Shin noticed Schnee was looking at him and nodded to her.
In order to get rid of any possible concerns, they activated magic spells to destroy the monster’s remaining parts.
Schnee targeted the gradually melting arms, Shin the still immobile lower body.
The arms were frozen and shattered, leaving nothing behind. The result was different for the lower body however: Shin’s 【Blue Erosion】 ice spears were deflected before they could hit.
The unprecedented phenomenon gave Shin a bad premonition. He focused his magic power and tried casting a more powerful spell, but something happened before he could.
The magma was drained through the ground, just like water sucked in by sand.
“Did you see anything?”
“Just for a split second, but the name was all buggy.”
No monster response could be found in the ground. The party regrouped for the time being and Shin asked Milt if she had discovered anything.
“Did you see anything from there?”
“Nothing, I’m afraid. Number 43’s presence grew fainter actually. It has not disappeared completely, but…”
Shin also asked Gelganger, which had remained on the castle walls, but its answer was similar to Milt’s. The fact that the Guardian’s presence had grown weaker was also concerning.
“So, what do— ”
Before Shin could finish his sentence, something — an inexplicable sensation — made him turn around.
Yuzuha had probably felt the same: she hopped on his shoulder, her ears twitching.
“What’s this feeling…”
“Milt, can you feel it too?”
“You too, Shin? It feels like…something is pulling my whole body. It’s just weird.”
“Yeah, I also feel like something’s tugging at me.”
Shin recalled what he experienced at the Kalkia Sacred Place.
That time too, he felt something was pulling him. The feeling was weaker this time, but they were in a Sacred Place, just like then.
Moreover, since Milt reported the same sensation, Shin concluded that it probably only affected players.
By that logic, Tiera might have been affected too, but in her case, she had only inherited a player’s abilities.
Shin told Milt about his similar experience and told her to be careful.
“I see, so I suppose we have to rely on that golden light that came out of your body?”
“I don’t know what that was either though. It was colored gold at that time, but when we fought Ishkar it was purple…”
Shin did not remember clearly what happened but he trusted what Schnee and the others reported seeing.
“Then, we shouldn’t count on that.”
“That’s right. Oh, looks like break time’s over.”
A monster presence appeared in the ground, directly under where the Guardian’s lower body was sucked in. Before Shin and the others could attempt to attack, the presence smashed through the ground and revealed itself.
As the cloud of dust and sand dissipated, a burning hot human-like figure appeared.
The bright red color was probably caused by the fact that the monster’s body was made of magma. The shape was different, but they could clearly see magma flowing on the monster’s surface.
The monster’s hands and feet were both equipped with thick and sharp hooked claws.
On its back were two sets of L-shaped protrusions, longer than its arms, which sort of looked like wings.
The monster’s face resembled a flaming skull. It only had one eye cavity, however, which hosted a glowing object of clearly different nature from magma.
— Anguaini Level 930 %X# rank Demon
【Analyze】 revealed the enemy’s data. The first to react to its name was Milt.
“Whoa, this is weird. The Anguaini I know wasn’t like this at all.”
“The rank is bugged out, and the level’s totally different too.”
Both Shin and Milt visualized the Demon’s rank as a jumbled mess. That was not the real reason why they were surprised of course.
The Demon of Flames Anguaini was a relatively well-known monster in THE NEW GATE, because of how frequently it could be encountered.
It was a Demon with low rank and level, which appeared in most if not all Demon-related events: in other words, Demon mob.
Something any player with decent equipment and level could defeat. That was Anguaini’s position. It also existed in every elemental version: the water Anguaini, wind Anguaini, and so on.
It had short limbs and a roundish body, as it had been designed to be a sort of mascot for the Demons. It was normally far from level 900, nor did it look like the monster Shin and the others were currently facing.
“Looks like we’ve finally found our real target.”
“So the battle just now was a test of strength, or maybe it needed time to get ready?”
Schnee and the others faced the searing winds emanating from Anguaini, weapons in hand.
“If its weak points didn’t change, we should target the eye. But they might have changed, so watch it carefully! We don’t know what attacks it’ll use either, so— ”
Before Shin could finish his sentence, his instincts ordered him to jump high in the air. Over a beam of searing hot flames.
