243 Chapter 189: Finding a Place to Rest Shouldn’t be this Hard
It didn't come as a surprise to Joshua or the rest of the group that the next few encounters with creatures in the canyon all consisted of facing swarms of the bat creatures that seemed to be out hunting for the night. They even came across a much larger swarm that had nearly two hundred of the things along with a dozen of the larger bats mixed in. It became clear to the group that since it was starting to get late more and more of the bats were coming out for dinner.
When they ran into the larger hoard they stuck to a similar tactic, but Joshua had to use more than just his aura shroud to hold up his position. He ended up pouring aura out of his body to strengthen it even more which gave him enough strength to hold the line as the others bombarded the bats with spells, arrows, and bullets. The ones that broke through were blocked off by Jayce as all of the melee fighters went in for the kill. Now that there were so many of them Joshua was forced to take up more of a defensive position to hold off nine of the larger bats instead of taking any of them out himself. The only reason he was able to keep up was the fact that his aura amplified state heightened everything about him and allowed him to react fast enough to block each of the creatures. Even so he had no time to retaliate so he had to wait for the rest of the group to take them down.
By the end of the battle the entire group was quite tired and they stopped to take a break before rushing into anymore creatures that could tire them out even more. Lilly was able to tame a few more bats with each fight they went through and with that fight in particular she was actually able to train a few of the larger bats thanks to Madalyn's poisons. The fight had dragged on for so long that five out of the dozen larger bats had actually collapsed from her poison well before they had finished off the rest of them. It was starting to get to the point where Lilly would have her own little air force of bats and by the time they got out of the canyon she might actually have a swarm of her own to defend the town.
After the quick break they pushed forward some more knowing full well it was getting late and it was highly likely more nocturnal creatures were going to start coming out for dinner the later it got. So the focus was finding a place to hide for the night and rest up to continue for tomorrow. Being out in the open in a place surrounded by swarms of bats and whatever other creatures might show their face soon was not a good idea for their large group. So instead they started searching for a cave to hold up in overnight. They wanted to make sure the cave was on the small side so that it wouldn't be filled with a large group of bats along with a bunch of their poop all over the ground. That wouldn't be a pleasant place to get some rest.
With Becca's echolocation ability they were able to walk along the walls and look for a cave without too much trouble. The problem was the fact that they had to move forward slowly since the images didn't show how stable everything ahead of them was and Joshua constantly had to test his footing just in case there wasn't some sort of hole up ahead in the pitch blackness. This meant that their progress was slow and at first they kept coming across large caves where Joshua was certain swarms of the bats probably stayed in during the early day when they rested. Now they were empty, but none of them wanted to have a rude awakening of several bats coming into their resting place first thing in the morning. Besides the place smelled horrible and there was no way anyone could get any kind of sleep there.
So they moved on from cave to cave until they finally came across a smaller cave that looked more than big enough for them to rest in , but too small for a large swarm of those giant bats to use it as a home. Even so they were careful when entering the cave since they knew that the bats weren't the only creatures around. They had to be hunting something to eat in those large groups so there must be other things in the canyon. The only thing everyone was hoping was that whatever creature might call the cave home wasn't something that ate the bats for dinner. If that was the case then they'd be going up against a creature strong enough to take on swarms of bats on its own regularly.
Joshua was of course at the front as they entered the cave, but he didn't have Light using his ability to brighten the area as he went inside. He relied on Becca's echolocation instead since he didn't want to give away their presence right away. The cave was fairly straight forward and had a wide enough opening for Tank to actually walk through at first, but it was clear that it would be a tight fit for him. The other caves they had come across actually had far more room for Tank to maneuver around so that gave them hope that if they did end up facing a creature inside the cave it would at least be much smaller than Tank.
Eventually the cave started to widen into a cleared out area which had signs of some sort of beast living there and Joshua was able to see why rather quickly. At the back of the large room there were two horned beetle like creatures that were glaring in their direction. It was clear to the group that the two creatures relied on their hearing more than their sight so they were able to hear their approach. Joshua analyzed the two creatures and realized they were only two stars even if they were both level seventy-seven. It became clear to him that these beetles were probably on the lower end of the food chain, but even so they could be dangerous in such an enclosed space if given the chance. They were still two and a half story tall beetles after all with a deadly horn on their heads and bulky exoskeletons that would make them hard to crack open.
