Chapter 27: Second Phase
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Sure, even if there were two of me, it wasn't enough to defeat Levius with certainty. But at this point, it was better than nothing. 

I watched in awe as a blue light pulled away from me like the silk of a spider, swirling around next to me until it formed a clone in my image. I stared into the dark blue eyes of myself, partly refusing to believe that a copy was standing next to me. 

"Damn, I think I'm good-looking," I muttered under my breath. 

"Hey, so do I," my doppelganger grinned. 

[Oh, no. There's two masochists T_T]

"I told you to stop calling me that," My clone and I said in unison. We stared at each for a moment, then grinned. 

"Er... while I have no idea what just happened, I feel as if we have more important matters to attend to, yes?" The Soultaker quivered hesitantly in my hand. My clone gazed at the sword in his own hand. 

"Huh, seems like its sentience wasn't copied," he remarked, slightly relieved. 

"Must be nice," I replied, turning my attention back to Levius, who was visibly perplexed. I suspected it was more so that I had momentarily paused the battle just to converse casually with my clone. 

"Well, at least the damage was copied. You ready?" My clone asked me, crouching low. 

"You're me. Of course I am," I felt a strange sense of both elation and discomfort as I grinned back at my doppelganger. "Let's do this."

"Oh my god, I have two little brothers now?!" My clone and I ignored my- our? sister's squeal of delight as we dashed forward, swinging our Soultakers. 

I rushed forward, clearing a path through the monsters for my clone as I farmed more damage for the Soultaker. My plan was to use the remaining precious seconds to take advantage of my restored stats to farm enough damage for insurance. I wasn't quite sure if my stats would get halved again considering Levius needed to activate his ability to do so, but I wasn't going to find out. 

Right now, both my clone and I far surpassed him in Speed, so we had one shot at landing at least one hit on him with our Soultakers. Just one hit was all it took for a greater chance of beating this floor. The only problem was, the army of sea monsters made it hard for us to actually reach him, even with the additional firepower from the other Players. 

 

[System alert: 'Pick On Someone Your Own Strength.' has ended.]

 

"Fuck," I swore under my breath, checking my Status Window. I breathed a sigh of relief as I saw that my stats, save for Health, retained their values. I just had to make sure Levius didn't halve them again. 

 

[Cloak of the Guide damage converted to Health.]

[Health: 26125]

 

It seemed like my clone was on the same wavelength as we both used our cloak's ability to restore some Health back. Good, at least we had some security now. Sucked that we'd have to wait almost 19 minutes for the passive to come back up. 

"Interesting!" Levius boomed excitedly as my clone and I dashed towards him. Water began to rise up from the ground, flooding the entire floor in a couple inches of cold liquid. "You've really grown since the last time we fought!"

"Shut up and die already," I muttered under my breath, swinging my Soultaker with all my might. There was a blur of motion as my clone and I attacked in tandem, our Soultakers whistling through the air.

I expected our blades to hit their target, but they suddenly missed, swinging harmlessly through the air where Levius had just been. In that brief moment of confusion, my clone suddenly pushed me aside as Levius reappeared, hitting him with an ice-covered fist. 

"Fuck!" My clone screamed out as he blasted past me. I didn't have time to check up on him as I capitalized on the opening he gave me, launching forward and thrusting my sword at Levius. 

This time, I managed to see how he dodged the first time, quickly transforming into a pool of falling water and merging with the flood around us. I barely managed to leap away as Levius reformed behind me, missing his attack.

"You're learning fast!" he boomed. "But there's still so much more to learn!"

There was a flash of green, and Levius grunted in annoyance, looking past me with hatred in his eyes. I didn't have to turn around to know that Aurora had stolen his stats again.

 

[Health: 750000 | Strength: 375000]

[Speed: 15000 | Magic: 172500]

 

Another blink of green zipped past me, and then I saw my sister ferociously engaging in a battle with Levius. Holy shit. Her Avarice Title was simply ridiculous. 200000+ Health, 125000+ Strength, 5000+ Speed, and 57000+ Magic, from one instance of her Title's ability. She was now slightly faster than Levius, able to force him to shift into a defensive position as she whirled around with her broadsword. 

A soothing red warmth enveloped my body, washing away my fatigue.

 

[System alert: Your full Health has been restored.] 

 

I glanced back to see Celine doing the same to my clone, nodding to me in acknowledgement. 

"Thanks, Celine," I muttered under my breath, rushing forward to join my sister. My clone soon jumped in as well, and it became a three-way battle as we all began to attack Levius. As long as Aurora could keep him busy, we could focus on landing the one hit we needed.

