"Light! There's a light ahead!"
A guard walking in the vanguard shouted.
Leylin took a look. Indeed, the far end of the tunnel was radiating light.
"Enter!" Jackson gripped his large sword with both hands and was the first to rush in.
The rest followed suit.
Light! Eye-piercing light radiated downwards from above!
Leylin's eyes were stinging -- tears flowed down uncontrollably. He immediately used his hand to cover his eyes.
"Argh!" "Monster!" "Be careful!"
Various shouts resounded, and weapons were brandished.
[Alert! Imminent attack ahead! Optimal response: step back and crouch!] The A.I. Chip's voice intoned and projected a faint blue screen.
On the screen, a talon the size of a palm was clawing towards Leylin.
Leylin hurriedly retreated a step and crouched to dodge the attack.
Amidst the wails all around, Jackson's faint howling could be heard.
After the A.I. Chip's scan, Leylin could see that many lizard-like creatures were making use of their familiarity with the geography to attempt a massacre of Jackson and the squad of guards around him.
The sneak attack was so quick that when Jackson and the rest finally reacted, the whole squad already suffered heavy casualties.
As Leylin swept his gaze across the scene before him and his eyes finally adjusted to the bright light. He realised that the floor was already littered with corpses. Many of them had traces of having been chewed on by these strange creatures.
At that moment, only the 2 Knight level squad leaders and the grey robed figure, who always followed behind Jackson, were all that remained of the group with Jackson.
As for the acolytes, one had fallen to the ground and another had a large wound on his abdomen that was oozing blood.
At the apex of the cave, white-coloured jellyfish-like creatures were floating. The flash from earlier had radiated from their bodies.
"The surge of light radiated from these jellyfish could actually increase instantaneously and produce an effect similar to a flashbang grenade. The coordination demonstrated by these strange creatures that caused several deaths and injuries definitely hinted at some intelligence controlling them from behind the scenes!"
After light burst from the jellyfish, they seemed to have become a little dispirited as they floated around in the air. Although there was still some light emanating from their bodies, it was not piercing to the eyes. It seemed like the flash from earlier was a one time attack.
"This is a Flash Jellyfish, a kind of subterranean creature. Their earlier attack can only be used once. They need a day of rest before emitting such an intense burst of light again!"
Murphy appeared, clutching a book to his chest.
"What we need to deal with are not these parasitic organisms, but that fellow in the middle!" Leylin pointed to the centre of the cave, and smiled bitterly.
Leylin and the rest entered a large underground cave earlier, where the ceiling was littered with stalactites and Flash Jellyfish, which allowed them a panoramic view of the interior.
At this moment, in the cave, there were many mutated, yet familiar creatures. There were lizards, brown bears, and elks, all numbering over a dozen. At the centre most of them all, there was an enormous yellow snake that seemed to be the king, as it was guarded by the other creatures.
"It's Mankestre - Great Withering Snake Mankestre!" Murphy's book fell from his hands to the floor, letting off a bang.
"A.I. Chip, scan!" Leylin instructed.
[Great Withering Snake - Mankestre (Half-adult body) Strength: 11.9, Agility: 6.5, Vitality: 14, Spiritual force: 8]
[Abilities: 1 - Parasitic. A Mankestre is able to develop an extremely strong parasite in its body, and spread it to other organisms, making them its underlings.]
[2 - Wither. In any areas where a Mankestre has passed by, the plants will die, and become a type of nutrient for the Mankestre. An adult Mankestre possesses the strength of an official Magus, and can transform an entire forest into withering ashes.]
[Source of information: , <Nigel's Travels>]
The A.I. Chip delivered the information immediately in front of Leylin.
"Half-adult body? It doesn't seem to be at its adult stage!" Leylin first heaved a breath of relief, before shouting out loud, "Murphy, don't be fooled by its appearance. This is but a non-adult Mankestre. We still have a chance!"
"Indeed!" Murphy scrutinised the brown yellow colour of the huge snake and finally recovered from his fright, "An adult Mankestre is at least 100 metres long, and this snake is obviously not of that length yet. A number of parasites that it produces is also not right!"
"This huge snake is the cause of the withering woods?" Jackson asked at the side while staring at the huge snake as his Adam's apple moved.
"That's right! A Mankestre uses the juice of plants as their food. They are rather crafty and lazy, and also hate to move about. Basically, it uses the parasites to gather food for itself!"
Murphy, who had bountiful experience and wisdom, was extremely aware of the habits of the huge Mankestre Snake.
"So then, if we kill it, the herb production in Dark Night Woods can recover again?" Jackson used his long sword and pointed at the huge yellow snake that was protected by its parasitic mutated creatures.
"In theory, it should be the case as long as you kill it or drive it away. Although its death cannot revive the withering woods, it can still allow the prey and woods to slowly recover back to what it once was!"
