I open my eyes. I am lying down on the hard ground. Well I am lying on top of some leaves and grass, but it does not make for much of a bed. Where am I?
I am in a forest, next to a large cliff face, that hangs over just a tad, providing a little bit of shelter from the elements. It looks to be late morning, just based on the low-ish altitude of the sun, whose beams are filtering through the trees. Every direction I look, all I can see are trees.
I sit upright. That’s right, we escaped from Heimos last night. Neither Hardoen or I knew what the fuck that giant monster was. That thing was nuts, it was wiping out the entire city like it was nothing. So many dead people, probably Sarah too. She’s probably also dead. Everyone around me is dying, only Hardoen is left.
Wait, where is he? I look around, but Hardoen is nowhere to be found. Did he die? No, we escaped together and spent most of the night running through the forest. But he’s not here now, he must of abandoned me. I can’t say I blame him, I must be like dead weight. I feel like I’m dead weight right now.
Everyone’s gone, I’m alone in this stupid world now. Michael. Why did you have to leave me? Didn’t you say you were going to protect me? My body feels numb and very heavy. My chest is really tight, it’s difficult to breath. I feel like I’m being crushed by the weight of it all.
There just isn’t a point to it anymore is there? I pull my pretty dagger from its sheath on my belt. My last memento of Michael, the only proof now that he ever existed. I press the blade against my wrist and start dragging it across my skin. This is enough right? I mean I don’t have to do this anymore?
As I drag the blade slowly across my wrist with a shaking and unsteady hand, I feel the pain from the cut. It is a welcome sensation. It feels real.
Blood is leaking onto the blade, staining it red. Oh crap, I’m making his present dirty, I feel like I’m defiling his precious gift somehow. I pause with a moment of hesitation, but ultimately find my resolve. I’m sure he’d forgive me.
As I’m about to continue cutting, I hear a rustling sound, something is coming. I chuckle inwardly, what a waste of time. Here a monster is coming to finish the job. I stop slitting my wrist and instead await my fate patiently.
Hardoen! He emerged from the trees and is carrying a bunch of twigs and branches. I quickly hide my dagger and my wrist. What is this feeling of guilt?
“Oh, you’re awake?”
I nod slowly.
“Well, I hate to put you to work right away, but we are losing the daylight hours here, so you’ll just have to bear with it.”
What is he saying? There’s work to do? He dumps his sticks in a pile and then picks something up off the ground and carries it over to me.
“Here, I need you to try and skin this.”
He hands me a bird. No this is not a bird, what is this thing. It’s big, bigger than a chicken. It looks like some kind of monster. It doesn’t have much feathers aside from its wings and most of its body is covered in some kind of leathery skin. Its claws are serious business though, they are really big and sharp, and glint in the sunlight like they are made of steel or something.
“You have the only weapon between the two of us.”
Seriously doesn’t this guy realise I’m a girl, how can he be so boorish? Well I suppose in this world this sort of thing is probably pretty common. I sigh and resign myself to the grisly task at hand.
Hardoen gets to work building a small campfire in a patch of clear dirt. He lines it with stones and fills it up with branches, sticks and dry leaves. He then reaches into his side pouch pulls out a small glass vial, with an orange liquid inside of it. After uncorking the vial, he pours a few drops of the liquid onto the campfire and then returns the vial to his pouch.
Now he’s just sitting there staring at the unlit campfire, what’s he doing exactly? All of a sudden the campfire starts smoking and flames start encasing the dry leaves. He must of bought some potions from an alchemist at some point. I wonder what else he has in that bag of his.
Come to think about it, I really don’t know anything about this guy. He doesn’t interact with his party much aside from participating in and planning for combat. All I really know about him aside from his role as a priest, is that he is pretty smart and kind of a total dick.
Hardoen carries on tending to his fire, which honestly does not require much work at this point and leaves the bulk of the work to me, that is to say skinning this damn ‘bird’. It is really hard, really gross and takes a really long time. And that asshole leaves all of it to me. Strangely enough though, the whole time while I was working my but off to skin this damn thing, I found the work to be really soothing.
“I’m done.” I hand the now skinless, feet-less and headless bird to Hardoen. I had to also cut it open to carve out its insides, and It is still covered in blood.
“Not bad, you’re a natural.” He takes the bird and inspects it. He flicks the bird around hard, shaking off most of the excess blood and puts a stick through it and rests it on top of some stones that he had stacked up to support it above the fire. The fire itself at this point has mostly been reduced to burning hot coals.
“Uh. I need to clean my dagger and my hands. Actually I’m quite thirsty as well.”
