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A note from jmj1011995

Ok, I do a few things different in this chapter. I had some feedback a while ago suggesting that Tom should be smarter and more arrogant than what has been shown, so, i've tried to incorporate that into this chapter a bit. In fact, I myself felt that i probably made him appear a bit too mellow and i think a part of the problem has been that i haven't really given him the chance to show off any of his personality. Anyway, i hope this chapter fleshes him out a bit and gives him more of a presence in the story.

Ray, seeing the blue devil beetle flying over towards where he, Tom and the horses were, started to panic.

“Ah crap, we have to do something” he said, panicked.

The blue devil beetle, which was stronger than him, was barrelling towards his direction and had already passed Rowan and the others, meaning there was no one there to stop it. As much as he didn’t like it, there was nothing he could do about it. The blue devil beetle was coming towards him and he would be the one who had to deal with it.

[I wanted to be a part of bringing it down, but not like this. Shit, the wagon. Shit Shit Shit, the horses. Fuck, I have to move them]

“Tom, quickly, we have to move the horses” said Ray as he turned to look at Tom.

Although Ray was panicky at this unexpected turn of events, Tom remained calm. He actually sighed in disappointment at what had transpired.

[Look at them, floundering around like headless chickens. Being around them has reminded me of being around Jacob and my current weakness has been making me misjudge their strength. I’ve made myself biased and set my expectations of them too high. In truth, they’re not like Jacob. They’re not strong. A mere bug is causing them this much difficulty. A mere bug is causing Ray this much worry]

“What are you?” Ray asked as Tom took off the shield that was on his left arm.

“Showing you how it’s done” he said arrogantly.

“Now slow it down for me” he instructed.

“Wha-“

Ray didn’t get time to finish his thought because the blue devil beetle was fast approaching and had nearly reached them. He quickly moved forward, trying to create more space behind him in order to protect the horses, and raised his polearm. He wanted to slow down its advance and ward it off by striking at its head.

He could see Rowan and the others behind it, running after it, but, they clearly weren’t going to catch up. He wasn’t sure what Tom was doing, but, he hoped that he could slow it down enough to give the others time to reach it, or, at least stop it from smashing into the horses behind him.

The blue devil beetle didn’t stop when it saw Ray in front of it. It continued forward and ended up clashing into his weapon. Ray’s polearm only hit against the side of its head, however, with the speed and force with which it was moving forward, it actually created a slightly deeper cut than Pike had. This was still fairly negligible, but, what happened next wasn’t.

Although Ray wasn’t really able to harm the blue devil beetle, after his weapon glanced off the beetle’s head, it got caught against its body. Ray was by no means able to withstand the forward force of the blue devil beetle’s momentum and was quickly knocked down, with his weapon cracked and skin torn from the palms of his hands; however, he was able to slow it down substantially.

When Ray had stood to block it and tried to withstand its forward momentum, even though he was knocked down, he was successful in both slowing it down and also forcing it to turn to the side slightly, away from the wagon and most of the horses.  Nevertheless, it continued on and there were still a couple of horses in front of it.

The blue devil beetle moved forward, ramming into two horses. Ray could hear the sick crunch of bones and pained yells from the considerably weaker horses that couldn’t withstand the force of the blow. Both of their bodies contorted unnaturally as they fell down to the ground and the other horses, at least those not tied to the wagon, ran away in terror.

It was at this moment that Tom made his move. While Ray was at the front and had his attention focused on the blue devil beetle, Tom had climbed onto the back of the wagon, unsheathed his sword and also picked up one of the two slime glands they had retrieved from the giant velvet worm.

At first, Tom had only intended slash open the slime bag over the top the blue devil beetle’s head, with the intention to glue its front wings in place and stop it from putting them back down to cover its back, but, since it had changed trajectory and was no longer approaching him head on, this was no longer possible. However, as the saying goes, when one door closes, another one opens. By turning its side to Tom, Tom was presented with the opportunity to directly jump onto its back.

Taking this opportunity, Tom jumped from the wagon, with a slime bag in his left hand and sword in his right; the force of his jump made the wagon creak and roll slightly, dragging the few horses that were tied to it.

Luckily, even though the blue devil beetle was no longer heading directly for the wagon, it was still passing close by it. This made it easy for Tom to jump onto its back and when he did so, he landed with his sword in a reverse grip, thrusting down into the back of the beetle.

As he was doing all this, Tom began to feel the excitement that a good fight would always bring him. He hadn’t felt this way before when he had been assaulted in Hill city, because at that time the emotion he was overwhelmingly feeling was anger, nor did he feel it earlier when facing off against the Red Eyed Wolves, because they didn’t pose any real challenge to him, however, the Blue Devil Beetle he was facing off against now was legitimately more powerful than his current form and would prove a tough foe to bring down. Nevertheless, despite his excitable mood, Tom spared a thought in his mind to criticise the efforts of Rowan, Harrison and the others.

[How foolish. When the beetle opened its wings to help itself escape, it also presented you with one of your best opportunities to harm it. Its hard front wings form a protective shell over the back of its body but underneath it is considerably softer. If you had reacted fast enough, you would have been able to severely harm it by attacking this exposed area]

While thinking this, Tom landed onto the back of the blue devil beetle and his sword pierced down into its body. There was still resistance and since Tom was only at the 5th level of body strengthening it didn’t pierce down that far, however, it went in far enough for Tom to secure himself on the beetle’s back.

