The area of the Palace of the Crystal Maiden that was officially known as the Torture Chamber had a rather misleading name. The zone was actually a stupidly tall tower with 10 floors, as opposed to a single room. Although it would be difficult for anyone to tell that at this point, as the structure had been reduced to a pile of rubble. The tower was designed to collapse in a dramatic fashion once the area guardian was defeated, so this amount of property damage didn’t bother the dungeon master too much.
However, the fact that everything was on fire was another story altogether. Both the tower’s remains and the decrepit old houses that surrounded it had been set ablaze, which was very much outside the original spec. The area was supposed to represent a ghost town with creepy, rickety houses, tight alleyways, rattling chains, chilling drafts and lethal surprises. And right in the middle of that was an ominous tower from which the screams of the damned emanated at irregular intervals.
It was a place designed to put even the most experienced adventurers on edge, straining the limits of their nerve and testing the strength of their character. A more pragmatic being might deem these surroundings as nothing more than pointlessly dramatic decorations, but Goroth thought otherwise. As a patron deity of the arts, it was in his nature to do things with a certain degree of flair and fanfare. In his eyes, dungeons were nothing more than a form of theater. The stage had to be properly set and the actors needed to be sufficiently motivated, otherwise the audience would not enjoy the show.
A notion that was more or less lying in flames, as Xera’s magic had completely turned Goroth’s scene into a burning wasteland. Keeping the place in a truly decrepit and ruined state meant that the dungeon wasn’t tasked with maintaining their structural integrity. As such, the raging inferno was allowed to spread from one house to the next, causing them to collapse one after the other as it raged on.
As for the one responsible for this mess, she was currently reforming her body out of the smoke and dust that hung over the area. She was using her Mist Form Skill to avoid getting crushed by the rubble, while her Fire Affinity protected her from the collateral damage of her own flames. That was why when she materialized out of seemingly thin air, her body was completely spotless and unblemished. After which she was slammed into the soot-covered ground with a solid thud, since she was violating the dungeon’s no flying rule.
“Fuck,” she cursed while face-down in the ash. “I almost forgot that was a thing.”
She then flipped over onto her back and sat up with a somewhat displeased look on her face, which reflect her thoughts on her visit to this woefully inadequate Torture Chamber. The whole thing started off with that cocky dungeon master completely underestimating her. It was as if she didn’t even bother inspecting Xera’s Status with the dungeon core and simply assumed she was a succubus based on her skin tone and breast size.
Granted, she wasn’t completely wrong, but she wasn’t entirely right either.
She then proceeded to have the ‘succubus’ strapped to a stretching rack with mana-sealing shackles, and left her alone with an entire room full of sadistic orcs. These creatures were all gray skinned humanoids with tall muscular builds, massive underbites, yellow tusks and a mean streak that rivaled that of most fiends. This lot seemed like a subspecies accustomed to living in colder climates, as the orcs Xera knew of had green skin and were indigenous to the tropical rainforests of the southern kingdom. They were also completely hairless, whereas this bunch had thick black body hair that was almost like fur.
However, they were still very much orcs, as demonstrated by their unique pack mentality. Once a group of orcs collectively decided on doing something, all of them would follow suit without fail, even if it meant literally walking to their deaths. It was so pronounced that things like individual thought more or less didn’t exist as far as they were concerned. This meant that trying to incite or influence any single one of them was a lost cause, but on the other hand made them much more susceptible to ‘persuasion’ tactics aimed at groups.
And last but not least, each and every last one of this lot were male.
All things considered, Xera had little difficulty turning the situation into what was essentially a hundred-on-one gangbang within a few minutes. The mindless brutes kept having their way with her without pause, despite the fact that she literally sucked the life out of them in the process. A normal succubus would not have survived the barbaric acts, but Xera’s body was a lot more... accomodating when it came to multiple large insertions. She played along the entire time, acting as if she were somehow the unwilling victim all the time. This goaded her ‘captors’ into also abusing her physically and verbally, though their attempts at the latter were so inept and pathetic she had to struggle not to laugh.
