“Master!” The girls cried as I slammed back against a column.
I groaned while healing myself. We had been fighting for fifteen minutes now, but I never had a one up on him. About my only advantage was that I could keep healing myself. He may be able to replicate my spells, but he couldn’t replicate my supply of water of life. Then again, his mana may not sit the same as mine. Who knew what his stats really were? I suspected he lied when he said he matched me. After all, what if I had asked for a harmless butterfly? Damn, that’s what we should have gone with! Then again, I might have ended up battling Mothra.
Those thoughts and many others spiraled across my mind as I tried to regain my composure and try another attack. I had already revealed True Hero, Basic Magician, White Mage, Dungeon Diver, Slave Master, and Dark Priest to this guy. Even if I did get a good hit on him, he’d use his own white mage skills to heal himself a moment later. It was truly infuriating fighting a guy who constantly healed himself!
The result was that he was also much stronger now, with the equivalent of five jobs equipped instead of three, he was truly a devastating force.
“Flames!” He tossed a wave of flames that washed across me.
As I shielded my eyes and stepped back, I only narrowly dodged his next strike. He had only been using the flames to hide a Quick Attack. Then, he leaped forward and struck me. Had I not lucked out and noticed a small movement within the flames, his blade swipe would have cut me in two. This fight was beyond stressful, and I could seriously die at any moment.
Meanwhile, the girls could only watch helplessly. Twice now one of them had tried to come forward and fight, trying to ignore both of our orders, but they were only able to resist the pain a few moments before collapsing to the ground. As the fight went on, I grew more haggard, and the expression on the doppelganger grew more condescending. I really wanted to punch him in his irritating face.
The pair of us exchange several more slashes of the sword. I was tired, as I didn’t typically fight like this often. Although I attacked with my sword, most fights were done in a few minutes and even then, I would have switched to spells after a few preliminary swings. At this moment, I was almost exclusively using my swordsmanship, which was technically my weakest ability. Was he doing that on purpose? Was he taking my weakness, physical attack, and using it against me as another form of taunt?
I wouldn’t put it past him. If that was the case, then this fight wasn’t about who was stronger, but who was better at exploiting the other’s weakness. With that, I stumbled, and the doppelganger took the chance to deliver an attack. He struck me, causing the girls to cry out.
However, I had planned it this way! “Got you!”
I tossed a vial of acid and it exploded on his arm. As I leaped back and healed myself, he did the same. Except the acid was continuing to do damage. This wasn’t some simple acid, but a magical acid concocted by Miki and I. It would continue to burn him for the next fifteen minutes. He had an expression of annoyance and pain, but I felt vindicated. Acid burning was basically a status misalignment. He’d be weaker for the immediate future.
However, I let my excitement settle down a bit. Even if this was the case, I still wouldn’t be able to defeat him. He could use healing spells as well, so even though the acid was causing damage, he’d only be temporarily weakened. Unless I had a way of overwhelmingly defeating him, this battle was still going to fall on his side. I wanted to deny it, but there was no point in denying the truth.
That was when I noticed his naked arm. The battle had managed to shred various parts on his clothing. At this point, the acid had finished chewing up the last of his arm, revealing his shoulder. I noticed something vital. I felt a wave of relief wash over me. I not only had a chance now but if I was right, my victory was certain!
It was simple, really. My doppelganger was missing something that I possessed. It was pretty obvious now that I noticed it. Before, I had been far too worried to see the signs, but it was now perfectly apparent. My doppelganger could copy everything that I was. He could use every skill that I had, as well as every skill that I gained. However, that had one exception. There wasn’t a single tattoo on his body.
The dungeon lore, burned into me by the blessings of a curse, could not be replicated by this boss. If that was the case, then it stands to reason that he couldn’t access the dungeon point store at all. That meant that the dungeon points he had couldn’t be reset! Well, they could, but he wouldn’t be able to select something else! In short, he was stuck with the skills I had selected upon entering. He had three jobs, increased experience, and perhaps even portals. None of this aided him in this fight except the access to three jobs.
That’s when a thought hit me. If he has three jobs and he can equip the same three jobs I have equipped, would he be able to see a fourth? A part of me began to think that he probably couldn’t. With a breath, I reset my dungeon points. The tattoos on my body glowed as I accessed the store. Despite being a product of a curse, the doppelganger didn’t seem to be able to get a read on those tattoos. After all, he was unable to duplicate them.
