[Vol. 2 pt. 13]
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Today's release is split into two different chapters.

2/2

[Twentieth Floor Boss

Rooted Shadowvine

Level 35 Dark Treant]

[The room will close in ten seconds.]

Uh…

What?

Apparently… there is a hybrid of the two bosses I knew about.

I knew that this floor had a plant-themed boss and a stealth-themed boss.

I had no idea that a hybrid between the two exists.

This hybrid looks like a pretty standard treant at least. It’s twice the height of a grown man with a humanoid shape, but its arms and legs are as thick as the trunks of young trees.

Well, that’s about where the “looks like a pretty standard treant” ends. The rest doesn’t look so standard.

A normal treant would have its tendrils come out from the palms of its “hands.” It would also have a mossy beard and hair.

Instead, this treant’s “hands” are covered in vines with red thorns all over them. And, instead of having moss for a beard and hair, that’s where its roots – its tentacles are.

And the tentacles are split between either having one giant thorn at their tips or having blunted tips but with smaller thorns covering them.

Aside from that, its bark is a mixture of black and purple instead of brown and browner.

There is one good thing, though.

It seems like, since it’s a hybrid, it isn’t going to be as strong in any particular field. It is thinner and slightly shorter than a regular treant and the room isn’t full of suffocating plants, though it does have some still. It also lacks the poison-coated weapons and backup that it would have if it was the stealth-focused goblin boss.

So it might have some of both worlds, but it isn’t the best at either of them.

But it’s still dangerous.

“Be careful and get ready to combine the strategies I said earlier,” I bark at Snow whom repeats it to the others.

“What tactics?” Vysan asks.

Shit. I forgot to fill him in on the potential bosses before coming in here.

Well, at least Snow and Elanah know.

“Tell him to stay back at first and watch how we deal with it,” I bark.

He looks conflicted about staying in the back when he’s the tank, but he nods.

Damn, obedience is nice.

This must be how that vampire feels having so many people who listen to her all the time.

“Ready, Woofen?” Elanah asks.

I ready my sword and nod.

All we have to do is find its “heart” and this should be easy.

I take the lead in charging forward.

The moment I get close enough, five tentacles from its “beard” shoot toward us. These are the ones covered in small thorns instead of having the thorns at their tips, so we have to be careful not to get wrapped up by them.

This bastard probably wants to wrap us up with these smaller tentacles to poison us with the thorns before using the bigger tentacles to stab us with the larger thorns at their tips. Those thorns are as big as my head… so I’d rather not get stabbed by those.

All I have to do is—

All I have to do is find where the fucking tentacles just went.

The bases of the tentacles are still there at the bastard’s face, but the rest of their lengths disappeared!

Five invisible tentacles are swinging around somewhere and we can’t see them.

So, this bastard isn’t turning itself invisible. It’s turning its tentacles invisible instead.

Fighting one hidden opponent is difficult but not impossible.

Fighting multiple hidden opponents, which invisible tentacles might as well be, is far fucking harder.

But not impossible.

I look over at Elanah before very obviously looking down at the jar of mixed poison on her hip before looking back up at her eyes.

She nods and sheaths her blades.

Popping the lid off of the jar, she gets in front of me and swings the jar in a motion that splashes its contents out in a cone in front of us.

It probably isn’t going to poison the bastard through its tentacles.

But it is going to reveal where they are.

This strategy worked with finding that patrol of hounds that ambushed us and now it’s working again.

We can tell where the tentacles are by the liquid that seems to be dripping off of nothing.

“Void Missile!” Elanah shouts.

Her spell, aimed at where some of the liquid is dripping from, shoots straight through one of the invisible tentacles.

A chunk of vine-tentacle falls onto the ground after being separated from the rest of its invisible length.

Damn.

That was some nice aim. It was invisible with only a little to go off of, and she landed a ranged spell on it.

And while its main body might be too resistant against magic for that to be effective, the vulnerable tentacles aren’t.

So, if that’s the case…

I jump back to bark at Snow, “Tell her to use that combo spell of hers at the base of the tentacles!”

