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Unsurprisingly, Kaitlyn was still working on the eleventh floor, so I had the hub all to myself tonight. I set out my sleeping bag, had a small meal, and then laid down to try and get some rest. However, after around an hour of tossing and turning, sleep did not find me. I was coming up to the final floor, and then the final boss of the dungeon, and I strongly doubted I would have another “I’m sorry, but the princess is in another castle” like I did with the tenth-floor boss. I had plenty of combat skills, and my level was nothing to laugh at. I had far higher stats that probably any second rank person ought to. But I was still afraid. I sat down in meditation, trying to clear my thoughts. The skill helped, calming my emotions and my roiling mind.
I awoke. I had fallen asleep while meditating, and I had fallen over while I slept. The strange position had left my right-wing pinned uncomfortably beneath me, and I had to stretch it and channel some aether into the appendage to alleviate the pain. I packed up my stuff and prepared to set out.
I still had a whole level ahead of me before any boss fight. I had plenty of time to prepare. I decided to spend this floor working on my magic, trying to increase the power of my heavy hitters to give me some punch when I got to the final boss. My physical combat capability had accelerated by leaps and bounds, but the output of my magic skills was sorely lacking after Storm Command had changed into Elemental Mastery. I wanted to try and fix that.
I stepped into the magic circle and was greeted with an extremely long corridor, gently climbing upward and spiraling to the right. I recall that the fourth floor was a straight shot to the final boss as well, and it made sense that the pattern would repeat itself.
The corridor of the fourteenth floor was very similar to the ones in the previous two. What made it stand out was the level of detail paid attention to it. While it maintained the same red and gold on the stone theme, it did not seem randomly generated at all. It was not cluttered with strange wall hangings or overly expensive looking furniture. There weren’t doors scattered about willy-nilly just to give it a semblance of a lived-in appearance. The carpet was well kept, and the decorations were tasteful. There were still tapestries, but they were minimalist and looked rather nice. This truly looked like an entry hall. It made me think that the twelfth floor was poorly named.
Carefully, I started walking down the corridor, preparing for the inevitable attack. The corridor was long, and after a short while, I lost myself in the gentle upwards spiral. When finally, I stepped onto flat ground, it felt strange, as I had become accommodated to the gentle curvature.
Before I knew it, I had found myself in a large room. Branching off from this space were ten doors, each enumerated with three digits. Experimentally, I went to the first one and tried the handle. Uncharacteristically, the door opened, and I found myself looking into a bedroom. There was a large four-poster bed, a set of matching nightstands, and even a small kitchenette. It reminded me of a fancy old hotel room. It begged the question though, where was the occupant?
I left the room and tried the other nine doors. Of those, I found two more unlocked, and within were similar hotel-style rooms with matching furniture and layouts. I did, however, notice a makeup kit in one of the rooms, leading me to believe that there were occupied.
Suddenly, I heard a noise coming from the hallway further down along. In the corridor, there was nowhere to hide, and I didn’t feel like running away, so I drew my sword and waited. Before long, I was greeted with a strange sight. A skullback spider was pushing a handcart laden with clean towels down the hallway. Following behind him was the first Arachne I had seen yet. From the waist down she resembled a skullback warrior, but from the waist up she was a young girl, appearing only twelve. She had short-cropped black hair and wore a classic French maid outfit. When they saw me, both froze in place.
The spider came out from around the cart, and for the first time, I noticed that he, too, was wearing a bow tie. It approached me slowly and then started waving its arms around, before letting out the standard spider noises.
Chitter *HISS* gurgle…
The maid Arachne cleared her throat and then began to translate.
“Mr. Chippy says, welcome to the fourteenth floor Ms. Gale, a location titled ‘the Queen’s Chambers’. He apologizes that he wasn’t here sooner, but he had other matters to attend to. He says, here you will find the combat maids and butlers serving directly under Her Majesty. Your goal is to reach the top of the tower, after challenging each of its denizens to a duel in single combat.”
