William gained a reputation for being an expert on magical beasts. This was partly because of his ability to combat them more easily because he could see mana. However, he did have prior knowledge of many types, and intentionally sought out more information. Some of it he had to go gather on his own. On Earth, a properly prepared expedition into a jungle to study animals- even poisonous or otherwise dangerous ones- had no great guarantee of survival for those who couldn’t fight. This included most people interested in research. Not all of them, of course, but that meant most research was done on dead magical beasts. In Liaoyang, they had only recently started to accept actual magic and wizards as a culture, and so many of the magical beasts abilities were only known from what could be seen normally.
Taking the giant crab as an example, though there was knowledge that it shot a dangerous line of water, even those who knew about it would have stopped there. Perhaps they might have taken record of the sounds it made before that, as an indication that people should dodge. The research might have even contained the special chamber and orifice it shot out of, but the details about the water being highly pressurized weren’t known. That is, people knew the water was fast and dangerous, but not exactly why. From the perspective of combating them, it made little difference to know the specifics, but from a scientific standpoint it was important.
William couldn’t help but want to study magical beasts… and now that he had time and strength, he was going to do so. The only real problem was that they used magic… and if they were strong enough or numerous enough that could disrupt his disguise. William thought about various options. The biggest issue was his horns, so he thought about a helmet where he could disguise his own horns… however, horns were highly impractical on a helmet, and they would have caused some strange looks, if not outright suspicion. A hood was no good, because his horns would be plainly obvious bumps, at best. Thus, he tried to spend most of his efforts advising about magical beasts. Occasionally, he would go hunt down some that had drawn near to cities, as he didn’t have to worry about unexpected encounter unlike if he entered the Endless Forest or other uncivilized zones.
William scanned the plains for his prey. He didn’t see anything other than flat ground. Not that he expected much else. His current quarry was very difficult to track. That was unusual for something the size of a few horses, but it happened. Even flying creatures were sometimes easier to track, as they might leave a trail of feces behind, though mostly one would hope for a clear day in that case.
Hidden from view, something watched for its prey. It was alone and clearly visible. It tromped across the ground like an elephant, though it was smaller. Still, it seemed just as noisy. It would only make a mouthful for each of the hunters, but it was alone. That was good enough. They waited for it to pass overhead, before springing their ambush.
The ground under William’s feet buckled, and he almost stumbled a step back. Then, the ground rose up, and out of it came a giant maw, snapping closed around… nothing. William hopped off of the head of the creature that had come out, looking like some sort of strange dinosaur. It was as tall as a horse, but much more filled out. It had armored plates all down its back, and especially covering its massive head which was shaped almost like a torpedo.
This was a land shark, though they shared very little with sharks besides the fact that they had numerous teeth. However, William supposed that they way it could nearly swim through the ground was sharklike enough. As it came out of the ground, William struck out with his staff. That was another reason it was best to fight magical beasts alone. He could use Chris without any of the nonsense of him being covered in a leather case.
Some of William’s ki that he had been gathering streamed out of him and into the land shark. Though its armor was extremely tough, there were gaps where the plates overlapped. They were more than big enough for his attack to penetrate, and the land shark he attacked immediately collapsed. Though they were big and intimidating, land sharks were not too dangerous if you could deal with their armored plates.
The ground rumbled beneath William, and he moved again. That was another weakness that land sharks had. When they were close to the surface they couldn’t help but make noise. There was not only the sound of them clawing at the dirt but also the rumble they created to assist their movement with magic. Without magic, there was no way something so bulky could burrow through the ground, especially not at any significant speed. They popped up one after another, and William took them out in the same manner.
After several were defeated, the rest either grew impatient or changed tactics, and four all came out of the ground around William and surrounded him. Then he had to dodge and weave as they threw themselves at him while at the same time counterattacking. One went down, but as a result William was struck in the chest. He flew backwards half a dozen feet… but that brought him just outside their encirclement. As for injuries… he would at most be a bit bruised. As far as threats went, land sharks were most dangerous if one allowed themself to be swallowed. However, once on the surface they didn’t even have the right head shape to bite someone, and as long as he moved with them William knew would not be struck too hard. Well, he supposed if he was a human who hadn’t engaged in any body training he would have at the very least a set of broken ribs… but the current him was in no danger.
He finished the rest off, one attack at a time. The ringing sounds of staff versus armored plates rang out three more times. The very last land shark had been attempting to burrow back under the ground, but it took precious moments to get started that it didn’t have. Thus, it died with its nose pressed into the dirt.
William sighed. There had been far too many of them. How would he even bring them somewhere useful? Sure, he could carry or drag one, but he couldn’t even get a grip on two of them at the same time. He would have to do some research in the field.
William looked down as his movement caused a strange tinkling sound. What could that be? He reached into his robes and pulled out the source of the sound. There were a number of metal fragments and William sighed as he saw them. They were the pieces of the communication disks he had. Now that they were broken, they had would have lost their connections to the other disks. He fiddled with them just to make sure, but no longer saw any traces of magic, nor felt the resistance that would be expected of them absorbing energy as normal. He should have put them… anywhere else… but he couldn’t have expected to get hit there, and he wanted them with him in case there was an important message. He could think of better places to put them now that they were broken… but it was already too late.