Strangely enough, despite getting boned non-stop for almost half an hour, Xera was still left feeling acutely dissatisfied and unfulfilled. A bunch of faceless mooks having their way with her and passing her around like a cheap sex toy had its perks, but they just lacked Boxxy’s personal touch. She even started wishing Kora was there just so she could demonstrate what proper murder-rape techniques looked like.
Looking back on it now, Xera’s little orgy had ended up amounting to little more than idle distraction. She still enjoyed it more than not, though, which was why she took her sweet time playing and toying with them. More out for her own amusement rather than trying to satisfy her twisted desires. Another way to interpret her behavior would be to say that she was slacking, as she could’ve blown through this place in half the time if she actually tried. It wasn’t until she got the notification that an area guardian had been defeated elsewhere in the dungeon that she decided to expedite things.
Being intentionally lazy was a sure fire way to miss out on a ‘reward’ from Boxxy.
Thankfully the area guardian of the Torture Chamber was eagerly stuffing himself in her rear end at the same time she decided to actually get serious. Or at least, that’s who she had assumed he was, as the orc in question was about the size and girth of an actual fiend. He probably wasn’t a leader or a commander or anything like that since such positions were pointless in a group of orcs, but he was definitely the strongest individual present.
Either way, since Xera had already depleted a good chunk of his HP and stamina through intercourse, all that was left was to blast him in the face with a point blank Fireball. Except that she had underestimated just how tough that bastard actually was. With that clear act of aggression now in the open, the mood shifted from ‘romantic’ to ‘murderous’ in but a fraction of a second. It wasn’t until a second guardian was taken down elsewhere that Xera finally finished him off with a Meteor to the face.
Which, considering their location at the time, struck the top of the massive tower and caused the whole thing to go down in a much more spectacular fashion than what Goroth had envisioned.
But now that that was over with and she had the benefit of hindsight, all she was left with were feelings of disappointment. Not only at how lacking the facilities and staff in this so-called ‘Torture Chamber’ were, but also at how easily she had allowed her selfish desires to dictate her actions. Even if it was a natural thing to do as a demon, it was something Boxxy would probably not approve of. The whole thing was really a demonstration of why she needed to be kept under her Master’s heel at all times, else her perverted thoughts would cause her to lose sight of her long-term goals.
Which, incidentally, revolved entirely around earning Boxxy’s favor.
“Can anyone hear me?”
Xera involuntarily cheered after hearing her Master’s voice echo through her skull once more.
“Oh! W-welcome back, Master!”
“Thank fuck you’re here, boss!”
Drea and Kora seemed equally enthusiastic to have their mental links re-established as well.
“Good, looks like the interference is gone,” stated Boxxy. “Now then- Snack, give me a brief summary of your situation.”
“I just toppled a tower and killed a boss. I am unharmed and completely available for anything you may wish to use me for, Master.”
“Which one was yours?”
“The Torture Chamber.”
“I see. And the loot? How is it?”
Beads of cold sweat began to form on Xera’s forehead. How could she forget about the actual reason she and the others were in here to begin with? Thankfully it took merely a moment for her to catch glimpse of a silver-plated treasure chest out of the corner of her eye. The way it glimmered against her dusty, ashen, or flaming surroundings made her wonder why she didn’t notice it sooner.
“Just a moment, Master. I am opening the chest now.”
She ran over to the container and threw open the lid, allowing a half-transparent garment with ever-shifting colors to float out of it. It was an article she was able to immediately recognize.
“Oh my!” she exclaimed in delight. “It’s a Prismatic Cloak!”
Prismatic Cloaks were a type of extremely rare magic item, typically of Masterwork quality. The item’s main feature was its ability to render the user invisible to the naked eye so long as the metal clasp was fastened and the hood was pulled over their eyes. The effect would end if the user either made or was hit by an attack, as with most other forms of invisibility. The cloak was also enchanted to alter its size to fit the wearer, meaning that both the Sandman and Keira could potentially use the same one. Finally, it also provided a minor boost to magic resistance, which was a bit of a waste since the whole purpose of this item was to avoid battle.