After landing on the beetle’s back, it was time for Tom to enact his original plan. He’d found himself in an advantageous position by getting onto its exposed back and would be able to deal significant damage to it, however, he still wished to use the glue-like slime on its wings. Not only would it prevent the blue devil beetle from closing its protective front wings, but, it would also prevent it from flapping its back wings, thus preventing it from flying and moving as fast. If he could accomplish this, then it would be unable to protect its vulnerable exposed back area and Rowan and the others would be able to quickly catch up to it.

Feeling itself being injured by Tom’s sword, the blue devil beetle desperately started shaking its body from side to side, trying to shake him off, and tried to close its wings. However, despite its best efforts, Tom was able to hold on and throw the slime bag forward.

The slime bag impacted upon the back of the blue devil beetle and the glue-like slime splashed out over both its wings. Tom’s efforts had proven successful as the beetle became unable to flap its hind wings and the slime had glued its front wings in place, unable to fully close over its back.

The blue devil beetle that had already been making efforts to shake Tom off its back started violently thrashing about now that its wings had been glued in place.

Tom found it became increasingly difficult to stay on the beetle’s back. He was being thrown from side to side. Suddenly, his sword came loose and he was thrown from the back of the beetle.

Tom landed on the ground, hard, and started rolling. When he came to a stop and his view was no longer spinning, he could see the blue devil beetle over him, with one of its legs about to come down on his face. He quickly rolled to the side, avoiding the incoming threat and attempted to get away from the wildly rampaging beast.

Luckily, at this moment, after having been slowed down by Ray and then again by Tom, Rowan and the others had finally caught up to the blue devil beetle and were ready to re-join the action.

“Good job Tom!” shouted Rowan cheerily. She had seen everything that Tom had done while she was running over and was thoroughly impressed.

[Yeah Yeah, just get on with it already. I’ve already done half your job for you] thought Tom.

Although Rowan was impressed by Tom’s actions, he wasn’t impressed by hers. He realised it was his own fault for overestimating her abilities, but, nevertheless, he was feeling annoyed and his patience was wearing a bit thin. After all, despite being the weakest member of the group, his contribution to this fight was already the greatest.

Rowan and the others started to engage the blue devil beetle, but, once again they were doing it haphazardly and were failing to take advantage of its exposed back. They were attacking its legs again, a strategy that was working, but, seeing this, Tom couldn’t help but speak up.

“Pike! Avery! Lance! Everyone! Drop your weapons, grab a leg each and pull” he ordered.

A few of them were slow to react; however, Pike and Avery immediately followed Tom’s orders, closely followed by Lance. They rushed forward, each grabbing a leg and starting to pull. The benefits of what they were doing immediately showed as the blue devil beetle’s movements became restricted. With its wings stuck and three of its legs being pulled, the beetle had great difficulty moving.

Seeing the effect Avery, Pike and Lance were having, the others quickly wizened up and moved forward to do the same. There were of course, only six legs and therefore, only six people had to move forward to grab a leg. In the end, this left only Tom and Rowan still standing with their weapons out, with the others each holding a different one of the beetle’s legs.

“Ok, Rowan, kill it” said Tom.

“Yeah” Rowan nodded in response.

Rowan proceeded to move to the back of the struggling, but restrained beetle and then started to stab into its exposed back. Since its front wings were stuck open and no longer provided it protection on its back, Rowan’s sword strikes were able to create large, noticeable wounds as she stabbed into the beetle. However, even though she was able to stab into it, it didn’t look like it would die any time soon.

“Don’t you have any martial skills to make this go faster? You’re at the 1st level of qi expansion after all” said Tom, a bit annoyed with how long it was taking.

“No, I left on the day I broke through. I haven’t practiced any qi techniques yet” Rowan replied apologetically.

Haa” sighed Tom, before moving to the front of the beast.

“You know, Lance actually had it right at the start. The weakest part of the whole thing is inside its own mouth” he said as he thrust his sword into the mouth of the restrained blue devil beetle.

Even though he had thrust his sword halfway in the mouth of the blue devil beetle, it was still struggling and its pincer like mandibles were still trying to bite at him.

Tom took a step back, raised his leg and then kicked the pommel of his sword, forcing the blade deeper into the beetle’s mouth until only the hilt was still showing. This seemed to have done the trick as the beetle’s struggling died down, only twitching slightly and jerking its legs.

“Woah” said Harrison as he accidently ripped off the beetle leg he was holding and stumbled backwards with it.

“Hot damn”

“Holy shit“

“Wow”

The others couldn’t help but exclaim at what had happened.

“Whew. Well, since it’s not reacting to that, I think Tom got it” said Harrison.

“Yeah, I guess you got the killing blow” said Rowan to Tom while she was still on the back of the blue devil beetle. She had been continuing to attack its exposed back and had made numerous wounds, but, even still, it was clear that it was Tom’s actions that had finally finished it off.

“I have to say, you’ve gotten rather strong, Tom” she said.

Tom only gave an awkward smile at her words.

[No… you’re wrong] he thought, his head completely cooled down from his earlier excitement during the fight.

[I’m weak… far too weak. You are too. We all are or a mere bug wouldn’t have caused us this many problems.

I have so far to go, yet I’ve barely taken my first steps. I need to get stronger]

Tom’s eyes tightened as a new sense of resolution was born in his heart. The fight with the blue devil beetle had once again reminded him that he was nowhere near to accomplishing his goal and that before he even came close to accomplishing it, he’d probably face countless dangers along the way. The only thing he could do, was, with a renewed vigour, continue to arduously cultivate and develop his strength.

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A note from jmj1011995

The next chapter will be released on Xmas.


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jmj1011995

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