Chapter 21 - Night Raid
"Er... how long have you been awake, teacher?"
"A while ago. Don't called me teacher. Just call me Lina."
"Eh...? Ah... o-okay..." Leon stuttered, his words were borderline incoherent. He didn't know how to react in this situation.
Lina could see the awkward situation he was, so she gave him a way out.
"Don't think too much. That was just a small reward for what you did."
"Ah... okay..." Leon said. He felt it wasn't that simple, but he didn't want to inflate his ego. He can't expect every woman he saves to like him, so he just left it as is.
However, he trusts that she would keep his secret as she didn't seem like a person with a big mouth.
"Well then, I'll see you next time." Leon bid farewells after dropping Lina off at her house.
"Mmm, see you next time." Lina watched him disappear into the distance before heading inside.
"Mum, dad, I'm home." She called out.
"Lina, where have you been? We were worried you had encountered a mishap." Her mum started interrogating her.
"Hahaha... well there was a mishap, but it turned into a blessing." Lina smiled.
"Hmm? What do you mean? Lina's father asked. They were puzzled how mishap can turn into a blessing.
"Your daughter had a fortuitous encounter and broken free from the shackles of the curse."
"Oh... WHAT!?" Their daughter had spoken in a roundabout way. Didn't understand her meaning immediately but they were shocked after they realized her meaning. She wasn't going to tell them it was all due to Leon.
"Is it true? You're not joking with father and mother?" They grabbed her shoulders and asked carefully.
"Mmm." Lina nodded. She wasn't surprised by their reaction. It was to be expected.
Hearing her confirmation, her mother started weeping tears of joy, while her father looked up and laughed boisterously.
"The heavens have eyes." He exclaimed.
Her parents did not ask for details. They did not care if they themselves would also be able to be cured. Such a matter was no longer important to them. They weren't young anymore, but it was different for their daughter.
She was still young and full of potential. They had no other thoughts and were just overjoyed for their daughter. Such was a selfless love from her parents.
She understood that but as a daughter, she also wants her parents to be freed from the shackles that bind them.
She plans to bring the matter up with Leon when there's an opportunity, but she also feels guilty. She owes him too much already and wasn't sure how she would be able to repay him.
The situation was different at Leon's home. His father had fallen asleep on the couch waiting for him to come home. There was food on the table, but it has already gone cold. Leon felt pained in the heart.
He went to grab a blanket to cover them. The small movement had stirred his father awake.
"Ah Leon... you're finally home." His father said with a warm smile. His mother woke up shortly after.
"Mum, dad, I'm home. When did you get discharged from the hospital? You could have waited for me to pick you up."
"Hahaha it's fine. I've already recovered after taking your pill. I just made some excuse to leave. Your father isn't used to lying in bed all day."
Leon shook his head helplessly. The doctors would definitely be suspicious at his father's fast recovery but what's done is done. There's no use mulling over it now.
"Have you and mum eaten yet?" He asked.
"Mmm, your mother and I have already eaten." His father answered.
Looking at the food on the table, it was just enough portion for him.
He did not mind that the food was cold and that he had already had dinner as he ate again. His parents cooked for him so he would finish it.
"Mum, dad, there's no need to go to work anymore or wait for me at night. Your son is very capable now and would only be busier at night." Having said that he pulled out 10000 craws in cash and passed it to his parents.
"This is what I earned, doing legitimate business with the Cromwells. You don't have to worry about it being dirty money."
His parents first reaction wasn't pleasant surprise but concerns about how he earned so much or if he had gone down the wrong path but since he had already said it forthrightly, they did not question him.
He had more money in his world space, but he did not want to shock his parents too much. He would break it down to his parents slowly so they would find it more acceptable in the future.
"How is that fine? It is dangerous at night."
"Honey, it's fine. Our son had grown up. He knows what to do and how to take care of himself." His father comforted his mother. They say mothers always have their worries, but their fathers are always more understanding. The saying seemed quite true in this case.
"You don't have to worry, mother. Your son has the strength to protect himself." Leon tried to give his parents greater assurance by grounding a wooden spoon to dust with his bare hands in front of their eyes.
He thought his parents would be assured with his display of strength, but his mother went up and smacked him on the shoulders, startling him.
"This kid, just because you are earning enough to guarantee our livelihood, you cannot start adopting bad habits. It is not good to be wasteful." His mother reprimanded him.
"T-this... you're right, mother. Your son understands his wrongdoing." He admitted his mistake.
