Itai no wa Iya nanode Bōgyo-Ryoku ni Kyokufuri Shitai to Omoimasu 413

 

Defense Specialization and the Vestiges

 

 

After the darkness surrounding Maple disappeared, she could see that the area looked just like the plains she was in just a few moments ago.

There didn’t seem to be anything but an endless plain before her. The forests and towns that were visible before teleporting here were now completely gone. It seemed that there would be no need to be mindful of the terrain for the upcoming battle.

Then, rather than gradually getting smaller, the black spots that had spread all over Maple’s body instead turned into a black haze and started taking on the shape of a human before turning into that of a man with long white hair and a black sword at his waist.

Maple was relieved to find that what had appeared before her eyes didn’t look like a strong, terrifying monster.

 

“Good job collecting enough offerings for my resurrection. Thank you.”

 

“No problem!”

 

“Now all that I require in order to fully restore myself, is your soul. Yes… the magical power within your soul will be sufficient.”

 

“I’m sorry?”

 

Maple was taken aback by the sudden change of attitude of the man after having assumed that he was just a kindhearted NPC that was about to give her a reward for completing the quest.

But the quest details had clear instructions: Defeat the boss. So there was no way it would end peacefully just like that from the beginning.

 

“You better die quietly!”

 

“Jeez! ‘Hydra’!”

 

After seeing the HP bar displayed above the man’s head as he pulled out his sword and started walking towards her, Maple readied her large shield and tried to activate one of her skills….

However, she failed to produce any poison.

 

“Whaaaa!? But I don’t have those black spots on me anymoooore!”

 

“There’s no reason for me to undo your shackles, don’t you think?”

 

The man quickly approached Maple, who was puffing out her cheeks, and swung his black sword at her.

Although Maple managed to match the swing’s speed –which was close to Sally’s– with her large shield, the blow managed to turn it sideways and hit Maple directly with a downward slash.

 

“Waaah!?”

 

If the man’s words were true, his body would be made of rare items, Iz’s powerful weapons, and the souls of defeated monsters, so there was no way he wasn’t strong. Maple had been able to defeat every boss possible with the help of Mai and Yui just a little while ago, so she didn’t think this man would be any weaker than any of those bosses.

Luckily, she hadn’t lost any of her defensive power. Therefore, Maple’s armor still was impossible to break through without any attack that didn’t have an armor piercing effect. This gave Maple some time to rethink her strategy.

 

“Okay, here goes…!”

 

Since everyone in the guild was rooting for her, she put up all her strength in her legs to quickly get back to her feet while looking at the man to see if there were any openings in his defense. He didn’t seem to have any intention of slowing down his attack, and quickly approached Maple to deliver another blow with his jet-black sword, which knocked Maple to the ground once again.

 

“Ugh! Looks like I can’t use this very well right now!”

 

Maple put her large shield back into her inventory while rolling on the ground. Considering she was only able to use items, her ‘Evil Eater’ was both her strongest attack and her best means of defense. She couldn’t afford to waste a single resource under these circumstances.

After being slashed and blown away a few more times, Maple started to get familiar with the man’s attacks and started thinking.

 

“I’d like to keep my distance from him, but… he’s too fast… hmmm.”

 

Considering that the man was already back onto her and ready to strike by the time Maple got back up from the ground, it was impossible to keep a distance by moving around normally.

 

“What can I use… Ah, how about this?”

 

Maple was once again sent flying by the man’s attack, but this time she had taken out an item from her inventory and pressed it against her back. However, nothing in particular happened this time around, and Maple stayed with her back against the ground instead of trying to get up once again as the man’s next attack was approaching.

Just before the man’s sword reached her, a flashy explosion occurred directly below Maple, and the force of the explosion sent Maple several meters off the ground.

 

“Alright!”

 

However, there was nothing more Maple could do after that, and so she fell once again to the ground, where she was slashed at by the man who was waiting for her, sending her flying once again. And yet,  Maple seemed satisfied with her experiment.

 

What Maple had used was one of Iz’s special Sticky Bombs. Unlike regular bombs that can detonate when attacked, Sticky Bombs were an exceptional type of bomb that does not detonate until their timer, which starts only when attached to something, reaches zero. Unfortunately, the way it was designed made it impossible to be attached directly to an enemy, and was intended to be set up on the field, but it was also possible for a player to attach it to themselves. At first, there would seem to be no point in doing that, but in this situation, Maple realized that she could use these bombs as a means of transportation.

