“Phew! Shin sure showed him who’s boss! But we won’t lose either!”
Milt spoke while looking at Shin’s entourage running off in the distance. She couldn’t help laughing after witnessing the brutal feat of a Raid boss being kicked in the air.
“That was one hell of a first move. Let’s take this guy down before they finish the other off. No holding back!”
Holding 『Vakira』 with one hand, Wilhelm released his inner power. As his other self had said, he understood how to control or release his power, without the need to be taught how.
Wilhelm’s heartbeat grew stronger and louder. An aura started flowing out of his body, dragon-like scales surfaced on his chest. His left pupil split vertically, while blade-like translucent horns grew on his head.
The aura, the scales, and the horns were all colored deep red.
“Wow, you’re really interesting, aren’t you.”
In this world, Wilhelm’s new appearance was nothing but abnormal, but Milt simply smiled, enjoying the show.
Looking at Milt and Wilhelm, who had not lost their will to fight after seeing Adara’s true form, but instead become more enthusiastic, Shibaid and Filma smiled too.
“Hmm, the morale’s pretty high.”
“Of course, after seeing something like that…it’s been awhile since I faced something this big, I’m going to get serious too, I guess?”
“Don’t let your guard down, you hear?”
“I won’t. There’s a clear difference in ability between us and the monster, after all.”
Their tone was casual, but their expressions were as serious as they could be.
A Grand Duke-class demon would normally be faced by several players together; the frontline with STR and VIT over 700, the rear guard with INT over 700.
No matter how well-equipped the party may be, it was not an opponent 4 frontline combatants, 1 assist unit and a beast could normally handle.
“I will attract the enemy’s attention! Attack at will!!”
“Now this brings back memories!”
“The shield role is yours!”
“You’re going down!!”
In response to Shibaid’s call, Filma, Wilhelm and Milt rushed towards Adara. A hastily formed party wouldn’t make cooperated play possible. For that very reason, Shibaid decided to leave the decision to each member’s prior battle experiences.
“Impressive that you think you can match me with so few numbers. I could rout you here and now, but unfortunately I have no time to waste with the likes of you.”
While deftly parrying Milt’s 『Breogand』, Wilhelm’s 『Vakira』, and Filma’s 『Red Moon』 with his long sword, Adara kept his eyes on Tiera.
Their opponent was a giant over 20 mels tall. If he proceeded ignoring them, Shibaid’s party, which was less than 10% his size, couldn’t stop him easily.
“What you want to do matters not at all. Your center of attention will be me..”
Holding 『Placid Moon』in his right hand and 『Great Shield of Collision』in his left, and also equipped with his original Dragon gear set, Shibaid stood between Adara and Tiera and used the Taunt skill 【Mind Attract】.
“What are you looking at!!”
“Hngh, I’m being dragged…! So you chose to face me from the front? Interesting!!”
Adara was forced to change the target of his sights from Tiera to Shibaid.
Different from 【Shura Rush】and its wide area of effect, 【Mind Attract】targeted only one monster, making the user the target of all of its actions.
It affected physical and magical attacks, sight, and “hate*”, making it a necessary skill to have for shield-role players when fighting bosses such as Adara. (T/N: I think this refers to “aggro”)
“I’ll have to praise you if you can withstand this!!”
The battle axe and mallet swung down towards Shibaid. The weapons themselves were larger than Shibaid himself, their mass more than double his.
Facing a blow that would definitely rend the earth, Shibaid simply readied his great shield in a stance, without moving an inch.
“May the duel begin!!”
An instant before receiving the attack, Shibaid activated the Shield-type Martial skill 【Buster Fortress】. An emerald-green light completely enveloped Shibaid’s body, which was then struck squarely by Adara’s attack.
A shock reverberated in the surroundings, shaking the ground around them and even creating a depression; shockwaves from the attack were released in all directions.
However, Shibaid stood unharmed and the ground crushed under his feet.
The surprise came from Adara. The battle axe meant to sweep off his enemy’s torso, the mallet meant to crush his enemy to a pulp simply touched Shibaid and would not budge.
