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"Let's go!" - Regular Speech
'Oppai!' - Thoughts
[BOOST!] - Sacred Gear/Ddraig Speech
Chapter 19: Fallen vs the Gamer's Dungeon
One Hour Previously
Murayama Keiko's Room, Murayama Residence, Kuō City
It wasn't a particularly uncommon occurrence for the Captain and Vice-Captain of the Kuō Academy Kendo Club to spend the night at each other's houses; training schedules needed to be created and reviewed, tournament applications filled out and team rosters selected and they had to review the performance of the various first years. The two girls had been close friends long before they'd even started attending Kuō Academy, so it had always made more sense for them to take a single night a week to work through it all in the comfort of one of their homes rather than slogging through it in bits and pieces after practice every day.
However, that wasn't the reasons for tonight's gathering. To be completely honest both girls had been shaken, quite severely shaken, by recent events and were taking comfort in familiar company. And why shouldn't they? They'd both been kidnapped by a secret society of militant, cold-blooded bastards who had been prepared to experiment and torture them in the most grisly of fashions simply because they apparently had special powers. Then, directly after that, their blinders to the world of the supernatural had been ripped away and now they had to deal with the fact that there was at least a baker's dozen of Devils inhabiting their safe haven in the most influential of positions.
So yes, it wasn't all that surprising that the girls wanted to stay with someone else who could understand what they were going through. That was also why there were two more attendees to tonight's gathering than normal, with both Kiryū Aika and Abe Kiyome attending as well.
"I haven't gotten a chance to spend much time away from my house after school for ages. Well, outside of Tennis Club activities anyway. And I don't think I've ever been to a sleepover before, how exciting!" the Beast Tamer Heiress offered cheerfully, dressed in a pair of loose shorts and an overly large t-shirt as pyjamas. It actually looked quite fetching on her.
"Got to admit that this is a first for me as well." Kiryū chimed in, smirking slightly. She'd teased them a bit about wearing a negligee when they'd first invited her, but she was currently dressed in a simple set of flannel pyjamas, albeit with a few more buttons undone then some would consider 'decent.' "No one wanted to risk the rumours inviting the 'Female Perverted Glasses' over would cause."
"Idiots…" Murayama huffed unhappily. She was currently dressed in her own pyjamas, a rather cute set with pink kitten designs. Not something many would expect the 'tough girl' of the Kendo club to wear.
"To be fair, you do leer at the other girls in the changing room after PE, Kiryū." Katase pointed out. She was dressed in her own set of loose baby blue pyjamas.
"Look but don't touch." the bespectacled girl replied with an uncaring shrug. "Besides, I always make sure that I keep my eyes on the ones that won't be too bothered by it, like you two, or the ones that will take it as a compliment."
"That is…oddly gallant of you." the pink-haired Kendo Captain offered, blinking slightly in surprise.
"Geh…" Kiryū flinched slightly at that. "Katase-chan, I know I don't act much like it, but I AM a girl y'know. Being called 'gallant' is just…"
"Oh…oops." The pinkette absently scratched at her cheek in embarrassment.
"So Aika-chan, what's this I've been hearing about you going out with Hyōdō-kun?" Kiyome asked curiously.
"We're dating now." The bespectacled brunette confirmed. "It started as just a cover so the four of us could talk in private after school, but we decided to give it a go. I don't have any complaints so far."
"Really now, who would have guessed? The self-proclaimed 'Future Harem King' turns out to be a proper gentleman?" the Third Year pressed on, her interest obvious.
"I honestly think getting attacked in his own home gave him a really strong wake-up call." Kiryū offered with a frown. "Damned flaming fucks."
"Indeed." Kiyome agreed, not the bit bothered by the other girl's rough language in regards to their attempted tormentors. "I simply cannot understand how such a group could have gone unnoticed before this." She'd made her own discrete inquiries using some of the contacts her family had cultivated over the years about the organization after they'd been rescued by the Red Knight (as she'd personally dubbed him). So far, nothing she'd gotten back had even hinted that these 'Purifiers' even existed, let alone that they'd been hunting down and murdering who-knows-how-many supernatural beings and empowered humans for what has to have been at least several years."
"From what we saw and the Red Guy said they tend to avoid using magic, wouldn't that make it harder for most supernaturals to notice them?" Murayama asked, a confused look crossing her face.
Kiyome snorted slightly. "Not as much as you'd initially believe." the Beast Tamer answered with a shake of her head. "Most supernatural factions try to keep as up-to-date with modern technology as possible, to better ensure the veil of secrecy is properly maintained. I know for a fact that the Devils and Fallen both have divisions that specialize in keeping mundane organizations from stumbling across the supernatural, not to mention the Church itself. It simply doesn't make sense that these people could have kidnapped so many beings without anyone becoming aware of it. Surveillance footage, a spell imprint of an area…there should have been at least some hint of them before now."
"If what that kitsune kid was saying was true, then this branch mostly targeted isolated and migrant Yōkai." Katase pointed out thoughtfully. "It stands to reason that any other branches would do the same, if they were involved in attacks at all. How common are supernaturals like that?"
"Fairly common, I suppose." Kiyome offered after a moment's thought. "While most of the larger groups of supernatural beings tend to gather together under the various Factions to defend against external threats, many are also solitary and individualistic creatures by nature. The Yōkai, for example, all pledge their loyalty to either Empress Yasaka in Kyoto or Emperor Nurarihyon in Tokyo, but that's mostly to simply present a united front. Most remain fairly independent, so individuals or even small groups going missing could go unnoticed for a quite some time…and that kitsune we met did claim to be affiliated with Empress Yasaka."
