247 Chapter 193: Dangers of the Day down in the Canyon
The creature that the entire group had finally noticed sneaking up on the unsuspecting ram was actually something none of them were expecting running across, especially one of such size. It was an enormous snake that was so long that half of its body was out of view at the moment and still coming out of a large cave at the other side of the base of the canyon. But its body was at least fifteen feet in diameter and knowing how snakes went about eating their prey they all knew that it would have no trouble swallowing the ram whole. It slithered up towards the clueless ram before striking with unbelievable speed for a creature of its size. It moved so fast that Joshua wasn't sure that Cinder would have been able to dodge the strike if put up against it. He himself would have to block it just to make sure he wasn't swallowed whole. He was certain he didn't want to try to figure out a way to cut himself out of the overgrown snake.
'Well damn that thing is dangerous.' Adrian said with frown as the snake gulped the ram down. Usually you would be able to see a snakes body swell up after eating something so big, but because of its size it didn't show any signs of being bloated. In fact the large creature seemed to savor its meal a bit as it licked its mouth with its twitching tongue for a moment before looking in the group's direction. They all could tell that the snake had noticed them, but they were still fairly high up on the cliff face of the canyon so they didn't have to worry about it going after them. The creature continued to stare at them for a bit as the rest of its large body kept coming out of a cave just big enough for it to snake its way in to. It didn't seem to care much about their appearance since it considered them small and unappealing to eat apparently as it soon looked away from their direction.
Joshua sighed in relief when he noticed that the snake didn't plan on going after them because he was certain it would be a fairly difficult creature to try to take down even in their large group. The snake was large enough and long enough to wrap around Tank in his full size several times and looking at the scales along its body it would be fairly tough to break through its defenses quickly.
When Joshua observed the large creatures as it continued to bath in the sun for a few minutes while digesting its food he noticed that it was by far the highest level beast they had come across in the canyon. It had a level of seventy-nine which would pretty much put it at the top of the food chain down in the canyon. It also had four stars next to its name and that meant it was nearing its full potential for its level. Joshua didn't know what type of skills the snake might have up its sleeve since it didn't have to use any when hunting for its meal, but he was fairly certain that a creature with such high potential and level had some special abilities or powerful attributes.
'Well do you want to try to tame this thing? Seems like a lot of trouble.' Joshua asked while looking over towards Lilly. The snake wasn't something that was just going to let her walk up and tame it like the rams had done. If they did go after it then they would have a fight on their hands in a similar way to when they first met Cinder. The only other person in the groups that could be interested in taming the snake was Madalyn, but she wasn't high enough level at this point to get her beast partner and she didn't seem all that interested in the creature in the first place. It was as if she was looking down on it more than anything else.
'No, taming this creature wouldn't be worth it. It is powerful for now, but it doesn't have much potential to get any stronger. Even the rams have more potential to grow than this snake.' Lilly responded through Natalie's mental link with what sounded like a disappointed tone. It was clear that she wanted to tame such a powerful creature, but after having watched it to gauge its value for a few minutes she knew it wasn't worth the trouble. Joshua nodded before turning back to look at the large snake as its full length finally came into view proving it would be a huge prey to try to take down. The creature seemed like a snake that relied on constriction methods of assault based off of how thick its body was. It could probably crack Tank's shell if given enough time to squeeze him until it broke.
The creature only seemed to linger in the spot for only a few more minutes before heading back inside the cave it had come out of. The sight was a bit disturbing considering they'd have to go into similar caves to hold up for the night and they might get unlucky and come across a snake in one of the caves they try to settle in. That would be a fight that could attract a lot of attention to the area, especially if the bats are out and about causing trouble as well. When the snake squeezed its way back into the cave everyone seemed to relax a bit now that the big threat was out of sight and clearly leaving. Of course they looked around to make sure there weren't any more caves nearby that could be a place where another snake could surprise them from, but for the moment they were perfectly safe.
'Why do you think the creature has so little potential?' Amy asked now that she didn't feel like she was stepping on egg shells anymore.