Elanah, after having the order translated, shoots another spell at the boss’s face.

If she uses Void Missile and then Voidal Collapse right at the base of the tentacles, she might be able to sever all of the smaller tentacles at once.

But the boss isn’t stupid enough to let us do that.

Before her spell can ever reach the base of the tentacles, it cuts through one tentacle and then disappears.

The bastard was smart enough to sacrifice one to save the rest.

Not only that, but now it’s charging at us.

Every step that it takes shakes the floor.

“Keep distance!” I bark.

Instead of attacking us with the tentacles as it approaches, it’s swinging those tentacles around to shake all the liquid off of them.

At least that strategy helped us get rid of two of them. Those two that got their lengths severed are dripping water now wherever they are, so those two may as well not even be hidden anymore. The other three, though, are back to being fully hidden now that the poison has been shaken off.

We can’t even circle the bastard since he’s got another set of fresh tentacles behind it.

Fuck, I hate monsters with tentacles.

Too bad I probably couldn’t evolve to have tentacles. I’d use them to get revenge on all of the other annoying bastards with them.

But since I don’t have tentacles, I have to use what I do have.

Fire would make this easy.

The problem is that this room does still have plants all throughout it. They might not be as dense as they would be if the boss wasn’t a hybrid between the two themes, but there is still enough that fire could easily spread and overwhelm us.

It would be suicide.

Unless…

That would work.

But it would mean bringing a lot of bad memories back for Snow.

She might want to get past her trauma, and Zurie might be expecting it, but… am I really enough of an asshole to do something like that? The action itself wouldn’t be an asshole move at all, but knowing what it’s going to do to her makes it one.

At the very least, we can prepare it as a backup plan in case we can’t figure out a better, but more difficult, way of killing the boss.

While the boss focuses on following Elanah, I drop my sword to bark back at the others. “Clear out a large area by the door! Cut all the plants and grass down as much as ya can!”

For once, Snow draws her sword so that her and Vysan can chop the plants down.

Now, how else can we deal with this bastard without resorting to traumatizing Snow and almost suffocating the rest of us? Even if we don’t suffocate, the air in this room would get extremely hot.

I really don’t want to resort to that.

If I’m going to traumatize a girl, it’s going to be from accidentally throwing up on her after drinking too much.

And I still feel bad about that even though it’s damn hilarious, too.

Now, if we can just find where its heart is, coming up with a plan will be easier.

So, where the fuck is it?

It’s nowhere obvious on its front, back, or sides.

I’m thinking that it’s either got to be under where its tentacles are, under its oversized “feet,” or… the only other place that it could be is in its armpits and I doubt that a treant has its fucking heart in its armpits.

Wherever it is, it’s going to be a pain to reach.

“Void Missile!” Elanah tries again.

This time, the bastard steps to the side to avoid the attack.

Stepping to the side might have worked but, with how heavy this bastard is, it lost all forward momentum it had.

If we can just deal with its tentacles then—

What’s it doing?

The boss turns to face me and swings one of its arms down into the ground.

The force behind the swing is enough to break open its arms, sending splinters flying, and… it looks like dozens of much smaller tentacles – roots, are pouring out from the inside of its now-broken arm.

And they’re sliding into the dirt.

I jump backward just in time to dodge the dozens of tentacles shooting up from underneath where I just stood.

They don’t look dangerous at all, but they’d definitely be able to restrict me if they wrapped around me.

Good thing I guessed it was going to try something like that.

Now, while they’re still here, I swing my sword through them to cut off what’s still sticking out from the ground.

[Rooted Shadowvine took 7 damage!]

Yeah, barely any damage. Given that these are just tiny roots and I only severed parts of them… that might as well not have even counted as an attack.

But every little bit of damage we deal will lead up to its death.

“Void Missile!” Elanah shouts once again, this time aiming her spell at its arm held down to the ground.

Smart, Elanah. Seriously smart.

Either the bastard lets her deal with all of those smaller tentacles or it intercepts it with one of the bigger tentacles. Either way, it won’t be able to just dodge out of the way. It is going to lose more tentacles.

