"I’ll take the treasure in exchange for the slate," Kang Oh promised.
He would take the treasure with him no matter what.
"First, we need to defeat Monique," Eder said.
Kang Oh nodded his head.
"Please heed my warning. Do not even consider running away with the treasure. Divine punishment is truly terrifying."
Eder's voice was filled with sincerity. It was only natural. After all, he'd been punished by the Goddess of Death herself.
"We just need to kill Monique or whatever his name is. Why would I take the treasure and run?"
Kang Oh looked at Eder with an expression that seemingly said, 'Who do you think I am!?'.
"I'm just telling you for your own good. If we can’t defeat Monique, then we should just leave the treasure here and run."
"That won't happen. There’s no ‘unbeatable’ monster in this world," Kang Oh said.
"Indeed," Grano agreed.
"There is a monster that can’t be dealt with right away..." Eder said.
"We’ll be fine, since we know what his weakness is."
Kang Oh grinned.
When fighting a monster, the most basic strategy was to ascertain its weaknesses and exploit them.
"You're referring to the holy water," Grano said.
"Mr. Grano, can you incorporate the oasis’ holy water into your water spells?" Kang Oh asked.
Kang Oh looked pleased.
Grano could use the oasis' holy water to cast his spells, making him Monique’s greatest enemy!
"But I’ll need to remain close to the oasis to use its holy water," Grano said.
"Hmm. Then we just need to lead him to the oasis," Kang Oh said.
"Do you really think he’ll come to the oasis, knowing that the holy water is his weakness?" Eder asked.
"We have to make it happen."
"A cat can never pass up fish!"
* * *
The entrance to the Tower of Wisdom closed once Kang Oh’s party exited through it.
They couldn’t reopen the doors, since they no longer possessed Turu’s Slate.
"Tch. I really wanted to read <Granjole's Travelog>."
Eder sported a regretful expression.
"You'll get another chance later," Grano comforted Eder.
Eder nodded his head.
Kang Oh's party put the Tower of Wisdom behind them and headed for the oasis.
It didn't take very long, as the oasis was right next to the tower.
"Heh," Kang Oh laughed.
There was treasure scattered all over the oasis! If he defeated Monique, then all this treasure would be his.
Grano took out several bottles from his subspace.
Kang Oh and Eder accepted the empty bottles and began filling them with the holy water.
Although Kang Oh and Eder couldn't incorporate the holy water into spells like Grano could, they could spray Monique with it or use it to coat their weapons.
Kang Oh placed the full bottles into his inventory.
"I'm finished too."
Eder possessed neither an inventory nor a subspace, so instead, he placed the bottles of holy water into the pouch that hung from his belt.
Kang Oh began taking the treasure out of the oasis, and Grano and Eder followed suit.
A platinum cup, a gold elephant statue, a diamond necklace, etc.
Several pieces of treasure, which could be sold at a hefty price to jewelry stores or to the rich, was piled up outside of the oasis.
"I think this is enough," Grano said.
"I agree. Let's try calling Monique."
Kang Oh lifted a gold cup.
"Man, the craftsmanship is exquisite. I should take this with me," Kang Oh said loudly.
Then, he placed the gold cup into his inventory.
"Oh, a diamond necklace. I should take this too."
Kang Oh began to place treasure after treasure into his inventory.
The sand-bed rose, forming a small hill.
Due to its yellow color, it could easily be differentiated from the surrounding gray sand.
The sand-bed came rushing towards them like a giant tsunami.
Two arms and a human-like face formed within the tsunami of sand.
The sand face cried out.
[You have discovered Avaricious Monique.]
[You are the first to discover him.]
"Keep your guard up!"
Kang Oh retrieved his demon sword and coated it with the holy water.
Eder likewise coated his mace and four-colored skull shield with the holy water as well.
Grano, who was stationed within the oasis, began chanting with a tranquil voice.
Monique’s giant sand hands came flying at them, one intent on grabbing Kang Oh while the other came for Eder.
Kang dashed towards the sand hand and attacked, forgoing any attempts to dodge or block.
Kang Oh swung downwards from top-down.
His demon sword slashed through Monique's sand hand.
No, it looked like it slashed through.
There was definitely a long line that passed through Monique's hand.
'I didn't feel anything.'
He hadn’t felt anything at all; it was like striking air.
Sand filled the damaged area, instantly healing the wound.
The sand hand clenched its fist in an attempt to grab Kang Oh.
Kang Oh felt a familiar chill across his body and quickly rolled onto the floor.
He narrowly dodged the hand by a hair’s breadth; Monique had grasped nothing but air.
If he’d been even a second slower, then he’d truly experience what it felt like to sink into a quicksand pit.
Kang Oh swung upwards with his demon sword, leaving a wound on the back of Monique’s sand hand.
But he didn’t feel anything this time too.
It didn't feel like he'd done any damage to Monique, as no shards of light had spilled out.
In actuality, his sword had never made contact with Monique’s body. When his sword was about to make contact, the sand would disperse on its own.
Eder was having the same luck as Kang Oh.
He dodged the sand hand and then struck downwards with his mace.
