Joshua and Lilly made their way out of a portal that lead to their destination on earth. They found themselves outside of a rather large looking forest with what looked like a monumental mountain in the background that loomed over everything. They were somewhere in Colorado from what he could tell on the map and the new area that they were standing on the fringe of was a level thirty to thirty-five location. It was going to be challenging, but that just brought a look of excitement to Joshua's face which surprised anyone around that had taken notice of him and Lilly. Although the place didn't have as many explorers around as the beginner area had there were still more people here than in the marsh area after the hidden dungeon was put up for the public to find.
People were standing around and forming groups if they didn't have one before heading into the forest armed and ready to fight. Even so the place wasn't exactly a prime location for people to come explore at the moment and the reason for that was rather simple. The forest and everything else within the area of the zone was flooded with insects of all kinds. The one thing about insects was the fact that they tended to group up and become a problem for smaller groups or sometimes even larger groups if their unlucky and end up running into a swarm. For most people a location like this wasn't worth the time and effort and those who came only did so because most other training locations were fairly overpopulated at the moment.
Joshua on the other hand saw this as the perfect location to level up as fast as possible. While others might be afraid of large groups of enemies coming at them at the same time, it was the exact opposite for Joshua. His abilities made it easy for him to fight in a variety of situations, while having Tank along made it even easier for them to take down giant groups at a time. Plus the level difference would make the rate at which the two of them gained levels much faster. Hopefully they would be able to find a decent dungeon in the area to speed up the process even more.
"Why did we have to come to a place filled with insect?" Lilly asked with a frown.
"Because insects tend to stick together which makes it even easier to gain experience from fighting them. Besides several people avoid places like these since they hate being around bugs. That just gives us more space to explore sense we won't have to worry about continuously running into group after group of parties trying to fight over the same prey." Joshua explained.
"Well at least I should be able to find an interesting new companion in the area." Lilly said as her usual smiling expression returned. Before the two of them could head into the forest to check things out for themselves they had to turn down offers from several people that were putting groups together on the edge of the forest. It seemed like people were perceiving them as strong do to the fact they were willing to go in and explore the place with just the two of them, but if they had actually seen Lilly and Joshua's levels then they would probably mock them for getting ahead of themselves. Of course the pair kept their information hidden so they wouldn't run into that exact problem. "Do people always bother you like that whenever you're about to go exploring?" Lilly asked.
"Well I do put on a rather imposing figure. That combined with the fact that at the moment it looks like I'm going into the forest alone with only a healer walking besides me probably makes me look like I'm more than worth the effort to get to join their rag tag groups." Joshua said with a teasing smile that got a chuckle out of Lilly. "That's why I just keep my info hidden, it makes it seem as if I want to be left alone."
"Smart, well at least everyone here doesn't seem to have a grudge against me. Guess the people who shunned me back in the beginners area haven't quite made it this far along yet." Lilly said as they finally made it to just beyond the tress of the forest. The place was filled with all sorts of odd sounds and they could even here fighting off in the distance, but it didn't deter them at all. "Well here we go, I won't bring out Tank until were about to start fighting so we can remain at least somewhat stealthy."
"Fine, but keep Flutter and Mr. and Mrs. Floppy at the ready for when we start fighting." Joshua said getting a quick nod before the two of them made their way inside the place. The forest wasn't to densely packed together which made it rather easy for them to navigate through. Along the way they had seen a couple of groups fighting what looked like giant beetles, but they proceeded further in so that they wouldn't be interrupted in their fights. After a while they finally got far enough inside the forest that they had some space to themselves away from all the other groups. "Alright now let's find us something to test ourselves against. Don't bring out Tank until we have a sure fire target."
"Don't worry about that, I'll leave everything up to you at first so we can get use to what we're going to be up against in this area." Lilly said with a smile. At the moment she was sitting on top of her lizard while using her two rabbits to hide their presence effectively. Flutter was sitting on her shoulder ready to help out at any moment. "Now get to finding us some opponents before they find us instead."
Joshua nodded at her words before taking on a more serious visage as he closed his eyes and sent out an aura pulse throughout the forest as far as he could. He was able to get a decent layout of his surroundings and found several areas where enemies could ambush them if they weren't careful. He also found some groups searching around quite a ways away from them which was a good sign that they would be able to get a battle to themselves without having anyone come over to interrupt. One thing he had learned of from his friends was that in crowded places kill stealing was a normal thing. Since only one party could get experience from a kill, if your prey was killed by another party all of your time would have been wasted. Of course it created conflict and Joshua didn't want to have to deal with that at the moment.
