Author:Yunzo/Alicemagic Update: 2017-05-27 [Prev] [Next] [Top]
The "battle plan in case of an emergency" that was hastily devised by a group of assembled veterans was to either drive the giant away with siege engines like ballistas or catapults, or to make her fall by tying a rope around her feet, followed by killing her via attacking her neck with archers' arrows or with onslaughts from spearmen and cavalry. It was concluded that the ideal spot to commence the assault from would be within the thickets of a forest, where the enemy would be at a disadvantage due to the many blind spots.
As the residents of the city were watching by with unease, spearmen, archers and cavalry assembled outside the western gate. Units of catapults and ballistas were being loaded on top of wagons and then carried off by packhorses. Once the bell signaling that the giantess was within a range of less than seven miles of the city, the troops collectively stopped their work and departed the town.
At that time, Eliza too noticed the group of armed men heading out of the city gates while carrying some sort of enormous luggage, but since it did not at all cross her mind that they were a squadron aiming to drive her away, she simply waved in response and walked towards them while paying close attention to her footsteps, albeit this time with a slightly faster pace.
Seeing the enemy hasten her gait, the troops stepped up the speed of their actions as well. First, they got the remainder of the troops out of the city and lowered the western gate's bars. Following that, they deployed a squadron to stand by in the forest five miles away from town; as they laid there in wait, the tremors that were most likely the girl's footsteps escalated in ferocity, as did the air of tension between the soldiers. A couple of horses that couldn't be restrained began to run amok as well.
However, once the girl stopped in front of them, the soldiers who were more than prepared to go into combat were utterly thrown off by her demeanor.
"Hello. Why is everyone crowded up here like this?"
She said as she bowed in salutation. Oblivious to the commander's stupefaction over her unanticipated demeanor, Eliza leaned over with a gently clenched right fist and added, "If it's something I can help with, I'd be more than happy to assist...".
Was it a strategy to make them lower their guards, in a similar vein to her outfit? Was it a taunt to show off how composed she was? Was she actually being genuine? Unable to tell one way or another, the troops turned to the vice-commander at their side for guidance. He was also somewhat at a loss for how to reply, but seeing as she at least did not intend to attack immediately, he proposed that it was likely best to first confirm her real intentions.
Even with her elevated point of view, Eliza could clearly see the soldiers by her feet talking amongst themselves while throwing her the occasional scrutinizing glance. The atmosphere struck her as a bit malignant, but not so much to make her realize that these armed soldiers were dispatched to drive her away. Her face was widely recognized within this territory, so while her newfound stature did surprise people before, she was never outright treated as someone to be suspicious of until now.
Some time passed, and the man who seemed to be their commander eventually opened his visor, looked up at Eliza and spoke with a boisterous tone to make up for the rough difference in size.
"First, then, I'd like to hear your true intentions."
Eliza's brows drew closer together upon hearing him.
With a hand held by her ear, Eliza attempted to interpret what 'true intentions' could possibly mean, but with no success. She decided to point towards her own chest and inquire further.
"MY true intentions?"
The man standing by the commander spoke first as if to cut him off. His build, his armor and his overall slimness stood in stark contrast to the commander at his side.
"To start off, we'd like you to tell us your name, affiliation, and reason for coming here."
"Oh, of course."
It took until this inquiry for Eliza to first realize that these people do not so much as know her name.
-Her name was Eliza Toeland.
-Her affiliation was a healing magician of the Lideald region.
-Her reason for coming here was that she arrived at the rendezvous point where she was to meet with a platoon sent by the country earlier than scheduled, so she decided to stop by this town and see if there was anything she could help with in the meanwhile.
That was the basic gist of Eliza's answer. As the vice commander was contemplating how to respond, Eliza decided to pose the troops an inquiry of her own.
"Could you answer my question from earlier, then?"
The troops started chatting amongst themselves once more. If they responded with "we're here to exterminate some giants", she'd probably be dejected if she was telling the truth, and interpret it as a convenient excuse to start attacking if she was lying. Doubts continued piling up in their hearts, further deepening their anxiety.
"I wanted to help out, but could it be that I'm the reason you're here?"
The girl's fragile, delicate voice betrayed her colossal size. Looking over the troop's composition, she could make out an array of artillery and catapults of the type used for castle sieges, and what's more, they were aimed diagonally upwards in her direction. Just then, when her lonesome stare was fixed on a catapult in the rearmost row...
All of a sudden, a head-sized boulder launched from it with great vigor. A soldier that was unable to withstand the pressure from her gaze pulled the latch half-unconsciously.
Eliza instantly covered her face with her left hand when she saw the boulder flying towards it. The boulder which from her perspective was the size of a bean hit her upper arm and bounced down her skirt; back to being head-sized, the stone directly hit the collarbone of an archer who failed to dodge in time.