Murphy smiled wryly.
* Hiss! * The snake coiled in the centre of the cave hissed, and let off a low, snake-like speech.
It was a kind of sound made by the friction of rubbing two pieces rotten leather together, which was extremely unpleasant to the ears.
The creatures surrounding Leylin and the rest seemed to have received orders, and howled as they charged forward!
Leylin casually took a look, "There are too many creatures, and the parent body is not yet dealt with, I must conserve my magic power!"
"A.I. Chip! Simulate the most optimal method of attack!"
Leylin pulled out his cross blade.
[Beep! Inputting situation data, initiating build with Host's stats!]
[Calculating battle simulation for the most optimal method!] The A.I. Chip continuously displayed the attack style of creatures surrounding home.
Leylin's feet moved as he dodged a brown bear's attack. The cross blade in his right hand drew a strange trajectory, and deflected the paw of the bear, and directly pierced through its skull.
* Bang! * The huge brown corpse of the bear fell to the ground, and even the Mankestre Snake had taken notice, looking at Leylin.
Leylin's scalp tingled, as he hurriedly kept his distance.
"Nicely done!" Jackson shouted in admiration. His body seemed to turn into a gust of wind, and continuously ravaged the mob of creatures, leaving a trail of blood behind him.
"It seems that Jackson has ignited the secret Knight technique! His technique should be enhancing his agility "
The few acolytes also casted their rank 0 spells that they had prepared and assisted in killing these creatures.
Leylin only took a look and did not bother about them anymore.
* Sssii! *The corpse of the brown bear that Leylin had killed rapidly decomposed. From the bones, many veins appeared, which turned into the creature that Leylin and the rest had been chasing earlier. The creature then climbed into the Mankestre's mouth.
The Mankestre Snake opened its mouth and revealed rows of razor sharp teeth. Its tongue coiled, as it swallowed the strange red veined creature into its belly.
"Retrieving its parasite huh?" Leylin was rather shocked.
After swallowing the parasite, the Mankestre Snake finally uncoiled and looked at Leylin and the group, who were unrestrainedly slaughtering the creatures. Its crimson eyes showed signs of rage.
* Bang! * The huge body of the snake shot out, and the entire cave trembled violently.
The huge Mankestre Snake's body moved at an alarming speed, charging towards Jackson.
"It's too quick! With an agility of 6.5, I can only see its afterimage " Leylin rapidly retreated, and at the same time, he used the cross blade to block his chest.
A surge of immense force came rushing over, and the cross blade that Leylin held onto flew in the air, completely broken .
"Such a strong force, and it's only a casual swipe!" Leylin's pupils constricted.
The Mankestre Snake opened its jaws wide, and its razor sharp teeth snapped at Jackson, bringing about a fish-like smell. If Jackson were to be caught, he would definitely die without a corpse left.
"Sir!" The remaining two Knights and the grey robed person shouted.
"Hah! Good try!" At the brink of death, Jackson finally released all of his internal energy, and the sword pierced at the crown of the snake with a speed that was hard to track by eye.
The sword, however, only left a white spot on the scales of the snake. As for Jackson, he used the force to rebound, and twisted his waist, evading the snap of the snake's jaw.
"Protect our Lord!" The two Knights rushed forward. The Mankestre Snake let out a ferocious roar, and directly gobbled the two Knights into its belly.
"Acidic Aqua Shot"
At this moment, the other acolytes also cast their spells, striking the body of the huge snake.
* Bang! * A black arrow with a yellow flame exploded from the body of the huge snake, revealing two scorched holes/wounds/gashes.
The huge snake let off a roar, which carried a tinge of agony. Its scales shook, and it sent its tail flying towards the few acolytes.
"The vitality of the snake is too high, any normal rank 0 spells would not be able to affect its movement at all!"
The huge snake swatted its tail, and a few acolytes who were unable to dodge in time were turned into meat pancakes, and blood oozed from beneath the snake's body.
"No! Decker! Lancer!" Murphy cried hoarsely in anguish.
"There's no choice, we have to retreat first!" The few remaining people huddled together, when the grey robed figure behind Jackson spoke in a deep growl.
"No! This damned worm dared to kill Decker and the rest! I will definitely not let it go!" Murphy's eyes were rather bloodshot.
"I have a spell that can temporarily restrict its movements, the rest will be up to you guys."
Murphy stepped forward, placed the monocle that he always carried in his hand, and tossed it towards the huge snake.
* Bang! * The glass shattered on the huge snake, and many dark red runes suddenly surfaced.
The dark red runes multiplied, and turned into the shape of a long chain, binding the snake within it.
"What a powerful restraining spell!" Leylin's eyes flashed, "It will not be able to move for at least half a minute, so use whatever methods you guys have in that time."
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