Chapter 045 – Blooming
The enemies were taken aback by our sudden attack, but as you would expect from someone entrusted to guard the entrance to the tower where madam is, they were magicians.
They reflexively constructed defense barriers.
From the level of their skills I figured they were magicians of at least rank B.
But without minding that, I selected full-automatic fire and pressed the trigger.
Bracing for the muzzle flash, sound of gunfire, and recoil, I aimed at the enemy’s leg.
The man on the right had prepared a defense barrier but it was easily pierced.
Fresh blood spurted out from the enemy’s leg.
In my vision that had gone slow-motion thanks to visual strengthening, I noticed that Snow had hit the man on the left she was in charge of with the S&W revolver, but it was repelled by his defense barrier.
Looks like he released quite some magic and built a strong one in an instant.
Sheesh, this guy is well-prepared.
Still pressing my AK-47’s trigger, I slid to the side. With the bullets being shot in full automatic, they found their way inside the enemy.
Though the barrier was effective against 9mm bullets, it stood no chance against the 7.62mmR. The barrier was easily pierced, and the man was shot through the leg.
“Yo, you bastards! How did you get in here—Baah!?”
The man I shot down earlier started raising his voice, but Snow immediately kicked him unconscious.
She also likewise kicked the other man unconscious.
Of course, I noticed her move and already stopped my firing.
As childhood friends who were left in the orphanage on the same day and lived together, harmony is our specialty.
While popping the empty bullets out of the cylinder and reloading it from the magazine, Snow called out to me.
“Lute-kun! The lock please!”
“Leave it to me!”
[What was that sound!?]
[An intruder!? Oi, what are the guys outside doing!]
[It’s the tower! The tower is under attack!]
We heard men’s voices from throughout the castle.
They noticed the presence of intruders from the strange sound (gunfire) and the magic power from body strengthening.
They knew all too well that the tower where madam is would be the target.
For a castle this well defended, not even an idiot would invade for the money and goods.
It would’ve been best if we immediately opened the door and went into the tower… but the problem lies with the door.
The door was bulky and made of metal, and it had a lock attached to an iron bar as thick as a child’s arm. The wall around the door was of course made of anti-magic bricks.
Normally the gatekeepers would be holding the keys, but as a precaution against intruders they would often hold identical dummy keys.
There was no time to try each and every one in turn.
In other words, to break this door open without a key within a short time, you’ll need magic powerful enough to either destroy the metal door or the anti-magic bricks.
But there was no time to chant the spell for that.
In the first place, if you use magic poorly, even if you could break the door open, the magic power released would be high enough to destroy the area surrounding the door, burying the passage. In the end, you wouldn’t be able to get in.
Other than magic, another way to break the lock open is by cutting it using a sword, but you need sufficient skill and power for that.
The door was made of heavy metal, and the lock was also well made.
It was at the level where only a famous master could do something about it.
There was nobody around us with that kind of skill.
There was the possibility of using body strengthening and a heavy axe to forcibly cut the door apart. If we go back a bit we could take the axe from the metal armor…. but while we did that the guards would have gathered here.
However, in my hands I hold an AK-47.
It had the power to pierce through an NIJ (National Institute of Justice) [Level III A++]-ranked bulletproof vest.
It would be impossible for normal bullets to pierce through the heavy metal door, but the lock isn’t so much of a problem.
I aimed at the lock and fired in semi-auto mode.
The lock easily flew apart.
Snow and I went inside the doorway as if diving in.
Snow pushed the open door closed, put her beloved gun away, and turned both her hands toward the door.
“Hark my call o dragon of ice and snow. Let forth a world of glaciers before me! Permafrost!”
Ice, it was melded magic of Ice.
At elementary level you can use 1 kind.
At intermediate level you can meld 2 kinds.
At the advanced level you can meld over 3 kinds of magic.
The door was jammed with ice from the inside.
Now even if the lock was broken, they won’t be able to get inside so easily.
It was plenty enough to buy time with.
I heard Snow call from behind me and destroyed the lock on the next door.
Right then, my magazine ran out of bullets so I replaced it.
I packed fresh bullets into the magazine.
I opened the door, let Snow inside, and ran up the stairs in one stroke with body-strengthening-enhanced strides.
In less than a minute I reached the top floor of the tower where madam was imprisoned.
The door looked sturdy but unlike the two at the bottom of the tower it was made with careful workmanship.
It wasn’t hard to break through for being an ordinary door.
“Madam, are you alright? It’s Lute!”
[Lute!? You came to save me on your own?]
“Let’s save the details for later! Please step away from the door for a moment. It’s dangerous to be in front of the door so please move aside.”
I broke through the door using my body-strengthened shoulder.
The door was blown into the room, hinge and all.
Inside the room there was Lady Seras Gate Vlad who I hadn’t seen for several months, since Karen’s surprise party.
