Akira woke up late in the afternoon his body was sore from all the abuse it had taken the day before due to the storm and the desert sandworm.
His head was pounding with a slight headache due to dehydration. He had been so exhausted that he had not washed, eaten, or drank anything before he fell asleep.
After taking a few large gulps from his waterskin his head began to throb even more as the water flowed through his parched body.
As the headache lessened Akira noticed an odd smokey smell of something being cooked coming from outside his tent.
Before leaving his tent he checked the system messages.
Level up! Now level 29!
Endurance increased by +5
New title received!
One who is lucky:
You were able to kill a Baby Sandworm by sheer luck.
‘You call that Lucky? That was all hard teamwork, not luck,’ thought Akira as he put the bonus points into the proper stats.
Akira exited his tent and found the surviving merchants and caravan guards surrounding a fire that was cooking huge slabs of meat.
He was able to find Mileena and Varbu sitting next to the fire. Everyone was talking as if nothing had happened the day before.
As Akira sat down next to Varbu one of the guards cooking the large meat happily greeted him.
“Glad to see you’re in one piece. I thought you were dead due to you staying in your tent all morning,” said the guard in a joking manner.
“How can you guys be so calm and happy after all those people died yesterday?” asked Akira getting straight to what had been bothering him.
“It’s just the way it is. The desert worms and sandstorms may be catastrophes but there are far deadlier things out there just waiting to kill you. With so many things wanting to kill you, you have to have a hardened resolve in order to travel through the desert, otherwise, you’ll just become another name on a large list of casualties. Only those with such a mentality will be able to have a chance to make a living traveling the desert and will be able to make a fortune doing it.”
“I guess I can see what you mean when you put it like that,” said Akira with a skeptical look on his face.
“Ah before I forget here is your portion of the spoils we were able to gather yesterday,” said a second guard handing Akira a head sized leather sack.
Akira was curious as to what they were talking about looked inside to see a large number of sharp triangle teeth of various lengths.
“Here have some freshly cooked meat. It should give you some energy and make it so you don’t look so dead. You shouldn’t worry about gloomy stuff, look at the good side of things like the fact that we have an abundance of food and that we’re almost to the next city. It should only take a day or two at the most,” said the cooking guard.
Akira took wooden plate the guard handed him. On top of the plate was a large piece of odd looking tanish pink meat that had been carved off the large slab of meat that was slowly rotating over the fire.
Mileena and Varbu watched Akira intently as he bit into the meat and made an odd face.
It was extremely tough to chew. The flavor was too exotic, he had never tasted anything like it before so he couldn’t properly describe it if asked. Although there was one thing he was sure of, it did not have a nice taste to it.
“What is this?” asked Akira.
“Oh that?… It’s just some meat from the sandworm that was killed yesterday. You might not know but it is a rare delicacy,” said the guard.
Akira’s stomach emptied onto the ground in front of him immediately after hearing that.
The thoughts that caused this reaction were linked to remembering what the sandworm ate the day before, which in a way was like him eating the same thing.
Yeah …no. He rather not eat something that ate an unknown amount of humans.
“Why are you wasting such good food?” asked the guard unhappily.
“Sorry, I’m not in the mood for meat right now. Varbu do you want the rest?” asked Akira.
Varbu vigorously shook his head no. He was of the same opinion as Akira and did not eat any of the meat that had been offered to him before. He loved eating all types of meat but this was too out there for him to enjoy.
“I’ll eat it!” said Mileena happily.
During the past weeks, Mileena was always happy to eat anything left over that Akira didn’t eat during their meals. It was surprising that she didn’t explode from all the food she ate.
Akira handed over the plate and watched her happily eat it.
“Do you really like it?” asked Akira.
“Yeah, It’s really tasty!” said Mileena as she tore into the meat.
Both Akira and Varbu looked at her with weird expressions on their faces.
‘I guess some tastes and customs are different wherever you go,’ thought Akira.
Flames flew high into the air above the dark black burnt desert sand. The fire burned anything that had been standing on or near the hole it sprang from.
Akira, Varbu, and Mileena were all training in the harsh desert wasteland fighting any desert monsters that crossed their path.
Their teamwork had grown by leaps and bounds when you compare it even to the time they fought in the last dungeon.
It had been over a week since they left the caravan after they had reached the city of Sanwar and continued traveling towards the capital city. The event for the arena was drawing closer every day but they still had plenty of time to reach the capital.
“Dodge it properly!” shouted Akira.
They were currently fighting a small horned armadillo while also keeping an eye out for the fire that randomly erupted from the ground every once in a while.
“Nreee!” The level 29 Horned armadillo let out a loud cry as Mileena dealt the final blow to the monster.
Compared to when she had first started training. Her skills and fighting instincts had grown from all the dangerous combat they had endured while traveling through the desert.
“Tha.. that things…hide..was almost as tough .. as the sandworm,” gasped Mileena through large breaths of air while bent over, her hands on her knees not daring to sit down on the ground for fear of being roasted.
“Let’s get out of this section of the burning sand and set up camp for lunch,” said Akira who was less winded and was still ready to fight.
“Just a moment let me catch my breath,” said Mileena before grabbing her waterskin and taking a few gulps of water.
“I don’t remember this place being on the map,” said Varbu.
“Places change all the time so it’s hard to keep up to date. We’re lucky we have such a good map in the first place,” said Akira.