After breaking out of the ground, Anguaini had been floating still in midair, but right before the attack its eye had turned towards Shin and glared.
Shin instinctively felt that he was the target and blocked the beam with his shield’s barrier.
The beam struck the barrier diagonally, chipping away at it as it was deflected. The barrier’s endurance decreased by about 40%.
“(Make sure you dodge that beam! It took off almost half of my shield!)”
Shin’s shield, while not as sturdy as Shibaid’s 『Great Shell Shield of Collision』, was considerably powerful.
Compared to the barely humanoid creature they were fighting until minutes prior, the speed and offensive power of the current enemy’s long-range attacks were a whole nother level of strength.
Shibaid stood in front of Schnee and the others and raised his shield without hesitation.
Even if the monster did not actually target Shin, Shibaid would have surely blocked the attack. Shin trusted him completely, so he followed his instincts and jumped.
“It just fired out of the blue…such speed and power are truly dangerous. Tiera, Sety, attack from behind Shibaid. Filma and I will assist Shin.”
Schnee gave instructions while running. Anguaini’s eye was still fixated on Shin.
“If only we had more things to hide behind!”
“Complaining will not do us any good. I shall take all of its attacks, so cover Shin and the others as much as you can.”
Even while grumbling, Sety was chanting her next spell. Tiera, on Kagerou, prepared her next arrow as well.
Shin, after a glance to see how the others were doing, faced Anguaini.
He was descending after the jump, but the eye never let him out of its sight. Shin could clearly feel the hostility it radiated.
That was not all it expressed, however. Unlike other Demons, Shin could also feel a sort of euphoria towards fighting.
Shin thought of waiting for an opening to attack, but no beams came his way. Instead, the monster roared. A vibration powerful enough to make his whole body shudder as it ripped through the air.
The monster raised its hooked arms, staring at Shin, as it wanted to express that the real battle was going to start now.
“Here we go.”
If Shin kept falling like that, Shibaid and the others would be affected by the monster’s attack too. He activated 【Flying Shadow】 instead, to jump through the air in Anguaini’s direction.
He could have waited for Sety’s support fire, but Shin could somehow tell that Anguaini’s roar forcibly canceled half of the spells in its range, even if it couldn’t actually see Sety’s group.
Anguaini refused to look at anyone but Shin, so there was no need to draw its attention.
Shin realized this but also thought that it would be troublesome if Anguaini’s beam targeted anyone other than him or Shibaid, so he decided to close in on the monster.
Anguaini welcomed his approach with a sweep of its hooked claws. Because of its massive size, just one of the claws was larger than Shin’s body.
The sweep was tremendously fast, as expected from the monster’s level. Shin could have dodged it, but decided to block instead.
Shin’s katana tore through the claws, with the sound of grinding metal. If he couldn’t use Skills to keep himself in the air, however, he would have surely been blown away by the momentum.
Shin had raised his katana over his head before crossing against Anguaini’s claws.
The blade was indeed cutting through the monster’s claws, but it was certainly not as easy as a hot knife going through butter.
Shin had used a katana specialized against Flame elemental enemies, the 『Ryujin Touka』.
As the name suggested, it was a katana with a beautifully sinuous blade, just like flowing water, around which danced petal-shaped ice ribbons.
It reduced Flame elemental damage against the user and caused additional damage to Flame elemental enemies: it was a bane for such enemies, through and through.
Because of this specialization, its sharpness was slightly lower than other Ancient grade weapons, but it usually wouldn’t be an issue.
The current enemy was a Flame elemental one, so the katana’s sharpness was naturally higher than the norm.
Anguaini’s claws, however, were sturdy enough to show considerable resistance even to a weapon it should be weak against.
“(Time to do our part!)”
“(Please lead the way, Filma.)”
Filma and Schnee attacked Anguaini from the rear, respectively from its left and right sides.
Filma’s 『Red Moon』 flashed intermittently with a semi-transparent blue light. Her sword’s blade seemed to have grown in size: it was the Sword/Water Combination Skill 【Lagoon Edge】.
