A cautious expression appeared on the faces of the Blue Oasis members when they saw how unstable the Aqua Drifter's body had become. There was only one word that came to mind when a sudden change happened to a monster out of nowhere—danger!
"Fall back!" Feint roared, however, Second Tyrant had already begun his retreat. As for Luna and Tagz, the two of them were standing at a safe distance since the beginning of the fight, therefore, they did not have to fall back too much.
After moving off to a safe distance, the group carefully observed the Aqua Drifter. In the blink of an eye, by the time the Aqua Drifter's body stabilized, the creature had shrunk to nearly half of its original size.
"What's going on? Why did it change sizes?" Tagz questioned with a look of confusion on his face. The size of the Aqua Drifter had indeed gotten smaller, however, that was only when one considered its overall height. The Aqua Drifter did not just shrink, but its liquid body had somehow become wider and longer.
"That's not all that happened. Look closer." Feint stated as his expression turned increasingly serious.
At a glance, Tagz failed to notice anything different—besides the fact that the Aqua Drifter's form change in size. However, after hearing Feint's words and taking a closer look, he discovered something shocking!
"Why are there two of them?!" Tagz exclaimed as he drew in a breath of cold air. At first, he thought that the Aqua Drifter had just gotten longer and wider, but in actuality, there was a second Aqua Drifter right behind the original one that they were attacking!
Luna inwardly frowned as she thought to herself, "Is this the result of the hardcore effect, propagate?"
Name: Aqua Drifter of the Sprite Dwellings(Normal)
Hardcore Effect(s): [Propagate]
Name: Aqua Drifter of the Sprite Dwellings(Normal)
Hardcore Effect(s): [Propagate]
Although Feint's facial expression appeared calm on the outside, his mind was all over the place. Dealing with one Aqua Drifter was already challenging enough and now he was supposed to somehow maintain the focus of two? His mind was racing to think of a solution.
"Hmph, it's just one more normal monster. Look, even though its HP is at 100%, it only has half the amount of health that the other Aqua Drifter started with. It's obviously weaker. Besides, unless we know a way out of this place, even if we run to the end of this area we still won't be able to escape." Second Tyrant scoffed.
Second Tyrant was annoyed by the actions of the Aqua Drifter and felt as if he had been fooled by the creature. He thought that the monster was in the process of exploding given how unstable its liquid body had become, however, it was just splitting itself apart!
In RML raids and dungeons, it was common knowledge that once a player engaged a monster in battle there were only three ways for it to end. The first was their victory and the death of the monster, and the second was their defeat and death at the hand of the monster. As for the third, one required a specialized stealth skill or item to disengage the monster's aggro.
Even if they ran away from the monster, it would only follow them. But, if it was just that, then there would not be an issue. The main problem was that having a monster follow them in a raid or dungeon would automatically pull any monsters they pass by while giving chase. In the end, instead of dealing with just two monsters, they could end up facing an entire horde of monsters! Needless to say, their deaths at that point would be inevitable.
Of course, Feint was well aware of this fact. However, he believed that Second Tyrant was taking this situation too lightly because he was not the one who had to hold the Aqua Drifters aggro.
Without warning, the two Aqua Drifters turned their attention to Feint who still held the majority of the aggro.
As if their actions were linked together, the two Aqua Drifters rushed forward and launched their vicious assault. Although their movements were neither fast nor agile, it more than made up for it with the attack range of its tentacles.
Each of the Aqua Drifters had a single tentacle shoot out from their bodies which they aimed right at Feint. Even though the Aqua Drifter had split into two separate entities, the speed of the tentacles was not any slower.
Feint reacted in a timely manner as he avoided the first strike and just barely dodged the one that followed closely behind. However, he realized from that brief encounter that it would be impossible for him to keep pace for an extended period of time.
As Feint concentrated on evading the attacks of the Aqua Drifters, Luna was calmly assessing the current situation—though there was something that troubled her.
