Instead of charging forward like they usually did when they saw a beast they wanted to challenge Joshua decided to go for a different strategy this time around. Of course he wanted to observe the horses and see their capabilities, but he knew that he would need to get a lot closer to do that. He also didn't want to interrupt the fight between the two stallions. He was fairly sure all of the other horses wouldn't be too much of a problem for them to tame as long as they could tame the two stallions, but having them both turn their attention on Joshua's group wasn't a good idea. Instead he would let them finish their fight with one another before getting involved. In the end that would allow them to easily tame one of them while letting the other get damaged enough to make it an effortless fight.
In the end Joshua didn't want to expend too much energy trying to fight the horses to tame them. He wouldn't get any experience out of it so he didn't want to waste time and effort. He'd just let the two horse's tire each other out and come in to get the rewards afterwards. He still had to be weary of the other beast that was likely to roam the plains and he wanted to make sure that he'd be ready to take that one on since that was most likely going to be the beast that they would be killing for experience. He felt bad about taking out dogs and horses to some extent since domesticated dogs were kind of a man's best friend in the end while horses weren't exactly the most dangerous or aggressive animals around. He would just be one step away from hunting down puppies and kittens if he was willing to kill these animals instead of tame them.
Joshua and Lilly slowly approached the herd of horses while crouching down and hiding in the grass. They were able to keep track of where they were going do to Joshua's aura sensing. He wasn't using his aura pulse since that would immediately attract the attention of all of the horses, but he could still get a good sense of where they were just with his basic use of aura. It wasn't as accurate as an aura pulse, but it was more than good enough in his eyes. He also made sure to loop around the herd and approached from where the wind was going against them. He wanted to make sure the horses wouldn't be able to smell them as they approached and that seemed to have been the right decision.
When they got close enough to peak their heads out from above a hill he could tell that the horses were constantly sniffing around to try to check and see if any danger was approaching them. Even though the two stallions were busy fighting each other for dominance the rest of the herd was still remaining alert for anything that could come into the area and harm them. Joshua could already see a couple of pregnant horses that would have a hard time escaping if they were caught by surprise so the herd had to work together to keep them safe.
Joshua observed the nearest horse and saw that its name was simply prairie horse and it had a level of forty-six which didn't surprise him since it seemed to be a younger adult horse. It was most likely one of the weaker ones in the group, but it still had plenty of time to grow stronger. It only had one star by its name proving Joshua's point even further. He then turned his attention to the two stallions and observed one of them. It was level forty eight with three stars by its name proving its strength over the rest of the horses. The other stallion was level forty seven with three stars and Joshua could tell that one level was making a big difference in their fight with each other.
A single level didn't seem like much in the large scheme of things, but when it came to wild animals that single level usually meant a large difference in experience. It was clear to see as the fight between the two stallions started to drag out even more. The older and more experienced horse wasn't just charging forward and trying to ram itself into the other one. Before they collided it would always turn a bit so that its frame would slam into the other horse in a way that would knock it off track just a little bit and give it a chance to kick the younger horse in the side as they passed each other. The extra damage was building up and it was plain to see as the younger horse was gathering far more bruises than the other.
Experience wasn't the only difference either which was plain to tell. Apparently these horses seemed to slowly grow in size as they aged since the more experienced one seemed to have a good hundred or so pounds added on to its frame in comparison to the other one and that extra weight was coming in handy at the moment. Each time they slammed into each other it would send its opponent sliding back just a little bit more and its kicks had far more power behind it. It didn't take much longer for the winner of the fight to be decided as the younger stallion finally gave in and collapsed from the struggle.
'How could they be so cruel to one another?!' Lilly nearly screamed through the party chat. She knew that she couldn't say that out loud since they were so close to the horses, but Joshua could see how angry she was at the situation.
'The strongest survive in the wild. It was like this before the change and even more so now. The herd won't follow a stallion that can't protect them in times of danger and the stallion can't protect a herd if it is too weak. That's why they have to fight over both territory and the right to be leader of the herd.' Joshua said back as he watched all of the horses move a little ways away from the collapsed horse, but they continued to graze while the winning stallion strutted itself around proudly.
'Then what happens to the loser, if there are creatures out here that can scare an entire herd then how does it have a chance on its own?' Lilly asked. She had learned a lot about animals over the years, but with all the changes she was surprised that animals that were often seen as prey didn't work together in times like these. It didn't feel right to her for them to fight each other like this.