It caused continuous Water elemental damage from the wound it created and could also lower the target’s temperature: if the enemy was a high-temperature monster, it would slow down its movements.
Schnee followed the blue slash with a crescent-shaped blade of ice, 【Glacial White Arc】, a Skill that could freeze the wound it caused.
Anguaini was still glaring at Shin. Filma and Schnee’s blades were about to strike when something ripped through the air and deflected them.
“(Pretty good aim for a single-eyed beast.)”
“(Those are not just for show, evidently.)”
The Skills were intercepted by the protrusions on Anguaini’s back.
The membrane wing-like objects extended for roughly half of the monster’s height: they had moved independently, each stopping one of the slashes.
The protrusions had a shape close to curved blades: the size of such “wing blades” was impressive enough to suggest that they could cleave the average player or support character in two.
The two pairs of wing blades continued defending the body against Schnee and Filma’s attacks.
The wing blade that blocked Filma’s 【Lagoon Edge】 was torn to half its size and turned black.
The Skill’s effect had likely lowered the monster’s temperature: the wing blade that met 【Glacial White Arc】 was two-thirds frozen, its movements dulled.
They were going to fall with the next attack.
I’m going to smash them with the next attack.
So the two thought, right before the wing blades underwent a transformation.
The discolored part instantly returned to its original form. The frozen part slipped off and fell, like a scab peeled off a wound. In just a few seconds, the wing blades were as new.
“(Milt, did you see anything?)”
“(Like before, the spot that suffered damage showed a sudden rise in temperature. As you probably already noticed, though, the temperature isn’t going back down this time. I think it might go up every time it’s attacked!)”
The wing blades were now a color closer to yellow than red. The heatwave emitted by the monster now reached not only Shin, who was engaging the monster in close combat, but also Schnee and Filma, who were farther away.
As for Sety and the others, Milt had asked her Water Spirit to cast a temporary heat protection enchantment on them.
Thanks to Shin’s handcrafted equipment, the heat could not actually affect them yet, but there was no harm in adding extra insurance.
“(Keep attacking from behind. If the wing blades start attacking me instead, it’s going to be a pain to fight.)”
The four-wing blades continued repelling Schnee and Filma’s attacks, lashing like whips. They could surely be used to target Shin, so he asked them to continue keeping them occupied.
“(Are you ready to go?)”
“(Of course! I’m not getting canceled this time! Make sure you don’t get hit too!)”
Shin cut off Anguaini’s left-hand claws and blew away the right with a spinning kick when Sety’s voice reached him. She had chanted a new, more powerful spell after the previous one had been canceled by Anguaini’s roar.
She told Shin not to get hit, but her spells would precisely target the enemy monster, so he would be safe as long as he didn’t get too close.
Shin and the others already knew what spell she was going to use, so they retreated the necessary distance from the monster.
A blue and white spiral formed at Anguaini’s feet then began rising upwards.
The Anguaini attempted to move away, but the spell had already started: the monster’s body was wrapped in chains, preventing it from moving.
Water-type Magic Skill 【Chlonothyella】.
Following the light ascending to the sky, bands of cold air rose in spirals, wrapping around Anguaini and freezing its body as they did.
The monster’s body dropped in temperature, its color turning whiter and whiter by the second. A level 900+ monster, however, would not go down so easily. It started producing more and more heat from its insides, in order to resist the freezing effect.
“You little…! Give up already!!!”
Sety pointed her『Dusk Moon』at Anguaini and shouted.
She had infused additional MP into the spell before its effect would run out.
The magic resistance of a Demon that had absorbed a Guardian’s powers, however, surpassed her expectations: she realized that all one 【Chlonothyella】 could do was slow down its movements.
“Let me help, at least a bit…!”
Tiera started shooting arrows at the monster.
Also thanks to Kagerou’s support, Tiera’s arrows struck the spots where the freezing effect ran deeper.
While they couldn’t pierce the monster’s body, the arrows managed to crack and shatter parts of it.
The monster’s movements were slower, but its limbs moved in unpredictable ways: Shin and the others also could not tell which parts were frozen more than others.
