6 – Indy Ploy – III
An incomprehensible roar echoed in the depths of the Lost Woods. Following it, vast torrents of dark mana swept out in every direction.
Standing in the direct path of the Wrathful Sin Dragon’s breath, it was too late for me to dodge. However… “You’re out of tricks!”
I swung my right hand holding my faithful companion (stick). True to the moniker I had given it, my faithful companion gathered the nearby shadows and released an attack towards the dragon breath.
A stream of jet black mana clashed with a chaotic slash of darkness. Shockwaves blew away the mist shrouding the area as well as the ground. After countless attempts, I had finally gained the ability to oppose the dragon.
But I still came up short.
My faithful companion (stick) did its best, but the slash I sent was quickly being eroded by the dragon’s stream of pure mana. However, it bought time. And that time was all that I needed.
While the dragon was tied up blocking my attack, I leaped into the air. My title of (tentative) Legend was put on full display as I borrowed its strength to vault over the dragon breath.
Seeing my actions, the dragon’s fiery crimson eyes swiveled. Staring back at it, I felt a boundless killing intent, malice that was almost enough to be an attack on its own.
But it wasn’t.
I landed on the dragon’s head. Without wasting any time, I ran along its neck and swung my hand at its exposed nape. Like before, my faithful companion gathered the nearby shadows and sent out a slash of chaotic darkness.
An ear-splitting shriek sounded as the attack ground against the dragon’s scales. It seemed that it wasn’t by chance Braves could only seal it away. But I had already expected that outcome. As it was a creature of boundless mana, an attack of pure energy could do nothing against its scales and was dispersed by the dragon’s mana. However, I wasn’t done.
If my attacks were being obstructed by mana… well, I had a skill perfectly suited to oppose that. It had taken over a hundred deaths to figure out how to use it like I intended, but now-
I swung my faithful companion again. Instead of using a mana-imbued slash, my faithful companion’s wooden form clashed directly against the dragon’s bare nape.
The outcome should have been obvious. Being mere wood, the stick would shatter without my mana. At least, that should have been the case. But after making protective gear for Aria and testing the limits of my Absolute Memory, I learned something interesting. And the result of that was shown in the messages popping up in my field of view.
Your companion receives the effect of Mana Resistance LVL 5.
Your companion receives the effect of Physical Damage Resistance LVL 5.
The sensation of replicating skills with mana has been successfully memorized. Grant Skill LVL 1 obtained.
Physical Damage Resistance and Mana Resistance. They were skills that mitigated the effects of physical damage and magical phenomenon. Defensively, it allowed me to somewhat resist the dragon’s breath attack, which was a combination of both. Offensively-
Ordinary wood met indestructible dragon scale and won out. Tarry black blood gushed out and the dragon roared once again. However, unlike the incomprehensible roar from before it was that of a wounded beast, primal and guttural. For the first time in the fight, the dragon flapped its wings and tried to escape.
But after all of that effort, I wouldn’t allow it to.
My faithful companion lashed out for the final time in the fight. Having pierced the dragon’s outer defense, my attack went unopposed.
For a moment, it was as if nothing happened. But then, like in old anime where a sword slashed apart a monster before they realized it, the dragon’s head fell to the ground and a geyser of tarry blood sprouted in its place.
I let out a sigh and jumped off the dragon’s body. When I landed on the ground, more messages appeared in my field of view.
The Wrathful Sin Dragon has been slain.
(Tentative) Legend has become Legend.
The sensation of being bathed in boundless dragon mana has been memorized. MP increased substantially.
The sensation of being bathed in dragon blood has been memorized. HP increased substantially.
The miasma of the Wrathful Sin Dragon has been memorized. Curse of ****** LVL 1 obtained.
The boundless grudge of the Wrathful Sin Dragon envelops you, attempting to usurp your body. It has failed due to the effects of The Nameless. The sensation of the attempt has been memorized. Dragon’s Grasp LVL 1 obtained.
Trying to pull a fast one even in his death. It was meaningless, but it would have been annoying having to redo the fight. While Absolute Memory allowed me to restart, it didn’t allow me to jump back in the middle of the fight against the dragon.
My hypothesis was that it had to do with the vast amount of mana in the area preventing a successful recollection. Since the dragon’s mana was so much higher in density and quantity than my own, I could only revert to a point before I began battle with it. However, now that I had obtained its strength, that was likely to change.
I stared at the dragon’s corpse and decided to check its status.
Name: ****** (deceased)
Summary: The Wrathful Sin Dragon. Once known as ******, it was revered as a guardian deity. However, after the Brave Kimura seduced its daughter and then abandoned her in favor of other women, ****** was furious. Its natural divine might was converted into demonic energy and it destroyed the nation that had summoned Kimura. Only after the Brave Kadashi and his companions appeared, sent by the Goddess Serena herself, was ****** defeated. However, they were only able to seal it in the Lost Woods and could not kill it.
…Hm. I had expected something along those lines, but it was still unexpected. So the dragon was originally a divine being but fell into darkness after its daughter met one of those useless heroes… I could sympathize. People like those deserved to die.
Ah, but me abandoning Aria was different. For one, I gave her proper compensation. For another, it was only temporary. In fact, now that I had ‘leveled up’, so to speak, it was time to act befitting of my title.
But first, it was time to check the outside world. My clash with the dragon had taken a long time, both in lifetimes and actual time. It should have been long enough for the hidden parties to reveal themselves.
