Even amongst mana beasts, snarlers were hideous creatures. With a thick grey fur coat, their 140cm bodies looked like muscular mini gorillas. Their faces, though, were a mix of a boar’s snout and tusks with beady red eyes and long ears. With their thick and powerful protruding jaw, you wouldn’t think they were only E stage mana beasts upon first glance.
As dozens and dozens revealed themselves from hiding, the snarlers started snapping their jaws while letting out low growls.
“P-Professor… are there supposed to be this many s-s-s-snarlers?” one of upperclassman females in the other group stammered out.
“This is so odd. Even in the lower floors, there are never this many snarlers bunched together.” Professor Glory braced herself and stayed firm. Because of the low morale in our class, if even our professor took a step back in hesitation, everyone would panic.
“There are a lot of them but they aren’t impossible to handle. However, since this is just a class excursion, I think it’s best to go back up, just in case. Safety is priority right now.” Just as Professor Glory started slowly ushering everyone back towards the stairs, a fireball flew past her and exploded in a crowd of snarlers.
As the fireball exploded, six snarlers all shot out in different directions and lay motionless.
“See? These nasty little beasts are weak. Professor, don’t tell me you brought us all here just to go back? Even a small fire spell was enough to kill six of them,” Lucas scoffed as he lowered his staff.
I could tell Professor Glory was still hesitant because of the unusual amount of snarlers suddenly appearing on the first floor.
“I-I think we should try and train here, Professor.” Curtis had a determined look on his face as several other students, because of Lucas’ display, gained confidence as well.
The snarlers that have all come out seemed a bit frightened now, as they warily keep their distance, studying us with their unintelligent eyes.
“Okay, but if I feel that something isn’t right, we’re immediately out of here, understood?” With a stern voice, she waited for the class to agree to her condition.
When she received a round of nods, she said, “Good. Split into your teams and take different parts of the floor. We don’t want any friendly fire happening in here. And Lucas, if you do something like that again, there will be consequences.” Professor Glory shot a menacing look towards the cocky blond, making him reluctantly comply.
“Prince Curtis, take your team and make your way towards the left side of the cave. Princess Tessia, take your team to the right of the cave and hold your ground. The last team, with me. I’ll be keeping an eye on you guys at all times but stay vigilant and don’t underestimate the snarlers, especially in these numbers.” With that, Professor Glory motioned for the two teams to rush forward.
“Arthur, I want you to be the vanguard since you’re the best at close range. Clive and Roland, you guys take positions to his left and right behind him and make sure he’s covered. Lucas, stay in the center between Arthur, Clive and Roland; I’ll cover your back. We’re going in the diamond position we learned in class!” As soon as we headed towards the miniature army of snarlers, Tess’ shy self all but disappeared as her student president side took over.
“Oh fuck, fuck, fuck.” Roland, obviously intimidated by the fifty-odd snarlers all snapping their jaws at us, took out his weapon, which just looked like a handle of a sword.
Clive also took out his metal short bow from his dimension ring and drew it back. Where the arrow should have been was a long metal needle wrapped in gusts of wind.
I take out Dawn’s Ballad as well, which was still wrapped in white cloth. I left it sheathed and lowered myself, getting ready for a quick draw in case any of them suddenly jumped.
“Spread and destroy! Ember wisp!” As we approached the horde of snarlers, Lucas released one of his favorite spells that soon started floating around us.
“CRRAAHK!!” Reaching just 5 meters from the horde, I tucked my sword in tightly to my waist and prepared to draw as more than ten of them jumped towards us.
Dashing even faster, I leaned forward even lower and augmented the sword still inside its sheath. Augmenting a wind to accumulate inside, I had to use all of my strength to keep my blade from coming out of its sheath until the last minute. With the same theory as a loaded spring, I waited until I was just in front of the airborne snarlers before I released the pressurized blade.
As the speed of my blade broke the sound barrier with a loud boom!, I winced in pain as I felt my shoulder dislocating. That skill worked a lot better than I thought it would…I really shouldn’t experiment with skills in actual battles.
The front line of the snarlers both in the air and on the ground was either knocked back or cut in half but I couldn’t follow up with anything as my right arm dangled, dropping my sword.
“GRHHAAK!” Several more snarlers took the place of the fallen and galloped towards me, using all four limbs now.
Several arrows whizzed by me and promptly impaled some of the snarlers that almost reached me.
I look back and gave Clive a nod before picking up my sword with my left hand. As I looked to my left, Roland was wielding a whip made of water as he gripped the handle he brought out in the beginning. The water whip whirled erratically as some attacks missed the target by a large margin, making me think that Roland was still learning his family’s art.
The cave glowed in red and blue as different fire spells went off from both our side and the other teams’ sides. The snarlers were trying to surround us as they began spreading out and keeping their distance. The ember wisps that Lucas summoned were still shooting off small streams of fire but the snarlers were getting crafty, throwing chunks of ice from the ground at the wisps in hopes of extinguishing them.