I was a bit taken aback by their attitude. Both of them were completely calm and professional, neither making any action against me. This floor was populated with intelligent spiders, then? It also sounded like there were some rules I needed to follow. Knowing how this dungeon had gone so far, playing along, and being courteous might provide additional rewards. I would have to do my best to be proper. I almost shuddered at the thought.
“Yes. Thank you for the reception… I’m guessing Mr. Chippy is that *cough*… handsome looking spider right there. What’s your name, miss?”
Nailed it. The maid showed no expression but responded after a brief pause with a curtsy, made far more complex due to the addition of six legs.
“I am Hildi.”
“It’s nice to meet you. So, we shall be fighting in single combat? Who am to fight first?”
I was starting to figure this proper speech thing out. It wasn’t so bad.
Hildi and Chippy looked at each other, and after a brief gurgle from the spider, the maid turned to me.
“I will be fighting you first.”
Without further ado, she reached into her skirts and drew a fancy pair of slightly curved one-edged daggers. I nodded in response, set my backpack down, and got ready.
“On your mark, Mr. Chippy.”
We stood ten feet apart from each other and prepared to fight.
We both moved into action, Hildi skittering forwards rapidly, and me charging forward to meet her. I cloaked my left hand in a sheath of ice, bringing it up to stop her blade, white I locked the other against the hilt of the knight’s sword.
Considering I had both of her weapons locked keeping my hands busy, we were at a sort of stalemate. Activating tempered body, I gained a small strength advantage, and slowly started to push her back. Experimentally, I channeled electricity through my sword and into her dagger, causing her to yelp in surprise. She gritted her teeth and held on but was hurting. Simultaneously, I used my left hand to channel ice down her arm, covering her off-hand dagger even further, eventually coating her entire arm. She tried in vain to step back but there was nothing she could do to get out of my grasp, and the position we were in prevented her from using her spider legs to assist. We stood, locked in combat, whilst gazing into each other’s eyes.
Slowly, taking my time, I started summoning blades of ice behind me, bringing them up and over my head so that they loomed over the Arachne threateningly. Suddenly, I felt all strength leave her body.
I removed the ice from her arm and returned all I had created to mana. I half expected this to be a duel to the death. It was very surprising to have it ended so quickly like this.
“It was a good fight. I’m curious though, why would you surrender? I half expected a fight to the death, just like on the other floors.”
Once again, Mr. Chippy began hissing and chittering an explanation, Hildi quickly starting her commentary.
“Mr. Chippy says, while we servants have all been trained in combat extensively, we have no desire to die against our first adventurer. While the warriors and knights might return after death, we would truly die.”
“Wait? Why? I though all dungeon monsters could respawn?”
“He says, the servants on this floor were all born of eggs laid by the queen, not born of mana like the guards and knights.”
“That’s… rather fascinating.”
Luna, do you have anything to mention?
No, not really. I honestly have no idea why these arachnids aren’t true members of the dungeon system. I would need to do far more research to find out why. Speaking to this Queen would help greatly.
Got it. We’re almost there, Luna.
I turned to Mr. Chippy next.
“I suppose I’m to fight you, now?”
He nodded his consent, though without neck muscles the action was closer to a bow. We separated a small distance like before. I was waiting for a signal to start, but before I heard anything from Hildi, Mr. Chippy moved in to attack.
He was extremely fast and fought using what I could only describe as spider-style martial arts. Each leg twisted and blocked attack after attack, and instead of biting, he struck out using his legs to deal piercing blows, aimed towards my chest and neck.
Though he was good, I could tell that the Art of the Blizzard was better. Its teachings were all about blocking and dodging in tandem with attacking, and I was able to start dealing blow after blow to his face and arms, charging my fist and sword with a combination of lightning for damage and wind for speed.
He was on the losing end of the fight, but it still took a long time for him to submit, the duel lasting five full minutes of super-speed blows. By the time Mr. Chippy stepped back, I was panting in exertion and had burned away over half of my stamina. Altogether, it was a good fight, and I felt like I was able to cement the teachings of my combat arts even further, using them more naturally and variably than before. Just because I had learned the moves didn’t mean I had reached the peak of what they could do.