Before Joshua could think on the matter anymore the two beetles started to rush over to attack the group in what seemed like a crazed frenzy. They must have felt trapped inside the cave with their only exit being blocked off so instead of waiting to get surrounded on all sides they decided to charge in and break through. Joshua rushed forward and allowed his aura shroud to flow around him before clashing with the first beetle that tried to rush past him. He used his latest skill to add extra oomph to his strike and knocked back the first beetle before blocking off the path of the second one.
"Carsen brothers!" Joshua shouted to get everyone's attention. "Take on the other beetle together to keep it busy. We can't let them charge through to the back line." The three brothers nodded and rushed over to attack the other beetle together while Joshua knocked the one he was holding off back with a close range aura blast. Its exoskeleton didn't even so much as crack from the punch which proved these shells were a bit harder than normal. Luckily physical force wasn't the only means of damage they had to use against these creatures. Joshua used the extra space he had created to give him time to use a heroic shout against the creature that was in front of him to make sure it wouldn't just try to rush past him again.
Meanwhile the rest of the group decided to take action and started their assault on the other beetle. They knew that Joshua could hold off the one on his own with no problems, so they focused on the beetle the Carsen brothers were antagonizing. The fact that it was further away also made it easier for the ranged members of the group to get to work. Laura was the first one to attack with a basic fireball spell that exploded on the back of the large beetle. It came as no surprise to anyone when the flames burnt through a large portion of the exoskeleton since it was clear it was more built for blocking off physical attacks instead of magic. The flames started eating into the beetle and causing it pain as it rampaged around.
Before it could start causing trouble Isabella froze its legs to the ground while Amber put up pillars around it to block its movements even more. That's when both Laura and Julia bombarded the creature with fireballs. The barrage eventually put it out of its misery and the group turned their attention to the one that Joshua was up against. Joshua didn't want to waste any energy in his fight so he just focused on dodging around its attacks while occasionally knocking it back once it got to close to the rest of the group. He was surprised when the beetle seemed to stop moving for a moment as it turned to look at its fallen mate. The creature seemed to go into an enraged state as its body glowed red and it let out a loud screech.
The enraged beetle turned back to Joshua as its horn started to vibrate menacingly. The sound being created started causing cracks along the walls and Joshua instantly knew what the beetle was up to. He couldn't allow it to collapse the cave in its crazed suicide attempt to take them all down with it, so he concentrated a lot of energy into his scale blade as Henry seemed to catch on and layered his blade with some sort of wind buff that improved its sharpness even more. Joshua then charged forward and sliced off its horn before it could cause anymore havoc. The beetle seemed shocked by the fact that its horn could be broken so easily, but its anger didn't fade as it charged at Joshua again.
Sadly without its horn it wasn't nearly as big of a threat anymore even if it was in an enraged state that gave it more strength. In fact it made it easier to take down since it was so single-mindedly chasing Joshua and not paying attention to anyone else. This allowed the mages to bombard it with spells and take the creature down once again. Cinder went in for the kill in the end when the creature continued to thrash around. She pierced its neck area with her sharp legs and ripped its head off to finally get the thing to stop moving. Joshua was certain at that point that Lilly didn't have any plans to tame any of the beetles since she had to have been the one to let Cinder go on the attack in the end.
"Well those things weren't so tough." Amy said with a smile as she walked over to the beetle with a bored expression. Most of the close range fighters had stayed back during the fighting since the place was a bit small for them to move around in with the giant beetles and they didn't want to get caught in any spells. Letting the mages handle the simple battle from a distance was definitely the better way to do things this time around.
"Yeah these creatures are clearly on the low end of the food chain around here." Madalyn said out loud now that they didn't have to worry about being quiet. They were in an enclosed space that they could guard now so sneaking around was no longer necessary.
"Amber do you think you can use some magic to check the place out and make sure it's safe to stay in? Don't want the cave collapsing on us while we're sleeping." Joshua asked getting an excited nod from Amber in return. She used a spell to feel out the structure of the cave and make sure the damage caused by the beetle's suicide attempt wasn't dangerous. Luckily it seemed that Joshua had taken its horn out before it could do any real damage. She still used a few spells to strengthen the cave a bit and fill in the cracks, but it seemed like the group had finally found a place to rest for the night.