During combat, Spined Eagles were only somewhat difficult to deal with. They had an AOE attack but using it prevented them from flying for a few weeks, and it was weaker than their regular attacks.
The real threat they posed was the ability to reproduce quickly. No one knew if Spined Eagles laid eggs or not, but their numbers could triple in a few short weeks.
Cheng Yang died in his previous life because his Lord had been unwilling to make the sacrifices necessary to clear out a flock of Spined Eagles. He decided to wait until the village was stronger, but by then, there were dozens of times more monsters which led, presumably, to the village’s destruction.
Without Warriors to protect them, the lives of ranged Professionals were harvested like wheat. Once the soldiers were dead, the birds flew right past the walls and slaughtered the remaining civilians.
Those who could retreat into buildings, but those could only hold out for so long. Cheng Yang was one of the few that was able to make it to safety in the Tavern, where survivors sent the world a warning: whatever the cost, destroy any colonies of Spined Eagles as soon as they appear.
Shortly after, the building was destroyed, and everyone inside was killed.
That’s why, even if he was scared, Cheng Yang was prepared to face his fears. If he let this flock grow, it would only lead to a repeat of the tragedy in his previous life.
Forcing himself to push forwards, Cheng Yang led his group up the steep side of the hill. As the trees became sparse, bushes dominated the landscape, slowing down their climb.
At certain points, they were forced to use thorny branches to pull themselves up. Even with Cheng Yang’s Physical Defense, the thorns tore up his hands. To Cheng Yang’s admiration, Liu Wei, the person with the worse Physical Defense, pressed on without complaint.
“My Lord, above you.” Yu Kai suddenly hissed into Cheng Yang’s ear.
Cheng Yang looked up in shock. Sharps claws glinted in the sun like metal blades as a Spined Eagle dove towards Cheng Yang with the sheer momentum of a meteor.
Cheng Yang’s hand twitched, but his body refused to move.
Cheng Yang watched the originally furious eyes of the Spined Eagle gloss over as its dive turned into a fall. With a muffled thump, it hit the ground to Cheng Yang’s left.
When it hit the ground, Yu Kai nearly gasped. Cheng Yang hadn’t moved, so how did the monster die? He heard Liu Wei say something, but how could it have been her?
Since when were Priests able to do that? Especially ones that performed their class change ceremony less than a week ago!
“My Lord was that… did she…” Yu Kai struggled to express himself and settled for just pointing at Liu Wei and then at the bird’s corpse.
Since there wasn’t a way to hide Liu Wei’s abilities anymore, Cheng Yang briefly shared everything with Yu Kai. From the beginning, Cheng Yang hadn’t intended to hide the truth from his generals. There just hadn’t been a good time to bring it up before.
Since the truth was already exposed, Cheng Yang decided to let Liu Wei handle any other monsters that got close to them. Although it was an accident the first time, it was also the right decision. If either Cheng Yang or Yu Kai had attacked, they would have drawn the attention of the rest of the flock.
As they continued climbing, Yu Kai struggled to come to terms with being next to someone so dangerous. The sense of superiority he felt after having leveled up twice vanished. Even though it looked like the person next to him was a normal girl, she was capable of killing him with a single thought.
“Ms. Liu, when you first arrived in Phoenix Village, I was going to offer to help you if you ever got into trouble, but it seems that won’t be necessary. Rather, I’m the one who should be asking you for help.” Yu Kai said with a nervous laugh, trying to ease his tension.
“Governor Yu, there’s no need for flattery. My skills are impressive, but limited. Your power as a High-Grade Ranger is more impressive.” Liu Wei responded with a polite, but cold, tone.
Yu Kai smiled. “Perhaps you’d be willing to join me in Silkworm Mountain then? You can help me develop my hapless soldiers by providing a strong frontliner.”
Liu Wei smiled but stayed silent. A foolish question like that didn’t deserve an answer from her.
“Stop chattering Yu Kai. If you alert those monsters, we’ll really be in a bad position.” Cheng Yang snapped, his anxiety having been driven to the limit by Yu Kai flirting with Liu Wei in a situation like this.
Yu Kai sobered up immediately, and the three continued their climb in silence.
After being surprised once, Cheng Yang was meticulous in choosing a path without the chance of being attacked. Even so, a Spined Eagle would occasionally spot them. Luckily, they were solitary creatures, and Liu Wei was able to silence any that came close.
They only ran into a few Spined Eagles, but just that sampling was enough to demonstrate how quickly the Spined Eagles level up. More than a third of the monsters were already at the Standard-Grade level.
Without Liu Wei assassinating every monster that came close, their group would have had a much harder time climbing the mountain if the average level was so high.
Once they got within two hundred meters of the peak, the group was greeted with a magnificent sight. A bird’s nest the size of a house perched on a tree that reached up towards the heavens.
It made sense since the Spined Eagles were so large, but even large birds from the old world didn’t make nests like that! The biggest like ostriches would make nests on the ground, not high up in trees.
“That’s so much bigger than it seemed from afar.” Yu Kai marveled.
“Quiet.” Cheng Yang hissed while looking around nervously. “If there’s a nest-like that, the leader of this flock should be somewhere around here. We have to kill that one first! Liu Wei can’t kill it, but it probably can kill her.”
Yu Kai nodded then started to survey the mountain. Every tree on the way to the peak was decorated with at least one bird’s nest, but most were empty and unguarded. Even so, about a hundred Spined Eagles were hovering overhead.
“You said there was treasure here, right?” Cheng Yang asked Yu Kai. “Where was it?”
“Oh yeah, I almost forgot about that. It’s in the nest on the tree at the very top of the hill.”
“What! How did you manage to spot that?”
“With a telescope.” Yu Kai said sheepishly. “While I was running from the military yesterday, I found a set of binoculars, one of them dropped.”
“Tch, what a lucky bastard.”