Chapter 77 - A Traditional Hero (3)
Gluttony's 4th stage function, Transmission, was the core of Overwrite, and it was literally a double-edged sword. If it was successful, it would give Theo more of the author's ability, beyond the little which had been extracted from the essence. However, if it failed, he would lose all the abilities he had obtained previously and, in turn, receive a mental blow.
Theodore was currently standing on a perilous cliff.
The focus completely disappeared from his eyes, and his body lost its vitality. The whirling memories swirling in his head forced him to cut down his five senses. He couldn't tell where Alfred Bellontes' memories ended and where Theodore Miller's memories began. As the boundaries between their egos collapsed, their memories mixed together into a mess. Theo's mentality didn't fit his age, but it was hard for him to completely accept the hero's soul.
Somehow, Theo managed to form a mental structure which captured the broken egos, but the mental challenge caused his eyes to become bloodshot.
'This... Hang on...!'
If he didn't look back on himself constantly, it was likely that he would forget who he was. Even though it was only a fragment, Alfred's soul overwhelmed Theo's consciousness, and the memories and abilities drove Theo's body to the brink. His senses expanded, producing what seemed to be short-term visions of the near future, and it also made him feel dizzy.
However, if this continued, he wouldn't even last five minutes before being overwhelmed. It was a reality which couldn't be reversed through will and determination; it was the predicted ending for an idiot who couldn't figure out his limits.
Funnily enough, it was Pride who rescued him.
-How dare you ignore me when I'm right in front of you!
While Theo was engulfed by the confusion of his mind, Superbia became furious and attacked him.
The flesh of the predator unintentionally stimulated Theo's survival instincts. The heart which had stopped moving started beating again, while his loosened nerves and muscles became taut and filled with tension.
]Focus returned to Theodore's empty eyes as the sound of the tail sliced through the air. This time, it was aiming for Theo's neck instead of his heart. It was a blow which even Alfred couldn't avoid completely, so the willpower of the two people facing death became perfectly matched up.
Theo moved one beat ahead. The tail, which was capable of tearing steel apart, fell before him. Even if he managed to deflect half the trajectory, his neck would still get sliced. Nevertheless, Theo was confident he could avoid it as he ducked and the sound passed over his head. A few strands of hair were sliced off and scattered around.
-It is a useless effort! Superbia stretched out its forelimbs, which looked like tentacles, at a terrifying speed.
They didn't reach the speed of sound, but there were 27 of them. It was a 360-degree attack which made evasion impossible. The number and range completely surpassed Theo's mobility.
However, Theodore observed the tentacles with a calm expression. 'This is the acid roper from the western swamps... Its tentacles will melt the human body immediately.'
The tentacles, which emitted strongly acidic slime, came from a predator in the swamps. They were light, so getting hit by the tentacles wouldn't hurt, but the slime which melted bones and muscles was a really terribly weapon.
However, Theo had read about the weakness of the acid roper in the encyclopedia before, so he raised both his arms up without retreating.
'Battle Song. Rhapsody of Power. Forte.'
Simultaneously, one additional magic wrapped around his arms. "Enchant-Burning Hands!"
From his fingertips to his elbows, Theodore's arm burned with a red flame. The focused magic power would turn anything it made contact with into charcoal. It was enough to evaporate the acid before it touched the skin!
The blazing fists hit the tentacles aiming for him. Papang! Bang! Papang!
This was different from the fluidity of Lee Yoonsung. Alfred had learned practical fighting techniques directly. They were strikes which utilized the fists, back of the hands, and the elbows. His strikes left behind a dim haze as he knocked away the 27 tentacles.
-What?! Superbia hadn't expected its attack to be overcome, so it couldn't hide its surprise.
If Theodore hadn't used Transmission, then he might have died right then. Alfred lacked knowledge and magic, while Theodore lacked the boldness and combat senses of a warrior. So, this was a response made possible only due to the combined abilities of the two.
After defending against the tentacles and blade tail, Theo received a clear view of Superbia.
'Memorize. Two Slots Open. Volcanic Shell.'
The Volcanic Shells hit its upper body directly.
There was a large shock wave. Theo used the momentum of that shock wave to widen his distance from Superbia. He was able to gain a temporary advantage, but he didn't have a chance of winning this battle. The next time, Superbia could come up with a creature he didn't know about.
Once Theodore was 20 meters away, he saw the mass of flesh taking on a new form.
'Its regeneration is pretty fast even though the upper body was completely crushed... Seems that master level destructiveness is truly required to defeat it.'
