I started sprinting through the woods to follow the group that was just in front of me. Ace and Yoona were to my right and left sides and followed suit, using any means possible to increase our distance and speed. If there indeed was a field boss, there was absolutely no way we were going to miss that. All three of us knew the importance of field bosses, so we didn't even hesitate for a second to move deeper into the woods.
Dodging through trees and shrubbery, we spot a large circular area cleared of any trees. The trees were violently shredded off, with only the small trunks protruding from the ground. With the absence of many trees, the sun was able to penetrate the underwood causing several patches of light to shine through. Whatever monster that was able to change the landscape this drastically was indeed no joke. I look forward; there were several groups of players decked out in full gear, eyeing something intently.
I quickly understood what they were looking at because while closing in; I could see in front of me something that was jaw-droppingly massive, it's shadow towering over the multiple groups that surrounded it. Some players stood ready to fight, while others were keeping their distance away.
"Stand by!" Someone yelled, "Make sure to keep your distance."
His voice was deep and gruff, and looking towards him I could see that he was a large, tall bald man with large muscles and sharp features. He was wearing a heavy, multilayered iron plate armor enveloped in leather clothing. He was equipped with a sword and shield, so I assumed he must be a Knight class.
"Yes, boss!" One of the players in his group said, increasing his distance away from the monster. Interesting, I thought. That must mean that the previous person talking has to be the leader of the group. Further glancing around, I could count a cluster of six other groups with varying amounts of people.
Since we weren't in the bosses aggro range, it was standing by waiting for anyone to attack. Field bosses are a particular type of boss that only spawn during certain hours of the game, and it might take a full twenty-four hours before it could be seen again once killed. Killing a field boss would mean a massive advantage to players because it gave them vast amounts of experience and had the chance to drop rare items.
"Oi, what the fuck do you think you're doing?" Another voice commanded.
The voice came from the opposite direction this time. Peering over, I could see a man that was a little shorter than me, holding a bow and arrow. He had a comb-over cut, with a stout beard. A group of players stood behind him, making him another group leader. These two were the most prominent groups in the area, containing seven to eight members.
"We found this boss first, so you should back the fuck off." The guy with the beard said, his voice was harsh and threatening.
"You can't just claim this territory as yours." The bald person replied defensively.
"Why not?" He asked, his tone menacing.
"That's not how field bosses work, field bosses are meant for several groups to take out." The bald man raised his eyebrow. "Unless you're saying you can take this one out with your group only."
"Tch." The bearded man scowled, thinking about it for a moment. "We might not be able to kill it with just one group, but I sure as hell ain't letting trash like you get the rewards."
"What did you say?"
"I said trash like you shouldn't deserve to get the rewards." He repeated.
"What makes you think that you're stronger than me?"
"Isn't it obvious? You play a shitty class like Knight, classes like those have no damage."
"I don't think it's fair to compare damage. Each class has its different roles in a group."
"That's only true if you know how to play your cla-"
"Are you assuming that I don't know how to play my class?" He interjected, getting increasingly angry.
"I know for a fact you don't," The other person replied with full confidence, "I'll completely smash you in a one on one."
"Is that a threat, now?"
"What if it is? What're you gonna to do about it?" He asked, incredulously.
"It looks like you're asking for a fight."
"You think you can take me on?"
"Who knows, but you better back your shit up with more than just your mouth." The bald man replied, drawing his sword from its sheath. "I don't take kindly with people that are all bark and no bite."
The atmosphere suddenly changed, becoming tenser. Both of the groups were staring directly at each other, waiting for which one would make the first move. All of the groups in the area could feel it as well, as none of them dared to make any rash decisions.
Above both players avatar showed a red health bar, their names, and their level. The bald man had the name Hammer while the archer with the beard was named Apoc; both of the leaders were one level higher than me, level eight. They were definitely not to be underestimated.
"H-hey, let's not fight right now," Yoona said next to me, cutting the tension.
Both of the players looked towards our direction, their eyes locked on Yoona. Shit, that's not good, I thought. If they were to start taking their anger on us, we would have to deal with a three-way battle between the group before even fighting the boss. We only had three members in our party, so that was absolutely the worst scenario for us.