“Unfortunately I haven’t spotted a water source yet. We are gonna have to go without for now. As for cleaning up, I recommend you wipe off with some leaves in the meantime, not much else can be done about that at the moment.”
“Right.” I pause, wondering about something, “Say where did you get this monster bird from, did you kill it?”
“Where’s your staff?”
“Lost it in all the confusion back at Heimos.”
“How did you kill the bird?”
“I was out looking for something for us to eat. That thing just came charging in from the sky, it clearly wanted my face for lunch. So while it was charging straight for me, I introduced it to ‘Respite’. And then when it was writhing in pain on the ground, so I kindly introduced its skull to a nearby rock.”
“Defense, offense, buffing and now hunting, is there anything you don’t use that spell for?”
“Cutting down trees. Tried that out once, it doesn’t really work.”
I can’t even comprehend what this guy is getting at. “Wait, so you can cast spells without your staff?”
Hardoen carries on turning the roasting ‘chicken’. “Sure. Any magic user can cast spells without using a channeling tool or weapon. It’s just wasteful, uses much more energy and the result is often weaker.”
“Does that mean you left me alone while I was sleeping, in a forest full of monsters!”
“Relax I cast ‘Ward’ last night before we went to sleep and again this morning.”
“Oh that’s right, I haven’t told you yet. After that last tussle with the goblin camp, I became a level three priest.” He is only telling me this now! What’s with this guy?
“Anyway, when I did, I learned two new skills, ‘Ward’ and ‘Sacred blade’. Sacred blade is used to imbue weapons with holy magic, very effective against undead monsters.” Wait did he just say undead, this world has shit like that too?
“And ‘Ward’ is used to create a repelling barrier around an area. Monsters that approach it will instinctively turn away and leave the area. It’s more of a subconscious thing and will only work as long as you haven’t agro-ed them or gotten their attention, but beyond that it’s really effective.”
“I see. It still seems risky though to leave me like that.”
“Sure, but to be honest we’re out in the wild right now with little more than the clothes on our backs. Everything we do is a risk at the moment. Now eat up, breakfast is ready. And we need our strength.”
The smell of the funny looking meat has been getting to me for quite some time now, my stomach is practically clawing at itself already in hunger. Haroen brings out two really big leaves for us to use as plates, they look kind of like water lilies and I use my ‘sort of’ clean dagger to carve pieces of the piping hot meat off for each of us.
We gobble down the meat in relative silence. It tastes funny, maybe a little bit like turkey, but it goes down really easily despite being clearly tough and overcooked. I guess I am just that hungry.
“Is it safe to eat monster meat like this?”
“That’s difficult to answer. Most people seem to think it’s dangerous and certainly some monsters are poisonous. But when compared to regular animals the same could be said anyway. I suspect that It doesn’t matter and that it’s just really taboo. So you should be fine, just don’t go bragging about it too anyone.”
Once we are finished, Hardoen kicks sand on to the coals to put them out. And picks up the bird, stick and all and slings it over his shoulder, holding it be one end.
“Come on let’s go. We can eat the rest of this later, but we have a lot of ground to cover.”
Hardoen starts walking off into the forest and I follow him. “Where are we going?”
“It’s a town mostly north of Heimos.”
“Is it far?”
“I suppose, if you are walking, then it’s really far. But it’s the closest town to Heimos. That’s why when we were running for our lives in Heimos I was trying to leave the town more or less from it’s northern side.”
I didn’t even realise we had been going in a specific direction back then. Come to think of it the sun is rising on our left side. I learned some time ago that the sun rises in the West and sets in the East in this world.
“Wait, you said ‘mostly North’, so we are travelling blind here? Is there not a chance we will totally miss our destination?”
“Doubt it. If we keep going north we will slam into a river that flows mostly North and a bit to the East, that river will take us straight to Denos.”
Man, my hands are really sticky. So is the rest of me for that matter, I could really use a bath. The nice clothes Sarah gave me are also covered in blood. I wonder if she survived, no it seems impossible. But I can hope right? Even if she did though, what are the chances that we would ever see her again, the world's a big place right?
I sigh, my thoughts are turning to Michael again. I can feel the strength draining from my body. My body is going heavy again and I am forced to drag my limbs across the ground to keep up with Hardoen. I really don’t want to go on right now.
Before I knew it I had completely zoned out and lost track of my surroundings, as a result, I bumped into Hardoen’s back when he stopped dead all of a sudden.
He whispers to me, “Goblins.”
What? I look around him and there in the distance I can see a goblin, just standing there staring at us. I only see one though.
“You’re fighting them. I’ll stay back and provide support like normal.”
