[Vol. 2 pt. 6]
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I seriously hate monsters with tentacles.

No, I hate everything with tentacles. From the few times I’ve tried eating cooked tentacles—and raw tentacles at that one weird place that used to offer raw fish which I decided to try out after completing a lucrative job—and they were always gross. The texture is just… I can’t help but think about that texture every time I see tentacles.

Even if they’re the tentacles of some annoying wannabe-tree monster, I still think about that dreadful texture.

“Woofen – maybe… don’t use fire this time?” Elanah suggests, looking at me with a nervous smile as if she’s worried about suggesting me to not do something.

There is still grass and other flammable things in this gathering zone. If a fire starts in here then it’s going to spread just as easily as it did in the connecting tunnel.

Fire would deal with this bastard so quickly, though.

Damn.

I’m not sure how well our blades are going to deal with it. Mine should be enough to cut through its tentacles and chop into its base but I can’t say the same about Elanah’s. At least she’ll still be able to use her magic.

Then again, we’re going against what looks to be a young treant. I don’t know if she knows about their resistance to most magic, venoms, and poisons.

“Void Missile!” Elanah shouts, shooting her favorite spell straight at the monster.

Her attack barely manages to pierce the monster’s bark-covered torso.

“Only – only five damage?” she asks.

Yeah, that sounds about right.

And now it’s the monster’s turn to retaliate.

It lifts its arm up into the air and then swings it toward us, lashing the tentacles extending out from it like a whip.

Elanah jumps away to avoid the attack, but…

She must not have been expecting the tentacles to chase her right after slamming into the ground.

With both of her blades drawn, she slices at the pursuing tentacles but barely manages to cut them. She does manage to make two of them retract, though, but that’s not enough. The third tentacle of the monster’s arm slams into her side and knocks her away.

Then a fourth tentacle grabs her midair and pulls her in.

She might have been able to handle the previous monster easily, but that was because her blades were actually able to cut through its tentacles all on their own. Her own strength was enough to cut through them.

Her inexperience with these floors is really starting to show.

[Young Tower Treant took 19 damage!]

My blade managed to slice through the tentacle that grabbed her. Good. I’ve confirmed that I’ll be able to at least cut its tentacles. Cutting its actual body is still going to be a challenge, but its tentacles are what pose the biggest threats.

“Thanks, Woofen,” Elanah says, standing back up with a wince.

That was a pretty hard hit she took to her side and it’s showing. There is going to be one big bruise there later.

“But… I have no idea how to fight it. My blades aren’t sharp enough to cut through the bark.”

Explaining how to fight it to Snow and then having Snow translate that to Elanah would be annoying and ineffective thanks to the language barrier between Snow and… pretty much everybody who isn’t an animal.

Another one of the tentacles comes flying straight at us.

It can’t change its course after it’s been swung at this speed, so all I have to do is step to the side, hold my sword where the tentacle is going to come crashing down at us, and – do these things even count as tentacles?

Ah, fuck it.

The tentacle swings into my sword all on its own, severing its own end off.

[Young Tower Treant took 18 damage!]

I look up at Elanah, lock eyes with each other, and then motion to get back with my eyes.

“Woofen? Are – are you sure?” Elanah asks.

I nod and return my attention to the monster.

Alright.

I lived for thirty-three years and have been in this damn tower more times than I’d like to count. Elanah is young, hardly even classifies as a thief, and has no experience with these floors.

It’s time to give her some lessons on fighting. After all, we’re down here to grow stronger.

So, I’ll teach her the most basic strategy to deal with these resilient, tentacled bastards.

Two more tentacles come at me.

I dodge one and sever the other.

[Young Tower Treant took 19 damage!]

I like to put monsters with tentacles into two categories.

There are the really fucking deadly bastards who are fast, mobile, and that have tentacles.

Then there are the really annoying but easy-to-deal-with bastards who are slow, borderline immobile outside of their tentacles, and that have tentacles.

This bastard falls into the second of those two categories.

Dealing with that first category is difficult. It requires serious skill, planning, and being able to instantly react to attacks.

Dealing with this second category is easier. All you have to do is bait their attacks, cut their tentacles, and move in closer and closer to sever more and more of their lengths. Before long, they won’t have any more tentacles to attack with, no way to escape, and then they can be easily killed without any way to fight back.