She would be able to throw herself at high speed into any direction by simply attaching one of those bombs in a part of her body opposite of her intended direction, after its timer reached zero.

 

“Alright! One more time!”

 

Once again, Maple set herself up just like before, laying down on the ground while waiting for the explosion. After a short while, Maple was blown up into the sky. But this time, a second, and then a third explosion occurred while she was mid-air, sending Maple further upwards.

Sticky Bombs will not detonate until the time is up, meaning that there’s no way to trigger a chain explosion just with them. But by starting their timers with a small delay from one another, it is possible to cause a series of explosions while in mid-air. Maple used this theory to simulate a triple jump.

Maple’s case was exceptional in that she didn’t have to worry about being damaged by explosions or falling, but in any case, Sticky Bombs proved to be an effective means to get some distance.

 

“Hurry, hurry… All done!”

 

Maple opened her inventory and quickly changed her equipment. Maple still had some gear on her with useful passive skills. One of them was a certain Accessory, which was highly acclaimed by all members of “Maple Tree” due to its resourcefulness.

A white hand appeared in the air, holding a large shield, waiting under the falling Maple to catch her.

Maple had a strong passive in her “Helping Hand”, and her “Evil Eater” was one of the few skills she was still able to use.

Having succeeded in keeping herself in mid-air with this strategy, Maple checked below to see how the man would respond. The man then held his sword aloft for a brief moment before bringing it down with full force.

 

“Waaaah!?”

 

Maple withdrew her head in a panic after seeing the shining shockwave-like effect that had been sent flying by the man’s sword. This shockwave hit the shield that Maple was using as a mid-air scaffolding, so it hadn’t connected with Maple. She couldn’t afford to get hit by another one of those, as it would knock her out of her shield and cause her to fall to the ground.

 

“Let’s try this before anything else…!”

 

Maple reached for more items out of her inventory. What came out were, once again, things filled with gunpowder. Naturally, these bombs would be good for moving around, and not so much for attacking.

They had a rocket-like shape with an extended fuse, and looked a bit like fireworks that would shoot up into the sky when ignited. They seemed like they were meant to be used to attack airborne monsters, but what Maple did was wrap them around her body with a rope.

 

“Let’s go!”

 

After igniting all of the fuses at once with the help of the flame crystals, she straightened up and waited for the rockets to go off.

After a little while, Maple was shot up into the sky, leaving a large trail of smoke behind her.

Maple sat on the large shield as she reached such an altitude that the man’s shockwave slashes would not reach her anymore. Whether it was because he felt his own skill wouldn’t reach that high, or because he thought it unnecessary to try to hit her any longer, the man stopped attacking.

 

“My turn to counterattack!”

 

After she was finally done with her preparations, Maple took out another item from her inventory.

It was a rock. That’s right: an ordinary rock. Naturally, the rocks that Yui and Mai carried during the base creation in the 8th event didn’t have the ability to fly, and shortly after Maple suddenly threw it into the air, it soon fell subject to the laws of gravity and came crashing down.

 

“Go~!”

 

The man managed to avoid the falling large rock with his agile movements, and so the large rock crashed into the ground and remained there. This one hadn’t hit its mark, but Maple had plenty more ammunition. Not only rocks, but also iron balls, ice blocks, and other large and heavy objects that Iz had stuffed into her inventory.

 

“They’re just gonna keep coming down!”

 

Today’s weather is rocks and iron balls, with a chance for ice blocks. Maple kept on throwing everything she had at the man, and the ground started getting filled with these things, changing the terrain.

 

 

 

No matter how fast the man was, he was still trying to dodge and attack Maple at the same time, so he started taking damage little by little by Maple’s seemingly unending barrage of junk. While the damage she was dealing was nothing to write home about, it was still better than dealing no damage at all.

The tenacity Maple had shown during her fight with the Poison Dragon was still there, and she kept throwing stuff to the ground for over an hour, and finally succeeded in cutting the man’s HP by about 20%.

 

“Phew… But it’s getting easier!”

 

There was no trace of the original flat terrain anymore, and the difference in elevation generated by Maple’s violent littering was now limiting the man’s movements. As a result, the man was now being hit more frequently now that he wasn’t as able to dodge as before, and at this rate, Maple estimated that she would be able to defeat him in less than four hours.

