42 How I OP My Way Out of This One
\"Holy shit, he's really doing it,\" Nightfury says, jaw dropping in shock.
\"I think I'm in love,\" Lialas says, awestruck.
Shadeslayer tsks. \"I'm telling your wife.\"
Blanching, Lialas grabs Shadeslayer's arm. \"You wouldn't!\"
Shadeslayer laughs obnoxiously, then cuts himself off to answer in all seriousness,
\"—Honestly, no. She's terrifying.\"
\"She's five feet tall,\" Nightfury rolls his eyes.
\"Five feet of pure terror.\"
\"She's a kindergarten teacher.\"
\"That should be your first clue. No normal person could control twenty screaming five-year-olds.\"
Nightfury throws a questioning glance at Lialas and juts his thumb at Shadeslayer. \"What did she do to him?\"
\"Convinced him to quit smoking and fed him kale.\"
\"Wow. What a menace.\"
\"LUX!\" I scream, and brilliant white light illuminates the crypt, even farther and brighter than I'd managed earlier.
Agonized screeches, high-pitched and grating to my super-sensory Perception, fill the dungeon as a hundred grisly Sluagh monsters cry out in pain from the sudden light.
Wincing, I power through my ears bleeding and continue my kamikaze Sprint toward the mobs. I hurl Whistling Starfall, and luck's on my side this time; the dart lands dead center in the midst of the macabre horde. I activate Comet Burst, and dozens of [-250] notifications light up the room.
\"I swear, if those dick-brained idiots didn't take this chance to run...\" I grumble to myself.
I'm almost afraid to look.
Prepared for the worst, I sneak a peek behind me, and IT'S A BLOODY MIRACLE; THE MORONS ARE ON THE MOVE!
As my three remaining party members dash toward the exit, I begin to attack in earnest.
I miss the increased damage output and speed bonuses from Aku, but Zen's triple damage plus my other equipment buffs mean I'm still two- or three-hit killing mobs left and right. Crit hits practically one-hit kill the twisted, bloodthirsty spectral creatures.
Unfortunately, my fickle fortune seems to have completely nerfed my 8%-chance vambrace lightning counter and my 1%-chance Yokai Boot paralysis kicks. Lightning does double damage against undead creatures, too. Bummer.
Oh well. Not like I had all that much luck in inducing my %-chance gear effects before I landed a Fickle Fortune anyway.
I lunge forward with Zen and use the skill Parry to push back an axe-wielding boar-snout Sluagh with gnarly ram horns. A wolf-looking Sluagh swipes at me with his razor claws, so I flip forward to dodge, land on my open hand, bend at the waist, and release a twisting tornado kick that pushes back all eight Sluagh currently swarming me.
The black smoke emanating from the beasts swirls around my twisting form, making me look as much a malevolent demon as any of the Sluagh.
\"Is he fighting or breakdancing?\" Shadeslayer asks in a voice I think is supposed to be a jeering taunt, except the effect is ruined because he also sounds impressed and a little like he wants to have my biracial babies.
Ignoring the pleb, I push off the ground, flap my wings to add air time, and launch a version of the two-handed sword skill Charybdis.
Named for a literal Lady Whirlpool with Teeth from Greek Mythology, (think sandpit monster Sarlacc from Return of the Jedi, but instead of sand, Charybdis is a giant ass Lady Whirlpool that devours entire ships for breakfast), the skill is a spinning strike that, if executed as an actual Skill, pulls in enemies to melee range, then slices them to bloody pieces.
I don't actually have the real version of the Skill, since I'm not huge into two-handed swordfighting, but these mindless mobs constantly swarm as close as possible, so I don't need to pull anything in; just going through the skill's motions deals plenty of damage.
But no matter how badass my technique, the overwhelming numbers means I can't avoid a few errant blows finding their mark against me. Hard as I try, my beautiful blue HP bar slowly but surely depletes all the way into the Yellow Zone.
I might have had a chance of escaping unscathed if the Sluagh mobs weren't so bloodthirsty, but these beasts are so focused on destroying me, they don't act in their own best interests. Acting as one entity sharing a demented hivemind, they rush directly into my attacks, without a care for self-preservation, which actually makes it harder for me to slay them without taking damage myself.
I'm also constantly being bombarded by Willpower checks, and though my Fortitude is way high enough to counter these disgusting brutes, I think some of the system checks are slowing my response times.
Worse, my dumbass teammates apparently haven't worked on their willpower at all yet, even though the forums I surfed earlier confirmed that all the Foundation Villages had their own Quests of Daring to start off each Player's adventures.
They barely take out a dozen Sluagh before they're surrounded by their own mini-swarm, and with the Willpower Checks magnified by the creepy hivemind situation the Horde seems to be rocking, Lialas and Shadeslayer end up frozen by a Willpower Fail debuff.
Nightfury's Fortitude must be higher, since he avoids the freeze, but he can't save our party on his own.
Never bring a bow to a demon horde melee swarm, amiright?
My dumbass Taunt echoes in the death chamber.
Gods, 30 meters is a lot of damn meters. My super-charged Taunt easily pulls every one of the remaining 50 or so demons of the Sluagh Horde.
Now, to not die...
With a deep breath, I push my brain to its utmost limits, and the S-grade nutrient solution once again delivers.
I enter my version of the Zone, and my flow of Skill and non-skill sword forms becomes infinitely more fluid.
I slice and slash and spin and kick, and all around me glowing eyes flare in rage.
I giggle, ecstatic from a fight well-fought and the sadistic glee that comes from pissing off foes.
The monsters ahead of me bellow with ferocious roars that make even the stone walls tremble. The feral roars are a deep bass counter to the soprano death screeches of the stardust and black smoke I'm leaving behind in the wake of my massacre.
One especially savage mob claws up the back of his brethren to push off their heads and leap for me, gleaming talons extended to gouge out my eyes. I turn to face this flying threat, but another mob uses its long claws to lock blades with Zen and slow me down.
\"Fuuuuck!\" I yell.
\"RAAAWR!\" the flying menace yells.
*Thwack!* a sound effect states firmly.
An arrow pierces the Sluagh directly through the eye, and the snarling mob falls into the throng of monsters below.
Hot damn, Nightfury did something right.
Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit, I did not see that coming.
I push back against the mob locked with my sword, and as it stumbles, I stab it in the gut, then kick it off my sword and run toward my miraculously still-alive party, beckoning me from the crypt exit.
I hurl Whistling Starfall and release another Comet Burst, then race directly into the explosion's epicenter, where the path is clear!
But not sarcastically!
I eke out one more burst of speed and—
The faint black licorice smell is my only warning. The combat music's so loud, any hint of wooden chimes are lost, but my hyper-focused brain latches onto that smell, even amid the chaos raging around me.
Something fickle this way comes.