Despite the three of us being quicker, Levius was too tricky and evasive, using that watery transformation Skill to negate any chances of us landing a direct hit. I couldn't even land a Death's Shadow to slow his movements, so I decided to use Holy Element for the first time. 

A brilliant white light enveloped me, filling me up with divine energy. I launched it outwards, seeing the ray strikethrough Levius's water form. It seemed to do no damage as the attack simply evaporated a large hole in the flood, which quickly filled itself up. Wait a minute. 

I pulled back, allowing my clone and sister to take charge, keeping Levius busy as I charged up another Holy Element. 

 

[System alert: Holy Element incompatible with Death's Shadow, Reap, Final Gambit.]

 

Figures. Oh well, that wasn't really what I had in mind.  

"Hey, I'm going to try something!" I yelled to Aurora and my clone, activating Grim Mantle and flying up. I didn't know if they heard me or not, but I trusted them to adapt to my plan. 

Up in the air, I quickly processed the situation. Aurora and my clone were busy keeping Levius on the ropes as the other Players dealt with the hordes of mutated sea monsters. Gigi was keeping everyone organized throughout the fight, setting up sentry turrets and flying drones to help aid in the fight. Phoebe was a spectacular sight, her ice Skills freezing entire swaths of the ocean and allowing us to fight on more solid ground. 

I made a beeline towards Phoebe, landing beside her. "Phoebe, I need your help!"

"Of course, Luquier!" She nodded, already beginning to cast a complex ice spell. The air around us grew colder as a swirling vortex formed in the sky. "I'll freeze the water where Levius is standing! That should help."

Oh man, was this what it was like to have competent teammates? I had stopped playing competitive games due to being matched with gamers who either didn't know the intricacies or were trolling. Granted, some of it was also the way I poorly dealt when I was in such teams, but still.

"Make it as wide as you can!" I said to Phoebe, charging up my Holy Element. God, I hoped this would work. In the midst of battle, I could tell my sister and my clone were beginning to lose steam.

"Huh? But that would weaken the Skill's potency! I'd also have to make sure to tweak it so it doesn't affect Players!" Phoebe protested, but obliged anyway. 

"Don't worry about it, I've got it covered! Just fire when you're ready!" 

"Okay!" Phoebe cried, closing her eyes as she concentrated. The icy vortex above us expanded exponentially, covering the entire surface area of the castle ruins. Phoebe brought her hands down, letting the accumulated ice storm fall upon us. 

Desperately praying that it would work, I fired off my Holy Element skill into the ice storm. The light from the blast momentarily blinded me, but I heard a satisfying boom of thunder echo across the battlefield. As my vision cleared, I saw that the ice storm had been strengthened, flash freezing both the flood and a good half of the sea monsters in a coat of ice. 

Levius growled in surprise, but didn't seem phased as Aurora and my clone jumped at the opportunity to finally hit him. What the heck, he wasn't frozen either? Or damaged? Even as I used Grim Mantle to rush in to join them, I felt another uneasy pull in my gut. 

"This is the most excitement I've had in centuries!" Levius roared with glee, his body glowing with a dark-blue light. There was a flash, and suddenly the three of us were staring at two copies of Levius. 

No way. He could Duplicate himself as well?

One of the Levius clones sent out a blade of water, but my own clone leapt forward, tanking the hit and getting knocked back. He howled in pain as the Soultaker in his hands slipped from his grasp. The other Levius clone coated his fists with ice, surging forward to pounce on my clone.

However, Aurora quickly blocked his attack, forcing him on the defensive as I took the other Levius clone head-on. He sent out a torrent of ice shards my way, but I managed to dodge most of them, retaliating with a Death's Shadow to slow his movements. Levius's face contorted with pain, and I mercilessly cut him in half with my Soultaker, getting rid of one clone. 

The clone's pained cry was cut short as the halves fell to the ground, twitching before falling still. Blue blood seeped out, staining the translucent ice beneath me. 

"Fucking... finally," I panted, turning around to see how Aurora was doing.

She was struggling against the ice-clad Levius, blade upon fist crashing as they seemed evenly matched. I took a moment to catch my breath, preparing to help my sister end the fight before Levius split again. I shouldn't have let my guard down.

Too late, I sensed an enormous amount of energy coming from the corpse I had just slain behind me. Before I could move, I felt a hard shove pushing me away from the source. I managed to turn my head back to see my clone giving me a weak smile and a thumbs-up as the Levius corpse self-destructed, taking my clone out with it. He didn’t have the Soultaker to negate the damage.

