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42 Rat Attack

 It had been about three and a half days ever since they set off, during these couple of days they had met one or two dangerous situations. In the first one they had met at least one hundred tear one demonic rats. Even though it was easy to deal with one demonic rat, the sheer number was enough to frighten any cultivator in the Zhanje level.

During these three and a half days Taku fumbled about trying to improve his strength, with little success. Here is what he understood so far.

Cultivation was a process whereby one senses natural energy also known as zesa and takes it into their own body, reinforcing one's powers and body.

The body's capacity to bear zesa could be increased with meditation, but was dependent on two factors: talent and effort. Talent however was the dominant factor when it came to cultivation, and only a small percentage of the Gutu have the talent for cultivation.

Taku so far knew two levels of cultivation, each level containing 3 sub levels. These levels refer to the amount of zesa one, determining one's strength. The gap between each sublevel becomes higher the stronger one becomes.

The two levels Taku knew were the Pamamonya Level and the Kusakura level. The three sub levels in Pamamonya were: Tohwe, Zhanje and Tamba. For Kusakura the three sub levels were: Kudyara, Kurima and Kukohwa.

Taku had just started cultivation thus he was at the Tohwe level. Due to lack of experience he could not measure how fast his speed in cultivation was, but he did know that his talent was quite above average.

The coachman was at the Zhanje level but previously he was at the peak of the Tamba level. He regressed due to depression, which was very uncommon but quite possible.

Those with a weak mental fortitude could have their zesa affected by their mental health. Similar to how someone with a heart condition could worsen if they became agitated. With his current skills Taku could take on tier 1 and some tier 2 beasts, but this was a conservative assumption from his end.

Most tier 2 demonic beasts would not pose any threat to most Zhanje level cultivators but these demonic rats were not only dangerous because of their sheer quantity but they also had slight intelligence. These tunnels were rarely used, so no one had ever really thought about eradicating these pesky rodents. In the carriage Taku had an elated expression plastered all over his face. After three days of non-stop drawing he was finally able to draw a full bow and arrow using his soul power.

Even though he achieved such tremendous results in the soul manifestation art, his progress with soul's seals was nothing to be proud of. By now he was only able to draw half of the zesa amplification skill.

At some point he had even thought about giving up and picking it up again after he had completed the mission. So he had to constantly remind himself that he did not have all the time in the world and he needed to use every minute like it was his last. After all Taku was a soldier, who knew when he would face a dangerous situation?

He reached out his hand and smoke began to materialize from his hand and in a couple of breath's it had formed a long bow that was almost as tall as he was. The smile on his face widened almost reaching his ears, he just could not hide the joy that he felt from being able to create a weapon for himself.

He did not know how his weapon would classified since it was not a weapon that came from a black smith, but one that was formed from part of his own soul. If anything ever happened to this weapon while he was using it, if it was ever destroyed, then he would ultimately lose part of his soul. This was an assumption he made on his part but he was confident of his conjecture.

He pulled the bow string and the poured his zesa into his hand and just as his zesa reached the bow string, a glowing red arrow began to form from his hands. Just as he finished forming the arrow he breathed a sigh of relief because he was not too sure that it would work, and just as the arrow dematerialized, he was suddenly struck by a thought.

Taku had formed an arrow that based off his fire affinity but then he remembered that he also had the thunder affinity inside his body as well because of his peculiar soul. He calmed himself down and placed his free hand on the bow string again and as he began pulling, a bright blue light began taking shape from the bow string.

This blue light formed an arrow that in terms of power was slightly lacking when compared to the arrow that was made from his fire attribute. Taku felt slightly more familiar with this arrow than he did with the previous one, it almost felt as if even without the soul tracking seal he would be able to control this arrow.

The advantage of archers in this world was that as long a their zesa did not get depleted, they would have an unlimited number of arrows. The only thing that they required from time to time would perhaps be a new bow. As Taku was basking in his triumph he suddenly heard an alarmed cry coming from the front of the carriage.

There were two other people with him in the carriage. These two were Tino and Nyasha and all three of them, including Taku at this moment jumped out of the carriage. As they landed close to where the coachman, Ranga and Tadi were sitting they could not help but freeze.

In front of them stood close to five hundred rats, this time it wasn't the sheer amount of rats that caused them to feel dejected but at least eighty percent of these demonic rats were of the second tier. The carriage came to a stop, as the coachman was afraid that these rats would immediately attack the horse that was pulling the carriage.

Taku looked around and in this pitch black tunnel the only light source they had was the torch that came from the carriage. So even though they could see five hundred rats thanks to this light, they were still worried that there could be more behind the curtain of light that the torch provided. Taku stood there in a daze because even though he was the leader he had no idea what to do at this point, he looked tohordes Ranga who was also a former leader of a different team.

Ranga noticing Taku's gaze could only shake his head. "This King doesn't really have a solution at the moment, because if they were normal rats we could have just burned them, but these demonic rats are not only immune to normal fire, their level of intelligence is frightening. If we just recklessly charge through then I fear that this King would not be able to protect any of you and all the goods on this carriage."