I took a glance at Yoona, wondering what she was thinking. Ace did the same too, as both of us didn't want to associate ourselves with the conflict. Yoona only looks at us briefly and gives a small nod. Trust me; it seemed like she was saying. I had a gut feeling that this wasn't going to end well for us.
"Missy, what do you think you're doing?" Apoc said, directing his gaze firstly towards the both of us and then back at her.
"Well, I think we should all work together to defeat this boss first." Yoona said, "Then you guys can try to solve your, uh, quarrel."
"She's not wrong," Hammer intervened, crossing his arms. "But I'll be damned if I'm going to let this guy shit-talk me and get away with it."
"Yeah!" His teammates shouted behind him, getting themselves riled up. "No one gets to talk trash to our leader!"
"Then maybe I'll just bash your skull in and take care of the boss myself," Apoc replied, provoking him.
"I'd like to see you try," Hammer said, narrowing his eyes.
The other groups were standing quietly by and didn't try to stop the conflict. Some were too scared to, afraid that they would immediately get ripped apart if they tried to intervene, while others were probably thinking the same thing I was. Let them fight. Fewer groups fighting the boss meant more experience to go around.
The experience you get from the boss is equally divided by how many players participate in the fight, but the more damage your party deals to the boss, the higher the chance better gear would drop. Just letting the two groups fight it out to their heart's content would benefit the other groups in a massive way.
"Hey, come on now," Yoona said softly, trying to ease their anger.
"Shut it, missy," Apoc said. "People like you should just fuck off and let the real men handle their business."
"Why are you so rude?" She questioned, "I just want you guys to handle things respectfully."
"It's because shitters like you shouldn't tell me what to do."
"Hey." It was Ace that spoke out this time; he was getting irritated. "Don't talk to her that way."
Since Ace and Yoona were close friends, I could understand why Ace was getting mad. If someone talked severely about a friend that I knew for a long time; especially a guildmate, I would be furious as well. I looked at Ace and mouthed to him. Stop, it's not worth it. He understood what I had said, gritting his teeth and sending out a big sigh but begrudgingly stopping himself from making any bad decisions.
"Well, aren't you mad?" Apoc taunted at him. "What are you, her father or something?"
"No, we're just friends." Ace replied, "But I suggest you stop."
"But I suggest you stop," Apoc responded, making fun of Ace's thick accent. "How long have you known each other? I would be sad too if I couldn't nail a bitch like her after a few years."
Ace didn't say anything back, but I could feel he was getting increasingly more furious than before. If Apoc continued to taunt Ace like this, it wouldn't be long before the worst scenario situation fell upon us. I didn't know if the person was mocking him intentionally or not, but thinking about it further, he was quite a maniacal person.
I could only hope Ace saw the same thing that I was.
If Ace attacked him first, we would feel the full backlash of Apoc's party, getting eliminated from the fight. No one would complain since we were the smallest group and didn't play a significant role in taking down the field boss. I didn't want to engage a fight that didn't look promising for us, but if we let them do whatever they want. There was no telling what they would do to the other groups.
The team Apoc controlled was undoubtedly a strong team, consisting of mostly level seven players. The only reason why they haven't murdered the rest of the groups to gain control of the zone was that they might not be able to take the field boss down by themselves.
If we let the two big groups fight it out before fighting the boss, however. The winner of that fight will have an advantage over the other players as there is a higher chance that they could ultimately turn on the weaker groups to kill them after the boss was dead, taking their loot. Either way, we were pitted in a scenario that didn't plan well for anyone.
Damn, this guy was smarter than I thought.
Yoona must've realized what was going on earlier than I did because that explains why she wanted to de-escalate the fight. If both of the top groups set aside their differences and fought the boss, that would make it harder for Apoc's group to turn on the weaker players after. Since only so many players were level seven and above this early in the game, no more groups started showing up.
"Hey, stop taunting the guy," Hammer said. "This is between you and me, why are you bringing him into it?"
"You stay quiet." Apoc retorted. "You can fuck off and wait for your turn."
