Edited by: Hakuchi
I am in the plains again. After hunting a good amount of horned mice I was resting, staring intently at the campfire I made.
“Should I do it?” I gulped hesitantly.
My hand was holding a skewered horned mouse steaming, ready to be consumed.
There’s now no way to avoid this route. My last hope was that the guild would provide me enough to live with a stable meal, but now that the harsh reality has hit me…
“My current objective is to leave Arnesti as soon as possible. If I continue at this pace I will most likely not step out of this place for months.”
I didn’t want to stay in a kingdom where Count Melroc is supervising, not knowing what he will do next because of his unfounded suspicions.
I steeled my resolve once more and stared at the now hornless mice.
‘It’s alright. I gathered some spices from around the place so it should taste fine.’
I close my eyes and take a bite out of the horned mouse. With a fast gulp, I didn’t even attempt to chew. I almost threw up the moment the mouse entered my mouth.
“This tastes like clay!” (Not like I have tasted it)
The strong taste of the horned mouse won against the spices I used to negate the flavor.
I tried spitting out the remains in my mouth, but then a fierce pain pierced through my stomach and rapidly coursed through my whole body.
“Uagh! What…what is going on?!”
This is strange. I definitely read that mana beasts were consumable. I have even seen some that were considered as livestock.
Was there a difference in the field ones?!
I clutch my chest and bear with the pain. 1… 2 minutes.
It only lasted for 2 minutes but felt a lot longer. As the pain resided, I try standing up. My legs felt shaky and my vision was hazy.
‘This is bad’
If I had a health point bar, it would definitely be in the red zone right now.
“Right” Mentioning the HP bar helped me remember those potion flasks the inn keeper gave me. I haven’t drunk any yet as they were still considered slight luxuries for me. Though this wasn’t the time to be thinking that, it would be dangerous to return to town in the state my body is in. If I got ambushed by a mana beast, I would be done for.
Gulping down the potion, I felt as though I was drinking cherry juice. It rinsed my mouth and recovered my body slowly.
‘Wow, this potion is good’
Thanking the inn keeper in my mind for this save, I decide to burn all the corpses of horned mice I had in my inventory.
Flexing my body and swinging my sword a few times I confirm that my body was now at full functionality.
“Let’s try the next mana beast”
Horned mice were now easy to handle but the experience they gave was poor. It was time to change targets.
Heading deeper into the plains, I engaged light-feet foxes, rolling moles, and a few horned mice as well.
It was a much easier battle than my first try as I was getting used to the mana beasts’ movements and remembering the basics in combat. Learning their patterns, their habits and using accurate strikes, I breeze through the second stage of the plain.
“I didn’t expect my body to move so well”
Skinning the feet of the light-feet fox, I began questioning myself.
“The stats are most likely the reason I am able to regain my past movements”
I was very proficient in martial arts back in my world as I learned various forms of it. Though my main focus was kendo, I realized along the way that all the different forms of martial arts were connected and began practicing them even if it was for a short time.
When I arrived in this world, my body didn’t move as I desired and this was even clearer in fights as I wasn’t able to produce what I was picturing in my mind. I thought it was my lack of practice, but the main reason may be a matter of the body.
Opening my stat window I look for confirmation,
Age: 21 Gender: Male
Class: Villager Race: Human
Alignment: None Guild: None
It was a speed beyond the first day of my hunt.
I leveled up 5 times and, even though my body was not strong, it was reacting properly. It didn’t feel cranky at all compared to when I first arrived. It’s like oiling an old machine.
I was feeling ecstatic now. At this pace I might be able to take on the forest as the ones in the plains were too easy for me now. Also, in the forest I may be able to find herbs that I can use to create my own potions.
With that thought in mind, I head in the direction of the forest. It was getting late so I increased my pace.
‘I’m going to farm those herbs’
As I enter the forest, I immerse myself in the purity of this place. I have been to forests before for training, but the ones in this world had something…different, like a mysterious aura. It was swirling gently around the place.
Concentrating on this mysterious aura, I discover that it was actually trailing from somewhere.
I decide to follow it and see where it led to.
Not too long after, I find a mana beast eating some kind of grass that stood out from the rest. This mana beast had big antlers, its thin legs were covered with some kind of rock and its eyes were beady. It was roughly 1.6m in all fours, a Granite Deer.
My mouth begins to water.
I don’t know about the horned mouse, but a deer definitely sounds more comestible.
Approaching it silently while killing my presence, I prepare my sword and rush at the Granite Deer, aiming to get it from behind.
