PART 7 OF A TALE OF LOG HORIZON-THE GUNSLINGER VS. THE WARLORD

Before heading out to the Watch City Steampunk Festival, I wanted to post the next installment in my Log Horizon fan fiction project. This is the duel with the warlord general Mizufa Trude and its implications for Gideon Hawkmoon’s future on the Crescent Islands of Yamato. I love Mizufa as a character because she is one of the People of the Land, and she can fight on the same level as any adventurer. There’s also a crazy side to her that, as a writer, is fun to play with. That really says something about her as a character. In any case, Gideon has his hands full in Part Seven of A Tale of Log Horizon—The Gunslinger vs. The Warlord.

* * *

Part Six Recap: In the world of Elder Tales, more than 70,000 Japanese players found themselves trapped inside the world of their favorite MMORPG. In the adventurer’s town of Akiba, the Round Table Conference maintains the peace amongst the guilds calling this city home. After a year-long journey across the ocean and four continents, Gideon Hawkmoon, the sorcerer gunslinger from America, reunited with his wife, Henrietta of the Crescent Moon Alliance. Gideon was given his first mission to see if a proposed peace conference between Westlande and Eastal was possible. With Henrietta by his side, the two set off for the Palace of Eternal Ice to get the approval of Duke Sergiot Cowhen before heading to Minami. Once there, Princess Nureha made a proposal to Gideon . . . Defeat one of the Ten Seat Council or join Plant Hwyaden. It was Mizufa Trude who stepped up to challenge the sorcerer gunslinger.

* * *

The word spread like wildfire through Minami—a duel between Gideon Hawkmoon, the sorcerer gunslinger from America, and Mizufa Trude, the warlord general of Westlande. Both adventurers and the People of the Land were excited to see this one-on-one contest. They poured into the amphitheater, built on the remains of an old baseball stadium, to witness the match.

While the stadium slowly filled to capacity, Henrietta repeatedly scolded her husband for even accepting this match. It wasn’t that she doubted Gideon’s ability to beat the warlord general in a PvP match. Instead, she didn’t like the overwhelming advantage Plant Hwyaden had in their favor. Her argument, however, went on deaf ears.

“Gideon, this is ridiculous! You can’t trust this to be anything other than a fair fight,” Henrietta argued as they walked into the amphitheater. “You are walking into a trap!”

“Actually, Henrietta, I see this as a level playing field,” Gideon explained as he carefully loaded his weapons. “I know everything about Mizufa’s fighting style from my conversations with Chief Nyanta. I’m sure she’s been told everything there is to know about me from Indix. So, the way I see, this here’s about as flat as Kansas wheatfield.”

“But how can you be sure Kazuhiko will referee this fairly. He . . .” she questioned before Gideon stopped her rambling. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her in close.

“Darlin’, I know you’re looking out for me, and I love you for it, but I picked Kazuhiko because I knew he’d be the only one I could trust to call this fight fair. So, don’t worry about these little variables and put all your faith in me. Now, give me a kiss for luck before I kick her ass.”

Henrietta loved the uncanny way her husband waltzed through her worries and pushed them aside. She kissed him passionately before taking his hand and whistled a tune into it—a bard giving him her strength and power before the battle.

Gideon walked out into the stadium to a chorus of cheers and boos from the assembled crowd. He saw Princess Nureha sitting in her royal box, surrounded by other members of the Ten Seat Council. Gideon glanced up around, tipping his hat politely to the audience. He paused and bowed politely to her, showing his respect to her royal highness. She nodded and smiled back, earning the princess a sly wink from the cowboy. Then Gideon turned his attention to Mizufa.

She grinned from ear to ear, exuding confidence. Gideon knew she was far more powerful and skilled than her level 68 dictated. His attitude may appear overconfident, but the sorcerer gunslinger took this duel seriously. Mizufa may be one of the toughest challenges he’d ever faced.

Kazuhiko stood between the two competitors to explain the rules of the PvP. “This is not a fight to the death, understand Mizufa?” he started, knowing how out reckless the warlord gets in a fight. “The first one to knock the other below fifty percent of their hit points wins. Is that clear?”

