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Staring at the qi beast that was in front of him but still quite far away, Tom couldn’t help but frown and feel a bit puzzled. This was because what he was looking at was basically just an orange blob, one that had a diameter of 50cm.

He was legitimately surprised when he saw it because he hadn’t read about it when he was made to study the Cardinal clan’s records on common qi beasts found in the Tainted Forest and because in a way, it resembled a single celled organism, though it was a bit different to what Tom was familiar with, in ways other than just its size.

“What is that?” asked Tom, though even as he did, he began making his own assessment on the creature.

The most noteworthy thing about it of course, was the fact that it was basically just a formless gelatinous mass; however, Tom was able to make some deeper observations upon seeing it. Firstly, he was able to conclude that the beast was slow, its max speed likely topping out at about 3 miles per hour and secondly, he noted that it seemed to be able to freely change its shape, sometimes travelling along in a uniform blob form and sometimes spreading out parts of itself flat against the ground, as though it was seeking something out or feeling its surroundings.

“It’s an Amoeba qi beast” replied Adam.

“Though some people give them other names; such as, blobs, slimes, gooeys or gelatons”

“It looks odd” remarked Lance, who had never seen or heard of anything like this before either.

“Well, I suppose it is odd. After all, it’s basically just a formless gooey mass” replied Adam, who, realising that Tom and several of the others didn’t know anything about this particular qi beast, decided to take the opportunity to inform them about some of its characteristics.

“Interestingly, although they have no eyes and seem to travel aimlessly, tests have confirmed that they can sense the presence of living things and move towards them, it being suspected that they do this through qi sensing abilities. However, this seems to be a bit of a double edged sword to them because they’ll move towards something regardless of the danger it poses towards them”

“Is it dangerous?” asked Tom, wanting to hear about what was most important.

“Erm, not really. They move slowly so you can easily keep your distance from them but because of the way they eat, if they get on you, it can be quite bad. Also, since they basically move soundlessly, they’re incredibly deadly if they catch you sleeping. Though I suppose any qi beast is deadly if they can get near you when you’re asleep”

 “And how do they eat?” asked Lance, intrigued, to an Adam who was happy to explain.

“Well, as you can see, Amoeba qi beasts don’t have mouths, so, instead of biting and swallowing their prey, as other creatures do, they actually envelop them within their bodies. After they do this, they then start dissolving their prey, digesting the physical body and sucking the qi out of them”

“It might interest you to hear though that this isn’t just limited to animals, nor is it limited to living beings. They are known to frequently digest spirit herbs and are also known to move towards cultivating resources, such as qi stones”

“Now, going back to their eating, although their ability to digest prey and suck the qi out of them varies among different types of Amoebas and Amoebas of different sizes and strengths, with some being particularly corrosive and difficult to get off, even the weakest can still be deadly to many creatures. This is because anything that gets enveloped and trapped inside their bodies, unless they know qi techniques or are lucky, are unlikely to survive”

“Of course, like I said, because of how slowly they move, they aren’t considered very dangerous and you can easily just keep your distance from them, however, if you are going to fight them in close combat, it’s easy for them to make contact with you. When that happens, if it’s a type which is particularly sticky, it can be difficult to get them off and they’ll take the opportunity to spread out over you and start trying to digest you. Luckily though, or unluckily in some circumstances, it’s usually a pretty slow process”

“So, is it easy to kill?” asked Tom.

Throughout the explanation, Tom and the others who didn’t know much about Amoeba qi beasts, listened on with interest, however, what they really wanted to know,  what they considered the most important information, was how dangerous it was and how to kill it and Adam’s previous answer to this was a bit roundabout and didn’t really answer the question. After all, it was all well and good to say that a qi beast wasn’t dangerous if you stayed away from it, but then again, you could say that about all qi beasts.

“Yes and no. It’s a bit situational thing but at the moment I can say it would be difficult for anyone other than me and Marcus to take it out. You see, although it’s no real threat to you, nor to any of us, due to the very nature of their bodies, most physical attacks against them cause negligible damage. Plus, they can even use qi in a limited fashion to help repair their own bodies, so, if a body strengthening cultivator such as yourself were to cut them with a sword or stab them with a spear, they could just reform their bodies”

“Now of course, it’s not a completely hopeless thing. Although difficult and time consuming, it is still possible to kill them with just physical attacks and there are still some other methods body strengthening cultivators or even just regular people can employ to deal with them. For instance, they have proven to be weak to extremes of heat, so, if you raise or lower their temperature enough, you can kill them. There are also some alchemical formulas that they are particularly susceptible to”

“Unfortunately, there isn’t really a way for anyone below the realm of qi expansion to lower their temperature, so, that isn’t a method you would be able to employ. Likewise, although we have some flint and it’s a dry day, we wouldn’t really be able to make a big enough fire to kill it, at least not quickly anyway. Perhaps if we were able to alight many different branches and burned it from all sides, but that would take who knows how long. And as for the alchemical formulas, well, none of us purchased any to bring with us. Though that isn’t something you should do anyway because you’d just be throwing money away”

“I see. So, it would be difficult for me to kill it and if I were to try and do so, it would just be putting me at risk” stated Tom.