After I caught my breath, I looked back up at the pair of arachnids, to find Hildi holding out a silver platter to me. On it were three small gold coins, and two medium-sized spools of the stronger spider thread I bought on the ninth floor. I added the items to my pouches and bid my farewells.
The rest of the fourteenth floor held a similar pattern; I would walk up a gentle slope, then find an area with sleeping quarters. What did change as I climbed, though, was the quality and size of the halls and rooms, and the number of spider servants. Due to the layout, I didn’t need to spend any time mapping or searching for more enemies to fight. It was a long straight shot right to the fifteenth floor.
I spent the vast majority of my time in duels against the occupants of each living area. Each spider servant practiced some form of combat, and the higher I climbed, the more proficient and powerful they became. After each victory, I would be given some chitin, thread, or money, and would move on after healing myself and the servants, if they required it. At first, they only attacked using techniques relying on hand to hand combat or weapons. After a few levels, though, I started to encounter servants that used magics, attacking with wind, water, poison, earth, or acid.
I had been able to make it through the first melee combat rooms relatively unscathed, only a few nicks with blades or hits to my limbs taken. When I had to fight magic users, I started to take lots more damage, the fights far more varied, and the spiders able to change their attacks on a whim to suit their needs. I found it extremely hard to counterattack once the mages got the ball rolling. I learned that lots of encounters against mages ended up being a contest to see who could attack first. The servants that still used weapons or their bodies on the higher numbered rooms were even stronger, moving at speeds that I could barely keep up with, or overpowering me with brute strength.
The worst, though, were the servants I fought in the most recent rooms. The extra dexterity and variability in combat that having a human torso granted meant that in the most powerful rooms, all of the enemies were Arachne. Their prowess was impressive, and they each wielded both weapons and magic in equal measure. It felt like they were taking pages out of my playbook.
One Arachne wielded a terrifying maul supplemented with gravity magic. She used the gravity magic to change the weight of her weapon, moving it through the air like a light staff, but striking with several times the force a normal attack should have. The first time our weapons clashed, her maul struck with such pressure that my right arm fractured, causing my sword to fall to the ground. If I hadn’t had skill in unarmed combat, I certainly would have died.
Another wielded a bow from close range but fired only arrows made of pure lightning. For the first time, I felt my storm resistance work correctly, the damage mitigated as my body absorbed the mana from the lightning strikes due to the Stormborn skill. Against any other foe, though, the maid archer would have been an impressive enemy.
Finally, I stood near the end. I had lost track of time long ago, and exhaustion was setting in. My armor was damaged still from the fights against the most powerful servants and was slowly repairing itself. I had made close to one hundred small gold from the fights here and received countless rare materials as payment for my success. Thinking back, it was rather easy to understand that had I taken on the maids and butlers more than one on one, I would have lost quickly. Most of them were powerful beyond anything I had seen before, but I had grown a great deal.
My magic skills had each grown and had regained much of their former strength. The finesse I was now capable of outstripped that of the combat servants by a wide margin, and I could use that to my advantage, though it would take no small amount of effort.
My arts, though I had mastered their basic forms, had advanced further still. I was now able to seamlessly incorporate unarmed attacks and sword attacks with the new movements, bringing my lethality and survivability up. I was confident I could now obliterate any of the guardians of the eleventh floor with ease, and I was aching to get a second shot at the royal warriors. I believed that I could now fight them without needing to separate them individually. I had a lot of information to go over when I returned to the hub.
The exit to the fourteenth floor was through another long rectangular hall. The ceiling rose to almost thirty feet, and the door to leave was silver, and embossed with beautiful floral carvings. On either side of the exit stood Arachne warriors, clad in elaborate gilded plate armor and wielding wicked and jagged halberds. They were the largest Arachne I had seen yet, each standing over nine feet tall, olympian knights protecting their queen.