The mallet appeared to be stopped by the shield, the battle axe by the armor; but looking closer, it became clear that they had both been stopped by the emerald light, and did not even brush against Shibaid’s equipment.
With a chilling war shout, Shibaid moved one step forward and swung his shield. That simple motion was enough to knock away both Adara’s battle axe and mallet.
【Buster Fortress】too was an indispensable skill for a shield role.
It allowed the user to nullify all damage from any attack and inflict knockback that forced the attacker to retreat temporarily.
It was effective for 10 seconds the first time it was used in a battle; after that, its duration and cooldown time depended on the damage that the blocked attack would have inflicted.
It was more effective the stronger the opponent was, and conversely less effective against weaker opponents. It was a perfect skill for boss battles.
“He’s open! Charge!”
Milt and Wilhelm attacked Adara, who had lost his balance because of 【Buster Fortress】.
Filma, thanks to her long-standing relationship with Shibaid, went closer to Adara, avoiding the range of his attack, as soon as she saw Shibaid hold up his shield.
“We might be small, but you’ll pay for underestimating us so much!”
An arc-like swing from below by 『Red Moon』. The deep crimson slash left a clear slice wound on the left leg of the demon Adara, who was still reeling backwards.
From the slash wound on the demon’s leg spilled out thick, mud-like blood. From the wound, crack-like effects spread all over the leg.
The Sword-type martial skill 【Bloody Torment】.
Not only is its attack power high, it also slows the target’s movements and actions.
Adara, with one leg nearly paralyzed, saw his stance collapse even more.
Milt and Wilhelm wouldn’t let such a chance pass by.
Milt swung 『Breogand』 down on Adara’s leg, aiming at the wound Filma had just created.
The skill she used was the Axe-type martial skill 【Slash Nova】.
It was a skill which made use of centrifugal force to focus on dealing damage only, without additional effects.
Also thanks to the cut that Filma had opened on Adara’s leg, 『Breogand』’s giant blade destroyed the part of the leg guard it hit; the wound couldn’t be ignored anymore.
And then, with perfect timing, Wilhelm jumped in.
『Vakira』, wrapped in the Spear and Lightning combination skill 【Thunderhowl】, went to stab the base of Adara’s arm, the one wielding the long sword.
This attack, aiming at a spot not covered by Adara’s armor, easily pierced his defenses, allowing 『Vakira』to unleash its abilities to the fullest.
A blow from 『Vakira』, a weapon demons have terrible affinity against, damaged Adara and at the same time greatly lowered his attack and defense stats.
It also exponentially increased Wilhelm’s stats.
Of course, normally『Vakira』 doesn’t have impressive attack power. It might be a weapon specialized towards demons, but its wielder was still just one person. If a boss that had to be defeated by several parties together could be crushed by less than one full party, the game would lose meaning.
Deep crimson lightning bolts swirl around 『Vakira』. It looked like a giant beast’s jaw.
The crackling sound of thunder sounded like a bestial roar, bent on ripping off the demon’s arm.
Adara had been completely on the defensive until now, but he was still a Grand Duke.
His primal roar, loud enough to silence 【Thunderhowl】’s crackling, spread through the surroundings together with a physical shock.
The beast’s howl caused its 3 attackers’ danger detection abilities to sound the highest alert.
A pitch black aura emerged from Adara’s body, turning him straight back on his feet against all laws of gravity.
“I’LL CRUSH YOUUUUUUUU!!!!”
What followed was a crushing attack by the demon’s 4 weapons simultaneously. The attack’s power was clearly much higher than before; Adara aimed to strike its 4 opponents at the same time.
However, all attacks focused on Shibaid because of the effects of 【Mind Attract】.
4 attacks that would each rend the earth and create fissures lunged at Shibaid.
“I will not let you!”
Tiera, who had been looking for an opening in the demon’s defenses, judged it the best time to shoot her bow.
She was holding the 『Spirit Tree Resonance』bow, a weapon that manifested its full powers when wielded by specified Jobs.
