Leaving the X-marked spot, the trio continued walking in a direction that Chris guided. The outside of the town was a desert, but it didn mean it was just a vast empty plain. There were still rocky hills and sand dunes that could be used for navigation. The location of the monsters they were targeting was further south of their current location.

Crane let Thompson walk ahead of the group while waiting for directions from Chris on where they needed to go.

There were a lot of small monsters on their way, but their wild instincts told them that the trio was not prey, but hunters, so they hurriedly go into hiding or escape. Although they were monsters, they didn blindly attack anything in their path. They still followed the instinct that had allowed them to survive thus far.

”A pretty nice night tonight, ” Chris said leisurely. He was resting his arms behind his back comfortably.

”Which is for the best. The three of us won stand a chance if a big monster suddenly appears. Lets hunt the Banshee and get back quickly, ” Crane replied.

”What do you think will happen after I become a Tier 2 Votary? ” asked Catherine curiously, ”fathers note didn mention anything else besides that, ”

”My guess is as good as yours. We can only try. His suddenly going missing is not helping either. If only we could ask him directly, ” Crane answered doubtfully. He was focusing on detecting dangers while answering his siblings question.

”If it will help lift the curse of this forsaken land, Ill do it. The townsfolks have been kind to us, so thats the least we can do, for our own sake as well, ” Catherine replied. Her tone showed resolve.

”In this kind of place, if not each other, there is no one else we can rely on, ” Crane added sympathetically.

Chris, who was just listening relaxedly, chimed in, ” Remind me again, why is our land cursed? ”

”According to the elders, its been like this for thousands of years. It happened because humans back then went to war with God Almighty. It was before the age of multitheism. There was only one God, an oppressive monarch, and humans back then rebelled. They failed and God cursed this land before leaving us, ” Crane explained from memory.

His knowledge was obtained from the scriptures that had been passed down to generations. It was a knowledge that everyone in the town had the right to know, as they all shared the same fate.

Chris was just not the best at listening to boring sermons by the elders, so he had forgotten most of it.

”And after thousands of years of having no solution, why do you think father would suddenly be able to lift the curse? ” asked Chris doubtfully.

”We are not sure either, ” Catherine answered, ”people going missing is not rare, so father suddenly disappearing is not an exception. But the way he wrote in his note was very optimistic, ”

”I doubt he had found something that many people before him couldn in thousands of years, ” Crane added, ”but maybe the condition for something to happen had been fulfilled after this long, and father had a clue to it. ”

”I think so too. Maybe after thousands of years, a new God appeared. One that has the ability to lift this curse. It is possible, especially with the fact that many Gods and Goddesses appeared after God Almighty abandoned this land, ” Catherine added her opinion.

”Whatever it is, as long as I can finally see the daylight again, Id be happy, ” Chris grinned at his siblings.

Suddenly, his eyes were locked onto something ahead of them. Without giving the target a chance to escape, Chris extended his right arm.

Straighten!

The target was a fox-like monster with a scorpion tail. It was the size of a house cat, possessing similar agility and speed.

”A Scorpion Fox! Catch it! ” Chris shouted happily and quickly ran towards the target.

If not for his intervention, the Scorpion Fox would have run away the moment it detected the trio. With its speed, it would have been able to escape to safety. However, Chriss ability forced its body to straighten and stood on its hind legs. Although only lasted for a few seconds, it ruined the monsters chance to escape.

”Mjrn, Martha, help Chris, ” Crane commanded his dolls.

The two dolls wearing cute dresses ran ahead, following Chris.

”Why do you always shout commands at your dolls? You know well they will do it just fine without you telling them, ” Catherine asked curiously.

”It helps with my Occupation. As a Doll Maker, I like to treat my creations as living beings. It starts with me, and soon everyone will believe they are living beings, ” replied Crane.

”Must be difficult to achieve if everyone in town already knows your abilities in detail. Its easier for me to apply the Principles of a Psychic. Everything on this land is supernatural and people will obviously believe me, ” replied Catherine.