'In all likelihood the younger stallions gain experience from having to survive against the monsters that are trying to hunt them in the first place. Otherwise why would all the other horses follow the winning stallion?" Joshua said trying to think of the best way to explain things. 'Think of it this way, the older and more experienced stallions get to be leaders of the herds because they've spent years surviving on their own against the beast that threaten the herds. They've probably encountered them several times and survived thus getting stronger for it. The younger stallions have to go through the same process as well until they are strong enough to challenge the older stallions for the herd. The loser has to live on its own to get stronger once again while the winner gets the position of leader and is deemed strong enough to protect the herd.'
'I guess that makes sense, though I doubt the stallion can protect the entire herd against some creatures we've seen so far.' Lilly said before she started to once again crouch and make her way through the grass towards the downed horse. Joshua followed behind her while making sure to keep an eye on the rest of the horses. He didn't want to make his presence known just yet since that could frighten the herd off if he didn't capture the other stallion first.
When Lilly got to the downed horse it looked at her with surprise as she started to meld her aura with it. After a while the horse seemed to calm down and allow Lilly to pet it gently. It was clearly still in pain from all the injuries, so Lilly took out her rabbits to help heal it quickly before the system forced it into her soul realm. After a quick heal the horse disappeared into her soul realm and Lilly walked over to Joshua with a big smile on her face.
'So I'm guessing they have some decent potential based off of the way you're smiling right now?' Joshua asked getting a simple nod in response. 'That's good now we just have to get to the other stallion and challenge it before it gets too far away.'
'How exactly do you plan to do that? I'm not sure if we can keep the rest of the herd from fleeing while we take on the stallion.' Lilly said with a frown, but Joshua simply smiled as if he had it all figured out.
'Oh we don't have to worry about that. They'll stay to see if their stallion accepts the challenge. Of course if we went in there with a full sized Tank and Cinder then they'd probably all just flee while the stallion tries to hold us off, but if it's just me they'd probably stay and watch. When I'm done you come over and tame the stallion. Make sure to keep space available so that it can stay out with us instead of being forced in your soul realm. That way it can help us convince the others. So put up either Flutter or Jade so that you have some space available. We need one of the rabbits to heal it afterwards to show we mean no harm.'
Lilly nodded in understanding before Joshua followed the herd until it finished settling down and kept an eye on the stallion that had now calmed down and was starting to eat some grass. If Joshua had just blinked in front of it and started fighting then it might flee in fright, so instead he stood up and started taking large strides in the direction of the stallion. All of the other horses immediately took notice of him and looked at him wearily, but the stallion glared at him for coming into its territory. Since all of the horses were bigger than Joshua they weren't instantly afraid of him and stood their ground for the moment.
Joshua didn't stop walking forward until he was directly in front of the stallion and glared right back at it. He didn't take out his scale blade, but he let his aura shroud take form which instantly made the stallion start to smash its front hooves into the ground threateningly. Joshua then took a position waiting for the horse to charge. When it did he instantly used his aura hardening ability to make his vitality and defense as high as possible. The horse didn't seem to care as it tried to smash directly into Joshua, but unlike it had expected things didn't go to plan.
The force of the impact sent Joshua sliding back a few feet with the stallion steadily trying to push him on to the ground, but soon he stopped its momentum and smiled at it. He then gripped the horse around its lower neck before lifting it up into the air showing his strength off to all of the other horses that looked shocked at seeing their leader being toyed with by a creature that was smaller than them. He then slammed the horse into the ground before getting on its back and pinning it beneath him.
The stallion bucked and tried to break free, but Joshua was able to hold it down with his strength and had proved his point to the stallion and the rest of the herd. Finally the poor horse settled down and Joshua waited as Lilly walked over making sure that both Tank and Cinder were in and extremely small form on her shoulders so they wouldn't scare off the herd. Lilly immediately started the taming process with the stallion while letting the rabbits heal it as well. Soon the large horse was back on its feet it allowed Lilly to pet it. The rest of the herd seemed to be surprised by this, but the stallion had clearly ordered them not to flee as they instead started to crowd around Lilly. Slowly she tamed each and every one of the twenty or so horses and they all disappeared into her soul realm. Soon the stable would be full of them.