245 Chapter 191: Day and Night in the Canyon are so differen
The night went by without any real issues as everyone was able to get a decent amount of sleep. The group right away got too packing their stuff back up such as their tents and bedrolls before meeting by the campfire geared up and ready to go. Joshua was one of the members that was already awake since he had the last shift and was currently busy helping Aito and Abigail with breakfast for the group so they'd all have a nice boost before going out and continuing their exploration. Most of the group seemed well rested even though it was so early in the morning since they got to sleep relatively early in the night. Even those that had taken shifts to keep watch were well rested since most explorers were used to having to stay up for long stretches in dungeons that didn't allow you to get any rest.
Lilly made sure to feed all of her pets some food that she had been stocking up while they ate breakfast before letting her pets go back into her soul realm. She even fed the bats that she currently had with her since she'd have to take good care of them until she could take them to the stables that automatically fed them. March, April, and May helped her out with feeding the creatures since they seemed to enjoy being around beast that were docile. Joshua assumed the three of them would be the type to go after a beast partner as soon as possible with the way they seemed to enjoy hanging out with Lilly and her pets.
The rest of the group enjoyed having a meal while discussing what to expect once they headed out. In the end they decided to stick with a similar formation with only a few tweaks to it. Although it was dark now that would change soon, and it wasn't nearly as pitch black in the bottom of the canyon as it had been the previous night. It was still hard to see, but that would change as the light from the sun above would start to filter down into the canyon as it changed positions. They knew that would be the time when they made the most progress so they would switch formations when that time came.
The change wouldn't be all that much, but it would put Abigail up with the rest of the Tanks to help create a bigger push up front. Instead they would rely on Lilly's pets to be the main protection for the back line. Tank could take on any big creatures that got past the front line and Cinder was a devastating force on her own as well. This would allow Abigail to help the front line with her skill to stun multiple enemies with a single swing of her sword. This would make fights go much faster since they were no longer fighting huge swarms of bats. The only reason they didn't use this strategy when it was dark was because they didn't want some nocturnal creature to sneak up on the back line and cause havoc without having a tank there to defend the healers and mages.
With a plan set up the group headed out with confidence in how they were going to approach the day. The first thing they noticed when they were outside and looking around was the fact that it was just lit up enough to where they could barely see anything around them. It was like they were looking at shadowy figures when looking at each other, but at least it was better than the complete pitch blackness that they had to deal with the previous night. Even so the vision wasn't good enough for them to rely on and they still didn't plan on using torches or another source of light to be a beacon to all of the creatures that were still active in the canyon. So they stuck with the strategy from before with using Becca and Natalie's abilities together to be able to see where they were going.
After moving out of the cave and exploring the surroundings a bit with Becca's echolocation they were immediately able to tell that the bats were no longer around. They had most likely gone back to their caves to rest up until the next night where they could go out and cause havoc. From the several beetle carcasses that they had to pass by as they went further into the canyon it was clear to the group what the bats had been primarily feasting on for the night. The beetles weren't push overs but against a swarm of bats of that size they stood no chance of surviving the onslaught.
One thing that the group noticed was the fact that it was extremely easy to make progress early in the morning. This wasn't only because of the fact that the bats were no longer around to annoy them, but also because of the fact that it was still dark and it seemed like most other creatures were still in hiding. They probably didn't come out until it was bright enough at the base of the canyon. That's when they'd be sure the bats weren't around to harass them all the time. This situation allowed the group to push forward at a quicker pace even if they had trouble seeing and had to watch their steps carefully. They still had to worry about traps created by sneaky monsters or holes that could end up getting them trapped in beneath the ground and some unknown cave system. Both ideas made them stay cautious even as they kept pushing forward.
There was one thing that the group did run into that caught them all by surprise. Along the way they had come across some dead bats that had probably died in the fight against the several corpses of beetles that were stranded around the place. This didn't surprise the group since the beetles were strong enough to fight back to some extent and kill a few of the smaller bats if given a chance. What did surprise everyone was the fact that set aside near one of the walls of the canyon they came across a pile of bat carcasses that were piled fairly high. The difference between these dead bats and the rest was the fact that the carcasses were drained completely of blood and seemed to be shriveled up to the point where they were nothing more than husk. Amongst the pile there were even some of the larger bats mixed in showing whatever had done this was powerful enough to take on a swarm just to enjoy a meal for the night.
