359 Chapter 34: Beast were Annoying enough now we“ve got Plants on the Prowl
Marching through the forest was a bit of a pain in the ass at first. The trees were enormous and stretched up high with large leaves that often got in the way even for Titus who had shrunken down in size a bit so that he'd have an easier time moving around the trees. The real annoyance that kept getting in the way were all of the vines that kept hanging down and obstructing their movements. Joshua had to cut them down to move through the forest, luckily there wasn't any tall grass getting in the way as well.
The further they went into the forest the more Joshua kept feeling how creepy the place was. The first thing that was throwing him for a loop was the fact that the only thing that he could hear as they made their way into the forest was their own movements. There wasn't a single bird singing, cricket chirping, or animal roaring in the distance. It was completely silent to the point where you could hear when a small branch would fall off a tree. The whole situation was putting everyone on edge, but it made it easy for Joshua to use his aura pulse without having to worry about beast latching onto his location in some way. He had ways to work around that now, but it would still be annoying to deal with in such a large an open area instead of inside a dungeon.
While making their way through the forest the heavy mist was also a great annoyance that they had to deal with. Although it only covered the area of the lower parts of the trees, which was about a house high considering how massive the trees were. Titus was barely able to see over the mist in his shrunken form. Luckily they had a water mage that knew exactly what to do in the situation. Brook generated a small and simple spell that would get the mist to move and flow around them by a large margin. This was perfect for the situation since it allowed them to get a large enough view of their surroundings just in case anything got by Joshua's aura sense. It was a small enough spell that was within Brook's particular element that it didn't drain to much mana from her.
As they moved further and further into the forest Joshua started to notice things that were putting him on edge. Every once in a while he would see something moving at the edge of his vision only to turn and see a hanging tree limb or a swinging vine. At first he thought it might be a beast of some kind that was following them by swinging through the trees or something, but his aura sense would have picked up on it. The only thing that was being sensed by his aura were all of the plants around them. They would occasionally have small shifts, but Joshua didn't find this out of the normal from any other forest he had been to.
It wasn't until Titus stopped and started sensing out the area again that Joshua and the rest of the group felt something was going on. The mist wasn't misleading them to walk in circles or anything since Brook kept it at bay and there wasn't any sign of danger nearby, but the fact that several people had disappeared in this forest by this point was enough to put them all on edge.
"I suggest you all prepare for battle. Something is off about the nearby plants." Titus said as he let out a roar and glared at a particular nearby tree that had now caught everyone's attention. Joshua turned to glance over the tree and see what was off about it. At first he couldn't see anything different about it from all of the other trees nearby, but when he let his aura flow over it he could feel a malevolent aura coming from it. The moment his aura flowed over it the tree's branches started to move as they twisted in the air and started to shoot in their direction.
Joshua's eyes widened at the sudden attack but he took the front and blocked the large branch with his scale blade before knocking it back. A vine that was hanging front the tree tried to g grab on to him, but Joshua quickly cut it down before letting his aura flow around him in preparation for any more attacks. Joshua noticed Ivan and Jayce take up defense just behind him as some of the branches from the tree tried to get around him and go for the rest of the group. They both put up shield walls to block the attack while the rest of the group prepared to attack back.
Now that the tree had gone on the assault Joshua was actually able to observe it and see what was going on. The tree currently had the name of corrupted tree. It was level seventy-six with two stars by its name. It wasn't too strong of an opponent considering the fact that Joshua was easily able to deflect it with his scale blade without even using aura, but the issue was the fact that there were trees all around them. It would be hard to tell which ones were corrupted and would go on the attack until their aura shifted. Joshua was certain that this tree's aura was as normal as usual before they had gotten close to it. Luckily Titus seemed to have a way of feeling the corrupted tress out and telling them apart from the rest of the forest.
Before the group could respond to the attack of the first tree two more seemed to have an aura shift as they went on the offensive. Joshua let out a Heroic shout forcing the trees to target him. He then coated his scale blade in aura and started chopping through the vines and branches that were trying to attack him. Even though the trees were enormous they were rather slow moving outside of the vines which were a bit faster, but not to the degree that they could catch Joshua off guard.
While Joshua held the trees off the rest of the group got to work on taking them down. Julia was the key to this fight since her flames were the natural enemy of all plants. Lilly didn't bring out Cinder as well since her fire based attacks would be too large and easy to spread with how close the trees were to each other. They didn't want to end up burning down the entire forest with them still inside it. Julia stuck to using small fireballs to burn off parts of the trees while Adrian got straight to cutting down any of the vines that tried to sneak their way around the tanks at the front and attack the rest of the group.
The fight wasn't all that challenging, but the issue was the fact that the trees didn't have any particular weak spots. There wasn't a head or heart to go after to make the fight end quickly. In fact the trees seemed to have decent regenerative abilities making it pointless to just cut off their branches and expect that to make a difference. Julia's fireballs were leaving long lasting damage since any areas that were charred to some extent wouldn't regenerate. After seeing this Aito followed suit by using incendiary rounds to cause even more damage along some of the key areas of the tree.
As the trees started to run out of branches and started relying on vines more often Joshua was freed up to go on the assault. He rushed forward to the middle tree and decided to test his skills as a lumberjack hefting his scale blade and swinging with full force. His blade cut deep into the tree to the point where he was able to put a little force into it so that he could rip it out of the other side. His sister then came to finish it off by slamming a heavy fist into the top portion of the trunk causing the entire tree to fall over and collapse. They both jumped back out of the way as the other trees tried to catch them. Joshua could feel the surge in experience after the tree had been cut down.
"As long as we cut the trees down to a stump then we can put them out of commission. Julia burn the stumps down just in case to make sure they can't grow back." Joshua shouted since they didn't have Natalie around to create a mental link. They weren't up against intelligent creatures this time around so they didn't have to worry about their opponents understanding what they were saying.
Julia responded to Joshua words by sending a strong fireball directly into the stump and burning it down. She then turned to focus on another tree, but this time Robin was the star of the show. She had been channeling a powerful spell since the start of the match and when she finished a dark cloud started to appear in the sky. Within seconds a large bolt of lightning shot from above the forest and slammed into one of the trees so fast that no one was able to even react. The tree froze up for a moment before it split nearly in half with the inside caught on fire killing it quickly.
With that there was only one corrupt tree left in the area that was still trying to put up a fight. Adrian had already cut off most of the vines on the tree so it was relegated to using its slow moving branches as its only offensive ability while its vines grew back. Surprisingly Brook was the one to deal the fight changing blow to this enemy. Joshua wasn't expecting for her to do too much damage since water magic seemed a bit limited being used against plants, but she proved him wrong with the spell she cast. Instead blasting off parts of the tree with highly pressurized water or something similar, Brook decided to take a different approach. Her spells absorbed the water from inside the tree causing it to form a large water ball in the air that started drifting away from the tree.
After a few seconds of having the water pulled out of the tree the insides of the tree started to crack and all of its movements became extremely stiff. Its wood was too dried out and that could be seen by the cracks starting to form on the surface. Titus decided to put an end to the trees struggles as he rushed over growing in size to about four stories tall so that he could easily wrap his arms around the base of the giant tree. Then with a mighty roar Titus ripped the tree straight out of the ground with the roots breaking apart from being so dried out. He slammed the rest of the tree onto the ground leaving it as nothing more than a broken dried out husk.
As the fight settled down Joshua could only think of the implications of the fight that they had just had. Every single plant in the forest could be an enemy and they wouldn't know until after getting attacked or until Titus got close enough to spot them out. He still didn't know what the cause of such a weird situation was, but he was excited to find out.