240 Chapter 186: Making it back to the Canyon and Getting Started
The next morning the group was setting out on horseback in the direction of the canyon. They decided not to teleport directly there since they planned on allowing the part of the group that didn't know the area all that well to get a good sense of it. They also planned to stop at the spirit dungeon along the way so everyone that didn't have the presence fading skill could get it to make the expedition easier. After Joshua had figured out all of the new members abilities and skills he had an idea of how the combat would go during the expedition.
When it came to the tanks of the group it was obvious that Joshua himself would be the main tank of the party since he was the most versatile and could easily keep the attention of the creatures they were going to fight against even with people like Laura doing massive damage from range. The backup main tank would be Jayce because of two reason. The first was the fact that he was a knight and that was the role they were best at in a group, but the second reason was the more important one. It was the fact that his soul beast made it so his shields were stronger and larger which was perfect for dealing with large groups. He'd have the support of the healers to hold on if necessary, but for the most part he'd only have to step in and fill the role as the main tank whenever Joshua needed a break.
The three Carsen brothers would play the role as the off tanks and would each take away a prime target from the hoards they'd be facing in this expedition and hold them off on their own for a while as the group took them down quickly before returning to help Joshua. This would help in reducing the pressure placed on Joshua and also make it easier for him to keep the attention of the rest of their enemies. Abigail on the other hand would be used as a stun machine most of the time with her impressive skill and as a tank when needed against large groups since she could fill both roles.
The close combatants were filled with all sorts, but for the most part Adrian, Amy, and Adam were all going to be the up close fighters that would put on constant pressure and do most of the physical damage for the group outside of Joshua and the tanks. Allen would weave in attacks from just behind them and deal damage at key points with his longer reach from his spear. Laura on the other hand could go in close when she was low on mana, but for the most part she'd be fighting from a distance.
After that you had the two in between members in Becca the short distance archer do to her smaller size and short ranged bow and Marcus the in between fighter that specialized in traps. The two of them could move in close to use their traps and bombs if necessary when the creatures were stunned or not in a position to attack them. They could also move back to attack from a distance alongside the mages when things were hectic. Their main role would be finding traps and other dangerous threats before the group could wander into them.
At the back line you had the mages of the group in Laura, Amber, Isabella, and Julia who would bombard their enemies with different spells from distance, or use their magic to protect the others in a pinch. Laura of course could go in close if needed, but the rest would keep a distance. Alongside them were the two range specialist in Aito and Natalie that could fight from far away and could easily take out key parts of large beast from a distance and become major problems for their enemy.
The four healers in the triplets alongside Monika stayed near the back line and would cast healing magic from afar to keep everyone in top shape. Both Becca and Marcus would hover near them in chaotic moments to help protect them and if things went bad enough then Abigail would be sent to the back to make sure they were well protected. Outside of these obvious positions there were three other people that could fit into different places when needed in Lilly, Henry, and Madalyn.
Lilly would stay in the back and have her pets either help tank in the front, deal damage from the middle, or protect the back line when necessary. Henry would buff the groups that needed it the most depending on the situation since he couldn't buff everyone at all times with such a large group. Lastly Madalyn could move up close to deal quick damage and take out weakened enemies while poisoning the stronger ones. She could also move back and attack from a distance with her throwing knives that could also poison enemies.
That was the best set up for the group that they had decided on before heading out towards the spirit dungeon. They made fast progress since most beast didn't want to get in the way of such a large group in all of the areas they had to pass to get to the spirit dungeon. The dogs didn't like taking on a group of people that was larger than their packs while the horses just ran away seeing so many humans riding horses into their territory. The only creature that was dumb enough to actually attack them early on was the prairie dogs that tried to chase them, but amber used some sort of spell to force them out of the ground and that made them easy targets for the large group that was composed of people several level higher than necessary for that part of the prairie.
When they finally reached the part of the forest that was filled with spirit beast Joshua could see that Amy and Lilly weren't the only ones uncomfortable with the atmosphere as just about everyone that had come to the area for the first time seemed to tense up. The only exception to this was Madalyn who seemed to look around the place a bit too excitedly. He could hear her mumble something about interesting ingredients and decided to ignore the rest. They didn't have to fight any spirit beast while making their way to the dungeon because they were moving through the area so fast on horse that the spirits couldn't gather up in time. Henry and some of the other mages that knew the spell were all using wind magic to create a strong breeze that blew the fog out of the way and allowed the horses to see their footing as they ran through the area.