“Yeah, I know the rules, adventurer,” Mizufa retorted.

“You know me, Kazuhiko, I’m always a straight shooter,” Gideon added.

“Alright, then step back into position and prepare to fight!” Both competitors moved away to give room before the PvP duel commenced. Gideon, however, had a gnawing question eating away at him that he just had to ask.

“Before we begin, Kazuhiko, I’ve got a question for the general,” he began. “Tell me, Mizufa, why did you volunteer for this little gunfight at the OK corral? I heard you were a fighter, but this seems a little out of character. Did Indix talk you into it?”

“No one talks me into anything, adventurer. I’m bored with the local talent and looking for a challenge, that’s all. When I take you down, all of Yamato will hail the General Warlord of Westlande, Mizufa Trude, as the greatest in the land!”

“Don’t count your chickens until the fox is out of the henhouse, Mizufa. You haven’t won anything yet,” Gideon said as he flipped back his coat, itching to draw his weapons. Mizufa drew her weapons—a cutlass in one hand and a thorn whip in the other. Both of them took a defensive stance, ready for a fight.

Kazuhiko looked over at both of them one last time before raising his hand. “And fight!” he shouted, dropping his hand. Gideon took the first move, reaching into his saddlebag and throwing a few of his foxfire grenades at Mizufa. However, the warlord was ready for this ploy. She swung her cutlass, slicing them all at once to render them harmless. Indix warned her about this little trick, and she was ready for it. Unfortunately for Mizufa, Gideon counted on that.

“Inferno Strike!” he chanted, firing off a volley of fireballs from his six-shooter. With the foxfire billowing in the air around Mizufa, his spell ignited the powder as she became engulfed in flames. She jumped back, avoiding some of the blast damage, as Gideon fired off his next attack. “Sinking Sand!” He squeezed the trigger and fired off his next spell, causing the earth beneath her feet to liquify as the warlord began to sink into the ground.

Mizufa used her whip to wrap about Gideon’s gun hand. As he tried to break free, she used the momentum to escape the quicksand and lunged at her opponent. She slashed at him repeatedly, cutting into his hands and face. He had no choice but to drop his weapon. Mizufa saw this as an opportunity to end this duel, and she thrust her sword at Gideon, only to be blocked by rather a large bowie knife.

Gideon reached inside his coat and drew a foot-long blade to parry her thrust. Once he pushed her back, he drew a second blade in his other hand. Mizufa was both angry and confused at seeing a sorcerer duel-wielding a pair of bladed weapons.

“Indix was right; you are a cheater!” she shouted. “How can a sorcerer be wielding blades like a fighter?”

“You really don’t know anything about our sub-classes, do you? I am a blacksmith, armorer, bladesmith, and weaponsmith. I rose through the ranks, mastering each of those sub-classes before moving on to the next one. Because of that, I get a bonus skill to master any bladed weapon of my choosing. After all, what good is being a weaponsmith if you can’t test your work, and I have a rather fond appreciation for the Bowie knife.”

He twirled the blades around in his hands to show off his skills with them. “You see, Jim Bowie was a hero of mine growing up,” Gideon continued. “He died, sick in bed, fighting off Mexican soldiers with only this knife in his hand. He was one of the reasons we have the great state of Texas today.”

“I never heard of this country of Texas you speak of, but if you think a dead man’s knife will help you against me, you’re sadly mistaken!” Mizufa screamed as she launched another assault, swinging viciously at Gideon. To the surprise of many, he held off her attack with those two knives, only taking minimal damage.

“Icicle Blade! Dread Weapon!” Gideon chanted, putting a spell on the edge of each of his knives, making them inflict more damage with each strike. Mizufa realized that his abilities as both a sorcerer and a fighter made him even more formidable than she thought. A change of tactics was the only way to ensure her victory.