Not immediately noticing that the boulder landed over someone, Eliza lowered back her arm while cocking her head slightly sideways. Surveying once more the troops by her feet, she could see the pebble that was likely just flung towards her, and one archer collapsed at its side. Without a moment's delay, she bent down to pluck the archer in her fingers, but the soldiers for whom her gigantic descending hand seemed comparable to an entire hut- particularly the ones standing directly at its shadow- were seized by a primal fear for their lives. Breaking down under the terror, one archer fired his bow at her by sheer reflex.
Startled, Eliza instantly pulled away her arms and moved back her massive body. She then flung her right arm around to pry the tiny needles off it. While the sudden attack did surprise her, the arrows were only half the size of toothpicks for her, and they weren't capable of piercing her skin.
The barrage of arrows stopped after only one volley, but even after her initial surprise settled down, Eliza was at a loss for how to handle being treated so unreasonably. She had just explained how she bore no hostility, and all she tried to do was heal the wounded archer, yet not only could they not lower their guards, but they outright fired their weapons at her. What's more, the archers who attacked her seemed strangely delighted with themselves. From their point of view, they had just managed to narrowly escape death and their hearts were filled with such relief that they looked as if their energy was drained cleanly away, but Eliza couldn't possibly know that.
"Why did you fire at me?"
She asked the archers.
Although she didn't intend for it to come out that way, the tone of Eliza's voice was stronger than before. She was about to rephrase herself upon realizing that, but before she could correct her mistake, the commander roared "Commence the plan!!" to the men at his rear. For him, taking the initiative was an absolute necessity in such a situation. With such an insurmountable different in strength, it was imperative to take advantage of the slightest bit of hesitation on her side.
"She's not playing around! Put your lives on the line and give her hell!!"
As soon as they heard the command, the archers began firing once again, and even the spearmen who were undecided about how they should move readied their spears in an upwards diagonal angle and charged forward.
"W-wait a second!"
Eliza was neither on the offensive nor did she feel comfortable with having soldiers rush towards her with the preparedness to die. Yet the arrows came flying one after another and the spearmen fell expertly into formation, leaving the giant healer in a situation where she could be assaulted at any given time. She intuitively took a few steps back, but stopped as she suddenly felt the peculiar sensation of some object next to her right heel.
Cautious, she pulled her skirt back and looked down to her tiptoes, and there she saw a several lightly-armored combat engineers carrying bundles of ropes on their shoulders and performing some sort of task at her feet.
As they were tying a rope around the giantess' shoe, the engineers perceived an abnormality as well and stopped their work to look up at her. Regardless of whether or not they noticed that she was looking right at them, the engineers collapsed on their rears, then quickly rolled over on the ground and dashed the other way. They didn't put much strength into their legs- or perhaps they couldn't, due to the heavy load of the ropes- but as they struck their palms on the ground, rolled back up through their shoulders and generally used their entire bodies during their sprint, they seemed less like they were running and more like they were wriggling away in terror.
Eliza, on the other hand, was still in shock over them being by her feet in the first place. How long were they standing there? She had to have been moving her feet a few times until now, so if she were to accidentally step on or kick one of them away...
She checked the nearby ground for any dark-red stains, turned her body around to look down behind her, and lifted her heel to see the ground beneath it, all to confirm that no one had been crushed.
(Okay, everything seems fine...)
Eliza inadvertently breathed a sigh of relief. She returned her gaze down to her feet once again, and the combat engineers were already nowhere to be seen. They didn't seem to be behind her either, so they likely escaped while she was turning around earlier. With this, Eliza could relax and unfasten the rope tied to her foot.
Afterwards, the attacks from the bows and ballistas continued still, seemingly aiming for her head. Since Eliza was standing upright, however, the arrows could barely reach all the way up to her face, and the poorly-sharpened stones fired from the catapults couldn't possibly hurt her either way. Likewise, the spears which should've inflicted the most damage failed to so much as hit her. In other words, the soldiers did not stand a chance against Eliza with their weapons, and yet they continued their futile assault nonetheless. To Eliza who was looking on from above, this gradually started to look foolish.
"Umm... do you think you could possibly stop already~?"
She placed her hands on her hips and spoke out to the soldiers listlessly. She couldn't bring herself to raise her voice, even knowing that they may not budge otherwise.
While she was contemplating how to persuade them to stop and whether or not she should just leave them be for now, Eliza suddenly noticed a string-like object dangling in front of her eyes. She tried pinching it, and found that it was too thick to be a strand of hair and too long to be a piece of fiber from her clothes. Curious about the string's tip, she tried pulling on it.
All of a sudden, a large catapult suddenly propelled itself from the platoon's rear end into the front, crashing right through the spearmen at the center.