Unfortunately for this monster, it seems to think I must be easy prey. At the very least, it’s assuming I’m an idiot.

Three tentacles come towards me. One approaching from each side to try and catch me between them while a third comes from above.

It must think that it has me trapped. I can’t dodge to either side, I can’t jump up and over them, and I can’t jump back far enough in time to dodge their lengths since these three haven’t been cut yet.

I jump up and bark, “Spinning Slash!”

The three tentacles converge on me at the same time. Then, the three tentacles get severed at the same time as I take them all out with a single attack.

[Young Tower Treant took 23 damage!]

[Young Tower Treant took 22 damage!]

[Young Tower Treant took 22 damage!]

[Spinning Slash increased to rank 2!]

[Sword Proficiency increased to rank 4!]

[Severing Attack increased to rank 9!]

I hate these bastards and their tentacles so much that I made damn sure that I learned how to kill them with ease.

Now, time for that girl to put my lesson into practice.

“You’re up!” I bark, looking back at her as I jump out of the way from the next attack.

[Evasion increased to rank 9!]

About time that went up.

“I think I’ve got it now, Woofen,” Elanah says. “I’m not strong enough to cut through the bark on my own, but if I let them run into my blades on their own with all of their strength, then I can cut them.”

With her blades drawn, she severs the next two tentacles that come flying at her by simply positioning her blades in a way so that the tentacles crash directly into them.

A third one almost catches her off guard from the side, but she leans backward enough to duck under it and cut it before it can get away.

All of its tentacles have been severed at this point. Now, we just have to move in closer, repeat the process, move in closer, repeat the process, and then it won’t have anything left to attack us with unless it decides to try and fall on us.

If this was a stronger treant then it would be able to use its roots to spring surprise attacks from underneath us, but it’s not evolved enough for that.

As for Snow, she’s just staring at me when I look back at her. She looks pretty… impressed?

Maybe it’s because this is the first time that she’s seen me actually fight. That previous encounter didn’t count.

“It’s working, Woofen!” Elanah announces, looking back at me with a wide smile.

Dumbass.

She already stepped close enough that what is left of the tentacles can reach her.

“Move!” I bark.

But she’s not going to be able to move fast enough.

Then, faster than I can even blink with an accompanying flash of light, Snow appears with her shield to block the tentacles about to collide into Elanah. That’s not even mentioning the crack of lightning I just heard.

The fuck?

But Snow was just – how? How the fuck did she get over there that damn fast?

She did move pretty fast back then to defend Elanah from the orc’s club, too.

But that was nowhere near as fast as she must have just moved. This was something else entirely.

Hang on, are her feet glowing? No, they’re not. They’re… there’s lightning? It looks like sparks of lightning are flying off from around her feet.

Is that where that lightning crack came from?

It had to be a skill – it had to be magic.

Her face is covered in sweat now.

She looks like she’s either in pain or holding back. Either that skill must have hurt her since there’s no way the tentacles did or… using skills—or magic in general—must have a similar effect as harming others does to her.

At least she looks to be in control. She’s not raging and berserking or anything.

“Sorry,” Elanah says.

If there’s one thing to like about her, it’s that she immediately owns up to her mistakes.

I don’t even do that. I prefer hoping that everybody else either doesn’t notice them or forgets about them.

Rather than try to cut the tentacles on her own like before, Elanah waits for them to retract by themselves, attack again, and then lets them cut themselves against her blades.

Too bad this bastard has so much health. Even if we’re dealing good damage every single time we sever its tentacles, the sheer amount of health that it has makes the damage feel like nothing to it.

That’s why eliminating its way to defend itself and fight back first is important. We can take our time chopping its health down once that’s done with.

And that’s exactly what we do.

Tentacle.

[Young Tower Treant took 17 damage!]
After.

[Young Tower Treant took 19 damage!]
Tentacle.

[Young Tower Treant took 17 damage!]

Never learning, they cut themselves against our blades with every single attack that they attempt.

Eventually, once all it has left are nubs for tentacles that can’t even reach us, we reach its main body and are free to begin dealing with its stupid amount of health.

The two knots that serve as its eyes get stabbed through by Elanah’s blades.

It shakes its body around to try and escape, but it can’t.

There’s no escaping us now that we’ve reached it and took away its only way of defending itself.