Mizufa changed her attack, wrapping up Gideon in her thorn whip to pin his arms down. “It’s over, cowboy!” she shouted in glee as she lunged for a final blow, but Gideon turned to mist and freed himself from her clutches. She spun around quickly to see the gas reform into the sorcerer gunslinger. He used his oral art to initiate the spell, Gaseous Form, to escape her attack. He thrust his knives into her before beginning his incantation.

“Lightning Nebula!” he chanted as he used his blades as a conduit for the electrical attack. It penetrated deep into Mizufa, shocking to the core. Then, without warning, a second lightning nebula rang out and struck Mizufa again until her hit points dropped below 50 percent. Gideon released her, and the warlord general fell to the ground. The match was over.

“Winner, Gideon Hawkmoon!” Kazuhiko declared, raising his hand toward Gideon. The sorcerer gunslinger sheathed his knives and picked up his revolvers from the arena floor before he acknowledged the adulations of the audience. Even though he was an outsider, they appreciated the incredible performance. Gideon tipped his hat to Kazuhiko, earning him a smile and a nod from the ordinarily quiet assassin.

Henrietta rushed out to be with her husband, but their celebration was interrupted by Indix. “Just one damn minute!” she screamed, storming onto the arena floor with the rest of the Ten Seat Council. “How did you cast two Lightning Nebula spells in a row? That spell has a 90-second cool downtime. You shouldn’t have been able to launch another attack so quickly. I see you’re back to your cheating ways, Gideon.”

The crowd mumbled amongst themselves as they listened to Indix’s argument, reasoning the possibility that the sorcerer gunslinger cheated his way to victory. Gideon just laughed at her assertion. “I swear, Indix, you are about as thick as peanut butter in a snowstorm at the north pole at Christmas.” His insult caused a few chuckles in the crowd, but her glare quickly quieted them down. “I didn’t do anything but use a magic item to fire off that second Lightning Nebula.”

He held out his hand and showed her his gold wedding band, inscribed with magical notes around it. Indix looked at the ring, just as confused as before. “Your wedding band? What does that have to do with this?”

“This is a magic item and a gift from my darling wife, Henrietta, who happens to be a bard. She had my wedding ring enchanted with the bard attack spell ‘Maestro’s Echo,’ allowing me to fire off a second magical attack after I cast my original spell. It’s not as powerful as the original but effective enough. It’s how a husband and wife work together to protect one another.”

Indix grew incensed, looking over to Kazuhiko for a ruling on it. He simply shrugged his shoulders. “The use of magic items is not prohibited in a duel. Gideon did nothing wrong, and my decision stands.”

Before she could say anything, Mizufa slowly got to her feet, laughing at the situation. “Damn, cowboy, you sure know how to show a lady a good time,” she exclaimed as she struggled to walk over to Gideon. “You’re not like the other adventurers. You’re not afraid to take a life, even one of the People of the Land, are you?”

Before Gideon could answer, Mizufa wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him passionately. As much as he struggled against her, Gideon couldn’t make her release him. Henrietta was outraged by her behavior, while Indix was disgusted. Finally, Mizufa let him go.

“I like you, Gideon. We’re going to do this again . . . and again, and again.” She dragged her finger across his lips before she walked away, laughing aloud. She may have lost the duel, but it seemed Mizufa found a kindred spirit in Gideon . . . one that enjoyed fighting as much as she did. It didn’t matter that he was married. Eventually, Gideon would belong to her.

 The sorcerer gunslinger wiped the spittle off his lips. “That woman’s as crazy as popcorn on a hot stove,” he said before Henrietta came over and took out her handkerchief to wipe his face clean of that disgusting woman. Gideon then turned his attention to Princess Nureha. “Well, Your Highness, I hope you’re not going to call a foul ball on our duel, are you?”

“Of course not, Master Gideon. I will abide by Kazuhiko’s ruling in this matter. It was a spectacular demonstration of why you are the number one PvP in the world.”

“And, the matter of this conference between Eastal and Westlande?”

“I will coordinate a date and time with the Senate and Prince Saiguu,” she replied. “I’m sure we can have something established within the next month that will accommodate both sides.”

