Treetops rustled as two shadowy figures crouched among the branches overlooking a meadow. They had seen the bright flash of light from a distance and had come quickly to their destination.
“Look there brother, it is just as it told us.” One of the shadowy figures pointed towards the ground beneath the trees.
“Good, let us finish this quickly. It's bad enough we have to come all this way for a human. Let’s just grab him and hurry back.” The other shadowy figure said impatiently and was about to jump down to the forest floor but was halted by its companion, “Wait… someone approaches. Now of all times?”
“Then let’s just kill whatever it is and be done with it!”
“No brother, there are more coming this way. We will wait for an opportunity! Let’s leave before they find us.”
The two retreated quickly away from the group converging on the meadow.
“Haaa………” I woke up suddenly, breathing heavily, and frantically reached out, grasping at anything in my surroundings that could comfort me.
My hands could only feel dirt. Dirt? What the hell?
I was having difficulty using my eyes, they felt like they had been blinded by an intense light. As I struggled to make out anything about my current situation, I trembled from the remnants of the deep, primal fear that I had experienced as I was losing myself to that abyss. I had survived the fall through that darkness! Moreover, I seemed to be in one piece and completely unharmed. I could vaguely remember what happened, it was a mystery how I had managed to survive such an experience. Was it even real?
When I finally managed to clearly make out my surroundings, my vision was filled with a clear blue sky and a multitude of trees. Trees? Am I in a forest? How the hell did I get in a forest!?
I tried to get up, but I was still too weak. My head throbbed intensely. With a groan, I was about to raise my hands to my aching head, when a blade abruptly appeared in my line of sight, its tip pointing at my throat. I reflexively crawled backwards, supporting my upper body with my hands so that I could look upwards at the owner of the blade. What I saw was surprising, it was a young woman gripping the blade which was pointed at my neck. The expression on her face was fierce and filled with anger.
Are those animal ears protruding from her head? I had to do a double take before I could believe my eyes. Are those real? Now I know I must be dreaming. Nevermind, that sword is definitely pricking my throat.
“Umm...Hi..” Damn, that was lame.
The animal (Raccoon? Rat?) woman didn’t respond. The woman was covered in dirt and grime and her hair was a tangled mess, but she still managed to exude a sense of feral grace and beauty. She had a leather vest on and appeared to be quite physically fit. Besides the inhuman ears, I glimpsed a bushy tail stiffly sticking out from her behind. Her hair was strangely platinum in color and her eyes were an emerald green.
This can’t be what I think it is… can it? Did I get transported to a parallel world? I didn’t even get to meet a goddess. Where’s my cheat skill!? I don’t feel anything different….
“#$%#$%#$%#%#$#@$#$%#^#$^$%&^$%#$%#$^@#$” The Demihuman woman spoke to me but I couldn’t understand her words, it sounded like gibberish to me.
This will probably be a dumb question but might as well give it a try, “Do you speak English?”
She looked at me strangely, slightly tilting her head. The way she tilted her head to look at me was cute.
“@$@%$#^@^#” I guess that’s a no on the English. What to do?
“Geez, what a pain. Do you think you could move this blade away from my throat, I’m afraid I might sneeze and cut myself.” I knew asking would be pointless, but I tried nonetheless.
This time she didn’t respond, she just looked at me as if she were inspecting a bug. Her actions were somewhat animal like, but adorably so. I assume she felt I wasn’t a danger to her because she moved her blade away from my throat and slid it back in her sheath. Now that I no longer felt my like my life was in danger, I sat up a little more comfortably.
“@[email protected] She seemed to be talking to herself, since she looked away as she said that.
She surveyed the surroundings with a worried expression. Following her eyes, I too glanced at the surroundings. We seemed to be in a small meadow, circled by a dense forest.
The dense forest gave off an oppressive feeling, as though it was the maw of some vicious beast Though it was daytime, the forest was shrouded in a light layer of darkness. An assortment of sounds poured from the forest, indicating its vibrant animal life, as the strange trees slightly swayed in the afternoon breeze. Since I had lived my entire life in urban areas, I could not identify the trees, but even I could tell that they weren’t normal as they gave off a subtle creepy vibe. The vibrant forest with a subtly creepy atmosphere was surreal.
The strangely animalistic girl crouched as she continued to survey the forest, her ears twitching and her bushy tail slightly swaying behind her body. Did she discover some dangerous animals nearby? After some more examination of the young woman, I realized that she had a predominantly human appearance. Of course, being a fan of light novels, I was familiar with the concept of Demihumans, but I never thought that anything like that could possibly exist. Are they a product of a human and an animal? How does that even happen? Questions for another time I suppose, can’t even communicate with her.
