As Zoey made her way back, she became aware of a strange silence that had settled over the area. The sounds of wildlife she had been hearing had ceased at some point. This could only mean one thing. A predator was in the area. She was certain something dangerous had showed up as it had never been this silent while she had been hunting.
She removed her backpack and carried it in her hand, in case she had to move around she did not want her movement hindered by the weight. If she was attacked she needed to be able to dodge effectively.
Moving on, she kept watch for whatever was lurking in the canopy. As she walked around a rocky spire overgrown with vines, she froze. Directly ahead of her, hanging silently from the canopy above was another Ice Venom Sky Snake. The problem was that this snake was a lot bigger than any of the others she had seen. It was at least 3 meters long and a thicker body along with 2 pairs of wings folded along its length. The scales were the same color as the ones she had seen, but had a more vibrant sheen. This was clearly a Rank 2 Ice Venom Sky Snake, and its beady eyes were glaring directly at Zoey.
She could feel a pressure from this snake that was not felt from the rank 1 snakes she had hunted. This creature was clearly on another level and far more dangerous. This was clearly demonstrated a second later when the Ice Venom Sky Snake opened its jaws displaying its long fangs, and spat a stream of something right at Zoey. She dodged the spit and tossed her backpack to a safe area as she warily eyed the snake. The rank 2 Ice Venom Sky Snake could actually spit its venom. She had felt the temperature drop as it passed her when she dodged, and the ground where it had landed was smoking as if someone poured acid on the ground.
The snake was not waiting around for her to attack, as it immediately spat another stream of venom at her. As she dodged again, it suddenly swooped in from above! Zoey barely had time to react as it was extremely fast, barely a blur flying through the air. She managed to twist out of the way of the open jaws of the snake, but was unable to avoid getting hit by the body as it whipped at her. She was sent rolling for a short distance as the snake flew back into the canopy. The snake had struck her left shoulder and arm, and it had been quite a strong impact, but she was unharmed for the most part aside from a slight numbness from the impact. She had actually been able to hit the snake with her knife as it struck her, but the scales had completely blocked her blade barely leaving behind a scratch.
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Rather frustrated that her blade had not don't any damage, Zoey glared at the snake her emerald eyes shining coldly. She would not give it another chance. As the snake readied itself again and prepared to spit more venom at her from above, Zoey sprang into action. In a flash she brought out her 9mm custom, steadied it on her target, and squeezed the trigger twice. Two supersonic cracks echoed through the surroundings as the snake's head was reduced to a bloody mess by two magical 9mm slugs. It didn't even have time to react before it died.
Zoey smiled in appreciation at her handgun as the body of the snake crashed to the ground. Her little guy sure could hit above its weight. She had no real method of testing its strength, but seeing how easily it took out a Rank 2 creature she was pleased with its performance.
She retrieved her backpack, and went to work cleaning up the rank 2 Ice Venom Sky Snake. She was not able to recover the fangs of the snake due to the damage to the head, but the rest of the body was untouched. The essence stone she recovered was larger than the rank 1 stones and more vibrant as well with blue and green swirling about inside. She took the materials and as much meat as she could carry from the snake and continued on her way back. The surroundings had recovered their previous level of activity after the Rank 2 creature had been taken care of so Zoey was not worried about another Rank 2 attack.
By the time the sun was setting, Zoey had made her way all the way back to Nito's house, Just in time to see him return as well. Zoey was excited to see how much stronger she would get after absorbing all the stones she had collected. Maybe she would be able to level up as well. The only way was to get started!