I normally say that I like Past Life Returner but I have not read it at all, not even the manhwa(comic). But this story is different, I love it. I...
Itai no wa Iya nanode Bōgyo-Ryoku ni Kyokufuri Shitai to Omoimasu 370
Defense Specialization and the Underwater Battle
As she went even deeper, she found even more submerged broken machinery, and was attacked by unbroken machines more frequently as well.
Sally was able to dodge them tightly, but as she did, she came across something a little different from those light bullets. It was a faint light that seemed to be floating lightly in the water. As she slowly approached it, wondering what it could be, the faint light slowly warped into the shape of a large fish, which then rushed toward Sally.
Although the spell managed to stop its advance, the blade of the wind passed through the fish’s transparent body, which seemed to be made of light. Sally hurriedly tried to dodge its eventual second rush, and sure enough, the fish charged at her once again. This time, Sally tried to swim past it and slash at it with one of her daggers, but she felt no resistance or collision at all, almost as if the dagger had just passed through water. And of course, there was no damage effect either.
Sally would have been able to attack it to see if it really was a monster if it had any kind of stamina or defense, but it seemed that she couldn’t attack it at all. As a result of thinking about what happened while avoiding a series of rushes by the light fish, she came to one conclusion.
“Do I have to keep dodging this guy until I find something…?”
For the time being, all she could do was keep dodging it, so she had to keep moving while trying to find a way to do something about it. However, compared to the monsters in the 8th Layer, it wasn’t doing anything except charging at Sally, so it seemed that all she was supposed to do was to just dodge it.
In fact, even without Sally’s evasiveness, most players who have advanced the game to this point should be able to handle such an attack.
“If things are getting like this already, it shouldn’t be long before the boss makes an appearance.”
Sally swam steadily while avoiding the light fish. Instead of stopping to dodge, she simply kept on pressing forward, dodging with minimum movements so that she wasted almost no time doing so, treating her pursuer as if it didn’t exist.
This could very well be something that only Sally would be able to pull off.
This tunnel in particular seemed to be special with its traps that attacked automatically and unattackable fish made of light. Rather than being made as a dungeon, it seemed more like a place where things were abandoned underwater, and Sally started to feel that the further that she went, the less chances for a boss to appear.
“Whoa, they’re multiplying…”
As the incorporeal fish that continued to rush at her started to seem to not be just one fish, Sally could see another shape made of light forming itself, and soon enough there were two more fish chasing after her.
“If they’re starting to increase in numbers, there must be something around here that turns them off!”
They were too persistent to be just normal monsters, so Sally assumed that one of the machines must be creating and controlling them, but she had no idea how to make them stop. There was no point in worrying about something she didn’t quite understand, so she had no choice but to keep avoiding their attacks. She would avoid their linear attacks by making good use of her acceleration and deceleration. Taking advantage of being underwater, the fact that she could move in three dimensions to avoid attacks made her feel more like an actual fish than those light fishes.
She kept going up and down repeatedly, checking for broken machinery at the bottom of that large area, searching for upgrade parts for diving suits like before, and trying to find out how to deal with the light fish, but there were no clues to be found.
“Okay, looks like I have no choice.”
Preparing herself to dodge all the way until she reached the deepest part of this cave, Sally sped up through the water.
A while later, Sally was swimming around the cave, followed by a large number of light fish. It was no longer a place that allowed for a relaxed exploration, and instead it was more of a race against an incorporeal school of fish.
“I don’t know how many of them there are anymore…!”
Sally had looked all over the place for a way to eliminate them while their numbers were small, but she couldn’t find anything that would help. Her diving suit had an enhanced underwater movement capability, and although she had been able to dodge those light fish so far, it was something only Sally would have been able to pull off.
However, the situation had taken a turn for the worse, as Sally couldn’t keep her focus going on forever. Besides, since she can’t really repel them with her daggers, her ways to dodge their attacks were limited, which only made things more difficult for her.
“There’s a gap there… Now!”
As the school of incorporeal light fish surrounded her in a large circle to prepare for a rush from all angles, Sally twisted her body and slipped through the gap they had created, and dashed through the tunnel with that momentum. The tunnel was so narrow that she couldn’t afford to stop pressing forward, or it would be impossible to avoid her pursuers’ attacks.
