48 Grumpy Gus, Boxers Bro, and the Big Bad Boss Battle
[ AILLÉN TRECHEND, SOUL BURNER ]
[Level 18 - HP 100,000/100,000]
Without taking his eyes from the Boss, Lialas tugs on my sleeve. "Um."
"Yes?" I ask lightly, as if I have no idea what he might want to discuss.
"Would you call that, a, um..."
"A dragon," I supply helpfully. "Yes, I would indeed."
"But it's got three heads? Doesn't that make it a hydra?" Shadeslayer asks, with the demeanor of a man so beyond terror, he's settled into a scientific fascination with the object of his inevitable demise.
"Ah, but you see the membrane wings?" I point out the maroon and black wings attached to its arms. "And how the middle head keeps spewing flames? Distinct dragon characteristics there."
"Mm, right." Shadeslayer nods, tapping his chin thoughtfully.
Lialas tugs on my sleeve again. "Is that giant three-headed dragon holding a...harp?"
"It would seem so, yes."
Lialas gulps. "How big would you say that, uh, dragon bard is?"
"Easily three giraffes tall," I say.
"Five or six giraffes wide," Shadeslayer adds.
"Huh," Lialas says, chewing on his lip.
There's a pause, as if we're all waiting for something.
Then Lialas swears. "Fucknuts, I forgot. Kane died. Was hoping for that in meters."
I bust out laughing.
I don't know if it's the reminder of Kane's bizarre knowledge or my surprise at Lialas' swearing, but once I start, I can't stop for several seconds. The others tear their eyes away from the monster taking up half the chamber to look at me like I'm crazy. But then Lialas joins in with a mad chuckle of his own, and then Shadeslayer can't stop himself either, though it's even money whether he's laughing or crying.
"Everyone, we are royally screwed," I finally say, once we've all had our respective breakdowns.
"Hear hear." Lialas fistpumps.
As I'm about to prepare everyone for going out in a literal blaze of glory, Nightfury chimes in:
"So what, you're going to give up NOW?" he accuses, crossing his arms.
"You're not?" I stare at him, disbelieving.
"It's not about me. I'm not Mr. So Batshit Crazy I Bend the Universe to My Insane Will and Do Whatever the Fuck I Want."
I roll my eyes. "And what, I am?"
Three heads nod simultaneously. Shadeslayer nods so fervently I worry he's going to hurt himself.
I swear even the damn dragon nods.
"After all the crazy shite you've pulled on this thrice-cursed run, why wouldn't we expect you to pull one more logic-defying stunt out of your arse?"
I pointedly look back and forth between Nightfury and the Boss. "You know we can't kill that thing."
"Why not?" Shadeslayer asks.
I frown. "It's an Epic Beast. See how its name isn't written in red, but instead it's that Celestial-tier rainbow-y glow? That means it's a monster so powerful it can shake the foundations of an entire Realm."
"Eek," Shadeslayer replies eloquently.
I gaze up at the ferocious monster. "Back in the beta, this guy was the Final Boss we had to beat to open up passage to Realm 2. It took 300 of us, fighting in teams of 100, to finally take him out."
Lialas slumps. "Then we have no chance, right?"
Nightfury harrumphs. "Except there is one major difference between that Realm battle and this. The Aillén Trechend we fought last time was Level 40. This one's only Level 18."
"As if that matt—huh," I cut myself off, frown deepening in thought.
As much as the devs hate me right now, Zhao Jianyu's AI wouldn't create a truly unbeatable challenge just to be a dick. If we came across an unbeatable mob randomly in the field, sure, that's our bad luck. But we're inside a beginner dungeon. We might die 99 times out of a 100 against this guy, but there should be at least a tiny chance of success, or it wouldn't be fair.
"Grumpy Gus has a point," I say finally.
Nightfury's eyebrow twitches in annoyance, but then he smirks. "Poor Boxers Bro. Did admitting I was right get your pink panties in a twist?"
Unprepared for that low blow, I gasp.
Then I pull down my trousers and moon the bastard. "You tell me. They twisted?"
"Fuck's sake, it says 'HERO' on your arse." Nightfury looks pained.
"It does indeed!" I say loudly as I whip my pants back up. "And now, this Hero is going to slay a goddamn dragon bard!"