It was already too late by the time that Eliza realized what was going on. The catapult swallowed up ten-odd soldiers up as it mowed down through the formation, only stopping after rolling towards and subsequently colliding against the tip of Eliza's shoe. The area where the formation was set up was engulfed by a cloud of dust, and the sounds of pained moans could be heard coming from within.
Eliza's words slipped out unconsciously. She didn't imagine that the string she so casually tugged would lead to such a disaster, nor did she even understand why she felt the urge to pull on it to begin with or why she failed to predict such an outcome.
Be that as it may, she knew that nothing will start by just wallowing here in regret. Eliza kneeled down and began plucking the collapsed soldiers one by one and placing them on her left hand, starting from the more gravely injured ones. The soldiers would flinch back whenever she lowered her right hand to pick up more soldiers, with the majority of them then thrusting their spears at her palm. Eliza's right hand became gradually more wounded with each round trip from the ground to her left hand, but all she could do was to focus on not having her wrist sliced. After all, the slightest hand motion on her side could serve to double the amount of casualties. She briefly considered "shutting them up" in that fashion once and heal them afterwards, but regardless of how convenient that might be, she couldn't bring herself to do such a thing.
After placing six soldiers on her left hand Eliza rose back to her feet and cast healing sorcery on the men struggling weakly on top of her palm, then once more plucked them one by one in her fingers and put them back down to the ground. The soldiers on ground level readied their spears, but this time refrained from attacking.
Picking up wounded soldiers, then after a short while putting them right back on the ground. The giant's actions were incomprehensible to the soldiers, so they remained alert, but upon noticing that the casualties who were lifted up first began gradually rising to their feet while she was midway through picking up the others, they began to catch onto what she was doing.
Yet healing sorcery was as its core a technique that supplied its targets with vitality, and as such only conditions such as fatigue and minor wounds can be healed instantaneously. It was out of the question for a warrior wounded to the point of incapacitation to be restored to full health in the blink of an eye. If this giant healer possessed a supply of mana proportional to her massive frame, however...
Paying no heed to the soldiers who were stunned from the act of miracles taking place in front of their eyes, Eliza continued picking up wounded soldiers one after the next and performing her magic on them. Once she was thorough curing the incapacitated soldiers, she asked "is anybody else injured?" while lowering her palm to the ground, adding "if so, please get on".
The majority of soldiers alternated between looking up at her and exchanging glances between themselves, confirming their aeacj other's actions. One such soldier, who was leaning on an ally's shoulder, gathered the most attention of them all. After one warrior spoke a few words to him, the man whose shoulder was being leaned on began questioning Eliza.
"Why are you only healing us after placing us on your palm?"
The remaining soldiers focused their attention on both parties. It was true that a spell could still be cast on someone without a hassle even from a distance, just with less power and accuracy.
Eliza simply answered "I can't draw out the right amount of mana very well otherwise", revealing that this degree of prudence was necessary to avoid accidentally making an error in strength adjustment.
Seemingly convinced by her answer, the man being lent a shoulder nodded and the pair began walking towards the giantess' palm together. Noticing this, Eliza brought her hand closer to them and outstretched her fingers over the ground in order to make the surface of her hand more level. It was an act of kindness on her part, but for the group of soldiers faced with the some 10-inches thick log-like appendages that produced a sound as they sank into the earth and the reality that these belonged to a fellow human being's hand, the sheer absurdity of it all forced them to withdraw a step or two backwards by instinct. Even the duo who were about to board this titantic hand were not exempt from this unease as they stopped moving altogether.
Herself taken aback from the soldiers' bewilderment coming from an unexpected place, Eliza decided to feign composure and speak out to the soldiers despite imagining that by this point they'd likely be afraid of her regardless of what she does.
"I'm sorry for startling you. But I do think that it'll be easier to get on now, so..."
The man looked up at Eliza in response, and after watching her expression for some time began walking once again. He still seemed afraid as well as unsure of whether or not Eliza could really be trusted, but he wasn't entirely suspicious of her, either. For her, having them at least attempt to believe in her was a blessing in itself.
Once the duo boarded on top of Eliza's palm, Eliza requested the attending soldier to get off, then lifted her left hand off the ground with only the wounded one still on. Her hand ascended upwards with such ease that it seemed to disregard the weight of the human adult resting on top of it.
Eliza slowly brought her left hand in front of her body and began casting healing sorcery while drawing out mana with great prudence. By the time she lowered her hand back down, there were already several soldiers waiting in front of the spot on the ground that was indented with the shapes of her fingers.
They finally believed in her. Thinking about that warmed Eliza's heart and her lips naturally curled into a smile. For all the time and disputes it took, it culminated with her finally being needed, and that made her happy beyond words.
"Please get on. I'll take care of all of you."
She said with a slightly shaking voice as she urged the soldiers to climb into her palm.
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