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127 The Wasteland World - Lurking Underwater

    Daniel and the army of warriors were standing on a hill just a few kilometers away from the defining line for the prohibited land. They were waiting for the scouts to come back, and report the numbers of the monsters that roamed the area.

    Half an hour later, the five scouts started coming back one after the other. They then directly walked towards the leading members of the army, and gave their reports.

    "About ten thousand monsters north-west of the stronghold."

    "An eight thousand strong group to the south."

    "More or less two thousand direction north-north east."

    "Nine hundred between us and the border."

    "Past the border, five thousand more between us and the stronghold."

    "That's a lot of monsters." Said Daniel while looking at the chief hunter. "How do you categorize the monster's strength?"

    The head scholar turned to look at Daniel, and said "From their capabilities.. Minions are worthless goons.. We hunt them for food, Warriors are those who serve as the main force, Leaders are those who are capable of leading hundreds of monsters at the warrior level, Chiefs are those who are able to gain the allegiance of various leaders, and finally, the King.. the one who controls them all."

    "Okay, so.. To which type of monster does your power correspond to?" Asked Daniel in response to the chief hunter's explanation.

    "Usually the tribes leaders are at the chief level. You could consider us past mid-chief level." Responded the strongest of warriors while cleaning and polishing his brand new greatsword.

    Curiosity filled Daniel's mind as he asked "What level of power am I then?"

    "You can be considered near the chief level as well, which is surprising for your age.. I reached the chief level at thirty years of age." Responded the strongest of warriors with a hint of embarrassment.

    The stages of cultivation of the wasteland world were completely different from the stages of Daniel's world of origin, as they did not evaluate one's level by a clear scale of progress in cultivation, but based on their sheer power and ability to command.

    Daniel's level at the moment was close to the chief level.

    For as confusing as the terms were, the levels of strength could be compared with the major stages of Daniel's cultivation. Each major stage corresponded to a level of power.

    For example, Daniel's ninth rank was similar to a late leader, the head hunter's power at the early chief level would correspond to a tenth rank cultivator, while the power of the tribes leaders, which was at the mid or late chief level, would correspond to a eleventh or twelveth rank cultivator.

    It was only after hearing this explanation that Daniel had managed to understand the powers of the monsters he had encountered before.

    The monster he had found in the base of the worshippers of death was at the early chief level, just like the head hunter, and the group of monsters that had devoured it, while the enormous bird which had forced the hunting party to hide, was at the mid chief level.

    "Okay, what' the plan?" Asked Daniel to the members of the triumvirate.

    The chief hunter was the one who was in charge of scouting, and by consequence, to formulate the plan.

    She pointed at the map, and said "We are east from the stronghold. We could fight our way through the two smaller groups of monsters, but we'd risk of attracting the two larger groups north and south. Our best chance is to lead the majority of our warriors to eliminate the group that is roaming between us and the barrier. With a bit of luck, we'll make enough of a ruckus to be able to attract the the attention of the other four largest groups.. They should not come in support of the first group, as they'll probably have orders from the king to stay within the prohibited area and watch the borders, but of course, that doesn't mean that they won't observe us.. We will sneak around the area in a small group of twenty, and enter the stronghold from the west side."

    The group of twenty was composed by the strongest of men, the chief hunter, the head hunter, Gai'ha, elevel chief level warrior from the other tribes, and finally, Daniel.

    Once the battle would start and the monster's attention would be directed at the main force, Daniel and his group of twenty would have exactly two hours to go inside the stronghold, and find informations.

    -----

    Five hours later, Daniel and his small group were already in position. They had managed to avoid the largest groups, and had managed to exterminate the smaller parties before they could shout for support.

    Daniel would immediately store the corpses of the monsters into his ring whenever they ended up killing one in order to avoid them them being discovered, and start a search for them.

    After another half hour, the army of warrior started their assault.

    From the distance, large columns of fire could be seen elevating in the air.

    Five minutes later, two different scouts approached Daniel's small group from the sides. They approached the chief hunter and said "The two armies have noticed the ongoing battle."

    The chief hunter turned to look at the group and said "Okay, it's time to go. Stay low and into the forest. We don't know if there are bird monsters scouting the area, and if we get caught behind enemy lines, we are screwed."

    Daniel and the rest of the chief level cultivators dashed at a moderate speed while trying to keep themselves hidden, until finally, after ten minutes of running, they found themselves in front of a large dark lake.

    This lake was about three kilometers wide, and right in the middle, just a bit further than a kilometer from the shore, was a small island. On this island, a small castle made out of white stone had been built.

    The first thing Daniel noticed, was the lack of corruption on the stone, and grass that surrounded the castle, which was an extremely positive sign.