"You know, hearing you talk about this so casually just makes the fact that the supernatural is real stand out all the more." Murayama offered with a tired sigh.
"Meh, I've got a constant reminder of that on hand." Aika offered with a shrug, momentarily manifesting her Sacred Gear before dismissing it.
And hadn't that come as a shock for Kiyome, finding that Kiryū Aika of all people had a Sacred Gear, even a relatively common one like one of the Staring Lights. To add to that particular mystery, it was a Sub-Species in even its base form, which she had never even heard of before, and someone had managed to partially seal it without the other girl's knowledge.
"Do you have any idea who could have sealed it in the first place?" she couldn't help but ask. "Any old family members who were Shinto Priests or the like, or perhaps a married-in family member who acted oddly?"
"Afraid not, I'm pretty much estranged with my family, have been since I was old enough to live on my own." Kiryū replied with a shake of her head. "As for other family members, it's always been just my parents and me as far as I know. Dad mentioned that he was an orphan once and my Mum never wanted to talk about her side of the family."
"And what exactly do they do for a living?" the Third Year pressed.
"Dad's your standard salaryman for some computer company. Mum was working in a pawn shop last time I talked with her." the bespectacled girl replied with an uncaring shrug. "She's kind of a freeter, works odd jobs and part-time jobs instead of working full-time anywhere. Please don't ask why; last time I did, I got a rant about the evils of Japanese working culture."
"O…kay…" Katase offered with a blink. She was starting to get a picture of just why her new friend's behaviour was so…unorthodox.
"But like I said before, we're estranged. Hell, we've honestly never been really close. They were always more like room-mates -ex-roommates now I guess- with credit cards than what most would call parents anyway." Kiryū pointed out, waving a hand absently through the air. "Anyway, why does it matter who sealed my [Staring Armoured Red] in the first place?"
"Because they could have very well noticed that the seal's been broken and try to reseal it!" Kiyome pointed out earnestly, before she paused and began to look thoughtful. "Although that would be close to impossible now that you've learned how to manifest it at will. Seals like the one formerly placed on your Sacred Gear work by inserting something akin to a mystic divide between the user's mind and the target, preventing the victim's intent from reaching its target. Now that you've learned to manifest it at will, that means there is a direct link forged between your mind and where [Staring Armoured Red] resides within your own soul. Attempting to block such a connection would require not only a far more powerful seal but could also lead to serious brain-damage even if it was successful. And that's for a regular practitioner of average skill; the ham-handed way that the seal was emplaced on you clearly shows that whoever tried to originally seal it away either didn't understand what they were doing, or was working off some form of misconception."
"Well, isn't that just a cheery thought." the bespectacled underclassman offered dryly. "That just means I should probably get Issei to put a rush on contacting Mr. Red. We really need to get a name for that guy while we're at it…"
"Haaaah." Katase let out a tired sigh. "The world has changed so much in just a few days…" she moaned out, mourning the loss of her simple and stable world.
"The world hasn't changed, Katase-chan." Kiyome offered her a friendly correction. "The way you see it has just been expanded."
"Hah! Guess, you're right about that." the petite pinkette let out a bark of disbelieving laughter. "I mean just look at Hyōdō! I swear it's like the guy who used to peep on us had a twin brother without the overwhelming perviness and they've suddenly switched places. He still has a real liking for the female form, but he's at least polite about it now. It's unbelievable…"
"I think Aika-chan had it right; nearly dying must have really made him rethink his life and pushed him down a different path. So maybe you can back off on him like he's backed off of peeping? It's only fair Reiko." Murayama offered to her friend and Captain.
"Ugh…yeah, I guess. He did send Mr. Mercenary to save our asses so I do owe him that much." Katase agreed with a grumble. "The other two pervs are still fair game though!"
"My, my Murayama-san." Kiyome giggled a bit, smirking at the brunette kendoka. "Given your ardent defence of him, might it be that his recent actions have begotten a crush of some kind."
"Wh-Wha-Wha-Wh-What?!" Murayama sputtered embarrassed indignation, turning bright red at the words of her senior before rapidly raising her hands and waving them in front of her face in frantic denial. "D-Don't be ridiculous, Abe-sempai! That's just…just ridiculous! Besides, he's already dating Aika!"
"Methinks the lady doth protest too much~!" Kiryū smirked, glasses flashing as she leered at her fellow brunette, eyes raking Murayama up and down her body. "Can't say I'd mind myself. Issei does want to be a Harem King..."
"Eep!" Poor Murayama looked like a deer in headlights as she was flirted with(?) by the other girl, face approaching neon red in colour as all the blood in her body, or so it seemed, rushed upwards. Katase wasn't much better, eyes darting between her best friend and vice-captain and Kiryū with an almost poleaxed expression on her face.
"Now, now, Kiryū-chan." Abe 'scolded' her lightly. "No rushing things. Make sure you've established yourself as the legal wife before bringing mistresses into the mix."
"Abe-sempai!?" Murayama squeaked.
"How can you be so calm about the idea of a harem?!" Katase finally managed to voice her disbelief.