'If I had to guess it's probably because it is such a powerful creature in the first place yet it spends all of its time hunting rams and other basically defenseless creatures instead of challenging other powerful creatures.' Henry answered. His logic actually made sense as it lined up with how humans grew stronger and filled their potential as well. If a person were to only level by facing weak creatures all the time below not only their level but also their strength then they'd end up stagnating when it came to filling out their potential. This snake had reached four stars over several years most likely just based off of its size, yet it is still extremely weak in comparison to other creatures that have lived as long as it had. Then there was the fact that it didn't seem to have any signs of heightened intelligence like Tank or Cinder, which most beast with high potential always have.
'Henry's probably right. As long as it doesn't challenge itself and feeds off of these weak rams instead of fighting the stronger beast that probably are further along in the canyon then it will never truly grow in strength. Its hit a wall I guess you could say.' Joshua said before leading the group away from the area carefully. They still needed to cover as much ground as they could while it was still light outside. Once the light started to fade down in the canyon some of the more dangerous creatures would come out to play and they didn't want to be in such a big open area when that happened.
'Do you think the snake was the creature that was eating the bats and leaving the dried out bodies behind Boss?' Jayce asked getting Joshua to twitch a little at the title he had been given by his biggest fan. If they weren't in such a serious situation he was certain that a lot of the members of the group would be busy laughing right about now.
'I doubt it. The snake swallowed the ram whole and didn't leave anything behind let alone and entire dried out body. Plus it seemed to be satisfied with just one ram instead of a pile of bats. I highly doubt it would come out and take on a hoard of bats on its own by the way it seems to operate during the day to look for food.' Joshua explained getting nods from everyone.
'Whatever creature took care of the bats had to have been operating at night and also has to have a penchant for sucking its victim's insides out instead of actually eating their body.' Julia said reminding everyone what they had figured out from before. 'I highly doubt a snake fits the bill.' After they got out of the larger area and started getting closed in by the canyon once more as it seemed to squeeze into a tighter fit they were able to make good progress for the rest of the day. They did come across some more groups of goats which Lilly tamed right away and they did see another snake near a cave entrance sunbathing while it could. It didn't pay them any mind and it was actually weaker than the previous snake.
One thing Joshua did notice was the differences in the caves that they had come across while moving through the canyon. Now that he had some lighting Joshua was able to see the clear difference between a cave that was home to either bats, beetles, or snakes. The bat caves were by far the largest since they had to hold so many of the creatures and the entrances to these caves were wider than the others so several of the bats could come out at a time. They also had a far fouler stench to them so it was hard to miss them and they never accidentally checked one out by mistake.
When it came to the beetle caves they were the smallest caves of the bunch and had just a big enough entrance space for two of the large beetles to walk through if need be. It didn't mean the interior was always small since Joshua had used his aura pulse to check a few of the caves and saw that some of the caves had large enough interiors to hold several of the beetles, but even so the size was much smaller than the bat caves. They would use a smaller beetle cave whenever they planned to stop and rest for the night.
The snake caves however were like long tunnels that went deep into the walls of the canyon to the point where Joshua's aura pulse wasn't actually able to reach all the way to the base of the cave. That let him know just how long these snakes probably were since the tunnel was probably relative to the total length of the snakes body from what he had seen earlier. Even if he thought the group had a pretty good chance of taking a snake down without too much danger there was no way he was going to do so by going into the long tunnel and trapping them all directly in the path of the creature.
After a while the light started to fade from the base of the canyon and the group could tell they were running out of time to push forward. It wouldn't be too long after the light had faded that the bats would start to come out to prepare to hunt for the night. It was around four in the evening when the light faded so it did feel like a bit of a waste of time to stop moving forward right away. It was still dimly lit so the group decided to push forward until it was completely dark. There were so many caves around at this point that they weren't worried about being able to find the perfect one to rest in.
Since there still was some light Natalie actually used the mental link with Aito to get his enhanced vision that helped everyone see well as they moved forward. She'd switch over to Becca when it got pitch black and there was no way else for them to see in the dark. After a couple hours of walking without coming across anymore creatures the group could hear the screeching coming from the bats in the cave proving that they were waking up and preparing for the never ending battle with the beetles for the night. Joshua took that as a sign to find the next small cave to rest up for the night.