"Oi, what did you say to me!?" Hammer declared, pointing his sword directly at Apoc.
"I said you could fuck off!" Apoc exclaimed, slamming the middle finger right at Hammer's face.
This wasn't going to end well. I could already feel it.
"That's it. We're done talking." Hammer uttered. "The next word that comes out of your mouth, I'll deal with you myself."
"Bring it on. I'll personally shit on you, kid."
That was it. That was the spark that ignited both of the groups. Each of them starting yelling at each other, cussing each other out and screaming derogatory remarks at one another. The rest of the groups slowly backed away, knowing that all it took was for one person to send an attack at the another to start a full-fledged battle.
Getting caught in a quarrel this early into the game was very detrimental, so no one wanted a part in the chaos. I was glad that Ace wasn't the one to initiate the fight, because we would've dug an even bigger hole for ourselves instead. It seemed like there was no way to stop this fight, so I had to accept it and be on alert after the boss got killed.
Apoc nocked an arrow on his bow, getting ready to fire the projectile directly at Hammer. Hammer sees what he's doing, so he puts up his shield to deflect it. If Apoc shot this arrow, it would be a direct declaration of war. Before he could release his hand, however, a piercing voice was heard.
"Hey!" A mysterious person says, a voice cutting through the air. "Are you guys done with your fighting?"
I turned around, trying to find where the loud sound was emanating from. It looked like everyone else did as well because the forest suddenly fell quiet with only a few whispers here and there.
Both of the leaders were shocked and stopped what they were doing, their members equally as dumbfounded. Looking behind me, a single person stood resting his back against a large tree, his hands tucked into his pockets.
Was he always there?
He had flowing grey hair in a typical two-block cut, with the right being slightly longer than the other. He was wearing a white collared shirt with black dress pants, coupled with a long diamond cut earring hanging down from his right ear. He had dark black eyes and a delicate complexion, kind of looking like a Korean pop star. Two daggers could be seen protruding from behind his back; the first was mainly black while the other was white.
Looking closer at his avatar, I realized that his name was just "White." That wasn't the most unnatural thing about him though, because he was also a higher level than everyone else. The icon displayed above his head numbered in the double digits. He was level ten, two levels higher than both of the leaders and currently the highest level person in the area.
"Who the fuck are you?" Apoc asked, lowering down his bow. Hammer put away his sword as well, both of them were intrigued about this new person that just showed up.
"While you were messing around with each other, none of you noticed that you attracted all of the wolves in the area." He said casually, chuckling.
He was right. The thought completely crossed my mind, but the noise that the players made surely must've attracted the surrounding mobs in the area. Looking around closely, I could spot some of the wolves hidden in the shrubbery and behind the trees, preparing for their attack once the players dissipated.
"So, I got an idea." He pointed out. "How about you guys deal with the small wolves while I..."
He says while pulling out his two daggers from behind him, the blades luster glinting in the sunlight. He tilts his head and uses one of the daggers to point in a direction, signifying that he was looking at something. I didn't have to turn around, because I already knew what he was aiming at.
Before anyone could react, he disappears from everyone's sight in a quick blinding flash. It took each and all of us only a few seconds to understand what had just happened because a deafening howl behind us could be heard moments after.
This guy really just charged in and initiated a fight with the boss by himself.
The resulting action was absolute mayhem. With the boss awakened and the surrounding mobs showing themselves, everyone dropped what they were doing immediately and shuffling around, each group trying to get into their formations. Even both of the leaders who were arguing moments earlier turning towards their members, forgetting about the previous argument completely.
"Everyone! Stand guard and take care of these wolves." Hammer directed his members. "After these guys are down, we can focus on the boss. One step at a time!"
"Get these shitty wolves out of here!" Apoc screamed, quickly re-drawing his bow and taking action. "Also, don't let these fuckers steal our loot. We're the top dogs!"
The rest of the groups did the same, each of the players shouting out orders to one another. Everyone was running around frantically, trying their best to avoid other players while dealing with the packs of wolves. Yoona and Ace both look at me, and I could tell we were all thinking the same thing. Use the players as a distraction, and go for damage on the boss itself.
