Itai no wa Iya nanode Bōgyo-Ryoku ni Kyokufuri Shitai to Omoimasu 376
Defense Specialization and the Underwater Temple 3
The waterfall lake was actually quite deep, and although it was hard to notice when looking at it from the surface of the water, diving into the water would clearly reveal that there was something shining down there.
“Let’s make a beeline for the bottom.”
As usual, Maple activated ‘Dedicated Affection’ so that their safety was guaranteed. Taking her by the hand so that she wouldn’t lag behind her, Sally dived straight to the bottom of the waterfall lake.
However, there were no monsters down there, so they were able to safely reach the bottom, where they found four huge holes -one in each cardinal direction- and a large, pale pearl-colored scale that was about as big as Maple or Sally.
“Is this what was shining?”
“Probably, judging from its position. I’ve never heard about or seen anything like this, though.”
It was at the bottom of the waterfall lake, right in the middle of the underwater temple. Not only would not many players be able to survive being blown away like Maple, but they would also need to reach the temple safely, press the buttons in the correct order, and jump into the waterfall lake when the passage opened in front of them.
Not many players had been able to reach this place, so it was possible that no one had found anything like this scale.
“This isn’t a normal route, is it?”
“It shouldn’t be. There has been no need for us to use our diving suits so far in the dungeon.”
“Let’s take a look deeper inside!”
“Yeah, at least for as long as we can breathe. I have no idea what could be waiting ahead of us.”
The four holes around them looked exactly the same, so they randomly chose one and went through it.
“That was one big scale, wasn’t it?”
“There might be some huge monster ahead. Maybe even a hidden boss…”
There were scales at the entrance, so it wouldn’t be strange to see some huge monster swimming around in this large area, like the snails during the second event.
“We need to be careful as we go, but we must also hurry!”
“You’ll run out of time before I do. So be careful of your surroundings.”
Maple continued to deploy her “Dedicated Affection” while being as vigilant as ever, and Sally went a little ahead of her to make sure that there wasn’t anything dangerous lurking around.
After going that way for a while, they came across the severely worn-down ruins of a building that looked more like an actual underwater temple.
“Maybe this is the real underwater temple?”
“Well, it is underwater after all!”
“Yeah, though it looks like it’s seen better days.”
Rather than being naturally weathered and broken due to water erosion, the building looked more like it had been destroyed by something large enough as it forced its way inside.
“Those walls look pretty sturdy to me, so whatever that managed to trample them over must be pretty strong.”
“I hope it’s not as strong as Mai and Yui.”
Some still unseen culprit had swam around in convoluted ways inside this new underwater temple, causing the unchanging passageway before them to split into the left and right among the debris.
“Hmm… Which way should we go?”
“This place is huge, so there must be something we can use as a landmark… Something like this!”
Sally, who was a little ahead, stopped swimming and called out to Maple. She then pointed her at another white scale, which was shining just like the one at the entrance.
“Oh~! It’s like it’s leading us in!”
“It must come and go around this place regularly. Let’s take a closer look.”
“Yeah! There don’t seem to be any monsters here, though.”
Just like Maple said, there were no signs of fish-like monsters or the golems they had been facing so far.
The fact that some of the debris from the ruined building was the only thing that was moving, almost as if to make that shining scale easier to notice, made the whole scene look a bit creepy.
“Being able to focus on our search is ideal, but… There’s nothing special about this place.”
The only peculiar thing there was those scales. They were as tall as Maple or Sally, and were shining brightly amidst the area’s dim light, making it impossible to miss them.
“How’s your timer, Maple?”
“All good here! The diving suit is in top condition as well!”
“Should we press forward…? If something were to happen, we should be able to tell by the changes in the passageway’s atmosphere. Be mindful of your remaining oxygen.”
They didn’t know if there would be any rooms in there where they could get out of the water to reset their oxygen timers. And if there were no obstacles along the way, then it wouldn’t be strange to think that whatever was waiting for them deeper inside the temple was considerably strong.
Besides, endurance battles, which were Maple’s forte, would be quite difficult in this environment. So, as Sally said, they had no time to waste.