The entrance to the spirit dungeon was still as eerie as before as they all dismounted their horses before heading in. Joshua had already described the dungeon to them beforehand so the new members had a good idea of how it worked before entering. The dungeon was even more interesting for Joshua than it was the first time around since most of the creatures that the spirit beast had decided to mimic were creatures that he had never seen before and had to learn how to fight for the first time. The dungeon also adjusted itself since their group was larger this time around so they ended up facing more spirit beast with each wave.
Even so everyone in the group was far too strong for the lower leveled dungeon and it showed with how quickly they were able to clear each wave. The pace they went through the dungeon was far faster than when it was just the six of Joshua's original group. There were two things that Joshua did enjoy while going through the spirit dungeon. The first was seeing the new members in action. Watching Laura's flames literally burn some spirit beast to cinders was eye opening at how powerful she was when it came to magic. It was also interesting to see Madalyn's poisons devastate the boss level spirit beast and wear them down so quickly that the rest of the group was able to tear them apart within a few minutes.
The rest of the new members were also able to prove their worth in the short little side trip, but the other thing that Joshua found amusing was the reaction every one of the new members had when seeing Lilly's pets take front stage. They were used to fighting against giant beast and not alongside them, but that quickly changed when they watched Cinder leap onto the back of what looked like a giant spirit formed hog of some sort and tear into its spine with ice covered claws as she froze it in place for the rest of them to take down. With Cinder and Isabella working together to freeze opponents, fights went by a lot faster than any of them were expecting.
They had similar reactions to seeing Tank grow in size and tear into enemies or seeing Light and shadow give them power boost from time to time as Lilly tried to figure out the best people to support while fighting. Of course having Flutter along to boost the entire group made them all figure out just how beneficial it was to have Lilly in the group rather quickly. After they finished the dungeon anyone who didn't have the fade presence skill gained it and that would go a long way into helping the group with what was coming. It would allow tanks to drop aggro fast for switching, help healers to hide their presence when getting targeted by more intelligent beast, and allow damage dealers to drop aggro whenever they did too much damage. In the end it would just make everything go much smoother in the upcoming fights.
After finishing the dungeon they quickly made their way out of the creepy area and through where all the Praying Mantises were located. This allowed everyone to see where Lilly had gotten all of the praying mantises that were helping protect the town. They didn't run into an overgrown praying mantis this time around trying to be the new guardian of the area and Tank's old friend was nowhere in sight so the trip through the area was relatively peaceful. The praying mantises knew not to charge in on such a large group of strong opponents and for the most part they tended to hunt separately instead of in groups so Joshua and the rest didn't have to worry about getting ganged up on by a bunch of praying mantises.
Eventually they made it through the clearing and down to where the entrance to the canyon was where everyone saw the same warning that Joshua and the rest of his group had seen the first time they had come through. It brought a serious look to some of their faces since they figured things had been pretty smooth sailing getting to the place so they weren't sure if they should expect the canyon to be that much more challenging than the previous territories.
"Joshua are you guys sure that this canyon is all that much more dangerous then what we've come across thus far." Isabella said with a small frown since nothing they had come across up to this point showed any sign of the canyon being too powerful. "The warning is here, but there was also a warning inside dungeons that we've been to in the past, but the spike in difficulty was never all that severe."
"I would have thought the same thing as you guys if we hadn't tried to cross the prairie ourselves to the other side without going through all of these areas." Joshua said with a bit of a shiver at the memory.
"Yeah the creatures we ended up seeing on the other side were so powerful that we'd all have died just taking on one let alone hordes of them." Henry said surprising the others.
"So if the system is going to warn us about a stronger challenge up ahead then I'm going to listen to the warning while I'm alive to do it." Joshua said getting nods from everyone. "Now let's get ready to go in. We still have half a day to start exploring and finding ourselves a spot to camp out the night. We want to get as secure a spot as possible in such an unknown place." They all made sure there equipment was set and ready for combat before heading into the canyon to see what was up ahead. It was time for the true test run before the large town raid.