Zac felt pretty small and vulnerable for the first time in a while as he looked up at the ferocious beasts that trembled with battle intent. He looked over at Ogras and noticed that the demon had taken out a lounger and some refreshments during the transformation of the small pets.
“Uh, isn’t this against some sort of rules?” Zac hesitantly asked as he glanced at the E-Grade animals once more.
The one called Grub had turned into an extremely odd beast that reached ten meters above the ground. Half its body was an enormous head with a mouth that seemed to be able to open 180 degrees. It didn’t possess sharp fangs though, but rather huge flat slabs of teeth, looking like they were meant for crushing rather than tearing.
Its legs were short and stubbly, but it radiated immense power even if it looked a bit funny. The thick fur that covered looked extremely coarse and dense, forming a natural armor covering its entire body. Zac felt that it should be a Strength or Endurance-focused beast that excelled in raw power. It would likely possess a Dao seed such as Heaviness to deliver devastating chomps that could crush a large boulder without a problem.
Lulu seemed more speed-based as it had turned into a slightly smaller beast with long slender appendages. Where the fur of Grub was extremely thick this animal possessed a long white mane that looked extremely luxuriant as it glistened under the sun.
Zac wasn’t exactly sure how what sort of attacks he could expect from Lulu since nothing about it seemed very threatening apart from its aura and size. It didn’t have long fiendish claws like some beasts, and while its fangs were sharp enough it didn’t look like an animal that used its mouth as a weapon.
What stood out about it were the oversized ears and eyes, and the closest Earthern animal that Zac could liken it to was a Fennec Fox, except it had a shorter snout. Zac wondered if it was a beast that focused on spells rather than physical prowess. It was rare, but Zac had learned from Alyn that many such species existed in the multiverse.
“I’m a Beast Master, they are my weapons. Is you using your axe against the rules?” Verana retorted from behind the legs of the one she called Lulu, a scornful glare adorning her face.
“Contracted beasts are generally considered a part of one’s strength,” Ogras agreed with a nod. “Since you need sufficient skill and strength to tame them. Be careful, her power comes from making her beasts even stronger than they already are.”
Zac only sighed and cracked his neck as he walked forward, but he was inwardly relieved he agreed to the duel. These animals seemed extremely dangerous, and he wasn’t sure that the shields produced by the Valkyries would be able to handle the force they would be able to generate.
He tried to use [Inquisitive Eye] on the two animals as he walked forward, but something blocked the skill completely apart from confirming their names. He sensed that energy stirred around Verana the moment he used his skill, and he guessed that she possessed some safeguards against spying on her animals.
“So, if I defeat you and these two things your force will leave Earth immediately,” Zac confirmed with a steady voice.
“Agreed. But if I win we will be able to stay here for fifty years, provided that you all don’t get swallowed up by the undead swarm,” Verana countered.
Zac frowned as he considered the proposition. He didn’t believe he would lose even against these two behemoths, but he still went over her words carefully. Fifty years wasn’t a long time in the grand scheme of things, but it would likely be enough for them to completely strip the area of anything of value.
Still, it was only a small part of Earth, so Zac felt there wasn’t too large a downside to her terms even if he lost by some chance.
“Agreed, provided that you provide basic rights to your citizens and don’t expand from your current Zone,” Zac agreed as he unleashed his aura. "Otherwise I will just come back."
No more words were needed, and immediately Grub released an earthshattering bellow that shook the whole area as a powerful aura started to radiate from Verana as well.
Zac immediately activated [Loamwalker] to strike straight at the source; the beastmaster herself. Being a tamer was like most other classes that utilized minions, such as necromancers or summoners. Their main strength usually lay with their minions, whereas they weren’t too powerful by themselves. If he took down Verana he would win without even having to battle the two animals.
The earth shrunk beneath his feet as he made a beeline for the Tal-Eladar, but as he closed in on her he started to feel a greater and greater restriction on his movements. He finally realized that the huge bellow that Grub was still releasing wasn’t simply a bestial roar, but rather some sort of domain attack.
Zac wasn’t able to pinpoint how it actually worked, but it wasn’t like a gravitational field so he felt unencumbered. But the efficiency of his movement skill was almost completely gone, slowing him down by a huge degree.
A large fractal edge formed on his blade as he shot a glance at the stocky animal, and he immediately imbued it with a Dao. The fractal turned silver as the Dao of Sharpness imbued it before he shot it straight toward the mouth of the animal. He was hoping to force the beast to close its mouth, stopping the restriction on his skill.
The beast closed its mouth as Zac hoped, but when the enormous teeth slammed together an immense shockwave was created that instantly reached Zac. He only had time to steady himself before the attack punched into him with enough force to instantly kill most people of Earth.
A trickle of blood ran down from the corner of his mouth from the shock to his system, but he hadn't been truly hurt by the attack. Unfortunately, his strike hadn’t proven effective either against Grub, as it had turned its head away with startling speed, letting the edge to hit its thickly furred side instead without much impact. Some of the thick hair was carved off, but the fractal edge didn't even draw blood.
Some killing intent started to bubble up in Zac’s mind, and he realized that it was the corruption that was discreetly egging him on to start a slaughter. But now that he knew what to look out for he didn’t have any problems stabilizing his mind, forcing himself to remain cool and collected as he surveyed the battle.
