The Viper Strikes Next: Chapter 32

-=Shadow’s Rematch=-


“So…..that’s my final task, is it? To take down that clone of yours?”

Shadow’s mood was hovering somewhere between excitement and skepticism as he listened to what would be his final required achievement before his training was considered completed. The clone of Dark Lord, a foe he’d met once before, an enemy that nearly killed him, was to be defeated by his hand….alone. The bandit was in a mild state of disbelief as he continually thought this over, sitting in the basement of the jazz bar with Crow and the real Dark Lord.

“Yes, Shadow,” the job master stated matter-of-factly. “The time has now come for me to give you this mission. I know you’ve fought Dark Lord before, and I remember your tales of his destructive prowess brought upon your home. Nonetheless, this is what you must do for your training to be over.”

Both Dark Lord and the Crow had expected some form of great joy or overwhelming fear to jump out from Shadow, but not much came. The young man simply stared off into space, nodding as he understood his goal. Whatever emotion he was feeling was well hidden. Eventually, he faced Dark Lord again. “Very well,” he said calmly. “If I must do it, I must do it. However, I’m very doubtful of the odds I have against him. The last time we fought…” He trailed off as his gaze fell to his cybernetic arm.

“Indeed, a most dreadful situation, as I recall,” Dark Lord said. “However, there is no other choice. This is more than simply a test, young student. This is how we ward off the influence of these villanous clones. Ever since they were held at bay, it came to us four job masters to ensure that they stay that way. We ended up choosing a way that would help not only us, but adventurers as well, and even the whole world. We decided to make a one-on-one battle with the job master clones a requirement for job advancements, as well as a way to ensure that those four can never find a way to reach our world.”

Shadow regarded this last statement with suspicion. “Wait a second,” the bandit said. “So, from the sound of this, even if I defeat Dark Lord today, he’s still technically alive? But then what’s the point of fighting him in the first place? Why fight any of them?”

“Please, be calm and let me finish,” Dark Lord admonished, cutting the bandit off. “Indeed, it is true that even in their dimensional prisons, they’re technically undefeatable. However, this is limited; their physical bodies can be destroyed, which disrupts their overall power for a time. Despite this, they soon have a new body readily available in short order, although their spirit is still weak. Nonetheless, as long as they have bodies, their spirits can’t be destroyed. Moreso, we don’t have any capable way of getting rid of their evil spirits. I know it isn’t much, but one thing’s for sure, it certainly helps keep the evil at bay, thanks in part to the promise of more power for those adventurers who can do it.”

Shadow took the speech in with a deep breath. “I see,” he said. “Well, after listening to this, it does put one thing on my mind at ease: these clones we have to deal with are definitely not the main cause of the evil I’ve heard about on this world. Still, even if they can’t get to the Maple World, I haven’t forgotten how he made it to my homeworld.”

“I have been thinking about that as well,” Dark Lord assured. “In fact, I recently took counsel with Grendel the Really Old a few days ago. He told me about how he relayed silhouettes he saw to you. He never saw the silhouettes of our clones, but that doesn’t stop me from believeing the clones may have either simply grown in power…or received outside assistance. If the latter, then the group in Grendel’s dream is likely responsible.”

Shadow nodded gravely. The information he was receiving was astounding; connections were being made between these doppelgangers and the villains Grendel spoke of, which made the enemy seem that much more numerous and powerful. All of it seemed overwhelming, especially the part about the clones being somewhat undefeatable. It was Shadow’s strong belief that this war was going to get harder before it got easier.

Shadow couldn’t think too hard on it, however, as Dark Lord had still more news. “One more thing you must remember about this quest, Shadow. I have a feeling you may have suspected this, but I’ll remind you: this battle you must fight is no meager exchange of blows. This is a mission you MUST succeed. The clones are pure evil in nature and will not hesitate to finish you. If you lose…you won’t be coming back.”

This reminder only further tightened Shadow’s already strained nerves. Yes, he’d known about it already; Ryu’s body returning to the village, Ryu’s last letter that he wrote…the whole thing was a black mark in his past that he never wanted to recall. Still, he pushed any doubt and fear out of his mind quickly. As dangerous as this would be, he wasn’t about to back down from the mission the elders gave him. He’d gotten too far in his quest to defeat the evil to stop now.

“I understand,” he replied softly.

“Very well, then,” Dark Lord replied. “You have your task, then. The entrance to my clone’s pocket of the dimension is in the swamps south of the city. Yes, I said he had his own pocket. We separated the clones’ prisons to further weaken them. Now, go.”

