(Patreon) Elder Cultivator 59

-–Chapter Index–-

Wolves again. Anton was quite familiar how to deal with wolves, though he mainly avoided them when hunting. But on occasion he had to deal with those who roamed out of the forest, and then there was The Hunt at the Order. A single spirit arrow nocked in his bow then quickly released. The beast couldn’t even dodge as the arrow flew straight and true into its eye, and into its brain. A simple act to defeat an enemy. Anton had expected it to be harder… but he had also expected the creature to die.

When the wolf started rushing towards him after suffering the blow, he knew things weren’t quite as they should be. He thought he’d misjudged his attack. Perhaps it had only looked like it penetrated deep into the eye but was actually absorbed into the beast. Some magical beasts had such high bodily defenses. But he could clearly make out the hole- despite the trickle of blood. A trickle that was perhaps too small in quantity for the amount of damage. Anton could also make out some of the same moss from the fur inside the creature. “Careful! They’re not normal beasts!” The chance that the other two actually needed him to say that were slim. Unless they had looked away… “They won’t die so easily, but nothing’s immortal! Keep an eye out for those others!”

Even as he was talking Anton had readied and fired another arrow, straight into the other eye. With the wolf moving it was a bit harder to hit with pinpoint accuracy. Predicting its movements was… strange. His training with insight was completely failing him, though the creature wasn’t quick. His arrow still grazed the eye, enough to make it unusable but not to penetrate deep into its body. 

Anton pulled his neck out of the way of biting teeth as the creature pounced towards him. It turned more or less directly towards him, but as it swiped at him with its claws he noticed its range wasn’t perfect. Sometimes he actually had to dodge, and sometimes it just missed. So despite not dying properly, it did seem to need its eyes. 

Fighting in melee range with a bow was extremely taxing. He didn’t have time to properly line up a shot, and the swiping claws threatened to strike his bow. Anton didn’t think that it would break to even a quite oversized and strange wolf, but it wasn’t optimal to fight that way either. A few arrows deep into its chest didn’t seem to faze it, so he decided his smaller axes would do better instead. If nothing else, he could dismember it. A quick glance told him that worked quite well.

—–

Catarina was fighting a wolf that had approached from one side of them. She danced around it with ease, stabbing her sword into its side several times. While she drew blood, it didn’t seem sufficiently damaging for a creature of that size. She had hopes that its other internal organs might be more important to it than its brain- perhaps an abnormal wish, but it was an abnormal creature.

It wasn’t hard to tell that the moss was one of the strange parts about it. It radiated an abnormal energy- and any amount at all was abnormal for moss. So was growing on a creature. A quick slice of her sword along a patch and she found it was surprisingly resistant to attack… and also quite vulnerable. Her own energy was sufficient to cut through the defenses of a patch of moss, after which the whole thing exploded

Spores flew everywhere. No, they burst out with great speed… but they flew towards her. Her energy defenses stopped anything from touching her directly, but the spores latched onto the outside of her energy. Catarina was quick to push it away, letting part of her energy go with it. She didn’t want to find out if it could harm her without touching her directly. Maybe the spores were why grandpa Anton hadn’t attacked the moss. Or perhaps he hadn’t felt the flow of energy from the moss. He wasn’t actually perfect, after all. 

As for the damage to the wolf… it actually bled profusely from where the patch of moss had been moments earlier. Now she had a target… but its movements also changed to try to protect the moss. It wasn’t dodging, but instead it became more aggressive. Attacking recklessly would normally be a suicidal move, but it forced Catarina to dodge its attacks instead of making her own. That made sense, because the creature wasn’t particularly fast. Even so, it took some effort to find an opening…

—–

Hoyt ran off to the right of the cave entrance, where he spotted two wolves were approaching. One was much closer than the other, so he moved to meet it head on. He’d rather not fight two on one. The wolf also seemed happy to rush towards him. As they were only a short distance apart, Hoyt solidified his stance as he swung his axe, right into the ribcage of the creature. His axe sank the full length of the blade, driving into the creature’s heart. Hoyt had seen what Anton’s arrows piercing into its brain did- practically nothing- but he was still a bit disconcerted when it twisted, biting and clawing at him as if it wasn’t twisting its sliced ribs around. 

