Realizing that attacking the main unit would have minimal effect, Artiem focused on the hanger-ons like hunter trees, shooting them with knockback skills. The most surefire way to deal with immobile tree monsters was to fire repeated shots with high knockback out of their range and smash them in from the roots.
「It’s a losin’ game if ya stay in range！」
Hiroshi used Around Guard to crush the ranged leaf blade attacks. Being a scatter-type attack, it would do little more than scratch Artiem, but for Hiroshi, who had extremely high resistance to status effects and special attacks, it was difficult to anticipate what kind of tricks the opponent might use to nullify all of that. Therefore, it was logical to err on the side of caution and stop even the weakest of attacks.
Hiroshi made the right decision. There had been poison mixed in the attack that inflicted paralysis and confusion. Had Artiem been hit with that, she would have likely aimed at Hiroshi with her paralyzed body and fired Buster Shot, which would be a major inconvenience. From there it would have been a one-way ticket to a sucky future.
「One more! Buster Shot!」
After shooting a light knockback arrow, she shot out one more, following up with two more knockback arrows. Once the cooldown was over, she activated Buster Shot. With the continuous string of attacks, Artiem was finally able to defeat one hunter tree.
「I did it!」
「There’re still more. Don’t let yer guard down!」
Hiroshi cautioned Artiem as she rejoiced over the defeat of a lackey. Now that one of the trees was defeated, the density of their attacks had decreased, but their actions had now taken a strange turn. Clearly, the enemy was thinking of a different plan of action.
The branches and vines stretched out to entangle Hiroshi, affirming his prediction. Now that they knew Hiroshi would not be easily defeated, the trees were trying to immobilize him.
「Heavy Weight！Just try ‘n lift me now!」
Hiroshi activated the skill he had used against Barold. He did not have strong resistance to knockback/blowback attacks, so Hiroshi had learned this skill in order to temporarily increase his weight by ten times. Combined with his heavy mace, Hiroshi’s weight became over one ton despite his low proficiency. If one hunter tree couldn’t so much as lift your average 90 kg dwarf, then six hunter trees and one evil ent would have some serious trouble even trying to slightly lift him off the ground.
Hiroshi ripped their branches off with monstrous strength, breaking the stalemate. Although Hiroshi slightly lost in max firepower per attack in comparison to Seventh Class adventurers, there was no one here who could beat him in pure armpower. He already possessed inhuman levels of Perception and Dexterity, able to grab the likes of delicate creatures like bats without breaking their bones, but if he felt like it he could easily snap a big tree in half.
Even an opponent as tough as an evil ent could not hope to possibly bind him with ten or twenty branches.
「Keep it comin’！」
He roared with intimidation again as he ripped off branches and vines. Feeling a bad premonition, he decided it was best to keep the target from moving. Maybe the hunter trees weren’t an issue, but one hit from the evil ent from behind would be potentially fatal.
As he continued to brave this nerve-wracking situation, Hiroshi felt a momentary chill down his spine. Cutting down branches that were trying to trip him, tearing apart vines that had tangled around his arms, and completely ignoring the branches that were giving his face a good whack, he ascertained his opponent’s next attack. After he had thwarted the last attack from their string of combos, Hiroshi sensed something strange at his feet.
In the spur of the moment, he launched Artiem far away with Smash, reducing the damage as much as he could. Artiem, unable to comprehend why she was suddenly sent flying off, stared dumbfounded at the scene before her eyes. By the time she had reached the wall (with little to no damage), disaster struck.
Numerous roots had emerged from the ground, piercing throughout Hiroshi’s body like spears. Another sort of despondency assailed his body, separate from the damage he had just received. The next moment, countless more branches grew out of the ceiling and stabbed him. This trump card was an ent technique called Thousand Pike, which was a truly unpleasant move that targeted every individual in the vicinity. Since every attack was discriminate, Around Guard could not negate it. There was only one way to deal with it: escape out of its firing range.
By the time Artiem recognized that she had escaped thanks to Hiroshi, he was surrounded by branches and roots, no longer visible.
Before Artiem had gotten a grasp on the situation enough to scream, Haruna’s voice rang out first. It seemed that all the participants in the boss subjugation had finally gathered.
A little bit prior to all of this…
Haruna and Tatsuya blocked the branches that had grown from the walls and leaf blades that came flying at them with defensive magic. Perhaps to be expected, the dungeon had begun its final attempt at preventing them from reaching the boss room unscathed.