Then, as she kept on swimming at high speed, she could see a large amount of light bullets flying towards her from the back of the tunnel. The bullets blocked the path ahead almost perfectly, with only the small gap created by the difference in the time each of them had been fired. Even so, Sally kept pressing forward without slowing down in the slightest.
Sharpening her senses to the point that everything around her had slowed down, she weaved her way perfectly through the gaps between the bullets, which didn’t allow for the slightest miscalculation. Dozens of light bullets went past her, as if they weren’t trying to hit Sally to begin with At this rate, Sally would be able to dodge all of them as she swam through the tunnel. She couldn’t afford to give her first damage to one of those stray bullets.
“Okay, looks like I’m clear!”
After coming through the other side of the tunnel, the barrage of light bullets subsided, and Sally was finally able to see a door several meters taller than her.
At the same time, the school of fish that had been persistently chasing after her vanished in an instant, and silence came to the water. Before Sally was a door that indicated that the next room would be the boss room, which meant that this was the innermost part of this cave.
“Can I make this…? Yeah.”
After making sure she had enough underwater time to fight, she decided to take on the boss without going back to the surface first.
“I think I’m already stronger than when I fought my first underwater battle, though.”
Sally closed her eyes and started to focus, wondering what would be waiting for her on the other side, and then slowly approached the door and took a look inside.
The room was spherical and completely submerged in water, and just like before, a large number of old parts and machines of unknown use were piled up at the bottom. However, there didn’t seem to be any signs of a boss anywhere.
“Guess I won’t know unless I go in…”
The moment Sally entered the room, taking care not to be caught by a surprise attack, something that looked like a monitor leaning on a pile of junk started to emit a faint light. Just as Sally noticed it and prepared herself, a light bullet shooter like the ones she had seen earlier emerged from the pile of broken machinery, pushing scraps aside.
However, that didn’t seem to be the biggest concern at the moment, as a strong light started to shine in the center of the room, forming a shape. Once the light subsided, Sally braced herself as she saw a monster with a halberd –its upper half that of a man, its lower half that of a fish– materialize itself, along with the boss’ HP bar being displayed.
“What an impressive defense system! It can create an entity all by itself!”
She had come this far, but this was the critical moment. Sally absolutely couldn’t lose here, both for the sake of her new equipment and for her most important purpose.
Noticing Sally had taken out her weapons, the boss also took a firm grasp on his halberd, shaking it in a circular motion and causing more incorporeal fish to appear along the line it drew in the water. In addition, the shooter had started to glow.
As Sally tried to guess what would happen next, a school of fish and an array of light bullets were unleashed against her.
“I’m quite familiar with those!”
Sally quickly moved out of the way, avoiding everything. Although the light bullets and fish had been tremendously fast, they moved in a straight line, so it was easy to predict where they were going to hit.
Since the room was quite spacious, Sally almost wouldn’t have to worry about being hit as long as she kept moving around at a reasonable speed.
What she really had to be careful about was when she had to stop avoiding in order to attack, and the moment the boss himself made a move.
Sally believed this boss shared some attack patterns with other bosses she had fought in the past.
She had plenty of time. The most important thing was to identify the enemy’s attacks and look for opportunities to counterattack without taking damage.
While avoiding the flurry of attacks, she kept an eye on the boss, which then started to move, raising his halberd and immediately bringing it down. This time, unlike before, it didn’t seem to be summoning anything, but a hunch made Sally intuitively move out of the way. Something had approached with great force as if grabbing the edge of Sally’s scarf.
“A water current… I need to keep this in mind.”
The boss could manipulate the flow of water. She didn’t know how long it would last, but a stream of water strong enough to easily gulp down a single person had been brought forth, traveling across the spherical boss room. Naturally, there was no way to tell if Sally would be safe if she were to be sucked up by one of those streams. It was hard to see, and since Sally was in a situation in which she had to swim at high speed in order to dodge those light bullets, she had no other choice but to try to remember the stream’s trajectory.
Sally made a mental image of the boss room, constantly updating the position of the water stream, and after mapping out a safe route, she sped up and approached the boss.
Since that water stream restricted her movements and she didn’t know how long it would last, Sally could no longer afford to take her time to observe the boss’ movements.
She slipped past the flurry of light bullets, sneaking through the rushing school of fish, and finally repelled the boss’ halberd –which he had only pushed out as a means to block Sally’s attack– using the momentum to slash deeply at his shoulder.
With so many things flying around for her to dodge, Sally’s “Sword Dance” was quickly able to increase her attack power to the max. The blow was much heavier than it seemed, and the boss’ HP bar was visibly reduced.
