I ended up walking through those corridors for several hours. I encountered various monsters and traps in the gloomy, unlit passages of this temple.
The traps could be anything from pitfalls to hidden darts. I had a few close calls, but I could often spot the traps beforehand.
But the monsters varied a bit more. I encountered several varieties of those snakes that I first confronted, but also several large feline monsters, what looked like a walking ox, and even some real nagas. I killed all of the snakes and a few of the felines that were basically just oversized cats, but as soon as I saw something that felt too threatening, I avoided it.
The corridor that I had initially walked through had split several times, and I only followed the passages where I didn't see anything that looked too dangerous. Nagas, for example, were mid-ranked monsters. I avoided anything that looked like it wasn't a bottom-ranked monster.
However, I realized early on that the sense of smell of some of these monsters might become a problem. Because of this, I covered myself from head to toe with slime and goo from the snakes that I killed. It was disgusting, but it seemed to do the trick.
By making the most out of my Watching Eye ability and the disguising of my smell, spotting these monsters before it was too late wasn't too hard. By now, I could use the ability up to almost seven minutes before I started getting any pains. By using it sparingly, I probably hadn't even reached the half-way point yet.
But I was saddened that I hadn't found anything of value yet. The majority of pathways led to monsters that were too dangerous, so I'd spent a lot of time doubling back up till now. The corridors themselves had nothing of worth in them, and I hadn't found any rooms. Until now, that is.
I was currently walking through one of the few corridors that were safe enough for me, and it turned to the left a few dozen meters ahead of me. I looked through the wall and smiled as I finally saw something that wasn't another corridor. After the corner, a long, wide room opened up with beautiful marble pillars lining the walls. On either side of the entrance stood several beautifully crafted statues that created a pathway all the way to the center of the room, where a large raised platform with an altar on it stood. The statues depicted various figures, each one holding a different kind of weapon in their hands. This room looked important.
My smile quickly disappeared once I saw what laid before the altar. There, next to the marble steps that led to the altar, lay a large tiger with its eyes closed. It had large black fangs and a long beautiful tail. It's appearance immediately reminded me of the Himalayan Blood Toothed Tiger, except this tiger was a dark red color instead of white. The Blood Toothed Tiger was also double the size of this one. But the Blood Toothed Tiger was also a mid-ranked monster; this monster looked like it was a low-ranked monster. But a low-ranked monster was still too dangerous for me.
Suddenly, the tiger opened its eyes and stood up. My body froze as it slowly started walking towards the entrance of the room. Did it smell an enemy? No, that can't be. If it knew an enemy was here, it wouldn't have wasted any time in hunting it down.
But it must have sensed me; otherwise, it wouldn't have gotten up. Perhaps it was curious about the new presence? But none of the other monsters had reacted like this...
No matter the reason, I did not doubt that the tiger would immediately attack me as soon as it spotted me. But running away now might also trigger it to hunt me down. My safest option now was to fight it. But although my arrows could probably kill it, it’d take over a dozen arrows and a lot of time. It would tear me apart long before I had the chance to fire that many arrows.
I looked back through the corridor behind me. About a hundred meters back was a pitfall with spikes in it. If I could trick the tiger into that, I could win. But even if I started running now, the tiger would likely catch up to me. If I was to have any chance at all, I had to slow it down somehow.
The tiger was closing in on the corner. I grabbed an arrow and nocked it. If I were to have any chance, I had to strike just as it turned around the curve. Taking out its eyes would likely slow it down. But what if it could rely on its other senses to make up for it? Despite it being low-ranked, it was the only monster that had noticed me from this far away, after all.
It shared similarities with the Himalayan blood Toothed Tiger. It might share its weakness too. I might not be able to cut off its tail with an arrow, but if I shoot two arrows at the exact the same, it should at least damage its tail quite a bit.
The eyes or the tail? It was a hard decision. One that I might not need to make. I had grown a lot since I first gained the Apollo's Blessing Talent. My magic force had more than doubled since then. Whilst I hadn't tried duplicating one arrow to become four before, I should have enough magic force to do it and guide the arrows where I want. It was the best chance I had.
As I thought about the effect that I wanted, I felt the now-familiar feeling start in my chest and move throughout my arms and into my fingertips. A small light seeped into the arrow, and I was ready.
I kept my sights on the tiger as it approached the corner. I usually didn't use the Watching Eye's ability continuously for such long periods, but I had no choice this time. The tiger took another step. It was only a meter from the corner now. I burrowed my vision into the spots I was aiming for. I couldn't afford missing now. Just before the tiger rounded the corner, I kicked a stone on the ground as hard as I could towards it.
The tiger reacted immediately, baring its teeth as it jumped around the corner, showing me the entirety of its body. It started moving towards me, but I had already let go of my arrow.
The moment the arrow left my bow, it split into four. Two of the arrows moved towards the tiger's eyes — the other two aimed for the same spot at the base of its tail. The distance they had to travel wasn't far. Even though the tiger was quick, it wasn't ready for this attack. Not even a second passed after it had jumped around the corner before two projectiles burrowed into its eye sockets, followed by two more cutting deep into the start of its tail.
I didn't bother looking at the result of my attack. I immediately turned around and started running. One hundred meters. Even with a head start and the monster being crippled, I wasn't sure I could make it. A loud roar resounded from behind me. I heard something slam into a wall, then the movement of the tiger as it chased after me. I reached behind my shoulder and grabbed an arrow as I ran. My heart was beating like crazy as I rushed towards the pit with everything that I was worth. I'd thrown away the bow the moment I started running, so all I had to defend myself with now was this arrow.
Even whilst crippled, I could still hear the tiger closing in on me fast. It was almost upon me when I reached the hole in the floor, easily at least five meters across. I summoned all the strength I could into my legs and jumped. In the air, I spun around and stared at the tiger.
My two arrows stuck out of its eyes like pincushions, and blood covered its face. Despite that, it was roaring like a lion and baring its teeth as it chased after me. But it failed to notice the trap in front of it.
If a monster had been able to display expressions like a human, this was the point when its eyes would have opened wide in surprise.
At the same time that I landed on my bottom on the other side of the pit, the tiger fell down the hole and got impaled by the spikes at its bottom. Blood spurted out as it thrashed around helplessly for a while before it eventually stilled.
I let out a relieved breath as I watched the monster stop moving. I had actually done it. I'd killed a low-ranked monster by myself. Just one of these guys would have required a group of people with guns to kill in my old world, and even then, we usually suffered severe casualties. Even though I had to make use of a trap to do it, this was still a great accomplishment for me.
Belatedly, I got up on my feet again. Looking down at the tiger's body, I couldn't help but let out a small sigh even though I had won. It was a shame that I couldn't retrieve those arrows. I shook my head and walked back to where I'd thrown my bow. After I'd returned the arrow I'd been holding to its quiver and picked up my bow again, I headed towards the room this monster had been guarding.