I wonder what kind of Demihuman she is? Raccoon? No, maybe a fox? I honestly can’t tell the difference. I was never much of an animal or nature lover to begin with. I mean, I liked dogs and I admired lizards and birds, but that was pretty much it.
I decided to once again attempt to stand up. I slowly got up, keeping my motions steady and non-aggressive. I made sure not to make any sudden movements. I didn’t want to startle the young woman. I would prefer to keep my life intact, and I didn’t think that the young woman was completely stable.
She completely disregarded me as she quietly stared off into the forest. Her hand caressed the pommel of the blade, ready to unsheathe it at a moment’s notice. As my clothes were disheveled, I dusted the dirt off them quite loudly. Her ears twitched in response and she gave me a harsh look, with one finger on her lips.
How unexpected, we actually share the same nonverbal gestures. What is she doing anyway? It looks like she is going on high alert, but I can’t sense anything nearby.
Just when I was about to ask her what she was doing, her left hand grabbed a dagger from her boot, and she flung it straight at me. At that moment, I thought I was about to die, but instead of hitting me, the dagger flew past me at a frightening speed.
THUNK! That doesn’t sound good!
I quickly turned around and came face to face with a horror straight out of a Tolkien novel. It snarled, baring its fangs at me. It swung its weapon and my body moved on its own. I took a step backwards while shielding my face with my arms. I hadn’t even had a chance to get a good look at the creature.
Time seemed to slow as my adrenaline kicked in due to the high stress situation I found myself in. I could just barely make out the weapon that was bearing down on me. Before it could strike at me, I felt a powerful wind blow right past my face and the monster’s head, which had previously been quite attached to its body, flew right off. With one shot, a clean cut and a deadly blow! Blood immediately gushed from its neck like a geyser just missing me.
I gagged at the sight and had to force myself to swallow the vomit attempting to climb up my throat. I had never seen such a gruesome thing before and was unaccustomed to it. I realized how close I had come to death, if the Demihuman woman hadn’t thrown the dagger and then saved me with her attack, I would be dead.
As the body of the monster fell, a strange sensation came over me. A black mist swirled from out of the monster’s wound and flew towards me. I stepped backwards but I didn’t react quick enough and the black mist entered my body. At that moment, excruciating pain wreaked havoc on my mind causing me to tear up. It felt as if something were trying to claw its way out of my brain. I fell to my knees with both hands clutched against my head.
Black flames flared up around my hands, circulating and spiraling up and down my arms uncontrollably. I continued to grasp my head, I felt as if I could claw out my eyes if it would only end the pain. I could just barely make out the young Demihuman woman staring at me cautiously but the tears blurred my vision.
(Mysterious Woman P.O.V.)
I can smell the stench of my prey, they are close now! As a Demihuman of the Foxkin tribe my senses were far superior to that of a human and I could track by smell within a certain range.
I was hunting a pack of Kobolds that had been attacking humans along the King’s road for some time. They attacked any merchants or travelers that passed by and then they would escape into the forest. Monsters such as these were not truly living things. They were beings created by the magic crystals within them and their sole purpose was to kill anyone they came across. They lacked any semblance of morality or purpose other than to seek the lives of both Humans and Demihumans. They could not be reasoned with and they could not be dissuaded from their bloodlust.
This particular group of Kobolds had become quite a nuisance as of late and a reward had been posted for their extermination. Their origins were most likely from a nearby dungeon. All monsters spawned from the dungeons and dungeons which began to overflow with monsters would then send them forth to hunt other living beings. This was the main reason why the Adventurer’s Guild was born and as an adventurer myself, I had accepted the quest to hunt them down.
If they continued to be a problem, then other adventurers might find their way into the forest. The forest was home to my tribe’s village and we lived in seclusion not wishing to engage in contact with Humans. I was the only one willing to leave the village and to walk among Human civilization. I didn’t blame my people though, there was much history between Humans and Demihumans. Demihumans were often killed or captured and made slaves by Humans, predominantly in the Empire to the south but it wasn’t completely uncommon in the Northern kingdoms.
Three of the Kobolds that I was hunting had already fallen to my blade, but there were still several that had escaped. I had been chasing them for a few hours now, deep into the forest. The forest was moderately dangerous, but nothing that I couldn’t handle.
Among the Foxkin of my tribe, I was the strongest warrior. This was the reason why I had success as an adventurer. Many other Foxkin were proficient with magic but not many were both proficient in magic and proficient in close quarter combat like me. While my tribe excelled in magic, they were physically weaker than most other species, including Humans. There were exceptions of course, I was one such exception.
