If there was one lesson that Amira had learned from her father’s death three years ago, it was that the weak die while the strong survive. The official cause of her father’s death was illness, but that had in fact been the result of an assassination attempt by the remnants of a criminal Clan. Ever since Amira understood that, she had begun to shun weakness in any way, shape or form.
The weak obey their masters, and the strong assert their power — that was Amira’s behavioral principle. Such was how her original clan worked: the weaker ones obeyed the leader, the strongest of them… which obviously was Amira. It was the result of her basing its framework on the stories from various sources of Camille’s Clan back in the day.
It was true that Camille had once been like Amira, possessing a rough personality and no-questions-asked leadership policy. But she also had someone to hold her group together: her husband, a trusted ally whom she had known since their days of exploring various Dungeons. That was why, even if things may have come off as extreme to an outsider, there was in fact no issue on the inside.
That had not been the case with Amira’s group, however. From their very first meeting, she had exercised force to make them obey her every order. That was, naturally, not at all a way to start a trusting relationship.
In the end, Amira got abandoned by those people on layer fifty, fighting the Shell Crab alone, dying alone. With no one to resurrect her, she had been booted out through the Guild’s Black Gate, left with only the default set of flaxen garments.
Afterward, Amira questioned the group as to why they had refused to help her; it was at that point when their anger at her dictator-level leadership went over the line, and all of them left her Clan.
Left without a Clan and unable to get past layer fifty, Amira did not change her ways just yet. Even after a long, stern lecture from Camille, she insisted that it was because her teammates had been weak. She went on to try getting into one of the major Clans… which was when she learned of her own reputation.
None of the major Clans had sent her an invitation, and the ones she tried contacting directly had all refused to let her in. Normally, someone with a unique skill was sure to get invitations from all the major Clans, but since they had seen through the Monitors just how egocentric Amira was, they deemed her a totally lost cause.
It was then when Amira finally realized how screwed she was. Even worse, the non-major people were also writing her off as an ally-killer, making it exceedingly difficult for her to find a party to join. And as she feared that her Explorer career would permanently be over, Camille’s meddling gave her one last chance — as a member of a newly-founded Clan.
Amira did not quite like how this was practically nepotism, but seeing no other option in the foreseeable future, she reluctantly joined. The Clan in question was none other than the Absolute Helix, founded by Tsutomu, an Explorer who had defeated the Fire Dragon in a three-member team with Camille. He was also handsomely awarded for his major contributions during the most recent Stampede.
Having seen for herself how capable Tsutomu was, from him exploring the Dungeon with Camille and being awarded by the nobility for his achievements, Amira started out already acknowledging that Tsutomu was strong. As such, was willing to follow his orders. And having considered her disastrous failure at leading a Clan of her own, she decided to live with Tsutomu taking the top leadership role.
Her acknowledgment of strength had not extended to the other members, however. Especially considering who those three were — Hannah, recently infamous as the Feather Tank; Daryl, whose imposing build did not match up with his non-confrontational attitude; and Diniel, skilled but utterly unmotivated, whom Amira particularly disliked. Not wanting things to turn out like last time, Amira had decided to challenge them, to make absolutely sure that they would not stand in the way of her choices. To her surprise, Tsutomu was on board with the idea, and so Amira had been looking forward to the event itself.
But when things actually got going, she found herself utterly beaten by not just the Feather Tank she had always underestimated, but also the unimpressive and weak-willed Cynokin. And now, she was about to lose to the lethargic Elf.
Fighting normally, it would be impossible for her to beat the Rotten Swordsman in under a minute. The one she had fought off just now took her about four minutes, and that was with her fighting as hard as she could.
[I really gotta use it, huh?]
Amira had the option of using her unique skill, <<Dragon Form>>, to give her an immense power boost, but she was still unable to control it. Once activated, she would feel her consciousness blurring out, and the next thing she knew, it would be the end of the fight.
Her <<Dragon Form>> was powerful enough to get her past most monsters on what was practically auto-pilot, but it would also cause her to attack indiscriminately — including hurting or even killing her teammates, a somewhat frequent occurrence that had gained her the ally-killer reputation.
The skill had been left unused ever since the disbandment of her clan. She feared that if she were to hurt her new allies as a side effect of using it, Tsutomu would see her as a troublemaker and expel her from the Clan.
However, losing would mean the same thing to her — she thought that Tsutomu would get rid of her, seeing her as too weak to be useful. If that were to happen, Camille would then give up on her for good — so no matter what, she could not afford to let herself be kicked out.
“All right, shall we?” Tsutomu spoke up right when break time ended, interrupting Amira out of the dilemma in her mind. Amira kept a poker face as she stood up, and proceeded to follow after Tsutomu.
After registering at the reception, Amira gave things more thought while waiting in line for the Magic Circles, but she saw no other options. She was completely cornered — both of the available actions ran the risk of her getting booted from the Clan. In the end, she stopped thinking and simply made the decision.
