111 Chapter 57: Itsy Bitsy Spider
After lifting his scale blade off the now dead creature's corpse Joshua inspected its body a bit to see if there was anything he could gleam from it that would tell him what other abilities the creature had. From what he could tell they were obviously designed for silent attacks since they had long legs that moved fairly quickly and precisely in comparison to other creatures. As long as these things were smart enough they could probably move through the forest silently and if Joshua hadn't just used his aura pulse then he would have most likely been taken by surprise. They weren't all that strong which was why Joshua was able to take it out with a couple simple blows without even using his aura shroud, but they most likely had some kind of poison ability judging by the giant stinger on the end of the creatures body that was arched towards Lilly.
"We'll have to be careful going forward. We're not going to be able to take these things by surprise. We make too much noise while moving so go ahead and take Tank out for extra protection." Joshua said to Lilly getting a quick nod in return. "For now we'll move through slowly and follow my aura pulse just in case. I get the feeling that whatever rules this area is going to be quite challenging in a different sort of way than the Iguana was."
"That just means it will be even better when fighting alongside us." Lilly said with a smile as she let Tank out of her soul realm. The massive turtle shrunk down to the same size as Mr. Hoppy so it would be easier for them to move through the forest. Lilly got on top of his back while synchronizing with him for ultimate protection while Joshua stayed out front as they made their way deeper into the new area.
"Do you want to tame one of these centipedes? They seem much faster than your lizard and could be used for surprise attacks later on." Joshua asked as he made sure to search the area while moving forward.
"Why on earth would I want one of those creepy things? They're just disturbing and aren't all that strong. Besides they don't have very much potential to grow much beyond leveling." Lilly replied.
"It impresses me how you can tell such things so quickly master." Tank said with his rumbling voice. "You are right though, those creature don't use aura in a very complex way. So in the future they won't grow very much."
"Does that mean that creatures that can only use aura for basic reasons won't grow much?" Joshua asked a little interested in how Tank phrased things.
"In most cases yes, but some beast are more magic reliant, so instead of large auras they use magic and mana to grow stronger. Those are usually the creatures that start to take on a more human shape in the long run, but of course they will never truly look human in the end." Tank replied as he shoved a tree over that was blocking their way forward. "A good example of that would be that Lizard Warlock from the last dungeon. His aura was abysmal in comparison to the iguana, but he could control a lot of mana."
"That's interesting, are their creatures that are good at both?" Lilly asked with excitement.
"But of course, I'm one of those creatures after all. Where did you think the water abilities came from?" Tank said with a chuckle. "Beast that are good at both have incredible potential and often have the greatest growth going forward. Mr. Hoppy is more aura oriented while the two rabbits and Flutter are more magic oriented. So in the end I'm the only beast you have at this point that is good at both."
"Is that a bit of smugness I'm hearing coming from you." Joshua said getting a loud rumbling laughter out of the large turtle.
"But of course, and I plan to continue to be one of if not her best companions for as long as possible." Tank replied before both he and Joshua turned towards the direction where a pair of centipedes had been slowly creeping towards them. Tank could sense they're aura while Joshua had already found them with an aura pulse a long time ago, but pretended to not notice so that he could turn the tables on them. Just as they started to charge from around a tree at them Joshua allowed his aura shroud to flare into being over his body and covered his scale blade in aura as well. Just as the first one was within striking range he batted it aside and sent sprawling towards Tank who simply squashed its head under one of its large feet. The second one he bisected in half with an aura blast coated strike before they continued making their way deeper into the forest.
The further they went in the more centipedes they ran into and soon it became clear to Joshua that the centipedes weren't just guarding their territory as they went deeper into the forest, but they seemed to be running away frantically from something. Otherwise they wouldn't be so quick to attack a target that got in the way and instead try to look for a perfect time to ambush them. Some of the centipedes didn't even bother to attack them, but decided to run past them in clear view. A lot of them started to follow suit as they tried to avoid the presence of Tank, but whatever was towards the center of the area was strong enough for them to disregard the giant turtle.
Now that of course didn't mean that the creature was stronger than Tank since Tank hadn't been unleashing his full aura to scare off the centipedes, but it was strong enough to scare off hordes of these centipedes as if they weren't a threat to it even in large numbers. All of this just made Joshua's group more excited to see what they were up against. Joshua and Tank were excited to face a tough opponent that could actually give them a challenge outside of the boss level beast inside of dungeons. On the other hand Lilly was excited because of the fact she would be getting a new partner to rely on soon enough.
As they made their way deeper into the area things started to slowly change around them. Outside of the large amounts of centipedes that were fleeing the area there was a great change in the foliage and plant life. All of the trees started to look like they were on the verge of dying or already dead. Another thing Joshua noticed was the large amount of webbing that started to appear at the top of the trees that made it hard for sun light to get through. There was also several places where Joshua could see large scorched areas on both the trees and the ground alike which was surprising since nothing else they had seen in the forest up to this point showed any signs of being able to use fire. It could be another group that had come through before them, but it seemed like far too many areas of damage for a group to do it. Not to mention the fact that with the changes to plant life it would have healed back by now if that were the case but something was damaging the entire area.