The only problem now is how to kill it without dulling our blades too much.

To save our blades’ edges, the best option would be to pump it full of magical attacks. But, Elanah would run out of mana before she could kill it and I’d start a fire.

I wonder if I could bite it without wearing down my fangs too much? Plus, with Forceful Bite, biting deep enough to actually deal damage shouldn’t be an issue.

This would be a good time to increase that skill.

With one of its thick roots within my reach, I drop my sword, say, “Forceful Bite,” and latch on with my fangs.

[Young Tower Treant took 8 damage!]

I didn’t do much damage since the root is a relatively small part of its body, but… I did bite through it and break it in half.

These roots of it are the only parts I can easily reach with my mouth. I’d like to bite something that does more damage to it.

“Snow, tell Elanah to push it over for me,” I bark, pushing my paws up against the treant’s base.

“He says to… push it over,” Snow translates for me.

“Alright,” Elanah says, sheathing her blades so that she can push against the monster. “Can you help?”

Snow nods and joins in.

Between the three of us—though, I don’t think I’m actually helping much with what little bodyweight I have to offer pushing against the treant—the treant falls over onto its side and is in no way able to push itself back upright.

I’d feel bad for it if…

Actually, I can’t think of any circumstances in which I’d feel bad for it.

Time to increase Forceful Bite’s rank.

The side of its torso is right in front of me. It might be a bit hard to bite onto given how thick it is, but I’ll manage.

“Forceful Bite.”

[Young Tower Treant took 14 damage!]

[Forceful Bite increased to rank 5!]
“Forceful Bite.”

[Young Tower Treant took 18 damage!]
“Forceful Bite.”

[Young Tower Treant took 23 damage!]

Each bite takes me deeper into the side of its body. Since my fangs are able to tear away any of its bark that they bite through, I can just keep biting into it, spitting out the wood I get in my mouth, and then going back in for another bite.

“Forceful Bite.”

[Young Tower Treant took 29 damage!]

The important thing about getting deeper into its body is that I’m dealing more damage. Even if it doesn’t have internal organs or anything like that, it’s still going to take more damage when attacked at its core rather than having a stray tentacle or root damaged.

“Forceful Bite.”

[Young Tower Treant took 36 damage!]

Only my tail is sticking out from its side now.

At least this is better than digging my way into a rat’s neck.

One more time should do the trick.

“Forceful Bite.”

[Young Tower Treant slain!]

[Forceful Bite increased to rank 6!]

[Underdog increased to rank 7!]

[Sadistic Methods increased to rank 2!]

Wasn’t expecting that last skill there to increase in rank as well, but I’ll take it.

Whatever is left of the monster’s shortened tentacles fall limp to the ground, its roots stop moving, and the branches sticking out from the top of its body wither away.

It might not have seemed like it, but that was pretty close with what almost happened to Elanah.

Those tentacles could have easily wrapped around her, immobilized her, and then kill her by either snapping her neck or constricting so tightly around it that her neck would get crushed.

That all could have happened within seconds of being grabbed by the tentacles. But, Snow was there to protect her.

“Tell her to never fucking turn her back on anything with that sort of reach again,” I bark for Snow while scooting myself backwards out of the wannabe tree’s corpse.

“He… says to be careful against enemies with long reaches. Don’t turn your back on them,” Snow translates.

Close enough.

I’m also noticing more now that she speaks way slower and more carefully when she’s talking to Elanah than she does when talking to me. So, I guess that I really do just understand her better thanks to that skill of hers. I also guess I’ll never get to hear the full extent of her accent nor how she might struggle with pronouncing words in our language.

At least the monster is dead.

“Ask her how much her Severing Attack skill ranked up,” I bark.

Snow repeats my question for Elanah.

“It’s at rank nine now,” Elanah answers, reaching down to scratch me behind my ear.

I’ve learned to just not even fight back against this. It feels good, so I might as well let her give me some service that I enjoy.

“And thanks,” Elanah says, still facing me but with her eyes looking toward Snow.

Though, it’s not like Snow can actually see Elanah’s eyes from where she’s standing.

“She’s talking to you, by the way,” I bark at Snow.

“Eh?” Snow asks.

“What?” Elanah asks now.

“Were you… talking to me?”

“Yeah.”