And it seems like it’s going to let the smaller tentacles take the attack.

The moment her spell reaches the smaller tentacles, Elanah shouts, “Voidal Collapse!”

The black spike from Void Missile collapses into itself, bringing surrounding bark from the bastard’s arm and all of the tentacles with it.

Barely any of the bark was lost from its arm, but all of those small tentacles got their connection to the arm severed.

Unfortunately…

Like the bastard wants to taunt us, it extends the tentacles out to show that it can still reach far with them.

That’s why it didn’t care about her spell reaching them.

There is way more to their lengths inside of its body whereas its bigger tentacles are more limited.

“Woofen! It’s cleared!” Vysan shouts.

I jump up a bit to look over all the plants between us and see that, yeah, him and Snow cleared out the area around the door. They cut down all the plants and moved them away.

“Can I help now?” he shouts.

I nod and return my attention to the boss.

Now, we still need to find out how to—

“Shield Charge!”

Vysan was just standing over by the door.

Now he’s jumping up and slamming his shield into the boss’s face.

The boss takes a step back and looks stunned.

All of its tentacles become visible.

So, stunning it reveals its tentacles…

Alright. I’ll make more use of this guy. After all, the point of bringing him along was to help us out.

But if he stays in melee distance of the boss, he’s going to get overwhelmed by all of those tentacles.

Elanah and I look at each other again, nodding at the other.

She goes for the tentacles behind it and I go for those at the front.

She manages to cut off two of the tentacles behind it before it gets out of its stun. I only get one tentacle cut off since they’re more spread out, but now it only has two tentacles left uninjured in front of it.

“Not yet! Shield Bash!” Vysan shouts.

He bashes the boss in the face with his shield again… and stuns it again.

This stun won’t last as long as the next and the boss will be immune after this, so me and Elanah are quick to cut more of its tentacles.

It only has one tentacle left in the back now. Elanah was able to get close enough to cut most of them close to their bases, too.

There’s still one more perfect tentacle left in the front, and the other four were severed at points where they’ve still got enough length to be swung around as weapons. They just can’t fully extend anymore.

Out of the stun, the boss swings its right arm toward Vysan.

Vysan blocks the attack with his shield but still gets sent sliding back through the dirt.

“Shit… that felt like it almost broke my arm. I can’t block attacks from its arms,” Vysan tells us.

With how large those arms are and how powerful those swings look, it makes sense.

That average-looking shield of Vysan’s won’t be enough to safely block those attacks.

However, it’s still perfect to block against the tentacles that lash out at him.

“Found it!” Elanah shouts. “There’s a knot on the back of its head! Under the vines!”

Shit. So it is back there.

She’s the only one who’s going to be able to reach it unless somebody throws me up there. Even then, she’d have to jump up high which would leave her vulnerable to an attack.

If only we could rely on Snow to help us deal damage. She could get in there with an instant with her magic and then get out.

The boss begins to turn to face her when Vysan shouts, “Where do you think you’re looking? I’m down here! Taunt!”

Rather than look at Elanah, the boss snaps its attention back to Vysan and swings another arm at him which he jumps out of the way with.

I never have liked incantation-activated skills, but Taunt is a damn useful one.

Plus I’ve seen some people get pretty damn creative with their taunts before. The better the taunt, the more effective it is.

The skill’s rank also helps.

Now, the boss wraps its last good tentacle in front of it around Vysan’s sword arm.

But it seems like that is what Vysan was hoping for.

The thorns aren’t sharp enough to pierce the metal armor he’s wearing, so he drops his word and spins his arm around a bit to get even more of the tentacle wrapped around it.

No, he’s doing that to pull the rest of the tentacle’s length out.

He’s making sure to get as much of the tentacle out from the bastard’s body.

“Here!” Vysan shouts, holding his arm out in my direction.

He ducks out of the way from one of the attacking arms.

I like this bastard.

I jump up and cut through the tentacle that he’s pulled out.

[Rooted Shadowvine took 25 damage!]

