Everyone was momentarily stunned when Zi Yi took a cheap shot at Halls in the middle of a boss fight. Not just any boss fight, but one that was against a rare boss over level 40! Even if it was just a joke, was this really the time for one? However, everyone knew that Zi Yi would be the last person to joke around in a situation like this.
After their initial shock wore off, a second arrow was released by Zi Yi into the void.
Just like the first arrow, it disappeared. However, this arrow stayed lurking within the void much longer than usual. It almost felt as if the arrow had been lost and could not find its way out, but that was not the case at all.
Luna was the first to notice that something was off due to the sudden change in Zi Yi's stacks. She had been keeping a close eye on everyone's stacks and saw that the Restless Souls stacks Zi Yi possessed just moments before, was no longer there.
This time Halls stayed on full alert mode. He always realized how fearsome Zi Yi's class was, but experiencing it firsthand could only be described as terrifying. Imagine waiting for an attack that you know is coming, but arrives whenever it pleases. It was similar to playing a game of Russian Roulette. One knows the bullet is in the chamber and will eventually shoot, just not when that moment will arrive.
However, if that was all Halls had to deal with then he would have been grateful. But unfortunately, Nekrostis was not taking a break just because Zi Yi had turned on them.
After entering into its humanoid form, Nekrostis physical attack strength was enhanced greatly in terms of raw power. One would think that given its boney and frail looking structure that there would be little power behind the boss monster's attacks, however, they would be sorely mistaken.
Nekrostis formed a fist with its skeletal hand and aimed it right at Halls.
Halls positioned his shield to intercept the attack. There was a faint aura around his shield when Nekrostis hand made contact with it. There was a small pause, but at the next moment, Nekrostis was sent sliding back a few meters. This was caused by Halls using his Rebound skill.
"His attack power has almost tripled in his second stage...!" Halls groaned as he blocked the attack.
At nearly the same time he successfully blocked Nekrostis' attack, an arrow left the void and arrived just 25cm away from Halls. It was like a predator waiting for the perfect moment to strike!
7,665/16,008 HP Remaining! (Halls)
"Too close!" Halls said as his head shook from the impact of the arrow. The arrows were appearing way too close for him to react in time. In other words, there was no way he could dodge them with his current speed and reaction time. If things kept coming on this way, then even with Luna's heals, he would be unable to survive the onslaught of both Zi Yi and Nekrostis!
"I'm afraid you'll have to sit this one out for a bit." Izroth said as he used the Crystallization skill from his Crystal Sea Head Ornament to encase Zi Yi in a body of crystal and prevented her from taking any course of action. While this would buy them some time to reorganize themselves, his Crystallization skill would not hold forever and so they had to figure out what was going on and fast.
"Why did Zi Yi suddenly attack us?" Guan Yu questioned with a frown. He and Halls may tease her at times, however, it was always in a friendly way. It was definitely not something that would warrant such an aggressive response during a critical boss fight!
Mariposa furrowed her brows as she asked herself the same question. There was no alert from the battle logs about anything... Wait! As Mariposa manually checked over the most recent battle logs, something immediately stood out and grabbed her attention. So that was why Zi Yi was acting so weird!
"Zi Yi is being influenced by the skill Hand of Darkness. It seems that when Nekrostis transformed, it somehow took control of Zi Yi. I assume it has something to do with the stacks of Restless Souls as Zi YI had the most when it happened and now they're all gone." Luna explained with a thoughtful expression on her face as she also concentrated on healing Halls.
It did not take long for Nekrostis to regain its balance. It launched forward and slammed its boney fist into Halls' shield. After two more attacks with its fist, it then swept its tail made of bones out towards Halls. In total, it shaved off nearly 11,000 HP from Halls, but Luna was timing her heals with perfection and prevented him from falling too far into the danger zone.
There were certain skills that players would not be alerted to and would remain in the dark about unless they manually checked through the battle logs. Even then, it was still up to the player to piece things together on their own as skills such as the Hand of Darkness usually only included the time and name.
Of course, checking the battle logs in the middle of a fight was far from ideal. After all, the main reason battle logs existed was so that players could learn and grow from their mistakes after a fight was done, not during it.
"Do you know how long the effects will last?" Izroth asked as he scanned the skeletal figure of Nekrostis for its weak point. Its previous weak point had disappeared after its transformation, therefore, Izroth had to do things the old fashioned way and attack different areas until he managed to locate one.
Izroth gathered energy at his fingertip at it pierced through the hardened bones of Nekrostis. He infused his Fissuring Point with a few points of his Essence to increase the deadly force behind the attack.
