138 Chapter 84: Man Have these Zombies Changed or What?
Joshua waited on top of the roof for a moment as he watched the alley beneath him. The building he was standing on was three stories high yet the haze still towered well over the building. It was clear that this was a bigger town then the one he had taken down at the end of the first phase, but not by much. Even so If Cinder or Tank had grown to their full size in the middle of a street then they would have to tear through some buildings in the process. At her biggest Cinder was about four stories tall although her frame was on the thinner side. Either way she would be as tall as the tallest building in the entire town. It was even worse when it came to Tank. He was over four stories at this point and would soon reach five. His bulky frame would eclipse any building in the area.
That being the case Joshua knew that they weren't going to be able to rely on the two's larger forms for combat if they didn't want to draw to much attention on to themselves. Maybe when it came time to take on the haze boss creature they could grow to full size and go all out, but until then Cinder was going to stay the size where she was just large enough to carry Lilly around and Tank was going to stay in the soul realm until they came across a tough fight.
After a few minutes of waiting and watching all of the creatures start to congregate beneath them where the noise had come from, Joshua observed them to see if any special creatures had come along. Sadly the only creatures that came along were the regular abominations and a few male zombies that seemed lost now that they hadn't found anything. Joshua looked towards Cinder and signaled her to go ahead and take the crowd out with her flames. A torrent of fire spewed from her mouth and lit all of the creatures below up in bright flames. Of course the fire wasn't made to hot so that it wouldn't kill them right off the back. Instead the creatures shrieked in pain and wailed as loudly as possible. The noise would attract even more of them and that's exactly what Joshua wanted.
Joshua signaled Cinder to stop before leaping to another building with her following behind him while carrying Lilly. Now that they had a distraction they would have to move around the outskirts of town before going further inside from another direction. They'd have to deal with less mob creatures now which was a good thing and when it came time to take on a boss level haze creature it would have far less reinforcements. So the boss would either have to create more of its subordinates and drain from the strength of the haze or try to take them on by itself. Either situation was a plus in Joshua's eyes.
It didn't take long for Joshua to find a nice area to enter from to head deeper into town. The place was far more deserted than the front side of town with most of the creatures still being stuck inside the buildings searching around. Any creatures that had been out on the street were heading in the direction of the screams which was all a good sign. They landed on the roof of a two story building and quickly made their way down without making any noise on their landing. Joshua made sure to stay as far away from the buildings and windows as possible since he knew that's where any surprise attacks would come from. Even if their presence was hidden he didn't want to take any chances of some special zombie being able to see through it and come lunging at them unexpectedly.
They made sure to keep up there mapping of their area as they moved further into town, but Joshua avoided using his aura pulse at all times. In the forest or dungeon like areas he was completely fine using his aura pulse to map out the area for two reasons. The first was the fact that it would be incredibly hard for the creatures to pinpoint his location since the pulse bounced off the tress and walls of those places confusing anyone looking for him. That wouldn't be the same in a town like this as long as he was out in the street. The buildings were to spread out to ricochet off of constantly and any creatures in the street would automatically no where he was from the pulse if they were close enough.
The second reason was even more important. The fact was that beast thrived off of aura and mana just like humans. So it was easily possible for his aura pulse to be misconstrued as an aura from another beast in the area. Of course some more territorial animals may consider that a challenge, but for the most part they weren't going to come rushing towards Joshua as if he's a fat juicy meal like these haze creatures and zombies would. The haze creatures didn't use aura or mana to strengthen themselves so if they felt a pulse of aura come through the area they would immediately know it didn't come from one of them. Considering that all beast knew not to go wondering off into the haze that would make it obvious that a human had entered their territory and oh boy did they love to take a bite out of humans.
That's why Joshua slowly and carefully made his way through the area with his eyes keeping track of everything he could. The haze still hampered their vision slightly, but it wasn't too thick at this point to where he couldn't see the buildings and cars around him. That might change in the future, but he had a plan just in case that did happen. One thing Joshua and Lilly both took notice of as they moved further into the town was some signs of unusual damage starting to pop up from place to place. At first it was little things like cars that were crushed by a heavy weight or a torn out light pole.