“A-ah. It’s – it is not anything to thank me for.”

I wonder if she sounds so monotone right now because she’s trying hard to pronounce the words properly.

“You protected me. Again. So… thanks. What was that skill you used?”

“Ah – it was… ‘Lightning Jump.’”

“Lightning Jump?”

Snow nods.

“Can you use it again?”

“I can, but… why?”

“I didn’t get a good look at it before. I want to see it again. If it uses too much mana or special points then it’s—”

Snow shakes her head and says, “It is alright.”

She looks to the far end of the room.

Without saying a word, Snow leaps – or rather, it’s more like she fucking flies from one end of the room to the other with a bolt of lightning carrying her to her destination. The light is blinding and the sound is almost deafening.

Then, just as easily, she comes back using the same skill.

So, not only does she have something like that, but she has to have Mental Trigger to be using trigger skills like that without calling them out.

“Wow. I’ve never seen a skill like that before. Is it magic?” Elanah asks.

Snow nods. “Lightning magic. It was taught to me when I was a child so that… so that I could win against the other kids when they wanted to race.”

I’m guessing her dad must have taught it to her.

He does sound like he was a pretty good father.

“Sounds fun,” Elanah says. “I never knew my dad. N-not that I’m trying to make you feel guilty or anything. It’s just that… I guess I’m a little jealous, but I’m happy for you, too?”

So, this girl can be shy when it comes to thanking the person who saved her, but can talk more easily about how she never knew her dad and admit that she’s jealous?

I don’t understand abyssals.

I don’t understand women.

I definitely don’t understand abyssal women.

“Woofen is – Woofen is the closest to a dad I’ve ever had…”

And that’s definitely not something to be admitting to! It’s not even something that you should be thinking, you crazy abyssal!

How far is she going to take this?! Not only am I a puppy, but she wants my dick, wants to treat me like a pet, and also sees me as a father figure?! I’ve been with paid women who liked to call me daddy before, but that was always a bit much for me. I had to pretend they were just speaking some foreign language that sounded like daddy but actually wasn’t.

Or I just had to muffle them with a pillow.

I swear if this crazy board starts calling me daddy.

“That’s weird though… right?” Elanah asks. “Ehehe…”

Yes, yes it is!

“No,” Snow says.

Damn it, Snow! I thought you’d be more normal than this board!

“Zurie said he used to be an older human, so… it makes sense,” Snow explains.

That barely makes it any better! Elanah probably felt this way before she even had that revealed to her!

“Yeah, I guess it’s not weird,” Elanah says.

Damn it, no! It is weird!

“Maybe that’s part of why it feels like we’re fated by destiny to be together,” Elanah says, scratching behind my ears still.

Sure, I’m thinking that she’s crazy right now and am internally cringing upon hearing the “fated” and “destiny” words again, but I’m not going to stop letting her scratch me.

“Destiny? I was always taught to trust in destiny – that there is no fighting against fate,” Snow says.

Ah, fuck.

This woman is going to enable Elanah’s delusional fantasies.

Elanah smiles and looks up at Snow to say, “Right? I might not be a full abyssal elf, but I still know how important those are. Everything is determined by them. People might try to fight against them, but… they never win.”

Says the girl who has been doing a pretty kickass job of forcing her way through life so far. Seriously, is she just going to attribute all of her accomplishments to fate and destiny? Is there even a difference between those words?

Either way, it pisses me off. I hate when people don’t take credit for their own accomplishments. To be attributing her status to that bullshit instead of acknowledging that it’s her own strength that got her this far and nothing else… that pisses me off.

Nobody called “Fate” taught her how to live on the streets and scrap by. Nobody called “Destiny” taught her how to take care of a bunch of kids. Nobody but herself taught her those things. Nobody but herself killed those two men she lured into the tower to kill and steal from.

Fate and destiny my ass.

That’s what cowards hide behind when they’re afraid they might actually be responsible for their own actions instead of everything being predetermined.

Damn it. I am nowhere near drunk enough to be thinking about this. Besides, I’m not smart enough for this sort of philosophical shit. I’ll leave that to those random men with too much facial hair with nothing better to do than sit around and talk for hours about useless shit.

All I know is that I’m seriously annoyed now from hearing them justify everything with fate and destiny.