All that the boss has left in front of it now are the four injured tentacles. They’re dangerous since they still have thorns around them, but they’ve been shrinking and slowing ever since we cut them.

Vysan picks his sword back up just in time to roll away from the next swing of the boss’s arm. He immediately swings his sword into the arm after getting back up, but he doesn’t make more than a small cut into the bark protecting the arm.

His best bet would be to try and stab his arm into one of the split sections on the boss’s other arm – the arm that it used to spread those small roots from.

The boss re-hides its remaining tentacles just before Elanah is able to cut the last one off behind it.

Our best shot at defeating it without setting the entire room on fire is by going after its heart, but it just had to have a heart in such a pain-in-the-ass location.

The boss swings its arm down to the ground again.

Both me and Vysan have the same idea and stab our swords into the split arm.

[Rooted Shadowvine took 31 damage!]

Hopefully, the coating on our swords will be enough to affect it since we managed to stab a vulnerable spot.

Now, before it can wrap me up in its tentacles, I jump out of the way again.

But the dirt never looks like any tentacles come out of it.

Instead, they’ve all popped up underneath Vysan and have wrapped around his ankles.

Neither of us can cut the tentacles off in time for him to get out of the way of the boss’s next attack.

Its other arm is swinging down towards Vysan’s side.

Vysan twists around to try and block with the shield, but—

A crack of lightning deafens us as Snow appears to block the attack.

The attack that sent Vysan sliding back doesn’t even budge Snow.

She might not be capable of dealing damage, but damn if she doesn’t make a great shield.

Together, me and Vysan chop away all of the tentacles that have surrounded his ankles as the boss tries and fails to push through Snow.

Meanwhile, the last tentacle from the back of its head falls to the ground.

Now, with the boss’s arm to the ground and its other arm distracted with Snow, this is the perfect time for Elanah to strike.

She jumps up and brings both of her swords down toward the back of the boss’s head where its “heart” is.

Directly attacking it won’t immediately kill the boss, but it’ll do a ton of damage.

Both of her blades stab into the back of its head.

At the same time, Vysan swings his sword to cut what’s left of the tentacles in the front by their bases.

Each tentacle becomes visible as they fall to the ground.

The boss shakes Elanah off before using all of its force, both of its arms, to push Snow back.

We surround it to watch what’s going to happen now that its creaking and cracking all over.

It’s obvious that something is going to happen.

The boss lifts its arms and each one cracks open to reveal hundreds of those tentacle-like roots.

Then its legs crack open to reveal the same.

And now its torso.

There are easily thousands of those roots sticking out from the inside of its body.

It’s… kind of gross since they kind of look like worms. It looks like there are thousands of long, wiggling worms sticking out of its body.

Seriously gross.

And now… those “worms” are all invisible.

But only for a few seconds.

The boss drops to its knees and the roots become visible again. Each one is going limp and turning black, shriveling up and falling to the ground.

Damn, the combined coating on our weapons must be more effective than I thought it would be. It helps that Elanah directly injected it into the back of its head, and me and Vysan were both able to get some into its arm.

Being a hybrid boss might also mean that it’s lacking in resistance to poison and venom. Our mixture is strong enough that it would have even managed to slightly affect one of the other potential bosses despite their high resistances. So, if this boss has a lower resistance, then it’s really going to be fucked.

“Get its head again while it’s down!” I bark.

Snow passes the message on to Elanah and Vysan since they can both actually reach the back of its head.

Elanah and Vysan stab their blades, all three, into the back of the boss’s head at once.

With that, the boss falls forward.

Dead.

The window pops up to notify me and Vysan breathes a sigh of relief.

We won. The only damage we took was Vysan’s arm almost breaking. Without Snow, though, he might have gotten seriously fucked by that attack.

Bosses are so much damn easier with an actual party.

The tenth floor’s boss was five times harder than this bastard.

Shit. This boss might have been annoying to kill, but it was easy.

The thirtieth floor’s boss might end up being just as easy with the four of us.

For now… time to look at the rewards from killing this bastard.

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