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24 History Repeats Itself

    For the following ten hours, Daniel and the rest of his party hunted down every single one of these half meter long scorpions the very moment they left their nests.

    The behaviour of Steel-back Scorpions was unusual when compared to normal scorpions. In fact, they weren't solitary hunters. They were eusocial instead, and formed colonies under a single higher ranking scorpion king. The scorpion king was a variation of the more common Steel-back Scorpion, and was called Diamond-back Scorpion.

    The reason why this particular species of scorpions was too dangerous to be left alone, was that these colonies were in constant war with one another. Their territoriality and aggressiveness forced them into constant conflict.

    These bloody battles would not only mean the reduction amongst numbers of colonies, but also the strengthening of the winning ones.

    Ranked beasts evolved by consuming beast cores of other beasts after all.

    This situation had forced Phyrri's hunting groups to set a periodical hunting seasons, with the purpose of lessening the numbers of Steel-back Scorpions in the area.

    This hunting season was so popular, that the encampment that would be otherwise filled with miners and slaves, would be vacated, and occupied by the large amount of hunters and mercenaries instead.

    Unfortunately, this particular hunting season had started sooner than predicted, with the consequence of many losses amongst miners and slaves.

    After ten full hours, the numbers of scorprions the party had hunted was close to a hundred.

    The two siblings were an amazing duo of hunters. Fiora was experienced with her bolas and always managed to tangle the prey long enough for her brother Legoh to halve them with his greatsword. They alone had killed close to twentyfive scorpions.

    Garth's precision with throwing spears was impressive. Before the scorpions could hope to rush at him, or sometimes even see him, they would find their bodies being skewered by one of his throwing spears. The only downside was having to recover his weapons, and sometimes, stop his hunt to resharpen the heads. His preys numbered twentythree.

    Sella, with his eighteen scorprions, was the least successful hunter, but as odd as it may sound, he was also the most skilled at is. His arrows would never miss a target and could easily perforate inbetween the scorpriosn keratinous mandibles. Unfortunately, like Garth, he needed to recover his arrows after the prey died. What slowed him the most though, was waiting for the scorpions to bleed to death, since differently from Garth, he could not finish them from up close.

    Unluckily for the scorpions, the only parts hard as steel, were in fact, their abdomen and heads. The reason for this particular caracteristic was, at least for Daniel, hilarious. These beasts had evolved by hunting their own kin, so they needed a back armor resistant enough to stand a strike of their own stingers.. as they would often be struck by their enemies, and sometimes, strike themselves by mistake.

    These scorpions would usually lose this major flaw after their advancement to the third rank, as they would not only gain a stronger armor, an additional set of legs, and a better control of their bodies, but also, a rank 3 beast level intelligence.

    Daniel was a full sub-stage higher than the beasts they were hunting, which made the hunt a walk in the park for him. So he took this hunt as a way to practice his knives throwing abilities instead.

    Every thrown knife would either strike the base of the tail, the soft jaws and sometimes, even the beady eyes of the scorpions, causing them to make a shrill scream and panic before being finished by a rapid slash of his sword.

    *shluh*

    Daniel removed the beast core from the poison gland of the last scorpion he had killed, while the rest of the group prepared for the travel back.

    Once again, Daniel got to witness the mystical workings of the spacial bag. This hunt had not only been Daniel's first hunting trip, but also the first time he had come into contact with an item enchanced with spacial magic.

    Noticing Daniel's surprise the first time he saw the spacial bag, Yala gave him a brief explaination on how enhanced items and spacial magic worked.

    Aside from that, all Yala did was follow the party quietly. She would never intervene in one of their fights. The only thing she seemed interested in doing, was picking the plants and flowes that grew on the rocky ground.

    It was early evening when the party decided to head back to camp. The group's morale was very high. No major accident had happened, and their hunt had been very productive.

    Unfortunately, things not always go as planned. The moment they picked their bags and started to head back, they heard a slight tremble coming from the wall to their left.

    Their heads turned in unison, but all they saw, was the usual large wall. The tremble grew stronger the more time passed, until suddenly, a crack appeared on its surface. Rocks and pebbles of various sizes detached from the wall and crashed heavily against the ground, ifting small coulds of dust.

    Daniel's eyes opened wide in shock as a shiver run down his spine. He turned towards the rest of the party and shouted "RUN!" But before anyone could react, the wall exploded, making boulders and dust fly everywhere.

    The entire party had been swept up by a dense dusty cloud which blinded them completely. The only noise that could be heard was a deafening screeching scream and loud fighting noises.

    Daniel didn't know what to do or where his party members were, so he wasn't able to protect them. Luckily, the loud noises came from in front of him, so he was fairly sure that they were safe.. for now at least.

    The source of the deafening noise was slowly moving, preventing the dusty cloud to settle once and for all, and allow them to recover their vision. It was clear to him that, within the could of dust, two powerful entities were battling.

