The warriors quickly formed a defensive formation as the colossal Golem drew near. Leading the charge, Alan braced himself to repel the impending attack. Compared to the towering Golem, Alan seemed diminutive, stumbling back from the force of its initial strike.
With a resounding shout, Alan unleashed his ability, leaving Arthur breathless with awe. A dazzling burst of light materialized two ethereal copies of Alan, forming a formidable defense that even the boss found difficult to breach.
The rest of the party sprang into action, utilizing their own abilities to combat the Golem. With Alan shielding them from its attacks, they unleashed a barrage of assaults, gradually wearing down the behemoth.
In a beastly roar, Juan's body grew in size, his skin turning a fiery red. His berserk ability granted him temporary enhancements to his physical prowess. Empowered by his newfound strength, Juan wielded his claymore, delivering a deep wound to the Golem, although it regenerated almost instantly.
Simultaneously, Arthur caught sight of something above the Golem. It was Beatrice, donning wings of radiant light as she soared through the air. Diving straight at the Golem's head, she plunged her weapon into its eye, causing a lengthy gash to mar its face. The Golem bellowed in agony as its regenerative properties worked to repair the damage.
A streak of brilliant blue light flashed as Yuran fired his gun, now adorned with shimmering blue engravings and towering to his height. The mana-infused bullet pierced the Golem's wounded head. Enraged, the Golem went into a frenzy, conjuring earth spikes that assailed its assailants.
Anticipating an onslaught of spikes, the group braced themselves, ready to endure the onslaught. However, to their surprise, the expected pain and damage never materialized. They found themselves enveloped in a protective aura of holy light.
"Quick, attack!" Rosie, the caster of the protective spell, thundered with urgency. Empowered by her proclamation, the party dashed towards the Golem, prepared for another round of combat to weaken it further. But just as they closed in, the passageway trembled once again, cracks spiderwebbing through its walls.
Amidst a screeching cacophony that threatened to rend their ears, the walls crumbled, revealing a colossal serpent head. With only its head exposed, the serpent was already three times the size of the Golem. The Regenerative Golem itself recoiled in terror at the arrival of this gargantuan creature, draining the color from everyone's faces.
Arthur sank to the ground in sheer horror as he beheld the most terrifying creature he had ever encountered. The beast's sheer magnitude made him feel as small as an ant, a single breath away from obliteration.
"Retreat! It's the dungeon's boss!" Alan's terrified voice echoed, his face drained of all color. Their fear was justified; each Sins Dungeon boss possessed powers unlike any other, with only seven existing in the entire world.
Just as panic began to grip them, salvation arrived in the form of five figures bathed in white. Clad in white armor and robes, their presence exuded an awe-inspiring aura that seemed to crush all those who beheld them. The serpent howled with rage as it bore witness to their arrival, recognizing the power emanating from these newcomers.
"Everyone, retreat and evacuate this area," a girl with hair as white as snow stepped forward, addressing Alan's group. From head to toe, her hair, clothes, and even eyelashes were pure white. Each person present recognized her instantly—The White Fairy.
Stupefied by the sudden turn of events, Alan stood frozen, unable to process the situation. Yuran took charge, urgently shouting for everyone to flee. As The White Fairy caught sight of Yuran, her composure faltered, and she murmured something dazedly.
Before they could execute their retreat, the serpent lunged forward, its massive form brushing against the Regenerative Golem and annihilating it in the process. The sheer force shattered the walls, and cracks snaked their way beneath Arthur, hurtling him towards the wall.
Coughing up blood, Arthur felt his insides crushed under the impact. As he slowly opened his eyes, he witnessed an armored figure materializing in front of the serpent, effortlessly thwarting its attack.
The remaining party members were sent hurtling through the air, but they fared worse than Arthur, who had been flung far away. Most of his comrades lay unconscious, with the exception of Yuran, who, though severely injured, managed to remain conscious a while longer.
Shortly thereafter, Yuran collapsed, leaving only Arthur and The White Fairy standing amidst the chaos. Arthur, weak and distant from the initial clash with the Golem, contemplated a single thought: should he flee alone?