It was at times like this that his Fissuring Point skill shined the greatest. While the defenses of Nekrostis was not necessarily high by any means, it was still fairly sturdy as a boss monster. Therefore, a skill that completely ignored all the defenses in its path like Izroth's Fissuring Point was ideal for these kinds of situations. This was even more so when he had a trait like Soul Essence to pair with it.
Luna nodded her head and responded, "Twenty seconds."
"Then, we should be fine for the time being." Izroth said. If one did not struggle against it then his Crystallization skill would last for twenty seconds. Since Zi Yi was not resisting the skill itself, there should be no problem with it lasting the full twenty seconds.
On the downside, Izroth would not be able to use this skill again during this boss fight due to its ten minute cooldown time. Therefore, if they did not come up with a solid countermeasure against the Hand of Darkness and Luna's theory about the person with the most stacks of Restless Souls being selected turned out to be correct, then...
'I will be next.'
Due to Izroth's interference, they had no idea what limitations, if any, the Hand of Darkness skill possessed. If it took control of him and forced him to use the skills at his disposal, then nothing needed to even be said about the disastrous results that could bring. In the end, there was only one person present he could rely on to stop him for a full twenty seconds if he used his full strength.
Izroth retreated after a few more strikes against Nekrostis with his sword and fell back next to Luna.
"If what you say is correct, then I will be the next target. We still have too little information about the skill itself, therefore, I'll be counting on you if things get too out of hand when the time comes." Izroth said in a carefree manner.
"You can count on me." Luna said in a reassuring and confident tone of voice.
Izroth gave a slight nod before dashing back towards Nekrostis.
A smile unknowingly crept onto Luna's face without her even realizing it. For some reason, she felt happy that Izroth was willing to count on her. Even though she knew he probably meant nothing by it, nevertheless, it still put a smile onto her face to hear those words coming directly from him.
Twenty seconds passed by and Izroth's Crystallization skill ended. Just as Luna said, the Hand of Darkness no longer affected Zi Yi and she was freed from the control of Nekrostis.
"It's good to have you back." Luna said.
"Indeed, you've worried us quite a bit." Mariposa commented.
"Trust me, it's good to be back. What a bizarre feeling. I could see and feel everything I was doing, but I had no control over any of the actions I performed while in that state. There was no way for me to communicate or hear what was going on. What a terrifying skill for a boss to have in its arsenal." Zi Yi stated.
Luna took a moment to catch Zi Yi up on her findings and immediately after hearing what Luna had to say, a worrisome expression appeared on her face. Of all the people to be next, it had to be him!
"Let's just hope that our luck is not too bad." Zi Yi said. Since Zi Yi's Void Jump skill could be used during the Hand of Darkness, who knew what would happen if Izroth was affected? However, all they could do was take care of it when the situation arises.
"I had some time to think about a few things while I was being controlled by the Hand of Darkness. I may have figured out how we're accumulating stacks of plague, as well as, how to counter it." Zi Yi said.
She had not just spent those twenty seconds panicking. After the first three seconds, she found that there was nothing she could do to escape, therefore, she used her remaining time to organize her thoughts and piece a couple of things together.
While seventeen seconds may not be much time for others, it was more than enough for someone with Zi Yi's capabilities.
Everyone was taken aback by Zi Yi's statement. She had figured out how the plague stacks worked so fast?! Usually, against bosses like this, guilds would send in a scouting party to test the waters and gather sufficient data about the boss before committing to a real fight.
They would then use that collected data to formulate a solid battle plan to defeat the boss with as little complications as possible. However, it could take many fights just to understand how some of the bosses skills worked and yet, they had not even finished an entire fight before she discovered something. How could they not be shocked?
As they fought against Nekrostis, Zi Yi explained her thoughts. By the time she finished, everyone had a slight look of disbelief on their face. Even Izroth was a bit surprised by what Zi Yi had just said.
"Are you certain?" Izroth asked.
Zi Yi nodded and replied, "I still had a few reservations before, however, after listening to Luna's findings while I was trapped within the Hand of Darkness, I'm confident without a doubt."
'Who would have thought...'
"Then, we will go based off of your suggestion." Izroth said. Of course, no one objected to what Zi Yi suggested and would go along with it as well.
Even though Nekrostis was much stronger in its humanoid form, Izroth and his party still held their ground. In fact, their attacks grew even more relentless as the fight went on. It did not take long for them to bring Nekrostis' HP down to the 40% mark.
"Foolish bags of flesh! Bathe in the darkness of the Nether Realm!" Nekrostis roared as a violet light flashed throughout the chambers. It was the Aura of Death, but unlike before, Nekrostis did not bother entering into its purple sphere form before using it!