Infinite Mage (Novel) Chapter 156

                        



C156

Amy realized that Freeman was more tactical than she had anticipated.

The mastery of Schema, Compound Eye, and the 3% anti-magic, he had neutralized even her sniping.

It was a way to conduct one's battle at any distance - near, middle, and long.

“Were you hiding there?”

Freeman flew into the air with this gun loaded with magic projectiles in hand. The process of conquering the distance by stepping on trees was so quick that it was abrupt.

The ensuing battle was a cat-and-mouse chase.

Amy continued to attempt sniping, but it was far from hitting Freeman. No matter how much she backed up with her Red Eyes, somehow a 3% error would occur.

Approaching up to medium range, she could fight to some extent, but ultimately, it was no different than entering Freeman's turf.

'There's no other way.'

Amy did not give up and stuck to sniping. But Freeman, who didn't even need to dodge, was almost yawning.

Whatever method she devised, it didn’t matter. The snipe wouldn't hit, and if she approached, he would avoid it with his Compound Eye.

“I heard that there is a limit to a mage’s mental power….”

In the early stages of the battle, a mage who didn’t need to replace bullets had the advantage, but as time passed, the upper hand would inevitably tilt towards the gunman.

As the speed of the Flame Strike became slower than before, Freeman began to move in earnest to capture his prey.

Amy no longer had the mental power left to cast magic. Her head felt like it was bleaching. No omnipotent was clinging to her omniscience anymore.

"Haa. Haa."

But Amy mustered up every ounce of her mental strength. And finally, she cast the last Flame Strike.

Freeman calmly observed the rushing magic. As a gunner, who is an expert in ballistics, he had already realized that the impact point was slightly off. (탄도 전문가인 거너답게 이미 타격 지점이 미세하게 벗어나 있다는 사실을 깨닫고 있었다.)

Freeman raised both guns and placed his index finger on the trigger. His opponent couldn’t even maintain flight magic anymore. Now, it was alright to think of her as just an ordinary girl.

Pong!

At that moment, a strong impact struck Freeman's temples. For the first time, emotion appeared on his face.

Question and wonder.

Clearly, the Flame Strike had deviated 10 meters from the impact point. But how could the impact come to him?

His thoughts went only that far. Freeman, who had been hit in a vital point, crashed onto the ground with a thud. Flames began to rise on his face, which had sprawled out in a large letter.

‘Marsha….'

Amy, who was struggling to cling to a tree and come down to the ground, finally couldn't hold on and sat down.

Her fatigue was tremendous. Her mental state was more exhausted than a normal person who had been working without sleep for four days.

However, her mood wasn't that bad since her gamble-like adventure had succeeded.

"Heok! Heok! I did it. I won.”

In Amy's last attack, the range of the sniper mode was actually not even 100 meters.

If Freeman had not come close, the Flame Strike would have disappeared before it even reached the target.

However, Freeman had charged, and that was his downfall. What Amy tried with her remaining mental power, giving up a whole 200 meters, was a deviate type on all sides.

She changed the trajectory into a zone that held only Flame Strike and hit Freeman.

In this way, the attack cannot be avoided with 3% anti-magic.

If she had been throwing stones until now, this time it was like grabbing it with her hand and hitting directly.

“Anyway, I’m glad I won. If I had died, I would have been so embarrassed that I wouldn’t have been able to go to heaven.”

There was no time to even recover her energy, as her friends were in the midst of battle. Amy hobbled with her waist hunched as she took difficult steps towards the cliff.

* * *

Freeman's face was burning, but he did not even let out a groan.

From the moment his consciousness returned due to the pain from the burns, there was only one thought in his mind.

'I have to go to Marcia.'

Although Amy's flames were constantly burning his skin, Freeman's body was also repairing its cells at a comparable rate.

At the crossroads of pain and relief, neither living nor dead, Freeman thought of the childhood days with Marsha.

"Ah? It’s Freeman. Scaredy-cat Freeman.”

“Eight-like eyebrows Freeman! Are you going to cry soon? Just cry!”

Freeman was always the butt of the joke. Because he was a coward.

Of course, no one is born a coward. He thought that his severely slanted eyebrows were the culprit of everything.

“Sto- Stop it. It hurts.”

“Then cry. If you cry, Marsha will come. Pretty Marsha, I mean.”

“Don’t bother Marsha!”

“Idiot, Marsha is the slum leader, who would bother her? Plus, Marsha is fun! Anyway, cry quickly. Eight, eight.” (It is alley, or back alley but I took the liberty to change it.)

“Uwaaaaah! Marsha!”

Freeman couldn’t hold back his tears and ran away.

The children were hell-bent on making him cry. Poking his face with tree branches was common, and sometimes they even threw stones at him.

"Hey! Tell Marsha to come here! Because we’re going to play war together.”

The children made Freeman cry so they could play with Marsha. Still, Freeman always ran to Marsha's house.

As an outcast, the only place he could go was her house.

He feel this every time he come, but it was a lonely house. Her father, a mercenary, did not even bring furniture into the house. When he went out to work, he would often stay up all night, and when he came back, he would beat up Marsha once in a while.

When he opened the door, he saw her sitting in the corner of the empty room.

In a room without even a bed, desk, or common blanket, only some leftover bread and a glass of milk occupied the space.

“Marsha, sob, the kids hit me.”

She always cuts her hair short. But she has a pretty face. Marsha greeted Freeman with a tender smile.

“Geez, don't you get tired of being picked on all the time? Why do you even hang out with those kids?”

“I’m not hanging out with them. They somehow find me and bully me.”