Jumping into action, Ace and Yoona rush ahead of me while I trail behind them, watching their backs. Since the wolves were still on the attack, I had to direct their attention elsewhere and away from the party. The wolves were sure as hell annoying though because it took me a while to get them to aggro onto another party.
"Winta! Get over here quick." Ace yelled, "You gotta help tank the boss."
"I'm a little busy here," I reply back nervously, warding off a couple of wolves.
Since the boss was activated, the aggro range of the boss would change as he moved around. The last thing we wanted to do was direct the boss towards the groups of players because they wouldn't be able to survive an onslaught of both the boss and the multitude of grey wolves.
"Ace, make sure you pay attention to the boss's patterns," Yoona said, firing a magical projectile at the boss.
It was hard to coordinate team communication when everyone's positioning was so jumbled, but I tried my hardest to keep a clear head. I've got an abundance of experience in boss fights from other video games, so this shouldn't be too different. Taking care of the wolves, I hastily regrouped with the team. Yoona starts setting up some rules that we should follow.
"Alright, play safe and learn the boss's attack patterns. After that, we can start forming a plan to kill the thing."
"What about that White guy?" Ace says. "What he doing right now?"
Speaking of that assassin, it didn't take long for us to spot him. He was holding his own, engaged in a tight battle with the boss. The fact that he was still alive and breathing was incredibly shocking. He could be seen quickly darting around the boss and dashing through all of its attacks. Every time the boss would use an ability, he would dodge the incoming strikes and retaliate with an ambush of his own.
"Damn, that guy straight up styling all over the boss." Ace burst out, impressed.
He was solo fighting the boss like it was a piece of cake. The boss was gigantic; several times much bigger than him. He used that to his advantage, however, as the boss couldn't seem to touch him. Maneuvering around the boss, his movements were almost perfect, dodging gracefully and sharply every assault the boss was sending at him like he's done this his whole life.
Damn, he's fucking insane. Who exactly was that guy?
Since there was no need to risk ourselves to any danger, we spend the time to watch him perform instead, learning all of the bosses timings and abilities at a safe distance.
"This guy isn't too bad," Yoona said, surprised.
"Yea, who is he anyway?" I reply.
"No idea, but he seems to know what he's doing."
"That's for sure."
"Yea, he look hella clean." Ace agreed.
After seeing a quick flurry of movements from him, the boss's health was slowly ticking down. Although his attacks weren't strong, they were very quick. Several damage values floated above the boss in quick succession.
"Wait." Yoona paused, pointing at the boss's rear. "You see what he just did?"
"No, what he do?" Ace questioned.
"He's mostly focusing the gut. You can see him use more abilities in that general area."
"Ah, I see it." I replied, "That must be the weak spot then."
It would make sense the gut was the weak spot of that type of boss. I wasn't too sure how we were going to focus on that area though. Ace and I weren't as quick as the supposed assassin, and we couldn't also afford to take any direct hits from the boss.
"It also seems like the boss runs on a two-second off-timer." Yoona noticed.
"...You sure?" I ask, tilting my head sideways.
"Yea yea, I'm positive. Look."
Looking at the bosses movement more carefully, I guess I could see what Yoona was talking about.
"Yea, it does seem like that." I agreed. "But is it always two seconds, or does it alternate."
"I don't know; I would have to see."
Every boss has a set algorithm of attacks. Some bosses' algorithms are complicated while others were pretty straightforward. It depended on what boss you were fighting, but this boss looked like he had a pretty linear attack pattern. He would perform an attack and then pause for two seconds before delivering another.
"Make sure to do it quick." Ace replied, "We only have little time left before the other guy finish their business."
"Ace is right." I replied, "If we're gonna engage the boss, we have to do it now."
"Alright then, here's the plan." Yoona explains, "I'll stay back and assist both of you with projectiles while you guys can coordinate with each other to focus the gut. Make sure you watch out for his attacks, you have two seconds of leniency to act after dodging each one."
"Sound good to me." Ace nodded.