Tess spotted me clutching my arm as she’s fought off two snarlers. “Arthur, are you okay?”
“Um… I think I’ll be fine.” I gritted my teeth and positioned my right arm between my legs as I prepared to pop the shoulder back in.
“Gah!” I couldn’t help letting out a cry as I forcibly repositioned my arm in place.
The skill I hadn’t even named yet worked a lot better than I thought, managing to kill over fifteen snarlers at once. Too bad my body wasn’t able to withstand the force just now.
The snarlers weren’t very strong, but after about thirty minutes the seemingly endless numbers that never dwindled were taking its toll on us. Clive and Roland were sweating profusely while Tess turned a bit pale. Even Lucas’ spells were becoming a lot less flamboyant as he had to keep in mind the limit of his mana pool now.
“Is it just me or are there more snarlers now than there were in the beginning?” Roland shouted as he managed to kill three snarlers with the help of Clive.
“I think you’re right. The numbers aren’t adding up.” Clive responded as he looked at Tess for further instructions.
Between the corpses on the floor and the ones still kicking, the numbers, just on our side, added up to roughly over one hundred. That was more than double from the beginning.
“I think we should head back over to Professor Glory. We’re not going to be able to keep fighting like this for much longer,” Tess announced. As we made our way slowly back to where the entrance to the dungeon was, it seemed like the other team had the same idea.
Professor Glory noticed all the teams coming towards her so she made her way to us, cleaving snarlers left and right with her sword.
“Professor, I don’t think we can keep going like this. The snarlers keep coming!” Tess shouted over the waves of snarlers.
“Teams! Follow your leaders! We’re going back up!” Without hesitation, Professor Glory motioned for us to head back up the stairs when we hear a loud crash.
The icicles and stalactites, along with other rubble from the roof of the cave came crashing to the ground as two figures came floating down, flapping their large wings to hold themselves steady.
“Are you kidding me? What are the queen snarlers doing on this floor?” Professor Glory didn’t bother holding in her rage as she took out another giant sword from her dimension ring.
“Class, make sure to not let any of the minion snarlers get in my way. I’ll handle the two queens. I don’t know what’s going on but I’m getting you guys out of here if it’s the last thing I do.” With a click of her tongue, she pulled something from around her neck and threw it on the ground. As the necklace shimmered and then turned grey, the mana fluctuating around Professor Glory changed.
She was using a seal!
“Prepare to back up Professor Glory! Don’t let any of the snarlers get past us!” Tess commanded as she held her bladed staff out in front of her.
“Aye! Vanguards, protect the conjurers!” Curtis stepped up, brandishing his sword and shield.
I took a step forward too, gripping my sword with both hands to support my throbbing shoulder. There were ten of us in the front as Lucas, Tess and three other girls started chanting spells. My eyes couldn’t help but focus on Professor Glory as she wielded two giant swords, one in each hand. Fire and what looked like sand rapidly circled around her two swords as Professor Glory chanted inaudibly.
The fire and sand began intertwining as the two queen snarlers, both a few times larger and nastier, with wings, began cautiously surrounding Professor Glory. The queen snarlers’ front two limbs had four long, sharp claws that glistened in a coating that I assumed was poison.
“HAAAHP!” Professor Glory, her two giant swords ablaze with fire and sand, charged towards the smaller queen snarler, beginning the battle.
I held back on using spells, choosing to simply hack and slash my way against the snarlers by augmenting my sword. Their thick coat offered them a little resistance against spells and attacks but it didn’t take much to kill them. What became more of a problem was the corpses of the snarlers. Their dead bodies began piling more and more around us, getting in the way of our attacks. Looking around, I was relieved to see that the vanguards were still holding up. Both Curtis and Claire had minor scratches and bruises, but they were in much better shape compared to the other students.
I took a glance back and what I saw caught me by surprise. Professor Glory was pushing the queens, who were estimated to be on the upper spectrum of B-class bosses, back, by herself. What surprised me more was the way she did it. She was obviously a dual elemental augmenter in earth and fire, but she was producing projectiles that looked like ice shards…
No… looking carefully, it wasn’t ice. It was glass!
A small scratch on my arm brought my attention back to the fight in front of me but my mind couldn’t ponder how Professor Glory was able to do that. I knew about superheating sand but in order to produce that amount of heat while still battling…
“KRRAAAAAAAHHHH!” The ear-deafening cry made us turn our heads back. Professor Glory just managed to land the finishing blow on the smaller queen. Our Professor wasn’t in the best of shape, her armor scratched and dented in various places while blood trickled down her cheeks.
The defeat of one of the queens dramatically boosted the morale of the class as each of the students’ renewed vigor allowed us to fight back harder against the snarlers that seemed to generate spontaneously.
Upon seconds of hearing a loud crash, Professor Glory flew past the front line and landed hard against a wave of minion snarlers.
Allowing myself a few seconds to look back, a wave of nausea hit me as my eyes glued onto the sight of the bigger queen snarler, gorging on the corpse of the fallen queen.