76. On the Edge
The Legendary Skeleton had become overwhelmingly powerful after releasing its latent potential.
It delivered strike after strike, each with all the power and technique of a master swordsman. Its movements were so fast that it was near impossible to keep track of. Even the spells it automatically fired off from time to time had been powered up. Not even my max leveled magic barriers could stop them anymore.
Urushi had already long been defeated, and Jean’s magic simply didn’t work on it. It was just far too powerful.
Fran’s being pressured to the point where she can no longer do anything but defend. Her HP continued to drop as the skeleton attacked with a storm-like assault. It’s goal was obviously to end her before it exhausted all its strength.
Fran managed to dodge each fatal strike by the only the slightest bit. The situation didn’t look good for her, but, she didn’t give up. Her eyes almost seemed to glimmer as she searched for an opportunity to take back the momentum.
『You should probably use Skill Taker.』
To be honest, I wanted to save it a bit more so we could use it on whatever bosses lay in wait for us after this one, but, it didn’t seem like we really had any other choice. Using it now isn’t all that detrimental though, seeing as how Fran and I can both use the skill once each. Besides, we’ve got a trump card up ours sleeves anyways.
That said, I didn’t even really know whether or not skill taker would work. I even had to muddle over which skill to steal. Latent Potential Release might not deactivate even if we steal it, but stealing a different skill would allow him to keep his current stats regardless, so I didn’t have much of a choice but to at least give it a shot.
『Use it now!』
Fran activates Skill Taker and targets the skeleton’s Latent Potential Release. Hopefully this’ll drop its stats back down to what they normally are….
〈Skill Taker’s current target cannot be stolen. Process Failed.〉
Wait, what the hell!?
Skill Taker’s effect is as follows: Skill Taker: Lv Max. Steals rarity level 10 and below skills with a success rate of 100%. Can be used once per target. Cooldown: 18 days. Range: Skill level * 1 meter.
We’re still in the midst of a melee, so there’s no way the skeleton’s out of range. Latent Potential Release doesn’t have a level either, so that shouldn’t be the issue, which means that the skill’s rarity has to be at least 11. Shit, seriously!? Or wait, is it because it’s classified as an extra skill? Is it possible that we can’t steal those?
「Ku… The skill…?」
Fran tries to use the skill again.
But she wasn’t able to. It seemed that failing to take a skill also consumed one of the skill’s usages. Fran won’t be able to use skill taker for another 18 days!
I could always try using mine…but it’d probably be better to change up our strategy a little. It was time for me to pull out my trump card!
『Fran, I’m going to do that』
I start putting points into the Divine Sword Art skill and raised it all the way to Lv 5 in one go. It was a trick was one that Fran and I thought up whilst journeying through the dungeon. Its purpose was to catch the enemy off guard, and to that end, we purposefully left it at Lv 5 instead of pointing it all the way. That way, we’d be able to use the exact same trick in the future as well.
Fran’s movements undergo a visible change as her knowledge of blade deepens. Every step she takes, every motion she executes becomes much more precise. Just a moment prior, the two were swordsmen on par with each other. But, Fran had easily surpassed the skeleton in a matter of moments.
Based on what we’ve experienced, a three skill level difference would lead to an gap in strength too wide to be crossed. The reason we chose to boost the skill’s level by four was to make up for the difference in stats. That said, the skeleton still had the advantage. It felt no fatigue, and its body was effectively immortal.
However, the sudden change in Fran’s abilities threw it off and momentarily dulled its movements.
And thus, we were given one last chance.
Fran activated Impact Slash, a Lv 1 divine sword technique. Though the skill was followed by a bit of a delay, it was still an impressive one, as it resulted in a full forced right to left horizontal cut packed with nothing but pure power. The two of us worked together to combine her Magical Convergence and my Sorcery so that we could cloak the strike with a Wind Blade Overboost. The attack was truly one with every last fibre of our beings behind it; it was several times more powerful than anything else we’d ever done in the past.
