Looking out across the forest that sometimes moved a bit, he felt that now would be as good a time as any to start his exploring of the place in greater depth. What with the strange bird-like creatures he had encountered in the widespread forest earlier, he was not entirely certain as to what he might expect to run into this time. Luckily for him, these predatory birds had not considered him to be food, probably because they had never laid eyes on a human being before. As such, there was a chance that if he were to venture back into the place, at least one of them might try to get a shot in at him out of sheer curiosity, in which case he would certainly need to defend himself. Preferring not to have to kill anything as he passed through the forest, he would keep his sword at the ready, being able to summon it to him in a split second if need be. With that thought in mind, he descended into the forest from his perched position.
Starting to make his way through the woodlands, every rustle of leaves he heard put him on edge, knowing how fast those tree birds could strike after seeing one of them snatch up some sort of outlandish deer. Given their speed and size, Solmar figured that his senses would pick up on them as soon as they might even think of making a move on him, or so he hoped. Having grown to become quite capable, there were few things in the world the young swordsman feared, though there was one thing wrong with that current mindset that he was quite aware of. He was no longer on that "world", and there was no telling exactly what he might be running into once he got deeper into the forest. As much as this idea bothered him, it also spiked a certain curiosity that overcame his feelings of inadequacy. If he could handle himself in Fiore and Earthland, how big would the chances be that he might actually meet his match and killed here. Figuring he would be fine as long as he remained cautious and weary, he continued moving through the forest.
With every creak coming from above, he looked up ever so slightly, watching as large round avian eyes were staring down upon him. As threatening as they might have appeared, it seemed that they still did not consider him food and therefore just allowed him to continue along his merry way. As the minutes started piling up, he put quite a few kilometers between himself and the portal that had brought him here. Luckily for him though, he was quite adapt at finding his way around things, which was also why he had never gotten lost in all of those years he spent growing up in the wilderness. Although he was on his guard every second of the journey, he was amazed at how relatively uneventful it all was, almost as if he were wandering through an enchanted version of the woods in Fiore. But just when he started feeling like the local flora and fauna were harmless to him, he heard a loud crash beside him at a distance of little over ten meters. When he looked over in the direction of the noise, it seemed that some of the trees had fallen over, or so he thought.
Closer inspection showed that it was in fact one of the predatory birds that had been toppled over by a large reptilian creature. What made it stand out where the stripes it had, as well as the hair that seemed to form manes near its head, making it seem like some kind of cross breed between a tiger and an iguana of some kind. One thing was certain though, it was large, fast and lethal as it had easily thrown off one of the rather large birds and seemingly killed it before it had the time to fall to the ground. But just as how it had alarmed Solmar to the presence of a greater threat, so had it done the same to the other predatory birds that had taken residence in the area. Though he believed the lizard was the greatest threat to him at this time, the sound of many dozens of footsteps drawing closer like a rumbling avalanche was even more dangerous. Spooked by the sudden attack on one of their own, it seemed that all of the other birds had decided to make a run for it, causing trees to get knocked over, shrubbery and smaller animals to get trampled, and if he wasn't careful, Solmar himself being trampled as well.
Having no time to keep an eye on the strange reptilian creature, the young mage started making a run for it, hoping that he could somehow remain ahead of the birds that were a whole lot taller than him. As two third of their length seemed to be all leg, it wasn't at all surprising that these beings were incredibly fast and nimble. However, due to their frightened state, they did not care for whatever what was in their way as their only thought right now was about their own survival, and who could blame them. Barging forward, they crashed over one another as all familial ties went out of the window. All these creatures cared for was themselves and nothing else, others be damned. Being all too aware of this fact, there wasn't a thing in the world that could keep Solmar from running for his own life right now. While he could use his magic to protect himself, he would risk not only setting a large portion of this marvelous forest ablaze, but also killing creatures that were really just looking to stay alive.
While he too was just looking to survive, he did not want to do so at the cost of this whole portion of the forest, and so he just kept running as fast as his legs could take him. Due to his training and his lifetime of having to survive and outrun creatures larger or stronger than him, he managed to somehow keep himself ahead of the long-legged predator birds. When he looked over his shoulder, he saw how the massive lizard was still where it was before, feasting on the one it had taken down, though another one of its kind dashed out from behind some large rocks and started chasing the already frightened birds with vigor. Continuing to run, it was as if his legs were going even faster now that the jaws of death had chasing both him and the birds that were threatening to crush him underfoot if he so much as tripped or slowed his stride. Making his way through the forest where it changed for a more rocky terrain to his side, he saw a large cavern and plenty of rocks tall enough for him to hide behind and maybe get a break from all of the running.
