“Mr. Apostle, it is you!”
This was totally unexpected. It made my head numb momentarily.
In that chaos, you guys came to a decision; that conclusion was that I am the doppelganger?
Are these guys nuts?
“We came to the conclusion that you must be the doppelganger. So…”
First, I used the Soul Steal and assumed combat stance.
I was not panicking. I just found it ridiculous.
I’m sure the knight will explain, as usual.
He will explain how they came to the decision.
I’m sure he will kindly go over each and every reason.
However, before that…
I’ll hear their explanation after a beating.
First, I used Blink and moved to the middle of the group.
The wings were spread open, and the Knight and the Mercenary were struck by the motion. They were thrown to the back.
As usual, I need to target the Mage first.
It seemed she was already aware that I was going to target her first. She cast a barrier in front of her to block me.
Is it the same one I saw the last time?
I looked at the floor. She even had the magic circles drawn already.
Inside the barrier, the Mage was reciting the spell.
It is the same pattern as the last time.
However, this time, I bet she isn’t casting a magic that would fail with a trivial interference.
It seemed she was not concerned about me at all because I was outside of the barrier. She even closed her eyes as she was reciting the spell.
She must be pretty confident about the barrier’s defensive power.
Let’s see just how powerful your barrier is.
I focused mana at my fist. With all of my strength, I struck the barrier’s surface.
The barrier and my fist collided and generated a deafening shockwave. The Adventurer was trying to sneak up on me from the side, but he was pushed back and fell because of the shockwave.
The Adventurer was on the ground and defenseless, but I took a step back from the barrier instead of minding the man.
It developed a crack.
I can see a spider web of cracks emanating from the center of where my fist hit.
I need to aim for that area and deal a huge blow. That will do it.
I brought out the Transmutable Thousand Arms and formed a hammer.
Unlike other high-floor challengers of Tutorial, I don’t have a certain kill or ultimate move. That’s because most of the skills I have are passive or long-duration skills.
If I had to have one, then the body slam with Talaria's Wings and Blink would be it.
However, that body slam move is too risky.
If I collided with the opponent by wrapping myself in Talaria's Wings and using Blink, although Talaria's Wings will protect my body, there will be a brutal shock from the impact.
If the opponent does not budge from the impact at all, then I’ll be experiencing the shock of the impact coming back at me.
To reduce this risk, I came up with the idea of using Blink while swinging a weapon.
I successfully used this for the first time against Idy at the Fifth Floor. I had been practicing this technique diligently since then.
I maximized my mana, wrapped it around my body and focused.
The most important thing in this technique was timing.
I had to use the Blink at the right time, or I was not going to be able to deliver the momentum from the weapon’s swing properly.
I held the hammer like a baseball bat.
The hammer’s handle grip was formed from a type of metal that was different from the rest.
I could feel its rough texture. I won’t have to worry about the hammer slipping out of my hand so easily.
As I practiced before, I adjusted into a baseball batter’s stance.
After that, I swung the hammer.
I was able to swing the hammer smoothly. The motion was smooth and fluid.
The hammer was swung following a specific trajectory that I set. Before it reached the strike point, I used Blink.
A loud, violent noise filled the dungeon once again.
Instead of saying it was a sound that resulted from a clash, it was closer the sound of an explosion.
Actually, when the hammer and the barrier collided, there was an explosion of mana.
Because of the explosion, there was an intense light, and I automatically winced, closing my eyes.
It took me a while before I was able to open my eyes to check the aftermath.
The Transmutable Thousand Arms was rolling on the floor.
It seemed that I lost my grip during the impact.
My head is cloudy.
I cannot hear anything. Is it because I encountered such a loud noise so close?
Even though I wrapped my body in mana to prepare for the impact?
My hand was completely broken. It was drenched in blood.
There were blood leaking out of gaps in my nails. My hand, wrist and arm muscles were twitching violently.
Although they were not visible, I was betting that my joints were not in good condition either.