With all the strength he could muster, Hoyt kicked the creature’s ribs, pushing it further and yanking his axe out at the same time. A moment later the creature had rolled to its feet, and while it seemed slightly unsteady with some of its structural support sliced apart it was a far cry from dead. As it charged back towards him Hoyt aimed for a different target. Tactics involving striking opponent’s limbs were rarely optimal. If Hoyt had the opening to cut off someone’s arm, couldn’t he cut off their head? He looked at the creature’s neck. In this case… he could not.

But even though he couldn’t take off the head, Hoyt found an opportunity to take a swing at a front shoulder. The leg was probably ten centimeters thick, going up to twenty just below the shoulder. That was already a bit much for the size of his axe- it wasn’t crazily oversized but rather practical in terms of weight and size. It was sufficient for most things… and for the rest, his energy could make up for it. Slight extensions of energy on either side, and as he leaned around an attack he took the swing. Hard bone and thick, sinewy muscle slowed his swing, but he cut straight through the limb. He might have expected the creature to die of shock or topple over from pain, but instead it merely continued to try to attack him. However, while it might not really care about the loss of a leg, it still needed it for support. It couldn’t swipe at him with its other paw, so it was limited to biting.

Quite by accident while looking for another opening, Hoyt had moved away from the fallen limb. Even though he knew the thing was strange, he thought it wouldn’t do anything… but it continued to flop around wildly. More than just random twitching, though not really more effective. Whatever these things were, it seemed he couldn’t make any assumptions.

As Hoyt was taking small swings at the creature’s leg while avoiding its extremely long teeth, he circled around its side. He thought to perhaps go for a rear leg instead, as the head was being extremely annoying. However, before he could find the chance a section of moss on the creature shot out towards him. His energy defenses stopped it, but it latched on. Ah. He’d learned about things like this. In a way, it wasn’t dissimilar to the northern creeper but much more aggressive. Though what he thought he knew about it didn’t actually make a difference, because ‘chop it to bits and don’t get spored’ was already sufficient.

Circling around the creature wasn’t too hard as long as he was ready for the spores, and he didn’t have to waste any more energy with that. Then with one hind leg gone, the wolf was entirely unbalanced. Just in time for the second one to reach him. 

—–

Cutting all the way through a wolf’s leg was a bit much for Anton and his more moderately sized handaxe. He had quite a bit of strength, but he didn’t have the weight a bigger weapon would add. Then again, he hadn’t really tested his maximum force. Anton had a better idea, however. Even if he could accomplish the same thing as Hoyt, he would prefer a bit more efficiency

The creatures didn’t seem to care about their bodies much, but they were still after all using them. No matter what sort of force was controlling them, they had to have a certain structure. If Anton recalled correctly, the tendon on the leg should be just… there.

If he wanted to exaggerate his prowess, he might have left out the part where he was in Spirit Tempering and fighting a blind wolf, but he sliced right through a tendon, then one on the other front leg. He considered chopping at the other legs, but instead he pulled back. Somehow the creature managed to limp along even with the damage. There was a bit of pulsing energy inside it… but it was even more awkward than before. Since they were already going to have to deal with the spores anyway… he backed up and took a shot. One arrow into each of three patches of moss he could see. They exploded just like he saw with Catarina, but he wasn’t close enough for them to seek him out. In fact, they seemed to go straight back along the path of the arrow even as he curved them around to hit the sides. It made sense, following energy. With the moss dying, the wolf eventually stopped moving.

Anton looked to see if the others needed a hand, and then to see if there were more. Not close, at least, though he thought he’d heard more than four howls total. If they were quick, they might leave before more came. However, there was still the matter of the person they had dragged off. He didn’t imagine things had gone well for them, but at least they might be buried with dignity.

-–Chapter Index–-