This immediately put them both on edge. Lilly was on the edge because the damage seemed as if something casually did it as they were passing through since nothing else seemed torn up in the area outside of those few wrecked cars, but Joshua was uneasy for something else. Joshua knew that these haze creatures usually caused a lot of damage as they moved around with their clawed hands and feet, but for the most part that damage was relegated to scratches on the pavement and buildings or broken windows. The damage they were seeing came from something much larger that had to have been at least as big as the buildings themselves or if not even bigger.
For a while Joshua thought it could have been some of the zombies with powers using them to cause havoc, but he couldn't see why they'd go around destroying random cars. That thought completely left his mind though when they turned a corner and met a sight that confirmed his first thought. A building on a corner of the streets was completely torn into with three large claw marks. These gashes started from the top of the building and went all the way down to the street below and tore through some of the concrete. The sight stood out even in all the wreckage they saw throughout the town. You could see bits of furniture and piping on the inside of the buildings hanging out as the claw marks ripped through them. The entire thing looked like it could collapse at any moment if you put too much stress on it.
'Um, Joshua what on earth do you think could have done that? Was it the boss monster?' Lilly asked looking over the scene. It looked the type of destructive force the Ant Queen could have caused if it was let out to roam a town.
'I wish that were the case, but I don't think so. From my experience the boss level haze creatures often tower over buildings in small towns like this. If it were going to attack a building there would be nothing left of it.' Joshua explained.
'If that's the case then what did this?'
'Unfortunately it was probably a sub-boss level haze creature that did this. They'd be about the right size to tear up a building in this way. Maybe a little smaller than Cinder, but not by much. That of course means will have to deal with it before we can even try taking on the boss. Don't want it coming to its aid in the end.' Joshua said while making sure to hold in his sigh. He might be able to talk through the party chat silently, but if he started sighing he might draw the attention of any creatures nearby. Who knew how heightened their senses had become after leveling up a bit.
'So we're going to hunt it down first right?' Lily asked.
'Or it's going to hunt us down. Either way we need to kill it before we go to the center of town and take on the boss.' Joshua responded when he heard a sound coming from further down the street and turned his attention to it. What came stumbling into view surprised him. It was a zombie but it wasn't like most of the others he had seen up to this point. This zombie had bulging muscles that had grown to grotesque proportions along with deep purple veins that spread all over its skin. Its eyes were still glowing a bright purple and its lips were shriveling in as its large sharp teeth started to take center stage on its face. The creature was terrifying looking and the only way you could tell its previous gender as a human was the slightly enlarged chest area in comparison to the other zombies. It had no hair, its skin was pale, and it let out guttural sounds like a dying monster.
Looking it over Joshua was sure that this was a female that had died during the first phase so he had to be careful of its special abilities. At the moment it hadn't found their location yet as it kept stumbling down the street looking completely clueless. Joshua took the chance to observe it for a moment to see if he could find anything else about it. When he observed it he saw that it had three stars next to its level and was considered a level thirty six creature. So he knew its stats would be far higher than the regular zombies and haze creatures that they had come across up to that point. Luckily for him it was still incredibly fragile in comparison to other enemies that had heavy armor or hard skin.
One thing he did notice from his observation was the fact that he could actually tell what kind of ability this creature had. In this case the zombie had a screech like ability that could disrupt its enemies in a fight. It wasn't an extremely powerful ability by any means, but it was definitely one that could cause a lot of problems in their current situation. If this zombie got off its screech then it could easily attract the attention of several more in the area and since there might be more special zombies around he didn't want to risk that.
So Joshua pulled out his short sword and blinked right behind the creature without making a sound before cleaving clean through its neck. He could see the creature was trying to react the moment his sword touched its skin, but the blow was too fast for it to be able to react in time. Its body fell over and thumped against the ground leaking out purple fluid which he imagined was probably its blood. Joshua could feel a small quantity of experience fill him and he was a little disappointed at the amount. Just about all the haze creatures outside of the sub-boss and boss class ones gave very little experience in comparison to beast.
Just when Joshua thought he was done and they should continue on to try to hunt down the sub-boss the annoying zombie started to bulge up even more and Joshua's instincts told him to get out of the way. So he leaped back towards Cinder and Lilly as the body exploded sending bits and pieces all over the place. Joshua cursed in his mind at the loud sound it made before growing tenses when he heard a deranged growling coming from behind them.