Chapter 19. The Blood Python Lair
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Alex was very excited to start the adventure. He tried to calm down by explaining the trip details to Varis.

"Varis, It's 10 am now. We will move towards the north parallel to the river. We will have lunch at 2 pm and rest at 6 pm. Total of 8 hours of journey. We should cover at least 80km."

The distance to the nearest town is around 200km north in a straight line (that's how birds calculate distance). But, Alex estimated the actual distance should be about 300km after detouring the obstacles and danger.

Alex then explained the tactical details.

"Varis, you will be 100 meters ahead of me, giving the layout of the terrain. Keep in mind that we should avoid all unnecessary threats. Also, look out for any treasures. Got It?"

[Yes.]

"Then you fly through the air and start the initial surveillance. I will go through the secret passage. It will take some time."

[Ok] said Varis and took off.

Alex was not worried about Varis's safety cause the surrounding areas are under the Sky Eagle domain.

Alex moved towards the secret passage. He freely controlled the mana in his body, and from time to time, blue flashes appeared under his soles.

Within few minutes, Alex came to the other side of the crater and stood in front of the secret passage. The entrance was nearly blocked by the bushes.

The passage was narrow and was well hidden. Alex would have missed it if he was not explicitly searching for it.

The narrow passage was pitch dark and gloomy. Even with his Eagle vision, he can only see 15 meters ahead. He does not want to use his torchlight in case he gives away his whereabouts.

Alex entered cautiously cause of the earlier tenant of this cave - The Blood python.

Alex brought out his gun for this occasion. Since it's a remote underground cave, the gunshots should not startle the wolves. Alex advanced in standard cop position.

But, the passage was not straight anymore. It twisted and turned like a snake. With every turn, Alex's nerves became tense.

As he turned a corner, Alex's heart almost gave out when he saw a huge red python. It was one meter in diameter and 50m long. He was ready to open fire, but he noticed something wrong.

The Blood Python's body was crumbled at some locations. It is just the skin shedded by the python.

Alex was not relieved but a little scared. A few days ago, He roamed a few hundred meters away from this beast. He was also awed by the Sky eagles, who took care of such a monster.

Alex slowly calmed down and moved forward.

After a while, the passage opened to a dark chamber. Even with Eagle's vision, Alex only saw a vague silhouette of a tree in the middle of the hall.

Why is there a tree where the sun never shines? Alex was a little confused. But soon, he became happy.

'This tree must be the reason why the Blood python risked its life by coming to the Howling crater,' thought Alex.

The Howling crater was already shared by the Demonic wolves and the Sky eagles. They won't allow any other beasts to get involved, especially during the baby boom season.

Alex walked forward. When he was ten-meter range from the tree, he saw the silhouette move.

Alex was startled. He immediately jumped back and carefully observed the tree. There was no result. So, Alex took out his binoculars and looked in the Heat vision mode.

In the thermal image, Alex saw a yellow silhouette of a palm tree and three red fruits.  However, when he saw the trunk, it was cold blue in color, the same as the surroundings. There was nothing visible there.

Alex swears that he saw something move on the trunk. Just in case, Alex took out the compound bow and shot a probing arrow at the tree trunk.

The arrow zipped through the air and hit the trunk producing a metallic sound. Then a hiss sounded in the hall. Alex got goosebumps as he watched something unwrap from the tree trunk.

It's a Python.

Even in the dark, he can see the silhouette of a 3-meter python. Alex immediately shot another arrow while taking the glowstick from his backpack to light up the hall.

Before he got the Eagle vision, Alex used them to light the cave a few times, but now they came in handy.

In the faint light, Alex saw a blood color python. The python was three meters long and as thick as his thigh. Immediately, he called for backup.

[Varis, there is trouble.]

[I am on my way.] said Varis.

He also saw three scarlet fruits hanging on the tree. He can infer that after the death of the Blood python, its descendent occupied it.

His question is: Why are you all producing babies at the same time?

Alex drew the bow and aimed the arrow at the python. However, he did not shoot.  Ordinary arrows will not have much effect. So Alex directed the mana to the arrow tip. 

He learned this method from the Robin hood's fight yesterday. But he still lacks practice. Even with Alex's proficiency in mana control, there was a slight delay for the mana to flow to the arrow tip.

Soon, the tip of the arrow glowed with a blue aura. Alex named this skill the Power arrow.

In these few seconds, the Blood python quickly landed on the ground, ten meters away.  It stared at his prey while coiling its body, getting ready to strike. Alex, while waiting, fortified the arrow with more mana.

The python attacked first. Using the coiled body as a spring, it shot towards its prey. Alex quickly backed away as he shot the power arrow.

The arrow left a blue blur and approached the python's head. The blood python, with its instincts, barely managed to move the head out of the way.

But the arrow still hit the body of the snake. It penetrated two inches deep into its body.

Alex was flabbergasted. His most powerful arrow only penetrated two inches. He overestimated his power.

Alex became desperate. As the snake became angry and started hissing. This time the snake did not strike but slithered erratically around him.

Alex kept backing away while trying to aim. He cannot aim correctly due to the dim light and the erratic movements of the snake. Then something touched his back. Alex was startled and noticed that he backed into a corner.

Alex began to sweat. He put away the bow and took out his Glock-19. Alex saw the python once again coiling its huge body. Getting ready to strike.

Alex could not wait anymore. He opened fire.

Bang, Bang, Bang...

The snake's movements were disrupted, and it started to hiss.

The first shot missed, one hit on its head, and one its body.  The bullet did not penetrate its thick skin, and Alex can still see the bullet butt.

Alex cursed.

There was no substantial damage, but the snake became confused. Alex quickly got away from the corner. The snake woke up from his stupor and started to chase once again.

This time Alex made sure he was not cornered and started to come up with a plan.

In the end, there are two ways, either escape from here or take the risk by using the burst state to deal the critical damage. 

The Blood python was on his heels, and Alex had to choose fast.

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