I fired another arrow and watched it fly through the air and land cleanly in the ground. I signaled for the others to be ready before activating the Watching Eye to observe the monster’s actions. It was still hiding lazily behind a large tree, occasionally sticking out its forked tongue in the air and waving it around like a snake would. Suddenly, it swiveled its head in my direction. Or rather, the direction of the arrow that I just fired. Like a bullet, it took off. It crawled over the ground at a frightening speed, its long limbs becoming nothing but a blur as they moved.
Abigail was standing next to me, bow at the ready, and a blackish arrow made out magic nocked. The remaining members of our team were spread out around the spot the lizard was heading for, out of range of its sense of smell.
As the Black Gorgon Gland reached the arrow, it slowed down and walking around it slowly. It walked up to the shaft of the arrow and stuck out its tongue at it. I nocked another arrow and drew my string back. By now, the monster had started licking up the juices of all the berries that we had covered the arrow with, and it was already beginning to lose interest in it.
“Now,” I commanded.
Abigail and I let go of our arrows and the exact same time. Our target was almost two hundred meters away. Abigail said she’d be able to hit it without a problem, but I wasn’t as confident in my accuracy as she was. To make up for it, I used some of my magic force to continually guide my arrow as much as I could during its flight. A little over a second passed before our arrows reached their mark. My arrow hit one of its front limbs and stuck out like an antenna. Abigail’s arrow struck the creature right in its back, where it diffused and deluged into the creature’s body, turning the nearby scales a disgusting black color. The monster shrieked out in pain and immediately tried to run away, but its speed was noticeably slower than before.
In the distance, I could see the others start moving. They all had to cover a distance similar to the one that Abigail and I had fired from, but it didn’t take them much time at all. I watched in amazement as all three of them covered the distance in under ten seconds. The monster had been fast, but now that it was injured, the others quickly caught up with it.
Jack was the first to reach it. With his large frame, he covered its way and swung a giant claymore at its head. However, despite being injured, the lizard easily dodged his sword and slid between his legs, rustling up dirt and leaves as it moved. Jack’s surprised expression quickly turned into a frustrated one as he turned around and chased after it.
Arya ran at the monster from its side and stabbed her katars at it. It managed to jump to the side and was about to escape in a different direction when Arya threw one of her daggers, which dug into its neck. Another shriek followed. Jack, who had caught up now, swung his claymore towards it once again. The creature tried to use its long tail as a shield, but Jack managed to stop his attack on its path right before he hit it. The monster, which was now bleeding profusely from the injury on its neck, took that opportunity to run between Jack’s legs again and created distance between it and Arya.
However, a new opponent was had now appeared in its way. Kay was standing in front of the Black Gorgon Gland with her hand stretched out and a leisurely expression on her face. White mist formed around her arm and consolidated into a dense fog in front of her palm. The monster tried escaping between her legs the same way it had done to Jack twice, but the thick white fog suddenly shot out from Kay’s hand at extraordinary speed and impaled its head, killing it immediately.
Everybody stopped moving and looked at the now-dead monster. I could only marvel at her power. Abigail also seemed to be visibly surprised at Kay’s display. After a few seconds of silent shock, we started running towards the others.
When we arrived, Jack and Arya were busy showering Kay with compliments.
“—Amazing. That must have been your Talent, right? It looked powerful.” Jack said as he strapped his claymore to his back.
Arya nodded her head. “I had been wondering why you didn’t need a weapon. Now I know why. That was so cool~.”
“Mm,” Kay mumbled. The fog had disappeared by now, and the body of the Black Gorgon Gland was lying on the ground, covered with its own blood. Kay walked up to it and turned it over. She looked up at Abigail. “The stomach, right?”
Abigail looked unsure at Kay’s question at first, but realization dawned upon her face. “Ah, yes. It should be in the stomach.”
Kay grabbed a knife that she had on her belt unceremoniously began cutting open the stomach of the body. Abigail and the others seemed a bit shaken at the sight of its intestines falling out, but Kay showed no reaction. She pulled open the hole she had created with her hand and looked around inside with the knife. After searching around for a bit, she turned around and looked at me.
