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Roaring with rage, the manticore was making it impossible to get anywhere close to it. Even with the net keeping it in place, the monster was a formidable opponent. They failed to trap the tail and the creature kept launching poisonous barbs in their direction. If they into the creature’s line of sight, it was all over.

Ben glanced down at the body that lay only a few feet away. Johnny had learned the hard way that moving was a very bad idea. His body had only stopped twitching moments before. Now it was only him and Peter left to kill the beast and neither one of them were going to get close enough.

“How decent of a shot are you?” He yelled, sliding down to sit among the roots of the tree. Over the roaring of the beast, he wasn’t sure that his voice reached Peter or pierced through the shock that the boy was in. Johnny had been like an older brother to the kid so he could understand that shock.

Thankfully, Peter looked away from their dead comrade and up at him. That was a good sign but the way he was shaking his head wasn’t. It was as he feared. All the weapons were either next to Peter or strapped to Johnny’s back and neither of them had bothered to teach the kid to shoot. The only rifle they had brought was struck to Johnny’s back and it wasn’t worth dying over.

If they made it out of this situation alive, he was going to have to make sure the kid could at least shoot a lion-sized creature with some degree of accuracy.

“How are we supposed to kill it?” Peter looked terrified as he pulled out the only other gun they had. When he tossed it over, Ben thanked the gods that the boy had enough intelligence to do that. “It will shoot if we try and look!”

At that, both of them glanced down towards the body between them and swallowed thickly. Without knowing how the creature was moving, they were just as likely to miss as they were to hit it. It was also possible that not getting a fatal shot would only make the thing angrier.

“You stay put! I’m going to use the bushes and see if I can get a clear shot around the side.” Peter looked terrified but nodded anyway. Neither of them knew how long it would take for the manticore to tire out but they couldn’t wait all night.

Using the bushes as cover, Ben inched his way around. The underbrush wasn’t very high and so he had to crawl on his stomach. Getting up meant getting a barb through the head while staying down only meant having to crawl through thorns and a bit of ivy.

Pausing after a particularly loud roar, he hated this hunting trip more than anything else he had ever experienced in his life. It wasn’t their first manticore but this one was more unpredictable than the last. Unlike the last one, this one was deliberate, efficient. Less of a beast and more like a guard dog; as if someone had trained it to wait for the right moments to attack.

“That isn’t going to work.” A soft voice startled him and he rolled over to point the gun at the new threat. The ‘threat’ turned out to be a pretty, dark haired woman with a bored look in her eyes. Her wispy white dress was so out of place with the terrible roaring and the roughness of the woods.

“Um what?” It took him a few moments to realize that she had actually said something. Her eye rolling and huff was enough for him to realize that he had been caught staring. He couldn’t help it; she just seemed so out of place.

“Honestly, men.” She sighed, shaking her head at some apparent stupidity of his. He wasn’t sure what he had done but it obviously annoyed the woman. “Like I said, that,” she motioned to the gun with her hand, “isn’t going to work. You’ll only make her angry.”

“Make who?” If anything, she was only making him stare at her more. What was it about this girl that was so odd? “The monster?”

That earned him a swift kick into the ribs and one of the darkest glares he’d ever seen on a woman. While he gasped for air, she took the moment to kick his gun away and step over him. Scrambling for his and Peter’s only hope for survival, he nearly missed her next set of words.

“It’s men like you and my father who piss me off. Only seeing creatures like Lillian as monsters when she’s only doing what nature intended for her to do.”

His hands closed around his gun and he turned in time to watch her pull a knife out of her boot and cut away the ropes that were holding the manticore down. Ben wasn’t sure what was more terrifying; the beast being loose or the fact that it had turned into a pile of purring mush beneath the mystery woman’s fingers.

Even Peter, who was moving out from behind the tree looked in shock. The manticore was a man killing monster and had been for thousands of years but this slip of a woman had turned it into a pet. It had to be witchcraft. That was the only plausible explanation.

“Who are you?” Ben asked, raising the gun to point at the woman. A witch was a hell of a lot harder to deal with than a mindless beast.

The woman turned, keeping her hand on the man-like head of the manticore. It didn’t stop the creature from snarling at him but she did keep it from lunging.

“My name is Pearl.” She answered, her eyes moving from the gun to his face. “I rescue and train your so called monsters.”

That was the last thing he had been expecting.

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Here’s another one!

Next Creature: Wyvern

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