“I’ll be on the lookout for any details. I should be able to tell if something is out of place as we go.”
“I wouldn’t have expected any less from you, Sally!”
There could be another hidden entrance like the one that had led them here somewhere ahead.
With that thought in mind, the two headed deep inside the temple, towards whatever was waiting for them there.
As they proceeded, they began to follow a trail of more of those scales, which had been irregularly left behind along the way, with some of them piercing the floor while others were lodged into the walls. The farther they went, the dim water gradually became darker and their visibility only worsened.
The two had been wearing headlights for some time, and the detailed exploration was being handled by Sally. Maple was mostly focusing on staying on guard.
“Ah! Here’s another one of those scales!”
“It’s a good thing that we can see them easily even when it’s so dark down here. It’s not like I can’t see anything, but the fact that there may be something lurking in the dark makes me be extra careful.”
Maple was a little ahead, but as Sally quickly caught up with her while checking for any special hints on the scales, they suddenly felt a tremor, as if something was being dragged along the ground.
“…Did you feel that?”
“Yeah. It wasn’t our imagination.”
It was more as if something had moved underground. And it was heading somewhere not far from where Maple and Sally were.
“It’s hard to see anything down here, so be careful. You can cancel your ‘Dedicated Affection’ as well.”
“Okay! You let me know if anything happens as well, Sally!”
“Sure thing. You can count on me.”
Though it was very difficult to see anything around them, the two, who were more vigilant about any signs of the enemy, realized that the tunnel-like passage had come to an end and they were now in a large area.
“Whoa… It’s so dark here.”
“…But there’s something here.”
Following Sally’s gaze, Maple also looked down. Perhaps in response to that, Maple noticed that a large black shadow moved along with the soIn response, Maple also found that a large black shadow moved as another tremor echoed at the darkness of the bottom of the water.
Something started to shine faintly at the bottom of the water as Maple and Sally wondered what was drawing near, and its light gradually revealed its source’s true form.
Its scales were shining just like the others they had found along the way. However, these ones hadn’t fallen out, but instead were part of a bigger mass of light that had started to move at the bottom of the water.
Its entire body was covered with dimly shining scales, it looked like a mix of a fish and a dragon, and was tens of meters long. Its arms and legs were small and had regressed into something that closely resembled fins, and it had several tentacles and whisker-looking appendages. While its glowing body illuminated the darkness, it whirled up a large amount of sand from the bottom of the area as it started to rise from it.
“I don’t know what it’s going to do, so be careful!”
As the two of them prepared to fight, the boss quickly ascended carrying with him a strong water current. After seeing such tremendous speed, which was unthinkable for a monster of that size, Sally immediately thrust herself away.
Although she had avoided getting hit directly by having her skill pull her towards the accelerated Sally, the flow caused by the boss’ movement pushed them even farther away.
As the boss was now above them, they saw a large tail fin turning around them.
“It’s faster than I thought! Can you dodge it, Maple?”
“It might be a bit difficult if it’s going to be like that all the time…”
With Maple’s current movement speed, it would be impossible for her to swim out of the way of something that fast. If it weren’t for Sally being close to her at all times, she wouldn’t be able to keep on dodging it.
“I’ll try to block it next time! These rush attacks haven’t had piercing effects so far.”
“… Okay. Let’s split then. You draw it towards you, and I’ll move behind it to attack it.”
If the boss’ rush happened to be a piercing attack, Maple and Sally’s roles would be reversed. After a second rush, Sally kept her distance from Maple in order to catch him off guard from a blind spot.
Maple caught the boss’ straightforward rush attack with her great shield. However, blocking worked differently underwater.
Her “Bizarre Eater” still devoured the boss’ head, causing considerable damage, but without any floor to support her, it failed to stop it in its tracks
The momentum plunged Maple all the way downwards, and as she crashed into the bottom of the area, a curtain of sand whirled at the point of impact.
“I have to do something right now! ‘Water Coat’!”
Sally was worried about what happened to Maple, but she knew that as long as her “Indomitable Guardian” was still active, she wouldn’t be killed. So she had to take this chance Maple had created for her. Holding her twin daggers and wearing her blue set, Sally swam along the boss’ long backside, slashing and hacking away as she went. Each successive hit caused additional damage, so even if her blue set had slightly lower stats, she would be able to deal more damage to the boss this way.