Figuring that it was better than the alternative, which was to keep on endlessly running until he no longer could, he altered his trajectory and made his way over to it. Dodging and dashing between some of the tree-sized legs of the birds as he ran past them and leaped into the rocks, he barely managed to hit the floor before the massive reptile dashed into the side of one of the birds and caused it to crashed right on top of the rocks he was hiding under. With a rush of blood washing over him like standing underneath a waterfall made of the red liquid, he kept his mouth and eyes shut as he crawled further underneath the rocks. Getting a few meters away from the drowning pool of blood to the point where he could breathe again, he gasped deeply in an attempt to fill his lungs and put some distance between himself and the two creatures that were locked in a fight for survival. Though already mortally wounded, the bird still snapped its scissor-like beak at the creature, clipping some scales and a bit of hair, but not managing to land any truly painful blows.
Watching the struggle, the bird kept snapping until the reptile managed to place one of its paws on top of its throat, right beneath the head, allowing it to close its large maw around the long neck of the bird and snap straight through it like bolt cutters. Meeting little to no resistance at all, the lizard severed the head from the neck in one single bite, thus ending the struggle and killing its prey. With that much done, it let out a loud howl that did not seem like the kind of noise a reptile would make, being more akin to the roar of a lion, mixed with a strange gurgling noise. Regardless of that, it was quite an amazing spectacle to behold, especially for someone like Solmar who was basically just a visitor to this new place that had next to nothing on it and any of the creatures living inside of it. Waiting for the animal to stop boasting about its kill and started eating his prize, Solmar started putting a bit of distance between itself and the creature so that it wouldn't notice him and consider him some kind of scavenger that needed to be taken care of.
As he scurried away from it and drew closer to the cavern, it was there that his eye fell on something equally if not more interesting. Strange markings on the rocks that were partially covered in moss, as well as other signs of some kind of tribe living here. In many ways, it reminded him of what he had encountered when he followed up on a job and ended up finding a tribe of Kappa hiding deep inside an underwater cavern hidden deep inside of an ocean cove. Though they eventually became friendly to him, he had no reason to believe that the beings living here would greet him with the same kind of friendliness. After all, by all accounts, he was a being that came from a different dimension, so there was no reason to believe that they would greet him as anything other than an alien or a threat, possibly both. Regardless, that would not keep him from researching the place in greater depth, hoping to encounter something or someone that might help him along and get him closer to the point of figuring out whom he was dealing with.
Noticing what seemed like crude weapons or maybe tools to help whatever used them eat or prepare food, he combined it with the markings and strange kinds of symbol based writing along the walls to make the educated guess that these creatures were at the very least sentient. But to what degree this sentience went, that much was something he could only be sure of once he actually saw one of the things that lived here. Aside from that, all he had to go off of were the things he found left and right that told him a few select things about these people. The sheer amount of moss that grew in this place, along with some large holes in the floor made him believe that these beings might be in hiding or were merely living beneath the ground in these holes, which was why they had taken up residence close to the large cave beside him. But again, there was really no telling whether he was even remotely right about any of this until he got to see and speak to the ones that actually lived there.
It was not until he encountered more and more of these holes in the ground that Solmar started to wonder whether the beings dwelling here were for some reason subterranean. With the tribal architecture that surrounded these holes and the larger cavern in the back, he saw drawings upon the stones. Some of them had likely been created from plants carrying colorful pigment, though other drawings had clearly been made out of blood. The strong scent of iron he could sense with his highly capable nose told him all that he needed to know, and his nose was rarely wrong when it came to such things that he himself was quite familiar with. Though the spilling of blood was nothing to be proud of, it was something he had unfortunately been forced to do quite a lot, doing so often making the difference between surviving another day, or simply not surviving at all. As a self-proclaimed hunter, he had already been hired to do quite a few hunting excursions and went after all sorts of monsters and creatures so gruesome they could not even be classified as a monster.
Some of the Eldbitch creatures he had encountered so far were, after all, not from Earthland to begin with. They came from some place beyond the stars, maybe from another dimension even, though one thing had become quite clear to him at the time: they had come for the sole reason of devouring all life in their path. One of those encounters in particular came to mind when he looked at the holes in the ground and the cavern that seemed to go quite a long ways down. It had been close to the beanstalk village, within a portion of the monsterlands where some Eldbitch abomination had started to create a lair among the deep roots of the beanstalk that people revered to as a holy plant of god. Among the roots, it had been laying countless eggs which hatched into creatures with hooves, tentacles, claws and maws that devoured the very life force from within the beanstalk, causing it to slowly start withering and dying. As they too were subterranean creatures, Solmar hoped that he would not have to face these creatures in this place too. For as unlikely as it sounded, this world was a different dimension too, so there was no telling whether their reach had stretched as far as this place too.
