The Terror Wrought by an Illusion
Editor(s): Sebas Tian, Speedphoenix
“Baruooo!” The demon screeched as it attacked us right before we could prepare ourselves for another one of the Adamantite Beetle’s attacks.
“Hush,” said Fran.
The oversized bug once again came crashing into us the moment the demon drew our attention. But this time, we weren’t caught unawares. I used a combination of telekinesis and a barrier to prevent Fran from taking a direct hit, but we were subjected to a powerful shockwave nonetheless. I reflected on the attack and its workings as I healed Fran’s left arm, which had once again been shattered.
We were unable to detect it right up until to the very moment it was about to hit us. I highly doubted that we would be able to avoid its attacks unless we were able to focus on them.
“Sorry Fran, but I’m going to be cancelling the Haste spell for a bit.”
“You’re probably going to have to manage on your own for a little bit.”
“Nn. No problem. Brilliant Lightning Rush!”
I had been using haste, a space/time spell in order to accelerate our thoughts such that we would be able to better deal with the monsters, as they happened to have high agility stats. While that sounded all fine and dandy, the spell did have its demerits. Slowing down our perception of time distorted the sounds around us. Our sense of hearing wasn’t the only sense it distorted either. It messed with most other senses and even dulled the effects of Presence Detection.
It did nothing but get in the way in cases like the current one, in which we needed our detection skills to be fully functional. I had wanted us to keep holding Brilliant Lightning Rush for the time being. The skill was more suited to shorter battles than it was to longer, more drawn out ones, but we didn’t have much of a choice. We wouldn’t have been able to defeat the two monsters before us without Haste if we didn’t bolster our agility.
The demon once again began attacking us despite the change in Fran’s aura. The catkin raised me in an attempt to block the monster’s blade, but it didn’t work. The toxic sword slipped right through me and landed a blow right on Fran’s body.
It proved itself worthy of its rank by momentarily empowering the blade with additional magical energy such that it could pierce through the barrier.
The wound she received from the attack was honestly not that big of a deal. The larger problem was that she had been subjected to its poison. It was clearly causing her a large amount of pain, as her movements immediately dulled in response. The beetle came in for round three, but Fran had already seen it perform that same attack twice. She wasn’t about to let herself just take a third hit without any sort of retaliation.
It came from behind and aimed its horn straight for her heart, but she reacted. She spun her body just enough to avoid a fatal blow. The bug still got her right shoulder and tore the whole arm off, but she bore with the pain and jammed her left hand into the creature’s right eye.
A loud crack resounded as she jammed everything up to her elbow into the beetle’s eyesocket and retaliated with a spell.
“God damn, that thing’s resilient!”
The direct attack on its brain caused the insect to screech and writhe. But, although it suffered several heavy burns, the Adamantite Beetle lived on. It was still moving.
The creature’s violent thrashing caused Fran’s arm, which was still in its body, to be torn straight out of its socket. The hard pieces of its shell had acted like scissors and snipped her limb in two.
“Greater Heal! Antidote! Greater Heal!”
I cast several healing magics on Fran, who’d lost both her arms, while keeping her standing with telekinesis. She facilitated the process by using instantaneous regeneration, so she managed to restore her body to its usual state. But unfortunately, doing so had taken quite the toll on her. Much of her mana had been drained, and her physical stamina with it.
I continued to reflect on everything that had just happened as I healed Fran up. There was something wrong. Neither the Adamantite Beetle’s charge nor the demon’s blade seemed quite… right. There was something unusual going on.
The demon was a caster whose sword arts skill was only level six. It didn’t make sense for Fran to be unable to defend against its attacks, even if she did have to deal with another enemy at the same time. Given that, I decided to appraise the demon a second time.
“Wait! It all makes sense now! That damned thing’s got Illusion Magic!”
The level four skill was likely much more effective than I had been giving it credit for. I suspected that there was a good chance it was messing with more than just our sense of sight.
This was our first time fighting against a foe capable of distorting our senses, so I ended up underestimating just how terrifying the magic could be. That said, I should probably affirm that my hypothesis is correct before jumping to conclusions.
I popped all my detection skills and observed the demon’s movements as it moved for another strike and confirmed that my suspicions were on point. The demon had hidden its real arms and produced another set with illusion magic.
The most terrifying aspect was that the demon’s real arms were impossible to detect through standard means. I couldn’t even feel their presence. And to make matters worse, the fake arms could produce sound. I could hear them carving through the air as the demon moved to attack. It had Fran totally fooled. I, however, was not. I immediately used telekinesis to redirect myself and block the demon’s strike.
“Master?” Fran asked, curious as to why I had suddenly started jerking about.
“I’ll focus on defense, you focus on offense!”
We executed the plan. Fran launched an onslaught of attacks while I warded off whatever the demon threw at her.
As demonstrated back in Schwartzekatze, I was no match for either Fran or Urushi in terms of intuition. My instincts weren’t nearly as sharp as theirs were. But I could make up for it with my ability to see through illusions like the one we were faced with just now. Things that distorted the five senses weren’t nearly as effective on me as they were on my companions, as my senses had been of an inorganic construction from the start. I didn’t have eyes to see with, I barely had a sense of touch, and not even I really knew exactly why it was even possible for me to hear. And those were all the senses I had. I had no sense of taste. I had no sense of smell. I could only see, feel, and hear.
“Giiiiiiiiiii” The demon screeched as it went for another blow.
“Nice try, but I can see right through you!”
The demon’s spells were extremely effective at not only creating illusions, but also concealment. And that was precisely the trick behind the beetle that was coming out of nowhere.
Knowing the trick was half the battle. Understanding it allowed me to develop a mechanism by which I could cope. The beetle’s body was shrouded by an illusion. But that didn’t mean it wasn’t there. The air around it would still shift as it dashed. I could detect it, even if Fran remained none the wiser.
I launched a spell in the beetle’s direction the moment it started to move. It had magic resistance, so I didn’t bother with anything offensive.
I instead cast a spell meant to alter the paths of enemy projectiles.
The Adamantite Beetle was massive. But, by imbuing the spell with as much mana as possible and then combining it with telekinesis, I was able to redirect it just enough to alter its destination.
Of course, I didn’t expect the beetle’s attack to instantly end the demon. My goal wasn’t to have that happen. All I wanted was an opening, which is exactly what we got.
And Fran, being Fran, wasn’t the type to overlook an opening.
The demon leapt backwards in panic in order to avoid the beetle’s rush. Fran chased it down and delivered a heavy blow with her blade, splitting its body in two.
“It’s over!” shouted Fran. She then twisted me around and used me to destroy the demon’s core in an instant. The battle had devolved into a simple sword fight, one in which she held an overwhelming advantage.
The beetle immediately judged that the situation had turned dire, so it charged us down with more speed than it had demonstrated to date. It seemed to have activated some sort of trump card and intended to skewer us alongside the demon’s remains. I had to compliment the beetle. Its judgement call wasn’t too bad despite it being a literal insect.
But the loss of its support meant that it was no longer a threat. I destroyed the incoming bug by teleporting above it and impaling it with a telekinetic catapult.