"The Great Palace Seeker Fish also possessed the propagate hardcore effect, however, they never displayed the ability to split into two separate entities as the Aqua Drifter just did. Is it possible that an unknown trigger point exists?" Luna thought to herself.
Unfortunately, there was a severe lack of empirical evidence that was available when it came to normal raids, let alone a hardcore raid. Although some basic information about raids was included in the player's handbook, hardcore effects were not considered "basic".
There were elements that players had to comprehend by themselves naturally over time. This was the main reason why big guilds would send an advanced scouting team ahead to feel out the dungeon, raid, or area before sending in the main party.
But, Blue Oasis was not given this luxury due to their special circumstances. Not only that, but they were completely out of communication with the other raid group! Though even if they were able to reach the other raid group, what use would it be since that group likely trailed behind them?
All of a sudden, one of the Aqua Drifter's tentacles that shot towards Feint split into dozens of smaller tentacles that moved in unpredictable ways. Despite being caught off guard by the abrupt change in the Aqua Drifter's attack pattern, Feint reacted swiftly and evaded the attack. However, even though he avoided the attack from the first Aqua Drifter, the inevitable finally happened.
The attack from the second Aqua Drifter slammed into Feint's body twice and forced him back. Luckily, he was shielded by Luna's Protective Barrier skill just before the tentacle struck him, otherwise, even with his successful guard of the first part of that attack, he would have lost nearly 50% of his HP!
As for the second part of the Aqua Drifter's attack, Feint was unable to dodge or guard it in time. Although Luna's Protective Barrier managed to soak up some of the damage, in the end, he still lost nearly 10,000 points of his health!
Feint could not help but sigh in relief when he viewed his HP going back up. He was grateful that Luna, a healer, was transported to the same location as him. He could not imagine trying to rely on potions alone to face the monsters before him. But, more importantly...
"What fast reaction time." Feint muttered to himself as he steadied his balance. He tightened his fist as he kicked off his backfoot and dashed forward.
"If that's the case, then I have no need to worry." Feint's movements had been somewhat tense up until now because he was too worried about getting struck. After all, even with a healer present, it was one of unknown origins and not someone from his Blue Oasis. How could he not feel uncomfortable trusting his life to some stranger in a high stakes situation?
However, after a few moments of being in combat, Feint's movements became less restricted and more aggressive to match his usual playstyle. Although this left him open at certain points to a few non-critical hits, Luna would swiftly restore his HP or protect him with a perfectly timed barrier. But, the fact that Feint was willing to receive those hits meant that he had grown to trust in Luna's abilities in a short time frame.
"For some reason, I feel invincible right now. Where has such a godlike healer been hiding all this time? I hate to admit it, but even vice guild leader Complex Assault's healing is not this flawless. Not to mention, her mana... Just how much does she have?" Feint thought to himself as he noticed that Luna's mana had not even budged in the party's interface! It was at that point he felt as though even if another Aqua Drifter was to appear, it would not be an issue!
With Feint taking a more aggressive approach on his combat style, he near effortlessly secured the aggro of the two Aqua Drifters. This allowed Second Tyrant and Tagz to increase their overall damage output without the fear of becoming targeted by the creatures.
The figure of a shadow appeared at the back of the original Aqua Drifter. At the same time, two tendrils with sharp drill-like ends sped outward from each side of that shadowy figure and impaled the sea creature.
The shadow vanished and in its place appeared Second Tyrant with a dagger in his hand that emitted a faint bloodlust. At his sides were two tendrils approximately three meters in length that were made from pure shadows. The shadow tendrils appeared to have a mind of their own as they retreated backward after landing a blow on the Aqua Drifter.
This was one of the main damage dealing and crowd control skills of Second Tyrant's Night Shade class called Night Hunt. Not only was Second Tyrant capable of controlling the shadow tendrils, but they were also able to act independently. The length of the shadow tendrils could also change from anywhere between one to six meters! The sole downside was that the longer the shadow tendrils were, the more difficult it was to control and the less damage it could deal to its target.
