38 How to Snag a Snaggle-Tooth
I kick ass to a chorus of screams.
Aku's battle cry joins the melody of Banshee shrieks to harmonize with the cries of blind boys shitting bricks.
Exultant, I become a blur of attacks, landing blow after blow on the Banshee.
To the poor guys blind against the wall, my battle looks especially insane. The Banshee's sensitive to changes in light, so I intersperse ultrabright Lux bursts to interrupt her eye-beam attacks. The rest of the time, my party can only see the silver-white streaks left behind as Zen slices the air, the violet lightning that shoots out of the Banshee's clawlike fingers, and the ever-shifting fog as I race around the room.
To their credit, my party sort of tries to help, in a sad, pathetic kind of way. Kane and Shadeslayer hack at the air every time they think the Banshee's near (they are literally never right, but it's cute they're trying), while Nightfury unleashes ranged attacks that sometimes land in the vicinity of our ongoing battle.
He's clearly extrapolating our positions from the various lights of our attacks, which would be clever, except he only ever hits me.
I tsk. "Nightfury, with aim like that, I pity your mother. How often does she have to clean piss off the toilet seat and walls of your basement bathroom?"
"Eat shit!" Kaboom!
If friendly fire were a feature of Viren's Refuge, that would have been a headshot.
Aw, Nightfury's improved!
"How can I help?" Lialas asks.
"Make Nightfury stop helping," I reply.
"Right-o," Lialas says.
I Taunt the Banshee and have her chase me to the opposite side of the crypt, out of range of Nightfury the Deranged Draegkyn.
This Banshee's the first opponent strong enough for me to really test out the Skills I acquired during the Quest of Daring. They're a hodge-podge of my fave go-tos from the beta, since there were only enough enemies to gain a limited number. I focused on the skills I could complete with perfect SkillPro even with my relatively low stats, and a few skills that are more difficult to obtain in-game.
I flow from Skill to Skill by incorporating non-skill dual blade moves and my own personal brand of mixed martial arts. The system won't give me official Combo bonuses, but my stamina depletion rate slows when my transitions are particularly fluid, so I keep an eye on my green SP bar as I experiment, searching for the most efficient blend of Skill and non-skill attacks.
I don't let my experimentation distract me from my primary goal, however: obtaining a Banshee tooth.
As if Zen'aku can feel this monster holds one of the keys to their upgrade, my blades thrum with anticipation as I spin and slice away.
I count five teeth protruding from the Banshee's putrid gums. I try a few different attacks in an effort to dislodge one: first, a Dual Thrust into her gaping mouth, then when that fails, a Horizontal Cross Slash. I end up slicing her mouth into a bleeding Joker-style forced smile, which only serves to make her more nightmarish.
Shadeslayer's high-pitched screech when Lux lights her face up afterward makes me feel it wasn't entirely a wasted effort, though.
Finally, when her HP nears the Red Zone, I get a little desperate. I'm fairly certain she won't drop a tooth upon death; the only way to snag one is to dislodge it before killing her.
In a move three parts juvenile desperation, one part genius inspiration, I launch Fangbite, a downward stab with both blades that leaves fang-like puncture wounds, into the Banshee's shoulders. Next, I plant my feet, grab the embedded blades, lean back, and use all my strength to fling myself forward.
Then I headbutt the Banshee in the face.
In the movies, headbutts like that always knock a tooth loose, and the bad guy spits it out like a badass.
When I do it, the loose tooth ends up lodged in my forehead.
Hitting the Banshee in one of her nasty snaggle teeth counts as a double critical hit. Her HP falls below 10% as I pull Zen'aku free.
With a final haunting shriek of rage and pain, the Banshee morphs into fog and disappears.
The rest of the fog dissipates as well, and the dungeon music returns to normal.
I completely forgot.
I never ran into a Hidden Boss while running this dungeon in the beta. The Banshee is the mini-boss before the Final Boss of the Dolmen Dungeon; if you stumble across a Hidden Boss first, however, she'll appear as a herald for him, too, but you won't be able to kill her until she pops up again at the end.
With a fevered cry of fury, Aku emits a wave of unfulfilled bloodlust so intense it's visible as a black thundercloud shot through with crimson lightning. The pulsing cloud rushes out in every direction, knocking my party members to the floor and filling the entire dungeon's catacombs.
Slowly, the cloud sinks to the floor, leaving a black and electric red swirling miasma at ankle-height. The second the Banshee reappears, the miasma will alert Aku so vengeance can be wrought.
I quickly open my Weapons Inventory to double-check the exact wording of Aku's relevant Curse:
|| If opponent escapes from Combat, Aku will remember opponent's energy signature. Aku will alert you when that opponent once again returns to range; if you fail to kill opponent by the third time the escaped opponent comes into range, you will die instead. ||
Damn, I'm only on the first dungeon of the game, and I've already brushed up against the edges of one of Zen'aku's Curses.
It's going to be a long Nine Realms, my dudes.
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As the system announces the arrival of the Hidden Boss,
[ANKOU - Soul Collector]
[Level 15 - HP 40,000/40,000]
I'm calmed by one reassuring thought:
At least I won't fall to Aku's Curse this time around. It's not like my Fickle Fortune can conjure two more Hidden Bosses in the same Dungeon.