In Another World With Just Monika Chapter 80
"That core that's got to be a weak point," I said, even as I spread open my palms in preparation for casting more spells.
"Can you even really call something a weak point when it's covered by a magic-eater shell? I mean, it's like saying someone's brain or heart is a weak point," said Elze. "Which is kinda true, but at the same time"
We all winced in pain as the Crystal Creature's scream rang throughout the Old Capital. I breathed out roughly and sent out an [Air Wall] before our eardrums burst. Audible sound was just vibration traveling through the air after all.
What the hell is up with something made out of crystal using sonic attacks?! Are you trying to kill us with irony?!
The Crystal Creature, with one last surge of strength, broke free of the weight on its back and launched itself at us again.
/"Slip-!"/ Monika cast her Null Spell again. The Crystal Creature dug its feet into the ground, outside of the spell circle, and flung up a cloud of dust. /"Oh no!"/
"[Earth Wall!] [Earth Wall!] [Earth Wall!]"
The creature just smashed through them with barely any resistance whatsoever, showering even more dust and stone fragments into the air.
/"Player, that's not helping!"/
But it slowed the Crystal Creature enough to allow Yae to pick up Linze in a bridal carry and scarper off to the left side of the field. Elze and I ran to the right.
"How many of those bullets do you have left?" I asked.
"They're still heavy, so a dozen? No, eleven." Whip- crack. Another pit was blasted out from the Crystal Creature's side. It screeched again in pain and frustration, and spun around to face Elze. "Ten now."
"Let me have a try." Both of us were still running for our life, Elze running ahead. I reached into her belt bag and took out one of the lead bullets. It floated over my palm in invisible currents of electromagnetic force.
Hm. Pure lead was only weakly magnetic, but this was not pure lead. Iron was cheaper than lead, and the little bit mixed in as filler and hardening without compromising weight or ductility made it responsive enough as long as I pumped extra power into it. Monika had to spend another spell slot to harden our electronics against the intense electromagnetic field.
I spun around with my arms outstretched, zeroed in the Crystal Creature in the gap between my thumbs and let loose the "Come, Wind! Opposing forces, Throw! [Rail Gun!]" Fzz-CRACK!
The bullet shot out from between my arms, and smashed out a crater in Crystal Creature's head. It was about the size of Elze's own [Boosted] sling. There were geometric limits to how fast a sling could spin its projectile no matter how much [Boost] could be applied to it or velocity imparted from the length of the launch rail.
The recoil pushed me back off my feet. Elze stumbled.
"For every reaction there is an equal and opposite reaction," I said. "The faster we can throw, the more damage but didn't you feel it? The more your tried to spin your sling"
"Yeah, I was starting to lose my balance." She calmly stared at the Crystal Creature as it screeched again in pain and rage. The red globe inside glowed brighter again, and the air in front of us misted up as the [Air Wall] absorbed its sound pulse. Had it been facing an army or regular mages, ears would be bleeding right now. Helpless, disoriented people, soon to be dead meat.
That was actually somewhat clever. I had no idea if it was sapient, but it was clearly something that leveraged its strengths well. Its leg movements began to jerk about erratically, to throw off our aim if we tried to hit the same spot over and again.
Tch. What could we do? Should I boost up to suborbital height for a Kinetic Kill Vehicle? Accuracy problems on landing means we need a better way of immobilizing the enemy. Mmm. Something something, the shaped charge jet of an anti-tank rocket? How could we possibly apply that in this fight?
"I have an idea. I've got to tell Yae. Elze, keep it busy for a little longer."
She grimaced, and nodded as I asked for half her remaining lead bullets. I took four out of the nine remaining bullets.
We broke off running in opposite directions. Elze threw another bullet to take its attention. Four remaining.
I put my hand on Yae's shoulder and asked, "Kokonoe Yae. Are you ready to be strong?"
She actually looked puzzled at why I would be asking such an obvious question. Then I explained my plan. "But that would leave Linze-dono unprotected?"
"I'll be fine by myself," said Linze. "Mister Zah, you're not going to miss, right?"
"Linze, we don't know what killing the enemy by cracking its core will do. It can maybe just kill it quietly, or it explodes from all the magic it absorbed. I'm not the most important piece in this plan. I won't fire until you're ready."
She smiled slightly and shook her head. "Don't worry about me. As long as I can help in that little bit"
Yae and I stood up at the same time. And behind us Elze screamed "DAMMIT YOU GUYS I HAVE ONLY TWO SHOTS LEFT! GET THIS THING AWAY FROM MY BUTT!"
Elze ran for her life, and if it had been any other situation it would have looked funny as hell with her full-length strides making her look like the Roadrunner being chased by Wily E. Coyote. But as much as I trusted Elze most of all to survive on her own, we were out of time.