I might have been exhausted, but my health, stamina, and mana were full. I was ready to fight I would ever be, and I was anxious to leave the floor as fast as possible so that I might get the bonus experience. I wanted to do everything I could to hit level forty before leaving. I took a deep breath and steeled my resolve. I walked towards the doors.
I approached slowly and stopped a dozen paces from the exit as the left guardian Arachne held up her hand.
“Halt. Before proceeding, you must be judged as worthy to meet her majesty. Only those who are worthy mas pass through unmolested.”
I looked up at the dark slit in the golden helm from which the voice spoke.
“How is my worthiness to be determined?”
It was the rightmost guardian’s turn to speak.
“It is determined by your actions. Is there anyone who will speak for this adventurer?”
[Yes. We shall.]
What? I knew that voice…
I whipped around and gasped at the strange sight I beheld. Silently, standing behind me, was every enemy I had faced out of the tutorial floors. There were drones, broodmothers, lesser and greater warriors, the three guardians, royal warriors, and many more. I even saw both shop keepers peeking around the crowd. They were clustered in a disorganized mob in the back. In the foreground though were the army of combat servants I had just waded through, each one standing by in orderly lines.
The Guardian of Constitution glanced over me and gave a slow nod of acknowledgment.
[This adventurer has shown us, guardians, her cunning, combat prowess, and her flexible mind. She was willing to avoid combat, if necessary, but was also a ruthless foe, my brethren’s weaknesses against us. She has proven herself worthy.]
After spider Gandalf's statement, he stepped back. Next to step forward was a royal warrior. Unlike the guardian who could use mental communication, he could only speak through the normal spider sounds, but one of the maids came forth and whispered a translation in my ear.
“I speak as a representative of the royal warriors on the twelfth and thirteenth floors. This adventurer showed great wisdom through her actions. Instead of charging into a fight, she could not win, she took her time to train and prepare, improving herself so that she could fight us on even ground. She is worthy.”
After he was done, the warrior backed up, returning to the crowd of spiders in the back. The last to speak up approached; it was Mr. Chippy, the second spider I had fought. The maid continued to whisper the translation into my ear as his hissing and grunting began.
“As head butler of the Queen’s Chambers, I speak with the mind of all the combat servants under Her Majesty. This winged adventure has shown decorum and poise, chivalry in combat, and mercy. She spared the lives of every maid and butler fought, and even healed those she injured. She is worthy of the final challenge.”
After his statement, the maid who translated for me returned to her position in line. I nodded in thanks, and she returned the gesture with a slight smile and a short bow.
Hearing the sound of someone clearing their throat behind me, I turned back to the armored knights.
“As you have been spoken for by three separate parties, each declaring your merits, you have the right to ascend to the final floor. Though be warned. Before you can speak with Her Majesty, you must face the captain of the royal guard, the strongest warrior of the dungeon. As you are fighting him alone, he will receive a slight handicap, but this will not be a simple fight. You may proceed back to the hub to rest. Good luck.”
I walked towards the door, preparing to leave, but right before touching it, I froze. Turning around, I addressed the group of spiders behind me.
“I am… thankful, for everything you have taught me. I have grown far more than I believed possible through our fights and conversations, and through my long life, I will remember my experiences here fondly. It was a fun dungeon. Thank you all.”
I meant every word I said. I turned again and placed my hand on the door. The world faded to black as I was teleported back to the hub.
Alert! Floor 14/15 Cleared! Experience Calculated!
Floor challenge: complete floor within 24 hours: 2000xp
Floor challenge: complete floor without killing a single enemy: 5000 XP
Floor challenge: enter floor 15 with three parties’ support: 500 XP
Total Experience: 10125xp (+35% from bonuses)
I brought up my skill alerts. I wanted to check over my status before sleep.
Skill Alert! Level Up! Status Increased!