With Second Tyrant and Tagz stepping up their damage, as well as, Feint having confidence in Luna's healing abilities, the HP of the original Aqua Drifter rapidly fell!
The group concentrated their crowd control abilities on the second Aqua Drifter to limit its movements while they finished off the first Aqua Drifter. Using this strategy, it put less stress on Feint who was acting as the frontline for the party.
"See? What did I tell you? Dealing with this much is only so-so! Let's hurry up and end this!" Second Tyrant stated with a grin as he hastened his assault using his Night Hunt skill.
Feint hated to admit it, but perhaps Second Tyrant was correct. Although it was a hardcore raid, in the end, a normal monster was still a normal monster. Not to mention, they also had the luck of the draw when it came to having a skilled healer. What was there to fear?
It did not take long for the group to finish off one of the Aqua Drifters. As the members of Blue Oasis were growing somewhat laxer after having done so, Luna could not shake the strange feeling that something was off. At first, she thought that it had something to do with the Aqua Drifters, however, that strange feeling was growing stronger with every passing moment.
"Why do I still feel uneasy?" Luna questioned internally.
Just as this thought crossed Luna's mind, she heard the sound of rapidly approaching footsteps. The noise was coming from the other passageway that Feint originally wanted to take since no monsters were guarding it.
"These footsteps... Players?" Luna thought to herself. She did not forget the group of players led by Abstract that was sent to scout ahead. If she remembered correctly, that group was separated as well when they entered into the Sprite Dwellings.
"Hm?" The members of Blue Oasis heard the footsteps later than Luna, but it immediately caught their attention and caused them to go on guard.
A few moments later, two individuals came rushing out from the passageway who were immediately recognizable. The first was the captain of Blue Oasis' 5th squad, Abstract. He was being closely followed by another member of Blue Oasis, I Do Zero Quests.
Almost instantly after they exited the passageway, Abstract and I Do Zero Quests noticed Luna's group in the near distance. A look of relief found its way onto Abstract's face, but as if remembering something, his facial expression became gloomy.
"It's Captain Abstract!" Feint stated in an excited tone. Now that they had more help rushing over, dealing with the remaining Aqua Drifter would become no challenge at all!
Second Tyrant, however, was not too happy to see Abstract. This was his chance to prove his command abilities, but now that a captain had shown up, he no longer possessed the highest level of authority present. What a wasted opportunity!
Luna, on the other hand, narrowed her eyes slightly. Those were not the movements of people who were rushing over to help. Those were the movements of people running away from something!
"Something is not right." Luna warned and just as she did so, she felt the ground beneath her feet slightly tremble.
"Run!" I Do Zero Quests shouted without slowing down.
Run? Why would they need to run? Wasn't I Do Zero Quests overreacting? After all, they were just fighting a normal monster. They even already defeated one!
But, just a few seconds after I Do Zero Quests shouted, the loud sound of roars and battle cries echoed from within the passageway that he and Abstract had just run out of.
Luna's expression became deathly calm when she saw what poured out the passageway. As for Feint, Second Tyrant, and Tagz—there was a look of shock and disbelief on their faces. However, those expressions soon turned to one just as gloomy as Abstract's.
"T-this... You're joking, right...?" Tagz muttered as his attacks against the Aqua Drifter came to a sudden halt.
"This is troublesome." Luna's gaze settled onto what was behind Abstract and I Do Zero Quests. At first, what came out of the passageway was a single Aqua Drifter. But, it did not stop there.
Skrrrreeeeeeat! Skreeeeeeeat! Skreeee...
1... 5... 10... 20...30! The numbers kept increasing as it almost seemed as if a flood of water was chasing after them and it did not appear to be slowing down in the slightest!