Despite my thoughts, I made my way silently through the brush and brambles littering my way. My strong sense of smell was leading me right to my quarry.
There! They are straight ahead! I picked up my pace and unsheathing my blade, I whispered a simple chant. I slid my hand across the blade of my sword with care, so as to avoid injury, and the sword dimly glowed with the power of ‘Wind Element’ reinforcing it. None of these actions dulled my movements in the slightest, as I had diligently honed my skills through difficult training and many battles.
Reinforcing the blade with attributes was important, in order to use my special attacks. With this, I could quickly use my ‘Gale Sword’ attack, which could cleanly and quickly slice through bone with razor sharpness. It depended on the strength of the monster itself, but a Kobold would not be able to survive an attack like this. It was possible to use similar attacks strictly through martial skills, but my fighting style relied on magical reinforcement.
I jumped out into the middle of a small forest meadow, hoping to catch my prey by surprise, but I was immediately blinded by an intense light and was momentarily disoriented.
What is going on? I landed clumsily, almost falling, something which had never happened to me before. Is this a spell? No, I didn’t sense the presence of any other creatures, and it would have to have been powerful magic to hide all traces of life to that extent. There were no monsters within the forest that were capable of such magic.
I was temporarily blinded, and reflexively shielded my eyes with my hands. When the light dissipated, I still could not see but I knew that it would be temporary and that my vision would soon return.
Is that a human I smell? My vision slowly came into focus.
It is a human! Was he the cause of that blinding light? What was that power? Regardless of who this human is, because of him my prey has escaped again! I approached the human with a threatening glare and pointed my sword at his neck. He didn’t budge but I didn’t sense that he was a threat.
“#@$$@*$” I couldn’t understand his words and I didn’t recognize the language the Human spoke.
I can’t understand what he is saying, it isn’t like any human language I have heard before. Is he not from the kingdom of La’gun? He doesn’t appear to pose any danger.
I sheathed my sword at my side and decided to question him in the Human tongue.
“Human, who are you and how did you get here? What was that light that blinded me?” He didn’t seem to understand what I was saying which made me sigh in frustration.
“@$@#%#^#^$^#%#%*&@#$#$%^$^^$#%^%^$#%#$%#%#” He spoke again, longer this time, but the words were still incomprehensible to me.
Really, what a strange language. Maybe he is from a foreign kingdom that I have never heard of, then, how did he get here? Does it have something to do with that light? Was he somehow transported here? If so, that would be legendary magic, the likes of which I have never seen.
“I don’t have time for this!” I picked up the scent of Kobolds again, they seemed to be coming closer and not heading in the opposite direction.
Are the monsters being attracted back here because of that bright light? I immediately prepared my sword by unclasping the sheath and I also prepared a dagger for throwing. I quieted my breath and surveyed the surrounding trees.
It seems that all the Kobolds I am chasing are advancing on our position. Perhaps they thought they had an advantage because of the bright light. Either that or this was their intention all along, to drag me deep into the forest where they could attempt to surround and kill me.
The magic reinforcement on my sword was still in effect and I was fully prepared for any attack. It was then that the human decided to stand up and brush the dirt off his clothes, making a loud noise in the process.
“Shhh!” Does he have no sense of his surroundings? He is completely unguarded.
The monsters clearly heard the noises he was making and decided that was the moment to strike. One of them approached the Human from behind and was about to stab him with a spear. I threw my dagger as swiftly as I could and ran, it would not be enough to kill the Kobold, but it would distract him long enough to save the Human. As an adventurer, I couldn’t just let someone be killed right in front of me. If the Human turns out to be a threat, I will deal with him then.
The dagger hit its target with a THUNK! The human turned around and used its arms to shield itself awkwardly, while stepping back away from the Kobolds spear. My dagger had given the Human time to avoid the monster’s attack and I quickly sped past the human and swung my sword, unleashing my ‘Gale Sword’ attack. My blade cut through flesh and bone with no resistance, relieving the Kobold of its head.
Blood gushed forth from the open wound where the Kobold’s head once was. I had saved the human but he suddenly cried out in pain while holding his head and falling to his knees. I wasn’t sure what happened but as he fell, a strange black flame spread along his hands and arms. It gave off an ominous light and abnormal heat.
Those flames sent chills down my body and a sudden familiar feeling washed over me. I couldn’t describe it and I had never seen anything like this happen before. The flames were clearly from the Human’s body, was it magic!? I have never seen such a spell.
I didn’t have time to think long on it, my prey approached.