He couldn't deal the final blow. Theodore bit his lips as he realized this once again. Inferno was the only magic he had which surpassed the destructiveness of Volcanic Shell, and he didn't think that it could completely erase Superbia's whole body as it had survived the bombardment of Elder Herman and the other war mages.
Unsurprisingly, Superbia quickly recovered. After the damage areas of the head were restored, Superbia glared at Theo. Magic Bullet, Burning Hands, Volcanic Shell... they were the means of attack which worked against it.
-I see. Your style is shock and fire, Superbia muttered in small voice, then it started to reassemble its traits accordingly. Its nickname of 'peak predator' wouldn't fit it if all it used was violence. The true power of Superbia was its ability to eliminate its own weakness and neutralize the opponent's strength.
The use of flames as a weapon had appeared all over the world, along with the means to neutralize it.
'A red drake's scales, a chroma turtle's carapace, a salamander's heat-proof skin, and a hellhound's body.'
Crunch.... Crunchhh... Crunch....
Three traits were applied to the body of a hellhound which was emitting heat. The red drake's scales appeared on top of the salamander skin that shone with a light red, while a black shell wrapped around Superbia's fragile face and joints.
This was the form which had slaughtered the eight war mages, including Herman.
-I made you wait, Monkey.
A red light shone in Superbia's eyes. Once it took this form, even swimming in lava was possible. The combination of the three qualities could neutralize 6th Circle fire magic, making it a deadly enemy for Theodore.
If Theo's attacks didn't work at all, it would be nothing but a public execution. The only thing which could break through was Magic Bullet, and that depended on pure destructive power.
As he thought this, a blue light emerged from Theo's index finger and struck Superbia's head.
The black shell wrapped around Superbia's face split slightly.
-Kuhuhu, that tickles.
Not a single drop of blood emerged. It was evidence that Magic Bullet couldn't pierce the carapace wrapped around it. Theo stiffened as his intuition felt it. That wasn't the maximum output, but it still contained a considerable amount of power. The shell of the unknown creature was simply too hard.
The monster roared with the assurance of its superiority.
The noise also caused a vibration. The huge roar caused the earth to shake, and any beast which heard it froze. Theodore's eardrums burst as he used healing magic, and he momentarily frowned from the pain.
The monster kicked off against the ground and plunged toward Theodore.
Its movements was several times faster than that of a human or beast. The monster was over 5 meters in length, but it crossed a few dozen meters in the blink of an eye. Indeed, in just three steps, Superbia erased that gap Theo had opened.
Its long sword-like claws were now lunging toward Theo.
Three lines were drawn at the spot where Theo had just been standing, and the cut stones split apart. The claws were as sharp as swords and contained a massive weight. It was horrifying to see leaves split apart just from the wind pressure.
Every time Superbia swung its claws, a few trees were cut to pieces, and empty spaces appeared in an instant. In the end, four claws sliced at Theo.
However, that Theo scattered like a mirage. As the illusion of Theodore faded, his form could be seen breathing heavily in the distance.
It was a skill he had saved until now-Illusion Track. It was the ability to leave an illusion of himself. This was a successful trick because Superbia had concentrated all its traits on physical abilities.
'Perhaps I can do it twice more. Damn, it's too good to waste like this.'
He didn't have time to take measures and ended up using one of his hidden cards. Illusion Track had saved his life, but it had wasted one of Theo's hidden cards.
Just like how Magic Bullet and fire magic lost their usefulness, the ability would become irrelevant once it was shown to Superbia. He needed extraordinary tactics and methods which hadn't been displayed yet.
...Yes, there was one tactic and method he had yet to show.
Theodore looked down at his hands and spoke in an uncertain tone, "Is it possible?"
Right now, his body was in an extremely unstable state. It was the limit of Alfred and Theo's strength as their memories and spirits continued to mix and scatter. If the two people hadn't united to take care of Superbia, their egos would've collapsed together already.
However, neither Theodore nor Alfred had thought of this tactic until now. If it were successful, even that monster couldn't escape a deadly injury.
"Well, let's try it once, Prince Alfred."
Theo nodded and smiled as he heard, 'A man shouldn't avoid a challenge.'
It was the temperament of a hero. The innate qualities of Alfred Bellontes were blooming inside of Theodore Miller. Heroes always won at the crossroads of fate and did what people deemed were impossible.
If so, his victory would be decided at this moment.
As Theodore gathered up all of his remaining magic power, a relentless heat rushed through him.