358 Chapter 33: Wasn“t the Ghost Filled Forest Supposed to be the Creepiest?
The next morning Joshua had gotten up early and headed to James Town to prepare for the big day ahead. There were already several people there that had stayed over through the night to get accustomed to staying in James Town over longer periods of time. It was also a good thing to have people around so that they could keep a look out for explorers in the area that were trying to get a feel for their territory. At the moment Joshua still wasn't allowing outsiders to go through the town. He was waiting until they got to the point where they cleared out all of the areas in the prairie and mountain range behind the town.
Joshua waved at the people that noticed him as he passed by and made his way over to the guild hall of James Town. When he got there he noticed that Henry was already there looking over some of the information that Joshua had sent him last night. Henry seemed interested in the idea of exploring such a mysterious forest. It was just the right level for them to train up their new members while being an entirely new area for the old timers to explore without growing bored of doing the same dungeon over and over.
"Well it's an interesting area for us to explore, but are you sure about it? Everything I've been reading about the location points to something off about the place." Henry said as Joshua came over and set across from him.
"I'm sure. It'll be a good test for not only our new recruits but also ourselves. Plus all of the mages should do well in the terrain." Joshua responded while smiling. "Besides it was either this or a blazing hot dessert."
"Then I guess I'd rather go with this. Besides it'll be a good way to see just how powerful Lilly's new beast companion is. He's been recovering since we saved him from the large town subjugation, but hasn't really been involved in any of our dungeon dives recently." Henry said as he stopped researching the area they were planning to go to and turned his attention towards the door as they saw more people coming in. Over the next thirty minutes everyone in the main group had arrived and were curiously looking towards Joshua and Henry to see what was going on.
"Well it seems like you two don't plan on having us go through the town dungeon a few more times today, otherwise you wouldn't have wanted us all to gather up here so early." Adrian said as he took a seat at a nearby table. "So what's the plan?"
"We figured it was about time for a change of pace. Grinding the town dungeon is good and all to a point, but it gets too predictable over time and some of us may start getting complacent." Joshua said getting approving nods from all of those that understood his point and excited looks from those that just wanted to do something different for a change. "So I decided it was about time for us all to go and explore a new territory and hopefully find and clear the dungeon inside of it."
"Cool what kind of place are we going to this time boss?" Jayce asked.
'"We will be going to a place that's been getting a reputation of late. It's called The Forest without Beast and there seems to be something strange going on there. Since it's a level eighty area it's perfectly in our strike zone for the types of places we need to explore to keep growing stronger." Henry explained getting confused looks from some when he brought up the name of the place, but a few looks of recognition as well."
"You mean the forest that all of the beast in the area just straight up avoid? I've heard of that place but I've never gotten involved with it myself." Victor said with a thoughtful look.
"'I've read all sorts of crazy stories about the place. Naomi and I were just talking about it yesterday." Amy said with her cheerful aura. "Most of the stories that we could read about the place on the web were all horror stories about explorers going in and never coming back."
Joshua chuckled at the way his sister tried to make it seem ominous with a little flare alongside some creepy faces. He noticed that everyone seemed to be joking around with her actions except for one person. "What's wrong Robin? You're not actually afraid are you?" Joshua asked getting everyone to turn their attention towards her. At first Joshua said it in a joking way, but by the initial look she had given him he could tell that she didn't exactly handle spooky stuff very well. Joshua was glad he didn't bring the new recruits to the spirit forest yet because he knew that could frighten some of them fairly quickly.
"No I'm not afraid. That would be preposterous!" Robin nearly shouted in return. Some of the people realized the situation and reacted in different ways, but Joshua decided to respond seriously.
"If you're going to be an explorer at this level then you better be prepared to handle things you don't like. Besides it's not like you'll be going in their alone." Joshua said encouragingly. "Well then everyone get prepared will be heading to the location as a group in thirty minutes. Make sure you have everything you will need for a trip that could take up to a little over a week."
