「It’s begun attacking a lot faster!」
「You hanging in there?」
「By a thread.」
If the flurry of attacks kept on getting faster and faster at that pace they’d eventually just overwhelm her. Under normal circumstances she would’ve been able to hold on for longer but she had to divert some of her attention to keeping Tatsuya safe and, to top it all off, her blade was no longer cleanly slashing off any of the vines. Haruna tried using every cc ability in her kit, she switched to a flame enchanted blade to take advantage of its weakness, all to no avail.
(I’ve got to make this work. If I don’t find way to cut through them we’ll…we’ll…)
Haruna’s unconscious had already begun imagining the worst possible outcome but she managed to hold it back from bleeding into conscious territory. A few things were certain about her current predicament – if she was able to cut through any of the wines with her regular blade that would buy her around twenty seconds and if she was to do it with the fire enchanted one that would put it out of commission for good.
What this meant was that as long as she could find a way to cut through their defenses with the fire enchanted sword they could successfully weather through this one, which was easier said than done in all fairness. If Hiroshi was faced with the exact same situation he’d just power through with brute force, Makoto would’ve cut through the wines like butter. Haruna, meanwhile, was reliant on raw attack speed meaning that her only option here was to use her head and get creative if she wanted to survive. There was the option of pulling out a sickle but she was hesitant about revealing her hand unless it was absolutely necessary as a last resort. As a result of this she made the right strategic call but reached it through faulty reasoning. If she was thinking straight she’d remember that her proficiency with the weapon was at a novice level, which by itself was bad enough but coupled with the fact that they were facing off against a boss of all things and the fact that the rapier was a stab focused weapon while the sickle was meant for slashing, meaning that she’d also have to get used to an entirely new weapon style on the spot. All these three factors combines would’ve undoubtedly spelled disaster.
Haruna was desperately trying to not let her unconscious take the wheel by intensely focusing on what was going on around her. She had already thought of a way out of this sticky predicament and was just aiming for the perfect opportunity to execute it, all the while making quick work of a wine that was attempting to get the drop on her from behind and successfully searing through another one that had its sights set on Tatsuya. After those two successive failures the onslaught got even more intense.
At that point her unconscious had to take matters into its own hands. All conscious thought had been cast away like an afterthought to make room for pure animal instinct to fully surface. In this fight or flight state of hers Haruna was able to coast by a simultaneous barrage from all four directions and even found the time to briskly dispose of two cheeky ones that were attempting to sneak in a hit on Tatsuya by slithering across the ground. What she didn’t realize in this drunken frame of mind was that one of them had been methodically approaching her from just outside her field of view and once she took notice it was already in the perfect position to bind both of her weapons. As she struggled to shake the damn things off while keeping the other wines at bay with fire magic, the man eater’s dipper had coagulated some of its stomach acid in the shape of a bullet and discharged it right at her.
(I won’t make it in time!)
Its airspeed velocity was just high enough to where it would reach its target faster than it could put up a defensive barrier. It wasn’t by any means fast enough to be completely unavoidable but if she were to take that route it would’ve just been on a direct course for Tatsuya. She could’ve redirected its trajectory if she hadn’t lost the aforementioned tug of war battle. Tatsuya was this close to bringing it down so she had to think of something, anything to buy him some time.
Haruna knew what had to be done so she embraced for impact and made sure to cover her head as snugly as possible to avoid fatal damages. So long as it hit anywhere else the combined defense value of her passive effects and wyvern leather armor would make sure that no lasting injuries would occur. Her precious locks would get corroded in the process but she really didn’t have a choice in the matter.
Tatsuya’s magic went off just as she had come to grips with the thought of parting ways with her luscious set of hair. Contrary to her expectations it wasn’t the holy octo-cannon but some other spell she’d never seen. She figured that Tatsuya alone knew the optimal casting order in this specific situation so she didn’t think much of it at the moment and patiently sat back for the inevitable acid shower. She waited and waited and waited some more but nothing happened.
「I’ve put up a barrier, get a grip on yourself while you still can!」
She said as she pulled out a sickle that was hanging from her belt and busted out another fire enhanced blade. Tatsuya called off the barrier and got right back to casting the holy octo-cannon.
「How do you like them apples!」
Haruna exclaimed as she proceeded to mop the floor with any incoming wines. The man eater tried the same congealed acid bullet thing in desperation but that was a swing and a miss since Haruna had slipped an ice enchanted blade under her sleeve for just such an occasion. The bullet got stopped right in tracks and shattered into a million pieces upon making contact with the ground.
「Move out of the way, I’m going to try to cheese this one!」
Haruna cleared out of the way just as he had ordered and also took the opportunity to collect her rapier. Tatsuya’s holy octo-cannon went off a mere moment later but instead of one blast there were two.
「How about you try this one on for size!」
As those words left his mouth the man eater was promptly enveloped in the tender embrace of the holy octo-cannon which then cradled the poor thing to a better place, far far away from where the three originally intersected.