“You’re too big to be trying to make such sharp turns!
The boss tried to turn around in order to shake Sally off, but since she was swimming around its body at a reasonable distance, it wasn’t able to reach her.
“‘Deploy All Weapons’! ‘Commence Attack’!”
Another cloud of sand whirled up from the bottom as a bullet and a laser beam emerged from it towards the boss.
“Sally! I’m okay!”
Maple’s voice was heard mixed in with the noise from her shooting. Her incredible defense seemed to have repelled the giant boss’ rush without any problems.
“Great! …Now I can focus completely on my attacks.”
The boss’ rushing attack would be considerably difficult to deal with for normal parties, since its huge body could allow it to attack everyone at once and cause tremendous damage, but it would be useless if its target had a way to avoid being hit by it head on.
Sally could safely dodge it. And Maple could block it and prevent all damage from it.
Rushing, mowing down with its fins, and attacking with its body while constantly moving, were all useless against them. It would be impossible for the boss to defeat Maple and Sally with such straightforward attacks and its fixed movement pattern.
Its high stats were both no match for Maple’s defense and pointless against Sally, who it couldn’t even touch.
For all its intimidating presence, the giant, which had been sleeping at the bottom of this area, was unable to damage them, and its HP continued to gradually decrease from Maple and Sally’s offensive.
The boss opened its large mouth and rushed yet again towards Maple, and crashed head-first into her summoned monster, taking a big hit and stopping in its tracks.
“I’ll keep on shooting at it!”
As Maple continued to shoot, Sally also attacked the boss as much as she could. However, instead of trying to fight back, it shook them off, reaching a speed that not even Sally could keep up with.
“Huh? It’s gone?”
“No, it’s not running away!”
After ascending for a while, the boss turned his face upside down and towards them, then bent its long whiskers, bringing them in front of its face.
At a distance where none of the two could get close to it in time, the light that each of its scales had on them started to leave them, starting from its tail all the way to its head, and onto the dim water.
Far from dissolving into it, the light traveled through the water, gathering at the tips of the boss’ whiskers, making them larger.
At this point, Maple realized that she had seen something similar to this before, and sensed that something big was about to happen.
“Is it gonna shoot at us!?”
“It’s gonna shoot! Get ready!”
“‘Heavy Body’! ‘Pierce Guard’!”
After activating her skills, she put up her great shield in front of her. Then as she assumed a defensive stance, a pillar of light was brought down upon Maple.
“It’ll be okay! Stay behind me!”
“Okay, I’ll leave it to you!”
As Sally hid behind Maple, the light wrapped around both of them. It was a light so bright that everything quickly turned white. Maple’s shield started to swallow that light, but before it was completely swallowed, it bursted, spreading in all directions.
Maple followed the diffused beams of light, and saw that they headed towards several darkened scales that were stuck into the walls and ground, which absorbed the light and then started to shine as well.
“I have a bad feeling about this…”
Sally’s intuition was correct, and although the beam fired by the boss had been stopped, a large number of scattered scales had become reflectors, causing multiple smaller beams of light to bounce chaotically all over the place.
“Yeah. We should be fine as long as it’s only this many. Though we’ll have to be able to dodge them at some point.”
After confirming they were still under the effects of “Dedicated Affection”, the beams of light had become so many that they could no longer afford to ignore them.
The boss had lost its light and turned black, and wouldn’t be firing anything like that huge beam without recharging first.
“Just stay on guard for those rush attacks. Don’t get blown away!”
“Alright. I’m going to attack now.”
Maple put her back against the wall, taking a position where she can stop a frontal rush attack from the boss, and stabilized the range of “Dedicated Affection” so that it wouldn’t be moved. By doing this, Sally could be easily incorporated into her offensive from a safe zone. This position was possible because Maple hadn’t sustained any damage.
Sally instantly leapt forward to shorten the distance between her and the boss, but naturally, the thin beams of light that were bouncing from one scale to another started to attack her from all directions.