The group nodded in response before either waiting for the time where they would leave as a group or going to gather some last minute supplies from the system before they could head out. While waiting for everyone to get prepared Joshua noticed the Asawa sisters making their way over to him as they brought out what looked like a set of new talismans since he hadn't seen them used before. Natsumi explained how the new talismans would work to both him and Henry so that they would have an idea of how they could integrate the new talismans into their combat during the upcoming exploration.
The talismans were exactly the same, but they would react differently depending on which of the sister would use it. If Natsumi used one of the new talismans then it would allow her to hide her presence in any nearby shadows while making her movement a bit more fluent. Combined with her other movement based talisman she would be able to be more consistent in close range combat. If Katsumi used the talisman it would allow her to completely sink into any nearby shadow just like the shadow creature, but it didn't just have to be her that could use the ability since she could use the talisman on others.
After seeing how different the new abilities the two sisters had gained from getting a new type of talisman were, Joshua was looking forward to seeing what other types of abilities they could gain just from using new talismans. While thinking over different ways to use these new abilities everyone else had gathered up all of the supplies they would need for the upcoming expedition and were ready to go.
Joshua took the lead creating a portal for them to go through right after they left James Town. The place was quite a ways away from their current location so it was better to travel by portal than to spend days traveling there. When they all crossed through the portal they came out in a location that was far warmer than the area they had been in before. They were at the edge of a grassland like area and were right outside of what looked like a massive forest. The forest had what looked like trees that towered into the sky far higher than Joshua was expecting. It was clear that the forest had been mutated with all of the plant life growing to ridiculous sizes.
Joshua and the rest of the group started looking around their surroundings to see if they could find any clues on what to expect going forward. Joshua decided to sense the area out with his aura to be safe and check and see if he could find anything before they headed in. When he started pulsing out his aura he got a pretty good feel for the surroundings and the first thing he noticed was the fact that it was taking an extremely long time for his aura to find any sign of life outside of the plants in the forest and the grass in the area surrounding it. After pushing his aura out as far as it could possibly go Joshua finally found a beast of sorts, but it was a long ways away from the forest in the other direction.
Knowing that he wasn't going to find any other beast in the area after sensing how the one beast he found seemed to be taking the long way around the forest just to avoid it, Joshua decided to shift his attention to the forest itself. The first thing they all noticed about the forest outside of the massive trees was the dense mist that seemed to hover around the area. It was so heavy that they could see condensation on the plants inside of it as if it had rained recently when there wasn't a single cloud in the sky at the moment. The trees in the area were like those you would find in a rain forest and the place seemed perfect for several beast to live at first glance.
"I can't really see anything wrong with the place." Aito said with a frown. Joshua knew that his friend's keen eyesight would have made it easy for him to spot anything out of the ordinary about the forest, but outside of the massive trees there wasn't anything else that stood out. "Even so I'm getting a creepy feeling about the place."
"Is that your intuition?" Adrian asked with a smile. "I agree there seems to be something a bit off about the place, but we're going to have to travel inside of it if we want to figure anything else out."
"Well there is one other thing we can do before heading inside." Joshua said getting everyone's attention. "Lilly can you bring out Titus? I think he'll be able to have a better feel for this jungle."
Lilly nodded before summoning Titus causing everyone in the group that hadn't met him yet to look up in shock. Outside of Tank, Titus was the largest beast companion that Lilly had and he was the tallest at this point. Seeing a gorilla of over six stories tall looking down at the group with a serious look would have sent chills down most people's spines, but most of the group had already met the gorilla before and knew his personality at this point.
"Titus what do you feel when you try to sense out this forest?" Lilly asked getting the gorilla's attention. He looked over at Lilly for a moment before closing his eyes and remaining still for a short amount of time. Then he opened his eyes wide in shock before glaring in the direction of the forest for a moment.
"There is something off within the forest." Titus said with a deep growling tone. "It's invading all of the plants and killing any beast that come inside. I can't feel the source of it since it is so far away, but it's spreading throughout the whole forest slowly."
Joshua thought on the gorilla's remarks and frowned. They all knew something was up with this forest at this point, but they'd have to go inside to find out what. With a few words of encouragement and a quick set up for their battle formation Joshua took the lead as they headed into the forest.