"Polygamy isn't all that uncommon in the supernatural realm, my dear." Kiyome offered her straight-laced juniors an impish smile at their incredulous expressions. "Don't forget, I have been attending Kuō knowing full well the nature of my more…exotic classmates and have learned more than a bit of their culture through sheer osmosis. It is quite common for male Devils to have harems. I believe even Rias' own father, Zeoticus, has a fairly substantial one, and they're just one example of the more…hedonistic sides of the supernatural realm. From what I've heard, Hyōdō-kun would likely make quite the fine Devil, given the nature of his desires."
"Hohoho!?" Aika giggled ominously, her glasses gleaming. "Well now, doesn't that just give me all kinds of ideas…"
"Dear gods, what have we unleashed?" Murayama groaned with a facepalm.
Back with the Fallen
1st Floor of Issei's Base
"What the…?" Mittelt yelped as she tried, and failed, to take to the air per Raynare's orders. "What the hell is going on!? It feels like someone dipped my wings in cement!"
Before any of the other Fallen could do more than blink in surprise at her sudden exclamation, a luminescent window appeared in the air directly in front of the group with a message written on it in neat block script.
By order of the Dungeon Master, no flight abilities gained from natural wings, spells, magical abilities or items/artefacts are allowed outside of very particular areas of the dungeon, all of which are clearly marked.
This is your only warning. Further violations of the Law will result in punishment.
"...the flying fuck?" Kalawarner asked as she stared incredulously at the window.
"Dungeon...what the hell?" Dohnaseek agreed, absently scratching at the side of his head in confusion.
"Oh fuck me running..." Raynare felt a headache brewing. They'd barely stepped into the place and there were already oddities abound!
"So…should we try and see if we can push through this…Law?" the only male Fallen in their group asked in honest confusion.
"No, it's not worth the risk just yet." Raynare replied, scowling as the window quickly faded from sight before she could get a chance to scan it. "We have no idea what kind of 'punishment' this strange magic could bring down on us if we push it. For all we know it could cause an instant decapitation or something. This guy wants to set the rules for this little hike? Fine, it'll make it all the more satisfying when we beat him at his own game."
Looking around at the dull brown walls, Raynare couldn't help but feel like she was being watched…probably by the master of this place. Only an idiot would set up this kind of intricate maze without also having a way to monitor anyone who enters it as well, after all.
'Great, we're stuck doing a fucking rat run.' she thought bitterly. Being forced to dance along to someone else's tune was already starting to rub her pride as a Fallen raw. She was the one who was supposed to have these pathetic mortals dancing to her whims, dammit!
More than that, the mere fact that a human was responsible for this was only making it all worse. Raynare would honestly admit that she looked down on humans. She'd admit that some of them could be quite useful, like Sacred Gear Holders, but as a race, they were simply inferior when compared to her and her kin. Gather up a hundred of the most skilled human soldiers in the world, arm them all to the teeth with the latest modern military equipment and she was still quite certain that she could easily slaughter them all within fifteen minutes, ten if she actually put some effort into it.
"Alright, let's get moving. I want out of this fucking maze as quickly as possible." she ordered, getting her trio of subordinates back on track. "Keep an eye out for any traps or enemies. I very much doubt that those Stray Exorcists killed each other out of boredom. Mittelt, stick with me."
As the youngest member of her 'Flock' sauntered over to her, Raynare took the time to withdraw her wings back into her body. Keeping them out if she couldn't use them was pointless and they'd likely just get in the way in tunnels like these. With the rest of her subordinates following her cue.
The four Fallen advanced cautiously, none of them willing to be killed as easily as their human canaries had been. This vigilance paid off when they spotted the first of the flying pottery figures speeding towards them.
"The hell is that thing?" Kalawarner asked with a scoff. The floating piece of pottery certainly didn't look all that threatening.
"I believe the local humans call them 'Dogū' or something along those lines." Mittelt replied with a cant to her head. Seconds later, the Fallen were all forced to leap to the sides in order to dodge a sudden beam of bright green light fired from the now-glowing statuette's eyes. "Holy shit!"
Dohnaseek responded far more violently, instinctively forming a Light Spear before hurling it at the flying pottery doll. His weapon hit dead centre, shattering the small golem to pieces in an instant. "Hmph. Well, that was a bit disappointing."
His confident and bored mien was completely shattered when he caught sight of a half-dozen more of the 'Dogū' flying out of the connecting passages towards them, all of their eyes already starting to glow.
"Dumbass! Take them out!" Raynare shouted, forming her own Light Spear and hurling it at one of the onrushing golems, only to curse violently as it managed to swerve out of the way of her weapon. Growling in annoyance, she formed a new one as her first shattered into motes of light as it impacted the wall.
Most Fallen could initially only manifest and wield a single spear of Light at a time. With time and practice, however, even a two-winged Fallen could learn how to manifest as many as eight or ten spears at once. The late and unlamented Armârôs the Lesser had been quite puissant in that particular skill, capable of summoning up to four despite her relatively young age. Raynare herself could call forth six at once, while Dohnaseek could (barely) manage five on a good day. The other two were stuck at one each, though Mittelt was at least close to managing two.
For now, Raynare was keeping her extra spears as a hidden card up her sleeves, just in case Armârôs the Lesser had been too badly hurt to use multiple Light Spears early on, though she honestly doubted that stubborn bitch would have been forced to flee without putting up one hell of a fight first.
"Gaah!" Predictably, Kalawarner was the first to feel the sting of the eye-beams and was blasted into one of the walls. The beams honestly did little actual damage to the Fallen's Iron Skin, but it did ruin her barely-there top, leaving her stupidly-large breasts flopping out.
