Without warning, the scarred bandit fell back. The village chief took the stalemate as an opportunity and tackled the scarred bandit, forcing his knees to buckle from behind. The two bandits behind Entri screamed something incomprehensible and started to charge forth, but Entri took this welcomed change as an opportunity and spun around to fire a snapshot.
The weapon rocked back after Entri pulled its trigger, sending the concentrated mana forward, biting into the left bandit’s arm before spiraling a good distance behind them and exploding. The bandit hit spun back from the unexpected force and fell back, clutching desperately onto his arm. The other gawked at his fallen comrade before screaming, “you’re dead!” and charged forth.
Normally, a magic gunner would have to reload after every shot, but Entri discovered a trick while practicing with the weapon while traveling. When mana is inserted into the weapon, the vial holding the liquid mana is emptied. The weapon is primed, charged, and ready. When Entri asked Talia what would happen if he were to insert a second filled vial while the weapon had energy to fire, Talia replied that she did not know. No one had tried it before. These weapons were difficult to craft and therefore extremely expensive. Entri wanted to attempt the action, but he was afraid that if the weapon was to misfire, he could have been injured, so he took some precautions.
By holding the weapon with a makeshift stand and grip made of ice thanks to Talia, Entri tied some string to the trigger and retreated a safe distance to lower the odds of injury.
“Entri, are you sure about this?” Talia asked, her brow knit in worry.
“You may not realize, but devices such as these are not for commoners. You should be grateful Master Talia even let you touch such an expensive weapon,” Alice commented.
Entri knew he was in the wrong when it came to Alice’s argument, but he also felt that he couldn’t be protected all the time. Talia armed him so that he could defend himself. This world was a dangerous place, and since Entri was defenseless, as he couldn’t use magic or fight well with any weapon, this was the best solution to an unsolvable problem.
“If this doesn’t work like I think it does, then I might as well hide forever,” Entri said, knowing full well he could not. Talia’s face was full of concern as she pondered over what Entri hoped would happen. He didn’t quite give them an answer, but just suggested that if it worked, then the weapon could become more versatile.
After calling a short countdown, while being admonished by Alice of course, Entri pulled the string. The familiar sound of energy being directed outwards could be heard, even from their distance, and the sound of an explosion caused by the expanding mana followed shortly after. Entri pulled the string again, and a less violent, but equally surprising sound came to existence. The weapon fired once more, albeit less powerful, but it fired. He then pulled again, and again, and again.
Did the vial not fully empty in time? Various thoughts raced around in Entri’s mind as he tried to conclude what had just occurred. Talia and Alice on the other hand stood slack jawed at the sudden moment of serendipity. For once, Alice’s haughty demeanor had been fractured and broken. But Entri’s mind was on other matters. Can I control the output? Influence the direction? Firing multiple charges from one vial? He wanted to know more, but without someone more knowledgeable in the field, he would constantly be walking with one foot in the grave.
The bandit’s charge was expected, so Entri ducked low and moved towards the bandit rather than away. He had learned in his previous life that it was better to intercept a charge than deal with it at its peak, and in this life, he had learned how to put that theory into practice while training with Talia’s various associates during their travels.
Probably not expecting the interception, especially from what was practically a child, the bandit’s eyes widened in surprise from having his arm slowed to a stop. Entri’s stance slid back a few inches due to the strength difference, but he maintained it nonetheless, and pointed the weapon against the bandit’s chest.
“H-hold on, d-do you realize what will happen if you pull that trigger there?” the bandit asked, his fear being evident.
Entri slightly gagged from the awful stench emanating from the bandit, but was at least able to respond. “No, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
Entri had never fired the weapon such a close range before. The last time he did so, give a distance farther than point blank, was for experimentation, and he ended up being bedridden to recover for a week. This moment was no experimentation. There were no factors in his control besides when to pull the trigger and gamble his life. With nothing more to think, Entri pulled the trigger and waited to meet this world’s maker.
But it never occurred. Instead, the bandit was blown back, a hole straight through his chest, and the expected explosion occurred a few seconds later outside.
While wondering what had just occurred, he heard various grunts continuing on behind him. He took his last spare vial and exchanged it with the current one, spilling some liquid mana onto the floor.