TNG Vol. 18 Chapter 4 Part 3
Shin turned towards Sety.
“Sety, have them taste another one.”
If it was only the Guardian, Shin considered waiting until they showed themselves.
Once he learned that the enemy leaked miasma, however, he discarded any such patience. Even if the Guardian was the source of the miasma, he did not expect a Guardian corrupted by miasma to be able to negotiate with other Guardians.
Even in the extreme case such a Guardian proposed to negotiate, Shin would not accept. And since their available plans of action were now reduced to one, there was no reason to give the enemy time to prepare.
Without the slightest hesitation, Sety dropped another 【Meteolight】 in the crater.
Also because of equipment bonuses, 【Meteolight】 would normally affect a much wider area, but Sety’s was slightly different. She had modified it to focus on a smaller area but heighten the offensive power.
Its piercing power had naturally increased too. She also used Shin’s enhanced 『Dusk Moon』 to fire it, so the Skill’s power was easily superior to the game era version.
Shin’s detection field confirmed that the sphere of light hit the presence coming up the hole. Even so, the icon’s ascension did not slow down at all.
“It won’t stop even after all that…? I-it’s almost out!!”
The enemy presence was about 20 mel from the surface when Sety shouted. They couldn’t see its HP, so they had no idea yet of how much damage Sety’s spells had caused.
Before the presence appeared, however, something changed at ground level.
The ice started cracking near the crater. As time passed, the ice cracked and melted, hot vapors rising from it.
“I see…no wonder Sety’s attacks didn’t slow it down.”
— B%=da#ry Gu&=?an L%”#7W5 Poss!*+$>
Following Filma’s whisper, 【Analyze】 revealed the presence’s identity.
Just like when they used it on the first Guardian, however, the information appeared bugged. Even if it hadn’t revealed itself fully, it was still considered as a target.
Before the party’s eyes, the once frozen magma started flowing again. It started falling in the crater, only to flow back out several minutes later, together with the magma rising from underground.
The magma seemed to pulsate, just like a volcano immediately before eruption. Something about it was clearly different from before, though: only a small amount flowed back out on the ground. Most of the magma floated in midair instead, gathering into a single spot.
— B%=da#ry Gu&=?an L%”#7W5 Poss!*+$>
The magma progressively took a humanlike shape.
It was strikingly similar to a Red Mound: long, stretched upper body and arms, a head-like appendage. The differences were its much greater size and the large globes of light encased in its chest and head.
A red, sometimes white hot giant embedded with sludge colored spheres. It was surely not a pretty sight.
— Boundary Guardian Level 755 Possession Type: Demon
As they watched the red giant take shape, 【Analyze】 finally completed its task. All bugged text was gone, revealing the creature’s information in its entirety.
“My 【Analyze】 says that this guy is the boss. What about yours?”
“I agree as well. After it appeared, I could clearly feel its presence.”
Shin asked Gelganger for confirmation and the latter nodded. It hypothesized that the reason why its presence was not clear until now was that it was melting inside the magma accumulated in the Sacred Place.
“And it’s even possessed by a Demon…what do you think is going on here?”
“I cannot personally detect that, but…it would not be impossible. Guardians are different from other monsters, but they are not completely above the laws that govern this world. They will still succumb to opponents more powerful than them.”
It was probably a Parasite-type Demon. Most of them targeted humans, but they could also inhabit the bodies of monsters.
“Parasite Demons can even possess Guardians? I feel like beating up whoever thought this was okay…”
Parasite types were regarded as extremely annoying enemies since the game era. It was normal for Milt to grumble a bit.
“We don’t know of any ways to remove the Demon or undo the possession, so we’re taking it down, okay?”
“There is no other way, I suppose. Number 43 too surely feels humiliated by being used like this.”
Shin stated they would take down the Guardian and the core with it: Gelganger nodded in response, a melancholic expression on its face.
Shin faced the Guardian again, weapon in hand.
The magma flowing in the Sacred Place was all absorbed by its body: only the remains of the buildings transforming into 『Drop of Erathem』 were left.
The ground and walls seemed to exhale heat. The entire party was equipped with heat resistant equipment, so they would not be burned even if they came in contact with them. Their lungs were safe, even if the air they were breathing was burning hot.