Tiera, however, managed to strike such parts with incredible precision. It couldn’t possibly be chalked up to just her having sharp instincts.
Anguaini’s single eye, which was fixated on Shin until then, turned in Sety’s direction. Its whole body was far from frozen: on the torso, only the surface was affected.
It was using the molten lava in its body to repair any damage it suffered, but slowly but surely that lava was decreasing.
Anguaini seemed to realize that it couldn’t keep focusing only on Shin.
The eye produced a spark.
The next instant, the same beam that targeted Shin was shot towards Tiera and Sety.
“Not so fast!”
With a vigorous shout, Shibaid and his『Great Shell Shield of Collision』stood in the way of the beam.
Shibaid had duly acknowledged how much damage the beam had caused to the protective barrier of Shin’s shield. He reduced the radius of his own barrier and amplified its power, causing the beam to deviate and scatter in all directions.
“I am thankful for your support.”
“Even if I’m the observer, I can do this much.”
Shibaid deflected the beam itself, but Milt’s Water Spirit helped alleviate the heat it produced. Yuzuha had also boosted Shibaid’s defenses, so the beam didn’t even make him flinch.
Tiera and Sety knew that Shibaid would completely block the attack, so they did not pause in their offensive.
“(Just 10 more seconds!)”
“(That’s more than enough. Let’s go!)”
After hearing Sety’s Mind Chat, Shin, Schnee, and Filma prepared to attack again.
Thanks to 【Chlonothyella】 and Tiera’s powered arrows, Anguaini’s movements had dulled.
Soon enough they would start carving away at the monster’s flesh, but not even Sety could fire such a high-level skill continuously. She was bound to slow down eventually.
She planned to inflict the maximum amount of damage as long as she could, then cancel the spell and switch with Shin and the others’ close quarters offensive.
The target was Anguaini’s eye, the source of the deadly laser beam. Milt’s observation confirmed that it was the spot with the highest temperature.
When Sety started the countdown, Shin rushed the monster, keeping his stance low and gripping 『Ryujin Touka』 at waist level.
His next skill needed time to be charged. Shin could tell that Schnee and Filma too were gathering their energies for the next attack.
Sety gave the signal.
Shin swung 『Ryujin Touka』 as if releasing an arrow from a fully strung bow.
At the same time, Schnee swung her 『Blue Moon』 from the left, Filma her 『Scarlet Moon』 from above.
They didn’t hold anything back: all three used Shiden skills.
The first one to strike was Shin.
Katana-type Martial Skill 【Shiden - Hollow Arc Moon】
The tip of 『Ryujin Touka』 drew a line from Anguaini’s flank through its chest, through the throat, towards the eye.
Shin was not close enough for the slash to reach the target, in normal circumstances. He just drew a line over the monster in his sight. One moment later, however, a line following the exact same route appeared on Anguaini’s body.
The Skill used by Shin released an invisible slash that could cut anything in the user’s view.
It could reach anything the user could see: on the other hand, covering the target with a simple piece of paper was enough to neutralize it. It could cut through armor, but not the flesh under it.
Anguaini would be hard-pressed to hide its massive body in any way, however. Its flesh was completely exposed.
【Shiden - Hollow Arc Moon】 was said to be impossible to dodge unless recognized from the preparatory movements: nothing could stop it from slashing Anguaini.
Katana/Water Combination Skill 【Shiden - Hakura Kamui】
Behind Anguini, bewildered by the unseen slash, came Schnee’s follow-up attack.
A white and blue slash was drawn in the air, flying towards the monster.
The wing blades, still moving freely, bent and lashed, blocking the path of the slash from the side.
All the wing blades could cut through, however, was thin air. The blue and white slash continued on its path, passing through even Anguaini’s head.
【Shiden - Hakura Kamui】 was a mirage-like attack: a slash that bypassed all physical defenses, subsequently freezing the target from within.
Anguaini did not seem to comprehend what happened: the wound on its eye, opened by Shin’s slash, bloomed with a flower of ice.
Filma then delivered the last blow.