“Nice!” cheered Boxxy. “I’ve been wanting one of those!”
Creating a Prismatic Cloak was a time consuming process that required two things - an individual with considerable expertise in both the Enchanter and Tailor Jobs, and copious amounts of Demon Silk. And since both the qualified artisans and the necessary materials were hard to come by, it was no surprise that there were not many of them in circulation. The Mimic was planning on buying one using Demon Silk harvested from Claws, but the hefty price tag and year-long waiting list had dissuaded it.
“Where shall I bring it, Master?” asked Xera with a goofy grin on her face.
“Make your way towards the front of the palace and wait for me there.”
“Arms, how are things on your end?”
“It’s fucked, boss,” came the annoyed reply. “I’ve been stuck in this shithole called the Endless Library or some shit like that. I can’t make any progress because of these- *Khhhht*”
Kora’s words were cut off mid-sentence by what amounted to white noise, followed shortly by a very bothersome notification.
Telepathic communication is now restricted.
It would appear the dungeon master had not given up yet, and was actively trying to keep Boxxy’s group from reorganizing themselves.
“That blasted cunt!” shouted the fiend at the top of her lungs. “I’ll rip her tits off and shove them so far up her ass she’ll choke on her own nipples!”
In her rage, Kora kicked the wooden Puzzle Door in front of her with as much force as she could muster. However, the violent act had failed to do much beyond making her foot ache from the recoil, much like the last twenty or so times she lashed out at it. And much like before, the door had interpreted her words and actions as a wrong answer, which triggered a summoning trap that dropped a trio of humanoid ice golems on top of the intruder. The Archfiend, frustrated as she was, instantly smashed them into dust with way more effort than was actually necessary.
‘Restraint’ was not a word normally found in a demon’s dictionary, but literally grinding their heads into dust beneath her heels was definitely excessive, even among her kind. Then again, her being infuriated beyond reason was only to be expected once one considered her surroundings.
The Eternal Library was an indoor area that seemed to go on forever, much like the name implied. Literature-filled bookshelves acted as walls, and its dimly lit corridors worked together to form a devious maze to confuse and befuddle invaders. There were no monsters to be found here, but teleportation traps and Puzzle Doors aplenty would ensure that any unfortunate soul trapped within was kept perpetually lost. It was a place meant to test an adventurer’s wits and intelligence, and was impossible to defeat with brute force.
Which meant that Kora, a Pit Archfiend whose main solution to all of life’s problems was to hit them really hard in their face analogue, was struggling to progress. Setre may have made the same mistake with her like she did Xera and failed to confirm her species, but Kora’s case was different. Archfiends and fiends were much more alike than djinn and succubi, so the dungeon master’s countermeasures had still checkmated the red-skinned muscle-head right from the start. It had been over half an hour since she was dropped in this cold, eerily silent place, and she had only managed to bypass one Puzzle Door so far. And even that was solely because she got lucky, as the riddle on it had been one of the trick questions she and the rest of Boxxy’s group encountered while reclaiming Ambrosia’s trunk.
But that had been where her luck had run out, as the riddle that stood before her was something she just couldn’t wrap her head around.
A man asked his daughter to buy a few things he needed for a trip and told her she would find an envelope on his desk with enough coins to make the purchase. She found the note with 98 written on it, put it in her pocket and left the house. When she got to the store she bought 90 GP worth of items, but when it was time to pay she found that she did not have 8 GP left over and was instead actually short on money.
How much GP was in the envelope?
Seriously - how the fuck am I supposed to know that?! she complained internally. Fucking piece of shit bastard cunt bitch fucking… Alright, now where was I?
The glowing letters etched into the door flashed red a few times, after which another trio of golems dropped down from the ceiling and were then summarily broken. The door reset itself after a few seconds, after which the Archfiend tried again.
Since she was unable to determine the answer using her wits, Kora had decided to try and brute force it in typical fiend fashion. All she needed to do was start counting up from zero and she’d reach the right answer eventually. It seemed like a good idea at the time since there were a very finite number of possibilities, and the punishment for getting it wrong was trivial to her. It may have been a simple and crude solution, but it was the best she could do under the circumstances. In fact, she was actually rather proud of herself for thinking up of such a clever trick.