I glare at him, this guy!
He seems to notice my anger, “You’re the only one with a weapon. Just do it, or we both die here today.”
The goblins seem to have made up their minds about attacking us as the one I was able to see starts charging towards us and two more appear from the trees behind him. I start charging forward to meet them head on, I’m probably being reckless right now, but I can’t really say that it feels like I care much.
I feel Hardoen has cost some kind of buff on me. It feels good, I feel powerful.
The first goblin charges straight at me, sword first, but I am easily able to step out of the path of his blade and hold out my dagger in his path instead. His own momentum easily carries him forward and my dagger slides across his neck effortlessly. He drops to the ground drowning in his own blood. It might be because of Hardoen’s buff having gotten stronger at level three, but has it really become this easy to kill these things?
The other two goblins are almost on top of me, I quickly dart to the side to chase down one of the goblins before they can both gang up on me. I have realised for a while now that elves can actually move pretty quickly, especially compared to most monsters and humans.
I approach my target, but recoil in a moment of surprise. This goblin isn’t wearing any pants! Normally these little critters wear animal skins, not always on their entire body, but at least always around their essential bits. This little fucker in front of me has his dick hanging out for the whole world to see, not only that but it is fully erect!
I swing my foot forward in disgust as he charges me. I plant my foot firmly into his little green balls and he immediately stumbles forward at my feet, writhing in pain. I take the opportunity to plant my dagger into the little shits skull.
I turn around as I hear the final goblin catch up to me, he’s on top of me a bit sooner than I expected. I try to parry his incoming blade with my dagger, but the angle is awkward and I miss. The goblin buries the tip of his blade in my gut. “Aaaargh.” Fuck it hurts. This fucking green turd! I’ve felt my anger steadily growing this last minute and now it threatens to boil over and consume me.
He is just of reach of my dagger, so I lean over and grab the hilt of his sword, that he is still hanging onto and pull both him and his sword a little closer. The sword cuts deep into me, possibly most of the way through me now and my body is wracked with unimaginable pain. But I am smiling. Smiling right into the pits of this monsters eyes as I drive my dagger into one of them.
He lets go of the sword and rolls around on the ground squealing. I collapse to the ground, in a kneeling position, his sword still sticking out of me. My strength has already left me. It hurts.
I notice Hardoen has come over to me. He takes the dagger from my hand and finishes of the now almost defenceless goblin, before returning it to me. I look up at him exhausted.
“Brace yourself, this is gonna hurt.”
Huh? He places his foot against my chest, grabs the hilt of the sword and pulls it out of me in one swift motion.
“Eeeeaaaarrrrggh!” You fucking cunt! The force from his foot knocks me over on my back and I just lay there in pain for a while, devoid of all strength, while Hardoen starts healing me.
Once he is done, he helps me back up, to my feet. My strength is back, but I still feel the after effects of the hole that was in me. Even when you get healed your mind doesn’t forget the pain for a little while.
“There are people there. Where the goblins came from.”
I follow Hardoen over to the corpses of two women.
One is lying face down in the dirt, naked. There is a lot of blood pooled underneath her and it looks like her throat was slit. Her legs are spread a bit. Don’t tell me, the goblin with the erection! He was raping her! And she’s clearly already dead.
I feel sick to my stomach. I can’t stand this world, it’s just too fucked up.
I notice Hardoen walk over to the other woman who is lying face up with a big stab wound on her side. She has also bleed out, but at least she’s still wearing clothes. Hardoen places his fingers on her neck.
“She’s got no pulse, she’s dead. But she’s still warm and the blood around her wound is still wet, she must of just died moments ago.”
He pauses for a moment and then, “Heal.”
It doesn’t seem to have any effect thought. I can’t help but wonder where these woman came from and what on earth they’re doing out here in the forest. Maybe they also ran away from Heimos?
“Hmm. So ‘Heal’ doesn’t work if the heart’s already stopped. Is that what qualifies as dead?’ Hardoen is mumbling to himself. What he does next surprises me though, is he busy feeling up her breasts!
No that’s not it, he is pushing down into her chest quite hard and several times. He then leans over to her and after breathing in deeply, blows air into her mouth, twice.
“What are you doing?” I ask timidly, my voice is practically shaking.
“It’s a little technique I learned to try and get a person’s heart started again. I think if her heart is beating, my ‘Heal’ spell might work again.”
“Is that technique called C.P.R?” I ask him nervously and note the lack of a headache!
Hardoen immediately stops what he is doing and turns to face me, his eyes have gone wide.
“You’re-” He doesn’t even need to finish that sentence.