However, that thought was short-lived. A dark light enveloped the man’s body, and after a while, the light exploded from within, revealing a pair of demon-like black wings that had grown from his back.

With a single flap of those wings, the man quickly soared into the air, twisted his body, and flew straight towards Maple.

 

“Eeh!?”

 

Maple, who had only managed to secure this position through her skillful use of items, had no means to keep up with movement of an opponent with the ability to fly freely through the air.

 

“W-Wait! Ah!?”

 

The man easily got himself above Maple before slashing downward with his sword, causing her to fall head first toward the ground.

Her fall caused a loud crashing sound and a cloud of dust to rise up, but since she knew from experience that she wouldn’t take any fall damage, Maple immediately got back on her feet and started running.

 

“I have to prepare for my next attack!”

 

Now that the man could fly, Maple’s plan to chip away at his health with a barrage of junk was no longer as effective. She would need a new plan if she was to have any chance to shave off the man’s remaining 80% HP.

Since Maple still had no access to her offensive skills, one way she could try to deal damage to a quick opponent such as this man would be to secure an advantageous position where she can attack repeatedly and without interruptions until her attacks start to connect.

 

And the other effective way to get monsters to approach her was to stay completely still.

Naturally, the man didn’t land by crashing violently into the ground. Instead, he descended at a reasonable speed, so there was a little time before he would get closer to Maple.

It would be very troublesome to try to escape from another one of those loops of getting knocked away repeatedly before she could fully get back up, so she had to be very careful not to miss her chance.

 

“Okay… Here goes!”

 

Maple positioned herself so her back would be covered by the stuff she had thrown earlier, and then quickly took out more rocks from her inventory to cover her sides as well. Then, after doing the same above her head, Maple waited patiently inside her makeshift stone igloo, whose sole entrance was at the front. A player wouldn’t try to enter such an obvious trap, but a monster such as that man would fly straight in.

This difference was the advantage that Maple had in this battle.

Soon enough, the man readied his sword –which shone with a glitter that could be seen even in the dark– and quickly rushed in. Even though she wasn’t very good at evading, Maple was no longer a beginner. She now had enough game sense to know the right timing to activate his trap against his reckless opponent.

Trying to imitate Sally’s movements, Maple shifted her upper body to the side to avoid the man’s thrust, and after regaining her original posture, she threw both of her hands to the front.

Her jet-black shield –which also glittered in the dark– appeared in front of Maple’s hands, swallowing the man’s head, neck, and even his shoulders whole, inflicting great damage to him. Then, black light gathered around the man, instantly repairing his body, but it seemed that this hadn’t undone the damage he had sustained.

 

“Gwoooh…!”

 

Maple pushed out her large shield even more, chasing the man who was frightened after finding himself having received a large amount of damage. But precisely because of this damage he had taken, he had also reflexively jumped out of Maple’s reach in order to rebuild his body, so Maple’s attempt at a follow-up attack was unsuccessful.

 

“I’ve been waiting for you!”

 

Maple had no need to go to the enemy. All she had to do was to wait for him in the safety of the small shelter she had created, and have her shield take chunks out of his health whenever he came to her.

That man had to defeat Maple. That’s the way he had been created. The only one with the option to interrupt this battle in any way was Maple. Therefore, he had no choice but to go to Maple, even if it meant stepping directly on her trap.

And so the man jumps in again. And Maple’s monstrous shield waited for him again, with its mouth wide open. This time, with its fangs’ accuracy now increased, the shield managed to take two bites out of the man.

But looking at how things were progressing, Maple’s face wasn’t exactly happy after all.

 

“Seven more times…”

 

Looking at the HP bar above the man after he had once again jumped out of her burrow, Maple realized that even the amount of “Evil Eaters” she could use would probably not be enough to take out the rest of the man’s HP

It was only natural. While her “Evil Eater” definitely packed a punch, the enemy she was fighting against had been crushed by rocks and other pieces of junk around a hundred times, and all that did was shave off merely 20% of his considerably high HP.

 

“I guess I’ll save it for later then!”

 

As a boss monster’s HP gets lower and lower, its attack pattern normally tends to change. Maple figured her remaining uses of “Evil Eater” might be better saved for an eventual short, decisive skirmish, so she put her shield away and took out a vial of oil and an ignition crystal.