"Put your tits away and start fighting instead of posing!" Mittelt shouted, slicing one Dogū in half with an expert twirl of her own weapon.
"Fuck you, you loli-baba!" the bluenette snarled as she called a spare top from her quarters at the church and slid it on before getting back into the fray.
"Who're you calling old?!" Mittelt growled. The 'loli' part she didn't mind so much as she was still had a few more decades of growing to do. "In case you've forgotten, you're literally twice as old as I am!"
"Fucking hell, both of you shut up and focus!" Raynare snapped as she smashed the last of the Dogū with an almost negligent slash of her Light Spear. "Letting down your guard like that was probably how Armârôs the Lesser got herself fucked up so badly!"
"That was bit better, though it was still lacking." Dohnaseek grumbled mulishly as he ignored the squabbling of his female companion and instead took a close look at the surrounding maze. "Hmm…the maze itself is basic, merely designed to distract and slow down intruders, but the multiple paths do offer several routes and directions for threats to come from. Some magic to negate flying in order to give the small, highly mobile guard golems a clear advantage against slower enemies. Altogether…not bad. 6 out 10 for the design, but only a 4 on the actual performance."
"I'm so glad you're enjoying yourself." Kalawarner spat as she adjusted her new top. Her (barely there) bra had been destroyed along with her favourite jacket and the sensations of her bare, sensitive breasts (especially the nipples) against the somewhat rougher material of her new coat was REALLY distracting.
"Bah, let us continue onward." the male Fallen simply wave Kalawarner off in dismissal. "There are likely far more worthy targets awaiting us!"
Raynare and Mittelt exchanged an exasperated glance that just screamed, 'why do we have to deal with this fucking meathead!?' to anyone that saw them, before continuing onward into the maze.
"Well hell." the Sekiryūtei sighed as he gazed at the images of the four Fallen wandering around his base's first floor. The levels here were a bit...odd.
[Fallen One/Flock Leader/Enamoured of Azazel]
[Cadre Descendent/Born Fallen/Promiscuous One]
[Born Fallen/Battle Junkie]
Dohnaseek, the only male among the group, was going to be a problem. There was simply no way that someone would get the [Battle Junkie] Title unless it was a very large part of who they were. That likely meant that getting the male Fallen to surrender would be all but impossible. Issei was already mentally writing the guy off as too dangerous to even try to capture.
Kalawarner, the one who had given him a great show when her top had been destroyed, on the other hand, was one that he was definitely going to have to capture alive, if only because of her [Cadre Descendent] title. Killing someone who was directly related to one of the Cadre (the leaders of the Fallen from what his research had pointed out) was simply not a risk he was willing to take at the moment, mostly because he didn't want a Level 1000 Fallen Angel to come and scour him from the face of the Earth, thank you very much.
As for the other two, Raynare and Mittelt, they were, by comparison, not out of the ordinary...Raynare was apparently in love with Azazel, who was supposedly the leader of the Fallen if Issei's recent forays into research were anything close to accurate. Both she and Dohnaseek were also at a higher level than Armârôs the Lesser, which was somewhat worrisome, especially given that she on her own had been nearly enough to kill him.
The goth-loli Fallen, Mittelt, had the second lowest level out of the four Fallen, but Issei knew that she would likely be harder to fight than a regular monster of the same level; someone's level was only a general guide to how strong any given individual was, not an absolute one. A Level 100 Rat would very likely get its furry behind kicked by a Level 1 God, after all.
Thus far, the [Dogū Golems] couldn't so much as scratch the Fallen, the one solid hit his initial attack group had managed to land had been completely tanked by the Innate Racial Ability [Iron Skin] that all Angels, Pure and Fallen alike, possessed. After dealing with the Stray Exorcists earlier, there were still just over a dozen of them left on the first floor, along with three [Golem Dragons] stomping about. He doubted that the larger golems would be able to do any serious damage to the Fallen, or even hit them at all actually. The only thing likely to even manage to hold them up and significantly weaken them would be the Floor Bosses that barred the way to the deeper floors.
Issei grimaced slightly as he realized most of his Bosses likely weren't going to survive the night. Preparing them had taken the largest chunk of his time and attention when he'd been assembling his defensive labyrinth. First, he'd had to select the Boss's base form from one of his available monster types. Then he'd had to designate two roles that the Boss would fulfil, such as [Attacker] and [Wide-Area Damage Dealer], and THEN he would have to name it (either via randomization or by imputing one himself) and customize its appearance. Once all of that had been handled, he then had to grow the boss in its Boss Chamber, fuelling the process with mana until it was ready to emerge.
So yes, creating his Bosses was a long and involved process that had taken several hours of work and now they were all…
Ahem, anyway, the Floor Bosses were at about the same level as Raynare, so the Fallen should be able to beat them fairly easily if they work together. But given the obvious divide between the Raynare/Mittelt and Kalawarner/Dohnaseek pairs and the obvious friction between both groups he very much doubted it would be that simple.
Still, it promised to be quite the show.
'What was that old saying that I heard on a TV show once? 'A house divided against itself cannot defend against threats without.' or something like that.' the Gamer mused as the Fallen encountered two of the three [Golem Dragons] and started fighting them. If nothing else, the defensive ability of the earthen dragons was top notch; all chucking a couple of Light Spears at them managed to accomplish was to just chip away at their skin and nothing more
He blinked as this just seemed to pique Dohnaseek's interest and the battle-crazy Fallen leapt into the fray, stabbing and slicing with a Light 'Spear' that was more like a naginata than a spear. Interestingly enough, it seemed that so long as the Light weapons didn't leave their creators' hands, they were far more difficult to disperse than when they were thrown.