Shadow bowed and began to leave. As he reached the ladder to the main floor, Crow intercepted him. “I have a confession to make,” she said. “I apologize for not telling you, but I already faced the clone myself and won. It was actually necessary for me to gain the new powers I have, as it is for all jobs. Dark Lord just gave yours to you beforehand becasue he wasn’t sure how well you could handle things with one arm. Even with two arms, he wasn’t sure how well you’d do, considering he’d never seen you in battle before. It was different for me. I was sent here to become a rogue in the early days of my forced service to my captors.”

Shadow was perplexed. “I…I see, I guess,” he said. “Still, why keep it secret from me? I oughta have a right to know about it.”

“You did, you did,” Crow assured. “Even Dark Lord thought so. It was just that he didn’t tell or allow me to tell you, since we felt you’d be left out of the loop if you couldn’t do this as soon as I did. Now, however, I simply couldn’t keep it secret anymore. I’m sorry.”

“Well, it wasn’t fair to me at all,” Shadow replied sternly, “but at least you didn’t do it for wrong reasons. I am glad that you succeeded. Congratulations.”

“Thanks,” Crow said gratefully. “I’m not gonna lie, it was a vicious battle. Even so, I’m certain: if I can do it, you can do it, too. Here.” She reached into her pocket and pulled out a miniature silver kunai. “Take this. Know that I’m always thinking of you during your quest.”

Shadow clasped his hand over Crow’s before taking the charm. “I’m very thankful for that.”


Remembering his instructions and luck wished to him, Shadow continued walking down the cave he had just entered moments before. This other dimension was a sight to see: a cavern, somewhat dark except for the glowing rock all over the place, every inch of it an eye-catching turquoise. “This place,” he verbally observed. “It’s beautiful. Hard to believe such evil would be stuck dwelling here.

“Appearances can be deceiving, young fool,” a voice suddenly emanates from the cavern walls. “Good to see you again, Shadow Viper. How nice of you to give me another chance to kill you.”

Shadow whirled around quickly, his cobra fangs in hand. “Dark Lord!” he yelled, looking around. Oddly enough, his nemesis was nowhere in sight. “Where are you?! Show yourself, you fiend!”

“Ah ah ah, patience, now,” Dark Lord coaxed. “Just follow the hall to the chamber at the end. “There is where your life shall end.”

Ignoring evil Dark Lord’s arrogant predictions, Shadow dashed down the hall hastily, all too eager to end this task. “I’m not the one who’s dying today!” he blared out. “You’ll be the one who pays for what you’ve done!” His trek was short as he soon found the large room he was directed to: a room three times the height of the prior hall. An assortment of floating platforms hung about the area, one dotted with an especially bright crystal formation. The bandit’s eyes darted across the arena, but Dark Lord was still missing.

“Heh heh….below you!” the bodyless voice called out.

Shadow jumped down to the bottom floor of the cave, his daggers at the ready. His searching gaze continued actively until he stopped at the corner of the cave beneath the entrance from the hall. A pair of devious-looking eyes stared back at him. “Welcome, young Shadow,” Dark Lord’s voice sounded sinister. “I’ve been waiting for you.”

“As have I been waiting for this chance,” Shadow spat back. “You have no idea how much pain and heartbreak you inflicted on me and the village people with what you did, and I’m sure you don’t care. It doesn’t matter to me, because you deserve to die either way. Your evil has plagued this world and mine long enough….no, far too long, actually!” The bandit then assumed a fighting pose, clearly in a fighting mood.

Dark Lord’s clone, however, merely chuckled, staying where he was. “Now, now, let’s not be so hasty,” he said curtly. “That’s what almost killed you last time. Not to mention it definitely got your friend slaughtered. The fool never even saw what I had planned for him.” He then let out a vile spark of laughter.

“YOU VILE FIEND!” Shadow screamed, and dashed for his prey. Those words were all he needed to get the fight going. No more words, he fought. This would be settled with blood. He held his daggers by his side, ready to slice his enemy. In turn, the eyes glowing from the darkness narrowed. A shining glint of light flickered not far from the eyes, right before a spike-laden star flew out into view. Shadow easily saw it coming and deflected it. *Almost there,* he thought as he brought one of his daggers up for an opening stab.

Just as his attack would ring true, the eyes suddenly disappeared, and he made contact with empty air. Skidding to a halt, he whirled around behind him in time to see a pair of stars, shaped somewhat like leaves, come at him. He swirved to the gap between the stars, dodging them just in time. However, a third star came moments later, catching the bandit in his shoulder. Shadow staggered back against a nearby cavern wall, wincing.

