74 Chapter 20: A Real Figh
Before Joshua could completely leave the group of four behind they rushed over to thank him for saving one of their lives. Apparently they were so caught up in the fact that they had won their first victory that they had forgotten to check their surroundings. They clearly belonged in the beginner forest from what Joshua could see from the fight earlier and he asked them why they had moved so far inward if they were just trying to take on one beast at a time. On the fringe of the forest at most you could run in to one of these types of creatures, but the further in you went the more likely you were to run into a group of the annoying little things. Apparently there were too many people at the fringe for them to single out their own fight so they moved a little further in.
Joshua warned them to pay attention at all times and told them they should look into working with another beginner group of a similar level if they wanted to go further in. At least that way they could have two groups watch each other's backs just in case multiple monsters appeared. They thanked him again for the advice before Joshua walked off to move further into the forest and make his way out of the beginner region. Thinking back on it Joshua was a bit surprised at the giant gap in strength between him and other rookies, even if he had more skill and a better job he didn't expect for the difference to be so glaring. Even without using his aura or any skills he could probably take down that group fairly easily. He wasn't even sure if they could hurt him based off of how much effort it took them just to take down that one rabbit.
Even so the group did show signs of being able to work extremely well together. They reacted quickly whenever something happened and they kept in sync with one another the entire fight. They didn't accidentally get in the way of each other like he expected some quickly put together groups to do so he assumed they must know each other well. Clearly the tutoring sessions that helped people get to level ten was fairly helpful, but still lacking in comparison to his training. He wondered how people without any proper training would fair. Thinking about that made Joshua feel a bit bad for Natalie who had to carry some second generation children who only used the backing of the government guild to move up quickly. If those kids back there who actually trained to fight on their own had trouble then someone who just levels based on party experience share would be a giant push over in the future.
Now that the party experience share had been changed to where it actually split the experience evenly instead of everyone getting the full amount like during the first phase, Joshua realized that Natalie must have had to work hard on her own time to keep up in level with people like Laura and Madalyn. Well he would just have to push himself even harder to catch up with everyone. If what Thoren said was true and there would be some sort of competition after ten years against other planets or some other strange thing then he would need to catch up so he could be a part of it.
Joshua made his way through the forest while occasionally sending out aura pulses to check his surroundings for any monsters. For the most part all the low level monsters would stay far away from him as they could somehow feel that he was out of their league. It was rare for him to run into any monsters while roaming through the beginner forest, but whenever he did they would run away the moment he saw them. It took a while for him to make his way all the way to the end of the beginner's forest. According to the map the system showed him whenever he pulled it up, just ahead was the start of a new region that had already been found, but not explored completely. For the beginners forest the levels of the creatures inside it were only from level ten to level fifteen. This new region had levels from twenty to twenty-five.
When Joshua reached a cliff on the edge of the forest he could understand why there was such a jump in level from this area to the next. There was no way for a rookie to get from up high on the cliff he was standing on to down their without either help or greatly injuring themselves. It was a natural divide that kept the rookies from wandering into areas that are too high level for them. Joshua grabbed the scarf he had wrapped around his neck and channeled his aura directly through it. The second he did he felt a sense of weightlessness take over his body and he pushed off the ground slightly and felt how easy it was to jump as high as the trees. He then floated back down to the top of the cliff slowly and smiled after having tested Nathan's enchantment out.
He took a deep breath before jumping once again, but this time he jumped off the cliff and started to slowly float down into the trees below. When he got closer to the new area he could tell that the environment was completely different from the one on the cliff above. Instead of tall pine trees and other conifers that hid fertile ground and large bushes, this area seemed more like a marsh. The closer he got to the ground the more obvious the drastic differences became. 'For two completely different types of environments to be right next to each other is rather odd. I guess the changes to the planet throughout the evolution phase was a lot more than I thought possible.' Joshua thought as he landed on the slightly damp ground.
