140 Chapter 86: The Play Begins in the Center of Town
Joshua leaped down to land near the sub-boss's body before any other little haze creatures made it to the area to observe and see if there was anything on its body to take as a reward for killing it. The body was already starting to disintegrate and fade back into the purple haze in the surroundings but a large portion of its hair was left behind and seemed to shrink down in size a bit. He collected it into his inventory to see if it would be useful to Nathan and Naomi later on.
When the body completely vanished Joshua could feel a surge in strength as he gained a level and he was surprised by the amount of experience he got from the sub-boss. Though when he thought about it a bit he did realize it made sense in the end. The regular haze creatures and zombies didn't give all that much experience for their level so to give some more incentive for clearing out towns the system and planet had to give something to the explorers to make killing these things worthwhile. The large amount of experience from a sub-boss level haze creatures was more than worth it so boss level ones were probably similar.
Joshua leaped back up on to the roof and urged the others to follow him as they made their way away from the area before the swarms worth of other creatures started to come into view. Since they were out of sight none of the zombies and haze creatures from below took notice of them. Instead they were inspecting the wreckage in the surroundings to see if they could find any prey. The only reason Joshua was able to see it so well was because of the fact that the haze had thinned considerably.
Throughout the entire fight Joshua constantly injured the sub-boss and this was the side effect of that. Its constant use of the haze in the area had thinned out the haze drastically and Joshua was sure the boss creature at the center of town could sense this if it wanted. It was probably too haughty to come and check things out if he went by how the last haze boss he had come across had acted. It literally didn't even react to their presence in its town until they blew up a pile of poison grenades in its face. He got the feeling that this boss was the same, and preferred to toy with its prey than be cautious like some beast he had come across. It seemed to be an ingrained feature in all of the intelligent haze creatures and it was disconcerting when you thought about it. He did not look forward to taking on the ones in cities that would probably love tearing large groups of humans apart piece by piece, it would be a horrifying experience.
After giving it a moment for a lot of creatures to gather in the area Joshua lead Lilly and the others away from the scene and toward the other side of the outskirts of town where the haze creatures had moved from. It was time for him to move towards the center of town and he was going to make sure he was as far away from the large mob of haze creatures as possible before he did so. He didn't want to go into the center of town with a mob following right behind him. From this distance it would take a good twenty minutes or so before those creatures could shamble towards him. The only time they were fast was when they locked on to prey and tried to lunge towards them, at any other time they moved at a snail's pace. Even the zombies shuffled around slowly unless they had an enemy in their sights, then all hell would break lose.
Now that he had a clear path Joshua started to quickly make his way from roof to roof as they entered the thicker haze. Their vision was getting hindered by it, but they could at least see the buildings in front of them so it wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been. Cinder seemed to be having an easier time as she could use her other senses besides sight to feel out her surroundings better than most. She was already used to moving around inside her smoke so the haze wasn't much of a hindrance for her.
As they moved deeper into town they started to notice a few things out of the ordinary. Unlike the rest of town that looked like it had been taken over by several of the smaller creatures, this portion looked more like the smaller haze creatures and weaker zombies had been forbidden from entering. There wasn't a single one in sight thus letting most of the buildings remain intact for the most part. There were a few odd occurrences where this wasn't the case though since some buildings seemed to have been cut straight in half. They were cut with such precision the buildings hadn't actually collapsed at all. They looked as if a cake had been cut and neither side fell over at all. A perfect cut that not only cut the building, but cut deeply into a large portion of the street as well.
From this Joshua was able to tell that this was most likely the boss haze monsters doing. Unlike with the sub-boss Joshua could tell that this creature was far more powerful and far larger. The sub-boss honestly was kind of small, maybe half the size of one of the two story buildings they had been hopping along. Its only redeeming feature was the strength of its abnormally large clawed hand and its ability to blend in with the haze. Even its strongest point seemed fragile in comparison to the strength this boss had shown with this type of devastation. The last Haze boss he had fought took going full on berserk to cause this level of power yet, from the way only certain area were damaged Joshua could tell this haze boss did this type of damage during a casual passing. Even so, Joshua knew that he was leagues ahead of where he was the last time he took on a haze boss, and Lilly was more than ready to take one on as well.
