The Conquest’s Finale — Part 3
Editor(s): Speedphoenix, Joker
Quickly analyzing the demon lord yielded results as follows.
Class: Undying Overlord
The intel that the adventurers had provided us was accurate; he was a powerful caster. Looking at him personally allowed me to judge that his strength and vitality stats were actually on the low end, but his magic-based stats were almost shockingly high. That said, though he was stronger then Nell overall, my stats were still about twice as high. Not that that means I can let my guard down.
“D-d-d-d-d-deess-s-s-ss-tr–r-rr-yooooy alllalalalall huuuuu-hh-h-h-manannsns!”
“…Well, looks like someone’s totally off his rocker.”
He shrieked and wailed as he clawed at his skull with his near skinless fingers. His gaze, like his voice, was filled with malice, one fueled by a grudge he held against all of mankind. At first, I thought that his raw hatred was directed at us, but a second glance divulged that it was instead meant for someone far away, someone that lay beyond the sea.
It could be said that the malevolence he leaked, that the abhorrence he bled was befitting of one classified as a demon lord. He fit the image perfectly. But that, in its own right, led me to question him. I couldn’t help but wonder about all the things that had happened to him before he took on his current form—before he lost the ability to draw breath. You’d think the adventurers would’ve mentioned something about him being totally batshit insane… Seems kinda important, if you ask me.
“Do you still want to try talking to him…?” asked Nell, dubiously.
“I’m kinda starting to think that there might be a few minor issues with that plan, but probably, yeah.”
Talking to something as crazy as the undying overlord seemed flat out impossible, regardless of how good one was at communication. The biggest hurdle was that it wasn’t even really looking at us, in spite of the fact that we were here to destroy it. Oh well… might as well give it a shot. No point coming out the way out here and not even trying, right?
I cleared my throat, put on my most nonchalant, cocky grin, and called out to the thing that had once been a man. “Hey demon lord, looks like you’re enjoying yourself. How about letting us in on all the fu—woah!”
A ball of black fire came flying right at me without any prior warning whatsoever. The only reason I was able to evade it was because my magic eye had happened to warn me of an impending spell. What an asshole!
“C-c-c-c-c-uuuuur-rur-ur-u-russsseeeeeeeee y-y-y-yououou huu-u-umamamaamamannnnnn! Aalalalalal huuuummmamahamans mmymmmumuumsusst dieeieieeddieie!”
“Dude… that’s messed up.” My grumble quickly transformed into a shout. “And get your shit straight! I’m not even human, you moron!”
The initial attack that had come flying at me was only one of many. It was followed immediately by a full on barrage of inky flames, to which I responded with a wall of water, which, much to my displeasure, was the wrong choice.
His spell ate away at mine. Holes began to open up in my great wall the moment they were subjected to the fiery assault. And not because of evaporation, or even anything remotely to that effect. It was almost like the water was being consumed, discoloured, and forced to decay, all at once. Only a few of the incandescent bullets were destroyed by the liquid-based defense mechanism. The rest easily slipped right through the holes created by those they followed.
“Shit shit shit shit shit!” I darted left and right just quickly enough to avoid taking any direct hits. A single projectile had happened to graze my shirt. That was it, but evidently, that was enough. The shirt, like my defensive wall, began to change. It rapidly started to lose its colour, with the point of contact as both the origin, and the point of greatest severity. The decay came immediately after. It quickly began to consume itself from the darkest point out. “The fuck is this!?”
I knew that the phenomenon was one that I was better off without, so I shed my shirt and leapt to a place much further away, such that I could more easily evade his attacks.
“Are you okay!?” asked Nell. Unlike me, she had managed to evade his attacks perfectly.
Her question served as a prompt. I quickly looked myself over and confirmed that, shirt aside, I was totally unharmed. No other part of me had been infected by the scourge wrought by his spell.
“Yeah, I’m fine. Looks like it’s probably better not to get hit by any of those, huh?”
“Probably not!” she said, as she evaded another wave of attacks.
Yeahhhhhh… I don’t even really want to imagine what would happen if one of those things happened to hit a body, given what they do to everything else.