They had to be wary of the Guardian’s attacks. Even if their equipment resisted heat, it could not nullify physical attacks. The enemy’s large size itself was a powerful weapon.
“First, Schnee and I will shave off its surface with Water magic. Then let’s all see how it reacts and attacks together. There might be other monsters around too, so watch your backs.”
The fighting style of the party members other than Shin and Schnee was more or less fixed.
If the boss seemed to be affected by physical attacks, Filma and Milt would join in: if magic was more effective, Sety would take the lead. Tiera’s arrows could serve in both cases, depending on what Skill she used.
Kagerou had Sety, Tiera and Yuzuha on his back, to help them move more quickly and guard them in case of necessity.
Yuzuha could boost Sety and Tiera’s attacks, watching over the situation in case anything unexpected happened.
Following Shin’s command, everyone started running down the castle walls.
Shin and the others used Skills, while Kagerou relied on his own natural abilities.
A few seconds later, the Guardian moved too.
The spheres on its head-like appendage started glowing fiercely, signaling it was aware of their offensive. There had to be a reason why it hadn’t moved until then.
“Let’s attack first.”
Shin and Schnee lightly landed on the ground and prepared to cast another 【Absolut】.
A mass of cold air formed over the Guardian. Before it could be released, however, the enemy made its move.
Its magma body was more nimble than what they expected.
The monster stretched its arms upwards, as if cupping the sphere of cold air in its palms.
Even though the extremities of the monster’s hands formed hand-like shapes, the fingers were rugged and choppy. It looked like the five fingers could easily morph in something else.
Because of that, however, it could do something impossible for a regular five-fingered hand: completely envelop the Water magic sphere. As soon as it did, the fingers fused together in a solid block.
Even if trapped inside magma, 【Absolut】’s cold air did not vanish and released its chilling wind.
The monster’s hands quickly froze, followed by its torso.
The freezing effect stopped at the shoulders, though. Hot vapors started rising from the monster’s body, gradually melting the frozen parts.
It could not perfectly return to its original form, however.
The Guardian’s arms melted only up to the elbow: From there up to the hands, the monster’s body was still frozen and even started cracking. Inside the cracked hands, however, the cold air was no more.
“(It can contain an 【Absolut】, I see. But since it blocked it, we know that it’s not strong enough to ignore it. At the very least, its HP decreased.)”
“(Looks like it temporarily increased its body temperature. After the arms melted, its temperature went down.)”
Shin observed the Guardian while running. The party scattered in all directions, so they shared their findings via Mind Chat.
Milt, who was running close to him, told the rest of the party what she saw through the 【Thermal Sight】 Skill.
“(Doesn’t look like it’s interested in recovering the frozen parts, though.)”
The monster’s hands, frozen and shattered, were scattered on the ground.
A few seconds later, they melted and evaporated. Schnee noted that they did not remain as magma.
The monster fashioned new arms from the melting magma forming its body.
It was a shapeshifter, so it could probably recreate any lost body parts, if given time. Its movements were not awkward either.
“(It’s moving as if nothing happened, but it definitely lost HP. Once its body parts are cut off from the body, they probably can’t regenerate. Let’s try shaving or cutting its limbs off.)”
As Shin spoke, one mel long, five cemel wide blue spears of ice formed in the air all around him. They followed him as he ran, maintaining the same height and distance.
Water-type Magic Skill 【Blue Erosion】
This skill could create up to eight spears of ice, based on the caster’s stats.
If one wanted simply to throw a spear of ice, the Water-type Magic Skill 【Ice Lance】 would allow one to do so instantly, while also having more projectiles and higher offensive power.
Shin had chosen 【Blue Erosion】 instead, as it had an ability that 【Ice Lance】 lacked.
Shin swung his arm, and the ice lances flew through the air, targeting the Guardian.
The eight spears of ice traced arcs of light as they flew, deftly dodging the monster’s attempts to knock them down: three of them pierced its torso, one the base of the left arm, three the right arm, guarding the body.
The last spear, finally, pierced the Guardian in the connection between torso and head — the part corresponding to the human neck.
The lances pierced into the Guardian’s body roughly 30 cemel: considering the monster’s size, it was barely a scratch. Unlike humans, it did not possess muscles or bones, so it continued moving as if it felt nothing.
“It does raise its temperature after it gets frozen, after all.”