Tadi had the ice element, Ranga was wood, Nyasha was air, Tino was earth element. Taku knew that the fire element in him was not normal so he could use it to destroy the rodents in-front of him. They could have easily used earth to crush the rats but then that could leave the road ahead slightly unusable and their journey prone to accidents.

Taku had been practicing archery for a little over two months now and even though his precision was not the best he was still confident he would be able to deal with these rodents without having to destroy much of the path they were using.

Nyasha then lifted his head with confidence and said, "Since you know archery then you should be the one to fight with these rats. Since your arrows have the fire affinity, if you shoot an arrow tohordes them and make it combust just as it reaches them, then even though the blast would destroy part of the path, I'm sure Tino with his earth element would be able to pave a way or create a way for us.

Hearing this Tino nodded, "I have sufficient confidence in creating a path, if we just tried to blast open a path then the structure of the tunnel would be damaged and we could run the risk of being buried alive."

The old coachman had not said a word during this conversation but he nodded in approval when he heard of this plan, even though he also had some tricks up his sleeve that could help these youngsters deal with these rats, he knew that by lending them a hand, the five of them might become complacent. Taku calmed himself down as a bow materialized in his hand, he pulled the bow string as the red arrow began to appear. He took aim tohordes the center of the horde of rats.

Just as he was about to release the arrow, the rats began moving tohordes them at a frightening pace, crawling tohordes the carriage like a leopard running at its prey. The distance between the rats and them was about several tens of meters and this gap could easily be closed in mere few breaths. Taku panicked but quickly calmed himself down as he refocused his arrow and tried his best to aim at what would be the center of the moving rats. He breathed in and out several times before finally letting go of the arrow.

Whizz!

The arrow whizzed through the air and at the point of impact a large amount of flames flared up and traveled in different directions burning everything it touched. This eruption lasted for several moments and just as the flames began to dissipate, he noticed that even though part of the tunnel had collapsed more and more rats were still climbing over the rubble charging tohordes them.

It was at this moment that Taku also noticed that his worries were not baseless because he had just killed over five hundred demonic rats but more and more kept crawling to them. Without attempting to calm himself down Taku formed another arrow and shot it tohordes the incoming hoard but he did not just stop at that one arrow, he fired two other arrows in succession.

It was at this point that he turned tohordes Tadi, "Since you have the ice affinity can't you just freeze them or something?"

Tadi shook her head, "The techniques that I have for my ice element are mostly indirect defensive techniques since I am a Muroyi. As for the attacking techniques that I do have the are not, they are not techniques that I could use in a battle like these. None of them are able to freeze within a large range so my attacking prowess is virtually useless. Most of my battle prowess does not lie with my element but lies with the undead that I use."

Muroyi were the Gutu equivalent of witches and had many supernatural talents, so her words made sense to the crew listening. A low level Muroyi was better at support rather than attack.

As Tadi was speaking the fire continued to burn longer than the previous eruption. As she finished talking a deafening boom rang out in front of them, more and more of the tunnel had collapsed but the rats were now nowhere to be seen. Taku breathed a sigh of relief because even though they had created more work for Tino they had stopped their immediate threat of these rats. Without saying a word, Tino strode forhorde and proceeded to use his elemental powers to create two pillars that supported the tunnel.

The Gutu's greatest weapon was the ability they awakened, but familiarity with one's element was very useful, especially for such situations. Tino wasn't much of a talker but he was versatile and dependable.

Tino then began clearing a path slowly but surely, it took his about half an hour to clear everything out. They did not bother to check whether it was safe or not they all just stood on top of the carriage as it began moving forhorde. During this final stretch of their journey they met one or two small hordes of rats but they posed no threat, as Taku and Tino used these small hordes of rats as a way to increase their battle prowess. What shocked Tino, was the level of enforcement he could now exhibit.

If he enforced a tear one spirit weapon then it would be similar in might to a two tear spirit weapon, this caused him feel elated. By the time the fourth day had arrived they could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Even though they were about to exit this damp and horrid place there were no looks of joy on anyone's face because they knew the real danger was ahead.

Even though they had directly entered the city through this tunnel and did not face any of the dangers that would come from appearing out of the city walls, it was still a bit risky to arrive in any city when that city was being attacked by a beast horde. If the defenses failed then that would mean that they would be caught unprepared just as they arrived. This was truly a case of escaping the frying pan to only end up in the fire.

When they exited the tunnel they immediately saw a guard who was stationed close to the tunnel, they asked this man directions to the nearest post of the Ivory Guard and to their bemusement, the Ivory Guard base of this city was way on the other side. It would take them at least two hours to reach the base, they all sighed helplessly as they begun moving tohordes the Ivory Guard base. Taku could not help but feel uncomfortable as they passed the streets. There was barely anyone outside but he could feel the tense atmosphere.

He turned and asked. "Why can't they just evacuate all the citizens through the tunnel and take them all to a different city? Yes, the city would be destroyed by the beast horde but it eliminates a certain element of risk if they did that."