Meanwhile, in a location directly at the North of the hunters' squad, Sleek was finally out of the forest. It was a relief to him, who had spent the major part of his new life in either the forest or Ronta. But what he had discovered was a desert. And how the desert was merging with the forest baffled the poor rat.
So this I a desert. Great. But just one little thing. If I step back for around a hundred feet into the forest, I am surrounded by fresh trees, living insect, all the stuff found in a healthy forest. Now I walk my hundred feet again, this time toward the desert. And now, I can't find anything living at all. Just some bones lying nearby. Huge bones of a snake I would say, a huge snake, more than 5 meters at least. But that's not the problem, the problem is what is between those two points. The vegetation and animals magically disappear progressively. We go quickly from a lot of trees to small bushes and finally nothing. How is that possible? Did the god who created this world at any concept of a natural environment? You know, a progression between two biomes?
It's like the heat. Inside the forest, the air is a little cold, fresh, filled with humidity sometimes. The desert is really hot. And I can even find a place where half of my body is cold the other half is burning. Aria definitely had messed up this world. And I am not even surprised.
But what is better, a forest or a desert? I guess inside the forest there will be more little animals but my spells are not improving. I guess this time they need a real threat and true monsters, not animals. And inside the desert, only the strongest survive. That is a little scary but I don't think I am that weak. And the wind is a lot stronger than in the forest, so my disease will be spread far and wide. No one will be able to escape it. Let's go farming some monsters then.
And yes, my [Create Disease] is definitely working. Sometimes I stumble on some small snakes who have already died. Scorpions and other insects are not spared but they are very hard to find, I only noticed one and it was because he died on a brown rock. Otherwise, with the color of their skeleton matching the desert, they would be a huge threat to any travelers.
As expected, my lack of thirst and hunger is very advantageous. Even inside such a burning desert, I don't need to find water. And each time I spot one of those oases, I just launch a spell and quickly leave. Even if I don't need it, the more powerful monsters will clearly take control of such area and I don't want to meet one of them. Or maybe I do? Well, let's try and see what happened.
So I get closer to the nearby oasis. And see absolutely nothing. No animals, no birds, no insects. If it doesn't mean that a huge threat is guarding this place, I don't know what that means. I use the cover of the very few trees to approach the water. Still no reaction. Even if I was in the range of using my spell on it, nothing was moving. Maybe I was wrong and it is just void of life for a short moment. Anyway, I use 8 instances of [Create Poison]. That should be enough to poison anything who will be drinking this water. But even there, nothing was even making a sound. Better be careful, so I took the exact same road to leave.
Now that my MP pool is low, I should probably stop spreading my disease. Not that it achieves anything but you never know. One more time I watch all my attributes on the System and they were not improving.
I was walking in the night when I got a feeling that something had changed. And yes, a lot had changed, my early poisoning was useful. I gained two levels, and my attributes all improved a little. I attained HP: 87/87 and MP: 119/119. And most importantly, I achieve level 7 on [Poisonous Being] and level 1 on [Create Acid]. I suppose that replace my previous poison. I really wonder what I killed and in how much time I did it. Because half a day had passed between the two events.
So I test my new skill. And it is more or less the same than the previous one, except it now has a corrosive property. That's not good I think. That means, if I use it on a bottle of water, will the bottle be destroyed? Because right now, I had a hand full of sand and after activating my spell, the only thing still staying in my hand was the green liquid. I really need to find a gourd or something that can contain water inside it. But where am I supposed to find it in a desert?
Maybe there are people living in it? Still, it leaves the ratman problem. Well, I can wipe them out. But I have to find them first. And except the usual living beings of a desert and the monster, I probably killed, not a lot of activities. And in the night the probability that I stumble into any intelligent being is nearly the same probability that Aria is not totally stupid. Yes, I can trash talk her. That really calms me.
"My prince, I know that you want to hunt the Western King to surpass your two brothers and win the crown. But you know very well that even the Eternal Guard Tompas said that he needs at least 10 of his fellow guards and even he is not assured of winning. We are only twelve and nowhere near the power of the Eternal Guards."
"Rest assured Ahmad, I trust your strength and your vigor. But what Tompas means is an honorable battle. We are here to kill the scorpion, not to have a battle with it. So, of course, we are going to trap it, wither his forces slowly and steadily. Only in that way we have a chance."
"Yes, my prince."
Would you look at that? Finding someone in the night. And apparently a prince, just that. That passive ability to understand any languages is really helpful. But they are coming my way, and there is no hiding spot nearby. I am in the middle of a dune and they will reach the top of it soon enough. I have recharged my MP to a suitable level, 97/119. If a fight will break, I am ready. Only twelve people versus me and my crystals. Finally, I can see a form standing in front of me and it's, sand? A sand man? Give me a dream? So sand elemental, or maybe the genie in the lamp, or a djinn? But after seeing me they are clearly threatened by me and are in formation.
"Who are you, walking on the sand of our empire?"
Ok, let's be peaceful. I have no idea if any of my spells work on something not really alive.
"Sleek, just-just a simple traveler."
"Sleek? What does it mean Ahmad?"
"My prince, I think we should back off and let this traveler pass."
"WHAT? WHY IT IS US THAT SHOULD RETREAT! I AM THE SECOND PRINCE OF THE SAND EMPIRE, SON OF SULIMAN III, THE FIRST WARRIOR OF THIS COUNTRY!"
"Yes my prince, we really need to go."
They are funny, one is clearly pissed and the other is trying to avoid me. What terrible reputation did the ratmen manage to make? Just one sentence from me, and I see most of the escort fearing for their lives while the others are totally confused.
"Sleek, I will le-leave then."
"Yes, make way, let him leave."
"Ahmad, explain yourself, I am your prince! Why are you listening to a stranger and not the one you swore fidelity and loyalty?"
I should really leave, apparently, they are really supposed to follow a strict hierarchy. That sandman will probably be punished. But now that I think about it, maybe they can tell me where I can find any human settlement.
"Sleek, sandman, where is the closest hu-human village?"
"There is a town if you go that way."
He pointed a direction near the South-East I would say. So this is my next destination.
"Ahmad why did.."
"SHUT UP! My prince. Stay quiet Selim."
That follower will definitely be punished. Saying that to his prince, he really has a death wish. But it is a little suspicious, why did he tell me a direction that quickly. Or maybe he just wants to get rid of me and if the humans are their enemies, well it's beneficial for him. He makes the ratman leave, and kill the humans with an external help. Maybe they should reward him. What is the worst case, he points an empty location far away from his empire. So I even get away from them. But I truly wonder what was the western king they were talking about. Did they say it was a scorpion or something like that? How can a scorpion be a king?
It is the first chapter of a very long road in the desert. So prepare your ice, freeze your drinks and enjoy a burning scenery.
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