She was wearing an undecorated one-piece dress that looked like pajamas.
She looked a little lean, maybe from lack of exercise.
Furthermore, her breasts seemed to have grown bigger.
However, as far as I can see there were no traces of her having been hurt or tortured.
I stroked my chest in relief.
“Lute, have you really come to save me?”
Overcome with emotion, madam hugged me from the front like she did the day we first met.
My face was buried in her plump bosom.
It felt good, and the scent of a grown woman, unlike Snow or ojousama, made me feel dizzy.
Madam released her hands off me, and then she looked at Snow with interest.
“Oh my, this person here is?”
“My fianceé, Snow.”
“This is the first time I heard that Lute had a fianceé! Nice to meet you, my name is Seras Gate Vlad. I am really thankful to you for coming to save me.”
“Nice to meet you, I’m Lute-kun’s fianceé, Snow. It is I who should thank you for saving Lute-kun’s life.”
“Not at all, in fact I’m the one who should be thanking him. Even my husband called him a good purchase. By the way, I sensed some strong magic power from below, was it you? It might be a little impertinent of me, but could you kindly tell me your rank?”
“I’m A-minus ranked. The S-ranked magician Freezing Witch-sama gave me the nickname [Witch of Ice and Snow].”
“Oh my, that’s amazing. Reaching A-minus rank at such an age, and to be given a nickname by the S-ranked magician Freezing Witch-sama, too. Not even royalty could do that.”
“I’ve considered that I might not live up to the name, but this and that happened so I received the name.”
“I wonder if you could tell me about it if you have time. I love adventure stories like that. My husband—Dan Gate Vlad also had all sorts of fun stories. The time when he slept in the dungeon was most amusing—”
“Madam! Snow! Please leave the talk for later. We’re really short on time here!”
The uproar from below had become louder.
They had started to use strong magic that even I could sense.
Snow took down the bag she was carrying and took out a white clay-like blob.
“Madam, can I have you squat down for a little bit?”
She followed Snow’s instructions.
She started covering the magic prevention collar wound around madam’s neck with the clay-like material.
The magic prevention collar served three functions.
First—While within visual range, the one powering the collar can make it shrink so as to suffocate the wearer.
Second—It could give the user information on the wearer’s whereabouts.
Third—Were the collar to be forcibly taken off, the wearer shall be killed by the magic applied on the collar.
This clay-like material served to disable the first function.
It was something given to us by Meiya, she guaranteed it’s effectiveness.
Next, as long as the collar was worn, madam’s location would still be known and she would be continuously pursued. If the collar were to be clumsily removed, she would die.
However, according to Meiya, it seems that it wouldn’t be hard to remove the collar given the right tools, time, and skills.
Therefore the plan is for us to take madam, cross over the forest 1 km behind the castle, and take her on a covered coach we parked on the main road.
Special unlocking tools that Meiya brought in were already set up inside the covered coach.
Of course, the genius magic device developer Meiya, who had the skills to unlock the magic prevention collar, is on standby inside.
What’s left to do is to just run away until the collar is unlocked.
I took out a softball-sized sphere from Snow’s backpack and put it aside.
I unfastened the AK-47’s magazine and replaced it with the one in my lower back pocket.
These are the special items I prepared for this day.
“Lute-kun, preparations all done.”
“I’m done, too. Snow, proceed as planned please.”
Still with the backpack on, Snow increased her body strengthening.
“Madam, if you’ll excuse me.”
“Oh my oh my.”
Snow picked up madam in a princess carry.
I gave her instructions as she was being carried.
“Madam, it might be a little suffocating but please hold your breath when I say so.”
“Uhuhuhu, this reminds me of when my husband princess-carried me for the first time…. Yeah, that was the night we first met each other on the boat. We fell in love at first sight that day.”
“Uhuhu, alright. When Lute gives the signal I’m to hold my breath, right.”
“Please. Well then let’s go Snow!”
“OK, any time!”
I boosted my body with body strengthening.
With the AK-47 in full auto I barraged the wall of stacked bricks with bullets.
Once that magazine is finished, I took out a second one and unleashed another barrage.
The ammo I barraged the wall with is a special kind—armor piercing rounds.
The usual bullet cores were made of ersatz-lead, but this time the cores were made of ersatz-tungsten wrapped in ersatz-lead. A thin jacket is wrapped around it to make the cartridge.
Armor piercing rounds were built to punch through materials like iron plates.
No matter how “anti-magic” these bricks are, they shouldn’t be able stand against something that can go through iron plates.
I made bullet holes around a section of wall about the size a person could go through.
I covered my entire body in magic power for just 10 seconds and did a roundhouse kick.
The bunch of bricks danced in the air and fell down.
The sound of the bricks falling was heard throughout the castle.
At this point I’ve used up half of my magic power.