I nodded. "Keep it distracted. I'll be right be right back."
Out from a [Boom Tube] oriented horizontally dropped the pair of heavy steel doors from before. The tunnel to the underground installation had collapsed inwards, but the heavy steel doors remained intact. And fortunately for me, also ripped out from its hinges. A vault door was only as strong as the frame and walls it was attached to, after all.
I emerged to see Yae desperately trying to cut at the Crystal Creature's legs and Elze on the other side. Her punch could actually shatter a leg, but only one at a time. The creature slumped, and began to whirl around like a dervish, two its legs held out like blades.
The shattered leg regenerated quickly.
"Over here!" I shouted as I dropped out the the [Boom Tube] and closed it behind me. The noise and the swell of magic power instantly drew the Crystal Creature's attention. Elze and Yae ran towards me, the creature following close behind.
I stomped on the ground, raised both my arms with my palms facing upwards and shouted "[Earth Pillars!]" Two rock spikes rose from the ground to tilt up the door slabs.
The Crystal Creature could smash through rock slabs and icebergs. What about actual solid metal, then? Could they be effective brute barriers to trap and bind it then?
No, that was not the plan.
Fzz-CRACK! Fzz-CRACK! A pair of [Rail Gun] shots struck at a single spot in close succession. The much deeper crack made it flinch, and it moved to prevent any more strikes at that weak point in its shell while it regenerated.
/"[Amplify: Strength. Amplify: Endurance.] [Stack.] [Amplify: Strength. Amplify: Endurance.] "/ Monika began to compile her spells.
Yae and Elze reached out and each grabbed at the edge of a heavy door slab. And heaved.
[Amplify], unlike [Boost], was a linear instead of an exponential increase. It did have something going for it that it was possible to ramp up much faster in multiples of existing strength even though it could never ramp up as high as [Boost]. While the latter remained superior as a general strength enchantment, there was also how [Amplify] didn't need to be muttered quickly under one's breath like Elze's rapid chants of [Boost].
In a second, Yae and Elze acquired fifty times their strength. Assuming they could lift 30 kilograms quickly in a hurry just with one of their arms, now each girl's fingers dug into the metal and quickly picked up the door. With the power to carry 1.5 tons in each arm, they spun around and just SMASHED the incoming Crystal Creature in between the two thick metal slabs.
Spindly-looking yet unimaginably hard crystal limbs splintered inwards and broke. The Crystal Creature slid to a sudden stop, its head carving a furrow into the soil.
It started to pick itself back up and
Elze and Yae, Superwomen of Belfast, struck at its back legs, shattering them, and sending the rest of the creature crashing down.
It began to use stored magic power to regenerate and
Elze and Yae reared up and smashed the heavy steel doors over the spot protecting its core. It had to focus on regenerating damage there instead.
Wham. Wham. Wham. Wham.
The Crystal Creature let out this single sustained high-pitched note that somehow communicated a state of being so grieviously /insulted/.
"Ahahahaha!" Yae began to laugh. She hammered down at the Crystal Creature in a smooth alternating cadence like pounding mochi on New Year's.
"Ahahahaha!" Elze joined in. "Why are we laughing?"
"Is this how you feel all the time, Elze-dono? This power! This ease! This knowledge you could destroy anything you touch. I feel like I understand now why you are always so relaxed."
"I wonder if this is why Playa-dono is likewise always so impetuous."
"No, I'm pretty sure he's just a big ol' manchild," Elze answered. Wham. "Wait, where is he now anyway?"
I had retreated about a kilometer away. Once again I was holding my arms straight out, palms open and thumbs up. Invisible currents of power writhed in between the gap, and through anchor points all the way out there. My sword levitated within the confined magnetic field.
I waited for the signal. Not even the steel doors could withstand being hit with such force, were it not for Monika also [Amplifying] its own structural strength and density. The Crystal Creature could sap that magic power to heal itself, but we hoped that the damage was happening too fast too often to overcome its regeneration rate.
"We've broken through!" I heard someone shout.
Elze and Yae hammered at the Crystal Creature one last time, and then rammed the doors into the ground on either side of its head, pinning it in place.
They leapt backwards, and almost immediately overpowered and overlapping [Aqua Shell] ice shields covered them.
"[LONG RAIL GUN.]"
The recoil flung me backwards, almost ripped my arms out of their sockets. I could feel some bones crack. I was on fire. The air was on fire.
And Zanzibar, my sword-spear, sprung out at around Mach 7.
Boom. Although weighing only about 2 kilograms, but traveling at almost 8500 kph, the sword struck with the force equivalent to the main gun of a main battle tank. Crystal shards just burst out all over the place.