When I entered the range where I could kill the Granite Deer, I stab at it with all the strength in my hips. The ears in the Granite Deer twitch a bit, and as if there was no prior movement involved, sprung his legs backward, directly meeting my rush.
I couldn’t react properly at this attack and received the full force of the kick. The hard granite legs of this deer packed an incredible force, forcing all the air out of my lungs.
“Gah!” I let out a cry and roll on the floor, still feeling that intense force from my chest.
The Granite Deer turns and faces me. It slowly approaches me with dignified steps, the granite making crunching noises as it moves through the grass, eyeing its fallen prey. Apparently, the Granite Deer is an omnivore!
Stopping in front of me, he lifts his granite leg, looking to finish me off.
I didn’t just lay there doing nothing. I rolled away from its stomp and respond with a slash to its throat. The Granite Deer just lowers its head and meets the sword with his antler, stopping all the force of my sword and pushing it back to me.
I get send flying back again but manage to stay on feet.
Gasping for breath, I see how deep of an error I made. The Granite Deer I am confronting was clearly stronger than me. I didn’t expect the mana beasts from the forest to differ so much from the ones in the plains. It was on a totally different level, from its reaction speed to the strength of its attacks. But there was a problem worse than that.
‘This Granite Deer is definitely faster than me’
I can’t escape. This is the conclusion I arrive at.
The moment I show my back to this Granite Deer is the moment I am stomped to the ground by its rushing force.
Since retreat was not an option, I decide to take a gamble.
Taking out my shield from the inventory, I prepare myself for round 2.
The Granite Deer was surprised by this. Its beady eyes widening slightly, it steps away and lowers its stance.
I simulate its movement and lower my stance, placing the shield to cover my front.
With a gust of wind that seemed to signal us to begin, we rush out at the same time. The distance wasn’t large and we quickly collide. The impact pushed me a few meters back but I stood still in place, the pain transmitting from the shock. The Granite Deer stopped in place too.
Shifting my body to the side, I slide myself to the right of the Granite Deer. With my already prepared sword, I slash my sword downwards and cut its side.
The Granite Deer was not stupid to just stand there, but its body was not suited for sidestepping and its sides were a fatal weakness of them. It was clear to see just from its lack of reaction and the slow movements it made in response to my movements.
Cutting through the sides of the Granite Deer, blood gushes out and a high pitched sound comes out from it.
The Granite Deer turns and shoves me away.
I get pushed a couple of feet away from it but the shove itself didn’t contain any force so I wasn’t affected that much.
Though the first hit I received did pose a problem. Grabbing my chest, I still feel that throbbing pain and tasted iron on my lips.
The Granite Deer was now reduced to the same state as me. With blood flowing from its body, his reactions would surely be affected.
‘I should have cut the legs instead.’
That thought came to my mind.
The legs of this Granite Deer were coated in sturdy granite. Even if I tried to cut through them, it would most likely be a fruitless effort.
‘More importantly, I couldn’t finish it in one hit. This is bad’
The Granite Deer was now furious. It knew that I was injured and was most likely going to finish me off even if it killed him.
Stomping its feet on the ground and ignoring the wound it had, the Granite Deer charges at me with full strength.
I spit the blood accumulated in my mouth.
With my sword at shoulder height, I concentrate all of my attention at the charging Granite Deer. Its charge resembled a locomotive, heavy sounds rumbling as it approached its destination.
The moment it was just 1 meter away from me, I jump forward and meet his charge with my shield.
‘BOOM’ the sound of the impact resounded through the area, accompanied with the cracking sound of my bones.
My body was still being carried backwards by this powerful charge. Gritting my teeth, I use this chance and stab my sword downwards straight into the skull of the Granite Deer.
The sword met resistance but with the constant impacts against the shield, the deer’s skull was now damaged to a point where my strength was enough to pierce through. With the sword lodged in its skull, the Granite Deer lets out a loud scream and falls to the ground. As the charge stopped suddenly, my body was sent flying and I crashed into a tree.
The hit almost knocks me out but I didn’t let that happen. I quickly take out the last potion and force it down my throat.
The potion takes effect immediately and refreshes my body, preventing me from losing consciousness.
I lie down on the ground and gasp for breath.
I ignore the level up notice and close my eyes.
This fight was incredibly dangerous. My chest received severe damage and my left arm was broken. The damage from this fight would surely not go away just from drinking a single potion.
After I recover enough, I shove the dead Granite Deer into my inventory and quickly leave the place.
The sounds of the fight would most likely attract mana beasts from around the forest. I had to get out of this place fast before they get here.