"Huzzah!" Lialas cheers.
"Shitshitshitshitshit," Shadeslayer mumbles.
"I hate you so much it physically pains me," Nightfury groans.
"MOTHAFUCKING LEEROY JENKINS!" I yell.
The fight is a shitshow.
It largely consists of me doing all of the damage while the others scream a lot.
(So, business as usual.)
Normally, I'd keep the Boss busy and have the others stay in a safe blind spot and attack freely.
Guess what? Not a lot of blind spots when the Boss has three fucking heads.
For ease of communication (by which I mean me screaming things like "Get the fuck back, dumbass! Flames incoming!"), I name each head so they're easy to reference no matter which way they're facing.
Left head = Mr. Bitey.
This head is all about physical attacks, all lunging neck and chomping fangs. It has the most limited range, but its attacks happen most frequently, so it's a melee nightmare.
Middle head = Mr. Burny.
Reptilian flame thrower, more or less. Luckily, the dragon's chest glows like a furnace when it's revving up to spew the next raging inferno, so as long as we're paying attention, it's not an attack we can't avoid.
After each flame breath, though, patches of floor remain ablaze, turning the dungeon chamber into a damn obstacle course and constantly shrinking our battlefield.
I pass out +50 Heat Resistance Flame Gum to everyone, which does jack all for protecting against the flames, but it keeps everyone from overheating as the room gets progressively warmer.
Right head = Mr. Bardy
The most dangerous of the triple threat. Thankfully, his attacks are the least frequent, since they're the only ones we absolutely have to interrupt every single time, or face a party wipe.
You heard me. It's not the dragon fangs or the dragon breath that's mostly likely to kill us all.
It's the dragon's bard skills.
Mr. Bardy is the brains behind the harp playing, and the harp is this enchanted weapon that, according to myth, could put all of Tara to sleep every Samhain, giving Aillén full rein to wreck shit.
Needless to say, being put to sleep would make us unable to dodge teeth and flames, so that's the attack I'm most concerned with.
Unsurprisingly, though Lialas and Shadeslayer understand that concern on principle, the reality is razor sharp teeth and stone-melting flames tend to jump up the priority concern list when you're on the receiving end.
That leaves Nightfury and me the only ones with enough presence of mind to interrupt the harp attacks. Iron arrows/bolts to the eye are a solid interrupt, but insanely difficult to pull off. We end up having Lialas use his Ice Runes to Freeze Mr. Bardy so we can shoot freely.
There's 100 seconds between harp attacks, so we spend the other time focusing on the other heads.
I work alone, mostly dealing damage to Mr. Bitey and keeping him away from the others. While I'm dodging around looking for openings, I need my peak AGI, so I keep my The Natural title. When I'm attacking however, I quick-swap out for Indomitable David, for the +15% Attack and Defense against enemies more than 5 Levels higher than me.
The other three work together to keep Mr. Burny busy. Lialas and Nightfury interrupt flame attacks with Runes flung into his mouth and well-timed headshots, while Shadeslayer takes advantage of the distraction when the attacks are aborted to land a few hits.
It kinda works. I land a seven-hit combo for +8000 Damage; Shadeslayer lands a two-hit strike for +180 Damage. I lunge at the Boss for +650 Damage; Shadeslayer hacks at the scaly hide for +15 Damage.
The cute part is when Shadeslayer worriedly asks me if I'll be okay holding aggro, or if his attacks are going to cause an OT*.
Before I can reply, I land a faux-combo that sends the Boss down to 80% HP, and the music changes.
Nightfury and I lock eyes for a second, and together, we sigh.
You know when you're fighting a Boss and shit's going sideways fast, and you know it's going to take all your concentration and a week's worth of luck to possibly get out alive...
...And then a swarm of fucking Adds show up?
It's like, Really, devs? Necessary?
I think not.
So there we are, four puny demihumans fighting a colossal three-headed dragon...and a flock of flaming crows shows up to the party.
*Author Reminder: I added two auxiliary chapters to the beginning of this work, one with specific in-game reminders (like the breakdown of each demihuman race and the Celestial Tier system, etc), and the other with general video game terminology (like OT) that you may be unfamiliar with. Feel free to check them out if you're ever confused.