A menacing chuckle rang through the air. “Not very good for a start, young rogue,” Dark Lord’s voice said. “No doubt you’ll die in minutes.”

Shadow growled as he looked around, searching for Dark Lord. The evil ninja was annoyingly elusive. Worse yet, he had a point; Shadow was already at a disadvantage from the start. Nonetheless, he kept moving, his weapons at the ready. *Gotta use my ears,* he surmised. He relaxed his eyes, letting his vision blur as he focused more on the sounds around the cave. Silence pervaded at first; the lack of sound was dominant enough that a pin could be heard if dropped. Then, soft footsteps could be barely heard. *He’s close,* Shadow told himself. The footsteps became louder and louder; his right ear caught the most of it. Feeling lucky, he brought one of his daggers down on the area beside him. His efforts were rewarded with a loud clang, as his dagger caught the ninja lookalike’s claw.

“Ooooo, so close!” Dark Lord taunted. “But you just don’t get your inevitable defeat, don’t you?” As he spoke, a large shuriken took form in his hand.

Shadow gasped as he saw the giant star, quickly rolling out of the way. His evasion came not a moment too soon, dodging the star a second before it hit him. “Gah, not that again,” he muttered. I’m NOT losing an arm again!” Unwilling to lose his chance, Shadow quickly lunged at Dark Lord in a quick counterattack attempt. His maneuver appeared successful, until Dark Lord’s body became transparent. Shadow went right through him, almost colliding with another wall. “Dangit, that move!” he yelled.

“Heh, remember Dark Sight?” Dark Lord said arrogantly. “No physical attacks can ever harm me.”

“Yeah…” Shadow muttered, downtrodden at first. Then his eyes lit up as he remembered what he learned from his prior month’s training. “However, you can’t attack me without disabling it!”

“Hmmph,” Dark Lord growled bitterly. “You’ve grown smarter, a small improvement. Intelligence alone, however, won’t increase your odds of beating me.”

*We’ll see about that,* Shadow thought. Getting an idea, he then ran forward once again, initiating his own Dark Sight power. Dark Lord laughed haughtily as he readied another oversized shuriken. As he did so, his body began becoming solid again.

“You fool!” he chortled. “This attack of mine is a magic attack! Your Dark Sight won’t save you! Feel my Avenger once more!” he released his shuriken, which headed for Shadow. All of a sudden, Shadow disappeared. The Avenger continued into a wall, where it disippated.

“What-” Dark Lord began to ask astoundedly, until he clutched his side, feeling a dire pain shoot through him. A horizontal wave of blood blasted from his body. The ninja turned around to see Shadow standing behind him.

“Yeah, I learned a lot,” Shadow chimed with a smirk. “I’d say my odds of survival increased.”

“Don’t even think it, boy,” Dark Lord growled as he suddenly let loose a barrage of stars. “This is only the beginning!” Nearly caught off guard from the attack, Shadow barely got his cobra fangs up in time to dodge the numerous stars coming at him. “You can’t win, you fool!”

“Yes…I…CAN!” Shadow blurted, though he had to mean it; Dark Lord clone’s fighting style was blazing fast and just as deadly. Still, he had an effective defense. As the stars flew towards him, the lightbringer suddenly flew into a frenzied attack, his daggers dancing all around him in a flurry that the human eye could barely read. With his Savage Blow, he got closer and closer to melee range, the range he needed to gain the advantage. At one point, however, one of his Savage Blows went completely unhindered. He stopped his barrage in time to see that Dark Lord had an Avenger ready to throw. Shadow had been baited, and had no time to dodge. The enormous star flew towards him. Desperately, Shadow let loose another Savage Blow. The numerous stabs managed to divert the star, but even at the end, the Avenger caught him at his side, digging into his flesh. Shadow howled in pain as he leapt away, feeling the blood seep out of him. The bandit clutched his side, backing away.

“HA!” Dark Lord crowed triumphantly. “That’s right, feel the pain. Feel the reality of my power! You have no chance against me. Now DIE!” Another Avenger was thrown at him.

Despite the pain, Shadow managed to sidestep the attack. The bleeding was still somewhat profuse. His sight going blurry, Shadow quickly fished out a white potion he’d bought before his training began. The real Dark Lord had warned of their usefulness during his training, and he was glad he listened. He uncorked it and threw it down his throat. Quickly, the magic imbibement went to work, repairing his wound a good deal.

The clone ninja watched Shadow’s healing respite. “Drink all you wish, it will do you no good!” he bellowed. Then he unleashed another wave of stars, forcing Shadow to go into another Savage Blow attack to keep himself guarded.