Retracing my steps, I shift through the forest. Knowing that I would soon be out of this forest, I thought:
‘I have to prepare myself before entering again’
It wasn’t like I couldn’t handle the mana beasts in here, but there was a definite possibility that there were mana beasts that were stronger than the Granite Deer roaming the forest.
With that, I increased my pace even more but then…
A loud scream resounded in the forest as if pulling me back.
This scream was not like the one from the Granite Deer, this was a human scream!
I decided to rush to the source of that sound but stop abruptly.
‘What am I doing?’
This thought rang in my mind.
The Granite Deer was considered one of the weaker types in the forest. The scream was most likely from someone that came prepared to encounter mana beasts but was faced with an opponent stronger than themselves.
‘Would I be able to help anyways?’
A severe wound in my chest, possibly broken ribs, and a broken left arm. I was not in a state where I could face another enemy like the Granite Deer, let alone one even stronger than it.
My feet began to grow heavy. My thoughts were chaining me down.
‘He is our child!’
A familiar voice rang in my mind. The voice of my dad. The sentence he always used to protect me. The words he always used for the sake of not abandoning me.
The chains grew weaker and I begin to chase the source of the scream.
My body was in tatters, if my heart begins to rot too, I would be a disgrace to the life my father so desperately protected.
“I don’t need to fight! If my arms are not working, just use your feet!”
I shout as I prepare for whatever was ahead.
“It happened again”
Tears were falling down from the girl, staring at her fallen comrades, her heart stung. Some were split apart; others were missing an arm or a leg.
The mana beast in front of her was a giant bear with red fur and shining golden eyes, the one responsible for the entire massacre. It was munching one of her comrades, leisurely biting down on him. Its eyes were belittling her, telling her there was nothing she could do about this situation. That she would be next.
Her lower body was tainted long ago. Liquid dripping down from fear, she could tearfully confirm this as her body did not respond.
‘Why should I care anymore?’
The girl’s name is Elinalise Freyhart. Just by having a last name, people instantly knew that she is a girl from a high class family. Her family is indeed very well off, there’s nothing they couldn’t obtain.
The Freyhart family is an important magi family that produces countless powerful magic users. The school they manage is guaranteed to make a mage out of anyone and assures them a high position when they graduate. This made many nobles enroll in this school.
Elinalise Freyhart was extremely talented in magic, surpassing her peers at a young age of 16.
When she was ready to move to the outside to practice real combat training, a severe problem appeared.
The girl will almost certainly encounter some kind of misfortune in her travels, dragging her comrades down with her.
3 times. That’s the number of times she had to change parties.
Her nickname quickly spread between adventurers as “Black Cat”, even though her hair is a beautiful sky blue and her face a glistening white. It was truly a name that most would think unfitting if they saw her at first sight but, it was a different story if you decide to travel with her.
Elinalise could only curse at that nickname as there was no way for her to negate this. She was in every single event that occurred, how could she tell them it wasn’t true?
But now she is facing the worst of it. All of her comrades had perished and her turn is coming.
The red bear mana beast had just finished with its meal and was slowly walking to its next one. Its eyes were fixed on the girl, on Elinalise, with its mouth salivating. Walking as slowly as it could, the red bear seemed to be savoring every moment of her expression as if it were an appetizer.
Approaching its meal, the red bear lifts its giant claws preparing to slice her to pieces before consuming.
Elinalise retreated as far as she could, but her feet lacked the strength to compete even with the slow pace of the red bear. Retreating as far as she was able to, she continued to push her body backwards and continued to push until-
‘Thud.’ A dry sound came from behind her, abruptly stopping her retreat. Glancing back, Elinalise saw what she imagined it to be. A tree stood in her way as if saying ‘end of the line’
“I give up” With a laugh, as dry as the tree behind her, she slumps her arms and dispels all the energy she had remaining.
The red bear saw all this and laughed, as if it was amused. Completely satisfied with this spectacle, the bear decided it was time to enjoy the meal.
With its already raised claws, the red bear approaches Elinalise and-
Leafs rustle and the sound of a kick reverberated in the area.
The red bear, not expecting this, was sent a few steps back.
Elinalise couldn’t believe what she was seeing.
“Are you okay? We have to run now”
The man that kicked away the red bear had black hair and torn clothing. His chest was swelling, his left arm hanging loosely and his breathing heavy.
“Idiot” Those words came out almost immediately from Elinalise. A different type of tear ran down her cheeks.
The man didn’t heed those words. He grabbed her hand and began running.