"Alright perfect, stick to the plan, and we'll go from there," Yoona said while raising her staff. "Focus seal!"
A purple light appears below us and grants both of us an attack buff. With both of our weapons ready, we give each other a quick fist bump as we charge headfirst into the battle.
The hardest part about dealing with the boss wasn't the large claws, the thick fur, or even the sharp fangs that it had. It was the massive amount of damage that it could deal. I severely underestimated the damage the boss could inflict on me and had to experience my mistake firsthand when the boss whipped me with its tail.
The boss sent me tumbling back several yards to the ground with that attack, dealing eighty percent of my health. If it weren't for my[Iron Defense], which I quickly activated by instinct, I would've been definitely a goner. Although I was glad to be alive, the excruciating pain I felt from that ordeal made me want to curl up and scream.
"Are you ok, Winter?" Yoona replied, teleporting close to me.
"Yea, I'm fine," I reply meekly, getting up from the ground. That shit really hurt.
"You think you can go on?"
"Yea, just a minor setback. No problem from here on out." I say while popping out a red potion from my inventory. Since the bosses aggro wasn't on me, it gave me plenty of time to drink some potions and refill my health.
Re-engaging the fight, I managed to get the bosses to attack patterns down reasonably quickly, dodging every one of them with ease. I thought it was smooth sailing from here, but I realized as the boss's health got lower and lower, the interval of which he performed abilities started to decrease.
Since I was a bit rusty, I wasn't outputting the max amount of damage that I could have been dealing, but I had to take each step one at a time. Ace, on the other hand, seemed to be enjoying the fight. Even though his movements weren't as refined as it could've been, his decision making was definitely on the better side of things.
Yoona was firing projectile after projectile of various attributes. Fireballs were being launched at the boss, exploding on impact and applying a burn effect. Several icicle shards were mixed between her attacks, so the boss was getting burned and frozen left and right.
Seeing my teammates perform so good, I had to deliver as well. Closing in on the boss, I perfectly time my attacks, weaving in multiple[Cross Slashes]and[Shield Bashes]. If the boss threatened me with an ability, I would reposition using[Shield Charge]and quickly activate[Iron Defense] for safe measure.
The boss's health points were decreasing at a faster rate, steadily shrinking to seventy percent. It also seemed like the rest of the group managed to catch up, because I saw more and more projectiles from throwing stars to arrows thrown at the boss.
I could hear a sharp ringing in my ear after a very fast arrow swished past me and penetrated deep into the thick fur of the boss. Whoever had thrown that arrow was super reckless, as the projectile could've hit me instead. Turning around, I could see a familiar face.
"Oi, fuckwit!" Apoc screeched. "Move out of the way!"
He was nocking another arrow, ready to fire it. Behind him stood his group, which were now done dealing with the wolves from earlier. There were some archers beside him, repeating the same action that he was doing. Not wanting to get hit by any collateral damage, I maneuver myself out of their path.
"Get into formation, team!" Hammer yelled from a distance. It looked like they were done clearing the wolves as well.
His team was mainly consisted of melee classes, with a few mages and one priest in the back of the group. They got into a defensive formation, with tank classes situated at the front and sides, while the ranged classes stood behind them to support.
Each group had their unique variation of formations, but with the added damage of the several groups, the boss was dying quickly. Everyone was doing their part in the fight, and it looked like if we kept it up, then the boss would be taken down in no time.
Keeping up my set of rotations, I was able to keep damage uptime on the boss. Spotting Ace nearby, I quickly dash towards his location, and both of us would get in precise hits everytime his gut was targetable. The melee members of the other various groups started to engage the boss as well, closing their distance rapidly.
Some of the players knew what they were doing, able to steer clear of any danger while learning about the bosses movement. Others, unfortunately, weren't as intelligent. Some would charge at the boss mindlessly, only to get punished immediately, causing them to take massive damage.
"Take this!" A person said, activating a skill and rushing the boss.
It didn't take long for the boss to notice him screaming, because he turned towards the player and lunged his fangs at him. I winced unexpectedly because the boss was able to chew him up in one fell swoop and throw him away like a ragdoll. His body was thrown at a nearby tree, making a hard crunch sound as his health reduced to zero.
