16 Chapter 15: Church Break-In
James cursed, throwing his third emptied Haste potion on the street. A few pedestrians suspiciously stared around them, suspecting that some [Thug] had thrown a broken bottle at them. James completely ignored them, his feet pounding on the pavement as he invisibly danced through crowds that thronged around the Church's Quarters.
He glanced at the watch on his wrist, a piece of enchanting that synced to the System Time across the entire planet. Twenty minutes had already passed, giving him maybe twelve minutes before the Adventuring Team teleported over with the special mage the [Baroness] had hired. He cursed, deciding to risk using his fourth Stamina Potion of the day, putting him at risk of overdosage, which could cause him to collapse in the middle of the street.
Coming to a sudden stop in front of a palatial garden complex, he double checked the spot he had marked on his map. According to his calculations, the pair ought to have been kept somewhere within this complex because it was the only structure that fit the position vector given by Kira's tracking collar. James hurriedly double checked his math. The vector had stated that Kira had been fifteen kilometers away from Lillian's home in the northeastern direction, solidly placing it in the center of one of the most important places within the Holy Order, the Garden of Saints.
Still, even he hesitated to intrude upon the domain of the Gods if they had truly condoned Kira and Diana's kidnapping. While he'd still make sure that they paid for hurting his loved ones, he wasn't sure he could win an all-out firefight and was certain he wouldn't win one with the rather limited preparations he had made. He considered testing for her position one more time to make certain that his prediction was correct. After all, it'd be the height of stupidity to start a war without a just cause. However, he decided against it because that might attract the attention of their captors, or if their captors had already noticed the first time he had activated the Tracking enchantment, distract the probably by now fighting Hersha.
Gritting his teeth, he made sure he was still concealed by his cloak before sneaking past the many [Paladin]s patrolling the entrance. Luckily, this was a place frequently visited by Pilgrims who brought Artifacts as offerings to their Gods, preventing the Church from setting up mana detection arrays without having them go off every few minutes, not to mention that James was pretty sure the [Priest]s would be very unwilling to see their donations wasted on unnecessary protections…
Still, James doubted they would have found him even if they had. After all, [Paladin]s were some of the greatest warriors in existence. Anything that could deal with them could more or less deal with a static Ward enchantment. In addition, he wasn't even actively using magic to preserve the enchantment, preventing most Wards that tested for the usage of Skills or mana manipulation. Furthermore, he was confident that he'd nearly completely blocked out all the faint mana traces left by mana connections within his cloak that sustained the enchantment.
Sneaking over the walls to avoid directly approaching one of the vigilant [Paladin]s whose |Aura Sensing| Skills would quickly find him if he came within range, he found himself in a maze of green hedges. He took out a second, similar looking device to the one he had first used to track Kira and placed his map on the ground. While it wasn't quite at the level of reperforming the Tracking spell, this would make sure he had correctly done his math. The first device had given him a vector connecting his initial position to Kira's tracking collar. This second device had been set to the position he had first activated Kira's collar and related his current position as a vector in relation to that initial position. Mapping out the two vectors on the map, James quickly calculated which direction he'd have to head in to make a closed triangle that would take him to the same position as Kira. He'd have to head thirty degrees north of east for 300 meters.
Mapping it out, he frowned. While he now knew where he had to go, he had no way to get there with this damn maze in the way, at least not in a timely manner. He grunted. He hadn't wanted to use this so soon when there were so many people around, but he figured there was no helping it. Clutching the teleporter in his pocket, he briskly said, "Forbidden arsenal number six, the Unstoppable Lance!" He had to act quickly now: the [Paladin]s ought to have been able to sense the ripple of Space magic.
A circle appeared next to James. Reaching an arm through, he pulled out a sleek looking pipe, which to people from his own world would strongly resemble a handheld laser canon except for the blazing purple crystal attached to the end. Unclicking the safety, James aimed it in the direction he had previously calculated. Setting it to the lowest setting as he didn't want to blast halfway through the Church's Quarters, he braced himself against the ground and fired. Boom!
A blaze of light streaked through the bushes in front of him, clearing a path far into the distance. Tossing the weapon back into the summoning circle that quickly disappeared, James sprinted toward Diana and Kira. However, before he had traveled even halfway meters, several figures wearing gleaming armor |Sprint|ed toward him.
"Stop! We will fire!"
James cursed. It had been too much to hope he'd avoid any confrontations with the Church. It could have been worse though. Had they entered Combat first, he might have been shot down before he could retaliate. "Forbidden arsenal number ten, the Endless Round Gun!" Another summoning circle followed along beside him, precisely one foot to the side and above his right pocket which was where he had stowed his teleporting contact point.
Grabbing a Gatling Gun from the circle, he considered it a moment before deciding that it would be safer to avoid later repercussions. After all, the [Paladin]s had probably recognized him and been unwilling to fire first out of respect for his standing within the Church. It was best to return courtesy with generosity.
Slowing to a jog, he reached into his satchel ruffled through the small pockets to pull out a small grey cube, one quite similar to what Kira had thrown at the three black figures before. "Timer count extension: 15 seconds." His watch glowed violet for a second, emitting a high pitched whine. The mana in the air turned turbulent as his watch bent the rules of the System, extending a Turn far beyond what was normally possible. Switching out the blazing red crystal in the power slot for the cold grey cube, he began shooting at anything approaching him without a care in the world. To an observer, the figures would seem to suddenly stop as their eyes glazed over before they either collapsed or stared blankly at a wall. The [Paladin]s scarcely had time to react to the realization that combat had started before being shot by James's bolts.
After fifteen seconds, it was over, and he had reached his destination. Luckily, without any opponents, the System registered the Battle as over, preventing James from paying the penalty for bending the Rules. Huffing, James took a sip from his Stamina potion, wincing at the burn as it went down his throat. He felt a bit queasy from drinking too much.
James gazed at the large building he had stopped in front of. He sighed. Of course, it was going to be the Crypt of the Saints. Whoever had done this just wanted to commit the greatest sacrilege to the Church possible. Switching out the grey alcohol cube in the Gatling Gun for the original red fire crystal, James took a deep breath and kicked open the door.