But even so, the skeleton still managed to deflect it. What monstrous strength!
Its arms were fast. At this rate, it’d be able to get a hit in before us. We’d be in trouble.
Or at least that’s how things would’ve been.
『We weren’t thinking of finishing you off with just that one hit either!』
『Sorry about this, Fran.』
Impact Slash would normally end with an opening because the user would have to twist their hips a full ninety degrees whilst delivering the swing.
But I forced the skill to end a bit earlier than usual by stockpiling and then suddenly releasing a bunch of telekinetic force. This allowed us to cancel the technique’s post-cast delay, at the cost of sending all the force and shock right back up Fran’s arms.
And the result?
A series of loud cracks resounded throughout the boss room.
Fran’s arms broke, and her muscle fibres were torn to shreds. The noises that accompanied the event made me feel discomfort, and the thought it was my own fault even more so.
But even despite Fran’s current condition, we still needed to deliver the finishing blow.
Though her arms were screaming in agony, Fran managed to activate Snake Slash, a Lv 1 sword art. Though I could hear her arms breaking as she thrusted the blade, I boosted the attack’s speed with telekinesis. We couldn’t afford to hold anything back, even the slightest bit.
Impact slash had thrown the skeleton off completely, it had yet to right its stance.
The hell!? Even though we’d managed to completely mess up the skeleton’s posture, it was still able to react in time by tilting its head backwards. Shit! I’m not going to make it!
Damn it, what do I do? Is there any way for me to…. Wait! Yes! I know exactly what to do!
『Here we gooooo! Shapeshift!!』
I thin my blade in order to elongate it by approximately 20cm. My form becomes less like that of a longsword and warps into something akin to a long estoc. The process cost me a whole 200 mana, but it was well worth it. I’m really grateful I managed to get my hands on this skill!
The skeleton’s completely run out of options. I flew straight through it’s skull and split it’s magic stone in two.
The legendary skeleton finally stops moving.
And then, it laughed. It laughed an ominous, unsettling cackle as its body collapsed underneath itself. The crimson skeleton crumbled as it was reduced to not but a pile of bones. It was as if all its prior actions had been nothing more than an illusion.
But even then, it still gave off a ghostly impression, as if it could rise up again at any given moment. As expected of a B level threat.
『Alright, I’ll fix you right now, Fran. Greater Heal!』
「Are you all alright?」
It was a tough battle, but, winning it paid off. the skeleton’s magic stone was worth over three hundred magic stone points, and I managed to get ahold of it’s appraisal jamming, spirit control, and magic resist, amongst many other useful skills.
We should be able to save Latent Potential Release for whenever we need a trump card.
The skill’s effect is supposed to change based on the user, so I’m kind of curious how much it’ll have an effect on Fran and I. I wish we could test it right now, but it costs HP, has a few other requirements and even has a 24 hour cooldown, so I’ll have to just hang on to it for now.
『Are you sure? Does it hurt anywhere?』
Urushi licks Fran’s arms. He also seems to be concerned about her as well.
Jean went to go retrieve the skeleton’s bones.
『Can you use those for anything?』
「These bones hold great value for use as a catalyst in the practice of necromancy. They alone more than make up for every last bit of this expedition’s cost. Hahahaha! I thank you greatly.」
『I guess that means you can use potions and the like as freely as you want now.』
「Whatever did you plan to do with the skeleton’s equipment?」
『I don’t know. Didn’t think about it yet.』
「I’ve no need for its sword or cloak, so I shall pass these two items to you. That said, I would very much like to keep ahold of the armour, orihalcum is a material that mages like myself find to be quite useful after all.」
『Sounds good to me. You sure though?』
Jean was the one who made the request for us to come along in the first place. I wouldn’t have minded even if he decided to take all the loot for himself. I was quite grateful that he was willing to split it with us though.