“I could use some practice… I have to dodge these!”
Since she was underwater, her dodging abilities should feel different than when used on the surface. But for Sally, that difference didn’t exist, and she used sudden stops and sudden bursts of speed to close the gap between her and the boss.
Avoiding barrage-like attacks was essential for Sally. She absolutely had to face opponents she would originally do poorly against head-on. If she couldn’t do that, she wouldn’t be able to face other players in battle.
She slashed through the dim water, and could see the effects of the slashing and of damage being dealt.
After the boss had lost its light and turned black, it was hard to see it in the darkness of that sunken room, but Sally was moving around with her usual precision.
“I need to have a bit more leeway…!”
Sally still wished to improve, both by avoiding the rays of light from her surroundings and keeping the boss from twisting around and trying to blow her away.
Still, regardless of Sally’s thoughts, attacking the boss was a different story.
The battle was all about keeping the boss from touching Sally at this point, regardless of how much room for improvement there was for her, or how much she wanted to perfect her own abilities.
“Maple! You’re up!”
“Leave it to me! ‘Invitation to the Ocean Floor’!”
Swelling up from Maple’s diving suit, a black haze darker than the water they were submerged in overflowed, transforming her left arm into tentacles.
Since the boss didn’t seem to be able to damage Maple even without her shield, all she had to do was to simply wait and eat everything with her devouring arm.
As the five tentacles opened up, the boss’ head was smashed as it rushed towards Maple. Due to its ability to swallow whatever they touched regardless of force, the tentacles sank into the boss’s head without any resistance, and five major damage visual effects appeared.
“Waah!? I-It’s not stopping!”
The rush attack didn’t stop even after its head was smashed by Maple, and the boss forced its body onwards in an attempt to crush Maple onto the wall she had leant against.
As a result, the weapons that she had deployed were shattered, but Maple activated the skill that would allow her to make other attacks during the boss’ approach as she was being squashed against the wall.
“‘Predator’! ‘Seeping Chaos’!”
When the three monsters bit into the boss’ body and the tentacles damaged it, the boss -who had already lost a great deal of HP- shakily moved away from Maple.
“I can’t use poison… Then, ‘Deploy Barrels’!”
Poison couldn’t be used underwater since it would affect everyone but her indiscriminately. Because of that, she chose to deploy several barrels from her back instead, and then opened fire with all of them at once in pursuit of the fleeing boss.
“Sally! You’re up!
Maple wondered if the boss had realized that continuing to fight her would do it no good, but she also realized that the boss turning towards Sally wasn’t good for them either. While it was busy trying to attack Maple, the large number of bouncing light beams hadn’t been able to reach Sally.
Neither Sally nor Maple could say for sure how long their defenses would last. If neither of them could hit the boss with their skills, the situation would never change.
“‘Cyclone Cutter’! ‘Quintuple Slash’!”
She used a derivation of her basic skills instead of going for special skills or daring moves. Still, they were effective at reducing the boss’ HP. Since she knew that the boss had no means to hurt them, there was no need to do anything more for the time being.
Besides, she could always get some help from Maple if need be.
“‘Quick Change’! ‘Deploy Barrels’!”
Yellow polygons converged on Sally’s back, making several barrels appear just like they had for Maple a moment ago, which then opened fire.
“‘Reversal of Lies’”
Her attacks fired from close range pierced through the boss, coming out the other side, before turning into a yellow light and disappearing along with the barrels on Sally’s back, mixing together with the damage effects.
“If I can’t keep shooting, I have no way to see how strong the skill is… Maple, the rest is up to you!”
Seeing a large amount of light beams approaching, Sally turned her weapon into a great shield and moved away from the boss while protecting herself.
Then, something exploded at the bottom of the room, and taking Sally’s place, Maple was ejected like a bullet towards the boss while being splattered by the rain of light beams.
When Maple got really close to the boss’ face, even closer than Sally had been, she put the muzzle of her barrel on what would have been its forehead, and fired a laser.
As the red light pierced the boss, its body started to shine extremely brightly in its final moments, illuminating the entire area, and as it began to sink to the bottom, the light overflowed from its enormous body, creating a huge explosion.