    Moving at this point was out of the question. All he could do was to stand still and hope that these two battling parties wouldn't notice him.

    A few long minutes passed before the intensity of the battle started to decrease. The dusty cloud started to slowly settle, and Daniel was finally able to see the shapes of the battling monsters.

    One of them had a humanoid shape and stood on two feet, with an height nearing the three meters. The two details that convinced Daniel that he wasn't witnessing a battle between humans, were the two enormous claws placed where a normal person's hands would be, and the thick five meters long tail attached to his lower back.

    The other beast had a more monstruous appearance. Daniel could see a straight and thin body on which dozens of disgusting looking pair of legs grew. Each of these legs were twice as long as the body itself, and were covered in millions of tiny quills.

    At the frontal extremity of this beast's body, a human-like thorax grew. This thorax had no head attached, and Instead, several small mandibles kept closing and opening, as if pushing the food inside the beast's mouth, which was situated right in the middle of his chest. It looked like an enormous centipede with a human thorax attached to its extremity.

    Two extremely long antennaes grew on its shoulders, and right below, were two additional long arms whose estremities looked like sharpened blades.

    Daniel remembered the descriprion he had heard in the tavern, and recognized the first beast as the Commander Steel-back Scorpion. He didn't know what the other beast was, but since it was capable of fighting on par with a rank 4 beast, then it probably was a beast of the fourth rank as well.

    More time passed, and the could of dust had almost completely settled. Daniel could see more clearly now, and was able to notice the state in which beasts were. Two words came to his mind.. 'severely injured'.

    The commander scorpion's armor was covered in deep and cuts which leaked white fatty liquids, and one of its arms was missing entirely. The other creature wasn't doing any better. Various of his thin feet were broken, and its back had been puncutred right in the middle by the scorpion's aculeus.

    Daniel looked around and noticed that the rest of the team was further away. Apparently, they had backed away the moment the wall had exploded. They then remained at the edges of the dusty fog, waiting for him to come out.

    The other members of the party was Daniel standing there, but before they could feel relieved, they noticed the two beasts battling right behind him.

    The battle's pace was becoming sluggish, as the two beasts's exhaustion increased. Unfortunately, Daniel's cover had almost completely disappeared, so, while still afraid of being noticed, he tried to back away slowly. The rest of the party had already recognized the Commander Steel-Back Scorpion and went into hiding.

    The moment Daniel moved he was immediately noticed by the commander scorpion, which looked at him and let out a furious shrill scream.

    It was during this moment of distraction that the centipede's thin legs moved. The beast rushed at the Commander scorpion and threw itself against its body. The moment the centipede landed on the scorpion it quicky caged its entire body with its thin legs.

    The scorpion reacted rapidly and pinched two of the centipede's legs with its remaining claw, tearing them right off. Its long tail also punctured its enemy's back again and again, in hope to make it retreat, but the centipede never let go. It instead tightened its hold around the scorpion's body, keeping it still while it tried to tear the scorpion's head to pieces with its strong mandibles.

    This was Daniel's chance. He turned around and started to run away from the two battling beasts, but before he could go far, the scorpion smashed his tail on the ground, then again, and again.

    The tail moved faster than Daniel could see, and whenever the tail hit, the ground would tremble. The Commander Steel-back Scorpion was a rank 4 beast, so its hits were rapid and precise. It didn't take long before the ground started to crack.

    The scorpion was an intelligent creature, and knew that it was in a dangerous position. It was injured and it couldn't get out of the centipede's grip. Luckily, it had grown up inside these canyons, and it knew them like it knew its own body.

    The cracks grew wider and wider under the relentless hits of the scorpion's tail. Until finally, the ground started to cave in right underneath the two beasts bodies.

    The cracks had reached way past Daniel's position, so when the ground caved in, Daniel lost his footing and ended up being swallowed by the enormous sinkhole that was created.

    -----

    When Daniel woke up, he found himself in a massive dark cave, laying on his back against solid, yet wet stone. The first thing he noticed after waking up, was a small looking hole on the roof of the cave, through which faint moonlight shined.

    At his feet, he felt the calming feeling of water.

    He got up and tried to gather his bearings. He had been laying on a rock, right at the edge of a small underground lake. He then noticed the familiar colored boulders that had fallen with him, and after a sudden realization, a shiver ran through his spine.

    What Daniel had realized was that, if he had fallen a second earlier, he would have landed heavily against rocks. Instead, he had landed in the lake and had managed to survive, even though he had lost consciousness.

    Daniel could see almost nothing of his surroundings, the only part clear enough, was the small area brightened by the light which were shining through the distant hole on the roof.

    *Clank* *Clak*

    A few rocks fell from the top of a pile of large boulders, making the sound of rock hitting rock reverberate through the entire cave. Daniel had noticed this pile of boulders, and most importantly he had noticed the guey liquids flowing at its base.

    Suddently, one of the large rocks was pushed away, uncovering the large claw of the Commander Steel-back Scorpion.
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