For the rest of the day Joshua challenged himself against more monsters as he explored the marsh area. He was surprised by how few monsters he was able to run in to in the area. Through the whole day he had only encountered four more of the lizards and another couple of frogs. He knew this wasn't one of the bigger areas sense it was a marsh in the middle of New Mexico. This wasn't the locations natural habitat so it wasn't to surprising that the newly grown marsh didn't have many animals that you would normally find in those types of places. The lizards and frogs were probably evolved from smaller versions of themselves from before the earth's change. If he was in Florida or Louisiana though things would be a completely different story. The marshes there would have several experienced beast that were used to that type of environment.
The beast that he did find were not on the same level of the first frog that he had faced. All of the lizards were normal beast encounters that varied from level twenty to level twenty two, while the two frogs were both level twenty two and had no star rankings on their system description. They were still decently strong, but not in the same league as the first one he had faced. If the two ranked one was comparable to the strength of the boss class monster he had faced at the end of phase one then the two regular ones would be comparable to sub-boss level haze monsters at best. Even then all of the frogs move sets were rather basic so they were not nearly as challenging as the haze monsters that all seemed to have unique abilities. Outside of spitting acid and using their tongues from range the frogs weren't all that special. A simple dodge was all it took to get a good advantage against them.
Sense it was starting to get dark Joshua decided to make his way back to the beginner area to set up camp. Although he didn't think he would have to much trouble camping in the marsh, he would rather stay in an area where the animals were too afraid to approach him due to his aura. He quickly made his way back towards the cliff while using his aura pulse to avoid any threatening creatures in the area. By the time he had climbed up the cliff the sun had gone down and the chirping of some birds in the distance was replaced by the sounds of some crickets. It was interesting to hear this sense it had explained something that Joshua had been wondering about. Based off the sound it was clear that some animals remained the same after the change, Joshua doubted that a human sized cricket would make the exact same sound at night. The same idea went for the chirping of the birds.
After reaching the top of the cliff he quickly made his way into the forest to see if he could find a more open clearing to set up camp. He was deep enough into the area that he wouldn't have to worry about any other rookie level explorers being around. It didn't take long for him to find a nice open spot where a couple of the rabbit creatures had been chasing each other around in circles. Once the over grown rodents had noticed him they immediately fled the area causing Joshua to chuckle a bit at their antics. He swiped the air to open up his inventory and quickly took out a tent and some other camping gear. He already had some things inside his inventory to set up a camp fire so he didn't have to go through the forest to find wood to burn. He also made sure to bring a little device out and set it down next to his now set up tent before turning it on. The little metal cylinder looking object with two antennas poking out from the top started to vibrate a bit before it went quiet once again, but a green light on the top of it showed that it was working.
This little object was a sort of repellent that kept monster of a certain level away from the area. It was a bit expensive for him to purchase, but it was completely necessary if he wanted to go exploring on his own. If he was in a group then someone could take night watch like they had done back at the farm, but for now he needed something else to keep watch as he slept. Of course the item only worked up to a point, it couldn't turn away any monsters that had reached tier two otherwise more commonly known as level one hundred and up. The device also didn't work inside dungeons or inside the haze. Although the system did have things that were able to work inside those places such as weapons that previously would have been useless, most of those things were designed purely for combat.
After Joshua had finished setting up a fire he pulled out one of the rabbits he had killed earlier in the day and started to prepare it to cook over the fire. He had a few spices to make it more flavorful, but he was never that great of a cook sense his mother's cooking just blew anything he ever made for himself out of the water. He made sure to place the core of the monster along with its fur back inside his inventory to sell at the market whenever he got back. Although he could sell it to the system for cheap it would be better to sell it to other humans that had a use for them. Many support jobs worked with cores for enchantment work while the fur could be used by tailors to make clothes that are more resistant than the norm. Besides it was best to create a new economy without everyone completely relying on the system for everything in Joshua's mind. Who knew when the system would force them to do so in the end.
After taking a bite of the rabbit meat he nodded his head a bit in delight at the surprisingly good taste. He knew he wasn't a good cook, but apparently the meat on its own was just that good. Clearly evolved animals tasted far better than their counterparts. While eating Joshua opened up his status page to take a quick look to see how things had changed after leveling up a few times throughout the day. Sense he was fighting higher level opponents he was getting far more experience than expected and had already reached level fifteen. What surprised him was the fact that his max potential for each of those levels was completely filled up which made him realize something new.