*Blast it, he’s right!* Viper screamed to himself. *And I get the feeling that he’ll just put another Avenger in me if I go after him!…Unless…* An idea in mind, he continued his defensive assault, sending stars in every direction.

“HA! You impudent clod, you never seem to learn!” Dark Lord spat as soon as Shadow was close again. He quickly had his Avenger ready, and soon threw it. However, he didn’t notice until after the shuriken was unleashed that Shadow was no longer in front of him. He looked around, then saw the contender in the air, but only for a split second. The bandit then disappeared in a blue flash. One second later, Dark Lord convulsed violently, another wave of blood spilling out of him.

“On the contrary,” Shadow retorted from behind. “I always learn from my mistakes. If I didn’t, I doubt I’d even be here.”

“You certainly won’t live past here either way! Now, come and get me if you think you’re so tough!” Dark Lord brought himself up to a ready stance.

“I’ve beaten a seemingly immortal demon,” Shadow muttered, his cobra fangs aimed at his opponent. “I can sure as hell beat you.” With that he ran forward, ready to repel Dark Lord’s attack. However, the ninja master clone merely threw a series of Avengers instead, one after the other. The bandit easily dodged each oncoming star, though each one brought him unease. *Now what’s he planning?* Shadow wondered. *Surely he can put up a better fight than this!*

Once Shadow was close to him again, Dark Lord then switched up the game. Before Shadow could strike him, the duplicate threw himself in midair. Hovering in midair, Dark Lord brought his Avenger to bear. “Now, take THIS!” He then heaved his star towards Shadow. At the same time, however, two tauromacis suddenly materialized, one in front of Viper and one behind him. “Now you’re trapped!” Dark Lord shouted triumpantly. But his glory didn’t last, as Shadow wasn’t faltered or caught off guard. Instead, the contending bandit continue to run, punching through the tauro blocking him with an Assaulter.

“Im…impossible…” Dark Lord breathed. “You…you knew….YOU KNEW THAT WAS COMING! How DARE you see through my attack!”

Shadow took a moment to wipe sweat from his forehead. “Oh, I didn’t really dare. I just had an advantage of….being notified of this.”

“Notified…” Dark Lord repeated, stunned. But his suprise soon turned to rage. “Ryu….RYU! Tauros! KILL THAT WASTE OF HUMANITY!” Obediently, the tauros hefted their golden moon-capped staves and charged on Viper. However, Shadow’s successful avoidance of an ambush helped him stay fairly calm and cool as he fought the summoned monsters. Even amidst numerous lightning strikes from the magic tauros, Shadow eventually dispatched the two of them thanks to his deft agility.

“Odd that I would say this to a ninja,” Shadow said amidst panting, “but how about you get down here and fight me yourself!”

“Your wish is your funeral!” Dark Lord shouted, sending another wave of maple stars at Shadow. The bandit went into his frenzied dagger dance like before, blocking every star that came after him. Unfortunately, he could feel his body aching, fatigue setting on him. He wasn’t sure how much longer he could keep this defense up. *Dangit, gotta end this fight soon!* he told himself urgently.

“Not a bad defense as always,” Dark Lord chortled. “But it won’t last, and neither will you!” The ninja was then suddenly surrounded by a momentary glow. When the light subsided, a shadowy version of himself stood next to him. “Try and take two of me on!” He then began throwing his stars, while the shadow did the same, mimicking its summoner’s every movement perfectly. The wave of stars increased in size, forcing Shadow to flee for cover. Hiding behind a stalactite, he catches his breath, wondering what his next move would be.

“You can’t hide forever!” Dark Lord shouted, sending an echo throughout the chamber. “Just come out and face your death like any real adventurer would. Don’t even think you have a chance of escape. You think you’re safe, but you’ve really only boxed yourself in. The moment you reveal yourself, you’re DEAD!”

Shadow’s head hung low. As much as he despised admitting it, this clone was right. As much as he was a mere fabrication of the real deal, this Dark Lord was razor sharp in battle. Just like back at the village of darkness, he had him cornered, pinned. All he needed was one false move from the young bandit and the clone would be victorious. Not only that, but Shadow would be dead. From the way the fight was going, Viper wasn’t about to doubt it in the least. He would die, his quest to end the evil would end in failure, and his death would be in vain to everyone he’d befriended on this island. His promise to his home village would die, along with the village itself.