It was the most logical choice, the obvious path to survival. After all, he was not an awakener, and his relationship with these individuals was tenuous at best. Yet, another question wormed its way into his mind: how would he feel waking up the next day, leaving behind the person who had saved his life to face certain death?
It didn't sit right with him. Arthur recognized the foolishness of his decision, understood the futility of his actions, and the likely outcome of his recklessness. Yet, he also understood that sometimes, making the wrong choice was necessary. Yuran had saved him. Perhaps he hadn't risked his life to do so, but Arthur would have perished if not for the potion.
Summoning an unknown reserve of strength, Arthur's legs propelled him forward. His lungs burned as he raced towards Yuran with a single-minded determination. He leaped over debris and evaded obstacles, relying on his resilience as a non-awakener to press on.
As he drew nearer to the ongoing battle, he took cover behind a colossal rock, desperately searching for an opportunity to retrieve Yuran and the rest of the group. Any errant strike could prove fatal to them. Arthur yearned to pull them away, if only slightly, from the relentless fight. And if he couldn't manage that, he would at least rescue Yuran.
The battle reached a momentary impasse as each side deflected the other's attacks. Capitalizing on this lull, Arthur seized his chance, dashing towards Yuran and reaching him in a matter of seconds. He scooped him up and resumed his mad dash away from the chaos.
Fortunately, Yuran was lighter than Arthur, allowing him to maintain his pace while carrying his injured comrade. As they approached a boulder located some distance from the battle, Arthur prepared to set Yuran down when a shout pierced through the chaos.
Arthur turned his head and saw The White Fairy, her gleaming katana slashing at the serpent's eye. Enraged, the serpent thrashed about, its tail sweeping through the air. Unfortunately, the trajectory of the tail brought it crashing towards Arthur.
Before he could react, the tail slammed into the ground a short distance away. It collided with the very spot where Arthur had left his unconscious companions. The ground crumbled beneath the impact, and cracks spread across its surface. Arthur and Yuran were sent hurtling through the air, crashing onto the ground with a sickening thud.
Semi-conscious and disoriented, Arthur felt the
ground giving way beneath him. The sensation of falling enveloped him, and he strained to open his eyes. Through blurred vision, he discerned The White Fairy grasping Yuran's arm as he descended into darkness.
"Who are you?" Arthur inquired, unable to contain his curiosity about the figure he discovered amidst the abyss. If his assumptions were correct, he had fallen outside the dungeon into an unfathomable darkness. He couldn't discern where exactly—perhaps an endless expanse—but the surroundings were shrouded in obscurity. All that met his eyes was a black landscape with an ebony sky, a solitary moon, and an abyssal ground. Until now, since waking up, he had been unable to perceive anything. That is, until he stumbled upon a lone figure sitting in the darkness, his eyes shut tight.
The man appeared ethereal yet undeniably human. Arthur felt as if a touch could cause him to vanish forever, but he was too fearful to find out. The man possessed jet-black hair and pale skin, bearing the lines of age upon his face.
As Arthur posed his question, the man opened his eyes and gazed at him, irises shimmering with a golden hue. A smile graced the man's lips as he uttered a single word.
"Um, hi," Arthur responded awkwardly. He hadn't expected a simple greeting under these circumstances. The man seemed unperturbed by Arthur's sudden appearance, almost as if he had anticipated it.
"Why don't you take a seat?" The man gestured towards a space in front of him. Arthur hesitated for a moment before moving to the indicated spot and sitting cross-legged. Facing each other, they shared a brief moment of silence. Arthur was about to repeat his initial question when the man spoke before him.
"I am Jizo, the Scholar Guardian."
"A guardian? What does that mean?"
"Well, I suppose too much time has passed for our memory to endure. Perhaps we've become a forgotten secret?" The man's laughter resonated through the air, diffusing the tension, though Arthur remained puzzled by his words.
"Long ago, nine guardians ruled over the world, safeguarding humanity."