When Joshua sent out an aura pulse he finally got a sense of what was causing all of the problems and where it was, but for some reason when his pulse passed over the creature all he got back was a vague image as if it was able to slightly hide itself even from his aura sight. It was a first for him, but he knew it was something that was likely to happen in the future. "Whatever it is it's hiding its presence fairly well up ahead, but even so it comes off as rather strong." Joshua said getting nod from his two partners.
"I can't sense it at all even with my aura." Tank replied. "It seems to be a master at stealth so we better be careful going forward." Joshua nodded and took the lead while letting his aura shroud come to life and preparing for battle. He didn't know exactly how strong this creature was, but he knew it was dangerous and he wasn't going to leave it any openings to kill him. When they reached the area where Joshua had sensed the presence they came into an enormous clearing filled with several rotting trees that had been torn out of the ground and laid at the fringe of the surroundings. It gave the place a wide open space. The ground was completely scorched of all grass and above them there was so much webbing that the sun was completely blocked out giving the area a dark an ominous feel to it.
"Be prepared its watching us." Joshua said getting a simple nod in return from Tank while Lilly had already buffed the group with Flutters ability. Whatever was watching them seemed to have noticed this fact and decided to attack before they could prepare anymore. A large searing black fog spread down from above them and completely covered Tank who had grown back to his full-size in preparation to take on whatever was coming for them. The smoke hindered Joshua's vision so he used his aura sight and he saw a large figure about to pierce him through the head with what looked like an enormous spike from his position. He used his scale blade to block the blow, but he was still sent sliding backwards from the force of the impact.
A fireball came crashing through the smoke towards the top of Tanks shell clearly aiming to take out Lilly, but a few bubbles created by Tank intercepted the attack causing a large explosion and a flash of light. Before the creature could continue its onslaught Joshua sent out an aura blast with a wave of his blade and the force of the attack dissipated the smoke in the area. Now that they could see they were finally able to make out what had attacked them. It wasn't exactly a pretty sight by any stretch of the imagination.
Standing in front of them at nearly the same size as Tank was a large black spider with red markings all over its body. The patterns immediately reminded Joshua of a black widow, but he could tell that poison wasn't the only thing this spider had going for it based off of its attack. A heat seemed to be constantly being generated from its body and everywhere it stepped the ground in its immediate surroundings would be scorched badly. The only thing that didn't seem to be effected was its webs. Its mouth let out clouds of black smoke while its large fangs also seemed to be dripping with some sort of bright red venom that melted the ground wherever it dripped down. It's frame was fairly sleek which made it smaller than Tank even if it was as tall, but that was mostly due to its long legs that seemed as sharp as spears, but even more powerful based on the blow Joshua had just blocked.
When Joshua observed its name it was called a Variant Black Widow with the term child next to it. The fact that it was this enormous and strong when it was considered a child was a frightening prospect. It had four stars next to its name and was already level thirty- four which meant it was two levels higher than Tank currently was. Before Joshua could examine it any more it suddenly disappeared from the spot in a blur of movement that Joshua couldn't follow with his eyes. It was as if it was pulled up into the air at frightening speed. When he looked up it was crawling along the web above them and charging directly for Lilly. It was extremely smart going for the support first and ignoring both Tank and Joshua, but it was gravely underestimating Lilly.
Lilly had set up several bubble traps to protect herself and had Mr. Hoppy leap with her off of Tanks back causing the large spiders attack to glance off of his shell even though the force caused Tank to bend down a bit. All of the bubbles exploded causing the spider to shriek in pain before it jumped back up to its silk in a frightening speed, but Joshua wasn't going to let it control the pace of the fight. Joshua sent an energy blast and cut the portion of the webbing down that the spider was trying to leap towards. This caused it to fall helplessly back down towards the ground and Tank took this opportunity to send a torrent of water towards the spider before it could react. The blast sent it tumbling over and crashing into a few knocked over trees, but the power of Tanks attack was weakened do to the surroundings. The heat the spider was giving off drained the moisture from the air.
Joshua didn't let up and charged over himself with Tank following close behind. As it tried to get up Joshua slashed at one of its legs knocking it back off balance as Tank crashed into the spider and pend it beneath him. The spider knew it was trapped so it turned towards Joshua with a glare and opened its mouth wide before sending an extremely heated wave of scalding black smoke towards him. Joshua immediately used his shield to block most of the damage, but the heat was still annoying enough and draining on his shroud. Lilly sent a torrent of water towards the attack while Tank created a few bubbles to finally damage the beast enough to knock it out for a moment.
Joshua watched as Lilly rushed over an immediately started merging her aura with the large spider before it could wake up and start fighting back again. Joshua smiled at the fact things seemed to have gone well, but frowned when he remembered Lilly saying something about the centipedes being disturbing. 'Well I guess spiders aren't as scary as centipedes.' He thought as he walked over to watch the aura show the strange girl was putting on.