Would Snow appreciate it if I told her that it was her father’s destiny to die in a fire? Yeah, I bet she wouldn’t.

I’m half-tempted to ask her that right now. But… I’d rather not be a giant asshole to somebody I’m going to be stuck in the tower with. I especially don’t want to be a giant asshole to somebody who’s the daughter of the Chaos Demon.

Whatever. I can keep my snout shut.

I mean, I can keep my mouth shut.

Damn it, I’m starting to think like a damn dog, too.

Unfortunately, Elanah stops scratching behind my ears. Fortunately, she goes to get the rest of the fruits from that tree she was gathering from before the monster popped up and interrupted us.

“Here,” she says, tossing one of them to Snow.

Snow catches it with ease and examines it.

“I – I have not had a fruit in a long time,” Snow says.

“Doesn’t Zurie ever buy any?”

Snow shakes her head. “She buys chocolate and meat.”

“I did see tons of chocolate. Maybe she’s trying to live off of chocolate instead of blood?” Elanah asks with a little laugh.

Even Snow cracks a smile at the question.

Are these girls actually bonding now? Things seemed pretty awkward at the start, but it sounds like they might be getting along better now.

Good. I hate being in awkward situations.

“Did you know your mother?” Snow asks.

And here we go. That’s one fucking hell of an awkward conversation starter.

And fucking random.

I doubt that Elanah is going to have a non-awkward response to—

“Yeah,” she answers. “But not for long.”

“Zurie is the closest I’ve had to a mother. I was told that my birth mother died shortly after giving birth to me, so…”

“Is there a reason you wanted to know?”

“A-ah, sorry. I thought that since you maybe – ah, umm… sorry. I thought that,” she’s speaking slowly and calmly now, “since you did not know your father but I knew mine that maybe it would be opposite for us. Something like that. I guess that we are opposites in many ways.”

These girls are so damn weird.

“Yeah, I guess. I’m short, my skin and hair are dark, and,” Elanah pauses to look down at her chest with a disappointed sigh. Then she looks up at Snow and says, “You’re tall, your skin and hair are light, and,” she pauses again to look at Snow’s chest plate.

Snow might have some armor on with none of what is behind it being visible, but we can still tell that she’s got to have something there with how the plate bulges out some.

Then again, probably every other woman in existence has more to work with on their chest than Elanah.

“You had your dad, I had my mom. Woofen is like my dad, Zurie is like your mom. It’s… kind of like fate,” Elanah says, taking all of my enjoyment away from the fruit that I’m halfway through eating.

Please don’t tell me—

“We’re like opposites, but we both believe in fate and are both connected through Woofen, and… maybe – maybe we’re fated to know each other?”

I don’t fucking get it. Isn’t literally every single thing that happens “fated” if you believe in everything being a part of fate and destiny, you delusional board?! Everything is fated by your logic!

And why is Snow blushing?!

“Maybe… I think so,” Snow says.

I don’t fucking understand any of this.

I’m just going to turn around and eat my fruit while looking away from them.

There are many things that I don’t understand.

Elanah and Snow are two of those things.

“You haven’t eaten it yet?” Elanah asks.

“No. Is… it alright to bite into it?” Snow asks.

“Yeah. Why wouldn’t it be?”

“Bite through the skin?”

“That’s how you eat fruit.”

“I… always had fruit peeled. I was told it was the proper way to eat fruit.”

“We’re in the tower. Nobody cares about being proper down here.”

“Zurie told me I should always hold myself to high standards.”

“She’s not watching us. It doesn’t matter.”

“But…”

“You’re acting like some sort of noble kid who’s never been out in the world before.”

“…”

“Is… is that how it is?”

“Kind… of?”

“I’m not surprised. You look like one of those really pretty noble girls.”

“What? Pretty?”

“Yeah. There’s a difference between girls like us. The noble types always look really pretty and fancy and delicate and all that while the rest of us look… like this.”

Girl talk is so annoying.

“I – I think you are very pretty as well,” Snow says, bringing out that slow and calculated voice again.

“What? No way. I look like a boy and…”

I can only imagine that Elanah is looking at her chest again.

“…yeah, I seriously look like a boy.”

Seriously, stop stealing my favorite word, damn it.