"Mm, it's good that you understand." His mother was satisfied with his answer.
"One mustn't grow complacent and arrogant after gaining power. It is good to always be humble, less they invite disaster upon themselves." His father instructed.
"Yes, I understand. I have something for father and mother." Leon changed the topic. He understood already understood those principles.
He gave them a True Awakening Pill each. He had been quite successful with his pill concoction and had a surplus of pills from the batch. He decided to pocket two for his parents.
He explained their use and watched over them as they consume the pills. They were surprised over his explanation as they understood the worth of awakening pills. It was something only nobles get to enjoy but Leon brushed over the matter as something he gained as part of the business with the Cromwells. It was his turn to advise his parents to not brag about the matter to their neighbors and friends, less they invite trouble.
In the dark of night, the Thunderbird airship sailed over the skies of the Wildlands. The darkness affected their vision but did not stop them from carrying out their mission. Dales stood at the front deck as he peered into the distance.
His transfer was not a smooth one as the elites of the Thunderbird had disapproved serving under a different superior. But they had submitted under his strength and the direct orders of the General Marquis was absolute.
His strength was different to his peers. He had never taken an Awakening Pill and had awakened naturally through battle. His ability did not belong to any of the 5 elements. He was a variant who had greater physical strength and sharper senses to danger in exchange for his control over the elements.
He had a hunch that the night would not be a quiet one.
It didn't take long for his premonition to be realized. His danger senses were ringing alarm bells in his head with greater intensity than when he was on the Freebird.
"Turn back! Make speed for the wall!" He commanded; his face was grave.
The men swiftly got to work without question. The soldiers are well disciplined and military orders were absolute!
His grave face made the soldiers on board tensed. Rumbling sounds could soon be heard from both the skies and the land below.
"Alert the garrisons of an incoming attack! Prepare for battle!" Dales barked out his orders. He wasn't confident he would make it out of this ordeal alive.
To think so many beasts was hiding right under their noses. The darkness concealed their presence as the night was eerily quiet, but when they charged out of their concealment, their movements were fast and loud like thunder in their ears.
Luckily, Dales orders was timely, and they were able to escape being entrapped by the hundreds of aerial beasts. The ground beasts numbered in the thousands.
They were preoccupied with the aerial beasts, while the ground beasts charged in the direction of the walls, completely ignoring their airship. The distance was great, but their speed was not slow! In fact, it was incredibly fast! It would only take an incense worth of time before they reach the wall.
It was fortunate that they have long range communication devices on board and able to alert the wall garrisons immediately.
They no longer worry about the wall as they busy themselves fending off the aerial beasts attacking their airship.
Over at the Great Wall, the troops had receive the order and were positioned on top of the wall, armed and ready.
The height of the wall was great, and the darkness had impaired their vision, but the troops were still able to notice the shadows in the distance making speed towards them.
The charging beasts did not seem to have any intention of slowing down as they made a great leap and smashed into the metal wall.
These beasts seemed more powerful and ferocious than all the previous beasts they had fought.
The claws of the beast were sturdy and penetrative as they clawed their way up. Their leap had already given them a 20-meter head start in scaling the wall.
"Steady your aims! …and Fire!!"
Bang* bang* bang*
Thousands of bullets descended onto the beasts and the ones at the forefront, took all the hits. The beasts in the front row were tenacious and didn't die immediately and continue climbing a bit further before succumbing to their wounds and fell.
"Switch!... Aim!... and fire!" Commands were dished out as the front row troops swap position with the troops behind them to reload. The rear troops stepped forward took aim and fired as commanded.
Another round of bullets flew down striking the next beasts in line.
The chain of command continued to repeat as the soldiers followed in a strict and orderly manner.
The beasts continue to inch closer and closer but still had a long distance to the top. Just when everyone thought they were in for a long and hard battle; a deafening and powerful howl from a beast shook the very land.
The beasts climbing the walls seemed to have received an order as they stop climbing and jumped off from the walls as they retreated.
The soldiers felt weak in the knees as they dropped to the ground in cold sweat.
"What kind of beast was that?"
The howl was so powerful it temporarily stunned them and stopped them from shooting the retreating beasts.
"I don't know but it felt like its howl could shatter the very earth."
They didn't know what the beast was, but they had the illusion that the wall wouldn't be able to protect them from it.
After many rounds of bullets, they had only manage to kill a few hundred of them. Their bullets don't seem to be as effective as it was in the past. No, the beasts were clearly different from the past.
They felt fortunate that the battle didn't continue for longer.