'What do you think did this?' Laura asked through the mental link they all shared with Natalie as she examined the corpses. 'It couldn't have been weak if it was able to take down this many corpses.'
'Whatever it was definitely wasn't weak. The fact that we haven't seen its corpse along with the rest of these bats and beetles tells me that it survived the fight.' Natalie said getting everyone to be on edge.
'You are probably right, but whatever it is, it seems to enjoy feasting on the bats at night so I don't think we have to worry about taking it on right now.' Joshua said before spreading his senses around just to make sure there wasn't anything around them that was hiding and ready to take them out. It was a good thing that they stopped early last night to get some rest because he didn't want to take on such a powerful creature in an exhausted state.
'I think I know what could have done this.' Cinder said through her aura getting everyone's attention. 'Tank did say that he felt a spider's presence around outside of my own after all. It doesn't seem to be the type that likes to web up its prey before eating them, but it does drain its food of blood and other juices from the body.' From the look that Cinder was giving they could see that the giant spider probably would have liked to eat one of the bats in a similar fashion.
'That's probably it then. We need to be careful of any surprise tactics going forward from such a creature. Especially at night since it seems to have figured out a way to snatch bats out of the air without even having to web them beforehand. That means it has to be terribly fast moving.' Joshua said with a sigh before the group got on the move again. After a while the place started to lighten up to the point where they could see fairly well even if it was a bit dimly lit. It was good enough to where they didn't have to rely on echolocation anymore to see.
With the sun coming out the canyon seemed to take on a different light as well. The first thing Joshua noticed appearing out of holes in the walls or caves were creatures that looked like even smaller versions of the beetles that had fought against the bats. There were tons of these little beetles everywhere they looked, but they didn't seem aggressive and actually made sure to stay out of their group's way. Instead the little beetles seemed to be focused on eating the dead bodies of the bats and larger beetles that were strayed all over the place. This seemed to be the best time for the beetles to come out and get their meals while they could before heading back into their hiding spaces before darkness fell over the canyon once again.
After seeing the little creatures Joshua had a good idea of how the cycle of life went between what seemed liked the two largest groups in the canyon. The bats and the beetles were at odds with each other from what Joshua could see and they would fight each other over territory at night. The bats of course had the advantage from what it seemed at first since they fought in large groups instead of groups of two or three like the beetles. Thus it would always seem like the bats would come out the victors the next morning with there being several more corpses of beetles than bats littering the floor of the canyon.
The beetles however would win in another sense. Their young would come out in the morning when all of the fighting had settled and eat the remains all of the dead beast from the battle. Since insects didn't take nearly as long to grow to full size as the bats the two groups would forever be locked in a cycle of battle. The beetles would die a lot more, but would also spawn a lot more offspring and replenish their numbers far too fast for the bats to ever come close to wiping them out. On the other hand since the bats don't lose as many numbers as the beetles in their fights they're able to keep their numbers relatively the same as well. In the end Joshua was just glad that his group decided to search for a resting spot before the clash between the two groups started getting to serious.
By the time they had left the area where most of the bat and beetle carcasses were, the light from above had become strong enough for them to see perfectly fine in the canyon. It seemed like that was the moment when life seemed to wake up in the place as well as different sounds from all sorts of creatures could be heard from up ahead. The little beetles were on the verge of finishing eating their breakfast so it didn't surprise Joshua or anyone else that other groups would soon start to make their way out.
Now that they could all see clearly they could also tell that the canyon actually had some vegetation here and there that ranged from small brushes with leaves on them that he was sure some of the beast down in the canyon used as a food source. He also noticed things such as mushrooms and other types of fungus around that seemed to be forming in abundance on the rocky terrain. Now it was time for them to see what other types of creatures called this canyon their home. It was time to see what kind of creature thrived in this pit during the day time.