Chapter 92 – Squirrel?
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Morning comes and Jason puts away his planter. Not much had changed in it overnight, even the Energy Herbs stayed the same. He expected different last night but after his cultivation session he was not surprised. In the plains they had grown fast because there was enough excess energy in the air. This place however lacked the energy density. Jason had noticed this back in town but had thought that was just because so many higher level people in one area would absorb most of it. Now his thoughts on the matter changed. Back between the wasteland and plains some factor should have increased the amount of energy in the air.

“Andrew would know more about this. Though thinking about Andrew reminds me, I never got around to sending a letter to him about the animal-headed goblins. That matter needs to be looked into so next time in town the letter will be first on my list. A quick little addition of my question on energy density won't hurt anyone. If I had to guess it might be powerful monsters that causes it. Both the plains and the wasteland areas were centered on such entities. Though that fact could just result from powerful monsters seeking such areas. Plus I don’t have a good sample size to be making an informed guess at this point anyway.”

Jason shrugs and moves on with breaking down his camp. The bell alarm takes a good while to set up and take down but worth it in this forest. Ready to set out now he stalks onward. Last time in here he had done his best to go deep. With his plan to head back to town in a few days that would be less than ideal. Instead, this time he would zigzag through the forest.

As he makes his way through the trees, the forest is quiet. Jason got used to the lack of birds last time but having been away it caught him by surprise again. It does make it easier to find prey animals. He is able to track down a small sounder of boars. They are snuffling around the base of a couple trees. With so little animal life in the forest a snarltail should be by here soon. To ready for it Jason climbs one of the nearby trees. With the better view he is able to spot that he was wrong. There already was a snarltail. On the other side of the boars one crouched behind a tree.

As he was up a tree already Jason takes the chance to hide Lily among the branches. However by the time he is back on the ground the snarltail has attacked. The stealth pounce is enough to bring down an older boar while the rest scatter. Jason holds back at this point and watch. Undisturbed the snarltail is able to kill the boar. Once it is dead the snarltail backs off and watches the clearing with caution. Then ready for an ambush its tail rips into the dead boar. The sound is reminiscent of a chainsaw without the engine noise. With each tooth able to move separate of the others they are able to rip into the body with ease. Segments of meat disappear one by one down the tale’s throat.

Still Jason watches on, he waits for what would cause this caution. The snarltail continues to stuff meat down its tail throat. Then the tree Jason is next to rustles. The hair on Jason’s neck stands on end. Without even a thought he practically throws himself up the tree. Moments later he has Lily cradled in his arms as he drops out of the tree. He hits the ground with a loud thump. However the nearby snarltail doesn’t even bother to look at him. Instead, it is focused to the left.

All around the trees shudder. More so to the left than the other directions. The snarltail tenses but for some reason it does not seem ready to fight. The tree farthest out into clearing shifts. It is not just a shudder but the tree moving back in line with the others. A horrible yowl comes from the snarltail as it abandons the boar corpse and makes for the opposite side of the clearing.

Then out from the crown of the tree that moved a blur flies towards it. Not a bird yet feathered the creature glides at a high speed. The snarltail almost gets out of the clearing but the strange agglomeration of a gliding squirrel and a bird catches it. Not with claws or jaws but magic. Roots pop out of the ground around the snarltail and grapples it down. Unlike the monsters from the wasteland this beaked squirrel felt more natural if that makes sense. Though the only creature it makes Jason think of is the famous fantasy creature, the owlbear. It of course doesn’t help that when he observes it, the name is squirrelraptor. Not that he plans to tell it his opinion of its name. What with the question marks in place of a level next to it.

While Jason is sad about his loss of xp, it is better to be safe sometimes. With that in mind he creeps away from the two monsters. Before he can even leave sight, the snarltail has died to a root through the neck. For a moment the squirrelraptor glances back at him. A chill runs down Jason’s back but luck is with him as it turns back to the snarltail corpse. Then from the trees many other squirrelraptors come down and joins it in the feast. A few are late to the party and have to settle for the boar corpse.

After Jason is out of sight he jogs away from that clearing. Happy that he waited to see what hunted the hunters he decides to only go after snarltails before they make a kill. He had not seen one before and with how they had some sort of nature magic all trees were suspect. Likely they hid inside the trees or had some sort of teleportation ability.  Most confusing for Jason however was why the snarltail tried to escape into the forest.

Thank you for reading! Next two chapters free on my Patreon ( https://www.patreon.com/dragonheartednovels ), five chapters beyond that for only a dollar, and many more for five dollars (two chapters release a week at this tier).

Chapter 93 - A letter to Andrew

Chapter 94 - Leather Harness

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