The Heart is a Void: Ashes to Ashes

by

MOROSE

Chapter 62: A Damned Kind (Queen Boss Fight, Part II)

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Crucis saw with frustration that the Queen was back to 67% HP, after draining HP from Grisier. However, her tussle with Grisier had allowed him to quietly sneak up behind her.

He cracked her collarbone with a firm [Slash] from behind, then followed it up with a fast [Lunge] stabbing roughly through a chink in the back of her skull. This was enough to lower her back to 60% HP, but, without looking backwards, she reached around as Crucis was withdrawing his sword and grabbed him by the chest. He was surprised, as she hadn't seemed to notice his approach, and her movement lacked the typical sluggishness of the undead.

She cast a spell named [Blood Spiral], and Crucis felt his blood heating up around the chest, until it began to spill out in a scattering of rough, thin circles overlapping across his chest. Shaking in pain, he roughly used [Slash] to beat against her neck, and kicked off her midriff as he flew out of her grip. DicingDevil and Akshel ran up to her, and Crucis gingerly rose to his feet.

Akshel struck the boss with a strong [Mordhau], and the hilt of his sword made firm contact with the Queen's head, which jerked back violently. DicingDevil grabbed the Queen in a [Chokehold], and dragged her down using the momentum from Akshel's blow. Once she was grounded, the two Assassins started chipping away at her throat again, trying to do as much damage as possible before being repelled.

As the Queen slowly recovered, she grabbed at Akshel's chest. He shook himself free, but as she had reached below 50% HP she used a special skill, [Halfway Point]. As she pointed at Akshel, his HP was reduced by 50%, lowering it to 30%. Alarmed, he began to retreat, but found that the Queen, gaining new energy, had ran up to him and grabbed him by the chest again. She tossed him easily towards the pews, where he collapsed on 10% HP. Laughing as DicingDevil struck her shoulder with a [Slash] from behind, she held out her arm elegantly and cast [Knighthood], killing Akshel.

As she turned around to face DicingDevil, she was frozen momentarily by a [Breath of Ice], as Grisier had clammily made his way back after clambering onto the walkway from the water. His mana replenished, he cast another [Ice Heart] in her direction, then cast [Healing] on Crucis and DicingDevil, who were striking the immobilised boss.

Crucis used [Thrash] to tear at the cracks in the boss' neck bones, and saw DicingDevil teeing up for a [Mordhau]. Crucis stepped out of the way as the harsh, blunt hilt blow sent the Queen barreling to the ground. Crouching down lightly, Crucis began to carve and deepen the cracks in the Queen's neck bones with [Slice], and then another, more blunt [Thrash]. DicingDevil stabbed heavily at the Queen's face, and soon she was down to 26% HP.

As Crucis saw her preparing to cast [Intruders], he quickly withdrew the violet gem from the piano, and palmed it as he awaited the spell. As the Queen's spell predictably activated, and threw him backwards, his violet gem also activated, and threw the Queen backwards towards the pews. Crucis had been expecting the repulsion effect of the spell, so he twisted mid-fall and comfortably rolled to his feet.

The Queen arose, angrily. She cast [Unearthly Charm], and the glow of her violet gem re-appeared, though even more dull this time. However, as Crucis was also holding out his own gem, even the Queen froze in place.

Crucis laughed. "Old story, a high-strung woman gets charmed as soon as you hold out a gem in her direction."

"Have you been maxing a hidden Charisma stat this whole time?" DicingDevil said with a grin.

"My Charisma stat has been maxed out since the Garden of Eden, monsieur."

As the Charm effect faded, Grisier immediately cast another [Ice Heart]. The delay had given him enough time to finish the cooldown on his spells. As the freezing sphere exploded next to the Queen, Crucis and DicingDevil surged forwards to strike at her. DicingDevil bluntly beat against her neck bones, while Crucis used [Slice] to help carve away the remains of her neck.

However, the Queen still reached out powerfully, and threw DicingDevil aside. She cast another [Blood Spiral] on Crucis, and he felt as if blood was clawing its way out of his chest. However, since he was holding out the gem, the remains of the Queen's skin began fading away across her lower chest, giving way to rivers of blood. She was reduced to 10% HP by this, but Crucis only had 30% of his own remaining.

She charged towards Crucis and threw him against a wall, shrugging off a [Breath of Ice] from Grisier. The Queen seemed to be getting stronger at lower HP, and Crucis only had 20% HP remaining - or 10% left, given that the Queen seemed to insta-kill any players once they reached 10% HP. Grisier attempted to use [Icicle Projectile] on the Queen, turning some water into ice in order to fling it at the Queen, but the Queen easily dodged away.

As the Queen attempted to charge at Crucis again, Crucis used [Stealth Cloak] to hide and used [Dodge Step] to duck out of the way. The Queen managed to stop her charge before crashing into the wall, but as she turned around and attempted to regain balance, she was stopped in her tracks as Crucis' extended sword materialised in front of her.

Grinning, Crucis began a [Lunge] towards her throat, but dipped his blade slightly so that it veered towards the violet gem on her necklace. As the gem violently deflected his blade away from itself, it fiercely leapt back up towards the Queen's throat, where it struck hard and carried on up through her skull. Due to the damage done to her neck, her skull detached from the rest of her body easily and flew upwards impaled on Crucis' sword. She was dead.

[Optional Boss - Undead Queen slain. Congratulations!]

Crucis grabbed the skull, and saw DicingDevil walking back from the pews.

"Alas, poor whatsername. I was wondering where she had been," Crucis said.

"Probably many places," DicingDevil replied.

"Should we put this skull on a pike as some sort of warning, or just hold on to it and flourish it when we feel like contemplating mortality? Or just get rid of it?"

"Up to you. By the way, how did you get the gems to work?"

"I didn't, she did. The gems seem to use some form of magic that - basically - doesn't exist. None of us can use it, it doesn't seem to require MP, it isn't a recognisable form of mana. So we can't do anything with this gem, but since it's a repository for whatever kind of power she's using, if she triggers a spell then this gem will also use it."

"So the King was bizarrely resilient this time, for no good reason, and the Queen also uses some strange magic that we can't interact with except when she uses it?" Grisier said gravely.

"Basically," Crucis responded in a similar tone.

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MOROSE

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