“Okay, I’ll go and talk to them. Where are they?”

Freeman wiped his nose as he spoke.

"Do you have to go? If you're out and the old man comes in, you’ll get hit."

"I'm going to get hit either way. I'll tell the kids that I won't play with them if they bother you."

"Don’t want to! You don't want to play with those kids either, but you forced yourself for me. I don’t want Marsha laugh with those kids."

“Aigoo, I’m grateful. Then get stronger. You're in no position to complain when you're getting help."

Marsha poked Freeman's forehead. Frustrated, Freeman ran to the door, spread his arms, and yelled.

"I still don't want you to! Don't go!"

"What's gotten into you today? Try yelling at other kids like that too. Wait, do you like me? Are you jealous because I play with other kids?"

Freeman's face turned red. His heart was pounding so loudly he could hear it and felt nauseous.

Marsha waving her hand as if she thought that was funny.

"Hey, it's a joke, just a joke. Anyway, you have such a pea-sized gut…"

"Yes! I like you! What are you going to do about it? You're a girl!"

Marsha looked blankly at Freeman.

"Is it wrong for me to like you? Did I even ask you to like me? It's up to me that I like someone, but why are you telling me what to do? Am I not allowed to like anyone because I'm a coward?"

When Freeman, who was not good at expressing his emotions, became more excited than ever and shouted, Marsha held out both hands and calmed him down before the situation escalated.

"Y- Yes, all right. I'm sorry. Of course, it's your freedom to like someone."

"Ah, dammit! Seriously! Even you treat me like an idiot!"

Freeman became even more angry at Marsha's attitude, as if she were soothing a child. Marsha chuckled and pulled him to sit in his seat.

"I didn't treat you like an idiot. Just calm down."

Marsha wrapped herself in a tattered cloak and prepared to go out.

Freeman kept his mouth shut for a moment, as if he was emba regretful for his outburst, and then slowly raised his gaze.

"Are you really going to play with them?"

"No, I'll just scold them a bit and come back. Let's play together later."

Freeman’s expression brightened at Marsha’s words.

"Really? You have to come back quickly!”

"Okay. If you're hungry, eat some bread and milk. I've already eaten."

After Marsha left, the room returned to its usual silence. Freeman also became assimilated into the landscape of the poor room, and his expression became glum again.

'Ei, I was going to confess by giving this to you.'

Freeman took a small hand mirror out of his pocket. It was something he bought after earning small amounts of money from running errands for three months.

Marsha had nothing but a set of clothes because her stepfather took everything.

"A girl should at least have a mirror. That old man is strange, having such a pretty daughter and treating her like that."

Freeman smiled at the thought that Marsha would like it. But his reflection in the mirror was never a smiling face.

Severely droopy nasolabial fold eyebrows.

His deeply furrowed eyebrows made him earn the nickname 'crybaby' since he was a child, and after living like that for 10 years, he had really become one.

"Is this so weird? This is okay."

As time passed, Marsha and Freeman also turned 17.

Freeman was still a coward in the neighborhood, but he had a good reputation because he worked hard.

However, the only person he really got along with was Marsha.

The reason he saved money from what was left after living expenses was to buy gifts for Marsha.

Of course, it seemed that her father would take away anything he gave her, but Marsha was truly happy when she received gifts.

Freeman felt that no amount of money was too much if it made Marsha smile.

At some point, she seemed to have lost her smile. He had a vague idea why. Her stepfather had been tormenting her more severely recently.

Of course, most children grew up in similar family environments.

Freeman himself lived with an alcoholic father, enduring daily insults and being called a moron.

Then one day, Freeman finally found out. He discovered that the abuse Marsha had been receiving was of a completely different nature than what a parent should do to their child.

“Marsha, Marsha?”

Perhaps it was fate that led him to Marsha's house that night. Her face had looked much sadder than usual when he saw her during the day, and it weighed on his mind.

His anxiety grew as Marsha did not come out no matter how many times he knocked on the door.

With no other option, Freeman climbed through the window. Since they didn't have anything to steal anyway, the windows were open most of the summer.

“Oey, Marsha? Were you in your room? But why didn't you answer...?"

Freeman froze at the sight that met his eyes in the room illuminated by moonlight. Marsha was on her knees, looking as if her soul had left her body.

She was holding a knife, and the blood dripping from the blade was flowing towards a lifeless body on the floor.

"Ma- Marsha..."

Suddenly regaining his senses, Freeman rushed over. He didn't know where he got the courage, but he felt that if Marsha had losing her mind, he had to do something.

"Wake up. What on earth happened?"

After shaking her by the shoulders a few times, Marsha snapped back to reality.

The words that came out of her mouth as she looked up at Freeman were shocking.

"Dad... tried to assault me."

Freeman was at a loss for words.

Freeman thought he was a pervert since he was creepy and his eyes were dark, but wasn't he still a parent?

When what he expected to happen turned out to be true, a disgusting feeling swept over him.

"Let's run away. Your father is a mercenary, right? If his comrades find out, they'll come for revenge."

Freeman was right. The clever Marcia came to her senses as soon as she heard this. She had to get out of the house as soon as possible.

Marsha suddenly let out a hollow laugh. She realized she had nothing to take with her; there was not a single item she needed to pack.

Grabbing Marsha's wrist, Freeman led her out of the house. Without stopping, they ran all the way to the edge of the village.

"Heok! Heok! This should be enough. We should be okay for now."

"Un, they won't chase us out of the village."

Gasping for air, Marsha tried to calm herself. Although she was afraid of her stepfather's comrades, she was confident she could run away to the ends of the earth if needed.


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