“You don’t. Your eyes are – the word, umm… beautiful? And – and I wish that I was as small as you. Being this tall is horrible. And everybody always stares at me since they have never seen a girl this tall.”

“It might be because of the white hair.”

“They stare even when I wear a hood…”

“Oh. W-well… even if you’re tall, that means you have a longer reach, don’t have to jump or stand on chairs to reach anything, and all that.”

“It means a lot of bending over and backpain.”

“I – I didn’t think of that before.”

“And your – ah, your… chest. I wish I was – mine are always getting in the way and hurt when they’re in my armor, and… I think they look better like yours.”

“No way. Besides, I know that Woofen likes them bigger.”

I can feel her stare even if I’m not looking her way.

“I’m sure you can win him over without that,” Snow says, trying to sound encouraging.

“It doesn’t matter. The point was that there’s no way I could be as pretty as somebody like you.”

“And my point was that you are prettier!”

“Would ya both shut up about it?” I bark. “You’re both fucking pretty, damn it. Just shut up and let me enjoy my fruit in peace. ‘Oh, you’re so pretty.’ ‘Oh, no, you’re prettier.’ Fuck, shut up.”

I couldn’t hold it in any longer.

“What – what’d he say?” Elanah asks.

“He… told us to be quiet because we are both pretty and he wants to eat his fruit in peace,” Snow translates.

“Re-really? Woofen – Woofen called me pretty?”

Of course that’s all the board took away from that.

“Who does he think is prettier?” Elanah asks.

For fuck’s sake.

“You’re equal,” I bark.

I’m not going to deal with either of them being upset that the other supposedly looks prettier.

“He said we’re equal,” Snow says.

“Seriously? He – he thinks that I’m as pretty as somebody like you?” Elanah asks. “You’re not lying, are you? You can actually understand him, right? Woofen, can you – can you look at me and nod if she’s telling the truth?”

I.

Just.

Want.

To.

Eat.

My.

Fruit.

Damn.

It.

I turn to look at her and nod.

Then, the next instant, my half-eaten fruit is knocked out of the way as Elanah basically tackles me to cuddle me on the ground.

“Woofen, you know that it’s not good to get me this excited when others are around,” Elanah lustfully whines with a giggle. “Are you trying to make me assault you? You’re going to seriously make me do it. How am I supposed to resist you when you’re so perfect and flirting with me?”

“I’m not flirting, damn it! Snow! Tell her to let go of me! I want my fruit!” I bark.

Unfortunately, Snow ends up being useless. She’s too busy holding her hands over her mouth with blushing cheeks as she watches Elanah roll around with me, one of her hands slowly sliding farther underneath my torso.

What has my life come to?

Why am I here?

Am I here just to suffer as Elanah’s thing to play with?

“Woooofffeennnn,” Elanah giggles, pinning me down onto my back as she stares down at me.

I swear that I can see hearts in her eyes.

Crazed, deranged hearts.

“It’s okay, right? We both want it, right?” she asks.

I gulp.

Fuck it. She’s right. I was frustrated earlier from how pent-up I am due to never just letting Elanah do what she wants with me. I don’t care about the fruit anymore. I don’t care if Snow is here watching.

Right now, as the thirty-three-year-old human man that I am, I need to just let it happen.

I nod my head which makes her smile even wider and then—

“Hey! Didn’t think anybody else would be down here. You guys know what happened in that tunnel? Looked like a fire or something went through there,” an annoying voice shouts from the distance.

Elanah is quick to sit back up straight and turn me over.

Looks like some random party of five adventurers or so just decided to come in here at the worst fucking possible moment.

Damn it. We went all that time without seeing any other adventurers and this is when they decide to show up and remind us of their annoying existences.

I’m so disappointed.

So seriously, seriously fucking disappointed.

This is easily in my top ten most annoying moments list now.

“Seriously annoying,” Elanah whines under her breath.

Between her trying to be a thief and using my favorite word all the time… maybe there is some merit to me being like a father to her.

But I’d rather not think about that.

Besides, there’s no way that…

Well, we did have sex before I never saw her again, and she was an abyssal.

That was, what, four years before I died? And then it was fourteen years between when I died and when I was reincarnated as a puppy.

So…

Yeah, no. There’s no way. Not only is that just illogical, but I refuse to believe that it might be even slightly true.

Besides, even if it is true…

New body, new me.

32