“Well then, if you don’t mind, we’ll be on our way. We’ve got a long flight back to Akiba,” Gideon said with a tip of his hat. Nureha bowed her head politely as Gideon and Henrietta said their goodbyes to KR and Kazuhiko before Gideon called his giant golden eagle to pick them up. Soon, they were flying off toward Akiba.

Nureha watched them leave before she spoke. “Did you get all the information you needed, Jered Gan?”

“Why yes, Princess Nureha. Luring that fool into a duel was a stroke of genius on your part. It was a simple task for me to hide my scanners under the arena floor and around the stadium itself. My equipment took detailed readings from his Fairy Ring Chronometer. Still, it will take me some time to interpret the information and build our own facsimile.”

“You have until this conference begins, Jered Gan. They wanted to show us their resolve. Now we will show them ours.”

* * *

The flight back to Akiba was quiet as Gideon and Henrietta were content to return home as soon as possible. Henrietta had a wedding to plan, and her mind raced with dresses, flowers, and other potential excitement. For Gideon, he contemplated his encounter with Plant Hwyaden repeatedly in his head—the run-in at the gate, the conflict with Indix, and the duel with Mizufa. As tricky as that fight was, everything went too easy. He felt like he had walked into a trap, but he couldn’t place his finger on how or why.

Maybe Shiroe can shed some light on it after he chews me out for fighting a PvP duel like I did. I’m sure to get an earful about that, Gideon thought as he prepared himself for the scolding he was about to get.

“You did what?” Shiroe shouted. Gideon sat there quietly, taking his tongue lashing like he should once he got back to Akiba and reported into Log Horizon. The rest of Log Horizon was there, along with Marielle, Serara, and Major from the Crescent Moon Alliance and Soujiro and Nazuna from the West Wind Brigade. They listened intently to the rundown of everything that happened in Minami. Some of them laughed, knowing that this was precisely how Gideon acted, while others worried about his reckless behavior.

“Come on, Shiroe, it all worked out in the end! No need to get a burr in your saddle,” Gideon retorted.

“That’s not the point, Gideon! You could have lost that duel. You can’t take chances like that,” Shiroe shot back, frustrated that the sorcerer gunslinger failed to comprehend the severity of the situation.

“But they didn’t want me to lose. The princess wanted me to fight in that arena,” he replied. “If they wanted to beat me, Nureha would have sent in Kazuhiko or even Indix. Hell, KR would’ve given me a better fight than Mizufa. Don’t get me wrong, that firecracker is a helluva fighter, but that whole duel was staged for my benefit. I just can’t figure out why.”

“It seemed strange how quickly they orchestrated the match when Princess Nureha just proposed it,” Henrietta interjected.

“So, this wasn’t a ploy to get Gideon to join Plant Hwyaden? Then why do it?” Naotsugu asked.

Shiroe thought about it for a minute, but he needed more information. “Did you sense anything out of the ordinary while in the arena?”

“You mean besides Mizufa sticking her tongue down my throat,” Gideon replied, much to the chagrin of Henrietta.

“Woah, really? Tell me more about it! Did she . . .” Naotsugu started to say, but both Akatsuki and Henrietta kicked him for his lewd inquiry.

“That being said, I can’t say any shenanigans were going on, Shiroe. It’s just a gut feeling.”

“Well, I’ve never been one to question anyone’s instinct, but until we get more information, we’ll have to leave it as an open-ended question until the conference.”

“Good, then in the meantime, Gideon and I have some wonderful news!” Henrietta announced, stepping up behind her husband. “We’re going to get married!”

There was silence in the room. “Ah, hello, you’re already married!” Akatsuki countered.

“I mean, we are going to get married here in Akiba. Gideon promised me a big wedding that we never got around to having, so we’re finally going to have it here. And, Marielle, I want you . . .”

Yes, yes, I’ll be your maid of honor!” Marielle screamed as she jumped to her feet and ran over to Henrietta. “Oh my God, this is so exciting!” As the two friends started exchanging ideas, Akatsuki realized how this would affect her and the other girls.

“Oh no!” she exclaimed.

“What’s wrong, Akatsuki?” Minori asked.

