It was another boss’s room. Rather than resembling the long hallway of the Siren, this was the typical arena-style room complete with columns and the room to move around. That didn’t necessarily mean that a battle was the condition for defeating this room. After all, Terra also appeared in a similar room but used questions to entice us. However, as far as dungeons go, her situation was odd and a bit unconventional. Then again, I was beginning to realize that there was no such thing as a conventional dungeon since every single one seemed to have its own quirks.
“Who dares try to pass my room?” a voice booms out from the dark.
The pair of us cautiously raise our weapons, looking around, but the boss is hiding and we don’t see him at all. After waiting for a moment, the voice booms out again.
“I said, identify yourself!” The voice causes the columns to shake and dust to rain down from the high ceiling.
I finally step forward. “I am Deek, Hero of Chalm, Lord of the Wilderness, Keeper of the… um.. women…”
I blushed as I said that last part. I ran out of titles quickly. I was trying to be impressive and terrifying. Rather than upset, the girls were all looking at me with flattering looks. I knew enough by now to know they liked being referred to as my women. I’d definitely have to work on my titles later.
“Deek… is it?” The voice sounds contemplative. “Another lord…”
“Who are you?” I demand back, trying to keep the conversation going.
I preferred the talking over the fighting for my life. The dungeons I had defeated, after all, didn’t come from physical prowess. If it came to defeating dungeons by force of strength, I would have died four times over. There would have been no way for me to defeat the final bosses of any of these dungeons without the special circumstances involved.
Mina’s Dungeon was young and I had a strong affinity using White Mage. Karr’s Dungeon I cheated using DP, and also had a strong affinity. Even then, both were defeated by causing the final boss to surrender. Shao similarly would have won in her crazed state if I hadn’t caused some kind of weird mind-meld state. Don’t even mention Terra’s Dungeon, which had been weakened to the state of near destruction and then still required the help of an entire troop of bandits. In short, after all this time, I had never truly fought a dungeon in normal circumstances.
“I am nothing… and I am everything. I am whatever I choose to be. Tell me, Hero of Chalm, what form do you wish for me to take?”
“You mean… like a giant marshmallow man?”
“Hehehehee… Hahahaha… very well, that shall be the form I take!” he cries out.
“Oh crap!” I cursed my luck.
I had naturally just thought of a certain movie, and now I was going to replicate the events of that movie. This would be a horrible and messy battle. I raised my arms defensively. Shao seemed to know what I meant, as her face went white too. The other girls didn’t get the reference, but they at least could see the worry on our faces and understand.
I was expecting the familiar thumping sound of a giant monster. At the very least, it couldn’t be taller than the boss room, which was about twenty feet high. However, after time passed by, nothing happened.
“I don’t know what Marshmallows are,” the voice suddenly said. “Pick something else.”
The group of us nearly collapsed to the floor. I shot the girls a look.
“We have to pick something. The most disarming, least-threatening form we could possibly imagine! We need something you couldn’t imagine harming you in a million years!” I declared.
“You mean, like Master?” Celeste asked.
“Very well! You have selected…”
“Wait… who’s selected! We didn’t select!” I cried out.
However, a second later, I stepped out from behind one of the columns. A small smile formed on his face. Ah… crap…
The man who stepped out was wearing the same armor that I did. He had the same face, hair, and weapon. About the only thing different was the expression on his face, which looked cruel and slightly sadistic. He moved forward with a grace that I didn’t possess, laughing as he moved. I held up my sword, a grimace on my face.
Then, I looked back and shot Celeste a dirty look. “Celeste!”
“S-sorry, Master! I just said it out loud!” Celeste responded with tears in her eyes.
An evil grin remains on my doppelganger’s face as he slowly walks towards us. Due to the size of the room, he was still a long distance away, but he was quickly closing it. He lifted up his hand and glanced down at his body, examining it with a kind of interest.
“Heroes are truly a masochistic lot. I have taken many forms over the years, but it takes a certain kind of person to make their opponent themselves.”
“No, that was an accident! I want a redo!”
“This is the form I will fight you in. Let your own choices be your undoing!”
“Ladies, that is not me! It’s very sweet you think that I won’t hurt you, but this guy doesn’t care if you get hurt or not. So, we have to fight him together and hold nothing back.”
“Hehehe… is that how you think this battle will go down?” He chuckled again, shaking his head.
“Why?” I demanded worriedly. “Are you saying you’re not really me? You’re just wearing that skin? Why the heck do you bother having us pick if you’re just going to do whatever you feel like?”