“Looks like I’m causing some damage…!”
A new stream of water was called forth to chase after Sally, but she promptly avoided it by twisting her body and sneaking into the boss’ lower side. As she did that, more incorporeal fish started to appear.
“Yeah, now I’m really motivated!”
As Sally deepened her focus, she calmly managed being constantly attacked by a large number of flying objects. Sally’s evasion technique was high from the beginning, but it has been further refined as the battle progressed.
All she had to do was avoid everything the boss threw at her, and weave her way through any gaps he created to attack him.
It was the same hit-and-run strategy as her previous underwater battles, but her proficiency with offensive and defensive maneuvers, plus the damage she was being able to deal to this boss, was far beyond comparison.
She would avoid attacks coming from all directions in three dimensions, and then slash at the boss. The boss was slower than Sally, so he was unable to reach her with his halberd. He had the advantage of both the numbers and the environment, but even then it was still him the one who was being pushed to a corner.
Although the boss’ side kept increasing its numbers, Sally would keep slipping through the gaps in his defense as long as there was any space left for her to move around.
The fact that she couldn’t use skills and had to rely on basic attacks to deal large amounts of damage was also reducing Sally’s already low chances.
As the battle unfolded, several water currents were stretched out across the room forming a mesh of sorts, and the myriad of incorporeal fish and light bullets, unaffected by the water current because they were all part of the boss’ offensive, constantly harassed Sally. The situation was only getting worse, but Sally’s focus hadn’t been broken yet.
Taking advantage of the boss’ carelessness, Sally slipped through a gap created in the water stream mesh, heading for the boss in the center of the room once more. She didn’t use any skills, and moved smoothly and without leaving no openings. Unable to respond to Sally’s offensive, the boss took several serious hits in a row.
Then, as the boss’ HP had been reduced to less than half, Sally distanced herself from the boss while staying alert for his next move. From this point on, the boss would most likely change his attack pattern.
As Sally expected, the boss’s movements had indeed changed. Light gathered in the boss’ free hand, and a new halberd materialized in it. A mass of light began to flow along the water stream as well. This revealed the location of the water stream, but it also soon proved to not be a good thing.
The mass of light suddenly jumped out of the stream while Sally was observing. She was able to dodge it by twisting her body, but its attack didn’t seem to end there, as it went back inside another water stream and continued to move from there.
“Oh, that’s no good…!”
The mass of light kept moving inside the water stream mesh, shooting itself towards Sally at irregular intervals. Unlike the light bullets fired from the wall shooters, this was more of a mobile turret that could attack from various positions as it moved inside the water streams. Sally had to use even more of her senses to be able to dodge it.
However, Sally felt relieved to know that she had taken the right decisions when she made her upgrades.
If she hadn’t been able to dodge its attacks or parry its halberds, nothing she had tried to do to attack the boss would have worked. And Sally was confident she could do both things very well.
Sally sped up once again, heading for the boss. She had to sneak through the eye-of-a-needle gap created between the light bullets coming from the left and right and the school of light fish from the front.
“I’m quite familiar with bullet hells, you know?”
As Sally complained to no one in particular, she slipped past a gap in the school of light fish. Not even the slightest mistake would be tolerated when it came to body control, but for Sally, it’s always been a battle with Maple to avoid being hit by a bullet hell. Now that she was able to avoid even bullets from behind, she wouldn’t make the mistake of trying to tackle a boss head on.
For Sally, those gaps that were once too small for her were now safe paths that she could take with confidence.
“You can do that as many times as you want, it won’t make a difference.”
As Sally got closer to the boss, she quickly stopped, barely avoiding the two halberds that had been swung at her, and took advantage of the fact that she was underwater to pierce the boss’s chest with three-dimensional movements.
It made little sense that an enemy that wasn’t able to hit her with a bullet hell even once had tried to attack her with two halberds.
Sally had a place she wanted to be. There was a level of strength she wanted to have. The battles that would make the best of her focus, which had been raised past its limits, were now far more inevitable than ever.
Until its HP bar was emptied, she would go straight at her target over and over again, just like that boss was doing. All she had to do was be more precise and more lethal than her target.
“Gear and Skills. Hand them over.”
Through the bullet hell that had turned into a rain of light, the blue shadow remained true to her goal and reached the boss, splitting his body in half with her final blow.