Now knowing for the most part that the boss was keeping the swarm of haze creatures out of the center of town Joshua only had to worry about the boss itself and probably a few minions that it might keep around to protect the area. He highly doubted there was another haze sub-boss in the town since it was so small and that usually limited the amount of creatures it could support. It was around the same size as the town he had previously taken on so he knew he didn't need to worry about more large creatures coming to the aid of the boss. The only thing he had to worry about were human zombies that had powers hanging around and he planned on taking them out first.
Since nobody seemed to have come to explore this place up to this point Joshua was sure that there weren't going to be all that many abnormally powerful zombies in the area. During the first phase there was a limit to ten people with powers being in the range of such a small town so he knew that there wouldn't be many of the zombies. He highly doubted that ten people came to the town in the first place and he doubted even more that all of the ones that came would have died in the town. Many of them could have been like Madalyn, Laura and Natalie. They would have left the area with a group of survivors. He'd already killed one powered zombie so there was probably a few more at most.
Just as he was thinking along those lines when he started nearing the center of town he could see three figures calmly standing on the street below as if they were guarding the area ahead. Joshua could sense that what was ahead was the source of the haze which meant the boss was up ahead and these three were guarding it. He led Lilly and her pets closer so that he could observe the three zombies. When he did he noticed that all three were female which immediately proved his earlier thoughts that nobody else had come into the town up to this point. He highly doubted any groups searching the area would have been exclusively female since those types of guilds were rare. In the end that meant that they were the first people to enter the town and all of these empowered zombies were from the first phase.
That was good news in Joshua's eyes. It meant that these zombies wouldn't have any gear or weapons on them for the most part and that all their leveling was from just standing around in the haze. They wouldn't be as powerful as they could have been if some extremely powerful explorers had come into the area and had died. After observing them he noticed all of the zombies had three stars by their level and were each level thirty-six like the previous one he had killed. Two of them had elemental properties, with one being control over earth and the other being control over flames though Joshua highly doubted it was anywhere near the league of Laura and probably not even in the same league as Julia for that matter. The last zombie was a bit interesting with a small level of illusion abilities so, Joshua focused on it before the other two.
He let Lilly know that he planned to take these three down before going after the boss since he didn't want to have to deal with them all at the same time. These zombies weren't all that powerful, but he knew having to deal with illusion and different types of elements bombarding them while trying to take on the boss would be a major hindrance, especially if they were interrupted in key moments. So Joshua let his aura shroud cover him this time around so he could make quick work of his opponents. He didn't want them to be able to react much before he killed them and he was definitely going to have to take down the one that could create illusions first.
He took a deep breath before taking his scale blade off his back and took out his pistol ready for his assault. He had Lilly and her pets stay at the ready in case he needed back up, but he knew that the boss creatures was most likely watching their every movement through the haze and he didn't want to give away all of their capabilities for the upcoming fight. For a moment he started to charge a rail bullet and aimed it directly at the head of the illusion using zombie. The moment he fired the shot he heaved his scale blade and through it like a javelin with as much power as needed to send it streaking directly towards the earth using zombie. Then he used aura hardening before blinking towards the flame zombie himself.
The bullet arrived first and blew off the head of the illusion zombie surprising the other two and putting them on the defensive. The earth zombie immediately pulled a pillar of rock from the street in front of it to prevent any sort of projectile from hitting it next, but sadly the scale blade covered in aura was far too powerful and heavy for such a thing to stop it. The blade broke straight through the pillar before smashing straight into the chest of the zombie. The force of the attack went right through it and pinned it to the ground causing cracks to appear all throughout the pavement. Its body couldn't hold up from the force of the blow as it blew apart before it could even scream.
Joshua blinked in front of the last zombie that seemed shocked for a moment before it let out a stream of flames from its mouth that covered him whole, but the aura shroud protected him from far stronger flames before and in its hardened state it felt like nothing more than a blast of hot air in a Texas summer to him. He grabbed the zombie by the throat before smashing it harshly into the ground and stomping its head in. He leaped away before the remains of the three corpses could explode and then walked back over to grab his scale blade. Soon Lilly and her pets jumped over to check on him and he smiled to show he was fine.
They all listened for a moment to see if any of the swarms in the rest of the town were going to head over, but when all they could here was quiet with occasional crackling from the flames caused by the fire the zombie had created from before, they knew it was just them against the boss at this point. If they could put it down then the town would be cleared of the haze and they'd be one more step closer to claiming their first territory.