Good to know.
They hadn't come across any traps as of yet, as Issei had deactivated all of the ones on the first floor; better to have them nice and unobservant on the second floor so that they stepped without looking. Besides, it wasn't as if a half-dozen springboard and pitfall traps were going to do anything more than annoy these four.
"Let's see how you handle [Shakkōmon], Fallen." the Sekiryūtei offered softly.
Door to the Floor One Boss Room
"We are not going to waste our time hunting every enemy on every floor of this place, Dohnaseek." Raynare growled out flatly, one eye twitching violently in irritation. The blood-crazy fool had run off hunting for every golem and construct on the damn floor after those stone dragon-shaped golems had gotten his bloodlust up and running and they'd been forced to chase after him. It had been an utter waste of time.
"It is never a wise idea to leave foes at one's back, Lady Raynare." the battle junkie tried to justify himself.
"These are fucking golems, you dimwit! They attack on sight or follow a preset patrol route, that's it." the leader of their small flock ground out in frustration. "They've got more rocks in their heads than you do! The odds of them actually having a cunning plan are even worse than yours! Now come on, let's get this over and done with."
Striding towards the huge doors that just screamed 'entrance to a choke-point' to her, she was entirely unsurprised when they swung open towards her automatically. Beckoning her subordinates to follow after her, she stepped through. As Kalawarner reluctantly brought up the rear, the doors once again moved on their own, slamming shut behind them and locking them in with whatever trap was waiting inside.
The entire situation was ringing some very familiar bells in Raynare's head, but she simply couldn't place it.
"Christ on a crutch, what's happening now!?" Kalawarner snapped out as she began to warily examine the dimly lit, and surprisingly spacious, chamber. When a pair of large slits began to glow a bright red on the opposite end of the room, she only gaped for a second before she was suddenly reminded of the wounds dealt to the final pair of Stray Exorcists and she practically threw herself to one side.
The action likely saved her from a lot of pain as a pair of red beams lanced through the air where she'd been standing mere seconds before, leaving a pair of deeply scorched craters in the ground where they struck. Then the torches around the room suddenly flared to life, brightly illuminating the entire chamber and revealing the single largest Dogū that any of the Fallen had ever seen. Easily towering over them, the massive construct was made of what looked to be silver and gold and festooned with several gemstones, red letters forming in the air above its head to announce their opponent's identity.
[Shakkōmon, the Divine Metal Dogū]
"Damn it to hell. I hope you're fucking happy now Dohnaseek, because it looks like we've found that fight you were hunting for." Raynare offered faux-calmly. "Stay mobile and dodge those fucking laser-eyes. Hit it back hard and fast. GO!"
"Aramitama! (Violent Spirit!)" A slightly tinny and surprisingly high voice rumbled out from the massive golem as its eyes lit up once again. This time it was aiming for Dohnaseek, who leapt to the side and quickly counter-attacked by hurling a large Light Spear of his own.
"Sakimitama! (Fortune Spirit!)" Shakkōmon rumbled again, this time causing the gem set in the centre of its chest to glow brightly as a shining blue barrier of light formed in front of its body, blocking the spear before fading away again.
"Aramitama!" Another pair of bright red beams of light fired from its eyes, this time flying at Raynare, who hadn't stopped moving since the first blast had been fired. The titanic Dogū's head turned to follow her as she moved, leaving it open for the other three Fallen to rush in and…
"Nigimitama! (Harmonious Spirit!)" the silver and gold Dogū proclaimed, a hatch built into its hips, which had previously looked like a Yin-Yang symbol set in a sunburst, clicked open and released a wave of pottery disks, each emblazoned with the same Yin-Yang symbol, at the three onrushing Fallen…which promptly started detonating like fucking grenades on impact.
'You have got to be fucking kidding me!' Raynare practically shrieked in her own head. 'Long-range beams, a barrier shield to protect from ranged attacks and now a short-range bomb spam to keep anyone from getting close!? Who fucking built this thing!?'
"Mittelt! We're going to draw the bastard's fire, get in close and stab this hunk of junk!" Raynare ordered before she starting forming and throwing spear after spear at the damned golem. Surprisingly enough, it stopped its bomb-spamming as it reactivated its shield, even as it continued to try and nail her with its eye-beams.
So, the thing could only use two of its abilities at once? That was good.
As Raynare tried to keep the giant Dogū's attention on her, with Kalawarner and Dohnaseek quickly joining in and spamming their own Light Spears from different corners, Mittelt quickly did as ordered and rushed forward, pink spear of Light gripped tightly in one hand. She was silently quite thankful that she'd practised running in the goth-loli dresses that she favoured, otherwise she might be in a bit of trouble here.
With the other three Fallen being constantly pelted by the laser eyes of doom and the monster focusing on forming its protective shield at the front, she should be able to slip around behind the massive construct and stab it in this back.
This was so not going to work out for her.
But, surprisingly enough, it actually did. With the massive metallic Dogū concentrating on Raynare and the others, Mittelt was able to get behind it and unleash a violent barrage of stabs and slashes across the golem's back, and she was a LOT stronger than she look. In just a few moments, the massive monster's back was pockmarked with craters and scars the size of Mittelt's fist.
