110 Chapter 56: Parting Ways and Where to Grind Nex
Over the next few days Joshua, Lilly and Jayce's group worked together in a similar manner to level up against the insects in the forest. Whenever they found three star beetles Jayce and his party would charge forward and take down the beast with good team work and tactics in a matter of minutes. It was a far better showing than any other group that Joshua had seen in the forest and at a far better pace. Whenever they came across a big enough swarm Joshua and Lilly would be up to fight. They had pretty much figured out the best way to take out large swarms and stuck to that method. Joshua was able to use his shield to be invincible for a short amount of time while Tank hid in his shell after the initial attack. Then before his shield was finished they would tear apart the smaller bees before taking down the queen bee at the end.
They followed this pattern throughout day time and took a break at night while finding a good camp sight. Joshua of course showed Jayce and his group how good cooked food from the evolved meat was and Jayce even tried to cook a leg from one of the beetles, but Julia burnt it to a crisp before telling him how disgusting that was getting a laugh out of everyone. Joshua wouldn't have minded eating bugs if it was a last resort, but with all the stored up rabbit and lizard meet he had he didn't see a reason to go down that path. Of course he kept all the alligator meet for whenever he went back home, it was too good to use for campfire food with little seasoning and his own average cooking when he could have either his mother cook it or Vivian cook it at her restaurant.
The group got along well together and even Monika started to become more outgoing when around Joshua and Lilly after spending a couple of days fighting together. She was still the shy type, but she wasn't a stuttering mess any more whenever she was talking to them. On occasion Joshua would let Marcus scout just so he wouldn't get rusty with his skills and he was surprised at how well the thief could figure out his surroundings without having an aura pulse like Joshua. He was able to follow foot prints and poop trails of the insects to find where they were located without too much trouble and after the first day he was even able to hunt down three star beetles exclusively since he could judge the difference by the size of their footsteps.
In the end Joshua wouldn't have to worry about them being able to handle themselves on their own, but they stuck together since things went faster that way and Joshua had to wait for his shield to be available between each time he took on a swarm. Although the shield only lasted for five seconds, that amount of time was more than enough for him to tear through all of the ones that clustered around him. It was essential for their strategy to quickly take down swarms so they used the down time to find beetles for Jayce's group to take down on their own while they watched just in case things went wrong or some other enemy interrupted the fight.
While traveling together over that time they did run into a couple other groups, but it seemed like most groups tried to avoid the area do to all of the annoying swarms that could interrupt their fights at any time if given the chance. Even the two groups they did end up running into were only passing through to head further into the forest towards the large mountain at the center. Both groups had members that were level thirty-five or higher which meant whatever was at the mountain would be something Joshua would need to check out before leaving the area.
After three days Jayce's group had all reached level thirty-five and it was time for them to head back and train up their potential for a while since they hadn't been getting the full potential out of their levels and wanted to do so before trying to head over to the Phoenix guild for further development. They didn't plan to join since they wanted to be a part of whatever guild Joshua eventually made, but they could go there to train against dungeons instead of slowing down there pace in another area without Joshua and Lilly.
Joshua on the other hand had reached level thirty and at this point the swarms weren't worth the effort if he wanted to keep up the pace. Even though they were a large amount of enemies at once, their level wasn't very high outside of the queen and she wasn't worth any more than a three star beetle. From then on Joshua would have to find a harder challenge further in the forest. "Well it looks like it's about time for us to head back." Jayce said getting the attention of everyone and pulling Joshua out of his thoughts. "We've done just about all we need to in this area. Of course fighting a dungeon would be cool, but the dungeon here has never been completed.
"Joshua looked towards Jayce a bit surprised at that statement. Julia seemed to catch on to what Joshua was thinking and decided to explain since Jayce had stopped talking.
"He means the large ant hill that looks like a mountain at the center of the forest. Although several people have tried to take on the place there are just so many pathways inside filled with several enemies that has made it so no one has actually made it to the center of the place. Of course some high level explorers could come back and try to conquer the dungeon, but then their evaluation would be horrible and the reward wouldn't be nearly worth the effort." Julia explained. Unlike towns conquering a dungeon didn't give you ownership to it, it just gave you a boost of experience whenever you grinded through it again. That in itself was worth it if you were trying to level up, but if you were to high level it wouldn't really make any difference.
"So then why do so many people go there if it's not worth the trouble?" Lilly asked a bit puzzled.