Other than those… My back was hurting a little. The right side of my pelvis was hurting.
My wing bone behind the shoulder is hurting too.
Well, this is not bad.
I have not been hurt in a while, but this is not something I should be surprised about.
The barrier was completely shattered.
The Mage inside the barrier was unconscious. As for the others, it seemed they were still unable to shake off the shock. They were all on the ground and rubbing their eyes or rolling around in a daze.
Ugh. I didn’t think there would be an explosion when the barrier breaks.
Since it is a magic spell, did the mana contained within the barrier explode when it was destroyed?
I don’t know how a barrier works, so I have no way of knowing.
I sustained more damage than I thought.
This clearly shows the drawback of the attack using Blink.
The recoil won’t be so bad if the opponent gets thrown off or just explodes immediately, but if the subject withstands the impact for even a little bit, I experience the recoil.
I think I should refrain from using this method with a blunt weapon, especially in a batting stance.
To start with, I started practicing this technique with intent of using it with a sword to improve a swing’s ability to cut through things.
The technique is not suited for blunt-strike annihilation. It is better for cutting with a powerful blade swing.
I rotated my wrist around to relax it.
Ah, my ankles are hurting too.
After a while, I could hear the beeping noises in my ears. I gradually regained my hearing ability.
The rubble of the shattered barrier were like broken glasses on the floor. Starting with the smallest parts, the rubbles became fainter, and they all disappeared into the air.
Around that time, the group finally regained their senses.
Of them all, the knight got a grip first and got up.
As I thought, he is the strongest of the group.
I picked up the Transmutable Thousand Arms that was currently in the form of a hammer and walked to the Knight.
“Uu… My head… Uh!? Wait… Wait! I… I surrender. Surrender!”
Stop making noises, you knight bastard.
Receive a beating first. We will talk later.
You don’t have to feel like you were wronged.
Other than the Mage, who was unconscious, everyone is going to take turn to receive beatings, including that Adventurer over there who is lying down and pretending to be unconscious. Every last one of you.
* * *
“Come on. Why are you crying? You are making me feel sorry for beating you.”
This is awkward.
The Adventurer was crying non-stop for a long time now.
You are a grown middle-aged man. Why are you making a scene and crying?
“Come on, why… Uhhhhuuk…”
I won’t describe the pitiful cries that followed afterwards.
“Why… Why are you beating me harder than everyone else.”
Ah, so that’s why you felt wronged.
You know, there are people you just hate.
To me, the Adventurer was one of those people.
It was not like I had a personal ill feeling toward… Actually, I did have a personal ill feeling toward him.
I struck him ferociously in the pit of the stomach. Today, I gave him a good mix of beatings everywhere.
For the grand finale of the beating, I used my elbow to strike him along his back.
The Adventurer rolled on the ground in pain for a long time.
For a while, he was having a difficulty breathing. Now, he was crying.
Something must have happened to his spines. He was not able to sit or stand. He was just lying on the floor and crying.
This was a middle-aged man with an epic beard like Jang-bi, yet he was acting so pathetic.
I felt like my eyes were rotting.
The others in the group shared similar reactions.
They were all rolling around the ground and struggling.
I turned my head and said to the knight,
“… I would have explained even if you asked before you attacked us…”
The Knight’s face was swelled up because he was struck on the jaw. He started to explain.
If I punched harder as usual, I might have completely turned his jaw around.
He was holding the side of his waist. His pale face was cringing. His internal organ was most likely busted from the hammer impact.
The knight tried to speak, but he struggled due to pain. It seemed he was experiencing severe pain.
He was breathing heavily. His eyes turned up all the way and showing just whites. It seemed he had his feet inside the Styx.
I figured it could not be helped. I brought out a potion from the inventory and had him drink it.
Looking at this, the Adventurer looked even pitiful.
I ignored him.
After drinking the potion, the Knight was looking a little better, so I asked him to explain again.