Joshua could see bogs and other small assortments of water on the ground around him. Luckily there was enough land for him to walk around without too much trouble. In this type of area he would have to be more careful about alligator like beast possibly snake like ones as well. Before he started to even move around to search the area he immediately used his aura pulse to search the place safely. He was able to find a few different animals in different directions, but unlike before they didn't run away when they sensed his aura flow past them. Instead they seemed to look around agitatedly as if they were searching for what caused the disturbance. This was a good sign that these monsters weren't afraid of him like in the beginner area.
As soon as the pulse finished Joshua started to move in the direction of the monster that was the closest to see what he was up against. When he moved close enough to the area where the creature came within sight he moved behind a tree so he didn't alert it. The monster he had found looked like an overgrown lizard that was about the size of a lion would have been before everything changed. It was looking around cautiously as it was eating some sort of meal that it had hid underneath its body. While Joshua observed it, a bit of information popped up over the creatures head from the system. The lizard was level twenty-one and its level was highlighted red as a warning that the monster was ten levels above him at the least. According to the information he read at the learning center this was a way for the system to show you the threat level of a creature. If there was an image of a skull where the monsters level usually was then it was supposedly way out of your league. There were other things that distinguished how strong a monster was, but from what Joshua could see this was your average level twenty-one creature that didn't have anything special going on.
Joshua pulled his sword off of its holster and felt the weight sink into his hands as he prepared to approach the creature. He was going to test fighting it without his aura first to see how strong it was in relation to the rabbits. If things got dangerous he would start to use his aura then. He stepped out from behind the tree and whistled a bit to alert the creature that had now turned in his direction. The lizard looked surprise at first as it quickly jumped up and looked towards Joshua warily, but after seeing Joshua was alone it let out a loud hissing sound before charging over quickly. It was far faster than the rabbits from earlier and moved in a shifty way that would make it hard to hit as it approached.
Instead of charging forward Joshua held his blade out in front of him and positioned it so that he could block the lizards rush. When the lizard head butted the front of his sword in an attempt to knock him off his feet Joshua was pushed back a bit and had to slide across the ground to slow down the lizards momentum before he stopped it completely. In its surprise the lizard was caught off guard as Joshua used the blade to lift the lizard up onto its hind legs leaving its belly exposed. Before it could react Joshua swung the blade back down and cut the poor creature in half. When the two half's of the body fell over and thumped against the ground Joshua let out a held breath of air that got rid of all the tension in his body. He used his aura pulse once again to check the surroundings before picking up the torn up animal and throwing it into a portal that put it into his inventory. The bigger the beast the bigger the portal would get for it.
'Well that wasn't too tough.' Joshua thought as he felt a sensation feel up his body and soon realized he had actually leveled up. 'I guess fighting monsters well ahead of your level makes leveling easier. Makes sense.' After his pulse has spotted another similar creature not too far away Joshua decided to make his way over and test out how well his aura would work against these type of creatures. Although he can handle the small fries like these lizards without it, he doubted those were anything but bottom feeders in this new area.
When he arrived in the new clearing and saw another one of those lizards drinking water from a large pond that looked rather murky Joshua prepared for another confrontation. This time he let his aura flare from his body and allowed the shroud to cover him completely. The sword that had felt a bit heavy to wield earlier now felt lighter to him. He stepped out into the open and watched as the lizard turned to the small noise he made while coming into the clearing. It hissed angrily before it started to charge over. It was the same level as the last one so Joshua knew what to expect, but before it got close a long tongue shot out of the pond and grabbed the frightened lizard by the tail before quickly dragging it back into the water. Joshua astonished by the new development and was a bit worried by the fact that his aura pulse couldn't sense the creature that was under the water.
Not to long later ripples started to form from the pond once again as what looked like a giant frog waltzed its way out of the water. The frog was nearly two stories tall and looked like a giant green balloon with legs. Its eyes lazily looked down at Joshua as it munched away on the lizard it had just taken for its meal. The information that the system had put for the frog was a red warning for its level of twenty-three along with a couple of stars next to it. This was a sign that this creature had actually filled up some of its potential while living in the wild and was of a higher class than the lizards he had seen earlier. At most a creature could have up to five stars, at that point it would be a creature that had full potential at its level. For one star the creature would have to at a minimum reach half of its potential at its level. So this frog was stronger than the average one and this was most likely its territory.