Except that she had underestimated just how annoying it was to be told she was wrong over and over and over again. By a fucking door, no less. So by the time she had worked her way up to 85 she was positively fuming. Being so rudely cut off from Boxxy was also quite the infuriating blow. That shiny-obsessed box would have solved any riddle in under half a second if it involved money.
Taking a few deep breaths after pummeling the latest trio of victims, she turned towards the door for the umpteenth time.
“Eighty. Six,” she growled through gritted teeth.
However, much to her surprise, she had finally gotten it right. The letters flashed green instead of red, and the door swung open on its own while letting out a low-key bell chime. It was so anticlimactic that it very nearly pissed her off even more, but the catharsis of it all had won out and made her throw her hands up in the air in both triumph and exasperation.
“Fucking finally!” she yelled out. “I hope the boss lets me have a go at wonder-tits after this, I’m gonna have a lot of stress to work through!”
Kora went through the opened door and proceeded down the maze-like corridors while muttering profanities under her breath. She was walking around blindly, taking turns at random without adhering to use any sort of pattern or logic. She also stumbled into a few short-range teleportation traps, which only made matters worse. If Boxxy had been around, it would have probably given her some tips. Such as using the ‘keep left’ trick to make sure she wasn’t turned around, or mark her surroundings somehow to ensure she doesn’t go down the same hallway twice.
But since she was left to fend for herself, Kora had no choice but to wander aimlessly. She had been so used to relying on either Xera or Boxxy for intellectual support that she never even considered developing her mental faculties before. Archfiends like her were supposed to be smarter and more cunning than their lesser counterparts, but that was only because they had made an effort to make it so. After all, not even a Rank Up could make things like insight, critical thinking and analytical judgement appear overnight. Such skills had to be fostered
And now that Kora was in this situation, she began to realize she’d need to start practicing those things as soon as possible. Which was convenient, as she had just happened upon her third Puzzle Door. She briefly considered avoiding it and looking for an alternate path, but she had to willingly face her shortcomings if she hoped to overcome them.
The only problem was that this riddle made even less sense than the last.
What can run but never walks,
has a mouth but never talks,
has a head but never weeps,
has a bed but never sleeps?
The fiend groaned long and hard. She looked around at the countless books surrounding her as if searching for an answer, but she already knew they didn’t hold one. They didn’t hold much of anything, actually. All of them were completely blank, just useless props in a library scene. Kora’s vacant eyes drifted upwards along the polished wood bookshelves, which extended all the way up to the ceiling. She found it rather odd at the stone tiles above her and the ones below her were completely identical. They made it seem like it would be impossible to tell which side was up if it wasn’t for gravity pulling down on her.
“… They’re upside down!” she exclaimed suddenly. “The fucking numbers on the envelope were upside down!”
It was only well after the fact that she realized the answer to the last riddle. The envelope with the money actually said 86, but the girl would have confused it for 98 if she wasn’t looking at it from the right angle. The nearby Puzzle Door interpreted her epiphany as an answer and summoned another trio of ice golems to assault her, which were absentmindedly swatted aside with a triple backhanded punch.
“That’s it!” continued the excited fiend. “I just need to look at things at a different angle!”
Kora then immediately grabbed onto the bookshelves and began climbing. They were easily 5 meters tall, but someone of her stature was able to make it to the top in a manner of seconds. Once she had changed her perspective in a very literal sense, she then looked down at the puzzle door. She blinked at it a few times in total silence, then climbed back down to the floor.
“Like fuck that will do anything!”
Raging at her own idiocy, the fiend slammed her right fists into the wall of books to the right of the Puzzle Door. The bookshelf shuddered, shook, and groaned from the sudden impact, but settled down soon afterwards.
“… Wait a minute, what?”
She pulled her fists back and delivered another massive impact to the bookshelf, watching with great interest as it recoiled.
“A trap is only as strong as the structure it’s built on.”