“Exactly” said Adam.

“Hmm, but you also said that it would be difficult for anyone other than you or Marcus to kill it. Considering what you’ve already told us, shouldn’t the same restrictions affect the two of you? Would you care to elaborate on that?” asked Tom, wanting understand the strange Amoeba creature’s weaknesses as best as possible.

“Yes, well, that’s the other big weakness of Amoeba qi beasts. Although they can absorb qi from living beings and use it to a certain extent, they are also quite weak to qi based attacks. Whenever someone or something uses a qi based attack on them, unlike with a non-qi based attack, it’ll actually deal effective damage to them, damage that they find difficult to repair. Damage that seems to affect both their physical body and their life-force itself”

“Plus, when using a qi based attack, any part of their body that is blasted away will lose any sense of life and become unable to re-join the main body or take independent action. Essentially it’ll become inert. Dead. This is why other than me or Marcus, no one else here will be able to easily dispatch the Amoeba in front of us” explained Adam.

“Hmm, but I should probably mention that although the one we see in front of us is nothing to be concerned about, it is actually meant to be relatively small and weak compared to other Amoebas. Well, I say that, but, the biggest ones we see in the Mantal Kingdom aren’t much larger than this one here. However, as Amoeba qi beasts get stronger and absorb more qi, they become more and more resistant to qi based attacks, making a battle with them especially difficult and there are legends of ones far bigger, faster and more powerful than the one in front of us now, which supposedly even have high levels of intelligence and are capable of complex thought. If we encountered one of them, not even me and Marcus would be able to deal with it”

“Though that’s nothing you need to be concerned about. They’re just legends and even if they’re true, they’re not something we’ll ever see in our lifetimes. As for the biggest ones that have been seen in the Mantal Kingdom, they’re found in qi stone mines and are generally stronger and more adept and varied in their use of qi than the one in front of us, but, since we don’t actually have one of those mines, I doubt you’ll ever have the opportunity to see one of those either. Plus, the kingdom will quickly kill them to protect the qi stones within and also to prevent powerful, qi resistant Amoeba qi beasts from getting loose”

“I see. Good to know” said Tom, after having taken all of that information in and filing it away in his mind should he ever need to rely on it at a future date.

“But I’m curious about one more thing”

“Oh, what is it?” asked Adam, with his spirits lifted from his earlier dejectedness.

[It seems he’s quite interested in this. To think I thought I wouldn’t be able to show him anything exciting on this trip. I guess my earlier thoughts were a bit premature.

There are plenty of strange and wonderful beasts in the Tainted Forest and this is only his second trip into it. Of course there would still be plenty of things I could show him that would catch his attention and pique his interest.

It’s also good that he’s paying attention and asking questions of his own volition. By listening and learning now, he’ll be able to be safer in his future hunts]

“Can this Amoeba” said Tom, while pointing at the Amoeba qi beast that had finally managed to draw close to them over the course of their conversation.

“Be used to aid cultivation? Or by chance is it worth a lot?” Tom asked.

“Sort of. Amoeba qi beasts can, of course, be used in qi furnaces to help extract the qi from them, so, they already have more value than ordinary things and they also have a couple of other uses, but, the amount of qi that those in the kingdom and the outskirts of the Tainted Forest can store isn’t that high, which reduces their value and usefulness. The Red Skinned Boars for example are actually a lot more valuable than them. Plus, we don’t really have anything we could store its body in, nor do we have anything to use to scoop it up if we kill it”

“I see. A pity” lamented Tom.

“So, are we going to kill it or just leave it be and continue on?” he said, asking Adam, since there wouldn’t be much to gain from killing it and Adam himself said that only he and Marcus would be able to take it out.

“Hmm, we won’t be able to take it with us, but… yes, we’ll kill it” said Adam after a bit of contemplation.

[There’s no material gain to be had here, but, I can still use this opportunity to show Tom a little more about qi techniques]

“Marcus, will you do the honours?” Adam asked his friend.

“Sure. To be honest, I was getting a little bored. This’ll help me stretch my legs a little” said Marcus as he dismounted from his horse.

“Sorry” apologised Adam. He had invited Marcus to come with them but so far, aside from when he killed a few weak beasts after they had first entered the forest, Marcus had just had to take on more of a guarding role and was put on the back burner a bit as Adam focused more of his attention on Tom.

“No problem” said Marcus, the tone of his voice indicating that he didn’t really mind it, as he loosened up his shoulders and limbered up, his body a bit stiff from sitting on his horse.

“I’ll have this done in a matter seconds” he said confidently as he looked at the Amoeba qi beast in front of him.

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