Identify – lvl 15 -> 16
Temepered Body – lvl 5 -> 6 – 4/1 stamina/stat ratio
Stormborn – lvl 11 -> 12 – increases the effectiveness of strength, agility, constitution, and wisdom when in story conditions (+12%). Grants enhanced regeneration when touching the water (120%). Gain mana from storm attacks. (+20% mana steal)
Combat Skills: 312xp
Light Armor Mastery – lvl 14 -> 25 – reduces noise generated by light armor by (25%)
Swordsmanship – lvl 16 -> 21 – reduces stamina cost of wielding a sword by (21%)
Parry – lvl 5 -> 16 – reduces stamina cost of blocking by (16%)
Elemental Mastery – electric (15 -> 27), ice (6 -> 19), water (19 -> 21), air (15 -> 26), order (7 -> 14), chaos (1 -> 4)
Aether Channeling – lvl 3 -> 6
One Body – lvl 3 -> 5
Lone Wanderer – lvl 70 -> 78 – Increased money drop rate when exploring alone (+25%), Increased potion effect when alone (+3%).
Max Status Increases:
Level 38 -> 40 (4900/4900) MAX. Rank up available.
I had finally reached level 40, and I was ready to rank up. Naturally, though, I would wait until I went back home to do it, so I had some amount of safety. I got lots of combat level-ups for my most used skills on this floor, but that wasn’t surprising. The lightning damage I took amazingly brought up stormborn, which hadn’t leveled since the second day of my transformation. Elemental mastery had seen level-ups across the board as well, even in chaos, which I hadn’t used by itself, not for a lack of trying. Lone wanderer had entered into its last quarter, and I could now wee its final bonus, increasing the effectiveness of potions. Lastly, I managed to increase both constitution and charisma without any points, probably due to my healing and my practice speaking with decorum.
It was a very productive day, and tomorrow I would try and beat the final boss. I was still nervous, but after my fights on the fourteenth floor, I felt more ready than ever to take it on. I had potions, I had healed, I had more health, stamina, and mana than any normal adventurer should. I was as ready as I could ever be. I fell asleep quickly, the effort to clear the last floor sending me into dreamland.
It was morning, or at least close enough to it that I was awake now. There weren’t exactly windows in the hub, and the light was always the same, but whatever. This time, when I awoke, I found a very ragged looking Kaitlyn sleeping curled up next to me. She had laid out her bag next to mine but had rolled over into me. Her ears gently twitched as she dreamed.
By my guess she had just finished the twelfth floor, her stealth letting her sneak up on the royal warriors before they could mount a good defense. She would have a hard time with the fourteenth if required to take it on as I had. She was covered in small scratches, and her armor was little more than scraps of leather held together with hasty repair stitching. What flesh I could see was covered in scratches, near misses that hadn’t been healed with a potion.
Gently, I laid my hand on her and began to channel water and order aether into her body, seeking out injuries. When I healed the combat servants after our duels, I discovered that they had similar biology to me, possessing a deep connection to aether and mana due to their nature as monsters. Now that I was touching a beastkin though, I could finally understand just what was meant by different races.
We were different. It was like comparing an insect to a mammal; our organs were in largely the same places, but what they did and what they required was like night and day. I needed more time to study and understand what I was sensing through my healing. I needed more time to understand myself.
I finished patching up her wounds to the best of my ability. The speed of healing was reduced slightly, and the mana consumption increased, but it still worked. After I was done, her sleep became more restful as the pain receded. I used a page of my notebook to write her a note explaining the next couple of floors, just in case she needed it, but I had a feeling she would be okay.
I rose, turning to the final teleportation circle leading to the last floor. This one looked different; while the other glowed with a blue light this one pulsed softly with glimmering gold and violet. My heart is in excitement as I stepped into the portal.
I appeared in a large circular audience hall, slightly reminiscent of the two previous boss rooms, but far more elaborate. The entire space was covered in gold leaf, to such an unimaginable degree that. It reminded me of rococo style cathedrals, covered in extreme finery. There were jewel incrusted light holders on the walls, the ceiling was adorned with embossed gold vines, and an elaborate crystal chandelier the size of an elephant sat in the central, lighting up space with twisting rainbows.
