The Earth bear had never imagined that the human who had been running from it to save himself would come out to reap its life in such a cruel manner.
Zach was breathing heavily since he had been too focused during the battle with the bear. Even though he had the ability to come out victorious, the bear had been considerably stronger and any one of its attacks could have proved to be fatal for Zach.
As such it was a hard earned victory that Zach could be proud of.
After taking a moment to rest, Zach took out a dagger from his waist and gutted the corpse of the bear.
He had no intention of mutilating the corpse of a beast for no reason. The reason for searching the corpse was to take out the core inside its body. Considering the fact that the beast had been a D rank monster, its core could turn out to be quite precious.
Zach didn't hesitate and plunged his hands into the body of the bear by making an incision on its chest. At the place where its heart should have been, there was a crystalline stone that was spherical in shape and felt quite hard to the touch.
Zach grabbed it with his hand and pulled it out of the corpse. The core was completely transparent like it was made of glass. The only blemish on its otherwise perfect appearance was the trail of blood that flowed down from it as it was still covered in the blood of the Earth Bear.
Braxton had been relishing in the praise of his subordinates as he had successfully managed to drive the two troublesome targets into the territory of the D rank monster Earth Bear. Not only had he managed to eliminate any further losses of his group but he had also effectively taken care of the targets who were by no means weak.
A huge roar resounded in the forest as the group of Braxton and his fellows were huddled around as they discussed how long it would take for the bear to eliminate the two targets. They still had to take out the bodies of Zach and Luna after the bear had mauled them nicely.
The roar unlike their expectations sounded pained instead of being frightening. But since the distance between them and the source of the sound was considerably large, the group took it as the indication that the Bear had finally made contact with the about to be 'corpses'.
In fact the roar that they had heard was the final bitter cry of the beast that had lost all hope of survival and could see its end in front of it. It was the roar of a beast that was unwilling to accept how its end had come.
The Earth Bear had been strong in its own right but its cruel fate had let it meet a monster among the weak and puny humans. Blinded by arrogance, it had come to believe that it was the predator when in reality it was the pitiful prey about to be slaughtered.
"They lasted longer than we had expected. We should wait a while to let the Bear move away from the location before entering to retrieve the corpses." Braxton mumbled under his breath as he began to chalk out the plan of retrieval.
When he felt that sufficient time had passed and no further roars of the bear could be heard, Braxton ordered his men to follow after him as he carefully made his way into the territory of the bear.
He couldn't afford to be careless because a single mistake could be the death of him and his group. The monster was by no means an easy opponent even for him.
By using the wooden element, scouting was extremely easy and safe, therefore Braxton and his group very easily made their way towards the cave where Luna and Zach had previously found their safe haven. The trail was very obvious especially the marks left behind by the Earth Bear were very prominent.
Braxton kept an eye out for any fresh signs of the Earth Bear so he could avoid encountering the beast before reaching the corpses.
Compared to the time it took Zach to reach the cave, Braxton and his men took their sweet time and carefully approached their targets while keeping an eye out for the hulking figure.
When they reached the clearing in the middle of the forest, the scene that they encountered was not at all the one they had in mind. Instead of the two human and succubus corpses, the D rank Earth Bear lay sprawled on the ground. The blood had gathered around its corpse in the shape of a small pool and beside the pool sat a young man playing with its core as if it was some kind of toy.
The smile on the face of the young man was far from innocent and bordered on the verge of insanity. The men who laid their eyes on it felt goose bumps crawl across their skins as terror replaced the excitement in their beaming faces.
Zach who had a dagger in one hand and the newly extracted crystal core in the other hand truly looked like a psychopath. The blood splashes on his clothes painted an especially gruesome picture, so much so that the men were full of pity as they looked at the completely gutted bear.
Braxton had been the first one on the scene but the shock had left him speechless. The fear he experienced was so great that he couldn't even feel his legs as he willed them to run. The words he tried to utter turned out to be hoarse whispers that even he couldn't hear properly, let alone his men.
He felt death looming over his head as he saw Zach casually playing with his dagger with one hand while he appreciated the crystal core wondering how valuable the core in his hand might be.
Zach had long since noticed the group that had arrived. In fact he had been waiting for them after taking care of the Earth Bear. He was sure that the group of hyenas would come to confirm his death at the very least. The only thing he had not expected was that the leader would come himself.
Zach had been planning to torture the one who came to confirm his death in order to get the whereabouts of the leader who had pushed him into this trap. But the leader had come running to his death on his own.
"So, you were the one behind all this. I have to say, you put me in a really bad situation with your cunning." Zach pointed his dagger at the man who was clearly the leader of the group as the other men kept on looking at him from time to time as if asking him what to do next.
Braxton panicked when Zach pointed his dagger at him even though there was no way Zach could have hurt him from that distance. His heart throbbed with increasing intensity and strength, as the seed of fear managed to burrow into his heart.
"I have been hoping to return the favor ever since I took care of this beast there. You are next on my list. I will give you three seconds to prepare yourself." Zach could see the fear in the unfocused eyes of the leader who looked to be a mage judging from his attire. Flowing robe with a hood at the back and a wooden staff that was almost equal to his height, how could he be anything other than a mage.
Zach's words were the last straw that broke the camel's back. With his spirit broken completely, Braxton lost half the fight right there and then.
Zach peacefully put his crystal core in his back pack and slowly but casually walked in the direction of the group while spinning the dagger in his hand using his dexterous fingers.
To Braxton though, he looked nothing less than the spawn of the devil himself. Summoning all his courage and whatever was still left of his authority, he ordered his men to attack.
"What are you all looking at? I didn't bring you all here so you can hide behind me. Go and bring me his corpse. NOW!" Braxton shouted with all his strength even though his own legs were trembling in fright.