“Don’t get me wrong! I am you in every sense of the word. I have your body and I also have your status. Perhaps, you just don’t appreciate how powerful you really are. I am you, but that doesn’t mean I have to act foolishly like you. I can access any skill you have, all of your many jobs. So naturally, I am just a better version than you will ever be!”
“Even if you say that…” I responded bitterly, “If you have my strength, even if you are better at using it than I am, you can only be so strong. That means that I can defeat you. Since it’s six on one, you’re already completely outnumbered. There is no way you can defeat all of us. I don’t believe I’m so powerful that I could defeat all of my girls at once!”
“No…” He shook his head with a sigh. “You’re right, I’m not so powerful that I can beat all of you at once. After all, you’ve trained your girls well, and they’re not weak. However, they won’t be a problem, and you will die here.
“W-why is that?” I suddenly started to get a bad feeling as he walked the last few steps until he was directly in front of us, where a single leap forward would be enough to attack with his blade.
“Because… I already said. I have all of your skills.” He chuckled. “Slave Order. Stay out of this fight, ladies.”
All the girls suddenly found themselves compelled to stay back, and my face started to turn white. It turned out when you were fighting yourself, you really could only depend on your own ability!
“Slave Order. Attack him!”
“Ahhhhh!” The girls started screaming.
“Cancel that!” I immediately canceled the order.
The doppelganger started laughing. “I am you, but my orders are not the same as yours. In other words, I can’t cancel your orders, and you can’t cancel my orders. The best we can do is leave your teammates writhing in pain as I kill you!”
“Hehe… aren’t you the bastard? I am you, after all.”
“Ahhhhh….” Shao started screaming again as she forced herself to her feet.
I turned to her and grabbed her as she stumbled forward. “Shao…”
“I can… fight…” she panted, her eyes in pain.
“No…” I patted her head. “I’ll do this on my own.”
“Oh, and since I’m you, I already know how you think. If you had thoughts of freeing them of slavery, know that, once again, you and I start out the same, but we are different. In other words, they will still be my slave, even if they stop being yours.”
“…” I hadn’t really thought of it, but he seemed to be closing off my options one at a time.
“Hey… don’t look at me like that. If I wanted to play dirty, I could order them to attack you. Then, you’d have to order them to stop, and I could kill them like that.”
My face turned white, and I couldn’t help but ask. “Why don’t you?”
“You’d probably not make that order, and you’d let them kill you. That’d be no fun. Besides, you must remember that I am you. Perhaps, deep down, I don’t wish them harm either.”
“Enough of this, it is time that you die!” He lunged forward with his blade, immediately doing a Quick Attack.
I barely managed to dodge it. I quickly tried to decide on what job lineup I wanted to use. For him, I didn’t understand completely what skills he had. He said he could use all of my skills, but did he know I could switch jobs on the fly? He said it himself, he had the skills that I had. However, the second I change my job layout, I change the skills I have. Right now, he has White Mage, Slave Master, and True Hero equipped, assuming he has the jobs I had when I entered. We were different, so if I changed jobs, then he should still stay the same, a snapshot of me.
Our swords clashed several times. Each time, metal struck metal with a flash of magic. These were identical swords with an identical magic being used in an identical way. Although the fight looked even, I quickly could feel myself on the defending end. This guy may have my abilities, but he wasn’t me. He didn’t have my hesitations, my hangups, or my doubts. He could attack confidently and use the skills smoothly.
Thus, it was the moment of truth. I switch from Slave Master to Basic Magician. I immediately tossed out a fireball just as he raised his sword to attack. His eyes went wide in surprise as the fire shot out of my hand and struck him. He leaped back as the flames burnt the leg and arm of his clothing. As he shot back, a water spell suddenly swept across him.
“Damn!” I cursed.
I was wrong. He was able to adapt and instantly gained my Basic Magician abilities. This meant that my plan was instantly destroyed.
“Interesting…” he responded. “You can switch jobs, huh? I was wondering why you have so many wonderful skills. However… I am not you. I can only replicate what you have equipped, but whatever skills you offer me, I keep!”
My eyes widened and I took a step back. What he was saying was that he didn’t lose the Slave Master skills. Instead, he had just gained my Basic Magician skills. Any time I switched jobs, he would gain all of the skills and status of that job! In other words, every time I could surprise attack him, I’d only have one chance before he adapted and grew more powerful.