"What do we do captain?"
Mason came back to reality and watched his surroundings.
The spiders seemed satisfied with their reaps and slowly retreated carrying around 40 corpses on their backs.
Mason's eyes became resolute as he ordered.
"We stop as many as we can. I don't know why they are stockpiling food but we cannot allow so many of them to run away like this. Luke, you will follow those that escape and find out where their nest is. Good luck!"
He waited no more and went in pursuit of the beasts, the others followed behind him.
The group focused the spiders busy with the transport since they could not counterattack and in their poor intelligence they did not set any defensive formation around them.
Noah used his speed to appear in front of them and deal a clean lunge to their heads, which was his best method to spare "Breath" against their tough exoskeleton and still finish them in one blow. Meanwhile, he used his mental energy to pay attention to the guards' fighting method.
Mason would use his big ax to deal devastating blows not caring about hitting the corpses on the spiders' backs.
He swung his weapon with great dexterity and momentum creating his personal area of destruction as he advanced in the middle of the retreating group of beasts.
Noah could not help but think that if he got struck by one of those swings he would die on the spot.
Eddy and Rob had more difficulties.
Their martial art was the Balvan sword style which was rank 1 so its effects were limited against a rank 2 beast specialized in defense.
After they realized that they were only wasting energy, they used their swords to slow as many spiders as they could waiting for some of their companions to finish them.
From time to time, a sharp sound would run between them and a spider would fall dead on the ground with an iron arrow struck deep in its head. Luke was helping them from some distance away as he followed the faster specimens returning to their nest.
Balor was doing fine. His strikes were not precise but had great momentum, with his body weight added to his hammers one, every downward strike would kill or heavily injure a spider.
The slaughter continued for 20 minutes with only a small part of the beasts group managing to escape.
More than 30 spider corpses were scattered on the ground staining the terrain with green blood. The corpses of the villagers were either reduced to a pulp or heavily mutilated from the battle.
"Haha! The bodies of the ironclad spiders are really useful to the creation of magical weapons, when the inner circle comes to clean up we will be greatly rewarded!"
Balor exclaimed happily, and Eddy and Rob followed suit smiling radiantly.
Only Mason and Noah were frowning deep in thought.
'These beasts never reacted to our presence, they were only concerned on retreating with the dead villagers, something doesn't feel right.'
He looked in the direction of Mason and saw that he was probably thinking about the same thing.
He raised his eyes from the ground and looked at Noah shaking his head, neither him, with his experience, found an answer to the strange behavior of the spiders.
"We will know more once Luke comes back, let's rest at the village for now, maybe the villagers' stories can enlight us."
Noah nodded while the other 3 men looked confused by the captain words but chose to follow his orders anyway.
They needed food and rest after this battle, and the mission was far from finished.
Back at the village, Mason asked questions around but in the end, he found nothing useful.
He exposed what he had learned to the other four while they were eating some soup made of the leftovers inside the village.
"The attacks started around a week ago. At first, the spiders would kill the livestock of the village and carry it back to their nest. When the livestock ended, they targeted humans with the same pattern: kill and bring back. The situation escalated till the invasion of today. According to the elders of the village descriptions, this was the highest number they attacked with, so we can assume that they are increasing the number of their group."
'This makes no sense, there was selflessness in their actions, they didn't even protect themselves!'
"We killed quite a lot of them though, I think we can assume that their number in the nest should not go over 60."
Rob argued trying to lift the group morale.
The door of the house they were in opened as Luke's figure appeared. He calmly sat on the opposite side of Mason and took a drink from Eddy's soup.
"The entrance of the nest is at a few hours of travel going East. It is an underground cave naturally formed. I followed the spiders inside for a bit but then opted to retreat for fear of being surrounded."
Mason nodded and asked.
"What do you think of the situation?"
Luke took another sip from Eddy's bowl.
"It was strange, I could clearly tell that they were amassing food but there were a lot of spider's corpses inside the cave. It's like they are undergoing a forced reproduction only to eat their offspring."
Rob was disgusted thinking about this and cursed loudly.
"A beast, even if a magical one, is still a beast in the end."
Noah was even more confused now, their behavior made no sense. If they needed food to reproduce themselves why would they eat their offspring? What was worth dying for, for a magical beast?
Mason reviewed all the information he had and made the attack plan.
"We gather some resources tonight and then set an encampment in front of the entrance of the nest. Tomorrow morning, we will go inside to explore and clear the cave. If we cut their replenishment of food and diminish their numbers little by little we will be completely safe while still completing the mission. Get ready, we depart in one hour."
No one objected, so they got ready and by midnight they had set a fireplace 50 meters from the entrance of the nest.
They took turns to keep a night watch.
When it was Noah's turn, he could not suppress the faint sense of danger that the cave made him feel.
No matter how much he reviewed the information he had, he would always feel that he was missing something.
'Selfless magical beasts, continuous accumulation of food, cannibalism. What is actually happening?'
Nothing that could link all these pieces of information came to his mind.
He calmed himself and sorted his mind, he was ready for the battle coming in the morning.