An echoing rumble passed through the Old Capital.
As I landed flat on my back, my last thought was /'I should think of a more impressive name for that spell, rather than just [Long Rail Gun]. Maybe [Spear of Lorentz]? [Hypervelocity Driver]?'/
"/Player! Heal yourself!"/ Monika was shouting. /"Player! Listen to me! Don't- don't fall asleep!/"
" auto doc"
Everything was red. I closed my eyes. I was still on fire.
"Ow. Ow. Oww"
I slowly sat back up. This was why should you always have at least two healers in the party!
"Dammit, Playa!" Elze grabbed me by the collar and hauled me up. "You didn't tell us the backlash to you would be this bad."
"That's to be expected. I turned off the spell protections that would normally isolate the magic channel from the environment," I explained reluctantly. "I couldn't risk it absorbing any extra magic energy from the attack. It had to be nothing but pure speed. Pure kinetic energy."
I tapped at her hands and she let go. I didn't let go of one of her hands, and gave it a comforting squeeze. "Don't worry about it. I'm not suicidal. There's only about as much risk to me as your [Boost] punching through a load bearing wall and collapsing it over yourself.
This dainty yet powerful fist should know. "The magic itself isn't dangerous, we just have to pay attention to what we want it to do."
Elze pushed at me and pouted. "W-well fine. At least everyone's okay now. Nobody got hurt except the idiot."
"Are are you okay now, Mister Zah?"
"I'm fine. Thanks for healing me, Linze." My clothes were somewhat singed, but only the parts that weren't armor weave. Yay for Zanac.
/"He's fine."/ Monika sighed. /"I am fine with this. This really doesn't give me much confidence about your future battle plans but at least it worked. Elze, Yae, thank you for your efforts too."/
Elze just gave a nonchalant shrug. Yae let out a humorless little laugh.
"Strong" Yae whispered numbly. "You are all too strong." The samurai girl smiled sadly at us and turned away.
I blinked. "Um. What's wrong?"
"Magic is very powerful. My road to finding my own strength is still long, it is." She took a deep breath and turned back to face us. She bowed at each of us in turn. Me, then again towards me for Monika, then Elze and then Yae. "My sword is still at your service, meager as my strength may be."
"Um. Okay. Thank you? Don't sell yourself short, it's good to have you fighting with us. We couldn't have done it without you."
Her fists began to clench, but she opened them again forcefully. "Hai."
We made our way back towards the clearing, and the blasted remains of the Crystal Creature. Such was the devastation none of us was sure if the core actually exploded at all. Even the metal door slabs were bent and misshapen.
Elze whistled. "I can't believe we did all this."
"And no one can ever know. We saved the kingdom. From a danger we made ourselves." Now I was leery of even accepting the reward for clearing the Old Capital, because much of the ruined city was now just *gone* and I was not sure if the Night Baron would still return.
On the positive side maybe this place could now open to resettlement? Reporting it would subject us to a lot of annoying questions though.
I looked around again and rubbed at my chin. "Well crystal is crystal. Maybe these Crystal Creature shards could still be useful? It's difficult to find large enough pieces of crystal for sculpture, I think. Maybe I could have a prize goblet made, or something."
"Dang it, Playa!" Elze moaned.
But we all picked up all the shards we could carry. We found a large chunk of the creature's abdomen, looking like a crystal boulder. There were also some leg pieces that we could maybe grind into blades. If the crystal retained the ability to become stronger in the presence of magic, that would be cool too. If not, decorative crystal daggers and swords would surely sell.
Carrying the crystal pieces into town would be too eye-catching. Specially the largest piece, it wouldn't fit into any doors. So it was decided we would have to [Boom Tube] directly into the Silver Moon Inn's back yard. We all wanted a nice warm bath soon after.
And shortly after we exited, Micah rushed out and angrily shouted "I THOUGHT TOLD YOU TO STOP DOING THAT?! STOP DESTROYING OUR NEIGHBORHOOD PROPERTY VALUES YOU MOROON!"
Wow ever since we became business partners instead of customers, Micah's respectful behavior sure just disappeared, huh?
And then from behind her, a tall, thin man with long stringy hair very much like a younger Severus Snape appeared and pointed at us accusingly. "ZAH PLAYA! ZA PLAYAH VON CHARA!" Then in a softer much more friendly tone "Also, Misses Silhoueska, Miss Kokonoe, hello." And then louder again "WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?! DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW LONG I'VE BEEN WAITING?! WHILE YOU WERE OFF HAPPILY GALLIVANTING SOMEWHERE, THE KINGDOM IS IN DANGER!"