Shadow shook those thoughts from his head. No, he couldn’t let those thoughts pervade his head. Indeed, the fight wasn’t going well, but he couldn’t give up now. It had taken everything out of himself to get this far, and yet he couldn’t quit now, not if he wanted peace to stay alive in both worlds. “This is it,” he told himself, staring at his cobra fangs intently. “I’ve got one shot, and I’m gonna take it. For everyone.” Gripping his daggers, he dashed out from his hiding place, his heart nearly bursting through his chest.

“GOTCHA!” Shadow heard his adversary shout. Looking around, he saw Dark Lord and his vile shadow, each with an Avenger ready. Ignoring the fierce eyes of his adversary, Shadow kept moving forward, ready to win this fight.

Dark Lord and the shadow partner let loose the giant shurikens at the bandit. Despite their size, they dipped just low enough so that Shadow was able to leap over them. As he neared the ground, however, he saw two more Avengers headed for him. The two-dagger fighter pushed himself towards the ground, taking advantage of gravity. He quickly landed with a roll, the two eight-pointed stars passing above him harmlessly. Despite his luck, Shadow had a feeling more Avengers were on their way. He was correct. Another pair came at him, horizontally this time, but the bandit wasn’t tricked; he stayed low and rolling, and the two stars overshot him, though by a smaller margin. Shadow then leapt to his feet to continue his charge, only to see two more stars dangerously close to him, flying vertical and lopsided. Without thinking, the challenger made a suicide dive between the stars. Against all odds, he succeeded, suffering only a minor scratch to his leg. With only a few inches left to go, the bandit noticed the two clones form up one more pair of stars just in time. With no room to dodge, Shadow decided to throw caution to the wind and take a gamble. Ready for anything, the bandit grabbed into his pouch of mesos and threw them up. They surrounded him, protecting him even as the Avengers came screaming in. With a fraction of time remaining, Viper quickly set his sights on Dark Lord. Holding his daggers up, he took one more step and let magic take over.

One second later, Shadow was on the ground, enduring agonizing pain. Amazingly enough, even after getting caught by two Avengers, the Meso Guard technique saved his life. But that was just the beginning, as he looked behind him in time to see Dark Lord fall to his knees, his shadow partner evaporate. More blood surrounded the ninja doppleganger.

“You….you won….” Dark Lord sputtered, his body starting to waver. “Not….not bad….clearly, I underestimated your progress. You did….you did well, boy….but bear in mind that luck was on your side this day……evil still reigns, and….grows stronger day by day… day….you’ll see how meaningless this victory was!” That said, Dark Lord collapsed to the ground. An instant later, his body disappeared in a flash, leaving behind a temporary glowing leaf that floated to the ground before vanishing, along with a pendant.

Gasping for air, bloody lines streaking down his battered form, Shadow struggled to his feet. He limped over to the pendant and grabbed it. *Doubtless the real Dark Lord will want to see this, most likely as proof of success,* he mentally surmised. Fighting the intense pain in his body, Shadow climbed his way up to the top of the chamber, using ropes and floating platforms that dotted the cave. Eventually, he made it to the platform with the large, glowing crystal formation. Before laying his hand on it, he took one last look around the cave. “Ryu….Yuka,” he murmured aloud. “I know there’s still a lot of evil around….I know I have yet to win this war….still, I hope….that this victory today….helps you both rest better through the future…..I’ll make you both proud….I’ll make everyone proud.” With a final, relieved sigh, he placed a hand on the crystal rock, and vanished.

Moments after Shadow left, the cave was suddenly inhabited as a human-shaped figure appeared, seemingly out of thin air. He stood motionless in his all-black, moderately armored combat suit and mask. The eyes behind the red goggles were wide with disbelief. “Him,” he whispered, somewhat exasperated. “All the people that could’ve come, and it was him…” He then lifted up one of his wrists to where his mouth would be behind his mask. “All right, I’m done, Soulist,” he said. “Amazingly enough, the contender won, but that isn’t the biggest news. It’s who the bandit was……Yeah, just send me back and I’ll explain everything. All I know is that from this moment, everything may just change for us.” He dropped his arm to his side, and disappeared in a neon green flash.


It took tons of thought, along with the fact that I was playing Maple Story as well, so it came slower than I would have liked. Still, the latest is here, featuring a modified version of a 3rd job rogue fight! It was a tough one, but I enjoyed writing it a lot, especially since the job master clone fight is one of my favorite moments in the game. ENJOY! *leaves Mountain Dew behind, as always* Also got some bonus piccies.^_^ They have nothing to do with the third job advancement battle, but I did reference my favorite CB move, Assaulter, a lot, so I threw em in anyway. I just now noticed that they are, ironically enough, in a well-made sequence that I had no idea I crafted so well!

Previous installments:
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