The stocky beast seemed extremely sturdy while also possessing restraining skills, making it a troublesome enemy to quickly take down. Zac chose to ignore it and instead started to run toward the beast tamer again, this time without a movement skill. He still possessed close to three hundred Dexterity, so even though he couldn’t utilize [Loamwalker] he still moved like the wind.
Grub started bellowing again, putting further strain on Zac as he ran, while Cosmic Energy Started to swirl around Lulu for the first time of the battle. Zac formed five more blades and shot them toward Lulu to shut it down before it could do anything, without stopping his own advance.
The blades ripped through the air with tremendous force, but the beast made no effort to dodge. It’s huge eyes instead lit up in an almost blinding blue radiance, and a wave of extremely pure white-blue flames surged forward.
Oddly enough he couldn’t sense any heat from the incoming attack even though it consisted of enough energy to make the air twist and distort around it. Zac initially planned on pushing straight toward it, but he quickly changed his mind when his fractal blades were incinerated in an instant.
The damage his fractal edges sustained were transmitted to his edge, and the enraged roar of Verun echoed in Zac's mind as the Tool Spirit woke up from the damage. Zac himself growled in frustration and stopped his assault to back away from the incoming blast wave. At this moment another shockwave suddenly arrived from the other beast, making Zac feel like he was punched in his gut.
Irritation started to build up in Zac’s mind as he turned two blood-shot eyes toward Verana who seemed to be utilizing some skill behind her two beasts. Large amounts of Cosmic Energy swirled around her as she stood completely still with closed eyes. It looked like she was controlling one or both the beasts with her mind, rather than fight with her own body.
The ground cracked beneath his feet as he once again tried to rush toward the beastmaster, this time with [Nature’s Barrier] swirling around him to hopefully block some of the incoming strikes. But it was clear that the two beasts hadn’t shown all their cards.
A huge sun ignited above the head of Lulu, and ray after ray blasted toward Zac, ripping the emerald leaves to pieces after a few shots. The attacks were pretty strong, but not to the point that he couldn’t destroy them with a swing of his axe if they passed his defense. But it did noticeably slow him down, allowing Grub to launch his next attack.
The fat beast suddenly disappeared as the sky turned dark. Zac looked up with confusion, only to see the enormous maw of Grub opened wide right above him. Zac didn't know what happened next as his head slammed straight into the ground with enough force to cause large cracks to spread out.
A groan escaped his lips the next moment when the extremely heavy beast landed straight on top of him, causing a huge shockwave to spread outward. It was like a bomb had gone off in the area, causing widespread damage to the ground.
Zac's mind started to get muddled from pain and anger, but somehow he managed to actually push upward and lift Grub above his head with a bestial roar of his own. With a grunt the stocky animal was lobbed straight at Verana, and it's short legs floundered as it tried to right itself in the air.
The lithe frame of Lulu moved like lightning, as it picked up the still unmoving form of Verana in her mouth, moving her away of harm's way. Grub crashed into the ground the next moment, causing another shockwave. This time quite a few of the Tar-Eladar soldiers were impacted, though they were only thrown down on the ground without any real injuries.
A roar echoed in Zac's mind once moar to complement his own anger, and the next moment the spectral form of Verun appeared even though Zac hadn’t summoned it. Perhaps seeing its master being hounded by the two beasts had ignited its competitive spirit, and it turned into a hurricane of violence as it pounced on Lulu the moment it moved away from its mistress.
Zac’s brows rose when he saw that the ghost-white flames of Lulu seemed able to harm Verun, but that alone wasn’t enough to deter the frenzied Tool Spirt. A wail escaped Lulu’s mouth as a large section of its fur was ripped off along with parts of its shoulder in a large bite of Verun’s oversized jaw.
A tremendous pressure suddenly ripped apart the remaining parts of Grub's domain as the wooden hand of [Nature’s Punishment] emerged from the void. It shot straight toward Grub who had just got back on its feet, looking a bit disoriented. But it quickly steadied itself as it tried to deter the hand with a concussive series of sound-waves.
Pieces of wood kept raining down from the hand, but damage quickly healed before any lasting wounds could be caused. The dense fractals on the hand lit up in green the moment the hand closed in on the animal, and the next moment an indent was formed in the ground from the pressure of the enormous fractal in the air.
Creaking sounds could be heard from Grub’s thick bones as it was forced down on the ground, and the large hand moved toward its neck. Energy surged around Verana as a thick shield above her companion, but it immediately shattered at impact, making her cough a mouthful of blood and open her eyes for the first time during the battle.
Both beasts were occupied, and Zac rushed straight at the beastmaster who had just received a backlash from her attempt to defend Grub. He hadn’t initially wanted to use his ultimate attack since it consumed so much energy since evolving, but he found no better alternative. The combination of the trio was too annoying, and he could only brute force his way through them before he wasted too much power.
He knew that he had less than half his Cosmic Energy remaining after summoning [Nature’s Punishment], so he needed to immediately end the battle so that he would still have enough energy in case something unexpected cropped up afterward.
“Wait, I give up!” Verana shouted with wide eyes as she saw Zac barrel toward her with the momentum of a runaway beast horde.
To prove her words she swallowed a familiar black pill. Next, the scene of the sudden and unexpected death of an Incursion general repeated itself just as Zac reached Verana.