At the same time of Milt’s comment, the Guardian’s left arm was snapped off its body.
With the sound of a shattering boulder, the left arm fell: from the point where the ice spear struck, the whole arm quickly froze and shattered as soon as it hit the ground.
While the arm froze very quickly, the torso was barely affected: there was probably a difference in their composition.
【Blue Erosion】 spears had the power of freezing the surroundings of their target.
As flame skills caused burns and lightning skills caused paralysis, this skill focused on causing such a side effect.
The Guardian, its movements dulled by Shin’s 【Blue Erosion】, was enveloped in a blast of white smoke.
Fragments of ice and white clouds spread all around. It was the effect of Schnee’s 【Ice Explosion】.
It was a Water-type Magic Skill, like 【Blue Erosion】: while Shin’s Skill focused on freezing its targets and their surroundings, Schnee’s Skill could freeze a wide area.
The former could freeze the target deeply, but its range was small: the latter had a wider, albeit more shallow, area of effect.
“It seems like 【Blue Erosion】 is more effective. It appears to especially loathe attacks targeting its head and torso. Unlike most shapeshifter monsters, its decorations might not only be for show.”
The Guardian’s left arm was torn, the right arm still slow and dull. The right arm, pierced by three spears like the torso and gradually freezing, was guarding the head and center of the torso.
The torso too was slightly frozen, but, maybe because it was pierced only by the tip of the spear, it suffered little damage and quickly returned to its molten state.
Following Shin and Schnee’s spells, a white whirlwind flew towards the Guardian. Its size was just right to envelop the monster: the chilling air it produced gradually froze its body.
“(After Sety’s spell I’m going in)”
“(I shall move too.)”
The whirlwind cleared, leaving the Guardian enveloped in ice. Without leaving it time to recover, Filma dashed through the air — thanks to her armor’s magic power expulsion ability — and targeted its head, while Shibaid attacked the monster’s torso with his 『Placid Moon』’s throwing ability. Tiera also fired her arrows, in order to fill the gaps between their attacks.
“(Watch out, the Guardian’s body temperature just shot up! It might be trying to do something!)”
Milt, who continued observing the monster with the 【Thermal Sight】 skill, shouted a warning via Mind Chat. The next second, magma burst out from the Guardian’s body, stretching like tentacles.
Only the surface of its body was frozen: the magma tentacles, born from the monster’s right arm and torso, broke through and shattered the ice.
Filma slashed the tentacles chasing her and moved away.
Shibaid’s thrown weapon was deflected by a bunch of tentacles.
Tiera’s arrows stopped at the monster’s surface, probably blocked by the inner rise in temperature.
“(How is the temperature changing?)”
“(It started from the torso, then the rest of the body followed. Since it’s based on Arahabaki, it shouldn’t have a core like other regular Golems…but now it’s closer to a Slime than a Golem, so the torso is probably hiding something important.)”
Milt, who had continued observing the Guardian without participating in the attack, explained her thoughts.
Arahabaki was a monster formed by minerals that produced high temperatures. It did not have a core that could become its weakness, so the only way to defeat it was to whittle down its HP.
Maybe because of the Demon’s possession, this monster shared few characteristics with its base monster. The only similarity was that both their bodies produced high temperatures.
It could have absorbed the Sacred Place’s core to use as an energy source, so the party decided to perform an all-out attack on its torso.
“(Those tentacles are a real pain…they even deflected Shibaid’s throw, can you imagine?)”
“(I will try to lure attacks on one point. If not, we would have to try to overwhelm it with quantity. If allowed to group together, its tentacles can even parry my throw, after all.)”
Shibaid had not used any Skills when he threw his weapon. His arm strength and 『Placid Moon』 alone, however, easily surpassed the effects of any average Skill.
『Placid Moon』 did carve through the tentacles that deflected it, but thanks to the Guardian’s regeneration powers, they already returned to their original form.
While cutting down the tentacles targeting him, Shibaid said that it would be better to increase the number of attacks, to force the enemy to focus on all of them and lower its overall concentration.
