While she tried to get used to a defensive style of fighting Leona heard the sound of men on horseback shouting as something attacked them. Leona recalled that she had sent Sky Champion Rafale and Tempest Avian after them, so she peeked over the wall and saw a group of horsemen firing at the summons. Leona rested her carbine on the wall and aimed the back of a man aiming at Sky Champion Rafale, who had just decapitated a horseman and was zooming away while under intense gunfire. Leona fired once and hit the target below the left shoulder, causing him to yell in pain and drop his weapon.
The village militia stood up, aimed their rifles, and fired a volley into the horsemen, killing several of them. The horsemen who were not busy shooting at her summons fired back, killing five of the militiamen and wounding several others. Leona saw that they were within 75 meters of the village before a rifle bullet ricocheted off of the top of the wall to the left side of her head, causing her to shriek and duck down again.
Leona took a mental tally of her success with firearms and recalled that she had fired three times and had only scored one hit. She definitely needed to learn how to use the weapon before she got into another serious battle with it. In the meantime she heard a warning.
"They're fifty meters from the wall!" A voice shouted a warning. The militia stood up again and Leona stood with them. She carefully aimed at a man charging with his rifle pointed at her and fired at his chest, grazing his torso. He clenched his teeth and Leona aimed at his chest and fired again, this time hitting him in the torso and knocking him from the steed. A shot rang out and Leona heard a bullet whiz by her left ear... it was time to duck!
Leona ducked down and found that the man to her left had been killed with a single shot to the head. She faced left and waited for the other men to stand up for another volley before standing again. Seconds later they did and Leona stood up. Now the slavers were only 25 meters away.
"Fire!" The voice yelled. The militiamen fired their rifles and knocked some of the charging horsemen from their steeds. The slavers fired back and hit four of the men, killing one and wounding three in various places. Jaesa was right... the slavers firing from horseback was ruining their accuracy. However, a few veteran slavers who were accustomed to shooting from horseback were putting up a fight.
"They're at the wall! Fire at will!" The voice yelled. Leona stood up and raised her left hand, casting a Wind Blast that caught six of the slavers and staggered their horses, giving the militiamen enough time to pick half of them off. Leona took her carbine back into her hands and aimed at a man who was aiming his rifle at her. She aimed for his torso and fired, sending a shot just above his left shoulder. She aimed and fired again, hitting him in the throat and knocking him from his horse.
Leona winced as the man landed a short distance from her and bled on the sand, but she did not have time to be disgusted because another slaver was bearing down on her. He fired and grazed her left shoulder, causing her to cry out in pain. She ignored it and aimed her weapon, aiming for his torso. She fired once and hit him, then fired again and hit a second time. A third shot dumped him from the saddle and onto the sand. Leona saw the village militia falling back and joined them.
A slaver wearing a white turban with a gold band circling around the middle and holding a revolver charged her with the pistol blazing, hitting the sand around her feet twice and grazing her right shoulder with a third shot. Leona spun around and aimed, firing a snapshot at him that somehow hit the man in the head and made him fall backwards off of his horse. That seemed to break the momentum of the attack because the slavers wheeled their mounts around and fired parting shots, then galloped away from the village.
"They're retreating!" The voice called out. The militiamen cheered and fired shots at the retreating slavers to "encourage" them to keep retreating. Leona saw three more of them fall out of their saddles with bullet holes to the back. Leona decided to try for one more herself and aimed at a fleeing slaver, firing once and missing. She aimed and fired again, grazing the horse's right flank and causing it to rear up and nearly throw the rider off. He regained control of his mount and galloped away... Leona felt more sorry for the horse than she did its rider.
Leona and the militia approached the wall and found that they had killed seventeen of the slavers. The militia had lost twenty killed and seven wounded. That was not a good exchange rate, but Nebdoui had bought its survival for another day. She saw some militiamen collect their dead and wounded while still others walked towards the dead slavers to collect their weapons and ammunition. Leonidas approached her.
"How do you like this new way of fighting?" Leonidas asked Leona.
"I liked the old way better." Leona commented dryly just as her summons began to land beside her. Her brother frowned as she dispelled them.
"Well, this is going to be the new norm now that Desierto's outlaws are getting rifles, so you're going to need to learn how to shoot a gun if you want to live." Leonidas told her bluntly. His words hit so hard that Leona nearly got blunt force trauma from them, but he was right. She would need to adapt to the new style of fighting if she wanted to survive in the desert. Leona turned from Leonidas to the dead slaver with the revolver lying a foot from his right hand and pointed at the weapon.
"Hey, do you think that pistol's a good weapon for me?" Leona asked him. Leonidas shrugged his shoulders.
"I don't know, Leona. Your aim's pretty bad. You'll only have six shots with that thing." He said, walking over to it and picking it up. He examined it and aimed the weapon at the slaver's back, pulling the trigger. The man's corpse leapt from receiving the shot.
"Yeah, of course my aim's bad. This is the first time I've ever used a gun." Leona defended herself.
"It's a double action revolver, meaning that each pull of the trigger rotates the cylinder to the next chamber and makes the hammer strike the firing pin, thus firing the gun. It's good if you don't want to spend time pulling the hammer back with your thumb, but you have to pull the trigger harder than you would with a single action revolver." Leonidas explained, ignoring Leona's defensive comment. Leona blinked.
"What does all that mean?" Leona asked. Leonidas look towards her and smiled for the first time in a long time.
"You've got a lot to learn, Leona." He said to her, twirling the revolver on his finger.
"Wait, how do you know so much about guns? Aren't they new in our village?" Leona asked in a defensive tone. Leonidas kept smiling.
"You see, we have friends in Berreb who know people and... c'mon, I'll tell you while you get patched up." Leonidas started to explain to her before reminding her to seek medical attention. Leona glanced at her left shoulder and saw what he meant.
"Yeah, let's get some medical attention... after the people who really need it get it first." Leona said to him. Together she and Leonidas headed for the medicine woman's tent. While it had been a sad day for Nebdoui because it had lost Chief Elijah, it was also a good day because Leona and the village militia had prevented the Golden Band from taking advantage of the tragedy to destroy the village and take its inhabitants into slavery.
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