Then the thing started glowing again, this time wrapping its entire body in a bright green nimbus. Mittelt instinctively leapt back to clear some space from a possible new attack.
"Kushimitama! (Wise Soul!)" Shakkōmon intoned far more softly this time as the glowing aura around it flared before fading revealing that the massive Dogū…had shrunk down to the size of its smaller cousins.
The four Fallen could only gape in shock at the shrunken golem for a moment before the silver statuette blurred and vanished, only to reappear behind Kalawarner a few moments later.
It was only her instinctive reaction to that proclamation that saved Kalawarner from taking a pair of smaller and brighter laser beams to the back, both nearly orange beams digging deep, smouldering furrows into the ground where she'd been standing a moment before.
Then it vanished in another blur, though Raynare and Dohnaseek were at least capable of following its movements this time, allowing them to either dodge themselves or warn their weaker compatriots.
Their battle soon turned into a deadly game of tag, the four Fallen trying everything they could to catch the shrunken golem that continued to dart about, firing off bright red/orange death beams whenever it got a chance.
"RARGH! Stay STILL!" Kalawarner snarled as she once more lunged at the small, annoying little bastardized thing, only for it to blur out of the path of her spear. "DAMN IT! Raynare, you're the caster among us, don't you have some wide-area magic to at least slow this piece of scrap metal down!? It is going to take us all fucking night to knock the blasted thing down on our own!"
"Do I look like a fucking sorceress!?" the black-haired Fallen snarled furiously as she dodged another eye-blast. "Dohnaseek, stop screwing around and stab that stupid thing!"
"Oh, very well. I suppose it has been getting a bit repetitive." the man grumbled unhappily, unwilling to end the first truly challenging fight he'd had in years. Still, he complied with his superior's orders. Body lighting up with a deep blue nimbus as he used his Holy Power to momentarily bolster his speed and power, he shot forward like a bolt. An instant later, he was on top of the miniature golem and bisected it from cleft to crown with a single swing of his light blade. Apparently shrinking down had also sacrificed much of its defensive strength in exchange for bolstering its speed and agility.
"Fuck me running, that thing was tough." Mittelt muttered as she wilted slightly, leaning against the wall to catch her breath. "What in the name of heaven and hell was that thing?"
"A royal pain in the ass, that's what." Raynare stated grimly as she watched the two halves of the fallen Shakkōmon dissolve into so many motes of light. Again, a vague sense of familiarity about this entire setup was hammering in the back of her head, but she just couldn't seem to connect the dots.
The sound of stone scarping against stone caused all four Fallen to turn their attention toward the back of the chamber, where a large slab of stone was sliding downward, revealing a winding staircase leading down deeper into the darkness.
"Is that bastard really just inviting us deeper into his fucking base? He cannot be that cocky after we smashed his little toy, can he!?" Kalawarner demanded petulantly, utterly offended by how badly they were being underestimated.
"Possibly." Raynare replied with a far more thoughtful frown. "What we've faced so far would have been more than enough to overwhelm any number of our Stray Exorcists; even that nutjob Freed likely couldn't have done much against that big fucker. I'm willing to bet that the defences are only going to get tougher the deeper we go in."
"So we're basically going dungeon diving like in a video game?" Mittelt asked, having recovered and rejoined the group.
"Yes, exactly…like…a…" Raynare agreed before she trailed off as all the little hints and incongruities she'd been noticing since she'd first entered this place fell into place and everything just clicked. "Fuck me sideways, we're in the lair of one of the hosts of the [Gamer's Gear]!"
"The what?" Kalawarner looked befuddled (though that wasn't much different from the bimbo's normal look), while Mittelt blanched at the revelation and Dohnaseek merely looked intrigued.
"The god-fucking-damn [Gamer's Gear]." the Fallen leader snapped out impatiently. "They're a set of Sacred Gears just a step below the Thirteen Longinus in terms of raw power. There's only two of them in existence, one blue and said to represent the Primordial Earth Goddess Gaia, and one orange representing the Primordial Abysmal God Tartarus. The two variants have a rivalry that's every bit as long and bloody as the one between the wielders of [Boosted Gear] and [Divine Dividing]. The only difference is that the [Tartarus Gaming Gear] normally takes the role of the 'Villain' while the [Gaia Gaming Gear]'s holder acts as the 'Hero.' I can only hope we're dealing with the latter…"
"Why?" the bluenette Fallen prodded.
"Because the [Tartarus Gear] holders usually tend to live up to the whole 'Evil Villain' shtick, as in a number of them would have made Freed look like an actual fucking saint by comparison." Raynare stated with more than a bit of distaste. "I don't know if the thing has some way of selecting twisted wielders or if it has some kind of corruptive effect on anyone born with it, but nearly every wielder of that thing has turned out to be sadistic, immoral or just plain fucking nuts, and more often than not they end up a mix of all three and then some. There's been exceptions, of course, but none of them have ever been…pleasant individuals."
"So…if we're dealing with the orange one, then the Nun's probably dead already?" Kalawarner asked curiously, looking slightly cheerful at the prospect of Asia being dead.
"Dead, desecrated and possibly even eaten. Like I said [Tartarus Gamers] tend to be fucked-up individuals." their leader growled out. "And don't sound so happy about the possibility, you damned bimbo! Don't forget that if we lose her, then our careers are literally going to take fucking centuries of hard work to rebuild! Particularly for you and Dohnaseek, rather than me and Mittelt."