Boxxy’s words echoed in the back of her mind. She wasn’t sure where or when the Mimic had let out this insightful line, but it definitely sounded like something that devious bastard would say. It was a nugget of wisdom that was infinitely more useful than that angle bullshit she had conjured up earlier, as it hinted at this maze’s weakness - the walls themselves. Puzzle Doors may have been magically fortified to the point where breaking them down was nigh impossible, but the same couldn’t be said about the rest of it.
Even if the walls in a dungeon could be made every bit as impenetrable as the doors, that only applied to actual walls. Not so much to flimsy-looking bookshelves that served purely decorative purposes.
Grinning madly to herself, Kora went to stand right next to the wall with legs astride and heels planted firmly on the floor. She bent her knees, lowered her waist, and tensed up her arms.
With a mighty yell she struck the confines of the maze, hitting it right at the vertical border between two of the massive shelves. It was a blow on a completely different level from the lazy punches she’d thrown previously, as it had her entire body weight behind it. It caused the entire wall of books to recoil from the force of the blow, which was transmitted down the corridor as a visible wave.
She may have been an idiot when it came to riddles, but Kora certainly knew how to throw a mean punch.
“ORRA! ORRA! ORA! ORA! ORA! ORA ORA ORA ORA ORA ORA!”
She kept pounding away at the bookshelf as if it were Teresa’s ass, gradually raising the tempo of her strikes as she shifted her body into high gear. The wooden frame rattled and groaned as cracks started to appear and the blank books began to fall down to the floor. The dungeon core did its best to repair the damage, but the spacious shelves it had to work with were not capable of withstanding this level of abuse. The fiend’s onslaught kept slowly but surely overpowering the autonomous repair function, right up until she broke through.
The bookshelf suddenly gave in under the mounting strain, quite literally exploding into a cloud of splinters and paper. It was as if all the kinetic energy the Archfiend had been pouring into it burst open like a balloon, resulting in a rather violently spectacular event. The hole that opened up as a result of that was so big that Kora could walk through it without having to bend down. On the other side of it was yet another bookshelf that was identical to the one she had just pulverized into submission, but she didn’t let that tiny detail take away from what she had just accomplished.
“Yeaaaah! Fuck you, riddles! Imma make my own doors now!”
Not wishing to waste any more time, the fiend charged through the opening and leapt into the air, hitting the next wall with a drop kick to soften it up. In the next instant, a piercing sound like glass breaking echoed through her surroundings, and all at once the dungeon around her went strangely dead. It wasn’t as if it was ever alive to begin with, but there was no other way Kora could describe the way the colors around her suddenly became much bleaker. The candelabra lining the shelves and the sparse chandeliers hanging from the ceiling then suddenly went out, plunging the area into total darkness.
It was almost as if the fiend’s excessive violence had broken this part of the dungeon.
Kora rose to her feet and stumbled about blindly for a second or two. All demons could see in the dark without too much issue, but it took a while for their eyes to adjust to low-light conditions. Once her vision was back, the Archfiend went over to the place where her heels made contact with the polished wood shelves, noting that the horrible dent she’d left in them was not recovering. She then leaned on it with her hands and, after putting in a good deal of effort, actually began to tilt the bookshelf. It moved only a tiny amount, but it was more than enough to offset its center of gravity and tip it over.
The massive piece of furniture then fell against its neighbour, pushing it over and sending it crashing into the next one, which in turn smacked right into the one after that. The domino effect was allowed to propagate freely, resulting in a catastrophic cascade that toppled nearly every bookshelf in the Eternal Library. A name that would have to be reconsidered now that Kora had managed to completely wreck the place.
It was then that the dungeon master’s Mistborn Projection appeared amidst the destruction. She looked around the toppled piles of books and timber as her disbelief grew to truly legendary proportions. It was so bad that she failed to produce any meaningful sentences, despite letting her voice leak out while her jaw opened and closed repeatedly. It wasn’t until she saw a head of green hair punctuated by a trio of metallic horns poking out of the debris that the djinn was finally able to find her words.
“What! The! Fuck?!” she screamed at Kora. “You just literally broke the zone, you fucking psycho!”
