39 OG DungeonMaster
The Hidden Boss is an ugly mofo.
Ankou the Soul Collector. He's even taller than the Oni no Gekido, like maybe two giraffes high?
Is that a weird point of reference?
Whatever, it works.
Ankou's a haggard-looking dude, with scraggly white hair and paper-thin skin stretched so tightly across his bones, he's little more than a skeleton.
He looks as exhausted as midterms feel.
Like the barely-living embodiment of a week of all-nighters, worsened by the soul-crushing knowledge that none of it matters because you're definitely going to fail and why did you think college was a good idea anyway; clearly your 8th grade math teacher was right and you're never going to amount to anything.
(If you empathize with this descriptive reference, my condolences.)
"Is this a friggin' Hidden Boss?!" Shadeslayer yells.
"Gee, what gave it away?" I think. "The flashing Notification [You have Triggered a HIDDEN BOSS!], perhaps?"
Shadeslayer hisses in embarrassed fury. "Go to hell!"
Whoops. Was that out loud?
I guess the truth will not be silenced.
Snark speaks on its own frequency.
As I pry the gnarly tooth from my forehead and store it, I finish inspecting Ankou, and for a moment, I admit I consider pulling a Gandalf (v Balrog).
I immediately discard the idea, though, because I may be an asshole, but I'm not a dick.
(To be clear, I don't blame old G for dicking over his teammates. Check it. Gandalf's a god, right? Playing with a party half total noob. He's carrying them through the Main Storyline Quest, letting them leech across maps way over their Levels, until the noobs bitch out (looking at you, mountain pass) and make him carry them through a dungeon so rough it's practically end-game content.
Then the Balrog comes, and our man can't take it anymore. He tells them all to run so he won't have to share EXP with the leechers making up 4/9 of his party. Bastard's bold, though; Gandalf don't give a fuuuck, showing up for the next Boss Raid in primo new gear, all leveled up, like "Wut."
Tolkien is the OG DungeonMaster.)
"Lux." My warm yellow glow illuminates my party members and a third of the crypt.
"Dude, where did you learn this skill?" Lialas asks. "It's so much more convenient than lanterns."
Nightfury seethes a little, grinding his teeth, and I feel at peace.
"It's called Lux. I scored it in my Foundation Village. It's a base skill for everyone, though, so I'm sure there's another way to get it somewhere in this Realm. Shouldn't be long before someone figures it out and posts a walk-through."
I could teach them Nox, since I'm the creator of that Skill, but not until they learn its base skill Lux, and that one, I can't teach.
"What's the range?" Kane asks.
I don't actually know, so I test it, visualizing the light reaching as far as possible. It doesn't go too much farther, but Hidden Boss Ankou's now mostly visible.
Lialas' jaw drops. "Jeebus, how big is this guy?"
"About two giraffes tall," I offer helpfully.
"Damn, that's like 12 meters," Kane says, looking worried.
Shadeslayer huffs. "His reach is going to be ridiculous. Melee's gonna be tough."
Lialas raises his eyebrows. "Uh, so, we're just not going to comment on the whole using giraffes as a reference point thing?"
"Lialas and I will have to focus on our ranged attacks to try to buy openings for the close combat fighters," Nightfury says, making a fist.
"I'm more concerned with how Kane knew exactly how many meters tall two giraffes were," I say, half-bemused, half-impressed.
"Anyone know Ankou's special moves?" Kane asks.
Nightfury frowns. "I can't remember the specifics, but I feel like there was something about random aggro-switching."
Brow furrowed, Shadeslayer swipes furiously. "Damn. I can't open the forums."
Kane nods."Unless you register a Live-Stream beforehand, there are no online capabilities during dungeon raids."
"We're cool, no need for a guide," I say, drawing Zen'aku.
Kane looks hopeful. "You know this Boss?"
"You've guessed his moves somehow?" Kane tries again.
"You've scored a sweet magic scroll or bomb or something?"
"Then why with the false confidence, moron?" Shadeslayer snaps.
"This is Nightmare Mode, remember?" Kane reminds me. I just stare back blankly, not sure what that has to do with anything. "He's going to have some crazy skills and higher defense and offense than usual."
Kane sighs, and the Angry Idiot Twins grit their teeth.
Chuckling, Lialas claps my shoulder. "Erebus, my man, you are a riot." I shoot him a questioning look that probably looks more like an annoyed glare, but he just laughs again. "You look like you have no idea why we'd be worried about a Hidden Boss we know nothing about, triple our Level and rocking Nightmare bonuses."
"I mean, I guess that could be worrisome?" I accede. "But you have me, so it'll be fine."
Lialas laughs again, and Kane looks at me like I'm crazy.
"Fine, then show us these mad skills," Shadeslayer taunts.
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"Okay," I say.
"I hope he chokes on his ego," Nightfury snarls.
"That was a higher-level insult than I expected from you," I marvel. "Unfortunately, I feel the need to lower the bar and retort with a hearty, 'I hope you choke on Shadeslayer's dick!'"
"Aw, not mine? I bet mine's actually big enough to be a choking hazard," Lialas whines.
"You shouldn't risk it. Nightcalm looks like he gives angry head. That's a guy who uses teeth."
Lialas sucks in a breath and unconsciously lowers his hands. "Ouch."
"If we could perhaps attack the Boss now..." Kane interjects.
"Sure thing," I say.
Then I take off to wreck some shit.
Before Ankou can even register I've entered his aggro range, I Chakra Burst his ass.
Gahhh, that seven-strike combo is so damn satisfying.
"Holy shit," Lialas says.
"Seriously, who the fuck is this guy?" Shadeslayer asks nobody in particular.
I interrupt a lumbering punch attack with a Whistling Starfall headshot, then immediately hit him again with the Comet Burst explosive attack.
He stumbles and lets out a ghostly scream-type roar that sounds like angry wind and death and a little like a t-rex for some reason.
Shrugging off the weird sfx choice, I clamber up the Boss like a skeleton tree and use two-bladed Cutthroat, then kick off his head to leap out of the way of his poison gas attack.
"Could you even pull a move like that by the end of the beta?" Kane asks Nightfury.
"..." Nightfury replies.
At 80% HP, Ankou calls forth his minions, and a shit-ton of spectral Adds join the fray.
I kill three of the ghosts and land another 5% damage on Ankou before I realize my party is still just staring at me.
"You can all start attacking now, you know," I remind them.
"How do you want us to help?" Lialas asks.
"Uh. Ranged attackers stay as far back as possible so you won't get hit by his swinging attacks. Melee, your AGIs are low, so if you see an opening, you can land a single skill on the Boss at a time, but mostly, focus on the ghost horde."
I stare, confused. "What more did you want?"
Lialas shrugs. "I dunno. Like some genius strategy or plan or something."
"But you wouldn't be able to follow a strategy like that? You couldn't even clear Hard Mode, right?"
All four of them flinch and groan, pierced through the heart by ultimate-damage Hard Truth Arrows.
I'm too busy beating a Boss single-handedly to notice.
Then I Leeroy Jenkins the Adds, so Shadeslayer and Kane can take them out for a few seconds without fearing counter-attacks. I'm dodging ghosts on all sides, and slicing up Ankou as best I can, smiling like a madman amidst the chaos. I'm way too busy to notice the way the other four stare at my silver-and-black-eyed face.
In that moment, four people come to four firm conclusions.
One resolves to become a more useful player, who never needs to ask how to help.
One resolves to get strong enough to beat me.
One resolves to get strong enough to be me.
And one resolves to murder me in my sleep.