"What? Why!?" the battle-junkie demanded, suddenly far more invested in the conversation.
"Remind me, who was it that let Asia Argento just wander off without so much as sending a Stray Exorcist to keep an eye on her, hmm?" Mittelt responded sweetly, a sickly smile on her lips. "I know that Raynare and I were at Grigori HQ giving our scheduled reports as ordered at the time, but what about the two of you?"
The two morons blanched in horror as they finally realized just how deep in the shit they were if Asia was even slightly ruffled from her experience. Both Fallen rushed down the stairs as if the hounds of hell were nipping at their heels.
"I know I should be worried about how bad this is going to look on the two us…but that was just so damn satisfying." Mittelt practically moaned out.
"Nicely done, Mittelt." Raynare nodded in appreciation. "Now, I suppose we should get after them. Knowing those two, they'll likely find trouble sooner rather than later if left on their own."
The younger Fallen giggled in agreement as she followed after her superior.
Fourth Floor Boss Room
"Fuck...this...shit...!" Raynare groaned out, using one of her Light Spears to support herself and feeling more tired than she had in centuries.
She'd been right that the different 'floors' of this insane dungeon would only get more difficult the deeper they went, but she honestly hadn't been expecting this crap!
The second floor had introduced a third type of golem in addition to the Dogū and dragon golems, something she vaguely remembered a senior angel speaking of back before she had Fallen. Brick Golems, a type of magical construct popular in Ancient Egypt during the days of the Old Kingdom back before she had even been crafted.
(Just to clarify, she was 500 years old, but that was only as a Fallen. She had been one of the 42nd Generation of Angels created by the God of the Bible shortly before the War of the Biblical Factions had erupted, the very last generation of Pure Angels crafted by their Father. So far as Raynare was concerned, she had only truly started to live five centuries ago; everything before that had merely been simple existence.)
Then there had been the annoying traps that had littered the floor. Pitfalls, springboards, rock-falls and even walls that spat a fucking wave of darts. Nothing that could actually hurt them but they were annoying as hell!
The 'boss' of the floor had been an even bigger pain in the ass. The [Occult Device: Guardian Golem] was a massive collection of magically reinforced bricks all protecting an even larger and sturdier magical core. The bricks had reshaped themselves several times during their fight, forming a pair of large, blocky arms, a massive dragon head that spat bricks like bullets, a giant raven or crow, a massive flying serpent and even a giant, fucking spider!
Luckily it shared the same weakness as its lesser kin, destroy the core and the entire thing crumbled. Only problem was that they had to blast or pierce their way through a shit-ton of magically reinforced bricks to get at it each time and the core hadn't been anywhere near as fragile as the ones that powered its lesser kin.
The third floor had even more of those damned dragon golems than anything else. Even for beings with supernaturally enhanced strength, those horse-sized masses of rubble were damned hard to cut through, almost on the same level as a newly crafted Angel's Iron Skin ability. And despite being as slow as fucking rocks, actually getting hit by one fucking hurt! Normally that wouldn't be a problem since they were, again, slow as fucking rocks, but with Dogū and Brick Golems, along with the various traps, acting as distractions, one of the lumbering brutes could actually sneak up on you.
Each of them had taken at least one hit from the 'lesser' golems on that floor, something that stung their pride fiercely.
The 'Boss' of that floor had been a dragon golem that about the same size as a fucking 18-wheeler called [The Crawling Dragon]. It had been stupidly strong, had a hide that even their light blades couldn't pierce through and could even breathe fucking fire! So Dohnaseek, the crazy little bastard that he was, had decided the best way to kill it had been to leap down its throat as it was breathing fire at them and 'attack from within.'
Surprisingly, it had worked. That did not help her newly reinforced doubts about their sole male member's sanity.
On this floor, things had gotten even worse.
First, the traps had changed from mere mechanical annoyances to actual magical booby traps. Electrical blasts, binding vines, slicing winds…the list went on. Not only were they even bigger nuisances then their mechanical counterparts, but some of them could actually momentarily hinder or even hurt them!
Then there were the new golems that had populated this floor, humanoid ones that resembled the terracotta warriors of China. The blasted things were even stronger than the dragon golems and the clay swords, spears, and arrows they wielded hurt like a bitch if they managed to hit, even worse they were fast enough that avoiding them actually took an effort. The only upside was that the things were far more fragile than the dragon golems, easily falling to a solid blow from any of them.
Finally, there was the latest boss that they'd just finished beating. [Bandari, the Terracotta Sorcerer] had easily been the most painful and annoying boss they'd had to face so far. Able to summon fissures across the ground that erupted into geysers of molten flame and fiery rock, fire off a bright pink ray that felt like it was freezing them to the bone and made their bodies move like they were caught in slow motion if it hit, and constantly wreathed in a crackling nimbus of ice and lightning. Combine all that with the fact that the thing could summon up Terracotta Soldiers to defend it and then teleport itself to somewhere else in the chamber if they actually managed to pin it down and it had been a very long and painful fight for the Fallen.
None of them had come out of their little expedition unharmed. Mittelt had needed to replace her dress after the [Crawling Dragon] had set her skirt ablaze and she was still limping slightly from where one of the Terracotta Soldiers [Bandari] had summoned had caught her in the leg with a spear. Dohnaseek had lost his hat against the [Occult Device: Guardian Golem] and was still looking a bit crispy from his dive into [The Crawling Dragon]'s fiery maw, not to mention that his suit was practically in tatters from all the other strikes he'd taken, though that didn't do much to affect the smile on his face. Kalawarner had by far had it the worst of them; she'd been stripped so many times that she'd actually had to borrow one of Raynare's spare outfits after [Bandari] had gotten her with a lava blast and she was still nursing her arm from where the [Occult Device] had gotten her in its giant fist form.