Joshua smiled at the upcoming challenged and positioned his weapon so that he was ready to attack at any moment. For a second things were rather quiet as they stared at each other, but the silence was broken as the frog's tongue shot out of its mouth like a missile as it tried to grab Joshua. Before it could reach him Joshua twisted out of its way with his improved reflexes and quickly swung his blade to cut it off before the frog could bring it back. Blood sprayed into the air as a large portion of the tongue was left squirming on the ground for a few seconds before it stopped. The giant beast croaked in pain for a moment before it gave Joshua a dirty look. It hopped into the air as it attempted to squash him beneath it, but Joshua rolled out of the way and took advantage of its slow recovery from landing. He quickly smashed his blade into one of its back legs, but was surprised it didn't slice directly through the leg but instead seemed to bruise it heavily. The slimy skin made it hard for the blade to cut through it, but the weight itself was enough to damage the frog and force it to move away to avoid another blow.
The frog glared at him once again as it shook its back leg a bit as if to get rid of the pain. It opened its mouth wide again to show off is tongue that had now regrown back in a matter of seconds, but by now Joshua was used to enemies that had high regeneration. All he would need to do is kill it in one go. In the past that was a problem sense he wasn't strong enough, but now he had many means to deliver a crushing blow to the annoying frog. Joshua took a defensive stance with his blade in preparation for its next attack, but quickly changed his mind when he saw what the beast plan to do. Instead of lunging at him again or shooting its tongue it decided to spit a large glob of green goo towards him. Joshua quickly sent a blast of aura towards the attack causing it to burst and splatter away from him. He watched as the slime like substance seemed to melt anything it landed on and thanked god that his aura could sense when something dangerous was going on. It was like a sixth sense, but it didn't tell him exactly what was dangerous.
The frog looked a bit frazzled that its stronger attack was dealt with so easy, so in its rage it lunged towards Joshua again and tried to smash him into the ground. This time Joshua didn't dodge and used his aura hardening to take the blow head on. He slid back a bit, but was able to hold the enormous frog up in the air above him which shocked his opponent. Grinning with excitement from the fight Joshua charged up another aura blast and this time smashed it right into the frog's belly. It flipped the beast over onto its side and caused it to cough up some blood. It quickly tried to kick Joshua away to protect itself, but Joshua easily side stepped the obvious attack and decided to finish the creature off.
He charged aura into his blade like he did with his body and caused it to light up with a dangerous gleam as the swords golden edges started to turn blue like his aura. He then quickly slashed at the frog's leg and cut it off in one smooth motion. This kept it from being able to right itself allowing Joshua to charge up another aura blast, but this time he channeled it through his sword instead of his fist. He twisted around and sent the blade cruising through its belly and dissecting the frog as if he was in a high school biology class. The thing yelled in pain for a bit before going silent as all of its guts started to fall out. Joshua jumped out of the way making sure none of its body fluids got on him in the process.
When it finally stopped leaking a small red orb fell out of its belly as well. When Joshua used the system to inspect it he found out that it was a core like the boss monsters from the first phase. He let out a relaxed sigh before putting the body of the frog into his inventory. He felt a flood of strength fill him twice as he must have leveled up again for killing a stronger monster. This time he gained two levels. He wiped some sweat off his face from all the exertion and smiled at how fun fighting these monsters turned out to be. He hadn't felt this alive while fighting in a long time. During the first phase he had the lives of humanity on his shoulders through the whole process so he never really got to enjoy fighting the creatures. Not to mention the zombies weren't all that interesting to fight for the most part. Now there was a whole new world filled with things for him to test himself against and grow stronger.
"Maybe dad and sis were right. I guess I'm a fighter after all." Joshua mumbled to himself with a bright grin on his face. "Now let's see what we can find next."