「Yeah, from the looks of it, I’d say they’ve realized that they’re screwed if we get there right away.」
「Still, this is pretty dense. Defense-wise, we might be fine, but how exactly we break through is going to be a bit of an issue.」
「No arm strength～」
「Not enough power～」
Affirming what Haruna had said, the octo-gals all commented on the need for more power. For some reason, there were always odd vocabulary words mixed in with what they said.
「Well, it might be possible to get an opening if we slam our mana at them……」
「You’re really going to use up all your firepower right here, Tatsu?」
「But even so, the only ones who can attack without proper footing are you and I, Mio. I don’t see any other way. Unless you have a move you can use for times like these?」
Expecting that response, Tatsuya sighed deeply as he re-gripped his staff.
「If I could actually stand somewhere, I’d be the one to get us out of this mess……」
Makoto muttered in a truly frustrated voice as she surveyed all of this. Overhearing her muttering, the octo-girls floated over to her with weird looks on their faces.
「You need a foothold～？」
「If you have a foothold, you can go through～？」
「Wanna make a foothold～？」
Tatsuya, who had just started chanting an incantation, suspended his magic as soon as he heard this, staring at the octo-gals with a dumbfounded expression.
「You can freaking do that？」
「A minute at max～」
「A little bit soft～」
Unexpectedly enough, the octo-gals gave a straightforward answer. Everyone looked at each other with dumbfounded faces. Makoto was the one who finally broke the awkward silence.
「So if you’re able to do it, can you?」
Along with lively yells, the octo-gals moved to the floor, fusing together.
「Field set-up complete～」
「Step, step on us～」
「Don’t make it hurt～」
They conveyed this information along with slightly strange word choices. Makoto saw no use in overthinking things, immediately stepping onto the platform and focusing all of her energy on the longsword.
「Here goes！ Break Stampede！」
Having considered beforehand that the commander of the dungeon was both element-less and acted as a wall, Makoto pulverized the branches with the highest class move she could muster. Still, it was difficult to continue a string of attacks with such a heavy sword, and this attack was enough to open a path.
「One more to go！ Smash Impulse！」
As the dungeon was attempting to create a denser wall of branches, Makoto halted it by using the second most powerful advanced smash move. Completing this in just under a minute, she had managed to fully open the way.
「Even if it is impossible to breach the wall of a dungeon, it’s no issue if it’s a thick barricade of branches.」
「Mako, you’re so cool.」
「Yeah, gotta be helpful sometimes, right?」
Makoto boasted, yielding again to the octo-gals. One minute in, and the group had made a good amount of progress. In two more minutes, they could land on the ground with their current footing provided by the octo-gals.
「Yeah, I’d say they won’t be troubling us anymore.」
「Let’s hope so.」
「Or if they did, maybe it would be something like the floor running away?」
「I guess, yeah.」
Just as Makoto had said, they were able to move to safe land without any issues.
Tatsuya interjected as he barely managed to land safely. Right after one of the octo-gals had enthusiastically yelled the phrase “disposed of”, they had actually let him down in a rather sloppy manner. The other three had landed comparatively gracefully on the ground, despite being dropped in the same way. Noticing the difference in their athletic abilities, he couldn’t help but feel slightly dejected.
「Oh yeah. We need to hurry and assist Hiro and the others……」
And when he looked into the midst of the miasma…
Right at that time, Hiroshi was being skewered by countless roots and branches, and everyone with Tatsuya saw the exact moment where Hiroshi was entangled and invisible.
「This is bad！」
「I know he’s strong, but even Hiroshi won’t last that!」
Shuddering momentarily from the attack, Tatsuya and Makoto immediately moved to rescue him. Haruna had already begun chanting restorative incantations, and Mio was dashing over to where Artiem was in order to cover her.
Before their efforts could come to fruition, the mass of branches encircling Hiroshi made a grinding sound as it expanded. And then…
「…all ya gooot！?」
Hiroshi screamed as he swung the pole axe in a wide arc, forcibly slashing down all the branches and roots and ripping them to shreds.
「Gotta do better than that to defeat me, mate！」
Hiroshi defiantly announced that he was still fine, despite the fact that the string of attacks had splattered his blood everywhere. Plus he had just taken an attack that could have killed even Makoto in one hit, and with lowered defense to boot. He couldn’t be as fine as he made it out to be. Hiroshi also had a drain status effect on him, so his stamina was approaching a rather dangerous point.
Still, even if he were hit with more combos right now, he could probably endure at least ten more.
Thanks for the new chapter!
Jesus, Hiroshi is a monster!
Thanks for the chapter!!!
At this point he could have an arm lopped off and he’d just say, “Tis but a flesh wound.”
Thanks for the chapter. Woao Hisroshi showing a manly side, thats new!!!!!!