She wasn’t sure what this meathead had done, but her actions had triggered some kind of failsafe within the dungeon core, causing it to disconnect the entire Eternal Library from itself.
“Woohoo!” cheered the demon with a fist pump. “Koralenteprix - one! Dungeon - zero!”
“This is no laughing matter!” insisted Setre. “Do you have any idea how much work it will take to put this all back in order! Goroth’s gonna yell at me for sure! I might even lose the gig after today’s fiasco!”
The djinn kept complaining while Kora simply pulled herself out of the debris and dusted herself off.
“I refuse to go back to that asshole Nagnamor, you hear me?!”
“Oh, cry me a river!”
The fallen over Puzzle Door that Kora had last encountered sprang to life when she uttered those words. The riddle that was etched into it glowed momentarily with a pale green light as the object used up what little magical charge it had left. The luminescent letters then flickered and died out with a pathetic hissing noise, allowing darkness to claim the environment once more.
“A river?” asked the fiend indignantly. “How the fuck does a river sleep?!”
“You what?!” squealed Setre in frustration. “Did you even read the fucking riddle?!”
“… I skimmed over it.”
“ARRRGH! This is why I can’t stand you fucking fiends! It’s like that thing on your shoulders is good only for bashing against walls!”
“Well, duh. They wouldn’t be called ‘heads’ if they weren’t used in headbutts.”
Setre’s left eye began to twitch after hearing that utterly brainless statement being uttered as if it were common knowledge. The sheer volume of stupidity oozing from this six-armed demon made her want to slam her forehead against a wall over and over until she either passed out or her skull split open. She was fully aware that her kind weren’t too bright - that was why she stuck her in here to begin with - but this particular demon was taking the stereotype way too far. The way she was struggling with that envelope question in particular was almost physically painful for her to watch. Surely even freshly born demons were more mentally developed than this, right?
It was then that a sense of dread crept up on Setre. She swallowed audibly as she somewhat hesitantly activated Invader Analysis and appraised this titanic twit’s Status.
|General Information||Attributes||Job Information|
|Name||Koralenteprix Khusuuszun Caonthioxxaa||Name||Value||Name||Value||Name||Level||Progress|
Setre was… surprisingly less shocked than she thought she’d be. The revelation that Kora was an Archfiend had a much lesser impact than the other shit she’d seen today. On some level she more or less expected something like this after witnessing that literal monster of a Hero and the rest of its big-breasted entourage. The only saving grace was that, despite her outrageous Attributes, Drea was still very much a Stalker, and not some incomprehensible piece of flora or a succubus-turned-djinn. That last one in particular made so little sense that the dungeon master briefly wondered whether the core had broken and was giving her faulty data.
Well no, looking at the blackout around her made it abundantly clear that something had definitely broken. Or was on the verge of breaking, at the least. It actually made sense now that she realized this one was an Archfiend. An oppressive existence like that would have access to the Siegebreaker Skill, which would allow them to unravel the defensive magic permeating a fortification just by attacking it. An actual wall would have probably held up, but Goroth insisted on choosing form over function for the maze’s corridors, so something like this was bound to happen eventually.
Worst of all, however, was the fact that the Archfiend in question didn’t seem to realize this application of her Skill at all, and had simply started smashing things up out of spite.
“Ahh, whatever. It doesn’t matter anymore,” said the djinn in a somewhat nihilistic tone. “Just go beat the shit out of the boss or whatever, I’m done with you assholes.”
“Boss? What boss?”
The dungeon master’s projection disappeared in a puff of smoke, leaving Kora’s question unanswered until a focused beam of light hit her from the back, punching a tiny hole clean through her torso.
“That would be me,” said a deep voice from above and behind.
Kora turned around while clutching her wound with one hand and assuming a fighting stance with the others. She looked up at the source of those words, which turned out to be another demon. His species was obviously that of a Gazer, which was the natural Rank Up for beholders. His spherical body was comprised entirely of a flying eyeball a little over a meter wide. It had a multi-colored triangular iris floating amidst a sea of black, all wrapped up in a layer of gray skin that served as an eyelid. He didn’t have a mouth - or any other orifice for that matter - and communicated by broadcasting its thoughts to those around it. At least twenty smaller eyes of various sizes and colors floated around him, almost as if they were a school of fish following a whale.