The flying arrows sparkled with the lightning strikes they carried. Shot after a brief pause, Tiera’s arrows pierced the battlefield. They were faster and stronger than the one she had shot at Balmel.
Tiera had shot three arrows. Adara had employed all of his weapons to attack; also because of the arrows’ speed, he could not defend himself against Tiera’s attack.
The arrows turned into streaks of light and struck Adara’s head, exactly as targeted. One of the three pierced Adara’s right eye, causing a burning silver-colored flash to pour out from the wound.
“Ghaah! As I thought, you are…!!!”
Because of Tiera’s attack, one of the long swords Adara was holding stopped its assault towards Shibaid, as if it had lost all its power.
Then, as if his arm had been paralyzed, the sword fell from Adara’s hand and planted itself into the ground.
“Hmm? What is this power?”
Shibaid knew well how strong a Grand Duke-class demon was, making what was happening before his eyes all the more unnatural.
Even if Tiera’s attack caused status abnormalities, it was too early for its effect to appear, and its power was too high.
Shibaid’s calm assessment of the whole situation made him notice this abnormality right away.
“I’m going too!”
“I won’t lose either!”
Thanks to Tiera’s attack and Adara’s slower reaction, Filma and Milt caught up. Milt stopped the long sword while Filma blocked the battle axe.
Both their weapons were heavy types. Taking advantage of the centrifugal force, they drew arcs in the air.
Among sword and axe skills, these two martial skills prioritized concussion over slashing power. The skills ripped through Adara’s arm and knocked his attack out of trajectory.
The remaining mallet strike landed, but Shibaid’s shield withstood the impact without a flinch.
“What…? It’s too light.”
The power was definitely there; Shibaid could also clearly feel the vibrations coming from his shield, and the pressure he felt was definitely a high-ranked demon’s. However, thanks to his rich experience in battling monsters, he could feel that there was a large gap between the crushing sense of intimidation Adara emitted and his actual fighting power.
Monsters dubbed “Solo-type” were indeed monsters one could defeat individually. Such a name, when applied to bosses, sometimes gave the false impression that they weren’t really strong.
But that was just a misunderstanding caused by this title.
In “THE NEW GATE” raid bosses were loosely ranked by difficulty level.
The ranks were 5 in total: bosses that low-level and mid-level players could handle were rank 1.
Bosses that a party of high-level players had a 70% chance of defeating were rank 2.
Bosses that even several parties of well-equipped high-level players had but a 30% chance of defeating were rank 3.
Bosses that parties of high-level players with exceptionally high stats could face, but would never be sure of defeating were rank 4.
Lastly, monsters of nearly invincible strength, or rather set by the creators as “Fight me if you dare” bosses were rank 5.
“Grand Duke class demons should be at least rank 3.”
Shibaid whispered to himself.
Rank 3 monsters were the greatest quarry a single player could defeat. Because of this status, rank 3 monsters were also called “Solo-type”.
Not even Shin, in the game era, could say with confidence that he could defeat a rank 4 on his own. In the case of rank 5, luck was heavily involved too.
Most Grand Duke class creatures were rampaging monsters of terrible strength in the game era as well. It was not rare for them to be rank 4, with some rare examples going as far as rank 5.
Even if they were rank 3, it absolutely did not mean that they would be weak opponents.
“I’m going to suck up that miasma!”
Ignoring Shibaid’s doubts, the battle’s situation changed.
Wilhelm, who had not participated in the defense against Adara’s latest assault, took advantage of the opening after Adara’s attack and jumped in close to the demon.
His 『Vakira』struck without hesitation, almost as if he was aware of Adara’s poor condition.
The greatest reason for Adara’s weakness was indeed 『Vakira』’s presence.
『Beinot』had changed into 『Vakira』because of Adara’s miasma. Because of this, it had especially good affinity with the demon’s miasma.
Its miasma capacity, conversion rate, and absorption rate were much higher than normal when facing Adara.
These values were more than double or triple the original stats.