"Although no one has cleared the place at this point it doesn't mean the monsters there aren't worth fighting." Marcus said with a shrug. "All of the ants inside are at level thirty three and up while having at least two stars. They are worth the time to grind against even if you aren't able to clear the dungeon."
"Yeah, plus there's some small fry guild there trying to act like they have ownership over the place. They call themselves the Raiders Guild." Allen explained with a frown.
"I'm guessing this guild isn't so pleasant by your expression?" Joshua asked.
"They're nothing, but thugs." Jayce growled out. "They act like they own the place and steal other people's kills to try to get the point across. They aren't willing to actually dive deep into the dungeon since they rely on numbers in the area more than anything else. They only have a couple of strong people in their guild, but of course they don't waste their time in a lower level area such as this. All they are is a bunch of assholes."
"If that's the case then why do other people still try to go there then?" Joshua said with a frown as he thought of how annoying it would be for someone else to try to steal his kills after making all the effort to get it to the point of almost killing it.
"Well, it takes us about an hour or so to find a swarm or three star beetles here right?" Marcus asked getting nods from everyone. "Well there all you have to do is turn a corner and you're sure to find opponents even stronger or in larger groups. It's easy to grind up even with the threat of those fools trying to kill steal from you. Plus the place is just too big for them to actually try to kill steal from everyone."
"Are you planning to head their next Boss?" Jayce asked getting Joshua to cringe a bit at the title.
"Not yet, that will be the last place we go to before heading back. If I'm going to go to a dungeon then I plan to actually clear it." Joshua said getting looks of surprise from everyone except Lilly who just absentmindedly brushed one of her pet rabbits. "Is there any other special areas in this forest that you guys have heard of?"
The group seemed to think about it for a bit before Monika was the one to surprisingly respond first to his question. "Well…there is a portion of the forest that people tend to avoid lately. Apparently there's some sort of strong beast there that has killed off all the explorers that have gone too deep into the area." She said a bit worried. "You don't plan on going there do you?"
"Of course, sounds like another great companion for Lilly if you ask me. We'll need all the help we can get if we plan to clear the dungeon." Joshua said while looking a bit excited at the information. Before the rest of Jayce's group could try to talk him out of it Jayce started to laugh loudly gaining everyone's attention.
"That's our boss alright. Don't worry about him guys. He could take down a haze monster without even having powers, I'm sure the two of them can handle themselves. Now it's time for us to head back. Thanks for everything boss!" Jayce said excitedly getting nods from the rest of his group.
"Don't worry about us we'll be just fine. You guys go and get trained up to your current potential. When you're ready to take the next step head over to the Phoenix Guild and give me a call when they ask about you. I'll explain things." Joshua said getting nods from all of them. "Well we're going to take on the mysterious beast you were talking about, make sure to take care of yourselves."
"No problem boss. I'll show you just how strong we can be next time we meet." Jayce said with a big smile before he and his group summoned a door to head back to the hub world.
"Well, they were an interesting bunch. Now you've got official followers Joshua…how does it feel?" Lilly said with a teasing smile.
"Tiring." Joshua responded with a sigh. "Now let's go check out this place they were talking about since it's actually marked on the map for the area."
"Yep, let's go get my new friend." She replied as she hopped on to the back Mr. Hoppy so that they could make it towards the area at a decent pace. Joshua charged ahead in the direction of where the forest map had a large warning labeled on top of it and made sure to avoid any swarms or beetles along the way. After a while they stopped running into them all together which told him that they were getting close to the area they were looking for. Then he started to notice changes in the forest around him, so he slowed down so that they wouldn't charge straight into a trap.
Unlike the rest of the forest which was lush and filled with life this area had several changes to it. The trees looked as if they were dying as all of their leaves were turning brown as though it was fall instead of spring. There were weird markings on a lot of the trees and some were knocked over completely looking like they were torn down recently. Joshua sent out an aura pulse to check out the immediate surroundings and he noticed a creature that was slowly moving in their direction.
The creature busted out of a fallen tree nearby and tried to surprise them, but since Joshua had noticed it he moved at the last moment to take it off guard as he smashed its head into a crater on the ground. Even with the large injury it continued to try to squirm from under Joshua's blade. When he got a good look at it he could see that it was like a large centipede and was big and long enough to wrap around the large trees in the area and tear them down if need be. It only had two stars by its name so Joshua put it out of its misery before turning to look deeper into the forest. He was sure there was something else here besides these centipedes that was frightening everything else away and he intended to find out what.