Chapter 50 Cheating Death – Hunting (Part 2)
Moving at a jogging speed, the group followed behind the mare as they weaved in between the trees moving with an elegance the others were sorely lacking.
Moving at the same pace for over an hour, everyone came to stop at a cliff’s edge as the mare glanced down at endless forestry.
Hannah and Ava were panting and breathing hard. They hadn’t moved at this speed for this long since they’d began their journey. This had already taken a huge toll on them.
Coming to stand beside the mare, Daichi looked in the same direction they were staring. In the distance below them all he could see was more trees, and nothing of the ground itself.
Only green as the tops of the lush trees were all that could be seen. Each three thick and it’s branches spreading to touch the trees around it in some way. There was nothing that could be seen past the dense cluster of trees, the ground covered and kept secret from their prying eyes.
Glancing back at the mare, “Are they down there?” Daichi questioned.
The shorter mare responded in a heartbeat “Yes. Two of them. The mana fluctuations are huge. Much stronger than any one of you.”
The taller mare followed up with a comment of her own “We would advise you to find another target, we can go down but the amount of mana coming off of these two creatures is so disproportionate to the others here that it may as well be comparing a child to an adult.”
Noticing the wording, Daichi’s left eyebrow shot up. Wondering what they meant but not wanting to ask directly only to receive a vague response, he decided to work his question in a more subtle manner than he was accustomed too. “You said it yourselves before. Mana itself does not dictate strength alone. They have a lot of mana, perhaps their physical strength is weak and that could be our advantage. You also mentioned that compared to the others their mana is much higher, that must mean that mine isn’t too far off correct?” Daichi said looking nonchalant.
Glancing at one another, the shorter mare tilted her head to the side for a second almost as if thinking about how to respond.
Being thrown off by the gesture, Daichi was surprised when she answered “You are correct. That could be the case. We can’t tell how much more or less the mana is between the two of you, seeing as we can’t get a grasp of your mana.”
Glancing at the shorter mare with a look of inquisitiveness, Daichi knew unless he asked they wouldn’t answer, “Can’t grasp my mana? What do you mean?”
The shorter mare having decided already to state their position, followed it up “Your mana fluctuates in a strange way that we have not previous come across. Sometimes it is larger, sometimes smaller, we can’t get a grasp on it’s size or anything else. We previously assumed you were masking your mana. There are endless ways to using mana in this universe, an ability that disguises mana in such a way would not be too surprising.” she said.
Thinking about it for a moment, Daichi realized that it explained a lot. it explained why they had been weary of him recently and why they had only continued to eat Kaden’s mana and only his.
Perhaps if they could sense more than the amount of mana they could sense that Hannah’s mana was of the death attribute or something along those lines. Although it wouldn’t explain why they hadn’t tried Ava’s mana unless or was simply a preference for mana of the opposite gender?
Wanting to know but not wanting to ask Daichi put the thought off to the side, deciding it was unimportant as of now.
Finally catching their breaths with Kaden helping them with water, Hannah spoke up. “I think that going all the way down is going to be rough for all of us. I say we work our way around. We can try to find opponents we can handle. There’s no need to fixate on anyone or anything.”
Ava nodded, somehow even more winded than Hannah.
Glancing at them with a slight look of annoyance, Daichi shrugged his shoulders. Even he thought it would be inefficient to waste their time focusing on an opponent they might not be able to defeat.
Unexpectedly though, he still argued for it “We could do that. It’s probably the better option. I just think we should know what the limits of our abilities are. So far we’ve either battled monsters we can kill with ease or with a lot of effort… At some point we’re going to come across something we’ll have to run away from, I just think it’s a good idea to get a feel for what they will be like but on our terms.”
Taking a deep breath, Daichi continued “When we were battling the trolls and I was running from the troll leader, I felt a presence. It felt like someone was watching me but I could feel that between them and me there was a world of a difference that nothing I could do would help. I didn’t like it at all”
Turning to stare at the mare Daichi asked the question that had been nagging at him since yesterday, “Did you sense anything out of the ordinary yesterday? I imagine whatever it was probably had a lot of mana.”
The mare glanced at each other before the shorter mare responded as was their custom “No. We didn’t sense anything.”
Daichi frowned, and Kaden spoke up “Does that mean there wasn’t anything there?”
The shorter mare responded “Not necessarily. Our ability has its limits. That could be the case or it could have been someone who could hide themselves or their mana. It could have been someone with little mana. It could have been something else entirely.”
Daichi decided to shrug it off as he looked back at the group waiting to hear their feedback.
“I say we look for more monsters in the area. If you want to check those two out we can do that but it’d be dumb to focus on that ignore our current purpose for searching for monsters.” Ava responded
Kaden looked at her and noted in agreement as Hannah nodded as well, “Perfect, then we’ll do just that. Keep a feel for them as we make our way down and fight whatever we can come across.” Hannah said.
With everyone in agreement on the topic, Daichi merely looked back down over the cliff.
Daichi decided not to dwell on it, as they took a short break so everyone could rest up before following the mare down and slowly down the long way around the forest until it leveled it’s way down.
Along the way the group ran into a few small groups of Almas and defeated them with relative ease. Daichi led the way and with his Chaotic Eruption skill allowed the other three to run in and kill their opponents with ease.
The Almas unlike the Trolls focus on their speed and attacks rather than un overwhelming vitality and defense that can be used offensively. As such, Kaden and Ava were able to be nearly as effective as Hannah by attacking vital points while they were stunned thanks to Daichi.
Getting a few kills in with minimal effort, the group became more unified as they moved forwards. No longer holding the same sentimentality of the past, they moved with purpose.
Daichi was thrilled at the actions of the others. No longer being weighed down by Kaden’s morality, Ava’s hesitation or even Hannah’s preference for safety. Their kills were quick and effective and their short battles never lasting more than a minute. In such a way they were able to dispatch 3 groups of Almas on the long way around to get to the lower portion of the forest. Having killed 4 Almas each or so, everyone but Daichi were feeling confidence in their progress.
After every battle Daichi would stop to meditate for half an hour or so, allowing himself to recover his mana and the others to rest.
Moving forward Daichi was feeling confident until he sensed something up ahead that the mare hadn’t caught. Moving towards them pushing past the vines and branches was what looked like a man. Immediately getting in position to attack as the others were rattled by the sudden presence.
Daichi analyzed the threat with his skill.
Human Named: Jeremy Norom Level: 19
Description: A failure in life, second and third chances were wasted on him.
“Stop where you are!” Ava yelled triggering her melt skill in both hands trying to sound threatening and succeeding as there was still blood on her clothes.
Hannah and Kaden were also getting ready to defend themselves.
“No! Stop! Please! I… I saw you in the distance! Oh my gods! I’m so happy! You’re people! There’s people!” the man cried out in what appeared to the others as genuine joy and relief.
Getting closer and then dropping to his knees the man looked up at the sky and closed eyes, his face showing an expression of pure relief.
The group stared as this ragged looking man stumbled onto the ground. The realization that another human was indeed alive left them wide eyed.