While the two of them were chatting idly, Chris and the dolls were hunting the fox, while Thompson was on standby to illuminate the battlefield.

The monster was not a dangerous one, but it tried to escape every time it had the chance. Chris had to use his ability in time to prevent it from running away.

Straighten!

Slash!

Chriss dagger barely hit the monsters back, injuring it.

While the monster was staggered, Mjrn and Martha circled around it and surrounded the monster, blocking its escape.

”You have nowhere to go now. Stop fighting and just give up your tail to me, ” Chris taunted.

A cornered beast is a dangerous beast. The Scorpion Fox knew it couldn get away anymore, so it decided to fight to protect its life.

”Growl! ” the monster threatened, baring its sharp fangs. It readied its stinger high in the air.

Mjrn, the doll with a purple dress, leaped forward with its knife ready. However, it was as if the fox had been expecting it.

Stab!

The stinger buried itself into the dolls wooden chest, creating a small hole. The fox then injected its venom into the doll. It was the monsters most effective method of self-defense, as the venom was quite potent. It could paralyze a monster the size of the Brown Scaled Lizard for a few minutes, giving it enough time to escape.

Little did it know that Mjrn wasn a living being, so the foxs venom was ineffective.

While the fox was busy with Mjrn, Chris and Martha quickly dashed forward.

Stab!

The simultaneous attacks injured the fox deeply, as their weapons sunk into the creatures flesh.

Without giving it any chance to recover, Chris quickly launched another attack.

Stab!

Chris buried his knife into the monsters neck, causing blood to spurt. The fox let out a last growl before dying.

”Weve got it! ” shouted Chris, excited. He quickly cut off the creatures tail and folded it before stuffing it inside the backpack that Thompson was carrying.

”Should we take the meat as well? ” asked Catherine, approaching the dead creature.

”We don have time to butcher it. We still have the lizard to harvest later, remember? Lets quickly move on to our real target, ” Crane answered.

There was a slight hint of disappointment in Chriss and Catherines eyes, but they knew that their brother was right. Although Scorpion Fox meat tasted really good, if not butchered and preserved carefully, it would go bad easily, and they didn have the leisure to do so at that moment.

The trio kept on walking, with Thompson leading the way with a candle to light up the way. Chris gave the direction with the help of the familiar landscapes around him.

When they found a wall of rock in front of them, they took the way to the right, eastward towards where their targets territory was.

Finally, they arrived at their destination. The place where the Silverback Banshees resided was a ruin of a small village south of the walled town.

The trio stopped in their tracks and Chris began observing the ruins. There were destroyed brick houses and remnants of roads. The elements had begun reclaiming the ruin, as could be seen from the sandy and aged remains of buildings there.

There was a remnant of what must have been a beautiful cathedral in the middle of the village, acting as its center. Its roof had collapsed and the walls were covered in dust. However, what remained of the stained glass could still be seen, and its majesty persisted, despite its fall.

Hidden behind the walls of the ruined buildings were the Silverback Banshees. Despite their names, they were not actually spiritual creatures. They were ape-like monsters, with the adults standing almost two meters tall. They had long, slender limbs that were more suitable for climbing and fur-covered bodies to protect them from the cold.

Their back had a stroke of silver line, and their high-pitched screech would stun predators and preys alike. They always came in a group, and each individual was capable of easily killing a normal human with their beast-like strength.

They said that the Silverback Banshees originated from a jungle far away from the desert. One day, they suddenly came and took refuge in the ruined village, making it their territory. Legends said that the monsters were originally herbivores, eating the fruits and produce of the jungle, but since moving to the desert, they had evolved to be carnivorous creatures, relying on their deathly shriek to hunt. The creatures had also developed an organ in their ears that would block loud noises, granting them immunity to their own shrieks.

They were diurnal creatures, so the pack would be sleeping at that moment.

”Remember our strategy? ” whispered Crane.

