Chapter 400 Invitation to a Trap
The hardest part about dealing with the manticores was how to restrict their numerical advantage.
Nine adolescent manticores: two of which were as powerful as elite adepts, three as powerful as veteran adepts, and four of which could be compared to newly advanced adepts.
There was more than enough firepower to crush Greem's party. After all, there were only three adepts among them! Moreover, Gargamel and Eva were veteran adepts, while Greem could only maintain the power of an elite adept for a limited time!
The other adventurers and apprentice adepts were useless in battle; they hardly even qualified as meatshields. Trying to get them to form a solid defensive line was no different from having a mantis stop a chariot. Their deaths would be gruesome.
If they wanted to win despite this disadvantage in military force, they would have to resort to traps. They needed to bait the manticores into a narrow chokepoint and shave away at their numerical advantage. The only reason Greem was so confident and daring in his plan was due to his understanding of the manticores.
Manticores were fearsome beasts, even among magical creatures. However, they did not possess any long-ranged attacks. It was part of the reason most adepts didn't fear them! They might even be weaker than those pathetic wyverns if they hadn't been relying on their unique home ground advantage within the underground tunnels.
It was about time for the sun to rise once more The pack of manticores that had gone out to hunt returned to their den.
The two elite-level manticores were the first to become restless when they entered the tunnel.
In their past efforts of penetrating into the tunnel, Greem and Gargamel had always eliminated their scent and all trace of their existence. However, this time, they had come in without any use of such means. In fact, they even brought the adventurers along with them, as well as torches to light up the pitch black cave.
The thick smell of humans and the smoke left by the burning torches were like a lighthouse in the dead of night; it couldn't be any more obvious!
A group of humans had raided their den?!
The manticore leader was enraged. But at the same time, it was anxious about the fates of the two young manticores they'd left behind in their den.
Under its orders, the other manticores threw their prey aside and followed the smell of the humans into the tunnel, flying as fast as they could. The further they went, the more concerned they became. The tracks of the humans seemed to be heading towards their hidden den!
The manticores were extremely worried and concerned now!
Finally, they picked up the scent of the young manticores at a major junction that led to their den.
And mixed with the smell of the manticore cubs was the burning odor of fire elementium and a faint trace of blood!
The former meant that human adepts were involved in this raid, and the latter caused the manticore to go into a furious rage.
In less than five minutes they had scoured every corner of their den, Yet they had not found a single trace of the enemy. However, their sharp sense of smell told them that the enemy had not left the cave. Instead, they had taken the manticore cubs along with them and headed even deeper into the earth.
The manticores were driven mad by anger. Under the leadership of the male and female elite manticores, they chased straight after the scent in the air. Eventually, they found the two manticore cubs in a dead end cave, where there was only one way in or out. The manticore cubs were bound tightly, and to their side was a large pile of clothes left behind by human adventurers.
As the manticores furiously tore away the ropes on the young manticores, Greem and the rest of the party positioned themselves right behind the monsters. The humans firmly held the most critical area of this place– the only entrance and exit of this dead end.
This cave was a real dead end. One exit, with no other paths leading to other areas. Such caves and dead ends existed everywhere underground. They were a type of geographical feature that was both loved and hated by all adventurers.
If you were an exploring adventurer that found such a spot when the party needed rest, this would be the perfect spot to set up camp. All you needed to do was seal the only entrance and set people on the lookout a little ahead, and you could rest without worry. There was no possibility of being ambushed by an enemy.
However, if a horde of underground creatures were pursuing you, such dead ends spelled the doom of you and your teammates. It was why their existence was both a blessing and a curse for all adventurers!
The cave that Greem had picked for the final battle had a funnel-like shape. They had investigated this place countless times and were certain that there was only one entrance. The only opening in and out of the cave was four meters wide and three meters tall. It was barely enough for an adolescent manticore to fly through with its wings unfurled, or two manticores to walk through, shoulder to shoulder.
When Greem saw that the manticores had entered his trap, he immediately blocked their only exit path. Greem summoned the Roaring Monster and the Decayer once he reached the entrance. The rocky Roaring Monster was responsible for sealing the opening, while he and the Decayer would attack the manticores from the side.
The other members of the party were spread around the area to secure the perimeter and prevent any other underground creature from interfering in their plan.
Gargamel was in charge of setting off the various traps that they had hidden in the cave.
They set large amounts of wormwood, and some ghost shrooms, on fire. The burning caused thick, stinging, and pungent smoke to spread throughout the entire cave. Plenty of ghost shroom spores also wafted into the air.
The burning of the grass and the smoke emitting from it rapidly exhausted the oxygen in the cave.
