Chapter 4: In the Jaws of Death

The strange wilderness full of ponds and hills was terrifying to Flay. His ears could hear the movements in the waters nearby and avoided the ponds where he was sure there were monsters.

Flay kept running and running but maintained silence and peak concentration.

Even the Slime dared not ask any more questions but was amazed by the hearing of Flay, which would equal the Brute power users of the third Rank of Power who could enhance their hearing. But after seeing how some creatures emerged from the pond, the Slime realized that Flay was at least twice better than them.

“Just who is this master of mine? His identity is even more curious than my own!” The Slime was amazed.

Minutes passed as Flay moved further and further away from the river. He had been using the location of the stars and could roughly tell where the direction of his village was and where the Tamers had set up camp for this trip.

“They must have surely gone back to camp. I hope everyone’s safe. Those darned Might Wolves! I’ll tame all of them!” Flay was cursing as he moved.

But as he approached a nearby hill, he heard the familiar cry.

He suddenly stopped.

“Master?”

“That Pteranodon! It’s nearby! I think it’s headed for this place!” Flay cursed.

“What? You’re sure?!”

“I know that cry! I’ve been hearing it for days! And since I heard it up close, I can tell that it’s that damned bird again!” Flay looked around and saw a shallow pond nearby.

Flay ran towards it.

The pond was a little below knee level. But Flay knew if he kept the smile deep down and lay flat on the pond, they should escape the Pteranodon's notice.

“This should do. Slimey, turn back into a- Woah!” Flay shouted as the ground moved.

A massive mouth suddenly broke out of the thick mud and made its maw at Flay.

At that moment of extreme crisis, Flay knew that it would be pointless to move back. So he charged forward and readied his sword.

“HAA!” Flay entered the massive jaw of the beast and stabbed upwards with all of its might.

STAB! CRUNCH!

Flay could feel his muscles tear up, and his bones were close to breaking. But his desperate attack was successful. The jaw halted from chomping down, and the creature that bit him began to screech in pain.

“ROAR!” The beast tossed and turned, but the slime sword used its sticky ability so that it won’t be removed.

In pain and anger, the creature moved out of the pond and began to wave its head in desperation.

Flay held on and kept his feet firmly planted and pushed up.

The beast stopped, and as it felt great pain and every minute movement it made, Flay would force his arms up.

The jaws of this monstrous gator could fit several adults. And normally, anyone caught in this maw would surely die, and their weapons would break. But the slime creature which took the form of that sword was not only able to stop the closing jaw. It actually wounded the gator as it was slightly sturdier than his former sword.

“This monster…! It's a gator! How careless of me! Gators like this can stay in a position without moving a muscle for hours. It was just staying here waiting for the right momen. My own hearing has failed me!” Flay complained. He looked out and felt a strange sense of helplessness.

And even though he lived, what can an injured Rookie-ranked teenager do against the wild beasts of this land? Even if he manages to escape this gator, another scarier beast is lurking around nearby, searching to kill him.

Thoughts of helplessness surfaced, and Flay thought that it would be easier to submit to the crushing weight of the gator's jaw.

“Hmm… But if I do that, it would be convenient to this stupid gator! Better keep fighting! At the very least, I have to kill this lizard!” Flay decided.

The sword had stabbed in a specific part of the mouth of the gator that, if pushed any deeper, would be lodged into the brain of the gator.

“Hey, Slimey. How are you holding up?”

“I actually broke and had to glue myself up in here, Master.” The slime laughed.

“Yeah. If you weren't my sword, I’d have died. The success of this stab was not out of my strength, but it was mainly due to the crushing weight of this stupid gator's jaw. But now, I don’t even have the strength to push the sword up.”

“GROWL!”

The monstrous gator itself was raging at his plight. He could not crush the teenager in his mouth since the sword would stab upwards and penetrate the gator's brain.

Once more, the gator tried to throw the teenager out of its mouth by shaking its head. But Flay would push the sword up or turn it sideways to give the gator a pained sensation and the fear of dying. So the battle of endurance continued with the gator monster trying to throw off the boy and the boy clinging with his might, looking for an opportunity to stab the sword upwards or get out of the jaw in a safe manner.

The gator suddenly stopped its wild threshing as it noticed that the teen wouldn’t be thrown off.

“...He stopped?” Flay sighed in relief.

Glancing around him, he could see that the gator was now headed towards the lake that was on the other side of the hill.

“It’s going somewhere?” The Slime couldn’t see anything but felt the movement of the gator.

It slowly dragged its massive body as it could not lift up its head with the added weight of the Flay and the pain of the sword stabbing towards its brain.

Flay peeked out and understood the plan that the gator had.

“He’s going to drown me in that lake! Ugh. I don’t have the speed, stamina, or Brute power to escape from this beast.” Flay sighed. He could not think of any way to survive what was coming to him.