After taking a moment to contemplate the spell’s nature, I realized that, despite all appearances, it probably wasn’t fire magic. Dark magic was a much more likely candidate, especially given that it was the only skill in his list capable of direct offense. Derp.
“What do you know about dark magic?” I asked.
The barrage was still ongoing, but I managed to set up the defensive bulwark I needed to formulate my thoughts by throwing up dozens of water walls simultaneously as opposed to just the usual one. That wasn’t to say I was just standing there. I was also taking the opportunity to run around smashing all the skeletons while Nell took care of the wraiths. It was a division of tasks that we’d taken up naturally. The lack of words exchanged in the process was something that had quite honestly put me at ease and filled me with confidence and satisfaction.
“Dark magic is often used by liches and other similar creatures,” she said. “It eats away at your body if it hits you, and it can also afflict all sorts of other nasty effects, like dementia and blindness.”
Oh god… status ailments? Ugh… Not fun. Not fun at all. Generally speaking, I was more or less immune to debuffs. If any weaker individual attempted to hit me with one, It would simply do nothing given the density of the magical energy within me. But the same couldn’t be said for spells that originated from something as strong as a level one hundred demon lord. Ughhhhhhh… this whole corrosive bullshit is such a pain in the ass. How the hell am I supposed to defend against it if it eats through every god damn spell I’ve got!? Hah… welp… No more messing around and having fun for me, I guess. Yeah, fuck this. Screw thinking around this dark magic bullshit. I’mma just plow right through it.
“Oh yeah Nell, that reminds me. I never did end up showing you my newest spells, have I?” I smirked. “This is pretty much the perfect chance for you to take a quick peek.” I channeled a whole third of my mana into a single, over the top command, one with enough firepower to blow the draugr right off his feet. “Leviathan!”
The draconic amalgamation, made of a vast number of spirits, heeded my call and manifested itself within the throne room. Like the earth dragon I had employed within the graveyard, the leviathan was a towering behemoth. It stood at such a height that it nearly ended up scraping the ceiling, with only a few centimeters to spare, and that was with its neck bent down towards the undead that was its target.
And after the briefest of delays, it roared at him. The bestial cry that rang through the arena was filled with such power that it got even the less-than-sane demon lord’s attention. He channeled all of his dark energies towards it the moment the few bits and pieces of sanity that remained within him recognized the threat that the spirit presented.
“Got it! Isolate! Barrier of Separation!”
She understood, even without the need for me to say anything in particular, and guarded the leviathan with a shield of light. Not even her magic was enough to fully defend against his black magicks. Unlike the watery walls I’d been using as a defense, the light put up a fair fight. It managed to hold the darkness at bay for a good ten odd seconds before it finally began the process of giving in to the sinister flames. Parts of its shield had holes punched through them, while others simply faded away, as if they’d simply never been.
But that was good enough.
The leviathan had, in the time she bought, gathered all of its magical energy within its mouth—
“Attack! Full power!”
—and unleashed it.
There was a deafening blast.
Nothing could be seen as the blinding light emitted by the draconic sprite’s breath attack filled the room and completely evaporated every skeleton and wraith it touched. Even we failed to escape it. The aftershock we were blasted with was so potent that it made me feel as if I’d been caught in some sort of world ending storm.
A cry of confusion came from beside me, which led me to smirk as I turned to face its source.
“Well, what do you think? Isn’t spirit magic just totally badass?”
“It is, but this was not the time for it! Launching an attack like that in a room this small is insane!” she shouted, frantically. “Barrier of Separation!”
You can really tell how much she loves me based on how she made sure it was just wide enough to keep us both covered.
As the spell waned, so did the leviathan itself. Expending all of the mana I provided it caused its form to collapse and slowly fade away. As the spirits departed, our sight lines finally began to clear. I was, at last, witness to the result of my over the top attack.
“Looks like he’s still alive,” I mumbled. “Should’ve expected nothing less.”
Though the only remaining half of the draugr’s body was banged up and scorched, it was still alive, albeit barely. The gentlest breeze was enough to knock the undead over and finish it off for good. Even discounting its non-present lower body, it was missing too many parts to function.