'Looks like my training not only filled my potential up to the max value, but also saved up more for when I leveled up in the future.' Joshua thought with a smile. Although he had maxed out on stats for a level ten in all parts a long time ago he didn't expect his continued training to have this effect. 'I guess I'll grind levels some more tomorrow to see just how far I can go before I stop gaining full benefits for my level ups. Maybe I could check out the beginner dungeon after that point. No reason to grind levels anymore if I'm no longer gaining the most out of them.'
With a content expression at his discovery Joshua went back to enjoying his meal as he thought over his combat from earlier and how his abilities could be used in different ways going forward. Of course he had a few new ideas to try out, but he would probably need a tougher opponent for some of those ideas. After finishing his food Joshua let out a yawn, but decided to do a few simple exercises and meditation before getting in the tent for some much deserved rest.
As he was cycling his aura while meditating his senses began to sharpen as his body let out a natural aura pulse that allowed him to feel his surroundings. He let his aura blend in with the nature around him in a similar way to how Ysildea had showed him the first time they trained together. It was an amazing feeling and was as if he could feel the earth itself giving off subtle emotions of happiness. As his aura continued to spread out he felt a sudden large pulse respond in kind that caused his eyes to snap open in surprise. He looked towards the direction the pulse came from and could feel whatever was causing it approaching the clearing. Joshua quickly grabbed his sword just in case whatever was coming was of the dangerous sort. Judging by the amount of aura he was feeling whatever it was could not possibly be something that belonged in the beginner area.
Joshua's Aura shroud flared to life as it covered his body. It didn't take long for the presence he was feeling to come close enough to where Joshua could hear its loud footsteps. Soon he saw several rabbits and other small animals that had probably been sleeping rushing into the clearing with panicked and fearful looks. They didn't even give Joshua the time of day as they rushed past him into the trees at full speed. That made Joshua's worries grow sense he knew that just a little while ago all these creatures panicked just from seeing him. Whatever was coming was dangerous enough that they all would rather rush in his direction than try to go around it.
All of these thoughts came to a complete halt as a giant figure started to come into view as it made its way around some of the large trees. In front of Joshua stood a giant wolf like creature that had to have been at least three stories tall while in its casual standing position. The enormous wolf was white as snow and had piercing blue eyes that seemed to stare directly back at Joshua as it came to a stop just at the edge of the clearing. Unlike his soul beast this wolf like creature didn't have any horns or extra legs, but it did have a massive aura that seemed to casually drift off of its body.
When Joshua looked at the name of the creature it was in a deep red color to signal that it was far out of his league. The name was unknown, but it had five stars next to it along with five skulls above it. This thing was even more dangerous than the haze monsters in the big cities judging by the amount of skulls that popped up over its head. At first Joshua was ready to defend himself, but the more he felt the aura pouring off of the creature the more he knew it wasn't there to fight him. 'I have no idea what this thing is, but it doesn't seem aggressive.' Joshua thought. Soon the creature started to send another pulse of aura that passed over Joshua causing him to look at it in confusion. The wolf simply nodded its head as if waiting for Joshua to reply. Picking up on this Joshua put his guard down a bit and sent out an aura pulse of his own that passed into the surroundings. The large wolf seemed to relax a bit at this before a grin filled its face. Its tail seemed to wag slowly as a sign of its happiness before it let out a loud howl as it sat down in front of Joshua.
Not long after its howl a few smaller wolves rushed into the clearing and happily ran around the larger wolf. By their energetic movements and overly happy disposition Joshua could tell these new wolves were puppies that were probably waiting for the bigger one to give them the signal that things were fine. One of the little wolf, little being a relative term sense they were the size of large horses, rushed over to Joshua and started to try to get him to play around with it. Joshua smiled a bit and started to scratch the large animal along its ears which he had to reach up to do. It smiled happily before running off to mess with its siblings once again. Joshua simply watched the scene in wonder as the apparent mother wolf howled once again before walking back towards the forest. It turned to give Joshua a simple nod of the head before it called its puppies over once again. The energetic creatures whined a bit before following their mother into the forest.
Soon the clearing was once again quiet as Joshua sat on the ground and thought about the little encounter. He now had a ton of questions to ask Thoren, but he would wait until morning. It was time to get some rest and hopefully there would be no more surprises throughout the night.