「What on earth was that all about?」
「Not something I’d recommend trying at home but it’s possible to have the same spell go off twice if you pop an instant cast unaspected spell with no cd nor cast animation during a very precise point in the wind up process. Many casters were concerned whether it was a bug or a feature so they asked the game company directly and it was confirmed to, in fact, be a feature. That being said it’s fairly inconsistent since the timing is so precise so I was taking a gamble back there and hoped that it’d pay off.」
「That sounds like it’d be nice to have.」
「The spell’s cost goes up four fold if one does successfully pull it off so it only really sees use on the rare occasions where quick dps is in order.」
Instant cast unaspected spells with no cd nor cast animation also had other uses such as putting spells off cooldown if used right. This is widely known as a ‘cooldown reset’ but it wasn’t without its downsides either since it’d double the mana cost of that particular spell, which only made it usable under certain conditions. They weren’t all too spam friendly either because of the effect queuing up more than a certain amount of actions per second had on input lag.
「Well anyway that was a close call.」
「I’ve fought mobs like this before in-game but here they just feel a lot more powerful for some reason.」
「Well there’s quite a bit if a difference when it’s adapting to every one of our moves in real time whereas in game it’s got a few mechanics at best.」
Tatsuya nodded to Haruna’s assessment of the matter and waddled off the collect the crystal that had been inconspicuously laying besides the man eater’s original location.
「My mana pool’s almost completely dried up, what say we take a quick breather?」
「I’ll put up a barrier.」
If there’s anything this mentally taxing encounter taught them it’s to appreciate just how easier life is with a dedicated tank holding the front lines.
Meanwhile Makoto and Mio.
「I could’ve sworn that wasn’t there before.」
「The miasma levels have gone way up, I think we might’ve been teleported against our will.」
Makoto nodded to Mio’s observation. Since they were actively avoiding areas with high miasma levels they have yet to get caught up in any encounter nor have come across any traps. Out of the entire three groups it was Haruna and Tatsuya who got the short end of the stick when it came to surprise encounters as Hiroshi’s gung ho approach to the dungeon, against all expectations, proved to be surprisingly efficient at circumventing the conventional dungeon perils that they took on the chin.
「Do you think this boss man guy’ll go easy on us?」
「Who says it’s going to be a guy, or even a humanoid to begin with?」
Makoto’s lighthearted jest was met with an immediate sassy remark from Mio. If there’s anything the two didn’t lack it’s a laid back attitude even in the face of danger.
「Specifics aside we still aren’t going anywhere until we get past it. Would you mind poking around for traps?」
Mio went along with Makoto’s suggestion and approached the manmade door, that felt disturbingly out of place in a dungeon consisting of nothing but green, green and more green, with a calculated preciseness behind every step. This made it appear as though she was messing around to the untrained eye, due to how unconventional her walking form had become to suit the situation. After thoroughly examining the door it became clear that there were neither any traps nor a lock of any sorts. She gently pushed the door open and peaked inside.
The two nodded to one another and gently closed the door as though nothing ever happened.
「Well, that was one fugly thing.」
「That’s putting it lightly.」
Beyond the door stood a mob with the head of a leopard and the body of what could only be described as a failed freakish experiment to fuse a lizard and a gorilla together. It’s build most closely resembled that of a humanoid, which would make it seem as though things couldn’t possibly *that* bad, if not for…
「Why would fungi be infesting its entire body?」
Parts of the creature’s body were caked in a layer of mushrooms and hypha, while others had plant life growing out of them. Its eyes were vacant, as though the things very soul had been encroached upon by the parasitic fungi, leaving only an empty husk of what it once was. If this abomination were to spring into action it was safe to say that whatever laid beneath had no say in the matter.
Despite its gruesome state of affairs it was still fully possible to make out a clear mental image of what it had looked like before the infestation, which made it leagues more unsettling to look at than any old zombie.
「To use as sustenance?」
「Perhaps, but more importantly」
The creature’s outward appearance gave Makoto a good idea of what they should be expecting from it in a fight. She sounded worn out just from vocalizing this observation of hers.
「If it were to spring into life, we’d be in a really bad spot.」
Mio nodded to Makoto’s statement. Just like Hiroshi/Artiem had issues with raw damage output and Tatsuya/Haruna lacked in tankiness, Makoto/Mio’s pairing had its own flaws in that their aspected attack arsenal lacked in diversity. Mio’s short-hand enchants weren’t potent enough to apply any aspected buff, meanwhile Makoto had some holy damage in her kit but that’s about as far as it went. The former would’ve had access to fire damage in her bow abilities had she not shirked on the resource gathering part.
Thanks for the new chapter!
Thanks for the chapter.
Is it just me or are these encounters much more “game”ish than their past encounters?
They’re mentioning actual damage numbers and input lag and what not.
These chapters definitely aren’t edited.