“A wedding means bridesmaids, and that means . . .”

“Bridesmaid dresses!” Akatsuki, Minori, Serara, and Isuzu all said the same thing.

“Frilly, gaudy dresses . . .” Akatsuki screeched.

“With ruffles and bows . . .” Minori added.

“Hideously ugly!” Isuzu concluded, but Henrietta wrapped her arms around all of them before they could run away.

“Oh yes, my little cuties, I have the perfect dresses in mind for you! Pale pink for a spring wedding! You will look so adorable!” She crushed them in a tight bear hug, squeezing their faces with hers. The four girls succumbed to their fate, much to the amusement of the men, until Gideon burst their bubble.

“Don’t think ya’ll getting off so easily,” he admonished them. “I’m gonna need some groomsmen to escort these lovely ladies.” That announcement quickly shut down all the snickers from the men in the room as they realized their fate. “First things first . . . Chief Nyanta, Henrietta, and I would like you to officiate our ceremony again if you don’t mind.”

“Mew would be honored to preside over your marriage vows one more time,” Nyanta said with a bow.

“Naotsugu, old buddy, I would be honored to have you as my best man,” Gideon said, placing his hand on the guardian’s shoulder. “What do you say?”

“Oh yeah, we will have an awesome bachelor party!” Naotsugu shouted before a wayward glance from both Henrietta and Marielle brought him to his senses. “I mean, yeah, sure, you got it, hoss.”

“Now then, Henrietta darlin’, you only have four bridesmaids, five if you include Marielle. Seven is my lucky number, so how about we add a couple more to the mix.”

“Well, I suppose so,” Henrietta replied before she started looking around the room for additional candidates for bridesmaids.

“Not me, uh-uh, no way. A rising galaxy starlet like me wouldn’t be caught dead in one of those frilly, poofy dresses. I have my reputation to think of!” Tetora announced, waving off any chance of being picked for the lineup.

“Well, since we have three from Log Horizon, maybe one more from Crescent Moon,” Marielle interjected.

“Wonderful idea, Marielle. I’ll ask Liliana since she’s been with us the longest. So, we just need one more . . .” Henrietta and Marielle glared at the only other eligible female in the room, and Nazuna grew nervous from their overt stares.

“No, no way, I love you, Henrietta, but no frickin’ way!” she complained until Gideon said something to change her mind.

“Look at it this way, Nazuna. I’ll have Soujiro be one of my groomsmen, and he’ll be the one to escort you down the aisle. That’s something you can laud over your girls in the West Wind Brigade,” Gideon whispered to her, which made her fox ears perk up. His idea caught Soujiro off guard, but he couldn’t say no when he saw how happy it made Nazuna.

“Okay, Gideon, you win. If Nazuna wants to be in the wedding party, then who am I to say no,” Soujiro reluctantly agreed, bringing a massive smile to Nazuna’s face.

“Well, okay then, I’d like to have Shiroe, Touya, Rudy, and Major for the rest of my groomsmen. If Miss Liliana says yes, we’ll add Shouryuu to even things out to lucky seven. There’s only one thing left . . .”

“Oh, what’s that?” Marielle asked before Henrietta walked over to Doc.

“Doc, in the absence of my father, I would like to ask you if you would stand in his place. You did so much in bringing Gideon back to me. I would be grateful if you would give me away.”

The Inuit medicine man was brought to tears again by the love and affection shown to him by these people he had just met months ago. He was so overwhelmed with emotion that he couldn’t speak. Doc just nodded his head before Henrietta hugged him and kissed him on the cheek. Even a few others in the room were brought to tears by the monumental gesture, even the men who wiped them away quickly to avoid any sign of unmanliness.

“Well, alright then, let’s turn this wedding into a full-blown Akiba celebration!” Gideon proclaimed, drawing cheers from everyone.

* * *

I have a lot going on in the month of May so I will probably get back to my fan fiction in June. In the meantime, you can catch up on the story in my Fan Fiction archive and get ready for Part 8 of A Tale of Log Horizon: The Wedding of the Gunslinger and the Bard!

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