Still, its eyes burned with a fiery, hate-fueled passion. And not at me. But at something—someone—else. The resentment that gave birth to this incredibly powerful undead creature was still every bit as present as it ever had been.
“I get it.” I said, quietly. “I really do, dude. But you’re already dead. It’s already over.”
You’re already dead, and what’s done is already done. Nothing you do will ever undo anything that’s already been done. So just… stop. Stop thinking about all the stuff that drove you insane. Stop trying so hard to fix everything that can no longer be fixed. You don’t need to anymore. Because, so long as it’s within reason, I’ll take up your mantle and do it for you. All you need to do is kick up your feet, close your eyes, and rest in peace. You deserve it. Just as much as anyone else.
As the thought passed through my head, I swung my mace. And closed the curtains on the demon lord’s tale.
“I feel… awful,” said Nell, as she looked upon the draugr’s crumpled remains. “That was really unsettling. I wonder why he turned out like that…”
“Dunno, but I’m guessing he’s probably the reason this dungeon’s monsters seem so spiteful and aggressive.”
I’d spent a good bit of time attempting to figure out the difference between the wraiths that lived in this dungeon and the three that inhabited mine. And in the end, my conclusion was not that the wraiths themselves were necessarily different, but rather than their masters were, that this dungeon’s wraiths felt nothing but malice towards human beings while mine shared my more neutral outlook. As far as I was concerned, the explanation made perfect sense, as demon lords were capable of two way, non-verbal communication with those considered their kin.
“That makes a surprising amount of sense,” said Nell. “It explains why Rei, Rui, and Lowe all love pranks, as well as why Shii’s so laid back and unconcerned with everything that goes on around her.”
“…Yeah, not really sure how to feel about it when you put it like that.”
“Don’t even try to deny it,” she said. “You know just as well as I do that you love messing with people and going out of your way not to read the room.”
Ahahaha… yeah, can’t deny that. Upon realizing that I was not going to be winning the argument, I quickly cleared my throat and diverted the topic to something that put less of a spotlight on the particulars of my character. “A-anyway, let’s go grab the dungeon core so we can tick another box off the list.”
I began looking around without waiting for her to reply, and even began speaking aloud just to make sure she wouldn’t try to subject me to any more criticism. “Let’s see… dungeon core… dungeon core…”
It took venturing through a door and into what had once been the captain’s chambers for me to find what I was looking for. The whole place was as all hell. It looked like it’d been flipped on its head at least once. But the dungeon core, amongst a few other items, remained in plain sight atop the desk.
Unlike mine, which featured an iridescent, rainbow glow, this one was a deep, bloody red. We were looking for it at Carlotta’s request. She wanted us to retrieve it both because it was valuable and because it was capable of serving as proof of our success. But as I reached for it, it vanished. Almost as if it’d been sucked straight into my fingertips.
“Uhm… Yuki?” Nell addressed me in a questioning tone after a few moments of silence.
She wasn’t the only one caught off guard. I blinked a few times, glanced between my hand and the dungeon core’s previous location, and even moved my hand around a bit just to make sure there really was nothing there before finally reacting to her.
“Uhh… I didn’t expect that to happen either. Hell, I’m not even sure I understand what actually happened. It kinda just poofed the moment I touched it.”
I even went as far as popping open my inventory, just to make sure that I hadn’t accidentally stored it subconsciously. Lo and behold, it wasn’t there either. Wait…
The next thing I checked was my main menu, which just so happened to feature a blinking dungeon management tab. Yup… There it is…
It was available for configuration, and could be modified in all the usual ways; I could extend its domain, add floors, and modify it in whichever other way I happened to please.
“Wait so… does this mean that… this dungeon is mine now…?”
“Huh?” You took control of the dungeon?” asked an equally puzzled Nell.
“Apparently…” I mumbled, before closing all my menus and looking towards her. “So it kinda doesn’t look like we’re going to be able to retrieve the core anymore. What do?”
“I don’t think there is anything to do… It is what it is.”
Yeaaahh… that’s pretty much what I was thinking too.