A short while passed before they continued to walk through the dangerous minefield of explosive fire pillars slowly moving towards the road that had been drawn on the map by Bumnickus.
“Enemy!” shouted Varbu.
“What is it?” asked Akira.
“Not sure but there’s a lot of them!” said Varbu.
“We just got done fighting I’m too tired right now!” complained Mileena.
“It can’t be helped we have to push through to get to the road,” said Akira as he looked towards the direction Varbu was pointing.
A Large swarm of what looked like a type of insects were running towards them. As they came closer he was able to see they didn’t look like any normal insect he had ever seen before they were all the size of dogs. [Lv 29 Giant fire ants]
“There’s too many of them!” shouted Mileena.
“We don’t have the energy to successfully run back through the fire pillars while evading enemy attacks, the main road is not far ahead. We just need to use all our strength and push through.”
In mere seconds over 100 [Giant fire ants] surrounded them and started to attack them.
Varbu and Akira were able to hold them off and kill one or two at a time with others immediately taking their place.
Mileena who was in between Varbu and Akira was having trouble fighting the overwhelming number of enemies in such a confined area. It was her first time encountering such a problem.
Akira used the last of his mana for a final push using the skill [Sword slash]. But to his dismay, the gap he created was quickly closed by the swarming [Giant fire ants].
“This is not looking good,” said Varbu.
“I know that,” said Akira as he blocked several attacks aimed at Mileena who was beside him.
A loud shriek enveloped the battlefield causing the three great discomfort and sore ears but they were still able to fight.
The [Giant fire ants] on the other hand stopped all attacks and movement for a few seconds before hurriedly scurrying away in the direction they had come.
Now that something with the power to force the [Giant fire ants] to run away had appeared behind them, Akira was even more alert.
When he spun around to look what he found was not what he was expecting.
Ten warriors were quickly closing the gap between them but that was not what had surprised Akira. It was because they had no legs.
The lower half of their bodies that was not protected by leather armor was full of sleek scales that which covered their long tails.
Their scales were all of a different varying color of black, grey, brown, and tan. They were not the flashiest of colors but the scales still looked like well-polished jewels.
The ten warriors moved swift and silently, save for the few grains of sand that moved as they slithered their way towards Akira’s group.
“Wow! It’s the desert warriors from the Lamia tribe!” said Mileena in shock.
“You know who they are? Are they friendly?” asked Akira.
“Even among the Nyantails, we know of the famed Lamia desert warrior tribes. I only know a little about them. They are neither friendly or hostile to people on their first meeting. I was told to be as polite as possible if I ever met them,” replied Mileena.
“What do we have here?” asked one of the Lamia warriors before Akira could ask another question.
“What an odd group of individuals. An orc, a Nyantail, and a human?” commented another warrior.
“Werewolf,” Akira corrected him.
“Even more bizarre. What brings such an odd pairing together to travel through the dangerous desert dunes of the [Giant fire ants]?”
“Sir we shouldn’t waste time here the little buggers will be back with even more. If we stay here any longer we’ll have a big problem,” interrupted a warrior next to the one that was asking the questions.
“Fine, you three follow us. We can continue our ‘Chat’ when we get back to camp,” said the leader of the warriors.
Akira looked at both Varbu and Mileena but they didn’t know what else to do so they followed them out of the dangerous area.
They were forced to jog in order to keep up with the speed of the Lamia warriors who seemed to glide over the sand.
They reached a large campsite an hour later. There were several hundreds of large sturdy leather tents, and many Lamia warriors paroling the area.
“Oh, Slazz you’re back! Who are those guys behind you?” asked one of the patrolling warriors.
“Some ‘friends’ we met while on our way back. I was interested in them so I decided to bring them back for a talk,” said Slazz.
“Come this way,” said another warrior leading them to a large weathered tan tent.
The inside of the tent was almost all empty save for the several large cushions on the canvas floor.
The snake warriors all slithered onto two of them and curled their slick tails around them and took a lazy position on the cushion with their head held up by one hand as they stared at three companions.
“You can sit down if you like,” said Slazz motioning to the two remaining cushions.
The cushions were large enough to fit two to three normal people on so Akira and Mileena sat on one while Varbu sat on the second one.
“So friends what brings you to this part of the desert?” asked Slazz in a lazy voice as he cut open a Fig and ate a large piece.
“We’re traveling towards the capital city Otria,” said Akira not giving any more details.
“To save my sister,” said Mileena.
Akira facepalmed and thought, ‘So much for keeping things a secret.’
“Is that so? It seems to be a worthy and honorable task for a warrior to take upon themselves. Slazz has taken a liking to you three.”
“Oh? What’s this? You don’t normally get this interested in outsiders affairs,” asked another warrior with a laugh.
“It is as you say Sliam. This one does not care much for outside dealings of the other races… other than that tournament the humans have. So you are going to the capital to save your sister, and if I remember correctly the tournament should be happening soon. Is your sister participating?”
“Yes, she was captured by slavers and sold to the arena!”
“It is as I guessed. But Slazz wonders how can you save your sister when you struggle with only a few [Giant fire ants]. People travel from all countries to fight in the tournament they are not weaklings. What to do, what to do… Ah! Slazz has a solution why don’t you stay for a few days to learn from us the ways of the desert warrior.”
“Th..Thank you! I Would love to!” said Mileena happily.
“It would be a great honor!”
“Yeah,” said Akira.
‘What’s going on?’ Akira asked himself as he had a hard time figuring out what had just happened.