Sword/Water Combination Skill 【Shiden - Rea Spaar】
Seconds after Shin and Schnee’s attacks, Filma’s red katana was covered by a white light extending towards the sky, which then flew towards Anguaini.
It could not pass through the wing blades, but its path did not change nevertheless. Their resistance did not seem to mean anything for the white slash.
The monster tried defending itself with the wing blades, also using the ones that failed to intercept Schnee’s attack, to no avail.
The gigantic slash created by this Skill could not change its path after activation: if you knew it was coming, it could be dodged without fail.
In exchange for this disadvantage, however, it could not be canceled in any way before its effect ended.
There were some exceptions, but in most cases, it could not be stopped, not even by a giant taller than a mountain or a sea monster capable of devouring entire seas. The slash proceeded undisturbed by the wing blades’ resistance.
Shin and Schnee’s ambush, followed by Filma’s blow. The bright white slash cleaved Anguaini’s head in two, extending up to the upper half of its torso. Milt rejoiced.
The burst of ice created by 【Hakura Kamui】 on the wound opened by Shin’s 【Hollow Arc Moon】 first extended to the surrounding flesh, but the head eventually managed to maintain its heat.
After being sliced in two by 【Rea Spaar】, however, the head lost all of its energy, as the monster’s whole body gradually turned into charred black rock.
The parts cut off from the body did not disappear, unlike what happened when the monster Guardian was in its name.
“Is it over?”
“Whoops, Tiera, you just raised the flag.”
“Eh? What flag?”
Milt rebuked Tiera’s comment. Only players and certain support characters would know what Milt meant, so Tiera was naturally perplexed.
“Its HP has reached zero, though.”
“That means we did it, right…?”
A surprise resurrection of an enemy thought defeated was a common occurrence in stories. It was not a rarity in THE NEW GATE either.
The effect of Filma’s 【Rea Spaar】 ended and the white blade vanished. As if it was waiting for that exact moment, Anguaini’s body crumbled down.
All that remained was a mound of frozen rock.
“(It doesn’t look like it’s coming back to life.)”
“(I can’t see any such movements from here either.)”
“(Kuu, I don’t think it will come back to life.)”
The monster had already shown the ability to transform, so the party was wary it could have yet another form, but even after waiting a while, there was no sign. Shin asked Schnee and Milt, then Tiera — the most sensitive member to miasma — for confirmation.
Anguaini was definitely dead. Shin was fairly confident but still exercised caution as he approached the monster’s remains. After confirming that nothing happened, he called Gelganger — which was watching over the fight from the castle walls — to check for the Sacred Place core.
“Can you feel anything?”
“Nothing at all, unfortunately. The faint traces of Number 43’s presence seem to have disappeared completely.”
Since the monster had turned Anguaini, Gelganger apparently expected such a result.
“Hm? What’s this feeling?”
Shin looked upwards, over the mound of rock that Anguaini’s remains had turned into. His detection field had picked up on something there.
It would be a disaster if the Demon had left a parting gift: Shin urged Gelganger to stay still and climbed the remains. On top, he found a pitch-black, thorny object that clearly did not belong to the monster’s corpse.
“This is…Chimeradite? No way…it’s all-natural!?”
What Shin found on the monster’s remains was a large heap of Chimeradite, famous for being the greatest mineral in existence. But it was different from the kind blacksmiths like Shin could produce.
A rarity surpassing even Ancient grade weapons or『Drop of Erathem』.
Excluding limited-time event rewards, it was the item with the highest rarity in THE NEW GATE, so difficult to find that many players expressed rage to the developers about it.
“In the game era, I’d be jumping with joy…but here…”
Arahabaki was a monster that yielded rare drops, so it was certainly not an impossible event.
Natural Chimeradite was surely a very rare mineral in the current world too.
Shin couldn’t help but think, however, that he would have preferred to find more information about the world instead of getting a rare material.
“Well, it won’t hurt to take it with us anyway. We’ll ask Eleven or Origin’s half for information.”
They were the most likely sources of information at the moment.
While collecting the minerals, Shin sincerely hoped that what happened in that Sacred Place would not repeat again…