    The second thing he noticed, was the movement within the black and murky waters.

    Of one thing he was sure.. Something alive was within the waters.

    "We should enter the water and swim into the island.." Said the chief hunter in a low voice.

    "No!" Daniel suddenly burst out.

    "Why?" Asked the chief hunter in surprise.

    "There is something in the water.. I can sense it moving." Responded Daniel with a grim tone. He then added "You can't use your aura to walk in the air, but I can use my ki to. You should wait here."

    The chief hunter looked at Daniel sideways and said "There is no need. The monsters don't go this close to the island, and my scouts haven't reported any sign of movement within the water. Also, there is no way I'm letting you go alone."

    "If I'm right, we might end up being attacked underwater. And even if we'll survive, we will definitely alert the monster's armies!!" Whispered Daniel in anger.

    "We didn't accept coming here without expecting to fight." Said the strongest of warriors from behind Daniel.

    "Fuck.. I could take two of you in with me.. But stepping in the air in three would make us really visible.." Daniel tried to negotiate, but neither of the group members was willing to remain behind.

    "We are all going." Exclaimed the head hunter.

    "Fine.."

    Slightly dispirited by the stubbornness shown by the old warriors, Daniel approached Gai'ha, and whispered "Stay close to me.. If something bad happens.. I'll get you out."

    Before Gai'ha had the chance to respond, Daniel followed the chief hunter, the strongest of warriors and the head of the hunters near the shore of the lake.

    As Daniel arrived, the other members of the group went into the murky water, and dived right under the surface. Their objective was to cross the entire kilometer by swimming underwater.

    Daniel could see the surrounding few hundreds of meters, so he could feel the presence of the monsters roaming the water.

    For the next ten minute, Daniel prayed that they would not be found out, but when one of the warriors failed to hold his breath in, and let a loud series of bubbles to the surface, Daniel noticed that a few of the surrounding monsters had changed in their trajectory, and were moving towards them.

    Daniel swam towards Gai'ha, and grabbed her wrist. He then swam further from the warrior that had made the noise.

    As he managed to get far enough from him, Daniel felt the sudden movement of the water that came from the spot where the warrior was swimming, and then, nothing.

    He noticed that the few monsters that had approached the warrior, had gone back to their usual route after a few moments.

    When the two of them arrived into the area were the warrior had been attacked, Gai'ha felt something hairy brush against her shoulder.

    She turned around in shock, and what she saw, was the head of the warrior that had been attacked a few moments ago. She had swam right towards it while busy looking around, and the head had ended up tangled with her clothes.

    Due to the shock, Gai'ha couldn't help but scream underwater, and try to untangle the detached head from her clothes, causing way more chaos than the late warrior ever produced.

    The surrounding population of underwater monsters turned towards their group, and started to rapidly swim toward them.

    A chaotic underwater fight begun a few moments later.

    The underwater monsters were at Daniel's level, and a few had already reached the chief level. Unfortunately, the fact that they were underwater gave them an advantage against Daniel's group.

    Daniel was the one who was faring the best amongst them, as he was the only one who could feel the monsters beforehand.

    Whenever a monsters went towards him, he would move Gai'ha behind him, and he would attack in the best way he could. Then, he would put the carcass into his ring before it could attract more monsters.

    The moment the group had been attacked was past halfway through the crossing, so they could not retreat. Instead, they kept swimming towards the island while also trying not to get torn apart by the jaws hidden in the dark.

    Five minutes later..

    *Phuaaahh* *Cough* *Cough*

    Daniel and Gai'ha appeared on the shore of the small island. The escape had caused them to swallow a fairly large amount of water, so, Daniel was also forced down on his knees.. coughing the black liquid-like essence of corruption he had swallowed along with the water.

    When the two managed to get back up on their feet, they looked at those who had managed to get out of the water.

    In front of them, were the strongest of warriors, who was currently missing an arm, the head hunter, which had two arch of teeths that perforated the side of her body, the head hunter which was surprisingly unscathed, and five more warriors.

    Ten people had died in the water.

    Despite the heavy losses, the eight people weren't happy to see Daniel and Gai'ha come out of the water. In fact, they barely noticed them. What they were busy looking at, was what was past the water.

    Daniel slowly turned to look at the other side of the water, and there, he saw at least six hundred monsters. Their behaviour was nothing like one would expect a monster's behaviour to be, in fact, they did not act in a frenzy, nor did they attack each other. They were simply observing them..

    At the front of these monsters, were five humanoid individuals covered in black hooded robes. Their faces were hidden in darkness.

    Daniel couldn't feel the power of these monsters from that far, and the monsters didn't appear willing of entering the water either. But of one thing Daniel was certain..  Not finding what they were looking for.. Would mean big trouble.
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