The impact from the explosion sent me flying through the air, but a quick Grim Mantle adjusted my trajectory, letting me land safely. I noticed that the area where the Levius corpse had been was now broken, with free-flowing water. Oh shit. 

Cracks began to branch out from the unfrozen area, threatening to break the ice into smaller and smaller pieces. I cursed, whirling around to find where my sister was. 

Aurora was now struggling against two Levius bosses, slowly losing ground as they began to overwhelm her. I gritted my teeth, pushing my body to its limits as I flew towards them, spamming my Death's Shadow and Reap.

[Health: 541000]

Crap. Did he also have Galodon's Tough Skin passive? Was Levius just the culmination of all the aquatic bosses?

Things were looking bad as I regrouped with my sister, now facing four Levius bosses even as I continued to spam my Skills. I berated myself for slipping up at such a crucial moment. We could've killed him had I not assumed that killing a clone was the end of that. 

"Any... more... ideas?" Aurora managed to gasp out between ragged breaths. The quadruple Levius bosses were closing in, conjuring blades of water and frozen shards. I could feel the ice beneath our feet cracking and shifting, threatening to break free at any moment.

[Health: 246000]

 

[Death's Shadow: 560/1148]

[Reap: 480/1148]

[Soultaker: 914016]

 

I clenched my jaw, frustrated. All my stats save for Risk had been restored, but I couldn't get an opportunity to use the Soultaker's damage to one-shot them all. My clone was on cooldown due to my carelessness, and it seemed as though my sister was on the verge of exhaustion. 

"I've got one idea, but I need you to leave me and get Gigi to somehow group up the clones together," I muttered, dodging more attacks.

Aurora nodded, pushing herself to her limits and raced forward, weaving between the Levius bosses as she went. I hoped she could manage it.

As for me, I waited until the last second to fly up into the air as the Levius bosses converged on me, evading their fists. I immediately spammed my skills again, hoping to keep them distracted long enough for Gigi to bind them all together somehow.

[Health: 142080]

 

[Death's Shadow: 50/1148]

[Reap: 10/1148]

 

Fuck. I had to stop, or else I'd run out of uses and they'd disappear. I ceased my Skills, dropping down to engage in melee combat with all four of the Levius bosses. 

I smiled bitterly, pushing myself to the absolute limit as I fended off all four at once. Sure, I was a little under four times faster than all of them, but their synchronicity in attacks kept me on my toes, making it seem like I was fighting one entity.

"You've pushed me this far, Immortal! I am both excited and impressed!" I couldn't tell which of the Levius clones had spoken, but it didn't matter. All of my focus was directed towards defending and avoiding. 

After what seemed like forever, my saving grace arrived in the form of a golden net that caught the Levius bosses by surprise. The net bound them together, causing confusion among them. 

"Luquier!" Gigi shouted as she ran towards me, Aurora leading the way. "The net won't hold them forever!" 

That was fine. I only need a few seconds since my Soultaker could-

All four Levius bosses immediately broke out of their bonds, momentarily instilling fear and shock to everyone who witnessed it. The one who I assumed was the real one turned his head towards me, smiling with respect and triumph. 

"I must say, I look forward to our next fight." All four Levius clones glowed brightly, preparing to split again. 

Having exhausted all of my ideas and resources, I wasn't sure if what I had in mind would work. Not that I had a moment to think about it. 

I stowed my Soultaker in my Inventory and immediately casted the final Skill I hadn't had the chance to try out. 

 

[Final Gambit activated. Total damage: 82100 (+82100)]

 

[Player?!]

No one could even process what I had done as a black fog swirled up around me. The Levius bosses watched curiously as the fog sparked once. 

"Ah, fuck. This is gonna hurt." 

I blew up, the pain unimaginable, but over in an instant. None of the Levius bosses were prepared for it either as they were caught in the explosion. 

 

[System alert: You have died.] 

[...]

 

[System alert: Awakened Herald Sea Serpent God, Levius has been defeated.]

[Congratulations! Floor 30 has been cleared. Floor 31 has been opened.]

[Main contributors: Players Luquier Vaunt, Aurora Vaunt, Celine Saffron, Gigi Mai, Phoebe Chae.]

 

[System alert: Final Gambit triggered. Reviving user...]

 

****

 

[Updating…]

 

[Items]

[Soultaker (914016)]

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