The must've definitely hurt.
Hammer's and Apoc's party, on the other hand, was making steady progress. Hammer's frontline was gaining good distance, slowly closing in on the boss while keeping formation. Apoc's party was mainly focused on the backline instead and was doing a good job at positioning on the edge of the bosses aggro range.
"Aim for the eyes, boys. This shit is easy!" Apoc reassured his members.
As the bosses health approached lower and lower percentages, his movements started to become more erratic. This time, instead of having a set downtime on his abilities, he would alternate timings between attacks, making it harder to anticipate his movements. As a result, a couple of players get hit by the boss, some immediately dying on impact.
"Stay alert! The boss gets more active the lower health he gets." I yell to Ace, making sure he doesn't get caught off guard.
"I gotchu, man!" Ace replies triumphantly. "Don't even worry about me, bro."
After being locked into the battle for a bit more, I realized that my stamina and spirit wasn't going to sustain itself any longer. Looking at Ace, I realized that he must've been experiencing the same thing because his breath was getting heavier and more course. The attack buff Yoona placed on us was about to run out as well, so I signaled Ace to retreat.
Grouping back to where Yoona was, she was actively sending projectiles at the boss, teleporting around every time she gained the bosses attention.
"Yoona, how're you holding up?" I ask.
"Doing pretty good." She said, slightly panting. "Could use a bit more mana though!"
Her demeanor completely changed from how she normally was when she was fighting a boss. She looked and acted more calm and collected, entirely different from her usual persona. It was like she turned into a new person. I didn't think she would change that drastically, but it seemed like she was focused completely on the boss.
"You think you could spare another Focus Seal on me and Ace?"
"Uh..." She pondered for a few seconds. "Sure, but I won't have enough mana to cast another set of buffs though."
Before she could activate the skill though, someone comes flying towards our direction, landing close to our vicinity and skidding back a few feet on the ground upon impact. It was the assassin from earlier, the one that was level ten! His movements were as elegant as ever, but not the same could be said about his clothes. His face was smeared with blood, and his pure white shirt was stained with scratch marks and dirt.
"You think you could also spare one for me?" He asks nicely, breathing heavily.
"Yo yo yo, who do you think you are?" Ace interrupts him.
"I saw you guys take on the boss as well." He says nonchalantly, "It looks like you guys know what you're doing, unlike some of these guys."
"Why would we buff you, though?" I questioned him, "What's in it for us?"
"I just thought we could work together and finish the boss quicker." He sighed, "It's fine if you don't want to buff me. Just make sure you get ready for the next phase change."
"Phase change?" I inquire.
"You probably already noticed, but the boss is getting more sporadic the lower health he gets. It's almost a matter of time before his pattern of attack completely changes."
"Alright, you have a fair point." Yoona concedes, raising her staff once again. "Only this one time though... Focus seal!"
Once the attack buff was finished being re-applied, I was about to wait for a chance to build back my spirit and stamina before I re-engaged the boss, but something unexpected happened that no one could've anticipated.
One the boss hit fifty percent health, he started to crouch down in a defensive position, it's fur generating massive amounts of electricity. Moments later, a scream could be heard from one of the players as the boss starts aiming his head upwards and lets out a thunderous howl. The electricity in his fur expands completely outwards, making a shockwave of pure energy radiating from the beast.
Everyone caught within the vicinity of the boss was instantly paralyzed, their bodies completely unable to act. The shockwave also dealt a lot of damage to the groups of players, some of them going from full health into the red zone immediately. Others that sustained some damage throughout the fight and had yet to heal themselves instantly got demolished, dying immediately.
Through the end of it all, the number of players that were previously in the area got cut in half. I had only survived due to the fact that I saw the attack coming, and I have already situated myself a fair amount of distance away from the boss.
"So, I guess that's the phase shift you were talking about, then," Yoona said nervously.
"I guess that is..." White says, leaning back and putting his hands in his pockets.
「You have angered Ragna, The Wolf of the Woods」
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