A giant purple orb of light blocked the only path leading to the center of the forest.
William had tried to find other routes, but a powerful barrier blocked their way. After repeated tries, it dawned on them that the only way to advance was to confront the purple orb that was blocking their path.
“Prepare for battle,” William ordered as he raised his staff.
Immediately after his announcement, a notification appeared in front of his eyes.
[ Ding! ]
[ Are you going to participate in the Challenge of Courage? ]
[ Yes / No ]
William took a deep breath before choosing Yes.
After choosing his answer, the giant purple orb in front of them expanded. It engulfed William, Ella, Est, Ian, and Isaac along with the rest of the goats. A few seconds later, they found themselves on what seemed to be an open plain.
Nothing could be seen for miles, except for the vast grassland. However, instead of calming the children, it only made them raise their guards even more. As they eyed their surroundings, William noticed that his herd was feeling restless.
The ears of the goats would perk up every now and then as if they were picking up sounds that the humans couldn’t hear. 𝒾n𝘯𝒓𝙚а𝑑. 𝓬𝑜𝙢
Suddenly, Ella broke away from the formation and charged at something. Since William was mounted on her back, he had no choice but to be dragged along with her.
“Meeeeeeh!” Ella bleated. “Meeeeeeeh!”
“Something is in front of us?” William asked.
“Meeeeeh!” Ella answered. “Meeeeeh!”
“Monsters? And there is more than one of them?” William looked around anxiously, but he couldn’t see anything.
“Meeeeeeeh!” Ella stomped her front hooves on the ground and delivered a powerful kick behind her.
A loud shriek was heard as something that resembled a lizard, flew several meters off the ground due to Ella’s powerful kick.
William observed the monster in front of him as it angrily hissed at Ella after standing up.
The monster, that looked like a cross between a chameleon and a monitor lizard, was at least six meters long. Its body was covered in dark green scales, and its blood-red eyes were currently looking at Ella with hatred. Its webbed-feet had four razor sharp claws and they glinted in the sunlight like a sharp blade.
The red-head boy had no idea what it was, so he immediately used his appraisal skill to get a better understanding of an enemy that he was seeing for the first time in his life.
[ Gasmirage ]
— Chameleon Type Beast
— Threat Level C
— Known as the hidden killer of the grasslands. This chameleon, who lives in the Eastern Plains of the Southern Continent, is known for its lethal ambushes.
— It’s main weapon is its long tongue that extends up to 30 meters and can easily shatter a boulder in one strike.
— During battle, it coats its claws with poison that is potent enough to kill a man within five minutes.
— It’s special ability is Stealth
(A/N: The rankings for the threat levels are E, D, C, B, A, S, SS, SSR, and Calamity. Centennial Beasts are Rank S, Millennial Beasts are rank SS, and Myriad Beasts are ranked as SSR. Calamity classes are those beasts who are half-a-step away or have already stepped on the ranks of Demigods.)
As William absorbed the information in his head, he noticed that the Gasmirage’s front right-leg was bent at an unnatural angle. It seemed that it was the part of its body that received the full brunt of Ella’s kick.
The monster hissed and its long tongue shot out towards William and Ella like a deadly whip.
Ella evaded the attack with ease. However, a six-meter long gash, that was a meter deep, appeared in the ground that they were standing at just a few seconds ago. It showed William just how powerful the attack was and it made him very wary of the Gasmirage’s battle prowess.
Seeing that it failed to kill its targets, the pissed-off Gasmirage’s tongue lashed out a barrage of attacks in rapid succession.
Even with Ella’s agility, she was having trouble dodging the consecutive blows of the tongue that seemed to have a life of its own.
William heard Est’s warning, and immediately turned his head to look at his back. There he saw four more lethal tongues that were currently heading in their direction.
Four layers of Ice Wall appeared behind William’s back as he attempted to shield himself and Ella from the unexpected sneak attack. The four tongues that were powerful enough to break boulders shattered three layers of the Ice Wall before stopping at the fourth one.
Ella quickly took that opportunity to make her escape and return to where Est and the others were. Surprisingly, the monsters didn’t make any follow up attacks on William and Ella as they retreated towards their group.
The injured Gasmirage flicked its tongue before usings its stealth ability. It was not in a hurry to have its revenge because its comrades were slowly forming a tight encirclement in order to trap their prey.
Also, their leader was already headed in their direction. Once it arrived, their enemy’s chances of winning was nil.
“What are we going to do?” Est asked as he warily looked around their surroundings. “We can’t fight what we can’t see.”
“What kind of monster was it?” Isaac asked. “I’ve never heard or seen something like this before.”
“It’s name is Gasmirage. Threat Level C,” William explained. “It’s main weapon is its tongue that extends up to thirty meters. Ah, its claws also contain poison that can paralyze its prey. Make sure to avoid it at all costs.”
“Do you know their weakness?” Ian asked. “Also, how did you know about this creature?”
“My master is a walking monster encyclopedia,” William lied with a straight face. “I heard her talking about this monster in passing. This monster thrives within the Eastern Plains of the Southern Continent. As for their weakness, they don’t have any.”
“Monster Ensayklopedia?” Est asked. “What’s that?”
“… In short, she knows a lot about monsters,” William answered in an awkward manner.
“I see.” Est nodded his head. Although he had a feeling that William wasn’t telling him the truth, he knew that now was not the time to ask such questions. “Do you have a plan in mind?”
Since he had already recognized him as the leader of the party, he decided to observe whether he really had the capabilities to lead them.
“There is a way, but…” William looked at the three children with reluctance. “You might not like it.”
“What do you mean that we might not like it?” Ian asked in a challenging tone.
William didn’t answer Ian’s question. Instead, he glanced at the grasslands around them. If possible, he didn’t want to use this ability because his Master had repeatedly warned him not to use it in public.
“Remember this, WIlliam,” Celine said with a serious expression. “No matter how good or noble your intentions are, human prejudice is something that you must consider when using this power. Only use it as a last resort.”
While he was still having an internal debate whether he should use his power or not, the ground started to shake. A hulking giant that was at least forty-meters tall appeared in their vision. It had red skin and a single horn jutted out of its head. In its hand was a giant black steel hammer that was as dark as the night.
The most notable feature of this monster was its single, large, red-eye that seemed to pierce through their souls.
The hairs on William’s neck stood on end as he gazed upon the towering threat in front of him. The feeling that the monster gave him was similar to the Strathmore Thunder Horned Wolf and Golden-Scaled Crocodile that he had faced many months ago.
It was a presence that William could never hope to defeat with his current level of power.
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