“Show me all your poweeerrrr!!!!”
『Vakira』 was enveloped in a burning red color, brought forth by Wilhelm’s willpower.
The fiery iron-melting flames turned 『Vakira』’s tip red hot.
Spear and Flame combination skill【Crimson Lotus Fang】.
Armor had no meaning before this blow. 『Vakira』’s blade easily melted the demon’s defensive gear, delivering its burning heat through it.
The demon’s weakening, induced by the miasma absorption, proceeded alongside Wilhelm’s power-up.
The power-up Wilhelm was receiving was far higher than he expected, but he did not falter.
He knew. He understood what 『Vakira』was causing and why the others’ power was overflowing as well.
The words of someone not present at the moment reached Wilhelm’s ears.
Wilhelm grabbed 『Vakira』as it stabbed the demon’s body and forcefully performed a sweep.
Wilhelm’s reinforced muscular strength allowed him to force 『Vakira』, while wedged in the demon’s arm, to execute an arc-like motion, thus driving its heat further and slashing half of the arm.
The heat caused the blood to evaporate, as 『Vakira』continued to devour Adara’s miasma.
Every time the spear pierced Adara’s armor and body his abilities decreased, while Wilhelm’s increased further.
“Even if it’s a weapon made to fight demons, is it normal for it to be this effective? Do you know anything?”
“The『Vakira』I know doesn’t have this kind of insane ability.”
Filma and Milt too, who had directly crossed blades with the demon, noticed how Adara was clearly becoming weaker.
Judging from how the battle was going, they realized that the cause was Wilhelm’s weapon, but they couldn’t help wondering why the weakening and power-up it was causing were much more impressive than what they remembered.
“Well, we can always ask after we’ve taken him down.”
“If we don’t hurry up Shin and the others will come back too. They left this to us, we better do a good job!”
Even if they had doubts about the situation, there was no time to slow down their attacks.
Even weakened, the giant demon’s mass and muscular strength were a menace just by themselves.
They couldn’t let down their guard until they had completely defeated him.
They could see Adara’s HP gauge through【Analyze】. Around 50% remained.
One arm had become powerless because of Tiera’s attack, while another had been deeply cut by Wilhelm.
They were both right arms, thus leaving the demon’s 2 left arms as the only ones usable.
If Adara tried to change location, Tiera’s arrows and Shibaid’s shield would stop his progress.
With no way to go, and his attacks forcefully directed towards Shibaid, it was obvious that he couldn’t defend himself at the same time.
Taking advantage of these openings, Wilhelm’s 『Vakira』, Filma’s 『Red Moon』, and Milt’s 『Breogand』mercilessly beat Adara’s whole body.
Filma, who had improved her abilities and stats by fighting alongside Shin. Milt, who had made her name famous as battle maniac. Wilhelm, who had gained his true power as a ‘Critical’.
Their attacks caused Adara’s HP to decrease faster and faster.
In addition to their attacks, Tiera’s arrows (boosted by Yuzuha’s support) continued to pierce the demon.
Every time the arrows hit, Adara’s body was bathed in silver light.
In the same way as Wilhelm’s 『Vakira』, every time a silver flash burst the demon would lose his power.
Adara, overwhelmed by the damage sustained, fell down to one knee. Wilhelm, his body completely enveloped with aura, jumped the highest he could and brought down his weapon.
“HURRY UP AND DIE ALREADY!!!!”
Adara was already covered in wounds. There was not enough strength in him to block Wilhelm’s full-power attack.
Wilhelm threw 『Vakira』, now morphed into a crimson flash, towards the demon.
The spear shattered his forehead guard, tore his flesh, and crushed his bones, pulverizing Adara’s head from the mouth upwards.
Filma and the others could see that the demon’s HP gauge had reached zero.
Yet Adara did not fall. Even with his head lost, the remaining mouth still moved.
A second after Milt and Wilhelm expressed their disbelief, Adara’s body collapsed.
Not only his body, but his gear too gradually turned into a thick goo-like liquid. Milt and Wilhelm stopped in their tracks.