In an instant, the surroundings were engulfed in flames, creating a constant damage area around Maple. She looked out through the hole in her burrow, waiting for her enemy to come to her once again, but unlike before, he simply stayed away from it.

 

“Huh?”

 

Unlike “Evil Eater”, the flames had created an area that would constantly damage anyone who entered it. It seemed that the man wouldn’t voluntarily step into a place where they were guaranteed to receive damage.

 

“So flames are no good, huh…?”

 

Maple figured she’d have to use items that wouldn’t deal damage until the very moment they’re activated, like bombs and other items she would normally use that dealt elemental damage when triggered.

Maple took out a crystal in each hand and waited for the flames to go out.

After the man sensed that the flames had gone out, he once again threw himself into the burrow’s opening. Thanks to the fact that this entrance was, by chance, quite narrow, it induced the man to try to attack by thrusting his sword into the entrance, which was something that even Maple was able to dodge with relative ease.

 

After dodging the blow, Maple leapt forward and threw her hands forward. The crystals were crushed, and the electricity and flames they produced managed to scrape off some of the man’s HP, but the damage dealt was actually rather low compared to when she used her “Evil Eater” so the man was able to quickly resume his assault.

 

“Ah! I… I see…!”

 

Since the thing that had been causing the man to retreat before had been her “Evil Eater”, now that she had put away her shield, there was nothing preventing the man to continue to attack any longer, and Maple was hit by the man’s following flurry of slashes, slamming into the rock behind her.

 

“W-Waaah! W-Wait!”

 

Although the man was relentlessly slashing at Maple, she actually received no damage at all from it. All it managed to produce on Maple was the rattling sound of his sword against her armor. However, the resulting intense knockbacks rendered her unable to move her body properly.

Even the large shield held by her “Helping Hand”, which was still active, was really hard to get between Maple and the man, now that he had gotten so close. And so the rocks behind Maple could no longer withstand the shock of the man’s ceaseless barrage of slashes transmitted via Maple’s body, causing it to finally give way and collapse. Without the wall of rocks’ support, Maple was thrown further backwards.

Originally, Maple had created this back wall by lining up rocks really close to the edge of this area. Being driven there after the wall had collapsed meant that she was now at a dead end.

Furthermore, the rocks that were used as the roof also lost their support and fell down, enclosing both man and Maple with rocks from all sides, making it impossible for either of them to retreat.

 

“…!”

 

What had first seemed to be quite a pinch for Maple had suddenly turned into a great opportunity that happened by mere chance.

 

“Hmm… Take this!”

 

Despite still being slashed at and pressed against the rocks behind her, Maple still managed to open her inventory, taking a huge iron ball from it and lifting it over her head. Since they were completely blocked by rocks all around them, there was no way for the man to dodge an iron ball of this size when thrown from above.

The iron ball fell on both Maple and the man, crushing them. This was what Maple aimed for, to slowly deal damage to the man by crushing him under the heavy iron ball. The damage it dealt was rather meager, but as long as the man was being crushed under the iron ball, he would be continuously damaged by it, and Maple estimated that in a few hours, the man’s HP would finally reach zero.

 

Of course, there was no way the man would just sit still and wait to be crushed to death, and so he tried to escape.

Although he was unable to move his body, he managed to shoot a black shockwave from his sword without moving thanks to his magic abilities, cutting the iron ball in half.

However, at this very moment, Maple already had her next iron ball ready, so she threw that one as well, crushing them both again and ensuring that this situation would continue.

Since the enemy was the only one receiving damage through this, Maple would eventually win the battle if this situation continued. It was a rather convoluted way to win a battle, but thanks to it, Maple was steadily heading towards victory.

 

 

 

A little over an hour passed, and as the man kept on slashing through the iron balls and Maple kept on replacing them, another problem finally arose.

Maple had finally run out of items to throw.

Even though Iz had given her as many items as she could carry, this situation she was in wasn’t something she had planned before entering this area, so she hadn’t expected these items to be so crucial. After all, what kind of player would actually worry about running out of rocks to crush an opponent to death in the first place?

 

Maple had thought that it would be nice if she could at least pick up the stuff she had thrown so that she could throw it again, but herself being crushed as well under the weight of the iron ball along with the enemy made it impossible to do so.

And so, two hours went by, and the items Maple had thrown all over the place started disappearing one by one.