Leaving the thought for what it was for now, a mere thought, he started venturing into the main cavern while keeping both ears and eyes open. Not looking forward to the possibility of running into something large and dangerous, he still felt the need to find out what kind of people might be inside of the caverns too. After all, no monsters he knew took the time to craft crude weaponry out of wood and stone, took to drawing pictures and markings on walls and lived somewhere dry as opposed to just living under the open sky. Finding it wise to leave the open space for the time being, at least until the large reptilian beast was done feeding on the large predatory bird outside, he left the scene of the massacre behind. Changing the scenery of the forest for a far darker and more damp place, it wasn't long before the darkness was being lit by brightly colored fungi that grew out of the stone walls. Captivated by their appearance, he figured this glow was due to some form of bioluminescence similar to the fish he had seen when out in the sea waters of Cedar.
Paying closer attention to it, he wanted to touch one of them, only to be alerted to the sound of a high pitched noise echoing through the cavern. Wondering what it might be, he heard something shuffling past the wall near him, though he could not see what it was that made it. Believing that it might have been moving around inside of the wall, he shrugged it off for now and ventured deeper into the place. Paying close attention to the glowing mushrooms, he passed a few turns and forks in the road, finding out first hand that this place reached even deeper than he had actually imagined they might. When the high pitched noises were starting to become a faint memory, Solmar made his way to where the cavern ended, allowing him to look out across a vast and open space beneath the forest. This massive subterranean place stretched out incredibly far, further than his eyes could see. What stood out about this place the most was that there were no trees here of any kind, though there were various kinds of fungi, mushrooms of different shapes and sizes that all had the same form of bioluminescence about them to illuminate a place that would otherwise be covered in darkness.
Finding this place to be far more outlandish than the world above it, which was already very much that, Solmar figured that it was unwise for him to head any further down. Still not knowing all that much as to what he might encounter in the world above, it was unwise to head down into this place when there would be nowhere for him to go if he got himself in trouble. Once he was more certain as to what he could expect, he was absolutely going to be coming back in order to explore this place in far greater depth. For now however, that was simply not the wise thing to do, but at least he knew this place existed and how to get to it. As he turned around to make his way back, he picked up on a slight screeching sound from above him, but when he looked, there was nothing to see, just like before. At this point, Solmar was starting to doubt that there was actually something inside of the walls, and that he might just be hearing things that weren't there. Though unlikely, he wasn't going to rule out that maybe there was something in the air due to the mushrooms that made him see or hear things.
Whether this was truly the case or not remained to be seen, though it only further fueled his drive to get out of the caverns for now and collect his bearings on the surface. With a bit of luck, the large predatory reptile was gone by the time he got there. If not, chances were that he was either going to be in for a fight, or might have some luck at sneaking around the creature as it just ate. Not knowing a thing about the beast, he did not want to assume that it was the kind of predator that would take a nap after hunting and eating, though that was most certainly what he was hoping for at this point in time. Given the size of the creature, it would not have any problem with following him into the cavern system, and there was no doubt that it would be able to sniff Solmar out if it really wanted to follow him. That, and it would be quite hard to take it down since it seemingly had some dense scales, large fangs and an agile shape, meaning it was likely fast and nimble too. Not about to get ahead of himself or the situation at hand, he moved himself towards the direction he believed he had come from. Had he not possessed the greatly enhanced sense of smell and hearing of a slayer, chances were that he would have certainly gotten lost in the labyrinth of different passages within the cavern system.
Walking for a few minutes, he stopped in his tracks, knowing for sure that he heard a few quick and nimble footsteps behind him. Barely registering at all, his ears were not fooled quite so easily. Back in Hosenka, he had managed to hear a bunch of trained ninja sneaking around and actually managed to find them before they could strike and assassinate him based on his hearing alone. As soon as he turned his body, he heard the strange and high-pitched screeching again, this time coming from different locations at the same time. This time however, there was something else that was different about it, namely that it was more audible and seemed to be in response to him turning to face the footsteps he heard. If what he thought right now turned out to be true, it meant that something had been stalking him ever since he first registered the screeching noise, which had been for quite some time now. Hoping that this did not come from whatever species it was that was living around the cavern, at the very least it meant that they were smart enough to stalk him before attacking him, which meant that he might be able to speak to them before things escalated.
"To whoever is out there, I mean you no harm. But if you want to talk, show yourself. If you don't, I'll consider your skulking as an act of hostility."
Speaking up to any who might hear it, it fell silent for a little while, which proved to him that they were capable of understanding what it was he said, or merely registered that he was capable of making noises from his mouth too. Whichever it was, he hoped that it was the former of the two. When the chattering and screeching continued however, Solmar knew enough as nothing showed itself to him, meaning they chose to be enemies rather than friends. Given the time they had spent following him around from the shadows, which had been since the very moment he first set foot inside of the caverns, chances were that these beings had a plethora of chances at lashing out at him, but had for some reason chosen not to do so just yet. Running his mind over the possible reasons behind this, the most prominent one he could devise was that they were sizing him up, figuring out what his strengths and his weaknesses were before pouncing at him from wherever it was that they were hiding. Not about to give them a chance to pull this off, he figured that since his surroundings were all rock and stone, using his magic couldn't hurt.
