incantation?!)
While Harold’s body couldn’t move, his mind was moving at high-speed, trying to figure out an answer. However, he was only able to reach a single conclusion. She had simply not used an incantation.
There hadn’t been enough time between the moment she fired the Bolt Lance and now to chant the incantation of this particular spell. And he hadn’t heard her say anything in the first place. If she really had used an incantation, it would have had to be some time before that.
But Harold could not think of any moment where she would have been able to do so.
(No, surely she… Wait, is that what’s going on?!)
As his thoughts kept rapidly looking for a clue, he realized that something odd had taken place earlier. From there, he soon reached his answer.
Lifa did use an incantation. While Harold had been fighting Liner and the others, he did catch of Lifa chanting on the side, releasing some kind of golden magic light. That was before she fired her Bolt Lance spell.
But now that Harold thought about it, that incantation was too long for a mere Blot Lance spell. Moreover, the Bolt Lance and Dual Bind spells both had the same golden-colored magic light.
(Are you kidding me… So she used the Bolt Lance without chanting for it while simultaneously chanting for the Dual Bind?!)
Dual Spell-casting. There was no such skill in the game and Harold had never seen it in this world either.
In a way, this answer was something much beyond the scope of what Harold had imagined, much crazier than simply not using an incantation for the ‘Double Bind’ spell.
And Harold happened to know a certain lunatic who could very well come up with such a crazy idea.
(What the hell did you teach her, Justus?!)
Lifa was anything but talented when it came to magic. However, that was normal, as the talent to properly turn one’s magic power into magic spells was rare in this world. In other words, this was not due to a lack of understanding but due to a genetic trait that made her ‘oracle organ’ a bit defective.
And Justus was the only specialist of the oracle organ in this world. Fruthermore, in this society that greatly prospered through magic, there was no other scientist whose knowledge could compare to his.
Besides, Lifa’s intellect and capabilities made her more than worthy of being called a genius from the get go. Not to mention once her Oracle Organ was fixed, allowing her to power-up her skills on both the magic and science spectrum.
This meant she could freely display ingenious spells that were never seen before.
【”Don’t hold back, Erica!”】
To make things worse, there was another genius who could fire many high-grade spells in succession without using incantations.
Harold was finally going to be bit by Erica Sumeragi’s fangs.
Two magic formations appeared at Erica’s feet and overlapped each other. One was green and the other was jet black. This was a spell that Harold did not know about.
However, he could guess its nature just by looking at those formations.
This was a combination of two spells with different attributes, both of which were being cast without any incantation. And judging by the mana Harold was sensing, they were both high-grade spells.
A direct hit from this was probably not going to leave Harold unscathed. But while he was aware of that, his body was still not moving.
Very soon, he vanished in a jet black storm.