Unlike the other boss rooms, though, this one had an observation deck sitting directly across from me. Within was a large central throne in gold, with a red velvet cushion. It was extremely large, presumably to allow it to accommodate the Arachne queen herself. I stood, waiting for something to happen.
After counting to thirty in my mind, I heard the sound of trumpets blaring a bright tone. From within the balcony, a curtain was drawn, giving me a slight glimpse of a long hallway. In the extreme silence that fell after the tone, I heard the pattering of spider legs.
From the balcony came a young Arachne dressed in a luxurious white tunic.
“Now announcing Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth Cunningham, Mother of Spiders, Administrator Under Labyrinth.”
The announcement was followed by another round of trumpets, as I finally got a glimpse of the Spider Queen. She came out of the balcony, and moved onto her throne, tucking her legs in around her. On either side were the same gargantuan golden-armored Arachne, though this time they carried swords.
The queen was… normal. She wasn’t particularly beautiful, nor was she ugly. My guess was she was in her thirties, the slight wrinkles on her face betraying her youth. She wore a pair of trendy glasses that anyone might wear. She was African American and wore a gentle smile. Her hair was braided into strands that fell behind her back and around her shoulders. On her head was an elaborate crown, meaning that there was no mistaking her identity. Her clothes were nice and regal but appeared comfortable, not tight. Her lower half was that of a spider, as expected. It was black and shiny, clearly polished to a sheen, and had interesting red lines along with it. The spider queen, was, for all intents and purposes, just a normal person.
She cleared her throat and started to speak, her voice echoing around the chamber, increasing in volume.
“Hello, Ms. Gale, and hello to you too, Luna. Thank you for delving into my dungeon. I have spent some time working to make sure it was good enough for adventurers, and there are many more parts that could use a bit more work. I hope you found it interesting.”
She paused, pursing her lips, and looking down at me from her perch. It took me a few seconds to realize she was waiting for my response.
“Oh, yes. Of course. It was a great experience, and I grew much stronger because of it.”
She smiled brightly.
“I’m glad. Now, before we can continue our conversation, there is one final challenge you must pass. You shall duel the captain of my guard.”
She clapped her hands, and a hidden door located beneath where she was sitting gently swung open. From within came the largest Arachne I had seen yet.
It stood somewhere around twelve feet tall, not gargantuan, like the boss of the fifth floor, but massive, nonetheless. It wore the same gold plate armor that the other Arachne did, but it was adorned with fascinating engravings. The Arachne wielded two swords, each one five feet long and eight inches wide. The lower half of the Arachne was a miniature version of the fifth-floor boss, the knight, complete with the extra bladed legs. The monster exuded a pressure I was unfamiliar with, and I could feel my pulse increase. I used identify.
Guard Captain Mabel (Arachne Knight) (Rank 2) – lvl 40
The Arachne knight stopped her approach, staring down at me through her visor as the doors behind her closed.
The queen spoke out over the arena again, and it took me a second to tear my vision away from the imposing figure before me.
“The guard captain is a boss designed to take on a team of five peak rank 2 combatants. While you are strong, she would crust you easily if she were to attack with everything in her arsenal. Mabel has suggested a handicap to make the battle more even, and I have conceded to her idea.
“She will not use her lower legs to attack during the fight, using only her twin swords. She has also left her weak spot exposed so that you stand a fighting chance.”
As the queen brought up the weak spot, Mabel turned and showed the top of her thorax. On it was a large red gem, imbedded in the carapace. I didn’t know if her having an actual video-game style weakness was a good or bad thing. By my guess, it probably meant she was strong enough that the only way she would be allowed in a rank two dungeon is if her weak point was exposed. A terrifying thought.
“Ms. Gale, we will start when you give the ready signal.”
I removed my backpack, also taking off my two storage pouches, placing them within. I also removed the scabbard from my sword belt. I placed them both at the edge of the area, before returning to the center, standing across from the boss.