As such, a towering amount of white fire rose up from Solmar, reaching all the way up to the ceiling as the magical light it shone started illuminating the creatures that seemed to be hiding through means of camouflage. Screeching at the idea of being found out without having had a chance to attack him properly, Solmar got a good look at their physical features, which made the lizard monster outside look like the kind of animal one might try to pet. Looking into what seemed like a gaping hole in their head, a large maw with rows of sharp teeth and tall yet slander body types, they reminded him of some sort of ape that had mutated beyond recognition. They were certainly clever, sentient and capable of using some kind of camouflaging method to hide themselves from being seen, though they were not planning on communicating with him, and so they were his enemies by choice. And by that extent, he too was their enemy. Releasing the pillar of flame, a wave of fire burst forth towards the side of the cavern, causing one of the green, moss covered ape-like beings to screech in a hellish tone as it was in great paining.
Running towards the exit, more of the creatures dropped down from the ceiling as they attacked the young mage with their claws. Doing his best to remain away from their reach as there was no telling what kind of filth might be accompanying their scratches, he summoned Sunvaar Kriid to his side. Using the massive greatsword to both keep some distance between him and the creatures and cut down those that came too close to him, it was at that point that he figured out some other interesting features these beings possessed. For whatever reason, when an arm got lobbed off or deep cuts were inflicted upon them, a regenerating factor kicked in that rapidly grew back limbs and closed their wounds, making it seem like there hadn't ever been one in the first place. To Solmar, this seemed like it made them more or less impervious to damage, though there was a weakness to it that he had already registered earlier; Fire. So far, those that had been hit with his fire magic hadn't gotten up yet, meaning it was a way to stop them from regenerating. And luckily for Solmar, fire was something he had plenty of.
Tightening his grip on the hilt of the greatsword, he let his fire magic flow into it as the blade super-heated to the point where it radiated heat and took on a white glow. As was always the case with his demon slaying magic, the white hue was something that just more or less happened as he had no idea how to tone that down. Regardless, the light radiating off of his blade gave it that magical appearance that made people want to avoid it even more than normal, and he figured the same went for these creatures. After all, they were sentient and had the mind and thought process to learn from the mistakes of others, which became notable when the other creatures kept at a distance from his blade after seeing a few of them get killed on the spot. It was at that point that he figured out that they had been doing quite a bit of learning as a pack, because as they were incapable of closing in on him from the front or the sides, they started increasing their numbers and started circling him. Actively looking for a place from where they could strike at his back, Solmar was gradually starting to lose his composure as he felt like he might need to let out his magic and burn all of them to death.
That was however not something he wanted to do to the locals of a new location, a new world even, one where he was a guest and not the reigning specimen. Still, they had decided to make an enemy out of him when they presented themselves as a carnivorous bunch that had just been stalking him this entire time to kill and eat him. What with the bloody markings and bones outside, the tools that seemed to have been made simply to make eating and preparing meat easier, he should have realized something was up sooner. But being the person that he was, he had decided that it would have been better if he stepped into things from a kind perspective and gave the indigenous people a chance. Narrowing his eyes as he turned and twisted his stance to keep up with the creatures that were circling him and approaching him from different sides, waving his blade around to keep them at bay for the time being. Just as he was about to blow them all away with his fire, an object got thrown to the floor in front of him. As it exploded, it sent a deafening noise throughout the tunnel that seemed to completely throw the creatures off guard, but not just them.
Due to his own heightened hearing, it was as if someone had taken a hammer and smashed it into his eardrums. Leaving him dazed, he felt something grab him by the shoulder and tug at him. Seeing that it wasn't one of the carnivorous creatures, he decided to follow this person away now that he had the chance to make a break for it. Following the strange looking person back towards where daylight was breaching through the darkness, the two did not stop running until they were some ways away from the caverns. By the time the shouting and screeching could no longer be heard and he was certain that there was nothing following them this time, Solmar turned his attention towards the one responsible for helping him out of that heated situation. Taking a moment to catch their breaths, Solmar unsummoned his blade, figuring that it would have been quite odd if this person chose to attack him now after going through all of that effort to get him away from those cave dwelling monstrosities. The more he thought about it, the more it made him wonder as to what they were, and if they were in some way demonic. From what he could see, they were certainly sentient to some degree since they had an odd sort of architecture, used weapons and could communicate with one another with high pitched shouts and screeches to organize their hunts.