”Of course, ” replied Chris proudly, ”Well find one with an infant and kidnap it. ”

”Well be lucky if we can just kill the infant without trouble, but the mother will most likely notice and chase us, ” added Catherine.

”Yes, thats correct. They are diurnal monsters, so they cannot see well in the dark. They are also very cautious creatures. If we can take the infant outside their territory, the others will most likely not give chase. The mother, however, will be very angry so she will still run after us. If its just one of them, we have a chance of winning, ” explained Crane one more time, making sure they were all on the same page.

Chris and Catherine nodded simultaneously.

”We need to deal with it quickly and your ability will be the deciding point in this battle, ” added Crane.

Understanding what his brother meant, Chris grinned.

Crane and Catherine waited outside the ruins of the village, and this time, the puppet stayed by their side. The light from the candle it was carrying would be enough to attract the group of monsters in the ruin.

Chris relied on his night vision and sneaked into the abandoned village as silently as he could. His body hung low and he hugged the remains of walls to avoid open spaces. With his Blessing of Stealth, Chris was undetectable in the dark night by their targets.

He walked carefully past a ruin of a well and took the path to the right. He didn have Cranes danger detection ability, so he could only try to locate the target with his instinct. Chris kept on walking on the remains of a road that was now almost all covered in sand while staying close to the walls.

After searching for a few minutes, he finally saw a sign of movement to his left. Behind a crumbled building that had its roof almost intact, several long-limbed monsters were sleeping peacefully, not knowing of the hunter aiming for one of them. The silver line behind their backs, which looked orangish to Chriss eyes, was moving rhythmically as they breathed.

Chris scanned the area with his night vision.

Five adults. There is another one that looks bigger than the rest. Probably the leader of the pack. Two infants. The one near the pillar is smaller, but its farther away. That one is half my size, but its location is perfect for escaping.

The man walked stealthily towards the sleeping monsters and approached an adult Silverback Banshee sleeping next to its infant. The mother was holding the infants hand as protection. Their long, thin fingers were interlocked, giving the young one a sense of comfort and safety.

With his Blessing, his movement was undetected by the sleeping creature. However, he knew that the moment he showed a strong killing intent, he would alert the most cautious of the pack and would be killed. Chris focused hard on controlling his emotion and silently approached the target.

When he was in range, he took out the dagger that was hung on his belt and very quickly stabbed the infant.

Shri…!

The baby monster tried to let out a scream, but Chriss knife was buried deep into its throat, preventing any further sound from coming out. However, Chris had managed to grab an illusory orb from that split-second moment.

Copy!

He had copied the creatures Scream. However, it was an infants ability, so it wasn as strong as an adults. It was enough for the purpose he needed though, so he didn think too much and continued on with his job.

Although not successful, the scream and the sudden convulse upon its death caused the mother to wake up.

Chris quickly grabbed the dead creature by the arm before the mother could process what had happened. Blood was smeared onto the ground and left a trail as the man ran as fast as he could towards the edge of the village, dragging the dead creature behind him. In the meantime, his right hand was multitasking between holding the knife and turning the illusory grey orb into an orange-colored orb.

Reverse!

Rush!

The mother of the creature finally realized what had happened a few seconds later and quickly chased the hunter. With its inability to see in the dark, it had some difficulty finding where Chris had gone, but thanks to the trail of blood, it could finally see where its infant had been taken to.

There was anger and panic in the creatures eyes, and following its boiling emotion, it took a very deep breath in a very short time. Its hairy, slender chest bulged and the creature opened its mouth wide. It was going to alert the whole village of the intruder with its Scream, as well as stun the target.

Nothing came out!

Silence!

It was the reversed ability of Scream, which would prevent any sound from coming out of the targets mouth the moment the ability was used.

The Silverback Banshees mother became confused, but its anger quickly took over again. It abandoned rational thought and quickly gave chase.

Chris retracted his right arm and just focused on running as fast as he could while dragging the dead monster, leaving a trail of bloody sand behind him.

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