I clenched my fist around the handle of the knight’s sword. My offhand was cloaked in lightning. I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths.
My eyes slammed open. It was time.
“Mabel, you may begin.”
At the sound of her name, the Arachne charged forwards with a rapid leaping motion, a movement bolstered with high agility, strength, and wind magic. I used my magic to throw myself to left.
The guard captain saw my movement before I could make it, predicting that I would dodge the charge. Holding her right sword out to catch me, she pressed closer screaming through the air.
Uncanny sight noticed the twitch of her arms as she moved, and I was able to dodge below the horizontal swipe by falling backward, but now I was in a compromising position. I twisted my body at the last second before firing a massive gust of wind out, sending me flying behind the captain.
Using my left hand, I aimed and sent a blast of lightning toward the now exposed crystal on the captain’s back, but before I could, the Arachne twisted her torso and blocked the blast with one of her swords. She was extremely quick and dexterous and was perceptive enough to block most of my attacks. I charged in, trying to attack her right side now that it was exposed, but she turned to face me.
Her swords fell like rain, attack after attack. She seemed to be using wind mana to accelerate the speed of her attacks. I did everything I could to parry or dodge the swords, but it wasn’t enough. I started taking a few hits, the joints and bones of my sword arm aching, and my armor unable to resist the razor edge of her dual blades. When I used the faster attack form of the Art of the Blizzard, I was able to land the occasional hit, but they were all unable to penetrate the golden metal of her full plate armor. If I was going to win, I needed to strike the weak spot.
Using tempered body to the max of what I could, I was able to push off one of her attacks completely, forcing her to slightly stumble. I used the opportunity to gain some distance, and I began to summon blades of ice. My gamble was that I would be able to distract her enough to get her weak spot.
Because she was pushing her attack against me, I was unable to summon ice in any more complex means that basic icicles, but I could still make the most of it. I targeted her weak spots; the hole in her visor, and the crystal on her back. The captain was forced to defend now, the number of attacks falling on her too much to ignore completely, but she still did not let up completely.
Now that I had the initiative, it was important that I didn’t give it up. I was blazing through my mana and stamina as the fight continued, and while I still had plenty of health, if I were to lose either of my other scores, I would quickly die. I started pushing my attack a bit more. The cooldown on tempered body was almost up, and I would use that to strike the weak point again.
I began to slow my ice attacks, trying to feign me running out of mana. The Arachne's attacks continued to fall with extreme speed and prowess, her arms able to work independently of each other, such that combat with her was closer to fighting two enemies at once rather than one. Meanwhile, I started pushing as much lightning mana as I could into my wings.
As they started to glow with energy, the boss, realizing that I was up to something, redoubled her efforts. I continued my dodging, but one of her swords slipped through my guard, plunging into my upper left arm and cutting to the bone. She ripped it out, spewing my strange lustrous blood across her gilded armor. The blood flew up into her visor, and she doubled back, unable to see.
The pain was intense, and it took every ounce of my willpower to keep from screaming out. Instead, I released a low grunt and lashed out with my right arm. I pushed half of my remaining stamina into tempered body, far exceeding the cap that my constitution provided. I pushed all of the stats into agility, giving me a burst of pure speed.
She was still blinded and had started lashing out with her swords randomly. I took advantage of that, and threw myself into the sky, up and over her head. Perhaps sensing my movement from the changing air, the guard captain whipped her swords over her head, calculating for my agility, but the change gave me a slight advantage.
As I fell and landed on her back, I felt the muscles in my wings and legs rupture and tear due to overusing tempered body. I couldn’t help but let out a small noise due to the shock. If she didn’t already feel me on her back, she knew I was there now. I had seconds before I would inevitably die from her counterattack, and I needed to move now.
The crystal was right before me. I channeled my thirty-remaining mana into the guard of the knight's sword so that it radiated electricity, and I used the rest of my strength to slam it onto the crystal with all of the remaining strength I could muster.
As my attack landed, the crystal shattered, and the captain of the queen’s guard froze in place.
Did I win?