“Great. I haven’t even proven myself to her yet!” Flay cursed as he began to move around in an attempt to find the right position to jump out of the jaws of this massive gator.

But at the slightest movement, the gator suddenly began to thrash about.

The teen cursed and stopped his movements as he moved back to his original position.

“Tsk. What a smart gator!”

“This probably an INT Gator.” The Slime sword joked.

As Flay was no longer alert of the world, it noticed that the Slime wasn’t actually quiet. Every time it talked, it would make squirms and subtle wiggles. It was only due to its connection with Flay that Flay understood the words of the Slime.

“… An INT Gator? There’s no such thing as an INT Gator!”

“There probably is! The Eos called Saturn had said that life finds a way. He told me before that there are uncountable numbers of monsters out there with unending possibilities of growth and evolution. Haven’t we seen a Pteranodon with a strange mutation? And it could actually use the advanced dark magic, Death Mark.”

“And that strange beast is just out there. It should find us soon. You know, Slimey, it’s been a fun few hours with you.” Flay laughed as he decided that accepting his fate would be easier.

“Yeah. It has. Still, I can’t believe I would die like this with my master, whom I just met hours ago. Oh, cruel fate! I was the great Alchemist who inherited the powers of the Sol Eos, and now I’m here with a shockingly talented kid, fighting a gator in a strange land.”

The teen chuckled as he heard the phrase 'shockingly talented'.

“It’s good that I finally got some recognition! All my life, people looked down on me. And now I'm doomed to die. I should have just stayed back at camp and ignored that darned noisy thump. Now, look at what it got me into!” The youth began to regret his actions in these past days.

“Master, we have time. Why not tell me about how you found me? I’m also quite curious about your Ability!” The Slime urged.

“… I guess there’s nothing else better to do.” Flay could see that the gator was having a hard time climbing up the hill because of the uncomfortable and excruciating position that the boy was in. Even though the lake was just a stone's throw away, the gator would take a while to get there.

“Great! Hopefully, it will explain how you awakened me.”

“I guess so. So where to begin...?”

“. I’m curious about your people. Your clan is definitely an Ability type clan. And it’s quite unique! It managed to control me and make me submissive to you!”

“The Taming Hand. It takes the soul of a monster and binds it with us. But believe it or not, before I fell into the pool and tamed you, I was considered a dud. I’m not sure why I suddenly attained this red jewel.” Flay revealed.

“Amazing! I’ve heard of this ability but never saw it. But frankly, your battle instincts are frightening! I thought we were goners when we saw that giant Pteranodon. That beast could kill Great Experts! And yet we survived! Is your clan of any special position? Are you an elite warrior in your Kingdom?”

“Nope. I’m from a Tamer Clan in Monster’s Edge.” Flay began.

“Monster’s Edge?”

“Yeah. That’s what they call our home. My clan is said to be a clan of traitors and cowards who rebelled against the Kingdom. I think it’s all crap, and it's one big conspiracy because people think that Tamers caused this whole problem in the first place.”

“What problem?”

“The Monstrous Calamity three hundred years ago. You don't know? Hmm... Well, I guess slimes don't really pay attention to human news.”

“This isn’t my home planet, Master Flay. I’m not even sure how I got to that Pteranodon’s lair. But if there was a monster calamity here, then are these monsters not native to this realm?”

“Well, monsters do live in this world. But they were few and would only hide in forests and caves. But all of a sudden, a tide of monsters came out of nowhere and destroyed the world three hundred years ago. The kingdoms of the world back then collapsed, and the surviving kingdoms all fled to this place and made a massive wall to protect their land from the monsters outside. So we were kicked out, but we are allowed to stay near the walls of this Kingdom. And that town is called Monster’s Edge.”

“So it’s named Monster’s Edge because you live on the edge of this monstrous land?”

“Yes. Honestly, the brutal truth is our tribe will probably die out after a few generations. There are just too many of us who die during hunts and more so if there are beast attacks. I wanted to be someone who could protect my village despite being a dud among Tamers! But it seems, even though I now know I’m not a dud, no one may ever know.” Flay sighed.

“ROAR!” A terrifying screech echoed around the land.

Flay’s expression turned horrified as he knew that it was the giant Pteranodon looking for him.

“He found me already?!” Flay cursed as he could see the massive dinosaur crash on the nearby hill.

The roar of the creature scared the gator, and it dropped on its belly and didn’t dare move.

Flay also stopped moving, knowing that the Pteranodon had used its roar to scare everyone so he could search for anything that would.

The massive Pteranodon made a great leap and glided from the hill.

Flay held his breath as he could see the Pteranodon zoom towards his location.

“Is this it?” Flay thought to himself.

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