“We had many reasons why we thought you must be the doppelganger. First, we had no idea how you got here or which pathway you took. Before the walls collapsed and the explosion brought down the ceiling, we saw numerous pathways. There probably were over ten different ones. We all came through one of these pathways. However, we could not figure out which pathway you came through to get here. We know the dungeon’s structures fairly well in detail. We had been exploring this place for a long time. Even if it is the pathway we had never been in before, considering the structure, there are plenty of dungeon rooms connected to the pathways. Still, even with those possibilities, we could not figure out how you got here. Second, you kept asking us for information. Clearly, you wanted to get information from us. Still, you didn’t ask at all about the members of the Order of Knights or their command structure or the members of the rescue party. You didn’t ask about information that the doppelganger needs. Also, you didn’t insist on us to answer about things we didn’t want to tell you. Of course, you did insist on us to teach you about swordsmanship and magic. Besides these, the information you wanted were mostly basic knowledge in this world.”
Way too long…
It was not like he had a script in front of him to read from, yet he was saying them all in perfect order and logically too. The man has incredible talent.
“You can’t just use the interest in common knowledge as certain proof of someone being the doppelganger.”
“You are right. The doppelganger will get to have the knowledge of the person that it took possession of. However, if that person doesn’t know anything about the world, then the doppelganger will need to find out about the world outside. As you said, we can’t make the conclusion based on just that. We had a more definite proof. It was the fact that none of us saw you in the dungeon before this. There weren’t even any reports about you being seen by anyone. We had been exploring this dungeon for a long time together. The entrance was guarded by my comrades. There were many people around the pathways and large spaces. So, we theorized that you had been hiding here all this time, in this dungeon space to be precise. In that case, it made sense why you don’t know anything about the world.”
“And the being that had been in this dungeon all this time is the doppelganger?”
“Yes. That’s right.”
That’s a pretty convincing story.
Now, what should I do?
They never talked about the time they ran into the doppelganger in detail.
The group told me so many stories.
Exploring the dungeon, going through the pathways to get to this place, and even the time when they were caught by a trap and unable to escape… they mentioned many things.
However, they never once described the doppelganger to me.
They didn’t tell me about when they met the doppelganger either.
The message definitely said the group ran into the doppelganger.
However, they are saying now that I must be the doppelganger who was always here.
This is odd.
If they entered this place and saw me, then would they be able to say with certainty that I am the doppelganger?
He would just think that I was a human who was trapped in a hidden room.
After they entered this exact spot…
They must have ran into the doppelganger and confirmed its existence.
They never told me about this.
I didn’t bother to ask about that moment all this time.
I didn’t ask because I was not going to be able to answer if they asked me to describe that moment myself. I wanted to avoid being asked such a question.
I believed that the group got to this place through different pathways, confirmed the demon named doppelganger, and then fell to a trap where lost their sight inside the darkness.
In that chaos, someone was done in by the doppelganger, and the group was trapped here with the doppelganger that assumed the human form of one of the group.
There was no light when I entered the stage and everyone was scattered and moaning in pain. It was natural to assume the above.
However, listening to what the Knight said, it seemed that they never confirmed the doppelganger with their eyes.
If I was the doppelganger like the Knight said and if I had been hiding here all along, the group would have seen that I was the doppelganger when they first arrived.
Plus, as soon as they found light in the darkness they should have pointed me out as the doppelganger and attacked me.
However, none of them did.
The group, or the knight at least, had never seen the doppelganger.
However, the group was aware that there was a doppelganger in this dungeon.
I thought about this slowly to organize everything.
“In that case, how did you guys know there is a doppelganger in this place?”
“Someone must have told you that there is a doppelganger in this place, right? Who was the one that first mentioned that there was doppelganger here?”
That person had to be most suspicious one.
This person was claiming there was a doppelganger, despite never having seen it.
“That was me…”
The knight panicked and stepped back as he said that.