Although she had already succeeded in reducing the man’s HP by about another 20%, he was still far from being defeated. The rocks that were keeping both of them stuck in this situation would soon despawn.

Maple knew she had to keep scraping off as much of the man’s HP as possible while they were still both trapped under these rocks.

Using bombs would have dealt more damage to him, but they would also destroy the rocks that imprisoned both, so there was no choice but to leave it to this slow but steady scraping.

 

Then again, she had already used up every single one of her other items, and since the rocks that were trapping them both would soon despawn either way, Maple reconsidered, and started throwing medium-sized bombs one after another to destroy the large rock that was now crushing the man. After all, there was no point in being completely restricted by these rocks now that she didn’t have anything else to throw at the man. In fact, this would probably be her first and last chance to get some damage done with her bombs.

 

The bombs set forth by Maple rolled towards the man, and get caught in the middle of his attempts at clearing away the rock that was crushing him, which in turn activates them and sets them off in a chain reaction.

Compared to crushing the enemy’s body with rocks and iron balls, which were not originally intended to be used for attacks, these bombs were much more powerful, and since each of them was a direct hit, they alone managed to take another 10% of the man’s HP.

 

However, the surrounding walls would be understandably unable to withstand such an explosion, and so the large rocks around both Maple and the man were instantly deleted by it. The first of the rocks that Maple had thrown earlier had also reached their time limit and despawned, so after the explosion was over, the terrain was returned to the flatland it was in the beginning.

The man was now at 50% HP. Now that this battle had reached this milestone, dark light started bursting out from beyond the dust whipped up by the explosion.

Sensing that something had changed, Maple equipped one of the large shields Iz had given to her –since she herself could not use them–, and then used her “Helping Hand” to add two more large shields to her front and sides to prepare her defenses.

 

The man jumped out of the dust cloud, revealing he now had a sword in each hand. Both of them were wrapped in a dark light that flickered like flames, and Maple’s body became stiff as she sensed the danger emanating from his enemy.

Since his appearance had changed, Maple thought that the man had probably gained some kind of damage boost or additional effect to his attacks.

She prepared to rush in, but the man suddenly waved his hand, creating a black magic circle above them, and then the situation changed completely.

 

A jet-black laser was instantly fired from this magic circle, and the large shield that blocked it was dyed black as a result. To Maple’s surprise, the pitch-blackened shield exploded in a flashy way, breaking Maple’s balance. She managed to keep holding to it thanks to it being actually held by her “Helping Hand”, but if she had been holding it with her own hand, she probably wouldn’t have been able to keep holding onto it.

And then, now that he had a clear opening, the man quickly closed the distance between Maple and himself and unleashed a vicious slash, which finally broke through Maple’s crumbling defensive net.

 

“Ugh!”

 

From the slashed area, Maple’s gear started getting filled with the same dark light which would later trigger another explosion.

Not only that, but this attack seemed to be set to deal true damage, which ignored gear defense, and so it managed to chip away at Maple’s HP. Among the large shields she had received from Iz, Maple had given priority to equipping the ones that increased HP, so even though the three shields together would keep her from dying for the time being, she couldn’t afford to get hit multiple times by a similar attack.

 

While adjusting the position of her large shields, Maple took out a sticky bomb from her inventory and placed it on her chest.

After successfully blocking the next slash, Maple repositioned her body just in time for the bomb to go off, throwing herself backwards at high speed.

Being too close to the man was now very dangerous. Maple kept her inventory open, and continued to attach sticky bombs to her chest in order to quickly escape from the man’s reach whenever he got to close.

These bombs didn’t allow for a very dexterous movement, but at least they were great for keeping her distance at regular intervals.

 

Besides, attacking with explosions was Maple’s specialty. By keeping her inventory open, she was able to take out the bombs more smoothly, which would in turn allow her to scatter a large amount of bombs at the same time as being sent flying backwards.

Since the man continued trying to get close to Maple, these explosions kept on chipping away at his HP. Maple figure she had enough bombs left to finish this fight like this, but she was also worried about being able to keep up with the pace. If she were to make a mistake and get hit once again, she would have a very hard time trying to reposition herself, which would cause her next attempt at flying away backwards to fail. And such a mistake would be fatal.

 

“Okay, I gotta focus!”

 

As she took a deep breath, Maple felt as if Sally was somehow standing there with her. Knowing that she couldn’t afford to lose after having come this far, Maple repositioned her three shields.

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