‘This man was definitely injured in another fight, yet he came rushing here to save me.’
Elinalise was completely puzzled by the man pulling her. Who would run to help a complete stranger in trouble with those injuries?
But even if she thought that, Elinalise still tightened her grip on the hands that were trying to save her.
The red bear was struck dumb for a second, looking at its prey get away, but for some reason it didn’t show any trace of anger. The face of the red bear contorted, showing a grin, one that displayed all his sharp fangs, saliva still running from its mouth. The red bear produced a roar, a roar that carried a hint of happiness.
The red bear loved hunts and a running prey was the most amusement it could get. Inflicting terror and despair on its prey, it fed from those.
Setting its new target, the red bear begins running after them on its two legs. With a roar that symbolized the start of this new hunt.
When I reached the area, the situation was a perilous one. Bodies were lying all over the place, only one girl remained.
She calls me an idiot for some reason but I ignore it and take her hand.
The red bear would definitely recover from that kick. I didn’t have time for idle chitchat. If we want to get out of here alive, every second counted.
Pulling her body up, I feel a sting in my chest. This girl didn’t exert any strength in getting up, making me use more strength than necessary to pull her up.
‘What is she even doing?!’
Even when we were running, I felt like I was pulling a cart. I was the one using my strength to pull her while she was just letting her body follow the direction of my strength.
It was extremely painful on my injured self.
“Girl, what are you doing?! If you want to live, move your own fucking body!”
I unconsciously curse her, but it seems to have a positive effect as she woke up from her trance and begins moving with her own strength.
A series of roars came from where we were and sounds of heavy steps could be heard from the distance.
‘The bear has begun its chase’
That red bear that wiped out all her party members was a Blood Bear. It’s an extremely vicious mana beast that enjoyed slaughtering and torturing its victims, causing everyone to regret ever living when they encounter this monster. It was definitely in a class of its own in this forest.
I don’t know what that Blood Bear was doing this close to the edge of the forest but that was some terrible luck for her, and me apparently.
Retracing my steps around the forest, we were both running out of breath. The Blood Bear was following close behind us, running on 2 feet.
The sight was amusing to behold but in the current situation, it was more like pedobear chasing us and it wasn’t the time to laugh at that.
Even on two feet this 2.4m Blood Bear was drawing closer and closer. The advantage time we had felt like a lie.
I try to keep my calm as best as I could. The Blood Bear was still a fair distance away from us and it would not be possible for the Blood Bear to reach us in time.
It was as though the Blood Bear read my mind.
With a groan, the massive 2.4m bear drops on all fours and begins running at practically twice its original speed.
“You have got to be kidding me!” I shout, releasing a fair amount of my remaining breath stupidly.
I begin to lose oxygen and my mind gets hazy for a second.
‘But I am definitely not going to die here!’
I open my mouth and take one big gulp of air.
Exerting the remaining strength in my right arm, I lift the girl and place her on my right shoulder.
If I kept pulling her with my hand, the Blood Bear would most likely get to her first. I definitely don’t want that scenario playing out after all of this.
The girl screams with a “Wah!” resisting for a second before staying put.
‘Huh?’ I felt a strange humid sensation from my right shoulder. I didn’t mind it as I kept running but for a second I saw that the girl I was carrying was blushing heavily.
“Groooaaaaar!” A heavy roar came out from the Blood Bear. The roar of this beast carried such a force that it felt like it was trying to pin me down.
My energy was running low as I continue running with even more gas than before due to the increased weight but the Blood Bear was still closing in.
An intense ray shone the way. With the exit now in sight, we would arrive at the plains soon, a safe area where the guards would most likely spot us.
Counting on this chance and that ray of hope, I sprint forward to the forest exit but-
A strong gust comes from the back and smashes a tree and falls to the ground, its top completely covering the way to the plains.
I stop running, unable to believe what just happened.
“The Blood Bear just now… used a magic spell, wind blade”
The girl I was carrying said this with a voice that was clearly as surprised as me. She most likely saw the whole thing from the back, confirming my suspicions.
The girl begins to move, telling me that she wanted me to let her down. I do so and she immediately stares at one place, I follow her and look at that same place.
There, the Blood Bear standing on its two feet again, had one of its paws lifted with a face that carried as much emotion as any human being. One that said “you are mine now.”
Mana beasts are intelligent beings, I already knew that. But I couldn’t believe it until I saw it for myself. This Blood Bear was toying with us from the very beginning. It gave us extra time to run before running after us, running on two feet before going on all fours and now using a magic spell, wind blade, to block our escape route.