Soon he was able to find a group of two large beetles near the fringe of his aura pulse far away from anything else. They were minding their own business and digging up a nest of some sort, but Joshua would have to get closer to check out the surroundings of the area the two beetles were at just to make sure nothing else would be able to catch them by surprise. After checking everything out he lead Lilly over to where he had found the two beetles, carefully making sure to make as little noise as possible along the way. When they got close enough Joshua sent out another aura pulse to check out the surrounding area and found that the nearest creature was too far away to be a threat to them if they decided to start a fight now.
He looked over the two beetles without giving away his position and observed them to see how strong they were. What he found out was that the two beetles were both level thirty-two, but only had one star next to their names. The level difference was big enough to make things a little challenging, but sense they were only one stars there stats probably wouldn't be as good as the five star iguana they faced in the hidden dungeon. At the moment there was only one way to find out and Joshua was prepared to get to work on doing that. "Alright I'm going in first to test these things out. Once I've seen all of the things these beetles can do you can send Tank in to back me up." Joshua said getting a simple nod and smile from Lilly in response.
Joshua climbed up a high ridge over where the two beetles were digging to make a nest so that he could attack from above instead of head on. The two beetles seemed a bit restless after feeling the aura pulses pass over them, but they couldn't pinpoint where it came from. Joshua waited a bit for them to start digging again so that they wouldn't be as alert before flaring his aura shroud and diving in from above. He used his scale blade like a bat and surrounded it in aura to add the weighted feeling on contact before smashing directly into the back of one of the beetles. The blow cracked open a large portion of the beetles exoskeleton and little bits of green pus seemed to leak out causing the beetle to screech in pain. The loud shriek grabbed the attention of its partner which charged over and used its large horn to knock Joshua away.
The blow was fairly heavy and sent Joshua sliding back, but it wasn't strong enough to be too much of a threat in his opinion. Now that he had both of their attention Joshua looked to see how much damage his sneak attack actually did and was pleasantly surprised. Even though these beetles had some incredibly tough exoskeletons that would be extremely difficult to try to cut through, when he smashed it with blunt force the attack was strong enough to crack open a large portion of the small house sized beetles back. The wounded beetle slumped a bit behind its enraged partner for protection and now they were both completely focused on Joshua.
Joshua took up a defensive posture to see what kind of attacks the beetles would use in response to his assault and was surprised when the uninjured beetle's back opened up and thin wings came out that allowed it to hover off of the ground a bit. Judging by its size it probably couldn't actually fly all that fast or high, but that wasn't what it was planning to do. A glow of aura seemed to form around its front as it lifted up higher into the air before it let out a shriek and dived towards Joshua at full speed trying to smash him into the ground. Joshua immediately used his aura hardening and blocked the creature's horns as the ground underneath him started to sink in and crack from the force of the impact and Joshua used all of his strength to knock its horn away and send it smashing through some of the trees behind him.
Before Joshua could try to get in a clean blow on the off balance creature the wounded beetle started to vibrate its horn which created a sound that tried to badly influence Joshua. Soon a message about his will preventing him from being confused popped up and he smiled knowing that his will was still high enough to avoid dealing with those sorts of attacks. Since he was able to continue on as normal, Joshua charged an aura blast into his scale blade before attacking the disoriented beetle that was trying to get up from crashing through the trees. Its back was wide open sense it outer shell was opened to let its wings out and Joshua used that to his advantage.
His strike tore straight through its back and splattered its body fluids all over the place. These creatures were large and strong, but weren't the brightest since they left themselves wide open with their basic attacks. His echo strike tore up through its back and into its neck causing the beetle to finally fall over and die. Just as Joshua was about to turn around and take on the remaining beetle he saw Tank being summoned by Lilly as he crashed into the smaller beetles back stomping it into the ground with his weight. With a few well-placed stomps he had finished off the poor creature and had helped give Joshua a good idea of how strong the creatures they are going up against would be. Although the beetles would probably be on the lower end of the beast they would find in the area it was a good judge of the basic opponents they would be using to level up against.
"Alright now on to the next one." Joshua said with a bright smile.