Even Raynare herself hadn't emerged unscathed. She'd had to replace her own outfit once (she was half-sure by now that the [Crawling Dragon]'s fire breath had been designed to strip them) and her body itself was covered in countless minor scrapes, cuts, and bruises.
More than that, nearly all of them were mentally exhausted from the near-constant fighting. Battles in the supernatural world, barring the large-scale battles that only occurred during inter-faction wars, tended to be short and brutal affairs, with the longest lasting for a couple hours at most. The four of them had been battling their way through this accursed dungeon for at least three hours by now, and she doubted they were close to done yet.
"Ray, I am going to fucking murder the bastard who made this nightmare when I get my hands on him." Mittelt swore fervently as she glowered hatefully at the already-open portal leading downwards to the next level.
"Fuck that, let's drag the bastard back to the church and rip his Sacred Gear out." Kalawarner growled out. "It's more painful and we might even get rewarded by Lord Azazel for providing him with such a rare Sacred Gear for his research."
"I love the idea, but it won't work. Someone else has already tried that." Raynare responded tersely. "The moment it leaves its host's body, either of the [Gamer's Gears] will vanish and re-enter the Sacred Gear System. The Stray Magicians in Hexennacht tried to get their hands on a version a century ago to see if they could study and replicate its powers. They lost about a quarter of their members trying and got jack squat for the effort."
"Shit." Kalawarner swore in annoyance.
"Come my friends! We have yet to conquer this vile dungeon." Dohnaseek declared excitedly. Unlike his female companions, the male Fallen seemed to have been having the time of his life tonight, injuries and all. "My power roils with the excitement of a new challenge!"
The three female Fallen simply stared deadpan at him for a moment, before sharing a look and, for once, coming to a completely unanimous decision.
They were going to fucking geld that idiot when this was over!
Then a new screen appeared floating directly above Dohnaseek.
The Dungeon Master has awarded you with a new title!
[Chūnibyō Fallen]: A title issued to a Fallen Angel acting in a thoroughly embarrassing and peculiar fashion. Grants a 5% chance to confuse enemies whenever you act out in this manner.
Raynare knew that she really, really shouldn't laugh, but she just couldn't resist; the Dungeon Master-slash-[Gamer's Gear] User had perfectly summed up the way Dohnaseek acted in but a few simple words, and her tired mind found that hilarious.
She was never going to let him forget this, and she would do everything within her power to ensure that Dohnaseek's new 'title' was spread throughout Grigori. From the way Kalawarner and Mittelt had already dissolved into giggles, she probably wasn't going to be the only one.
As she started to lose her battle against her laughter, a bright-red Dohnaseek snarled and swiped his spear through the notice, dispelling it in a flicker of light before stomping down the staircase looking ready to murder. Raynare had half-expected this; even for a Fallen Angel, Dohnaseek had always possessed far more than his fair share of pride, very much to the point of hubris. He was easily provoked, easily tricked, and far too eager to rush forward where wise men would tread carefully. It was one of the reasons she was so sure he'd never rise above his current station in Grigori, sugar mamas be damned.
"C'mon, we'd better go after him before he pisses the 'Dungeon Master' off somehow." Raynare sighed and started after her unruly subordinate, followed by Mittelt and Kalawarner.
"...OK, how the hell did I just do that?" the Gamer blinked in surprise as he watched the Fallen proceed down the stairs to the fifth and final floor. He had finally figured out how to turn on sound on his in-Dungeon surveillance system and had just blurted out "What a Chūnibyō!" when Dohnaseek had acted...well, like a goddamn bona fide Chūnibyō. The next thing he knew, he'd somehow awarded the male Fallen with that title.
'Why is that even a thing?' Issei wondered in bemusement, not for the first time since discovering this part of the dungeon system, before shaking his head and putting the issue to one side for the moment. It would keep until after he'd dealt with his unwanted guests.
Leaning back in his throne, the Sekiryūtei grinned. Floors One through Four had been designed mostly to tire the Fallen out and get a read on their general level of combat skill; Floor Five was intended to actually take them down. Aside from one or two [Terracotta Soldiers] that were patrolling the area, all of the monsters on that floor were [Eternal Mud Golem]s. He had bet, and apparently he had made a safe bet, that the Fallen lacked any kind of wide-area attacking skills, making the liquid golems their biggest weakness.
Without a way to quickly damage them enough to overwhelm their [High-Speed HP Regeneration], or destroy 95% of their bodies in one go to overcome their [High Speed Body Regeneration], the four Fallen had no possible way of defeating one [Eternal Mud Golem] without a protracted fight, let alone the dozen or so that Issei had stationed on the floor.
If they decided to try and take refuge in the Boss' Room...well, the Boss was going to be a bit of a shock for them. Issei had taken quite some time in designing and building it. Even if the Fallen could somehow beat every single one of the [Eternal Mud Golems] on the floor, they couldn't beat the boss he'd built.
"Now then...I wonder what these Fallen will think of this floor?" he wondered with a grin.
Next Chapter: Ooze Avatar, Crawling Chaos