[Gotta be strong, or I’ll just keep dying again and again. Yeah. I gotta do it…]
To Amira, her father, a kind man, had died because of he was weak. Fighting normally surely would not cut it, so she saw no other way but to transform. That was her final decision — a decision from her hating the brand of weakness above all else.
Once the team’s turn came, Amira followed Tsutomu into the Magic Circle. Immediately upon arriving on layer forty, Amira shouted,
As Amira was hit with two support skills, wings sprouted out of her back, parting their way through Amira’s long red hair. Then, she immediately charged straight at the Rotten Swordsman, and swung her greatsword with blinding speed, blowing the monster away.
Amira, glowing with a red aura, wailed on her opponent like a storm. The Rotten Swordsman got knocked back again and again, unable to counter the unstoppable force.
Sounds of steel against iron echoed through the area. Spooked by Amira’s haunting war cry, Daryl briefly cringed, while Diniel and Tsutomu carefully observed her every movement.
Tsutomu was simply impressed by Amira’s <<Dragon Form>>. Despite being level forty-six, her movement speed was comparable to the transformed Camille, whose level was higher than hers by twenty. The important difference, however, was that Amira had all but lost control, moving purely by instinct — almost as if she was a monster herself.
Amira’s greatsword was too heavy for the average grown man to hold, but she was swinging it around like it was nothing — in one hand, no less — and she was only getting faster and faster. Though her fighting in this state had no actual swordplay whatsoever, her pure power and speed were more than enough to overwhelm the enemy.
The Rotten Swordsman was not able to do much of anything. Take a hit, and it would be blown away, and attempting to dodge would get it hit anyway, since Amira was that much faster. As such, the most it could do was guard against the greatsword with its buckler.
[Looks like I’ll need a few tries to line up my <<Haste>> placements…]
Tsutomu tried timing his placement-type <<Haste>> the same way he had done for Camille in <<Dragon Form>>, but in that case, she knew when and where to pick them up. With Amira not being in control, the same method of placement did not work out.
While thinking of what he needed to improve on, Tsutomu decided to use the bullet-type <<Haste>> for now, so as to keep the effect going until the timed fight was over. Amira, getting another boost of speed, continued to hack away at the Rotten Swordsman.
By now, the monster’s sword was broken, its shield bent out of shape, and its armor was starting to fall apart. Amira finally got a clean hit in with her greatsword, cutting deep into the monster’s abdomen. Then, as the Rotten Swordsman staggered, she landed another hit. This time, its body was cut into two, and both halves fell to the ground.
Amira proceeded to violently slam the Rotten Swordsman’s head with her greatsword a few times, after which, the monster’s body started turning into light particles. Tsutomu looked away from his pocket watch and noted the time down.
[One minute and fifty-six seconds… Her unique skill sure gave her quite a boost there.]
If she had used the <<Dragon Form>> during the first round, Hannah surely would not have won. Tsutomu had had Hannah go first to determine whether or not Amira would use <<Dragon Form>>, and in the case that it was used, he also had thought of some ways to work around it as well.
As two more Rotten Swordsmen spawned, Amira rushed to attack them immediately, while Diniel kept her distance and started shooting. Daryl distracted the Rotten Swordsman that targeted Diniel, and Tsutomu cast some support effects for all three while closely observing Amira’s movements.
[Barely made it this time.]
Toward the end of the fight, Tsutomu finally managed to line up his placement-type <<Haste>> for Amira with pinpoint positioning along her erratic movement path. Doing so proved to be bone-breakingly difficult, so much so that Tsutomu was sweating from his forehead.
Once the Rotten Swordsmen were rid of, the Black Gate appeared. Tsutomu, knowing that he could somehow support Amira while the latter lost control with <<Dragon Form>> active, relaxed his tense nerves and let out a sigh of relief. Amira was still berserk now, but knowing a simple trick to snap her out, Tsutomu readied his staff again.
“…Hey, what’re you gonna do about her? That doesn’t look very good,” Diniel asked while pointing her bow at Amira, who now targeted her teammates as if they were enemies. Amira’s pupils turned narrow and long and glowed red, similar to those of ferocious reptiles.
Tsutomu first tried the bullet-type, shooting a hail of them just to be sure, but Amira easily dodged them all, seemingly mistaking them for an attack. Diniel reluctantly nocked an arrow, but Tsutomu stopped her.
“Let me try again — <<Medic>>.”
Now that there were no monsters around, there was no need to actually worry about aiming his shots, so this time, Tsutomu shouted the <<Medic>> spell out in its newly-developed form of a sweeping wave. Amira moved swiftly to the edge of it, but was ultimately cornered and touched by the rejuvenating wave of energy. Her <<Dragon Form>> disengaged, leaving her unconscious but unharmed. Tsutomu asked Daryl to carry Amira on his shoulders, and then the team left layer forty through the Black Gate.