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“A… dragon.” Requiem stated his observation as he reached the bottom of the stairway.

“Sitting on a pile of riches,” Adento spoke bitterly. “If only this wasn’t some simulation. I could live the rest of my life comfortably. Well, selling off that princess and the exodus token will have to do.”

“You’re going to sell it? What about the next exodus?”

“That will almost certainly happen long after I’m dead. Why the hell would I care about a bunch of people who aren’t me?” He responded simply. “Now, focus, boy. You distract the dragon, and I’ll get to the side. As he attacks you, I’ll get a wound on him. It’s advantageous to wound him first and decrease his fighting prowess before he’s enraged.”

“You’ve killed dragons?” Requiem responded sarcastically.

“I’ve hunted many things. They all die just the same. Are you doing it?”

“Being a distraction? Fine.” Requiem shook his head.

Adento barely waited for him to confirm before he was already walking away. Anyone who thought about it for half a second would know that Requiem got the bad end of the stick. He’d be facing the dragon directly, hoping that Adento would help him. Adento could easily take the opportunity to wipe out the competition just by hiding, then attack just as Requiem died. He might end up for a harder battle, but one last competition.

Well, Requiem didn’t doubt that Adento wouldn’t hesitate to sacrifice him, but he also believed that Adento didn’t see him as serious competition. His eyes were focused on the androids he could see in front of him, not the hidden AI beside him. Thus, he had confidence that Adento would attack. That still put him in the riskier position, but Requiem was confident in himself.

The room the pair of them found themselves in was a typical treasure room one might see in fantasy. It was filled with coins, gems, and artifacts. One a particularly large pile of treasure, and directly in front of the exit, laid a sleeping dragon. It was red, with thick scales, a long tail, and massive wings. At least the wings would be useless, as the room wasn’t high enough for the dragon to fly. However, Requiem predicted that the dragon could climb on the ceiling above. It was best to defeat him while he was still on the ground floor.

“Any advice?” Requiem asked Clippy.

“According to ‘Dragon Brother Lovers’, all dragons have a reverse scale! If you can strike that scale, they die quickly!”

Requiem stopped for a second. “Did you need to source a BL novel for that information?”

“I just wanted Requiem to understand the importance of all of the information I downloaded! All of it!” Clippy cried out.

Requiem shook his head and then looked to see Adento sneaking behind a certain pile of gold, trying to get as close to the dragon as possible. The dragon made a snort like he could feel or smell the pair of them entering his treasure room. Requiem pulled out his sword and started to approach the dragon. It did look intimidating. He had to remind himself that Miai had managed to kill this creature earlier. If she could manage it, he should be able to as well. No, Requiem shouldn’t look down on her. She’s not a standard android either and likely was hacked.

Hot breath washed over Requiem, and the dragon slowly lazily opened its eyes. It noticed Requiem, but it didn’t seem to see him as a threat. At the least, it took it’s time slowly raising its head. Smoke rose from its nostrils, and it all felt like some kind of build-up designed to hype up the incoming battle. This was a game, after all, so someone must have been having a field day trying to make the dragon look intimidating. The only problem was that this was only level 30. There were four more bosses to go.

Requiem tapped his blade on the solid floor, making a loud banging sound. It was a bit on the nose for being a distraction, but he didn’t care. The dragon’s eyes finally caught on him.

“Come on! Let’s see what you’re made out of!”

The attack came quickly now as if his previous slowness was all an act. His head lunged forward and a blanket of flame shot out where I was. I immediately leaped away, diving behind a treasure pile on the other side of Adento. The dragon stepped off the pile of gold and swept with his claw, knocking away the entire pile hiding me with ease. Countless digital heirlooms went flying away. However, I had expected this and was racing directly at the dragon as soon as the pile disappeared. He reeled back instinctively, raising his head to protect his eyes.

“Clippy!”

“Reverse scale should be located under him. It’s currently not exposed. Defeating him with the reverse scale also gives a rare accessory item!”

“Then, I’m going there!”

I dropped low and then skidded across the floor on my knees, sliding under the dragon. The dragon hadn’t expected me to keep going forward. Surprised, he slammed down his chest. However, with the pile of treasure under his lower legs, there ended up being a small crevice under his body he could not smoosh. That’s where I reached. I immediately stabbed up. It wasn’t his reverse scale, but the underbelly was still more vulnerable. The attack bounced off his scales with a cling, but that wasn’t the point. If I remained under there, I could potentially do a lot of damage. His only choice was to pull off of me.

At that point, I heard a thud on the side and a roar. Rather than pulling off of me, the dragon was overturned. I wasn’t sure what attack Adento used, but it hit the dragon with enough force that he went into a roll. The dragon collapsed on its side, its underbelly exposed to the pair of us. My eyes quickly scanned.