“I can’t find it. Where is its stomach?”
I stared at her incredulously. “…Why are you asking me?”
She raised her eyebrows. “You had hunted these before.”
“Yes, but I’ve never cut any of them open before. They’re not worth it. It’s not like they have much meat on them or anything.”
The others gave me odd looks.
“…Not that I would ever eat monster meat.”
“Why not? It’s not that bad.”
Now it was Kay’s turn to be looked at oddly. Thank god that there are weirdoes worse than me in this world.
I coughed lightly and hunched down beside the body. “Let me have a look,” I said and pulled out two arrows from my quiver. I’d long gotten over my fear of blood and gore, so this wasn’t a problem for me. My hands got sticky from all of the blood, but by using the two arrows, I could look around inside its body. After looking around for a while, I furrowed my brows.
“Unless this guy has a really messed up liver, I’m pretty sure this is the stomach,” I said as I used the arrows like a pair of tweezers to widen the hole.
“But there’s nothing there.” Kay pointed out.
Both me and Kay looked at Abigail.
“Are we sure that it ate the crystal?” I asked her.
She nodded her head confidently. “Yes, that’s what they told me.”
“Do monsters, like, defecate?” Arya asked.
“I don’t know…” I answered, but my eyes widened in realization. “But even if they don’t, it might be further down in the intestines.”
I motioned for Kay to cut up more the body so that we could reach the intestines. I ended up having to stick almost my whole arm in to find ad look around inside the intestines. After a while, I managed to find the red crystal that we’d been told about. Both the crystal and my arms were covered in blood and gunk, so I had to hold onto it by myself.
“So, what should we do with this?” Jack said and kicked at the body of the monster after we had found the crystal.
“We can just leave it there,” Abigail answered. “Either the teachers will take care of it later, or it will become food for another monster from another mission.” She looked at the mutilated body with poorly disguised revulsion, and then at me and Kay’s bloodied clothes. “We should be going now. If we hurry, we might be able to make it back first and get extra points.” She finished.
Everyone else agreed, and we started running back in the direction from where we started. We ended up running relatively slowly because of me, but we still made it back in almost ten minutes. When we did, we saw Mr. Basara talking with some of the teachers that managed the Group Subjugation Engagements classes. Mr. Basara smiled as we approached him, but his smile turned into a grimace when he saw me and Kay’s disheveled appearance.
“What happened to you?” He asked, seriously.
“The Black Gorgon Gland had eaten our mission objective, so we had cut it open to retrieve it,” Abigail answered deliberately.
Mr. Basara’s eyebrows shot up in surprise, and he turned towards one of the other teachers.
“Seriously? Please don’t tell me you gave my other students missions like these.”
The teacher looked embarrassed. “One of the other teams got the same mission…But it is good that your students get experience.”
Mr. Basara sighed heavily and covered his face with his hand. “But a Black Gorgon Gland?! You do realize that I have to teach these guys during the coming week? The whole class will be disrupted if those guys smell like garbage for all that time.” He pointed at the teacher severely. “You guys better pay up for purification bath bombs.”
“…We have a few in storage. I’ll hand them to you later.”
Mr. Basara nodded his head, appeased. He turned back to us.
“You guys are the first team to make it back. Good job. And congratulations on dealing with the Black Gorgon Gland without falling prey to its little surprise.”
“Thank you. But it’s thanks to Kim that we could deal with it without any problems. He warned us about the tail.” Abigail answered.
Mr. Basara looked surprised as he turned to me. “Really? I don’t think we’ve covered the Black Gorgon Gland in class yet, but I guess that’s about what you’d expect from the second-place scorer on the Ethereal Beast Analysis exam. You must have studied ahead quite a bit. I’ll have to watch your team’s recording later to see how you dealt with it.”
He then stared at the forest behind us. “Looks like the next team has finished.” He patted me on the shoulder and went to meet the other team. “Good job, guys. You can rest here for now while we wait for the other teams.”
I smiled. I felt pretty proud of myself. Whilst I couldn’t do much in the fight itself, I’d still been pretty useful to my team today. I’d had to make sure to work hard in the future so that I could keep on supporting my team in the future.