Greem and Gargamel had sealed all cracks and holes in the cave. The smoke and the poison gas had nowhere to go, and quickly engulfed the manticores in a cloud of black smoke.
Rumbling coughs and the sound of beating wings came out from within the thick smoke. The manticore leader even let out a thunderous roar.
The Roaring Monster was a massive stone humanoid four meters in height and thirty-five tons in weight. A thick stone armor covered its body. As the only tank in the party right now, it forfeited all means of attack. Instead, it gathered stone elementium together to form a massive rock that it held up as a shield; defense was its highest priority.
The Monster had barely moved into position when the smoke parted. A ferocious manticore slammed into the Monster's shield, sending violent gales blasting towards the adventurers as it did so.
The one-meter-thick rock shattered!
The impact knocked the Roaring Monster's massive body backward. Sparks were sent flying into the air as its stone feet ground against the hardened cave floor. The adolescent manticore had injured its head as well. It stumbled near the entrance in a dazed state.
Greem immediately threw a magma fireball at the feet of the wounded manticore before either side managed to react. At the same time, the Decayer's acid ball landed on the manticore.
It was almost as if a large bowl of sulfuric acid had been poured right onto the manticore. It cried out in agony, even as it was still stunned from the previous impact. Its magnificent mane vanished in an instant, and the sizzling sounds of corrosion came from its leathery brown skin.
The next moment, the magma fireball exploded. The powerful shockwave sent the manticore flying into the air. The fire spell had severely bloodied its chest and abdomen. The ensuing magma splash and lava turned the ground into a sea of flame.
The wounded manticore had just been blown away, and already another manticore took its place. It lunged at the humans with all the fury it could muster.
This time, the Roaring Monster had no shield to guard itself with. It could only use its massive stone hands to block the manticore's assault.
Another thunderous rumble.
The Roaring Monster's hands smashed to pieces in the collision. If it weren't for the Monster planting its legs deep into the stone ground, it would have been sent flying from the force of that clash.
What terrifying strength!
The chip's scans indicated that the manticore's strikes had reached a shocking one hundred and thirty-five points. This was already far above any damage that an ordinary adept could aspire to deal out!
This manticore possessed far superior Physique and Strength compared to the first manticore. Apart from a couple of teeth falling out, and a bloodied head, it seemed utterly unfazed by the impact. That wasn't all. It took advantage of the Roaring Monster's imbalance from the blow and lack of hands to strike again. Without anything to defend against the manticore, its scorpion stinger stabbed at the golem's stone armor, as fast as a flash of lightning.
The thick stone armor was pierced right through like it was made of butter. The sharp stinger quickly injected its paralyzing venom into the body of the Roaring Monster. At the same time, the Monster lifted its right leg and slammed it into the ground.
A tremendous shockwave rippled across the ground with the Roaring Monster at its center!
Every entity that struck by the shockwave was thrown into the air. Their bones and flesh rattled and trembled from the shockwave. The spell had caused them to lose their ability to react flexibly to any other situation that might arise.
This particular manticore was an elite-level creature. Both its Physique and Strength were equal to the Roaring Monster. Sadly, it had no choice but to take the Monster's Trembling Earth head-on. The manticore had never expected its paralyzing venom to be completely ineffective!
Any other manticore would have needed three to five seconds to break free of this detrimental effect. However, an elite-level manticore only required a single second.
Unfortunately for the beast, one second was enough for Greem to cast his spell!
Greem didn't intend to hold anything back. Without hesitation, he used the strongest single-target fire spell stored in the Scroll of Voodoo– Fire Core Explosion!
Under the effects of the Blaze of Destruction, Greem's Fire Core Explosion had been further enhanced. It now dealt a monstrous one hundred and twenty-five points of damage; a whole ten points more than before.
One shouldn't underestimate this difference of ten points. It was ten points of damage on a spell that already had powerful defense-penetration properties!
Most people tried to apply as many elementium and magical defenses as they could on themselves in a duel between adepts. Ordinary magical spells were not capable of penetrating these multiple layers of defense. They had no choice but to wear away at the durability of the spells slowly.
The higher the strength of a single instance of a spell, the less it was affected and neutralized by layers of defense, and the more likely it would simply shatter the protective spells. The opponent would have to take on every single point of what remained of the elementium damage!
An elite-level manticore like this one could only endure and ignore a maximum of ninety points of spell damage.
Anything below ninety points might be able to damage part of its body, but it would never be able to break through the forcefield formed by its powerful life energies. Consequently, weak spells weren't able to damage any of the manticore's vital organs.
And this was the foundation of its ability to continuously battle!
However, it was different when it came to Greem's Fire Core Explosion. Even with the damage reduced, there was still thirty-five points of fire damage that directly affected the manticore's flesh.