“It’s there!” Clippy called out, pointing to a certain scale.

The problem was that this scale looked no different than the other scales. There was supposed to be a distinct reverse scale that should have been identifiable on sight. Weren’t those things obvious? It looked like whoever made this dragon decided that he wanted the participants to fight the dragon head-on. He was too lazy to just remove the weakness, so he made it invisible. Striking the reverse scale would be a cheat. Requiem had no qualms about making use of this cheat, but it would be extremely obvious if he went straight toward it.

Instead, Requiem lunged forward and attacked a different area of the belly, doing several weak attacks rapidly as if he was trying to test the scales. Adento seemed to notice this. He was holding some kind of large weapon that looked like an oversized crossbow and standing on a treasure.

“What are you doing? You’re not going to kill it that way, fool. You need to go for the eyes!” As he said this, he shot another bolt at the face.

The dragon jerked its head to avoid getting it in a vulnerable spot. It also managed to flip its body back over, forcing Requiem to jump away before he was crushed. As he rolled away, Requiem glanced over at Adento.

“I’m trying to find the weak spot. This is a dragon. Dragons always have a reverse scale! If we find the right one, it will die with ease!”

“Heh, maybe you’re more useful than you look. Fine, we’ll do it your way.” Adento chuckled. “This bastard is too mindful of his face. How do you want to do this?”

Requiem was a bit surprised he was differing from him, but he decided to take it.

“I have a grappling hook. I need to get behind it. Then get it to reel it’s head back. I’ll hook him like a fish.”

“Sounds good, let’s string up this snake.”

Adento and Requiem split immediately just in time as the dragon lunged forward. As for which of them it went for, it seemed more upset at Adento who had knocked it over. Requiem’s attacks on its belly had been aimless, and so Adento seemed to have its aggression. Requiem wasn’t sure how complex the dragon’s AI was, but it seemed pretty simple. As he ran around the backside, leaping over a tail swipe, the dragon had completely turned on Adento. He could no longer see what the other man was doing to keep the dragon occupied, but he didn’t need to know the other man’s secrets, just as the other man didn’t need to know his own.

Requiem pulled out the grappling hook he had found earlier. He hadn’t used it much up until this point. It helped him get past a few challenges and even recover a treasure chest. He now aimed it up at a chandelier hanging from the ceiling. It was swaying back and forth, but with Requiem’s reflexes and eye acuity, this was a rather simple shot. He waited until the dragon let out a roar. It threw back its head, likely trying to protect its eyes again. He shot through the chandelier. The hook reached the end and then fell, catching on the chandelier and swinging down in an arc instead of a straight line.

With the dragon’s mouth open, it lowered its head again to shot fire, but its mouth caught on the hook. The force caused my metal wire to go taut, and I left the ground for a moment.

“Clippy!”

Clippy temporarily increased my weight a bit. I swung back down as the dragon was pulled up. Its bare stomach was revealed. Unfortunately, its back was to me. While still holding the rope, I swung around the dragon, intending to before an attack that only grazed the reverse scale. However, before I could do so, the dragon suddenly jerked, and a moment later it disappeared in a puff of smoke.

A ring appeared, falling to the ground, but before Requiem could even turn to Adento, he had already jumped and caught it, slipping it on. It quickly became apparent to Requiem why Adento had let him make the plan. He probably assumed that like himself, Requiem would pick the option that made him safer. That was exactly what Adento wanted because that would leave him in a situation where he could get the item for defeating the dragon by puncturing the reverse scale.

Not only did he know where the reverse scale was, but he also knew that there would be an item from it. That meant he was playing Requiem from the beginning.

“That ring increases speed! It’s a total cheat ability! That bastard, not even discussing sharing!” Clippy fumed in his head.

 When Adento noticed Requiem looking at him, he let out a laugh. “I did the final kill, it’s only natural I take the rewards.”

“Indeed,” Requiem responded, sounding neither pleased nor displeased. “How did you know where the reverse scale was?”

“I already said, I’m a hunter. I can feel these things.” He grinned. “Come on, kid. You’re not half bad. Follow me, and I’ll guarantee you the top three. An old hunter like me, the androids won’t know what hit them!”

Requiem didn’t know if Adento was lying about his so-called Hunter’s instinct. It could have been a lucky guess. Requiem felt agitated. Adento was a human who had immediately attacked the right area and then spoke of instincts. Requiem was so worried about maintaining his deception, that he hadn’t even considered acting so blatant. What if he had struck the dragon in its weakness from the start? Who would say anything against that? It seemed like he still had a long way to go.

However, as he watched Adento walk on ahead, putting his back to Requiem as he continued down to the next floor. The environment changed. Adento might have been the hunter on this level, but who would be the hunter, and who would the hunted in the end was still up for grabs. Requiem continued into the dungeon after him, keeping his form in his sight.

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