I replaced the magazine and picked up the softball-sized sphere, then jumped out towards the castle walls through the hole in the tower.
Snow was carrying madam.
Deceleration and body strengthening had of course been handled by her magic.
It was dark down below, but the castle walls could be faintly seen, we then jumped on top of it.
It wasn’t the time to be lingering about, but there were of course guards that were standing watch outside gathered beneath the walls.
It was obvious given the flashy way we made our escape route.
This is where the ball I prepared comes in handy.
“Madam! Please hold your breath!”
Just before I jumped down the castle wall, I gave madam the signal.
There were the guards on watch down below. I forcefully threw the ball in my hand at them.
The ball hit the ground and exploded.
A huge cloud of smoke came out.
“A smokescreen!? This much is no big deal, I can… *cough*! *cough*!?”
“M, my body…”
“Is this silver!?”
There was silver dust mixed in with the smoke.
Silver is deadly poison to vampires.
The silver filled their lungs by being breathed in.
The moment we landed, we swiftly ran amidst the confusion.
We headed towards the forest 1 km away.
Once we reached that place, it would be our win.
500 meters remaining.
“!? Lute-kun! Get behind me!”
Flame swords, water spears, and lightning axes danced, blocking our way.
Still holding on to madam, Snow hid me behind her back and opened a barrier.
It blocked all the magic attacks.
Ten-odd men appeared out of the shadows where the magic was fired from.
“I see, so the ringleader was Lute. I thought it was too cunning for Merry.”
It was the first time I saw him in months.
Gigi-san’s figure almost hadn’t changed.
He looked just like the time when he was happy about ojousama going outside in order to get over her trauma.
That Gigi-san who shouldn’t have changed pointed out my mistakes like he usually did.
“But you’re too naïve. You overdid the acting you used as diversion. Intelligence is best when you make them think and consider and find out about it. That’s because intelligence they happen upon by themselves is one that they would believe in the most.”
The men, mainly of the beast race, fanned out behind our back, encircling us.
They were probably the men in Gigi-san’s direct command.
Their eyes shined with a hired professional’s light, absolutely not willing to let madam escape.
Under the lead of Gigi-san, they set about to block our way.
Despite supposedly standing in front of me as enemies, I still considered that it might be a lie, that he might be a fake.
“…… Why are you over on that side, Gigi-san? For what reason did you betray master, madam, Merry-san and the servants, and Ojousama?”
The first words out of my mouth after several months were not ones of denigration, but questioning as to his motives.
I was sure that he was forced into betrayal because there was someone he know or a friend being held hostage.
Though he was taciturn and looked frightening, Gigi-san treasured the Vlad house more than anyone.
He crafted so many plans and chaperoned ojousama out of worry for her. No way that kind of person would truly turn traitor.
But his reply was as usual, unrestrained and indifferent.
“I don’t mind talking now, but are you sure? We’re not your only enemies you know.”
Gigi-san pointed behind me.
The smokescreen had cleared, and vampires who weren’t swallowed by the fumes were closing in on us.
Wolf in the front gate, Vampire in the back.
“…. that’s right isn’t it. There’s lots to do before asking your reasons. First I have to safely get out of here and lead madam to safety.”
“If you can, that is.”
Gigi-san and his men took a solid stance.
Behind us there were the vampires who escaped the smokescreen bearing down on us.
Normally, one would think we had no way to escape.
However, I unhurriedly raised my left hand, waving it round and round, sending a signal.
The others besides Snow and I made dubious expressions, not knowing my intention.
“What’s this, signalling surrender? Then rather than that you should unhand the hostage and—gaaaah!”
There was a popping sound.
At the same time, the beastman standing beside Gigi-san collapsed on the spot.
There was a hole in his left thigh and blood splattering everywhere.
Another man beside him collapsed in the same way, holding his leg.
This time it was the thigh on his right leg.
Only Snow and I was not bewildered and escaped the siege net through the hole created by the collapsed men.
“After them! Don’t let them escape!”
Only one, Gigi-san reacted to the sudden situation, and made the order to chase after us—
A man who reflexively reacted to the order collapsed, holding his leg.
Another invisible attack.
Gigi concentrated magic power in his eyes, trying to firstly figure where the attack was coming from.
“!? Is that Ojousama!”
Then he noticed her a long way away, about 500 meters—on the boundary between the forest and plain grounds.
At that distance he couldn’t see her if it weren’t for the magical eyesight strengthening.
Ojousama was standing on one knee, holding a long, cylindrical weapon.
It was the kneeling shot position.
Every time she shoots, a [7.62mm×51 NATO round] came flying out at about 838 meters per second.
They didn’t know that.
They were not aware what kind of terrible monster they were now standing before….
It was the moment for the trump card on our side—of Chrisse Gate Vlad to bloom—!