24 The Hun
It was well into the morning by the time Zoey made it to her destination. The area she came to was filled with overgrown rocky spires that pointed at the sky like hundreds of bony fingers. These spires were hundreds of meters tall, some almost looking like small mountains. There were vines and trees growing between the spires creating overhangs of foliage that were teeming with all manner of small creatures. The sights and sounds along with the vibrant smells of the area gave Zoey a sense of wonder and vitality. Seems like this world still could make her stop in amazement from time to time.
This was the area that Nito had said her target lived in. She was looking for a winged snake creature that made its home above the ground and would attack its prey by swooping in from above. This species of snake had an innate talent to produce a venom that when injected, would freeze the victim's blood to ice, paralyzing them almost instantly and causing severe internal damage to the victim. The creature was commonly known as the Ice Venom Sky Snake by hunters, and Nito had warned her repeatedly to avoid getting bitten. Even if it was a rank 1 creature, without proper protection the venom they produced would easily kill her. She was a little curious if her nano armor clothing would stop the fangs of an Ice Venom Sky Snake, but she was not about to test it on herself.
Zoey unsheathed her combat knife and her 9mm custom, made sure a magic slug was chambered, and headed into the overgrown spires. Once she was under the overhanging foliage and growth, she had to rely on her instincts and senses to react to any attacks that came her way. Her primary target was the Ice Venom Sky Snake, but that was not the only magical creature that lived in this area. With her senses pushed to the max, she could feel countless eyes on her waiting for a moment to strike.
She moved carefully along her path progressing deeper into the towering spires. The gloom created by the thickening canopy grew thicker the deeper she went. After she had traveled more than a kilometer into the area, the entire sky was hidden behind the overhead growth. It was not long after that when she was attacked by one of the many hungry predators eyeing her from above.
She did not get much warning. She only heard the hissing of air passing over feathers behind her. She dodged by instinct and narrowly avoided a meter long winged snake as it swooped towards the back of her exposed neck. As it whipped by her, she was able to catch a glimpse of it. It was about a meter long and covered in pale white scales. The edges of the scales seemed like a mirage of blue and green that faded into the pale white of the scales, creating the illusion of flowing water when light was reflected off them. The snake had 1 pair of wings that were colored the same way the scales were, and only added to the mythical beauty of the creature. In the gloom underneath the canopy, the creature was quite beautiful as it swept through the air.
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Zoey was only able to catch that one glimpse before it disappeared back into the canopy. She was certain that it had been a rank 1 Ice Venom Sky Snake from how Nito had described it. Each rank of Ice Venom Sky Snake would be bigger, and have a pair of wings for each rank. It seemed like it favored surprise attacks from behind and would not fight up front if its sneak attack failed. That gave her only one chance to kill it when it attacked. Hoping to provoke another attack she pulled her poncho lower, exposing the back of her neck a bit more. The previous attack had targeted her there, so she would give the snakes a better target.
She continued on through the forest for a few minutes until another Ice Venom Sky Snake attacked her. This time she had been aware enough to see it emerge from the canopy behind her out of the corner of her eye. Zoey waited until the last moment before dodging to her right and bringing her combat knife up in a gleaming arc. She felt the blade make contact and there was a hiss from the Ice Venom Sky Snake as if fell to the ground. Her blade had cleanly cut it in two pieces. She stood aside until it stopped writhing, keeping a watch for any additional attacks.
Once she was certain the snake was dead, she approached the body to retrieve her rewards. Using her combat knife she got to work dismantling the body. For the Ice Venom Sky Snake the valuable parts were the skin, the snake gall, the fangs, and last, the essence stone as Nito had told her. All magical creatures on Darren had an essence stone including humans. It was the crystallization of magic essence that formed upon a creature's death. Absorbing the essence stone would raise your own magic strength and improve the harmonization of any element that it possessed.
Shen she found the essence stone, she cleaned it and inspected the item curiously. It was about the size of her thumb and seemed to be made out of crystal. The color was pale white overall and streaks of blue and green could be seen within. Holding it she could feel a cool sensation on her skin, along with a slight sting that was not bad enough to be uncomfortable.
She finished her inspection and gathered her loot. After a moment of thought, she activated her Aether Engineer talent and fabricated a backpack she could put the materials into. Once she was done, she continued on the hunt. As the day moved into late afternoon, Zoey finally decided to head back to Nito's house. In total she had killed and collected 25 Ice Venom Sky Snakes. In her opinion it was a good haul and her pack was about full. She had been keeping track of her location relative where she had entered and knew the way back by memory so she had no worries about getting lost.
So she headed back with a backpack full of materials and essence stones, happy with her first hunt.