However, the sand dispersed at the area of impact and his mace passed through air.
Eder quickly moved on to his next attack.
But the sand continuously changed forms, as if it were a living being, and Eder’s holy water coated mace was never able to make contact.
Not only that, Eder had left himself open, and Monique pounced on the opportunity.
A sand awl protruded from Monique’s arm.
Eder quickly raised his shield. The holy water caused his shield to shimmer.
The sand awl briefly approached Eder, but then stopped and retracted.
"Mr. Kang Oh. The sand can move freely. It’s making it difficult to get a hit in," Eder yelled.
"Keep attacking!" Kang Oh swung his demon sword several times and yelled.
At that moment, Grano cast his spell.
Twenty spheres of holy water flew at Monique!
As the waterballs closed in, Monique perforated his body with holes, allowing the waterballs to effortlessly pass through them.
Kang Oh's eyes dimmed.
'Tch. He has an annoying ability.'
By freely manipulating his sand body, Monique was able to dodge the party’s attacks with ease.
'Evasion is supposed to be my specialty.'
Kang Oh dodged a sand awl that came flying at him and swung his sword as quickly as possible.
It was the fastest speed he could muster without using Gluttony or Devil Trigger.
However, it didn't do anything.
Kang Oh wondered whether he should use Gluttony or not. By using Gluttony, his attacks would be quicker and more powerful.
But Modune and his men were waiting for them outside, so he wanted to conserve Gluttony if at all possible.
Kang Oh decided to wait it out for now. Meanwhile, Grano was right about to cast another spell.
Grano's orb spun.
Bubbles made of holy water flew into the air.
If the bubbles made contact, then they would create a small explosion. However, the caster couldn't direct the bubbles.
Countless bubbles flew towards Monique, guided by the wind.
By riding the wind, the speed and the direction of the bubbles changed; not only that, they swayed everywhere.
'There's no way he dodges all of this, right?'
Kang Oh watched the situation unfold.
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Monique was capable of doing the impossible.
His body, once more perforated with holes like basalt, allowed the bubbles to escape through without them touching him.
"Impossible!" Eder yelled in shock.
It was so shocking that even Grano's eyes shook, even though he was normally so calm.
'Yeah, it's impossible.'
Kang Oh's eyes gleamed.
Monique's evasion was ridiculous. It was as if he were set up so that he couldn't be hit.
"Eder, get into the water. We're retreating," Kang Oh said.
They shouldn't keep fighting like this without a plan; they needed to formulate a new plan to deal with Monique.
Eder retreated to the oasis, covering his body with his shield.
"Mr. Grano. Please take care of the treasure outside of the oasis," Kang Oh said.
Grano cast a spell, causing the oasis’ holy water to sweep across the treasure.
Then, Kang Oh retreated while staring at Monique.
Ultimately, Monique was unable to continue pursuing them once they got into the water.
Monique's sand face roared for some time.
However, he couldn't hurt Kang Oh's party with his roar alone.
In the end, Monique disappeared into the gray sand.
The first half of their fight had ended in a draw.
* * *
"What do we do now?"
Eder stared at Kang Oh.
"We can't beat him using normal methods."
There was something he felt when fighting against Monique. He wasn't like other monsters; one couldn't defeat him simply by attacking and overpowering him.
"I agree," Grano said.
When he'd seen Monique avoid the bubbles, he too believed that Monique couldn't be overcome via normal methods.
"Give me a second. Let me think."
Kang Oh covered his mouth with his hand and thought about how he could defeat Monique.
'His weakness is the holy water, but... There's no way of hitting him with it.'
In other words, they needed to do something to hit Monique's core with the holy water.
'It looks like attacking faster or increasing the number of attacks is meaningless... If that's the case, then we have to divert his attention so that he can't use that special ability of his... That's it. The treasure.'
He felt like he'd come to the right conclusion.
If they threw treasure at Monique and attacked while his attention was divided, wouldn't their attacks work?
The problem was...!
'If we use this method, then we lessen how much treasure I can take home with me. And if it doesn't work, then we'd be just wasting the treasure.'
Therefore, Kang Oh tried to think of other ideas. However, he couldn't think of any.
At that moment, Grano said, "The holy water isn't Monique's only weakness."
"Then?" Eder asked.
"His greed. If we use this greed to our advantage, then it will become his weakness," Grano said.
"Ah, is that so? How will he react if we throw a ton of treasure at him (soaked in holy water)?"
Wouldn't his desire for treasure and fear for the holy water clash? If they did, then he was bound to leave himself open.
"There has to be another way besides using the treasure," Kang Oh said.
"If there was, then I'm sure you would've thought of it already, Mr. Kang Oh," Grano said.
He was right.
"It might not work."
That was Kang Oh's last-ditch effort.
"But there's a chance it might."
Grano kept hitting the mark.
"Hoo. Let's go for it then."
Ultimately, Kang Oh agreed to the plan: use the treasure to defeat Monique.
"Alright. Then let's iron out the details," Grano said while smiling.
Kang Oh couldn't bring himself to smile.
A short while later...
They began the second half of their battle with Monique.Previous Chapter Next Chapter