This mana beast was able to do all of those before and yet, it gave us hope before crushing it right in front of our eyes.
Just now do I realize the reason why this Blood Bear is considered a torture machine. It is a vicious monster that feeds not only on flesh, but on fear and despair itself.
I grit my teeth and look at my side. The girl beside me had long since fallen to the ground assuming the same position she had before I rescued her.
“We are getting out of here.” I say this while avoiding her gaze, looking at the waiting Blood Bear.
“Eh? There is a way?” the girl asks, getting up and clinging to my side.
Her trembling hands grip my sleeve.
“There might be a way, but I need to confirm this. Are you a mage?” Saying this, I shift my gaze to the girl, checking her garment.
She is wearing light clothing, a robe with a blue emblem that has a cut in the middle and a mini skirt, and she is carrying a short staff with a crystal on her back.
If she isn’t a mage, I don’t know what she is anymore.
The girl didn’t take long to answer my question.
“I see, then what kind of spells can you use?” I ask this, returning my sight to the Blood Bear.
The Blood Bear stood still all this time, just watching as we were talking, most likely waiting for us to struggle more.
“I… I am able to use water and fire magic up to tier 3” the girl says nervously.
I was surprised. The girl here looked younger than me, yet she could perform up to tier 3 magic.
I read in books that magic has up to 8 tiers and those tiers are even more difficult to escalate than any other class. The average level right now is that people at 15 years could only perform tier 2 magic. Only with constant research and practice could one climb the stairs of magic.
‘Tier 3 is more than I expected.’
The magic at each tier differed in their power by a lot. The Blood Bears’ ‘Wind Blade’ is a magic of tier 2 and yet, it managed to blow off a thick tree. With a tier 3 magic, it would take down 6 trees before it disappeared.
“Good, then use a tier 3 water class magic to delay its movements, I will handle the rest.”
I say this and grip my sword.
The girl’s gaze just swims about and responds with “I… I don’t have the mana though”
‘Then why did you tell me that you can use it?!’
If I ask you what magic you can use it’s because I want you to use it now, right?!
The girl seems to notice my internal fury. Letting my sleeve go, she frantically swings her hands around, “B-But I have enough for a number of tier 2s!”
Say that from the beginning! Were you looking for praise?!
“Ok, then do that. I will take care of him. In the mean time you will run.”
“Eh?” The girl stares at me, dumbfounded.
“What are you saying? You will die!” The girl rapidly grips my sleeves again, this time with even greater force and begins shaking me.
“You are dead weight. I’m strong but with you by my side I can’t fight properly, so I’m telling you to scram.” I try to shake her off with these words… but her grip only got stronger, so strong I began questioning her job as a mage.
Tears began flooding her already dry eyes, her gaze completely concentrated on my eyes.
“Don’t think I’m a fool!”
With a resolute voice I haven’t heard of from her, she shouts at me but her ranting continued.
“What can you do with that body?! What can you do with that sword?! Why did you come running for me?!” A storm of questions came out one after the other, each time her body dropping lower.
“Everything is my fault. All the bad luck just comes to haunt me! Everyone involved with me will face tragedy, just leave me here! If you leave me, there might be a chance the Blood Bear will ignore you while it eats me!”
Loosening her grip, she falls to the ground, tears streaming down her cheeks.
I couldn’t stand watching. I walk up to her, sheathing my sword, I pick her drooped body by the collar and force her to look at me.
“Girl, it was my own choice that I came for you. Whatever happens to me now is because of me. I don’t want you telling me that the blame lies somewhere else when I was the one who made that choice.”
Finishing my sentence, I release her from my grip. I grip my sword and face the Blood Bear again.
If the girl didn’t have the will, I won’t be forcing her.
It’s impossible to get away from the Blood Bear with both of us alive. Once one of us runs, the Blood Bear will resume its hunt, but now that it’s come to this I will just have to see it through.
With trembling steps, I walk towards the Blood Bear. The Blood Bear’s expression seemed to be surprised by this but soon turns into a grin.
“Wait!” a voice calls from behind me. I stop advancing and look without turning back.
The girl was standing while holding her staff in both hands.
“I will fight alongside you! That… is my choice!”
Her voice was trembling but her resolve could be felt through it.
I return my sight to the Blood Bear, preparing my stance I shout back at her.
“I see! Then there is nothing I can do. My name is Youma, I will be counting on the support!”
“Elinalise Freyhart at your service!”
Without looking back, I step up and push my body forward. Facing the giant Blood Bear whose face was now full of anticipation at its oncoming meal.