“Shall we?” offered the Gazer while his orbiting ocular orbs picked up in speed.
“Oh man, you better believe it!” responded Kora with a vicious grin. “My fists have been itchin’ for a smashin’!”
She then leaped directly at the floating eyeball with the intention of punching a hole clean through him as payback. Her opponent naturally took action to avoid that attack. He and his orbiting eyeballs suddenly flickered out of existence and reappeared on Kora’s right side.
He then fired a massive eyebeam at her, which traveled much slower than the precision one he used earlier. Well, relatively speaking at least. It was still fast enough that the Archfiend only had a split second to react. She couldn’t dodge in midair, so she instead raised all six of her armored forearms and lined them up horizontally in front of her upper body while also raising her knees to touch the lowest one. The Gazer’s attack slammed against the resulting wall of steel and sent her flying away from it, but failed to get past Kora’s Demonic Armaments.
The demoness somehow managed to land on her feet, sending timber and blank books flying everywhere. She uncurled from her turtle-like stance, brushed off the thick layer of ice that had formed on her body and rushed towards the Gazer at full speed.
The eye-demon was having none of it, and hurled three spears of solid light right at her. He was intending to make his opponent dodge, thereby causing her to lose momentum and slow her advance until his Illusory Warp Skill could be used again. The short-range teleport would not be given a chance to recharge, however, as Kora took the magical projectiles head on. They pierced her shoulder and upper body, but still completely failed to alter her course even a single millimeter.
She closed the distance in an instant and leaped through the air again, only to be blasted by the invisible force of a Massive Rejection Spell that smashed her into the ground. She stood up immediately, only to see that her opponent had conjured up six copies of himself, all of which shot their own Freezing Ray at her. She rolled to the side to avoid the converging attacks, but one of the beams still hit her center of mass.
Or at least that’s what it looked like, but she then realized it was just an illusion. Meaning that five of those flying eyeballs were fake. And if they were anything like the mirages conjured up by that whorish co-contractor of hers, they would probably dissipate once any sort of force was exerted on them. And she knew just the Martial Art to do it.
Kora slammed all three pairs of palms against each other, producing a powerful shockwave that radiated in every direction. The sudden explosion of sound and air was so severe that it sent the top layer of collapsed library bits around her feet flying away from her. The Gazer was forced to put up a magical barrier to avoid being pushed back by the Martial Art while his illusions had no choice but to be forcefully dispersed. The Archfiend then reached down into the crater-like hole she dug out for herself and grasped a piece of debris in each hand, which were promptly hurled at her opponent. Even if they were nothing more than blank books or shattered pieces of timber, the sheer velocity behind each object could not be underestimated.
The Gazer wasn’t the least bit worried by them though, as physical projectiles had no hopes of reaching him. The two dozen or so ‘assistants’ he had came to his defense, repelling each of Kora’s shots with a precise telekinetic burst that knocked them off-course. The fiend kept launching salvo after salvo at him, but the enemy had literally four times as many defenders than she had arms. Her chances of overwhelming her opponent through numbers were quite literally mathematically impossible.
“Alright then!” she shouted. “Then how about something bigger?!”
She then dug her hands into the trash heap underfoot and tore out a massive six-meter tall piece of timber once belonging to a bookshelf. She swung it around like a club, but all it did was smash against the Gazer’s Mana Shield. Meanwhile his swarm of eyestalks had surrounded the Archfiend and were blasting her with small eye beams that tore up her red skin while the main body drifted out of reach of her ‘weapon.’
Kora simply ignored those small fries, as their pathetic attempts were like mosquito bites to her. She instead spun around and hurled the wooden pillar in her hands at the Gazer, who was forced to intercept it with a Fireball that blew it to smoke and splinters. A few of his orbiting eyeballs got caught up as collateral and were squashed, but it wasn’t too big of a deal.