I was worried he’d attack me while I was changing jobs and I didn’t want to be left weak, so I equipped True Hero and White Mage as soon as I reset. The 10th level of True Hero unlocked the skill 2nd Job, just like Slave Master did for my girls. So as long as I equipped it first, I could equip a second job. However, that went to my DP points, so 2nd Job was already crossed out, and I could immediately select a third job. In other words, I could use less DP to unlock the third job. I didn’t have time to dwell on it longer, as my opponent was waiting for an opening. Fortunately, the tattoos had really confused him.
He eyed them suspiciously, keeping his distance as if I was using a technique he was unfamiliar with. It bought me enough time to make my selections. I spent 15 points right away to gain 4 jobs in total. Then, I equipped Hero as my fourth job.
Hero and True Hero were similar in nature, but they were also very different. Furthermore, I was a much higher level in Hero than I was in True Hero. One of the primary differences is that Hero had swordsmanship, to which I was at Moderate Swordsmanship. Meanwhile, True Hero didn’t offer a swordsmanship skill, but simply a skill called Weapon Proficiency. For me and my doppelganger, we were both fighting with Basic Weapon Proficiency. Whether it was a sword, a spear, or a knife, we’d be able to wield it at a basic level.
To true swordsmen like Lydia, our entire fight up until now must have seemed clumsy. However, since we were both at the same level, our fight seemed fluid and proficient. Except, now that I had Hero equipped, I had Moderate Swordsmanship mixed in with Basic Weapon Proficiency. The skills didn’t just replace each other, but actually complimented each other. I had become far more proficient in weapons.
With that, I attacked him and was delighted to see the synergistic effect between the two skills. Rather than quickly adapting to the new job as he did before, he was now at a loss with each exchange. I gave him various wounds, and although he healed each one quickly, he had a confounded look on his face.
“You…” His once arrogant expression grew angry as the direction of the battle was suddenly flipped. “In that case… girls, kill him!”
Since he was no longer winning, he quickly switched to the most direct strategy. Either I cause my girls a pain that wouldn’t recede until one of us died, or I allow them to kill me.
Job Reset. True Hero, White Mage, Slave Master, Monster Tamer. I equipped the jobs as quickly as I could. The girls were already resisting the orders they were given. I didn’t need to give them a counter order, because none of them would ever try to kill me, even if it cost them their life. Instead, there had only been one option. I had to end it quickly!
To that end, I had prepared in advance. Of course, once I realized the nature of this boss, I didn’t think I’d be able to use it, but it looked like a workaround was found. With Monster Tamer as my fourth job, it was out of his reach. Just like a Priest who uses his Job Examination, he’d usually only see the first job you had equipped, perhaps never even noticing the second or third. In the doppelgangers case, because I had derived the 4th job skill after his creation, he was unable to copy it.
I didn’t know every ability up this doppelganger’s sleeve. Perhaps, if he saw a spell, he could replicate it. However, a 4th job was an intangible part of a person, derived through a system that couldn’t be replicated. Thus, my trap was set.
“Portal!” I declared, opening up a portal from in the boss room to the outside of the boss room.
“Don’t think you can escape so easily!” He growled, “Stop him!”
Portals could still be used in a fight, unlike the Return skill. It was always my last-ditch escape. Now, the girls moved in front of it. Compared to his previous order to murder me, this was one that they allowed themselves to follow to alleviate the pain. Of course, they followed his order because they knew the plan, same as me. I was never trying to flee.
“Monster Order, attack that, and kill it quickly!”
Instead of me trying to get through the tunnel, a sudden wave of golems came out of it. The girls, who had been ordered to keep me from going in, and hadn’t been told anything about needing to stop anything from entering, stepped aside with grins as golem after golem moved into the room.
Golems were very easy to control, especially after some guidance from the resident golem specialist, Terra. These were Earth Golems like her, but it was the difference between a supercomputer and a calculator. It was rather easy for her to help me tame a large swath of golems. The levels of Monster Tamer even went up, and I had a plan for defeating the boss.
Had I just equipped Monster Tamer before, then I would have ended up in a situation similar to what I was in with the girls. He would have ordered them to stop while I ordered them to go. Since I found a way around that, he was now helpless under my Monster Tamer ability.
He shrieked and began to fight the golems. He didn’t even have time to relay any orders to the girls. Nearly fifty total golems entered the room and swamped the boss. It was a number that all six of us together would struggle to repel, so a bad imitation of me naturally didn’t have a chance.
No matter how good his healing, he was surrounded by golems smashing him with all of their weight. The girl’s eyes filled with relief as the doppelganger died and the orders over them finally rescinded.
As for me, I found it a tad difficult to watch and see myself being torn apart by golems. I knew that he and I were not the same, but he had my voice and face. It was a bad experience overall.
When this dungeon boss was finished, I secretly promised myself that I’d go on a vacation with the girls.