“(Let’s go with Shibaid’s plan. If the Guardian concentrates its attacks on him, Schnee, Filma, and I will take advantage of the opening and attack the glowing spheres on its torso. We can’t leave the spheres on its head alone either, though: Sety, Tiera, please target those. If the aggro doesn’t focus on Shibaid…Sety and Tiera, use attacks with a high number of projectiles. The other members should find the best opportunity to close in and attack from close quarters. Other than its size and tentacles, it attacks like a powered up Red Mound: considering that it’s possessed by a Demon, the way it fights is way too clean. Don’t let your guard down!)”
They couldn’t feel the Guardian or the Demon’s true presence yet. The enemy surely had more tricks up its sleeves.
Only Yuzuha and Milt did not participate in the offensive: Yuzuha was standing by in case of emergencies, as before, and Milt continued observing the Guardian for any changes.
Shin did not need to give her instructions, as she naturally fit the role.
In the game era, especially in raids of multiple parties against one large monster, having one or two players focus on information gathering was the ironclad rule.
It could serve as insurance in case the party was wiped out, but its main purpose was to fight any upcoming battles with an advantage.
In THE NEW GATE, unless the player’s stats and equipment were overwhelmingly superior, most boss monsters — especially the raid type ones — were extremely difficult to defeat in the first encounter.
Ever since Shin and the others regrouped in this world, many of the enemy encounters they had were in situations where they couldn’t flee, either literally or because it would have negative consequences. Because of this, they didn’t spare anyone to act as an observer. This time they chose to do so also because Milt was a former player.
“Face me, fiend!!”
Shibaid held up his 『Great Shell Shield of Collision』 and activated the 【Shura Rush】 Skill. If he could lure the Guardian’s attacks towards himself, Shin and the others could focus on attacking.
“(It’s working! The Guardian’s main body and tentacles are both targeting Shibaid!)”
Milt the observer reported that Shibaid’s decoy plan worked perfectly. She used a Skill that allowed her and her Water Spirit to share what they saw, so Milt could also see from positions impossible to see with the naked eye.
This ability was another important reason as to why she took the observer role.
The party members had all scattered in different directions, so they would have had to individually confirm if Shibaid’s plan worked; now that it was not necessary anymore, they could focus on their offensive.
“(Let’s do this!)”
From the Guardian’s viewpoint, Shin was in front coming from the right; Filma and Schnee were behind, coming from the left and right respectively.
They all activated Skills, making sure their trajectories did not hit the other members’ paths.
Their offensive motion was a thrust. As soon as the Skills were activated, the three’s blades glowed in a pale green light.
The flickering blade of wind did not seem very powerful at first glance.
Someone with good enough eyesight, however, would notice that the pale green light was a result of the massive magic power concentrated in the blades reacting with the magic power particles in the air.
The three thrust their weapons in the exact same motion, albeit with different timing.
A sharp, lightning-fast thrust. Without even the sound of cutting through the air, the blades struck their target as if they skipped several frames ahead.
This Team Skill could be performed only by three- or more people activating the Katana/Wind Combination Skill 【Rising Wave】 at the same time.
The semi-transparent thrust pierced through enemy defenses and created a wide range shockwave, meant to rupture the enemy from within.
Smaller 【Rising Wave】 shockwaves would also fly off in all directions, making it especially useful against monsters with sturdy armor or weak points such as cores.
On the other hand, it required precise timing and aim, so it was not used often in real battles.
The three’s 【Rising Wave】 struck the Guardian’s torso with perfect timing, thus unleashing the Skill’s true power.
The Guardian’s torso swelled and popped, just like a balloon.
Its head and arms, with nothing keeping them together anymore, were flung away. The monster’s lower body stopped moving, as if it didn’t realize what just happened.
“(HP down to half!)”
Milt’s voice reached the party’s ears.
Sety’s magic and Tiera’s arrows followed by targeting the head.
The first attack to reach was a black flash of lightning, Sety’s Darkness Magic spell 【Dark Devourer】.
The black lightning it produced literally devoured its targets: in this case, it tore through the glowing spheres on the monster’s head.
Tiera’s arrows, turning into blue lightning bolts, finished the job by annihilating what remained of the head. She had used the Bow/Light Combination Skill 【Light Comet】.
“(We’ve destroyed everything that seemed important…Milt, how much HP does it have left?)”
“(About 20%. Do we have to destroy its whole body?)”
Milt looked at the monster’s arms, lying motionless on the ground, and the lower body. As Shin had confirmed, its HP was not zero yet.