What he needed to deal with was the fiend that was trying to leap through the smoke cloud. Unfortunately for her, a Gazer still retained a beholder’s MLG, and was therefore able to easily see her coming. The impact he took on his Mana Shield earlier was impossibly heavy, so he was quite eager to avoid taking a direct hit from this woman if at all possible. Thankfully, his Illusory Warp had become available again, and he was able to disappear and make the Archfiend pass through empty space once more.
When he repositioned himself to her right, however, he suddenly realized that the Archfiend was clinging to the ceiling as if she were the world’s most musclebound spider. She had used the force of her jump to dig her armored fingers into the stone slabs, which were creaking and cracking as they struggled to hold her weight. They wouldn’t have to do so for long, though, as she immediately launched herself at the Gazer’s new position.
The eyeball demon did his best to conjure up his defenses. A Mana Shield, a Frost Barrier and a Lichtschild were conjured up as a form of layered defense, but all but the last one were shattered in an instant when Kora collided fist-first with him. She clung to his last remaining bubble and forced him closer to the ground with her sheer body weight, but she was intending to deliver a decisive blow before either of them hit the ground.
She raised a pair of arms upwards, intertwined her fingers, and swung her fists downwards. The hammer-like blow smashed through the last barrier of solid light as if it were made of glass and made contact with his squishy body. With all of his defenses broken, the Gazer was sent smashing into the debris-filled ground, after which Kora fell on top of him and crushed him with both heels as if he were a massive ball of mud.
He wasn’t quite dead yet though, as what was left of his floating eye satellites converged their respective eye beams into a single blast that threw her off. The demon landed on her back, but used her momentum to flip over so she would stop on her hands and knees. She was already raring to go for another round, but her opponent had not moved from his spot. It was then she realized he couldn’t actually do so, as he had been impaled on a shattered piece of timber. His extra eyeballs, on the other hand, merely floated around and stared at her without even trying to attack.
“Magnificent,” he spoke into her head. “Truly well done, young one.”
Although it was extremely short, the Gazer was still able to witness something rather extraordinary during this fight. It had nothing to do with her absurd strength, however. A demon’s power in the physical realm was directly proportional to the mana that went into their summoning, and her body was simply more powerful than his. If he had been on the same level as this fiend, she wouldn’t have been able to withstand any of his ranged attacks as well as she did. He had already determined that he’d lose the instant he was caught, but it was the process leading up to that moment that made him respect this woman.
The projectile barrage forced him to focus on her alone. That massive wooden beam then made him drift away from her and closer to the ceiling without realizing it. And then she took advantage of the dungeon core no longer functioning properly in this area to dig her nails into it and use it as a secondary platform. All things considered, that sequence of events would have likely resulted in his defeat at least ninety out of a hundred times. It was the first time he had been outsmarted to this degree by a fiend, Ranked Up or otherwise.
No, perhaps ‘outsmarted’ wasn’t the right choice of words.
“It would appear that you yourself don’t seem to be aware of what you had accomplished,” he mused after witnessing her confused expression. “Most curious indeed. Was it battle instinct, perhaps? Or maybe it was just dumb luck, hmm?”
“… No idea what you’re talking about, old fart,” she said dismissively while warily approaching his mangled body. “I just went at you from a different angle, is all.”
“Heh,” he chuckled dryly, before continuing in a more serious tone. “The name’s Khurpath Sordazzurr. Do visit me in the Beyond when you have the time, young Koralenteprix. There is much I wish to know about you.”
Normally Kora would have dismissed the uppity know-it-all outright, but her experiences and frustrations in this place made it abundantly clear she was severely lacking outside of combat. Even if she did manage to get out of her predicament through brute force, that was only possible because of her, as Khur called it, dumb luck. And if she were to let this opportunity to forge a connection with a Gazer demon slip away, then she truly would be the brainless moron with zero foresight that the world thought she was.
“I’ll have my agent call your agent,” she said with a smirk. “We’ll do lunch.”
She then proceeded to finish him off by booting him like a deflated kickball.