With that decided, I left behind the corpse of the Wrathful Sin Dragon and walked out of the Lost Woods.
HP: 1,000,000 (+1,000,000)
MP: 500,000 (+500,000)
Absolute Memory LVL ?? – A unique unranked skill granted to Nowun by Goddess Serena using the infinite human potential gifted by Earth’s Creator. Grants the concept of ‘Absolute Memory’ to the user.
Information Concealment LVL ?? – A unique unranked skill recognized by Goddess Serena due to the user’s ability to withhold and conceal information. Grants the concept of ‘Information Concealment’.
Chaos Affinity LVL 6 – A skill granting the affinity of Chaos, the magical element that disrupts all others.
Physical Damage Resistance LVL 6 – A skill granting resistance towards physical attacks.
Imperial Slash LVL 6 – A subset of the martial skill “Imperial Swordsmanship”, which is the greatest swordsmanship available to the current era of humans. Using physical strength (or an appropriate substitute), lash out with the force to sever steel.
Indomitable Will LVL 6 – A skill granting resistance towards mental status effects.
Darkness Affinity LVL 6 – A skill granting the affinity of Darkness, the magical element embodying shadows, void, and negativity.
Mana Resistance LVL 6 – A skill granting resistance towards phenomenon involving mana.
Analysis LVL 2 – A skill gained through the skilled usage and interpretation of mana fluctuations. Allows gaining of information through reading the world’s record. More is shown with greater expertise.
Grant Skill LVL 1 – A skill born through the familiarity of what makes up the essence of a skill. It allows the user to grant a skill they are familiar with to a targeted individual.
Curse of ****** LVL 1 – A skill embodying the wrath of ******, the fallen divine dragon. Attacks cannot be defended against and inflicts the status ‘Soul Corrosion’.
Dragon’s Grasp LVL 1 – A skill embodying the saying that one cannot escape once inside a dragon’s grasp. However, you are an exception to the rule as you are ‘no one’. It becomes possible to bind beings by directly restricting their soul. A greater effect is shown with higher levels.
The Nameless – Obtained by giving a pseudonym to Goddess Serena and refusing to present one’s true name. Due to this, the original name is discarded and one’s true nature becomes indistinct and impossible to grasp.
Otherworlder – Obtained by all those transported by Goddess Serena to Asifant. Grants language translation and basic knowledge of the world.
Karmic Anomaly – The title granted to one whose karma cannot be discerned. Effects are unknown.
Martyr – The title granted to one who sacrificed their life for the sake of another. Doubles HP and MP.
Aria’s Savior – The title of the one who saved the elven princess Aria Sylvania from suffering a fate worse than death. She will never forget your kindness and owes you her life.
Legend – The title of one who defeats ancient beings of catastrophy. Grants unrivaled strength and speed.
A desolate wasteland. After the fall of Alvheim, the protectors of the Ancient Forest were no more. The lineage of warriors dating back to the birth of the world tree had been slain, caught off guard by humanity’s recent acquisition of the taboo element that disrupted nature itself. Although the mysterious Fae escaped the fate of the Elves, they had withdrawn into their homeland, the realm of fairies hidden between the cracks of the world.
And as such, within the Ancient Forest, the only trees that remained were those belonging of the Lost Woods. The rest had rotted away, their life essence ruined by the Chaos of the Empire and the false Light of the one they called the Brave.
A decade had passed since Aria parted with Nowun. During that time, the towering and majestic Ancient Forest had been reduced to nothing and the noble beings once living within were either in hiding or enslaved as playthings of humanity.
Empty and desolate. That should have been the case. However, there was one person that remained. Although the Ancient Forest had been ruined, the heart of the World Tree was not yet destroyed. And the reason for that was the sole elf that remained after all of her kin were placed under humanity’s rule.
Aria stared at the one the Empire called a Brave.
He was young. Younger than herself and Nowun when they first met, the Brave looked to barely be in his mid-teens. More of a boy than a young man. However, his youth did not dampen his strength. If anything, it seemed to emphasize it since there was still endless room for growth.
Like Nowun, the Brave possessed black hair and dark eyes. However, that was where the comparisons ended. Whereas Nowun’s hair was set in subdued bangs, somewhat obscuring his eyes, the Brave’s hair was spiked in defiance of gravity, the result of the overwhelming mana buried in his body.
The Empire had gifted the brave a suit of armor. Shining white from its mithril plates and glowing from orihalcum trimming, it bestowed an aura that seemed to be holy. Paired with the splendid adamantite long sword and shield in his hands, anyone looking upon the Brave would find themselves incapable of denying his legitimacy to hold that title.
However, that appearance was fake. Instead of a Brave, the legendary heroes that were summoned to save the world, the one before Aria was a villain of the highest order. Rather than wielding the sacred armaments blessed with the Goddess’s Light, his equipment was man-made and bore the taboo Chaos element.
Worse than the Demon Lord that possessed Darkness, the Chaos element ruined the world whenever it appeared. And in complete ignorance of that, the Brave had arrived before her as well as the World Tree.
Staring at the Brave who knew nothing of his sins, Aria let out a sigh. Indeed, Nowun had been correct in stating that youth was an issue. And that youth would now lead to the end of the world… that was, if Aria fell that day.
The depths of the ruined world tree. There, in the deepest hollow, a glowing light was encircled within roots. A light that held the Sword of Mana, the blade that would allow its wielder to dominate the whole world.
Facing off against the one that humanity hailed as their hero, Aria let out a long breath and stood her ground.
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