“Buuut…juuuust disaaaappeeeearing liiiike thiiiissss…iiiiisn’t likeeeee meeeeeeh…”
Shibaid and Filma reacted instantly.
“It’s noooot ffffuuunnnnn!!!!”
At the same time of Adara’s scream, his now liquid body lunged towards Tiera.
It was the demon’s last resort; while moving, his body was slowly disappearing from the edges.
But before completely disappearing, it wanted to swallow Tiera and take her with him.
“No, Yuzuha! Leave me and run!”
Tiera realized that she was the target and urged Yuzuha to flee.
In response, as if refusing Tiera’s request, Yuzuha focused more power in her four limbs and cried.
“It’s still a bit too early to give up!”
As Tiera and Yuzuha were talking, Filma and Shibaid reached them.
Shibaid stood between what had become of Adara and Tiera, while Filma took a stance behind him, thrusting 『Red Moon』towards the sky.
“You shall not pass!”
With a bold shout, Shibaid firmly planted his 『Great Shell Shield of Collision』into the ground.
At the same time, the air before Shibaid trembled. A transparent, hexagonal barrier formed as to separate the space between Adara and Shibaid.
It was one of the 『Great Shell Shield of Collision』’s abilities, the creation of attack-repelling barriers.
It was originally an ability intended as anti-air, but it was sufficiently useful against Adara’s straight rush.
“It won’t last long!”
“I just need 5 seconds!”
Judging from the liquid nature of the monster, it was only a matter of time before it crossed over the barrier.
Filma answered Shibaid while focusing her magic power in her blade.
『Red Moon』’s blade, held up high towards the heavens, started shining with a deep red light, which seemed to rise higher and higher.
Trying to stop the advance of the thing which Adara had become, Wilhelm performed a long-range skill. A lightning flare and raging flames struck the demon and managed to slow his progress for a few moments.
“Milt, Wilhelm, get away from there!! You’ll burn up too!!”
“Whoa, that’s a huge one! You get away too!”
Milt caught on what Filma was about to do from Shibaid’s shout and urged Wilhelm to move too.
Perceiving the magic power accumulating within 『Red Moon』, Wilhelm clicked his tongue but made use of his boosted physical abilities to the fullest and distanced himself.
After Filma’s signal, Shibaid dispelled his attack-repelling barrier. Like a flood no longer blocked by a dam, the turbid stream Adara had turned into grew closer.
“This is the end!!”
As if exchanging places with Shibaid, Filma stepped forward and swung down her『Red Moon』.
Deep red streaks of light seared the earth, as if tracing the slashing motion.
Sword and Fire combination skill 【Shiden* – Kagutsuchi】. (T/N: Shiden means Ultimate, remember when Girard used Zekka in his final duel against Shin? That’s a Shiden-ranked skill)
This skill, christened with the name of the mythological god of fire, unleashed heat worthy of its godly origins.
The ground under the turbid stream rose up in flames.
From the spot『Red Moon』 had been swung, the light disappeared for an instant, but in the next instant roaring flames scorched the earth, with speed higher than the pitch black stream’s advance. The moment the light soaring in the sky had wrapped the black goo within itself, it had turned into hellfire.
Even if she was at a fair distance from the attack and Shibaid was shielding her, Tiera couldn’t help but yell.
Her skin had not been burnt by the heat. Nor had she been blinded by the light.
But she couldn’t restrain her voice after feeling the sheer intimidation contained in that attack.
“So this is the strength of a High Human’s follower…damn near unbelievable power…”
“It’s a skill that combines sword and flame techniques. You can’t use it without a specific combination of user and weapon…both of them must be of the highest grade.”
Watching the torpid stream engulfed by the flames, Milt answered Wilhelm’s comment.
The game’s exclusive special effects were a sight to behold too, but the scenery before Milt’s eyes now was something more divine and much more powerful.
A holy flame purifying corruption. That was what it suggested to the imagination.
After the light grew dim, only the torn ground and a mineral emitting a red brilliance remained.